The Ministry of the Apostle Paul

When you hear of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, what do you normally
think? Most often we hear and speak of the missionary journeys of Paul.
We read of the marvelous conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus in
order that Paul might preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The premise of
this chapter and the book is that the primary ministry of Paul was to serve
as chief editor of the New Testament. Certainly as we in contemporary
times look back on what has happened in the approximately two thousand
years since Paul, Jesus, and the other Apostles of Christ, the most
pervasive influence of Paul has been from his fourteen letters that
became fourteen books of the New Testament. In other words thousands
more people had read and become Christians from the reading of his
letters than have become Christians because of his missionary journeys.
You can almost miss this aspect of the ministry of Christ in the reading of
his letters. The one single place that it is obvious is in the reading of
Colossians 1:25.

“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God
which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God...”  (Colossians
1:25 KJV)

Notice that: Paul is made a minister in order to fulfill or complete the word
of God! That tells me that God had in mind a certain number of books for
the Bible and in particular for the New Testament (27), and that the
responsibility of the ministry of Paul was to make sure that this number
was completed. This Paul did by personally writing 14 out of 27 of those
books, and then pass on to John Mark and Dr. Luke manuscripts for the
writing of three more books of the New Testament; so that Paul becomes
personally responsible for 17 out of 27 of the New Testament books. I
would say that is a significant aspect of Paul’s ministry when you consider
to how many countries the Bible has gone over the last two thousand
years, into how many homes, and from how many pulpits and Sunday
school classes the Bible is taught every Sunday. To belabor this chief
editor aspect of the New Testament now as related to John Mark and Dr.
Luke is somewhat jumping ahead, but I think it is necessary to
immediately establish an internal evidence aspect to this claim. Two
scriptural facts can quickly lay this foundation.
1. Paul after becoming a prisoner requested that Timothy bring his books
and parchments from Troas.

“The cloak that I left a Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring
with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”  (II Timothy
4:13)

2.  Paul wrote that John Mark was profitable to him for the “ministry”, and
recall that the most important aspect of the ministry of Paul was in the
writing and editing of New Testament books.

“Take Mark, and bring him with thee:  for he is profitable to me for the
ministry.”  (II Timothy 4:11)

1-1:  Other Scriptures to Support Colossians 1:25.

As stated earlier it is possible to overlook this writing and editing aspect
of the ministry of Paul until you focus on it as found in Colossians 1:25;
however once it has your attention, you can find other scriptures to
support the same thesis. {It should be stated here something that will be
emphasized later. That is, the sufferings and preaching and other aspects
of the ministry of Paul are closely related and essential to the ministry of
writing. In fact those other aspects of the ministry make the writing
ministry possible. Also Paul’s acceptance in the church as an Apostle was
also essential to the ministry of writing, since it was a well known fact that
only Prophets and Apostles wrote Scriptures. Something else that we will
look at in more detail later.}
1.  Ephesians 3:2,3.

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is
given me to you-ward:  how that by revelation he made known unto
me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words...”  (Ephesians 3:2,3
)

