Introduction To Philippians
Where is The Prize Revealed?
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would be so grateful to learn the supporting scripture to the Conclusion of this teaching. I admit much more study is required on my part. My confusion stems from the last 2 sentences which states, 'After His presentation to all the powers of the heavens, and His coronation, He will then go earthward and set up His kingdom among the nations'. I remember reading elsewhere in your teachings that the earthly kingdom had been postponed to a future unknown time. Is this teaching referring to that future unknown time? Is this future time the thousand year reign of Christ and White Throne judging. Praise God and our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.
Thank you, Michael
Where we read of "hope" in the New Testament we often find in the context a reference either to a "promise" or to a "calling". For example, Paul before Agrippa says:
There are at least three distinct spheres of blessing indicated in the New Testament:
We are now in a position to consider Matthew twenty-four and twenty-five, which is a prophecy of the second coming of Christ, and concerns the hope of Israel as distinct from the hope of the church.
The threefold prophecy of the coming of the Lord as revealed in Matthew twenty-four was given in answer to the threefold question of the disciples.
First the word translated "end" is sunteleia, a word at that time well known to every Jew, for it was the name of the third great feast, namely "the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year" (Exod. 23:16). This is evidence that Israel's hope is in view.
Secondly, we find that this coming of the Lord is to be preceded by "wars and rumours of wars". Because of the fact that there have been, and yet will be, many wars and rumours of wars since the setting aside of Israel, these words, as they stand, cannot be construed as evidence that Israel's hope is in view. If however we turn to the O.T. origin of the reference: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Matt. 24:7), we shall see that it comes from Isaiah's prophetic "Burden of Egypt" (Isa. 19:1,2), the passage ending with the words "Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance" (Isa. 19:25). This reference, therefore, when seen in the light of its O.T. setting, gives further evidence for the fact that Israel is in view in Matthew twenty-four.
Thirdly, this coming of the Lord takes place after the prophetic statements of Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 have been fulfilled.
We must now turn our attention to the evidence of Scripture as to the character of the Hope during the period covered by the Acts of the Apostles. Some commentators on this book appear to forget that it is the record of the "Acts" of the Apostles, and had no existence until those "Acts" were accomplished. If the founding of the church at Corinth chronicled in Acts eighteen be an act of the apostle Paul, both Crispus (verse 8) and Sosthenes (verse 17) being mentioned by name, then the epistle written by the same apostle to the same church, again mentioning Crispus and Sosthenes by name, must be included as the Divine complement of the record of Acts eighteen. The aspect of the Hope in view in the Acts and in the epistles written during that period to the churches founded by the Apostles must of necessity be the same. Any attempt to make the ministry of Paul during the Acts differ from the epistles of the same period is false, and must be rejected. There can be no doubt that the hope entertained by the churches during the period covered by the Acts of the Apostles was a phase of the Hope of Israel. This will, we trust, be made clear by the quotations and comments given hereafter.
We have already drawn attention to the intimate association that exists between "hope", "promise" and "calling". We must pause for a moment here to remind the reader that Abraham stands at the head of two companies: an earthly people, the great nation of Israel; and a heavenly people, associated with the heavenly phase of God's promise to Abraham, and made up of the believing remnant of Israel and believing Gentiles. This heavenly side of the Abrahamic promise is referred to by the Apostle in Hebrews and Galatians:
This heavenly phase of the hope of Israel was the hope of all the churches established during the Acts, until Israel was set aside as recorded in Acts twenty-eight.
These statements from Romans eleven are sufficient to prevent us from assuming that, because there is evidently DOCTRINAL equality in the Acts period, there is also DISPENSATIONAL equality. This is not so, for Romans dec1ares that the Jew is still "first", and the middle wall still stands, making membership of the One Body as revealed in Ephesians impossible.
