A Conversation With Paul

Introduction

We sat down recently with Stachys to interview Paul about his life, ministry, impact of his teaching, and concerns for today’s world.1

Interview

Stachys: So Paul, you had quite a life. Tell us a bit about your story.

Brockhaus_and_Efron_Jewish_Encyclopedia_e6_135-0[1]

Rabbi Gamaliel, Grandson of Hillel the Elder

Paul: Thank you. I grew up in Tarsus, in Cilicia, located in south central Turkey. I was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3.5) and named Saul, after Israel’s first king, who was of my tribe. I also was born with Roman citizenship, a benefit which would save my life (Acts 22.25-30). I demonstrated academic promise and was sent to Jerusalem to study to be a Pharisee under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of the great Hillel (Acts 22.3).

Stachys: How did that go? Were you a good student?

Paul: Yes. I excelled. I became a member of the Council as soon as it was possible and advanced in Judaism above my peers (Galatians 1.14). I was (smiling) a “rising star.”

Stachys: You were present when Stephen came to trial before the Sanhedrin?

Paul: Yes. That was quite a day. Stephen gave a brilliant summary of Israel’s history. He knew his Tanakh and one could not but be impressed with him. We killed him. I stood by the robes of those who stoned him (Acts 7.58).

Stachys: How did you feel about that?

Paul: I applauded it (Acts 8.1). I was zealous to uphold the Law.

Stachys: Was this action legal?

Paul: No. As Dr. Luke recounted, we were enraged. But blasphemy was punishable by death. The Council would have convicted Stephen. It was easy to rationalize our actions.

Stachys: So you were ok with this?

Paul: Definitely. I was committed to destroying those following Jesus of Nazareth, all of the so-called Way. I broke into their houses, imprisoned, tortured, and killed them.

Stachys: Did you confine your actions to Jerusalem?

Paul: Initially, yes. But I was zealous. I went to the high priest and requested documents to authorize me to pursue followers of the Way beyond the borders of Israel. Once I obtained these letters I left for Damascus.

Stachys: How did that go?

Paul: Not as I expected. (laughter)

Paul: The Apostle of the Gentiles

Paul: The Apostle of the Gentiles

Paul: As I neared Damascus–it was about noon–an intense light shown around me–so bright it dimmed the sun. I fell to the ground and heard a voice speaking to me in Hebrew which said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” I replied, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ The voice replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me’” (Acts 9.3-9, 22.6-11, 26.13-18).

 Stachys: Wow. What next?

Paul: I was in shock. I could not see. I was blind.

Stachys: What about those with you? How were they affected?

Paul: They saw the light but were not blinded and they heard the sound of a voice but did not understand it. Seeing I was blind they led me to Damascus to a house on Straight Street owned by a man named Judas. I was blind for three days. I did not eat or drink. All I could do was pray. While in prayer, I had a vision in which a man named Ananias came and laid his hand on me to give me my sight (Acts 9.11-12, 22.6-11).

Stachys: So did this happen?

Paul: Yes. While I was recovering, the Lord appeared to Ananias. He told him about me, where I was, and to come to me.

Stachys: Did he come?

Paul: Yes–but not without protest. He knew my reputation for ruthlessness. Ananias objected, saying, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name” (Acts 9.13-14). But the Lord said, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9.15-16). Ananias obeyed and came to the house.

Stachys: Then what happened?

Paul: He placed his hands upon me and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ When I looked upon him he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now, why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name’” (Acts 9.17-18, 22.13-16).

Stachys: Then what happened?

Paul: It was amazing. As soon as he spoke, I regained my sight. I was baptized. After this, I ate and began to regain my strength. While recovering, I visited with other believers and told them what had happened. When strong enough, I went to the synagogue and proclaimed that Christ was the Son of God (Acts 9.20).

Stachys: That must have been a shock!

Paul: Quite. Those who heard me could not believe they were hearing Saul of Tarsus. They said, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” The Jews confronted me. They were what I had been just a few days before. When I showed them from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ they were confounded (Acts 9.20-22).

