Paul, the Apostle?

9 05 2014
                                                                                                 
                                                                                                              Acts 9: 1-9
Introduction– Saul of Tarsus was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. In defense of the Jewish faith, he persecuted the church (Philippians 3:5-6) until confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus. From the day of his salvation he was called to take the message of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). He has contributed 13 of the 27 Books of the New Testament (14 if you count Hebrews). He has grounded our faith in doctrine and has given direction for the church.    The skeptic likens Paul to Christianity as Joseph Smith was to Mormonism or Mohammad to Islam. The skeptics call him a false apostle, arrogant liar, apostle of Satan, sexist, gay, and deceiver. One cannot claim the salvation that Paul preached and taught while holding to such belief (Galatians 1:8-9). We will briefly give an answer to such banter (1 Peter 3:15) as well as the purpose of his apostleship.

Is he authentic?

Outside of the claims he makes of himself, how do we know that he is an apostle? “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?” 1 Corinthians 9:1

1. His conversion was witnessed by others (Acts 9:7-8).

2. His call was revealed before he even knew it (Acts 9:10-17).

3. He was recognized by Luke (writer of the Book of Acts and personal physician to Paul: Colossians 4:14), Peter (2 Peter 3:15), James (Acts 15:13-18), and the apostolic church (Acts 15:35; 18:22).

4. He performed the “signs of an apostle” (Acts 5:12; 14:3).

5. His calling and writings were recognized by the early church fathers (all 27 books were accepted as Scripture by 397).

6. His writings never contradict Scripture and meets the definition of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:22; 2 Peter 2:1).
No matter the proof, people will find cause to oppose it, but it is good to know a few basic arguments in defense of the faith.

Is he essential?

He is called the 12th apostle by some, the 13th apostle by others. Why is such an apostle “born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8) even necessary? What is God telling us?

1. The 12 were primarily called to the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6; 19:28), Paul was called to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).

2. The gospel had to go to the Jew first (Romans 1:16), Paul was saved after the Jewish church was established.

3. God is highlighting a new dispensation of grace (Ephesians 3:1-6), the church age.

4. God is highlighting the fact that the Gentiles are grafted into Israel. (Romans 11:17-19).

5. Paul was a Roman citizen, knew many Gentile languages, knew gentile philosophy, knew gentile mythology, and changed his name to its Latin form. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

6. He was trained independent of the twelve. (Galatians 1:11-20).

Conclusion– Tradition has Paul being beheaded in Rome during the notorious reign of Nero. His writings are part of the inspired Word and his influence in the church is unquestioned.

 

 

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