“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” -Galatians 1:11-12
Here Paul refutes a argument common in his day, and likewise currently, that the gospel was made up by man. Paul’s own evidence is that he did not study under any of the apostles, and in fact didn’t meet them until three years after his ministry had begun. As it states in Galatians Chapter 1, Verses 18-19:
“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles only James, the Lord’s brother.”
Cephas, which means “rock,” in this case is actually Peter. Some dispute this, but when one considers that Christ gives Peter this name in the Gospel of John, and that Paul says, “I saw none of the other apostles,” it indicates to us that he did indeed see at least one of the apostles, Peter, and stayed with him 15 days.
The main point of the passage, however, is that Paul, who himself used to be known as Saul, was preaching a gospel without former knowledge from any source apart from Christ Himself. It was from Christ that he received his new name and the message of reconciliation.
Yet, why all these name changes? It’s not meant to confuse, rather provide clarity and symbolism. When we come to Christ in faith, we are told we become a “new creation,” and that the old has gone (See my note on 2 Corinthians 5:17, “On The Old Overtaken By What is New”). Thus, our worldly name, and those of many people in scripture, are changed to symbolize that they indeed are a new creation. Our names too will change, according to Revelation, when we are finally removed from this tent and live in our heavenly dwelling with the Lord. Revelation 2:17 states:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known to only him who receives it.”
The color white within scripture symbolizes, purity, righteousness, and refinement. We will be pure beings which will be represented by our new names. Furthermore, sometimes after we come to the Lord we can feel rather insignificant, that we are merely a small particular in an aggregate of believers and though we may have a relationship with the Lord, it’s nothing spectacular and may be commonplace in the vast sea of the faithful. Yet, this verse in Revelation is touching because it shows us that our individual relationship with the Lord is unique. In fact, the relationship you have, and will have, nobody else has. That’s how close of friends we are with Jesus Christ (See my note concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). This is an amazing thing to reflect upon and I encourage everyone to do so, and that in love, I pray your relationship with the Lord may grow deeper and infinitely more profound. Amen.