by Jim Jester
Scripture Reading: Acts 22:1-21, Paul’s defense at Jerusalem.
Revised June 2014
There are certain writers on the Internet who discredit Paul as being a genuine apostle. I prepared this message because I felt like the accusations against Paul need to be answered for the benefit of others who come across such criticism. Some people have dropped out of church fellowship because of these anti-Paul claims. Paul knew about the machinations of our enemy and warned us about their fables.
There are those who take the position that Paul was not a true apostle and cannot be trusted because he was against the Law of God. These people thus viewing Paul as an antinomian theologian have misconstrued some of Paul’s statements regarding the law as being “abolished” or “done away.” They say his writings conflict with the plain statements of Jesus in the gospels. Such as:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? (John 7:19)
But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed (John 7:49).
In the above verses, Jesus is speaking to, or about, the Jews. The Jews prided themselves as keepers of the Law. We know that Judah (the southern kingdom) had been more faithful to the Law than Israel (northern kingdom) had. Yet, we see that Jesus said, “this people who know not the law are cursed.” In other words, they did not keep it in the proper way nor recognized its true intent and they even added their own alterations to the Law. By “fulfill” in the above quote means, “to explain to its highest meaning or intent.”
Let us examine some of Paul’s statements and then look at other evidence in favor of Paul as being a legitimate apostle.
To the Romans (10:4), “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Notice he did not say there was a total end of the law, period, but an end of the law concerning righteousness or justification.
John Wesley commented on this verse: “For Christ is the end of the law - The scope and aim of it. It is the very design of the law, to bring men to believe in Christ for justification and salvation. And He alone gives that pardon and life which the law shows the want of, but cannot give.”
Adam Clarke explains: “Where the law ends, Christ begins. The law ends with representative sacrifices; Christ begins with the real offering. The law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ; it cannot save, but it leaves us at His door, where alone salvation is to be found. Christ as an atoning sacrifice for sin was the grand object of the whole sacrificial code of Moses; his passion and death were the fulfillment of its great object and design. Separate this sacrificial death of Christ from the law, and the law has no meaning, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins: wherefore the Messiah is represented as saying, Sacrifice and observing thou didst not desire; burnt-offering and sin-offering thou hast not required; then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will; a body hast thou prepared me, Ps. 40:6-7; Heb. 10:4-10; which proves that God never designed that the sacrifices of the law should be considered the atonement for sin, but a type or representative of that atonement; and that the atonement was the sacrifice offered by Christ. Thus, He was the End of the law, in respect to its sacrifices.”
Matthew Henry: “The end [purpose] of the law was to bring men to perfect obedience, and so to obtain justification. This is impossible, by reason of the power of sin and the corruption of nature; but Christ is the end of the law. The law is not destroyed, nor the intention of the lawgiver frustrated, but full satisfaction being made by the death of Christ for our breach of the law, the end is attained, and we are put in another way of justification. Christ is thus the end of the law for righteousness, that is, for justification; but it is only to every one that believeth. Upon our believing, that is, our humble consent to the terms of the gospel, we become interested in Christ's satisfaction, and so are justified through the redemption that is in Jesus. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them (Lev. 18:5). To this he refers likewise, Gal. 3:12, And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
As Paul has said, “Christ is the end of the Law”; the old covenant that was broken by Israel is now a thing of the past. Having this doctrinal foundation established, let us go on to more statements.
To the Galatians (2:16), “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Dr. Luke concurs in Acts 13:39, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Paul concludes in Gal. 3:24-25, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
Clarke: “The law did not teach us the living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, and especially by its sacrifices, it directed us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. This is a beautiful metaphor, and highly illustrative of the apostle’s doctrine.”
To the Colossians (2:13-14), “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it [the law] to His cross.”
So, what is this “handwriting of ordinances” against the Israel people? This is in reference to the past transgressions of Israel under the law (See Romans 3:25); and because of this sinning, God divorced her. Paul brings to mind the handwritten certificate of debt signed by every debtor. This phrase, “handwriting of ordinances,” is reflective of the book that Moses wrote the law upon. This Book of the Law contained part or all of Deuteronomy and had been deposited in the temple at Solomon’s dedication:
“And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, ‘Take this book of the law, and put it in [or “beside the ark”] the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee’” (Deut. 31:24-26).
