The first four letters Paul wrote fall within the time frame of Acts 19 and 20. I know I have already briefly touched on some of the things Paul said in them which seem to indicate the Body of Christ began after his severing in Acts 13 but I thought it would be good to do a more in depth look into each of these letters since they were written before Acts 28 and in the order written, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Romans.
First on the order of when these letters were written, which is not how they are arranged in our Bibles, but when I read them through in the order I listed them it seems to be easy to see the progression of the counsel or explanations of doctrine given, getting stronger with each succeeding letter.
As I go through these first four letters I see Paul writing in more depth, with a progression of instructions in speaking to the Body of Christ in its infancy as he uses the terms of a babe or as minors in the Corinthians letters to stronger counsel, perhaps as the saints are maturing….we must consider the adjustments they needed to make in their beliefs…whether of Israelite heritage or those of the gentile nations leaving behind what was false.
Also these letters were written during the dispensation of Holy Spirit, which means those saints having certain gifts, like healing, tongues, prophesy would find them taken away…that would be hard for the soulish nature to handle. Paul must prepare them for what appealed to the soulish nature ceasing and their place in Gods family would be solely in the spiritual realm. Faith that they were okay with God, can we see why, this faith must be given them…an inward believing and strength as they would no longer have the visible evidences? Romans 12:3b “God parts to each the measure of faith.”
After Acts 28 and while Paul is in Rome, he writes the prisons epistles and the dispensation of Holy Spirit is over, the rule to the Jew first has ended and Paul’s evangel, the new administration with its dispensation of Grace and message of conciliation is reigning and so he then can teach far more of the spiritual nature of the saints called into the Body of Christ. I feel that when he does write Ephesians and Colossians those letters are not a sudden proclamation coming to them with information they had never heard of before but those letters make public proclamation of his evangel.
But let’s go back in time after Paul’s severing in Acts 13 and his travels amongst the nations, Paul starting up ecclesias in the cities he and his helpers visit. The dispensation of Holy Spirit is still operating and so Paul heals and expels or rebukes demons and many in those nations, turn back to Jehovah. He hears of problems with the ecclesia in Corinth and so Paul writes to them, we have two of those letters as it is thought there may have been a third letter, but was lost or discarded by Paul. We will discuss that shortly.
What we want to recognize is the counsel in these two letters to Corinth was to an immature church or as Paul refers to them as minors and again I feel important to remember, they were in the dispensation of Holy Spirit…so some things Paul says to them would not apply to us today, just as the spiritual gifts of healing, prophesy, tongues and etc do not. We need to always keep our rightly dividing tool handy.
In the letter to the Galatians he seems to get stronger with his counsel and then the letter to the Romans seems so much more legal and detailed, that I cannot imagine it being his first letter. So as I read them in this order it seems to me that Paul gives more doctrinal information, in each succeeding letter, building precept on precept, slowly adding more and more details with information from the revelations he had received from Christ which he says were the secrets. The leaders of the Jewish bride church would only be privy to this information directly from Paul or those he had discipled and taught. This is why I believe it was essential that Saul be called during the dispensation of Holy Spirit as a Jew and that later as the apostle Paul, his credentials needed to be proven by that dispensation’s rules also. None of the 12 or elders in Jerusalem challenged him, it was their disciples the Judaisers after his severing and who went to his ecclesia amongst the nations seeking to discredit him and his evangel of grace. These Judaziers of course were not following the leadership of their own apostles and elders correctly by this and clinging to the Mosaic Law.
The Secrets concerning the new administration which was a joint body of saints from all nations and called the Body of Christ were revealed only to Paul and so he would be writing only to his disciples and so his letters were copied and circulated to the surrounding ecclesias. We are not to suppose that only the Corinthians had these problems, such as sectarianism just as we know these problems are common even today amongst the multitude of denominations?
We are also going to try to understand what counsel was given by Paul that we, today are to leave with that early church during the dispensation of Holy Spirit. We today, are in the full dispensation of Grace and Conciliation which means what was physical and what was given to Israel as signs are to be left behind. Once we understand that the early members of the Body of Christ were predominately Jewish or of Hebrew heritage as the sons of Israel, we then can understand why the Jewish nature of much of what Paul said in those early letters. Knowing this should make these first 4 letters more understandable….plus we are looking for more clues and hints as to what he was teaching his disciples and were they the Body of Christ.
Let’s do a brief review of some of the basics we have discussed before beginning the first
letter otherwise referred to as an epistle written to the Corinthians.
We want to remember that there was more than one secret given to Paul to reveal. Either that or separate pieces to one large one as we might ask do they all relate to one another? The complete list of the many secrets spoken of in Paul’s letters will be in the back of this manual, please refer to the index for the page number The new ecclesias discipled by Paul and his helper apostles throughout the missionary journeys he made most definitely would need more instruction and so his letters would have been copied by scribes and circulated to them by those who were helping Paul.
When reading through the historical account of Paul’s travels given by Luke in Acts we have seen that he was opposed by both the Jewish leaders rejecting Jesus as the Christ as well as many of the Jewish believers in Jesus as they did not want to give up the Mosaic Law and circumcision. Some of the self imposed leaders of these believers in Jerusalem traveled into territory not assigned to them and tried to turn Paul’s disciples from him.
We also read in Paul’s travels that some Gentiles opposed him because he taught the vanity of idols and idol worship. Idol making or the crafting of idols was a big business and those Gentiles discipled by Paul were giving up their idols and so that meant a loss of income to the artisans whose livelihood depended on their crafting and selling of those idols.
Also, I believe many of the sons of Israel living in those nations, were also still involved with idolatry and Paul’s comments would apply to them. Keeping in our minds, our question concerning Israel’s lo ammi status. If Israel was lo ammi then she would be viewed by God as Gentiles or as peoples of the nations and definitely they would be considered Gentiles by the Jerusalem Jews, as they were of the kingdom of Judah, the religious element holding to the Mosaic Law practicing Judaism.
I feel somehow, that we do not completely understand the complexity of all these elements existing at that time, with the 12 tribes in their split condition. I feel as long as they are split that is evidence they were still lo ammi, Not His People. But that term is in relation to the covenant relationship…in the absolute sense they always remain His People.
As we discussed in the lo ammi section, that separation between the 10 and 2 tribes continued even with Jerusalem and her temple being rebuilt by Ezra and Nehemiah once freed from Babylon by the king of Persia, the then world empire under which Israel was still answering too. How would those of the kingdom of Judah view the 10 tribes called Israel who had left them and the worship of Jehovah and the Mosaic Law going after other gods, thus were in idolatry? The majority of the Hebrews in those 10 tribes had not returned to the fold so to speak? I believe, the Judaiser would consider them to be of the nations, or as gentiles, in the Hebrew, the name of Goyim was used for the Gentile or those of the nations as heathens.
In reading the Acts account and of how every element of that society persecuted Paul, we can see how the Lords words foretelling Paul’s ministry were fulfilled over and over, when He said that Paul would suffer for His name sake! Paul was opposed at every turn of the road and yet he never wavered in his commission; God knew what he was doing when He chose and called Saul to be the Apostle Paul for the Body of Christ.
What else was Paul teaching that the Judaisers could not comprehend? Well if he was teaching the secret hidden in God, and that he was heading up a new administration to replace Israel for a season with a celestial calling to heaven…that certainly would have been outrageous to the Judaisers whose tradition and heritage was the earthly kingdom and their pious attitude linked to Israel’s special relationship to Jehovah. That opposition by fellow believers in Jesus Christ as messiah proves Paul was teaching new and different things they could not understand as it was not given them to understand a calling they were no part of!
Paul and those under him would most certainly have been discipling Jews in those distant countries, we read of a couple in Acts as well as those of the dispersed 10 tribes and also the true Gentiles in those nations. This is why Paul teaches, about a joint body in his early letters without using that specific term but that from all nationalities God was choosing members through his evangel forming the Body of Christ.
And most definitely the mainstream traditional Jews who would not accept the basic message of Jesus having indeed been their Messiah they would not condone what Paul was teaching, especially the Jewish leaders as the Acts account shows us they were outraged that Paul was teaching that not only was Jesus the very Christ, but that those who believed in Him were given justification outside the Law of Moses and circumcision was no longer a badge of honor….so, over and over they sought to have him killed.
Obviously we can see the importance of rightly dividing Gods word and how Paul’s evangel must be separated from Israel’s. It is clear when we follow that rule for Biblical interpretation we see that God had another program planned from before the world was, Paul tells us this at Ephesians 1:3. What I have come to see while doing this study is that the Body of Christ began with Jews and Israelites from the 10 tribes as the sons of Israel and these were its first members along with Gentiles also being added in.
After Acts 28 and while Paul is, under house arrest for two years in Rome, the ecclesias started by Paul and his helper apostles become his primary focus and he could only continue to minister and bring them to maturity through letter and so during that time he wrote what are called the prison or perfection epistles and they would of course be copied and circulated amongst his ecclesia. Why even the church under Peter must have read them as Peter comments on the things Paul teaches as hard to comprehend in his letter to those of the dispersion at 2 Peter 3:16.
Which is interesting in itself, as I have read where some feel Peter was writing to Paul’s disciples to encourage them because of the opposition by the Judaisers, while others feel he was writing to the Jews in dispersion of his bride church and Peter was referring to the letter written to the Hebrews with Paul as its author. While others feel Peter was referring to the letters written by Paul to the new administration. These thoughts need to be looked into more deeply, but a few thoughts I have on them are, first why would Paul’s letters be sent to those in the bride church, as they would not be able to understand them because it did not fit with their evangel.
Also in relation to those who feel Paul is not the author of Hebrews as Knoch and many concordant people will say I have to ask why not? Was not his commission to the sons of Israel which includes the practicing Jew as well as the wayward Israelites? Does not the letter to the Hebrews thoroughly explain how Jesus Christ is their messiah and had fulfilled the Law of Moses for those of Israelite heritage….no matter which church they are in?
Did not Paul have a burden for his own nation so much so that he stated he would give up his calling if it would save his brethren? The concordant opposition is based on rightly dividing Jews from Gentiles but as we have learned…the new administration began with a remnant of Israelites and Paul followed the rule to the Jew first…so why wouldn’t he write a letter to help Jews understand fully what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross?
Now that I have a deeper appreciation for the correct wording, ethnos, meaning people of the nations and that it is not entirely correct to say Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews or the Hebrews. For these and other reasons I am wondering about the author of Hebrews.
So I began to ask myself questions, such as who but Paul completely understood GRACE and Conciliation and the place of both churches in God’s Plan of the Ages? Peter by his own admission could not entirely comprehend Paul’s evangel. So I have wondered who but Paul was qualified to write the letter to the Hebrews. I am working on an article presenting both sides to see if I can fully understand if Paul was the author.
Getting back to the first four letters Paul write, his deep concern for these new believers is shown when reading them and especially by the prayers he offered in Ephesians 3:14-19. Paul so wanted them to understand the breadth, length, height and depth of their calling in order to be completed for the entire complement of God.
If Paul only went to and discipled Gentiles into the Body of Christ then why would there be the abundance of counsel given by him which applies to those of Jewish heritage? Those of Jewish heritage or the sons of Israel were being called into the Body of Christ and needed to be reeducated. First they needed to understand that, Christ fulfilled the Law on the cross; He had redeemed them from it and the death it dealt.
So, the Law of Moses, circumcision, rituals and creeds were no longer applicable to them. Also, they needed to learn that they were equals with Gentiles, no longer above them in Gods eyes. The Gentiles would not need to be given that counsel; theirs would have to do with the religions they came from, with its idol worship, prostitution, eating of blood and the arts of witchcraft. But we must leave our minds open in that, those of Israel living in the nations outside of the land of Israel and were Hebrews as the descendants of the 10 tribes which had turned away from Jehovah 500 years earlier…they of course would also have also been involved in the religions of those nations…!
So as I have said before, I believe all those discipled by Paul and the apostles under him whether they were Jews, sons of Israel or Gentiles in the true sense were being called into the Body of Christ and the first members were primarily of Israel, as Paul followed the rule, “to the Jew first.”
We might now review what Paul said, at Romans 11:5 “a remnant chosen according to grace.” I must admit that I had always thought he was referring to the remnant called out of Israel into the Jewish church Jesus began, but now it seems to me he would have been referring to the remnant of Jews called out of Israel into the Body of Christ!
In my discussion with the Acts 28 teacher, I could not understand why she discounted the grace dispensation almost as though it were not something special as she said to me, “all who are saved are saved in Grace!” Well in the absolute sense, yes that is true, but in the relative sense; God has ordained different programs for different times…all with the same goal in view…which is of course the salvation of all. This same Acts 28 teacher also did not accept the Salvation of All and even though she professed to understand rightly dividing…her interpretation of when to rightly divide was applied by her to the dividing of Paul’s letters at Acts 28.
According to her, those letters written before Acts 28 have nothing in them about the Body of Christ and only those written afterwards do. She also held to Free Will and did not understand, Who it is doing the choosing and for when those of humanity come to believe. As we understand because of rightly dividing that all do not come to believe at the same time or through the same administration.
The Salvation for all humanity and the reconciliation of His Universe is Gods ultimate goal, but in relation to those of Israel who followed Jesus into His kingdom church, we see the procedure was first repentance; We read that when they as individual Jews repented, they received the pardon of sins but were we ever told if they too were justified, in other words acquitted of sin? If so, then they could suffer no loss and that does not seem to be what the evangel begun by Jesus for the bride in the kingdom, as they were told over and over they must be faithful or suffer loss. Not of their salvation but of ruling and reigning with Christ.
Did we not learn that a pardon could be revoked and thus those in the church begun by Jesus and governed by the 12 Apostles could lose their calling to rule and reign in the earthly kingdom with Jesus Christ if unfaithful? Yes we did, and yet we have also seen that Jews, as Saul was, of the two tribe kingdom, Judah and Benjamin and also those of the sons of Israel, in dispersion amongst the other nations called into the Body of Christ, were also baptized with John’s baptism and also had received a pardon of sin first…but then Paul says that they were also justified…! There may be more to Paul’s words of Israel being made jealous? These things all need further understanding…but for now, let’s continue ….
Hopefully we understand why water baptism was not given to Gentiles; in particular John’s baptism, because it was for those of Israel, guilty of Israel’s national sin which had brought about their divorcement from Jehovah centuries earlier. This required baptism also seems to show me that the nation was still lo ammi. Later in Paul’s letters written after Acts 28 there is no mention of water baptism for anyone coming to be in Christ. In those letters, called the perfection epistles, Paul takes them out of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm and speaks only of the spiritual baptism into Christ.
As we were reading this section over last Sunday…the thought came to my mind, perhaps this is why Jesus went to John and was baptized? John did not think He needed to be baptized as he knew He was without sin. I have heard several reasons given as to why it is thought that Jesus did get baptized….but what came to my mind was in relation to the nation of Israel being lo ammi…thus it was a corporate sin. Jesus born into that nation as an Israelite man and thus bearing the national sin followed procedure and was baptized by John who protested as he knew Jesus was without sin. This is certainly something to consider?
We also have heard so much, of how the kingdom was being offered to Israel and the Body of Christ could not begin until that offering was over. Again the premise of that statement is based on the assumption that Israel had become ammi (His People) when the 70 years of captivity and desolation to Babylon had ended and thus the Body of Christ could not begin until she was cast away again. These things just do not fit for me and I have tried to show why in this article. Change the premise, to that of Israel having remained lo ammi all along and there is no longer the need to wait till Acts 28 for Israel to be cast away!
