Etikettarkiv | paul

Was the apostle Paul, or Saul, a murderer?

evil eyesDid Paul kill someone before he was converted?

There is no evidence for that Paul actually killed someone in his life, but he was still acting violently in his goal to pursue his religion which he had adapted to a Pharisaic variant where he was actively searching for converted Jews with the aim to get them imprisoned.

Paul first enters the Biblical scene with his original name Saul (later changed to Paul by Jesus himself), and this is when he consented to the stoning (to death) of Stephen in Acts 7-8. Paul did not participate in the stoning itself, but he did not decline to guard the clothes of those who did – which means that they trusted him in the matter, and he was on their side.

Consenting to someone being killed/sentenced to death (or ”capital punishment”) is not the same as being a murderer himself. If that were the case, loads of people would be charged for being murderers today just for voting ”yes” to capital punishment. Paul would just be one in the crowd. Still, due to Paul’s actions there were some disciples of Jesus who were put in jail and received a death sentence. Paul had no authority to decide about the sentence/punishment, but it certainly looks like he was not against capital punishment. We can read that he received documentation from the high priests which authorized him to persecute certain men and women (who sided with Jesus) to send them to Jerusalem to be punished. He did not hesitate to do this even if some of the captured ones would end up dying as a consequence.

Acts 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Acts 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

So Saul caused mayhem in the church, and he entered into houses and caused people to end up in prison. Below we can also see that he was breathing threats and murder against them, but we still do not have any actual evidence that his violent treatment caused anyone to be killed. He did not hesitate to cause converted Jews to be brought bound to Jerusalem because of their (as he thought) incorrect belief – but this does not necessarily mean that anyone ended up being killed. By his own admission, Paul was certainly ready to to persecute people even if some of them would risk their lives, but was this the actual outcome? Maybe there would be an increased risk of people dying if he had been able to pursue all his plans, but he was stopped by the famous vision of Jesus on his way to Damascus. 

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

So Saul/Paul was halted in his plans and chose not to pursue them after being converted. It is not certain that his aim was to get Christians killed, but he definitely wanted to prevent them from maintaining their faith and spreading their faith to others – through all means possible.

Even if there is no evidence for that Saul/Paul actually killed someone (he was stopped before reaching Damascus) was he not a murderer in heart since he approved of the stoning of Stephen, and probably would not mind if even more converted Jews were stoned to death?

1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

It is true that whoever hates his brother is a murderer and is therefore not saved, but this is a different matter than the subject of whether Paul actually killed someone physically. There are people who store hatred in their hearts towards others but who have not killed anyone physically whether directly or indirectly, and who might even refuse to do so if they had a chance. They would therefore not be considered murderers. (Likewise, not all people would consider someone a murderer just because he/she votes for capital punishment in his country.) God will nevertheless one day judge our hearts on judgment day, and the key question is if we have repented for our sins or not.

We can get some more information about Paul:

Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

1 Cor. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

Blood of JesusPaul repented for his past sins and left the old man behind

Paul was converted, and when Ananias placed his hands on him and prayed for him, he was healed from his blindness and was filled with the holy Ghost:

Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. — 15 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:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Just because Paul was ”chosen” vessel does not mean he had no choice in the matter. Jesus might have chosen him because he understood that Paul would respond positively to the task, and because Jesus wanted his help to spread the gospel to the gentiles and to shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake”. (I. e. Paul would get a similar treatment to the one that he himself had chosen to give others.) Remember the parable in Matt. 22 about the wedding feast for the King’s son, and where those who chose to go (and chose to dress properly) were called the chosen ones, rather than those on the guest list (list with invitations) who declined to go:

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision

When Paul was converted, he changed his way of thinking and left the old man behind. He walked the talk, and the man who wrote most letters in the New Testament was no hypocrite. Paul expected the followers of Jesus to have a pure heart and a good conscience, and he admitted that he was formerly a blasphemer and persecutor of the church.

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,—12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was BEFORE a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Paul acted the way he did because he thought it was the right thing to do. He acted ignorantly in unbelief. This can be compared to situations where a sinner is fully aware  that his deeds are evil (perhaps through stealing from someone else, or perhaps through being involved in adultery and lies) and his own conscience confirms it. The sinner might not want to be treated the same way that he himself treats others, and this is evidence of a sinful heart. This is how God will judge our hearts:

Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Many Christians misunderstand Rom. 7 as though Paul is speaking about his life as a converted Christian, even though he is only expressing the thoughts of someone (like himself) left to himself under the law. In Rom. 7 he says for instance:

Rom. 7:14 But I am carnal, sold under sin

And in the following chapter he claims that those who are carnal will reap DEATH – which would include himself, unless he changed his life style:

Rom. 8:6 For to be carnally minded is DEATH 

It is absolutely clear that Paul did in fact change his life style and expected fellow Christians to avoid sin just like he did:

I Cor. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and SIN NOT

Rom. 6:Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.-—   — 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of SIN UNTO DEATH, or of obedience unto righteousness?  — 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.—:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.— 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul claimed that he (and his two coworkers) were holy, just and unblameable (which is the same as being ”perfect”), and he also claimed to have lived ”in all good conscience before God until this day”. A person who sins evidently does not live with a good conscience.

1 Thess. 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how HOLILY and JUSTLY and UNBLAMEABLY WE BEHAVED OURSELVES among you that believe:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I HAVE LIVED IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE BEFORE GOD UNTIL THIS DAY.  

Acts. 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 

2 Cor. 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2 Tim. 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with PURE CONSCIENCE, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day

The apostle Paul had a revelation rather than a regeneration on the road to Damascus

paulus2”I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19)

We can read about Paul’s meeting with Jesus Christ in Acts. 9 in the Bible.

Paul was a zealous man, and he even threatened to kill the disciples of Jesus because they were Christians. He was on his way to Damascus where he would be getting the proper documentation for bringing Christian men and women bound to Jerusalem and bring them before the chief priests. Paul did not realize that he was not serving a good cause, and by his actions he was actually persecuting the son of God and God in flesh – Jesus Christ. Paul was certainly not a lazy man when it came to religion and if he could be converted to the right side, he would be a very good choice to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul had inflicted much grief and pain in innocent people, and for the rest of his life he would be getting several doses of his own medicine.

