Not Everything New

By Justin Johnson

Mid-Acts Pauline dispensationalism teaches the Lord revealed to Paul a new doctrine of Jesus Christ concerning His church, the body of Christ.

The Bible calls this new doctrine the revelation of the mystery of Christ (Rom 16:25; Eph 3:4). This revelation is so important as to effect the very pattern, ministry, and identification of the church.

Oppositions to mid-Acts, from the uneducated to the scholarly, claim Paul did not teach anything new by simply acknowledging that Paul said things that were not new. This sort of opposition falls flat and is entirely inadequate.

It is inadequate to mention only the similarities and not the differences. Football and baseball are different sports. It is possible for someone to come along and say they are the same because they both use balls, have teams, rules, points, and equipment. Obviously, this ignores important differences.

Certainly not everything Paul taught was new, but this does not mean he had nothing new. Paul taught all scripture, and he added to them what the Lord revealed to him.

Things Prophesied in Scripture

Below are things Paul taught that were true, but not new with him.

  1. Jesus was the Messiah.
  2. Israel would reject their Messiah.
  3. Christ would be crucified.
  4. Christ would resurrect.
  5. God requires faith.
  6. God requires good works.
  7. God gives grace.
  8. God’s people would be in him.
  9. God will forgive sins.
  10. Blood is needed for atonement.
  11. God will keep his promises to Israel.
  12. God in Christ is the Redeemer.

The law and the prophets before Paul taught all of these things. We could take Paul’s epistles out of the Bible and still learn these truths, but Paul echoes these truths.

Paul uses the fact that he teaches the law and prophets as evidence in his trial with unbelieving Israel that he was not teaching anything contrary to them (Acts 26:22-23).

The Mystery Revealed to Paul

However, these are not the only things Paul taught. Paul taught new things that were hidden from the law and the prophets. Paul taught the mystery of Christ.

This new mystery information concerns:

  1. The fall of Israel while salvation goes to Gentiles – Both of these things were prophesied, but never together. In prophecy Gentile salvation followed Israel’s rise.
  2. The glorious preaching of the cross – Everywhere in prophecy the cross is seen as a necessary evil, a shame, and low point in Israel’s history. It is the high point and glory of the church according to the mystery (Gal 6:14; 1 Cor 1:18).
  3. The creation of a new creature made of both Jew and Gentile (Eph 3:1-6).
  4. The riches of God’s grace unsearchable in the law and prophets (Eph 3:8).
  5. Christ over all – with the church reigning in heavenly places (Eph 1:9-10).

None of these mystery truths are found anywhere in the Bible outside of Paul’s epistles. This is called progressive revelation. Paul taught all scripture, and he added to them (2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 14:37).

God gave a dispensation to Paul (1 Cor 9:17; Col 1:25). This does not mean that everything Paul taught was new. It means he was given a new thing.

This new dispensation contains the pattern and instructions for the church today.

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Published: March 14, 2015
Last Modified: August 23, 2018
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