The Apostle Paul was born a Roman citizen in the town of Tarsus. His birth name was Saul, but Christ changed it upon his conversion. Paul wrote more books of the New Testament than any one else. He is believed to have died around 68 A.D.
Saul was a zealous Jew from the party of the Pharisees, and he originally encouraged the persecution of Christians. He wrote more books of the New Testament than anyone else--and most of them were written from or to Asia Minor (though he obviously visited Greece, Jerusalem, and Rome).
No article can tell enough about Paul, but after an introduction, this one will attempt to focus on clearing up misconceptions about him, his practices,and his writings on the ten commandments.
Here is a link to a related sermon: Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles.
The Book of Acts says a lot about Paul.
Originally, his name was Saul. The first reference to him has him approving of the stoning of the deacon Stephen in Acts 7:
7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. (Acts 7:57-8:3, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).
Saul was zealous. He thought he was doing God's will and kept those persecutions up. But God had a different plan:
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"
Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"
Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias."
And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."
13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:1-16)
Notice that Ananias had heard of Saul and judged him to be one to avoid, but God had other plans. And that plan included allowing Saul to originally be a persecutor so that he would be better deal with suffering and persecutions that would come his way.
Despite concerns for his own safety, Ananias obeyed God:
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:17-22)
Saul was called Paul:
9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul (Acts 13:9).
And that name stuck as he is not called Saul any later in the Bible (though he later mentions the name 'Saul' related to what Jesus said in Acts 9 as does Ananias).
The name Saul seems to descend from a Hebrew word meaning "demand" (OT:7592 Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.). Some claim the word Saul means "asked from."
Paul is a Latinized name mainly meaning restrain or desist (NT:3973 Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.).
Before going further, consider that Saul was a persecutor and murderer of Christans--yet God forgave him and was able to use him. Paul, then did not commit what is called the "unpardonable sin" (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?). It is not likely that you personally have sinned worse than the Apostle Paul--God may be able to use you in ways you have not considered if you will humble yourself and submit to Him and HIS will, not your own.
Getting back to Paul, he wrote 13-14 books of the 27 books of the New Testament (there is controversy surrounding the Book of Hebrews, but some tradition ascribes it to him). Hence, he wrote about half of the books of the New Testament.
It may also be of interest to note that the Apostle Paul referred to pagan prophetic and other sources sometimes (Acts 17:22-30):
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:22-30)
Paul did this in an effort to better reach people of various backgrounds:
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Paul claimed that he tried different cultural approaches (including referring to improper religious beliefs, Acts 19:22-31) to try to reach who he could (cf.1 Corinthians 9:19-22), and that he did that "for the gospel's sake" (1 Corinthians 9:23).
Various Jews could not stand him and Paul was called a ringleader by an orator hired by the Jews:
5 For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5).
Though his critics called him a Nazarene, he was not the only one. Early Christians were called Nazarenes frequently (see also Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).
Let's now look at some comments from the Apostle Peter that include pointing to Paul:
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:14-18)
Notice that Peter wanted Christians to be without spot or blemish, yet he said that various ones twisted the Apostle Paul's writings like they did other scriptures for their own destruction. Peter warned about being led away by the error of the wicked. In Ephesians 6:16, there is a reference, written by the Apostle Paul, to Satan as being the "wicked one." Satan was wicked because he not only did not keep God's law, he was the father of lies (John 8:42-47).
Paul did NOT do away the God's laws, though many want to twist his words to mean that (see also the article Comments on Galatians).
Also notice that Peter called Paul's writings scripture. Therefore, Peter understood that they were part of the New Testament (see also the article The New Testament Canon - From the Bible and History).
Although the Apostle Paul was a minister (Romans 15:16) & apostle (Galatians 1:1) and entitled to financial support (1 Corinthians 1:19), he sometimes prophesied (1 Corinthians 13:9) and sometimes did outside work to help support himself:
1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:1-4)
32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:32-35).
And Paul was entitled to that support:
3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:3-12)
But because of trying to better reach others, he proved he was not in the ministry for the money, but worked himself (e.g. Acts 18:2-4, 20:32-35).
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
Paul also taught, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"" (Galatians 5:14).
He demonstrated both in many ways.
