Why Paul?

Introduction

This two word question is the most important question in New Testament studies. It is not an overstatement to say that without a correct answer to this question little can be understood of Christianity. The whole doctrine of ecclesiology, God’s creation of the Church, the body of Christ, rests in the balance of this question. In terms of Biblical revelation, it ranks in importance with God’s call of Abraham and the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The vast majority in Christendom view Paul simply as an extension of the Twelve. Some have gone so far as to say that Peter and the other apostles were wrong to choose Matthias to replace Judas–they should have waited for Paul to fill the vacancy left by Judas. They view Paul as the legitimate 12th apostle. The problem with a view is that the Biblical record does not support it.

Jesus’ Earthly Ministry and the Twelve

The Lord Jesus Christ came to present Himself as the Messiah-King to Israel. The Scriptures reveal detailed information about the events surrounding His birth and these provide the meaning of His ministry. The angel declared to Mary:

30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32He 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; 33and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1.30-33).

The angel’s announcement fulfilled what the prophets had foretold for hundreds of years. The Jews longed for a righteous king to deliver them from the heel of Gentile domination and to give them a kingdom. This king and kingdom would fulfill Moses’ prophecy and God’s promise that Israel would be “the head and not the tail” (Deuteronomy 28.13). Mary responded to this glorious news in what is called the Magnificat:

46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.
50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.
53 “He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1.46-55).

Everything in Mary’s exaltation recalled the covenant promises God had made with the nation of Israel since God had called Abraham. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, made a similar declaration following the birth of his son:

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant—
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1.67-79).

The emphasis of these declarations was upon God’s covenant and prophetic promises to national ISRAEL. The long anticipated KING and KINGDOM were finally at hand. This was understood fully by the prophet John the Baptist in his message to the nation. Matthew recorded:

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3.1-2).

The Lord Himself proclaimed this message:

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4.12-17).

One thing worth notice in these passages is that little is mentioned in reference to  salvation from sin. At first blush this may be surprising. But upon reflection it is not. While hundreds of passages in the Old Testament declared God’s establishment of His kingdom for Israel only one passage spoke of how He would deal with sin–and it was not understood. This was Isaiah 53:

4  Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Isaiah 53.4-6).

. . .

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors (Isaiah 53.12).

The focus of Jesus’ ministry was the nation of Israel (Romans 15.8). He commanded His disciples not to go to Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-7). He Himself had no dealings with them except for His encounter with the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15.21-28; Mark 7.24-30) and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8.5-13; Luke 7.1-10).1

God’s Prophetic Plan

A reasonable question to raise is why Jesus did not minister to Gentiles and ordered His disciples to avoid them. For 2,000 years God dealt with the human race as a whole. However, in 2,000 B.C., following the Flood and the Tower of Babel, God began a new plan. God created a new race of people through whom He determined to reveal Himself: the Jews. God initiated this plan with His call of Abram. Abraham became the progenitor of the Jewish people and God established covenants with the new race. The first and foundational covenant was the Abrahamic Covenant. In this covenant, God promised Abram (Abraham) a land, that he would become a great nation, and blessings. Through this new people (the Jews) God declared “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12.3 cf. Genesis 15).

As time progressed, God gave Israel more covenant promises communicated through His prophets. God’s prophetic plan to Israel was simple in concept. What they understood was the following: 1) the Messiah would come, 2) the Messiah would suffer, 3) God would pour His wrath upon the earth and judge the nations, 4) the Messiah would reign as King in a kingdom. God’s kingdom would be worldwide but centered in Jerusalem, ruled by the Messiah. God would fulfill all His promises to Israel during this kingdom period. Israel would be preeminent among the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13) and Gentile nations would look to Israel for guidance and be blessed through them (Isaiah 2.2, 42.1, 6, 49.6, 60.3, 61.6, 62.2; Zechariah 8.22-23). Psalm 2 provided the earliest and most succinct summary of God’s prophetic plan for Israel.2

A major point of note is that God had NO revealed plan to bless Gentiles apart from Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom. Also, God revealed nothing of a Church in which Jew and Gentile would be equal.

