By Joseph L. Watkins
As we left Paul in our last paper, he was just speaking his last "official" words as an Apostle of Christ Jesus, testifying to the coming "parousia" of Messiah; Israel is dismissed; judgment is rendered; the books may now be closed; Paul's job is done; he is left alone - but for his guards.
Soon, perhaps that night, maybe the next day or even the next week, we do not know for sure, but soon - the Lord comes to him with a new charge, a new apostleship - "an altogether New Dispensation." A message of what some might call "MEGA-GRACE" a gospel message that lays beyond human comprehension.
Paul has had a number of encounters with the God of heaven, but nothing like this. Always before the Lord could call forth words of truth from his own recorded words of record, but this message has never before been made known - it has been hid from the first - hid in God. But Paul cannot keep it "hid" - he must tell of it.
Without delay he summons his co-workers and shares with them - The Gospel of Their Salvation - if so be that they can believe such wonderful news, they will be the very first to be enjoined with Paul in the "Out Calling" that is "The Body".
Oh, how Paul would have loved to go out to share this new message with every saint of God, in Christ Jesus that he knows - but he is bound as the prisoner of The Lord, so he must send his co-workers out to as many places as they can reach, as he and Timothy continue to share this message, and the message of "Life" in The Lord Christ Jesus, with "all that came in unto him" (Acts 28:30-31). Without question they would have been very busy just trying to answer the Many Big Questions of that hour.
After some time, perhaps a year or more, those "sent ones" begin to report in, and Epaphroditus is among them. Now one of the cities he had been to was Philippi as there was a number of saints living there. They had no synagogue but they honored and served The Lord, and were faithful to Paul.
However - they did not buy into this new message, this new dispensation that Paul is saying he has received. They do not believe that Paul received any such outlandish message, or they have made the decision to stay with the kingdom hope - even if it should be longer coming to them.
Permit me to digress a bit right here and make a couple of helpful observations. We should realize no one would have even guessed that this present age would have gone on for two thousand years. Israel had known other times of Lo-ammi judgments, 70 years once - but nothing like this. And for those who find it hard to imagine that any one would prefer a place in the long promised kingdom hope, as in Acts times - or to be in the great resurrection in the new earth over one in the heavenlies, that no one ever heard of before. Let me assure you many could, and do, I have talked to at least two dear saints of God that do, and I for one believe they will.
One more little lesson may also help us. In 1 Pet. 1:7 and 1:13, Peter is trying to encourage the saints. He is writing "to endure to the end," to the "apocalypse" unto the Lords coming "parousia" (Matt. 24:3, 1 Cor. 15:23 and 1 Thess. 4:15), and he seems to be confidently expecting to be alive and well at His Coming.
However, as he writes his second epistle, which was written as a direct result of what had taken place in Acts 28:28, and the Lords revealing to him that he is going to die "shortly" (2 Peter 1:14), so he is moved of the Spirit to now encourage these saints to "be established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12). What they must do to be well established is - "to make their calling and election sure" (2 Peter l:10). Now turn to 2 Peter 3:14-16: study it, asking yourself - what could Paul know and understand concerning the "parousia" of the Lord more than Peter? After all, he is to sit on one of the "twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). The only possible answer to this age old question, is at Paul has not been writing to them concerning anything out of Acts-Times, anything that Peter knows of, nothing concerning the people of Israel, as such. He has been trying to "make all men see what is the dispensation of - The Musterion Truth of The Body Hope." He wants all Saints of God in Christ Jesus to make this their "Calling and Election." This is present truth. He wants every saint that will, to exchange The Salvation Hope unto The Kingdom that they held in Acts-times, for "The New Salvation Hope" unto "His Calling" (Eph. 1:12-18).
Remember, many are called, but few are chosen. Only saints can be called, and only a Faithing One - is CHOSEN.
Let us return to Paul's beloved saints at Philippi, and I trust that you can now begin to see and understand just who and what the "otherwise minded" might be - they are "unbelieving" - believers.
Paul is quite concerned with the negative report he has received about the saints at Philippi, he really needs to go to them, he must talk with them, they have always been "Faithing Ones" regarding the word of God. The Truth of God's Word had always been so very precious in their sight, and they had always been so teachable and so eager to study the word. They were every bit as ready as the saints of Berea, to search the scriptures, and just as noble as well, but Oh! wait, there are no words of Scripture.