Qualifications and Ministries
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
You do not see it in the English but due to the use of Greek conjunctions this verse identifies who is a prophet and who is a teacher. The conjunction is the Greek word te and it is used twice in this verse. Te is used to show connection and addition. In this case connecting certain names with prophet and other names with teacher.
The first time it is translated “as” just before the name of Barnabas. The second time it is translated “and” before the name Manaen. The use of te before Barnabas connects Barnabas, Simeon, and Lucius as prophets. While the use of te before Manaen connects, Manaen and Saul (Paul) as teachers.
Acts 14 also informs us that both Barnabas and Paul are apostles.
Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,
Paul’s ministry is described further in Timothy.
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
2 Timothy 1:11
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
God describes Paul as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher. While Barnabas is described in Acts as a prophet and an apostle.
So, what exactly do these titles mean?
A prophet is someone who speaks for God. The ministry of a prophet may include foretelling, like with Agabus in Acts 11:28 and Acts 21:10, but it will always have speaking forth God’s Word. The main purpose of a prophet, as seen throughout the Old Testament, is to call God’s people back to God.
The ministry of a teacher is to teach God’s Word. An example of this can be seen with Ezra.
So, they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
A teacher will open God’s Word and give you the sense of what has been written so that you can be edified. As with the two men on the road to Emmaus, their hearts burned within them, as Jesus opened to them the scriptures. This is the goal of every teacher of God’s Word.
The Greek word translated preacher is keryx and it means to be a herald. What does it mean to be a herald? A herald was the one who would walk through a town giving the information that the King wanted his people to know. A preacher would come in the name of the one who sent him and would carry the authority of the one who sent him. An example of this would be the prophet Jonah, although he only had one city in which to proclaim his message, the city of Nineveh, he was God’s preacher, God’s town crier.
So, Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
Jonah only had one city to go to, but it was so large that it took three days to walk across the breath of the city.
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
This was the message God wanted Jonah to deliver to the people of Nineveh as His preacher and prophet. The problem Jonah had with the situation is that Nineveh was an enemy of Israel and Jonah wanted them dead. But Jonah knew God would be merciful to them if they repented. Jonah’s problem was political, while Nineveh’s problem was spiritual.
So, the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
The simple definition of an apostle is a sent one, who carries a message for the one who sent him. He also carries the authority of the one who sent him. In light of the message that Paul brought you can add to this definition that the message he brought was new light. For Paul, the message had never been shared or spoken in previous administrations.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship [oikonomia = administration] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
The message Paul carried was hidden in God from the beginning of the world. That means God never shared this with anyone, nor did He have it written in His Word before God inspired Paul to write the Church Epistles.
Now to get a full or complete understanding of this verse in Ephesians 3:9 we need to consider a few of the different Greek words and how they are translated. We will begin with the word fellowship.
In the Critical Greek Text, the Greek word translated “fellowship” is oikonomia which means administration. Consider these other translations.
and to enlighten all [with the knowledge of] what is the administration of the mystery hidden throughout the ages in God, who has created all things,
and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
New International Version
So, what we are dealing with here is an administration, not the fellowship of the mystery but an administration concerning a mystery. The word mystery is mysterion and it means, something hidden or a secret. In this case a secret hidden in God. So, a divine secret that was revealed to the Apostle Paul, new light about the heart and work of God.
Next, the Greek word translated “world” is aion and it is plural. A better translation would have been ages. God kept this mystery hidden within Himself throughout all the ages, meaning from the Paradise Administration through the Revealing Administration, God never shared this mystery.
Then, at the close of the verse, we have the words “by Jesus Christ.” These words were added by someone looking to improve on what God had inspired. They are absent from the earliest texts, such as the Syriac, the Ethiopic, the Vulgate, the Coptic, and many other manuscripts.
So, in Ephesians 3:9 we are dealing with an administration.
If ye have heard of the dispensation (oikonomia = administration) of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
An administration about the grace of God was given to Paul. As an apostle, a sent one, this is the message he was sent to deliver. Paul came with the power and authority of the one who sent him, in this case God sent him through the ministry and direction of Christ Jesus. Therefore, our administration is called the Administration of Grace and not the administration of the mystery or the administration of the divine secret.
…so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
In the Administration of Grace, Paul went forth with the Gospel of Grace.
Consider the full impact of what I have just shared with you.
God kept this administration a secret, within Himself, until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul. Then as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher Paul was to carry this gospel from town to town proclaiming what God desired the people to know. This Gospel of Grace was not written in the Old Testament writings. This Gospel of Grace was not written in the Gospels about the earthly ministry of Jesus. This Gospel of Grace was not written about in the General Epistles which are addressed to Israel in the Revealing Administration.
