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Truth for the Times.
(Being the substance of the first of two addresses
given by the Principal at a Scottish Conference
held in Glasgow on 21st September, 1946).
The Prison Epistles are and teach "The Truth".
pp. 3 - 7
The previous speaker made it clear to us that in the Acts of the Apostles the movement
is from the Jew to the Gentile; from the kingdom to the church; from the fulfillment of
O.T. prophecy to the revelation of a secret portion of the purpose of the ages, and that the
Scriptures which reveal this secret or "mystery", as it is called, are the "prison" epistles
of Paul; epistles that were written after Acts 28:, when the Jew was set aside, and the
salvation of God "sent", for the first time, to the Gentile, independently of Israel.
In the present address we are concerned with the question of "Truth". That being
established, we hope in a second address to see how these "prison epistles" are indeed
"Truth for the Times".
The epistles, written by Paul, that bear the mark of having been written in a Roman
prison, are these: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and II Timothy. In
Philippians (Phil. 1: 19, 24, 25) and in Philemon (verse 22) the Apostle is confident that
he will be both spared and liberated for further service, but in II Timothy he knows that
his end has come. These five epistles constitute the scriptural basis for the Church of the
Mystery, and while Philemon is very precious evidence of the gracious spirit of the
Apostle and the nature of the truth he taught, it does not contribute anything in the way of
a revelation of truth, and for the present purpose can be omitted. We therefore usually
speak of "The four prison epistles".
That this reference to "prison" is no mere accident is manifest, for in Eph. 3: Paul
definitely associates his imprisonment with the dispensation of the grace of God to the
Gentile, a claim which is supported and enforced in one way or another in each of these
Now our first object is to establish that these four epistles are "truth", and this we can
do in exactly the same way as we establish any part of Scripture.
It would be out of place in a meeting of this character to spend precious time
discussing the question of canonicity, therefore let it suffice to say that from the earliest
times these epistles have been well-nigh universally accepted as part of the inspired
Scriptures, and objections that could be brought against any one of them could be brought
against any other book in the N.T., thus rendering all study fruitless. There are other and
more fruitful ways of demonstrating the truth of any portion of the Scriptures: these we
will endeavour to compress into as brief a compass as is consistent with clarity.