The Great Hinge

“But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they” (Acts 15.11).

Introduction

The Bible is clear that faith has always been required for salvation. The Bible is equally clear that faith alone has not always been required for salvation. The doctrine of salvation by faith alone began with the glorified Lord’s revelation to the Apostle Paul. The goal of this study is to elucidate this truth.

The Council of Jerusalem

Acts 15 is Luke’s record of the Council of Jerusalem in 51 A.D. This council took place because of the conflict between Paul and the Jews in Jerusalem over Paul’s gospel of grace (Acts 20.24). We discover this fact in the first verse of Acts 15:

Some men came down from Judea and kept teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15.1).

The teaching of these Jews from Judea was contrary to what Paul taught. These Jews from Jerusalem were going to Paul’s converts and telling them that they were not really saved. They taught that Paul’s gospel was fine so far as it went but that it was not enough. They taught one could not be saved by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) alone. To be saved, one must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law. Luke recorded the discord this caused:

And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue (Acts 15.2).

The leaders from Jerusalem were creating a tremendous problem for those who were being saved through Paul’s ministry. Imagine the confusion! As a result, Paul, with others (cf. Galatians 2.1), agreed to go to Jerusalem to address this matter. While the church desired Paul to go to Jerusalem, Paul declared that the Lord Himself revealed to him that he should go (Galatians 2.2). After Paul and his companions arrived, the Jews put forward their position succinctly:

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15.5).

Verses 1 and 5 of Acts 15 reveal the issue at stake. Those who opposed Paul were believers. They were saved. They were Jews who had believed the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16.13-16; John 11.25-27; Acts 8.35-38). Their position was that Paul’s Gentile converts were not saved by believing Paul’s gospel alone. Salvation also required circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law.

Paul’s Gospel

Paul declared or set forth (ἀνατίθημι) his gospel to the counsel (Galatians 2.2).1 One question that naturally arises is why did Paul need to communicate his gospel? Did they not know it? The answer is while they knew what Paul was teaching–hence the conflict–they did not understand his gospel nor why Paul taught what he did. Unlike the Twelve who received their gospel from John the Baptist and Jesus in His earthly ministry, Paul received his gospel directly from the risen, glorified Lord. Paul wrote the Galatians:

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1.11-12).

Paul had little contact with the Twelve (cf. Galatians 1.15-23, 2.1). Instead of going back to Jerusalem after his salvation he went to Arabia and then returned to Damascus. After three years had passed, most of which Paul probably spent in Arabia, Paul visited Jerusalem. While there, he stayed with Peter for fifteen days. But he saw no one else of the Twelve. The only other person he saw was James, the Lord’s half-brother (Galatians 1.15-19). Paul explicitly declared that those in Judea did not know him (Galatians 1.22). The gospel those in Judea preached was the gospel of the kingdom, not the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24) which Paul preached. The gospel of the kingdom was the gospel they had proclaimed during Jesus’ earthly ministry. It had begun with John the Baptist (Matthew 3.1-2; Mark 1.4) and Jesus continued it in His earthly ministry (Matthew 4.17; Mark 1.15). The gospel of the kingdom focused upon the identity of Christ, that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Peter preached it following the Lord’s resurrection (cf. Acts 2.29-39; 3.12-26). The gospel of the kingdom included repentance, believing Jesus was the Messiah, baptism, and keeping the Mosaic Law. Through this gospel Peter (Matthew 16.15-20) and Martha (John 11.23-27) were saved. Paul too was saved under this gospel. This is clear because it is the gospel Paul preached initially in the synagogues (Acts 9.20). Later, most likely when he was in Arabia, the ascended Christ revealed to Paul the glorious gospel and committed it to him (1 Timothy 1.11). This gospel was that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). It was this gospel that Paul defended before the Jews at the Council in Jerusalem.

Paul emphasized his gospel was a gospel to Gentiles (Galatians 2.2) because the risen Christ had appointed him as the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9.15; Romans 11.13; Ephesians 3.1, 4.1). The risen Lord commissioned Paul directly to be the minister of the gospel of grace (Galatians 1.15-17). Paul’s ministry was in stark contrast to the ministry of the Twelve. The Twelve were apostles to Israel, not to Gentiles. This explains Peter’s great reluctance to go to the house of Cornelius even under the direct command of the Lord (Acts 10, especially Acts 10.28 and 11.1-17).2 As a result of Paul’s testimony before the Council, the Twelve came to understand Paul’s gospel was different from the gospel they preached and agreed formally that he would go to Gentiles and they would go to Jews (Galatians 2.7-9).

The doctrine Paul had received from the risen Christ was that believers in his gospel were not under the Mosaic Law (Romans 6.14). This was Paul’s central thesis of his letter to the Galatians. With regard to circumcision, Paul’s test case was Abraham. Abraham was justified by God apart from circumcision (Romans 4.10 cf. Galatians 5.2-3). Paul’s experience with the Jews at the Jerusalem Council provides particular insight into why he wrote what he did in Romans and Galatians.

Peter at the Council

One of the interesting facts to note at the Council of Jerusalem is that Peter was not in charge. Peter had been relegated to the status of a glorified bystander. James, the half-brother of Jesus, (not James the brother of John) was running things. James was not one of the Twelve. He had come to believe after Jesus arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.7). From this alone we see how God’s kingdom program had fallen away. Paul must have certainly taken note of this fact in addition to understanding that God’s program with Israel had changed due to Jewish unbelief. Because of this, he was not impressed with the reputation of the Jews in Jerusalem which included the Twelve. He noted that they could add nothing to what God had given him. Thus, Paul wrote in Galatians 2.5-6, 9:

But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.

9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

After having listened to the disputation a good while, Peter finally weighed in. He remembered his visit to the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, many years before (Acts 10). In his encounter, Cornelius and his house were all saved. Luke recorded,

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

Peter knew of Paul’s testimony from his visit to Jerusalem 14 years ago. But clearly, Peter did not understand the implications. Now, 14 years had passed. During that time the Jews had continued to reject the King and the kingdom. But Gentiles had been responding to Paul’s gospel. Paul’s defense and argument that Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law resonated with Peter’s own Gentile experience. Thus he declared in Acts 15.10,

Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

Peter understood Israel had failed to keep the Law. The Law was a heavy yoke. He declared to put Paul’s converts under such a demand was to “put God to the test,” to tempt God. Peter’s statement was forceful. It went against all that had been argued by the Jews in Jerusalem. But Peter did not stop. His most radical statement followed in the next verse, Acts 15.11:

But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.

