Apostle Paul hailed from the tribe of Benjamin. A Roman citizen, he was born in Tarsus and he expended most of his early life in Jerusalem as a student of the renowned and celebrated rabbi, Gamaliel.
He was also a Pharisee, a member of the strictest Jewish sect (a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs from those of a larger group to which they belong). He was miraculously converted while on his way to Damascus to seize believers who professed Christ backed up with legal authority. He was apprehended by God and afterwards he began to proclaim the gospel message. After narrowly escaping from Damascus with his life, Paul spent three years in Arabia, during which he received much of his doctrine as direct revelation from God.
More than any other individual, Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. He made three missionary journeys through much of the Mediterranean world, tirelessly and assiduously preaching the gospel that he had once sought to destroy.
After Paul returned to Jerusalem bearing an offering for the needy in the church there, he was falsely accused by some Jews, ferociously and brutally beaten by an angry gang, and arrested by the Romans.
Felix and Festus, who were Roman governors, as well as Herod Agrippa did not find him guilty of any crime, but pressure from the Jewish leaders kept Paul in Roman custody. After two years, the Apostle exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case to Caesar.
Through a traumatic and distressing trip, including a violent two-week storm at the sea that culminated in wreckage, Paul reached Rome. Eventually, he was released for a brief period of ministry, but was later arrested again. He eventually suffered martyrdom (execution/slaughter) at Rome.
In addition to being physically unimpressive, Paul was not an imposing person. He suffered hardships and ailments that were related to his own physical weakness. Paul possessed an inner strength (asset) granted him through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Grace of God proved sufficient to make available for his every need, enabling this noble servant of Christ to successfully finish his spiritual race.
The false teachers added Paul’s physical defects to their long list of and claimed that he was unfit for leadership. They also commented on the sound and tenor of his voice, his rhetorical and oratorical skills and his style of delivery and academic level of its content. He was not an attractive man. He wasn’t anything special.
He was demeaned and denigrated for:
- His physical imperfections.
- His Human weakness.
- The way he looked.
- The manner in which he spoke and his contemptible speech.
- The weakness he had bodily.
Pauls gospel was the message of Jesus’ life and glory that he was apprehended by God to minister. Peter and the others promoted it, but Paul was the distinguished steward of it. Peter and the other disciples as part of the twelve bore their testimony to Israel but were rejected like their Lord, and then became witnesses to the heavenly call of the Church.
The vision Peter had in Acts 9, would have made this easy for him to see, that God had also sanctified the Gentiles: the four-footed beast was let down from heaven, and taken up again into heaven. This was a symbol of the mystery hid from ages. It denotes that the Church had been of old written in heaven and hid there with God, but now for a little season was manifested here, and in the end was to be hid in heaven again, having her glory and inheritance there.
To Paul, a dispensation of the Gospel was committed to him, and woe to him if he did not preach it (1Cor 9:16, 17). Though, as he speaks, it was even against his will, yet he must preach it. Jesus was revealed in him for this very purpose, that he might preach/teach Him among the Gentile/heathen (Gal 1:16). His commission from God was “Rise and Stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and those things in which I will appear unto thee.” The ministry of Paul should then be profitable to Christians discerning rightly because his ministry was thus one stage in the Divine process of laying out the plans/purposes of God.
After his office was defined by God, immediately he refuses to confer with flesh and blood – refuses to go up to Jerusalem to them that were Apostles before him. He was not to get himself sanctioned there or by them, because before his commission, the twelve had all authority. The Apostles were nothing to him and his ministry; they had not cast the lot to elect him as one of them and therefore were not in the right place to send him forth.
The Holy Ghost will therefore say “separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them” and having thus received grace and apostleship from the Lord, in the glory, and being now sent forth by the Holy Ghost, in full consistency with all this, he and Barnabas receive recommendation to the grace of God, from the unconsecrated hands of some unnamed brethren at Antioch. All this was a grievous breach upon that order that was to establish the earth in righteousness, beginning at Jerusalem.
Not only was Paul’s Apostleship and mission thus independent of Jerusalem, and of the twelve; but the gospel, which he preached, was also devoid of Jerusalem, he didn’t learn from them or with them. He once mentioned that he did not get his gospel from man neither was he taught by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ.
He went up from Antioch to Jerusalem, to confer with the other disciples/apostles about circumcision, but before he did, he withstood some, though they had come from James and rebuked Peter before them all. These things were ordered in the provident wisdom of the Spirit; just as Jesus rebukes his mother. The Spirit of the Lord, foreseeing the boasts in the flesh, which would arise from both these sources, from Mary and Peter, thus has given him these signs of his heavenly path.
The Lord appeared to him in those things of which he was to be a minister and witness. Paul did not confer with flesh and blood – he did not become a debtor to any but to Himself for his gospel. For as the dispensation was to allow no confidence in the flesh, neither was Paul’s Apostleship. All that was to be gained in the flesh was to be counted loss.
The confidence with those who had seen and heard, eaten and drunk with Jesus, might have been gain; but all this was set aside. Paul would thankfully be refreshed in the Spirit by the mutual faith of himself and the humblest disciple. The earlier pillars of the ministry could not be used to support his ministry. THE JEWISH ORDER WAS GONE.
Paul’s ministry had no respect for the status quo because the Jewish order was earthly and of the flesh. The message of the Gospel interfered with it. He wrote as one inspired by Holy Spirit as the Jewish order was revoked. He became the subject of attack from evil men who were moved by Satan to inflict upon him bodily harm and infiltrate the church with false teachers and false teaching.
To know the mind of the Spirit, one would need to understand the letters of this Apostle. Jesus said he could not say some things to His disciples but advised on the office of the Holy Spirit for the message to the Church.
If we are saved today, it will be because we have yielded to this Gospel, which the Apostle presented when he wrote to the Church at Rome. Romans 2:16
If there is a CHURCH today in the world, it would have been formed by the Holy Spirit through the letters of this martyr APOSTLE PAUL, because he holds a distinguished place in the Church. He introduces Himself as Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle and separated unto the Gospel of God. I wish I knew his surname.