On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.
Who are the most committed people you know? People that are going to keep their promises no matter what. They are a rare and vanishing breed in this world where just about everyone wants everything handed to them on a silver platter.
But Paul has seen and is convinced that he’s been entrusted by God. Wow! I don’t know about you, but that’s an amazing statement to me. I can’t imagine the overwhelming responsibility and weight placed on Paul’s shoulders.
When God entrusted Paul to preach to the uncircumcised, he gave him a permanent commission. It wasn’t just to teach VBS for a week. Or go on a summer missions’ trip. It was so much more than committing to lead a small group for 90 days.
God’s call and entrusting Paul was to take the good news about Jesus Christ to everyone and everyone who wasn’t Jewish. Think about this for a minute. Peter had all the Jews, and most of them were in the Judean province of the Roman Empire.
Yes, there were Jews scattered throughout the world, but Peter could reach most of them while staying in Jerusalem. This made his assignment from King Jesus somewhat easier. During the first century, Jews still traveled to Jerusalem for the Old Testament feasts. On Pentecost, Jews from around the world were right there in Jerusalem; Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; and even from Rome itself.
When God entrusted Paul, it’s like the President appointing someone to a Cabinet position. They have responsibility for their area of responsibility. For example, the Secretary of Agriculture is appointed to stay focused on food and everything related to it. They aren’t to stray into defense or economic topics unless they impact food.
Paul was entrusted to reach the uncircumcised with the good news about Jesus. That meant he had to communicate to people that had very little background about who God was. They didn’t have any foundation in the Old Testament or the history about how God had moved and saved his people in the past.
That’s what it means when Paul says that he’s been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised and Peter to the circumcised. There were not two different gospels. The gospel, the good new is that we are all lost before a holy God, and there’s nothing we can do to fix that. God had to act, and he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the price we couldn’t pay.
There was one gospel but two different kinds of messages based on the audience. It’s all about the grace of God but explaining that grace was going to require different words and illustrations.
For example, the gospel of Jesus clearly says that here was no sacrifice that we could offer to repay God. The Jews could relate to the Old Testament sacrifices while the uncircumcised could connect the dots to their traditions of sacrifices to different gods.
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Both Jew and Gentile understood about offering sacrifices. They had done it before. Over and over they offered sacrifices and came away with the same empty feeling, realizing that they were still lost because these human offerings can never satisfy or pay our sin debt.
Paul had to communicate this unchanging truth to the uncircumcised in a way that they could wrap their heads around. He had to present the good news so that the Holy Spirit could take his words and bring them to the Savior. This meant using words and phrases that they could understand.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
Words like this would make no senses to Jews. The Jews knew God, but the Gentiles didn’t. This meant that the Gentiles needed more background, more foundational truths.
Both Jew and Gentile are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Period. There are not two Gospels, only one. There are not two ways to be made whole before our great God and Savior. Only one, and that’s through the person and work of Jesus. Paul was committed to his assignment. Do you know your assignment? How committed are you to it?
How do you respond to assignments given to you?
List some things that you’ve been entrusted with.
How is God preparing you for a new assignment?