During the dispensation covered by the “Acts of the Apostles,” two
callings of Christians existed. These two callings were discussed in
previous studies. The general headings we listed them under were: (1)
The Justified Ones and, (2) The Born Again Ones. The Apostle Paul had
truth for those who were justified by the faith of Christ without the
works of the Law. The Apostles of the Circumcision had truth for those
who were born again and were still zealous of the Law.
Most all Bible commentators try to harmonize the teachings of Paul and
the Circumcision Apostles. They fail to recognize that all Christians
during the Acts period were not called upon to believe the same thing.
God provided Truth for those He providentially chose to live on the
“higher ground” of being justified, by faith alone, without the works of
the Law. This was for the Justified Ones. They had Paul as their
minister and apostle. It is apparent that there were those who first
believed the Gospel of the Circumcision but were later called to “higher
ground.” The two most notable were Barnabas (Acts 4:36; 9:27) and Mark
(Acts 12:12, 25). Undoubtedly, there were many others.
On the other hand, God provided Truth for those who were to make up the
calling of the Born Again Ones. The Circumcision Apostles were their
Failure to distinguish between the two callings has led Bible
commentators to synthesize the two in an attempt to make them one. Both
callings were of the Lord—they were not one. They could never be one
until such time as it could be said after Acts 28:
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by
the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and
hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having
abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments
contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so
making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by
the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:13-16).
Following the precept of rightly dividing the Word of Truth, we will
distinguish between the two doctrines.
Instead of harmonizing, or synthesizing, the two doctrines into one, we
will simply contrast the two—both of which were inspired and were truth
for the particular calling.
Paul’s Doctrine to the Justified Ones without the Law:
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the
faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we
might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the
law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians
Paul adds to his doctrine of justification in Romans 4:3-5:
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted
unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not
reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
James’ doctrine to the Born Again Ones:
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith
only” (James 2:24).
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered
Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his
works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was
fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him
for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Likewise also
was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the
messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:21, 22, 23,
The differences between the two are crystal clear. Martin Luther was so
frustrated by the God-given doctrine to James that he said the Epistle
of James shouldn’t be included in the canon of Scripture. We will not
curse James nor will we try to manufacture a doctrine making the two
into one by tap-dancing around them. We prefer to let them stand as they
are written; recognizing “to whom each was written.” Right division
solves so many imagined problems in the Bible.
The Apostle Paul told those who were justified by faith, only, that when
Abraham believed God in Genesis 15, he was justified because Abraham
believed God’s Word concerning the promise of a son and the multiplying
of his seed. The contrast is that James tells the Born Again Ones that
their father, Abraham, was justified in Genesis 22 when he offered up
his son, Isaac, on the altar. Both of these were true. One was true for
the calling of the Justified Ones and the other was true for the Born
Don’t think, for one minute, that the God of Heaven cannot “work both
sides of the street at the same time.”