Christianity 201

July 30, 2022

Being a Vessel

Today we celebrate having posted 4500 consecutive devotions at Christianity 201.

This is our fourth time at the “daily writing” page at

Acts 9:15

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse stated the words of Ananias, “And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” With his words complete, we read, “But the Lord said to him.”

Jesus responds to Ananias’ protestations with a direct and unambiguous command, saying, “Go.” It is an imperative verb. Ananias probably was a bit confused at this point. He had just clearly explained to the Lord that Saul (Paul) was not a good guy, but the Lord directs him to go anyway. Jesus explains why he is to do this, saying, “for he is a chosen vessel of Mine.”

The Greek literally says, “he is a choice vessel to Me.” Jesus looked beyond Saul’s current state and saw the value in him. Calling Saul a vessel is a Hebraism that is used in various ways in the Old Testament. For example, it is used a couple times in Jeremiah –

“Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol—
A vessel in which is no pleasure?
Why are they cast out, he and his descendants,
And cast into a land which they do not know?” Jeremiah 22:28


“Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon
Has devoured me, he has crushed me;
He has made me an empty vessel,
He has swallowed me up like a monster;
He has filled his stomach with my delicacies,
He has spit me out.” Jeremiah 51:34

In the New Testament, it is also used when referring to people –

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7


“that each of you know his own vessel to possess in sanctification and honour,” 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (YLT)

Unlike the king of Israel in Jeremiah 22 (above) who was a vessel in which the Lord had no pleasure, He knew Saul’s potential and his determined attitude. With a correction of his thinking about who Jesus is, it was clear that Paul was the very best possible choice to, as He says, “bear My name.”

The meaning is that Saul would be an ambassador of Christ Jesus, a function where a person bears the name – meaning one to communicate the intent and words – of the one who sends him. Saul twice specifically states that he is an ambassador of the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, he cites it in connection with the other apostles, saying, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” Also, in Ephesians 6:20, he says, “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

As you can see, in both of those instances, the idea of bearing the name of Jesus is evident. The apostle spoke on behalf of the Lord, conveying His intents and purposes for those they encountered. In Saul’s case, that was to include writing out epistles on behalf of the Lord. Jesus next notes that Saul’s authority extended to representing Him “before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.”

Speaking to Ananias, the Lord clearly indicates what the primary function of Saul would be. It was not to speak to Israel so much as it was – first and foremost – to speak to the Gentiles. This explains the term “apostle to the Gentiles” that Paul states several times (Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:8, 1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11, and implied many times elsewhere).

Despite this being his main calling, it was not his only calling. He was to speak on Christ’s behalf before Kings, something he did before Agrippa and Caesar, and he was to also carry the Lord’s words to the children of Israel, something he always did prior to then going to the Gentiles. In each new city or district that he traveled to, he would present himself and his doctrine to the synagogue first.

As can be seen here, the ministry of Saul to the Gentiles was to be one of primary focus, but not sole focus. The same is true with Peter. His primary focus was to the circumcision (meaning the Jews), but it was not to be his sole focus, as will be clearly evidenced in the coming chapter. The lie that there are two gospels and that the church began with Paul (hyperdispensationalism) is clearly refuted by a simple read through Acts and the epistles.

Life application: Jesus’ words to Ananias clearly tell us that the church did not replace Israel (replacement theology). Jesus was commissioning Saul to go “before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” He specifically states Israel as a separate category to be witnessed to. At no future time does the Bible ever call the church “Israel,” nor do the promises to national Israel ever transfer to the church while leaving Israel out.

Rather, the church joins into the spiritual blessings (the commonwealth) of Israel (Ephesians 2:12). Such points of doctrine as this are not difficult to determine, but once someone accepts faulty doctrine, it becomes solidified in the mind. From that point on, no matter how much evidence of what is correct is presented, unless the person is willing to say, “Maybe I am wrong,” nothing will change his mind.

This is why trying to convey one’s personal doctrine to another person, even if it is absolutely correct, can be so maddening. What is accurate is plainly evident, but the other person’s mind simply refuses to accept the truth. This is mostly because pride steps in and refuses to admit error has taken over. It is also why we are admonished to not argue with people over such things. State your case, show what is correct, and then let it be. Until they are willing to accept what Scripture actually teaches, they are vessels of obstruction and are of no value in discussing proper doctrine.

Lord God, help us to know when to walk away from someone who is unwilling to accept sound doctrine. In the end, our constant attempts to correct them will fall on deaf ears, and they often only cause the person to even further set his feet on the path of falsity. May we know when to state our case and when it is time to no longer argue. Help us to be discerning in this. Amen.

December 26, 2018

Did the Birth of Christ Commence a New Dispensation?

For today’s thoughts, we’re turning to two different articles at a site we’ve visited before, The Christian Courier. Click the individual titles to read each in full. Both articles are by Wayne Jackson.

What is the difference between Bible dispensations and the doctrine of dispensationalism?

What Is a Bible Dispensation?

The Greek word oikonomia is rendered “dispensation” several times in the New Testament (see 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2, 9; Col. 1:25).

Sometimes the word suggests the idea of managing a household and is rendered as “stewardship” (Lk. 16:2, 3, 4; 1 Cor. 9:17). On other occasions, the word implies a plan that has been arranged (Eph. 1:10; 3:9). The term may suggest appropriate training in divine instruction (1 Tim. 1:4).

In popular usage, the word dispensation often refers to a period of time. In Bible parlance, it frequently refers to the major epochs of time in which God has operated in implementing the plan of redemption.

The Patriarchal Dispensation

The Patriarchal Dispensation extended from the creation to the commencement of the Mosaic period, at which point God selected the Hebrews as a special people through whom he would send the Christ (Gen. 12:1ff; Dt. 7:6).

In the patriarchal age, God spoke to man through select prophets. Worship was administered by the fathers of each family (cf. Job 1).

The Mosaic Dispensation

The Mosaic Dispensation began at Sinai, when Jehovah gave the law of Moses to the Hebrews. By doing so, he separated them from the other nations of the world as his own special people. They would be a redemptive tool preliminary to the sending of his Son (Gal. 3:24-25; 4:4).

Only Israel was under this code. The balance of humanity remained under the patriarchal system. The Mosaic religion was terminated at the cross (Col. 2:14ff). It ended in a political sense with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The Christian Dispensation

The Christian Dispensation began on the day of Pentecost and will be terminated at the return of Christ (Isa. 2:2-4; Dan. 2:44; Joel 2:28-30; 1 Cor. 15:24-26). At that point, the eternal order of all things will be set.

Note that the author asserts that The Christian Dispensation is beginning at Pentecost, not at Christ’s Birth.

at this point the article continues to address the issue in its title, concerning the doctrine of Dispensationalism. Since that’s not part of our discussion today, let’s look at the second article.

Are the Gospels a Part of the New Testament?

“The law and the prophets were until John …”

The New Testament is perfectly clear in its teaching that, commencing with the ministry of John the Immerser, a new era of instruction was being progressively implemented by divine authority. This time frame constituted a transitional period. During these days, certain instructions pertaining to the coming kingdom of Christ were taught by the Lord and his apostles. Of course, the formalities of the Mosaic regime were still in force technically, and would remain so until the Law was finally “nailed to the cross” (Col. 2:14; cf. Eph. 2:14-15).

For example, Jesus declared: “The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man enters violently into it” (Lk. 16:16)…

The New Birth: Old Testament or New Testament?

To contend that the teaching within the Gospel accounts is not applicable to those of the Christian age would reflect a manifest absurdity. Christ taught, for example, that men must satisfy the conditions of the “born again” operation in order to enter the kingdom (Jn. 3:3-5).

That this process had an after-Pentecost application is obvious from the following facts. The Lord’s kingdom did not arrive until Pentecost (Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:4), and the saints of the post-Mosaic period throughout the Middle East had undergone this “birth” procedure in obtaining their salvation (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1-2).

Hence, the “new birth” procedure taught by Christ in the “Gospels” had a post-Gospels application.

“Tell it to the church”

Then consider the following admonition from the Son of God.

“And if your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone: if he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he hears you not, take with you one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church: and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be unto you as the Gentile and the publican (emphasis added).”

Here is a context that can have no application until the day of Pentecost and the establishment of the church. This fact alone destroys the baseless assertion that nothing in the Gospel narratives is applicable after the advent of the Christian age (unless repeated in Acts through Revelation)…

Again note the terms “progressive” and “transitional.” With the birth of Christ, something new is stirring, but it has yet to be revealed until Jesus begins his earthly ministry, and it comes to fruition at Pentecost, the birth of the Church.