Now we turn to Paul’s letter written to the Romans
Estimated to be written from Corinth in the spring of A.D. 58, we are not told who began the ecclesia in Rome…Paul had not yet visited that city, but this letter shows us that at least one group existed there unless as many feel the letters were copied and the address left open until it was sent.
Bullinger’s introduction to Romans is quite long, but if you have the Companion Bible I recommend reading it, and also, along with Knoch’s introduction to Romans found in the Concordant Commentary. Two things they said which caught my interest, I would like to comment on.
First in Bullinger’s intro, he said the Holy Spirit arranged that Romans comes first after Acts because of its doctrinal importance even though in another place he shows it was written after the two letters to Corinth and the letter to Galatia?
I am not able to say whether what Bullinger said, is correct or not. I have read where it is acknowledged that Peter and John were the apostles which decided which letters were to be kept together as inspired but not of how they arranged them. But later, after the original apostles had died, history shows us very plainly that a power struggle for authority went on for years within the so called Christian religion which was basically the Catholic Church.
The history of “the early church fathers” is alarming and sad; their zeal to win the world to Christ became a soulish, physical battle of murder, lies, torture and blasphemy, they seemed to have forgotten the teaching of Jesus, for whom they battled, to forgive seventy times seven and to love their enemies?
Paul’s evangel was truly lost in the scuffle at that time for power and authority. The Catholic Church was the dominant force and as we know, claimed Peter as their first Pope, thus the trend to follow the Jewish way of things was used and is still evident today with them and many of those who broke away from her in one way or another.
The distinctness of Paul’s evangel was lost! Rightly dividing God’s Word was forgotten along with Christendom following the ignorance of the Judaisers who tried to corrupt Paul’s disciples, by claiming Jesus as their messiah and yet that the Law of Moses must also be kept in order to be saved.
With all of that, the arrangements of Paul’s letters certainly could have been decided upon by those who later assumed authority, and so down through the generation’s error spawned more error. In my opinion since they were in so much doctrinal error and no true appreciation of Paul’s evangel being separate from that of Peter’s how can we trust their decisions and so perhaps they were the ones who decided to put Romans before the other 3 letters, even though it was written after them?
While it is true Romans is important doctrinally, the other letters show us the progression of how Paul was teaching his disciples, taking them through the milk to the meat of God’s Word as revealed to Paul for the new administration. At the same time I truly believe that God saw to it that the Bible we have today is what we need to be able to learn from and understand Him and our calling in Grace into the new administration with Paul as our Apostle.
We also know that it was the so called Christian church which made changes to the Old Testament books, rearranging them differently from how they were first arranged by their caretakers, the Jewish priests of Israel. The Jewish Bible still has 22 books, while we now have 27 in the Old Testament.
The church fathers, took several books which are one in the Jewish Bible and broke them up into two books such as Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles and also Ezra and Nehemiah which are one book in the Jewish Bible. So it is not a stretch of the imagination to consider that the New Testament also was rearranged.
I have placed several articles of interest in the back of this supplement and one such is on this subject of how we got our Bible and is titled, “The Original Bible Restored” by Ernest Martin, so please check the index for the page number of his article.
The Second thing of interest I want to comment on, was in Knoch’s introduction to Romans where he says, that “all of Paul’s letters are for the Body of Christ because Israel was in abeyance” I agree with this statement and yet we will read where Knoch said that “Israel was being offered the kingdom until Acts 28 and was then thrust away” Also he says, “Israel’s fate was in the balance”
To me Knoch’s statement sounds like a bit of a contradiction. Was Israel being offered the kingdom or were they being told that their messiah had come in the person of Jesus and before He would return, all of Israel must repent? Acts 3 Was her fate in the balance or had it been foretold centuries earlier as to exactly that their messiah would be rejected, no messiah, no king, no kingdom or nation restored? Is being in abeyance and thrust away the same thing as being divorced, or being lo ammi, not my people? If Israel was in abeyance, according to Knoch, when Paul began writing around Acts 19,20 I wonder how could her fate have been hanging in the balance until Acts 28?
We have already discussed in this article the differences of opinion on whether or not Israel was lo ammi the whole time from her being conquered by Babylon right on down to the days of Jesus and also during Paul’s ministry and down to this very day. I feel that she was and it seems that Knoch did not, even though in his commentary on Romans he said they were in abeyance, which seems to contradict his words in his commentary at Acts 28 where he says they were then thrust away. Unless he means being abeyance meant they had a chance but since they rejected the dispensation of Holy Spirit, they then were thrust away.
The letter to the Romans was written at the time period of Acts 20 and so before Acts 28. So it seems to me that Knoch’s words contradict themselves and I only point this out to avoid confusion. We are all human and as we study it seems we need to continually fine tune our thoughts on many things. Just as we have certainly done so with this study on when did the Body of Christ begin, as I feel, we have deepened our understanding of not only the timing of its beginning but also have obtained a clearer understanding of with whom, with the use of the term, Paul being sent to the nations as not meaning that he was being sent solely to the Gentiles, as gentiles in the true sense
So when were they truly thrust away has been one of the questions in this study? Most point to Acts 28 while I feel it was when Babylon conquered and destroyed Israel some 400 plus years before Jesus was born which was when they were divorced, made lo ammi or thrust away as His People in covenant relationship. Now to be more detailed…It would seem the 10 tribes were divorced first and it was 134 years later that then Judah the two tribe kingdom was also divorced. This is hard to explain as Jehovah was married to the 12 tribes…that is what constituted the nation or kingdom of Israel.
I have found no evidence of a remarriage, so how could they have been ammi again as we have discussed, which means to be His People, and restored, with all 12 tribes as the nations or kingdom of Israel again. That has never happened. And why would they need to be restored if they had already been so? It is logical to then conclude, that the hope of Israel being restored in that day as a kingdom or nation of 12 tribes was certainly in abeyance and not even a possibility?
Judah the two tribe kingdom are who returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt and who carried on some sort of semblance of the Mosaic Law…although Malachi tells us they were not being faithful in adhering to it completely or in their devotion to Jehovah…offering blemished and lame animal offerings. But some in Judah we faithful and it is reasonable to assume that even individuals from the 10 wayward tribes returned to Judaism….which is evidenced by the account at Pentecost…all in attendance were Hebrews but some were from other countries speaking other languages…they had come to Jerusalem for the Passover and following festivals. These were then heralded the evangel of Jesus Christ being their messiah by Peter.
So if there was not possibility during the Acts era for the kingdom of Israel to be restored what can we say ended at Acts 28? The rule to the Jew first ended…the dispensation of Holy Spirit was over by the time Paul arrives in Rome and so it was not the ending of the nation of Israel being no longer Gods People or the thrusting away of Israel. Individual Hebrews were being offered a place in the bride church which will rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom when He returns. We must remember that the Jewish church stayed within the land of Israel and Samaria as instructed by Jesus, they were going to their Jewish brethren with the message of a need to repent and to accept Jesus Christ…what ended was the call to the bride church!
We also must remember Jesus is Israel’s messiah, not ours. It was Paul who went outside of Israel to the entire land with His evangel. I think we must also remember, his evangel was based upon the evangel of Jesus Christ. Peter’s church destined for the earthly kingdom and Paul’s, given the secret…destined for the heavenly kingdom. Peter’s evangel founded on Jesus as the messiah of Israel, Paul’s on the Glorified Christ, the Lord of all.
It was Paul who went outside the land of Israel, into Gentile territory obeying his God given commission stated in Acts 9:15 “for he is a choice instrument of Mine, to bear My name before both the nations and kings besides the sons of Israel, for I shall be intimating to him how much he must be suffering for My names sake.” And yet as we have learned, he followed the rule, to the Jew first who would also fit within the class of the sons of Israel.
The Jew were those who were practicing Judaism, or following the Law of Moses and those were mostly from the two tribe kingdom of Judah, Benjamin and Judah. And so all through Acts we have read when Paul went to the nations and would enter each city he would go to the Jewish synagogues heralding Jesus Christ to the Jewish leaders first.
But for the most part the Jewish leaders continued rejecting the evangel of Christ and many were angered by his evangel and sought to kill Paul. It became known that he taught that, those believing in Christ were justified outside the Law of Moses. Even those who accepted Jesus as their messiah, it seems also hated Paul for that message as they clung to the Mosaic Law with circumcision as the sign of their righteousness.
There is another correction for Manual One, Page 23…I said, it stands to reason that these two groups of saints were meeting together…which I meant, the Jewish saints as well as Paul’s disciples since they had the common belief in Jesus as their messiah. It now does not seem to me, that this is the case. As we have learned he did not associate with the ecclesia in Judea, as his own words tell us so, in Galatians 1:23 he states that they did not know him by his face and also with our coming to more clearly understand that Paul’s ecclesia were outside the land of Israel.
We also learned in Acts 21:20-22 there were 10’s of thousand of Jews who believed in Jesus, but were quite upset with what Paul was teaching his disciples and so some Judaisers went to his ecclesia among the other nations, seeking to take his disciples from him.
Getting back to the following of the rule to the Jew first: it also had been carried out as a witness to the Jewish leaders in the land of Judea by the bride church through their apostles. So, the Jews practicing Judaism in the land of Judea through Peter’s evangel for the kingdom to come to this earth received their witness.
While the sons of Israel not practicing Judaism and who were living outside the land of Israel were hearing the evangel of Jesus Christ through Paul’s evangel. It is obvious Paul was teaching his disciples different things from those in the land of Israel under Peter, and the elders at Jerusalem, why else would they have been upset with Paul?
This witness to the Jew first, was given because they had been His Special People in Covenant relationship and they are promised as a nation to be restored and so they will again be in covenant with Jehovah. The many promises given them by Jehovah were still theirs even though as His People, they had failed Him, and as I have said, I believe the Nation was still in the divorced lo ammi status, they had not ever been restored. God chose individuals from His favored People to begin two groups of saints…one for the Kingdom on this earth when Jesus Christ returns and another group under Paul for the heavenly kingdom…both have a ministry, given to them from God in His purpose to bring about Universal Reconciliation.
I suspect that Peter and the apostles came to understand that the Kingdom would not be established in that time, especially when Paul tells them of his revelations from Christ and that he would be heralding his evangel amongst the nations thus a new administration would be developing. Also if they understood their own Prophetic Word, they would realize that all Israel had to first repent in order to be restored as a nation again, no longer dominated by Gentiles and would occur before Jesus Christ would return to them.
Isn’t that evident by Peter words at Pentecost, Acts 3:17-21? It is Christendom who did not and who still does not understand the Prophetic Word given for Israel’s restoration and who have also taught of Christ’s Second Advent being for the Body of Christ…forgetting or pushing Israel out of the picture. Because they do not rightly divide Gods Word of truth or test things which differ.
Without the use of those tools for how we are to study God’s Word which were given us by Paul…Christendom has put the snatching away of which only our apostle Paul spoke of for his disciples together with the words of Jesus. Jesus gave instructions for His Jewish church, the bride and the 12 Apostles He chose for that church concerning His return to Israel as their messiah and King. Jesus did not ever speak of the snatching away to heaven in any way shape or form to any of the saints in the church He began and put in the care of Peter. He spoke of His return, referred to as the Second Advent to the disciples who became the 12 apostles for the bride church.
But, Christendom has twisted the things Jesus said to make them appear to match what Paul said, for the Body of Christ. But an honest study proves otherwise….the Second Advent and the Snatching away are two different events. Different in time and different for whom they apply.
What also is not understood concerning Israel, in most of Christendom, especially by those who spiritualize the scriptures versus the literal understanding and that is that Jehovah is always faithful even when His People are not. Israel was only set aside temporarily. He was being faithful to the promises He made to the fathers of Israel and also out of respect for the position held by the Jewish leaders who were practicing Judaism or in other words still trying to follow the Mosaic Law…thus the rule to the Jew first was being followed.
God chose a remnant out of Israel for the church Jesus began and later He took another remnant out of Israel to begin the Body of Christ under the Apostle Paul. But it does not seem to me, that the ministry first done by Jesus and then given over to Peter and the eleven and then that which was later given to Paul was in hopes of Israel repenting and being restored at that time or that Christ would or could immediately return and set up His kingdom.
Prophecy does not support that theory; instead it shows that there was no possibility at all, of that nation repenting and being restored as a Kingdom in that century. If that had been possible we would have to remove hundreds of prophecies for Israel which are yet for the future.
What seems to be overlooked is that Israel’s prophecies which promise her restoration always show that all twelve tribes of Israel will be reunited again as one nation and in the land of Israel. They will rebuild their temple and return to the worship of Jehovah and the Mosaic Covenant with Him. And that means they first must repent so that Jehovah will take them back as His People in Covenant relationship. That is what is needed to occur first, to prepare that Nation for the return of Jesus Christ, as their messiah and conquering King.
If, Christ could have returned in the first century we would also have to ask, where then would fit, the secret hidden in God for the ages which is Paul’s evangel for the forming of a new administration. The Body of Christ made up of those called out of all the nations and which is taking place during the times of the Gentiles, which those times are when Israel is divorced, lo ammi and being disciplined by being dominated by Gentile nations until it is time for her to be restored. The times or eras of the gentiles allows God to be conciliated to the nations of the world and also to call out saints from the world for the new administration.
It was during the times of the Gentiles, that Paul comes on the scene with the evangel for the nations, to call out a people not His People but who are then, His People. Romans 9:24-26 Paul refers to this People called out of all nations as the complement of the nations…Romans 11:25. Through Paul’s evangel came the building of the Body of Christ, and in this study I think we have seen that it was not possible for God to turn to the nations unless Israel was still lo ammi….no longer His People in covenant relationship.
The complete commission given by Christ to Saul is not usually really emphasized in my opinion or maybe it was just that and I missed it, as it seemed to me the emphasis was always on Gentiles. But Christ said, “for he is a choice instrument of Mine, to bear My name before both the nations and kings, besides the sons of Israel,” Acts 9:15,16.
Again the primary focus has been placed on Gentiles and ignoring the sons of Israel, who were those of the 10 tribes still living in the gentile nations and so considered as gentiles but who were of Israelite heritage….these are those who left Jehovah for other gods, Idolatry is what broke their covenant. Pay attention when reading Acts and other letters by Paul, when he says, you have turned back to God, would not this be referring to the sons of Israel…who left Jehovah, while the true Gentiles had never been in a covenant relationship or served or left the true God, Jehovah…..and so how could they turn back?
I feel this is a very important point to understand, Paul discipled the sons of Israel living in those nations and why they could also be termed, those of the nations or as gentiles if they were still lo ammi. Also they would also be the Uncircumcision, having not practiced Judaism. There are many technicalities involved with what went on in that first century. And as we understand more of them I can see why we need to keep checking our information, rightly dividing and testing what differs.
When we learn to rightly divide and separate our evangel from Israel’s we have the beginnings of a general view of our calling and Gods plan of the ages, but the more we dig and study, the more details we will see are involved and this is what I mean by fine tuning our understanding. Let’s see what we can learn next in this letter Paul wrote to the Romans.
According to Bullinger’s notes on Romans, it is thought Paul wrote this letter from Corinth after leaving Ephesus in the spring of A.D. 58. Refer to Acts 20:2,3.
In Knoch’s introduction, Page 229 Paragraphs 12 and 13 he says of Romans “It is emphatically the portion of God’s word which is adapted to show all men God’s present Grace, preparatory to the higher unfolding of Ephesians. All revelation previous to Paul’s severance to the ministries which are expounded in Romans, as given through the Lord and His apostles, was limited to the Circumcision, concerned with the kingdom promised by the prophets to Israel, and falls far short of the grace revealed through Paul in this epistle. They promised a probationary pardon on repentance, but here we have a complete vindication or justification or acquittal founded entirely on faith.”
I think his words should help us to understand some of the things we read in the Corinthian letters and Galatians based now on our understanding through this study thus far, that Paul was speaking to those of the nations who were of Israelite heritage and who were probably in the majority of those discipled by Paul into the new administration in its infancy. Also remembering those Israelites living in the nations were from the 10 tribes and were not practicing Judaism so would be considered gentiles by their Jewish brethren.
Also as we have said earlier, with Israel being lo ammi, they were called to repent and be baptized in order to receive a pardon of sin. Those who remained faithful are destined to be the bride of the lambkin in His millennial kingdom, whose work will be to evangelize the nations to their God Jehovah through Jesus Christ. I would like to point out that remaining faithful meant that they did not deny Jesus as their Messiah or the work of the Holy Spirit.
We will discuss later, that there were provisions made for their failures as humans and prone to make mistakes and have weaknesses. The important thing was that those of Israel were not to reject their Messiah and for those who did acknowledge Him and then perhaps because of persecution would then deny Him…that would mean they lose out on the millennial blessings. It is in that Millennial Kingdom that Israel will finally carry out the commission Jesus gave them for the nations.
Israel being lo ammi also opened the door for the secret hidden in God to be revealed, beginning with Saul a Jew and through his evangel to call out of Israel another remnant, joining them with true gentiles called out of all nations thereby creating the new administration in grace which is destined for the heavenly kingdom, and who have been conciliated by God and are ambassadors now of conciliation.
This would only be possible if the nation of Israel was first in the lo ammi status and then through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross or pole. The future work for the ambassadors when they are removed from this world will be to reconcile the spirit worlds in the celestial realms, to God, their Creator.
The Body of Christ began during the dispensation of Holy Spirit with its gifts or spiritual endowments of which Paul would need to alert his disciples were to soon cease, which he did in 1 Corinthians 13. Note this is his first letter written…and so not a long period of time from his severing. He also would need to wean those of Israelite heritage, especially the practicing Jew called into the Body of Christ, from pride in their nationality as an Israelite or Jew.
Thus so much council was given on love and that the Jew and Gentile were equals in this new administration. Paul was taking those chosen for the Body of Christ, just as he was, from the hope of Israel and into the expectation given the new administration with its new and different home law of Grace.
They were taken through mercy, a pardon and into justification. Israel hopes for their kingdom to be restored and individuals hope to be in it, if faithful. While Paul taught the Body of Christ expects their new calling to occur even if they fail, because they are justified in Christ whose faith was tested and proven…and that is why there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
So, the sons of Israel were brought through mercy, with the pardon of sin….symbolized by John’s baptism, given to those of Israelite heritage as we saw in Acts while a true Gentile was not given John’s baptism. A gentile did not need to repent for breaking a covenant they had never entered into. Nor did a Gentile need to repent of killing their own messiah, Jesus is not the messiah of the Gentile.
A gentile would come to realize the truths of Who Jesus was and What He did on the Cross through which they are blessed through Paul’s evangel. Thus a remnant of Israelites, the sons of Israel were brought through the dispensation of Holy Spirit given to Israel as the signs they required and into a new administration with all the many spiritual blessings added to the physical blessings they first were given. Paul’s evangel brings them not just a pardon but the acquittal of sin and into the understanding of their being given justification outside the Law of Moses.
In the letters written to the Corinthians and the Galatians we saw that the counsel given by Paul was to an immature body of saints struggling with their Israelite heritage and their soulish natures, thus needing guidance for their conduct under grace which needed adjusting in accord with their calling in Christ. Amidst that counsel Paul built precept upon precept, the doctrinal information concerning their new calling under his discipleship…into the new administration, leaving the physical behind and encouraging them to progress into the spiritual realm as a spiritual entity.
We will now see in this letter to the Romans how Paul builds on those first three letters by giving more technical details which take them into the legalities of a deeper understanding of their justification through the grace into which they were placed!
I think if we can place ourselves into the past when his letters were written, and recognize so much was being directed to his brethren by nationality much more will be easier to understand. I like to think of it as we, the true Gentiles, were sitting by listening and learning as Paul explains his new evangel to those of Israelite heritage called out of Israel’s evangel into the new administration.
Every time now when I read someone saying Paul’s evangel was or is to the Gentiles, I cringe….the proper term is to the nations, Yes the nations are Gentiles in relation to Israel but we are hopefully recognizing that if Israel remained lo ammi all this time, she too was just one of the nations and also that Paul was teaching the sons of Israel living amongst the nations whom he discipled about their new calling from their God Jehovah.
I think we Gentiles have far too easily dismissed the nation of Israel because as humans we have focused on their failures and yes they had many….but instead, we should be focusing on their God Jehovah and His faithfulness! His work with Israel is not over, He will be glorified on this earth through that nation restored and redeemed. Always remember how Paul teaches us that it is through our weakness, that God is Strong and through the unfaithful God proves His faithfulness and it is through sin as the backdrop, that God demonstrates His Grace, Love and most of all His sovereignty as Creator of all…and the Savior of all His creation.
For a long time I have viewed the sons of Israel called into the Body of Christ with the general term of Jews being added to Gentiles, which is wrong. It is just the opposite, Gentiles were added to the sons of Israel…creating a new administration forming a joint body of those chosen and called by God from all the nations in order to demonstrate His Grace through. How often do we forget our Apostle was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and that all the Bible writers were of Israel and also their messiah and the savior of the world, our Saviour, is Jesus Christ? We are the Johnny come lately’s! Romans 1:16 “to the Jew first.”
Signs were given to the Jews in order to instill faith, through fear or awe! Also we must always remember that Satan copies everything that Jehovah does and so there was also the competing of signs and over time the human mind takes things for granted…! Those people expected to see signs and supernatural occurrences and so I feel with human nature as it is, they just took them for granted; they did not practice how to test the spirits in order to understand which were from there own God. The Jewish leaders committed the unforgivable sin by concluding the works of Jehovah were the works of Satan, while today in Christendom the works of Satan, who is the copy cat are attributed to God.
But let’s now turn back to Paul’s opening words in the letter to the Romans in which he once again states that he is an apostle severed for the evangel of God and so he tells us he became an apostle at his severing which took place at Acts 13:1-3.
Romans 1:1-7 “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, severed for the evangel of God (which He promises before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures). Concerning His Son (Who comes of the seed of David according to the flesh, Who is designated Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead), Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship for faith-obedience among all the nations, for His name’s sake, among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ: to all who are in Rome, beloved by God, called saints:”
What is faith-obedience? Obeying faith rather than obedience to the law!
How does a believer obey faith? I suspect it is that we cannot help but believe! Remembering that we are given our faith…which is the faith of Jesus Christ and is not our own to begin with and so we did not muster up faith on our own. We might first compare obeying the Law with faith obedience. That faith is placed within us and we can do nothing but obey it, in that when we hear Gods word, and especially Paul’s evangel, we respond to it, we believe beyond our human soulish thinking. Israel was given, their own specific, home law which was the Law Covenant.
That covenant gave them a set of strict laws, rituals and decrees to live by, which were God’s standards for righteousness. The fine print of their covenant, a contract, was that unless a person kept the whole law, he had failed all of it. Pretty tough contract, and that is why it was a burden for them….fail in one area and they had failed in all of it.
Thus a system was set up with Moses as its mediator along with the appointed officiating priests who did the offering of sacrifices for the individual sins and the national failures…that system was arranged as holy days, seasons, with rituals and ordinances. They were all to be kept in order for the nation to remain in a proper relationship with their husbandly owner, Jehovah God. If the kings or the priests were lax or unfaithful, the whole nation suffered.
Paul told us earlier that those chosen for the Body of Christ were in a new covenant…with Gods laws written on their hearts…and so they were dispensers of a new covenant. Now he is expounding on what that new covenant entails for the saints placed within it. He speaks of faith obedience.
Faith obedience… so again, we might ask how do we do it? We don’t! We are given it, the saints chosen and called by God, are given the faith of Jesus Christ…they are anointed, sealed with it. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law, proven His faithfulness with His life and His death. We believe because we can do nothing else but believe! We are obedient to that faith because we are sealed with His faith, and placed in Christ. That is the intimacy of the term…the body of Christ. We are His body, He is our Head, we are one unit and the grace of which we are clothed with super exceeds any and all failures! Is this hard for us to comprehend….?