The list of the laws we had broken stands against us as proof of our sin. The proof of our sin debt was nailed to the cross. Paul did not say the Law was totally destroyed. The law had served its purpose. It revealed our need of Jesus, the kinsman redeemer, and brought us to Him. The ordinances, which once condemned us in the past, were nailed to the cross with the One who forgave us.
Additionally, this “handwriting of ordinances” is a figure of speech (one of four used by Paul). One cannot build a doctrine (of an abolished Law) on a lone figure of speech. Paul says in another epistle, “Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:30-31). This is Paul’s plain pronouncement in support of God’s Law as a whole – just the opposite of what some persecutors of Paul claim.
To the Hebrews (7:18-19) “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did [make something perfect]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
The Law could not make us perfect, but as a mirror, it shows us the dirt. Only the indwelling Spirit can clean up our life by starting on the inside with the motivation of a pure heart. And, that makes us perfect (in God’s eyes).
Further back in this chapter of Hebrews we read (verse 11-12): “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Further, we read in Hebrews chapter 10 (1-12):
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.
So there is an end of the Law, a fulfillment if you will, because of Christ. And, there was a change made. The priesthood was changed and so was the Law. The First was taken away and the Second was established. The old covenant (remember, the Law was our covenantal agreement) is gone, and the new covenant has taken its place. Is there Law in the new covenant? We shall certainly see that there is.
The Law in the New Covenant
We now know that the Law was not totally destroyed, for it is included as a part of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (see Luke 22:20). Let us delve into the Law just a bit. From Dake’s Notes we have:
Twenty facts about the 10 commandments [abridged]:
- The term “Ten Commandments” is found only three times in Scripture.
- The Ten Commandments are a summary of the whole Law of Moses in the same sense that “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” as taught by Jesus.
- They are the only part of the Law of Moses spoken by God’s audible voice to Israel.
- They were not known to Adam. He had only one law and sin was imputed to him and the whole race for breaking it. There was no need to command Adam to honor father and mother when he had none; to command him not to commit adultery when there was no one to commit it with; or to command him not to steal when he owned all things and had no neighbors.
- The 10 commandments were not known to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the other fathers of Israel before Sinai. The commands to Abraham and his seed were 14 in number, besides the laws of human government handed down from Noah. The laws in Israel before the Sinai commandments were the 184 commands given to Moses up to that time, and not the 10 commandments.
- They were not known in Israel before Sinai.
- They are found only in the Law of Moses.
- They are not the only commandments of Moses. There were 203 others given to him before the 10 on Sinai; and 155 were given to him at the same time he received the 10. Later, others were added to the book of the Law of Moses.
- The Ten Commandment were called “The Covenant” because they were the sum and basis of the entire contract between God and Israel. They were not the whole of the Law of God and of Moses, but merely the first part of the contract that was spoken by God with His voice.
- The Ten Commandments were given, along with the rest of the Law of God and Moses, to Israel only.
- The Ten Commandments as such, were not kept by the early Christians as some teach. Only 9 of the 10 became a part of the N.T. program, the 4th commandment concerning the Sabbath being omitted entirely from the new covenant.
- The Ten Commandments were not passed on verbally from father to son before Sinai, as some teach. There is no Scripture that hints of such.
- They are the only part of the Law of God and Moses that was written on the two tables of stone, and the only part that was emphasized by Paul as being “abolished” and “done away.”
- They were given at the same time as the so-called ceremonial laws were given.
- The Bible recognizes the 10 commandments as the “law of Moses” as well as the “Law of God.”
- Christ and the Apostles spoke of the 10 commandments as part of the Law of Moses.
- They are declared by other Bible writers to have been written by Moses as part of his law.
- They are spoken of as “the covenant” God made with Moses and Israel. Moses took the book of the covenant (which included the 10 and 115 other commands) and dedicated it.
- The One Law of God and Moses is not divided into a “moral law” (as some call the 10 commandments) and a “ceremonial law” (as they call the ordinances, statutes, and judgments) – one written on tables of stone and the other in a book.
- The Ten Commandments are not the only ones referred to when the word “commandment” or “commandments” is used in Scripture.
So with all the Commandments of God adopted into the New Covenant it is clear that the Laws of God are still valid, but not for our justification (as Paul made clear). They are for our personal lives as we are to walk as our Savior walked. They are also the governing principles for the kingdom of God on Earth.
The Ten Commandments in the New Covenant (also from Dake; abridged)
- Ex. 20:3 “No other gods before Me” with Mk. 12:30 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
- Ex. 20:4-6 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” with Acts 15:20, “we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols….” Ro. 2:22, “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?” I Cor. 10:7 “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Also, in verse 14, the command “Flee from idolatry.”
- Ex. 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” with Lu. 12:10, “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him that blasphemes against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.” Col. 3:8, “But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
- Ex. 20:8-11 is not commanded in the N.C. for many reasons. The N.T. Scriptures command absolute freedom from any obligation to the old Sabbath.
- Ex. 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother” with Mt. 15:4, “Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death.” Mk. 10:19, “You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor your father and mother.” Eph. 6:2, “Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise.”
- Ex. 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill.” with Mt. 5:21 “You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” Ro. 13:9, “For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Ex. 20:14 “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” with Mt. 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Gal. 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness….”
- Ex. 20:15 “Thou shalt not steal.” with Mt. 19:18, “He said to him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal…” Ro. 2:21, “You therefore which teach another, teach you not yourself? you that preach a man should not steal, do you steal?” Eph. 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more.”
- Ex. 20:16 “Thou shalt not bear false witness…” with Mt. 15:19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…”.
- Ex. 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet…” with Lk. 12:15 “And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness…” I Cor. 6:10 “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Eph. 5:5 “For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Heb. 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
So, the N.T. repeats and confirms the Law of God. These verses are only in part: there are a total of 37 (according to Weiland) reaffirmations of the Law in the New Covenant.
Finis Dake gives us ten reasons why the 4th commandment (on the Sabbath) was not included in the New Covenant.
- Neither God nor Christ made it a part of the new covenant. If they had it would be somewhere in the N.T. as the other 9 are.
- Of all the words of Jesus on earth only 4 references are made of the Sabbath. He merely taught that it was lawful to do good on this day and that no day is lord of man. He did not once command any particular observance of any definite day.
- The old Sabbath was part of the contract between God and Israel and a token and sign of that covenant. That old covenant was broken by Israel and God even divorced Israel, thus ending the relationship.
- The 4th commandment was the only one of the ten that was a ceremonial, not a moral law. Its sole purpose was to commemorate the deliverance from Egyptian bondage when Israel had no rest (Du. 5:15). It was only a type of future and eternal rest (Col. 2:14-17, Heb. 4:1-11, 10:1). It was natural for it to be left out of the new contract when the reality of rest came of which it was a shadow (Mt. 11:28-29, Col. 2:14-17). The physical and spiritual benefits of a rest day can be realized on any other day as well as on Saturday.
- The 4th commandment was the only one that could degenerate into a mere form without affecting the morals of men. All others concern moral obligations.
- God foretold and promised He would do away with the old Sabbath (Hos. 2:11, Isa. 1:10-15).
- The prophets predicted that God would abolish the old and make a new covenant (Isa. 42:6, 49:8, 59:21, Jer. 31:31-40, 32:37-44, Ez. 36:24-38). That this referred to in the N.T. is clear in Rom. 11:25-29, Heb. 8:8-12, 10:16-18, Mt. 26:28.
- In no passage is it stated that men should keep the old Sabbath to commemorate the old creation rest. It was to commemorate deliverance from Egypt. This is what they were to “remember” (Ex. 20:8).
- It is the only commandment that could be and has been broken without breaking a moral law. Israel marched on that day; set up the tabernacle; searched Canaan; and made war. David and others broke it and were blameless (Mt. 12:2-5).
- The N.T. permits Christians to keep any day as the Sabbath, it being one of the doubtful things not covered by commandment in the new covenant. The day early Christians observed, by choice, was the first day, Sunday (Jn. 20:1, 19, 20:7, 1Cor. 16:2).
We also realize that with the changing of the calendar from B.C. to A.D. (Anno Domini: the year of our Lord), it is mathematically impossible to keep the original Sabbath.
Other Evidence in Favor of Paul
Paul’s support of the Law in Romans 2:13-15a, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the gentiles (comparing Judeans with others), which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves: Which show the work of the law [as James portrays] written in their hearts.”
This is in harmony with Deuteronomy 30:6 (which Jesus Christ alluded to, and known as the Great commandment), “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.”
Paul’s support of the Law in Romans 6:18, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
Paul speaks of being a servant of righteousness, and no longer a servant of sin. Surely, this is not living a life without the law. Living a life of holiness is proof of support of God’s Law. Paul speaks this way throughout the N.T., which proves he did not advocate a life without the law of God.
The great news is that we now have the power through the Spirit of God to withhold our bodies from the deeds of sin. To not be under the law has reference to personal salvation and justification. It has nothing to do with the validity of the law or the effects of our violating that law as individuals and as a nation. The law is still valid. The results of violating the law are all the same. We have been removed from the curse of the law, which was death and exclusion from the covenant. – Commentary on Romans, Everett Ramsey, p. 121
Many in the modern church have misunderstood the phrase “not under the law”. They think because they are “under grace” that somehow grace can function in their life without law. This is nonsense and ridiculous! Paul is simply saying that we are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to respond in obedience to the Law of God. Grace is overlooking our failures to follow the Law, and God now forgives us because we appear before Him implanted in (the body of) Christ. And because we have corrected (repentance) our life, grace can be extended to us by forgiving our past transgressions (Romans 3:25). When we say we are not under the law, we say it with the understanding that we are simply living above it. By way of illustration: I may be travelling under the jurisdiction of the speed limit law, but if I am within the limit then I am not under the condemnation of that law. So, not being condemned by it, I am actually living above that law, not below it. Paul confirms this:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God: Not of works [law], lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The context of this and all of the N.T. is that Paul advocating living a holy life. That certainly is not living a Christian life without the Law of God. Paul concludes, and then asks a question in Romans 6:14-15, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then, shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid!”
Paul suffered persecution of the Jews:
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us (I Thessalonians 2:14-18).
Paul acknowledged that the Thessalonian church had been persecuted, just as he had by the Jews: “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). He must have been on the right track.
Paul refers to himself as a slave (See Romans 1:1). Now how many important people or key leaders will refer to themselves as slaves? Not many. Most of today’s church leaders lack this humility.
Of great significance, the other Apostles fellowshipped with Paul:
And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision (Galatians 2:9).
In verse six of this chapter, Paul does not deny the authority of the other apostles, but claims the same authority because he also received the gospel and his commission from the risen Christ. The words “added nothing” means that the other apostles did not require Paul to make any changes to his understanding of the gospel.
The Book of James does not contradict Paul. It is a very practical book – a wisdom book, much like the book of Proverbs. James deals with our relationship with our fellow man. He addresses hypocrisy with the words “faith without works is dead.” Some have made the mistake in viewing James’ emphasis on works as contradicting Paul’s emphasis on justification by faith alone. James’ position, however, is not an attack on salvation by faith; it is a protest against hypocrisy. He wants the world to know that faith is a transforming force, and results in holy living. This does not contradict Paul’s teaching – it complements it.
Peter approves of Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16):
And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
Peter approves of Paul’s letters, and equates them with the “other Scriptures.” What Scriptures? The O.T. Scriptures, of course.
Those who reject Paul then, are in the words of Peter, “unlearned and unstable.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This includes Paul’s epistles as well as the rest of the Bible.
Luke Supports Paul (2 Timothy 4:10-11): “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…. Only Luke is with me.”
It is probable that he was a physician in Troas, and was there converted by Paul, to whom he attached himself. He accompanied him to Philippi, but did not there share his imprisonment, nor did he accompany him further after his release in his missionary journey at this time (Acts 17:1). On Paul's third visit to Philippi (20:5, 6) we again meet with Luke, who probably had spent all the intervening time in that city, a period of seven or eight years. From this time Luke was Paul's constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem (20:6-21:18). He again disappears from view during Paul's imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only reappears when Paul sets out for Rome (27:1), whither he accompanies him (28:2, 12-16), and where he remains with him till the end of his first imprisonment (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14). The last notice of the ‘beloved physician’ is in 2 Tim. 4:11. – Easton’s Dictionary
Let’s turn to Acts 21:17-40, where Dr. Luke is speaking:
“And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews [Judeans] there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee [Paul], that thou teachest all the Jews [Judeans] which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. [So Paul had his accusers.] What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing [lies]; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. [Does this not sound very similar to what happened to our Lord Jesus?] And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew [Judahite] of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,”
Thus, Paul starts his defense to the people of Jerusalem.
