The Berean Expositor
Volume 33 - Page 6 of 253
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Epistle to Philippians.
pp. 105 - 108
An examination of passages that have been adduced as evidence that
the Epistle belongs to the period before Acts 28: and
not to the dispensation of the mystery.
More than one reader has submitted a series of objections to the inclusion of
Philippians as an epistle of the mystery, contending that the passages which they advance
refer rather to a period before Acts 28: than after that dispensational boundary. The
matter is of importance to us all, and for the truth's sake we should know what these
objections are and what answers the Scriptures provide.
(1) "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" (Phil. 1: 6).
The suggestion made is that, instead of translating with the A.V., "will perform", the
thought is that something commenced by the Lord was now about to be discontinued
because of the imminence of the dispensation of the mystery.
"Being confident" is the translation of peitho, which occurs three times in this opening
chapter, subdividing the structure into three sections. In verses 12-18 this "confidence"
is associated with "the furtherance", not the "discontinuance", of the gospel and, in
verses 22-26, not with Paul's departure and "discontinuance", but with Paul's "abiding in
the flesh" and the "furtherance" of the Philippians' joy and faith. If, therefore, it is to this
furtherance of what had already been begun by the Apostle that the opening remark
refers, why, so far as God's work was concerned, instead of "furthering", was He about
to discontinue it? However, while this creates an atmosphere, it is not proof. The word
translated "perform" may mean "discontinue", and if it does, that is the end of all
argument. Accordingly we examine the original for this word and find that it is the
Greek epiteleo.
Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle manifested his great concern that the offering
for the poor saints at Jerusalem should be completed:
"Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you
the same grace also" (II Cor. 8: 6).
"Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there
may be a performance also out of that which ye have" (II Cor. 8: 11).
Here we have three occurrences of epiteleo, placed in contrast with "begun" and a
readiness "to will". It would make nonsense of this chapter to teach that Paul intended