Long ago God had a plan to give salvation to the world. Israel was God’s chosen people. But He did not stop there. He promised Abraham not only would his descendants become a great nation, but that all people would be blessed through him. Jesus Christ came into this world, as a descendant of Abraham, fully human and fully God, to save the world. Time and time again, Israel rejected God. But in His mercy He still loved them and gave them hope. Many rejected Christ as well, but God in His grace offered salvation through Jesus Christ to Jews and non-Jews alike. The gospel was spread through the apostles and He chose Paul specifically to preach to the Gentiles to bring salvation to them. To us! What an honor to be part of God’s family. I am so grateful that He offered eternal life to me, a gentile, a sinner. But through Jesus blood, I am declared righteous.
In this post we will look at the words of the apostles of how salvation can be obtained by the “uncircumcised,” the gentiles. The next post we will see what Jesus said about it.
Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
After the apostles were anointed with the Holy Spirit, several times they were called to minister to non-Jews and preach the gospel to them. Jesus came to this earth not just to save the Jews, but the whole world. Paul was specifically called to share the gospel to the Gentiles.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Paul, who was then called Saul, was persecuting the believers because he was raised in the scriptures (and traditions) and was taught that salvation was only for the Jews. The Jewish leaders opposed Jesus because they didn’t like the fact that He was opposing their traditions and calling them out on their abuse of power. He was teaching that salvation comes through faith, from the heart, not through the law. He came to fulfill the law by being the sacrifice for sins and paying the price, showing God’s grace and mercy. The “mystery” of salvation is now revealed that salvation is for everyone who believes, by grace, through faith.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “FOR THIS REASON I WILL CONFESS TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND SING TO YOUR NAME.” [2 Samuel 22:50, Psalm 18:49]
And again he says: “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE!” [Deuteronomy 32:43]
And again: “PRAISE THE LORD, ALL YOU GENTILES! LAUD HIM, ALL YOU PEOPLES!” [Psalm 117:11]
And again, Isaiah says: “THERE SHALL BE A ROOT OF JESSE; AND HE WHO SHALL RISE TO REIGN OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM THE GENTILES SHALL HOPE.” [Isaiah 11:10]
Paul verifies the truth of the gospel not only using the knowledge given to him by the Holy Spirit, but also through scripture (The Old Testament) that he studied for years as a student of the scriptures. God used Paul to bring the gospel message to us, to reveal the mystery of Christ, to lead the Gentiles to salvation, giving all of us the opportunity to believe and be saved. How great is our God!
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
What an encouragement to know that we are fellow heirs, God’s children, through His grace, not by our doing, but by what Christ did for us.