Paul: Chief of Sinners?

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1.12-17)

Introduction

The passage above has been greatly misunderstood. Most teach the point of the passage is Paul’s admission that he was the “chief of sinners,” that is, the greatest sinner who ever lived. In the translation above (NASB), the translators have added “of all” to ensure this point (verse 15). Even more egregious is the NET Bible translation, which adds, “and I am the worst of them!” Such “helps” add to the confusion.

Paul was a great sinner. He knew it. He never got over the fact that he persecuted those who had believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah (1 Corinthians 15.9). How many times must he have asked himself, “How could I, a Pharisee, schooled in the Law and prophets, have been so blind as not to recognize the Messiah?” “How could I, a beneficiary of the best education, taught by the most brilliant rabbi, have missed the One to Whom all the prophets pointed?” All that was true. But Paul’s sinfulness was not the main point of this passage.

The Word “πρῶτος”

The word in verses 15 and 16 translated “foremost” is πρῶτος. Its primary meaning is “first in time, place, in any succession of things or of persons.” It is found 156 times in the New Testament with Paul using the term 29 times: Romans 1.8, 16, 2.9-10, 3.2, 10.19, 15.24; 1 Corinthians 11.18, 12.28, 14.30, 15.3, 15.45-47; 2 Corinthians 8.5; Ephesians 6.2; Philippians 1.5; 1 Thessalonians 4.16; 2 Thessalonians 2.3; 1 Timothy 1.15-16, 2.1, 2.13, 3.10, 5.4, 5.12; 2 Timothy 1.5, 2.6, 4.16. If one examines Paul’s use of πρῶτος one will discover that in each case he used the term in its primary meaning, i.e., “first in time, place, etc.”1 This is weighty evidence to support our case.

Almost all translators have translated πρῶτος as “foremost” (NASB) or “chief” (KJV) or “worst” (NIV). Exegetically, such a sense is unlikely since Paul always used the word πρῶτος in its primary meaning. Second, do translators really expect us to believe Paul thought he was the “worst” sinner who ever lived? Did Paul believe he was worse than Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero? Did he think he was worse than Haman who tried to kill all the Jews? What about Ahab, Jezebel, the wicked kings of Israel, not the mention the evil kings who ruled Gentile nations? Such a conclusion should be highly suspicious to one who reads history, works with the Greek text, considers the context of a passage, or thinks critically. Paul as “worst of sinners” certainly does not agree with what he wrote elsewhere (cf. Philippians 3.4-6) and what he wrote a couple of verses before (1 Timothy 1.12-13).

Taken straightforwardly, verse 15 reads, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am first.” As noted above, almost all translations have translated πρῶτος as “foremost” by which they mean “worst.”2 The reason translators have made this translation is not because of grammatical or exegetical support, for, as we have seen, it is extremely weak. The reason translators have rendered the verse as they have is they have no idea what Paul meant by his declaration that he was the “first of sinners.” Since Paul referred to his sinfulness in verse 13, they seize the first part of the verse (without examining the full passage) and use it as a springboard to support the idea that Paul thought he was the “foremost,” i.e., “worst” of sinners. If one examines the verse in context, this translation becomes even more suspect and exegetically effete.

1 Timothy 1.16

What did Paul mean by “first of sinners” if he did not mean “worst,” “foremost,” or “chief” of sinners? To shed light on this, let us examine the context of Paul’s thought by looking at the next verse. In verse 16, Paul declared,

“Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”

The Greek text reads:

ἀλλὰ διὰ τοῦτο ἠλεήθην, ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ πρώτῳ ἐνδείξηται Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς τὴν ἅπασαν μακροθυμίαν, πρὸς ὑποτύπωσιν τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύειν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

A more accurate rendering is the following:

“But on account of this I received mercy, in order that by me first, Jesus Christ might demonstrate all patience, as a pattern to those who would thereafter believe upon Him for eternal life.”

Let us examine the verse to understand its meaning:

Verse 16a: But on account of this I received mercy, in order that by me first (πρῶτος)

Why did Paul receive God’s mercy? Paul argued that despite his sinfulness, God showed him mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1.13). Elsewhere, Paul declared God’s grace was greater than sin (Romans 5.20). God’s faithfulness and love trumped Paul’s sinfulness. In verse 16, Paul again (as in verse 15) used the word πρῶτος. What did Paul mean by claiming to be the first? This is a key question with which we will deal shortly.

Verse 16b: Jesus Christ might show all patience as a pattern (ὑποτύπωσις) to the ones about to believe upon Him for eternal life.

Paul recognized and emphasized God’s forbearance, patience, and grace towards him. This is especially important in light of the fact that the ascended Lord commissioned him to be the apostle of grace who proclaimed the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). The word “grace” (χάρις) is used by Paul far more than anyone or anywhere in the Bible.

The words πρῶτος and ὑποτύπωσις are inseparable to understanding Paul’s meaning. Paul declared he was “first” as a “pattern” (ὑποτύπωσις) for those who would believe on Christ for eternal life. Elsewhere, Paul emphasized he was a “pattern” by his commands for believers to imitate or copy him. No one else did this. Peter didn’t. James didn’t. John didn’t. Jude didn’t. It is highly significant Paul did. Paul used the nouns μιμητήςσυμμιμητής and the verb μιμέομαι to this purpose (1 Corinthians 4.16, 11.1; Galatians 4.12; Philippians 3.17; 1 Thessalonians 1.6; 2 Thessalonians 3.7, 9). In Philippians 3.17 and 2 Thessalonians 3.9 we have the “μιμ*” words coupled with τύπος, which means an “example” or a “pattern.” A pattern is a blueprint for something new, i.e., a prototype. What did Paul mean? The answer to that question requires that we understand God’s revealed plan prior to Paul.

God’s Revealed Plan

The plan God revealed to Abraham began with his call (about 2,000 B.C.). God promised Abraham that He would establish a special relationship with him and that from him He would create a new race of people (Jews). Through this people, God would  give covenants and promises. The covenants revealed God would establish His kingdom on earth (cf. Isaiah 2, Isaiah 11) in which the Messiah would reign (Zechariah 14.9). In this kingdom, Israel would be supreme among the nations (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13). As for Gentiles, they would be blessed through Israel (Isaiah 49.5-7; 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.20-23). These blessings had a condition. God’s blessings to Gentiles required Israel to become a nation of priests (Exodus 19.4-6). To achieve this, the nation had to accept their Messiah. When Israel’s Messiah arrived and presented Himself as King, instead of recognizing Him, the Jews instigated His crucifixion. In Acts, we read that while thousands of Jews believed Jesus was their Messiah, the overwhelming majority rejected Him–especially the nation’s rulers. This rejection reached a climax with Stephen’s stoning (Acts 7). Saul of Tarsus was an eye-witness of his execution; he held the clothes of the those who hurled the stones (Acts 7.58-60).

Since Israel rejected their Messiah, how could God’s promise to bless Gentiles come to pass? The short answer is: it couldn’t. God had revealed no plan to effect this. Gentile blessing depended wholly upon Jewish acceptance of their Messiah. This was an essential fact from God’s establishment of the Abrahamic Covenant. All Gentile blessing from that time forward had to come through Israel.

God’s revelation in the Old Testament through the covenants and His prophets consisted of the revelation of a Messiah, rejection of the Messiah, God’s judgment, and the establishment of His kingdom. God summarized these events in Psalm 2. God’s judgment was known as the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1.14-18) and Peter expected to occur soon (Acts 2.14-21 cf. Joel 2.28-32).

But God did an astonishing thing. He halted His revealed, prophetic plan. In mercy, He delayed His judgment–the Day of the Lord. Instead, He did something entirely unforeseen and unprophesied. God initiated and revealed a new plan–a plan of grace. Saul of Tarsus became God’s key to this new plan.

Paul the First

Saul of Tarsus had nothing to commend himself to God. He was a religious fanatic. To arrest, persecute, torture, and kill Jews who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah consumed him. From a perspective of divine justice, he deserved death. But God did not kill him; He saved him. And in saving him God commissioned him to be “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13) to preach the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4) in which one is saved by faith alone apart from the Law of Moses. In addition to revealing this gospel by faith alone, God revealed several other doctrines to Paul He had kept hidden. Paul called these doctrines “secrets” (μυστήριον).

