Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published February 14, 2020
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).
Welcome to HBS.
Let’s begin by refreshing our memory.
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (1:23-24)
Here Paul challenged the Colossians saying, “…be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which (they) have heard…” (Romans 10:17). The gospel the Colossians had heard from Epaphras is the very same gospel Paul preached “to every creature which is under heaven;” not one thing was added and he didn’t take anything away from it (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If some of the Colossians were leaving the faith, seemingly for something better, then they weren’t genuinely saved in the first place.
Paul goes on to explain he had been made a minister of the mystery of God’s Grace by the risen Lord Himself and entrusted with the message of God’s reconciliation for all His enemies (Romans 5:8-9). Thus, once again, Paul reinforced his teaching that salvation is the work of God (alone) through Christ Jesus’ finished work of the cross.
When Paul wrote, “(I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake” he’s not implying Christ redemptive work is incomplete. Paul means to say he suffered greatly for the cause of Christ, that is, God’s purposes and plan for the Church in this dispensation. Therefore, it’s not beyond the ordinary for the Believer who is following Paul’s lead to suffer persecution in one form or another. These sufferings for the cause of Christ both then and now “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ…” (1:24); “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” (Philippians 1:29).
God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit want every member of the Body of Christ to be of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, i.e., spiritually well-balanced (2 Timothy 1:7). In this day of religious confusion, sectarianism, and satanic delusions many Christians are being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:13-14). In Ephesians 4 the Church is instructed to strive for and keep the unity of the Spirit recognizing that great seven-fold unity recorded in Ephesians 4:3-7. Every Christian should know how to stand fast according to Galatians 5:1-4; and every Christian should be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58). Moreover every Christian should earnestly endeavor to be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth in obedience to 2 Timothy 2:15. All of this might be covered by the Christian’s desire and determination to be “established.” If they are not “established,” it is certainly no fault of God. It is due somewhat by neglecting to obey Ephesians 1:16-18, 6:19-20, and Colossians 4:3-4, and praying to the Father for the spirit of wisdom and revelation to understand God’s Word, and for open doors and open mouths to proclaim His Word boldly. It is this particular truth that is referred to in Romans 16:25: “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,”
What does it mean to be “stablished” by that preaching of Jesus Christ which is according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began? Romans 16:25 should be read in connection with Ephesians 1:4-5, 1:11, 3:1-4, 9-11, and Colossians 1:23-27. In Romans 16:25 there is more than the implication that there is in the Bible the preaching of Jesus Christ, which was not kept secret since the world began; and therefore, not according to the revelation of the mystery. Every Believer in Christ is expected to be a faithful steward (minister) of the mysteries of God; and with that, of course, understanding the difference between the preaching of Jesus Christ, which was in fulfillment of some prophecy found between the pages of Genesis 1 and the last chapter of Malachi, and the preaching of Jesus Christ crucified, which none of those prophets spoke of, because this truth was hidden in God before the world began (Ephesians 3:9). But now it has been revealed to and through our apostle Paul and by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:5), so it should not be a secret with any Christian today.
That intro serves to take us to Colossians 1:25, so open your Bibles to that mark and I’ll meet y’all there.
“Whereof I am made a minister (of the cause of Christ), according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;”
No matter how much Paul suffered for the cause of Christ he never lost his joy (1:24). Think about that. If a Christian loses their joy, it's not because of their circumstances so much as it is their relationship with Christ is not as it should be they probably are not “stablished” (settled in a state of permanence) in the faith (1:23).
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you (the Church), to fulfill the word of God;” (1:25).
“Whereof” points backward to verses 1:23-24. Paul was made a minister to preach the revelation of the mystery to all the then known world and to care for “the church:”
“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
“…according to the dispensation of God…” – although some people deem the word dispensation as insignificant, if not evil, and more than a few Bible translations have removed the word from the text, you will find the term in the KJV Bible. The word translated dispensation in the KJV Bible conveys the meaning of stewardship or administration. A steward is one who manages or oversees the affairs of another. Dispensation therefore means to deal out or dispense, to distribute or administrate. A dispensation then is the dispensing, or administrating, of a particular program within God’s management program by which mankind is tested and through which access to God’s mercy and grace is offered.
