Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger
Plainer Words Since 1968
PLAINER WORDS ONLINE … FOCUS ON EPHESIANS
If I were asked to give the meaning, in plainer words, to the Biblical word, “Faith,” I would have to say that, “Faith believes the words which come from God.” Faith believes God has spoken. Faith embraces what He has spoken. Faith believes the inspired words spoken by His Prophets. And, Faith believes that God has spoken through His written Word.
This, also, includes that God has spoken through the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1). The “prisoner of the Lord” (Eph. 4:1) was the Apostle Paul. The last seven epistles he wrote, he did so under inspiration. These are commonly referred to as “The Prison Epistles.” This cluster of inspired writings was the last Communiqué from God. It concerns the doctrine Paul called “The Mystery.”
“Mystery” in the Biblical sense means, “a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding. A hidden purpose, a secret will.” It can, also, denote a mystic sense. In Paul’s doctrine of “The Mystery,” it has been made manifest to the saints. The secret has been made known. “The Mystery” that was revealed after Acts 28 can be summed up in the following verses:
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but NOW is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Col. 1:25-27).
Those who have believed the Latest Report from God are those who have been saved by grace. This salvation is taken hold of by faith.
Those who fail to believe this late report cannot be saved into this calling because it is apprehended by faith (Phil 3:12-13). The Lord acknowledges that the only medium of exchange is FAITH. Failure to believe God’s Present Purpose, when it has been committed to writing, leaves individuals minus an excuse for not understanding the Sacred Secret Paul revealed. “The Mystery” was made known by the Prisoner of the Lord about 62 or 63 A.D, according to the standard orthodox dating. However, some suggest that the Colossians and Ephesians Epistles could have been written by Paul from Asia Minor in the 80’s or 90’s—perhaps, even from Ephesus.
The important point is that the Revelation of the Mystery was made known AFTER “The Acts of the Apostles” concluded at Acts 28:31. Many Pentecostal Truths are not brought forward into the Dispensation of the Grace of God. To do so is to transport Truths belonging to a Past Dispensation into the Present Dispensation in which they do not belong.
Those who fail to believe the Latest Report from God cannot be saved into the Present Calling because it is only joined by FAITH—that is, to believe Truth revealed in “The Mystery.” Failure to believe God’s Present Purpose results in a Christian missing this Calling. God’s Revelation of the Mystery was written in ink on papyrus sheets and circulated among believers throughout the Roman Empire. It was written in the language spoken by the average man of that time. There was no excuse for a believer failing to believe the Latest Report from God—found in Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
“The Mystery” is NOW made manifest to the saints (Col.1:26). It had been “hid from ages and generations” (Col.1:26). This Truth was Holy Spirit inspired, given exclusively to the Apostle Paul. Upon Paul receiving the revelation, he taught it to the new set of apostles and prophets (Eph. 3:5). When “The Mystery” was committed to writing and placed in circulation, it became the STANDARD Christian doctrine for Present Truth. Paul’s Letters (his Epistles) were copied over-and-over again, and circulated throughout parts of Europe and Asia Minor. With this happening, Present Truth was “now made manifest to the saints” (Col.1:26).
Those who read Plainer Words Bible Studies on a rather regular basis have no need in me pointing out the following, but for new readers, please take note − none of the Prison Epistles were written to the lost. They were written to “the saints.” This Truth was for Christians in order that they may move from New Testament Faith to Mystery Faith. Failure of any saint “to see what is the Dispensation of the Mystery” (Eph. 3:9) results in missing the mark of becoming fully mature and “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This lofty goal is attained, only, through FAITH—in believing the latest Communiqué from God.
SOME SAINTS WERE CHOSEN TO BE MINISTERS OF THE “EKKLESIA”- OTHERS WERE “ADDED TO THE LORD”
It was pointed out in Part 5 of this study that those who were simply “saved,” and know it, do not necessarily become members of the Church [Ekklesia] whether it was the Church of God or is the Church, which is His Body. Officials of both entities were called to salvation and, subsequently, chosen to become Members of the Government of God.
Notice the pool of believers who followed Christ during His earthly ministry. It was usually multitudes, numbering at times, 5,000.
“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto Him His disciples (perhaps the multitude): and of them (the multitude) He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
He chose twelve men—no women. There were a number of women of faith. Could He, for example, have chosen Martha or Mary, the sisters of Lazarus? But no, He chose all men. Women were not even considered. This is not to say that women played no part in advancing the Christian faith. They certainly did. Paul named some for prosperity But they were to hold no Official leadership.
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Cor. 14:34-35. cf. 1 Tim. 2:11-12).
In this day and time, I know of no church, or churches that qualify as an Ekklesia. The Apostle Paul may have tried to setup local “mini-states” with Theocratic rule and regulations after he received the revelation of the Mystery. Paul was divinely supplied with special men, according to Ephesians 4:11. These special men were for the perfecting of the saints, and the redirecting of the body of Christ into Present Truth, till they all came into the unity of the faith. Believers were to come to the full knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
Sadly, this never materialized. 2 Timothy explains that the Doctrine which Paul taught as Present Truth was scoffed at. He was treated as an “evil doer.” Close associates, like Demas, forsook him and declared that Paul was out of the will of God. He was imprisoned.
Notice a significant truth found in Acts Chapter 2 Verses 12 to 14:
“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord [not to the “Ekklesia”], multitudes both of men and women”
A very poignant revelation is made in Verse Fourteen where it is recorded that “multitudes both of men and women” were added. The Bible student who has been given the Spirit of Illumination detects that being “added to the Lord” does not mean they were added to the Church. Consider the, “Why is that so?”
The “eyes of [our] understanding” immediately fixated on “multitudes both of men and women.” Women were NOT admitted to the Church, which is to say, the “Ekklesia.” Women who were believers during the Acts Period did not become Ministers in the “Ekklesia of God.” If we think the church, or churches during “The Acts of the Apostles” are mirrored by local churches, today, we are gravely mistaken. Why? Because, in the Biblical sense, the English translation of “Ekklesia” is “church,” and it is the Governing Body who ruled over the Christians during the Book of Acts. In plainer words, not all believers were members of the “Ekklesia.” The Ministers of the Church [Ekklesia] of God were special men, not women, whom God chose to be the rulers—Apostles, Elders, Deacons, and Bishops. He chose them through His designated ones of who Paul was the Chief.
It should, also, be understood that during the Acts Period, saved Gentiles were not allowed to be officials in the “Ekklesia.” Not only that, but Gentiles were not authorized to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Gentile position was changed with the announcement of Acts 28:28:
“Be it known therefore unto you [the Jews], that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”
(A thought I have had, for quite awhile, concerning a “What if phenomenon?” The Apostle was a very unique agent of Christ. He was God’s Pattern-man. He enumerates just a few of his credentials which highlights his extraordinary Apostleship in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Paul’s inimitable Apostleship leads me to wonder--while Paul was in prison, after Acts 28, did he have a Heavenly Visitor? —Who no one saw. Only Paul did. If so, the Apostle saw Him clearly, with his Spiritual eyes. His Visitor was the Lord Jesus Christ. It could be that the Apostle Paul took Personal dictation from Christ Himself. The Lord made special appearances publicly during His earthly ministry. During this Visit to the prison’s the dungeon, Paul penned Colossians and Ephesians).
While Paul was in bonds in prison, he learned that the Word of God cannot be bound (2 Tim. 2:9). While Paul was “in bonds,” the Word of God was not! The epistles he wrote, as a Prisoner of Jesus Christ, after Acts 28:31 was in circulation throughout the Roman Empire and parts beyond.
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