It is obvious from this statement that Paul was writing to Gentiles. This great new glory consisted of "Christ among the Gentiles." If the word saints here refers only to Jewish believers, why should God wish to make known to them specially what were the riches of the glory of this secret among the Gentiles?
One would think that if all or most of the "saints" mentioned by Paul were in reality Hebrews, he would have called three of them who are named in Col. 4:10-11 by such a term. But Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus-Justus he calls simply his "fellow-workers," who were his only helpers "out of Circumcision," for the Kingdom of God. It is most remark able that Paul could not name any more Hebrew "saints" who helped him.
In a booklet which I published at the end of the year 1939, called "Is the Concordant Version Reliable?" appears a criticism of the C.V. rendering of Eph. 1:12. I referred to a book by John Rutherfurd, B.D., of Renfrew, "St. Paul's Epistles to Colossae and Laodicea" (1908). It is commonly understood that the Epistle known as Ephesians was really the Epistle to Laodicea. He shews in columnar form the textual resemblances between the two Epistles, both in Greek and in English. Against Eph. 1:12-13 he sets Co1. 1:5, "because of the expectation which is reserved for you in the heavens, which you hear before in the word of the truth of the Gospel." Compare Eph. 1:12-13, "who have been before-expecting in the Christ. In whom you also, hearing the word of the truth, the Gospel of your salvation. .." There is evidently a strong connection between the two passages.
Now the first twelve verses of Eph. 1 are by various authorities read as referring to Jewish believers. The next verse, 13, is understood to refer to Gentiles, "In whom you also. . .." But if Co1. 1:5 tells us substantially what we have in Eph. 1:12, and if Co1. 1:5 does, like the rest of that Epistle, refer to Gentiles, we should require to reason that Eph. 1:12 does not specially refer to Jews.
It is of some importance to discover, therefore, to whom the Ephesian Epistle is actually addressed. Are the first twelve verses addressed to Jews, while the remainder of the Epistle is addressed to Gentiles? This is surely most unlikely. In v. 13 of the first chapter, the word you is emphatic. This has been contrasted with the words we in verses 4, 7 and 12; us in verses 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9; and our in verse 11. But what of the word you in the second verse? To whom does it refer? Can it be a different party from the you in verse 13? Might we not read verse 13 thus, "In whom even you (people of Laodicea or Ephesus) . . . ." thus calling special attention to the various ecclesias which appear to have received this encyclical Epistle.
The first twelve verses then, would be a general statement of the new blessings which had reached the Gentile ecclesias, and thus Paul used the words, we, us, and our, in addition to the word you in v. 2. From ch. 1:13 onwards there seems to be a more individual message for each of the ecclesias reached.
The Rev. J. Llewelyn Davies (on Ephesians) says of verse 12: "We who have first hoped in Christ: There seems to be no sufficient reason for thinking of Jewish, as distinguished from Gentile, believers; or for making a distinction between those who believed a little earlier and those who believed a little later. We who have hoped in Christ before—or as a step—to our entering upon the blessedness provided for us." Many believers had a hope in Christ years before the Secret of Ephesians 3 was publicly divulged. They had an expectation, but certain aspects of it were still obscure.
Other commentators take the opposite view, that down to verse 12 Paul is referring to Jews only. These include Irons, Eadie, Armitage Robinson, Miller, Wordsworth, Ellicott and Alford, but some of these authorities seem rather uncertain. Eadie commences with the view that the Jews are not necessarily the "saints," but suddenly accomplishes a complete volte face to the common view.
Here is a quotation from "Unsearchable Riches," of September, 1928, page 270, which Mr. Adlai Loudy, of the Truth Research Fellowship Inc. of Minneapolis, has copied in his Lesson No. 15, "Who are 'the Saints' of 'the Scriptures?"
Quite true, something has been taken for granted. It is here taken for granted that "it applies to Paul and those of the Circumcision who received his message." Just where is this stated? lf in the first twelve verses there is no direct mention of the nations, where is there any direct mention of the Circumcision? And where in verse thirteen is there any direct mention of "you—the Uncircumcision, the nations"? And why in the list of pronouns given above, is the word you in verse 2 omitted?
All the statements from verse one down to verse twelve are true of Gentile believers and Hebrew believers equally. But to accord to Jewish believers any sort of priority, or a higher degree of holiness or saintship would go entirely contra to the Joint-Body standard found in Eph. 3:6.
lf the words we and us and our, down to verse twelve refer to Hebrew saints, what about the word our in verses 14 and 17? In v. 19 Paul mentions also "for us who are believing." Why should this mean Jews?