God does not change because His character and essence are eternal. The principles or precepts by which He acts in relation to mankind are as unchanging as He is. As He is righteous, holy, just, merciful, gracious, and loving, He always deals with mankind in love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, and righteousness because this is the very essence of the attributes of God. However, even a casual reader of the Scriptures can plainly see God does not always deal with mankind in the same specific way. For example, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were given one requirement (a test) of obedience. They were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Mankind fell into sin when the man disobeyed and ate of the forbidden tree. No longer innocents, Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s Garden and the dispensation changed (Genesis 3). Some 2500 years later God gave His written Law to the nation of Israel through Moses. This was a new dispensation, and it was “dispensed” to Moses to give to the people. He then became the LORD’s steward or administrator of God’s dispensation of Law.
Most large corporations or businesses have a “Mission Statement.” In brief, a “Mission Statement” is a brief description of a company’s or organization’s fundamental purpose. It answers the question, “Why does our business exist?” The information in that Mission Statement then becomes the “marching orders,” so to speak, for each employee in that organization. Our apostle Paul also had a mission statement. The preaching of God’s message of reconciliation, in accordance with the revelation of the mystery was both the mission and mandate for Paul's life:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:27-29).
Please turn with me in your Bible to Ephesians 3:1-13 where Paul speaks of the divine ministry (mission) God entrusted to him:
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;”
In verses 3:2-4 Paul speaks of the revelation of the mystery, so I now ask, “If you’re a Believer, what does the mystery mean to you?” To most Christians the mystery is just that, a mystery. They couldn’t share it or defend it if their lives depended on it. Some folks think the mystery has something to do with the ”mysteries” of the kingdom found in Matthew 13. But this interpretation doesn’t take into account the two separate dispensations of God, that is, one for the nation of Israel under the law, and the one in which we live today known as the Dispensation of Grace. In short, the mystery is a divine program which introduces us to the heavenly ministry of Christ (Ephesians 1:19-23) and not His earthly ministry to the Jews (Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 5:16). The mystery reveals God’s plan and purposes for the Church, a.k.a. the Body of Christ, and it is God’s will for every saint in Christ to have a knowledge of His will (See Ephesians 1:9; Colossians 1:9-10, 25-26).
“How that by revelation he (the risen and glorified Lord) made known unto me the mystery;” (Ephesians 3:3).
Here we note the mystery was committed to Saul/Paul. God is Sovereign, therefore, it’s His prerogative to withhold information from mankind until He’s chooses to reveal it (Deuteronomy 29:29), but once it’s revealed God expects us to believe it and obey it. Since this message had been hidden in God before the foundations of the earth, it necessitated a direct revelation from Him. This revelation from the risen Lord was revealed to Saul/Paul after their face-to-face encounter on the road to Damascus. This was the first of many revelations over a thirty year period of time that had to do with the doctrines of grace. Thus, we learn the mystery is found exclusively in Paul’s writings. Until the church submits itself to this indisputable fact, it will remain “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every word of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).
The two great revelators of the Bible are Moses in the O.T. and our Apostle Paul in the N.T. God dispensed the law to Moses; therefore, he was the LORD’s administrator or spokesperson under that economy (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Since Moses was God’s appointed deliverer, to disobey the commands of Moses was to disobey the very Word of the LORD God.
In today’s economy, Paul was appointed the apostle to the Gentiles by the Lord and received the revelation of the mystery from Him directly (Galatians 1:11-20). I’ve never heard anyone complain about people placing too much emphasis on Moses, but I
wish I had a nickel for every time a churched individual told me I place too much emphasis on Paul. This is when I direct them and all those with the same mindset to 1 Corinthians 14:37-38, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”
Many Christians believe when Christ ascended to heaven, He stopped speaking. But nothing could be further from the truth. Paul said the things he wrote to the Corinthians, and to the Body of Christ as a whole, were “the commandments of the Lord.” Similarly, in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:2).
After Christ’s ascension, Israel continued in her rebellion against God by rejecting the Holy Spirit’s ministry through the twelve. Because of their unbelief God has set Israel aside temporarily (Romans 11). God then called and appointed Saul of Tarsus as His apostle to the Gentiles and gave Him a unique ministry and message meant for the Gentile nations, that before had been a secret (Acts 9). From heaven the glorified Christ gave to the apostle Paul a new revelation concerning His heavenly ministry to the Church, a.k.a. the Body of Christ. To Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), was given the commandments of Christ for the Body of Christ today. Therefore, in Paul’s writings, we have the revealed will of God for our lives in the dispensation of the grace of God. In Paul’s letters, we find the doctrines of grace that the Church is built upon, is to live by, and is to share with the world. I point out, again, Paul’s words revealed to Him by Christ, are referred to as “commandments.” This is not a take-it-or-leave-it word. When a commandment is given by God to man, He expects us to conform our will to His will and obey.
