Was Paul saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Was the Gospel of Grace in effect when Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) was saved? On the basis of Saul’s statement in Acts 9:5—“Who art thou, Lord?”—some have argued that he was saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom. Did Paul ever preach the Gospel of the Kingdom? Are they correct in asserting this? Let us search the Scriptures and see what God says in His Word, and not worry about the idle speculations of man.

The Gospel of the Kingdom was a part of Israel’s program. Did Paul ever minister on “kingdom ground” in any part of the book of Acts? No. Unlike Peter’s message in Acts 3:19-26, Paul never preached a message offering Israel her kingdom (for instance, read Paul’s sermon in Acts 13, which offers forgiveness now without Law-keeping [verses 38-39], unlike Israel’s future forgiveness in Acts 3:19).

During the book of Acts, Paul preached Jesus was the Son of God, Christ/Messiah (Acts 9:20,27,29; Acts 13:25-39; Acts 17:2-3; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:4; Acts 26:22-23; et cetera), probably using Daniel 9:25-26 to show the timing of Messiah’s crucifixion, and how it matched with the time of Jesus’ death (proving that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, for He fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy on time). Paul then proceeded to preach to Israel how her now-rejected Messiah had gone to the Gentiles through his ministry, and was now doing something separate from her prophetic program. This was how Paul’s ministry to Israel operated in the book of Acts. The book of Acts confirms that Paul never offered Israel her kingdom, so Paul could not have been saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom. He could not have preached a Gospel that had not saved him. Paul did not preach the Gospel of the Kingdom because his ministry was completely separate from that message and program.

In Galatians 1:15-16, Paul writes, “[15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:…” In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul wrote, “And last of all he [the resurrected Jesus Christ] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” Paul was not a part of Israel or her program. God “killed” Israel, as one would take the life of a pregnant woman, and He delivered her unborn child, in this case, Saul of Tarsus (Paul). (Look at the “stillborn” birth Job longed for in Job 3:16, “Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been….”). Again, Paul could not have been saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom, for its program had begun to diminish by Acts 9 (the time of Paul’s salvation).

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 12:31-32: “[31] Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. [32] And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Saul/Paul encouraged the murder of Stephen, and he was guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. After all, Jewish Saul was leading the world’s rebellion against Jesus Christ (Acts 7:57-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-5; Acts 22:3-7; Acts 26:9-11; et cetera). Paul wrote that he was a “blasphemer” in 1 Timothy 1:13. Paul was saved, but he blasphemed against the Holy Spirit! How was Paul saved? He could not be saved in Israel’s program, for it would contradict Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31-32. Nevertheless, God opened our Dispensation of Grace, a program separate from Israel’s program, in Acts 9, and saved Saul/Paul. Saul/the Apostle Paul could only be saved if God interrupted Israel’s program with a new program. Paul was saved in our dispensation, not in Israel’s program. A new dispensation was in effect in Acts 9, so a new gospel had to also be in effect in Acts 9 beginning with Saul. Refer to the previous paragraph.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:13-16: “[13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul’s salvation is a “pattern” for every person who would believe on Jesus Christ after he did in Acts 9. “That in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Something new began at Paul’s salvation in Acts 9. Paul was the “first.” The first of what? The only sensible answer is the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. He was the first individual to be saved apart from Israel’s program. There had to have been a new program in Acts 9, otherwise Paul could not be saved (go back to our comments about Matthew 12:31-32). Paul’s salvation is our “pattern.” Are we saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom? No, then according to 1 Timothy 1:15-16, neither was Paul. Paul was saved the same way we are: Paul was saved by the Gospel of the Grace of God, the same Gospel by which we are saved today.

Paul declared in Acts 26:15-17, repeating what happened in Acts 9: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,”

Paul saw “things” in Acts 9—note, the plural word. He did not simply see the ascended Lord Jesus, He saw at least some of the grace doctrines. Remember, Jesus Christ even said He would appear to him in the future and show him additional revelations (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:1). Based on our previous statements, we know that Paul had the Gospel of Grace in Acts 9, for by it he was saved. Remember, in Acts 13, he was preaching salvation by faith without law and forgiveness right now through Jesus Christ (verses 38-39)—that message would not be valid in Israel’s program. At least some of the mysteries for the Dispensation of Grace were revealed to Paul in Acts 9, right on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:16)—he did not learn everything in Acts 9, but some “things” were revealed to him.

Paul considered himself to be a member of the Church the Body of Christ. The rapture of the Church the Body of Christ does not involve Israel or her prophetic program. No believer in the Gospel of the Kingdom had the hope of the rapture; believers in the Gospel of the Kingdom were part of Israel’s program, and they had to endure the Tribulation as Jesus taught in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Paul had a hope to be included with the members of the Church the Body of Christ at the rapture. He says “we” not “you” throughout 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18—Paul included himself in the rapture, which is exclusively Body of Christ doctrine (verses 15,17). In fact, Paul said, “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13)—Paul did not use the pronoun, “you,” meaning he included himself in the Body of Christ. Paul talked about God blessing us with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)—this is the Body of Christ doctrine, and when he wrote that God “blessed us with all spiritual blessings,” he included himself. “For we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30)—Paul included himself in the Body of Christ.

The consistent testimony of the Scriptures does not support Paul being saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom. In fact, we can clearly see from the Bible that Paul was saved by the Gospel of the Grace of God, the same Gospel by which we are saved today. Even as early Acts 15 (cf. Galatians 2), Israel’s apostles admitted that Paul had a special Gospel committed to his trust, a Gospel separate and distinct from the Gospel of the Kingdom that the 12 apostles of Israel preached (Galatians 2:7). Again, Paul never preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. Those who say otherwise are simply not reading and believing these plain and simple verses.

Also see:
» When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?
» When did the Dispensation of Grace begin?
» Did the Body of Christ begin in Acts 2?