The Great Hinge

Just how revolutionary Peter’s statement was to his audience is difficult to appreciate. God had dealt with Israel for 2,000 years.3 He began the plan to create the nation with his call of Abraham. After 500 years God gave the Law to Moses. The Law governed Jewish life for 1,500 years. Fifteen hundred years is a long time. The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock 400 years ago. That seems a long time ago. But it is nothing compared to how long the Jews had operated under the Mosaic Law.

Two salient points comprised Peter’s statement at the Council:

1. Paul was right and the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were wrong.

Peter recognized God was using Paul in a new and different way. He had his own experience to guide him. Peter had resisted going to see Cornelius but the result of his visit was that Cornelius and his house had been saved. They had received the Holy Spirit just as the Jews had at Pentecost. But they were never circumcised or brought under the Mosaic Law. God in his foreknowledge had foreseen Paul’s future difficulty and had provided Peter with an experience years before that would serve to rally him to Paul’s defense.

2. Jews would now be saved as Gentiles.

For 2,000 years, Gentiles had been saved as Jews. God separated Israel from among the nations and declared they were special (Exodus 19.5-6; Deuteronomy 32.8). If Gentiles wished to be blessed, they had to be blessed through Israel. No other way existed. God had established this arrangement with the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12.1-3). Peter’s declaration formally ended this requirement. From now on, Jews had to be saved as Gentiles. That is to say, Jews from now on would have to be saved through Paul’s gospel. The significance of this was staggering. But it explains Paul’s strong words to the Galatians (Galatians 1.6-9)–which he could not have written prior to the Council of Jerusalem:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

From this time forward only Paul’s gospel was valid. The gospel of the kingdom which had begun under John the Baptist, which Jesus preached, which Peter preached at Pentecost, and which the Jews of Jerusalem continued to preach ceased. Now, only Paul’s gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4), was valid–for both Jews and Gentiles. Any other gospel than the one Paul preached was under God’s curse. Thus, salvation by faith alone, faith + 0, that gospel that Paul had preached throughout his ministry, became formally established for Jew and Gentile at the Council of Jerusalem.

3. It is striking the Twelve, James, and the rest of the believers at Jerusalem, made no mention of repentance and baptism. That was the essence of the gospel of the kingdom that began with John the Baptist. Jews were told to repent, believe the gospel, and be baptized–because the kingdom was near in the person of the King. That was the gospel Peter proclaimed at Pentecost (Acts 2.36-38). At the Council, only circumcision and keeping the Law was mentioned.4

4. The last point I would make with regard to the decision at the Council is that all of Paul’s letters date from after the Council. Paul wrote no letters before that time. Once Paul’s gospel was established as the only way of salvation, Paul could disclose all the other teachings the Lord had revealed to him. In other words, ALL Christian doctrine comes from Paul’s letters and they date from after the decision at the Council of Jerusalem.

Conclusion

Acts is a transitional book and should be viewed more in terms of explanation rather than doctrine. Luke wrote Acts to explain to Jews why the kingdom of God did not come upon earth. What Luke recorded in Acts 15 fits with his primary purpose of the book: to provide a record of the fall of Israel.5 Paul wrote the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1.16). Luke revealed this truth three times in Acts. Paul went to the Jews who rejected his message. After each rejection, he turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13.46, 18.5-6, 28.28-29).

The gospel is at the heart of our all dealings with God. From the time God saved Paul and revealed to him the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24) until the Jerusalem Council men and women could be saved by believing the gospel of the kingdom (for Jews) or the gospel of the grace of God (for Gentiles). In other words, for a period of time there were two valid gospels. One had been revealed and proclaimed by Christ in His earthly ministry and the other had been revealed to Paul through Christ’s heavenly ministry. But after the Council, men and women could be saved only by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Believe it!

The NASB translation of ἀνατίθημι in Galatians 2.2 as “submitted” is unfortunate. The KJV translation, “communicated” or NIV’s “set before” is superior. No hint or connotation must be conveyed that Paul “submitted” his gospel for approval. The text is explicit about this (cf. Galatians 2.5-6, 9). This word is only used one other time, by Luke in his record of Festus’ relating Paul’s case to King Agrippa.
2 Jewish outreach to Gentiles had not occurred even as late as Acts 11 (cf. Acts 11.19), which was at least 5-7 years after Pentecost. It is only in Acts 11.20 (except for Peter’s experience with Cornelius), that we get a glimpse of the beginning of any Jewish witness to Gentiles. Notice this occurred outside of Israel, in Antioch. Notice too, when Barnabas came from Jerusalem to investigate this Gentile salvation, he did not return to Jerusalem to the Twelve. He departed Antioch to find Paul (Acts 11.25-26). This alone should reveal to the diligent student that something different was occurring with regard to Gentile evangelism and that this was occurring outside of ministry of the Twelve. Notice lastly, that it was at Antioch that believers were first called Christians. Thus, Christianity did not begin with the Twelve, in Israel. It began with Paul, outside Israel  (Acts 11.26).
After God divided the human race into Jew and Gentile with the call of Abraham, He began a new plan in which He dealt with Gentiles through the nation of Israel. Israel became the instrument and mediator of God’s blessings and Israel became God’s favored nation. Apart from Israel, Gentiles had no hope of being blessed by God. Peter and the Twelve understood God’s revelation for Israel and this explains why they preached only to Jews and refused to leave Jerusalem–even under immense pressure (Acts 8.1). God’s blessings to Israel could come only through the Messiah. And God’s blessings to Gentiles had to come through Israel. The Great Commission could not be fulfilled apart from national Israel accepting the Messiah. For this reason, the often recited assertion that the Church’s mission is to fulfill the Great Commission has no Scriptural basis. One only need read Peter’s sermons in Acts 2 and 3 to understand this. When it became clear Jews would not repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah (Acts 7), God revealed a new plan He had kept hidden whereby He could bless Gentiles apart from Israel. He commissioned Paul (Acts 9) to be the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13) and communicated to Him this plan. It is through Paul that we learn about God’s plan of blessing for Gentiles apart from Israel, of salvation by faith alone, and other secrets. To learn more of the things God had kept secret, see the author’s article, Paul’s “Mystery”.
4 I have heard or read of no one who has observed or commented on this fact.
5 See the author’s study, The Purpose of the Book of Acts.

