A Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course? Part 1
Copyright 1994 - 2017 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
July 13, 1997

Last Updated :
January 3, 2009


In Defense Of The Apostle Paul




A while back, a certain Christian fellow made the following
comment to me:

"I agree with you. I place the words of Jesus above those
of all others. If Jesus spoke on an issue, then that should
be the final word. Many Christians lend more credence to
Paul's writings. I believe this is a mistake, and is
perhaps the "easy way out." Some of Jesus' teachings are
very hard to understand ... which is why he spoke in
parables so often ... but just because we don't understand
them doesn't mean we shouldn't read them."

----- End Of Quote -----

While I can cautiously agree with what this person said. I
think we should all be mindful of the danger that this kind
of mentality can present were it to be taken to the extreme.
In other words, if we start making distinctions between
different parts of the Bible and prioritizing them as to
what should be believed first and foremost, then we are in
effect neutralizing the overall veracity of the entire
Bible. In my view, the minute we start treating the Bible
like a spiritual cafeteria, taking what we like and leaving
the rest, there is absolutely no end to it. Before long, we
will be like the old woman who was left with nothing but the
covers of her Bible. For those of you who are not familiar
with the old story, each time the pastor would tell his
congregation that a certain Biblical passage didn't really
mean what it said, or that it no longer applied to our
modern age, the poor woman would simply cut out that
particular verse or section of verses from her Bible. After
so many years of faithfully going to this pastor's church,
and hearing so many of his sermons in which he made similar
claims regarding other Scriptures in the Bible, this poor
woman finally had nothing left but the front and back
covers! This pastor, probably a lot like many of the secular
humanist false shepherds of our day, had totally destroyed
this woman's faith in the Word of God! He didn't do it in
one quick attack; he did it slowly and methodically! Year
after year, through human reasoning, rationalization and
understanding, he chipped away at this woman's faith until
there was no longer a base upon which it could stand; and in
the end it came tumbling down. BEWARE of the devices of
Satan, folks!:

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not
ignorant of his devices." (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Do not fall for his subtle lies and half-truths! Remember,
he knows the Word of God better than we do! He has been
quoting it and twisting its meaning for literally thousands
of years, ever since the Garden of Eden when he first said:

"... Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of
the garden?" (Genesis 3:1b)

In fact, someday soon, through the mouth of the Beast
and his False Prophet, Satan will twist or wrest the
Scriptures so far, that he will finally bring about his own
destruction:

"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, as they do
also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
(2 Peter 3:16)

Don't be deceived! The Beast and the False Prophet
will know the Word of God, and they will use it to their own
advantage. Even now many have been deceived by the false
doctrines and lies which have crept into the religious
systems of our modern world. If you would like an extensive
collection of verses regarding these false prophets, please
refer to the last part of my article entitled 'Endtime
Witnessing: Winning The Sheep And Waging The Warfare.' But
getting back to the main point of this discussion, i.e.,
dissecting the Word of God, it is indeed true that Paul did
say in a few places that he was merely expressing his
personal opinion on a certain matter. For example,
concerning the issue of marriage, Paul said the following:

"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath
a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with
him, let him not put her away." (1 Corinthians 7:12)

In other words, he was admitting that He was not teaching
something he had heard directly from the Lord, or from the
original Eleven who had been with the Lord; he was speaking
his own mind on the topic. However, considering his
knowledge of the Scriptures, and the anointing of the
Lord's Spirit on his life, I think we can safely assume that
he was being led of the Lord in his thoughts. The main
concern here is that we need to be careful that we aren't
encouraging young Christians to be too judicious in what
they choose to read and believe in the Bible. In all
honesty, we each have our pet theories and doctrines which
we strive to strengthen with verses from the Bible; but we
need to let other younger Christians know that we do accept
the entire Bible as the inspired Word of God. As Paul said
in his letter to Timotheus:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Apostle Peter likewise echoes this sentiment when he
tells us:

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21)

At this point in our conversation, another fellow who also
has a hard time accepting the writings of Paul as the
inspired Word of God, offered the following comments:

"I would like the group to consider: Is the book of Mormon
Scripture? Is the Koran Scripture? Why then would Paul's
letters be considered as such? Messiah, while He was on
Earth, never mentioned anything but the TANAKH. If I write
you a letter and we hide it in the desert for a few thousand
years, does it become Scripture?"

----- End Of Quote -----

Concerning the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an, I will discuss
these and other works in part two of this article. This
first part, however, will specifically deal with the life
and ministry of the Apostel Paul and some of those who
accompanied him. It is my hope that after you finish reading
this article, whether you be Jew or Gentile, that you will
have a renewed respect for one of the pillars of our
Christian faith.

As you may have guessed, the person who made the above
comment is a Messianic Jew. While he accepts the direct
words of Jesus as being inspired, he has a serious problem
with most of the rest of the New Testament. His principle
reason for this, particularly in the case of the Pauline
Epistles, is that Paul was not with Jesus, so he doubts
their inspiration. While Paul was not counted among the
Original Twelve who lived and worked with Jesus for some
three and a half years, as will be seen by the time you
finish reading this article, this is a very poor excuse for
discounting his writings as being inspired by God. If we
really want to get technical about it, neither Mark, (aka
John Mark or Marcus), nor Luke, (aka Lucas), were counted
among The Twelve either:

"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first,
Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James
the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and
Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son
of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed
him." (Matthew 10:2-4)

This being the case, why do we consider their Gospels just
as inspired as the Gospels of Matthew and John? Why do we
accept their works yet deny the writings of the Apostle Paul
their due, or at least minimize our belief in their Divine
Inspiration? If we are going to apply this sort of criticism
against the writings of Paul, then in all fairness, to
perform a proper evaluation and arrive at an impartial
conclusion, we need to apply the same critical thinking
against the entire New Testament. In this article, this is
exactly what I have done; and as you will see shortly, these
claims against the writings of the Apostle Paul are simply
not valid.

