“…..when they (Peter, James and John) saw that the gospel for the UNCIRCUMCISED (the Gentiles) had been committed to me, (Paul) as the gospel for the CIRCUMCISED (The Jews) was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”
In Part 14, we saw how the New Testament is divided and the books placed in Divine order according to 2 Timothy 3. It is important to distinguish between Paul’s letters and the others. Why?
Because Peter, James, John and Jude were apostles to the CIRCUMCISED, meaning the Jewish people, although it is believed that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. It should be obvious, by the very name of the book, that it is written TO THE HEBREWS, meaning the Jews, and not TO the non-Jewish Church. Even so, as you have read in other parts of this series, it can still be of benefit FOR us.
TO Whom Is It Written?
I reiterate: There are many things in scripture that, although of interest and instruction to us, meaning the non-Jewish Church, do not actually apply TO us. They were directed TO the Jewish Church of the 1st century to address some very serious problems they faced AT THAT TIME.
Parts of the Gospels also are not written TO the Church but TO the Jewish people. The entire Olivet discourse in Matthew 24, for instance, is neither for nor about the Church. It is directed TO Jewish people who will be on earth during the seven-year Tribulation period.
(If you have not been following along this series, you may refer to the link below where we discuss the above topic in greater detail:
TO The Church.
Is there a message specifically addressed TO the Church in the gospels? Yes. It is found in the upper room discourse recorded in John’s gospel; but it is incomplete.Why? Because Jesus had many other things to say to the His disciples which could only be revealed AFTER He shed His blood, rose from the dead, ascended back to His Father, and was seated at His right hand.
ALL of Paul’s letters, on the other hand, were written TO ALL BELIEVERS, both Jewish and non-Jewish, except Hebrews of course. (Remember what we discussed about CONTEXT in part 1). If you really want to grow fast in your Christian life, read all his letters.
Roll Away The Stone: The Law
Ever notice that the names, “Peter, James and John” are always mentioned in that order, but only in the Synoptic Gospels? This is no accident. Consecutively they mean, “Stone, replace (or usurp), and grace,” respectively. There’s a message in their meanings! The job of these three disciples, plus Jude, was to “Replace the law with grace” in the lives of the Jewish people because they were the ones who needed it, having been under the law of a Moses for 1500 years. Primarily, it was these three men who were called to do so.
The Gentiles, on the other hand, never needed the “stone” rolled away because they were NEVER UNDER LAW. Never, that is, until some Judiazers told them they needed to obey the Ten Commandments now that they were saved. That is Paul’s topic in the entire book of Galatians. He had preached to them the pure, unadulterated Gospel yet, not long afterward, they fell prey to certain of the Jews who told them they needed to obey the Law to be acceptable to God not that they were saved.
That does not mean we are lawLESS, mind you. Who needs to be ruled externally by the Law when you have INSIDE YOU the LAW GIVER, JESUS?
(For more on that topic you may follow the link below:
The Council Of Jerusalem.
The Council of Jerusalem was held after the conversion of Gentiles at the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius. At this meeting, they discussed the issue of whether or not the Gentiles needed to obey the Law to be acceptable to God. Their conclusion was that, since Jesus fulfilled the Law, NO ONE, NEITHER GENTILE OR JEW, IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW. That should have been the end of the story……
…..But the debate is raging still. Folks, this issue was supposed to be settled way back in the 1st century! Sadly, it has reared it’s ugly head again in these last days, just like in Galatia. Paul’s entire letter to that Church was written to address this issue. Looks like man really hasn’t changed in 2,000 years. He still wants to think there’s something he can “DO” to inherit salvation.
My prayer is that more theologians today will revisit Galatians. Once again, the church needs to have the stone–THE LAW–rolled away and the “VEIL”removed from her face. Yep. The law has crept in by stealth, like the parable of the fig tree planted in the vineyard.
(For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:
Jewish people of our day who are not saved need to be warned and protected from the dangers they face right now. Here’s a good example:
When you read Hebrews and see things like, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…” it is not written TO you, Church. The writer is addressing Jewish people, the “Almosts” who turned their back on Jesus. They had NOT accepted Him as their Savior. But the worst part is, they went back to the animal sacrifices of the temple. This is trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot, considering it of lesser value that the blood of bulls and goats!
As you can well imagine, God was NOT PLEASED. Had He not just sent Beloved Son to die the most horrific death in history? Had He not just paid for all our sins? JESUS IS THE FINAL AND ONLY ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE FOR SINS! There is no more forgiveness by offering bulls and goats. God closed the door on that system.
Jesus is THE ONLY ONE we can present to the Father so that our sins can be FOREVER CLEANSED, not merely covered.
(For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:
Paul covered topics in Hebrews 6 & 10 that were aimed at Jewish people. Of course, these chapters are the ones that law-centric people love to talk about to scare the living daylights out of people in an effort to get them to live holy lives. They threaten you with the loss of your salvation if you stray from God. No one…..not even the Jewish people today…..can go back to temple sacrifices anymore. Why? BECAUSE THERE IS NO MORE TEMPLE. END OF STORY!
So Church, don’t be fooled or bullied by well-meaning preachers. Be knowledgeable. Know who is being addressed. Understand which Covenant is being discussed. Study the historical events which prompted the writing of the letter. Don’t fall prey to those who would place you back under bondage to the law. YUK!
I hope this study has been helpful. You need not be confused by obscure passages that have been misunderstood, misused, even abused and misapplied to the Church to call into question your salvation. Set your mind at east: YOU ARE ETERNALLY SECURE. NOTHING and no one can pluck you out of His hand…..including you.
To continue this series, you may proceed to Part 16 by following the link below to the final part of this study. We will end by discussing a few more obscure passages that have often confused the Church: