Chapter 1: Paul Wraps up the Bible
This chapter title will come as a surprise to you, no doubt; as you have thought little of the ministry of the Apostle Paul to provide the finishing continuity to the Bible of 66 books. A brief explanation is in order now, and there is a real sense in which this whole volume of THE LEARN CHRIST FROM THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS COMMENTARY will more exhaustively deal with that theme. The primary focus in this volume is about how the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a story about the Lord Jesus Christ, and how to learn that Christ of the Bible; but supporting that most obvious and dominant theme is the way the Resurrected Christ, personally and through the Spirit of Christ, continued to work through the Apostle Paul as well as the other Apostles to wrap up the Bible. If we look back over the last approximately two thousand years since Jesus of Nazareth walked on this earth in Palestine, what has been the most influence in the spread of Christianity to all the nations of the world, it has been the Bible as used by the Spirit of Christ. (Holy Spirit is being used synonymously with the Spirit of Christ: that is Bible.) Now given the Bible has been the most pervasive Christian influence in two thousand years, don’t you think that the God of whom the Apostle James writes as knowing all His works from the beginning of time, not only planned it this way, but also had a plan in the completion of the 66 books as well as the preservation and spread of the Bible. The Apostle Paul, under the direct leadership of the risen Christ and then through the Spirit during the so-called seven silent years (only silent because the Spirit like God the Father does speak in a still small voice), was the key human instrument to complete the Bible.
What needs to be dealt with briefly now is what Paul had to do with the completion of the Old.
Testament, and how Paul could w rap up the Bible since the Apostle John later wrote the last five books of the New Testament, and also after Paul John Mark wrote a Gospel and Dr. Luke wrote a Gospel and the book of Acts. As far as the Old Testament part, it was Paul’s assignment from the Risen Christ during their time together in Saudi Arabia immediately after the conversion of Paul to go back and re- read the Old Testament which Paul had studied so extensively in the past, but this time to read it in the light of the removed veil that was done away with, as Paul writes in Hebrews, in Christ. Paul during those seven years at Tarsus read through all the Old Testament manuscripts, remembered the interpretations from Christ, and recorded on a manuscript all the parts of the Old Testament that were most important to be quoted in the New Bible of the Old and New Testaments, along with the explanations, interpretations, and applications received from Christ and the Spirit of Christ.
Now about the writing ministry of the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul. Paul said in Galatians…
…that he met with Peter and James, and I think he also wrote a manuscript or two to record the story of the life of Jesus which later he left with John Mark to write Mark and Dr. Luke to write the Gospel of Luke. That means that Paul had three or four sources to know the complete story of the life of Christ before the Apostle John wrote his gospel, Jesus Himself in Arabia, the Apostle Peter, and the Apostle James, and the Holy Spirit was always present with Paul assisting in the writing of scriptures. After all, “holy men of God (apostles and prophets, “wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God”.
NOTE: And don’t forget as you will read about often in this volume, Paul under the leadership of the Spirit and with all that aforementioned background himself wrote 14 New Testament books of the 27, the majority author from the human side of the New Testament. Furthermore, if you removed from the New Testament all the Old Testament quotes (I will refer to over 100 of those quotes in this volume), there would be no New Testament. Most of those the Apostle Paul personally or through Luke and John Mark put there!
It is more detailed than this, but this will serve as an introduction. The rest of the volume will elaborate.
When you hear of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, what do you normally think? Most often we hear and speak of the missionary journeys of Paul. We read of the marvelous conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus in order that Paul might preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The premise of this chapter and the book is that the primary ministry of Paul was to serve as chief editor of the New Testament. Certainly as we in contemporary times look back on what has happened in the approximately two thousand years since Paul, Jesus, and the other Apostles of Christ, the most pervasive influence of Paul has been from his fourteen letters that became fourteen books of the New Testament. In other words thousands more people had read and become Christians from the reading of his letters than became Christians because of his missionary journeys.
You can almost miss this aspect of the ministry of Christ in the reading of his letters. The one single place that it is obvious is in the reading of Colossians 1:25.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God…” (Colossians 1:25 KJV)
Notice that: Paul is made a minister in order to fulfill or complete the word of God! That tells me that God had in mind a certain number of books for the Bible and in particular for the New Testament (27), and that the responsibility of the ministry of Paul was to make sure that this number was completed. This Paul did by personally writing 14 out of 27 of those books, and then pass on to John Mark and Dr. Luke manuscripts for the writing of three more books of the New Testament; so that Paul becomes personally responsible for 17 out of 27 of the New Testament books. I would say that is a significant aspect of Paul’s ministry when you consider to how many countries the Bible has gone over the last two thousand years, into how many homes, and from how many pulpits and Sunday school classes the Bible is taught every Sunday.
To belabor this chief editor aspect of the New Testament now as related to John Mark and Dr. Luke is somewhat jumping ahead, but I think it is necessary to immediately establish an internal evidence aspect to this claim. Two scriptural facts can quickly lay this foundation.
- 1. Paul after becoming a prisoner requested that Timothy bring his books and parchments from Troas.
“The cloak that I left a Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” (II Timothy 4:13)
- 2. Paul w rote that John Mark was profitable to him for the “ministry”, and recall that the most important aspect of the ministry of Paul was in the writing and editing of New Testament book
“Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (II Timothy 4:11)
Other Scriptures to Support Colossians 1:25.
As stated earlier it is possible to overlook this writing and editing aspect of the ministry of Paul until you focus on it as found in Colossians 1:25; however once it has your attention, you can find other scriptures to support the same thesis.
NOTE: It should be stated here something that will be emphasized later. That is, the sufferings and preaching and other aspects of the ministry of Paul are closely related and essential to the ministry of writing. In fact those other aspects of the ministry make the writing ministry possible. Also Paul’s acceptance in the church as an Apostle was also essential to the ministry of writing, since it was a well known fact that only Prophets and Apostles wrote Scriptures. Something else that we will look at in more detail later.
- 1. Ephesians 3:2,3.
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words…” (Ephesians 3:2,3)
Notice several obvious exegetical points from these two verses: (1) the method of Jesus by which He let Paul know of this great mystery was through “revelation”, and everyone knows from the study of the Bible in totality that the method by which Scriptures are written is revelation; (2) when this mystery was revealed to Paul he passed it on in a letter which became a book of the Bible (no doubt this was the book of Colossians); (3) if you read the verse before, Ephesians 1:1 you will notice that Paul relates this ministry of revelation and writing to both being a “prisoner” (sufferings for Christ and the church) and for the fact that it is all done for the church; (4) you also see this fact in the “which is given me to you-ward” in the wording of Ephesians 3:2; (5) in Ephesians 3:5 this great mystery is “now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”, once again all Bible students knowing that this is the method of revelations from God–revelation to apostles and prophets through the work of the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:16,17); (6) the great mystery hidden from the foundation of the earth is that the Gentiles are members of the same body of Christ through the same Gospel, Ephesians 3:6; (7) and this is the reason that Paul is made a “minister”, Ephesians 3:7; (8) part of this ministry to the preaching of this mystery and gospel to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:8; and (9) another aspect is in order that all men on the earth of all time might know this mystery–”and to make all men see what…”, Ephesians 3:9.
Now what seemed at first to be a little unclear from internal evidence in the Scriptures begins to become obvious!
- 2. II Timothy 3:16,17.
In a later section of this chapter we will look at Paul’s concept of “the word of God” as used in Colossians 1:25 to determine if it had a written Scriptural context as well as the more obvious aspect of preaching, so that since we mentioned above this verse of II Timothy 3:16,17, it behooves us now to put it up front as part of the understanding of the Apostle Paul about inspiration, revelation, and the Scriptures.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, througly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16,17)
All written Scripture is given by the inspiration of God through the Holy Spirit. If you look at the verse before, II Timothy 3:15, you will notice that Paul is talking about written Scriptures as he relates how Timothy has learned the written and “holy” Scriptures from his childhood.
This would also be a good time to look at the Apostle Peter’s concept of inspiration and Scriptures, and how in particular that Peter had accepted the writing of Scriptures as an important aspect of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, and that furthermore Peter sought to gain this acceptance of writing Scripture among the rest of the church.
(1). II Peter 1:20,21.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20,21)
Here the speaking or preaching of Scripture is closely related to the writing of the Old Testament books by the Prophets. (2). II Peter 3:15,16.
“…even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they are are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (II Peter 3:15,16)
You didn’t miss that did you: (1) Peter puts the written epistles of the Apostle Paul in the same category with the Scriptures of the Old Testament; (2) in those epistles Paul is “speaking” while he writes; and (3) it is because of the wisdom given to him from God that Paul writes to these churches in epistles that have become accepted as Bible.
- Romans 15:1
Where were we when we got carried away with this great doctrine of the inspiration of Scriptures? We were looking at support in other Bible verses for the writing of Scriptures as the most significant aspect of the ministry of the Apostle Paul.