Found Jesus? Been Saved? Here's the Scriptural Reason You Should SHUT THE FLIP UP!

By Joe Bob Briggs | 02/14/2008

Editor’s note: This exegesis of Galatians 1 by Door In-house Exegete Joe Bob Briggs was written in 1999 and is included in his massive upcoming three-volume Commentary on the Third Epistle of John, available in spring 2023 from Zondervan.

The Exegete sallies forth this day to dispute with Deion Sanders and Jeff Foxworthy, our new brethren, "born agains," as they say, freshly birthed in the spirit of showbiz. And The Exegete wants to take these spiritual babes into his arms, cradle them with love, and speak into their ears:


Ahem. Excuse me for that momentary lapse of scholarly detachment.

Why is it, we might wonder, that celebrities who have been believers for all of ten minutes become the trumpets of salvation? Or should I say, the paper party horns of salvation? Jeff Foxworthy has actually incorporated the J-Man into his comedy act, or at least the version he does at banquets. Deion has not only organized a Dallas Cowboys Bible study, but he's the star attraction at Reverend T.D. Jakes' "Potter's House," which recently received the million-dollar advance from Deion's book about all the drugs he scarfed and the babes he's boffed.

Excuse me, but whatever happened to—oh, just to name a couple—silence and fasting?

The J-Man waited about 30 years before he opened his mouth. (For you nitpickers, I'm not counting the time he went to the temple and played Trivial Pursuit with the rabbis.) But let's use a better example, the life of that mere mortal Paul. Hence his explanation to the Galatians about how he knows they're screwing up:

     "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
     "And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
     "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
     "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: ..."

—Galatians 1:13-16

Let me stop you right there, Paul. So his first instinct after he gets zapped on the Damascus Road is, "I can't possibly talk to any human beings about this." Deion, have you gotten to this one in Bible study yet? Okay, continue:

     "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; ..."

—Galatians 1:17

Paul doesn't even wanna talk about this with the High Holy Men, and he's a High Holy Man himself from way back.

     "... but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."

—Galatians 1:17

Where does he go? He goes into the goldang desert. Who's in the desert? Nobody. We know that he stayed out there in Lawrence of Arabia Land three years, from A.D. 35 to 38, returning to Damascus only two or three times for toilet paper. And Paul, at this point, was a guy who was used to getting the double executive suite at the downtown Marriott. He wasn't the kinda guy who liked to wake up with creepy-crawlies on his nose.

     "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
     "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."

So even when he does go up there to see the high sheriffs, he goes as a student. He goes up there to ask Peter what the hayull is happening to him. And, of course, it's gotta be huge news for Peter, who remembers him as the guy who was on the wrong side of the courtroom when Stephen was murdered. Not to mention the two years Paul spent "making a havoc" of the church. This dude was Super-Jew, the believer's worst nightmare, showing up like a beggar in the street, asking if he could sit around and soak up the vibes.

This is probably the moment Peter should have bought some infomercial time on The Jerusalem Network and trotted Paul out for fund-raising purposes, don't you think? You know what he did instead? Sent his butt back to Antioch. Didn't even try to give him a job. Paul kept his mouth totally shut for another seven years.

And then what?

     "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
     "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."

—Galatians 1:20-24

In other words, Paul visited a bunch of churches and said, basically, "Hey, remember me?" And then he told them his old name, Saul, and they went "Son of a goldang bitch, are you kidding? Is it really you? Don't stone me, okay?" Which is basically the process of "glorifying God in me." You could say, at this point, ten years after his conversion, that Paul has partially opened his mouth. He's opened it just enough to say, "Oh yeah, by the way, I'm the guy who used to kill Christians." Okay, keep going.

     "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
     "And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain."

—Galatians 2:1-2

Finally Paul feels like he can actually preach. He can actually say what he knows. The sense of the Greek here is that he went again to Jerusalem fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem, putting him there in the year 52, meaning that he spent seventeen years getting ready to preach. And he tells us exactly why he did it that way, in the letter he wrote to the Romans:

     "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me ..."

