The Word "body" occurs as many times in 1 Corinthians as in the whole of the rest of the Pauline epistles together. Related to the church, it occurs even more frequently in this epistle than in all the rest. Of these occurrences, only two are out, side the Prison Epistles. This fact is very significant in the face of the teaching that 1 Corinthians is not for us today and that the one body therein is something different from what is spoken of in Ephesians.

The first occurrence of "body" is in Romans 12:4, 5. Its most striking feature is its occurrence in a part of the epistle which deals with conduct, not with doctrine as we might perhaps have expected. Moreover, it does not read like the first disclosure of a new doctrine. Following it comes a passage extolling love; and we might well regard 1 Cor. 13 as a commentary on this. portion of Romans, even though it was probably written first. However, the practice of considering the chronological order of the Pauline epistles is a mistaken one. No epistle is so lengthy as to make its transcription a formidable task; there can be no doubt that they were all eagerly copied, circulated and collected together by all the churches. As a whole they form a unity. We cannot really understand fully anyone apart from the others. Rom. 12:4-13 puts the truth of the body in its proper setting. It is primarily a matter of conduct. It is associated with maturity and sanity on the one hand, and with love on the other. Its theme is our behaviour to one another. If in our study of the body and of "joint-body-people" we overlook these links, we are bound to go astray.

In conformity with these links, 1 Corinthians refers first to the physical body of the individual, and, most emphatically, to the moral standards befitting enjoyers of the freedom associated with our high position in Christ Jesus. (1 Cor. 6:12-20). The next occurrences are in 1 Cor. 10:16,17. The subject is the Lord's Supper. The context is Israel's history as a type disclosed with a view to our admonition, a warning against idolatry and, as before, against low standards of personal conduct. To deal adequately with the subject would involve a detailed study of the whole epistle. This reference to the Lord's Supper is followed by a discussion of idol sacrifices and duty towards the conscience of others. . Not until the middle of the next chapter is reached does the Lord's Supper receive further consideration. Meanwhile, we encounter another line of truth, without which the doctrine of the body cannot be understood, the Head. (1 Cor. 11:3). The word occurs more frequently in 1 Corinthians than in Ephesians and Colossians together—another important and significant point.

So in 1 Cor. 11:23-32 we come to the special revelation of the Lord's Supper. And note, it is a special revelation, every bit as special to the Apostle Paul as our meeting of the Lord in 1 Thess 4:17 or as the secrets he revealed, even though it is not itself a secret. For that reason alone we are precluded from setting aside any of them as Jewish and "Circumcision truth," and therefore now obsolete. "You are announcing the Lord's death till He should be coming." That ought to be enough for any of us. All this has been discussed fairly fully in my book "The New Covenant," but one point must be enlarged on here. It is the body of the Lord which is broken. Conduct is the ruling theme whenever "the Lord" is in view. But in 1 Cor. 10:14-17 the theme is doctrine rather than conduct, so we read of "the communion," not "the breaking," of the body of Christ. Nowhere else does Scripture speak of "the body of the Lord," and once only of anything like it, in Luke 24:3, after His resurrection, at the visit of the women to the tomb: "Now, entering also, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus."

Now, in "The New Covenant" (pp. 136,38), discussing unworthy partaking of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:27,32), I raised the point whether "the body" can there be taken in its wider sense, in view of 1 Cor. 10:17 & 12:12? Personally, I consider that it can; but this affirmation must of necessity be no more than a private opinion, and certainly not to be forced upon others. In this assumption there is nothing inconsistent with other Scriptures. The body broken is the body of the Lord Jesus, now no longer under death's dominion. The bread represents His broken body, and in 1 Cor. 10:16, 17 the bread is linked (for us) to the one body. Moreover, in the Structure of the references to the body of the Lord Jesus Christ in Paul's epistles (ibid p. 44) the member corresponding to 1 Cor. 11:21-29 is the final reference of all. Col. 1:24. If we compare these passages, we will see that in a very real sense the Apostle Paul's body was broken for the sake of Christ's body. Paul was filling up in his flesh the deficiencies of the afflictions of Christ, for His body. The point is well made by the C. V. note, which speaks of "suffering—not only the essential suffering of Christ on the cross, but those of His afflictions which He endures in His members". That, surely, is what is meant by 1 Cor. 11:27 also. This thought, that failure to judge differently the body of the Lord is a sin in a class apart from all others in that it adds fresh affliction to Christ, gives a special and peculiar solemnity to the Lord's Supper. Its intensely practical aspect is indicated by (and explains) the special term "the body of the Lord".

"In the Lord," in relation to conduct, to service, to our manifold duties to Him and to one another; there remain distinctions, even in the Economy of the Secret. At the very out-set of the practical "Conduct" section of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul speaks of himself as "the prisoner in (the) Lord" (4:1). After speaking of the body and the Head, he returns to conduct, "saying and testifying in the Lord". (4:17). The expression is similarly used in Eph. 5:10, 6:1, 10, 21.

On the other hand, the body and Head are in spiritual relationship. This is very clear *{Though not actually stated, see the paragraph after next}.in 1 Cor. 12, wherein we find the longest exposition of the doctrine of the body. First come spirituals. This is in proper accord with the Pentecostal character of the epistle, but in the next chapter we are pointed forward to the things of maturity. Then we read about the one body (1 Cor. 12: 12, 13). "Thus also is the Christ." Here we are seen in absolute oneness with Him. One spirit. One body. And here the body is actually called "the Christ"! Greater oneness with Him is impossible!

This consideration of the body as, figuratively, the Christ, is the key to the understanding of what follows. For Paul, here, the foot, the hand, the ear, the eye in his parable (vv. 15,26) are simply regarded as different members not equal in function, not even equal in honour; yet all equal in that they are necessary, in that the body cannot carry out its proper functions without them. That 1 Corinthians is far from obsolete at this present time is shown by the fact that its lessons are almost universally unheeded. Where, indeed, do we find the supposedly weaker members, or those less respectable, given the more exceeding honour? When we collectively manage to live up to the standard here set, we will have a better right to discard it as obsolete; but we shall not want to then.

In none of this do we see anything of growth or development of the body. It is viewed as in a moment of time, and the relative position of the members and their mutual duties, obligations and privileges are laid down. In the parable there is no Head as in Ephesians, because the whole is viewed in terms of function. The relationship is in essence as spiritual as in Ephesians, but it is not seen as what it will be in glory, but as what it is here and now. In the present state of things, while on earth, the functions are performed by the members and there is no Head present in person. We are viewing one limited aspect of it, in the figure "Parable"; and as with all figures we must not press it beyond its immediate context and object. Growth, maturity, headship, reconciliation, the sevenfold unity, do not appear. For them we must go to Ephesians and Colossians. Yet at the very end the door is opened. "Now you are Christ's body and members 'ek merous'". (1 Cor. 12:27). These two Greek words occur together only here and in 1 Cor. 13:9,12; and it is clear that the whole passage from 12:27 to 14:1 is a unity. The Corinthians were Christ's body (note the absence of "the") and members "out of part". Further on comes "we are knowing 'out of part'", "we are prophesying 'out of part'". It does not seem that "out of an instalment" is really what is meant, nor can we render it "in part"; yet the idea itself is clear enough. Only part of what was to be revealed had yet been told, or even perhaps been made known to the Apostle Paul himself, when he wrote 1 Corinthians. Thus, while the Corinthians were Christ's body, their membership was incomplete in that they could not and did not know fully what that membership meant. What they were knowing then was only partial, with the coming of the mature they and Paul would know fully. Their prophesying was only partial, with the coming of the mature the lesser gifts would be abrogated. What they were observing was dimmed by its incompleteness. With the coming of the mature, the veil of partial knowledge and therefore partial understanding would be torn away.

Unfortunately, no version known to me translates these words "ek merous" concordantly. I think "partial" and "partially" are the least unsatisfactory renderings; they are adequate for the occurrences in 1 Cor. 13:9, 12, and also for 1 Cor, 12:27, provided we do not overlook that it is not the membership itself which is partial, but the understanding of it and of its implications, which was all that was possible in that period before the mature had come. The perfect standing of the body was yet to be revealed, but that did not make it a different body.

It is as well here to guard one point. We must not deduce that the Apostle Paul, or even a few of the Corinthians, were not mature at the time of writing. Paul does not say, "Now whenever you may be coming to the mature," but "Whenever the mature may be coming." The earlier Pauline epistles are not a complete revelation in themselves. If we were less unimaginative we would readily perceive how much in them can be fully understood only in the light of the Prison Epistles. By putting ourselves, in imagination, back in the place where the Corinthians stood when they received their epistle, we can (if we ourselves are mature) appreciate that administrational maturity had not yet come. After the exhaustive discussions in the previous chapters it is unnecessary to labour this point. The Corinthians were figuratively observing by means of one of the defective metal mirrors which were all they had in those times. They were observing in an enigma—as indeed the immature still are, but not for the same reason, that the mature had not yet come—and if we cannot perceive the enigma for ourselves, the fault lies in ourselves alone. When the mature did come, Paul no longer talked about it in this way. Instead he spoke of the gifts "for the upbuilding of the body of the Christ, until we should all attain to the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, into manhood mature." (Eph. 4:8-13).

As regards this matter, we have allowed ourselves to get somewhat out of balance. "The mature" in 1 Cor. 13:10, regarded as a state which did not exist at the time of writing, but which would at some time be coming, is a unique use of the word "teleion" in the Greek Scriptures. This will be seen if we study its other occurrences: incidentally, it seems a pity that the C. V. has rendered so many of them by "perfect". The reason for this special force in 1 Cor. 13:10 is that here alone is found the word in the singular with the definite article. The definite article also occurs in 1 Cor. 2:6, but there it is plural, "the mature-ones," or as the 1930 C. V. had it, "those who are mature". In 1 Cor. 13:10 Paul was not forecasting the coming of "maturity" (teleiotEs: Col. 3:14 & Heb. 6:1 only). There was nothing of personal condition in it at all. The context shows quite clearly that "the mature" is with reference to knowledge and prophesying. What are abrogated are the knowledge and prophesying out of part. What take their place are the mature knowledge and the mature prophesying. The theme is bounded first and last by love, and this is in complete accord with Col. 3 :14.

Significant of our low estate in these days is the fact that we scarcely recognize the prophets among us. Not only should there be in our midst the mature knowledge, but also the mature prophesying. The Apostle Paul's final words on this subject in 1 Cor. 12,14 seem to be quite forgotten, although, as regards prophesying, they are fully borne out by the prominent position accorded to prophets in Eph. 4:11. In that context, only the languages have disappeared, and this fact does not contradict 1 Cor. 14:39 because it had been forecast in 1 Cor. 13:8. The Corinthians were exhorted to "be zealous to be prophesying"; but as to speaking in languages, there is only the mild statement that they were not to forbid it. So long as Pentecostal conditions were in force, Pentecostal spiritual things remained in force as well. They have never been forbidden; they have merely disappeared.

Let us wake up to realities and give prophesying (in its Scriptural, not its colloquial, sense) the full honour and importance which the Apostle Paul gives to it. The references to the church as the body of Christ, in the Prison Epistles, taken by groups, form the following Structure: Al Eph 1:23. Christ the Head. God gives Him—Head over all to the Church which is His body, the complement of Him Who the all in all is completing.
   B1 Eph 4:4. Sevenfold unity of the spirit. Tie of peace. One body.
      C1 Eph. 4:12-16 The upbuilding of the body of the; Christ. The Head Growth to manhood mature.
         D1 Eph. 5:23-30 Christ Head of the church, Saviour of the body. Husbands and wives.
A2 Col. 1:18 Christ Head of the church, Sovereign, Firstborn. The entire complement delights to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile the all to Him.
   B2 Col. 1:24. The sufferings of Paul for Christ's body. The Secret.
      C2 Col. 2:17-19 Out of the Head the entire body supplied. Growth.
         D2 Col. 3:15-21. Love the tie of maturity. The I peace of Christ far which you
            were called I also in one body. Wives and husbands.

Sharp as is the contrast between all this and what is written in 1 Corinthians, the underlying unity remains, the same Head, the same body. The difference is that membership is no longer "out of part," partial. The mature has come, members are now "joint-body-people," what is partial and belongs only to immaturity is abrogated. Prophecies, direct knowledge, tongues, healing, all those things which are fleshly as well as spiritual, were therefore out of place in a context which, even then, was essentially in spirit. So they disappeared. They have been left behind, to reappear only in the future conditions when fleshly privilege and fleshly distinctions once more have their proper place. The Secret has transmuted the body. When 1 Corinthians was written the position was "in one spirit we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks. . . ". There was at that time one spirit, one body; yes, and for at least some, one baptism—but those who partook were not joint-partakers; they were Jews or Greeks (Corinth was a Greek city); their distinctions in flesh had not yet gone, so they were not yet joint-body-people, and not yet could the glorious destiny of joint-heir-people and the privileges of joint-partaker-people be disclosed to them.

The first glorious disclosure of what the church which is His body has become now the mature is come, shows Christ as Head over all to the church which is His body, the complement of Him Who the all in all is completing immediately, the Apostle Paul goes back to Romans 6 and then to three more "joint-" words. In spirit God joint-vivifies us in the Christ, joint-rouses us, and joint-seats us among the ceelstials, in Christ Jesus. We cannot contemplate these three without going back  in thought, once again, to 1 Corinthians; but this time to the statement of the Apostle Paul's Evangel, the climax up to which the whole epistle has been leading. We see that, in Christ, all shall be vivified, we see the promise of the rousing of the dead, we see the glorious consummation with God All in all and we see ourselves putting on incorruption and immortality.

We have had to devote a great deal of attention to consideration of the doctrine of the body, for only thus can We deal with the widely current error that "the joint-body" of the Prison Epistles is a different body from that in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Perhaps the most important statement of this position is in the "Berean Expositor" Vol. 11 pp. 40-43.

Right at the start, we read "It is our belief that the Church of the One Body is peculiar to the revelation of the Prison Epistles, and that before the dispensation of the mystery the Church was not the 'One Body'. We certainly find references to the body in 1 Corinthians, and as some of our readers are not clear about the subject we propose to consider it here. " We certainly do find such references in 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12,13,20 and also in Romans 12:4, 5. Is it altogether unfair to describe this assertion as somewhat disingenuous? Surely the burden of proof is on those who would have us believe there are more than "one body"?

The writer then goes on to claim that 1 Cor. 12-14 is "concerning spiritual gifts," an idea which we have already refuted. After quoting Heb. 2:3, 4, he writes with reference to 2 Cor. 1:21, 22, "Here we have the 'diversities' of 1 Cor. 12. The confirmation and the anointing by means of these supernatural gifts have been withdrawn, the seal and the earnest remain. Eph. 1:13, 14; 1 Cor. 1:5-7 and Mark 16:17-20 bear similar testimony to the presence of 'gifts'. "The Christ" therefore of 1 Cor. 12 is not the church of the one body (which is characterized by the absence of all signs and evidential miracles), but that Church which was composed of supernaturally-gifted believers." We need only repeat "Therefore"! We read immediately, "The argument of the apostle is, therefore, that the gifts are to be looked upon as so many members of one body, . . . " So "Jews or Greeks, slaves or free" (12:13) are "gifts"!

Turning away from all this confusion, let us get the facts clear. Paul said that knowing and prophesying out of part would be abrogated, and they have been. "The mature" has come. We are agreed that it is in Ephesians, wherein the body of Christ is mentioned seven times. Clearly, then, the body of Christ was not abrogated. What, then, was abrogated? The "out of part" character of the members. They became joint-body-people.

This really settles the question, but two more quotations are worth making. Referring to 1 Cor. 12:13, the writer says, "Many seize upon these words as though they were a revelation of the mystery of the One Body, which had been hidden since the ages". This speaks for itself, for Scripture knows nothing of it. Again, referring to 1 Cor. 12:18-17, the author says, "The argument is pursued even to speaking of 'uncomely parts', which certainly can find no place in 'the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". One could only wish this were true, but it certainly is not! Let us. examine ourselves and ask, honestly, whether we are not "uncomely parts" in some way or other. After this wholesome exercise, we need not trouble to count the uncomlinesses among our fellow members.

Such a casual way of handling Scripture might perhaps be excused once in a while, but it recurs again and again. What can we think of the following (p. 43)? "In Corinthians the Church in connection with the supernatural gifts is likened to A body, the Church of the mystery is spoken of as being dispensationally THE body." But we read "the body" in 1 Cor. 10:16,12:18,19,22,23,24,25', "the one body" in 12:12; and the definite article is absent in Eph. 2:16, 4:4; and Col. 3:15.

Try as we may to avoid it, the truth remains that as regards the doctrine of the body we simply cannot get away from 1 Corinthians. Without it, the body in Ephesians is "in the air" in the colloquial sense. Furthermore, apart from Ephesians the doctrine of the one body in Romans and 1 Corinthians is incomplete. Some say easily, "My place is in celestial glory seated with Christ; I am not concerned with a body which belongs down below, with ordinances, with bread and with wine." In this one catches an echo of Peter talking on the mount of the transfiguration, "Lord, it is ideal for us to be here!" To this one answer alone is possible; "This is my beloved Son. . . be hearing Him."

Not for nothing are all but one of the references to the church which is Christ's body in the practical, conduct, section of Ephesians. Not for nothing are all the references to it in 1 Corinthians connected with conduct. And certainly not for nothing are the solemn words about the Lord's Supper written in 1 Cor. 11:23-32. Let us be honest and admit with shame how far our conduct as members of the body falls short of the ideal. However good it may be in other matters, as members of the body it is inexpressibly bad. We seem to have no sense of our mutual responsibilities. For all the attention we pay to it, 1 Cor. 12:14-26 might never have been written. Why is this? Surely the answer is plain enough, that for all the attention we pay to it 1 Cor. 11:23-32 might never have been written either.

To reply that the "Brethren," who lay such stress on the Lord's Supper, are a byword for schism, is to miss the whole point. Their schisms are due to failure in respect of 1 Cor. 11:27-29, to creating for themselves conditions governing reception of other members of the body which are totally opposed to the whole spirit and teaching of Ephesians. We may speak scornfully of those who misuse the Lord's Supper, but what worse misuse of it can there be than the almost complete neglect of it by ourselves, including those of us who know better and have no excuse?

I am persuaded that wilfully turning our back on the Lord's Supper is the prime cause of all our failure. How can we live up to our position as joint-body-people if we neglect the one and only sign and ceremony which the Lord has given to us for our use, the act which lies at the very core of the doctrine of the body, the fact which alone gives it any meaning? We no longer generally show forth the Lord's death in the Lord's Supper—so we cease to show it forth in any other way. These are hard words, but our schisms and sectism are facts which cannot be denied.

Would that we could leave it at this; but unfortunately a curious idea has been brought to notice in "Unsearchable Riches," Vol. 30, 1939, p. 287. This speaks of difficulties which "arise from the undoubted fact that, in the course of God's operations, He has more bodies than the one body here spoken of." i. e. in Ephesians.

"The undoubted fact"! Undoubted!!

The author of this goes on to say:

"On the earth, before this, there were Israel and the nations in flesh. There was a 'body' which was composed of the nations. These, I reasoned, must have been present when saints in Israel, as well as another, mostly of believers among Ephesians was written. Why are they ignored in this statement? Why does Paul say 'there is one body,' when Peter and the Circumcision saints were still alive and formed another, a second distinct body? Can it not be equally true today that another body exists, as well as the 'one body'?

The immediate answer I found to be very simple. Paul did not say 'there is one body'. There is no verb, and no note of time in the statement of the spiritual unities which form the basis of our conduct in this secret administration of God's grace. In fact the abruptness of the statement is not only striking, but most translators consider it a defect, and add the words there is, to give it finish. Can we not see superhuman wisdom in the omission? It may not have been strictly true, when Ephesians was written, to say 'there is (now) one body.' But why embarass and cloud a great rubric of our faith with temporary and evanescent details, true only for a few years at the commencement of the administration, which do not belong to it at all, and which would hinder its apprehension? There is a 'no man's land, between economies which it is as well to ignore, when sketching their grand outlines."

I have quoted these two extraordinary paragraphs in, full, lest otherwise there might be some doubt whether I have not garbled the quotation. There it stands in cold print, all the more remarkable because it stands over the initials of one who, in the past, has strenuously maintained the superhuman accuracy of God's Word and the precision of Paul's language.