In addition to being a living sacrifice when it came to taking a salary, Paul taught about love. Here is something that has been called the "love chapter" of the Bible:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17)
14 Pursue love, ... (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Love is important.
Some think that if they have what appear to be spiritual powers that is what is important. Not only did Paul discount that, notice what Jesus said:
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23)
As far as love and God's laws go, Paul wrote:
9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:9-10)
The law of love is NOT fulfilled when you violate the Ten Commandments. Violating them does NOT show love towards God or neighbor.
Love is important and includes keeping God's commandments (see also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast).
Let's look at some of what he taught in Acts 13:
16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: ...
36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
41 'Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'"? (Acts 13:16, 36-41)
This also has happened in the 21st century. People are so stuck in traditions and their own understanding, including most in the Church of God, that they will not believe. Furthermore, they despise our success in the CCOG of reaching Gentiles in places like Africa (CCOGAFRICA.ORG).
Getting back to Acts 13:
42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:
'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth."
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:42-52)
Paul also reached other Gentiles:
25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. 27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples. (Acts 14:25-28)
Acts 15:25: Perga,.... A city in Pamphylia [Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible] [Pamphylia was in south Asia Minor]
[Acts 14:25 Attaleia - the sea-port, on the Gulf of Pamphylia, which drew to itself the commerce both of Egypt and Syria.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)]
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."
12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. (Acts 15:1-14)
18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. (Acts 21:1-19)
Notice some of what Paul wrote:
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. (Romans 1:13-15)
29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. (Romans 3:29-31)
24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ' You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God. (Romans 9:24-26)
33 As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. (Romans 9:33)
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
"For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name."
10 And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!"
11 And again: "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!"
12 And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope."
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient — (Romans 15:7-18)
Paul reached Gentiles and taught them to be obedient.
8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia (which covered western Asia Minor). Were they Gentiles?
Paul wrote that they were:
11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13)
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles — 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:1-12)
Notice also that Paul wrote:
7 ... I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:7)
11 I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (2 Timothy 1:11)
17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. (2 Timothy 4:17)
Paul preached, not just as a witness, but so ones, who could, would hear.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13)
Troas was the principal city of northwest Asia Minor. It and Macedonia were (and still are) Gentile areas.
The late Herbert W. Armstrong understood that the door was opened to proclaim the gospel:
The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ's Second Coming was to prepare the way--prepare the Church--for Christ's coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church.
Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come' (Mystery of the Ages, pp. 290-291).
Gentiles are supposed to be called. Philadelphians need to go through the open doors to proclaim the The Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Herbert Armstrong died decades ago (on January 16, 1981), so this work still needs to be done.
Notice Paul explained that as part of God's plan:
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:8-9)
Interestingly, Paul is partially pointing out that Abraham a Gentile--which he was as he was not a descendant of Israel, since Jacob/Israel (Genesis 32:28) was his grandson (Genesis 25:19-26). But notice that God's plan for Gentiles was to include a 'fullness' being saved in this age:
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! (Romans 11:11-12)
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
Romans 11:25: Romans 11:12, the analogous expression τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν was used in the sense of “their full number." ... The expression τὸ πλήρωμα τ. ἐθνῶν is therefore to be taken numerically: the plena copia of the Gentiles (of whom in the first instance only a fraction has come and is coming in), their full number. (Meyers NT Commentary).
Romans 11:25: the fulness of the Gentiles] Cp. note on “fulness” in Romans 11:12. The word here plainly means the full destined number of the Gentile Church, with the underlying idea of the greatness of that number. (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).
The Greek word, translated by the NKJV as "fullness," pleérooma (πλήρωμα) is the same in both Romans 11:12 & 25. While reaching the end time descendants of Israel is important, notice that the end does not come until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Paul also uses in places like Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10 where the "fullness of times" is mentioned and in Ephesians 3:19 discussing the "fullness of God" and Ephesians 4:13 related to the "fullness of Christ." It does not have to, thus, be discussing a number, but does seem to be precise. There is something precise about the calling of Gentiles.
This was sometimes taught, though not necessarily fully understood in its entirety, by the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God:
Isaiah 11 tells us of the Millennium. The Gentiles are going to seek God (verse 10) and Israel and Judah are going to be gathered THE SECOND TIME from the heathen nations (verse 11). This could not be speaking of any "spiritual Israel." The last verses in this chapter speak of men crossing rivers and highways as they leave the Gentile nations and return the second time to the land of promise.
