THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
There seems to be unanimous agreement among the students of the Word of God that Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, between 64 A.D. and 66 A.D.; after the judgment of God was pronounced upon Israel. Acts 28:25 to 28. The expression in the Epistle, “my bonds” (Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:13, Philippians 1:14, Philippians 1:16) seems to mark this Epistle as a “Prison” Epistle. If Paul suffered (or rejoiced in) two imprisonments in Rome, the Epistle to the Philippians was written during his first imprisonment. We can learn this by comparing with Paul’s final words, II Timothy 4:7 to 18, his statements in Philippians 1:26 and 2:24, “by my coming to you again”; “I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” The uncertainty of Paul’s liberty is expressed in Philippians 2:23—“I shall see how it will go with me.”
That there had been a decided change in Paul’s attitude toward the religion of the Jews since he visited Philippi some 12 years before (Acts 16:12), a change after Acts 28:25 to 28, there should be no doubt in our minds.
The standing of the Nation Israel, in the place of special Divine favor, had changed with Acts 28:25 to 28. While they maintained that place of Divine favor, with the gospel “to the Jew first” and enjoyed other priority rights, up to the close of the “Acts” period, Paul had carried on a two-fold spiritual program, one order for “the Jews that believed”, Acs 21:18 to 20, and another order for “the Gentiles that believed”. Acts 21:25. The practice of circumcision among “Jews that believed” continued. Therefore, Paul circumcised Timothy immediately before Timothy went to Philippi with Paul. Acts 16:3. Paul became a Jew to the Jews, as one under the law; but not to the Gentiles. I Corinthians 9:20 to 22. Paul, in so doing, was not disobeying the Word of the Lord, or going contrary to the will of God, because of his prejudice in favor of the Jews, or because of a seeming ungovernable zeal to win Israel; that heart’s desire which is expressed in Romans 9:2 and 3: “great heaviness—continual sorrow in my heart.” “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren (Israel)”. And Romans 10:1 “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel.” No, it was because of God’s extended mercy to His chosen nation. After Christ had pronounced that terrible judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem and had wept for His people, He prayed on the cross that His Father would forgive them, on the grounds of ignorance. Matthew 22:7, Luke 21:20 to 24, Luke 23:34. The Father was willing. Acts 3:14 to 21. They were warned again, through Paul, some years later. Acts 13:40 We may learn, by reading “The Acts”, that for more than thirty years, after the prayer of the dying Prince of Life, Israel was preserved and protected by God in their land; enjoying the favor of Rome, until God’s appointed time for Israel’s destruction arrived. The Jews continued their services in their temple at Jerusalem with their feasts. Acts 20:16. As late as 60 A.D., about 27 years after the prayer of Christ on the cross, Paul quoted Israel’s law in apologizing to Israel’s high-priest. Acts 23:1 to 5. Paul further declared, “I am a Pharisee.” Acts 23:6, In Philippians 3:5, “I was a Pharisee.” Some of the things that he practiced before Acts 28:25 to 28, while becoming as a Jew, under the law, to Jews, he counted as dung in Philippians 3:5 to 8. Paul was not out of the will of God in waiting until he was the Lord’s prisoner in Rome before he changed his attitude toward Israel and the Jew’s religion. He never changed until God changed. Compare Acts 28:25 to 28 with Isaiah 6:5 to 8. Read Acts 13:46. Acts 18:6. Romans 11:1 to 8, Romans 11:11 and Romans 11:30.
God’s order was no longer, “to the Jew first,” after Acts 28:25 to 28. “The Jews require a sign.” I Corinthians 1:22. They were given many of them. The words “miracle, sign and wonders are found more than 30 times in the Lord’s messages during the “Acts” period. (Acts, II Thessalonians, Galatians, I and II Corinthians, Romans). But these words are not once mentioned in Paul’s Epistles, written after Acts 28:28. (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus, Philemon, I and II Timothy). Certain gifts were to cease; faith, hope and love were to abide. I Corinthians 13:8 to 13. The “now” of I Corinthians 13:13 should be studied with the “now” of Philippians 1:5 and Ephesians 2:13 and Ephesians 3:6.