In Romans fifteen we have a definite statement concerning the hope entertained by the church at Rome. Before quoting the passage, Romans 15:12 and 13, we would advise the reader that the word "trust" in verse 12 is elpizo, and the word "hope" in verse 13 elpis. There is also the emphatic article "the" before the word "hope" in verse 12. Bearing these points in mind we can now examine the hope entertained by the church at Rome, as ministered to by Paul before his imprisonment.
If a business man were to treat his correspondence in the way that some believers treat the epistles of Paul, the results would be disastrous. A second letter, purporting to rectify a misunderstanding arising out of a previous letter, would, if anything, be more important and more decisive than the first; yet there are those whose system of interpretation demands that they shall claim 1 Thessalonians four as the revelation of their hope, who nevertheless either neglect the testimony of 2 Thessalonians or explain it away as of some future mystical company unknown to the Apostle. Let us first verify that these two epistles form a definite pair, written by the same writer, at the same period, to the same people, about the same subject.
FIRST EPISTLE ;Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 1:1).
;Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:1).
FIRST EPISTLE "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thess. 1:3). SECOND EPISTLE "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet; because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all towards each other aboundeth; so that we . . . glory . . . in your patience" (2 Thess. 1:3). FIRST EPISTLE "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). (A reference to Deut. 33:2, Psa. 68:17 and Zech. 14:5 will show that the "saints" here are the "holy angels" and not the church). SECOND EPISTLE "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire" (2 Thess. 1:7,8).
The following predicted events must precede the coming of the Lord as revealed in 1 and 2 Thessalonians:
The Thessalonians had already been taught by the Apostle himself concerning the events of prophecy, and would doubtless have read 1 Thessalonians four in harmony with his teaching had they not been deceived by fa1se interpretations. The reference to the Archangel would have taken them back to Daniel 10-12. The epistle of Jude uses exactly the same word as is used here, and tells us that the Archange1's name is Michae1 (Jude 9). Immediately following the great prophecy of the seventy weeks, with its climax in the "Abomination of desolation", we have the revelation of Daniel ten. There the veil is partially withdrawn, and a glimpse is given of the Satanic forces behind the "powers that be". Michae1 is said to be "your Prince" and in Daniel twelve we read:
The "present necessity" of 1 Corinthians seven is no longer applicable on account of the failure of Israel and the suspension of their hope. So in 1 Corinthians eleven, the teaching of the chapter was only true while the hope of that calling was still imminent. When the people of Israel passed into their present condition of blindness, as they did in Acts twenty-eight, their hope passed with them, not to be revived until the end of the days, when the Apocalypse is fulfilled.
Meanwhile a new dispensation has come in, a dispensation associated with a "mystery" and unconnected with Israel. In the very nature of things a change of dispensation means a change of calling. It introduces a new sphere and a fresh set of promises, and demands a re-statement of its own peculiar hope.
Special features of the present dispensation: First of all let us observe two features that marked the previous dispensation, but are now absent.
When Paul spoke to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he made it quite plain that one ministry was coming to an end and another, closely associated with prison, was about to begin. Re reviewed his past services among them, and told them among other things that they should see his face no more (Acts 20:17-38). Later, before King Agrippa, he reveals the important fact that when he was converted and commissioned by the Lord, in Acts nine, he had been told that at some subsequent time the Lord would appear to him again and give him a second commission (Acts 26:15-18).
Right up to the last chapter of the Acts, Israel and miraculous gifts continued to occupy their pre-eminent place (Acts 28:1-10, 17,20). Upon arrival at Rome, Paul, although desirous of visiting the church (Rom. 1:11-13), sent first for the "chief of the Jews", telling them that "for the hope of Israel" he was bound with a chain. After spending a whole day with these men of Israel, seeking unsuccessfully to persuade them "concerning Jesus" out of the law and the prophets, he pronounces finally their present doom of blindness, adding:
During the two years of imprisonment that followed, the Apostle ministered to all that came to him, teaching those things which "concern the Lord Jesus Christ" with no reference this time either to the law or to the prophets (Acts 28:30,31).
