by M. Jaegle

IT IS of considerable importance that we should know just when this grace, which was given us before eonian times (2 Tim.1:9), was first manifested. The exact record concerning it reads as follows: which now is being manifested through the advent of our Saviour, Christ Jesus..." We are apt to think of Christ first coming in flesh when we read of His advent in the past. But here it would bring us into conflict with other passages. Since Paul repeatedly insists that he was given the administration of this grace, and Jesus in the days of His flesh did not consider the time had come for such a revelation (John 16:12), it is impossible that this grace could have been revealed at His birth.

There were other appearances of Christ in the past. First are those between His resurrection and ascension (1 Cor.15:5-7), when He appeared to members of the kingdom ecclesia. Yet, following these, there was one much more splendid, when He descended from the glory to meet His worst enemy, the Pharisee Saul. Even though, nothing was said of grace at the time, nevertheless it was most evident by the way Christ dealt with this fanatical opponent. To be sure, Saul was struck to the ground by the blinding brilliance, yet, instead of being doomed to death like Ananias and Sapphire, for a comparatively insignificant offense, this appearance meant for Saul not only salvation, but calling to his apostleship (Acts 26:14-18).

Grace such as this was absolutely unknown before. Paul explains it in line with this when he says "Therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian" (1 Tim.1:16). How it should affect us, that Paul sees the first revelation of the grace granted to us in Christ, in this appearance to him (2 Tim.1:10)


A second important step in the revelation of our grace took place in Antioch, where Paul first determined to turn to the nations (Acts 13:46-48). By this decision he shows that Israel had once more demonstrated how incompetent it was to carry out its priestly, function and should no longer stand between God and the nations. Now God will enter into a direct and intimate relationship with the latter. More than this, this new grace immediately introduced a new method of salvation, through which God revealed one of His grace-gifts. Up to this time the pardon of sins was made known in the kingdom evangel. Now, however, He graces the sinner with His own righteousness (Phil.3:9). A wonderful, divine method is thus presented to our spiritual eyes.

This grace is entirely divorced from the law and the pardon which could be obtained in connection with it. It goes back to an earlier administration and brings thence the glorious grace-gift of justification, which was first granted to Abraham, the father of the faithful (Gen.15:6; Rom.4:3).

Note that this is not the revelation of a secret, or the granting of a hitherto hidden gratuity, as is the case with most of our gracious gifts. Abraham already received it, and the prophets also occasionally mentioned it (Psa.32:1,2; Hab.2:4). Only it could not be given as a gift after Israel had undertaken to fulfill the law, which demands works rather than faith. Moreover, God had not prepared this gift for Israel, but for the members of Christ's body. Immediately, when this came in view, He started to bestow this basic gift of grace (Acts 13:39; Rom.3:21-28).

The greatness of this grace consists in the fact that no previous works are demanded for salvation. Before this, repentance and baptism were necessary to receive the spirit and be saved. Only in connection with these deeds could the grace, given to Israel, operate. Our grace, on the contrary, demands no deeds, only faith in the message of the cross. IN contrast to "repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38), the formula for our salvation reads: "Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him Who is justifying the irreverent, his faith is reckoned for righteousness" (Rom.4:5). It was just God's delight to bring into play a grace which, by itself alone, is able to save (Eph.2:8-10). Therefore it is of faith (apart from works) that it may accord with this all-sufficient grace (Rom.4:18). At the call of Paul, the firstling of the body of Christ, this new method of salvation was employed and immediately displayed (1 Tim.1:16).

The glory of our grace consists, first of all, in this, that it saves all by itself, and therefore is a pure, unadulterated gift. This truth should occupy our thoughts and our apprehension. By carrying over Israel's grace into the present ecclesia the realization of our own has been darkened and confused. Only by confronting one by the other will we become aware of the vast difference and the immense superiority of our own. One whose heart is stirred by this glorious truth, that we are saved alone through grace without any works whatever, will learn that this verily is a chara (joy), produced by charis (grace). And twice we read of the first who received it, that they were filled with joy and rejoiced (Acts 13:48).

