Jesus vs. Paul

Introduction

Controversy has arisen regarding Jesus versus Paul as scholars debate the different emphases and messages of Jesus and Paul. For example, Jesus preached the kingdom of heaven. Paul did not. Paul preached justification by faith alone. Jesus did not. What are we to make of this? Can the two be reconciled? The answer depends on what is meant by reconciliation.

Let us be clear from the outset. The messages of Jesus and Paul were fundamentally different. Reconciliation of their messages cannot be done by harmonization. This is a fact we must accept. No one is helped by attempts to lessen the differences by declaring that the gospel is a salvation story for both Jesus and Paul. The differences remain. No benefit comes from theological gibberish that the gospel is the kingdom and the kingdom is the gospel. No light comes from attempts to show that Paul “betrayed” Jesus or “perverted” His message. These offerings of strange fire move us further from the text and sound theology. Instead, we must seek a biblical understanding of the texts to effect a reconciliation.

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that this matter is receiving attention. For almost 2,000 years, Paul has been forced into the gospels and the gospels have been forced into Paul–and this continues. Some theologians have recognized problems in this but most fail to provide sound, biblical solutions to resolve the differences between Jesus and Paul. The bad news is that most theological professionals misunderstand why we find differences between Jesus and Paul. Because of this, they lack a sound foundation to reconcile the differences. Here’s a clue: let the reader consider why God kept Paul separated from the Twelve after his conversion and why Paul’s contact with the Twelve was extremely limited (cf. Galatians 1.1, 11-12, 15-19). The purpose of this brief study is to answer the question about how Jesus and Paul can be reconciled (what that means) and end the confusion.

The Messages of Jesus and Paul

The below chart identifies the chief differences in the ministries and message of Jesus and Paul. Each will be analyzed.

Differences of the Ministries of Jesus and Paul
Jesus: Paul:
1. Preached the gospel of the kingdom 1. Preached the gospel of the grace of God
2. Defined the “kingdom of heaven” as Israel’s prophetic earthly kingdom 2. Defined the “kingdom of heaven” as the heavenly position of the body of Christ
3. Presented Himself as Messiah and King of the Jews (Israel) 3. Presented Jesus as the risen Lord, Head of the body of Christ
4. Preached repentance, baptism, and faith as necessary for salvation 4. Preached faith alone as necessary for salvation
5. Had Jews only for His audience (2 exceptions) 5. Had Gentiles as his primary audience
6. Operated under the Mosaic Law 6. Operated under grace

1. Jesus’ Gospel, Paul’s Gospel

Jesus

John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve preached the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 3.2, 4.17). This gospel was the long-anticipated and prophesied good news that the King of Israel had arrived. He would establish His kingdom on earth and rule the earth according to what Israel’s prophets foretold (Psalm 2.6, 8; Zechariah 14.9; Luke 1.31-33). Its focus was Jewish. During this kingdom reign, God would fulfill all His covenant promises to Israel. Through Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah, Gentiles would also be blessed. Apart from this kingdom and apart from this plan, God had no provision to bless Gentiles. Beginning with God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12), all Gentile blessing had to come through Israel.

The prophets had proclaimed this Messianic kingdom in hundreds of passages. Every Jew knew about this kingdom and every God-fearing Jew longed for it. One need only read the passages surrounding the account of Jesus’ birth to recognize this fact. The reader is encouraged to read the accounts surrounding the Magi (Matthew 2.1-12), Zacharias (Luke 1.8-17, 67-79), Mary (Luke 1.26-38, 46-55), Simeon, and Anna (Luke 2.25-38).

The message and ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve required repentance (Mark 1.15), water baptism (Matthew 3.6; Acts 2.38, 8.34-38, 19.4), and belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 16.13-16; John 11.25-27). Believing in Jesus according to the gospel of the kingdom meant believing Who He was, i.e., believing in His name (cf. John 3.18; Acts 2:21, 38, 3:6, 16, 4:7, 10, 12, 17, 18, 30, 5:28, 40, 41, 8:12, 16, 9:14, 15, 21, 27, 10:43, 48). This gospel focused upon the identity of Christ.

Paul

Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Paul placed little emphasis on repentance or baptism in his evangelistic ministry. I believe I would not be wrong in stating that Paul only mentioned repentance in reference to unbelievers once in his letters (Romans 2.4). With regard to water baptism, Paul declared, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1.14-17). Later, he wrote that there was only one baptism (Ephesians 4.5). Since Paul obviously meant that the one baptism was baptism by the Holy Spirit, we must conclude that water baptism ceased during Paul’s ministry and has no Scriptural support as a Christian practice.

The focus of belief in the ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve was that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16.13-16; John 11.25-27). Paul preached this kingdom gospel immediately following his conversion (Acts 9.19-22). However, shortly afterwards, the ascended, glorified Lord gave Paul a new gospel (Galatians 1.11-12). Paul’s gospel (Romans 2.16, 16.25), was different from the gospel of Jesus and the Twelve. Paul’s gospel was that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). This gospel was not preached during Jesus’ earthly ministry or by the Twelve. Paul referred to this gospel as “my gospel” (Romans 2.16, 16.25; 2 Timothy 2.8; Galatians 2.2). This indicated it was different from the gospel Jesus or the Twelve preached. Luke’s account of the Council of Jerusalem made this clear (Acts 15). Paul revealed that his gospel was a “secret” (μυστήριον, cf. Romans 16.25). The Twelve had no understanding Jesus would die and rise from the dead (Luke 18.31-34; John 20.3-10). For them, Christ’s death was not good news. Even after Jesus’ resurrection Christ’s death was not preached as good news. The biblical record is that Christ’s death was preached as bad news. Peter’s sermons demonstrated he regarded the death of Christ as a message of condemnation to Jews–a heinous act that demanded repentance (Acts 2.22-42, 3.12-26). Peter preached the fact of Jesus’ resurrection as good news but its significance was that Israel could still have their King and the kingdom if they repented. He did not preach the death and resurrection of Christ for salvation.

