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Doctrine of Paul

August 2, 2014

DOCTRINE OF PAUL

A. General Description of Paul.
1. Paul is the Roman name of the Jew named Saul of Tarsus. While he was a Jew and the greatest genius in all of history, he was also the all-time greatest Roman. He was a Jew by race but a Roman by citizenship, the greatest Roman of all for that nation. Next to him, the greatest Roman citizen was Gaius Julius Caesar, an unbeliever.
2. At the time Paul wrote the New Testament epistles, everyone in the world was trying to acquire a Roman citizenship, which was considered to be one of the greatest privileges in the world. Paul was a third‑generation citizen of Rome.
3. There have been many famous Roman citizens, but Paul and Caesar are by far the greatest. Paul is placed above Caesar because he actually did more for SPQR than Caesar did, and Caesar is responsible for the administration and the political perpetuation of the Romans into the Empire and for another 350‑400 years. But Paul is responsible for SPQR becoming the first Gentile client nation to God, and for its perpetuation up through 500 years. Between them, these two made it possible for SPQR to be the greatest Gentile client nation in all of human history. Paul was a believer with maximum invisible impact; Caesar was an unbeliever with maximum visible impact.
4. The Roman name Paul occurs first in Acts 13:9. “But Saul, who was also known as Paul, having been filled with the Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and spoke.” Saul was known as Paul all his life. But because he lived among Jewish circles, he generally did not use his Roman name. As Saul of Tarsus, he became the #1 man in the Sanhedrin. In fact, he held all the offices of the Jews except that of high priest, for which his tribe of Benjamin was not qualified. But his Roman name Paul was given to him at his birth by his father. (In those days, fathers named their children.) Saul was named after his ancestor King Saul. It’s interesting that both Paul and Caesar were aristocrats.
5. The Jewish profile of Paul is given in Eph 3:5. Paul was the only Roman citizen who was also a Jewish Pharisee, Acts 22:28; Phil 3:5. In Acts 22:24‑28, Paul was the only Roman citizen who was responsible for the pivot.

B. Paul’s Roman Citizenship.
1. “I, Paul” (Eph 3:1) means a lot of things.
a. As a zealous Pharisee and an unbeliever, Paul was the persecutor of the Church until his conversion, 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13.
b. While many famous Church Age believers of the first century contributed to the formation of a pivot and the establishment concepts in SPQR as the first Gentile client nation in history (people like John, Peter, Titus, and Timothy), Paul was the only one of the apostles who was a Roman. All the apostles were Jews by race; eleven were Jews by nationality. But Paul was a Roman by nationality.
2. Therefore, when Paul begins to write the most important of all chapters in the New Testament, he says “EGO PAULUS,” which means “I Paul” ‑ the Roman citizen. What he is about to say in Eph 3 is the key to the perpetuation of the times of the Gentiles during the Church Age. Paul was the only Roman citizen responsible for the pivot that began client nation SPQR.
3. Acts 22:24‑29 is the record of the Roman brigade commander in Jerusalem. His headquarters was at the Mark Anthony barracks, the military organization stationed next to the Temple. When there was a riot in the temple, this brigade commander, called KILIARCHOS (equivalent to our brigade or divisional commander; Latin is TRIBUNE), sent a detachment to the Temple under a centurion. He had purchased his own Roman citizenship. So the Roman soldiers went into the riot in the temple, pulled Paul out, and Acts 22:24 picks up the story.
a. Verse 24, “The tribune ordered him to be brought to the barracks, saying that he should be examined by scourging, so that he might find out the reason why they were rioting against him that way.” A sure way to be executed is to scourge a Roman citizen. Scourging was a way that Romans got a lot of information in hurry, for their whips had bits of bone and metal in it. But they could not do this to Roman citizens; they could only do it to non‑citizens.
b. Verse 25, “When they [Romans soldiers] reached out with the thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was supervising the scourging, ‘Is it lawful for you to scourge an uncondemned Roman citizen?’” The thongs were to tie his hands behind his back, or sometimes over a barrel so as to skin him all the way down his back. It was the Roman way to scourge first to be more sure that the truth was being told once they began questioning the suspect. Imagine the expression on the centurion’s face upon hearing this!
c. Verse 26, “Now when the centurion heard this, he ran to the tribune and reported to him saying, ‘What are you about to do? This man is a Roman!’” They could all lose their jobs, be punished and even executed for this! Court‑martial meant execution. If you made the mistake of maltreating a Roman citizen, that was serious! “This man is a Roman” is emphasized because what is in Eph 3 is for the Gentiles. Paul was a Roman (Gentile) citizen, the greatest of all. In fact, when Nero put Paul to death, he had to do it in Roman style: Paul had his head cut off.
d. Verse 27‑28, “Then the tribune came and said to him, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he replied, ‘Yes.’” Then the tribune answered, ‘I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.’ Paul answered, ‘I was BORN a Roman citizen.’” A large sum of money was half a million dollars. Roman citizenship didn’t come easy. You could get it by serving in the military for twenty years, provided it was honorable service.
4. So remember that Paul was a Roman citizen. He was also one of the most successful young men in the Jewish body politic in Judea. At a very early age, he became a Pharisee.
5. The eleven apostles who were the apostles to Israel were all Jewish citizens and Jews by race. They will now go to SPQR, but they were not Roman citizens. But when God appointed the twelfth apostle, He appointed a Jew by race but a Roman by birth. Therefore, only Paul among the eleven had a ministry to the Gentiles.

C. Paul’s Spiritual Gift of Apostleship.
1. The gift of apostleship is the first and highest of all spiritual gifts ever given. It is listed in 1 Cor 12:28 and Eph 4:11.
2. The apostles with super‑numerary powers were 12 men in the early church who had the spiritual gift. Eleven of these were carried over from being the apostles to Israel, as named in Mt 10:2‑4. The only one not carried over on that roster was Judas Iscariot. Therefore, the Bible distinguishes between the apostles to Israel and the apostles to the Church. Paul replaced Judas Iscariot according to 1 Cor 15:7‑10.
3. The spiritual gift of apostleship carried the highest authority God has ever delegated in the Church Age. The apostle had authority over all local churches, in contrast to the pastor whose authority extends over only one local church. In 1 Cor 12:28, the gift of apostleship is first in order of merit.
4. The spiritual gift of apostleship carried fantastic absolute authority. It was designed for two purposes.
a. The formation of the Canon of Scripture, the New Testament. This absolute authority was restricted to the pre‑Canon period of the Church Age, from 30 to 96 A.D.
b. The establishment of local churches, and the communication and maintenance of orthodox mystery doctrine of the Church Age until the Canon was completed. The gift also functioned in training pastors, sending out colonial apostles (super missionaries), and making policy prior to the completion of the New Testament.
