This was a devotional reading I used on my last (18 days) trip to Cambodia. I’ve reproduced here for anyone who would like a reading schedule. Scroll down to listen to daily audio Bible readings.
- Day One: Romans 1-4
- Day Two: Romans 5-8
- Day Three: Romans 9-11
- Day Four: Romans 12-16
- Day Five: 1 Corinthians 1-4
- Day Six: 1 Corinthians 5-9
- Day Seven: 1 Corinthians 10-13
- Day Eight: 1 Corinthians 14-16
- Day Nine: 2 Corinthians 1-7
- Day Ten: 2 Corinthians 8-13
- Day Eleven: Galatians 1-4
- Day Twelve: Galatians 5-6; Ephesians 1-2
- Day Thirteen: Ephesians 3-6
- Day Fourteen: Philippians 1-4
- Day Fifteen: Colossians 1-4
- Day Sixteen: 1 Thessalonians 1-5; 2 Thessalonians 1-3
- Day Seventeen: 1 Timothy 1-6
- Day Eighteen: 2 Timothy 1-4; Titus 1-3; Philemon.
About the Apostle Paul and His Ministry
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, wrote nearly half of the New Testament. The sheer volume of his writings should not be overlooked. His words, penned by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and given to him by direct revelation from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:3; Colossians 1:25), pick up where the four Gospels leave off. These thirteen epistles or letters explain the continued work of the resurrected Jesus Christ.
The Revelation Given to Paul From Jesus
In two of his letters, Paul wrote how he was given a revelation by Christ himself of the dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25). The English word “dispensation” is from the Greek word, oikonomia. It literally means the management of a household or house rule. The Oxford English dictionary definition of the word dispensation is, “a system of order.” Some translations use the English word stewardship. But the KJV’s use of the word dispensation is more descriptive of the intent; that is, while God Himself never changes, His dealings with mankind does. God varied His system in His dealings with mankind throughout history. For example, In Genesis, God walked in the garden in the cool of the day. We should take this as literal since Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8). Because they sinned, God drove out the man from the Garden, and at that point, that dispensation, often called the dispensation of innocence, ended; there was separation between God and Man.
The revelation of the dispensation of the grace of God given to Paul had never before been revealed. It was hid in God from ages and from generations (Ephesians 3:5; Colossians 1:26). That means, Jesus revealed it to Paul for the first time. This revelation, which we will see in just a moment, is not found in the Old Testament, the Gospels, or much of the book of Acts. Paul calls it a mystery (Ephesians 3:3; Colossians 1:26).
Specifically, this mystery was that by grace through faith, Jews and Gentiles would be fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ (Ephesians 3;7) Instead of living under the Law of Moses, all men and women can now be justified (declared righteous) by belief alone, and not by works of the Law of Moses (Acts 13:38,39).
Therefore, we should recognize that when we read the words of Paul, we are reading Jesus’ words. While the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, gave us the first story of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, Paul’s epistles contain the rest of the story of Jesus Christ. Without the apostle Paul we would not have a full understanding of Jesus Christ and His work in the lives of believers today.
Jesus’ Earthly Ministry
In the Gospels we read about Jesus’ earthly ministry specifically (and this should not go unnoticed) to the nation of Israel, not to Gentiles. Jesus said,
I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.Matthew 15:24
Throughout his letters, Paul refers to the Jews as “the circumcision”. God the Father sent Jesus to minister to the nation Israel.
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:Romans 15:8
The Rejection of Jesus By His Own
Jesus was rejected by His own, the circumcision, those to whom He was sent. John says,
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.John 1:11
Instead of rejoicing over their Messiah, whom they had awaited for thousands of years, ever since He was promised in Genesis 3:15, they killed him.
The Death, Resurrection, and Victory of Jesus
But he rose from the grave.
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:1 Corinthians 15:3,4
Although Jesus was sent by the Father only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He died for the world’s sins.
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself by Jesus Christ, not imputing their trespasses unto them.2 Corinthians 5:19
Because of Jesus’ victory over the grave, rather than living in the dispensation of the law, we now rejoice in the dispensation of grace. Today, every man, woman, boy, or girl can believe and receive the gift of everlasting life.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Ephesians 2:8
Without the apostle Paul’s epistles, we would never know of this Grace outside of the Law which joins Jews and Gentiles into one body; the body of Christ, or the Church. We would not know of this mystery new body which we are part of, made up of Jews and Gentiles.
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,Ephesian 3:3-5
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Without Jesus’ revelation to Paul, we would live our lives under the Law that Jesus taught while He was on earth, and as recorded in the Gospels. Perhaps that is why so much of the New Testament was penned by Paul? To show us there is more to Jesus’ message that we could not know from reading the Gospels alone. This cannot be overstated, without the revelation given to Paul, the word of God would not be fully preached, or fully known (Colossians 1:25).
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God. (Or, to make the word of God fully known).Colossians 1:25
Jesus was the “minister of the circumcision” yet He chose Paul as minister, or servant of the uncircumcision (Ephesians 3:7).
Now, because of the revelation of Jesus given to Paul, we have assurance that when we believe in Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), we are washed, sanctified, justified, and are made complete in Christ. We are not under the penalty of sin, and our sin is not imputed to us, as stated above in 2 Corinthians 5:19.
When we believe, we are no longer under condemnation.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1
When we believe, we become new creatures. We are set free by grace.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
In the dispensation of grace, there is victory through Jesus Christ extended to all mankind.
When we believe, the gift of everlasting life is given with no strings attached. That is good news, and that is grace!
Listen to the Inspired words of Paul each day.