Paul’s salvation and the revelations he received from the risen Lord were what Paul had reference to when he spoke of himself as πρῶτος “first.” Paul was the “first of sinners” in the sense that God saved him to inaugurate a whole new program. As the “first,” Paul was God’s prototype. To Paul, God revealed the “gospel of the grace of God” in which one is saved by faith alone–simply by believing that Christ died for one’s sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). This gospel was entirely different from the “gospel of the kingdom” inaugurated by John the Baptist and Jesus (cf. Matthew 3.1-2, 4.17, 9.35). Consider the following: how was Peter saved? Was it by believing Christ died for his sins and rose from the dead? No, Peter was saved by believing Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 16.16-17). Peter knew nothing of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Luke 18.31-34; John 20.8-9) with respect to its salvific significance. Martha was saved the same way, believing Jesus was the promised Messiah (John 11.25-27). How is one saved today? Is it by believing Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God? No, one is saved today by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).3

The gospel Peter proclaimed for salvation on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.38) was not Paul’s gospel. Peter did not tell Jews on the day of Pentecost to believe Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead to be saved. Peter had no knowledge of this gospel until much later–until Paul revealed it. The gospel Peter proclaimed at Pentecost was the gospel of the kingdom which required repentance and baptism. A vast difference exists between this gospel and Paul’s gospel.

To understand better the change God initiated with Paul, consider Peter’s experience with the Roman centurion. God commanded Peter to go to Cornelius’ house. Peter went, but went reluctantly. He shuffled his feet the entire way. Why? Cornelius was a Gentile. Prophetically, Gentile blessing was to come after Israel accepted her Messiah. Despite his unhappiness, Peter obeyed God. Notice how Cornelius was saved (Acts 10.34-48). How different was his salvation than what happened at Pentecost! At Pentecost, the order of salvation was: 1) Repentance 2) Baptism 3) Receipt of the Holy Spirit. With Cornelius it was 1) Belief (implied) 2) Receipt of the Holy Spirit 3) Baptism. Why the difference? Acts 10 comes after Acts 9. Cornelius was saved after God saved Paul. Cornelius, by the preaching of Peter, was saved in an entirely different way than what Peter had proclaimed at Pentecost. Peter had just begun to warm up in his message to Cornelius when suddenly, Cornelius was saved. Peter did not utter a single word about repentance or baptism. Cornelius just believed and received the Holy Spirit. Peter and the Jews with him were stunned (ἐξίστημι). It wasn’t supposed to happen that way! Why had it? Because Paul was “first.” Paul’s salvation and commission opened up a whole new plan of salvation. Did Peter understand this? Not at all. It would take many years for Peter to understand the significance of this event (Acts 15.11). Even at the end of his life, Peter did not understand some of what Paul taught (2 Peter 3.14-16).

After Cornelius’ salvation, Peter went his way and continued to preach the gospel of the kingdom. In the meantime, God gave Paul the revelations to lay the foundation for an entirely new program in which sinners were saved by faith alone apart from the Law of Moses. The ascended Lord revealed to Paul the Church, the body of Christ, in which Jews and Gentiles were equal “in Christ.”4 But why had God commanded Peter to go to the Gentile Cornelius’ house if Peter did not understand what had happened? God always has a plan. He would use Peter’s experience many years in the future to help Paul at the Council of Jerusalem. But that is another story5.

Paul: Founder of Christianity

Paul wrote the believers in Corinth:

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3.10-11).

The above passage is a parallel passage to what Paul had written to Timothy.

Parallel Accounts: Paul “First” (πρῶτος) and “Architect” (ἀρχιτέκτων)
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1.16 DARBY).
According to the grace of God which has been given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation, but another builds upon it. But let each see how he builds upon it. (1 Corinthians 3.10 DARBY).

In both passages, Paul acknowledged God’s mercy and grace to him. As noted above, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, declared he was the “first” and a “pattern” for those who would soon be saved. We find a similar, parallel text, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He wrote the Corinthians that he was the “architect” (ἀρχιτέκτων) who laid the foundation (θεμέλιος). What does an architect do? He designs the building and lays its foundation. Is the foundation the first part of the building or the last? It is the first. One cannot start a structure without a foundation. It constitutes a new beginning. What was that foundation? The foundation was Christ Himself and the truths He revealed to Paul. Paul called these truths “secrets” (μυστήριον). Paul used the word μυστήριον because the truths he received from the risen Christ were just that–“secrets”–information God had kept hidden until He revealed them to Paul. These “secrets” form the content of the revelation the risen Lord gave to Paul as the “first.” After Paul learned these truths, he communicated them to others so “another” (ἄλλος) could build on the new foundation established by these truths. Paul issued a warning in the latter part of the verse: “But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” Since Paul’s teaching came directly from the Lord, those who build on Paul’s foundation (1 Corinthians 3.11), must be careful to follow his teaching.

Conclusion

Saul of Tarsus was a religious fanatic and a great sinner. He recognized this fact after God saved and commissioned him as Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). The point Paul wished to make in 1 Timothy 1.15-16 was not to reveal the degree of his sinfulness but to communicate a much more important truth: that he was the one the ascended Lord chose to reveal doctrines He had kept hidden and to commission him to minister to Gentiles. Paul was the “first” in that sense. Paul’s new foundation is what we call Christianity. It was something new and different from the ministry of the Twelve and Judaism. This foundation was vastly different from the program Christ operated under in His earthly ministry (Romans 15.8) which Peter followed (cf. Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 2, Acts 3). In the divinely revealed program God gave Paul, Gentiles would receive God’s favor and blessing apart from Israel and apart from the Mosaic Law. This was new. God had revealed none of these doctrines through Moses and the prophets. God revealed nothing in the Old Testament of a joint body composed of Jew and Gentile equal in Christ. Jesus never revealed this in His earthly ministry. On the contrary, Jesus went to Jew only and commanded his disciples to do the same (Matthew 10.5-6; 15.22-24). Equality of Jew and Gentile as the Church, the body of Christ, was a (μυστήριον), a “secret” God kept hidden until He revealed it to Paul.6

As the receiver of God’s secrets Paul magnified his ministry to Gentiles (Romans 11.13). But he also taught God had not abandoned or forgotten His promises to national Israel. The ascended Lord had revealed to Paul the “secret” (μυστήριον) of Israel’s partial blindness (Romans 11.25) and that “all Israel would be saved” (Romans 11.26). This verse means exactly what it says. Every single Jew living on the earth when the Lord  returns will experience salvation (cf. Matthew 23.37-39). Until God removes the Church (Romans 11.25) God’s favor is directed primarily towards Gentiles, and especially the Church, the body of Christ, composed of Jew and Gentile who are equal in Christ. To Paul and Paul alone God revealed this great truth. To learn more of the other “secrets” God revealed to Paul, see the article Paul’s “Mystery”.

One possible though doubtful exception may be 1 Corinthians 15.3. The NASB has taken this view. On the other hand, the KJV has translated πρῶτος in its primary sense. The weight of the textual evidence from Paul’s other uses strongly favors the primary sense.
A notable and happy exception is Darby’s translation, who translates πρῶτος as “first” or “the first.”
3 The doctrine of salvation by faith alone, sola fide, was unknown before Paul. This is discussed in the article, Faith and Works in James: Resolving the Problem.
4 These changes took time. It was not like an electric light being turned on. Rather, it was like a sunrise in which night gradually turns to day. Even 11 years after Paul began his missionary journeys both the “gospel of the kingdom” and the “gospel of the grace of God” were in play. This led to the great Council of Jerusalem in 51 A.D. Believers who were in the Jerusalem church declared Gentiles could not be saved apart from circumcision and keeping of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15.1, 5). Paul opposed them and said Gentiles were saved by faith alone (1 Corinthians 15.1-4), apart from circumcision and the Law. Peter, as a result of his experience at Cornelius’ house and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, declared Paul was right and they were wrong. In addition, Peter stated that from that point forward, Jews had to be saved the same way as Paul’s Gentiles (Acts 15.11). This was a watershed event. It was the official and Scriptural end of the “gospel of the kingdom.” The gospel of the grace of God, Paul’s gospel, will continue until Christ removes the Church, the body of Christ. After that, the gospel of the kingdom will be reinstated and Jesus’ prophecy of the end will be fulfilled (Matthew 24.14). Paul could not have written the strong words of Galatians 1.6-9 until after the events and decision of the Jerusalem Council.
5 See the author’s article, The Great Hinge.
6 Some commentators have discussed the word μυστήριον in terms of the mystery religions. Such explanations are far-fetched. Paul was a Pharisaic Jew, not a Platonist. His world view was Judaism, not Greek philosophy or mystery religions. When Paul used the word μυστήριον, he used it in its basic sense: a secret, something unrevealed. Why complicate the straightforward and simple?

