Paul not dying until his “course” was finished


I believe in the “Essential Doctrines” series you mentioned that the Apostle Paul could not die until he had finished his course as he so describes it. Is that true concerning every member of the body of Christ in this dispensation?


 I do not recall the exact context in which I said that, but my understanding concerning it primarily has to do with 1) the number of unique issues that God was accomplishing through Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” that he is; and 2) it has to do with the example and pattern for us that God has made out the apostle Paul. In view of these two things, Paul’s “course” wouldn’t be finished until these things were fully accomplished in him.

With respect to him being “the apostle of the Gentiles,” Paul’s “course” clearly involved a number of issues which would be unique to him as such. For example, with him being the one through whom God was dispensing all of the information for and about this present dispensation of His grace, as well also providing for the fulfilling of the word of God and its propagation throughout the world, Paul’s “course” naturally wouldn’t be able to be finished until this was done. He was God’s “chosen vessel” for these things and God was going to accomplish them through him, and did accomplish them through him. Hence, for example, Paul says what he does in II Timothy 4:16–18 concerning being “delivered out of the mouth of the lion” so that “the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear.” This was part of Paul’s “course,” and until it was accomplished his “course” was not finished.

With respect to Paul being an example and pattern for us, by this I particularly mean the example and pattern that

God has made Paul to be for us when it comes to the effectual working of God’s word within us and the excellency of its power in view of any and all that the policy of evil can and/or could throw our way. Paul, for example, sets this issue forth in II Corinthians. In connection with it he relates in 1:3ff how that “the sufferings of Christ” abounded in him, but so also did God’s “consolation” and comforting of him. And this, as he says in verse 4, was so that “we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Hence Paul in his “course” was also going to experience all of “the sufferings of Christ” from the policy of evil, as well as all of God’s comfort and consolation as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” He would experience any and all “trouble” in connection with “the sufferings of Christ” so that by the comfort wherewith he was comforted of God he would be able “to comfort them which are in any trouble.” And God did this very thing through Paul, with the result that specifically (though not exclusively) in II Corinthians, Philippians, and II Timothy, all the doctrine from God as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” that He wants us to have (along with how it effectually worked in Paul) is set forth for us to benefit from. And, as I said earlier, what Paul went through in his “course” involved any and all that the policy of evil can produce and utilize in this dispensation; including the issue of even being delivered unto a terrifying and shameful death. But even in this Paul was comforted and to him “to die” as such was “gain.”

Once again, it is particularly in connection with these two aspects of Paul’s “course” that I said what I said about him not dying until his “course” was finished. With respect to ourselves, the “course” that God wants us to follow is what has already been charted for us and laid out for us in Paul’s epistles to us, beginning in Romans and progressing on.

In essence, God’s design for our “godly edifying” is our “course.” It starts off with us getting established in the knowledge of who God has made us to be “in Christ” when we believed “the gospel of Christ,” just as Romans 1–11 sets forth. It then progresses on from there with further doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness to us, which is specifically designed by God to effectually work within us and enable us to put our full identity “in Christ” into practice in our daily lives (no matter what those days are composed of) and to grow up into Him in all things. As we progress along our “course” we will doctrinally attain both like-mindedness with Paul in our godly thinking, and this in turn will produce likeness with Paul in a godly walk and labor, as he serves as our example and pattern in these areas as well. And as we do this, the issue for us is to just ‘keep on keeping on,’ so to  speak, for as long as we are alive and remain and the dispensation of God’s grace remains in effect.

Keith Blades

Enjoy The Bible Ministries

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