Advancing the Revelation of Truth
Introduction to the New and realistic Chronological Order of the Apostle Paul's Last Seven Letters.
|(Acts 28: 23-29)||
Seven letters were written by Paul the apostle after the end of the recorded period called The Acts of The Apostles, in fact, after Paul's pronouncement, quoting from the Book of Isaiah, to the Jews at Rome:
And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is commissioned unto the Nations, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
1. Paul's first seven letters were written during his first commission, during the time of The Acts of the Apostles, the time of the introduction of The Kingdom of God in Israel.
2. On the right is a list showing the sequence of Paul's second set of letters written after the important change described above, This is the sequence which is generally accepted by those Christians who acknowledge that change.
3. It does not take account of the fact that Paul was not an Apostle when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, nor does it perceive that Paul's second letter to Timothy was not his last.
4. There is also some contention concerning the inclusion of Paul's letters to Titus and his First letter to Timothy. It is claimed that their character is better suited to the previous period of The Acts of The Apostles.
1. To Titus,
2. First to Timothy,
3. to the Philippians,
4. to the 'Ephesians'
5. to the Colossians
6. to Philemon,
7. Second to Timothy,
In the light of recent studies it has been found that the correct sequence is that which is shown on the right. In the following article convincing reasons are given which will show that:
1. The firsty three of these letters were written by Paul under his original commission which pertained to his 'course' recorded in The Acts of The Apostles.
2. The last three were written under God's new commission relating to the revelation given to Paul detailing this present Administration of God's Grace.
3. Between these two commissions Paul wrote to the Philippian Church as a Slave of Christ, not as a Commissioned One [an Apostle]. In it he was pressed to communicate his thoughts about his uncertainty regarding the Lord's needs.
4. Whilst writing the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul was NOT considering his own death, but God's offer to 'release him to above', his analuO, which he subsequently did not accept according to his letter to the Philippians.. The 'course' he refers is that of his work during the period of The Acts of The Apostles. He had not yet received the revelation of this present Administration of Grace described in his letters to the 'Ephesians' and Colossians.
1. To Titus,
2. First to Timothy,
3. Second to Timothy,
4. to the Philippians,
5. to the 'Ephesians'
6. and Philemon,
7. to the Colossians
Question: Scripture Students might ask: "Why should I spend my time studying this order of Paul's letters, when I am sure there are many bible subjects more important than this to consider?" This needs a serious answer:
Answer: A Christian should seek to build carefully upon the foundation which is Jesus Christ. Our Christian lives are based upon what we learn from God's Word. Incorrect understanding leads only to a wasteful life and future shame before The Lord.
# A mystery (gk: mustErion) is revealed by God only to those that are 'in Christ', i.e. those that are His, whose relationship with Him has been confirmed by the gift of the Holy Spirit's presence. In this case, Paul was the first to know and proclaim this Mystery of this Administration
Conclusion: The Scripture student can therefore perceive how important it is to look carefully at this second seven letters of Paul, in order to grasp that which God has revealed regarding this present Administration of His Grace.
Particularly ordering them correctly, so that we can receive God's approval by 'forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead'(Phil 3:13).
As Christians our behaviour must be based upon God's Order within which we dwell, that of The Grace of God without Law and having only One Mediator...Christ Himself.
We must not base our behaviour upon an Order which was established by God for the purpose of other Christians to bring in the Kingdom of God in Israel,
We, of this new Administration have freely entered all the blessings of the Grace of God through the work, suffering and God given understanding of our Christ empowered Apostle, Paul (Romans 11:13).
Including the letter to the Hebrews, Paul's 14 letters divide into two groups.
1. The first seven letters written whilst Paul was experiencing those things recorded in the Book of Acts. The second seven letters written after the Jews were Spiritually blinded at the end of the Acts record, those listed above.
God's Kingdom work among the Jews, the Greek speaking Jews and a very small number of Gentiles, its purpose, its beginning and its postponement is the story recorded in the Gospels and the Book of the Acts of The Apostles together with Paul's first seven letters:
First and Second to Corinth, to Galatia, First and Second to Thessalonica, to the Hebrews, and finally to the Romans, gives us a clear insight into the details of his first ministry and its purpose.
