What does Galatians 1:23 mean?
ESV: They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
NIV: They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.'
NASB: but they only kept hearing, 'The man who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.'
CSB: They simply kept hearing, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy."
NLT: All they knew was that people were saying, 'The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!'
KJV: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
NKJV: But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
Verse Commentary:
Paul is making the case for why the Judaizers are wrong that he learned about Christ from the apostles. He has shown he wasn't really even around the apostles for the first several years of his ministry.

In fact, he was gone from Jerusalem and Judea for so long that the Christians in that region only knew him by his two wildly different reputations: Paul—then called Saul—was originally a Pharisee who vehemently persecuted and tried to destroy the church back when he was in Jerusalem. Those who knew of his exploits would have been shocked to hear that the same man was reported to be out in Syria and Cilicia preaching that people could be saved by God's grace through faith in Christ!

In fact, Paul learned about the gospel of God's grace through Jesus from Jesus Himself. He was, truthfully, an apostle, and he wanted his Galatian readers to know they could trust his message about Jesus.
Verse Context:
Galatians 1:11–24 begins with Paul's statement that he did not receive the gospel which he taught to the Galatians from any man-made religion, nor training from other people. He received it from Christ Himself. God revealed His Son Jesus to Paul, by His grace, even after Paul spent years as a Pharisee trying to destroy the Christian church. After Christ commissioned Paul to preach the good news to the Gentiles, he went off by himself for a few years and came to know the gospel through Christ directly.
Chapter Summary:
Paul begins his letter to the Galatian churches abruptly, compared to his other writings. He has heard they are deserting the gospel which he preached and they believed: the good news that Jesus died to fully pay for all our sins on the cross. The Judaizers taught that these Gentiles must also follow the law of Moses to be saved and openly questioned Paul's authority. Paul makes the case that he has been made an apostle by Christ, who appeared to him and revealed the truth to him apart from the other apostles.
Chapter Context:
Galatians 1 begins one of the most-loved books about God's grace in all of Scripture. This and the following chapter detail Paul's biography, as he makes the case that he has been made an apostle by Christ and therefore his message is trustworthy. Chapters 3 and 4 go into depth about exactly what the gospel of God's grace is and why it is true. In chapters 5 and 6, Paul teaches about how Christians should live in the world as people who have received the grace of God through faith in Christ.
Book Summary:
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
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