The Purpose of the Book of Acts

Introduction

The book of Acts forms a bridge between the Gospels and Paul’s epistles. Almost every commentator on Acts maintains its purpose is to tell the story of the birth and growth of the church. While the birth of the church is found in Acts (though not in the way most think) Luke’s purpose was far different. The goal of this study is to examine the text and its structure and reveal why Luke wrote Acts.

Acts: A Continuation

Acts continues the message begun by John the Baptist, Jesus, and His twelve apostles in the gospels. Luke, the physician, is its author–the same man who wrote the gospel by his name. Acts is, therefore, volume two of Luke’s history.1

The gospels announced the King of Israel, the Messiah, had arrived. For centuries, the Jewish prophets had proclaimed a Messiah-King would come to establish an earthly kingdom in which He would rule. For 400 years, since Malachi, God suspended the office of prophet and provided no prophecy to the nation. Increasingly over the centuries, the Jewish people yearned for a King to establish the kingdom in which they would no longer be under the heel of Gentile rule. In this kingdom, according to prophecy, Israel would be preeminent among the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13) and a nation of priests (Exodus 19.5-6). The King would reign, not only over Israel, but over the whole earth (Zechariah 14.9) and the principal characteristics of the kingdom would be peace and righteousness (e.g., Isaiah 2.1-11, 11.1-10). With the birth of John the Baptist, God reestablished the prophetic office and prophecy began to be proclaimed again.

Luke’s gospel disclosed the conversation between the angel and Mary, the soon to be mother of the Messiah. The angel revealed the long-awaited Messiah had come and that He would occupy the throne of David to serve as Israel’s king. Luke wrote:

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1.26-38).

Mary’s response to the angel’s pronouncement indicated that while puzzled about how she was going to become pregnant, she understood the message about His rule (Luke 1.46-55). Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, also had an encounter with an angel. His words indicated he too understood what was taking place (Luke 1.67-80). Mary and Zachariah were not unusual. Every Jew knew these prophecies. Other evidence that demonstrated that the prophetic activity had resumed were Simeon’s experience in the Temple (Luke 2.25-35) and what happened to the prophetess, Anna (Luke 2.36-38).

John the Baptist’s public ministry was a message of repentance and water baptism. This fit with God’s intended purpose for Israel to become a kingdom of priests since the first thing the Levitical priests did to prepare for priestly service was wash (Exodus 29.4). John’s message was to prepare the people for the kingdom proclaimed by the angels to Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna (Matthew 3.1-3). Jesus proclaimed the same message as He began His public ministry (Matthew 4.12-17, 9.35).

The Twelve in the Kingdom

Following Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler and his stunning comment to the Twelve that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, the disciples asked Him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Peter, characteristically, pressed Jesus for additional information. Matthew wrote:

27 Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first (Matthew 19.27-30).

Jesus’ words were something they could latch onto. This was pay dirt. Do not think these men ever forgot His response. It penetrated deep into their souls. This is evident from their question to Him after His resurrection. Luke wrote:

6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1.6-8).

Foremost in the apostle’s minds after Jesus rose from the dead was the kingdom. And why not? John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve had proclaimed it was “at hand” for three years. Had not the Lord promised they would reign as kings over the twelve tribes of Israel? Would you have forgotten such a promise? But to their dismay, the Lord deflected their question and would not reveal the timetable of the kingdom. Instead, the Lord told them they were to await the coming of the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses.2 While the Lord refused to provide a clear answer their question, the disciples continued to operate on the basis that the kingdom was right around the corner. As such, their first order of business was to fill the vacancy of Judas’ position. Since the kingdom required Twelve apostles to judge the twelve tribes the empty slot had to be filled immediately (Acts 1.15-26).

Peter’s Sermons

Acts began in great hope. The nation had committed a terrible sin in crucifying their Messiah-King. But He had arisen! Hope remained alive. The Jewish nation could still repent and have the King and His kingdom. Peter understood this clearly. He addressed the Jewish people in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2.5, 14, 22, 29, 36) to offer them, once again, the King and the kingdom. Before examining Peter’s sermon, we must note an important fact: Peter addressed Jews only, no Gentiles. His message was exclusive to Israel. He ended his message with these words:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2.36).

What was their response?

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2.37)?

Peter responded:

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.38).”

Sometimes it is as important to recognize what the Bible does not say as it is to note what it does say. Notice what Peter did not say. Peter did not tell these Jews that Christ had died for their sins and rose from the dead and if that they believed this they would be saved. On the contrary, he continued to preach the message of repentance proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus. The Greek text reads:

Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Μετανοήσατε, καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν, καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.

A better translation is,

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

Peter declared that to receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit required: 1) repentance and 2) water baptism. Both repentance and water baptism were required for salvation under the kingdom ministry begun by John the Baptist (cf. the words of Jesus, Mark 16.16; John 3.5 with Matthew 3.1-6). Another thing to note is that Peter appealed to both the individual Jew and the Jewish nation. Hence, while an individual Jew could be saved by repentance and baptism, for the King and the kingdom to come required national repentance. In other words, every single Jew (ἕκαστος ὑμῶν) had to obey his words.

The Structure of Acts

When God wants to emphasize something, He repeats it. Several repetitions in Acts provide us with keys to Luke’s purpose in writing. Acts contains the following sets of threes and may be outlined in the following manner:

RepetitionPassageResult
Three Rejections of the King by the Jews Under the Twelve’s Ministry3Acts 4.5-31Threat (Sanhedrin)
Acts 5.12-42Imprisonment (Sanhedrin)
Acts 7.1-60Execution (Sanhedrin)
Three Rejections of the King by the Jews Under Paul’s MinistryActs 13.44-52Rejection
Acts 18.1-7Rejection
Acts 28.17-29Rejection
Three Accounts of Paul’s SalvationActs 9.1-16Near Damascus
Acts 22.1-21In Jerusalem
Acts 26.1-32In Caesarea
Three Defenses of Paul Before Gentile RulersActs 24.1-27Felix
Acts 25.1-12Festus
Acts 25.13-32Agrippa and Bernice

The first part of Acts (Acts 1-8) is dominated by activities of the Twelve and those associated with the Jerusalem assembly. In this section, the gospel of the kingdom was preached to the Jewish nation alone. No Gentile evangelism occurred. While some Jews responded to the message of repentance, the majority did not. Rejection of the message and its messengers intensified. The Sanhedrin, at first warned, then imprisoned, and lastly executed Stephen, one of the deacons of the Jerusalem assembly. At Stephen’s stoning Saul of Tarsus was introduced (Acts 7).

The next section (Acts 9-12) transitioned from a focus on the Twelve to Paul and his missionary ministry. During this period, Saul was converted (Acts 9) and commissioned as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). Following Paul’s conversion, a transition began from purely Jewish evangelism (cf. Acts 11.19) to Gentile evangelism by Paul. In Acts 10-11, God instructed Peter to go to the Gentile, Cornelius, who was saved. Peter’s evangelism of Cornelius was a one-time event. He had no Gentile ministry. In Acts 11, is the account of the church at Antioch which would become the first church with Gentiles. In Acts 12, Peter was arrested and imprisoned, not by the Jews, but by Herod Agrippa I. His release from prison by the Lord was the last we see Peter except for his involvement at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 about 11 years later.

In the last section, Acts 13-28, Luke shifted the focus of his history from the activities of the Twelve and the Jerusalem Church to the missionary journeys and ministry of Paul. During this time is the record of Paul’s going first to the Jews in the synagogues. After the Jews rejected Paul’s message, he would turn to the Gentiles. This occurred three times, in Acts 13, Acts 18, and Acts 28. Also, during this time Luke recorded three accounts of Paul’s conversion and his witness to three rulers: Felix, Festus, and Agrippa and Bernice.

The Three Rejections

The purpose of the book of Acts is governed by the Jews response to Peter and Paul. Luke recorded three rejections by the Jews to Peter and the apostles associated with him to the message of repentance and proclamation of the kingdom. In the latter portion of Acts, Luke recorded three rejections of the Jews to Paul’s overtures of salvation.

Paul’s AppealJewish ResponseText

44 The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.

46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
Acts 13.44-52
But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”Acts 18.1-7

20 For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” 21 They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” 23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.

24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. 25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 27 For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; Otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”29 [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

Acts 28.17-29

Conclusion

Acts began in great hope. The Jews had crucified their Messiah but He had risen from the dead. Hope remained alive that God would establish His long-awaited kingdom and fulfill the covenantal promises to Israel. Peter continued the message of repentance required of the nation which had begun with John the Baptist. Luke recorded that most of the nation would have none of it. They refused to repent and listen to Peter. In the next section of Acts, Paul, commissioned as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13), first preached to Jews (Romans 1.16-17). Paul desperately wanted the Jews to recognize that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Romans 9.1-3). He thought the nation could be saved since he had been saved: no one had been more zealously opposed to Jesus of Nazareth than he.

But it was not to be. Luke recorded three distinct rejections by the Jews to Paul’s reasoning with them that Jesus was the Christ. As Acts began in great hope for Israel, it ended in abject failure. The book ends with the words, “this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; and they will listen.” At this point, Paul recognized that no hope of repentance remained for the Jews. That would await a future day.

The primary purpose of the book of Acts is not to record the birth of the Church, the body of Christ. Luke’s primary purpose was to record the downfall of Israel. Why did the kingdom not come? The answer is it could not come until the nation repented and believed Jesus was the Messiah. Since the nation refused to repent, God set it aside and began to form His Church, the body of Christ, by commissioning Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. When the Body of Christ is complete God will resume His work with national Israel. In that day, Israel will repent and God will establish His kingdom on the earth. While the Jews of Jesus’ generation failed, the Jews of the Tribulation will not. They will repent and God will establish His kingdom and fulfill His covenantal promises. Paul revealed this in Romans 11.25-27:

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

Acts is a bridge between the gospels and Paul’s epistles. How strange the New Testament would read without it! Imagine going from the gospels to Romans. In the gospels, everything focuses upon the nation of Israel, repentance, and the earthly kingdom. Paul’s audience, however, was primarily Gentiles, not Jews. He only mentions repentance once for unbelievers in his letters (Romans 2.4). Repentance, in Paul’s letters, was reserved for  believers, not unbelievers. He had no thought of an earthly kingdom. He taught the Church’s destiny was heaven, not earth. Thus, without Acts, one would wonder what in the world had happened. Luke provides the answer.

1 Some argue Luke was a Gentile. The evidence for this is paper-thin. One argument is his name: Luke. Jews frequently had Graeco-Roman names. Paul was one. Apollos was another. The whole region had become Hellenized after Alexander the Great. Another argument is that Luke’s theology is Gentile. One can only wonder what led to this idea. How anyone who has read Luke can reach this conclusion is beyond me. Luke was far too familiar with Jewish law, tradition, and the Scriptures, and employed too many Semitisms, Jewish idioms, to be a Gentile (see H.F.D. Sparks, “The Semitisms of St. Luke’s Gospel,” The Journal of Theological Studies, vol-XLIV n175-176 (1943): 129-138). The only argument with substance is that Paul’s phrase “of the circumcision” (Colossians 4.10-11) referred to Jews and since Luke was not included, he wasn’t a Jew. But Paul’s phrase in this particular context was not to identify racial Jews but to identify men of the “party of the circumcision” (τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς, Galatians 2.12-13) who had joined Paul’s ministry. These were those of the Jerusalem Assembly (cf. Acts 15.1-5). If Luke was a Gentile he would be the only non-Jew to write Scripture. This would not fit well with Paul’s statement in Romans 3.1-2.  Luke was a Jew.
2 Jesus did not rebuke His disciples for their question. Nor did He tell them they misunderstood His meaning. On the contrary, they had it exactly right. What He refused to reveal was the timing of when the kingdom would be established.
3 After these three rejections or persecutions by the Jews is the persecution found in Acts 12. This rejection was not initiated or conducted by the Jews but by Herod Agrippa I, a grandson of Herod the Great. Herod killed James to please the Jews and imprisoned Peter. Luke recorded the circumstances of this ruler’s death (Acts 12.20-23).

©2013 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.


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110 Responses to The Purpose of the Book of Acts

  1. christina says:

    I was hoping you would expand on Luke himself, as Paul’s companion, only Gentile author, and writer of a Gospel book and not one of the 12 Apostles. Can you also comment on your opinion as to whether or not the Gospel of Mark addresses a Jewish audience or a believing Roman audience. I am working on properly dividing the Word of God.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Christina,
      All of the gospels were written to Jews. They speak of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This was not Paul’s focus. His focus for the Church, the body of Christ, was Jesus’ heavenly ministry where we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1.3). Luke was not a Gentile. He was a Jew. The idea Luke was a Gentile is based upon paper-thin arguments. One is his name: Luke. Jews frequently had Graeco-Roman names. Paul was one. The whole region became Hellenized after Alexander. Another argument is that Luke’s theology is Gentile. One can only wonder what led to this idea. How anyone who has read Luke can reach this conclusion is beyond me. The only argument with any substance for Luke being a Gentile is Paul’s statement in Colossians 4.10-11. The argument is that Paul’s phrase “of the circumcision” referred to Jews and since Luke wasn’t included, he wasn’t a Jew. But Paul’s phrase was not meant to identify racial Jews. Rather, it was to identify men from the “party of the circumcision” (τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς, Galatians 2.12-13) who had joined Paul’s ministry. Paul used this phrase to identify men of the Jerusalem Assembly (cf. Acts 15.1-5). If Luke was a Gentile he would be the only non-Jew to write Scripture. This would be in opposition to Paul’s statement in Romans 3.1-2. Furthermore, Luke was far too familiar with Jewish law, tradition, and the Scriptures, and employed too many Semitisms, Jewish idioms, to be a Gentile (see H.F.D. Sparks, “The Semitisms of St. Luke’s Gospel,” The Journal of Theological Studies, vos-XLIV n175-176 (1943): 129-138).

  2. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    In Acts 28:5 did Paul know that no harm would come to him when the snake fastened itself on his hand, because he was sent to minister the Gospel Of Grace?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      From Paul’s actions, he knew. God had told him he would go to Rome (Acts 23.11) and he did not ask Dr. Luke to treat the bite. The whole thing must have been quite humorous. The Maltans kept waiting for Paul to keel over dead and changed their opinion from thinking he was a criminal to thinking he was a god.

  3. becky says:

    Hi Don, I’ve yet to read this study but i have a quick question about Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31 where it says they were filled with the Holy Ghost. I see in 2:4 that when they were filled, they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance and in 4:31 when they were filled, they spake the word of God with boldness which appears to be an answer to their prayer in v.29. My understanding has been that the Holy Spirit is indwelling. Was this something “special” or is there another understanding? thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      What happened in Acts was the beginning of the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36.26-27 and Jeremiah 31.31-34. This will come to complete fulfillment in the kingdom.

  4. becky says:

    Hi Don,
    Are you speaking specifically of the Jews being filled with the Spirit? Or are you speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in general? thanks again

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Joel 2.28 which Peter quoted in Acts 2 stated God would pour out His spirit upon all flesh–this included Jews and Gentiles. These are they who will enter the kingdom. Jews specifically it seems would dream dreams and see visions. This indwelling was part of the prophetic, kingdom program God revealed by the prophets. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the body of Christ, was unknown at this time for the Church program was yet secret.

      • becky says:

        So used to taking prophecy and applying it to include the Gentile church. Gosh, i remember countless times i read that passage in Joel, trying to “make it work,” and never could resolve it in my mind; just “accepted” it. Why do we do this, Don? I feel so foolish, i could just sit down and cry. So this passage is directly correlated to Matt 24, right?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Yes. Everything in the Gospels and early Acts relates to Israel and the kingdom. The reason “we do this” is because that is what most people have been taught. Christendom has been confused for 2,000 years. Unless one sees that God’s commission of Paul began a whole new program–just like God’s call of Abraham–one will remain in confusion and things will not fit. That is why I wrote the article, Why Paul? The answer to that question is the most important question in New Testament studies.

          • Becky says:

            Yes, i very much appreciate all your articles…..and your kind patience. I’ve been listening daily to Les Feldick while I work from home and he has also been extremely helpful. I am in the process of reading carefully through the book of Acts. The one bright spot in this whole “readjustment” is that I never spent a great deal of time in Acts. I tried, many times, but stuff wouldnt “stick.” I am now convinced that it was the Lord “saving” Acts for this time so I could begin studying it without all the preconceived notions or whatever that whole mindset is. Just curious, are you finding a greater “awakening” regarding Paul being the apostle of the Gentiles?

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Becky,
              Thank you. We can only pray for an awakening of Paul’s unique apostleship. Apart from it, the Church will remain weak and confused.

  5. becky says:

    Hi Don,
    Was Peter being premature in Acts 2:16 with the prophecy of Joel – actually, specifically verses 19-20?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Peter expected all of Joel’s prophecy to be fulfilled in short order. And it would have been if Israel had repented.

  6. Kim N. says:

    Hi Don,

    The apostle Paul has been special to me from the beginning of my Christian life; I did not really know why when I was a young believer but when I read his epistles, the truth spoke to me. Now I think I know why, from your fine articles. You are exactly right when you say “Luke’s primary purpose was to record the downfall of Israel.” I totally agree with you. The key verse is Acts 13:46

    The Jews considered themselves unworthy of everlasting life; consequently, the gospel of grace goes to us, Gentiles. I praise the Lord for your ministry and thank you for taking the time to write these helpful articles, clearing up a lot of confusion in Christendom.

  7. John Rodriguez says:

    In verse 38 of chapter 2 the instructions by Peter are very clear with regards to baptism. Why do we baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and not in Jesus name? Is there a difference?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      Nothing in Scripture supports the idea that these phrases were formulaic. They were the same baptism required in the gospel of the kingdom program. The larger question is why anyone in Christendom practices water baptism since Paul wrote Ephesians 4.5.

