DOES GALATIANS 1:23 DISPROVE DISPENSATIONAL BIBLE STUDY?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” What is “the faith” that Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) preached here in Galatians 1:23? If he preached “the faith” which he once destroyed, does that mean that he was preaching the same message that Peter and the 11 were preaching? (Some claim “yes.”) As long as we do not have a denominational system to defend or a theological speculation to retain, we will define the term “the faith” of Galatians 1:23 as the context defines it.
While Paul certainly preached a different message than what Peter and the 11 preached (see our study linked at the end of this article), there was some overlapping doctrine. Whether in Israel’s program or our program, Jesus was still the Son of God, Christ/Messiah. Whether in Israel’s program or our program, Jesus was still resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:11). It is the same Jesus Christ, the same Redeemer, but different ways of viewing Him and differing roles He plays in Father God’s plan of reconciling the heaven and the earth back to Himself.
Let us first read Galatians chapter 1, verses 21-24, which historically, is near the beginning of Saul’s apostolic ministry: “ Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;  And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:  But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.  And they glorified God in me.”
In verses 11-20 of Galatians chapter 1, Paul discussed his conversion on the road to Damascus and other events early in his ministry. Luke recorded this in Acts 9:1-29. Now, in verses 21-24 of Galatians chapter 1, Paul begins to describe what Luke explained in Acts 9:30-31. Acts 9:30-31 says: “ Which when the brethren knew, they brought him [Saul/Paul] down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus [in Cilicia; cf. Acts 22:3].  Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” These churches in Judaea were Israel’s Little Flock, those Jewish believers from Christ’s earthly ministry and the early Acts period. They had heard, as Paul wrote in Galatians 1:22-24, that he was now a saved man, a believer in Jesus Christ. Saul, the man who had been leading the Israel’s rebellion against Jesus, was now preaching Him! Israel’s Little Flock was amazed to hear such extreme news.
Since Acts 9:30-31 parallels Galatians 1:21-24, whatever “the faith” was that Paul preached in Galatians 1:23, it would be found prior to Acts 9:30-31. Even a casual scanning of Acts chapter 9 will cause us to see exactly what was “the faith” that Paul was preaching, the same basic information that Peter and the 11 were preaching:
“ …Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.  But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.  And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:  But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.  And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.  And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.  And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.”
What was Paul preaching in the synagogues in Acts chapter 9? Was he not preaching that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ/Messiah, the Anointed One of God? That is exactly what Peter and the 11 apostles of Israel preached. While Paul preached more than that about Jesus Christ (as his epistles of Romans through Philemon indicate), Jesus’ Messiahship and His resurrection were two points of doctrine common between Peter and Paul. These doctrines meant different things in Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry. Please see our related studies linked below for more information.
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?
» Does 1 Corinthians 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry with Paul’s ministry?