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The Call of Saul of Tarsus
by John H. Essex


 
 

The episode described for us in the ninth chapter of Acts is, in itself, dramatic. Even apart from its context—that is, were we to regard it as a single, isolated incident—it would arrest our attention. But in the light of its context, and in particular in the light of its relationship to the whole of the purpose of God, as revealed in the Scriptures, it becomes something far more than a mere incident. Here was a man, breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, suddenly halted in his designs, and so transformed as to be described as ‘a choice instrument' of Jesus, whose whole life would henceforth be devoted to the One Whom he had persecuted, and would, in fact, become a pattern for all who would afterwards believe on Jesus for life eonian (1 Tim. 1:16).

As a background to a fascinating study of the call of Saul of Tarsus, let us look first at some features of the Divine purpose which seem to have a bearing on the matter, and relate them to the conditions which obtained in Israel in the period immediately prior to this wonderful event.

Let us then go right back to the opening chapter of Genesis and there, in verse 28, we find that God's first action, after creating humanity, was to bless His creation. How supremely important to realise that, in His first dealings with man, God appeared as a God of blessing. And in so far as this blessing is linked with a positive command to Adam to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, it is clear that this initial blessing was intended to cover all mankind. A similar blessing was bestowed upon Noah and his sons, as the progenitors of the race after the deluge, as we read in Gen. 9:1.

But apart from these initial blessings bestowed upon the fathers of our race, we do not find further evidence of God's intentions to bless any of their posterity until suddenly, in Genesis 12 and subsequent chapters, we are introduced to Abram (Abraham), and learn that in him and in his seed God would bless all nations and all families of the earth. We need not quote the familiar passages, but they confirm that God's intention is indeed to bless, and that all are included in His ultimate blessing. Also they show us through whom this happy result would be obtained. The seed of Abraham was to be the channel of blessing. Later the promises to Abraham were confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob, whose twelve sons formed the roots of the nation of Israel.

As we pass rapidly through the many books of the Hebrew scriptures, we can trace the growth and development of this nation, whether favourable or otherwise, and we find frequent references, both direct and indirect to a coming Leader, a Prophet greater than Moses. He was to be of Royal rank, of the tribe of Judah, of the line of David, Who would sit on David's throne, and establish a kingdom. As soon as this was revealed, the hopes of the Jews (and, had they but known it, of the Gentiles, too) were centred in the setting up of this Kingdom. In the reign of David and Solomon, Israel reached a zenith of glory, but this was only a pointer to the real King, a greater son of David than Solomon could ever be. In the miracles performed by the prophets, notably by Elijah and Elisha, were to be seen foretastes, but only foretastes, of greater miracles which were to be achieved by that greater Prophet, when the Kingdom should actually be set up. In the cleansing of Naaman, the Syrian, was a hint of the healing blessings which would be extended to the Gentiles when once the Kingdom was established.

Need we wonder that the expectations of the Jews were in the setting up of this Kingdom, when they, as natural children of Abraham, would, they thought, be both the recipients and the dispensers of God's favours? Need we wonder that, when the Lord actually came, all men, among the Jews, were in expectation of Him? (Luke 3:15).

Jesus came as their Messiah, their King. At the very outset of His ministry, He was recognised as such by Nathaniel, as we read in John 1:49. "Rabbi", exclaimed Nathaniel, "Thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!" The continual burden of Jesus' ministry, both in speech and action, was, "The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near." He taught the truths of the Kingdom in His parables; He demonstrated its powers in His miracles (signs). It was not by accident that His first sign was the turning of water into wine at Cana. It is wine that maketh glad the heart of man, as the Psalmist tells us, and the power to change the water into wine was the sign that Jesus gave the Jews that He, as the true Vine, was competent to fill their hearts with the joy and gladness that could only come with the Kingdom.

During the next few years He continued His miracles—feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead. But He went much farther than this. He chose those who were to be in authority in His Kingdom—who, as He later revealed, were to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the moment the circle of twelve was complete, He invested them also with powers to preach and to heal, as we read in Matthew 10.

Although Jesus and His disciples confined their preaching and healing almost entirely to Israel, there were occasions when these blessings were extended to the Gentiles, as in the case of the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, who was a Greek, and the servant of the centurian, who was a Roman. Yes, indeed had the Jews only accepted the King when He came, the Kingdom could have been set up, and the blessings promised to Abraham might have flowed to the nations.

