January 17, 2014 ©Homer Kizer
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Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ … (Rom 1:1–6 double emphasis added)
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: (1 Cor 1:1–2 double emphasis added)
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. (Heb 5:1–4 emphasis added)
Paul of Tarsus was called to be an apostle; i.e., to be one sent forth—
What evidence exists to support Paul being called to be an apostle? There are Christians today who sincerely believe that Paul hijacked the Jesus Movement to make disciples for himself, that Paul never really understood what Jesus taught, that Paul was an impostor. And there were 1st-Century Christians who thought the same, who were certain that Paul taught converts to willfully sin.
The evidence that Paul cites for his calling isn’t mighty works done in the name of Jesus, or bringing many converts to Christ, or casting out demons, healing the infirm, feeding the hungry, but rather, his understanding of the mysteries of God:
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets [en--in] spirit [pneumati]. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of His power. (Eph 3:1–7)
Because Paul, via a revelation (how this revelation came to Paul, he never says), realized that Gentiles without being outwardly circumcised could become part of spiritual Israel, the nation to be circumcised of heart, and therefore Gentiles were co-heirs of the promise of salvation. So Paul’s evidence of being an apostle revolved around his understanding of the mysteries of God and of the promise of God. And this is evidence that must be accept via faith, via belief of Paul, not belief of Moses or of the Prophets or of the Writings; for throughout Paul’s ministry, he disputed with the Circumcision Party over the importance of the flesh for the Circumcision Party had Scripture on its side:
At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of [YHWH] went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by [YHWH], to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to [YHWH] by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. And [YHWH] said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to [YHWH], let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you." (Ex 12:41–49 emphasis added)
And [YHWH] said to me, "Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of [YHWH] and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord [YHWH]: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary. Thus says the Lord [YHWH]: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. (Ezek 44:5–9 emphasis added)
Mid 1st-Century, a convert to the Jesus Movement could either believe Paul, or believe the Circumcision Faction which supported its argument that converts needed to be outwardly circumcised to take the Passover sacraments of Bread and Wine with Scripture citations proving them correct …
Whom would you have believed if you were circumcised on the 8th day? Whom would you have believed if you were uncircumcised?
Paul was sent to Gentile converts, the uncircumcised, who were most likely to believe the gospel [good news] that he proclaimed. He was not sent to circumcised Israel. However, he was also sent to lay the foundation of the spiritual temple of God, this foundation being Christ Jesus: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:10–11).
A dilemma? Do you believe Paul whose gospel was seemingly contrary to Scripture—not that is was: Paul’s gospel only seemed contrary to Scripture because of how his epistles were twisted by lawless wannabe teachers of Israel. Or do you believe those leading men coming from Jerusalem who proved every point they made from Scripture? Do you believe an upstart, or the Establishment? Move forward nearly two millennia: do you believe me, who was called to reread prophecy, about a Second Passover liberation of Israel, or do you believe greater Christendom? You have to decide; for to not make a decision is making a decision for the Christian Establishment.
Apparently, Paul’s father was a Greek; his mother of Benjamin. And in this, Paul was like Chiram from Tyre, son of a widow, who was of the tribe of Nephthali. Chiram’s “father was a Tyrian man, an artisan in bronze and accomplished in skill and understanding and knowledge to perform every work in bronze” (3 Reigns 7:1–2 Septuagint NETS trans), and Chiram of Tyre, the son, did all of the metalsmithing for the temple Solomon built, casting pillars and basins and cherubim. Chiram did for Solomon and Solomon’s temple what Paul did for the Lord in laying the foundation for the heavenly temple of God. And in both cases, the “language” in which the absent father had expressed himself was the means by which the son worked to built the temple.
In Paul’s case, there were two apparently absent fathers although one—God the Father—was never really absent; for while Paul expressed himself in the Greek language even though he spoke in Hebrew parataxis and occasionally wrote in this form of sentence construction as seen in the dictated introduction of his treatise to the holy ones at Rome, what Paul expressed was the language and words of God, Father and Son.
