Paul the Apostle

Including: The Life & Work of Paul

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Paul (Saul of Tarsus) to the development of Christianity in the first century. He wrote 13 epistles that comprise almost one fourth of the New Testament.

Approximately 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts (13 - 28) focus on his missionary labours. Thus Paul is the author or subject of nearly one third of the New Testament and the most important interpreter of the teachings of Christ and of the significance of His life, death, and resurrection.

When Christ intervenes, you can be assured of a profound change in your life, and your family; and for the better too.

 

Early Life and Training AD 1-35

Birth and family background

Paul was born into a Jewish family in Tarsus of Cilicia

 

Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the Law of the fathers, and was zealous towards God, as ye all are this day.

 

Probably sometime during the first decade of the first century. According to Jerome, Paul’s family moved to Tarsus from Gischala in Galilee. Paul’s family was of the tribe of Benjamin, and he was named for the most prominent member of the tribe – King Saul

Pharisee (Hebrew פְּרוּשִׁים pĕrűšîm, pl. of פָּרוּשׁ pārűš, meaning “set apart”)

 

Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eigth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.

 

Paul probably came from a family of tent makers or leatherworkers and, according to Jewish custom, was taught this trade by his father. Apparently the business thrived, and Paul’s family became moderately wealthy. Paul was a citizen of the city of Tarsus, “an important city”

 

Acts 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophecy.

 

According to one ancient writer, the property qualification for Tarsian citizenship was five hundred drachmae, eighteen months wages.

 

Roman Citizenship

More importantly, Paul was born a Roman citizen. Early Christian tradition preserved by Jerome and Photius stated that Paul’s parents had been carried as prisoners of war from Gischala to Tarsus, enslaved to a Roman citizen, then freed and granted citizenship.

Regardless of how Paul’s parents received their citizenship , the book of Acts state three times that he possessed it, and his citizenship was accompanied by important rights that would benefit him in his missionary labours.

 

·        The Roman citizen had the right of appeal after a trial,

·        Exemption from imperial service,

·        The right to choose between a local or Roman trial,

·        Protection from degrading forms of punishment like scourging.

 

Most people who claimed citizenship were trusted since the penalty for impersonating a Roman citizen was death.

 

Rabbinic Training

Acts 22:3 above shows that Paul grew up in Jerusalem, using this fact to prove that he was not a Diaspora Jew, (scattered, dispersed) but was more influenced by Gentile culture than Jewish ways. He was educated in Jerusalem in the Jewish religion according to the traditions of his ancestors. The Mishnah (The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah")

Taught; “At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years for the Mishnah, at thirteen [for the fulfilling of] the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud, at eighteen for the bride-chamber, at twenty for pursuing a calling, at thirty for authority.”

This is probably a fairly accurate description of the regimen of training that Paul experienced.

Acts 22 says that Paul was trained by Rabbi Gamaliel 1st, the member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in;

 

The imprisonment of the apostles

 

Acts 5: 30-39

30. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

 

In the Greek N.T. two words are used for “the cross”. On which the Lord was put to death.

·        The word stauros; which denotes an upright pale or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution. (tree)

·        The word xulon, which generally denotes a piece of a dead log of wood, or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose. It is not like dendron, which is used of a living, green tree, as in Matt 21:8, Rev 7 1, 3; 8.7; 9.4; etc.

 

As this latter word “xulon is used for the former stauros”, it shows us that the meaning of each is exactly the same. The verb stauros” means to drive stakes.

Our English word “cross” is the translation of the Latin word crux; but the Greek wordstaurosno more means a crux than the word “stick” means a “crutch”. Which is true; but, Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber, not unlike a modern telegraph pole today, to which the Romans would nail another; much smaller, piece of wood near the top stating the perpetrators name and crime. http://thewordsofeternallife.com/cross.html 

 


Matthew 27:37 And set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 

 And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone.

Hence the use of the word xulon (No2 Above) in connection with the manner of our Lord’s death, and rendered “tree” in Acts 5,30; 10,39, 13,29;.This is preserved in our old English name rood, or rod. See the Encycl Brit., 11th cam Edition Vol 7, page 505d. There is nothing in the Greek of the N.T even to imply two pieces of timber.

 

Where did the cross come from, then?

J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, p.45, aptly summarizes it,

"Cross--A universal symbol from the most remote times; it is the cosmic symbol par excellence." Other authorities also call it a sun-symbol, a Babylonian sun-symbol, an astrological Babylonian-Assyrian and heathen sun-symbol, also in the form of an encircled cross referred to as a "solar wheel," and many other varieties of crosses. Also, "the cross represents the Tree of Life, the age-old fertility symbol, combining the vertical male and horizontal female principles, especially in Egypt, either as an ordinary cross, or better known in the form of the crus ansata, the Egyptian ankh (sometimes called: the Tau cross), which had been carried over into our modern-day symbol of the female, well known in biology.)

 

31. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

 

32. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him.

 

33. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

34. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, but in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space. (Put out of court)

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35. And said unto them, “Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

36. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many obeyed him, were dispersed.

38. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

39. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply (By chance) ye be found even to fight against God.”

 

Gamaliel was a leading Jewish teacher in Paul’s day. The Mishnah mentions Gamaliel 1 frequently and expresses many of his opinions. Gamaliel 1 was listed among 13 great Rabbis whose deaths marked the decline of Judaism. “When Rabbi Gamaliel the elder died, the glory of the law ceased and purity and abstinence died.” The passage implies that Gamaliel was renowned for his high moral standards as for his interpretation of the Scriptures.

Paul quickly excelled as a Jewish rabbinical student, and as Paul says in

 

Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

 

Paul again identifies himself with the sect of the Pharisees. His father had also been a Pharisee.

 

Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. Straitest = (strict, as in requirements or principles)

 

Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. (Judged)

 

Acts 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

 

Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer Paul: for as thou has testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also of Rome. 

 

Persecution of Christians

As an ideal Pharisee Paul was probably active as a Jewish missionary winning a Gentile as proselyte ("stranger", i.e. a "newcomer to Israel)

He may have been like the Pharisee whom Jesus described that travelled “over land and sea to make one convert”

 

Matthew 23:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle Him in his talk.

 

Paul’s words “if I still preach circumcision” may allude to his past as a Jewish missionary.

 

Galatians 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross (His death) ceased.

 

Paul, more than his mentor Gamaliel, recognised the serious threat that the followers of Jesus posed to the traditional Jewish religion. The Mishnah taught that a Jewish male was ready for a position of authority at the age of 30. Thus Paul was probably in his thirties when he, with authorisation from the chief priest, began to imprison believers first in the synagogues of Jerusalem, and then later in Damascus.

Perhaps Paul’s clearest description of persecution is found in;

 

Acts 26:9-11

09. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth

10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

 

“I myself supposed it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus the Nazarene. This I actually did in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. In all the synagogues I often tried to make them blaspheme by punishing them.

Being greatly enraged at them, I even pursued them to foreign cities. “Some believe this reference is casting a vote (literally “casting a pebble” – black for no or white for yes) implies Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin.

However, it is difficult to imagine that Paul would not have explicitly stated this, especially on those occasions in which he highlights his devout Jewish pedigree.

Most commentators thus take the statement as a metaphor implying that Paul consented to the execution of believers, or suggest, at the very least, that he was a member of a committee appointed by the Sanhedrin and vested with this authority.

Metaphor = a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g. “her eyes were like glistening diamonds.”

Paul’s initial and adamant rejection of Jesus as the Messiah may largely have been motivated by Jesus’s ignoble death. Death by nailing to a tree was indicative of divine curse.

 

Deuteronomy 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury Him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

 

Certainly the Messiah could not have died under the curse of God. But when Paul wrote his first epistle, this death curse was recognised as the grounds for substitutionary atonement.

 

Galatians 3:10-14

10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.

12. And the law is not of faith: but, “The man that doeth them shall live in them.”

13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree:”

14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

 

In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul explained that the idea of a Messiah, who was nailed to a tree, became a stumbling block to Jews.

The reason the "Preaching of Christ who was nailed to a tree" like a common criminal, was a stumbling block to the Jews of that day, It was because they were looking for signs that would tell them who the Messiah was. When Jesus walked the earth performing miracles, like healing the sick, raising the dead, and teaching with authority, these were signs of the Messiah written in scripture, but, because Jesus did not fit their criteria, the Jews could not and would not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

 

The Jews I am talking about are the unbelieving Jews; there were a lot of Jews that did believe Jesus was the Messiah. The unbelieving Jews knew that the scripture said the Messiah would have His own Kingdom, but they thought He (Jesus) would come and overthrow the Government of Rome. They (Jews) pictured Him as the Warrior King, and never realized that scripture revealed Jesus as coming to save mankind from sin;

 

·        By dying for us.

·        Rising from the Dead, (Resurrection)

·        Ascending to Heaven,

·        Setting up His Spiritual Kingdom,

·        Sitting on the Heavenly Throne with God the Father,

·        Waiting for the appointed time for Him to return to gather His people to Him, and reign on earth as King.

 

These unbelieving Jews were without excuse for not believing John; Jesus told them,

 

John 5: 39-40

39. Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.

40. And ye will not come to Me that ye may have life.

 

The Religious Leaders knew what the scriptures said but failed to apply its words to their lives. They knew the teachings of the scriptures but failed to see the Messiah (Jesus) to Whom the scriptures pointed. They knew the rules but missed the Saviour. Entrenched in their own religious system, they refused to let the Son of God change their lives, and still await His first coming. What a shame, none are as blind as those who will not see.

Even today they do not trust the New Testament.

 

Paul’s Conversion

While Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest and imprison believers there, the resurrected and glorified Christ appeared to Him with blinding radiance. Christ’s words, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” indicate that God had already begun His convicting work earlier.

Like an ox kicking against a prick (stick) in the hands of the ox driver, Paul had been resisting divine guidance and leadership resulting in his own harm and pain. At the appearance of Christ, Saul immediately surrendered to His authority and went into the city to await further orders. There his blindness was healed; he received the Holy Spirit, and accepted believer’s baptism. No doubt Ananias shared with Paul the message that the Lord had given him in a vision:

 

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, “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.

 

Acts 9:5 (KJV) And he said, “Who art thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

 

This one little extra phrase that the Lord says to Saul tells us a lot of background information. "Kick against the pricks" is a term that would make immediate sense to Saul, though to us it makes no sense. This is a term that refers to herding animals. When you want a cow or a donkey to move you would poke it with a stick, called a prick. When the animal resisted by kicking against the prick it meant the animal was resisting the motivation to move, and to us meant digging your heals in. What this phrase reveals is that the Lord was already trying to work on Saul's heart but Saul was being stubborn.

 

Paul’s Gospel

 

Paul’s gospel indicted all humanity for the crime of rejecting God and His rightful authority. Under the influence of Adam’s sin, mankind plunged into the depths of depravity so that they were utterly unable to fulfil the righteous demands of God. (Rom 1:18-32; 3:9-20; 9:12-19) and deserved only the wrath of God (Rom 1:18; 2:5-16) the sinner was alienated from God and at enmity with Him.

 

Colossians 1: 21-22

21. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled,

22. In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.

 

 Consequently, the sinner’s only hope was the gospel which embodied God’s power to save those who had faith in Christ,

 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

 

The focus of Paul’s gospel was Jesus Christ,

 

Romans 1: 3-4

3. Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.

4. And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead:

 

Paul affirmed Jesus’ humanity and His deity, because Christ was a physical descendant from the line of David,

 

Rom 1:2 (Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures)

 

He came in the likeness of sinful man,

 

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

 

And had assumed the form of a humble obedient servant.

 

Philippians 2:7-8

7. But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Stake)

 

Yet He was the visible form of the invisible God,

 

Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature.

 

It was all the fullness of deity living in bodily form and very nature of God; who is God the Father, and The Son is our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.

 

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He Which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

 

And possessed the title “Lord” (Greek title for the God of the O.T.), the name above all names,

 

Philippians 2:9-11

09 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given him a name which is above every name.

10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Paul believed that by virtue of His sinlessness, Jesus was qualified to be the sacrifice which would make sinners right with God.

 

2 Cor 5:21 For He hath made him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

 

Jesus’ death became the curse for sin.

 

Galatians 3: 10-14

10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:

11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the “just shall live by faith”

12. And the law is not of faith: but, “The man that doeth them shall live in them.”

13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree:”

14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

 

And the righteous died for the unrighteous.

 

Romans 5:6-8

6. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7. For scarcely for a righteous man die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8. But God commendeth His love toward us, In that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Verse 7 is quite poignant (deeply affecting: touching) In that it is rare to see a righteous man die, as Christ did for us, yet it may be possible that a good man would even dare to die for His Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, we will shortly see.

 

Salvation is a free gift granted to believers and grounded solely in God’s grace. Salvation is not dependent upon human merit, activity, or effort, but only upon God’s undeserved love.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

08. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

09. Not of works lest any man should boast.

10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Those who trust Jesus for their salvation, confess Him as Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead.

 

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

 

It will be these; who are saved from God’s wrath, and become righteous in God’s sight.

 

Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through him.

 

Adopted as God’s children,

 

Romans 8:15-17

15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.”

16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

 

And transformed by the Spirits power

 

Galatians 5:22-24

22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.

23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

 

At the coming of Christ, believers will be resurrected (1 Cor 15: 12-57), and will partake fully of the Son’s righteous character.

 

Philippians 3:20-21

20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, (different) emulations, (imitation) wrath, strife, seditions, (rebellion) heresies, (A heresy is a deviation from the truth.)

21. Envyings, murder, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

And they will live forever with their Lord.

 

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

By his union with Christ through faith, the believer participated spiritually in Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.

 

Romans 6: 1-7:6;

1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3. Know ye not, so many of us that were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death.

4. Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.

5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection:

6. Knowing this, that our old man (The Flesh) is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7.  For he that is dead is freed of sin.

6. Repeated: Knowing this, that our old man (The Flesh) is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

 

SIN (THE OLD MAN NO LONGER HAS DOMINION).

Sin not to reign in the mortal body

The members, therefore, not to be surrendered as instruments of unrighteousness

The members to be surrendered to God as instruments of righteousness

Sin not to Lord it, because we are no longer under law but grace

 

Romans 6: 12-14

12. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13. Neither yield (present) ye your members as instruments (weapons) of unrighteousness unto sin.

14. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

 

At the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall lose our mortal bodies and become immortal. Since flesh is sin it cannot inherit immortality. Therefore whilst we are in this sinful body, and before Christ arrives; we must make every effort to rid ourselves of the lusts of the flesh.

 

Eph 2:4-5

4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,

5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, (by grace ye are saved);

 

Consequently the believer has been liberated from the power of sin, death, and the Law. He is a new, though imperfect creation that is continually being made more Christ like.

 

Colossians 3: 9-10

09.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.

10.  And have put on the new man, which is renewal in knowledge after the image of Him That created him:

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

Although the believer is no longer under the authority of the written law, the Holy Spirit functions as a new internal law which leads him to naturally and spontaneously fulfil the Law’s righteous demands.

 

Romans 8:1-4

1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

As a result, the law-free gospel does not encourage unrighteous behaviour in believers. Such behaviour is contrary to their new identity in Christ. The union of believers with Christ brings them into union with other believers in the body of Christ, the church. Believers exercise their spiritual gifts in order to help one another to mature, to serve Christ, and glorify Him, which is the churches highest purpose.

 

Ephesians 3:21 Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

Ephesians 4:11-13

11. And He some, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and some teachers;

12. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

 

Christ now rules over the church as its head, its highest authority.

 

Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church.

 

When Christ comes again, His reign over the world will be consummated and all that exists will be placed under His absolute authority.

 

Philippians 2: 10-11

10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.

 

Ephesians 1:10 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.

 

He will raise the dead unbelievers for judgement and punishment; and believers for glorification and reward.

 

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

5. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.

6. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

7. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,

8. In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power;

10. When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

 

 

Philippians 4:20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The Life & Work of Paul

Paul’s Conversion. To Jesus, the Law of Moses was only a special form of God’s covenant with Abraham on the basis of faith or confiding trust, a form not expressing Jehovah’s full purpose of grace, but only so much of it as Israel was morally ready to receive at the time it was given through Moses.

Jehovah. While Elohim is God as the Creator of all things, Jehovah is the same God in covenant relation to those whom He has created (Cp. 2Chron. 18:31). Jehovah means the Eternal, the Immutable One, He Who WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME. The Divine definition is given in Gen. 21:33. He is especially, therefore, the God of Israel; and the God of those who are redeemed, and are thus now "in Christ". We can say "My God," but not "My Jehovah", for Jehovah is "MY God." http://levendwater.org/companion/append4.html

 

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, “Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:”

 

Matthew 19:8 He saith unto them, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

 

He read it ever in its spirit, in the light of its most general principles, which he saw in the great precept, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…and thy neighbour as thyself”: on these given principles “Hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Such discrimination (Discrimination is action that denies social participation or human rights to categories of people based on prejudice) of relative values in the Law struck at the legal principle in its use, which assumed that each clause was binding in itself. On this principle Pharisaism rested; and it was a true instinct which had led its sons to feel that it and the prophet of Nazareth could not live side by side. Hence Christ was a judgement between two radically contrasted principles and spirits in religion. For the moment it seemed that Jesus and His gospel of Jehovah’s character and inner purpose of love, as the standard by which His Law was to be read, were condemned as blasphemous by Jehovah’s own verdict through the highest authority in His Holy People. But when it appeared that Jehovah’s judgement had really vindicated Jesus, on the apostolic testimony to Him as risen; and when the quality of the new life visible in the fellowship based on faith in Him seemed to confirm that testimony, the problem of Gospel versus Law, in the sense of Pharisaic legalism, pressed urgently for a solution.

The simple minds of the disciples of Jesus, who had never been legalists at heart, though deferential (submissive) to “the wise” or teachers of the Law, and whose consciences had responded instinctively to their Master’s attitude towards it in practice, did not feel the problem acutely at first as a matter of theory.

It was only when they were confronted by the cases already referred to, when the spirit of the Messianic Kingdom http://godsplan.org.uk/messianicage.htm was conferred apart from formal acceptance of the Law through circumcision—men being brought by Divine act within the covenant simply by faith in Jesus as Jehovah’s Messiah—that it came home to them practically, and demanded action which meant Yea or Nay to the Divine leading manifest in such facts.    

“Who are we that we should resist God?”  were the words in which they yielded to the logic of Divine fact; although, as this course of events proved, with tacit reservations greater or less, according to degrees of prior sympathy with legalism in theory.

But it was otherwise with Paul, or Saul, as he is first called in the narrative of Acts. Although born outside Palestine, at Tarsus in Cecilia (Northwest of Antioch, the great capital of the Roman province of Syria and Cecilia), and actually a Roman citizen by inheritance from his father, he had been reared in a Pharisaic home, and later was trained as a rabbi at the feet of the famous Gamaliel in Jerusalem. “As touching the righteousness (rectitude = rightness of principle or conduct; moral virtue) which is in the Law, found blameless,” is his own verdict on his life at that time. But while such was the outer aspect of his state, his inner experience was one of profound dissatisfaction and unrest, owing to conflict between desire and outward conduct. The moving record of this division of soul, impulse, and conscience being at war stands written in Roman’s 7, a psychological picture not surpassed in power and insight by the similar and longer self-analysis in Augustine’s confessions. The gist of it is this:

The Divine Law, sounding “Thou shalt not” in his heart when desire prompted him toward indulgence of “the flesh” or sensual principle, in some form or other, brought “sin in the flesh” to conscious light; nay, more, it also aggravated it psychologically, by making more self-conscious sin’s rebellion to the Law of God, which the reason of “the inner man” itself recognised and rejoiced in, as “holy” and “good.” That was a terrible paradox; but its full misery lay in this, that the Law thereby proved in the sinner’s experience not the means of deliverance or salvation which Pharisaism assumed it to be, but, rather, the means of deeper condemnation for his complicity with “the Law of sin,” in the flesh. That is, the holy Law given by God to be “unto life,” did in fact, owing to the pathological condition of man as he is, work unto death. The result, then, of Saul’s passionate effort to reach this peace of conscious harmony with God’s will by the aid of God’s Law was summed up in the despairing cry, “Who shall deliver me” out of this dreadful impasse due to the power of sin in the flesh? And the one answer he found in the end was this: “Thank God, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

However; the struggle through which this was reached was a tragically acute one, both for himself, and for the People or Church of Christ.

