Introducing Paul

Introducing Paul

by Marvin W. Rice

The subject of this article is one that is greatly overlooked by many sincere Christians today. It is a sad thing when we, as believers, tend to be swayed by tradition, instead of searching the Scriptures and noting the things that differ in God’s Word.

It is hoped that “Introducing Paul” might be of a great help to some of its readers. Let’s take the time to consider these thoughts and to compare them with the Sacred Scriptures. I ask that all who read this might do so with an unbiased and open mind. We do not wish to sway the reader, but hope that these thoughts may be considered apart from tradition, and in view of God’s Word. Let’s see if these views are in accord with the Scriptures. We, as believers, need not be afraid of an unfamiliar teaching. Do as the Bereans did in Acts 17:10-12. They studied the Scriptures to see if [the] things [that they heard were] true.

Stephen, Phillip and others of the circumcision were called to proclaim the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, as were the twelve. This was not true with Saul. He was called to usher in a new dispensation and to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (not His earthly ministry, as Jesus the Nazarene). He proclaimed Him as the Ascended, Risen, Glorified Christ of Glory to the Gentiles [as well as] the Jews and Kings.

God’s Chosen Nation

Throughout the Old Testament and into the New, we see Israel as God’s chosen nation. Yet, in spite of this lofty position which they held in God’s favor, they were not a God-fearing nation. While they were religious and pious, it was but a formality with most of them. Looking at their history, we see that their only contact with God was often through just one Prophet.

Look at the murmuring and complaining which took place during those years they were led through the wilderness. In the Gospels, the Scribes and Pharisees were merely a sect of religious pretenders, without sincerity of heart.

As we know, Israel was ruled by a religious leadership who were self-righteous law-keepers; living in strict accord with the Talmud, exacting strict compliance of the Law of Moses from their subjects, even though their hearts were not right with their God. Many times God brought Israel into bondage to the nations as a judgment, because they failed to seek the will and purpose of God. They had no desire to please Him. Instead, they had but a formality, pleasing their own gratifications instead of seeking to please their God.

A Messiah

It was to this disobedient nation that a Messiah was promised — and to this nation He came. The Lord Jesus was not born into a Priestly family of Israel. No, He did not come to any of the high and lofty ranks of Israel. He was born to a lowly couple: a couple who loved and feared God. He was born in humble circumstances.

Most of His life, He preferred those of lowly state — the common people of Israel. As He grew older and began teaching, He was hated by the religious leaders of the nation. Many attempts were made on His life. None were successful until God’s appointed time had come. It was only when Jesus submitted Himself to them that they were able to crucify the very One [for] Whom they had waited and longed for so long — their promised Messiah!

Because of the hardness of their hearts they did not recognize Him when He came. He was rejected even before He was born. They had no room in the Inn. Soon there was an all-out effort to kill this, their Promised One; but God’s time had not yet come — it would come later. Then these self-righteous leaders of Israel would succeed in their effort. Jesus called them “workers of iniquity.”

Saul of Tarsus

Saul of Tarsus was of this realm: a very religious person, a strict keeper of Moses’ Law. He was anxious to please those Fathers of Israel which he so respected. We read of Saul’s credentials in Philippians 3:5-6,

“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews: as touching the law, a Pharisee concerning zeal, persecuting the Church: touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blameless…”

We also can see another account of Saul’s own religious position and his background in Acts 22:3-5. Here he writes that he had sat and learned at the feet of Gamaliel. He was trained according to the strictest of the hereditary law. He was zealous for God with a great anxiety to please Him.

Because Saul longed to please God, and because he respected the religious elders of Israel, thinking that they were led by God and pleasing Him, Saul thought it only proper that he should follow the leadership of those over him. This would, surely, please his God.

Saul did not realize the great apostasy which was working in Israel, so He felt assured that whatever these religious leaders (including the priests) of Israel did or stood for, surely must be the right thing to do. The very ones whom Saul had on a pedestal had Jesus of Nazareth crucified. In spite of this, His followers were beginning to grow and were multiplying by leaps and bounds.

All of his life, Saul was so engrossed in the aspects of those leaders of the day that He was sure this new sect was contrary to the Law of Moses and against the God of Israel. So he set out to finish the job that those whom he held in such high esteem had started out to do — they crucified the leader. Now he would persecute the followers to rid the chosen nation of this — supposedly — new sect once and for all. In doing this he felt he would please God.

Saul had not been acquainted with the Lord when He was in the flesh, before His crucifixion; but he knew of Him and he saw His followers. Just as his elders had crucified the Lord Jesus, so now Saul was going to rid Israel of those followers of this One that Saul assumed to be an imposter. Paul said he persecuted them in ignorance:

“But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (I Timothy 1:13).

Before Acts 9, Saul was persecuting the believers to the worst extent (Acts 8:3). He was punishing them publicly. He was ravaging the followers of the Lord Jesus. He was having many of them put to death and condoning all other assassins, such as those who assassinated Stephen.

The Holy Spirit

Before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus had told the disciples two very important facts concerning the Holy Spirit. One was that when He went away He would send a Comforter (the Holy Spirit), and this Comforter would guide them into all truth.

Second, He said,

“Whoever would blaspheme the Father, it would be forgiven him; and whoever blasphemed the Son, it would be forgiven him; but whoever blasphemed the Holy Spirit, it would NOT be forgiven him in this age, nor the one, which is impending” [the millennial age] (Matthew 12:31-32).

When the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) was sent on the Day of Pentecost in power and great glory, glorifying their God and magnifying Christ, it was evident to all those present that something had happened to those followers of Jesus the Nazarene.

The onlookers didn’t immediately know that those believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. They knew beyond a shadow of doubt that something had happened. Some thought that they were drunk with new wine, while others, coming from afar, heard them speak in their-own languages and marveled.

Others saw miracles wrought and great things done. Many heard marvelous declarations and saw the power of God demonstrated. This was the beginning of the operation of the Holy Spirit. This was the time (era), or office of the Holy Spirit; with miracles of power to follow.

Thousands were saved; the sick were healed; the dead were raised; God was glorified; the Lord Jesus was declared as the Messiah to the people of Israel. The Holy Spirit of God was operating and dwelling in the hearts of the sons of men.

In Acts 7:55, we see where Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. These Jewish believers (often called the “Circumcision” believers) were full of the Holy Spirit — ALL of their works being of the Holy Spirit.

