THE CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND PAUL’S
GRACE GOSPEL REVELATION
Often it is very important to observe what circumstances it was – for instance if a crime has been committed. And there is a police investigation going on.
But also in Biblical matters, when trying to find ‘all the facts’ connected to a certain issue/topic, we can find much supportive facts by having a closer look at circumstances.
So, we shall ‘investigate’ Paul’s situation around his writing of the two church epistles, Ephesians and Colossians.
I want us to concentrate on one particular historical fact, and see what comes out of this: Why is there no report of Paul in the two prison epistles telling of miracles, healings, signs, the laying on of hands, Holy Communion, confessing of sins, tithing, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy???
THE THESIS ON WHAT IS ‘NOT FOUND’
I already answered that question, listing up things which Paul did not mention in the two epistles.
There isn’t any trace of these things….not by a long shot.
A very strong word written by Paul on this can be read in Eph. 3:1-3, AMP net version,
“For this reason [because I preach that you and believing Jews are joint heirs] I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was entrusted to me [to share with you] for your benefit; 3and that by [divine] revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I have already written in brief.”
Here we find the real heavy circumstance around the writing of the two epistles:
Paul was suffering as a prisoner in a Roman jail cell.
Jesus Christ had seen to that he was kept in ‘protective custody’ so no harm could come his way. Christ did this marvelous move in care of us Gentiles, as we read above.
PAUL IN JAIL WAS A ‘TWO WAY STREET’
Paul in jail goes two ways: One is the fact that he was protected against any mob or random persecutors, whether Jews or Gentiles. And two, - he was cut off from the possibility to travel and visiting the congregations he wrote to. He used several fellow believers, and one of them was Epaphras, who seem to be among the leading brethren, post-Acts. Tychicus was also one of them, going the errands for Paul. See Col. 4.
Thus he could no longer operate as the original ‘miracle worker’ and apostle such as reported in Acts.
If it was true that Paul, even when in jail, - still had the power of the sign gifts in him, he could no longer exercise those. They could not send their sick believers from Ephesus or Colossae, or Hierapolis or other places, to Paul for healings. However: I do believe that God had cancelled these power gifts already as we find the fall of Israel in Acts 28:25-28. These nine gifts of the Holy Spirit were only given the apostles to perform before the Jews as sure proof of the presence of God in their ministries. (1 Cor. 14:21, 22).
Not only Paul, but there is no clue of any apostle at all performing miracles and healings after Acts 28!
Neither can we find that Paul, eventually, laid hands on any of his helpers, and transmitted the healing-powers of the Holy Spirit to them. He did not instruct any of them to lay hands on the sick for healings, or to practice water baptism or any other ordinance found in Acts. It is total silence regarding these things, pointing us in one direction only: All such gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased entirely post-Acts.
The infamous Emperor Nero (called ‘The Boy Caesar’) thought that the decision to jail Paul came from himself, not knowing that it was made by Jesus Christ, overruling the leader of the Roman Empire. Nero actually was a real psycho nut-case…and he ended his miserable life at the hands of his own security guard. His full name (as emperor) was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.
There are TV-series made of this, and of other Roman leader’s tragically lives.
Already in the times of Acts, we do find Paul as one who had made up his mind regarding ministry for Christ: He was always ready to die for this cause!
“And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit solemnly [and emphatically] affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me. 24But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life].”
Acts 21:12-14, likewise -
“Now when we had heard this, both we and the local residents began pleading with Paul trying to persuade him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart [like this]? For I am ready not only to be bound and imprisoned, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14And since he would not be dissuaded, we stopped pleading and fell silent, saying, “The Lord’s will be done!”
It is obvious to us all that Paul, regardless of circumstances, was not a ‘sissy’ – he considered himself as ‘dead already’ for all what we know. He had made up his mind to minister regardless of death threats or other stressing situations.
CONCLUSION THUS FAR IN THE INVESTIGATION
Jesus Christ had the full control and care for His faithful and unwavering apostle Paul, the apostle to us Gentiles. Jesus never left Paul out of His sight but watched over him to his final day on earth.
Jesus made sure that Paul could write the two Church epistles, containing the Grace Gospel – the salvation which Paul sums up for us in a most elegant manner, - sending it to us Gentiles and spread around in Asia Minor 63-67 (and on!) reaching the world so we Gentiles could own the hope of heaven with Christ:
Eph. 2:8, 9,
“For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]”.