Where are we told—in Scripture—that Peter and the Circumcision saints formed another, a second distinct body?

From the absence of any note of time in the statement of the sevenfold unity of Eph. 4, we are apparently expected to deduce that it did not yet exist. Admittedly "there is" is an interpolation by translators, but what about the C. V. itself in Rom. 12:5, 1 Cor. 10:17, 12:13? The "one body" was in existence when these were written, so why should we require a note of time to be tagged to it at a later date? We need not reason about it; all we have to do is to believe Scripture as it stands.

Some may be temerarious enough to state that Peter and John were members of a body; but what matters is not what we choose to say, but what Scripture says. God has kept the figure of the one body exclusively for the saints who receive the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. The expression is wholly Pauline. Peter uses the word once only, in 1 Pet. 2:24.

Perhaps the oddest thing of all about this paper is found near the end: "Revelation reveals to faith the fact that there is one body. Reason reckons on inference to establish the fiction that there are more." (ibid p. 311). Place this beside the first quotation from p. 287, and really nothing more remains to be said.

All the confusion springs from the supposed necessity of sorting out a complicated tangle of administrations or economies. Whether this necessity is anything more than a figment of our imaginations will have to be discussed in our next chapter.

"Dispensational Truth"
Much of the credit for our recent reconsideration of what is known as "Dispensational Truth" belongs to the late Pastor George L. Rogers, whose three booklets "Dispensational and Other Studies," with their blunt appeal to facts and facts alone, have revolutionized our understanding of the earlier so-called administrations. For us, it is a tragedy that he was not able to complete the series which he started and give us the benefit of his mature findings on this subject as regards the Apostle Paul's epistles. In saying this, I am not overlooking what has been written in Unsearchable Riches on the subject, particularly in 1937 and 1939; but nevertheless I am satisfied that only part of the confusion besetting it has been cleared away, and that the new ideas set forth by Pastor Rogers are on the right lines, though they do not go quite far enough.

Both writers have drawn attention to the fact that an administration is not a period of time. Like everything else in this world which is subject to the flux of duration, there must be a point of time when any particular phase of God's purposes begins, and another when it ceases; but such time limits do not enter in any way into the definition of an administration. If we make them the primary consideration instead of one of the secondary considerations, we cannot avoid error.

Pastor Rogers says: "Since economy or dispensation is not a time word it is incorrect to say 'during this dispensation.' As long as dispensations are thought of as periods of time people will speak of passing from one dispensation into another. One cannot be in two ages at the same time; but he can enjoy the blessings of several dispensations at the same time. . . . Men cannot pass from one dispensation into another as we pass from one year into another. For example, when Paul tells the saints, "Ye are not under law, but under grace," he does not prove this statement by asserting that they have passed out of a legal dispensation and have come into an era of grace. Rather, he says that "the law hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth," and he shows that only those are discharged from the law who were "made dead to the law through the body of Christ." Those who are separate from Christ are not discharged from the law, and still live under the law." (No. 1 pp. 8 & 9). Just before this he says: "Scripture affords abundant material for a scheme of the ages; but has little to say of economies. We read of "the consummation of the age, but never of the consummation of a dispensation."

These statements are, I am persuaded, the key to the understanding of the matter.

Pastor Rogers outlines in his three booklets three administrations; in order, those of Creation, Sacrifice, Human Government. These are still in being, as he ably shows; and I think that we may take it as established that the ideas he has outlined are correct. I only wish he had been able to extend them further.

Where I have a doubt is as to whether we ought to call them administrations, or indeed most of the other administrations which various expositors have suggested. Scripture does not; and our so naming them is, in essence, a piece of reasoning about Scripture and an adding to it. Apart from in the parable of Luke 16 the word "oikonomia," HOME-LAW, stewardship, administration occurs only four or five times in the Greek Scriptures, 1. Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2, 9; Col. 1:25 and perhaps 1. Tim. 1:4. "Stewardship" is clearly the right word in Luke 16:2, 4 and there is no idea of a public administration or economy in this passage, so we can leave it out of consideration. The other passages will be discussed later. Apart from them, suppose we drop the words "administration," "economy," "dispensational truth"? How will we stand? Will we have lost anything?

The answer is, definitely, "No." We can get all we need without having to postulate a number of supposed "administrations" or "economies." Expositors have so labelled them simply because the human mind likes to work-out a formal regular system. Twelve economies look neat, regular and orderly; but should we not ask ourselves just why this neat orderly pattern is not explicitly defined in the Scriptures? Twelve apostles of the Circumcision were defined and named, but not the apostles of the church which is Christ's body. On the other hand, we are given a seven-fold unity in Ephesians which has no parallel in the writings for the Circumcision. Why not accept these things as they are? Why fret ourselves by trying to create a system of our own?

I would not have it thought that I condemn "dispensational truth" without qualification. It has been a very useful and fruitful concept. Its study has enabled us to do what we would have found much more difficult to accomplish without it. By its aid we have distinguished the special Evangel, and all that goes with it, set forth in the Apostle Paul's epistles, and rid ourselves of much of the traditional confusion. Yet "dispensational truth" is largely a creation of our own minds. By means of it we have been enabled to coordinate the teaching of the Greek Scriptures and understand it more fully. If we might name this understanding "the temple of truth," then we can regard "dispensational truth" as the scaffolding which has helped us to build it. But it is no more than scaffolding. We should not wish to retain such structures, which neither embellish a building nor serve any useful purpose once the main work is done.

Let us first examine the early so-called administrations.

Pastor Rogers has effectually disposed of the notion that there was an age or administration of innocence, and shown in its place that God has dispensed creation blessings which aode through all the ages. The creation revelation is a permanent and increasing one up to the consummation of the purpose of the ages and beyond. Charts of the dispensations do not begin right. They are a whole age too late. And this initial mistake results in a misconception of the character and duration of all subsequent dispensations. While we do not question that for a brief era man was innocent of disobedience to God's command, we must deny that this was a dispensation." (Number 1 p. 10) He further drew attention to the fact that the Eonian Evangel (Rev. 14:6, 7) really is "an evangel throughout all ages and is preached concurrently with other, later gospels." It is the basis of Job, and of Paul's proclamation in Acts 14:15, 18; 17:16-31, Rom. 1:19-32; 8:19-22 and of all references to Creator and creation in Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews. This booklet deserves the closest study.

The second booklet begins with an important study of "Conscience," and refutes the contention that there was an administration of conscience. Instead, he says: "To sum up, we may ask what God had given to the human race before the flood. Was it only innocency and conscience? Or had He revealed His power and glory in creation, of which conscience is a part; His wrath against sin and His grace towards sinners in providing a way of acceptance through Another's sacrifice, of which all sacrifices spoke? All these are permanent dispensations, so that the misleading partitioning of Scripture which we have mentioned should be rejected." (No.2 p. 18).

Pastor Rogers then went on to point out that "the deluge marked the passing of an age and the old world. With the advent of the new age and the new cosmos, which endure to the present time, man was given a new dispensation—that of human government. This was added to the former dispensations of creation and sacrifice." (p. 19) "Closely related to the dispensation of human government was the division of the human race into nations. The division begins with Noah's prophecy in which God's governmental ways with the three primary branches of the human race are revealed." (ibid p. 30)

In Booklet No.3 Pastor Rogers deals with the promises to the Fathers. It is impossible to do justice to him in brief quotations; but one remark is so much to the point that it must be transcribed.

"It should be evident to all that if the making of the promises marked a new dispensation for Abraham and his seed, it left the remainder of humanity with different dispensations. Thus, as we shall see, different peoples and classes enjoy different dispensations at the same time. In any era there are several dispensations or economies." (pp. 4, 5)

The only criticism of Pastor Rogers's general thesis I have to make is in connection with the terms used, not with the teaching he proclaimed. In every case above, it appears to me that all these things given by God were dispensations in the sense of the Greek word "diakonia" through-service, not administrations in the sense of "oikonomia," home-law. I therefore read his positive teaching in these three booklets with "diakonia" in mind when he speaks for himself about "dispensations," and with "oikonomia" in mind when and only when he refers to the teaching of others about dispensations or administrations. Will any who may feel disposed to criticise this attitude be kind enough to explain in what way the truths Pastor Rogers has put forward are altered by refraining from calling any of these revelations from God either "administrations" or "economies" or "dispensations" in the sense employed in "dispensational truth"?

The fact is, the dispensations in "dispensational truth" have become a tangle of conflicting and contradictory ideas. If Creation, Sacrifice, Human Government and the rest are dispensations or administrations (in the oikonomia sense) then they do run concurrently and they do run cumulatively and they are none of them periods of time. What. then, are we to make of the three administrations about which we read in Ephesians? Are they three distinct administrations or economies relating to the Secret? Are they running concurrently with all the previous administrations, whatever these may be? And are they running cumulatively with them? If we answer the two latter questions by "Yes," then we are bound to rule out any previous administrations which are incompatible with the Administration of the Secret, if only on the ground of this incompatibility. There can, then, have been no administration of law or of covenant. If we answer "No," then we are faced with the fact that the only administrations named in Scripture are fundamentally different in nature from the earlier administrations which we have accepted as such.

Because I believe that these questions are irrelevant and meaningless, I am not going to attempt to answer them. Whatever our traditions may be, I personally have no hesitation over scrapping them if they do not stand the test of conformity with Scripture. Moreover, as I have already pointed out, these things which God has dispensed to humanity, or to an election from humanity, exist in their own right. Why must we struggle to limit them, to tabulate them, to hedge them about with systematic boundaries, to work them into our dispensational systems? God has revealed in the Scriptures all we ought to know and all we need to know about them. Why not leave them as they are?

Once more, I would stress with all the force at my command that these construct systems of thought are artificial and unnecessary. We do not require any system of "dispensational truth" to enable us to understand the doctrines of the Kingdom, justification by faith, the Conciliation and reigning grace, the Secret of Ephesians 3, the New Covenant. We do not need such a system in order to understand Romans 11 or Ephesians 3 or Hebrews 8. All we need are Romans 11 or Ephesians 3 or Hebrews 8 respectively, together with the remainder of the Greek Scriptures as a background of our thinking on these particular points. "Dispensational truth" is not necessary to enable us to distinguish between the Evangel of the Circumcision and the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. Those two evangels are ABSOLUTELY FUNDAMENTAL. They are the foundation of what is sound in "dispensational truth," but they do not make it either necessary or desirable. They stand in their own right, and they would so stand if nobody had eyer thought of "the Dispensation of Law," "the Pentecostal Dispensation" or "the Dispensation of Readjustment." The truth is, we have coined these terms as an aid to our own thinking. They are, at best, scaffolding or crutches (whichever figure we prefer); and they should be discarded when the "temple of truth" is sufficiently built up, or when we have a sufficient grasp of the truths of Scripture to be able to proceed on our walk without artificial aids.

Take, for example, the "administration" of law. When did it terminate? The question is meaningless. For you, I trust, and for me it has terminated once and for all. For the orthodox Jew it is still in full force! As it is, sad to say, for many who call themselves Christians. If we read 2 Corinthians 3 intelligently we will see that the sons of Israel have not yet discovered that, in Christ, the Old Covenant is vanishing. Not, let us bear in mind, "has vanished." Scripture is very exact, and nowhere are we told that the law is over and done with for everyone, irrespective of position before God. No more are we told that the law is vanishing, but the Old Covenant. This distinction is vitally important. The New Covenant is in essence bound up with the law and is pointless without it. H the law were finally over and done with, the New Covenant would have to be written off with it. We would not even be able to regard it as stillborn. The very thought of it would have to be discarded and the whole of Hebrew prophecy discarded with it together with the Hebrews Epistle and all the expectation of Israel. Those who so eagerly terminate the law seem to be wholly unable to realize the impossible price which would have to be paid for the illusory freedom which would result.

The first occurrence of a word is frequently very enlightening; though it is a serious mistake to suggest, as some do, that it fixes its force. "Nomos," law, first occurs in the Greek Scriptures in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:17. "You should not be inferring that I came to demolish the law or the prophets. I came not to demolish but to fulfill. For verily, I am saying to you, till heaven and earth pass by, one iota or one ceriph may by no means pass by from the law till all should be coming to pass." (C. V.)

"For all the prophets and the law until John prophesy." (Matt 11:13) The force of this seems to be that, until John, the prophets and the law were setting forth something which was to come; but with John was inaugurated that reality to which they pointed, which (we see from Luke 16:16) is the Evangel of the Kingdom of God. Yet, lest there should be any misunderstanding, v. 17 reinforces Matt 5:17, "Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass by than for one ceriph of the law to fall."

"The law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came into being through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). This links the grace and the truth to the Evangel of the Kingdom of God; but nothing in the Gospels gives even a shadow of support to any notion that these things set aside the law. Nor do we find any such statement in the Epistles. Romans and Galatians together use the word "law" more than the whole of the rest of the Greek Scriptures; and the Apostle Paul certainly does not despise the law or hold it to be obsolete (Rom 7:7, 12, 14, 16, 22, 25). Indeed, he states that Christ is the consummation of law for righteousness to everyone who is believing (Rom 10:4), and here we get very near to the Sermon on the Mount. Nothing of this is contradicted in the earlier chapters of Romans or in Galatians. For us, it is not the law which works mischief, but fleshly misuse of the law, attempting to make the law do what it cannot do and was never intended to do.

If only we could come to the study of these themes objectively, having our minds unclouded with preconceived and artificial dispensational theories, how simple, luminous and straightforward they would be! Why must we bemuse ourselves with problems as to when the "dispensation" of law ended, or how, and why? Naturally we cannot find a satisfactory answer to a question which is inherently unsatisfactory and unsound.

Our dispensationalism forces us to bring an end to the law during the period covered by the "dispensation" of the Secret; even though in the next eon we are to find the law once again enthroned. "Christ is the end of the law" supposedly, but only for the present! It is difficult to contemplate all this and other complex schemes without a feeling that it is making God out to be staging a neat, but not very scrupulous conjuring trick. One of the things which helped me to accept the truth of the ultimate reconciliation of the universe (Col 1:20) was that this doctrine released me from being on the defensive, from feeling that I had in a measure to apologize for God. I think much the same about some presentations of "dispensational truth." A selection of them will be discussed later. Mean' while, there is the general problem to be faced, whether any man-made definitions of administrations are really necessary, particularly as they seem all to lead to some explaining, explaining away, or apologizing for, their consequences. Nothing of any significance to our understanding of the law and of the relation of the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision, respectively, to it is added or taken away by declining to reckon the law as an administration or economy. Why, then, add this idea to Scripture?

The "Kingdom Administration" is similar. Some so-called advanced dispensationalists have presented an elaborate programme of proclamations and withdrawals of the Kingdom, which really constitutes the bulk of "dispensational truth" as they understand it. These and earlier, simpler schemes have been fought over for years past, and the struggles of the various disputants have introduced a complex tangle of subsidiary questions, consideration of which will occupy much of the rest of this book. The subjects of this discussion largely derive from the belief that each administration is a separate period of time. Consequently the dispensationalists have had to employ a great deal of ingenuity in solving a kind of mental jigsaw puzzle created by the supposed necessity of so sorting out the administrations that they will not clash with one another.

If our first chapters have done nothing else, they have at least freed us from all this confusion about the Kingdom. And we have got ourselves free, not by settling which "administration" is which, and how the Kingdom was offered, with-drawn, re-offered, postponed, and all the rest, in accord with rapidly changing economies; but by studying and rightly-dividing the various aspects of the Kingdom altogether apart from recondite problems of "dispensational truth." Moreover, the problem of the future has become far more simple. Kingdom truth will be unaffected by our departure up to our own celestial heritage. Those under law will remain under law, wholly unaffected by our special standing. The grace and the truth which came by Jesus Christ will still operate. Indeed, everything will operate all the more smoothly for the removal of the hindrances to purely terrestrial purposes brought about by the existence of the celestial calling bound up with the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. We cannot forecast just how events will proceed; nor need we, for they are not our concern.

Recently a paper has been published showing five ways of answering the question "To what dispensation does Acts belong?"
These are that Acts:

(1) closes the Dispensation of the Law and the Prophets.
(2) begins the Dispensation of Grace.
(3) covers a change-over from one dispensation to the other.
(4) is an independent, peculiar dispensation sandwiched between the two.
(5) is the second half of an independent dispensation occurring between Law and Grace.

Needless to say, once we rid our minds of this curious obsession with "dispensations" the question vanishes like a puff of steam in dry air. Under its unfortunate influence, our author is compelled to strain Scripture to the breaking point. He has to set law against grace. So does the Apostle Paul in Galatians, admittedly; but in Galatians as in the first half of Romans, the antagonism between the two is in a limited context. With regard to the Circumcision—in fact, outside the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, and the Secret—there is no conflict whatever between law and grace because there is no incompatibility between them.

Here we reach the real genuine "dispensational truth"; the context in which it really has meaning and the only one; and naturally so, because it is the only context wherein God Him. self discloses anything to us which really can be related in any way to administrational ideas. This is the basic rock-bottom fact, that, outside the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, (except in one parable which plainly does not affect the issue) God has not a word to say to mankind about any "oikonomia" of His. The word does not apply in any way whatever to Israel, the Circumcision, the Covenant People. That is the reason, also, why only those who have been granted some understanding of The Secret have found any need for "dispensational truth" or developed any understanding of it. Those who are unaware of the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, or of The Secret will naturally also be unaware of the Administration of the Secret and of any "dispensational truth."

Then why decry "dispensational truth"? Because, in our eagerness to grasp for ourselves and set forth to the saints the true nature of the Evangel of the Uncircumcision and the glories of The Secret, we have gone to absurd lengths in our dispensationalism. I repeat, that as a scaffolding for the building-up of our understanding of these things it has served a useful, perhaps vital purpose. Yet that purpose has been at all necessary only because of the infirmity of our sin weakened and death stricken minds. Now we have at last come to a sound understanding of the Evangels and of The Secret, such scaffolding is unnecessary and superfluous. In the light of the foregoing, we have only to peruse the standard books on "dispensational truth" to see that (so to speak) the scaffolding has overshadowed and almost hidden the building.

We see this state of affairs in that aspect of the question of "the body of Christ" which we have been discussing at the end of Chapter 13. In spite of Mr. Knoch's realization that an "administration" is not a period of time, in the paper referred to he had not managed to clear his mind of the idea that there was a sort of temporal "no man's land" between what he regarded as administrations. This will not do! The moment we start thinking of "the body" as belonging to some particular period of time, we have got our whole idea of it out of focus. Paul associated "the body" with his Evangel, not with any period of history. Where his Evangel operates, there is the church which is the body of Christ. Those under the law, those under covenant, the Circumcision, are in the very nature of things outside "the body". That is why Paul is silent about time marks for "the body"—it has nothing to do with time. Moreover, since "the body" is to do solely with the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, to talk about a body composed of the Circumcision is meaningless. The Circumcision are as definitely disqualified from membership of "the body" as members of "the body" are disqualified from the privileges of Israel.

This severance of "body truth" from time elements raises at once the question of how it can be known whether a particular individual Christian is a member of "the body" or not. The Apostle Paul was the first to be called to membership. The Apostle Peter, though he obviously knew a good deal about Paul's Evangel (2 Pet. 3:15, 16), remained a apostle of the Circumcision and therefore not a member of "the body". The two apostles existed in these states simultaneously. Must we deduce that two contradictory administrations existed simultaneously? Not at all. Two different Evangels co-existed, the Evangel of the Circumcision and the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. The particular company any individual belonged to depended solely on what evangel that individual was called to.

Many will find this hard to grasp—because it is so simple. Yes, that is all there was to it, and all there is to it now. If you are called to the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, you are called to membership of the church which is Christ's body. If you are called to the Evangel of the Circumcision, you are called to the Circumcision, to the standing and the privileges of Israel.

At one stroke this cuts the cords of every problem of  "dispensational truth". For all we know, there may be many, even at this moment, who are being called to the Evangel of the Circumcision in preparation for the events which are to happen after we have gone. Yet we have no need to worry about the problems involved in such a matter, how the sup posed administrations are going to overlap or how they will be sorted out. Such problems are the unreal and fictitious results of "dispensational" schemes of our own making, not the products of true faith.