The 12th Apostle

The Eleven apostles recognized the horrific disaster the nation had perpetrated with the crucifixion of Jesus. They recognized He was the Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16.16). Miraculously, however, He had arisen from the dead. Hope for the nation remained–if they would repent. If they did, the Messiah would return and establish His kingdom. This was the message Peter preached in his sermons in Acts 2-3.

Foremost in the minds of the Eleven was the kingdom (Acts 1.6). The Lord had promised the Twelve that they would rule the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19.28). Replacement of the 12th apostle (as a result of Judas’ treachery and subsequent suicide) was therefore critical. If the kingdom was to come, the nation must have 12 apostles. Luke recorded the selection process:

21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

We read that “all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1.14). The selection criteria were that candidates had to be men who had accompanied them all the time during the Lord’s ministry beginning with the baptism of John until His ascension and be a witness to His resurrection. Did Saul of Tarsus meet these qualifications? Hardly. Notice they prayed and asked the Lord to make the choice. The matter of casting lots was well established in Israel’s history with the Urim and Thummim (1 Samuel 28.6) and in other instances to determine God’s will (cf. Leviticus 16.8; Joshua 18.6, 8, 10; 1 Chronicles 24.31; Proverbs 16.33). Therefore, the apostles were correct in doing what they did. They prayed about their decision and left the results to God.3 This resulted in the choice of Matthias as the legitimate successor to Judas.

Peter’s Sermons

On the day of Pentecost, following the advent of the Holy Spirit, which the Lord Jesus had instructed them to await (Acts 1.5, 8), Peter preached his first sermon. Whom did Peter address? He addressed Jews only (Acts 2.14, 22, 29, 36, 39). Peter laid the blame for the Messiah’s crucifixion squarely on them (Acts 2.23, 36) and demanded they repent from their sin (Acts 2.38). Peter preached the crucifixion–not as good news but as bad news–something that required Israel’s repentance. Furthermore, for the prophesied kingdom to come, every single Jew had to repent. Peter made this point quite clear: “let all the house of Israel know” (Acts 2.36) and “Repent and every one of you be baptized . . .” (Acts 2.38).

Peter’s second sermon reiterated the above message. He declared,

17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

In commanding the nation to repent, Peter made it clear that if they did, God would establish His kingdom, i.e., “the times of refreshing” and the “restoration of all things.” Peter appealed to the nation on the basis of the prophets and the covenants, especially reminding them of the Abrahamic covenant, “and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Acts 3.25). Again, Peter knew but one plan–God’s prophetic plan for Israel. And in this plan the ONLY basis for Gentile blessing was through Israel. The nation MUST repent for the kingdom to come and for the covenants to be fulfilled.

National Failure

We know from Acts that the nation refused to repent. Most regard Acts as the record of the birth of the Church. But that is to miss Luke’s purpose. Luke’s primary purpose was not to record the birth of the Church but to document the failure of national Israel. Acts is a bridge from the kingdom program revealed in the Old Testament and Gospels to Paul. Acts began with great promise for Israel. They had crucified their Messiah. But He had risen from the dead. Hope was revived! If the nation repented, God would establish His kingdom and fulfill his covenants. The advent of the Holy Spirit was God’s evidence of this possibility. But Acts ends in great disappointment. Luke recorded:

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” (Acts 28.23-28).

Paul’s statement to the Jews in Rome was the third time he had warned them about turning from them to the Gentiles (Acts 13.46, 18.6; cf. Romans 1.16-17). This is the last time we hear such language from him. After this, he made no further overtures to national Israel.

The Lord had revealed to Paul that the Jews would not listen to him. But Paul had such a love for his people that he desperately wished to convince them Jesus was the Messiah (Romans 9.1-5). After all, he had been the leader of the opposition! Surely, if he had reversed his course, they could. But the nation’s fate had been sealed in Acts 7 at the trial of Stephen. No real chance for national repentance existed after the Sanhedrin murdered Stephen. Paul addressed the Jews:

17 “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18 and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. 20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ 21 And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles’” (Acts 22.17-21).

