ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 180


You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how
I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far
ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would
proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human
being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were
apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned
to the city of Damascus.
Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I
stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time
was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing
to you is not a lie.
After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And
still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 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!” And they praised
God because of me.
Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with
Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. I went there because God revealed
to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I
had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in
agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running
the race for nothing. And they supported me and did not even demand
that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile.
Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers
there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked
in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They
wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But
we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve
the truth of the gospel message for you.
And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to
me, for God has no favorites.) Instead, they saw that God had given me
the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had
given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God
who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through
me as the apostle to the Gentiles.
In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church,
recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me

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