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Great Message from Philippians 2: The Mind of Christ by Charles Lawson



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Philippians. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: Philippians.

DATE. A.D. 64 is the commonly received date.


Four men left Rome in A.D. 62 bound for Turkey. These men had four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. When these men bade farewell to the Apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Caesar Nero. The four men and their respective places of abode were: (1) Epaphroditus from Philippi who had the Epistle to the Philippinans (Philippians 4.18). (2) Tychicus from Ephesus who had the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6.21). (3) Epaphras from Colosse who had the Epistile to the Colossians (Colossians 4.12). (4) Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colosse, who had the Epistle to Philemon, his master (Philemon 10).

These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all. These different facets present the Chritian life on the highest plane.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians was written to the believers in Europe in the city of Philippi. Paul had a wonderful relationship with the Philippian church. This church was closer to Paul than to any other church. Their mutual love is mirrored in this epistle. It deals with Christian experience at the level on which all believers should be living.

Paul visited Philippi on his second missionary journey. Paul had taken Barnabas with him on his first missionary journey. Paul took Silas with him on his second missionary journey. They retraced Paul’s steps  into Galatian country, visiting the churches they had established in the first missionary journey.

The Spirit of God put a roadblock on Paul’s attempt to go south, so he went north, to where Turkey is today, but when “they assayed to go into Bithynia . . . the Spirit suffered them not” (Ac. 16.7). He can’t go south or north, he has come from the east, so there is but one direction to go. He went west as far as Troas. To go further, he would have to go by boat. He was waiting for instructions from God. Sometimes we feel God must lead us immediately, but He can let us wait, let us cool our heels. Finally Paul was given the vision of the man of Macedonia, recorded in Ac. 16.9, 10. Paul & his companions boarded the ship which took them to Europe. His first stop was Philippi. There he met Lydia, a seller of purple. See Ac. 16.13-15. She was saved and baptized. She besought them to stay at her house.

Lydia was the man in Macedonia. She was holding a prayer meeting down by the river, which probably had a lot to do with bringing Paul to Europe. That was the greatest crossing that ever took place. Lydia was the first convert in Europe.

Lydia was a member of the Philippian church to which Paul wrote this epistle. Anoterh member was a girl who was delivered from demon possession (Ac. 16.16-18).

And the Philippian jailer and his family were members of this church (See Ac. 16.30-34). All the members were very close to the Apostle Paul. They followed him in his journeys and ministered to him time and time again. The lost sight of him 2 years after his arrest in Jerusalem. They finally heard he was in a Roman prison. They immediately dispatched their pastor, Epaphroditus, with a gift that would minister to Paul’s needs.

So Paul wrote this epistle to thank the church and express his love for them. He had no doctrine to correct as in his letter to the Galatians. Neither did he have to correct their conduct as in his epistle to the Corinthians. There was only one small ripple in the fellowship of the church between tow women, Euodias and Syntyche, and Paul gives them a word of admonishment near the end of his letter. He didn’t seem to treat it as being serious.

His letter to the Philippian believers is the great epistle of Christian experience. that is his subject in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.


1. Introduction, verses 1, 2
2. Paul’s Tender Feeling for the Philippians, 3-11
3. Bonds and Afflictions Further the Gospel, 12-20
4. In Life or Death—Christ, 21-30

1. Others, 1-4
2 Mind of Christ—Humble, 5-8
3. Mind of God—Exaltation of Christ, 9-11
4. Mind of Paul—Things of Christ, 12-18
5. Mind of Timothy—Like-minded with Paul, 19-24
6. Mind of Epaphroditus—the Word of Christ, 25-20

1. Paul Changed His Bookkeeping System of the Past, 1-9
2. Paul Changed His Purpose for the Present, 10-19
3. Paul Changed His Hope for the Future, 20, 21

1. Joy—the Source of Power, 1-4
2. Prayer—the Secret of Power, 5-7
3. Contemplation of Christ—the Sanctuary of Power, 8, 9
4. In Christ—the Satisfaction of Power, 10-23

Chapter 1
The Philosophy of Christian Living

As we study this letter, we will not be seated in the heavenlies as in Ephesians. Philippians is practical. We will be down where the rubber meets the road.

Introduction (vv1, 2)

Ph.1.1-2v1 Paul associated Timothy with himself. Paul is encouraging Timothy. Paul loved Timothy. He was Paul’s son in the Lord—he won him to Christ—and he was very interested in him. Paul is constantly identifying certain young preachers with himself.

Paul identifies himself and Timothy as servants of Jesus Christ; this contrasts with Galatians and Corinthians where Paul began with, “Paul, an apostle.” The Philippians loved him and accepted his apostleship. So Paul takes a humble place, his rightful position.

“To all the saints….” Paul is not writing to one little clique.  Every believer is a saint. There are 2 groups in the human race: the saints and the ain’ts.  Saints are believers in Christ. They are saints, not because of their conduct, but because of their position in Christ. “Saint” means holy, set apart for God.

The saints are “in Christ Jesus.” You are put in Christ by the Holy Spirit who baptizes you into the family of God.

Salvation is to be in Christ. You get in Christ when you accept Him as your Saviour.

“With the bishops and deacons.” “Bishop” means “overseer or shepherd; it refers to the office. “Deacons” refers to spiritual men who are performing an earthly service (Ac. 6).

v2 Peace always follows grace. There is a peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ro. 5.1). The grace and peace are “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit was already there in Philippi, indwelling the believers.


v3 All believers should have this tender relationship.

v4 Always in prayer for them and making “request with joy.” “For you all.” He is speaking to all the saints, the whole body of believers. He was in Roman prison, but he makes his request with joy! The word joy is used 19 times in this epistle. The name of Jesus Christ appears over 40 times in this epistle. Christ is the center of the epistle. The emphasis should be on Christ rather than upon joy. The philosophy of Christian living has to do with Christ; the pattern has to do with Him. The price of Christian living has to do with Him, and the power has to do with Him. It is a personal relationship with Christ that brings joy to a believer’s life.

We try to produce joy in a church by external means. We have programs and invite people to enjoy them. We have a banquet. Actually, joy does not depend on outward circumstances. Real joy depends on the inward condition of the individual. You may have a little fun at a church banquet, but that will not be joy. When a believer gets to the place where he finds himself in the center of the will of God and know he is in His will regardless of circumstances, then there will be joy in our lives.

Paul said, “As I am here in jail, it is a lot of fun to pray for you Philippians; it brings joy to my heart.” Now, having told them he thanked God for them, he gives a reason.

Ph.1.6v5 “For your fellowship in the gospel.” Fellowship means that which believers can share in the things of Christ. There are three elements which must enter into it: spiritual communication (sharing the things of Christ), sympathetic cooperation (working together for Christ), and sweet communion (this makes us partners with Christ).

“From the First day until now.” From the day Paul met Lydia til now!

v6 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.The Holy Spirit has sealed you and me until the day of redemption. In the meantime, Ep. 4:30 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

v7 “Meet” is an old Elizabethan word that means “right.” “Because I have you in my heart.” “Partakers of my grace.” Paul is saying that he and the Philippians are all wrapped up together as partners in the gospel.

Paul was closer to the church at Philippi than to any other church. With a church like this, there is that sympathetic cooperation, besides spiritual communication, and it always produces sweet communion.

v8 “Bowels” really means tender feelings. Paul says he longs for them in the tender feelings of Jesus Christ. Very little takes place in the head. Paul’s reaction is not mental but emotional.

v9 Paul prays that “Your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment [or discernment]. We are to love all believers in Christ. Some believers are a little difficult to love. We are to love the unlovely, but we are to love with knowledge and with discernment.

v10 When Paul says “That ye may approve things that are excellent,” he means that you need to try the things that differ. That has to do, according to Dr. McGee, with the Lord’s will for your life. There are times when there are two or more routes that we could go. There are times we do not know which route to go. The Lord will not send an angel to tell us, nor will he turn on red or green lights to give us signals. He expects us to use a little consecrated and concentrated gumption. Try the things that differ.

“That ye may be sincere.” Paul is saying, “Don’t be a phony. Be real, be genuine, be sincere.”

“Without offense,” means blameless. Just make sure that the bad things people say about you are not true. “Till the day of Christ.”

v11 The “fruits of righteousness” are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. See Ga. 5.22, 23.


v12 Paul says that the Gospel is going out and that they things that have happened to him have not curtailed but have actually furthered the gospel. Now he will make clear what he means by this.

Paul was chained to a member of the Praetorian Guard, and these members where the Roman patricians, members of Caesar’s household. See Ac. 28.16. The Lord said Paul would “bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Ac. 9.15). Until this point, Paul had taken the gospel to largely the common, vegetable variety of citizens in the Roman Empire. Now he has members of the royalty chained to him. What do you think Paul talked about? Many of the royalty did come to know Christ and Tertullian wrote that the Roman government killed many of those in authority when they were found to be Christians. Here Paul reveals that his imprisonment enabled him to reach into Caesar’s household with the Gospel.

v14 Many brethren became emboldened to preach the gospel without fear by Paul’s example.

v15 Some preached Christ of envy and strife. If you will exercise your gift in love, you will not envy someone else. The believer is warned against strife and envy. “Strife means to stir up, referring to demons. Demons stir up strife. Envy and strife hurt a church. Alcohol and drugs on the outside of a church cannot hurt it nearly as much as the envy and strife on the inside of a church.

Notice however that some preached Christ of good will.

v16 Some preached “Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing ot add affliction to my bonds.” They were envious of the Apostle Paul.

v17. “The other of love.” There were 2 groups. What was Paul’s attitude toward them?

v18 The main thing to Paul was that Christ be preached, whether in pretense of by true motives. Christ can be preached insincerely and yet people can still be saved. God honor His Word, not the man nor the organization.

V19 By “salvation” here, Paul means deliverance from prison. Paul says that through their prayers he hopes to be set free. “Through … the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

v20 Paul said he did not want to be ashamed of his witness while in this life and also when he came into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.


ph-1-21.jpgv21 To live is Christ and to die is gain. This is the philosophy of Christian living. The most important thing is to have fellowship with Him so that your joy might be full. Now we know why Paul was undisturbed by the criticism being leveled at him. You can’t hurt a man who is in fellowship with Jesus Christ. What could anyone do to such a man?

v22 Paul did not know his future—what a single day would bring forth. Same for everyone.

vv23-4 Paul says he was torn between wanting to go to be with the Lord, which is the better of the two, or to stay with the Philippian believers because they needed him. It is normal for a believer who is doing something for Christ to want to finish it before going home to be with the Lord.

vv25-26 Paul is practical. He still has work to do. Get busy for the Lord. “This is the stage on which you and I play our part. I want to stay as long as possible, and I have promised the Lord I would teach the Word as long as He lets me stay” (Dr. McGee).

v27 “Conversation” means your way of life which should be a credit to the gospel, as well as our speech.

vv28-9 Don’t be terrified by your adversaries, for it is given to you not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for Him.

v30 Paul knew what it was to suffer for Christ. Suffering for Christ is a token of blessing, not a sign that God has turned His face away.

Chapter 1 is summed up in one verse: “For me to live is Christ, and to die gain.”

Chapter 2
The pattern for Christian living

The pattern for Christian living is the mind of Christ as we shall see. It cannot be by imitation. Paul is not talking about imitation. He is talking about impartation. That is, the mind of Christ should be in us, and it can only be there by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to sit back and watch the Spirit of God move. Of course, we carry on the program that God has given us, but the power and dynamic comes from the Spirit of God.

OTHERS (vv1-4)

v1 “If” here is not conditional.

v2 Even though he is in prison, he is rejoicing in the Lord. Paul wants the Philippian church to be of one mind. To be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. We won’t be beating each other over the head because of disagreements.

v3 “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” Most problems in a church are due to strife and envy. Some people just naturally cause trouble. If you are doing something through strife and vainglory, you would be better off not to do it at all. The same thing is true if you do it to be recognized.

v4 “Look nor every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Christ came from heaven’s glory to this earth for others. Why should we carry the gospel? For others.

THE MIND OF CHRIST—Humble (vv5-8)

Ph.2.6-11v5 Humility characterized the mind of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-2: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”

You and I can’t be humble. We are not made that way. We can’t be meek. None of us want to be offended, or ignored. We develop hang-ups if we are brought up in such a way that we have been trampled on.

We not come to the emptying, the kenosis, of Christ It wll give us the seven steps of humiliation which Christ took. Then we have listed 7 steps upward. Then we will see the mind of God. It is in the mind of God the Father to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Since it is the purpose of God the Father to exalt Jesus Christ, Dr. McGee believes it is the will of God for every one of us. We are to exalt Jesus Christ wherever we are and whatever we do. We are to be one with the Father in this ultimate purpose of the exaltation of Jesus Christ.

The first step downward was when He left heaven’s glory. He came all the way down to where you and I are. It is absolutely beyond human comprehension to understand what He did for us.

v6 Jesus Christ was God. He did not have to hold to it or fear that an angel might take His place.

Now we see the 2nd step down

v7 “Made himself of no reputation” means to empty. Christ emptied Himself. The Gnostics propounded the first heresy that He emptied Himself of His deity, that the deity entered into Him at the time of His baptism and left Him at the cross. This theory is not substantiated anywhere in the Word of God. He emptied Himself of something, but it was not His deity. There was never a moment when He was not God. See John 1.1-3, 14.

Dr. McGee believes He emptied Himself of the prerogatives of deity. He lived on this earth with limitations which were self-limitations.

The whole universe, not just a few shepherds and wisemen, and even the multitude of angels were a sorry turnout.

Jesus did not force them to come because he had laid aside His prerogatives of deity. He was willing to be born in a dirty, filthy place—not the pretty, clean stable of Christmas pageants and Christmas cards. He was willing to grow to manhood in a miserable town named Nazareth. He was willing to be an unknown carpenter. He could have had the Shekinah glory with Him all the time, but he didn’t. He didn’t have a halo around His head as we see in so many paintings of Him. Judas has to kiss Him the night he was betrayed so that the crowd would know which was the man they were to capture. He didn’t stand out from other men by some kind of inner light or glory around Him. He was a human being, but He was God manifest in the flesh. He laid aside the prerogitives of His deity.

Can we be sure of that? Dr. McGee thinks we can. After He finished His ministry, He gathered His own about Him on His last night on earth, and He prayed a very wonderful prayer to His Heavenly Father. On thing He said in that prayer is this: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (Jn. 17.5). Notice this carefully: He prayed to have His glory restored. He did not pray to have His deity restored, because He had never given up His deity. He is asking that His glory, the glory light, a prerogative of deity, be restored. Obviously, He had laid that aside. Philippians 2:6: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”

The 3rd step downward  in the humiliation of Christ is this: “And took upon him the form of a servant.” Jesus came to earth as a servant. He worked as a carpenter. He came as a working man, a humble man, a little man. He was one of the little people.

Isaiah wrote that Christ would come as a “root of Jesse) (Is. 11.10). Yes, Mary was in the line of David as was Joseph by another route. But Jesse was a farmer in Bethlehem, and his line had dropped back to the place of peasant. Our Lord was born into a peasant family.

The 4th step in his humiliation is this: “And was made in the likeness of men.” For a man to become an ant would be humiliation. But that is nothing compared to what my Lord did when He left heaven’s glory and became a man, when He took upon Himself our humanity, when He was made in the likeness of men.

The 5th step in our Lord’s humiliation is that He humbled Himself. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself.” For a man to humble himself is very unusual, but here, God humbled Himself.

Example: One time John Wesley was starting over a bridge just wide enough for one person. As he was starting over, he met a liberal preacher of that day. This preacher swelled up and said, “I never give way to a fool.” John Wesley looked at him for a moment, smiled, and began to back off, saying, “I always do.” It is difficult to take that humble place. Our Lord humbled Himself.

The 6th step in His humiliation: “and [He] became obedient unto death.” Death is a very humiliating sort of thing. It is not natural. God did not create man to die. Man dies because of sin, because of his transgression. Death came by the transgression of one man, Adam; and death has passed down to all men.

Jesus came to earth to die. You and I came to live. He did not have to die, but He “became obedient unto death” and gave himself willingly. I have to die, but don’t want to. He didn’t have to die, but He “became obedient unto death” and gave Himself willingly. He did not have to die, but He wanted to. Why? In order that He might save you and me if we will put our trust in Him.  He said, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (Jn. 10:15-18).

The 7th and last step in the humiliation of Christ is “even the death of the cross.” Not only did He become obedient unto death, but to the death of the cross. It was a disgraceful death. He came from the highest glory to the lowest place of humiliation. Why.  “Look not every man on hius own things, but every man also on the things of others.” He came to earth and suffered the death of a criminal for others—for y0ou and me. Thank god for that! This is the mind of Christ.

THE MIND OF GOD (vs. 9-)

The mind of God the Father is to glorify Christ. We have seen the seven steps downward; now we will see the seven steps upward. The mind of God is the exaltation of Christ.

The 1st step up: “God also hath highly exalted him.” The supreme purpose of God the Father is that Jesus Christ be glorified in the universe which He created., and that He be glorified on the earth where man dwells, where man rebelled against God.

Nothing but the death of Christ makes this little earth significant. The thing that has lent dignity to man and has caused him to look up into the heavens and sing the doxology is the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth and died on the cross for him. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.

Now the 2nd step. “and given him a name which is above every name.” The next time you take His name in vain, think of and drag in the mud. His name will be exalted above the names of all the great men of this world and above the names of all the angels in glory.

v10 gives the next 3 steps of Christ’s exaltation.

The 3rd step: “That at the name of Jesus”—“Jesus” means Saviour. Matthew 1:21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Now notice the reference to prophecy: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Mt. 1.22-23). One can find no verse where they called Him Emmanuel. But He can save His people from their sins because He will be Immanuel, God with us. Because of that, He can be called Jesus. Nobody else can properly be called Jesus.

The 4th step. “Of things in heaven.”

The5th step: “And things in earth.”

And the 6th step: “And things under the earth.” Here God is talking about the Lordship of Christ. God has highly exalted Him, that at the name of Christ every knee must bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. That is, even hell will bow down to Him because He is the Lord. He is God. But merely bowing does not imply salvation.  Colossians 1.20 is not talking about Lordship, but about Christ’s reconciling work, His redemptive work. And what was reconciled? What was redeemed? Was Hell included? No. The tunings under the earth are not mentioned. Why? Because this verse is talking about redemption, and there is no redemption in hell.

v11 The final and 7th step of Christ’s exaltation: Every tongue shall “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That doesn’t mean every man shall confess Him as savior. Even in hell, they will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Word of caution. Be careful about calling Jesus your Lord if He is not your Lord. Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” You better know Him as your Savior before you say He is your Lord. If He is your Savior, then you can become obedient to Him as your Lord.

Jesus said, John 15:14: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

MIND OF PAUL (vs. 12-18)

We have seen that the mind of Christ cannot be imitated. It can happen only be impartation. It is the work of the Spirit of God within us which will produce the fruit of meekness or humility in our lives. We will see the mind of Christ as it walked down Roman roads, lived in Roman homes, and in a Roman jail. We will see three examples; the mind of Paul, the mind of Timothy, and the mind of Epaphroditus (pastor of the church of Philippi).

v12 “Salvation” here is used in a general sense. Paul is talking about working out their problems which they had in the church, and working out the problems in their own Christian lives. He is in a Roman prison, so he does not know if he will ever be there with them again to help them. So he tells them to work out their “own salvation with fear and trembling.”

v13 God works out that which He had worked in. God saves a person by faith plus nothing. After one is saved, God talks to him about his works. He will work out the salvation He has worked in by faith. James 2:17-18: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” True faith will work itself out so that the people around us will be able to tell that we are different, that we are Christians.

v14 “Do all things without murmuring of disputings.”

v15. Be a light.

v16 “Holding forth the word of life.” Life and light are related. Holding for the word of life, we are lights to the world.

v17 This verse is one of the most wonderful in the entire Word of God. It pictures what the Christian life really should be. He is referring to one of the earliest sacrifices in the OT. Genesis 35:14: “And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.” Then in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, the sacrifices are described. The drink offering was to be added to the burnt offering and the meal offering, but never to the sin or trespass offering. It had to do with the person of Christ. They would bring in a skin of wine and pour it on the sacrifice which was being consumed by fire. It would just go up in smoke.

Paul was saying, “I want my life to be poured out like a drink offering on the offering in Christ.” Paul knows that the Lord Jesus Christ made the supreme sacrifice. He wanted his life to be a drink offering—just poured out to go up in steam. He wanted to be consumed and obscured that all that is seen is just Jesus. He wanted Jesus Christ to receive all the honor and the glory. This was the mind of Paul.

v18 In other words, “If your life commends the gospel, my life is just poured out as a drink offerning. Together we’ll rejoice over this.” Paul ends on a note of joy and rejoicing. If we are walking in humility, we will rejoice at the success of others. We have too much strife and vainglory. This hurts the cause of Christ.

THE MIND OF TIMOTHY—Like-minded with Paul (vs. 19-24)

v19 Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. Paul had great confidence in him. He could trust Timothy to care for the state of the Philippian believers.

v20 He is like-minded with Paul which means he had the mind of Christ, and he was characterized by humility. If men have the mind of Christ, they are together.

Timothy had been faithful to Paul. Like minded men can work together. Sometimes a convert later turns against the person who led him to the Lord.

v21 There were many others who were seeking their own glory. They wanted to make a name for themselves. Because they were seeking their own glory, they were willing to belittle Paul.

v22 You can be miles apart from someone, but they can be together if they have the mind of Christ. When a husband and wife have the mind of Christ, they are really together. It is a glorious wonderful relationship.

vs.23-24 Paul wanted Timothy to be the one to bring them the message about what was going to happen to him in prison. He hoped to be released. He was released, but when the Christians were persecuted under Nero, Paul was brought back and executed. This is not recorded in Scripture.

MIND OF EPAPHRODITUS—The Work of Christ (vs. 25-30)

v25 Epaphroditus also had the mind of Christ. He, Paul and Timothy worked together. Paul had founded the church at Philippi, but Epaphroditus was not jealous of him. Paul calls him, “my brother, and my companion in labor, and my fellowsoldier.” Paul says, “He fights with me. He doesn’t stick a knife in my back when I’m away. He does not side with my enemies.” He was a practical help to Paul who is confined there in chains.

v26 Epaphroditus was sick, and word got back to the church at Philippe that their own pastor was sick. He longed for them. It hurt him that they were hurt because he was sick! This revealed the marvelous relationship between the church and their pastor.

The rejection of a Bible preaching pastor is the death knell of many churches . The devil has been very clever. He has shifted his attack from the Word of God itself to the man who teaches the Word of God.

Epaphroditus was greatly loved by his church, and that speaks well for the church in Philippi.

v27 Why did not Paul heal Epaphroditus? He was so sick he almost died! Paul and the apostles had the sign gifts because they did not have what we have today, a New Testament. His authority when he went into new territory was his message was nothing but sign gifts, which included the gift of healing. Paul had a thorn in the flesh which the Lord Jesus would not remove.  Instead, He gave Paul the grace to bear it. Timothy had stomach trouble. If Paul was a faith healer why did he not heal Timothy? Actually, he told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake.  In 2 Ti. 4.20, he said that he had left Torphimus in Miletum sick. And now here Paul says he has this young preacher, Epaphroditus, with him, and he was so sick he almost died. He did not heal him. Rather, he gives all the credit to God; he says that God had mercy on him. His healing came about in a natural sort of way. Paul made it a matter of prayer, and God heard and answered. Even at this late stage, even before the apostles disappeared from the scene, the emphasis is moving back to the Great Physician.