Paul didn’t choose himself to deliver a message to Gentiles while Peter, James, and John went to the circumcised (cf. Gal 1:11; 2:9). Paul was chosen to deliver what God surely had to know would be an unpopular message with His people Israel; for Paul’s gospel negates the apparent birthright of physical descendants of the patriarch Israel
The God of Abraham never offered the people of Israel spiritual birth and indwelling eternal life. Rather, what was offered to the people of Israel was physical prosperity and long physical life (see Deut chap 30) in a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.
But to understand Christ Jesus necessitates understanding narratives crafted in Hebrew style: the promises made to natural Israel—to the nation circumcised in the flesh—form the chiral image of implied promises made to spiritual Israel, the nation circumcised of heart.
A Hebrew man concealed his circumcision from the world by keeping his pants on or robe down; thus circumcision wasn’t to be openly seen except through the love the man displayed toward God, neighbor, and brother, for outward circumcision was the shadow and type of inward circumcision that also could not be seen except as displayed through love for even one’s enemies.
For whatever reason—Paul claims by revelation—Paul understood Scripture to be a long running narrative crafted in Hebrew style that has the things that have been made revealing the invisible things of God (Rom 1:20). This is the structure of Hebraic poetics; this is the essence of thought-couplet verse. And Paul understood that a physical temple with a physical sanctuary required a man to be physically circumcised before he could enter the sanctuary, but that a spiritual temple with a spiritual sanctuary required a son of God to be circumcised of heart before this son of God can enter the sanctuary—and to be circumcised of heart, the outer body of the person didn’t matter. The person could be male or female, Jew or Greek; for the flesh would not and could not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 15:50). Conversion was of the heart; was of the inner self through the formerly dead inner self being born of spirit through the indwelling of Christ Jesus. And this is what the Circumcision Party never grasped.
Indeed, Paul laid the foundation of the spiritual temple of God, with the holy ones being the temple (1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Pet 2:4–5), each a living stone.
Although the Circumcision Party had Scripture on its side, these ueber Law-keepers were without understanding of the mysteries of God whereas Paul understood the movement from physical to spiritual inherent in every Hebrew style narration—and Paul used his understanding of the physical/spiritual chiral relationship to confirm that he had been sent forth as an apostle …
On this date, January 17th, a Thursday in 2002, I was called to reread prophecy—and the proof of my calling is in my understanding of the mysteries of God.
Twelve years ago today I began to reread prophecy and to write what I found in doing the task to which I was called. Most of what I have since written is available on-line. I don’t believe anything has been taken down although some of what’s still on websites no longer shows on the site but can be retrieved using the Way Back Machine.
In twelve years, I have written a few million words, more than I’d care to reread. But these words are there for the person who doubts that I could have produced what I have written: my average word length is five letters; my average sentence length is nineteen words; my punctuation is archaic; and my sentences tend to circle back upon themselves. My style was reasonably well established before I was called to reread prophecy. I began writing nearly fulltime in December 1979, while living aboard a small boat tied to the old Sub Dock at Dutch Harbor. I had been writing professionally for nine years when I returned to the university to take a graduate degree, my first degree.
A Christian established in the faith will find it as difficult today to accept what I write as an observant Jew would have in the 1st-Century found it difficult to accept what Paul wrote. I accept that. But you must accept responsibility for the death of your uncovered firstborn when the Second Passover liberation of Israel occurs … fair enough?
If you don’t think that is fair, then perhaps you ought to take the Passover sacraments of blessed unleavened bread and drink from the blessed cup on the dark portion of the 14th day of the first month of the holy calendar this year and every year therefore until the Second Passover occurs. That is asking nothing more of you than Christ Jesus asks … if you are truly born of spirit, your now-living inner self is a firstborn son of God that out of love for God you need to cover by taking the Passover sacraments on the dark portion of the Preparation Day—the first Unleavened.
From the 1st-Century, the names of those who opposed Paul mostly went unrecorded. The same will be true of this present era.
Paul was called to be an apostle. The saints were called to belong to Christ Jesus, not to engage in ministry except as they feel compelled to support a ministry. And so it is today, with again the evidence that I was called to reread prophecy twelve years ago on this date being my understanding of the mysteries of God.
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."