We also see in Acts chapter 19 that “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul” (v. 11). And, the testimony of the “evil spirit” in verse 15 was, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” The demon equated Paul with Jesus.
The book of Acts covers many things about Paul including his conversion. I shall not cover all of this information; but in chapter 13 the Holy Spirit testifies (v.2), “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So, the Holy Spirit approves of Paul too.
Finally, our last reference is in Acts chapter 29. How many have heard of this lost chapter (and was it really lost)? There is a manuscript copy of The Acts of the Apostles in the Turkish Archives in Constantinople. It has one more chapter than our English Bibles. Evidence shows that this chapter is indeed the concluding chapter of the book of Acts. It was written in Greek and in the same style as Acts. Out of curiosity, I looked into my Wesley Study Bible to see if there were any clues regarding this. Sure enough, here is what it said in the Summary of Acts:
“In one generation, the Good News had reached the most influential places in the Roman Empire: Caesarea, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, and even Rome – almost the ‘end of the earth’ of that day (see 1:8). We wish Luke had told us the rest of Paul’s story. Perhaps Acts was written at this time and Luke knew no more than he wrote. Some surmise that Luke was martyred before he finished this account. Perhaps he fulfilled his purpose in writing by showing the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles and the arrival of its most distinguished preacher in the capital of the world.” [emphasis mine]
So the editors of the Wesley Study Bible felt like the book of Acts was left hanging without a real conclusion. We now know that the Apostles did reach the end of the known world because chapter 29 tells us that Paul did go to Spain (where Paul said he was going, Rom. 15:28), and Britain, the “isles afar off.” We also know that Luke did finish his story with chapter 29.
Verse 6 of this chapter says, “And Paul preached mightily in Spain and great multitudes believed and were converted, for they perceived he was an apostle sent from God.” So these converts considered Paul to be real – not a fake apostle.
Further, in verses 9-10 of Acts 29, we read,
"And on the morrow he came and stood upon Mount Lud; and the people thronged at the gate, and assembled in the Broadway, and he preached Christ unto them, and many believed the word and the testimony of Jesus. And at even the Holy Ghost fell upon Paul and he prophesied saying, “Behold in the last days the God of Peace shall dwell in the cities, and the inhabitants thereof shall be numbered; and in the seventh numbering of the people, their eyes shall be opened, and the glory of their inheritance shine forth before them. And nations shall come up to worship on the Mount that testifieth of the patience and long suffering of a servant of the Lord.”
That servant was Paul, and this prophecy has come to pass; for on this hill where Paul preached, stands today, St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London.
If we were to incriminate Paul then we would also have to incriminate Peter (who equated his writings with all Scripture), Luke (His traveling companion & author of Acts), James, and John, perhaps leaving only Jude and Matthew. In defending Paul, I found I have actually defended the New Covenant. Think about it: if we were to eliminate the works of Paul (Rom. 1&2 Cor. Gal. Eph. Phil. Col. 1&2 Thes. 1&2 Tim. Tit. Phi. Heb.), or his associates (Peter, Luke, James, and John), there would not be much left of the New Testament portion of our Bible (probably only Matthew and Jude). Most of the doctrinal foundations of the historic Christian faith would be gone. Surely if Paul were a fraud, some of the Reformers or the Pilgrims would have discovered it. However, neither Luther, Calvin, Beza, Arminius, nor a host of church founders, have questioned the authenticity of Paul’s writings. The Jews would be perfectly happy with discrediting Paul, and of course, they would love to throw out the whole N.T. because they hate it and our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have seen that other writers of N.T. Scripture approved of Paul. They all knew each other; and Paul certainly had to prove himself having persecuted the church. And, it appears that he did. If Paul’s writings are eliminated, are we to eliminate the others as well? We also see that Paul lived an exemplary Christian life. Notice how he stressed the importance of not being covetous just as Jesus did. He exemplified humility, so why would Paul covet apostleship if God did not call him. We can also see that Paul was often in trouble with the Jews just as Jesus was. What more evidence do we need that Paul was called by God to be an apostle? Therefore, his epistles are valid Scripture. To be consistent, if you discard Paul, then you discard all.