Archive for April 2010

Paul’s Unique Apostleship

April 22, 2010

Paul was not one of the Twelve Apostles: he had a unique, special Apostleship from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul Was Not Chosen During Christ’s Earthly Ministry

The twelve Apostles were chosen in Matthew chapter ten.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; the first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth … (Matthew 10:2-5).

Paul Was Not Chosen as Judas’s Replacement

God chose Matthias as the replacement for Judas.

And they prayed, and said, “You, Lord, Who knows the hearts of all men, show whether of these two You have chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:24-26).

Paul Did Not Meet the Requirements to Be One of the Twelve

There were very specific and detailed requirements for being one of the twelve. Paul did not meet these requirements.

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).

He would have had to have been in the company of the twelve all the time that the Lord was among them, from the “beginning … until the same day” of Christ’s ascension.

Paul Received and Preached a Different Gospel than that of the Twelve Apostles

… The gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the Circumcision was unto Peter (Galatians 2:7).

Paul Did Not Receive His Gospel Revelation from the Twelve Apostles

But I certify you, brothers, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11, 12).

Paul calls this gospel that he received by the revelation of Jesus Christ, “my gospel.”

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Romans 2:16).

Now to Him Who is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began … (Romans16:25-26).

Paul Had an Apostleship Distinct from the Twelve Apostles

Peter and the Twelve were Apostles to the Circumcision – the Jews – while Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles – the Nations (Paul was God’s international apostle).

… He Who wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles … (Galatians 2:8).

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office (Romans 11:13).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

Disoriented and Subverted

April 21, 2010

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as does gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some (II Timothy 2:16-18).

In rejecting Paul and his unique message and apostleship, those in Ephesus and the rest of Asia had lost sight of who they were as the called-out ones from among “the nations.” They also lost sight of God’s grand purpose for the ages and where they actually fit into them.

Paul the apostle says unequivocally, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles [i.e., the nations].” Who, then, was their apostle? There can be no answer but that Paul was their apostle – as he is ours – for he was raised up by our ascended Lord specifically that he “should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:16), calling out a people for His celestial purpose.

Abandoning Paul and his unique gospel, now the Ephesians had completely lost their way. They were so disoriented that they no longer even had the timing of the resurrection correct – essentially negating it. To teach that the resurrection had already occurred stood in contrast to the important truth of the verse before, that of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Having forsaken Paul and the truth, the resurrection was now being taught out of its proper context. By removing the resurrection from its place in the future and placing it in the past, they removed it from the realm of expectation and faith, and as a result they “overthrew [or subverted] the faith of some.”

Sadly, for many, their faith had been subverted from the confident expectation of resurrection. The resurrection was a vital truth of anticipation taught by Paul, without which resulted in vanity (I Corinthians 15) and now “vain babblings.” The resurrection had become meaningless (vain) to them. They did not look to resurrection: instead the extent of their faith was now that they would go to heaven when they die, or perhaps that Christ would return and save the elect and throw the non-elect in hell.

Abraham had faith that in a future day he would have a son and that all the families of the earth would be blessed in his seed. Our faith is not only in the completed death and resurrection of Christ, but also in our redemption when He returns, ruling and reigning with Him in the ages [eons] to come. The end result of this reign will be the deliverance, reconciliation and glorious subjection of all creation back to God.

The misplacement of the resurrection stands in contrast to the glorious “salvation which is in Christ Jesus with age-lasting [eonian] glory (:10) as well as the faithful sayings that we will be living together with Him, and reigning together with Him if we endure the suffering with Him (:11-13).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

A Three-fold Division

April 20, 2010

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15).

An important aspect of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” has to do with knowing where one fits into God’s timetable of events. God’s dealings with man have undergone various designed changes throughout history. Identifying and understanding these changes is basic to “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

Timothy was at Ephesus, and Paul had written earlier to the Ephesians to give them a panoramic view of God’s dealings with mankind through the ages. He did this by making a clear, distinct and easily identifiable threefold division. A divine timetable can be found in Ephesians 2:7-13:

Past: “time past” (:11)
Present: “but now” (:13)
Future: “ages to come” (:7)

In providing the Ephesians with this overview, Paul was demonstrating to them the importance of knowing where they were in God’s plan for the ages.

Time Past

Paul tells us that during “time past” an unmistakable distinction was made between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision, between Israel and the Gentiles.

Wherefore remember that you, 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; that at that time you 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: (:11-12).

Paul gives us certain identifiers for the period he refers to as “time past.”

    (1) Circumcision and Uncircumcision identified a basic physical, racial and social distinction made by God – one that was “in the flesh” and “made with hands.”
    (2) Gentiles were spiritually alienated from God and thus said to be “without Christ.”
    (3) This was their condition because they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise.”

Whenever you find these distinctions governing the way God was working with men, you know immediately you are in “time past.” The books of Genesis through the Book of Acts are taken up with God’s “time past” dealings with man.

But Now

The “but now” period changed all that had been true in “time past.” No longer are Gentiles considered “far off.” This distinction has been eliminated and now “those who were far off are made nigh.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, Who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (:13-14).

During the “but now” period there has been a change in the way God deals with the nations, because “the middle wall of partition” that stood between them and Israel has been “broken down.” In the “but now” time they are dealt with on an equal basis and in the same manner: “there is no difference.”

Paul was the instrument our ascended Lord used to initiate the program of grace for the Gentiles by way of a message called “the mystery” – a secret purpose which God kept “hidden” in Himself until He revealed it to, and then through Paul the apostle.

Our Lord set the nation of Israel aside during the period covered by the book of Acts and from heaven’s glory introduced a new program through a new apostle. With the revelation of this new program we move into the “but now” period. Romans through Philemon are the books that fit into the “but now” division. These are the books that detail what God is doing during the present age of the dispensation of grace.

The Ages to Come

After the present age of the dispensation of grace is brought to a close, there is still much that God will accomplish. Since His prophetic program for the nation Israel has currently been interrupted, so that He could form the Body of Christ, His next order of business will be its completion.

Appropriately, the grouping of books following the Pauline epistles are the Circumcision Epistles (Hebrews through Revelation). They fit doctrinally into the “ages to come.” The distinction between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision returns in the Circumcision Epistles, and we find such statements as:

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Twelve Tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting (James 1:1).

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people (I Peter 2:9; c.f. Exodus 19:5-6).

Right Division: The Answer to Understanding Scripture

The Word of God itself provides us with the key to its own proper understanding through “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” God’s ecclesia, the Body of Christ, is not the only people in the programs and purposes of God. People in other ages need Scripture to instruct them in the specifics of God’s dealings with them just as we do. Remember that all the Scripture is for us – but it is not all to us, nor is it all about us. If we fail to recognize this important fact, we will never be able to properly understand just what God is doing today, nor will we know just what He would have us do.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 2010

The Mystery of Paul’s Gospel

April 20, 2010

The Sacred Secret Revealed Through the Evangel Committed to Paul

Now to Him Who is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25).

Paul’s gospel was firmly centered in the “preaching” (i.e., proclaiming, heralding) of Jesus Christ. Yet Paul did not merely proclaim Jesus Christ based on His earthly ministry as recorded in the four “Gospels” of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Instead he proclaimed Jesus Christ based upon an advancement in truth from God; a progression known as “the revelation of the mystery.”

Why Is It Called “The Mystery”?

Because it was “Kept Secret.”

… The revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25).

Because it was “Hidden in God.”

… The fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God(Ephesians 3:9).

Because it was “Hidden from Ages and from Generations.”

Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations(Colossians 1:26).

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men … (Ephesians 3:5).

Because it was “Unsearchable.”

… That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

Paul’s message was “unsearchable,” i.e., it was untraceable – not locatable – in the rest of Scripture. (For a further look at “the mystery” study the following references: Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-4; 6:19; Colossians 4:3; I Timothy 3:9.)

Where Did The Mystery Originate?

It Came as a Direct, Divine Revelation.

I certify you, brothers, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

… By revelation He made known to me The Mystery … (Ephesians 3:3).

… I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord … the abundance of the revelations … (II Corinthians 12:1, 7).

The last words of the Lord Jesus Christ are not recorded in the book of Acts (chapter one).

To Whom Was The Mystery Revealed?

Paul was the Recipient of The Mystery.

… The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me … (Galatians 2:7).

… The dispensation of the grace of God which is given me … (Ephesians 3:2).

… The dispensation of God which is given to me … (Colossians 1:25).

… The gospel which was preached of me is not after man … (Galatians 1:11).

Paul wrote down the words concerning our Lord Jesus Christ (I Timothy 6:3) for the Body of Christ in this dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2).

Paul was an apostle of the Lord (Galatians 1:15-16; 2:8; Acts 9:15; I Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:11; Acts 26:16-17; Romans 11:13; 15:16).

What Does the Mystery Contain?

The Formation of the Body of Christ.

No other Bible author speaks of the Body of Christ.

Until Paul’s reception of the revelation of the mystery, Israel had been the instrument of God. Now a new group of individuals, called out from among the nations, are being formed as the instrument of God (I Corinthians 10:17; 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4, 12; Romans 12:5; Colossians 1:18; 3:15). This body of individuals is made up of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14-18; 3:6), and begins with Paul (I Timothy 1:13-16). The body of Christ is God’s ecclesia (“the church” – Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 24). The body of Christ is a totally new creation (Ephesians 2:15; Galatians 6:15; II Corinthians 5:17).

The Present Dispensation (i.e., Administration) of Grace.

No other Bible author speaks of this dispensation.

This dispensation begins with Paul (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25). Grace has such control in this dispensation that it is said to “reign” (Romans 5:21).

The Gospel of the Grace of God.

No other Bible author speaks of this gospel.

This wonderful gospel emphasizes and magnifies God’s grace. Paul uses the word “grace” over 100 times in his epistles (more than any other Bible author.) This gospel was provided for by the finished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was not revealed until Paul (I Timothy 2:5-7; II Timothy 1:9-11).

The Justification of the Believer.

The mystery reveals that the believer, joined with Christ, has been made “righteous” – and not just any righteousness, as good as that would be – but we have been “made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ].” Being justified is a great advancement over just having one’s sins forgiven.

The Temporary Setting Aside of Israel.

The revelation of the mystery gives the only scriptural answer to why God is not now dealing with the nation of Israel (Romans 11:11-15, 25). In the program of the “kingdom of heaven” the Gentiles were to be blessed by Israel’s rise (Isaiah 11:1, 10). Yet, according to the mystery, the Gentiles are blessed through the fall of Israel.

The One Baptism.

There were “diverse” (many) baptisms under God’s program for Israel (Hebrews 6:2; 9:10). By contrast, the revelation of the mystery has only ONE baptism, which is spiritual (Ephesians 4:4; I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; I Corinthians 1:17).

The Heavenly Position of the Body of Christ.

Whereas Israel’s hope was an earthly one, the mystery reveals a heavenly hope for the believers in this age (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1-3).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies™
© 2010

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