To speak of the "Pentescostal Administrations", of the "Economy of Readjustments" and perhaps of another future "Transitional Economy" is deliberately to go out of our way to mislead ourselves. Pentecost had a significance of its own, as already discussed, which we do well to study and under stand. While Pentecostal conditions were in force, the Apostle Paul was operating largely under conditions which were non-Pentecostal, which were even in many ways incompatible with the judgment atmosphere characteristic of Pentecost. That was possible because the Pentecostal conditions were very transient then. Paul was, indeed, readjusting many of the saints who needed readjustment. This is clear enough and we ought to master all its details. What we ought not to do, for it has led us astray and will continue so to lead us if we refuse to face the facts, is to transform these things into "administrations". That is no longer necessary, if it ever was; and now it is positively harmful to the cause of truth.

I feel bound to confess that I have been in error in this respect. In "The New Covenant" I have repeatedly referred to that portion of the Apostle Paul's ministry devoted to readjusting the saints as the Economy of Readjustment. If I had not been, like the rest of us, partially blinded by our traditions, I would have perceived the obvious truth that this readjustment was a very minor feature then. The main part of Paul's ministry was the Evangel of the Uncircumcision and the secrets which accompany it. Also I have called the events connected with Pentecost the "Pentecostal Economy", oblivious of the fact that much of Paul's ministry during this supposed economy was of quite a different kind. I do not think I ever fell into the further error of severing off, as time periods, these supposed economies from other equally fictitious ones; but others did, and continue so to do. For us all the right course is to admit the mistake and start afresh.

I confess, too, that I am finding some difficulty in expressing all these ideas because so many of the words used in connection with them have acquired technical shades of meaning in consequence of the dispensational schemes for the construction of which we have used them. Thus, when I said a little while back that, except in one parable, outside the Evangel of the Uncircumcision God has not a word to say to mankind about any "oikonomia" of His; in my efforts to preserve continuity of thought, I was, in a slight measure, begging the question. It is high time, therefore, to examine the contexts of "oikonomia" in the Greek Scriptures.

The usage in Luke 16:2, 4 need not detain us. It is not in any way "dispensational" in the ordinary sense. This fact, of itself, should give us a slight bias towards "stewardship" and against "administration" or "economy". . Apart from this, the first, and most difficult, is 1 Cor. 9:17. The grammatical problems will be discussed in a note at the end of this chapter; meanwhile the following rendering is suggested for vv. 17, 18:

"For if, of my own will this thing I am engaging in; I have a reward: but if, not of my own will, a stewardship I have accepted in trust; what, then, is my reward? That, in evangelizing, I should be placing the evangel without charge; in not using to the utmost the authority of mine in the evangel."

Suggested renderings of the others are:

Eph. 1:10: "unto stewardship of the complement of the eras" or "with a view to a stewardship. . .".

Eph. 3:2: "since you surely hear of the stewardship of the grace of God".

Eph. 3:9: "and to enlighten all as to what is the steward, ship of the Secret which has been concealed. . .".

Col. 1:25: "in accord with the stewardship of God." This is the 1930 C. V. reading, and I see no good reason for the change in 1944.

1 Tim. 1:4: "God's stewardship which is in faith" (1930 C.V. again). The C.V. Greek text points out that there is an alternative reading here, "oikodomia", for which there is better evidence than the C.V. indicates. This reading "edification" gives a much more satisfactory sense (A.V. "rather than godly edifying which is in. faith"). There is a clearly understandable contrast between "myths and interminable genealogies" on the one hand and "godly edification" on the other, whereas "stewardship" does not seem to me to make sense. Bloomfield neatly put it thus: "It yields, turn it how we will, . . . so inapt a sense that I cannot venture to edit it." Here, I think, we must decide against the C.V. Greek text.

From the above considerations it is fairly plain that we can be rigidly concordant with "oikonomia" and render it consistently by "stewardship." If so, the phrase "the Economy of the Secret" must go. Yet, does that matter? Do we really need it? We still have the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, the Conciliation and reigning grace, the Secret of Eph. 3 and all the other secrets. Nothing in the Apostle Paul's epistles is tampered with or changed at. all. Are we in any way the worse for the drastic simplification involved in all this? I am convinced we are not. The truth is always simpler in reality than our partial human apprehension of it. We love to make it more complex and difficult. That is a manifestation of human pride. Yet if we try to see the matter as God sees it, we must ask ourselves whether it is in any way desirable to complicate the simplicity which is in Christ.

Perhaps I shall be criticised as one who, having climbed on to the roof, kicks down the ladder. Well, I have no desire to leave the roof; and, now I am there, I am convinced I can show others how to make the climb without artificial aids. Is not this a clear gain?

To sum up: There are no administrations or economies at all. The fundamental of fundamentals is the doctrine of the two evangels, the Evangel of the Circumcision and the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. All that is sound in "dispensational truth" is in the fact and its consequences, with the Evangel of the Circumcision, what matter is whether a person is of the Circumcision, in covenant relationship with God. With the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, what matters is whether a person is positively debarred from covenant relationship with God, not merely not in possession of it; and therefore free from the handicaps necessarily involved in it. The essential thing is that the individual shall have no claim whatever on God, and no possibility of any claim, so that he is free from the bondage of a claim. This is the prior condition without which the Evangel of the Uncircumcision cannot even begin to function. Moreover, it is not that God says, "I will bless in spite of you having no claim on Me. I will act as if you had a claim". That would be no more than a device to get people into a position of privilege by a sort of legal fiction. No! It is "I will bless you because you have no claim on Me".

Even at the risk of being tedious, the vital point must be emphasized that uncircumcision (akrobustia) is not merely the negative fact of being not circumcised. It is a positive state or condition; something which is possessed, as the first occurrence shows; "You came in toward men having uncircumcision". (Acts 11:3)

These are the two basic postulates of God's dealings with humanity. Either one, or the other. We cannot describe either as "normal". The Evangel of the Uncircumcision is abnormal as compared with the state of affairs preceding or succeeding present prevailing conditions. The conditions from Abraham to Paul were abnormal as compared with those which preceded and succeeded them.

The term "dispensational truth" has become so encrusted with theories and false assumptions that it is now absolutely necessary to discard it if we want to recover a clear Scriptural understanding of the matters with which it is supposed to deal.

This unfortunately creates a verbal gap which is very difficult to fill. We have got to purge away from our minds the false linkage to time. For the present moment the Evangel of the Uncircumcision is in force and all who receive it become members of the church which is Christ's body. At some moment to come, the body will be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and it will cease to exist on earth, and with it the Evangel of. the Uncircumcision will cease to exist also. That seems to locate it within a framework of time. So it must, because everything that happens is, in the very nature of things, located within a framework of time. But as regard s the body, that is all, so far as time boundaries go. We have no right whatever to assume that during the closing days of the present "economy" the Evangel of the Circumcision will not again, quite properly, be proclaimed to the Circumcision. There was a period during the time covered by Acts when both evangels, incompatible though they are, were being proclaimed simultaneously, though naturally not to the same people. Why should we assume that this state of transition will not occur again? Here we must tread care fully. Whether, in fact, the two evangels are now in operation simultaneously, or ever will be again, is another question, right outside the present theme. All I maintain, here, is that we must not assume this to be impossible and build up dispensational systems upon this and similar assumptions.

Another blessed gain from getting rid of all time-bound economies is that we are freed to enjoy all the Scriptures so far as they are applicable to ourselves. We need no longer say that Paul's epistles alone belong to this economy, and that it is therefore an anachronism to read the other Greek Scriptures as if they had any present application at all. Provided we bear constantly in mind that they belong primarily to an evangel which is other than ours and incompatible with it, and that we must therefore continually measure them against our Evangel of the Uncircumcision; we may apply them to our selves with safety and, what is more, with profit. Take for example an extreme case, Matt. 5 :5. Its primary meaning is fixed, not by its being in Matthew's Gospel, but by the fact that it is concerned with the land or the earth. Thus, as the C.V. note puts it, "there is no happiness in this beatitude for us." Quite so; but there is no need to be dispensational about it. We can understand it without artificial theories. Nor is there any need to "write it off" for the present time. Its basic principle is a perpetual reminder that we are living in an abnormal world-order, and further that what is true morally for those who are to enjoy the tenancy of the earth is all the more true for those whose calling is celestial. So the Apostle Paul enjoins on us meekness (Gal. 5:23; 6:1; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2); and twice as often as the Twelve (James 1:21, 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:16). This speaks for itself!

Dispensational Truth has, rightly, stressed our celestial calling. It has served us well in giving us an appreciation of The Secret. But, as usual, we have run to extremes and forgotten that our feet are on the earth still. This is implied by the sandals of Eph. 6:15; an important and neglected truth, not so very far from Matt. 5:5. Let us remember it!

Finally, there is one practical aspect of the matter which because of its extreme importance I have deliberately left to the end. With the exception of that greatest symbol of unity, the Lords Supper, no other matter has provoked more schism in modern times than Dispensationalism. Our divisions over the Lord's Supper must ever be left on their unapproachable pinnacle of shame; but it has been reserved for the extreme dispensationalists to add one more ground for schism in regard to it, the doctrine that the disclosure of The Secret has rendered it obsolete. The study of Dispensational Truth has led us to new light and to new divisions. If we had been great enough, we could have had the light without the divisions; and presently we would have discovered what we have now learned with so much pain and toil—that the grounds for our divisions are entirely of our own invention.

This is a difficult verse; rather more, indeed, than the versions show.

The verb pisteuO—believe, trust, entrust—is here, on one of three occurrences only, in the Middle Voice. This fact must have significance.

Here the Middle governs an Accusative case (oikonomian). It is therefore necessary to give it an Active rather than a Passive form if no definite English Middle can be found. I have, therefore, tried to retain the Middle sense by,the reading, "a stewardship I have accepted in trust."

Let us see how this idea fits the other two occurrences. In Rom. 10:10, Rotherham (2nd Edition) had the neat notion of using the impersonal pronoun. Following this, we get: "For as to heart one accepts it in trust unto righteousness, yet as to mouth one confesses unto salvation." This not only brings out the sense of acting of ones own accord but also the double sense, inherent in the Greek word, of faith as belief and trust.

This applies also to Gal. 2:7, where we have Paul's action on his own accord and the combination of belief and trust, by rendering it: "But, on the contrary, perceiving that I have accepted in trust the Evangel of the Uncircumcision." This also avoids the objectionable intrusion of "with."

"Of my own will." Here the C. V. is not so concordant as it appears to be. In its Concordance, "voluntarily" is listed as the equivalent of "hekon" (Rom. 8:20, 1. Cor. 9:17) and also of "hekousiOs" (Heb. 10:26, 1. Pet. 2:5). At the back of both words seems to be the idea of volition. Wakefield reads in 1. Cor. 9:17 "without my consent"; Rotherham (2nd Ed) "by choice."

This clashes with the C. V. renderings of other words, but I cannot help that! I do not see how it can be maintained that the C. V. renderings of this group of ideas are altogether satisfactory. The word "thelO" is rendered "will" and "idiomatically" (!) by "want"; but these two words are entirely different, and I am inclined to think that "want" is the better rendering throughout. There is no idea of deliberation in "thelO", as there is in "boulomai", related to the Latin "volo" and English "will." The word "wish" (euchomai) is rendered as well by "vow", which is rather a different word. Then there is another English word, "desire," which, with three other words, "lust," "yearn" and "covet'" is attached to "epithumeO." This has the force of a desire which is strong or over' done; and only in I Tim. 3: 1 does the C.V. render it "desire" (1930), and this has now become "crave." "Desire" is, how' ever, used for the corresponding noun several times.

Extended Note No. 6, The Law
One very friendly critic, who escaped from the legalism of the Lutheran Church, has found my remarks about the Law a matter of serious difficulty. He has put to me three propositions. The first is that it was given only to a specific people, Israel. This I regard as unquestionably true, so I will not discuss it. The other two are: 2. It was given only for a predetermined time: "until the Seed should come." (Galatians 3)
3. When the Seed came it was abolished. That is when He had fulfilled it all.

What is the subject of Galatians 3? Justification by faith apart from works of law, with special reference to getting the spirit (vv 1-5), and to Abraham and promise. The discussion has nothing whatever to do with the Evangel of the Circumcision. It is distinctively and essentially part of the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, the special characteristic of which is the absence of covenant distinction. Accordingly, the only mention of the Circumcision in Galatians 3 is an unqualified negative: " . . . Christ, in Whom there is no Jew nor yet Greek." (v. 28)

I submit, therefore, that this chapter is definitely not the place to look for information about the relation between the Law and the Covenant People, Israel. If we read Israel into it, we are simply asking to be led astray.

I am firmly convinced that it is a major error to go outside the scope of any passage when interpreting it. Since I drafted those words I have read with great pleasure Mr. A. E. Knoch's confirmation of them in "Unsearchable Riches," Vol. 39, p. 272: "We should always interpret a passage in the light of its context, and never use it to 'prove' something which is not in view." What is called "Dispensational Truth" arose when Scripture students first appreciated the absurdity of reading about "Israel" in the Hebrew Scriptures and interpreting it of 'the Church." In this these pioneers were altogether right in their original findings, though they soon went astray through over' elaborating the point. Presently they discovered something of the converse proposition, that it is absurd to interpret the Evangel of the Uncircumcision as though it applied to Israel; but unfortunately they under' elaborated this finding. If they had developed both ideas together, our "dispensational" confusions would never have arisen.

Galatians 3 discusses the Law from one angle only, its, relation to Justification by faith apart from works of law, that is to say, from the angle of the Evangel of the Uncircumcision. It is an appendix to Romans 1,4 and does not even touch on Romans 7, let alone on any matter concerning the Circumcision.

Suppose we do venture outside our subject and apply Gal. 3:19 to Israel. Even assuming that this is a valid proceeding, what does it teach us? That "the Law was added on behalf of transgressions until the Seed should come to Whom He has promised." And has the Seed come to Israel? That is to say, has the Lord Jesus yet come to Israel as Seed? Surely not; and surely, too, He will not till they look on Him Whom they pierced.

If "the Law" in Galatians 3 is not the same law as the Apostle Paul was gratified with as to the inner man (Rom. 7:22) and that the Lord Jesus will inscribe on His people's hearts in the New Covenant (Heb. 8:10), what is it? Note that in the latter it is "My laws"; which will include law glorified by grace preached by the Lord Himself in the Gospels, as well as the pure formal ceremonial law given to Moses.

Let us keep within the bounds of the contexts of Scripture! Galatians 3 is intended and is sufficient to kill legalism for us, not for others in other circumstances; and we do nothing to blunt its efficacy by holding it in its proper place.

There is another difficulty to be faced; in Gal. 3:23, 24, a passage which has led some to suppose that this epistle is addressed to Israel. Yet it should cause no difficulty. Before we were called and justified by faith, we all were, as a matter of universal experience, under the thraldom of law, often a much harsher law than anything which Moses ever knew. As verse 24 suggests, that experience of the cruel bonds of legalism should help to lead us to Christ; for if it had no other use, at least it should have served, to convince us that we could not fully obey it of ourselves.

I beg my readers to allow me to leave the matter at that for the present. A really full and satisfactory discussion must await a thorough examination of the whole doctrine of Justification.

Some Errors About the Kingdom
Throughout these studies no attempt has been made to disguise the fact that the teaching put forth is beset with many difficulties; but the point has been made all along that these difficulties are due to the confusion set up by the teachings of the numerous expositors who have come to their studies with minds biased by preconceived theory. Having set forth what is believed to be the main teaching of Scripture about the matters under review, the remaining task is to examine and deal with the difficulties.

That this will mean a certain amount of destructive criticism of the teaching of others is, unfortunately, unavoidable. No kindly person really likes doing this sort of thing. Yet there is no alternative. For suppose that Mr. A. has published teaching which disagrees with what is put forward in these papers. Then, whether we like it or no, Mr. A. is in. practice criticising these papers, and these papers are in practice criticising Mr. A., even if the authors are unknown to one another. I have tried to follow the example of the Apostle Paul and from time to time asked questions which might be put up by an objector, but I have not the advantage the Apostle Paul had in breaking new ground. We all, now, have predecessors—many of them—and what they have written stands written. If we take no notice of them, we lay ourselves open to the charge that we cannot reply to them, which perhaps does not greatly matter if it only touches our pride; but it must not be forgotten that this is also being unfair to the readers of what is written. If we elect to give them the facts at all, we became morally responsible to see that we give them all the facts so far as possible. Moreover, if one looks at the matter in a common-sense way, one must allow that any individual who publishes the results of his studies steps into the public arena and must expect to have to stand up to the cut and thrust of debate. If he does not care for debate, he can always avoid it by keeping silent in the first place. What he has no right whatever to do is try to have it both ways. Those who differ have every right to do so equally publicly, provided they do not transgress the obligations of Christian love.

The theory of the postponement of the Kingdom during the Acts period is put forward in a rather a novel way in a paper in "Unsearchable Riches," Vol. 29, p. 179. The existence of a difficulty in the theory was recognized; the reason for it was not. Nor was it understood that to speak of "the Kingdom" without making clear which aspect of the Kingdom was in view was simply to invite confusion. So a so-called fact was presented, "that Christ and the kingdom must be rejected (Matt. 21:42; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 1. Pet. 2:4, 7) first, before He could be crucified or the present grace revealed." Unfortunately for the argument, only the first of these references uses the word "kingdom" in its immediate context; and what it actually does say is that the Kingdom of God would "be taken away from you" (i.e. Israel), not rejected. We are only too prone to read into Scripture ideas accepted by us so firmly as undoubted facts, as to make us quite unconscious of our mistake. What makes such snares as this all the more dangerous is their nearness to the truth. Christ had to be rejected; and those who rejected the King in so doing rejected the Kingdom; yet it is not the implied rejection of the Kingdom which is brought to our attention, and we should not talk as if it were. As we have already seen, the Kingdom of the heavens and the Kingdom of God were heralded when the King came, not the kingdom of the Son of Mankind, which we usually think of as the Millennial Kingdom. If it had been, we could rightly accuse the Gospels of deception, since that Kingdom is even now still future.

The blinding effect of prejudice is shown by the statement (p. 180) that "the disciples really expected the kingdom then, and that this hope was based on the heralding, and that it was justified, and the only correct attitude under the circumstances." And this is said, be it remembered, of the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, in the face of Matthew 13 and 24! We have not the excuse they had.

We are then asked, "Let us suppose that God had been perfectly frank, and had told them just how it would all turn out. The fatal difficulty with this would have been that then it would not have turned out as it did." But God had been perfectly frank; He had told them just how it would turn out. Not in every detail; admittedly, but in broad outline. To argue that ignorance was essential, does not touch the point. No doubt it was; but the ignorance of the disciples was due solely to their own lack of faith, not to lack of candour on the part of the Lord Jesus.

The next sentence, still with reference to the disciples, is really astonishing. It reads: "The Scriptures themselves say that, had they known that Christ was the Messiah, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." But I Cor. 2:8 does not mention the disciples! Even Judas did not go that length.

Some time before (Unsearchable Riches, Vol. 28, 1937, p. 341), the subject had been considered in a paper on "Figures of Speech," which cannot be passed over without comment, as it raises issues of first-class importance. It starts with the question, "How could Paul lock the kingdom when he did not have the keys?" The author adds that "this inquiry gives a good example of the false use of figures of speech." While we cannot affirm that this comment is an untruth, it can certainly be stigmatized as most misleading. This will be perceived at once when we ask, and attempt to answer, another question, "Where does Scripture speak of Paul locking the Kingdom?"

Reference to the concordance will disclose that nowhere is it stated or implied that Paul had the keys of the Kingdom, or closed or locked it. The question, then, is not so much an example of the false use of figures of speech as of a most false and dangerous way of mishandling Scripture. It hardly comes well from one who, immediately after posing it, speaks of "our insistence on exactitude, and on faith rather than reason."

Further on, another unwarranted assumption is made, that the keys are associated with the national aspect of the Kingdom. On the contrary, the purely national aspect of the Kingdom is deliberately excluded. Peter wanted to have it that way, but the vision of the sheet opened his eyes. Whether he used the keys for locking or unlocking the Kingdom will be discovered, not (as in the paper in question) from the use of the word "keys" elsewhere and in entirely different circumstances; but from a study of what Peter actually did in Acts. He unlocked the Kingdom to Israel and to the Gentiles. Not a syllable hints or states that he or anyone else ever relocked it. Why cannot we believe Scripture and leave it at that?

The writer of this paper even went so far as to declare of the Kingdom at the beginning of the Acts period that "the heralding must proceed, for its real purpose is not to bring in the kingdom, but rather to try Israel in order to show her utter unworthiness."

Let us face the facts? We might not so interpret this as to charge God with insincerity, or at least, dis ingenuousness; but there are plenty of people who would. Had we not better pause, and ask ourselves deliberately whether there is not some thing very seriously wrong with a theory which leads to such notions?

If Paul, or someone else, locked or double-locked the Kingdom towards the close of Acts; then this reasoning just quoted logically follows, and it is a fact that the real purpose of John the Baptist, of the Lord Jesus and of Peter and the Twelve was not their declared purpose to herald the Kingdom after all. Instead, it follows that the heralding was a kind of smoke screen to hide their real purpose.

The really frightening thing about all this is that many of us for some forty years past have accepted this shocking theory as the fruit of the most enlightened and advanced Scriputre study!

Remember, all the apostles are implicated, for, according to this theory, Paul wrote Col. 1:13 after he had double-locked the Kingdom!

The paper under criticism states its fundamental position in one sentence: "Acts is a record of the rejection of the kingdom." (ibid p. 355)

"Here is another statement which is not altogether untrue; yet it is really worse, for it is a half-truth which, by wrong emphasis, is a distortion and misrepresentation of the facts. In rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel did, in fact, reject the Kingdom. But it was the Lord Jesus they actually rejected. If they could have had the Kingdom (as they conceived it to be) without Him; or with Him in an altogether different frame of mind (and apparently they thought this was possible), there can be no doubt whatever that they would have done so. They wanted a king who could drive the Roman out and set up a purely material kingdom. They just did not under stand what the Kingdom really was; and, to our shame, most of us are in no better case.

The first of the two articles referred to, above, says that Peter made the proclamation of Acts 3:19-21 in all good faith. Then it actually quotes the passage, and adds, "For some this creates a grave difficulty. Now we know that the kingdom could not come at that time." It is really amazing that the writer of this was unable to perceive that the passage he had just quoted never once speaks of the Kingdom.

No. The Kingdom was not offered, and it was heralded, and God was not disingenuous in having it heralded. More-over, although the disciples expected the Millennial Kingdom, that was not God's fault, but theirs the Lord Jesus had told them frankly and fully that many things would happen before His Kingdom of the Son of Mankind could come, and their unbelief must not be twisted to imply unfaithfulness on God's part.

One of the things which must first happen is the return of the King Himself. The Apostle Paul could properly speak of the Kingdom of God as existing on earth and of our being translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love while the King is personally absent from this earth; but the Kingdom of the Son of Mankind cannot in His absence even begin to exist.

This consideration affords another illustration of how mistaken was the question asked in Acts 1:6. The restoration of the Kingdom to Israel implies the return of the King. In His reply, the Lord Jesus did not say one word about His coming again. Rather, He implied that a period of witness would have to intervene. He did not say whether that period would be long or short. The Twelve may have thought at the time that it would be short, but they certainly could not have continued in this belief after the events which preceded, and culminated in, the call and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

Universally, almost, it is assumed that the Apostle Paul believed at first that the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ might, and perhaps even would, occur very soon after his ministry began. No proof is offered. The Twelve had certainly no cause to think so, and there is nothing in Acts or Paul's epistles to suggest that he thought so either, or that he ever did, in fact, entertain the idea.

Appeal is made to 1. Thessalonians. Yet even if we were to concede that when this epistle was written, the presence of the Lord Jesus was expected soon; no such hope can be said to have existed at the time 2 Thessalonians was written. Its second chapter settles that finally. And if we consider the first epistle calmly, we are forced to admit that we can' not make the concession. The Thessalonians waited for God's Son out of the heavens, and so have all the best and truest of God's people ever since, and so do we now, if we are faithful to Him. Certainly 1. Thess. 4:15-17 could be read to suggest that some of the Thessalonians might survive to the presence of the Lord, but it does not assert that any of them would in fact do so. The Apostle Paul was not mistaken in writing as he did. Actually, he avoided the mistake made in Acts 1:6 because his faith and his knowledge were greater. It was not for him, any more than for the Twelve "to know times or eras Which the Father placed in His own jurisdiction"—and, unlike most of us, the Apostle Paul was content not to know. So, for all he knew to the contrary, some of the Thessalonians might have survived into the presence of the Lord. From the way events were shaping when he wrote these things, he had very good ground for deducing that none would; but, unlike most of us again, he refrained from injecting his reasonings and opinions into God's Word.

Enlightened students of Scripture have long since realized that the current teaching which insists that the first Christians believed the end of the world would occur at any moment and soon, is mere moonshine. Unfortunately, few of us have got rid of the kindred error that the first Christians believed that the Lord Jesus Christ would certainly return within the life, time of at least some of them. Undoubtedly they thought that He might do so, and we should also; but that is quite another matter.

This traditional error has a corollary which I believe to be very harmful, that it was not thought necessary at the very first to commit the Gospels to writing. It is, therefore, assumed that at least a generation elapsed after Pentecost before any of the Gospels were written, and that 1. Thessalonians was the first written document of the Greek Scriptures. We cannot definitely affirm that this is untrue, but it hardly harmonizes with the prefaces to Luke and Acts. I believe we ought to reconsider this question.

The statement that Israel in Acts rejected the Kingdom is one of those half-truths which are so much more dangerous than actual falsehoods because the partial truth which veneers them is so deceptive. The plain fact is that Israel rejected their Lord, they rejected Jesus—Jehovah Saviour, they rejected their Messiah Christ. In so doing they carried out some relatively minor rejections as well. They rejected the Evangel of the Circumcision, they rejected the Kingdom, they rejected Peter and the Twelve. Twist this round, and insist that it was Peter they rejected or the Kingdom they rejected; and you produce error at once, that most deadly form of error which consists of misplaced truth.

There is another aspect of this which should not be overlooked, though it is outside our theme-the suggestion that if God had told how it would all turn out, then it would not have turned out as it did. If that were true, then it would be a fatal blunder on God's part to disclose anything prophetically at all, because in so doing He would enable His creatures to frustrate His plans. Many novels have been written on this theme. John Buchan's "The Gap in the Curtain," for instance, describes how a number of people were given a glimpse each of one item of news a year hence which specially affected them. Armed with this foreknowledge, each proceeded to act on it; but they found that their apparent power to control events was a complete illusion. If a mere human being can work out plans to insure that such foreknowledge does not confer special control over the future, it is absurd to suppose that God relinquishes any of His control by permitting to us prophetic revelations.

Nobody would be worried about this problem who was not to some extent tainted with the error of fatalism.

The only course which is of faith in this matter is to accept the fact trustingly that the events recorded in Acts were all "by the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God." After all, if this is true of what was done by wicked men to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is; it must certainly be true also of the consequences of their tremendous and terrible deed. Either God is in control of events or He is a helpless onlooker and no real god at all. To suggest that He had to descend to what is little better than subterfuge and not far removed from deceit to gain His ends is not only to dethrone Him in our thoughts but to degrade Him in our hearts as well.

A curious feature of the foregoing comments is that throughout I have been quoting and refuting statements in "Unsearchable Riches," which, to its great credit, has been continuously opposing the excesses of the extreme followers of Dr. Bullinger from the start. Yet it is itself tainted with the same errors!

The reason is, I believe, that its editor has perceived the error of making Acts 28:28 the administrational boundary line for the disclosure of the Secret of Ephesians 3, but he has failed to get Kingdom truth into proper perspective. He is, in this respect, just where Dr. Bullinger was when he was swung off his balance by the then novel ideas promulgated by J. J. B. Coles in 1907.

The original draft of this book was designed to combat the Coles-Bullinger-Welch ideas, and most of what was first written will be found in the chapters which follow. I myself occupied much the same position as "Unsearchable Riches" does, now; but as I went more and more thoroughly into the problems involved, I became less and less satisfied with the current doctrines about the Kingdom. Comparatively recently, I realized that we would have to come to terms with this matter; so I made a fresh start, with the results already shown. The title of the first chapter, and of the book, for the first chapter is in a 'sense a summary of the whole, was deliberately chosen as a reply to ]. J. B. Cole's opening broadside, "The Acts of the Apostles considered historically and dispensationally." ("Things to Come," Vol. 13, 1907)

That 40 years should have elapsed before a formal and final reply to this manifesto could be promulgated is surely no coincidence. I do not pretend to have cleared up every problem. That honour is doubtless reserved for others; but at last a full-scale refutation has been attempted. Most of the essential features of this new doctrine, except those already dealt with, will be taken up point by point in the chapters which follow. Meanwhile, I would like to pay my tribute to the witness against the Coles-Bullinger-Welch error in "Unsearchable Riches" over many years past. We cannot be too grateful for it.

Before closing what might be called the "Kingdom" section of these studies (though other matters have necessarily had to be settled as well) a few final words about the Kingdom should be added.

This book is not, and was never intended to be, an exposition of the doctrine of the Kingdom. This subject is studied in some detail in these earlier chapters because it was found after mature consideration that it could not be avoided. On the other hand ,a thorough study of the Kingdom would go far outside the available space; consequently many interesting and important aspects of the Kingdom have had perforce to be overlooked.

To prevent misapprehension, a few further points are briefly noted. There is nothing in the word "basileia" standing expressly for the ending "-dom", so rigid adherence to the word "kingdom" is in some degree itself an interpretation and therefore a possible source of bias. The word "jurisdiction" has never been used in Chapter 2. Some translators render it by "reign." Green, in Matt 16:28, Luke 23:42, Rev. 1:9, suggests "kingship." The first would then read "the Son of Mankind coming in His kingship" or "in array of His kingly power," which is certainly a different idea from, that usually accepted. A concordant version rightly would adhere as far as possible to one word, but a free version made there-from for ordinary reading might well admit such variants as these at suitable places. The usual difficulty of Matt. 16:28 is avoided by the rendering "kingship," and the appropriateness of its fulfilment in the Transfiguration becomes evident.

In saying this, I am well aware that I am running the risk of being accused of attacking the principle of the C. V. Such a charge can be honestly made only by those who do not realize the facts. The whole "concordant" idea depends on an assumption that for every Greek word there exists a sufficiently exact English equivalent. This is true for many words but not all, as the C. V. concordance itself testifies. For many Greek words it is forced to use two or three English words; none of which therefore can be truly equivalent. Several examples exist where one English word does duty for two different Greek words. "Basileia" happens to be a word which the A: V. renders concordantly. The result is that we have firmly attached to it an English word which is not always the best rendering of it. A concordant version ought to be concordant to the limit, but there is a good case for having in addition a comparatively free version in more understandable, idiomatic and readable English. Once we grasp that mechanical concordance where there is no exact equivalence is just as much interpretation as a freer rendering, the real need for a double version will be appreciated.

The moral is that there is no smooth and easy road to full knowledge of the truth. Provided we are content to be simple, we can read Scripture with simplicity, and profit there from. But if we start searching into its heights and depths, we must read it intelligently and with our minds stretched to the fullest alertness. Even so apparently simple a word as "kingdom" cannot be taken for granted as we and our predecessors too often have done. We have thought ourselves to be rightly, dividing the Word of Truth when we have not divided King' dom truth at all, but simply relegated it quietly to Israel as an encumbrance conveniently out of our way. "Fully and unreservedly the Apostles preached, declaring, upon the authority of God and the whole of the Old Testament, that all that was needed to usher in the Kingdom was the Repentance of Israel." (The Berean Expositor, May, 1948, p. 163). When people can write such untenable statements as this with apparent candour, it has become only too evident that the time has fully come for honest and prayerful reconsideration of the whole subject.

I am convinced that if we re-examine what the Greek Scriptures have to say about the Kingdom in the light of the previous chapters and of these closing remarks; we will come to the conclusion that we have all, unwittingly, been hide bound by tradition. In their reaction against the traditional errors of the churches, our predecessors swung too far in the opposite direction; and we have inherited their new tradition without question. This blind reaction is very human, but none the less unfortunate in its consequences. Let us make a fresh start and recover the balance of doctrine. Only so can we be armed at all points against the attacks of the enemies who beset us.

If Israel Had Repented
Up to 1907 Dr. Bullinger had stood firmly for the truth that the Apostle Paul's epistles are a unity and belong exclusively to the church which is the body of Christ. In his magazine "Things To Come" (Vol. 13, 1907) he published Mr. A. E. Knoch's very important papers "On Baptism," to which we have already referred. New light was about to dawn through the publication of these papers; but, strangely enough, not on "Things To Come". In the next issue appeared the paper by J. J. B. Coles, mentioned in our previous chapter, "The Acts of the Apostles considered historically and dispensationally," which somehow swayed Dr. Bullinger in quite a different direction. The result of this and succeeding papers was to divert "Things To Come" to the support of a new doctrine, that only those epistles written after the proclamation of Acts 28:25-28 (the Prison epistles) belong to us in the present economy. This new doctrine made that proclamation the great administrational boundary line. For a time it seems to have carried most of us off our feet, including myself when I first came across it in 1913; but I am thankful that I was soon enabled to detect the fallacy, though it took me till 1947 to get quite clear of it.

The time has come for us all to get rid of this mistaken idea and all it involves; for it has done more to divide us than any other single cause, and, worse, it has effectually separated us from our brethren who have clung to "Kingdom truth" and gone in their turn to extremes in that direction. They have had some perception of truths about the Kingdom which we have missed; and have jumped to the conclusion that because, in this respect, they were right and we were wrong, they must have been wholly right and we wholly wrong. So they closed their ears to the truths we could have presented to them.

I therefore believe that it will be profitable to consider J. J. B. Coles's argument, and find out just where and how he went astray.

The paper is good and sound at first, up to the point where he considers Acts. Then he says about it: "It is not only the coming of the Holy Spirit to Israel with the 'signs following', as in Joel, but we have the solemn record of the rejection of the Spirit and of the offer made with accompanying miraculous signs of the Return, or Parousia, to introduce the Kingdom of the Risen Christ. . ."

With our previous chapters before us, we should have no difficulty in picking out the errors in this statement, types of error which recur throughout the writings of the exponents of this doctrine.

First, understatement. "the coming of the Holy Spirit to Israel". This completely ignores that Gentiles received the Spirit too.

Second, inaccuracy. "Parousia" does not mean "return" but "presence". Moreover, no "offer" of the presence or return of Christ was made.

Third, unscriptural words. There was no offer (or promise for that matter) in Acts to introduce the Kingdom. Peter actually introduced it by using the keys entrusted to him. Also "the Kingdom of the Risen Christ" is not a scriptural expression. Next, we come to two misstatements with reference to Isaiah 6. "The Lord Himself had twice referred to this awful sentence of judicial blindness, but it was left to the Apostle Paul to follow in the steps of Isaiah and to say, 'Here am I, send me.' (to deliver this solemn message) . . ." "The prisoner of the Lord for you Gentiles,' after he had pronounced the sentence of blindness of Isaiah 6, was sustained in his prison at Rome."

Note the twists in these two quotations! The Lord "referred to this awful sentence," though in actual fact He pronounced it! Paul "pronounced it" though, in fact, he only referred to it! (Later, on p. 39, Acts 28:28 is quoted by Dr. Bullinger as "the salvation of God is sent. . .") Finally, Paul did not pronounce or refer to this sentence as "the prisoner of the Lord for you Gentiles". That is entirely foreign to Acts, wherein he says, "For on account of the expectation of Israel this chain is lying about me." (Acts 28:20).

One more quotation: "The earlier Epistles, especially 1 and 2 . Thessalcnians and 1 Corinthians, were written before the close of the historical period covered by the Acts, when the Parousia, or return and Kingdom of Christ, was still being offered to Israel and the nations."

I find it very difficult to speak temperately of statements such as this, for they are utterly lacking in intellectual honesty. Fancy speaking of the Parousia (which simply means "presence," no more nor less) as the "return and Kingdom of Christ"! And when was it offered to the nations, or even to Israel? Also, note the little twist given by the word "especially". Why try to convey the idea that Romans, 2 Corinthians and Galatians were in some mysterious way less "especially" written "before the close of the historical period covered by the Acts"? Is that sort of thing honest or decent?

The reader may be moved to ask, "Why bother us with these dead echoes of over 40 years ago?" Would that they were dead and forgotten! Unfortunately the ills they brought live on; and the false and evil methods of argument are still employed. We would do well to ponder these extracts. Mr. Coles's paper gave the initial impulse to a movement which has profoundly influenced the deeper students of Scripture in America and Europe. It deceived Dr. Bullinger and, what is worse, induced him to write other things equally deceptive and equally full of harm.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Coles thought he had made a wonderful new discovery and a fundamental advance in our understanding of the Greek Scriptures. Such supposed discoveries should be received with the utmost caution. They rise as an aeroplane does, in one leap of thought, so to speak. True progress in understanding, whether in Scripture or in Science rises as an Egyptian pyramid or a cathedral; on foundations, with each course firmly based on what has already been achieved. When such new discoveries are announced they may impress us as startling, even astonishing, at first sight; but those who have to do with their inception and working-out know full well the hard labour and even harder thought which has gone into the whole scheme of thought. If Mr. Coles and Dr. Bullinger had not been blinded by this supposed new light and had done as the Bereans did, searching and testing every sentence they wrote; they would have perceived that they were abandoning the solid foundations of God's Word for daring, but unscriptural guesses. That is really the . basis of all heresy. Sudden intuitions or illuminations of the mind have their very important place in all research; but if they are to be sound, they must come from long and patient accumulation of facts and meditation upon them. The brilliant guess is no more than a guess. The quotations above have, therefore, a further value as a warning to us, as a typical sample of the way of heresy. For that reason alone they are worthy of study, in order that we may learn by example how we may go astray, and thereby learn how to avoid starting new heresies of our own.

Now we have discussed the important paper which first started many of us on the wrong track, it will be as well to recapitulate same of our findings and amplify them where necessary.

The opening verses of Acts record the ascension of the Lord Jesus into 'heaven and the promise of His return in the same manner. This promise is NOT withdrawn, neither at the end of Acts nor anywhere else. Anyone who presumes to teach that it was should be asked to produce clear Scripture authority for his teaching, and must not be permitted to substitute deductions for definite facts.

Nor is the promise of Acts 3:19-21 withdrawn. On the contrary, it still holds good, and one day it will be literally fulfilled.

Acts records the witness of the Twelve and of the Apostle Paul. At the beginning of Acts nothing is said about whether Israel as a whole would receive that witness; at the end, it was declared openly that they had not received it and that they would not do so. How long this refusal by Israel would continue was not disclosed there; since, indeed, such disclosure would have answered the question in Acts 1:6. To the Apostle Paul was it given to reveal this secret in Rom 11:25',26 so far as was necessary for us to know. None of God's promises were altered by Israel's conduct in any way whatever. What had happened was that Israel had refused them in refusing the Lord Jesus Christ, and brought upon themselves the punishment of callousing; so that they would be unable to accept them, nationally, for an indefinite period to come.

At the beginning of Acts nothing is said about whether Israel as a whole would receive the witness which is the main theme or the book. This, however, does not mean that the issue was really in any way in doubt. That the issue was in doubt to the Jews themselves was simply the consequence of their own unbelief. It is distressing to realize how carelessly we all read the Scriptures! Teachers of repute still declare that in Acts 28 :28 the Apostle Paul was pronouncing judicial sentence on the Jews. This is quite untrue. He was simply teaching the Jews of Rome that the matter had already been settled. "The saving-work of God WAS dispatched to the Gentiles. . . ". This does not mean that a formal pronouncement had been made, in session so to speak, at one point of time. On the contrary, after the first pronouncement by the Lord Jesus, no formal sentence was ever again proclaimed. What Israel did, they did of themselves. What resulted was the inevitable consequence of what was done. In their utterly unspiritual condition, the coming of the earthly Kingdom foretold by the prophets was out of the question.

But does this not mean that God's promises were postponed because of Israel's conduct? This question is not in accord with a pattern of sound words, and therefore ought not to be asked. It carries with it an implication which is the seed of the whole error concerning this matter—that Israel could have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and thereby brought about the almost immediate restoration of the Kingdom. Those who ask such questions lose sight of two facts, that the history of Israel's rejection of their Messiah was prophesied before, and that the acceptance of Christ as Messiah or as Saviour does not depend on the will of the individual but on the calling of God.

That so great a leader as Dr. Bullinger embraced and expounded this system of teaching not long before the close of his ministry is a misfortune; for the authority of so great a name has prevented many lesser students from being true Bereans as regards this matter, and those who have dissented have risked the charge of conceit and self-will.