It would appear that the whole matter of the various pronouns used has been dominated too much by the use of the emphatic you in v. 13.
In the N.T. the word is used for ordinary men and women, scattered general1y in small ecclesias within the Roman Empire. Any man or woman who believed in Christ, whatever his or her rank or abilities was a saint. The word did not mean a specially outstanding believer, as it has come to mean with us.
After Pentecost there took plare a significant and rather startling change. Believers were found who used the term "holy one" of themselves.
This made a very big change from the usage in the four Gospels, which shew forty-two occurrences of the word. Of these twenty-five refer to the Holy Spirit; three to angels; two to the holy city and two to the holy One; one to the holy Father, and one each to holy place, man, thing, name, prophet, covenant, holy to the Lord, what is holy, and one only to "saints" (Matt. 27:52). And these "saints" were dead ones who arose, "holy ones," who went into the holy City.
The Lord himself uses the word only three times (Matt. 7:6; 24:15; }Mark 8:38). He is called holy only three times in the Gospels, twice by a demon and once before His birth. The Lord did not come to assert His own holiness. Apart from His common usage of the title, "Son of Mankind," He left men and women to discover for thmselves who and what He was.
In the so-called Acts the term "saints" comes quietly into use to describe believers in their daily life (9:13, 32, 41; 26: 10). Paul, in his Epistles, uses the term about forty times "as the Christians normal name for themselves." In the Epistles of John, the writer says "we" when he means Christians. James does not mention saints, while the use of the word in Hebrews, Peter and Jude is remarkably rare. In the Revelation we find the word "saints" thirteen times, used chiefly of suffering saints.
To sum up, Paul's use of the word is related chiefly to human beings who believed in the Christ, while the Hebrew usage was chiefly related to things. In these "holy" men and women, righteousness is not the origin of their holiness, but its result. If this does not happen, it is not holiness. Through the operation of the Holy Spirit, every "saint" sets off on the road to become like God, which simply means that in some small degree he or she becomes godly or godlike.
Dr. Rydet Smith seems to suggest that the words rendered as "holy" do not refer so much to separateness, or being set apart, as to fellowship with God. He mentions a book by one Otto, called "The Idea of the Holy." Primitive man distinguished three kinds of beings whom he might encounter during life; other human beings; things; and something or someone who could neither be classed with men or things. This someone was reckoned to be less unlike a man than a thing. He could produce a very eerie feeling in man, bringing on what Otto calls the mysterium tremendum (tremendous mystery), which fascinated and yet frightened men. Just as God is separate from man, though He acts upon him; man does not want to be altogether separate from God, though he fears too close a link. Therefore the idea of separation carne to be dominant in attempts to explain the word "holy."
"God is faithful, through whom you were called into His Son's Fellowship, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1. Cor. 1:9). It is this fellowship which produces our holiness. It was this fellowship which turned sinners into "saints" in Paul's day. No Jew could then boast of his circumcision as giving him religious supremacy or a special nearness to God. Mr. Loudy, on page 19 of his Lesson 15, states that "The old national covenant of 'circumcision in flesh, made by hands,' which constituted Israel a 'holy nation,' and 'saints,' will not suffice to 'hallow' or 'holyize' them for this new calling and realm" (i.e. Phil. 3:20, etc.). That is to say, saved Israelites had no special claim to be called "saints" (hagioi). We can therefore hardly admit that the expression, "the saints," in Paul's Epistles, "denotes the Circumcision of the holy nation of Israel in contrast with Gentiles, the Uncircumcision, as all Paul's earlier Epistles lead on to the glorious hope contained in Phil. 3:20-21 and Eph. 1.
Mr. Loudy asserts that those who are termed "saints" in Eph. 1:1 were definitely "saints" before they became believers in Christ Jesus, "for the verse says, 'to all the saints who are also believers in Christ Jesus.'" This is quoted from the Concordant Version of 1944. Now Alford has shewn that the omission of the Definite Article before the word "believers" (pistois) shews that the same persons are designated by both adjectives. There is not one word to prove that these saints were at one time unbelieving saints. No time is mentioned. Did I say of myself that I am Scottish, and also British, must this mean that I was Scottish before I was British? Ordinary translations read here, "to the saints that are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus." Some add the word "all," and some omit "in Ephesus."
Just take a look at the beginning of the Colossian Epistle, where Paul and Timothy write to "the in-Colosse saints and faithful brethren in Christ." It would be just as reasonable to read here, "saints also faithful brethren," as the Greek word kai signifies and, also and even. Saints can be consecrated ones, but also faithful, and brethren. Had Paul and Timothy inserted a second Definite Article before "faithful brethren," that would have meant two different classes of people.
Mr. Loudy also states on page 9, of Eph. 1:1 "The verse definitely excludes Gentiles, or we must be prepared to recognize that they also were "hallowed," "set apart to God," and therefore' saints' before they became believers in Christ Jesus!" But the second verse is addressed to "you," which is next found in verse 13, where it definitely refers, we are informed, to Gentiles. Besides, we may not overlook verse 4, which says, "we to be holy and flawless in His sight." Literally the Greek puts it thus, "to-be us holy-ones," where the pronoun and the noun are in the accusative case, making the statement mean something like "to make us holy-ones and flawless-ones." These "saints" were not saints by descent or by nature. Even were they "set apart" because they belonged to Israel, they were certainly far from being flawless. If they were already both "saints" and flawless, this would imply, surely, that they were already also believers, or faithful, or rather, adherents.
Therefore I do not think Mr. Loudy is correct to call the title of the Ephesian Epistle "Paul to All the Saints and Gentiles who are Believers in Christ Jesus, or Paul to Christ's Body-Ecclesia."
Mr. Loudy finds that "Nowhere in the Scriptures do we ever read the expression 'the saints of the nations or Gentiles'." Doubtless this actual way of putting it is not found. But there are at least two passages which mean the same thing. Co1. 1:26-27 has something to say on this point, in connection with the Secret: "yet now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God wishes to make known what are the riches of the glory of this Secret among the Gentiles, which (Secret) is: Christ among you, the expectation of the glory." Was Paul here making known to Hebrew saints what he calls a Secret which God wishes to be made known among the Gentiles? Paul was specially called to go to the Gentiles. It would be an extraordinary situation did he write most of his Epistles to Hebrew saints, and very little to Gentile saints.
The other passage is Romans 1:6-7. Paul says he got grace and apostleship for faith-obedience among all the Gentiles. . . . . " among whom are you also, called ones of Jesus Christ, to all those (called ones), being in Rome, love able ones of God, called saints." Therefore, this ecclesia consisted of Gentiles, who were "saints." They were definitely part of "the saints of the Gentiles."
Eph. 3:8-9 is another passage which sets forth most plainly Paul's ministry: "To me, the less-than-the-least of all saints, is this grace given: To the Gentiles to evangelize the untraceable riches of the Christ, and to enlighten all—what is the administration of the Secret which has been concealed from the ages in the God who creates all things."
This does not make one think that Paul did much evangelizing, in his latter years at least, among Jews. If even to-day Christian Jews find it extremely difficult to follow Paul, it must have been very much more difficult in Paul's lifetime, before the nation was scattered. The Hebrews Epistle seems to point to the likelihood of great numbers of Jews giving up their faith.
I hope to deal with a few more points in another article.
Another list of 40 passages deals with citations from Paul's Epistles, and Mr. Loudy states that "Careful examination of these 40 occurrences will reveal that Paul definitely and specifically used the expression, the saints, 32 times to exclusively designate Israelites, the 'Circumcision in flesh, made by hands,' in contrast with believing Gentiles." Then he states with reference to the above 21 and 32 cases, "Should not this preponderating weight of evidence restrain us from forcing believing Gentiles into the remaining 8 indefinite occurrences?"
Unfortunately, the eight exceptions do not appear to be named, so one is left guessing which they are. Perhaps Rom. 1:7 is an exception. At least it does not mention "the saints," but refers to "called saints." On his page 17 Mr. Loudy misrepresented this verse thus, "all the called saints who are in Rome, beloved by God." There is no Definite Article before the word "called." See the conclusion of Part 1 for my translation. The Definite Article in each case is vital to Mr. Loudy's argument.
The next example is erroneous also. Rom. 8:27 states that God's Spirit is pleading for saints (not the saints); that is to say, pleading for that kind of person. Mr. Loudy has wisely bracketed the word the.
