Paul Labored More Abundantly Than the Other Apostles
This is a reply to a comment posted by a certain Vladimir Sputnik on my article entitled Karl Marx’s Unwise Definition of Religion.
Dear Presiding Minister,
Almost 70% of the Russians hate Karl Marx’s ideas. Most Russians are members of Russian Orthodox Christianity therefore majority of us believe in the existence of God. Amen!
Your articles are very informative except for the following which is very confusing:
(1 Corinthians 4:8, 11-13) “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you…” “…Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day.”
(2 Corinthians 12:14-15) “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
Question: >>>>Is it true that he suffered the most & labored more abundantly than any of the apostles? If not, I’m still looking for your added information. If yes, Is it proper for him to claim that he labored more than any of the apostles?
(Romans 12:20) “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
>>>>>>Comment: Is it helping the enemy or insulting the enemy? Well, If it is indeed true that we need to feed the enemy, then why did he uttered the ff words in Galatia:
“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be ACCURSED.” (Gal. 1:9)
……..Feeding an accursed enemy?
“I wish those who unsettle you would MUTILATE themselves” (Galatian 5:12 RSV)
“I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatian 5:12 KJV)
…… to love those enemies in Rome only? Just asking!
Waiting for clarification!
I have a different attitude in reading the Holy Scriptures. I do not doubt the authors (or the penmen) used by God in writing the Scriptures. If there are doubts that come into my mind, my first option is to look into the translation — if it was mistranslated or not; but never did I doubt the authority of these persons used by God to record His holy words. Why? Because I believe in God and His power who guided the penmen of the Bible.
(2 Peter 1:21)
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
(1 Corinthians 14:37)
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”
It is a brotherly advice I am giving you that instead of doubting those who were instrumental in writing the word of God (like the Apostle Paul), search the Scriptures instead, to find the ‘real score’ of the truth.
“Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.”
What the Apostle Paul said that he labored more abundantly than all the other Apostles must not be doubted because our Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicted that some of those who will believe in Him will do greater work because He is going to the Father.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
I never doubted that the Apostle Paul really labored more than the previous Apostles of Christ. He even said that he is augmenting what was ‘wanting’ in what our Lord Jesus Christ did.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…”
While he said that he really labored more than the other Apostles, but credited it to the grace of God in him.
(1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
The records written in the book of Acts by the physician Luke, testifies to the fact. The record shows the extent of the missionary journey and sacrifices of the Apostle Paul. Even the Apostle Peter, James, and John are witnesses to the gifts and the wisdom of the Apostle Paul. That is why they have entrusted to him and Barnabas the management of the larger portion of the first century Church — which is the Church of the Gentiles.
“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
The first twelve Apostles were sent in the beginning of their ministry within the boundaries of Israel; but the authority of the Apostle Paul reaches from Jerusalem as far the Gentiles, and even unto the uttermost part of the earth — including our dispensation and all of the countries of the world now.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The jurisdiction given to the Apostle Paul covers the Jews, the Gentiles, even to kings.
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel…”
And especially to the Gentiles.
“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”
Considering the scope of the jurisdiction given to him, it is but prudent to believe that he labored more than the other Apostles. The verses that you cited in 1 Corinthians 4:8, 11, 13 are not confusing. Paul is speaking of his condition in comparison with the condition of the members of the Church. He is just the opposite of modern day leaders — they are overfed. Members are underfed —even deprived of the precious word of God because of their self interest.
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.”
“For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. Like a basket full of birds, their houses are full of treachery; therefore they have become great and rich, they have grown fat and sleek…”
The Apostle Paul labored with his hand to augment his personal necessities and some of his co-laborers in Christ. He spent what he can — even his own life.
(2 Corinthians 12:15)
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
(2 Corinthians 12:14-15)
“Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
He, surely, is the opposite of religious leaders today who covet money they spend for their vices, from their member’s pockets.
PAUL, INSULTING HIS ENEMIES?
You cited Romans 12:20, which states…
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
…and asked if he is helping or insulting the enemy. The words of God in the Bible were never meant by God to insult anybody. The Scriptures are…
(2 Timothy 3:16)
“… given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The words of God were given to men, and were written to be used for doctrine, for reproof, "for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
What does the Bible mean when it said that by feeding your enemy, you are going to heap coals of fire upon his head? The Apostle Paul defined to us the kind of teachings of the New Testament. They are spiritual.
(2 Corinthians 3:6)
“Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
The New Testament that the Apostle Paul preaches teaches us of spiritual things. The good and kind things that we are going to do to an enemy will be like coal that burns on top of his head — meaning, that it will bother him and make him think of the evil he is doing to you; and the good thing you are doing in return. How about Galatians 1:9?
“As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
The word ‘accursed’ used by the Apostle Paul is:
From G394; a (religious) ban or (concretely) excommunicated (thing or person): – accursed, anathema, curse, X great.
Meaning, if anyone preaches another gospel, other than what was preached by the Apostles, such teachings must be banned or must not be accepted by the Church. How about Galatians 5:12?
“I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” (KJV)
“I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!” (RSV)
“I wish that those causing you to doubt will cut themselves off.” (MKJV)
“I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.” (ASV)
“I wish that the people who are upsetting you would go all the way; let them go on and castrate themselves!” (Good News Bible)
Let us take it from the context.
“Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves!”
There are those in the local Church of Galatia that bothers the faith or unsettle the brethren by teaching other than what Paul had taught them. They emphasize fleshly circumcision, which was practiced by those under the Law of Moses, which is not a requirement in the New Testament anymore. So, he said that “…in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail…” But those who still insist on circumcision, he wished to circumcise or ‘mutilate’ themselves.
“I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision.” (ASV)
Meaning, that he wishes that they will learn more than the letters of the Law of Moses, which is doing righteousness — the Christian way; keeping the law of Christ, whether circumcised or not.
“But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.”
Circumcised or not, a Christian does the will of God from the heart without any intention of being praised by men.
“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…”
Because he is circumcised, not in the flesh but, in the heart, he pleases God and not men.
“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
I pray for your enlightenment.
Brother Eli Soriano