The true statement of the position at the beginning of Acts is: —"If Israel had repented, the Lord would have speedily re' turned and the promised blessings for Israel would have come."

The false statement is: "Israel could have and might have repented and brought about the speedy return of the Lord, and therefore everything connected therewith". In other words, bluntly put, Israel had the power completely to thwart God's secret purpose by choosing to repent! Such an idea cannot be reconciled with God's sovereignty.

In all argument we ought to be particularly careful how we use contingent statements, that is, statements dependent on the word "if" or its equivalent. To deduce from a statement: "If so and so happened, then. . . " that: "So and so might happen. . ." is wholly illegitimate.

God knew that if Israel were to repent, certain consequences would follow. Indeed, He had given His word that one day Israel will repent and that these glorious consequences will follow their repentance. That fact is unassailable, but it does not alter another unassailable fact, that God alone knows when that repentance will take place; and a further fact that He knew with absolute certainty that Israel would not repent during the period covered by Acts.

God knew that Israel's repentance would not take place, and that the consequences of Israel's repentance would therefore not take place, for at least 19 centuries after Pentecost. What is more, the Lord Jesus Christ made it absolutely clear to inquirers that many judgment lay ahead; the destruction of the Temple (Luke 21:6) and the desolation (v. 20) and treading of Jerusalem by the Gentiles till the fulfilment of the eras of the Gentiles. (v. 24). To suggest that the terrible judgments on Israel outlined in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 would have taken place if Israel had repented and the Lord Jesus had speedily returned, 'is simply to make nonsense of the Lord's most solemn words. One critic of my Chapter 1 has actually stated that Luke. 21 would have been fulfilled; but I am quite certain that he has no understanding at all of what his words imply.

None of these things falsify a single word of the exhortations in the Gospels and Acts. Even when we read these accounts with our present knowledge of what was, to those then living, the hidden future; it is impossible to detect the smallest hint of dis ingenuousness in them.

In fairness, it must be added that Dr. Bullinger appreciated that there is an element of uncertainty of time in such passages as Matt 10:23; 16:28; 23:39 and 24:34. There was nothing then to delay the coming glory but one thing, the fact that Israel had not repented. And today there is nothing else. In that respect, the position has not altered at all. Dr. Bullinger erred in injecting the idea that Israel might have repented during the period covered by Acts. Repeatedly in the Scriptures written at that time there is a note of urgency. James 5:9 and 1 John 2:18 are outstanding examples; and, as we must necessarily view the matter, after a gap of 1900 years, some feeling of unreality is unavoidable. Yet it is no solution to declare that the promise made in Acts 3 WaS postponed and, as might have been added, the urgency postponed also. Even if such a postponement had taken place, the fact would remain that events which, supposedly, were at hand in the Acts period were, in actual fact, nothing of the kind.

The truth is that the promise made in Acts 3 still stands; but the conditions necessary for its fulfilment to take place no longer exist-not on account of any supposed postponement, but simply in consequence of Israel's own failure to repent. Surely the distinction is plain enough between a withdrawal of the promise on God's part (which is what Dr. Bullinger alleges) and a rejection of the promise on Israel's part, resulting in conditions which make its fulfilment out of the question for a period of indefinite duration, which is what Scripture teaches?

Israel were told to repent, and told that certain promises would follow upon repentance. If we put ourselves in imagination in their place at that time; whether we repented or no, we would necessarily be conscious that we were at a moment of crisis, that much might depend on our decision, and would depend on it if the Apostle Peter proved to be correct in what he was preaching. At the time, the situation was urgent. Perhaps it will be easier to visualize if we go back in memory to a recent crisis, one of the great crises of history, the fall of France. Then, incalculable possibilities and tremendous events were impending. Anything might have happened. The whole history of the world was balanced on a razor edge. But what was urgent then is no longer urgent now. The crisis has passed. Other events, other possibilities, other problems, other crises, may confront us; but THAT crisis is now history, THAT urgency has now gone. We know now what was to happen, but what we know now cannot alter the situation as it was then.

Pentecost was a moment of crisis. The fact that in the light of our present knowledge we know that the issue was predetermined did not make it any the less real or any the less urgent for the actors in the supreme drama which then took place. Dr. Bullinger says (The Foundations of Dispensational Truth, p. 83):—Israel did not repent; the nation did not fulfill the required condition; and now the great promises made in Acts 3 are postponed, and all the blessings there promised are in abeyance." But they always have been in abeyance, and always will be until the day of fulfilment dawns.

The Scripture statements about the coming day of wrath, the premonition of the creation, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of Israel, are just as true and just as immediately true now as on the day they were written. If anyone doubts this, it suffices to ask two questions: At the time of Pentecost, what prophetic events were bound to occur before the blessings consequent upon Israel's repentance could begin to appear? Up to the present moment, which of these events have actually taken place? For our present purpose, the first serves merely as a peg whereon to hang the second. Whatever the answer to the first may be, the answer to the second is: None at all. From the destruction of the Temple in A. D. 70 until now, not a single event of prophecy has taken place.

The fact is, since about A. D. 62 the clock of prophetic time has stopped; relatively to Israel, at any rate. It may well be that some of Daniel's prophecies regarding the Gentile powers are about to be fulfilled or even in course of fulfilment. Their fulfilment is a necessary prelude to the complete fulfilment of the prophecies concerning Israel; but a partial fulfilment of the former would not necessarily involve the beginning of the fulfilment of the latter. Whatever else may be happening, Israel stands now where she stood at A. D. 70, and will so continue until we are removed from the scene.

So far as the Apostle Paul's Gentile converts were concerned, the clock of prophetic time had virtually stopped some years before A. D. 62. As his epistles unfolded new and wondrous truths before their eyes, Israel's affairs and Israel's hopes became of less and less immediate moment to them; these things were ceasing to be "practical politics"; and when the Epistle to the Romans was published, the fact had become evident to those who read it that Jew and Greek had already come to be on an equality as sinners; and that Israel, in part, had become calloused until the full complement of the Gentiles might be entering. Their fate was settled.

Furthermore, the mistaken teaching under consideration over-looks one essential point. It assumes that Acts is chiefly concerned with the Kingdom witness of the apostles; a notion which we have already found to be entirely erroneous.

What, then, is the relation between Acts 28:28 and the matters which are connected with the Evangel of the Uncircumcision? The answer is that, directly, there is none. Acts is concerned with Israel, with their rejection of their Messiah and of the saving-work of God; NOT with the church which is Christ's body. The last verse of Acts records four facts, and ends with the statement that the Apostle Paul did these things "with all boldness, unforbidden". But in Ephesians he speaks of himself as the prisoner (3:1; 4:1). He even goes on to say he is "conducting an embassy in a chain" for the Secret of the Evangel. On the face of it, then, Ephesians belongs either to the period before the day recorded in Acts 28:23,28 and the two whole years of Acts 28:30, or to an imprisonment which took place after those two years were over. There can be no doubt what' ever that the latter is the truth, not only on the evidence of the dating of the epistles, but also from the fact of Acts 28 :28 it, self. This, we must repeat, directly concerns Israel alone. Nevertheless, we cannot take it out of its historical setting and we cannot divorce it from the Secret of Israel's callousing disclosed in Rom. 11. On the other hand, we have got to remember that history in Scripture is concerned with Israel, and with Gentiles only as their affairs affect Israel. The Secret is outside time and has nothing to do directly with the crisis in time indicated in Acts 28:28.

To some this may appear akin to hair-splitting, but this is not so. The operative word is "directly". Acts deals primarily with Israel and Israel's affairs and with Gentile affairs only as they are associated with Israel's. What follows Acts 28:28 studiously avoids further reference to Gentiles. Verse 29 tells us what happened to the Jews and vv. 30,31 what happened to Paul. If we want to know what was happening elsewhere, we have to turn to Romans. Significantly, Romans comes next after Acts in the canonical order. We have no right whatever to read the epistles of Paul into Acts in the face of Luke's careful avoidance of any reference to them.

To the Roman Jews the Apostle Paul made what might be called a final authoritative official notification that the saving-work of God, previously theirs, was dispatched to the Gentiles. We are not informed here when it was dispatched. All we learn is that its dispatch was already a past event at the defined moment when the pronouncement was made to the metropolitan Jews.

Those who declare that this event marks the beginning of the church which is the subject of the Prison Epistles are going far beyond what is written. Nowhere does Acts state this and we have no right whatever to make such a deduction from Paul's pronouncement.

We are not told anywhere when The Secret was first promulgated. We are not even told when the Conciliation first became effective. Even the Secret of Israel's callousing or hardening, in Rom. 11:25, does not say that Israel, in part, "is becoming hardened," or "will become hardened," but "HAS become hardened." At the time Paul wrote this, the hardening had already come about—when, we are not told.

Why cannot we be content to be ignorant where God has deliberately refrained from disclosing the information we seek? We are given elaborate historical details of the ministries of the Lord Jesus, Peter and Paul to Israel. We are given no direct historical data, nothing beyond what can be deduced from scattered hints here and there, about the ministry of the Apostle Paul to the Uncircumcision. We can deduce the approximate order in which his epistles were written, and that is all.

It should be added that it is hardly legitimate to speak of the closing verses of Acts 28 as a crisis at all, except to the Jews of Rome. To them Paul's announcement evidently came as a tremendous shock, but the real nature of this shock was that it brought home to them the fact that the crisis had already taken place. We see in these closing verses, not the crisis itself, but its devastating effect on the Jews of the world-metropolis. Apart from this, the significance of the last chapter lies in the fact that it is the last. As regards what really matters to them nationally, the Jews remain still as they were at that closing moment of time. They have come away, having much discussion among themselves.

Much has been made by some extreme dispensationalists of the fact that the Thessalonian epistles were written by the Apostle Paul long before the close of the so-called "dispensation" covered by Acts. Some have thought that Galatians was written first, but this does not affect the point that Paul's mission to the Thessalonians. is recorded very clearly in his ministry, and that Galatians is closely linked in subject to the later Romans epistle whereas 1 Thessalonians is most closely linked to another very clear epistle, 1 Corinthians. The main doctrinal theme of 1 Thessalonians is the resurrection of the saints at the presence of the Lord, which is evidently closely associated with the Secret of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 53.

Another secret is disclosed in the earlier epistles of Paul—the Secret of Israel's hardening, in Romans. This latter, although its statement is very brief indeed, is extraordinarily far-reaching in its implications. It is the basis of all that is distinctive in the Evangel of the Uncircumcision and, taken with this evangel, it is the basis of the Conciliation and of Reigning Grace. Perhaps this explains why the Secret of the Evangel is not explicitly stated to be the Conciliation. Evidently the Conciliation was a secret. The secret spoken of in Rom. 16:25 can hardly be any other than the Conciliation; and it is difficult not to identify the Secret of the Evangel with it. May it not be. that the Secret of the Evangel really covers all three secrets? All three are bound up with the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, and complete and perfect it, making it fit and ready for the crowning revelation of The Secret of Ephesians 3. I do not offer this suggestion as a dogma; nor do I propose to follow the bad example of some expositors, pose a question like this, and tacitly assume, a few pages further on, that the answer is "Yes".

The Apostle Paul does not employ the word "secret" quite so explicitly and rigidly as we are apt to do; That tendency of ours is a part of our very natural inclination to fit our ideas into neatly classified pigeon' holes; but it must not be overdone, other-wise we are certain to wrongly divide Scripture. Yet we must not go to the opposite extreme, either, and confuse the secrets. The solution of all problems is to believe Scripture as it stands and base our thinking on it as it is. After all, the whole of it is a "secret" in the sense that it is information which we never could have deduced or discovered for ourselves. What is defined as a "Secret" is a special revelation for specially favoured persons. That is the peculiar property of every divine Secret in the Greek Scriptures.

We do not find The Secret of Eph. 3 revealed in Paul's earlier epistles, for the sufficient reason that he did not reveal it (publicly, at any rate) until after they were written. If he had done so, it would no longer have been a secret when he wrote Ephesians. Its revelation had to wait till Ephesians was written, because Ephesians is its proper setting. This fact does not discard the earlier epistles for us as a mere scaffolding; on the contrary, they are the substructure upon which Ephesians is firmly based. It is almost absurd to have to write thus; but apparently some people still imagine that The Secret can exist by itself, suspended in mid-air as it were; and others that it is nothing more than a statement that "the Gospel" would be preached to Gentiles as well as Jews!

On the other hand, the fact that The Secret had to be concealed until the appointed time came for it to be divulged, has nothing whatever to do with other secrets. It is most misleading to write, as some have done, about The Secret as if it included, or carried with it, the other secrets revealed to Paul. It covered a strictly limited and defined area of thought. The two first clauses of it are drastic limitations of its scope—in spirit, the Gentiles. We cannot define without limiting, for that is what definition is. If it included everything, and some expositors talk as if that were nearly the truth of the matter, it would be so vague that it would in practice include nothing. Those who diffuse it to include the other secrets, and even other matters as well, are simply robbing it of all real meaning. Moreover, to declare that Paul disclosed certain secrets before he wrote Ephesians, is not to declare that he disclosed The Secret with them. A good deal of the confusion surrounding this subject is due to the fact that it is approached with ready-made theories in mind. If only students would realize that such an approach is the surest road to error, they would discard their theories and come to the study of the Sacred Scriptures with open minds.

If, for instance, a preconceived theory demands that Paul's earlier epistles contain nothing other than those things spoken by Moses and the prophets, we are forced either to ignore or to explain away everything which seems to be new in them. So when, in the course of our studies, we come up against facts which do not yield easily to our efforts, we are forced to do violence to the Scriptures or to our preconceived theory. Obviously, therefore, the wisest course is to avoid such theories; or, at the most, to regard them as working hypotheses, to be cast aside the moment they run counter to ascertained facts.

That such a caution as the foregoing should ever be necessary is rather deplorable; yet few who have studied the subjects under discussion in these chapters will deem it unjustified.

Of the Scripture secrets, or "mysteries" as the A. V. renders them, four are not mentioned at all by the Apostle Paul. These are, the secrets of the Kingdom (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10), the Secret of the Seven Stars (Rev. 1:20), the Secret of God *{But there is strong evidence in favour of "the secret of God—Christ!"} in Col. 2:2. (Rev. 10:7) and the Secret of Babylon (Rev. 17:5, 7).

In three of Paul's earlier epistles are references to secrets. Of these references, three are to secrets in general (1 Cor. 4:1; 13:2; 14:2), three to secrets which are not specifically explained (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess 2:7), and two which are clearly defined and specifically explained. These are:

If anyone considers that Moses and the prophets spoke of or referred to these secrets, he is, of course, entitled to his opinion. Paul did not think so. He considered that he was disclosing something newly revealed; and we may be excused if we prefer to believe Paul rather than others. It is for those who disagree with Paul to show precisely where Moses and the prophets did disclose these secrets, which, on this view, were not secrets at all. It is hardly necessary to add that neither of these two secrets is the same as The Secret of Ephesians 3; though some earlier writers appear to have imagined the secret of Rom. 16:25 to be, and met with formidable difficulties in consequence.

To whom do these three secrets belong? We have only to look at the opening. words of the two epistles which contain them. Rom. 1:7 is "to all who are in Rome, God's loveable ones, callable saints". 1 Cor. 1:2 is wider still in scope. If we can properly take the Prison Epistles to ourselves, we can certainly take these two epistles also.

The erroneous teaching referred to above makes the expectation disclosed by Paul to the Thessalonians in 1 Thess 4:15-18 "by a word of the Lord" identical with the expectation of Israel, and therefore millennial. If this be so, it is a little hard to see why Paul did not say so plainly, and quote in support Scriptures already revealed; instead of pronouncing what, on the face of it, reads like a new revelation from God. Needless to say, it is! True, Paul does not say his words disclosed a secret, but nothing can alter the fact that this passage is plainly linked to 1 Cor. 15:51-55, and far less directly, if at all, to Daniel and the other Hebrew prophets. This is easily seen
when the two passages are placed in juxtaposition:
    1 Cor.15:51-55                                       1 Thess 4:15-17
Lo! I am telling you a secret                  For this we are saying to you
                                                            by a word of the Lord.
We all, indeed, shall not repose            WE, the living who are surviving unto the
                                                            presence of the Lord shall by no means
                                                           outstrip those who are reposing.   
Yet we shall all be changed in               The dead in Christ shall be rising
an instant in the twinkling of                   first: thereupon WE, the living
an eye                                                  who are surviving, shall at the
                                                            same time be snatched away. . .
at the last trump. For He will                 The Lord Himself will be descending
be trumpeting                                        from Heaven with a  shout of
                                                            command, with the voice of the Chief             
                                                            Messenger and with the trump of God.
and the dead will be roused                  The dead in Christ shall be rising.
and we shall be changed                       we . . . shall be snatched away together            
                                                           with them in clouds.
For this corruptible must put                 for meeting the Lord in the air.
on incorruption, and this                       And thus shall we always be
mortal put on immortality.                     together with the Lord.

What is essentially new in 1 Cor. 15:51-55, as compared with 1 Thess 4:15-17 is the fact that incorruptibility will be put on, and immortality with it. Yet we must not reason that this fact is what constitutes the Secret of the Resurrection. The whole passage is the secret, not a part.

That this wondrous Secret of the Resurrection is indeed a secret will at once be seen if the above-mentioned essentially new fact is studied with a concordance. There are three specially important pairs which, taken in turn, occur as follows:
The first pair are:
Corruptible (phtharton) Rom. 1:23; 1 Cor. 9:25; 15:53, 54; 1 Pet 1:18, 23.
Incorruptible (aphtharton) Rom. 1:23; 1 Cor. 9:25; 15:52; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Pet 1:4, 23; 3:4.

From these we find that God is incorruptible, though men change His glory into corruptible images. The Christian is racing for an incorruptible wreath, not as those racing in the stadium. The expectation of the Dispersion of Israel is incorruptible, as they have been regenerated of incorruptible seed; they were ransomed, not with corruptible silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Their wives should wear the incorruptibility of a meek and quiet spirit.
The second pair are:
Corruption (phthora) Rom. 8:21; 1 Cor. 15:42, 50; Gal. 6:8; Col. 2:22; 2 Pet 1:4; 2:12, 19.
Incorruption (aptharsia) Rom. 2:7. 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, 53, 54; Eph. 6:24; 2 Tim. 1:10; Tit 2:7.

Freedom from corruption is a glorious goal for creation, and some are seeking it by endurance in good acts. These will be rewarded by eonian life. He who is sowing for his own flesh shall be reaping corruption from the flesh. Decrees, in accord with the directions and teachings of men, are all for corruption by use. Our Saviour, Christ Jesus, abolishes death yet illuminates life and incorruption through Paul's Evangel. The Ephesians Epistle closes with the words "Grace be with all who are loving our Lord Jesus in incorruption. Amen!"; and among the closing words of his ministry the Apostle Paul holds up an ideal in teaching of uncorruptness, gravity, sound uncensurable speech. The Apostle Peter exhorts the Dispersion of Israel to flee from the corruption which is in the world by lust.

Outside of 1 Cor. 15, none of the occurrences of the two pairs of words we have been considering deal with the vital question of how creation is to be freed from the slavery of corruption: This great revelation is the essential theme of the Secret of the Resurrection, and of nothing else.

When we come to the third pair, we approach the same vitally important fact from another angle.
The words are:
Mortal (thnEton)
(A1) Rom. 6:12.
   (B1) Rom. 8:11.
      (C) 1 Cor. 15:53, 54.
(A2) 2 Cor. 4:11.
   (B2) 2 Cor. 5:4.

Immortality (athanasia) 1 Cor. 15:53, 54; 1 Tim. 6:16.

The five passages in which "mortal" occurs form the Structure indicated by the letters in brackets. The "A" and "B" pairs lead up to, and find their complete fulfilment in, the "C" passage.

The last reference in this third pair of words is a definite declaration that God alone has immortality. Most of those who profess and call themselves Christians have for all practical purposes cut this statement out of their Bibles together with the only other occurrence of the word. Immortality is to be an exceeding great gift from God. He alone has it; but in His most marvelous love and grace, He has promised that we shall put it on in resurrection.

These two passages are a touchstone of our hearts' attitude to God. No matter how earnest an individual Christian may be, no matter what work he may think he is doing for God, the real worth of his life and his acts is tested and exposed by his attitude towards these two Scriptures. If he deny or ignore them; he testifies that self, not God, comes first in his heart.

