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Dispensationalism - Peter and Paul as Witnesses

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Peter and Paul as Witnesses


Mr. Stam tells us:
In addition to the distinctions between the ministries of the twelve apostles and Paul, the Scriptures also clearly distinguish between the ministries of Peter (as leader of the twelve) and Paul.


II Peter 1:16-18 Acts 22:7,14,15
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty. "For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such A VOICE to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. "AND THIS VOICE . . . WE HEARD, when we were with Him in the holy mount." "And I fell unto the ground, and HEARD A VOICE saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" "And he [Ananias] said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and SEE that Just One, and shouldest HEAR the voice of His mouth. "For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast SEEN AND HEARD."

A comparison of the above passages reveals the following similarities:

1.  Both Peter and Paul saw the Lord in glory.
2.  Both heard voices from heaven.
3.  Both were witnesses of what they had seen and heard.1

Yet there are distinct differences between the circumstances and significance of their experiences.

1.  Peter saw the Lord in His glory on earth.  Paul saw Him in His glory in heaven.

If the author is in reference to the same glory in different places, he makes an error because Peter and Paul were both very much on the earth when they saw the glory of the Lord. In fact, both men were as much on the earth as can be humanly attained, since they both fell to the earth. Also since Christ gave up His glory to walk on this earth it stands to reason that Peter who saw Him in His pre-ascension state would not see Him in the glory that he once again took to Himself when He returned to the right hand of the Father. Although this is an interesting fact how does it make a difference in the two men’s ministries.

Mr. Stam tells us:
2.  Peter saw Him in His kingdom glory.  Paul saw Him in the glory of His grace at the Father's right hand.

Again the writer fails to give any scripture to substantiate his remark. In John 17:5-24, Christ only speaks of one glory, that of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, vs.5, 24. We see that the Bible only speaks of one place to which Christ ascended, and that was to the right hand of the father. Mark 16:19, Acts 2:33 (according to Acts 2:33+34 this is where Christ will stay until God makes his foes his footstool). I see no scripture which states that Christ has to bodily return and to the earth to accomplish this fact. I Cor. 15:25 states "For he must reign, till he hath put ALL enemies under His feet." Paul believed, as did the apostles, Acts 2:33-34, Acts 3:21,Acts 5:31-32, that the work of Christ was to be done on the earth from his throne in the heavens.

Mr. Stam tells us:
3.  The voice Peter heard had the acceptance of Christ in view (cf. Matt. 17:5, "Hear ye Him").  The voice Paul heard had the rejection of Christ in view ("Why persecutest thou Me?").

If we were to read on to Acts 9:6-15 we would definitely see the acceptance of Christ in view. God the Father and Christ in both passages the writer gives, were giving the command to listen and obey. There is not even the slightest hint in Acts that Christ had Paul's rejection of Himself in view when He called Him. Christ called Paul to be a chosen vessel to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 9:15.

The salutation which He used "Why persecutes thou me" told Paul who he was speaking with. Paul knew he was persecuting the church of Christ and he knew after this salutation that the Lord was speaking to him vs. 5. This Lord was the Jesus who he was persecuting through his action against the church. There was not one hint of expectation of rejection, only the call of a servant to do the work of his Lord. Which is exactly the same context in which we see the call of Peter "Hear ye Him."

Mr. Stam tells us:
4.  What Peter saw was a demonstration of "the power and coming" of Christ.  What Paul saw was a demonstration of the grace that caused Him to delay His coming (cf. II Peter 3:9,15).

What Peter and Paul both saw was an example of what the entire earth will see on the day of the Lord. (II Pet. 3:10-13) A glory so wondrous and so powerful that even the elements will melt with a fervent heat. Peter and Paul beheld just a small sampling of this glory and, if you read the accounts, the experience was so shattering that both fell to the earth trembling. This glory under which no sin can exist will destroy our present earth and therefore make way for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness vs. 13.

Mr. Stam tells us:
5.  Peter's experience harmonized with his position as an apostle of the Messianic kingdom.  Paul's harmonized with his position as the apostle of the grace of God.

Earlier chapters will show the stand the scriptures take on the thought of two separate kingdoms, however for review the following verses will show that Paul believed he was preaching the kingdom of Christ. Eph.5:5, Col.1:13, I Thess.4:11, II Tim. 4:1-18.

And these verses will show that Peter thought he was preaching the grace of God. Acts 4:33, 15:6-11, I Pet.3:7, 4:10, 5:12, II Pet.3:18.

Mr. Stam tells us:
There are two facts in connection with Saul's experience on the road to Damascus which deserve particular attention:

First, it should be noted that the Lord's rejection by Israel was now assumed.  Before the stoning of Stephen and the raising up of Saul, God had offered the kingdom to Israel on the assumption2 that she would repent and accept her Messiah.  But now, with Israel waging war against the church (of that day) and Saul of Tarsus making havock of the church, the rejected Lord calls from heaven: "Why persecutest thou Me?" After that the kingdom was never again offered to Israel so far as the record is concerned.

Secondly, we should notice that while Saul was Christ's bitterest enemy on earth, yet the Lord dealt with him in grace.  Instead of judging him, He saved him!