©2012 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated 2013-03-21.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

78 Responses to Paul: Chief of Sinners?

  1. doctrine doctrine says:

    Unless we see the doctrinal shift between Jesus and the Twelve’s ministry to Israel and Paul’s ministry to Gentiles the Bible becomes exceedingly complicated and filled with contradictions. Unfortunately, just and in Jesus’ day, most in Christendom follow the traditions of men rather than allowing the Scriptures to speak for themselves. Reading Paul back into the gospels violates all the principles of interpretation. If one will let the Scriptures speak for themselves and not read into them things that do not belong the message will be clear.

  2. Paul Miller says:

    What is your favorite Bible version? I was raised on King James but now my Presbyterian church uses NIV.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Paul,
      Hard to say. I like the majesty of the KJV and the general literalness of the NASB. Have never warmed to the NIV. Tyndale’s translations are usually fun (basis for most of KJV). If I want a really good translation I go to the Greek or Hebrew and do it myself!

  3. disciple of Jesus says:

    Your doctrine on God introducing a new plan of salvation through Paul is erroneous. Paul taught exactly what Peter preached on the day of pentecost. Peter did preach to the Jews about the death and resurrection of Christ 2:23-24. Cornelius was not saved before he repented and was baptized. If that was the case then why get baptized? Baptism is when you receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and when your sins are forgiven according to Acts 2:38. After the death, burial and resurrection of Christ the bible never says that your sins are forgiven by just believing. Romans 6:3-4 teaches us that when we are baptized into Christ and raised with Christ to a new life. Paul wrote the book of Romans and his teachings are 100% in line with what Peter taught on the day of Pentecost.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      If you are right, then rip Romans-Philemon from your Bible. Nowhere in Acts did Peter preach that to be saved one needed to believe that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. The reason: he did not know this. Furthermore, who was Peter’s audience? Jews only, no Gentiles. Everything related to salvation during Jesus’ earthly ministry and that of the Twelve was based upon the identity of Christ, who He was, not His work. His work was a new revelation God gave Paul. If Paul was preaching what the Twelve preached, then what was the controversy with Paul that necessitated the Jerusalem Council? Paul preached faith + 0 while those in the Jerusalem assembly preached faith + keeping the Law for salvation. We are baptized into Christ but this is an act of the Holy Spirit. Romans 6 contains no water. Water baptism as a legitimate practice ended by the time Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Paul explicitly stated this in Ephesians 4.

      • David says:

        Hmm.

        Rip Romans-Philemon out?

        These things could not have been Peter’s emphasis because he had a different (Jewish) audience. Anyone who addresses audiences in difference nations knows that you must adapt.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          That’s too easy. Paul adapted his message according to his audience also. But Peter and the Twelve knew nothing of Paul’s doctrine of salvation of faith + 0 as is clear from Luke and Paul’s account of the Jerusalem Council. They knew nothing of Paul’s “secrets,” i.e., the body of Christ, equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ, the Rapture, the blinding of Israel, etc. These things were revealed to Paul by the ascended Lord and are found in Romans-Philemon. One can find none of these doctrines in Peter or the other Jewish writers.

      • Markus says:

        I’m gonna start off honest and say that I don’t know the exact truth in this doctrine. Your argument for the most part is convincing that God generated a new plan through Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. But I don’t believe that Paul’s gospel is different in method of saving the soul. I believe absolute truth within the gospel shows that none can be saved except by the grace of God. Paul and Peter agree in this aspect. Now faith in Christ is the means by which one receives grace and is saved. Paul makes this clear, but Peter does say “repent” and be baptized in the name of Jesus. But repentence is a process which requires faith in Christ since one who repents must confess their sin, crucify it with Christ, and turn from their sin. Paul means the same thing when refering to faith in Christ, but the Gentiles are not yet aware of the entirety of their sins. This is where the distinction (I think) occurs. Peter preached repentence in general to the Jews because they had the Law and were accountable to it, whereas the Gentiles Paul preached to (and sent His letters to) had no prior knowledge of the law. God in no way would cause the Jews to have to uphold the law for salvation while the Gentiles don’t. That is preposterous because God does not show partiality. Paul indeed might have intended to say that he was one of the “first” sinners to see God’s law of grace performed since he persecuted the church for years and radically turned around. But he certainly did reveal secrets of the Gospel never known before him. However his ministry did not contradict peter’s but complemented. They taught the same Gospel to different audiences, the Gentiles and Jews received the grace of God, and they both recieved their salvation through Abraham’s example of faith. The gospel has been the same since the creation of the world, only different people saw different revelations, prophets, kings, apostles, and the like. This is my perspective at least, and I might be somewhat incorrect, but I am thoroughly assured that the church of Christ is made up of Jews and Gentiles, because I certainly have Jewish brothers and sisters.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Markus,
          The salvation message of Peter and Paul was different. If it wasn’t, there would have been no need for the Council of Jerusalem. See my article, The Great Hinge.

          • Michael73501 says:

            The happenings of Acts 15 were over questions regrading the keeping of the law of Moses – cf. Acts 15:5 with Galatians 2:4.

            That meeting of Acts 15 was not about differences in what the Apostles were teaching.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Michael,
              If you will read the Scriptures you will find there were vast doctrinal differences between Paul’s teachings and the teachings of Jesus’ earthly ministry which the Twelve carried on. The Jerusalem assembly, under the authority of the Twelve, taught one could not be saved apart from circumcision and keeping the Law. Paul taught salvation was by faith alone. Peter declared at Pentecost that salvation was through repentance and water baptism, not by believing Christ died for one’s sins and rose from the death (Acts 2.36-38). You might enjoy Jesus vs. Paul, The Great Hinge, The Christian Myth.

  4. child of God says:

    Thank you for the detailed explanations. I am thankful that I came across your articles. Is there an email Id that I can write to with questions or thoughts?

    Thank you again for the wonderful work that you are doing.

  5. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    The Jews needed to repent and be baptised to be saved, does the heavenly church need to repent at all?

    Thanks

    Sue

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      We find in Paul an emphasis on belief rather than repentance. In the gospel of the kingdom proclaimed by John the B., Jesus, the Twelve repentance received much greater emphasis. Paul’s emphasis on repentance is for believers, not unbelievers. Paul only wrote about repentance for unbelievers once (Romans 2.4). When one believes, one repents. One cannot believe the gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) with repentance occurring. So, believing the gospel should be proclaimed to unbelievers and believers should repent when we sin.

  6. Jimmy says:

    The statement by Paul “of whom I am chief of sinners” (or whatever it exactly is) is hyperbole. No one argues that Paul was saying he was the worst sinner ever. It could be considered an emphatic statement by Paul identifying with other people who may have felt that they were just sinful believers but Paul was this “Super Christian.”

    Not objecting to your main point that the word has been mistranslated and misinterpreted. Given your clear evidence, I’d have to agree with you on that.

    Just objecting to the silly argument that anyone ever has interpreted Paul as thinking he’s literally the biggest worm ever to live!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jimmy,
      While some hyperbole may be accommodated, the point being made by most translations is EXACTLY the argument that Paul’s statement indicated he thought he was the worst of sinners. You may think it’s a silly argument but it is what most argue!

  7. Marea Bowser says:

    Wow, I really appreciate this in-depth examination of the gospel. I did not even realize there were different gospels- that of Jesus and John and Peter, and the new gospel of Paul. This has helped me understand a lot of things and areas where the Bible formerly seemed to contradict itself.

    The one part I don’t understand is how you can say Jesus was sent only to minister to Jews. I mean, I see it plainly stated in the verses you referenced… But in the second reference, Matthew 15:22, Jesus still heals the woman. And what about the woman at the well, the Samaritan?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Marea,
      Even though Jesus came to minister the Jews He made exceptions. The Canaanite woman was so persistent that Jesus relented and healed her daughter. As for the woman at the well, though a Samaritan, Jesus also relented with her. John stated Jesus had to pass through Samaria on His way from Judea to Galilee. He stopped at Jacob’s well. Jacob was Israel, the source of all Jews. Notice the woman stated Jacob was her father. While a Samaritan (a half-breed Jew), she identified with the Jews. She also revealed she knew about the Messiah. After this, Jesus straightforwardly told her He was the Messiah and this resulted in the salvation of many of the Samaritans. Notice that again the focus of the gospel was upon the identity of the Messiah, not His work (as Paul’s gospel).

      • Barry Lackey says:

        I disagree that the Jews became a “race”, there’s only one race, the human race. Culturally the Jews came to be from many nations. I do thank you for opening my understanding somewhat about how the Apostles came about the gospel from different perspectives, but I also disagree that they are different gospels. There is only one gospel of Christ. The differing cultural views compliment one another in that gospel.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Barry,
          Paul divided the human race into three parts, Jew, Gentile, and Church (1 Corinthians 10.32). Those are God’s theological races. If you believe there is only one gospel, please provide and answer the these two questions: 1. What is the gospel? 2. What did Peter believe to be saved? Grace and peace.

        • Bobbi says:

          Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from they kindred, and from they father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.
          And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.
          And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

  8. Ross says:

    I don’t want to dispute you on the fact that the translation of “chief” may not be the best word choice. However, the meaning of that sentiment is absolutely Biblical. Any sinner, if they are truly examining themselves in the light of God’s law, will come to the conclusion that they are the greatest sinner there is. We commit so many secret sins in our hearts that coming to any other conclusion other than the fact that you are the greatest of sinners is nothing short of complacency.

    As for the meat of your article, I must say that asserting that Paul was the first Christian is nothing short of blasphemy. The Old Testament believers were saved in the exact same way that you or I are saved. Genesis 15:6 states: ” And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” This passage is quoted by both Paul and James as proof that faith in the Savior has always been the only way to be saved.
    God did make conditional promises to the Jews, but the promise of a Savior from sin was never a conditional promise. The first promise of the Savior includes no “if,” but simply God promising “I will.” All the nations of the world are blessed through Abraham’s line, because that was the bloodline through which Jesus was born a man to take the curse of the law upon Himself and die on the cross for our sins.

    I’m not commenting because I like arguing, but because your article is subverting the basic truths of the Bible. Your assertion is that God changes. But that cannot be true, because God has told us that He does not change as we fickle humans do (Numbers 23:19). Or if you say that God didn’t change, then God must be a liar, for He had promised damnation to all those that did not keep His law perfectly (Ezekiel 18:4). The necessity of the Jerusalem council was because there was misunderstanding among Christians about whether the old covenant still needed to be kept. Since Jesus had already kept the Law perfectly in our place, there are no longer a need for the ceremonial laws that God had given on Mt Sinai (nor was there a need for the civil laws established there, for God was no longer ruling Israel as a theocracy). The moral law, of course, continues to be in effect for all people of all times, showing our need for the Savior that took the punishment upon Himself and died on the cross.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ross,
      You state OT believers were saved the same as we are today but provide no Biblical support for this. How do you think one is saved today? What is your definition of a Christian? According to the Scriptures, no one was known as a Christian until after Paul was saved according to Acts 11.26. If you want to disagree, provide Scriptural support.

      • Ross says:

        You’re right. Christians were not known as Christians until Antioch and I should have defined what I meant by that. What I meant by Christians is people who are saved by faith in Christ through grace.
        I did provide the Scriptural proof that OT believers are saved in the same way we are today in my citation of Genesis 15:6. Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness, just as our faith is accounted to us for righteousness. Because of our faith, God doesn’t look at our sins, which are as filthy rags, but at the righteousness of Christ.

        I would also like to add that I didn’t mean to sound as if I think that you’re not a Christian. I hope that’s not how I came across. I rather meant that I believe that some of your teachings here disagree with the truth of Scripture. I did not mean that as a judgment of your faith.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Ross,
          What did Abraham believe for salvation? Can your provide Biblical evidence other than Abraham of salvation by faith alone? What did Peter tell the Jews at Pentecost about how to be saved? I would be careful about accusing one of blasphemy without Scriptural evidence.

          • Ross says:

            First of all, I have made it clear that I didn’t mean anything against you personally in my first message. That being said, your ad hominem argument against me is not warranted.

            Having read a bit more of your site, I now see that you recognize that salvation has always been through faith. We agree that far. You continue that the “content of faith has changed over time. . .” There I cannot agree with you as it implies a God that changes and as stated above, God does not change. In addition, God’s plan always included the death and resurrection of Christ, as evidenced by the prophecies in the Old Testament that referenced it (Ps. 22; Is. 53; Gen. 3:15; etc.).

            I stumbled upon this website while searching for history of the hymn “Chief of Sinners Though I Be.” After reading the article, I could not with good conscience ignore the fact that the truth of Scripture is not truly represented here. We could continue this back and forth, but I feel that we would simply continue to argue past one another. I appreciate your time and expediency in responding to my comments. If you’d like to know more about what I believe as a Christian that believes “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” and that Scripture interprets Scripture, I would direct you or any of your readers to the online resources found at http://clclutheran.org/online-library/

            Thanks again for your time.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Ross,
              I made no ad hominem argument against you. I cautioned you against accusations of blasphemy without Scripture to support them. You provided no Biblical evidence that the content of faith has not changed over time. It is a non sequitur that this means God has changed. God does not change. But the manward side of how He chooses to save men has changed. God’s salvific plan was always Christ’s death and resurrection. But no one knew this until God revealed it to Paul. The Jews knew nothing of it else they would not have offered animal sacrifices. The Twelve knew nothing of it. Read Luke 18.31-34, for example, and try to fit that into your theological viewpoint. It won’t fit. Read John 20.7. Read Acts 2.36-38. They won’t fit. Peter was not saved by believing Christ died for his sins and rose from the dead and he did not tell the Jews to believe this on the day of Pentecost. Salvation by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ was a Pauline revelation. No one knew it before Paul. Therefore, no one could have been saved by this knowledge before Paul. That is why Paul referred to his gospel as my gospel (Romans 2.15, 16.25). I challenge you to read the Scriptures for yourself. Churches and denominations are fraught with many theological errors.

  9. bobneto says:

    Sir! Your articles are fantastic,eye-opening, and biblical.This article has laid a very good foundation to my understanding of scriptures.
    There’s no way I can really show my appreciations.If God doesn’t blesses you,who will?.God bless you.
    Please there’s this verse of the bible that I’ll appreciate it if you give me your thoughts on; Matthew11:12.
    Thanks for your time.

  10. becky says:

    Thanks, Don, this is such a great study. I was reading the verse early this morning about Paul being chief of sinners and saw for myself (the Spirit opened my eyes) to the truth of it. I had read this study a month or so ago but just kind of skimmed it. But after what i studied this morning and then reading your study, it all opened up.
    I have a question about this verse: Rom 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:
    I get his point in context, but what I was most curious about was who he was talking about. Was he speaking of Jewish believers’ foundations that were laid without knowledge of the gospel of grace? Again, thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Paul’s main point was to reach areas which had not heard the gospel. Paul was a teacher, but preeminently an evangelist.