Let's begin with Mark and Luke who were not included among
The Twelve. From reading both the book of Acts and all of
the Epistles, we can deduce from the information available,
that both Mark and Luke were known to the Original Twelve,
and that they did a lot of travelling, particularly with
Paul, Barnabas and Silas, on their various missionary
journeys throughout Israel, Asia Minor and the surrounding
coastal areas of the Mediterranean. We have no direct
indication that either Mark or Luke actually spent time with
Jesus. They may have, but there is no scriptural evidence to
support this. In fact, it could be that they learned
everything about Jesus second-hand from Peter, or from Paul
or from some of the other disciples. In Mark's case we find
the following verses which shed some light on his life:

"And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house
of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where
many were gathered together praying." (Acts 12:12)

"And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they
had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose
surname was Mark." (Acts 12:25)

"And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose
surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with
them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not
with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp
between them, that they departed asunder one from the other:
and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;"
(Acts 15:37-39)

"Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus,
sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received
commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"
(Colossians 4:10)

"Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee:
for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
(2 Timothy 4:11)

"Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers."
(Philemon 1:24)

"The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you,
saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son." (1 Peter 5:13)

In quoting these verses, I am making the broad assumption
that all of them are referring to the same person who wrote
the Gospel of Mark. Can I completely validate this? Of
course not, but this is all we have to go on without getting
into other texts. As some of you will know, I prefer to
prove things directly from the Bible first, before relying
upon external sources. The Bible does a very good job on
interpretting itself if we just know where to look.

Concerning Luke, in addition to his name being mentioned in
a few of the above verses, it is also believed that he wrote
the book of Acts. The introductions to both the Gospel of
Luke and the book of Acts seem to confirm this. In essence,
the book of Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke.
Perhaps it would have been better to put these two books
together, or at least one after the other so that more
people would see the connection. Maybe they should have been
placed together right after John so that the story flows a
little better. Consider the beginning of the Gospel of Luke:

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order
a declaration of those things which are most surely believed
among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from
the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding
of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in
order, most excellent Theophilus," (Luke 1:1-3)

Notice that Luke is directing his account of the life of
Jesus to someone who is apparently in a position of
authority, by the name of Theophilus. Given that the Romans
were in power at the time, it may be safe to assume that
Theophilus may have been of Roman origin. We find a similar
opening in the book of Acts:

"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that
Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he
was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given
commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:"
(Acts 1:1-2)

As can be seen, Luke is informing Theophilus that he is
going to continue where he left off in his former treatise,
that is, the Gospel of Luke. As another confirmation that
Luke travelled with Paul, in the sixteenth chapter of Acts,
we see that the writer, Luke, suddenly begins to speak in
the plural instead of the singular:

"And after he had seen the vision, immediately we
endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that
the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."
(Acts 16:10)

Later on in chapter twenty-one, we find both Paul and Luke
joining up with the Original Eleven disciples in Jerusalem:

"And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received
us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto
James; and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:17-18)

In Paul's second letter to the the Corinthians, we discover
in the postscript or translator's note that, possibly due to
his poor eyesight, the epistle was actually written by Titus
and Luke under Paul's dictation:

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
<<The second [epistle to the Corinthians was written from
Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.]>>"
(2 Corinthians 13:14)

In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul also identifies Luke
as a physician. This may explain why Luke concentrates his
Gospel on the physical miracles of Jesus, to show that He
was the Divine Healer:

"Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you."
(Colossians 4:14)

And finally, in his letter to Timotheus (Timothy), Paul
makes the following comment:

"Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee:
for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
(2 Timothy 4:11)

From the evidence I have presented thus far, we can see that
the lives of The Eleven as well as those of Mark, Luke,
Barnabas, Paul, et al were heavily interwoven. Based on this
fact, to try to say one book is inspired of God while
another is not seems to be unfounded in my view. Maybe Paul
didn't sit at Jesus' feet as the other Apostles had done,
but we know that the Lord dealt with him in a very direct
manner to cause a major change in his life. Consider a
picture of Paul's life before and after his conversion.
First we are introduced to him as a devoted Pharisee who
hated and persecuted the followers of the new Christian
faith. In Acts chapter seven we find him witnessing the
stoning death of Stephen:

"And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the
witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet,
whose name was Saul." (Acts 7:58)

Exactly when this incident happened, we cannot say with any
degree of certainty. However, based on evidence I will
provide a bit later in this article, I believe it was
probably during the third decade of the first century. We
know that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared unto His
disciples for a period of forty days according to Luke:

"To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by
many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and
speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"
(Acts 1:3)

Luke also tells us that the Lord commanded His disciples to
wait in Jerusalem for the gift of this Holy Ghost just prior
to His Ascension:

"And, being assembled together with them, commanded them
that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the
promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of
me." (Acts 1:4)

The Disciples of course obeyed, and we find them waiting for
the Holy Spirit in the upper room:

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called
Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And
when they were come in, they went up into an upper room,
where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew,
Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son
of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of
James." (Acts 1:12-13)

It is only a short time later on the day of Pentecost that
we find them all together when the gift of the Holy Spirit
is poured out upon them:

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all
with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a
sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled
all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared
unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon
each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave
them utterance." (Acts 2:1-4)

It is important to note that while some of us have long
believed that the Jewish Hierarchy didn't decide to take
action against the fledgling Christian Church until Acts
chapter eight, this is a misconception based on not taking a
closer look at the Scriptures. The persecution began the
minute that the Jews realized that they were losing control
of the masses because of Jesus' 'dangerous' doctrine, and it
has been going on ever since. Jesus was the first martyr,
but it didn't end there. As I said earlier, because the
Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are separated by the
Gospel of John, we tend to form the idea in our minds that
there is a time gap there. Well, if there is, it isn't a
very big one. When the jealous Jews strung up Jesus, the
verbal persecution ended, and the physical persecution began
right then and there, and the first Apostles went into
hiding. Remember what John tells us towards the end of his
Gospel:

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the
week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were
assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the
midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19)

There may possibly have been a small lull in the persecution
during the forty days that Jesus appeared to His disciples.
After all, the Jewish elders were probably feeling quite
confident of their assumed victory over the Son of Man. In
addition, beginning with His arrest, The Disciples had
abandoned the Lord and gone into hiding as I have just
shown. They probably weren't doing a lot of witnessing at
that time. That is why the Lord had to come to encourage
their faith. It wasn't until the downpouring of the Holy
Ghost a short time later that Christianity began to explode
in Jerusalem with many miracles being done, and thousands
coming to accept the Lord, as the first chapters of the book
of Acts bear out. The Jerusalem Hierarchy may have thought
that they had won at first, but when they saw the sudden
drop in Temple and synagogue attendance, the Sanhedrin must
have immediately increased their efforts to squelch this new
religion which was posing a threat to traditional Jewish
orthodoxy. Much to their dismay, they realized that just
killing Jesus had not been enough. In fact, rather than
serving to put an end to His 'dangerous' doctrines, Jesus'
death on the cross only served to further strengthen the
spread of Christianity, for as Jesus Himself had prophesied:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
unto me." (John 12:32)

One thing we do know, is that when this persecution began,
Saul was involved with it. While we are not introduced to
him until five chapters later in Acts chapter seven at the
stoning death of Stephen, this does not necessarily mean
that this was the starting point of his campaign of terror.
In fact, as other verses indicate, which I will share
shortly, he may have spearheaded the entire campaign against
the Early Church from the very beginning. The main point I
am trying to make here is that Saul's life was not that
distant from Jesus and His ministry in Israel as some would
like us to believe. By distancing Paul from Jesus, they hope
to discredit the Divine Inspiration of his writings even
further. According to the historical record, the dates for
Paul's life are approximated at 5 B.C. to 67 A.D. This means
that he was living during the exact same time period as
Jesus. They must have been close to the very same age. Who
knows, maybe Saul even saw or heard Jesus speak on a few
occasions. Being a Pharisee himself, perhaps Saul may have
even witnessed Jesus speaking in the Temple. After all, Saul
was in cahoots with the very High Priest who had actually
condemned Jesus:

"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter
against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high
priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the
synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they
were men or women, he might bring them bound unto
Jerusalem." (Acts 9:1-2)

In his final testimony on the steps of Roman castle in
Jerusalem years later, Paul said:

"And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and
delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high
priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the
elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren,
and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound
unto Jerusalem, for to be punished." (Acts 22:4-5)

The day after that speech when he appeared before Ananias
the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, he also said:

"...Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a
Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am
called in question." (Acts 23:6b)

In short, prior to his conversion, Saul was a lackey of the
High Priest and the Sanhedrin, the religious council of the
Seventy Elders. Maybe he was career-minded and interested in
moving up in the ranks. If he wasn't actually a member of
the Sanhedrin, maybe he was a high-ranking Temple guard.
After all, for the High Priest to grant him the authority to
go after the Christians in Damascus, Saul must have had
close ties with him. Saul was their chosen man for the hour.
He was a typical manpleaser who prided himself in observing
the Torah. He was probably a lot like some self-righteous
church religionists today who condemn and go after any new
Christian group or church which arrives on the scene. In
further speaking of his own actions and pharisaical zeal at
that time prior to his conversion, Paul also says:

"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the
Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the
church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews'
religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more
exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers."
(Galatians 1:13-14)

When Paul appeared before King Agrippa and Queen Bernice
after several years of imprisonment in Caesarea, he told
them:

"I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many
things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which
thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I
shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief
priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice
against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue,
and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad
against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities."
(Acts 26:9-11)

As can be seen, Saul was the wrath of Satan in the flesh. I
believe he was completely aware of what he was doing. It
seems to me that even if Saul had never met Jesus personally
while the Lord was still in the flesh, the Sanhedrin
probably shared with him some of the things that Jesus had
taught and done in the Temple. Maybe they even related
Jesus' trial to Saul. Not only that, some of the many
disciples whom he persecuted must have also witnessed The
Truth to him. In short, he was very responsible for his
actions. In speaking of his own knowledge of the Lord after
his conversion, Paul makes it clear in his letter to the
Galatians that despite what he may or may not have heard
from others, his primary source of information was the Lord
Himself:

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it
of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of
Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)

One of these revelations occurred after his eyes had been
healed and he had returned to Jerusalem for a fifteen-day
period:

"And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to
Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a
trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee
quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy
testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I
imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on
thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I
also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and
kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me,
Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."
(Acts 22:17-21)

As I will show shortly, it was right after this that Paul
had to flee from Jerusalem with the help of The Elders.
While Paul may have learned additional things from the other
Apostles, it is apparent that he relied directly upon his
personal communion with the Lord to lead, guide and teach
him what he needed to know. Between his in-depth knowledge
of the Torah, and his new relationship with the Lord
following his life transformation, he must have been a
spiritual powerhouse. In essence, this is exactly what many
of us do today who have never met the Lord face to face; we
rely upon the leading of His Spirit through our knowledge of
His Word, for as Jesus said to His first Disciples:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father
will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and
bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said
unto you." (John 14:26)

But to go on, with the blessing of the High Priest and the
Sanhedrin, Saul was largely responsible for the persecution
going on against the Church in Jerusalem, which he then
personally attempted to carry up to Damascus:

"And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen's] death. And at
that time there was a great persecution against the church
which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad
throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the
apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and
made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc
of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and
women committed them to prison." (Acts 8:1-3)

As explained in my article 'Are You Saved And Sealed And
Healed And Filled?', it was during that fateful journey to
Damascus that Saul had his life-changing confrontation with
Jesus when the Lord blinded him and knocked him off of his
horse. Notice the words that the Lord spoke to Saul. Saul
was very well aware of the Truth. It was just because of his
pharisaical pride that he was resisting it. In seeking to
silence the early Christians, Saul was undoubtedly trying to
squelch the Inner Voice which was speaking to his own heart:

"And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am
Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick
against the pricks." (Acts 9:5)

As we know, once the Lord had humbled and humiliated Saul
through three days of blindness, he became a new creature;
he became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become
new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle
of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:" (Romans 11:13)

"Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I
speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the
Gentiles in faith and verity." (1 Timothy 2:7)

"Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a
teacher of the Gentiles." (2 Timothy 1:11)

Saul was totally transformed by the Spirit and Power of God.
Just as the Lord had chosen his first disciples, Saul was
likewise chosen of God to be an Apostle. It is believed by
some Bible students, such as myself, that he was chosen by
the Lord to replace Judas Iscariot who had betrayed our Lord
and then gone and hung himself. God took one of the very
worst, and made him into one of the very best to show His
own Power and Glory:

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of
wrath shalt thou restrain." (Psalms 76:10)

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your
fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the
Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of
the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base
things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God
chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought
things that are:" (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)

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

"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the
will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,"
(1 Corinthians 1:1)

When Ananias expressed reservations about going to heal
Saul after his encounter with the Lord, the Lord told him:

"...Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear
my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of
Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer
for my name's sake." (Acts 9:15b-16)

Paul later confirmed these very words when he told the
unbelieving Jews at Antioch in Pisidia:

"...It was necessary that the word of God should first have
been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge
yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the
Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have
set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest
be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."
(Acts 13:46b-47)

Immediately after his life-changing encounter, Paul tells us
that he detoured to Arabia which was very close to Damascus,
probably less than a day's journey:

"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's
womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me,
that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I
conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to
Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went
into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
(Galatians 1:15-17)

It was probably a day or so later that Saul returned to
Damascus, where Ananias then healed his eyes and Saul
finally accepted the Lord:

"And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were
opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and
brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without
sight, and neither did eat nor drink...And Ananias went his
way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on
him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared
unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou
mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy
Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had
been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and
was baptized." (Acts 9:8-9, 17-18)

Paul was so changed after his encounter with the Lord and
subsequent healing and in-filling of the Holy Spirit, that
he immediately began preaching Jesus in the synagogue at
Damascus much to the confoundment of his former Jewish
brethren:

"And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that
he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed,
and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on
this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent,
that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But
Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews
which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took
counsel to kill him:" (Acts 9:20-23)

According to Paul's letter to the Galatians, the book of
Acts, and his letter to the Corinthians, Paul preached for
three years before he was finally forced out of Damascus
from whence he fled to Jerusalem with the assistance of some
of the disciples in Damascus:

"Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by
the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem,
he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were
all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple."
(Acts 9:25-26)

"In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the
city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to
apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let
down by the wall, and escaped his hands."
(2 Corinthians 11:32-33)

"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,
and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles
saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
(Galatians 1:18-19)

As Paul may have anticipated, at first, because of his
former persecution against the Church, there was a certain
degree of animosity and mistrust towards him. It was only
because of Barnabas' intervention that Paul was finally
allowed to meet for the first time with Peter and some of
the other disciples:

"And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join
himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him,
and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took
him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them
how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken
to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the
name of Jesus." (Acts 9:26-27)

What the Apostles at Jerusalem didn't realize is that Paul
was a real fireball for the Lord. As he stated above, Paul
only lasted fifteen days with the brethren before they had
to get him out of Jerusalem:

"And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and
disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay
him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to
Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Then had the
churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria,
and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and
in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."
(Acts 9:28-31)