Saul was not dishonest or crooked. He was not wicked and ungodly. Instead, he was a deeply religious person fearing God, and greatly respecting the elders and elements of Israel. We saw earlier his credentials as outlined in the sacred Scriptures. Yet, in spite of his sincere desire to please God and the Fathers of Israel, he refers to himself as the chiefest of sinners.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).

Saul a Blasphemer

In I Corinthians 15:9, he declares himself as one not competent to be called an apostle because he had persecuted the believers. One might ask why Paul referred to himself as the chiefest of sinners when he was so religiously involved with the rituals and ceremonies of Israel. The answer is simple. It was because, by his acts of persecution, he had committed the unpardonable sin! — the worst of all sins.

Even those who were guilty of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus could have been forgiven. We remember the Lord prayed for them,

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Saul did not have the hope of forgiveness as did the Lord’s murderers, neither in this age or in that which was to come; for he had blasphemed the Holy Spirit by persecuting those Spirit-filled believers of the Pentecostal era. He did so by the stand he took, the awesome position he filled as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious one (I Timothy 1:13).

Thus he sealed his doom! His hate for the mighty works of the Holy Spirit caused him to persecute those spirit-filled believers of Israel. Saul believed this group of people to be foreign to the traditions of Israel. Thus he set about to carry out what his peers had begun — to eliminate this so-called sect from the nation of Israel.

Saul had received authority to pursue those Jews who fled Jerusalem to Gentile countries to escape persecution, so he set out for Damascus to search for them.

Saul might have been struck dead, as he went to this Gentile city, because of his blasphemous attitude; the same as Ananias and Sapphira received the judgment of death because they lied to Peter, who also was filled with Holy Spirit. This was the same as lying directly to the Holy Spirit, having done it to the “least of these.”

The same was true with Saul. While he was not opposing the Holy Spirit directly, he was destroying those of the Holy Spirit. Jesus once said to the Scribes and Pharisees,

“If you have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).

The same was true with Saul; since this was the era of the working of the Holy Spirit with signs and miracles resulting in multitudes being saved. If one of the least of these were ill-treated, it was the same as if the Holy Spirit was being ill-treated. Saul had done just that!

So the chance of Saul receiving judgment on the road to Damascus and being struck dead was indeed very great, [which] would have been in order for that time era.

A New Administration

But God, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), had purposed to introduce, at a given time, an administration wherein, apart from the feeble efforts and shortcomings of man, God would display His vast love, lavishing it on mankind. Apart from man’s efforts, God displays His superabundant grace.

GRACE! Regardless of how deep and far reaching evil and wicked sin had become, no matter to what extent it went, the grace of God would super-abound in quantities untold and to deeper depths and higher heights than any evil and sin could ever begin to attain. Grace gushed on us to more than eliminate all sin, with no possibility for any sin to be considered unpardonable in this all-new administration — this Administration of Grace.

“But where sin abounded grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

This new administration that God was about to bring in was more than new: It had been a secret, kept secret since the world began.

“The revelation of a mystery which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).

Saul a Chosen Vessel

Now it was about to be revealed to the worst enemy of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was to be the one to unfold it to mankind. Saul, the Lord’s enemy, was about to become acquainted with the One he opposed. He would instantly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He would proclaim Him to the world. The Administration of the Grace of God that was coming in was to include the Gentiles — not as proselytes of Israel, but in spite of Israel. Soon Israel, as a chosen nation, would be set aside and a new era would be made known to man — one wherein neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free, male nor female would hold sway; an era wherein the grace of God would flow fluently, and man would be saved apart from his own efforts — all through Christ.

In this era, the son of God no longer is in the flesh of humiliation and rejection, but is in the lofty position as the risen, ascended, glorified Son of God, the Christ of Glory. Israel is not in the limelight of God during this era. Israel has been put into abeyance until this new administration has been completed. It is then, that God will resume His purpose with Israel; and bring about all of His promises to them. In the meantime, while they are in abeyance (out of God’s limelight), we see something new taking place in the plan of God. This new Era of Grace is now to be proclaimed by God’s chosen vessel; and that chosen vessel was none other than Saul of Tarsus.

“He is a chosen vessel to Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Instead of Saul receiving judgment and instant death, as Ananias and Sapphira had, Saul was halted by an overwhelming brilliance of the glory of the Son of God, the One Whom he had been persecuting. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Saul. In the presence of this glorious splendor of the Son of God, Saul lost all of his strength and fell to the ground prostrate, as did Daniel when the angel of the Lord appeared to him as recorded in the book of Daniel. There in the radiance of this awesome brightness of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saul, for the first time in his life, met Jesus Whom he had been persecuting.

Saul lost all of his fight and animosity, recognizing that this visit was one that was of a supernatural, celestial quality. It didn’t take Saul long to acknowledge this visitor as “Lord,” for immediately he inquired, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5).

Saul acclaimed Him Lord. When the Lord responded with “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting,” it didn’t take Saul long to lose all doubt and immediately believe this glorious One to be the Son of God and the same One Who was crucified by his elders. Saul immediately became of an obedient nature and asked “Lord, what would You have me to do?” (:6).

According to Peter’s gospel, Saul had sinned away his day of salvation and brought his own doom. He rejected the Lord Jesus — proclaiming Him to be an imposter — and had persecuted many followers of the Lord Jesus. He had blasphemed the Holy Spirit by his acts, but he now became the recipient of having all his sins eliminated through God’s grace in the New Era (dispensation). His eyes were opened instantly. Grace took care of Saul’s terrible sins and blasphemy — past, present and future. When Jesus, “the Christ of Glory,” appeared to Saul and saved him, a new era was introduced. Saul was the first one saved.

As we have stated, Saul of Tarsus was without hope according to that which was given to the disciples by Jesus before His crucifixion, and what had been made known to them through the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. Yet when Christ Jesus made His marvelous, astounding visit to Saul outside of Jerusalem, outside the land, in Gentile country for the first in the history of the creation of man, the all super-abounding unlimited grace, of the living God was lavished on Saul. He was the first one — with no limitations, no requirement, nothing excluded — with grace gushed on him to more than cover every possible sin in Saul’s life.

A New Creation

Saul, now, was a completely new man — the first person to become a member of the new creation. This new creation is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free. Saul was baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3). Here he experienced dying to the old humanity (Romans 6:2). He experienced being entombed with Christ, coming forth a new man. Oh, the grand and glorious far reaching grace of God that came forth that day, never before experienced by a human being! This grace even eliminated the offenses of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, even though he once rejected Jesus, the Holy Son of God.

