In his testimony to King Agrippa, Paul made known the commission that he had received from Jesus (Acts 26:16-23). He declared that Christ said that He was sending Paul to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me” (26:18).
The purpose clause in this statement shows that Christ had ordained that through Paul’s ministry the Gentiles who believed in Him would receive two things: forgiveness and an inheritance. Because Luke’s record provides no further information from Paul about what this inheritance was to be, we have to look at other passages to determine its identity.
Colossians 1 is the only Pauline passage that uses the same word for inheritance (κλῆρον) that occurs in Acts 26:18. In his prayer for the Colossians, Paul was “giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12-14).
A close comparison of Acts 26:18 and Colossians 1:12-14 reveals striking similarities:
(1) “darkness to light” (Acts 26:18) cf. “darkness” (Col. 1:13) and “light” (Col. 1:12);
(2) “Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18) cf. “power of darkness” (Col. 1:13) and “kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13);
(3) “forgiveness of sins” (Acts 26:18) cf. “forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14)
(4) “inheritance among them which are sanctified” [κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις] (Acts 26:18) cf. “inheritance of the saints” [τοῦ κλήρου τῶν ἁγίων] (Col. 1:12)
(5) “faith that is in Me” (Acts 26:18) cf. “of His dear Son: in whom ” (Col. 1:13-14)
These striking similarities show that Jesus commissioned Paul with a ministry that had as its purpose that people would receive an inheritance in His kingdom!*
Moreover, Paul had spoken to the Colossians of “the hope which [was] laid up for [them] in heaven, whereof [they had] heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5) and then proceeded to pray his prayer of thanksgiving to the Father for making them “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (1:12). He followed that by stating that He had translated them “into the kingdom of His dear Son” (1:13). From the flow of thought here, we learn that the gospel that the Colossians heard from Paul declared to them the hope of their inheritance in the kingdom of God!
Paul thus preached the gospel of the kingdom to them, and the close correlation of Colossians 1 with Acts 26:18 supports holding that Paul’s commission from Jesus was to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God that involved receiving an inheritance in the kingdom of God!
* Many passages with similar teaching to Acts 26:18 and Colossians 1:12-14 confirm this interpretation by using words related to the word for inheritance (κλῆρον) in both passages to speak of those who will or will not inherit the kingdom (Matt. 25: 34; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; James 2:5).
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