Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 40
Fellowship In Resurrection Power
We trust the Lord will just open the Scriptures to everyone’s understanding as we teach. We realize that there’s so much confusion out there today, and people are hungry for the Word. Someone asked me the other day if we were going to get all the way to end of this Bible study before the Lord comes. There’s no way because once we finish going this direction, see there’s a lot back here that we skipped. I didn’t even touch the Minor Prophets, or the whole Book of Psalms and Proverbs, so I could live to be a hundred and never exhaust this Book. So we’ll just keep going until the Lord either comes or takes us off the scene, whichever may come first.
As we begin book number 40, we’ll be turning back to where we left off in the last lesson and that was in Philippians chapter 3. For maybe new listeners I always try to emphasize Paul’s apostleship to the non-Jews. We are to rightly divide the Scriptures in such a way that we don’t have everything all mixed and jumbled up, and that’s the key, of course, to understanding the Bible. I had to point out to a lady the other day, where she had a question on something that Isaiah had written. And as I read what she was referring to, and you could tell by the text that it was written to the Jew, I pointed that out to her, and she said, “Well I never saw that before.” You can’t take things like that and say, “that’s for us,” because that was written to the nation of Israel under the Law. Today we’re not under Law, but rather Grace, so a lot of these basic fundamental truths get mixed up with that which didn’t even pertain to the Church Age believer, and consequently we do have so much confusion.
So Philippians is one of Paul’s prison epistles. As we pointed out when we began with Ephesians that these prison epistles just sort of a step up into a higher plane of theology than the epistles he had written earlier. Those latter were pretty much elementary, and fundamental so far as salvation is concerned, but when we get into these prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, this is deeper water, this is higher ground. Paul is dealing primarily now with these letters with “our position in Christ, and what are we in the Body of Christ.” We are somebody, and regardless of our station in life in the secular world, yet in God’s eyes we are somebody special. I’ve said it to my classes in Oklahoma over and over, “Everyone of us have somebody out there that no one can reach, but you or I.” And so we have to be ready to share the Gospel with that person when the opportunity presents itself. And the only way you can be ready is to know the Scriptures. Be skilled in the Word of God. So let’s now continue on where we left off in last taping and that was in Philippians chapter 3, and we got down through verse 3, but let’s just start reading in verse 1 to pick up the flow.
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord….”
Now remember the circumstances that Paul is writing in. He’s in prison, right next door to Nero’s Palace, and the guards that are actually chained to him were some of the most vicious Roman soldiers who had probably survived some of the great military campaigns. These were tough characters, but yet after being chained to the apostle Paul for maybe 24 hours they became believers. And as we’ll see again toward the end of the Book that Paul’s ministry actually penetrated right into the inner halls of the wicked man Nero. So never forget that he’s in prison, he’s chained to a Roman guard, but yet he can say, rejoice in the Lord.
“…to write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe,” Paul says all these things just simply make sense to you. Now here comes a word of warning. And it’s just as appropriate today as it was when he wrote it in probably about 64 or 65 AD.
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” Now of course the concision there that he was making reference to were the Judaisers, and their constant promotion of the circumcision of the flesh, to Paul’s little congregation of Grace Age believers. Now with that in mind let’s read verse 3.
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
Now this circumcision, of course, is a spiritual circumcision which he refers to in one of his other letters, which is the cutting off of the old Adam, which was superfluous, and you and I as believers don’t need old Adam, we have the new nature. So Paul alone deals with that old Adam or as we call it that old sin nature. So Paul says, “Beware of those things, because we’re not concerned about circumcision in the flesh, but rather we’re concerned about the spiritual circumcision which is something only God can do. Now let’s move on into new ground in verse 4.
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh….”
Now you want to remember that whenever the Jews in Judaism promoted circumcision, and keeping the commandments, what were they emphasizing? The flesh. It was what man could do of his own volition. See, that was as far as it could go, but we’re not under the fleshly influence in this Age of Grace, but rather we under the influence of the Spirit of God. We’re in a whole new ball game. So looking at verse 4 again.
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh…”
As a good Jew, remember, and here Paul gives seven reasons again why he could boast in the flesh. Now when I look at things and I find seven, and we had seven of them back in the Book of Romans, then again I always have to be reminded of the intricacies of the inspired Word of God. Now Paul didn’t sit down and rack his brain as he was writing, and asked himself, “How can I lay out seven things? Because seven is a nice number in Scripture.” I don’t think that even entered into his mind, but rather I think the Holy Spirit just let these things roll through his mind and they came off his secretary’s pen as he dictated. It all just came rolling out and after the fact we have seven again, God’s perfect number, and here they are.
