Paul an apostle—not from men, etc.
From whence such boasting? Here is Paul, as we have heard, claiming not to be an apostle from men, but from God.
On the one hand, such words sound arrogant, proud, and without foundation. Cult leaders and others all claim to have God’s calling.
On the other hand, these words from a truly called and truly sent man of God are genuine and true.
The difference between the two, between the one who is not from God and the one who is from God, is determined by their preaching, by their words.
Jesus says, 15 ” Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 ” Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:15-23)
The false preacher might sound ‘right’, but he doesn’t preach according to the Word. The true preacher, however, does preach according to the Word.
Paul’s boasting is right. He hadn’t chosen himself to preach (Acts 9). God had called him. And what did Paul preach—the Good News of sin forgiven in Christ. He preached that only Christ was Savior. His boasting was of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Galatians 6:14). His calling was sure. And this was his confidence, as well as those who heard him. This is also the confidence of those called today of God, and the confidence of those who hear them. Amen.
The reason for our proud boasting is that we are in a divine calling and in God’s own work, and that the people need to be assured of our calling, in order that they may know that our word is in fact the Word of God. This, then, is not a vain pride; it is a most holy prided against the devil and the world. And it is a true humility in the sight of God (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p20-21)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending faithful pastors to preach only your Word. Give us your Holy Spirit that we discern between true and false preachers, hearing the one, but avoiding the other. Grant to your people everywhere faithfulness, and boldness to say what needs to be said. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.