God and Saul of Tarsus

Jesus had chosen twelve apostles in His earthly ministry. Why did He need another? As stated above, this question is the most important question of New Testament studies. If one understands the answer to this question the Bible will make sense. Without an understanding of this, the Bible is contradictory and confusing.

As we have seen, God had NO revealed plan to bless Gentiles apart from Israel. But blessing Gentiles was a key component of God’s prophetic plan which He initiated with Abraham (cf. Isaiah 42.1, 49.6, 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.22-23). How could Gentiles be blessed if the Jews refused to repent and accept their Messiah? How could the Great Commission of Matthew 28.16-20, given by the Lord Jesus Christ, be fulfilled apart from Israel? The answer is–it could not.

Israel was prophesied to be God’s agent to bless Gentiles. When it became clear the Jewish nation would not repent (Acts 7), God did something completely unexpected. He saved Saul of Tarsus. As a result, Saul (Paul) assumed the role as the agent of blessing Gentiles in lieu of national Israel (1 Corinthians 15.8). The Lord chose the Twelve during His ministry on earth. He chose Saul from heaven. As such, Paul was an apostle of an entirely different order than the Twelve. The Lord commissioned Paul to minister to Gentiles entirely apart from Israel and the ministry of the Twelve (Acts 9.15, 22.21; Romans 11.13; Ephesians 3.1).

God’s salvation of Saul of Tarsus is the single most important event of the book of Acts. God the Holy Spirit gave us more information about this event than any other. We have three accounts of it: Acts 9.1-19, 22.1-21, 26.1-23. God repeats for a reason: we are to take notice–it is important. When God chose Paul He created a whole new plan–something He had not done for 2,000 years. Through Paul, Gentiles would be blessed apart from national Israel. This was not possible under the covenanted, prophetic program God had begun with Abraham. Paul explained national Israel’s present status in Romans 9-11. Paul wrote:

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.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all (Acts 11.25-32).

Paul declared Israel’s hardening or blindness was a secret (μυστήριον) God had kept hidden. God had revealed nothing in the Old Testament about Israel rejecting her Messiah with the result that He would make a new creation (the Church, the body of Christ) in which Jew and Gentile were equal. The ideal of Jew and Gentile being equal was totally and completely alien to Jewish thinking. While Israel was to be the agent of blessing to Gentiles nothing in the Old Testament, nothing in the Gospels, nothing spoken by Peter or any other of the Twelve indicated equality. That truth was revealed only by Paul.

Paul revealed that a “partial” hardening had happened to Israel until the “fullness of the Gentiles” was complete. That “fullness” is the completion of the Church, the body of Christ. After this, God will again deal with national Israel. The result will be “all Israel will be saved.” The observant student should recall Peter’s words to the nation in his sermons. How many had to repent? All of them. The entire nation. It did not happen. But it will. Every single Jew living on earth (at the end of the Tribulation) will repent and recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. In the passage above, Paul reminded the Jews that God would fulfill His promise to remove their ungodliness and take away their sins. God is sovereign and keeps His promises. Paul expressed this truth by declaring that the “gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” While that generation of Jews contemporary with Jesus failed, a future generation will not. When they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23.37-39 cf. Zechariah 12.10) the Lord will return and be their Savior.

Paul’s Special Mission

God commissioned Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). As we have seen, the Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles. Following the Council of Jerusalem, Paul and the Twelve formalized an agreement that they would go to the Jew and Paul would go to the Gentiles (Galatians 2.7-9). Time and again Paul declared his divine authority as the apostle to the Gentiles to preach the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). Let the reader consider these verses: Acts 9.15, 13.46-47, 14.27, 15.3, 12, 18.6, 21.19, 22.21, 26.16-18; Romans 1.13, 11.13, 15.16; Galatians 2.2, 7-8; Ephesians 3.1, 8; 1 Timothy 2.7; 2 Timothy 1.10-11, 4.17. Did any of the other apostles every say anything like this? Never.

The outcome of the Council of Jerusalem in 51 A.D. is greatly revealing. The reason it was required was to decide the issue of whether Gentiles could be saved apart from circumcision and the keeping of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15.1, 5). The members of the Council were going behind Paul and teaching his converts that they were not really saved by believing Paul’s gospel: that Christ died for them and arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). They taught that to be saved one must become circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law. Paul argued that according to the gospel he had received from the risen Lord one was saved by believing his gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) and nothing else, that is, by faith alone. On several occasions Paul called this gospel his gospel (Romans 2.16, 16.25; Galatians 2.2; 2 Timothy 2.8). He called it this because it was. The Twelve knew nothing of it until Paul revealed it to them. This is clear from the account in Acts 15. The gospel the Twelve and those who came out of the Jerusalem church preached required keeping the Mosaic Law. They knew nothing of salvation by faith alone. This may be shocking but is what the text says. After much argument, Peter, (who had lost much of his authority to James), finally spoke and recounted how he had gone to the Roman centurion Cornelius’ house by divine revelation. He recalled that Cornelius and his family, Gentiles, had been saved apart from circumcision and Law-keeping. In conclusion, Peter made a startling declaration. Luke recorded:

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15.7-11).

Most people do not know these verses are in their Bibles. Peter had declared, “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” Do you grasp Peter’s words? He was saying, “Paul is right; we are wrong.” But more than this, he declared that the gospel they (the Twelve) had been preaching was over. It was Paul’s gospel from then on. Imagine! What a change! According to the gospel of the kingdom, salvation required faith and works. Now, Peter declared Jews had to be saved like Gentiles–according to Paul’s gospel. This was almost incomprehensible for a Jew. Jews had to be saved like Gentiles? Gentiles didn’t had to be save like Jews? Revolutionary! This explains why Paul wrote what he did to the Galatians following the Jerusalem Council (circa 55-57 A.D):

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1.6-9).

These are strong words. Paul could not have written such words prior to the Council of Jerusalem. His statement declared that the gospel the Twelve preached was over. Now there was but one gospel–HIS gospel (Romans 2.16; 16.25; Galatians 1.11-12, 2.2, 7; 2 Timothy 2.8; Titus 1.3). Paul declared if anyone preached a different gospel than his, he was accursed. In plain language, Paul meant they were doomed to hell.

Conclusion

Jesus commissioned twelve perfectly good apostles. Why did He need a thirteenth? While most of Christendom believes Paul was merely an extension of the Twelve, the Scriptures reveal a different story. Paul’s contact with the Twelve was extremely limited (Galatians 1.1, 11-12, 15-19). If he was merely an extension, logically, the first thing God would have done was send him to the Twelve for instruction. But God sent him to the desert. The Scriptures provide a vast amount of evidence that Paul was an apostle of a different order who taught doctrines unknown by the Twelve. Paul called these doctrines “secrets” (μυστήριον).

God’s program with Israel reached an impasse with their refusal to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah. This became evident in Acts 7, with the Sanhedrin’s stoning of Stephen. God had two choices: 1) to pour out His wrath (the Day of the Lord) which was part of the Old Testament prophetic program or 2) something else. He chose door number 2. That “something else” was the salvation of Paul and the establishment of the age of grace.

When God commissioned Paul as “the apostle to the Gentiles” He gave him the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). God revealed doctrines to Paul that He had given no one else. Paul referred to these revelations as “secrets.”4 As a result, Paul is our apostle, the apostle of the Church, the body of Christ. The Twelve knew nothing of the Church, the body of Christ, in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. Why? Because God did not reveal it to them. What they came to learn about the Church, they learned from Paul, who received it from the risen, glorified Lord. You can read your whole Bible and find no mention of the body of Christ by anyone but Paul. Even at the end of his life, Peter found Paul’s doctrines difficult to grasp (2 Peter 3.14-16). God commanded us to follow Paul not Peter, not James, not John, etc. (1 Corinthians 4.6, 11.1; Philippians 3.7; 1 Thessalonians 1.6; 2 Thessalonians 3.7, 9). Paul is our apostle, the apostle of the Gentiles. To grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, in this age of grace, it is essential to understand that Paul’s apostleship to Gentiles was unique, that he is our apostle, and that it is he who reveals God’s doctrines for us.