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

Updated, July 18, 2015


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88 Responses to The Great Hinge

  1. linda says:

    Hi Don,
    Pardon my lack of knowledge but was hoping you could help me understand something. If there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles now, who are the ones that God blinded until the end? How is it possible that some Jews are able to get away from that blindness and see the truth of grace and call themselves Messianic Jews? That is so confusing to me. Also, during the messianic age is everyone(Jews and Gentiles) going to be split into the 12 tribes? do gentiles belong to a tribe now or then? Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Linda,
      Israel is nationally blinded, not individually. For Christ to return, the whole nation must repent (Acts 2.36, 38; Matthew 23.37-39). In this age, a Jew who believes Paul’s gospel becomes part of the body of Christ. Only Jews are the 12 tribes. Gentiles will remain who they are in their respective nations in the millennial kingdom.

      • linda says:

        So would you say that perhaps the 144000 are the ones who are considered the bride? I thought that may be the case since they are all from the 12 tribes, are considered virgins, sing a new song and are the only ones with the father’s name. What do you think? or is it only the city itself the new Jerusalem that is the bride, kind of confusing. Thanks

      • Rob Klein says:

        Don,
        I just read Linda’s comments, then re-read the Great Hinge. I am familiar with the term “Messianic Jew”, but I am not sure exactly what that means. A Jew who trusted Christ as Savior according to I Cor. 15:1-4 would just be a member of the Body of Christ – where there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Col. 3:11, etc). Right? Or a individual Jew who believes that Christ is the Messiah, but does not understand Paul’s Gospel, yet he ‘believes’ and is zealous for the Law? As I understand Scripture, the former person is a grace believer, is redeemed, and is a Christian. However, the latter person, though he probably considers himself a Christian, yet he is ignorant of Paul’s Gospel – the Gospel of the Grace of God, and has not appropriated the finished work of Christ by faith. He therefore would not be redeemed. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what ‘Messianic Jew’ really means. In Christ,

        Rob Klein

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Rob,
          Each case must be evaluated on its own merit. What I would hope “Messianic Jew” means is a Jew who has believed Paul’s gospel.

  2. Yohanan says:

    Don,
    As what I have learned, we the Church is the Bride of Christ. If Israel is the Bride, so what will be our position in His Kingdom?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Yohanan,
      The Church is the body of Christ. Please see my article, The Bride of Christ. What our position in the Kingdom will be is unknown. The most information we have is we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8.17).

  3. Becky says:

    Hi Don, you state, The gospel of the kingdom included repentance, believing Jesus was the Messiah, baptism, and keeping the Mosaic Law.
    1) Mosaic law as in the ten commandments or the entire law?
    2) did Jesus ultimately desire that the Jews would come to realize that they were unable to keep the Mosaic law?
    3) can people today still be saved under both gospels?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      1. Difficult to know. Read Matthew 19.16-22; Mark 10.17-22; Luke 18.18-23. From these accounts it seems limited to the Decalogue. Salvation in the OT is murky.
      2. The Mosaic Law provided an understanding and remedy in Levitical sacrifices. The first step in all salvation is to realize one is a sinner.
      3. No. Only Paul’s gospel is valid today–which Peter stated in Acts 15.11 and Paul confirmed in Galatians 1.7-9.

      • Becky says:

        Thanks so much. I can accept your use of the word “murky” as i am just beginning to see how complicated it is trying to combine grace and works, and how much you must “labour” to help people like me to grasp the truth until we are complete in Christ. I’m sure Paul will be very happy to meet you and Les.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Thank you. In my view, Paul, outside of the Lord Himself, is THE great man of mankind. It will be an honor and joy beyond description to meet the man who suffered so much, was so faithful, and faced insurmountable odds to spread the wonderful gospel of the grace of God.

  4. Becky says:

    To clarify my second question above, about being saved under both gospels, i am speaking of people who have not been truly enlightened by Paul’s gospel; who are taught through the gospels and believe that Jesus was God’s son, died for our sins (which obviously many denominations now teach), was buried, and resurrected, yet are taught to keep the Mosaic law (s)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Anything added to Paul’s gospel for salvation nullifies it. One who thinks he gains salvation by keeping the Law does not have salvation. There is no “and” in Paul’s gospel. It is believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead for your justification. Period. Full stop. Nothing more.

      • Becky says:

        So basically, there are a lot of people, especially in denominations, that are in grave danger if their walk is not founded on Christ’s death and resurrection for our justification. This passage immediately comes to mind:
        1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
        1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
        1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
        1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
        1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
        1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

        So many focus their teachings on the works discussed here, yet the first, most important aspect is the foundation, Jesus Christ. This also clears up for me why Jesus warned the church in Revelation that despite all their “good works,” they needed to repent and return to their first love lest He remove their candlestick.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Yes. This is the most serious and important business in the world. A correct understanding is literally life and death.

  5. Kim N. says:

    Hi Don,

    This is what I was looking for and I found it at the end of this very important article of yours:

    “The last point I would make with regard to the decision at the Council is that all of Paul’s letters date from after the Council. Paul wrote no letters before that time.”

    This nails it. Paul’s gospel is the only one after 51 AD. Thank you so much for your teaching. If I do not see you in this life, (we live on the US West Coast) I make sure to see you and thank you in the next life for your ministry. I appreciate your articles and have read many of them. God bless.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kim,
      Thank you. Look forward to meeting you too.

    • james forrestal says:

      Please help me understand: Paul baptized Lydia and some of the Corinthians such as Crispus AFTER the Jerusalem Council. What is going on here? Does not Acts 16 follow 15 chronologically? What baptism is he practicing here since the Gospel of the Kingdom which included water baptism was no longer valid? Todah & good evening, In Christ.

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        James,
        Water baptism continued most likely until Paul wrote Ephesians. It was on its way out when he wrote the Corinthians (~57 A.D.) and ended by Ephesians (~60-61 A.D.). The Jerusalem Council settled the matter of the gospel, not water baptism.

        • james forrestal says:

          A phase out doesn’t make sense. Paul baptized a lot after the Council. In Ephesus: “certain disciples” according to John’s baptism were baptized by authority of Paul in the name of Jesus. Sound familiar? Peter in acts 2! Even at the end of Acts Paul is teaching on the Kingdom of God: 28:31: preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him.