This all-reaching grace of God caused Saul to no longer reject, but to believe in this One, Jesus the Christ, with all of his heart. In spite of Saul’s misgiving and doubt, God, through His precious Son, saved Saul of Tarsus.

Words could never describe what Saul experienced that day and the days to come. He, who once had committed the unpardonable sin, was a now a saved man because of a new era; and was a choice instrument of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saul a Pattern

“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show for all longsuffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on Him to life” (I Timothy 1:16).

Saul was the absolute first person ever to receive such a display of grace. He was the first son to be saved in this Administration of Grace. He was the first member in the Body of Christ.

In grace, as we know it today, even the unpardonable sin no longer exists. No one could be worse than Saul. None ever could be in a worse position for salvation than Saul, no matter how bad their sin. The grace that overwhelmingly exceeds all of Saul’s sins will reach far beyond any sin of any other person in the generations to follow.

He was not just a pattern for us to see his doomed position, but for God to display, through His Son Jesus Christ, the glories of the riches of His grace and His vast love with which He loves all creation. His vast love surpasses all love that man has ever known; such love that He gave His Son for our salvation. This grand and awesome love of God is reflected in the love that His Son manifested on the cross by His giving Himself for us. This great love is displayed in this grace of God that so overwhelms every believer since Paul’s conversion. It was through this great love that God had purposed before the world began.

“According to His Own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Timothy 1:9).

In this Administration (often referred to as a Dispensation) God would show forth to the entire universe, a most glorious display of His wondrous love and grace. Through the operation of this new Administration, He will make manifest the glories of Christ, His beloved Son.

“Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself: “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might gather together in One all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth; even in Him” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

Long before this new dispensation came into existence, God already had a people or (dispensation)through which to gather those on the earth into one, in Christ. This will be the chosen nation, Israel.It was promised throughout the Old Testament that God would be using Israel to evangelize the world,and that one day they would be a priestly nation. Most of us are aware that Israel has been promised, throughthe prophets of old, that they would be a blessing to the nations of the world.

“I will make of thee a great nation: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).

Their Messiah

Their Messiah, the promised Savior, was to come ofAbraham’s seed. Also, there was to be a great nationthat was to come out of Abraham, and this nation wasIsrael. One day, as a nation, they will be blessed of God.They will be filling a place as a priestly nation and be ablessing to the world. Israel was promised many blessings.They will be representing the Lord to the Gentilesand will be leading them to Christ.

“…but ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: menshall call you the ministers of our God: ye shall eatthe riches of the gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isaiah 61:6).

Then will the great commission of Matthew 28:19 reallybe carried out by those to whom it was given — the Jews.It was given to the 12 apostles, for them to go to the nations,which they have not yet done; but they will in themillennial Kingdom.

“Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This Scripture was a commandment, given by the Lord Jesus to the disciples while Israel was still filling the place as His chosen nation in the limelight of God. This commandment is to be carried out during the future Millennial Kingdom by believing Israel. Note that, in the end of the reference, Jesus promised to be with them to the end of the world (age), but He ascended to the Father. This is for the future. Then He will be with them to the end of the world (age). The millennial Kingdom lasts for 1000 years. It is during that age that Israel will be a blessed and beautiful people — a righteous Holy people — who will love and serve God. They will then be loving and worshipping their Messiah and King. It is then that the Lord will be with them to the end of the age and beyond. It is during that age that Israel will be going to the Gentiles and will be baptizing them and teaching them all things, whatsoever Jesus had commanded them. Then Israel will bring men to Christ (Isaiah 49:6-7); then their sons and daughters shall prophesy; then Isaiah 11:6 will be realized:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them”

There will be perfect peace in the kingdom. According to Isaiah 11:9,

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the water covers the sea.”

This is that time spoken of in the Scriptures when David will sit on the throne, in the kingdom, with his Lord. “Then David will be doing all of God’s will” (Acts 13:22). There David is called a prince and shepherd, and he will be feeding the children of Israel (Ezekiel 34:23-24). This is the time spoken of by Jesus, in Matthew 19:28, when He was speaking to the twelve disciples, saying,

You shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is also when they will be carrying out the commandment given to them in Matthew 28:19.

It is through Israel that God will be bringing all of those of the earth together into Christ. Israel’s promises, Israel’s blessings, Israel’s allotment, in Christ, will all be realized on the earth.

“Hast made us unto our God, kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).

Verse 9 verifies that which is written in Isaiah 11:11-12, saying that the Lord has redeemed them from out of “every kindred, and every tongue, and people.” As we all know, Israel has been scattered to the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:11-12 says that He is going to recover — the second time — the remnant of Israel from where they have been scattered.

Rightly Dividing

Oh, if we, the believers of this day of grace, would not attempt to mix our blessings with those of the circumcision. We should not apply their promises and blessings to ourselves, but leave them for Israel, which are rightly theirs (on the earth). We should take our place where we belong, in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. How much happier we would be.

Israel’s promise that they will be reigning on the earth can then be seen in the beatitudes in Matthew 5. Note :3, 5, and 10:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth … Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Let us note in :10 the term “the Kingdom of Heaven” (i.e., “Kingdom of the Heavens”). Many believe that this Kingdom is in the Heavens; yet it is of the Heavens. It does not say, “Kingdom in the Heavens.” Every verse in the Scriptures referring to this Kingdom of the Heavens states it in just that manner — with the word “of.” This Kingdom is on the earth, in the land of Israel, during the millennial reign. It is a Kingdom functioning on earth with earthly people. It has a Heavenly government and a Heavenly rulership, with a Heavenly origin, purposed and determined in the Heavens. It is not a Kingdom of the earth. It is “on” the earth, not “of ” the earth. Its King is from Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the King.

Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of the Heavens is not to be confused with the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of the Heavens is in the Scriptures some 30 times. It always is in relation to the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, i.e., the millennial Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom as we know kingdoms. It is God’s family, composed of every saved person from Adam’s time through the end of the ages. Every person who has been saved of every administration, and of every spiritual economy of the Scriptures, is part of the Kingdom of God.

The term “Kingdom of God” relates to His relationship to us as it pertains to His Holy Deity. In Ephesians 2:20, we see the relationship of God to us as a Father. This speaks of God’s family, which is all saved people. It’s likened to a building wherein “God” can dwell. Some translators have not been consistent in translating the Greek, of “the Kingdom of the Heavens,” and “the Kingdom of God.” The difference between these two terms can be accurate only in the Greek.

The Kingdom of the Heavens is a part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God takes in a much broader scope of people. Our expectation is in the heavens, and is part of the Kingdom of God. The Body of Christ does not belong to the Kingdom of the Heavens, and will not be on the earth. The government of “the Kingdom of Heaven” is ruled by God’s Beloved Son as King. Its injunctions come from the Father out of heaven. He dispatches the gospel through Israel, who will still be the chosen nation.

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation” (I Peter 2:9).

Israel in Momentary Abeyance

Note what Paul wrote concerning their future:

“I say, then have they stumbled … that they should fall? God forbid: but rather … through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11).

Israel has not fallen by the wayside to be forgotten, but are stumbling for the moment. During this present time, this Administration of Grace is flourishing.

There is now no nationality preference. All nations are included. Paul gave us another reference regarding Israel’s callousness in part.

“For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

This Scripture says “blindness” in “part.” This blindness is neither complete nor permanent. Paul tells how long this blindness will last. Note the word “until.” It will last only “until” the fullness of the Gentiles is completed. The word fullness means completion: when the completion of this Dispensation of Grace is over or completed, then Israel will regain their sight, and again they will be God’s chosen people.

God will again focus His attention on Israel, His chosen nation. He will be bringing all of His past promises into a realization for Israel, and through them to the nations. Note Israel’s abeyance in Romans 11:26-27.

“So all Israel shall be saved: as it is written: there shall come out of Zion the Rescuer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.”

Then it will not be just a remnant of Israel, but the entire nation shall be saved — from the least to the greatest.

Note another verse:

“As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Father’s sake” (Romans 11:28).

In this verse, Paul says that the gospel is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel had no use for this gospel, and is its enemy for our sake. They are enemies of the cross. God had hardened them as a nation so that they might be set aside for the time being, so that a new administration might be brought in — a new one made for a different people. Paul is writing of the election. Israel was elected as a chosen nation of God generations ago. The promises, which Israel will enjoy, were given to the Fathers of old. God will honor His Word concerning the blessings and position of Israel, who will come to believe on this One, the Lord Jesus Christ, as their Messiah. They will be a spirit-filled people.

The Day of Pentecost

On the Day of Pentecost and the months following, we get a glimpse of the joys and blessings of Israel. The power of God will be operating through the Lord Jesus Christ and the people of Israel on that glorious day. They, once again, will be speaking in tongues (foreign languages) so they can speak to people of all nations. They will tell them of this glorious Savior, Whom they had crucified centuries ago, and Who had been raised by the Power of God. He then will be reigning as King — this One, the Savior of all men — for His death on the cross was for all.

That which was seen in the early Acts period — the Pentecost era — was the time of power and display through the Holy Spirit. This also had become a time of much persecution for those who believed. Many believers fled to Gentile countries to escape persecution because they feared for their lives.

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen, traveled as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch preaching to none but unto Jews only” (Acts 11:19).

There is no record of any of those fleeing Jews ever going to the Gentiles with the gospel of the Lord Jesus, as He had commanded them in Matthew 28:19. Yet here were believing Jews not only going into the land of the Gentiles for refuge, but preaching to Jews only. Nor did the twelve ever go to the Gentiles to preach the gospel. These people were not failing to do the Lord’s will. They knew this commandment was not for that time era, but for the future. They understood the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament; and knew that this was what they would do in the Kingdom. That’s why Peter had a bit of a difficulty with the vision he received regarding Cornelius. He was immediately reprimanded by the brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 11:2, 3). If they were supposed to be carrying out the great commission of Matthew 28:19 at that time, they would have commended Peter. They knew it was for the future.

Peter’s visit to Cornelius was a type of what will take place later for Israel. Cornelius was already a proselyte of Israel and a God-fearing man before Peter went to him. He had been praying and seeking spiritual blessings. Cornelius did what any God-fearing Gentile did at that time: he reverenced this man [Peter] as a Jew, like the Gentiles will do in the millennial reign. Then the Jews again will be the prominent ones.

You may ask why the writer is making a distinction between the Jew and the Gentile, even though Paul states that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile” (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28; and I Corinthians 12:13). Most assuredly, Paul makes it clear that, in the Administration of Grace, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Many Bible theologians believe that this day of Grace takes in all believers of all times: and that Grace annuls the purposes, laws, and precepts of all other peoples and eras in the Scripture: that now all people of all eras are included in this Administration of Grace. Not so!

The Two Testaments

Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the sin sacrifice was replaced by the greatest of all sacrifices: that of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of the Messiah to Israel was part of the Old Testament. The Lord worked many miracles, and as promised in the Old Testament, He was bringing in a New Covenant; but the people, promises, expectations and administrations were still the same as seen in the Old Testament through the Pentecostal era, as seen in Hebrews through Revelation.

Many believe that the change of ages, or administrations, took place at the beginning of the New Testament. They believe that the Old Testament era is past: that we are now in the New Testament era. We are attempting to show that the administration of Grace began when Israel, as a nation, rejected the work of the Holy Spirit in the Pentecost era, as they rejected their Messiah. There were two remnants of Israel who believed when the national rejection took place. One was those believers of the Pentecost era, including the twelve. The other remnant was made up of those Jews who believed through Paul’s ministry according to the choice of Grace. If all believers from Matthew to Revelation were all one in the same body, there would be no need for the distinction that we see in Galatians 2:7-8, which states that the gospel of Paul is for the Uncircumcision and that Peter’s gospel is for the Circumcision.

During the Acts period, the Jews are seen in three factions:

  1. Those of Israel who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, the twelve, and all who were looking for the Kingdom of Acts 1:6. This includes those of Israel who believed during the Pentecost era and their believing forefathers.
  2. Those of Israel who represented the nation of Israel who were the priests and the leaders, and the majority — those who rejected the Messiah and the works of the Holy Spirit. These made up the nation of Israel. They were hardened after rejecting their Messiah three times, thus the blindness on Israel.
  3. The third faction is seen by us as Paul entered each Gentile city. He preached to the Jew first. Thus those Jews, who believed through Paul, became part with Paul.
“Some of them believed and consorted with Paul” (Acts 17:4).

The word “consorted” means to join. These Jews, who believed under Paul’s ministry, were joined to Paul by the Holy Spirit and thus placed into the Body of Christ. Not only was this true in Gentile lands, but Paul preached to every Jew everywhere, giving each another chance.

All of Israel had the opportunity to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah when He was in the flesh: it was them to whom He came. Yet the majority, including the leaders and priests, rejected Him and had Him crucified. They had another chance to repent at Pentecost, through miracles and the preaching of the Word; but the majority again rejected Him, while a remnant of a few thousand believed.