  8. Abberdeen says:

    Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Abba Father have blessed the Body of Christ excellently with truths separators such as yourself (2 Tim. 2:15). It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit brings certain scripture (s) to one’s memory as He witness to our spirit.
    As I read your discourse above Eph. 2 kept going off in my head concerning the our (gentiles) position before Christ crucified by which came His shed blood, the forgiveness of sin. Whenever the Lord would have me to meditate on this passage of scripture, I almost always thought to myself; yes I may have been able to live being an alien from the commonwealth of Israel and a stranger to the covenant of promise. But I when I consider the ‘without hope and without God in the world’; I shuttered to imagine such a thing. Oh how I bless the Lord for the; But now! But now you have been brought near (made neigh) by the blood of Jesus Christ (immediately I would go to 1Cor. 15: 1-4 and indulge myself of His Grace).
    The separation is so clear of what was revealed to the Apostle Paul for us the Body of Christ, compared to what was given to the twelve for Israel.
    My brother Don; I look forward to reading more of your articles and or commentaries as I recently (this very week) was led of the Spirit to Google; Paul’s Gospel! God Bless you!

    P.S
    Please feel to share and or recommend via this medium and or my email any additional resources which may continue my growth and enlightenment in this Gospel of Grace.

  9. GHCM says:

    Why did God kill Ananias and Sapphira ?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      GHCM,
      What is seen in Acts is the incipient stage of the kingdom of God on earth. In that economy, God will judge sin swiftly (Revelation 2.27, 12.5, 19.15; Isaiah 11). Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about the sale of their property and experienced God’s judgment.

      • GHCM says:

        Thanks for the reply but I still find it very different from the God we know. Are they Jews? were they the only ones being judged by death penalty during that period of time? Have they committed some other sins that we don’t know? Haven’t their sins have been forgiven ?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          GHCM,
          Their sins were forgiven but they were still under the Law. We are under grace. But even then, Paul delivered the sinning believer to Satan for his sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5.1-8). Just because we are forgiven doesn’t mean we are free to sin or that God will not judge it.

          • Mary Johnson says:

            I came across this scripture while studying Annanias and Saphira

            Ezekiel 14

            7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:

            8And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off (destroy him) from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

            9And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

            10And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;

            KJV

            Thank You Love this site by the way.

  10. It is true that Luke records the rejection of the messiah by national Israel but this does not alter the fact that it is a record of the conversion of sinners to be added to the church. Luke 24 records that repentance and remission of sins must be preached among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. Do you think the same message of salvation is relevant to Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Edward,
      The early chapters of Acts present the gospel of the kingdom proclaimed in the gospels. It required faith and works for salvation (Acts 2.36-38; Mark 1.4, 16.16). The content of faith was to believe Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Paul’s gospel, the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4) requires faith alone for salvation. The content of faith is to believe Christ died for one’s sins and rose from the dead. These were two separate gospels. The former ended at the Council of Jerusalem. See my article, The Great Hinge.

  11. I read your article, The Hinge. This is a disturbing accusation that one would think that there are two Gospels that saved people after the Day of Pentecost(Acts 2). In the Book of Jude we see an appeal to the common salvation and the faith once delivered unto the saints.
       I had conversation with certain in Detroit, MI. 15 yrs. Ago who wanted to separate Paul’s teachings from those of the original 12. in other words two separate Gospels?
       Jesus fulfilled the law in the flesh and the advent of Pentecost ushered in a new dispensation. Paul’s preaching in the Book of Acts echoed what the Apostles preached. To say that Paul through God’s direction, changed the Gospel that the 12 and himself originally preached for salvation is a stretch and an agenda. 
      Paul was not the only Apostle to write an epistle. Just because Paul wrote more than the others did not mean he presented another Gospel than he originally preached, even as the 12. 
        I do believe that Paul’s warning in Galatians about perverting the Gospel was directed at changing the foundation of the Apostles, Prophets and Jesus being the chief corner.
         The 15th chapter of Acts was directed to clear the point that Gentiles nor Jews were under the ceremonial law. Not a change of the Gospel. Peter even recalled the event concerning Cornelius and made clear that neither Paul or any of the other Apostles were responsible for Gentile salvation but God ordained it to be done by his mouth. Tempting God by putting a yoke( the law) upon the neck of the disciples which neither their Fathers or them could bear was understood from the beginning of their ministry.
       Therefore when Paul said though we or an angel come unto you and preach anything other than what was delivered from the beginning, let him be accursed and this means Peter’s original message which Paul himself was guilty of preaching.
       The problem with faith plus nothing for salvation is that it divides the message of God.
         Repentance and baptism is not a work of man but a work of God, even the filling of the Spirit. To attribute any of these as the works of man is not a legitimate declaration.
           Acts 11:18 the church at Jerusalem acknowledged by Peter’s testimony that God had granted the Gentiles repentance unto life.
           This concluded the command of Jesus which said to deliver the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to all others( Gentiles) and Peter was present at each instant, Jews Acts 2, Samaritans Acts 8 and Gentiles Acts 10. 
        Therefore I will endeavor to harmonize the teachings of Paul with the teachings of the original 12 Apostles instead of pitting one message against the other. There is not one record of a sinner being converted outside of the Book of Acts and its message in the New Testament Dispensation. Yet in the mouth or record of two or three is a thing established. Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 9, Acts 10, Acts 19, Acts 22  and Acts 26 are accounts of the Gospel message of salvation.
        Any person learned in the scripture will acknowledge that from Romans through Revelations is written to those who are already saved. There is not one record past the Book of Acts of a sinner being converted and the by any other message than the Apostle’s Doctrine. The Epistles of Paul are not an endeavor to explain away how people were saved in Acts or change the Gospel message that has a proven record in many instances, something not seen with the other Gospel that men attributed to Paul unjustly.
       Matthew 19:18 says the 12 Apostles which include Matthias(Acts 1) shall sit on twelve thrones. No mention of Paul. As much prestige as some put upon Paul you would think he would attain to at least one throne. Paul preached the Apostle’s Doctrine which he received from God not of men but it was the same message, not a different Gospel.
        That is my view!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Edward,
      You’re certainly entitled to your view. The Scriptures do not support it. We have way too many verses that indicate salvation before Paul required faith and works. Peter did not tell the Jews at Pentecost to believe that Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead. He told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is a work. The reason Peter did not proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection for sin was he did not know it. He only learned it later from Paul who learned it from the risen Lord. Acts 15 clearly teaches that the Jerusalem church was not preaching Paul’s gospel and that they taught one could not be saved apart from circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law. Church tradition teaches that Peter and Paul preached the same gospel. The Bible does not. Therefore, you have to choose what is true–the Bible or tradition.

  12. DID PAUL PREACH FAITH AND GRACE PLUS NOTHING.
       Below are some of Paul’s writings concerning baptism. If he preached faith plus nothing to these Gentile churches then why does he address baptism so often?
       The 12 Apostles are not responsible for the these Gentile converts to Christianity. Paul established these churches.
    Romans 6:3
    Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
    1 Corinthians 1:13
    Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
    1 Corinthians 1:14
    I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
    1 Corinthians 1:15
    Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
    1 Corinthians 1:16
    And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
    1 Corinthians 10:2
    And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
    1 Corinthians 12:13
    For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    1 Corinthians 15:29
    Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
    Galatians 3:27
    For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
      
      To the Romans Paul declares that all, including himself were baptized into Christ’s death. There is no doubt this meant water baptism! The baptism of the Spirit was for life.
        Then to the Corinthian Church Paul asked is Christ divided and this was settle by their baptism. When he asked in what name they were baptized in everyone knew it was Jesus Christ. He was just settling a a dispute of who they followed and it was settled upon their baptism. Why were any of these Gentiles baptized anyway if Paul was preaching faith plus nothing. Why did Paul associate it with Christ’s death? Jesus  sent Paul to preach the Gospel not to baptize. If baptism is not part of that Gospel then why did he baptize Chrispus, Gaius and Stephanas? Paul was concerned that they would idolize him or another  instead of Christ.
      1 Corinthians 15:29
    Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
       Paul protested that why were they baptized into Christ’s death if the dead rise not and he hazarded his life for that message.
       Paul said he did not frustrate the grace of God, Gal.2:21.
        Paul had just went to Jerusalem to see if he was carrying the right message or maybe he had preached in vain. The Apostles concurred with Paul that none should be compelled to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses. They were on the same page.
      When Paul saw that Peter under peer pressure had dissimilated from eating with the Gentiles he rebuked him sarcastically as trying to persuade them to keep the law as the Jews. Of course God had told Peter that Gentiles were accepted in Acts 10 so he had no issue with mingling with the Gentiles. We can be assured Peter did not dissimulate again.
        Just an assurance that the 12 Apostles believed in grace through faith.
         Their sentence was that they would focus on the Circumcision while Paul focused on the Gentiles with the same message.
           Paul wanted to assure the Gentiles that Christ is no divided. When Peter made the statement that Paul in many of his epistles spoke things hard to be understood that the unlearned sometimes wrestled with to their own destruction. Peter was learned and understood Paul perfectly. They were preachers of the one and only Gospel given for salvation and did not frustrate this as some do today.
      Colossians 2:12
    Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
        Paul wrote this. His faith in the operation of God through water baptism is not just understood, it is declared. Grace is through faith also. Faith is not a dead belief but an operation of God through obedience. Noah found grace and through faith he moved to the saving of 8 souls. We by faith in operation move to the saving of our souls by the grace God gives us. Not our works but the works of God least any man should boast. Repentance and Baptism is not a thing that any man would naturally do for no reason. The reason is God by his grace granted repentance and baptism, something we could not give ourselves, only God would or could perform his operation through it.
         Paul and the 12 Apostles preached the same message to different groups of people, not two different Gospels because even Paul said Christ was not divided.
       

