Paul was in the business of persuading men to be Christians (cf. Acts 26:28), but the word “now” (v.10) implies he used to try to persuade God of something. Back when the Lord was trying to persuade him that He was setting aside the law that said certain meats were unclean, Paul probably did what Peter did and tried to persuade Him it wasn’t so (Acts10:14).
Once Paul was persuaded “we are not under the law” (Rom. 6:15), he taught that to the Galatians. But some troublemaking legalizers persuaded them they were under the law, prompting Paul to tell them: “this persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you” (Gal.5:8). God had called them into grace, not law (1:6), so it must have been men who called them to the law—unsaved men—unsaved Jewish men. At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, saved Jewish men recognized that Paul had been given a new message of grace for the Gentiles. But unsaved Jews refused to acknowledge that dispensational change.
So the Galatians now had a choice. They could either go back to pleasing God by accepting this dispensational change, or go on pleasing those unsaved legalizing men. And Paul could have chosen to please those men too. Going back to the law would have stopped the persecution he was getting from them. But he knew what verse 10 says, that if he yet pleased men he couldn’t be the servant of Christ.
That word “yet” means Paul used to please unsaved Jewish men. Before he got saved, he knew Jesus matched the prophets’ description of the Messiah, but he also knew if he acknowledged the Lord that he’d be put out of the synagogue by those unsaved Jewish men (Jo.9:22). So when his conscience pricked him about it, he kicked against those pricks (Acts 9:5) to please those unsaved men. But Paul knew you can’t be the servant of Christ unless you accept the dispensational change that God made from law to grace.
Men who object to grace tell us, “You’re just trying to please men by telling them they can eat bacon and don’t have to tithe like the law says.” Then they remind us that the law is Scriptural and start quoting it. When they do that to you, do what Paul did and remind them that he wrote new Scripture.
The word “certify” (Gal.1:11) means to put something in writing, i.e., a certificate. So with this epistle, Paul was giving the Galatians a certificate that said his new message of grace was not after man (v.11). He told them that in person when he was there with them in Galatia, but now he was putting it in writing—writing that became new Scripture after their prophets identified it as Scripture (cf. ICor.14:37).
Now when you try to help Christians who think they are under the law, be sure to call them “brethren” as Paul does eleven times in this epistle. He only called the Ephesians brethren twice, but he wanted to be sure the Galatians knew that he knew they were still saved, they’d just “fallen from grace” (Gal.5:4) instead of standing in grace (Rom.5:1,2). That is, instead of standing “in the liberty” wherewith grace has made us free from the yoke of the law (Gal.5:1).
Paul received his message “by revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal.1:12). “Revelation” is the noun form of the word reveal. The Lord revealed Himself to Paul in person over a period of decades (IICor.12:1) and gave him the grace message.
And Paul gave it to Timothy, who gave it to others, who gave it to us. May we adopt Paul’s attitude in I Thessalonians 2:4 and speak his gospel, “not as pleasing men, but God.”
Finally, Paul wasn’t contradicting himself when he claimed he wasn’t a men-pleaser and then said, “I please all men in all things” (ICor.10:33). In the context there, Paul didn’t change the truth of grace back to the law to please men. He let the truth of grace change him so as not to offend others with the truth of grace. May we adopt that attitude as well!
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Paul’s Religious Persuasion – Galatians 1:10-12