At the end of the Acts record, Luke tells us that when Paul had reached Rome, God announced to the Jews, through Paul, that because of their intransigence, He was no longer going to continue to persuade them to accept God's Kingdom, that which He had been seeking to establish in Israel, The Kingdom of God in Israel. Thus, from then on, no new members were added to that Church of the Acts period which began at Pentecost.
This statement to the Jews tells us that God sent the Message of Salvation to the nations, promising that it would reach them. No longer would Israel be privileged, no longer would God's Kingdom in Israel be proclaimed. Taught and spoken of, yes, but not proclaimed. As this new present day period opened, no on going record was made, as was that of Luke's Book of The Acts, for the previous period.
2. Anyone living in the period of this present day and wishing to understand God's purpose and His Administration, must therefore study Paul's second set of seven letters written after God had announced that change in Acts 28:28. Only Paul had the authority to explain and expound it (Eph 3:2,3,8,9). Do not be discouraged in your attempt to understand, even though the Apostle Peter found it difficult, he recognised its importance [2Peter 3:16].
3.The first three letters, those to Titus and Timothy, instructed them regarding their need to order new groups of Christians who had received Salvation through the Gospel of John. Their Hope was based upon the Second Advent of The Christ, even as was that of the Churches of the Acts period. However, they were no longer dependent upon the Spiritually blind Jewsish Order.
4. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he recognised that his Apostleship (commission) for the Acts period, was complete (Phil 1:1) and that God was requiring a new thing of him (Phil 3:7 to 4:15). He had already told Timothy in his previous letter that his Course was complete(2Tim 4:7, also see Acts 20:24) and he would be released (gk: analuO. See this page for understanding of this word). He was awaiting whatever God would desire of him (Phil 1:22-26). He could have had no knowledge of that purpose because it was 'Hid in God' until he was given the revelation (Ephesians 3:3 and 9).
5. Thus we have the second seven letters of Paul which reveal the details of God's activity in the years following Paul's meeting with the Jews in Rome. The sequence of events is of prime importance if we are to understand correctly what God was doing at that time. In the beginning of this short period, God was providing for the needs of
A. the remnants of Jewish Christians in the Church begun at Pentecost(1Tim, Titus and 2Tim) because
(a)The Spirit was no longer increasing His Gifts to the Church, as Paul had described in his First letter to the Corinthians, Their purpose of building up the Kingdom Churches amongst the Jews had ended.
(b) The Jews were no longer the authority for the source of Salvation for all mankind as The Word had stated in the Gospel of John ch.4: v22, but had passed to the message itself being authorised for the Nations, 'and they will hear'.
B. new Christians, both Gentiles and Jews generated by the newly published Gospel of John. Both Timothy and Titus were given instructions regarding the order of these new Christians in newly formed churches.
After this phase, Paul realises that his Course was completed (2Tim 4:7) and his commission ended (Phil 1:1). He then recognises his need to be identified in Christ himself, with the humility which Christ showed unto death (Phil 2: 5-11). He determines to emulate Christ by treating as rubbish all that he held dear when regarding himself as of the stock of Israel. This he does in order to reach forward to to 'know' Christ and the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:7-11). He was not to know at that stage that this was the foundation upon which a new Administration of God was to be set.
In the latter stages of this period, his letters with their prayers show that he had attained this distinction. God had revealed what was 'hidden in God' up till that time (Eph 3:2,3,8,9). This is The new Administration of The Mystery# of God's Grace, details of which are given by Paul in his last two letters ('Ephesians' and Colossians). Here it is stated:
'Ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the Administration of the Grace of God -which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation God made known unto me the mystery;.......Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, has this grace been given, to herald among the Nations the untraceable riches of The Christ; even to enlighten all as to the Administration of this Mystery#, that which has been concealed from the Eons in God, Who created all of them' (i.e. The Eons)........(Eph 3:1 to 9)
For a new purpose, Paul receives his new commission i.e. his new Apostleship (Col 1:1 and Eph 1:1) for the heralding of this present Administration of the Grace of God to the Nations.
Paul has already told us that we need to be workmen, found to be unashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2Tim 2:15). All that pertains to an Administration of The Kingdom of God in Israel should not be mixed with the simple and elegant Truth of an Administration based entirely upon the unique Grace of God without earthly mediators, having only a Spiritual mediator, that of Christ Himself.
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