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Edward,
      Please see my article on Baptism. Paul stated Christ did not send him to baptize but to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1.17). God did send John the Baptist to baptize (Mark 1.4, 11.30). Water baptism ended as a Christian practice by the time of Paul’s prison epistles (Ephesians 4.5).

  13. Galatians 1:8
    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    Galatians 1:9
    As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
       I notice Paul said we, not I. He was including the other Apostles because they all preached the same Gospel. We have record in the Book of Acts that Paul was subject to the Gospel that was delivered by the Apostles in Acts 2. His converts were subject to it also. If not Jesus would not have sent Paul to Aninias to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost as well as receiving his sight,Acts9.
       Acts 18, Paul preached to the Gentiles at Corinth and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. Under his preaching to these Gentiles many believed and were baptized. 
       Then Priscilla and Aquilla took Apollos aside because he only knew the baptism of John and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. A reflection of what Paul told certain of John in Acts 19.
       Just to be perfectly clear, I read where you think they were not 
    re-baptised but were baptised in Jesus Name by the Spirit. This is rather interesting since the record says they were baptized in Jesus Name before Paul laid his hands on them and only then were they baptized by the Spirit.
        Now I would like to address IIPeter 3:15-18 Some seem to think that Peter did not understand some things that Paul wrote in some of his epistles. This was not so! The unlearned and unstable wrestled with Paul’s teaching to err from the truth of the one gospel. Peter would not have been so kind to Paul with such love if Paul had sought to change the Gospel put forth under the direction of the Holy Ghost. God gave Peter and the other 11 the same Spirit he did Paul and both have confirmation that they preached the same message and people were added to the church by their ministering. 
       Acts 9:26-28 says after his conversion that he spent time with the Aposles at Jerusalem and Paul was with them going and coming from Jerusalem after he came from Arabia and had preached in Damascus. If not there is a conflict between Gal. 1 and  Acts 9. 
        We notice what he said in conference that the Apostles at Jerusalem added nothing to him yet it does not say he added to them either. Never was there a conflict between them over the Gospel. Just that Paul was effective to the Gentiles even as Peter was to the circumcision. The Apostles at Jerusalem would have never given Paul the right hand of fellowship if his gospel preaching differed from theirs. It is rather intriguing that the Holy Ghost brought to remembrance  to the Apostles all things Jesus taught them and they delivered his Gospel by them after spending over three years with them. It’s a miracle that Jesus gave Paul the same Gospel in Arabia by the Spirit and it agreed with the Apostles Doctrine.
        No! Paul was right and men do err to think Christ is divided on the message to the circumcision and the uncircumcised. The agenda is that men want to deny that Baptism has anything to do with salvation and portray it as works. Also repentance is a work too. It is obedience by faith in the operation of God through grace that he delivered the remedy for us by his Apostles. 
        Now! Beware that Paul’s declaration concerning perverting the(one) gospel message so nothing but faith without any sort of  obedience is required to be saved. It’s a good crowd pleaser but a gamble not worth the taking.
        This is what Paul had a fear of, that wolves would enter not sparing the flock. How could this be if only faith plus nothing saved someone. Even endurance and repentance is not necessary under such a doctrine and surely Paul preached shall we sin that grace may abound, God Forbid!
      James 2:22
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
      How is faith made perfect?
      Romans. 8:. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
        Paul understood and made the above statement about our deeds that would determine whether we live or die. How could he have made such a statement if he taught faith plus nothing saves us. This is where you do err, understanding there is the works of the law and the works of the Spirit which are different.
        He and James were on the same page about perfect faith wrought with good works, not the works of the law of Moses written down but by good works of the Spirit which are not subject to a written law.
        Again, Christ is not divided and if someone says there are two gospels they have perverted the one Gospel spoken of in the Book of Acts that we know Paul and the Apostles delivered to their listeners. Paul even said if he himself preaches something different than he first preached that he was accursed. If Paul had preached a different Gospel from the Apostles he would have plainly declared, “I preach a different gospel than the original 12 Apostles”, instead of leaving it to the devices of interpretation that pervert the gospel. 
       As I said before, if we try to harmonize all the teachings of Paul and the Apostles then we find ourselves in the unity of the faith even as Paul commanded.
       1 Corinthians 1:10
    Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
        I Cor. 3:
      22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
        Paul would have never mentioned Peter(Cephas)to these Gentile converts if they preached different gospels. 
         So search and determine who divideth Christ and is a perverter of the Gospel? 

       

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Edward,
      Paul explicitly stated he received his gospel directly from the risen Lord (Galatians 1.11-12). His use of “we” was an authorial “we.” In Acts 19, v. 5 continues v. 4. There was one water baptism. These men were not rebaptized. Paul gave a history of the experience of these believers. Thus, “And Paul said, John indeed baptized [with] the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on him who was coming after him, that is, on Christ Jesus [and] when they heard were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Thus, Paul was saying that when they heard John’s message they were (had been) baptized. The issue for them when they met Paul was receipt of the Holy Spirit. To accomplish this, Paul laid his hands on them and “baptized” them (v.6). This “baptism” was waterless as is our baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.5). See Galatians 1.18-19 for the disciples Paul met with. One only has to read Acts 15 to understand that there was a terrific battle over the gospel. Until Paul, there was just the gospel of the kingdom. After Paul, there was the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God. This resulted in conflict. After the Council, only Paul’s gospel remained (Acts 15.11; Galatians 1.7-9). Please see my articles, Paul and the Law and Faith vs. Works in James: Resolving the Problem on the role of faith and works and Jesus vs. Paul to see the vast differences in God’s program for Israel vs. God’s program for the Church.

  14. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don, On reading the comments from the above might I ask what Gospel did Peter teach after the Jerusalem Council. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Paul’s gospel was the only valid gospel after the Jerusalem Council. So that was what Peter proclaimed (Acts 15.11).

  15. Vanessa says:

    Ah ha but what did the 12 continue to preach.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      I think the 12 after Acts 15 preached Paul’s gospel. Paul rendered a curse on all who proclaimed a gospel different than his after this (Galatians 1.6-9). These are serious words and still apply today.

      • Mary Johnson says:

        In Jerusalem in Acts 21, the Jewish believers were still all “zealous of the law”, as James was telling Paul and almost accusing him of teaching Jews otherwise. James was obviously still preaching the Kingdom message in Jerusalem even this late date approx 60 AD Then goes on to reiterate from the determination of the Jerusalem Council what was to be taught to the Gentiles.

        James is talking to Paul in these verses.
        Act 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
        Act 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
        Act 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

        Paul must disprove the rumors and Paul still keeps the Law of Moses. (Not for salvation, but to be able to preach to Jews)
        Act 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
        Act 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
        Act 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

        Thank You

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Mary,
          James remained zealous for the Mosaic Law (he apparently never understood Paul’s doctrines) but was not teaching the gospel of the kingdom according to Acts 15. To have continued that gospel would have put him under a curse (Galatians 1.7-9). See my article, The Great Hinge.

          • Bobbi says:

            In the past weeks I’ve done a study on Acts. This chapter 21 really gave me pause, because of Gal. 1:8,9 Why would they be celebrating the law still after the council of Jerusalem? It was clear there was a change in dispensation in the works.
            Also many think James was written first in our New Testament, which would make sense as to his understanding at the time. His account of Abrahams righteousness is clearly from a circumcision (law, works) prospective where Paul’s view is from a promise (faith, Grace) perspective.
            Acts 21 really makes one think! This is a strange account as the law fades away mostly after Acts 20, and the focus is mostly Paul, going to Jews first.
            Very interesting. Looking at the remarks it is great to see that others have the same questions:)

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Bobbi,
              The Law continued to be in effect for Jews saved under the kingdom gospel. The Council of Jerusalem only settled the matter of the gospel, not following the Law by Jewish believers. Paul took the vow and kept the Law to try and bring the Jews in Jerusalem to Christ. He failed. Jesus had told him that they would not listen to him but Paul persisted (Acts 22.18). That was early in his ministry. Perhaps he thought they now would. He loved his countrymen.

              • Bobbi says:

                Yep. Agreed. Though the fact the Lord included Gentiles and Peter’s testimony that they were saved the same way, leads me to wonder. It would have been difficult for the Jews after being under the Law so long having been trained in it from their youth. I love the heart of Paul for his countrymen. It would certainly be humbling to be in his circumstances. Praise God for His strength and Truth! The Lord prevailed and the gospel of Christ that saves made it all the way to us and forever!