—Romans 15:18

He doesn't dare. He's terrified. He wants to be dang sure that whatever he's saying is not part of Saul, the old Christian-hating lawyer, but Paul, the new guy, the guy who doesn't have any opinions, the guy who's made himself into a direct conduit for whatever The Big Guy is saying. He wants to be sure he's not talking about what belief is supposed to look like, but what it really does look like, in all its strangeness.

There used to be some preacher in Dallas who would say, "There's nothing more powerful than the testimony of a new believer."

Paul begs to differ.

If Deion and Jeff really are "born again," then let's all remember what comes out of the mouth of babies right after they're born. I believe the technical term for it is "puke." Sometimes, if the baby is precocious, the puke is accompanied by unintelligible gurgling noises. It's cute, but let's let Mama take care of it, preferably somewhere out of our eyesight, okay?

The Exegete rests.


Marie | 10:31 am on 2/15/2008

I truly enjoyed reading your article.....It opened my eyes to seeing things I have struggled with in a whole new way.....You spoke to me in my language I could understand and relate too. It also lifted the cloud of quilt or condemnation or whatever you want to call it...The feeling that somehow I should be on the street corner preaching my believe.....I'm still trying to fiqure it all out....Once again thank you for all your articles.......

Anonymous | 09:38 am on 2/20/2008

Hey John you learned from Ole. At his conversion he learned all things from God, in and instant, as he puts it. He taught as a baby christian. Did puke come out of his mouth? Are you puking on us?
best wishes,
"mind as anti-christ"

Holmes | 12:48 pm on 2/15/2008

Good point except for one small problem. Read Acts 9:17-22. Saul (converted to Paul), started preaching "immediately" after he was saved. Then at some point LATER in his pilgrimage he took his sabbatical. Come on, Joe Bob, get your facts straight.

TheDonQuixotic | 12:59 pm on 2/15/2008

Nice job. I got to say, it does strike me as something perhaps we have forgotten.

BJ | 05:04 pm on 2/15/2008

Thanks Joe Bob.

BJ | 05:08 pm on 2/15/2008

Celebrity Jesus:
You may drive around your town
In a brand new shiny car
Your face in the wind and your haircut's in
Friends think you're bizarre
You may find a cushy job and I hope that you go far
But if you really want to taste some cool success
You better learn to play guitar

Play guitar, play guitar
Play guitar, oh yeah
Play guitar, play guitar
Play guitar, oh yeah

Well, you got your eyes on the cheerleader queen
And you're walkin' her home from school
You know that she's only seventeen
But you know that you're a fool
You know you can't touch that stuff
Without money or a brand new car
Let me give you some good advice young man
You better learn to play guitar

Play guitar, play guitar
Play guitar, oh yeah
Play guitar, play guitar
Play guitar, oh yeah

All women around the world want a phony rock star
Who plays guitar

Well you pump your iron and shine your shoes
And wear your hair just right
You go down out on cruisin' street
'Cause you want to score tonight
Ra da ra da ra da
You really want to show your scars
Forget all about that macho shit
And learn how to play guitar

Never wanted to be no pop singer
Never wanted to write no pop songs
Never had no weird hair to get my songs over
Never wanted to hang out after the show
Pop singer of pop songs

Never wanted to have my picture taken
Now, who would want to look into these eyes
Just want to make it real - good, bad or indifferent
That's the way that I live and that's the way that I'll die, as a
Pop singer writin' pop songs

Pop singer of pop songs
Pop singer

Never wanted to be no pop singer
Never want to write no pop songs
Never wanted to have a manager over for dinner
Never wanted to hang out after the show

Pop singer of pop songs
Pop singer writing pop songs
Never wanted to be no pop singer, of pop songs
A pop singer
Never wanted to write no pop songs

that calvinist doug | 03:33 pm on 2/18/2008

A youth group collaboration? Eat some mushrooms last night? Double up on the cough syrup?

BJ | 08:11 am on 2/19/2008

Jim Beam

David | 09:46 pm on 2/15/2008

Thanks, Joe Bob. Good stuff. Keep it up.

Kaci | 12:39 pm on 2/16/2008

I see your point and mostly agree -- though I could likely find a few exceptions to that rule if I wanted to. However, I find more fault with an "older" believer who unintentionally puts a young one in that kind of situation than a young believer who puts the proverbial cart before the horse (ugh, I'm full of colloquialisms this morning).

It's one thing for a young Christian to become excited and jump into something before he even has a clue what he's doing. It's far worse, I think, for an older believer to, instead of giving the guy a chance to really start to learn his faith first, also puts the cart before the horse by saying "Oh! You're a celebrity! You can do this and this and this now!" (Pardon me if the formatting doesn't work on that.) Technically, that believer would be correct: a person who comes with a lot of influence has a lot of power, and many people are already looking at them.

But therein lies the problem. I honestly feel sorry for a lot of these celebrity-types. There's no way to keep anything private, even if they want it and try. Even when they need help, they can't get people to leave them alone long enough to get it.

Yes, you're right; they probably should be allowed to "keep their mouths shut" until they've had a chance to really become rooted in this thing we call faith in Christ. Unfortunately, people live under this delusion that Christianity is a "cure-all" that either makes you perfect or think you're perfect, and far, far too many simply cave. It's the seed falling on weed-infested ground. They hear, respond, grow...and get choked to death.

So no, I don't think I'm disagreeing with you -- mostly. But I will say there's a counter-perspective that usually gets overlooked.

Gina | 02:40 pm on 2/20/2008

I don't see how you're disagreeing with Joe Bob at all...

PiltDownMan | 02:06 pm on 2/16/2008

I think John is embarrassed when people say "Jesus" in public, because he worships "cool" instead of God.

RedDirtProphet | 03:26 pm on 2/16/2008

Deion Sanders has never done drugs. Paul preached immediately after he was saved (Acts 9:17-19). Joe Bob does a really bad job of researching for his articles.

James M. Martin | 06:38 pm on 2/16/2008

Heya, J.B.B., you won't remember me, but we corresponded briefly way long back I forget about what, but it was during your days as a drive-in movie critic. Glad to see you survived the onslaught of Christer propaganda and brainwashing in, as I recall, Cow Town, to end up on "our" side. Funny, but you were the last guy I suspected of ever becoming a apostate/heretic. I just watched *Casino* again a couple of nights ago and was shocked to recall that you were in that masterpiece. Your acting was on par with DeNiro and the rest, but how on earth did you take orders from a mackerel snap like Scorsese?

mountainguy | 09:41 pm on 2/16/2008

Good point Mr Joe Bob Briggs. I'll be thinking bout that.

BTW, Kaka is one of the best soccer players... though I don't know if Cristiano Ronaldo could be even better.

amadeus | 10:10 pm on 2/16/2008

I enjoyed the article only from the perspective that it proves
that it's not the fault of Deion or Jeff to enthusiasticaly share
what God or Jesus has done for them or thru them. The real problemn lies with the church and it's entertainment mentality. Pastors who I feel suffer from entertainment tonight syndrome what someone who is popular or wealth who has become a christian to give their testimony in order to draw a larger crowd and potentially new tithers to their church. Pretty cynical huh? It's sad that our pastors don't allow someone who has lived a clean life for Jesus to share how to overcome temptations instead of someone who has wallowed and gloried in sin only to become a popular mouthpiece for Jesus. The apostle did discuss his days of persecution but only to validate his apostleship to those that questioned it and not for braging.

SRebbe | 01:54 pm on 2/18/2008

reminds me of going to get on the metro outside DC. couple of born-again babies came up to me, handed me a tract, and invited me to church. guess I wasn't wearing enough Jesus junk to let them know I'm already a xtian. it made me smile and vow never to witness to "unsaved" people on the street... ever.

they will know we are xtians by our stuff. wonderful thing, this materialistic mindset, right? didn't we try to get rid of all of these relics back after the Reformation? wait... it all came back and now we have bookstores crammed with the holy hardware. when did we start welcoming back these moneychangers and parading our faith by our fancy threads and how thick our numerous Bibles are?