“…If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (now here they come) 5. Circumcised the eight day, (that’s number one) of the stock of Israel,(that’s number 2) of the tribe of Benjamin, (that’s 3) an Hebrew of the Hebrews; (that’s 4) as touching the law, a Pharisee; (that’s number 5) 6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; (or that assembly of believers up there in Jerusalem. That’s 6) touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless, (that’s 7)
So we have seven things that he had going for him as a good Jew. Now remember that the verse that’s coming is, “he’s going to count all that as dung in the King James or trash is a better word.” But let’s go back up to verses 4, 5 and 6 and see what the man is talking about that he has so much going for him in the flesh as a good Jew and yet it amounted to nothing when it came to the Spirit.
“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:
In other words at that time when he was a Judaiser he was just about at the top of the heap when it came to religious people. There just weren’t any more religious than Saul of Tarsus, and so he lists these seven things then that coincided with that position as a good religious Jew.
“Circumcised the eight day, (according to the Law. That’s what the Law demanded) of the stock of Israel,…”
Now that word stock when you chase it down, do you know what that really implies? He wasn’t just a half-Jew, it wasn’t just his father who was a Jew, but both father and mother. He was a Jew through and through. Now keep all this up here in your computer (brain) because it’s going to really come to a boil when he says, “that he’s chucked all of this.” So here he is one of the primary families of Israel.
“…of the tribe of Benjamin,…”
Not many Jews were able to name their tribal ancestry, but for some reason or other Saul of Tarsus still could do that. He knew that he was still of the tribe of Benjamin. Now that brings something to mind that I hadn’t intended to do, and I hope I can find it. Sometimes I walk into a buzz saw when I try to find some of these things. So hopefully I can find this one also. It’s back in the Book of Genesis chapter 49. Now I just can’t dogmatically say that this is what he’s talking about but I sure think in my own mind that’s it’s ringing a bell of some kind. This is where Jacob pronounces his blessing on the twelve sons, and he goes through the whole list from the eldest, which of course was Ruben up there in verse 3, and he brings you all the way down to the youngest which was Benjamin in verse 27.
The main reason I like to teach is to get people to think about things they might never otherwise think about. Now keep Saul of Tarsus and the kind of a man that he was as a great religious persecutor of Israel. And one I refer to as a raging bull while on the road to Damascus. He couldn’t get there fast enough to arrest those Jewish believers. Now look at this verse as Jacob looks down the halls of time.
“Benjamin (as a tribe) shall ravin as a wolf; (does that ring a bell? Wasn’t that old Saul of Tarsus? I believe that when the Lord inspired Jacob to say this, this was exactly what the He had in mind, that there was a Benjaminite coming that would fulfill this prophecy to the exact degree.) in the morning he shall devour the prey, (his persecuting. How he just ravaged those Jewish believers) and at night he shall divide the spoil.”
Do you know what I think that is? That’s the reference to the rewards the man is going to get in glory someday for having gotten Christianity off the ground. Now you may not agree with me, but I have to think that this was already back in the mind of God as Jacob was rehearsing the prophecies concerning the twelve sons. Well that was just a little free for nothing, so let’s come back to the Book of Philippians. We’ll be continuing on in verse 5.
“… an Hebrew of the Hebrews;…”
Now let’s look at another verse where he says much the same thing over in II Corinthians chapter 11. I always say that when Scripture repeats itself, whether it’s within a verse or two, or whether if it’s within a Book or two it’s there for a purpose of repetition, and repetition is the mother of learning. So we have to understand the make up of this apostle.
In this verse Paul‘s concerning himself with the divisions in the Corinthians Church. Some said, “Well we’re not going to follow that guy Paul, but rather we follow Christ’s earthly ministry teaching only.” Others said, “Well we’re going follow what Peter preaches.” Still others wanted to follow what Apollos taught. So Paul has to come back in II Corinthians especially, defending his apostleship, that he was the one given to us Gentiles from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and that he is our example in the Church Age today as we’ll see in Philippians 3:17 when we get to it. So he always had to defend his apostleship, his authority – and here is one of the primary ones.
II Corinthians 11:22-23a
“Are they (all these other leaders of the divisions) Hebrews? so am I, Are they Israelites? so am I, Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more:“ So where does that put him? Head and shoulders above everybody else. He is the apostle of the Gentiles as he declares in Romans 11:13. Now back to Philippians. chapter 3.