However, Paul was not chosen to believe, and not chosen for salvation. He was chosen to receive a special revelation from Jesus, with the aim that he would be converted and thus become a useful missionary for the gospel. Jesus likely knew the likely outcome through such a revelation, since he knew Paul’s heart. It is true that not all people get this type of revelation from Jesus, but it is also true that all people on earth in fact have different kind of backgrounds, living environments, chances to hear the gospel, etc. God is fair and we will be judged based on our conscience and abilities (Romans 2:7-15).

Paul saw a light from heaven and spoke to Lord Jesus. Paul was blind for three days and was also praying to God during this time. Ananias was instructed by Jesus to lay his hands on Paul to induce the miracle to give Paul his sight back. He did so, and told Paul that Jesus had sent himthat you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v.17). This is therefore an example of a person who is able to seek and pray to God before he receives the Holy spirit, Cornelius in Acts 10 is another example. It is also an example of a person who was not among the initial disciples, and yet had the gift of healing and inducing the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands. The spiritual gifts are still applicable today. As soon as Paul received his sight and the Holy Spirit, he rose up to be baptized. 

Acts. 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” NKJV

It does not say above that Paul was chosen for salvation, but again he was chosen to receive a revelation. He responded well to it as expected (that was the aim of the revelation after all) and was therefore correctly described as a chosen vessel of Jesus. This does not mean that Paul did not have a will of his own, or that he had no choice in the matter.

Calvinists often say that we are chosen for salvation (or damnation) from the foundation of the world, but if that is true one must wonder if Paul was chosen yet again on the road to Damascus? Was he not chosen the first time from the foundation of the world? If someone also suggests that Paul was chosen for salvation from his mother’s womb (see verse below), then it would make Paul chosen for salvation no less than three times! Besides, if Paul was chosen for salvation once or twice before Acts 9, his divine revelation would be irrelevant anyway, since he would be chosen for salvation with or without it. 

Clearly no one is chosen to believe or not believe, because if this had been the case then it would naturally be God’s fault if someone does not believe. We can read in Acts 17 that we are even created to seek and find God, and that he is not far away from any of us. Also, keep in mind the parable of the wedding party of the King’s son in Matt. 22. Those who were called ”chosen” were those who had chosen to go to the party, and they were not even on the initial guest list.

Paul had an option to obey or disobey Jesus’ calling. Fortunately he obeyed and was a useful chosen vessel.

So then, King Agrippa, I WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT to the vision from heaven (Acts 26:19)

God separates us all from our mother’s wombs, and again, we are all created to seek him and find him. We can be saved through God’s grace if we respond well to his calling. The reason for the revelation at Damascus, was to shake Paul up so that he would hopefully get converted and be a good preacher of the gospel. It worked out well, just like Jesus had anticipated.

Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (NKJV)

There are apostles in the church today, and we are warned about false apostles

 

apostle 3”Apostle” comes from the greek word ”apostolos” (Strong’s 652) and means one that is sent forth (with orders or a mission), like a messenger.

The very first apostles were the same as Jesus first disciples.

Matt. 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

When Judas Iscariot fell away, Matthias was appointed in his stead.

Acts 2:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Also Paul was called by God to be an apostle.

Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother (Rom. 1:1, 11:13, 1 Cor. 1:1, 9:1-2, 1 Cor. 15:9, 2 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:1, 1:11, Titus 1:1)

Barnabas was called an apostle according to Luke, and it’s possible that also Timothy, Judas Barsabas and Silvanus (probably the same as Silas) were considered apostles as well. They were certainly called, and sent forth by Paul to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me BARNBABAS and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.14 Which when the apostles, BARNABAS and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out

Act 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed BARSABAS and SILAS, chief men among the brethren

70 other individuals sent out to spread the gospel and to heal the sick

Apart from the first 12, and apart from Paul and Barnabas, we can read from Luke that 70 other individuals were sent forth to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.—9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.—13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.—16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

In the above verses it’s clear that these 70 individuals were given much divine power. Not only does Jesus separate people between those who listen to these 70 and those who despite them, but the 70 are also given power to do mighty work like healing the sick. They were more powerful than the enemy – including the spirits from the enemy. With other words, there were no one else who had greater power apart from God and the other 12 apostles, and Jesus told these 70 individuals to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into his harvest. This seems to be exactly what Jesus had done to these 70 at one point, because he had sent them forth to do mighty work.

The commands for the initial 12 apostles were similar as for the 70:

Matt. 28:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.—7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

In order to not confuse the first 12 apostles with the above 70 individuals (all of them called to spread the gospel by Jesus Christ), it makes sense that ”the apostles” refers only to the original apostles, including either Judas Iscariot or later on Matthias. Also Jesus Christ could actually be called an apostle, because he was also sent forth by his Father to share the gospel with the people on earth. Neither Jesus would be included whenever the Bible uses the term ”the apostles”.

Hebr. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Even if the 70 individuals mentioned in Luke 10 had similar tasks as the 12 apostles, it’s only the 12 apostles that will be given one foundation each in the new Jerusalem. The 12 are likely viewed in highest regard because they were the first disciples who remained with him (unlike other disciples as those mentioned in John 6:66), who were taught by him, dined with him, were his close friends, etc. It’s difficult to have 12 + 70 very close and intimate friends, but it’s possible to select 12 individuals and be both a close friend as well as being their master. They in turn could do the same – gather a few people and making them into disciples.

Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Eph. 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Luke 11:47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation

Jesus is naturally the one with all the wisdom in the world, but since the first apostles were sent out from him they are also very trustworthy. Jude is therefore in Jude 1:3 exhorting christians ”to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. The saints were the first christians, and the very first christians were the apostles. If the apostles make sure to adhere to Jesus teaching, and if these apostles make sure to only appoint qualified men to be apostles and pastors, then all would be well in church. Unfortunately Paul (and Peter, John, Jude, etc) also knew that wolves in sheep’s clothing would be entering the church soon after their own departure. In 1 Tim. 5:22 we can read Paul’s warning to Timothy Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (which is the way one officially appoints a presbytery/pastor), because he knew the order of events. 

