We have established that the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached was a revelation; that he was not taught it in a Bible school, and that it had not a trace of human wisdom or philosophy or thinking in it. In other words, it was not in any way tampered with by man; otherwise, he claims, it would have ceased to be the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether Bible schools spawn many of the human philosophies that we see coming with the gospel today is a topic for debate. What is clearly not debatable, from Paul’s words and experience, is that no amount of learning can reveal Christ in a man’s heart. That is something only the Spirit of God can do!
We have also determined that the revelation Paul is talking of here is not a heavenly vision or a dream, but rather he is talking about the Person of the risen Lord Jesus Himself, and the power that resurrected Him from the dead. He it was who appeared to him, took hold of him, worked in him and transformed him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Again, it was more than the mere act of being born again.
But before we proceed… It is important at this stage to point out that the other Apostles of the early Church also received the gospel they preached by the same revelation of Jesus as Paul did. The Bible says that when Peter and John were being questioned by the Sanhedrin, the members of the Sanhedrin saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceiving that they were unlearned and ignorant men, “they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The Apostles’ very demeanor, the way they handled themselves in the face of the threat that was before them proved to everyone that they had met with an experience that was way past human reasoning in the way it emboldened and empowered them, and all the Jews present knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this power was that of the risen Lord Himself. Whether believers in the resurrection from the dead (the Pharisees) or not (the Sadducees), all present saw a manifestation of the power of God in the conduct of these lowly men, a manifestation they could not deny; just as they would see it in the face of Stephen a short while later as they questioned him concerning his faith. The reason they did not believe was not because they did not realize that what these men were saying was the truth, no! it was simply because their hearts were hardened, something which we will look into later since it is of central importance to my defence here!
I do not believe there was a difference in the gospel given to the Apostles and the gospel given to Paul. In the first place it had to be only one gospel, the one prophesied upon by the prophets, the gospel of universal salvation for all mankind. Secondly, neither Paul, nor the other Apostles indicated that the gospel any of them received was different from the one the others received. On the contrary, Paul himself writes in Corinthians thus: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1 Cor. 15:3-8) Note the word “also” here. All the Apostles saw the same Lord, they drank from the same Rock.
But I believe there is a fundamental difference in the way God allowed Paul to receive the revelation of that gospel in his heart. I also believe that an understanding of this is key to comprehending the gospel that we carry today.
The Apostle Peter says, “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…” (2 Pet. 3:15)