Yes it is….even though we are not hindered as those of Israelite heritage were, as we were never under the Law Covenant with its centuries of traditions drilled into their minds. We must try to understand how hard it was for them to comprehend Paul’s evangel, completely contrary to the evangel held by Israel for centuries…..the Law no longer condemned them, they no longer had to work and perform rituals in order to earn God’s favor! Romans 3:22,26 Philippians 3:9, Galatians 2:16,23
For the mind of the Judaisers it was just too simple and too good to be true! Have we not heard that same sentiment today from those steeped in denominational error when we try to explain, what God’s Grace really means which is the salvation of all and reconciliation of all? Christendom has taken on the burden of Israel, and going against Paul’s evangel just as the Judaisers did in his day. Thank God, we have been set free through rightly dividing Paul’s evangel from Peter’s and that of Israel’s.
So the simple answer to faith obedience is that we obey by believing, but the fact is, we cannot help but believe, this is Gods work within us…we do not believe on our own. The human mind does not comprehend the spiritual….but because of the faith placed deep within us by God, we just believe thus we are obeying.
This letter to the Romans, will get into the nitty gritty of Paul’s evangel…But lets continue with this first chapter and notice the clarification for who this evangel is for, starting with Verse 14 “To both Greeks and barbarians…salvation to everyone, but to the Jew first.” Here again …Paul shows all in the nations are to receive this salvation, no matter what nationality or belief system, but the rule was still being followed, to the Jew first.
Knoch in His commentary says the use of Greeks in contrast to Barbarians “was because the Greeks were cultured, refined”? Paul may have also been referring to the Hellenized Jew as they were of Israelite heritage but had adopted the Greek culture and language into their worship of Jehovah and were hated by the Judaisers and sometimes called the Greeks by the Judaisers who were the religious Jews holding to the Law of Moses. The Hellenized Jews had separate synagogues from the traditional Jews and it is logical that Paul would have heralded Jesus Christ to them also by virtue of their Israelite heritage.
We need to try and understand the climate at that time, as there were many Jewish sects, such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Nazarenes as well as the Hellenized Jews and also there were the many nationalities of Gentiles, or barbarians, which were those who did not know Jehovah but also those sons of Israel who were living as gentiles in idolatry amongst the nations. Paul was commissioned to all of these in the broad term, which is used, of being sent to the nations. These sects were at enmity with each other and Paul had to show those called out of each of these differing elements and into the new administration that God through Christ had removed the walls of hatred between them.
If they were in the Body of Christ they were one body or unit and were equals in God’s eyes, having been justified! Which this also meant no more need for religion! Religion is a work done by a person seeking to earn Gods favor. Paul’s evangel is that it is God doing the work! Now perhaps we understand why so much counsel came from Paul on learning to love one another! We take our calling for granted not understanding the conflicts and barriers Paul faced in his ministry with those of varied ethnic natures, becoming his disciples of that generation.
The changing of ones belief system is not an easy task for the human mind and ego. Ones ego becomes so involved with ones belief system that it can actually become the individual’s identity and so when the beliefs are challenged the human ego can perceive this as a personal threat to their identity and thus will react with either fear or anger…fighting and defending itself against reason. God’s spirit is needed to open minds and hearts to Him and His truth and thus help us to remove erroneous beliefs.
Paul continues in Romans 1:15,16 “Thus this eagerness of mine to bring the evangel to you also, who are in Rome. For not ashamed am I of the evangel for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who is believing….to the Jew first and to the Greeks as well.”
Romans 1:17 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written: the just shall live by faith.” this is quoted from Habakkuk 2:4 but it says “the just shall live by his faith.” Paul made the application of this verse to the righteousness of God and the faith given to those in his administration, Paul left out one word, his as it does not apply to those to whom he was writing, because it is not by the faith of the individual called into the Body of Christ.
When we read the account in Habakkuk we see Jehovah was speaking of course of those in Israel whose faith will bring them life and those whose lack of faith will bring them to destruction. Remember they were given the Law which explained how to live righteously and also many prophets were raised up by Jehovah who heralded His words to them and also they were given numerous signs and miracles in order to instill faith, Jehovah proved over and over that He was faithful to them and to His word given them….but their soulish nature led them astray.
Also we might make note that faith and belief are synonymous…The word, faith comes from the Greek word “pist’is” and means Belief. The Concordant Key Word, Page 100 says, “faith, the noun for believe, an assumption of what is being expected a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed. Just as explained or defined in Hebrews 11: 1.”
I find a new appreciation for Paul’s next words in Romans 1:18-25 “For God’s indignation is being revealed from heaven on all the irreverence and injustice of men who are retaining the truth in injustice, because that which is known of God is apparent among them, for God manifests it to them.
For His invisible attributes are described from the creation of the world, being apprehended by His achievements, besides His imperceptible power and divinity, for them to be defenseless, because, knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him, but vain were they made in their reasoning, and darkened is their unintelligent heart.
Alleging themselves to be wise, they are made stupid, and they change the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of a corruptible human being and flying creatures and quadrupeds and reptiles. Wherefore God gives them over, in the lusts of their hearts, to the uncleanness of dishonoring their bodies among themselves, those who alter the truth of God into the lie, and are venerated, and offer divine service to the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for the eons! Amen!”
Several words in this passage that we could look at are…irreverence…which means to dishonor…but what did he mean when he said, some are retaining the truth in injustice? My mind takes retaining, to mean keep or having the truth and that makes no sense. Knoch gave no thoughts on this to clear it up and so I looked to see what Bullinger had to say and it does make a little more sense when read in the King James, as it says “men who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” and Bullinger points out it should read “hold down, or suppress the truth” So then it would read….men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness and this make it more clear for sure.
Knoch did point out in the Concordant Commentary, Page 230,231 that in the time in which Paul wrote this, of course we know idolatry existed but also included in that idolatry was the worship of their Emperors. It was also common for Pharaohs and Kings to be revered as gods in these nations. These men who were worshipped as gods were usually very immoral and the myths they believed in were also of gods being very immoral with murder, jealousy and sexual promiscuity.
Knoch said something else interesting. “The failure of Christendom is largely due to the fact that God is unknown, and His place filled by a fierce, vindictive caricature, who is restrained from his thirst for vengeance by the intervention of an effeminate mediator who takes the place of the Christ of God.” Wow, if that is not a different evangel and a different Jesus, I don’t know what is, but I find these words profound and so true! Please read Paul’s words on a different evangel and different Jesus at 2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:7.
In the closing verses of Romans 1:26-32 we find Paul next refers to what is said to be dishonorable passions….in reference to homosexuality which is said to be unnatural or beside nature…thus a sin. This is a clue for us of what is natural and is then not sinful, Paul explaining that mans nature as created by God is not bad as is taught in Christendom, but, it is what goes against nature that is considered bad by God. Paul lists next that which he says is unnatural behavior and due to a disqualified mind, these things we find to be commonplace in this world in which we live.
Paul states, those committing such things are deserving of death, not only those doing them, but those who are endorsing or condoning those who are committing them. Paul is not teaching of a vindictive God, but merely that mankind is deserving of death and that would be the sentence for all outside of the provision God Himself provided, the Saviour, Jesus Christ and the Grace of God, which is tied to the very righteousness of God as The Creator.
Chapter 2 of Romans begins with Paul pointing out that when we judge others we are in fact judging ourselves as we are all guilty. And this was demonstrated by the Law Covenant given Israel, for anyone to break one part of it, meant they had broken the whole Law, thus deserving of death. This is why they were given by Jehovah, the priestly tribe and the system of sacrifices with rituals carried out to take care of the individual’s sin as well as the nation’s sin.
For those of the nation of Israel and who were then outside the Law, Paul explains they also had no excuse as they too were judged guilty as sinners having inherited death from Adam thus fall short of the glory of God. To sin or fall short in one area was also the same as sinning in all areas. In others words humanity with or without the law, were sinners be means of their dying flesh.
Again in Verse 5 Paul says to the Romans, God is leading you to repentance…he speaks of the stubborn and of Gods indignation which seems to me to be terms used in reference to Israel and in Verse 10 we see again the reference to the Jew first and of the Greek used twice. But he sums up, that whether of the Law or without the Law….man is either perishing or being judged by God as falling short of Gods standard for righteousness.
Paul speaks of the doers of law shall be justified in Verse 13….but who was able to do the law? We will find the answer in Verses 17-29, but first Paul explains in Verses 14, 15 that those of the nations who had not been given Gods law …referring to that Law which was written on stone tablets and yet some of those in the nations, naturally obeyed the law, it was because it was written in their hearts to do so. This had do with mans nature as given by God. A whole study could be done on mans nature being intrinsically good as given by God when humanity was created. It is the dying flesh, the world, and Satan which corrupts humanity and mans nature and Paul also says it is going against nature which results in sin.
This statement made by Paul needs to be understood as we have read the promise given to Israel is that God will write His law on their hearts one day….and we have learned through Paul’s evangel in grace how we are now justified and in the spiritual sense His Law as a covenant has been written on our hearts now…so how can His law be written on the hearts of the unbelievers? I believe this goes back again to the human nature God gave humanity, which is basically good. Man naturally knows good from evil, why even the most wicked of persons knows when they do wrong and seeks to hide it from others.
If we analyze the 10 commandments we would agree that we would want what they represent in our lives. They as Jesus said sum up, what love is. Loving God and loving our neighbor. So these basic precepts are part of the nature given to man by God and the conscience testifying to that. As said earlier, it is the flesh, the world and Satan which has hardened the conscience through weakness and Satan nurturing those weaknesses along with false religions which have taken mankind into unnatural acts, going against the natural good given by God.
In Verses 17-29 Paul says “to those denominated a Jew and resting on law, and are boasting in God, and know the will, and are testing what things are of consequence, (testing things which differ) being instructed out of the law…Besides, you have confidence in yourself to be a guide of the blind, a light of those in darkness, a discipliner of the imprudent, a teacher of minors, having the form of knowledge and the truth in the law.. You, then, who are teaching another, you are not teaching yourself! You are heralding not to be stealing, you are stealing! You are saying not to be committing adultery, you are committing adultery!”
And he continues to list the things of the law which they teach must be observed and yet they are not keeping it themselves! Verse 24 was quoted from Ezekiel 36:20,23 “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles throughout, as it is written.”
This is leading up to his telling them, that circumcision benefits them only if they are keeping the whole law which they are not and so circumcision benefits them not. Ending his argument with Verses 28 and 29 “For not that which is apparent is the Jew, nor yet that which is apparent in flesh is circumcision; but that which is hidden is the Jew, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose applause is not of men, but of God.” Verse 24 is quoted from Ezekiel 36:20,23
Religion is soulish and fleshly, with the observing of rituals and decrees, it gives an outward appearance that one is serving God or gods…the Judaisers by means of their self righteous hearts were serving religion and not God. Paul aptly showing that God is observing that which is invisible…the spirit He has placed His spirit within those He chooses. His anointing, sealing and justification is the circumcision of the heart and also the spiritual baptism of His saints into the Body of Christ.
Chapter 3 continues with the subject of the Jews, circumcision and the fact that it was they who were entrusted with the oracles of God. Paul also stating the unbelief of men does not nullify the faithfulness of God. Verse 4 is quoted from Psalms 51:4.
In Verses 9-18 Paul sums up the condition of both Jew and Greek (Gentiles). “What, then? Are we privileged? Undoubtedly not, for we previously charge both Jews and Greeks to be all under sin, according as it is written, that not one is just, not even one. Not one is understanding. Not one is seeking out God. All avoid Him: at the same time they were useless.”
“ Not one is doing kindness: there is not even one! A sepulcher opened is their throat. With their tongues they defraud. The venom of asps is under their lips. Whose mouth with imprecation and bitterness is crammed. Sharp are their feet to shed blood. Bruises and wretchedness are in their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God in front of their eyes.”
This has been a compilation of several quotes from the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalms 14:2,3; 53:2,3,4; Psalms 5:9,10; 140:3; 10:7; Isaiah 59:7,8; Psalms 36:1,2.
In the next few Verses, 19-23 Paul states “by works of law, no flesh at all shall be justified in His sight, for through law is the recognition of sin” Now Paul has given the purpose of the law… it reveals sin. And he then continues with the next phase of God’s teaching program. “Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest being attested by the law and the prophets), yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faith, for all, and on all who are believing, for there is no distinction, for all sinned and are wanting of the glory of God.” Paul first accused the Jew and then all of humanity, all fall short of God’s glory….…now he takes them into what God has done for them through Jesus Christ’s faith.
Verses 24-28 He continues, “Being justified gratuitously in His grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus (Whom God purposed for a Propitiatory shelter, through faith in His blood, for a display of His righteousness because of the passing over of the penalties of sins which occurred before in the forbearance of God), towards the display of His righteousness in the current era, for him to be just and a Justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is debarred! Through what Law? Of works? No! But through faiths law. For we are reckoning a man to be justified by faith apart from works of law.”
The Judaisers had no reason to boast nor did the saints called to salvation in Paul’s evangel have any reason to boast in themselves or of who had discipled them, they had done nothing on their own. They had been justified gratuitously in His grace! None of humanity save Jesus Christ is capable of living up to Gods righteous standards as was shown in the Law Covenant.
Verses 29-31 “Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not of the nations also? Yes, of the nations also, if so be that God is One, Who will be justifying the Circumcision out of Faith and the Uncircumcision through faith. Are we, then, nullifying law through faith? May it not be coming to that! Nay, we are sustaining law.”
I find this an interesting statement, the Circumcision out of Faith and the Uncircumcision through faith. In this passage Paul makes a comparison, out of versus through, so, what is he saying? I looked in the Keyword Concordance and Knoch says, “The Circumcision who have believed before and have received a pardon receives this greater boon because of the faith they have. The Uncircumcision use faith as the channel in receiving it.”
So for the circumcision it was out of their faith which was demonstrated by their act of accepting Jesus as their messiah. For those in the Body of Christ it is through the faith given to them when chosen and justified outside the Law of Moses or in other words chosen in grace and given the faith of Jesus Christ!
It seems to me, that we must understand the differences in how God dealt with and deals with those in the nation of Israel in comparison to how He deals with the new administration under Paul’s evangel. We have discussed over and over that it is God Who does the choosing of those who will believe and yet we must harmonize this with the fact that Israel was given signs and miracles, and direct communication with Jehovah, through their prophets.
Each administration has some likenesses and yet each has their differences which are something I want to explore in more depth. We point to Abram and how it is said he believed God and thus righteousness was imputed to him. Yet we can study his life and see he lacked faith in Jehovah many times even though he obeyed and left his home and sets out on the journey Jehovah required of him.
In the days of Jesus ministry, if I am correct that the nation of Israel had continued to be in their lo ammi status and that is why they were blind as Isaiah 6 foretold, which was confirmed by the fact that Jesus quotes that same passage to His disciples, applying it to Israel right then and tells His disciples they only understood the things He was telling them because the father had shown it to them. Matthew 13:11-16
Yet, as men of Israel at the same time they were being given signs and miracles to instill faith. We today in the Body of Christ are not, we have been given the indwelling spirit which aids us in understanding the completed Word of God which Paul said the gifts or outpouring of Holy Spirit in a visible way would cease when that which was incomplete would be completed…in other words the Word of God through Paul’s epistles, it was given to him to complete the Word of God, because with them, His Word, what we call our Bible, then contained the complete revelation from God for both administrations. Colossians 1:24-26
The signs and miracles were the visible presence of Holy Spirit and why I refer to the Pentecostal era as the dispensation of Holy Spirit. Israel was given that witness, but only a remnant responded to them correctly, which was to repent and be baptized. The remnant first called out of the land of Judea and the practicing Jews were called into the bride church and years later Saul is met by Christ and was spoken to by Him and given audible instruction, enabling him to believe in Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and as the sons of God. Later when he is made the Apostle Paul he is sent to minister amongst the nations to the sons of Israel as well as some practicing Jews, another remnant called out of Israel and being placed within the Body of Christ.
The sons of Israel and the practicing Jew were first pardoned, shown mercy, followed by being given the gifts of the Holy Spirit as proof they were truly discipled by Jehovah their God. When Paul writes his first letter to the Corinthians, some were misusing those gifts and so Paul has to counsel them and he also explains that those visible gifts would cease as they are for minors. Paul had already begun to teach them of the many spiritual blessings or gifts they were given which were superior to the physical gifts.
He tells them of what some of these spiritual blessings are, such as the anointing, the sealing, the earnest of the spirit, the circumcision of the heart a spiritual baptism and the indwelling spirit of Christ which enabled them to believe and how they were given the faith of Jesus Christ and thus why they were given justification. By the time he writes the Ephesian epistle, those physical gifts given as signs have ceased and again he goes in depth on every spiritual blessing in the celestial which are theirs and will not cease.
We must remember and understand Paul’s analogy of a child being tutored until mature…which he gave for our own church, the Body of Christ. In this letter to the Romans he is getting more technical in explaining what God is doing with Israel, the Jew and the nations of the world under his apostleship, through his evangel, the new administration founded first on the sons of Israel with Gentiles added in and then through the years and centuries following, Gentiles comprising the majority. Again we must remember, if Israel were lo ammi then those sons of Israel even though of Israelite heritage were gentiles in Gods eyes.
In Chapter 4 Paul brings Abraham into this discussion concerning faith, circumcision and uncircumcision. Again, this is because he is teaching his disciples living amongst the nations and for the most part were the sons of Israel along with some Jews and a few true gentiles. Those of Israel are who constituted Abraham as their father. So, Paul is taking his disciples with that mindset saved through his evangel, to the time, with Abram before the law and before Abram was circumcised.
The passage Paul quotes from is just before Jehovah made the first unconditional covenant with Abram thus reminding them of how Jehovah dealt with Abram before Law, which I think it is safe to say he was dealt with in grace. But of course, why not, there was no nation of Israel and no Law covenant enacted for another 400 years? When Jehovah called Abram out of the city of Ur in the Chaldees, Abram was not serving Jehovah, he had not asked Jehovah to come into his life, he was serving false gods, as a Gentile and an idolater.
Paul telling them in Romans 4:3, “For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness? Paul quoted this from Genesis 15:6.
In our weekly Bible study, the question has come up, was Abram indwelt with the spirit of God as those in the Body of Christ are? Which then brought up other questions such as, was he given faith as we in the Body are given the faith to believe? Also at what point in his relationship with Jehovah was he declared righteous. We will find out it was many years after his first calling.
Because of these questions let’s look at the account given of Abram’s life from his calling until the time that Paul has pointed to in Genesis 15:6
Jehovah appeared to Abram and spoke directly with him or by means of visions on 7 different occasions. I have to ask how could one not listen or believe what was being told them, when in the presence of God Almighty, Himself? It must have been quite the meeting that first time and made such an impression on Abram, because it appears that he obeyed quickly, as we are given the impression that he packed up his large household and hit the road.
But, when we dig a little deeper it is not that clear as the account merely states action taken without the time frame involved with those actions or events. In Bullinger’s notes in the Companion Bible, it is estimated that Abram was 50 years old at his first call and that it was 25 years until his second call at age 75 after his father, Terah had died in Haran and thus Abram leaves that city. We are not told how long they tarried in Ur before embarking on the journey or how long it took for them to arrive at Haran.
Dr. Bullinger did a lot of research on the numbers used in scripture and he says “it appears that things happened in 25 year increments with Abram and also with the number 5 as 5 x’s 5 = 25.”
Abrams father, Terah was living when Abram was first called by Jehovah in Ur and thus he was the true head of the household and he would have to decide if and when they were to move and take this journey and so he must have been convinced of the authenticity of Abram’s meeting with Jehovah for him to go along with the plan! But we are not told any of these details; it may have already been part of the plan of the family to travel and or move?
The story begins at Genesis 11:31,32. Note it speaks of Terah taking Abram and Lot and their wives to Haran which must not have been a short or quick trip as it seems to have been at least 20 years from Abrams first call, to when they arrive in Haran and so this is why I say we don’t know how long after Abrams call that they left Ur and began the journey towards the land Jehovah said would be his.
This is why Genesis 12:1 says, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram…Get thee out of thy country…” So this is referring to the original, first encounter with Jehovah some 25 years earlier. We can also read in Acts 7:1,2 where it tells us Mesopotamia was his home country. We are told only of their arriving in Haran and it appears they were there for 5 years, enough time for doing business and to increase the wealth of the household. When Abrams father dies at 205, it appears that Abram then 75 began the journey again.
It is in Genesis 12;2,3 that the story continues, as we have already discussed this refers back to when Jehovah first spoke with Abram telling him to leave the city of Ur with his household and journeying to a land that Jehovah would show him. Jehovah at that time had said to him, “I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Then Genesis 12:4 picks up, after Terah dies and tell us that Abram leaves Haran. According to Bullinger’s notes, Abram was then 75 years old. Twenty Five years had passed from the first call to Abram and he hears from Jehovah again, in Verse 7 we are told that, “the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, Who appeared unto him” So at this point Abram worships Jehovah shown by the building of an altar, nothing is said of righteousness being imputed to him? Abram continues “south and because of a famine in the land he went down into Egypt.”
Genesis 13:1-13 gives the account of Abram leaving Egypt after his scary encounter with Pharaoh, because of not telling him that Sarai was his wife and thus Jehovah needed to intervene and rescue her from Pharaoh. The account also tells us the strife with Lot and their decision to separate with Lot choosing to live in Sodom and Gomorrah.
In Verses 14-18 Jehovah speaks to Abram again, “Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art northward and southward and eastwards and westward: For all land which thou seest to thee will I give it and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise; walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.” Nothing is said here of being declared righteous or of having faith.
Chapter 14:1-24 gives us more details of Abram’s life after with his dwelling for a time in the land of Canaan, in this chapter details are given of several kings and their wars. Lot and his household were taken hostage by one of these kings and then the account tells of Abram’s rescue of Lot. Also this chapter gives us the story of the meeting of Abram and Melchizedek the king of Salem. Nothing is said in these two chapters of righteousness being imputed to Abram as of yet. And so for me, I take this to show us that Jehovah was proving Himself to Abram and perhaps Abram proving himself to Jehovah?
Genesis 15:1 says, “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield and thy exceeding great rewards. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me seeing I go childless and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold to me Thou hast given no seed; and lo none born in my house is mine heir. And, Behold the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, this shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.”
We must remember Abram had been told by Jehovah that his seed would become a great nation and possess a large area of land…and here it is perhaps 34 years later and he is still childless…it seems that he is having doubts as expressed by these words. This follows his trouble in Egypt and follows the time Lot was kidnapped and his rescuing him, and also after his meeting with Melchizadek and we must remember was before, Ishmael or Isaac were born, as Abram says to Jehovah in this passage, I have no heir and thus before circumcision was introduced to him by Jehovah. Now we can read Jehovah’s answer.
In Genesis 15:5 Jehovah told Abram look at the stars in the heavens, pointing out how that they cannot be counted…and says “So shall thy seed be” Jehovah does not tell him how any of this is going to be accomplished just tells him again using a different illustration of how his seed will be numberless. Lets look at the order of these events, thus far we have from the time Jehovah first spoke with Abram and he leaves Ur with his father and household until we get to the passage that Paul quotes in Romans 4:3 which was from Genesis 15:5,6 is a period of time of 34 years.
So, to review, it is estimated that Abram was 50 years old when they left Ur and 75 when he left Haran. And this incident is estimated to be about 9 or 10 years after his leaving Haran. It appears that it will be another 14 or 15 years until the covenant of circumcision is made and Abram’s name is changed to Abraham. So we read in Verse 5 Jehovah had Abram look towards the heavens and view the stars …and tells him just as numerous as those stars are so shall thy seed be. This is when the account next says in Verse 6 “And he believed in the LORD and it was counted to him for righteousness.”