Stachys: The Lord has quite a sense of irony. After this happened, did you go to Jerusalem and consult with the Twelve?

Paul: Well, it is logical to think this would have been the first thing I did. But God had other plans for me. He sent me to to Arabia–to the desert–to Sinai, where Moses received the Law (Galatians 1.16-17, 4.25). The risen Lord isolated me from the Twelve. He had a totally different purpose for me. He began to reveal what being “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13) meant. After I received His instruction, I left Arabia and returned to Damascus.

Stachys: What did you do there?

Paul: I continued to teach in the synagogues. The Jews could not refute my arguments so they plotted to kill me. I had become Stephen. Fortunately, I learned of this plot and escaped at night with the help of the disciples. They lowered me down the wall in a large basket.

Stachys: Even more excitement!

Paul: Well, much more was to come.

Stachys: What next?

Paul: I went to Jerusalem. I wished to fellowship with the believers there. But they were afraid of me and doubted I was a believer. Barnabas, however, believed me and took me to the apostles and described how I had seen the Lord on the road, that He had talked to me, and how in Damascus I had spoken boldly in His name (Acts 9.26-27).

Stachys: Did you meet with the Twelve?

Paul: Only Peter–and also James–the Lord’s brother, known as “James the Just.” I stayed with Peter fifteen days (Galatians 1.18).

Stachys: What did you do while in Jerusalem?

Paul: I proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. The Hellenistic Jews opposed me and tried to kill me (Acts 9.29). One day, while praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ I protested saying, ‘Lord, they know that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. When the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ But the Lord said, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles’” (Acts 22.17-21). It took me a long time to learn the truth of His words. I loved my people. I thought if I, Saul of Tarsus, could be changed, they could. Surely they will listen to me! It was not to be.

Stachys: So how long did it take to learn this truth?

Paul before King Agrippa

Paul defends himself before King Agrippa and Bernice

Paul: It took a long time. I did not appreciate it fully until the Lord imprisoned me in Rome (Ephesians 3.1, 4.1). Luke recorded our missionary journeys in Acts and my priority of going to Jews first with the gospel. When they rejected it, I would turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13.13-47, 18.5-6, 28.17-29). I resisted God’s warnings about going to Jerusalem (Acts 20.22-23, 21.4, 7-14) and got into trouble, just as the Holy Spirit had warned. To save myself from being killed by the Jews, I had to use my Roman citizenship and appeal my case directly to Caesar (Acts 22.22-29, 25.11). The Roman commander moved me from Jerusalem to Caesarea to foil another plot of the Jews to kill me. I was imprisoned there for two years. During that time I met Governors Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. Finally, they sent me to Rome for my appeal to the Emperor. During the voyage, a terrible storm arose. It wrecked our ship but we lost no lives. When I arrived in Rome, I immediately met with the Jews–my final meeting with them. It became clear, just as the Lord said, that they would not listen (Acts 28.17-29). This was in about 61 A.D. For the next two years I was under house arrest (a rented house) as Rome’s prisoner. During this time, I spoke with many of Caesar’s guards. Several came to know the Lord (Philippians 4.22). Sometimes they wondered who was the prisoner.

(laughter)

Stachys: Can we talk about your teachings?

Paul: By all means. The Lord revealed to me doctrines, which I termed “secrets” (μυστήριον). I designated them so because that is what they were. The Lord had not revealed them to Israel’s prophets, nor to the Twelve. He also had kept them hidden during His earthly ministry. They were revelations the ascended Lord revealed exclusively to me.

Stachys: What were these secrets?

Paul: One was the gospel of the grace of God–that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (Acts 20.24; Galatians 1.11-12) Another was salvation by faith alone–believing the good news that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

Stachys: Peter and the Eleven did not know this gospel and salvation by faith alone?