Junia is a female name, but rather than being named an apostle it’s more likely that the below verse should be read as though the apostles viewed both Andronicus and Junia as godly individuals of highest regard.

Rom. 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Apostles are supposed to be in the church, along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachersapostle 2

If teachers, evangelists and pastors are still active in church today, then so are apostles and prophets since they are all listed together in the below verses. Paul is explaining the church order for the Corinthians and the Ephesians (and for all of us), and it would be strange if he asked ”are all apostles, are all teachers, are all workers of miracles?”, if these functions would soon cease and lose their significance. If apostles would soon be irrelevant in church within one generation, it would be better for Paul to end all confusion by explaining that only the twelve could be considered apostles and that therefore false apostles could easily be detected.

1 Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Based on the above, the order of authority seems to be: God almighty, Jesus Christ his son (Jesus is of course also God, but he is also the son who is sent out), the 12 apostles, other apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues.

We are warned about false apostles

If the case would be that only the initial 12 disciples could ever be considered true apostles, it would be a breeze to figure out which ones the false apostles are. Anyone claiming to be an apostle and not being among the first dozen or more, would by definition be a false prophet. Yet, the Bible doesn’t make this particular distinction between true apostles and false apostles, but it’s rather about being qualified and showing good fruit. We are warned about both false apostles and false prophets – and supposed to look out.

2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

2 Cor. 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

A true Biblical apostle would also be able to show signs, perform wonders and mighty deeds. Both Philip and Stephen did great miracles (Acts 8:6 and 6:8).

The holy Spirit and the ability to speak in tongues can be received by laying on of hands

Some christians suggest that the holy Spirit and miracles can only come from the hands of the apostles, but the Bible doesn’t narrow it down in that way. The first christians (normally the apostles) had this power, but the amount of christians increased and the holy Spirit could also be received in other ways (by listening to the gospel and having a repentant heart).

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money

Acts. 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

”God has dealt to every man a measure of faith” – concerns spiritual gifts – Rom. 12:3

acts 17 27We are created with the ability to seek and find God

To start with we know from the Bible that God has created us with the ability to SEEK him and FIND him, even though he is not far from any one of us. It’s for this purpose that he has formed us. There is much joy in heaven for each person who repents, because this means that a person has gone from death to life and God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;30 Truly, these timso that they should seek the Lord,es of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this TO ALL by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV)

John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world

Ez. 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

If we preach that ”faith is a gift”, there is a risk that people will understand this to mean that God gives ”faith” (faith to believe in God) to some and not to others, since all people evidently don’t have faith in God. This logically results in that people who don’t believe in God are innocent victims, because God did not provide them with enough ”faith” to repent and believe in him. They would have good reasons to be disappointed with God who prevented them from believing. Therefore it’s best to not express ourselves in a way that can easily be misunderstood. (Nevertheless, calvinists do believe that God predestines some to be saved and others to not be saved so they wouldn’t have any reasons to suggest they are misunderstood.)

Many people get healed thanks to THEIR faith

Some christians erroneously believe that the ”gift” spoken about in Eph. 2:8-9 is ”faith”, but in reality the Greek shows that it’s ”salvation” that is the gift as can be seen here. It’s certainly true that we don’t have to pay for our salvation, or that we can merit salvation by anything we do (or believe), because we would be hopelessly lost without the gift offered to us even though we don’t deserve it in the least. Some christians suggest that Rom. 12:3 indicates that God hands out the gift of faith (the ability to believe in God) to SOME people, leaving the rest in darkness, but if that were the case God alone must be blamed for people’s ”choice” to not believe in him since they in reality wouldn’t have any choice in the matter. Rom. 12: 3 actually says that God has dealt to ”every man” the measure of faith:

Rom. 12:3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV)

Note that not all ”faith” spoken about in the Bible is in relation to belief in God but it could also be in relation to a person’s faith in one or more of the spiritual gifts, and that is the topic of Rom. 12. Not all christians have a strong faith in that they can be healed (sometimes they get healed anyway), or that they can prophesy, speak in tongues, etc. Fortunately our faith can grow in this area. Here are some examples of where people’s faith plays an important role when it comes to healing (KJV and NKJV):

Mark 5:24 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.

Acts 14:9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Luke 17:.17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, GREAT IS THY FAITH: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Mark. 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE; go in peace, and be faith 3whole of thy plague.

Luke 18:41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE.43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now HE COULD DO NO MIGHTY WORK THERE, EXCEPT THAT HE LAID HIS HANDS ON A FEW SICK PEOPLE AND HEALED THEM. 6 And He marveled because of their UNBELIEF. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. 

Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. —13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and AS THOU HAST BELIEVED, SO BE IT DONE UNTO THEE. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Matt. 17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.17 Then Jesus answered and said, O FAITHLESS AND PERVERSE GENERATION, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?20 And Jesus said unto them, BECAUSE OF YOUR UNEBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Also 1 Corinthians 12-14 concerns the spiritual gifts. Paul says ”There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit”. He says that the Spirit is distributing these gifts to each one has he wills, but he also tells us to COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts. Too many christians are of the opinion that the spiritual gifts have ceased, but some of them still concede that ”Sure, if God one day hits me with some of these gifts out of the blue, then who am I to object”? Meaning, they wait for God to take action despite of their disinterest and objections to the spiritual gifts, and by being so reluctant they disobey Paul who tells us to EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. Instead of earnestly desire these gifts, they might choose to discourage others from having this type of desire by telling them that the gifts have passed and are not for today. Flee from a pastor who warns you and discourages you from seeking the gifts. Satan is thrilled each time he can disarm a christian person and make him weaker.

