The Prison Epistles #1

Southern Christian University

James A. Turner


Please read all of the references. They will help you in a better understanding.

Philemon, & Ephesians 1: to 2:12.

          Tonight we begin the study of another group of Paul's epistles.  We have studied in order all the epistles that he wrote before the first Roman imprisonment which are I & II Thessalonians, I & II Corinthians, Galatians and Romans.  And now we are ready to begin with the study of the epistles that he wrote during that first Roman imprisonment.  Now let me emphasize the first Roman imprisonment, because Paul had been in prison a number of times before the first Roman imprisonment, (II Corinthians 11:23) and he wrote II Corinthians several years before this imprisonment. 


In Acts 21:27-40 we read how the Jews were seeking to kill him, and the chief captain sent “soldiers and centurions” from the castle and rescued Paul.  And then when the chief captain learned that forty Jews had bound themselves under a curse that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul, he sent seventy horsemen, two hundred soldiers, and two hundred spearmen to carry Paul by night to governor Felix at Caesarea. (Acts 23:12-13) When governor Felix heard the case he saw that Paul was not guilty (Acts 24:22-27), but he left him bound when governor Festus succeeded him. Three days after Festus came into office the Jews requested him to send Paul to Jerusalem to be tried; “laying a plot to kill him on the way.” Festus told them that he would hear the case at Caesarea. The Jews presented “many and grievous charges which they could not prove” against him at Caesarea, but Festus “desiring to gain favor with the Jews” asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem to be tried again by the Jews. Paul was a Roman citizen, and he appealed his case to Rome (Acts 25:1-12). This meant that Paul would be going to Rome without there being any charges against him, and when king Agrippa went to Caesarea, Festus wanted him to try Paul, and it pleased him to do so (Acts 25:13- 26: 32). After hearing the case King Agrippa said unto Festus, “This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar (Acts 26:32).”                          

And so Paul goes to Rome then as a prisoner without any charges against him.  During that two years imprisonment he had considerable liberty in that he was able to live in his own hired house and teach any that came to him, and during that two-year period he carried on an evangelistic campaign in Rome: having helpers going out and encouraging people to come and hear him in his “own hired dwelling”, and the book of Acts closes with that two years being completed.  "And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, with all boldness, none forbidding him (Acts 28:30-31)."  So the first Roman imprisonment was very different from the second Roman imprisonment, but please remember that that first Roman imprisonment was no means the first time Paul was imprisoned (II Corinthians 11:23). 


Now, I would like for us to begin the study of these prison epistles by first reading Philemon, and then reading Ephesians, and then Colossians.  There is strong evidence from these epistles that all three were written at the same time, and went forth at same time.  Ephesians and Colossians are very much alike, and the passages in one of the questions, gives you a lot of parallel references.  In the main the Colossian letter is just a shorter letter than the Ephesian letter, with the exception of Colossians 2:16-23 where he deals with the false doctrines that the Colossians were being confronted with. Ephesians 6:21-22 and Colossians 4:7-9 show that the three letters were carried by Tychicus together with Onesimus whom Paul was sending back to his master Philemon (Philemon1: 1).


The fact that Paul needed to send Philemon's slave Onesimus back to him occasioned the opportunity for him to send an epistle to the Ephesians and to the Colossians.  Onesimus had left his master and had ended up all the way in Rome, and somehow he came in contact with Paul, and Paul had converted him during that two years imprisonment.  It had been quite sometime after Paul had converted him before he sent him back to Philemon, because Onesimus had been a real good helper and worker for Paul; and Paul wanted Philemon to send him back because he needed him in the missionary work that he was doing.   He speaks of how that he would not just command him to do it for he wanted Philemon do it of his own free will, so that he would receive a blessing from it.  If Philemon sent Onesimus back to Paul, that would be like sending back a considerable amount of money, and Paul expected him to do that, and up and beyond that to send further help to him. 


Now let us begin the reading of this short epistle to Philemon. “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy, our brother, to Philemon, our beloved and fellow worker, and to Apphia, our sister, and to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house."  I believe one of the versions I read from reads the “church that meets in thy house”.  And, of course, that could be the case or it could be that there were a number of members of the church in the house of Philemon, which could have included slaves in his household.  In regard to Apphia, it would be logical to conclude that she, “our sister”, was Philemon's wife and, Archippus, his son, because there is a very close relationship between Colossians and Philemon. Colossians 4:9 speaks of Onesimus as, “the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you”, and 4:17 reads, “And say to Areheppus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it” And so Philemon lives at least at Colossae.  And that is the home of Archippus.  So there is a very close relationship between Archippus and Onesimus and the church at Colossae.  Of course, Onesimus was not a Christian when he left, but Paul is sending him back as a faithful child of God, and talk about an appeal in a good way, in this little book of twenty-five verses: Paul really makes a very good appeal to Philemon to continue the good work that he was doing and to receive his former slave in the very best way and to send him back to him. 

Verse two, “Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers."  Again consider how that in all the epistles of Paul, he talks about how that he is praying for those brethren that he is writing to, and he had good reason to pray for Philemon.  It looks like that Philemon was a man of considerable financial ability and he was using his material things in a good way to help others, and surely he needed to be commended for that.  "I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my prayers.  Hearing of thy love and of the faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints."  So Philemon was ready to assist other saints in whatever needs they had.  "That the fellowship of thy faith may become effectual in the knowledge of every good thing which is in you unto Christ.  For I had much joy and comfort in thy love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through thee brother."  Philemon had given them help that they needed, and it is spoken of as refreshing the hearts of the saints, and Paul was thankful. 


In verse eight, he begins to talk to him about Onesimus.  "Wherefore, though I have all boldness in Christ to enjoin thee that which is befitting, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus."  That is persuasive language; I am aged and I am a prisoner of Christ Jesus.  "I beseech thee for my child whom I have begotten in my bonds."  Of course, that just means that Paul had converted Onesimus.  "Who was once unprofitable to thee, but now is profitable to thee and to me."  What had made the difference?  He had become a child of God, and he was a changed man!  According to that statement, he was not a good slave before he left, "was once unprofitable to thee, (but now) he is profitable to thee and to me:  whom I have sent back to thee in his own person, that is, my very heart."  In other words I am sending him back, but this is like sending my heart to you; I like this man, and I need this man!  "Whom I would have kept with me, that in thy behalf he might minister unto me in the bonds of the gospel:  But without thy mind I would do nothing:  That thy goodness should not be as of necessity, but of free will."  If Paul had just written to him and said I have converted your former slave, but I am going to keep him, Philemon could have said, “that old preacher does not have a right to keep my slave.”  And if that had been the case, Philemon would not have received the blessing, but if he sends him back and then Philemon sends him back of his own free will, that would be put to his account (I Timothy 6:17-19; Philippians 4:17; III John 5-8), and that is the way Paul wants it.  "For perhaps he was therefore departed from thee for a season, that thou shouldest have him for ever."  Slavery was the economic and legal system of the day, and legally, he still belonged to Philemon.  And so Paul is saying, you may have a different attitude about the matter.  You may want to keep him as your slave forever, but he does insist that he should be more to him than a slave.  "No longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much rather to thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?"  Now I have heard that read with emphasis on, “No longer as a servant,” but no emphasis on “but more than a servant”.  It does not mean that Onesimus was not to be a servant or slave of Philemon anymore, but this man is a Christian, and there is a better and closer relationship.  " But a brother beloved especially to me, how much rather to thee both in the flesh, and in the Lord?"  In a lot of the slavery situations, the slaves were in some sense considered a part of the family, and that is what he is talking about there, “both in the flesh and in the Lord”.  In fact, it looks like that many times; the slaves went with the name of their master.  So legally he was still Philemon's slave. 


All of the passages about slave and master relationships set forth principles that would have done away with the worst things about that legal system, and would have made slavery a better situation.  Please note that these principles are to govern employer and employee relationships today (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3: 22-4:1; I Timothy 6:1-2; I Peter 2:18-20; I Corinthians 7:20-24) But it was the legal system of the day, and no where is instruction given that that legal system had to stop, but the legal system is recognized.  The Christian religion is not a rabble raising religion! Verse seventeen, "If then thou countest me a partner, receive him as myself."  Is not that a pretty good statement?  This man is a faithful man, and you receive him as you would receive me.  "But if he has wronged thee at all, or oweth thee ought, put that to mine account; I Paul write it with mine own hand, I will pay it."  That, at least, puts us on notice that Paul may have thought that he owed him something.  "That I say not unto thee that thou owest to me even thine own self besides."  Now what in the world could he be talking about there?  Philemon, you owe yourself to me!  Now, if Onesimus owes you anything, you just charge that to me, and I will repay it, but I want to remind you, that you owe to me yourself besides.  What could that mean except that Paul had converted Philemon?  And on the basis of what Paul had done for Philemon, he makes a strong appeal for Philemon to send Onesimus back. 


Verse twenty, "Yes, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord:  Refresh my heart in Christ, having confidence in thy obedience I write unto thee, knowing that thou wilt do even beyond what I say."  So Paul had confidence in Philemon that he would not only send Onesimus back to him, but he would send him some other help. Evidently Paul knew that Philemon was a man of financial ability, and he is asking for contributions, up and beyond his sending that slave to him.  And consider how Paul in a number of his epistles expresses confidence in the brethren.  When there is proper basis for confidence, we appeal to a man’s very best, when we express our confidence.    Some people can collect debts where others cannot, and one reason is because they express confidence in those who owe the debt. 


Verse twenty-two, “But with all prepare me also a lodging:  For I hope that through your prayers I shall be granted unto you."  So when Paul wrote this epistle, he was expecting sometime in the future that he would be free from that first Roman imprisonment.  And he tells Philemon to prepare him a lodging.  Again, this indicates that he had ability, and that he would go ahead and set up proper quarters for Paul to live in when he was released from prison.  "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; saluteth thee."  When we read Colossians and Ephesians, we will see that these same people are with him in the salutations of those books, which is another point that indicates that all three of them were written at the same time.  "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; saluteth thee; and so do Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen."  Just think of all the good help that Paul had in that two-year evangelist campaign.


Introduction To Ephesians

Let us turn next to the epistle to the Ephesians.  We read about the establishment of the church at Ephesus in Acts 19:1- 20:1.  Paul first went to the synagogue at Ephesus on that return part of his second missionary journey.  He went there in company with Aquilla and Priscilla, and spoke in the synagogue, and they wanted him to stay longer, but it was not Paul's will to do so at that time.  And he told them that if it was God's will, he would return to them (Acts 18:18-20). Let me emphasize that Paul on several occasions said, “If God will,” and you remember the admonition that James gives, “What is your life? For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little while and then vanishes away. For that you ought to say if the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.”  And then he said, “To him therefore that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin”.  (James 4:13-17) So James says, when you make your plans for the future, have God in your plans, and say, “If God will, we will do this or that.  So we should speak in such a way to let who ever we are talking to know that tomorrow does not turn on us, that none of us have a guarantee of tomorrow. 


The third missionary journey begins with Acts 18:23, "And having spent some time there  (at Antioch, the home church) he departed and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, establishing all the disciples."  So on his third missionary journey, he revisited all of those churches that he and Barnabas had established on that first journey.  And then in verses twenty-four through the rest of the chapter, Luke tells us how that Apollos came to Ephesus, and he was mighty in the scriptures, and he knew about Christ, but he knew only to the baptism of John.  Verse twenty-six, “he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquilla heard him, they took him unto  them and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately.”  Evidently Priscilla was the leader in that teaching in that her name is first.  Women have the right to teach in private, and she was probably a better teacher than her husband, and that is probably the reason why Luke put her first.  So this couple took Apollos a side and taught him more accurately, and later he went over to Corinth and was able to do great work at Corinth.  Aquilla and Priscilla probably did not know that those who had been baptized with John's baptism, after it was no longer valid, that they needed to be baptized again. 


When Paul went back to Ephesus, on his third journey, he found twelve disciples who thought of themselves as being in a saved condition, and he asked them, “ Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?”  And they did not know anything about the Holy Spirit, and so Paul knew that something was wrong, because when a person is baptized, he or she receives a gift of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:38).  But they did not know anything about the Holy Spirit, which showed Paul that they had not been baptized properly.  And as I mentioned the fact that Luke records about Apollos, I think we can see that he does it for a purpose to show that these disciples had been baptized with the baptism of John, after the baptism of John was no longer valid.  And if you have not read the outline on The Six Baptisms Of The New Testament, I surely hope that you will.  If you are preaching and you have not preached on that subject, let me suggest that you do so.  I would recommend that you divide it into at least two lessons and deal with it in a good detailed way.  John’s baptism was from heaven (Matthew 21:23-27) and it was for (KJV) or unto  (ASV) remission of sin (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3). The Greek word used according to Young’s Analytical Concordance is eis, which means, “with a view to.” It is the same Greek word used in Acts 2:38; and also in Matthew 26:28. Those who rejected John’s baptism rejected the counsel of God against themselves (Luke 7:30). Many in the church today do not understand about the six baptisms, as they need to understand, especially in respect to Holy Spirit baptism. 