Is this any different than the grace that the Lord showed to the apostle Peter?

If anything he showed greater to Peter. Peter having witnessed the transfiguration knew that Christ indeed was the promised Messiah, yet he denied Him three times. This denial should have been more than sufficient to eliminate Peter as an apostle, yet, through the grace of God, Peter was forgiven.

Paul, on the other hand, was doing what he thought was the will of God for his life. He didn't know that Christ was the Messiah. Believing Him to be an imposter he did what any "good" Jew would do. He went about trying to rid the world of this false teaching. He acted under the influence of the ignorance of sin, he had never seen Christ glorified. After he saw Christ, and knew that Christ was the Messiah he never denied his Savior.

We know now that both men rejected Christ because they were acting under their own power and not that of the Holy Spirit. But the grace that was bestowed on Paul in saving him was no different than the grace that was bestowed on Peter. It is the same grace which works in the lives of unbelieving Jews in the world today, bringing them to the knowledge that Christ is indeed the promised Messiah.

Mr. Stam tells us:
We are well aware of the fact that Peter did not proclaim the mystery of God's purpose and grace to these Gentiles. 

According to Acts 10:34-43, the gospel is exactly what Peter preached to Cornelius. Compare these verses with Paul's gospel in I Cor.15:1-9 and you will see no difference in the gospels being taught.

Mr. Stam tells us:
He did not even know it.  He did not even know why God was sending him and, when called to account, explained simply:
"What was I that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:17).  Furthermore, his ministry to Cornelius' household was accompanied by water baptism and miraculous signs.

As stated before, the water baptism and miraculous signs were not necessary for their salvation. Acts 10:44-48 shows us that the Holy Spirit fell upon them well before the rite of baptism was performed.

Mr. Stam tells us:
Nevertheless Peter's mission was one of the first steps in the unfolding of the mystery, God's plan to bless the nations in spite of Israel's rejection of Christ.
While recognizing fully the kingdom aspect of Peter's message and Cornelius' conversion, we should not forget the following facts:
1.  The incident took place after the conversion of Saul, which was the first step in the introduction of the new dispensation (I Tim. 1:13-16).

There is no mention of a new dispensation in this passage of scripture. Only the witness of Paul that because the Lord had been longsuffering towards him (Paul), He (Christ) would also be longsuffering to those who came after Paul.

Mr. Stam tells us:
2.  Peter was not sent to Cornelius under the so-called "great commission" but by a special commission; not because Israel had accepted Messiah but in view of the fact that she was rejecting Him.  It was not the next step in the carrying out of the "great commission," for according to that commission Israel must first be brought to Messiah's feet (see Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8, 3:25,26) and it had become increasingly evident that Israel would not accept Messiah.

Again the writer adds to the scripture in order to prove a point. There is nothing in these verses that would make us believe that Israel would ACCEPT the gospel, only that it would be PREACHED to them. As we know in this day preaching and acceptance are vast worlds apart. Matt. 20:16 tells us "for many be called, but few chosen."

The call to preach the gospel to the whole world was indeed carried out, Col.1:6, the presumption of total acceptance is found only in the mind of the author of this book, and nowhere in scripture.

Mr. Stam tells us:
3.  Here for the first time we learn that God has put "no difference" between Jew and Gentile (Acts 15:9).  This, as we have seen, was not so under the "great commission;" nor will it be so in the day of the Lord, when that commission is carried out (Matt. 24:14 cf. Isa. 60:1-3).  But before the Acts period closes it is fully demonstrated that "There is no difference," either as to man's sin (Rom. 3:22,23) or as to God's grace (Rom. 10:12).

Read the great commission and you will see the fallacy of the author’s belief. The gospel was not only to the Jew but to the entire world. It began in Jerusalem but spread out into all of the Gentile nations. This agrees completely with the gospel which Paul taught. (Rom.1:16) All men, Jew and Gentile alike, are the same in the eyes of God, lost and in need of a Savior. This has been their plight since Adam first sinned in the Garden of Eden.

Mr. Stam tells us:
4.  It was on the basis of Peter's experience that Paul's ministry to the Gentiles was recognized by the church at Jerusalem (Read carefully Acts 15:7-35).

Yes read this passage carefully and you will see that the call to go to the Gentiles with the gospel of Jesus Christ was first given to Peter vs. 7-9 not to Paul.

Mr. Stam tells us:
As to Paul's experience in the temple on that first return to Jerusalem after his conversion, it indicates clearly that Israel's rejection of Christ had now been assumed.  The message of the twelve having been spurned, Paul now supposed that they would listen to him, seeing he had once led them in their persecution of Christ.  But the Lord knew better and said: "They will not receive thy testimony concerning Me."
Again, let us remember why God thus broke off dealings with Israel as a nation.

God did that way back in the Olivet Discourse long before Paul came on the scene. The author needs to read and study the book of Hebrews and he will see that God did not break off dealings with the elect of Israel He just changed the means of their knowing Him.

Who are the all spoken of in this passage of scripture? Not just the nation of Israel but the entire world. see Galatians 3:22.

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