Cambridge Press offers their books for free through May, I’m told. Here’s an excerpt from an introduction to the NT, focusing on Paul’s work. It’s an image capture, since the site doesn’t allow copying.
A great challenging question was asked in this week’s Gospel Advocate, adult class Foundations Bible study book (Galatians, Paul’s Credentials, Lesson 2, p. 29):
“How can we show God’s call of Paul did not remove his freedom?“
The context of the question is based on the larger scripture passage of Galatians 1:11-24 but it probably finds its more narrow scope from Galatians 1:15 which says, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,“.
As you’re probably aware of, the doctrine of God’s grace and humanity’s free-will is very much opposite from the doctrine of God’s grace and it being “irresistible” to the soul of mankind. So, how would you use the provided scripture context to answer such a question? If you would like to, you can provide additional scripture references that enhance the underlying point Paul was making. I’m looking forward to reading any suggestions.
I have some answers for your consideration as well. I’ll place them after the “read more” tag so they do not influence your thought process. Continue reading
In “honor” of world toilet day (yes, apparently there is such a thing) it seems as if new archaeological information has been released which confirms the biblical information relayed in such places as, “Then they broke down the sacred pillar of Baal, and tore down the temple of Baal and made it a refuse dump to this day.” (2 Kings 10:27 NKJV)
I might add for clarification that the translators of the NKJV may have used some tact in their description of the final condition of Baal’s temple. At least this story would seem to say this much is true.
This isn’t the only time such tact is used by the NKJV translators. For example, Philippians 3:7-11 says,
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.“
The literal idea of the word translated as “rubbish” would be much closer to what the archaeologists recently confirmed about Baal’s temple. You can read the NET and the KJV translation of Philippians 3:8 if you don’t follow.
Hezekiah had no tolerance for idolatry in Judah and apparently Paul felt the same way about his heart and mind.
Many in the religious world, including “Christendom”, label the apostle Paul as a fraud guilty of changing the teachings of Jesus into something that better suited his own beliefs. Hence the phrase, “Pauline theology.”
But is such the case? Not according to the church of the first century.
Fact is, concerning his conversion, Paul acknowledged the amazement of the early church when he said, “And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1:22-24 NKJV)
Paul didn’t change the faith taught by Jesus, the faith taught by Jesus changed Paul!
For those who say defending someone by using a quote from that same individual is untrustworthy, all you have to do is read the book of Acts. Or is the entire book of Acts unreliable too?
Labeling someone as fraud because you do not what like what they teach (as is the case with Paul) is no different than what the Jewish leaders did to Jesus when they refused to hear what he said about his relationship with the Father (John 5:16-47).
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:10-12 NKJV)
On one occasion, the apostle Paul had a serious issue to settle with the apostle Peter:
“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.” (Galatians 2:11-13 NKJV)
Several lessons can be learned from this passage but if the church were to learn only one, it could be found by noting where Paul talked to Peter … and I’m not talking about Antioch.
Paul didn’t talk about Peter behind his back – Paul talked to Peter to his face. And if the church could remember this point, we would all be much better off.
““Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15 NKJV)
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics you will find:
- A Harmonious Congregation (Kevin W. Rhodes)
- I Thank My God Upon Every Remembrance… (Cody Westbrook)
- Let Love Abound (Mike Vestal)
- Christ Is Preached, So I Rejoice! (Stephen Wiggins)
- To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain (Randy Robinson)
- Paul’s Plea (Dave Rogers)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.
Copyright © 2017 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
The disciples were wary of him, apparently not believing his conversion was genuine, but rather a ruse in order to find and arrest them.
And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord,” Ac 9.28 NASB.
Here are some disparate thoughts on this verse.
What does Luke mean by the phrase, “moving about freely in Jerusalem”? Among the brethren? Or that he was already going to the Jews to preach the gospel? Continue reading
Riddle me this: Can you make a complete list of all the words that Jesus speaks to Paul and words of his cited by Paul? You’ll probably leave out at least one.
For various reasons of self-interest and faulty theology there are those in the religious world who believe and teach that the “word’s of Paul” should be rejected.