For Paul, the preaching of the cross was salvation (1 Corinthians 1.18, 15.1-4) and was glorious (1 Timothy 1.11). Paul’s gospel created so much friction that the apostles called a special council around 51 A.D. to consider it. The reader should understand that Paul was probably saved around 34-37 A.D. So a range of time of 14-17 years had passed before the Council at Jerusalem met. That’s a long time. At the Council, after considerable argument, Peter made an astonishing (from a Jewish perspective) statement. Prior to Peter’s statement, the message of the Twelve was that Gentiles could be saved only the way Jews were saved. But at this council, Peter, under the power of the Holy Spirit, officially recognized (in light of Paul’s revelations and ministry) that Jews now had to be saved as Gentiles (Acts 15.6-11). This was a watershed moment. After Peter made this declaration Paul wrote the Galatians that anyone who preached a gospel different from his was to be accursed (Galatians 1.8-9). Paul could not have written this prior to the Council of Jerusalem. Prior to Peter’s statement the Twelve legitimately preached the gospel the earthly Christ had revealed to them. During this same period Paul preached the gospel the heavenly Christ had revealed to him. Both were valid gospel messages; both had been commanded by the Lord. However, after the Council of Jerusalem, only Paul’s gospel of grace was valid. The gospel of the kingdom preached by the Twelve was formally supplanted by Paul’s gospel. Paul’s gospel focused upon the work of Christ, rather than upon the identity of Christ.

2. The Kingdom for Jesus and Paul

Jesus

The message John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve preached was that the King of Israel had arrived and that the kingdom of heaven was near (Matthew 3.1-2, 4.12-17, 9.35; Luke 3.2-17, 4.16-19). This kingdom was an earthly, political kingdom in which the Messiah would reign as King (Zechariah 14.9). It was the kingdom proclaimed by the prophets in which Israel would be preeminent among the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13) and for which the Magi (Matthew 2.1-12), Zacharias (Luke 1.8-17, 67-79), Mary (Luke 1.26-38, 46-55), Simeon and Anna (Luke 2.25-38) longed. To enjoy this kingdom required that the Jewish nation repent and accept Jesus as their King and Messiah. Once the nation repented, God would fulfill the promises He had made in His covenants to Israel. The primary beneficiaries of the “kingdom of heaven” were Jews, not Gentiles, since God’s covenant promises focused upon Jews (Ephesians 2.11-12).1 Ever since God had called Abraham, He had dealt exclusively with the nation of Israel. God had no direct dealings with Gentiles as He had before Abraham. Beginning with Abraham, God created a new plan in His dealing with the human race. This explains why Jesus commanded His disciples not to go to Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-6) and why He had contact with only two Gentiles (one by proxy) during His three-year ministry.2 The Old Testament prophesies revealed that Gentiles would be blessed through Israel (Isaiah 42.1-4, 60.1-3). During the Messianic kingdom, Israel will become preeminent among the nations of the world with the Lord Himself reigning as David’s greater Son (Deuteronomy 28.1-14; Luke 1.32; cf. Zechariah 14.9). In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus taught about this program. The Sermon has nothing to do with the Church, the body of Christ. It has everything to do with Israel’s earthly kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount is the charter of that kingdom and revealed what life will be like when Jesus reigns on earth as King.

Paul

Paul referred to “kingdom” 14 times in his epistles. To the discerning reader it should be clear that Paul meant something different from Jesus in His references to the kingdom. When Paul used the term, he meant God’s overall realm of rule (Romans 14.17; 1 Corinthians 4.20, 6.9-10; 15.24, 50; Galatians 5.21; Ephesians 5.5; Colossians 1.13, 4.11; 1 Thessalonians 2.12; 2 Thessalonians 1.5; 2 Timothy 4.1, 18). Thus, for Paul, the kingdom included both Israel’s earthly kingdom as well as the Church, the body of Christ’s reign as a heavenly people. Paul, as apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13), wrote to the body of Christ and had nothing to say about the kingdom in respect to Israel’s covenants, Old Testament prophecy, or Jesus reigning as David’s Son.

Paul emphasized the Church, the body of Christ. This terminology was entirely absent from the teaching of Jesus and the Twelve and unknown until the ascended Lord revealed it to Paul. It was new. Peter, James, John, Jude, etc., did not teach it and knew nothing of it until they learned about it from Paul. Paul taught that the citizenship and position of the body of Christ was heavenly (Ephesians 1.3, 2.6; Philippians 3.20; Colossians 1.5), not earthly as was citizenship of the kingdom of heaven. Paul’s last written words were, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4.18). For Paul, God’s kingdom as related to the body of Christ was heavenly and wholly different from the earthly kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve.

3. Presentation of Jesus as King and Head

Jesus

The gospels present Jesus as King of the Jews (Matthew 2.2, 27.11, 29, 37; John 18.39, 19.14; Luke 1.32) and as Messiah or Christ (Matthew 1.1, 16, 18, 16.16, 20, 26.63, 27.17, 22; Mark 15.32; Luke 2.11, 26, 4.41, 23.2, 35; John 1.41, 4.25-26; 11.27, 17.3, 20.31). Jesus came as minister to Israel to fulfill the Old Testament promises (Romans 15.8).

Paul

For Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ was the ascended Lord, not the earthly Messiah (2 Corinthians 5.16). Paul never referred to Jesus as the King of the Church. In relation to Israel, Jesus is the King of Israel, the King of the Jews. He is not the King of the Church for the Church is His body, the body of Christ, not a kingdom. A king has subjects. Members of the Church, the body of Christ are joint-heirs (Romans 8.17) not subjects. As such, the proper title for Christ for us is Head (Ephesians 1.22-23, 4.15, 5.23; Colossians 1.18) and Lord (Romans 1.4, 7, 5.11, 21, 14.9; Ephesians 1.17; Philippians 2.11, 3.8; 1 Thessalonians 3.11).

4. Repentance, Baptism, and Faith

Jesus

We have touched on these already. Jesus proclaimed repentance, baptism, and belief. These three were bound together in Jesus’ kingdom gospel. Repentance was the first step in kingdom salvation (Matthew 3.2, 4.17; Mark 1.4, 15, 6.12; Luke 3.3, 5.32, 13.3, 5, 24.47). Peter continued this message after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. He demanded that the Jews repent, be baptized, and believe (Acts 2.38, 3.19). Water baptism was required for salvation in the kingdom gospel (Mark 16.16; Acts 2.38, 8.34-38). Saving faith was the belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16.15-16; John 11.26-27; Acts 8.36-37), not that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. Another way of stating this is that the message of salvation of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the message of the Twelve was based upon the identity of Christ while Paul’s gospel of grace focused on the work of Christ–that He died for our sins and arose from the dead.

Notice also the content of what most know as the Lord’s Prayer regarding the Lord’s words about forgiveness of sins. In the gospels of Luke and Matthew we have a record of this prayer. Luke recorded:

1It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2And He said to them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
‘Give us each day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation’” (Luke 11.1-4).

Matthew recorded:

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6.7-15).

In both accounts Jesus taught that God’s forgiveness depended upon one forgiving others. Paul’s teaching was entirely different.

