THE UNKNOWN GOSPEL OF SAUL
THE DAY SAUL HEARD
In Galatians 1:11-12, Saul-turned-Paul said,
gospel which was preached by me is not according to man... but I
received it through a revelation of King Jesus."* In Acts chapter nine,
Luke recounted just a few details of that day, but Saul himself
recounted his fateful day in far greater detail in Acts 26.
Standing before King Agrippa, Paul said, "I saw a light from heaven that was brighter than the sun. It flashed around me and those who were traveling with me. All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It is hurting you to keep on kicking against the cattle prods.' I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?'
"The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you to be my servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you. I will continue to rescue you from your people and from the gentiles to whom I am sending you. You will help them understand and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God, so that their sins will be forgiven and they will receive a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"
WHAT JESUS DID NOT SAY
Certainly Jesus is the divine Son of God who
suffered for our sins, but when Jesus preached the gospel to Saul of
Tarsus, He did not teach Saul the Trinity, nor did He explain to Saul
the penalty of sins or His substitute death. Jesus did not preach what
we call the gospel. He refrained from explaining how "lost" and
hell-bound Saul was, neither did Jesus teach Saul to trust in the gift
of righteousness. Such is the gospel of many today who mean well and
preach truth, but complicate the
simple gospel Jesus preached.
In none of our four New Testament gospels did Jesus explicitly proclaim what we call the gospel. Nowhere in the entire book of Acts was our version of the gospel preached. We preach truth from the epistles, but Christians today rarely preach the same, simple gospel Jesus preached in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's biographies - the same gospel which the apostles preached throughout the book of Acts: God's kingdom has arrived; God has made Jesus the King.
THE GOSPEL TO SAUL
First Jesus said, "'Saul! Saul! Why are you
persecuting me? ...I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." The gospel to
Saul began with Jesus identifying Himself as Lord for Jesus is the
Second, He established His authority over Saul by saying, "But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you to be my servant..." The gospel of Jesus is the good news of His authority as King.
Third, King Jesus transitioned from the gospel of Himself and His authority to the task of assigning Saul to work. He assigned Saul to give eyewitness testimony of that day's revelation. Literally, Jesus assigned Saul to "be my servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you."
SAUL'S GOSPEL TO OTHERS
When Jesus assigned Saul to a life of eyewitness
testimony, He assigned Saul to help people do two things, to understand
and to turn: "You will help them understand and turn them from darkness
light and from Satan's control to God." Obediently, Saul taught Jews
and Gentiles to understand the authority of Jesus. Acts 9:20,22 records
very soon after the gospel revelation, "He immediately started to
preach about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'This is the Son of God.'
...But Saul grew more and more persuasive, and continued to confound
the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this man was the
Jesus charged Saul with helping people understand who He is, so Saul proclaimed everywhere the essence of the gospel, "He is the Son of God." The essence of Saul's gospel was the fact that Jesus is the Messiah King, the "Christ" (acts9:22).
THE ENTRANCE TO SAUL'S GOSPEL
Not only was Saul assigned to help people
Jesus, but also "to turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's
control to God." Alongside the gospel of the Kingdom, both Jesus and
His disciples consistently preached repentance/betrayal. Jesus is King,
but His kingdom is open only to those who betray their first king whom
scripture calls Satan. We used to obey the king of lies, the king of
sin, the "ruler of this world"(jn14:30),
the "god of this
called Satan; but we have turned from that old
king, betraying him to bow instead to the King of Kings.
Not only did Saul tell people to repent, he also helped them repent as he lived with them (1th2:8) and spoke to them with grace (cl4:6) so that the kindness of God would lead them into repentance (rom2:4) from King Satan to King Jesus.
THE GIFTS OF SAUL'S GOSPEL
1) "their sins will be forgiven"
2) "they will receive a share" (reward or inheritance)
3) "are sanctified" (set apart and made holy)
Note the precondition Jesus specified for receiving such gifts. He said Saul's listeners would be "sanctified by faith in me." The precondition to the King's gifts is faith that Jesus is Lord, not faith that He is Lamb. Scripture never says, "Believe Jesus is Lamb and you will have life" or "Believe Jesus died for your sins and you will be born of God." Instead, scripture clearly states:
"...believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that through believing you may have life in his name." (jn20:31)
"If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."(rom10:9)
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born from God..."(1jn5:1)
As he stated in Galatians, Saul-turned-Paul received the gospel not from men, but by a revelation of King Jesus. The gospel Jesus preached to Saul of Tarsus is the same gospel He preached throughout the gospel books and the same gospel Peter, Philip, and Paul preached in the book of Acts: Jesus is King, and the proof of His authority is this: God has raised Him from the dead."
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*Quoted from NASB, substituting "Jesus" for the NASB wording of "Christ."
"The Unknown Gospel of
Saul" by Matthew Bryan was
published at www.matthewbryan.net March 7th, 2013. All rights are
reserved. Except where otherwise noted, scripture taken from the Holy
Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2013 by The
ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.