Not Anonymous to God | 04:57 pm on 2/19/2008

Well JBB, I don't know about this - I seem to recall that Paul; also wrote that he didn't care how Christ was preached, as long as He WAS preached - he wrote:

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." Phil. 1:15-18

So why you all worked up? It's all out of our hands anyways and in His, which is where it shold be. Cheers, NATG

buda | 06:25 pm on 2/19/2008

Try this this the next time you are confronted by pushy people witnessing to you, srebbe, tell them you are a pagan, wican, witch etc.. Atheist works good too but the pagan stuff gets a better reaction. If you have enough time let them get you "saved", gives them good practice in witnessing and they feel sooo good about themselves and their faith afterwards. It will warm your heart to see the joy on their clean, shiny faces. One note of caution, if you live in a smaller community, save it for when you travel.

Not Anonymous has a good point, backed up with scripture no less, but I believe joe bobs point is that it is better for us (already believers)in our witness and especially for them baby christians to get grounded in their faith, to have some discipleship before being sent to the heathens. It is wisdom to know your subject before trying to school others. It will save them a lot of heart ache and embarrassment later when they watch the video tape of themselves speaking.

The Enemy Below | 08:51 pm on 2/20/2008

Kinda Reminds Me From A Couple Years Back:My wife's Family Had A Yard Sale One Weekend.We Started On A Friday Evening and Lo and Behold,A Pair of Mormon Missionaries Pedaled Up.
Anyway,I Welcomed Them To Look Around and One Of Them Started To ask Me If I'd Be Interested In The COJCOLDS.
I Told Him"Whoa Now!!Your'e welcome To Look Around and Your'e More Than Welcome To Purchase Something!!But If Your'e Going To Prostelyze,I'm Gonna ask you to Leave!!You see,Wer'e Buddhists!!".
They Immediately Left!!
BTW Joe Bob,Great Article!!!

SRebbe | 03:10 pm on 2/21/2008

good idea, buda. I actually did dabble in wicca for a good time whilst attending my good home church... freaks people out to learn that. my Sunday school teacher gave us some illustrated Pix paraphernalia back in middle school about Saul and the witch of Endor and I was hooked, as they didn't teach about the other side of spirituality, just "do this, say this, and wake up in heaven some day." I wanted the power NOOOWWWWWWW....

by the way kids, don't do that. it's bad, it's bad.

yeah, love the shock value. oh, and there's this little argument going on over on the outofur blog about the book Pagan Xtianity because the authors dared to criticize the sacrament of the clergy. never mind what's in the rest of the book. I just think the pastoral staff is reacting to the word "pagan". and maybe a few damaged egos, perhaps.

gteague | 02:43 am on 2/20/2008

saul initially set out to destroy christianity and the 'epiphany' he had on the road to damascus was that his old way of hitting 'em with rocks one by one wasn't gonna cut it.

the light that blinded him was the realization that he only needed the protective coloration of seeming to be a part of the church to steer that ship into the rocks. he fooled the fool peter, but never fooled james who (i suspect) finally had him assassinated. but meanwhile he destroyed christianity by completely perverting what christ actually taught and what he stood for.

"The Christian churches were offered two things: the spirit of Jesus and the idiotic morality of Paul, and they rejected the higher inspiration." ~Frank Harris

for those who doubt, answer this simple bible trivia question:

how many times does saul directly quote jesus his lord christ?


that calvinist doug | 09:05 am on 2/20/2008

HERETIC ALERT!!! Let the stoning commence.

