OUR ELDER BROTHER PAUL
We all have, no doubt, since baptism, used the lives of many of the faithful of old, as recorded in the Scriptures of Truth, as the basis for our own behaviour and lifestyle, especially as we look to manifesting the character of Yahweh.
There is, from the annals of Scripture, one who is such a great example for us that we would do well to consider some of the lessons from his life today. The brother I refer to is our elder brother Paul.
We could look at so many others and benefit greatly, yet to look at one so devoted to his master can do nothing but good for us all. Yahweh said to the adversary of Job:
“And Yahweh said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth Elohim, and escheweth evil?” (Job 2:3)
Our Lord Jesus Christ could have said much the same of Paul, and not have been out of order.
Paul was one who was totally devoted to his Lord, he was one of great modesty, not one held to boasting or self-aggrandisement, but he was also one who was courageous in his promotion and defence of the Truth. He was consistent in his practice of those things he taught; he placed things Divine to the forefront of his mind, and life. The Deity was to the foreground in all he did, said or thought.
Yahweh was not a theory with him, as He is with the religious world of today, but He was all in all to Paul. Yahweh was a total fact of life in Paul’s life, and Paul was a true and devoted brother to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul treated the Gospel not merely as the Gospel of the Kingdom, but he stated in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2:
“For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of Yahweh” (1 Thess. 2:9)
That shows how Paul thought, the gospel of Yahweh, telling us that Yahweh is the author and owner of the Gospel and gives it to us through His love and mercy.
Yahweh was so important to him that he had his mind solely set upon Yahweh and His purpose that nothing else mattered. Such an attitude and way of life explains how Paul was able to leave us such a vast array of exposition and wisdom— although we know he was inspired to write as he did.
Paul considered himself to be an ambassador of Elohim through his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, as he explains in 2 Corinthians 5:20:
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though Elohim did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to Elohim”
He always placed Elohim first, as he did with the Athenians:
“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN MIGHTY ONE. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. Yahweh that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Adon of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands…”
He reminded them, that “and He (Yahweh) commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:23-24).
And also to the men at Lystra, he exhorted in Acts 14:15:
“And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living Elohim, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein”
Paul in having Yahweh as his first love in both thought and deed is a wonderful example to us, Brethren and Sisters, and an example we can relate to so well, as there is much written by Paul, and about Paul in the Scriptures of Truth. Yahweh has in His wisdom again left us with much to assist us in our walk to His Glory.
Paul takes us to the true authorship of the Gospel in Ephesians 1:9, where he states
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself”.
The record of the Gospel as recorded by Paul firstly establishes Yahweh’s love as the first and primary feature of Yahweh’s character. Without the love of Yahweh, we know, do we not, that our existence would be just temporary and we would fade as the flower of the field, and blow away unseen and forgotten. When the love of Yahweh is taken from the record of the Gospel as Paul records, the power, beauty and majesty of that record is destroyed. Yahweh’s righteousness is then replaced by man’s ego, the fault that our lord Jesus Christ found so often with the Pharisees, and commented upon in John 5:42 where he says that with all their compliance with Moses they place more credence on law than the love of their Father:
“But I know you, that ye have not the love of Elohim in you”
They loved the praise of men more than the praise of Yahweh as explained in John 12:43, because the praise of men was instant and visible and it then becomes combined with the pride of life with which we all suffer and that requires not a developed faith in an unseen Deity.
It is very real and possible, Brethren and Sisters, that we may acknowledge Christ, know the elementary facts of the Truth, be called Christadelphians, and yet be dead, not knowing the Father, who as we should read on Sundays, is the head of Christ, and without whom Christ has no meaning.
To love Yahweh and all His was more than whole burnt offerings and sacrifices as the Scribe so rightly answered the Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 12:33 when Christ was discussing the first commandment of all with the Scribe. The Lord them complimented the Scribe on his comment regarding Jesus’ answer to the question, saying that he was not “far from the kingdom of Yahweh”.
Therefore, to love Yahweh is more than money earning, degree getting, follower gathering, or any other human pursuit we may indulge in which has no recognition of the Creator of heaven and earth. Some earthly pursuits do have their place in our lives, but they must be tempered with, and guided by, our love for our Heavenly Father. The first commandment as recognised by the Scribe of Mark 12 is just that:
“And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33)
It was the “First Commandment”, the first as meaning the greatest commandment of the law and the Gospel.
Such a love was exemplified in the life of Paul; even before his enlightenment on the road to Damascus, as we are told in Acts 22:3, where Paul, starting his defence before the people, after his arrest in Jerusalem, said that he was a zealous man towards Yahweh prior to his conversion, implying that his zealousness was misguided, as it definitely was at that time. After Paul’s conversion there is no denying that he was a true and living embodiment for all that the love of Yahweh stands.
Today, especially in the society in which we live in, here in Australia, men are ashamed to acknowledge Yahweh, or think they have no need to so do. Some time ago in the early 2000’s I read a report in The West Australian newspaper that told of less than 10% of Australians regularly attending religious services and I have no doubt it is even less now in 2020, and when those religious connections are of no value in regard to the Truth about Yahweh, the point is even strengthened.