You see, this epistle is emphasizing the mind of Christ, a humble mind. If I were a faith healer, I would be in the limelight. I would be somebody very great and very famous. but I am not. The Lord Jesus is the great physician. So Paul here is putting no emphasis on healing whatsoever. He has a sick preacher with him, but is putting the emphasis where it should be, on the Lord Jesus Christ.

v28 Now Paul is sending Epaphroditus back to them. Paul wants them to rejoice, not sorrow, that he “may be the less sorrowful.”

v29 How gracious Paul is with this preacher from Philippi! A man like Epaphroditus whould be respected and loved. We should respect the one who is teaching the Word of God. Both the gift and the teacher should be respected. Our attention should be focused on the Word of God. Our problem is not the drug problem, the alcohol problem, the sex problem. The problem is that we don’t get back to the Word of God. It is the Word of God that reveals Christ and the mind of Christ.

v30 Epaphroditus was doing the work of Christ. He had to have the  mind of Christ to do that. “Because for the work of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” In the Roman Empire, there was no mercy shown to anyone, but there was law and order everywhere. Then there went out this little man, Paul the Apostle, and those who were like-minded with him, and they preached a gospel that there is a God of the universe who, through a redemption that He has wrought on a Roman cross, had provided mercy for mankind. Multitudes turned to the Lord Jesus in that day.

Now this little man, Paul, is chained to a Roman soldier. He is witnessing for Christ, and he is rejoicing in the Lord. He has the mind of Christ. And a find young man, Timothy, walking in that pagan city. He did pretty well in a godless society. He had the mind of Christ. And then Epaphroditus, a faithful pastor way up in the city of Philippi, a pagan heathen city. Epaphroditus had the mind of Christ.

Then I look at me. I say Stop offering excuses in this day in which you are living! Forget yourself, humble yourself, you have nothing to be proud about. Seek the mind of Christ! Yield to Him so the Spirit of God can produce in you the mind of Christ!

Chapter 3
The prize for Christian living

v1 Paul’s final message was going to be “Rejoice in the Lord.” He has shown 3 men, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus who were able to rejoice in sickness and imprisonment. The early church could rejoice amid the first of persecution.

Paul is saying that it has been no burden for him to write this letter (as there had been in his heart when he wrote the Galatians and Corinthians). The Philippians had been a great joy to him. It is safe for him to write to the Philippians. He felt close to them. He knows they will understand.

v2 “Beware of dogs.” We get some insight into what Paul was writing by looking at Isaiah who warned against the false prophets of his day. Isaiah 56:10: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity because the false prophets had given them a false security.  God was warning the southern kingdom not to do the same thing. He was calling the false prophets “dumb dogs.” They won’t speak out. They won’t tell it like it is. Dogs are those who are not declaring the full counsel of God.

We are comfortable today. We look for the same comfort in the church. There is a danger of comforting the church members because that is what they would like to find in the ministry.

Most church members don’t need messages of comfort but messages of warning. America has gone to sleep under the comfortable blanket of affluence.

“Beware of evil workers.” another group that would actually abuse them and use them They are not honest.

“Beware of the concision.” He is saying that they are no longer of the true circumcision, referring to the legalizers, those who were attempting to force Christians to keep the law of Moses for salvation and sanctification.

v3 “We are of the circumcision.” He makes clear what he means by this in Galatinas 6.15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” True circumcision is of the heart. It is the new birth, a new heart attitude toward God. It is being in Christ.

“And have no confidence in the flesh.” No confidence in our old nature. We trust Christ alone.

v4 Paul answers those who speak behind his back that because of Paul’s ignorance and failure in life to measure up to the requirements of the law he says have no confidence in the flesh. Paul says he would be willing to stack his religious life against that of any man. He says, “And I more.”

Now, in vs.5-6 he is lists 7 things in which he trusted at one time. This is religion. He had godly parents and was circumcised on the 8th day. They brought him up according to the Mosaic law. (2) He was “of the stock of Israel.” (3) “Of the tribe of Benjamin.” Benjamin had been Jacob’s favorite son. (4) “An Hebrew of Hebrews.” This means he was a leader, in the highest strata of the religious circle. (5) As touching the law, a Pharisee.” The Pharisees represented the very best in Israel. They were a religious-political party and their aim was to establish the kingdom. They were fundamental Bible believers. (6) “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church.” He though he was doing God’s will by that. (7) Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” He does not say he was sinless or perfect; he says he was blameless. Ro. 7:7:”What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” One can covet without anyone knowing. Paul says the law “slew him.”

By “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless,” Paul menat that he had brought the proper sacrifice for his sin to make things right before God. Paul was sincere.

Paul thought all those things commended him to God. However, he hated Christ and His followers and set out to eliminate them. Then He met Jesus and he changed his whole bookkeeping system.

v7 But then Paul met Christ and put all his trust in Him.

v8 Paul’s conversion was not just an experience of the moment. Conversion is not a balloon ascension. Conversion stays with you. It continues for a lifetime. Sanctification is a daily walk in dependence upon God. Paul flushes away all the things he used to trust. He now trusts the Lord Jesus and Him only for His salvation.

v9 “Not having mine own righteousness which is of the law.” That righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64.6). One comes to Christ as a bankrupt sinner offering Christ nothing. You have nothing; He has everything, and He offers it to you.

“By faith” is the important word. “The righteousness of God” came about because when Christ died on the cross He subtracted your sins, and He rose again from the dead for your justification, your righteousness.


Paul is no longer trying o build up legal righteousness. He has changed his bookkeeping system and is going to change his purpose.

vs.10-11 Saving faith is a faith that moves you. James 2:18: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” If you don’t have works, you are not saved! That is what Paul is saying. If you have faith that saves, you have a new motivation, a new life purpose, a new life style. If your faith in Christ has not saved you, you have not been saved.

Paul’s effort and energy comes from the Holy Spirit, which is far greater than any legal effort. Under the law system, he was willing to go to Damascus to stamp out the followers of Christ. Under the grace-faith system, he will go to the end of the earth to make followers of Christ and to witness for Him. Your works have nothing to do with your salvation. Your faith in Christ is the motivation for you to live for God.

“That I may know him”—Paul still had a motivation, at the end of his life, to know Christ. We need the reality of Christ in our lives.

“And the fellowship of his sufferings.” If you don’t enjoy praising Christ now, why should you go to heaven?

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Paul is affirming that he will have a part in the rapture with great joy. He did not expect to attain perfection in this life. The church will be resurrected at the rapture. The rest of the dead will not be raised until the end of the millennium. And the Old Testament saints are not to be raised until the end of the great tribulation period.

v12 The knowledge that he will not already detained perfection does not deter Paul.

v13 Paul gives us the modus operandi of his life. “I count not myself to have apprehended”—Paul is saying that he had not arrived.

“This one thing I do.” Paul had whittled his life down to one point. “Forgetting those things which are behind.” He is leaving the past and its mistakes behind, not letting it handicap him for the future. The future—he lives in the present in the anticipation of the future when he will grow and develop.

v14 “I press toward the mark for the prize.” He likens himself to a track star, running for the prize. The Olympic Games were held at times in the amphitheater in Ephesus. Paul lived there three years. He used many figures of speech that were taken from those athletic events.

“The prize for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Not some earthly reward, but to be in His presence.

We don’t run for salvation. Salvation is not the prize. Either we trust Christ or we don’t. Faith in Christ is a gift. Ep. 2.8, 9.

Paul, after he received eternal life, is running for a prize. Christ is everything to him, and he is running a race that he might win Christ. His whole thought is “When I come into His presence, I don’t want to be ashamed.” John said it is possible to be ashamed at His appearing: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn.2.28).

v15 “As many as be perfect.” By “perfect” Paul means arriving where one should be in maturation. If a 17 year old says, “Da-da,” there is something radically wrong.

“And if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto you.”  Maybe God does have something else for you to do. If you are willing to do it, He will show it to you. He is able to lead a willing believer. It is a matter of being in touch with the Lord, being close to Him.

v16 Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to get out on the race track. He now gives himself as an example.

v17 “If you want to know how to do it, watch me” he says. Not an imitation. He means, “Learn to share the power of Christ in the body of Christ, the church.”

Now Paul discusses the negative side.

vs18, 19 This is a severe condemnation of those who profess to be Christians. They contradict their profession by their lives. Their God is their belly. This means they are led by their appetites. Some professing Christians have an appetite for money and will do most anything for the almighty dollar. For others, it is sex. Others covet. They live for self and self only, and glory in this.

If you have no works, you are not going to convince your neighbor. James 2:17-18: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”


v20 “Conversation in heaven” means the total way of life, a new life style. We are to represent heaven and heaven’s message here upon the earth today.

“From whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul expresses the hope of the believer on a high plane.

v21 “Our vile body.” It means he shall change our earthly body.

One day our bodies will be transformed “unto his glorious body.” The trump shall sound suddenly (1 Co.15.51, 52). Revelation deals with Israel. In the OT we read that Israel moved in the wilderness march by the blowing of 2 silver trumpets. Israel is used to trumpets, we are not.  1 Thes. 4.16. It is the trump of God. Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”

“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” This is exactly the same thought that John had: 1 Jn. 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” When Christ appears, we shall be like him. This is a high hope.

Chapter 4
The power for Christian living

Philosophy, pattern, prize would be meaningless and useless if there were no power for them. Power is all-important.


v1: “My joy and crown.” Paul expected to receive a crown for winning these folk to the Lord. And they were his joy down here. He loved these believers in Philippi!

“So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”

v2 Now he comes to the only problem in the Philippian church. It was a ripple, not serious. Apparently, these 2 ladies were not speaking to each other.

v3 Women had labored with Paul in the gospel. Etc.

v4 This is a commandment to the Christian: Rejoice always in the Lord, Rejoice. Regardless of the circumstances. We can’t produce this. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. There is no power in a Christian’s life if he has no joy.


v5 We need to emphasize the person of Christ. The Lord is at hand” Paul believed the Lord would come at any moment.

v6 “Be careful for nothing.” Another commandment. Worry about nothing, pray about everything. Prayer is the secret of power. The reason we are to worry about nothing is that we are to pray about everything. Nothing leaves out everything. There is nothing in our life that is big to God.

“With thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

v7 Different kinds of peace. World peace. One day the world will have peace. The peace that comes when sins are forgiven (Ro. 5.1). Peace that is tranquility (Jn. 14.27).

The “peace that passeth all understanding” in this vers “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We entered this passage with anxiety, worry and fear and we come out of it w/peace. Between the two was prayer. We should be praying, “God change me.” Prayer is the secret of power. We enter with worry, we can come out in peace. Joy is the source or power; prayer is the secret of power.


v8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Only the Word of God can bring strength to you. This world surrounds us with filth. Get into the Word of God.

v9 Paul says “Do what I do.”


v10 Paul has been talking about the Christian experience. Now he is thanking them for their gift. He said, in other words, “You had lost contact with me; so that you didn’t have the opportunity ot help me.”

v11 Paul is content in whatever state he is in, even in prison.

v12 “Though I appreciate your sympathy, I know how to live on the lowest plane economically, and how to live on the highest plane.”

v13 Paul is saying he can do all things through Christ (in the will of God). He can’t go jump over a house. Whatever Christ has for you to do, He will give you the power. He will give you the power to manifest the gift He has given you. It is essential to be in God’s will, and His will is determined by a knowledge of His Bible.

v14 Paul wants them to know he appreciates their gift.

v15 This church was a jewel. They were the ones who sent him support. Paul was their missionary.

v16 No one was helping Paul but the Philippian believers.

v17 Paul wrote them to thank them.

v18 A Christian in his giving is like a high priest making an offering to God. When given with the right spirit, it is an offering, an odor of a sweet smell to God.

v19 Thinking of their sacrifice, Paul assures them that God would supply all their needs.

v21 God gets all the glory. He will not share it with another.

vs21-22 He greets each believer personally.

v23 Paul closes with a benediction.

Lessons on Colossians – Christ is the Head of the Local Church

Lessons on Colossians – Christ is the Head of the Local Church

Lesson 1: Introduction and Paul’s Prayer – Colossians 1.1-14 (14 questions with answers following).
Lesson 2: 
Person of Christ and Objective Work of Christ for Sinners – Colossians 1.15-23 (10questions with answers following)
Lesson 3: Subjective Work of Christ for Saints – Colossians 1.24-29 (12 questions with answers following)
Lesson 4: 
Christ the Answer to Philosophy (For the Head) – Colossians 2.1-2.15 (19 questions with answers following)
Lesson 5: Christ the Answer to 
Ritual (For the Heart) – Colossians 2.16-23; Christ, the fullness of God, poured out in life through believers, Chapters 3 and 4 : Colossians 3.1-4: Thoughts and Affections of Believers are Heavenly (18 questions with answers)
Lesson 6: Christ, the fullness of God, poured out in life through believers, Chapters 3 and 4. Living of Believers is Holy – Colossians 3.5-4.6 Fellowship of Believers Is Hearty – Colossians 4.7-18 (26 questions with answers following)

14 lessons on Ephesians – The Local Church Is a Body

14 lessons on Ephesians – The Local Church Is a Body

For help in answering the questions, you may refer to Outline and Teaching on Ephesians.

Introductory Lesson (9 introductory questions and answers)

Lesson 1: A Church Is a Spiritual Body – Ephesians 1 (38 questions on Ephesians 1)

Lesson 2: The Work of the Son of God on Behalf of the Church -Ephesians 1.7-12 (9 questions based on Ephesians 1.7-12 with answers)

Lesson 3: Work of the Holy Spirit in Protecting the Church – Ephesians 1.13-14 (14 questions based on Ephesians 1.13-14 with answers)

Lesson 4: The Church Is a Temple and the Method and Materials of Construction – Ephesians 2 (16 questions with answers based on Ephesians 2)

Lesson 5: The Church Is a Mystery (9 questions with answers based on Ephesians 3)

Lesson 6: Introduction to The Church Is a New Man and Must Walk as a New Man – Ephesians 4 (13 questions with answers)

Lesson 7: The Church Is a New Man: The Exhibition and Inhibition of the New Man – Ephesians 4.1-16 (17 questions with answers following)

Lesson 8: The Prohibition of the New Man – Ephesians 4.17-32 (20 questions with answers following)

Lesson 9: The Church Will Be a Bride: The Engagement of the Church – Ephesians 5.1-17 (13 questions with answers following)

Lesson 10: The Church Will Be a Bride:The Experience of the Church – Ephesians 5.18-24 (15 questions with Answers following)

Lesson 11: 
The Church Will Be a Bride: The Expectation of the Church – Ephesians 5.25-33 (16questions from with answers following)

Lesson 12: The Church Is To Be a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ: The Soldier’s Relationships – Ephesians 6.1-9 (14 questions from with answers following)

Lesson 13: The Church Is To Be a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ: The Soldier’s Enemy – Ephesians 6.10-12 (16 questions with answers following)

Lesson 14: The Church Is To Be a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ: The Soldier’s Protection and Example – Ephesians 6.10-24 (15 questions with answers following)

What is a Church under Christ (a New Testament church), and What Upholds Her Integrity?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 6, 2017

Endnote 1 gives James Madison’s objections to a bill that would have incorporated a church in federal jurisdiction which he included with his veto and links to the whole story concerning that matter.

Endnote 2 quotes some court cases, with online links directly to those cases, on church incorporation and other matters. One case explains that, with an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, there are two entities, the one spiritual and the other legal. Another court in WATSON v. JONES, 80 U.S. 679 (____), 13 Wall. 679. Supreme Court of the United Statesconcludes that it has no jurisdiction over the matter. The important thing to notice is that the authority is the court. Since the church contracted with the state by incorporating, the members (individual or groups of members) can go to their authority not only for resolution of disputes but also for decision as to whether the authority has jurisdiction. A member can sue a member, members, the church or the state; members can sue a member, members, the church, or the state; the church can sue a member or members, etc. The contract makes clear that the controlling party is the state.

Endnote 3 briefly explains the meaning of “the church” as used in the Bible and in this article.

What is a Church, and What Upholds Her Integrity?

Christ’s church or assembly was a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament; it was “kept secret since the world began, But is now made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Ro. 16.25-26; see also, Ep. 2.9, 3.9). Jesus announced it and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul explained it. That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Ro. 9.24-33, 10.19-21). The mystery “hid in God” was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing—the institution of the church to be manifested in local New Testament churches until the marriage of the lamb (Heb. 12.22-24; Re. 19.7-10)—Christ’s body.  In the church, and in the church only, the distinction between Jew and Gentile disappears, and there is one “new man,” the church where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circucmcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and  in all.” (Ep. 2.14, 15; Col. 3.10, 11). The revelation of this mystery which was foretold but not explained by Christ (Mt. 16.18) was committed to the Apostle Paul. God “made known unto us [believers together with Christ in a local church body] the mystery of his will, according to his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself” (Ep. 1.9, 2.5-6).

Our Lord announced the purpose of His churches, His assemblies, but wholly without explanation as to how, when, or of what materials, those churches should be built, or what should be their position, relationships, privileges or duties. The Epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church. In those epistles, the New Testament church, the “mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Ep. 3.9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God. Through Paul alone we know that a church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ, instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through him alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings. This article will not address all those facets of a church, but will concentrate on the nature of a local church body.

The Apostle Paul was a man well educated in earthly and temporal matters before his salvation. As an apostle, Paul rejected his worldly wisdom gained in “higher education.” Before his conversion, he studied in Tarsus under Gamaliel (Ac. 22.3). He was a Pharisee of Pharisees.

  • “Tarsus was actually the center of Greek learning to that day. The finest Greek university in Paul’s day was in Tarsus, not in Athens or Corinth which had passed their zenith. Tarsus was a thriving Greek city and an educational center…. Undoubtedly Paul had been brought up in that university in Tarsus and had a Greek background, but he had also been in Jerusalem where he had studied under Gamaliel. He had worked on his doctorate in Jerusalem under the outstanding scholar of that day, Gamaliel.” (J. Vernon McGee, Acts, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1984), p. 258)

Despite his worldly education, which he obtained before his conversion, Paul declared:

  • “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co. 2.1-16) [Bold emphasis mine].

Thus Paul first made clear that, as a spiritual man called as an Apostle, he discarded his worldly education gained as a lost carnal man. After he got saved he relied only upon his knowledge of God; and he made clear that only the born-again believer, led by the Spirit, was qualified to handle spiritual matters. Paul also asserted that rulers, “the princes of this world,” do not possess spiritual wisdom, indicating that most leaders are not Christians (undoubtedly, almost all leaders, and almost all leaders of civil government when he wrote the above words, are not and were not Christians) and are blind to spiritual matters.

Persecuted Christians down through the ages have understood this and therefore have refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly. This was especially apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after. See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.

  • “Scripture and all history tell us, that those Caesars were not only arrogant, without God, without Christ, &c.; but professed worshippers, or maintainers, of the Roman gods or devils; as also notorious for all sorts of wickedness; and lastly, cruel and bloody lions and tigers toward the Christians for many hundred years.
  • “Hence I [Roger Williams] argue from the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus in his house, it was impossible that he should appoint such ignorant, such idolatrous, such wicked, and such cruel persons to be his chief officers and deputy lieutenants under himself to keep the worship of God, to guard his church, his wife. No wise and loving father was ever known to put his child, no not his beasts, dogs, or swine, but unto fitting keepers.
  • “Men judge it matter of high complaint, that the records of parliament, the king’s children, the Tower of London, the great seal, should be committed to unworthy keepers! And can it be, without high blasphemy, conceived that the Lord Jesus should commit his sheep, his children, yea, his spouse, his thousand shields and bucklers in the tower of his church, and lastly, his great and glorious broad seals of baptism and his supper, to be preserved pure in their administrations—I say, that the Lord Jesus, who is wisdom and faithfulness itself, should deliver these to such keepers? …
  • “[W]hen the Lord appointed the government of Israel after the rejection of Saul, to establish a covenant of succession in the type unto Christ, let it be minded what pattern and precedent it pleased the Lord to set for the after kings of Israel and Judah, in David, the man after his own heart.
  • “But now the Lord Jesus being come himself, and having fulfilled the former types, and dissolved the national state of the church, and established a more spiritual way of worship all the world over, and appointed a spiritual government and governors, it is well known what the Roman Caesars were, under whom both Christ Jesus himself, and his servants after him, lived and suffered; so that if the Lord Jesus had appointed any such deputies—as we find not a title to that purpose, nor have a shadow of true reason so to think—he must, I say, in the very first institution, have pitched upon such persons for these custodies utriusque tabulae, keepers of both tables, as no man wise, or faithful or loving, would have chosen in any of the former instances, or cases of a more inferior nature…”(Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 204-205).
  • “Christ never delivered His sheep or children to these wolves, his wife and spouse to such adulterers, his precious jewels to such great thieves and robbers of the world, as the Roman emperors were. Paul never appealed to Caesar as judge appointed by Christ Jesus to give definitive sentence in any spiritual or church controversy; but against the civil violence and murder which the Jews intended against him, Paul justly appealed. For otherwise, if in a spiritual cause he should have appealed, he should have overthrown his own apostleship and power given him by Christ Jesus in spiritual things, above the highest kings or emperors of the world beside”(Id., p. 209).
  • “A civil magistrate may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, which thousands want; and where it is, it is commendable and beautiful, though godliness, which is infinitely more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true church the holy nation, Ephes. ii.; 1 Pet. ii” (Id., p. 212).

God, through the Apostle Paul, described what a church under Christ is to be: a local autonomous body of believers; and, as such, a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one Husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23).

A church under Christ is made up of born again believers in Christ. A person who was first born of the flesh (a temporal birth) must, in order to be saved, be born again (a spiritual birth) (Jn. 3.3-8). God “quickens” (brings to life; animates) those who are born again; those who before “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ep. 2.1). For this new creature “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5.17).

The new creature in Christ is a spiritual being who is instructed by God to walk in the Spirit. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3.3). “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.5). John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Mk. 1.8.  See also, Mt. 3.11 and Lk. 3.16). “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3.6). Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Co. 5.17). The Word of God instructs the believer as to his walk:

  • “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.1-6).
  • “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Ga. 5.16-25; see also, Ep. 5.1-17, Jn. 6.63, Ro. 8.1-13).

Thus, the lost man, the man who has not been born again, is a fleshly man, who walks in the flesh without the indwelling Spirit of God. He is subject only to the law. The believer, a member of a church, a part of the body, is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth who is told to be led of the Spirit. He is told that if he is led of the Spirit, he is not subject to the law.

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1.3).
  • “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.4-5).
  • “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things” (Jn. 3.12)?
  • “WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3.1).
  • “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2.11).

The word “heavenly” signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is “earthly.” The ‘heavenlies’ [or ‘heavenly places’] may be defined as the sphere of the believer’s spiritual experience as identified with Christ in:

  1. nature (2 Pet. 1.4“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”);
  2. life (Col. 3.4: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”; 1 Jn. 5.12“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”);
  3. relationships (Jn. 20.17“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Heb. 2.11“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”);
  4. service (Jn. 17.18“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”; Mt. 28.20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.);
  5. suffering (Phil. 1.29“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”; 3.10“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”; Col. 1.24“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.”);
  6. inheritance (Rom. 8.16, 17“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”);
  7. and future glory in the kingdom (Rom. 8.18-21“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”; 1 Pet. 2.9“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”; Rev. 1.6“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”; 5.10 “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”).

The believer is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb. 3.1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” 1 Pet. 2.11: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”)

Corporately, believers are to come together as a local spiritual body, a church of Christ. A church under Christ is a local autonomous body of believers; and, as such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21-22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30-31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one Husband (2.Co. 11.2-4). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23). God gave no one other than Christ the authority to rule over His churches. Churches are not to concern themselves  with temporal matters.

Again, a church of Christ is made up of believers. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47). A New Testament church, made up of spiritual beings, is a spiritual or heavenly body whose ultimate purpose is to glorify God. “The word ‘spiritual,’ found 23 times in the Bible, always means heavenly minded, godly, holy, never self-centered” (Questions and Answers, The Berean Call, January 2007, Volume XXII, No. 1, p. 5, available at “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co. 10.31). A church, as a spiritual body, is told to be subject to Christ, the Head of the body, in all things (Ep. 1.22-23).