Paul: No. Peter and the rest preached the gospel of the kingdom which had begun with John the Baptist. That gospel focused upon the identity of Christ–who He was–the Messiah, the Son of God. They looked for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth with Christ ruling as King (Matthew 6.10). I received my gospel directly from the risen Lord (Galatians 1.11-12). It focused upon His work–that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. The faith part of the gospel of the kingdom was believing Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16.16; John 11.27; Acts 8.37). But in addition, that gospel also required repentance, keeping the Law, and water baptism for salvation (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Luke 10.25-28; Acts 2.38; Acts 15.1, 5). My gospel (Romans 2.16, 16.25; Galatians 2.2, 7; 2 Corinthians 4.3; 2 Thessalonians 2.14; 2 Timothy 2.8) requires but one thing: trust in the death and resurrection of Christ. When Peter preached the Lord’s death, he did not preach it as good news but as a Jewish crime (Acts 2.22-24, 3.13-15). He demanded the nation repent of it (Acts 2.36-38). For Peter, the significance of the Lord’s resurrection was He could return and establish His kingdom on earth–if the Jewish people would repent (Acts 3.19-20, 25-26). The gospel the Lord gave me proclaims His death and resurrection as good news (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). My gospel is a gospel of grace and faith alone (Romans 1.16-17, 3.22, 26, 28, 4.5; Ephesians 2.8-9; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4). The Twelve had no idea Christ’s death and resurrection had paid for the sins of the world and that God had reconciled the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5.14-21). This truth remained hidden until the glorified Lord revealed it to me. The Twelve learned this truth from me (2 Peter 3.15-16).

Stachys: Wow. That’s not what most people have been taught.

Paul: Well, that’s not my fault (smiling). I wrote these things in my letters. They are there for anyone to read. In my first letter to Timothy, I wrote I was the first (πρῶτος), God’s prototype or pattern (ὑποτύπωσις), for those who would follow in this new salvation (1 Timothy 1.15-16). To the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 3.10-11, I expressed this truth in terms of architecture. I wrote them, “as a wise master-builder, I laid the foundation” (ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων θεμέλιον ἔθηκα). The foundation was Christ Himself and specifically His work on the cross and resurrection. As a result of this salvation, the Church, the body of Christ, came into being. The Lord also revealed to me many other truths He had kept hidden.

Stachys: What were these?

Paul: Well, to continue, one was the Church, the body of Christ, in which those who believe my gospel become members of His body. No difference exists between Jew and Gentile in this relationship (Galatians 3.27-28). This was unknown to the Twelve.

Stachys: Peter did not know about the Church? Some teach that the Church came out of Peter.

Paul: Well, no one thought so in my day, especially Peter. Peter knew nothing of the Church. Peter and the rest of the Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles. Peter, James, John, or Jude never mention the Church, the body of Christ, in their letters. Peter had no motivation to go to Gentiles and when he left Jerusalem to visit Cornelius it only upon direct prodding from the Lord. After he returned, the believing Jews in Jerusalem upbraided him (Acts 10-11). God designated me as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). The Lord designated the Twelve as apostles of Israel (Matthew 19.28; Galatians 2.7-9). The ascended Christ revealed to me, not Peter or the other apostles, the secret of the Church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 3.2-7; 1.22-23; Colossians 1.19; 1 Corinthians 12.12-27; Galatians 3.28).

Stachys: The Church did not begin at Pentecost?

Paul: Read Luke’s account. What is the definition of the Church, the body of Christ? It is that body in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. Whom did Peter address at Pentecost? Jews or Gentiles? He addressed Jews. Pentecost, or the Festival of Weeks, was a Jewish feast day, held 50 days after Passover. He called on the Jewish nation to repent from the murder of the Messiah (Acts 2.5, 14, 22, 36-39). If this was the birth of the Church, why did Peter not address Gentiles? We find the same thing in Peter’s second sermon, in Acts 3. He addressed Jews only (Acts 3.12, 25). Throughout his messages, he quoted the prophets. The Jewish prophets meant nothing to Gentiles. If the Church came into existence at Pentecost, why did no evangelism of Gentiles occur? Read the Scriptures. Peter and the Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles.

Stachys: What else?

Paul: The Lord revealed to me that when one believes my gospel he is identified in Christ’s death and in His resurrection (Romans 6.3-5, 8). This identification is the basis of our hope of resurrection and the key to victory in the Christian life (Romans 6.6-7). Peter and the other apostles knew nothing of this identification truth–of believers being baptized and identified in His death and resurrection.

Stachys: Other truths?

Paul: Several more. The Lord revealed that the one who believes my gospel is under new administration: Grace, not Law (Romans 6.14). God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, not to Gentiles. The Law’s primary purpose was to condemn and to reveal sin. It had no power to make one better. Peter and the Eleven continued to practice Judaism under the Law of Moses. They knew nothing of a new administration of Grace which replaced the Mosaic Law. Peter finally understood at the Council of Jerusalem that through my gospel one is saved by trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection alone, apart from the works of the Law. Once he saw this, he sided with me (Acts 15.7-11).

Stachys: The Law was  bad?

Paul: Heavens, no! The Law was holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7.12). The problem was not with the Law but with us. This is another truth the Lord revealed to me alone. The nature we inherit from Adam cannot keep the Law. I learned this truth through hard experience and wrote about it in Romans 7. When the Law encounters our fallen, Adamic nature it excites sin. It does so because our fallen nature, which I also called the flesh, is in rebellion against God (Romans 7.8, 11, 21, 23, 25). To counter this and conform us into the image of Christ, God has given us a new nature (Romans 7.22; 2 Corinthians 5.17) and placed us under the administration of grace (Romans 6.14). By this arrangement, we can more ably obey Christ. This new relationship operates through faith, hope, and love. The love of Christ constrains us (2 Corinthians 5.14) and through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit, God  transforms and sanctifies us to Himself (Romans 8.29), in a way the Law never could (Galatians 5.16-26). We are to “reckon” or “consider” (λογίζομαι) ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6.11). This is an act of faith and the key to sanctification and living the Christian life.

Staychus: What about national Israel? What is their future? Do they have a future?

Paul: Yes! God’s covenants and purposes for Israel will be fulfilled. When God establishes a plan and makes a promise, He keeps it (Romans 11.29). At present, national Israel is blind. God revealed this secret to me and I wrote about it in Romans 9-11. When God called Abraham, He began a new program. He laid the foundation for the creation of the Jewish people. He revealed Himself to them and gave them covenantal promises. God promised they would become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19.6; Isaiah 61.4-6). He promised they would become the preeminent nation upon the earth and that He Himself will reign as their King and rule the earth (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13; Zechariah 14.9). But at the present time, they are blind (Romans 11.7-8). God removed them (they removed themselves by rejecting Him) from the place of blessing and placed Gentiles into that position. But God will reestablish them (Romans 11.11-12, 25-27) into the place of blessing. One day, they will recognize Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. They will repent and be saved (Matthew 23.37-39; Zechariah 12.10-14, 13.6; Romans 11.26). The prophecies and all God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled. But this cannot occur until the Lord removes the Church, the body of Christ (Romans 11.25-26). Therefore, the future of Israel is bright!

Stachys: What do you mean, “removes the Church?”

The Ἁρπάζω

The Ἁρπάζω: the resurrection of believers of Paul’s gospel.

Paul: We can close with this secret–the believer’s hope (Titus 2.13)–the return of the Lord and the resurrection of our bodies. People get confused about the subject of the Lord’s return. The Lord revealed to me His return for His Church, the body of Christ. This return was a secret and entirely different from His return which the prophets taught and which He taught in His earthly ministry. That return will occur at the end of the Tribulation, to deliver Israel and the nations. The return the Lord revealed to me will come before the Tribulation. It will deliver the Church from His wrath (1 Thessalonians 1.10, 5.9). It was secret (1 Corinthians 15.51). The two are separate events and cannot be harmonized. The return the Lord revealed to me has become known as the Rapture from the word ἁρπάζω I used when I taught the Thessalonians this wonderful truth (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18). This word means to seize or snatch away. In my follow-up letter, written to correct the false teaching that the persecution they were experiencing was the Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, I used the word ἀποστασία.

Stachys: Why did you use these words? Snatch away and departure from what?

Paul: Jewish theology has two great themes: One is the kingdom of God on earth, in which Christ will rule and Israel will be supreme among the nations, and the other is the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord encompasses a long period. It begins with the seven year Tribulation and continues to God’s creation of the New Heavens and New Earth. But most of its focus is upon the Tribulation–when God will exercise His wrath upon the earth. David was the first to write about it in Psalm 2–which is a short course and summary of Jewish theology–no extra charge for that (laughter). But before God pours out His wrath upon the earth He will remove His body, the Church. No believer of my gospel will experience the judgments in those terrible seven years. I taught the Thessalonians this comforting truth (1 Thessalonians 1.10, 5.9) and used ἁρπάζω to describe how the Lord will “snatch away” believers to meet Him in the air before He begins to vex the earth. This amazing truth means that one generation of believers will not experience physical death. I had hoped to experience this myself but had no idea the Lord would extend His plan of the Church for so long. I used ἀποστασία to correct the false teaching the Thessalonians had received that they were experiencing the Tribulation. Believers will depart (ἀποστασία) before the Antichrist, the Beast is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2.1-3). They will experience none of the events of the seven years of God’s wrath.

Stachys: Why do so few know these things? Why is there so much confusion?

Paul: Several reasons account for the confusion. The primary reason is the failure to recognize the vast differences in my ministry and the ministry of Peter and the Eleven, or put another way, God’s program for Israel. When one reads my doctrines and the secrets the Lord revealed to me–God’s program for the Church, the body of Christ–into His covenantal program for Israel, the result is confusion. The two programs are entirely different and cannot be mixed. If they are, confusion results. I dealt with this regarding the gospel at the Council of Jerusalem in 51 A.D. Fortunately, God had prepared Peter for that battle long before, when He commanded him to go to Cornelius’ house. Because God gave him that experience, he was able to grasp what I was saying and come to my aid. Beyond justification, on the matter of the believer’s sanctification, I wrote the whole book of Galatians. The Galatians, influenced by the Judaizers, were being taught that believers of my gospel had to obey the Mosaic Law. They were abandoning my teachings of grace and placing themselves under the Law. They thought they could be conformed into the image of Christ through the Law. I fought that battle but lost. I lost all of Asia. I had spent so much time there–in Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, Antioch Psidia–I lost them.

Stachys: You lost them?

Paul: Yes. It was a bitter pill and heart-wrenching to see these believers abandon their freedom in Christ and the truths of grace for the yoke of the Law. I wrote Timothy of this great tragedy (2 Timothy 1.15, 4.14-16). The syncretism in Christendom today–the mixing of Law and Grace, conflating God’s program for the Church and His program for Israel, failure to distinguish the Rapture and the Second Coming, not understanding salvation by faith alone from salvation by faith and works, thinking God has replaced Israel with the Church, believing Peter and I preached the same gospel, the teaching that Peter and the Eleven ministered to Gentiles–I could go on–all these have their roots in the battle I fought in my lifetime. Confusion results from failure to understand the Scriptures–to understand my letters–to see God saved and commissioned me as THE apostle of the Gentiles and that with me He began an entirely new program, the Church, the body of Christ.

Stachys: Thank you. This is sobering. It also is an encouragement to concentrate on your letters and study the truths the Lord revealed to you. Finally, what are you thoughts about today, what concerns you most?

