Thursday, April 11, 2013

Did Paul Die Twice?

Acts 14:19-20
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been deadHowbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

From my study of the scriptures, not just this passage but the entire Bible rightly divided, in every instance where someone was stoned, they died.  Here are just a few examples:

Numbers 15:36
And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.

1 Kings 12:18a
Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died.

1 Kings 21:14
Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Acts 7:59-60
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died].

I believe that when Paul was stoned and then rose up, it was a miracle of God in order to magnify Paul’s office.

Romans 11:13
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

When God the Holy Spirit writes that verse through the apostle, he wants to magnify, not Paul the man but, his apostleship.  He was sent to the Gentiles by Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:8-9
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me [Paul] toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [Gentiles], and they unto the circumcision.

1 Timothy 2:7
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Watch what happens in Acts 14:20..

Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him,
The disciples were believers—particularly—gentiles, but also Jews – members of the church the body of Christ.
he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Those people who believed that Paul was Christ’s sent one to them watched him die; but they also witnessed a miracle of God that confirmed Paul’s apostleship.  I believe Paul died and in 2 Corinthians he talks about this unique experience.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

He heard the angels speak in their tongue.

1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

When angels speak to men on earth, God gives them the tongues of men.  Paul could hear what was taking place in heaven.   I believe that when Paul heard those unspeakable words, they were spoken in the heavenly language: tongues of angels.

The timing of the stoning of Paul in Acts 14:20 seems to fit with when he wrote 2 Corinthians.  So I believe he died and God sent him back.  What was the purpose of this miracle in which God allowed those Christians to see Paul die and then resurrect?

Romans 15:19
Through mighty signs and wonders,
(As Paul is out ministering during his apostolic journeys, God is doing mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem where he started, and out to Illyricum amongst the gentiles, Paul fully preaches the gospel.)
by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

It is interesting that early in his ministry when Paul was preaching the gospel of Christ, God is enabling him to do mighty signs and wonders in order to strengthen the saints.  Today we do not need mighty signs and wonders from God to be convinced of Paul’s apostleship.  We have his 13 epistles, as well as the books of Acts and 2 Peter in which Peter tells the little flock of Jewish believers to listen to Paul who has God’s word.

2 Peter 3:15-16
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.

The book of Acts shows Paul’s commission and ministry.  His 13 epistles verify that ministry.  God doesn’t need a miracle today to confirm to you and me that Paul is our apostle because we have the complete word of God.  But before it was complete, God used those mighty signs and wonders to not only prove Paul’s apostleship, but also to strengthen the saints.  In addition, Acts is written to the nation of Israel and the Jews require a sign.

1 Corinthians 1:22a
For the Jews require a sign,

As the Jews read the book of Acts they could recognize that Paul was God’s man because of all those miracles that God did through him.

The Jews required a visible sign, whereas the Church, the Body of Christ does not...

2 Corinthians 5:7
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

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