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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday AM
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome, one and all, to HBS.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7).
There were no banks in Paul’s day for people to place their valuables (treasure) in for safekeeping. They used “clay pots” (earthen vessels) to keep their prized possessions in and these were buried secretly. One such treasure was discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd in 1947 and excavated by archeologists in 1949. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in “clay pots,” in 11 caves at Qumran. These scrolls are valuable because they comprised a vast collection of Jewish documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. They include manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Bible except for the Book of Esther; and all of them were written nearly one thousand years earlier than any previously known biblical manuscripts. Even more amazing, all of these scrolls were in excellent condition after spending 2000 years in the “clay pots.” The Dead Sea Scrolls give us confidence in the reliability of the Old Testament, since there were only minimal differences between what we already had and those found in the eleven caves.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7, our Apostle Paul used this facet of everyday life to illustrate one of God’s spiritual truths specific to the Church Age. All those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ (by believing the gospel) are joint-heirs with Him. What this means for us is truly incomprehensible on this side of glory. However, the Bible explains we are the recipients of all that is His in heaven (Galatians 3:16, 26-29).
This doesn’t mean we miss out on the blessings of the kingdom. We’ll share in the blessings of God’s kingdom too, but we are not heirs of God’s earthly kingdom. Per this book, the heir of the kingdom is a matter of nationality (the nation of Israel) through the covenant the LORD made with King David 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 33:17). In the Dispensation of Grace, heirship is based on relationship. Since we’re adopted children of God, through faith, whatever is rightfully the Lord’s is now rightfully ours because Believers are one, in Christ.
So, the question is, “Why would God place these valuable treasures in us?”
Like the “clay pots” of old, which had innate imperfections and no two alike, humans are imperfect, sinners. The majority, thinking more highly of themselves than they should, says: “I don’t need God...” But Paul basically said, “You can’t get there from here” when he wrote: the power will be of God and not from ourselves. It is the power of God working through us that produces the fruit of the Spirit and enables us to walk in newness of life. Thus God receives all the glory, honor, and praise not us.
Please open your Bible at Ephesians 1:15
15: For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
We have various means of communication afforded to us today. Because getting our message out and receiving regular updates from multiple sources is almost effortless and so handy (no pun intended) we often take them for granted. But, in Paul’s day, communication with the churches he planted was not easy; in fact, the greater the distance the more difficult it was to communicate.
Paul was concerned for all the churches and the Believer’s spiritual progress (2 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 3:14; Philippians 1:8; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). Four years had passed since Paul ministered to the Ephesians, and we know he wrote this letter from prison. Communication in those days was routinely accomplished by word-of-mouth. But, since Paul was in prison at this time, he probably received information from letters and from those who visited him there.
Paul had heard, in some way, two things about these Ephesians, which identifies them as Believers in Christ:
Their faith in the Lord Jesus and
Their love for all the saints
Upon hearing this news, Paul knew their salvation was firmly established, unlike the Galatians who had veered off course. This book says these two aspects of spiritual life noted above are inseparable. Let me show you what this book says; let’s all turn to 1 John 2:9-11.
The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness (if Light is a metaphor for righteousness, then darkness signifies evil and the presence of sin in one’s life) until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9-11).
There’s another verse I want you to see. Let’s turn to John 13:34-35. Here we find Jesus Christ informing His disciples love for other Believers is evidence of one’s salvation:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, (Jesus not only “set the bar” He is the Bar) that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
During His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:1 –25:46) Jesus Christ said one of the signs we should expect as “the end draws near” is the lack of love in this world: “Because lawlessness is increased (on the earth), most people’s love will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:12).
Our Apostle Paul enlightens us even more about the love of others waning in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2 he wrote: For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, savage, haters of good.
Anyone who has the Spirit of God within them understands we are seeing evidence of these things every day now, and it will worsen as the Day of the Lord draws near (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2). For even now the “haters of good,” i.e. those who have decided to disregard God and His Truths have turned our way of life upside down. They’ve produced an environment where “Right is wrong and wrong is right.”
So, the emphasis in verse 15b is on true, saving belief, with the lordship of Jesus Christ as the object of one’s faith. The N.T. teaches us not only is Jesus Christ our Savior, He is Lord of all: For this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living (Romans 14:9).
