In comparing the ministry of the twelve apostles with that of the Apostle Paul, we must observe carefully:
1. The twelve were chosen by Christ ON EARTH (Luke 6:13) while Paul was later chosen by Christ IN HEAVEN(Acts 9:3-5; 26:16).
2. Prior to Paul’s conversion the twelve had known Christ only ON EARTH (I John 1:1). Even at His ascension to heaven “a cloud received Him OUT OF THEIR SIGHT” (Acts 1:9). But Paul knew Christ only IN HEAVEN, having never seen Him on earth (Acts 26:16; ICor. 15:8).
3. The twelve represented their own nation. The number twelve has no connection with the “one Body” of Christ. As we know, Jacob of old “begat the twelve patriarchs” (Acts 7:8). From these sprang the twelve tribes of Israel. These tribes had twelve princes over them (Numbers 1:16). Even when Israel was ruled by kings there were still to be twelve princes — one over each tribe (I Chronicles 27:22). Thus, as He went forth proclaiming “the gospel of the kingdom” our Lord chose twelve princes for the twelve thrones in the kingdom to come (Matt. 19:28).
On the other hand, Paul, as one apostle, represents the “one Body,” the Church of today (Rom.12:5; ICor. 12:13; Eph.4:4). However, he was both a born Hebrew and a born Roman, so represented believing Jews and Gentiles “reconciled…unto God in one body by the cross…” (Eph.2:16).
4. The twelve were sent to proclaim Christ’s kingdom “at hand” (Matt. 10:7), and later to offer its establishment on earth (Acts 3:19-26). But Paul was sent to proclaim “the gospel of the grace of God”(Acts 20:24), while the kingdom is held in abeyance.
5. The ministry of the twelve was based on covenant promises (Isaiah 60:1-3; Luke 1:70-79; Acts 3:22-26). Paul’s ministry was not based on covenant promises, but wholly on the grace of God through Christ (Rom.3:21-28; 5: 20,21; Eph.1:6,7; 2:7; etc.).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.