Background of Christianity

Posted in: 2004
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 25, 2008 - 10:42:44 AM

May – June 2004


This series of studies includes the Introduction and Part I through Part VIII.


The “Christian religion,” the largest and most influential of the world’s religions, is found not to be in the Bible. What we have, today, in Christianity is not the subject of Old Testament prophecy, nor is it a true development of New Testament truth. The “Christian Religion,” with all of its divisions, sects, and denominations, is not the result of the pure, unleavened, revealed Word of God. It is, in fact, the natural outgrowth of confusion, darkness, and error. This is a hard statement to make. This statement sounds absurd to some and a shock to others, especially to those who are devoutly or emotionally, attached to the “Christian Religion.” Only those who have “ears to hear” can comprehend the truth of this statement.

A study of “Church History,” when viewed in the light of the rightly divided Word, reveals that every sect, division, and denomination has, as its’ source, the same foundation. They all, to one extent or another, are the outgrowth of the theology of the so-called “Church Fathers.”

The World Book Encyclopedia states that the foundation upon which “Church Fathers” founded the Christian Religion was “the life and teachings of Jesus.” The life and teachings of Jesus are not the basis for true Christianity. The Lord Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, and He confirmed the promises God made to the fathers of Israel (Rom. 15:8). His life was one of a Jew under the Law of Moses. He proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand. That was the primary theme of His pronouncements.

The audience Christ spoke to were Old Testament Jews. They understood full well what He meant concerning the Kingdom of God. The announcement that the Kingdom of God was at hand was not a new concept to the Jews at the time. Every prophet of God spoke about it (Acts 3:21), and by so doing, they had already set forth a period of time when the earth and all of the nations upon it would be governed by God (Psalm 67:4). It was an ancient body of truth set forth under the New Testament descriptive term: the Kingdom (Government) of God.

The “Church Fathers” never came to grips with the fact that believers, during the Acts period, had a foretaste of the coming Government of God (Hebrews 6:4-6). The fathers paid no attention to the Apostle Paul’s startling announcement of Acts 28:28. Since the Kingdom didn’t come, along with all of the concurrent events surrounding it, they spiritualized the Kingdom of God and stole the blessings promised to Israel and appropriated them to the church.

The “Church Fathers” did not build their visible church organization upon the One Foundation laid down by the Apostle Paul.

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).

The rise of the Christian religion, as we know it, did not have its’ roots in the New Testament or in the Scriptures of the Mystery. Its’ roots go back to the very end of the first century. This was after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Christians previously turned away the Apostle Paul who was the Lord’s instrument to explain what God was doing when He suspended His dealings with the “Israel of God.” The Church Fathers failed to recognize that an unprophesied dispensation was ushered in at the close of the Acts period. This resulted in utter confusion and darkness. Consequently, the “Fathers” laid a foundation based upon error. The error was that the church was to be God’s replacement of Israel and was to assume Israel’s promises.

This error gave rise to anti-Semitism which has persisted unto this very day in many quarters. The “Church Fathers” became churchmen, and their doctrine has continued to produce churchmen for the last two-thousand years. Churchmen, or said another way, men of the church have never embraced the revelation of the Mystery which is the capstone of all the revelations of God. Why? Perhaps it is because Ephesians and Colossians makes no room for them because there is no church hierarchy in the Dispensation of the Mystery. (Refer to my previous four-part PW Online studies, “The Word - Church”).

Churchmen, at times, may be granted glimpses of Present Truth, but until they become “unchurched,” they will never be given “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of” the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 1:17).

An application can be made to churchmen and churchpeople as Paul did to the Jews in 2 Corinthians 3:13-16;

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.”

In the mid 1960s, we began to see glimpses of truth for today, but it was not until 1968, when we became “unchurched,” that the veil was taken away. As long as we tried to have one foot in the Acts 28:28 camp and the other in the mid-Acts camp, the veil remained over my heart. By the providence of God, I was led out of the church camp where my only support, or prop, became the Word of God.

There’s a gargantuan difference between a man of the church and a man of God.

In closing, it should be said; in the studies which follow, we will try to show the conditions as they existed during the Acts of the Apostles during Paul’s time as the prisoner of the Jesus Christ for the Gentiles and the time after the destruction of Jerusalem.


Part I

In the introduction of this series we pointed out that the Christian religion, with all of its’ sects and denominations which are almost innumerable, has as its’ source, the same foundation—the one laid by the “Church Fathers.” It was not the foundation laid down by Paul, the wise masterbuilder (1 Corinthians 3:10-11) of the faith of the Acts period, nor was it the foundation of Present Truth with Jesus Christ being the chiefcorner stone (Ephesians 2:20).

If you build on the wrong foundation, more than likely you’ll wind up with a “Rube Goldberg Contraption.” This is what the so-called “Church Fathers,” did and what we see, today, is the fruit of their labors. Anyone who will take the time, and most will not, to do some research on their writings must agree with what Sir Robert Anderson wrote concerning the “Church Fathers” about one-hundred years ago. He wrote that, “their minds were impregnated by the superstitions of Pagan religion, or the subtleties of Pagan philosophy … And inquiry will show that it is to them that we should attribute every perversion of truth which today defaces what is called the Christian religion.”

When a Bible student has the eyes of his understanding enlightened and comes to the knowledge of right division of the Word of Truth, he stands amazed because the Christendom from whence he came is so far from the truth. The latest report to come from God was given to the Apostle Paul, as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles, after the Pentecostal Dispensation ended. When the realization of this scriptural fact sinks in, the enlightened student ponders why Christianity, with all of its’ divisions, is so entangled in error.

In order to gain an understanding as to why the condition is as it is, we will endeavor to put in plainer words our perspective of the background of Christianity.

The question we purpose to answer is: “How did Christendom evolve into such diverse and divisive groups as exist today?” We will examine the rise of Christianity and point out the general characteristics of the principal groups involved in the rise of the “Christian faith.”

In our effort to simplify the different groupings of people, we will ascribe to them names which will designate them as a group; such as, “Extremists,” “Born Again Ones,” “Justified Ones,” and et cetera.


One of the principal groups involved in the rise of Christianity was the unbelieving Jew during the “Acts of the Apostles.” The unbelieving Jew was instrumental in the spread of the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God which was a result of the persecution administered by them.

The unbelieving Jew, as typified by Saul of Tarsus, thought Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter—a false Messiah. This group of unbelievers clung tenaciously to the “Jews’ religion” which Jesus of Nazareth boldly stated had leavened the Word of God. The “Jews’ religion” was the outgrowth of the “oral law” being superimposed upon the Hebrew Bible. The unbelieving Jew placed more emphasis on the “traditions of the fathers” than on the Word Itself. Their attitude toward the Lord Jesus was that He certainly could not have been the long awaited Messiah because He “transgressed the tradition of the fathers.” The Lord’s denunciation of the “tradition of the fathers” of the Jews’ religion ought to be a yellow flag of warning to Christians, today, who dare not step across the line drawn in the sand of theology by the “Church Fathers.”

The unbeliever’s persecution of the believing Jews scattered them, and they took with them the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Saul of Tarsus must be mentioned, again, as the instrument the Lord used to spread the good news of the gospel to other areas outside of Palestine. This was done by means of Saul’s aggressive and relentless persecution. Saul, as the rebel leader, would go from house-to-house on search-and-destroy missions. He, later, became the Persecuted One’s Own servant and went house-to-house proclaiming the faith he once destroyed.


When John the Baptist came out of the wilderness preaching “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven (God) is at hand,” he had a receptive audience. Following on his heels was the same proclamation by the Lord Jesus, and He, too, had a ready and receptive audience. In Israel, at the time, there were untold numbers of devout Jews who were waiting and watching for the Kingdom to come (see Luke 25-32, 38). Mark 15:43 mentions another “waiter” for the kingdom to come: “Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.”

Three specific individuals were mentioned as being waiters and watchers for the Kingdom of God. This would indicate a great deal more were of the same mind-set.

We pass on from the Four Gospels to the “Acts of the Apostles.” The Risen Lord spent forty days after His resurrection with His apostles, “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Then, we read; “When they were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). After forty days of instruction, they clearly revealed what their hope was, or what was their expectation. It was the anticipation of the coming Kingdom. It was not the Parousia (i.e. the 2nd Coming). He had told them over-and- over, again, that He would go away. “For it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).

In plainer words, the Kingdom of God will only come when Jesus Christ is Personally absent from the earth. The Comforter will come in His stead.

The Comforter (i.e. the Holy Spirit) came on Pentecost in Acts Chapter Two. Did the full-blown Kingdom come? No. What we had during the Book of Acts was a foretaste or a preview of the manifestation of the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 6:4-5).

With this in mind during the Acts period, the believing Jews were Christians. However, they remained Jews as regards to their nationality and their rights to the promises connected with the covenants. The Twelve were their Apostles. The Twelve were the Apostles of the Circumcision.

There was early unity among the Jewish believers. Between Acts 2 and Acts 6, the record clearly indicates that there was harmony among them as they continued in the Apostles’ Doctrine and fellowship (Acts 2:42). As their numbers grew, and as the believers sold their possessions and “had all things common” (Acts 4:32), there was real unity.

How long did this unity prevail? We will see in the next study.


Part II


Many Jews of the dispersion who spoke Greek joined themselves to the assembly of believers in Jerusalem. They were referred to as Grecians. The Palestinian Jews did not readily accept them.

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration” (Acts 6:1).

Isn’t it strange how so many folks, who state that the present “church age” began in Acts 2, say that the book of Acts depicts the “model church?” Six chapters into the “model church” you find division within it. This division continued to Acts 10. As a result of the division between the two factions, the Apostles of the Circumcision decided that they were to devote themselves to the Word of God and prayer and “stop waiting on tables.” Seven men were selected in Acts 6 to “serve tables.” This was to pacify the Grecians.


Peter’s visit to Cornelius is recorded in Acts 10. Peter and those who went with him were astonished that God allowed the Word to be received by the Gentile household of Cornelius (Acts 10:45). When Peter returned to Jerusalem, we read:

“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them” (Acts 11:1-3).

The Christians of the circumcision had no further objections after hearing Peter recount how the Lord directed him to speak the Word of God to Gentiles; “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). However, they still didn’t think it right for them to have intimate contact with the Gentile believers.

Acts 10 was the one and only time Peter proclaimed the Word to a Gentile. God would leave that task to another—the Apostle Paul.


As time went on, the Christian Jews in Jerusalem began to hear of the work of Saul, now called Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ. Word came from Antioch that Paul was doing extraordinary things among the Gentiles. It is evident that those apostles of the circumcision didn’t grasp what God’s program with the Gentiles was all about. They took what we’ll refer to as the Extremists’ position. They adhered to the principle that “men of other nations” should be subjected to the rites of proselytes: circumcision, baptisms, and offerings. The Extremists’ posture caused further division among believers. The Extremists were probably made up, mostly, of the Pharisees who had believed.

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them [Gentiles], and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).

The Extremists sent emissaries to the area of Galatia insisting that the Gentile Christians should keep the Law of Moses which included being circumcised. In fact, they insisted that they couldn’t be saved without doing so.

“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:1-4)

Galatians Chapter Two informs us why Paul went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. It seems that Peter was part of those who were in Antioch, insisting that the Gentiles be circumcised and live after the manner of the Jews. This created an even wider breach between believers. As Peter made his way to Antioch, Paul was ready for him. It had been reported to Paul that Peter’s purpose for being in Galatia was to compel the Gentiles to live after the manner of the Jews.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Galatians 2:11-13)

Paul rebuked Peter for being in Antioch and eating with the Gentiles, but insisting that they live like the Christian Jews in Jerusalem.

“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
(Galatians 2:14).

It is also noted in Galatians that Peter did not understand “justification by faith” because Paul gives the mighty Peter a lesson on justification without the works of the Law.

“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” (Galatians 2:16).

The indication is that Peter “tucks his tail” and heads back to Jerusalem, not fully understanding the Gentile position in the Acts calling.

The Apostles of the circumcision moderated their views after the Acts 15 conference with Paul. The twelve agreed to limit their ministry to the circumcision, and Paul was to go to the “heathen.”

“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” (Galatians 2:9).

It seems that Peter finally “got it.” The last that is heard of Peter are his words in Acts 15:11; “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”

Even though the Apostles to the Circumcision extended the right of fellowship to the Apostle to the Gentiles, this did not prevent other zealous Extremists from causing him more trouble. Throughout Paul’s Acts ministry, he had to continually contend with the efforts of the Extremists to undermine his doctrine and authority as an apostle. Abundant evidence of this is found in Galatians and the two Corinthian letters.

In Galatians, it is noted that Paul’s authority is challenged. His apostleship is questioned. The Extremists from Jerusalem showed no love for Paul and continued to insist that the saved Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. In fact, they preached “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). It was not good news for the Galatians. Paul, as a matter of fact, referred to their gospel as “weak and beggarly elements” (Galatians 4:9).

Keep in mind, when reading and studying Galatians, it was written primarily to Christian Jews of the dispersion.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we find the Extremists had switched their tactics. In their effort to discredit Paul’s teachings, they did what all sects do when they cannot successfully refute another’s knowledge; they went after him with personal attacks. Not only that, but they perceived that Paul’s gospel was on a higher plane than theirs. This infuriated them. They were filled with envy, hatred, and strife. That’s always been the case, even among believers today.

The dark side of the two-natures of the child of God is stirred up when one group thinks another seems to have advanced farther in their understanding of scripture than they have. They threaten to excommunicate, ostracize, and ridicule the “wayward one.” Strife, among believers, is a dead-give-away of open carnality.

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

The Extremists questioned Paul’s apostleship. If an apostle, he was certainly a lesser one than the twelve. The twelve had even seen the risen Christ. He was not comparable to the “chief apostles.”

So, the Extremists’ attack switched from doctrine to that of questioning Paul’s credentials. This forced him to defend the authority bestowed upon him by the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2).

Earlier in this epistle, he was forced to say:

“Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Corinthians 4:13-16).

He said, in plainer words, “You may have ten-thousand instructors from Jerusalem, but you’ve got only one Daddy in the gospel, and that’s me.”

In 2 Corinthians 11:5, Paul said he “was not a whit behind the chiefest apostles.”

Without mentioning them by name, Paul most certainly, and assuredly, made reference to the Extremists and how they adversely affected the Corinthians:

“For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage [i.e. under the law], if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (2 Corinthians 11:20-23).

It’s amazing that those who were personally fathered by the Apostle Paul into the faith could be subverted by the Extremists.

The Extremists worked feverishly, as if driven, to overturn the faith of the “justified ones;” both Grecians and Gentiles. In Acts 21, we read what James told Paul after having heard of the things God had wrought among the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry:

“And when they heard it [the works of Paul], they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” (Acts 21:20-21).

Our take on the passage is rather cynical, perhaps, but it’s like telling what the Lord has revealed to you in the scripture only to hear it said; “Praise the Lord, but, here is what we believe and there are thousands who believe as we do.” That’s not a ringing endorsement.

So, here we note that there were thousands who were zealous of the Law and had believed the false reports about Paul—having no understanding of justification by faith without works.


Part III


There was another element of Christian Jews who acknowledged that God had, indeed, called men out of other nations; “to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). We will call them Moderates. The Moderate Christian Jews decided not to trouble the Gentile believers by insisting that they live as did the Jews (Acts 15:19). The Moderates maintained a separatist’s attitude toward the Gentiles; not understanding, that in Christ Jesus, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The writings of Peter, James, and John indicate that this was not a truth for them to teach. No wonder thousands of Jews who believed that Jesus was the Christ were zealous of the Law and could not bring themselves to accept Gentiles with great enthusiasm.

As we have pointed out, for the sake of this writing, there were two groups of Jewish believers during the Acts of the Apostles: (1) the Extremist Christian Jews, and (2) the Moderate Christian Jews. The Extremists believed that Gentile believers should become proselytes; that is, submit to the Jewish rite of circumcision and keep the Law of Moses. Acts 15 states that this group was influenced by those Jews who had been of the sect of the Pharisees.

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5).

This clearly points out that the zeal of the Pharisees carried over into New Testament truth. That is, if they were going to accept Gentile converts, the Gentiles must become proselytes.

It should be pointed out, in defense of Peter, that in Acts 15:7-10 we read:

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

Well said, Peter! We don’t find him developing this line of doctrine. However, it was apparent that Peter was no longer the force he had been. As it was previously pointed out, this is the last we heard from Peter. James now appeared to be the head spokesman for the church in Jerusalem. [Just a side-note before we continue; there is an old Southern expression for when someone loses his influence, or just fades away; “He just flat petered-out.”]

The Lord Jesus said of the sect of the Pharisees that they would compass land and sea to make one proselyte, “and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). This fervor was carried over even by those who believed. These were the major influences among the Extremists. Keep in mind that it was very difficult for them to shed the traditions that had been ingrained in them all of their lives.

The same can be said for many Christians today. Many who name the Name of Christ can never come to the full knowledge of present truth. They are either unable, or unwilling, to let go of the traditional doctrines that they have grown up with.

The Moderates were still “zealous of the Law” (Acts 21:20). However, they announced in Acts 15, under the leadership of James , they would not trouble the believing Gentiles; only that they should abstain (1) from meats offered to idols, (2) from blood, (3) from things strangled and, (4) from fornication (Acts 15:29). They still maintained a separatist attitude. The Apostles of the Circumcision decided that they would limit their ministry to those of the Circumcision, and they would leave it up to the Apostle Paul to minister to the heathen.

The Extremists and the Moderates were made up primarily of the following Jewish people—the priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the ordinary people, the Greek speaking Grecians, and the Essenes.

Paul did not have any patience with the Extremists who were the Judaisers.

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:11-13).

It is apparent that Extremists gloried in the flesh—the foreskins of those they circumcised. Did they bring back the proof of the circumcisions to Jerusalem in order to glory in their conquests? The American Indians did the same to frontiersmen, but instead of foreskins, it was their scalps.

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14).

Paul chose to glory in the cross of Christ which brought about persecution from the Extremists. The Extremists railed against the liberty encapsulated in Paul’s Gospel of the Uncircumcision.


What was the Twelve Apostles’ doctrine? What did they teach? What did they write when under inspiration? To find the answer to these questions, it is suggested that the epistles written by Peter, James, John, and Jude be carefully read. It would be a flagrant mistake to read into their epistles truth that was given to Paul. The Apostle Paul was given an abundance of revelations (2 Corinthians 12:7) which he developed (under inspiration) in his Acts’ epistles. The mistake made by most Bible students is to assume that the Twelve understood the doctrines Paul taught. It is even a graver mistake to assume that the Twelve taught the Circumcision that which they did not understand.

Peter admitted that the things Paul wrote were hard to be understood. Note what came from the pen of the Apostle Peter:

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, 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, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16)

(We tend to believe that Peter is referring to the Epistle to the Hebrews when he wrote; “hath written unto you.” Peter was not writing 2 Peter to any of Paul’s “saints,” but if Paul wrote Hebrews, it was addressed to them. This would include those to whom Peter ministered).

Peter knew what Paul taught, even admitting what Paul wrote was scripture. The way Peter knew what Paul taught was because of the text below:

“Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation (i.e. Peter, James, and John), lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain” (Galatians 2:1-2).

Therefore, we notice that the leaders of the Twelve had an opportunity to learn of Paul’s gospel, but they did not teach it, or write about being “Justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).

The Twelve had agreed that they would confine their ministry to the Circumcision. As far as I can tell, they brought forth no additional revelation of truth other than what the Lord had both “began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). They continued doing and teaching what Christ did and taught as a minister to the Circumcision, confirming the promises God made to the fathers of Israel (Romans 15:8). The one exception was that they were eye-witnesses to the Resurrection. Hebrews 2:3-4 confirms this statement:

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

“Them that heard” the Lord Jesus Christ, in the context above, were the Twelve Apostles. The ministry of the Lord Jesus, recorded in the four Gospels, was carried on by the twelve after the Ascension. There was no break, nor was there a new testimony beyond the fact that Christ arose from the dead. These Apostles were commissioned to REPEAT AND CONFIRM what the Lord had already said. The Twelve were not commissioned to herald Paul’s gospel. They were true to their commission. It was reserved for Paul to make known additional revelations which surpassed the Gospel of the Circumcision.
To deny this is to disparage Paul’s authority and deny him his place in God’s scheme of things during the Acts of the Apostles.


Part IV


The Apostles of the Circumcision taught that believers were regenerated—that is to say, “begotten of God,” or “born again.” This ties in with what the Lord Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3:1-13. The Twelve repeated and confirmed what the Lord had already said. Notice in 1 John 3:9:

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

John continued this in the fifth chapter of 1 John:

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (v. 1).

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (v. 4).

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (v. 18).

The Jewish believers under the ministry of John, as well as the other Eleven, would naturally be the ones who, by faith, were the “Born Again Ones”—those who were said to be “begotten of God.”

Peter also repeated and confirmed what the Lord Jesus began to teach concerning being born again.

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

The Truth which the Twelve taught carried believers no farther than being “begotten of God.” Those who believed the Gospel of the Circumcision during the Acts period limited themselves to the spiritual rudiments of the “new birth.” Those who were content to only embrace the Truth of the “new birth” were never able to enjoy the higher plane of blessings which the Apostle Paul made known. The Apostles of the Circumcision knew what Paul taught and knew it was an advancement of revelation from God (see Galatians 2:1-2). They definitely knew what Paul taught; both Jews and Gentiles alike. They never saw fit to teach the same. It was apparent they were not commissioned to preach Paul’s Gospel.

The “Born Again Ones” were not prevented from moving from the faith of being “born again” to the faith of being justified by faith without the works of the Law.

Hebrews 6:1-2 encourages the “Born Again Ones” to move on “to perfection.”

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [‘ye must be born again’], let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

Of course, the key to going on to perfection or maturity lay in believing Paul’s testimony regarding justification.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:21-22).

By comparison to being “begotten of God,” this Truth concerning the “righteousness of God without the Law” is a greater spiritual revelation. The “But now” informs us that it was given to Paul to make known. The believer is a passive recipient as he is credited with God’s righteousness; not by his own faith, but “by the faith of Jesus Christ.” In plainer words, Paul said: NOW IS MANIFESTED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WITHOUT THE LAW. This truth was reserved to be made known and declared by the Apostle to the Gentiles.


By contrast to the Apostles of the Circumcision, who only repeated and confirmed what the Lord Jesus Christ began to do and teach, the Apostle Paul was given an “abundance of revelations” ( 2 Corinthians 12:7). Under inspiration, he revealed and developed doctrine that far surpassed that of the Twelve.

Even though the righteousness of God was made manifest—obvious, discernable, or apparent, the Jewish Extremists actively worked against this doctrine throughout the Acts period. This doctrine “flew in the face” of the Extremists. It agitated them. It made them think they had an inferior position. They gloried in the flesh; whereas, the “Justified Ones” could only glory in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.

It seems in any sect of Christendom that if someone appears to have an advanced understanding of certain Truths beyond that which is standard to the sect, it causes agitation among those “left behind.” The only remedy is to expel, ex-communicate, ostracize, cut-off fellowship, denounce, or consider them “history.”

The Extremist zealots detested the fact that the “Justified Ones” were said to have “put on Christ.” To put on Christ meant: to array, clothe (with): in the sense of sinking into a garment.

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).


This brings us to another classification of believers during the Acts of the Apostles. For want of a better name, we will refer to them as “Justified Christian Jews.” Paul distinguishes between two classes of believers found in this group. These Jews who embraced Paul’s Gospel of the time were mostly those of the Dispersion. Paul refers to them as either “weak” or “strong” in faith. They received the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ without the works of the Law. As “Justified Ones,” they lived as having “put on Christ” where there is neither Jew nor Gentile. They were to reckon that they were dead to the Law (Romans 7:4).

“For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Romans 10:4).

However, they were not restricted from observing that portion of the Law which was not related to righteousness.

In Romans 14:1-15:2, Paul writes about these two classes; the weak and the strong. Gentiles, who had been influenced by the synagogue’s instructions, would also fall into the category of either weak or strong.

Those who were “strong in faith” were dead to the Law. Those who were “weak in faith,” as it related to the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, still felt obliged to observe days, meats, and drinks. Romans 14 and 15 were written to bring about peace and understanding between the “Justified Ones;” that is, between the “strong” and the “weak” (Romans 14:19).

During the Acts period, the believers to whom Paul ministered were led to Truths which placed them on a higher plane than those Christians who were simply “born again.” The “Born Again Ones” continued to observe the Law of Moses and were very zealous toward it.

As long as Jews held onto their identity by observing the Law, either in part or in whole, there existed a “a middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14) separating the believing Jew from the believing Gentile. Try as they might, there could never be a oneness between the Jew and Gentile believers as long as the Jewish believers embraced the Law. The Law, with its’ elaborate system of legal observances, publicly marked off the Christian Jew from the Christian Gentile. However, those Christian Jews who embraced the doctrine of justification through faith, alone, learned that “in Christ” there was no difference.

While Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, he also had countless Jews who believed his gospel. An example would be Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18). Paul explained the Christian Jews’ relationship to the Law if they believed his gospel of being justified without the works of the law:

“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:1-4).

Paul was saying that if the Jewish believer was justified by faith, he was freed from the claims of the Law. How? He was dead to the Law. Not only that, but they were now living as those who were alive from the dead and were to walk in newness of life. Those who did, Paul said in Romans 6, are not under Law but under grace.

The believers in Paul’s gospel, justified by faith without the works of the Law, lived on a higher plane. They were more advanced than those who were just “born again.” Paul’s people were called to live on “resurrection ground,” being dead, indeed, unto sin and alive unto God. They were dead to the Law. In the sphere in which they lived, there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. They lived on reckoning ground. They were crucified with Christ; nevertheless, they lived; not really them, but Christ was living in them, and the life that they were living, they were living by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). It was not by their faith but by the faith of the Son of God.

One of the worries of Paul during the Acts period was that many of his converts were continually being persuaded to lapse back to the weak and beggarly elements of the Law which would bring them, again, into bondage of the Law (Galatians 4:9). Those who were side-tracked by the Extemists would be those who Paul said have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4), and Christ would profit them nothing (Galatians 5:2).


There was, yet, another group we find in the Acts of the Apostles. They were the disciples of John the Baptist. While it is generally thought that the Word of God spread with great rapidity during the Acts period, it is interesting to notice that as late as Acts 18, Apollos showed up [around 55 A.D.], knowing nothing more than what John the Baptist had taught.

“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:24-25).

While it’s true that Luke mentioned that the Word of God “increased” and “grew and multiplied” (Acts 6:7, 12:24), there were still those Jews who had not heard any more Truth than that of John the Baptist. In Acts 19:1-7, Paul meets twelve of John’s disciples who only knew what John had taught.

All of the foregoing should point out, again, the various elements, or factions, which existed during the Acts era. There was not complete agreement and understanding among believers.


Part V

During the dispensation covered by the “Acts of the Apostles,” two callings of Christians existed. These two callings were discussed in previous studies. The general headings we listed them under were: (1) The Justified Ones and, (2) The Born Again Ones. The Apostle Paul had truth for those who were justified by the faith of Christ without the works of the Law. The Apostles of the Circumcision had truth for those who were born again and were still zealous of the Law.

Most all Bible commentators try to harmonize the teachings of Paul and the Circumcision Apostles. They fail to recognize that all Christians during the Acts period were not called upon to believe the same thing. God provided Truth for those He providentially chose to live on the “higher ground” of being justified, by faith alone, without the works of the Law. This was for the Justified Ones. They had Paul as their minister and apostle. It is apparent that there were those who first believed the Gospel of the Circumcision but were later called to “higher ground.” The two most notable were Barnabas (Acts 4:36; 9:27) and Mark (Acts 12:12, 25). Undoubtedly, there were many others.

On the other hand, God provided Truth for those who were to make up the calling of the Born Again Ones. The Circumcision Apostles were their ministers.

Failure to distinguish between the two callings has led Bible commentators to synthesize the two in an attempt to make them one. Both callings were of the Lord—they were not one. They could never be one until such time as it could be said after Acts 28:

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:13-16).

Following the precept of rightly dividing the Word of Truth, we will distinguish between the two doctrines.


Instead of harmonizing, or synthesizing, the two doctrines into one, we will simply contrast the two—both of which were inspired and were truth for the particular calling.

Paul’s Doctrine to the Justified Ones without the Law:

“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” (Galatians 2:16).

Paul adds to his doctrine of justification in Romans 4:3-5:

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

James’ doctrine to the Born Again Ones:

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:21, 22, 23, 25).

The differences between the two are crystal clear. Martin Luther was so frustrated by the God-given doctrine to James that he said the Epistle of James shouldn’t be included in the canon of Scripture. We will not curse James nor will we try to manufacture a doctrine making the two into one by tap-dancing around them. We prefer to let them stand as they are written; recognizing “to whom each was written.” Right division solves so many imagined problems in the Bible.

The Apostle Paul told those who were justified by faith, only, that when Abraham believed God in Genesis 15, he was justified because Abraham believed God’s Word concerning the promise of a son and the multiplying of his seed. The contrast is that James tells the Born Again Ones that their father, Abraham, was justified in Genesis 22 when he offered up his son, Isaac, on the altar. Both of these were true. One was true for the calling of the Justified Ones and the other was true for the Born Again Ones.

Don’t think, for one minute, that the God of Heaven cannot “work both sides of the street at the same time.”


Part VI

During the “Acts of the Apostles,” there was not a spiritual unity between believers. The reason being; one set of believers were still zealous of the Law of Moses, and another set reckoned they were dead to the Law. The former, we refer to as the Born Again Ones and the latter, the Justified Ones.

The very nature of the Law created an enmity between the groups. The Law was a “middle wall of partition” between the ones who were justified by faith, alone, and the ones who were only born again. The word, “partition,” carries with it the idea of “a divider,” “a separation,” or “a dividing wall.”

The Born Again Ones were, for the most part, Christian Jews. However, among their ranks were many Gentiles who came under their influence, many of whom had been proselytes. These Gentiles had been Judaized: that is to say, they believed that Jesus Christ was, indeed, Israel’s Messiah. Along with this faith, they were obliged to keep the Law of Moses. It is evident during the Acts era that there was a concerted effort made by certain elements of the believing Christian Jews, the Extremists, to intimidate the Justified Ones into observing the Law. In fact, just about the whole of the Galatians Epistle is Paul’s effort to counteract this Judaizing influence. Traces of this refuting of the Judaizers are also found in Romans.

Very few students of the Word have recognized the fact that the Born Again Ones, who were zealous of the Law, persecuted the Justified Ones. Not all of Paul’s trouble was instigated by unbelievers, but rather, a great deal of them was from the Born Again Ones.

Let it be realized that as long as one set of believers kept the Law and another set did not—there was an “enmity.”

“For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his Flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

We learn from these verses that among the great things accomplished on the Cross was the fact, which was not revealed until after Acts 28, that the middle wall was broken down; the law of commandments contained in ordinances was abolished; the enmity was slain. All of this was for the purpose of reconciling both (Born Again Ones and Justified Ones) unto God in one body by the Cross.

How significant is this truth? It is believed that this is the first time the Word speaks concerning the two factions being united in one body. They were not united in one body during the Acts period; neither were there two “bodies” during Acts. One may ask; “Weren’t all believers members of the Body of Christ during Acts?” The Bible doesn’t indicate that to be true. We should not join together what God did not. Peter, James, John, and Jude never mentioned the “Body of Christ.” Search their writings, and it will become apparent they did not minister to the Body of Christ.

Keep in mind that during the “Acts of the Apostles,” there were two sets of believers: those who believed the Circumcision’s Gospel and those who embraced Paul’s Gospel of the Uncircumcision. Truths concerning the Body of Christ were doctrines exclusive to the Apostle Paul. Those who believed his report were incorporated into the Acts period Body of Christ.

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another”
(Romans 12:4-5)

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

The “we” in the above verses has reference to the Justified Ones. The “all are members,” likewise, refers to all of the Justified Ones by the faith of Christ. They were members of that body—the Body of Christ. “All” doesn’t mean all believers without distinction. “Now ye are the body of Christ.” This referred to those who believed Paul’s gospel message. This did not include the Born Again Ones.

Were the Born Again Ones saved? Yes, they were. However, their position and standing before the Lord Jesus Christ was not as exalted as the Justified Ones. The Justified Ones were identified with a “better” hope (Hebrews 7:19), “better” promises (Hebrews 8:6), and a “better” resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). “Better” in the sense of more noble (cf. Strongs # 2909).

Paul asserts in Romans 8:17; “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ was for those who were justified by the faith of Christ during the Acts period. This was not said of the Born Again Ones.

Even though Peter’s converts were not included in the make-up of the Body of Christ; nevertheless, he was assured that the Born Again Ones had precious promises from God.

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

Bible students tend to want to include all Acts believers into the calling of the “Body of Christ.” The Bible doesn’t lump them together; neither should we. The Body of Christ, during the Acts period, must not be confused with the Body over which Christ Jesus is the Head which came into being after the book of Acts closed. In other words, the “church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” is not the “Body” of the Acts period, even though many who lived through the dispensational change of Acts 28 were membered into the One Body (i.e. the One New Man) of Ephesians.

All of this has been pointed out in order to bring to light the fact that there were two major sets of believers during Acts. There was enmity between them—the middle wall of partition. Synonyms for the word, enmity, are: hostility, antipathy, antagonism, aggression, and animosity. The hostility expressed was launched by the Born Again Ones because they were not part and parcel of the higher calling.

The subsequent revelation to Paul, the Lord’s prisoner regarding the Mystery, brought to light the fact that something happened on the Cross that was not made known until after Acts 28. The new and fresh revelation was that the Law, with its’ “handwriting of ordinances” was abolished, taken out of the way, and nailed to the Cross. With the enmity gone, there could be peace. This peace did not exist during the “Acts of the Apostles.”

The hostility and hatred was seen in Acts 21 and 22. The Jews “which were of Asia” were probably Born Again Ones. They were the ones who accused Paul of taking Trophimus into the temple. They accused him of teaching Jews to forsake the Law of Moses.

What the expositors and commentators refer to as Judaizers were, in fact, Christian Jews whom we have identified as Extremists.

In concluding this study, it should be stated that the main burden of the Galatian Epistle can be summed up in the following verse:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

The yoke of bondage was the Law. The Justified Ones, under the ministry of Paul, stood in jeopardy of having received Paul’s labor in vain; “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:11).

The Extremists came into Galatia questioning Paul’s authority and the gospel which he preached. They insisted that those who took their stand, as being justified by faith alone, must be circumcised and keep the Law. In plainer words, they preached the Gospel of the Circumcision to those who had already embraced the Gospel of the Uncircumcision.