  16. It seems to me that you put too much confidence in Acts 15 as a gospel change. First of all the people who came to trouble the Gentiles that Paul had preached to were from Judea. They were not the Apostles. They were a sect of the Pharasees and the Apostles and elders said they went out from them, Acts 15:24.
    Notice it was settled by Peter’s testimony, not Paul’s. Why would Paul carry his grievance to Jerusalem to even be considered if he did not value their council. Paul just told of the miracles and works done among the Gentiles by God under his ministry. Peter was the one who declared that the Jews were saved by faith even as the Gentiles. Acts 15:11. If you read Peter’s statement, he declares that both Jews and Gentiles were saved by the same message, Acts 2 and Acts 10. James then reiterated what Peter had said and gave scripture to back it up. Then he told those who had tried to put a yoke upon the Gentiles that Peter said even the Jewish fathers were unable to bear, not to trouble the Gentiles with it. Then the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem gave their sentence in letters to be delivered to the Gentiles. Paul was not the originator or the first to deliver the Gentiles by a message of faith and grace, it was Peter and James and the elders agreed to that. There is no indication in Acts 15 that the Gospel had changed at all just that when a group of mistaken Jews said the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses arose the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem settled the matter. Nowhere in Acts 15 did Paul give any instructions at all. For you to declare that the gospel was changed here is in this council is a perversion of what happened.
    Paul argued with those who troubled the Gentiles but not one word is mentioned where Paul gave his council to the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem. He only mentions the miracles and wonders done among the Gentiles. Also chosen men from the Apostles and elders were dispached with Paul to carry the letters to the Gentiles with Paul to verify the councils determination lest they might not believe Paul in this matter. This was a letters from the council at Jerusalem, not Paul and for sure the Gentiles waited for the answer and were noted that Paul’s Gospel reflected the Apostles Gospel. One Gospel but there be those that would pervert that!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Edward,
      Those who came to Paul’s converts did so under the authority of the Twelve. If this had not been so the problem would never have reached Paul. The Twelve would have solved the problem without Paul. What you fail to do is to look at the total picture and how different Paul’s doctrines were from Jesus’ earthly ministry which only concerned the Jews. How do you account for the numerous verses which explicitly teach that salvation required works? One has to ignore these or twist them in a way so they do not mean what they say to say that there was only one gospel and that salvation was by faith alone. To accurately interpret the Scriptures requires that one use all of them, not just selected ones. One must also consider the context and understand what the Scriptures do not say as well as what they do. As to your question of why Paul went to Jerusalem, he went because the Lord instructed him to go (Galatians 2.2). Paul stated he presented (ἀνατίθημι) his gospel to them. This makes no sense if they already knew it and were proclaiming it.

  17. Vanessa says:

    Don, The crux of the matter for us has been that Paul was given his Gospel directly from God. There are no grey areas. This says a lot as the Lord did not give it to the 12. Eph 3 verse 1 – 7 nailed it for us. So we asked why did the Lord not give it to the 12. Because Israel did not believe. Yet they would not believe who He was. They were not going to believe what He did. I don’t accept I am accursed by following the Gospel of Grace as I know how many times we have asked the Lord to open up his word for us and oh how many times we have had those “Head Slapping” moments since coming to the understanding of the Gospel of Grace. The Brethren are cruel to each other when trying to force their will onto one another. Thank you for all the many replys and for the time you take for your Brothers and Sisters In Christ. Your gentle words and encouragement can be seen through your writings. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Thank you as always for your kind, encouraging words. Speaking of head slapping moments, can you imagine how many of these Paul had? He must have asked himself a thousand times how he, who had received the best Jewish education possible, who knew the Law and the prophets inside and out, how he could have missed the Messiah, the goal of all his education. These are humblings realizations but whet the spirit to know God better.

  18. Joe says:

    Edward, Vanessa, Doctrine, …anyone out there please answer this question:

    There is a commandment directly from the Lord himself (not a request, suggestion, hope, etc.) in Matthew chapter 10 that expressly directs the 12 not to go to the gentiles. When was that commandment changed, dropped or altered by The Lord so that the 12 could go to gentiles? It is recorded by Paul that the ascended Lord revealed mysteries to him. I’m not aware of any changes to the 12’s protocol. Otherwise why would Peter be so confused or unable to comprehend what Paul was teaching? (II Peter 3:16)

    thank you

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      The Lord told the Twelve to go to Gentiles in Matthew 28.19-20. However, this evangelism was predicated on Israel’s repentance. The OT prophetic program foretold Israel would bless the nations in the kingdom (Zechariah 8.20-23). Compare Acts 1.8 with Acts 8.1. The reason the 12 stayed in Jerusalem was because it was the first in the list which needed to repent. After it became clear Israel would not repent, God commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). Paul and Peter agreed that the former would go to Gentiles and the latter to Jews (Galatians 2.7-9). The Jews were supposed to go to Gentiles but because the would not repent, they lost that opportunity. They will have it again in the kingdom. Paul’s teachings remained difficult for Peter for they set aside Israel (temporarily) for the Church, the body of Christ. God had dealt with Israel for 2,000 years. Now He was doing something different. After you have 2,000 years in following one program it’s hard to comprehend or change to another.

  19. Vanessa says:

    Hello Joe, My husband and I are very new to the Gospel of Grace as we were once under the Hybrid Gospel mixing law with Grace. Cherry picking scriptures to suit ourselves. You have a very valid question which I am also trying to establish in my broader way of thinking. If the 12 did in fact preach the Grace gospel what was the point of calling Paul. Matthew 10 verse 5. These 12 Jesus sent forth commanding them to not go into the way of the Gentiles. So I can but only assume Matthew 28 was telling them to go into the Jewish world. The kingdom Gospel had to be preached to the Jews but we know they rejected it. But now if the 12 were still preaching the Kingdom Gospel and not Pauls Gospel do we say they are accursed. This is where the rubber hits the road for me. AND I am still searching and the Lord will show me.

  20. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don and Joe, This is how I see things.
    Paul’s reference that the Corinthians easily put up with someone else teaching them about “another Jesus” appears to be another reference, similar to Galatians ch. 2, where Paul believes the true 12 apostles were teaching about “Jesus,” but that Jesus was distinct from the one whom Paul was teaching about. Jesus of Nazareth is not the same as Christ the Risen lord and here is where I was shaken. If I am wrong please guide me with scripture.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Another interesting passage is 2 Corinthians 5.16. Paul preached the risen, glorified Lord, not Jesus in His earthly ministry.

  21. Vanessa says:

    Don, Thank you for reminding me of that scripture. The pieces are being placed before us and we have begun to absolutely see that there are major blaring differences between the 12 and Paul. One cannot ignore this.

  22. Joe says:

    The book of James may have been the first new testament epistle actually penned but it may not make any difference re: my observation.

    James says right there in the first few verses to whom the letter is sent/restricted. This is the book, by the way, where the “faith w/o works” crowd gets their ammunition.

    Again the commandment to go to the lost sheep of the house Israel (Matthew 10) continues as late as 45 AD (more or less). I’m wondering how much the 12 new about Paul by the time of the writing of this letter by James. (this James was the brother of Jesus himself, correct?)

  23. Joe says:

    From above the phrase “faith w/o works” should have continued… “is dead”. I believe Paul actually taught “faith without works”. James says faith without works is dead. In a way I can buy that. Though it’s a dead faith it’s still faith. There may be many Christians who are living a dead Christian life yet they are believers….spiritually dead believers. Like a car battery. Completely depleted (dead) but still good if charged. I remember a preacher in Houston who taught I Jn 1:9 over and over. (called it rebound). A Christian who sinned had to confess his sin to be made spiritually alive again. Other wise they were ‘carnal’ or spiritually dead. Once the sin was confessed the sin was forgiven and the Christian ‘rebounded’ to fellowship. ….the problem I had with that is that I believe all sin is forgiven the moment we believe in Paul’s gospel. Am I wrong?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Bob Thieme did not understand the distinctive ministry of Paul. 1 John 1.9 does not apply to the believer of Paul’s gospel. Paul never used this language. He told believers who sinned to repent. Paul declared all our sins have been forgiven.

      • Joe says:

        I agree that Thieme was wrong but try telling that to one of his true believers. My spirit spoke to me regularly as I languished in his teachings. The longer I stayed with his teachings the ‘curiouser and curiouser’ it got primarily with his language. Though he was right on so many points I’m glad to learn that I was correct on this one teaching as I assumed. It’s sad that there are many who remain mesmerized under his umbrella. He’s still on the radio every Sunday morning here as he has been for decades. I admit I learned a lot from him and I owe much to him so I won’t disparage him.

      • Joe says:

        I listened to hundreds of hours of his tapes. I think he once said the forgiveness applied to the sins up to the Crucifixion but not after. Originally I was impressed with his dogmatism. Eventually I had problems with his constant ‘corrections’ to scripture. I think he passed away with a form of dementia. His son now leads the church. The church used to stand pretty much in the shadow of the Galleria shopping mall on Alabama St. A rather unflattering book was written about him. I think he was basically a good man. I believe his ‘bread on the waters’ brought about people like Hal Lindsay and Maybe Chuck Swendol…..and maybe you.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Joe,
          I listened to hundreds of hours of Bob also. I view him a great, flawed man. He labored tremendously but went off into the thules (as he used to say) in some areas. He did great good and great harm. Unfortunately, with all his study he never came to understand the significance of Paul’s unique ministry and his secrets. Sadly, with all his brilliance, he died with alzheimer’s. He is now with the Lord where all is sound.

  24. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don, One of our questions were answered this week and I want to share it with you and maybe some others who may have the same question. Did the 12 preach the Kingdom Gospel and if so were they accursed. Please remember this si not our writings but from a precious brother in the states. The answer made such sense. Its long so please forgive me.
    The Bible speaks of 3 different time periods: time past, but now, ages to come: Ephesians 2:7, 11, 14. The Twelve preached the gospel of the kingdom in time past, as they will in the ages to come. Time past was a different dispensation … Israel, under the law. Today, in the dispensation of grace, we are not Israel & we are not under the law, we are under grace (Rom. 6:14). Read Acts 15 & Galatians 2 in your King James Bible. This was the council at Jerusalem, where Paul settled this “issue” with the “time past” circumcision apostles. Many Christian churches disregard this truth!