Paul was just too on-fire for his more conservative brethren
in Jerusalem who were still ministering primarily to the
Torah-observing Jews. Here they were trying to sit low under
Jewish persecution in the mouth of the lion, and Paul
immediately stirs up trouble due to his radical preaching.
So, to save his neck as well as their own, they finally
decided to send him on his way to his hometown of Tarsus in
Cilicia via the seaport of Caesarea. Paul confirms this in
his own writings when he says:

"Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which
were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which
persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which
once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me."
(Galatians 1:21-24)

In continuing to read the book of Acts, we discover that
following Stephen's death and the increased persecution
which ensued, some of the Jerusalem disciples scattered as
far north as Antioch in Syria, not far from Paul's home
country of Cilicia. When word of these developments got back
to The Elders in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to assist the
fledgling church. Barnabas then took it upon himself to go
to Tarsus to get Paul to assist him in the ministry at
Antioch. They stayed there for a whole year before being
sent to Jerusalem to offer some financial relief for The
Elders there. Antioch has great historical significance for
us as it was there that the disciples were first called
Christians:

"Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And
when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it
came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves
with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples
were called Christians first in Antioch...Then the
disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to
send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which
also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of
Barnabas and Saul." (Acts 11:25-26, 29-30)

It was at around the time that Paul and Barnabas went down
to Jerusalem that King Herod Antipas had James, the brother
of John, killed with the sword. Herod then went after Peter
as well and had him imprisoned since he saw that it made the
Jewish Elders happy (Acts 12:1-40). But, as we know, the
angel of the Lord freed Peter from prison during the night,
and Peter fled to Caesarea. You can find the whole exciting
story in Acts chapter twelve. It was right after this
persecution against the Church that the Lord intervened and
smote King Herod so that he died of worms. According to the
historical record, Herod Antipas died in 40 A.D. One thing
we can deduce from these events is that if this date is
correct, then Paul's encounter with the Lord on the road to
Damascus must have occurred no later that 36 A.D. if not
earlier. We can easily reason this because Paul spent three
years preaching in Damascus before his ouster from that
place, and then another year in Antioch before his journey
down to Jerusalem. This would also place the martyrdom of
Stephen around the same year of 36 A.D. or earlier.
Following the death of King Herod, Paul and Barnabas left
Jerusalem and returned to Antioch taking John Mark with
them:

"And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they
had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose
surname was Mark." (Acts 12:25)

It is some time after their return to the Church at Antioch
that Paul and Barnabas began their first missionary journey.
This can be found in Acts 13-14. Some historians place
Paul's three journeys within an eleven year period from
about 46 A.D. to 57 A.D. This may be partially based on
Paul's own words in his epistle to the Galatians where he
says:

"Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with
Barnabas, and took Titus with me also." (Galatians 2:1)

If you add the three years that he preached in Damascus,
this would be a total of fourteen years. However, upon
closer scrutiny of the Scriptures, I am not certain that
this is what Paul was referring to. In the book of Acts, we
are not told the exact length of time of their first
missionary journey. All that we are told is that after the
completion of that first trip, Paul and Barnabas remained in
Antioch for a 'long time':

"And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been
recommended to the grace of God for the work which they
fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the
church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with
them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the
Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the
disciples." (Acts 14:26-28)

After this 'long time,' Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem
to resolve a problem with Peter, James and John and some of
the other Elders regarding the need for circumcision and
keeping the Mosaic Law. This was a result of some of the
Judean brethren going up to Antioch and erroneously
declaring that the disciples had to be circumcised in order
to be saved. This can be found in Acts chapter fifteen. It
is in reference to this that Paul is speaking in the second
chapter of Galatians. So then, it appears that what Paul is
really saying is that either from the time he escaped to
Jerusalem following his three years of preaching in
Damascus, or possibly from the time of his second trip to
Jerusalem to offer them aid, (following his one year of
working in Antioch), until his third visit there to work out
this problem with The Apostles, a total of fourteen years
had passed. This then seems to include the total time of the
first missionary journey, plus the 'long time' after that
journey was completed. It was not the length of time of all
three of his journeys as he had only performed one of them
at the time he went to Jerusalem to work out the
circumcision problem.

What I find particularly interesting about the whole
incident regarding circumcision, is that this was one time
where Peter and Paul were opposed to each other. As Paul
explains in Galatians chapter two, Peter was called to be
the Apostle to the circumcised Jews, while he was called to
be the Apostle to the uncircumcised Gentiles. In the final
outcome, according to Paul's writings and the book of Acts,
Peter, James, Cephas and John agreed with him that
circumcision was unnecessary for salvation. In Acts 15,
Peter summarizes this when he says:

"Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck
of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able
to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
(Acts 15:10-11)

Despite this victory, Peter was still having a problem with
being fearful of the Law-keeping Pharisees who had entered
their ranks. After all, he and The Elders were sitting in
their midst right there in Jerusalem. Because of this, there
was a bit of manpleasing and compromising going on. When
Peter went to see Paul in Antioch some time after the
Jerusalem meeting, Paul says that he had to withstand Peter
and point out his error to him when Peter was afraid to eat
with uncircumcised Gentiles in front of the Law-keeping
disciples sent by James in Jerusalem:

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the
face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain
came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they
were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them
which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews
dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also
was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw
that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the
gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a
Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the
Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the
Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the
Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works
of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have
believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the
faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the
works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
(Galatians 2:11-16)

