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).
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
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.
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
…hearken, 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.
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
… 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,
…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
Moses was simply the man,
the vessel, who God used to authoritatively deliver the LAW to
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
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"
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.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
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
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 the “new 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.