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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Paul, the Equal Rank Apostle
Date Posted: August 9, 2022

The Jerusalem Conference took place about 20 years after the establishment of the church. The superstructure of human traditions was slow to bend even under the weight of God's direct revelation. God had made it clear about 10 years before the conference that He fully accepted the Gentiles into the Body in just the same measure and through the same methods as the Jews. For various reasons, these facts were slow to catch on; men resisted the change, even good and godly men. Finally after the Judaizers were beginning to forge an organized approach to spread their heresies, the brethren determined that they should meet in Jerusalem regarding the Judaizers and the negative impact that they were having on the churches in general.

Paul attended the conference at Jerusalem and he was granted full access to the public as well as to the private meetings regarding the teaching of the Judaizers (Galatians 2.1-2). His credentials as an apostle were not challenged nor was his practice of including both Jew and Gentile into his evangelistic work. As further evidence of the fact that the gospel that Paul preached and practiced was consistent with that of the other apostles, he took Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile, with him to the conference (Galatians 2.3). Had Paul been inferior to the other apostles in any way two things would certainly have been different. First, he would not have been allowed to have an equal place in the conference as the "fully accepted apostles." Secondly, his taking of Titus to such a conference would have been decried as heretical and divisive. Neither of these things happened. He was accepted and so were his practices regarding the Gentiles. The Jerusalem conference, though not its primary purpose, placed an apostolic stamp of approval on Paul's apostleship, ministry, and doctrine.

This fact was important to Paul's case against the Judaizers in Galatia. He was being accused of usurping the place of an apostle; his credentials were being challenged; he was being called a liar and a false teacher. Paul's reasoning against these accusations was ironclad! The evidence he presented for his apostleship was impregnable. In spite of the brash words of the Judaizers, Paul could fully defend and prove that his apostleship was of God and that his doctrine had the Divine stamp of revelation and inspiration affixed indelibly upon it. Had there been any weakness, any hole, in his defense the Judaizers would have exploited it and discredited him as a minister and an apostle before the churches of Galatia. They did not exploit the weaknesses in his arguments because there were none! God had given Paul the words to speak just like He gave to other apostles in times similar to these.

The authority of Paul was a crucial issue in the days of the Galatian churches and it is crucial today. It is interesting that the same arguments that are being made against Paul today were made then. It is equally interesting to see that the same arguments that were used to defend his apostleship then will also stand against modern-day attacks. Paul was an equal rank apostle and his actions at the Jerusalem conference proved that to be the case once and for all!

Questions:

1. Why would anyone have wanted to discredit Paul during the first century

2. Why would anyone want to discredit him today?
3. Of what significance is the reality of apostolic authority? What if they weren't really infallable messengers of God?
4. Which apostle, if any, had greater authority than any other?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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