By Joseph L. Watkins
For some months now we have been sharing with you how we understand "The Spirit of All Truth" would have us apply The Divine Law of Right Division.
Now we have been seeking a truer understanding and appreciation of the place that the book of Philippians holds for the saints today, and what it might have held in the day it was sent out from Paul.
Let me set something in your mind that I trust will prove helpful as we seek the truth of God's word. It should be recognized that the seven to ten year time between Acts 28:28 or A.D. 63 to A.D. 73, was beyond any question the most difficult and complex period in biblical reasoning. It was not just perchance that Paul instructed Timothy right in the heart of that time, to diligently work at the task of dividing the word of truth rightly. Many things were being said, and much of it with biblical authority.
This first of Paul's seven post-Acts epistles, Philippians, is, and has always been, a most controversial part of Scripture from a dispensational point of view. Some good and faithful men have tried to discount it as truth written with the Outcalled Body in view. Other men of God have tried to say all of it was given only with "The Body" in view, and both sides are very convinced of their position.
We feel that the answer to such a difficulty might just be found in "the otherwise minded" of Phil. 3:15. One major point of contention is the reference to "the day of Jesus Christ" in Phil. 1:6, and to "the day of Christ" in both Phil. 1:10 and 2:16. Some folks view such expressions as having the Kingdom in view which would disqualify it as having been written with this age in view.
However, we see this as another good example of our need for the Law of Right Division. We have been given a number of "Days" in the Scriptures, each with defining terms to help us to determine the day. Presently we are in "The Day of Man"
(1 Cor. 4:3). See note in C.B. That day started with Adam (Gen. 1:26-27), and will not end until all the seed of Adam's race have perished from this earth, which we take to be at the end of the Thousand Year Kingdom. Yes, man had a beginning, and because of his nature, must have an end. For a "New Humanity" is now resident in the Second Man, the last Adam, which will have no end.
So, when does "The Day of Jesus Christ" start? Well, technically, it started the hour that Christ Jesus was reborn from the dead in resurrection power. But speaking in practical terms, it will start when the first dead man is made to live once again in resurrection power - "In Christ Jesus."
Just when that might be, we are not told precisely. However, one of the most convincing elements of this epistle having been written with "The Outcalled Body" in view is "The Out Resurrection" (Phil. 3:11). The Greek, ek=out, anastasis=resurrection, the out from among the dead, resurrection implies a prior resurrection, and that Day must be in the day of Christ Jesus.
However, we must also fully realize that Paul is dealing with many folks that have made the very vital decision to stay with "The Old Kingdom Hope" - and they will also have their part in The Day of Christ Jesus, for all saints of God, in Christ Jesus must have a part of "That Great Day".
Another aspect of this epistle which may cause some folks to swerve away from identifying it as having been written to and for the edification of "The Outcalled Body" is found in Phil. 3:1-9 and the word circumcision, and in particular the words "we are the circumcision." They are quick to respond, "I am not a part of that 'we'" - and it may be safe to say they are not. For this circumcision is of the heart, a cutting out of the fleshly heart, a cutting off of all worship of the hands - for these words cannot be "rightly divided" from the words - "which worship God in the spirit and have no confidence in the flesh." Now we must also be quick to respond to those who feel the need to cut themselves off from this letter of Paul's, that they must also do the same with the epistle to Colosse, on the same basis (see Col. 2:8-13) - which a few men already do.
Another subject found in Philippians that some find to be inconsistent with their method of identifying what they might call "Truth For Today" is the reference in Phil. 1:1 to "the bishops and deacons" - #1985 the episkopos, and #1249 the diakonos, (we recommend a thorough study of both).
Their thinking is we do not have such offices in the church which is His Body, and of which Christ Jesus is its only office holder as the Head. To this truth we do wholeheartedly agree. As this Body is not a organization, but a living organism, and as such needs none other but our one Lord Who is its all sufficient - ONE.
However, we again point out that most of those first reading Paul's words in this epistle were a part of what had been for some years known as a church, a local church organization which had need for such men (1Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:4-15). And even yet, today, such men have a place in the out workings of God, both among the children of God in Christ Jesus that make up the many local church organizations throughout the world, and that rare occasion when a large number of the Body may need an overseer and a minister.