The last William Paul Young post originally included a short comment from Mr. Young on Galatians 1:16 and 17. I have separated it out and commented on it here because it is so provocative I did not want it to get missed.

In Galatians chapter one Paul is telling the story of his experience on the Road to Damascus. Having described what happened to him, Paul goes on to explain how this experience led to his special ministry “among the Gentiles.”

The New Revised Standard Version translation of Galatians has Paul say:

But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:15,16)

In prefacing his comments on the translation of these two verses William Paul Young makes the important point that,

Even if you understand that the scriptures were inspired by God, the translators weren’t. We all come with our paradigms.

Young goes on to point out that Paul’s belief that he was set apart from before he was born means that his “call” includes every aspect of his life from birth to the moment of awakening on the road to Damascus. Young says, there is room in Paul’s story even for “all Paul’s destructive vehemence against the community of faith.”

Young then points out that, like the NRSV, most translators have Paul say,

when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me…

It is the “to” word here that particularly interests William Paul Young. The use of “to” suggests that something was revealed from outside Paul. The revelation he received was external. Young says,

the narrative the translators are working with is that the light was out there. And so Jesus reveals himself to Paul.

But Young suggests,

That’s not what it says.

The Greek word in question here is en; it means “in”.

Interestingly, the King James Version of the Bible gets it right here:

15 it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16 to reveal his Son in me…

So Mr. Young says what Paul is really saying here is,

That revelation happened from the inside out, not the outside in.

The truth that Paul needed to perceive had been in him from his birth. What came to him on the Road to Damascus came from the deepest part of his inner being.

But that is not the really radical thing here. Paul goes on at the end of verse 16 to say that this revelation of Jesus emerged from within him in order that he

might proclaim Jesus among the Gentiles.

The Greek word translated at the end of verse 16 as “among” is “en“, the same word that is translated at the beginning of the verse as “to” in the NRSV or “in” in the KJV translation.

So Young suggests, what Paul is really saying here is that the revelation of Jesus’ presence in (en) him was made known

“so that I could  preach the Gospel in (en) the Gentiles”, or “I could preach Jesus in the Gentiles.”

Young seems to be suggesting here that it is not that Jesus needed to come into the Gentiles from the outside, as if Jesus were some foreign substance that needed to invade their lives. Jesus was already there, unrecognized, unacknowledged, unseen, but always present.

The revelation of that presence of love, truth, light, goodness, and beauty we call Jesus simply needed to be uncovered in the hearts of the Gentiles, just as it had been uncovered in Paul’s heart when he was traveling to Damascus intent on murdering Christians. Like Paul, the Gentiles needed to come to see the divine presence that dwelt already in their lives.

Our task is not to get something we lack, but to discover that which is within (en) us and within all people in their deepest being. The task of evangelism is not to give people something they do not have, but to help them see their true nature, to discover the beauty and truth that reside within.

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