Paul begins his address
By: Scott Morton
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,  To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul begins his epistles in a similar manner. He identifies who he is, who it is that he is writing to, and gives a greeting which has doctrinal application to the members of the Body of Christ.
As he begins, he is giving a statement to confirm his apostleship and position in the Body of Christ. This is something which has clearly been a question which is coming up as he is dealing with individuals. The Word of God speaks about who Paul is:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
These statements to Ananias show what is going to happen with the Apostle Paul. He has been chosen to bear the name of Jesus Christ, which includes the message which will be given to him, to Gentiles, kings, and to Israel. This is further explained by the Apostle Paul as he recounts what happened at the time of his salvation:
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
These are the things which were directly communicated to the Apostle Paul. He is told he will be a witness of things which he has seen and will also be communicating things which are going to be revealed unto him. The responsibility is given to speak to the people (Israel) and to the Gentiles, which was a new thing which had never been done by God after the raising up of Israel.
The passages have already started to show there was a unique purpose which the Apostle Paul had in his ministry. This is carried out as he describes it in the book of Romans:
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
Paul identifies his purpose in the ministry which was given to him. While the Lord Jesus Christ during His time on earth was confirming the promises made unto the father (Romans 15:8), the Apostle Paul was communicating a different message. He was teaching the Gentiles the gospel message which was committed unto him. This was a completely different message and Paul stays true to what his responsibility is.
Many times the Apostle Paul has to defend the position which was given to him. He clearly lays this out in many places, with the following passage just being one example:
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Paul identifies he is the Apostle of the Gentiles. This means he did not have the same ministry as the twelve Apostles, who were ministering to Israel. He was not supposed to be the one who was replacing Judas as so many people will teach. He was given a unique position which the Scriptures had not indicated would be in place until it was revealed unto man.
He also identifies how he had seen the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven's glory as well:
1 Corinthians 15:5-10
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
As Paul is listing out these appearances, he shows how he was the last one to see the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul also identifies he is an Apostle which is different from the Apostles he identifies in verse 7, which are the twelve ministering to Israel. He does not see that he should be called an apostle because of everything he is done. However, he is functioning in this manner because this is what the Lord Jesus Christ called him to do.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
As part of the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ to him, he is getting the message which he is preaching directly from Him. This is something many people will try to argue, as they do not feel this is what happened. Their thought is Paul was recording his opinions on things, which is why they do not see what he wrote in Romans through Philemon as being Scripture. Paul clearly indicates the things which he had received were directly given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:  And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Paul continues in this same passage to lay out things related to who he is, stating here what it is that he had been. He had been the enemy of God, as he was doing these things for his own benefit. Paul indicates the profit he gained due to the zeal he was demonstrating. This functioning in the Jews' religion is clearly against God, as the Pharisees were doing things contrary to the Word of God.
The issue of profiting in this manner goes back to things of the flesh and benefiting in this manner. This is something which is also addressed by the Apostle Paul:
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Here the Apostle Paul speaks about the things of the flesh. It is very clear that he had all of the advantages in the flesh through who he was. He states these things are of no benefit to him (or anyone else) as the only thing which is of benefit is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how he is not functioning, as he is now in the role of the Apostle of the Gentiles, instead of being the enemy of God.
This change is what allows the Apostle Paul to be able to state the following:
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
This passage does confuse some individuals based on Paul identifying himself as a pattern. Paul's salvation cannot be the pattern which is being talked about. He had the Lord Jesus Christ appear to him in heaven's glory. If this is the pattern, then we would all have to be waiting for an appearance in this manner in order to receive salvation.
The pattern which is being spoken of is the doctrine which he received from the Lord Jesus Christ. He received the gospel message for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and the doctrine by which we are to live our lives today (Romans-Philemon). This is why he can tell us to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). He followed Him according to this doctrine and we should be doing the exact same thing. Paul identifies how he received this doctrine:
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Paul did not go up to see the apostles who were functioning in Israel's program. He would not be able to learn things from them related to the dispensation of grace. Peter identified how Paul communicated things which were hard to understand for them (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul had to go into the desert for a period of time to have direct revelation given to him. It took time for him to unlearn the things which he had an understanding of.
This is something which we can have a good understanding of. Many of us did not grow up in a church which taught this message. We had learned many things from the denomination we were in. as we started to understand the message Paul taught, we had to unlearn some of the things we had an understanding of in order to understand what we should know. This does take time, which is why Paul had to go away from other people in order to have this communication with God.
As a result of the position Paul has and the information which was given to him, he understands his responsibility and what should be our responsibility as well:
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Paul sees the responsibility that he has as to make sure all of mankind has access to the information which has been given to him. This falls in line with what the will of God is in 1 Timothy 2:4. Paul would be sharing the gospel with those who are not saved and would be teaching thing which would edify and exhort to those who had already received salvation. This would allow all men to see the fellowship of the mystery, as all would be able to benefit from what the Apostle Paul was doing during his ministry.
