The Mystery in the Prison Epistles

Posted in: 2007
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 29, 2008 - 6:51:20 PM

October 24, 2007
PLAINER WORDS …The Mystery in the Prison Epistles

The Ephesian Epistle was written from a Roman prison by the Apostle Paul around 64 A.D. It was written to the saints at Ephesus and to “the faithful in Christ Jesus” anywhere. The truth contained in this epistle is the most profound truth in all of the Word of God. It is the loftiest truth in Scripture where there is no room for anything but PRAISE and PEACE from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The “Mystery” is, here, revealed. It had been kept secret since the world began; not made known to the sons of men (Eph. 3:5); it had been hidden in God (Eph. 3:9); never revealed in the Scriptures until it was made known to the Apostle Paul by means of a special revelation (Eph. 3:3). The great “Mystery'” (i.e., the Holy Secret), is that God gave Christ to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22-23). It concerns the “one new man” (Eph. 2: 15); that is, “a perfect man” (Eph. 4:13). Jesus Christ, as the Head of the Church, has been raised and highly exalted among the heavenly, angelic rulers (Eph. 1:20-21).
But now, after Acts 28, it is made known that God has an election out of the earth which was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). This calling is destined to have higher authority than the heavenly, angelic rulers who are “in Christ.” Those who have received the “adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Eph.l:5) will, one day, be manifested with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4). Truth contained in this epistle is immeasurably higher in dignity and more noble in character than the glorious position which the Twelve Apostles will enjoy “in the regeneration” (Matt. 19:28), as rulers, judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel during Christ’s Kingdom Reign.
This company of believers has already been blessed with “all spiritual blessings among the heavenly, angelic rulers in Christ [to wit, good principalities and powers]” (Eph. 1:3). This calling is viewed as having been quickened, raised, and exalted together with Christ. The Church, which is His Body is the only company and calling of God's redeemed that is said to be “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:12). This company of believers is commissioned to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; “Looking for that blessed hope and the Appearing (Epiphaneia) of the glory of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). This hope differs from that of the 2nd Coming which is the Parousia.
Paul is given a revelation of such a nature that man and all of his religion can find no place for forms and ceremonies. We learn in Ephesians that God is concerned with His Own purpose, His Own will, His Own Son, and His Own inheritance, to wit, the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head.
Ephesians is for those who have enlightened eyes that enable them to “see” the revelation of the Mystery. This epistle is considered “strong meat” of the Word. It is certainly for those who have grown in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written for those who are faithful (i.e., full of faith). It is impossible for those who still hold to rituals, rites, forms, creeds, and ceremonies to grasp the Truth recorded here in Ephesians. It is for those who have passed on from types, and shadows, and symbols. It concerns the realm of the spirit where full-grown men of God are to live, even while they are tabernacling in the flesh. As the Lord Jesus Christ grants wisdom and revelation in the Word of Truth, full-grown, mature men of God are to grow accustomed to seeing the things that are invisible as they begin to move in mind, heart, and spirit among the invisible and eternal things.
This Ephesian Epistle was written after the landmark of Acts 28:28 was reached. The dispensational boundary line was crossed when Acts ended, and Israel's hope was left behind, unfilled, and set aside. The churches which had been established during the Book of Acts found that the miraculous had ceased. Signs, wonders, and miracles were no longer the order of the day, but rather, DIVINE SILENCE. Perhaps, the most awesome and far-reaching pronouncement made since the angels heralded the birth of Christ was in a Roman prison when the Apostle Paul solemnly pronounced Israel's blindness in Acts 28. For, with his pronouncement in Acts 28:28, the “at hand” Kingdom Truth ended abruptly. Ephesians explains God’s purpose and silence during this present age. Shortly after Paul made known to the Christians that the Lord was no longer dealing on the grounds of “Israel’s hope,” but rather on the basis of The Mystery, they turned from him and the new revelation. Before Paul was martyred, he testified that all they that were in Asia had turned away from him (2 Tim.l :15), and all had forsaken him (2 Tim. 4:16). Most evidently, the majority of Christians in Paul's own day failed to acknowledge the landmark of Acts 28, as their counterparts do today. They took truth made known after Israel was set aside and read it back into those epistles Paul wrote before the Mystery was revealed to him.
Paul told Timothy that as a workman that needeth not be ashamed, he must rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2: l 5). That is, he must differentiate between those epistles written during the age of the miraculous and those written afterward. This, we will do as we set forth, below, the two sets of epistles. Recognize that the Apostle had two ministries, one during the Acts Period and the other after the Acts Period ended. As far as we can tell, the Apostle Paul was the only apostle chosen from the Acts Period who moved on into the ministry of The Mystery.
Paul’s Acts Period Ministry ─ The Past Dispensation ─ Miracles Abounded
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Corinthians
Paul’s Post-Acts Ministry ─ The Present Dispensation ─ Miracles Ceased
1 & 2 Timothy
Present Truth is found in those epistles written after Israel was set aside. When Paul ceased being BOUND FOR ISRAEL'S HOPE and became A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE GENTILES, he received a new and fresh revelation. This new revelation superseded all others.

The epistles written by Paul, after the Acts 28:28 crisis, are seven in number. Five were written from prison, and two were written between the Roman imprisonment, recorded in Acts 28, and the imprisonment that ended in his death.

Below, is Paul’s prayer for those in his day who did not “see” the Mystery. This, too, should be our prayer for those who cannot distinguish between Paul’s Acts Period Ministry and His ministry as a “Prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1).

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Eph. 1:17-19).