We sat down recently with the apostle Paul and discussed a number of subjects with him. Paul spoke openly about his life, his ministry, the impact of his teachings, and he also discussed his concerns for the Church in the 21stcentury.
Interviewer: So Paul, you had quite a life. Tell us a bit about your story.
Paul: Thank you. I grew up in Tarsus, in Cilicia, located in what is now called south central Turkey. I was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin (Phil 3:5) and named Saul, after Israel’s first king, who was of my tribe. I also was born with Roman citizenship, a benefit which would save my life (Acts 22:25-30). I demonstrated academic promise and was sent to Jerusalem to study to be a Pharisee under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of the great Hillel (Acts 22:3).
Interviewer: How did that go? Were you a good student?
Paul: Yes. I excelled. I became a member of the Council as soon as it was possible and advanced in Judaism above my peers (Gal 1:14). I was (smiling) a “rising star.”
Interviewer: You were present when Stephen came to trial before the Sanhedrin?
Paul: Yes. That was quite a day. Stephen gave a brilliant summary of Israel’s history. He knew his Tanakh and one could not but be impressed with him. We killed him. I stood by the robes of those who stoned him (Acts 7:58).
Interviewer: How did you feel about that?
Paul: I applauded it at the time (Acts 8:1). I was nothing short of zealous to uphold the Law.
Interviewer: Was this action legal?
Paul: No. As Dr. Luke recounted, we were enraged. But blasphemy was punishable by death. The Council would have convicted Stephen. It was easy to rationalize our actions.
Interviewer: So you were ok with that action?
Paul: Definitely. I was committed to destroying those following Jesus of Nazareth, all those of “the Way” (Mt 16:18, Lk 12:32, Jn 14:6, Acts 19:9, 23, 22:4, 24:22). I broke into their houses, imprisoned, tortured, and killed them.
Interviewer: Did you confine your actions to Jerusalem?
Paul: Initially, yes. But I had a burning zeal for our traditions. I went to the high priest and requested documents to authorize me to pursue followers of the Way beyond the borders of Israel. Once I obtained those letters I left for Damascus.
Interviewer: How did that journey go?
Paul: Not as I expected. (laughter)
Paul: As I neared Damascus – it was about noon – an intense light shown around me – so bright it dimmed the sun. I fell to the ground and heard a voice speaking to me in Hebrew which said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” I replied, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ The voice replied, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” The Lord continued, “Rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Interviewer: That’s amazing. What happened next?
Paul: I was in shock. I couldn’t see – I was blind.
Interviewer: What about those who were with you? How were they affected?
Paul: They saw the light, but they were not blinded. They heard the sound of a voice but did not understand it. Since I was blind, they led me to Damascus to a house on Straight Street owned by a man named Judas. I was blind for three days. I did not eat or drink. All I could do was pray. While in prayer, I had a vision – a man named Ananias came and laid his hand on me to give me my sight (Acts 9:11-12, 22:6-11).
Interviewer: So did what you saw in the vision actually happen?
Paul: Yes. While I was recovering, the Lord also appeared to Ananias. He told him about me, where I was, and to come to me.
Interviewer: Did Ananias come?
Paul: Yes, but later I learned it was not without protest. He knew of my reputation for ruthlessness. Ananias objected, saying, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord calmed Ananias’ fears and said, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). Ananias obeyed the Lord and came to the house.
Interviewer: Then what happened?
Paul: He placed his hands upon me and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Ananias then said, “Brother Saul, receive thy sight.” When I looked upon him he said, “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:17-18, 22:13-16).
Interviewer: Amazing. What happened next?
Paul: It certainly was amazing. As soon as he spoke, I regained my sight and then I went to be baptized. After this, I ate and began to regain my strength. While recovering, I visited with others who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and I told them what had happened. When my strength returned, I went to the synagogue and proclaimed that Christ was the Son of God (Acts 9:20, cf. Jn 1:49, 11:27, Mt 26:63-64).
Interviewer: That must have been a shock!
Paul: Quite. Those who heard me could not believe that they were hearing Saul of Tarsus uttering these words. They said, “Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Because of all this, the Jews confronted me. They were what I had been just a few days before. When I showed them from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, they were confounded (Acts 9:20-22).
Interviewer: The Lord has quite a sense of irony. After this happened, did you go to Jerusalem and consult with the Twelve?
Paul: Well, it is logical to think that this would have been the first thing I did, but God had other plans for me. He sent me to Arabia – to the desert – to Sinai, where Moses had received the Law (Gal 1:16-17, 4:25). The risen Lord isolated me from the Twelve. He had a totally different purpose for me. He began to reveal to me what being “the apostle of the Gentiles” meant (Rom 11:13). After I received His instruction, I left Arabia and returned to Damascus.
Interviewer: What did you do there in Damascus?
Paul: I continued to teach in the synagogues. The Jews could not refute my arguments so they plotted to kill me. I had become Stephen. Fortunately, I learned of this plot and escaped at night with the help of the disciples. They lowered me down the city wall in a large basket.
Interviewer: More excitement for you!
Paul: Well, yes, but even more was to come.
Interviewer: What happened next?
Paul: I went to Jerusalem. I wished to fellowship with the believers there. But they were afraid of me and doubted that I was a believer. Barnabas, however, believed me and took me to those who had believed in Christ and described how I had seen the Lord on the road, that He had talked to me, and how in Damascus I had spoken boldly in His name (Acts 9:26-27).
Interviewer: Did you meet with the Twelve?
Paul: Only Peter. I also met James – the Lord’s half-brother. I stayed with Peter fifteen days (Gal 1:18).
Interviewer: What did you do while in Jerusalem?
Paul: I proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. The Hellenistic Jews opposed me and tried to kill me (Acts 9:29). One day, while praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord saying to me, “Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” I protested saying, “Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” But the Lord said, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:17-21). It took me a long time to learn the truth of His words. I loved my people. I thought, if I, Saul of Tarsus, could be changed, they could be changed also. Surely they will listen to me! It was not to be, however.
Interviewer: So how long did it take to learn that truth?
Paul: It took a long time. I did not appreciate it fully until the Lord imprisoned me in Rome (Eph 3:1, 4:1). Luke recorded our missionary journeys in Acts and my priority of going to Jews first with the gospel. When they rejected it, I would turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:13-47, 18:5-6, 28:17-29). I resisted God’s warnings about going to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23, 21:4, 7-14) and got into trouble, just as the Holy Spirit had warned. To save myself from being killed by the Jews, I had to use my Roman citizenship and appeal my case directly to Caesar (Acts 22:22-29, 25:11). The Roman commander moved me from Jerusalem to Caesarea to foil another plot of the Jews to kill me. I was imprisoned there for two years and during that time I met Governors Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. Finally, they sent me to Rome for my appeal to the Emperor. During the voyage, a terrible storm arose. It wrecked our ship but the Lord was with us and we lost no lives. When I arrived in Rome, I immediately met with the Jews – my final meeting with them. It became clear, just as the Lord said, that they would not listen (Acts 28:17-29). This was in about 61 A.D. For the next two years I was under house arrest (a rented house) as Rome’s prisoner. During this time, I spoke with many of Caesar’s guards. Several came to know the Lord (Phil 4:22). Sometimes they wondered who was the prisoner. (laughter)
Interviewer: Can we talk about your teachings?
Paul: By all means. The Lord revealed to me doctrines, which I termed “mysteries” or “secrets” (μυστήριον). I designated them so because that is what they were. The Lord had not revealed them to Israel’s prophets, nor to the Twelve (Acts 3:21 vs. Rom 16:25). He also had kept them hidden during His earthly ministry. They were revelations the ascended Lord revealed exclusively to me.
Interviewer: What were these secrets?
Paul: One was the gospel of the grace of God – that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (Acts 20:24, Gal 1:11-12). Another was salvation by faith alone – believing the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for our justification (1 Cor 15:1-4, Eph 2:8-9).
Interviewer: Peter and the Eleven did not know this gospel and salvation by faith alone?
Paul: No. Peter and the rest preached the gospel of the kingdom, which had begun with John the Baptist. That gospel focused upon the identity of Christ – who He was – the Messiah, the Son of God (Jn 8:24, 9:35, 20:31, 1 Jn 4:15). They looked for the establishment of the prophesied kingdom of God on earth, with Christ ruling as King (Lk 1:31-33, Mt 6:10, Acts 1:6). All the prophets to Israel spoke about this and the Twelve were taught by the Law and the prophets. I received my gospel directly from the risen Lord (Gal 1:11-12). It focused upon His work – that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. The faith aspect of the gospel of the kingdom was in believing that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (Mt 16:16, Jn 1:45-51, 3:16-18, 11:27, 20:30-31, Acts 2:21, 8:37). But in addition, that gospel also required repentance, keeping the Law, and water baptism for the remission of sins (Mk 1:4, 16:16, Lk 10:25-28, Acts 2:38, 15:1, 5). My gospel (Rom 2:16, 16:25, Gal 2:2, 7, 2 Cor 4:3, 2 Thes 2:14, 2 Tim 2:8) requires but one thing: trust in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Peter preached the Lord’s death, he did not preach it as good news but as a Jewish crime (Acts 2:22-24, 3:13-15). He demanded the nation repent of it (Acts 2:36-38). For Peter, the significance of the Lord’s resurrection was that He, Jesus, could return and establish His kingdom on earth – if the Jewish people would repent (Acts 3:19-20, 25-26). The gospel the Lord gave me proclaims His death and resurrection as good news (1 Cor 15:1-4). I, and those who follow my teachings, glory in the cross (Gal 6:14) and Peter didn’t do that. In fact, he tried to stop the Lord’s crucifixion (Mt 16:22, 26:51, Mk 9:31-32, Lk 9:44-45, Jn 20:9). My gospel is a gospel of grace and faith alone (Rom 1:16-17, 3:22, 26, 28, 4:5, Eph 2:8-9, 1 Cor 15:1-4). The Twelve had no idea that Christ’s death and resurrection would pay for the sins of the world and that through Christ’s completed work on the cross, God would reconcile the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:14-21). If the Twelve, or anyone else for that matter, had known that mystery truth before Christ’s death and resurrection, it never would have happened since Satan would have then known what God’s plan for salvation was (1 Cor 2:7-8). This truth remained hidden until the glorified Lord revealed it to me (Acts 26:15-17). Through the manifold wisdom of God, the Twelve learned this truth from me (2 Pet 3:15-16).
Interviewer: Wow. That certainly is not what most people have been taught for the last two thousand years.
Paul: Well, that’s not my fault (smiling). I wrote these things in my letters. They are there for anyone to read. People just need to read my letters and not allegorize them. In my first letter to Timothy, I wrote that I was the first (πρῶτος), God’s prototype or pattern (ὑποτύπωσις), for those who would follow in this new salvation (1 Tim 1:15-16). To the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, I expressed this truth with an illustration of architecture. I wrote them, “as a wise master-builder, I laid the foundation” (ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων θεμέλιον ἔθηκα). The foundation is Christ Himself, specifically His work on the cross and His resurrection. The Church, the body of Christ, is the creation which came into being based on His death and resurrection. The Lord also revealed to me many other truths He had kept hidden.
Interviewer: What were those truths?
Paul: Well, in addition to what we have already discussed, one was the Church, the body of Christ, in which those who believe my gospel become members of His body. No difference exists between Jew and Gentile in this relationship (Gal 3:27-28), this new creature (Gal 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17). This was unknown to the Twelve. In fact, as late as Acts chapter 10, Peter was still identifying himself as a Jew (Acts 10:28) and did not understand that there is no Jew or Gentile in the body of Christ (Rom 10:12, Col 3:11, Eph 2:14-15).
Interviewer: Peter didn’t know about the Church, the body of Christ? Some teach that the Church came out of Peter.
Paul: Well, no one thought so in my day, especially Peter. Peter knew nothing of the Church. Peter and the rest of the Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles. Peter, James, John, and Jude wrote to Jews and never mentioned the Church, the body of Christ, within their letters. Peter left Jerusalem to visit Cornelius only through direct communication and prodding from the Lord. And after he returned, the believing Jews in Jerusalem upbraided him for having gone (Acts 10-11). God designated me as the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom 11:13) and designated the Twelve as apostles of Israel (Mt 19:28, Gal 2:7-9). The ascended Christ revealed to me, not Peter or the other apostles, the secret of the Church, the body of Christ (Eph 3:2-7, 1:22-23, Col 1:19, 1 Cor 12:12-27, Gal 3:28).
Interviewer: So you are saying that the Church did not begin at Pentecost?
Paul: Read Luke’s account. What is the definition of the Church, the body of Christ? It is that body in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. Who did Peter address at Pentecost? Jews or Gentiles? He addressed Jews. Pentecost, or the Festival of Weeks, was a Jewish feast day, held 50 days after Passover. Peter called on the Jewish nation to repent from the murder of the Messiah (Acts 2:5, 14, 22, 36-39). If this was the birth of the Church, why did Peter not address Gentiles? We find the same thing in Peter’s second sermon, in Acts 3. He addressed Jews only (Acts 3:12, 25). Throughout his messages, he quoted the prophets. The Jewish prophets meant nothing to Gentiles. If the Church came into existence at Pentecost, why did no evangelism of Gentiles occur? Read the Scriptures. Peter and the Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles.
Interviewer: Few seem to recognize and teach what it is that you are saying. What else can you share with me?
Paul: The Lord revealed to me that when one believes my gospel he is identified in Christ’s death and in His resurrection (Rom 6:3-5, 8). This identification is the basis of our hope of resurrection and the key to victory in the Christian life (Rom 6:6-7). Peter and the other apostles knew nothing of this identification truth – of believers being baptized and identified in His death and resurrection.
Interviewer: Other truths that you can share with me?
Paul: Several more. The Lord revealed that the one who believes my gospel is under new administration: Grace, not Law (Rom 6:14). God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, not to Gentiles. The Law’s primary purpose was to condemn and to reveal sin. It had no power to make one better. Peter and the Eleven continued to practice Judaism under the Law of Moses. They knew nothing of a new administration of Grace, which replaced the Mosaic Law. Peter finally understood at the Council of Jerusalem that through my gospel one is saved by trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection alone, apart from the works of the Law. Once he saw this, he sided with me (Acts 15:7-11) and the gospel of the kingdom was officially placed on hold until a future time (Mt 24:14).
Interviewer: So are you telling me that the Law was bad?
Paul: Heavens, no! The Law was holy, righteous, and good (Rom 7:12). The problem was not with the Law, but with us. This is another truth the Lord revealed to me alone. The nature we inherit from Adam cannot keep the Law. I learned this truth through hard experience and wrote about it in Romans chapter 7. When the Law encounters our fallen, Adamic nature it excites sin. It does so because our fallen nature, which I also called the flesh, is in rebellion against God (Rom 7:8, 11, 21, 23, 25). To counter this and to conform us into the image of Christ, God has given us a new nature (Rom 7:22, 2 Cor 5:17) and has placed us under the administration of grace (Rom 6:14). By this arrangement, we can more ably obey Christ. This new relationship operates through faith, hope, and love. The love of Christ constrains us (2 Cor 5:14) and through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit, God transforms and sanctifies us to Himself (Rom 8:29) in a way the Law never could (Gal 5:16-26). We are to “reckon” or “consider” (λογίζομαι) ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Rom 6:11). This is an act of faith and the key to sanctification and living the Christian life.
Interviewer: What about national Israel? What is their future? Do they have a future?
Paul: Oh yes! God’s covenants and purposes for Israel will be fulfilled. When God establishes a plan and makes a promise, He keeps it (Rom 11:29). At present, national Israel is blind. God also revealed this secret to me and I wrote about it in Romans chapters 9 through 11. When God called Abram, He began a new program. He laid the foundation for the creation of the Jewish people. He revealed Himself to them and gave them covenantal promises. God promised that they would become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6, Is 61:4-6). He promised they would become the preeminent nation upon the earth and that He Himself will reign as their King and rule the earth (Deut 28:1, 13, Zech 14:9). But at the present time, they are blind (Rom 11:7-8). God removed them (actually they removed themselves by rejecting Him) from the place of blessing and placed Gentiles into that position. But God will reestablish them into the place of blessing in the future (Rom 11:11-12, 25-27). One day, Israel will recognize Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. They will repent and be saved (Mt 23:37-39, Zech 12:10-14, 13:6, Rom 11:26). The prophecies and all of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled for sure. But this cannot occur until the Lord removes the Church, the body of Christ, from the earth (Rom 11:25-26). Knowing what the Lord revealed to myself, I can assuredly state that the future for Israel is bright!
Interviewer: That explains why there is so much anti-Semitism in the world, but what do you mean by “removes the Church?”
Paul: Well we can bring this interview towards a close by discussing this secret – what I labeled as the believer’s great hope (Titus 2:13) – the return of the Lord and the resurrection of our bodies. Unfortunately, people get confused about the subject of the Lord’s return. The Lord revealed to me information concerning His return for His Church, the body of Christ. This return was a secret and an entirely different event from His return which the prophets taught and which He taught during His earthly ministry. That return, the Second Coming, will occur at the end of the Tribulation period. The purpose of His Second Coming is to deliver Israel and the nations. The return the Lord revealed to myself comes before the Tribulation period. The Lord will deliver the Church from His wrath (1 Thes 1:10, 5:9). This return was secret (1 Cor 15:51-52). The Rapture and the Second Coming are separate events and cannot be harmonized. The word translated “Rapture” comes from the Greek word ἁρπάζω and I used it when I taught the Thessalonians this wonderful truth (1 Thes 4:13-18). It means to seize or to snatch away forcibly, which describes what the Lord will do for believers – He will snatch them from the grave and from their mortal bodies and transform them to have resurrection bodies. In my follow-up letter (2 Thessalonians), I wrote to correct the false teaching that the persecution that that church was experiencing was the Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, that the prophets spoke so much about. Within that letter, I used the word ἀποστασία for “Rapture.”
Interviewer: Can you say a bit more as to why it is you used that word? Snatch away from what?
Paul: Jewish theology has two great themes: One is the kingdom of God on earth, in which Christ will rule and Israel will be supreme among the nations, and the other is the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord encompasses a long period. It begins with the seven-year Tribulation period and continues to God’s creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth. But most of its focus in Scripture is upon the Tribulation period – when God will exercise His wrath upon the earth. The Tribulation period is often referred to as Daniel’s 70thWeek and David was the first to write about it in Psalm 2 – which is a short course and summary of Jewish theology. But before God pours out His wrath upon the earth He will remove His body, the Church. No believer of my gospel will experience the judgments that God pours out during those seven terrible years. I taught the Thessalonians this comforting truth and used ἁρπάζω to describe how the Lord will “snatch away” believers to meet Him in the air before He begins to pour out His wrath. This amazing truth means that one generation of believers will not experience physical death. I had hoped to experience this myself, but had no idea that the Lord would extend His program of the Church for so long. I used ἀποστασία to correct the false teaching that the Thessalonians had received – one that made them believe that they were experiencing the Tribulation. Believers will depart (ἀποστασία) before the Antichrist, the Beast, is revealed (2 Thes 2:1-3). Believers in my gospel will experience none of the events describe in Scripture concerning God’s coming wrath.
Interviewer: Why do so few know these things? Why is there so much confusion?
Paul: There are several reasons for that. The primary reason is the failure to recognize the vast differences in my ministry against that of the ministry of Peter and the Eleven. Put another way, God’s program for Israel versus God’s program for the Church, the body of Christ. When one reads my doctrines and the secrets that the Lord revealed to me – secrets or mysteries concerning God’s program for the Church – and they read those into His covenantal program for Israel, the result is confusion. The two programs are entirely different and cannot be mixed together. If they are, confusion will always result. I dealt with this issue regarding the gospel at the Council of Jerusalem in 51 A.D. Fortunately for all of us, God had prepared Peter for that battle long before, when He commanded him to go to Cornelius’ house. Through that experience, Peter was able to grasp what I was saying and he was able to come to my aid within the Council. Beyond justification, on the matter of the believer’s sanctification, I wrote the whole book of Galatians. The Galatians were influenced by the Judaizers and were being taught that believers of my gospel had to obey the Mosaic Law. They were abandoning my teachings of grace and placing themselves under the Law. They wrongfully thought that they could be conformed into the image of Christ through the Law. Well I fought that battle, but I had very limited success. In fact, one could say I lost all of Asia in the end. I had spent so much time and effort there – in Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Iconium, Derbe, Lystra, Antioch Pisidia – in the end, it appeared that I had lost them.
Interviewer: You lost them? What do you mean?
Paul: Yes. It was a bitter pill to swallow and it was heart-wrenching to see so many believers abandoning their freedom in Christ and the truths of grace for the yoke of the Law. I wrote Timothy of this great tragedy (2 Tim 1:15, 4:14-16). The syncretism in Christendom today – the mixing of Law and Grace, conflating God’s program for the Church and His program for Israel, failure to distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming, not understanding salvation by faith alone from salvation by faith and works, thinking God has replaced Israel with the Church, believing that Peter and I preached the same gospel, teaching that Peter and the Eleven ministered to Gentiles – I could go on and on – all of these false teachings have their roots in the battles that I fought during my lifetime. Confusion results from failure to understand the Scriptures – to understand my letters – to see the fact that God saved and commissioned me as THE apostle of the Gentiles and that with me He began an entirely new program, the Church, the body of Christ.