Nor is there a Definite Article in 1. Cor. 1:2, which mentions "called saints,"—that kind of person, not the saints in general. Eph. 3:8 also omits the Article, "less-than-theleast of all saints," as does verse 3 of ch. 5, "as is becoming to saints,"—that kind of person. 1. Tim. 5:10 does not mention "the saints," but puts it thus: "if saints' feet she washes."
Mr. Loudy's theory is that Gentile believers are hallowed, holy, set apart or sanctified, and thus they are "saints," but they do not belong to the "Circumcision in flesh, Israelites," who are exclusively designated THE Saints. That is to say, "The Saints" are never Gentiles, though Gentiles can be "saints."
Now this is going to make it very difficult to find Gentile saints in Paul's Epistles. In Eph. 2:11 Paul definitely calls the Ephesians (the saints or believers in ch. 1:1) "YOU, the Gentiles in flesh, who are being termed Uncircumcision by those being termed Circumcision in flesh." That is to say, Paul was not addressing the Circumcision. Verse 12 provides very strong corroboration. Words could certainly not be more specific and clear.
Strange too it seems in Eph. 1:15 that Paul gives thanks: on "having heard of the faith on your part in the Lord Jesus, and the love which is unto all the saints," if these Ephesians exhibited love only or specially to Hebrew Circumcision believers. Peculiar too it must have seemed to these Circumcision" saints" in the Ecclesia at Rome to find themselves classed as common Gentiles, "for faith-obedience among all the Gentiles. . . . among whom are YOU also. . . . called saints" (Rom. 1:5-7). See also verse 13 (as among the rest of the Gentiles).
Out of Mr. Loudy's citations from Paul's Epistles, shewing the expression "the saints," eleven are from the Corinthian Epistles. One of these, from 1. Cor. 1:2, is "the ecclesia of God which is in Corinth, called saints, hallowed in Christ Jesus." All the other ten citations contain the words "the saints," so presumably Mr. Loudy means that these Epistles were addressed to the Circumcision Jews. In fact, on his page 17, where he quotes 1. Cor. 1:1-2, he writes, "This Scripture confirms the fact of truth that the ecclesia of God in Corinth was primarily comprised or made up of called saints of the holy nation of Israel (Acts 18:8-11)." Here we are informed that Crispus, chief of the synagogue, and his house hold, believed. Yet we have further information about the Jews in general in verse 12, where we learn that "the Jews with one accord assaulted Paul."
Now it is well known that many of these Corinthians were idolaters. The words for idol, idolatry, idolaters, occur in the Corinthian Epistles sixteen times out of a total of thirty-one times in the whole N.T. It is also well known that after the Captivities of the Israelites idolatry did not flourish among them. They had learnt that lesson. These Corinthian saints could not have been Israelites.
In his Lesson 20, at page 21, Mr. Loudy, writing upon 1. Cor. 14:34, says this verse
If this is a fact, I think proof ought to have been given.
As I had brought forward 1. Cor. 12:2 as definite proof that Paul called the Corinthians "Gentiles," Mr. Loudy responded by condemning the translators and commentators for making mistakes, and gave his own correct rendering "for clarity and sound understanding" as follows: "You are aware that when as, ever you were led of the Gentiles, you were being led away to the voiceless idols." He then adds, "And the soundness of this translation is confirmed by the 'anathema Jesus' that follows in v. 3, which is recognized by all commentators as being , inapplicable to heathen or Gentiles, but was the common expression uttered against Jesus by His bitter enemies of His own people during His life on earth. . ." Mr. Loudy then quoted 2. Cor: 11:2 (I betroth you to One Man) as becoming very meaningful, "for Christ is the Messiah to Israel, and also Bridegroom to saved Israel, the Bride. The Ecclesia of God not only included the called saints, the Bride of the Lamb, but also the called Gentiles, 'a people for His name,' 'those invited to the wedding of the Lamb' (Rev. 19:9), to 'rejoice with His people' in the Kingdom (Rom. 15:8-12)."