If healing, prophesying and speaking in tongues have ceased, then so have faith, wisdom, knowledge and ”discerning of the spirits”, which can be found on the same list. ”Faith” is here listed separately, and it could for instance concern the hopes and expectations that we have when we take the time to pray. If we believe that praying is a more or less a waste of time and that God either doesn’t hear our prayers or that everything is predetermined, then it’s a risk that become weak when we pray (if we pray at all). It could also concern our faith in relation to prophesies and dreams – that God is able to express himself through such means (this could be combined with discerning the spirits) – and that we are able to find ourselves in ”divine appointments” with other individuals in our daily lives which we should make use of. Another example could be when we are trusting in God for providing financial aid in a difficult situation, and there are numerous testimonies from christians who give account of miracles that they have experienced when they are being provided money precisely when needed in a very urgent situation which they have prayed about. If we have a strong faith in that God is able to lead us in our daily life, we have accomplished much and our faith can grow even further. We will understand the power of prayers and that we can be useful tools for others, just like other people can be used by God to enlighten and encourage us.

1 Cor. 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

1 Cor. 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

faith 4The context of Romans 12 – having faith in spiritual gifts

Romans 12 shows us how Paul beseeches the christians in Rome, and all of us, to live holy lives in order to be acceptable to God, and to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Rom. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Right after v. 3, where Paul mentioned ”as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”, he explains further what he means by that:

FOR as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As we can see, Paul has spiritual gifts in mind when he speaks about ”faith” in v. 3 (the previous verse). He says in v. 4  ”let us prophesy in proportion to our faith”, because the truth is that not everyone has the gift of prophesying – often because they don’t even believe in the spiritual gifts . Paul says ”Let us use them”, indicating that some of us are not using our gifts even though they are provided to us, and one reason might be lack of boldness. Which gifts we possess are dependent on our willingness to seek the gifts (as we are told) and which gifts the Spirit provides us (God’s grace). Apart from using faith in relation to prophesy, Paul also mentions ministering, teaching exhorting, giving, leading and being merciful. These are all areas where a strong faith is very useful, and the more we see what God can do, the more our faith can grow and we become more bold – fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Not all of us are for instance teachers, but we can all do something for the Kingdom of God, depending on our personalities, talents, gifts and faith. We are all different members of the same body.

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 

We will be judged by a righteous God – and he knows what we know…osas 10

A person can be healed through faith in his name (either from the one who heals, or the one getting healed, or both). The following verse is both about believing in Jesus, and believing in the power that extends from him  – so that we are able to expect a person getting healed.

Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

If we have a strong faith, we can better endure persecutions and tribulations, and we can better learn the power of a prayer. There is a risk that we might habitually pray but still lack faith in that God will respond. It’s like going in to a store and by the counter ask for a certain product, and when the salesperson says ”Sure, one moment please” and leaves the counter in order to get what you ask for, you stand there with doubts if this person is actually going to return with your product. ”Maybe the product is out of stock, or maybe the salesperson forgot about me or went for lunch?” So you just leave the store without getting the product that you asked for, even though you had the chance and should have endured. We can learn to grow in faith.

2 Thes. 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

If God would hand out various amounts of ”faith” to us , as an ability to even believe in him, it wouldn’t make sense for Jesus to request us to believe in him if he is aware of that some of us lack the faith to do it.

 John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, BELIEVE THE WORKS: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Matt. 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It’s not biblically sound to answer Jesus ”because you didn’t provide us with enough faith”. What must we do to be saved?

Acts 16:30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?”31 So they said, “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and Silas didn’t answer ”There is nothing you can do to get saved, apart from hoping that God has given you enough faith to believe in him. Just wait and see”.

We will be judged based on our faith, what we know and learn, if we seek God’s wisdom, our fruit and our conscience:

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?—17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Rom. 2: 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

God commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to REPENT – Acts 17:30

acts 17Acts 17 starts with the apostle Paul reasoning with the Jews in a synagogue in Thessalonica as his custom was, and he explained and demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ. Paul successfully managed to persuade some of them of this fact, indicating that our struggle and prayers for people’s souls can make a difference (i.e. people are not chosen to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world). NKJV:

Acts 17:2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. (NKJV)

Paul continued on to Berea where we can read how Luke (the author) is praising these Bereans for being fair-minded because they ”received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”. (Note that they didn’t accept whatever Paul told them just because he was an apostle, but they compared Paul’s preaching with the scripture to check if Paul was on target.) For this reason (”therefore”) many of them believed – and since Paul’s main mission was to preach that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah of the scriptures, this is what these Berean apparently started to believe (among other things). We can again see that our efforts and Bible studies can make a difference.

Acts. 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

If God has predestined everything that takes place, there would be no reason for Paul to feel provoked by a city given over to idols, because then he would have praised God for arranging it that exact way. Instead Paul reasoned with the Jews to warn them about what was taking place in the city (as he often did) and also with the gentiles in their marketplace. Paul knew for a fact that his efforts could change the outcome of things and that everything was not set in stone from eternity past.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

We learn many interesting facts about God and his creation from Paul’s speech on Areopagus (Mars Hill):

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, THOUGH HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.30 Truly, these times of ignorance God OVERLOOKED, but now COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

  • We are all related to Adam and Eve (one blood) showing that Genesis seems to be a literal story.
  • He has ”determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings”, which likely means that he has set certain restrictions for us, such as maximum age and limits when it comes to our dwellings on earth.
  • God has created us in this way (perhaps referring to our ability to be aware of our mortality and also our ability to recognize that there is a God – which also Romans 1 confirms) in order to seek God, despite that Paul promises us that God is not far from anyone of us. It also says ”in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him”, and the reason Paul is not able to make any promises that we will absolutely find him (despite that he is always near each one of us) depends on our own sincerity when we seek him. Have we truly repented for our sins, and do we show him our love by what we do and by what we avoid doing? Some people might desire both God and their sins.
  • Paul calls us (human beings) the offspring of God, and he goes on to explain what we ”ought” to think about God. Not as tangible things such as gold, silver or stone (something shaped by man) but as something divine. He isn’t promising us that this is what we absolutely WILL do, but he is giving us good advice that we can be corrected by. As offspring of God, it wouldn’t make sense if some of his offspring were predestined to be wicked non-believers from the very start.
  • Apparently we have lived in times of ignorance, which is something that God has ”overlooked”, showing that our times of ignorance certainly haven’t been according to his will. He is, however, willing to forgive under certain conditions. Repentance!
  • God is willing to let go of our times of ignorance, but now he COMMANDS people to repent. He commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent. That indeed sounds like EVERY man in the entire world (so both men and women). Had Paul meant ”some” men (like a certain group of elect) there are a number of ways to express this. God is not the author of confusion, and he is able to explain things for us in a way that we can understand. It’s also natural for our God do make such commandment, because there is much JOY in heaven for each person who repents (Luke 15:7). Repenting signifies a person who has gone from spiritual death to spiritual life, and our merciful God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).
  • God commands all people to repent, but all people clearly do not repent. This is due to our free will which God has created us with, and if we choose to reject God WE are to be blamed and have to face the consequences for our choices. God is totally innocent of our unwise decisions. He doesn’t tempt anyone, much less cause people to rebel against him.

Thanks to Paul’s speech on the Areopagus, some people started to believe. Praise God for fishers of men! We have the right to become children of God if we prior to this 1) receive him, an 2) believe in his name. We are also requested to live righteous lives. The Holy Ghost is our Helper!

John 1:2 But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who BELIEVE in His name (NKJV)

1 John 10:3  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV)

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The order is 1) seek/believe, 2) confess sins, repent, 3) become cleansed/regenerated/born again when our sins are removed, 4) receive the Holy Ghost and become a child of God!

Lydia was not chosen to BELIEVE since she was a worshiper already – Acts 16:14

lydiaAnd a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, WHICH WORSHIPPED GOD, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul (Acts 16:14)

Lydia was never hand-picked to be a believer. God doesn’t work in such a way that he randomly (or for unknown reasons) selects a few lucky people to give faith and salvation while he leaves the rest for damnation, despite being guilty of having prevented them from believing by not enabling them to believe. That would hardly be righteous actions worthy of the God of the Bible. We are saved by FAITH and not by ELECTION. If we refuse to believe, we should not blame God for this failure but only ourselves.

Lydia found Paul and some other christians down by the beach where they were praying. Since she was a worshiper of God already, she was probably intrigued by what she heard and stayed to listen to learn more. That was a good choice since she learned more about the kingdom of God.

13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, WHICH WORSHIPPED GOD, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

It’s true that it says ”whose heart the Lord opened”, but we already know God didn’t open hear heart to be able to believe or to be a worshiper of God since she was this already. Her faith was the reason she was compelled to approach them and listen to their message.This was her own decision in the same way that Jesus disciples decided to either stay with him and learn more of his teaching, or to leave altogether (as in John. 6:66) and therefore remain in darkness. The reason that God opened her heart even more was so that she could ”attend to the things spoken by Paul” (Young’s literal). So not ”to believe” in the first place but to be able to understand Paul’s advice – perhaps about the most fruitful way to live a christian life and to be a useful tool for others. The Holy Ghost can certainly work in us, but we are the ones who must make the decision to repent and seek the Lord before this can begin to happen. We are requested to repent (and be baptized for the remission of sins, which should be made right after repentance) and then we will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

What else does the same chapter say about Lydia and about having faith? – Acts 16

Churches increased in number daily due to the word that Paul and Silas spread. What would have happened if they did not spread the gospel? Would the result be the same?

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

God wants us to spread the gospel since people might be saved through it. If we are saved by election (maybe from the creation of the world), spreading the gospel doesn’t seem to be important since it won’t make a difference:

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

The Philippian jailer fell down before Paul and Silas, likely knowing they served the one true God who can perform amazing miracles – such as creating earth quakes at the right time and open prison doors. He asked them ”what must I DO to be saved?”.

27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?

Paul and Silas did not answer: ”Absolutely NOTHING, since you have to hope for that God will possibly open your eyes so that you can believe. IF God works in you in such a way, then you know you’re one of the elect and you’ve been elect from birth and even from the creation of the world. You can’t possibly affect a decision about your destiny that has been made thousands of years ago. You can just relax and wait and see.”

Instead Paul and Silas answered his question with:

31 ”—BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

They did not promise automatic salvation for his entire household if only this jailer would take the path leading to salvation, because the same condition applied also to them. ”BELIEVE and thou shalt be saved!” Paul and Silas might also have figured out that this jailer likely would take the step to be saved since he had just witnessed a miracle and freely requested to know what he must do to be saved – showing his interest in his heart. If the man of the household gets born again, it’s likely that he will be able to affect his entire household with his new spiritual life, and especially if Paul and Silas evangelized to them too, which they did:

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

The jailer’s family indeed ended up BELIEVING, so they were not saved only because the man of the household was a believer. Neither did Paul and Silas contradict James (in his letter) where James explained that faith without deeds is dead. Also demons believe and tremble, so ”faith” means nothing unless you show your faith with your deeds. Abraham didn’t just sit under a bush and believed without obeying God. No, he showed time and again that he had a strong faith by being obedient to God, even when it came down to offering up his own son.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

Paul and Silas left prison and stayed in the house of Lydia for a while.

39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Paul said that he counted old ”things” loss for Christ, and rubbish or dung – Phil. 3:7-8

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What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ – for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as RUBBISH / Phil. 3:7-8, KJV

In order to understand which ”things” he was talking about, we must of course read the context. The subject of this chapter concerns the issue of Jewish circumcision which is an example of a ceremonial law within the Law of Moses. The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses started with the time of Moses and it lasted until the time of Jesus (Gal. 3:19). Before and after this period man on earth was certainly not supposed to be lawless, and even today we are expected to live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. Paul tells us in Romans 6 and 8 that if we live according to the flesh we will die and if we live according to the Spirit we will live. That is a condition for salvation – that we must make sure to abide in Christ.

