So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:32-35)
Paul’s Divine Inspiration
The apostle Paul was born in the city of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia. Tarsus was a free city of the Roman Empire, governed by its own laws and magistrates. It stood on the banks of the river Cydnus, about 12 miles north of the Mediterranean. Paul was named Saul and was brought up in the strict teaching of the Law of Moses. His father was a Roman citizen by some means when Paul was born, granting him the birthright of Roman citizenship. He learned the trade of tentmaking that would serve him often in life, although his family was blessed with a certain status of wealth to send their son to Jerusalem to study at the feet of Gamaliel. His training in Jerusalem would introduce him to the sect of the Pharisees, where he would rise to a place of prominence. As a noted member of the tribe of Benjamin, Paul possessed a zealousness unmatched by many of his contemporaries.
It is impossible to know the parallels in the life of Saul of Tarsus and Jesus of Nazareth. Their lives did cross the historical time together. Jesus was thirty years of age when He began His ministry and was crucified three years later. By the time of the establishment of the church, Paul was already a man of influence. Within a year of Pentecost, the young man Saul was consenting to the death of Stephen. He began a severe persecution of the church to eradicate the teachings of Jesus Christ, having the authority of chief priests in Jerusalem. Nothing suggests Saul met Jesus or heard Him teach. Their lives were separate from one another, with Saul coming later on the scene of divine history. It is here the pattern of divine inspiration is found in the writings of Paul.
During the final days of Paul’s third missionary journey, he sends for the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. His bond with the shepherds of the Ephesian church is strong, and he embraces them with great passion as he knows his work will carry him far away from his endearing brethren. In his final words of goodbye, Paul reminds them of the words of Jesus that said it was more blessed to give than to receive. What is remarkable about this quotation is that Paul was not present when Jesus uttered those words, and none of the four gospel writers record these words. Peter could have quoted these words of Jesus, and it would have been accepted because the apostle spent many hours with Jesus. Paul never sat at the feet of Jesus as a disciple. Paul’s quote of Jesus was a pure example of divine inspiration. There were other examples of inspiration when Paul quoted the words of Jesus during the last supper. The gospel writers record these words in detail. What Paul told the Ephesian elders was a direct quote from the mouth of God unknown by other writings of the early disciples.
The Bible is not a jumbled book of human wisdom written by men who conspired to deceive the world. Luke, as a historian, tells the story of the early church with exacting detail through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Peter will later affirm that all of God’s word was the work of holy men of God speaking as the Holy Spirit moved them. The Bible is the word of God. It must be accepted as divine because it is divine. There is no other book in the history of man that has the seal of divine inspiration as placed upon the books from Genesis to the Revelation. Other books were written by holy men filled with the inspired directives of the Lord, but the sixty-six books of the Bible are preserved to serve the needs of men to know God and find salvation in Jesus Christ. The example of Paul quoting words of Jesus not found in the gospels shows the character of the divine word given to men from the mouth of God. Accept the Bible as God’s word. There is no other book that will show the way to Heaven.