Saturday, September 14, 2019

Was Paul’s ministry among the nations ever in accord with a “Jewish, prophetic economy”? (Part 2)

When did the “administration of the secret” begin?

Concerning the administration that was given to Paul for the nations, Acts 28 proponent Adlai Loudy wrote:

Paul is no longer “bound with a chain for the hope of Israel,” but becomes “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you the Nations” (Eph.3:1), and God reveals the secret which He designates before the eons for our glory (1 Cor.2:7; Eph.3:3, 6; Col.1:24-27), and the so-called “dispensation of the mystery,” correctly translated “the Secret Administration” (Eph.3:8-10). 

In accord with the Acts 28 theory, Loudy believed that Paul’s suffering before the events described at the end of Acts was, either exclusively or primarily, for the sake of Israel, and that it wasn’t until after Paul’s declaration in Acts 28:28 that he became a prisoner “for the Gentiles” (for a refutation of this particular mishandling of Paul’s words in Acts 28:20, see part seven of my response to Tom Ballinger: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2017/05/restoring-unity-to-pauls-epistles_90.html).  Now, in Ephesians 3:2 and 9 Paul referred to the administration that was given to him for the nations as “the administration of the grace of God” and “the administration of the secret.” As is evident from Loudy’s statement above, Acts 28 theorists believe that the “secret” to which Paul was referring (and which characterizes the administration given to him for the nations) was not made known until after the events of Acts 28:23-28. However, a careful consideration of what Paul wrote in Eph. 3:6 (where he informs us of what the “secret” consists of) makes it clear that Paul was not revealing anything that he had not already previously taught in his earlier letters to the saints in the body of Christ. Rather, what we read in v. 6 is simply a concise statement or summary of certain truths that Paul had already been making known to the saints among the nations prior to his imprisonment in Rome.

In this verse, we read that the “secret of the Christ” that characterizes the present administration is that “…in spirit the nations are to be joint enjoyers of an allotment, and a joint body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, through the evangel of which I became the dispenser, in accord with the gratuity of the grace of God, which is granted to me in accord with His powerful operation.” Notice that every element of the “secret” referred to by Paul in v. 6 was said by Paul to be “through the evangel of which I became the dispenser.” And when did “the evangel of which [Paul] became the dispenser” (i.e., the evangel of the uncircumcision/of the grace of God) first begin to be heralded and believed among the nations? Answer: shortly after Paul and Barnabas were “severed” to God for the work to which God had called them (Acts 13:2-3).

Consider, now, the following points:

1. The first element of the “secret of the Christ” is that ”in spirit the nations are to be joint enjoyers of an allotment…” But was Paul teaching something different than this truth in his earlier letters? No. There is nothing written in Paul’s prior letters which suggests that those among the nations who had become members of the one body of Christ during the earlier part of his ministry had a different allotment than the believing Jews (such as Paul and Silvanus) who had become members of the one body of Christ at this time. Nowhere are we told (nor is it ever implied) in Paul’s pre-imprisonment letters that the allotment of the Gentiles who had believed Paul’s evangel of the uncircumcision was in any way distinct from, or inferior to, that of the Jews who believed his evangel. Instead, we find that, even before Paul’s imprisonment, the nations were “joint heirs of an allotment” with their believing Jewish brethren in the one body of Christ. They together awaited “the glory that is going to be revealed for us,” when we (the “sons of God”) are unveiled, our bodies are delivered, and we are glorified/conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:18-25, 29-30).

With regards to the eonian allotment of those in the body of Christ, the ONLY difference that Paul ever referred to in his pre-prison letters is found in Romans 8:17, and the distinction made here has nothing to do with being circumcised or uncircumcised. Rather, Paul wrote that the saints in the body of Christ to whom he wrote (whether Jewish or not) would be “enjoyers of an allotment, enjoyers, indeed, of an allotment from God, yet joint enjoyers of Christ’s allotment, if so be that we are suffering together, that we should be glorified together also (Rom. 8:17). In other words, every believer to whom he wrote would enjoy “an allotment from God,” but those who were “suffering together [with Christ]” would be “joint enjoyers of Christ’s allotment” and be “glorified together also.” This fact implies that the “allotment from God” referred to by Paul is something that is common to every member of the body of Christ. And it was by “suffering together” that a saint in the body of Christ (whether Jew or Gentile) could acquire something in addition to the allotment that would be the enjoyment of all within the body of Christ. This is, in essence, the same truth taught by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (cf. Phil. 3:9-16).

2. The next truth that Paul referred to in Eph. 3:6 is that the nations would be ”a joint body.” The truth that those among the nations who believed Paul's evangel are a “joint body”– i.e., a joint body that included the Jews who believed Paul’s evangel (which included, of course, Paul himself) – is explicitly taught in 1 Cor. 12:12-13 (cf. Rom. 12:4-5) and is implied in places like Gal. 3:27-28. Whether circumcised or not, all who believed Paul’s evangel were, prior to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, baptized in one spirit into the same, one body of Christ. There is no indication that those Jews who were called through Paul’s evangel of the uncircumcision had a superior status within the body of Christ during this time, or that it was in any way different than the status of those among the nations who’d been called.

3. The last truth pertaining to the “secret of the Christ” we find referred to in Eph. 3:6 is that the nations would be ”joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.” What is the “promise (singular) in Christ Jesus” of which those to whom Paul wrote had become partakers? In Titus 1:2, “life eonian” is referred to as having been promised by God “before times eonian.” If that’s what Paul had in view here, then this blessing is something of which believing Gentiles have had an expectation since the beginning of Paul’s ministry among the nations (Acts 13:48). Another possibility is that Paul was referring to the spirit that is given to all who become members of the body of Christ. In Galatians 3:14 Paul made it clear that the believing Gentiles in the body of Christ had, through faith in the evangel that had been heralded among them (the “evangel of the uncircumcision”), obtained “the promise of the spirit (cf. Gal. 3:2-5). In Romans 8:23, this promise of which all in the body of Christ have been made partakers is referred to as “the firstfruit of the spirit.” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 it’s referred to as “the earnest of the spirit in our hearts” with which we’ve been sealed (cf. 2 Cor. 5:5), and in Ephesians 1:14 it’s referred to as the “holy spirit of promise” with which we’ve sealed (and which is said to be “an earnest of the enjoyment of our allotment”). See also 1 Cor. 12:13 (cf. 2:12, 3:16, 6:19). Regardless of what, exactly, we understand this “promise in Christ Jesus” to be, there is no good reason to think that it didn’t belong to the believing Gentiles who became members of the body of Christ before Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.

We thus see that the truths of Ephesians 3:6 – which Acts 28 theorists assume were kept secret until Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians, and didn’t belong to believing Gentiles until after Paul became a prisoner in Rome – were central to the administration given to Paul prior to his imprisonment. Although these truths were indeed a secret prior to the beginning of Paul’s ministry as the “apostle to the nations” (and had no part in Israel’s prophetic program), Paul was not first making them known in Ephesians 3:6. He was simply giving a concise, summarized statement of truths that he’d been making known among the nations all along (whether through direct, personal teaching, or through his other letters to the saints). This being the case, we can conclude that the administration given to Paul to which these truths distinctly belong – i.e., the “administration of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2) – began no later than with the events of Acts 13:2 (when Paul and Barnabas were “severed” to God for the work to which he’d called them, and which involved heralding the evangel of the Uncircumcision among the nations and thereby bringing Gentiles into the body of Christ).

Paul’s evangel during the “Acts era”

Concerning the evangel that he believes Paul heralded during “the period covered by the Book of Acts,” Loudy wrote as follows (emphasis mine):

With [Paul’s] separation, he acted as a priest of the evangel of God to the nations (Rom.15:16), in accord with the Scripture, which, perceiving that God is justifying the nations by faith, preaches before an evangel to Abraham, that "in you shall all the nations be blessed" (Gal.3:5-9). This is the evangel which Paul called "my gospel" (Rom.2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8), "the gospel which is preached by me" (Gal.1:11), "that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles" (Gal.2:2), and "the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (1 Tim.1:1), by which God justified the Circumcision (Jews) out of faith and the Uncircumcision (Gentiles) through faith (Rom.3:30).

According to Loudy, the evangel which was entrusted to Paul – and which he heralded among the nations during the (Gal. 2:2) – was the divine promise to Abraham that “in [him] shall all the nations be blessed.” Contrary to Loudy’s position, this was not the evangel that was entrusted to Paul. Rather, the “evangel of the Uncircumcision” that Paul heralded among the nations was (and is) constituted by the fact that Christ died for our sins and was subsequently roused from among the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4). It was “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” that was the essence of Paul’s evangel and the burden of his evangelistic efforts (1 Cor. 1:17-25; 2:1-5), and not the fact that “in Abraham shall all the nations be blessed.”

But what, then, is the promise-based blessing that was made available to the nations, and to which Paul was referring in Galatians 3:5-9? In Galatians 3:5-9 and 13-14, we read the following:

“He, then, who is supplying you with the spirit, and operating works of power among you-did you get the spirit by works of law or by the hearing of faith, according as Abraham believes God, and it is reckoned to him for righteousness? Know, consequently, that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham. Now the scripture, perceiving before that God is justifying the nations by faith, brings before an evangel to Abraham, that ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So, that those of faith are being blessed together with believing Abraham…Christ reclaims us from the curse of the law, becoming a curse for our sakes, for it is written, Accursed is everyone hanging on a pole, that the blessing of Abraham may be coming to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we may be obtaining the promise of the spirit through faith.

In light of what Paul wrote in the above passage, it’s evident that the promise-based blessing that had been made available to the nations through the heralding of Paul’s evangel was simply justification by faith (which, of course, is one of the key doctrines taught in Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome; see Romans 3-5). Paul clearly viewed the justification of the nations by faith as the fulfillment of the promise that “in [Abraham] all the nations” would “be blessed” (Gen. 12:3; 18:18), and this explains the connection that the nations have to the patriarchs of Israel and the promises that God made to them.

Although closely associated with Abraham, the blessing of justification by faith has, since the beginning of Paul’s ministry as the “apostle of the nations,” been received by the nations apart from the mediation of Israel. This arrangement is in stark contrast with what we find prophesied concerning Israel’s role and status during the eon to come. According to Israel’s prophetic program (link), the holy nation will function as a “royal priesthood” in relation to the rest of the nations, and will be the channel through which the nations receive their spiritual blessing. As was the case before and during Christ’s earthly ministry, salvation will, after Israel has been restored to her place of national privilege, be “of the Jews” (John 4:22).

Moreover, it must be emphasized that the nations continued to be blessed with this “blessing of Abraham” even after the historical events described in Acts 28:23-28 took place. After Paul came to be imprisoned in Rome, those among the nations who were called through Paul’s evangel didn’t stop being justified by faith. Rather, those among the nations who were “of faith” continued to be “blessed together with believing Abraham.” The blessing of justification didn’t end with the events of Acts 28, but continued to be received and enjoyed by everyone among the nations who became members of the body of Christ (including those to whom Paul wrote his “prison epistles”). If someone is in the body of Christ today, they have been justified by faith and have thus received what Paul referred to in Galatians 3 as “the blessing of Abraham.” This simple fact completely undermines Loudy’s appeal to Galatians 3:5-9 in support of his position that this “early letter” of Paul belongs to a bygone era (the so-called “Readjustment Administration”), rather than to the present era. If the Acts 28 proponent wants to believe that the blessing of justification by faith is in accord with a “Jewish, prophetic economy,” then he or she must also believe that this “Jewish, prophetic economy” is still ongoing in our day!

Paul’s “priestly ministry”

In Knoch’s article, “The Priestly Ministry of Paul,” he wrote:

“Since Israel not only refused to accept their Messiah for their own salvation, but failed utterly in heralding Him to the other nations, this ministry was graciously handed over to Paul. He was temporarily installed as the priest for the nations (Romans 15:16 [“For me to be the minister of Christ Jesus for the nations, acting as a priest of the evangel of God, that the approach present of the nations may be becoming well received, having been hallowed by holy spirit.”]). However, God is now making known His multifarious wisdom to the sovereignties and authorities through the ecclesia (Ephesians 3:10).”

There are two big assumptions that Knoch is making here, neither of which are valid. The first unwarranted assumption is that, in Romans 15:16, Paul was referring to a temporary state of affairs during his apostolic ministry, and that his “acting as a priest of the evangel of God” was something that ended at the time of his imprisonment in Rome. The second unwarranted assumption is that what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:10 was a state of affairs that didn’t begin until Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.

I’ve already addressed the second assumption. But what about the first assumption? Was Paul, in Romans 15:16, referring to a temporary state of affairs during his apostolic ministry that ended at the time of his imprisonment in Rome? No. Paul didn’t say anything in Romans 15:16 that is in any way inconsistent with what he continued doing during (and after) the time of his house arrest in Rome. In Romans 15:16, Paul wrote that, because of the grace that was being given to him from God, he was “a minister of Christ Jesus for the nations, acting as a priest of the evangel of God, that the approach present of the nations may be becoming well received, having been hallowed by holy spirit.” The word Paul used that is translated “act as a priest” in the CV (hierourgounta) means just this: to act or officiate as a priest, or temple worker. But what is a priest? Knoch defines the word translated “priest” (hiereus) as “any one of the family of Aaron who was qualified and consecrated to officiate in the sanctuary.” According to biblestudytools.com, the Hebrew and Greek words translated “priest” essentially refer to one who offers sacrifices to God. The priests of Israel were the only ones qualified to offer sacrifices to God in the temple (jewishvirtuallibrary.org), and it is this sacred activity which may be understood as most distinctively characterizing the priestly office.[1] 

In light of this understanding of what a priest’s primary role was within the nation of Israel, it is clear that Paul was not claiming to be a literal Israelite priest (and the fact of his being of the tribe of Benjamin, as he makes known in Phil. 3:5, meant that he wasn’t even able to be a priest according to the Levitical order). What then did Paul mean in Romans 15:16? Answer: Paul was speaking metaphorically here, and using imagery that was drawn from his religious background as an Israelite. Paul’s work in heralding the evangel among the nations so that they will, by faith in the truth, become acceptable to God was like a priest’s work in offering up sacrifices to God. By referring to himself as “acting as a priest of the evangel,” Paul was simply expressing the idea that his role as the “apostle of the nations” involved heralding the evangel by which those among the nations who were being called through it became “hallowed” (consecrated or set apart) by the holy spirit (hence, Paul referred to himself as “acting as a priest of the evangel of God”). This is in accord with his original commission from Christ (Acts 26:14-18).

Paul’s reference to those among the nations who’d believed his evangel as an “approach present” (i.e., something consecrated and offered to God) who’d been “hallowed by holy spirit” and thus “well received” by God is simply an extension of the metaphorical, priestly imagery previously used by him. It also echoes the language Paul had used previously in Romans 12:1-2. In these verses we read the following: I am entreating you, then, brethren, by the pities of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice, living, holy, well pleasing to God, your logical divine service, and not to be configured to this eon, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for you to be testing what is the will of God, good and well pleasing and perfect.” Through Paul’s apostolic ministry, the evangel through which the nations could be saved was being heralded, and those among the nations who believed were being “hallowed [set apart] by holy spirit.” And having been thus “set apart” by God, they were able to engage in the “divine service” of which Paul wrote in this verse, and thereby do that which was “well pleasing to God” (2 Cor. 5:9).

As will be evident to anyone not reading Scripture through the vision-blurring lens of the Acts 28 theory, Paul’s use of this figurative, priestly imagery in no way means or implies that Paul was laboring under a different “dispensation” or administration at this time. If such figurative imagery is to be understood as entailing that Paul was laboring under a “prophetic, Jewish economy,” then we would have just as much reason to think that Paul was laboring under the same “Jewish economy” when he wrote to the saints in Philippi! In Philippians 3:3 Paul wrote concerning those in the body of Christ, “For we are the circumcision who are offering divine service in the spirit of God” (Phil. 3:3). Can imagery get any more “Jewish” than this? And in the very next chapter, Paul referred to the financial contribution of the saints in Philippi as “an odor fragrant, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (4:18). This is an allusion to the fragrant incense that was burnt in the temple (Ex. 30:7; Luke 1:9) and to the sacrifices offered there by the priests (thus making Paul’s imagery in this verse just as “priestly” and “Levitical” in nature as that used in Romans 15:16). According to the faulty reasoning of Acts 28 proponents, the obviously “Jewish” nature of this imagery should lead the reader to conclude that Paul was laboring under the same “prophetic, Jewish economy” when he wrote his letter to the Philippians as he supposedly was when he wrote to the saints in Rome! Unfortunately, it would seem that Acts 28 theorists are too committed to their dispensational theory to consider the theory’s problematic implications, and the absurd conclusions to which it logically leads (for doing so would, of course, force them to abandon their theory).

Surely Knoch would’ve agreed that, during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, he continued to be “the minister of Christ Jesus for the nations” (which involved heralding the “evangel of the uncircumcision” to the nations), and that salvation continued to be “dispatched” to the nations during this time (Acts 28:30-31)! If this is the case (and it is), then one cannot consistently affirm that Paul’s “acting as a priest of the evangel of God” – and the resulting “hallowing” (setting apart) of those among the nations who believed Paul’s evangel – was something that distinctly and uniquely characterized Paul’s ministry prior to his imprisonment in Rome.

Clyde Pilkington makes the same mistake as Knoch concerning what Paul wrote in Romans 15:16. As quoted at the beginning of this article, Clyde wrote, “In the first half of Paul’s ministry (during the period covered by the Book of Acts and in his preparatory epistles) he labored as a priest to the nations (“Gentiles,” Romans 15:16) under a Jewish, prophetic economy (Romans 15:9-12).”

After referring to Paul’s “priestly ministry,” Clyde referenced Romans 15:9-12 as “proof” that Paul was laboring “under a Jewish, prophetic economy” during “the first half of [his] ministry (“during the period covered by the Book of Acts”). Before I began preparing some remarks on this passage, I (fortunately) remembered that Martin Zender had already beaten me to it in one of his ZWTF articles. Since I’m in full agreement with Martin’s explanation of Romans 15:9-12 and see his comments as a sufficient response to the misuse of this passage by Acts 28 proponents, I hope the reader will excuse my taking the easy (and less redundant) route by simply quoting him. Following a quotation of Romans 15:4-13 (CLNT), Martin helpfully comments on the passage as follows: 

“In this passage, Paul quotes the Hebrew Scriptures six times. Five times the word “nations” is mentioned; once, “the peoples.” Why do you think Paul is doing this? He tells us himself in the text: “...that through the endurance and the consolation of the Scriptures we may have expectation.” Paul later wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God, and is beneficial for teaching, for exposure, for correction, for discipline in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped, fitted out for every good act.” Paul is using these ancient, inspired writings (“through the endurance of the Scriptures”) to assure the nations that God has always promised to remember and bless them (“through the consolation of the Scriptures, we may have expectation”). God did not say exactly how He would remember and bless the nations because, as we have seen, these were secrets kept for Paul. The immediate consolation here, for the Romans, would be that evidence existed in Israel’s writings that God would remember the nations and give them something to expect and be happy about.

Put yourselves back in the place of the Romans, some of whom knew the history of Israel. What precedent is there that anyone besides Israel would ever be blessed? Well, here it is. This is very helpful to Paul, for now Paul has six passages relating to God and the nations. This evidence in the Word of God would help Paul’s readers to think he’s not so crazy after all. Again, there are no specifics here concerning those secrets that Paul would reveal. This is merely a broad promise that the nations would have reason to celebrate: 1) “I shall be acclaiming Thee among the nations,” 2) “Be merry, ye nations,” 3) “Praise the Lord, all the nations,” 4) “Let all the peoples laud Him,” and 5) “on Him will the nations rely.” Let’s return to the opening statement of this passage, Romans 15:4— “For whatever was written before, was written for this teaching of ours.” Please make note: Those things that were written before in the Scriptures were not about the teaching of Paul, but were written for the teaching of Paul. God put these passages in His Word so that Paul could use them to prove to the nations that God always promised to remember them. Paul’s teaching is absent from these passages.

Now you see the subtle manipulation of this verse. To use this verse to say that the early ministry and epistles of Paul are founded on the Old Testament and Israel— as though nothing new came from Paul’s pen until after Acts 28:28—is not only misleading, but mistaken. We have already seen how mistaken it is. This is a manipulation of a verse to suit an agenda, namely, the Acts 28:28 agenda. That this verse is called into play in the interest of “proving” that Paul taught nothing new before his prison epistles serves only to expose the desperation of the position and show how little evidence actually exists for it.

What a difference between “for” and “founded on.” All of Scripture was for Paul (2 Timothy 3:16), but the teachings in Paul’s epistles were founded on a revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). He himself testified that, concerning his evangel, he was not taught it (Galatians 1:12). This eliminates the Old Testament and Israel as the source of his message. In the book of Hebrews, examples from Israel’s history of the heroes of faith are for those Israelites who will find themselves enduring the day of Indignation, but none of what those latter Jews will experience will be founded on anything Israel has previously experienced. It is the characteristic of endurance itself that is pressed in Hebrews, not the details of that endurance. Likewise in Romans chapter 15, it is the characteristic of expectation itself that is pressed upon the Roman believers, not the details of anyone’s particular evangel, especially not Paul’s.”

At the time Paul wrote Romans, the nations had received mercy, and they thus had reason to glorify God for his mercy. However, they were not receiving mercy in accord with the “great commission” given to the twelve apostles (which was in accord with Israel’s “prophetic program”). Nor are they today. As is evident from Paul’s declaration to the Jewish leaders in Rome, the dispatching of salvation to the nations was something that had already taken place, at some point in the past (Acts 28:28; cf. Acts 13:44-48). However, the salvation that had been dispatched to the nations was not through the instrumentality of a redeemed and blessed nation of Israel. Rather, it came through the ministry of Paul, the “apostle of the nations” (Rom. 11:13), to whom God had given grace to be the minister of Christ Jesus for the nations (Rom. 15:15). And during this ministry, the nations were receiving (and continue to receive) their mercy as a result of what Paul referred to as the “casting away” of Israel (Rom. 11:12-25). And since Israel’s “casting away” is clearly a state of affairs that commenced before Paul’s apostolic ministry among the nations began, it is consequently something with which his ministry among the nations (and the “administration of the grace of God” that’s associated with it) always coincided.



[1] Although some have understood the distinctive, essential role of a priest to be that of mediation between God and man (with the priest being one who “stands between” God and sinful humans, and intercedes for them), this understanding is, I believe, deficient. While it is true that Israelite priests had a mediating role, mediation between God and humans was not distinctive or unique to the priestly office. Mediation was just as intrinsic to the prophetic office as to the priestly. That is, both the prophet and the priest can be understood as “standing between” God and man. In the case of the priest, he delivered sacrifices to God on behalf of others, thus making his mediation “from bottom to top.” In the case of the prophet, he delivered the message and instruction of God to others, thus making his mediation “from the top down” (however, it should be noted that there are many examples of the mediating work of prophets going “both ways” as well, with the prophets interceding to God on behalf of others: Gen. 20:6-7, 17; Ex. 19:17; 32:11; Deut. 9:20, 26; Num. 21:7; 1 Sam. 7:5, 8; 12:19; Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11; 37:3; 42:2).

Was Paul’s ministry among the nations ever in accord with a “Jewish, prophetic economy”? (Part 1)

Introduction

Given my passion for the truth that Paul’s entire ministry among the nations as the “apostle of the nations” pertained to a single administration given to Paul for the nations (and that his thirteen letters to the body of Christ form a harmonious unit that ought not be divided into two distinct, “dispensational” categories), its hard to believe that its been more than two years since I’ve posted any articles on my blog that were written to directly refute the so-called “Acts 28:28” position (although it could be said that my recent articles concerning the timing of the snatching away of the body of Christ in relation to the “beginning of pangs” and the future 70th “week” prophesied in Daniel constitute indirect refutations of this position, since they demonstrate that the body of Christ will be removed from the earth before these future prophesied events involving Israel will begin to occur). However, since the Acts 28 position likes to occasionally rear its ugly head within the community of believers of which I am a part (and will likely continue to do so until the snatching away brings this present administration of the grace of God to a close), I think it would be worthwhile to do some “weed-pulling,” and devote yet another article to refuting a theory that has led certain believers within the body of Christ to affirm erroneous (and, in some cases, ridiculous) views such as the following:

1. That the nations to whom Paul heralded his “evangel of the uncircumcision” prior to his imprisonment in Rome were merely Greek proselytes who were “for all intents and purposes, ‘Jewish,’” and that Paul was not able to begin heralding his evangel to non-proselytized Gentiles until after his imprisonment in Rome began (click here for a refutation of this view).

2. That “Paul’s message in his earlier epistles contained a call to repentance, whereas his latter epistles stressed justification through faith” (click here for a refutation of this view).

3. That the information communicated to him by the ascended Christ concerning the snatching away (and which he referred to as “the word of the Lord” in 1 Thess. 4:15) had already been revealed before it was made known to Paul, and can be found outside of Paul’s letters (click here for a refutation of this view).

4. That, prior to his imprisonment in Rome, Paul didn’t teach anything during his ministry among the nations that went beyond, or wasn’t prophesied in, “the Law and the Prophets” (click here for a refutation of this view).

5. That the “last trump” referred to in 1 Cor. 15:50-52 refers to the sounding of the trumpet by the seventh messenger referred to in Rev. 11:14-15, and that the event associated with the last trump (i.e., the vivification of everyone in the body of Christ, and our being snatched away to meet Christ in the cloud-filled atmosphere above the earth) will be fulfilled at the time that the “third woe” occurs (click here for a refutation of this view).

6. That the “olive tree” referred to by Paul in Romans 11:16-24 has been “cut down” (yes, one Acts 28 theorist actually said this; click here for a refutation of this view).

Those who have read my other articles against the Acts 28 position will likely find some of the content of this two-part article familiar (hopefully I’ve included enough extra information in this article to justify its existence). For those who haven’t read my previous articles on this subject – or who may want to re-visit them – here are some links:

A Response to “The Hope of Israel vs. That Blessed Hope”: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-response-to-hope-of-israel-vs-that.html

Wrongly Dividing Paul: A Response to “Right Division Includes Paul”: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2015/04/wrongly-dividing-paul-response-to-right.html



A Response to “Proof of Paul’s Progression” (Part 1 of 4):

Restoring Unity to Paul’s Epistles: A Refutation of Tom Ballinger’s Defense of the “Acts 28” Theory (Part 1 of 7): http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2017/05/restoring-unity-to-pauls-epistles.html

Before the Pangs Begin: A Defense of the Imminence of the Snatching Away (Part 1 of 2): http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2019/05/before-pangs-begin-defense-of-imminence.html

The Timing of the Snatching Away in Relation to the 70th Week (Part 1 of 2): https://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-timing-of-snatching-away-in.html

Two Gentile expectations contrasted

For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the Acts 28 position, the following statement by Clyde Pilkington (a proponent of this theory) could be considered a succinct explanation of what the position affirms: “In the first half of Paul’s ministry (during the period covered by the Book of Acts and in his preparatory epistles) he labored as a priest to the nations (“Gentiles,” Romans 15:16) under a Jewish, prophetic economy (Romans 15:9-12).”

The words I placed in bold get at the heart of what I believe to be the error of the Acts 28 position. According to this position, the status and expectation of the Gentile believers to whom Paul ministered as the “apostle of the nations” during “the period covered by the Book of Acts” (up until the events of Acts 28:23-28) was in accord with a “Jewish, prophetic economy.” So what are the implications of this? Well, if Paul labored “under a Jewish, prophetic economy” during the period covered by the book of Acts, then the expectation of the believing Gentiles in the body of Christ during this time must have been in accord with Israel’s “prophetic program.” And this, in turn, would mean that, prior to the events of Acts 28:23-28, the expectation of the Gentiles in the body of Christ at this time involved a subordinate place in the earthly kingdom that’s going to be restored to Israel (as had been prophesied concerning the nations in the Hebrew scriptures; see, for example, Isaiah 60:10-12; 61:5-6; Zechariah 8:20-23).

One way of demonstrating the error of this view is to simply contrast the revealed expectation of the Gentiles in the body of Christ during the “Acts era” with the expectation of those among the nations who will be enjoying an allotment in the kingdom that is going to be restored to Israel during the eons to come. In my study on Matthew 25:31-46 (http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-judgment-of-sheep-and-goats-study_14.html), I argued that the category of Gentiles referred to as “the sheep” will consist of people from among the nations who, because of their righteous treatment of God’s covenant people during the time of Israel’s “great affliction,” will be judged worthy by Christ to receive eonian life in the kingdom that is to be restored to Israel.

A good example of a righteous Gentile who will be enjoying the eonian allotment that will be given to the “sheep” is, I believe, the Roman centurion, Cornelius. With the events described in Acts 10, Peter learned that any Gentile who was “fearing God and acting righteously” (i.e., by conducting themselves as Cornelius and his house did) could qualify for eonian life in the kingdom by obtaining the pardon of sins. Thus, Peter learned that Gentiles did not have to become members of God’s covenant people (by getting circumcised and keeping the law of Moses) in order to be saved; if they “feared God and acted righteously” (as Cornelius and his house did), they were acceptable to God, and could be saved through faith in the evangel of the Circumcision, right along with believing Jews (for more on this important subject, see my two-part study on the Jerusalem Conference: https://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2018/10/gods-covenant-people-response-to.html).

Given the fact that Cornelius and his house were called by God through the evangel entrusted to Peter (the evangel of the Circumcision), we can reasonably conclude that the salvation of Cornelius and his house was (and is) inseparably connected with God’s covenant people (this also follows from the fact that their “acting righteously” was inseparably tied to their relationship with God’s covenant people). That the calling and eonian expectation of Cornelius and his house were understood by Peter and James as being tied to Israel’s covenant-based expectation is further evident from what James went on to say in Acts 15:13-17:

“Men! Brethren! Hear me! Simeon unfolds how God first visits the nations, to obtain out of them a people for His name. And with this agree the words of the prophets, according as it is written, After these things I will turn back, ‘And I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen... And its overturned structure will I rebuild, And I will re-erect it... So that those left of mankind should be seeking out the Lord, And all the nations, on them over whom My name is invoked, Is saying the Lord, Who is doing these things.’”

In these verses, it’s evident that James was not referring to events that will be taking place “in the heavens” and “among the celestials” in the eon to come.  Rather, James was referring to the future kingdom of God on the earth – i.e., the kingdom that is to be restored to Israel, following Christ’s return to earth. And James clearly understood Cornelius and his house as being representative of that class of righteous Gentiles who – like the “sheep” of Matthew 25:31-46 – will be enjoying an allotment in the kingdom of God after it’s been established on the earth.

Based on this fact alone, it can be concluded that Cornelius and his house (and, by implication, Peter as well) were not in the body of Christ. Consider the following argument:

1. Every member of the body of Christ has an expectation that is distinct from Israel’s covenant-based expectation.
2. The expectation of Cornelius and his house is in accord with Israel’s covenant-based expectation.
3. Cornelius and his house are not in the body of Christ.

Now, another important point that needs to be made is that there will be two general categories of righteous Jews and God-fearing Gentiles who will be enjoying an allotment in Israel’s earthly kingdom during the eon to come: (1) Those who will take part in what is called the “resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14) or “former resurrection” (Rev. 20:4-6; cf. John 5:29), and (2) Those who will be alive on the earth at the time of Christ’s return (such as the 144,000 sealed Israelites referred to in Rev.7:2-8 and 14:1-5), as well as their posterity. The “former resurrection” will only involve those believing Israelites and Gentiles (such as Cornelius) who died before Christ’s return to earth, and – as I’ve argued elsewhere – is a resurrection that will occur 75 days after the return of Christ (click here for an article in which this view is defended). Those who are raised from the dead by Christ at the “former resurrection” will be “neither marrying nor taking out in marriage” during the eon to come, “for neither can they still be dying, for they are equal to messengers, and are the sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35-36).

In contrast with those who will take part in the “former resurrection,” the rest of the saints in the kingdom during the eon to come – beginning with the generation which will be alive on the earth at Christ’s return – will be mortal human beings. They will enjoy eonian life in the kingdom of God, but – in contrast with those who are to be resurrected after Christ’s return – will not be immortal during the eons to come. The following passages make it clear that there will, in fact, be mortal, flesh-and-blood human beings enjoying an allotment in the kingdom of God during the eon to come: Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:20-25; Jeremiah 23:3-6; 30:18-20 (cf. v. 3); 33:10-11, 19-22; 59:20-21; Ezekiel 36:8-12; 37:25-26; 44:20-25.

In all of these passages, we read of things said concerning people in the millennial kingdom – including the priests who will be ministering in the temple – that can only be said of mortal, flesh-and-blood Israelites, and in which only those who are mortal will be involved during this time (such as marrying and “multiplying” in the land). In fact, both before and after the “resurrection of the just” takes place, the mortal, flesh-and-blood Israelites who will be enjoying their eonian allotment in the kingdom of God on earth will likely outnumber the resurrected Israelites who will be enjoying their eonian allotment there. Moreover, not only is Scripture clear that there will be mortal Israelites enjoying an allotment in the land of Israel in the eon to come (and further populating the kingdom with the children they will be having during this time), but we also know that there will be mortals from among the nations who will be enjoying an allotment in the kingdom of Israel as well (Ezekiel 47:22-23; cf. Matthew 25:31-34, 46). It can also be reasonably inferred that those among the nations who will be enjoying an allotment on the new earth during the final eon (as well as those Israelites who “endure to the consummation” and are alive when Christ returns) will be mortal during this time. Not only is this implied by Paul’s words in Eph. 3:21 (where Paul referred to “all the generations of the eon of the eons”), but it accounts for the fact that the “log of life” will be present in the New Jerusalem to provide its life-sustaining fruit and healing leaves for those who will need it during this time (see Rev. 2:7 and 22:2).

Now, Acts 28 proponents would agree that the event we find described in 1 Thess. 4:15-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-53 will involve a certain group of saints being made fit to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God. What they fail to appreciate, however, is that the location of the kingdom of God to which these passages pertain will be in the heavenly realm rather than on the earth. In 1 Cor. 15:50 Paul wrote, “Now this I am averring, brethren, that flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God, neither is corruption enjoying the allotment of incorruption.”

Consider, now, the following argument:

1. According to Paul in 1 Cor. 15:50, flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God.
2. However, flesh and blood will be able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God on the earth.
3. Paul was not referring to the kingdom of God on earth in 1 Cor. 15:50, but rather the kingdom of God as it will exist in the heavens (where Christ presently is).

It is in contrast with the conditions that will characterize the kingdom of God on earth during the eons to come that Paul told those in the body of Christ that “flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God.” If, when Paul wrote these words, he had in mind the kingdom of God as it will exist on the earth, then he would’ve been contradicting the scriptural fact that there will, in fact, be mortal, flesh-and-blood humans in this kingdom during the eon to come. But of course, Paul wasn’t contradicting scripture, since he didn’t have in mind the kingdom of God as it will exist on the earth. Rather, what Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians 15:50 was the kingdom of God into which the saints in the body of Christ will be entering after the snatching away and meeting in the air – i.e., the kingdom of God as it will exist in the heavenly realm (and which he referred to in 2 Tim. 4:18 as the Lord’s “celestial kingdom”).