    Galatians 2:6-9 (KJV) 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 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.

    Until this acknowledgment, there were two gospels being preached in the early to mid-Acts period: Rom. 16:7; Rom. 15:20. Paul took James, Cephas (Peter), & John (the “time past” circumcision apostles under the law), & convinced them of the dispensational change. They who were the pillars in time past (Mat. 18:18), recognized & publicly endorsed Paul’s revelations & ministry from the “ascended” Lord. This is why Paul publicly rebukes Peter in
    Gal. 2:11-18, for not keeping up with the dispensational change in God’s dealings with the world. Read 2Peter 3:15, 16. Evidently, Peter did not hold a grudge against Paul.

    So then, the curse mentioned in Gal. 1:6-9 is Paul talking about people who still want to say that salvation comes by keeping the law : Gal. 3:1-3.
    We call these people Judaisers, the ones who think their law, their works, religion, traditions, etc. will gain favor with God: Col. 2:13-23; 1Tim. 1:5-11; Mat. 15:14, Mat. 23:1-33.
    Galatians 3:13 (KJV) 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

    Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works (law), lest any man should boast.
    Ephesians 3:1-9 (KJV) 1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
    So Paul instructs us, that during the time period of the dispensation of the grace of God, if any man preach any other gospel let him be accursed. Once The Twelve had full knowledge of the dispensational change, which they learned from Paul, they no longer taught the kingdom gospel, but ministered to the kingdom saints who had been awaiting Christ’s return and their kingdom. These people had sold all they had and were living communally, so needed help now to continue living in this present evil world. That is why Paul takes up offerings “for the poor saints in Jerusalem.” In 2 Pet 1:12, Peter tells the little flock to be established in the present truth. And what is this truth? II Pet 3:15-18.

    In Acts 15, James (brother of Jesus) quotes Scripture, and we see that he now knows Paul’s message, that God is visiting the Gentiles. He’s telling the Jews they’ve been set aside before, and now have been set aside again, but after this Christ will return and build again the tabernacle of David.

    So we see that The Twelve, & James, are no longer preaching “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” No, now they are still preaching to Israel, but that the dispensation has changed, listen to Paul’s message, and the kingdom will come some day, but not now. Thank you and take care.

  25. Joe says:

    Vanessa, I have a small book that addresses this concern of yours. Maybe you can find a copy….”Why so Many Churches”.

  26. Joe says:

    Vanessa, here is some info on the book mentioned above.

    Author: Rev. Noah Hutchings

    After serving in churches for many years, Noah Hutchings became interested in why those who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord believe differently on hundreds of doctrinal issues, when it is so obvious that all cannot be right.

    After an appraisal of the entire spectrum of denominational differences, the author reduces the many ecclesiastical variances to one common denominator: the Gospel of the Kingdom committed to Peter to preach to the Circumcision (Israel) and the Gospel of sovereign Grace committed to the Uncircumcision (Gentiles).

    If you have ever wondered why there are so many denominations, sects, and cults, and why church memberships cannot agree on even simple doctrines like baptism, then you will want to read and study this book. This book is also used in seminaries, and thousands have been published.

  27. Vanessa says:

    Hello Joe, I am so grateful for your input. I shall try and get my hands on a copy but living in South Africa often has its own challenges in obtaining good reading material, but thank goodness for Amazon. The only Christian???? book shops sell everything other than the truth. Most of the books on the shelves are from TBN preachers??? and new age. Vernon and I are really so blessed to have been gently guided to the Gospel of Grace in the last days. The Lord has been lovingly kind to us and we recognise and praise our Lord for this. Our hearts are forever grateful and full of love for the Lord and our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Thank you Joe.

  28. Vanessa says:

    Hello Joe Again,
    I have ordered the book. I knew of Noah but have never read or listened to any of his teachings till tonight. He believes that when Jesus said that the Gospel will be preached to all the world then the end will come is for now. I dont agree. Its a petty disagreement I know but…..anyway again thank you for that info.

  29. Tommy says:

    Hey Don
    You said that “Peter addressed Jews only, no Gentiles. His message was exclusively to Israel”. How do you explain Act 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
    Act 2:6
    Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
    Act 2:7
    And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
    Act 2:8
    And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
    Act 2:9
    Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
    Act 2:10
    Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
    Act 2:11
    Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
    It seems to me there were more than just Jews there that Peter was preaching to besides the men of Judaea and Jerusalem vs. 14. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tommy,
      Read Acts 2 again,especially verses 14, 22, 29, 36, 39.

      • Tommy says:

        Just checking you out brother, Act 2:5 ,,,Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. One other question if I may, Act 2:3
        And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them..I don’t know what a cloven tongue like fire is and what ever it is, it sat upon them. Is this speaking of the Holy Ghost in vs.4

  30. Roger Spielmann says:

    Interesting discussion. I’m sure you’re aware of the many places in Acts where the author clearly contradicts what Paul writes in his letters. For example, the author of Acts tells us that Paul quickly aligned himself with the 12 , was baptized, preached and then headed up to Jerusalem. But that’s not what Paul said happened. In his letter to the Galatians he says the opposite. He’s quite clear in saying that he did NOT confer with any other human being (Gal. 1:16). Further, there is no mention of Ananius and he makes no mention of having disciples. He emphasizes that he did NOT go to Jerusalem to confer with the 12 but instead he writes that, after his vision of Christ, he immediately went away into Arabia (Gal. 1:17). Finally, Paul tells us that he waited three years to meet with Peter, and then only for a couple of weeks.

    And that is but one contradiction of many (which I have found but am not including in this post — it would make it way too long!) So what I am finding is that the author of Acts presents Paul in a different way than Paul presents himself in his letters; not just on one occasion, but many, many times.

    Whom are we to believe?

    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      You’ve misread Acts. Please read again. Acts was written by Luke, Paul’s personal physician and constant companion. Contradictory accounts are not found in Acts vs. Paul’s letters.

  31. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. Still, I was hoping that you would help me reconcile these rather obvious discrepancies. Perhaps just one will suffice (although I’m finding tons of them while comparing Acts and Paul’s letters.) Here it is:

    In Galatians 1:16-17, Paul clearly states that he did NOT go to Jerusalem after his “Vision of Christ.” But in Acts 9:26-27, Luke reports that Paul IMMEDIATELY went to Jerusalem following his vision. Which is it?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Read the account again. There is no “immediately” in Acts 9. Rather, it reads that “many days” passed before Paul went to Jerusalem (Acts 9.23). Those “many days” were the three years Paul spent in Damascus and Arabia before he traveled to Jerusalem.

  32. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. What I was trying to point out is the discrepancy between what Acts said Paul did and what Paul said that he did. In Acts 9:23 Luke writes that Paul stayed “many days,” which you believe means three years (?), in Damascus. Paul, however, writes that he “immediately went away into Arabia” (Gal. 1:17).

    Perhaps another example shows more clearly the differences between the account of Paul in Acts with what Paul himself wrote. In Acts 24:14 Luke has Paul defending himself by saying, “I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the Law and written in the Prophets.” But in his letter to the Philippians he counted his former life in Judaism as “rubbish” (Phil. 3:8) and spends most of his letter to the Galatians denouncing Torah observance and Judaism. Who is telling the truth about Paul? Luke or Paul himself?

    BTW I really like the way this site is set up. Very easy-to-use and follow.

    Have you written anything on the issue of inerrancy? I’d consider it a privilege to have some back-and-forth on the subject.

    Thank you again for responding.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Paul is unclear how much time he spent in Damascus and how much time he spent in Arabia. All we know is that between these two, three years went by. After that he went to Jerusalem. No discrepancy exists between Acts 24.14 and Philippians 3.8. Paul wrote in Romans 7.12 that he Law was holy, righteous, and good. The problem was twofold: 1) the Jews abused the Law and 2) the Galatians were trying to gain sanctification by following the Law. Paul counted his former life in Judaism as rubbish because he had not understood the Law and had abused it (read what he wrote in Romans 10). Being under the administration of grace is far superior than Law. Comparatively, Law is “weak” because of the “flesh” (see Romans 7). See my article, Inspiration of Scripture for inerrancy.

  33. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your response. I’m trying hard to get this right. So here goes.

    As we’ve touched upon in other posts, at times it seems that the way Luke presents Paul differs considerably from Paul’s writings about himself. I’m finding a lot of this when comparing Acts with Paul’s letters. Another example comes to mind: Paul writes that he refused to circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3). He indicates quite clearly that he didn’t want anyone to think that one must be circumcised merely to appease those who believed that circumcision was necessary for right standing before God. But Luke reports that Paul had Timothy circumcised for just this reason – to placate the Jewish Christians (Acts 16). And Paul is, understandably, silent on the matter of Timothy’s circumcision. So Luke has Paul circumcising Timothy, which goes against Paul’s understanding of the gospel. What gives?

    I think our conversation may be grounded in different views of inerrancy, which is why I asked earlier if you have written an article about it. Could you (briefly) summarize what is meant by “inerrancy” by orthodox Christians?

