Paul: The First Member Of The Christian Church

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

In the book of Acts, chapter 2:47, it reads: “…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Here Peter was preaching to the men of Israel on the day of Pentecost. The word ἐκκλησία, translated here “church” means a group of people. This assembly consisted of Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. This is the “church” Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:18 where He said: “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is not the Church, the body of Christ. It is not the Roman Catholic church. Neither the Lutheran nor Methodist nor Reformed churches. It is Jewish believers of the kingdom gospel. That Jesus is their King and will set up His earthly kingdom. They repented and were baptized. These were not the Jews who came to Christ by hearing the gospel of grace that Paul preached. They are two different groups, and unless we understand this, the Bible will not make much sense. This is why so many church denominations are in error. They mix Israel with Christianity; Paul with the gospels. They teach that Jesus preached to both Jews and Gentiles and that the Twelve taught everyone, as well as Christians. They did not. Jesus said He came only for the lost sheep of Israel and He instructed the apostles to do the same. Jesus preached repentance, water baptism, keeping the Law, forgiving others, and faith in who He was as necessary for salvation. This is not Christianity which teaches faith alone in Christ alone for salvation. The apostles were not Christians. They were Jewish believers who still kept the law.

Sadly. a lot of Christians think that Paul was the 13th apostle. This makes no sense either. Why would God need one more? Besides, Jesus told the Twelve that they would be ruling the 12 tribes of Israel one day. Israel has an earthly inheritance, not a heavenly one. If Peter, the other eleven apostles and Paul were all teaching the same thing, then why did Peter say that Paul’s writings were hard to understand? Why does the Bible say that the Twelve were the apostles of the circumcision (Jews) and that Paul was the apostle of the uncircumcision (Gentiles)? If Paul was chosen to carry out the Great Commission, then why didn’t he go straight to Peter or the other apostles to learn from them? Why was Paul taught by no man but the ascended Christ? And what about the “mystery” that Paul mentions? That secret God kept hidden since the beginning, that Gentiles could find salvation apart from Israel. That they would not be under the law. That God was now extending grace to all who will believe on the Lord Christ Jesus. That Jews no longer needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. That they did not have to perform any works, abstain from any food, observe Feasts days, or sacrifice animals in order to cover their sins. The only requirement for eternal salvation was to believe that Jesus died for their sins and on the 3rd day rose again. Paul taught that. The Twelve never did. This is the message of the cross.

So when exactly did the Christian church begin? It began with Paul in the middle of the book of Acts. In chapter 15 we read about the Jerusalem Council where the apostles, elders and other Jews were assembled, as were Paul and Barnabas, Paul’s companion. Some of the sect of the Pharisees arose and had insisted that Gentile believers needed to keep the law of Moses. Paul argued against them. Finally Peter, who had been silent, stood up and said that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, both Jews and Gentiles shall be saved in the same way. Not long afterwards, it was the Gospel of the grace of God, Paul’s gospel, that was being preached. No more was water baptism being taught as necessary for salvation. But faith in Christ’s finished work on Calvary was and still is.

6 thoughts on “Paul: The First Member Of The Christian Church

    1. So much of Christendom does not see the importance of Paul and his gospel of the grace of God. They just clump him with the 12 apostles, failing to understand the Twelve and Paul did not teach the same thing. Paul is for this dispensation. This is why some time after Acts 15 it is Paul’s Gospel that takes off and the gospel of the kingdom was no longer to be preached.

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  1. I know most of Christendom teaches that Paul is the 13th apostle or that he should have been the twelfth but that makes no sense at all. Paul did not meet the requirements to be one of the twelve first and was truly the first person ever saved solely by God’s grace. I know some try to say that the OT saints were saved by faith alone but that is just a weak argument with no scriptural support. OT saints were always saved by faith and some form of works. Just a couple examples:
    Noah was saved because he believed God and obeyed Him by building the ark (a work)

    Abraham was saved by obedience to God as well as faith hence the moving, waiting, willing to sacrifice Isaac, etc. All were works.

    Rahab was saved because she believed who God was and blessed His people the spies (God blesses those who bless Israel this is one way to get the blessing of God when the middle wall of partition is up separating Jew from Gentile, the other is to become a Jewish proselyte which Rahab most likely did as well seeing she married a Jew)

    No where before Paul do you see the cross work mentioned as you stated Peter rebuked Jesus when he mentioned dying. Everywhere except in Paul’s ministry the focus is faith plus works required as the evidence of faith. That is why before Paul and after the body is caught up the message will be repent, be baptized and have your sins forgiven at the times of refreshing:

    Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
    Acts 3:19 KJV

    The times of refreshing is after Daniels 70th week when Christ returns to the earth to establish His Kingdom and the little flock of Israel as well as all the Jewish believers who obeyed God in life and went to Abraham’s bossom (Paradise at their death):

    And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
    Luke 23:43 KJV

    And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
    Luke 16:22 KJV

    Where they awaited the arrival of their Messiah to come to them which Christ did when he was in the heart of the earth for three days. He went and plucked up the souls in paradise and carried them elsewhere into heaven as this verse shows:

    How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
    2 Corinthians 12:4 KJV

    In the Lazarus story paradise was in the earth and was visible from hell which is in the earth separated by a great gulf which cannot be crossed by created beings but God only. However when Paul goes there Paradise is in heaven, he was caught up not carried into. They are there awaiting their resurrection and entering into the promised Kingdom at Christ’s return which is when they are actually saved but their works on Earth as in law keeping and water Baptism, public confession, etc. No where do they have grace alone mentioned and salvation without works, there is always a work attached but Paul teaches only grace:

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 KJV

    And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
    Romans 11:6 KJV

    That could not begin until Paul was saved in Acts 9 making him the first member of the church of today which is the Body of Christ, no where before Paul’s epistles do you find even a hint of the Body Christ or the mystery of God’s grace through the blood of Christ to pay for sin.

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  2. I was conversing with a man on here who asked that I delete all his comments, and he used Rahab and Abraham to make his case that OT folks were saved by faith alone, the same as we are. He believes that salvation has always been by faith alone.

    No clear statement or definition of the gospel or of salvation exists in the OT. What is revealed is that salvation involved faith and works. OT believers were saved by faith. But works were also involved in salvation. Salvation by faith alone (sola fide) was unknown to the Jews.

    In the book of Hebrews it says Rahab was saved by faith. James says she was justified by works and James, being a Jew, knew Judaism and he was still operating under the Mosaic law. Jesus said keep the commandments. He taught that a Jew had to forgive others or God would not forgive them. The apostles taught faith plus repentance plus water baptism was necessary for salvation.

    In Acts 15 the Jerusalem assembly were going to Paul’s Gentile converts and teaching them that what Paul taught was insufficient for salvation. They told Paul’s converts they were not saved. They taught that to be saved one not only had to believe, but be circumcised, and keep the Mosaic Law They taught salvation required faith and works.

    Abraham was a special case. He was saved by faith alone in order that he may be the father of saved Jews and saved Gentiles.

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  3. Mr. Norris I encourage you to read the article “Paul’s Gospel: the Word of God in Its Fullness” by Dan Smedra. I think you will find it helpful and will add to your understanding. Like his mentor Miles J. Stanford, Smedra distinguishes between Paul’s Gospel of Grace that he preached to the gentiles and the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached to the Jews.

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