“…an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, (and remember the law was fleshly. What was he?) a Pharisee;”
Now you all know what a Pharisee was. He was that self-righteous who pulled his robe around himself, and said, “Well I don’t commit sins, I’m above all that.” And consequently they showed their utter depravity in doing it, but this was Saul of Tarsus. He was a religious Jew to the hilt. He loved temple worship, he loved his Old Testament, but he loved it with a blind ignorance. See this is what’s so true of so many people even today. Oh they’re religious, they love their religion, they’re sincere, and I respect them for that. But the only problem is,“they’re sincerely wrong!” And as Saul of Tarsus had to find out when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he melted like hot butter. Why? Because all of a sudden he was confronted with the same God that he thought he was trying to stamp out, and now he has to come back with a whole new approach to his previous lifestyle as a Jew of the Jews,Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Now verse 6.
“Concerning Zeal, persecuting the church;…”
The word church here is so unfortunate, it should be persecuting the assembly. I’ve taught this over and over the last 9 years on television, that the word Church is not always the same group of people. I guess maybe I should take the time to do that again today, because if there’s anything that confuses the masses it’s this one word, “Ecclesia”. Ecclesia is always translated Church, or in a place in Acts it is translated I think correctly, as an assembly, but see this assembly was a group of Ephesians rioters. They were pagans, so they certainly weren’t Church.
So the word Church, “Ecclesia really the true definition is, “a called out assembly.” In other words they were a group of people who were no long part and parcel of the masses, but they’ve been separated from the masses. Let’s look at Acts chapter 7 to show you what I’m talking about. And I think this is what Paul is talking about when he tells us to rightly divide the Scriptures. Don’t just take the word Church and consider it as the same group. They are different and you have to separate them, and here of course is the most obvious. Here Stephen is rehearsing Israel’s history, and he takes it all the way back to the call of Abraham, and now he’s all the way up where they were coming out of Egypt.
“He (Moses) brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs to the land of Egypt, and to the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37. This (speaking of Christ now in his fulfillment of the Mosaic type) is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38. This is he, (speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified Christ) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:”
In other words all the way up through the Old Testament whenever there was a person in the Godhead speaking or dealing with some element of humanity, who was it? It was God the Son, it was Christ, and here it’s so evident. Look at verse 37 again.
“This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.”
Well how did Moses know what to say, except the Lord had implanted into his thinking. So it’s always the personality of God the Son who is speaking. Now look at 38 again.
“This he, (the One you crucified) that was in the church in the wilderness…” (but not a New Testament Church)
I’ve only heard one guy try to make it into a New Testament Church, and he tried desperately. He twisted every Scripture you could think of to try and make it fit, but it just won’t fit, because this is not a New Testament Church. It’s a called out assembly to be sure, but of what kind of people? Jews. So this assembly that was called out of Egypt is the nation of Israel under Moses’ leadership, and here the word Ecclesia, instead of being translated Church should have been translated a called out assembly, because that’s what Israel was. We can look at another one in Acts chapter 2, and this one also is so often interchanged with what Paul calls “the Church which is His Body”. But you see Acts chapter 2 doesn’t include the words “which is His Body,” because it’s not. Now here in Acts chapter 2 we have the Jewish feast day of Pentecost, and let’s look at verse 47. Remember these were all Jewish believers.
“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
It would have been so much better if the translator would have used “a called out assembly” here rather than Church. These Jews were called out from the masses of Jews who had rejected Jesus of Nazareth. But this little assembly of believers had recognized Him for what He was. He was the Christ, the Messiah, and that’s all Peter proclaimed to them that day.So this called out assembly cannot be called the Church which is His Body, and it doesn’t call it that. But rather it just simply says, “And the Lord added to the church”(Ecclesia) or the Lord added to that called out assembly of Jews, people that were becoming believers.
Now let’s look at one more which really shakes up this translation, and that would be in Acts chapter 19. Of course here we’re in Ephesus and as a result of Paul’s preaching so many of those idolaters were becoming believers. They were throwing away their idols and literally wrecking the business of the idol makers, the silver craftsmen. So he was causing a riot here in Ephesus.
“And the whole city was filled with confusion; and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theater. (Can you picture it? Now those theaters back in the ancient times had doors much like our football stadiums of today. So I can just see this mass of people just filing into that open-air theater. Now verse 30) And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples (his followers, certainly not the twelve) suffered him not. 31. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theater. 32. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the (Ecclesia) assembly was confused:…”
Here they translated it assembly, but they could just as well put in the word church. It would be no more obnoxious as the called out Jews from Egypt or the called out Jews at Pentecost. So here is a good way to chase down words and realize that they don’t always mean the same thing.