The other individual who is mentioned at the beginning of this epistle is Timothy, who is a frequent companion of Paul. There are a lot of things said about him related to what his role is related to the Body of Christ.
Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:  Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.  Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
We see here the beginning of Timothy's ministering with Paul. He is identified as being both a Jew and a Gentile (just like Paul), which represents how the Body of Christ is constructed. Timothy is circumcised because this was a requirement under Israel's program and there would have been problems at the time if this was not done.
It is said that he was well reported of by those who had interactions with him. This was because of how he was raised:
2 Timothy 1:5
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
2 Timothy 3:15
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These two passages show some things about how Timothy was raised. There was knowledge of the things of the Word of God that had been passed down through the generations to Timothy. This faith, which comes from the Word (Romans 10:17) is what caused him to be doing the things which allowed for him to be well reported of. He was doing the things which seemed to be good, which meant that there was nothing in his testimony which would have caused them to question the effectiveness of the Word of God in him.
There were responsibilities which were given to him as a result of having this faith. He traveled with Paul and he saw him in a light to where he could instruct him on things which he was to do related to the Body of Christ:
2 Timothy 1:13-14
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
The instruction here is to hold onto the truth which had been given to him by the Apostle Paul. He is the one who received the information of this dispensation which we are to follow. This is the only information any member of the Body of Christ can apply to their life today in order to be pleasing to God. This is why it becomes any important piece of the way we are living our lives.
As Timothy was holding to these words and applying this doctrine to his life, the next piece of how this is to have an impact takes place:
2 Timothy 2:2
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Timothy was being told to take the information which had been given to him and teach it to other individuals. This information was the doctrine which had been taught to him by the Apostle Paul, which is found in Romans through Philemon. The purpose of doing this was it would allow for these people to be able to go out and teach the doctrine to other individuals as well. This is what causes the doctrine to continue to be taught during this dispensation.
The members of the Body of Christ have this same responsibility today. This is what allows for the doctrine to continue from generation to generation. It allows for the next generation of elders to rise up in the local assembly to be able to continue to teach the doctrine to the individuals who make up the assembly. This goes along with the responsibility the Apostle Paul had identified for himself in Ephesians 3, where he talks about making all men see the fellowship of the mystery. This is what should happen in the local assembly and also in relationship to the world as well.
The teaching also builds up these individuals in a particular manner. It is supposed to give these individuals the information they would need in order to be able to teach others the information which they have been taught. This is what causes this dispensation to keep going, as this message continues to be taught to individuals. Without the next generation being able to rise up and continue teaching, this message will die out.
Paul knows the closeness of Timothy to him and expresses this:
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.  Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
Paul declares Timothy was likeminded. He had the same thought process as Paul because he took in the doctrine which Paul was teaching and applied it to his life. Timothy was going around and functioning properly according to the doctrine, which allows for him to be described in this manner. It is why Paul felt comfortable sending Timothy to Philippi in his place. He knew Timothy would teach them what was needed and would care for them in the same manner he would. There would be no difference and they would be able to experience the same spiritual growth in their lives.
As Paul continues the introduction to this epistle, he speaks of grace and peace which is being extended to us by the Godhead. This is something which is seen at the beginning of each one of Paul's epistles. The following is an example of one of these:
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some would take this as just a greeting which Paul is giving to them. They would state this is the equivalent of someone saying hello today. The reality is Paul is trying to convey some doctrinal things to them in the greeting to keep grounding them in the truth which has been given.
Paul knew the standing the Gentiles had in the eyes of God in Time Past. He also knew those who were in this assembly, and all members of the Body of Christ, should have this understanding as well:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  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:
This passage shows how the Gentiles were actually viewed by the Godhead prior to this dispensation. God was dealing with the nation of Israel and they had all of the advantages of this relationship. The blessings were coming down on them, as long as they were following the commandments which were given unto them. The Gentiles would only be blessed if they had shown blessings unto Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). They had to know their place in the eyes of God, which was clearly seen in Scripture.
There were clear punishments which came about when someone was not following the things of the law. The following is just one example of this:
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.  And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.  And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.  For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.  And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.  And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
Here we see the example of the punishment that occurred almost immediately after they had agreed to keep the law. Moses was up in the mountain receiving the law and they decided to break the very first part of this and set up a false worship system. The end result of this is the punishment which is recorded above. This is what was under the law system and what man deserved. Paul records for us the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), which is the end result of sin.
It is important to note we do not have to worry about this. We are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), so there is no danger of us having to face this judgment. Paul tells us we are not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10), which means this is not part of our program. The only thing we have is peace with God. This is why Paul can write the following to us:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
We have peace not because of anything we have done (other than believe the gospel- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Our peace comes about because of everything the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross, taking care of the issue of sin. This allows for the ability to have that restored relationship with God, which is where our peace comes from.
In this dispensation, the work of the cross is the foundation for everything. This is how we are able to have peace with God and allows us to be able to have the relationship God intends for us to have. As we continue going through this epistle, we will see how these things continue to come up for the members of the Body of Christ.