By Joseph L. Watkins
Continuing with our lesson from our last paper, we see Paul is deeply "concerned" always with "ALL" The Saints of God, in Christ Jesus, such had been his very life for over 25 years now. As a man redeemed through his faith in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he had always been a deeply concerned person. He had zealously defended the faith of Israel against what he perceived to be a false and unlawful worshiping of another fake Messiah, until he had a very personal encounter with that very Messiah.
But as a seeker of truth, even that Truth which was "Truth For That Day" - once he is shown that Truth, he does as any truly honest man should, he casts his lot wholeheartedly with that very truth. For Paul had always found it both sensible and logical to be a seeker of truth, and a "doer" of what he knew to be TRUTH.
So, he is naturally concerned about the negative report Epaphroditus has given on his return from Philippi. The saints there had also been seekers of The Truth of God. They had always been more than willing to "Search and See" - to search the divinely inspired scriptures and to see if what he was trying to preach was true to The Word.
However, this time Epaphroditus could not take them to a written record. This message they have been asked to believe. It was not in The Holy Scriptures, there was no written record - all was new.
Now, Epaphroditus may have been able to direct then to the prophetic words of truth concerning the Fall of Israel and the present "lo-ammi judgment" - but even there the prophet Hosea had only spoken in terms of days: see Hosea 3:4-5; 5:14-15 & 6:1-3. Yes, even many days - but not years. Even though they had come through one seventy year "lo-ammi judgment" no one could have even guessed that such a judgment might run into Two Millennium. And he may have been able to set before them some scriptures verifying that when the nation Israel is under the lo-ammi time. It is then that the Salvation Bringing Message of God, which was committed to John The Beloved to give to the world.
However, this new message that Paul is claiming to have received from The Spirit of All Truth Himself cannot be verified from The Holy Scriptures. Not one word of that message was ever given before it was made known to Paul, not even a hint of it. All of that message had been previously "Hid in God." Now God did know it, for it was His Message, and it had been treasured up in His heart from the first, from before the first act of founding the creation of all that has been created. For the whole purpose of creation is to fulfill the divine purpose held in this message. Yes, The Soul of This Dispensation is This Message.
So, with concern and a deep love filling his heart, Paul is moved to write not only one letter, but two, and even perhaps three. If what we are suggesting be true, Paul, The Lord's Apostle to ALL the saints of God in Christ Jesus, wrote four of his seven post-Acts Epistles at that time.
The first was the Philippian letter, and perhaps in writing that letter, he is moved and motivated to set forth "The Capstone" of The Seven, the Ephesian epistle. It is this record that sets forth in the fullest way - "The Great Musterion Truth of ... His Calling".
The Colossian letter is also sent at that same time, and with much of the same truth. Tychicus was to take both letters (Eph. 6:21 and Col. 4:7). Both of these groups had been more receptive of this new message, then the folks at Philippi, see Eph. 1:15 and Col. 1:4. Now as Tychicus is to go to these cities, Epaphroditus = (Epaphras) is to return to Philippi, and they go out from Rome together. Paul sees this as a great opportunity to get his new friend, Onesimus, back into favor with his master Philemon (see Col. 4:7-9 and Philemon 10). So this would make the fourth epistle that was sent out from Paul at this time.
Paul desires to go to "All Saints" but it is to Philippi that he is most drawn - see and study Phil. 2:17-30. So he must write this very difficult letter and as he writes he has always in view "the otherwise minded." And he is careful that in no way some might get the impression that he is upset with them, or feels that they are opposing him, for in fact they are not. His concern is that they understand their options, then it is each one's own responsibility to:
"work out their own salvation" and to do it with fear andtrembling." Phil. 2:12-13
As Paul starts his letter, he wants to assure each saint that he still holds "All" the saints in the highest regard, and that he feels no partiality toward any one group over another. Those who do not believe this new salvation message are still very much in his heart of hearts, and those who answer this "Call" in faith believing are, and will always be, "one" in Christ Jesus. Both are a part of that new humanity that is in Christ Jesus, even though the one may realize their Salvation on the Earth, and the other is to come to their Salvation in The Heavenlies. One may even be a part of that great company that constitutes "The Bride of Christ" which is to be in the New Jerusalem, and the other may be in "The Church which is His Body."