          So its not so cut & dry unless perhaps:

          This is the way to solve this:

          Judean believers should be:

          1. Circumcised according to the eternal Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 17

          2. Baptized in the name of Jesus: evidence: acts 2 and acts 19. They are in the Kingdom and in the Body: example: Paul.

          3. Since the New Covenant was made exclusively with Judeans it is they who are obligated to observe it as commanded by Christ: “do this in remembrance of me”. Since not made w Gentiles: no obligation to observe.

          All distinctions between believing Judeans & Gentiles are not erased in Christ like many “grace” teachers insist.

          To quote Arnold Fruchtenbaum in Israelology: p 758:

          “The Messianic Jew is a distinctive element in the Body of Christ, and this distinctiveness is based on four lines of evidence provided in the Scriptures. This distinctive feature involves position(Jewish nationality, membership in Israel the whole, the Israel of God(the remnant), the natural branch in the Olive tree) & function: circumcision, loyalty to Israel, the remnant that is keeping Israel alive, Gentile relationship in blessing & cursing”.

          This may be hard for many Gentile Christians to swallow but the scriptures are there to back it up.

          We are all learning, and we Gentiles are endeavoring to understand a Judean book the Bible as best we can :)

          Grace & Peace to you Brother and thanks for your studies.

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            James,
            Paul ministered for 30 years. That period involved transition. Things took time to change and that is why we must interpret according to time and context. Fructenbaum is wrong. Paul explicitly stated no difference exist in the body of Christ in Jew and Gentile. For Paul, the kingdom of God was not the earthly kingdom proclaimed by Jesus and the Twelve but the whole realm of God’s rule. Again, it is imperative to interpret according to context. Acts is not a doctrinal book. Is is history. If you try and use it for doctrine, confusion will result. The source of all Christian or Church doctrine comes from Paul’s letters. In Ephesians 4.5, Paul explicitly stated water baptism had ended. Keep things separate and confusion and contradictions cease.

            • james forrestal says:

              I think Paul preached the Kingdom Gospel in addition to the Gospel of Grace: this is why he baptized Judeans. I can’t find in scripture where he clearly baptized a non proselyte Gentile & this could be why he said “Christ sent me not to baptize” possibly referring to Gentiles.

              Nevertheless: Who did God give the authority to abrogate the eternal unconditional, unilateral Abrahamic Covenant? Not Paul! If not him then who? Circumcision was a clear provision of it and this is one proof that not all distinctions between Judean and Gentile are erased.

              As for Galatians 3: 28: Contextually this is referring to salvation which is the same for all but physical distinctions remain: “no Male & female”??! Face up to this contextually & literally.

              who in your opinion is the israel of God in Galatians 6:16? thanks

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                James,
                No Scriptual evidence exists that Paul preached the kingdom gospel except immediately after his salvation (Acts 9.20). Shortly afterwards, he went to Arabia where God began His revelations of salvation by faith alone, the Church, the body of Christ, the significance of His death and resurrection, etc. None of these things were known before Paul. Paul did not abrogate the Abrahamic covenant. Indeed, he is the current fulfillment of it. This is what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.8. I do not understand your circumcision point. Of course functional distinctions remain in male and female and Jew and Gentiles. That was not Paul’s point. Paul’s point was that before Paul, Jews held a place privilege above Gentiles. That is now erased in the Church. Please see my article, “Israel” as a Technical Term regarding Galatians 6.16.

    • Tony says:

      Doctrine, Kim N,
      Doctrine,
      If the Jerusalem Council settled the matter of the gospel, why then did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John yet write about the Gospel of the Kingdom in each of their respective gospels; which were all written “after” the Jerusalem council. Wouldn’t it seem to reason that since the matter of the gospel was settled, they would have included this in their gospels? Please help me understand as I am stuck on this point?

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        Tony,
        The gospels are historical records of God’s program with Israel. They record the coming of the King, the proclamation of the kingdom of God, and explain why the kingdom did not come. The book of Acts continues this explanation. During Jesus’ earthly ministry a person was saved through the gospel of the kingdom, not Paul’s gospel of grace. The gospels are about Israel, not the Church. They tell us what was, not what is.

  6. noel says:

    Do you have Churches here in Manila, Philippines? what church do you recommend? Thanks brother.

  7. Bruce W says:

    Don,

    God Bless you brother. May the Lord over-fill your cup so that you have to drink from your saucer.

    Now, as elated as I am to have found your site, I’m disheartened knowing so many people do Not know or understand the “True Gospel of Jesus Christ” as Paul preached it. Sadly, the vast majority of so-called Christiandom is essentially lost.

    I have a ministry on Twitter and it still amazes me that the most grief I get is Not from the depraved lost but from so-called Christians who follow the Kingdom message.

    I can’t seem to find an accurate chronological list of NT books. Could you please direct me to such a list? I want to understand more clearly by seeing the dating.

    And please answer these for me because it’s nagging at me and my wife’s spirits. Since Paul’s Gospel is the only legitimate one that saves, is the rest of the Bible just historical and object lessons? What does it offer to true believers?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bruce,
      Thank you for your gracious words. Chronology is difficult and what one will find is no chronologers agree. One day I’ll do my own study. For Paul’s letters and chronology, Matthew McGee has done a great job: http://matthewmcgee.org/paultime.html. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. God gave us all the Scriptures for our spiritual growth (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11). From the time of John the Baptist until the Council of Jerusalem, the kingdom gospel was legitimate. So from the time God revealed the gospel of faith + 0 in the finished work of Christ (He died for us and arose from the dead) to Paul, both the kingdom gospel and Paul’s gospel were legitimate. Acts is a transitional book and there was some overlap. The great lesson here is that faith is obedience. When and whatever God reveals we are to believe it. If God said do 5 jumping jacks for salvation, faith would do 5 jumping jacks. Remember, Naaman the Syrian was healed by washing 7 times in the Jordan–waters he considered inferior. You may also enjoy The Great Gap since you have enjoyed The Great Hinge. Grace and peace.

  8. Mike Watts says:

    Hi Don
    I just found your articles and enjoy reading them. I too am trying to learn and be able to answer questions for the “church goers” who mis-understand the dispensation we are living in. Wow is it a chore. Most are so tied up in mixing grace with law and are totally confused. The only way to understand the Bible is by noticing the difference in what Paul taught from the risen Lord and what Peter and the twelve taught from the Lord when He walked on earth. It seems so easy once you see that difference. There is a strong delusion in the organized church today. Anyway my question is if a person believes that one is saved by faith alone in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus and then preachers and others say if that faith does not produce works then it was not “real faith” to begin with. I read all throughout Paul’s letters where the people were not perfect nor even close to being perfect. Paul rebuked the Corinthians but in the end he let them know that the old corruptible bodies would be changed in the twinkling of an eye. He never once told any od the churches that their short comings meant they would lose their salvation. My question is regarding the passage Becky quoted in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. I would think this is not about our sin going through the fire but about our teachings. We build on the foundation Jesus. If someone is teaching that you are saved by faith alone and that your faith must produce good works then that teaching will be burned up yet he will still be saved. It seems some of the Galatians were being swayed that way but yet they were still believers sealed with the Holy Spirit.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      Thank you. True faith should produce good works. It is evidence of faith. But we also have many examples of believers sinning. 1 Corinthians is a record of the problems confronting Paul with these believers. Paul wrote that because of their abuse of the Lord’s table, many had become sick and many had died (1 Corinthians 11.27-30). God will discipline and even remove true believers because of sin. Works will be judged primarily on the basis of one’s attitude in doing them as well as following the truth (1 Corinthians 3.10-15). Tragically, we know that the Asian believers of Paul’s gospel abandoned that truth for legalism (2 Timothy 1.15). Many believers fail to be faithful but do not lose their salvation based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

      • Mike Watts says:

        Yes I see they abandoned the truth for legalism. The same can be said of the organized church today. But since they were believers they will not now be unsealed from the Holy Spirit. Would they not still be saved but as their works will be burned?
        Another question would be if Jesus already paid for my sin why would God discipline someone for their sin? That would mean I would also be paying for my sin. That would be confusing. According to 2 Corinthians God in no longer counting our sin against us.16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
        According to the verse you quoting about the Lord’s Table it seems to me that we are no longer under that ordinance. Paul also talked about speaking in tongues and knowledge in the Corinthians but those have also ceased. Does he ever mention the Lord’s table in the prison epistles or anywhere else?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Mike,
          They were saved, despite the fact they abandoned grace for Law. The second question deals with the difference in justification vs. sanctification. God has forgiven the believer’s sin but his sin nature remains which leads to sin. God will not tolerate sin (Galatians 6.6-9). He is committed to conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8.29). So discipline is one means to achieve this transformation. One way to think about it might be to say forgiveness is based upon love, sanctification upon hope. Lastly, tongues and the Lord’s table are not equivalent. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 13 that tongues, prophecy, etc. would cease. He did not state this for the Lord’s table. The fact he did not mention it in the prison epistles is moot. Paul stated that water baptism was over (Ephesians 4.5). The significance of the Lord’s table is it proclaims His death (work on the cross) until He returns, i.e., the Rapture.

  9. Mike Watts says:

    Hi
    I am just trying to get it clear in my own mind. Colossians 2 says the following.
    8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins[c] of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

    16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not[d] seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

    20 Therefore,[e] if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
    We are FREE in Christ and adding to it the Lord’s Table or what most churches call it the Lord’s Supper seems to me we are adding a “Jewish” thing to Paul’s message. When Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11 “32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” This does not add up to the idea that God is not counting our sins against us and in Romans where Paul says in Romans 8 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” So no matter what would happen at the “Lord’s Table” there is no condemnation to us who are in Christ Jesus. Those of us who believe that Jesus paid for our entire sin debt and that God is not counting anything else against us, then there is no condemnation or punishment. Our sins have been nailed to the cross. It looks to me like in Corinthians they were getting together and some were sharing their meals and some were not. As far as the Lord telling Paul about the Lord’s Supper which Paul quotes from Jesus earthly ministry then it is probably not for the Body of Christ today. Since Paul’s message was hid from the other apostles. Paul was given a progressive revelation and maybe perhaps the Lord’s Supper was never mentioned once Paul received his entire revelation then it is nothing to do with us. It would seem to me that to try to make your flesh “better” would be a thing that we cannot do. The flesh has been “circumcised” or cut away from our being and we must reckon it dead. So when we do sin and I would say we do everyday then our mind set should be that what I did is not the real me anymore and as we grow and allow the Spirit to lead us by studying His Word we grow in the knowledge that was given Paul. 99% of the church today has no understanding of our commission today which is as ambassadors for Christ we are to let the people know that God is no longer counting our sins against us and then tell them the clear and easy Gospel of Grace. The truth is when we examine ourselves if we are honest then we know that as far as our flesh goes we are filthy rags. God sees us as righteous because of our faith and God has imputed Christ righteousness to us. We cannot improve on that. Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      God sees us as righteous due to His imputed righteousness. However, we still sin and there are consequences of that sin. God spanks his children for disobedience just as a good father or mother spanks their children. This is for our good–sanctification. What Paul wrote from Romans-Philemon is for us, not just the prison epistles. The body of Christ is revealed not in the prison epistles but before them.

  10. Joe says:

    I’m not sure this directly applies but since I Corinthians chapter 3 was mentioned above I’d like to provide a verse that a bible teacher pointed out to me a long ago…. Chapter 3 vs 1a begins with the words…”But I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal”. I have to imagine the saved individuals addressed here had few good works to show for themselves but they were, never the less, Paul’s brothers in Christ despite their carnality.

    • Mike Watts says:

      Hi Joe
      I agree the Corinthians had very few good works if any. They were carnal and I believe most of the organized church are carnal or unsaved. Very few people even know that Paul is our Apostle even though it is so clear in his epistles. This is why there is so much confusion(in my opinion), preachers are mixing law and grace and mixing together God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the Body of Christ.

  11. Mike Watts says:

    I understand that but there were some things Paul talked about in those epistles that were not for us. Paul said he was not sent to baptize but he did water baptize some. He never came out and said that you are no longer to water baptize. Paul mention tongues but that is not for us today. They still were doing it at the churches Paul started. Paul talked about the gift healing but it was not listed in Paul’s gifts that would cease. I fully understand that the supernatural gifts are no longer for today. But to say everything in Romans – Philemon is for us cannot be correct. They did some things in those churches that we do not do today. They did water baptize until Paul told them he was not sent to baptize. That was obvious communicated to Paul by Jesus after he already water baptized as part of progressive revelation. Peter and the others never stopped preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews. God put a hold on that plan and it will start back after the rapture. Paul and James along with the other apostles agreed that they would continue there ministry of the Gospel of the circumcision to the Jews and that Paul would go to the Gentiles preaching his Gospel of the uncircumcision. They never combined the two together but that is what has happened today as our churches have combined the law and grace message together. So to say that we are spanked for our sins would mean that we are still having to pay for our sins. It is not measured out equally as we can see that two people can commit the same sin and one may suffer consequences and the other not. I am not saying we should go out and sin because I do not believe we should. I am saying we all do sin and our mindset should be that in thanking God that he has already forgiven us for that sin.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      I agree Christ has forgiven us all sin and we should thank Him. Some, I understand, teach only Paul’s prison epistles apply to the Church, the body of Christ. I disagree with this. Everything applies unless it is specifically excluded. Those things include sign gifts, gifts of healing, and water baptism since we have explicit Scriptural statements that these things ceased. After the Council of Jerusalem, the gospel of the kingdom ceased. Peter stated this in Acts 15.11. Paul pronounced a curse upon anyone proclaiming it after the Council (Galatians 1.6-9). For the Twelve to have continued to preach the gospel of the kingdom, after the Jerusalem council and after Paul’s declaration, would have meant they were accursed. Had that been the case, Paul would have certainly written something about it. He was not shy.

  12. Mike Watts says:

    Oh no. I do agree that Romans through Philemon is for us today. I think where we disagree is that I do not think Lord’s Table is any longer for us today and probably never was. Just as the people in Corinthian were still water baptizing they were also having meals and calling it the Lord’s Supper. Just as Paul corrected them about water baptism I believe he corrected them on the Lord’s Supper. We can look at ourselves and try to make a judgment but if we are honest we know that no good dwells in our flesh and would not be worthy anyway. As far as Acts 15:11 Peter agrees that they are also saved by grace. Even Noah was saved by grace. But it takes faith in God’s plan for the dispensation that you live in. Noah had faith and he was told to build an arc. Peter preached that you must have faith and this required you repenting and being water baptized . It was still the same grace and no one is or will ever be saved apart from God’s Grace. But in our dispensation it is faith plus nothing. We just have to believe in the gospel of grace. To try and change the word of faith as a lot of people do, (not you) and say that your faith must produce works or you do not have faith is outrageous and is a perverted gospel because Paul tells us that the person who does not work his faith is counted as righteousness. So Peter’s ministry was fading and Paul’s was magnifying but Peter and the other eleven continued to preach to the Jews and follow the laws. They are going to be priest in the Kingdom on earth and that requires water baptism. We are going to be in the “heavenlies” and that requires faith without works. The churches would be so much more fruitful if the Gospel of Grace would be clearly taught and people would let the Holy Spirit guide believers instead of threatening hell on every unsaved person telling them certain sins would send them to hell. What a difference if people would teach the mystery given to Paul letting people know that God is reconciling the world to himself and at this time not pouring out his judgment on them. In Galatians 2 Paul expounds on his meeting in Acts 15 and tells the Galatians that Peter and the others would continue what they were doing and they gave him the hand of fellowship to go to the Gentiles. There were still two different Gospels preached.
    But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

    8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

    9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      Paul stated explicitly that any who proclaimed another gospel but his was accursed. The gospel of the kingdom officially ended at the Council.

      • Mike Watts says:

        Ok I can see that. What would you think accursed means? Since a lot of the churches turned back to legalism that heard and accepted Paul’s message were saved what does accursed mean? I can see that Satan is hard at work twisting the message and people are so easily persuaded towards a work base salvation.
        thanks

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Mike,
          I do not know. Paul was writing about believers, even including himself or an angel. Paul was willing to deliver a sinning believer in 1 Corinthians 5 to Satan. Because the Corinthians were abusing the Lord’s table he wrote that some were sick and many had died (1 Corinthians 11.29-34). So, I think something of this nature was in mind.

  13. Mike Watts says:

    Wow! I just read your conversation with Paul. That is fantastic. Do you mind if I copy it and use it to give to people?

  14. sang kim says:

    Hello Don. Thank you for your work. I’m not sure if this is the right thread to ask this question but what’s your stance on Lord’s supper. Is this for church today or is it only pertaining to the original 12 disciples?

  15. Rodney says:

    I’m a long time Christian (long time believer in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone) but only recently come around to the so called “mid acts dispensationalist” view, as the only way to resolve apparent contradictions between Paul’s salvation by grace only message and James.

    The “mid acts dispensationalist” view or whatever you want to call it really is the only way to explain the apparent (and as it turns out real) different gospels proclaimed by Jesus while on earth and the 12 disciples and Paul.

    There would appear to be a time when both dispensations were active at the same time after Jesus rising from the dead. This raises the question of exactly when did the Kingdom gospel get completely replaced by the grace gospel as the only valid (current active) gospel.

    After reading this I’m inclined to agree with the author and pin point the time that the gospel of the kingdom ceased (for the time being i.e. until the rapture) to be with Peter’s pronouncement that:
    “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

    At first I thought how can one man’s pronouncement switch off (for the time being) an entire dispensation? I mean not just change a church preaching practice but change an actual mechanism of salvation that applies in the heavenlies so to speak.

    But then I remembered what Jesus said to Peter in Mat 16:19: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
    I’m wondering if this turning of the hinge (or lock) so to speak is what Jesus was referring to.

    Excellent article by the way.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Rodney,
      thank you. The Lord in His earthly ministry made no reference to the Church, the body of Christ. The “kingdom of heaven” always referred to Israel’s anticipated earthly kingdom (Matthew 6.10). This pronouncement had nothing to do with the Church. It remained a secret until the heavenly Lord revealed it to Paul.

    • GraceReceiver says:

      That’s a really good thought, Rodney! Thanks for that!

  16. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Dr. Don, May the Lord enlightens the minds of all reading this article.