The omission of "the law and the prophets" from Acts 28:31, as compared with verse 23, is an important point. Throughout the early ministry of the Apostle he makes continual and repeated appeal to the O.T. Scriptures. But when one examines the "Prison Epistles" one is struck by the absence of quotation. The reason for this change is that Paul, as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles, received the Mystery "by revelation" (Eph. 3:1-3). This mystery had been hidden from ages and generations, until the time came for Paul to be made its minister (Col. 1:24-27). It could not, therefore, be found in the O.T. Scriptures.
This church finds its sphere of blessing "in heavenly p1aces, far above all principality and power. . . seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:3,20,21,2:6)
This church is not an "evolution", but a new "creation", the peculiar advantage of being a Jew, even though a member of the church, having disappeared with the middle wall of partition (Eph. 2:14-19)
This church is the One Body of which Christ is the Head, and in which all members are equal (Eph. 1:22,23, 3:6), a relationship never before known.
While the very nature of things demands a new dispensation consequent upon Israel's removal, we are not left to mere inference. There is a definite section of the N.T. with special teaching relating to the church of the present dispensation. This 1s found in the epistles written by Paul as the prisoner of the Lord for us Gentiles. These epistles are five in number, but we generally refer to the "four Prison Epistles" , as that to Philemon is practica1 and personal and makes no contribution to the new teaching.
The reader will find in each of these epistles, evidence that they were written from prison and that they form part of the ministry referred to in Acts 28:31
It might be well if the reader pondered the marginal reading of Ephesians 1:17 where, instead of "in the knowledge of Him", we read, "for the acknowledging of Him". This raises a most important point. Many fail to go forward with the truth, not because of inability to understand the meaning of plain terms, but because of failure to "acknowledge Him". The Apostle pauses in his teaching to tell his hearers that before another step can be taken, acknowledgment of what has already been revealed must be made. To acknowledge the truth of the Mystery is to put oneself out of favour with denominationalism; and many a child of God who says, "I do not see it", is really making a confession of failure to acknowledge the revelation of truth connected with the ascended Lord.
In Ephesians 1:12, where the A.V. reads "first trusted", the margin reads "hoped"; and as we cannot speak of "the blessed trust" or "the trust of the second coming" it is best to keep to the translation "hope". The actual word used is proelpizo, to "fore-hope". Of this prior hope the Holy Spirit is the seal, and as such is "the Holy Spirit of promise".
What promise is in view? There is but one promise in the Prison Epistles. The Gentiles who formed the church of the One Body were by nature
Believing as we do that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, we must be careful to distinguish between the different words used by God when speaking of the hope of His people. We observe that the word parousia usually translated "coming" , is found in such passages as the following.
While the epistle to Titus is not a "Prison Epistle", it belongs to the same group as 1 and 2 Timothy. There, too, we read that we should live
We may perhaps illustrate these different aspects of the Second Advent by using the occasion of the marriage of a King of England at Westminster Abbey. The marriage is one, whether witnessed in the Abbey itself, from a grandstand, or from the public footway. So, whatever our calling, the hope is one in this respect, that it is Christ Himself. Nevertheless, we cannot conceive of anyone denying that to be permitted to be present in the Abbey itself is something different from sitting in a grandstand until the King's son, accompanied by "shout" and "trumpet", descends from the Abbey to be met by the waiting people. These waiting people outside the Abbey form one great company, although differentiated as to point of view. So the early church, together with the Kingdom saints, form one great company, although some, like Abraham, belong to "the heavenly calling" connected with Jerusalem that is above, while others belong to the Kingdom which is to be "on earth". We can hardly believe that any subject of the King would "prefer" the grandstand or the curb to the closer association of the Abbey itself; and we can hardly believe that any redeemed child of God would "prefer" to wait on earth for the descent of the Lord from heaven if the "manifestation with Him in glory" were a possible hope before him. We cannot, however, force these things upon the heart and conscience. We can only respond to the exhortation to be "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15). All God's Blessings, The Believers
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