Paul marveled that they had so soon been removed from Him Who called them into the grace of Christ unto “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He went on to tell them that if any man, even Peter, James or John; or even if an angel from heaven preached unto them another gospel, “let them be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

In the NIV, “let them be accursed” is rendered, “let them be eternally condemned.” This was very severe language. This reminds me of highway signs (billboards) that people see when they enter the State of Texas on interstate highways—DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS. Then, in smaller captions, the signs warn the people that it is unlawful to “litter” in the state.

Now, that’s not all Paul had to say concerning the Extremists:

“I would they (i.e.Extremists) were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:12).

“Cut off” sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? The NIV translates the verse as follows:

“As for those agitators (i.e. Extremists), I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!”


The great Apostle to the Gentiles, when it came to believers who perverted the doctrine which he received from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, he was not very charitable or forgiving.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15-16).

It was only to those who walked according “to this rule” did Paul bestow peace and mercy. Not to those who walked contrary-wise. Not only that, but the symbols of his persecution, which were indelibly branded on his back― he wore as badges of honor.

“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).


Part VII

It was very serious business for the Galatians to be removed from Paul’s gospel by those who insisted that all believers should keep the Law.

Paul said of the Galatians, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7). The hinderers were the Extremist Christian Jews. How could the Galatians turn to “weak and beggarly elements” (i.e. the Law) which would bring them into bondage (Galatians 4:9)?

Paul uses an allegory to teach a truth concerning the Justified Ones and the Born Again Ones. When a speaker or writer uses an allegory an exact similitude is not employed, but rather, one thing is written or said, but something different is meant. The Companion Bible notes, “Allegory; or, Continued Comparison by Representation (Metaphor) and Implication. Teaching one thing by substituting another for it which is unlike it.”

Notice what Paul says:

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:21-26).

The two covenants are: The Law given at Mount Sinai, illustrated by Hagar, the bondwoman, and the new Covenant, illustrated by Sarah, the freewoman. The old Covenant makes those living under it in bondage to it. It is after the flesh. The new Covenant did away with the old and its’ shackles of bondage.

The “Jerusalem which is above” refers allegorically to the Kingdom of God [ i ]as being the mother-city in which her children are free and not slaves of the Jewish Law. This is not a reference to “New Jerusalem” as found in the Book of Revelation. We thought it was, for many years, but have since concluded since this is an allegory, Paul is simply saying our [the Justified Ones] mother is free.

This is Paul’s way of saying the Justified Ones could be a continued comparison by representation and implication as Isaac, whose mother was a freewoman, in contrast to the Born Again Ones, whose mother was a bondwoman. The implications are very interesting. The Justified Ones are outnumbered by the Born Again Ones.

“For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband” (Galatians 4:27).

We have pointed out in this series that the Justified Ones had a higher, or more noble, calling than the Born Again Ones. This is in harmony with what the Lord Jesus taught.

“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16). See also, Matthew 22:14.

The Justified Ones were the ekletos (the chosen or elect). The Born Again Ones were the kletos (the called). You can note the difference by comparing Strong’s number 1588 for “chosen,” and his number 2822 for “called.”

A good illustration of this is found after the Lord Jesus spent all night praying;

“And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples [the many]: and of them he chose [the few] twelve, whom also he named apostles;” (Luke 6:13).

In Christian terms, they were all “saved.” But, out of the many who were saved, He chose certain ones to be His elect. The elect, or chosen ones, in any dispensation were marked out for special service in relation to the administration at the time. That’s why we’ve used the expression of “a higher calling.”

“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Galatians 4:28-29).

Those “born after the flesh” [the Born Again Ones] persecuted him [the Justified Ones] who was born after the Spirit. Even so it is now!

The Apostle concludes the allegory with the remedy:

“Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (Galatians 4:30-31).

This is very caustic language which Paul used as he, under inspiration, quoted Genesis 21:9-10.

As Bible Mountaineers, we should not be surprised, as we trek upward, that those who stay behind may very well be the many who are “called” and are not part of those who are “chosen.”


[ i ] During the Acts of the Apostles, beginning at Acts 2 through Acts 28, believers experienced a foretaste of the Kingdom of God: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,” (Hebrews 6:4-5).




In these studies, we have noted the various groups, or factions of believers, during the Acts period. To some extent, each group brought into their new found faith some carry-over ideas from their previous “religion;” whether they were from the sect of the Pharisees, or synagogue attending Jews or Gentiles. It should be kept in mind that it is never easy to “unlearn that which we had previously been taught,” or that “which we always believed.” New Testament believers were no different, in that respect, than when we began to come to the knowledge of the Truth. After having embraced the Truth of the Mystery, most of us experienced the wrenching away from things that we unwittingly tried to hold on to. That is to say, those traditional doctrines we were brought up to believe to be true. We shed those false, traditional doctrines slowly, just as dead leaves on trees do not fall off the branches all at once. They are shed gradually; many dead leaves cling tenaciously to the branches until the new growth of Spring causes them to lose their grip and fall worthlessly to the ground.

Those who will persevere in Truth will finally come to the point that the dead leaves of traditional teaching have fallen to the ground worthlessly, and a new growth blooms. Then, we are amazed that the new understanding far surpasses that which fell to the ground.

All of that was said to say this; those who came out of the pre-Acts period into the Pentecostal dispensation carried with them dead leaves. Not all of the leaves fell off upon them believing the Gospel which was heralded by the Twelve or the Apostle Paul. There were carry-over ideas which were not in complete harmony with Pentecostal Truth; whether it be for the “Born Again Ones” or for the “Justified Ones.”


All of the New Testament writings were written during the Acts of the Apostles. Paul’s post-Acts epistles are not New Testament truth. The inspired writings which make up the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, 1st, 2nd Peter, James, Jude, Revelation, Hebrews, Romans, 1st, 2nd Corinthians, 1st, 2nd Thessalonians, and Galatians.

The New Testament writers believed that the “hope of Israel” was at hand. The “hope of Israel” was more than just the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom. It embodied such things as “the times of refreshing,” and “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). This speaks of the lifting of the Adamic “curse,” and the re-creation of the present heavens and earth (cf. Isaiah 65:17-25).