  11. walumbinga-samuel says:

    Yes, Sir, thank you for your enlightenment. Your articles help me to understand the bible and share it with others. For that people ask me question but I can not find the answer. Sir , the question is : Did apostle Paul meet Jesus in flesh and bones?

  12. Kim N. says:

    You wrote: “Paul was the “first of sinners” in the sense that God saved him to inaugurate a whole new program. ” I agree. Paul was the first one under “brand new management. ” I looked up and found some translations that say he’s the first of this new program of grace, to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God.

    1 Timothy 1:15
    Young’s Literal Translation
    15 stedfast [is] the word, and of all acceptation worthy, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners — first of whom I am;
    Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
    15 A true word and worthy all receiving, for Christ Jesus came into this world to make sinful men safe, of which I am the first [of whom I am the first].
    New English Bible (NEB)
    …and among them I stand first (NEB)

  13. Michael73501 says:

    It is such a shame that such great lengths are taken above to pervert the context of a plain text in the attempt to make a point in favor of a man-made theology.

    The CONEXT of 1 Timothy 1:16 is about the LONGSUFFERING of Jesus Christ. Paul says he was the “foremost” (protos) of sinners, and that he is the “pattern” of LONGSUFFERING shown by Jesus Christ to all sinners.

    Succinctly put, in this verse Paul says that if he can receive the mercy of Jesus after what he did – anyone can !

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Michael,
      The one interpretation that is impossible is the one you have given. The text, not what most have done with the text, states Paul was “first.” Paul always used πρῶτος in its primary sense which was “first in order of succession.” Through his salvation God brought into existence a whole new program of salvation and unrevealed doctrines. See my article, Paul’s “Mystery”.

  14. bob says:

    3 The doctrine of salvation by faith alone, sola fide, was unknown before Paul ? are you serious ?? A other left field statement by some théologist … Incredible !! Let go of Calvin.. he is a heretic .. Read your bible .. Rom 4; 13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
    Hebreus 11;20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
    23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bob,
      Men have always been saved by faith as revealed from Hebrews 11. But salvation by faith alone was unknown before Paul. The Scriptures do not reveal salvation by faith alone until Paul. Jesus did not teach it in His earthly ministry, Peter clearly didn’t (Acts 2.36-38), and the controversy of Acts 15 would never have occurred if the apostles understood salvation by faith alone (Acts 15.1, 5). Calvin is irrelevant on this matter.

      • M says:

        Actually “doctrine”, you are in error, as the gospels establish Faith in Christ as the foundation of salvation upon which the Church was built on. Have you never read the gospel of John, which is filled to the brim with such verses? Go back and read John 3:16 again and Luke 18:8. Also when you examine the greek words for “in” and “into”, you will see that Paul’s doctrine is actually misunderstood in contemporary Christianity as referring to simple “mental” belief in a set of ideas as qualifying one for salvation. In fact the greek has been mistranslated to “believe in” whereas it is closer to “believe into”, referring to faith as more than something mental yet actually a spiritual action of entering into God and having Him enter into you. Go back and see the difference between the greek word “en” and “eis” and see how “eis” is used in conjunction with belief. You will see the “belief” he referred to was a relationship with Christ, one that identified with the cross. This is why he spoke of baptism in the context of salvation from sin and a life with God in Romans 6, just as the apostles did. Paul emphasized heavily identification with Christ’s life in regard to all things, even Him being in Heaven we are to identify with. Christ Himself said to be yoked to him, to pick up our cross, to follow Him- but He had to first be crucified and the Holy Spirit given in order for Him to accomplish that yoking between God and man.

        In regard to the council at Jerusalem, you have to remember that very quickly the numbers in the church in the life of Peter and Paul became very large. In Acts it says that people were believing by the thousands. It was also not just the 12 apostles who preached. The issue of the council came to light once Gentiles came to believe, and thus that the topic of circumcision became an issue, as all Jews had already been circumcised at birth and so this issue had never come up. But they had been indoctrinated with customs of the Law from birth, not fully realizing that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law, which both the 12 apostles, the Gospels, and Paul teach. We even see resistance to Peter when he baptized Cornelius and they received the Holy Spirit. We thus see that the reach and scope of the Gospel came to full light as the Holy Spirit lead the Church in revealing the person of the Son of God to a lost and broken world. Jesus came to establish a new covenant with all nations based on the shedding of his blood and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not about a set of ideas, but a relationship with the person of God, which comes about through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who Himself is a Person, as the Son and the Father each are. Which is why at the end Christ will tell many to depart, for He did not “know” them.

        I urge you to ask yourself that question: “Do I actually know Jesus, or do I have a bunch of facts in my head and have thus thought myself qualified to teach others before I experience the love of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit over my life?”

        May God draw near those willing to learn at the feet of the Savior, where His Love will satisfy them forever.

        Blessings,
        M

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          M,
          Faith has always been required for salvation but you will read the Scriptures in vain to find faith alone taught before Paul. Jesus did not teach it (Matthew 19.16-17), nor did Peter (Acts 2.36-38 cf. Mark 1.4, 16.16). Peter and the rest had no concept that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law. That was a Pauline revelation (see my article, Paul and the Law). The believing Jews continued to keep the Law, even after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 21.17-25). I urge you to read the Scriptures and not put your faith in tradition. Only the Scriptures contain the truth of these things. My article, Faith vs. Works in James: Resolving the Problem, might be helpful to you. Until Paul, the Twelve had absolutely no concept that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification. If they had, don’t you think Peter would have proclaimed it at Pentecost?

  15. Cakes says:

    Doctrine, I noticed you said” when we sin” 1John 2:1 says “IF we sin… Not ” WHEN we sin. Be careful what you say!!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Cakes,
      1 John 2.1 is a 3rd class conditional sentence, i.e., “more probably future.” The Scriptures teach as long as we are in mortal bodies corrupted by Adam’s sin, we will sin: hence “when.” See 1 John 1.8 for John’s confirmation of this. Paul had much more to say on this subject.

  16. Jasper says:

    I commend your efforts into this topic but I must say it seems to be a ‘confusing way’ to say something simple. For instance, I look at the ground and see a rock – you look down and see a mineral with all the inner working elements and ratios. Paul even warned the Corinthians of stumbling over the “simplicity of Christ”. Salvation has been, is and will always be the same: “by grace, through faith” Each apostle and disciple knew this yet emphasized it differently.

    PAUL revealed Abrahams belief unto righteous in Romans 4 – GENUINE BELIEF = SALVATION

    JAMES exposed fake faith in James 2 – GENUINE BELIEF = SALVATION

    PETER explained that our faith is test to prove the genuineness of it 1 Peter 1 because – GENUINE BELIEF = SALVATION

    JESUS always pointed people to belief. Mark 9; John 20

    I think instead of saying Paul revealed something different it would be more appropriate to say that Paul helped us better understand something that was already there. Paul’s teachings on the Gospel aren’t new revelation rather elaboration or explanation. I think we have to be careful when we say he brought something new in. After all, it was Paul that warned if anyone brought a new or different gospel than what they were originally taught then they were cursed (anathema). Anyways, good discussions.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jasper,
      The problem with your view is that Paul explicitly stated he was revealing something new. See my article, Paul’s “Mystery”. Your view is what 99% of Christendom thinks. This is the view is that Paul was merely another apostle supplementing the Twelve. What the Scriptures reveal, however, is that he was an apostle of a wholly different order. My article, Why Paul?, addressed this. Why did Christ commission another apostle, one who wrote most of the NT, when he had 12 already? Why do the 12 essentially disappear?

      • Jasper says:

        I’d like to know your answers to the following questions:

        1. By what was everyone before Paul saved?

        2. Paul said in Romans 4 that Abraham was counted righteous through faith – explain why this doesn’t disprove your “new plan” interpretation. Or you could answer it this way. what was the plan before Paul?

        3. It sounds like you’re saying that God instituted a plan that failed so he brought a new one in? is this correct to say?

        Also, your article on “Paul’s mystery” you reference Romans 16. The mystery wasn’t something new revealed – it was something that was always there but made clear as time went on. Paul was commissioned as the Apostle to the Gentiles – the “mystery” for which Paul was in chains (col. 4) was the extension of salvation to both Jew and Gentile. see 1 peter 1:10-12 – this specifically shows the “revealing of the mystery” not “the revealing of something new”

        Do you get where I’m coming from? We are essentially coming to the same conclusion but we are defining it differently. I’m saying Paul’s ministry was clear revelation of truth – it sounds like you’re saying that Paul’s ministry was revelation of new truth. Also, know that my tone is one of interest and appreciation over these topics. I enjoy reading your studies. Thanks.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Jasper,
          1. Salvation has always been based upon what God has revealed. Abraham was saved by believing God would make the father of many people (Genesis 15). When Israel was under the Law they were saved by faith and by keeping the Law. Under the gospel of the kingdom, Peter, e.g., was saved by believing Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God and by baptism (Matthew 16, cf. John 11). According to Acts 15 one had to be circumcised and keep the Law for salvation. 2. Paul used Abraham to prove salvation was by faith alone according to his gospel. One will find no example of salvation by faith alone in the OT apart from Abraham. 3. It depends on what you mean by “fail.” God instituted a new plan with the call of Abraham. God instituted a new plan when He gave the Law. God instituted a new plan when He called Paul. The word μυστήριον means a “secret.” Something cannot be both known and not known. Almost everything we get from the pen of Paul God had kept secret before He revealed it to to him. It was a whole new ballgame–just as God began a whole new ballgame in His call of Abraham. Please see my article, Paul’s “Mystery”.

  17. Pete says:

    Can a dispensationalist (maybe the author of this piece?) answer 2 questions for me please?

    1. You talk about how “Israel rejected their Messiah”. What would acceptance have looked like? And what should Israel have done? And perhaps an unfair question – what would have been the definition of “Israel” as a nation accepting Him? 51%? All of the rulers?

    2. If Israel had done this accepting, what would have happened next in God’s plan? And what would it have looked like? And what of the Gentiles?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Pete,
      The message of acceptance was proclaimed by John and Jesus, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Every single Jew had to repent. That is what Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost. Had they repented the next thing on the agenda was the Day of the Lord. Peter expected this to come shortly. Read Acts 2. Then the kingdom would have been established (Matthew 6.10). Jesus told the Jews, He would not return until they said, “Blessed… (Matthew 23.37-39). Paul stated all Israel will repent for ALL Israel will be saved (Romans 11.26). When they do, Christ will return, true to His promise.

      • Pete says:

        First of all, “all” Israel cannot be saved, we have had 1900 years of (so-called) Israelites dying in their sins. And even you don’t believe ALL Israel will be saved, because you believe 2/3 of them will be killed by the Antichrist before they even see Jesus. The verse in Romans 11 means “and in this manner shall all Israel be saved.” In other words, faith in Jesus Christ is the only way all people will be saved.

        // Had they repented the next thing on the agenda was the Day of the Lord…Then the kingdom would have been established //

        I don’t see anything in this supposed agenda about the death of the Testator and the redemption of Israel. So you think God would have just wiped out that promise? What about the promised atonement for sin? What about their salvation? What about the prophecies concerning the death of Jesus, His burial and His resurrection that both Jesus (Luke 24:26) and Paul (1 Cor 15:3-4) confirmed were all over the Old Testament? Are you insinuating that Jesus would not have died then for their sins? And what about the Gentiles and their promises, what would happen to them?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Pete,
          All Israel in context is all Jews who are alive before Christ returns (Roman 11.26; Isaiah 66.8). Peter made it clear on the day of Pentecost that every Jew had to repent. They will! When they do Christ will return as He promised (Matthew 23.37-39). Jesus had to die. The question really was on whom would fall the burden of blame. The Jews instigated His crucifixion. Had the Jews accepted Him the Gentiles (Romans) would have done it, presumably because He was a threat to Rome. Had that occurred the Tribulation would have occurred, which is what Peter expected (Acts 2.19-21).

          • Pete says:

            //Jesus had to die. The question really was on whom would fall the burden of blame.//

            Wow, you just totally changed the entire point. You are very subtle. NO, this is not what the question is. The question is, what is the nature of the kingdom promised to Israel? Did Jesus come and successfully set up His kingdom yet? Dispies say no. Others say yes, absolutely.
            You are now saying, I think, that had all of the Jews repented and bowed down before Jesus, He would have then set up that golden throne of David (literal actual throne) in Jerusalem and sat upon it. Except the Romans would have been upset, so they would have come and dragged Jesus off the throne and crucified Him? (Doesn’t sound like a millennial kingdom to me, no Gentiles being ruled with any rod of iron here!)

            And then He would have been buried, then raised again the third day…and then….what???

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Pete,
              Read Romans 15.8. Christ came to offer himself to the Jews. Read Luke 1-2, which is a wonderful explanation of Jewish theology and what the Jews expected. Read Acts 2 in which Peter quoted Joel. According to Joel God would pour out His Spirit and then initiate the Day of the Lord. This would occur before God set up His kingdom. My articles, The Great Gap and Theology of the Old Testament, might be helpful.

              • Pete says:

                You are doing what every other dispie does. Can’t answer direct questions so you tell me to go study up. Why can’t you just answer the questions, Mr. Doctrine? Are you stuck? I will try one more time: where does the death of Jesus Christ fit into the kingdom promised to Israel, when even you admit that if Israel had repented and bowed down to Him, Jesus STILL would have had to die. HOW does this kingdom and promise fit, “Doctrine”?
                Peter did NOT SAY that he “expected” the day of the Lord to start, and then it did not happen. Peter explicitly stated “THIS IS THAT which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” THIS IS means just what it says, sir. I suggest YOU just believe Peter knew what he was talking about. Just because you have a western-influenced, 21st century mindset about what Joel’s prophecy meant, you are going to deny Peter’s clear explicit words???
                I would argue you really don’t read the Bible “literally.” Funny because it’s pre-tribbers and dispies who pride themselves on that. You guys are the worst offenders.

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Pete,
                  Apparently, you’re too busy wanting to argue, than to read my response. I already answered your question. The kingdom will come when Israel repents. I have little use for someone too lazy to look up the Scriptures. Stop writing me if you don’t want answers or to learn. Your comments indicate you love your theology more than the Scriptures and that you just want to argue, not learn anything. On the matter of Peter and Joel, do you think the sun turned to darkness and the moon turned to blood? Do you think the Day of the Lord has occurred? If you do, you’re beyond my help.

              • Pete says:

                Did I say I was here to sit at your feet and learn from you? I asked questions because I expected a BIBLICAL answer, instead I get the same arrogant crap: “go study yourself you lazy unbeliever!” Then this in a mocking tone:

                //On the matter of Peter and Joel, do you think the sun turned to darkness and the moon turned to blood? Do you think the Day of the Lord has occurred?//

                Yes, I do, because Peter said so. Obviously these things are METAPHORS, sir. Do you realize that the Bible is full of them? Do you realize the Old TEstament used metaphors all the time to describe God’s judgment and power? Indeed the Bible also uses non-metaphors too. But there is no difference in truth.

                See….YOU want to ignore Peter’s plain use of “THIS IS THAT” because you stumble over what the moon turning to blood (not blood red, by the way…BLOOD) means. Since you figure it has to be an actual, physical thing, then Peter really didn’t mean what he said.

                And I need help?

                //I already answered your question. The kingdom will come when Israel repents.//

                No you didn’t. I asked what would have happened after the Romans crucified Jesus. See, you tried to change the subject and confuse me. And now you are angry because I don’t take the bait. I actually know what I am talking about.

                Answer the question. What would have happened after the Romans crucified the Lord? Would He have risen again? Gone back to heaven? Stayed on earth?

                Bottom line, why would it have been any different if Israel had “accepted Jesus as Messiah” and repented?

                (if you don’t know, that’s ok, you can say so.)