God gives the newly borne spiritual creature a new home. His old home was a temporal earthly home; his new home is an eternal heavenly home. God raises up believers together (the church body), and makes them to sit together “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.6). Such a body is “quickened with Christ” (Ep. 2.5).

The believer and a church are quickened with Christ. Where is Christ? God set Christ “at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also that which is to come.” (Ep. 1.20-21).

Again, believers in a New Testament church are quickened together and built on the chief corner stone, Jesus Christ, who now sits in heaven (Phill. 2.9, Mt.16.19):

  • “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Pe.2.4-8)

To repeat, the chief corner stone of a New Testament church is Jesus Christ and He now sits in heaven. Churches and believers are to sit with him (Ep. 2.5). A church body is to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, not heavenly and earthly places (Ep. 2.5-6). How can one have a body that is not joined? The body is joined to the head. The head is in heaven. Believers are to sit with Christ and obey Him as they walk on this earth. Yes, believers are the body, on earth, but they are to be connected and subject to their Head which is in heaven.

“Ephesians is the church epistle. Many expositors consider this the highest peak of spiritual truth, the very apex and acme of Bible revelation. Some have even suggested that Ephesians is so profound that none but the very elect (in other words, the chosen few) can understand it. Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece, a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament (Ep. 2.10). It is more wonderful than any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.” Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Ephesians.

Ephesians 1-3 is about the heavenly calling of a church and is doctrinal; 4-6 is about the earthly conduct of a church and is  practical. A church is a body, the body of Christ (Ep. 1). A church is a temple (Ep. 2). A church is a mystery (Ep. 3). A church is to walk as He would walk; a believer and a church is a new man and is to walk as a new man (Ep. 4). A church, as the betrothed of the Lord Jesus, is to walk as God’s dear child (Ep. 5). The believer is to walk spiritually in his/her domestic life, his work, and on the field of spiritual battle (Ep. 6). and to wrestle against the wiles of the devil (Ep. 6.10-17, the warfare of the Spirit-filled believer).

The relationship and walk of the spiritual body, the local church, is beautifully described in Ephesians 4:

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Spiritual matters include all things involving a church, including the use of property for the assembly of the saints. God grieves when a church corrupts the body of Christ by putting herself under civil government in order to own anything. A church who chooses to become an earthly entity by incorporating (aggregate or sole) or getting 501(c)(3) or 508 status has betrayed her first love, corrupted the body, profaned the holy, joined with a harlot, and committed spiritual fornication. President James Madison understood this. See Endnote 1 for his letter vetoing a bill which would have incorporated a church in Washington D.C. which was subject to federal law and the First Amendment. See also, Legal Explanation of Incorporation of Churches. Church corporate status puts a church partially under the authority of the state under which the church incorporated. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 502 status puts a church partially under the authority of the federal government. See Federal government control of churches through IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508 tax exemption and The incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme.

A purely spiritual body can hold no temporal or material possessions. If a church owns property, she is an earthly temporal organization working in conjunction with an eternal spiritual organism. She has one Head in heaven, Christ, and another on the earth, civil government. She has agreed to go to her head on earth to resolve many matters. See Endnote 2 for quotes from some courts which state that an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, with an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, there are two entities, the one spiritual and the other legal.

A church can utilize property without owning it. How? Like the New Testament believers did. They can meet in a house or building owned by someone, not owned by the church (See The Only Way a Church Can Organize to Remain a New Testament Church for explanation of how a church can meet in a permanent meetinghouse without owning it and in accord with Bible principles). No church in the New Testament owned anything temporal or material. To have done so would have violated New Testament church doctrine.

Now that the basics of what a New Testament church is have been explained, one needs to know what the Bible says about how a church maintains her integrity.

Jesus’ first and greatest commandment is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lk. 10.25-28; these commandments were also in the Old Testament. (De. 6.5, 30.6 and Le. 19.18)). For a church, a spiritual organism or entity, all gifts and actions must be governed by love. If not, the church “is become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal,” is “nothing,” and her actions “profiteth” that church “nothing” (1 Co. 13.1-3). A church cannot buy love; a church nullifies all that it does if it has not love for the Lord Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 8.7; see The Love Relationship between Christ and His Churches as Depicted in Song of Solomon to gain an understanding of the love between Christ and His churches). If a church leaves her first love to commune with another power, and earthly power such as a civil government, that church may as well forget doing things God’s way and do things man’s way.

Love is shown by action—that is, it is an act of the will and not lust or just an emotion or a verbal profession (See 1 Co. 13). Jesus said,

  • “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14.21).
  • “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.10, 14).

Only God’s people can exhibit God’s love.  If one loves God and his neighbor as commanded by God, he will automatically keep the New Testament Commandments (which repeat all the Old Testament Commandments except those dealing with the ceremonial law of Israel which included the commandment to keep the Sabbath). The New Testament also adds many more commandments for the believer.

Most rulers are lost. A church, when she incorporates as gets 501(c)(3) or 508 status or becomes a legal entity in any way entangles herself with worldly concerns which consume an inordinate amount of her time and energy by creating new offices and duties which must be performed by her members, and makes the civil government an authority over some, if not most, of her affairs.  She must now work alongside and subject herself to those who are lost. The saved and the lost, those who are to love and those who cannot love, truth and error, earthly and heavenly, temporal and eternal, spiritual life and spiritual death, love and fear, God’s law and man’s law become intertwined.

  • “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world…. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 Jn. 4.5-14, 18-21) [Emphasis mine.]

A church who does not love the Lord may as well ignore God’s doctrine of the church. Such a church may as well do things man’s way and depend upon temporal, man-made means for help. She may as well incorporate, get Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508 status and/or use worldly devises and schemes to attain her goals.  “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Ga. 5:6).

The author is doing a book by book study of the doctrine of the church. Click the following to go to that study: Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church.


En 1: On February 21, 1811 President James Madison vetoed a bill entitled “An Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexander, in the District of Columbia” the District of Columbia being under federal jurisdiction. He returned the bill with the following objections:

  • Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.
  • “The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and policy of the church incorporated, and comprehending even the election and removal of the minister of the same, so that no change could be made therein by the particular society or by the general church of which it is a member, and whose authority it recognizes.
  • “This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration. Nor can it be considered that the articles thus established are to be taken as the descriptive criteria only of the corporate identity of the society, inasmuch as this identity must depend on other characteristics, as the regulations established are in general unessential and alterable according to the principles and canons by which churches of the denomination govern themselves, and as the injunctions and prohibitions contained in the regulations would be enforced by the penal consequences applicable to the violation of them according to the local law…”

(Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), p. 317; also quoted in a book Edited by Lenni Brenner, Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State (Fort Lee, New Jersey: Barricade Books, 2004), p. 198; read the rest of the story online at:

En 2: Of course, a lot of cases could be cited to show how contracting with the state through incorporation (aggregate or sole), getting 501(c)(3) or 508 status, or becoming a legal entity of any kind places another head, other than the Lord Jesus Christ over a church. This is just a very small sampling. Click case names in blue to go directly to cases online.1Co.6.1-6

WILLIAMS et al. v. JONES et al. 61 So.2d 101, 101-103 (1952) 6 Div. 313. Supreme Court of Alabama. October 23, 1952:

“Wherever there is an incorporated church, there are two entities, the one the church as such, not owing its ecclesiastical or spiritual existence to the civil law, and the legal corporation, each separate though closely allied. The spiritual entity of a church made up of members belonging to it, existing without any special law to that effect, is a different and distinct body in the contemplation of the law from the same body when incorporated under statutes for [103] the purpose—the two having different functions to perform, the one religious and the other civil. Under our statutes for the incorporation of churches, it is to be noted that the members of the church become incorporated, and not simply the trustees required to be elected preparatory to proceeding in the court of probate to obtain incorporation. Each member is an incorporator, recognized as a legal civil body, distinct from the church as a spiritual body, theretofore and thereafter continuously existing. §§ 124, 125, Title 10, Code 1940; Hundley v. Collins, supra; Dismukes v. State, 176 Ala. 616, 58 So. 195Blount v. Sixteenth St. Baptist Church, supra.”

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992.

“The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court erred as a matter of law and, accordingly, reversed. We agree that the circuit court was indeed in error in holding that incorporation was a requirement for the religious exemption. The opinion of the court of appeals convincingly demonstrates that “the church was not required to show that it was incorporated as a religious society or corporation under ch. 187, Stats., or otherwise, to establish that its property was exempt from [454] taxation.” We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49.” “The controlling issue on this review is whether Basic Bible is a ‘church’ or ‘religious association’ entitled to property tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats” [456].

The excellent discussion and analysis referred to above was rendered in WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990. The following is from that case: The following is from the analysis:

“The procedures for the incorporation of religious societies were included in ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878. Nash’s Wisconsin Annotations (1914), sec. 1990, ch. 91 at 753, states:

“The revisers of 1878 in their note said: ‘Chapter 411, 1876, is taken to have been intended as a revision of the law for the incorporation of religious societies. The privilege of organizing a corporation is extended to all classes and denominations, it not being supposed the law means to be intolerant of any religious belief or to be partial in its offer of privileges.’

[548] The same annotation at page 755 states:

“‘Church” and “Congregation.’ A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one. But a religious society or congregation, under the statute, is a voluntary association of persons, generally but not necessarily in connection with a church proper, united for the purpose of having a common place of worship and to provide a proper teacher to instruct them in doctrines and duties, etc. [Citations omitted.]

“Thus, the legislature distinguished a church, as the spiritual body, from a religious society, incorporated under the statute, as the legal body of a voluntary association of persons united for religious purposes.”

Taylor v. Paradise Missionary Baptist Church. No. 1160034. Supreme Court of Alabama. July 28, 2017:

[Case involved in incorporated 501(c)(3) church] Further, “[a]s is the case with all churches, the courts will not assume jurisdiction, in fact [have] none, to resolve disputes regarding their spiritual or ecclesiastical affairs. However, there is jurisdiction to resolve questions of civil or property rights.” Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church v. Nixon, 340 So. 2d 746, 748 (Ala. 1976) (citing Williams, supra). As it pertains to the removal of a minister from the church’s pulpit, this Court has stated:

“The civil courts will not take jurisdiction of a controversy arising out of the removal of a minister if the right to the position is merely spiritual or ecclesiastical. But if he has a civil or property right in his position, the civil courts will protect that right. But if there is such right in the minister, which will give the courts jurisdiction, it is well settled that his removal by the appropriate church tribunal is conclusive upon the courts, if there is no violation of contractual right.

“Odoms v. Woodall, 246 Ala. 427, 429, 20 So. 2d 849, 851 (1945). See also Putman v. Vath, 340 So. 2d 26 (Ala. 1976)

“As noted above, ‘it is well settled that [a pastor’s] removal by the appropriate church tribunal is conclusive upon the courts, if there is no violation of contractual right.” Odoms, 246 Ala. at 429, 20 So. 2d at 851. The question then arises as to the jurisdiction of the court to go behind the decision of that tribunal to inquire into its jurisdiction and regularity of its proceedings. . . .’ Id. Although the trial court concluded in its order that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to remove Taylor as the pastor of PMBC, it went on to conclude that it had subject-matter jurisdiction to determine whether the removal of Taylor was valid under church law. [The court then cited and discussed several cases which supported this conclusion.]

“The foregoing authorities demonstrate this Court’s willingness to recognize subject-matter jurisdiction in a trial court to determine whether church procedure or law has been followed when a church decides an ecclesiastical matter such as the removal of a pastor from the pulpit or the expulsion of members from the congregation. However, authorities to the contrary also exist. [The court then cited and discussed several cases which contradicted this conclusion.]

“As discussed above, the removal of Taylor as the pastor of PMBC was purely an ecclesiastical matter not involving a property right and the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to consider it. The determination of whether his removal was valid and in accordance with PMBC’s bylaws necessarily required the trial court to delve into matters relating to PMBC’s internal organization and its ecclesiastical or spiritual rule, custom, or law. Based on the decisions in Hundley, supra, Putman, supra, Milivojevich, supra, and Lott, supra, the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to make that inquiry. Accordingly, to the extent that the trial court determined that the removal of Taylor as the pastor of PMBC was valid and, to that end, ordered that his removal be effective immediately, the trial court lacked the subject-matter jurisdiction to make such a determination because the matter was purely ecclesiastical in nature.”

Author’s comments on this case: The church, by becoming a legal entity, a 501(c)(3) corporation, contracted with the state and gave the court jurisdiction over many matters. She went to her authority on a matter some of her members felt was not and others felt was “ecclesiastical,” Her authority had to first decide whether the matter was “ecclesiastical.” In this case here authority decided not. However, with different facts, as shown by some cases which the court analyzed, the court had found the issue to be “ecclesiastical.” All this required tremendous time and energy, time and energy which could have been used doing God’s work in God’s way. A New Testament church is subject to no other tribunal in the world, other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

WATSON v. JONES, 80 U.S. 679 (____), 13 Wall. 679. Supreme Court of the United States:

Note. The court in this case concludes that it has no jurisdiction over the matter. The important thing to notice is that the authority is the court. Since the church contracted with the state by incorporating, the members (individual or groups of members) can go to their authority not only for resolution of disputes but also for decision as to whether the authority has jurisdiction. A member can sue a member, members, the church or the state; members can sue a member, members, the church, or the state; the church can sue a member or members, etc. The contract makes clear that the controlling party is the state.

“This case belongs to a class, happily rare in our courts, in which one of the parties to a controversy, essentially ecclesiastical, resorts to the judicial tribunals of the State for the maintenance of rights which the church has refused to acknowledge, or found itself unable to protect. Much as such dissensions among the members of a religious society should [714] be regretted, a regret which is increased when passing from the control of the judicial and legislative bodies of the entire organization to which the society belongs, an appeal is made to the secular authority; the courts when so called on must perform their functions as in other cases.

“Religious organizations [an incorporated church, in this case] come before us in the same attitude as other voluntary associations for benevolent or charitable purposes, and their rights of property, or of contract, are equally under the protection of the law, and the actions of their members subject to its restraints. Conscious as we may be of the excited feeling engendered by this controversy, and of the extent to which it has agitated the intelligent and pious body of Christians in whose bosom it originated, we enter upon its consideration with the satisfaction of knowing that the principles on which we are to decide so much of it as is proper for our decision, are those applicable alike to all of its class, and that our duty is the simple one of applying those principles to the facts before us.

“[T]he sole inquiry to which we are restricted in our opinion is, whether Avery, McNaughtan, and Leach are also ruling elders, and therefore members of the session of the church…. This is a case of a division or schism in the church. It is a question as to which of two bodies shall be recognized as the Third or Walnut Street Presbyterian Church. There is a controversy as to the authority of Watson and Galt to act as ruling elders [717]….

“The questions which have come before the civil courts concerning the rights to property held by ecclesiastical bodies, may, so far as we have been able to examine them, be profitably classified under three general heads, which of course do not include cases governed by considerations applicable to a church established and supported by law as the religion of the state. [722]

“1. The first of these is when the property which is the subject of controversy has been, by the deed or will of the donor, or other instrument by which the property is held, by the express terms of the instrument devoted to the teaching, support, or spread of some specific form of religious doctrine or belief. [722]

“2. The second is when the property is held by a religious congregation which, by the nature of its organization, is strictly independent of other ecclesiastical associations, and so far as church government is concerned, owes no fealty or obligation to any higher authority. [722]

“3. The third is where the religious congregation or ecclesiastical body holding the property is but a subordinate member of some general church organization in which there are superior ecclesiastical tribunal with a general and ultimate power of control more or less complete, in some supreme [723] judicatory over the whole membership of that general organization. [722-723] …

[The court then explains the rules for deciding the issue in each of the above organizational types and states that the case involved the third type.]

“In this class of cases we think the rule of action which should govern the civil courts, founded in a broad and sound view of the relations of church and state under our system of laws, and supported by a preponderating weight of judicial authority is, that, whenever the questions of discipline, or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom, or law have been decided by the highest of these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them, in their application to the case before them.

“We concede at the outset that the doctrine of the English courts is otherwise. …

“But we need pursue this subject no further. Whatever may have been the case before the Kentucky court, the appellants in the case presented to us have separated themselves wholly from the church organization to which they belonged when this controversy commenced. They now deny its authority, denounce its action, and refuse to abide by its judgments. They have first erected themselves into a new organization, and have since joined themselves to another totally different, if not hostile, to the one to which they belonged when the difficulty first began. Under any of the decisions which we have examined, the appellants, in their present position, have no right to the property, or to the use of it, which is the subject of this suit. [734]

“The novelty of the questions presented to this court for the first time, their intrinsic importance and far-reaching influence, and the knowledge that the schism in which the case originated has divided the Presbyterian churches throughout Kentucky and Missouri, have seemed to us to justify the careful and laborious examination and discussion which we [735] have made of the principles which should govern the case. For the same reasons we have held it under advisement for a year; not uninfluenced by the hope, that since the civil commotion, which evidently lay at the foundation of the trouble, has passed away, that charity, which is so large an element in the faith of both parties, and which, by one of the apostles of that religion, is said to be the greatest of all the Christian virtues, would have brought about a reconciliation. But we have been disappointed. It is not for us to determine or apportion the moral responsibility which attaches to the parties for this result. We can only pronounce the judgment of the law as applicable to the case presented to us, and that requires us to affirm the decree of the Circuit Court as it stands. [734-735]

En 3: “The church” refers to the institution of the church made up of local visible spiritual assemblies just as marriage refers to the the institution of marriage made up of all unions of one man and one woman. “The church” is a synechdoche, a singular noun that stands in the place of a plurality.



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NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Ephesians. This study is taken from that book with some significant modifications.

DATE A.D. 62


Four men left Rome in A.D. 62 bound for Turkey. These men had four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. When these men bade farewell to the Apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Caesar Nero. The four men and their respective places of abode were: (1) Epaphroditus from Philippi who had the Epistle to the Philippinans (Philippians 4.18). (2) Tychicus from Ephesus who had the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6.21). (3) Epaphras from Colosse who had the Epistile to the Colossians (Colossians 4.12). (4) Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colosse, who had the Epistle to Philemon, his master (Philemon 10).

These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all. These different facets present the Chritian life on the highest plane.

Ephesians presents the institution of the church, made up until the return of Christ of local, autonomous assemblies. Christ desires to be the only Head of every local church body, but every church chooses whether or not they will honor this commandment.


Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece, a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament (Ephesians 2.10). It is more wonderful than any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Churches are to walk as He would walk and to wrestle against the wiles of the devil. Someday, the family of God (all true believers) will leave the world and be presented to Christ as a bride (19.7-10). At that point, they will be assembled and will form a visible, universal Church (Hebrews 12.22-24).

Dr. Arthur T. Pierson called Ephesians, “Paul’s third-heaven epistle.” Another has called it “the Alps of the New Testament.” This is the church epistle. Many expositors consider this the highest peak of spiritual truth, the very apex and acme of Bible revelation. Some have even suggested that Ephesians is so profound that none but the very elect (in other words, the chosen few) can understand it. Dr. McGee noticed that the folk who say this include themselves in that inner circle. To be candid with you, he says that he does not even pretend to be able to probe or plumb the depths of this epistle nor to ascend to its heights. This epistle is lofty and it is heady. It is difficult to breathe the rarefied air of this epistle—you will find this to be true when we get into it. With the Holy Spirit as guide, Dr. McGee (with my humble edits) will do the very best we can to understand and explain it.


Ephesus is in Turkey. The Holy Spirit would not permit Paul on his second missionary journey to enter the province of Asia where Ephesus was the prominent center: Acts 16:6: “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” The Holy Spirit put up a roadblock and said to Paul, “You can’t go down there now.” We are not told the reason, but we know God’s timing is perfect. He would send him there later. So Paul traveled west to Berea, down to Athens, over to Corinth, and then, on the way back, he came by Ephesus. Oh, what a tremendous opportuinity he saw there! Acts 18:19: “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.”

Paul was so favorably impressed by the opportunities for missionary work that he promised to return, which he did on his third missionary journey. He discovered that another missionary by the name of Apollos had been there in the interval between his second and third missionary journeys. Apollos had preached only the baptism of John and not the gospel of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time Apollos didn’t know about the Lord Jesus, but later on he himself became a great preacher of the gospel.

Paul began a far-reaching ministry in Ephesus. For two years he spoke in the school of Tyrannus, and the gospel penetrated into every center of the province of Asia. Evidently it was at this time that the churches addressed in the second and third chapters of Revelation were founded by this ministry of Paul.

Dr. McGee believers that the greatest ministry of the gospel ever was in what is in modern day Turkey. Millions lived there in that day. It was the very heart of the Roman Empire. The culture of Greece was no longer in Greece, but along the coast of Turkey, and Ephesus was the leading city.

Ephesus was the main city of Asia Minor and second only to Rome in the Roman Empire. Founded around 2000 B.C. by the Hittites, it was an Oriental, Asian city until around 1000 B.C. when the Greeks came in. For 2500 years, Ephesus was one of the great cities of the world. It was on a harbor that is no longer there. Today, Ephesus is about six miles from the ocean.

The Temple of Diana in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was the largest Greek temple ever constructed, 418 feet by 239 feet. The art and wealth of the Ephesian citizens contributed to its adornment. It had 127 graceful columns, some of them richly carved and colored. It contained works of art such as the picture painted by Apelles of Alexander the Great hurling the thunderbolt. It was four times larger than the Parthenon but very similar to it.

Inside the beautiful temple was the vulgar idol of Diana, of Greek mythology, the goddess of fertility, a many breasted idol of wood. All sorts of gross immortality took place in the shadow of this temple.

A flourishing trade was carried on in the manufacture of silver shrines or models of the temple. The artistic business brought no small gain to the craftsmen.

It was to such a city that Paul came. He first spoke in the synagogue for three months. Then he went to the school of Tyrannus and continued there two years. “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19.10). Paul stayed in Ephesus longer than any other place. The people of Ephesus heard more Bible teaching from Paul than did any other people, which is the reason he could write to them the deep truths contained in this epistle.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Co. 16.8-9). There was great opposition to Paul’s preaching because it was putting the silversmiths out of business. A riot resulted. Paul was preaching the gospel of the living God and life through Jesus Christ. God marvelously preserved him, which encouraged him to continue (Acts 19.23-41). Paul loved this church in Ephesus. His last meeting with the Ephesian elders was a tender farewell (Acts 20.17-38).

A great company turned to Christ. Dr. McGee thinks the gospel was more effective in this area than in any place and at any time in the history of the world. He believes the Ephesian church was the highest church spiritually. It is amazing that the believers in Ephesus understood the Epistle. He would not have written it to them if they could not have understood it. Ephesus was a church at its best, a church at the highest spiritual level.

You and I today cannot even conceive the high spiritual level that the Spirit of God had produced in these Ephesian believers. They loved the person of the Lord Jesus and were drawn to Him. Dr. McGee says that he ministered for many years and loved to minister. However, he says that we are far from Christ today. We are so enamored by various things—programs; church work; our pet projects; the influence of others who are not led by the Holy Spirit, the principles of the Bible, and the love of God; an office in the church; etc.—that we get farther and farther from the person of Christ. The really big question is how much we love Him. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Do we return that love? Do we respond to Him? Can we say, “I love Him because He first loved me?” The letter to the Ephesians ought to bring us very close to Christ.

Ephesians and Revelation can be arranged mathematically and logically. No books are more logical than those books. Dr. McGee says that he got tired of hearing folk say, “I believe the Bible from cover to cover,” when they don’t even know what was between the covers. They were just making a pious statement. If one really believes it is God’s Word, he will try to find out what it says. We need to get off this gimmick of methods and how to communicate to the younger generation and who to better organize a church and really learn what is in the Book. Dr. McGee says that Ephesians and Revelation were the two easiest books in the Bible to outline because they were logical. He does not pretend to understand everything that is in these books, but they are logical and easy to outline.

