“I SPEAK THE TRUTH IN CHRIST, AND LIE NOT”
The above sworn testimony is one of three particular occasions in Paul’s epistles in which he directly and unequivocally asserts that he is telling the truth and not lying. At first it may seem a bit puzzling that an apostle of God would have to do such a thing. Why would Paul have to swear that he was telling the truth? However, when we give some consideration to these solemn affirmations by Paul, and especially to just what it is that Paul is assuring us that he is not lying about, we begin to gain some insight into a very important issue.
First of all notice, that on the three occasions in which Paul makes such an oath the subject that he is dealing with is that of his special and distinctive apostleship. (Note: Space does not permit quoting the following passages in their entirety. Please look them up in your Bible and read the entire passage.)
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)…
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. …
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. …
NOW THE THINGS WHICH I WRITE UNTO YOU, BEHOLD, BEFORE GOD, I LIE NOT.” (Galatians 1:1‑20)
“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. …
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHICH IS BLESSED FOR EVERMORE, KNOWETH THAT I LIE NOT. …
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and in wonders, and in mighty deeds.” (II Corinthians 11:5‑12:12)
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
WHEREUNTO I AM ORDAINED A PREACHER, AND AN APOSTLE, (I SPEAK THE TRUTH IN CHRIST, AND LIE NOT;) A TEACHER OF THE GENTILES IN FAITH AND VERITY.” (I Timothy 2:5‑7)
It is obvious from a consideration of the contexts surrounding these affirmations, that Paul’s sworn oaths are set forth in defense of his particular apostleship. He asserts that he is NOT LYING concerning God ordaining him a special apostle of the Gentiles. He solemnly testifies to the differentiation of his apostleship from that of those who were apostles before him. He swears that he is NOT LYING about the distinctiveness and validity of the gospel that he preaches among the Gentiles. Paul’s oaths are clearly made in defense of his apostleship and message. Yet as can also be seen from the contexts in which they are made, Paul’s sworn defense isn’t made in the face of a simple misunderstanding. Instead, Paul’s sworn defense is made in the face of an organized and determined effort to deny and negate his unique apostleship and message.
In the contexts of each of these three oaths the apostle Paul recognizes the activities of Satan and his policy of evil against the program of God in this present dispensation of His grace. The delusions that had occurred among the saints that caused them to be removed from Paul’s apostleship and message, and consequently from the truth both about and for this present dispensation, Paul recognized as being the product of Satan’s policy of evil. For example,…
“O Foolish Galatians, WHO HATH BEWITCHED YOU, that ye should not obey the truth,…” (Galatians 3:1)
“But I fear, lest by any means, AS THE SERPENT BEGUILED EVE THROUGH HIS SUBTILTY, SO YOUR MINDS SHOULD BE CORRUPTED FROM THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST.” (II Corinthians 11:3)
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, GIVING HEED TO SEDUCING SPIRITS, AND DOCTRINES OF DEVILS;…” (I Timothy 4:1)
When we consider what it is that God revealed and gave to the apostle Paul to make known through his special apostleship, it comes as no surprise that Satan would mount an intense and relentless assault upon the validity of both he and his message. For example, the revelation of the “mystery of Christ” that God gave to Paul makes known the “wisdom of God” in taking Satan in his own craftiness.
“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (I Corinthians 2:6-8)
In accordance with this, God has designed it so that Christians, who understand and appreciate the “mystery of Christ,” are able to make an impact to the glory of the “manifold wisdom of God” in the face of Satan’s “principalities and powers in heavenly places.”
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” (Ephesians 3:9-11)
In view of this, it is little wonder that Satan’s response to the truth both about and for this present dispensation has been that of viciously attacking it. The plain truth is that he hates “the wisdom of God” in the “mystery of Christ,” and he has vigorously worked to prevent men from seeing “what is the fellowship of the mystery.” In accordance with this objective, Satan’s policy of evil has particularly directed its attack upon Paul’s special apostleship and the message of the “mystery of Christ” committed unto him for us today.
Though it clearly goes beyond the capacity of this brief article to deal with all the various facets of Satan’s policy of evil, Paul’s three sworn oaths concerning the truthfulness of his special apostleship and message do provide us with some insight into the general way in which Satan’s attacks have come.
Historically speaking, there have been two main stages to Satan’s attack upon Paul’s apostleship and message. The first stage is that which occurred during the time of Paul’s own ministry. During this time, as is evident from the nature of Paul’s own defense, Satan’s attack was that of an outright denial of the genuineness and validity of Paul’s apostleship and message. The assertions were made that Paul was no ‘apostle of God’ at all. Instead, charges were leveled against him declaring that he was a fraud; a fake; not a true ‘apostle of Christ’ at all. He was said to be a huckster at best, beside himself at worst. He was also declared to be a ‘traitor to the fathers.’ Against these charges and others like them, Paul defended his apostleship and message, “certifying” his genuineness. He gave evidence “approving himself as the minister of God.” He stated the genuiness of his ministry at the beginning of many of his epistles with the declaration, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” And on at least three separate occasions in the defence of his apostleship we find him swearing an oath that he “speaks the truth in Christ, and lies not.” As vigorously as Satan denied the genuineness of Paul’s apostleship, God had Paul defend it and confirm it so that the members of Christ’s body wouldn’t be victimized by the policy of evil.
The second stage of Satan’s attack is that which has been in effect since the time of Paul’s ministry. With the completion, compilation, propagation, and preservation of the written word of God, the genuineness of Paul’s apostleship and message could no longer be denied. Accordingly, Satan’s policy of evil shifted its tactics. No longer able to deny the genuineness of Paul’s apostleship and message, the issue became one of denying the distinctiveness and specialness of it. And this is what has been going on since Paul’s day. Now modern‑day‑bewitched‑Galatians and modern‑day‑beguiled‑Corinthians etc., are produced by Satan’s policy of evil by means of teachings that obscure the difference between Paul’s apostleship and message, and that of those who were apostles before him. Teachers and teachings that fail to “rightly divide the word of truth,” and hence blend God’s program for Israel with His program for this present dispensation of Gentile grace, effectively blind Christians to the truth of what God is doing today. Paul’s gospel and “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” is obscured through such a homogenization of God’s word, which is in direct violation of His charge to “rightly divide the word of truth.” In so doing, the Satanic policy of evil effectively achieves its objective of keeping men from seeing “what is the fellowship of the mystery” and so preventing them from making an impact to God’s glory with the knowledge of the “manifold wisdom of God.”
It is interesting to note, however, that the same sworn defenses that God had Paul set forth to confirm the genuineness of his apostleship and message, also testify to the distinctiveness of it. They testify to the difference that exists between the program and message of God that Paul was given, and that of the 12 apostles. They testify to the difference that exists between this present dispensation of God’s grace and His program and dealings with Israel. The only remedy against the turmoil and confusion that existed among the saints of Paul’s day, (as Satan’s policy of evil worked to deny Paul’s apostleship and message), was for Christians to listen to his sworn testimonies concerning who God had made him to be. The only remedy against the turmoil and confusion that grips the church today, (as it is “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” in accordance with Satan’s desire), is to pay instructive heed to God’s “apostle of the Gentiles” — the one whom God had swear, “I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not.” — K.R. Blades