Notice several obvious exegetical points from these two verses: (1) the
method of Jesus by which He let Paul know of this great mystery was
through “revelation”, and everyone knows from the study of the Bible in
totality that the method by which Scriptures are written is revelation; (2)
when this mystery was revealed to Paul he passed it on in a letter which
became a book of the Bible (no doubt this was the book of Colossians);
(3) if you read the verse before, Ephesians 1:1 you will notice that Paul
relates this ministry of revelation and writing to both being a “prisoner”
(sufferings for Christ and the church) and for the fact that it is all done for
the church; (4) you also see this fact in the “which is given me to you-
ward” in the wording of Ephesians 3:2; (5) in Ephesians 3:5 this great
mystery is “now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the
Spirit”, once again all Bible students knowing that this is the method of
revelations from God--revelation to apostles and prophets through the
work of the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:16,17); (6) the great mystery hidden
from the foundation of the earth is that the Gentiles are members of the
same body of Christ through the same Gospel, Ephesians 3:6; (7) and
this is the reason that Paul is made a “minister”, Ephesians 3:7; (8) part of
this ministry to the preaching of this mystery and gospel to the Gentiles,
Ephesians 3:8; and (9) another aspect is in order that all men on the earth
of all time might know this mystery--”and to make all men see what...”,
Ephesians 3:9. Now what seemed at first to be a little unclear from
internal evidence in the Scriptures begins to become obvious!
2.  II Timothy 3:16,17.
In a later section of this chapter we will look at Paul’s concept of “the word
of God” as used in Colossians 1:25 to determine if it had a written
Scriptural context as well as the more obvious aspect of preaching, so
that since we mentioned above this verse of II Timothy 3:16,17, it
behooves us now to put it up front as part of the understanding of the
Apostle Paul about inspiration, revelation, and the Scriptures.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man
of God may be perfect, througly furnished unto all good works.”  (II
Timothy 3:16,17)
All written Scripture is given by the inspiration of God through the Holy
Spirit. If you look at the verse before, II Timothy 3:15, you will notice that
Paul is talking about written Scriptures as he relates how Timothy has
learned the written and “holy” Scriptures from his childhood. This would
also be a good time to look at the Apostle Peter’s concept of inspiration
and Scriptures, and how in particular that Peter had accepted the writing
of Scriptures as an important aspect of the ministry of the Apostle Paul,
and that furthermore Peter sought to gain this acceptance of writing
Scripture among the rest of the church.
(1).  II Peter 1:20,21.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
interpretation.  For the prophecy came in old time by the will of man:  but
holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  (II Peter
1:20,21)
Here the speaking or preaching of Scripture is closely related to the
writing of the Old Testament books by the Prophets.
(2).  II Peter 3:15,16.
“...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given
unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them
of these things in which are some things hard to be understood, which
they ar are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other
scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  (II Peter 3:15,16)
You didn’t miss that did you:  (1) Peter puts the written epistles of the
Apostle Paul in the same category with the Scriptures of the Old
Testament; (2) in those epistles Paul is “speaking” while he writes; and (3)
it is because of the wisdom given to him from God that Paul writes to
these churches in epistles that have become accepted as Bible.
3.  Romans 15:19.
Where were we when we got carried away with this great doctrine of the
inspiration of Scriptures?  We were looking at support in other Bible
verses for the writing of Scriptures as the most significant aspect of the
ministry of the Apostle Paul.
1-2:  Where Paul Got His Doctrine.
Paul leaves little doubt in the mind of readers where he learned what He
did about the Doctrine of Christ and other teachings.  It was from the
Risen and Ascended Christ Himself!
1.  From out in the Desert of Saudi Arabia.
“But I certify you, brethren that the gospel which was preached of me is
not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but
by the revelation of Jesus Christ....But when it pleased God, who
separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to
reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:  neither went I up to
Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,
and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to
Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.  But other of the
apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.”  (Galatians 1:11-
12,15-19)
(1). Much of the doctrine of Christ that Paul wrote of is almost
synonymous with the gospel, and above Paul is saying that it came from
direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2). Paul didn’t get the teachings of Christ from the other Apostles as after