[Dr. McGee then commented on the logic of Revelation.] Of the six chapters in Ephesians, three are about the heavenly calling of a church and are doctrinal. The  last three are about the earthly conduct of the church which is very practical. The church has a Head, Christ, and He is in heaven. We are identified with Him. But the feet of a church are down here on the earth. Paul won’t leave us sitting in the heavenlies; he says, “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ep. 4.1). In other words, Christian, it’s nice to sit in heavenly places and boast of your position in Christ, but, for goodness’ sake, get down out of your high chair and start walking. We need to remember that in Paul’s day believers were walking in a pagan society in the Roman world. The first half is doctrinal and the last half is practical, which makes a very logical division in the book. We need both. We are not to live in the first three chapters only. They are wonderful, but the message must get down here where we live, down where the rubber meets the road. There is a battle going on and an enemy to be fought. The bugle has sounded. We need to stand for God today.


I. DOCTRINAL, the Heavenly Calling of A Church (Vocalization), Chapters 1-3

A. A Church Is a BODY, Chapter 1
1. Introduction, verses 1, 2
2. God the Father Planned and Ordained the Institution of the Church, verses 3-6
3. God the Son Paid the Price for the Church, verses 7-12, “redemption through his blood
4. God the Holy Spirit Protects a Church, verses 13, 14.
5.Prayer for Knowledge and Power, verses 15-23

B. A Church Is a TEMPLE, CHAPTER 2
1. The Material for Construction, verses 1-10 “The dead in trespasses” are made into a living temple
2. The Method of Construction, verses 11-18
3. The Meaning of the Construction (quo animo), verses 19-22, “growth into an holy temple in the Lord””

C. The Church Is a Mystery, Chapter 3
1. The Explanation of the Mystery, verses 1-4 Not revealed in the Old Testament
2. The Definition of the Mystery, verses 5-13 Jews and Gentiles are partakers of the same Body—manifested on earth in local assemblies
3. Prayer for Power and Knowledge, verses 14,21 “strengthened with might” and to “know the love of Christ”

II. PRACTICAL, the Earthly Conduct of A Church (Vocation), Chapters 4-6

A. A Church is a NEW MAN, CHAPTER 4
1. The Exhibition of the New Man, verses 1-6 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit”
2. The Inhibition of the New Man, verses 7-16 “no more children” grow up into Him” “perfect man”
3. The Prohibition of the New Man, verses 17-32 “walk not as other Gentiles walk” “be ye kind one to another”

B. The Church will be a BRIDE (At the marriage of the Lamb, Christ will marry all members of the Family of God and form the first and only everlasting Universal Church), Chapter 5
1. The Engagement of a Church, verses 1-17 “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”
2. The Experience of a Church, verses 18-24 “be filled with the Spirit”
3. The Expectation of a Church, verses 25-33 “that he might present it to himself a glorious church”

C. A Church Is a Soldier, Chapter 6
1. The Soldier’s Relationships. verses 1-9 “no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life
2. The Soldier’s Enemy, verses 10-12 “the wiles of the devil
3. The Soldier’s Protection, verses 13-18 “the whole armour of God
4. The Soldier’s Example—Paul, a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ, verses 19-22
5. The Soldier’s Benediction, verses 23, 24


I. DOCTRINAL, the Heavenly Calling of A Church (Vocalization), Chapters 1-3

Chapter 1
A Church Is a BODY

Ephesians begins with the doctrinal section concerning the heavenly calling of a church, the vocalization.

1. Introduction

vv1, 2.  This letter is to a local church, the church at Ephesus. However, as with all Paul’s epistles which deal with the doctrine or the church, the principles are to be applied by all churches. One cannot infer that Paul was writing to a universal church, since such a church will not and cannot exist until the Marriage of the Lamb. See Re. 19.7-10, and Heb. 12.21-24. A church is a called-out assembly.  Just as Jesus Christ was in the world with his assembly, church members are in the world but not of the world. Christ sends them into the world. Jn. 17.18. They sit in “places” in the world, “heavenly places” (places like heaven since they are now spiritual beings – Ephesians 1.3, 1.20, 2.6) but they are not of the world even as Christ, while on earth was not of the world (Jn. 17.11-16). His kingdom is not of the world (Jn. 18.36).

A church is a living spiritual body, an assembly of believers, as will be seen. One cannot have a foot in China, a toe in South Africa, and an arm in the United States: such an organism could not be a body and could not function as required by the Church Doctrine laid out in the Bible. The epistle speaks to the family of God (all believers) and to local churches. Those members of the church at Ephesus were fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God. They were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. A building is all one, not part here and part somewhere else. They were a living organism, made of living stones, founded upon a living stone who is the chief cornerstone (1 Pe. 2.4-8, Ep. 2.1-14, Ro. 8.1-13).

Paul states, “I am an apostle.” An apostle is the highest office the church has ever had. No one today is an apostle because no one can meet the requirements. The requirements of an apostle are:

(1) The apostles received their commission directly from the living lips of Jesus Christ. Paul made that claim for himself. He wrote, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Ga. 1.1). This is the reason Paul took the place of Judas, according to Dr. McGee. The disciples had selected Matthias, but one can find no where in the Bible that Jesus Christ made him an apostle. Apparently all the apostles received their commission directly from the Lord Jesus.

(2) The apostles saw the Saviour after His resurrection. Paul could meet that requirement.

(3) The apostles exercised a special inspiration. They expounded and wrote Scripture (See John 14.26; 16.13; Ga. 1.11, 12). Paul measures up to that  more than any apostle.

(4) They exercised supreme authority (Jn. 20.22, 23; 2 Co. 10.8);

(5) The badge of authority was the power to work miracles (Mk. 6.13; Lk. 9.1, 2; Ac. 2.43). Such power is not invested in men today. That was the badge of an apostle. John wrote at the end of the first centruy, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speec” (2 Jn. 10). The badge was no longer the ability to work miricles but having right doctrine.

(6) They were given a universal commission to found churches (2 Co. 11.28).

Paul expressly met these six requirements for apostleship. “By the will of God.” He rested his apostleship upon the will of God rather than any personal ambition or will of man or request of the church. He wrote to the Galatians: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Ga. 1:15-16). Paul said to Timothy, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Ti. 1:12-13 ). Paul made constant reference to the will of God as the foundation of his apostleship. He says it in 1 Co. 1.1, 2 Co. 1.1, Col. 1.1, and 2 Ti. 1.1.

“To the saints in Ephesus.” Saint means holy or separated. The primary intent of the word is “set aside for the sole use of God, that which belongs to God.” The pots and pans in the Tabernacle were called holy vessels because they were for the use of God. A saint, my friend, is one who has trusted Christ and is set aside for the sole use of God. There are only two types of people, the saints, and the ain’ts. If you are not a saint, then you are not an ain’t. If you ain’t an ain’t, then you are a saint. There are some saints who are not being used of God. That is their fault. They are set aside for the use of God and for His service. Saints are not saints because of the way they act, but because of their position in Christ. They belong to Him to be used of Him.

“At Ephesus.” Yes, this was written to a local body of believers, but the principles are for believers in every local body.

“And to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” These are believers. A saint should be saintly, and a believer should be faithful.

“In Christ Jesus.” This epistle is going to amplify this wonderful thing. To be saved means to be in Christ. A believer is irrevocably and organically joined to Christ by baptism of the Holy Spirit (See, e.g., Ac. 1.8, 2.1-4, 8.17, 10.46, 19.6). Once saved, a person belongs to the family of God.  “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Co. 6.17). Believers belong to Him. The Lord Jesus said, “Ye in me and I in you.” Believers are in Christ and Christ is in a believers. We are joined to Him. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians, according to Dr. McGee, should be given top priority among the epistles. Ephesians is the book of Joshua of the New Testament, and it speaks directly to the believer in a personal way.

v2 “Grace to you, and peace.” These two words are Paul’s greeting. The grace of God is the means by which He saves us. You must know the grace of God before you can know the peace of God. Paul always put them in that order – grace and peace. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5.1).

You see the word peace everywhere today, generally referring to peace in some section of the world, or world peace. But the world can never know peace until it knows the grace of God. You don’t see the word grace very much. You see the word love and the word peace. They are very familiar words, and they are supposed to be taken from the Bible, but they don’t mean what they mean in the Word of God. Peace is peace with God because our sins are forgiven. Our sins can never be forgiven until we know the grace of God.

“From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The grace and peace are from God our Father. He becomes our Father when we experience the grace of God and are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Grace and peace also come from the Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Paul say they also came from the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit was already indwelling believers. The Lord Jesus was seated at God’s right hand. When we get our geography right, it even helps our theology.

2. God the Father Planned and Ordained the Institution of the Church, verses 3-6

v1 He blessed us and we praise Him with our lips because of that. Our blessing is a declaration, His blessings are deeds. We pronounce Him blessed. He makes us blessed. The word blessed is the thought of happiness and joy.

“In heavenly places in Christ. Here we are, blessed with all spiritual blessings, and it’s in places which are like heaven. Why? Because they places they assemble together in are like heaven. “Places” is a plural noun. “Heavenly” is an adjective which modifies “places.” If one gets His grammar correct, as did the translators of the King James Bible as led by the Holy Spirit, he gets his theology correct. The believer is in “heavenly places” in Christ even when he is down in the dumps. This is the position He has given us. No matter what “place” a believer is in, he is from heaven since he, as a new creature in Christ, is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit which is from heaven. The Holy Spirit from heaven now indwells Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We praise Him because He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings.The parallel is Joshua in the Old Testament. Canaan is a picture of where we live today. It could never be heaven because there are enemies to be fought and battles to be won. Believers, in a kingdom not of this world, are to fight a spiritual battle here on earth. When we get to heaven, there will be no more battles.

There are two ways to treat your spiritual possessions: either to lay hold of them or not to lay hold of them. Children of God today are not to live off the little wine of this world. They are not to engage in cheap entertainment. God wants the believer to know that he has been blessed with all spiritual blessings. He has not promised us physical blessings, but spiritual ones, and these are in “heavenly places” in Christ. The believer will not have any spiritual blessing that does not come through Jesus Christ.

Now we come to God’s blueprint. What did God do in planning the church? He did three things: (1) He chose us in Christ. (2) He predestinated us to the place of sonship. (He accepted us in the Beloved.

The Bible now talks about election and predestination. This passage of Scripture is very difficult. The meaning of these words is very important. For Dr. McGee’s complete teaching on these verses, see the teaching on the relevant verses at Ephesians. I include here some choice selections from those teachings.

Ephesians 1:4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

The whole thought is: Open your gift and see what God has done for you, and then move out in faith and lay hold of it and live today on the high plane to which God has brought you. He’s made you a son and blessed you with all spiritual blessings. This was all according to His plan. His church is like heaven, but it is located on earth.

God the Father planned the church, God the Son paid the price for the church, and God the Holy Spirit protects the church. The source of all our blessings is God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is altogether of God and not at all of ourselves. You and I are not the originators nor the promoters nor the consummators of our salvation. God did it all.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” God planned our salvation way back yonder in eternity. God did the saving. Our part was the sinning. Dr. Ironside tells this story. A little boy was asked, “Have you found Jesus?” The little fellow answered, “Sir, I didn’t know He was lost. But I was lost and He found me.” You don’t find Jesus. He finds you. He is the One who went out after the lost sheep, and He is the One who found that sheep.

God chose believers before the foundation of the world. He did not choose us because we were good or because we had done some good. The entire choice is thrown back upon the sovereignty of the wisdom and goodness of God alone. If He did the choosing, then he’s responsible.

God choose Israel. (See Amos 3.1,2). God chose the institution of the church in eternity. He knew the end from the beginning. He knew the end from the beginning (see Ac. 15.18).

God did all this for a purpose: “… that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” God chose us in order to save and sanctify us. He saves and sanctifies us that we might be holy. A holy life is demanded by God’s election. Don’t tell me that you can say, “Well, I’m one of the elected. I have been saved by grace, and now I can do as I please” (see Romans 6.1, 2). You can’t use grace as a license to sin. If you go on living in sin, it is because you are a sinner who hasn’t been saved.

God also elected us so that we should be “without blame.” The believer is seen before God as without blame. We see an example of this in Israel. God would not permit Balaam to curse Israel or to find fault with His people (see Nu. 23.21).

The believer’s life has been changed. If there is no evidence of change, then you are not one of the elect.  … He has made every provision to absolve them of all blame (see 1 Jn. 2.1, 2).

By the way, that answers once and for all the question of limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. 1 Jn. 2.1, 2 makes clear that He died for the sins of the whole world: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. A legitimate offer has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You can’t hide and say, “I am not one of the elect.” You are of the elect if you hear His voice. You can choose not to hear His voice. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3.19-21). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14.6). “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (Jn. 10.9). “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6.37). “… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10.10).

“The whosoeverwills are the elect and the whosoeverwon’ts are the non-elect.” It is up to you. The Lord has made the invitation. The Lord has extended the invitation. Whosoever will may come. Don’t try to say you are left out. God so loved the world. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish. Dr. McGee does not believe that you can have “mental reservations.” The problem is that you have sin in your life, and the Bible condemns it. If you come to Christ, to the light, you will have to turn from that sin, and some just don’t want to turn from their sin.

“Chosen us in him.” Again and again the Word of God emphasizes God’s sovereign choice (see 2 Thes. 2.13, 14; 1 Pe. 1.2). Election and sanctification seem to go together and they are both in the Lord Jesus Christ. If God has saved you, He hasn’t saved you because you are good but because you are not good (Ro. 9.14-16), you recognized it, had a Godly sorrow because of your sin, and you turned to God (repented) because you realized that only He could save you from your sin (Tit. 2.11-14; Jn. 3.16-22; 2 Co. 7.8-11). God will have mercy and compassion upon anyone who turns to Him and trusts the Lord Jesus Christ to save him.

A good illustration is in Acts 27. Paul told the men on the ship that no man’s life would be lost in the storm (Ac. 27.22-24). That is election. God had elected that no man should be lost. Later, Paul told a group of sailors who were about to let down a boat into the sea. Paul told the captain, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” God’s side of it was that none should be lost. But the condition was, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” That was man’s side of it—they had to stay in the ship.

God knows who the elect are. I don’t. Someone came to Spurgeon one time and said, “Mr. Spurgeon, if I believed as you do, I would not preach like you do. You say you believe that there are the elect, and yet you preach as if everybody can be saved.” Spurgeon’s answer was, “They can all be saved. If God had put a yellow streak up and down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets lifting up shirt tails to find out who had the yellow streak up and down his back. Then I’d give that person the gospel. But God didn’t do that. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature and that whosoever will may come.” That is our marching order.

Someone put it like this. On the door to heaven, from our side, it says, “Whosoever will may enter. I am the door: by Me if any man ….” Any man means you. You can come in, and find pasture and find life. When you get on the other side of the door someday in heaven, you’re going to look back, and on that door you will find written, “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”

A blueprint for a beautiful building depicts the building, that when finished, shows the building in all its glory. So much more so, God has planned the institution of the church made up, at this time of local assemblies under Christ, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The words “In love” are connected with verse 5:

Ephesians 1:5: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

We are treading on the mountain tops in Ephesians. We’re in eternity past when God planned the church. God says, “Take it or leave it. This is the way I did it. You may not like it, but this is the way I did it, and I’m the one running this universe, you see.” God has not turned it over to any political party or to any individual yet. He certainly hasn’t turned it over to me, and all of us can shout a hearty “Amen” to that and thank Him He didn’t do it that way. God has done these three things in planning the institution of the church: First, He chose us. Second, he predestineated us to the place of sonship. Thirdly, He made us accepted of the beloved.

Men are not lost because they have not been elected. They are lost because they are sinners and that is the way they want it, the way they have chosen. The lost man makes his own choice. If there be not free will grace in God, how can He save the world? And if there be not free will in man, how can the world by God be judged?

God saves no one because he comes forward at an evangelistic campaign, because we were nice little boys or girls, because we have joined a church, or because we have an inclination to turn to Him. He saves us because He extends mercy. God said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God told Moses He was going to hear and answer his prayer because, “… it’s not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”

All are in the same boat. All are lost sinners. A believer will not be in heaven because he has been baptized, because he is a pastor or a deacon, because he joined a church, or because he partakes of Sacraments. One will be in heaven because of the mercy of God. One is at best a sinner. Until one is willing to come to God as a nobody and then let Him make us somebody, you and I will never be saved.

In verse five we come to the next thing God did for us. “In love having predestined us.” Love and predestination, believe it or not, are in the same verse. Love required a choice. God’s love is involved in this word which has been frightful to a great many people. Predestination has to do with God’s purpose with those he chooses.

Predestination is never used in reference to unsaved people. God has never predestined anyone to be lost. If you are lost, it is because you have rejected God’s remedy. One has to determine for himself what his choice will be.

Predestination refers only to those who are saved. It means that when God starts out with 100 sheep, He is ging to come through with 100 sheep. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro. 8:28-29). Those who are called according to His purpose are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. Romans goes on to tell how people are saved. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Ro. 8.30). When God starts out with 100 sheep, he will come through with 100 sheep.

A sheep can get lost (out of fellowship with Christ Jesus). But that little sheep is still a sheep even though he is way out yonder and lost. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53.6)—That’s our propensity, that’s our tendency; that’s the direction we go. So the Shepherd goes out and looks for that one lost sheep. Predestination means that He is going to bring me and every single sheep in. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jn. 10.27-28). Sheep are stupid little fellows. They are save only because they have a wonderful shepherd.

We are predestinated “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” Adoption means that we are brought into the place of sons. It implies two things. Adoption means regeneration by the Holy Spirit. The child of God has been born again “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pe. 1.23). He is born again into a new relationship. Adoption means a place of position and privilege. When we are saved, we are born into the family of God as a babe in Christ; but, in addition, we are given the position of an adult son. We are in a position where we can understand the Word of the Father because He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. God communicates with us now. Paul tells us how: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Co. 2.12).

v6 All is for the glory of God. “Wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The Beloved is the Lord Jesus Christ who said “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17.24). God sees the believer in Christ and accepts the believer just as He receives His own Son. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (Jn. 17.23).

God gets all the praise. He did it all. He chose us in Christ. He predestinated us to the place of sonship. He made us accepted in the beloved.

3. God the Son Paid the Price for the Church, verses 7-12, “redemption through his blood

v7 Back in eternity past God chose us, predestined us, and made us accepted in the Beloved. Now we move out of eternity into time, where the plans of God the Father are placed into the hands of Christ, who moves into space and time to construct the church. The only thing that is repulsive about the blood redemption is sin. It is impossible to emphasize the blood of Christ too much. It is through His blood that we have redemption. The entire context of the Old Testament sets forth the expiation of sins by the blood of an animal sacrifice. Yet this could not take away sins—only Christ could execute that. See Hebrews. 10.6-13.

“In whom we have redemption.” “In whom” refers to Christ. We are accepted in the Beloved. Mt. 20.28: He came “to give his life a ransom for many.” 1 Co. 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Ga. 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” Christ redeemed us. We belong to Him.

Redemption also means to set free after paying the price. Lk. 21:28 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Man is sold under sin and is in bondage to sin. Man is rotten, corrupt sinner and he cannot do anything else but sin—he is a slave to sin. Christ came to pay the price of man’s freedom. Jn. 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

This redemption is “through His blood”—that was the price which he paid. 1 Pe. 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The blood of Christ is more valuable than silver and gold. There is not much of it. A limited supply increases the value. One drop of Christ’s blood can save every sinner on earth, if the sinner will trust Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” He. 9.22.

“The forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness is not the act of an indulgent deity who is moved by sentiment to the exclusion of justice, righteousness, and holiness. Forgiveness depends on shedding of blood.

Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are not the same. … Human forgiveness comes before the penalty is executed. Divine forgiveness depends upon the penalty being executed. The righteousness of the law demands that the penalty be paid. Judges on earth are to exact justice. Are they willing to pay the penalty if they forgive? God paid the penalty, and then he forgave. [See McGee, Ephesians, pp. 41-43.

“According to the riches of His Grace.” [Dr. McGee explains the difference between “according to the riches of His Grace” and “out of the riches of His Grace.”]

We are dealing with the work of God the Son on behalf of the church. That work is threefold: (1) Christ redeemed us through His blood, (2) He has revealed the mystery of His will, and (3) He rewards us with an inheritance.

We saw that Christ bought us to set us free. God never asks what we have done for Hm. When He saves you by grace, it does not put you in debt to Him. He bought you in order to set you free. But we certainly are to serve Him. But it is on another basis, a new relationship—the relationship now is love. Jn. 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He did not say, “because I am dying for you, keep my commandments.” If you don’t love Him, forget about this business of service.

For more of the Dr. McGee’s study on Ephesians 1.7, click here.

Now we are ready for the second work of God the Son on behalf to the church: Christ revealed the mystery of His will in vv 8-12.

1vv8-10 A mystery in Scripture means that God is revealing something that, up to that time, He had not revealed. There are two elements to a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by human agencies, for it is always a revelation from God; (2) It is revealed at the proper time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed.

There are 11 mysteries in the NT. (See McGee, Ephesians, pp. 45-46). God hasn’t told us everything about these mysteries. There  are a lot of questions one could ask about them, but only God knows the answers.

Click here to go to Dr. McGee’s audio teaching on Ep. 8-11. He explains “mystery (including the mysteries in the New Testament),” “dispensation (a word like “blood,” “cross” that is hated), “fullness of time toward which God is moving all things,” “believers’ inheritance,” which God had purposed and “predestined.” Christ paid for the church.

v11-12 God rewards us for something we have not done. Believers will inherit with Christ because they are in Christ. See Ro. 8.17, 1 Co.3.21-23. Everything is mine. Christ belongs to me, Paul belongs to me, death may belong to me. All is mine because He has given it to me. God is mine! This is to the saved. God never predestined anyone to be lost. He predestined the saved to receive an inheritance which I did not deserve. It is a reward out of His grace and not out of my merit.

These are three marvelous things Christ has done for us: (1) Redeemed us with His blood; (2) Revealed the mystery of His will; (3) Rewards us with an inheritance. He paid for the church, and I belong to Him because He paid a price. Men living today will all be gone in 100 years. But God’s plans will be carried out!

v12. Man exists for God’s glory. The believer exists for the glory of God. The third doxology concerns the work of the Holy Spirit.

  1. God the Holy Spirit Protects a Church, verses 13, 14 “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body

Ep.1.13-14v13 We’re passing from the God’s work for us to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. In this work of regeneration and renewing, the Holy Spirit causes a sinner to hear and believe in his heart, and that makes Him a child of God (Jn. 1.12).

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth.” Hearing means to hear not just the sound of words but to hear with understanding (1 Co. 1.23, 24). The called are those who heard with understanding. God called them (See  Ro. 10.17). Those who are called hear the Word of God and respond to it, then they are born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God…” (1 Pe. 1.23). The moment one trusts in Christ, he is regenerated.

“In whom after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” One is baptized in the Holy Spirit the moment he trusts Christ. He is also sealed at that moment. The Spirit does the work. He regenerates the sinner at the same time that He seals the sinner.

The two-fold purpose in the sealing work of the Holy Spirit is (1) He implants the image of God upon the heart to give reality to the believer (See Jn. 3.33). (2) the sealing is to denote rightful ownership. (2 Ti. 2.19). If you name the name of Christ, you are going to depart from iniquity. If there is not this evidence, then you were not regenerated or sealed. The Holy Spirit is the seal, and that guarantees that Do is going to deliver us. We are sealed to the day of redemption.

v14 The third and final work of the Holy Spirit in protecting the church. The Holy Spirit is our earnest money (money put down to hold property with more to come). He has been given as a pledge and token that there is more to follow in the way of spiritual blessings. All this is to “the praise of his glory.” This is the third doxology in this chapter. Here it is to the praise of the glory of God that the Holy Spirit regenerates us, becomes our refuge and seal, and gives us reality. All these glorious truths move Paul to prayer.

5. Prayer of Paul on behalf of the Ephesians for Knowledge and Power, verses 15-23

The Ephesian church was noted for its faith and love, real love expressed by the saints. This was the church at its highest. Sadly, many negative things motivate us to pray. Paul was often motivated by good things. Do we pray, e.g., “Oh God, I thank you for this brother and the way You are using him”? “Thank you God for the way you are using [a church or its preacher]”?  Or do we pray, “I want this, I want that, I want another thing”? Why don’t we thank Him sometimes. We need more thanksgiving services, maybe more than just once a year. We need to praise Him more.

Paul said, “I cease not to give thanks for you.” Paul wept with the believers at Ephesus when he took leave of them. He loved them, and they loved him. You can judge a church by their love for each other and their love for the Word of God.

Paul was a great man of prayer, which you will see if you go through and make a list of all those he prayed for. There are two of Paul’s prayers in this epistle. This is the first one. The other is at the end of the third chapter. Both indicate his concern as a child of God for other believers. Ananias in Damascus was afraid to go to Paul. The angel said to him, “Behold he prayeth.” (Acts 9.11). This was an indication to Ananias that something had happened to Saul of Tarsus.

“Cease not to give thanks for you.” “Making mention of you in all my prayers.” That means he called them all by name.

Now we will see that he does not pray for material things but for spiritual blessings.

Paul, having written that the church is the body of Christ, and that God the Father planned it, God the Son paid for it, and God the Holy Spirit protects it, recognized that the Ephesians wouldn’t be able to understand all this unless the Spirit of God was their teacher and opened the Word of God to them. That is the only way anyone will ever understand the Word of God.


v18 As far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, no person can understand it apart from the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

vv19-20 God’s mighty power was enough to raise Christ from the dead. Resurrection power and power to set Christ at God’s right hand (ascension power). This same power is available to believers today. Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Ephesians 1:21-23 “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

Thus Paul concludes on a tremendously high note. The church at Ephesus church (and every local church under Christ – see also, e.g., 1 Co. 12.27) is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the church. Hebrews 2:8 “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.”

At the present time, the only thing that is under Him are his true local New Testament churches—the real churches which make up the institution of the church—made up of real believers. There are many organized groups who call themselves churches who are not listening to the Lord Jesus. These “churches” are paralyzed. You see, the most tragic sight to see is a child of God lying on a bed, helpless, as if his brain is detached from his body. I’ve seen many churches that have been like that, and there are many individual Christians today who act as if they are detached from Christ, the head of the body. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” In other words, I can wiggle my little finger because my head is in charge of it; and when He wants you to “wiggle” down here, yo do it because of love, or else you’re not attached to Him. How important this is! Paul pictures the church (which consists now of local autonomous New Testament spiritual assemblies or bodies) and our relationship to it in this way: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Co. 12.12-13). The thing we need to see is that Christ is the head of the body, the local church, His churches, who are under Him.

A Church Is a TEMPLE

The chapter begins with “wherefore,” letting us know it is a continuation of the thought of the first chapter. The power that raised Jesus from the dead (chapter 1) is the same power that makes one a child of God because everyone is dead in trespasses and sins after he has been made alive in Christ. That takes power! It takes resurrection power. This power will be exhibited by a church which is the body of Christ in this world. The Lord Jesus expresses Himself in the world today through his church.

A church as a temple corresponds to the temple of the Old Testament which was, in turn, preceded by the tabernacle of the wilderness. The comparison is self-evident. The contrasts between the church and the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament are sharp and striking.

  1. The tabernacle and the temple, for instance, were made of living trees of acacia wood that were hewn into dead boards. In order to form A church, God takes dead material and makes it into a living temple.
  2. The temple and the tabernacle were dwelling places for the glory of God. A church is a dwelling place for the Person of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Nor does a church have a ritual. It is a functional organism in which the Holy Spirit moves through the living stones. The tabernacle and the temple were for the performance of a ritual and the repetition of a sacrifice for sin. A church is built upon the one sacrifice of Christ in the historical past, a sacrifice which is not repeated: Hebrews 9:25-26: “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
  4. Also, the church is not a “temple made with hands.”Acts 17:24-25: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” “Ye” is plural. The Holy Spirit is writing to the local church, specifically the church at Corinth, but also to all local churches of Christ.
  5. Another sharp contrast to the Old Testament temple is the position of the Gentiles. Gentiles had to come as proselytes and were confined to the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was way off to the left as you look into the temple. The Gentiles did not get very close. That is why Paul says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ep. 2:13). Gentile believers are now seated in “heavenly places” in Christ!

Israel never did believe that God was confined to the temple. See 1 K. 8.27.


vv1-2 The devil takes this dead material and energizes us. That is the reason the cults are as busy as termites. False religionists put us to shame in their zeal. Satan is energizing them. Satan is able to duplicate a great many of the miracles that are scriptural miracles.

Verses 1-7 compose a single periodic sentence in the Greek. It is difficult to read. Koine Greek is generally easy to read, but here is a periodic sentence that reveals that Paul was capable of writing better Greek than the Koine of his day. Etc. See McGee, Ephesians, p. 67.

The death of Adam was imputed to us. Ro. 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Adam died spiritually the day he disbelieved and disobeyed God. He ran away from God and tried to hide. That is the position of natural man today. Adam had lost his capacity and longing for God. He was separated from God. Death is separation. Physical death is separation of the spirit and the soul from the body. Spiritual death is a separation from God. Only the convicting work of the Holy Spirit can prick the conscience of any man in the world today. John 16:8: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

An old Irishman described a cemetery: “A cemetery is a place where the dead live.” That describes our world.

Adam trespassed. He stepped over God’s bounds. Sin means to miss the mark. Man’s condition before he is saved: dead in trespasses and sins and energized by Satan. Every unsaved man is walking around like a spiritual zombie. While lost, we walked according to the spirit of the age. We conformed to the society and the civilization and the life-style of the world. We were walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that energizes the sons of disobedience.

A lot of people come to church on Sunday, pious as a church mouse. On Monday, they start out in this rough workaday world just as mean and hard and after the almighty dollar as everyone else. See James 4.1-4.

See 1 Jn. 2.15-17.

In this section of the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul is giving a description of the past, present, and future of the church and of all believers.

vv4-6 starts with “but,” an important thing. We were dead in trespasses and sins, completely incapable of saving ourselves. God loves us, but He saves us by His grace, not by His love.

vv8, 9 Great verses which consummate this section on the believer’s past, present, and future.

v10 All believers from the day of Pentecost to the rapture, the real believers, most of whom are members of local churches, are His workmanship and His new creation in Christ Jesus.


vv11, 12 The church at Ephesus was made up largely of Gentiles, with just a small number of Jews. Gentiles are further identified as the “uncircumcision,” put on them by the so-called “circumcision,” the Jews. After God called out Abraham until the advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Israel was a unique nation. A Gentile could only come as a proselyte. This distinction caused friction because Israel became proud of her position. Israelites came to look down on Gentiles, and hatred crept into the hearts of both groups.

These verses give a description of the sad lot and hopeless plight of the Gentiles. It is an accurate picture of any lost man: “Without Christ,” “Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” “Strangers from the covenants of promise,” “having no hope,” (the religions of the world have no hope) and “without God in the world” (man has removed himself from God, not the other way around.).

The covenants God made with Israel are still valid, and no Gentile has any right to appropriate them. God promised them that land, and will give it to them one day, on God’s terms, not theirs.

v13 For Gentiles in Christ, all that has changed. They have been made nigh by the blood of Christ.

vv14-17 Everyone in Christ stands on equal footing. We will be with Christ throughout eternity. When a Jew and Gentile are placed in Christ, there is peace. God has brought both Jew and Gentile to a higher plane. The true brotherhood is composed of those who are in Christ. Both Jew and Gentile come to the cross as sinners, where they are made a new creature.

The Old Testament temple succeeded by the tabernacle had partitions. There were three entrances into the three departments: the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. There were three entrances into the three departments: the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. Then there were sections partitioned off for priests, Israel, women, and Gentiles. Christ, by His death, took out the veil, and He became the way (the outer court), the truth (the holy place), and the life (the holy of holies). Now we come through Christ and come directly into the presence of God the Father. Those who come to Him are removed from their little departments and are placed in Christ, the new Temple where there are no departments. The cross dissolves the fences, and the gospel is preached to the Gentiles, those who were afar off, and to the Jews, those who were near.

v 18 Both Jew and Gentile “have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”


Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

“Saints” is not referring to OT saints. Gentile and Jewish believers belong to a household, the household of God, as relatives, as members of the family of God. They are His dear children (1 Jn. 2.12). Even David, the man after God’s own heart, is called, “my servant David” in 2 S. 7.8; and God’s term for Moses was also “my servant” in Nu. 12.7.

Citizenship is not in Israel and the earthly Jerusalem, but in heaven. Philippians 3:20 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The apostles laid the foundation. Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

The prophets in verse 20 are New Testament prophets, as will be confirmed when we get to the third chapter.

Christ is the chief corner stone, the rock on which the church is built. 1 Co. 3:11: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” See also 1 Pe. 2.6-8.

vv21-22 The church, now made up of local assemblies under Christ, is under construction today and it will be finished. It is growing into an holy temple in the Lord. The church is growing, it is made up of living, born again, stones who are growing into a living temple.  The Holy Spirit silently regenerates dead sinners. At the moment of salvation, a sinner becomes a member of the family of God. God’s plan for him is that he should now become a part of a local church under Christ. All believers will one day be in the universal church established at the marriage of the Lamb(Heb. 12.22-24; Re. 19.7-10). God indwells believers, not buildings. God has never dwelt in any building made with hands, and it is a pagan philosophy which places God in a human-made structure.

A church is to reveal the presence and the glory of God on earth. When believers assemble together in a church, the impression should be made upon the world, even in this age, that God is in His holy temple.

Chapter 3
The Church Is a Mystery

Covenant theology ignores the clear-cut statement of Paul that the church is not a revelation of the OT. They treat the church as a continuation of Israel. It appropriates all the promises that God made to Israel and applies them to the church. One of their Bibles heads some of the chapters written by the prophets in the OT “Blessings for the Church.” Other chapters are headed: “Curses for Israel.” They give the blessings in the OT to the church and the curses to Israel.

Hyperdispensationalists places undue emphasis on Paul’s statements, “he made known to me the mystery,” and “my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,” and they treat the mystery as the peculiar revelation to Paul. As a result, there has been the pernicious practice of shifting the beginning of the church to some day after Pentecost, with several dates having been suggested. This claim to superior knowledge has ministered to spiritual pride. When the church was revealed, the revelation was not confined to the Apostle Paul.


vv1, 2 Paul became a prisoner because he took the gospel to the Gentiles. Now new privileges are accorded the Gentiles, which he enumerated in the preceding chapter. Paul now speaks of the mystery, then he prays for them. Both Paul and Peter had the same message; Peter to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles. Compare Ac. 4.12 (Peter to the Jews) and Ac. 16.31 (Paul to the Gentiles).

They is now a brand new thing taking place, a different economy or dispensation (v 2). Paul as a Pharisee never went out to preach to the Gentiles. He is now under a new economy. He is missionary to the Gentiles. God’s method of salvation had not changed. No man was saved by keeping the law, but by a bloody sacrifice that pointed to Christ.

vv3, 4 The hyperdispensationalists hold that because Paul said the mystsery had been made known to him, he was the only one who knew it. However, in verse 5 Paul makes it clear that the Spirit made it known to all the apostles and prophets. The “revelation” began with Paul’s conversion when Christ informed him that when he was persecuting the church he was persecuting Christ.

vv5, 6 The mystery was not revealed to Paul alone. No one in the OT had a glimmer of light relative to the church. It is now revealed to God’s holy apostles. Holy means set aside for this office by God. The “prophets” are definitely NT prophets. The Holy Spirit is the teacher.The Father promised his disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (Jn. 15:16).

The OT clearly taught that the Gentiles would be saved. See Is. 11.10, 42.6, 60.3; Zech. 2.11; Mal. 1.11. So that the Gentiles should be saved is not a mystery.

So what is the mystery? They mystery was that the Gentiles and Israel were placed on the same basis. By faith in Christ they were both brought into the family of Christ, to form His local New Testament churches.

Threefold division of the human race: (1) From Adam to Abraham all people were Gentiles (2000 years plus). (2) From Abraham to Christ, all people were either Jews or Gentiles (2000 years). (3) The threefold division is Jews and Gentiles in Christ from the day of Pentecost to the rapture. (2000 years plus). Paul referred to this threefold division when he said, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Co. 10.32).

The church is not in the OT, although there are types of the church in the OT. The church was all Jewish when it began, but there was a period of transition when Gentiles were brought into it.

v7 Paul takes no position of superiority. He takes only the title of “minister” which means a worker or helper or deacon (in the original).

It was the gift of God’s grace which had transformed him from Saul, the proud Pharisee who persecuted the church, to Paul, the apostle who was now a prisoner for Jesus Christ. All that had been accomplished was through the working of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul had both the gift and the power of an apostle.

vv8, 9 There are a lot of things God has not told us yet. We don’t know very much right now. We will never understand and apply, a fraction of what God has revealed to us in His Word, even though He has told us very little. Man can discover some things, but there are some things man can never find out except by revelation. The church was a mystery in that sense.

In v 8 Paul calls himself “less that the least of all saints.” Paul always took the place of humility as an apostle. “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Co. 15.9). “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Ti. 1.12-13). How unlike many “pastors” was Paul the apostle.

Paul was chosen to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. “And to make all men see”—the mystery is not to be argued or debated but is to be preached. And Paul was to make all men see the economy (the dispensation) of the mystery.

vv10, 11 Another purpose of the mystery is revealed here. God’s created intelligencies are learning something of the wisdom of God through the church. They not only see the love of God displayed and lavished upon us, but the wisdom of God is revealed to His angels. All according to God’s eternal purpose.

v12 We, the Gentiles, and Paul, the persecutor, have freedom of speech before God and access or introduction to Him. This is all made possible in Christ aside from man’s earthly laws.

v13 “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” Because of the great goals of the mystery which Paul has enumerated, he is willing to suffer imprisonment as the apostle to the Gentiles. He did not want the Ephesians to be discouraged because of it because Paul was working for his good and their glory.  See Col. 1.24.


V14 This is the Paul’s 2nd great prayer in this epistle. He got down on his knees. He prayed to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This prayer, like all other prayers in the Scriptures, is very brief. Moses’ prayer for Israel was 3 verses long. Elija, on top of Mt. Carmel – one verse. Nehemiah’s – 7 verses. The prayer of our Lord in Jn. 17 takes only 3 minutes to read. Briefest prayer , Simon Peter, 3 words (Mt. 4.30). Prayer should be brief and to the point.

v15 God has a wonderful family.

vv13-19 “according to the riches of his glory.” Paul makes 4 petitions on behalf of the Ephesians: (1) That they might “be strengthened with might [power] by his Spirit in the inner man.” (2) That “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (3) That the believers may know the dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. The breadth. The length. The depth. the height. (4) That believers “might be filled up to the fullness of God.”

vv20-21 This is both a doxology and a benediction which concludes the prayer. This is a mighty outburst of spiritual praise.

II. PRACTICAL, the Earthly Conduct of A Church (Vocation), Chapters 4-6

Chapter 4
Church is a new man; therefore the church must walk as a new man

Now we come to the believer’s manner of life, his earthly walk. This is an earthly walk, but not a worldly walk. In chapters 1-3, we considered the calling, construction, and constitution of the church. In this section, we consider the conduct, confession, and conflict of a church. The church is a new man; in the future the church will be a bride; and the church is also a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

In Chapters 1-3 we were on the mountain peak. In this last division we descent to the plane of living where we confront a demon-possessed world and a skeptical mob.  It is down where the rubber meets the road. Are we able to translate the truths of the mountain top into shoe leather? Are we able to walk throught the world in a way that pleases the Lord?

Possession is the great word in the book of Joshua. Position was a key word in the first half of Ephesians—God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. God has given them to us, but are we walking down here in possession of them? The unsearchable riches in Christ must be searched out with the spiritual Geiger counter, which is the Word of God.

Up to now there have been glorious declarations, but now there will be commands. The church is to make itself visible down here in a local assembly. This section is the practical side of Ephesians.

If you are not a child of God, God is not asking you to do the commands in this epistle. What follows is for those who have been redeemed and have heard the Word of truth. Dead men cannot walk no matter how insistently they are urged to walk. The dead man must first be made alive. The top sergeant doesn’t go out to the cemetery and yell, “Attention! Forward march!” Religions are saying to a dying world, “Do something and you will be somebody.” God says the opposite: “Be somebody and then you can do something.”


v1 “Therefore.” A connective, a transition word. Paul is a “prisoner of the Lord,” because of his position in Christ.

He beseeches [begs] the Ephesians to “walk worthy” of our calling. Phill. 1.27, 1 Co. 1.10, 1 Thes. 2.10. Paul begs us to walk worthy of the gospel. It’s not so much as how you walk, it’s is where you walk. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Walking in the light is in the light of the Word of God.

vv2, 3 “Lowliness” means a mind brought low; lowliness means the opposite of pride. Lowliness is the flagship of all Christian virtues. Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Many pastors, seeing themselves as clergy, the only spiritual ones in a church, become very proud and controlling over the so-called “laity.”

Meekness means mildness, but it does not mean weakness. 2 men in Scripture who are noted for being meek. In the OT it was Moses and in the NT it was the Lord Jesus. Moses came down from the mountain and broke the tablets. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. The Bible calls meekness a willingness to stand and to the will of God regardless of the cost. Meekness is bowing yourself to the will of God.

“Longsuffering” means  a long temper. This is a fruit of the Spirit (Ga. 5.22).

“Forebearing one another in love” means to hold one’s self back in the spirit of love. See Col. 3.13. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”.

vv4-6 Lists 7 unities: one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (ritual baptism is by water and spiritual baptism is baptism by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit – baptism with the Holy Ghost by Jesus Christ), one God and Father of all (God’s fatherhood of all believer’s).


v7 God has given every one of us grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. God gives gifts to believers as we see in Ro. 12, and 1 Co. 12, 13, and 14. The gift of a believer is for the purpose of building up the body of believers, for the profit of the whole body of believers. The gift is given a believer to benefit and bless the church. When each believer functions in his peculiar gift, it produces a harmony, and does each member of the human body. However, when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.

v8 Quotes Ps. 68.18, but the Holy Spirit changes the words, for a purpose. In the OT, the Lord Jesus had received gifts from  men, then He came to earth. Now He has been here and gone back to heaven. He is distributing the gifts among men. “When He ascended up on high” refers to His ascension. He led captivity captive,–He took the redeemed of the OT who were in Paradise with Him to heaven, to the very presence of God. Now, when a believer dies, he absent from the body and present with the Lord (cf. 2 Co. 5.8; Phill. 1.23). When Christ ascended He gave gifts to men—this means He conferred gifts upon living believers in the church so that they might witness to the world.  On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit baptized believers into the body of Christ and then endowed them with certain gifts, enabling them to function as members of the local body.

vv9-10 He brought the OT saints out of Paradise to the throne of God. (There are other interpretations).

vv11-13 This does not refer to the gifts He has given men. This says Christ takes certain men who have been given certain gifts, and He gives them to the church. For what purpose: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ.” These gifted men are given to the church so that it might be brought to full maturity.

The purpose of a church is to complete itself so that it might grow up. The pastor’s job is to build up the members of the church for the work of the ministry.

v14 “That we henceforth be no more children.” We are to have inhibitions. We are not to run around like a bunch of crying babies. We are not to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lay in wait to deceive.”

vv15-16 The believer is to love truth, live it, and speak it. Christ is the head. The body of believers is compared to a physical body and is called the body of Christ. The body receives orders from the Head, but also spiritual nutriment. This produces a harmony where each member of the body is functioning in his place as he receives spiritual supplies from the head. The spiritual body has an inward dynamic, love, whereby it renews itself.


vv 17-19 New morality is nothing more than old sin. There is liberty in Christ but it is not a license to sin. Here we find some prohibitions for the child of God. now Paul gives a picture of the lives of Gentiles and the lives of the Ephesians before their conversion.

Paul gives 4 aspects of the walk of the Gentiles which illustrate the absolute futility and insane purpose of the life of the lost man.

  • “In the vanity of their mind” means the empty illusion of the life that thinks there is satisfaction in sin.
  • “”having the understanding darkened” means that the lost man has lost his perception darkened.
  • Being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them” is a picture of all mankind without Christ.
  • Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness [which is uncleanness], to work all uncleanness with greediness [or covetousness]. Continuance in this brings them down to the level where they have no feeling of wrongdoing. They covet the absolute depths of immorality. They become abandoned to sin. This is what it means in Ro. that God gave them up to all uncleanness through their own lusts. You can reach the place where you are an abandoned sinner.

vv20-21 If anyone is not listening to Jesus, Jesus must not be his savior. If you do not hear the voice of the shepherd, you are one of his sheep.

vv22-24 The putting off the old and putting on the new cannot be done by self-effort, nor by striving to imitate Christ’s conduct. It has been done for the believing sinner by the death of Christ.

We have a new nature. This is the result of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

“Which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is the imputed righteousness of Christ. Our walk should be commensurate with our position.

vv25-27 Paul returns to the prohibitions which he began in verse 17. These injunctions continue through the remainder of the epistle. Speaking the truth would resolve most of the problems in the average church. In a church, there ought to be honesty and truth among the members.

“Be angry and sin not.”

vv30: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”

vv31-32 are sins of an emotional nature

Chapter 5
The church will be a bride

The emphasis on this chapter is the future. The universal church is not a bride today. A church is a new man walking in the world, and is engaged TO Christ. The institution of the church today is made up of local, autonomous New Testament assemblies. The church will be a bride after the rapture (Re. 21.2, 9).

On this earth, we are to walk as a future bride. We are engaged now. 2 Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”


vv1, 2 “Therefore” connects this section with the preceding where the walk of the believer is under consideration and continues the injunctions for Christian conduct. These injunctions have a definite bearing upon the church which will be presented to Christ without spot or blemish.

Believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can grieve the Holy Spirit. If we engage in the sins mentioned in Chapter 4, verse 31, it does not mean we are not children of God, it means that the world will not believe that we are the children of God.

The believer cannot walk with a grieved Holy Spirit, for only the Spirit can bring forth this fruit. Love is the first on the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Ga. 5.22.

vv3, 4 The sins described here are those which are prevalent among unbelievers. They are the common sins in the world.  All of them have to do with low forms of immorality. Paul is saying that the child of God cannot habitually engage in these. Even a slight indulgence brings about a revulsion and agony of soul. If you can get into sin and not be troubled or bothered by it, you are not a child of God. Confessing sin restores fellowship. The great need of all believers is to go to God and tell Him what is really in our hearts.