Paul

Paul’s gospel is a gospel of faith alone: faith + 0. It is sola fide. Paul’s gospel is a grace gospel, not a kingdom gospel. Paul’s gospel of salvation is that we believe Christ died for our sins and rose again (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Jesus’ gospel and the gospel of the Twelve was to believe Jesus was the promised Messiah. No one today preaches that one is saved by believing Jesus was the promised Messiah. Why not? Because that was the gospel of the kingdom, not the gospel of the grace of God. Our gospel is that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.

Contrast what the Lord taught in the Lord’s Prayer with what Paul taught regarding forgiveness. Paul wrote the Ephesians the following:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4.32).

A vast difference exists between what Jesus and Paul taught about forgiveness. Jesus taught God’s forgiveness depended upon forgiving others. Paul taught that the believer’s forgiveness was an accomplished fact and because of this we should forgive others (Ephesians 1.7; Colossians 1.14).

 5. Audiences of Jesus and Paul

Jesus

Jesus came as Israel’s Messiah (Romans 15.8). His ministry was to Jews exclusively (Matthew 10.5-6). As noted above, He made two exceptions: the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15.21-28) and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8.1-13 cf. Luke 7.1-10). Because of the great faith of these individuals Jesus relented His Jew only policy to grant their requests.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension Peter and the Twelve addressed the nation of Israel. Most people think the disciples ministered to Gentiles as well as Jews in light of the so-called “Great Commission” of Matthew 28.16-20. But the biblical record states otherwise. The Twelve continued to address Jews only. They recognized the Jewish priority of God’s kingdom program proclaimed by the prophets that Gentiles were to be blessed through Israel. Because of this, they could not go to Gentiles until the Jewish nation repented and believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. To have done so would have been to disobey God. Thus, even in the face of severe persecution, the Twelve, the leaders, refused to leave Jerusalem and go into Gentile territory (Acts 8.1). Even as late as Acts 11.19 (probably about 38 A.D.) the gospel preached from the Jerusalem church was to Jews alone.

Paul

Paul was saved and commissioned as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). As we have seen, Jesus ministered exclusively to Jews and the Twelve were apostles to Israel, not to Gentiles. Jesus had promised them rulership over Israel, not over Gentiles (Matthew 19.28). God began an entirely new program with Paul. The Old Testament kingdom program was in place during Jesus’ earthly ministry and would have been fulfilled if the nation had repented. Paul explained this truth in his excursus on Israel in Romans 9-11. Paul wrote Israel will repent and God will fulfill His covenant promises to the nation (Romans 11.25-27). The next event on the prophetic timeline as revealed in the Old Testament was the Day of the Lord–a time of divine wrath. Peter expected this event to occur soon and quoted Joel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.14-21). But God in His mercy interrupted this kingdom program to bless Gentiles in spite of due Israel’s disobedience. In His matchless God grace delayed His wrath. He saved Paul to minister to Gentiles. Thus, Paul, a Jew, became the “Jewish agent” to bless Gentiles. He typified a reborn Israel and this is why he referred to himself as one “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15.8). God revealed to Paul the body of Christ and other secrets He had kept hidden from the prophets and the Twelve.3

6. Jesus Ministered Under Law, Paul Ministered Under Grace

Jesus

Jesus ministered under the Law of Moses throughout his earthly ministry (Matthew 5.17-18). He constantly referred to the Mosaic Law as a basis for His ministry and to authenticate His ministry (Matthew 7.12, 8.4, 12.5, 12, 23.1-3; Mark 1.44; 10.3-4; Luke 10.25-29). Gentiles had nothing to do with the Mosaic Law. God gave it to the Jews, not Gentiles (Ephesians 2.11-13).

Paul

Paul was born under the Mosaic Law. He was a Pharisee who knew and rigorously enforced the Law (Philippians 3.5-6). But after his conversion, Paul taught that the those who believed his gospel were not under the Law of Moses. Paul taught believers are under grace rather than Law (Romans 6.14-15). He taught that the believer of his gospel was free from the Law of Moses and that Law had no claim upon him due to the believer’s identification with Christ in his crucifixion and resurrection (Romans 7.1-12, 8.2, 10.4). Paul taught that only by becoming dead to the Law can one live the Christian life (Galatians 2.19, 4.21, 5.1, 18).4

Conclusion

To reconcile Jesus and Paul we must be faithful to the text and recognize that major differences exist between their ministries. The Scriptures do not contradict one another for God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14.33). We simply need to recognize that God had a program for Israel which He revealed to the prophets and a new program for the Church, the body of Christ, that He revealed to Paul.

Jesus and the Twelve ministered to Jews under the Mosaic Law and preached the gospel of the kingdom to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies of Israel’s earthly kingdom with the Messiah as King (Romans 15.8). Paul ministered to Gentiles (Romans 11.13) under grace, apart from the Law, and disclosed secrets the ascended and glorified Lord had revealed to him. Paul taught that believers of his gospel, the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4; Romans 2.16, 16.25), were members of the body of Christ with Christ as its Head, not its King. Finally, in addition to the differences noted above, were other “secrets” the risen Lord revealed unto Paul alone. These are the subject of the article Paul’s “Mystery.” What can we conclude with regard to reconciling Jesus and Paul?

Saul of Tarsus did not become Paul the Apostle by human efforts (Romans 1.1-6; Galatians 1.1, 15-24). He became the apostle of the grace of God by the sovereign will of the glorified Christ. Just as God established His plan with Israel beginning with Abraham, He began a new plan with Paul. God created Israel beginning with Abraham. God created the Church, the body of Christ, beginning with Paul. The risen Lord revealed His plan through Paul just as He revealed His plan through Abraham and later, Moses. The two are different but complementary and not contradictory, for God cannot contradict God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, Israel and Church. God is sovereign over both His earthly people, Israel, and over His heavenly people, the Church, the body of Christ. We both have one Master. Each has its own glory and purpose before God. The glory of God is in heterogeneity and in homogeneity. Both Israel and the Church are citizens of the kingdom of God as Paul expressed it–the rule of God over all creation. We share different blessings and serve under different contexts but have the same Lord. Paul taught this reality in his great example of the olive tree5 in Romans 11. Summing up his revelation, he concluded by exclaiming:

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11.33-36).

The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is unique to Matthew. The term is a genitive of source and means that the source of this kingdom is heavenly or divine. It is not a genitive of location meaning that it is located in heaven. The kingdom of heaven is future and will be located on earth. The chief beneficiaries will be Jews (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13). During that time God will fulfill His covenantal promises to them. Gentiles will be blessed in this kingdom through Israel (Isaiah 42.6, 49.6, 60.3; Zechariah 8.23) for Israel will be the premier nation among the nations (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13), a nation of priests (Exodus 19.5-6). The Church, the body of Christ, will be joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8.16-17). God has not revealed what this entails or what our role will be during His Millennial reign.
See the author’s study, Two Remarkable Healings.
See the author’s study, Paul’s Mystery.
See the author’s study, Paul and the Law.
See the author’s study, The Olive Tree.

©2011 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated February 27, 2014.


68 Responses to Jesus vs. Paul

  1. scott leonard says:

    Thanks for this article. I have some questions as I learn:

    If this is true–that there is a difference in the salvation of their audiences–are you saying none of the saved among the audiences of Peter and James were born again? Obviously that is a problem, since Peter says twice in ch 1 that they were recipients of the new birth.

    Also, 1Peter2:10 he says, “for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God….” Sounds like he was talking to Gentiles, like Paul in Eph 2:12.

    And does Eph 3:6 conflict with what you’re saying? (…the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”?

    Also, didn’t Jesus give the same Great Commission to ALL the disciples in Mt 28: “…make disciples of all the nations….teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you…” ??

    • doctrine says:

      Scott,

      Thanks for your questions. I’ll answer them in order.
      1. Both the audiences of Peter and Paul were saved. What changed was the content of the gospel. How was Peter saved? Read Mt. 16. Martha–see John 11. We are saved not by believing Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. We are saved by believing Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (Paul’s gospel).
      2. Peter wrote to Jewish believers. See 1 Pet. 1.1 cf. James 1.1. He quoted from Exodus 19.6. Moses spoke these prophetic words to Jews.
      3. Paul revealed that under his gospel no distinction exists between Jew and Gentile. Both are one in Christ. Paul was the only one who wrote about the body of Christ. Paul revealed this was a mystery, i.e., a secret. The Twelve knew nothing of it until they learned about it from Paul. The risen Christ revealed this to Paul.
      4. Jesus gave the Great Commission to Jewish believers not Gentiles. Paul revealed our commission in 2 Cor. 5.16-21. See my article The Great Commission.

      The great formal change in salvation and the ministries of Peter and Paul came in Acts 15. Acts 15.11 is The Great Hinge (article I’m writing now). Before this, people were saved under both Peter and Paul’s gospels. After Acts 15.11 Peter declared that only Paul’s gospel was valid. This is why Paul could write such a strong statement in Gal. 1.6-9. Before Acts 15 (Peter’s statement) Paul could not have written this.

  2. scott leonard says:

    Again, thanks so so much for sharing this. I am learning.

    Is it the word “aliens” in I Peter 1:1 that demands that Peter is addressing Jewish believers, (I’m an alien, too!), or that they were scattered? Also, I Peter 4:3,4 seems to indicate they were Gentiles who used to sin with the rest of them? Scofield sees 2:10 as to Gentiles. JFB sees 1Pe 1:14; 2:9, 10; 3:6; 4:3 as clear evidence it was written to Gentile Christians as well as Jewish ones.

    It seems your last point is a stretch, in that whatever Jesus commanded in that Commission, it was for the whole world, for all his people, to the end of the age.

    So please give more light, if you have time. Thanks!

    • doctrine says:

      Two words govern “aliens”–παρεπίδημος (someone who has come to live in a foreign land) and διασπορά (usually of Jews dispersed to foreign lands particularly as a result of the Babylonian captivity). In the NT these were identified as Hellenists, i.e., Jews who had adopted Greek culture. See Acts 2.5-10 and James 1.1. His quotations from the OT referred to promises made to Jews not Gentiles. We have no evidence that Peter (or any of the Twelve) had a ministry to Gentiles. See esp. Gal. 2.7-9.

  3. Jcbmack says:

    Actually Peter does have a mission to the Gentiles prior to what you say:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Acts/Peters-Defense-Gentile-Mission

    • doctrine says:

      Peter’s visit to Cornelius in Acts 10 was a one-time event and occurred after Paul was saved. When Peter returned to Jerusalem we read that the apostles and other believers were upset that Peter had gone to a Gentile (Acts 11.1-2). If they had been evangelizing Gentiles why would they have been upset? We have no Biblical record of the Twelve ministering to Gentiles (cf. Acts 11.19, 21.19-20 cf. Galatians 2.7-9). Evangelism to Gentiles did not begin until after Paul was saved and such ministry was done almost exclusively by Paul or through his converts. The commentary you mention is an example of the non-Scriptural thinking I have written about in The Christian Myth.

  4. Thomas says:

    Every time I read the Bible, one of the interesting things is that you take different things from it. It is no more static than we are as people and individuals.

    I believe in God’s grace, but also that we as humans translate it (as best we can). I’ve gotten harder on Paul than I used to be, perhaps because I find his “translation” lacking and see so many human flaws in him. Arrogance is chief among those.

    His tone is often dismissive and even snide regarding the Disciples. He takes what he wants from their messaging and adds his own. When he runs into disagreement, he passes off his view as divine knowledge, which can be used for pretty much any religious stance. With all due respect Paul, your “visions” matter little when compared to the actual experiences of the disciples who lived with Jesus. I’ll trust those who were there over you and indeed, if they’re disagreeing with you, those particular views seem even more suspect.

    Paul comes off as a photocopy of the Word and like all photocopies there are distortions and a falling away from the true, original. Paul was a man of deep faith and an incredibly effective salesman. Keeping with the law, especially adult circumcision (ouch!) is harder to sell, thus it gets the boot. Jesus’ death a downer? Not at all, in fact Jesus’ death was great news (I see it as both personally).

    It’s not controversial to say that Paul was the most successful at spreading the Word and that without him we likely would not have had Christianity, at least not of the same size and scope. But that is not the same as saying that his message was accurate, or even close to the reality of Christ. God is God, but you have to wonder how much of Jesus’ message as God’s son was lost, plastered over by Paul’s more successful conversions.

    In the event of Jesus’ second coming (a literal one, imagine a man bathed in light walking in robes), I imagine his first question for us would be why we aren’t obeying the Law? Just because something is easier (not obeying the law), does not mean it is still what God wants, Gentile or Jew.

    • doctrine says:

      Thomas,

      Without Paul, we don’t have Christianity. The 12 knew nothing of the Church, the body of Christ, our identification in Christ’s death and resurrection, the gospel of grace, the rapture, the blinding of Israel, etc. Furthermore, the 12 never ministered to Gentiles. Paul always had to defend his ministry from those who wanted to put Gentiles under the Mosaic Law. This was one of the reasons he declared that he had worked harder and suffered more than all of the 12. He also recognized that by the Lord’s grace he had been shown things they had no clue of and that these revelations had superseded the things the 12 knew. In truth, like Moses, Paul was probably the most humble man on the planet.