his conversion he only saw two of them, Peter and James, and that was 3
years after his conversion, those three years being spent listening to
Jesus in Arabia.
(3). Part of my major theory on Paul being the chief editor of the New
Testament, continuing his work through Mark and Luke for whom he left
written manuscripts on Old Testament quotations, is also that Paul left the
gospel testimony manuscripts from Peter and James--written during his
first visit back to Jerusalem to Peter and James--respectively becoming
the Gospels of Mark and Luke.
2.  From Peter and James.
As mentioned above, Paul already knowing that his responsibility was to
be Chief Editor of the New Testament, having learned that from Christ on
the road to Damascus, from Ananias in Damascus, and from Christ in
Saudi Arabia, began to do research on the task by recording the gospel
testimonies of Peter and James on parchments.
3.  From reading back through the Old Testament during the 7 “silent
years” at Tarsus, recording on manuscripts all the quotes that would
become part of the 14 letters that he wrote, plus Acts, Mark, and Luke.
Quite often the seven years or so of Acts 9:30 are called the silent years.  
I think not; as Paul was reading back through the whole Old Testament in
light of his conversion, the teachings of Jesus in Saudi Arabia, what
Ananias told him, and what Paul learned from Peter and James.  All of the
quotes that would later become book of the New Testament were
recorded on parchments as he read through the Old Testament.
1-3:  Peter recognized and told the Christian world that Paul was writing
Scriptures.
“...as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to
him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of
these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those
who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do
also the rest of the Scriptures.”  (II Peter 3:15,16)
1.  By the time the Apostle Peter wrote II Peter, approximately 66 A.D.,
Paul was well established as the “beloved brother”.
2.  The source of Paul’s doctrine and Scriptures is obvious here, it was
“according to the wisdom given him”.  
It came from outside himself, from God the Father, the Ascended Lord
Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  In a few paragraphs we will briefly
discuss “inspiration” of  all Scriptures as (1) divine in origin, (2) absolute in
authority, and (3) sufficient in message.
3.  By this time in approximately 66 A.D.--”in all his epistles”--Paul had
written many epistles.
4.  Paul wrote of these things that Peter had been addressing in II Peter,
in particular as mentioned a few verses before, the coming of the day of
God when the heavens and the earth shall dissolve; and how the
longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.
5.  Paul writes in his epistles of some things hard to understand.
It would seem that except for the Apostle John near the end of the First
Century when he wrote the difficult book of Revelation, that the Apostle
Paul was given the task (as a chief editor should have) of writing the most
difficult and deep things of salvation.  But this was the way it should be as
Paul was a lawyer before his conversion, and being a lawyer in Israel in
the first century meant based on the law of the Bible as the law of the
Bible was the law of the nation.  All Paul needed was conversion, a word
of encouragement from Ananias, several years in the desert with Christ, a
brief visit back at Jerusalem with the Apostles Peter and James, and then
seven years at Tarsus to read back through the Old Testament with which
he was already very familiar--but in the light on the new experiences and
testimonies.
1-4:  Peter Verifies that Paul wrote Scripture.
So when Peter mentions Scriptures in I and II Peter, it applies, of course,
to the doctrine and Scriptures of the Apostle Paul.
1.  Paul was a holy man of God that spoke or wrote as moved by the Holy
Spirit.
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of
God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  (II Peter 1:21)
2.  Paul was not making an private interpretations of Jesus or the Old
Testament when he wrote Scriptures.
The Doctrine of Paul is the doctrine of Christ and of God. It is consistent
with the teachings and epistles of the other Apostles. In fact, if proof were
needed of the Bible as the Word of God, it is the unity of content from the
Prophets and the Apostles that convinces us that a common source was
necessary, that source being God the Father through Jesus and the Holy
Spirit. {It is amazing how some Muslims know so much about Jesus and
believe those things at least in their brains, but you speak of Paul and
draw a blank. Among believers there are those who think of the Scriptures
from Paul as lesser Bible. Well, if you have faith in the Scriptures from
Peter, then you must also have from Paul; and in the case of both, as well
as all the Apostles and Prophets, it is “every word that proceeds out of
the mouth of God.” I am sure that if you don’t treat it as such, in faith and
practice and doctrine, you will be held responsible by God Himself.}
It was not recorded yet but I am sure that either the Ascended Christ or
Peter or James had told Paul as Jesus said, and later the Apostle John
recorded in the Gospel of John that there would be no doubts about
