“How to Approach the Bible” 

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 4 of 24 – An Agreed Change between “The Twelve” Apostles & the Apostle Paul

Here below, in Galatians 2, we see an account wherein the Apostle Paul describes his second journey to see the Jerusalem church leaders, some fourteen years following his first visit to see Peter. He there told the twelve Apostles and elders about the good news of “that gospel,” which had been revealed and committed to him directly from the ascended Lord Jesus (Gal 1:12) and that he preached to the Gentiles.

“And I (Paul) went up by revelation and communicated unto them that gospel which I (Paul) preach among the gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain... (Gal. 2:2AMP)

Why would Paul refer to that gospel” which I preach among the Gentiles” unless Paul’s gospel was in some significant way different from the gospel that Peter and “the twelve” were preaching principally to and among the Circumcision (Gal 2:8)?

In that meeting, as noted here above (see also Acts 15); Peter, James, and John promised publicly to restrict or confine their ministry the Circumcision, while they loosed Paul to go to the Gentiles with his “gospel of the grace of God.” This is significant change in view of the fact that “the twelve,” not Paul, had originally been sent by Jesus into “all the world…unto all nations” (Matt24:14).

And when James, Cephas [Peter] and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen [Gentiles, nations], and they unto the Circumcision [Israel]” (Gal. 2:9 AMP).

So, upon recognizing Paul’s unique ministry and unique gospel message of grace for the Gentiles, Peter acted to “bind” or limit the preaching of “the gospel of the kingdom” that the Twelve had been given by Jesus for “the circumcision (Jews).” Peter used “the keys” he had been given by Jesus to “bind” their ministry on earth, and he “loosed” Paul to take his unique gospel message of pure grace to the Gentiles. This was according to the authority Jesus had given to Peter, as noted Matt 16:19.

A Question?

Since the Twelve had now limited there message of “the gospel of the kingdom” to Israel, were they now out of the will of God in making this decision? By no means. Subsequent revelation proves that they were all very much in the will of God. You see, with Israel’s rejection of Christ, God ushered in a new heretofore hidden program called “the dispensation of the grace of God,” which he revealed first to Paul, for us today.

Ephesians 3:1-2 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

In the light of these Scriptures it is difficult to understand how anyone could argue that Paul's ministry was merely a perpetuation of that of “the twelve,” or that “the gospel of the kingdom” and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) are the same gospel. They are two distinct gospel messages for two different peoples, having two different outcomes.

If the above passage teaches anything clearly, it teaches the unique character of Paul's apostleship and message. The Apostle devotes almost two chapters of his letter to the Galatians to the fact that he had not received his message from the twelve, but rather he communicated it to “the twelve as “that gospel which I preach.” Below Paul tells the Galatians how he received the gospel he preached.

Galatians 1:11-12 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In Gal 2:2 and 9 (above) Paul stresses the fact that “the Twelve” who had first been sent to all nations “beginning at Jerusalem,” had now, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, agreed to turn over their Gentile ministry to Paul that he might proclaim the gospel of the grace of God,” far and wide, as he later did.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Under Paul’s gospel teaching we see the grace of Christ’s cross is the basis of our justification, freely given.

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: