“They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. And they glorified God because of me” (Galatians 1:23-24)
The Apostle Paul wrote Galatians in approximately 49 A.D., some sixteen years after his conversion. It was the first of his thirteen letters recorded in Scripture, written to the churches he established during his first missionary journey. In Galatians, Paul defended the sufficiency of Christ alone for salvation. The church had fallen prey to the false teaching that said in order to be saved one also had to be circumcised. This was a denial of the sufficiency of what Christ did on the cross. In the latter part of the first chapter, after expressing his astonishment at their deserting the true gospel, Paul told of his conversion and calling into ministry. He concluded by telling of the response people had at the time to his conversion, “They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. And they glorified God because of me” (Galatians 1:23-24).
Humanly speaking, Paul had a lot to boast about. Think about it, all the churches he founded, the souls saved through his preaching, his commitment to discipleship and his relentless defense of the gospel. There’s no denying his contribution. Yet, Paul’s only boast was Christ. Paul knew that were it not for the grace of God, he would have remained dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1). Therefore, he didn’t seek glory because he knew it belonged elsewhere.
True salvation is always marked by change. Part of that change is a desire to be used by God to further His kingdom. However, we must never take our eye off the fact that it is God who affects the change in each of us. He made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). That truth should always be on the top of our minds and deep in our hearts. What God has done in and through each of us is really never about us, but about Him. The truth is, God did it all and because He did, the glory is His alone. For all the Apostle Paul may have contributed to the Christian faith, it was always God to whom he pointed. And that’s the only place we should ever point as well.