THIS DIVINE SECRET CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE PAULINE EPISTLES.
THIS GOSPEL OF GRACE CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN THE PAULINE EPISTLES!
No wonder God declares in Corinthians that Paul is our father in the Word.
1 Corinthians 4:14-15
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel.
I have learned aspects of God’s Word from many, many instructors, many different people. The Greek word for instructors is paidagogos. Remember when we considered 2 Timothy 3:16 and we looked at the Greek word for instruction, paideia? They both come from the same root word, pais. The difference between the two is Timothy is speaking of the words of instruction and Corinthians is speaking of the instructor.
We all have had many instructors in God’s Word, but we only have one father in God’s Word and that is the Apostle Paul.
Paul has been dead, and awaiting the Return, for almost two thousand years, how could he be our father in God’s Word?
Consider Elijah and Elisha.
2 Kings 2:12a
And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father…
This was Elisha’s statement when he witnessed Elijah go into heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah was not his literal father, but Elijah taught Elisha how to be a man of God. Elisha cried out, “My father, my father…” The same principle is true with those who believe in the Administration of Grace through the words of the Apostle Paul.
Paul is our father in God’s Word because God inspired Paul to write everything about this divine secret. Paul wrote, by revelation received from Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of [from] Jesus Christ.
All the doctrine for how a believer should live and walk with God in our administration Paul received from Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Body (Ephesians 1:22-23).
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
No other writer of God’s Word teaches believers about the Administration of Grace. It is not in the Old Testament, it is not in the Gospels, it is not in the General Epistles. God’s Gospel of Grace, that He revealed to the Apostle Paul, is only in the Pauline Epistles.
Back to our definition of an apostle. An apostle would be one who is sent to carry a message, he would carry the authority of the one who sent him, and he would bring new spiritual light to those to whom he or she is speaking. The same would be true for the twelve apostles on the day of Pentecost and beyond. Their light to the Revealing Administration was also new light.
An example of the new light Paul brought can be seen in Paul’s first teaching, which is recorded later in Acts chapter 13.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
We will explore the magnificence of justification at another time, but briefly, how many sins do you think you committed in your past? How often have you acted against the will of God? Justified means all of that is removed! It is gone! It is removed and gone because it has been paid for, God removed our indebtedness.
Not after you have accomplished some righteous task or action.
Not after you have gotten on your knees and fervently confessed every sin you ever committed.
Not after Christ has returned and set things straight.
But right now, immediately after you accept Jesus as your Lord and believe God raised him from the dead.
Justified, in Acts 13:39, is in the present tense, indicative mood, and the passive voice. Sounds boring, I know. But if you understand these points of grammar, it means right now, present tense. It is a fact, indicative mood. This act of justification is God acting, not you, passive voice. Consider what else is said in this verse.
You do not have to search the Law given to Moses; this verse tells you the Law given to Moses could not accomplish this action. That means if you followed the entire Law given to Moses you still would not receive this justification. Now consider what Peter taught concerning the Revealing Administration.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Israel is offered justification, when Christ returns, some time in the future! Not when they believed in Acts 2 or Acts 3, but in the future! Now it is phenomenal that Israel will receive justification, if they meet the spiritual qualifications, once they are raised from the dead.
But the Administration of Grace is utterly amazing! For the first time in the history of God’s Word, justification is offered, by God, immediately! Paul is bringing new spiritual light. Paul is opening the transition into a new administration and the new administration is unlike any that have preceded it.
This is unheard of, this is unique, this is part of the mystery God has kept secret within Himself since before all the Ages began. This is part of the Administration of Grace. Acts 13 opens a spiritual world never even considered before Paul opens his mouth and begins to teach. That is why the Adversary’s response upon hearing the teaching of Paul was so astounding.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world [aion = Ages, plural] unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world [read devil spirits] knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
If the Adversary had known this mystery, he would not have crucified Jesus Christ. The Adversary would have preferred getting his spiritual butt kicked by Jesus Christ, many times every day, rather than what God has brought to pass in this the Administration of Grace. That alone should whet your appetite to know what God has accomplished for those who believe in the Administration of Grace.
Your justification is only the tip of the iceberg of all that God has wrought in Christ for all who will hear, learn, and walk forth in the divine secret, the Gospel of Grace, that God revealed to the Apostle Paul.
…These that have turned the world [oikoumene = the inhabited world] upside down are come hither also.
God’s divine secret, the Administration of Grace, can turn the world upside down once again as minds are filled with what God has accomplished for you and for me.
So begins the transition into the Administration of Grace.
© Auxano Ministry 2021