“doctrine” if a person were willing to do the will of God.
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of
God, or whether I speak of myself.”  (John 7:17)
Of course, in the context, Jesus was primarily speaking of the group of
teachings and of Himself as the reliable source that passed on doctrine
from God the Father.
“And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having
never learned?  Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine,
but his that sent me.”  (John 7:15,16)
Paul could likewise talk of his doctrine while making it clear, as he often
did, that it was really doctrine from God and Christ; and likewise in the title
of this volume, THE MINISTRY AND DOCTRINE OF THE APOSTLE
PAUL, we can talk of the doctrine of Paul while knowing unmistakably the
source.
3.  Peter must have known also of the time and effort Paul made at
Tarsus when he carefully re-read the Old Testament Scriptures, of the
matters of salvation, of the grace that was presently coming to his
generation, and what the Spirit of Christ had recorded in the Old
Testament of the sufferings of Christ.
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently,
who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  searching what,
or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that
should follow.  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but
unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by
them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent
down from heaven...”  (I Peter 1:10-12)
(1).  Paul would have been on the mind of Peter as one of the Apostles
who preached that gospel with the Holy Spirit help.
(2).  Paul along with the Old Testament Prophets would among those who
“minister the things”.
(3).  The “Spirit of Christ” was with Paul in Arabia even as it was with the
Old Testament Prophets in the writing of Scriptures.
1-5:  Paul like Peter championed the doctrine of inspiration of Scriptures.
Certainly it was the Apostle Paul that championed the very inspiration of
Scripture itself, as he did on most of the doctrines of the Bible.
1.  It was the Apostle Paul as a medium that gave us those great verses
on “All scripture is given by inspiration of God...”
“All scripture if given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man
of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  (II
Timothy 3:16,17)
You just know that Paul had to aware of the fact that he like the Prophets
and other Apostles was writing Scripture: if he didn’t know before Peter
told him in the epistle of II Peter. What do we mean by “inspiration of
God”? Certainly it is not inspired as the same sense as Robert Browning
or any other poet is inspired.
(1). We mean that the Bible is divine in origin
The short meaning of “divine in origin” is like Jesus announced to us: it is
“every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The longer is, while
over 40 authors over a period of thousands of years did the human
penmanship, whatever we believe related to various theories of
“inspiration” we must believe that God is the origin. Over at Socorro, New
Mexico is the Very Large Array of antennas pointed to pick up some
communication from space. Well, in the Bible we have communications
from heaven, from the Maker of all in the universe. And somehow the
Word of God transcends within the Bible all verbal shortcomings and the
limitations of pen and paper to communicate the truth to us.
(2). We mean that the Bible is Absolute in Authority.
When God has spoken as He has in the Bible, what could man possible
have to say that would be in the same category. The Bible is up near as
number one in authority while commentaries, statements of faith, church
covenants, and preachers are about number ten in authority. Like one
teacher of theology said, “Study your Bible: it will throw a lot of light on the
commentaries.” How can you really compare in authority the words that
come from God Himself to the words of any human. Those teachers and
preachers who do not quote the Bible at all show a lack of recognition of
that authority, and those who “take a verse and go everywhere preaching”,
have about the same amount of authority recognition. {Granted the
Ascended Christ did give some authority to pastors, teachers, and
evangelists, an authority which must be recognized, but it is not the
revelation authority that God reserved for only Prophets and Apostles--it
is called in Ephesians 4 “gifts” instead of authority. Let us not confuse
“revelation” which is the giving of truth from the mouth of God through
Apostles and Prophets with “illumination” which is the understanding of
those revelation, a gift from the Spirit of God. Illumination belongs to
pastors, teachers, and evangelists: revelation belongs to Apostles and
Prophets. If some false teachers recognized this, they would not say
“God told me”; if the Mormons recognized this they would throw away
three of their four Bibles and ignore as authoritative the words from their
First President; if the Roman Catholics recognized this, they would accept
as advice only any papal decrees. Baptists are also not innocent as many
put the Scoffield Reference Bible notes on the same level of authority as
Scripture itself.} When we confuse authorities between the Apostles and
Prophets and others, not only are we denying the authority of the Word of