Interviewer: Thank you, Paul. This is sobering. It also serves as an encouragement for us to concentrate on your letters for Church doctrine and for each of us to study the truths that the Lord revealed to you and you alone. A final question: what are your thoughts concerning the Church in the 21stcentury; what concerns do you have?
Paul: My primary concern would be that those who call themselves Christian don’t actually read the Bible for themselves. If they do, they certainly don’t read it literally and they have been taught to spiritualize what it is that Scripture actually says. For example, to not recognize that the four Gospels are Jewish is a form of blindness. No formal Gentile ministry exists within the four Gospels. Furthermore, no Gentile ministry existed among the Twelve, even after the Lord’s resurrection. For centuries, the four Gospels have been a staple in every church’s teachings. I certainly wrote that all Scripture is “God-breathed” and profitable, and that includes all of what is called the Old Testament, but just because all Scripture is profitable and FOR the Church does not mean that all Scripture is written TO the Church. Most today claim that the Church, the body of Christ, began in Acts 2 at Pentecost. If the Church began in Acts 2, why is it that so many who preach and teach in churches today go to the four Gospels to get their doctrine? The Church didn’t exist in the four Gospels! Apostasy began in my day. Apostasy has always been one of my concerns. As I said earlier, all turned away from me and my teachings at the end of my ministry (2 Tim 1:15). Our Lord used me as the foundation for what is known as Christianity and despite my teachings and my epistles, I lost so many to legalism and to the syncretism of my Pauline truth to what is teachings for other administrations and to those who are not part of the body of Christ. I wrote specifically to the Galatians to try and turn them from this poison within the Church. Despite their immediate response, they too ended up turning from grace and from my teachings. That is largely the situation that exists today within Christendom. Today, 90% of churches spend 90% of their time within the four Gospels. They do that without acknowledging the fact that what is recorded within the four Gospels is Jesus’ earthly ministry to Israel (Mt 2:6, 15:24, 5:17, Rom 15:8, Jn 1:11, Gal 4:4-5, Lk 4:43). My doctrine for the Church is hardly taught in most churches. I was used as the founder of the Church, but most people today are clueless about this truth. Christendom has stolen what pertains to Israel, the promises made to Israel, and it has incorporated it into Church doctrine. That is why so much confusion exists. So my concerns are not new. I warned that wolves would enter the Church and that they would confuse my clear teachings (Acts 20:29, Col 2:8, Rom 16:17-18, 2 Cor 11:13-15, 2 Tim 3:5-7). They existed during my ministry and they are all around us today. Despite all that, I am eternally grateful for God’s love and grace. I was so misguided before the Lord ‘arrested’ me on the road to Damascus. I thought I was doing God’s will, but in reality, I had become a religious monster. Despite all that, God showed His love for me. He chose me (Acts 9:15) and He commissioned me to reveal His grace and the revelations that He had kept secret – to all – Jews and Gentiles (Rom 16:25-26, Col 1:24-28, Eph 3:9-12). God chose me to be to the Church what Abraham and Moses were to Israel. My greatest concern is for those without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life. God wishes all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Christ has done all the work and has made salvation so simple. One need only trust in His finished work – His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4). Living the Christian life is not easy. But God has provided freedom in Christ. Peter noted at the Council of Jerusalem that the Law was a burden, a yoke around one’s neck (Acts 15:10). And it was – I know that first hand. I was a Pharisee, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, but those who believe my gospel are under grace and not under the Law. They are free. God has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us and we are filled with the Spirit when we read and study His Word. Oh that Christians would actually read their Bibles and study to show themselves approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15). As we came to life by faith, we are to live by faith. Well God is Life and the more we trust Him the more alive we become. He is our blessed hope – and He is coming – soon!
This fictional interview serves as a vehicle to present Paul’s life and doctrines. Luke’s account in Acts is distinctly Jewish and differs in emphasis from Paul’s letters. Luke’s audience was Jewish and Luke wrote to explain Israel’s fall from God’s favor and why it was that the kingdom of God did not come. Paul’s letters primarily addressed Gentiles. Paul’s letters contain all Church doctrine – doctrines that the risen Lord revealed to Paul for the Church, the body of Christ.
Acknowledgment of Original Source:
©2015 Don Samdahl @ http://www.doctrine.org
Don’s note within his original post reads: “Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.”
This version of Don’s original post, titled “A Conversation with Paul,” has been modified.