The kingdom was rejected, as Jesus knew it would be. But what was the immediate cause of this rejection, and the consequent thwarting of Israel's hopes, and the postponement of blessings to mankind? It was the leadership and teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, the so-called learned men of the day, the very ones who should have been welcoming the Kingdom. In His denunciation of them in Matthew 23, Jesus puts His finger on the seat of the trouble, when, in verse 13, He says, "Now, woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Seeing that you are locking the kingdom of the heavens in front of men! For you are not entering, neither are you letting those entering to be entering."

What a responsibility rested on the shoulders of those scribes and Pharisees! And was there ever a greater denunciation of a class of people than that given by the Lord in this chapter? Read it through, verse by verse, and then remember that at that time, although probably not among those who had come into contact with the Lord, although he had certainly studied at Jerusalem under Gamaliel, was a young Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, perhaps twenty to twenty-five years of age, acquiring all the characteristics of his sect in a city of Cilesia known as Tarsus.

And truly Saul was a citizen of no mean city, for Tarsus at that time was the chief seat of learning in the world, surpassing, according to the geographer Strabo, both "Athens and Alexandria and every other place that can be mentioned." Although students flocked to her schools from other lands, her teachers were all natives; she had no need of alien instructors. On the contrary, she had no room for the multitude of her learned sons, and sent them abroad to enlighten the world, Rome especially being "full of Tarsians." It was in such an atmosphere of culture and learning that Saul spent the early years of his life, and acquired that mastery of logic and argument which is such a feature of some of his later writings.

But the Scriptures do not yet introduce us to Saul. That must come presently.

Part 2

For the moment, let us go back to Jesus. The Pharisees had often considered how they might put Him to death, and when they received the offer of Judas, one of His disciples, to betray Him, they gladly accepted it. We all know the sequel, and, for the moment, it seemed as though the triumph of the Pharisees was complete. Their accuser was dead, and humiliated, so it seemed, by that terrible form of death, crucifixion. This One, Who had called Himself, "King of the Jews" was a king no more. He could not save Himself. He had been challenged to come down from the cross, and had not responded. Where was the kingdom of the heavens about which He had talked so much?

And how were His disciples faring at this time? Were they continuing their miracles and their preaching? Alas, no! The moment that their circle of twelve was broken by the defection of Judas, a dramatic change came over them. They, who had been so bold in the preaching of the Kingdom, and at whose word demons had been cast out, were all now filled with fear, so that they forsook Him and fled. Not one remained to support Him in His greatest trial. Not only that, but the lips of one of their leaders — the one to whom had been committed they keys of this very Kingdom — were fouled with oaths and with cursings, and with a treble denial of the Master Himself. In this supreme crisis, Jesus stood alone, except for the sustaining power of His Father, and, for a brief agonising moment, before giving up His spirit on the cross, He felt Himself forsaken even by God. And yet He could pray, "Father, forgive them, for they are not aware what they are doing." By this prayer, he opened up the way for the re-offer of the Kingdom.

But by now the disciples were disconsolate. Their despair is reflected in the words of the two who were joined by a stranger on the way to Emmaus, "We expected that He is the One about to be redeeming Israel." Little knew they, until the stranger revealed Himself, that He was indeed the risen Lord. For the triumph of the Pharisees was short-lived. On the third day, Jesus had been roused from the dead by the mighty power of God, and He spent the period between His resurrection and His ascension in comforting His disciples.

We now find ourselves at the commencement of the book of Acts. The Kingdom is still in the thoughts of the disciples, for, in Acts 1:6, they ask the Lord, "Art Thou at this time restoring the Kingdom to Israel?" Jesus did not answer them directly, but promised that they should be obtaining power again at the coming of the holy spirit on them, and that they should be His witnesses in Jerusalem, as well as in entire Judea and Samaria, and to the limits of the land.