  17. Van says:

    Greetings Don,
    The KJB reading of Acts 15:11 nails the Gk: sozo (aorist tense) to a future time whereas the NASB seemingly to the then present time. What is your understanding on why the difference which would seem very material if this is the time the Jews from now own would be saved (exclusively) by Paul’s gospel. Why would James have been in a position to boast (and challenge?) Paul of the numbers growing under the Kingdom gospel as late as Acts 21:18-21?
    Second, would you understand Paul’s instruction in 2Tim. 2:10-14 (especially v.10, “…that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ…”) to be reflective of Acts 15:11? Otherwise, how do you understand these verses; Paul’s instruction to Timothy regarding the Messianic body, or the body of Christ? To where is Paul pointing in 2Tim. 2:11, “It is a faithful saying…”; where? Matt. 10:33? For me it is very problematic to understand 2Tim. 2:10-14 as Paul speaking of the body of Christ.
    I find your studies always interesting, insightful and helpful.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Van,
      The word σωθῆναι is an aorist, passive, infinitive. Normal translation would translate it as “to be saved.” No time element is present in an infinitive, only aspect. An aorist infinitive suggests a simple view to the whole of the action, as an event. The KJV translators translated the passage “we shall be saved.” The NASB translators chose “we are saved.” Given the context, I think the KJV translators were more accurate. The question before the council was how one was saved and the Jerusalem believers were brought around to Paul’s view. While there was agreement at the council, I don’t think James ever understood Paul. Even Peter had difficulty (2 Peter 3.16). I think in 2 Timothy 2.10, etc., Paul was writing about all who would be saved, Jew or Gentile, with no particular reference to Acts 15.11–that issue had been settled. 2 Timothy 2.11, etc. seems to be a creedal statement that had been developed by the early Church based on Paul’s teachings.

  18. Angel Gonzalez says:

    Hi, Ron
    Are the 12 apostles members of the Body of Christ since they believed Paul’s gospel?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Angel,
      The Twelve were saved believing the gospel of the kingdom, not Paul’s gospel. Their destiny is with the kingdom program, not the Church. The Lord promised they would reign over the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19.28). Members of the body of Christ have a heavenly destiny as joint-heirs of Christ (Romans 8.17) and will rule angels (1 Corinthians 6.3)

  19. Daniel says:

    Hi Don, Great article. I had never been able to sort out the two gospels until now. In Matthew 24:14 when the disciples (12?) asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the world (aion, age) He said the gospel of the Kingdom would be preached as a witness to all the nations and then the end would come. It makes perfect sense, to me, that the Jews, who did recognize Jesus as their Messiah, would still be under the old law plus baptism, etc. While the gentiles, who had been grafted in, would be under grace. Unfortunately, it is at the point of the Council of Jerusalem that it gets murky again for me. What gave Peter the right to change the gospel they had been preaching to the Jews? Does this have anything to do with Jesus giving Peter the keys to heaven and hell? If so, why did Peter wait so long after Jesus was crucified? Not to go off on a tangent, I feel the two witnesses in Revelation may be Elijah, who was taken away in a flaming chariot pulled by flaming horses in a whirlwind. And Moses who was not allowed into the promised land because he struck the rock twice with his rod instead of talking to it to get water. Scripture says God buried him and no man knows where. But wait you say, he’s dead. Matthew, Mark and Luke all give an account of Jesus talking to Moses before Jesus was crucified. Also the Archangel Michael disputed satan over Moses body. What would satan want with Moses body unless he knew that God would use Moses later. God’s two witnesses will prophecy, could this mean they bring back the gospel of the Kingdom for the Jews? Sorry Don, it looks like all I have is questions, maybe you can shed some light on them.

    0

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Daniel,
      Thank you. What God did with Peter in Acts 10 was to prepare him for the moment at the Council. More than a decade had passed and Peter had no doubt forgotten about Cornelius. He had had no further evangelism to Gentiles. God the Holy Spirit caused him to remember Cornelius and his family had been saved apart from circumcision and keeping the Law. Because of this he could agree with Paul and now proclaim that Paul had the way of salvation. God knew Paul would need this help years later and prepared Peter for the moment. You might enjoy my article, The Two Witnesses.

  20. Jerry Shaw says:

    James “quotes” Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:15. Looking at the actual scripture in Amos, there seems to be a difference. Not quite sure if this is significant and would appreciate your take. Am currently at odds with my pastor on the Book of James and his opinion on Faith and Works. Have read your blog on that and I hope it will be convincing. James 2:23 Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
    James seems to be confusing the story of Isaac with Abraham @16 years previous.
    Sooo, Did James not understand either scripture? or is his understanding somewhat acceptable for the time? And/or am I searching for the poo in the pepper???

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jerry,
      James’ quotation is probably accurate. Stam put in a footnote, “In A.V. Amos 9:11,12 reads “remnant of Edom,” instead of “residue of men,” and “possess,” instead of “seek,” but doubtless the latter in each case is correct, as quoted by James in Acts for while Edom is adum in the Hebrew, man is adam and while possess is irsh, seek is drash. The difference in each case is so slight that the words may very well have been miscopied. Also, James’ quotation of the passage is more in line with the rest of prophecy than the text from which it was translated in the A.V.” James quoted Amos to show Peter’s experience at Cornelius’ house agreed with prophecy. He did not have anything to say about Paul and Baranabas’ ministry. James believed faith and works were necessary for salvation. This is proof that until Paul (Abraham being the exception–which James did not understand) salvation by faith alone was unknown. If asked, James would have said Abraham was not saved until the sacrifice of Isaac experience. This is precisely the kind of thinking present at the Council. Paul’s converts were not truly saved unless they were circumcised and kept the Law (Acts 15.1, 5).

  21. Becky says:

    Hi Don,

    Another beautifully organized article! I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from it. I just have one point I need clarification on:

    Regarding point 3. “I have heard or read of no one who has observed or commented on this fact.” Is this your observation based on the bible or the world around us right now?: “Repentance and baptism is not mentioned from Israel’s saved leadership.”

    What does it mean; that the original gospel to Israel/Jews was changed from, ‘repent, believe the gospel, and be baptized . . . ‘; to: ‘be circumcised and keep the Law’ ever since the Council of Jerusalem? Is this what saved leadership (Jews) currently teaches/believes?

    Blessings

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Water baptism was required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 1.4, 16.16; Acts 2.36, 22.16). Repentance was also required. Why did those at the Council not make a point of this in their assertion that Paul’s converts were not saved? Paul only mentioned repentance in terms of unbelievers once in his letters (Romans 2.4). For Paul, the emphasis was “believe.” They only contended that to be saved Paul’s converts needed to be circumcised and keep the Law. Perhaps Paul had baptized them (for this did not officially end until Ephesians 4.5 written about 61 A.D.). I just find it interesting that repentance and water baptism which characterized the gospel of the kingdom were not mentioned.