It was this remnant of Israel who was the circumcision, who was of the Acts or Pentecost period, of whom were the twelve. After James’ assassination, they began to die and take their places with the expatriates of Hebrews 11. At this time they are waiting for the promises of the Fathers. They are looking for the time when Israel will once again be in God’s purpose. Then the Prophesies of Daniel regarding the tribulation and resurrection will begin to unfold.

When the angel released Peter from prison (Acts 12:11), he realized that as the Lord had delivered him out of Herod’s hand, thus will He give the expectation to Israel in that it is this remnant who will be the nucleus of the nation of Israel. It is out of this remnant that the nation will develop. To this remnant the Jews from the four corners of the earth will come.

The Twelve will be part of this remnant and sit as the governing force of Israel on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes. That remnant of believers, and events of Revelation 12:6, 14, would have taken place in the Pentecost era. However, God put a temporary hold on this part of His purpose and plan to bring in this present Administration of Grace.

After this era of the Nations is finished and we ascend into the heavens, then Israel will be in the limelight of God again. When Israel rejected the Messiah and persecuted those who did believe, they sealed their doom by this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, just as Paul had done. Thus the nation of Israel was set aside by their God as He turned to the nations with a new era and administration.

Just as Paul received mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ, so every Jew who had been part of the national rejection now would be shown mercy individually according to the choice of grace.

Only Christ; to the Jew First

When Paul preached to the Jews, he presented Jesus as the One Who was promised by Moses and the Prophets of old, as they had foretold of His coming and His death and resurrection.

“None other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer and that He should be first and that He should rise from the dead” (Acts 26:22-23).

In Acts 23:11 and Acts 28:29, Paul is preaching Jesus as the Son of God to the Jews on an individual basis, not as a nation, for he was to preach to every individual. Paul did not preach the Administration of Grace, or the Kingdom message that Peter preached. He presented only those truths about Jesus as the “Son of God” — nothing controversial.

“They neither found me in the temple, disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city” (Acts 24:12).

In Acts 13:16-41, Paul again is seen preaching “Jesus” to the Jews. This time he is at Antioch Pisidia. This is a complete account of one of Paul’s messages to the Jews, and well worth the reader’s time to stop and read it. As one reads this account, it can be noted that Paul neither preached the Kingdom message, nor the secrets of this administration, that he preached to the nations outside of the Synagogue. In the synagogue, Paul presented the Lord Jesus, Who had been dwelling among those in Israel and was crucified, as the One Who would not taste of decay, the one Who would take away all of their sins.

The Kingdom Gospel

When Paul presented Christ to the Jews, he often used Jewish terms and Hebrew Scriptures to convince them of this Jesus, Whom they had crucified, as the Messiah promised by the prophets of old. In each city that Paul entered he first went to the Synagogue, declaring this Jesus to be the Son of God, using the Prophetic Scriptures. While some believed, most did not. Paul turned from those who rejected his message and went to the Gentiles, taking with him those Jews who believed.

Paul did not preach the Kingdom of the Heavens to any Jews. Rather, he preached Jesus as the Son of God. Paul never could have preached the gospel of the Kingdom of the Heavens to anyone. The message that Peter preached — the gospel of the Kingdom of the Heavens — doomed anyone who blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Yet Paul had blasphemed the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom message judged and condemned Paul. So how could he have preached the “Kingdom Gospel” when, within this gospel, there was No hope for him but only curse? God is not the author of confusion, and would not have one to dispense a gospel of which he himself could not be first partaker. Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:6 that

“The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”

No more than an unsaved person can preach the Gospel of salvation, could Paul have preached the same message as Peter. That part of the Kingdom gospel which related to blasphemy was still in operation in the first part of Acts, which was made evident with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Their judgment for blaspheming the Holy Spirit was instant death.

Paul’s Secret

This Administration of Grace was not given to the Twelve, but only to Paul. That is why Paul refers to himself as “first” in I Timothy 1:16. Not only was Paul the first one to be saved in this Grace period, but he was the first one to dispense this new gospel according to grace, as we see in all of Paul’s epistles.

Some theologians claim that Paul preached two gospels, until Israel was set aside — yet, this was not possible! He would not have preached a gospel that he could not partake of first. Also, he himself said he preached the same in every place:

“Of my ways which be in Christ as I teach every where in every church” (I Corinthians 4:17).

Also, in Galatians 1:8 Paul writes that if anyone, including an angel, was to preach any other gospel other than what he preached, that he was to be accursed. Note that word “gospel.” It is singular (i.e., one gospel.) Had Paul been preaching two gospels — the message of the kingdom or circumcision (that which Peter preached) to the Jews, and at the same time preaching Grace which he was dispensing to the Gentiles — then the question is asked, for which gospel would he be accursed? This should, with a little careful study, enable one to realize that Paul was not preaching one thing to the Jews and something else to the Gentiles. Paul was preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified to every man, everywhere. He took all of those who believed to deeper depths and higher heights in the secrets and revelations given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ.

If one was to remove all of the epistles of Paul, and all mention of him in Acts 9 and Acts 13 through Acts 28, from the Sacred Scriptures, then all of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation would flow smoothly together. All have the same purpose and theme for the same people with the same expectation. They relate to Israel and God’s purpose for them. They look forward and relate to the Kingdom of the Heavens. In the eras of these writings the Gentiles do not fill a prominent place. They are as dogs. Their only place is that of a proselyte or guest of Israel, receiving either their blessings or their judgments for the persecution they brought on them; but this is not so in Paul’s writings. Here we see the Gentiles filling a prominent place — with salvation apart from Israel. The Jew is no longer prominent, but a remnant. Nationality is no longer of any importance. Israel’s hope is a Kingdom on earth; our hope is in the heavens.

Interval of the Nations

It has been said that this administration is like a parenthesis in the Scriptures. The name “Paul” indicates an interval, which this administration is. Paul’s name was changed from Saul with no mention of why. Perhaps it was because of Israel’s place as the chosen nation, paused for a time to make room for this economy of Grace, which is an interval in Israel’s time period in God’s purpose. As was already seen, the purpose of the call of Paul was to bear the name of Jesus to every individual (Acts 9:15). Many Scriptures verify this, one of which is Romans 11:13.

“I speak to you gentiles inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles. I magnify my office.”

Paul Separated

Paul was saved and called in Acts 9. He was sent, by Holy Spirit, in Acts 13 from Antioch, outside of the land of Israel. He was separated from the people of Israel in Acts 13 for the work of the Lord. Paul’s separation is seen again in Acts 26:17.

“Delivering thee from the people and from the gentiles, unto whom now I send thee.”

In the Greek (Stephens) instead of the word “deliver” it says “taking out.”

Paul was taken out or separated from both the Jews and the Gentiles to stand alone as the first person in the “New Creation,” being neither Jew nor Gentile. He was separated from all people — as an outsider to them, one of a New Creation — as an ambassador wherein there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 6:15).

Paul’s Commission

There would have been no need for Paul to have been called to carry out the great commission of Matthew 28:19. This was given to the Twelve. They were very active for the Lord in Acts 1:8, with thousands being saved under their ministry and more being added day by day. All were spirit filled and could have gone to the rest of the inhabited earth with the message. It was not necessary that all of the Twelve stay in Jerusalem, sending yet another (Paul) to the Gentiles. If this commission was for that time era, some of the Twelve could, and would have gone to the Gentiles. No! Paul was not called as the 13th apostle, as some would like us to believe. Instead, the Apostle Paul was called as our apostle to bring in a new dispensation to be dispensed to every individual of every nation.

The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 required those who were to carry it out to be baptizing. Yet Paul says in I Corinthians 1:17 that the Lord had not commissioned him to baptize. Also, the Lord Jesus told the Twelve in Matthew 28:19 to instruct the Gentiles of all that He had told them. Paul was never under the Lord’s earthly ministry, so he was not qualified for this. Paul had a commission, apart from that of the Twelve. While there were a few similarities between his commission and office and that of the Twelve, there are as many differences. These are plainly seen as we study Paul’s epistles.

To all of those of the circumcision, the “Hebrew Scriptures” were very important. Every jot, every tittle, and every type meant much to them. We, the gentiles, have become so loose in our study of the Scriptures that we generalize the Word of God. Often we overlook those things that differ (Romans 2:18; Philippians 1:10). Paul not only could not have been saved under the circumcision message; but neither did he qualify to be an apostle of that gospel. To qualify, one needed to be a witness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22). A person is not a witness if they have not seen the event first-hand. So Paul did not qualify.

Different Gospels

Peter’s main theme, as he preached concerning the Lord, was heralding Him as Jesus the Nazarene and as He related to Israel; as He came of the seed of David according to the flesh, before ascending. Paul’s main theme is Christ after His ascension, including His death and resurrection.

Peter preached Christ’s rejection on earth. Paul preached His acceptance in the heavens.

Let us continue the comparison of Peter’s gospel with the gospel of Paul.

They saw that the Gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the Circumcision was to Peter” (Galatians 2:7).

The word “they” in this verse refers to the Twelve, who were apostles before Paul. They recognized that Paul had a message and a commission just for the Uncircumcision, just as Peter and the Eleven had for the Circumcision. The Lord Jesus appointed Peter as the spiritual leader of the believing Jews. Paul was the spiritual leader for the Uncircumcision, appointed by Christ Jesus after He ascended to the Father and was glorified. When we compare Peter’s Gospel with Paul’s, we notice those things which differ.

Paul received the Gospel of the Uncircumcision from Christ Jesus after He ascended and was glorified and seated at the right hand of the Father. The expectation (or hope) of Paul’s Gospel was that of the heavens. Our expectation is going up to be with Jesus. It is a heavenly calling.

We can plainly see that these gospels are two distinct gospels, but have the same source. Both gospels have the same Savior. Both gospels have salvation through the cross. Both center in Christ, but have a different avenue to the cross: one is solely through faith; the other, works mixed with faith. Both have different blessings: our blessings are among the heavens (Ephesians 1:3); Israel’s blessings are on the earth in the millennial reign. Our blessings are spiritual, with a body like His glorious body fitted for the heavens. Israel’s earthly body is fitted for the earth, but beyond the range of death.

Faith vs. Faith & Works

“Ye see then how that by works, a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

James said that one is saved by works with faith. This is correct for Israel, in accordance with the gospel given to Peter. Compare this with that which Paul writes in Romans 3:27-28.

“By what law? Of works? NAY: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Paul said that man is justified apart from works, by faith only.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).

There are many references in Paul’s epistles that disagree with James (see Ephesians 2:8-9; II Timothy 1:9).

We have just seen two different gospels, for two different administrations. The Gospel of the Circumcision or Kingdom — that gospel given to Peter and the Eleven — was conditional. Their salvation is through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the same as ours; but for them, it is not entirely by faith. Their proof of acceptance depends on their works. Retaining salvation also depends on their conduct. Thus James said, “by works a man is justified and not by faith alone.”

Our Hope (Confident Expectation)

On the other hand, our salvation is through “Jesus Christ’s faith” (Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; 3:22); through grace and not of any works of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9)! We have no promises to our forefathers on which to cling. We were without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12); but because of His vast love wherewith He loved us, He extends grace overwhelmingly to each of us — unmerited by us, and not based on promises to our fathers of old.

Grace is gushed on us, in spite of Israel, and surely not because of any acts of our own.

“Not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace” (II Timothy 1:9).

We have already seen the Scriptures relating to the beatitudes of Matthew. Israel’s expectation is the millennial kingdom on earth. Now let us see some verses relating to our expectation, which is not found on the earth, but in the Heavens.

“Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

Our blessings are not earthly, but spiritual. “Every spiritual blessing” not on the earth but “in heavenly places.” Where are these heavenly places? Ephesians 1:20 makes it clear where these heavenly places are:

“Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His Own right hand in the heavenly places.”

We will be in the heavenlies where Christ is, sharing in all of His glories and blessings, of the Heavens:

“If children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

“Hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6).

The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1:5 that we have an expectation in the heavens:

“The hope which is laid up for you in heaven.”

The Body of Christ

We truly have a glorious expectation awaiting us in the heavens. We are members of Christ’s Body. The following references bring out this truth.

“The church [ecclesia] which is His Body” (Ephesians 1:23).

“We are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30).

“Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Corinthians 12:27).

We will not find any other group of believers referred to as the Body of Christ in God’s Word. This term is found in Paul’s epistles only. In the Person of His Son, we are as near to God’s heart as He is. The old creation is passed away. We are not only a new creature, but a new creation, and with Christ as our Head, where there is no Jew and Gentile. All are equal in His person.

The Bride of Christ

In other writings, we find believers referred to as the children of the Bridegroom. Some references that will portray the relationship of Israel to their Messiah during the Kingdom reign, as that of a marriage are as follows:

“I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea I will betroth thee unto Me” (Hosea 2:19).

“Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the Bridegroom mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them?”” (Matthew 9:15).