This is the time spoken of by Paul. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins" (Romans 11:25-27).
Here is GOOD NEWS! Here is part of the gospel message. Blindness is happened to Israel, not forever, but until the full number of Gentiles who are to be converted in this age comes into the Kingdom. (Hoeh H. The Coming UTOPIA... Wonderful World of Tomorrow. Plain Truth, March 1957)
Paul calls this a "mystery" — "that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved..." "" (verses 25, 26). What Paul is saying is simply this: God has determined to call and choose only a limited number from Israel in this age. He is not trying to save all Israel now! He therefore calls those Israelites whom He wills, but allows the rest to remain blinded so that He can call a number of Gentiles to fulfill His purpose. (McNair R. The Second Resurrection: Part IV. Good News, April 1974)
"Blindness in part is happened to Israel [HOW LONG? Forever? No — note it], UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" — the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15:14). (And so, says Romans 11:26, "all Israel SHALL BE SAVED [how?]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob."
The Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is coming again! When He comes, the gentile times will be over — the BLINDNESS will be removed from the Israelites – and their opportunity — their FIRST chance — of salvation will then come to those whom God had blinded! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Good News, September 1981)
Look now at Jesus' words in Matthew 24:14:
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Matthew 24:14 has NOT yet been fulfilled in its entirety. And if you look at places like Africa, where we in the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) have had the most growth, you will realize that Gentiles are being called to come in (see also CCOGAFRICA.ORG).
Matthew 24:14, then, is not JUST a witness, but will bring fruits, including those who are not physically Israelites! We in CCOG are pointing out this truth and relatively few have understood since the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 11:25. It was not directly connected by the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God to Matthew 24:14 in any literature I could find.
But based on the Bible, as well as what the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God taught about Romans 11:25, what we in CCOG are teaching is consistent with both.
Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Ageand in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences. (Paul the Apostle, WIkipedia, accessed 03/27/18).
The Catholic Encyclopedia has the following overview about the Apostle Paul:
We read in the Acts of the Apostles three accounts of the conversion of St. Paul (9:1-19; 22:3-21; 26:9-23) presenting some slight differences, which it is not difficult to harmonize and which do not affect the basis of the narrative, which is perfectly identical in substance. See J. Massie, "The Conversion of St. Paul" in "The Expositor", 3rd series, X, 1889, 241-62. Sabatier agreeing with most independent critics, has well said (L'Apotre Paul, 1896, 42): these differences cannot in any way alter the reality of the fact; their bearing on the narrative is extremely remote; they do not deal even with the circumstances accompanying the miracle but with the subjective impressions which the companions of St. Paul received of the circumstances. . . . To base a denial of the historical character of the account upon the differences would seem therefore a violent and arbitrary proceeding." All efforts hitherto made to explain without a miracle the apparition of Jesus to Paul have failed. Naturalistic explanations are reduced to two: either Paul believed that he really saw Christ, but was the victim of an hallucination, or he believed that he saw Him only through a spiritual vision, which tradition, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, later erroneously materialized. Renan explained everything by hallucination due to disease brought on by a combination of moral causes such as doubt, remorse, fear, and of physical causes such as ophthalmia, fatigue, fever, the sudden transition from the torrid desert to the fresh gardens of Damascus, perhaps a sudden storm accompanied by lightning and thunder. All this combined, according to Renan's theory, to produce a cerebral commotion, a passing delirium which Paul took in good faith for an apparition of the risen Christ...
After his conversion, his baptism, and his miraculous cure Paul set about preaching to the Jews (Acts 9:19-20). He afterwards withdrew to Arabia -- probably to the region south of Damascus (Galatians 1:17), doubtless less to preach than to meditate on the Scriptures. On his return to Damascus the intrigues of the Jews forced him to flee by night (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). He went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Galatians 1:18), but remained only fifteen days, for the snares of the Greeks threatened his life. He then left for Tarsus and is lost to sight for five or six years (Acts 9:29-30; Galatians 1:21). Barnabas went in search of him and brought him to Antioch where for a year they worked together and their apostolate was most fruitful (Acts 11:25-26). Together also they were sent to Jerusalem to carry alms to the brethren on the occasion of the famine predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:27-30). They do not seem to have found the Apostles there; they had been scattered by the persecution of Herod.
