The epistle known as Paul's letter to the Ephesians
should be called "Paul's General Epistle." The words
"in Ephesus," are not in the oldest manuscripts.
The saints addressed in the general epistle had heard
the evangel of their salvation, (1:13), before this epistle was
written. What better place to look for it than in Romans?
What Paul taught orally, he also taught by epistle, (I Cor. 15:1, II
Thess. 2:5). He wrote to the saints in Rome before visiting them,
and gave them the evangel of salvation. It necessarily includes
justification. This is said to be by faith, apart from works,
(Rom. 4:1-5), and thus our justification is distinguished from that of
the Circumcision who enter the kingdom. Theirs is by faith AND
works, (James 2:24). We are justified graciously, by His grace,
because of the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 3:24).
It is of faith that it may accord with grace, (Rom. 4:16). The
general epistle, (Ephesians), does not tell us we are saved by
grace. It says we are saved FOR grace, (2:8), and unless we are
ready to conclude that we are saved by works, we must accept Romans as
having been written to some of the same saints addressed
Those addressed in the general epistle are said to be
chosen in Christ before the disruption of a world, (1:4). They
have been previously designated for the place of a son, (verse5), and to
have part in the administration of the complement of the eras, with
Christ, (verses 10, 11). The Roman saints are chosen ones,
previously designated to be conformed to the image of His Son for Him to
be the Firstborn among many brethren, (8:29-33). Nothing is said
about any works they are to do, to confirm their calling and
choice. Such IS required of the Circumcision saints who go into
the kingdom, (II Peter. 1:10).
Thus Romans and the general epistle, (Ephesians), are
connected, while both are set apart from the epistles of Peter.
In the general epistle, saints are seated together
among the celestials, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the oncoming
eons He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in his
kindness to them in Christ Jesus, (2:6, 7). The Roman saints are
to have Christ as the Firstborn among them. Those to whom Titus
ministers are to be about Christ, (laonperiousion - a people about
being, Titus 2:14). Seated with Christ among the celestials - a
group of brethren with Christ in the midst - a people being about
Christ. How can anyone fail to see these connecting
The saints addressed in the general epistle were dead
to their offenses and sins, (Eph. 2:1). The Roman saints had died
to sin, (Rom. 6:2).
Those to whom the general epistle is written are the
ecclesia which is the body of Christ, (Eph. 1:23); the Corinthian saints
are the ecclesia which is the body of Christ, (I Cor. 12:27, 28).
In each case there is the body of Christ, (I Cor. 12:13; Eph.
4:4). In each passage there is one baptism.
Not only is it true that the presence of similar
passages forms connecting links; but, strange as it may seem, the
absence of certain passages in one, while they are present in the group,
also shows a connection. In the general epistle we find no mention
of justification. Surely no one would conclude that we have no
need of justification. However, this great truth cannot be proven
as applying to us, unless the pre-prison epistles, as well as those Paul
wrote while a prisoner, are ours.
In Philippians, another of the prison epistles, we
find the term "exanastasin," - out-resurrection, (3:11).
In Romans 1:5 we have the same expression, "exanastaseos."
In each passage the reference is to the resurrection of some, out from
among others. This is the form all resurrections will take, until
that day when unbelievers will be resurrected for the judgment.
When the ecclesia which is the body of Christ is called from death at
the coming of the Lord in the air, it will be an out-resurrection.
When, later, the saints of Israel are called out of death, it will be an
out-resurrection. In each instance, some will be left dead.
Phil. 3:11 does not set this epistle apart from the pre-prison
epistles. The other three prison epistles are Colossians, II
Timothy and Philemon.
The ecclesia had an organized form when I Corinthians
was written. One was to be excluded from membership, (I Cor.
5). When Paul wrote his second letter to Corinth, (or the one that
is called II Corinthians), he instructed that the excluded one be
consoled, but did not say restore him to membership, (II Cor.
2:7). The reason of this is found when we reach chapter 6, where
Paul calls on believers to come out, since the organization had taken in
so many unbelievers - the natural result of sectarianism. In the
general epistle, (Ephesians), and the other prison epistles, there is no
thought that the ecclesia is other than an organism - certainly it is
not an organization.
In I Cor. 13, the ecclesia is a minor, but maturity
is promised. In the general epistle maturity has come. All
are sons, having been previously designated for this position. The
purpose of the readjustment is that all come to the realization of a
son, (Eph. 1:5; 4:11-16). The things of a minor have been
discarded. Some of these were the gift of healing, the gift of
tongues, the ability to work certain miracles.
These gifts appeal to the soul - not the
spirit. Therefore soul is mentioned often in those epistles
written to the in its minority. In the late epistles soul in not
found. Minority having passed, saints are supposed to be
interested more in spirit.
In I Tim. 3:15 the ecclesia is seen as a house, no
doubt denoting its organized form. There it is declared to be the
pillar and base of the truth. In II Tim. 2:21 the same house is
seen as containing vessels for honor and dishonor. It has become a
great house. Alas! how much greater it is now! Paul declares
that if any one would be a vessel for honor, useful to the Owner and
ready for every good act, he should purge himself from the vessels for
In the pre-prison epistles the ecclesia is a body in
which the Jew has an advantage over the man of the nations. Hence,
we find, "to the Jew first," (Rom. 1:16). In the general
epistle the body becomes a joint body, in which the Jew has no
preeminence, (Eph. 3:6). This is the secret mentioned there.
The one body is not the secret; it was known long before, (I
Another secret in the same chapter is the secret
administration, which had been concealed from the eons in God, (verse
9). The saints who were addressed in the previous epistles were
not in the secret administration when those early letters were
written. But they were brought over into it, bringing with them
the same teaching concerning salvation, justification, etc., and now in
the general epistle they are informed as to the "why" of
Here they learn that while they were saved BY grace,
(Rom. 3:25), they are also saved FOR grace, (Eph. 2:8). Were they
learn that while they had been designated before hand, to be conformed
to the image of the Son of God, (Rom. 8:29), they are also designated
before hand to occupy the place of a son, and also to have part in the
administration of the complement of the eras, when the universe is
headed up in the Christ, (Eph. 1:4-11).
In the era preceding the secret administration
believers among the nations were apart from Christ, being alienated from
the citizenship of Israel, and guests of the promise covenants, having
no expectation and without God in the world, (Eph. 2:12). All this
statement, beginning with the words "being alienated," tells
in what respect they were apart from Christ. They were connected
with Him in spirit, but they were aliens so far as Israel was concerned,
and what blessings they received were gotten as guests of Israel.
While it had been reveled that they have a heavenly destiny, no service
among the celestials had been revealed. Therefore they were
without expectation in this respect. On the other hand, they had
no expectation of blessing on earth. They knew what the God of
Israel would do for the covenant people. God would not do this for
the ecclesia. They were without God in the world.
In the general epistle all this is cleared up; they
are to render service among the celestials. Also the middle wall
of the barrier was broken down. The ecclesia of Israel is
temporarily set aside, and the ecclesia which is the body of Christ is a
joint body. The Jew has no more preeminence.
So far as present service is concerned, that is
revealed in the Philippian letter. It consists of testing things
that are final, (1:10). In other words, things of minority are
gone. Only that dignified service of maturity remains.
All are sons now, but, because of the need of
re-adjustment, many do not realize it, (Eph. 4:13). Because of
false teaching and a lack of correctly partitioning the word of truth,
the effects of the re-adjustment Paul mentioned have long been
lost. Efforts of those who teach concordant truth is to re-adjust
ACTS 28:30, 31
"Now he remains two whole years in his own
hired house, and he welcomed all those going in to him, proclaiming
the kingdom of God, and teaching that which concerns the Lord Jesus
Christ, with all boldness, unforbidden."
Have you ever read an article based on these two
The editorial in the September issue will deal with
this. Be sure to read it, and order extra copies at once.
Five copies for a dime; 15 for 25 cents.