What a different attitude our elder Brother had!
There are two passages in which Paul directly states his unashamed attitude for the things divine, and one other, Titus’s report of the love and affection shown to him by the Brethren and Sisters of Corinth and how Paul was unashamed of the things previously preached to the Ecclesia, which was then manifested in their actions towards Titus.
In Romans 1:16 we have that well known, much quoted statement that explains Paul’s reasons for his attitude to Yahweh.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of Yahweh unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of Yahweh revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).
The love Paul had for his fellow man, of all races, and by extension, of all creeds is shown here, but that love then becomes conditional. It would not continue if those unto whom it was extended refused to take the Gospel into their own lives, as the chapter continues.
Romans 1:18-22 shows the results of refusing Yahweh and His love:
“For the wrath of Yahweh is revealed from heaven against all wickedness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of Yahweh is manifest in them; for Yahweh hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and mightiness; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew Yahweh, they glorified Him not as Elohim, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”
Then the chapter continues showing where the flesh takes man after it has dominated him. Paul’s love for his Elohim and the Gospel of Yahweh is here displayed quite clearly, and Paul shows that Yahweh has offered ALL men the hope and promises of The Gospel, and that He will love and support them until they refuse Him.
Our conversation should also, at all times reflect our full and faithful devotion towards Yahweh and His will:
- Do we have His pleasure at the forefront of our mind during our daily walk?
- Do we add the rider to our daily conversation of “If Yahweh wills”?
At times that may almost seem inappropriate considering the environment of the conversation, and maybe likened to spreading pearls before swine, yet a little seed may be sown by our conversation and that is one of the most important things we can do in this life, — spread the seed of the Truth. There has been many anecdotes told of people coming into contact with The Truth from inconsequential conversations creating a spark that is turned into a fire even many years from the original conversation.
James puts a well-explained perspective upon this point in James 4, whilst explaining our relationship with Yahweh and with the world, in verses 13 & 14:
“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”.
The point here is that we should emphasize the will of Yahweh, “If Yahweh wills” we will do this or do that. This was the habit of Paul, to whom we are looking as our example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Look with me at Acts 18, and in verse 21, where as Paul is leaving Ephesus, he says to the Jews who desired that he stay with them a while longer, verse 20:
“When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if Yahweh will. And he sailed from Ephesus”.
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 4:19, whilst discussing the prospect of him visiting them he states:
“But I will come to you shortly, if Yahweh will…”
Again, in Romans there are two more examples, in Chapter 1:10, where he prays for a prosperous journey to see them, and in chapter 15:32 he prays
“That I may come unto you by the will of Yahweh and may with you be refreshed.”
Paul’s example of placing the will of Yahweh before all other things, was taken up by the brethren at Caesarea, at the house of Philip, when Agabus the prophet told of Paul’s impending trouble with the Jews at Jerusalem. The brethren pleaded with Paul; reading from Acts 21:12-14:
“And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of Yahweh be done””.
I have here a list of some occurrences where Paul places his actions and thoughts in the hand of Yahweh, and from which we can learn a great deal as to our own behavior in such matters:
If a door was opened to Paul, it was opened to him “of Yahweh”, 2 Cor 2:12.
If Paul lived in all good conscience, it was “before Yahweh”, Acts 23:1.
If he spoke with special emphasis, it was “before Yahweh in Christ”, 2 Cor 12:19.
If he abstained from lying, it was before Yahweh, Gal 1:20.
If he addressed himself in an especially solemn way, it was before Yahweh, 1 Tim 5:21, 2 Tim 4:1.
If he desired a witness to the truth of his assertions, it was unto Yahweh that he served, Rom 1:9, Philippians 1:8, 1 Thess 2:5
Paul also desired to comfort his brethren in the fact that Yahweh was faithful who would not suffer them to be tempted above that they were able to bear, 1 Cor 10:13.
So, brethren and sisters, what are the exhortations of Paul’s character and attitude towards his Elohim that we can take to heart?
In 1 Corinthians 11 verse 1, which many of us read before partaking of the emblems of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul exhorts his readers to “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” As the King James version puts it. Other versions substitute the word “imitators” for “followers” and that is closer to the root word according to Strong’s Concordance. Therefore, we can take the Spirits hand in guiding Paul’s as he wrote these words as being in alliance with Paul’s words and the meaning to be that Yahweh wishes us to follow in Paul’s recorded footsteps in the way he lived his life. He did things according to the will of Yahweh, he expressed and showed his love for Yahweh as his first love, emulating his Lord and Master, even The Lord Jesus Christ. Yahweh’s will was to the forefront of his mind at all times it appears and so it should be for us. Yes, we will fail at times, we have sin in our flesh BUT we have been shown by our dear Lord Jesus Christ that that can be overcome, and Paul was an imitator of him as 1 Cor. 11:1 tells us.
Paul constantly followed in the footsteps of his lord and Master, who as we know followed and developed the character of his Father, so brethren and sisters, why can’t we?
To that end, let us pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.