the ministry of Paul

Paul was a representative of Christ Jesus. That’s how he starts his letters. “Paul, apostle” (Greek: apostolos = delegate). He was delegated and set apart by God for the gospel of God (Rom.1:1). Paul had received a ministry from God, he ministered to the nations with the good report of God.

two ministries?
Some see two different ministries in Paul’s career. They divide his letters into early and late letters and only the late letters would apply to the ecclesia, which is the body of Christ. People are often divided about where this division should be placed in Paul’s letters. But the idea is that Paul would have initially proclaimed the Kingdom to Israel. If Israel would repent, the Messiah would return and set up His Kingdom. As we find, for example, in the book of Acts from the mouth of Peter:

Acts 3
19 Look therefore, and turn, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that he may send Christ Jesus, who is predestined for you.

Acts 28:28
But Paul was not sent to Israel, but to the nations without distinction. The message he brought to Israel was that, because of Israel’s unbelief, salvation would go to the nations (Acts 13:46). And not just in Acts 28:28. There Paul says to his Jewish listeners:

Acts 28
28 Let it be known to you, therefore, that this salvation of God was sent to the nations; and they will hear.

Salvation was sent to the nations. In this verse, was is unmistakably a past tense in which Paul refers back to an earlier moment and this therefore does not speak about the moment as described in this verse. In one of his early (!) letters, the Romans letter, Paul describes in a few pen strokes what his ministry is, also towards the Jewish people:

Romans 11
13 And I say to you, to the nations, because I am an apostle to the nations, I magnify my ministry,
14 If by any means I make my flesh jealous, and I save some of them.

apostle to the nations
Paul was an apostle of the nations. He saw honor in glorifying his ministry by saving some of his flesh, the Jewish people. So Paul’s preaching was not that the Kingdom would begin if the Jewish people repented. No, Paul knew that the people as a whole would reject the message and that only some of them would be saved. By bringing to them the gospel entrusted to him and saving some from Israel, he glorified his ministry as an apostle of the nations.

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