Paul: I am the epitome of God’s love and grace. I was so misguided. I thought I was doing God’s will but had become a religious monster. But God loved me. He chose and commissioned me to reveal His grace and revelations He had kept secret–to all–Jews and Gentiles. God chose me to be to the Church what Abraham and Moses were to Israel. My greatest concern is for those without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life. God wishes all to be saved and come to the truth (1 Timothy 2.4). Christ has done all the work and has made salvation so simple. One need only trust in His work–in His death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Living the Christian life is not easy. But God has provided freedom in Christ. Peter noted at the Council of Jerusalem that the Law was a burden, a yoke (Acts 15.10). It was. I know. I was a Pharisee. But those who believe my gospel are under grace. They are free. God has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us. As we came to life by faith, we are to live by faith. God is Life. The more we trust Him the more alive we become. He is our blessed hope–and He is coming–soon!

1 This fictional interview serves as a vehicle to present Paul’s life and doctrines. Luke’s account in Acts is distinctly Jewish and differs in emphasis from Paul’s letters. Luke’s intended audience was Jews and his purpose was to explain Israel’s fall from God’s favor and why the kingdom of God did not come. Paul’s letters addressed Gentiles primarily. In them, we find Church doctrine–doctrines the risen Lord gave for the Church, the body of Christ.

©2015 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.


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35 Responses to A Conversation With Paul

  1. Jack S. says:

    Hello Don,

    What a great article! Your pros encompasses the entire New Testament in a very orderly manner. You have been able to demonstrate how the Old Testament pointed to Jesus and the King and the Kingdom while Paul reveals the new program that includes Jew and Gentile alike.

    Tradition and denomination have totally conflated the simple plan that the Bible reveals if people will only trust in God’s Word. As we read in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

    Right division as stated in 2 Timothy 2:15 has to be understood and adhered to before one can make any sense of the Book. People even conflate the meaning of the words “rightly dividing” and gloss over the importance of this first step of true understanding.

    Thank you for your time, devotion and scholarly articles that are changing lives.

    Jack S.
    Meridian, ID

  2. Jack S. says:

    Don…..who was Stachys?

  3. Paul Miller says:

    I so enjoy when you post a new article. This one seems like a great approach to explaining Paul’s unique ministry. I appreciate your scholarly approach to research and writing, and am tempted to study Greek. However, I am not sure that my 60-year-old brain could learn it. Keep up the great work, Don.

  4. Theresa says:

    This sounds like a skit I can use in my Sunday school, getting two students to play the parts of Paul and the one asking questions

  5. Ron G says:

    G’Day Don,
    I loved this article. I immediately sent it through to a friend who said the following…

    “I think he should have written something like this much earlier on as it pulls together all the doctrines into one cohesive ‘article’ (if you can call it that, it’s more like script). If he had launched his website with an overview like this it could have helped answer a questions which people have asked. At first I thought it was a bit weird the way he presented it, but after thinking about it a while it makes a lot of sense – I can see 2 people reading this out as part of a church service. I’ve been wondering how best to sum up all the teachings he’s presented on his website and communicate it in a way that makes sense to those that have never heard this stuff before. It would be difficult to preach/teach it in a regular church setting as most people would be left with more questions than answers. You really need to break down the old foundations, build new ones and explain it all in one go, otherwise it’s very confusing, but something like this could really work well.”

    I totally agree with him and would add the following.
    Have you thought about adding links throughout the article to all the other pertinent articles you have written so readers can link in the fuller body of doctrine you have presented on this site. With the links inserted, this article would serve as a fantastic launchpad to most of your articles.
    Just a thought..:)
    But again let me say very well done Don and thank you.
    God Bless
    Ron G

  6. courtney king says:

    Thank you and very well done ! May God Bless You

  7. John Duryea says:

    Don,
    I liked the way you assimilated the differences between the teachings of Paul and of the Apostles. This conversational approach is helpful in understanding the differences.

    Perhaps you can help me with something that I am trying to understand.
    Jews are to be given an earthly kingdom and the Church more of a heavenly inheritance or calling.
    But what of the believing Jews that currently make up the Church? Has their inheritance changed from earthly to heavenly because they now believe and will be raptured?
    In essence my question is: Will believing Jews remain with the Church and wherever it may be residing (with the Lord) or will they inherit the Kingdom of God on earth (perhaps apart from the Church) and be a part of the other Jews who became believers in Messiah during the tribulation?

