Thursday, April 27, 2017

Of course it was a great surprise to Paul when the Lord spoke to him from heaven on the Damascus road. A great surprise in view of the fact that Paul was still looking for the Messiah to come and had not believed that this Jesus of Nazareth was He. All his theological work came tumbling down about his ears and he had to take a totally new viewpoint about his beliefs.

But immediately he recognized that this was indeed the Lord, and called Him by that title. So from then on Paul preached the One whom he had so persecuted before.

As this course was nearing its end, Paul said that he had not been disobedient to the heavenly vision on the Damascus road. He had preached the things he had seen. One example of that was the apology of Stephen. This was a great sermon and Paul was present.

It was not long till the Lord appeared to him and gave him another message, or possibly the same message, but to a different people. It was his gospel of grace to the Gentiles. There is no instance that Paul ever preached his grace gospel to Jews. For example, at Antioch Paul preached what he had seen to the Jews and they refused the message. So he then turned to the Gentiles and preached to them the gospel which he later wrote about when writing to the Galatians. He says that he received this gospel from the Lord, not from man.

We should note very carefully what is said about the last days of Paul before getting to Rome. He went to Jerusalem not knowing what would befall him there. He was hoping to finish his course with joy. This had been a hard course and he had suffered much and no doubt was looking forward with some relief to when it would cease. He had no inkling of the fact that another course lay before him.

So he was kept for 2 years at Caesarea as a prisoner, unable to carry on a ministry, for he had been told at Jerusalem that his ministry was to be far hence. That would not be in Judea. And remember that the course he had set out upon was not completed till he had witnessed to the last of the Jews at Rome. So we do not expect even any books written at Caesarea.

Knowing that there was no real valid charge against him at Jerusalem, Paul no doubt felt that he would be acquitted by Caesar and be able to finish his course, that of preaching the kingdom. But it did not turn out that way.

For some reason Caesar was unable to take up his case for about 2 years, so he remained in custody, but in his own hired house with a soldier in attendance day and night.

But on arriving in Rome, Paul preached his last kingdom sermon to the leaders of the Jews, arguing from Moses and the prophets that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel and would come again.

As always, the Jews rejected the kingdom offer. Isaiah 6:9,10 was quoted for the last time, and Paul was shown the great mystery which had been hid in God from ages and generations. What a surprise!

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