Luke’s account revealed Jesus did not have direct contact with the centurion but spoke with Jewish proxies from the centurion.
See the author’s study on Messiah’s Advent and the Church.
We should note the Biblical record gives no hint of sin among the apostles in the early chapters of Acts.
4  See the author’s study, Paul’s Mystery for an explanation of these revelations.

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


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

44 Responses to Why Paul?

  1. Ron G says:

    G’Day Don
    I just got around to reading this article and I have to say it is simply stunning in its simplicity and yet it’s power of argument for the unique ministry Jesus gave Paul.
    How have we missed it for so long?
    Well done and thank you again for your blog.
    God Bless
    Ron G

  2. Joe says:

    At Damascus Paul was let down over the wall in a basket because someone wanted to kill him. Did this happen before or after the three years in Arabia?

  3. Chuck Wehrheim says:

    Don,
    I am so frustrated. There are many who just don’t want to read and understand the scriptures. Then there are many, including pastors, who refuse to recognize the confusion caused by the commingling of the Kingdom on earth, Israel, and The Body of Christ, the church.
    Chuck

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      I understand. All we can do is pray and be faithful to the One we serve. And as David said, “the battle is the Lord’s.”

  4. KJ says:

    In Acts 26:20 we read — First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

    This seems to be saying there is some type of “Good Works” required to “prove” repentance. It as seems to be saying that one needs to repent and turn to God.

    Can you please clarify what Paul is talking about in this passage? It was given during his defense before King Agrippa. Also, can you explain all these “leaders” such as Porcius Festus and Felix.
    Thanks
    KJ

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      KJ,
      The passage reads better as, “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” The works were not so much “proof” of repentance but a “fitting” response to it. True salvation leads to good works. Paul was defending his life. He was his own lawyer. He stated things the way he did because he knew Agrippa understood Judaism and its prophecies, specifically, the resurrection.

  5. Joe says:

    Maybe it’s the times we live in or maybe it’s the culture. If I were to go to a street corner and preach some off the wall theology i think everyone would just ignore me. People might think of me as nuts but I don’t think people would go to those who may have fallen under my teachings and try to dissuade them. My question is why was there such effort made to silence Paul and to re-educate his followers? Seems there are so many places that Paul taught that in time Judaizers later showed up, expending time and effort, to contradict Paul’s teachings. How would a Judaizer benefit by contradicting Paul?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Judaism was an ancient religion. The Romans respected ancient religions. The Jews had been under the Mosaic Law for 1,500 years. Moving past that to what Paul taught was radical. Some of the Judaizers were believers and some not. They could not accept Paul. Throughout Paul’s he wrote defending his ministry. Satan had his hand in this also; he knew God was doing something different. The demon said to the sons of the chief priest, Sceva, “Jesus I know and Paul I know but who are you”? (Acts 19.15).

  6. Kyle says:

    Thank you for your blogs they are very inciteful. It is sad to see churches not able to understand how to rightly divide the Word for appplicable doctrine. You went over breifly that only the Gospel of the Grace of God given to Paul is the only one aplicable today. You quoted Galatians 1:6-9, that if anyone preaches another gospel they are accurrsed. Does this mean that if a person that is saved preaches another gospel in some way they lose their salvation, or does it mean that only unsaved people preach another gospel? And if one were to preach another gospel are they lost forever and cannot believe the gospel and be saved? I have researched about the unpardonable sin, but is not applicable to the body of Christ. If you could shed some incite on this I would really apprecieate it.
    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kyle,
      Paul used the word ἀνάθεμα in Romans 9.3; 1 Corinthians 12.3, 16.22; Galatians 1.8-9. Exactly what Paul meant in this particular passage is not clear. It was certainly a strong condemnation but probably has a broader sense than loss of salvation. For the believer, loss of salvation is not possible. He is secure in Christ. We know from 1 Corinthians 5 that believers can be given to Satan to die.