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Pete,
                  The gospels and Act 2-3 are all about fulfilling God’s promise to establish His kingdom on earth. Had the Jews accepted Christ, the Romans would have crucified Him. He would have risen from the dead just as prophesied. The Day of the Lord would have occurred as Peter proclaimed. At the end of 7 years the Lord would have returned to set up His kingdom and fulfill Matthew 6.10. That was God’s prophetic program. From the prophetic point of view it didn’t matter if the Jews or Gentiles instigated Chist’s death. God’s plan had flexibly to accommodate it (He knew, of course, what would happen) but the Jews didn’t. Read Psalm 2 (hopefully, you’re not too lazy). Since you wrote the Day of the Lord has occurred, do you believe the 2nd advent has occurred? I ask this because His return is part of the Day of the Lord.

                  • Pete says:

                    >>>can you delete the above comment? I posted it in the wrong place and i have no way to edit. sorry>>>>

                    Don, I have not been sneaky about my agenda, my agenda is to challenge the dispensational status quo. I don’t hope to convince you, I hope to show people who may be reading this exchange that there are alternatives to what you are saying and that what you say is not scriptural but rather a man-made doctrine.

                    I am sorry if you think I am answering with “silence”. My issue with you is that you keep saying things are true just “because.” For example:

                    //The Day of the Lord is the Tribulation. This is the meaning throughout the OT. It is God’s judgment of the world. At the end of it, Christ will return//

                    Where’s your scripture? There is not a single verse in the Old Testament that says Messiah would rise from the dead, go to heaven, and then return. Even you would admit that this was all a mystery until revealed later. So it’s impossible to state that “the day of the Lord” only means this coming “Tribulation”.

                    Why do you get to just state things as if they are true, without proof? And I am some kind of bad guy because I don’t just accept it? This is the main issue I have with you people. You guys think you have a lock on all truth and everybody should just shut up, sit down, don’t ask questions, don’t challenge.

                    Psalm 2 doesn’t say anything about a Great Tribulation or about a return of Jesus bodily to earth, so you are foisting your preconceptions onto it. Based on Ephesians 1, Philippians 2, and Matthew 28, Jesus has already fulfilled this through His death.

                    Israel’s kingdom and prophetic plan was the death of Jesus, which DID happen, and then God as promised sent His spirit. This happened in Acts 2, it is over. My proof? Peter’s words: “THIS IS THAT which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” You then make the bizarre and illogical statement that Peter only “thought” this was all coming to pass, Peter was wrong. OK sir. You can think the Holy Spirit tricked Peter if you like. I will accept just as it is written.

                    // you do not understand the word “near.”//

                    I understand it perfectly. When God uses time-texts, they mean exactly what they say. You are claiming that God speaks things that have no meaning at all.

                    • doctrine doctrine says:

                      Pete,
                      The problem with such a reply is it is unhelpful. You seeming unwilling to accept that the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are the same because no Scripture says, “The Day of the Lord and The Tribulation are the same.” When one compares Scripture with Scripture it is easy enough to see they are the same: they have the same components and characteristics. The book of Revelation describes the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation. It is that event Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. The Day of the Lord and the Kingdom of God on earth are the two great doctrines of Jewish theology. If you read the OT, these two subjects come up time and again. Psalm 2 gives the entire prophetic outline of Jewish theology. It describes Christ’s rejection surrounding his 1st and 2nd advent, God’s judgment (Day of the Lord), and Christ’s return to rule and reign (see Theology of the Old Testament). This was the prophetic plan Peter understood. He knew nothing of the Church, the body of Christ, which is clear from many Scriptures (which I have noted). He only knew God’s plan for Israel. He knew the Holy Spirit would be poured out and he knew the Day of the Lord. Part of Joel 2, (the Holy Spirit) was fulfilled. But judgment was not. I really do not know how anyone can think the “sun was turned to darkness” and the “moon to blood” at Pentecost. “This is that” referred to the prophecies beginning to be fulfilled, not that they all happened at Pentecost! I find it astonishing you wrote I do not provide proof. Such a statement reveals you have not read my articles for they are replete with Scriptural support. Your last sentence indicates you did not read, How “Near” is the Day of the Lord. It does no good to provide Biblical proofs if one won’t read them!

              • Grace Receiver says:

                Pete, why are you so upset with dispensationalists?
                This, to me, is interesting because it reminds me of atheists that get so emotional/angry about us who believe in God. Why, I wonder?

              • Pete says:

                Grace Receiver, I don’t see a reply option to your comment, but I am angry about the lies of modern dispensationalism. Proponents of the system need to be held accountable to scripture, unfortunately they are too often allowed to just make claims without biblical support, and we are all just supposed to accept them. If we do not accept them, we are called misfits, unbelievers….or they tell us to go study more, stop being lazy etc.

                //Since you wrote the Day of the Lord has occurred, do you believe the 2nd advent has occurred? I ask this because His return is part of the Day of the Lord.//

                No, the second advent did not occur, and you have no biblical basis for claiming that there is a coming time period called “the day of the Lord” as part of any second coming.

                This is another thing dispensationalism has done: hijacked the phrase “day of the Lord” to mean only, and ever, the last remaining days of planet earth before eternity. This is nonsense. There isn’t a single verse in scripture to back that up. There have been many Days of the Lord. It’s a phrase the Bible uses when talking about God’s direct intervention, usually judgment, in the world.

                It’s why Zephaniah 1:14 is litearlly true, where he says “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly”. Because that day of the Lord was God’s judgment upon Judah of Zephaniah’s day, the Assyrian captivity. Zeph 1:4 says “I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests”. That describes people of Zephaniah’s day, not our day.

                The Day of the Lord in Acts 2 happened just as Peter said it did. Not partially. Fully. You claim “But signs in the heavens and earth of blood, fire, vapor, smoke–the sun being darkened and the moon looking like blood–did not occur.” Why do you say this when Peter did not say it?

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Pete,
                  The Day of the Lord is the Tribulation. This is the meaning throughout the OT. It is God’s judgment of the world. At the end of it, Christ will return. It seems from your response you did not read Psalm 2 for all this in it it. Dispensationalism has not “hijacked” the Day of the Lord. God judged Israel for unbelief, but the Day of the Lord has not occurred. It is described in Zephaniah 1.14; Malachi 4.5; Joel 2.11, 31; Acts 2.20. In the Day of the Lord almost the entire human race will perish (Matthew 24.21-22). That has not happened; the Day of the Lord has not occurred. Peter quoted Joel for he expected what the Lord had told him on the mount of Olives to come to pass soon because the prophecy was all tied up with Israel’s kingdom and prophetic plan. I answered your questions since you complained I had not (though I had). Your response is silence. Your quarrel is not with me but with the Bible. It appears you hold preterist views since you do not understand the word “near.” I explain this in my article, How “Near” is the Day of the Lord? I am happy to answer questions of those interested in the things of God but you seem to have a different agenda. Grace and peace.

    • Becky says:

      Don,

      As always you respond with grace and love. It is unfortunate that Pete has been so offended by, what one can only guess, was a flawed doctrine about dispensations. May the Holy Spirit lead and guide him on his journey . . .

      Blessings

    • Becky says:

      Pete – question#1, you seek answers to anti-prophetic questions . . . if the Lord tells us in His word that Jerusalem (city of Israel) was not willing . . . it is futile to speculate as to the alternative outcome. Who are we to question God? The bible tells us they were ‘not willing’.

      Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

      Luk 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

      . . . and what more can one reply as to “. . . Israel . . . accepting . . .?” other than Rom 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;? The bible says “all.” What do you think “all” means; does it mean 51% or 100%? Perhaps you can enlighten ‘us’.

      As for question#2. If Israel had done this accepting, what would have happened next in God’s plan? And what would it have looked like? And what of the Gentiles? Again, you are seeking answers to anti-prophetic questions.

      Act 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7) And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8) “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

      Rom 11:11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their (Israel’s) fall, to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.

      Our Holy Father has a PLAN, who are we to question it?

      Isa 29:16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,“He has no understanding”?

      Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

      Jer 18:6
      “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!

      Rom 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

      Pete, put your faith in God, not in man.

      • Pete says:

        You asked:

        // And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;? The bible says “all.” What do you think “all” means; does it mean 51% or 100%? Perhaps you can enlighten ‘us’.//

        I disagree that “so” in this verse means “therefore.” It is the Greek word “houtō(s)” which means “in this manner”. Paul is saying in this manner, that is, via the Deliverer from Zion, Jesus, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, all Israel shall be saved. Meaning, there is no other way for Israel to be saved. They ALL have to be saved IN THIS MANNER. It’s like saying “all people who wish to come to the game, have to buy a ticket.” It doesn’t mean “all people will come to the game.” Hope this is clear.

        Paul goes on to say “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Jesus did that on the cross. That is not a future event, it happened when He died. Dispensationalism tends to detract from the work of Christ on the cross. Especially as that work relates to Israel. For some reason, dispies have the idea that God did not really do what He intended to do for Israel. He left unfinished business. The REAL act of saving Israel comes later, when they see with their eyes rather than with faith. Huh?? Totally backwards. Meanwhile you still say Jews have to be saved the same way we do. It’s terribly confusing. Do you see how that makes no sense?

        How do Jews get saved?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Pete,
          It doesn’t matter if οὕτως is translated, so, in this manner, or thus. The point is ALL Israel will be saved. In context, and comparing Scripture with Scripture, it means that Jews alive in during the Tribulation who utter the words of Matthew 23.37-39 will be saved. This was exactly what Peter demanded at Pentecost (Acts 2.36) “all the house of Israel” “every one of you.” Paul wrote partial blindness afflicts national Israel and this will continue until God completes the Church (v.25). Paul wrote that this was a secret. God had not revealed this blindness, this setting apart Israel for a time and the creation of the Church. After God completes the body of Christ, He will remove it (Rapture), reengage with national Israel, and complete the 7 years of Daniel. During that time the gospel of the kingdom will be preached (Matthew 24.14). The nation will repent and be born in a day (Isaiah 66.8). Christ’s work on the cross paid for all sins. But the Jewish nation has not experienced this. Paul is talking about nations and programs in Romans 9-11, not individuals. Jews today are saved in the same way as Gentiles: believing Paul’s gospel. In the gospels, Jews were saved by believing the gospel of the kingdom, believing Jesus was the Christ. In the Tribulation, they will be saved in the same way. This is quite clearly revealed in the book of Revelation (see my study, Understanding the Book of Revelation).

          • Pete says:

            //It doesn’t matter if οὕτως is translated, so, in this manner, or thus. //

            Of course it matters! It completely changes the meaning. If the word “so” is translated “therefore, or thus” it means that the entire nation of Israel will be saved. If it is translated “in this manner”, it means that Israel can only be saved one way. That’s what I think it is saying, because obviously “ALL ISRAEL” is not going to be saved. Even you admit that.

            Then you claim the 1/3 remaining alive at the end of the Tribulation are saved just by saying “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. Really? That’s how you think future Jews will be saved from their sins? Matthew 23 doesn’t even say a thing about salvation. It says they would not SEE Him (with their eyes) until that time. You really are stretching this, Ron.

            //Paul wrote partial blindness afflicts national Israel//

            Please describe what this partial blindness is. It sounds like you think ALL of Israel was partially blinded at the time Paul wrote this. I take it to mean part of Israel was blinded when he wrote it. And part was not blinded – those who accepted Jesus. Which is it and how do we know?

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Pete,
              I have explained and answered these questions many times already. Furthermore, answers to all the questions you have asked are also in my articles. Read them if you want to know the answers. I will provide no more responses since you 1) keep asking the same questions which I have answered or are in my articles, and 2) you will not answer questions I ask such as Zechariah 14.9; Jeremiah 23.5-6. If the kingdom came, which you maintain, why is Christ not ruling in Jerusalem? Why are wolves not relaxing with lambs? Why is there still war? Why is Israel not the preeminent nation on the earth? Answer these questions. You have berated dispensationalism so you must have an alternate theology which can easily answer these questions. In other words, put up or shut up.

        • Becky says:

          Hi Pete,

          I’m no “despie” so I’m not sure if what “they” teach is biblical or not. However, I do understand that man is fallible and that translations can be misinterpreted so we must heavily rely on the Holy Spirit to sort things out for us.

          The way I reconcile the issue, is that Israel as a “nation,” rather than Jewish ” individuals,” must recognize (see) Jesus as the prophesied messiah. If this is the case, some individual Jews recognize/see Jesus as the prophesied messiah, so it stands to reason that their acceptance of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven message unto salvation is a given (whether the gospel of grace message saved them – I don’t know). On the other hand, Israel as a whole, the nation/Jerusalem, has not recognized/seen Jesus as the prophesied messiah (or seen him), see Luke 13:35 (Jesus says to Jerusalem), “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.), therefore the nation of Israel (Jerusalem) has not accepted the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, that Jesus is the prophesied messiah and therefore, as a nation, can’t hope to have salvation until they do.

          What did Jesus say to the rich young man (about being saved) in Mar 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”? Why is ‘the cross’ mentioned here? Christ hadn’t died yet; is it possible that His sacrifice on the cross for the remission of sin was implied or somehow (mysteriously/secretly) incorporated into the kingdom of heaven message? I don’t know, but it makes one curious to dig deeper into it to find out.

          Love and blessings Pete. I hope and pray you find what you are searching for.

          • Pete says:

            Thank you Becky, you too. Good thoughts on the cross being part of the kingdom of heaven. I totally agree. I believe the kingdom promised to Israel came, through the cross of Christ. The cross did not delay the kingdom. The cross WAS the bringing of the kingdom. God doesn’t get stopped or delayed by man. Jesus’ entire purpose was His death. For Israel first! Then the Gentiles.

            Blessings.

            • Becky says:

              Thanks Pete,

              Just for clarification on my part, may I ask you what that, kingdom of heaven coming, entailed? What did/does that look like in our day and age? Also, what now as far as the Church is concerned? If you can provide some bible verses, I can study, that would be helpful too.

              Thanks Pete,

              • Pete says:

                Sorry for not responding quicker, I was not sure if I had been blocked from this site. I had posted a few times and those posts never showed up. Are you willing to continue this conversation by email? That might be better. pbksocial@gmail.com

  18. courtney says:

    Don, well put forth and explained. We all have been taught so much denomonational error and there are some various 400 different denominations all claiming to be “christian” yet with much doctrinal error. All denominations teach a mixture of Law and Grace. To those that read this web site read EVERY article thats hear and LEARN brother LEARN!! Don thank you, again

  19. Reinhold Sommerstedt says:

    The term “Jew” and “Jewish” and all variations thereof have no rightful place in the translations. The terms “Jew” did not exists until coined by the Talmudist circa 1550 AD. You err because you have been deceived yet again by the Pharisees (Those that are the Talmudist Founders of Judaism of whom our Savior King Yeshua giving us warning (“Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees”) declared, “You are of your father, the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies”

    “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are (Jews) [“Israelite-Judeans”] , and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. “

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Reinhold,
      The word for Jew is יְהוּדִי. Originally, it referred only to the tribe of Judah. But later it referred to any member of the 12 tribes. Before the Assyrian captivity representatives from the 10 tribes had returned to Judah. Jesus was called “the King of the Jews,” all twelve tribes, not just the tribe of Judah. This is what Pilate had written above the cross. So the term “Jew” refers to any of the tribes of Jacob. All 12 tribes are Jews. James addressed them in James 1.1. Peter wrote them in 1 Peter 1.1. And John wrote them in Revelation 7. I do not know where the teaching you wrote comes from but it is erroneous. I have answered such comments several times which indicates a large source of false information.

  20. K says:

    I’m not sure if anyone in the replies has already mentioned this, but what about Romans 16:7 where Paul says ‘Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.’?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      K,
      While the phrase “in Christ” is almost exclusively used by Paul, it is used 2x by Peter: 1 Peter 3.16 and 1 Peter 5.14. Thus, being a member of the Church, the body of Christ is not absolutely congruent with being “in Christ.” Paul used the phrase to refer to believers before him and before the creation of the body of Christ. Paul wanted to recognize Andronicus and Junia as two who had become believers outside his ministry and before him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *