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Paul - Background and Introduction

Overview of the Acts Account (Part 2)

The church that was formed on the day of Pentecost was composed of the people of Israel. There were no gentiles in that throng. On that day 3000 souls were added (Acts 2:41). Many of the dispersion from other lands had come to Jerusalem during that period (Acts 2:9-11). The church grew.

Shortly thereafter Peter and John healed the lame man and about 5000 more believed. And because of the two Apostles preached of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead, the leaders of the nation were angered and threatened them, forbidding them to preach of Jesus Christ.

But the Apostles continue to preach the resurrected Christ. "And by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the peopleā€¦" (Act
5:12). "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" (Act 5:14). However persecution intensified.

Throughout the Acts period the 12 Apostles preached the Gospel of the
kingdom of God. The twelve were sent to the Circumcision. The message was rejected by the majority of the Israelites. They went to their designated spheres because of the character of the commission under which they acted. This kingdom message is specifically designated "the gospel of the Circumcision" (Gal. 2:7), because it primarily concerns the preparation of Israel, as a nation, for possessing the kingdom. Their rejection resulted in the postponement of the kingdom (the Millennium) until a future time.

Romans11:25 (KJV) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

The gospel for the circumcision waned weaker and weaker throughout the Acts period. The time had come for the Apostle Paul to preach a gospel designed for the gentiles since the Israelites had rejected the kingdom offer.

Environment and Calling of Paul (Saul)

He was born in Tarsus, the principal city of Cilicia and thus had the right of Roman citizenship (Acts 21:39; 22:25-29) Born in approximately 1 A. D. (Acts 7:58; Philemon 9). He was born to Hebrew parents, of the race of
Israel, the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5). Though born in Tarsus he had been schooled in Jerusalem. He must therefore, have been yet a boy when was relocated, in all probability for the sake of his education, to the holy city of his fathers. His training was in accord with the Hebrew Scriptures and the strictest sect of the Pharisees (Acts 26:4, 5; Phil. 3:15). He was taught by Gamaliel, son of Simeon, who was the great grandson of the renowned Hillel (Acts 22:3). Saul is first mentioned at the stoning of Stephen, where he sanctioned his murder (Acts 7:58; 8:1).

Saul was called by Christ about two years after Pentecost, 32 A. D., while on his way to
Damascus to persecute the saints (Acts 9:1-61).

The rulers at
Jerusalem employed this one man, Saul, to stamp out of the land this heresy, that is beginning to gain ground among the common people. They give him authority, as he was the right man for the job. And off he goes on this errand of murder. Saul was drawing near to Damascus where he was determined to deal very harshly with the followers of Messiah. Suddenly, more than the brightness of the midday sun, a light from heaven flashes around him.

Act 9:3 (KJV) And as he journeyed, he came near
Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth,...

God does not strike him dead, although he has committed sin worthy of death. Proud arrogant Saul lay prostrate in the dust. He now had all that vanity knocked out of him, no longer full of self-esteem and self-worth and sees himself as nothing.

Act 9:4 ... and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 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.
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

The conversion of Saul is one of the most incredible events of Christianity. It demonstrates the power of God's grace and mercy. Before his conversion he was a fierce adversary of the church. He had the fervour to wipe out those who would leave the Jewish faith and follow the Saviour. His conduct called not for mercy, but for swift, severe, judgment by God. His heart was full of threats and murder against the disciples of Jesus (Acts 9:1-2). He was proud and self assured that he was doing the right thing.

The call of Saul is an incredible exhibition of God's grace on record in the sacred Scriptures. Never before was favour granted to one who deserved nothing but the utmost condemnation. Saul's calloused, defiant, rebellious heart is captivated by this display of remarkable grace, and responds to this overwhelming favour shown by Christ with faith and love toward Him.

1:14 (KJV) And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

1:14 (CLV) Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

Thus, neither feeling his need, nor seeking for the Lord's favour, Saul of Tarsus is conquered and saved by the exhibition of the Lord's grace and glory, and so becomes a pattern in this age for those who are believing in Him for salvation.

1:16 (KJV) Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

1Tim 1:16 (Emphatic Diaglott) but through this I received mercy, that in me first might show forth Jesus Anointed the all forbearance, for an example of those being about to believe on him for life age-lasting;

The Advancement of God's plan

The call of Saul marks a significant advancement in God's plan and administration described in the book of Acts. His separation to be the apostle of the nations, to proclaim the evangel of God, is a truth not well known by many, nor recognized and fully appreciated as it should be. We need to recognize that Paul (Saul) is the chosen instrument of God, called, separated and commissioned as the apostle, herald and teacher of the nations (gentiles) in knowledge, grace and truth.

Paul's message incorporates faith and grace and negates the emphasis on works and reward.

In this era, the epistles of Paul give us more enlightenment than the gospel taught by the 12 Apostles. We find as we read Paul's epistles, there is a gospel taught by Paul for the gentiles/nations and a separate one that was taught by the 12 Apostles to Israelites and proselytes.

Gal 2:7 (KJV) But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.

There is a gospel of the circumcision and a gospel of the un-circumcision. Notice that the word "of" is used in describing the relationship, and does not say "to". If the gospels were identical they would be described as the "gospel to" and not the "gospel of". Thus the use of the preposition "of" is defined as "belonging to, relating to, or connected with." This grammatical distinction can be found at:

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This indicates that the gospels were NOT identical. Not at all. There is the gospel for the circumcision (nation of
Israel) and an expanded for the Uncircumcision (gentiles/nations). Why?

The gospel that Christ and the 12 Apostles proclaimed concerned the establishment of the
Kingdom of God, and was primarily focused on the people of Israel and proselytes (converts to Judaism). The gospel that Paul preached and wrote about concerned the message of God's grace to all mankind.

Here are a few scriptures among others that tell us of the unique calling and commission of Paul:

Acts 9:15 (KJV) 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 13:2 (KJV) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

The Apostles were called in the
land of Israel. Saul (Paul) was called outside the land. The Apostles were taught by Christ when He was on the earth, Paul by the risen Christ from Heaven.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to illustrate that Paul is the chosen instrument of God, called, separated and commissioned as the Apostle, herald and teacher of the nations in knowledge, grace and truth.

The gospel that God commissioned Paul to proclaim brings to us glorious revelations of God's truth that was not known prior to Paul's calling. Paul's epistles apply to us today.

If we eliminate Paul's epistles from the New Testament then we find an aching void in the continuity of Scripture truth Apart from Paul's letters we know absolutely nothing of God's program for the current era since the close of the Acts period. Without his letters we lack the bridge that crosses the gap between the early church that was formed at Pentecost which waned and the kingdom that is to be - the Millennium.

Next we examine Paul's progressive revelation and the gospel for today.

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