Paul: the only apostle to the gentiles?

I’ve encountered some dispensationalists who claim that Paul is the ONLY apostle for the gentiles. In responding to them about their false claims about the Catholic Church, they deflect any scriptural evidence from the gospels by saying that they were only written for the Jews. (In fact they’ve gone so far as to say that the gospels should rightly be considered part of the Old Testament.)

This was sort of a new one on me. Anyone know how this sort of interpretation came about and how to approach it as a Catholic apologist? It seems like something that would be fairly easy to counter logically but the committment these folks have to this belief is so deep that I doubt anything (except the Holy Spirit) would get them to question it.

You might mention that, as in many other things, Peter was actually the first Apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 10 where God sent him to Cornelius and he baptized the whole household. (Oops! Up pops that infant baptism thing to along with the primacy of Peter! Be prepared for some detours)

I’ve heard it called the right reading of scripture. It is a royal load of hooy. They will even pount out that the epistles not by Paul are also not for Christians either. You can also ask what it means when Paul says that all scripture is profitable for instruction. He did not say that gentiles pay attention to me and jews to everyone else.

I also have been hearing more and more of this type of argument from those who profess “saved by faith alone.” St. Paul has become the ultimate authority for them.

It seems that they feel that anything that refers to “works” in the New Testament does not pertain to Christians who have been “saved.”

I’ve had them say to me that the reference to the Final Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 does not apply to Christians, and that it only applies to those who do not get “raptured.”

This type of belief is a logical result of pre-millenial dispensationalist theology–otherwise known as rapturism. It’s the kind of theology you see in the *Left Behind * series. In general, they believe that Jesus first brought the Gospel to the Jews of his time (Plan A) , who by and large rejected it. As a result, God decided to “temporarily” work through the Gentiles in the Church (Plan B) until the End Times (i.e, the rapture). Then he will resume Plan A with the Jews and set up a 1000 year rain. Sooo…
the OT and the Gospels were meant for the Jews, and they will apply to the Jews again during the 1000 year reign.

This line of thinking also handily negates the requirement for the Church to obey the moral law so clearly required in both the OT and by Jesus in the gospels. Works righteousness and all that stuff.

Sound confusing? It is. But it the length that the inventors and believers of the Rapture theory will go to to deny the existence of a visible Church–the Roman Catholic Church.

I should add that to find out more about dispensational belief, there are three excellent books that I’d recommend:
*
Will Catholics Be Left Behind*, by Carl Olsen :thumbsup:
The Rapture Trap, by Paul Thigpen
The Rapture, by David Curie

Thanks everyone. I’m pretty well acquainted with the whole rapture belief. I’ve read Olsen’s and Thigpen’s books and I’ve read parts of Currie’s. I just had not until recently encountered anyone with such a strict view about the writings of Paul. It seems a pretty convenient way to rationalize the scriptural contradictions to the rapture belief. (Sort of a “whatever disagrees with my view doesn’t count” argument, eh?)

Scriptural arguments aside, it just FEELS wrong to believe that an eternal all-powerful God would need to have a Plan A and a Plan B.

[quote=Socrates]I’ve encountered some dispensationalists who claim that Paul is the ONLY apostle for the gentiles. In responding to them about their false claims about the Catholic Church, they deflect any scriptural evidence from the gospels by saying that they were only written for the Jews. (In fact they’ve gone so far as to say that the gospels should rightly be considered part of the Old Testament.)

This was sort of a new one on me. Anyone know how this sort of interpretation came about and how to approach it as a Catholic apologist? It seems like something that would be fairly easy to counter logically but the committment these folks have to this belief is so deep that I doubt anything (except the Holy Spirit) would get them to question it.
[/quote]

So when Jesus said at the end of the Gospels go and teach to all the nations he really meant the Jews…:hmmm:

No there is one Gospel for all nations…

Socrates,

I have been down this road a time or two! Though I have been somewhat a dispensationalist in the past, my theology was somewhat of a less extreme sort.

Most of the theology that comes from the fundementalist dispenstionalist is “trickle down theology.” It started in the 1800’s.

It is amazing how people have gone to those extremes to undermine the correct teachings of the Catholic Church. There really is no getting them to change their mind. Most of them are not seeking truth but are only out to defend their doctrine. So no matter what you say or prove you will not change them.

So when Jesus said at the end of the Gospels go and teach to all the nations he really meant the Jews…

Just “role playing” in my head, I think they’d argue that “all the nations” means all the gentiles, because God has a completely different plan for the Jews.

I have considered Pauls epistles to be the Gospel according to Paul and should be able to stand on their own considering the people he ministered to oft had no Jewish background and Pauls had not copies of other Gospels.

This makes some sense. But the idea that Paul was the ONLY apostle to the Gentiles is ludicrous just by reading Acts: Peter & Cornelius, Philip and the Ethopian eunch. Then later we have John writing from Patmos, and Peter’s letters which were for all the Church, not just Jewish followers of Christ. As a protestant pastor, I would suggest that if you run into someone who isn’t willing to consider the evidence that is in scripture itself then the best recourse is probably Jesus’ instruction to brush the dust from your feet and move on. These people aren’t willing to listen to anything except what they already are convinced of and you’re not going to change that no matter how strong the facts are in your favor.

I’m a Bible Believing Christian (don’t belong to a church) and I can say that there is no rapture.

I can see how this is confusing :wink:
Galations 2
7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

But I guess I’m making this up.

To say that Paul had a special mission to the Gentiles is one thing, but no where does this imply that ONLY Paul was to be an apostle to the Gentiles. To use this verse to substantiate that claim, then Peter is the only apostle to the circumcised.

So, to whom are the rest of the Apostles apostles to if Peter is the ONLY apostle to the Jews and Paul the ONLY apostle to the Gentiles. Perhaps the rest were apostles to outspace aliens? Or maybe they weren’t really apostles at all? But I don’t believe either of those last two possiblities and I doubt you do either. So, if they were apostles then they were apostles to someone. And that someone to whom they were apostles was either Jewish or Gentile. If they were Jewish, then the argument of exclusivity of anyone being the ONLY apostle to one group of people based on Galatians 2 does not hold.

Not to be snotty about it, but never argue with a fool; an innocent bystander may not be able to tell the difference.

There are certain individuals with whom it is not worth the time or effort to engage in “discussion”. I just move on.

That is a snide remark.

Tell me of all your wisdom?

Yes i never offered that Paul was the ONLY but thought my comment maybe relevant given those listening to Paul and presumably others were the first called Christians.

As a protestant pastor, I would suggest that if you run into someone who isn’t willing to consider the evidence that is in scripture itself then the best recourse is probably Jesus’ instruction to brush the dust from your feet and move on. These people aren’t willing to listen to anything except what they already are convinced of and you’re not going to change that no matter how strong the facts are in your favor.

Yes Brethren these words are wise, i try to be careful b4 moving on that the message has been delivered clearly and understood, if i can.

My experience is we humans are terrible communicators.

By His will may you b blessed in the name you claim

I should have offered you all,

Who are you apostle to?

For most of us i think that answers the thread question as no.

This is rather a silly argument. It is like saying that John was the only disciple that Jesus loved, just because that is how John recalls his Divine Master and his relationship to Him. I can’t imagine the other Twelve calling John by the title, the disciple that Jesus loved, especially given the sons’ of Zebedee proclivity to aspiring to be the best by having the best positions. This was John’s simple and humble way of referring to himself in answer to his own pride.

All the Apostles followed the same modus operandi. When they went to a new area, they first sought out the Jewish community and announced the Gospel as the fulfillment of the Covenant and the Prophecies, and they answered arguments with scriptural and theological reasoning. Then they moved on, just as Paul did. Paul recognized that he had been called to the Gentile churches and lands, originally by Barnabas, but then confirmed by Peter at Jerusalem. What he means by, Peter to the Jews and he to the Gentiles, is, a recognition of Peter’s role as head of the visible church. That is to say, the Apostles recognized that they had a problem, so to speak, in the transition from the Old Covenant to the New, and bringing as many of the Jews into the Church of the Messiah as possible. It was left to Peter, as head of the Church, to deal with that problem. Peter named James the Less, an Apostle, to head the Church of Jerusalem, and to limit his ministry to handling that problem, and he became such an edification to the Jews with his exemplary life, that they called him “the Just”. Peter was delayed in leaving Jerusalem by addressing this problem, and seeing that it was handled rightly. It was of the utmost importance that the theological explanations and proofs be provided for the transition in the most respectful way to do justice to the faith of the Patriarchs and Prophets. The rest of the Apostles, like James the Greater, left much earlier to different lands, to those with known Jewish settlements first. Paul was simply saying that Jerusalem was Peter’s problem, not his, in spite of his deeper education in Jewish Law and Scripture. His mission lay with fulfilling the prophecies about the opening of faith to the nations. As Paul was aware, the whole Church was an opening to the Gentile Nations, and all the Apostles were bringing true worship to heathens that had rejected it since Babel. He, as also the other Apostles, was painfully aware that the rejection of Christ by the Jewish leaders was an historic event that would mean that the Church would not be whole until much later in history when they would finally accept Christ and come into the Church. Paul knows the pain and the division of this, yet sees it as providential. Peter did not himself stay in Jerusalem, nor was it said that he was its first bishop, because he ultimately was the head of the Gentile Church, and had to set his see and headship at the center of the Gentile world, Rome.

Paul also saw the fulfillment of his ministry as giving witness to Rome, and long aspired to go there. His mission to Jerusalem was only to be charitable with funds to support the Church there under great pressure from the Jews, and to demonstrate that there was no division between himself and James. He had Rome as his objective, again with its large Jewish presence. But he said his work in Asia minor was complete, and he was looking for further lands to evangelize, not martyrdom per se. He was rejoicing that now the whole world would be submitting themselves to true worship of the True God through the enlightenment of Christ, our Savior. It was God who decided that He wanted both His witnesses to give their ultimate and lasting witness together there.

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