This period of twelve years (45-57) was the most active and fruitful of his life. It comprises three great Apostolic expeditions of which Antioch was in each instance the starting-point and which invariably ended in a visit to Jerusalem ... Paul, doubtless concluding that Cyprus, the natural dependency of Syria and Cilicia, would embrace the faith of Christ when these two countries should be Christian, chose Asia Minor as the field of his apostolate ...
Three more remarkable facts should be noted in passing. At Troas Paul resuscitated the young Eutychus, who had fallen from a third-story window while Paul was preaching late into the night. At Miletus he pronounced before the ancients of Ephesus the touching farewell discourse which drew many tears (Acts 20:18-38). At Caesarea the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Agabus, predicted his coming arrest, but did not dissuade him from going to Jerusalem.
St. Paul's four great Epistles were written during this third mission: the first to the Corinthians from Ephesus, about the time of the Pasch prior to his departure from that city; the second to the Corinthians from Macedonia, during the summer or autumn of the same year; that to the Romans from Corinth, in the following spring; the date of the Epistle to the Galatians is disputed.
The itinerary now becomes very uncertain, but the following facts seem indicated by the Pastorals: Paul remained in Crete exactly long enough to found there new churches, the care and organization of which he confided to his fellow-worker Titus (Titus 1:5). He then went to Ephesus, and besought Timothy, who was already there, to remain until his return while he proceeded to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). On this occasion he paid his promised visit to the Philippians (Philippians 2:24), and naturally also saw the Thessalonians salonians. The letter to Titus and the First Epistle to Timothy must date from this period; they seem to have been written about the same time and shortly after the departure from Ephesus. The question is whether they were sent from Macedonia or, which seems more probable, from Corinth. The Apostle instructs Titus to join him at Nicopolis of Epirus where he intends to spend the winter (Titus 3:12). In the following spring he must have carried out his plan to return to Asia (1 Timothy 3:14-15). Here occurred the obscure episode of his arrest, which probably took place at Troas; this would explain his having left with Carpus a cloak and books which he needed (2 Timothy 4:13). He was taken from there to Ephesus, capital of the Province of Asia, where he was deserted by all those on whom he thought he could rely (2 Timothy 1:15). Being sent to Rome for trial he left Trophimus sick at Miletus, and Erastus, another of his companions, remained at Corinth, for what reason is not clear (2 Timothy 4:20). When Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy from Rome he felt that all human hope was lost (4:6); he begs his disciple to rejoin him as quickly as possible, for he is alone with Luke. We do not know if Timothy was able to reach Rome before the death of the Apostle (Prat F. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. St. Paul. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).
Most people familiar with the Bible understand that Jesus taught and observed all of the ten commandments (for the actual scriptures please see the article Jesus and the Ten Commandments). Some, though, try to ignore Jesus' teachings on the ten commandments by saying that Paul said they were "nailed to the cross." Is that what the Bible teaches? This section will quote what Paul actually taught about the ten commandments (his words will be in green as they have been elsewhere in this article).
There is only one only scripture that uses the "nailed it to the cross" expression (AV/NKJ), it is Colossians 2:13-14, in which Paul states, "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross". Were the ten commandments the "requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us"? Let us examine the scriptures to see.
Commandment 1: Paul said, "God, who made the world and everything in it...they should seek the Lord" (Acts 17:24,27). Paul also said, "I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law" (Acts 24:14). "But then indeed, when you did not know God, you served those things which by nature are not God" (Galatians 4:8). "And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?" (II Corinthians 6:16). "you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thessalonians 1:9). "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Commandment 2: "we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols" (Acts 15:20). "Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols...Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said...'God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything'" (Acts 17:16,22,24-25). "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four footed animals and creeping things" (Romans 1:22-23). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is...an idolater" (I Corinthians 5:11). "Neither... idolators...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "And do not become idolaters as were some of them...Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (I Corinthians 10:7,14). "And what agreement has the temple of God have with idols?" (II Corinthians 6:16). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...idolatry" (Galatians 5:19,20). "For this you know that no...idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "Therefore put to death...covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). "you turned to God from idols" (I Thessalonians 1:9).
Commandment 3: "they are all under sin...Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:9,14). "You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written" (Romans 2:23-24). "Let all...evil speaking be put away from you" (Ephesians 4:31). "But now you yourselves are to put off all these:...blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth" (Colossians 3:8). "they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20). But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...blasphemers" (2 Timothy 3:1,2).
