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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: December 22, 2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Colossians (L 03)
“To all the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus which are throughout the world, Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Welcome to HBS y’all and Merry Christmas.
Omitting the lesson review; same reason as before.
********Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:6-8.
“Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of
Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit” (1:6-7).
“Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: ” (1:6:a).
This declaration from Paul follows his previous statement in 1:5b and we need to review it in order to fully understand the context, “whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;”
Paul never visited Colosse, so how did the Colossians hear the gospel? The answer is found in verse 1:7: “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;”
Evidently, Paul had sent Epaphras to Colosse to proclaim the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so they learned it from him. Paul mentions this zealous worker of the Lord three times in the N.T. (Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12-13, and Philemon 23). Here he referred to him as “a dear servant,” and “a faithful minister of Christ.” Through his ministry many of his fellow-countrymen had heard the truth of the gospel and were converted and the assembly at Colosse was established. According to 4:12-13, Epaphras held a pastoral role in this church and the assemblies at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
At the time of this writing Paul was being held under house arrest in Rome and Epaphras was with him. The purpose of his visit was twofold. He sought his counsel concerning the heresies which were being introduced in the church at Colosse and he intended to give Paul as much aid and comfort as humanly possible while he was there. This is probably why Paul referred to him as “a dear servant.” The thing I find both incredible and ironic is Paul was imprisoned for telling the truth, that is, the truth of the gospel - “to all nations.”
“By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name” (Romans 1:5).
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” (Ephesians 3:9)
But do “all men” see or understand the truth of the gospel of the grace of God, which Paul obediently preached? That would be no and the reason why my title for this section continues to be “The truth of the gospel.” Once you understand the stark significance between the calling of the twelve to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom “unto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19), and the calling and commissioning of our Apostle Paul to preach the truth of the gospel of the grace of God to the gentiles (Acts 9), then you’ll come to understand Paul’s gospel and his ministry superseded that of the twelve.
The prophets had proclaimed the Messianic kingdom in hundreds of O.T. Bible passages. Every Jew knew about this kingdom and longed for it. One need only to read the passages surrounding the account of Jesus’ birth to recognize this fact: the Magi (Matthew 2:1-2); Zachariah (Luke 1:8-17, 67-79); Mary (Luke 1:26-38, 46-55); Simeon and Anna ( ). These scripture passages provide an excellent summary of Jewish expectations re: their promised earthly kingdom, which by the way, remains on hold “until the fullness of the gentiles has come in.”
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).
God has purposed the building up and edification of the Body of Christ, His Church, in the Dispensation of Grace. One day future, only God knows when, the last member of the Body of Christ will come in, and God will close the door, so to speak, on the Grace period in which we live. At that time, He will pick up where He left off with the nation of Israel. This period of time is known as the Tribulation (see Revelation).
The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve required repentance (Mark 1:15), water baptism (Matthew 3:6; Acts 2:38 8:34-38, 19:4), strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, and believing Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 6:13-16; John 11:25-27). Believing in Jesus, according to the gospel of the kingdom meant believing who He was, i.e. believing in His name (John 3:8; Acts 2:21, 38, 3:6, 16, 4:7, 10, 12, 17-18, 30; 5:28, 40-41; 8:12, 16; 9:14-15, 21, 27; 10:43, 48). Therefore, the gospel of the kingdom focused upon the identity or Person of Jesus Christ.
Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and placed little emphasis on repentance and water baptism in his evangelistic ministry. He only mentioned repentance once in his letters and that in reference to unbelievers (Romans 2:4). As for water baptism, he declared, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). Paul actually said there was only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). This one baptism he spoke of was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Thus we conclude the religious rite of water baptism ceased during Paul’s ministry and has no scriptural support for the Believer today.
Shortly after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:19-22), we find him
preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogue. However, soon thereafter, the ascended, glorified, and heavenly Lord (as opposed to His earthly ministry to the Jews only, with a few exceptions - Psalm 110:1) gave Paul a new gospel (Galatians 1:11-12). His gospel (Romans 2:16, 16:25) was different than the gospel preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve apostles. Its focus was not upon the identity of Jesus Christ, but built upon Christ Jesus’ finished work of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2, 15:1-4). This “good news” was not preached by the twelve during Jesus’ earthly ministry. In fact, the twelve had no comprehension of Jesus dying on the cross for their sins (Luke 18:31-34). When Paul referred to the gospel of the grace of God as “my gospel,” it clearly indicated his gospel is different from the gospel Jesus and the twelve preached (Galatians 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:8-9), and as they say, “Vive La Difference!”
Luke’s account of the Council of Jerusalem made it clear the twelve did not agree with or understand Paul’s gospel (see Acts 15). Sounds familiar. Paul told them his gospel had been a “secret” until the risen Lord revealed it to him (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 6:19-20).
As I said earlier, the twelve had no comprehension of Jesus dying, being buried, and rising from the dead on the 3rd day. They also had no concept of dying and going to heaven. For them death was not good news. The diligent Bible student is aware of the fact that even after His resurrection, Christ’s death was not proclaimed as “good news” by the Lord or the twelve. The biblical record shows Peter proclaimed the Lord’s death as bad news for the nation of Israel. His sermon on the day of Pentecost shows he regarded the death of Jesus Christ as a message of condemnation to the whole house of Israel, a treacherous act that demanded their repentance and water baptism for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:22-42, 3:12-26), in keeping with the Mosaic Law.
Peter proclaimed the fact of Jesus’ resurrection as good news but its significance was that Jesus was alive and could still bring about His kingdom on earth if the Jewish nation believed and repented of their sins. What he did not preach was belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for personal salvation. I know for a fact Christians churches add it in, but they twist the scriptures in doing so.
As for Paul, the preaching of Christ Crucified was salvation for all those who believed, which was a glorious message indeed (1 Timothy 1:11). But here’s the thing, the preaching of Paul’s gospel caused so much animosity and consternation that the apostles in Jerusalem called a special council around 51 A.D. to consider it. The Bible student should understand Paul was most likely saved around 34-37 AD. So, about 14-17 years had passed before Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went up to Jerusalem to settle the dispute. At the Jerusalem Council, after considerable back and forth argument, Peter made an astonishing statement (from a Jewish perspective). Prior to Peter’s statement, the message of the twelve was that gentiles could be saved only the way Jews were saved. But after great disagreement, Peter, under the power of the Holy Spirit, officially recognized (in light of Paul’s revelations and ministry) both the Jews and the gentiles are being saved “through the grace of God” (Acts 15:6-11; Galatians 2:1-8).
In Galatians 2:9-10 Paul provides us the outcome of the Jerusalem Council:
“ Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do” And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (the uncircumcision, i.e. the gentiles), and they unto the circumcision.
This was a major turning point in the Church. We find proof of this in Galatians 1:8-9 where Paul wrote:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (doomed to destruction or misery). As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Paul could not have written this declaration prior to the Council of Jerusalem. Prior to Peter’s statement, the twelve obediently preached the gospel Christ had revealed to them in His earthly ministry (Matthew 10:5-7), and Paul dutifully preached the gospel the ascended and risen Lord had revealed to him. Both were valid gospel messages. Both had been commanded by the Lord. However, after the Jerusalem Council the gospel of the kingdom preached by the twelve begins to fade from the scene, because Paul’s gospel of grace formally superseded it.
Thus, Paul’s writings emphasized the Church, the Body of Christ. This terminology is not found in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the preaching of the twelve because it wasn’t known until the ascended Lord revealed it to Saul/Paul as a mystery. Plainly said, this “good news” was brand new. The twelve knew nothing of it until Paul made it known to them:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Here we see even after Paul told Peter and the twelve about his calling and his gospel, Peter still didn’t understand it. Paul alone taught the citizenship, position, and the promises of God to the Believer who has been baptized into in the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit is heavenly, not earthly (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5).
We find evidence of this truth in Paul’s final words, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18).
For Paul and every true Believer in Christ Jesus, God’s kingdom, as it relates to the Body of Christ is heavenly and wholly different from the earthly kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve to the nation of Israel. Therefore, they must be kept separate (2 Timothy 2:15).
“Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
Epaphras evangelized the Colossians with the truth of the gospel and planted the assembly of Believers in Colosse. The very moment these folks were convinced by it they were baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. In addition, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as the down payment of their spiritual inheritance, in Christ:
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest (down payment as in a mortgage) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13).
Paul declared the Holy Spirit dwells within every true Believer:
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
So then, Epaphras had informed Paul of the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit,” meaning the Holy Spirit had instilled and fostered in the Colossians an affection for one another:
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).
(To be continued. Publication date uncertain).
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