The covenant of circumcision takes place later, in Chapter 17. We are also told in this particular incident, the word of the LORD came to him in a vision in Chapter 15:1. So we have different statements, Jehovah spoke with Abram, Jehovah appeared unto Abram and Abram received visions, as well as divine intervention when Abram would get himself into trouble. Signs and miracles were given to Abram to instill faith!
For me, it seems that by that time, a relationship had developed between these two, Jehovah had proven Himself to Abram and thus he came to believe in Him as LORD. Also, Jehovah could read his heart and knows this. Jehovah declares Abram righteous because he believes in Him as LORD which I believe is backed up by what we read of his life and journey with Jehovah and by scripture. There is an interesting thought showing this at Nehemiah 9:7,8
“Thou are the LORD the God, Who did choose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees and gave him the name of Abraham; And found his heart faithful before Thee, and made a covenant with him to give the land……” In other words Abram was worthy to enter a covenant with Jehovah as what comes next after the declaration the Abram is righteous before Jehovah, is the first covenant Jehovah made or gives Abram. Abram prepares for it but is not a participant of as he falls asleep.
We read this in the 15th Chapter and Verses 7-18. Jehovah again speaks with Abram and shows him the land which will belong to his descendants but Abram asks for some sort of proof that he will receive these promises.
We might ask why, well if we keep in mind how much time has passed since his first call and Abram is still childless he has doubts and or wants more confirmation of what he has been promised. Abram is told to gather the things needed for the ritual of making a covenant, which is a promise, binding the two participants, but then Abram falls asleep and Jehovah performs the ritual alone, making that first covenant with him and unconditional covenant by which only Jehovah is bound to keep.
It also seems to me that there must be something significant that this is after He has declared Abram righteous or just. Jehovah alone performed the ritual of the covenant, while Abram sleeps through it, and thus it is up to Him alone to see that it is kept. It is not up to Abram or his seed to bring about their ownership of the land Jehovah has shown him would be theirs. It is up to Jehovah. This unconditional covenant with Abram was made before his name was changed and while yet uncircumcised. Abram was a Gentile.
Paul says circumcision was given for a sign, at Romans 4:11,12 and thus was a seal of righteousness of the faith which was in uncircumcision for him to be the father of all those who are believing through uncircumcision for righteousness to be reckoned to them and the father of the Circumcision, not to those of the Circumcision only. But those also who are observing the elements of the faith in the footprints of our father Abraham in uncircumcision.”
In uncircumcision, Abram believed in Jehovah. Paul says that circumcision was the sign of that belief. The cutting off of the flesh…showed the impotence of flesh to become righteous on their own….over time the Jews forgot this and considered it a sign of their own righteousness. But Paul is saying Abram is the father of those…uncircumcised in faith as well as those who are of the circumcision.
So now, we can ask again, was Abram justified when Jehovah first called him or was it later, I can only take what the scriptures tell us and they show us that Jehovah does not declare Abram righteous until Genesis 15:6, which as is estimated to be about 34 years from his first calling. Even though Paul uses the name of Abraham, we were told it was while he was Abram that he was declared righteous and before Jehovah instituted the next covenant with the sign of circumcision with Abram, changing his name at that time also, to Abraham, about another 15 years.
When the covenant with circumcision was instituted with Abraham and his household, Ishmael was 13 years old and the descendants of Ishmael still today, circumcise on the 13th day, while Jews circumcise on the 8th day.
Eight in the scriptures stands for new beginnings or a new series. While 13 is outside the 12 which stands for earthly government or rule and as we now is used repeatedly, in connection with Israel, 12 tribes, 12 apostles, 12 thrones.
The number 13 in the scriptures is associated with rebellion and apostasy. Dr. Bullinger notes that the number 13 is associated in the world as a sign of ill omen or bad luck .His book Numbers in Scriptures is extensive on the multiple uses of numbers and as he says, “can not be mere coincidence because of the consistent theme and use of them throughout the entire word, showing Holy Spirit used these numbers consistently and that they have meaning.”
I recommend this book for everyone’s library, I guarantee once you see the consistent use in relation to names it becomes clear he was right. But interestingly, he points out that the number 13 also has to do with sin and atonement. I will place a small article on this interesting information at the end of this study, if you have the book turn to Page 228 and review this for yourself. Let’s get back to our history of Abram.
We go now to the events which follow the 15th Chapter, and in reading Chapter 16:1-16 this gives us the account of Hagar and Ishmael’s birth. Since Sarai appeared to be barren and lacking the faith that they would be able to produce the child….promised them by Jehovah, Sarai encourages Abram to have a child with her handmaiden. Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bare Ishmael, Verse 16.
In this chapter we are told that, the angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar as she was fleeing her mistress Sarai, even though it was Sarai’s idea for her husband to have a child with Hagar which was the custom in those times, if the mistress was barren, a substitute could bear the heir, but Sarai became jealous that she had conceived.
Hagar is told to stay and is given the promise from Jehovah that her seed will also be multiplied greatly, Jehovah tells her in Verse 12 “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” We see this prophecy in fulfillment even yet today. as Ishmael had 12 sons and his descendants make up many of the Arab nations which hate Israel today and also cannot even get along with one another. Genesis 25:12-18
Please read, Genesis 17:7-21 which give the details of the covenant of circumcision and also shows this to be another time that Jehovah visits with Abram and speaks personally with him, giving him the instructions concerning circumcision. This covenant was instated before the child of promise is brought forth.
Chapter 18:1 And once again we are told “The LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day” This is the time in which they are told that they shall now bear the promised child…which arrives when Sarah was 99 and Abraham, 100 years of age…long past child bearing years, thus leaving no doubt that this was a miraculous conception brought about by the one who promised Abram and Sarai a child…or heir. Chapter 21 gives the details of this birth.
Genesis 22:1-19, gives the account of Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac, who was a young man by this time as he carries the wood up the hill for his father and inquires as to where is the lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham tells him “Jehovah will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” This incident is referred to at James 2:20-26, as James also speaks about Abraham’s faith and believing God thus being justified…but in the context of faith and works.
Abraham’s acts backed up his belief or faith. So all of these fine details must be analyzed and understood in order to understand what may differ with Abram’s faith and or believing and thus being declared righteous and how and why those in the Body of Christ have faith and are declared righteous. Rightly dividing and always testing what differs.
My reasons for going through these chapters in Genesis, looking at Abrams history was to show the progression of events took place over a lengthy period of time, 30 to 40 years. Also to try and establish when, how and why, Jehovah stated that Abram was righteous. We learned it was not at his calling at age 50 telling him to leave Ur or of when he left Haran after his father died which was 25 years later. That statement is not made for another 9 or 10 years, and so it was after many visits by Jehovah and after many events through which Jehovah showed Abram that He was God!
Abram was said to be righteous because he believed God or believed in the LORD and this was after 34 years of His involvement with Abram. We have read he was given many reasons over many years to trust Him and to believe or have faith in Jehovah, it was not blind faith. My point being Abram was not given faith as you and I have been given faith….we have no visible signs we are given a measure of faith.
So we have been testing the things which differ. What is the same or what is similar, God Chose Abram, and in that choosing God graced him. God chooses those in the Body of Christ and they are given absolute grace in that choosing. God gave Abraham physical reasons to believe in Him. We are given an invisible inward faith which enables us to believe His Word.
We need to also remember from this, what Paul was showing the disciples by bringing Abraham into the discussion. They were being told by the Judaisers, that Paul was not a true apostle and his evangel was in error. The Judaiser were telling them they needed the Mosaic Law and circumcision in order to be saved. Obviously some of his disciples were fearful that the accepting of Paul’s evangel may not place them in favor with Jehovah. Paul demonstrated to them through the experiences of Abraham that Grace came before the Law and now if indeed Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law why is it hard to understand that again Jehovah is giving grace?
This is also why Paul says we, the true gentile, can count Abraham also as our father, and was he not actually also a Gentile? The Israelites come about through Jacob his grandson whose name was changed to Israel. So I have to repeat, is the faith given to us different from the faith Abraham had which constituted him righteous? I think so. Yes faith means to believe but the process of believing is different. So perhaps, the better question to answer is how Abraham received his faith, versus how we receive ours.
We are told that Jehovah spoke directly to Abraham through visions and also by means of personal visits in which Abram saw Jehovah and talked with him. Would we not say then his faith was inspired by physical, outside sources? It seems so to me and so what I am trying to say is that Abram had a different experience with Jehovah than we are given with Christ. Signs were given him to instill faith!
Paul says we are of Jesus Christ’s faith, and given the indwelling spirit of Christ, having the mind of Christ…all this enabling us to believe and strengthen our own human faith, but we are not dependant upon our own faith as we are saved and justified and declared righteous by God, placing us in Christ.
Once, the dispensation of Holy Spirit was over and Paul’s evangel went entirely to the spiritual realm, those chosen for the Body of Christ are given no signs…we are instilled with faith; the faith of Jesus Christ is given to us….and thus we just believe God’s Word is true even if we do not have our doctrine straight.
The new administration, the Body of Christ through Paul’s letters which revealed the revelations he had received explaining it as the next phase of Gods Plan of the Ages. His letters were recorded and copied and sent out to all his ecclesia, to his disciples….the spirit within the chosen saint is able to respond to the written Word of God which then enables the believer to grow to maturity…understanding their calling and the spiritual nature of the Body of Christ.
We have learned through Paul’s letters that we are of the faith of Jesus Christ and we are given a measure of faith, Romans 12:3b. It seems logical to me since we share Christ’s allotment that the measure of faith we are given would be a measure of His faith…as it is tried and proven and always true. We can fail but His faith never will, along with spirit and faith we are given the anointing, sealing and the earnest of the spirit, we are placed in the new administration and all without our asking for them or it. What is the same is that Abram was chosen and graced with being chosen by Jehovah, he did not ask for it either. After 34 years, God declares him righteous and makes an unconditional covenant with him or for him might be the better explanation.
The first covenant was given him while he slept; it promised Abram that he would have a seed, obviously as it promised that his descendants would one day bless all families of the earth. It also guaranteed that it would not be left up to his descendants to accomplish that promise. Jehovah only is bound by His word to see that it is accomplished. In a sense we too, in this new administration, having no choice in the matter, were asleep when we were chosen, especially so if indeed we are chosen in the womb or at birth as we discussed in Manual One.
It is said; Abraham believed in the LORD (Jehovah) and thus was declared righteous. While Paul tells us, that we are given Jesus Christ’s faith and His righteousness and that is why and how we are declared righteous. So it is not by our own faith or by our own works or acts but by Jesus Christ’s faith being imputed to us. Abraham was in the physical realm, with personal visitations and visions from Jehovah Himself, Abraham’s descendants also had visions and personal visits with angels and Jehovah, Himself, given them to inspire their faith and trust in HIM.
That is why faith and works were required of them. We are in the spiritual realm, with no personal visits or two way conversations with God or visible manifestations of His Power are not given us today and yet we believe because of being given faith and given the indwelling spirit and given every spiritual blessing in the celestials.
But getting back to Abram and the first covenant, his believing Jehovah and given righteousness was the believing in uncircumcision and of course this was long before the Law Covenant comes into being, about 430 years later. That is what Paul wants them to remember…Abraham before circumcision and without the Mosaic Law he had been declared righteous by Jehovah and so too; God again has declared those saved through Paul’s evangel to be righteous thus justified in Christ without the Law and circumcision.
I wondered if there was any significance in the use of the name of Abraham by Paul as in the passage he quotes Abram’s name had not been changed yet. It is later, after the first covenant, and at the time of the second conditional covenant that Jehovah instructs him on circumcision that his name is changed to Abraham. An “h” is inserted into Abram, becoming Abraham. According to Bullinger’s notes on Genesis 17:5 “the 5th letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the h and the number 5 stands for grace.” That was another 14 years or so after the passage Paul quoted from.
The name change of Abram to Abraham is associated with the covenant of circumcision. But, I guess his name was changed and so that became his name and is usually always used except in reference to the history of the man. But with what Bullinger said, the inserted “h” then always implies grace…..for his descendants?
In Manual two, which I am still working on “The Times of Restoration and Prophecy for Israel,” I go into depth on the history of Abraham…and I added an interesting study on the three women by whom Abraham bore children, Hagar, Sarah and after Sarah’s death, Keturah.
Through these three women he fathered 8 children and each of these women was a descendant of one of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. It is through these three sons of Noah, that the world of mankind evolved and the study shows which nations came about through each of these three sons and so this also ties into how all families of the earth would be blessed through the seed of Abraham as his children are found in all three lines from the sons of Noah. Let’s continue now, with the promises given Abram and the answers to our questions about his faith..
Nothing is said in Genesis of Abram or later as Abraham being indwelt with the spirit of God as that being the reason why he believed. But that is exactly what we are told by Paul as to why we in the Body of Christ believe. It is only Paul who speaks of the indwelling spirit in relation those called into the new administration.
We cannot apply what is ours to others in other dispensations or vice versa. Yes Abram was chosen by Jehovah, as also were those called out of Israel, first those chosen for the church Jesus began as well as those of the Body of Christ were and are chosen by Him. That is the same, in that it is God Who does the choosing, but how He did it was different before the new administration enters its spiritual state. We are in the Grace dispensation…no other time is exactly like our dispensation or our calling.
To Israel, He revealed Himself in various ways and or angels were used to speak to humans. Once the new administration entered the spiritual realm no such visible means were given to impart faith….that is why Paul stresses the spirit baptism, the indwelling, the sealing, anointing and the earnest of the spirit are given to those chosen for the Body of Christ. Christ’s faith given because the visible signs given in the past dispensations and administrations to impart a persons faith would cease. So we must keep in mind that the home law given for each differing dispensation did and will have their own unique details and we must keep them separate!
Also Paul later tells those called into the Body of Christ that they were chosen before the foundation or disruption of the world. Ephesians 1:3. Again, grace was in place before the law, actually even before sin entered this world. Bob Evely just sent his study on whether the word in this passage should read foundation or disruption…with his permission I will add his study to the supplement section.
1 Peter 1:20 says “Christ as of a flawless and unspotted lamb, foreknown, indeed before the disruption of the world, yet manifested in the last times…” While John says, “the lamb was slain from the disruption of the world.” at Revelation 13:8. Paul showing Grace and the provision for humanity’s release from death were laid in place before Adam was created and before he had ever sinned.
This was also symbolized by Jehovah covering Adam’s loins with an animal skin before evicting them from the Garden of Eden. Innocent blood shed, to provide the covering for the descendants of Adam….all humanity covered by innocent blood…picturing the blood of Christ. Peter agrees and John adds the second dimension taking the provision of God as foreknown before sin or the disruption to from the disruption.
I would like to now return to the two illustrations Jehovah used in showing Abram how extensive his seed would become, as unnumbered as the dust and the stars. The dust description in Chapter 13:15,16 and it says the LORD said unto Abram and so a physical meeting. Later, we find the stars description in Genesis 15:1-5. Now this is said to be a vision…as it says “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision.”
Now I have to ask why the use of these two words which differ, dust and stars as there is nothing in common with these two things other than they are used to describe the innumerable seed which are linked to Abram. Knoch’s notes on Genesis 15,5 show that he felt there was a difference with the stars from the dust as he says “the stars of heaven symbolize the spiritual seed of those who also believe God, having faith.”
An objection was raised in our study group to Knoch’s analogy that the stars represented Abram’s spiritual seed, implying the Body of Christ whose calling is to the heavens would be the spiritual seed….I think again we must dismiss the analogy of Paul being the apostle to the Gentiles…instead of how the scriptures state his commission which is to the sons of Israel and the nations even kings and that Paul discipled many sons of Israel…Jew and non Jew…God called a remnant of Jews and those of Israelite heritage as the first members of the new administraiton and we read of an occasion true gentile so the Body of Christ first comes out of Israel….and in that way the promises to the fathers given by Jehovah are inherited by the remnant of Israelites placed into the new administration… spiritually.
I want to discuss this a bit more. As I do believe everything said in Gods Word has a meaning, similarities and or differences would need to be first understood literally and then spiritual applications may also be found. To take these statements literal is to only see that Abraham would have an innumerable seed or an uncountable amount of physical descendants. We need to ask, is that all it means, if so why did Paul state that those having faith and yet were not physical or fleshly descendants of Abraham could or would still count him as their father….in faith?
Things said or words used were not chosen at random by Holy Spirit and so I feel we must take a hard look at all the words and circumstances. The first reference to Abrams descendants, his seed being as innumerable as the dust was in Genesis 13:14- 16. It does not say this was a vision but it tells us Jehovah spoke to Abram and showed him the land which he was told was to belong to his descendants. This seems to me to be a physical meaning for the flesh, of Abram and his physical descendants.
No denying a physical presence of Jehovah. Also as we learned, nothing was said at that time, of being imputed righteousness Compare this again to Genesis 15:1-5 the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision” and the description or illustration of his seed in this event was different from the dust. Instead of looking downward to the earth, he was told to look up towards the heavens and try and count the stars. A vision might be said to be a spiritual experience, nothing tangible or physical to prove to oneself it was actually true or from God? So we have things which differ….dust and stars….why if not to represent or teach of something different.
Also another difference between these two accounts, it is after the latter one that we are told Jehovah’s word came to him in a vision concerning his seed in relation “to the stars in the heavens” this is when it is said that “Abram believed in the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness.”
And as Nehemiah 9:7.8 so nicely tells us, about Abram, Jehovah could read his heart and counted him worthy and made a covenant with him. It seems to me that Abram was leaving the physical realm of faith and perhaps entering the spiritual realm as much as a human is able? Abram believed the word in a vision.
Again, I can only say, these incidents are not just random…they each have meaning and so we have to ask was Knoch correct with his understanding of what this verse meant. I also looked to see what Bullinger had to say on this subject and he has a slightly different explanation. “the stars…the heavenly calling in Israel and put forth in (Hebrews 3:1 and 11:9-16)” The debate over this is this referring to those called out of Israel into the new administration with its heaving calling or is it referring to the bride which will live in the new Jerusalem, the city which comes out of heaven to the earth? We are not discussing the letter to the Hebrews in this article so I will just leave those questions for the reader to think on.
But, before we object to Bullinger’s explanation, the heavenly calling in Israel, because our minds are so conditioned that Israel’s calling is always earthly….lets think on this in relation to what we have learned in this study. We have learned that the Apostle chosen by God for the Body of Christ was a Jewish Pharisee, Saul of the tribe of Benjamin and that the first members of the Body of Christ were a few Jews and those called out of the nations in which lived the scattered sons of Israel. Right! Now, then, are not some of Israel being called to heaven?
Yes! Are not those called into the new administration a spiritual entity and given a measure of Faith and as Paul said are of the faith of Jesus Christ, and thereby given His Righteousness, and so are justified and that is how and why we are declared righteous? Are we not a spiritual entity with many spiritual blessings given to us in Grace? Abram was declared righteous before circumcision and Law…the Body of Christ is declared righteous after circumcision and Law.
Many will object because Bullinger refers to the letter to the Hebrews and most feel this letter is not for us today. Bullinger felt Paul wrote that letter and Knoch did not as do most who rightly divide Israel’s information from the Body of Christ. While this may be true, that the letter to the Hebrews is not for us today…we might need to think on that letter more now that we are aware of how much Paul discussed the Old Testament with his disciples because it seems that a large portion of them were of Israelite heritage either as a Jew like he was or as the sons of Israel called out of the nations, in other words these who were of the Hebrew nationality.
A remnant was called out of Israel to begin the new administration…whose calling is to the heavens and thus a heavenly calling! It is possible that Paul was also pointing out to those sons of Israel considered as gentiles by the Judaisers and perhaps even God…nevertheless they were Hebrews, Israelite from one of the 12 tribes. God had chosen this remnant from the new administration outside of Judaism and thus Judaism was not the only way to approach God and find salvation. Remember also Saul was met outside the land of Judea by Christ!
It is obvious by the opposition Paul received the elders or the remaining apostles were not doing a good job of explaining Christ’s work on the cross to the Judaiser who did not want to let go of the prestige of the Mosaic Law and circumcision…which in actuality to continue in bondage to the Mosaic Law nullified Christ’s sacrifice on the cross which fulfilled that burden for them. Who but Paul clearly and completely understood that truth and who but Paul understood both evangels and what Christ had done for Israel?
Bullinger pointed to Hebrews 3:1 which speaks of “partners of a celestial calling.” I have my questions about the word partners implying equals perhaps as I also have not been satisfied that this reference is to be viewed as the same as the term, “kingdom of heaven” which we know means the kingdom comes from heaven to the earth and is for Israel on this earth. But the letter to the Hebrews and who its author might be and some of the things said in that letter is another far too lengthy study to get into here and now. I am working on an article which discusses all these issues and would just suggest that we need to keep our minds open…there may be more to Hebrews than we understand now.
In getting back to Abram, it was Abram’s belief which earned him righteousness, we do not read of him being given it before he was given a vision of the stars and told how numerous would be his seed, “And he believed in the LORD and He counted it to him for righteousness.” Which was followed by being given the unconditional covenant…which only Jehovah was bound by it to see that it was kept.
The differences with us and Abram is that Paul teaches his disciples that the faith they have is given to them as they are of the faith of Jesus Christ and that includes being given His righteousness. Is not then, our process for faith different? We have been given no outward physical signs, visions or personal encounters talking directly with Jehovah as Abram had. We are given an inward witness as Gods temple, and thus are helped to spiritually understand Gods Word. Romans 8:9-14, 23-27
Also in relation to the stars, does not Paul tell us our home is inherent, (which means has existed all along” in the heavens? Philippians 3:20.
Paul also later explains in Ephesians 1:1-3 that the Body of Christ was chosen amongst the celestials and before the disruption of the world. I see no problem with what either Knoch or Bullinger have said concerning what was said to Abram about his seed. Stars are in the heavens and dust is on the earth…Israel’s kingdom will be on this earth and the new administration will rule in the heavens. I will add that if I remember right, Bullinger felt some of Israel would be raptured with the Body in the end times. While I feel that is not correct as the Body will most likely be removed from this world hundreds of years before those end times…..but to be accurate in relation to what conclusions we have come to in this study…we must remember that some of Israel are called to heaven!
As those called out of Israel, a remnant and placed in the Body of Christ, as joint heirs with all other nationalities making up the new administration of Grace will be snatched away to meet the Lord in the air….where all along its home has existed. As Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:20 and Philippians 3:20.
The timing of the snatching away was put forth differently by these two men and by others. But that is not what we are discussing now; it will be looked at the last of this study. We are now looking at the differences with the words and why Holy Spirit used them, stars and dust. Was the figure of speech or analogy of the stars used in reference to those who would be Abrams seed by faith…and that faith giving them righteousness? While the comparison to the dust in reference to those of his seed by flesh?
Does not Paul make those distinctions? He points to the Body of Christ which has many Gentiles in it as being able to claim Abraham as their father…by reason of faith and by being declared righteous? This would be seed in spirit, and not flesh for those of us who are gentiles. While not only is Israel related to Abraham by flesh…all of Ishmaels descendant are also as well as all descendants of his other 8 children! Would not they be included in the analogy given by God as the dust being innumerable? So with all this said, I have no problem with stars as representative of the spiritual seed and dust as of the physical or fleshly seed?
We also might add here, another question, since we are talking about Abraham, which was, what gospel was Paul referring to when he said at Galatians 3:8 “Now the scripture, perceiving before that God is justifying the nations by faith, brings before an evangel to Abraham, that in you shall all the nations be blessed.”? The gospel referred to would then be, of justification outside the Law of Moses. Abraham was justified for believing Jehovah, but there is a slight difference, those in the Body of Christ believe, because they are justified and given the faith of Jesus Christ…..none of us have personal conversations with Jehovah as Abraham or Paul did.
We commune by means of the His Spirit placed within us. Our human spirit communes with Him in this way and Paul has even told us the spirit within us communes for us with God by, inarticulate groanings Romans 8:26.
Knoch has an interesting chart of what he felt were 12 dispensations arranged by God, perhaps it may give us some perspective…? According to his chart…Abram was called during the second dispensation, which he calls the dispensation of Conscience….also under which the earth was cursed following Adams transgression and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Knoch has the first dispensation as Creation or Innocence. I have added in some of my thoughts in parenthesis.
Creation….The Paradise earth with Adam and Eve…(The time of Innocence.)
Conscience….The earth was cursed…..time of Abrams call by Jehovah (and perhaps where Romans 1:18,19 applies to those who are judged by their conscience, God given I might add as humans are able to view the Creation…and thus to deny there is a Creator of it...is stupidity or outright rebellion.)
Government…Authority…(this must mean nations began to form with their own rulers.)
Promise…Promises (given to Abram and later reaffirmed with name changed to Abraham)
Law…..Law (Covenant enacted…Mount Sinai…nation of Israel formed.)
Incarnation….Grace and Truth…(The time of Jesus ministry)
Pentecost….Spirit (The dispensation of Holy Spirit)
Readjustment….justification and conciliation….(Paul’s ministry from Acts 13:39)
Secret….Grace, (It seems then, Knoch has Grace in force once the secret is revealed?)
Judgment….time of indignation (Or Gods wrath poured out on the nations who will be persecuting Israel and the antichrist.)
Kingdom…Justice…(this could cover, Israel restored, Christ’s millennial kingdom and the Day of God?)
Complement….Conciliation. (I don’t get why the complement? This last one would be in the day of God…the last eon….followed by the Consummation, God All in all, which some wonder if it is to also be an eon. Was not the complement in with the Secret…the Body of Christ? Perhaps he meant the completed Plan of God? But that would be the consummation when all are reconciled?)
Knoch’s Chart like all charts is only a relative guide for us to use anyway. Also, as I have said before, I have wondered for some time if there are to be 7 eons instead of 5…and it keeps nagging at me to take some time and study through this. In Knoch’s first book, The Mystery of the Gospel there are several chapters on the word eon beginning with the Eonian Times on Page 215. It is quite a good study of all the times that word is used in scriptures.
This book can be purchased though the Concordant Concern, or go to www.concordant.org I thought I would use his information and take a more in depth look at the eons related to some of the thoughts which are different from what Knoch based his study upon and see how they compare in relation to 5 or 7…. I will most likely add that research to Manual Two.
One other thought here…Knoch’s chart is based on two other assumptions he held to and thus would have bearing on not only this chart but his teaching in other areas. (1) He felt that Israel was made lo ammi, by being thrust away or cast away again, after Acts 28 and (2) He held to the standard evangelical view that Daniel 9:24-27 had been partially or was two thirds fulfilled leaving only the one seven, of seven years left to occur in the future. If his assumptions are wrong and ours current thinking is correct, then what is missing in Knoch’s Chart would be the time period in which, Israel is restored as a kingdom and nation again after this dispensation of grace is over with the snatching away of the Body of Christ.
If Daniels prophecy is still waiting fulfillment and thus has not yet even begun then that time period for Israel’s restoration may take up the whole of the seventy weeks….which are 490 years. So in Knoch’s chart he placed after #9 the secret administration which is the Body of Christ and the Grace dispensation, followed by #10 being the time of Judgment.
With then, #11 as the kingdom, meaning Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. The view of there only being the last seven years of Daniels prophecy left which is the time or dispensation of judgment or indignation to be poured out on the world who are opposing Israel may not be correct if indeed instead of seven years there is to be the full 490 years yet ahead for Israel and her times of restoration as a kingdom and nation again.
With that view, the time changes dramatically and would need to be added into the chart by another name unless, it is just a continuation of the dispensation of Law which is entirely possible since we who are called into Paul’s evangel and thus are the Grace dispensation or as Knoch labeled it, the secret administration…. are explained to be a pause or gap in time between Israel’s past and her future. Israel will be restored as a kingdom before Christ returns. I don’t think Knoch really saw that…so these are some of the things we need to be thinking about.
Let’s get back to our discussion concerning Abraham. What is said in Genesis and by Paul is that Jehovah spoke to Abram and he believed Him and that was evident in that Abram attempted to follow Jehovah’s directions. We know many times he got sidetracked, and got himself into dilemmas in which Jehovah would have to intervene and or rescue him and get him back on the path to where Jehovah was leading him. We also know that his faith in the promise of a son was not strong or else Hagar would have never been in the picture. His faith was relative and not absolute.
For me, even though Abram was called in grace and justified outside the law, the means used by Jehovah for him and for the Body of Christ differ, the faith we are given is absolute because it does not depend upon our human reasoning or our soulish nature, it is not our faith, it is Jesus Christ’s faith given to us. Things which differ
The descendants of Abraham, through the promised son, Isaac were used by Jehovah to form the race of Hebrews which later became the nation of Israel and who were then called Israelites. After 400 years of living in Egypt, Jehovah brought them out and gave them the Law Covenant which actually formed a religion…the worship of Jehovah through Law keeping.
This is the only God ordained religion. In that era, those people lived in a world of signs and miracles from Jehovah as well as the followers in the spirit realm of Satan also manifested themselves in many ways leading the world into the false worship of themselves as gods. Jehovah inspired faith in Abram and his descendants through physical manifestations and blessings and later with the Law Covenant also by means of the curses for disobedience. There was a contest going on in the world, so to speak between Satan and his gods and Jehovah, on Who was the True God, Who had the Almighty power.
That is what we learn when we read the account of Moses and his assignment to bring Israel out of Egypt and we see the demonstrations given by Jehovah with the 10 plagues, one by one, each was against one of Egypt’s false gods. Showing, those in Egypt as well as the Israelites that Jehovah was more powerful than their false gods and this is because He is the Creator of all.
The new administration as we have learned was begun during the dispensation of Holy Spirit and thus had to be taken out of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm in which the signs and miracles along with the gifts or spiritual endowments would come to an end but what would remain were the spiritual blessings revealed in Paul’s evangel which are a result of the indwelling spirit and the faith that is given to each member enabling them to believe God without signs and miracles.
These are also the many spiritual blessings Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1. This is why Paul explained earlier in 2 Corinthians 3:9, that they had received a new covenant and were dispensers of it. A spiritual covenant written on their hearts and they were given Jesus Christ’s faith and His righteousness was imputed to them.
Again I see a difference here, Abraham believed and that was accounted to him as righteousness because he believed! We are given Christ’s righteousness, we do not believe and then receive it…we are given it and then believe! We believe because we are indwelt even though we have no visible signs or demonstration that God exists! Okay….that was quite a lengthy side trip…but I did want to settle this issue in my own mind, and hopefully for those who are reading this…..so let’s get back into Romans.
Paul continues with the topic of justification in Romans 4:4,5 ”Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believed on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Those of Israelite heritage…worked to earn Gods favor by following the Law Covenant with it rituals and decrees. Paul took them back in time before the Law Covenant, reminding them of how Abraham received Gods favor by believing in the LORD. Remember this was before the scriptures were recorded, if history is correct and it was Moses who compiled the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.
So Abram had no scriptures to read, but he had something you and I do not have, visions and angels which appeared to him and also the physical and visible presence of Jehovah God giving him promises and specific instructions and bringing about rescues when he or his family were in trouble. It is said Jehovah spoke directly to him 7 times, which are said to be theophanies.
In Manual Two we will go into depth with the lives of the men God chose besides Abraham. He used these men to form the nation of Israel, after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose name was changed to Israel and then how his 12 sons forming the 12 tribes of Israel which Moses led out of Egypt, it is a very interesting study and we should not neglect it just because we are not of Israelite heritage. God is not finished with them or their purpose in His plan of the ages and in fact this study is certainly showing us how important they were as those called out of Israel are the foundation of our own administration.
In Romans 4:6-8 Paul next refers to David who spoke these words, “Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’ ” Verses 7,8 are quoted from Psalms 32:1,2.
It would seem these words were a prophecy of a time, when grace would again come on the scene? It seems to me that Paul is showing them that his evangel of Grace is not far fetched…grace is spoken of by the Hebrew Scriptures. As David was of Israel and writing concerning Israel about something in the future which I believe may be indirectly referring to the work God would later perform amongst the nations while Israel was divorced and lo ammi.
It seems to me, that Israel needed to be lo ammi, as the wife divorced, before God could call out of Israel a bride, the Bride of the lambkin for the kingdom on earth time period and then later to also be calling out of those, sons of Israel those who began the forming of a new administration, in Grace, the Body of Christ. How could Israel’s administration of Law be still operating? We must not confuse the religion of the Jews as meaning they were a restored nation. Two tribes a nation does not make, it needs the 12 tribes reunited.
The differences with these two callings, the bride and the new administration, the first is said to be done in mercy in response to repentance and the second one done for them in unmerited grace. Proof was given, to both fledging churches, which were the signs through Holy Spirit, which the Jew required signs and then those who accept the signs mercy was given, when they repented and were baptized as a sign of that repentance. Paul’s evangel took them to another level….the spiritual…..looking towards the celestials.
So again to review, the differences, Mercy was given for repentance…while Grace is given without the recipient’s knowledge or without asking for it. Saul is the example, and which is what Paul’s evangel, of Grace is saying to those chosen and placed in the Body of Christ by God.
Paul next explains the fulfillment of David’s words, Verses 9-12 “is this only for the circumcised and not for the uncircumcision? Not so, as Abraham was reckoned righteous although in uncircumcision, Abraham the father of all…..them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:”
Paul has taken then back in time, to before there was a nation of Israel, before circumcision and before the Law Covenant was given. To the time when Jehovah called a pagan out of idolatry to take a trip in order to begin forming the foundation of what would become the nation of Israel which would not come about for another four hundred years. Abram was graced by being chosen by Jehovah, nurtured, guided, and protected on his journey to becoming the father of many nations.
We must always keep in mind the climate…or the circumstances surrounding the reasons for Paul’s counsel. Romans is a continuation of the arguments he presented in Galatians which were needed because….the Judaisers were seeking to pull his disciples away from or out of grace and into the bondage of the Mosaic Law and circumcision. Telling them they were not truly being saved in Paul’s evangel!
Something else which I find interesting is at Romans 4:17,18 and which is how the King James translated ethnos in these two verses as nations versus how they usually translated this word in most other places as Gentiles. This is just another example of how the KJ translators picked and chose what words to use based on which words fit their thinking or theology.
Because in this case, had they been consistent and used gentiles instead of nations, it would have read, Abraham the father of many Gentiles and that would not sound right so they instead used nations….which as I said earlier, Bullinger points out and thus agreeing with Knoch that ethnos, means those of the nations……while Goyim, which is a Hebrew and was used of the Gentiles or heathen by the Hebrews.
Some may argue, and say, but the New Testament was written in Greek….but was it at first? There is much evidence that the gospels were first written in Hebrew and then later copied into Aramaic and Greek. Those writers were Hebrew and of the nation of Israel and knew full well the technicalities of the words or terms, such as, ethnos, Goyim, sons of Israel, Jews and etc.
It is us, Gentiles who did the translating and who need to try to appreciate the complexity of those times and of whom so many of these things were being written too. I feel it is safe to say and it should help us to understand, that those writers and apostles, were the sons of Israel and they were writing to their own brethren…..even Paul. We, Gentiles were added into the equation of the new administration but were not the primary subject matter.
This chapter ends with these words at Romans 4:23-25 “Now it was not written because of him only, that it is reckoned to him, but because of us also, to whom it is about to be reckoned, who are believing on Him Who rouses Jesus our Lord from among the dead, Who was given up because of our offenses, and was roused because of our justifying.”
Remember an offense is willful sin; those of Israel willfully sinned against their God Jehovah and broke the covenant with Him. I find this an interesting comment which I have underlined…to whom it is about to be reckoned…..about to be reckoned…implies perhaps they did not have it fully as of yet? If it is true that the Grace dispensation did not fully take office until the Acts era ends or the dispensation of Holy Spirit is over…then that explains the judgments in Corinthians for those partaking of the lords Supper unworthily.
In Romans 5 we learn more on conciliation and it is good to remember it is in 2 Corinthians 5:18,19 that Paul first spoke of the conciliation of the world and in Romans again, it is talked about in Chapter 5. More is also explained on being given justification, and he speaks of, my evangel, and God’s righteousness being demonstrated in His grace to them….as none are deserving, and none can earn it. He teaches that those called into the Body of Christ are given Jesus Christ’s faith…our own being insufficient for righteousness or for our salvation.
Romans 5:1,2 “Being justified by faith, we may be having peace toward God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have the access also, by faith, into this grace in which we stand and we may be glorying in expectation for the glory of God.”
Verses 11,12 “For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life. Yet not only so, but we are glorying also in God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we now obtained the conciliation.” We are conciliated through Christ and Paul elaborates more at Verse 18 “Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.”
Read this book of Romans through now with the understanding of when it was written, around Acts 19 and 20 and understanding Paul went to the Jew first in his travels amongst the nations and which would include the Hellenized Jew and would also include the Greeks and philosophers, who were idolaters and also the true Gentiles or Barbarians in every country he visited. There would also be those of Israelite heritage as well as some Jews living in dispersion which were discipled by Paul into the Body of Christ and they had to come to understand; all mankind was acceptable to God because of what Christ did on the cross. If accepted by God, then those Jews better also accept them!
Understanding, the Judaiser would have considered those sons of Israel of the 10 tribes which had deflected into idolatry centuries earlier and were not practicing Judaism to be gentiles! Jews were those practicing Judaism. Getting these terms and peoples straight in our minds is important….but all make up, the nations.
Romans 5:5 “Now expectation is not mortifying, seeing that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is being given to us.” Verse 6 “For Christ, while we are still infirm, still in accord with the era, for the sake of the irreverent, died.” I think there are some interesting things to consider with these passages. First in Verse 5 again he is speaking of what is placed in their hearts….Gods Love. Knoch says in his notes….God first loved those He chooses which then enables the chosen to be able to return that love!
In Verse 6….notice Paul says…we….since he is still speaking to those of Israelite heritage who were still infirm…and so could infirm be tied to the lo ammi state of Israel? He says, .in accord with the era, I wondered what era? The King James says, in due time and in Bullinger’s notes in The Companion Bible, he shows, “due time = season” and refers to Galatians 4:4 which says “Now when the full time came, God delegates His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that He should be reclaiming those under law, that we maybe getting the place of a son.” In accord with, “the era, full time, due time and or season.” Again, also note, the phrase, reclaiming those under law, speaking of those of Israelite heritage who had been under the law, reclaiming…because the nation was lo ammi…..cast away…or divorced.
All of these things pertaining to Israel’s messiah coming and being sacrificed must take place with the lo ammi Israelite people before God could then turn to those of the other nations, referred to as Gentiles by Israel. God could not call out a People for Himself from the other nations if Israel were still His People, that would make God unfaithful.
The next comment made by Paul, to consider is “For the sake of the irreverent…who were the irreverent? I suspect it is those of Israel who rejected or did not revere the True God! As again who was it that the True God revealed Himself too and made His very own Special People and Wife? Through Moses and the law covenant, it was the nation of Israel and not any other nation and so they were the enlightened People…of whom a vast majority rejected Jehovah, thus dishonoring Him thus the irreverent?
Understanding human nature…can we not see that those who felt they had returned to or who had remained in Judaism, and were adhering to the Law of Moses were being faithful while those of the 10 tribes which had left Jerusalem, and living in pagan nations practicing idolatry had not been faithful to Jehovah and so how could they claim to have been justified outside of the Law of Moses?
This makes me think of the parable Jesus gave…of those who worked all day for a certain pre-determined payment, and then some workers are said to come in at the last hour and when it was time for all to be paid, those later workers received the same pay as those who had worked all day and so they who had worked all day were not happy about it? Matthew 20:1-16
Perhaps, Jesus was speaking of how those Judaisers would react and be upset at Paul’s evangel of grace, with its message of justification outside the Law of Moses? Paul had said the new administration would provoke Israel to jealousy. Paul’s assignment was to go to the nations with his evangel and those of the nations were also classified as the uncircumcision. Keep in mind what we have discussed in this study, the uncircumcision did not mean solely to the true Gentile, but would also fit those of Israel, the 10 tribes scattered in the nations for the past 400 plus years, and who were not practicing Judaism thus were not being circumcised.
Paul was sent to those nations, and discipled many fellow Israelites from those 10 tribes which had turned their backs on Jehovah, having adopted the pagan religions of the lands they lived in and for centuries had been living in idolatry. God graced them just as He graced Paul, selecting them to be a remnant out of Israel to begin a new administration…of Grace, separated from the nation of Israel and her kingdom calling on this earth…..and whose destiny is the celestial kingdom…with their God, Jehovah!
While those practicing Judaism had been persecuted and fought for their temple and their city of Jerusalem down through the centuries. Thus they had slaved, (all day) under the Law and now these wayward Israelites became disciples of Paul, coming in at the (last hour) and professing grace and justification which those Judaisers were teaching could not be received until Christ returned, thus they must still follow the Mosaic Law. They continued to work and were offered mercy through a pardon which justified them as long as they worked…and so they could not understand Paul’s evangel, justification without works and obviously hated it and him and thus were teaching Paul was not a true apostle?
In Romans 5:12-14 Paul explains how sin came into the world…through Adam and thus Adams descendants all inherited the death sentence and because all mankind is dying, thus all sin. Death reigns from Adam and that Adam is a type of Him Who is about to be. Adam was said to be a son of God, because he was a direct creation. Jesus Christ entered humanity through a generation process in the womb of Mary, a sinless Son of God. So Paul continues to explain how death comes through Adam but life through the one just award of the One Man Jesus Christ in Verses 15-17. Thus Paul states that grace superabounds. Death no longer reigns over humanity, its hold was broken by the blood of Christ. And so Paul is telling them it is grace which reigns.
Paul continues elaborating on this theme in Verses 18,19 “Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind, for life’s justifying. For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.”
This passage confuses some….when we are explaining the salvation and reconciliation of all being the ultimate outcome of the ages. Because of using, the word many instead of the word all which is found in many other proof texts we refer to the salvation and reconciliation of all. The context of this passage includes Jesus Christ as the One Man, not constituted a sinner…so it is the many (all of humanity minus the perfect One Man Jesus who was not constituted a sinner) So to get the all we add the One Man, (the one perfect man Jesus Christ)….to all of humanity which have sinned….the many and the One equals the all.
So in other words in all the other passages of scripture which speak of the salvation of all mankind they are referring to all mankind descended from Adam as their father and as such had inherited sin and death from him. Adam was not the father of Jesus and as such He did not inherit sin and death…and yet He was human, thus called the son of Mankind.
Salvation is not offered as taught to those who can choose to accept or reject it, but salvation will be accomplished as it is truly taught in scripture, correctly translated and rightly divided as the free gift. All of humanity was bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. In this one passage, Jesus Christ is the perfect, sinless man in the context thus the use of the word many! The many plus the One equals the all. For a good study, look up all scriptures containing the word all in the Keyword Concordance the passages which use all is found under the word every.
So, it was Paul who tells us that all of the dead are to be justified….which implies all mankind and not just believers. The Body of Christ, are made believers by God and are the firstfruit…called out of all mankind from all the nations, graced and with that grace freely given, came the guarantee of a complete harvest of the rest of humanity for God in the future, at the time of the great harvest from the world and the dead. John tells us, that the rest of the dead are to be resurrected, Revelation 20:5,6 and Daniel 12:2, says both the just and the unjust will wake up, be raised out of the sleep of death, with the purpose also for their eventual justification. Another whole discussion could be done on the use and meanings of the words in scripture of the Sin, sins, transgressions, trespasses, and offenses.
Briefly, we first have the sin inherited by all mankind from our biological father Adam….that Sin brought death to Adam and the death as a result of that Sin was passed on to all of his descendants. That death or the dying state fostered more sin, the individual sins of each member of a race of imperfect, dying, humanity. We sin because we are dying, Romans 5:12,13. We sin, or fall short because we are mortal. While an offense is willfully doing what is known to be wrong. A transgression is to break a law…Paul teaches all of these things are covered by the grace given to the Body of Christ
Continuing in Chapter 5 and Verses 20,21 Paul then turns back to the reason for the Law being given by Jehovah. It was not given in order to save humanity but in order to demonstrate the consequences of sin. Without law, one could profess ignorance…the law illuminates that which is unrighteous…that which does not demonstrate love for others or for God. Remember Jesus said the Law could be summed up in those two elements of love….which humanity in their dying sinful state constantly fall short of and of being able to demonstrate completely. Paul has told them they have been acquitted of all sin and offenses!
In Chapter 6:1-3 Paul begins, then with “What, then, shall we declare? That we may be persisting in sin that grace should be increasing? May it not be coming to that! We, who died to sin, how shall we still be living in it? Or are you ignorant that whosoever are baptized into Christ Jesus, are baptized into His death?
It seems that Paul must have heard the same argument you and I have heard, “well then, if all are being saved…then it’s alright to sin and live our life however we please! Not so, and if one has the indwelling spirit of God they will find themselves not even considering that type of life. God’s spirit within us works with our conscience and reveals our wrong acts or conduct and we feel remorse and yet thankfulness knowing we are not being held accountable because of His Grace.
In Verses 4-7 Paul now is taking them into something very deep…we are baptized into His death…and he continues to explain what this means. “We then, were entombed together with Him through baptism into death, that, even as Christ was roused from among the dead through the glory of the Father, thus we also should be walking in newness of life. For if we have become planted together in the likeness of His death, nevertheless we shall be of the resurrections also, knowing this, that our old humanity was crucified together with Him, that the body of Sin may be nullified, for us to by no means be still slaving for Sin, for one who dies has been justified from Sin.” Notice in this passage the capital on Sin and in the Concordant Version notice also the small dot in front of it…which means, the Sin. A particular, specific sin, the Sin inherited from Adam which gives death.
We are no longer in bondage to that Sin which brings death. In Christ we are given life. The King James has old nature in this passage and the teaching in Christendom has been man’s nature is evil…and that the saint is given a new nature. Not so, the old dying humanity, tied to Adam was crucified and in resurrection Christ’s brings us into the new humanity, free from the Sin which brings forth only death. Paul teaches us that the God given nature is good, it is going outside of or beside nature which results in sin and or evil. Romans 1:26. A good rule is that which does not fall within the Law of love…as Jesus said, the whole Law is summed up in loving your neighbor as yourself and loving God which means loving what He has deemed as right and wrong…..those are the things which usually fit…outside nature.
Paul continues to inspire them with his words in Romans 6:8-14 “Now if we died together with Christ, we believe that we shall be living together with Him also, having perceived that Christ, being roused from among the dead, is no longer dying. Death is lording it over Him no longer, for in that He died, He died to Sin once for all time, yet in that He is living, He is living to God. Thus you also, be reckoning yourselves to be dead, indeed, to Sin, yet living to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts. Nor yet be presenting your members, as implements of injustice, to Sin, but present yourselves to God as if alive from among the dead and your members as implements of righteousness to God. For Sin shall not be lording it over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”
So “the Sin” we are no longer bound by is that which condemns us to death, we are still sinners, falling short every day, but Paul wants us to appreciate what Christ accomplished on the cross not just for us who now believe, but for all mankind…and live a life that shows our appreciation.
In Verses 15-18 Paul again asks them “What then? Should we be sinning, seeing that we are not under law, but under grace? May it not be coming to that! Are you not aware that to whom you are presenting yourself as slaves for obedience, his slaves you are, whom you are obeying, whether of Sin for death, or of obedience for righteousness? Now thanks be to God that you were slaves of Sin, yet you obey from the heart the type of teaching to which you were given over. Now, being freed from Sin, you are enslaved to Righteousness.” You obey from the heart….remember Paul told them God had written on their hearts…!
This chapter is summed up in the last Verse 23 “For the ration of Sin is death, yet the gracious gift of God is life eonian, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Again, note the capital, Sin, Paul is still talking of The Sin which all humanity inherited…bringing death to all humanity. How many times have we heard this quoted and instead as, the wages of sin bring death…yet believing in Jesus Christ gives eternal life? Teaching it is our every day sins which bring death….just another way for religion to browbeat the sinner into submission, so far from what Paul has revealed!
Romans 7:1 begins again showing us that the main audience for Paul’s words were those of Israelite heritage. “Or are you ignorant, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know law), that the law is lording it over a man for as much time as he is living?” Verse 4 “So that, my brethren, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, Who is roused from among the dead, that we should be bearing fruit to God.”
I would put forth that fruit is Grace which is graciously given to us and thus we are to be gracious to each other! Verse 6 “Yet now we were exempted from the law, dying in that in which we were retained, so that it is for us to be slaving in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter.” The letter of the law condemned and at the same time it also inspired self righteousness by those which used the Law to browbeat one another with…that’s religion!
Paul continues to speak of Sin…and that even though we are justified in Christ…our flesh is still dying and we will still sin but death no longer reigns over us as said earlier it is grace which reigns over us and so we have the guarantee in Christ’s rousing that we too shall be roused. This chapter closes with these words Verses 24,25 “A wretched man am I! What will rescue me out of this body of death? Grace! I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Consequently, then, I myself, with the mind, indeed, am slaving for God’s Law, yet with the flesh for Sin’s Law.”
Keep in mind Paul is referring to the Sin, which is death to the flesh…the body decays and dies because of the Sin, of Adam. But Paul’s discourse does not end with that appeal just because the chapter may end here, his discourse continues right on in the next, mad made chapter I might add….and boldly Paul next states, at Romans 8:1 “Nothing consequently is now condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.”
Why and how is this so? He explains in Verses 2-4 “Not according to flesh are they walking, but according to spirit, for the spirits law of life in Christ Jesus frees you from the law of sin and death. For what was impossible to the law, in which it was infirm through the flesh, did God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sins flesh and concerning sin, He condemns sin in the flesh, that the just requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who are not walking in accord with flesh, but in accord with spirit.” Wow, is not that a mouthful! Note the underlined statement, the just requirement of the law fulfilled in us? Yes, because Christ’s righteousness and faith are given to us and not because of or if we live a sin free life…..we cannot…!
I keep looking in the circumcision letters for clues on whether they were justified as we are. I just finished reading 1 John and so would like to share some thoughts. When we speak of those of Israel, who were called into the church begun by Jesus and later headed up by Peter, and of how their unfaithfulness could cause them to lose their place in the millennial kingdom, I think it is important to bring out, that their unfaithfulness, has to do with their rejecting Jesus as their messiah and Lord and not of the personal sins they may commit. Counsel was given them for their failures as humans, which was to confess their sins and they were told “He is faithful to forgive them” 1 John 1:9 and 2:1,2 ,13 especially needs to be read.
This counsel given by one of the apostles for the Jewish church has been used by Christendom for those in the Body of Christ in error. I encourage the reader to read this short letter of 1st John and notice how John keeps telling them that if they remain in Him they are not sinning. John does not say in Christ as Paul and Peter said, but in Him…over and over and that they were begotten of God and thus children of God. To remain in Him and thus they would not be sinning is in the relative sense and its meaning is, if they do not deny Jesus Christ as their messiah.
If those of Israel do deny Him it would be, to not remain in Him and would mean they were not only rejecting Jesus as their messiah and Lord but also were rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit given to and for them, which had not only given them their inspired scriptures which proved Jesus was their messiah but also the signs from God, and by raising Him from the dead and imparting the spiritual gifts during the time of the dispensation of Holy Spirit!
So, for those of Israel, to turn away from what was given them by the Holy Spirit…was not remaining in Him and denied the work of the Holy Spirit and that was the unforgivable sin….thus they lose out on being in the bride of the lambkin in His kingdom.
Again we see the use of different words and terms in what John said, referring to their being the children of God when they remain in Him, being in God….. this differs from what Paul tells the Body, they are in Christ and he also tells them they have received the adoption as sons of God. The Hebrew mentality in that day was that the child was tutored, and once mature, would then becomes the son and the heir…much is implied by the use of those two words children and sons which we need to try and understand. Paul also has made it abundantly clear that those in the Body of Christ cannot lose their calling nor can we remove ourselves from our calling by unfaithfulness. Jesus Christ’s faithfulness covers all.
The things which John says in this letter would show a continual dependence and belief in Jesus Christ as their messiah and Lord is what was required in order to receive their kingdom hope, for them to turn away from Jesus was being unfaithful, causing them to lose out of the kingdom glory. They would not be raised until it is over and with the unjust class. The difference with our evangel is we do not need to confess our sins as we have been acquitted of all sin.
The spirit which indwells us, lets us know that we are sinners saved by grace and when we fail, sin or fall short we are made aware of it by our conscience…the more we take in of God’s Word the better our conscience works. What we need to do is show appreciation for the unmerited grace, which has acquitted us of Sin and all sins, and offenses, the willfully going against what is known to be right and is wrong. We should remember to give thanks for our freedom from condemnation for our failures, and offenses of which we all are guilty of in the flesh, thankful because of the Grace we are given by being placed in Christ and thus in the spiritual realm with Him.
Also keep in mind that the Jewish church based in Jerusalem, founded first by Jesus and added to at Pentecost, and who had not accepted Gentiles into their fold unless they converted to Judaism first. Even after Peters experience in Acts 10 and the elders at Jerusalem acknowledging God was turning to the nations in Acts 11 we continue to read of the Jews pressing the Mosaic Law and circumcision and thus they fell into sectarianism and were keeping themselves separate from gentiles.
James made his decree in Acts 15 for those of the nations to keep free of blood and things sacrificed to idols which it seems was a written creed and carried to all ecclesias even by Paul as said at Acts 16:4. The point being most Jewish believers clung to the law of Moses and circumcision and tried to convince Paul’s disciples to follow along…now do we see why Paul had to give his disciples so much counsel against that and why so many things he says are Jewish in nature but now they will make more sense? We now use our tool to rightly divide Jewish information from that which is for the body of Christ today.
Later when Paul writes the prison epistles, he expands on this even more, and tells them they are under no rituals or decrees…thus even that decree issued by James in Acts 15 holds no control over them. Was the counsel given in that decree good? Yes it was, the point being, they were now obeying faith rather than law or decrees, the spirit within guides the conscience, the grace given prompts a desire to do the right thing. But, as Paul says, Grace super exceeds sin…so we cannot out sin the Grace given to us.
But Paul also warns, the willful sinner will quench Gods Spirit or as the Concordant translates, it “do not extinguish the spirit” A more clear word, meaning to put out…like water on a flame. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 We need that spirit to guide us into all truth so that we can grow to maturity and increase our understanding of His Word. Paul had just previously talked of those awake and or watching and those drowsing in the Lord in Verse 10 confirming all saints in the Body will be together with the Lord, but don’t we want to be amongst those who are watching and not drowsing?
So when Paul writes the prison epistles, he will explain in more depth of how their walk has become spiritual as is their destiny. Colossians 2:8-15 read this through and note, the use of these words, “despoiling you through philosophy and empty seductions…human tradition…the elements of the world…a circumcision not by hands…..He deals graciously with all our offenses, erasing the handwriting of the decrees against us, which was hostile to us …”
In the Concordant Commentary, Knoch says this on these verses. “Legality and philosophy interferes with our possessions in Christ…The decrees issued by the apostles from Jerusalem, (Acts 15:23-29) were a standing symbol of the subjection of the nations to the Circumcision even though they absolved them from observing all the rudimentary rites, especially circumcision. Not only is the believer exempt from the authority of the apostles of the Circumcision, but, in spirit, he is beyond the reach of all human jurisdiction.”
Remember earlier we read that Paul carried those decrees issued by James the brother of the Lord in Acts 15 in his travels to the nations…but in the prison epistles he tells them that even that decree has no hold on them. I think this shows us that for a time…Paul’s disciples were under the authority of the Jerusalem elders perhaps during the time when the Holy Spirit was still operating with signs and gifts and while Paul was following the rule to the Jew first.
Once the Pentecostal dispensation ended….the minor church of the Body of Christ would then answer only to Paul and Christ. This is perhaps why Paul said; fully follow me as I follow Christ. Paul was given direct revelations for his evangel which he was to teach his disciples, they had to follow Paul in order to partake of those revelations, as only he received them and thus only privy to them.
In Romans 8:9-12, Paul continues his discussion of the flesh versus the spirit. And he tells them, “You are not in flesh, but in spirit. If so be that God’s spirit is making its home in you. Now if anyone has not Christ’s spirit, this one is not His. Now if Christ is in you, the body, indeed, is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is life because of righteousness. Now if the spirit of Him, Who rouses Jesus from among the dead is making its home in you, He Who rouses Christ Jesus from among the dead will be vivifying your mortal bodies because of His spirit making its home in you.”
I notice, this passage speaks of Gods spirit and Jesus Christ’s spirit…..and I have read Knoch saying, that we are given the spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ and that our own personal spirit has been vivified. That means we have three spirits? I have wondered about that statement and need to do some more research here…but my initial thoughts are that….Knoch believed God the Father to be a separate person from Jesus Christ who is the Son but before his birth as a human He was Jehovah, the only God Israel knew.
I disagree with him on this view of the Father and the Son being two persons, my studies have given me the understand that we have One God, One Person, The unknowable spirit of John 4:24 is Who we call Father while the form of God is Who manifested Himself as Jehovah to Israel as One God. Jehovah came into the world taking on flesh as Jesus Christ. I believe God is One Person not two; the One God is made up of the invisible spirit and the visible form of God.
Just as you and I have a form, the human body in which dwells our personal spirit which is our identity or essence and there is still room for Gods spirit to also dwell. This does not make us two persons…we are one person. Perhaps what Knoch meant was that we are given the spirit of Jesus Christ as He was a flesh and blood man and also had His own spirit as well as the invisible spirit of His Father.
The invisible Spirit we are told in scripture is unknowable, known only by Jesus Christ. The invisible Spirit generated out of Himself, that which is spirit that which is matter. Thus all of creation came out of Him as the invisible, unknowable Spirit Who could not be seen or heard thus unknowable, so for the purpose of creation; the invisible Spirit generated a visible form of Himself, in order to reveal Himself to His creation. The form of God is Jehovah Who is the One God, and One person. Some interpret this as creating the Son of God and yet I have looked through the Old Testament and do not hear of the Son of God. We do however read many times of the One God…Jehovah! Who emphatically stated over and over, that He alone is God, there is no other. Isaiah 45;5-7,12
I have no problem with the use of the word create. Create, or generate, this is saying the invisible spirit created Himself a form in which to dwell and thus to be known by the following creation. The scriptures seem to use “gennao” which literally is Become as it is used in Matthew 1:20, Luke 1:35, Jesus being generated in the womb of Mary. This was Jehovah becoming literally human. His name of I am…is tied to Ieue…which in the English is Jehovah, which has the meaning of, “I shall become whatsoever I shall become. Also the statement made in Revelation of Him who was and is and is to come…also tied to the meaning of and the use of how it is translated, especially when speaking to Moses, of the I Am.
There are those who focus on the word created or the creative original as proving that the Son of God was created and thus is then inferior to the Father as it is used in Revelation 3:14….so lets take a quick look at that….remembering all scripture must harmonize in order to have a truth. Knoch in the Concordant Literal Version translated this verse as “And to the messenger of the ecclesia in Laodicea write: Now this is saying the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, and Gods creative Original:”
While in the Keyword it says to go to the word creation and shows Rev 3:14 as creative original and then says “thus the beginning of creation” The word create is “kitizo”…defined by Knoch in the Keyword as “to bring into existence from previous material. Man was created out of soil and spirit. All things are created out of God…Romans 11:36”
The Creator creates or to be more exact, generates life out of Himself as the intelligent energy which is the life force of this Universe. Again, understanding that the unknowable God is spirit, not a spirit, and that spirit is all power and intelligence defined in scripture as omnipotent, all power, omnipresent, everywhere at same time, omniscient, all knowing.
That Spirit is not a person as it has no form, cannot be contained or seen or heard, in order to be seen and heard in other words to be known by the creation it plans to bring forth out of itself, first creates, or generates a form in which to be seen and heard. That form is Jehovah, said to be the form of God, the image of God, thus the person of God. Philippians 2:5,6, Colossians 1:15
The word person comes from persona and has the meaning of an actor putting on a mask to assume a role. God assumes many roles to reveal Himself to His Creation. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three roles, not persons.
We are told Jehovah is the Creator in the Old Testament and in Colossians 1:13b-17 Paul tells us Christ is the Creator with these words, “transports us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we are having the deliverance, the pardon of sins, Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or sovereignties or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him and He is before all, and all has it cohesion in Him.”
If Christ is the Creator…did the Son create Himself? Paul said “For in Him is all created” How could a created being create himself? Also Paul says, Verse 19 “for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell and through Him to reconcile all to Him” What or Who is the entire complement? The invisible Spirit of whom we refer to as the Father, delights to dwell in the form of God referred to as Jehovah and then in His earthly advent, as the Son, Jesus Christ.
As all matter, living or inorganic came out of the unknowable Spirit…thus the form of God also came out of the invisible, unknowable Spirit and so does that make the form, Who is the person of God, inferior to the Spirit? Only in the area of the absolute versus the relative.
The invisible all knowing, yet unknowable spirit is the absolute God. The form He created or generated came out of Himself as the unknowable spirit, for the purpose of revealing Himself to His creation. The form then is the relative God because the form relates to the spirit and to creation….but does that give us two Gods, I don’t think so. First the premise is that scripture tells us over and over….there is but One God.
To harmonize, that as the one fact with all else said about God would be to understand that the many titles used by God, are roles He takes on for revealing Himself to His very own creation. It seems to me, we simply must recognize that the Spirit and the form are what comprise the One God, One Personage. Without the form to reveal the spirit we could not know God. Does God want us to know another person besides Himself? If the form is a mere representation we are coming to know that person and not truly the One, being represented.
Once again we must come back to the fact, that we are told this hundreds of times…there is One God, Jehovah said over and over, I am One God, there is no other god besides Me….and yet the human mind can’t seem to grasp this as I feel, perhaps let the many roles He assumes and the many titles He uses confuse them. These roles and titles are used by Him in order to teach the different aspects of His character. We should not be confused by them, but I feel some thinking that each title is a separate person.
And thus is more than one person and so we see the human mind interpreting these many roles and titles as meaning that we have two or three persons, as our God. This is exactly was all the pagan religions had and have as they did have multiple spirit beings visit them and perpetrate themselves as gods and thus the ancients worshipped them, unfortunately Christendom has let this pagan belief permeate the understanding of Who God and Christ and Holy Spirit are. Not three persons…but One God, One Person with three roles.
We have One God…We do not have a committee!
We are also told that Jehovah’s form was that of a human…or man many times in scripture. Ezekiel saw a man sitting on the throne in heaven…Ezekiel 1:26. In this chapter Ezekiel hears the voice of the Almighty and sees a man on the throne. We are also told that Adam was created or being created in the image of His creator in Genesis and most likely at least one species of the spirit world…angels or messengers also have the form of man. In the accounts of the appearance of these messengers to humans, they also looked like men. So in this way He/ Jehovah, the form of God is the creative original….Our God is the pattern for which humanity was patterned after.
When those of us in the Body of Christ are called to heaven…we will be changed into the glorified body which Christ took back at His return to heaven and thus again He is our pattern for the future Glorified bodies we are going to be changed into, when called to the heavenly realms.
Those who have the Father and Son as two persons have unwittingly accepted the doctrine of Armenism which was that they were two separate persons and the son was not of the same substance as the father…because the son was created….thus the son would be the lesser. That belief is what fostered the 50 year battle over was God Two or One or Three and thus came the Trinity Doctrine devised to disprove the Armenian view…that the Father and Son were not of the same essence or substance.
A close study of the original trinity doctrine is interesting, because it does not really teach what is said that it teaches today. It taught that God was One, but manifested Himself through three modes…over time that teaching was added to and turned out to be what is taught today as the Trinity Doctrine in Christendom which is that the One God is three persons. Three persons is a committee not the One God scripture emphatically states???
While the Concordant Viewpoint will say the One God is that the unknowable spirit is a person and the form of God, which was Jehovah later becoming Christ on the earth, is another person, Who said He was God, the only God. So they say Jehovah was the representative of the unknowable Spirit and so if these are two persons as the Concordant says, they are, then don’t they really have two Gods?
It helps if we separate or rightly divide…the heavenly existence of Jehovah from the earthly existence of Jesus. As many stumble over the things Jesus said which showed Him relying on the Father…which would be relying on the unknowable Spirit. Forgetting, what Paul said, that He left His deity behind, emptying Himself in order to be in the fashion as a human…flesh and blood in order to die and save His own creation. Leaving His deity behind to live as a human, dependant upon the invisible Spirit…referred to as His Father. Father is life giver, the spirit is what supplied life to all creation.
The man Jesus in order to be a corresponding ransom for humanity must be human…and He was…the difference was that Jesus was devoid of Adam’s Sin, as His Father was the unknowable spirit and He was filled with that Spirit, of God or of the Father.
We also must recognize, the role of the Son is Jesus Christ…Jehovah is never spoken of as the Son, but He is spoken of as the Father, The Almighty God, The Most High God, and The One and only God all through the Old Testament. If we recognize that Jehovah left His deity in heaven, He emptied Himself of it in order to become truly human, flesh and blood as you and I then we must acknowledge that our Creator is also our Savior and our One God. It is only in the mode of Jesus that we have the Son of God, again a pattern for many sons.
Christ is the complement of the invisible Spirit. In other words the visible form of God completes the invisible spirit, providing a person in which to dwell. Even Knoch in one of his articles stated, that the invisible spirit was not a person in the true meaning of the word, person. Persona….defined as a mask one assumes for a role.
The absolute Spirit remains invisible, unknowable and that is why the need for a form, in which to dwell, an image which is visible and able to reveal the essence of Who God is. Christ is the image of God, He is the only God we will ever see….we will be filled with God in our vivified immortal bodies and will commune with that Spirit within our spirit….but I believe that Spirit always will remain invisible. We will become like Christ, the images of God in the Universe, instead of Him having One image…the Body of Christ made up of an innumerable number of chosen saints…all will be the images of God.. Mind boggling isn’t it?
Paul is the one who speaks of how the new administration is the complement of Christ…Ephesians 1:23 “Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all.” Paul also says we are a spiritual temple in which God dwells. 1 Corinthians 3:16. “The complement of the nations,” Romans 11:25. He is the head and we are His body…we are a unit.
Paul totally understood, Who God was and so, if we rightly divide and study Paul’s words we come to see that Jesus Christ was Jehovah and Jehovah is God. Where the Concordant people get confused is by mixing up His earthly role as Jesus, coming into Humanity, taking on flesh in order to save His very own creation. The roles or modes of God must be kept separate from His existence in the Spirit
He dwells in the heavens as Jehovah, and revealed Himself as the only God to His People Israel and to those before Israel. No other God is spoken of as having sent Jehovah. Paul’s words explain His leaving His deity behind and coming into our world as flesh and blood in order to save His creation at Philippians 2:5-8 “Christ Jesus, Who being inherently, or all along, in the form of God, deems it not pillaging to be equal with God, nevertheless empties Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of humanity, and being found in fashion as a human, He humbles Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Jehovah was known by Israel as God, Almighty, they did not know of two Gods. I also cannot accept the Concordant viewpoint that Jehovah was a representative of God, if so why did He not say so? He never does, but states emphatically that He and He alone is God, Almighty. He states also that He had no one to swear by but Himself in regard to making or keeping His oaths….if He was the Son and a representative of the most High God, then He would be able to swear by His Father, and not say the things He did! Hebrews 6:13,14 says “ For God, (Jehovah) promising Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, swears by Himself, saying……” This is from Isaiah 45:23.
I am now in the process of working on Study Manual Four which is dedicated to this subject, of Who is God? Much more could be said and proven from scripture but we are getting off the subject matter of this study and so let’s return to our walk through Romans. I am sorry I have gone on so long on this subject of Who is God but once I begin this subject I just get passionate about it and can’t find a place to stop…but will do so now and get back to our journey through Romans.
In Romans 8:14-25 Paul discusses how they have received the spirit of sonship….and then continues to tell them they are the children of God….this too makes me pause…. As those of Israel, are said to be the children of God….and not sons, yet. In Romans 9:4 yet, Paul states that it is the “Israelites, whose is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the legislation and the divine service and the promises; whose are the fathers, and out of whom is the Christ according to the flesh, Who is over all, God be blessed for the eons. Amen!”
It is theirs because of the covenants and the promises to the fathers; again it seems to me, we, who are true Gentiles, receive it with those of Israel placed in the Body of Christ through the grafting in of the nations which Paul will talk about in Chapter 10. But as for the Nation of Israel…it is my understanding they will not receive the sonship until they are in the millennial Kingdom of Christ. When we read their Apostle John’s writings he refers to them as children of God…and being in Him…meaning God. Make note of these passages at 1 John 3:1-3.
As for the Body of Christ, this is where the adoption or the spirit given of sonship comes in….of which again only Paul speaks of in Romans 8:15, 23. While the Body of Christ because of unmerited grace and the calling to the celestial realm, are being or going to be newly created, new spiritual bodies. So, as the new creation we are thus, said to have the sonship?
I looked to see what Knoch had to say in his Commentary, “To be a son of God implies more than belonging to Him. As the Son of God manifests Him so we are sons only insomuch as we display His character in our words and ways.” I think he must have meant, in that we are in Christ, graced, justified by being given His righteousness and faith, are what display His character and not by any of our meager attempts as humans. But, our sonship is in spirit now, truly so, when we are with Him in heaven
In Verses 17,18 Paul tells them they are “joint enjoyers of Christ’s allotment, if so be that we are suffering together, that we should be glorified together also. For I am reckoning that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the glory about to be revealed for us.”
Verses 19-24 “For the premonition of the creation is awaiting the unveiling of the sons of God. For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects, in expectation the creation itself also shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we are aware that the entire creation is groaning and travailing together until now. Yet not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the spirit, we ourselves also, are groaning in ourselves awaiting the sonship, the deliverance of our body.”
It seems in these passages that he speaks of both, the children of God and the sonship, if the term, the children of God applies to Israelites and the term of the sons of God and the sonship are given to the Body of Christ is because they are the firstfruit of the spirit and so would perhaps explain his use of both terms. We will be unveiled as sons of God at the snatching away…when we meet Christ in the air, which is Satan’s realm and his throne over this earth. He then will see Christ’s body unveiled as the true sons of God and all watching in that realm seeing…Grace at work. While the faithful church of Israel will be unveiled as sons of God in the resurrection of the Just in the millennial kingdom with Christ.
More of what Paul says about the sonship, “we may be getting the place of a son” at Galatians 4:5 and in the next two verses it sounds like he is telling them they have already received it… “Now, in seeing that you are sons, God delegates the spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba Father…So that you are no longer a slave, but a son. Now if a son, an enjoyer also of an allotment from God, through Christ.” Also Paul adds to this when he writes Ephesians 1:5 saying, “God, “designating us beforehand for the place of a son for Him through Christ Jesus:”
One additional thought on the use of the terms the children of God and the sons of God. Israel is said to be the children of God as they are not yet mature …brought into the spirit. The new administration also first said to be children of God as they are now His People…but Paul stresses they are also the sons of God…because they are being brought to maturity through his teaching and God’s Spirit. Paul’s evangel is the tutor bringing the minor church he began to maturity!
Romans 8:24b-25 “For to expectation were we saved. Now expectation, being observed, is not expectation, for what anyone is observing, why is he expecting it also? Now, if we are expecting what we are not observing, we are awaiting it with endurance.”
Verses 26,27 “Now similarly, the spirit also is aiding our infirmity, for what we should be praying for, to accord with what must be, we are not aware, but the spirit itself is pleading for us with inarticulate groanings. Now He who is searching the hearts is aware what is the disposition of the spirit, for in accord with God is it pleasing for the saints.” We are infirm because of these fleshly, soulish bodies, which scream for comfort here and now…is this not more grace, that the spirit placed within us, knowing truly how to pray for us in accord with Gods will helps us in our infirmity here and now and in relation to our calling?
Verses 28-30 “Now we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who are loving God, who are called according to the purpose that, whom He foreknew, He designates before, also, to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be Firstborn among many brethren. Now whom He designates before hand, these He calls also, and whom He calls, these He justifies also; now whom He justifies, these He glorifies also.” Here we see the order of the steps of our calling…one more step to go!
Verses 31-37 “What, then, shall we declare to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Surely, He Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how shall He not, together with Him, also be graciously granting us all? Who will be indicting Gods chosen ones? God the Justifier? Who is the Condemner? Christ Jesus, the One dying, yet rather being roused, Who is also at Gods right hand, Who is pleading also for our sakes? What shall be separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? According as it is written, that ‘On Thy account we are being put to death the whole day, We are reckoned as sheep for slaughter.’ Quoted from Psalms 44:72 and so these words would apply to Israel.
But Paul says, “Nay! In all these we are more than conquering through Him Who loves us.” Who is Christ interceding against, for us? It could only be Satan, as we are justified in Christ, God is not seeing our failings…but Satan and his cohorts are…they would be accusing us ….as they do not understand Grace and they see our weaknesses! We can think of Jesus Christ as our shield as their accusations hit Him and are deflected. Wow that gives me goose bumps.
It also seems to me Paul went out of his way in this 8th Chapter to emphasize to his disciples how their evangel was different from the evangel of the 12 which was that his disciples had not only received a pardon of sins but were also justified in Christ outside the Mosaic Law. He stresses the same thought over and over but in different words, reinforcing that they can not fail or lose their calling and place in the Body of Christ. He began this chapter with Romans 8:1 stating that “nothing was condemnation for those in Christ” and he gave more reassurance throughout the chapter and then he closes this chapter with more, at Romans 8:38,39 "Nothing can ever separate us from His love.”
In Chapter 9:1-5 Paul begins with expressing his desire for Israel. “I myself wished to be anathema from Christ for my brethren…my relatives according to the flesh, who are Israelite’s whose is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the legislation and the divine service and the promises; whose are the fathers, and out of whom is the Christ, according to the flesh, Who is over all, God be blessed for the eons. Amen!” Paul has listed 8 blessings which I underlined, interesting that Bullinger said there were 7?
But Paul has listed what belongs to Israel and in the flesh, Jesus Christ belongs solely to Israel as no other nation is tied to the fathers or his heritage as an Israelite. Paul wants his disciples to understand that the sonship is now theirs in spirit, not in the flesh. Knoch points out “that Ishmael was also Abraham’s son, but of the flesh, and was not the promised son, Isaac…which was of the spirit.” We must take note of how many times and in different ways in Paul’s letters does he contrast the flesh with the spirit. Israel the nation is of the flesh, while the new administration under Paul is of the spirit. All of Paul’s dealing with Christ was by means of the spirit.
Verses 6-13 Paul continues with more history of the nation of Israel, referring to Abraham and Sarah again as well as Isaac and Jacob and Esau and so again he compares the children of the flesh with the child of the promise. Also emphasizing the purpose of God is ruled by His choice…not that of men, through choice or acts. Paul uses Jacob and Esau as an example of how flesh did not take precedent…Esau was the firstborn, by right in the flesh…he should have received the birthright but, he allowed Jacob to trade him out of it for a bowl of stew….Esau did not value his birthright, his flesh was screaming I am hungry feed me.
The statement in Verse 13 “Jacob I love, yet Esau I hate” should be rendered, Esau I did not like or choose. Again this is showing us, that it is God as Sovereign, and thus it is He, Who has the right to choose who He will and for what job or office He decides to use them in His Plan of the Ages. Paul has quoted from Genesis 18:14; 25:23
In Romans 9:14-24 Paul continues with more examples, teaching them and us that this is God’s program, He will be glorified through it and all creation will be blessed by it. I am sure some of those who were of Israel broached the question to Paul, why is God turning from Israel and beginning a new entity…or thoughts along that line. Also it appears the question came up as to why is He then still blaming if He does the choosing and if He is merciful to whom He wills, yet whom He wills, He is hardening”
Paul gave the example of Pharaoh and he is emphatic with his answer in Verses 20-22 “O Man! Who are you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not protest to the molder, Why do you make me thus? Or has not the potter the right over the clay, out of the same kneading to make one vessel, indeed, for honor, yet one for dishonor?” Paul has also quoted from Exodus 33:19; 2 Samuel 12:11; and Isaiah 45:9; Humanity has inherited from Adam, the rebellious and independent characteristics, which does not want to answer to anyone, not even God, thus was fertile ground for the Free Will doctrine to sprout and grow.
In Romans 9:25,26 He says, “He makes ready before for glory…us, whom He calls also, not only of the Jews, but out of the nations also. As He is saying in Hosea also:” This is quoted from Hosea 2:23 and 1:9.
“I shall be calling those who are not My people “My people,”
And she who is not beloved, “Beloved,”
And it shall be, in the place where it was declared to them, “Not My people are you,’”
There they shall be called sons of the living God.’”
Verses 27-29 “Now Isaiah is crying over Israel, If the number of the sons of Israel should be as the sand of the sea, the residue (a remnant) shall be saved, for ‘a conclusive and concise accounting the Lord will be doing on the earth.’ ” Paul is building a case, defending the God of Israel with His actions in regards to them, but also laying out the promises that they will not be wiped off the face of the earth. But, before Israel will be restored to favor God purposes that a residue or remnant will be saved and then later, Paul will reassure them that all of Israel shall be saved. Isaiah 10:22,23 He continues to quote from Isaiah with “And according as Isaiah declared before, ‘Except the Lord of host conserved us a seed, As Sodom would we become, and to Gomorrah would we be likened.” Isaiah 1:9
The last verses of this chapter in Romans sums it up, the problem the Judaisers were having with his evangel and were challenging what Paul had taught them about their new calling as that remnant out of Israel. Paul did not want his disciples to be persuaded by the Judaisers.
So he continues to use the Old Testament scriptures in explaining what God was doing and says to them in Verses 30-33 “What, then, shall we be declaring? That the nations who are not pursuing righteousness overtook righteousness, yet a righteousness which is out of faith. Yet Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, into a law of righteousness does not outstrip. Wherefore? Seeing that it is not out of faith, but as of out of law works, they stumble on the stumbling stone, according as it is written: ‘Lo! I am laying in Zion a Stumbling Stone and a Snare Rock, and the one believing on Him shall not be disgraced.” Quoted from Isaiah 28:16
Those of Israel who did not believe will be disgraced when they miss the millennial reign and all its glory with the honor of ruling and reigning with their messiah and King, Jesus Christ…the unfaithful of Israel will be raised in the last resurrection, with the unbelievers and the wicked who fought God and His People under Satan, this is said to be the unjust class at Daniel 12:1,2.
This is where it speaks of those asleep in the dust, being raised to contempt and shame, the last resurrection is for the unjust. Those of Israel had Jehovah to guide and teach them…they had the priestly system…they had the Law and the Prophets and most rejected all of it, turning instead to false gods…idol worship…which appeased the soulish nature. In the Acts era, they were given many witnesses as to truth, but the stubborn, stiff-necked, self righteous Jewish religious leaders for the most part again continued with their rejection of His Prophets and His Christ.
In Romans 10:1-4 Paul sums this up, “Indeed, brethren, the delight of my heart and my petition to God for their sake is for salvation. For I am testifying to them that they have a zeal of God, but not in accord with recognition. For they, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, were not subjected to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the consummation of Law for righteousness to everyone who are believing” Again do we see how Christendom’s denominations followed the pattern of the Judaisers by instructing their followers to establish their own righteousness through good works and church attendance?
Verses 5-13 Paul again quotes Moses concerning the following of the law from Leviticus 18:5 “the man which does the same shall be living in it.” What the Judaisers missed was that the Law showed Gods righteousness and not theirs. Paul then tells them they are under faith’s law.
Followed by the infamous words, quoted by Christendom, as the proof, one is saved. Verses 8b-10 “Near you is the declaration, in your mouth and in your heart…that is the declaration of faith which we are heralding that, if ever you should be avowing with your mouth the declaration that Jesus is Lord, and should be believing in your heart that God rouses Him from among the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart it is believed for righteousness, yet with the mouth it is avowed for salvation.”
Paul’s words I feel apply to his day, and for those of Israel, because, for a Jew to profess Jesus was the messiah and the Lord and had been raised from the dead, brought them under condemnation by fellow Jewish brethren. It was ingrained in a Jew that they had One God and to profess another was idolatry and was also being a false prophet by which the Mosaic Law condemned both. A Jew who had not been given the indwelling of Christ would never have the courage to profess Jesus as Lord just for show or to fit in with family members who did…..but I fear that is not the case in our denominations of today.
A Gentile not having the history of that Jewish curse from the Jewish Law covenant, could very well profess Jesus Christ and I feel it is possible to say those words and yet not be saved…but doing it as a form of religion. This is based again on that Gentiles have a different mindset with no stigma associated as it did with those Jews in that day.
Also in the following centuries came the false doctrine of free will, which has been drilled into people attending church, so that they are told they must accept Christ and they use these words of Paul’s telling them they must confess him in order to be saved. Perhaps it has become a religious ritual with some just saying the words because their parents and their religious leaders tell them they must. I think we need to review Paul’s words with the understanding he was speaking to Israelites who had to profess Jesus because He was their Messiah…He is not the messiah of the Gentiles. He is the Lord of the Gentiles as He is Lord over all…more testing of what differs and rightly dividing.
Romans 10:8 sounds like a quote from Mark 9:32, if so then perhaps this is more proof that Paul had the gospel accounts which he had learned from and would teach from. Paul continues with Verses 11-13 “For the scripture is saying: Everyone who is believing on Him shall not be disgraced. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same is Lord of all, being rich for all who are invoking Him. For everyone, whoever should be invoking the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” Verse 11 is quoted from Isaiah 28:16 and Verse 13 taken from Joel 2:32.
We must also remember these passages Paul has quoted come from Old Testament prophecy for Israel in the last days and again those who confess Jesus as their messiah will be added to the bride church. After Christ returns that will also be the time when they do fulfill their commission to evangelize Jesus Christ to the nations of the world. Those prophecies do not fit the spiritual entity the Body of Christ becomes once the dispensation of Holy Sprit has ended.
Verses 14-21 also have several quotes from the Old Testament. “How, then, should they be invoking One in Whom they do not believe? Yet how should they be believing One of Whom they do not hear? Yet how should they be hearing apart from one heralding? Yet how should they be heralding if ever they should not be commissioned? According as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring an evangel of good!” Ecclesiastes 3:1,11, Also found in Matthew 23:27 and Acts3:2,10. Paul continues, “But not all obey the evangel for Isaiah 52:1 is saying, ‘Lord, who believes our tidings?’”
Verses 17-19 “Consequently faith is out of tidings, yet the tidings through a declaration of Christ. But I am saying, Do they not hear at all? To be sure! ‘Into the entire earth came out their utterance and into the ends of the inhabited earth their declarations’ ” ( Acts 4:18 and 1 Corinthians 14:7 ) “But. I am saying, did not Israel know at all? First Moses is saying, ‘I shall be provoking you to jealousy over those not a nation; Over an unintelligent nation shall I be vexing you.’ ” Alluding to Deuteronomy 32:21
Verse 20,21 “Yet Isaiah is very daring and is saying, ‘I was found by those who are not seeking Me; I became disclosed to those who not inquiring for Me.’ ” Isaiah 65:1 Paul next quotes “Now to Israel He is saying, ‘The whole day I spread out My hands to a stubborn and contradicting people!’ ” Isaiah 65:2 Paul has quoted many passages here which showed that Israel would be set aside and that God would choose people from the nations….he was trying to help those of Israel to understand what was going on in their day.
Romans 11:1,2 “I am saying, then, Does not God thrust away His people? May it not be coming to that! For I also am an Israelite, out of Abraham’s seed, Benjamin’s tribe. God does not thrust away His people whom He foreknew.” This statement was given to reassure his Israelite brethren, I believe even though he has been telling them of the blindness and stubbornness of the Jewish Leaders, and even though they are divorced, lo ammi…..God is not thrusting away Israel permanently…or in the sense of their never being His People again. Paul having to teach them, the new administration does not permanently replace the nation of Israel! But is not this what most of Christendom has been teaching for the past 1900 years?
In Verses 3-6 Paul is reminding them of what Jehovah told Elijah when he thought he alone was faithful in all of Israel. “Or have you not perceived in Elijah what the scripture is saying, as he is pleading with God against Israel? Lord, Thy prophets they kill, thine altars they dig down, and I was left alone, and they are seeking my soul. But what is that which apprises saying to him? ‘I left for Myself seven thousand men who do not bow the knee to the image of Baal.’ Paul says, “Thus, then, in the current eras also, there has come to be a remnant according to the choice of grace. Now if it is in grace, it is no longer out of works, else the grace is coming to be no longer grace. Now, if it is out of works, it is no longer grace, else the work is no longer work.” 1 Kings 19:10-18
How much clearer could Paul be and yet Christendom…tells us we receive grace because of our works…? Also the seven thousand were faithful because Jehovah always sees to it that He has a remnant of faithful! Again, we must remember, Israel is the only nation He chose and sanctified and made His People. Thus the new administration was founded upon those from Israel also! Gentiles are added in making it a joint body…which Paul will explain more on in Ephesians 3 and also in this letter through the figure or illustration of the Olive tree being grafted with other nations, further on in this chapter.
Verses 7-11 “What then? What Israel is seeking for, this she did not encounter, yet the chosen encountered it. Now the rest were calloused, even as it is written, ‘God gives them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to be observing and ears not be hearing, till this very day’ ” Paul again quoting Isaiah 29:10 “And David is saying, ‘Let their table become a trap and a mesh, And a snare and a repayment to them: Darkened be their eyes, not to be observing, And their backs bow together continually.’” Quoted from Psalms 69:23. Paul says, “I am saying, then do they not trip that they should be falling? May it not be coming to that! But in their offense is salvation to the nations, to provoke them to jealousy.”
It is important for us to recognize, the use of the word nations and this pertains to nations and not to individuals. The subject is the nation of Israel and the other nations. Again Christendom has applied most of what is said to the individual…needing to repent and accept Christ. Hopefully we are seeing that his words applied primarily to Israelites as theirs were the promises and the covenants and the legislation….etc. Also notice Paul says Israel has tripped but not fallen…she is temporarily out of favor set aside…and Jehovah is turning to the nations for a People who will be faithful to Him in order to provoke Israel to jealousy.
Those of the nations, who are now His People, are faithful because He makes them so….through the shed blood of Christ, the new administration, saved in Grace and given His faith, His allotment and justification and who are indwelt with His spirit and thus are His temple today.
Verses 12-15 Paul has been explaining Israel’s condition and status with God, now he begins to explain how Gods dealing with Israel affects the nations of the world. “Now if their offense is the worlds riches and their discomfiture the nations riches, how much rather that which fills them? Now to you am I saying, to the nations, in as much as, indeed, then, I am the apostle of the nations, I am glorifying my dispensation, if somehow I should be provoking those of my flesh to jealousy and should be saving some of them. For if their casting away is the conciliation of the world, what will the taking back be if not life from among the dead?”
Again I want to remind us, that the ministry of Paul and the ministry for us today differ. He was an Apostle given a direction commission and revelations from Christ. He had been a Jewish leader a Pharisee. His ministry began during the dispensation of Holy Spirit and so some things are not applicable to and or for us today. He followed the rule to the Jew first during the time of that Holy Spirit dispensation.
When he uses the expression, wishing to save some of his brethren, this has to be taken in the context of who he was and the time period he was living in. He was sent out to preach and make disciples of his brethren according to the flesh, those of Israelite heritage and that is why he displayed the spiritual endowments like healing for a time, proof of his apostleship for the Jew and powerful works given as signs to the Jews.
The Jews were given signs, by the Holy Spirit in order to help them believe, if they responded to those signs and to the evangel being heralded, they then would repent and be baptized and would then receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which gave the spiritual gifts. In Acts we read how that Paul would first go to the synagogue in each city he visited and many times speak the whole day seeking to convince them that Jesus was indeed their messiah. In this way, would Paul save some of his brethren?
This is not applicable to us today, our ministry is solely to those who have been chosen by God given the indwelling so that they can respond to the Word of God when they hear it or read it…we cannot save anyone nor can anyone choose to be saved.
Also, the statement, “For if their casting away is the conciliation of the world….Paul spoke of the conciliation of the world earlier in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 written before this letter to the Romans. This too indicates Israel was already cast away when both these letters were written thereby not agreeing with the Acts 28 position as to that being when Israel was cast away again. Let’s continue now with Romans.
Romans 11:16-18 “Now if the firstfruit is holy, the kneading is also; and if the root is holy, the boughs are also. Now if some of the boughs are broken out, yet you, being a wild olive, are grafted among them, and became joint participant of the root and fatness of the olive, be not vaunting over the boughs. Yet if you are vaunting, you are not bearing the root, but the root you.” Let’s try and identify some of these terms, the firstfruit…that would be those chosen by God, out of the sick and blind nation of Israel. The Olive tree is Israel with her national religious privilege. The oil from the olive tree was used in their lamps for light and thus pictures, Israel’s religious privilege as they had been given the light of God’s Word.
Note the root remained although some branches are cut off. The unfaithful of Israel are removed. The wild olive represents the nations, who are being grafted into the root which is the foundation of Israel perhaps even the promises given the fathers beginning with Abraham. Paul tells, the nations not to let this go to their head, that they are replacing the pruned out branches, because they are still dependant upon the root.
Verses 19-24 “You will be declaring then, ‘Boughs are broken out that I may be grafted in.’ Ideally! By unbelief are they broken out, yet you stand in faith. Be not haughty, but fear. For if God spares not the natural boughs, neither will He be sparing you! Perceive, then, the kindness and severity of God! On those who are falling, severity, yet on you, God’s kindness, if you should be persisting in the kindness: else you also will be hewn out. Now they also, if they should not be persisting in unbelief, will be grafted in for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were hewn out of an olive wild by nature, and beside nature are grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much rather shall these, who are in accord with nature be grafted into their own olive tree!” Keep in mind this figure is of the nation of Israel and the other nations…do not try and apply this personally or to individuals.
So, with this information in mind, I also need to ask, would God be grafting Gentiles into the nation of Israel if they were ammi, His People, in covenant relationship again. I don’t think so, all of the things we have learned through this study of God dealing with and turning to the nations with conciliation, grace and beginning a new administration, it does not seem possible unless Israel was still divorced. God is faithful; if Israel was His wife again, how could He select a bride and to also create a new administration by turning to the nations as He says, to a People not His People and make them… His People?
Verses 25-27 “For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren, lest you may be passing for prudent among yourselves, that callousness in part on Israel has come, until the complement of the nations maybe entering. And thus all Israel shall be saved, according as it is written, ‘Arriving out of Zion shall be the Rescuer, He will be turning away irreverence from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, whenever I should be eliminating their sins.’” Quoted from Isaiah 59:20,21 and Isaiah 27:9.
A secret…Israel in part to be calloused until the complement of the nations is entering, this means the Body of Christ and until the full times of the times of the Gentiles has run its course during which the complement of Christ, the new administration was called out and will be completed in the world. Then God will be turning back to Israel to deal with the irreverence of Jacob…who represents the nation as a rebel.
What does the phrase…in part…mean? It could mean several things, since not all of Israel was kept blind as we know some responded to the work of the Holy Spirit, repented and accepted Jesus as their Messiah. God always has a faithful remnant and He saw to it that there was some called out of Israel for the church Jesus began and He also saw to it there was a faithful remnant begun by a Jew and who discipled some Jews as well as many of the sons of Israel elected from the nations they were living in to be the foundation of the Body of Christ.
As Paul pointed out, God always has a faithful remnant…and thus out of Israel in this current era….the era of which Paul was living He has chosen a remnant …through an election or choice of grace…while the rest of Israel were calloused…as God gives them a spirit of stupor…quoted from Isaiah 29:10 and then in Verses 9,10 he quotes David from Psalms 69:23 and also adds in the words from Deuteronomy 28:43.
The complement of the eras….until those eras are complete Israel’s evangel is on hold so she will wait in the wings until time to resume playing her role in Gods Plan of the Ages. In the past I thought the remnant in grace Paul speaks of was the remnant chosen for the kingdom church, the bride. But I am now thinking it is referring to the other remnant called out of Israel into the Body of Christ…as we have come to understand that the reference going to the nations, was not only to the true Gentiles but to the sons of Israel living in those nations and most likely were viewed as gentiles as they were not practicing Judaism
Also Paul’s following the rule to the Jews first, meant that he went to those Jews in dispersion also living amongst the nations and some were called in grace just as Paul. So to be technically correct, Paul was a Jew and some others Jews followed him, He went to the sons of Israel, living in the other nations and were no longer practicing Judaism and discipled many of them and also made disciples of the true Gentiles living in those nations…these three elements become the joint body, The Body of Christ.
As I go through this information I keep mentally equating my past thoughts, such as Israel being lo ammi all along as we have discussed. It sounds like to me as I read all Paul has said in this letter that it does confirm that Israel was lo ammi…or as sometimes termed…cast away. If she was not, would not the tenor of the language be instead, the giving of a warning as the casting away was something coming to them in the future. Yet the tone is of those who were fearful that she had been cast away forever by their God, Jehovah.
So in that same vein I keep having to ask myself and my readers, does it not seem that Israel would need to be lo ammi before God could be conciliated to the world and before God could justify some outside the Law of Moses as Paul spoke of right after his severing at Acts 13:39. How would this be possible if the Mosaic Law Covenant was still in force?
Yes Christ fulfilled that Law Covenant on the cross with His death and that redeemed Israel from the condemnation of the Law…but I even wonder was it possible for Him to come and die if Israel had still been in favor? There are many legalities and technicalities involved with Israel and I fear I don’t understand them all, but I do think they are very relevant and need to be considered.
I believe Israel, was lo ammi, and as foretold while she is in that state, would be dominated by Gentile Nations, the times of the Gentiles. They had failed, broken their covenant and lost favor with their Husbandly owner, Jehovah. The failure of that covenant was a death sentence; they needed a redeemer to redeem them from first, their national sin and also from their personal sins, later would come the deliverance from Gentiles and the restoration of Israel as a kingdom and nation again!
Perhaps we need to study out the meaning of redeemer? The Concordant gives the definition for redeemer in the Greek as, “Loosener” And redemption is “Loosening.” Redemption also translated as deliverance. The redeemer thus is the loosener or deliverer of someone from something. In Israel’s case, Jesus the One Who loosens Israel from the bondage and condemnation of the Law of which they had failed and thus were condemned by it. His death also redeemed them from the sin of breaking their Covenant with Jehovah. But sadly they did not recognize that. When Christ returns to establish His kingdom, He will loosen Israel from her enemies who will have been waging war for 42 months seeking to annihilate her. Revelation 13:5,6
I think perhaps, this is the first step we need to understand…as in Christendom we just have been taught that we needed redemption from our sins. All mankind needs redemption from the death which comes from the sin inherited from Adam, which is why we each fall short and sin. What is overlooked is that Israel first needed redemption from their failure with Jehovah. The benefits to all mankind comes through Israel’s redeemer…her redemption also redeems all humanity.
The problem with the religious leaders of Israel was that they worked from a purely soulish level and did not recognize their own redeemer and thus actually fought the truth of their redemption in order to stay in condemnation by the Law….just as Christendom today does not understand that all humanity has been redeemed from death and so they too…fight to stay in bondage to law covenant which was never theirs to begin with thus fear the death and loss it warns of for Israel….….teaching we must earn our own salvation.
Let’s get back to the letter to the Romans and the question of Israel’s blindness and her rejection of Jesus as their messiah and the kingdom evangel. This is discussed by Paul with his explaining next, that Israel would one day be saved which again to my simple mind also seems to indicate that she was already cast away.
I think the subject of Israel’s place with God came up amongst those of Israelite heritage as with their understanding that God was calling a new administration through Paul, they would naturally worry about their fellow Israelites and wonder about the promised kingdom for them….was it still going to happen or had God permanently cast away His People, Israel. Thus Paul reassures them, Israel is still Gods People and that one day all Israel will be saved. Romans 11:25,26
The term, calloused in part, might also have some what of a meaning, that there would always be a remnant of Jews in the world which would hold to the religion of their forefathers, keeping the hope alive that one day the nation of Israel would be restored as Jehovah promised them through His prophets.
And then at Romans 12:3-6 Paul is again explaining the nature of the Body of Christ. “For I am saying, through the grace which is given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to be overweening, (this means, thinking too highly of yourselves) beyond what your disposition must be, but to be of a sane disposition, as God parts to each the measure of faith. For even as, in one body, we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, thus we, who are many, are one body in Christ, yet individually members of one another.”
Just a reminder here of what began this study, which was the discussion I had with a particular Acts 28 teacher who stated to me that the Body of Christ did not begin until after Acts 28. Yet in this chapter we see here again Paul in my opinion is explaining the Body of Christ, the new administration and I do not believe these people would follow him blindly without understanding something of his evangel and their calling which his arguments sound like answers to questions which relate to their wanting to understand the differences with Paul’s evangel from that of the Jewish church under Peter and the nation of Israel.
In the following Verses 7-13 Paul is encouraging them to appreciate each other, “Let love be unfeigned…turn from what is wicked and cling to what is good….persevere in prayer, contribute to the needs of the saints.” He next says some things which makes me wonder if the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is ending as remember we read how he spoke earlier of cursing or declaring anathema upon false teachers….now he tells them not to curse but to bless those who oppose them. In full grace, there would be none of the cursing of those not understanding his evangel. This is the time frame of Acts 20 and we will discuss this more in the closing pages in summing up or trying to tie up all the loose ends.
In Verse 14 He tells them “to bless those persecuting them and not to curse them” and in Verses 18,19 “To no one render evil for evil… Being at peace with all mankind, you are not avenging yourselves, beloved, but be giving place to His Indignation, for it is written, Mine is vengeance! I will repay!” quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35. Paul closes this chapter with these words, Verses 20,21 “The Lord is saying. But ‘If your enemy should be hungering, give him the morsel; if he should be thirsting, give him to drink; for in doing this you will be heaping embers of fire on his head’ Be not conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” Adding in a quote also from Proverbs 25:21,22.
Romans 12:18 “Be at peace with all mankind…you are not avenging yourselves…” Keep in mind, within Israel’s law was the allowance of vengeance for an evil or acts of wrong doing. Paul is giving them instruction pertinent to the new administration; vengeance is no longer an option, because peace and love are to rule. God deals graciously with them overlooking their failures, and thus they were to do likewise. That is the difference with Law and Grace.
Also remember their fellow Israelites, those Judaisers were their worst persecutors, it would be hard to take, that their own brethren were hating them and discounting the evangel they had been called through. But we experience that today…from those who are religious and yet in error doctrinally, hating the truth we herald concerning God’s Grace because they do not accept that Paul’s evangel is separated from Israel’s or that he taught of the Salvation of all…!
In the next chapter of Romans Paul addresses the political realm and speaks to them of their conduct in regards to the political authorities under which they live as his ecclesia were scattered throughout many different countries with each having their own particular laws and customs. But he is writing to the Romans, in Rome, which was the seat of the Roman government, and this was the very authority from which the Jews wished to be set free.
Paul tells his disciples they are not to be part of any conflicts with the governments they live under but to live a peaceable life. 1 Timothy 2:1,2 “I am entreating, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, pleadings, thanksgiving be made for all mankind for kings and all those being in a superior station, that we may be leading a mild and quiet life in all devoutness and gravity for this is ideal and welcome in the sight of our Saviour, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth”
Paul continues in Romans 13:1,2 “Let every soul be subject to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except under God. Now those which are, have been set under God, so that he who is resisting an authority has withstood God’s mandate.” Paul is telling us the governments are here because God allows them and even more than that, it is God Who decides who will govern in any country.
In the next Verses 3-5 he explains, the ruling authorities will take care of the law breakers for God. And so, he says “Do good, and you will be having applause from it. For it is God’s servant, for your good. Now if you should be doing evil, fear, for not feignedly is it wearing the sword. For it is God’s servant, an avenger for indignation to him who is committing evil.”
No matter the government in the world, the good, bad and or the ugly, there is still some sort of order. Without any form of government, chaos would follow and life would be unbearable as the criminal element would have complete reign. This is also showing us that God’s grace will not protect us if we break the laws of the country we live in. Grace is not a license to sin or break laws.
Verses 6, 7 “For therefore you are settling taxes also, for they are God’s ministers, perpetuated for this self same thing. Render to all their dues, to whom tax, the tax, to whom tribute, the tribute, to whom fear, fear, to whom honor, honor.” Taxes are required in order to pay for the law keeping and order needed to provide an ordered society in which we might be able to live peaceably. No matter if the government we are living under is corrupt, we are told they are God’s servant for our good.
Verses 8-10 Paul sums up the principles which are inherent in the Mosaic Law…and which are inadvertently followed when each individual practices the law of love. To love themselves, to love their family, to love their neighbors and to love their Lord, those things which the Law condemned as would not even be considered if the Law of love was always followed.
Verses 11-14 Paul reminding them they have been brought into the light out of the darkness of this world with its many evils. He tells them if they practice love and love their associate as themselves, “they are putting off the acts of darkness and putting on the implements of light……..to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and be making no provision for the lust of the flesh.”
In Romans 14:1-10a Paul refers to the infirm in faith and brings more counsel regarding conduct…but, in relation to themselves and not to be judging one another and especially the infirm, the King James uses instead the term, the weak in faith. Bullinger points out this would apply to those weak, “whether in practice or belief.”
Paul explains why our role in the Body is not to judge one another in Verses 10b-13 “For all of us shall be presented at the dais of God, for it is written: and he quotes Isaiah 45:23, ‘Living am I, the Lord is saying, For to Me shall bow every knee, And every tongue shall be acclaiming God!’” Paul continues “Consequently, then, each of us shall be giving account concerning himself to God! By no means, then, should we still be judging one another, but rather decide this, not to place a stumbling block for a brother or a snare.”
This counsel ties in with his previous counsel concerning how the works of each will be judged at the dais in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, as to whether the works are good or if not, the bad works or those of no value will be burned up but the saints will be saved as though through fire. The next Verses 14-23 has to do with food…..remember the Jews lived by a set of dietary laws, which Paul’s disciples were no longer bound by. Again, Paul counsels, not to judge one another over what each may feel is good or bad to eat…He says, “Consequently, then, we are pursuing that which makes for peace and that which is for the edification of one another.”
Romans 15:1,2 begins again with addressing the infirm, “Now we the able ought to be bearing the infirmities of the impotent and not to be pleasing ourselves.” Verses 3,4 is a quote from Psalms 69:9 “For Christ also pleases not Himself, but, according as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those reproaching thee fall on Me.’ ” When we judge others harshly, we are forgetting that Christ took not only our sins and offenses to the cross with Him but everyone else’s also, if Christ is overlooking them, then so should we!
Verses 5-7 “Now may the God of endurance and consolation grant you to be mutually disposed to one another, according to Christ Jesus, that, with one accord, with one mouth you may be glorifying the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore be taking one another to yourselves according as Christ also took you to Himself, for the glory of God.”
Verses 8-12“For I am saying Christ has become the servant of the Circumcision for the sake of the truth of God, to confirm the patriarchal promises. Yet the nations are to glorify God for His mercy, according as it is written, at Psalms 18:49 ‘Therefore I shall be acclaiming Thee among the nations, And to Thy name shall I be playing music.’ This is followed by several more quotes, “And again he is saying, at Deuteronomy 32:34, ‘Be merry, ye nations, with His people!’ “And again he is saying, at Psalms 117:1 ‘praise the Lord, all the nations, And let all the peoples laud Him.; And again Isaiah is saying, there will be the root of Jesse, And He Who is rising to be Chief of the nations: On Him will the nations rely’.” This last one is from Isaiah 11:10.
Israel knew of the promises that the nations would be blessed through them…but they did not know of the secret hidden in God, the new administration called out of the nations which would become His People, while they were, lo ammi. That was the secret hidden in God during the eons that during the interval of Israel’s disfavor Paul’s evangel would take precedent over them and their restoration as a nation.
Those who were and are being called out of the nations into the new administration in one sense fulfill partially some of those words, as we glorify the Lord for our salvation and we display His Grace and so this is taking place long before Israel will be made ammi which means when they will be restored as His People again which must take place before Christ will return to them. But it will be in Christ’s Kingdom that Isaiah’s words will be completely fulfilled and through the nation of Israel and their messiah, Jesus Christ.
Paul continues with Verses 13-16 . “Now may the God of expectation be filling you with all joy and peace in believing, for you to be super abounding in expectation and in the power of Holy Spirit. Now I myself also am persuaded concerning you, my brethren, that you yourselves also are bulging with goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to be admonishing one another. Yet more daringly do I write to you, in part, as prompting you because of the grace being given to me from God for me to be the minister of Christ Jesus for the nations, acting as a priest of the evangel of God, that the approach present of the nations may be becoming well received, having been hallowed by Holy Spirit.” I have underlined a few things for us to discuss.
Paul uses the word expectation…which is different than the word hope which is the word found so often in Israel’s evangel. Israel’s hope is for their kingdom, but their hope to be in that kingdom with their messiah is dependant upon their own faithfulness. The Body of Christ expects the words of Paul’s to come true because the fulfillment of those words is not dependant on our faithfulness but on His. Now Paul says something interesting…as he says that they are filled with all knowledge? How can it be said these saints did not know they were the Body of Christ called to the celestial realm if they were filled with all knowledge?
Did they have all the details of the deep things Paul later explains in the prison epistles? I don’t know if Paul spoke of them in person when he was with them…but I would think that he did. But if he did not, certainly by the things he has told them in these four letters we have just gone through in this article, they were being told many things for sure. I feel they had the basic outline of their calling. Just as you and I when we first learned to rightly divide and began studying Paul’s evangel, we began with the basic outline, we learn precept upon precept and so the more time we spend in study, the more details we uncover which will broaden and enhance that outline and giving us a deeper understanding.
Paul says he was a minister of Christ Jesus for the nations and acting as a priest. A priest acted in the role of a mediator between God and man. This would make Paul a mediator, with one difference which is that we have been given the indwelling spirit of Christ and thus it helps us to understand Paul’s evangel. But he received direct revelations and communication from Christ, we do not. He was given the evangel for us from Christ and he imparted it in person to those whom he discipled and imparts it to us today through his epistles, this is how he has acted as a priest and mediated for us. Paul is our Apostle, Priest and Prophet.
“Becoming well received, having been hallowed by Holy Spirit.” I think this pertains to the out pouring of Holy Spirit at that time with the spiritual endowments or gifts of which Paul had been given just as the Jewish church and the disciples of Paul also had…for a time. That proved to the Jew, that Paul and his disciples were ordained of God. I am not sure if there is any meaning in…having been used here as an indication that the gifts had ceased or not but I suspect so.
Knoch said Israel had been thrust aside before Acts 28 in his commentary at Romans 16 Page 247 last paragraph. He writes, “The conciliation comes because Israel is thrust aside. The prophets would lead us to infer that Israel’s apostasy would bar all possibility of blessing to the nations. The conciliation was a secret they knew nothing of, for it makes Israel’s defection the ground of world wide, unbounded blessing to the nations until Israel is again in God’s reckoning.” Paul reveals the conciliation at 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 the time period of Acts 19.
And Romans was written in the time period of Acts 20 just before his trip began to Jerusalem which was a two year ordeal and ending with his house arrest at Rome. If the announcement of it…means it began then…then according to Knoch’s words, Israel was thrust away at that time or she had been all along as I suspect. Again his comment is inconsistent with his other one which is that the thrusting or casting aside happened at Acts 28. So this can be very confusing to say the least, hopefully we are no longer confused by his words or those who press that Israel had been restored and needed to be cast away in order for the secret administration to come about and that happened at Acts 28!
It seems to me, the more we discuss this, the clearer it is that Israel was cast away all along, and what ended at Acts 28 was instead the following of the rule which was the heralding of the evangel of Christ to the Jews first.
Paul continues in Romans 15: 17-21 “I have, then, a boast in Christ Jesus, in that which is toward God. For I am not daring to speak any of what Christ does not effect through me for the obedience of the nations, in word and work, in the power of signs and miracles, in the power of God’s spirit, so that, from Jerusalem and around until Illyricum, I have completed the evangel of the Christ. Yet thus I am ambitious to be bringing the evangel where Christ is not named lest I may be building on another’s foundation, but, according as it is written; ‘They who were not informed concerning Him shall see, and they who have not heard shall understand.’” This is quoted from Isaiah 52:15.
Knoch’s comments on this passage, “In Acts, every sign in the first part, by Peter is duplicated in the last part, by Paul. This ministry he has now completed.” Knoch also explains, “The completion of the proclamation of the evangel of Christ marks the central crisis in Paul’s ministries. The first was his severance from the rest at Antioch. The last was at Rome and was followed by the writing of his prison epistle. This crisis lied between, after the completion of his Antioch commission and is marked by the expression of his desire to go to Rome.”
If this sounds a bit confusing, that’s okay, it confused me also and so in the final pages of this article we will discuss this in more depth. But briefly, with the underlined phrase I will point out that it seems to have a deeper meaning…in that both Knoch and Bullinger felt Paul was saying he had completed or fulfilled his ministry at that juncture and was ready to head to Rome.
You might ask as I did, how did he fulfill or complete his ministry and he kept on teaching and etc…it was fulfilled or completed in the aspect of the signs and miracles displayed proving him an apostle to the nations sent by God. This is important to make note of look at further if this was a signal the dispensation of Holy Spirit was over or ending. Keep this in mind and we will return to this further on.
Romans 15:22,23 “Wherefore, I was much hindered also in coming to you. Yet now, having by no means still place in these regions, yet having (for many years a longing to come to you,” Verses 24-26b “as ever I may be going into Spain for I am expecting, while going through, to gaze upon you, and by you to be sent forward there, if I should ever first be filled in part, by you)…yet now I am going to Jerusalem, dispensing to the saints.”
This is a reference to the monetary offering Paul had been collecting from his ecclesia amongst the nations in order to take to the poor saints in Jerusalem. This letter was written to Rome as he obviously wanted to go there and visit the brethren, he tells them he plans to come see them but first he must go to Jerusalem. But, when Paul arrives in Jerusalem and spends some time in the temple, doing a cleanse or purification ceremony and this caused a commotion among the Jews, he was arrested and which then begins the two year journey to Rome.
In Verses 26-29 As he continues to explain this offering, which is said to be a love offering, ministry, contribution or dispensation in other places. “For it delights Macedonia and Achaia to make some contribution for the poor of the saints who are in Jerusalem. For they are delighted and they are their debtors, for if the nations participate in their spiritual things, they ought to minister to them in fleshly things also. When then, performing this and sealing to them this fruit, I shall be coming away through you into Spain”
Now this term minister is misinterpreted…Paul was not evangelizing in Jerusalem…this ministering was with the fleshly things, the monetary gifts he had been collecting. How did Paul’s disciples participate in the spiritual things with the Jewish saints? By means of the dispensation of Holy Spirit…Paul and his disciples also displayed the gifts….and also Israel provided the Holy Scriptures of which we of the nations enjoy.
In the last few verses of Chapter 15 Paul expresses concern over how he will be treated when he arrives in Jerusalem, Verses 30-33 “Now I am entreating you, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the spirit, to struggle together with me in prayers to God for me, that I should be rescued from the stubborn in Judea, and my dispensation for Jerusalem may be becoming well received by the saints, that I may be coming to you with joy through the will of God, and I should be resting together with you. Now the God of peace be will all of you! Amen!” “my dispensation” again referring to the monetary offering he had collected for the saints in Jerusalem and not his evangel.
The King James in this passage says my service which I have for Jerusalem. It’s almost like the translators wanted it to sound like Paul was teaching or discipling in Jerusalem. As Paul leaves for this trip, he is warned of the troubles ahead but presses on and is also encouraged by Christ, Who told him that he would make it to Rome to give the witness of Him. Paul had intended to go from Jerusalem to Rome and then on to Spain but as we know, he was arrested in Jerusalem, sent to Caesarea and then on to Rome by boat, shipwrecked and then when he arrives in Rome, he is placed under house arrest for two years.
Acts 20-28 gives the account of this journey. When Paul gets to Rome and writes the prison epistles he makes it clear the pre-eminence of the Jew is over and thus all physical distinctions are done away with…and the Body of Christ is then solely in the spiritual realm, no longer partaking with the Jewish church or the gifts of Holy Spirit.
Romans 16 is our last chapter and has Paul closing this letter and so he makes mention of many of the saints close to him and his work with fellow Body members. In Verses 7-9 he says, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and my fellow captives who are notable among the apostles, who also came to be in Christ before me.” The Jewish church had only 12 apostles and so these apostles that Paul mentions are those who worked under him for the edifying of the saints called into the new administration through his evangel.
We have previously discussed the term, in Christ so will not go into depth here again. But some do wonder at how they could be in Christ before Paul if Saul was the first called into the Body of Christ? This would be hard to explain if we accept that term is only for the Body saints. As we discussed earlier it seems to apply to all saints who believe in Jesus Christ.
Those of his relatives in Christ before him…may have meant that they had known Jesus during His life and or were some of those who had been in the crowd which witnessed that Jesus had been resurrected as He did reveal Himself throughout the 40 days before He returned to heaven. Some of Paul’s relatives may have believed in Him as their messiah and later when Paul is called and severed and were then taught by Paul concerning his evangel.
Verse 17-19 Paul warns against those causing dissension. “Now I am entreating you, brethren, to be noting those who are making dissensions and snares beside the teaching which you learned, and avoid them, for such of our Lord Christ are not slaving, but for their own bowels, and through compliments and adulation are deluding the hearts of the innocent. For your obedience reached out to all. Over you, then, am I rejoicing”
Verses 19b, 20 “Now, I am wanting you to be wise, indeed, for good, yet artless for evil. Now the God of peace will be crushing Satan under your feet swiftly. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you!” Verses 21-24 gives greetings from Timothy, Luchius, Jason, Sosipater, his kinsmen and then it says, “I, Tertius, the writer of this epistle, salutes or greets you in the Lord. Greeting you is Erastus, the administrator of the city, and Quartus, the brother.” Tertius is the scribe who wrote for Paul and he added a postscript of his own.
I brought out earlier how it is thought by some that the epistle to the Romans ends here and that later after Paul wrote Ephesians, he added the last three verses concerning the secret. Bullinger states this in his notes and so shows this as the postscript or longer version beginning with Verses 25-27. Now Bullinger held to the Acts 28:25-28 viewpoint which is that Paul did not teach the secret about the Body of Christ until he writes of it in Ephesians. Since we have learned that is not so…perhaps he is also wrong about this being a postscript…so I checked to see if Knoch had anything to say about this.
In Knoch’s Commentary….he says nothing about the last three verses being added later…? Knoch’s notes sounds like he thought Paul added the last three verses himself after Tertullus the scribe had ended the letter with Paul’s postscript and then his own. I am not knowledgeable enough to decide who may be right…both sounding plausible.
My only thoughts are, as I have already expressed is that Bullinger held to the Acts 28 position and so he would not want Paul talking about the secret before Ephesians. If he did write of it here in the letter to the Romans he then wrote about the secret far earlier than the Acts 28 people would like. As that was the time period of Acts 20 and so that blows their foundation of when the Body of Christ began to bits. But it seems to me, we have been able to do that already through this study without needing the last three verses of Romans for support?
These are the verses in question as to when were they added to Romans, Verses 25-27 “Now to Him Who is able to establish you in accord with my evangel, and the heralding of Christ Jesus in accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested now and through prophetic scriptures, according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith obedience…to the only, and wise God, through Christ Jesus, be glory for the eons of the eons. Amen!”
Bullinger would have the prophetic scriptures referred to in these verses as being the prison epistles, while Knoch said, that they would be his own earlier writings, such a 2 Corinthians and Romans in which he does talk about and to the Body of Christ, as the new administration and if it was Romans, he did refer to the secret.
Now we also might look at Ephesians 3:1-7 “On this behalf, I Paul, the prisoner of christ Jesus for you, the nations…since you surely hear of the administration of the grace of God, that is given to me, for you, for by revelation the secret is made known to me according as I write before in brief, by which you who are reading are able to apprehend my understand in the secret of the Christ, which in others generations is not made known to the sons of humanity as it was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets …in sprit the nations are to be joint enjoyers of an allotment and a joint body and joint partakes of the promise in Christ Jesus through the evangel of which I became the dispenser in accord with the gratuity of the grace of God” So we might ask, where did he write before in brief concerning this secret given to him by revelation? Except perhaps Romans 16:25?
The Conclusions I have reached for, When the Body of Christ Began?
I have enjoyed this study, I hope the reader has also and like me feels that we have learned a lot? I have had in my mind for some time now, 19 years a basic outline of God’s Plan of the ages based on understanding Paul’s counsel for rightly dividing which enabled me to more fully grasp our evangel as being distinct from Israel’s very multifaceted evangel.
But the more I study and dig into the scriptures the more I see surfacing which is a fine tuning of my basic understanding. There are many intimate details which keep enhancing the basic outline and sometimes adjustments are needed when we see we have not had something correct or that our thoughts are a little off on a particular subject, but thankfully it seems that most of the time the details are enforcing what we already believe and so that is encouraging as we know we are on the right track.
So my conclusion based on this study is that the Body of Christ did not begin at Acts 2 or Acts 28. Perhaps, Acts 9 could be considered, since that is when Saul was chosen but at that time he did not know what his full evangel would be and he was not made an apostle then nor for some years and so when I think of the Body of Christ beginning I think of when Paul, is the apostle commissioned to take his evangel to the nations and that is after Acts 13.
We also do not read of him making disciples in the section between Acts 9 and Acts 13? We do know he was in Antioch for some time and of course and it was in Antioch that he was severed….He was called outside the land of Israel and for the most part stayed out of Judea.
Saul was told what his commission was to be at Acts 9 to go the nations, even kings and to the sons of Israel but there is no record at that time of what his evangel would be about or that he made any attempt to carry it out. Before Acts 13 he is referred to as Saul and he does not address himself as an apostle. It is after his severing that he is said to an apostle and he also begins to use his Gentile name of Paul, and so if we pick a place based on when he was severed by the Holy Spirit to go to the nations it would seem to be Acts 13:1-3.
We have talked about the absolute and the relative viewpoints and so I would have to say this is the relative or human viewpoint of when the Body of Christ began…because we are told in the absolute sense or the divine viewpoint, that the Body of Christ began at Ephesians 1:1-3 “We were chosen in Him before the disruption of the world.”
It also after his severing that we are told what Paul was heralding, which was something new at Acts 13:39 following his severing from Israel, is when he spoke of “justification out side the Mosaic Law for those who believe in Jesus Christ.” But, we must always remember that Paul tells us that in the absolute sense, the Body of Christ was chosen, foreordained from absolute is Gods viewpoint….while the relative is the human viewpoint.
A quick review of the differing views of when the Body of Christ began
Acts 2 is definitely out. This was the gathering of Jews in Jerusalem during the Sabbath, Passover and the following Holy days, Peter addressed his Jewish brethren…and those who responded to his speech and accepted that Jesus had indeed been their messiah…were added to the church begun by Jesus in his earthly ministry and the same church of which Peter was made the head of. That church is destined to be the bride of the lambkin in the Messianic Kingdom with Jesus Christ their messiah and King. Peter knew nothing of a new administration or of the church under Paul which is the Body of Christ.
So, Acts 9 is only a maybe….because it is said that is when Saul was called and graced….and since he was to become the Apostle Paul would not this be the place, but the key word, is that he will become the Apostle Paul but was not yet, that is years away. We read in Chapter 9 after Ananias comes and heals his blindness and he is baptized that he went into Damascus and proclaims Jesus as the Son of God and then it is said that he goes into Arabia for 3 years. Galatians 1:15-18
It seems he perhaps spent that time in seclusion, most likely doing some serious study with the help of the Holy Spirit…as he needed to get the correct understanding from the Holy Scriptures, and of the promises of the fathers and the prophets….which means prophecy for Israel. He may have also had access to the gospel accounts, Matthew Mark, Luke and John, if they were written earlier after Pentecost like we have discussed earlier as a likely possibility. It was seven years after Pentecost when Saul is called, and so that was plenty of time for the gospel accounts to be written and copied and be circulating among the Jewish churches and brethren.
Perhaps during that time he may have even received some revelations, but he does not state this when he gives the details of his calling and about his revelations from Christ. After his 3 years in Arabia, we are told that he goes to Jerusalem and spends 15 days with Peter, Galatians 1:18 says, “Thereupon after three years, I came up to Jerusalem to relate my story to Cephas and we are told that he did not see any others but Peter and the apostles and James the brother of Jesus. CLV.
The James account reads as though he did not meet the other apostles, that he met only with Peter and James. He did not visit with the Jewish brethren as he tells us this in, Verses 23,24 “Yet I was unknown by face to the ecclesias of Judea which are in Christ. Yet only they were hearing that He, Saul, who once was persecuting us, now is evangelizing the faith which once he ravages. And they glorified God in me.”
For me by what he tells us, this indicates that Saul was not heralding his evangel, which would be from direct revelations from Christ, but the evangel of Christ pertaining to him being the messiah of Israel and the Son of God. Which is what the Jewish bride church heralded to their brethren, they needed to repent, being of Israel, be baptized with John’s baptism and accept that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah, thus the very Christ or anointed One who was also the Son of God and could not return until Israel was restored.
At any rate, the first step for either church the bride or the Body of Christ was recognition of who Jesus was. So, for those who were Jews and or of Israelite heritage, repentance, baptism, and acknowledging that Jesus was the Christ was required. That was the foundation for both groups in the beginning. Nothing is said about Paul discipling before he is severed at Acts 13.
The beginning of the Body of Christ seem more likely after Acts 13 because as we have discussed, Saul is severed by Holy Spirit and sent to the nations in which lived many of the sons of Israel, as well as some Jews and Hellenized Jew, the Greeks many other nationalities, Gentiles were living in those other lands. This is where we first hear of Saul using his Gentile or Roman name of Paul and we see he is said to be an apostle for the first time in Chapter 14.
Serguis Paul is the first record of a Gentile discipled by Paul, and there is no mention of a baptism for this man in contrast to those of Israelite heritage who when discipled were then baptized. As we said earlier, it is at Acts 13:39, when he heralds justification outside the law of Moses for those who believe in Jesus Christ and so it would seem then that Paul is now heralding his evangel and dispensing grace to the nations as it is Grace that imparts justification without works. Since he is going to all the nations, it would seem then he is also dispensing the conciliation of which he later will write of in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
God was conciliated to all by the death of Jesus, but did it begin at the cross or with Paul’s becoming an apostle or not until it is announced by Paul in that first letter or was it just that it was not known of until Paul explains it? Let’s keep pondering these things.
The other question was when did the Grace dispensation begin, at Acts 9 or Acts 13 or even later? Some feel Acts 9, if we consider that Saul was graced…but when does he begin to dispense it or herald grace to those called into the Body of Christ? I don’t think that begins until later, since we see judgment being executed on the early believers. How does judgment fit with grace or conciliation? Is it possible the dispensation of Holy Spirit must end first? If so, when did it end? We will explore this more later on.
Or perhaps it does not until the dispensation of Holy Spirit ends. Does the Body of Christ begin with Saul as its first member, for me I don’t think so, at least officially, as he was not the apostle Saul? Also, as we have learned, Saul was called during the dispensation of Holy Spirit. Saul needed to prove himself to fellow Jews before he could take up his own apostleship and dispense the evangel given to him for the nations.
It is after Acts 13 that Paul writes at least four letters, which we have reviewed thus far, as the Apostle Paul he wrote to the ecclesias he had formed or visited in his travels before Acts 28. These letters may have been written in this order, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans. This would seem to be the time period in which Paul began his ministry for the Body of Christ and the new administration began.
We found in the four letters Paul wrote before Acts 28 much information which was indeed from his evangel. He first taught justification outside the Mosaic Law, and then of another resurrection, with a celestial glory and he spoke of the Body of Christ being a new administration. He spoke to them of the conciliation of the world and of the chosen believers.
He taught of the grafting in of the nations into the root of the Olive tree, which was Israel. He taught that those of the nations discipled by him were joint enjoyers of Christ’s allotment and that he had been given an evangel by means of direct revelations from Christ and thus is why he refers to it as my evangel. He alludes to the time he was stoned and left for dead, having seen the third heaven and the paradise earth.
If the last three verses, Romans 16:25-27 were written during Acts 20 then it is evident that Paul also spoke of the secret which had been hidden in God for the eons…before he wrote Ephesians. If not, written then but if those passages were added later as some say, it does not change the fact that those whom he discipled after Acts 13 as the Apostle Paul sent to the nations were in the Body of Christ and thus a new administration as they were told so in 1 Corinthians and they were told of the terrestrial glory versus the celestial glory in Chapter 15…why would Paul go in such detail and speak of the celestial glory if his disciples had not bee told who they were and of their calling to the celestial ream.
We have seen in our review of those four letters that he wrote of many things which are particular to his evangel and from the revelations that he received. I find it hard to believe when he was with them in person that he would not have explained his evangel in depth and more completely or that they would not have a ton of questions for him, just as you and I have had in seeking to understand our own evangel.
I also find it hard to conceive they did not have more information of their own calling separate from their fellow Jews, since they were being persecuted by the Judaisers for following Paul or how could they have resisted those who were seeking to pull them away from what Paul taught them? And this did seem to have happened even while Paul was yet alive as he does speak of those in Asia who left him.
It certainly happened, big time, after his death…the Catholic Church is the end result of the Judaisers having infiltrated and corrupted Paul’s exclusive evangel with the mixing of grace with the Jewish evangel of faith and works. The Catholic Church also adhered to the Old Israeli system of worship through, buildings like temples and with men as priests acting as mediators between God and the saint and also with the Jewish temple rituals, candles, incense and etc. Paul’s evangel was meshed into Peters and thus lost from sight was its uniqueness with the Judaisers claiming to follow Jesus but were apostatizing the Jewish church, insisting on holding onto the Mosaic Law with its rituals and thereby seeking to corrupt Paul’s evangel.
And so, Acts 28 does not fit for me, It does not seem to be when the new administration began, Israel was not divorced at this juncture…what ended was following the rule To the Jew first …Paul gave his last witness to the Jewish religious leaders at Rome when he first arrives and was placed under house arrest for two years he then writes to the ecclesias he had already established through his evangel in his missionary journeys and whose members were of the Body of Christ. His prison epistles gave them more details of the spiritual entity that they were called into and which was then in full operation, the dispensation of Holy Spirit had ended.
I find no evidence that the Body of Christ did not begin until Acts closes or after Paul writes his prison epistles…it seems to me the prison epistles are revealing deeper truths concerning the Body of Christ to those saints who no longer would have the spiritual endowments or gifts of healing, tongues, prophecy and etc. Those saints discipled by him would then be growing in maturity and coming to understand that they are a spiritual entity as they are indwelt with God’s Spirit to aid them in faith and understanding of His Word.
Paul explains to them in Ephesians 1:1-3 of the spiritual blessings that they then possessed which far exceeded any of the physical gifts they had been given for a time. It would be understandable for them to be upset to lose those gifts and especially as they were proud of them in a wrong way as we can read of Paul having to counsel them on their misuse and wrong attitudes. Humans are soulish and do not like change and or t let go of something they are proud of very easily. Paul wanted them to understand that being given every spiritual blessing in the celestials, sharing Christ’s allotment in heaven far exceeded anything they possessed on this earth.
Also that they would never lose their calling to the celestial real or lose these spiritual blessing which can would not be taken from them. The saint called into Paul’s evangel is secure and the earnest of the spirit was their guarantee of a full payment on the Day of Christ when they, we will be roused and changed and rise from this earth to meet our Lord in the Air…..referred to as the rapture or snatching away. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. We will discuss the snatching away in depth later on in this article.
So as we have discussed repeatedly in this Supplement, the reasons why I find it hard to accept the teaching that Israel was made ammi, meaning His People again in covenant relationship, after her 70 years in Babylon and thus needed to be divorced again before God could begin the new administration, which is the Body of Christ. We need to harmonize in our minds what happened when they were released from Babylonian captivity and some returned to Jerusalem to rebuild.
It was estimated to be about 5% and from the two tribe kingdom of Judah. The entire 12 tribes did not return and never have yet. Ezra and Nehemiah were faithful priests to Jehovah and of course wanted their holy city and temple rebuilt. So some of Judah adhering to the Mosaic Law even though they were not the restored nation of Israel. But when the faithful priests died there were few like them that would keep the worship pure. When we read Malachi we see they were again acting disrespectful to Jehovah, offering up lame and sick lambs for sacrifice.
Jehovah honors those who seek him, as He said, I always have a faithful remnant and so it would seem that in a small way the two tribe kingdom of Judah based in Jerusalem did receive a measure of favor from Jehovah because of and while there were those who sought to be faithful and tried to restore pure worship. But their history after their Babylonian captivity shows much warfare and struggles with the Gentiles powers that came and went right on down to the days of Jesus; they were under the Roman rule.
Also, the Jewish religious leaders were in so much error, having split into several sects, but claiming to serve Jehovah. Those Jews or Judah from John the Baptist forward were especially offered the opportunity to repent and to accept the truth through their own messiah and later through his chosen apostles.
If as I suspect, Israel was still lo ammi when Jesus came and that John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the arrival of their Messiah by calling those of Israel to repent in preparation of some being chosen during His ministry, called to become the bride of the Lambkin in the Messianic Kingdom. Jehovah would not be selecting a bride if Isabel was His wife.
Later at Pentecost, Peter also heralded the need for those of Israel to repent and following the instructions given by Jesus before His ascension into heaven they and were heralding Him as the messiah in the land of Judea and to their Jewish brethren in Samaria because the Samaritans were half Jewish. But they were not aggressively going to the nations either to Gentiles in them or too their Israelite brethren who had deflected to the nation some 500 years ago and remained there.
So, if Israel remained lo ammi this whole time, she then would have still been lo ammi when Saul was called 7 years later after Jesus died and left his apostles when Saul was called. Also, lo ammi when Saul was severed 14-17 years later beginning his commission to the nations as the Apostle Paul. It was agreed upon that He would go to the Uncircumcision, which included the sons of Israel living amongst the nations in order to begin a new administration founded solely on Grace. Thus Paul did not have to wait until after Acts 28 for Israel to be divorced again nor do I feel that he waited till then to teach his disciples the evangel he had been given through letters……until after Acts 28.
Hopefully we have answered the question of what it would seem occurred in Acts 28? If Israel was already lo ammi…then it was not the casting away or divorcing of her again. And as we have discussed the Pentecostal era was not a time of offering the kingdom to Israel with the possibility that Christ would then return. If we take in all prophecy given for Israel’s restoration it is clear that it was not possible for Christ to return and set up His kingdom in that generation at all. God had other plans but without understanding rightly dividing most have missed what truly happened in those days and what is foretold for the future.
The Body of Christ or the new administration was not an afterthought or Plan B on God’s part because of Israel’s rejection of their messiah with God then deciding to turn to the nations. No, we have seen the scriptures show that Israel would and could not respond, Isaiah 6 is just one of many prophecies which foretell this.
That time was instead given to Israel as a witness, Jehovah being faithful to the promises given the fathers, and thus the dispensation of Holy Spirit was the third and final witness to the religious leaders of Israel or more correctly those of Judaism. The bride church heralded Jesus to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and in every city in the land of Israel.
And then, we have Paul, a Jew, also called out of Israel and who years later, heralded Jesus outside the land of Israel going first to the Jewish synagogues in each city he entered and then to those of Israelite heritage from the so called, lost tribes of Israel. So as I said earlier they were given a three fold witness concerning the arrival of their own messiah as foretold in their very own scriptures.
It was proven for them through their own Prophetic Word that Jesus as foretold had come and died and also through the signs and miracles, Jesus and then by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 12 Apostles Jesus had chosen for his future bride of the lambkin and then also by Paul…God also choosing a remnant by choice for the new administration out of Israel. God was faithful to Israel; It is Abrahams, seed, as promised, a remnant was taken out of Israel for both churches, the bride of the Lambkin to rule on earth and another remnant, called out of Israel to begin the new administration, the Body of Christ who are called to rule in heaven!
The dispensation of Holy Spirit began at Pentecost and was still active years later, when Christ chose Saul and commissions him to be the Apostle to the nations for the purpose of creating the new administration. It is said that Paul’s miracles out did those of Peters. Both churches are based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and began during the outpouring of Holy Spirit with signs and miracles and its gifts or spiritual endowments.
The signs were required by the Jews but they rejected them also. The Pentecostal denominations of today ignore that Paul said the gifts would cease and in fact that Paul later on when the dispensation of Holy Spirit was over and the Grace dispensation was taking over, he was no longer able to heal himself or others as proven by things he said in his later letters.
The purpose for the dispensation of Holy Spirit, in what is also called the Pentecostal era was not to restore Israel as a Kingdom or nation at that time but to give Israel its final witness before the new administration takes over for God. The Nation of Israel, were given their three witnesses.
The First witness, by Jehovah as their Husbandly owner and as their Father, which that nation as a whole rejected Him and His Covenant and thus after many, many years of their unfaithfulness, the divorce happened as was foretold it would, at Hosea 1:9. That divorce severed the husbandly relationship but not that of Jehovah still being their God or of His being faithful to the promises He gave to their fathers. Those promises began with the first promise Jehovah gave to Abraham….which was that his seed, would become a great nation, Israel and it would be used by Jehovah to bless all families of the earth.
The Second witness is when He/Jehovah comes as the humble man, Jesus their messiah, to redeem them from their failure as a nation and taking on the role of a Son, a pattern for that nation. As the Son of God He proved with many signs and fulfillment of prophecy that He was their messiah, but He too was rejected by the so called religious Jewish leaders who actively sought his death fulfilling their own scriptures.
The Third witness came after His rejection and death; he was raised on the third day and He himself promised and He walked the in Judea for 40 days and was seen by 100’s of people. He promised to send the comforter to His few faithful followers after He returned to heaven, and faithful to His word to them, He sends the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to demonstrate; through signs, gifts and miracles given to the 12 Apostles in demonstration that the Jesus whom they followed was indeed their messiah and was the Son of God. Those who believed that day and in the days which followed were added to the church Jesus began which is the bride church and not the Body of Christ as is taught in error by all of Christendom.
So the rule was followed, through the mouth of two or three witnesses were they to believe…as well as the rule to the Jew first as the heralding began in Jerusalem and the land of Judea, They were offered the chance to repent and accept Jesus as their messiah and Lord and if faithful they would take part in the promised blessings, those on the earth for the bride church, to rule and reign in the Messianic kingdom.
That same Holy Spirit dispensation continued and worked with Saul and remains with him when he becomes the apostle to the nations…as Paul. We are going to have to reconcile in our minds that the first members of the Body of Christ were mainly Israelites saved through the work of the Holy Spirit. Because they were called out of the lo ammi nation of Israel they first received a pardon of sin having to repent, and were baptized with water as a sign of that repentance….and they also received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul then teaches them of justification outside the Law of Moses and of a spiritual baptism and of every spiritual blessing in the celestial…going from the flesh to the spirit.
Paul prepares them for the ending of those gifts in his very first letter, telling them the spiritual endowments or gifts for the new administration in its infancy as a minor…but, that when maturity comes the church would become a spiritual entity. Those from Israel honored by God to be the first members into both groups….the bride for the lambkin and the Body of Christ. WE need to keep in mind that these letters were copied and circulated amongst all the ecclesia…they were a body, a unit of believers called into a new administration under Paul’s apostleship and so they all would need to understand these things.
He also gave counsel on how those who were or had been Jews, practicing Judaism as well as the sons of Israel who had not been practicing Judaism but had been in idolatry, were being called into his evangel and how they were to fellowship with one another. No divisions, no schisms, they were on equal ground as also were they with any true Gentiles. He teaches them, that they are a unit; one body…equals all were pre expectant in Christ and were being given the same spiritual blessings in the celestials.
So, the question then, is what happened after Acts 28 as we have discussed there are differing views but it seems to me that instead of Israel being cast away as a nation and becoming lo ammi, or divorced again, as is taught by some and by others cast away permanently. No, instead it was the end of the dispensation of Holy Spirit and of following the rule to the Jew first. The final witness had been given, the bride church was established and thus the end of heralding Jesus as the messiah to the religious leaders of Israel was over.
As we learned, Paul also followed that rule and heralded the evangel of Christ to his fellow Jewish leaders as well as the evangel of God and after Acts 13, he began to herald his evangel given to him through revelations and still, he would herald Jesus to the Jewish leaders in their synagogues in each city he entered. Before his arrest in Jerusalem in Acts 21 and his arrival in Rome, two years later brings us to Acts 28.
Paul had traveled in many countries making disciples and founding ecclesias, his next work was to bring those ecclesias who are the Body of Christ to maturity. His chains or being in prison, symbolized as physical restraint, the flesh was no more. Those chains forced him to write, the prison epistles, being with the disciples in spirit. And exactly where we are today, Christ is with us in Spirit and Paul is with us in spirit through the study of his life and his letters. Paul’s early letters take them from the physical realm an immature state as a minor…the infancy of the new administration…..to the writing of his prison epistles and into the spiritual realm of maturity which is ours today as a spiritual entity.
Paul’s ministry had been one crisis after another a constant struggle with his own brethren and at times even with the gentiles as his evangel turned many away from idolatry to Christ. The traditional Jew wanted him dead and the Jewish, “Christian” believers tried to corrupt those Paul whom had discipled. They infiltrated his ecclesia, telling them they could only be saved and have a closer relationship to Christ by following the Mosaic Law and being circumcised. Paul’s letters from prison now contained the meat; his disciples would need to fully appreciate their higher calling….from the Mosaic Law with its rituals to the celestial realms.
Kinda sounds familiar, doesn’t it…? The denominations down through the centuries have done the same things to the Body of Christ. They watered down Paul’s evangel and by not understating the grace the Body of Christ is given in justification as they fight to add Law to Grace still today!
The Catholic Church and its sects actually took up the sword and killed those who would not accept their version of Who and What Christ did on the cross, despicable behavior and in the name of Christ! Christendom combined the Jewish or Israeli evangel into Paul’s evangel by adding in the requirements which were for Israel only of needing to repent and to be baptized, arguing over whether to sprinkle or dunking ignoring that Paul said, one baptism, that which is a spirit baptism. 1 Corinthians 12:12,13 Ephesians 4:5.
Christendom fights to keep the 10 Commandments enforced which is only part of the Mosaic Law and forgetting the breaking of one meant the breaking of the whole Law, forgetting as well those Laws belonging to Israel in the flesh and that gentile nations were never in the Law Covenant and so not judged by them. Christendom also is guilty of accepting Pagan doctrines that the blind Jewish religious leaders of Israel had adopted from their time of living in Babylon and under the Persian influence, such as Hellfire and Immortal souls or spirits living on after death, the worship of multiple gods.
Thus we find Christendom’s version of these errors, the Trinity Doctrine which was 50 years bloody fight to establish it in the Catholic church. The creed written up puts forth the dire warning of any not accepting the Trinity would be punished in the mythical place of Hellfire. Those sects broke away from Catholic held to that and other false doctrines out of fear of Hellfire.
Christendom teaches that Jesus taught hellfire which is a twisting of scripture as the facts put forth in a thorough study will reveal that Jesus confronted the religious leaders with a series of five parables, which were aimed at them and their false teachings. The Pharisees were standing in the crowd listening to Him, dressed in their purple robes, Jesus was speaking to them and through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus told them, that they were losing their cherished place in Abraham’s bosom and that the common man of Israel was being placed there in their place.
He was poking fun at them by telling them they were the ones going to the mythical place of torment that they were teaching in order through fear keep them submissive to them. He turned their own myths around on them…and they hated him for it and today, Christendom in her blindness just doesn’t get it! They continue to follow the blindness of Israel’s leaders.
Without the apostles, those 10’s of thousands of Jewish believers James had bragged on to Paul about, who he said had come to believe in Jesus Christ but were zealous for the law also, which was apostasy from the work on the cross already, unfortunately held to many of their false beliefs and are what we see today still being taught in every denomination and sect of Christendom.
All claiming to follow Jesus and yet are steeped in the same pagan doctrines and errors as was Israel. The apostasy began even before Paul died as he says many have left him and he in the role of a Prophet points out in his letters to Timothy warning of the lies and myths which would corrupt the new administration. 1 Timothy 4:1-8, 2 Timothy 3:1-17
But, we must always remember that God sees to it that He has a faithful remnant…and if we have been set free from bondage and doctrinal error pervading Christendom, let us show our appreciation through continued thanksgiving and study making sure we continue our search for truth and freedom from error. I enjoyed going through thee first four letters so much that I had thought that I would go through the rest of Paul’s letters and add them into this supplement, but it has gotten so big I have changed my mind. I think I will try and do a Second Supplement on the Prison epistles and Paul’s personal letters.
In the articles following this study, will be the list of quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures by those who wrote the gospel accounts and epistles in what is called the New Testament as well as promised, the article written by Ted McDivitt on “When were the Thessalonian letters Written” and “The Original Bible Restored” by Ernest L. Martin. Also the article by A.E. Knoch, “In Christ and in the Lord” and a short article I did on “Are we given our Faith”
I want to next add the list of “secrets” taught by Paul as promised earlier. Also, I want to discuss something said in the Concordant Commentary, that Paul had three ministries before Rome, the writing of the prison epistles was his fourth?
I at first wondered if this was, the three evangels, the evangel of God, the evangel of Christ and as Paul said, my evangel? But it seems Knoch felt Paul had four ministries, so we will look at that and then a review of the different evangels, baptisms and close with the differing views on the rapture or snatching away of the Body of Christ.
I asked several questions when we began this study on When Did the Body of Christ Begin because in going through all these technicalities I also began to wonder if the dispensation of Grace and the Conciliation of thaw world were related to the beginning of the new administration, which is the Body of Christ as Paul was the one to write of and explain these things.
So, when did the Grace dispensation and the conciliation of the world begin?