God had reserved this man, Saul of Tarsus, and his conversion, for such a time; for, He would genuinely strive for the restoration of the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea particularly through the original Apostles whom he had ordained and sent forth, and, through this means, any potential repentance in the heart of God was then unobserved, as concerning the immediate purpose to eminently “restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). Thus were the apostles placed into the throes of the repentings which were kindled together in the heart of God over the 1st century Jews who had rejected his dear Son.
Though by no means unaware of the ability of God to repent (which is bewrayed even in the very question they asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”, Acts 1:6), they were unaware of how the Lord would ultimately reach the “uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8)! The mystery of this was not that he would save the Gentiles at all, but rather when, and in what manner! This was revealed to none other, but him whom the Lord Himself had appointed to the task — the apostle Paul!
Therefore at the appointed time, namely at the threshold of the Jew’s utter perversity having overflowed unto the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7); when the Pharisees — the strictest sect among the Jews — could not refute that mighty signs and wonders were wrought in the name of this Jesus of Nazareth by the hands of His disciple’s (Acts 4:16-18), they stopped their ears with their fingers, and gnashed upon the man of God with their teeth, and stoned him with stones… a young man, Saul of Tarsus, standing by consenting to his death (Acts 7:58; 8:1). This was the moment that THE SHIFT is defined in the book of Acts, for it was this act of persecution which ushered the move of the apostles and ministers of the 1st Church, out of Jerusalem & Judea, and unto Samaria (Acts 8:1). From thenceforth THE SHIFT from the exclusive call for the Jew’s repentance, unto the general, and overwhelming, call to the Gentiles to trust on the name of Jesus the Messiah for justification of life (Rom. 5:18), is being introduced and vindicated.
Therefore, is Paul here, at this vital point in this tragic narrative, being introduced; for of him it was declared — at his conversion — “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15)! And from what we have hitherto observed through the formative understanding of apostles being entrusted with the interpretations of parables/proverbs/mysteries, then we must, at this stage in the narrative, wonder in amazement at what Christ is about to reveal to this newly ordained — and at that, strangely ordained — Apostle to THE GENTILES!
No doubt that Paul’s calling was the vital catalyst to the reaping of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, just as the apostle Peter was the vital instrument under Christ to open the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles. Of this vital necessity of Paul’s part in regard to the declaring of the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, Paul writes in Galatians 2:7,8, “The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (for he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles).” Moreover, in a most staggering declaration of what significantly marked Paul’s ministry, and set him apart to such a degree, Paul states, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” (Gal. 1:11,12)!
This declaration, I must remind you, came from the man who declared himself as, “one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15:8)… That is to say, as reads the margin, he was “an abortive(tion)”! So unworthy was he, unprepared, unfit, unformed — and that, relative to those apostles that were with Christ in the flesh for the entire duration of His earthly ministry! He called himself a “botched abortion”! One that should have never come to the position of stature to which he had been called! His conversion experience was not even typical, as with sudden violence and force he was brought by divine blows out from the womb of his relentless slaughter of the Church of God, and his weariless zeal to persecute the Body of Christ on earth! This man was unexpectedly brought to the light, even as a premature infant is suddenly seized from the womb of his mother by the violence of some external force, which without question will mean certain death to the child — yet, Lo, the child survives to tell the story! Thus is the testimony of the Apostle to THE GENTILES!.. No doubt that this is to set forth a testimony to all these peoples to whom it was said by God — “Loammi” (i.e. "not my people”)! “For ye are not my people, and I will not be your God” (Hos. 1:9). And yet, “it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God” (Hos. 1:10)!
This staggering confession of Paul (Gal. 1:11,12) was not, as some might deem it, an unfounded, proud self-aggrandizement above the other apostles, but was soberly reckoned upon due to the undeniable REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST which he received (Gal. 1:12)! This staggering statement — THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST — is used only in two other places in the New Testament, and is exceedingly strong in what it implies! Once it is used by the apostle Peter in speaking of the 2nd Coming of Christ, and therefore is exceedingly glorious, and ineffable, worthy to be declared with such strong emphasis! Another instance, most famously, is that which is spoken of in the 1st verse of the 1st chapter of the last book in the New Testament, in which is transcribed the rapturous, and inexpressibly sweet scenes of glory, and the unutterable woe, torment, and distress reserved for the wicked in the end of time, and in eternity, which was given to John exclusively, in what is therefore called: THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST! And with this cloud of the mysterious unknown of the dispensations of God, hid in Christ from the beginning of the world, surrounding this statement, Paul steadfastly affirms: “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST” (Gal. 1:12)!
This revelation of Christ was not that which he was made to see of Him “in the way”, according to Barnabas, in Acts 9:27 (which of itself was enough to have authorized the apostolic ministry of Paul, I Cor. 15:8), this revelation was, moreover, a further revelation not only of Christ Himself, but “hidden wisdom” (I Cor. 2:7) from Christ Himself to Paul for the unveiling of the hidden purpose of God in redeeming the Gentiles — at the expense of the Jews, and not to their credit (as was originally detailed in the pages of Holy Writ), and this is what needed special REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST!
Presumably, while Paul was in Arabia, he was granted to behold mysteries that the Lord had reserved, even from His apostles that continued with him through all of His temptations of His earthly ministry in the days of His flesh! Namely, the Lord had hidden the mystery which pertained to the redemption of the Gentile/Heathen nations of the earth, for this was not ready to be disclosed of the Lord till the persistent rebellion of the Jews was manifested through the strivings of the 12 apostles, whom He sent to this end. It was needful, therefore, that an apostle would be granted to the Gentiles, in like manner to the Jews, for, what had been successfully established through approximately 2k years of Jewish Church history (from Abraham —> Christ) — the Lord establishing salvation in the Jewish national context, and, furthermore, how that THROUGH their conversion, regathering, and restoration in the end of time, He would orchestrate the grand and superior GENTILE CHURCH AGE ("grand and superior”, in respect to the present-tense fulfilling of THE GENTILE CHURCH AGE) — was not yet established for what would be (existing then in the mind of God alone) another 2k year period of redemptive history, only now among the Gentiles of the earth! This unforeseen situation in the end of the world (which occurred 2k years ago) requires revelatory knowledge to be imparted from heaven! And of this Paul wrote in Romans 16:25-27, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”
This specific body of doctrine (in which are “some things hard to be understood”, II Pet. 3:15,16) was that which the Lord chose to specifically reveal to the apostle Paul in the gospel of the uncircumcision which was given to him (Gal. 2:7,8). These things which men through their ignorance perished for the want of in the midst of the 1st century (II Pet. 3:15,16), comprise now, and fuel the machinery which is presently, effectually saving all the Gentiles across the vast regions of the formerly unknown world, who have believed on His name!
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
— Eph. 3:1-12