Commandment 4: "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures...And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 17:2;18:4 see also 13:14,27,42,44). "let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28) and "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: 'If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat'" (II Thessalonians 3:10); (recall that the requirement to work is also part of the Sabbath command, thus even that portion of the commandment is repeated in the New Testament.) "And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?" (Hebrews 3:18). "For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'" (Hebrews 4:4). "There remains therefore a rest (literally sabbatismos, 'Sabbath rest') for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:9-10). (Note: While some theologians do not believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews, Paul most certainly did not write against it.)
Commandment 5: "being filled with all unrighteousness...disobedient to parents" (Romans 1:29,30). "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother', which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1-3). "the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:6). "Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...disobedient to parents" (II Timothy 3:1,2).
Commandment 6: "being filled with all unrighteousness...murder" (Romans 1:29). "You shall not murder" (Romans 13:9). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...murders" (Galatians 5:19,21). "the lawless and insubordinate...murders...manslayers" (I Timothy 1:9).
Commandment 7: "being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality" (Romans 1:29). "So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress" (Romans 7:3). "You shall not commit adultery" (Romans 13:9). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral" (I Corinthians 5:11). "Neither... adulterers, nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body
"Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18). "Nor let us commit sexual immorality as some of them did" (I Corinthians 10:8). "Now the works of the flesh are evident...adultery, fornication" (Galatians 5:19). "For this you know that no fornicator...has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "the lawless and insubordinate...fornicators...sodomites" (I Timothy 1:9,10). "fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).
Commandment 8: "You shall not steal" (Romans 13:9). "nor thieves...will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:10). "I have been...in perils of robbers" (II Corinthians 11:25-26). "Let him who stole, steal no longer" (Ephesians 4:28).
Commandment 9: "You shall not bear false witness" (Romans 13:9). 'I do not lie" (Galatians 1:19). "Therefore, putting away lying, 'Let each of you speak truth with his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25). "Do not lie to one another" (Colossians 3:9). "the lawless and insubordinate ... liars ... perjurers" (1 Timothy 1:9,10). "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy" (1 Timothy 4:1-2). "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be...slanderers" (2 Timothy 3:1,3). "God, who cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). "it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).
Commandment 10: "being filled with all unrighteousness...covetousness" (Romans 1:29)."You shall not covet" (Romans 7:7). "You shall not covet" (Romans 13:9). "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is...covetous" (I Corinthians 5:11). "nor covetous...will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:10). "we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted" (I Corinthians 10:6). "you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). "For this you know that no fornicator...nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5). "Therefore put to death...covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). "For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness" (1 Thessalonians 2:5). "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5).
Notice that Paul clearly warns about not keeping each of the ten commandments. He also believed that they showed love, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."" (Galatians 5:14). The law is about love (see also The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil).
While various ones consider that the purpose of the commandments was to be a burden, they seem not to understand that the Apostle Paul wrote "The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5). Christians are to be those expressing love from a pure heart with sincere faith. Christians are to keep the ten commandments.
Early Christians kept the Ten Commandments and in the end times, the Beast-Antichrist power will not (see The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast).
John, the last of the original apostles to die wrote, "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14). Since "those who do His commandments...have the right to enter...the city" (Revelation 22:14), the ten commandments could not be "contrary to us".
So then, if the ten commandments were not "nailed to the cross," what was?
What does the Bible say?
Paul wrote, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).
It was the handwriting of requirements.
Which requirements were wiped out?
It appears that two things were wiped out. One would be the requirements of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 9:1,6-10).
And why? "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins...By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all" (Hebrews 10:4,10). The other (which is related) would be the death penalty, as "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). It is of interest to note that the expression "the handwriting of requirements" is a Greek legal term that signifies the penalty which a lawbreaker had to pay--through Jesus the penalty was wiped out ("the handwriting of requirements"), not the law! "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them" (Hebrews 10:16).
Some will argue that you still cannot keep the ten commandments (for "all have sinned"), even if they are all mentioned as being in effect after Jesus' execution. Does this mean one should not try? The ten commandments are to be kept since Paul taught that Christians should still keep every one of them (as did the other New Testament writers, for those scriptures, please see the article Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross?). Furthermore consider that since the Apostle Paul wrote, "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) this shows that the New Testament is clear that law has not been done away--and the Apostle Paul realized this.