Paul elaborates on the removal of the universal curse in Romans 8:21-25:

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning [because of the curse] as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope [the removal of the curse] we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” NIV

The five verses, above spoke of an aspect of “Israel’s hope” which will also be the hope of the world. There will be a reversal of a phenomenon that had puzzled Old Testament Hebrews; “Why are some people born deaf, dumb, and blind?” “Why are some people born crippled?” “Why do men die?” “Why are there premature deaths?” They thought these things were the result of the sins of the parents, or sins of the sinners.

The phenomenon was not revealed for perhaps 4,000 years, until Paul was given the answer:

Romans 5:12; “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” All mankind, being in the loins of Adam, sinned “in Adam.” Death and all of the disfigurements of the human race are the result of Adam’s sin.

Romans 5:14; “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

Romans 5:18; “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;”

Romans 5:19; “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, …”

Romans 5:21; “That as sin hath reigned unto death, …”

Allow me to digress (or change the subject) for a bit. A Jewish rabbi wrote a best-selling book some years ago entitled, Why Bad Things Happen To Good People. Our family was going through very difficult times, and a well-meaning Christian gave us the book to read. To please him, I took the book and read it. It was a “good” book. I’m sure it was an encouragement to a world “of lost people.” However, the dear rabbi missed the whole reason why people suffer, and bad things happen.

Have you ever questioned, “Why me Lord?” Or, “Lord what have I done to deserve this?” Or, another question, “Lord, why are you punishing me?” I know many who have asked these questions: Why are children born handicapped? Why do fatal accidents happen to loved ones?

Why are there earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornados, floods, volcanic eruptions, mud-slides, forest fires, droughts, famines, snow storms, lightning strikes, hail storms, heat waves, avalanches, buildings collapsing, train wrecks, wars, diseases, and all manner of calamities? All of the above takes its’ toll on lives and property. Why? The answer is simple—because of ONE MAN’S SIN.

So, we shouldn’t blame God. The blame lies on one man, Adam.

It is mind-boggling to think what havoc was caused by one man’s disobedience. But, part of Israel’s hope and that of mankind is that all of the consequences of Adam’s sin will be reversed. When all things are restored to the pristine pre-flood condition, the earth will again be Paradise. Death will not reign! But, instead, life and all of its abundance will reign! (John 10:10).

No prophecy has to be fulfilled for the restitution of all things to take place. None of the “End Time” preachers of Prophecy even mention this monumental event. It’s as if none of the Holy Prophets spoke about it. It’s as if Peter never mentioned it. It’s as if Paul never wrote about it. Quite frankly, we know of very few dispensational teachers, or believers, who even acknowledge it as having a significant part in their understanding of the Bible. When asked about it, I’ve seen them answer with a shrug, “Oh, that will happen at the 2nd Coming of Christ.” No, this extraordinary phenomenon occurs when Titus 2:13 becomes a reality:

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;” NAS

All the Lord has to do is speak from heaven, and a dynamic power will be exerted by the energy of His Voice that He will make all things new. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks from heaven, and the nations melt into submission (Psalm 46:6). When He utters His voice, wars shall cease (Psalm 46:9). This is long before His rule for a millennium. This is part of His glory which will be made manifest.

The New Testament writers believed that the Kingdom of God was at hand because they continued to proclaim that which the Lord Jesus taught (Hebrews 2:3). The Apostle Paul, also, heralded; “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

However, Paul went beyond what the Twelve taught. He was given an abundance of revelation (truth on a higher plane). The additional revelations given to Paul were not only hard for the “Born Again Ones” to understand, but in the main, they rejected the revelations Paul taught.

There is evidence in Acts 20:28-31 that many of his dear ones of Ephesus would be drawn away from doctrines he preached.

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in (Born Again Ones) among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves (Justified Ones) shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Even then, as it is today, the fountainhead of all disputations, strivings, contentions, and jealousies among believers is the arch-enemy—Satan.

When the “Acts of the Apostles” ended, the Apostle Paul found himself a prisoner in his own hired house in Rome; however, he was able to receive all that came to him. He continued to preach the Kingdom of God and teaching those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:30-31).

For the most part, Christians were taught Christ by eye-witness accounts of the Apostles, by the revelations of Paul and from the Old Testament.

Sometime after the Acts period closed, suddenly, there broke upon the scene a radical departure from the Acts period Truth. The coming Kingdom was postponed, and a new dispensation was ushered in. Israel was now numbered among the nations with no privileges or priorities. If Paul’s ministry had been hard to comprehend during the Acts economy, what must have believers thought when they were informed that all of the promises were set aside, and that an unprophesied administration was underway? And, that’s not all; Paul was even writing and saying that to him, alone, was given the revelation of the Mystery which had previously been hidden for ages and generations.

Without going into the details of the Mystery, we should point out that Paul informed the new calling that they had another set of apostles, excluding the Twelve. If saints wanted to know what God was now doing, they would have to come to grips with the testimony of the Lord’s prisoner. Failure to believe the Apostle Paul was to sit in darkness. Only Paul had the key to what happened after Acts closed. He, alone, had the key to what happened to the gifts of the Spirit. He alone had the key to why the Hope of Israel was postponed. Without his knowledge, believers were plunged into perplexity and confusion.

Even after the Mystery was made known, the believers who were only regenerated, and who had not moved onto perfection, continued in the doctrine of the Apostles of the Circumcision as though nothing had happened. They continued in their own way, waiting for the Kingdom to come.

When the Kingdom didn’t come after a number of years, Christianity wound up in the hands of Gentile clerics. They rejected Paul’s latest report from God, assuming for “the church” all of the promises God made to Israel and claiming them for themselves. They relegated the curses to Israel. The Gentile clerics started building “The Church.”

What is seen in Christendom, today, is the development of Christianity without the vaguest idea of God’s purpose and plan for today.