PAUL’S “GENTILE” MINISTRY DISPENSATION
The next and present dispensation of time would be using Saul (Paul) to take a new transition of the Gospel of Grace for salvation to the Gentiles. This is commonly called the Church Age! Paul in, Ephesians 3: 2-6: wrote these words from the King James Version, “…you have heard of the
DISPENSATION of the GRACE OF GOD which is given me to you: How that the revelation he made known to me the mystery…when you read you may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ; which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles, and prophets by the Spirit… (KJV) (This was a new revealed dispensation! More on this later.)
Also, in Colossians 1: 25, Paul again spoke of dispensation. (KJV) He said, “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me, to fulfill the word of God; the mystery which has been hid from all ages… but now is made manifest to his SAINTS.” Paul added words of the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles… Below is the story as to how Paul became a minister to the Gentiles.
In Acts 9, Saul, near Damascus, was blinded by Christ in order to see the Light! (No pun intended.) Saul armed with letters from Jerusalem was out to arrest any of those Jews who had believed Jesus was their Messiah. (The Way.) Remember, these Jews had left Jerusalem to escape Saul’s wrath after Stephen’s death. (Acts 8:1, and 9:1-2)
Once his blindness was healed Saul went to the Damascus synagogue to preach what? Paul preached that Jesus was the Promised One as did the disciples. (Acts 9: 19-22) Wait for the next change is to come! At this time, the mystery of Grace hadn’t been revealed to Saul.
Peter, around this time frame, visited a home of a Gentile, named Cornelius, against his will, and against Jewish law. This is proof Peter was still a law-
keeping Jew at this time. So, we can see Peter, at the time of this event, was still going only to the Jews. In Acts 10: 28, Peter even reminded Cornelius it was unlawful for a Jew to be with a Gentile.
However, Peter told the story about Jesus to these Gentiles. These Gentiles believed, and the Holy Spirit was received. In Acts 10: 45, scripture states Peter, and the accompanying Jews, were amazed the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit! Peter then baptized the Gentiles, as per custom. Have you seen the dispensational transition at this time? Remember, in early Acts the program was that the Jews had to belief Jesus was their Messiah by repenting of their unbelief, and being baptized. These Gentiles received the Holy Spirit through believing only! Baptism came about afterwards only because Peter knew he was to do it with the believing Jews!
Peter knew something new and unique was happening, but did not totally grasp it at this time. God had commanded Peter to go to Cornelius to show things were changing as Israel’s rejection continued. God would use this experience of Peter to aid Paul’s Gentile ministry at the Jerusalem Council of around 50 A.D., and twenty years after the cross.
Around this same time frame, Saul after being rejected by Jews in
Damascus went to Arabia for three years. (Galatians 1:17) This seems to imply was the time Paul was ministered to by the RISEN CHRIST! (Galatians 1:12) During this time Saul had his zealous Judaism removed, and learned of the Gospel of Grace for salvation, and the MYSTERIES!
(Remember, the apostles spent three years with Christ. I believe, Paul spent
three years with Christ to prepare him with the new dispensation, and to reveal God’s “mysteries”, so often found in his writings. It was time to reveal the secrets of God.) This gospel of salvation and GRACE can be found in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, Romans 10: 9-10, and elsewhere. (Interestingly, the disciples spent three years with Christ, and apparently, Paul spent three years with the Risen Christ. See Galatians 1: 16-18.)
Paul went to Gentile communities to preach the importance of BELIEVING IN FAITH. Paul told them of Jesus’ life; ministry; death on the cross; burial, and RESURRECTION after three days, and three nights in the tomb! THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION! or the GOSPEL OF GRACE! He
explained the importance of believing with complete faith this gospel of grace! A true believing of the gospel, he preached, would promise the Holy Spirit working within oneself! NO WORKS! No water baptism; no circumcision; no religious rituals or rites; no tithing; no animal sacrificing, no church memberships, and much more! True gospel believers have only liberty and freedom in GRACE! (Also, see Ephesians 2: 8-9 on works.)
Whereas, Peter’s ministry required the Nation of Israel to believe who Jesus was, and with Paul’s ministry anyone could find salvation on an individual basis. This would apply to either a Jew, or a Gentile, just through a true believing of the gospel! Did you note the differences? ……………. WOW!!!
NOTE: I believe it is important to mention how Paul would usually enter a community and go to the synagogue first to try to convince the Jews of Jesus. He would then go to Gentiles. The vast majority of Jews would not believe.
To summarize The Dispensations
- The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached during Jesus’ ministry. The
Jews, and Israel, had to believe Jesus was their PROMISED ONE!