I fear that Mr. Loudy has taken far, too much for granted. There is too much of the non sequitur. My next move was to copy out many renderings of 1. Cor. 12:2. The solution to the meaning was found in setting into parenthesis three Greek words (hOs an Egesthe), rendered in the Concordant Version by "as ever you were led," and in the New World Version as "just as you happened to be led." Cunnington, always a cautious and observant translator, has, "Ye know that when ye were Gentiles, ye, as haply ye were led, were led away unto those dumb idols." As the Concordant Version could not render as "you were nations," which would be absurd, it rendered by "you were (of the) nations." Mr. Loudy, observing the two words "of the" but not observing that they were in thin type, as not being in the Greek, found a method of altering the position of these words, while retaining the words "of the." The Greek text is extremely clear and simple, literally: "When Gentiles ye-were, toward the idols—the voiceless—(as ever ye-were-led) being-led-away." Moffatt, as in other cases, shirks a literal translation. Rotherham (1872) puts in a parenthesis the words "howsoever ye were being led." Godet says these words are parenthetical.
The effort to prove the Corinthians to be non-Gentiles has failed completely. The bulk of them seem to have been idolaters. If Jews were addicted to idolatry after the Captivities, we should be given proofs thereof.
As for "anathema is Jesus" (1. Cor. 12:3), Godet has shewn how applicable such an expression would, be in the case of Gentiles. Principal Edwards' on First Corinthians says that Pliny's Letter shews that to "curse Christ" was enjoined as the final test by which to determine whether a man was a heathen or a Christian.
Regarding 1. Cor. 14:34, "as the Law also is saying" Godet shews that this refers to Gen. 3:16, which states, literally, "thy husband. . . . shall rule within thee." This "Law" was much older than Hebrew Law.
Now 1. Cor. 10:32 says, "And be becoming unstumbling ones to Jews, as well as to Greeks, and to the ecc1esia of God." These Corinthian Gentile saints were part of this ecc1esia of God (1. Cor. 1:2; 2. Cor. 1:1), while 1. Cor. 11:16 mentions "the ecclesias of God" in such a way that they must have included the Corinthian ecclesia. Verse 22 of ch. 11 also makes it very clear that the Corinthians belonged to the ecclesia of God: "Or, the ecclesia of God are you despising?" Therefore; Paul's reference to "Jews" (as such) and to "Greeks" (as such) means that they were not members of God's ecclesia in Corinth.
Again, in 1. Cor. 11:20-26, in connection with the Lordly Supper or Dinner, it would have been quite superfluous to reprove the Corinthians in the manner Paul did, had they been Jews. No Jew would ever have partaken of the Passover in an unseemly fashion. To a considerable extent the Gentile Corinthians were undisciplined and disorderly.
Mr. Loudy has insisted that in the first century Jewish believers predominated exceedingly over Gentile believers, the ratio of the Gentiles being "extremely small, very rare." But had that been true, why were there so few Jews who evangelized the Gentiles? Why do we hear of so few Jews who evangelized their own race? It is quite true, according to Acts 21:20, "how many tens of thousands there are among the Jews, of those having been believing, and all zealots for the Law all along." But we must also read the next verse, which is, literally: "Now they were instructed concerning you (i.e. Paul) that apostacy you are teaching all the Jews among the Gentiles from Moses. . .." Here the first Note in the Concordant Version on v. 24 should be read. These Jews had been believing, but for how long? The book of Acts clearly traces the steady apostacy of Israel and the steady spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles. One would think that those myriads of believing Jews must have exerted a very great influence. Did the existence of such a large body influence the Dispersion? If Rome was considered to be a City important enough for Paul to visit, so that he might sound the chief Jews therein, just what did these Jews know regarding those myriads of believing fellow-countrymen? "Concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is being contradicted" (or, getting itself gainsaid; Middle Voice). Seemingly they knew nothing whatever about the existence of those myriads of believing Jews.
Regarding 2. Cor. 11:2, C.V. "For I betroth you to one Man, to present a chaste virgin to Christ," mentioned above, this has nothing whatever to do with Israel as the "Bride." Hebert's translation has a fine Note: "I am jealous of the influence which these false teachers are exercising over you. Ye are my people. I brought you to Christ to be His: and I fear they are drawing you from Him, as Satan by craft drew Eve from God." The Concordant Version Note should also be studied. The Greek verb rendered "betroth" (armozO) is given the meanings join, fit, match together; adjust, adapt; compose, besides betroth, unite or join in marriage. The verb form here used is in the Middle Voice, meaning that Paul was doing something of his own accord or on his own account. Therefore his action was a purely private move. The New World Version reads: "For I personally promised you in marriage to one husband."
