Bellett, J.G. – Paul’s Apostleship and Epistles

Paul’s Apostleship and Epistles.
By J. G. Bellett.

This is a 31 chapter survey of Paul’s writings, with some additional 17 chapters on related topics.

Contents
1 Pledges of Israel’s Restoration
2 A Testimony to Israel
3 The Conversion of Paul
4 New Ministries Called Forth
5 Successive Stages in Revelation
6 The Apostleship of Paul
7 The Son Revealed in Saints
8 Paul’s Stewardship
9 Life, Love and Glory
10 Paul’s Gospel
11 Paul’s Ministry
12 Christ, the Head of the Church
13 Gifts to the Church
14 The Holy Spirit’s Presence
15 Responsibility in Ministry
16 Paul, a Representative Man
17 The Rapture into Heaven
18 Paul’s General Epistles
19 Romans
20 1 Corinthians
21 2 Corinthians
22 Galatians
23 Ephesians
24 Philippians
25 Colossians
26 1 and 2 Thessalonians
27 The Pastoral Epistles
28 1 Timothy
29 2 Timothy
30 Titus
31 Hebrews

The Book of “The Acts of the Apostles” is rather the book of the acts of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Apostle of the circumcision, and the Apostle of the Gentiles. In the events recorded in that part of it which gives us St. Peter’s ministry (that is, Acts 1-12), I judge that we can discern such an order and meaning as prepares us for the Lord’s further purposes among the Gentiles by the subsequent ministry of Paul. I would thus briefly notice and interpret these events.

Acts 1 — While waiting, according to the commandment, for the promised power from on high, the disciples, under the leading of St. Peter (constituted chief in the Jewish ministry, Luke 22:32; John 21:16), commit it to the Lord to fill up the vacant bishopric of Judas. This was needful, as I shall observe more particularly by-and-by, that the Jewish order of twelve Apostles might stand full and complete; and that this was done with the full intelligence of the mind of God, appears further from this — that the Lord seems at once to undertake what His servants thus commit to Him, for He honours the lot (the Jewish form of discovering the Divine will in such matters, 1 Chr. 24:5; Num. 26:55; Joshua 19:10), and Matthias is numbered with the eleven Apostles; and the Holy Ghost in the next chapter seems to adopt Matthias in his new office, by falling upon him equally with the rest without any rebuke.

Acts 2 – 7 — The number being thus filled up, the Holy Ghost is given according to promise; and Peter again takes the lead, and preaches the risen Jesus to the Jews. The enmity of the Jews, however, sets in, and proceeds through these chapters, increasing gradually, just as it had done before against the Lord. The Apostles, however, like their Lord, go on with their testimony undismayed; great grace is upon all — holy discipline keeps them pure — and with great power the Apostles give testimony to the resurrection. But as the enmity had worked against the Lord till they crucified Him, so now does it work against the Apostles, till they run upon Stephen and stone him. And as the heavens had received the crucified One, so do the heavens open to His fellow-sufferer and witness. And in Him the Church receives a living pledge that the heavenly glory was for her as well as for her Lord, for the world had now rejected both.

Acts 8 — This being so, Jerusalem could no longer receive the sanction of God, for it had fully declared its sin, and for a season must be cast out of His sight. The disciples are therefore now scattered from Jerusalem, and the Jewish order is disturbed: this chapter giving us the acts of one who had not been sent forth, either as from Jerusalem, or by the Apostles at all. Philip goes forth — and at first preaches Christ in Samaria, and is then sent down by the Spirit “to Gaza, which is desert,” to bring into the fold a lost sheep that was still straying there, but known to God before the foundation of the world. But immediately afterwards, he is borne by the Spirit to Azotus (the place next to the desert where men and women could be found), that he might proclaim there, and in all other places, the grace which says, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life.” Thus by his mission to Gaza, and then by his rapture to Azotus, Philip’s ministry is made to signify the sovereignty and the universality of that grace which the Lord was to publish.

Acts 9 — The channels for the life and power that is from the Son of God to flow in among the Gentiles were now fully opened; for the Jews, and the Samaritans, and the Proselytes, had been called. All was ready for the gathering of the firstfruits of the Gentiles. But before this was done, and present judgment upon Israel thus publicly sealed, the Lord gives, in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, a sign of the future conversion of Israel (see 1 Tim. 1:16). A sample, no doubt it is, of that long-suffering that saves every sinner. But Israel is to be made the great final witness of that longsuffering, and is principally pointed at by this sign; and therefore all that accompanies this great event is a foreshowing of the things that are hereafter to mark and accompany the repentance of Israel. Saul’s looking on Him Whom he had pierced — his being shut up three days without sight, and neither eating nor drinking — the removal of this judgment, and his baptism, all shows us the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem looking on Him Whom they pierced and mourning, every family apart, and their wives apart, and then proving the virtues of the cleansing fountain opened for their sin and for their uncleanness. Jerusalem will then be the signal witness of sovereign grace, as Saul now is (Zech. 12, 13) And in further proof of this mystical character of Saul’s conversion, we may observe that he tells us himself, that he obtained mercy because he did it ignorantly in unbelief; and this is the very ground of final mercy to Israel; as the Lord prayed for them, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (See also Acts 3:17)

Acts 10, 11 — A pledge of Israel’s future conversion being thus left them, proclamation of present judgment upon them is made by the call from among the Gentiles of a people for God. This is done by the ministry of the Apostle of the circumcision; and most fitly so. For he had received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and was also the representative of Jerusalem, who is (however faithless, and as such divorced for a while) “the mother of us all.”, But Peter’s title to this, as representing Jerusalem, being thus allowed, we find a Church of Gentiles gathered at Antioch by other hands, and Barnabas and Saul, rather than Peter, called to the help and comfort of it.
Acts 12 — And now the Lord had only publicly to dismiss Jerusalem for a season. But as He had before pledged Israel’s future conversion, so does He, as I judge, now pledge to them their future restoration. To me, I confess, this chapter has great beauty and meaning, presenting both the sorrows and the deliverance of the remnant in the latter day, and the full ruinous overthrow of their enemies. James is slain with the sword, as hereafter at Jerusalem the complaint will be this, “their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem” (Ps. 79:2, 3). Peter also, the hope of the circumcision, is cast into prison, the enemy thus all but prevailing against the Israel of God.

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