Only Believers can say, “Jesus is Lord,” because they possess the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). This gift from God was given as a pledge to us; a down payment of our inheritance the moment we believed (Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:14).
Again, verse 15c expresses the fact the second mark of genuine salvation is love for all the saints. It was because of their sincere love for one another that encouraged our Apostle Paul to offer thanks (1 John 3:14). True salvation produces fruit in the life of the Believer. The first Fruit of the Spirit is love, for good reason; God requires it of us.
This book says we do not express our love in words only, but in deed and truth: Little children, let us not love with word or with the tongue (only), but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18, 5:1).
In the N.T. true spiritual love is defined as an attitude of self sacrifice, a willingness to perform generous acts of kindness to other Believers (Ephesians 4:32). Love is a verb!
16: (I, Paul,) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
Paul opens his letter with prayer, giving thanks; first and foremost, for this church and its members, because, based on the evidence of their love for one another, they were true Believers. He didn’t say this church was without problems. Like any church there are issues that must be dealt with. We’ll get to this later in the lesson.
“Anything you do that causes God to smile is worship.” God smiles when His children give Him thanks and praise continually. We’re not so different. How many of you frown when someone thanks you or acknowledges your efforts? Few if any I’m thinking… We all enjoy receiving heartfelt appreciation and congratulations from loved ones, co-workers, etc. There’s nothing like a “pat on the back,” in other words, to lift one’s spirit; it brings about joy and peace in our lives.
God loves hearing from us, which is why Paul emphasizes it here. Believers are to thank God always, even in times of trouble, knowing these trials have a purpose:
God works in all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The daily pressures we face do not alter the promises of God. We have not been forgotten, folks. God is working His plan and we’re to be thankful His plan includes us His adopted children!
…giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the and Father (Ephesians 5:20 – Berean Literal Bible).
Paul informs us it is God’s will we be thankful at all times and we express this joyous praise with more than just words (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We are to love others; we are to perform good works while we have the opportunity, especially those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:10).
17: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom (i.e. hope) and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
This statement is in reference to the true Believer’s sanctification and this makes sense since it immediately follows Paul’s last statement. He’s talking about their ability to determine truth from untruth, which only the sanctified mind (set apart for the use intended by God) is capable of (1:8). It’s the ability to grasp the greatness of the glorious hope we have in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2) and in regards to our inheritance (1:3-14).
How do we know this? Paul devotes the remainder of this chapter to prayer asking God the Father (the source of all our blessings) to give Believers true comprehension and appreciation of our future inheritance because we are securely in Christ.
We Believers need to think and act as though we’re children of God, because we are. In Light of this, God the Father does not want us searching for what is already ours. People seeking to have “more Jesus “or to receive more of “the Holy Spirit” need to know it’s not about getting more of either Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. You’re tank is already filled. This books says, “Paul was filled with the Spirit” after his conversion (Acts 9:17). This means Paul, like any other person who has been saved, by faith, is filled with the Spirit when they are under the Holy Spirit’s control; is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Thus, you are empowered by the Holy Spirit when you actually practice walking in newness of life, exercising the nine fruits of the Spirit.
Instead of chasing after something you already have, Paul wants the Ephesians (and us) to know God is the source of all we need (not want), and has it ready for us, if we are receptive to His truths. As I said, we can’t get there under our own power or our will. Paul explicitly said: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
In this present darkened age, our primary need, after being saved, is for wisdom, and of revelation in the knowledge of Him in order to appropriate the many blessings the Lord Jesus Christ has already given to us; that are ours now through faith. One of the problems God’s one Church is experiencing is not the absence of these blessings, but a lack of insight and wisdom to understand and use them faithfully. This means most Christians today are not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can search the “deep things of God,” and only the Spirit can make us understand them (Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). Paul’s saying we are not making use of the resources God gave us.
Wisdom qualifies as a gift from God. Knowledge is accumulated learning, over time. Thus, the Spirit of wisdom is a gift of God through the Holy Spirit. This is beyond the natural ability of sinful man (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Revelation, as Paul used the word here, is a synonym of wisdom. It deals with God’s imparting spiritual knowledge to each one of us. You see, we must know and understand our position in Christ before we can serve Him faithfully. Said differently, we must know what we have before we can use it to the honor and glory of God.