Notwithstanding these first transcendent, divine riches, this tide of grace, guided into the nations, grew stronger and deeper, in that it carried with it still more glorious gifts. While this first basic grace was made known before, those which followed it had been wrapped in secrecy.

One of these Paul revealed in the first epistle that he wrote (1 Thess.4:13-18). The ecclesia of today, waits for the Lord to descend before the great affliction, and does not enter it as the kingdom ecclesia, when God's indignation sweeps over the earth. That is verily a very great grace.


In the following letters Paul makes known a further grace, the conciliation, or the secret of the evangel. It consists of the truth God does not now need Israel as a mediatorial people between Him and the other nations. Based on the conciliation through the death of His Son He can get in touch with everyone without the priest nation. Therefore Paul, and after him all true evangelists, by-passing Israel, call to all men: "Be conciliated to God!" This truth was foreshadowed in the period between Adam and Moses, but hushed up (Rom.16:25). The reign of death, before the law came, was a type of the reign of grace in the present administration (Rom.5:12-14).

Always higher and higher were the believers of Paul's ecclesias carried by this fullness of grace until they, and we also, ascend in spirit to the sublimest pinnacles in the universe, even above the mightiest celestials. With this we are promised an allotment that is far superior in glory and joy to the terrestrial kingdom.


In his last epistles, which Paul wrote during his imprisonment, he makes the final and highest revelations concerning this grace. Those weighty messages include our text, which guides into this glorious grace (2 Tim.1:19).

Before this, in Romans (8:29) we are informed that we have been called according to a divine purpose. In writing to Timothy Paul repeats this precious thought and adds thereto that it is to this grace, that was given us in Christ Jesus before eonian times, that we are indebted for our call and salvation.

In Christ it was that God chose us. But this alone did not satisfy Him. He then went on to prepare gifts for His chosen. Yes, even more than that. He provided an oblation with the greatest of all His proposed gifts, in which all others are rooted. In the words "...grace which is given to us in Christ Jesus" we are presented with the attested document, and the only place of conveyance, the commissioned Christ. As it was with our selection, we stand again before the wonderful fact that God must have viewed us in Christ in order to accomplish this.

Out of the prison epistles of the apostle this grace shines forth in fullest brilliance. According to Eph.3:6, the latest and most glorious revelation consists of this, that today, in spirit, and in future above, we are joint-enjoyers with believing Israelites.

Although we were born as sinners, and spent a shorter or longer time in unbelief, yet on the day God's spirit touched our hearts, according to His designated time we were changed from unconscious to conscious elect, and thereby into conscious candidates for His greatest riches. This grace flowed into our hearts when the hour determined by God had come, without our knowing anything of that beginning or of the whole of its contents.

So grace is the vessel in which God hands us all our other gifts " shall He not, together with Him, also be graciously granting us all?" (Rom.8:37) is the joyous shout of the apostle, in view of the divine riches which will be ours together with Christ. We are justified gratuitously in His grace (Rom.3:24). We are delivered from sin's lordship by it (Rom.6:14; 7:24). It graces us in the Beloved (Eph.1:6). Indeed, we possess it in such overflowing measure that we may know His will in all wisdom and prudence (Eph.1:8). In the grace of Christ Jesus we are granted the whole of His riches (2 Cor.8:9). When we really appreciate this grace, we can hardly think or speak of it without our hearts being filled with joy redundant and divine.


The grace for us and that for Israel are radically different. While we are being prepared for a celestial kingdom, Israel's will be terrestrial (2 Tim.4:18). The order in time also gives us the first place. "Before times eonian" it made its appearance, and was given us while we were still in Christ. No Israelitish promise goes back to this early period.

Besides all this, our grace has such a unique character that it should never be mistaken for Israel's grace. After God had made every preparation for it, He concealed it all, except justification by faith, in a secret and kept it hidden during the eons until Paul received his special commission, which is principally concerned with the revelation of this grace. During the whole period of Israel's history no one knew about this except the Lord Jesus, in the days of His humiliation. But He could not make it known at that time (John 16:12) because God was still occupied with Israel.

Israel's grace had a different history. When Jehovah called Abraham, their forefather, He gave him the grand outlines of it (Gen.12:3). Through the prophets He enlarged upon this so fully that it is apparent throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. In two passages God has made the essential differences especially clear:

"Concerning which salvation the prophets seek out and search out, who prophesy concerning the grace which is for you (Israel) ..." (1 Peter 1:10). According to this the grace for Israel was never a hidden secret. How very different does the spirit of God speak through Paul concerning our grace!

"...I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you, the nations--since you surely hear of the administration of the grace of God that is given to me for you, for by revelation the secret is made known to me..." (Eph.3:1-3). That which the Scriptures here say of the grace that God gave the nations, cannot be understood otherwise than that it was a secret, which was made known through Paul for the information of others.

Besides this important truth this verse contains another, in the word "administration," which is mentioned in association with the grace. In the plan of God, we see that these administrations, which are many, are subdivisions of the eons. The latter give us the grand divisions, but the administrations go into more minute details.

Literally translated, administration oikonomia means HOME-LAW. A household law has the task of creating and maintaining order, in that it gives a time and place for every function. This explanation may be applied to the divine plan. It reveals a marvelous order according to which God deals out His dispensations. In them we also behold the whole development of creation going step by step according to God's predetermination, leading it with absolute security to its glorious goal: God All in all.

This division of the course of God's activities began to be understood when we set out to translate the word aioon concordantly. As every truth is developed gradually, so this word was often confused with "dispensation" at first. But, by means of the exact concordant method of translation and interpretation these words were later clearly differentiated and distinguished from one another. On this definite way our knowledge went from clarity to clarity, for every truth could be kept in its divine limits. That is what is indicated by "correctly cutting the word of truth." When this is not done, when the Word of God is not interpreted and expounded according to the administrations, we can never rightly distinguish between our call and that of Israel.

Our grace is so powerful and so supreme that it reigns all alone, without admixture, during this whole administration. The previous grace was modified and weakened by law. In the transition period, before it was fully established, the law threatened to ruin it, but it went on from glory to glory, and threw off the shackles of legal decrees that would have destroyed it. But after Israel was set aside, the administration of purest unmixed grace began, that reigns supreme throughout the whole history of the present ecclesia, notwithstanding the fact that most of its members have turned traitors to the great and gracious monarch.

That Paul had a special grace to administer, other than that of the Circumcision, for Israel, was openly acknowledged. As we are informed in Galatians, this grace gave rise to an important conference. "...for to me those of repute submitted nothing. But, on the contrary, perceiving that I have been entrusted with the evangel of the Uncircumcision, according as Peter of the Circumcision (for He Who operates in Peter for the apostleship of the Circumcision operates in me also for the nations), and knowing the grace which is given to me, James and Cephas and John, who are supposed to be pillars, give to me and Barnabas the righthand of fellowship, that we, indeed, are to be for the nations, yet they for the Circumcision..." (Gal.2:6-9). The leaders acknowledged that Paul had a new grace for the nations.

That, however, was long before he made known the principal secret for the present. This gave the believers among the nations a celestial allotment in which the Israelites had no superiority as in the future kingdom on the earth (Eph.3:8). This grace also comes to us through the evangel of which he became the dispenser (Eph.3:6,7).

In his commission Paul is to "enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret, which has been concealed from the eons in God..." (Eph.3:8). Here God indicates the place where He hid this grace, that is in Himself. Therefore it is useless to look for it anywhere in the Scriptures, before Paul revealed it. Such glorious gleams of grace which we do find before the call of Paul are not derived from that grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before eonian times.

Alas! Most of us have stuck fast in that part of God's plan which deals with His mercy for Israel, and have not gone on to the Pauline revelations, which reveal a much more glorious grace. Through application and appropriation of Israel's blessings we have become poorer. Our failure to grasp our own glorious grace, and filching from Israel what belongs to them is the basis of much disappointment, and the principal cause of the lame and joyless experience of many church members.


Now this grace does not only enrich us in knowledge, but enables us to walk in genuine and true holiness. It frees us from the law. What this could not do for its subjects, grace accomplishes by freeing us from the slavery of sin. It is constantly ready to reign over us so that we can be more than conquerors.

In view of the fact that God had prepared this grace for us in a sinless sphere, and has given it to us in Christ, and so saw us then so perfect as we will once be, we should make it our constant endeavor to cooperate with grace, in order to provide for it a wholly holy abiding place, since it originated in such a sanctified environment. In truth it cannot be better honored than when a knowledge of its essence is joined with a life in which the power of Christ's resurrection is given first place.


The operation of this mighty grace does not exhaust itself during our short earthly career. In accord with its exalted and honorable character it aims toward glorious, future results, until God accomplishes His eonian plan, on a plane far above that of Israel. Indefatigably is it at work in order to train and prepare us for our grand vocation, that is, that "in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For in grace are you saved..." (Eph.2:7,8). Now we become acquainted with the highest goal that God had in view when, in that early origination of His plan, before eonian times, He gave us special grace in Christ Jesus, that we, in the future, in the coming eons, should be to the laud of His glory. To this display belongs, above all, what grace accomplishes in us and what it makes of us while still on earth, that is, its instruments. First it used itself for us, so that it could use us for itself, that is, use us in its grand operations. It has not used itself only for our salvation and sanctification, but now it proposes to use us in carrying out and completing its glorious achievement.

This knowledge, like much else, was given us through the exact translation of the Concordant Version. Throughout the usual rendering is "through grace" are we saved. That is, indeed, a great and glorious truth. But Paul had already made this known in his epistle to the Romans, in explaining how we were saved (Rom.3:24, and 4:16; 6:14). The Ephesian epistle goes further, but speaks of why we are saved. In the Original there is no preposition before grace, therefore it is in lightface type, in the International edition. It is the dative case, which tells us where anything is. It occurs in Rom.11:6; 1 Cor.10:30; 15:10; Heb.2:9; 13:9, and with the article Eph 2:8; Acts 13:43; 14:26; 2 Cor.8:19; Titus 3:7. These passages cannot be rendered through.

These words very evidently speak of a future occupation, which we will follow in the glory. There among the celestials, in beings ensnared in apostasy, grace continues its conciliatory operations, as we are the instruments which have been prepared for it. We may then carry the grace which has saved us to the farthest celestial regions. And, wherever it appears it will conciliate the worst of all the celestials and reconcile them to God. This statement in Ephesians sheds a clear light on the question, "What will be our chief occupation when we are in heaven?" When we arrive there, and everything has been regulated before the bema, then grace will take us and make us fellow laborers in its grand work.

Every gratuitous giver may look for some fruit from the object of his kindness. Now that we have fully enjoyed God's grace, and have been trained and prepared day by day for our future employment, we should display our thankfulness by allowing ourselves to be used by grace, and bring salvation in Christ to our fellowmen, in a hallowed life. Our usefulness in displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in the oncoming eons will depend largely on the faithfulness with which we fulfill our present task.

Although the Pauline ecclesia is still unrecognized, despised, even persecuted by mankind today, nevertheless it already displays some of the riches of Gods grace to the celestial hosts, in that it makes "known to the sovereignties and to the authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God..." (Eph.3:10).

If we take this glorious grace, as it is fully revealed in God's Word, into our life, our experience will confirm that it is a God-given gift which brings into our hearts an inexpressible joy, a joy which becomes deeper and deeper until it flows as a constant stream of delight. That this blessed experience is not limited to a single ecstatic burst, but becomes an all-conquering power in life, we will find best exemplified by our apostle, Paul. At the close of his life, as his afflictions increased, and he was facing martyrdom, his situation was, humanly speaking, the very opposite of good. Nevertheless the joy that comes from grace triumphed over all. The whole epistle to the Philippians is a confession of this deep, esoteric, imperishable grace.

Here we have a sublime example that this joy, which is a growth of grace, is steadfast in the midst of the heaviest affliction, even in the face of death, for it is rooted in God Himself. Let us, then, take the exhortation to rejoice into our hearts, knowing that we also, in the midst of the worst distress and pain, can confidently rest on this mighty grace to the laud of its glory.

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