If you are living in fornication today, you cannot be a child of God. A child of God cannot confess a sin and then persist in living in that sin.

v5 A person who practices these sins is not a child of God.

vv6, 7 God’s wrath is poured out on those who practice the sins in vv3-5. God’s wrath is never poured out on His children. He chastises His children. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

vv8-10 Paul reminds the believers of their former state. They were not just in darkness. They were darkness. “Now are ye light in the Lord,” means we are to reflect Him who is the light of the world. Paul marks out those characteristics which always accompany light” “In all goodness;” “righteousness,” meaning moral rectitude; and “truth,” referring primarily to sincerity and genuineness. Here we have a description of walking in the light as He is in the light.

vv11-13 We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Rather we are to “reprove” or convict them. Light reveals what darkness conceals. A believer cannot tell an unbeliever what to do and what not to do. The preachers business is to turn on the light of the Word of God. The lost person cannot change. He needs to be born again in order to change. Darkness is not dissipated by lecturing nor by preaching. Darkness is dissipated by light.

v14 How can a person awake out of spiritual death? Only God can awaken us. Dr. McGee thinks the meaning here is that believers who have fallen into a spiritual stupor are to wake up.

vv15-17 A believer is to walk wisely. His walk is to reveal the urgency of the hour and the importance of living for God. The entire objective in his walk is to stay in the will of God. He walks in the will of God as a train runs on the track. His walk in this world demonstrates that he belongs to Christ. There is a saying that you never ask a Texan if he is a Texan. If he is a Texan, he’ll let you know it without your asking. If he is not a Texan, you wouldn’t want to embarrass him. Christians need to walk in such a way that you know he is a child of God.


vv18-19 Be not drunk with wine, but filled with the spirit…. Drinking will stimulate temporarily: it will energize the flesh, but then it will let you down and lead you in the direction of profligacy (reckless extravagance or wastefulness in the use of resources) and dissoluteness (indifferent to moral restraints; given to immoral or improper conduct; licentious; dissipated), and finally eventuate in desperation and despair and delirium tremens (An acute, sometimes fatal episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal or abstinence from alcohol following habitual excessive drinking or an episode of heavy alcohol consumption. It is characterized by trembling, sweating, acute anxiety, confusion, and hallucinations.).

Rather than drinking, “be filled with the Spirit.” A man who is drinking is possessed by the wine. You can tell that a man is drunk. In contrast, it is the Holy Spirit who should be the one to possess the believer. It is a divine intoxication that is to fill that need. This is not an excessive emotionalism but that which furnishes the dynamic for living and for accomplishing something for God. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it means we are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

A believer is never told to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but we are told we are baptized the moment we trust Christ – that Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit regenerates and indwells us. The Holy Spirit seals us.

However, the believer needs that filling of the Spirit to serve Christ. We drive into a service station and say, “Fill it up.” Believers should start the day with the Lord and say, “Lord, I want to walk today in the Spirit. I cannot do it myself. I need Your power. I need your help.” Being filled yesterday or last week, but that will not suffice for today. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will do something for God; you will be walking in the Spirit. But you need a daily filling.

That is why some people can be mightily used of God one day and feel so empty the next.

One of the evidences of being filled with the Holy Spirit is “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

Believers need an attitude adjustment, but they don’t need the spirits that come from a bottle; they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they might radiate the joy of the Lord. The Apostle John says that one reason he wrote his epistle was so that “your joy may be full.” This fullness of joy is to be through our fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1.3, 4). The joy of the Lord comes with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

v20 Another evidence of being filled with the Spirit is an attitude of thankfulness. In the book of Psalms we note a great amount of thanksgiving and praise to God, on a high level. “Praise the Lord, and thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.”

The command to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the only command given to the believer relative to the Holy Spirit. Every believer is regenerated by the Holy Spirit; John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” The believer is indwelt by the Spirit; Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit; Ephesians 1:13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Christ baptizes the believer with the Holy Ghost; John 1:33: “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

v21 Believers are to submit to one another in the fear of God. We are to walk with one another in lowliness of mind. This means that you do not try to run the church. All church members are to submit ourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

vv22-24 A very personal loving relationship is the ground for submission. Paul is speaking to believers about Christian marriage. The husband is the aggressor. He should be the breadwinner. The wife is to respond to him as the believer is to respond to Christ—in a love relationship. Woman is the responder. The man is to say, “I love you.” He proposes. She says, “Yes” or “No.”

In this section, we find that there are 4 areas of order: Wives are to be subject to the husband, husbands to Christ, children to parents, servants to masters. If there is not love in it, submission isn’t worth the snap of a finger. Cr. McGee says he has done a lot of marriage counseling and 75% of the fault is on the side of the man.


v25 God never asked a woman to submit to any man who does not love her and love her like his. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” This is past.

v26 In the present He is sanctifying the church with the water of the Word of God.

v27 In the future, He will present it to Himself a glorious church, without a spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish.

vv28-32 Paul draws 2 themes and goes back and forth, husband and wife, Christ and church. Husbands are to love the wife because she is part of his body. The church is the body of Christ and Christ is Head of the body. It is unnatural for a man to hate his own flesh. Christ, knowing the weakness of the church, nourishes and cherishes her. Husbands are to do the same. Verse 31 is a quotation from Genesis 2.24. That first couple is a figure of the future union of Christ and the church as bridegroom and bride. She was taken from his side, not molded from the ground as animals. Adam was incomplete until they were together. She was an helpmeet for Adam. She compensated for what he lacked. She was made for him and they became one. She was taken out of man.

v33 Love your wife as yourself.

Chapter 6
The church is a good soldier of Jesus Christ

A humorous person said this as is to be expected. After a couple gets married, the war begins.

The church is going to be the bride of Christ. Today, is the period of the engagement and the exhibition of the church before the world. The church is to be a good soldier before the world. Our enemy is not the worship at the temple of Diana. Our enemy is infinitely worse. We are seeing immorality and heathenism not only in the name of religion but actually in the name of Christianity.

In this chapter we shall see:

  • The soldier’s relationships
  • The soldier’s enemy
  • The soldier’s protection
  • The soldier’s example—Paul was a good soldier of Jesus Christ
  • The soldier’s benediction

The chapter opens with instructions to children, parents, servants, and masters. A soldier’s training does not start in boot camp; it begins when he is a child in the home. In WWII they had a saying in the navy that in the early days of our nation we had wooden ships and iron men, but now we have iron ships and paper-doll men. the navy finds that they can easily put a uniform on the man. It is putting a man into the uniform that is causing such problems.

The preparation of a soldier must begin in the home when he is a child—not in the church nor in the Sunday school, but in the home. Every child who doesn’t get that first lesson is handicapped. Proper training means discipline.

v1 According to the will of God, it is right and just for children to obey their parents in the Lord.  The first lesson a soldier must learn is obedience to those in authority. He must follow orders. This basic training is learned in the home. After a soldier has learned to obey, he is in a position to be promoted where he commands others. To know how to give orders depends largely on how the soldier learned to obey. This basic training is found in the home with the parent-child relationship, and then with the master-servant relationship.

2 factors must be taken into account:

  1. It is assumed that Paul is talking about a Christian home. “In the Lord.” 1 Co. 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”
  2. Here it says “obey,” not “submit” as in Ep. 5.22. Disobedience is the last and lowest form of lawlessness to occur on this earth. 2 Ti. 3:1-2: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” Disobedience to parents is one of the characteristics of the last days.

The struggle of the young boy’s life when he begins to rebel against being a mama’s boy, tied to his mama’s apron strings. God has given him a nature that rebels against being a mama’s boy. God wants him to stand on his own two feet. This kind of rebellion, this struggle for independence, is different from disobedience.

vv2, 3 A youngster in the home is to honor his father and mother, and continue to honor them throughout his life. This carries a promise of long life (Ex. 20.12). All ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament except the commandment to keep the Sabbath. The other commandments promised something if they were not kept, but they did not promise anything if they were kept. This commandment is the first commandment with promise.

Samson and Absalom did not keep this commandment and died young.

v4 “Nurture” means discipline and “admonition” means instruction. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. No such instruction was given to parents under the law. Under grace there is always mutual responsibilities and interactive duties. The parent is not to vent a bad disposition on a child or punish him in a fit of rage. It is the parent’s duty to teach the child the truths of Scripture and then to live them before the child. Don’t provoke your children to wrath. Father’s include the mother, but the emphasis is on the father because the disciplining and training of the child is actually his responsibility, but it includes the mother.

The board of education should be applied to the seat of learning when needed. Pr. 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Pr. 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Pr. 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Pr. 23:13-14: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” Pr. 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

These little ones who simply will not obey need to be spanked, but never when the parent is angry.

It is important that a pastor’s wife be what God calls her to be, a wife, a mom at home. She is a wife and is to take care of her husband, the home and the children. She is not to be an assistant pastor, an officer in the missionary society or hold any office in any women’s organization, etc. She is not to tend to everyone else’s business or try to raise everyone else’s children.

The discipline is to be “of the Lord.”

vv5-8 Servants are to be obedient to masters here on earth. They are not to serve with one eye on the clock. They are not to serve as “menpleasers,” i.e., to butter up the boss. Service is to be done as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the soul.

There is a responsibility on both the laborer and the capitalist (who are believers). The employer-employee relationship. This section begins with “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

It is estimated that half of the 120 million people living in the Roman Empire were slaves. Christianity never attacked the evil of slavery. Rather, it reached down to the slave in his degradation and lifted him up, assuring him of his liberty in Christ. Multitudes of slaves came to Christ, as we learn in Romans 16.

No matter the cause of the war, the South had to lose the Civil War because slavery was wrong. It does not mean that the North was right in the method used, but it does mean that the principle of slavery was wrong. “Servants be obedient to them that are your masters.”

Whether or not one is a genuine believer is revealed by his loyalty to his employer, to the family, to his home to his church, and to his pastor and other brothers in the church. “In singleness of your heart” (no two facedness or duplicity, licking someone’s boots when he is around and stabbing him in the back when he is away), “as unto “Christ” (this shows he is now a slave to Christ and Christ has made him free. He looks above his earthly master to his heavenly master.)

“With good will doing service.” Christian attitude.

John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Only Christ offers freedom.

We should be slaves to Christ and to no one or nothing else. Saul of Tarsus was a slave to ideology. He was a Pharisee. When he came to Christ, he was made free. However, immediately he yielded to a new master and he said, “What wilt thou have me to do.” He had become a bondslave to Jesus Christ. No matter one’s earthly work, if he is a child of God, he can say, “I serve the Lord Jesus.”

Someone asked William Carey, a shoemaker who applied to go as a foreign missionary, “What is your business?” meaning to humiliate him. Carey answered, “ My business is serving the Lord, and I make shoes to pay expenses.”

v9 This is to masters and is applicable to employers. An employer is just another man before Christ. He is no respecter of persons. What He said to employees (slaves) also applies to employers who also have a Master who is Christ. This is a Christian relationship of capital and labor. The responsibilities are mutual. Masters are not to take advantage of their position as master. They are not to threaten or abuse their power. The book of Philemon gives a practical demonstration of this. Christianity works.


Now we come to the theme of this chapter, “the church is a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” There is a battle to be fought, a battle along spiritual lines.

Although we are seated in “heavenly places,” we are walking on this earth and our theology has to walk in shoe leather. There are too many who are Bible believers in their head (supposedly), but earthly and not spiritual in their feet.

Most likely, the devil is not concentrating in the night clubs or skid row or the underworld or in the Mafia. He is concentrating on believers and churches. He is working on a spiritual front and most “Christians” seem to be totally unaware of that. Christians need to close their mouths from gossiping and criticizing. Churches need to reorganize under Christ, in all ways The spiritual battle is being fought wherever a man is giving out the Word of God ,where a church is standing for the Word of God.

Sometimes the most dangerous place you can be is in church. Where was the most dangerous place in Jerusalem the night Jesus was arrested? Was it with the Pharisees? Was it with the cutthroats of the underworld? No. the most dangerous place was in the upper room with Jesus. That is where the devil was that night. I believe that both Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot would testify to the fact that that was the most dangerous place to have been that night in Jerusalem. We need to recognize where the battle is being fought.

What Joshua is to the OT, Ephesians is to the NT. The Jordan River is not a picture of our death, and the promised land is not a picture of heaven. The Jordan River speaks of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and you and I cross over—through the resurrection of Christ—out of the wilderness of this world into Canaan. Canaan does not represent heaven—it could not because there were enemies in Canaan and battles to be fought. We are in the place of soldier service. Our enemy is identified, and the battle is before us.

Joshua confronted three enemies when he entered the promised land. First, Jerico which represents the world. What Jerico was to Joshua, the world is to the Christian today. Joshua was not march around Jerico, not fight it. It is a mistake to fight the world; we cannot overcome the world. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5.4-5)? The central truth here is that spiritual victories are won by means and upon principles utterly foolish and inadequate in the view of human  wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:17-31: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

The second enemy Joshua confronted was the little town of Ai. Ai represents the flesh. Joshua thought it would be easy to overcome Ai, so he sent up a small detachment, and they were easily whipped. When they got back, Joshua got down on his face and began to whimper and cry before God. God told Josuha, “Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?  Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (Joshua 5.10-11). And that sin had to be confessed and put away before God would give Israel the victory. This is what believers must do to overcome the flesh.

Many Christians are overcome by the flesh. By temper, gossiping, backbiting, and other sins of the flesh. Ai represents the flesh.

Thirdly, Joshua had to contend with the Gibeonites. They were clever and sly rascals. They lived just over the hill, but they tool old, moldy bread and wore worn-out shoes and made everything look as if they had come on a long journey. They came into the camp where Joshua was and said, “Brother, we have heard about you. We’ve heard about how God has given you victories in this land, and we want to make a treaty with y0ou. We want to be your friends.” That is the way the devil and his demons approach us. He is the deceiver, and he makes his ministers seem like angels of light.

Do you think the devil is going to knock on your door and say, “Look I’m the devil; I’m here to take you in; I’m here to fool you?” No. He will use every possible way to deceive you. He may have someone offer you literature at your door that will “explain” the Bible. Or, he may approach you this way if you are in a church that is going liberal: “Remember, grandpa had a pew in the church and that window over there is named for grandpa. You can’t afford to leave this church because you have so much invested here.” If you discover that God is grieved by church corporate 501(c)(3) status, the devil will say, “But look at the many good works being done by this church. Just continue to do good here.” The Word of God says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Co. 6.17). But the devil says, “We really need you here, so why don’t you just stick around?” He is subtle.

The Gibeonites represent the devil. They fooled Joshua, and he made a treaty with them. They were the ones who got him in trouble. Joshua made an alliance with the Gibeonites. If we line up with Satan, we will find ourselves defeated. What can we do? We cannot overcome him ourselves. You and I are no match for the devil. We are not even told to fight the devil. We are told that god will for us.

v10 “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

v11 You cannot overcome the devil in your own strength and your own power.

v12 Our enemy is not flesh and blood, but spiritual and the warfare is spiritual. The believer is to reckon the flesh dead and to yield ot God. The way to victory over the flesh is outlined in Ro. 6. Fighting in the old nature will lead to defeat. Only God’s armor will withstand the strategy and onslaught of Satan. We are not fighting other men. The way to victory is to put on the whole armour of God and “to stand.” (Ep. 6.11, 13, 14). A demonic world around us is manifesting itself in this hour, this was true even 40 years ago, but it is much more apparent today. It is gaining momentum. Demonism is lifted up openly by many. There is a church of Satan. People are being snared and led into all kinds of demonism like never before in America. Evil forces are working against God’s churches and believers. Satan has taken over many “Churches.”

See Daniel 10. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood the angel who was trying to get to Daniel for 21 days. He had to go back and get reinforcements.

Principalities are the demons who have the oversight of nations. Powers are the provates who are the demons who want to possess human beings. The rulers of the darkness of this world are those demons who have charge of Satan’s worldly business. Spiritual wickedness in high places are the demons in the heavenlies who have charge of religion.

Satan has a well-organized group and his organization is manipulating in this world right now. Satan is the cause of the great problems that are in the world today.

Satan heads up his demonic forces.

Now we need to recognize where the battle is. The church has largely lost sight of this spiritual battle. Questions like these should be in the church:

  • Are the members being built up in Christ?
  • Is the Word of God being taught?
  • Is there a spirit of love and cooperation among the members?
  • Is gossip reduced to a minimum?
  • There must not be an exercise in legalism, but an exercise in right relationships among those who are the brethren in Christ.
  • Where there is a spirit of bitterness and of hatred, the Spirit of God cannot work.


v13 Now Paul begins to identify the arsenal which is available for defense. No where is the believer told to attack and advance. The key to this entire section is to stand. The Bible speaks of believers as Pilgrims. As pilgrims, we are to walk through the world. As witnesses: we are to go to the ends of the earth. As athletes: we are to run. Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” However, when the Bible speaks of us as fighters, it says we are to stand.

The Battle is carried on everywhere the Word of God is preached and the gospel is given out. That’s the battle line today. The devil has partially taken over some churches. He has completely taken over others.

The devil will make the attack. Our command is “Having done all, to stand.” “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” Just to be able to stand in an evil day is victory for the believer.

Pastors are in need of church bodies who will stand with them. Some church bodies are in need of pastors who will lead and stand, as an example.

vv14, 15 “Stand therefore.” The fourth time he gives this exhortation to the believer. Paul here gives the command to stand (not “I beseech you”). We are also to have on certain armor to protect ourselves.

“Having your loins girt about with truth.” In those ancient days, the girdle about the loins held in place every other part of the uniform of the soldier. It was essential. If the girdle was lost, you lost everything. Truth holds everything together.

We need those who stand on and give out the Word of God just as it is written. Many people give out testimonies and know nothing about the Word of God. They do not know the Word of God. Many testimonies are given out by people who are about to lose all their spiritual garments.

Every piece of this armor speaks of Christ. He is the one who is the truth. We are in Christ in “heavenly places,” here in our earthly walk.

Any testimony that does not glorify Jesus Christ should not be given. Not, “I was a great athlete” or “a great performer” or “I am turning over my wonderful talent to Jesus.” These all imply “He is lucky to have me in His crowd!” No, you are lucky to have Him. He did not get very much when He got me or you. We are not great. We need our loins girt about with truth, with Jesus Christ, so that we can give a testimony that glorifies Christ, the truth, who alone can meet error.

“Having on the breastplate of righteousness.”Christ is the righteousness of he believer. Probably, this included practical righteousness. The filthy rags of self-righteousness are useless an a breastplate. We need a heart and a conscience that is right with God. Only the righteousness of Christ allows a man to stand before God and before man, but the heart that is to be protected should be a heart that is not condemning the believer. We will never win with sin in the life.

“Your feed shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Shoes are necessary for standing. They speak of foundation. We need a good, solid foundation, and preparation is foundational. Are your feet anchored in Christ? 1 Corinthians 3:11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

vv16-18 We are to stand in a spiritual armor, and that armor is Christ. It is the living Christ which is put around His own. Job 1:10 “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.”

The shield (of faith) covered all of the armor. It was a large shield the size of a door. Christ, the door, protects the believer from without. This is the picture in Jn. 10. John 10:9 “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” That is salvation. What about security? Faith places us securely in His hands: John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” “Faith” enables us to lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ and also to stand behind that shield which will quench all the fiery darts of he wicked one.

The wicked on is shooting the “fiery darts fast and furious. When a fiery dart comes my way, and I don’t have an answer, I am to put up the shield of faith.

The “helmet of salvation” protects the head, the  mind. God appeals to the heart, but He also appeals to the intellect. Throughout the Scriptures, God uses reason with man. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Acts 24:25 “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is a leap into the light. Christ saves sinners. Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” All parts of the armor have been for defense. Everything is for the front of the individual. There is no protection for his back; nothing is provided for retreat. A retreating Christian is open season for the enemy; the enemy can get through to him.

Our second weapon of offense is prayer—“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Praying in the Spirit is not turning in a grocery list to God. It means the believer recognizes our enemy and that we lay hold of God for that which is spiritual and that might be filled with all the fullness of God. Prayer is general, and supplication is specific. all effective prayer must be in the Spirit.


vv19-20 Paul asks for prayer on behalf of himself. As he comes to the conclusion of the Epistle, he moves to the personal. He was a prisoner in Rome and suffered from a thorn in the flesh. Yet he does not ask for prayer that these physical handicaps be removed, but that he might proclaim courageously the mystery of the gospel. The gospel was a mystery in the OT, and the gospel is that Christ died for all sins, was buried, rose again on the third day.

He is an ambassador in bonds and therefore speaks boldly. We need boldness to declare the Word of God.

vv21-22 Tychicus not only carried the epistle to the Ephesians, but he also gave a personal account of the conditions of and the prospects for the apostle Paul. Tychicus was the pastor of the Ephesian church and is an example of the many faithful servants of Christ in the early church. “That he might comfort your hearts.” The brotherly love exhibited in the early church is the undertone of all Paul’s epistles. Paul had a real concern for the brethren.


Paul closes with a twofold benediction. Most of the great words of the gospel are contained in it: peace, love, faith, grace. Hope is absent, for the believer is in heavenly places where all is realized.

“Peace,” was the form of greeting of the Jewish world. A sinner must know the grace of God before he can experience the peace of God. This is the peace of God which passes all understanding.

Love,” in verse 23 means love for the other believers. This is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In verse 24, the “love” is of the believer for the Lord Jesus Christ, and this love is in sincerity.

“Faith” means faith in Christ which produces active love. These flow from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Grace” is the key word of the epistle. It opened the epistle (1.2) and it is the subject of the epistle (2.7, 8). It now concludes the epistle. It is a fitting word because it is God’s grace which saved us and which sustains us today.


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OUTLINE (of the verse by verse study)
NOTES (verse by verse study)

Philemon_17NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Philemon. This study is taken from that book with modifications. The study is also available online in audio at: Philemon.

This is one of the most remarkable epistles in the Scripture. It is only one chapter; so you may have trouble finding it. If you can find Titus, just keep going; if you find Hebrews, you have gone too far.

DATE A.D. 61 or 62

The epistles or letters in the New Testament were a new form of revelation. Before them, God had used law, history, poetry, prophecy, and the gospel records. When God used the epistles, He adopted a more personal and direct method. There are different kinds of epistles. Some are directed to churches; some to individuals and are rather intimate.

Reading this epistle is like looking over the shoulder of Philemon and reading his personal mail. Paul wrote this letter to him personally. That does not detract from the inspiration and value of this epistle. The Holy Spirit has included it in the Scriptures for a very definite reason.


Philemon lived in Colossae, way up in the Phrygian country in the Anatolian section of what is Turkey today. It was a great city in Paul’s day. There is no record that Paul ever visited Colossae, but Dr. McGee suspects that Paul did visit that city.

The story of this epistle was enacted on the black background of slavery. There were approximately sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire where the total population did not exceed one hundred million. A slave was a chattel. He was treated worse than an enemy. He was subject to the whim of his master.

In Colossae was a very rich man, Philemon, who had been saved. He apparently had come down to Ephesus, as Paul was there speaking in the school of Tyrannus every day, and people were coming in from all over the area to hear him. Millions lived in Asia Minor, and Philemon was just one of the men who came to know the Lord Jesus.

Philemon owned slaves, one of whom was Onesimus. One day, Onesimus made a run for it. He moved into a great metropolis, Rome. In that great population, he could have been buried and never recognized.

One day, Onesimus found out that there was a slavery in freedom and a freedom in slavery. When he was a slave, he did not worry about where he was going to sleep or what he was going to eat. His master took care of that. In Rome now, he has a real problem. Maybe he is homesick and hungry. Somehow, he came into contact with Paul, who was a prisoner in chains. Onesimus had run away from chains, and he thought he was free, but when he listened to that man, Paul, he thought, “That man is free, and I am still a slave—a slave to appetite, a slave to economy. I’m still a slave, but that man, although he is chained, is free.”

Paul led him to Christ—presented the gospel to him, and told him how Jesus had died for him and how He had been buried but rose again on the third day. He asked Onesimus to put his trust in Christ, and he did.

Philemon_18Onesimus did what any man does who has been converted; he thought back on his past life and the things which were wrong that he wanted to make right. He confessed to Paul that he was a runaway slave, that he was from Colossae, and that his master was Philemon. He wanted to know if he should go back to him master and Paul told him yes. Paul sent a letter with Onesimus, the letter which we have before us.

In the human heart, there has always been a great desire to be free. But right now, there are millions of Americans who are slaves to alcohol, or to drugs, or to the economy, to racism, to hatred planted in them by Satan’s own liberal troopers, or to the almighty dollar. We live in a day when people pride themselves on being free, but the Lord Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.” You will not get arguments for or against slavery in this epistle. What you do learn is that freedom that is above all the slavery of this world. It is the freedom that every one of us wants to have.