In thinking about this incident, the Lord showed me clearly
how this also applies to those who insist on water baptism
for salvation. If The Elders clearly agreed that the
physical act of circumcision is not necessary for salvation,
why then do some Christians today continue to insist that
the physical act of baptism, which is also a matter of the
flesh, is necessary for salvation? It doesn't make any sense
whatsoever. It is a contradiction to say one isn't necessary
while the other is. They are both dead works of the Law and
do absolutely nothing to save us. Either we are under the
Law, or else we are not. Either we have to keep all of it
or none of it. The Apostle James made this very clear when
he said:

"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in
one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)

As Paul said above, we are not justified by the works of the
Law, but only by our faith in Jesus Christ. As I explained
in my series of articles on baptism, by his very actions,
Peter was showing that he was having trouble totally
forsaking the works of the Law. I think that is why he and
others were not willing to give up water baptism at first.
They were afraid of the Law-keeping Pharisees who had crept
into their midst feigning to be believers. The epistles are
full of verses showing how these enemies of Christ crept in
to cause division...and The Elders were fully aware of this.

Some time later, after returning to Antioch from this third
trip to Jerusalem, Paul determined to make his second
missionary journey in order to visit the churches they had
established previously. It was at this time that he and
Barnabas had a disagreement regarding taking John Mark with
them. Paul felt to the contrary since John Mark had
abandoned them on their previous journey and had returned to
Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). As it turned out, Barnabas took John
Mark with him to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas, a brother
who had joined them from the Jerusalem church, on his second
journey to confirm the churches:

"And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose
surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with
them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not
with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp
between them, that they departed asunder one from the other:
and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul
chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren
unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and
Cilicia, confirming the churches." (Acts 15:37-41)

It was during this second journey that a devout believer
named Timotheus (Timothy) joined them in Derbe. Again, we
see how the Jews' religion of fear affected the early
disciples. Even though he knew it was totally unnecessary,
Paul had Timotheus circumcised to please the Law-bound
Jewish disciples:

"Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain
disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain
woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was
a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that
were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth
with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews
which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his
father was a Greek." (Acts 16:1-3)

Eventually, Paul's missionary team would go through Philippi
in Macedonia, (where they were flogged and jailed),
Thessalonica, (where the Jews also stirred up trouble),
Athens, Corinth, (where they picked up Aquila and Priscilla,
and where the Jews again sought to cause problems), and
finally Ephesus. Paul then sailed to Caesarea, stayed in
Jerusalem for the feast, and then returned to Antioch.

What is interesting about Paul's missionary journeys is that
even though he and his team were literally hundreds and
hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem, there were Jews and
synagogues in just about every place that they visited; and
in most cases they tried to stir up trouble against Paul. It
seems that by the first century, these enemies of Christ had
infiltrated all of the major cities and countries of
southern Europe since their dispersion from Israel almost
five hundred years before under the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar.
In fact, they had become such a conniving nuisance in Italy,
that Claudius Caesar, obviously aware of their agenda and
lust for power and influence, had to order them to leave
Rome:

"After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to
Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in
Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla;
(because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from
Rome:) and came unto them." (Acts 18:1-2)

Considering the above, is it any wonder then that today, two
thousand years later, the Jews have finally achieved their
goal and have now taken control of the political, financial
and religious empires of the world, including Rome itself?
They may not have Jewish names, they may not speak Hebrew,
but their goal is one and the same. They continue to reject
Christ just as they did two millennia ago, and they will use
all of the laws at their disposal to squelch the spread of
the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After returning to Antioch from his stay in Jerusalem, Paul
eventually headed out on his final missionary journey to
confirm the Churches. This excursion lasted approximately
four years. The majority of that time was spent in Ephesus
with Aquila and Priscilla, although he also spent some time
travelling through Macedonia and Greece:

"Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three
years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with
tears." (Acts 20:31)

On his return trip, Paul purposed to go to Jerusalem for the
day of Pentecost. He was repeatedly warned by the disciples
in various places that he should not go there because he
would be imprisoned. When Agabus the prophet attempted to
warn him, Paul responded with the following:

"...What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am
ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for
the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 21:13)

"And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received
us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto
James; and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:17-18)

Despite the great way in which the Lord was using him, Paul
remained a humble servant, ever mindful of his sinful
condition. In his letter to the Church at Corinth he writes:

"For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be
called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
(1 Corinthians 15:9)

As we know from the historic record, Paul eventually did pay
with his life when he was beheaded in Rome after several
years of house arrest. Paul knew that his days were
numbered. During his last visit to the church at Ephesus, he
said:

"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem,
not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that
the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds
and afflictions abide me. 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. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among
whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my
face no more." (Acts 20:22-25)

In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul also wrote:

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my
departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to
me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
(2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Paul was gladly received on his final visit to the brethren
in Jerusalem. However, what I find amazing is that James and
the others, because of their fear of the Law-abiding Jews,
still attempted to get Paul to compromise his radical
message. They wanted him to tone things down a bit so as to
not stir up trouble with the Jews. Unlike his previous
encounter with The Church Elders in chapter fifteen, Paul
went along with them this time and shaved his head and began
the seven days of purification according to Jewish custom,
to show that he still observed the Torah. In short, he
compromised his message to please The Elders and the Jews.
In spite of this, it still didn't save his neck. Some of the
very same Jews who had caused him problems during his
missionary journeys throughout Asia, were now in Jerusalem,
and they stirred up the people against him. One can only
wonder if these characters didn't just follow after Paul
like a pack of wolves nipping at his heels:

"And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which
were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up
all the people, and laid hands on him, Crying out, Men of
Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every
where against the people, and the law, and this place: and
further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath
polluted this holy place. (For they had seen before with him
in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that
Paul had brought into the temple.) And all the city was
moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and
drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were
shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto
the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an
uproar." (Acts 21:27-31)

If it hadn't been for the intervention of the Roman
peacekeepers, the jealous Jews would have probably killed
Paul on the spot, but the Lord wasn't quite through with him
yet. He still had some very important people to witness to:
the Caesars of Rome! When the Jews continued to demand
Paul's death, despite his attempt to witness to them on the
steps of the castle, the Romans attempted to carry him away
for flogging and questioning. Fortunately, through a bit of
quick thinking, Paul was able to avoid the flogging and was
only imprisoned. The next day, Claudius Lysias, the chief
captain, presented Paul before Ananias the hight priest and
the council of seventy. Through more quick thinking, Paul
turned his enemies against themselves, and the following
night the Lord revealed His final plans for Paul's life:

"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be
of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in
Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
(Acts 23:11)

While Paul was safely inside the castle walls, forty plus
Jewish zealots conspired with the High Priest and the
Sanhedrin to kill him. Fortunately, the chief captain became
aware of the evil plot because of one of Paul's young
relatives. As a result, Paul was secretly whisked away from
Jerusalem by night accompanied by two hundred soldiers,
seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. While the Romans
may not have understood Paul's important place in God's
plans, they were privy to the subtle nature of the Jews and
weren't about to take any chances. Paul was then safely
escorted to Governor Felix in the seaport of Caesarea on the
Mediterranean coast. When the High Priest and his entourage
arrived there five days later, they accused Paul of being
the ringleader of a sect. How similar this is to some among
organized religion today who make the same accusations
against any who might try to worship the Lord outside of
established churches:

"For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover
of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a
ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:" (Acts 24:5)

Despite the Jews' attempts to silence Paul, Felix found no
fault with him. In fact, he was very interested in what Paul
had to say regarding his new faith, being already familiar
with it himself; and was even hoping that Paul would pay him
a bribe so that he could set him free:

"And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife
Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard
him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of
righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix
trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I
have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped
also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he
might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and
communed with him." (Acts 24:24-26)

But Paul didn't give him a bribe as he knew the Lord wanted
him to go to Rome. Being the manpleaser that he was, when
Felix left office two years later, he left Paul in prison in
Caesarea:

"But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room:
and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul
bound." (Acts 24:27)

The minute Festus took over as the new governor, the Jews
again conspired to kill Paul, but Festus never gave them the
opportunity. Instead, when Festus offered to have Paul taken
to Jerusalem for questioning, Paul turned the tables on
everyone and made an appeal that he be tried before Caesar
Augustus:

"But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered
Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be
judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at
Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the
Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if
I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of
death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these
things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto
them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had
conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed
unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go." (Acts 25:9-12)

When Paul appeared before King Agrippa and Queen Bernice
while still in prison at Caesarea, Governor Festus accused
him of being out of his mind:

"And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud
voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth
make thee mad." (Acts 26:24)

However, Paul's testimony was so powerful that even the King
could not deny the Spirit of God, and he was cut to the
heart by Paul's words:

"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to
be a Christian." (Acts 26:28)

King Agrippa would have let Paul go right then and there had
it not been for the fact that Paul had already made a legal
appeal to Caesar to fulfill God's purposes:

"And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the
governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: And when
they were gone aside, they talked between themselves,
saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set
at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."
(Acts 26:30-32)

As we know from the final chapters of the book of Acts, Paul
was eventually shipped to Rome where he was given a hired
house to live in. He lived in bonds for another two years
while he continued to write and minister to the Early
Churches. In one of his final recorded conversations with
the Jewish elders at Rome, he said something which has held
true ever since then:

"And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed,
after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy
Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go
unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall
not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears
are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest
they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart, and should be converted,
and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that
the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that
they will hear it." (Acts 28:25-28)

And indeed we have! Thanks in large part to the untiring
work of Paul the Apostle, we Gentiles have received and
believed in the Word of God. Because of this man's
faithfulness, despite heavy Jewish persecution, many of us
today have received the free gift of salvation. In
speaking of his own sufferings for Christ, Paul tells us:

"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am
more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in
prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times
received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with
rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a
night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings
often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils
by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils
in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in
fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
(2 Corinthians 11:23-27)

Seeing then how devoted this man became to the Lord Jesus,
and how much he gave of himself, truly presenting his body a
living sacrifice, how is it that anyone can doubt the Divine
Inspiration of his Letters, be they Jew or Gentile? It just
doesn't make sense. Nowhere can we find where Paul's actions
or teachings contradict what the Lord taught. If anything,
the Lord used Paul to steer The Elders in Jerusalem in the
right direction concerning the matter of circumcision. In
every opportunity, Paul uplifted the Lord and His sacrifice
on the cross. Paul has done more for Christianity than many
men have done since. How many of his present day accusers
who seek to discredit his writings, can claim to have done
as much for the Lord or to have suffered as much? Let his
accusers come forth with their own testimonies. They would
probably pale by comparison. Largely due to Paul's labor of
love, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was carried outside of
Israel, and throughout Asia Minor all the way to Rome
itself. When John the Revelator received his prophecies for
the seven churches some thirty years later, it was to the
very churches which Paul had helped to establish through his
many years of tears and suffering:

"And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders
of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto
them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia,
after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many
tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait
of the Jews:" (Acts 20:17-19)

It was only natural that Paul would want to reach these
people; after all, he was from that very part of the world
himself:

"But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city
in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee,
suffer me to speak unto the people." (Acts 21:39)

While Paul was actually born in Tarsus, it should be noted
that, according to his final testimony on the steps of the
Roman castle in Jerusalem, he was taken to Jerusalem at an
early age:

"I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in
Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet
of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of
the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye
all are this day." (Acts 22:3)

The above discourse does not include every facet and every
detail of Paul's life or of his missionary journeys. To do
so would be quite lengthy. However, with what I have
presented, it is my hope that I have now dispelled any
doubts regarding the Divine Inspiration of the Gospels of
Mark and Luke, the book of Acts, and the Epistles of Paul.
All of these men had a very strong connection with the Lord
and with the other Apostles who had actually lived with
Jesus. While they may not have sat at His feet, they were in
communion with His Spirit. As I said when I began this
article, we cannot just pick and choose what we like and
leave the rest, particularly when our decision to do so is
based on faulty reasoning. We must be willing to accept the
whole counsel of God as written by His prophets, holy men
and Apostles. We have to go to the cafeteria and take the
whole course, and not just selected portions. As Paul said
to the elders at Ephesus:

"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel
of God." (Acts 20:27)

This leaves us with a small portion of the New Testament to
contend with. Concerning the non-Pauline epistles, we know
that they were all written by the Apostles and disciples who
did havae firsthand knowledge and experience with Jesus,
that is, James, Peter, John and Jude. As explained in my
article 'The Family Life Of Jesus Christ', some such as
myself believe that both James and Jude may have been two of
the flesh brothers of Jesus who later came to believe in
their older sibling. Please see that article for more
details.

The final book, the book of Revelation, was written by the
youngest disciple, John, who also wrote the Gospel of John.
If one accepts the Gospel of John as being Divinely
Inspired, then it should be an easy step to accept the Book
of Revelation which John wrote many years later when he was
exiled to the isle of Patmos in his old age. This is
believed to have been around 90 A.D. Truly, Revelation is
one of the greatest prophecies of the entire Bible. In
conjunction with the prophecies of Daniel, it provides us
with an amazing picture, not just of things which have
already been, but also of things which must shortly come to
pass.

So then, as I have now shown, to accept the four Gospels,
but to deny the rest of the New Testament as being Divinely
Inspired, is an error in judgment. These writings are deeply
intertwined. It is the same Spirit which inspired all of the
writers of the New Testament. In fact, it is the same Spirit
which inspired every single person who had anything to do
with writing the entire Bible. To deny this would be similar
to eating the outside of the sandwich but leaving the middle
untouched. It is for this reason that I firmly believe that
either we believe and accept the entire Bible as the
inspired Word of God, or else we don't. The minute we start
dissecting the Scriptures, there is no end to it. While I
esteem Jesus's words above all, I also accept the rest of
the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as the inspired Word
of God. I am reminded of something which Job said in the
middle of his afflictions:

"Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips;
I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my
necessary food." (Job 23:12)

We are to esteem the entire Bible the same, without
partiality, for as I have said before, the Old Testament is
the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the
Old Testament revealed. If you don't quite understand what
that means, it simply means that they complement each other.
The New Testament fulfills all of the Old Testament
prophecies regarding the birth, life, death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ. Everything was fulfilled in Jesus.
Likewise, everything written after the Gospels is for our
spiritual edification, as it grounds us in the history of
the Early Church, and provides us with the foundation and
pattern which we are to follow as God's Endtime Church. In
addition, as I have already stated, many passages in the New
Testament are prophetic in nature, and apply to these Last
Days. So then, for anyone to throw out or disregard any part
of the Bible because of personal prejudices, is to cut away
and leave out part of the full picture. As the Lord tells us
in His Word, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning
and the End:

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first
and the last." (Revelation 22:13)

In concluding the first part of this article, I would like
to recommend a movie which I saw many years ago which truly
left me inspired. If I recall correctly, it was simply
called 'Peter And Paul.' I don't recall who played the part
of Peter, but Anthony Hopkins did an excellent job in the
role of the Apostle Paul. Believe me, it is much better than
some of his more recent work such as 'The Silence Of The
Lambs.' The Lord truly anointed Hopkins in the movie 'Peter
And Paul.' If you haven't already seen it, I encourage you
to do so. You'll be glad you did. You may even be able to
purchase it on video in Christian book stores. Having now
done this study of the man's life, I can honestly say that I
truly admire and respect his love, faith and perseverance
even more than before. He is a Christian role model we
should all seek to live up to. Just reading about his
sacrificial example should show many of us how little we
really do for the Lord in our modern day. We have all been
blessed by this man's life. What are we doing about it?

In part two of this article, I will offer additional
comments concerning remarks I quoted at the beginning of
this paper. I trust this article has been an inspiration to
you all.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .


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