God but also we have abrogated our “priesthood of believers” to another
human.
(3). We mean that the Bible is Sufficient in Its Message.
It may not tell us all that we want to know: however, it tells us all that we
need to know for salvation, for the worship of God, for faith in Jesus
Christ, for the living of the Christian life, and etc. And most often we have
not received a solution to a perplexing problem with what God has to say
about it, because we have not yet discover under the illumination of the
Holy Spirit what has been there ever since the Apostle or Prophet wrote it.
Evolution has confused our brain. The Bible has not evolved one iota
since the Prophet or Apostle wrote it. What has evolved is our collective
and individual understanding of what that Prophet or Apostle wrote.
(4). The Bible is high fidelity in understanding.
I added this fourth meaning of the Bible as the Word of God after listening
over 50 years to fundamentalists and others of the same attitude who
think that God can not overcome any limitations of language or word
choice. We called them “fuedamentalists” when I was growing up in the
SBC; but now it is like what you call a Texas Aggie at General Dynamics,
Fort Worth, “boss”. They left the SBC approximately 1900, but now as of
20 years ago with the leadership of W.A. Criswell, Charles Stanley, and
Adrian Rogers they took over the SBC. The reason we called them
fuedamentalists then, and I still do now, is because of their fighting spirit
wherein you knew what they were against more than what they were far. It
also feeds their ego and that of their congregations as they talk about
“verbal inspiration” as something they have and no one else has. {It is a
straw man to make you think that they are “conservative”. I am
conservative on all Scripture as the Word of God and conservative on the
spirit of Christ not being a fighting spirit. Fundamentalists are not
conservative.} That verbal inspiration, sometimes to the extent of
accepting only the King James Version, is generally a disguise for some
pet doctrine they have taken from the Scoffield Bible Reference notes,
like PREMILLENNIALISM.
I wish we could have a counterrevolution in the SBC where real southern
baptist, in spirit and doctrine and attitude, take back over control from the
fundamentalists. I think it was hardly fair to millions of real southern
baptists, when two other denominations was formed. And what I am truly
concerned about besides the present “spirit” of the Convention is the
books that have replaced those of real Southern Baptists. By and large,
except now at the Seminaries where fundamentalists have replaced the
professors, the fundamentalists were trained out back of the church in a
little building called a seminar with books of lesser quality. What has really
happened now in the SBC is as predicted by Dr. R. G. Lee in his sermon
“The Menace of Mediocrity”, “Wrens make prey where eagles dare not
perch”. Of course, there is the likelihood that we are so deep into The
Falling Away, there we are past the point of no return. What I am saying is
that the Bible can speak for itself in any version. It is a living and dynamic
book through which the Holy Spirit speaks. The problem, most often, is
not in the exact word or words; but rather in the willingness of the reader
or preacher to really do the will of God. As Jesus said, “If any man will do
His will, he will know of the doctrine if it be of God.”
2.  The Word or Word of Truth were favorite terms for Bible or Scriptures
in the writings, and we will look at those extensively in the chapters of this
volume.  Two will be briefly mentioned now as examples.
(1).  II Timothy 4:2.
This verse as a preliminary to the warning of the time when there will be
little tolerance for sound doctrine, tells a possible preventive measure.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke,
exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (II Timothy 4:2)
This concludes with a good combination. Even as preaching must include
the triad elements of exhortation, comfort, and edification (I Cor 14:3), so
here preaching the word ends in exhortation with longsuffering and
doctrine. The longsuffering tells of love and patience; and certainly on all
doctrine we would dare not be among those that cast the first stone. It is
no person or persons that we are aiming at when we talk about what the
Bible teaches: it is not personal; it is something that was in the Bible
before you and I were born. You know what is right behind this verse
above, “for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine...”
And what this means as we dive further into the Falling Away is that less
and less churches of the SBC and other churches will put up with reproof,
rebuke, and even exhortation with sound doctrine.
1-6:  Sufferings and the Ministry of Paul.
Above all Paul was told in his call to the Ministry of the great things he
must suffer, and I think somewhere in those scriptures about “suffering”
we will find also the great thing that Paul did as Chief Editor of the New
Testament. When you stop to consider that second to Christ Himself Paul
is the most famous Christian that has ever lived, I frankly am surprised
that there are not several Old Testament predictions that foretold of Paul
and his work. Perhaps there are, and during this volume study we can
seek them out.
1. The call to Paul’s Ministry in the vision of Ananias.
Ananias in the vision was told to go to this one Saul of Tarsus who was
praying, and to put his hands on him so that he could receive his sight.
Ananias objected. He said, “I’ve heard of this man, of the evil he has done
in Jerusalem to Christians, and how he has authority from the chief priests
to put all in prison that call on the name of Jesus.”
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto
me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of
Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s
sake.” (Acts 9:15,16)
Here is what we can nail down so far on the Call to the Ministry of the
Apostle Paul.
[1]. He was a chosen vessel to Christ.
[2]. Paul’s call was to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles, kings, and
the children of Israel
[3]. Later Christ (no doubt in Arabia and subsequently) would show Paul
“how great things he must suffer” for Christ.
2. Suffering was always part of the ministry of the Old Testament
Prophets, especially the writing prophets, and Paul as a lawyer was very
familiar with that.
Stephen in his famous last words of Acts 7, in a condensed history of the
Old Testament, tells us of the sufferings of the prophets.
“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have
slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom
ye have been now the betrayers and murderers...” (Acts 7:52)
3. The Ministry of Jesus Himself is often referred to as a ministry of
suffering.
The famous passage of Isaiah 53 tells of the Ministry of Jesus in terms of
the “Suffering Servant”.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and
we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
And with many others similar words like--borne our griefs, carried our
sorrows, stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, wounded, bruised,
chastisement, stripes, oppressed, as a lamb to the slaughter--Isaiah 53
tells of the suffering ministry of Christ.
4. Paul testified that the ultimate in the Ministry and in being a Christian
was what could result from suffering, that is the attainment of the
Resurrection from the dead.
Let us also not forget that the preparations of Paul before the call to the
ministry were also preparations for his ministry. He tells us of some of
those educational, training, and experience backgrounds before His call.
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks
that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the
eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of
the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal,
persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law,
blameless.” (Philippians 3:4-6)
Yet those were not the sufferings that helped Paul fulfill His call to the
Ministry.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss of Christ.”
(Philippians 3:7)
There is the obvious motivation in the Ministry of Paul!
“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of
all things, and do count them but dung, that I my win Christ...” (Philippians
3:8)
There is “sufferings” again, in the loss of all things that were in important
of the flesh and in the world. Surely in order in fulfill the Ministry of Paul, in
preaching, in missionary journeys, and in the writing and editorship of New
Testament books the essential foundation was the knowledge of Christ
Jesus. Not only knowledge, but to be a leader in these avenues of
expression about Jesus, Paul needed “excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus...” Somewhere before we finish this volume, we must prove
from the Scriptures that EXCELLENCY and SUFFERINGS are closely
correlated.
“...and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which of the
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is
of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his
death; if by an means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
(Philippians 3:9-11)
There it is again: know Him, the power of His resurrection, and “THE
FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS”. Ephesians and the Ephesian
ministry form a benchmark in the writings of Paul and in the ministry of the
Apostle Paul. It was after the three year ministry in Ephesus and in the
area of Asia Minor near Ephesus, that he could truly say that he had
worked where he was not building on other men’s ministry. You can detect
that landmark in the way that Paul addressed his letters, boldly calling
himself “an apostle of Jesus Christ” with children (I Timothy 1:1 and II
Corinthians 1:1). In the writing of I Corinthians he was almost there as he
was “called to be an Apostle”. A little weaker than that would be the
“servant and called to be an Apostle” of Romans and Titus. Begging the
issue of Apostleship would be the “an Apostle, not of men but of Jesus”
of Galatians. {Remember like with any other auto, you must distinguished
between the time of writing and the time of publication.} When Paul came
to formally write his earliest synagogue address as recorded in the book
of Hebrews, it without the salutation of any name at all. Therefore if you
continue this trend and sequence the 14 letters written by the Apostle Paul
in terms of Paul’s own concept of his ministry--at least, as he felt
accepted in the Church and churches--then it would go as follows.
Paul’s Concept of His Own Ministry in Writing

books from Paul        Name of the epistle        how Paul addressed himself
1.        Galatians                                        Apostle not of men but of
Jesus        
2.        Hebrews                                        no name
3.        I, II Thessalonians        names only (Paul, Silas, Timothy)
4.        Romans, Titus        servant and called to be an Apostle
5.        I Corinthians        called to be an Apostle
6.        I Timothy, II Corinthians        an Apostle with children
7.        Ephesians, Colossians, and II Timothy        an Apostle
8.        Philippians        servant with Timothy
9.        Prisoner                        Philemon


1-7:  Apostle with Children, I Timothy and II Corinthians.
It is felt that the exact sequencing should not be belabored, and that it
should be considered helpful only in that it leads to the spiritual messages
of the letters. No doubt Paul digressed back to servant near the end of his
ministry in order to identify with the ministry of Timothy, or have the
churches identify with the ministry of Timothy, and also out of deference
to the friend-servant concept of the final teachings of Jesus on earth. Paul
almost called himself an Apostle in the first writing of Galatians; however,
it was little or no concern for the acceptance of the churches which came
later.   Of course this writer is aware of different sequencing and respects
especially that of the conservation Bible scholar F.F. Bruce which goes
like this: (1) Galatians; (2) Thessalonians; (3) I Corinthians; (4) Philippians;
(5) II Corinthians; (6) Romans; (7) Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians;
and (8) Pastoral epistles. It is obvious that Bruce has not attempted to
sequence the pastoral epistles of Titus, I, and II Timothy. However,
enough of this sequencing. Recall that the emphasis in this volume as in
all nine volumes of THE LEARN CHRIST COMMENTARIES is to be on
the internal content. That is interpreted to mean that the 14 New
Testament books themselves and their context, rather than information
about them, will be the focus in this volume while working on any
sequence.
1-8:  An Outline of I Timothy.
{Grow accustomed to these periodic outlines of single books of the Bible.
By the completion of the 9 volumes we will have outlined all 66 books.}
I. Historical Background of Ephesus, Timothy there, Paul’s Apostleship,
and his charge to Timothy. I Timothy 1:1-2:15
II. Elders and Deacons. I Timothy 3:1-13
III. The Church and the Mystery of Godliness. I Timothy 3:14-6:21
                                                                    1. The Church is the pillar and
ground of         truth. 3:15
                                    2. From the God manifested in the flesh in the
Christ through the
received into heaven, the Ascension of Christ. 3:16
    3. The work of a minister during the last days. 4:1-6:21.
                                          a. Some will depart from the faith, getting into
seducing spirits and
       doctrines of devils.
                   b. Be an example of believers.
                   c. How to treat certain groups of people in the church, 5:1-6:4.
                   d. Godliness with contentment is great gain: follow after
godliness,
        I Timothy 6:6-19.
                   e. Keep what has been committed to your trust, not as those
who have
        erred from the faith, 6:20,21.
1-9.  “Believe” in the letters of the Apostle Paul.