      • David says:

        Thank you for your writings, they have been enormously beneficial to my learning and spiritual edification. I was reading verse 5 of 1 Corinthians that you referenced above, and I think I may have missed or am misunderstanding something. In your above comment you say that believers can be given to Satan to die? What do you mean by this, and what portion of the verse you referenced indicates this? Thanks.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          David,
          Paul had to address a serious case of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 5.1). He delivered this indidivual to Satan to take his life (1 Corinthians 5.3-5). Fortunately, the believer repented so judgment did not fall (2 Corinthians 2.6-8). This believer’s actions were bringing discredit to the Church and needed to be judged but it was also an act of mercy. Better to die and be with the Lord than lose rewards because of sin. Grace and peace.

    • mike says:

      surely satan knows what the unpardonable sin is, and it would be his goal for that sin to be taught as a staple belief in as many churches as possible. and in fact it has.

      and if any books were to openly explain what that sin is, they would be omitted from the bible.
      the original 1611 KJV included this book, but a decision was made that just as many copies could be sold at a lower production cost- no canon decided on its removal, just greed.

      verse 6
      http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Wisdom-of-Solomon-Chapter-1/

  7. John D. says:

    Don,
    There is no way to respond to The Virgin Birth, so I will ask a question here.
    Why was there even a genealogy from Joseph and included Joseph since he was not the father of Jesus. What part did he play in the genealogy of Jesus? How does he being a son-in-law of Mary’s father connect his genealogy to Jesus? This is still unclear to me. If you are able to elaborate, I would appreciate it.
    Thank you.
    John

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      Thanks for alerting me that comments were off for The Virgin Birth. In terms of the Mosaic Law, Joseph was Jesus’ father, even though he was not the biological father. Since Joseph was of the line of David it solved legal problems of the validity of Jesus’ claims to be of the lineage of David and the rightful legal heir to the throne of David.

  8. Vernon says:

    Hi Don,

    In Acts 28: 1 – 6 Paul gets bitten by a viper and suffers no ill effects.
    Jesus said in Mark 16:18 “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
    My question is this…Was Paul under that dispensation or under grace?
    Bearing in mind that the dispensation of Grace was already in effect and Paul was no longer a part of the Kingdom Program.

    Thanx,

    Vernon.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vernon,
      One could make a sound argument for either way. Paul was definitely under the program of grace but it could be argued from Mark 16.17 that such things would follow for all who believed–in the dispensation of Law or Grace. So, I don’t think we can be dogmatic here. In either case, Paul had the protection, gifts of healing, tongues, etc. for a while. The Acts 28 reference is the last account of these abilities. Once Paul was imprisoned in Rome these supernatural powers ended.

  9. Ron G says:

    G’Day Don,
    I recieved this response recently on my Facebook group.

    You have said that “The Church which is the Body of Christ did not even come into existence until Paul received his new revelation. Paul was its first member.”
    Given the following, how could Paul be the first member?
    In Romans 16 Paul says:
    “Greet Andronicus and Junias, …. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were IN CHRIST BEFORE I WAS.”
    Please note the context of this statement. In Ch 16
    V1 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of THE CHURCH in Cenchrea”
    V3&4 “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers IN CHRIST JESUS… Not only I but ALL THE CHURCHES of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
    V5 “Greet also THE CHURCH that meets at their house.”
    V7 “Greet Andronicus and Junias,.…..they were IN CHRIST before I was.
    V9 “Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker IN CHRIST,”
    V10 “Greet Apelles, tested and approved IN CHRIST.”
    There is no hint of two different churches or some people belonging to the body of Christ while others are not.