But, anyway, these needed to be baptized again because they had been baptized with John's baptism after it was no longer valid.  John's baptism and the baptism of Christ and his apostles under the limited commission were valid until the baptism of the great commission (Mark 16: 15-16; Matthew 28:18-20) was given on that first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:36-41).  But there is not a single passage that hints, that anyone who had been baptized of John or of Christ or his apostles under that limited commission, that they were baptized again when the gospel was first preached on Pentecost; but rather that there was added unto them about three thousand souls as a result of that first sermon preached by Peter.  Well, whom were they added to?  They would have been those charter members, those who had been saved by submitting to the baptism of John or to the baptism of Christ and his apostles under that limited commission.  Jesus told his apostles that he would go before them to Galilee after his resurrection (Matthew 26: 30-32). The meeting at Galilee must have been the occasion when he appeared to above five thousand brethren at once (I Corinthians 15:6). Who would they have been?  They would have been those that had been baptized by John and by Christ and his apostles under the limited commission. 


But let us get a few details about Paul's work at Ephesus.  He taught in the synagogue at Ephesus for three months. He had considerable success in the Jewish synagogue, but as was usually the case there were those Jews that were hardened and they did not believe.  Acts 19:9 reads, "But when some were hardened, disobedient, speaking evil of the way before the multitude, he departed from them and separated the disciples reasoning daily in the school of Tyranus."  Paul taught in the school of Tyranus for two years, and that would make two years and three months, during which time all the people in Asia heard the word of the Lord both Jews and Greeks.  And God brought special miracles by the hands of Paul so that they could carry handkerchiefs or aprons from his body to the sick and they would be healed and evil spirits went out of them.  And they had a big book burning, and counted the price of it, and it amounted to fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19: 19-20).  And Luke said, “so mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed”.  


After the two years and three months, he sent Timothy and Erastus on into Macedonia, but he stayed in Asia for a while.  I Corinthians 16: 8-9 reads, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost for a great door, and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.  The riot caused by Demetrius and the silversmiths may have cut that period short (Acts 19:23- 20:1). 


We will let this suffice for an introduction to Ephesians, and now let us begin the reading and study of the epistle. The seven churches of Asia, as addressed in chapters two and three of Revelation, must have been established during that period of time.  Look on the map and see how that they could have sailed from Rome to Ephesus first, and then later travel by land to Colossae.


Chapter One

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus.” He is just describing the Christians at Ephesus in two different ways. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Note that Paul used in his epistles both grace, the Gentile form of greeting, and peace the Jewish form of greeting, and this was very appropriate because most of the churches, if not all, were made up of Gentiles and Jews.


Ephesians 1:3,  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ:  Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:  Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the beloved (in Christ).  In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace; which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence:  making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him:  unto a dispensation of the fullness of times to sum up all things in Christ, the things in heaven, and the things upon the earth; in him I say:  In whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will,  to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ.  In whom ye also having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation:  In whom having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise which is an earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of God's own possession unto the praise of his glory."  We have talked about already, how that according to the strictest form of the old Calvinist doctrine is that God foreordained and predestined those that would be saved, and those that God foreordained and predestined to be saved, would be saved.  Our brethren knew that that was false doctrine, but some of them then went to another extreme as though God had not foreordained and predetermined hardly anything, and a few of them tried to make a big difference between predestined and foreordained.  There are several passages, which teach that God did foreordain and predestine some things, no question about it!  Acts 13:48 reads, "And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God:  And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." And Romans 8:29, "For whom he foreknow, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  And whom he foreordained, them he also called:  And whom he called, them he also justified:  And whom he justified, them he also glorified."  We also have the statement made by Peter, I Peter 1:20, about Christ who was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in of these days for your sake”.  And Revelation 13:8 in the King James Version speaks of Christ as “a lamb slain before the foundation of the world”.  And I think that is a good reading of it. II Timothy 1:9 reads, “Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ jesus before times eternal. Titus 1:2 reads, “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal. In other words God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, before the foundation of the world, before God made man, He made a plan for man's salvation.  And that plan included Christ and his church.  And here in the Ephesian letter, Paul tells us that the church was in the eternal purpose of God (Ephesians 3:10-11).


Now, do these references leave any room for doubt that every person who is saved is saved in part by the foreordination and predestination of God? So a very important question: What has God foreordained and predestined concerning the salvation of man? When we put everything together the answer is:

1.     God knew that if he created man a free moral agent in process of time man would sin.

2.     Before God made man the decision was made to send Christ to become a sin offering for man, and when Adam sinned the first promise of the Christ to come was given (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:4-6; I Peter 1:20; Luke 1:26-35; Galatians 4:4-6).

3.     God also foreordained and predestined that all men could be saved by applying the cleansing blood of Christ (Hebrews 2:9, 9:15, 10:4-10; Ephesians 1:7, 2: 1-6, 5:22-32; Colossians 1:13-14; Acts 20:28).

4.     So God foreordained before he made man that all who would believe and obey Christ would be saved (John 3:14-18; Hebrews 5:8-9). And remember that God calls men through the preaching and teaching of the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:13-14).

We have quite a number of people in our society today who profess that they will say yes to Christ, but that they do not believe in the church.  Well, Jesus suffered and died for the church.  He purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).  He is going to present the church, as this letter says in chapter five, “as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  So God had foreordained and predetermined that Christ would be that perfect offering for sin.  Hebrews 10:4 reads, “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin.”  Well, that is the only way that they had of receiving temporary forgiveness, was by the offering up of animal sacrifices, but the blood of animals did not make complete atonement for their sins.  So God, verse five, “has foreordained us unto adoptions as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself according to the good pleasure of his will, in whom (Christ) we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” So no man can be saved apart from the blood of Christ, but each person must take those steps necessary to apply the blood.  The Passover lamb represented the Lamb of God (John 1:29) was to come and whose blood would make complete atonement for sin. The people of Israel were to put the blood of the lamb on the “two side posts and on the lintels” of their houses (Exodus 12:7) and God said, “When I see the blood, (applied) I will pass over you.”


See again in verse ten that God had planned to “sum up all things in Christ”, according to that eternal plan that God made before he made man.  Verse eleven, "In whom also -- we were made a heritage, having been foreordained.” Then in verse thirteen, "In whom having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise which is an earnest of our inheritance,  unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory.” That is talking about Acts 2:38, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.  And so every true baptized believer receives an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 5:32) and here the writer speaks of that as being “an earnest of our inheritance.”  When you are about to buy a piece of property and you put up earnest money, that means you are serious, and that you intend for that transaction to go through.  And so Paul is saying that this Holy Spirit of promise is “an earnest of our inheritance,” and the guarantee that we are going to receive that eternal redemption.  "Unto the redemption of God's own possession unto the praise of his glory." 


Verse 15, "For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus, which is among you and the love which you have toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."  Some have reasoned that Paul could not be the author of this epistle because he stayed at Ephesus for three years, and how could he be speaking of having heard of their faith.  Well, he had been away from Ephesus for a number of years, from about 56 A.D. to about 62 A.D. Do we not hear of things that bring joy to us, or sorrow, from people who we have been separated from for several years?  And so I think that is the meaning here, that Paul had just received news about the church at Ephesus and so he commends them for their faith and love.  "For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus, which is among you and the love which you have toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation and a knowledge of him:  Having the eyes of your heart enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  He put all things in subjection under his feet, gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth in all." Paul wanted the Ephesian brethren to have “the eyes of their hearts enlightened,” which means that he wanted them to have a fuller understanding of the exceeding greatness of the power of God.  Verse 20, "Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." 


These verses show that the doctrine that Christ is going to come back to earth and reign on the earth for a thousand years, is ridiculous.  This passage says he is at the right hand of God,  “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: Why would he want to leave that great place of power at the right hand of God and come and reign upon an earthly throne?  The Premillennial doctrine is a ridiculous doctrine! The Bible teaches very clearly that, Christ will reign, until he has conquered all enemies, and the last enemy that he shall conquer is death; and then he will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (I Corinthians 15:24-26; Hebrews 1:13). I am really perplexed about the way that some of our brethren are making false arguments on Matthew 24:29-35, and the parallels in Mark 13:24-31 and Luke 21:25-26).  Any way you look at it, that doctrine is false.  You might as well throw the New Testament out the window if you go along with that doctrine. 


