"…To the Gentiles…" - The Ministry of Paul
July 1, 2016

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2016

"…To the Gentiles…"
The Ministry of Paul


Paul, in his disgust for the rejection of the gospel by his fellow Jews, used this phrase in Acts 13:46.

Acts 13:44-52:
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

          "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
          that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Concentrating on the fifth underlined (v51) passage, I hurry to point to a few things. This "shake the dust off your feet" was a directive given the early disciples in the teaching of Jesus. It is interesting to note that Paul only had one epistle and one Gospel available to him at the time of this event. James had written his epistle and Matthew had completed his gospel. So, other than a verbal "hand down," Paul would not have known to carry out this "ritual upon refusal" as it applied to the Gospel.

Matt 10:14-15: 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! NKJV

Paul and Barnabus were not just doing something symbolic, they were guaranteeing judgment on the people and the place (Pisidian Antioch). Included in the indictment were all the rulers of the Synagogue and their henchmen. This included their followers, who considered themselves high moral and religious people. Moreover, this was after a great historical message by Paul and on the Holy Day of the week. Talk about stack up!

Paul's statement, followed by his symbolic action, was extremely significant. Although he did not abandon his habit of attending Synagogue, when he did, he was proclaiming and declaring the end of an era. The end of the Judaic system and exceptionalism was heralded!

In his writings to the Galatians, which was the third circulated work of the New Testament, one can visualize Pisidian Antioch throughout its pages. (Galatians was Paul's first book.) Galatia itself was another citadel of rejection, but it was where Judaism is denounced and the liberty of the Gospel was announced!

Gal 2:14-21:
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."


One cannot get a plainer or more concise evaluation of Judaism vs. Christianity than this.

…On to the Gentiles:

Before leaving the initial passage on Pisidian Antioch, I want to point to other underlined passages in the text. "Filled with jealousy" characterized the clergy of the day. It still does!
Not only did the Clerics lead the pack in the rejection of the Gospel, they passed their blame upon Paul and Barnabus. Actually, that is and was the "modus operandi" of the Jews since the days of Jeremiah. They were just acting like Jews. Could we not say the same today? I find it interesting the book of Matthew (which was found as an ancient scroll) is being translated and "taken over" by unsaved Jewish authorities. Paul read the book and affirmed his experience with Christ; they read the book and affirm their continued Judaism. How very interesting!

Gal 4:31-5:2: 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

…On to the Gentiles!

"Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life."

What a self indictment! Their actions and words betrayed them. James said they would. Here they prove it. Paul, in his Galatian letter, took the matter in hand and said in essence, "You stand self-condemned."

Like Jesus indicting Bethsaida, Pisidian Antioch was ranked with Sodom and Gomorrah-filled with their sin.

Luke 10:8-16:
8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

13 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

16 "He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."

As in the local jargon, "You can't get no plainer than that!"

Next, I wish to address the remaining underscored areas. Note please the following passage.

47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

          "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
          that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Paul and company knew their work was primarily to the Gentiles, who were grafted into the vine. Now, anyone working with grafts understands the root stock is not dominate in bearing fruit, the Graft is. Therefore, Paul was commanded to turn his attention to what God was doing. The Israel of God was indeed those who were grafted into the stock, which included Jew and Gentile alike who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. NO OTHER COVENANT remained for unredeemed mankind.

Everything flowed into the believer. All the promises, all the covenants and all the blessing are the nutrients from the stock of ancient Israel and as the believers bear fruit, they receive aggrandizements from that stock. Those grafted in share the name, Israel, and this is not replacement theology, but is Pauline theology. Romans 11 is key to such understanding. The covenants remained intact for those Jews who preceded Jesus, but in His fulfilling of the Law, He absorbed all the promises and covenants into Himself and for those who believe on Him.