Reverting to 2. Peter 3:15-16, Paul is not known definitely to have written any of his Epistles to Israelites. Peter, indeed, does say that "our loveable brother Paul writes to you," the same people to whom Peter was now writing. But what Peter does not say is that Paul had written Epistles to them. Peter also refers to all the Epistles of Paul, in which were some matters hard to apprehend. Now if Peter found them hard to understand, it is much less likely that the Dispersion Jews would understand them. Peter does not even say "there are some things hard to understand;" he says "there is some things. . . .." This good Greek idiom signifies that Peter classed all Paul's difficult points as one single great difficulty. Seemingly he was unable to specify the individual points, so he took the whole as being hard to follow. How then could any ordinary Jew who was not an Apostle follow Paul's teaching?
In a third article I hope to reproduce the opinions on the above matters of Professor Godet, as shewn in his volume, "Introduction to the New Testament," without which opinions our study would be quite incomplete.
The result of omitting "in Ephesus" is that some confusion arises, and various awkward readings have been suggested. One suggestion is that we should read "to the saints who are also believers," taking the word saints to refer to the divine call, and the word believers to refer to the acceptance of that call. But in that case, would not Paul have used the word called (klEtois), and not saints (hagiois), for the word saints always implies the acceptance of the call? Another suggested "Saints and thereby participating in the promises made to faith in Jesus Christ." But here there is nothing to make one think of the promises. Another view was, "To the saints (of the Old Covenant) who are also believers in Jesus Christ." This, however, would imply that the great majority of the readers were of Jewish birth, which, according to Godet, the epistle does not confirm. A further explanation is, "To the saints who are at the same time true believers," that is to say, Pauline believers. To this Godet replies, "But in an epistle that was to draw closer the union between believers how would Paul begin by thus opposing them to each other?" Yet another view is, "To the saints that are at the same time real believers," that is, faithful and persevering believers. But could Paul think of saints who are not true believers?
To illustrate the uncertainty, let me quote the various
readings of the Concordant Version:—
1914: to the saints who are (in Ephesus) and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
1925: to all the saints who are believing also in Christ Jesus.
1930: to all the saints who are, and believe in Christ Jesus.
1944: to all the saints who are also believers in Christ Jesus.
Needless to say, other versions shew quite a variety of readings.
Godet accordingly came to the conclusion that the words "in Ephesus" should be maintained in the text, but in this case, their removal from the most ancient authorities must be somehow explained. It must also be explained how Marcion could have entitled the epistle to the Laodiceans, if his copy contained the words "in Ephesus." Godet says not only cannot this epistle have been addressed to the Ephesians alone, but it cannot have been addressed to them at all. And no more can it have been addressed to the Laodiceans alone. Therefore it must have been destined for a whole circle of churches in the interior of Asia Minor, which Paul had neither founded nor visited. In Col. 2:1 we learn of several Phrygian churches that were in this respect in the same case as Colossae. Paul mentions his struggle "for your sakes, and for those in Laodicea. And whoever have not seen my face in flesh, that their hearts may be consoled. . . ." (I am obliged to punctuate thus, as the word for "whoever" is nominative—hosoi, not genitive). Among these churches were found Laodicea, and after Col. 4:13, Hierapolis, and no doubt others. Thus the absence of any salutation and of any special and personal indication of the contents of the epistle, can be explained. This also explains ch. 6:21, "that you also may know my affairs." This indicates that Paul alludes to other readers who would also receive the epistle through Tychicus. It also explains the address, "to Laodiceans" in the Canon of Marcion. The copy carried by Tychicus had to be communicated by him to each church in turn, or copied at Ephesus in as many copies as would be necessary. The last one in turn was Laodicea, where Marcion evidently found a copy. The strange fact of a salutation addressed to the Laodiceans in the Colossian epistle is thus naturally explained, since the circular epistle had an altogether general character.
Godet insists on the terms of the commission given by Paul to the Colossians in ch. 4:16, that they were to procure the epistle coming "out of Laodicea," and not an epistle to the Laodiceans.
From the foregoing it would therefore arise, if the "Ephesian" epistle was an encyclical passed around various churches in Asia Minor, that the problem of the "you" in Eph. 1:2 and 13 is more complicated than it seemed. Yet the words in v. 13, "in whom you also" might refer to, say, six other ecclesias. That is, the emphasis here might have been intended to cover each ecclesia separately, instead of pointing out a contrast between Gentiles and previously mentioned Hebrew "saints."
Accordingly I suggest that up to verse 12 we have Paul's preamble, stating in general terms the blessings of the entire Church of God, denoted by the words we, us, our; while verse 13 brings in the various recipients of the present epistle or encyclical. When Paul says in verse 2 of the first chapter, "Grace to you and peace," the "you" cannot be a different party from the "you" in verse 13. Every statement between verse 3 and verse 12 is altogether true today of all Gentile saints of God, just as these statements are true of all Hebrew saints who belong to the Body of Christ. These ten verses emphasize the new unity between Gentile and Hebrew saints, expressed in the pronouns we, us, and our.
If, indeed, in these ten verses the words we, us and our, do refer only to Jews, would it not sound as though Paul was rather selfish, in thus almost boasting of his own race? But if in fact he is dilating upon the blessings of Gentiles and Jews, he is glorying in the new Divine revelation.
Another important point which does not appear to have been observed is that the verbs are almost all in the timeless Aorist form, and not in the Past tense, as one would have expected, had Paul been referring to members of God's Ancient Holy People.
Godet considers that the Ephesian epistle was designed for readers who were Christians of Gentile birth, and says this follows incontestably from ch. 1:13, "where they are opposed by the pronoun you to the believing Jews among whom the author ranks himself." He then states that De Soden claimed that the epistle was addressed to "Gentile-Christian Christendom in general." This is not unlikely. There is no hint whatever in the first twelve verses of ch. 1 of Jews. Godet does not say or claim that the epistle was addressed to any Jews, but adds that "The presence of a Jewish minority is not thereby excluded." Elsewhere he says the readers were "heathen."
Colossians is addressed to "the saints and believing brethren," that is, to Israelites plus certain brethren. Yet ch. 1:27 shews Paul making known" the riches of the glory of this secret among the Gentiles." What does sound strange is that those saints of ch. 1:1 have love "for all the saints," but are not said to have any love for mere "saints," that is, Gentiles (1:4). Surely this is an irregularity.
The Thessalonians are not described as saints, but in 1. Thess. 2:14-15 it is made evident that they were not Jews.
Perhaps the most significant fact is that the Hebrews Epistle, also that of James and those of Peter and John, are not addressed to saints at all. One would certainly have expected them to be addressed to "the saints," of all people. Admittedly, James writes to the Twelve Tribes, while 1. Peter is addressed to the Dispersion. Jude writes to "the called," but mentions "the saints" in verse 3.
Much has been built upon Eph. 2:19, "Consequently, then, you are no longer stranger-guests and sojourners, but are fellow-citizens of the saints, and members of God's family." It is false and misleading here to read "fellow-citizens with the saints," and quite ungrammatical. Godet has clearly pointed out that Paul did not mean here that Christianity was only "perfected judaism." He quotes another as emphasizing that "The reconciliation (between Gentiles and Israelites) does not take place on Jewish ground." The Churches to which Paul was writing were joint-citizens of the saints everywhere. The status of both Gentiles and Israelite believers had been raised; both now became "members of God's family," something quite new.
But how could there exist real unity in that Family if the jewish members were still recognized as being in a special manner God's Holy People, the saints? They possessed now no priority; no, not even in Eph. 1:12. Hebrew believers who recognized Paul's ministry to the Gentiles were fellow-citizens of all the saints everywhere. The man who wrote Phil. 3:4-9 could make no claim to be one of the saints, in the sense that such people were Israelites. Indeed, he becomes "less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8).
I must again emphasize that the fact that the various "Ephesian" ecclesias had already heard of the stewardship of the grace of God given to Paul, including the Secret made known to Paul by way of revelation, signifies clearly that Israel's supremacy was now gone. How then could they still be God's Holy Nation? They were no longer the single Nation specially separated and set apart for Jehovah. At some time before the date of the close of Acts, "this salvation-work (or, salvation-operation; sOtErion, not the abstract sOtEria) was dispatched to the Gentiles, and they will go on hearing it for themselves" (Acts 28:28). Here the word for "was dispatched" (or, sent) is apestalE, generally known as a Second Aorist Passive form. The occurrences of this form at Matt. 15:24, Luke 1:19; 1:26; 4:43 will shew clearly that the action was in the past, and I do not think that any version of the Scriptures will be found which makes the action to be in the present. Yet certain present day ultradispensationalists find it convenient to corrupt the sense into a present tense, so as to harmonise with their teachings.
If any reader of The Differentiator cares to submit clear and logical proof that the expression "the Saints" signifies Israelites, I shall be most glad to study it.
A.T. Last updated 10.10.2005