Okay, I won't stone you, but dude, have you considered the underlying assumption of your interpretation? I'll elaborate: after 2000 years of all of us being duped by Paul, you, GTEAGUE, have it all figured out. Can you say, gnosticism?

buda | 03:25 pm on 2/20/2008

OMG That was awesome, gteague, you should start your own church with that "theology". That is wacked. Seriously, I have never heard that before. Has anyone else? I have read quite a bit of the gnosticism stuff but I kinda got the impression their conflict was with John's (the opostle) followers and the newly formed catholic church, not so much Paul.

gteague | 07:20 pm on 2/20/2008

i had an epiphany. i was a good fundamentalist studying hard to be a missionary and i had a vision just like saul had his vision. well, mine was more aural and i didn't go blind (or deaf!), but the principals the same.

and after the revelation, i followed up with more study, but this time i read the texts with open mind and using my logical facilities to confirm the truth of what was conveyed to me.

so, now deny me my epiphany and support sauls some more. i need to laugh sadly and shake my head ironically ...


Paul | 07:07 am on 2/20/2008

the idea the Paul went into the desert to meditate is usually put forward by those who want to make Paul a mystic of some stripe or another. It is just as probable that he went into the populated areas of arabia and began preaching. Contextually, more likely, in my opinion. That said, your point, with a bit more nuance is well taken. But then this is a humor page. Nuance is not funny. Unless its nuanced.

whoislikegod | 08:30 am on 2/20/2008

Hey gteague, You want a better understanding of what Paul was up to, go to Martin Luther, not some guy who lived with Aleister Crowley. Paul was a theologian of the Cross. Frank Harris was a theologian of glory. Check out Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. +Peace.

Cynth | 11:41 am on 2/20/2008

New born babes-in-the-word need to shut up and drink their spiritual milk.

Elaine | 01:42 pm on 2/20/2008

Who you gonna believe, Paul himself or Luke's version? Compare them and you will see many differences. Shouldn't Paul who wrote those letters know more about himself and his actions than Luke, who just may have had his own agenda?

gteague | 02:22 pm on 2/20/2008

whoislikegod: i have no idea who frank harris is, i just used his quote. all my theories on saul are strictly my own, culled from my own reading and interpretation and misc sources.

but i thank you very kindly for the association with crowley and i will absolutely dig into that connection. whatever else crowley may have been, it wasn't stupid.

so, has anyone come up with even one instance saul quoted jesus directly instead of quoting the 'vision' he had of him? what other disciple in recorded history has never quoted his master? hmmmm?


buda | 03:29 pm on 2/20/2008


that calvinist doug | 03:44 pm on 2/20/2008


Okay, thanks for the softball...Most of Paul's letters are almost universally accepted to have been written before the gospels, with the exception of possibly Mark's. Therefore, since the quotes we have from Jesus weren't yet written down, how could Paul reference them? Related to this, it's obvious that the sayings of Jesus were being told and re-told among the apostles and disciples during this interlude, and while Paul may never actually quote Jesus directly, it's unfair and bad logic to assume he didn't hear and share these himself. Besides, he didn't have access to red ink, so how could he quote him?

buda | 04:01 pm on 2/20/2008

Sooo, your implying Paul didn't have a KJV with him? Didn't speak the king's good english? Oh for shame.

gteague | 07:15 pm on 2/20/2008

but saul claimed he spoke directly to jesus in his vision. so if i believe you guys, then nothing that jesus told saul matched what he was quoted as saying in the new testament (yes, in red, for the slow readers).

now since logic atrophies in direct relationship with faith, i'll lay out the possibilities this suggests:

a) saul never talked to jesus
2) jesus changed his mind on a buncha stuff--death sometimes does that to you i hear.

for those who doubt saul out to destroy the status quo, just take a look at the contradictions in the faith vs works argument alone. if this much of that argument actually made it into the text despite frantic 3rd-4th century efforts to reconcile everything and eliminate such problems, think of how much deeper the problem must have been in reality and how bitter the quarrel. saul sets himself directly against james, the chosen of jesus to head the church, and jesus himself who always taught salvation by works.

if james or a hireling of the church did not assassinate saul i'd be much surprised and perhaps even believe in 'christian' charity!

"Paul was ... the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." ~Thomas Jefferson (Works, 1829 edition, vol. 4, p. 327.)