In Phil. 3 Paul is giving serious instructions to the Philippians. He also explains that those who are the ”circumcision” (being circumcised in heart) are those who worship God in the Spirit. (I’ve chosen NKJV here in order to use a more simple language.):

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, (NKJV)

Paul further explains that he himself has a background as a Jew under the law, and he thoroughly believed in the idea of circumcision in order to be obedient to the Law of Moses. He is talking about the circumcision which is in the flesh, rather than in the heart. When it comes to the law of Moses, Paul considered himself blameless – as in doing everything to keep all the multiple regulations down to the smallest detail and MORE.

4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

However, Jesus explained that the problem with the pharisees was that they were hypocrites and that they did NOT have a clean INSIDE despite their zeal to be obedient to their scriptures. In fact, they lived in lawlessness because they had unclean hearts! We are not under the law if we are led by the Spirit:

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matt. 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.—13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.—  —25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Paul compares the status he had as a pharisee under the law of Moses, and which often included works ”to be seen by men”, with the new life in Christ which is not about being seen by men at all but about having a pure heart and by loving our neighbor as yourself. (We are not able to have a pure heart if we still sin. ) Paul gave up his own esteemed life (in the eyes of men) in order to be a servant of Christ, and that means that he also gave up earthly power and instead became an often despised christian. He thought his new life as a christian was well worth it, and he compared his old life – as a highly regarded pharisee – as nothing but dung. ”Loss of all things” could also include other worldly things, which amount to nothing in comparison with the pearl he found in Jesus:

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Naturally it was not the Law of Moses that was considered rubbish because God wouldn’t make any bad laws for us during any time. Being obedient to God is never considered rubbish! As a pharisee, Paul didn’t realize that the Law of Moses would pass away, to be replaced with an era where the Holy Spirit is our ruler and Jesus Christ the King. Paul discovered that the new life in Christ was not about obeying the ceremonial Jewish laws any more (as before) but about having faith in Jesus! The righteousness which is from God includes the possibility to be cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus who died for our sins, and that happens upon our repentance and our FAITH in Jesus Christ. Repentance means that we confess our sins and make a decision to be servants of Jesus, leading to our new birth. Paul is clear that we are not able to serve two masters and still be saved. The Law of Moses is in our past, but this doesn’t mean that we have no laws to follow. It’s still a sin to murder, steal, commit adultery and lie. It’s still a sin to deny Jesus, to refuse to forgive a brother and to take the mark of the beast. We still risk the wrath of God if we combine obedience with disobedience and refuse to repent. :

 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The subject concerns the resurrection from the death, and that is what Paul has in mind when he says that he is not already ”perfected”. Not even Jesus Christ was ”perfected” until after his glorification. We are able to live morally perfect here on earth, but the truth is of course that we have often chosen to be disobedient to God. Paul presses forward in holiness to reach the prize.

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected (”perfect”, KJV); but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to ”us, as many as are perfect”, and he encourages the Philippians to walk by the same rule and being of the same mind.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature (”perfect”, KJV), have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Paul also said:

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

and Paul made it very clear to the Galatians that it was nothing but wrong to suggest that circumcision (or other ceremonial laws) is a requirement for salvation. Paul was certainly not angry at the Galatians because they continued to teach the importance of avoiding murder, adultery, theft and lies, but about reverting back to the Law of Moses with the ceremonial laws. Being obedient to God by treating our neighbors as we would like to be treated ourselves, is not a sin and nothing to be mad about. If the Galatians were under the impression that circumcision still applied, then also the rest of the 613 still applied. If that is the case, Jesus Christ died in vain. We are saved by faith and not by the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was to apply until the seed would come which is Jesus, but this doesn’t mean that we have no sets of laws to follow today. We are expected to live according to the Spirit, and if we believe in Jesus Christ, we love him and obey him.

Gal. 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.—7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

”For as in Adam all die” concerns physical death and the RESURRECTION -1 Cor. 15:22

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1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The context of 1 Cor. 15:22 makes it clear that the subject is the RESURRECTION. If ALL die in Adam, then the very same ALL will be made alive in Christ. However, ALL people will naturally not be saved as in universalism, and that’s why some people prefer to read this verse as though it says ”As in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ SOME shall be made alive”. In reality we shouldn’t change the wordings in this verse but keep it just as it is – but instead understand it right. We die physically due to Adam because he brought the very first sin into this world which resulted in the severe consequence that we can’t reach the tree of life due to him. We are related to Adam, we choose to sin like him (but certainly not of necessity) and we are heading for physical death whether we want to or not – and that actually includes Jesus who is also related to Adam. Jesus has the power of the whole Universe, and we will all one day be resurrected and judged before his throne. All people will therefore have to go through physical death due to Adam, regardless of how they have lived their lives, and the same ALL people will have to go through the resurrection and stand before the judgment seat, regardless how they have lived their lives. Only those who have endured to the end, by living in the light of Jesus, will thereafter inherit the kingdom of God and live eternally with the Lamb. The verse says that we die due to Adam, but it certainly doesn’t say that we have inherited his sin or that we are born in sin. I still believe that all who can sin have chosen to sin – just like Adam. That’s why we die spiritually and physically.

Hebr. 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him

1 Corinthians concerns the resurrection of the BODY, and Paul gives particular details concerning the fate of the believers – because he wants to give them hope and confirmation about what is going to happen in the future.

1 Cor. 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

The resurrection applies to both good and evil. We shall ALL be resurrected, but the question is if it’s going to be to eternal life or eternal damnation.

2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The tree that could have sustained us – if we could reach it tree2We don’t have access to the tree of life, and that’s actually something to be pleased about now when Adam opened up the can of worms, because who would like to live eternally on this particular planet which is so much affected by decay and much pain?

Gen. 3:22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Rev. 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Rev. 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.—14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.—19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If Adam was created immortal, which means ”not subject to death”, there wouldn’t be a need for the tree of life because Adam would have been kept alive anyway – regardless of if he ate from this tree or not. Nevertheless, God created Adam with the idea and hope that he would never be disobedient. If Adam would have walked on the right path at all times, God would have made sure to always give him access to the tree of life and he would have been able to live forever. There wouldn’t be a need to die physically as long as the world is pure and like a paradise, and one day in the future we can experience a true paradise, as long as we make sure to remain children of God. Adam died spiritually when he sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit, and his cells started to go through an aging process. He died physically many years later, and all in all he lived 930 years.

