It was the spring of 58 A.D. when the Apostle Paul started out on his journey to Spain. He planned a stopover in Jerusalem and a stopover in Rome. Yet from the very beginning his planned journey to Spain meets one obstacle after another.
And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.
After spending three months in Achaia Paul expected to sail to Syria but a plot by the Jews, against Paul, causes him to change his travel plans. So in the spring of 58 A.D. Paul begins his journey to Spain by walking from Achaia back to Macedonia.
Luke is with Paul as he begins his journey to Spain. Walking towards Athens with Philippi as their destination for sailing across the Aegean Sea to Troas. Others who accompanied Paul on his journey, including Timothy and Tychicus, went before Paul and Luke expecting to met them in Troas.
Starting out on his journey by foot added more time to Paul's trip. Five days just to reach Troas. Another seven days in the city of Troas. Twelve days which Paul had expected to be traveling east rather than going north and visiting with the believers along the way.
But now I no longer have any work to do in these provinces, and I have strongly desired for many years to come to you whenever I travel to Spain. For I hope to see you when I pass through, and to be assisted by you for my journey there, once I have first enjoyed your company for a while.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
How could Paul not spend time with the believers he saw along the way since he didn't expect to be in these areas in the future. Paul considered his work in Macedonia, Achaia, Asia Minor, and Galatia to be completed. The leaders of Ephesus found the thought of not seeing Paul again to be heartbreaking.
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
These weren't passing acquaintances Paul was saying good-bye to as he travelled to Spain. These were people who stood with him, and he with them, through trials and tribulations that the adversary had brought to bear upon their lives. These believers had stood together and faced death. These believers prayed together for healing, for deliverance, for each other. These believers had broken bread together, laughing and sharing, as their hearts became knit together in love. These believers were family.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-11
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
We have seen why Paul intended to stop in Jerusalem, he carried with him a financial gift, an abundant sharing, a gift of love from the Gentile churches in Macedonia and Achaia. But what was Paul's reason for a stopover in Rome?
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Paul has a second gift , a spiritual gift for the believers in Rome. But exactly what is this spiritual gift Paul had for those in Rome? The gift Paul had for the Romans was the gift of his own life in light of his ministry as an apostle and also his ministry as a teacher.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven he led captive everything that can captivate man and he gave gifts to men. What are the gifts? The context gives us the answer.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
These five ways of serving are gifts that Jesus Christ gave to the Church of the Body when he ascended on high. These gifts were given to men and women whose lives were committed to serving other believers in these capacities.
Already mainstream Christianity has major issues with these statements. But that is a small thing because God has major issues with mainstream Christianity because of the false doctrine they have followed that has denied these gifts and the doctrine they proclaim denying the spiritual equality of a believer who also happens to be female.
Understand I am using the English language as it was originally formed before political correctness overwhelmed our common sense and intelligence, when the masculine noun was used as an inclusive noun.
First, it needs to be understood that even though these ministries generally are in a position of leadership in the Body of Christ, the people who hold these ministries are still simply people. These ministries also have a treasure in an earthen vessel, like all members of the Body of Christ.
And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
Natural man, in his spiritual ignorance, wants to worship and make god's out of everything he fails to understand. Natural man has a tendency to elevate other men to a status no man is worthy of holding. All, including those with ministries, have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We should have respect for those with these ministries but not worship.
Acts fourteen clearly declares that both Paul and Barnabas are Apostles and that they also "are men of like passions" as the unbelievers attempting to worship them. There are also others in the epistles addressed to the Church of the Body that are identified as Apostles. I bring this up because mainstream Christianity dislikes the idea that there were Apostles other than the twelve and Paul. They adamantly deny any availability of an apostle in our day and time. They are adamant to their own destruction.
1 Thessalonians 2:6
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Who is the we?
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy are called Apostles in the context of first Thessalonians. There were other Apostles in the Body of Christ, Paul was not the only member of Christ's Body to function as an Apostle. Which leads to the obvious question, what is the function of an Apostle?
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Christ gave the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to the church, which is the Body of Christ as God declared in Ephesians chapter 1. These ministries are to function within the Body of Christ with the idea of "perfecting the saints" and "for the work of the ministry."
The Greek word translated "perfecting" is katartismos and carries the basic meaning of to equip, or to furnish. How these ministries equip members of the Body of Christ is by teaching right doctrine, and not only doctrine, but also right practice or application.
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Jesus saw James and John the sons of Zebedee mending their fishing nets. The word translated "mending" here is the verb form, katartizo, of the word translated "perfecting" in Ephesians. So what does all of this add up to in simple English?
These five ministries all have the same purpose. First, their purpose is to equip the members of the Body of Christ by teaching right doctrine and by correcting any fractures or divisions in the Body of Christ due to wrong doctrine or wrong application. These ministries repair ruptures in the Body of Christ much like James and John where repairing their fishing net. All divisions in the Body of Christ are due to wrong doctrine or wrong application of right doctrine.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
The believers in Corinth were elevating one leader over another. This is nothing but carnality, a natural man habit learned from the system of the world. In the Body of Christ all members are of equal importance. No one member of the Body is more important than any other member of the Body. But with the world it is always the tendency to make one man more important, or more necessary, than another man. Too often a man thinks himself to be more than he really is, often eliminating any need for the hand of God within his own life.
1 Corinthians 12:14-22
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
God uses the analogy of a body because it is very easy for all to see the necessity of every part within our own natural bodies. A big toe doesn't seem like much in the overall scheme of your body. But lose your big toe and your body has to adjust your gait in order to walk comfortably and your body needs to adjust to a new overall balance in your walk. Yes, you can function but not as well as when the big toe was still there.
Division will always result when we mix the right doctrine of God's Word with the thoughts of the world, or when we mix the right practice with the habits from the world. The Body of Christ is designed to operate on the Word of God and God's gift of holy spirit within each member. When we are off in doctrine or practice it is like losing a part of your physical body. You can function but not as well as you were designed to function.
The Greek word translated "for" in Ephesians 4:12 is eis. Eis is generally translated "to, unto, or towards". What it means is the destination or the goal you expect to reach or achieve. The reason the ministries are to perfect the members of the Body, to repair any ruptures or rends in the fabric of right doctrine and practice is to achieve the goal of all members of the Body working together so that the Body of Christ is edified, or built up.
So, what Ephesians 4:11-12 are teaching us is that Christ gave five ministries for the purpose of equipping the members of his Body with right doctrine, the right way to believe. With a view toward all members being likeminded on doctrine and practice. So that we, as a Body are able to function toward the entire Body edifying itself, working together or in harmony as a body should function. With each member, or aspect of that Body, contributing to the Body of Christ as God has worked in that persons heart and life. Then in verse 4:13 we are told how long these ministries will need to function.
Till (until) we all come in the unity of the faith (pistis - the right way of believing), and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
We will not reach the point of "a perfect man" or the "stature of the fullness of Christ" until Christ returns to gather the Church of his Body, what some refer to as the rapture. Until that time, the Body of Christ needs all five of these ministries operating and functioning.
It must also be noted that these ministries are given FOR the Body of Christ which calls into question how we think of these ministries. For example, isn't an Evangelist sent to the unsaved so that they can be saved? The answer to that is simply, no. According to the Word of God an Evangelist is sent first to the Body of Christ not the unsaved world. Consider the ministry that every believer has in the Administration of Grace.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Every child of God in this administration has the ministry of reconciliation and every child of God has been given the word of reconciliation with which to carry out this ministry. It is the Evangelist that inspires and teaches the children of God how best to carry out this ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, the Evangelist is given FOR the Body of Christ first and foremost.
The Greek word that is translated "ambassadors" is presbeuo and basically means elder. Presbeuo is the verb form of the word presbyteros which is translated elder almost every time it occurs in God's Word. Presbeuo is telling every child of God to act like an elder statesman and so the translators handled it with the English word ambassadors.
The Evangelist, through teaching, will show the child of God the right way of believing concerning being an Ambassador, or how to rightly handle the ministry of reconciliation. The message that is carried forth by the Ambassador is based upon the right doctrine that has been provided by the Apostle in his ministry. In this we can see the difference between an Apostle and an Ambassador. The Apostle brings the right doctrine, sets the foundation, reveals the Light for a specific administration. Then the Ambassador walks forth in the doctrine that has been set forth by the Apostle.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
The foundation has been set by the Apostles and Prophets. Not the Apostles from the Administration of Christ and not the Prophets from the Old Testament. The Administration of Grace was a secret hidden in God until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul. The people spoken of here in verses 19 and 20 are the ministries from Ephesians 4:11.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul was THE Apostle that laid the foundation for the Administration of Grace. Later other men and women, by the will of God and through Jesus Christ, became Apostles. Just as Jesus Christ was THE Apostle that laid the foundation for the Kingdom of Heaven Administration and the twelve followed after him to spread that doctrine.
Some have declared that one of the qualifications for an Apostle is that he has seen the resurrected Christ, as with the twelve Apostles before Pentecost and Paul on the road to Damascus. But we must ask, is this really a requirement in order to serve as an Apostle?
In a sense that question has already been answered. We have seen that Timothy, Barnabas, and Silvanus are clearly identified as Apostles. Yet there is no indication in God's Word that these men ever saw the resurrected Christ. The same can be said about others who are identified as apostles in the Pauline Epistles with no indication that they had seen the resurrected Christ.
But let's take this thought pattern even further, why was this qualification put forth in Acts chapter 1 for the man who would replace Judas?
For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
When choosing another to replace Judas, Peter set the qualifications as someone who has been with us from the time Jesus was baptized unto that same day he ascended. This means he would have seen the resurrected Christ and this is where this logic originates.
Why was this even an issue? When the Apostle James was killed in Acts chapter 12 they didn't replace him, so why replace Judas when he dies? They needed to replace Judas because Judas quit, he gave up, he didn't fulfill the purpose for which he was ordained an Apostle.
These qualifications were placed upon someone because these Apostles were sent forth with the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, the same Gospel that Jesus taught during his earthly ministry. The twelve Apostles were prepared by Jesus to carry forth the message of the coming Kingdom of Heaven, the final Administration in the second heaven and earth. Then, it will be during that administration that the twelve Apostles will sit upon twelve thrones to judge the nation of Israel. When it comes to the Administration of the Kingdom of Heaven there will be only twelve Apostles, none other were added after Matthias in Acts chapter 1.
James was not replaced in Acts 12 because he carried out his ministry of an Apostle to the nation of Israel. Twelve thrones, for twelve Apostles to sit upon, to judge the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel during the Administration of the Kingdom of Heaven.
But in the Administration of Grace we do not preach or teach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, we preach and teach the Gospel of Christ, otherwise known as the Gospel of Grace. Paul saw the resurrected Christ because Paul is THE Apostle to the Administration of Grace. Apostles of the Kingdom of Heaven needed to see and then believe the same way God has always dealt with the nation of Israel. Therefore when the eleven Apostles moved to replace Judas, the one replacing him had to have seen the resurrected Christ. Further, he needed to have been with Jesus from his baptism because that is the only way Matthias would have been trained in the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus wanted them to carry to the nation of Israel.
But men and women in the Administration of Grace believe and then see because we have a new nature, a spiritual nature, a nature Israel will not enjoy until the King from Heaven returns to rule the earth. In the Administration of Grace we have solid, concrete proof of the resurrected Christ without ever having seen him physically. Only Paul needed to see and then believe, as with Israel, when he was on the road to Damascus because he is the first person in the Body of Christ. At that moment on the road to Damascus Paul was a part of Israel.
There is a distinction between an Apostle of the Kingdom of Heaven and an Apostle of the Church of the Body in the Administration of Grace. If this distinction is not recognized then you will end up with wrong doctrine like those in mainstream Christianity that have propounded the false doctrine of Cessationism.
The false doctrine of Cessationism, so prevalent in Christianity today and indeed has been a part of Christianity since the third century, declares, "that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and healing ceased with the original twelve apostles." It further dictates that apostles and prophets came to an end in the first century.