5. Apostles were not appointed until after the resurrection of Christ. Eph 4:8, “And He has distributed spiritual gifts to men.” Eph 4:11, “And He gave some apostles.” 1 Cor 12:11, 28. Until Christ’s session there were no apostles.
6. The spiritual gift of apostleship was temporary and discontinued after the completion of the Canon. The removal of this temporary gift began with the post‑Canon period of the Church Age.
7. 1 Cor 12:11 says the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestowed the gift of apostleship. 1 Cor 12:28, “Furthermore, God has appointed first apostles.” That means first in order of authority and power.
8. Peter, James, and John were apostles to the Jews, Gal 2:7,9.
9. The twelfth apostle was Paul. But before he was recognized as such, a farce occurred in Acts 1. Peter suggested that they elect someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot.
a. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ gave the first spiritual gifts to the Church on the Day of Pentecost; after that they are sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit. You do not elect what is sovereignly given by God! The church voted for Matthias. But Matthias was not appointed by God to replace Judas, Acts 1:15‑26. The volition of mankind is never involved in spiritual gifts.
b. The twelfth man was to be the apostle Paul, 1 Cor 15:7‑10, “Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as it were to one untimely born [a bastard], He appeared to me also on the Damascus Road. For I am the least of the apostles who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church. By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove empty [vain], but I labored even more than all of them [the 11]; yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
c. One of the requirements for this spiritual gift was that the apostle see the resurrected Christ. Paul saw the resurrected Christ on the Damascus Road, according to Acts 9:3‑6, 22:6‑11 and 26:13‑18. Next He appeared to Paul again in Arabia according to Gal 1:17. Then He appeared to Paul in the Temple, Acts 9:26‑30, 22:17‑21. Finally, He appeared to Paul in prison, Acts 23:11. So Paul saw the resurrected Christ on four different occasions.
d. In genuine humility, Paul wrote that he was the worst sinner who ever lived, and here that he was the least of all the apostles. As an unbeliever, Paul murdered many Christians. Yet he became the greatest Church Age Christian!
e. Paul became an apostle as a result of the sovereign decision of Jesus Christ according to Eph 4:11. Paul was given the spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit according to 1 Cor 12:11.
10. In 1 Tim 1:12‑15, Paul is described as the worst of all sinners before his salvation. Verse 12‑14, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who made me strong, because He considered me faithful, putting me into the ministry. And even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor, but I have received mercy because, being ignorant, I did it in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was superabundant with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”
11. After his salvation, Paul is described as the “least of all saints” in Eph 3:8.
12. From this we learn that humility is the secret to attaining greatness. No matter what the field, without humility, greatness cannot be sustained. Arrogance creates a tragic flaw and destroys anyone’s success or prosperity. No one can be an invisible hero under arrogance, the greatest corrupter in life.

D. Paul’s Imprisonments.
1. Paul wrote the New Testament epistles as a prisoner. He was taken out of the mainstream of Christianity after three great missionary journeys. But when it came time for someone to present the mechanics and modus operandi of the great power experiment of the Church Age, God had to take Paul aside and put him away where he would sit down and do nothing but write. All his communication had to be by letter.
2. Paul was incarcerated three times in three different places.
a. He was temporarily retained in the Mark Anthony barracks in Jerusalem until the assassination plot for him was discovered. This was when forty assassins took an oath that they would not eat until they had killed him.
b. He was moved and imprisoned two years in Caesarea, the Roman capital of the Province of Judea, 59‑60 A.D.
c. He was imprisoned in Rome, 61‑62 A.D., during which time he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, which we call the prison epistles.
3. While Paul was imprisoned on other occasions for the cause of Christ, these three are related to Paul’s greatest failure as a mature believer.
4. In fact, he had a temporary setback that pushed him all the way back to reversionism. In this failure in 58 A.D., in a moment of emotional irrationality, Paul made a sentimental journey to Jerusalem contrary to the will of God. This was his fifth trip, Acts 21:10‑14.
5. To make matters worse, Paul offered a legalistic vow in the temple in order that he might have a better reception for the Gospel among the Jews. There is no place for vows in the protocol plan of God, for it is a piece of arrogance and rejected in this Church Age.
6. This fifth trip to Jerusalem in violation of God’s will and the vow in the Temple violated two principles:
a. God provides a place of ministry for each one.
b. God provides the hearers for a prepared man.
7. Paul was the equivalent of a pastor‑teacher, but on a greater scale. Therefore God provided the place of ministry for prepared Paul. For Paul to have the most effective ministry of all time and to be able to deal with many congregations, he had to be imprisoned in Rome where he couldn’t look out at people. He had to pick up the pen, which is not only mightier than the sword but also mightier than the tongue. The ink dries and remains; the tongue and its owner dies.
8. The Jerusalem fiasco resulted in a temple riot, which almost cost Paul his life. However, he was rescued by a squad of Roman soldiers from the nearby Mark Anthony barracks. He was then taken into custody; first in Jerusalem, then in Caesarea, and finally in Rome itself.
9. In Caesarea, Paul made his defense before Felix who was the Roman procurator. Judea was a third class Roman Province, and therefore it was not ruled by a governor but by a procurator. Paul remained in custody there for two years, during which time he made a complete spiritual recovery and continued his momentum from spiritual maturity to evidence testing.
10. In A.D. 60, Paul defended himself before Festus who had succeeded Felix as the procurator of the Province of Judea. Felix made a close friend with King Herod of Agrippa because he wanted to marry into the family. Herod had two famous sisters: Drusilla and Bernice. Paul had witnessed to all these people. In desperation, he got tired of all this and was shipped to Rome.
11. Before he failed in this emotional trip to Jerusalem, Paul had advanced as far as part three of momentum testing, gate #7 of the divine dynasphere. He failed in thought testing, overcome by emotion. He fell into reversionism and then recovered, advanced to gate #5, #6 and then #7. During his two years in Caesarea and the shipwreck on the Mediterranean, Paul had by then passed all four parts of momentum testing.
a. His people testing came from the Jews, Romans and Arabs (Herod Agrippa II had Arabian blood). He passed people testing. He faced the vicious attitude of the high priest Ananias in Acts 23‑24. He faced the rejection of the Gospel by King Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice and the crowd that attended them.
b. He passed system testing: the malfunction of Roman justice under the Procurator Felix and then under the Procurator Festus. He was not released and set free though he was innocent and everyone recognized that.
c. Paul faced and passed thought testing, demonstrated by his attitude when he was bitten by the very poisonous snake, Acts 28:3‑6; by his attitude when rejected by the Jews in Rome, Acts 23:23‑31; by his dynamic mental attitude during the great storm disaster, Acts 27:31‑44.
d. On the way to Rome, Paul faced and passed disaster testing in experiencing the storm at sea and the shipwreck onto the island of Malta, Acts 27. Another disaster was the assassination plot against him by the Jews in Acts 23:12‑14.
