Paul, The Prince of 'Antis'

Bryan Vinson, Sr.
Longview, Texas

No term of opprobrium is of greater currency among the majority of the members of the church today than the term "anti." To identify a congregation, or some Christian, as an "anti," without proper qualification is to bear false witness. Too, to employ this term as identifying another without so qualifying implies the one so doing is not against anything. That person who is for any and everything and not against, "anti" anything, is certainly without integrity and character. Calvin Coolidge is credited with describing a preacher who he heard preach on sin, when asked what he said, laconically replied: "He is against it."

That preacher was anti-sin. No one can justly be for right without being against wrong, and he cannot effectively be for the truth without being equally opposed to error. Right and wrong, light and darkness, and truth and error exist as correlatives, and be it ever borne in mind that the Saviour said: "He that is not with me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matt. 12:30. There is no neutral ground, for one is either for or against truth, and to stand for the truth is to be against that which is contrary thereto.

Excepting alone the Son of God, a greater man than the apostle Paul, I'm persuaded never graced this earth. He is the most exemplary Christian I know anything about. Hence, it is of interest whether he was an "anti" or not; if he was, none of us should be ashamed to be. When he was at Antioch there came down from Jerusalem those who sought to impose upon Gentile Christians the Law of Moses and the rite of circumcision. He withstood them, and he and Barnabas had "no small dissension and disputation with them." Acts 15:2.

Later, in writing to the churches of Galatia, he said: "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily, to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage, to whom we gave place by way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." Gal. 2:4-5. He here reveals himself as standing in opposition to, hence an anti, to the intrusion of false teaching sought to be imposed upon the children of God. A first class "anti," and unworthy of emulation by all lovers of the truth! Note, please, the reason given : "That the truth of the gospel might continue with you." Therefore, to bring anything foreign or alien into the teaching and practice of the church is to render incapable the continuation of the truth of the gospel! No wonder, then, that he pronounced an anathema against all who preach any other gospel than that which he preached (1:8-9.)

Writing to the Ephesians he said: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places," Eph. 6:11-12. I have never seen a statement as completely "anti" in sentiment and purpose as this, have you? Let us notice another statement by him. "For though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." II Cor. 10:3-5.

In writing to the Thessalonians he warned prophetically of the rise of the "man of sin" who "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God showing himself that he is God" 2 Thess. 2:4. Notice the expression of exalting himself above God, and in the other passage that which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. That which is exalted against the knowledge of God would be that which stands against what God has revealed, and designs to supplant it, and the one so doing in reality exalts himself above God.

When the word of man, or men, is substituted for what the Lord has said, this human exaltation is accomplished. Paul stood courageously against all such, and every worthy follower of Christ does the same. Two or three generations ago our forbears stood against the digression of their time, and we reverence them for it. We can not afford to act otherwise today.

The only legitimate way in which opposition can cease to the current practices among us is either established by the scripture's authority for them, or cease the practices. This will restore peace and amity in the church, and a return to that unity prescribed in the New Testament.

The apostle said, "be ye followers of me as I am also of Christ, and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you." I Cor. 11:1-2. We are to remember him in all things as one who was an Ambassador of Christ, and that which he and the other apostles gave "no such commandment" concerning shall never be imposed on the faithful children of God. His opposition, his "anti-ism" shall ever be ours, for as he had to fight a good fight, and as he directed Timothy to do that he might lay hold on eternal life, so must we. Ours is not a contending for opinions and human preferences, but for the truth of the gospel, and that it may continue with us.

Truth Magazine III:12, pp. 10-11
September 1959