Also the understanding that there was no chance of the kingdom being established in those days removes that impediment to the beginning of the Body of Christ happening much earlier than is being taught.
With John the Baptist paving the way for Jesus with his baptism for the repentance of Israel’s sin that meant Israel was being heralded, the need for repentance long before they killed their own messiah. So the question then comes up, what ceased at Acts 28 or what changed? The Jew no longer held pre eminence; the rule to the Jew first was over as well as the dispensation of Holy Spirit no more signs for the Jews.
Paul was then confined in his own hired house in Rome and was the last city that he gave the evangel of Christ to Jewish leaders. This seems to be so, also by the Lords words to Paul in Acts 23:11 “Now the ensuing night, standing by him, the Lord said, Courage! For as you certify to that which concerns Me in Jerusalem, thus you must testify in Rome also.” Rome was to be his last stop as far as going to the Jewish leaders first with the evangel of Christ. Paul called the Jewish leaders to meet with him and in Acts 28 we read of his final witness to them.
Paul had given the witness to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and amongst all the nations that he visited, proclaiming that Jesus was their messiah and had come and had suffered and died but rose and will return when all of Israel repents. The power of God had been manifested on all the Apostles called out of Israel and who were proclaiming the evangel of Christ, that power gave the signs, required by the Jews as proof that their message and commission was from Jehovah their God. It is evident that both groups of saints, both churches began with men of Israel and their common evangel was, the evangel of Christ, of Jesus being the Christ.
Peter and the 11 were discipling the bride for the lambkin for the kingdom to come which will be on this earth when He returns and they are going to be raised out of the dust to rule and reign with Him. While, Paul and his helper apostles were discipling the sons of Israel living amongst the nations as well as Greeks and other Gentiles. A joint body, forming the new administration, and said to be the Body of Christ and who leave behind their earthly heritage as they are called to share Christ’s allotment in the heavenly kingdom.
Paul now focused on the ecclesia’s which he had discipled, writing his letters and taking them into the depths of his evangel founded on the revelations he received from Christ. His focus no longer would have been on the Jewish leaders but on the new administration as the called apostle for it.
So, for those who say that the ecclesias that Paul began in his early years of ministry amongst the nations were not already the Body of Christ….does not fit for me either. To also say that they did not understand Paul’s evangel to some extent also does not make any sense. They were being persecuted by the Jewish church for not believing the same things, to resist they needed to know what they believed?
Peter and Paul’s messages were both based on the fact that Jesus was the Christ and His work on the cross but after that they each take a different path in doctrine. I do not see where we are able to draw a line within Paul’s letters, some for us and some not? Yes, we do need to rightly divide within them, as many things said by Paul and counsel given by him was given to Jewish saints or those of Israelite heritage and of course does not apply to us as Gentiles, as we were never in the Mosaic covenant with Jehovah. Also Paul said some things such as the gifts would cease and they did along with the associated judgments which are evidence Grace was not yet fully reining…judgment associated with the dispensation of Holy Spirit.
I think we also need to understand the differences with the methods for salvation given to those called into the church Jesus began and who are destined for the kingdom on this earth from those discipled by Paul for the Church of the One Body and who are destined for the kingdom in heaven. We should take a closer look at the meanings of mercy and grace.
Was it grace or mercy when the Father opened the eyes of a remnant of Jews and as Jesus said His ministry was to the lost Sheep of the House of Israel? Again, His words give us a clue that Israel was lost, and thus in her lo ammi…out of favor state and thus were in a spiritually insensitive condition as Not My People. So, wouldn’t this opening of the eyes of a remnant be showing mercy to those guilty of the national sin of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Jehovah and their Covenant with Him?
The Father, allowing only a remnant of Israel to see that Jesus of Nazareth was their promised messiah. We also know that mercy, or the pardon of sin could be revoked if the recipient was unfaithful which means they were not given the same grace as was given to Saul….he was acquitted of the unforgivable sin.
More understanding of Mercy….Israel understood what mercy was, as they were very familiar with the mercy seat, which was connected with the Ark of the Covenant sitting in the Most Holy compartment of their temple, Exodus 25:17,22. Bullinger’s notes on this verse says, “Mercy seat =a propitiatory cover by the figure of speech, of a Metonymy, cover, put for the propitiation made through the blood sprinkled thereon.”
The context of Exodus shows, if the Priest entering the Most Holy was not acceptable, mercy could be withdrawn and the priest could die! Leviticus 16:2 also tells us that Jehovah appeared in the cloud above the mercy seat. Another place we can read about the mercy seat is at Numbers 7:89 which tells us, Moses went into the Most Holy and spoke with Jehovah, “hearing His voice from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony from between the two cherubims.” This showing us how those of Israel would view mercy, and that it was tied to their right condition or attitude with Jehovah and that He could give it and or take it away!
So, I thought we would next look at how Paul uses the word mercy. In Romans 9:15 he quotes Exodus 33:19 “For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” The context of this chapter in Romans is of course dealing with Israel and Paul’s sadness for his own Jewish brethren; could Paul’s sorrow have been because Israel was lo ammi and Paul knew the nation would not repent because the Lord told him they would not listen to him but that Paul was to given the witness to them.
Also, as he just quoted the passage that Jehovah decided who will be given mercy. Paul probably is explaining to Jews as to why all of Israel would not repent and accept their messiah, Jehovah showing mercy to those whom He wished to and not to others. Paul understanding God had a program for Israel and one for the Body of Christ and would he not need to teach this new information to those being called out of Israel into the Body?
I have always wondered at Paul’s words, that he would wish to be accursed for his brethren, surely he did not mean, he was willing to give up his calling in Christ and the commission given him by Christ? He says this at Romans 9:1-3. Neither Bullinger nor Knoch make any comment on this statement? I have always just felt his words were emotional or soulish as he did know that one day all of Israel would be saved. So I feel what he was saying was he would given up the glory of his calling if it meant his brethren would come to a realization of the truth…he knew full well he was not giving up his salvation…just that he would accept a lower place in the scheme of things?
Perhaps understanding the use and meaning of the word accursed will give more light on this subject. Paul uses this term again at the closing of the letter of 1 Corinthians and so I will wait to discuss it further at that time. I also added what both Knoch and Bullinger had to say on that word and the use of it…..which for now, I feel we need to be keeping in mind its use was Jewish in nature and within the dispensation of Holy Spirit and was not compatible with the grace Paul later expounds on in his prison epistles.
Again, this is why we are looking for when the Body of Christ began with its grace dispensation. I suspect the body began during the Holy Spirit dispensation but grace did not fully reign until that dispensation had ended. Remember that dispensation gave signs and miracles to instill faith….in the Grace Dispensation, God gives each saint a measure of faith and with that no signs are needed. I can understand because of all these technicalities why some cannot conceive of the body of Christ beginning until after Acts 28 but then those who adhere to that base it on the King James rendering of Paul going to the Gentiles instead of to the peoples of the nations…which as his commission stated…to the sons of Israel in those nations.
Okay, lets now examine Grace, defined as unmerited favor, Grace is given freely to those He chooses, and as we learned those in Grace are justified and that means acquitted of all sin, thus this is not a pardon which merely acknowledges the guilt and a pardon is given with limitations.
The gift of grace is irrevocable. So this is what the Body of Christ is given, and this is also said to be the first fruit of the spirit, at Romans 8:23. Understanding the firstfruit offering, was again a Jewish ritual and one which the Jewish saints would understand. This followed the Passover celebration, with the firstfruit offering given to Jehovah, and would guarantee a complete harvest of all the crops for the nation. Paul used the physical to explain the spiritual, telling them that the Body of Christ is given the firstfruit of the spirit.
We are also the firstfruit redeemed from death and given eonian life in Christ…The grace we have been given is a demonstration of the grace all humanity as well as the celestial beings will eventually receive. We in the Body of Christ are the firstfruit of humanity and that is why Paul said we are made a new creation in Christ….we are God’s achievement, His workmanship, Ephesians 2:10.
He makes us competent, placing us in Christ. We are the demonstration of His complete Grace and we are the guarantee of a complete harvest not only of all Israel in the Kingdom as that is when they will receive justification in Grace but also for the entire Creation in the last eon, the Day of God and of the new heavens and new earth. With that awesome thought, we will next take into consideration the four letters Paul wrote in the time period of Acts 19 and 20, I think we are going to be delighted with what we find in them.
Let’s now take a more extensive journey through the four letters Paul wrote during his ministry falling within the time period of Acts 13 through Acts 28. We are looking for more clues or hints as to whether Paul taught the secret hidden in God for the ages, which is the Body of Christ in person or in these letters.
We will begin with 1st Corinthians, written from Ephesus, estimated to be the spring of A.D. 57
Bullinger’s introduction to this letter: “An account of Paul’s Labors in Corinth is given in Acts 18:1-18. Some time after this Apollos commended by the brethren at Ephesus, came to Corinth and produced a powerful impression by his eloquent presentations of the gospel. Verses 27,28.
“Two parties soon began to show themselves; one adhering to Paul and his simple preaching, the other to Apollos; to these was added a third, evidently the outcome of the visit of some Judaisers who claimed the authority of Peter, while a fourth, repudiating the other three, claimed that they only were the true followers of Christ. This was but one of the difficulties the apostle had to deal with in the infant church he had founded.”
“Already he had written to them of the dangers due to their corrupt surrounding in such a city. 1 Corinthians 5:9. He had moreover received a letter from them asking advice on certain questions, but making no reference to their divisions. Of these he was informed by visitors to Ephesus. Ephesians 1:11; 5:1; 11:18; 15:12, who brought word also of the profanation of the Lord’s Supper, of the toleration of the incestuous offender, and of the skepticism as to the resurrection.”
“Paul had thus many matters to deal with. He begins by referring to the notorious offender of whom even the Gentiles would be ashamed, and whom he charges them to tolerate no longer, but to cut off from their assembly. He blames their litigious spirit, and charges them to settle their differences without the scandal of appealing to heathen courts. Next he takes up the question of marriage, and again makes a defense of his apostolic authority.”
“The rest of the Epistle deals with errors which affected the life of the assembly, the behavior of women and their leaving the head uncovered, the disorder at the Lords Supper, then spiritual gifts, (especially speaking with tongues). And the skepticism as to the resurrection which evoked the noble fifteenth chapter.”
“In Paul’s day Corinth was the chief city of The Roman province of Achaia. Situated on the Isthmus of the same name, and having a harbor on each side. It was notable for it commerce. And no less was it noted for the wealth and profligacy of its citizens. The great city has now become a mean village.”
Some comments taken from Knoch’s Introduction in the Concordant Commentary to this letter: “Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is a divine commentary on the conduct inculcated in the epistle to the Romans. The secret of a life well pleasing to God lies in the crucifixion of the flesh and resurrection by the power of the spirit, Romans 6:6-11. The Corinthians failed in both of these requisites. The first part of the epistle shows that though the apostle had pressed the preaching of the cross, which puts an end to all physical pretensions, they persisted in making much of men, and thus created divisions among themselves.”
“The central subject is the question of Paul’s apostolic authority. This epistle is a severe rebuke to the present day ecclesiastical systems. If division was a proof of carnality in Corinth, what does the multiplication of sects with which we are afflicted with today prove? There is far more need today of the salutary correctives in this epistle that there was in Corinth. There is a need to proclaim, not only the death of Christ, but the manner of His death. A crucified Christ is the answer to the worldly wisdom and religious carnality of those who profess the name of God.”
“This epistle shows why so few are able to apprehend the marvelous mysteries of Paul’s later epistles. It is no marvel that they are hid from the immature believer of today.” “In the midst of all the gifts the apostle points them to the transcendent grace which has since become ours by a later revelation. The gifts have ceased. Faith, expectation and love remain. Let us hope that soon faith will be lost in sight and expectation in realization. (When we are called to heaven) Then love alone will abide.”
I hope the introductions of these two men whose research have contributed so much for our learning will have set the scene for this letter. Paul wrote these four early letters in the time period of Acts 19, 20 during a 2 year stay in Ephesus and perhaps while in Macedonia which it is said that he was there for 3 months. Acts 19:1, 8-10. The references to the earlier letter which we do not have in our Bibles will be looked at further on.
The time slot has been figured for when these letters were written from clues given of where and when by Paul or Luke as the historian recording the events. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-9 Paul speaks of gathering the gifts to take to Jerusalem…and that he would be passing through Macedonia…and that he may winter with them. Yet he would stay at Ephesus till Pentecost” and Acts 19:10 he tells us of 2 years spent at Ephesus and Verse 21 speaks of his plans to go to Jerusalem taking the gifts he had gathered but by going first through Macedonia and we also read at Acts 20:1b he departed to go to Macedonia…this seems to correspond with what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 16.:5, Macedonia, Verse 9, Ephesus.
It seems Paul and Barnabus were given a commission to collect gifts or offerings for the poor saints in Jerusalem from the different ecclesias that they established and visited in their travels amongst the nations, in order to take to the brethren in Jerusalem. It is said that there was a famine at the time. This collection is spoken of in different places, as collections, graces, love offerings, gifts, ministering and a dispensation. It appears this one done on several occasions. It is also said the nations received spiritual gifts through the Jews and they in turn should share their physical gifts with them.
We first read of a collection being taken in Acts 11:19,30 “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea; Which also they, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” Acts 12:25 “Now Barnabas and Saul return out of Jerusalem, completing the dispensing, taking along with them John, who is surnamed Mark.” I am pointing this out as I think this dispensation of a collection can be confused with the dispensation of his evangel. So where these words are used we must review the context to make sure we understand this.
Here is an example, in Romans 15:31 the King James says, “That I maybe delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.” The Concordant reads, “That I should be rescued from the stubborn in Judea, and my dispensation for Jerusalem maybe be becoming well received by the saints…”
This “service” or “dispensation” was a collection of monies for the poor in Jerusalem and delivered to the elders in there just as in the earlier case. But can we see how this would be misinterpreted to be…a preaching of an evangel…implying that Paul ministered…doctrinally in Jerusalem…which I do not believe he did. It is important to understand two conflicting evangels were not being taught in Judea. That was the territory given to the circumcision saints while Paul was given the assignment of the nations outside of the land of Judea and referred to by the Judaiser as the uncircumcision.
A.E. Knoch says some more things which are interesting in his Concordant Commentary, with his introduction to the letter of 1st Corinthians. “This is not the first time the apostle has written to the Corinthians. He had written an earlier letter to them (5:9) and they had written one in return, (7:1). This epistle is partly a reply to their letter. So that it is not to be taken as first Corinthians in the absolute sense, but in relation to the second epistle.
Bullinger as we read in his earlier introduction, also mentions a third letter to the Corinthians, which would have been really the first one Paul wrote as the letter titled first Corinthians in our Bibles is an answer to the letter Paul received from the Corinthians in response to the actual first letter, but we do not have it….he says “it may have been lost or that Paul disposed of it because he was very harsh in it.” It is very possible it also had some things in it specific to just some in that ecclesia and for that reason would not be copied and sent out to the other ecclesia
Let’s look at the verses which reference Paul’s’ first letter and reply in order to understand these references given by him. 1 Corinthians 5:9 and 11“I write to you in the epistle not to be commingling with paramours” I added in Verse 11 as it does show us he is continuing to elaborate on with what he had first written to them. “Yet now I write to you not to be commingling with anyone named a brother, if he should be a paramour or greedy or an idolater, or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner….”
1 Corinthians 7:1 “Now concerning what you write to me:” When we get to Chapter seven we will then read what he wrote in answer to the questions they must have presented in their letter to him.
It would be good for each of us to read this epistle through on our own in order to get an understanding of the many problems this ecclesia in Corinth was having and which Paul is addressing. I am also going to add as we go along through each epistle Paul writes where he has quoted from the Old Testament because I have found 85 quotes in his letters, more than any other Bible writer, even more than Jesus quoted. This is why a good Study Bible is needed to see this, the Concordant is lacking in this area unless we use the Commentary right along side of it as we read.
I think it is important to understand why Paul quotes from the Old Testament so much as I said earlier most of us have the mind set, of the Body of Christ being a Gentile entity. So we need to understand why Paul did this since we are not Jewish and since we know that we are to rightly divide Israel’s information from ours and so for the most part we consider what is being said in the Old Testament to be mostly for Israel and not for us? I have also added a chart of all his quotes following this article. Okay, let’s now see what we can learn from this letter.
Paul says that he had received information from the house of Chloe, 1 Corinthians 1:11 that there were divisions amongst them. He also hears of many other things showing a lack of immaturity. As we read what he said in Chapter 5, it appears that he had already written them about not associating with immoral persons. In this letter, he plainly tells them not to associate with a brother who practices the immoral things which he lists. He will also address their conduct in all areas of their church and family life. He is very sad to hear of these problems and sad to have to reprimand them. Paul gives counsel on how they should be living befitting a believer in Christ.
He reminds them of Christ and the cross and he also shares his personal testimony with them, reaffirming his commission as their Apostle. In Verses 12,13 he is not happy that these divisions include the boasting of who it was discipled or taught them personally, such as I am of Paul or of Apollos or of Cephas. This he says makes, Christ parted…reminding them again that it was Christ who was crucified for them and not one of their apostles or teachers.
He continues to emphasize that looking to a person is not acceptable in Verses 14-17 “Or in the name of Paul are you baptized? I am thanking God that I baptize not one of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone may be saying that you are baptized into my name. Yet I baptize the household Stephanas also. Furthermore, I am not aware if I baptize any other. For Christ does not commission me to be baptizing, but to be bring the evangel, not in wisdom of word, lest the cross of Christ may be made void.”
What he is saying here as we learned all through Acts, is that those of Hebrew or Israelite heritage were given John’s baptism…even Paul received it? I do not think these words are to be taken as meaning that Paul was putting baptism down as not being necessary as we have learned it was necessary for the Israelite and or the Jews! What Paul is seeking to impart to them is that he was not happy that the disciples were bragging of who had discipled them and or who had baptized them, because their actions was the making of schisms, which are divisions amongst them and that is what was not acceptable.
Knoch’s commentary adds some more information here with Paul’s work in Corinth in establishing that ecclesia. “The Crispus here referred to can be none other than the chief of the synagogue (thus a Jew) who believed on the Lord with all his house when Paul first came to Corinth. Gaius was probably his host on a later visit. (Romans16:23)”
“The house of Stephanas was probably the first to receive the evangel. It seems that Paul, in his early ministry, like the Lord did not usually baptize with his own hands. As Stephanas was the first to believe in Corinth. There may have been no one else to do so in his case. Crispus was the most prominent Jew in the city, hence the apostle officiated personally when he was baptized. After this we do not read of his baptizing. Later we read Paul couples baptism with circumcision as being ours in the burial of Christ at Colossians 2:15.”
I again want to re-emphasize the Jewish nature of the Body of Christ in its infancy. This is not something which I believe has been stressed enough. We always have our minds on the Body of Christ being the Gentile alternative to the Jew or Israel. The early members were Jews and the sons of Israel, as Hebrews and they received John’s baptism while the Gentiles did not. It was obviously a requirement for those of Israel and I feel this must be a sign that the nation of Israel was still lo ammi.
The requirement for Israel’s restoration is for them to repent, all 12 tribes coming back together, and so in order for individual Hebrews to come out of the guilty nation into Jehovah favor they needed to repent and accept John’s baptism which was the sign of that repentance. Important to place it in amongst the signs, the Jews expected. John acted in the role of the friend of the bridegroom…looking for a bride for his master, Jesus. The remnant then is to be the bride of the lambkin in the Messianic kingdom.
So during the dispensation of Holy Spirit….it seems to me the minor ecclesia, of the Body of Christ was subservient to the Jewish Church based in Jerusalem. When Paul writes Colossians as quoted by Knoch, the dispensation of Holy Spirit had ended most likely from Acts 20 on except for on the island of Melita, but at the very latest we can safely say after, Acts 28.
The evidence, being that Paul no longer had the gift of healing as when he told Timothy to drink wine for a stomach ailment, and he did not tell him to find another saint who could heal him? Paul also had ailments and there are references to others and no healing was given them. If the gifts ceased for the Apostle Paul, it would not be logical they continued with anyone else. So let’s just keep these thoughts in our minds as we try to harmonize these early letters Paul wrote with the later letters and what applies for us today.
In Paul’s early letters we have seen that they are very Jewish in nature because he is talking mostly to those of Israel which he has discipled into the new administration….it is later in his letters written after Acts closes that we see this minor church leaving what is physical and entering a solely spiritual realm. This is why Paul stresses to those Jews and those of Israel, which they must give up that heritage, with its traditions as they have been called to something far superior over what were the earthly heritage and promises for the nation of Israel.
Paul tells them in the new administration, there is no Jew or Greek in the Body of Christ, also that the Jew does not hold any superiority over the Gentiles who are now their equals.…because they are a joint body, being one in the Body of Christ….When the minor reaches maturity…it becomes a spiritual entity…leaving the physical behind with the Jews called to the earthly kingdom.
Paul continues with his counsel at 1 Corinthians 1:18,19 “For the word of the cross is stupidly indeed, to those who are perishing, yet to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I shall be destroying the wisdom of the wise and the understanding of the intelligent shall I be repudiating.’” Verse 19 was quoted from Isaiah 29:14.
He continues in Verses 22-25 “Jews, signs are requesting and Greeks wisdom are seeking, yet we are heralding Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a snare, yet to the nations stupidly, yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God, for the stupidity of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Paul next emphasizes that it is God that does the choosing and that they have nothing to brag about except Christ.…Verses 26-31 “For you are observing your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh; not many powerful, not many noble, but the stupidity of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the wise, and the weak of the world God chooses, that He may be disgracing the strong, and the ignoble and the contemptible things of the world God chooses, and that which is not, that He should be discarding that which is, so that no flesh should be boasting in Gods sight. Yet, you of Him, are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, besides righteousness and holiness and deliverance, that, according as it is written, ‘he who is boasting, in the Lord let him be boasting.’” This last sentence quoted from Jeremiah 9:23
It also appears by what he says in this letter, that some are challenging his apostleship…probably those of the circumcision saints…which of course he was not their apostle. But he is the Apostle of those called into the Body of Christ. How are they to understand that technicality unless they already understood that as disciples of Paul they had been given a different evangel from the circumcision saints and that they were a new and separate administration from Israel’s?
If, I was a Jew discipled under Paul and he was instructing me with things different from what the Jewish ecclesia and elders based in Jerusalem were teaching…I would be asking a lot of questions! Would these believers have followed Paul blindly, or would he have shared with them what Christ had given him through revelations for the building of a new administration?
When we read through this letter to the Corinthians we see the continual references to things, which would pertain to those of Jewish heritage, but written to Jews who have been called into the Body of Christ. The saints at Corinth were a minor, immature ecclesia with many problems. These letters were circulated to other ecclesia as counsel for those with similar problems. Also as we continue to read in this letter, the subject of idolatry comes in. Now it is always supposed this refers to Gentiles and yes it would as the nations did have many other gods. But, remember the 10 tribes which had broken away and left Jerusalem centuries earlier did so because of going into idolatry and most were still in other religions.
Those 10 tribes did not return to Jerusalem when the Persian king ended the Babylonian captivity. The descendants from the 10 tribes or we could says, the sons of Israel, which were Israelites still lived amongst the nations and it is logical that many were still involved with the idolatry of those nations’ religions. This has been so overlooked, that when it is said that Paul went to the nations, he was discipling those of Israel but….following the rule…to the Jew first…which meant going into the synagogues established by those of Judaism and giving the witness concerning Jesus to the Jewish Leaders.
The name Jew comes from Judah and refers to the religion of those which had returned to Jerusalem, named Judah. But, Paul over and over would say to those Jewish leaders when they rejected the evangel of Christ, I am now going to the nations. We cannot apply this to Gentiles only! The sons of Israel were living amongst the nations and were not practicing Judaism. Read again Acts 21:17-22
When Paul was in Jerusalem, the elders said, the tens of thousand of Jews who had come to Christ through the ministry and evangel of the 12 and their disciples were upset that Paul was teaching those of the nations to not circumcise and to forsake Moses. The King James says teaching the Gentiles….how could a Gentile forsake Moses….they were never under the Mosaic Law. You cannot forsake something you have never had. Plus it had already been established in Acts 15 that a Gentile convert did not need to be burdened with circumcision and Law keeping, James issued a decree stating that but adding a few things those of the nations should follow and which Paul delivered that decree in his travels.
The Concordant Version is correct to use the name…nations over Gentiles. The sons of Israel living in those nations outside of the land of Israel were being discipled by Paul….make note…very few references are made to Gentiles being converted. I just can’t emphasize this enough; the first members of the Body of Christ were of Israel. God first chooses from His chosen People!
Let’s now go to 1 Corinthians 2:6,7 “Yet wisdom are we speaking among the mature, yet a wisdom not of this eon, neither of the chief men of this eon, who are being discarded, but we are speaking Gods wisdom in a secret, wisdom which has been concealed, which God designated before….before the eons, for our glory, which not one of the chief men of the eon knows, for if they know they would not crucify the Lord of glory.”
Now I ask, what is he talking about if not the secret…the same secret which he speaks of at Ephesians 3:9 “what is the administration of the secret, which has been concealed from the eons in God” and Colossians 1:26 “the secret which has been concealed from the eons and from the generations.” Bullinger’s notes state that “the same word is used…for secret…which is mysterion and is used in these three places.” Does not the use of the same word link in the secret he speaks of in Corinthians with the secret he refers to in those letters and which were written after Acts 28?
Let’s review what Paul has said and compare it with what is found in the prison epistles. He is writing to the Corinthians that, a secret had been concealed which had been designated from before the eons for our glory! A secret concealed, before the eons and that secret is for our glory. What is our glory? Isn’t it to be the glory given to the Body of Christ when we enter the celestial realms?
Being placed in Christ and as Paul teaches, to be sharing His allotment in the heavenly places of which Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:18 “the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the saints…” Paul tells the Body of Christ, that they shall be raised or changed with a vivified, immortal body just as is Christ’s allotment now.
The Glorified Christ is Who Paul met on the road to Damascus and it was Christ, Who gave him revelations, the secret hidden in God for the ages and other secrets tied to it which are for the new administration, which is to be given His allotment in the celestial realms. Paul will later give more details concerning the change required in order to receive the celestial glory in the 15th Chapter of this same letter.
If this passage which we have just read in Corinthians and have compared with what he says in Ephesians and Colossians is not talking about the same secret and glory, I don’t know what it is talking about? The secret which is the Body of Christ, a new administration, a joint body of Jew and Gentile and who are told they are to received the celestial glory which is Christ’s allotment in the celestial realm.
Now, Lets keep reading the next two verses, 1 Corinthians 2:9,10 which now finally fit and make sense! “But, according as it is written, That which the eye did not perceive, and the ear did not hear, and to which the heart of man did not ascend…whatever God makes ready for those who are loving Him. Yet to us God reveals them through His Spirit, for the spirit is searching all, even the depths of God.”
Years ago, I was told this passage was talking about blessings in the way far into future, and that we did not have any idea of the wonderful things God had in store for us if we were faithful. And yet, Paul has just told us via the Corinthians that we understand now what no man in the past could even conceive of! Because nothing was ever said in the Old Testament of humans going to live in the heavens with God! Did not Paul just say God had revealed to them, of the secret of the celestial glory, this is said to the Corinthians?
In this Passage Paul said, it is written, this was quoted from Isaiah 64:4 , but lets look at it and notice…Paul has adjusted it a bit. As Isaiah reads, “And from the eon they have not heard nor given ear, and the eye has not seen any Alueim except Thee. He is doing for him who will tarry for Him” It is said, that the Holy Spirit makes adjustments in what is quoted to fit the circumstances, when the new testament writers quoted from the old and this is not only found in Paul’s letters but also with the other writers.
I hope to do a study just this subject soon because I find it interesting and most likely part of our understanding rightly dividing, but also important to understand this because the critics of the Bible use it to discount….divine inspiration! Or that the apostles and writers were loose with Gods Word which I can assure you is not the case. Paul and the other writers had an understanding of the Old Testament you and I will never attain to…because it is entrenched in their national history and as part of their religion, Judaism.
But getting back to what Paul said and how he applied this passage from Isaiah to his evangel, “What the eye had not seen, what the ear had not heard and what the heart of man” could not even imagine. God had kept a secret, until it was given to Paul to reveal and time for those in the Body of Christ to understand. The secret concerns the Body of Christ receiving the Glory of the allotment with Christ in the celestial realms!
That secret, Paul is telling them, God has now revealed to them, to those Corinthian saints, is Paul not saying that they knew the secret of who they are in Christ, and of which those things are what, no eye has seen or ear has heard or heart has imagined of in the past, because they were hidden or concealed in God until revealed to Paul and so he must have revealed it to them in person or why was he then referring to the secret? What had been hidden but was now made known, no human heart could conceive of, these are the spiritual blessings given to the new administration of which Paul was the Apostle for, along with the heavenly allotment he later elaborates further on in Ephesians.
Paul continues in this same chapter to explain why they only are able to comprehend these things, lets keep reading at 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 “For is any of humanity acquainted with that which is human except the spirit of humanity which is in it? Thus also, that which is of God no one knows, except the spirit of God. Now we obtained, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we may be perceiving that which is being graciously given to us by God, which we are speaking also, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, matching spiritual blessings with spiritual words.”
“Now the soulish man is not receiving those things which are of the spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them, seeing that they are spiritually examined. Now he who is spiritual is indeed, examining all, yet he is being examined by no one. For who knew the mind of the Lord? Who will be deducing from Him? Yet we have the mind of Christ.” This gives the explanation of how that which is spiritual can only be understood, it is by means of His Spirit within the chosen saint and thus the spiritual arena of which those who are in the Body of Christ are blessed with.
In Verse 16 Paul has quoted Isaiah 40:14 “For who knew the mind of the LORD and who is instructing Him?” Bullinger’s notes point out in the text, which is translated as Lord, and is quoted from Isaiah, would read as….LORD which refers to Jehovah. In the King James, when we find LORD in all capitals, in the originals, it is IEUE or in the English this name is translated as Jehovah. Bullinger has a good study on this in Appendix 4 in the Companion Bible.
In the context of this letter, Paul has given the saints in Corinth some reprimands dealing with the immaturity of some in that ecclesia, followed by encouragement, reminding them of their awesome calling, without any previous knowledge of what Paul was talking about I do not see how they could comprehend what he was saying, merely hinting at a secret and some glory they have never been told about before?