The three pairs of words have been given somewhat lengthy consideration in order to prove to the hilt that the Secret of the Resurrection really was a secret at the time 1 Corinthians was written, and that it forms an integral part of the whole of the Apostle Paul's doctrinal system. Some would like us to believe that these earlier epistles are relatively insignificant by comparison with the prison Epistles. Others would not go so far, and they say they set great store by Romans; but such caution is of no avail. The Apostle Paul's epistles are a unity. We cannot dismiss any of them as unimportant; and certainly not those written to the Corinthians, immature and carnal as many of these saints were.

Some who insist that the presence (parousia) of the Lord in 1 Thess 4 is for Israel and nothing whatever to do with the Church which is Christ's body, instance the mention of the Archangel as conclusive proof of their contention. This word, "parousia", will be discussed later on; here it is proposed only to point out the inconsistency of this claim. In effect, the argument is this: The Archangel belongs to Israel alone. Israel comes on the scene again, so far as Scripture is concerned, after we have left it. Therefore, an event in which the Archangel takes part cannot have anything to do with us. This is plausible, provided we accept the initial premise that the Archangel belongs to Israel alone. As so often happens in such confident declarations, this is the very point which is not touched. However, it is considered in a very important paper by A. E. Knoch in "Unsearchable Riches" Vol. 29, 1938, p. 329. Since this is probably accessible to most of those who will be reading these chapters, it hardly seems necessary to do more than indicate some of the points made.

Attention is drawn to the fact that the "Seventh Trumpet" looms up in the background of 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor. 15, in the sense that the two trumpets are sharply contrasted. Paul had evidently explained Daniel's prophecies (2 Thess 2:5); now he is commissioned to reveal a presence of Christ and a resurrection of the dead in circumstances entirely different, and characterized by transcendent grace. "It is difficult to account for the striking form in which the apostle expresses himself unless we . . . note that he is concerned to show that he is NOT speaking of the presence of the Lord at the commencement of the kingdom, when the living WILL outstrip those reposing, and the Lord will NOT blow the trumpet Himself and the dead will NOT be rising first, and will NOT be snatched away at the same time with the living, and they will NOT meet Him in the air. Practically every particular clashes with the occurrences when this seventh trumpet sounds". (p. 330). The C. V. rendering "For He will be trumpeting" is also defended. (p. 334). This paper removed the last excuse for imagining that 1 Thessalonians is written for Israel or is concerned in any way with the Evangel of the Circumcision.

On the other hand, we cannot keep these truths in watertight compartments. It is a fact that the Acts account concerns Israel; yet, in the nature of things, what happens to Israel must affect others beside Israel. Even the spiritual things of Pentecost had to have an outflow to Gentiles whether the Jews liked it or no. The Thessalonian epistles concern the church which is Christ's body, even though the body is not spoken of within their pages; but what happens to the church at the end of its earthly history must affect Israel as well, because of the vacuum which will be left to be filled up by them. Moreover, when the body goes, the Kingdom will remain. The Secret of Ephesians 3 was not suddenly proclaimed as with a fanfare of trumpets. What suddenness there was, is found in the revelation of God's Son to Saul of Tarsus; and the significance of even that did not appear in a flash. Its history is disclosed, not as a doctrine set forth in the epistles to the Uncircumcision, but in Acts. Yet its meaning and significance never appears in Acts except in the cryptic final words of the Apostle Peter's final speech (Acts 15 : 11). The continuity of events is preserved in the Evangel of the Kingdom. The contrast comes in the inevitable and perpetual clash between Circumcision and Uncircumcision.

When the Prison Epistles were first severed from the earlier epistles of the Apostle Paul as, supposedly, belonging to a new "economy", "the Dispensation of the Mystery" as it was called; the exponents of the system were logical enough to realize that they had severed off 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor. 15 from the new "economy" as well. Hitherto these passages had been recognized by us as the mainstay of our celestial expectation. This idea was now repudiated. At the very start, J. J. B. Coles with regard to what he (in a most unscriptural way) called "that rejection of the Parousia and the Kingdom of 1 Thess 4, which was now postponed indefinitely," wrote: "That Parousia will surely come, notwithstanding the long postponement; for none of God's words will fall to the ground; but may not the 'blessed Hope', as in Phil 3 and 1 Tim. 1 and Titus 2, be fulfilled, even before that more public Parousia comes?" (Things to Come 1907 p. 17). *{Oddly enough, this paper by J. J. B. C. appears as Chap. 18 of "The Foundations of Dispensational Truth," but apparently without acknowledgement. 1 Tim. It should presumably have been 2 Tim. 1.}

From later writings it is made abundantly clear that we are expected to answer this rhetorical question in the affirmative. In other words, the "blessed Hope" is an expectation which is different from that given in 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15, and will occur before it.

If this supposedly earlier expectation in 1 Thess and 1 Cor. is a different one from that in the Prison Epistles; on examining these passages in them we shall expect to find features which are inherently distinct. We find nothing of the kind. Not a word in Phil 3:19, 20 is out of place when set beside the two passages as compared further back. Turning to Titus 2:13, we read of "the advent of the glory of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ". What is there in this inconsistent with 1 Thess 4:16 where "the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven"? Is His descent not an "advent"; and when His advent is accomplished, will He not be present; and when He is present, will we not have and enjoy His presence (parousia)?

Yet Dr. Bullinger must have it that there is a new expectation in the Prison Epistles.
He actually says of Philippians 3:
"This is our blessed hope today. But having robbed Israel of their hope in 1 Thess 4, most of us have no place for this hope, given to us in Phil 3, and so we calmly and quietly leave that chapter (Phil 3), and either spiritualize it and say it does not mean a resurrection of the body, or else entirely ignore it. But we cannot get away from the fact that these Corinthian believers were awaiting the apocalypse. It says so." (The Foundations of Dispensational Truth" p. 121).

It is really difficult to treat this sort of thing with patience! Israel is quietly inserted into 1 Thess 4, which is then quietly assumed to contradict Phil 3. Then our attention is concentrated on to the word "apocalypse" in 2 Thess 1:6, 7 and we are expected to believe that 1 Cor. 1: 4-8 (conveniently mixed with Heb. 2:3, 4, ibid p. 120) refers to the same moment of time, in defiance of the fact that "the apocalypse of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1:1), on any reckoning, covers a period which must be measured in years.

Dr. Bullinger, quite rightly, recognized that in the Pentecostal period there is an atmosphere of judgement (see his next paragraph). We need not be surprised, therefore, that what the Apostle Paul has to teach about the judgment of our work is to be found in his earliest epistles. There is nothing in this to contradict the teaching of the Prison Epistles. No doubt some of us "are even sorry" (p. 122) 1 Cor. 3:13-15 is there. No doubt we shall all see at least some of our work condemned then; but if we imagine that such unscriptural attempts to get rid of God's warnings to us are going to escape this condemnation, we are living in a fool's paradise.

I am sorry, but it is no good hiding the facts. In his enthusiasm for his Acts 28:28 boundary, Dr. Bullinger lost all sense of proportion and of fairness. According to him, 1 Thess 4:13-18 was but an expansion of John 11:25, 26 (p. 222); and the "parousia" it speaks of was "postponed" (p. 224); 1 Cor. 15 "does not go beyond 1 Thess 4" (p. 128). "In the whole of Paul's ministry among the Gentiles during the Dispensation of the Acts we do not find even a hint that he is proclaiming a new revelation; or revealing a secret, 'hidden from the ages and generations,' or founding a church; or setting up a new institution." (p. 219). Poor blundering Paul! He thought he was revealing secrets to us in Romans and in 1 Corinthians, but our ultra-dispensationalists know better!! Paul's ministry was, after all "like the Lord's own ministry. . . based entirely on the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures, 'Moses and the Prophets'." (p. 219).

A man is known by the company he keeps. No wonder so many Christians fight shy of us who proclaim The Secret while we are associated in any way with those who teach the sort of thing quoted in the previous paragraph. In the face of such outrageous statements we may no longer he tolerant of ultra-dispensationalism. Too much is at stake.

Extended Note No.7
The Supposed Three Spheres
The teaching on this subject set forth by Dr. Bullinger and Mr. Welch has been dealt with exhaustively by Mr. A. E. Knoch in "Unsearchable Riches" Vol. 28, 1937, p. 145. Very little more needs to be said beyond a few comments necessitated by Mr. Welch's reply in "The Berean Expositor" Vol. 32, 1943 and 1944.

Mr. Welch restates his theme thus: "There are three distinct provinces within which the distinctive blessings of the various callings revealed in Scripture are naturally confined." He adds: "In order to avoid circumlocution we adopt the word 'sphere' to express this fact." (p. 76).

This definition does not really clarify the position, for the question is still left open: Are we referring to the distinctive blessings of the various callings revealed in Scripture, in them selves, or to the location wherein they are operative? As in so much of this ultra-dispensational teaching, the terms of reference seem to be purposely left as vague as possible. At one moment we seem to be dealing with the first idea; and at the next, with the other.

Mr. Welch shows, what no instructed student would deny, that there are distinctive callings with distinctive blessings. There are callings on earth itself. There is the celestial Jerusalem, which will descend to earth. Ours is among the celestials. Yet others are less clearly defined in scope and in ultimate location, such as the 144,000 in Rev. 7:1-8. We are not told who are the elders and the living ones, and who are the great multitude (Rev. 7:9-10). Obviously there is much which has not been revealed and about which we should therefore not speculate.

The locations wherein the blessings operate are earth and heaven. The celestial Jerusalem is now in heaven, but it will one day descend to the earth. This change of location hardly justifies a claim that it is some sort of intermediate sphere suspended between the two. Even as regards this, however, there is an uncomfortable vagueness. Sometimes the celestial Jerusalem seems to be regarded as the sphere of heaven itself (and our own expectation as "super-heavenly"), and at other times as something intermediate, "a sphere distinct on the one hand from the earth and its kingdom, and on the other hand from the heavenly places which are the sphere of the church of the mystery". Even the description of the earthly sphere "with Jerusalem the chosen center, and Israel a Kingdom of Priests, leaves open which Jerusalem is meant.

The next problem is connected with Abraham. It is easy to see why this teaching makes it necessary to tangle Hebrews and Galatians together, but no real attempt is made to justify con. fusing the Evangels of the Circumcision and of the Uncircumcision. Galatians is the portal to Ephesians. It is of all the Scriptures the most unacceptable to Israel, in nature the most UNcircumcision, the most sharply in contrast with Hebrews. And the theory that it was a covering letter to Hebrews does not shake this, for it makes the contrast more emphatic. "Both epistles quote Hab. 2:4, 'The just shall live by faith' (Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), both develop the allegory of Sinai and Sion (Gal. 4:24-31; Heb. 12:18.24), both deal with 'perfection' (Gal. 3:3, Hebrews throughout), both speak of Jerusalem which is above, both speak of the Mediator." (p. 135). Yes; but it would have been only fair to have pointed out that their treatment of each is entirely different.

The subject of Galatians is justification by faith and, as in Romans, the references to Abraham are in that connection. The NATURE of Abrahamic blessing is the subject and, most emphatically, NOT its location. If we did not possess Hebrews, we certainly would be unable to deduce any sort of celestial Jerusalem "sphere" from anything in Galatians.

Regarding Gal. 3:14 the question is posed: "Does this passage refer to a distinct sphere of blessing, or is this blessing of Abraham to be enjoyed in one or other of the two spheres already considered?" The answer is that to the Gentiles, now, the blessing of Abraham, justification by faith is the portal to the celestial blessings of Ephesians. We cannot separate Rom. 1-4 from Abraham or the Prison Epistles from Rom. 1-4 (see Phil. 3:9).

Mr. Welch makes the point that no hint *{It would have been better if he had written "no definite reference to. . . "; for see Psalm 15:1; 24:3; 43:3.} of the celestial Jerusalem is to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, yet we find from the Hebrews Epistle that "its existence was intimately known by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (p. 94). It is a pleasure to see this recognition of the fact that there is other novel teaching in the Greek Scriptures quite apart from that revealed to and by the Apostle Paul for the "body-church."

Mr. Welch insists on retaining "far above" as the rendering of "huperanO" (over-up) in Eph. 1:21 & 4:10 (but apparently nowhere else). He maintains that the word expresses distance, and in support he quotes the Septuagint translation of Gen. 7:20 "Fifteen cubits upward did the water prevail, and the mountains were covered". These words are conclusive indeed! They are the only instance quoted where "huperanO" is associated with distance rather than position. And where do we find the distance? In "huperanO"? No. No more here than in the other eleven he instances, but in the "fifteen cubits". For anyone swimming in the waters that fifteen cubits would have been far enough above the mountains to drown in; but in Ephesians it is trivial and in the other passages irrelevant or untrue.

Mr. Welch says: "Although we have written on the subject again and again our critic has never understood that when we speak of a position 'far above all heavens,' we have no idea that when Christ ascended up far above all heavens He was 'outside the heavens'." (p. 150). How it is possible to get "far above" anything without getting "outside" it, is a mystery indeed! What a pity it is that Mr. Welch does not seem to be able to say plainly what he really does mean!

When, if ever, we get an adequate translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, someone may be led to the great enterprise proposed by Lord Bacon of sorting out the prophecies of Scripture. Until this becomes possible, it would be better to avoid guesses.

Chapter 18
We have established that the Secret of the Resurrection and "the word of the Lord" in 1 Thessalonians 4 are closely connected and must logically be associated together. Now we have to consider the teaching that the latter is identical with the hope (or better, the expectation) of Israel.

This task really ought not to be necessary. The fact that 1 Cor. 15 contains a secret, that this secret is intimately bound up with 1 Thess 4:15-17 and that it is in entire agreement with the expectation set forth in the Prison Epistles, ought to be sufficient for us all. Yet the ultra-dispensational theories are held by some people with such tenacity that it is not enough to give positive teaching which by implication will kill a particular theory stone dead. If every argument put forward for it, no matter, how feeble, is not explicitly refuted; it is taken for granted that it cannot be refuted.

The curious view that 1 Thess 4:15-17 belongs to Israel was first propounded in its fully developed form, so far as I can discover, by the late Dr. Bullinger in a series of papers in "Things to Come," later reprinted in book form as "The Foundations of Dispensational Truth". Some of the statements in it are so questionable as to raise a doubt whether this learned authority could have given this, his last expository work, the critical consideration it needed. Apart from Scripture, the quotations in this chapter are from the book, denoted by F. D. T. Incidentally, its Chapter 18 was not by Dr. Bullinger at all! It was printed in "Things to Come" Vol. 13 (1907) pp. 15-17 under the heading "Contributed Articles" and over the initials "J. J. B. C.". No acknowledgement whatever is made to Mr. Coles in F. D. T., although some small editorial revisions were made.

According to Dr. Bullinger, who quotes 1 Thess 4:13,18; Paul was here confirming what the Lord had said in Matt. 24" (p. 99). He speaks of "the promise of 1 Thess 4 :16, which was based on God's promise by Peter" in Acts 3 :19,21, and asks: "We, too, wait for the Lord. But on what grounds Was the promise made unto our fathers? Was it made unto us, and to our children (Acts 2:39)?" (pp. 103,104). Speaking of Eph. 1:4 he says: "But, before we can understand this, we have to learn the foundation doctrines which were set forth later than 1 Thessalonians in the epistle to the Romans" (p. 105); and again: "It is we who have robbed Israel of the promises of 1 Thessalonians" (p. 105). On p. 89 we are told "how Paul con' firmed the teaching of the twelve, and did not go beyond it. On this teaching the assembly in Thesalonica was based, and in it they were nurtured".

Here is a plain issue. Let us put it to the test of Scripture.

We will have to consider four questions. The first is: "Was the assembly to which 1 Thessalonians was written a Jewish assembly?" To begin with, we must examine Acts 17:1,14. The account is clear and straightforward:—"They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Now, as Paul's custom was, he entered to them and on three sabbaths he argues with them from the Scriptures, opening up and placing before them that Christ must be suffering and rise from among the dead, and that 'This One is Christ—the Jesus Whom I am announcing to you'. And some of them are persuaded, and were allotted to Paul and Silas, besides a vast multitude of the reverent Greeks, and of the foremost women not a few." After the third sabbath the majority of the Jews, who were not persuaded, stirred up the trouble we read of as the narrative proceeds; and evidently the ministry of Paul in Thessalonica was abruptly terminated. Not only so, but the Thessalonian Jews at length managed to upset Paul's successful ministry with the Jews of Berea.

Clearly, so far as the Jews themselves were concerned, Paul's mission in Thessalonica was practically a complete failure. The account in Acts almost goes out of its way to emphasize this! And the Thessalonian epistles certainly confirm the Acts testimony. The Thessalonians "turned back to God from idols, to be slaving for the living and true God and to be waiting for His Son out of the heavens" (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The Jews in Acts 17 deserve severe enough censure as it is; and we can only describe it as grossly unfair to them to add the false charge of idolatry, for which there is not a title of objective evidence.

The whole attitude of those addressed by the Apostle Paul in the Thessalonian epistles is in sharp contrast to that to the Jews in Acts 17. The "vast struggle" of 1 Thess 2:2 is fully in accord with the Acts narrative; and Paul's entire reminiscence in this second chapter exhibits the behaviour of the Thessalonian Jews, by contrast, in an unpleasant light. During his short visit, for apparently its duration could not have been much longer than three weeks, the two apostles set an example of love, unselfishness and humility that won the hearts of those idolatrous Greeks to the Saviour whose grace was so perfectly exemplified in their mission. The simplicity of this most beautiful account brings tears to the eyes.

"For you became imitators, brethren, of the churches of God which are in Christ Jesus in Judea, seeing that you suffered the same—even who also killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and banish us, . .. "( 1 Thess 2:14, 15). The word here quoted in themselves conclusively answer our first question. For, turning back to Act 17:5, we find the Jews making use of a mob of the scum of Thessalonica for their wicked ends:—"Now the Jews, being jealous, taking also to themselves some wicked men of the loafers, and making up a mob, they make a tumult in the city."

Incidentally, it should be mentioned here that no reference is made in the Thessalonian epistles to any promises made to their fathers or their children. There is no hint in either of any covenant relationship to God such as distinctively belongs to the Circumcision. This reinforces the positive evidence.

One thing is fully clear. The Thessalonian assembly was not built up on the basis of what Paul taught in a synagogue—and, by the way, there was only one (Acts 17:1), so there could not have been many Jews——but on something outside the scope of Acts and about which Acts is silent, that is, his ministry to the Uncircumcision recorded in the epistle.

Next we have to ask: Were the Thessalonians unaware of the foundation doctrines set forth in Romans?

"Seeing that the evangel of our God did not come to you in word only, but in power also. . . "( 1 Thess 1:5). "Your faith towards God". (1:8) "We are bold in our God to speak the Evangel of God to you". (2:2) " . . . to share with you not only God's Evangel, but our own souls also". (2:8). ". . . we proclaim to you God's Evangel. . ." (2:9). "the Word of God, which is operating also in you who are believing". (2:13). In the face of these extracts we may safely declare that Paul proclaimed to the Thessalonians the Evangel of God. Presumably nobody will deny that this evangel is the theme of at least part of the first four chapters of Romans! According to Dr. Bullinger these foundation doctrines "were set forth later than 1 Thessalonians in the epistle to the Romans" (E. D. T. p. 105), but he omits to inform us how he has discovered that they were never proclaimed orally by Paul before he wrote it! Needless to say, such an idea as that would not have suited Dr. Bullinger's theory, so it did not enter his mind.

Were the Thessalonians acquainted with something of the Conciliation? Certainly the Conciliation is not the subject explicitly of any part of 1 Thessalonians; yet, nevertheless, comparison of the following pairs of passages will demonstrate to any unprejudiced person that an affirmative answer must be given: 1 Thess 1:1 with Rom. 1:7 & 1 5:1. 1 Thess 1:3 with Rom. 5:2, 4. 1 Thess 1:10 with Rom. 5:9, 10. Thess 3:2 with Rom. 5:5. 1 Thess 5:23 with Rom. 5:1. Indeed, if the whole atmosphere of this epistle is not redolent of reigning grace, the Conciliation, it is very difficult to imagine what would be!

Finally, the student should compare and contrast 1 Thess 5:8-10 with Eph. 6:10-17. The former is admittedly only the germ of the latter, but this is to be expected when we reflect that Thessalonians can represent no more than the first steps of a process of revelation which culminates in the celestial glories of Ephesians.

In view of this, what are we to say to the rash statement, quoted above, that the foundation doctrines were set forth later than Thessalonians, in the Romans epistle? One would like in charity to overlook or forget it, were it not for the peril inherent in so doing.

The foregoing really completely answers bur third question, whether 1 Thessalonians is a so-called "Circumcision epistle," as the epistles of James, Peter and Jude and to Hebrews are supposed to be, although they never mention "circumcision" even once. Surely it is impossible to read them without being aware of their utterly different atmosphere to Paul's early epistles? Dr. Bullinger himself speaks of "a difference, and an advance, between the Apostolic Epistles" (i. e. the so-called Circumcision Epistles) "and the Pauline Epistles". This is a misleading under-statement which he surely would have amended had he realized what it implied.

For suppose, for the sake of argument, that 1 & 2 Thessalonians are really epistles written to the Circumcision. Then, by hypothesis, Paul carried the Evangel of the Circumcision a stage further than did the Circumcision apostles, that is the Twelve, themselves (assuming that they ever proclaimed it at all); in spite of the fact that Gal. 2:7 states the position quite plainly, that the Evangel of the Circumcision was not entrusted to Paul. We have no right to take for granted that this division of spheres of labour dated only from that moment of time. In fact we do not know exactly when this took place, but it must have been before Galatians was written; and Galatians was a very early epistle. Some even believe it was the earliest of all. In other words, by the hypothesis we are considering, the Twelve supposedly proclaimed their evangel and yet did not disclose that they had held back from proclaiming the whole of it! Where does Scripture suggest, let alone state, this thing? Nowhere; and were it not for the demands of 'a priori,' subjective theory, nobody would ever have suggested such an idea.

The fact of the matter is, neither Dr. Bullinger nor those who are following him in this ultra-dispensationalism have ever properly faced the consequences of reckoning the earlier epistles of the Apostle Paul among the so-called Circumcision epistles. For over a hundred years, expositors have laboured to elucidate the fundamental distinctions between the Evangel of the Circumcision and the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, and Dr. Bullinger was well on the way to summing-up and crowning their researches. Yet in this last period of his ministry he virtually undermined the work, for that is what reckoning these epistles with Acts and the so,called Circumcision epistles amounts to.

In these paragraphs I have carefully written "so-called" before "Circumcision epistles," for we ought to face the fact that this label is quite modern and accepted only by a very small minority of students. James and Peter wrote to the "Dispersion," "the Twelve Tribes"; and the "Hebrews" epistle is apparently so named for want of any other, though entirely appropriately. All this means no more than it says. We have unanimously taken for granted that they are the Evangel of the Circumcision, in spite of the circumstance, invariably disregarded, that the word "circumcision" is absent from them and "evangel" is found once only (the Evangel of God, 1 Peter 4:17). That they are written TO the Twelve Tribes and Hebrews, respectively, is certain; that they are OF the circumcision (I deliberately avoid the Capital 'C' here because it begs the question) has yet to be proved.

Since Dr. Bullinger some expositors, conspicuous among whom is Mr. C. H. Welch, have realized that Romans is the essential doctrinal basis of the Prison Epistles and the Secret of Ephesians 3; and they seek to link most of its doctrinal portions with the Prison Epistles and the alleged "dispensational" portions with the writings of the Twelve. This attempt will be considered in a later chapter. Meanwhile the point which it is desired to make here is that these doctrinal portions cannot be rightly divided along such lines. We need go no further than the Thessalonian epistles to settle the question. If the disclosure of matters connected with the future presence of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4 is "doctrinal," as surely it must be, how comes it that Dr. Bullinger and some of his followers have separated it from the Prison Epistles? It is no answer to say that this epistle was written before the crisis of Acts 28:28, for so were the first eight chapters of Romans; and in any case we have already seen that the real crisis was not at this point at all, but at Matt. 13:14, 15. Why then are these eight chapters regarded as foundation doctrine for the Secret if other doctrinal portions of the earlier Pauline epistle are not? Nor can 1 Thessalonians be linked up with those parts of 1 Corinthians dealing with matters of a passing nature; for the latter are definitely stated to be concerned with things which were to be superseded, but no hint of any sort is given in 1 Thessalonians to that effect.

The Apostle Paul's epistles do not differ in degree, but in kind from the writings to Israel, the Hebrews or the Twelve Tribes in the Dispersion. Those who cannot perceive this are blind to the clearest and most fundamental distinctions!

Is "the word of the Lord" in 1 Thes 4:13, 18 based on Matthew 24 and on Acts 3? Of this passage Dr. Bullinger says that Paul "made a further revelation of truth as to this hope; a truth which the Twelve could not reveal". (E. D. T. p. 97). Yet he quotes John 11:25, 26 and says: "This was 'the word of the Lord' which Paul was now confirming" in 1 Thess 4:13, 18. (p. 99). He even goes on to say that Paul was confirming Matt. 24:29, 31 here! Note carefully: this passage is the culmination of a whole series of events, which works up to the coming of the Son of Mankind immediately after the affliction of those days. The series includes various signs quite clearly explained. We have only to turn to 1 Thess 4:13, 18 to find that there is not the smallest trace of those signs therein, nor of the great affliction. If anyone suggest that we should read the passages together, and that the affliction is implied in 1 Thess 4, it is only necessary to refer him to the last verse. Read in its own context it is full of consolation; read as if it were tagged to Matthew 24, it is little better than a mockery.

Later on (E. D. T. p. 152) Dr. Bullinger writes, very truly, that "It was not for 'death' that the Thessalonian believers were waiting, but for 'God's Son from heaven'; and thus to ever be with the Lord. . . It was not for 'death' that the Corinthian believers were waiting, but for their 'house' (or spiritual body) from heaven, so that they might be 'absent' from this body of humiliation, and be 'present with the Lord' in their 'changed' and glorified bodies". Not a word of this is there which is not just as true for us as for the Thessalonians and Corinthians; and any artificial administrational theory which makes out the contrary condemns itself. They were waiting for the Lord from heaven; and so should we, too. The further revelations of the Prison Epistles made it clear that the earlier expectation had not yet been fulfilled because further and greater riches of grace were waiting to be displayed; but there was a finality about these revelations which should have shown that no further necessary cause for delay remained. From then onwards, so far as any Christian knew then or knows now, no reason whatever exists why the Lord should not come at any moment. Every day that passes must bring that moment ever nearer; and for us it is literally true that "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believe; the night progresses, yet the day has drawn near" (Rom. 13:11, 12 ).

Earlier in the book Dr. Bullinger made the astounding statement that "Those who are daily looking for the Lord to come for them at any moment must be greatly perplexed with many things the Lord said about His coming. They surely must wish that He had never spoken in this way". (E. D. T. p. 76). I cannot imagine what he had in, mind, but it is not too severe to describe this as a scandalous libel! It is wholly groundless and utterly deplorable, but it is of a piece with the bulk of the, book. With regard to 1 Thess 4:13-18 an outstanding example is: "Paul, in writing this, was only "confirming what the Lord had said'." (E. D. T. p. 37). Apparently the reference is to John 11:24-26, about which he says "Paul developed this 'good word' in the very first epistle he ever wrote". (p. 73). By the time we get to p. 97 it turns out that Paul in 1 Thessalonians was not "only confirming" after all! We read "In the fourth chapter he makes a further revelation of truth as to this hope-a truth which the twelve could not reveal". Yet, in the very next page, "this was not the mere assertion of the apostle. He was only confirming that word which had already been spoken by the Lord to Martha"; and on p. 103 we are informed that 1 Thess 4:16 "was based on God's promise by Peter". What confusion!

It is appalling that Dr. Bullinger, of all people, could have been misled into speaking of "the mere assertion of the apostle" Paul! What a warning to us! I do regret deeply that it should be necessary to reproduce these deplorable quotations, but the truth of God is more important than any man's reputation, There is always danger in following ready-made theory, and it would be hard to find a more distressing example. The moment we cease to follow the facts of Scripture as they are, we are forced to start manipulating them; and the tragedy is that we at once become blind to what we are doing. Nobody who is familiar with Dr. Bullinger's other books would suppose him capable of deliberately mishandling God's Word. He proved his devotion to it consistently and completely till near the close of his ministry. It was not the man who was at fault; but the theory, derived from others, which blinded his eyes.

All this is a very plain warning to us to avoid unscientific, unsound methods of study, building upon theories instead of facts, and reasoning from what might have happened or what we think ought to have been. If such a teacher as Dr. Bullinger could not do these things with safety, lesser men such as ourselves are unlikely to be more successful.

The blunt truth is that these matters have never yet been fully thought-out. Reading between the lines of what Dr. Bullniger wrote in 1906 and 1907, one can perceive that he had come to a dead end. Unfortunately, instead of going back and investigating just where he had gone astray in his study and thinking, he eagerly took the new blind alley opened up by J. J. B. Coles. Yet Mr. Knoch's series "On Baptism," which he had started to print could have started him on the way to the truth for which he was searching in vain. Somehow he could not take it; so, as regards this matter, we have had to wander 40 years in the wilderness instead.

Ideas based on such suppositions as what might have happened had Israel repented at the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, or later at that of His Twelve Apostles, are not sound. They are foolish and vain questionings which should be avoided.

Confusion is our most subtle enemy. When this chapter was drafted, I really though~ that the issue would be plain and that no reader could have any doubt about what is meant by Israel. That belief was altogether too optimistic! Yet there is really little difficulty about the matter.

"Israel" is the collective name of the nation which is in covenant relationship with God. Where covenant exists, there is Israel also.

When the twelve tribes split into ten and two, the divisions were described as Israel and Judah respectively, the latter being the name of the chief tribe of the two. Yet, so far as their covenant position was concerned, the latter remained "Israel". What they had in common outweighed their differences.

The crux is "Covenant". Where covenant is repudiated, so far "Israel" ceases to exist-but only so far. The individual of Israel according to flesh may break the covenant and lose in some measure the covenant blessings; but he cannot break away from covenant and become as if there were no covenant unless God permits him to do so.

If it were true that covenant had now ceased to exist, there would now be no "Israel" at all. But it is not true. For some 1900 years, the Old Covenant has been near to vanishing. Yes, near: but it has not vanished, and it will not, until it vanishes into the glory of the New Covenant. There will always be Covenant until the great Reconciliation is consummated; so till then there will always be the Covenant People, Israel.

If it were true that Covenant had become universal among all God's people, then all would be "Israel". But it is not true. Paul's Evangel is the Evangel of the Uncircumcision, of the Akrobustia, of something which in its very essence is incompatible with circumcision, with Israel.

Now, here is the point the misunderstanding of which is the cause of all the confusion about this subject. At the present time, on account of Christ's death and resurrection through World-conciliation; the spiritual blessings of covenant are no longer restricted to covenant. They are too potent to be so restrained; therefore they can and do overflow to all those who are of faith, as indeed they did to Abraham in uncircumcision, which is a figure of the present state of affairs in this respect. Therefore in spirit, and in spirit alone, God's people have full right to all spiritual covenant blessings, even though covenant itself is in abeyance. In spirit, for them, "in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but there is a new creation". (Gal. 6:15). More than that, at present, "we are the Circumcision, who are offering divine service to God as to spirit, and are boasting in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in flesh." (Phil. 3:3).

Fatally easy is it to misunderstand this. All that need be done is leave out or gloss over the facts that flesh does not come into it at all and that it is in Christ Jesus. In Phil. 3:3 the point is beyond any but deliberate misunderstanding. The words "we are the Circumcision" are qualified by the three following clauses. If they are to be so interpreted as to mean that we have, in any sense at all, become Israel'; then the three qualifying clauses must be interpreted for Israel likewise, and all fleshly blessing and privilege for Israel must be ruled out. Covenant and fleshly blessing are inseparably bound together.

Those who have framed the various heresies which have made a happy hunting ground of this subject have dimly perceived this point. The "Catholic" heresy has boldly written off the former "Israel according to flesh" for evermore, and substituted for it a new "Israel", the Catholic Church, a spiritual Israel in theory, but in practice as fleshly as Israel according to flesh ever was. All this is a flagrant defiance of Romans 11, and we may leave it at that. The Anglo-Israelites have been even less reasonable. They think that they have discovered that the Anglo,Saxon peoples are the real Israel according to flesh, of which they are, needless to say, the chosen members. By so thinking, they have automatically shut themselves out of the Evangel of the Uncircumcision.

Quite recently, a new form of this doctrine has appeared which is perhaps even more confusing and unreasonable. It is also very difficult to understand, so difficult that one can only presume that its exponents have never worked out its implications and really understood it for themselves. There seem to be two strands of thought running through it. One is that those of Israel according to flesh who have failed to accept their Messiah have wholly forfeited their circumcision and covenant standing and become uncircumcision. The other is that the "Uncircumcision" to whose evangelization the Apostle Paul was particularly called were not "Gentile" Gentiles at all, but lapsed Israelites or the descendants of lapsed Israelites. What happens to those Gentiles who really are Gentiles is not made plain. Indeed, if the point had been made in this blunt way, its absurdity would have been self-evident.

Recently, too, there has been a great outcry against "reasoning". Perhaps when people begin to perceive the predicaments into which such irrational theories involve their exponents, we may see once more a return to reason. There is nothing wrong with reasoning. What is wrong, and very wrong indeed, is false or inadequate reasoning. The two strands of thought stated above are essentially irrational because they are a beclouding of a real antithesis and a confusing of a real issue. The former is a half truth. The latter is a whole error deduced from the erroneous half of the first and from a false simplification of such Scriptures as Rom. 2:25, 29 and 9:6-8.

What we may perhaps call the ideal Israel is to be seen under the future New Covenant, when God's Covenant People will be really and utterly His, in flesh and in spirit. The point of the two passages in Romans mentioned above is that this ideal Israel is the true Israel; and that those of Israel who fall short of the ideal fail to be truly Israel in proportion to the degree they fall short. Yet they never cease to be Israel in some measure. They do not forfeit their circumcision by unbelief, as this mistaken theory teaches. On the contrary, the only ones of Israel to forfeit their circumcision are those who, like the Apostle Paul, surrender it deliberately for the celestial blessings open only to the Akrobustia, in Christ Jesus. God does not thrust away His people whom He foreknew! (Rom. 11:2).

But He did cast away Israel (Rom. 11: 15), and this raises a very subtle point.

"Thrust away" (apOtheO, from-thrust) occurs six times in five passages, Acts 7:27, 39; 13:46; Rom. 11:1, 2; 1 Tim. 1:19. In four of these it is man (three times Israel) thrusting away something which is good. On the other hand, God does not "thrust-away", and the only time He "casts-away" has as its immediate sequel the only occasion of His "taking-back".

"Cast-away" occurs five times in five passages. (apoball0", from-cast, Mark 10:50; Acts 27:22; Rom. 11:15; 1 Tim. 4:4; Heb. 10:35). There is an element of impatience in "thrust-away" and of deliberate finality in "cast-away," but where God casts away, the element of finality is deliberately withdrawn. Moreover, God does not cast away one of two "Israels." He casts away Israel; for while World-conciliation is in force, the special relationship implied by "Israel" is in practice impossible.

If we render "apOtheO" by "repel", I think the meaning becomes more plain. This will be seen if we attempt to use "repel" or "thrust-away" for "apoball0". It does not fit; and the reason is that one thrusts away or repels something which approaches or tries to approach. In so far as God's people, by the very fact that they are God's people, have at least attempted to make some approach to Him; it is out of keeping with His character to repel them. In so far as they have repelled Him, in crucifying His Son, they have ceased to be His people except in name. Thus Israel had to be cast away, but not finally. They were cast away in order that they shall be taken back. They were cast away in order that a still greater good might be opened up, World-conciliation.

The idea that the Uncircumcision are really lapsed or apostate Circumcision is untenable. It leaves no room for those who never were in any sense Abraham's seed according to flesh. Those words "according to flesh," (kata sarka) are crucial; and their occurrences should be studied. Moreover there is a very clear contrast in Rom. 2:25-29 between the "Uncircumcision by nature" and the transgressor of law. The point here, as elsewhere, is that for those who are really Israel, for the real Jew, circumcision which is merely of flesh is not enough.

The passages where circumcision and uncircumcision are explicitly contrasted are Rom. 2:25-29; 4:9-12; 1 Cor. 7:17-19; Gal. 2:6-12; Eph. 2:11, 12; Phil. 3:3-6; Col. 3:9-11. Contrast between the Circumcision and the Gentiles is stated or implied in Rom. 15:8-13; Gal. 2:6-12; Eph. 2:11, 12; and in the last it is emphasized as being in flesh. "Israel" is always a concept which is "according to flesh." There is no such thing as a "spiritual Israel" which is not Israel according to flesh, any more than there is a Messiah for Israel Who is not so according to flesh. The notion that what is according to flesh is necessarily evil is one of the oldest and most harmful of heresies. It may well be responsible for the curtailment of the Greek text of Acts 2:30 which results in the bald and unconvincing rendering of the C. V. here, as compared with older versions.

Chapter 19
Before we turn to the positive side of the Thessalonian expectation, one further objection has to be' considered. If the expectation of the Thessalonian church was not the same as that of Israel, why did the Apostle Paul trouble to describe the events connected with the Day of the Lord?

The Thessalonians, or some of them, had been led astray to a belief that the Day of the Lord was then present (2 Thess. 2:2). We should, however, bear in mind that the Apostle Paul had just told them not to be quickly shaken from their mind, which must therefore already have been made up. Also v. 3 says, "No one should be deluding you by any method," and in v. 6 they "are aware what is detaining. . ." It may well be that Paul was simply setting on record what he had already told them verbally. However, the suggestion has been made that if Paul had wished them to know that their expectation was not the same as Israel's, it would have been far better and simpler for him to have told them that their expectation had nothing whatever to do with the Day of the Lord, had such a statement been true.

Quite so; but it was not true. Yet this does not mean that their expectation was identical with Israel's. What it does mean is that it was related in some way to the events which are to culminate in the Day of the Lord. As Israel's expectation is also related to those same events, the Day of the Lord is a link between the two expectations.' Hence there is an obvious need for some explanation of its relation to the new order of things which first appears in these epistles.

Israel's expectation depends on the Day of the Lord. That of the Thessalonians cannot be understood completely without some reference to the Day of the Lord; nevertheless the fact that it was in this way linked to Israel's does not prove it to be the same as Israel's, but rather the reverse. If it were the same, there would be no point in omitting to say so; and certainly none in saying what the Apostle Paul does say. These things are not put in to make the whole matter harder to grasp, but to impart needed instruction to God's people. We therefore should pay special attention to passages, such as this, which appear at first sight to be saying something in a complicated way instead of coming directly. to the point in a clear-cut statement. As no such statement is made here, we may safely assume that in making it on our own account we are departing from the truth. People do not always realize that departure from truth is not necessarily in adding to it. Sometimes it is in over-simplification, in refusal to acknowledge the distinctions which God has made. Such over-simplification leaves a gap in our understanding of the 'truth which, sooner or later, has to be filled in; and so we get man-made additions. The same occurs in the natural sciences. Gaps in knowledge attained by observation and experiment are apt to be filled in by theorizing—in plain English, by guessing. This process is justifiable provided we recognize we are only guessing until such time as we can fill in the gaps; it is without excuse if we are merely trying to over-simplify nature.

The ultra-dispensational system makes the two expectations out to be one and the same, and different from that set forth in the Prison Epistles. Then, in due course, the distinction is seen between the expectation set forth in the Apostle Paul's earlier epistles and that of Israel in the Millennium; so the former becomes "heavenly" and that of the Prison Epistles "super-heavenly"—and quite unscriptural.

Let us examine the sequence of events at the conclusion of the eon, as outlined in Matthew 24. There will be false Christs, wars and famines, affliction of God's people, the proclamation of the Evangel of the Kingdom in the whole inhabited earth, "and then the consummation shall be arriving" (Matt. 24:14). Before the consummation, those in Judea will perceive the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, and on seeing this should be fleeing into the mountains. Immediately after the affliction of those days will be the presence (parousia) of the Son of Mankind, Who will be "despatching His messengers with a loud sounding trumpet, and they will be assembling His chosen ones." (24:31).

