Romans 1:1 — Part 4

Romans 1:1 — Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

The word “called” means appointed or invited. As I wrote in Romans 1:1 — Part 2, Paul’s calling had nothing to do with his own initiative. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute followers of Jesus when that same Jesus appeared to him in a totally convincing way.

What, exactly, is an apostle? The word means ambassador or messenger. When He was on earth, Jesus chose 12 men to travel with Him and learn from Him. His purpose was to have them go to all the nations to preach the message of the risen Messiah, and then when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). In Acts 1:21-22, when the 11 remaining apostles were choosing Judas’s replacement, they had these requirements: Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.

But why another apostle? The nation of Israel rejected the Messiah again after the resurrection, culminating in the stoning of Stephen and the persecution led by Paul. The kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament was set aside for a time and a new message was to be given to the world. The message of the kingdom that the 12 apostles were teaching wasn’t discontinued, but it was delayed.

It wouldn’t make sense for the original 12 apostles to change what they were teaching. So God called a new apostle to bring the new message. That new message is the main topic of the book of Romans, so I’ll get into it a lot more later.But one more word here to show that something changed between the time Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and the time of Paul’s ministry. Remember what Jesus Christ told the apostles — to preach to the entire world (Mark 16:15).

In Galatians, Paul writes about a conversation he had with James, Peter and John (some of the same men that Jesus Christ had given His Mark 16 instructions to). Here’s what Paul says: And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision (Galatians 2:9). No longer were the original 12 going to the entire world — they were concentrating on Jews. It was left to Paul to be the apostle to everyone else.

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6 Responses to Romans 1:1 — Part 4

  1. jeff says:

    I hate to argue, but at the same time, I enjoy it at times! I don’t get your last paragraph. If you look at the history of where the apostles went I find it hard to believe they didn’t actually go to the world. They went places where Jews weren’t even living in huge numbers places like Asia Minor, Persia, Carthage, Britain, Babylon, and so forth. I’m sure there were Jews there but I don’t see your point

    Just because Paul was for the Gentiles doesn’t mean the other guys didn’t talk to them. Nor does it mean Paul never talked to Jews. I find it hard to believe that Galatians 2 changes what Jesus said, especially since history shows it didn’t.

  2. Walker says:

    Which chapter and verse shows that the apostles went all over the world? Galatians 2 clearly says they went primarily to the circumcision (which were scattered all over the civilized world at this point). And when Paul wanted to talk with Peter and John, where did he go? To Jerusalem. They, in fact, weren’t taking the message all over the world at this point. They were hanging out in Israel. And yes, Paul talked to Jews, but his ministry was primarily directed to the Gentiles.

  3. jeff says:

    Well, primarily, I’d go with the verse that you dismiss, the words of Jesus Christ telling His guys to go into all the world, which is what they did. And history, whether in a chapter and verse in the Bible or not, is still history. Galatians 2 also says that Peter was in Antioch, not in Jerusalem. I’m not disagreeing that they weren’t given a “burden” to go to the Jews, to use gross Christian lingo, I just think it’s assuming quite a bit to say that they didn’t go into the world because of that when that is what Christ told them and it’s also what they did.

    Paul was given special revelation to help heathen, non-Jews understand the importance of Christ, but their Gospel, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, is the same Gospel. Paul was equipped to frame the Gospel better for Gentiles because Christ revealed to him how to frame it. However, Gentiles responded even to Christ and Peter was the apostle who opened the door to the Gentiles in Acts 10. On top of that, one of Paul’s main mysteries he reveals is the fact there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, they both need Christ becasue they are all sinners.

    I just think it’s a minor point being blown into a major point that ends up undermining the simplicity in Christ.

  4. Walker says:

    Saying that we can know that a person did something because God told that person to do something isn’t a very solid argument. The Bible is pretty much a record of men NOT doing what God tells them to do. In this case, the apostles didn’t do what God told them to do because the nation they were supposed to do it to and for didn’t accept the message.

    And Peter was in Jerusalem. In Galatians 2:1, Paul says, I went up again to Jerusalem. There he met with James and Peter and John. There’s more to this passage than the simple recording of a meeting. Paul goes out of his way in the first two chapters of Galatians to show that his message was different than the message of the other apostles.

    1:15 — He received his message from God, not from the other apostles.
    1:16 — He didn’t consult with other men, not even those who were apostles before me.
    1:18 — After three years, he did visit Peter in Jerusalem for (only) two weeks and didn’t see any of the other apostles (although he did meet James).
    1:20 — Paul assures us that he isn’t lying? Lying about what? The only thing that makes sense is that he’s saying he DIDN’T get his message from the apostles.
    2:1 — Fourteen years later, he went to Jerusalem and met with the apostles and told them the message he was preaching. Why did he have to do this if it was the same message?
    2:5 — Paul didn’t give an inch in spite of pressure but made sure he kept the purity of his message.
    2:6 — Paul refers to those who seemed to be something, obviously referring to the apostles if you read the paragraph in context. He makes it clear that they added nothing to his message.
    2:7 — Paul mentions two
    different gospels, one to the circumcision and one to the uncircumcision. He’s not talking about a different way of framing the same gospel, he’s talking about two different messages.
    2:9 — Peter, James and John agreed that they would continue ministering to the Jews (and only the Jews) and that Paul would go to the Gentiles.

    Then Paul does meet Peter in Antioch, but only to withstand him because he was still preaching the old message that everyone had to become a Jew to be saved. This makes no sense if their ministries were identical or if they were preaching the same message “framed” differently.

    Peter, James and John are not in contradiction to Paul. But Paul received new revelation that was so extensive it amounted to a new gospel. The kingdom gospel was delayed and the body of Christ began. (Throughout his writings, Paul talkes about “his gospel” and the “gospel that was given to me.”

    In addition, Peter, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, talkes about the message that God gave to Paul. He talks about how difficult Paul’s message can be to understand. Again, this makes little sense if they were preaching the same message.

    Yes, all men are sinners and yes, all men need Christ. This is the main message of the entire Bible. But the salvation that Paul preached includes much, much more — the Body of Christ, the Rapture, propitiation, reconciliation, justification, our identification in Christ, sanctification. All these hugely important doctrines only get their full development in Paul’s writings. There is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles, but there certainly was until Paul came along.

    I do agree that the apostles saw the truth in Paul’s message. But it was certainly new to them at the beginning and they were definitely concentrating on the Jews. As I stated in my original post, Paul was a new apostle with a new message to a new people.

  5. jeff says:

    1. You said that in Galatians 2 the Apostles were only to go to the circumcision and that Paul had to go to Jerusalem to meet Peter. I am pointing out that Galatians 2 also says that right after Peter is told to only talk to jews, by your interpretation, he is seen eating with Gentiles in Antioch, seemingly disproving both your points that the apostles talked to only Jews only in Jerusalem. I will still counter that history shows the apostles went into all the world. Of courfse the Jews didn’t get it and that’s the impetus taht caused them to go into all the world.

    2. Paul confronted Peter because he was being hypocritical (2:12). According to Paul this undermined the straightforward manner in which the Gospel was to be rpesented, Peter was acting haughty and scared instead. Paul calls it “the truth of the Gospel.” Not “the truths of the the gospels” or “the truth of my gospel.” There is one Gospel. There is only one way to salvation. Ther eason Paul needed special revelation is because according to most Gentiles, Jesus was a Jew who came for Jews, why would Gentiles care? A special person had to reveal the further truths of the gospel message so the Gentiles would have a context and basis to believe. In fact, Jesus said that his kingdom would be taken from Jews and given to another people, Gentiles would even now predominate (Matthew 21:43). This is a total shift from Jewish centered religion to something new. Of course a new guy had to show what all that meant. But this did not change the central Gospel. It was a shifting of frame from a Jewish-centered religion to a Gentile centered religion. It’s not another Gospel otherwise Galatians 1:8,9 causes problems. Paul also uses the word “we” in verse 8. Has to refer to the apostles.

    Furthermore, the larger context is Acts 15 and the Jerusalem council. Paul was investigated because the Jews in jerusalem heard he was doing things with Gentiles. They went to check it out. It wasn’t Peter, James or John that had a problem with Paul, it was a sect of Pharisees. The apostle and elders agreed that Paul was their beloved brother who they were of the “same mind” with. Peter speaks a fine passage that sounds “Pauline” in 15:7-11. The end of the Jerusalem council is that they determined they were preaching the sasme message and that what Paul was doing with the Gentiles was legit. The reason Paul points out the apostles to the circumcized and he to the uncircumcised is because that’s what the whole council was about: is Paul really converting gentiles? The answer was, “Yes, fine job, keep going.” I don’t see how that can be interpreted as being two gospels, it’s referring to two groups of people.

    If there are indeed two gospels, it raises the awkward reality of having to find out what nationality someone is so you know what gospel to give them. As I said before, I think it’s a fairly minor point that has been blown out of proportion. The Jerusalem council shows their unity, not their division. They were united in the Gospel and they were united in seeng that some guys did well with jews and some guys did well with Gentiles with their same gospel. That’s the simplest reading of Galatians 1 and 2 and Acts 15. Saying that Peter didn’t get grace becasue he said Paul’s books were tough is tantamount to saying my Algebra teacher didn’t get algebra because he warned me how hard it would be to take algebra 2. The reason he knows it’s tough is because he knew what it said and he knew his jewish friends would have a hard time swallowing the truth that he resisted three times in his own vision God gave him about being with Gentiles.

  6. Walker says:

    It was never my intent to get into a running argument with anybody on this blog. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I stand by my original statement based on my readings of the verses I’ve mentioned and many others I didn’t.

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