Galatians 1:16-17 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
‘To reveal his Son in me’ – the purpose of his call by grace – Paul was one of the main authors of the New Testament revealing the gospel in practice. His life was a great example of how we are to live today if we want to follow Christ’s example (1Pet. 1:21-23).
‘Heathen’ [Greek: ethnos] nations. Translated: “Gentiles” 93 times; “nations” 64 times; “heathen” 5 times and “people” twice. It simply means any non-Israelite, pagan or Christian (1Cor. 10:32; 12:13).
‘I might preach him among the heathen.’ Paul, not others, was called to work amongst the non-Jews to spread the gospel through his letters.
‘Flesh and blood’ – Meaning man, any man, any human being (Matt. 16:17; 1Cor. 15:50).
‘Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me.’ He had his call and revelation of the gospel direct from Jesus Christ, as did the other apostles (1:12, 15; 2:2; Acts 1:1-3, 21-22; Eph. 3:1-8; 2Tim. 3:16-17).
‘Arabia’ – then included all the kingdom of Aretas from Damascus and east of the Jordan down to Edom in the south. Petra was the capital (2Cor. 11:32-33). It was perhaps into the north part that Paul fled which included Bashan, and which, at that time, was densely populated. Christianity took hold in this part very early, perhaps due largely to Paul himself. How long Paul stayed in Arabia before returning to Damascus is not known. Altogether he was in Arabia and Damascus for three years (1:17-18). Why he speaks of Arabia and Damascus as being different is to emphasize that he did not stay in Damascus for the whole three years. He also went into the rural sections of Arabia. Some think that here is where he received his revelation. This perhaps is true since he associates the three years in Arabia with the receiving of it (1:15-18). He had the revelation before going to see any of the apostles, so it had to be received during these three years before going up to see Peter (1:16-18). Since he would naturally discuss doctrines with Peter (1:18), and since he did not receive his revelation from man (1:16), then it had to be received BEFORE he saw Peter.