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In Paul's prison ministry that followed, he was still specially connected with the
Gentiles, for he describes himself as "the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you
Gentiles" (Eph. 3: 1, N.I.V.), although this does not mean that faithful Jewish believers
could not benefit from the teaching given through him.
The basic truth on which "the good deposit" rests is that of salvation by grace and this,
the Apostle states, was given to him by "revelation of Jesus Christ":
"I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man
made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by
revelation from Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1: 11, 12, N.I.V.).
So important was this that in the previous verses Paul wrote:
"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we
preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say
again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be
eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1: 8, 9, N.I.V.).
Forceful words are these, but absolutely necessary, for they were dealing with basic
truth, the very foundation of the Christian faith. To be wrong here is to be wrong
The Apostle describes this good news in I Cor. 15::
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you have
received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you
hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our
sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures . . . . ." (I Cor. 15: 1-4, N.I.V.).
Here is the essence of the good news for sinners. Christ has paid the penalty for their
sins by dying for them and being treated as the guilty one. The Lord has laid on Him the
iniquity of us all (Isa. 53: 5, 6). This gospel meets the needs of all mankind. It is perfect,
never needs changing, and is the divine standard for all gospel preaching. Any other
gospel is no gospel at all and comes under God's condemnation.
The true gospel must be contained in "the good deposit" otherwise Timothy and all
who followed after would have no assured foundation and nothing effective to make
known to those outside of Christ.
We pass on to the teaching concerning the identification of the believer with Christ
and here we have truth that is peculiar to Paul's ministry. It is the epistle to the Romans
that reveals what God has done by uniting the believer with Christ. The Apostle states, "I
have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2: 20). To the Roman believers he wrote,
"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him" (Rom. 6: 6, R.V.). Crucifixion
means death. He continues, "now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also
live with Him" (Rom. 6: 8). After death comes burial, "therefore we are buried with Him
by baptism unto death" (Rom. 6: 4). Verse 5 goes on to teach us, "if we have become