Another Mans Foundation?

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Hi M____,
Thanks for your question.
You ask:

What Paul is saying is that he did not want to be preaching the gospel where it had already been preached by the other apostles, who, to this time, had been going only to fellow Jews. That is why Paul quotes Isa 66 in Rom 15:21

Isa 66:19  And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, [ to] Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, [ to] Tubal, and Javan, [ to] the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.

Paul was very much aware of what the holy spirit had told Ananias, the man in Damascus who had prayed for Saul of Tarsus to receive his sight after being blinded by the light on the road to Damascus.
Compare what the holy spirit told Ananias about Saul of Tarsus to what Paul quotes from Isa 66:19.

Act 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

So Paul had been called while he was outside Israel on the road to Damascus, in Syria. He was called outside of physical Israel to take the gospel to those outside of physical Israel. Paul makes it clear that the Gentiles who came to Christ through his ministry, are in reality what is now “of twain one new man… the commonwealth of [ spiritual] Israel:”

Eph 2:11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Eph 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [ between us];
Eph 2:15  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;
Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [ stone];
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Gentiles “in time past” were called uncircumcision “by that which is called circumcision.” But “Christ… has made both one,” and Gentiles “are no longer strangers and foreigners,” but are in fact “fellow citizens” of this “commonwealth of Israel.”
Here is how Paul puts it in Gal 6 in The Message translation:

Gal 6:15  Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do– submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!
Gal 6:16  All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God— his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them! (MSG)

These are bitter words for a world which believes that physical Israel is still God’s chosen people, but they are the words God teaches. There are many orthodox Christians who see the truth of Eph 2, but they have been blinded to the truth of Rom 2:

Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [ is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29  But he [ is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [ is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [ and] not in the letter; whose praise [ is] not of men, but of God.

That is what Paul is saying in Rom 15:20-21. Paul was “magnifying his office as the apostle to the Gentiles. All the apostles came to see what was happening in Israel, but Paul was the first to be able to say:

Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [ is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Gal 2:8  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles🙂

To this very day, there is not a single orthodox Christian minister who believes Rom 2:28. If he believed that verse, he would not be orthodox.
I hope this helps you to see why Paul “did not want to build on an other man’s foundation.” He is not referring to Christ, who was the only foundation. What he was referring to was the foundational efforts of sharing Christ with fellow natural Jews.

Your brother in Christ,

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