    If this question cannot be answered, I understand.

    Thank you.
    John

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      Thanks. Believing Jews today are no different than believing Gentiles. We are both members of the Church, the body of Christ, and will have heavenly blessings.

  8. Keri says:

    I want to thank you for all your articles! What a blessing to have found them, for they have helped me so much in my understanding of the scriptures.

  9. Chad says:

    Amazing idea!

    Amazed that the only verse you have from Jesus states “your house is left unto desolate”.

    I prefer to listen to Jesus, the law, prophets and apostles before I jump on the Paul bandwagon. I am a gentile and Peter was to teach the gentiles. Jesus said all things that He heard from the Father were given to the apostles.

    True that there are two groups and two messages. Paul is teaching a different gospel.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chad,
      I also cite Matthew 19.28 but I do not know why this matters. The problem with your comment is that it has no Scriptural support. Jesus never had a ministry to Gentiles and neither did Peter or any of the other Twelve. They ministered to Jews. Peter wrote to Jews, not Gentiles (1 Peter 1.1). You are correct Paul taught a different gospel. That is why there was the controversy of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). Peter concluded they were wrong and Paul was right (see my article, The Great Hinge).

  10. Rodney says:

    Hello Don,

    Your article is very well organized and answers many questions concerning Paul’s gospel. My question has to do with the first secret you point out which is “the gospel of the grace of God – that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” 1 Cor 15:3 states that Christ “died for our sins according to the scriptures”. Luke 24:45 points out that Jesus gave the disciples understanding. “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures”. Didn’t the twelve know that Jesus died for our sins? Isaiah 53 says Christ bore the sins of many although this chapter was focused exclusively on Israel and not the whole world. Is it possible that they knew of his dying for sins but the mystery of the gospel was that faith in Christ alone apart from the law would save people and they didn’t know this until the council in Jerusalem in Acts 15.

    Thank you for your time.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Rodney,
      Do you not think the Twelve, if they knew Christ died for our sins, would have proclaimed it? The Lord opened their eyes to Scriptures regarding the prophetic, kingdom program. What Peter proclaimed at Pentecost was that God had raised Jesus from the dead so He could be King–if Israel repented. Peter did not tell them Christ died for their sins. Read James, probably the earliest book in the NT canon. Can you find any proclamation that Christ died for our sins?

      • Rodney says:

        I see your point. Peter said a lot on the day of Pentecost but he never told anyone that Jesus died in their place for their sins. Paul said that Christ died for our sins “according to the scriptures”. Isn’t this a reference to the Old Testament? Would you say he was given special revelation of these scriptures of something that was there but hidden from the twelve?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Rodney,
          The only passage in the OT that provides a clue about Christ’s dying for sin is Isaiah 53. The prophets had no idea what this meant and neither did the Twelve. That passage speaks only of Jews not Gentiles. The Lord gave Paul special revelation about the nature and extent of His work on the cross. Paul is a whole different animal than the Twelve and God revealed to him things the Twelve were wholly ignorant of. Paul called these things “secrets.” See my article, Paul’s “Mystery”.

  11. Vernon says:

    Hi Don,

    If Peter did not minister to Gentiles, what was he doing eating with them when the bus load of Pharasees arrived from James in Jerusalem?
    I know that Paul rebuked him for his hypocrisy, but my question is what was he doing in their homes if he totally rejected them?

    Thanks,

    Vernon.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vernon,
      See the earlier verses, Galatians 2.7-9. While it is impossible to know the particulars, Jewish believers certainly were in the Antioch church. Peter most likely went to minister to them. The agreement was not that Peter would not have contact with Gentiles but that his ministry would be to Jews. Peter did not reject Gentiles for he certainly knew Gentiles had been saved. The issue in Acts 15 was over the issue of whether Gentiles could be saved by faith alone as Paul’s gospel maintained. That issue had been resolved (Acts 15.11). The result of that resolution probably removed a lot of the barriers so that Peter felt more comfortable associating with them. But when the James’ party arrived he got cold feet. This demonstrates just how strong a hold the Law held.