Contrary to the assertions of many, Paul was not one who did away with biblical practices such as the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
Actually, near the end of his life he declared he kept the customs of his people:
17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation (Acts 28:17-19).
Which means he kept the Sabbath, Holy Days, and the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments were alreay discussed, so let's look at the Sabbath.
Notice something else from the New Testament, that many believe that the Apostle Paul personally wrote:
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).
Acts 13 shows what Paul did:
13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (Acts 13:13-15)
... the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. (Acts 13:42-44)
Also Acts 18:4 states,
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Hence the New Testament is clear that Paul kept the Sabbath, regularly preached on the Sabbath, and that he wrote that there remains "a Sabbath-rest for the people of God."
The Sabbath was clearly part of Paul's pattern of behavior.
Notice something that the Apostle Paul wrote:
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Philippians 3:17)
Hopefully, that following Paul's example includes you (for the practice of the early church, please see The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad).
Now some have been misled by what seems to be an intentional mistranslation of one of Paul's writings, Colossians 2:16 to do away with the Sabbath--but when properly translated it endorses, and does not condemn Sabbath observances (this is explained in more detail in the article Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?).
Paul told Christians to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
He kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Philippi:
Paul...But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:1,6).
Even the Greek Orthodox saint and patriarch John Chrysostom realized the above was proof that Paul kept the Days of Unleavened Bread as John wrote:
"And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days." For it seems to me that he made a point of keeping the feasts in the large cities. (John Crysostom. Homily 43 on the Acts of the Apostles. Translated by J. Walker, J. Sheppard and H. Browne, and revised by George B. Stevens. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 11. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889)
He kept Pentecost:
8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8).
16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16).
He also kept the Day of Atonement (known as the Fast):
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them (Acts 27:9).
The fact that the term "the Fast" was used is evidence that Gentiles were keeping the Day of Atonement, otherwise the Greek writer Luke would not have used that term.
He wrote that he needed to keep the feast (possibly meaning the Feast of Tabernacles); though Protestant commentators tend to identify that "feast" as likely to be Passover or Pentecost):
21 I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing (Acts 18:21).
Hence, Paul kept (after his conversion to Christianity), what are now commonly called the Jewish Holy Days. So, of course, did Jesus.
Furthermore, notice something from an old 2nd/3rd century document (that was probably altered in the 4th century), titled The Life of Polycarp, specifically mentions the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost. Notice that it shows that the Apostle Paul endorsed keeping them:
In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia, considering the repose among the faithful in Smyrna to be a great refreshment in Christ Jesus after his severe toil, and intending afterwards to depart to Jerusalem. So in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia, being a son of Eunice the daughter of Lois. These are they of whom he makes mention when writing to Timothy, saying; Of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice; whence we find that Strataeas was a brother of Timothy. Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians...but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).
Thus, the "apostle to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13), taught Gentile Christians in Asia Minor to keep the Holy Days. Days many now consider to be Jewish and not Christian--but apparently Paul considered them important for all Christians to keep (see also 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 where he told the Gentiles in Corinth to keep them as well).
Paul's example and pattern was to keep the seventh-day Sabbath and the Holy Days.
Paul also wrote:
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Jesus kept the Sabbath and the Feasts.
Do you imitate Jesus and Paul and follow their example?
Paul wrote "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:26). He also warned that those who break various of the ten commandments will not inherit the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:4-5) and then said, "Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:6-7).
Some have been confused about some of Paul's writings, but as Peter warned, "Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures" (II Peter 3:15-16). Perhaps the most confusing to some is, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle the wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16).
It is clear that Paul could not be talking about the ten commandments as he mentions parts of at least eight of them as still being in existence in the same book (see above, the other two are alluded to as well, Ephesians 5:31--anger, which is like murder according to Jesus; plus the comment about being a prisoner of the Lord also would show the first commandment, Ephesians 4:1). It needs to be remembered is that the wall of separation that was broken down the middle, was the large veil in the temple that split when Jesus died (Matthew 27:50:51). Thus it was the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood which were abolished. This is what Paul also wrote elsewhere (Hebrews 9:1,6-10).
The entire book of Galations is confusing to many. Suffice it to say that at least six of the commandments are mentioned in that book, and for violating some of them Paul wrote, "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). Paul is telling people that they cannot earn their salvation through works (Galatians 5:4-5) which of course is true. He never tells anyone to violate any commandment (not in Galations nor any other book) and reminds people that they will reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7). Actually, he commended Christians who obey (Phil 2:12).
Paul himself said, after his conversion to the leaders of the Jews, "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans" (Acts 28:17). If Paul had intentionally violated any of the ten commandments (or advocated this of others) he could not have said this. Look also at this, "On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present...And they said to him,"...Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law" "(Acts 21:18,20,24)--if Paul did not keep the law he should have refused this request, instead he followed it (vs. 26).
Paul also said, "Therefore I urge you, imitate me" (I Corinthians 4:16) and "Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1); Jesus, as we saw earlier, both kept and taught observance of the ten commandments.
Paul wrote, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin...I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'...Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 3:20;7:7,12).
Paul taught each of the ten commandments after the crucifixion (please see the commandments quoted after the crucifixion). Regarding faith and the law, Paul specifically wrote, "Do we make the void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary we establish the law" (Romans 3:31). Even after his conversion Paul stated that he was, "concerning righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:6).
Paul warned, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8); Jesus kept the ten commandments (cf. John 15:10)!
Paul also warns that "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" (II Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV--called the "mystery of iniquity" in the KJV). Lawlessness is breaking the law (for more about that, check out the article Mystery of Iniquity as well as the free online booklet The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast).
Why would Paul need to warn about lawlessness if he felt all the law had been done away?
Paul Had Credibility Issues
The Apostle Paul wrote:
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry. (Romans 11:13)
Yet, he had crebility issues from the beginning (Acts 9:10-16).
Even later, Saul/Paul had complaints.
Paul, on multiple occasions, addressed those who had issues with him:
8 shall not be ashamed — 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 "For his letters," they say, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present. 12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us — a sphere which especially includes you. (2 Corinthians 10:8-13)
1 I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1)
5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you." (2 Corinthians 11:5-8)
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:22-29)
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead) (Galatians 1:1)
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. (Ephesians 1:1)
11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. (2 Corinthians 12:11)
1 This will be the third time I am coming to you. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare — 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. (2 Corinthians 13:1-3)
So, despite how God tried to make it clear, Paul found it necessary to write to Christians and explain reasons why he was who he claimed to be.
One who speaks/writes the truth should be believed, and it is appropriate to defend oneself.
While many had doubts about the Apostle Paul, the Bible praised the Bereans who "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether" what Paul taught was so (Acts 17:10-11). The most faithful will do likewise.
Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He visited Gentile areas and preached to them. God called Gentiles to repentance and conversion.
Paul taught God's ways, including love and, that the Gentiles should be obedient.
The end of this age does not come until God determines that Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled and this would have to include the fulness of the Gentiles.
Paul wrote about half of the books of the New Testament. Paul taught that all ten of the commandments (see also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast). He kept the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
Jesus taught and kept them all as well. Do you imitate Paul as he imitated Christ? Do you follow their pattern and example?
Paul also showed that the Ten Commandments were all in effect after Jesus was executed and resurrected.
He also specifically taught they were not done away (Romans 3:31). He taught Gentiles to keep the Holy Days (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
He warned against lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7)! The opinions that state otherwise seem to be "traditions of men" which Jesus warned against (Matthew 15:6).
Is it not interesting that commandment keepers are God's people in the last book of the Bible (i.e. Revelation 12:17; 14:12) and even in its last chapter (Revelation 22:14)? Also, in the last book that Paul wrote before his death, he specifically warns against breaking the first, third, fifth, ninth, and tenth commandments (2 Timothy 3:1-7) as well as sin in general (v. 6).
Therefore, it would not appear wise from a biblical standpoint to teach that Paul or the Bible teach that the ten commandments or the biblical Holy Days are not in effect.
Many did not believe him.
Many twisted his writings.
Yet, God used him to write more of the New Testament than anyone else.
Saul the persecuter, became Paul, God's apostle to the Gentiles.
Here is a link to a related sermon: Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles.
More on the Ten Commandments can be found in the free online book: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.
Some have had questions about Paul's writings in the Book of Galatians, information on that can be found in the article Comments on Galatians.
Back to Home Page
B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Apostle Paul. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 /2007 / 2008/2009/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2017/2018 1220