12. After spending the winter in Malta, in A.D. 61, his voyage to Rome was resumed. Paul landed in Putioli as a mature believer and from there traveled to Rome where he was delivered to the famous Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Burus, who put him under house arrest.
13. In 62 A.D., Paul sat down and penned these words in Eph 3:1, “EGO PAULUS DESMIOS: I Paul a prisoner.”
14. For an active man like Paul to be confined to prison for four years was quite a test. The only time he was out of prison in that period was during his trip to Rome and the shipwreck. During this time when he was taken out of action, there was a great deal of concern for him throughout the Roman Empire where he had ministered.
15. Instead of making a fifth journey to Jerusalem, it is apparent that it was God’s will for the apostle Paul to take a fourth missionary journey into the western part of the Roman Empire: Gaul (France) and Spain. Not until he was released from prison (64 A.D.) after his first trial did he finally make it to Spain.
16. But that four‑year delay in his life was not wasted, because during that time He pulled together in the most fantastic detail in the prison epistles the mystery doctrine of the Church Age. Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians pull together everything you need to become an invisible hero. These three great books teach the essence of the mystery doctrine. Other New Testament epistles mention only certain aspects of it.
17. God’s timing is perfect. Paul got out of the cycle of God’s timing by going on his own to Jerusalem totally apart from the will of God. He made a fantastic and quick recovery. To get back into God’s timing, he wrote this fantastic epistle of Ephesians.
18. In the Christian way of life, setbacks are designed by God for the advance of positive believers to spiritual maturity. Therefore, setbacks are designed to manufacture invisible heroes!
19. The apostle Paul was under house arrest for two years while waiting for his trial before Nero, according to Acts 28:30. During that time, he became acquainted with the Roman military.
a. For his failure, Paul was very close to the sin unto death when the mob attacked him. But the squad of Roman soldiers rescued him. This brings up the principle that you must have some police system if you are going to have establishment as the basis for law and order and therefore freedom.
b. When a Jew became angry, the Temple was no longer a sacred building but a place of anger, hatred, envy, implacability; the Jews tried to kill Paul on the spot. The law and order of the Roman military protected his life.
c. Paul was escorted to the Mark Anthony barracks adjoining the Temple, where his Roman citizenship protected him from any further violence. The Roman army protected him thereafter.
d. It was undoubtedly under this protective arrest that Paul rebounded and began his recovery from his greatest failure.
20. All this is given in retrospection in Phil 3. In verses 9‑11, we see his perspective in his recovery of spiritual self-esteem. In verses 12‑14, we see his perspective of his recovery to spiritual autonomy. In verse 15, we see his recovery of the mental attitude of spiritual maturity. The problem-solving devices for spiritual adulthood are given throughout Philippians.
21. So from the point of his rebound on, Paul became the prisoner of Jesus Christ, not the prisoner of the Roman Empire. Once in spiritual maturity, Paul had no bitterness.
22. As a prisoner of Jesus Christ, Paul had the opportunity of communicating the Gospel during those four years to some very important people in the Roman Empire.
a. First he witnessed to Felix and his Jewish wife Drusilla, the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I.
b. Later Paul spoke before King Herod Agrippa II, brother of Drusilla, and Drusilla’s other famous redheaded sister, Bernice.
c. Toward the middle of 68 A.D., when Portius Festus succeeded Antonius Felix as the procurator, this was all a part of God’s master plan. For Paul could preach to the most famous Roman in the middle east at that time, Felix, as well as the other royal family members: Drusilla, Herod Agrippa II, and Bernice. Once all this was accomplished, then Paul was moved on to Rome. This move to Rome occurred because of famous words, “I appeal to Caesar.”
d. Thus, Paul was moved to Rome where he had daily contact with the most famous people in the Praetorium Guard and in the palace.
23. As a prisoner of Christ Jesus, Paul refused to succumb to self-pity. This is the first problem most active people have when they are unjustly imprisoned. Paul did not regard himself as a victim of Jewish injustice or of assassination conspiracy. For note that in Eph 3:1, he did not call himself the “prisoner of Jewish conspiracy, the victim of injustice.” He doesn’t even say he was the victim of the cupidity and avarice of Felix, who was waiting for a bribe to release him immediately. Nor did Paul say he was the victim of the political ambition of Festus and the almost‑persuaded King Herod Agrippa II or his incestuous sister Bernice (who subsequently became famous as the mistress of two Roman emperors, Vespatian and Titus).
24. The first phrase in Eph 3:1a, “For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus,” reflects Paul’s complete recovery from the Jerusalem fiasco as well as his recovery of his spiritual maturity. The autobiographical statement of his recovery is given in Phil 3.
25. After being four years out of circulation, Paul first had to go east to Asia Minor (by way of Philippi and Thessalonica) and visit all the churches where he had ministered before, and then to come back across the Mediterranean to Spain. That he revisited Asia Minor is found in Phil 2:23‑24 and Phile 22. This means that Paul traveled overland on the famous Ignatian Highway to Philippi.
26. From there he went on to Ephesus and the Lycus Valley. He visited Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierpolis where he had previously not been. In the Lycus Valley, Paul shut down Gnosticism, as we knew he would from his writing of Colossians.
27. In 65 A.D., Paul finally made his fourth missionary journey after being freed by Nero. He traveled west to Spain, as we knew he would from Rom 15:24, 28. He made the trip by sea across the Mediterranean from Ephesus to Marseille. This means he bypassed Rome, where Nero was then blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome in 64 AD.
28. From Marseille, Paul sailed to Gedes, a Roman port in Spain. He spent the best part of two years in Spain.
29. From Spain, Paul returned to Ephesus by sea, where he left Timothy as the pastor. Therefore, when Paul went on from Ephesus to Macedonia, he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus at that time.
30. Then Paul went to Nicopolis and Epirus, a very famous city built by Augustus in B.C. 30. He went there while they were commemorating the victory of Actium, the reason why the city was built. Paul wintered in Nicopolis in 67‑68 A.D.
31. In the spring of 68 A.D., the Roman secret service caught up with Paul and arrested him. He was transported to Rome for his second Roman imprisonment and his second trial before Caesar. This time, Caesar ordered that he die. Being a Roman citizen, he was taken out to the edge of the city where he was decapitated, a painless death.
32. Because Nero ordered Paul’s death, within three months Nero killed himself as his assassins were closing in on him.
33. Paul’s evidence testing during his first Roman imprisonment probably continued during his fourth missionary journey. We can safely assume he had passed evidence testing once he was released from his first Roman imprisonment.

E. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
1. So God was showing Paul that these three imprisonments would make him something that had never occurred before. He was the only apostle who was a Roman citizen and therefore was the apostle to the Gentiles. But it took Paul four years of imprisonment to finally discover that his ministry was not to the Jews, as he had attempted to prove in his diversion to Jerusalem.