  12. Faith says:

    Doctrine also, like you have written before that it was not the problem that Gentiles could NOT be saved; it was preached by the disciples that they had to be saved by faith + works.
    I think it is a hard one to come to the point (for many) of realization that when we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection + 0 that we are given the Holy Spirit. He lives INSIDE of us; we are predestined to good works/good fruit (however long that takes). The Holy Spirit gives power; our job is to listen and trust- then walk accordingly. Many Christians (and some who call themselves so) don’t understand that God is the Changer; even in sanctification He is calling the shots. The Holy Spirit gives us understanding, rebuke, counseling, teaching, comfort, etc… Abraham was accredited with salvation for believing and in his walk he continued to trust EVEN when he made some trouble by lying. He was not perfect, but he kept believing that God would deliver in His promise.
    We are to believe that God will deliver what He promised = becoming more like Him and eternal life with Him.

  13. Vernon says:

    Don,

    If we do not inherit the Kingdom because ours is a heavenly calling, why does Paul mention it as an inheritance in Galatians…
    Gal 5:19 – 21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
    Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
    Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Thanks,

    Vernon.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vernon,
      See my article, The Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God encompasses both heaven and earth. Only Israel was promised an earthly kingdom.

  14. Patience says:

    Hie Don

    Once again thank you for showing us the importance of rightly dividing the Word!.
    I just find it difficult to understand how in the churches today the ‘doctrine’ of tithing is exalted, with Abraham and Malachi 3:10 as the basis.This beats me,please Sir would you please shed some light in all this..
    I apologize for posing this question here,I realised I couldn’t find a tithe related article yet in my studying your work.
    Thank you in advance Don

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Patience,
      Some are ignorant of the Scriptures. Others try to manipulate people. Paul wrote giving is a matter of the heart (2 Corinthians 9.6-7). Giving should be an action prompted by love and the Holy Spirit.

  15. mike says:

    I find it confusing to call all Israelites Jews(tribe of Judah)It is more scripturaly accurate to call the twelve tribes Israelites,not Jews.Judah was one tribe of twelve tribes of Israel.Not all Israelites are Jews,but all Jews are Israelites according to the flesh.Paul was a Benjamite but lived in Judea so was considered a Jew.But the Israelites of the diaspora were not Jews but Israelites,at least for the most part.Furthermore,Abraham wasnt a Jew,Isaac wasnt a Jew,Jacob wasnt a jew,but his son Judah,his tribe later became known as Jews in 2nd Kings 16:6.So why do people tend to call all Israel Jews when that is not accurate?? Also there were two sons of Joseph who were given each a half tribe status in Israel.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      Such a statement reveals a low opinion of Jesus Christ. Christ is named King of the Jews many times in the Gospels. As such He was King of Israel, not just Judah. The word יְהוּדִי originally referred to members of the tribe of Judah. But for over 2,600 years the word has referred to all Israel. That is why Israelites are called Jews. Those who teach otherwise are ignorant of the Scriptures or false teachers.

  16. I love this!
    I would translate your text to greek and share it with the kids on Sunday school!
    Really inspiring !!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Alexandra,
      Excellent! May the Lord bless you and the children. Paul spent a lot of time in Greece and had a special love for the Greeks.

  17. courtney king says:

    Dear Don
    Thank you so much for this article it reflects a labor of Love you have for those that have been mistaught. Your theological study is deeply appreciated. My our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST bless you and all your house. I look forward to reading all you articles with renewed vigor. Love and Peace

  18. rebecca says:

    Outstanding. Paul’s doctrine in Romans has been the stumbling block in my understanding Romans for years. This sheds new light on it.

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