We will notice as we go through this letter, Paul gives reprimands for immature conduct but always followed by encouragement and reminders of the blessings given in this new administration. In Chapter 3 Paul continues, to remind them of the specialness of their relationship with God through Christ and then Paul must give them more counsel on the divisions among them which he spoke of in Chapter one. The bragging on of who they were discipled by Apollos or Paul in Verses 3-9.
He speaks of them as being minors in Christ, acting in the flesh, and so only able to receive the milk of the word.” In Verses 11-15 he speaks of how they are “Gods building, Christ is the foundation. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every mans work shall be made manifest for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every mans work of what sort it is. If any mans work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward. If any mans work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
In Knoch’s Commentary his comments on this verse are, “Gold stands for that which is divine, silver for redemption, precious stones for those gems of grace which adorn them, especially the secrets at which Paul has been hinting.” Paul then continues…
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Are you not aware that you are a temple of God and the spirit of God is making its home in you?” Only Paul taught of the indwelling spirit of God. Israel always had some sort of temple in which they looked to as being the dwelling place of God; they were never told God dwelt inside of them! This would also be applicable for those Gentile believers coming out of pagan religions with the temples for their gods and where they went for worship. This is new information, Paul telling them that each one of them was a temple in which God’s Spirit dwelt. He wants them to appreciate this knowledge by letting their conduct reflect it.
Verses 19,20 contain a quote from Job 5:13 “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.” Froward is defined as perverse or to twist.
In Chapter 4, Paul again says something interesting in relation to being an apostle at 1 Corinthians 4:9 “For I suppose that God demonstrates with us, the last apostles as death-doomed…” Paul and those called to assist him are the last of the apostles, they were needed for laying the foundation of the ecclesia or church which is the Body of Christ. Today we have our Apostle Paul’s letters to guide and teach us…there are no more apostles or prophets needed. In fact, each member of the Body of Christ, remembering that we are equals and having the same access to Christ and to Him also as the Father! We are all united by the same spirit and why Paul speaks about keeping the unity of the spirit, the tie which allows this is not doctrine but it is love and remembering God chooses each and every one of us.
I find it hard to understand why it is said that there is nothing in Paul’s early letters for or about the Body of Christ? It seems to me that we have already found information to the contrary and we have just begun going through the first of the four letters he wrote before Acts 28. These letters are said to be by some as the preparatory epistles and this time period in which they were written is referred to as the transitional phase.
I think both terms are fitting to what we are reading and yet, I also find it hard to understand how Paul could just be hinting at truths so needed to understand in order to mature. Hints given which is just telling this some thing’s and not the whole story? I say this in reference to Knoch’s comment when he said Paul hints at their celestial destiny? How do you hint at things like that….? Yes, I can understand that Paul had not yet given them every detail of the secret but I would think they had an outline of the basics?
Or are we to believe, as some do teach, that those discipled by Paul thought that they were part of the Jewish church centered in Jerusalem? And yet that does not seem to fit with the facts…because Paul was telling them circumcision was not needed, meaning, that it was nothing with God any longer.
A thought just came to me…also, that, the sign of circumcision had to do with the covenant relationship this People were in with Jehovah at their inception as the nation of Israel. Again going back to whether they were ammi again or still lo ammi? If as many teach, Israel had been taken back into that covenant relationship with Jehovah…how could that sign then be dis-credited? It seems to me only so, since they were still lo ammi?
Paul had also told them early on, after his severing at Acts 13:39 that those believing in Christ were then being justified outside the Law of Moses and for this teaching, he was being opposed by the Jewish saints.
Even the elders at Jerusalem did not seem to understand this, as we discussed earlier but lets go through it again, the elders asked him about what they were hearing of his teaching at Acts 21:18-21 “Now by the ensuing day, Paul had been in together with us to James. Besides, all the elders came along. And greeting them, he unfolded, one by one, each of the things which God does among the nations through His dispensation. Now those who have glorified God, Besides they said to him, You are beholding brother how many tens of thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and all are inherently zealous for the law? Now they were instructed concerning you that you teach all the Jews among the nations apostasy from Moses, telling them not to be circumcising their children, nor to be walking in the customs.”
So this is telling us that those Jews which Paul discipled amongst the nations were being taught things different from the Jews discipled by those in Jerusalem. Obviously they did not understand “justification outside of the Law of Moses”. If it was theirs to have, would not the Lord have given that information to Peter, did He not make him the head of the 12 and of the church which is to be His bride?
These are the things we need to think about and hopefully the Lord will help us to understand them. But I do want to point out in that passage we have just read that the words of James to Paul are showing us that there were those which Paul discipled amongst the nations considered to be Jews. “you teach all the Jews among the nations”
Again, the term going to the nations used so much is not specific to Gentiles, as we have read in Acts many times, that he went first to the Jew in those nations and not as the King James has continually translated that term….as going….to the Gentiles. Also as we discussed earlier, Paul also taught the Law was good…he was not teaching it was permissible to sin….but that the condemnation of death which is what the Law covenant brought upon the sinner, that is what had been removed.
If we read the rest of the passage… we see Paul had done a fast….Jewish…purified himself in the temple…a Jewish custom, he had taken a vow and shaved his head…a Jewish custom and so the elders say in Verses 24,25 “all will know that what they been instructed concerning you is nothing, but you also are observing the elements and you yourself are maintaining the law.” Now is this some sort of a contradiction, maybe from the standpoint of the Judaisers. It seems that Paul followed the law and the customs of the Jews when coming to Jerusalem for the annual Passovers and yet he was teaching justification outside of the law in his travels amongst the nations.
Yes, this is difficult for us to understand and I believe this contributes to the confusion and why there are so many differing teachings on the beginning of the Body of Christ and also of which of his epistles we are to follow. But we also need to remember that Paul said, “he was free…..and an apostle. “1 Corinthians 9:1 and 19-23 “For being free of all, I enslave myself to all that I should be gaining the more. And I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I should be gaining Jews; to those under the law as under the law, (not being myself under the law) that I should be gaining those under the law; to those without law as with out law (not being without God’s Law, but legally Christ’s), that I should be gaining those without law. I became weak to the weak, that I should be gaining the weak that I should be gaining the weak. To all have I become all that I should undoubtedly be saving some. Now all am I doing because of the evangel, that I may be becoming a joint participant of it.”
I think this explains Paul’s conduct quite clearly, Paul has said he was free, he was not bound to the law or out of the law, he was not bound by the elements of the world or of religion, those things have no power over the grace given in Christ. Yes, he was the apostle for the new administration formed in its infancy amongst circumstances we are not subject to. Today we are in the mature Body of Christ, existing in the spiritual realm.
Paul was commissioned to the nations and the sons of Israel….and so the new administration began with Jews and the sons of Israel living amongst the nations and of gentiles added to the remnant out of Israel. He ministered to each on their own level….as they were being called out of whatever belief system they previously held to.
Acts 21:25b refers to Acts 15, and the decree James had written for those of the nations coming to Jesus. I think the incident maybe needs more clarification. Going first, back to Acts 10 and 11
In Acts 10 Peter had been guided by Jehovah to go into the home of Cornelius a Roman centurion and disciple him and his household as Jehovah had show Peter thorough a vision, those of the nations were no longer unclean. In this case we do have a Gentile being discipled by Peter and not having to be circumcised which was a symbol of submitting to the Mosaic Law. In Acts 11:18b the elders then said, “Consequently to the nations also God gives repentance unto life!”
Remember Saul and Barnabas had not yet been severed. Barnabus was in Antioch and hearing of this meeting with the elders and Peter, he goes to Tarsus to find Saul and brings him to Antioch and they spend a year there teaching. Why did he go and get Saul?
Because they knew that the Lord had told Ananias that Saul was called to go to the sons of Israel and to the nations…..where these sons of Israel lived. Now by the time we get to Acts 15:1 which is about 13 years later, we read, “And some coming down from Judea, taught the brethren, that If you should not be circumcised after the custom of Moses you can not be saved.” So the Judaiser were ignoring what had happened in Acts 10 and 11 and so another meeting was called with the elders in Jerusalem and Peter, Paul and Barnabus were also in attendance.
In Acts 15:6-11 Peter says, “You are versed in the fact that from the days at the beginning God chooses among you, that through my mouth the nations are to hear the word of the evangel and believe.” Peter is referencing what happened in Acts 10. He continues to say to them “And God, the Knower of hearts, testifies to them giving the Holy Spirit (the outward manifestations of the gifts) according as to us also, and in nothing discriminates between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Why then are you now trying God, by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we are strong enough to bear.”
Barnabus and Paul also share with the elders, the signs and miracles God was doing through them and among the nations. James then speaks, and quotes Amos 9:11,12 to them and decides to issue a decree or write an epistle for those of the nations to follow in Verses 19-21.
I do not think the elders in Jerusalem truly understood Paul’s evangel as they seem to think his following some of the Jewish traditions and handing out of the decree James had decided upon would settle the problem of what he was teaching in his journeys throughout the nations. Maybe it did for the saints in Jerusalem but in reading the rest of the chapter this is where the Jews of the province of Asia who were in the city, probably this was Passover time and when Jews came from other areas to celebrate it.
These Jews seeing Paul become upset and gathering a throng they grab Paul crying out this is the man who is teaching all men everywhere against the people and the law and this holy place and they also falsely accused him of taking a Greek into the temple with him and they seek to kill Paul. This is followed by his rescue and arrest which begins the long journey to Rome ending the Acts account and most likely the dispensation of Holy Spirit.
Getting back to what is said in 1 Corinthians and how much the saints in Corinth had been told in person by Paul or his helper apostles or for that matter how much of what he told him they may have understood, I would agree that it would take time for these saints to fully understand Paul’s evangel…..just like you and I can read the scriptures over and over…missing things and each time we re read we see more and more details. But, if I was being taught and the teacher….hinted at things….and I could not comprehend where he was leading…. I would ask questions until I understood.
Perhaps, just the knowledge of Jesus being the messiah….Who died and that God had roused Him from death was enough for them? But wouldn’t there still be questions for Paul and his helper apostles…on why Paul taught them many things which the Jewish elders in Jerusalem were not teaching? It is evident Paul was doing this, why else would Judaisers be upset with his teaching and come to the ecclesias and seek to….change their thinking?
This is why it is said that Paul completed the Word of God. His letters explain fully his evangel and the distinctions between his evangel and Israel’s and that given to the Jewish church. I have often thought that the reason why the Lord had Paul imprisoned for two years in Rome…was so that he would write down everything he had received from Christ. Look at how many centuries have past since Paul’s day with God bringing those He has chosen into the Body of Christ. It was necessary for the ecclesia that Paul had begun to have his letters to grow in knowledge and understanding but also for after Paul was gone, the saints following needed to have his evangel in writing in order to have spiritual understanding of who they are in Christ.
So, the Body of Christ today has the needed counsel and information for who we are in Christ. I believe it has been laid out in all of Paul’s letters if we want to have the full story of how this church began we must consider them all. We are also given the indwelling spirit of Christ to guide, teach and minister to and for us.
Remembering Paul’s words at Romans 8:23 “we have the firstfruit of the spirit” and in Verses 26,27 he continues with these words which should bring each of us much comfort….even if we do not know what or how to pray or what to ask for….the spirit dwelling within us does. “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 pleading for the saints.”
Chapter 4 again has something very interesting…1 Corinthians 4:1,2 “Thus let a man be reckoning with us…..as deputies of Christ, and administrators of God’s secrets. Here, furthermore, it is being sought in administrators that any such may be found faithful.”
Notice the plural …secrets…and the plural administrators! Paul writing to these Corinthians though very immature and yet they are privy to God’s secrets and he says they must be administrators of those secrets! Where did they learn these secrets? From Paul of course or from his helper apostles who learned from him as he first would have taught them the secrets he had been given to dispense!
I am just amazed at the information in this first letter Paul writes and what he is talking about, I hardly consider the things he has said to be mere hints. Instead they are written like a person would refer to of things knowing his readers were already aware of. These saints in Corinth had to know who they were in Christ…a new administration which had been a secret hidden in God for the ages!
1 Corinthians 4:14-16 “Not to be abashing you am I writing those things, but as my children beloved am I admonishing you. For if you should be having ten thousand escorts in Christ, nevertheless not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus, through the evangel, I beget you. I am entreating you then, become imitators of me.” And Verse17b “according as I am teaching everywhere in every ecclesia.”
In Chapter 5:1-5 he finds it necessary to give counsel on the immoral conduct being carried on among them telling them to put that person practicing it out of their midst…actually he says, giving that one up to Satan for the extermination of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This is showing that the Grace and justification they have been blessed with is in operation. Satan can have the flesh but by means of the spirit within the believer, he belongs to God and will not be lost. We all will be stripped of our flesh…that is left behind either in the grave or when the Body of Christ is removed.
In Verse 7, he reminds them that “For our Passover also Christ was sacrificed,” Passover is a Jewish Holy Day and so again isn’t Paul speaking to those of Israel? Passover was celebrated once a year in memory of Israel’s exodus from Egyptian slavery and was followed by the birth of them becoming a nation and His People in covenant relationship. Gentiles were not involved in this relationship. So, Jesus Christ was Israel’s Passover lamb who came to fulfill the Law given only to them.
But as 1 John 4:14 says also “the Father has dispatched the Son, the Saviour of the world.” Christ as the Savior of the world, mean Gentiles are also being saved. But saved from what? Death! Jesus was not our Messiah, as Israel’s messiah, He redeems them from the death dealing Law; Paul teaches us He is our Head and we are His body.
In Chapter 6, Paul gives more counsel is on believers who are filing lawsuits against one another…he tells them to settle the matters quietly amongst themselves and stop making a spectacle of themselves to the world. He tells them in Verses 3,4 that they will one day be judging’s messengers, so they should be able to settle their differences quietly among themselves. The messengers Paul speaks of would be angelic beings living in the heavens…how are the believers Paul is talking to going to judge messengers unless they too are going to live in heaven? How would that statement impress them at all if they did not know about their celestial destiny?
In Verses 9-11 is a passage which is so misunderstood and used to threaten believers with. “Be not deceived. Neither paramours, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor catamites, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards; no revilers, no extortioners shall be enjoying the allotment of Gods kingdom.” Paul I believe is telling these Jews who understood that only the faithful of Israel would enjoy the earthly kingdom because until Paul revealed his evangel no one knew of the heavenly kingdom or of Grace and justification outside of the Mosaic Law. He says to them, “Or are you not aware that the unjust shall not be enjoying the allotment of God’s Kingdom?”
Does anyone in the Body of Christ fall into that class of the unjust? No, God has said we are justified! Which means acquitted of all sin. What Paul is saying to those of Jewish heritage is what they would understand. That title, the unjust would be familiar to them, as in the resurrections of “the just and the unjust,” because Daniel had told them that “the unjust would be raised to contempt and shame” at Daniel 12:1,2
While the Apostle John later explains the resurrection for the unjust follows the millennial reign of Christ, raised with mortal bodies and they are “the rest of the dead standing before the Great White Throne.” Revelation 20:5,6 and 12. While the just are going to be raised out of death after Christ returns as immortal saints, to rule and reign with Him during the 1000 years….and to enjoy its blessings.
Again those who Paul is addressing were mostly those out of Israel who were familiar with the Mosaic Law and did not Israel have laws concerning moral conduct and honesty? Yes they did and I am sure these saints called in grace also needed to be reminded that just because they were now operating in Grace and had been given justification it did not mean it was a license for immorality. So in the context of this chapter he is giving counsel on their conduct, isn’t Paul saying to them…those immoral and dishonest things will not be allowed by God in His kingdom so why should you allow them in your midst and especially by those saying they are a brother or better yet a believer in Jesus Christ?