    Thank you for reading my post.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Inerrancy means the autographs were without error. They were God-breathed. Paul sometimes accommodated Jewish views. His main point was that there is not obligation to do so. He did it because of his love for them. Paul’s letters are doctrinal books. Acts is not a doctrinal book. It is history.

    • Nathanael Leiws says:

      The answer to this particular ‘contradiction’ is simple. Paul retained a belief in and obedience to the Law. The reason why he refused to circumcise Titus because Titus was a Gentile. Timothy, however, was a Jew under Jewish law, since his mother was a Jew. However, he had not been circumcised and so Paul did with Timothy what Joshua did with the Israelites before the battle of Jericho – he had all those who were Jews but where the parents had failed to obey the law, and circumcised them. Paul did this in Acts 16, AFTER the council of Jerusalem, showing that ‘Doctrine’s’ interpretation is completely off wack.

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        Nathanael,
        Your comment reveals an ignorance of Paul’s doctrines and motivations. No contradiction exists as to why Paul circumcised Timothy but not Titus. Paul explicitly declared that believers of his gospel were are not under the administration of the Mosaic Law. He wrote the entire book of Galatians to hammer home the point that believers are free from the Mosaic Law (Galatians 5.1). Paul circumcised Timothy to accommodate the Jews, not from obligation or for any doctrinal reason. Luke wrote Acts from a Jewish perspective to explain to Jews how and why Israel had fallen from God’s favor and why the kingdom of God had not come. Paul conceded to aspects of the Law for himself or others to win Jewish believers (1 Corinthians 9.19-23). He didn’t circumcise Titus because of the doctrinal issue involved with Gentiles and the Mosaic Law which led to the Jerusalem Council. Paul’s circumcision of Timothy had nothing to do with Joshua’s actions. It had everything to do with loving Jews and desiring their salvation.

        • Roger Spielmann says:

          I keep being drawn back to the Book of Acts and how contradictory it seems in places. In Acts 19, for example, Luke tells of Paul’s conversion (in the 3rd person), and then in Acts 26 Luke includes Paul’s 1st person account of his conversion. In the first account, those with Paul heard a voice but saw nothing. But in the second account, presumably in Paul’s own words, those with him fell to the ground for some reason (seeing a blinding light?). Whatever, there is a reason they fell to the ground. Further, in Paul’s account it was only he that heard a voice, not those with him.

          The list of these kinds of discrepancies is a long one in the Book of Acts and I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation for them. To keep this post relatively short, how do you explain the differences in these two account?

          Thank you.

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            Roger,
            Acts 26 states Paul heard a voice speaking to him. Acts 9 states Paul heard a voice speaking to him and that they others heard it too but saw no one. Acts 26 states the risen Lord appeared to Paul and Acts 9 implies it. Where’s the contradiction? Some have written of supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of these are by individuals who have no expertise in the Bible. Such alleged errors have been answered many times. Critics can accept or reject the answers but no one can complain they have not been answered.

            • Roger Spielmann says:

              Thanks for your response. You wrote, “Some have written of supposed contradictions in the Bible. Most of these are by individuals who have no expertise in the Bible. Such alleged errors have been answered many times. Critics can accept or reject the answers but no one can complain they have not been answered.”

              A couple of issues here. First, you wrote, “Most of these are by individuals who have no expertise in the Bible.” I don’t understand why you would write that when you know it’s not true. Would you like to revise that comment or expand on it?

              Second, when you wrote “Such alleged errors have been answered many times. Critics can accept or reject the answers but no one can complain they have not been answered.” True, many have attempted to provide answers for biblical discrepancies, but that does not a priori mean that those answers are satisfying or that they make sense. I think the problem is that if one believes the Bible *cannot* contain discrepancies, then one *must* come up with at least some kind of answer to apparent contradictions. Whether the answers offered are scholarly and make sense is a completely different issue, wouldn’t you agree?

              As one of hundreds of examples, in Matthew 16:11-12, the author has Jesus saying that his disciples should ignore the teachings of the Pharisees. But in Matt. 23:2-3 he has Jesus saying the opposite: “Do everything the Pharisees teach you.”

              This is your site and I get it that you want to promote a specific agenda for your readers. But in your post you say things (that I can’t help but assume) that are quite misleading and seemingly just not true (e.g. “Most of these are by individuals who have no expertise in the Bible.”).

              What gives?

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                Roger,
                Perhaps better said is that most alleged discrepancies have such easy explanations that one wonders the motivation of the one making them. It seems that in many of the cases the desire is to try and find errors rather than explanations. Why would one do this? Either one is ignorant or unskilled in the Scriptures or has a grudge against God. Such writers are not without an agenda. If they are wrong things will turn out badly for them. In the case of Matthew 16.11-12 and Matthew 23.2-3, verse 3 of the latter passage explains Jesus’ instructions in the former verses. The latter passage continues with specific examples of what Jesus meant. The instruction was to follow the scribes and Pharisees as they taught and followed the Mosaic Law but to avoid their hypocrisy. Jesus ascribed authority for the scribes and Pharisees on the basis that they “occupied Moses’ seat,” i.e., his authority.

  34. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thank you for your post. You wrote, “Paul sometimes accommodated Jewish views.” That doesn’t sound like the Paul who wrote to the Galatians. Did his thinking evolve from the time of his conversion to the writing of Galatians? I just can’t see Paul accommodating anything Jewish. Is it possible that he initially thought it might be good to accommodate Jewish Christians and then later changed his mind to a more hardline position? Reading Galatians and Philippians would seem to indicate that he must have, but I’d like to hear your take on this.

    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      See 1 Corinthians 9.19-23.

      • Roger Spielmann says:

        I just came across this response and read I Cor. 9:19-23. I still don’t get it. He writes, “To those under the law I became like one under the law…so as to win those under the law” (vs. 20). Then he writes, “I have become all things to all people” (vs. 22). When one compares what he wrote here with his stance against the law in Galatians 3, there seems to be a disconnect.

        My questions are: (1) Was Paul merely *pretending* to be under the law when preaching to those who considered themselves under the law? If so, isn’t that deceptive? And (2) Are Christians being taught that they should be all things to all people? I’m not even sure what that means, but it sounds like deception. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Roger,
          Paul wrote believers are not under that administration of the Law. Paul placed himself under the Law of his free will to win Jews to Christ. His motivation was love, not obligation or necessity. For example, he circumcised Timothy and later accommodated James (Acts 21.23-26). The governing principle for Paul was love. The believer is free from the Law and other obligations (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8) but may place himself under certain restrictions so as to not offend others.

        • Faith says:

          Roger it would be the same if I went to be a missionary to Muslims (lets say in Sudan). I would not go in wearing my sport leggings or pants. I would not partake in alcohol and other non-muslim activities so as to not offend and win them to Christ. Like Doctrine said -Paul did this of his own free will and to show Christ’s love.

          I love this verse because it is a selfless act of Pauls to freely go anywhere to reach others for Jesus Christ. We are also free from the law and in that we are free to go in any culture to win souls. Before, you could only reach those within the Jewish culture.

          • Roger Spielmann says:

            Good post, Faith. Still, your response raises interesting questions. Using your example of being a missionary to Muslims in Sudan, how far would you go with this? Would you worship with them in the mosque? Would you respect the teachings in the Qur’an? What might Paul; have done as a missionary to Muslims? As Doctrine wrote, “Paul placed himself under the Law of his free will to win Jews to Christ.” Would you place yourself under Sharia Law in order to win Muslims? Would Paul?

            Just wondering.

            • Faith says:

              Not at all- nor would Muslims expect me to worship in the Mosque as that would be offensive to them, me being a Christian;- unless then if I would deny Christ and become a Muslim then that would defeat the purpose of me winning them to Christ, now then would it not?

              • Faith says:

                I think one needs to look at common sense when it comes to what Paul wrote here. He did not state one has to become Jewish or a Barbarian; he was willing to become like a Jew or Barbarian. He was not going to partake in anything that was against his faith, like participating in any evil acts or idol worship. This would be against the Holy Spirit working in him, we he could not do. He was talking about their ways or customs. If you remember, (I think in Corinthians) he told the women to cover their heads because of the cultural norms of the day. He asked them to do this so as not to offend.

              • Roger Spielmann says:

                Nice to interact with you, Faith. You make a good point. I still wonder, though, how far Paul would go (and went) to win people to Christ. If you were ministering to Muslims, would you be willing to submit to Sharia Law to win them? Wear a burkha and so on? What are the limits of “becoming” like” a people in order to win them? As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 9, “To those under the [Jewish] Law I became like one under the Law” (vs. 20). Was Paul serious? Would you, too, be willing to become like one under [Sharia] Law so as to win them? If so, I don’t see the difference between him putting himself under Jewish Law and one putting oneself under Sharia Law. Perhaps Doctrine will help us out here!

                • doctrine doctrine says:

                  Roger,
                  This I see as a judgment/conscious call and it will vary from one individual to another. It’s a matter of tolerance, sensitivity, etc. However, there is a major difference between the Mosaic Law and Sharia Law. The former came from God; the latter did not.

            • Faith says:

              Like Doctrine stated here but I would go a step further. Do you believe Roger that the Holy Spirit lives within each and every believer of Jesus Christ? If you do then there was no worry for Paul or any of us to know how effectively to win souls to Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and direction on what would be appropriate or not. Paul was not bound to the ordinary constraints of the world,
              ; he was a slave to Christ. Just like Abraham, Paul trusted and believed in God to take him where he needed to go; trusted in using him in the right situations; trusted in God to give him the right words to say. I can even vouch for this in my own life- I don’t worry as much anymore how and when God wants to use me or what I need to say; or how I need to act in a certain culture. The Holy Spirit always gives me the right direction; this is why I think Paul baffled so many- he was that free; there were no constraints because he knew of the Holy Spirits power to give the believer everything he or she needed other the law, which was limited.

  35. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don, As the year draws to an end we reflect on our walk with the Lord and I am reminded of you. How the Lord lead us to your wonderful site and how God has richly granted you such a gift with your writing technique. We have watched many on your site come alive withe the truth and have had great joy for them. Yes there have been a few who could not see the truth sadly, but we pray that they will to come to the knowledge. Thank you for always be there for all of us all who log onto your site. May you be blessed in 2016 in all what you do and until we meet again thank you Don for showing kindness and love to those you call your Brethren. 2015 was a wonderful year for us as God took us from the darkness of mixing law and Grace to by Grace alone. Our lives have been changed forever and our knowledge increases in leaps and bounds when now reading the word. Oh what a joy it gives us. XXX Vernon and Vanessa

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa and Vernon,
      Thank you for your gracious words. Such testimony makes all I do worthwhile. We have a great God who wishes us to understand Him and His plan. The more we do the more awesome He becomes (Ephesians 1.15-23).

  36. E. Johnson says:

    The problem with this assessment of the book of Acts is that it is skewed by the author’s attempt to fit it into his own theological concept of God and salvation as dictated by the creeds and or other extra-biblical allegiances he is bound to.
    No where else in literature is text treated like some, plagued with the same dilemma as the writer of this article, treat the Book of Acts.

    The book of Acts is not merely a bridge between the gospels and the epistles of Paul, rather it is the fundamental message replete with unmistakably clear examples of what God actually expects people desiring his salvation to do, hence it’s appropriate name, Acts.

    The epistles, just as anointed by God, serve as cliff notes, further expanding upon the message aspects of the message of salvation, and other aspects of Christian living introduced in the book of Acts. The epistle writers add deeper explanations to the fundamental truths that we see physically carried out in Acts and never contradict, nor replace. This common sense and accurate view can only be gained when one approaches the word of God without synthetically imposed understandings skewing it’s comprehension.

    The first clue that the author’s view has been seriously compromised is when he states the the word does not mean what it is saying. I.e. Peter, in Acts 2:38, doesn’t really mean that one has to Repent of their sins, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins. The author prefers to subordinate these clear instructions given to perhaps the most guilt-ridden audience of all times, to his understanding of the epistle of Romans where the statement to a church, already saved, mentions that believing on The Lord brings salvation.
    What the author has failed to do is to reconcile these to points that are not at all, in the least bit, contradictory as before one will accept to Repent and be baptized in Jesus name, the prerequisite of “believing” almost goes without saying. Thus, in the most simplest, basic understanding that even a child could comprehend, the word is consistent. Acts shows us how God wants it to look and the epistles give us the deeper logical backing for the actions.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      E. Johnson,
      I do not understand your complaint. Do you think to become a Christian means one has to repent and be baptized? Do you think salvation requires works?

  37. Roger Spielmann says:

    I’m still not getting it when it comes to the two Matthew passages. You write, “In the case of Matthew 16.11-12 and Matthew 23.2-3, verse 3 of the latter passage explains Jesus’ instructions in the former verses.” I don’t find an answer to the question in that. It seems quite clear that both passages are referring to the *teachings* of the Pharisees; Matt. 16 has Jesus saying *not* to follow the teachings of the Pharisees and Matt. 23 has Jesus saying *to* follow the teachings of the Pharisees. The conclusion is the same: don’t behave as they behave. But a careful reading of the two passages seems to me to be contradictory. Am I missing something?

    After your earlier post I find myself asking (myself): Why do I care about something like this? Do I have an agenda? I don’t *think* so (other than wanting to know), but then the question is: Why ask Doctrine about this? Why do I *care*? I really had to examine my motive(s).

    One reason is that I consider you to be one of the best Biblical apologists that I’ve encountered. You’ve influenced my thinking over the past couple of years and, although we still have differences of thinking about lots of stuff, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. The saying that “iron sharpens iron” comes to mind. I find the dialogue fascinating and uplifting. And you haven’t blocked me from the site yet(!), so I find that encouraging.

    Thanks for your interaction.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees–their teachings in Matthew 16. Jesus explained more fully what He meant by the “teachings” in His statement in Matthew 23. Leaven is used the Scripture in a bad sense. Leaven permeates and affects the whole. So the scribes and Pharisees had perverted Moses. Jesus gave a series of harsh denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees in the remainder of Matthew 23. Here’s the thing. I approach the Scriptures just like a scientist approaches the natural world. I make the assumption that the Scriptures are inerrant just like a scientist makes the assumption the natural world is governed by ordered processes. The God who created the universe wrote the Scriptures. There my be things I do not understand or do not make sense in the natural world. For example, Newton’s laws work fine up to a degree but fail at very large scales, hence, Einstein and later, quantum mechanics. I do not conclude from this that the natural world is irrational or unknowable. It is just I don’t understand it. In the same way, if something is unclear in the Bible, I do not conclude it is erroneous. It means there is an explanation but I don’t perhaps see it. My quarrel is with those who say that the Bible is contradictitory and full of discrepancies. That is the thrust of my earlier comment. To my mind, they are like a scientist who see something he doesn’t like or understand in the physical world and concludes the universe is irrational. Hope this makes sense.

  38. Roger Spielmann says:

    Thanks again for your response. It may be that we’re looking at this from different angles. You write, “My quarrel is with those who say that the Bible is contradictory and full of discrepancies.” But, as I recall, you’ve said in other forums that it ought not shake one’s faith to see variants in the copies of the originals or in translations. That’s what interests me and people like Daniel Wallace: to do the necessary textual research to determine how close we can get to the originals, right? In so doing, as Wallace attests, we *do* find not only variants but copyist errors and poor translations into other languages. But the textual critics are getting closer and closer, wouldn’t you agree? In an earlier post you encouraged scholars with a knack for languages and the proper training to engage in such research. That makes sense to me. So one really has nothing to fret about with variants and apparent contradictions in the copies or in translations. Even those scholars with a liberal bent are sincerely interested in getting as close as possible to the original texts. That’s just how research works: doing the analysis and presenting the results in public forums (peer-reviewed articles and books). So to say that your quarrel is with those who say the Bible has inconsistencies, variants and discrepancies doesn’t ring true. My guess is that you mean your quarrel is with those scholars who find these kinds of things and then extrapolate from the study of the copies and translations to undermine the validity of the Bible. Is that closer to what you meant?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Variant texts are a different subject than the issue your raised regarding Matthew 16 and 23. Discrepancies in the Scriptures due to copiest errors are recognized by all. Copyist errors are so minimal they pose no issue for any Christian doctrine. The percentage of difference between the critical text and received test is only 1-2%. I respect the work of Dan Wallace. His research may lead to a more confident understanding of a passage but it will not change any doctrine. We have far too much evidence in copies for that to happen.

  39. Pete says:

    I have been so enlightened by your articles and have found an excitement in studying scripture that I’ve not known before. In your closing statement about Acts, you relate the final failure of the Jews to accept Paul’s message but you close with Acts. 28 vs. 29. The next verses 30 and 31 though indicate the next two years was spent “preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” I guess my thinking had been that he ceased teaching the kingdom gospel but that does not appear to have happened. What am I missing?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Pete,
      Thank you. Acts has a Jewish slant to it since it was written primarily to explain to Jews why the kingdom of God did not come. He was clearly not teaching the kingdom gospel, however, for that ended in Acts 15.11 (cf. Galatians 1.6-9). We read in Acts 17.30, 26.20 of Paul proclaiming repentance but we do not find this in his letters (except Romans 2.4). Paul wrote Hebrews and used different language in writing Jews than when addressing Gentiles. When Paul used the phrase “kingdom of God” in his letters, it referred to the realm over which God reigns. See https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/search.cfm?Criteria=Kingdom+of+God&t=KJV&csr=12#s=s_primary_0_1.

  40. Mike says:

    Thank you for your ministry, it has been life changing for me. You quoted Acts 11:19 above about the dispersed Jews taking the gospel message to Jews only, but Acts 11:20 says some took it to the gentiles and they believed. I assume that was the Kingdom gospel message that was given to some gentiles, but I thought that was started by Paul. Again, thank you so much for your teaching, I have learned how to study the Bible in a much clearer way.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mike,
      Those saved in Acts 11.20 were Gentiles who believed the kingdom gospel. Remember, Cornelius was a Gentile, saved through Peter’s preaching. But all this came about after Paul’s conversion as the apostle of the Gentiles. Notice too that immediately after this occurred, Barnabas went to seek Paul.

  41. Vanessa says:

    Hi Don, The fact that Cornelius was a Gentile how then did the Jews accept him into their community.

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