Jun 05

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Put your eyes on the New Testament Library and look at the shelves and the books that are found there. Keeping in mind, that there are twenty-seven books, found on the six shelves (If I have not used this number of shelves, in the other articles in this series, please forgive this humble writer!). Just for a review, the first shelf has the four gospel accounts written by Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John; the second shelf has but one book, “Acts of the Apostles,” which was written by Luke; the third shelf is that which has the letters to the churches and there are nine books located on this shelf; the fourth shelf holds the letters to preachers and there are but three such books: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. We have now arrived at the books, that I call the “General Letters” and as we count them, we notice that there are nine books located on this shelf. These are the most diverse books; starting with Philemon with the last being Jude; on either end, if you will notice, both of these are one “chapter” letters but Hebrews has thirteen chapters. The final shelf, the sixth shelf, has but one book on it. It is like no other book in the New Testament. It is: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Now, I would be amiss, if I did not notice these words: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:3). With this review, we now move on.
This article will cover the “Letters to the Churches.” So, what should we notice while doing our little study of these books? The first point that needs our attention are Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Many people miss this clear and pointed text! Paul was not just writing things that had no “authority” but what he wrote, things which the Holy Spirit delivered to him, were in fact, “the commandments of the Lord!” He was not writing his “opinions!” He was not writing things that were to be taken as “options!” Once more notice his words: “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” The word “commandments” is the Greek “entole” and has the following meanings: “1) an order, command, charge, precept, injunction 1a) that which is prescribed to one by reason of his office 2) a commandment 2a) a prescribed rule in accordance with which a thing is done” (Thayer). Strong gives: “injunction, that is, an authoritative prescription: – commandment, precept.” If there was any question as to what Paul meant, Thayer and Strong should have removed any such!
The first thing we learn is in the first chapter of Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). God has but one “power” unto salvation! In the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, verses four and six, Paul used the Greek word “paraggello,” which is translated “command” but is not the same Greek word used in the Corinthians verse. Here Paul wrote: “… that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” and “Now we command you, …” The Greek word used in these two verses means: “1) to transmit a message along from one to another, to declare, announce 2) to command, order, charge” (Thayer). Once more we must notice, that Paul is not writing his “opinions” but “commands!” The same authority which Paul is using in all of his writings is as one of the “ambassador of Christ (2 Cor 5:30). Now, with this thought in mind, notice what Paul wrote to the church in Colosse: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3: 2). Is this a “suggestion” (a proposal) or a “command?” Is it something that must be done, as in obeyed, if one is to be pleasing to God? Notice, just where we are, if we obey the words in verse two; as Paul wrote that, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). First, Paul says, “For” the Greek “gar,” “A primary particle; properly assigning a reason”- Strong) ye are (presently) dead (separated).” Separated from what? Friends, separated from the “world,” from “sin!” Now look at Paul’s next words: “and your life is hid.” The word “hid” is the Greek, “krupto” and is “A primary verb; to conceal (properly by covering).” (Strong). Finally, notice this: “with Christ in God.”
Friends, may God never see us outside of Christ! Outside of the blood of Christ! Salvation is in Christ!

Frank R. Williams

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