- The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached by the disciples after Jesus’ ascension and their gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Jews were required to repent of their unbelief, and crucifying their Promised One. They were to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and receive the Holy Spirit. (All of the House of Israel needed to adhere to this.)
- The Gospel of Grace was preached by Paul to, primarily, Gentiles on an individual basis. They were to believe with faith the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Spirit. (However, at least, Peter gave Paul’s message credence for the wisdom in Paul’s writings towards the end of Peter’s life. More on this later.)
IMPORTANT DETAILS OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
James, wrote the Book of James during this time of transitions. His writings were directed to the Jewish believers of Christ (James 1:1) who had been
dispersed after Stephen’s murder. Note the language James used: THE TWELVE TRIBES OF THE DISPERSION. These Jews, although believers in Christ, were still law-keeping Jews! This is important to remember! (Don’t try to read anything other than what James wrote. This letter was written to believers of the twelve tribes of Israel still practicing law!)
Much of James writings include words of works or law-keeping. For instance, James wrote: Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point becomes guilty of them all! (James 2: 10) At the time of this writing this was the dispensation program in place for the Jews. There are no discrepancies at all! James was writing in regards to the Gospel of the Kingdom! His attempts were based on having Israel repent, believe who Jesus was, and be baptized. Israel was a law-keeping nation. The Jewish believers of Jesus were law keepers at this time.
IMPORTANT DETAILS OF THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
The Jerusalem Council of around 50 A.D. easily shows the middle of the forty year dispensational times between the apostles, and Paul. This event happened about twenty years after the cross. This conference is recorded in Acts 15, and Galatians 2. (Paul’s account is found in the Galatians writing.)
Paul met with the disciples, elders, and believing Pharisees, over his gospel message to the Gentiles. The apostles wanted Jewish law preached unto the Gentiles. The meeting was heated at times, until Peter, remembering his experience with Cornelius; (Acts 10) stood to speak. He spoke of the bondage (Law) upon them. The decision, and take note, was
Paul would be entrusted to go to the Gentiles, and the disciples
would still be entrusted to the Jews! (Galatians 2: 7-9) They even shook hands on the decision! One can easily see the disciples, some twenty years after the cross, were still law keeping Jews, too.
IMPORTANT DETAILS OF THE TWO BOOKS OF PETER
Peter wrote two books of our Bible. They are 1 Peter, and 2 Peter. These
two books were written towards the end of Peter’s life. Also, the writings were completed as Israel, and the Jews, and the Jewish, Jesus believers were witnessing very troubled times. Israel’s destruction would be occurring in a
few years. Peter thought the tribulation was about to occur.
These two books were written to those Jews who had become believers as to who Jesus was, and were exiled. They ran because of their belief after Stephen’s murder. Proof of this fact is found in 1 Peter 1, where Peter stated his letter is to the exiles of the Dispersion. Peter reminded the readers, in
2 Peter 3: 1, the fact of this letter being his second one to those exiled Jewish
believers. Peter’s words are different than his early Acts sermons. Some things to consider: Peter, as his life is winding down, has realized the Nation of Israel was NOT going to believe his ministry, and repent of their unbelief. Troubled times were already happening, and would continue until Rome finally destroyed Israel out of existence as a nation. Peter wrote much on preparing these people for the bad times ahead leading to the coming of Christ. I believe Peter was seeing the current troubles, of this time, as a forerunner to Daniel’s 70th week. Remember, in Acts 3: 19, Peter spoke of the time of refreshing, and Jesus being sent back to earth. Peter is, hoping, he could still witness Christ’s coming. Remember, Jesus told the disciples they would rule over the twelve tribes of Israel at his coming. They would set on the thrones judging Israel! (This is found in Matthew 19: 27-28.)
Peter, by this time, is also writing with words of faith, and of believing Paul’s ministry. He stated in 2 Peter 3: 14-18, about Paul writing to these believing Jews with wisdom, as he (Paul) did in all his epistles. What was Paul’s wisdom? The message was to believe the gospel, with faith. That gospel is believing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4.) Peter, also, mentioned the fact of Paul’s message being hard to understand. (I believe Peter as a law-keeping Jew, was still was having difficulties in faith alone without works as Paul preached in his dispensation. Could the letter to those exiled Jewish believers be the book of Hebrews written by Paul?) Peter wrote of Grace, and faith in words very similar to Paul’s letters. I can sense the difficulties with Peter’s words at this time. He knew his life was about done, and he didn’t see Israel repent of the unbelief, and believe. Peter was seeing the troubled times all around.
Understanding how these dispensations worked in the forty year of transitions will greatly aid to grasping Biblical truths. The separation between the Jewish kingdom dispensations compared to the present-day dispensation of grace is markedly different. God used separation between the Jews, and Gentiles throughout Biblical history. That separation was intended by the Lord.