The Revelation of The Mystery - Part 2

Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Sep 2, 2009 - 3:42:07 PM

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:13).
We have concluded that the Apostle Paul received the Truth of the Mystery while he was undergoing “tribulations,” “sufferings,” and “afflictions.” These are, intimately, associated with the unique cluster of epistles which are called his Prison Epistles. It seems hard to imagine that what Luke reports in Acts 28:30-31 can be interpreted as the same conditions which Paul wrote about in the Prison Epistles.

“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” (Philippians 3:8).
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:13).
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
While Paul does state, in Acts 28:20, that he was bound with a chain while he spoke to the Jewish elders, we should not assume that he remained bound with a “chain” for the two years in which he dwelled in his own “Hired House.”
The record states that during this two year period, he preached the Kingdom of God and taught “those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.” The context forces us to conclude that the “Kingdom of God,” mentioned in Acts 28:31, refers to the same “Kingdom of God” which Paul “expounded” in Acts 28:23.
To the Jewish elders, it is noted:
“And when they [Jewish elders] had appointed him [Paul] a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23).
And, “to all that came unto him” during the “two whole years,” it is noted:
“Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31).
To the former, who were all Jews, Paul taught out of the Law of Moses and The Prophets while, to the latter, he preached and taught to both Jews and Gentiles without the emphasis being made to the Law and the Prophets.
It should not be assumed that during the two year period, he taught the Truth of the Mystery. Believers have wrongly assumed that he did. It detracts and diminishes from the Glory of the Grace of God. There is NO INTERNAL EVIDENCE in the Scripture to indicate Paul taught the Truth of the Mystery during the two years he lived in his own “Hired House.” As a matter of fact, the whole book of   “The Acts of the Apostles” confines itself to truths which relate to “the Hope of Israel” which was the restoration of its Kingdom.
At the very outset of “The Acts of the Apostles,” the Lord Jesus spoke and taught His disciples for forty days concerning the Kingdom of God.
“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
Throughout “The Acts of the Apostles,” Paul’s manner of presenting truth was the same.
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:2-3).
His “manner” was to “reason” [dialegomai], that is, have a dialogue with those in the synagogues; not alleging the Scriptures were the Word of God, BUT that the Scriptures taught that Jesus was THE CHRIST. And that, “this Jesus,” suffered and arose from the dead. Throughout the Acts Period, his manner never varied.
The Acts narrative ends with Paul spending “two whole years” teaching and preaching about those things which pertained to the Kingdom of God, and the relationship that Christ had to it.
If Paul did not write the Prison Epistles during the two years of his “House Arrest,” what does that do to the Truth of the Mystery? Nothing! Other than liberating the Mystery from being intermingled with Pentecostal truth. It would, clearly, separate Pentecostal Truth from Present Truth, and recognition that the Revelation of the Mystery occurred after “The Acts of the Apostles” ended. The Mystery does not belong to any part of the Acts Period, including the “two whole years” during which Paul was under “House Arrest.”
This means that the Apostle received a new and fresh “report from God” sometime after Acts 28:31 – the Revelation of the Mystery. The “hope of Israel” was set aside, and the Dispensation of the Grace of God burst upon the world-scene. Seven books, the number of completion, were inspired after Acts 28:31. They are:
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Correctly recognizing that the Truth of the Mystery was revealed after the Book of Acts closed, allows Acts to have been written while “the Hope of Israel” was, still, the latest report from God.
Acts 28:28 says, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” These solemn words do not have to be the end of things which relate to the Kingdom of God.
Twice, previously, Paul turned to the Gentiles; once was in Acts 13 and another time, in Acts 18. However, in both instances, his message continued to be the same; that is, he continued to preach the Kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning Jesus Christ.
It seems that Paul followed this in Acts 28:30-31 for “two whole years.” The difference being; that it was no longer necessary for the Word of God to be spoken to “the Jew first.”
In Acts 3, the Apostle Peter asserted that God “sent first to you [the Jews]” (Acts 3:26). Paul reiterates the same in Acts 13, “…It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you [men of Israel].” In Acts 18:6, while Paul was in Corinth, he was preaching in the synagogue, and when the Jews “opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your heads, I am clean; from hence forth I will go unto the Gentiles.”
He moved right next door to the synagogue and continued with the same message, but, “now,” it was to the Gentiles. This did not prevent the Jews from believing the Word of God, nor did his turning to the Gentiles exclude believing Jews from attending the meetings in the house of Justus. In fact, the “chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house” (Acts 18:8).
So, it is very apparent that the Jews, in some measure, received the Word in Corinth and attended Paul’s meetings for he continued in Corinth for a year and six months
(Acts18:11).  His message did not change. It was no longer necessary for the Word of God to be to “the Jew first” in Corinth. That is to say, he had preached to “the Jew first” upon his arrival in Corinth. Therefore, they had the first opportunity to hear it.
The same was true in Acts 28. It was necessary that the Word be heralded to “the Jew first” which Paul did. In Rome, as in Corinth, some believed, and some did not. “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed” (Acts 28:25). It was at this point that Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 and, then, stated that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they would hear it.
It, certainly, appears that the Jews throughout the Roman Empire were afforded the opportunity to have heard Paul’s Gospel first. It was necessary for them to have had this privilege. This was accomplished by the Apostle Paul.
So, during two years, living in his own “Hired House,” he continued to preach and teach the same God inspired message he had previously been doing. Only now, it was no longer required for the Jews to hear the message first. This requirement lapsed because it had been fulfilled.
The “salvation of God” which Paul mentioned is a reference to the so great a salvation “which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by THEM THAT HEARD HIM” (Hebrews 2:3). The “so great salvation” Paul asserted in Acts 28:28 was to be sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear (i.e., the salvation of God).
It is concluded that the Mystery was revealed to Paul sometime after his two years in his own “Hired House.” Whether or not he stood trial in Rome, at this time, we can only speculate. He probably did not. The Scripture informs us that he did nothing against Rome worthy of imprisonment. He was probably released from his own “Hired House” and set-free for a short time. Later, when Christians ran afoul of Rome, Paul was, again, imprisoned, but, this time, it was a very harsh imprisonment; see Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. It was during this imprisonment he received the Revelation of the Mystery as a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles. We are absolutely sure he was because he says so in his Prison Epistles.
We do not even know how many times he was in prison during the Book of Acts. Several are mentioned in Acts.  He confirmed, in 2 Corinthians 11, that he was “in prisons more frequent.”

The internal evidence indicates that after he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, he was set free. As a freeman, he was inspired to write Titus and 1 Timothy. He was arrested, again, and imprisoned under the most cruel, severe, and ruthless conditions. Here it was, as legend has it, he was in a dungeon in the Mamertine Prison. In his dungeon, he penned his last letter—2 Timothy. He had finished his course, he had kept the faith; henceforth, there was laid up for him a Crown of Righteousness, that the Righteous Judge will give him at that Day [to wit, the Day of Christ], and not to him only, “but unto all them also that  LOVE HIS APPEARING [EPIPHANEIA]”
( 2 Timothy 4:8).
The “Dispensational Boundary Line” was not crossed at Acts 28:28. It makes for “good” teaching, but we see the Boundary Line was crossed sometime after “The Acts of the Apostles” closes. Acts 28:29-31 took place during the Pentecostal Dispensation and could not have been the time the Sacred Secret, the Mystery, was revealed to the Apostle Paul while under “House Arrest.”