Bible students everywhere know about the miracles of Jesus Christ, and because these miracles are so marvellous and unrepeatable we memorialize them and can recall nearly all of them from memory. Ask any Bible student about Jesus' first miracle and that is just too easy. And what about Jesus' greatest miracle? Walking on water, or perhaps feeding the five thousand. Debatable, for we all have our favourite miracle. But probably the greatest miracle of them all is one few of us even think about, and it has to do with the Apostle Paul.
Jesus Christ assembled his disciples at the commencement of his ministry when he was about 30 years old. Out of his disciples he chose 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:1-4) whom he taught daily for about three and one half years until his crucifixion at Calvary. For about three and one half years these 12 Apostles were intensely tutored day and night until they knew all the doctrines of Heaven. Jesus taught them everything until their knowledge was both comprehensive and complete.
This teaching was important because the Church of Jesus Christ was to be built on the foundation of Jesus and the Apostles: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Ephesians 2:19-20)
Jesus Christ was five years old when the Apostle Paul was born and Paul was approximately 27 1/2 years old when Jesus was crucified.
There is no biblical evidence that Paul had any contact with Jesus during his earthly ministry. What we know is that Paul was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), born to a Jewish family in Tarsus, modern day Southern Turkey (Acts 21:39) and was thoroughly and highly educated in all aspects of Judaism by the scholar Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).
Paul knew nothing of Christian theology, had no contact with Christian scholars, never went to any Christian centre of learning or debated with others the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Paul was completely clueless as to what Jesus Christ taught but he had a passion for The Law and Judaism.
After Jesus' resurrection and ascension the Apostles became bold, and indeed fearless, and preached Christ openly, and assertively, and Jews were being converted regularly (Acts 2:47).
The Jewish Authorities saw Christianity as a challenge to Judaism and began a campaign of relentless persecution against Christians (Acts 8:1) and Paul (at the time still called Saul) became an aggressive leader of one such group (Acts 8:3)
It was at this juncture that something truly remarkable occurred. On his way to persecute the Christians at Damascus in the Roman Province of Syria, Jesus appeared to him, and he was converted. We do not know precisely what was said but Paul seemed to be under conviction (Acts 9:4-5) and without argument or fanfare accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord, "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 9:6)
Now here is the most amazing thing. When Paul was converted and led by the hand in a state of blindness to Damascus, which said town was overseen by the Arabian King Aretas, (2 Corinthians 11:32), he did not ask for nor did he see any of the Jerusalem leaders of the church. He did not contact Peter, who was the leader of the Church, he did not contact James, who was the head of the Jerusalem Church, and he did not contact any of the other Apostles. Here are his own words:
"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." (Galatians 1:15-17)
Paul went to see Peter three years after his conversion. This is something very special for Paul was preaching both in Arabia and mostly in Damascus for three years before he met any of the Apostles. And yet when he did meet them they accepted him as an Apostle and on equal footing with them; "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. ." (Galatians 1:18)
Think about this very carefully and see how awesome this truly is. The Apostle Paul was converted, had no contact with the other Apostles and yet preached the identical doctrines that Jesus Christ taught the 12 Apostles during his ministry of three and one half years.
Paul and the Apostles were preaching and teaching the identical doctrines of Jesus Christ to such an extent that when there arose a dispute in Damascus (Acts 1:15) and it led to a conference at Jerusalem, the conclusion and mandate from the council was, "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well." (Acts 15:29)
Paul and the Jerusalem Council were united on the doctrines of Jesus Christ and the things that the Council felt should be emphasised were not disputed by the Apostle Paul. So how come Paul was so magnificently clued up and be ready to defend all aspects of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ having never been taught them by human agency?
The answer is truly amazing and many people do not realize it.
The full Gospel was taught to Paul PERSONALLY by Jesus Christ.
No, not by some mental spark of spiritual enlightenment, nor by the Holy Spirit in his customary role as Revealer of truth (John 16:13) but by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)
That Jesus Christ personally taught Paul by personal revelation is summed up quite well by John Gill in his Bible Commentary on Galatians 1:12:
"...meaning, not through Christ being revealed to him by the Father, as in Galatians 1:16 though it is a sense not to be overlooked; but by Christ, the revealer of it to him; and regards either the time of his rapture into the third heaven, when he heard words not to be uttered; or rather since that is not so certain when it was, the time of his conversion, when Christ personally appeared unto him, and made him a minister of his Gospel; and immediately from himself, without the interposition, or use of any man, or means, gave him such light into it, and such a furniture of mind for the preaching of it, that he directly, as soon as ever he was baptized, set about the ministration of it, to the admiration of the saints, and confusion of the enemies of Christ."
It is truly marvellous how God is so very faithful to his word for the Bible tells us this with respect to Moses, "And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exodus 4:11-12)
Just as with Moses who was rather tongue-tied, and the Apostle Paul, who was not eloquent like Apollos (Acts 18:24) God is able to equip all those who are called and make them effective servants in his ministry. God calls the most unlikely people, often in ways that are mind-boggling to us and transforms them in ways that are delightful. So however you are called, remember that you need to be productive. We have no excuses and there is much to be done.
God is still doing great things and as believers we just have to think about this and marvel.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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