REVIEW of the SCRIPTURE RECORD
Part 1 ........ Order of the Apostle Paul's last seven letters.
Part 2 ........ Review of the transitory period following the Apostle Luke's record
of The Acts of The Apostles.
Part 3 .........The Apostle Paul's imprisonments during the transition.
Part 4 .........Christian Hope today during this Administration of God's Grace.
Part 5 .........Application of Paul's statement: The Lord Jesus Christ shall judge
the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom.
Part 6 .........References to The Last Days as one prophetic period.
Part 7 .........Summary and correction of Doctrine for this Administration, by
the understanding of the transitory period following the record of The Acts
of The Apostles.
The following seven letters of Paul were written in this sequence after the end of the 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 message of God is commissioned for the Nations, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. (Acts 28: 25-29)
1. To Titus,
2. First to Timothy,
3. Second to Timothy,
4. to the Philippians,
5. to the 'Ephesians'
6. to Philemon,
7. to the Colossians
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:
Including the un-stated writer of the letter to the Hebrews, Paul's 14 letters fall into two groups. Firstly the seven letters written whilst Paul was experiencing those things recorded in the Book of Acts. Secondly the seven letters written after the close of that record, as described above.
God's Kingdom work among the Jews, the Greeks and the Nations, its purpose, its beginning and its postponement is the story recorded in the Gospels and the Book of the Acts of The Apostles. Paul's earlier 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 finally 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 would henceforth send the Salvation message to all the nations and promised that it would reach them. No longer would Israel be privileged, no longer would the Kingdom of Israel be proclaimed. Taught and spoken of, yes, but not proclaimed. No longer would the corresponding church bodies be formed.
As this new present day period opened, no on going record was made, as Luke's Book of Acts was for
the previous period. Anyone living in the period of this present day and wishing to understand God's purpose and Administration for it, must study Paul's letters written after God had announced that change stated above, in Acts 28:28, because only Paul had the authority to explain and expound it(Eph 3:2,3,8,9).
After this announcement to the Jews in Rome, the previous order was 'wound down' over a short period of transition years. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he recognised that his Apostleship(commission) had ended(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 was released(Greek: analuO). He was awaiting whatever God would desire of him(Phil 1:22-26). When God first commissioned Paul for His work at His meeting with him on the Road to Damascus, He had told him that he should expect "what I will show you"(Acts 26:16. compare Acts 9:6).
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 thus becomes of prime importance if we are to understand correctly what God was doing at that time. In the beginning of this short period, God arranged the order for the remnants of the Church begun at Pentecost(1Tim, Titus and 2Tim). After this phase, when Paul realises that his Course is finished(2Tim 4:7), his commission is ended(Phil 1:1), he then recognises his need to identify 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 regarding his place as a Jew and an Israelite. This he does in order to follow after if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12).
In the latter stages of this period, his letters show that he has apprehended, and God has been able to reveal what was 'hidden in God' up till that time (Eph 3:2,3,8,9). This was The new Secret Administration of God's Grace, details of which are given by Paul in two of his last letters (to the Colossians and to the 'Ephesians'). 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 unsearchable [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 this purpose, Paul receives his new commission i.e. his new Apostleship (Col 1:1 and Eph 1:1) for the heralding of this new Administration of the Grace of God to the Nations. Paul tells us that we need to be workmen, found to be unashamed when seeking to understand the Word of God(2Tim 2:15).
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 another
purpose. We are not expected, as those Christians were, to build up the Kingdom of God in Israel,
Paul came to regard his place in that ministry as rubbish, in order to attain to that which God now
Administers freely for us. We, of this new Administration have freely entered all the blessings of
the Grace of God, not only through the work of Christ, but also through the work, suffering and God given understanding of our
Apostle, Paul (Romans 11:13).
* IMPORTANT NOTE A mystery(musthrion) 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 Christian to whom God revealed this mystery. This God did after the work of the Apostles during the Acts Period was concluded. This Mystery is revealed by Paul in his letters to the Christians at Ephesus and Colosse. It is known as The Administration of The Grace of God
Explanatory note on the timing of Paul's Second Letter to Timothy.
In the past, the generally accepted sequence of Paul's last seven letters has been dictated by the belief that the following passage in Paul's Second letter to Timothy indicated his imminent death. Many who have studied these letters therefore place this second letter at the end of the sequence:
TI2 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
However the understanding of Paul expressed in this letter is in keeping with the previous two pastorals, Titus and 1Timothy and shows no identification with Paul's last letters to the Saints and Faithful in Colosse and 'Ephesus', whom he had never met. In referring to his fight, his course and his faith he has in mind his earlier statement (2Tim 2:3-6). This is his mind upon the completion of his course (Acts 20:24) and the completion of his commission (Paul acknowledges this by the omission of the title 'Apostle' in the first verse of his letter to the Philippians). The word 'departure'(analuai...'loose back') is repeated, and enlarged upon in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 1:23), indicating his change of mind and thereby the sequence of the letters.
From this new sequence of Paul's second set of seven letters, we can now make a revised list of the activities of Paul during the period of a few years ending about the time of the Jerusalem destruction:
Apostleship Extending from Acts
1 TIMOTHY['episkopois kai diakonois'](at Ephesus) and TITUS[''episkopois kai diakonois'](at Crete). We should pose the question: Why did Paul find it necessary to instruct Timothy and Titus regarding the overseeing of the churches with bishops and deacons, at this very late date, when he had had ample opportunity and need during the previous years?
These instructions would have been given to ensure an orderly receipt of the Word amongst any new or existing churches, because of the change occurring at Acts 28:28. No longer were the gifts of The Spirit[Cor ch.12] being given. A gift is a gift however(as amongst men), so a gift already given continued until the member of the churches died(slept). The 'episkopois kai diakonois'(Bishops and Deacons) could no longer act as inspired mediators chosen before God by lot, as they were during the Acts Period, because there was now a personal and direct relationship with Christ Himself as The One Mediator(1Tim 2:5).
In the writing of
these letters there is no indication of Paul being in prison or being bound. He
must therefore have been released following his appeal to Caesar, remaining in
Rome ,but would shortly begin his travels again(2Tim 4:20).
A gap of time, perhaps two years or more.
Timothy languishes, seeing only that the promised parousia of The Christ is no longer thought of as immediate. The gradual loss of Spiritual Gifts due to ekklesia members dying, no knowledge of the result of these changes other than Israel ceasing to be favoured with enlightenment, would have caused Paul to write and encourage him: 'stir up the gift which is in you.......'. It was probably Onesiphorus who informed Paul about Timothy's state of mind(2Tim 1:16-18).
Apostleship Continuing from Acts.
2 TIMOTHY['episkopois kai diakonois] Paul again in Rome, bound(2Tim 2:9), awaiting his second appearing before Caesar, recognises the completion of his course during the Acts Period. His work during that time could be offered to God, and he has God's promise of being 'loosed back'(gk...analuO), an action judged to be similar to that of Elijah. Timothy is asked to bring books, and parchments (for Paul to continue his study and correspondence), and his cloak which he left at Troas with Carpus (it was Spring time and perhaps it had been used to wrap Eutychus). Because the prophetic Last Days of Israel's walk with God had been postponed at the end of the Acts Period in 62ad, Paul refers to their restart at a future date, when God's present purpose, His Administration of Grace ends.
Peter confirms that The Last Days will restart when he writes his second letter after the end of the Acts Period: that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Timothy travels to Paul. Paul comes to recognise the need to 'stretch forward' for the prize of the upward calling and to regard as waste, all his works which were related to the authority of Israel during his 'course'. In the light of Paul not now using his previous title of Apostle or Commissioned One(Phil 1:1), it can be understood that this word refers to the completion of the work of this office, which was an indication of his God given authority during his work in the Acts Period. He again refers to the special action of God when he says that he is 'having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. This does not refer to his death. For the Philippians sake Paul declines this wonderful opportunity:
Slave. First Commission Completed
PHILIPPIANS. [episkopois kai diakonois] Timothy has now returned to Paul when this letter was written, . It is important to note the future tense of the verb ch.1 v.6: 'Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will bring it to a full end until [gk....epistelei achri] the day of Jesus Christ'. The 'good work' of the Acts Period was not ended at the time that Paul wrote this letter, neither would it be ended until the members of the churches which had been formed during the Acts Period, had died out. Paul explains his dilemma regarding 'analuw'. He does not regard himself as a Commissioned One because his commission (his course) with regard to his work of the Acts Period is now complete. He calls himself a slave. His single 'target' now is to 'gain Christ', recognising his need that humility should parallel that of His Saviour. He also recognises that his 'course' of the Acts Period is ended. He seeks to arrive at 'tEn ekanastasin tEn ek nekrOn'......the out-resurrection, out from amongst the dead. Paul already expected a 'better' resurrection than that which Martha and Mary acknowledged.....'the resurrection on the Last Day'. He expected a resurrection from among the dead [ek nekrOn] as he states in his letter to the Thessalonians and twice in his letter to the Romans [Rom. 8:11, 11:15]. This is a resurrection from among [literally 'out of'] the dead. Since he already recognised this [ek nekrOn] as his Hope, why then did he seek to arrive at another resurrection of higher priority which is indicated by the double use of the Greek ek 'out of'? His commissioned 'course' during the acts period was ended but he recognised that the work was not complete because of all the promises that God had made concerning the blessing of Israel in The Last Days. He also recognise that to arrive at this prior resurrection, he must put aside all the advantages and Spiritual honours associated with his previous Commission to the Nations with regard to Israel's Hope.
In this state of humility God grants him the revelation concerning this Mystery of the Administration of God's Grace.
The Administration of The Grace of God given for you according to revelation made known to me. To me, less than the least of all saints has this grace been given To evangelise among the Nations the untraceable riches of the Christ, even to enlighten all as to the Administration of The Mystery, of that hidden away from The Eons in God...... [Eph 3:1-9].
It is suggested that Timothy being with him, they was able to discuss and fully grasp the implications of this change ('I have no man likeminded'). News would have come to them of a new group of Christians in Colosse needing instruction regarding the details of the new Administration of Grace. So with Timothy, Paul writes:
Apostleship. Second, new Commission
COLOSSIANS and PHILEMON. Timothy with Paul. In Colosse there is the home of a Christian friend, Philemon, who needs help, instruction and admonition regarding one of his Christian relatives. The allegorical letter Paul writes to him instructs us also. No longer are there 'episkopois kai diakonois', but the personal teaching of God to those whom He has received, is available directly through His Spirit (2Tim 2:7 and Phil 3:15). The letter to Philemon illustrates the importance of the family and thus the example of the Christian 'unit' which is for us to emulate during this Administration of God's Grace...no elders or deacons etc., simply the normal Christian family disciplines with the father being the head(the outflowing Spiritual source) of the wife and the family.
Because this letter to Philemon is full of loving persuasion and delicate authority, it seems that Paul was naturally reluctant to announce his Apostleship, preferring to call himself simply a 'prisoner'.
Destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple. Completed understanding of God's Administration of Grace, and its implication for the Jews.
'EPHESIANS'. In this letter Paul gives us details of his new commission:
The Administration of The Grace of God given for you according to revelation made known to me. To me, less than the least of all saints has this grace been given, to evangelise among the Nations the untraceable riches of the Christ, even to enlighten all as to the Administration of The Mystery, of that hidden away from The Eons in God...... [Eph 3:1-9].
not present when Paul writes this letter. He may have returned to Ephesus, but
more likely had gone to Philippi at Paul's request(Phil 2:19). Ephesus was
probably the first place where this letter was to be taken by Tychicus(Note the
number of times that this beloved brother and faithful minister in The Lord is
used as a messenger... he knew his way to Ephesus[2Tim 4:12]). Paul states that
we are now 'growing into a holy temple in the Lord'(Eph
2:19-22). This was probably prompted by the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.
It was probably intended that the prime recipients of this letter should be
Christian Jews, because of the very large number of O.T. references. They would
have been familiar with these. (Not so the letter to the Colossians where there
are no references to O.T. statements). There are no ''episkopois
kai diakonois'. Christ Himself is The One Mediator(1Tim
Comparison of timings for Paul's Second letter to Timothy.
This chart compares the alternative timings of Paul's letters written during this present Administration of God's Grace, with particular regard to the position of his second letter to Timothy.
From the details of this chart and the explanations given above it can be perceived that the traditional 'last letter' placing of Paul's second letter to Timothy is erroneous. It does not account for:
1. Paul's two commissions.
2. The reasons for the needful requests for the books and the parchments.
3. No reference whatsoever to any aspect of this present Administration of God's Grace.
4. The important reason why Timothy should return to discuss Paul's dilemma subsequently referred to in his letter to the Philippians
5. No reference to the new Hope expressed in his letters to the Colossians and 'Ephesians'.
6. Reference to a continuing gift by the putting on of Paul's hands
7. Reference to the completion of Paul's course during the Acts Period.
As you can perceive from the explanation above, there must have been a good length of time in Paul's developing understanding between the writing of his first letter to Timothy and his second letter to Timothy. It would not have taken Timothy long to travel to Rome at Paul's request(2Tim 4:9). We must bear in mind that during the seven odd years between the Commissioning of Salvation to the nations and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple there was much which continued from the previous Administration. Clues are dotted all through the letters to Timothy and Titus, even to the resolution of his enigma described in his letter to the Philippians. He must have taken a lot of persuading that all the gains to him of his work during the Period recorded in Acts were waste. From then on, his increasing clarity of mind, resulted in the revelation of this present Administration given to him by God and described in his letters to the 'Ephesians' and the Colossians. The destruction of the temple finally put aside all of God's previous Spiritual relationship with the Jew. There is no Scriptural evidence for not recognising that they continue to be 'His People', but without His favour of Spiritual insight, they are now treated as one of The Nations. Grace alone now prevails over all the nations.
Paul's letter to the Hebrews written before the completion of his course during the Acts Period, contains much regarding the Evangel, but 'Ephesians' leads us into the deeper truths of this Administration. The Messianic Jews of to-day recognise the faith of HEBREWS but need the understanding offered in 'Ephesians' regarding the importance of this Administration of God based only upon His Grace.
We must thank God that Paul, a mere man, was prepared to face and seek to understand the coming changes. This he did through his generosity, humility of mind and his deep concern for those such as the Philippians. Without his persistence through much opposing persecution, we also would not have benefited.
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