“He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom, but the friend of the Bride groom standeth by” (John 3:29).

There are many other references, such as Revelation 18:23; 19:7; 21:2; Isaiah 61:10 and more. These portray Israel’s position with their Messiah as His Bride. Is it possible for those of us, who are members of His Body, to be also referred to as His Bride, or as children of the Bridegroom? No. Let us leave that relationship of the marriage union with Peter, James, John and the rest of the Circumcision believers. Let us take the position that belongs to us, which is “Members of His Body.”

These two relationships are two distinct relationships — the Bride, and the Body. In the Kingdom, the nation of Israel will be “married” to Christ and will not be members of His Body. They are bound by promise and conduct. The Body of Christ, however, has a different relationship, with all sustenance flowing through us right from our Head (Christ) completely inseparable. No closer relationship is possible. We have complete security; total dependence on Him. Can we imagine a member of Christ’s Body being amputated? No! We are created in Him.

Differences of Paul

We see many expressions in Paul’s writings which differ from all of the other writers. Where else do we read of a heavenly expectation? Or where do we read of every spiritual blessing in heavenly places? Or of the Body of Christ? Or of justification in its richness; and many more?

The saved of Israel all have a wonderful expectation, with blessings innumerable. They will see multitudes saved, miracles wrought, and the sick and suffering will be healed — in far greater measures than were seen in Acts 1-8. That, in the first part of Acts, will take place in the Kingdom in a far greater measure than can ever be described.

We, too, shall have blessings untold and beyond description in the heavens. Much could be said. Many more references could be presented to show the ever present differences between the gospels of Paul versus Peter. May that which has been presented be sufficient to whet the appetite of the reader, to create a desire to search the Scriptures for further evidence of two different administrations with two different gospels for two different people.

Theologians have been attempting to mix Paul’s writings with those of the rest of the Bible. Many are teaching that all of the Bible and all of the promises in it belong to all of us, while there are others who think that only the entire New Testament belongs to us — forgetting that half of the books of the New Testament are written to and about the Jews and the nation of Israel.

Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” It surely is! Yet, he goes on to say, “and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” This is very true. This does not mean to say that every book is for us today. For instance, Paul said “profitable for doctrine.” Again, true; but true to that people to whom it is written and in each era for which it is intended.

Circumcision is a doctrine installed by God. Yet are we to apply it today? All Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is inspired of God and is profitable for us to read and to study; to learn of God’s attributes: to learn of His patience with Israel: to learn of creation: and to see how God has dealt with mankind since Adam.

We see God’s love and His judgments. We see how God will reconcile the people of the earth to Himself. When men try to mix Paul’s writings with those of the rest of the Bible, we have what we see today: mass confusion and multiple beliefs with churches differing on every corner. Mixing the gospels give place for the Bible critics to say that the Bible contradicts itself — such as “end of the world” and “world without end.”

As said before, those of the Pentecost Period were part of those believers of the Old Testament. The era of the coming of the Messiah in the flesh, the cross, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was all prophesied in the Old Testament. They were carried on through the Pentecost Era until Israel was set aside.

Regardless of which Era or Administration we are, or what blessings, we are promised (that which will be on the earth for Israel, or that which is in the heavens for us) that every saved person from Adam through the end of time all belong to God’s family.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).

We are not part of Israel, nor do we share in their blessings; but all are part of God’s family. We each have our own position in Christ; we each fulfill that place that God has intended and accept the place where God has placed us.

As one studies the four gospels, Jesus is seen in the very precious office or position that He held. It was of extreme importance for the plan of salvation. Then He was in the form of a slave (the lowest of places). It led to the Cross. He was the One (so loved by the disciples) Who blessed the loaves and the fishes. He healed and comforted the sick and the weak, but He also was the One Who was tried by Satan. He was the One Who wept bitterly over Israel. He was the one Who was scoffed at and rejected. Here we see Him on the earth, in the form and likeness of a human, dwelling with an earthly people (those of Israel) to Whom He had come; to the earth where their expectation will be in the Kingdom. Theirs is an earthly hope, not heavenly as ours.

After Christ Ascended

For us: When the Lord Jesus Christ called Saul, He no longer was in the flesh; no longer in humiliation and rejection; no longer on the cross. No! He was resurrected, ascended into the heavens, glorified by the Father and seated at the Father’s right hand. All of this took place before He called Saul and brought in the new administration. He did this from His position in the heavens, where all of the Body of Christ will be going for our blessings. He will be appearing in the clouds to escort us to the heavens.

“Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).

“… He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His Own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20).

We see Him as Paul saw Him: as the exalted glorified Son of God, in an entirely different office. He no longer was in the form of a slave and humiliation as He was when He called Peter.

The Separation of Paul

Paul had been separated from the people of Israel, and from the Gentiles, to stand alone as one of a new creation to bring the gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles. He was apart from all, yet sent to all (Acts 26:17). He was to bring the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was saved outside of the land of Israel, in Gentile country. He was born outside of Jerusalem, in Tarsus, with a Roman citizenship. After his conversion, he didn’t go to Jerusalem to confer with the apostles before him (Galatians 1:17). In fact, he did not go up to Jerusalem for three years after his conversion. Instead he received his instructions, his enlightenment and his gospel by revelation. To verify this and his apostleship for the Gentiles, we will review some passages relating to his position in our effort to introduce Paul for the nations (uncircumcision) as Peter was for the circumcision.

“Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father Who raised Him from the dead)” (Galatians 1:1).

Paul writes that he did not get the gospel by man nor from man. In :12, he said that he received it by revelation. In II Corinthians 12:7, he mentions “abundance of revelations.”

“Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations” (II Corinthians 12:7).

“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12)

Paul makes it known that he had received an “abundance of revelations” concerning the plan and purpose of God and the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is seen in II Corinthians 12:1 that he would be receiving still more.

“I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.”

If Paul’s gospel was the same as that of the Twelve, wouldn’t it have been normal for the Lord to have sent him to Jerusalem to learn from the Twelve the same as the others who were converted then? Paul did not even receive his revelations in Jerusalem, but outside of Israel altogether, in Gentile country. These things were not just happenstance, for this was in the purpose of God. Shame on us when we pay so little attention to all of the little important factors of the Scripture.

Why can’t Bible scholars see a difference here? They can’t see, because they are blinded by tradition! It is so vividly and plainly stated in Galatians 2:7 that there were two different apostles with two different gospels for two different people. If Paul was carrying out the commission of Matthew 28:19 and preaching the same message as Peter, why didn’t the Lord send him back to Jerusalem to learn from Peter?

