The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 23, 2012

11. For I make it known to you brethren, of the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not according to man.
12. For neither did I receive it from man, nor learned it: but through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The remainder of this chapter is addressed to the slander of his opponents, that he was not really an Apostle of Christ. I tell you, and wish all to know, that my Gospel is neither human in its origin, nor taught to me by men, but by direct revelation from Jesus Christ our Lord, in person. This revelation was begun at Saint Paul’s conversion, and carried out in further detail in visions during his prolonged retirement in Arabia or at Tarsus.

13. For you have heard of my conversation at one time in Judaism; that above measure I persecuted the Church of God, and fought against her;
14. And made progress in Judaism above many my contemporaries in age, in my nation, being more abundantly jealous of the traditions of my fathers.

I am no novice or tyro in the religion of the Jews, and am better acquainted with it, more thoroughly understand its bearings, its teaching, its inner significance, than those who are now persuading you to embrace it. The outline of my career and history cannot be unknown to you. And he goes on to remind them how, with the whole energy of his fiery nature, and acute intellect, and pure and ardent love of all that is spiritual and true, he studied the Jewish law, under its most accomplished teachers, until he was thirty years old, and was urged, by his profound conviction of its divinity and truth, to seek to root out and overthrow the faith of Jesus Christ, as being in opposition, as he conceived to the will of God; which he doubtless believed to be, the restitution of the kingdom of Juda, and its deliverance from the Roman power. And both in zeal against Christ, who had advocated submission to the Roman power, and in intimate acquaintance with the institutions and religious belief of his own nation, he confessedly distanced all competitors of his age and generation.

15. But when it pleased him who set me apart from the womb of my mother, and called me by his grace:

In spite of this inauspicious commencement of his career, God had nevertheless separated and set him apart, even when he was in his mother’s womb, and appointed him his herald, minister, and servant, like the Prophet
Jeremias, Jer 1:5. In due time God was pleased to accomplish what he had thus fore-ordained, and called me by His grace, revealing his Son to him, that he might in turn reveal Him to the nations. St. Jerome thinks the revelation here referred to took place on the road to Damascus. St. Thomas thinks it was made, at least partly, during the following three days; others consider that it was subsequent to the visit of Ananias and baptism of St. Paul.

16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the nations: at once I did not rest in flesh and blood.
17. Nor did I go to Jerusalem to the Apostles who were appointed before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again returned to Damascus:

I rested not in flesh and blood. The Greek, I consulted not with flesh and blood. The Syriac: I made it not known to flesh and blood. The Arabic has the same meaning. I began to preach Christ at once, without asking permission of any one. Acts 9:20. By flesh and blood, says St. Chrysostom, he means the Apostles; or if any one prefers to think he means all mankind, I shall not contradict. I did not go to Jerusalem to consult with Peter, John, and James, who were there at that time.

Damascus was at that period the capital of the kingdom of Arabia Petrsea, and the Apostle, when he says he went into Arabia, doubtless means that he preached Christ in the neighbouring country, for three years. This is not mentioned by St. Luke in the Acts, possibly because it was not attended by any remarkable occurrence. St. Luke only says that after many days, that is three years, St. Paul left the country and proceeded to Jerusalem.

18. Then after three years I came to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

I came to Jerusalem to see Peter. The Greek word ιστορησαι means to seek or make his acquaintance; not to learn from him, says St. Jerome, but to pay honour to the first of the Apostles. Saint Chrysostom says the same. Ambrose observes that it was reasonable he should wish to see Peter, not to be taught by him, because he had been taught already by the same authority who instructed Peter, but from respect to his Apostolic office, and to inform him of the wonderful gifts and extraordinary mission he had received. He adds that he remained with Peter fifteen days, which is a proof that he could not have learned from him the religion of Christ, the time being insufficient.

19. But I saw no other of the Apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord.

I saw no other of the Apostles, none of whom, possibly, were at that time at Jerusalem: except Saint James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord, that is, his cousin, being the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, sister of the Blessed Virgin. Saint Luke’s account of this visit to Jerusalem, in the Acts of the Apostles, is very circumstantial, and is given Acts 9:26—30. His life being in danger, he was, by the intervention of the Christians of Jerusalem, shipped off to Tarsus, his native place, where he remained for some years, with his family and friends.

20. And what I write to you, behold before God, that I do not lie.

Before God, I lie not. So many false statements regarding the Apostle’s life and history had been maliciously circulated among the Galatians, that he evidently considers they would have some difficulty in believing him, and accordingly thinks it necessary to confirm his own statement with an oath.

Tarsus was in Cilicia, and parts of Syria were in its immediate neighbourhood. If the conversion of St. Paul took place a.d. 31, the earliest convenient date, he must have remained nine years in this comparative retirement. He could not have met there any of the Apostles, from whom he might have received instruction; neither did he receive it from the Christians of Judea, by whom the heretics declared he must have been taught the necessity of circumcision and of the observance of the law, for he only remained a few days in their country, and they were not even personally acquainted with him. But they knew him only too well by reputation, as the most violent and dangerous adversary they ever had, and his marvellous conversion from a persecutor into a preacher of the faith he once assailed, filled them with astonishment and gratitude to God.

3 Responses to “Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-20”

  1. […] Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-19. On 11-20. […]

  2. […] Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-19. On 11-20. […]

  3. […] Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-19. On 11-20. […]

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