2. Having been a famous Jewish unbeliever, it was his desire to lead the Jews to the Lord. He always had a burden for the Jews, but they were not to be the objects of his ministry. In fact, the opposite occurred. The Jews followed him all around the world, trying to destroy his ministry. But the power of God overruled. Paul’s was a ministry of Bible doctrine, and regardless of his failures or sins, God protected him from the Judaizers.
3. The rest of Eph 3:1 shows that Paul finally understood that once he was released from prison, his ministry was no longer to be related in any way to reaching the Jews. He understood very clearly that while he was burdened for the Jews, He would minister to the Gentiles. (Apply this to missionaries who should not necessarily go to those people for whom they are burdened. Because when you are burdened for people, you have a tendency to get too emotional and therefore are not professional in your communication of Bible doctrine.)
4. God has a marvelous sense of humor and often moves communicators away from where they wanted to go. Paul’s next mission field would be Spain; you couldn’t get farther away from Jerusalem then.
5. Paul had been a visible hero among the Jews as an unbeliever. Now he would become an invisible hero and do the greatest thing that would ever be done in all the Church Age: sit down and write the prison epistles under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Three of them contain all the details of the protocol plan of God, all the mechanics, and everything that is significant in the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union, and it would all be directed toward Gentiles. Paul would become the greatest pro who ever lived in the communication of Bible doctrine.
6. While Paul was a great speaker, it would really become his pen, under the ministry and guidance of the Spirit that would be his greatest impact.
7. Eph 3:1, “For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus, for the sake of you the Gentiles –.”
8. From time to time, Paul will lead Jewish unbelievers to the Lord, and he will train Jewish pastor‑teachers of the early church. But his ministry was not to the Jews.
9. So it was during his house arrest while awaiting trial before Nero that Paul came to recognize once and for all the fact that his ministry would be to the Gentiles.
10. The smartest Jew in all of history became the apostle to the Gentiles and at the same time, as a Roman citizen, he became the greatest Roman in all of history.
11. Through the writing of the fantastic mystery doctrine of the great power experiment of the Church Age, Paul fulfills his apostleship to the Gentiles as a Roman citizen, and provides both the message and the mechanics of the mystery doctrine of the Church Age.

F. Results of Paul’s Imprisonment.
1. The principle of Eph 3:1: The attainment of spiritual maturity results in a very strong personal sense of destiny.
2. Never again in the lifetime of Paul did he ever doubt his destiny. He had a personal sense of destiny that is much stronger than spiritual self-esteem; it is something that a mature believer who has passed evidence testing has.
3. Paul, therefore, becomes the pattern for invisible heroes.
4. During his three imprisonments in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome, God provided Paul the opportunity to sort out once and for all the priorities for his life. In doing so, from this time on, Paul had the most phenomenal ministry anyone has ever had. Not that it wasn’t great before, but now it moved into a higher sphere. It became the baseline for the Roman Empire becoming the first Gentile client nation to God. Paul finally oriented to the times of the Gentiles.
5. In each of the categories of suffering that Paul endured in his recovery (providential preventative suffering, momentum testing, and evidence testing), these were the means of advancing and consolidating something that very few people ever really achieve in this life: +H and the strongest possible personal sense of destiny.
6. Greatness in invisible heroes has two characteristics for the believer: +H and personal sense of destiny. This means fantastic protection against arrogance and therefore a life of great tranquility on this earth! Such believers live well and they die well! You can be such an invisible hero! Paul is the pattern.
7. Having a personal sense of destiny doesn’t mean you will be a ruler or some famous visible hero. But it means your personal sense of destiny is related to God’s plan for your life. That plus the tranquility of sharing the happiness of God (+H) is the most fantastic thing in life. It affects your every relationship and area of your life. In spite of the great historical disasters coming to us, you can still have a great tranquility, a marvelous sense of destiny, and follow Paul’s pattern in becoming an invisible hero.
8. Incarceration gave Paul a chance to express the greatest genius anyone has ever had in a language. Paul actually invented a new Greek language that took the best from Koine, Hellenistic, and Attic Greek. He included Atticisms, Latinisms, Semitisms, and put it all together in the language of his epistles. The Pauline epistles are the quintessence of greatness in expression of language and absolute clarity.
9. In the language of the Pauline epistles, the Bible cannot be interpreted in different ways. It has only one interpretation, for it is just as precise as any system of mathematics. There is nothing more precise and lucid in its interpretation and application than the language Paul used.
10. Incarceration gave Paul a chance to organize his life on the basis of Biblical and Doctrinal priorities. Paul was given four years to catch up with his destiny, and he did. He became the lead‑off batter for mystery doctrine; the pattern for invisible heroes.
11. Paul’s ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles is confirmed.
a. In Rom 11:13, he knew this would be his direction, but he had never established the right priorities for it. “I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” He magnified his ministry because his priorities were straight.
b. Rom 15:15-16, “I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given to me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the Gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
(1) Always understanding that he was the product of grace kept Paul from arrogance. The only way that arrogance finally got to Paul was through emotion about Jerusalem.
(2) Although Paul understood the issue of his ministry to the Gentiles, it was never consolidated until his imprisonment.
c. 1 Tim 2:7 was written after Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment. “For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle as a teacher of the Gentiles in doctrine and in truth.”
(1) Notice in the first phrase how very clear he was about his destiny. He understood perfectly without equivocation that he was a herald and so was out speaking again. As an apostle, he was still writing.
(2) Now he calls himself something far greater than an “apostle to the Gentiles.” Now that he is totally oriented to life, he calls himself a “teacher of the Gentiles in doctrine and in truth.”
(3) Principle: No teacher of Bible doctrine is everyone’s right pastor. Paul was not a right pastor to the Jews.
d. Eph 3:1,8; Gal 2:2,8; Col 1:27; 2 Tim 1:11, 4:17.
12. Far more important than the preaching to a few Jews in Jerusalem is Paul’s world‑wide ministry to the Gentiles, not only in the time in which he lived, but extended to billions and trillions of Gentiles since he penned these words. He outstripped all his contemporaries when he began to write.
13. During his three sequential imprisonments, Paul again recovered fully his spiritual maturity, passed evidence testing, and became the #1 witness for Jesus Christ and for God the Father as the Prosecutor in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial.
14. Spiritual maturity results in a personal sense of destiny.
15. While Paul is everyone’s right pastor in the sense of the writing of his epistles, not every pastor today is everyone’s right pastor‑teacher.
16. The other apostles are not close to the greatness of Paul.
17. During his first Roman imprisonment, Paul realized that his ministry to the Gentiles had #1 priority in his life. Shortly after Paul’s death, the times of the Gentiles, prophesied by our Lord in Lk 21, would begin and run coterminously with the Church Age.