Harold Lindsey in his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, and other false teachers like him, are going to have Christ come back to earth; and the Jewish system is going to go back into effect again with animal sacrifices.  Well, think of that in comparison to the epistle to the Hebrews.  The primary theme of the book is to show that Christ and the New Testament is far superior to the Old Testament, and that animal blood could not make atonement for sin (Hebrews 10:4).  But yet they are going to have him come back to earth and establish a system that no person could be saved by. 


David did not actually have a throne! The throne was God’s throne (I Chronicles 29:23). It is spoken of as David’s throne in the same sense that the law is spoken of as the law of Moses! The prophets continued to speak of how Christ would be the one to reign on God’s throne (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:13-19; Isaiah 9:6-8; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 6:12-13; Jeremiah 22:28-30; Matthew 1:12; Luke 1:31-35; Acts 2:29-36). All of the Jewish people would have rejoiced if Jesus had accepted the devil’s temptation to be an earthly king (Matthew 4:8-10) including his apostles (Acts 1:5-6), but Jesus did not come to be an earthly king (John 18:36); and when the Jews were ready to force him to be an earthly king he fled from their presence (John 6:14-15). So Christ is now reigning on God’s throne, which is spoken of as David’s "for above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named.  Not only in this world, but also that which is to come, and gave him to be head over all things to the  church which is his spiritual body,  the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” So the church is the spiritual body of Christ as taught in Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4; Colossians 1:18 and other passages.   


Chapter Two

"And you did he make alive, when you were dead through your trespasses and sins."  So they had been made alive.  They were spiritually dead because of their trespasses and sins, but Christ had made them alive.  How had Christ made them alive?  Through Paul teaching the gospel to them about what Christ had done, and they obeyed the gospel.  Please remember what Jesus said about this spiritual resurrection (John 4:24-25. "Wherein you once walked according to the course of this world."  And that is what every accountable person does before he obeys Christ, he is walking according to the course of this world (Romans 3:23, 8:5-9) “according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience."  Verse three, "among whom we also once live in the lusts of our flesh."  Every accountable person before he becomes a Christian has gone the way of the lust of the flesh,  "doing the desires of the flesh and of mind; and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."  They were going the way that warranted the wrath of God upon them.


Verse four, “But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead, through our trespasses made us alive together with Christ, by grace have you been saved, and raised us up with him and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus for by grace have you been saved through faith."  A few decades ago there were those that taught as though a person could be saved by grace only.  Our brethren knew that that was not right, and so some went to the other extreme, as though grace does not have much part in our salvation.  But no man is saved apart from God's mercy, love and grace.  And, again, we will read how that Christ is the gift of God (Romans 6:23).  "By grace have you been saved and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ:  That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace have ye been saved through faith."  Grace is God's unmerited favor, which is to be coupled with faith on our part in order for us to be saved by his grace.  “and that not of yourselves,  it is the gift of God;"  So salvation is a gift of God, but it is received on the conditions that we believe on him and obey him (John 3:18-19, 3:36; Hebrews 5:8-9).  "Not of works, that no man should glory for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."  Again in that planning of, how God foreordained and predestined to save men, that they would hear and obey Christ, and further that he has foreordained that we should follow after good works.  Verse ten, “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.”  What about the person who refuses to walk in those good works?  Will he be saved at the end of the way?  The Bible teaches to the contrary, that we must be ready unto those good works that God has afore-prepared that we should walk in them.


Verse eleven, "Wherefore remember, that once ye the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the common wealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."  Do you remember how in the latter part of the first chapter of Romans we read three times that God gave up, the Gentile people as a people.  And they went and did their own kind of wicked and evil things.  They were alienated from the common wealth of Israel in part because the law was not given to the Gentile people.  Does the latter part of verse twelve mean that there was no way that those Gentile people could be saved? No!  He is talking about as long as they were going the way of sin.  The Old Testament shows that God was still concerned about them.  God sent Jonah to that great Gentile city at Nineveh to preach to them that short message, “yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown”.  And that unwilling foreign evangelist wanted the people of Nineveh to be destroyed, and he was very disappointed when God did not destroy them (Jonah 4:1-11) but they repented, and God had mercy on them.    Remember that Jesus said, “The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment and judge this generation for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold a greater than Jonah is here (Matthew 12:41).”