By Jerry Shugart

Paul Was the First to Preach the "Gospel of Grace"

In a Bible tract entitled Paul's Gospel Acts 2 dispensationalist William R. Newell wrote:

"The twelve Apostles (Matthias by Divine appointment taking the place of Judas) were to be the 'witnesses' (Acts 1:22) of Christ's resurrection--that is, of the fact of it. They were not to unfold fully the doctrine of it, as Paul was...But unto none of these twelve Apostles did God reveal 'the great body of doctrine for this age'...The great doctrines that Paul reveals may be outlined as follows...The fact and the Scripturalness of righteousness on the free gift principle--that is, of Divine righteousness, separate from all man's doings, conferred upon man as a free gift from God" (Newell, Paul's Gospel).

After reading this Bible tract Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founding President of Dallas Theological Seminary, said:

"This is a great tract, a clear treatise on the truth of God for this age. The author was one of America's greatest Bible expositors. It glorifies the Savior as the author desired it to do. It should be distributed by hundreds of thousands" (Editor, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1994, Volume 7:12).

Today Dallas Theological Seminary is considered the leading Acts 2 dispensational seminary in the world, and the founding President of that seminary recognized the fact that the "gospel of grace" was not preached by anyone before Paul. Therefore that gospel was not preached on the Day of Pentecost and the present dispensation did not begin on that day.

The second President of Dallas Theological Seminary, John F. Walvoord, wrote that "The gospel of Grace was given to Paul as a 'new' revelation" (Walvoord, "The Preincarnate Son of God", Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct.-Dec. 1947, Vol. 104, # 416, p.422).

Charles Ryrie, Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary for many years, wrote the following:

"The apostle Paul was principally, though not exclusively, the agent of the revelation of the grace of God for this dispensation. Christ Himself brought the grace of God to mankind in His incarnation (Titus 2:11), but Paul was the one who expounded it" [emphasis added] (Ryrie, Dispensationalism [Chicago: Moody Press 1995] p.56).

Since the "gospel of grace" was not preached on the Day of Pentecost then what "gospel" does the Lord Jesus refer to here?:

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk.16:15-16).

This is the same "gospel" which the Lord Jesus said would go out into the whole earth in the Olivet Discourse:

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Mt.24:14).

It was the "gospel of the kingdom" that was preached in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost so therefore the present "dispensation of grace" did not begin then.

The Beginning of the "Dispensation of Grace"

Earlier it was established that the preaching of the "gospel of grace" was the event which marked the beginning of the present "dispensation of grace." So now we will determine exactly when that happened. In the following verse we read that Paul announced to the church at Antioch that God had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles:

"And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27).

This opening of the door of faith unto the Gentiles happened during Paul's first missionary journey when the Holy Spirit had separated them for that work:

"Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:1-3).

After that Paul and Barnabas had preached in the Jewish synagogues at Salamis and Pisidian Antioch and in both those places the Jews there rejected their message. It was not until then that the Apostles turned to the Gentiles:

"Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).

It was here that the "gospel of grace" was first preached so it was here when the present dispensation of grace began:

"For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:47-48).

But, some will ask, Did not Peter preach a gospel to Cornelius and his household? Yes, he did. But that gospel was the gospel of the kingdom, the one mentioned here:

"The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all). That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached" (Acts 10:36-37).

Cornelius was a "Proselyte of the Gate" (even though he was still considered a "Gentile") so it is not surprising that the "gospel of the kingdom" was preached to him. We do see that before Peter finished the preaching of that gospel to him he had already believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God:

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly...While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word" (Acts 10:36).

Next, let us look at the following passage:

"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians (Hellenistes), preaching the Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:19-20).

Here the word "Grecians" is translated from the Greek word Hellenistes, and that word means: "used in the NT of Jews born in foreign lands and speaking Greek [Grecian Jews]: Acts xi. 20" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

Therefore, we can conclude that the gospel which was preached to these Jews was also the "gospel of the kingdom."

We can also conclude that the present "dispensation of grace" began at Acts 13.


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