Paul’s Apostleship

Paul’s Calling and Commission

There is much confusion and misunderstanding about Paul being called an Apostle. Many have problems understanding why he was called to be an Apostle when there were already 12 Apostles called by Jesus himself while on earth. Some even think that the choosing of Matthias as the replacement for Judas was outside of God’s will. I believe an understanding of God’s program for Israel and God’s program for this present Age of Grace will give us the answers to some of these difficult questions.

Paul (Saul) was set apart for his special ministry even from his mothers womb.

Galatians 1:15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace

His call to be a minister of God’s grace happened while traveling to Damascus to hunt down believers in Christ to imprison or kill them. God’s call is always efficacious so Paul (Saul) believed. It was at his conversion that he was given his commission.

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;

Acts 22:15 ‘For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.

Acts 26:16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;

So we can see from these verses that is was God who took a hold of Paul’s life and turned it around to serve Him in a special capacity. His commission was to reach the Gentiles with those things that would be revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ over the next few years. These revelations of Jesus Christ to Paul embody what is called the Mystery.

The Revelation of the Mystery

These revelations of the Mystery were given to Paul directly by Jesus Christ. This raises the question: Was Paul the only one to receive this Mystery or was it revealed to others—at least partially?

There are verses that seem to indicate others also received at least parts of this Mystery. Romans 1:2 says the Gospel Paul preached was revealed in the Old Testament. However, we can see in context the Gospel (good news) was concerning only the good news of the coming Savior (Romans 1:3). This good news was good news for all mankind and spans all dispensations. It does not indicate that any part of the Mystery was revealed to the Old Testament prophets. The Mystery was not that a Savior would come for the world but that the Gentiles would be blessed directly, outside the influence of Israel (Ephesians 1:6). Before this it was made clear that The Gentiles would be blessed through Israel (See Matthew 15:21—28). Obviously if the Mystery were revealed in the Old Testament, Paul couldn’t really call it a Mystery.

Another verse many point to indicating the Mystery was revealed to others outside of Paul is in Ephesians:

Ephesians 3:4—5 4By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

From this verse many see that some of the Mystery was revealed to other generations and the full Mystery was revealed to the Apostles and Prophets while Paul was alive.

However, this verse does not indicate other generations (before Paul) received any of the Mystery but shows that it was not made known to them at all. If I were to say past generations have not depended upon computers as we do today does not indicate that past generations depended a little bit on computers. Many generations had no computers to deal with. I beieve Scripture makes it abundantly clear that the Mystery was not revealed until Paul’s generation.

Romans 16:25—26a 25Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26but now is manifested,

Colossians 1:26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,

One of the most cited verses to prove Paul was not the only one to receive the revelation of the Mystery is found in Ephesians.

Ephesians 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

A quick reading seems to say just that. It seems clear that God revealed the Mystery through those who were Apostles and Prophets contemporary to Paul. However, with just a little bit of digging and thought the truth of this passage is revealed.

We know that Jesus Christ personally came to Paul and revealed to him the Mystery.

Acts 26:16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

We also see that Ephesians 3:5 indicates the Mystery was revealed to the Apostles and Prophets through the Holy Spirit and not personally by Jesus Christ. It was the Holy Spirit who was the revealer of the truth to the Apostles and Prophets of what was revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ. This same process is at work today. When we read Paul’s writings, it is the Holy Spirit who is the revealer of the truths that are contained in them. The Mystery was given directly to Paul and revealed as truth by the Holy Spirit. It was Paul, and Paul alone, who was entrusted with the Mystery.

Titus 1:1—3 1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

The 12th Apostle?

Another point many make is that Paul was suppose to be the replacement Apostle of the twelve. They feel that the Disciples acted outside of God’s will when they went ahead and appointed Matthias as the twelfth Apostle.

There are some major problems with this view. First, those who chose Matthias were all seeking God’s will in a manner consistent with Old Testament instructions (Acts 1:24—26; Numbers 26:55; Proverbs 16:23). Second, after the selection was made, the Holy Spirit came upon ALL of those involved with the selection. (Acts 2:1—4) Third, they needed to choose a candidate who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry (Acts 1:21—22). Paul wasn’t even qualified to fill the position.

I believe, from the above, that Paul was set apart for a special ministry apart from Israel. His Apostleship was given to him by Jesus Christ as was the revelation of the Mystery. His Apostleship superseded the Apostolic ministry of the 12 Disciples as God shifted the focus away from Israel (because of her rejection of Jesus Christ) and toward the Gentiles. If there was no change in God’s program, God could have worked through the 12 Disciples bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gentiles. Instead, Paul signals a change in God’s dealings with mankind and gives him the Gospel of the Grace of God and treats Jews and Gentiles as individuals. National Israel is put on temporary hold until the Rapture of the Church, the Body of Christ at which time God will resume where He left off in His dealings with Israel.

1 Comment

  1. Posted March 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    when we understand exactly what Paul’s commission was we can understand that the present “dispensation of grace” began when the “gospel of grace” was first preached. ” A “dispensation” is in regard to a “stewardship” that is given to man from God in order to carry out a specific task. Here are three quotes from the pen of Paul where he speaks of a “dispensation” that has been committed or given to him:

    “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you” (Eph.3:2).

    “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God” (Col.1:25).

    “…a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Cor.9:17).

    The “dispensation” which was committed to Paul is in regard to “God’s grace”, a “ministry”, and a “gospel.” Here Paul sums up his dispensational responsibility:

    “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

    There can be no doubt whatsoever that the event which marks the beginning of the “dispensation of grace” is the preaching of the “gospel of grace.”

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