Notice how he continues, “And some of you were these, but you are bathed off, you are hallowed, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.” Paul has not told them if they practiced any of the above things they would lose their calling into the Body of Christ! Why not….because they have been justified…acquitted of all sin.
But he is telling them, to grow up and show appreciation for the spiritual blessings given them and honor God by not practicing these things or associate with those who do. In the following verses which please read on your own…he reminds them again that they are the temple of God, Christ is dwelling within each one of us…when we sin…Christ has joined us in that sin. Kinda sobering is it not?
I am skipping many things in these chapters, because basically we are just looking for clues that these early believers had been told by Paul in person about his revelations and we want to understand if they knew who they were in the Body of Christ. Knoch said they were being given hints of their celestial destiny. I think what they were given was much stronger than a hint. Of course what they had been taught by Paul and Apollos would not be fully comprehended and did not give them instant maturity, how nice if that were so.
We all must learn precept upon precept and to continue to grow and that will only happen if we continue to study God’s Word and with all that said we will not learn it all this side of glory or be fully grown until Christ comes for us. I do think we can learn our evangel from Paul’s letters, as it is simple compared to Israel’s. When I say we will not learn it all now, I say that mostly in reference to Israel’s evangel and Prophetic Word as we are not Jewish and do not have the complete understanding of that heritage and so it is hard for us to understand all the nuances hidden in the scriptures which pertain to Israel.
We wait for our removal from this earth, either out of the grave or snatched and changed leaving these bodies of humiliation behind with the putting on of our new glorified immortal bodies. It is only then that we will be the completed product, having received the glory promised us and with that, the full understanding of God’s purpose for our calling and Israel’s calling will become clear and understandable, no longer hindered by the flesh. It will be at that time that we will be made just like Christ, receiving His allotment, the celestial bodies of glory and that we will have the full, mind of Christ.
In Chapter 7 we find what is next going to be addressed by Paul is his answer to the letter from the Corinthian ecclesia we talked about earlier. Verse 1 “Now, concerning what you write to me:” So the next Verses 2-17 deals with questions they had as to their own situations and I do not think to be, law for us today. Our situations have changed we are not a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles living amongst Jewish saints.
We are living in different lands with different cultures and laws. What Paul has to say, must be tied to the country they were living in and the cultures and the customs of the Jews. I will leave a further study on this to the reader. But briefly we also need to remember Paul’s words given at Romans 13, which is to be subject to the government under which we reside…which would have applied back then even more so than today. Remember the Jewish mentality was that they wanted out from under Gentile rule. They were a proud, stiff necked people and so perhaps some felt since they had been liberated by Christ from the Mosaic Law they would also be liberated from what ever government they lived under?
Paul traveled into many countries and established many ecclesias were established in those countries outside of the Roman authority, so the laws and cultures would be different and this is why Paul tells them to obey the authorities they are under and to live in peace. Today the members of the Body of Christ are also scattered around the world, and in different cultures and living under different governments and laws. If you or I were to visit another country, we would not demand to be allowed to live by the laws or culture of our own country, we would follow the rules of the country we were visiting or living in.
In this same Chapter 7, I found the Verses 18-24 interesting and remembering the context of the previous verses, some must have been wondering if they should change things in their lives. For instance, if one was a slave could he run away? Or if one had an unbelieving mate could they leave them?
Paul tells them God called them just as they were and they should remain so. “Each as God has called him thus let him be walking. And thus am I prescribing in all the ecclesias. Was any one called having been circumcised? Let him not be de-circumcised. Is anyone called in uncircumcision? Let him not circumcise. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the precepts of God. Each one in the calling with which he was called, in this let him be remaining. Were you called a slave? Let it not be causing you care. But if you are able to become free also, use it rather. For, in the Lord, he who is being called a slave, is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he who is being called, being free, is a slave of Christ. With a price are you bought. Do not become the slaves of men. Each one, in what he was called, brethren, in this let him remain with God.
The rest of the chapter follows this same vein and again I feel applied to their circumstances in those days…..and also pertained to in marriage, Paul did not give permission for a believer to leave their mate if they were an unbeliever.
In Chapter 8, the subject of idol sacrifices is taken up. Do we remember the decree sent out by James in Acts 15:19-21 designed for the Gentile believers? It said, “Wherefore I decide not to be harassing those from the nations who are turning back to God, but to write an epistle to them to be abstaining from ceremonial pollution with idols, and prostitution and what is strangled, and blood.”
I first want to comment on the statement ...turning back to God. Those of the nations, if Gentiles would not have ever been a worshipper of Jehovah and so would not have left Him and thus would not be turning back to Him. Now those of the sons of Israel, especially those who were the descendants of those of the 10 tribes which did indeed leave Jehovah and turned to the false gods and religions of the nations, perhaps these are who are really be referred to here.
They were of Jewish heritage by blood but in false religion, idolatry and many probably were not circumcised. That phrase would apply more to them….turning back to Jehovah as was of their Israelite heritage. I suspect the Judaisers viewed those of the other tribes living amongst the nations as being the same as the Gentiles in those nations. Remember the Elders in Jerusalem were very willing to let Paul and Barnabus take the evangel of Christ to the nations….! I believe we are missing much if we just view this as Paul going to Gentiles, those having to ties to the nation of Israel.
Now, this letter to the Corinthians written a few years after the Acts 15 meeting, and it is estimated to be in the Acts 19,20 time slot, it seems Paul is giving counsel which does not follow that decree given by James in Acts 15, to abstain from ceremonial pollution as those words had to do with animals sacrificed to false gods. It was considered by the Jews to be polluting the body if one ate anything which was considered as unclean food or that which had been sacrificed to an idol, and these things were being practiced by the heathens as an act of worship.
James had felt it necessary that this decree should be issued to those of the nations coming to accept Jesus because of the practice of such things in those nations. Paul had even carried that decree with him in his travels. Acts 16:4 “Now, as they went through the cities, they give over to them the decrees to maintain, which have been decided upon by the apostles and elders who are in Jerusalem.” Since Paul delivered the decree from James to those he discipled in the nations it would seem that they answered to the elders in Jerusalem somewhat for awhile, but in the letters of Ephesians and Colossians it would appear Paul was then telling them they are no longer under any decrees.
When Paul writes the Ephesians’ epistle, he negates decrees at Ephesians 2:15 which Knoch’s notes says refers to the decree given in Acts 15. I would agree as, Paul had long been teaching the Mosaic Law, was fulfilled in Christ and believers were not in bondage to it. James had issued the decree in Acts 15 when it had been decided; new believers did not need to be circumcised into Judaism but that they should refrain from a few other things.
Please read Ephesians 2 and note in Verse 15, Paul tells them Christ has “abolished or nullified the law of precepts in decrees” and at Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting or ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way nailing it to His cross;” Some say well this is referring to only the mosaic Law and not the later decrees….of which they also want the Lords supper to fit in. But is not Paul telling the Jewish saints who were in the Body of Christ, the decree James decided upon was not valid since it too was based on the Mosaic Law which Christ had fulfilled
Note also, Paul’s use of us, “the law was contrary to us and Christ took it out of the way…” Again, it was only the Jewish nation which had been given the Mosaic Law while the James decree took in any in the nations, Jew or Gentile. Why would those in the Body of Christ be governed by a decree given by the kingdom church especially once the dispensation of Holy Spirit was over and grace was reigning?
But getting back to the letter to Corinth and the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 8:1-8 Paul is telling them that idols are nothing that there is only One God even though men say there are other gods and other lords….they are nothing. It would not be wrong to eat this meat, unless the eating of it was some sort of worship on their part, viewing it as an idol sacrifice or if the eating of it, would stumble another by implying to them that the one eating was giving worship to an idol. Paul said to stumble another brother would be “sinning against my brother and beating his weak conscience, and so would be sinning against Christ.”
In Chapter 9 Paul is again forced to defend his apostleship. He says at 1 Corinthians 9:1,2 “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, nevertheless I surely am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”
It sounds like others were challenging Paul’s authority as an Apostle to these brothers in Corinth and they must have also been trying to undermine his right to receive financial assistance. He argues that why should he and his helper apostles be treated any different than Peter an apostle for the circumcision was and so he asks, did they not even have a wife also being supported.
It would seem perhaps those apostles were being supported by their brethren. Most likely it was the Jewish saints who did not like Paul because he taught his disciples they did not need the Mosaic Law or circumcision and are the ones who had challenged his right for financial support as in their opinion he was not an apostle. True he was not one of the 12 but he never claimed to be nor did he seek any kind of help from Jerusalem just the opposite we read all through out Acts that he collected funds for the saints in Jerusalem and that he also worked as a tentmaker so as not to be a burden to the poorer of the ecclesias.
It seems that Judaisers from Jerusalem were infiltrating the ecclesia’s that Paul began and were seeking to discredit him and turn these believers placed in the Body of Christ from Paul’s teaching towards following them. They taught that they were not saved unless they also were circumcised and that following the Mosaic Law would take them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
In defense of an apostle being helped out financially we read in Verse 9 Paul again quotes from the Old Testament, “For in the Law of Moses it is written: ‘You shall not muzzle the threshing ox.’” Deuteronomy 25:4. An ox at work was allowed to also eat from the grain which he was working to harvest or grind.
Early on it seems Saul and Barnabas were given the commission to collect gifts from the nations for the poor saints in Jerusalem and so throughout Acts we read of his gathering gifts to take to the poor of Jerusalem. It is sometimes referred t as a dispensation, collection, graces, and gifts. Those gifts would most likely have been money…as long as it took him to get there many times, food would spoil and anything else would be impossible for a man on foot to carry.
We will look at those passages further on. Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem was for the purpose of delivering the collection, but was followed by his subsequent arrest and removal to Caesarea and then on to Rome which covers at least a 2 year time span and is recorded in Acts 21:15 through Acts 28:16 . This visit to Jerusalem was when he also had taken a Nazarene vow before arriving and had shaved his head and was in the temple purifying himself…being a Jew?
Can we see why much of the counsel in this letter to the Corinthians does not fit us in the Body of Christ today and how so much of it is tied to the fact that he was speaking to Jewish disciples called out of Israel with the many things pertaining to their Jewish heritage and traditions. We need to use our tool of rightly dividing because we are not of Jewish heritage, understanding, Paul went to the Jew first and just as Saul was a Jew, so were the first members of the Body either Jew or of Israelite heritage.
And so Paul used what was familiar to them and what were their promises as Jews to compare what they were being given in the new administration. The physical was being left behind as they learned of the transcendent riches they were being taken to, found only in his evangel. Paul taught the spiritual by comparing it to the physical things of which they were familiar with and which were Jewish in nature.
Paul also explains further on in this letter the need to consider the conscience, their own and also that of others, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. Now this is a principal for us today, being in Grace we should deal with others in grace and even though, All is allowed…it may not be expedient and thus for the sake of another’s conscience those words of Paul’s should be remembered. It is also not ours to judge another’s conscience by our own conscience.
So Paul explains to the Corinthians, eating meat sacrificed to idols was not wrong as long the eating of that meat was not being done as worship. Yet if another saint were to be offended or stumbled by another believer’s eating of that meat, it would then be wrong for them to do so, what we are free to do is also based on if our actions were to stumble another even if our actions are lawful.
Chapter 11 In this chapter we find Paul giving counsel to the Corinthian saints concerning their coming together for the Lords supper. This is a controversial subject amongst those of us who are concordant or understand rightly dividing. As there are some who rightly divide Israel’s evangel from the evangel given for the Body of Christ and do believe the memorial supper is for us today while others do not. I have read both sides of the argument and have not understood how it could be for us today for many reasons. First, because it was begun with Jesus and his 12 Apostles, the night before He died and we do not follow Jesus or the 12.
Yes it is thought by many, that Paul tells us to observe the Lord supper in this chapter. Because we see the early church, the new administration we are now a part of, was being given counsel by Paul on how they were to observe it. Before we decide on this, let’s first note the reason and circumstances surrounding why the counsel was given, it was given because they were not giving it the honor it was due. Christ was not being remembered, it was being used like a potluck gathering with drunkenness also the wealthy were having a feast while the poor were not being shared with.
So how are we to understand this information, whether it applies to us today or not? First, I will remind us that this early group of saints discipled by Paul and called into the new administration with his evangel began during the dispensation of Holy Spirit and so the rituals and decrees were being followed. As we have discussed so much counsel given by Paul was Jewish in nature and the saints were all given and were practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we do not have today as they ceased!
Also we learned the Jews or perhaps more correctly we should say, the sons of Israel, which were called into the Body of Christ were being baptized with John’s baptism, the Gentiles were not and water baptism also ceases when the minor ecclesia is brought to maturity with the prison epistles.
WE must acknowledge that the Body of Christ began within the dispensation of Holy Spirit alongside the existing Jewish church begun by Jesus. Later, these spiritual endowments ceased and Johns baptism ceased as Paul later teaches of the spiritual baptism and this is because the dispensation of Holy Spirit ends and I believe then the full force of the dispensation of grace takes over and Paul also said we are under no decrees, I also can not find anything said by Paul about keeping the Lord’s Supper in his later letters?
But some will still object and point to Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 11:23 “For I accepted from the Lord, what I give over also to you, that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was given up, took bread, and giving thanks, breaks it and said, This is My Body, broken for your sakes. This, do for a recollection of Me.” You may read the next two verses which finish what Jesus said that night on your own. I next want to add what Knoch said in his Commentary, “That since Paul said the Lord gave this to him, we are to observe it.”
I am not convinced of this and again my reasons are: When Paul wrote this letter, the physical was still in operation, the dispensation of Holy Spirit. The Lord gave Paul the gift of healing and then He took it away along with all other physical signs and gifts of the Holy Spirit showing that dispensation had ended. Later we will read where Paul tells us we are under no rituals or decrees. I think perhaps, he is referring to the decree James sent out as he had long before told them they were not under the Mosaic Law. So what I am saying is, the Body of Christ in its infancy practiced many of the same things that the Jewish church based in Jerusalem begun by Jesus and under the 12 were doing. But we are not doing so today. There seems to have been some sort of subjection for a time to the Elders in Jerusalem.
Today, the Body of Christ is under the home law of grace and justification. But let’s look at Paul’s next words to the Corinthians and see if we can be helped further in our understanding as to if this supper is for us to observe today. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 “So that, whoever should be eating the bread or drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be liable for the body and the blood of the Lord. Now let a man test himself first, and thus let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who is eating and drinking unworthily is eating and drinking judgment to himself, not discriminating the body of the Lord. Therefore many among you are infirm and ailing and a considerable number are reposing. For if we adjudicated (tested) ourselves, we would not be judged. Yet being judged, we are being disciplined by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
I have underlined the key words or phrases in this passage and I have to ask, are they compatible with the dispensation of Grace? No they are not, but they do pertain to the dispensation of Holy Spirit and during which the saint answered for his failings.
Now I will give you Knoch’s comments on these verses, “the manner in which the Corinthians partook of the Lord’s dinner was not in keeping with the august solemnity befitting such a sacred recollection. The powers of the kingdom were still present among them and led to the judgment of those who had offended. Some suffered from illness and some even died.”
I think his words are true here and yet they do not agree with what he said earlier that the Lords Supper is for the Body of Christ today. What happened to rightly dividing? What Knoch just said was that the Lords supper was being observed during the time of the powers of the kingdom, which is what I have been saying is the time of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit…judgment from God on saints for wrong doing? If we are to take that we are to be observing the supper today, then would not we also have to be in fear of the judgment from God for partaking of it unworthily?
If that is true, then how does that fit in with the Grace Dispensation and Romans 8:1, “those in the body of Christ are under no condemnation?” I will also ask this question, if the Corinthians had not been doing anything wrong, would we find anything written about this supper by Paul? I don’t think so as this seems to be the only time he speaks of it and yet it would seem to me, that if this were a ritual we were to adopt from the Jewish saints and practice today…would not Paul have given the instructions on how to do so and separate from what we have read here?
The context of Chapter 11 had to do with their misconduct at the Lords supper. Also again, they were living in different circumstances side by side with the Jewish church governed from Jerusalem and of course they would also want to observe it as their fellow Jewish saints were doing. Jesus was their man, their messiah; they all looked for Him to return.
So to sum up, in the early days of the forming of the new administration it was under the Jewish system, with the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in operation or we might say office. But that which was physical faded away and what was left was that which was spiritual and based solely in Grace and so in the succeeding chapters Paul discusses this very thing, preparing them for the ceasing of the gifts of the spirit.
In Chapter 12 Paul addresses the spiritual endowments given these saints spoken of as being minors in Christ and as we have discussed, the early, minor, fledging, Body of Christ possessed these gifts. How could Jews who by right, expected signs have been placed in a group of saints outside of the Jerusalem ecclesia and not be given the spiritual endowments?
Signs were given by Holy Spirit and used by both groups of saints, the church that Jesus began with its 12 apostles and the church Christ began with Paul as its head apostle. Both of these groups of saints began with the rule to the Jew first. God promised that through the nation of Israel all families of the earth would be blessed and God faithful to His word and His promises, called individuals out of the 12 tribes of Israel to begin the Body of Christ.
Let’s examine Verse 3a as I wonder if it has been wrongly applied to be speaking about gentiles? “You are aware that when you were of the nations,(KJ always has Gentiles) you were led away to the voiceless idols as ever you were led” The 10 tribes of Israel left Jerusalem because they rejected Jehovah as the One true God and went seeking after other gods, the gods of the pagan nations around them. This was referred to as the taking of or going after other lovers by Hosea 2:5.
My point being, Paul went to the nations and as we have already discussed quite thoroughly in this article, Israelites were living in those nations, descendants of those 10 tribes which had left Judaism centuries before and many of their descendants would have still been in false religions and practicing idol worship along with the Gentiles of those religions in those nations.
Paul’s reference made in Verse 3b “Wherefore I am making known to you that no one speaking by God’s spirit, is saying, “Anathema (cursed) is Jesus” And no one is able to say the Lord is Jesus except by Holy Spirit.” Again I believe this statement fits the Jews and not us today. For the Jew following the Mosaic Law, to declare that “Jesus” was the Lord, he would have to of been called and chosen by God thus enabled to believe by the Holy Spirit.
The traditional Jew, who were rejecting Jesus as their messiah, would have died before every uttering such a thing….without the belief of it being true…that would have been idolatry to them. And so instead they rang down curses on this man Jesus who made what they considered to be such blasphemous claims! We have been told, if anyone says, Jesus is Lord they must be in the Body of Christ, I don’t think so. Today we have “religion” which was passed down from parents to children and or communities…as the thing to do or be. The Body of Christ is not a religion!
Christianity has become a religion, which a person joins for many reasons and many of those attending church, I believe will say Jesus is Lord because it is part of that religion to do so and yet may not be in the Body of Christ. What I mean to point out, is those words given by Paul concerned the Jews, none of them without God Spirit would have been able to claim Jesus as Lord because without His sprit they were unable to believe that and the rest of Israel would consider saying those words to be blasphemy, apostasy or idolatry!
So, again we need to always consider the Jewish nature of Paul’s letters, especially those written before Acts closes. Here again is our principle of rightly dividing God’s Word, the necessity of separating what was said to and given to Jews called into the Body of Christ from the counsel given those Gentiles also discipled by Paul and his helper apostles. Remember all of this must be considered in view of the contest of the time it was written, during a time and culture which has nothing to do with us as Gentiles or in what culture we may now be living in, our brethren are all over this world and in every country and culture.
After Paul talks about these physical gifts, the spiritual endowments given by Holy Spirit he then turns to what is solely spiritual in Verses 12,13 “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the one body, being many, are one body, thus also is the Christ. For in one spirit also we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and all are made to imbibe of one spirit.”
Paul has to be speaking of the Body of Christ; his disciples are not one body with the disciples of the 12 apostles! Is not this what Paul also writes in Ephesians 4:4 “one body and one spirit according as you were called also with one expectation….” Paul’s earliest letter is saying what he says in Ephesians?
We have already discussed this chapter in 1 Corinthians pretty thoroughly, for a review return to Page 52 but I have copied three paragraphs to review again here. (Verses 27-31 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members of a part, whom also God, indeed, placed in the ecclesia, first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, thereupon powers, thereupon graces of healing, supports, pilotage, and species of languages. Not all are apostles. Not all are prophets. Not all are teachers. Not all have powers. Not all have the graces of healing. Not all are speaking languages. Not all are interpreting. Yet be zealous for the greater graces. And still I am showing you a path, suited to transcendence.”
Many object and say this couldn’t be the Body of Christ because these saints had the same gifts given to the Jewish Pentecostal church. Simply remembering Saul was Jewish, baptized with John’s baptism had the gifts as we shall see were active and being used all through the Acts account and yet was he not the Apostle for the Body of Christ? Paul said, I was severed from my mother’s womb to be the apostle to the nations. Galatians 1:15
I wanted to go through this chapter because of our earlier question, which was if the Body of Christ was being formed during the dispensation of Holy Spirit and with saints of the church Jesus began and who were first given the spiritual gifts at Pentecost? We asked this question, as we have always seen that the gifts being part of the Kingdom evangel for Israel and because they are not for the Body of Christ today. But I have to again say yes. When Saul first shared his testimony, he ministered within the kingdom evangel and as a Jew he was baptized and he manifested the gifts of the Holy Spirit even after his severing. Yet was he not in the Body of Christ? He tells us he was severed from His mother’s womb!
And as we just read, in 1 Corinthians 12:27 Paul stated to those whom he was writing to in Corinth, they were the Body of Christ…and we must remember that he is the only Apostle to use that term. So we then factor in that he is writing to them about their use of the gifts or spiritual endowments! Because some were not using them properly and he also tells them in the next chapter that those gifts would cease. He wanted them to understand why those gifts had been given and that they would cease, because if their self worth was tied to the gift they had been given what would they do when that gift was withdrawn. They needed to mature and come to understand the gifts represented the fleshly realm and that they would be leaving that realm and entering into a spiritual realm which was far superior.
We have talked earlier of how we know the gift of healing ceased as Paul did not heal Timothy but suggested some wine for a stomach problem at 1 Timothy 1:2. I also wanted to add here where Paul refers to others, which he did not heal, a fellow worker, Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:20-22 who was quite ill…near death, mentioned also at Philippians 4:8. Another person was Trophimus left at Miletus because he was ill, 2 Timothy 4:20. If Paul still had the gift of healing he certainly would have tended to these friends.
You can read of Trophimus who was a traveling companion of Paul’s also in Acts 20:4 and 21:29. Getting back to the saints in Corinth….these new believers would need to be nurtured and taught slowly and carefully as to who they were in Christ.
You and I today, from the point of believing or recognizing that we believed have also been in a learning process. Most of us were fed so much error, the lies and myths prevalent in Christendom denominations. If we continue to learn and think on our own, questioning what we have been taught, we will mature in the word and find truths leaving error behind us, so much of it is fleshly, soulish error fostered by the denominations. Have we all had not come out of one sect or another and found ourselves in this process? What I am learning is we must never stop in our study, as in this article we are seeing, a fine tuning of what we believed…..but going into a deeper understanding and recognizing the need of making adjustments in our understanding.
The spiritual gifts are not the only things which ceased or ended and which are not needed or found within the Body of Christ of today. There are also no more Apostles or Prophets and so we must recognize the differences with the early church and with its existence today, scattered in the entire world and in all nations. So I can’t help but feel likewise with the Lords Supper being that category of things which ceased when the church matured. Which maturity does not mean the individuals in it, but the information provided by Paul as inspired scripture is complete, perfect or mature.
I think if we understand that until Paul completed the Word of God the Body of Christ’s was a minor needing physical guidance until that which is spiritual was totally revealed and they matured. Paul tells them in the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 just as we have already discussed that those spiritual gifts would cease and…he tells them what they know now is an installment of the whole. So any ritual or decree honored during the dispensation of Holy Spirit while the gifts were in operation…would seem to me, to be logical that they too would cease.
The spirit of Christ dwells within each one of us, and is He not always in our thoughts? If not, remembering, Paul’s comforting words, that the spirit within us, is in constant communion with Christ and so when we are unable to pray or find the words or even know what to pray about for one reason or another we can be confident in the spirit within us doing the job. Romans 8:26
In 1 Corinthians 12:31 following the counsel Paul gives concerning the gifts they had been given, he ends the discussion with an interesting statement, let’s analyze it a bit. “Yet be zealous for the greater graces. And still I am showing you a path, suited to transcendence.” A path is followed to a destination…Paul says he is showing them a path to transcendence…what is transcendence?
The dictionary defines it first from the word, Transcend: “a state to climb across, to rise above or go beyond the limits. To triumph over the negative or restricted aspects, to overcome or to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits.” The next form of this word is, Transcendence: “the quality or state of being transcendent.”
And also Transcendent: “exceeding usual limits, surpassing and going beyond the limits of ordinary experience…going beyond comprehension.” This seems pretty clear, Paul use of this word, was telling them that he was taking them down a path in their learning and understanding….going beyond or above what the flesh alone could comprehend! We are to follow Paul down that path is we want understanding.
He uses the expression, and still I am showing you, does this not imply that what he is saying is, I have more to teach and show you with the goal of arriving at maturity. Another word which comes to mind…is transition….The early church, was transitioning from the physical to the spiritual, this is the path Paul’s teachings was leading them down….or up? He later writes in 2 Timothy 3:10 “Fully follow me in my teaching” The early minor ecclesias were transitioning from the dispensation of Holy Spirit into the dispensation of Grace. Today we are fully there, in the spiritual realm, even if we do not fully understand it.
I know I said earlier that the dispensations of Grace must have begun when Paul was severed and yet if God was bringing judgment on saints, making them ill or bringing about the death of some for partaking of the Lords supper unworthily and or for some misconduct, then I have to ask were they truly in the dispensation of Grace yet? Perhaps Grace did not come into full effect until the dispensation of Holy Spirit ended……so let’s keep that in our minds as we continue….
At 1 Corinthians 13:10 Paul says, “Now whenever maturity may be coming, that which is out of an installment shall be discarded.” In this chapter, Paul began in Verses 1-3 by addressing the gift of speaking in languages as it was being abused by the saints in this ecclesia. Yet the gifts were physical signs of which we always associate only with Israel’s evangel, but as we have learned they were given to those early members of the Body of Christ which were made up of mostly Jews. They were minors and in the minor ecclesia Paul began. Remember Paul also said that Jews wanted signs….while Greeks wanted knowledge. Paul tells them the spiritual endowments were going to cease…but love would not and that is what they needed to cultivate.
In Verses 4-8 we have the famous passages given by Paul, giving the definition of love with him emphasizing “love is never lapsing yet, whether prophecies, they will be discarded, or languages, they will discarded……and etc” So we see he is telling them these spiritual endowments are going to cease when the ecclesia reaches maturity but he says in Paul says in Verse 12b, “At present I know out of an installment, yet then I shall recognize according as I am recognized also.”
I wonder if he means, in relation to being recognized…we are recognized by God in the spiritual realm and when this ecclesia reached maturity, leaving the physical behind which the gifts represented what he and his disciples will recognize is the spirtualness of the Body of Christ and their calling. Paul then concludes and sums up what a mature ecclesia will have in the way of gifts, in Verse 13, and 14:1 “Yet now are remaining faith, expectation, love…these three. Yet the greatest of these is love. Be pursuing love.” In the spiritual realm is not that what God has given us, all the spiritual blessings, summed up in, faith, expectation and love?
I would pause here a moment and point out the description of love given by Paul…defines perfect love, which right now only God possesses….but in the vein of how Paul lays out these three which are to remain, faith, expectation and love…these three are also spiritual gifts and they are what we have received from God …in Christ. They remained in the Body.
In Chapter 14 and Verses 2-20 Paul continues to give more counsel on the spiritual endowments, and how they should be used in a proper way and he focuses on abuse of the gift of languages. In Verse 21 we find another quote from the Old Testament. Taken from Isaiah 28:11,12. Paul says, “In the law it is written that, in different languages and by different lips shall I speak to this people and neither thus will they be hearkening to Me, the Lord is saying.” Paul explains in Verse 22 “So that languages are for a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers. Yet prophecy is not for the unbelievers, but for believers.”
When the term is given…in the Law and the Law and the Prophets…this is referring to the scriptures of the Old Testament. In this instance Paul has quoted Isaiah and says in the Law. Sometimes it will say in the Psalms, as in John 10:34; and 15:25 which shows the Psalms are also considered to be in the Law.
So the rest of this chapter, gives counsel on how their gathering together should be conducted, the famous words of a women to keep silent in the meetings are found here, Verse 34 which again shows me that this early ecclesia are following the Jewish pattern for their meetings. Later we will read Paul telling them in the Body of Christ all are equals, “no Jew no Greek, no male or female…in Christ.” Galatians 3:28
Also we must remember, Priscilla and her husband spoke to Apollos bringing him up to date on Paul’s evangel showing us women were allowed to share the evangel. Knoch describes the role of women as, being in Christ they are equals with men…but in the role of husband and wife….the husband is the head.
We also have the account of Junias who is said to be an apostle and it is thought this person was a woman. So this area remains confusing to me. Especially so, when I read 1 Timothy 2:11-13? Which says, “Let a woman be learning in quietness with all subjection. Now I am not permitting a woman to be teaching nor yet to be domineering over a man, but to be in quietness….for Adam was first molded thereafter Eve and Adam was not seduced, yet the woman, being deluded has come to be in the transgress.)
When I read this, it makes me want to hang up my hat and turn my computer off, but something is missing, if we are equals in the Body of Christ and given the same earnest of the spirit and indwelling to guide and teach us, why would a woman need to be quiet and not share? For that matter why would a woman have the desire to learn and search the scriptures to find truths ….such as me, if she was not allowed to speak?
Somehow I think the context of Timothy must be read and considered with the era in which Paul wrote this information about women and must be factored in. Again the community and culture when Paul lived and wrote was much different. For the most part women were delegated as possessions and perhaps that played a role in how the female saint would need to conduct herself so as to not draw undo attention and or persecution for actions considered to be wrong for a woman in that day and culture?
After Paul gives them all of this counsel concerning the abuse of the gifts and their immature conduct he then again tries to build them up and so turns to reminding them of his evangel. So, after the tearing down of what was immature or wrong he seeks to encourage them with the specialness of their calling in Christ.