It is in Philippians 1:10 that the believer is instructed to distinguish between things that differ (original text). Paul’s attitude toward Israel’s religious program before Acts 28:28 certainly differed from his attitude after Acts 28:28. If the spiritual program of “believing. Jews” and “believing Gentiles”, baptized into one Body, remained the same before and, after Acts 28:28, and if that “Acts” spiritual program is for members of the Body of Christ today, then the sign-gifts of I Corinthians 12:8 to 11 should be practiced by God’s people and included in the spiritual program of every “church” claiming to be a part of the true Bible Church. But where is there to be found among the most spiritual believers of today members of Christ’s Body with the gifts of miracles, tongues, healings, discerning of spirits, et al, except in the counterfeit?
Because of the absence of these sign-gifts and the difference between the spiritual program of the Body of I Corinthians 12:13 and the Body of Ephesians 3:6, there are certain brethren who teach that these two Bodies are altogether different, two distinct Bodies. The Body of I Corinthians (and Romans) was a different Body from the Body of Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians; not only with different spiritual programs, but each of these two Bodies sustained entirely different relations to Israel and were blessed with entirely different hopes and callings. These two Bodies were headed for two entirely different destinations. They were waiting for two entirely different “days of Christ”. The first Body, of I Corinthians, and the “Acts” period, was waiting for the coming (apokalupsis) of Christ (I Corinthians 1:7), the parousia of Christ. That coming was the hope of that Body and the members were to take the Lord’s Supper “till He come”. (erkomai) (I Corinthians 11:26). That coming of Christ (apokalupsis) (parousia) (erkomai) was altogether different from the appearing of Christ mentioned in II Timothy 4:1, or the hope of the “Post-Acts” church expressed in Philippians 3:20 and 21. Because the parousia of Christ was postponed from Acts 28:28 to the coming tribulation period, the “till He come” has had no meaning for members of any Body of Christ since Acts 28:28; and therefore the Lord’s Supper is not for the Body of this dispensation. The blessed hope of members of the “Post-Acts” Body is Titus 2:13. These brethren are agreed that the coming of Christ, which was the hope of the Corinthians, was also the hope of the Philippians, during the “Acts” period. But they claim that the hope of the Philippians was entirely different from their first hope at the time of Paul’s Epistle to those saints. The hope of believers since Paul wrote from Rome, as the prisoner of the Lord Jesus for Gentiles, has been different from the hope expressed in I Corinthians 1:7 and 8. Inasmuch, therefore, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians before Acts 28:28 and to the Philippians after Acts 28:28, the “day of the Lord Jesus Christ”, mentioned in I Corinthians 1:8, is not the “day of Jesus Christ”, and the “day of Christ”, mentioned in Philippians 1:6, Philippians 1:10, Philippians 2:16. This is a part of the argument for two Bodies.
These statements may seem startling to some students of the Word of God absurd nonsense to others. But inasmuch as this teaching is being given out and received by God’s people, as very sound doctrine, and indeed as higher truth, I presume we are agreed that it is high time that we search the Scriptures and see whether these things be true. The study of Philippians alone is enough to prove that this teaching is worse than sheer nonsense.
TWO PHILIPPIAN CHURCHES?
Were there two Bodies in Philippi, one “Acts” Body, and one “Post-Acts” Body? These brethren say dogmatically “yes”. We ask them, to which of the two Bodies did Paul address his Epistle? If he addressed both Bodies in one Epistle, then they must have been blessed with the same spiritual blessings, waiting for the same coming of Christ and for the same day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If it can be proved that Paul, in his Epistle to the Philippians, was addressing the same company of believers that he left in Philippi, years before he became the prisoner of the Lord Jesus in Rome, the whole theory of the two different Bodies, two different appearings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and two different destinations is disproved. If this is disproved, this should persuade these brethren to confess that their teaching concerning the absence of the Lord’s Supper from the present Body is fallacy.
“THREE DAYS” AND “ALL”
Perhaps Three Days, mentioned in the Epistle to the Philippians, will help us in our study; also the little word “All”. The Three Days are mentioned in chapter 1. verses 5 and 6. “From the First Day until NOW (this Day) … Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it, until the DAY of Jesus Christ.” “The Day of Christ” Philippians 1:10. “The Day of Christ.” Philippians 2:16. Here we have three Days The First Day that Paul preached the Gospel in Philippi, (about 52 A.D.) Now, the Day he wrote the Epistle; (about 64 A.D. The Day of Jesus Christ, the Day of Christ, yet future; some day later than Easter Sunday, 1936 A.D. The work begun in 52 A.D. was continuing in the same believers in 64 A.D. and will continue until the Day of Jesus Christ, the very same day until which the Corinthian saints, saved after the Philippian saints, were to be confirmed “the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 1:8.
Read carefully Philippians 1:5 and note that the fellowship between the saints at Philippi had gone on uninterrupted from the very First Day. The First Day is recorded in Acts 16:12 to 31. “Until Now”. By those who teach two Bodies, much emphasis is placed upon the Now of Ephesians 2:13 and Ephesians 3:5 and Colossians 1:24 and Colossians 1:26. Then let us emphasize the Now of Philippians 1:5 and be instructed by the unbroken continuity of the fellowship in the gospel. And don’t forget the Now of I Corinthians 13:13. Every one must at once agree that the believers, saved when Paul preached in Philippi, were in the “Post-Acts” Body of Christ, as well as in the Body of the “Acts” period. Doubtless some believers died before Acts closed. They must have died outside of the “Post-Acts” Body, according to the brethren whom we have designated, “theorists”. They died outside of the spiritual sphere and super celestial hope of their fellow-believers who lived this side of Acts 28:28. You say, “this is worse than a theory.” I agree with you heartily. Undoubtedly some believers had been added to the Church at Philippi, after Paul left there. Some of those were added before he reached Rome; and some of them added: after he reached Rome. Were they added to two different Churches? Were the first additions to the “Covenant” Church at Philippi and the second additions to the “Mystery” Church at Philippi? It is even taught by some of these believers in Two Bodies, that members of the “Covenant” Church, who rejected truth that would have meant their transfer to the “Mystery” Church were not transferred. But Philippians 1:5 is the negation and refutation of such unsound exegesis.
Let us carefully note Philippians 2:12, that the believers at Philippi obeyed both during Paul’s presence with them, and during his absence from them. These are the same “beloved” who had fellowshipped with Paul from the First Day right down to the Day he wrote this “Mystery” Church Epistle. He was writing to “beloved brethren” who had seen something in Paul when Paul was in their midst. Philippians 1:30 and Philippians 4.:9. Paul was writing to the same “beloved brethren” that had sent help to him when he was in trouble in Thessalonica, in Acts 17:1 to 9. Read Philippians 4:15 and 16.
Now, the little word, “All”. “To ALL the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi.” Philippians 1:1. .”Ye All are partakers of my grace.” Philippians 1:7. “I long after you ALL” Philippians 1:8. If there were two classes of saints at Philippi composing two different Bodies, at the time Paul wrote this Prison Epistle, Paul didn’t know anything about it. He ignorantly addressed both of them without any distinction, without any knowledge that they were rejoicing in different hopes and waiting for different appearings of Christ and different days of Jesus Christ. We sincerely trust this will convince these teachers of their unsound teaching. Some of them are servants of the Lord who love Him and His Word, but are like those zealous Israelites who had zeal without knowledge. Another “ALL” in Philippians 1:25, the next verse: “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you ALL for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me BY MY COMING TO YOU AGAIN.”
Paul wanted to abide and continue; with how many of the saints at Philippi? With ALL. He desired to take a journey to Philippi and apparently expected to take that journey SHORTLY. “But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” 2:24. He did not know how it was going with him. Philippians 2:23. He did not know how it was going with the saints at Philippi. But intended, if possible, to send Timothy shortly to Philippi. Philippians 2:19. Paul’s name was in the Book of Life with those who had laboured with Paul in Philippi years before.
After reading this Epistle we learn that the theory that Paul went back to Philippi, after his imprisonment at Rome, preached there a different grace gospel or presented a new “Mystery” Body, with a different hope and calling, is exploded.
But some of these brethren tell us that we should be instructed by Philippians 3:11 to 14 that Paul himself had not yet attained unto membership in the “Mystery” Body. But the “OUR CITIZENSHIP” of Philippians 3:20 is the negation of this fantasy.
That the coming of the Lord for His Body and unto Israel, are different, no student of the Scriptures should deny; but that the hope of I Corinthians 1:7 is different from the hope of Philippians 3:20 to 21, no student of the Scriptures should believe.