If one were to reject the “words of Paul” then they by default have to reject basically every other letter that makes up the New Testament.
Don’t like “Paul’s words” huh? Well I guess you can’t like Peter’s words either since he endorsed what Paul taught and considered him to be a brother in Christ (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Don’t like “Paul’s word’s” huh? Well I guess you can’t like Mark’s words either since history/tradition teaches that Mark wrote through the guidance of Peter who, again, endorsed the “words of Paul” and due to the fact that Mark was very familiar with Paul and considered him a brother in Christ who taught the truth (2 Timothy 4:11).
Don’t like “Paul’s words” huh? Well I guess you can’t like Luke’s words either since Luke greatly supported Paul and due to the fact that they labored together on missionary trips teaching the same thing to others who were coming to Jesus through their preaching (Colossians 4:4, 2 Timothy 4:11, Acts 21:1-19…notice how many times “we” and “us” are used).
So I guess that leaves a person with the words of John and James and Jude…except for the fact that both John and James endorsed Paul’s preaching (Acts 15:6-29) and Jude is just too judgmental!
So you still want to reject the “words of Paul” huh? I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds a whole lot like, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Failing to listen to “Paul’s words” is a failure to listen to the word of God.
“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37)
Just think about this for a second:
“in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:27-28 – NKJV)
If you’re familiar with this section of scripture then you’ll know that this is only a snippet of the turmoil’s that Paul experienced while spreading the word of God. It was a daily battle that could be summed up with the old saying, “there’s no rest for the weary.” Physically, mentally and spiritually, Paul was a target of the lion who was roaming about (1 Peter 5:8). But he hung in there! But how?
The success of Paul’s enduring perseverance can easily be seen in his willingness to keep his eye’s on Jesus and his hope in the grace of God found in the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3, Romans 8:23-25). Paul encouraged people to follow him as he followed Jesus knowing full well that the path to eternal life was only found by following the steps of the Savior (1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:20-21; Hebrews 2:9-10). He loved the word of God, the gospel that it contained, the church that it produced and the people whose names filled the Lamb’s Book of Life, and even those who had not yet been added.
An enduring perseverance like Paul’s doesn’t happen accidentally and it doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen by sitting on the sidelines. An enduring perseverance comes by trials, by bearing fruit, by faithfulness and by holding strong to the words and love of Jesus that won’t allow our burdens to become too heavy to keep us from following Him (Matthew 7:24-29, 11:28-30).
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Will we be able to put our “I” where Paul put His?
When Paul was on the ship on the way to Rome in Acts 27 he had to sail through rough waters to say the least. Being packed in with 275 passengers on one boat that had no plumbing facilities, facing a “Northeaster”and having very little food to survive on would be extreme enough, but one grave danger still lay ahead in the journey.
Just before reaching the shore the soldiers decided it was best (for them) to kill the prisoners instead of taking any chance that they might escape after hitting the beach. Kill the prisoners? But that would include Paul!!! That’s right. What would Paul do? The truth is, Paul couldn’t do anything but what he had already done in the past with his influence. Since boarding that boat Paul managed to get in the “good graces” of the centurion who was in charge.
In the beginning of the chapter Paul warned the crew not to sail, but the centurion listened to the those who were more concerned with meeting a dead line and making a buck or two instead of listening to this warning of grave danger. Who can hardly blame him though. This wouldn’t have been the first time this centurion would have heard some kind of plea! But toward the end of the chapter things changed dramatically. Before it was all said and done, Paul had gained more than a guard in charge of his chains – he gained a body-guard personally bent on protecting him!
Who says the way we live, worship, talk and care for others doesn’t have an effect? It sure had one on a gruff and tough soldier, and it still can today. I don’t know if Julius the centurion ever became a Christian, but I bet he never forgot about the one that he was in charge of on that boat!
Remember that your influence can put you in the “good graces” of others, and hopefully lead them to the most wonder grace ever imagined – Jesus!
“And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose,…” (Acts 27:42-43 – NKJV)
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,” (2 Timothy 1:1-3 – NKJV – emp. mine)
Have you ever caught what Paul said right there before? Contrary to what so many critics today say about Paul “making up Christianity and following after a different God” Paul tells the young Christian preacher, who was raised by a Jewish mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; Acts 16:1), that the God he served is the exact same God that his forefathers served. He had no doubt about it, his conscience was clear, and he encouraged Timothy to carry on in the family tradition of placing his faith in the God of his own forefathers as well.
Paul preached and partook of the fruition of the seeds that God had planted before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9-10). He was following in the line of faithful men and women who responded to the call of God positively. He was following after and placing his faith in the promise that God made to Abraham, his forefather, to bless all the nations through his seed (2 Timothy 1:11-12; Galatians 3:8-9, 16, 26-29).
The God one reads about in the New Testament is not a different God from the one we read about in the Law, Psalms and Prophets (Luke 24:44-47). The New Testament purchased through the blood of Jesus the Christ (Matthew 26:28) is the fulfillment of God’s word and promise made to Abraham (Titus 1:1-4). To say that Paul served any other God than the one we read about in the Old Testament letters is to (1) have a lack of understanding about the hope of salvation that Paul’s forefathers had and (2) have a lack of understanding concerning the purpose of the scriptures in leading one to the salvation of Jesus through faith (2 Timothy 3:15).
“My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?…Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come – that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”(Acts 26:4-8; 22-23 – NKJV – emp. mine)
“If Paul is free, he converts the world; chain him to a jailor and he converts the guard; put him in prison and he writes the Bible; if you kill him, you do him a favor as he goes to be with Jesus. Now how do you defeat a guy like that?” — Billy Bland, Memphis School of Preaching Lectures
From Glad Tidings of Good Things – Jacksonville, AL
It is terribly unfortunate when people who call themselves Christians depart from the Lord’s teachings, but we have come to expect this. Still, it brings great angst when a group of men think they know more than the Lord and thus alter His word. These same men will deny they are altering the Lord’s teaching, but that is exactly what they are doing (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:13-15). Let me illustrate.
Not long ago I received a link from a brother who shared the teachings of a church concerning the role of women in the church assembly. This church is in the Atlanta area (www.northlake.org). It is with great disappointment that we read, “Thus, with confidence in God’s leading, we affirm that both men and women who have the desire to serve should be permitted to fully participate in our assemblies, including activities such as reading Scripture, serving communion, teaching or offering prayers.” To make this very plain and nonnegotiable they further state, “As a living community, ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people’, we can do no less as we embody the truth of the gospel (1 Pet 2:9.” The implications of this last remark are clear.
The role of the female in the Lord’s church has been clearly defined and outline by the Lord Himself. Since that time, brethren have been addressing the issue because of wayward men and churches such as we read above. Here are the primary reasons (arguments?) set forth by the elders of this local church: 1) God’s truth must meet the ever-changing context of “contemporary life.” 2) The restrictive passages by Paul were the result of men and women hindering the gospel message. From this it is extrapolated that preventing women from serving is also a hindrance of the gospel message. 3) This is a matter of judgment, not doctrine. 4) The church has failed to reckon with cultural realities and this has hindered the message of God to this new reality. 5) There is historical precedence.
In further explication the document states that the “gifts” of I Corinthians 12 correspond to the “gifts” people have today. Thus, “[t]o allow some to use their gifts and others to be restricted runs counter to the inclusive nature of the gospel message.” These “gifts,” however must be understood in relation to the restrictive passages of Paul, the next paragraph states. With some brief consideration, they opine, “After much study and prayer, we have concluded that Paul made his restrictive statements to specific and limited circumstances.”
For men and women dedicated to the Lord’s teaching and staying with that, there is nothing new in this document. The general points thrust upon all who read it are as old as the life of the one reading my remarks. In fact, these justification points have been around a good deal longer. However, just as they have in the past, they still fail to make the biblical case for the altering of the role of the female in the church assembly. Let me encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2; be sure, when you read, that you consider the whole context of the subject and even the book. After having done this, ask yourself this question: where did Paul limit his words or, better yet, where did the Holy Spirit limit His words to “specific and limited circumstances”?
There is more to be said, but on this post my words will be adequate. Perhaps others will take a look at the document and write more.