Paul, Not Peter
Significantly, it was to Paul, not Peter, that “the MYSTERY [secret] of the gospel” was first revealed. It was he who was first sent forth to proclaim the doctrine of salvation, and to reveal all that had been accomplished at Calvary.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward [for you Gentiles, v1]: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words, Ephesians 3:1-3 (KJV)
“And for me [Paul], that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery [secret] of the gospel, Ephesians 6:19 (KJV)
The Old Testament Scriptures had predicted that the sins of others would be laid upon Christ, but they had not explained how Christ’s death would be the basis for the sinner’s justification.
Many a criminal has gone free because his crimes have been “pinned on” another, but this has by no means justified the criminal! Some sincere Christians seem to think that substitution is the very peak of Bible truth, when in fact it is but the beginning, for substitution in itself does not imply the sinner’s justification.
It is also true that salvation had been offered before Paul. Men were told what to do to be saved — though the terms of salvation varied from time to time (in all the dispensations)— and were even instructed, upon Christ’s arrival, to believe in Him for salvation. At that time sacrifices, circumcision, water baptism, etc., were still required for the remission of sins — and any believer would approach God in His way. This is why these religious rites were observed throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry and even through Pentecost.
The Apostle Paul, however, was later raised up to make known “the secret of the gospel,” and to proclaim the glorious accomplishments of Christ at Calvary. All the rich blessings so thrillingly set forth in Paul’s epistles flow to us from Calvary. Ours is a heavenly position because He came to earth to die for our sins. Ours is “the hope of glory,” because He suffered our shame. Ours is the blessing of “peace with God” because He bore God’s wrath upon sin. Ours is relief from the load of sin because He bore that load. Every one of our “all spiritual blessings” comes to us from Calvary. Paul’s “secret of the gospel” centers in Calvary. Little wonder the Apostle Paul calls his preaching “the preaching of THE CROSS.”
Peter, here in his 2nd epistle acknowledges where he obtained his information concerning the meaning of the cross as applies to believers of all the dispensational ages, writing;
“And account that the longsuffering [delay] of our Lord [His 2nd coming] is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [twist], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV)
Paul explained that delay in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel by explaining that Israel is “fallen,” “cast away,” and “blinded”, during today’s Gentles age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.” Concerning Israel’s present state Paul wrote;
“Let their [Israel’s] eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” (Romans 11:10-11 (KJV)
“For if the casting away of them [Israel as a Nation] be [is] the reconciling of the world [to God]… ? (Romans 11:15 (KJV)
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [secret], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness [temporarily] in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25 (KJV)
Thus, Israel is set-aside, put on a shelf during today’s Gentile age of “the grace of God.” While Paul’s message of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) gathers in the members of “the church” called “the body of Christ” who is destined to co-reign with Christ in “the heavenly places” in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:13, 2Tim. 2:12, 2Cor. 5:1).
- Portions adapted form Cornelius Stam -