" would have been a better world if Paul had never been born." ~George Bernard Shaw


that calvinist doug | 08:41 am on 2/21/2008

Man, I don't have time this morning to type out all the stuff I'd like to, but let's just say:

1. I in no way believe faith and logic are incompatible
2. You seem to love to quote non-Christians who lambast Paul; as a Christian, why would this argument hold any weight with me?
3. The biggest issue we have is that you insist Jesus taught works by salvation; too many defenses to list here, suffice it to say I strongly disagree.
4. I'd love to know what Jesus told you in your epiphany.

that calvinist doug | 08:42 am on 2/21/2008

#3 above should have said, "salvation by works" not the other way around.

gteague | 02:22 am on 2/27/2008

i thought i said: he told me saul was an asshat who punk'd james.


Bobby | 03:56 pm on 2/20/2008

The Great Commission ("intentionally make disciples") is found in all four Gospels and the book of Acts. It seems that God wants the Message put out there. Romans 1:16.

SRebbe | 03:21 pm on 2/21/2008

and so what is this 'Message' then? Christ never confronted someone on the street, waving a Bible or shouting through a bullhorn... "if you were to die tomorrow, do you know where you will end up?"

we've got to stop watering things down to three easy bullet points that fit onto mass-produced powerpoint slides, drawing them out to 50 minute lectures that we endure once a week and can barely remember two days later.

Bobby | 05:25 pm on 2/21/2008

The Message is "Intentionally Make Disciples" of Jesus Christ. Help people know Jesus Christ in a living, vital, continuous relationship. I like Moody's response: "I like my way of sharing Christ better than your way of not sharing Christ." I am personally not a universalist. I believe in Hell. "Christ never confronted anyone on the street"? How about John chapter Four the Samaritan woman at the well? That is a pretty public setting. How about John 7:37ff? I am pretty sure that was also public evangelizing. The issue is not reducing the Gospel to bullet points, it is that Jesus claimed to be "the Way, the Truth and the Life"--that was the content of apostolic preaching: the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only atonement for sin. That is the substance of the Message I had in mind.

Padre | 03:26 pm on 2/21/2008

Hmm, could it be Paul couldn't "quote" Jesus because, as most scholars contend, his letters were written well ahead of the Gospels from which he would have quoted? Maybe he didn't
quote Jesus because, as the books weren't yet written down,
he couln't appropriately footnote the sources for the scholarly types who demand such things. As someone indicated, he didn't have the Red Letter Edition just yet. Let's also remember that Paul didn't know he was writin' scripture, he just thought he was writin' letters to some snarky types who couldn't get past petty arguments. I've always imagined he'd be a tad horrified at the thought they'd became "canon fodder."

Teddy Bear Mohammed | 01:42 pm on 2/22/2008

I FOUND JESUS. He was hanging out on the street corner with a bunch of Mexicans. He got in the back of my pick-up. I paid him $50.00 to clean up my backyard.

that calvinist doug | 01:56 pm on 2/22/2008

I believe that was Hey, Zeus.

buda | 06:03 pm on 2/24/2008

"Hey, Zeus" was a great band. Out of kansas city. Still have a concert t shirt.

scottie | 01:57 pm on 2/25/2008

This post must be too serious for BJ...I need a good knee slappin' laugh. BJ, where are you?????

BJ | 09:06 am on 3/05/2008

You might be a Christian redneck if you saved your church bulletin to get 10% off at the local Sunday trough buffet.

BJ | 09:08 am on 3/05/2008

Just got back from Mexico. Mucho Cervasas.

BJ | 09:27 am on 3/05/2008

I found Hey Zeus. He was hanging out on the street corner with a bunch of Jesus'. I gave him 50 pesos for a bottle of tequila and a ride in the back of his pick up to Playa de Carma. I handed out turn or burn tracks to topless sun bathers. I planted many seeds. The day ended with fun and fellowship at Senor Frogs. It was a good time in the Lord.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.