For Paul was not the sort of man to yield easily, even when he felt the inherited belief on which he stood giving way beneath him. He had leaned the whole weight of his soul’s concern for acceptance with God upon the Law; and once he realised it was failing him he no doubt struggled hard to save the situation. It was probably at this point that the church’s testimony to Jesus as, “Saviour of his people from their sins” struck into the course of his soul’s experience. We cannot be sure whether he had himself seen and heard jesus in the flesh, although there is some reason to think that he had.

 

2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore [why] henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.          

   

As a Pharisee he would in any case fiercely resent Jesus’ attitude toward the Law; and he must have accepted Jesus’ condemnation by its guardians as God’s judgement on him as a blasphemer. The very form of His death would be to Saul a confirmation of this; for did not the Law declare, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree”? Hence when the bold argument of Stephen, the cultured Hellenistic Jew, against his fellow Hellenists—some from Saul’s synagogue, if not Saul himself—brought Him to martyrdom, Saul indirectly participated.     

 

Acts 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

 

Indeed, we can well imagine him finding vent to his own restlessness, due to the Law’s effect on himself, in such zeal against One who treated it only as a transient phase of God’s dealings with his People—one who declared the time to be near when God should dwell with his People in another and more real way than in the Temple made with men’s hands, with which much of the Law was bound up. But if so, his zeal brought the young Pharisee no relief: rather, the memory of Stephen’s peaceful death in the spirit of his master did but add to the impression produced on his subconscious by the joyous and loving life of the fellowship of Jesus’ disciples. Hence he plunged in deeper into repressive acts against those who impugned the immutability of the Law given through Moses; for how could Divine Law be other than absolute and final to the last jot and tittle?

The assumption that no relative element can exist in anything that has Divine sanction; would be, excluding though it does, room for the progressive revealing action by the Holy Spirit, as Stephen urged once and for all, must be duly noted as that which underlay Paul’s action. Paul’s error, as he found it to be on this point, and an abiding problem in the philosophy of religion, may remind us from the first of the universal interest of his religious development. On the road to Damascus he was in fact agitated by the problem touching Jesus and the Law, as alternative forms of God’s self-revelation. This was involved in Jesus’ claim to be, after all, in spite of the crucifixion, as God’s Messianic Son.      

Certain elements in Jesus’ teaching and character as forced on Saul’s attention by the confirmatory fact of the life of His followers, based on faith in Him as approved of God by restoration to personal activity after death, kept plying his soul with pricks of conscience. This seems implied by the words “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou Me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”—like an ox against the guiding hand of its master.

 

Acts 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

 

With Paul too, as with the older apostles, the solution came by the logic of the facts  in the first instance: the knot was cut by the sword of the Spirit, rather than untied. The Lordship of Jesus as verily God’s Messiah was brought home to his immediate spiritual intuition in a way that virtually settled this issue between two alternate forms of God’s self-revelation, along with other vital issues then preoccupying his soul. By an experience, the outer and temporary form cannot and need not be defined, “It pleased God to reveal His Son” in the earnest and sincere Pharisee, with a self-evidence which he could never thereafter doubt. Jesus was seen on His own merits as “Son of God,” the image with human form of the invisible God, and for that reason as possessed of an absolute Spiritual authority over the conscience. So his filial (befitting a son) type of devotion to the heavenly Father was the very essence of real obedience—that of the undivided will of the inner man—and became the standard by which the legal type of obedience, which did not unite the heart in complete loyalty, must be judged, not vice versa. In a word, Jesus’ holiness was one in the Spirit, even when not in the letter also; and He Himself was the inspirer of the similar free loyalty in others, as a “life giving Spirit.”