Is. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;2 Wherein in time past ye WALKED according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Col. 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses

Rom. 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, FOR that all have sinned: Rom. 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

God says that he who sins shall die, and he refers to a spiritual death. It’s certain that we are all going to die physically whether we sin or not, so if God would have wanted to express that ALL people will die spiritually (or that they are born spiritually dead), he wouldn’t have to single out the sinners. Those who choose to sin will die (spiritually) but not the others, and not those who repent for their sins and continue to keep themselves spiritually clean. Note that the salvation hinges on our own righteousness and what we DO. Not as though we can earn salvation by anything we do (or believe), and not as though we don’t need to be cleansed for our previous sins by God (later on in the blood of Jesus), but the fact of the matter is still that our behavior shows if we are children of God or not.

Ez.18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in HIS righteousness that HE hath DONE he shall live.

Read more about Romans 5 here

If people were chosen to be non-elect, why did Paul CRY for them?

paulIf TULIP and the Westminster Confession of Faith is true, and the idea that God chose who to save before the foundation of the world (choosing individuals to be either elect and able to believe in him, or non-elect and unable to believe in him), then the apostle Paul’s huge concern (and crying) for unbelievers is a huge mystery.

WCF: ch. III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

WCF: ch. V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto lifeGod, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory

Why does Paul spend so much time praying and crying about the lost state of people’s souls, and why discussing and pleading with them – for hours at a time? Is it ”because God told him to, and because Paul doesn’t know who the elect individuals are”? But that doesn’t solve the puzzle.

  • God didn’t tell him to cry, did he? This seems to be something that Paul himself chose to do.
  • What would be the reason for shedding tears? Doesn’t God’s will always happen? Will the elect not end up in heaven as God has planned, and will the non-elect not end up in hell according to his plans? If all things turn out according to plans, WHY CRY? Why trying to interfere?
  • If the destination of all people is already settled (before the foundation of the world), why would Paul want to thwart God’s plans? Why trying to persuade non-elect to be elect? Is that even possible?
  • Why does Paul preach ”repent or perish”, as though he doesn’t know that the elect can’t perish, and the non-elect can’t repent?
  • The L in TULIP means ”Limited Atonement”, and that means that Jesus didn’t die for the non-elect, which means that they are not able to be saved and God doesn’t want them to be saved (or else he would arrange so that Jesus would have died for them too). Since it’s not possible to be saved without the blood of Jesus, why would Paul waste his time crying about people who God never intended to save in the first place? And why would he cry for the others – the elect? THEY ARE ALREADY SAVED! And they can never be lost.
  • If Paul instead would save all his tears and only spend 5 minutes a month to evangelize, WHAT WOULD BE THE BIG DIFFERENCE?
  • Why does Paul say: ”how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Doesn’t he know that no one needs any preachers or to hear about Jesus Christ, since everyone has been selected for heaven or hell before the foundation of the world?
  • If Paul desires more people than the elect to be saved, doesn’t this mean that Paul has a greater love for lost souls than God? Isn’t it also scary that many atheists would gladly give up their lives for the sake of their children, and that God wouldn’t do the same? Wouldn’t this indicate that many atheists have a greater love for people than God himself? ”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)
  • Why putting so much effort into something that is a lost course from the start? If God chose people to be non-elect, why not leave it at that?
  • Paul seems to have a huge desire to encourage non-elect to be elect, but he doesn’t have an equal desire to transform the elect into non-elect? Why even picking sides (one over the other) if God is the one who decides who to save and who to damn – not based on anything they have done? Isn’t God’s decision the wisest?
  • Why does Paul try to change the ”salvation ratio” that God has already decided upon? If God for instance has decided to save 30% of all people and damn 70%, why does Paul try to amend these numbers which were written in stone before the foundation of the world? Isn’t Paul pleased with the numbers that his Master so carefully has thought out?
  • Wouldn’t Paul’s tears be the same as criticism towards God – who apparently doesn’t want to save as many people as Paul does?

In Acts 20, we can read about Paul preaching for many hours at a time, despite that nothing would change if he only spent 5 minutes. In fact, he spoke for such a long time that one fellow (Eutychus) fell down from a window and died – but Paul prayed for him and he returned back to life. In the same chapter we can read about Paul shedding many tears while he was serving the Lord, and Paul preached repentance and the need for faith toward Jesus Christ – both to jews and gentiles.

Acts. 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and WITH MANY TEARS, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul continues to warn people, and ask them to take heed of themselves – as though things might not go according to God’s plans. He also tells them to take heed TO ALL THE FLOCK, which is the same as the church of God which Jesus has purchased with his blood. If the flock could never be lost, it wouldn’t make sense for Paul to warn people to take heed of the flock. Paul knows that not all of the flock of true christians will be spared, because he says that grievous wolves will enter in among them to draw away people, and there will also be false preachers among themselves. Since Paul knows how the devil works, and also how man works – how they ”after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers” (2 Tim. 4:3), he also knows that some christians will be walking away from God. Therefore we can read that ”BY THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS”. Paul seems to believe that his warnings and urgent prayers can make a huge difference and change the outcome of things! He doesn’t have the approach ”I know that what I do or say won’t change a thing since everything is already written in stone, but I suppose I will pray a few times anyway since God – for some unknown reason – told me to do it”.

Acts. 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that BY THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS  

2 Tim.4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Paul gave the Corinthians advice concerning a certain man who had sinned and been punished. Each time we read a warning and ”lest”, it means that the outcome depends on people’s actions. Paul knows that Satan might gain an advantage over us, unless we are obedient to God.