But before power could be restored to them, it was essential that the perfect number of twelve be completed, and so Matthias was chosen by lot to fill the place of Judas Iscariot. This is described for us in Acts 1:26, and the very next verses tell us of the coming of the holy spirit, and with it the gifts of tongues in addition to the powers previously possessed. How bold are the disciples now! And what a time of rejoicing is this for them! For the Kingdom has again drawn near; yes, it is even at the doors. Peter, with a full heart, declares that this manifestation of the holy spirit is actually that which was referred to by the prophet Joel, when he spoke of the last days that were to precede the advent of the Lord.

Can we not imagine the joy of the apostles at this time? Their ministry was bearing its fruit daily before their eyes. In one day alone, three thousand souls were baptised (Acts. 2:41). Many miracles were performed, as when the Lord Himself had been with them. In the healing at the temple gate of the lame man, who had been infirm for forty years, was a sign to Israel, could they but see it, of the advent of One Who could heal their own impotence, and bring them, like the lame man, into God's house, and fill them with joy and praise. It signified the end of Gentile yoke, the sovereignty of Israel over the nations, the coming of Messiah, and a thousand blessings for a thousand years. (See C.V. Commentary on Acts 3:2).

No wonder that Peter could speak of the seasons of refreshing which might come from the face of the Lord if the nation would only repent. No wonder that he could talk about the times of restoration of all, and that he could remind the people (in Acts. 3:25) that they were the sons of the Covenant, which God made when He said to Abraham, "In your seed shall all kindreds of the earth be blessed."

We stated at the beginning that God was a God of blessing, and that His ultimate desire was to bless all families of the earth. Then surely these blessings could now begin to flow; they had been so long awaited. But no. Then what hindered them? Again, the attitude of the leaders of the Jews, the Chief priests and the Pharisees. And among the latter, now come back to Jerusalem, was one Saul of Tarsus.

Part 3

We Find the first mention of Saul in Acts 7, after we have previously been introduced to Stephen, who, along with six others (one of whom was Philip), was chosen by the ecclesia to serve at tables, but who seems to have taken a great part in the spread of the kingdom evangel. We have no space here to go into a detailed account of the ministry of Stephen, but we remember that eventually false witnesses brought charges against him, which caused him to appear before the Sanhedrin. There he gave the memorable defence recorded in Acts 7, but it only incited his enemies to seek his death, and he was eventually taken outside the gates of the city and stoned. According to the law of Moses, in Deuteronomy 17, the witnesses of which there must be at least two, had to throw the first stones. They stripped themselves to do this, and handed their clothes into the custody of someone who was officiating at the stoning. On this occasion, they put their garments "at the feet of a young man called Saul", and the first verse of Acts 8 tells us plainly that Saul was endorsing Stephen's assassination.

We are reminded here of the Lord's parable of the nobleman, who went to a far country to seek a kingdom and to return. Stephen was the messenger sent after the nobleman with the message, "We will not have this man (Jesus) to reign over us." (Luke 19:12-14). But we are also reminded of Jesus' own words in Matthew 23, at the conclusion of His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees. Reading from verse 33:—

"Serpents! Progeny of vipers! How may you be fleeing from the judgement of Gehenna? Therefore, lo! I am despatching to you prophets and wise men and scribes. Of them, some you will be killing and crucifying, and of them, some you will be scourging in your synagogues and persecuting from city to city, so that on you should be coming all the just blood shed on the earth, from the blood of just Abel to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom you murder between the temple and the altar. Verily, I am saying to you: All these things will be arriving on this generation."

This generation, which was to last for forty years, was far more guilty than any of its predecessors, for it sinned against the light of the sign and miracles which were, or should have been, obvious evidences of the identity of the King and the nearness of the kingdom. The men who condemned and crucified Christ, and who condemned and put to death Stephen and many of his contemporaries, were not only killing them, but, in God's sight, were killing all before them, for it was quite clear that only the distance of time prevented them from doing this. Saul of Tarsus, as a Pharisee, was directly accountable to God for the death of Stephen, and also for the deaths of many others to the saints. For does not he himself tell us, in Acts 22:4, "I persecuted those of this way to death, binding and giving up men as well as women to jail." And again, in Acts 26:10, he says, "And many of the saints, besides, I locked up in jails, obtaining authority from the chief priests. Besides I deposited a ballot to dispatch them", that is, to put them to death. "And at all the synagogues, often punishing them, I compelled them to blaspheme. Besides, being exceedingly maddened against them, I persecuted them as far as the outside cities." Is not this a direct fulfilment of Jesus' words? "And some of them" He had said, "you will be scourging in your synagogues, and persecuting from city to city."