At 1 Corinthians 15:1,2 he says, “Now I am making known to you, brethren, the evangel which I bring to you, which also you accepted, in which also you stand, through which also you are saved, if you are retaining what I said in bringing the evangel to you, outside and except you believe feignedly.” In the following Verses 3-7 he reminds them of the basis of his evangel which is of Christ’s death and resurrection…and of all “who had seen him….over 500 brethren at once, of whom the majority are remaining hitherto, Jesus was also seen by his brother James and the Apostles.”
In Verses 8-11 Paul again reminds them of his calling as an apostle, he said he is the least of the apostles because he persecuted the ecclesia of God….and finishes with whether it is him or they, referring to the early Apostles, the 12, they both have proclaimed Jesus as risen….thus the Christ. Remember the Judaisers tried to discredit his authority as an apostle to these early ecclesias. Paul and Barnabas had been given the authority to go to the nations by the elders in Jerusalem and that they would remain among the circumcision in Acts 13 and 15 and yet some were coming down to those new saints in the nations who Paul and Barnabas and his other helpers were discipling seeking to lead them away from his evangel.
Paul reminding them, he taught them what he knew…his evangel…they believed him when he was there in person with them and he reminds them that it was in his evangel that they were saved and so he hopes they do not consider that they have believed in vain! They were being told things by false teachers who were contradicting what Paul had taught them. Paul is saying, I stand by what I taught you when I was with you in person.
One of the contradictions had to do with the resurrections as some were teaching it had already occurred or that there was not to be one at all. And so Paul then leads to the amazing information concerning the resurrections….He says to them in Verse 12 “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection from the dead.”
It is possible…that perhaps some of the Sadducees had come to believe that Jesus was the messiah…but remember they denied the existence of spirits and the resurrection. They also rejected many of the false doctrines the Pharisees had accepted and so these two groups were in opposition of each other.
Paul stresses to them the absurdity of listening to these false teachers in Verses 14-19 because as he says, if “Christ had not risen then their preaching is in vain and their faith also was in vain….and they will be deemed false witnesses of God because of testifying that God raised up Christ; Whom if He raised Him not…then the dead will rise not. Now, if Christ has not been roused, vain is your faith…you are still in your sins! Consequently, those also who are put to repose in Christ, have perished. If we are having an expectation in Christ in this life only, more forlorn than all men are we.”
I thought I would add here the information on the Pharisees and Sadducees from Bullinger’s Appendix 20.
“The word Pharisee is the Hebrew for one who was separated by special beliefs and practices, which were very strict as to tithing and eating, see Matthew23:23 and Luke 18:12. It was for this reason that the Lord was upbraided by the Pharisees. Matthew 9:9-11, 11:19, Mark 2:16 and Luke 5:30; 7:34”
“The word Sadducee is the Greek form of the Hebrew, zaddukim, which is derived from one Azdok, said to be the founder of the sect, who was a disciple of Antigonus of Socho (220-170B.C.) They were the aristocratic and conservative party politically; and doctrinally generally speaking they negatived the teaching of the Pharisees, even denying the doctrine of the resurrection. Neither of these sects had any existence as such, till after the return from Babylon.”
We might look at the words of John the Baptist concerning these two groups at Matthew 3:7-9 “Now perceiving many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Progeny of vipers! Who intimates to you to be fleeing from the impending indignation? Produce, then, fruit worthy of repentance. And you should not be presuming to be saying among yourselves, for a father we have Abraham, for I am saying to you that able is God, or these stones to rouse children to Abraham.”
One last thought, I doubt that John was referring to literal stones….but perhaps to those of Israel who were standing there and who had no knowledge of scriptures such as they religious leaders boasted of and or whose hearts were stony, without Gods spirit. John is telling the religious leaders, that God did not need them, because He could use the common lay persons and indeed He did as we have learned.
First, out of Israel, He called the remnant for the church begun by Jesus and to be governed by the 12 apostles. Later, again he called out of Israel, Saul and through him also God again called another remnant of the sons of Israel to form the Body of Christ, governed by Grace.
Okay, returning to the Corinthians letter and Chapter 15, Paul then comes to one of our favorite passages and yet now made even more wonderful as we have seen the surrounding conditions of Paul leading up to this dynamic information. Verses 20-23 “Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing. For since in fact, through a man came death, through a Man also, comes the resurrections of the dead. For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.”
Verses 23b-27 Yet each in his own class; The First fruit, Christ; (I believe includes the Body of Christ) thereafter those who are Christ’s in His presence; (Israel in the kingdom on earth, resurrection of the just) thereafter the consummation, (the rest of the dead, the unjust are raised as mortals after the 1000 years have ended and thus are not vivified at that time but eventually all of mankind will be in the Day of God) whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and authority and power. For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy being abolished; is death.”
In 1 Corinthians 15:23,24 Paul revealed some new information about the resurrections. Up until Paul’s words the scripture had taught of only two, the resurrection of just and the unjust. Daniel recorded this at Daniel 12:1,2 and John speaks of it at John 5:28. Paul also referred to those two resurrections which will take place on the earth, the just and unjust in Acts 24:15. But Paul in the Corinthians letter under consideration speaks of an additional resurrection in Verses 40,41 as he explains there are two kinds of glory, a terrestrial glory and a celestial glory.
Israel only knew of the terrestrial glory which will be the earthly resurrection in the kingdom of their messiah and this is the, raising of the just and when those saints are to be given a vivified but earthly body. This body is said to be the body which Jesus was raised with and was see with by his followers, a body of…flesh and bones…..and yet it had spiritual abilities, Jesus was able to change His appearance and to walk through walls.
When Jesus ascended into the clouds, He assumed the celestial glory of which as Paul teaches is what will also be given to those in Body of Christ at the snatching away, those reposing will rise and receive that celestial body in and those who are alive when He calls will experience the change from their bodies of humiliation to the celestial glory and we all go together to meet the Lord in the air.
I feel Knoch gave some good comments in the Concordant Commentary which explains the resurrection bodies very well. Page 263, “The human body is not composed of definite, unvarying substance, but is changing its components daily, so that, in a few years, it has completely renewed its elements. Yet it remains the same body. So is it in resurrection. We do not look for the identical elements to be roused in the resurrection, even though we will identify the body as our own.”
Also on Page 264 “In death the body disintegrates and returns to the soil whence it came. This loathsome process is reversed in resurrection. Disease and weakness accompany its dissolution, but power and glory will be the portion of all who are Christ’s when He comes. Our present bodies respond to the soul or senses. They seek for physical comfort and satisfaction and pleasure. They do not respond to spiritual things. The soul is not a distinct entity.”
“It is the effect of the combination of body and spirit. Adam was made of the soil. When the breath of life was breathed into him he became a living soul. He could feel, see, hear, smell. He became conscious. Such is the body which we have now. We are dominated by our senses. In the resurrection our bodies will respond to our spirit. Physical sensations will give place to spiritual perception”
Paul had answered, the question coming from those who were protesting of a resurrection, was “How are the dead being roused and with what sort of bodies will they be coming?” 1 Corinthians 15:35. This prompts Paul’s answer given in Verses 36-41. Israel will have the terrestrial glory and body such as Jesus had in his resurrection. Luke 24:39 says he had no blood, but Jesus had told his disciples He was not a spirit as spirits do not have bones and flesh.
Paul had compared glories, explaining the change for those in the Body of Christ is to be raised to a celestial glory, not to the terrestrial glory. And so in relation to the saints in the Body of Christ….Paul said, I tell you a secret and that particular secret was not of the resurrection but of the change their bodies would make, in order to dwell in the celestial realms. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:51 with 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Our new bodies will be transformed to conform to His body of Glory, Philippians 3:21
Paul had explained that there was more than one kind of glory and that another glory was to be for those called into the Body of Christ, which is the celestial glory, receiving a vivified body also, but suitable for living in the celestial realms. I find it hard to believe that Paul had not have talked about these things with the Corinthians in person long before he writes of them in his letters, how else could they even have known what he was talking about here?
Now, after all of this information, he next says that he tells them a secret. The previous information must not have been a secret since at this point he says, now, I tell you a secret…..and so to review this, what was the secret he refers to in Verses 51, 52 when he said, “Lo I tell you a secret, We all, indeed shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed in an instant in the twinkle of an eye at the last trump.”
So the secret was of the change………..which is how those in the Body of Christ are to receive their celestial glory and when…..again Israel familiar with the trumpeting which always announced events.
Here are a few more places where Paul quotes from the Old Testament. in this first letter of 1 Corinthians 15:45. Paul used Genesis 2:7 “The first man, Adam became a living soul;” In Verse 55 he quotes Isaiah 25:18 and Hosea 13:14.
1 Corinthians 16:1-7 we find references again to the collections Paul was taking from the ecclesias to be taken to Jerusalem. When we read Galatians 2:10 it gives us the time and place when he and Barnabus were given this assignment. Also Romans 15:25,26 gives more information. “Yet now I am going to Jerusalem, dispensing (the contribution, not his evangel) to the saints. For it delights Macedonia and Achaia to make some contributions for the poor of the saints who are in Jerusalem.”
Also we can refer to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8:1-14. These references in his four letters concerning this collection and are in same time frame and thus shows the closeness of their writings…and this is one of the reasons it is said they were all written in the Acts 19, 20 time period.
Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem for Passover time and this is when he brought the collection to Jerusalem, please read Acts 21:18 through 22:21 and you will see this journey and his activities in Jerusalem which led to when he was arrested. This arrest is then the journey to Rome…which took over 2 years….from Jerusalem he is taken to Caesarea and there he appeals to Caesar and finally arrives in Rome bringing us to Acts 28.
Before continuing, I thought we would look at what Paul says concerning this collection being made among the ecclesias in Romans 15:27,28 “For they (the saints in Macedonia and Corinth) are delighted as they are their debtors, (Israel’s) for if the nations participate in their (Israel’s) spiritual things, they ought to minister to them in fleshly things also.”
This is a clue for us of how those of the nations which we understand to be those who have been called into the new administration which was first made up of the sons of Israel living in those nations as well as Gentiles had a connection with the Jewish church. As Paul said they had been made participants in the spiritual things of Israel and thus felt obligated to help the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem.
There is so much we just do not understand about that time….but more and more I am seeing that the Body of Christ was closely associated with the Jewish church during the time of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. It would appear after Acts ends, and with Paul is in prison in Rome is when that dispensation ends as the gifts cease as Paul foretold they would and were not the spiritual endowments, the gifts, the sign given as proof of the Dispensation of Holy Spirit.
Yes, we can see the heralding to the Jewish leaders comes to an end, the Holy Spirit is withdrawn as far as outwards signs and miracles…and perhaps this then is when The Grace dispensation is truly in operation?
But I cannot agree that the Body of Christ did not begin until Paul is in prison and writes the three or four letters. If those early ecclesia had been in the kingdom evangel Paul would not have taught them the many things which he did which were not being taught in Jerusalem. The proof being those Judaisers coming to his ecclesias amongst the nations and trying to discredit the new and different information Paul had given them.
Also getting back to the time frame for when these four letters were written and the collection being gathered we can find information in 1 Corinthians 16:8,9 which shows us he is either in Ephesus or heading there when writing this letter. “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” He makes reference to Timothy coming to them probably bringing this letter we have just gone through. He refers to wanting brother Apollos to visit them but that he had other plans and that he would visit them another time.
He refers to the house of Stephanas as being the firstfruit in Achacia and that they are actively involved in the ministry of the saints. Verse 19 “Aquila and Priscilla greet you together with the ecclesia of their house.” This and other places refer to meetings in the homes and so is showing us how the early saints came together to learn, in small meetings in homes, just like we are doing today.
Paul ends this letter to the Corinthians with a statement in Verse 21, “If anyone is not fond of the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema” Maranatha!” Bullinger’s notes tell us that the word anathema means accursed and the word Maranatha is Aramaic.
While Knoch has doubts of the accuracy of the word Maranatha in this verse and in his notes in the Commentary he explains why. “Maranatha is usually interpreted as “the, or our Lord cometh” in accord with the Syriac Version. But it seems far fetched to find a foreign expression here, whether it be Chaldee or Syriac, when the Hebrew furnishes a simpler and more agreeable solution. The Hebrew as in Malachi 3:9, “Cursed are you!” was probably the common phrase in which anathema or doom was pronounced. The change of m into n is of frequent occurrence when Hebrew is turned into Greek. The Syriac Version may simply insert the Hebrew without translating, in which case it should not receive a Syriac signification.
The Hebrew word of ghahram and the Greek anathema are used for one another in the Septuagint and Hebrew Scriptures. Both mean to devote to destruction, to doom. (Leviticus 27:21-29, Joshua 7:1-15; and 1 Samuel 15:1-20.) In these passages it is rendered destroy, devote, accursed, etc. The same form of expression, a repetition in a familiar tongue, is found in the phrase “Abba Father” of Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6. Moreover the coming of the Lord is never set before us as an act of judgment, but as the culmination of grace. That blessed expectation could never be used as an imprecation. It brings grace not judgment.”
So what he is saying, is that to used anathema on those not accepting Jesus and then saying Maranatha…which is the Lord cometh is being said in a judgment way and he feels not consistent with grace. But what if Paul was referring to Christ’s return to Israel which is to be a time of judgment for those of Israel who did reject Him and will again in the last days?
I find it strange if Paul is dealing here in total Grace why he would pronounce a curse on those who did not accept Jesus? Especially so, because he teaches, it is God who does the choosing and without His Spirit the soulish person cannot receive spiritual things. But, while in the dispensation of Holy Spirit, those of Israelite heritage would be answering to the Holy Spirit.
The Jews were given signs which should have caused them to listen to those under the power of God. But they did not which was the rejecting of their own Law and Scriptures which taught them that Jehovah manifested Himself to them through these signs. So we cannot let those of Israel off the hook entirely! You and I are given no signs or miracles; we have the indwelling, anointing, sealing and justification.
So, I understand what Knoch said, but what if; Paul speaking to those of Israel was referencing what they knew of, prophecy concerning the second coming of Christ…which will be the arrival of judgment? When Christ comes for us we will be immediately changed and taken to stand before the dais, requited for what we did in our physical bodies 2 Corinthians 5:10. Paul said earlier, wages or awards would be given, at
1 Corinthians 3:14 and Paul also said, “all shall receive applause from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5, Romans 2:29.
But, during the dispensation of Holy Spirit did we not learn that God did intervene at times not only in the giving of gifts, the spiritual endowments but also in the giving of judgment for wrong doing?
I also think we need to factor in that the apostles and disciples had no comprehension of how far off, was it going to be before Christ’s removal of the Body of Christ nor how far off before He would return to Israel. It is said, that if they had known, they would have been discouraged and the zeal needed to establish both groups of saints would have been lacking. Did Paul understand the separation of perhaps at least 490 years was to fall between the snatching away of the Body of Christ and before Christ would return to establish His kingdom on the earth with Israel? I doubt it.
As I said before, I can find nothing said by him or by any other of the writers in that time concerning Daniels prophecy being addressed at all. I wonder if they understood, the 70 weeks was to actually be 490 years. I do believe if they understood that prophecy and that any part of it had been fulfilled, they would have said so.
Such as the seven weeks, of 49 years had been fulfilled after the Babylonian captivity and desolation of Israel had ended with the rebuilding of the temple, they would have mentioned it and that from that time it was supposed to be counted the 62 weeks either to the birth of Jesus or His death, if that was true why would they would not have spoken of it? Fulfilled prophecy is not ignored and why wouldn’t it have been part of their evangel concerning Jesus being the messiah?
Well, I think thus far we have found answers for many of our questions and yet, a few new ones seem to have come up which requires more prayer and searching.
Which are, how we harmonize, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, during which as we have read, judgment from God did visit the saints? Also with what Paul tells us at Romans 8:1 “there is no condemnation for those in the Body of Christ” Thus far I cannot find a place to draw a line in the sand and say on this side is one thing and on the other side another thing….again, the word transition comes in. The other issue is the counsel given by Paul on women teaching?
Somehow this all relates to the fact that the dispensation of Holy Spirit began first and was operating when Saul was called and even when he was severed and sent to the nations. I see why some say the Body of Christ did not begin during Acts because of this but, at the same time I have seen information which is for the Body of Christ and so cannot accept that it did not begin until Acts ends.
As I have said before, it seems that the Body of Christ began within the dispensation of Holy Spirit and until that dispensation ends, the full grace could not be given? All we can do is keep these questions in our minds and continue with our study and in prayer asking the Lord to lead us to the correct understanding of these things.
Before continuing, I wanted to add some information Vance and I just recently found in the
July/August Differentiator published in 1967 on when the four Gospels were written.
“Dating the Gospels” Page 165 this article was written by Major R. B. Withers.
In Manual One…I had expressed the thought that the gospels were maybe written even after Paul wrote his epistles based on information available from many scholars who date them as having been written 20 to 25 years after the death of Jesus.
While this article by Major Withers brings out that Paul actually quoted from the Gospel accounts, which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If this is true this then would mean that they were written earlier than is supposed. Withers was quite astonished that no one had suspected this earlier and that even the author whose writings he discovered this information did not seem to realize the importance of his own findings.
So Withers also reasoned on this information as to….why not? It is entirely logical that following the ascension of Jesus and Pentecost that the 12 would have been together discussing their amazing experiences with their Lord and also entirely logical that they would want to record everything they could remember to share with others to who they wished to disciple to Jesus. And so why wouldn’t the gospel writers have worked on their accounts together, by using the knowledge and memories of each of the 12 as well as the many disciples who had followed Jesus and of those who also witnessed His resurrection.
Peter was told by Jesus to feed His Sheep! How was he to do that unless by through the written accounts of the life and ministry, death and resurrection of their promised Messiah, Jesus and of which they were the eye witnesses. It was their God given commission to prove that Jesus had indeed been Israel’s messiah and so it would have been important for copies to have been made of their accounts in order to show the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in His life and death.
Copies would be needed to distribute amongst the Jews whom they were seeking to disciple. And we must remember that they did not have radios, phones, TV’s or computers in those days…the only means of communication was through, oral transmission and the hand writing of letters and their mode of travel was walking, riding a beast or taking a ship!
Also as we have previously discussed in this article…by the time the Acts era was over it is very likely that perhaps 5 of the 12 apostles had been killed. It is logical the recording of these gospel accounts would have been something for them to have done while the entire twelve apostles were still alive. Also, while still fresh in their minds, they probably were gathered in Jerusalem and shared their stories and etc. So I found this fascinating information and thought I would share some of the information from that article here.
The reason being, Saul then would have had access to those gospels to study after his meeting with Christ, mostly likely during that 3 years in Arabia where we are not told what he was doing. I am sure he studied them along with the Old Testament scrolls and was very able then to prove through them the promised messiah as foretold did come and was fulfilled in the man Jesus of Nazareth.
Bishop Wordsworth in 1862 wrote a Commentary on the New Testament and in it he points out that Paul quotes from the gospels indicating that would mean they were written very early on rather than later as is most commonly taught.
Wordsworth brings out in his commentary that in 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul is quoting from both Deuteronomy 25:4 and from Luke 10:7. I am going to use the King James as that would have been the Bible Wordsworth was most likely using. So lets first read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:18 “For the Scripture saith, ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn’ And, ‘the labourer is worthy of his reward.”
I have underlined the two quotes separated by the word And. The first half of the statement comes originally from Deuteronomy 25:4. While the second half of his statement comes from Luke 10:7 and are the words of Jesus given to His disciples when He sent them out to preach, telling them to accept meals in the homes in which they were received. He says “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”
Paul was using these passages to show that a teacher was entitled to be aided financially or to be fed and sheltered by those to whom they are teaching. As we will see in the Corinthians letters Paul was attacked by the Judaisers who came from Jerusalem into Asia, harassing the ecclesias that Paul had begun because they did not like what they heard he was teaching them and so these ones were denying his apostleship and any rights to compensation as well as contradicting what Paul was teaching them.
In Bullinger’s notes on 1 Timothy 5:18, he says this quote is from Luke 4:35 and also that Paul quotes it in 1 Corinthians 9:8. And he says the latter part of Paul’s words come from Matthew 10:10. “The labourer is worthy of his meat” these words can be found in both gospels.
As I said earlier Paul quotes from the Old Testament about 85 times…when we go through the four letters he wrote before Acts 28, I will point out each time that he does. But what I am going to put here is where Bishop Wordsworth points out that Paul is also quoting from the Gospels which were written by Matthew Mark, Luke and John.
He explains the importance of this, “Paul was establishing the gospels as Holy Scripture by doing so and that he had to of had the gospel accounts and most likely the ecclesias that he established had them or had access to them. But that Paul would have used them to teach of the ministry and life of Jesus and also how His life fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies concerning their messiah.”
Wordsworth also points to Romans 11:2 being a quote from Luke 20:37, but I could not find it…but I did find Luke 20:38,39 to be quoted by Paul in Romans 14:9. Please look these up and read them. He also points to 1 Corinthians 10:27….tied to Luke 10:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 is from Luke 17:26. He also points out that 1 Thessalonians 5:2 implies knowledge of Matthew 24:43 or Luke 12:39
After Withers found this information in the Wordsworth Commentary he began to look a little deeper into it for himself and in this article he agrees with Wordsworth’s conclusions and Withers adds what Paul said in Acts 17:2,3 “as having occurred to him…that it was rather odd that Luke should so pointedly divide what Paul placed before the Thessalonians in two contrasted parts, one a prophecy about the Christ while the other a vivid assertion about his announcement to them, thus:
“Now, according to the custom of Paul, he entered to them, and on three Sabbaths he argues with them from the scriptures, opening up and setting forth that ‘It was needful for the Christ to be suffering and to rise out of the dead ones and that ‘This One is the Christ….the Jesus Whom I am announcing to you.’ ”
The last part of Paul’s statement can be found at John 20:31. The gospel accounts would have been read to them to show the suffering of the man Jesus and of the testimony of those who had seen Him after His resurrection.
Now, this new information changes some previous information, as I had said earlier in this article in looking for information on what as Saul and later as Paul he was teaching which was new or different from what the 12 Apostles taught and so I had quoted both Bullinger and Knoch which was that Saul was the first to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God…in Acts 9. But, their statements were based in their belief that the gospels were written much later rather than early on as we have just read from Bishop Wordsworth as related in the article written by Major Withers.
Which this would mean the Gospel accounts were available before Saul was even called by Christ. That would then change the entire scenario and if this is true that John’s Gospel was written before Saul’s conversion then John as well as the other gospel writers had made the assertion that Jesus was the Son of God before Saul did.
Again, this is a lesson for us…when we have one belief or premise fixed in our minds and we then build on it with additional information, but, if that original premise is in error, what we add to it will also be in error. When we read the gospel accounts especially Johns we see that Jesus is said to be the Son of God many times.
Let’s continue with this article written by Withers and to quote him, “In the modern climate of opinion, it certainly is not easy to accept the idea about Luke’s Gospel put forward by bishop Wordsworth; but to be faced with the concept of John’s Gospel being recognized, established, Scripture by the time Paul’s ministry began…that is indeed utterly revolutionary. Yet, one may well ask: Why not? There is nothing in the Acts account to forbid it. There is no evidence anywhere, of any sort, to forbid it. In plain, cold facts, outside the New Testament there is no firm evidence whatever, one way or the other. So why not?”
“If we were to strike out the speeches, the contents of the first sixteen chapters of Acts would be quite meager. Are we seriously to suppose that the twelve Apostles and their converts did little or nothing beyond what is recorded? During that period of waiting in the upper chamber. Acts 1:13-26, when they completed the twelve again, the brethren surely did more that merely wait. Surely they compared their reminiscences? Surely the understanding of the scriptures conferred by the Lord Jesus Himself on the two after the journey to Emmaus…Luke 24, did not disappear as into the desert sands! And what of the succeeding months?”
Or maybe even years, giving the gospel writers plenty of time to write and have copies made by the abundance of scribes in those days? Let’s factor into this equation that seven years passes before Saul was called. It seems very likely that the gospels were available to him and surely he would want to study them and did so during his 3 years which is said he was in Asia of which nothing is written of what he was doing there during those years. Coming to know Paul as I have through my reading of his ministry and letters, I have no doubt that he was in continuous study preparing himself for his commission from the Lord!
Withers continues, “We are told repeatedly nowadays that no one felt it needful to record these events in writing. Not only does Luke 1:1 contradict this, experience of human nature flatly contradicts it too. Peter and John were seen by the top people of Jerusalem to be unlettered and plain men, Acts 4:13; but that certainly was not true of Matthew and Luke and the tradition that Mark was Peter’s amanuensis, (Mark was not an Apostle by a relative of Peter and the writer of the gospel of Mark) is by no means unlikely.”
Lets read Luke’s introduction to the book he wrote Luke 1:1-4 “Since, in fact, even many take in hand to compose a narrative concerning the matters of which we are fully assured among ourselves, according as those who, from the beginning coming to be eye witnesses and deputies of the word, give them over to us, it seems good to me also having fully allowed all accurately from the very first to write to you consecutively, most mighty (excellent) Theophilus that you may be recognizing the certainty of the words concerning which you were instructed.” So we have some interesting things said by Luke in his introduction, I have underlined some things to make note of.
First, we have Luke’s words that others composed, or wrote narratives of the life of Jesus…..and Second, that those narratives were given over to them. The title deputies of the word, implying those in charge of managing, protecting, having copied the accounts written by Matthew, Mark and John? Thirdly, this letter is addressed to the most excellent Theophilus…most excellent was a title used for someone in authority and Theophilus was a Roman name.
I wondered who he was and why Luke addressed his account to him. But also note, the last underlined phrase…the words which you were instructed implying he had previous teaching of the life of Jesus and Luke was not writing him to confirm it? As I said I wondered who this man was…and why Luke addresses his historical account of the life of Jesus to him.
Neither Bullinger nor Knoch had anything to say about him or why the letter was addressed to him in their commentaries and so I did an internet search. I found many others who have tried to solve this mystery also. I will give some of the information that I found.
It is thought that he was either a Christian or thinking of becoming one and not having had any personal experience with the man Jesus but having heard of Him and of the claims made concerning him by the apostles and disciples and so wanted more information. Perhaps he had read the other gospels? Obviously Luke must have personally known him and so sent this letter to him for some reason. It is also thought he may have been Luke’s patron, which meant he financed Luke’s writing of his account.
Another idea put forth was that he was a Roman government official. There was also a thought that his name was Hellenistic and that he could have been an aristocratic Jew sympathetic to the early Christians. Another article brought out that High Priests serving in the temple of Herod were addressed by that title of the most excellent and that many of the Jewish High Priests at that time also had Greek names. As we know Greek was the common language at that time and the Hellenistic Jews were the ones who had accepted the Greek culture over the traditional Jewish culture and were not liked by the traditional Jews.
Another theory is that Luke was appealing to Theophilus because of the persecution of the believers in hopes that his account would prove Jesus was not only Israel’s messiah but that the Christians were not a threat to the Roman Empire. Another tradition is that Theophilus was a member of the Sanhedrin. All of these scenarios are plausible but for now we just have to recognize there was some importance of which we are not sure as to why Luke addressed his historical account to Theophilus.
In Manual Four, which is in progress and its subject is, “Who is God” I have a chapter devoted to the four gospels, and the differences found in them and the possible reasons why and so I will not go into Luke’s account any further here. Our reasons for looking at it is in relation to the article by Withers and of the early writing of the gospels.
One more side point, while looking into Luke, I found myself reading….and stumbled onto something else which I feel would show that Israel was still lo ammi. In the account given of the priest Zecharias was told his wife was to become pregnant, and he dis believed was told he would not be able to speak until the birth of the child, which this child was John the Baptist.
Please read the account it is very interesting but after John was born, his speech was returned to him and he says something in prophecy which is interesting at Luke 1:72 “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant;” Why would this priest be elated at the prospect of Jehovah remembering His covenant with Israel unless they were still living in the condition of the broken covenant….and being lo ammi?
Getting back to article on when the gospels were written, and continuing with Withers comments, “Of the theory that the common source of the Gospels was oral, there is this to be said: it is wholly unproven unless, as I contend, that they were written while the twelve were together in Jerusalem at and after Pentecost.
“Then it is easily understandable that they conferred together and planned the whole operation, each Gospel being written to cover its own specific purpose. In such circumstances, some material might conveniently be reproduced in different Gospels in the same words or nearly the same words, For it must not be overlooked that actual, completely identical use of words is not common, and writing as if it were is tantamount to deliberate deceit”
“Yet there are many close resemblances, and these are adequately explained by the presumption that the Apostles and disciples talked over them frequently, the differences by the presumption that while the general ideas remained in the actual wording did not, the rare coincidences by an occasional exceptional accuracy of memory where exactitude was especially important.”
Returning again to Acts 17:2,3 Paul as was his custom, entered the synagogues in each city that he traveled to and in this case he was in Thessalonica, and for three Sabbaths…Paul reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening them (the scriptures) and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
The account of the life of Jesus, His death and resurrection are not found in the Old Testament….but they were recorded in the Gospel accounts. Withers points out that these are the scriptures Paul was referring to and or reading from. Withers states, “Without the Gospel history, no amount of study of the Old Testament would confirm this vital truth; it (prophecy) could only confirm the truth about Jesus when eventually He did appear; and that truth itself is disclosed in the Gospels and in them alone.”
The next bit of evidence is in Acts 18:24-28 “Apollos, being able in the scriptures. He talked and taught accurately what concerns Jesus, fully versed only in the baptism of John” Where do we find the recorded information about Jesus….and John’s baptism? In the gospel accounts, which Paul says are scripture!
Next we can also look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 “For I give over to you first what I accepted also; that Christ dies for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was entombed, and that He was roused the third day according to the Scriptures.”
On this passage Withers says, “Now note particularly: what is twice said with such special emphasis to be according to the Scriptures, this is not some prophecy that He would die, or some prophecy that He would be roused; for if Paul had used such a word we would have perceived quite plainly that he was referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, to the Old Testament”.
“But what he declares so definitely here (as scripture) is found in the Gospels, and nowhere else at all. Consequently, we again find the Gospels as a whole were written early on and as something actually available and already authoritatively accepted as part of the Scriptures and this passage is in one of the earliest of Paul’s epistles.”
This is just another example of how we must be examining all that we can find written by our brethren who have trod this path before us…the path of finding truth and the removing of error, the lies and myths perpetrated on the Body of Christ by our adversary. How simple and beautiful is the truth, usually when we find truth, we feel a peace and a satisfaction of having taken in sound nourishment for our spirit.
Okay… getting back to the subject of this supplement, “When Did the Body of Christ Begin”
let’s look for more clues or hints as to what Paul was teaching his disciples as go through the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians around Acts 19 and 20.