There’s a lot of commentary in this section.
16ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, εὐθέως οὐ προσανεθέμην σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι,
He revealed his son in me, so that I might evangelize him among the peoples, immediately Iot did not consult with flesh and blood. (flesh & blood = any person of flesh & blood)
Note: revised the translation here. What I originally had was pretty much gibberish. The verb <<προσανατὶθημὶ>> is a word that evolved. Liddell & Scott cite NT usage as ‘to consult’, which is pretty much what it means here.
16 ut revelaret Filium suum in me, ut evangelizarem illum in gentibus, continuo non contuli cum carne et sanguine
17οὐδὲ ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους, ἀλλὰ ἀπῆλθον εἰς Ἀραβίαν, καὶ πάλιν ὑπέστρεψα εἰς Δαμασκόν.
Nor did I come up to Jerusalem to the apostles for myself, but I went away towards Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.
This is intended to encompass both verses 16 & 17. This is Paul’s version of his conversion. One really significant aspect of this is how different his tale of conversion is from the story we get in Acts. There is no “Road to Damascus”, no being struck blind, none of that. Now, it’s not impossible that those things happened, but Paul’s silence on this has to make us question—at the least—the more famous version of the story. Some modern commenters have gone on record as saying that the two stories simply do not match. And, given Paul’s reluctance to underplay his personal experience and his flair for drama, I’d say we do have to question his silence on the topic.
However, he does agree with the story in Acts that it was a sudden (?) revelation, direct either from Jesus Christ (V 14) or God (V 16). In addition, it is interesting to note that he says that he ‘returned’ to Damascus. When was he there the first time? Was he returning from destroying a group in a nearby town? (cf note to V 13) Is it possible that Paul chose not to tell the whole story here because it would have been a bit redundant at this point? He’s been to Galatia; he’s told his story. Maybe he doesn’t feel like wasting ink and paper going over the story once more since it was well-known to his audience.
This is the sort of unanswerable argument that has kept large chunks of history going for millennia. The lack of the story of the Road to Damascus in this version has often been used as ‘proof’ that Paul’s story was, essentially, different than the one in Acts. But, if you discount some of the after-effects (being blind; being taught, etc) of Acts, there is, at root, nothing to contradict that story that he received his conversion in some sort of blinding—but in a rhetorical sense—moment of conversion. He told us in 1:12 that he received his gospel in a ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’
17 neque ascendi Hierosolymam ad antecessores meos apostolos; sed abii in Arabiam et iterum reversus sum Damascum.
18Ἔπειτα μετὰ ἔτη τρία ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἱστορῆσαι Κηφᾶν, καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε:
Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Cephas (Peter), and remained with him fifteen days.
Peter was an important figure in the early Assembly of Jerusalem. This is an important corroboration of the gospels that were written later. This was written over a decade before Mark, so it’s not like Paul was just repeating what had been handed down. And, since there’s not a lot of reason to suspect that Mark, or perhaps any of the gospel writers with the possible exception of John, had any knowledge of Paul’s letters, it seems like we can be quite confident about the role of Peter in the formation of what would become Christianity because Paul and the gospels are independent sources.
18 Deinde post annos tres, ascendi Hierosolymam videre Cepham et mansi apud eum diebus quindecim;
19ἕτερον δὲ τῶν ἀποστόλων οὐκ εἶδον, εἰ μὴ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου.
I saw none of the other apostles except for James the brother of the lord.
James, The Brother of Jesus !!! This is, IMO, a very significant passage, especially in regard to the doctrine of the virgin birth. Given the matter-of-fact way this is tossed out, as if it were common knowledge, it seems to be a huge indication that the idea of the Virgin Birth had not been invented yet. Otherwise, would Paul have brought this up the way he does? This is why I’ve chosen to take these books chronologically, so that we can see better how the layers start to accumulate.
The notion of the virgin birth first shows up in Matthew, some 30 or more years after Paul wrote this letter. And Matthew got the idea because he was reading from the Septuagint—commonly referred to as LXX, The Seventy—which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture, the Old Testament. In the Hebrew, the relevant passage of Isaiah tells us that a ‘young girl’ will give birth. Which, given that marriage usually closely followed puberty, was fairly standard and hardly anything noteworthy. However, the Greek renders the Hebrew as ‘παρθενος’, which is more properly translated into English as ‘maiden.’ This can mean ‘young girl’, but it has the added layer of virginity. Hence, and Old Maid—a woman who has remained a virgin (well, presumably, in polite company, and maybe back in the day, at least it was assumed…) all her life. She’s no longer young, but she’s still a maid, as in maiden.
Back to James. This is interesting, and a bit tricky. We are told that there are two apostles named James. The first is commonly referred to by scholars as “James the Greater”. He is the brother of John, and one of the sons of Zebedee, who become known as the “Sons of Thunder.” The other is referred to by scholars as “James the Lesser”.
Now, one again, to the best of my knowledge, we are not told in the gospels that the “other” James is the brother of Jesus. We are told in Mark 6:3, that he has a brother James, and we are told that there were two apostles named James, but we are not specifically told that this brother of Jesus is the apostle referred to as James the Lesser.
Now, given that Paul seems to indicate that the brother of Jesus was one of the more important figures in the Jerusalem assembly, it does seem odd that James the Brother is almost completely overlooked in the gospels. However, this is a topic to be picked up more extensively when discussing the gospels, especially the gospel of Mark. In the meantime, suffice it to say that one modern scholar has suggested that James the Brother, had the right to be, or assumed the role of what he calls a ‘caliph’, being a close relative of the prophet. As such, he took a very prominent role in the Jerusalem assembly. There would be cultural precedent for this.
Given this, we have to acknowledge that, after the Diaspora, James almost completely faded from the picture. How much of this was a deliberate attempt to diplace him in favour of the other apostles who later came to be the recognized leaders, and how much was due to the fact that James earlier role was simply forgotten after both his death and the destruction of Jerusalem, is a matter for serious discussion.
19 alium autem apostolorum non vidi, nisi Iacobum fratrem Domini.
20ἃ δὲ γράφω ὑμῖν, ἰδοὺ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι.
However, what I write to you, behold before God, that I do not lie.
Apparently he feels the need for an oath like this to convince us readers. This seems reminiscent of his defensiveness in 1 Thess.
21ἔπειτα ἦλθον εἰς τὰ κλίματα τῆς Συρίας καὶ τῆς Κιλικίας.
Then I went to the region(s) of Syria and Cilicia.
21 Deinde veni in partes Syriae et Ciliciae.
22ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ,
For we were unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea, those (assemblies) in Christ.
In his trips to Jerusalem, he’d only met with a few of the apostles, so he was unknown to the majority of believers.
22 Eram autem ignotus facie ecclesiis Iudaeae, quae sunt in Christo;
23μόνον δὲ ἀκούοντες ἦσαν ὅτι Ὁ διώκων ἡμᾶς ποτε νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει,
For they had only heard that “He who was persecuting then now evangelizes the faith which then he destroyed,”
23 tantum autem auditum habebant: “ Qui persequebatur nos aliquando, nunc evangelizat fidem, quam aliquando expugnabat ”,
24καὶ ἐδόξαζον ἐν ἐμοὶ τὸν θεόν.
And in me they glorified God.