But let us continue our reading of Matthew 23. In verse 37, Jesus proceeds,

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and pelting with stones those who have been dispatched to her. How many times I want to be assembling your children in the manner a hen is assembling her brood under her wings, and ye will not! Lo! Your house is left to you desolate, for I am saying to you, You may be no means be perceiving Me henceforth till you should be saying, ‘Blessed is He Who is coming in the name of the Lord!'"

By the pelting of Stephen with stones, the Jews –as far as Jerusalem itself was concerned – finally rejected the kingdom for that generation, and cancelled the reprieve which had been obtained by our Lord's prayer on the cross. And the one who endorsed the assassination, and prevented the King from returning to His capital, was Saul of Tarsus. No wonder the Lord's first words to him were, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And no wonder that Saul later described himself as the foremost of sinners!

Part 4

Following the death of Stephen, we read, in Acts 8:1, that there was a great persecution of the ecclesia, and Saul is depicted as being the cause of this devastation, even going into homes, and dragging out men and women, and giving them over to jail. And in Acts 9:1, we find him still breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, and making preparations for his terrible journey to Damascus. But between these two paragraphs, like a ray of sunlight shining through the storm clouds, we find an account of an entirely different character. The greater part of Acts 8 is devoted to the ministry of Philip, and what an opposite work is this to that of Saul! Philip was building up the ecclesia, and this chapter is surely included at this particular place in the Divine Word in order to throw emphasis, by way of contrast, on the despoiling nature of Saul's activities.

It is in the journey of Philip to meet the Ethiopian eunuch that we find the greatest disparity between his experiences and those of Saul as he journeyed to Damascus. Can we imagine a more serene and peaceful mission than that of Philip? Let us compare it with Saul's journey, and note the striking contrasts.

It was not by accident that they started in opposite directions from Jerusalem—nothing in God's purpose comes about by accident. Philip's southward journey took him to the quiet and solitude of the wilderness, yet remained within the confines of the land of promise; Saul went outside the land to the populous city of Damascus. Philip went alone, except for the companionship of the spirit of God, which directed him; Saul, travelling with human companions, was unacquainted with that spirit, yet, though he knew it not, he was just as surely being directed by the will of God, Who had indeed "made ready beforehand" the experience that was to befall him on the way.

Philip, a former associate of the martyred Stephen, preached Jesus, and was able to speak words of comfort and instruction, and to explain the Scripture. Saul, previously associated in the martyrdom of Stephen, and still intent on persecuting Jesus, could only breathe out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. And when we come to the actual incidents on the respective journeys, we find how utterly different their missions were. Philip was led on by a word form the Lord, which first bade him arise, and then join the eunuch's chariot; Saul was arrested by the voice of the Lord, which stopped him in his tracks, and laid him prostrate on the ground. Philip acted as a guide to the eunuch, whom he baptised; Saul was struck blind, and needed himself to be guided into the city, and to be baptised.

But it was not Philip who was to be the choice instrument of the Lord, to bear His name before the nations as well as kings, besides the sons of Israel. The whole of Philip's subsequent ministry is summarised in one verse of Acts 8, where it is recorded that he "was found in Azotus, and passing through, he preached the evangel in all the cities, till his coming into Caesarea." After that, we have only one brief reference to him in Acts 21:8, where we read that some of the disciples stayed at his house.

Saul's journey to Damascus, however, was only the beginning of many years of travel, covering thousands of miles, and filled with all kinds of experiences and vicissitudes. During these years, he who had been a calumniator and a persecutor and an outrager, and perhaps the greatest obstacle to the free flow of God's blessings—who had certainly, by his association in the murder of Stephen, delayed the fulfilment of God's covenant with Abraham, and the setting up of the Kingdom, for an indefinite period, which has since proved to be nearly two thousand years—who had done more than any man to prevent God's blessings from reaching "all families of the earth"—this one was himself used of God to pass on the news of even greater blessings, the greatest that God has ever designed for members of the human race. Such are the workings of Divine grace, and was there ever a greater recipient of this than Saul of Tarsus? Truly, as Cowper wrote, "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform."

Part 5

Saul himself describes the effect of his own conversion when, as Paul the apostle, he wrote to the Galatians (1:13),

"For you hear of my behaviour once in Judaism, that I inordinately persecuted the ecclesia of God and ravaged it. And I progressed in Judaism above many contemporaries in my race, being inherently exceedingly more zealous for the traditions of my fathers. Now, when it delights God, Who severs me from my mother's womb and calls me through His grace, to unveil His Son in me that I may be evangelising Him among the nations . . . . (v. 23) the ecclesias of Judea . . . were hearing that ‘He who was persecuting us once, now is evangelising the faith which once he ravaged.' And they glorified God in me."

This is a very revealing passage, and explains much of Saul's subsequent ministry. He, who had persecuted Jesus through the ecclesias, now becomes His unveiler. As Saul of Tarsus, he had opposed the return of the King to His capital, and had sought to lock up the kingdom against the Jews; now he was compelled to proclaim both the King and the kingdom, as we read right to the end of the book of Acts. As Saul of Tarsus, he had obstructed the free flow of the blessings promised through Abraham; as Paul the apostle he was compelled to preach the blessings of Abraham. And all this was done that the ecclesias of Judea might glorify God in perceiving this change. But concurrently with his proclamations concerning the kingdom, which ceased altogether at the end of the Acts period, Paul was conducting and developing an entirely different ministry—a ministry which substituted "justification by faith" for the "justification by works" demanded by the kingdom proclamation. We find this in the writings of Paul rather than in any words of his recorded in the book of Acts.

In his letter to the Romans, for example, we find a further development in the great theme of the Conciliation. It is now no longer only a case a Christ dying for sinners, but also of God's Son dying for His enemies. "For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son—" (Rom. 5:10). Surely Paul could appreciate this. Had he not been God's greatest enemy? Let us see what he writes in 1 Timothy 1:12-16.

"I am grateful to Him Who invigorates me, Christ Jesus, our Lord, for He deems me faithful, assigning me a service, I, who formally was a calumniator and a persecutor and an outrager; but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief. Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I. But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian."

God's Son died for God's enemies.

There has never been in the whole history of mankind a greater enemy of God - a greater persecutor of God's people - than Saul of Tarsus. He had an intensity of zeal that turned him into a fanatic. It is the way that God dealt with him, and turned him from an enemy into a friend, that forms the basis of our belief that God will ultimately reconcile all His enemies. For Saul is a "pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian" and God's purpose is that all shall be saved and come to a realisation of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Where is any charge ever laid against Paul on account of his former conduct as Saul of Tarsus?

Here, then, we see the reason for the choice of Saul—that he might be a pattern of those who are about to be believing. If any man had anything in which to glory, Saul had more, but not all the culture and learning of Tarsus or the teaching of that eminent scholar, Gamaliel; not all the advantages conferred upon him by his high Hebrew birth or his free-born Roman citizenship or his standing as a Pharisee; not all his keeping of the law or his fervid zeal in doing what he thought was the will of God—could avail him anything when brought face to face with the risen Lord on the Damascus road. Whereas Stephen had been able to look intently at the Son of Mankind standing at the right hand of God, and had not flinched in his gaze, Saul could not bear the sight of the Lord in His glory, and was both blinded and prostrated. It was as though he were stripped of all his assets in a moment, and, in his extremity, he threw himself upon the Lord, saying, "What shall I be doing?" In due course the Lord told him, and Christ became to him Wisdom from God, besides Righteousness and Holiness and Deliverance, according as it is written, "He who is boasting, in the Lord let him be boasting." (1 Cor. 1:30, 31).

As with Saul, so with us. Saul is our pattern, and sooner or later we travel along that road to Damascus. It is perhaps not by chance that Damascus is the only ancient city of the Scriptures that has not been, at some time or other, more or less destroyed. It was in existence in Abraham's time (that is to say, it pre-dates Israel), and it is still there today, as a reminder of this experience of Saul. We may not be pulled up quite so suddenly as he was, and probably none of us have actually lost our sight or been suddenly prostrated as he was, but we are brought eventually to the point where we realise that all those works in which we once prided ourselves count for nothing as regards our salvation. "For we, too, have been saved in grace, through faith, and this is not out of us; it is God's oblation, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand that we should be walking in them." (Eph. 2:8-10).