    What are your thoughts,?
    Ron G

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ron,
      The phrase “in Christ” was used almost exclusively by Paul but not completely (1 Peter 5.14) so this is not as strong a point as one might assume. The phrase “in Christ” is not completely synonymous with being a member of the body of Christ. It simply means a believer. On the other hand, seeing the Church, the body of Christ, as existing before Paul requires a great deal more work. In a nutshell, no Scriptural evidence supports it.

      • Ron G says:

        Thanks Don,
        I replied with a question which I don’t always like to do. I asked that if Paul was not the first member of the Body of Christ, how do you explain Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 1:15-16?
        I used Darby Translation.
        “Faithful is the word, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. But for this reason mercy was shewn me, that in me, the first, Jesus Christ might display the whole long-suffering, for a delineation of those about to believe on him to life eternal.”
        ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1:15-16‬ ‭DARBY‬‬
        The thing is I agree with what you say but for those who are dearly hanging on to the teaching that the Church began with the 11 the Romans 16 passage gives them great comfort. Have you done a full study of this passage and developed a strong counter argument that supports what you posted above?
        And thank you Don for this site and your continued faithfulness in answering all the questions.
        Still studying to show myself approved….
        Ron G

  10. John Roberts says:

    Hi there, very interesting study.
    Off topic, but do you think we’re still called to be disciples based on Christ’s teachings? As Paul said to imitate him as he imitated Christ.
    Blessings

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      Jesus ministered to Jews under the Law in His earthly ministry. The Church, the body of Christ, did not exist. We are in an entirely new program now which the risen Lord revealed to Paul. We are to follow the doctrines the heavenly Lord revealed to Paul (2 Corinthians 5.16-17).

  11. Max Adamski Jr says:

    Our Pastor is always asking one of our deacons to pray and ask God to bless us and is always praying and asking God to be in our presence. I always thought that in the Dispensation of Grace, God has already blessed us in the heavenlies with all spiritual blessings needed and that He is always in our presence.

    Your opinion please.

    In Christ, Max

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Max,
      God has blessed us with all blessings and God is always in our presence and indwells us. The primer for our prayers should be to study how and what Paul prayed. Possible future article but it doesn’t get much better than Ephesians 1. Grace and peace.

  12. Joe says:

    Doctrine,

    What exactly is meant by Paul in 11 Cor. 5:16?

    I realize Christ was not alive in the flesh on earth when Paul wrote this so of course we know him no more in that state. Surely that’s not what he means. Is this a statement by Paul not to judge people by their fleshly works? Are we not to judge Jesus Christ after his works? IMHO the entire Christian universe judges Jesus Christ after His earthly works save few.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Paul’s focus is upon our being “new creations” v.17. Believers are new creatures with an eternal, glorious hope. Christ’s earthly ministry was lowly, without glory. It’s end was death. But in resurrection He arose in glory and power. That is the Christ of our focus today. Tragically, most of Christendom’s focus is upon Christ’s earthly ministry, not His heavenly one, which Paul’s doctrines reveal.

  13. joe says:

    Berean Study Bible.Eph 2:12
    remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

    Does the above scripture above literally mean that all the gentiles for an extended period of time were without God? Were they all going to Hell? Some would say this is not fair. Gentiles were as much his creation as the Jews. Does God put as much weight on the subject of human life as today’s culture and today’s religion wants us to think? God is sovereign. God makes the rules. Is anything God does wrong? Is it possible for God to be unfair? Is that even a question we can ask? Is fairness solely a human invention/desire? Is there a scripture that plainly says God is fair (in the human sense?) thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      God does everything in His power to bring individuals to Himself respecting man’s will. Peter wrote He’s not willing any should perish and Paul that His will is that all be saved. God created a new program with Abraham after mankind rejected Him for 2,000 years. This was the covenant program with the Jews. Jesus said few find salvation. How many constitute few? How many Jews were saved? Few. At Jerusalem, after 3 years of ministry, 120 were present out of millions. The bottom line is that anyone who wants God, who wants salvation finds it. God knows all hearts. It doesn’t matter if you live next to a church or in a jungle. Nothing is impossible with God.