18. During this time, only Gentile nations can be client nations to God. The first one, thanks to the great leadership of the greatest believer who ever lived, Paul, became the greatest client nation ever, i.e., SPQR.
19. When Paul wrote Ephesians, he was a winner, an invisible hero in the protocol plan of God, in the great power experiment of the Church Age.

G. Paul the Messenger.
1. God so supernaturally directed the human intelligence of human authors of Scripture, like Paul, that without waiving their genius, individuality, literary style, personal feelings, or any other human factor, God’s complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship.
2. God the Holy Spirit provided the inhale of the mystery doctrine of the Church Age. Paul exhaled from his genius, his literary style, and this doctrine in writing.
3. Being a genius and a prepared man, Paul’s Greek is unique, containing not only Koine, but also Aolicisms, Doricisms, Ionicisms, Atticisms, Latinisms, and Semitisms. Paul was the most prepared man in all of human history to communicate this important information.
4. However, it wasn’t Paul’s genius intellect that reached out into space and came up with the answers; it was revelation from God; it was grace; it was given to him. Even though he had a fantastic academic background and was a prepared man in every way, it was not these things that God used at that moment.
5. So the man to whom this information was given had the greatest intellect and eloquence of his day, but he was not arrogant about anything. He had the most fantastic life and the greatest capacity for life because of this humility. Some of his humility was enforced, having been put under systems of authority that brought it about; the rest of it was genuine. The combination was unbeatable. None of us are worth anything without humility.
6. The greatest genius of history was the recipient of divine revelation regarding the mystery doctrine of the Church Age. Genius must be humble to receive the absolute doctrine of the Church Age. Paul was.
7. Greatness in every category of life is corrupted by arrogance. This emphasizes the importance of gate #3 of the divine dynasphere: enforced and genuine humility, the basis for objectivity and teachability. You lose your capacity for life if you are no longer teachable. If you are no longer teachable, you cannot function, and arrogance will corrupt and destroy you.
8. Paul was a genius, but he did not permit arrogance to destroy his function of his grace metabolism. Therefore, he became the greatest communicator of the great power experiment of the Church Age.
9. This dispensation that produces invisible heroes was revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostle Paul. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles with the message for the times of the Gentiles. He was also the apostle of grace for the communication of the grace perspective.
10. In grace orientation, Paul describes himself in three ways.
a. 1 Tim 1:12‑14, “I thank our Lord Jesus Christ who has strengthened me because He considered me faithful, putting me into the ministry. And even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor, but I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief. In fact, the grace of our Lord was more abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”
b. As an apostle, he calls himself the “least of all apostles” in 1 Cor 15:9.
c. As a believer, he calls himself the “least of all saints” in Eph 3:8. What a contrast with Descartes who said, “I think; therefore, I exist.” While Paul was a much greater thinker than Descartes, he did not start with himself but he started with God and what God revealed to him.
11. This is the perspective of grace. God revealed Himself to Paul. Paul did not use his genius mind to discover God.
12. For those who begin in grace (like using rebound when necessary), they have a tendency to continue in grace. But for those who are legalistic (arrogant in works) regarding rebound, never understand grace or come close to becoming a winner or an invisible hero in the great power experiment of the Church Age. Such people are always fighting grace.

H. Paul’s Reversionism.
1. Paul’s wrongdoing was far greater than sin. Wrongdoing is far worse than sin because it includes grieving, quenching, and lying to the Holy Spirit. There are over 365 verses on Paul’s wrongdoing. Paul had just finished writing Romans and Galatians and then went out and violated the concepts related to them. This occurred in 58 A.D. The prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) reflect his recovery from reversionism.
a. You must never let Christian experience get you out of fellowship. Behind Christian experience must be true doctrine.
b. True doctrine demands true experience. Today most believers have no concept of the spiritual life and are under punishment and trying to compensate for that punishment by gaining the attention of God by their works.
c. When you get into punishment and reject rebound, it is inevitable that you will come up with false doctrine.
d. Paul’s failure was wrongdoing, and it was quite a while before he rebounded. When he rebounded, he was purified from all wrongdoing, and that is the only thing that kept him from the sin unto death.
e. It was God’s will for Paul to be the pastor of the Roman church. But Paul went to Jerusalem instead, and that was the beginning of wrongdoing.
f. Paul failed miserably because he became emotional about Jerusalem and the Jews there.
(1) There is no emotion in the spiritual life. There is emotion only as a result of the execution of the spiritual life. Emotion is designed to appreciate our thinking, but not as a part of spirituality.
(2) Paul got into bad emotion, emotional legalism. He entered into reversionism through emotion.
(a) Bad emotion is one of the greatest distractions as a part of reversionism–emotional revolt of the soul. Paul entered into emotional revolt of the soul and resulted in locked in negative volition.
(b) Paul would not do the will of God under emotional revolt of the soul. He had soul blindness.
(c) Emotion in itself is not bad, not sinful, or immoral, but bad emotion redirects our thinking and crowds it into the area of garbage in the soul. It leads to a sentimentality that takes a higher priority than anything else in our lives. Being sentimental is normal, but it has a great danger related to it–soul blindness (becoming a holy roller).
(d) Bad emotion is a part of wrongdoing. You can become emotional about something that pushes doctrine right out of the stream of consciousness. Paul became spiritually blind from bad emotion.
(3) The spiritual life is a system of thinking. Paul tried to compromise with the Jewish holy rollers, but there is no compromise with them. No one has good experience in the spiritual life until they are qualified, and the qualification is Bible doctrine in the soul.
g. Paul wrote Col 3:25 after he rebounded, “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of that wrongdoing, and there is no partiality.” Paul came close to dying the sin unto death because there is no partiality in the righteousness of God.
h. Paul wrote, “whose god is their emotions” in Phil 3:19 after he rebounded.
i. Introductory Principles.
(1) You cannot evaluate experience without Bible doctrine, that is, biblical theology.
(2) Bible doctrine as epignosis circulating in the stream of consciousness through the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26) must precede proper fulfillment of the protocol in the plan of God.
(a) A wrong thing done in a wrong way is wrong. Paul took a vow that violated everything he wrote in Romans and Galatians.
(b) A wrong thing done in a right way is wrong. When Paul took a Nazarite vow, that was a wrong thing in this dispensation but it was done in a right way for a past dispensation. The only legitimate vow for the Church Age is the marriage vow for the believer who gets married. That vow is the only reason for having a ceremony.
(c) A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong. Paul personally wanted to take to Jerusalem the great offering that had been collected for the poor believers.
(d) Only a right thing done in a right way is right.
(3) The spiritual life of the Church Age is unique. It never existed prior to Pentecost and will never exist after the Rapture of the Church.
