October 6, 2010 + Commentary on Galatians
from The Commentary of St. John Chrysostom on The Epistle of St. Paul to The Galatians
"For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was preached by me that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)
You observe how sedulously he affirms that he was taught of Christ, who Himself, without human intervention, condescended to reveal to him all knowledge. And if he were asked for his proof that God Himself thus immediately revealed to him these ineffable mysteries, he would instance his former manner of life, arguing that his conversion would not have been so sudden, had it not been by Divine revelation. For when men have been vehement and eager on the contrary side, their conviction, if it is effected by human means, requires much time and ingenuity. It is clear therefore that he, whose conversion is sudden, and who has been sobered in the very height of his madness, must have been vouchsafed a Divine revelation and teaching, and so have at once arrived at complete sanity. On this account he is obliged to relate his former life, and to call the Galatians as witnesses of past events. That the Only-Begotten Son of God had Himself from heaven vouchsafed to call me, says he, you who were not present, could not know, but that I was a persecutor you do know. For my violence even reached your ears, and the distance between Palestine and Galatia is so great, that the report would not have extended thither, had not my acts exceeded all bounds and endurance. Wherefore he says,
Ver. 13. "For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and made havoc of it."
Observe how he shrinks not from aggravating each point; not saying simply that he "persecuted" but "beyond measure," and not only "persecuted" but "made havoc of it," which signifies an attempt to extinguish, to pull down, to destroy, to annihilate, the Church.
Ver. 14. "And I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers."
To obviate the notion that his persecution arose from passion, vain-glory, or enmity, he shows that he was actuated by zeal, not indeed "according to knowledge," (Rom. x: 2.) still by a zealous admiration of the traditions of his fathers. This is his argument; --if my efforts against the Church sprung not from human motives, but from religious though mistaken zeal, why should I be actuated by vain-glory, now that I am contending for the Church, and have embraced the truth? If it was not this motive, but a godly zeal, which possessed me when I was in error, much more now that I have come to know the truth, ought I to be free from such a suspicion. As soon as I passed over to the doctrines of the Church I shook off my Jewish prejudices, manifesting on that side a zeal still more ardent; and this is a proof that my conversion is sincere, and that the zeal which possesses me is from above. What other inducement could I have to make such a change, and to barter honor for contempt, repose for peril, security for distress? none surely but the love of truth.
Ver. 15, 16. "But when it was the good pleasure of God, Who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."
Here his object is to show, that it was by some secret providence that he was left for a time to himself. For if he was set apart from his mother's womb to be an Apostle and to be called to that ministry, yet was not actually called till that juncture, which summons he instantly obeyed, it is evident that God had some hidden reason for this delay. What this purpose was, you are perhaps eager to learn from me, and primarily, why he was not called with the twelve. But in order not to protract this discourse by digressing from that which is more pressing, I must entreat your love not to require all things from me, but to search for it by yourselves, and to beg of God to reveal it to you. Moreover I partly discussed this subject when I discoursed before you on the change of his name from Saul to Paul; which, if you have forgotten, you will fully gather from a perusal of that volume. At present let us pursue the thread of our discourse, and consider the proof he now adduces that no natural event had befallen him,--that God Himself had providentially ordered the occurrence. "And called me through His grace."
God indeed says that He called him on account of his excellent capacity, as He said to Ananias, "for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings," (Acts ix: 15.) that is to say, capable of service, and the accomplishment of great deeds. God gives this as the reason for his call. But he himself everywhere ascribes it to grace, and to God's inexpressible mercy, as in the words, "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy," not that I was sufficient or even serviceable, but "that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all His long-suffering, for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe on Him unto eternal life." (I Tim. i: 16.) Behold his overflowing humility; I obtained mercy, says he, that no one might despair, when the worst of men had shared His bounty.
Holy Apostle Thomas - October 6
Thou wast a disciple of Christ and one of the Twelve, and by thy unbelief didst proclaim Christ's Resurrection. By touch thou wast assured of His holy Passion, O glorious Apostle Thomas. Pray to Him to grant us peace and mercy.
Kontakion of St. Thomas, Tone 4
The grace-filled Apostle and true servant of Christ cried out in repentance: Thou art my Lord and my God.