      • Bobbi says:

        Joe,
        One thing to consider about Gods righteousness, is that the plan of salvation was done from before the beginning. Ephesians 4:1
        The things I remember when thinking on those lines of questions, is what Paul says in Romans 3:9-23. And Jeremiah 17:9-10
        The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
        Our hearts before Christ were evil. We were not able to discern properly. Even after we are saved, we have to be aware of and careful of the devices of the devil. Just like he asked Eve the first question that changed everything, in Genesis 3:1-7
        1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
        2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
        3 But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
        4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
        5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
        6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
        7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons…
        he loves to create trouble for us and Paul says in Eph. 4:26-27 to 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
        27 Neither give place to the devil. Paul is warning us here.

        One awesome story as I’m sure you remember is Jonah and Ninevah. Nineveh was Gentile. But God repented of His judgement on them because the whole place heard and repented and humbled themselves before God. That was before we (gentiles)
        we knew of salvation, so we know even though we were separate from God, He still has His eyes upon everyone. This shows He is and was fair.
        Blessings brother!

  14. joe says:

    Okay, when I re-read the verse I can see the separation from God was man’s choice. In English I can read it as a mandated separation by God from God Himself but that’s not the case.
    Thank you.

  15. crossnote says:

    Don,

    Before I jump into reading on this extensive site, may I ask if this is a Mid Acts/Pauline or mainly a Pauline site or??

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Crossnote,
      Please read the site’s homepage.

      • crossnote says:

        I did read the homepage before posting as well as a couple of your articles, that’s what spurned my question. I had studied the Mid Acts position from the literature of Cornelius Stam, J.C. O’Hair, Charles Baker etc., and your’s seemed quite similar.
        But don’t feel obligated to answer if you don’t want to.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Crossnote,
          I have several articles not related to Paul, several Pauline articles, and several articles that take the mid-Acts position. I do not know the “correct” answer to your question. I leave that up to the readers.

  16. joe says:

    I was slow to accept that the teachings of the NT writers (outside of Paul) was not for Gentiles/Grace believers in the Church Age. But if agreements in Acts 15 and Galatians chapter two between Paul and the 12 is taken literally then Paul and Barnabas went to the Gentiles and ALL the others (including Jesus..Romans 15:8)were ministers of the circumcision (Israel/Jews). this would include the first 3 chapters of Revelation. When was the commandment by Jesus in Matthew 10 for the Apostles to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel revoked? When was agreement for Paul to go to the circumcision (see above) ever revoked? the commandment to the Apostles was to go into all the world…..but they didn’t. They stayed in Jerusalem…..the first 3 chapters in Revelation written by John must be for Jews/Israel.

  17. Tammy says:

    Hi so I am searching because my dad believes we should only be listening or reading what Paul wrote because the rest of the Bible is for the Jews and not the gentiles is this true?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tammy,
      All the Scripture is FOR us (2 Timothy 3.16; Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11) but not all Scripture is TO us. The gospels proclaimed the kingdom of God. Jesus in His earthly ministry came to fulfill God’s promises to Israel (Romans 15.8). All the parables deal with this earthly kingdom and Jesus instructed His disciples to pray for it (Matthew 6.10). Paul’s letters concern the Church, the body of Christ, and all Church doctrine comes from Paul. The Church has a heavenly destiny while Israel has an earthly destiny. These are two separate programs but they came from the same God. Unless one keeps them separate, however, the result is confusion.

  18. joe says:

    Is this Peter telling his readers that Paul has the gospel for their salvation? Of all the times I’ve read this I never saw it until now. Am I correct in concluding this?

    2 Peter 3:15-16

    And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

    16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

  19. joe says:

    Doctrine, I had to send this. It confirms everything you say in several of your essays. It explains things in different ways. I thank you for your work and guidance. God Bless you and your work.

    https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/the-beginning-and-the-end/?utm_source=twominutes-list&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=twominutes_20170422

Leave a Reply

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