This thought takes us to verses 18-19.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened – put another way, Paul’s saying, “Your mind’s understanding may be fully enlightened.” This brief statement further explains verse 17. That you will know signifies the Believer comes to know these three things upon being enlightened:
What is the hope of His calling; that is, we fully realize how sure (certain) is our heavenly destiny.
What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance; that is, we would become filled with knowledge that recognizes both the priceless value of His salvation, and what a priceless treasure He is to God; and then
What is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe; that is, we would recognize how God’s power has changed us since our conversion, i.e. we experience this divine strength and transformation (24/7/365) in our daily living. The true Believer has their eyes on the goal and is always progressing towards it (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We cannot bring about change in ourselves. Without God’s intervention in our lives, we wouldn’t even be aware of the need for change. The Holy Spirit can and will transform our hearts and minds which leads to changed lives (Psalm 139:23-24; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 1:6).
In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as “the seat of emotions and feeling.” But the ancient Greeks and Jews considered the heart (Kardia in Koine Greek) as the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The N.T. also uses it this way. When Paul says “he’s praying,” he means to say he’s praying for the minds of the Ephesians to be enlightened. Acting upon one’s emotions is one thing and it tends to be misguided thinking, if you’re not operating in line with God’s wisdom. Paul wants the Ephesians and us to understand we come to know God’s Truths through our mind’s eye which is why we are to: Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you… (Colossians 3:16).
When the Holy Spirit works in the Believer’s mind, He enriches it to understand divine truth that is both deep and profound, and then relates that truth to life, including those aspects of life that involve our emotions. The eyes of your understanding enlightened, would mean God has allowed your innermost being to understand. The Light has shined on you from within and revealed the meaning to you.
Two examples of this teaching from Scripture are our Apostle Paul, for one. This is exactly what happened to him on the road to Damascus. The Truth was revealed to him from within. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus is another example. Their hearts (i.e. their minds) “burned within them;” but it was not until “their eyes were opened” that they recognized the stranger in their midst as the Lord” (Luke 24:31-32).
His inheritance in the saints; no one can realize all that this means, including your truly. I do know we are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus of all which God possess. It is the consummation and end of salvation which God promised from eternity past and has held in hope until the future manifestation of Christ.
What is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe – that power which raised Jesus Christ from the grave and returned Him to the Father to sit at His right hand is given to each Believer at the moment of their salvation. What’s more, it’s always available (Colossians 1:29).
Paul didn’t pray asking God for this power to be given to the Believers in Ephesus, but that they be aware they already possessed this power because they are in Christ, and then use it (1 Corinthians 1:18; Colossians 3:20). The Ephesians, like every other Believer in Christ, has been saved by grace through faith (alone). They were once the objects of God’s wrath, but now, through God’s power, and not by anything we can do; they have been made alive with Christ (Romans 6).
which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
The power of God not only raised His Son from the dead, He ascended bodily into the third heaven (the sky above where birds fly and clouds stream by is the first heaven. The place where the stars, planets, and vastness of outer space exist is the second heaven. The place where Paul was caught up is the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), and this is where God resides.
We learn from the very first statement in this book at Genesis 1:1 there is more than one heaven: In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural) and the earth.
Which He brought about in Christ - the power God the Father exerted in raising Jesus Christ from the dead was as great as that of the creation event. In the Genesis account the LORD God brought forth life where life did not exist. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God imparted life to His Son’s mangled, dead body.
Paul informs us and the Ephesians the Lord Jesus Christ is now seated at God’s right hand (figuratively speaking) in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power, and dominion (Psalm 110:1). The Jewish religious leaders wanted to silence Jesus, permanently, so they constantly tried to trap and trick Him into making a blasphemous comment. Why? The most common punishment for blasphemers was capital punishment (death) through stoning (Leviticus 24:13-16; John 10:30-33).
The Lord’s disciple Stephen was stoned to death by Jewish religious leaders after these words: “…But being full of the Holy Spirit (he was under the Spirit’s control), he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus (doing what) standing (not sitting) at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens (plural) opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:54-60).
Why did they stone him to death? He said he saw Jesus, standing at the right hand of God, meaning: standing (not sitting) indicated Jesus was preparing to return to earth. This meant condemnation and righteous judgment, i.e. God’s wrath poured out on His enemies (Joel 2:30—31). The Jewish religious leaders were aware of this prophecy. But instead of thinking things through, they considered this blasphemy and stoned Stephen.
Jesus told them in Luke 20:42-43, The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Back then being at the right hand was a place of authority to whoever sits upon the throne and in this case, it was God the Father (Luke 22:69). Today someone might say, “He’s my right-hand man,” meaning: the one who carries out my instructions, accomplishes my will, and functions in my place (John 6:38, 8:42).
The prophet Isaiah wrote: “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the One who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:13). In ancient times Roman soldiers held their primary sword (the Gladius) in their strong hand, which predominately was their right hand. Therefore from a biblical perspective the right hand signifies a position of authority and power.
And every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come (v21b). Here Paul moves from Jesus Christ’s authority and power to His majesty. Paul’s third prayer request is for the Lord to give Believers understanding of the greatness of His Person who has secured their salvation for eternity and empowers them to walk in newness of life.
Rule and authority and power and dominion were traditional Jewish terms to designate angelic beings having a high rank among God’s heavenly hosts. The Lord is exalted above them all (Revelation 20:10-15) through the power of God. With regard to His present position of authority, the phrase “but also in the age to come” gives us the deep understanding the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all, whether they admit it or not.
Paul enlightens us with this statement: so at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). This passage says what it means and means what it says.
22: And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church (i.e. Ekklesia)
And He put all things in subjection under His feet – this phrase reflects Psalm 8:6, where David speaks of the honor given to man to rule over God’s creation on earth. This takes us back to the LORD God’s words at creation: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over (what) all the earth… (Genesis 1:26).
What the man lost through his sin, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, regained (1 Corinthians 15:45). The complete fulfillment of these words awaits the Lord’s return, when He achieves the final victory over Satan (1 Corinthians 15:24-27; Hebrews 2:8-15), His resurrection, ascension, and present position of authority at God’s right hand guarantees the inevitable outcome. All things, including the satanic forces of evil in the spiritual realm, are under Christ’s feet, even now.
Then Paul said, “and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” The Church is Christ’s body. Paul is the only N.T. author to use this language. He develops it at great length in 1 Corinthians 12, as it relates to our relationships with one another, each with different spiritual gifts. But here Paul builds on those comments expressing the fact that Jesus Christ is the Head over all things to the church, and we are His body. These are deeper Spiritual truths.
This is a good place to teach y’all God didn’t create religion; He purposed the existence of His Church before the foundation of the world. Religion, an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods, is man-made. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we would all have “religion.” Christianity is mentioned in the Bible but it is so much more than an organized system of beliefs… it is about a Person, namely Jesus Christ. Through the centuries we find religion breeding death, destruction, and wars all over this planet, but Christianity breeds love. Religion says, “You’re not working hard enough,” Christianity says stop trying; “It is finished!” All that needed to be done God accomplished through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Religion had nothing to do with it.
The Bible says all the fullness of the deity dwells in Christ (Colossians 1:19, 2:9). The passage in Colossians and one other found in 2 Corinthians 5:19 are the most explicit statements of Christ’s deity from our Apostle Paul. Colossians 2:9 reads: For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (KJV); God was in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9). Put another way, all that makes God who He is found in Christ Jesus. This does not mean the Father is not also fully God or the Holy Spirit is fully God. This verse is saying Christ Jesus is by His very nature, God, the Supreme Being and the Creator of all that is seen and unseen and exist through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
In other words, the fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus Christ as He took on human flesh: The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, (See the Transfiguration of Christ), glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-7: who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself (of His divine privileges), taking the form of bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
23: which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all - God appointed Him head (ruler), over all things for the benefit of God’s one Church. His body is a metaphor for God’s redeemed people, both Jew and Gentile (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
This verse explains why God the Father made Him Head over all things related to the church. Christ loves His Church; He gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). This means the Church is in such an intimate relationship with Him, and is of such character, that Paul refers to it as, “His own body.”
The purpose of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they might comprehend how secure they are in Christ and how unwavering is our hope re: our eternal inheritance.
(To be continued)
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