Knowledge and Authority
Gal. 1:11 ¶ For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin;
Gal. 1:12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul did not know Christ when he was alive and nor was he one of the original disciples. There always seemed to be those who questioned his preaching of the gospel because his experience was unique. However, it was in his unique experience, his personal revelation of Christ on the road to Damascus, that provided him with his own first-hand knowledge of the gospel. Paul had experienced the transformational work of the gospel in his own life. The result was a desire to spread the good news about Jesus everywhere that he went.
The knowledge that he had of Christ, his own first-hand experience, was then coupled with the authority that he received. His authority also came from Jesus’ personal revelation and on-going revelations, but also from the disciples themselves. Paul was sent into his ministry by the community of faith and by the calling he received from Christ.
The combination of knowledge and authority led to the success of Paul’s ministry. Note — Paul was not successful because he was able to write up a strategic plan, but because he was given insight and revelation by Christ and was called by God into his work. Throughout his ministry we see that Paul spends time in prayer and seeking the face of the Lord. Jesus leads him from one location to another as he preaches the gospel. He is empowered by the Holy Spirit and many miracles are experienced in his presence. He is able to combine personal knowledge of Jesus Christ with authority and power that reaches out to a needy world and touches them at the point of their deepest need.
What a powerful combination; authority and knowledge! When God’s people experience a call from Jesus then we must respond. This call should be combined with knowledge. Paul had a great education, but that was combined with personal knowledge of the Savior. After his Damascus road experience Paul spent hours and hours in prayer and study as he really got to know Christ. This is the knowledge that we are all called to acquire. Not just a head knowledge but a heart knowledge. We are to know Christ to the extent that we are overcome with the desire and passion to follow him in obedience anywhere that he leads.
The authority for Paul came from Christ and from the Church. This is a powerful combination and one which we thoroughly endorse today. Jesus is still in the business of calling women and men to minister in his name. For those who respond to the call the Church acknowledges that calling and gifting, commending them for service.
For Paul, you could not separate knowledge and authority. For any who are called today we cannot separate them either. The response to the call should be a desire for knowledge coupled with the authority to preach the word given by Christ and the Church. May those who are called by Christ listen in obedience and respond to the call. We cannot be disobedient to the heavenly vision!
Lord, may I be faithful in fulfilling your calling today. Amen.