“Immediately, I conferred not with flesh and blood. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me” (Galatians 1:16-17).

Wouldn’t it have been the normal thing for Saul to have done, on believing, to have gone immediately to Jerusalem to rejoice with those before him, and to learn all that he could of Jesus from those who were apostles before him? This did not happen. The Lord had something different for Saul. He was not going to be part of those at Jerusalem, nor of their dispensation. He was the first of a new era — an all-new dispensation being established. Saul was the first of a new administration of God. Therefore he was instructed to stay in Damascus and Arabia.

The Twelve and their disciples were not a part of this new dispensation. In this new administration, the Jew was not the prominent one. All newly saved people would belong to a Body and be equal in Christ, regardless of their nationality. Israel, as a nation, had rejected their Messiah: both when He was in the flesh as Jesus the Nazarene, and through the preaching of the apostles at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had wrought mighty miracles to portray Jesus as the Messiah; yet they rejected Him completely. They blasphemed the Holy Spirit by their persecution of spirit-filled believers, thus sealing their doom nationally. Because of their heritage and because of the promises to the Fathers, Paul was to take the Gospel to them first — individually, no longer nationally. Because God honors His promises to the Fathers of old, the gospel was to go to the Jew first.

Paul’s Gospel a Mystery

There were some of these Jews from these outlying lands who believed when Paul preached to them about the Christ. It was these Jews (not the Twelve), who had believed through Paul’s gospel, who were then added as members of the Body of Christ. They were members equally with the Gentile believers who also believed through Paul’s gospel.

“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to me” (II Timothy 1:11).

“Whereunto He called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 2:14).

Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25).

Let us note that Paul did not generalize and say “according to the gospel, which I preached.” No! Not at all, but “according to MY gospel” — the gospel which Paul specifically and distinctively received from the Lord Jesus Christ through revelations when he was caught up to the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2). Also, this passage (Romans 16:25) states that Paul’s gospel was about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”

Shouldn’t it be asked, To what mystery is Paul referring? Certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is not a mystery, nor is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ — not at all! Through the entire Old Testament the coming of Jesus has been proclaimed; even where He would be born, and His death and resurrection. Nor was the appointment of Paul to the apostleship a mystery. Again, I say, not at all! Paul is referring to an all-new era, one which was established solely through grace. The Gentiles and those Jews who believed through Paul’s message would be fellow members of one Body — a new creation — a mystery.

This new Administration of Grace is a secret never mentioned in the Old Testament. The prophets had foretold that the Lord would be turning to the Gentiles with the gospel to provoke the nation of Israel to jealousy. Yet it was never mentioned that there would be a very different Administration wherein Christ would be dwelling among the Gentiles, who would be members of His Body, and that all would be apart from Israel.

This mystery of Romans 16:25 was made known through Paul the Apostle. Let us verify this by looking at I Corinthians 2:7-10. This is worth our consideration.

“We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom of God… ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the hearts of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”

We might note that it is established that this mystery (or secret) was ordained before the world began, and that it now has been revealed by Paul the Apostle (:10). This is verified with another passage:

“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself” (Ephesians 1:9).

In this passage, “the mystery of His will” refers to this new Administration of Grace. Paul declares himself and us to be stewards of this mystery. How can one be a steward if it’s a mystery? It is no longer a mystery (secret), but was made known to and through Paul.

“Let a man so account of us as of the mystery of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God” (I Corinthians 4:1).

For me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).

As Paul needed prayer that God would give him the words to speak, and the people to whom to speak, with boldness to declare the gospel, so we need prayer for ourselves to speak forth the Word with all boldness.

There is no hint in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, about this dispensation of grace; there is no hint that the Jew and the Gentile being equal, with Christ living within us and not just with us.

Only Paul Writes of These Truths

We are to be members of Christ’s Body, in spite of Israel; and this is totally unsearchable in all of the Scriptures other than found in Paul’s writings.

“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” (Ephesians 3:8-9).

What are the unsearchable riches of Christ? That we, the Gentiles would have Christ within us, and be seated in the heavens, sharing equally with each other Christ’s allotment and all of His glory. It was a complete secret to Israel that one day they would be temporarily blinded and that God would be turning completely to those of the nations.

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Within the mysteries (secrets) of the gospel of Ephesians 6:19, there are several truths that are not found in any other writings apart from Paul’s epistles, such as:

  • the conciliation of the world (II Corinthians 5:18- 19);
  • justification by faith (Romans 3:30);
  • we, the Body of Christ, are seated among the heavens in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6);
  • We have complete security in Christ (Colossians 3:3; Romans 8:38-39);
  • We are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10);

and many more precious truths that make Paul’s epistles the cream of the Scriptures.

The blessings which the universe longs for are already ours in a display of the vast love of God to us in depths far beyond our greatest comprehension, to be fully realized by us in that day. Paul was the one who was chosen, by the Lord, to be the one to bring this Administration to us (the nations) and to introduce Christ and the untraceable riches to us. He dispensed this Grace and truth, which was hidden but is now made manifest to His saints.

Distinguishing God’s Word

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

We must remember to pay attention to whom Scripture was written, and for what era of time. We should not take and apply Scripture to ourselves unless it is for us. Some Scripture is general and applies to all men of all times, such as the death and resurrection of Christ. However, this is not true of every passage. Take the Psalms, for instance. How often they remind us of ourselves, and many of them speak of our God and His love; but apply them to the Psalmist and Israel.

We cannot claim all of the promises of the Bible as ours. If we do, we could find problems — such as Abraham, who was promised a son. That promise was to Abraham; and not to you. Israel was promised a Messiah to come of the seed of David, from within their own lineage. The Gentiles had no promise of a Savior from their lineage. Israel is promised a Kingdom on earth. The nations are not. We are promised justification; but Israel was not promised this — they were promised pardon, which can be revoked because it is conditional. We could continue.

Mongrel Gospel

Let us divide the Scriptures as the Scriptures themselves do. Paul said he was an apostle to the Gentiles. Let us accept him as our apostle and his writings for us. Let us not take Israel’s promises for ourselves. Paul gives us richer and greater promises that far excel those given to Israel. Let’s not mix the gospels, thus making a mongrel gospel. Compare Paul’s writings with the rest of the Scriptures to see if these things are true.

So much more could be said; so many more references could be given; but it is the hope of this writer that the reader might be encouraged to search the Scriptures to find if the thoughts herein are scriptural.

[Paul] “is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
by Marvin Rice
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