(4) Paul entered into the first stage of reversionism, called reaction and distraction, through an emotional desire to return to Jerusalem. He wanted to preach to them. He used the offering for the poor as his excuse to go back. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and had no business going back to Jerusalem. They had James, John, Peter, and the other apostles there. They did not need Paul.
(5) His frantic search for happiness would be to offer a Nazarite vow, part of the legalism of the Mosaic Law, which Paul had rejected and taught in the epistles to the Romans and Galatians.
(6) In 55 A.D. Paul wrote the Galatians. In 58 A.D. he wrote to the Romans. Paul contradicted what he wrote by what he did, by an experience he would have in Jerusalem.
(7) Paul’s experience in Jerusalem was operation boomerang plus emotional revolt of the soul. This is as far as Paul went before he rebounded.
(8) Paul evaluated past experience of legalism before the theology of Galatians when he took the vow in Jerusalem. He took the vow in obedience to James, the Lord’s half brother, who was also appointed an apostle along with Paul to replace Judas Iscariot, 1 Cor 15:3-8. James and Paul were great friends and knew the Mosaic Law better than anyone else who ever lived besides Moses himself.
(9) Paul’s wrongdoing was the first four stages of reversionism.
j. After failing, Paul warns us to “Be wise” in Eph 5:17, “Therefore, stop becoming fools [emotional about the spiritual life], but keep on understanding what is the will of the Lord.”
(1) Paul never gave up just because he failed. There is no place for giving up in the spiritual life.
(2) Paul was not ignorant of doctrine, but emotion had taken over control of his soul. The foolish believer is the believer under emotional revolt of the soul with scar tissue in the soul.
2. Paul’s wrongdoing included nine failures.
a. Paul was still at Corinth and wrote to the Romans and declared that he knew it was God’s will for him to become the pastor in Rome. He went to Jerusalem instead.
(1) Rom 1:13, “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far), in order that I may obtain some production among you also, as among the rest of the Gentiles.” Paul knew it was God’s will for him to come to Rome.
(2) Rom 15:24, “Whenever I go to Spain, I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while.” Paul thought going to Spain was God’s will for his life, but it was not. God’s will for Paul was to go to Rome and stay there, not to pass through Rome. The only way God could get Paul to Rome was in chains. Paul did not yet understand that where he is going to end up is Rome. Rome was the key, not Spain. Paul needed to get to Rome and stay there.
(3) But Paul steps out of the geographical will of God in his thinking, Rom 15:25, “But now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.” Paul is stubborn. He is walking out on the will of God because of emotion. Emotion hinders the will of God for our life. Peter and others were serving in Jerusalem. They did not need Paul. Paul rationalizes blessing instead of his own punishment, because he is emotional now. He starts justifying things that are not right. Paul was using the monetary gift to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem as his justification for going back.
(4) Rom 15:28, “Therefore, when I have finished this [trip to Jerusalem], and have sealed to them this production, I will go on by way of you [believers in Rome] to Spain.” Paul was ignoring God’s will for him to go to Rome. We do not know if Paul ever made it to Spain, but we do know that it was God’s will for him to go to Rome. God wanted Paul to go to the center of the world. Those who had the spiritual gift of handling money could have taken this gift to Jerusalem. Paul wanted to take the money so he could use it as leverage to have his say in Jerusalem. This was wrong motivation.
(5) Rom 15:29, “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness [PLEROMA] of blessing from Christ.” Paul understands that he needs to be in PLEROMA status when he arrives at Rome. He is not in PLEROMA status yet.
(6) Rom 11:13, “But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” Paul was thinking straight when he wrote this and was confused in his thinking by the time he got to Romans 15:25. Instead of magnifying his ministry he went to Jerusalem on an emotional jag.
(7) From Corinth, Paul went to Ephesus, Acts 19:1, and stayed there for two years. A riot eventually drove him out of Ephesus and he headed toward Jerusalem after seeing the Greek churches one more time.
(a) At the end of two years in Ephesus, Paul makes the following statement, Acts 19:20-21, “In this manner on the basis of power from the source of the Lord [Acts 1:8, the filling of the Holy Spirit] the word kept on spreading and kept on having power. Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in his human spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’” Verse 20 was the peak of Paul’s ministry prior to his reversionism. This change of itinerary from what Paul wrote in Rom 15:25 shows he is beginning to become confused. Instead of teaching in Rome, Paul says he only wants to see Rome. Paul is talking like a site-seeing tourist, and he is no tourist. He is thinking one thing and saying something else.
(b) Paul received a warning in Ephesus, being chased out of town by a riot started by Demetrius. (Demetrius went to Jerusalem and helped to stir up the riot there.) God chased Paul out of Ephesus because he was losing his leadership due to his desire to go to Jerusalem. After the riot Paul went to Macedonia and Greece, Acts 20:1-2. Then Paul went to Philippi, and then to Troy, Acts 20:6.
(c) Paul acknowledges he is receiving direct messages from the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem, Acts 20:22-23, “And now, having been chained by the agency of the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit has already warned me, saying that chains and stress wait for me in every city.” God the Holy Spirit spoke directly to Paul because the canon of the New Testament had not yet been completed. Paul was not bound by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem. Paul was already under divine punishment and he is saying so. No one understood better than Paul how painful divine punishment is. Paul is such a strong person that he is willing to take the punishment in order to do what he wants to do emotionally. He correctly evaluates himself as under punishment from the Supreme Court of heaven. This warning had to be given to Paul because he had entered into a terrible state of carnality and the depths of wrongdoing. If God did this for one Church Age believer, He will do it for all. No matter how we fail as believers, God’s love for us never diminishes.
(d) Paul was trained on three missionary journeys and teaching at Corinth and Ephesus in preparation for becoming the pastor-teacher of the Roman church. God wanted Paul to go to Rome in 58 A.D. and take over the Roman church and stay there.
b. Paul’s first human warning not to go to Jerusalem is found in Acts 21:4, “After finding the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.” This is a Spirit-filled congregation warning Paul.
c. Paul’s second warning is in Acts 21:8-11, “On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven [one of the original seven deacons responsible for the daily distribution of food to the earlier believers in Jerusalem], we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And having come to us, he took off Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”’”
(1) None of the Philip’s daughters with the gift of prophecy warned Paul. Why? Their spiritual gift functioned toward women, but not to men. The answer is found in 1 Cor 14:34, “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak;” and 1 Tim 2:11-12, “Let the women receive teaching with all subordination. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” A woman can only be blessed in responding, but not in leading. It is evil for a woman to be in a pulpit as a teacher of the word of God. Women have a phenomenal ability to teach children and should do so. The pulpit is no place for the woman.
(2) The prophet Agabus gave Paul a very dramatic warning using Paul’s own belt, not the four virgins. All of these believers knew the will of God for Paul’s life.
