The Apostle Paul is God’s Authority for the Body of Christ Today

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 10 of 24 –

Scripture proclaims Paul as the one authority that God has provided for the Gentiles; to guide “the body of Christ” to the truth for the people of God during “the dispensation of the grace of God" (Eph 3:1-2).

Romans 11:13 For I (Paul) speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle (apostolos, sent one) of the Gentiles, I magnify (doxazo, esteem glorious) mine office:

Here above Paul says he is not just one of the apostles to the Gentiles but rather Paul claims to be the apostle of the Gentiles” saying also, “I magnify mine office.” In writing this Paul is not exalting himself; rather, he is acknowledging the importance of his divinely appointed office and calling, and his ministry of the glorious gospel message of the pure grace of God. That message was given to him directly from the ascended Christ Gal 1:12, for the Gentiles (Eph 3:1-2). Paul repeatedly claims his apostleship in all these verses - Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1, 9:1-2, 15:9; 2 Corinthians. 1:1, 12:12; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians. 1:1; 1 Timothy. 1:1; 1, 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1, 1:11; Titus 1:1.

2Tim. 1:11 I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

1 Tim. 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (truth).


Paul repeatedly calls the message that he received “my gospel.” Many Bible readers rebel against this seeming arrogance. Yet, I might ask, it is true? Wasn’t Paul given this gospel message for the body of Christ, according to the Biblical record? If one considers this a problem then I might ask, why not also question the fact that God gave “the LAW” message to Moses for its delivery to Israel ? That Law message is actually referred to as “the Law of Moses” in 22 verses of the Bible. Note Moses claims of his ministry in these verses; they sound somewhat like Paul’s claims.

Deut. 4:1-2hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I (Moses) teach you,2Ye shall not add unto the word which I (Moses) command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I (Moses) command you.

1 Corinthians 14:37 (KJV) If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I (Paul) write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Was this self-importance or self-exaltation on the part of Moses? Was Israel following a man when they obeyed Moses? No, this was Moses’ calling, just as Paul was also called to a unique ministry! Jesus acknowledged Moses authority as being yet in effect when He was on earth and gave this instruction when healed a Jew.

Mark 1:44 … go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. To another Jesus said,

Matthew 8:4 …See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Speaking to Ananias, the ascended and glorified Jesus now also proclaimed Paul’s unique calling. Acts 9:15 (KJV) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul/Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel : Paul’s calling includes something astoundingly new. He was to bear the name of Christ to the Gentiles. From the call of Moses until the day of Paul’s calling, the Gentiles were stranger, outsiders, having no relationship with God. They were “without hope and with God in the world” (Eph 2:12). A major change had arrived. The dispensation was now about to change from the Law exclusively toward Israel to…grace for all on an equal basis (Gal 3:28).

Moses was simply the man, the vessel, who God used to authoritatively deliver the LAW to Israel ; it was for Israel alone. So it is with Paul, our Apostle. Paul brought to “the church, which is His (Christ’s) body” the message of pure grace for this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:1-4).

These verses note the authority that God gave to Paul.

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. 1 Cor. 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Similar to Moses claims, Paul says we should follow him, as He follows Christ. 1 Cor. 11:1 Be ye followers of me (Paul), even as I also am of Christ. How did Paul follow Christ? He followed the indwelling Christ that was revealed to him (Gal 1:16), and Paul commends the members of “the body of Christ” to also follow or walk in accord with the indwelling “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 2:6 (KJV) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: We’ve each received “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom 8:9) into us and we are to now walk in accord with Him. Galatians 5:16 (KJV) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

In Paul’s epistles he sets forth his appointed position as the deliverer of the “grace” gospel to the Gentiles. John 1:17 declares “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” In Corinthians 3:10 Paul says he is the one who laid the foundation” of God's "building." That "building" is "the body of Christ," God's living temple "made without hands," which Paul calls "the church, which is His body" (Eph 1:22b-23a).

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me (Paul), as a wise masterbuilder, I (Paul) have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

Ephes. 3:1-3 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation (oikonomia, administration of God’s household economy) of the grace of God which is given me to youward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (musterion, God’s secret gospel, see Col 1:27)

Paul here makes the clear comparison between his gospel ministry to the predominantly Gentile “body of Christ,” which Paul calls “the uncircumcision,” and that of Peter to “the circumcision,” the nation Israel .

Galatians 2:7-9 (KJV) But contrariwise, (on the contrary) when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me (Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (Gk. ethnos, ethnic nations, the Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision.

Having seen that there were two different men with two different gospels for two different people groups, now we need to note the two different commissions. Much is written of the “great commission,” which our Lord gave to His Jewish Apostles just before His ascension. This “great commission” does not say one word about “the preaching of the cross” or “the gospel of the grace of God.” The “gospel” they were sent to preach was same “gospel” they had been preaching - the Gospel of the Kingdom - only they could now declare, as Peter did at Pentecost, that the King had risen from the dead and would still some day occupy the throne of David.

The “great commission” demanded faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15, 16); it included the power to heal the sick and work miracles (16:17, 18), but it did not include the message that “Christ died for our sins” (ICor.15:1-3). When Peter at Pentecost began to carry out this commission, he blamed his hearers for killing Christ. When they were convicted of their sins, they asked Peter; “What shall we do?” Peter did not say “Believe on Christ who died for your sins.” Peter commanded them to “repent and be baptized every one...for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Peter did not yet know the meaning of the cross as it had not yet been revealed, as it would first come through Paul, who was not yet converted. Compare this to Paul’s gospel wherein he says simply “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved (Acts 16:31). Repentance and baptism are now excluded as requirements for salvation. “Faith” alone is the one requirement (Eph 2:8-9).

After Christ and His Kingdom were again rejected, God interrupted the prophetic program and sent Paul to proclaim “the preaching of the cross” and “the gospel of the grace of God”. In 2Corinthians 5:14-21 Paul proclaims “the love of Christ” who “died for all” and instructs us in thenew great commission.” “And all things are of (provided by) God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself... and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (11Cor.5:18, 19). Today, the ministry for “the body of Christ” is “the ministry of reconciliation” under these new terms of salvation that we learn from Paul’s epistles.