“Someone is telling me that Galatians 1:23 proves that Paul didn’t get a new message.”
When we teach that Paul had a unique new message, people sometimes respond by pointing out that this cannot be, since it was said of Paul, right after he got saved, that he “preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” They insist that this means that the message he preached existed before he preached it. However, you’ll notice that Galatians 1:23 says that they “heard” this. Have you ever heard something spoken that turned out later to be untrue? That could easily be the case here.
Remember, Paul’s gospel and the kingdom gospel were both centered in Christ, and so when Paul got saved and began preaching Christ, that could easily explain how “the churches of Judaea” (Gal. 1:22) “heard” that Paul preached their faith. They would have had to have heard this second hand, from easily confused unbelievers, since believers were afraid to go near Saul in those early days (cf. Acts 9:26).
If there was any truth to the rumor, then the phrase “the faith” was being used in the generic sense. When this phrase is used by Paul, it refers to the body of truth that was given to him (Acts 14:22; 16:5; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 3:23; Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:23; I Tim. 3:9; I Tim. 4:1; II Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:13). When this phrase is used by Bible writers other than Paul, however, it refers to the body of truth of the kingdom message (Acts 6:7; I Pet. 5:9; Jude 1:3).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.