The correct translation of the first command of Philippians 1:10 is, “test the things that differ.” Every student of the Word of God knows that in that Word there are things which differ; but very few of these students seem to know very much about testing the things that differ. Things in God’s Book differ because God’s dealings with different people in that Book differed. Intelligent Bible study demands the recognition of the different dispensations in the Bible.
About seven years after the death and resurrection of Christ those apostles who had companied with the Lord Jesus from the beginning of His earthly ministry (Acts 1:22) glorified God because then and there God granted repentance unto life to Gentiles. Acts 11:18. Then the leader of those apostles, Peter, said: “Men and brethren” in Acts 15:7.
“AND WHEN THERE HAD BEEN MUCH DISPUTING, PETER ROSE UP, AND SAID UNTO THEM, MEN AND BRETHREN, YE KNOW HOW THAT A GOOD WHILE AGO GOD MADE CHOICE AMONG US, THAT THE GENTILES BY MY MOUTH SHOULD HEAR THE WORD OF THE GOSPEL, AND BELIEVE. AND GOD, WHICH KNOWETH THE HEARTS, BARE THEM WITNESS, GIVING THEM THE HOLY GHOST, EVEN AS HE DID UNTO US;”
“AND PUT NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THEM, PURIFYING THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH.” Acts 15:7 to 9.
Up to that time it was unlawful for the Jews to keep company with Gentiles. Acts 10:28. Some years later Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, wrote:
“FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GREEK: FOR THE SAME LORD OVER ALL IS RICH UNTO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM.” Romans 10:12.
Then he added:
“BUT I SAY, DID NOT ISRAEL KNOW? FIRST MOSES SAITH, I WILL PROVOKE YOU TO JEALOUSY BY THEM THAT ARE NO PEOPLE, AND BY A FOOLISH NATION I WILL ANGER YOU.” Romans 10:19.
“FOR IF THOU WERT CUT OUT OF THE OLIVE TREE WHICH IS WILD BY NATURE, AND WERT GRAFFED CONTRARY TO NATURE INTO A GOOD OLIVE TREE; HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THESE, WHICH BE THE NATURAL BRANCHES, BE GRAFFED INTO THEIR OWN OLIVE TREE.” Romans 11:24.
Then later on he wrote:
“THAT AT THAT TIME YE WERE WITHOUT CHRIST, BEING ALIENS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL, AND STRANGERS FROM THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE, HAVING NO HOPE, AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD.”
“AND CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHICH WERE AFAR OFF, AND TO THEM THAT WERE NIGH.” Ephesians 2:12 and 17.
From these Scriptures we learn that there had been a difference between Israel and the Gentiles. The Gentiles had been “no people”, “a foolish nation”. Israel was the People of God; His chosen nation. Gentiles were the wild tree; Israel the natural branches. Gentiles were afar off. Israel was nigh. Gentiles had been aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; strangers from the covenants of promise. Concerning Israel, the Scriptures declare:
“WHO ARE ISRAELITES; TO WHOM PERTAINETH THE ADOPTION, AND THE GLORY, AND THE COVENANTS, AND THE GIVING OF THE LAW, AND THE SERVICE OF GOD, AND THE PROMISES; WHOSE ARE THE FATHERS, AND OF WHOM AS CONCERNING THE FLESH CHRIST CAME, WHO IS OVER ALL, GOD BLESSED FOREVER.. AMEN.” Romans 9:4 and 5.
“YE ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE PROPHETS, AND OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD MADE WITH OUR FATHERS, SAYING UNTO ABRAHAM, AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.” Acts 3:25.
In Romans 2:14 we read, “The Gentiles which have not the law.”
Thus we see that there was a difference between Israel and the Gentiles. While the Lord Jesus was on earth He called Israel “sheep” and “children”. He called Gentiles “dogs”. Matthew 15:21 to 27. There is a great difference between children and dogs. But about 25 years later God declared there was no difference.
While on earth the Lord Jesus said to the twelve apostles, “go not in the way of the Gentiles.” Matthew 10:5. Some years later the same Lord Jesus said to Paul, “I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21. Test the things that differ.
Unto the Twelve was committed the gospel of the circumcision for the circumcision. Unto Paul was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision for the uncircumcision. Galatians 2:7 to 9. Test the things that differ.
“The law having a shadow of good things to come.” Hebrews 10:1. There is a difference between the shadow and good things to come. Test the things that differ. Israel was judged with respect to meats and drinks and holy days and the sabbath. Exodus 20:1 to 12. Hebrews 9:10. The members of Christ’s Body are not to be judged with respect to any kind of religious ordinances or special days. Colossians 2:13 to 17. Test the things that differ.
The New Covenant Church of Hebrews 2:12 and Hebrews 12:23 was mentioned by Israel’s prophets. Psalms 22:22. The Church, which is the Body of Christ, of Ephesians 1:19 to 22; Ephesians 3:6 to 9, and Colossians 1:24 to 28, was not mentioned by Israel’s prophets. Test the things that differ.
The sufferings and glory of Christ were foretold by Israel’s prophets. I Peter 1:12. The present ministry of Christ, as Head of the Church which is His Body, and Christ in the Gentiles the hope of glory, was a mystery (secret) not made known to Israel’s prophets. Ephesians 3:8 and 9. Colossians 1:25 to 27. Test the things that differ.
The Son of man is coming to Israel with His holy angels, in the clouds, with power and great glory. Luke 21:27 to 33. The members of the Body of Christ are to be called on high to appear with Christ in glory. Philippians, 3:11 to 21. Colossians 3:4. Test the things that differ. While Christ was on earth in the midst of Israel, and during the “Acts” period, while Israel’s temple in Jerusalem stood, and that Nation remained in their land; while God’s order was to the Jew first, there was a program of signs, visions, miracles, angelic visitations, healings, death judgments and religious ceremonies; but after Paul declared God’s judgment upon Israel, in Acts 28:25 to 28, about 63 A.D., there was a new order, ushering in the signless age of grace. I Timothy 5:23; II Timothy 4:20; Philippians 2:2. Is God’s program for today one of grace mixed with signs and religion, or a “signless” age of pure grace and no religion? Test the things that differ.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.