Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Holy Apostles and Prophets Part 2

Continued from Holy Apostles and Prophets Part 1…  

The focus of the entire book of Ephesians is the church which is his body, the church the body of Christ, and our calling/vocation for the heavenly places.  So when Paul talks about the holy apostles and prophets,

Ephesians 3:5
[speaking of the mystery of Christ] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, [Obviously that is time past before this present dispensation of grace when none of the sons of men knew about it.] as it is now [in the dispensation of grace] revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Early in the dispensation of grace, the Spirit of God was revealing to Paul that he was now dealing with Gentiles and that Jews and Gentiles were now in one body by the cross—that was the secret, the “mystery” now revealed.  God was taking individual Jews and Gentiles and putting them into a new agency called the church the body of Christ for the heavenly places reconciled by the cross.

Ephesians 2:16
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Colossians 1:20
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

You mentioned that Paul had a prophetic ministry.  Well, the apostles did to!  Prophecy is speaking forth the word of God: “Thus saith the Lord.”  A prophet was someone who spoke on behalf of the Lord.

Exodus 4:22
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

Isaiah 7:7
Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

But these apostles and prophets that Paul is talking about are not those who were in Israel before him.  Again, when the Bible talks about the prophets and apostles in the prophecy program, the wording makes it very clear that the prophets came first, and then the apostles.  God sent prophets to Israel throughout their history; it was only later during the Lord’s earthly ministry that he sent the apostles.  They are consistently mentioned in that order.

But concerning the church the body of Christ, we see in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 how it was formed by God.  Paul compares our physical, human bodies to the spiritual body, the church the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For as the body is one [the physical, human body], and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

He didn’t say “the body of Christ;” he said “Christ” – our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians is about the body of Christ.  Colossians is about Christ as the head of the body.  The two work together.  Ephesians and Colossians are sister epistles.

The body of Christ is made up of many members, but we are all one body.  That is why Paul goes on to say:

1 Corinthians 12:13
For by one Spirit [of God] are we all [both Jew and Gentile] baptized into one body,

That is a spiritual baptism that is not done by man in water.  The moment a Jew or Gentile trusts Christ’s shed blood for sins, the Spirit of God baptizes him/her into the body of Christ.

whether we be Jews or Gentiles [race is not an issue], whether we be bond or free [social position is not the issue]; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

In Galatians Paul adds that our gender is not an issue, for all are in Christ.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

So the issue Paul is dealing with is clearly the body of Christ.

And God hath set some in the church [the body of Christ], first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

When Paul talks about the structure of the body of Christ—how God is forming it in its infancy—he shows that God first gives apostles to establish local assemblies.  Paul is the main apostle and there are, what I would call, secondary apostles under Paul.  But Paul is the apostle.

Romans 11:13
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

But Paul was not the only one to whom God revealed information.  After Paul preached the gospel in a location and some were saved, he would move to another area to establish a church.  God would then call some of those saved men to be apostles.

Romans 1:5
By whom we [plural] have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

So there were ‘assistant’ apostles who were under Paul and who would assist him in establishing churches.  The Holy Spirit would supernaturally reveal information to them (Eph. 3:5):

as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Paul received visions and revelations directly from the Lord Jesus.  But how would the new saints in the body be established?  By these apostles who went out with Paul and labored with him.

2 Corinthians 8:23
Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 3:2
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

Philemon 1:1
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer

Philemon 1:24; 4:3
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

God sent out other men under Paul to communicate the doctrine before he wrote it down in scripture and to prophecy (speak forth) the information about the mystery of Christ.

Ephesians 3:4
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

The prophets would speak the word; they identified the word of God (scripture), ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

1 Corinthians 14:37
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.

They were to acknowledge that Paul’s epistles were the word of God.  Notice that in the body of Christ there are apostles (first) and prophets (second).  Paul already brought up this issue in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:19-20
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

So as Paul is dealing with the Gentiles in Ephesus who were being added to the body of Christ, this household of God, this building, this temple of the Lord, he says the foundation is ‘of the apostles and prophets.’

1 Corinthians 3:11
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul is the original apostle who laid the foundation.  When he says, ‘the foundation of the apostles and prophets,’ he is not taking away from the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the issue; but he is saying that they are the ones who are preaching Christ and laying the foundation of the body of Christ by preaching Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.

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,

God is using these apostles and prophets in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:28) to build up the saints in the body of Christ.

Although Peter, James and John are holy apostles, they are not who Paul is talking about in Ephesians 3:5; he is talking about body of Christ saints who are apostles and prophets.  Peter, James and John are not members of the body; they are kingdom saints, members of the Little Flock, the Jewish remnant.  They will rule in the earthly kingdom with Christ.  The apostles and prophets in the body of Christ will be in the heavenly places with us.  John mentions them in the book of Revelation regarding the future in the heavens.

Revelation 18:20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

In Ephesians 4, Paul breaks down how God formed the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:10-12
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

The Lord Jesus is taking his place as the rightful head of the church the body of Christ.

And he gave [past tense] some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [Why?]  For the perfecting of the saints [‘members in particular’], for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ:

So when apostles and prophets appear in Paul’s epistles, and specifically in that order, he is always talking about the church the body of Christ.

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

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