So then, Paul is God’s divinely appointed apostle through whom He has made known the riches of His Grace. To reject Paul’s apostolic authority and his ministry is tantamount to rejecting the heavenly ministry of the Lord. Little wonder then Paul declared, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
“Whereof I am made a minister (of the cause of Christ), according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you (the Church), to fulfil the word of God;”
One of the most wonderful truths in the N.T. is that which concerns the relationship between Christ and the Church of this dispensation which is known as “His Body.” Many Christians today are interested in the establishment of Christ’s earthly kingdom and “hoping” they will be allowed in rather than the completion of “His Body” which Christ shed His blood for. This is because they have not been instructed in Pauline truth, i.e., the truth concerning the Church of God in the dispensation of grace:
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Per the Scriptures, God is not establishing Christ’s kingdom on the earth today. The King and His kingdom were rejected more than 1900 years ago and that program is on hold presently. Christ is now seated at the Father’s right hand awaiting His return to the earth at His second coming (Psalm 110:1). When you read Paul’s writings you’ll find him speaking of the Church being translated “into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13); and “our citizenship is ” (Philippians 3:20), therefore, the Church is not looking for an earthly King and kingdom they’re looking for “the redemption of their bodies” at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18):
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23).
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (at the Rapture);” (Titus 2:11-13).
Paul said, “I am made a minister…” – here the word minister means: a chief servant; hence, an agent appointed to transact or manage business under the authority of another. Back in Paul’s day a minister was entrusted with the oversight or care of a household. The first thing that comes to my mind is Joseph in the O.T. After he was sold into slavery by his brothers he eventually wound up in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household, which meant Joseph had a stewardship (Genesis 39). So then, Paul’s saying he had been entrusted with an important position in the household of God; he had been made a minister, or a steward, and as such he was responsible to carry out the will of the Father re: the ministry of reconciliation.
Next on the things to do is look at Paul’s statement at the end of verse 1:25 where he said, “to fulfill the word of God.” He had been made a minister to faithfully proclaim the word of God in its entirety. Nowhere does he say he was faithful to bring mass numbers into the church. Let’s dig deeper into this topic so as to understand what Paul meant with respect to his faithful service to the Lord. Please turn to Acts 20 starting at verse 22. This is where Paul met with the elders from Ephesus and tells them his future is uncertain, then in verse 1:23 he goes on to say God the Spirit made it clear to him that sufferings lie ahead: “Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.”
This didn’t deter Paul from his ministry for in 1:24 he said: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
This is the ministry the Lord had entrusted to Paul and nothing will keep him from preaching “the gospel of the grace of God” not even afflictions and bonds. All that matters is that he faithfully “fulfills the word of God:” “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).
Again, please note he did not say, “Look at all the people I brought into the church at Ephesus.” The thing that showed Paul’s faithfulness to the Lord is his declaration that he “declared unto them all the counsel of God.” Not too many people today can make that claim. Case in point: I was actively involved in the Children’s Ministry at more than a few churches and every summer we held Vacation Bible School. After that event ran its course, without fail, the pastor gave the congregation a brief summary starting with the number of children that gave themselves to the Lord and the church applauded. But here’s the thing, I was teaching these very same children in Sunday school and believe you me they had little to no idea what just occurred or what it meant. Therefore, I believe God is more interested in “quality” than He is in “quantity.” He want’s “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4), but the sad fact is a great many churches are not proclaiming “all the counsel of God” concerning the revelation of the mystery. Instead, what I learned is they believe, preach, and teach the earthly ministry of Christ and not Pauline doctrines in accordance with God’s will.
Please consider the following Matthew wrote 1 book, Mark wrote 1 book, Luke wrote 2 books (Luke and Acts), John wrote 5 books, Peter wrote 2 books, James and Jude wrote 1 book each. Our apostle Paul wrote 13 books (2/3rds of the N.T.) that’s more than just significant folks.
Getting back to verse 1:25 and Paul’s statement, “to fulfill the word of God,” Paul means to say he’s preaching the gospel of grace of God faithfully everywhere the Spirit of God takes him. The term “fulfill” means “fully preached” and this is how Paul used it in Romans 15:19: “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached (what) all the counsel of God pertaining to the gospel of Christ.”
The whole counsel of God, pertaining to the mysteries of God’s grace, was fully preached… to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (1:23b) nothing had been added and nothing was taken away from it.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved