It has been established that the epistle called
"Ephesian" is, in reality, a circular letter written to
several ecclesias or churches. In the copy from which the
manuscript that is used was made, the word, "Ephesus," is in
the margin. Later copyists put it in the text.
Paul had been to Ephesus and many other cities, and
knew that the saints there had faiththat is, that they believed in
Jesus Christ and trusted Him as Savior. Why, then, did he, in
Ephesians 1:15, speak of having HEARD of "this faith of
yours?" He was acquainted with those saints. Why not
say he KNEW of their faith? Like many other matters that are
sometimes overlooked, this statement is quite significant.
Paul's oral ministry, as told in the Acts of the
Apostles, features the fact that in his "sermons" he often
quoted the Hebrew scripturesmiscalled the Old Testament. He
had no other scriptures to quote except these. His commission
prepared him to give out NEW REVELATIONS. But it seems that he did
not do this by word of mouth. He reserved this for his
epistles. In his oral ministry he evidently did what speakers and
teachers do todayhe read a "text" and explained it.
His texts had to always be in the Hebrew scriptures He used these
scriptures whether he was speaking to Jews or to people of the
nations. With them he coupled well-known facts concerning the
ministry of Jesus, and thus argued that, according to the scriptures,
Jesus is the Christ.
Those who will carefully read the account of his
talks, will be impressed with the great number of passages he quoted or
referred to. In Acts 13:7, the proconsul wanted to hear the word
of Godthe written scriptures. Paul's sermon to him is not
given, but it is said in verse 12 that he "believes, being
astonished at the teaching of the Lord." Paul made no effort
to convince the man that he was commissioned to give out a new
revelation. He merely heralded what was written. This, the
man recognized as the teaching of the Lordthe word of
In Antioch, Pisidia, the apostle referred to several
passages. Some of these are in First Samuel, Second Samuel, the
Psalms, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. It was on the quotation from Isaiah,
that faith was manifested in the hearts of those of the nations who were
set for eonian life, Acts 13:48.
Following these meetings in Antioch, "the word
of the Lord was carried throughout the whole country," verse
49. It is evident that in these meetings several teachers sprang
up, and began to go throughout the land, teaching that which had been
written in the Hebrew scriptures.
In Iconium the teaching of the apostle was based on
the scriptures, and the people were instructed concerning the God of the
Hebrew writers, 14:11-17. In Derbe the apostle made a considerable
number of disciples, quite evidently by using the same methodappealing
to the writings. These disciples he recognized as an ecclesia,
In Jerusalem Paul accepted the decrees written by
James, based on the Hebrew scriptures. These were to be given to
the saints among the nations. Even when James quoted Amos 9:11,12,
as being applicable to Paul's work, the apostle did not deny it, Acts
15. In Philippi Paul spoke to the jailor, and, probably, to Lydia,
in terms of the covenant with Abraham, promising blessings to whole
families. Acts 16. In Thessalonica the apostle spoke in the
synagogue, showing by the scriptures that it was need ful for the Christ
to die and be roused, and showed by the Hebrew writings that Jesus is
the Christ. In Berea he taught the scriptures, and the people
searched them day by day to see if Paul had preached the truth to them..
In Athens he spoke things that he could prove by the sacred writings,
In Corinth he taught "the word of God,"
Acts 18:11. In Ephesus he heralded in such a manner that "all
those dwelling in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both
Jews and Greeks," Acts 19:10. In an address later to the
elders of Ephesus, Paul rehearsed his work among them, and showed that
he yet hat a different ministry, namely, to "certify the evangel of
the grace of God," verse 24. He had heralded the kingdom
of God, he had certified to both Jews and Greeks, "repentance
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ," verse
21. He had informed them of the entire counsel of God. All
this, in view of what he said later, was contained in the Hebrew scriptures.
The last sentence in the preceding paragraph refers
to Acts 26:22 and 23, where Paul says to King Agrippa, "Happening, then,
on assistance from God, until this day stand I, attesting to both small
and to great, saying nothing outside of what both the prophets and Moses
speak of impending occurrencesif it be the suffering of Christif
He, the first out of a resurrection of the dead, is about to be
announcing light both to the people and to the
Paul had certainly said, in epistles written before
this time, many things that are not found in the Hebrew
scriptures. But he was not being tried because of any thing he had
written. His spoken words were the basis of the accusations, and
it was to these that he referred in this statement.
Because the ecclesias had been established on
teachings that, in the main, are for Israel, and for the nations in the
future kingdom, there was a great need for re-adjustment. They
must be brought into the truth that is for the for the body of
Christ. This could be done only through Paul's writings, which
contain much new revelation. Not only must the ecclesias be
re-adjusted as to doctrine, but also as to service.
The re-adjustment is performed through the epistles
of Paulnot through his oral ministry as found in the Acts. A
new revelation was written, some of which was in accord with some things
said by the Hebrew writers, but most of which is not found there.
Evangelists, pastors and teachers took these new revelations and did
what Paul had done with the Hebrew scripturesHeralded the body of
truth that is for the ecclesia. Their "texts" were found
in Paul's epistles. When an ecclesia accepted these teachings, it
was re-adjusted. It had the "one faith," that is for the
body of Christ. News came to Paul from time to time that this
ecclesia, or that, had been e-adjusted. He HEARD of this, for he
was no longer with them bodily. Details of the readjustment will
be found in the nest issue, the Lord willing.
One would think, from hearing the average sermon,
that an abundance of scripture can be found, saying, "Not all
mankind will be saved." As a matter of fact, not ONE such
passage can be found.
In "New Testament Times," the word,
"Jew," referred to a member of any tribe of Israel.
All in Jerusalem at Pentecost were Jews, and yet Peter addressed them
as "the house of Israel," Acts 2. In Acts 19:14, is
mentioned "Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest." It is
evident that this Jew was a member of the tribe of Levi, for no other
tribe furnished priests.
It will be quite interesting to notice future
upheavals concerning Jews and Palestinians. That land belongs to
Jews of the future, but to believing ones. Neither the United
States nor England can peacefully can peacefully acquire it for Israel
ahead of God's time.