Many years, filled with experience, elapsed between Saul's dramatic call on the Damascus road and Paul's writing of these words in Ephesians, but they were all fully in accord with the evangel of the grace of God, which Paul alone proclaimed, and which requires nothing of human effort to effect salvation, but ensures that, in the end, all will be seen to have been God's own achievement.

Part 6

Before concluding our study on the Call of Saul of Tarsus, let us take one step further into the book of Acts, for it links up with what we were considering earlier. It was not long (Acts 12:2) before the circle of twelve apostles of the Kingdom was again broken, this time by the killing of James by Herod, and the number was not restored. The circle will not be made up for the third time until the resurrection of all the sleeping apostles from the dead, and then it will be without possibility of further ,disruption, for the Kingdom will indeed be then present in all its power and splendour.

But what was the effect of the breaking of the circle? Did the remaining eleven members continue their ministry unaffected by the loss of one of their numbers? We find the answer in the experience of Peter, who was thrown into jail. When the apostles had been thrown into prison before, the jail could not hold them. They were released the same night, and the next morning were speaking in the temple as boldly as ever. With that memory still fresh, do we suppose that Peter would sleep on the first night after he was thrown into prison again? But these were the days of unleavened bread, and Herod kept him in prison until after the Passover should be over — two or three days at least. And it was only in the last night that he was released, and, after reporting his deliverance to the disciples gathered in the house of the mother of Mark, he went to a different place. There was no more bold preaching in the temple this time, and we read of no more wonderful miracles being performed by any of the eleven. Instead, we read of a further call to Saul and to Barnabas, for, in Acts 13:2, we read that the holy spirit said, "By all means sever to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

We like the Concordant Commentary on this passage. It reads,

"The severance of Barnabas and Saul by the spirit is the prelude to an entirely new departure in the book of Acts. The commission entrusted to the twelve apostles has been attempted and their testimony rejected. They went to the limits of the land of Israel. Beyond this they did not venture. Jerusalem, in Judea, now gives place to Antioch, outside the land. The message now goes to the dispersion among the nations and to the proselytes and even to the nations themselves, and continues until it becomes manifest that the Jews outside the land refuse the Messiah, even as those in the land have done. This ministry is carried on by an entirely new set of apostles. The twelve have no part in it. Saul, or Paul, as he is now called, takes the place of Peter in this new apostolic group."

The change of name from Saul to Paul is significant. Saul was a Hebrew name, and Paul a Gentile (Greek) one. Saul is invariably called by his Hebrew name until after his severance by the spirit for this special work with Barnabas, when he is equally invariably called Paul. Surely this indicates that his work among his own people is on the decline, and that his most profitable ministry is to be among the nations. Soon Barnabas leaves him, but Paul, undaunted by this seeming reverse, goes on in the strength of the Lord, his ministry triumphing over the almost endless trials and persecutions he was called upon to suffer. As his physical infirmities increased and his liberties were curtailed, so his preaching grew, until, finally, from that sombre prison in Rome, there burst forth the transcendently transcendent glories of the revelations contained in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, where works of the flesh are left far behind, and grace — pure, unadulterated, absolute grace — becomes the sole means of salvation.

It always seems to us that the summit of Divine revelation concerning salvation is given in Ephesians 2:8-10, where works, as performed by humanity, are finally cast aside as useless, and only the works inspired by God, and prepared beforehand by Him to follow salvation, are shown to have any value.

"In grace are you saved, through faith, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them."

Saul must give way to Paul. Saul was the name of the first king of Israel. He was the people's desire, and, to the nation, seemed to be everything that was desirable. He was head and shoulders taller than any other man. But Saul, the people's desire, had to give way to David, the man after God's own heart. Saul's could never be the permanent house of Israel, for he was of the wrong tribe. Centuries before, it had been declared that the sceptre should not depart from Judah (Gen. 49:10). Saul, the King, had to go in order that David might be established.

Similarly, Saul, the Pharisee, must give way to Paul, the apostle of Christ. The transition is described in Philippians 3, where all that the Pharisee stood for — high birth, social standing, attention to the law, all the advantages that the flesh could give — becomes as dross compared with what Christ has to offer. And so works have to go in order that grace may be established, for in grace alone is ultimate salvation to be found.


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