In 24:1-9 Paul was accused by the Jews’ advocate, and in 24:10-21 he defended himself before Felix, the Roman governor of Judea. Then in 24:22-27 he was kept in the custody of the unjust and corrupt Roman politician. Acts 24:27 says, “And when two years were completed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wanting to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul bound.” Luke does not disclose what Paul did during these two years. In this message we shall consider what Paul might have done during this period of time.
Luke does not tell us anything about the two years Paul was kept in custody in Caesarea. Neither does Luke say anything about the time Paul spent in Arabia after his conversion. Concerning this, Paul says, “Neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away to Arabia, and again returned to Damascus” (Gal. 1:17). It is difficult to trace where in Arabia Paul went and how long he stayed there after his conversion. However, it must have been a place apart from the Christians, and the time of his stay there must not have been short. His purpose in referring to this was to testify that he did not receive the gospel from man (Gal. 1:12). In Arabia Paul must have received some revelation concerning the gospel directly from the Lord.
No doubt, the divine revelation Paul received from the Lord in Arabia came through his knowledge of the Old Testament. Paul was an excellent student of the Old Testament. This is indicated by the way he expounded the Old Testament in the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. As we read these books, we see that Paul had a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament. Furthermore, he had insight into the Scriptures. An example of this insight is Paul’s allegorizing Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and Hagar, Abraham’s concubine, as two covenants (Gal. 4:22-26). Apart from Paul’s allegorizing of these women in Galatians 4, we could read Genesis again and again without seeing that Sarah and Hagar signify two covenants. But Paul, who was very knowledgeable in the truth in the Old Testament, had the insight to see this. Through his knowledge of the Old Testament the divine light came to him. Therefore, as indicated by his writings, Paul could understand the types in the Old Testament concerning Christ’s Person and work. Paul’s knowledge of the Scriptures was one reason for his receiving so much divine revelation.
Although Paul received a great deal of revelation from the Lord through his knowledge of the Old Testament, certain aspects of the revelation he received from the Lord are not based on the Old Testament. We may take as an example what Paul says concerning the different kinds of law in Romans 7 and 8. In Romans 8:2 he says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death.” Here Paul speaks of two laws—the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life. In Romans 7, in addition to the law of God (v. 22), Paul speaks of “the law of my mind” (v. 23), which is the law of doing good. In Romans 7:23 he also mentions “the law of sin which is in my members.” Therefore, in these two chapters Paul speaks of four laws: the written law of God, the law of doing good, the law of sin and death, and the law of the Spirit of life. In contrast to the law of God, the law of doing good, the law of sin and death, and the law of the Spirit of life are not written laws. Rather, they are fixed principles of life.
Every kind of life has its own law. The law of doing good is the law of the human life. The law of sin and death is the law of the sinful, Satanic life. The law of the Spirit of life is the law of the divine life. These three laws are based on the fixed principles of these kinds of life. The human life has its own law, the satanic life has a sinful law, and the divine life, which is the highest life, surely has a divine law.
What was the source of the revelation Paul saw concerning these three laws? I have investigated this matter in the attempt to learn the source, but I have not been able to find it. Probably Paul received the revelation concerning these three laws directly from the Lord. Moreover, his knowledge of these laws was based on his experience. Paul experienced the law of the mind, the law of doing good. Paul also experienced the law of sin and death. Concerning this, he could say, “I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me a captive in the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23). Earlier in Romans 7 Paul said, “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but to do the good is not. For the good which I will, I do not; but the evil I do not will, this I practice. But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that do it but sin that dwells in me. I find then the law that, at my willing to do the good, the evil is present with me” (vv. 18-21). Therefore, from his experience Paul learned that there is such a law as the law of sin and death. To be sure, from his Christian experience Paul discovered that there is a higher law within him—the law of the divine life. Paul certainly received the revelation concerning the law of doing good, the law of sin and death, and the law of the Spirit of life.
Because Paul received so much revelation from the Lord, when he came forth to preach, he could minister to others the riches of these revelations. He was able to write such letters as 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Romans, Galatians, and 1 and 2 Corinthians. As we read Paul’s writings, we see that each one of them is full of divine revelation. The point we are emphasizing here is that Paul must have received a great deal of revelation from the Lord during the time he was in Arabia.
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