‘Believe” as you would expect is a big word in the Bible, much larger in the
New Testament than in the Old Testament.  If you listened to some
preachers you would think that the noun “faith” has no verb equivalent,
some trying to invent the word “faithing” as a verb equivalent of faith; but
let us look at what is really in the NT in the King James Version.  The
Greek word for “believe” is “pisteou”, and it literally means “to adhere to,
rely on, trust.”  I like that, don’t you.  We adhere to Christ, God, the Bible,
and God’s plan of the one baptism for salvation; we rely on Christ; and we
trust Christ, God, the Bible, and the one baptism by the power of God.  
The word “believe” itself independent of verb forms like believeth and
believer is found approximately 330 times in the New Testament,
approximately 53 times of those in the 14 letters of the Apostle Paul.  We
will start at the end of this chapter with the 53 times from the Apostle Paul
since this is a commentary on the letters of Paul.  {Granted the Apostle
John is the most frequent user of the world “believe", indeed the Gospel
of John has the stated purpose that readers may “believe in Jesus as the
Christ, the Son of God”; but you can read about that in volume 2 of the
LEARN CHRIST commentaries, “Christ for Individuals”, a commentary on
Revelation, the Gospel of John, and the three little epistles.}

1.  “Believe” in Romans 1:16.  Here Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel of
Christ for it represents the power of God into salvation for everyone who
“believes”.
2.  “Believe” in Romans 3:22.  If you desire to known the very beginning of
the way to put the righteousness of God first along with God and His
kingdom; well, the beginning of righteousness in an individual is through
faith {the noun equivalent of believe} in Jesus Christ.  It is “to all and on all”
who believe.
3.  “Believe” in Romans 4:3 and 4:5.  Abraham believed God, and that
faith was accounted to by God as righteousness.  If you work for
righteousness, then there is no grace; the righteousness would be a debt
from God.  He has no provision for that, and never has!  The way God
does it is the opposite of work, only “believe” on the God who justifies the
ungodly, and that faith is counted for righteousness in the sight of God.
4.  Romans 4:11.  Even though Abraham received circumcision as a sign
that he already had the seal of righteousness by faith in his life--just like
we receive water baptism as a sign that we have received in the one
baptism the seal of the righteousness by faith in our lives; of course,
Abraham thus became the “father of all who believe”, circumcised or
uncircumcised.  Righteousness is “imputed” by God!  It is important in the
case of circumcision and baptism not to confuse the seal and the sign,
circumcision and baptism are signs and the seal in both cases is
righteousness by faith.
5.  Romans 4:17.  This verse tells about the One in whom Abraham
“believed”:  the God who calls things into existence that did not exist
before; the same God who gives life to the dead; and the God the Father
that was present when these promises were made to Abraham through a
messenger from that God.
6.  Romans 4:18.  It did not look good for Abraham many times that the
promise of God to be the father of many nations would be fulfilled--little or
no hope--but with hope he believed in the promise of God.
7.  Romans 4:24.  Righteousness is likewise imputed to us “who believe in
Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead”.  Of course, that is a lot
of beliefs:  Believe in the God the Father who sent, was in Christ, and
Who raised Christ from the dead; believe in the Crucifixion of Jesus; and
believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the grave on the third day; and
believe around this gospel is centered the salvation of God.

{These references to “believe” in Paul and the other Scriptures will be
continued at the end of other chapters to follow.}
March 2012 Newsletter:  A Continuation of the
free online and on email Bible course on the
Life and Letters of Paul.
NOTE:  There are 3 ways you can read this Bible study session:  (1) right here in your email;
(2) click on "March" above and read online at www.biblecombibleman; or (3) download the
Bible session in PDF, the advantage of which is that the footnotes are included. Don't forget
that in order to read the download on your computer, Adobe Reader is required which you
can also download free from
www.adobe.com . To download in PDF click on the title below,
The Ministry of the Apostle Paul.