Origen, 185-253 A.D., states that the signs of the Apostolic Age were temporary and that no Christian of his time exercised any of these early "sign" gifts. The logic is simple, since I don't see it today or see it in my life, it must not be real or genuine. This logic makes the life of an individual the standard of Christianity rather than the Word of God.
Augustine, around 430 A.D., wrote, while commenting on the first epistle of John, "that speaking in tongues was a miracle suitable for the early church, but that it was no longer evident in his own time."
All those who follow the doctrine of Cessationism, have denied the doctrine that was taught by the Apostle Paul. They sound good, even eloquent, but they serve not our Lord Jesus Christ. Apollos was eloquent, a dynamic speaker, but he had wrong doctrine until he met Aquila and Priscilla. His wrong doctrine robbed the believers of the power God had given to everyone of His children. The false teachers of Cessationism also rob God's children of the power with which God has clothed them.
A Cessationist makes the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Gospel of Christ the same gospel. Yet in the Pauline epistles the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is not mentioned once. Yet the Gospel of Christ is only spoken of in the Pauline epistles, it is not mentioned by the twelve at any time. Both the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Gospel of Christ come under the overall heading of the Gospel of God, for God has good news both for the Nation of Israel and for the Gentiles.
1 Timothy 2:7
Whereunto I am ordained (tithemi - to set or place) a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in (en - dative case, referring to the sphere of action) faith (pistis - the right way of believing) and verity (aletheia -truth).
This is the ministry of the Apostle Paul in a nutshell.
He would go to a new area, like Galatia or Macedonia and he would preach the Word of God. The Greek word for "preacher" is keryx and it means to be a herald or messenger. This is Paul acting upon his ministry of reconciliation, that which is common to all believers. After he delivered the basic message of salvation in Christ, to those who believed he taught them as the Apostle, declaring the new light, the right doctrine for our day and age, this administration. Finally, he would stay in an area for a period of time and function in the gift ministry of a Teacher, where he would expound upon the right doctrine, the right way of believing, as well as the right application or practice of that doctrine. The sphere of action of his teaching was the right way of believing.
This is an Apostle coming first to lay the foundation, so that the Body of believers, the members of the Body of Christ can believe and act rightly. This is what is meant when it is said an Apostle brings new light to his generation. Today that light is almost two thousand years old, but it is new to us since foolish and unlearned doctrines like Cessationism have hindered the right doctrine of the Administration of Grace.
Because the false doctrine of Cessationism has eliminated or watered down the true purpose of the ministries Jesus Christ gave to the Body when he ascended, the Body of believers are spiritually weak and powerless for the most part. Further, without the proper functioning of these ministries, we have become so divided that The World Christian Encyclopedia states there are over 1,200 Christian groups in America alone and some 34,000 Christian groups throughout the world. Without these ministries functioning we have become a Body that is torn apart and incapable of edifying itself in love as spoken of in Ephesians chapter 4.
Christians, beginning with leadership, have spent so much of their time learning and studying the thoughts and writings of men that they have failed to go to God's Word for the answers He has provided. On the off chance that today's mainstream Christian leadership does go near the Word of God it becomes an exercise in twisting and perverting what God so clearly declares to be His Will.
There is a great deal of talk among theologians about "sola scriptura" which literally means "by scripture alone", but then they go about making scriptures fit their already preconceived ideas derived from the musings of people like Origen and others who have failed to even realize that there is an Administration of Grace.
The spiritual gift the Apostle Paul was bringing to the Romans was his life and ministry as both an Apostle and a Teacher. Paul was required by God to walk forth in believing in order to operate these ministries and the Roman believers were required to receive with believing so that they could profit from what Paul would teach. That is why Romans 1:12 calls it "mutual believing."
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
This "mutual believing" would produce comfort for both the believers and for the Apostle Paul. The Greek word translated "comfort" is sumparakaleo. This Greek word is a combination of three different Greek words. Sum which means together. Para which means along side of. Kaleo which means to call in order to produce an effect. Overall the word means to call someone along side of yourself in order to produce an effect and that you would realize the benefit of that effect for all parties involved.
This is the Body of Christ edifying itself in love.
This is the Body of Christ functioning in and with the ministries of Ephesians 4.
This is the Word and Will of God.