15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,
16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,
17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
but when (v.15) — Paul mentions his salvation so he could explain what happened immediately after.
pleased God (v.15) — It was neither sought or desired by Paul, but entirely by God.
who separated me from (v.15) — should be "who separated me, even from … " God's purpose for Paul was determined even before Paul was born. In his other letters, Paul frequently says he was an apostle by the will of God.
called me (v.15) — on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-9)
reveal (v.16) = uncover, unveil. God uncovered previously hidden truth about Jesus Christ to Paul.
that (v.16) — "in order that" or "for the purpose" that
I might preach (v.16) — so Paul could preach with apostolic authority.
Gentiles (v.16) — in Greek ethnos, from which we get "heathen." Anyone not a Jew.
immediately (v.16) — after his time in Damascus (Acts 9:19-25). Paul's point is that he had no opportunity to receive his message from any man.
did not … confer (v.16) — He didn't discuss the matter with others for the purpose of advice or instruction.
flesh and blood (v.16) — human (with an emphasis on human limitation), in contrast to the Holy Spirit.
neither did I go up to Jerusalem (v.17) — Paul recognizes the authority of the 12 apostles, but insists on his independence from them.
go up (v.17) — used by Jesus specifically when speaking of a journey to Jerusalem, which was located in the hills of Palestine and was the location of the temple.
but (v.17) — contrast. Paul didn't go to Jerusalem. He went to Arabia. He didn't confer with the apostles. He communed with God.
This trip (to Arabia) is mentioned nowhere else. It may have taken place before the "certain days" of Acts 9:19 (probably), or it may have been after verse 22 or verse 25.
Arabia (v.17) — district east and south of Damascus. This may have been where Paul spent the three years of Galatians 1:18. Arabia gives the idea of desolate wilderness where Paul could be apart from men and in communication with God.
Damascus (v.17) — Part of Israel under David, but in Paul's time it was ruled by Aretus IV, King of Arabia. Paul mentions it here to show that, even after the events already described, he still hadn't met with the apostles.