2 Cor. 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Paul has great concern about people who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and whose end is destruction! Why, if God has closed the door for them and refuses to open their eyes so that they can believe in him and walk in his ways? Maybe because their destination is NOT predestined, and maybe because TULIP is a false philosophy based on a gnostic foundation?

Phil. 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even WEEPING, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (NKJV)

Paul doesn’t make any sense at all in Romans 9 (if TULIP is true). Paul is talking about all jews (all of Israel), and he says he wishes that he was accursed and separated from God for their sake – if he could only see them saved. That’s a lot of unselfish love! Why, if God has already arranged the final destination for their souls, and has everything under control? Things couldn’t possibly go wrong, and Paul has no business showing so much love for people who are predestined for hell. Paul says that the right to be adopted as sons belongs to the Israelites (and not only to them), but this doesn’t mean they are automatically saved. Only those who have faith like Abraham, and who have a circumcised heart, will be saved.

Rom.9:1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (NASB)

Also many atheists would gladly give up their lives if they could only save their children (whether the children are good or bad), and our Lord wouldn’t do the same for the people of the world? Do atheists have a greater love for their children, than God has for the same children?

Jesus cried as well – doesn’t things go as planned?tears

It wouldn’t make sense for God to predestine things that made Jesus troubled. Jesus was affected by other people’s reactions, and thew news about his friend Lazarus.

John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

Prophets have been sent out to people by God throughout all ages, but these prophets have not always been treated nicely by others. Things don’t always turn out the way God wants, and that’s due to our free will.

Matt. 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and YE WOULD NOT!

Certain women wept when they saw Jesus carrying his cross. Jesus was of course not angry that they wept for him, but he advised them to rather weep for themselves and for future generations, because difficult days would be coming. All that counts is the salvation of people’s souls, and not temporary blessings here on earth.

Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

It’s good to know that the Lord will lift us up, under the condition that we humble ourselves before him. If we choose to draw nigh to him, he will draw nigh to us.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, we learn that even God himself has much sorrow for those who refuse to hear him

He weeps when he sees his own flock being carried away:

Jeremiah 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.—16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.17 But if ye will not hear it, MY SOUL SHALL WEEP in secret places for your pride; and MINE EYE SHALL WEEP SORE, AND RUN DOWN WITH TEARS, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.

Jeremiah 9:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.—5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord.7 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?8 Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.9 Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.—13 And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;14 But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Paul spent a lot of time reasoning, arguing and discussing with people

Day and night, month after month. For what reason? An hour each year would be enough, if God decided about our destinies before the foundation of the world.

Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.  17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

Acts. 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

Was Paul not yet morally perfect according to Phil. 3:12?

goalPhil. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already PERFECT: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 

The context for this verse is the RESURRECTION of our bodies, and that’s important to keep in mind. If we don’t understand that it’s about the resurrection, there is a risk we might misunderstand Paul and believe that he is talking about a moral perfection and that he has failed to live morally upright here on earth. Paul doesn’t talk about moral perfection but about a bodily perfection, because as long as we remain in our earthly bodies we must accept that we are not physically perfect but actually rather weak and fragile. Our goal is to one day enter the kingdom of God, and get new glorified bodies. Jesus asked us to be perfect (which you can read more about here), and naturally Paul wouldn’t argue against his Master.

Phil. 3:2 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 

Those who are the circumcision (of the heart) are those who worship God in spirit, and that is in contrast to those who obey their flesh. Only those who worship God in spirit will one day inherit the kingdom of God, so this is a condition for salvation.

Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS (”found blameless”, NASB). 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

The problem with the pharisees was that they were not clean on the inside but only on the outside, and Paul counted himself as a pharisee who was eager to obey God and his laws (as he understood them).  Even if Paul was a learned man with a good reputation, he feels that  such worldly glory isn’t worth anything in comparison to what he has found in Jesus Christ. We are told to not love the world or anything in it, but we are supposed to live our lives for Christ and his kingdom. Naturally Paul doesn’t suggest that it’s now less important to be faithful to God compared with before.

Phil. 3:8 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 may win Christ,9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Paul’s aim is to win Christ and be found in him, and that means that he has to move forward and leave the   Jewish ceremonial laws behind him and put his faith in Jesus Christ. The eternal life that Jesus offers is by faith   (evidenced by obedience from the heart) and one is not saved only because he is born a jew and circumcised. Paul says again, in Phil. 3:2, that those are circumcised who worship God in spirit, and who rejoice in him. If we have sinned (and we have), we are not able to be cleansed and righteous in ourselves but we rely on righteous blood shed for our sake. We can be righteous if we confess our sins and repent, because then we become cleansed from our sins in the precious blood of Jesus. Paul makes a difference between works of the law (the entire Torah with its 613 laws) and obedience to God.

Phil. 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Above is the direct context to v. 12. It’s about the resurrection of the dead, which is the goal for Paul, and when he writes to the Philippians he hasn’t reached this goal yet. Paul presses forward towards the prize, but he still calls himself PERFECT, and shows that he isn’t the only one being perfect.

Phil. 3:15 Let us therefore, AS MANY AS BE PERFECT, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Paul isn’t physically perfect, but he is morally and spiritually perfect.  He asks us to walk by the same rule, based on  perfection.

Phil. 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.(NASB)18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Paul – who calls himself holy, righteous and blameless  – asks others to follow his example. If he would be mixing good deeds with bad deeds (sin), he wouldn’t be a very good example for us, but he would be a big hypocrite and someone to stay away from.  Paul weeps about those who are not walking with him on the narrow path to God, and he calls them enemies of Christ. Their end is destruction! That’s because they have their mind on earthly things instead of focusing on God.

Phil. 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul continues to talk about the resurrection in heaven, and the new glorified bodies. He doesn’t say that he isn’t able to fight his flesh successfully unless he first gets a new glorified body. We don’t have to wait until we die before we can be faithful to God, but we can live holy lives here and now. Not even Jesus was ”perfected” until the third day in his resurrection, so it’s about the physical body.

Luke. 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Paul about himself:

1 Thess 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:—12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

1 Cor. 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)

Rom. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.–12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.—16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 

1 Cor. 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.