      • Thomas says:

        Thank you for the response. However, your comments are an excellent defense of being a “Pauline”, but not necessarily a Christian. It seems a defense for Paul essentially making things up. The bottom line is that he was not there. The 12 bore witness DIRECTLY to the gospel of Christ. No translation, no A-B-C communication. They were there, so I find it strange to discount them, or to place Paul’s interpretations superior to theirs. I find it equally strange to say they knew nothing of the Church when Christ told Peter that he was the rock on which he would build his Church and is recognized as the first Pope. Or did Christ know nothing of the Church too?
        The 12 were not nearly as effective at selling the message as Paul. Paul was better at telling his audience what they wanted to hear, which raises my original concern of the message of Christ vs. what Paul created. Your description of Paul declaring that he had worked harder and suffered more than all of the 12 is not at all indicative of a humble person. Paul’s arrogance does not make him right or wrong.
        I agree, without Paul we do not have Christianity. It’s whether that Christianity has much relation to Christ’s actual life, teachings, death, and resurrection that is the central question. From his writings and the non-Pauline books of the New Testament, there are serious philosophical differences.

        • doctrine says:

          Thomas,

          The Twelve received their apostolic commission and doctrine from the earthly Lord. Paul received his apostolic commission and doctrine from the heavenly Lord (Acts 9.3-16, 22.6-21, 26.13-18). Both were direct experiences. One was earthly, the other heavenly. Paul related he had received his gospel directly from the risen Lord (Galatians 1.11-12, 2.1). He received information about the Lord’s Supper directly from the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 11.23-25). Notice how many times Paul wrote, “Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” All the doctrine Paul termed “secret” (μυστήριον) he received directly from the glorified Lord (cf. Ephesians 3.1-7). The Twelve knew nothing of these doctrines until they learned them from Paul. Even at the end of Peter’s life he had a hard time comprehending them (2 Peter 3.15-16). Now as for arrogance, Paul declared he was the least of all saints (Ephesians 3.8). Does that sound arrogant? One must understand the context of Paul’s statement of having worked harder than all the rest (1 Corinthians 15.10) and suffered more (2 Corinthians 11). Paul was always under attack and having the defend his ministry. That is why he said those things.

  5. MVS says:

    Absolutely great article!
    Very refreshing to find out that there are still some who read their bibles!

  6. Shelvin says:

    This is a great article. Thank you very much.
    I pray that all would come to understand the powder of God that can transform lives as the Lord did in the Apostle Paul on that road to Damascus, and that the Holy Spirit would direct us in the pursuit of truth.

    Thank you once again to all who wrote this article .

  7. Faith alone says:

    Can someone just believe Romans 10:9 Confess Jesus is Lord and Believe God raise him from the dead and they are saved? or only believing 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 alone saves or is it both?

    • doctrine says:

      1 Corinthians 15.1-4 is the most complete and clear definition of Paul’s gospel. Romans 10.9 is a restating of it in an abbreviated form. The point is that we are saved solely by the work of Christ on the cross and the proof that His work accomplished the payment of sins was His resurrection. Salvation by faith alone is simply believing what God has declared. It is trust in a person–God Himself.

  8. Saved Forever says:

    Why use NASB bible? The King James bible is the only Bible that is not a Copy of the Vatican Bible with edits?
    Example NASB
    1 Peter 2
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    As Newborn Babes

    2 Therefore, putting aside all [a]malice and all deceit and [b]hypocrisy and [c]envy and all [d]slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the [e]pure [f]milk of the word, so that by it you may grow [g]in respect to salvation,

    and KJV
    we are already saved but growing in faith

    KJV 1 Peter 2:2
    1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

    2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

    The King JAmes bible is the only true translation in English that is not a lie

    • doctrine says:

      The KJV translators were godly men but more manuscripts have been discovered and studied since their day. The real issue is to discern the best texts, for they are the basis of translations. This is a matter of textual criticism. In a nutshell, we have 105% of the information and the challenge is to determine the right 100%. The KJV is a very good translation but it is not perfect.

  9. Saved Forever says:

    What are all of your thoughts on the Roman Road and compare it to 1 cor. 15:1-4 please

    • doctrine says:

      1 Corinthians 15.1-4 is the clearest expression of Paul’s gospel. Romans is the clearest expression of the faith + 0 aspect of that gospel and man’s need of it.

  10. William says:

    Did Jesus ever make a reference of Paul in His earthly ministry? I think maybe so. Paul described himself as “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,..” Eph 3:8, and “For I am the least of the apostles,..” 1 Cor 15:9. Paul never seemed to overcome the fact that he was a brutal persecutor of those early Jewish believers that Jesus was the promised one of Israel, their Messiah.

    Jesus states something peculiar in Matt 11:11 when speaking of John the Baptist. “ Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matt 11:11 (emp added)

    It certainly indicates here that whoever claims to be the least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist. This is how Paul repeatedly described himself. Am I reading too much into this?

    Next to Jesus I consider Paul the greatest man to ever live.

    I cannot thank you enough for this website!

    William

    • doctrine says:

      William,
      Thank you and interesting thought. For my money, like you, Paul is THE great man apart from the Lord Himself. Look forward to meeting and thanking him.

  11. Saved Forever says:

    Was everyone saved by faith alone throughout the whole bible or did they had to do animal sacrifices to cover the sins?

    • doctrine says:

      The idea of salvation by faith alone was unknown until Paul (apparent exception: Abraham). How one was saved before Paul’s clear statement (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) is rather difficult to determine. The record is unclear. It seems a Jew under the Law had to offer animal sacrifices and believe that they covered his sin. Jesus told the rich young ruler to keep the Law for eternal life. Jesus saw the faith of the lame man and told him he was forgiven. Peter, Mary, were saved by believing in the identity of Christ–that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Water baptism was also required according to Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.38, 22.16. Only from Paul’s revelation from the ascended Lord do we learn that salvation for us is by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ.

  12. kevin says:

    If the 12 or (the nation of israel)didn’t know anything about death and ressurection of christ? Why then it was foretold on Isaiah 53. It clearly states that jews were aniticipating the coming of their messiah and that he will fulfill what was prophesied?

    • doctrine says:

      Kevin,
      Isaiah 53 is the only OT passage that deals with the Messiah’s work regarding sin. In contrast, hundreds of passages deal with the establishment of the earthly kingdom and Israel’s preeminence. Read Luke 1-2 and notice the emphasis: kingdom vs. sin. What were they looking for? When Jesus explicitly spoke of His death and resurrection, the 12 had no clue what He was talking about. Why? God kept it hidden (Luke 18.31-34).

  13. kevin says:

    If the twelve were directed to preach only to the jews as Matthew 10:5-6 says? why then on mark16:15-16 jesus said what he said? Could you please give me a clearer understanding on how to make out of both verses? And also I read faith and works in james solving the problem, I understand that faith alone is necessary for believers to be save,and enter heaven. I don’t see any verses on old testament that believers entered heaven. Is their salvation a physical one?

    • doctrine says:

      Kevin,
      See Acts 1.8 and Acts 8.1. The 12 were to go to Gentiles after Israel. This presumed Israel would repent. A number of OT verses state Gentiles would be blessed by Israel and Jews will fulfill this role in the Messianic kingdom (see Zechariah 8.20-23). OT believers had no concept of dying and going to heaven. That is why you find no verses about it. Believers in the OT went to paradise, a.k.a. Abraham’s bosom (cf. Luke 16.22). This is where Jesus went as the creed says, “He descended into hell.” In His resurrection He emptied hell (Paradise) and took them to heaven to await resurrection. Dying and going to heaven is a Pauline doctrine.

  14. Gilly10 says:

    Jesus Christ said this “This gospel of the KINGDOM shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14)’. However, Paul said this “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:8).” I would like to know what are your thoughts about these two verses? Also, based on these two verses what should we do, preach the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of grace?

    • doctrine says:

      Paul’s gospel, 1 Corinthians 15.1-4 is the only valid gospel today. The gospel of the kingdom was to believe Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God and be baptized. No cross, no resurrection. It will again be preached, just as Jesus said, before the end, for in those days, the issue will be who is the true God–the Antichrist or Jesus Christ.

  15. Reda says:

    Thank you for this open dialogue. May God’s presence be sensed and experienced by all, and may God continue to reveal and clarify to us all. There seems to be this distinction between the gospel of the Kingdom versus the gospel of Grace. Would you consider that the word ‘Christ’ within the gospel of Grace simply encompass all that is within the gospel of the Kingdom? For who is the ‘Christ’ if not the recognition/admission/profession of the identity of Jesus. Maybe too simplistic, but if accepted, then it is no longer to choose one or the other, rather they fit together. A continuation if you may rather than a distinction.

    • doctrine says:

      Reda,
      “Christ” is the Greek rendering of “Messiah,” or Anointed. This title primarily with relation to Israel but Paul also used it in writing Gentile churches. Both Israel and the Church have the same Savior. But what is distinctive is Paul’s revelation of Christ as “Head.” This was never revealed to Israel.

  16. Rodney says:

    I appreciate your clear well thought out articles. I have a question concerning the gospel preached after Acts 15. In Acts 21:20-24 we get an account where after Paul proclaims the great things God had done to the Gentiles through his ministry, James wants him to observe the myriads of Jews that are zealous of the Law and then to take a Jewish vow to prove to Jews that he doesn’t teach them to forsake the Law of Moses. Paul still seems to have a separate ministry to the Jews after Acts 15. Could the prohibition to preach any other gospel (Gal 1:8) mean only to Gentiles and that Peter and James could still preach the Kingdom gospel to the Jews?

    • doctrine says:

      Rodney,
      Thank you. I don’t think so. Notice Peter’s words in Acts 15.11. See my article, The Great Hinge.

      • Rodney says:

        I see your point in the article. Your analysis is that only the gospel of grace was valid after Acts 15 so I am puzzled by James’ behavior in encouraging Jews to follow the law and coercing Paul to engage in a Jewish vow process in Acts 21. It seems Paul is going along because he states that he has “become all things to all men” (See 1 Cor 9:19-22). Apparently James could not shake loose of Judaistic practices and did not understand the concept of salvation apart from the works of the law. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject.

        Thank you for your time.

        • doctrine says:

          Rodney,
          It appears that, as you wrote, James could not come to grips with Paul’s teachings even though they had come to an understanding in Acts 15. It was difficult (cf. 2 Peter 3.14-16). The Jews had been under the Law for 1,500 years and salvation had been on the basis of faith and works. Paul’s taught believers of his gospel were not under that Mosaic Law and that salvation was by faith alone. The most reasonable explanation for Paul’s behavior in Acts 21 was his great love for the Jews. The Lord had told Paul they would not listen to him but some lessons are learned the hard way. As a result, Paul ended up under house arrest–the prisoner of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3.1). Paul finally learned his lesson.

  17. Dennis McLelland says:

    Good article – you must study Les Feldick…

  18. Ryan says:

    So after reading the article i am still a little confused does Pauls teachings contradict those of Jesus and James?

    • doctrine says:

      Ryan,
      If we look at what Jesus/James taught and what Paul taught as one program we have major contradictions. If we look at what Jesus/James taught and what Paul taught as separate programs the contradictions vanish. Paul got his information from the same Lord as the Twelve. But the Twelve and James were apostles of Israel. Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles. My articles Faith and Works in James: Resolving the Problem and The Great Hinge may help in sorting this out.

  19. Jonathan Laughlin says:

    Saul is a Pharisee. The “leavening” Jesus warned about was the same as SAUL (who happily witnesses Stephens murder…and approved another death sentence “in absence”). “Pauls gospel” is feel good garbage. I can rob you (SAUL ADMITS…hence the phrase ” robbing Peter to pay Paul) and promote lies, as long as it all eventually gets “God” some glory then all is peachy. Paul/Saul is Bull to the SH1T, and you would hafta be totally misled and naive to not realize that -if a guy contradicts Jesus Christ my Savior, -and usurps Peters appointed (by Jesus) position as aposltle to the Gentiles…then he (Paul/Saul the murderous Pharisee) should be deemed “Anti-Christ”, since he deliberately and consistently attempts to contaminate THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, no matter how stinking flowery and confusing the seed of Satan may be. God bless. :)

    • doctrine says:

      Jonathan,
      Jesus chose Peter and the other apostles in His earthly ministry. He chose Paul in His heavenly ministry (Acts 9.1-9; Galatians 1). Jesus and the Twelve ministered to Jews, not Gentiles. Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). Apart from Paul we have no gospel of grace (Acts 20.24) and no gospel of salvation. The Jerusalem church learned this gospel from Paul. Peter declared they were wrong and Paul was right (Acts 15.1, 5, 11). The gospel of Jesus Christ for today is Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Only by believing it is one saved.

