Home Bible Study©
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 to HBS.
Paul’s way conversation changed beginning in 4:1 from speaking to the entire Ephesian Church to addressing the individual Believer. Why? Each person is responsible to “walk (live their life) in a manner worthy of your calling with which you have been called (4:1); to exhibit the spiritual qualities of humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another, in love (4:2; Galatians 6:2) and they are put forth effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:3).
Even though each Believer had been given the gift of God’s Grace and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, discord and disunity existed and persisted in this church. Clearly, these folks had not turned the power of the Holy Spirit on in their lives. This is why we took the time to study, in brief, the characteristics of spiritual infancy vs spiritual adulthood or those folks who are now engaged in the practice of present sanctification to a mature man (and woman) in Jesus Christ.
It’s impossible to follow God unless you are being led by the Spirit and the only way to be led by the Spirit is to follow God’s command to be filled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Interestingly, our Apostle Paul contrasted the state of being filled with the Holy Spirit with an individual who is drunk on wine. An intoxicated individual is controlled by alcohol. But the person who is "filled with the Spirit" is controlled by the Spirit, who helps us live holy lives, to the glory of God the Father (Ephesians 5:18).
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (and daughters) of God (Romans 8:14). The Bible teaches us the Holy Spirit’s power Guides, Helps, and Teaches us: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you (John 14:26).
Although every true Believer has received the gift of the indwelt Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:19), it’s also true people neglect to utilize His power in their walk, which means they are not turning His Spirit’s power on.
Please turn to Ephesians 4:11.
We’re going to backtrack a bit to study verses 4:8b “AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN”
and 4:11 “And He gave some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers,” from another viewpoint.
Paul explains God’s purpose in giving these GIFTS to the Church in 4:12-16:
For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be (immature) children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth (how) in (agape) love, we are to grow up (mature spiritually) in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Romans 12:4-5)
In reference to these gifts, Paul uses the Koine Greek word Doma and not Charisma (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). The men who held these offices we’re supernaturally gifted to preach/teach “the whole council of God” to a diverse audience, i.e. Jews and Gentiles.
The phrase “the whole council of God” is located in Acts 20:26-27. Paul’s departing message to the Ephesian elders underscores the opposition he faced from this church: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with his own blood…”
Despite the antagonism Paul continued to share the gospel in its entirety. He gave them the whole Truth about God’s salvation when he explained the mystery of God:
…and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known (how) through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:9-10).
In the context of chapter 3, Paul’s talking about God’s plan of salvation that now includes Gentiles being saved by faith (alone) apart from works of the Law.
God gave the first century church the gifts of apostles and prophets to communicate God’s Word. The whole council of God was not in print which means these gifted men were the final authority in all matters related to the faith. God withdrew these two church offices once the N.T. was completed. But the gifts of godly men known as evangelists, pastors, and teachers prevail to this day. Although they are not supernaturally gifted, as in Paul’s day, one must realize only a gifted man would take on the mantle and mission of God’s Church to lead the lost to the Cross of Christ (4:13).
Please be aware, any man who is devoted to God and His Word is targeted by Satan routinely. Satan strives to destroy or undo any good thing and God’s one Church is a very good thing. The Lord Jesus Christ experienced His attacks, so the Church need not thing they’re immune: “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered´ (Mark 14:27 – NKJV). Satan patiently waits until our guard is down or when we’re weak to strike (Matthew 4:1-11; 1 Peter 5:8).
Now I would like to show you what this book says about these five church offices. Even though God has withdrawn the apostles and prophets from the church and the associated spiritual gifts as well, replacing them with, “faith, hope, and love, it will benefit you to know something about them (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).
Apostles – in Koine Greek the word is Apostolos (ap-os’-tol-os), Noun Masculine, Strong’s Greek #652; meaning: a messenger; one set forth with orders. The Lord Jesus Christ was an Apostle: Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all his house (Hebrews 3:1-2).
Jesus Christ as God’s Apostle was sent to His own to preach the gospel of the kingdom is at hand: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15; John 1:11; Hebrews 2:12).
An apostle is called and sent by God: Jesus said: If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42).
Then we have the original twelve which are listed for us in the synoptic gospels and in Acts 1:13:
Simon Peter, James son of Zebedee, John brother of James, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; John 1:13).
When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (no, not that Judas) the son of James (Acts 1:13).
In Acts 1:23-26 we find Matthias taking Judas Iscariot’s place: So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
If we pay attention to what this passage says, we learn from verse 25 the term “apostle” adopts a practical meaning. The term “apostle” refers to the original twelve, but two other chosen men of God in the N.T. fall into the category of an apostle. That would be Paul and James, Jesus’ half brother:
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead) - Galatians 1:1.
But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19; Acts 15).
What were the biblical qualifications for apostleship? I’m glad you asked. First, an apostle is one whom God called and has sent on an errand or with a message that needed to be heard. An apostle is accountable to God, his Sender and he carries the authority of his Sender. Apostleship is the name of the office an apostle holds.
Not just anyone could be considered for an apostleship. Simon Peter explains the necessary qualifications in Acts 1:21-22: “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us (His second ascension) —one of these must become a witness with us of His (what) resurrection.”
Paul explains who Jesus Christ visited after His resurrection and in their proper order: and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve (even though Judas was no longer with them they are still referred to and recognized as the twelve). Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James (His half-brother), then to all the apostles (Thomas was absent during Jesus’ first visit. He later appeared to them all). Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me (Paul). For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:5-9).
People claim the twelve “jumped the gun.” Instead of choosing Mathias, they should have waited for Paul to take Judas’ place. In the Prophetic Program there were only twelve apostles, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus sent them to preach the gospel of the kingdom to Jew only (Acts 11:19), with a few Gentile exceptions accounted for in the gospels. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom and not the gospel of grace (Acts 20:4; Romans 11:13). The twelve looked forward to the promised kingdom and their role in it (Matthew 19:23-28).
After Judas revealed himself a traitor, the first order of business was to fill his position. Why? They believed the kingdom was at hand (Acts 1:6-7, 16-26). This is what they had been taught and preached to their brethren for the past three years (Matthew 3:2, 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21) The kingdom could not be realized unless all twelve apostles were in place.
The number twelve in scripture denotes “completeness.” There are twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles of Christ, twenty-four elders (12 x 2), the tree of life has twelve types of fruit (Revelation 22:2), the city of Jerusalem had twelve gates, and the New Jerusalem will have twelve gates guarded by twelve angels:
…And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:12-14).
This is one of the most important questions a Believer can ask in the Dispensation of Grace. It is not an exaggeration to say without the correct answer to this question little can be understood of the one faith to which you have been called (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 7:21-22). Thus, God’s creation and purpose for His one Church rests on the correct answer to the question, “Why Paul.”
The Bible does not support the claim choosing Matthias was a mistake. Paul declared, “And last of all he (the risen Lord) was seen of me also, as one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8 – KJV). The term “Ektromati” (before the due time) means “the untimely fruit of a woman,” a child born out of due time or by natural causes. Paul means to say he’s a child of Israel whose time to be born had not yet come. After the stoning of Stephen, a rebellious act that underscored Israel’s unbelief, they not only rejected Stephen’s Spirit filled testimony they also rejected the Holy Spirit (Acts 7). The O.T. explains how the nation of Israel repeatedly rejected God, Moses, and killed His prophets. When He sent His Son, as the promised Redeemer, they killed Him too. When the religious leaders of Israel rejected Stephen’s testimony, and in anger stoned him to death; they grieved the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5, 10).
But God has delayed His righteous judgment of the nation of Israel. God will punish the unbelievers who crucified His Son, but that’s out in the future now. He put His Prophetic Program on hold and called forth the chief enemy of His Church (the way), Saul of Tarsus, to become the apostle to the Gentiles (Philippians 3:5).
The key to understanding the difference between the ministry of the twelve and Paul is National Israel's expectation is an earthly kingdom. The twelve preached the gospel of the kingdom, and those things the Jews needed to do in order to be saved: believe in Jesus’ name, be baptized, and repent. But here’s the thing, all Israel needed to believe before the kingdom and their King could become a reality.
In contrast, the church's hope and blessings are all heavenly. Paul preached: “Christ crucified;” “believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (plus nothing else) and you’ll be saved (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, 15:1-4).
Prophets - is the Koine Greek word Prophetes (prof-ay’-lace), Noun Masculine, Strong’s Greek #4396, meaning: an interpreter moved by the Spirit of God to reveal His oracles or other hidden things of God; God’s spokesman who solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as related to the cause of Christ and His kingdom.
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28, 14:1).
Biblically speaking, the use of Spirit gifts was given at particular times for particular purposes and they were withdrawn by God when His purpose was accomplished. The gifts of the first century church were to be given until the perfect, or mature, man was reached. The fact that unity in the faith is nonexistent today takes nothing away from God’s purpose for His Church. Note how Ephesians 4:14 likens being under the ministry of the miraculous gifts, to spiritual childhood; and, in the context of prophesying, how the miraculous gifts were to be taken away:
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will (cease) be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
The Spirit gifts in the first century church were to be done away when that which is the perfect comes. The Koine Greek word translated perfect means: that which is full or complete. That which is complete would replace the partial knowledge which the early Christians had as a result of the gift of prophecy. Prophecy was the gift of speaking forth God’s entire truth, word for word. Now that we have the N.T.; God’s Word is complete, so the gift of prophecy is no longer necessary.
I say “partial knowledge” because the first century Believer would only have known a fraction of the New Testament compared to what we know (or should know). He or she would have been familiar with some words of prophecy re: various practical issues. They would have known something’s about the life of Jesus, the Cross, and may have heard one or two of Paul's letters read aloud in the churches. But once the written record of the words of prophecy was completed and circulated, there was no need for the gift of prophecy. That which was complete, “the perfect” or the New Testament specifically speaking, replaced the two offices of apostles and prophets (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
(To be continued)
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