Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the apostles, part 4.
length: 66:29 - taught on Oct, 28 2021
Thursday October 28, 2021
Another parallel to apostles (sent ones) besides Moses and Aaron who were sent to Pharoah, are the OT prophets sent to Israel.
Both the apostle and OT prophet spoke for God; both warned of judgment upon sin; both delivered their message as from God; both dealt with contemporaneous events as well as predicted events of the future. The OT prophet has a lot in common with the NT prophet as well, but not everything. The OT prophet was national, sent to the nation of Israel, while the NT apostles were sent to the world. The OT prophet was to preserve Israel, getting the people and the kings to repent, while the NT prophets were to build the church.
Jesus told them that if the world hated Him then the world would hate them. So then, the apostles were sent into a world that would hate them and their message, and that guarantees their suffering for Christ’s sake. This was also true of Moses and the prophets.
The messenger sent by God into the world with His message will be persecuted and suffer. God may seem far off, but He’s not. They must have mature faith.
For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate [parakaleo - comfort, exhort]; we have become as the scum of the world [filth, “most abject and despicable men” Grimm-Thayer], the dregs of all things [that which is wiped off, offscouring], even until now.
“Scum” and “dregs” speak of the same thing - that which is discarded. The apostles were the most important men in the world at the time but the world could live without them, like trash.
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
Notice that Paul’s gospel and doctrines are the same everywhere, and that, before the Bible is written and copied.
Their incredible humility in suffering, their response to those who hate them is blessing and comfort and endurance, but that doesn’t mean that they were pushovers.
The apostle had to be tough, knowing with confidence that they spoke like God’s utterance and served in His power (1PE 4:10), and stand against falsehood.
Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power. [only the truth has power because truth is God Himself. Lies are mankind’s and powerless] 21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?
In vs. 21 the apostle gives them the opportunity to be like him. He is giving them an option, saying that they will alter the manner in which he comes if they will remove the false teachers from their midst. They could act with the courage and authority of the apostle and drive the false-teachers out.
Suffering was the inevitable calling of the apostle.
It is interesting to note that Paul was sent to Damascus by the Sanhedrin with letters, really warrants, for the arrest of Christians. Paul was the greatest persecutor of the church, but on His way, God interrupted that sending and sent Paul on His own special commission. On his initial task he was to bring believer bound to Jerusalem, but when God got hold of Him, God bound him to another way, the apostle to the Gentiles.
Before his conversion, Saul of Tarsus elected himself to destroy the church. Luke records, “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (ACT 9:1-2). God elected him, and this is no different for any believer, to his role as apostle.
Paul did not apply for his spiritual gift (nor does any believer), but sovereignly given by God, he was (and we are) under obligation.
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily [if I applied for the job], I have a reward; but if against my will [his ministry was given by God’s sovereign will], I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Each of us have a stewardship entrusted to us (gift, ministry, and works, 1CO 12:4-5). It is very important to you and yours.
The apostles are first, 1CO 12:28, so our stewardships are not as important as Paul’s, but let us each consider how important our ministry is to our closest loved ones, our families, our church, and our community, and to ourselves (fulfillment and joy in life). It is up to God how many people your ministry will touch, but you can bet it is a lot more than you know.
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum [modern day Hungary] I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Concerning the other apostles, the calling would be the same, though where they went and to whom they witnessed would have been different. By far we know the most about Paul thanks to Luke’s history volume, the Book of Acts. We know a little about Peter and John and Phillip in Samaria, Peter in Joppa and Phillip in Gaza.
Satan has counterfeit apostles who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ.
Before we leave the mighty office of apostle, we should note that Satan has a counterfeit.
As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 But what I am doing, I will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles [pseudapostoloi], deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.
Satan has attempted a forgery of everything good that God has given to this world.
Life, its meaning, marriage, family, education, government, defense, citizenship, knowledge, science, literature, culture, society, money, power, environment, etc. have all been perverted from the sound and right way that any of these can be done when people understand something of God’s way for them. Satan knows how to pervert them and how to get people to believe his perversion is the only and right way. Paul wrote that nothing is unclean in itself (ROM 14:14), and that all things were lawful for him, but that not all things are profitable (1CO 6:12). By the truth, all the right ways for a man and mankind can be known. Satan is not so stupid so as to pervert these things, openly showing what he really desires for mankind: weakness, slavery, and dependence upon him (really, sin and death). Propaganda must be deceitful. Satan disguises his perversion of good, covering his schemes with a veneer of good, e.g., the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
At the beginning of the church, there were many false teachers who infiltrated the ranks of the church, teaching perverse things. They were commissioned with spreading the gospel throughout the world and teaching what was revealed to them, establishing churches and so establishing the church itself. Satan attempted to copy them with men of his own, and his efforts showed some success, as with Arius who influenced many in the third century to believe that Jesus Christ wasn’t God.