Paul and the Early Church
Want to learn how the Christian Church was established?
David Limbaugh tells it all, from Paul’s Conversion to the Gospel of Love.
It’s his fourth Christian-themed book:
Who Should Read “Jesus Is Risen”? And Why?
In a nutshell, Jesus Is Risen is a chronological retelling of six books of The New Testament (Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans), all concerning Paul’s early attempts to establish a Christian Church.
Of course, Limbaugh provides the reader with many notes and commentaries, some of which should probably interest even experienced readers of the Bible.
But, as a rule of thumb, if you can navigate yourself around the New Testament, then think of Jesus Is Risen as complementary material: something which can certainly help you, but also something you can do without.
If, however, you are having trouble finding yourself around the many names, events, and toponyms of Paul’s New Testament books, then there aren’t many better books to get started than Limbaugh’s Jesus Is Risen.
About David Limbaugh
David Limbaugh is an American author and conservative Christian political commentator.
Born in 1952, Limbaugh graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science from the University of Missouri; he received his J.D. from the same university in 1978.
Afterward, he went on to teach business law at Southeast Missouri State University, in addition to practicing law at the Limbaugh Firm.
He has written numerous columns for many different publications, as well as nine non-fiction books, primarily dealing with religion and politics.
Some of them are explicitly aimed at the style of governing by Democrats, such as Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party, or his two books criticizing Obama: Crimes Against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama and The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic.
Since 2014, Limbaugh is dedicated to writing books which concentrate on his personal religious conversion and the merits of the Bible. He has so far written four of them: Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel, The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament, The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels and Jesus is Risen: Paul and the Early Church.
“Jesus Is Risen PDF Summary”
As he explains himself in the “Introduction,” Jesus Is Risen is David Limbaugh’s “fourth Christian-themed book.”
His first one was Jesus On Trial in which Limbaugh recounts his “personal faith journey from skeptic to believer” and lays out the reasons because of which he came “to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and gave His life for the redemption of all who put their trust in Him.”
The Emmaus Code followed, in which Limbaugh details “the countless ways the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ.”
His third book was The True Jesus in which he presents the Gospels “in one unified narrative in chronological order.”
His initial idea, he explains, was to summarize the whole New Testament, but this ambitious plan seemed more fit for several books.
Well, Jesus Is Risen is a sort of a sequel to The True Jesus, summarizing – once again in a chronological order – Saint “Paul’s six so-called missionary epistles: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans, which are believed to have been written before his other seven epistles.”
Paul is David Limbaugh’s favorite biblical figure and writer, something which he makes apparent basically on every single page of this book.
Chapter 1: How a Trip to Damascus Changed the World
“By all appearances,” Limbaugh writes, “Paul is the least likely person to become Christianity’s premiere evangelist.”
A Jew born by the name of Saul, he was raised and educated in Jerusalem under a highly respected Rabbi named Gamaliel.
And he grew to become “a Pharisee of Pharisees,” who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus.
It was precisely on a mission to seek out and arrest Christians in Damascus that Paul’s worldview was changed to its very core.
As told in Acts 9:3–9, this is what happened:
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’
“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless,” the text goes on. Apparently, “they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he could see nothing. So, they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”
On the fourth day, Ananias of Damascus restores Saul’s sight.
Saul is baptized, and before too long becomes Paul, “the apostle of grace,” and the most important figure in Christianity after Jesus Christ.
Chapters 2–5: The Acts of the Apostles
In chapters 2 to 5, Limbaugh retells the Acts of the Apostles, the 51st book of the Bible and a sort of a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. In fact, it is believed that its author is none other than Luke himself and that it was originally written sometime around 60 A.D.
Chapter 2: Acts 1-7: A Church Is Born
The first seven chapters of the Acts tell the story of the very infancy of the church. One of the central events recounted here is Apostle Peter’s sermon to the Jews gathered for the Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks.
Supposedly, the Holy Spirit descended upon the 12 apostles from heaven “with a sound like a mighty rushing wind” and manifesting itself in “tongues of fire.”
The Holy Spirit in them, the apostles start speaking in languages they don’t understand and are consequently ridiculed by the Jews as drunkards.
But Apostle Peter counters this by embarking on a bold sermon which results with the conversion of 3000 new believers.
“The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,” notes Limbaugh, “is considered the birth of the Christian Church. As such, it’s interesting that Jesus was also conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).”
Chapter 3: Acts 8-13: An Equal Opportunity Faith
The next few chapters of the Acts describe various aspects of the evangelism of the apostles.
Here you can read all about the false accusation and stoning of Stephen, the religious conversion of Paul, as well as the first attempts by the Apostles to impart Christianity upon the Gentiles.
Speaking of which, in these chapters you can find the very first use of the term “Christians” in the history of the written word.
Chapter 4: Acts 14-20: Suffering and Success While Spreading the Word
Next, we move geographically to the outskirts of Jerusalem and outside of the holy city.
Saul changes his name to Paul so that he can be better accepted by the Gentiles (the former is Hebrew, the latter Greek).
In the fifteenth chapter, the Jerusalem Council takes place, and the spreading of the gospel message among Gentile nations is authorized.
Lydia, a female seller of purple fabric, becomes the first European woman to accept Christianity.
Chapter 5: Acts 21-28: Arrest of an Apostle
After some time, Paul travels to Jerusalem where he is arrested; he is sent to Rome to be put on trial. There he is imprisoned, but we learn little what happens next since the Acts abruptly end here.
“It’s generally agreed,” writes Limbaugh, “that Paul was martyred in Rome, probably by sword, though the precise date is uncertain. Many scholars place his death around 62 AD, at the close of his two-year house arrest in Rome, while others say it could have been in 64 AD, and still others as late as 66 AD after a second arrest.”
“Of course,” Limbaugh goes on, “Paul’s influence did not end with his death, since he did more than anyone besides Jesus to expound and clarify the Gospel.”
Most of which he did through a series of letters, and these are the ones Limbaugh summarizes in the rest of his book.
Chapter 6: Galatians: Freedom in Christ
The book of Galatians is, arguably, the first of Paul’s epistles (letters) sent to local Christian churches.
In this letter he explains how he had been chosen by Jesus himself to preach his gospel, and that “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
Next, he explicates how living a religious life is difficult; and how, since, nobody is capable of obeying the ten commandments from the cradle to the grave, the only salvation one can attain is through Jesus Christ.
Hence the title of this chapter: Freedom in Christ.
Chapter 7: 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians: Christ’s Return and the Day of the Lord
In the first of the two letters written to strengthen and encourage the Christian church in Thessalonica, Greece, Paul writes mostly about the Second Coming of the Grace, aka, The Day of the Lord.
Let’s be realistic: if you need some strength, nothing can give you more of it than someone telling you that you’ll eventually be rewarded for your effort, no questions asked.
In the second letters to the Thessalonians, Paul reemphasizes these feelings commending the receivers of his words on their perseverance and cheering them to persist some more.
Jesus, writes Paul, will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
Chapters 8-10: 1 & 2 Corinthians
Chapter 8: 1 Corinthians 1–8: A Call for Unity in the Church
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains the reason for writing it in the first place: “there are quarrels among you,” he writes, and I need to remind you of your calling.
And that calling is pretty simple: to live in accordance with the Gospel, for “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Chapter 9: 1 Corinthians 9–16: The Primacy of Love, and a Spiritual Gift for Every Believer
These are some of the most famous pages in the Bible, dealing with the primacy of love – even over faith (13:1-3):
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Here Paul says that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a topic “of first importance” since it is the foundation of the Christian faith.
Chapter 10: 2 Corinthians: Strength in Weakness
In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the essential traits of an Apostle.
One of them is, interestingly, the capability to endure suffering.
Because, as Paul says right away, some fifty years of earthly pain should mean nothing to a real Christian, because they will lead him to an “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
Those who cannot endure suffering, basically, are no Christians at all.
Chapter 11-12: Romans
Chapter 11: Romans 1–7: Righteousness through Faith
In the epistle to the Romans, you can read all about the power of the Gospel to counteract the guilt present in all humans, which is why this chapter is titled “Righteousness through Faith.”
Try as you might, you’ll never be a righteous person through your deeds only; however, you can be one through your faith in Jesus Christ.
“For the wages of sin is death,” writes Paul, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Chapter 12: Romans 8–16: Christ: The Hope of Jews and Gentiles
If God is with you, who can be against you, asks Paul here and goes on to explain how the faith in Christ gives him the power to go back to God even after sinning.
Here Paul also shares his plans to reach Rome, which he eventually will – but we know how that ended from the Acts.
Key Lessons from “Jesus Is Risen”
1. A Trip to Damascus of a Hebrew Prosecutor Named Saul Changed the World
2. Love Is More Important Than Faith… Until It Is Not
3. The Resurrection of Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Faith
A Trip to Damascus of a Hebrew Prosecutor Named Saul Changed the World
Saul was a Hebrew, “a Pharisee of Pharisees,” whose main obsession in life was prosecuting Christians.
However, on a trip to Damascus (of course, with a mission to arrest some Christians) Jesus appeared to him, and Saul’s worldview suddenly changed.
OK, that’s a bit of a stretch since he was first blinded for about three days, so his worldview was in complete darkness.
But after his sight was restored by a Christian, he became one.
Or, to be more precise, the One.
Paul did for Christianity more than just about anyone save for Jesus.
There are billions of Christians nowadays mostly because of his relentless efforts to share the Gospel.
Love Is More Important Than Faith… Until It Is Not
Blame us for being ignorant, but we have trouble understanding the very essence of Paul’s words.
Namely, his main message is that one can only redeem himself from his sins (of which he is guilty either way) through his faith in Christ and His resurrection.
However, in 1 Corinthians 13, he claims that love is more important than faith and that even if you have faith that moves mountains, without love, you’re nothing and you’ll gain nothing.
So, our question is quite simple: if one does have love in him and lives his life in accordance with it, but doesn’t believe in Jesus, is he entitled to salvation?
Or is he just guilty enough beforehand and nothing he ever does will grant him redemption from the fires of Hell?
The Resurrection of Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Faith
If we follow Paul and Limbaugh, the answer to the question above is straightforward: you can’t be a Christian if you don’t believe in Christ and you can’t go to Heaven if you’re not a Christian.
In fact, this is how the Gospel of Jesus looks like, according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, a few of the most important New Testament verses ever written:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Apparently, as David Limbaugh says, “Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching that we are saved not by our works and not by adherence to the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
There you have it.
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“Jesus Is Risen Quotes”Paul, probably even more than Peter, is the prominent leader of the early Christian Church. The central figure in the Book of Acts, Paul writes more New Testament books than any other apostle, though Luke’s books contain more words and… Click To Tweet The better we understand the darkness of (Paul’s) past, the more we will understand his gratitude for grace. (Via Chuck Swindoll) Click To Tweet To love God and one’s neighbor is the sum of the commandments. Click To Tweet While works don’t earn us salvation, we will reflect our saving faith and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit through our works. Click To Tweet The more we study the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters, the more fully we comprehend God’s plan for our lives and His offer of free grace for our salvation through faith in Christ. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“My humble wish,” writes David Limbaugh at the end of Jesus Is Risen, “is that you have learned or re-learned important basics about the Book of Acts and these six Pauline epistles and are excited to get back into the Bible, read these books and meditate on their message.”
To be perfectly frank, this book didn’t have that effect on us.
But, truth be told, it is written in a manner which makes us believe that it should have such effect on many people.