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What Was the Content of Paul’s Teaching?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Acts of the Apostles, Part 11

by Tim Chaffey on September 13, 2011
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Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., looks at the example of the Apostle Paul and explains that Christians are expected to mature in their understanding of Scripture.

“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26–27)

Today’s big question: what was the content of Paul’s Teaching?

The Apostle Paul is often cited as one of the greatest evangelists in history since he helped start congregations throughout regions of the Roman Empire. When he entered a city, Paul customarily headed to the synagogue every Sabbath and reasoned with the Jews “that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2–3; cf. Acts 17:10; 18:4).

So did Paul focus solely on preaching the gospel, or was there more to his message? Some Christians believe Paul only preached the gospel. After all, he wrote, “And I, brethren, when I came to you . . . I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1–2).

However, a closer look reveals that Paul actually went much deeper in his teaching. The context of 1 Corinthians 2 shows that he didn’t want to persuade the Corinthians with human wisdom when he first arrived in Corinth; instead, Paul focused on proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 18:11 describes more about his ministry in this town: “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

In fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20), Paul focused on making disciples wherever he went. He often quickly wore out his welcome and was forcefully thrown out of the city or worse. But when he had an opportunity to remain in a city, he stayed for a while to make sure the believers were properly trained.

The words from today’s passage were spoken by Paul near the end of his third missionary journey. In Miletus, he met one last time with the Ephesian elders, encouraging and admonishing them to remain faithful. Essentially, he told them that his conscience was clear because he had not failed to teach them “the whole counsel of God.” He had spent much of his two years in Ephesus teaching “daily in the school of Tyrannus,” and the result was “that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:9–10).

Once we belong to Christ, we are expected to continually grow in our faith, which requires a deeper understanding of His Word. The author of Hebrews scolded his readers for remaining as babes in the faith instead of maturing from milk to solid food (Hebrews 5:11–14). Just remember, as you learn, never allow your newfound knowledge to make you prideful.

Today’s big idea: don’t be content with a basic understanding of the Bible; feed on solid food.

What to pray: ask God for the desire to know Him better through His Word.

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