(3) Agabas was going back in his prophecy to what God the Holy Spirit had said to the apostle Paul. The same message given to Paul was given to Agabas to warn Paul.
d. The third warning is found in Acts 21:12-14 from the believers who traveled with Paul and the believers of Caesarea. “When we heard this, we as well as the local residents attempted to persuade him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be chained in prison, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, saying to ourselves, ‘Let the will of the Lord come to pass!’”
(1) Paul is not seeing God’s viewpoint; he is only seeing his own viewpoint. He emphasizes himself–you are breaking my heart. This is emotion out of the will of God. Paul places emotion before doctrine. He is not thinking at all. He is out of the will of God and in a state of wrongdoing. Emotion weakens the believer; doctrine strengthens the believer. People who get on an emotional high cannot be reached by anything that is true or correct. Emotion puts a wall around you that makes you stupid regardless of how much wisdom you have. When a person gets emotional, you cannot counsel them.
(2) Emotion destroys perspective of the future. The believer in a state of carnality anticipates the wrong things. To be accurate about our future or our present, we must have doctrine circulating in our stream of consciousness. The believer overcome by emotion loses the doctrinal perspective of the will of God. Paul was in a state of self-sympathy. Self-sympathy is an emotional function of thinking that we may die in a good cause and dramatizing ourselves emotionally.
(3) Paul’s statement that he is ready to die at Jerusalem is a true but dumb statement. It is emotion before doctrine rather than doctrine before emotion. Our death is the decision of the will of God. Paul has become a holy roller, and forgotten that God picks the time, place, and manner of our death. He should have known he would die in a Gentile capital, not a Jewish capital. Even for Paul to think he would die in Jerusalem was strictly emotional and wrongdoing.
(4) It is not God’s will for Paul to even be at Jerusalem, and he almost died the sin unto death at Jerusalem. In emotion, Paul wanted to do what he wanted to do instead of what God wanted him to do. Paul will die in Rome, not in Jerusalem. He was the apostle to the Gentiles, not to the Jews.
(5) Paul made five trips to Jerusalem.
(a) The first trip is mentioned in Acts 9:26-30. During this trip the Jewish Christians were afraid of Paul. Only Barnabas was not afraid.
(b) The second trip is mentioned in Gal 1:18-19, when Paul went to visit Peter and James the Lord’s half brother for two weeks.
(c) The third trip in mentioned in Acts 12:25, when Paul and Barnabas return to Jerusalem after their first missionary journey.
(d) The fourth trip is mentioned in Acts 15:1-29; Gal 1:9, the great Jerusalem council.
(e) The fifth trip is mentioned in Acts 21:15-23:30 we have the wrongdoing of Paul.
(6) What did Paul emphasize after almost dying the sin unto death? Thinking, not emotion.
(a) Phil 2:5, “Let this objective thinking be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
(b) Phil 3:18-21, “For many keep walking, concerning whom I have told you many times, and I tell you now even weeping [he wept because this was his own failure], these are the enemies of the cross [Paul is talking about himself], whose end is destruction, whose god is their emotion, whose glory is their shame, who keep on thinking about earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for our Savior Lord Jesus Christ; who will change into new form the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, according to the power that enables Him to also bring into subjection all things to Himself.” Emotional activity becomes a system of shame.
(c) Paul learned that only Bible doctrine as epignosis in the seven compartments of the stream of consciousness qualifies the believer for genuine spiritual experience. Paul learned the importance of learning doctrine from the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit and the inspiration of Scripture, 2 Tim 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching.”
(7) There were three considerations in this matter.
(a) The viewpoint will of God. This is what God wants us to think. Paul was out of the viewpoint will of God. Paul was operating on the basis of his emotions.
(b) The operational will of God. This is what God wants us to do. God wanted Paul to go to Rome, not Jerusalem.
(c) The geographical will of God. This is where God wants us to be. It was God’s will for Paul to be in Rome.
(8) You cannot change people’s minds when they want to go into carnality. You can warn them once. But if they are not willing to listen, leave them in the hands of the Lord. Back off and leave them alone. Believers in emotional revolt of the soul must be left in the hands of the Lord. Paul knows his friends are terribly hurt by what he is doing and he is hurt in his own soul, but it does not change him. Paul’s punishment for his wrongdoing of going to Jerusalem is that he will never be a pastor in Rome, but instead will only be allowed to write epistles.
(9) Paul’s team functioned on the basis of the principles of Bible doctrine applied. After they tried to change Paul’s mind and failed, they stepped aside and let Paul go on and let the Lord deal with him. They did not get their eyes on Paul the man, but lived under the principles of doctrine, which Paul taught to them. They knew that if they condemned the Lord’s appointed leader, then they would be punished. We have no right to criticize any minister who is teaching or doing something that is wrong.
e. Paul’s fifth trip to Jerusalem, Acts 21:17-26.
(1) Acts 21:17-23, “And when we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us with praise. And on the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders [leaders of the Jerusalem church and pastors from the local area] were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many tens of thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been informed about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to live according to the customs. Therefore, what is to be done about it? They will certainly hear that you have come. Therefore do exactly what we tell you to do.’”
(a) James was the half-brother of the Lord and did not become a believer until he saw his half-brother in resurrection body. James became the leader of the Jerusalem church. James and Paul were the two leading experts in the world on the Mosaic Law. On a previous visit Paul spent fifteen days with only Peter and James, Gal 1:18-19. James, Peter, and John recognized Paul as an apostle, Gal 2:9. Paul was not an apostle to the Jews and had no need to go back to Jerusalem.
(b) When James learned that Paul was coming to Jerusalem, he held a dinner party for him. Paul was out of fellowship when he attended the party. He was out of the geographical will of God. The brethren received them gladly, but there was more hypocrisy in that statement than meets the eye. The purpose of the party was to warm Paul up to the suggestion that he take the Nazarite vow.
(c) James compromised with legalism and was ignorant of Church Age doctrine. Paul understood the role of the Mosaic Law in the Church Age, 1 Tim 1:6-11; Rom 3:21-31; Gal 2:20-21; Gal 3-4, but James did not. Both men were very moral, (When Paul was out of fellowship, his morality was never in question.), but only Paul understood the role of the Mosaic Law.
(d) The Jews in the Jerusalem church were zealous for the Mosaic Law but not the spiritual life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the heritage of the Church Age believer. The Judaizers said you had to believe in Christ, but you had to keep the Law to execute the spiritual life of the Church Age. But the Mosaic Law is not a part of the spiritual life. The Mosaic Law in the Church Age is for both believers and unbelievers, and is not a part of spirituality. The Mosaic Law always leads to legalism. The Mosaic Law compromises the doctrine of the Church Age unless it is understood properly. What are the limitations of the Mosaic Law in the Church Age?
i. It cannot justify anyone before God, Rom 3:20, and 28. The purpose of the Law is to define sin.
ii. It cannot provide eternal salvation, Gal 3:21-26.
iii. It cannot provide the Holy Spirit, Gal 3:2.
iv. It cannot solve the old sin nature problems and the spiritual death at birth, Rom 8:2-3.
(e) The tens of thousands of Jews who had believed and were zealous for the Law were already into false doctrine with regard to the spiritual life. They were not zealous for the spiritual life of the Church Age, but zealous for the Law. They perverted the truth by saying you live the spiritual life by keeping the Mosaic Law. Legalism means confusion and false doctrine plus the false experience, which emerges from this. The Mosaic Law as a part of the spiritual life always produces legalistic believers. The Mosaic Law is no substitute for walking by means of the Spirit.
(f) The same elders who are praising God here after Paul has related everything on his three missionary journeys are the same elders who sent the Judaizers to follow Paul from city to city and criticize him. Their praise is all hypocrisy. They reported that Paul had denounced the Mosaic Law. Legalism responds to its own values and the values of these legalists were wrong. The Jerusalem church was destroyed in twelve years because of this.
(g) Paul never taught the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake Moses. That was a lie. Nor did he teach them to not circumcise their children or observe the customs of the Jews.
(h) James mandated a compromise to Paul and persuaded Paul to listen to and do what the legalists in his church are suggesting. Paul takes bad advice from a very dear friend. James proposes a solution to the problem of how they can keep Paul and his money there in Jerusalem without having a terrible incident and endangering the life of Paul. Paul goes along with this bad advice because he owes his friend a favor, is out of fellowship, and is ignoring Bible doctrine.
(i) How could Paul as a royal priest take a vow that demanded that the Levitical priesthood of Israel be put on a higher plain than the royal priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Because he was out of fellowship with God and in wrongdoing. By taking this Nazarite vow Paul was saying that the Levitical priesthood was a higher priesthood than that of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
(j) Nothing is more important than to avoid ever compromising our royal priesthood. We are a kingdom of priests, holy priests, royal priests. For anyone to take a vow (except in the wedding ceremony) is nonsense and a compromise of our priesthood. Paul subordinated his royal priesthood to the Levitical priesthood. This was the greatest possible compromise of his priesthood, his doctrine, his spiritual life and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
(2) Acts 21:24-26, “‘We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from the thing sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.’ Then Paul took the men, the next day, and having purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification [giving notice that the seven days of purification were beginning now], until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.”
(a) The Nazarite vow had to do with purification from wrongdoing, and was no longer operational once Jesus Christ went to the Cross, Num 6:1-21. Shaving the hair off the head and burning the hair of the Nazarite was part of a rebound ritual, but it had lost all of its significance by the time of the New Testament. This was now a legalist sacrifice without meaning. By doing this, Paul would be lying to the Holy Spirit. Ritual purification through taking the Nazarite vow was no longer necessary because as Church Age believers these four men and Paul can use the rebound technique of 1 Jn 1:9.
(b) Paul was independently wealthy and could easily afford to pay for these men completing the vow. These four men were too poor to purchase the sacrifices to complete the ritual.
(c) James was giving Paul a chance to prove that he still keeps the Mosaic Law as a part of the spiritual life. But Paul had advanced way beyond keeping the Mosaic Law in his spiritual life. However, this is the second time that Paul enters into wrongdoing by taking a Nazarite vow. The first time was in Acts 18:8-18 in the port city of Corinth, Cenchrea.
i. Because of Paul’s deliverance from the Jewish riot in Corinth and the support of Gallio, the Roman governor, Paul continued his ministry in Corinth. Paul was so overwhelmed with gratitude, that he became emotional and placed himself under a vow. The postsalvation spiritual life of the Church Age does not include vows, except the marriage vows.
ii. Paul never completed this vow because there was Levitical priest in Cenchrea to take Paul’s hair and throw it in the fire of the peace offering in front of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was wrongdoing, because had it been completed, it would have placed the Levitical priesthood above the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Church Age.
iii. Jesus Christ was not a part of the Levitical priesthood. He was not in the tribe of Levi. He is a royal priest, and we are a kingdom of priests, 1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6.
iv. So the apostle Paul to take a Nazarite vow is not only grieving the Holy Spirit, but it is blasphemy to God the Father and God the Son. Paul was attempting to subordinate the royal priesthood of the Church Age to the Levitical priesthood of the dispensation of Israel.
(d) Acts 21:25, which is quoted from Acts 15:20, was added by James as a special concession to his friend Paul, who attended the council of Jerusalem.
i. James did his dear friend Paul a favor at the council of Jerusalem in recognition of the fact that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. James compromised the position of the legalists at the council of Jerusalem so Paul could continue his ministry. James quotes this favor to Paul in Acts 21:25, and now expects Paul to pay him back by making concessions to him.
ii. Now Paul owes him a favor by participating in the Nazarite vow. By reminding Paul of the decision of the council of Jerusalem in favor of Gentile believers, James was saying to Paul, “Alright, Paul, you owe me one.” But James couldn’t say that in front of the elders of Jerusalem, so he disguises it by quoting his previous favor done to Paul.
iii. Then and only then did Paul give in and take the vow. Paying back a favor to his friend was more important to Paul than the doctrine in the book of Romans and the book of Galatians. Paul fell flat on his face by making a friendship more important than Bible doctrine.
iv. No communicator of doctrine ever has to compromise Bible doctrine in order to gain a hearing.
(e) Acts 21:26, “Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifices was offered for each one of them.”
i. Paul paid the very expensive bill for the sacrifices for each of the men and himself.
ii. James was wrong to use the tactic that Paul owed him a favor against Paul, and Paul was wrong to reciprocate out of his friendship for James. For a short time they both tried to elevate the Levitical priesthood above the royal priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Friendships get way out of hand by wrongdoing.
iii. Paul in emotional carnality forgot doctrine. Wrongdoing robs you of your memory. He committed a moral act of sin. He was not punished for his sins, which were already judged at the Cross, but for grieving, quenching, and lying to the Holy Spirit. You can get out of fellowship with God in a state of morality.
iv. Gal 2:16, “Knowing that a person is not justified by the works of the Law (including taking a Nazarite vow), but by faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ Jesus and not by the works of the Law.” Paul taught this three years earlier and now compromises this doctrine. Gal 3:11, “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident, for, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Compare Rom 3:20-28, where Paul says that no one is justified by keeping the Law.
v. Paul lost sight of the doctrinal application of sharing the happiness of God. He thought his happiness depended on going back to Jerusalem and seeing old friends and telling them all about his success. We fill our souls with the distractions that destroy our motivation to learn doctrine. This results in divine punishment entwined with sublimation, entwisted with frustration.