    • Gerald "Marty" Nichols, Jr. says:

      J.L.-
      I note that “Doctrine” answered your unseemly remarks in a gentle spirit, which is one sign he is on the right side of the disagreement. You miss the entire message of the Word of God by dissing Paul, whom Christ chose to speak truth to our time under grace. What is scary for you and your ilk is that there is no other path to heaven and eternity with Christ than that marked out by Paul.

  20. Eric says:

    Jesus preached justification by faith mostly. Not by works which any man can boast. Rather, faith in the bronze snake that Moses held up in the wilderness on a pole, so that all who look upon the snake will receive eternal live. Jesus is that snake on a pole. Get it?
    Those who eat Jesus will live because of Jesus. You search the Scriptures because in them you believe you have eternal life and those very Scriptures point to Jesus (the bronze snake on a pole), but you are unwilling to come to Jesus so that he can give you eternal life. Give you, get it? As in gift.
    Stop putting yourself between a rock and a hard place. Eternal life is easy.
    Moses put God between a rock and a hard place.
    Moses made a bet with God that God could not strike Moses dead before Moses got the children of Israel across the parted Red Sea. Moses held up his staff to try and make it easy for God, but Moses still won. Get it?

    • doctrine says:

      Eric,
      Scriptures are needed to support your point. Jesus operated under the Mosaic Law. See Matthew 19.16-17. What did Jesus tell the man? We find no record of Jesus nor the Twelve preaching justification by faith alone. Jesus and the Twelve preached faith + works. Salvation by faith alone was a new revelation Paul received from the risen Lord. See Acts 15.1, 5. The Twelve knew nothing of this doctrine as late as 51 A.D. This is why they argued with Paul. See my article, The Great Hinge.

  21. Annie says:

    At least 2 of your points are wrong!

    Jesus: 6. Operated under the Mosaic Law

    Jesus did not “operate” under the law of Moses.
    In Luke 16:16 he tells us that it was over and done
    with by the time of John and that many people were forcing their way into the Kingdom but it was oh so hard for anyone to drop their old Mosaic ways (sacrifices and the rest of
    the ritualistic religious voodoo). Many prophets, 1 Samuel and even a couple of psalms complain that repentance and good justice is all that God requires. Jesus would not have preached the end of the old ways if he was not observing the new way (his commandments) himself. That should put an end to the argument that Jesus perfectly kept the law of Moses and hence was not of the new system of grace. Just look at what grace is – the unmerited favour or mercy of God. That is what repentance and forgiveness is all about. Jesus preached grace when he said “be merciful….”

    Paul: 4. Preached faith alone as necessary for salvation

    Nope. 2Cor7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance unto salvation.
    from acts repentance + deeds.

    I believe Paul was a clever clogs whom was misunderstood by most even to this day.

    • doctrine says:

      Annie,
      Jesus referred constantly to the Law and the Prophets throughout His ministry. Matthew 5.17-19, 7.12, 8.4, 19.16-19 are just a few examples of how He was subject to it. The animal sacrifices were hardly “ritualistic religious voodoo.” They were pictures that declared the seriousness of sin and that death, and that the shedding of blood, was required for its forgiveness (Hebrews 9.22). God spent hundreds of years teaching this point so that when He offered His Son it would be understood (1 Peter 1.18-19). Paul wrote believers. When he referred to repentance it was in terms of sanctification as is the case of 2 Corinthians 7.10. Only one time did Paul write of repentance in reference to unbelievers: Romans 2.4. Salvation is a process: justification, sanctification, and glorification. To interpret a passage we must understand its context. In this case Paul was exhorting the Corinthians to “salvation” in the sense of their sanctification–living godly lives. The gospel is simple. It is believing Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Once believed, the other things can began to make sense.

  22. michael says:

    You say paul unlike the other twelve was an apostle to the gentiles. But wasn’t Jesus last comandment to his twelve for them to go out into the whole earth and preach the gospel. I agree with paul when his words are inagreement Jesus or when he is in agreement with GODs charactor.

    • doctrine says:

      Michael,
      Yes. Throughout the OT were prophecies of God blessing Gentiles (the nations) through Israel. Jesus told the 12 in Acts 1.8 to start in Jerusalem and then spread out. Peter preached to the whole house of Israel (Acts 2.36). But before they could go to Gentiles, Israel had to repent and trust in their Messiah. All Israel had to repent. They refused. This is why the 12 could not fulfill Jesus’ command to go to the nations. But God in His mercy raised up Paul, apart from the 12, to go to Gentiles. That was the beginning of Christianity. In Acts 3 Peter promised if they repented God would send Jesus to them. This is what Jesus had declared in Matthew 23.37-39. While that generation of Jews failed, a future one will succeed. All Israel will be saved as Paul wrote in Romans 11.26 for all Israel will repent.

  23. Paul says:

    Don, it is refreshing to see that there are those out their of the same understanding. I wrote a similar article, and it is posted at midactstruths.com if you are interested.

    Paul

  24. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    Could you help me with a thought.
    If the Law of Moses ended with John ( Luke 16:16 ) why did Jesus still talk and teach about the Law.
    Was those under the Gospel of the Kingdom still obliged to adhere to the Law.

    Thanks

    • doctrine says:

      Sue,
      Good question. Jesus was making a distinction between the message of the prophets and the message of John. John proclaimed the kingdom of God was near–the Messiah had arrived. John could have fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy of Elijah if the nation had repented. We know the Law did not end because Jesus kept it, e.g., when He healed a leper He told him to show himself to the priest as the Law required. The 12 went to the Temple after the resurrection and continued to minister under the Law. Even as late as Acts 15 the Jerusalem assembly was teaching that to be saved one had to keep the Law. And note James’ words to Paul in Acts 21.17-21. See Matthew 11.11-19. This passage gives insight into what Jesus meant.

  25. William says:

    I find myself asking one simple question which I put to you, would I not be the same Christian I am currently without adhering or even listening to Paul’s letters? In other words would I be any less of a devout Christian or close to the Lord in prayer and walk in my faith in this life on Earth? I ask sincerely. God Bless all here.

    • doctrine says:

      William,
      Paul was the founder of Christianity. Our Christian doctrine comes from Paul for it was to him that the risen Lord revealed truths He had not given the Twelve (Romans 15.8). Apart from Paul, we have no knowledge of the Church, the body of Christ, the equality of Jew and Gentile, how to live the Christian life, the Rapture, the blinding of Israel, etc. See my articles, Paul: Chief of Sinners? and Paul’s “Mystery” for more on this.

      • Patrick K.B. says:

        Jesus and Paul preached about the same king- which is Christ and the same subject- which is the church.

        Of course- the grace that Paul preached about only became available when the king of the kingdom-Christ-died on the cross and rose again.
        So definitely- it wouldn’t have made sense for Jesus to preach extensively about a grace he was yet to pay for.
        I can’t believe it when I see theologians trying hard to prove that the gospel of the kingdom is different from the gospel of grace.
        John the Baptist and Jesus Christ preached about the kingdom of heaven.
        They were only laying the foundation for what Paul would preach.
        Let us not forget that Paul met Jesus himself on the way to Damascus and it was Jesus who taught him about the grace of salvation.
        How does one receive the grace of salvation- by believing that Jesus died to pay for our sins and believing that he rose from the dead and most imp0rtantly-submitting to his kingship or lordship. This is where the 2 supposedly different gospels connect.
        In Matt 7:21 implied that those who receive the free gift of salvation but do not submit to the kingship of Christ in their lives might lose their free gift of salvation in the end.
        Jesus knew that we would subject this particular verse to all sorts of interpretations.
        So he gave us a clue that indeed- he was referring to people who would receive the free gift of salvation- which we refer to as the gospel of grace-
        See Matt 7:22 The signs listed here are mainly the signs that follow those who believe in Jesus- those who receive the gospel of grace-(Mark 16:15-17).
        Yet many of such people will lose their salvation because they did not live their lives in subjection to the king of the kingdom.
        Christ is not just the king of Israel- he is the king of kings.
        He is also the king of the church.
        The two gospels are the same.
        We receive the grace of forgiveness through the blood of the king-so we are saved.
        But in the process- we receive a new spirit and empowerment (also called grace) to live a life of subjection to the king of the kingdom.
        Both gospels are the same-one is the gateway (the gospel of grace) and the other is the path behind the gate- (the gospel of the kingdom)- the narrow gate and the narrow path.

        • doctrine says:

          Patrick,
          The problem with these views is that they have no Scriptural support. Jesus ministered to Jews, not Gentiles. Everything in the Gospels is addressed to Jews. The same is true in early Acts. If the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace are the same, why did the Twelve not go to Gentiles? We do not find Gentiles being evangelized until after the salvation of Paul. According to the OT program, Jews would accept their Messiah and then and only then evangelize Gentiles. This is what Jesus taught and explains what he said in Matthew 10.5-6. The gospel of the kingdom’s focus is upon the identity of Christ. The gospel of grace’s focus is the work of Christ. Jesus is never declared to be the King of the Church. He is declared the King of the Jews. For the Church, He is our Lord and Head. If we are to be faithful Christians we must be careful students and understand not only what the Scriptures state but what they do not state.

  26. Mark says:

    Hello. You mentioned in your article that the one baptism referred to by Paul is Holy Spirit baptism. Explain the only 2 times that Holy Spirit baptism is administered in the scriptures (Acts 2 & 11), it was not done through the hands of men and also it was done as a fulfillment of a promise made. Baptism in water is the only way another man can administer it. That is the one baptism for today. Paul did baptize, he just didn’t administer it to everyone who heard him preach. His main point was the apparent divisions starting to form due to whom some might have been baptized by. He was telling them their focus was to remain in Christ, not on who was doing the baptizing. Compare to John 4 where Jesus baptized more disciples than John but didn’t actually do the baptizing Himself.

    • doctrine says:

      Mark,
      The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when one believes Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). That is what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12.13. That baptism places the believer into the Church, the body of Christ. Paul declared Christ sent him not to baptize but to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1.14-17). We have no record he administered water baptism again. Paul wrote the Ephesians only one baptism was valid, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4.5).

  27. Mark says:

    Thanks for responding. You made my point. Why did Paul baptize at all if it’s of no consequence? You say it was not mentioned again. How many times makes it a valid point? Once, maybe 50 times. In God’s word it does not matter the amount of times something is spoken, it matters that we obey.

    Which baptism placed those in the church (assembly) who received the word in Acts 2:41?

    Who did the adding to the assembly in Acts 2:47?

    There is only one way.

    You made a comment that “God created the Church, the body of Christ, beginning with Paul.” If this was the case, explain how Paul had persecuted the church (assembly) before his conversion (Acts 22 & 1 Cor. 15:9)?

    • doctrine says:

      Mark,
      We have a progressive revelation. Everything does not occur at once. Water baptism began with John the Baptist and continued for a period of time. It was required for salvation (Mark 16.16; Acts 2.38) under the gospel of the kingdom. This is what is occurring in Acts 2. Under Paul’s gospel of grace, water baptism was practiced for a while but never required for salvation. The word for “church” is ἐκκλησία. It simply means a group of people. The “church” Saul persecuted were Jewish believers. They were not the Church, the body of Christ; God had not yet revealed this. The Church, the body of Christ, is an organism composed of those who have believed Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. Peter knew nothing of this as is evident on the day of Pentecost. That revelation came by the ascended Lord to Paul. Only Paul wrote about the Church as Christ’s body. Peter, James, John, Jude never mention it and knew nothing of it or of salvation by faith alone until they learned it from Paul (see Acts 15) and my article, The Great Hinge.

  28. courtney king says:

    I just read your article Jesus vs. Paul and thank you so much for wonderful article it is outstanding and may the the Lord bless you and all your house

  29. Yohanan says:

    Thanks for this article. I am so greatly blessed because some things are made clear and this confirmed the simplicity we have in Christ under His grace.

    I am a gentile believer who is a babe in Christ. I technically believed in the gospel of Paul when I was still in the process of conversion. But because I was not yet mature in Christ and still learning and growing in the grace of the Lord, I was easily led astray of some of the teachings of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Because of this, I was “trying to keep” the 10 commandments; even the 7th day Sabbath rest and was subject to apostasy.

    But because of His great mercy and the richness of His grace, Christ saved me from their teachings that brought condemnation to me every time I failed to keep it.

    And this testimony is for God’s glory, honor and adoration which are for Him alone forever. Amen.

    BTW, thanks Don for this article many people will be enlightened with this. God bless brother!

    • doctrine says:

      Yahanan,
      Thanks. May the Lord continue to guide you. Stay with Paul–the Apostle of Grace, the Apostle of the Gentiles. He is for us what Abraham and Moses were for Israel.

  30. Mark says:

    WOW! What an eye opener! I’ve never seen it this way before. How clearer can it get? God bless you. But I have a question: When Christ comes again to the earth will we ‘believing Gentiles’ come with Him?

    • doctrine says:

      Mark,
      Thank you. We have no explicit information about our being with the Lord when He goes forth to war. I hope so. What a day!

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