The Apostle Paul Part 2

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In part one of this study we set the foundation and built the framework for our understanding of why Paul is given prominence within new testament scriptures.

We have also explained the context for the necessity of this study.

In this part we will explain who Paul was before his conversion, who he became after his conversion, and what he means to the body of believers in general.

To begin with, there are three major factors which separates Paul from the other of Christ's disciples who later became His apostles (the 12):

1) Paul did not walk with Jesus while He was in the flesh.
2) Paul was a Pharisee.
3) Paul was privately taught by the glorified Christ.

Now I would like to note here that I am in no way giving the teachings of Paul preeminence over that of any other apostle and I am certainly not giving him preeminence over the teachings of Christ.

I am giving him what he rightly deserves!

Who Was Paul before his conversion?

(Php 3:4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

(Php 3:5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

(Php 3:6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

(Php 3:7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

(Php 3:8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

The apostle Paul was, for all intent and purposes, the anti-Christ of his time!

In his own words Paul writes that he was of the circumcision, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin:

In the Blessing of Jacob, Benjamin is referred to as a ravenous wolf; traditional interpretations often considered this to refer to the might of a specific member of the tribe, either the champion Ehud, king Saul, or Mordecai of the Esther narrative, or in Christian circles, the apostle Paul.  Some traditional interpretations of the Blessing consider the ravenous wolf to refer to the Temple's altar, as simile in regard to the heavy presence there of biblical sacrifices. Some scholars believe that it instead originates from the tribe having the figure of a wolf in its standard.

Paul continues to proclaim himself a Hebrew of Hebrews, as touching the law a Pharisee, and concerning his zeal in persecuting the church blameless because he was righteous under the law.

To this very day you would be hard pressed to fond a biblical scholar who would not agree that Paul was one of the most brilliant minds of his time and Paul himself would be in agreement.

Paul was so confident in himself, in his intellect, knowledge and wisdom, (his flesh) he wrote that if any man thought that he had confidence in his own flesh because of what he knew, Paul had more confidence.

Paul was a zealot in his persecution of the church and he was quite good at seeking out and tracking down believers.

The Commission of Paul

(Act 22:13) Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

(Act 22:14) And 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.

(Act 22:15) For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

(Act 22:16) And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

(Act 22:17) And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;

(Act 22:18) And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

(Act 22:19) And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

(Act 22:20) 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.

(Act 22:21) And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

With regard to the question to Paul's apostolic equality, as compared to the apostles who were Christ's disciples during His earthen ministry, there is no question that Paul was likewise taught by Jesus and Commissioned by Him and is subsequently, at the very least, their equal.

What is important to note here is that albeit Paul was indeed a ravenous wolf, and that he commuted far greater atrocities against God and His church than any of the other apostles, God used him to evangelize to more people, people from one end of the earth to the other, than any of the others.

Why is this an important point?
Because if our Father could use Paul for ministry, He can use any one of us!

The Template of Paul

Albeit true that over the course of our sanctification we are being transformed into the image of our Lord Christ Jesus, from faith to faith and glory to glory, a midst all others, save Christ Himself, Paul is the template, he is the pattern, for all born again believers!

(Joh 20:29) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

And yet (kai). Clear use of kai in the adversative sense. Thomas made a noble confession, but he missed the highest form of faith without the evidence of the senses. Peter (1Pet 1:8) uses language that seems like a reminiscence of the words of Jesus to Thomas which Peter heard.

If Paul was so blessed by God, having actually heard the voice of the Lord, how blessed are we who have received Him without audibly hearing His voice or visibly seeing His form?

Yet, what makes Paul stand out among the rest of Jesus's apostles, that which makes him more of a template than the others, is that each one of Jesus disciples, who later became apostles, saw Him, walked with Him, ate with Him, slept with Him, were taught by Him, and prayed with Him, in the flesh, while Paul spent three years with Him doing all of these things in the deserts of Arabia, in the Spirit!

(Gal 1:15) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

(Gal 1:16) To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

(Gal 1:17) Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

(Gal 1:18) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

(Gal 1:19) But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

(Gal 1:20) Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Is this not the way God called us?

Did He likewise not call us by His grace?  Did He not call us out of our mother's womb (out of our flesh and into the Spirit) to reveal His Son unto us when it pleased Him to do so?

There are so many Christians who are deceived and credit themselves for their decision to receive Christ when it is God Himself who calls us when it is His good pleasure (will) to do so.

Being Called By Grace

Who separated me (ho aphorisas me). Aphorizō is old word (from apo and horos) to mark off from a boundary or line. The Pharisees were the separatists who held themselves off from others. Paul conceives himself as a spiritual Pharisee “separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1, the same word aphōrismenos).

How did God separate Paul from his former self?
Through His Grace!

Grace - χάρις - charis - graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)

We spend most of our lives separated from the grace of God.  In fact we spend most of our lives in overt rebellion against Him, and at enmity with Him.

Then one day we make the decision to receive Him.  Why?
Because of His divine influence on our heart!

I have spoken to more than a few theologians about this and for some strange reason, reasons that they themselves can not express very clearly, they tend to reject the idea of this divine influence on our hearts moving us toward repentance and even that it has a profound effect in our walking within the will of God.

Now I know that I do not have a PhD or a degree in any of the theological disciplines, in fact I have absolutely no formal training and can't wright to save my life, but I can't for the life of me understand why these people are so afraid of this doctrine.

(Luk 10:22) All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

If NO ONE knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him, then only the Father can reveal the Son unto man!

(Mat 16:15) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

(Mat 16:16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

(Mat 16:17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Therefore, if the Father reveals the Son unto us, and the Son reveals the Father unto us, what do we have to do with it other than to hear it?

And if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Christ Jesus) (Rom 10:17) what part do we have in obtaining faith other than receiving it?

And if by grace we are saved through faith (Eph 2:8), what part do we have in obtaining grace other than to receive it?

And if grace is a divine influence on our heart, then what part do we have in obtaining that influance other than to receive it?

(Joh 1:15) John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

(Joh 1:16) And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

(Joh 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

(Joh 1:18) No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

What does grace for grace mean?

grace for grace (charin anti charitos).  The point is in anti, a preposition disappearing in the Koiné and here only in John.  It is in the locative case of anta (end), “at the end,” and was used of exchange in sale. 

An old testament example of this phraseology can be found in Exo 21:24; "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth"

See Luk 11:11, anti ichthuos ophin, “a serpent for a fish,” Heb 12:2 where “joy” and “cross” are balanced against each other. 

John is balancing old covenant grace for new covenant grace!

Both the old and the new covenant grace both imply the "graciousness" of God, but the divine influence on the heart is absent from old covenant grace because that grace (and truth) "came by Jesus Christ.

How do we know this to be true?

Because the divine influence on the heart leads us to true repentance!

Under the old testament grace was there any real repentance?
No, the people continued in their sins exponentially!

Did the people under old covenant grace have a change of heart towards God?
No, they constantly murmured and rebelled against Him!

Under the new covenant grace is their true repentance?
Yes, because of the divine influence on our hearts we desire to sin less and less every day!

Do the people under new covenant grace have a change of heart towards God?

Yes, we give Him thanks and praise in the bad as well as the good and our new nature is to do those things which are pleasing to Him even if they are not pleasing to ourselves!

What was it that happened to Paul in his conversion?

(Php 3:7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

(Php 3:8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

(Php 3:9) And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

(Php 3:10) That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

(Php 3:11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Because of the divine influence on his heart he had a change of heart!

He now counts that which he held in the highest of esteem, those things that he had the most pride in, the things of the flesh, as dung, and all that now matters to Him is, to win Christ, to be found in Christ, to truly know Christ!

Instead of trying to get something out of grace (the graciousness of God towards him), he was responding to what God had done for him with grace (graciousness toward God).  Grace for Grace!

Glory to God!

This brothers and sisters is why Paul is the template that will lead us into becoming the image and likeness of our Lord.

Our Lord Jesus showed us who we are and what we should be, but Paul shows us how to get there, and what to expect along the way!

In the book of Romans, for example, we can watch Paul as he battles against the flesh and watch him mature in his faith and holiness.  In the letters to the Corinthian church we can know what to expect within our own church and through Paul's teachings, how to overcome those things.

You see, without Paul we are, in a manner of speaking, stuck in place.  We know where we are supposed to go but we do not really know how to get there.  When we stumble and fall, we do not always know exactly why we did so, and Paul helps us up, and puts us back on track.

But as Paul always says, it is not he who is doing it, it is Christ in him doing it through His Holy Spirit.

And like Paul, it is not us who is doing anything that pleases our Father, it is Jesus within us doing it through us!

Be Blessed

The Apostle Paul Part 2

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