      • Chris Brown says:

        Humbly I would like to suggest that regarding this point (a point you also make in footnote #4) we are missing the forest for the trees. No where in Acts 15 is there any implication that “the leadership” contended for circumcision and the law, only “certain men” who were a “sect of the Pharisees.” One can assume the leadership did this based on their present understanding, but that leads to the practice of eisegesis.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Chris,
          These “certain men” went with the authority of the 12. They were representatives. They believed salvation required cirumcision and Law-keeping which was part of the gospel of the kingdom. James was zealous for the Law as is evident in Acts 21. This was not a rogue, unauthorized view but what they all believed.

          • Wesley says:

            What about Acts 15:24-29? That seems to be saying that James and the 12 sent a letter saying that the men who had “unsettled” their souls did not go with authority from them.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Wesley,
              James wrote they had not commanded a group to go to Paul’s converts. It is not possible to know the details of all this. The Pharisees, who were believers, said circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law was required for salvation. We have no record this was contradicted by the Twelve. What is clear is that Paul’s gospel was unknown to them and that their gospel (of the kingdom) was entirely different from Paul’s.

  22. Tom says:

    Am I missing something? The Jerusalem council did not rule that it was faith + 0. The church remained divided after the council on the rest of Paul’s teaching as well with some of them reminding Paul when he returned to Jerusalem what the council had decided upon. Apparently Paul was not following the Jerusalem decision closely and they wanted to bring him in line. When was Christiandom informed that Paul was the only doctrine? For example wasn’t water baptism continually practiced amongst the gentile and Jewish believers in the first and second century?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tom,
      The primary issue of the Jerusalem council was Paul’s gospel of faith + 0. The believing Jews in Jerusalem said Paul’s converts were not saved. They had to be circumcised and keep the Law to be saved. Paul argued they were saved and Peter declared Paul was right and they were wrong (Acts 15.11). From that point on, only one gospel existed: Paul’s gospel.

  23. Tom says:

    Peter seemed to agree with Paul but the ruling of the Council was faith + sexual purity + non idol meat. Maybe God and Paul had a new dispensation. Maybe Peter was sympathetic to it. But it seems like the rest of Christiandom was not on the plan. Were the council results valid doctrine? Or does Peter actually overrule them since he was given the keys to the kingdom?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tom,
      No, they affirmed Paul’s converts were saved by faith alone. What James said afterward was about conduct of life, not salvation. Paul made this clear in Galatians 1.6-9. Read Acts 15.11 carefully. Peter declared from then on, Jews would have to be saved according to Paul’s gospel, by faith alone.

  24. Bahati Mwakasole says:

    I would like to know more about the author of these articles. I really see the Lord and I’m opened by these lessons. I believe that these are revelations from God to this author. …
    May God fulfil His purpose through this man of God.
    God bless.

  25. George says:

    Hello bro Don, can u please tell me in what way was Paul’s gospel manifest in the prophets of old?
    Romans 16:26 KJV
    [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
    My understanding is Paul’s gospel was made known by the scriptures of the prophets? For all men to follow ?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      What Paul was saying in Romans 16.25-25 was that what was hidden was now revealed. It was latent in the OT but in language so veiled no one understood it. Isaiah 53 is the only passage that gave any clue about the work of Christ on the cross but no one had any idea what this passage meant. See the account in Acts 8 with Philip and the Jewish eunuch.

  26. Mark says:

    Good evening Don
    When Christ explained that He was to suffer and die the Bible states the 12 understood not, this was “hid” from them. Scripture also states the 12 asked Christ “what would be the sign of your coming?” Question, if they didn’t understand He was going to die, how did they know or what did they understand about His leaving and “coming”?
    Thank you for your ministry.

  27. George says:

    Comment: Hello brother Don, how do you interpret John 3:36? First of all, it is John the Baptist making the statement, in what way can he say that those who believe on the Son “hath”-present tense, everlasting life. I thought the kingdom Jews get everlasting life in the future kingdom by abiding or enduring to the end or if they die believing in Jesus’s name AND following the law. NOT by just believing, James say devils also believe but obviously they don’t do the commandments, please help me understand how would John the Baptist be qualified to say such a thing that makes it seem all one has to do in the kingdom program is to just believe on the son and have present tense eternal life, which we dispensationalist know that would not be possible in John the baptists time frame? Eternal life, sealed by the Holy Spirit, in the present tense is only given to body of Christ members who believe in Paul’s gospel, and not John the Baptist , or even John’s 3:16 gospel, would you consider the 2 Johns’ gospels the same? Thanks!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Saving faith in the kingdom gospel was to believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 16.16; John 11.27; 1 John 5.1, 10, 13). To believe in Christ was to believe in His identity. This gospel will revive in the Tribulation (Matthew 24.14) for then the issue will be who is God, Jesus the Christ, or the Beast, the Antichrist. Those who take the mark of the Beast and worship him reject Jesus as the Christ. They believe the Antichrist is God. Paul’s gospel focuses upon the work of Christ–that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead.

  28. joe says:

    How do we determine 7 years between the Crucifixion and the death of Stephen? My HCSB study bible has a footnote that says Jesus’ Crucifixion was in April 33 and Paul’s conversion was October 34. thank you

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      I have not found any chronologists who agree. We have a few firm dates but the rest is speculation. Much disagreement exists on the date as well as well as the day Jesus was crucified. The problem with a Friday crucifixion is Jesus’ statement that He would be 3 days and nights in the heart of the earth. You can’t get 3 days and nights from Friday if He rose Sunday morning since in Jewish reckoning, Sunday begins at sunset on Saturday. One of the best chronologies is Matthew McGee’s (http://www.matthewmcgee.org/paultime.html). See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_Jesus.

  29. Isaac says:

    Hi Don,

    In Acts chapter 9, Our precious Lord Jesus himself is talking to Ananias regarding Saul. Jesus tells him that Saul has been chosen to be a resource to bear HIS NAME (identity). Wasn’t Paul focusing on Jesus work on the cross, or does preaching of His name also include His works under the Grace Plan?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Isaac,
      For Paul, the “name” of Christ focused upon His work. This was not revealed at the time God gave the prophecy to Ananias but would be revealed later. See Romans 1.5; 1 Corinthians 1.2, 6.11). Check out the references to “name” in Paul’s letters.

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