Now let us examine what the Apostle Paul says to the Thessalonians. They were aware that the Day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night, but will not overtake them as a thief (1 Thess. 5:2-4). "Yet we—being of the day—let us be sober; putting on a breastplate of faith and love, and, for helmet, the expectation of salvation, seeing that God did not appoint us to indignation, but unto procuring salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ:—the One dying for us, that, whether we be watching or drowsing, at the same time together with Him we should be living" (1 Thess. 5:8-10). For the afflicted there will be "ease, with us" (i.e. Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy), " at the unveiling. of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful messengers" (2 Thess. 1:7). They were not to be alarmed at the false doctrine that the Day of the Lord was then present (2 Thess. 2:2). The apostasy and the unveiling of the man of the lawlessness were to come first. Something was restraining his unveiling; the secret of the lawlessness was already in operation; but God prefers the Thessalonians from the beginning (says Paul) "unto salvation, in hallowing of spirit and belief of truth, unto which He also called us through our evangel, unto procuring of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:13, 14). They were to stand firm and hold to the traditions which they were taught" whether through word or through our epistle'" (2 Thess. 2:15).

Bearing all these things in mind, I would earnestly ask all who read this to dismiss from their thoughts, for a few moments, everything they have learnt about "dispensational truth," and put themselves, in imagination, into the place of those Thessalonian Christians when they first read the Apostle Paul's two epistles to them. These people were Gentiles newly converted from idolatry. They knew nothing beyond what Paul had taught them (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). How would they understand his words? Would they not believe from what he told them that their Lord might come for them all at any moment, and certainly before the affliction of the end time begins? Would they not believe that they were to be saved from the afflictions of the presence of the man of the lawlessness and the horrors accompanying the Day of the Lord? What sort of comfort would Paul's description of these things be to them if it were meant to bring home to his readers that they might perhaps be called upon to endure them all? With the plain facts before us, is it reasonable to. believe that any person reading these epistles with an open mind could possibly gather that the Thessalonians might have had to go through the afflictions of Matthew 24?

I would not, however, care to suggest that the Thessalonians had learnt nothing from Paul of what is recorded in the Gospels, particularly Luke's; but I do submit that nothing in the Greek Scriptures is more remote from any thing which can be described as "Jewish" than these epistles. There is not the smallest evidence that even a ripple of the controversies with the Jews recorded in other epistles had touched the Thessalonians. In Chapter 18 the idea was refuted that they were ignorant of the foundation. Pauline doctrines; yet there is this measure of truth in it, that there is no sign that they knew anything of Pauline controversy, or, at any rate, been troubled by it, even though elsewhere it had started or was about to start. It would certainly seem that the Thessalonians were far too busy growing. in grace and working out the consequences of the Evangel in their own lives to have leisure to bother about the more negative aspects of the Evangel or the more speculative issues raised in other less. godly churches.

Dr. Bullinger teaches quite plainly that if Israel had repented, the Day of the Lord would quickly have come (e.g. "The Foundations of Dispensational Truth" pp. 52, 54, 83, 97, 100, 149). If this be so, then we can see now in the light of our present knowledge that the one thing which saved the Thessalonians from having to go through all the horrors; of the great affliction of that day was Israel's failure to repent!

This remarkable conclusion is inescapable, so it is hardly surprising that ultra-dispensationalism seems to leave the afflictions of the Day of the Lord out of account, so far as. treating them as a solemn reality. goes. Yet as it was a subject of Hebrew prophecy, its happening is in no sense contingent on Israel's repentance, but inexorably fixed. Thus. if this system were the truth, not only the beloved Thessalonians, but Israel themselves (even if they had all repented and accepted their Messiah) would still have had to face the horrors of that day. And then what room would there have been for the prophecies about unfaithful Israel in that day, of the doom of Babylon and other matters, if, by hypothesis, Israel had repented?' Such contingent statements as those referred to above seem fatally attractive to some minds, but we must in fairness doubt whether Dr. Bullinger realized their implications.

Yet, as already pointed out, it cannot be gainsaid that the Thessalonian expectation was to some extent linked to Israel's but the significance of this fact depends on the nature of the link.

The link is the Day of the Lord and the events which accompany it.

Israel's expectation has to do primarily with what comes after the Day of the Lord, their salvation wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ in power. In the time of the end of this present eon Jewish affairs will be in the foreground. Indeed, their increasing prominence in our days seems to be a foreshadowing: of the coming of that Day.

The Thessalonian expectation—and ours—has to do primarily with what comes before the Day of the Lord, our salvation wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ in reigning grace, culminating in His receiving the Church which is His body to Himself. Even at the risk of being tedious, it is essential to stress the fact that the Apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to look forward to this, to meeting the Lord in the air and being ever with him; and, most emphatically, not to be looking for the Day of the Lord or earthly events and historical landmarks.

There seem to be many foreshadowings of the Day of the Lord at this present time, yet one thing is quite certain: so long as the stewardship of the Secret continues in being and World-conciliation remains in force, the Day of the Lord and everything directly connected therewith remains below the horizon of the future. This being so, evidently the termination of reigning grace and of the proclaiming of the Secret (however this may take place) is, from the point of view of Israel and of the world, the instant when everything is removed which holds back the forces whose operation culminates in the Day of the Lord. So we have the following sequence of events:

The cessation of the Evangel of the uncircumcision, and
with it World-conciliation and the stewardship
of the Secret.

The Day of the Lord and the events connected therewith.

The unveiling of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His
powerful messengers.

The proclamation of the Evangel of the circumcision,
resulting in the salvation of Israel and the conclusion
of the New Covenant.

The Millennium, i.e., the thousand years.

In the prison Epistles we are told nothing about the termination of the Evangel of the uncircumcision (and all that goes with it) from the purely terrestrial point of view. This is plain from such passages as Col. 3:4; Phil. 3:20, 21; Tit. 2:13. Their outlook is celestial, and earthly affairs are beneath their view. This is entirely in keeping with the celestial character of the revelation in these epistles.

On the other hand, in the Thessalonian epistles we find a full statement of the relationship of the Thessalonians, and of their expectation, to the Day of the Lord. This, in turn, is entirely in keeping with the character of these epistles. They are the very beginning of the Apostle Paul's written ministry, the first break-away from the Jewish atmosphere of Acts. So Paul discloses to the Thessalonians an expectation which is entirely independent of the promises to Israel, of covenant, circumcision, the Law and the Temple in Jerusalem. There was, so far as the Thessalonians knew, absolutely nothing which must needs happen before 1 Thess 4 could be fulfilled, and there was absolutely no condition which made the promise contingent. If it had been that they were, after all, to go through the Day of the Lord, the information Paul gave concerning it was beside the point. Yet it is full of meaning if they were not to go through that Day, if their troubles, grievous as these were, would never amount to that extreme.

Throughout this discussion I have written of "Israel's expectation," following the example of my predecessors; but the point ought to be made that this term has not been plainly defined. They tell us easily that the sending of the Lord Jesus" involved the fulfilment of all the events which were to come with the revelation and unveiling of Jesus Christ, and included the restoration of all things which had been foretold by all the prophets" (F.D.T. p. 52); but do they take adequately into account what all the events and all the things are? Passages such as James 5:9; Rev. 1:7, and the messages to the seven churches are quoted as if they were part of Israel's expectation, yet elsewhere, on p. 83, it would seem to be "deliverance from the wrath to come," though nowhere does Scripture tell us of any such hope for Israel.

On the other hand, Israel's expectation includes the conclusion of the New Covenant. Is there a single scrap of evidence that this was any part of the expectation of the Thessalonians? If so, where is it, for there is no trace whatever of the idea in the two epistles, no mention of covenant, circumcision or the Law? How easily Paul could have assured the Thessalonians that the promises of God to Israel still stood, that if they with the rest of Israel turned back, received Messiah, obeyed the Law, retained their circumcision and stood by His covenant with them, He would bring them at once to the Millennial glories—how easily, if it had been true! If! But Dr. Bullinger knew as well as any of us that it was not true; though, deceived by ultra-dispensational theory, his mind was firmly shut to the facts of the situation.

Let us not lose sight of the truth that the earlier epistles—we might almost call them the missionary epistles—of the Apostle Paul, though they were written during a period of transition, definitely belong to what was then coming about, not to the state of Israel's predominance which was passing away. Previous to them, all promises were conditional—on repentance, on faith, on endurance. In these epistles promises became wholly unconditional. In Acts everything concerning Israel appears, to them, to be hanging on whether they will repent, although all concerned could and should have known that,they would not. In Paul's earlier epistles, although they were written during the period of time covered by Acts, this question has disappeared without the smallest trace. Yet these epistles begin, doctrinally, only just beyond the point where the speeches recorded in Acts leave off; and of necessity they retain here and there some of the characteristics inseparable from the Pentecostal conditions which existed in Acts. I have written" of necessity" because though these characteristics have nothing to do with Paul's ministry to the Gentiles, in itself, but depend on the residue of Israel's standing of privilege; yet, while anything remained of Israel's standing, and while the proclamation of the Kingdom and the exhortation to repentance were still being addressed to Israel first—in fact, until Pentecostal conditions had entirely disappeared—the things connected with Israel's standing still had some place. So spiritual things such as the tongues remained for a time, the Day of the Lord and the events connected therewith still seemed to many to be on the horizon of affairs, the problems of law versus grace and the need for circumcision had a more immediate urgency than now. During the period while law and covenant still seemed to the uninstructed to retain some validity, they had to be taken into account. In fact, the uninstructed needed to be instructed regarding the profound change which had already taken place; and still the need remains as great as ever. The great critical change which the ultra-dispensationalists claim took place at Acts 28:28 really took place at Matt, 13:14, 15. From that point on, what happened to Israel had become a foregone conclusion.

While the Evangel of the uncircumcision holds the field the solution of the problems associated with covenant and circumcision which is to be found in Paul's earlier epistles still stands, and for the present there is nothing more to be said; so the Prison Epistles are almost silent about them. They are wholly silent as regards systematic exposition; but they make some references, which imply, and can be understood only through, the detailed expositions which occur in the earlier epistles. Examples are death to sins in Eph. 2:1 and the righteousness which is of God by faith in Phil. 3:4-9. Surely it is not difficult to perceive that Paul's first epistles must necessarily have laid the foundation of what follows them; that this foundation must necessarily be set on to something; and, in matters such as these, that something must be the state of affairs at the time the foundation is laid?

Thus, we see the curtain rise in the Thessalonian epistles 'on the position at the starting point of Paul's ministry of the 'Gentiles who received the Evangel of the uncircumcision. Israel's affairs and hopes were apparently in the foreground. What then could be more natural than that the very first point under discussion should be the position of the Thessalonians as regards those affairs and hopes? Nor need we reason about it. First let us read the statement of the Secret in Ephesians 3, and then 2 Thess. 2:13, 14. Is there a single word in the latter which is out of place when set beside the former, or anywhere in Ephesians? Yet the latter occurs immediately after the passage in 2 Thessalonians which is supposed to prove beyond a peradventure that the Thessalonian expectation is identical with the expectation of Israel!

The following quotation shows with painful clarity the kind of special pleading to which the theory here combated drives its exponents:—"In Thessalonians we get the special revelation of the Rapture to meet the Lord in the air. We can see at once how out of place it would have been to speak of this as being 'received up in glory' (as in 1 Tim. 3:16); and of the change of our vile bodies into glorious bodies like that of Christ (as in Phil. 3)" ("Things to Come," 1907, p. 41). Whoever would imagine from this that elsewhere (F.D.T., p. 127) the "word of the Lord" in 1 Thess. 4:15 is rightly associated by Dr. Bullinger with the Secret of the Resurrection in 1 Cor. 15:51-55? What is there in this glorious secret that is in the very least degree inconsistent with Phil. 3:20, 21? Nothing whatever! The last words of the latter are a clear echo of 1 Cor. 15:27, 28.

"The Berean Expositor," Vol. 24, p. 197 says:—"If 1 Thess. 4 be my hope then 2 Thess. 2 reveals that it will not be realized until the Day of the Lord." Really it is hard to speak with proper restraint of such a statement as that! Someone had tried to delude the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord was then present. Yet, if the statement quoted above be true, that idea should not have shaken or alarmed them at all, for it would have meant that the realization of their hope was very near indeed. Evidently their faith had weakened somewhat in this respect; so it would not have helped them much simply to repeat 1 Thessalonians 4. Therefore the Apostle Paul reminds them of certain events which must take place before that Day can come. He does not say, or hint, that they will have any part in these events; in fact, if they are to go through them, 2 Thess. 2:13-17 becomes pointless.

"Yet we are asked by some teachers to believe that a special secret rapture awaited 1 Thessalonian believers, while the believers of the second epistle were to pass through the tribulation of the day of the Lord. . .. 2 Thess. 2, however, speaks of the coming of the Lord as not taking place until after the manifestation of the man of sin, and of the coming of the Lord in flaming fire." (The Berean Expositor, Vol. 21, p. 231). These words afford a notable illustration of the lengths some people will go to rather than believe the plain statements of Scripture. Nobody reading 2 Thess. 2 with the intention of learning and believing just what it says, 'no more and no less, could possibly find such statements in it. Perhaps it should be added that 1 Thessalonians knows nothing of a "secret rapture," nor of any "special" one. The word "special" is absent from the epistle, and the idea as well. Paul speaks of "we, the living who are surviving," not "the Thessalonians who are surviving"; "the dead in Christ, "not" the dead Thessalonians" (1 Thess. 4:15, 16). This prophecy cannot be dissociated from.1 Corinthians 15, nor this from the Apostle Paul's Evangel (1 Cor. 15:1). Let us then turn to Col. 1:4, 5:—". . . your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, because of the expectation reserved for you in the heavens, which you hear before in the word of the truth of the evangel. . .." How these words echo 1 Thess. 1:3! Or how 1 Thess. 1:3 echoes these words! What is "the evangel" here but the evangel of 1 Cor. 15:1? What is "the expectation" here but the expectation of 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4? Any scheme which severs these stands condemned by its artificiality.

As regards 1 Tim. 3:16, the suggestion that it has anything to do with 1 Thess. 4:15 or Phil. 3:21 takes too much for granted; but however this may be, there is no inconsistency in either of them with being" received up in glory." Nor is there in 1 Corinthians 15.

The ultra-dispensational doctrine, logically necessitated by acceptance of the mistaken Coles-Bullinger theory, that the expectation of the saints to whom the Prison Epistles were written differs in any essential from that disclosed in the Secret of the Resurrection and the word of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4, is untenable. It is not the result of unbiassed study of the Apostle Paul's writings bearing on the subject; it is based on a theory depending upon passages outside the Pauline Epistles, and connected with the affairs of Israel.


The remarkable theory which we discussed in Extended Note No.8 raises further questions as to whether we are right in translating the plural of "ethnos" by "Gentiles." In particular, we must reckon with an important paper "'Goi' and 'Ethnos'" by Miss Grace H. Todd in "The Round table" of July-August, 1947.

First, it must be said that the Author's dictum that "'Gentile,' in the singular can never be used as a translation for either 'goi' or 'ethnos' in the singular" is undoubtedly correct.

Only the plural need therefore be considered. Let us begin with an examination of those occurrences which have no definite article, but ignoring the first for a moment. The second, Luke 2 : 32, puts the word in contrast with Israel. So does the context of the next, Luke 21 : 25, and, as we continue, Acts 4:27; 13:19; 15:14, 23; 21:11, 25; 22:21; Rom. 2:14; 3:29; 9:24, 30; 11:12; 15:10; 1 Cor. 1:23; 12:2; 2 Cor. 11:26; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11. There remain only Matt. 12:21 and Rom. 4:17, 18.

Of those with the definite article, about 64 similarly exclude Israel. In some, this is clear from the way Israel is separately and explicitly referred to. In others the context shows that Israel is not to be included. Examples of the former are Matt. 20:19; Mark 10:33 and Luke 18:32, also Luke 21:24, 25; Acts 7:45; 9:15; 10:45; 11:1, 18; 13:46; etc..., including 28:28; Rom. 2:24; 15:11; Eph. 2:11, Examples of the latter are Matt. 4:15; 10:18; Rom. 2:14; 11:11, etc..; 15:9, 16, etc..; 16:4, 26; 1 Cor. 5:1; 10:20; Eph. 3:1, 6, 8; 4:17; Col. 1:27.

Let us now consider the others, Matt. 12:21 and Rom. 4:17, 18, noted above; and, with the definite article, Matt. 6:32; 12:18; 24:14; 25:32, etc.. Miss Todd argues that these include Israel. The best way to test this claim is mentally to read "Israel" in each, and see where this leads us. Read Matt. 12:18-21 thus. Perhaps it is true for Israel, but compare Matt. 12:21 with Isa. 42:4 and note that that is not what Isaiah says. Is not Matt. 6:32 more appropriate for Gentiles than for Israelites, to whom, after all, the Lord was speaking? Is the testimony of Matt. 24:14 for Israel in the same sense as it is for the Gentiles? If so, we shall have to reconsider our interpretation of some parts of Revelation. The same applies to Matt. 25:32. And is Matt. 28:19 applicable to Israel in the same sense as to the Gentiles? Rom. 4:17, 18 is certainly true of Israel; yet can we fairly claim that Israel is in view here? On the contrary, the theme of the whole passage is the justification by faith of Abraham the Gentile, and the similar justification of those who have no qualification of covenant privilege. Other passages which may be likewise regarded as doubtful are Mark 10:42; 13:10; Luke 12:30; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:16; 1 Thess. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:17; 1 Peter 4:3; Rev. 15:4; 16:19.

Thus, in most passages there is an explicit contrast between "Israel" and "ethnE"; as explicit, indeed, as that between "circumcision" and "akrobustia," One certainly excludes the other nearly everywhere. Are we, then, justified in so interpreting the apparently doubtful passages as to destroy this contrast? If we do so interpret them, are we not risking the accusation of reading our own notions into God's Word? I believe we are.

There is a definite distinction in Scripture, and a very definite contrast, between Israel and other nations. If we translate "ethnE" by "Gentiles" we are preserving this distinction. If we translate it by "nations" we are obliterating it; for neither this nor any other. word expresses it. In all the passages where Israel is obviously excluded, " Gentiles" is the only proper rendering. "Nations" should be reserved for those passages (if such exist, which has yet to be proved) where Israel is undoubtedly included.

In spite of these considerations, it will certainly be asked why we should not follow the C.V. in its strictly concordant use of "nations" throughout. Again.we can best answer by asking another question, Why not be strictly, concordant always? 'The plain answer is that it cannot be done. We cannot, for instance, always use "dismiss" for "apoluO" and "loose" for "luO." Sometimes we have to use "life" for two different Greek words "bios" and "zOE." The C.V. is rigidly concordant with" ethnE," and the result in English is misleading; for "the nations" and "the Gentiles" are not exactly the same ideas, and we must not treat them as if they were.

As already noted, it may be objected that in selecting in each passage which word to use we are injecting private: interpretations into the Scriptures. Quite so, and the C.V. is offending in this respect as much as anyone else by its rigid adherence to "nations." We really have no choice. Since in the great majority of passages there is certainly a definite: contrast, we are bound to use" Gentiles."

A further question arises why the writers of the Greek Scriptures do not use "akrobustia" (uncircumcision) to covet those nations or individuals who are not of the circumcision and who are therefore outside covenant? I think we can see the reason if we mentally substitute "the circumcision" for "Israel" or "the Jew" in all their occurrences. It just does not fit. The issue is not simply whether an individual is in covenant relationship with God, it is whether he has, become a member of the chosen People, one of the Twelve, Tribes Another word which ought to be noticed is "ethnikos," which the C.V. concordance renders by "of the nations." Here "Gentile" is certainly the word, and I suggest "Gentile people." The only occurrences are:— Matt. 5:47—Are not the Gentile people also doing the same?

Matt. 6:7—You should not be wordy, even as the Gentile people.

Matt. 18:17—Let him be to you even as the Gentile.

3 John 7—Getting nothing from the Gentile people.

In conclusion, great credit is due to Miss Todd for bringing out the important point, which nearly everyone has overlooked, that "ethnos" is neuter in Greek while the pronoun "them" in Matt. 25:32 and 28:19 is masculine. The separating and baptizing is not of nations, but of individual persons. It is a pity that a version which sets out to be concordant should fail to bring out so vital a fact.

R. B. WITHERS. Last updated 5.12.2005Last updated 5.12.2005