Romans 11:17-21:
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider those believing Jews and Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch. Paul revisited them in a return trip. They formed a church. The marvelous thing about it was the middle wall was entirely broken down. It still is. Those Gentiles recognized the attending break with Temple and society required of a Jew becoming a believer, and they joined with helping hands to bless them. They still do.

          "all who were appointed for eternal life believed"

Predestination was not a difficult matter for early Apostles, neither should it be now.

…On to the Gentiles…

Earlier in this study, it was determined the Gospel of Matthew could have been available to Paul and others during this time frame. Perhaps both he and Barnabus and Silas might well have read Jesus' admonition in Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:6-7
6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." NKJV

Why did Jesus give this admonition in the middle of Chapters 6-8? Why was this appropriate caution in regard to a religious people? Since Jesus limited the Disciples from ministering to anyone but the house of Israel, the Jews, this caution must be important to that ministry. However, referring to people as swine and dogs seemed harsh. Swine are trash feeders and consumers of scraps and hulls (remember the Prodigal). Dogs are not in heaven and are unreliable as to their actions, thus when the dogs realized the pearls were not food, they might turn on the givers.

Now, did Paul read this passage and then determine these Pisidian Antioch Jews were the very folks Jesus taught about?

The Pearl of Great Price he had found on the Damascus Road was not objectionable to him - why not his fellows? Could it be he saw the futility of preaching to them in contrast to the ready acceptance by the Gentile grafts? Could this happen again? Could there be an association with the congregates of today and the Antioch Jews of Paul's day? How often does one cast pearls before swine and spiritual dogs?

Dare anyone raise such an issue?

Acts 18:5-11
5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them,"Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." 11 And he continued.

Though willing to be sent to Hell in order for his people to be saved, Paul discovered this evidently was not enough. Having chosen Silas, who was a credible prophet, as his mate-resistance only worsened. Being led by the Spirit to preach to this motley bunch, Paul found they still rejected God's message. No wonder he gave such a retort. Nonetheless, some Jews and Gentiles believed. Not all was hopeless.

Slowly, though, his expectation for Jewish revival and outpouring waned in the wake of persecution and resistance. Doing marvelous works among the Gentiles was clearly the path for him. Deep in his spirit, the crucified man poured out his sacrificial libation to the Lord and laid himself across the map of the known Gentile (heathen) world-not to fail, but to succeed.

Acts 22:17-21
17 "Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.' 19 So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' 21 Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'"

Nothing is more invigorating than being in the exact will of God!
Later, in his defense before King Agrippa, Paul capsulated the heart of his ministry.

Acts 26:19-23:
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come - 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."

Clearly, for a Jew to be saved, he must believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and as the Son of God.

There is now no other Covenant than the Jesus Covenant. Their continued rejection to this very hour is found in their stubborn refusal to allow the Gospel to be preached in the very nation supported by manifold religious organizations. Try street preaching in Jerusalem and see how far you get.

Acts 28:25-29:
"The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26 saying,

'Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them."'

28 "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

The longest debate in history is this one. It continues to today and is still not settled. The debate lies now in an even further realm: Has the church become characterized by this same rejection and rebellion as the Jews-taking on spiritual similarities to Israel? Try occupying the pulpit of most churches and preaching from Jeremiah 5, and tell me how long before the giant hook pulls you off stage-provided you could get there through the barriers in the first place.

"…To the Gentiles…"

Their equivalent today is the mission field. Those are the places where harvest is still being realized and all that has been available to the modern church is still receivable. But alas, many are being proselytized to mimic the missionizing body. Many resemble the proselytes of the Temple days and here comes the crux of the matter. Who dares build something different-who would fund it? (Unless it looks like us and smells like us---it ain't ours).

Let me write in your book another chapter. What looks like Jesus and smells like the sweet savor of personal incense to Him while being poured out on the altar of self-sacrifice-isn't the current model.

It is to this model I am committed!

…To the real Church of Jesus Christ…

…To those who hear!

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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