 

2 Corinthians 3:6, 17

06 Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

 

1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/firstandsecondadam.htm 

 

II Paul’s Gospel. The Law and Christ Crucified. Such being Paul’s line of approach to Jesus as the Christ, two things from the first marked his special apprehension of the Gospel:

1.      A clear sense that it superseded the Law in principle.

2.      Bound up with this, a new emphasis on the crucifixion.

Hitherto, the crucifixion had been regarded simply as due to Israel’s sinful un-readiness to accept such a Messiah as Jesus, and as the means of bringing it to heartfelt repentance on this issue, and so to forgiveness of sins. But Paul saw it as having a deeper meaning in relation to the kind of righteousness which was truly well-pleasing to God. Such righteousness was non-legal in quality, resting on a right attitude of soul toward God—the filial one—and not on merit acquired by human effort or “works,” i.e., obedience to specific precepts. it was the “righteous ness of God” as provided by God’s grace in the gift of His Son and appropriated by the pure receptivity of faith, as personal trust or reliance upon God’s grace in Him. Such faith was akin to that of Abraham. By it he became a “friend of God” and the recipient of the covenant of faith, to which the Law was added only later, in consequence of Israel’s un-readiness to live on the level of its forefathers’ more personal type of religion. “The righteousness in Christ” (i.e. union with Christ), as distinct from the law of Moses, was thus continuous in principle with that enjoyed by Abraham.

What then of the authority of the Law? And how was transition from its jurisdiction, now seen to be an episode in the Divine Dispensational Plan for training the People of God, http://www.godsplan.org.uk/dispensationalplan.htm to come about without the Law seeming to be set aside arbitrarily or to be belittled even in its Divine aspect? That the Law in its Mosaic or legal form as “letter” commanding form outside, rather than as “Spirit” or internal inspiration to the will, had in fact proved unable to “make righteous,” Paul himself had proved by his own experience. Only Spiritual union with Christ had availed to free him from “The law of sin” working *In the flesh.” “For what the Law could not do in that it was weak (ineffective) through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin (or to deal with sin), condemned sin in the flesh: that the ordinance (or righteous intent) of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk…after the Spirit.

 

Romans 8:3—4

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.      

        

Such was Paul’s joyous experience of the fact that Christ had proved strong where the Law had proved weak (ineffective), namely, in bringing sin’s usurping to the judgement of death in His own Person, in that He at the crucifixion “died once for all to sin,” and so proved its sway to be an illegitimate one .

 

Romans 6:7, 10

07 For He that is dead is freed from sin.

10 For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.  

 

As a result, it was possible for those united with Christ as Lord to share His death to sin, which was practically one with its death as lord over the human will.

 

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

However; Paul goes further than this He relates Christ’s crucifixion to the |Law, not only along this line of profound religious experience, or moral mysticism, but also along another, in which it has been and is harder for most to follow his thought. To him however; there was a link between the two, in the fact that the Law in one aspect, namely, its human or psychological effect, is closely bound up with the very quality of sin as conscious, and so the more sinful, being now rebellious against the will of God Romans 7:7—25.   

 

Romans 7:7—25

07 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

08 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. [eager desire] f For without the law sin was dead.

09 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

That being so, it is needful in a sense to “die unto the Law” also—as having legal claims on one—by union with Christ, in order to be joined to Him in His new life not only of freedom form sin’s power to tempt into further sin toward God.

 

Romans 74--6

4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

Compare Romans 6:10-23

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

But also of emancipation from the realm of Law altogether, as the form in which God’s will is done. “For I through the law” writes Paul (Galatians 2:19 Forward) “died unto the Law, that I might live unto God”—on a new plane of motive and with a new type of obedience, i.e., the filial (relating to, or befitting a son). “I have been crucified with Christ [unto the Law]; yet I live [unto God]; and yet no longer I; but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh [here on earth] I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me”—and in so doing has inspired the believers with a new principle of obedience, namely, love as the motive power by which faith takes effect. Galatians 5:6 “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word (or end), even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:14

 

Galatians 2:19--21

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

 

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

 

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

 

The Christian Salvation and the Saviour.