Understanding Paul’s Ministry
The Apostle Paul, as “the [one] Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13), progressively received the full revelation of “the mystery [Gk. musterion, secret]” of Christ and the church, called “the body of Christ,” from the ascended Lord Jesus in heaven. In his thirteen epistles (Romans through Philemon) Paul shares all this newly revealed information with us as the members of “the body of Christ”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:3-5 (KJV)
It’s obviously tremendous that we would have these wondrous blessings… but … if we Know Nothing of them … it is like having a million dollars in your checking account and you don’t know it …that money does you no good. Sadly, today there are millions of Christians who have little or no knowledge of the riches of the truth of God in Christ, now as “the life-giving Spirit” in us is to us. They have no idea of God’s eternal plan that Paul called “the revelation of the mystery [Gk. musterion, the secret], which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25) as it was revealed to Paul for us.
Paul says we as believers can know what he came to know... when we read his epistles and learn of “the Mystery of God”
“[So] That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance [Gk. plerophria, full confidence] of understanding [Gk. synesis, putting together mentally], to the acknowledgement of The Mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3 (KJV)
To arrive at the ‘mental putting together’ (v2) of Paul’s information requires us to read and even Study the words of truth that he puts forth. For it was Paul’s desire that we “more and more” come to “knowledge … in all judgment [discernment, perception].”
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment [Gk. aesthesis, perception];” (Philippians 1:9 (KJV)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Since Paul’s gospel message for us is “the revelation of the mystery [the secret]” it is vital that we come to see all that is involved in “the mystery [the formerly secret plan of God concerning Christ]” that is now available to be revealed to us.
Paul reveals Christ to us in a different way than one may assume from the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth in His human ministry on earth, as accounted in the four so-called gospels. This information has the power to “establish” us in the faith.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my [Paul’s gospel], and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which Was Kept Secret since the world began, (Romans 16:25 (KJV)
Paul’s message was formerly a secret that was not revealed to Jesus of Nazareth’s Jewish disciples. This is because Jesus had a different mission at that time… one which concerned Israel Only and the establishment of the long-promised “kingdom of heaven” to come on earth as ‘promised in time past.’
So, Paul’s message for us today is separate and distinct from that which most of us have heard in most all of Christendom. The typical message from their pulpits of Christendom most often concerns Jesus of Nazareth’s earthly ministry… which was only to and concerning “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus’ words at that time not for us Gentiles.
“But he answered and said, I [Jesus] am not sent but [except] unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24 (KJV)
Jesus also instructed His Twelve Apostles to do the same... to go only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6 (KJV)
Today we need to literally study what applies to us Gentiles during this age of the pure grace of God. We need to learn, understand, and trust in Paul’s complete gospel message of “the grace of God.” Paul says we can understand what he understood concerning “the mystery [God’s secret plan]” now revealed through Paul.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation [the current administration] of the grace of God which is Given Me To You-Ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, When Ye READ, Ye May Understand My Knowledge in The Mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was Not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets [the ‘forth tellers’ of the latter Acts period] by the Spirit;” (Ephesians 3:1-5 (KJV)
Paul was saved in Acts 9 and began his ministry in the mid-Acts period soon after ‘the fall of Israel’ from their calling due to the nation’s unbelief and rejection of the Savior.
“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 [Israel’s] fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy.” (Romans 11:10-11)
“For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world [mankind of all races, not just Israel’s believers], what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (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 in part is [has temporarily] happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in [at the Rapture]” (Romans 11:25 (KJV)
Though Israel had consistently rejected God’s word to them by 1) killing His prophets and then 2) killing “the Son of God,” 3) Israel’s “fall” ultimately occurred with the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:58. This was the last straw in Israel’s consistent national rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah. At the stoning of Stephen, Paul ‘consented to it’ by holding the coats of Stephen’s executioners. Soon after the stoning of Stephen, in Acts 9 we have the account of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus with God’s call for Paul “to bear my [The Lord’s] name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”
“But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:15-16 (KJV)
Stephen’s murder marked the setting aside of Israel’s ‘earthly’ program that concerned the Messiah, and His kingdom to come on earth for Israel. With that Paul now was God’s man, for ‘laying the foundation’ of the new program of God established in Christ and His Cross-work. Through Paul God instituted a new heavenly program that operates under God’s ‘pure grace economy’ … now extending the offer of salvation “ALL men” … that is including fallen Jews, now also seen as fallen “Gentiles,” as candidates to be ‘saved by grace through faith alone – in Christ alone.’ In Christ there is no more distinction between Jew and Gentile (Gal. 3:28). This now is a salvation that is totally apart Israel’s program that required “works,” law-keeping, and circumcision.
In Paul we Gentiles have the full message that the ascended Christ from heaven revealed to him for us, as His heaven-bound people.
Thus, in Paul we have;
- our own “Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13),
- with his new “gospel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:24, 1Cor 15:3-4),
- which immediately makes us “blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)
- we thereby have the expectation of one day being Raptured to dwell “eternal in the heavens” to co-reign with Christ “in the heavenly places.” (1Thes 4:13-18, 2Cor 5:1b, 1Cor 15:51-55, 2Tim. 2:12)
conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile [corruptible] body, that it [our body] may be fashioned like unto his glorious [resurrected] body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21 (KJV)