It is the kingdom of God in heaven – not the kingdom of God on earth – in which “flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment.” It is because the kingdom for which we are destined is celestial in location that we (who are presently “soilish” in nature) must come to wear “the image…of the Celestial,” and thereby become “celestials” (1 Cor. 15:48-49). Our mortal, “terrestrial” body must be transformed into a body that is fit for the realm where Christ, the Celestial One, resides and inherently belongs – i.e., the heavens (1 Cor. 15:47). Moreover, since it was in the heavens that Christ was located when Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth (Heb. 8:1; 9:24; Phil. 3:20), we can conclude that it is also in the heavens – and not on the earth – that those to whom Paul wrote will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-9), and where they will be “manifested in front of the dais of Christ” (v. 10). Hence, the future, vivified body that the saints will possess after “the mortal may be swallowed up by life” is described as being “eonian, in the heavens.(2 Cor. 5:1).[1]

Since the future body (and thus the future life) of the saints in Corinth to whom Paul wrote will be “eonian, in the heavens,” it follows that the expectation and allotment of these believers was, at the time Paul wrote, just as heavenly in location as the expectation and allotment of those to whom Paul wrote his “later letters.” Thus, what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:46-50 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 provides just as much evidence for the view that the eonian destiny of those in the body of Christ is distinct from Israel’s expectation as do Paul’s words in (for example) Philippians 3:20 and Colossians 1:5:

Phil. 3:20: “For our realm is inherent in the heavens, out of which we are awaiting a Saviour also…”

Col. 1:5: “…because of the expectation reserved for you in the heavens…”

2 Cor. 5:1: “…we have a building of God, a house not made by hands, eonian, in the heavens.

Based solely on what we read in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, then, we can conclude that the location in which the saints in the body of Christ will be enjoying their eonian allotment is “in the heavens.” One could, therefore, argue that Paul had just as much to say concerning the heavenly expectation of those in the body of Christ in his letters to the saints in Corinth as he did in his later letters to the saints in Philippi and Colossi. One could also argue that Paul revealed more in 1 and 2 Corinthians concerning our heavenly allotment than he did in 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon combined (which are considered as being among Paul’s “later letters” by most proponents of the Acts 28 theory).

Did Gentile believers have an “inferior status” during Paul’s “Acts era” ministry?

Another related implication of the view that Paul’s ministry among the nations during the period covered by the book of Acts was in accord with a “Jewish, prophetic economy” is that the status of Gentile believers in the body of Christ was inferior to that of Jewish believers. Another proponent of the Acts 28 theory (Adlai Loudy) explains this view as follows:

”…at no time or place, during the readjustment administration, or in the millennial kingdom in the future day of the Lord, will Gentile believers ever be considered on the same standing or level with the Jews or Israelites.”

In case the reader is wondering what Loudy meant by “the readjustment administration” here (which is an expression he apparently coined), this refers to a theoretical administration that Acts 28 proponents believe coincided with Paul’s “Acts era” ministry (i.e., from Acts 13:2 to Acts 28:28).

The idea that Gentile believers had an inferior status and weren’t “…on the same standing or level with the Jews or Israelites” during the period covered by the book of Acts is completely contradicted by what Paul wrote. In stark contrast with this view, it’s revealed in Paul’s “early letters” that there was “one body” into which everyone who believed his evangel – whether Jew or Greek – had been spiritually baptized and made to “imbibe one spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12-13). During this time of Paul's ministry, it’s clear that both those who were circumcised and those who weren’t had an equal standing in the body of Christ. Writing to the saints in Galatia (at least some of whom were Gentiles with a pagan, idol-worshipping background), Paul declared that “…in [Christ] there is no Jew nor yet Greek, there is no slave nor yet free, there is no male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus”(Gal. 3:28; cf. Col. 3:11). In accord with this fact, Paul made it clear that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision was of any consequence for the company of saints to whom he wrote (Gal. 6:15). This means that, within the body of Christ during the “Acts era” of Paul’s ministry, circumcision was of no advantage whatsoever, and those who were circumcised had no advantage over those who were uncircumcised (Gal. 5:6; 6:15). Within the one body of Christ, all “fleshly” distinctions (whether ethnic, sexual or socio-economic) were irrelevant (2 Cor. 5:16).

In contrast with Acts 28 proponents today, A.E. Knoch believed that, even before Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, the apostle of the nations revealed truths that did not pertain to Israel and her eonian allotment, but rather to the body of Christ exclusively (and which continue to apply exclusively to those in the body of Christ today). At the same time (and as I’ve noted in previous articles on this subject), it’s clear that Knoch was highly influenced by the Acts 28 theorists of his day (e.g., E.W. Bullinger and C.H. Welch), and may be said to have had “one foot in the Acts 28 camp.” One example of this can be found in his comments on Ephesians 2:11-22:

“The latter half of the second chapter of Ephesians (2:11-22), is an elaborate statement showing that, in the present administration of God's grace, the nations are no longer in the inferior position accorded them in Paul's earlier ministry…it was not until Paul's imprisonment that we were brought nigh and enter the family of God (Eph. 2:18, 19). Until then we were still guests at Israel's table, if not puppies under it.”

In accord with the Acts 28 theory, Knoch believed that the nations in the body of Christ were in an “inferior position” compared with that of believing Jews. These statements by Knoch (in support of which, it should be noted, he provides no argumentation) are based on the assumption that Paul was contrasting the status of the nations since the beginning of his imprisonment in Rome with their status prior to this time (during his “earlier ministry”). But this assumption is completely unwarranted. Paul nowhere said that the nations were not brought near or able to enter the family of God until after he became a prisoner in Rome. Nowhere in Ephesians 2:11-22 or in the surrounding context does Paul say anything that suggests the beginning of his imprisonment in Rome marked the beginning of the state of the affairs described in verses 13-22. Assuming that this letter was even written while Paul was under house arrest in Rome (which is simply conjecture and has not been proven by Acts 28 theorists), the conclusion which Knoch draws here simply does not follow from anything Paul wrote.

Now, in the verses from Ephesians referred to above, Paul declared that the nations were once, “in that era,” apart from Christ, etc. What “era” did Paul have in mind here? Knoch assumed (along with “full-fledged” Acts 28 theorists) that this “era” was the time prior to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. However, Paul didn’t say this. And not only did Paul not say that the “era” in view was the time prior to his Roman imprisonment, but his wording suggest that this “era” had been previously referred to (“…wherefore, remember that once you, the nations in flesh – who are termed “Uncircumcision” by those termed “Circumcision,” in flesh, made by hands – that you were, in that era, apart from Christ…”). When we look back just a few verses, we find that Paul did, in fact, refer to a period of time involving those to whom he wrote that could appropriately be described as an “era” in which they were “apart from Christ, being alienated from the citizenship of Israel, and guests [or “strangers”] of the promise covenants, having no expectation, and without God in the world.”

In verses 1-3, Paul spoke of those to whom he wrote as “once” walking in their “offenses and sins,” and “in accord with the eon of this world, in accord with the chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness…” During this era they were “doing the will of the flesh and of the comprehension, and were, in [their] nature, children of indignation.” Although this particular era had, indeed, ended for those to whom Paul wrote, it wasn’t Paul’s imprisonment in Rome that ended this era. Rather, this “era” ended when those to whom Paul wrote first heard the “word of truth, the evangel of [their] salvation” and, believing Paul’s evangel (and then being “sealed with the holy spirit of promise”), they were saved (Eph. 2:8-9). It is not, therefore, the status of the nations before and after his Roman imprisonment that Paul had in view in Ephesians 2:11-22, but rather their status before and after they heard and believed the evangel that was heralded among them.

Knoch made a similar mistake concerning Paul’s use of the word “now” in Ephesians 3:10. In accord with the Acts 28 theory, Knoch saw the word “now” as implying that it wasn’t until after Paul became a prisoner that God began making known “to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord…” It’s certainly true that, by the word “now,” Paul had in mind a period of time that was present when he was writing. No one disputes this fact. However, there’s no good reason to assume that the time period to which Paul was referring began with his imprisonment (and to assume that it did is simply to presuppose the Acts 28 position).

Paul used the same word translated “now” in Eph. 2:1, when he wrote of “the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness…” Do those holding to the Acts 28 position think Paul had in view the period of time that began with his imprisonment in Rome in this verse? Of course not; Satan had been operating in the sons of stubbornness long before Paul’s imprisonment. But apart from a prior commitment to the view that Paul’s imprisonment in Rome marked a new administration, is it any more reasonable to believe that the time period that Paul had in view in Eph. 3:10 began with his imprisonment? One could just as well (and with just as much justification) believe that the period of time Paul had in view began when he started writing the letter itself – or even when he started writing the word “now!”

To what, then, then does the word “now” refer? It should be noted that, in v. 5, Paul contrasted “now” with “in other generations.” Similarly, in Col. 1:26, Paul wrote of the secret which has been concealed from the eons and from the generations, yet now was made manifest to His saints…” In both verses, the contrast in view allows for a significantly broader period of time than simply that of Paul’s imprisonment at the time he wrote these letters. Given the contrast made, there is no reason to limit the meaning of “now” in Eph. 3:10 the time of Paul’s imprisonment only. When reading Eph. 3:10 apart from an Acts 28 dispensational bias, it is much more likely that the “now” in this verse (as well as the “now” of Eph. 3:5 and Col. 1:26) embraces the same period of time as that which Paul had in mind when he wrote the following to the saints in Rome: Now to Him Who is able to establish you in accord with my evangel, and the heralding of Christ Jesus in accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifested NOW and through prophetic scriptures, according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith-obedience…” (Rom. 16:25-26)

In other words, the “now” of Ephesians 3:10 simply refers to the period of time that began when Paul’s apostolic ministry to the nations began, and the body of Christ – the “ecclesia” to which Paul referred in this verse – began to be formed through the heralding of Paul’s evangel among the nations. Unlike what Peter declared in Acts 3:21-24 (which concerned “all the things which God speaks through the mouth of His holy prophets who are from the eon”), the “secret” of which Paul had in view in these verses had been “hushed in times eonian.” It was not manifested until after Paul had been called by Christ (Gal. 1:1, 11-16). But what about the “prophetic scriptures” to which Paul referred in v. 26? Answer: Paul was simply referring to his own inspired writings. It was through Paul’s letters to those in the body of Christ that the “revelation of the secret” was being “made known to all nations.”

Although some do not think of Paul’s letters as being “prophetic scriptures,” we know from 1 Cor. 14:37 that Paul understood that what he wrote was inspired and prophetic scripture. The fact is that what Paul wrote concerning the body of Christ and our expectation is just as much prophetic in nature as those scriptures that pertain to Israel’s expectation (which Paul also prophesied concerning; see, for example, Romans 9-11). Not only this, but – in light of what Paul wrote concerning the consummation (when all are reconciled to God and God becomes “All in all”) – Paul can be said to have “seen” further into the future than any other inspired writer of scripture. If anything, Paul’s inspired letters (regardless of when they were written) are not less prophetic than the rest of Scripture, but are more prophetic than the rest of Scripture.[2]





[1] Similarly, in v. 2 our glorified body is described as “our habitation which is out of heaven. As in 1 Cor. 15:47 (where Christ is referred to as the Lord out of heaven), the term translated “out of” in this verse (ek) denotes origin, and expresses the idea that heaven will be the place to which our glorified body will inherently belong, after we’ve come to wear Christ’s celestial image. Similarly, in 1 Cor. 12:15-16 the term ek expresses the idea of a body part being “of” (i.e., belonging to) the body. In Gal. 2:15, it expresses the idea of sinners being “of” the nations. In Phil. 4:22 it expresses the idea of certain saints being “of” Caesar’s house. For another example of the expression translated “out of heaven,” see Matt. 21:25-26.

[2] Concerning this subject, A.E. Knoch remarked: 

“The conciliation was not made known through the ancient prophets, but through prophetic writings, such as this epistle [to the Romans] and 2 Corinthians. It is of principle importance that we see the point the apostle makes here, for otherwise we shall not appreciate the unique, distinctive character of the conciliation, which is first set forth in this epistle. The teaching of the fifth to the eighth chapters and especially the eleventh chapter is absolutely unknown in the prophets. In the latter all blessing comes to the nations through Israel as the channel. This conciliation comes because Israel is thrust aside. The prophets would lead us to infer that Israel’s apostasy would bar all possibility of blessing to the nations. The conciliation was a secret they knew nothing of, for it makes Israel’s defection the ground of world-wide, unbounded blessing to the nations until Israel is again in God's reckoning.”