The primary purpose of this epistle is to reveal Christ’s love for us in what He did for us in pleading our case before God. This is one of the finest illustrations of substitution. “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account” (verse 18). We can hear Christ agreeing to take our place and to have all our sin imputed to Him. He took our place in death, but He gives us His place in life. “If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself” (verse 18). We have the standing of Christ before God, or we have no standing at all. Onesimus, the unprofitable runaway slave, was to be received as Paul the great apostle would have been received in the home of Philemon.

The practical purpose is to teach brotherly love. Paul spoke of the new relationship between master and servant in the other prison epistles. Here he demonstrates how it should work. These men, belonging to two different classes in the Roman Empire, hating each other and hurting each other, are now brothers in Christ, and they are to act like it. This is the only solution to the problems and hatreds between capital and labor, hatred between races, hatred of any type.

OUTLINE (of the verse by verse study)

  1. Genial Greeting to Philemon and His Family (vv1-3)
  2. Good Reputation of Philemon (vv4-7)
  3. Gracious Plea for Onesimus (vv8-16)
  4. Guiltless Substitutes for Guilty (v17)
  5. Glorious Illustration of Imputation (v18)
  6. General and Personal Items and Requests (vv19-25)

NOTES  (verse by verse study)


v1 Notice that Paul does not mention the fact that he is an apostle. When he was writing to the churches, he gave his official title: an apostle of Jesus Christ. But this is a personal letter to a personal friend. He does not need to defend his apostleship. He intended for this to be very personal, and I (Dr. McGee) think he would really be surprised to know it can be read by the whole world.

“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Dr. McGee notices that several of the commentaries try to change this and explain it away by teaching that Paul really meant that he was a prisoner because he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But that is not what Paul said, and Paul had the ability of saying exactly what he had in mend. He was using the Greek language which is very flexible, versatile language. He said he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Also, the Holy Spirit is guiding this writing, and certainly the Holy Spirit, God, says what He means.

Paul would tell you Jesus Christ would put him in jail, not the religious leaders who brought the charges or the Romans. You might ask Paul, “You mean that you would serve Someone who would put you in prison?” “Yes, when it’s His will for me to be in prison, I’m in prison. When it’s His will for me to be out of prison, I’ll be out of prison. When it’s His will for me to be sick, I’m going to be sick. I belong to Him. Since I belong to Him, I have learned to be content in whatsoever state I am in. Everything is all right. Don’t worry about me.”

Obviously, the letter to Philemon is one of the prison epistles. It goes along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.

“And Timothy our brother.” That means he is not only Philemon’s brother and Paul’s brother, but he is your brother if you are a Christian. All believers are brothers in Christ.

“Unto Philemon our dearly beloved.” Does that sound as if Paul is really buttering him up. Dr. McGee thinks so. He did love this man and he is going to make a request of him.

Apphia was apparently the wife of Philemon. Philemon is a Greek name and Apphia is a Phrygian name. Phylemon met a Phrygian girl named Apphia and married her. They have both become Christians.

v2 Dr. McGee assumes that Archippus was their son. He is called a “fellowsoldier” – he also is a soldier in the army of Jesus Christ. He is a fellowsoldier. All believers should be soldiers and every believer has gifts that God wishes him to freely exercise as a member of a local church body in pursuance of the spiritual warfare believers and churches are called to fight. Sometimes believers do not exercise their God given gifts as a member of a church body and sometimes churches constrain some members from freely exercising those gifts God has given them. When that happens, neither the body nor the affected member(s) are functioning as God would desire.

“And to the church in thy house.” The local church was not down on the corner in a separate building – they had no building. There were great temples to the pagan gods, but the early churches did not have buildings which they erected and owned in the name of the church. It is estimated that for two hundred years, churches met in homes.

The great cathedrals of the past were actually never meant for public meetings. Westminster Abbey in England, for example, was never intended for public services. It was built in the shape of a cross as a monument to Jesus Christ. In my (Jerald Finney) opinion, this grieved our Lord, who set the example and gave the instructions (throught the Apostle Paul) for His churches.

v3 This is Paul’s usual greeting to every person and church to whom he wrote.


v4 Philemon is a man for whom Paul prayed.

v5 The life of Philemon was a testimony. Paul describes it in a lovely way. He showed love toward our Lord Jesus and toward other believers. His faith was toward the Lord Jesus and he showed it to other believers.

v6 His faith was shared. The life of Philemon was a testimony.

v7 Paul had great joy and consolation in the love of Philemon for other believers and for him. “Bowels” implies the entire psychological nature. It is the inner life of the believers that had great satisfaction through him.


Paul is coming to the purpose of the letter. He approaches the subject diplomatically and cautiously and lovingly. He makes his request on a threefold basis:

  1. “For love’s sake.”
  2. “Being such an one as Paul the aged.” Paul, in his sixties, had suffered and been persecuted as a missionary for Christ. This had aged him. He is saying, “You know that I am an old man now.”
  3. “A prisoner of Jesus Christ.” It is evident he cannot come to Philemon in person.

v10 Paul is pleading on behalf of his son-one of his many spiritual sons whom he had led to the Lord.

v11 The name Onesimus means profitable. Paul is saying, “When you had Profitable, you didn’t have Profitable. Now that you don’t have Profitable, you do have Profitable.” As a slave, Onesimus wasn’t very useful. He did not work because he wanted to. His heart wasn’t in it. Now that Onesimus is a believer, Paul says, “He is going to be profitabe as a slave.”

vv12, 13 Paul is asking Philemon to receive Onesimus just as if he were receiving Paul. Paul admits he would like to have kept Onesimus who would have been of great help to him as an old, sick, cold man in prison. But Paul would not do that.

v14 Paul is saying, “I wouldn’t keep Onesimus because that would not be right-although I thought of it. If you willingly want to send him back, that will be all right.” We don’t know if Philemon sent Onesimus back, but Dr. McGee thinks he did.

vv15-16 “For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” Onesimus is still a slave, but more than a slave, a dearly beloved brother.


Verse 17 with verse 18 gives us one of the grandest illustrations of substitution and imputation. Behind Paul’s plea is Christ’s plea to the Father on behalf of hte sinner who trusts Christ as the Saviour. The sinner is received on the same standing that Christ is received. The saved sinner has as much right to heaven as Christ has, for he has His right to be there. We are accepted in teh beloved (Ep. 1.6). “Don’t put him out in the cold, put him in that guest room where you put me when I was there.”


Paul had a credit card because he was a believer in Christ. Paul says, “Look, if Onesimus stole something from you or did something wrong, just put it on my account.” All this is a glorious picture. When one comes to God the Father for salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “If [] has wronged Thee or oweth Thee anything,m put that on My account.” Christ on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. But that isn’t all. I am sure that God the Father would say, “That fellow is not fit for heaven.” The the Lord Jesus would say, “If Thou count Me therefore a partner, receive Jerald Finney as Myself.” That is what it means to be in Christ-accepted in the Beloved. This is a very precious epistle.


v19 The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life and shed His blood to pay our entire debt of sin.

“Albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.” Paul had led Philemon to the Lord. How could he ever repay Paul for that?

v20 Paul is pleading for Onesimus.

v21 Paul expresses his confidence that Philemon will do more than he requests. It is characteristic that believers will do more than is requested. Jesus asks us to go the second mile.

v22 Paul expects to be released from prison. He requests prayers for that purpose. Since this letter was written during Paul’s first confinement in Rome, he was released and probably visited Philemon personally.

vv23-25 This beautiful little letter concludes with personal greetings to mutual friends.



Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Titus. This study is taken from that book with modifications. The study is also available online in audio at: Titus.

DATE A.D. 64-67


Apparently, Paul and Titus had been together in a ministry on the island of Crete (See Titus 1.5). We don’t know how long they had been there. Paul did not think much of the people who lived on Crete, as this epistle makes clear. Paul, after he left the island, wrote Titus giving him instructions about what he was to do as a young preacher in Crete.

Acts does not mention the ministry on Crete. Acts contains a very small record of the early churches, and only the ministries of Peter and Paul are emphasized. We do not have a complete record of these men’s ministries, but we have all the record that the Holy Spirit felt necessary to give us.


In 1 and 2 Thessalonians written earlier in Paul’s ministy, Paul’s great emphasis is on the coming of Christ—it is a bright and beautiful hope for him. Titus was written at the end of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, and he wrote: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Paul had not lost the blessed hope that he had earlier in his ministry.


Paul led Timothy and Titus, two young preachers, to the Lord. He calls both sons, his genuine sons.

Paul wrote them both. We have two epistles to Timothy and one to Titus. These epistles are called pastoral epistles  because in them Paul gives instruction to these young preachers concerning the local church. These epistles are very brief, yet they do give the essential modus operandi for a church. They impress upon us that if there is a need in a church, it is a spiritual need.

Titus appears to have been a stronger man, both physically and spiritually. Paul expresses less concern for Titus’ welfare than he did for Timothy’s. Titus was probably more mature, and he possessed a virile personality.

Timothy was a Jew who was circumcised by Paul (Acts 16.1-3), but Titus was a Gentile, and Paul refused to circumcise him (Galatians 2.1-3). What rule can one draw from this: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15).

Paul said that he wanted to be all things to all men that he might win some to Christ—to the Jew he wanted to be a Jew, and to the Gentile he wanted to be as a Gentile. He had Timothy circumcised because they were going into the synagogues. But in that great council of the church in Jerusalem, the gospel was at stake, and Paul would not permit one bit of legalism to slip in (See Acts 15); therefore, he refused to let Titus be circumcised.

It is a dangerous thing to put down a series of little rules that are nothing in the world but a ritual whereby you attempt to live the Christian life. Unless you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, all else comes absolutely to nought.


Ti.1.5In the epistle to Titus we have a fine picture of the New Testament church in its full-orbed realization in the community as an organization. Does your church call itself a New Testament church? If so, have you ever had anyone drop dead? In the early church, Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead because they had lied to the Holy Spirit (See Acts 5). Dr. McGee thinks that if this principle were operating today, the average church would need to be turned into a hospital or even a mortuary!

Ti.2.1The ideal church, according to this epistle, (1) has an orderly (spiritual) organization, (2) is sound in doctrine, and (3) is pure in life, ready to every good work. In Timothy, the emphasis was upon the need for sound teaching in the church. In Titus, the emphasis is upon the importance of God’s Order for the conduct of the churches. Titus 1.5 is the key to the epistle: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”

Ti.3.1In chapter 1, Paul says that a church is to be an orderly organization (Titus 1.5). In chapter 2, he emphasizes that a church is to teach and preach the Word of God. “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). He says that a church must be doctrinally sound in the faith. In chapter 3 we see that a church is to perform good works. ”Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1).  In other words, a church is saved by grace, is to live by grace, and is to demonstrate her faith to the world by her good works.

Dr. McGee says that it would be very difficult today to find a church that is using all three of these prongs, that is stressing all three of these tremendous emphases. Sometimes you don’t find much order in a church because a few officers (or one officer) are or is trying to do everything or micromanage everything. Such a church is in real trouble. New Testament Scriptures teach that a church is a spiritual organism, and that each member is a part of the spiritual body which is the local, autonomous, church (See, e.g., Epheisans 4, and 1 Corinthians 12). Each member has gifts which are to contribute to the functioning of the body. For example:

  • “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16 ).

The goal of a church is not the glory of a man or certain men. The goal is the glory of God. Of course, churches are to honor the members:

  • “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12.18-27).

Second, in many churches you will find that there is no emphasis at all upon sound doctrine. Thus, Dr. McGee always stressed to young pastors that they should not focus on building a church or building an empire of any kind. He told them just to teach and give out the Word of God. Rather than build an earthly organization—that is a lot of buildings—they should build the spiritual knowledge and lives of the members. Whatever organization they have built in a church may be wrecked by others later on after thy have left. That will be a real heartbreak to a pastor unless he had before him the goal of building into the spiritual lives of men and women. That should be the emphasis of a church.

I would add that it is very important for a church to remain a spiritual entity only, not a worldly organization. Attorney Al Cunningham and Dr. Greg Dixon led the way in showing churches how to do this. Many churches have followed their guidelines, but many more have rejected them:

  • “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20-21).

Finally, a church should be ready for every good work. A church should be engaged in good works. Many churches are so concerned with getting the money to carry on their programs (or an agenda or agendas which may or may not be consistent with all New Testament Church Docrtrine) that they become more interested in getting people to give than in helping those people grow spiritually for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the body. A lot of folk outside the churches need help—not just spiritual, but also physical. Many churches are carrying on a work of helping people, many are not. We can go and sit down and talk with lonely people like this, which is a much needed ministry today.

Liberalism has attempted to emphasize the third chapter of Titus, forgetting the two chapters on order and doctrine. Until a church has all aspects that Paul has outlined, it has no claim to be called “a New Testament church.”


I. A Church is an Organization, Chapter 1
A. Introduction, vv1-4
B. An Orderly Church Must Have Ordained Elders Who Meet Prescribed Requirements, vv5-9
C. The Bad Reputation of the Cretans vv10-16

II. A Church is to Teach and Preach the Word of God, Chapter 2
A. A Church Must Teach Sound Doctrine, vv1-10
B. A Church Must Preach the Grace of God, vv11-15

III. A Church is to Perform Good Works, Chapter 3
A. Good Works are an Evidence of Salvation, vv1-7
B. Good Works are Profitable for the Present and Future, vv8-15


Ti.1.5-9Chapter 1
(A church is an organization)


v1 Paul was a servant, a “bond slave” of God. We know from the Old Testament that a bond slave was one who chose to remain a slave of his master for life. “An apostle of Jesus Christ.” Paul was defending his apostleship because he is going to give instructions to the churches. These instructions come from an apostle, the appointed writer of the Lord Jesus who was now communicating with His church through His apostles. Paul’s epistles are communication from the Lord Jesus through the apostle Paul.

“According to the faith of God’s elect.” Paul does not say “for the faith”–in other words, according to the norm or standard of faith which is set for God’s elect today. Whether you are saved or not does rest on what you believe. Tell me what you think of Jesus Christ; tell me what you believe about His death on the cross and what it means to you; tell me what you believe about His resurrection and what it means to you; tell me whether you believe the Bible to be the Word of God. With this information I think I can deduce whether you are a child of God or not.

“God’s elect”–This is the way Paul speaks of saved people. He is not discussing the doctrine of election at all.

“According to the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” My friend, if the truth that you have does not lead to a godly life, there is something radically wrong with your faith. Truth will lead to godliness, and if it doesn’t lead to godliness, it is not truth, my friend. Paul will dwell on this theme because the people on the island of Crete were abusing the grace of God. They said that if they had been saved by grace, they were free to live in sin if they wanted to. Paul answers that right here in this first verse by saying that when the truth of God is believed it will lead to godliness. Grace saves us, but it also lays down certain disciplines for our lives and calls us to live on a high plane. If you think that you can be saved by grace and live in sin – may I (i.e., Dr. McGee) say this kindly but I must say it – you are not saved by grace; you are not saved at all. Salvation by grace leads to a godly life.

v2 “In hope of eternal life.” In Titus, Paul speaks of grace in 3 time zones. In Titus 2.11-13, we see all three. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation” – that is past; “teaching us” – that is present; and “looking for that blessed hope” – that is future.

“Which God that cannot lie.” This hope was promised by a God who cannot lie. Romans 3:4: “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar….” Sometimes believers almost make God out a liar. We say we believe, but we act like we don’t believe.

Dr. McGee has wanted to preach a sermon on what God cannot do. He cannot lie. He cannot, like you and me, see His equal. Why cannot God lie? Because He must be true to Himself.  His nature is one of holiness and righteousness and He cannot do certain things because of His nature. He is righteous, just, and He never deceives. He is the one you can depend upon.

“Promised before the world began”- this promise was made back in eternity.

v3 “In due times” means in His own seasons. God moves in a very orderly manner. God made the peach tree to bud in the spring, and it won’t bud when the first snow falls.

“Hath in due times manifested His word through preaching.” Through heralding or trumpeting. A trumpet was used to make a proclamation. The trumpet was blown and the proclamation was made. “According to the commandment of God our Savior.” Jesus Christ was God.

v4 Here, Paul makes clear that Titus was his spiritual son. Paul had led Titus to the Lord. “After the common faith.” This is the faith that is shared by all believers, a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The grace of God has appeared, and therefore, God extends mercy to us today. I am grateful that He doesn’t deal with me according to my orneriness and disobedience. He has simply been good to me. Grace, mercy, and peace are all “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”


I will summarize Dr. McGee’s teaching on this portion of Scripture, with comments from some others.

v5 Paul had left Titus in Crete to organize local churches with elders as spiritual leaders. There was a great deal of mythology and tradition connected with this island, and with all Greek islands. According to their tradition, Minos was the first to give laws to the Cretans. He conquered the Aegean pirates who were there, and he established a navy. After the Trojan War, the principle cities of the island formed themselves into several mostly independent republics. Crete was annexed to the Roman Empire in 67 B.C. There were now churches in the three chief cities of Crete. We have no record of Paul going there. From the information given in this little epistle, we are led to believe that he was there and left Titus to organize the churches which were founded by him and Titus.

Crete was evidently a pretty bad place, and the people were not very good. Paul says that they were liars, and they were noted for being liars in that day. Even one of their own poets wrote, “Crete, which a hundred cities doth maintain, cannot deny this, though to lying given.”

Paul will also have other uncomplimentary things  to say about them, but man of them turned to the Lord, and Paul tells Titus to organize their churches.

“Set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city.” The gift of an elder is a gift of men to the church. Putting your hand on the head of some men and going through a little ritual will not make them elders. But Dr. McGee believes that it is important to do that with men who do have the gift of elders. There were men so qualified in the churches in Crete, but they had never been ordained. or set aside. They were men who had a gift of supervision of he churches and were exercising that gift without an authority. Titus is to “ordain elders” – appoint them, set them aside – “in every city.”

“As I had appointed thee.” A man who holds the office of elder should have the gift of an elder. Certain men are made officers in the church who have no gift for it at all. That is half of our problem in many churches today, and the other half is that there are good men who have the gift and are not made officers in the church. As a result, some of our churches get in the hands of the wrong folk and all sorts of problems arise.

C.I. Schofield, in footnotes to v5 stated:

  • “It is not at all a question of the presence in the assembly of persons having the qualifications of elders, made overseers by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28); that such persons were in the churches of Crete is assumed; the question is altogether one of the appointment of such persons. These assemblies were not destitute of elders; but were “wanting,” in that they were not duly appointed. There is a progress of doctrine in respect of the appointing of elders. Cf. v. 5, note.”
  • Elder (presbuteros) and bishop (episcopos = “overseer”) designate the same office (cf Titus 1:7; Ac 20:17,28), the former referring to the man, the latter to a function of the office. The eldership in the apostolic local churches was always plural. There is no instance of one elder in a local church. The functions of the elders are: to rule (1 Tim. 3:4-5; 5:17), to guard the body of revealed truth from perversion and error (Tit. 1:9), to “oversee” the church as a shepherd his flock (Acts 20:28; John 21:16; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2). Elders are made or “set” in the churches by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28), but great stress is laid upon their due appointment (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5). At first they were ordained (Gr. “cheirotoneo,” “to elect,” “to designate with the hand,”) by an apostle; e.g. Acts 14:23, but in Titus and 1 Timothy the qualifications of an elder become part of the Scriptures for the guidance of the churches in such appointment. (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

Albert Barnes:

  • Elders. Gr., Presbyters. See the word explained Cmt. on Acts 14:23. These elders, or presbyters, were also called bishops (comp. Cmt. on 1Ti 3:1), for Paul immediately, in describing their qualifications, calls them bishops– “ordain elders in every city–if any be blameless –FOR a bishop must be blameless,” etc. If the elders and bishops in the times of the apostles were of different ranks, this direction would be wholly unmeaning. It would be the same as if the following directions were given to one who was authorized to appoint officers over an army: “Appoint captains over each company, who shall be of good character, and acquainted with military tactics, for a brigadier-General must be of good character, and acquainted with the rules of war.” –That the same rank is denoted also by the terms presbyter and bishop here, is further apparent because the qualifications which Paul states as requisite for the “bishop” are not those which pertain to a prelate or a diocesan bishop, but to one who was a pastor of a church, or an evangelist. It is clear, from Tit 1:7, that those whom Titus was to appoint were “bishops;” and yet it is absurd to suppose that the apostle meant prelatical bishops, for no one can believe that such bishops were to be appointed in “every city” of the island. According to all modern notions of Episcopacy, one such bishop would have been enough for such an island as Crete, and indeed it has been not unfrequently maintained that Titus himself was in fact the bishop of that diocese. But if these were not prelates who were to be ordained by Titus, then it is clear that the term “bishop” in the New Testament is given to the Presbyters or elders; that is, to all ministers of the gospel. That usage should never have been departed from.
  • In every city. Crete was anciently celebrated for the number of its cities. In one passage, Homer ascribes to the island an hundred cities, (Il ii. 649 😉 in another, ninety (Od. xix. 174.) It may be presumed that many of these cities were towns of no very considerable size, and yet it would seem probable that each one was large enough to have a church, and to maintain the gospel. Paul, doubtless, expected that Titus would travel over the whole island, and endeavour to introduce the gospel in every important place.

William Burkitt:

  • 2. To ordain elders in every city, such as might govern and teach, and administer to God in holy things; wherever a church is planted, there is an absolute necessity of a settled ministry, and a succession of ministers, without which it is impossible that religion should either prosper or long continue: and care must be taken that such ministers be duly qualified, and regularly ordained. I left thee in Crete to ordain elders.
  • Observe, 3. The limitation of these acts, according to the apostle’s prescription, As I had appointed thee. Titus must do nothing but according to commission, and by special direction.
  • Where note, That the ordering and governing of the church was not left arbitrary, no, not to Titus himself; but whatever he did, was done by apostolical direction: For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I appointed thee.

Adam Clark:

  • Ordain elders in every city – That thou mightest appoint, καταστησης , elders – persons well instructed in Divine things, who should be able to instruct others, and observe and enforce the discipline of the Church. It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Tit 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic Church, though afterwards they became distinct. Lord Peter King, in his view of the primitive Church, has written well on this subject.

[Back to Dr. McGee’s teaching] Now Paul gives some requirements of the men who are to hold this office:

v6 “If any be blameless” does not mean that he must be perfect, without sin. It does mean that any accusation that is brought against him must not be found to be true. His life must be above reproach.

If an officer of a church can accurately be accused of dishonesty, or if someone can say that his speech does not reflect a dedication to Christ, the cause of Christ is hurt and that man should not be an officer of a church.

“The husband of one wife, having faithful children.” “Faithful children” means believing children. If a man cannot lead his children to the Lord, he ought not to be an officer in the church. A man may be a wonderful, godly man who has a wonderful Christian home, but his son or daughter gives no evidence of salvation, but he should not be an officer in the church. As an officer in the church, he might be called upon to make a judgment about someone else. They in turn could point their finger and say, “What about you? What about your son, your daughter? What right do you have to talk to me?” An officer in a church, for the cause of Christ, for the sake of the office, must have believing children.

“Not accused of riot or unruly.” “Of riot” could be translated of profligacy. They are not to be out in a protest movement. They should be concerned with living a life glorifying to the Lord Jesus and with getting out His Word. The apostles and early Christians preached in public, but were not riotous or unruly.

v7 A bishop (or elder) must not be “selfwilled” for he is a steward of God as well as a representative of the people. He is in the church to find and do God’s work. “Not soon angry,” touchy. “Not given to filthy lucre,” not covetous.

Elder and bishop were synonymous terms. “Elder” refers to the individual, and he was to be mature physically and spiritually. A “bishop” was an overseer, he ruled the church. Therefore, the word has reference to the office. But never was a church to have only one man made bishop or presbyter. There were always several.

There has been some disagreements on whether there were elders already in the churches in Crete and Titus was to ordain them, or whether there were none and Titus was to now appoint some. If the latter was the case (which Dr. McGee does not think it was), the Dr. MeGee feels that the churches would have had to agree upon the men Titus appointed. However, that is not the main issue, and it should not be the issue in churches today. Paul’s emphasis is upon a man’s personal requirements to hold such a position in the church.

v8 More requirements given.

v9 An officer should do 2 things: (1) He should be able to exhort, that is, to teach the Word of God. (2) He must be able to confute or refute the heretics. Dr. McGee feels that men who hold office in a church should be Bible-trained men. Paul told Timothy to “lay hands suddenly on no man” (1 Ti. 5.22). You are not to have a man converted one night, ask him to give his testimony the next night, make him an officer of the church on the third night, and evangelist on the fourth, and the pastor on the fifth! We sometimes do things like that today, and it is very unfortunate for the church who does it.


We are all sinners, but these Cretans had a particularly bad reputation. I will include only a few remarks about these verses which are self-explanatory.

v10 Paul is condemning constant chattering with nothing but empty words, and those who are seeking to contradict his teaching.

v11 They were subverting whole houses (whole families), a various serious infraction. Wherever the Word of God is sown, the devil gets in.

v12 “Evil beasts” means rude and cruel. Paul is quoting a Cretan poet, Epimenides, who was born on Crete in 659 B.C.

v13 Titus is goint to have to be a little more strict with the Cretans than he would with others because of their background and their very nature.

v14 “Nor giving heed to Jewish fables.” This refers not just to legalism, but also to a great deal of writing that grew up around the Mosaic law, including the Talmud and much more. There are some pretty wild tales in them.

“Commandments of men that turn from the truth.” The Lord Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for adding traditions to God’s law, and that is what Paul is talking about here. The teaching of legalism is in two phases – one is that you are saved by the law. Both of these teachings are very dangerous. We are saved by the grace of God, and are actually called to live on a higher plane that that of the Ten Commandments. Those who are saved by the grace of God are given instructions for living that is on an even higher plane than that.

v15 This verse is used by folk who say that if we are saved by grace, it does not matter how we live; that is, if we are saved, we are pure and can live in any way we like. Certain cults have developed this teaching, saying they can live in sin (they don’t call it sin – it’s not sin for them) because “unto the pure all things are pure.”

What Paul is talking about has nothing to do with moral issues at all. He is speaking to this issue of legalism and the eating of meats. The teaching of many legalistic cults often includes a very unusual diet. Put Paul says, “Unto the pure all things are pure.” In other words, whether you eat meat or don’t eat meat makes no difference at all. All food is clean. If you want to eat rattlesnake meat, that is your business; it’s my business to keep away from it if I can!

Ti.1.16If you are an unbeliever, any special diet you might concoct will make no difference in your relationship to God – it will not save you. You can eat all the vegetables you want, but if you are not right with God, they will not make you pure. The Lord Jesus said that it is not the thing that goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him (Matthew 15.18-20).

v16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny him.” Like the man who carried the biggest Bible in the church and everyone believed to be very pious. But outside the church he had the reputation of being dishonest. He really did not believe his Bible, as his life showed! One can deny the Bible and God by the life you live.

“Being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Ceremonies and rituals cannot change the evil heart of a man. Only the Word of God can change the human heart. When the heart is changed, the life will reveal the change. Paul and James were never in disagreement. They both said that faith without works is dead. Saving faith produces a godly life.

Chapter 2
(A church is to preach and teach the Word of God)


A church must teach sound doctrine or it is not a church. Dr. McGee has written a little book entitled The Spiritual Fingerprints of the Visible Church in which he goes back to the Day of Pentecost where we are told that those who were added to the church on that day “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2.42). These were the identification marks of the early church: the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It really doesn’t matter how high the steeple may be or how beautifully the chimes may play, it is the message that is going out from the pulpit which will tell you whether a church is really a church, organized as Paul understood it and as the Word of God declares it.

In the first chapter, we found that the elders whom Titus was to ordain were to be able to do two things: to exhort, and to refute or confute the heretics. Dr. McGee says that it is important not to spend your entire ministry refuting everybody. There are some men who have what Dr. McGee calls a negative ministry – all they do is attack the enemies of the gospel. That is important, but he believes we all need a balanced ministry. An elder should be able to exhort from the Word of God as well as be able to answer a heretic. In this second chapter, Paul’s emphasis will be upon the teaching of the Word of God.

v1  Paul tells Timothy what to teach the aged men and women and slaves in the next few verses. “Sound doctrine” means the apostles’ doctrine. This doctrine is the number 1 thing of importance to a church. What we read in these epistles is part of the apostles’ doctrine.

Paul first has a message for the senior citizen who is male and the senior citizen who is female.

Titus 2:2 “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” “Sober” means very vigilant, very serious. They should be men who are respected and who have self-control. I, as a senior citizen, need to work on these things.

v3 deals with the aged women. “In behaviour as becometh holiness.” They are to be reverant. “No false accusers.” Not gossips, and “not given to much wine.” The older women are to teach the younger women. See verses 3-5. “Keepers at home.” The home is not a playpen; it is a serious responsibility to be a wife and to care for children in the home. Paul would obviously not have approved of the women’s lib movement – it is wrong. Women like to be treated like women. The ladies want to get on the elevator first. Gentlement want to let them on first. Women really do not want to be ditch diggers. The most important business in the world is making a home. “Good” means kindly.

“Obedient to their own husbands.” The wife is to respond to her husband. He is the aggressor and she is to respond to him. He is also the leader. The wife will more readily respond to  and follow a husband who will tell her and show her that he loves her.

v6 The preacher, Titus here, is to teach the young men.

v7 Titus, the preacher, is told to be a pattern for the other young men. “In doctrine shewing uncorruptness”that is, in his teaching, he is to show the complete faith in the Word of God and appreciate the seriousness of the matters he is dealing with.

v8 Your conversation should reveal the fact that you are a child of God. Titus 2:8 “Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

v9-10 In the early church, there were many slaves. In fact, 90% of the names on the walls of the catacombs are those of slaves or ex-slaves. The gospel met a great need for this class of people in that day. Titus 2:9-10 “9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”


Titus2.11-15Paul interrupts these admonitions to put a doctrinal foundation under the lives of these people. He puts it in past, present and future. I believe that the grace of God speaks to all men (v11) about these matters. The grace of God teaches every person that  he/she should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (v12). God’s grace puts the believer on a solid foundation. The gospel is good news, it is the power of God unto salvation.

Paul is enjoining Titus, the preacher, to demand of the Cretans that they live lives that adorn the gospel, for it is the power of God.  The grace of God “hath appeared” – it has shined forth. God does not save one by His love and He does not save one by his mercy. One is saved by God’s grace (Ep. 2.8). Mercy is the compassion of God that prompted Him to send a Saviour to mankind. If one man could be saved by the mercy of God, all mankind would be saved. It would not have been necessary for Christ to die; the cross would have been circumvented. Love is the divine motive, but God is not only love. He is righteous, holy, and just. The holy demands of God, His just claims, and His righteous standard had to be met. The immutable law of justice makes love powerless to save. Therefore, Christ, by dying for our sins, met the holy demands of God’s justice, and He can now save by grace. When we were guilty, Christ paid the penalty. Grace is not complicated or implicated with human effort. God does not ask your cooperation. He does not ask for your conduct or your character in order to save you. God only asks men to believe Him, to trust Him, and to accept Christ as their Savior.  Tod’s way is the best way, and it is the only way.

My pastor tells the story of talking to a man who was a sodomite about the Lord. The man knew that, to turn to God meant turning from his sinful behaviors with the other man. He told pastor that without pastor explaining it to him. Likewise it was with me. I did not turn to the Lord for a long time because I did not want to turn from my sin. With time, I began to understand that my sin was a one-way road to destruction. I turned to God and put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. He made a new creature of me at that moment.

I have also talked with lesbians and other sinners who knew that to turn to God they had to turn from their sin. One cannot turn to God without turning his back on his sin. Once one turns to God and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sin, the grace of God saves him.

For the believer, eternal salvation is in the past. After salvation, the grace of God begins to teach us and to empower us, as new creatures, to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” That is  the present state of all believers who are still on this earth. They are being saved from the power of sin over them. God saves the believer for eternity (past) and presently (this is the sanctification which occurs in his earthly life after salvation).

God is not trying to reform this world; He is redeeming men who turn to God and trust Christ to save them from their sin. The gospel does not appeal to Christ rejecting men to do better. When a person says, “I am going to try to do better,” I (Dr. McGee) think he is a liar. If you have not turned to God and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you might as well try to get all you can out of this life, because this life is all that you are going to get. You might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will die. God does not want to reform you, he wants to regenerate you.

Then, there is the future salvation which determines a believer’s  present motivation and course of action.

“Looking for that blessed hope” – this is the next happening in the program of God. In the future believers will be like the Lord Jesus, that is totally without sin (1 Jn 3.2). Titus 2:13-14: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” As we learn in 1 Thessalonians, that hope is an inspiring hope (1 Thes. 1), a working hope (1 Thes. 2), a purifying hope (1 Thes. 3.1-4.12), a comforting hope (1 Thes. 4.13-18), and a rousing hope (1 Thes. 5). That hope is assured for all believers.

Paul clearly says in verse 13,  as in other places in his epistles, that Jesus Christ is God.  He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us “from all iniquity” and “purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.”

v15 To the young preacher, Titus, and all young preachers called of God, Paul concludes this segment of this epistle: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Tit. 2.15).

Chapter 3
(A church is to perform good works)

We learn in this chapter that to be all that God wants for a church, a church is to perform good works.


v1 The first thing he mentions here is the fact that a church must have members who are law abiding. A believer should obey the law of the land unless those laws conflict or contradict his duty and relationship to God.

A believer should, for example, respect the office a police officer represents. He represents the segment of our society that protects our persons and our property. Without them, we would be in a bad way today.

This verse also raises the question of whether a Christian should go into politics. Dr. McGee believes as I do, that the individual Christian is free to go into politics, but does not believe that a church should go into politics.

A good example is the Wesleyan movement in England. Wesley never tried to straighten out the king of England, or the church of England. He just went out and preached the Word of God. Men were converted, and some became great philanthropists and abolitionists. They were men who had been gamblers and drunkards, with no concern for the poor, until they cam to know Christ. These men started the great labor movement associated with the Weslyan revival in England, which was the beginning of the movement against child labor and the protection of workmen on the job. We need individuals who will enter the government and take social action, but a church is not called upon to go into politics.

“To be ready to every good work.” A church is to instruct individuals to be eager, to be anxious, and to learn to perform good works.

v2 Gives a negative side to the exhortation. “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” Not to gossip, not to malign anyone.  However, if a church has solid evidence that a member is doing something evil, that member should be named. Paul named certain men who were evil men: Phygellus and Hermogenes, Hymenaeus and Philetus, and Alexander the coppersmith. Then he also said that Demas ahd forsaken him, having loved this present world.

v3 is a picture of the unsaved today, a picture of you and me before we knew Christ. We were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. This was a picture of the lost world. In some churches, one will see a pretense of loving, but under it there is envying and hating and gossiping. You can find churches divided into little cliques and groups, they they boast about how sound they are in the faith. This is a disgrace to the cause of Christ.

Ti.3.5vv4, 5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Becoming a Christian does not mean just turning over a new leaf – you will find yourself writing on the new leaf the same things you wrote on the old leaf. Nor are you saved on the basis of works or righteousness, good deeds, which you have done. “But according to his mercy he saved us.” Because Christ died for us and paid the penalty for our sins, God is prepared to extend mercy to us; it is according to His mercy  that He saved us. And He is rich in mercy, which means he has plenty of it.

Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Regenerate means “to generate or produce anew; to reproduce;” or “to change the heart and affections from natural enmity to the love of God; to implant holy affections.”

“By the washing or regeneration.” “Washing” means laver – it is the laver of regeneration. In the Old Tetament the laver, which stood in the court of the tabernacle and later the temple, represented this. The washing of regeneration is what the Lord was speaking about in the third chapter of John: “Except a man be born of  water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn.3.5). The water represents the Word of God – the Bible will wash you. It has a sanctifying power, a cleansing power. We are cleansed by the Word of God. the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God – “born of water and the Spirit.” That is the way we are born again. “And the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost (God) regenerates us. He makes of us a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”

v6 In everything God does, there is a surplus.

v7 “The hope of eternal life” is again pointing to the great hope of the believer, the coming of Christ for His church.


v8 Salvation does not excuse a person from performing good works. Paul says that Titus should constantly affirm that church members are to “be careful to maintain good works.” Before salvation, God is not interested in your “good works” because what you call a good work, God calls dirty laundry. Man’s righteousness is filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64.6). God wants to save you. Come to Him just as you are, He will save you, because He has done something for you. What could you do for God? Nothing is the answer.

After one is saved, God talks to him about good works. He wants you to get involved in getting the Word of God out to others. God talks to his children about good works. “Be careful to maintain good works.”

v9. We are to defend the faith, but we are not to do it by argument and debate. That does no good; that never led anyone to the Lord. You may whip a man down intellectually by your arguments, but that does not touch his heart and win him for Christ. Stay away from foolish questions and geneologies and contentions.

That is why Dr. McGee does not develop certain subjects that are sensational. For example, he has been urged to do a series on demonism, to write a book about it. Dr. McGee says, “Let’s not get involved in that type of thing.” He says he would much rather tell you about the Holy Spirit which can indwell you. If He is in you, no demon could ever possess you! 1 John 4:4: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” It is so easy to get sidetracked.

v10 We (Dr. McGee) have been asked to join in certain prejects in which there are some heretics. He is not interested in being joined with anyone who has views that are in opposition to the Word of God. God tells us here to be separated from heretics. Just let them alone; reject them. v11 An heretic has turned aside from the truth (“is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself).

vv12-14 Paul gives a final admonition about good works. It is something that must be worked at. It is not easy. We need to know what God considers good works and we need to learn how to do them.

v15 Paul concludes this practical letter to Titus with a benediction.


2 Timothy

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.


SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 2 Timothy. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: 2 Timothy

DATE A.D. 67


The following is an approximate calendar of events which will orient us to the position that this second epistle to Timothy occupied in the ministry of the Apostle Paul.

  • A.D. 58 Paul was apparently arrested in Jerusalem
  • A.D. 61 This is the approximate time that Paul arrived in Rome. He had spent three years in prison, going from one trial to another before different Roman rulers.
  • A.D. 61-63 Paul underwent his first Roman imprisonment. We do not have this recorded in the book of Act, which breaks off at the very beginning of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment
  • 2Ti.2.15_3A.D. 64-67 Paul was released from prison, and during this period Paul covered a great deal of territory. It was during this time that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus from Macedonia.
  • A.D. 67 Paul was arrested again.
  • A.D 68 Paul was beheaded in Rome. Before his death he wrote 2 Timothy.

The 2 verses that state the theme and sound the tone of the 2nd epistle are these:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”


2 Timothy, (in common with 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 and 3 John) has to do with the personal walk and true testimony of a servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension.


You can, Dr. McGee asserts, emphasize one word here above other words: loyalty.

  1. Loyalty in suffering (chapter 1)
  2. Loyalty in service (chapter 2)
  3. Loyalty in apostasy (chapters 3-4.5)
  4. Lord loyal to His servants in desertion (chapters 4.6-4.22).

SPECIAL FEATURE: “Swan Song” of the Apostle

[These comments of Dr. McGee were made sometime before his death in 1988.]

This is the final communication of Paul. It has a note of sadness which is not detected in his other epistles. Nevertheless, there is a note of triumph: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Because this was his last letter, Paul was very personal. He refers to 25 individuals in these four short chapters.

In this book, an ominous dark cloud is seen on the horizon. It is the coming apostasy. Today, apostasy has broken like a storm, like a Texas tornado, on the world and in the churches. Webster defines apostasy as “total desertion of the principles of faith.” So apostasy is not due to ignorance; as is a heresy. Apostasy is deliberate error. It is intentional departure from the faith. An apostate is one who knows the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith, but he has repudiated them.

Paul here in 2 Timothy speaks of the ultimate outcome of gospel preaching. The final fruition will not be the total conversion of mankind, nor will it usher in the millennium. On the contrary, there will come about an apostasy which will well-nigh blot out the faith from the earth. In fact, there are two departures that will occur at the end of the age: One is the departure from the faith. Luke 18:8  “… Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This, in context demands a negative answer. The other is the departure of believers, those who are members of the family of God, which is what we call the “rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

This view is not in keeping with the social gospel today which expects to transform the world by tinkering with the social system. Such vain optimists have no patience with the doleful words of 2 Timothy. The cold and hard facts of history and the events of the present hour demonstrate the accuracy of Paul. We are now in the midst of an apostasy which is cut to the pattern of Paul’s words in remarkable detail.

Most churches have entered the orbit of an awful apostasy. A remnant of New Testament churches is not affected. All members of the family of God are on their way to glory. I believe that many true believers attend apostate churches, not knowing enough about Bible principles to know of the apostasies of the churches they attend. For example, many believers attend corporate 501c3 churches without understanding that such status grieves our Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it.” Those pastors, leaders, “Christian” lawyers, etc. are either apostates (know the truth but depart from it) or do not know the truth.

Because of the threat of apostasy, Paul emphasizes the Word of God here more than he does in any other epistle. In fact, both Paul and Peter agree. Each of them in his “swan song” (2 Timothy and 2 Peter) emphasizes the Word of God and the Gospel.

My friend, the gospel rests upon a tremendous fact, and that fact is the total depravity of man. In other words, man is  a lost sinner. Someone has put it like this:

  • “Where education assumes that the moral nature of man is capable of improvement, traditional Christianity assumes that the moral nature of man is corrupt and absolutely bad. Where it is assumed in education that an outside human agent may be instrumental in the moral improvement of men, in traditional Christianity it is assumed that the agent is God, and even so, the moral nature of man is not improved but exchanged for a new one.”

Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it.  Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.

Therefore, the only solution is the gospel of the grace of God which reaches down and saves the sinner on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in Christ transforms human life. We have a showcase today all over this land of a relatively small number of men and women who have been transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.

Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively,” or “How to Drive Your Life Purposely.” It says we are on the way upward and onward forever! That is popular psychology, and it is not getting anyone anywhere.

A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, and urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that. No wonder the Lord Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor how, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3.15, 16). That would make anybody sick to his tummy. That’s another reason I call these people Alka-Seltzer Christians. They’re not only fizz, foam, and groth, but they cause you to need an Alka-Seltzer.

Then there is the third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, the Christian social order, and union of church and state (church and state working with, over or under the other; church incorporation and 501c3 are two of many manifestations of this relationship). It is Christian socialism pure and simple.

In contrast, when the true gospel is preached and men come to Christ, they all become brothers. We don’t need all this talk about better race relations. You cannot create better relationships by forcing people together. Only the gospel of the grace of God will make a man into a brother of mine. When that happens, the color of a man’s skin makes no difference at all.

The solution of man’s problems can come only through the grace of God. We need to recognize that God creates out of nothing. Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. The grace fo God through Jesus Christ is the way to transform and save mankind. That is what 2 Timothy teaches, and that is why it is important to study 2 Timothy.


I. AFFLICTIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1
A. Introduction vv. 1-7
B. Not Ashamed, but a Partaker of Affliction, 1.8-11
C. Not Ashamed, but Assured, 1.12-18

II. ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2
A. A Son, 2.1, 2
B. A Good Soldier, 2.3, 4
C. An Athlete, 2.5
D. A Farmer, 2.6-14
E. A Workman, 2.15-19
F. A Vessel, 2.20-23
G A Servant, 2.24-26

III. APOSTASY Coming, Authority of the Scriptures, Chapter 3.1-4.5
A. Conditions in the Last Days, 3.1-9
B. Authority of Scriptures in the Last Days, 3.10-17
C. Instructions for the Last Days, 4.1-5

IV. ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, Chapter 4.6-22
A. Deathbed Testimony of Paul, 4.6-8
B. Last Words, 4.9-22


Chapter 1
(AFFLICATIONS of the Gospel, Chapter 1)


v1 Paul an apostle by the will of God. In 1 Ti., Paul said “by the commandment  of God,” and we saw that the commandments of God revealed the will of God, but that they were not the total will of God. “According to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” You accept a promise by faith. That is the only way you can obtain eternal life. He offers it to you as a gift. You accept a gift because you believe the Giver. The Lord Jesus gives you eternal life when you trust His as Saviour because He paid the penalty of your sin. He today can offer you heaven on the basis of your faith and trust in Him. Therefore, “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” makes it clear that through Christ is the only way you can get eternal life, my friend.

2Ti.1.7_1v2 Call greets Timothy as his “dearly beloved son” because Timothy was a great joy to him. v3 Timothy was on Paul’s prayer list. v4 Paul loved Timothy, and this verse makes clear that Timothy loved Paul because he was greatly affected since Paul has been arrested, is back in prison, and faces death. v5 Apparently, Timothy was brought up in a Christian home–both his grandmother and his mother were Christians. It is not known whether Timothy’s father, a Greek, was in the faith. v6 When Paul put his hands on Timothy, that meant that Timothy was a partner with Paul. He shared with him the gift of teaching the Word of God. He admonishes Timothy to “stir up the gift of God that is in thee.” v7 “Fear” here speaks of cowardice. God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind. “Sound mind” means discipline; we should not be slaves to our emotions. Overcoming emotions means not letting your emotions stop you from doing something you should be doing. I am not to be a defeated Christian; I should not let my emotions control my life.


v8 The Lord Jesus made clear that we would have trouble. “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (Jn. 16.33). He warned us that the world would not like Christian. “If the world hate you, ye now that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn. 15.18). There is something wrong if you become too popular as a a Christian.

v9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling”–not because of who we are or what we have done–“not according to our works.” But–“according to his own purpose and grace.” God’s wonderful purpose in the gospel was hidden in ages past but is now revealed through Paul. “Which was given in Christ Jesus before the world began”–all along god had this plan for us.

v10 “Who hath abolished death.” Death means something altogether different to the child of God–Christ made if of no effect. Paul is not talking about physical death. He means spiritual death, eternal death, which is separation from God.

v11 Paul was a “preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.” An apostle had several gifts. Dr. McGee doesn’t believe God will give us 2 or more gifts, as preaching and singing.


v12 Paul suffered because he was “a preacher, apostle, and teacher” as he stated in v11. Nonetheless, he was not ashamed of the gospel (see Ro. 1.16 and in 2 Ti. 1.8 he urges Timothy not to be ashamed either)  although he was in prison, with sentence of death upon him. “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”

v12 “Hold fast the form of sound words” (the words of Scripture are inspired).

v13 The Christian life can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. In v7 Paul talked about power, love, and a sound mind in v7 and all are fruit of the Holy Spirit. See Ga. 5.22, 23.

v15 Paul names Phygellus and Hermogenes who turned from him. All he says that “all they which are in Asia have turned from me. In 1 Ti. 1, Paul said some had fallen away. Here it is all – that is, all who are now in Asia who had formerly been with him in Rome. Apostasy has occurred during the entire history of the church.

vv16-18 Paul talks about Onesiphorus, a wonderful man of god.

Chapter 2
(ACTIVE in Service, Chapter 2)


v1 “Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul – it was under Paul’s ministry that Timothy turned to Christ. Timothy is in the family of God; he is a child of God. Therefore, Paul tells him, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You cannot live the Christian life on your own. If you feel you can grit your teeth and go out and live the Christian life on your own, you’re in for a great disappointment. If you feel you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism. Paul gives no rules, and the Word of God has no rules to tell the child of God how to live the Christian life. We are saved by grace, and now we are to live by the grace of God and be strong in that grace. When things go wrong, a believe should appeal to God’s grace. When I fail, I have found that when I am away from Him, the whipping He gives me hurts lots worse. I don’t want to get on the end of that switch where it really stings. I come in close to Him, and the closer I am the less it hurts. I am a son  of my Heavenly Father.

v2 Paul tells Timothy to commit the things Paul taught him “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” It is a real concern to older men that there be young men who will be faithful in teaching God’s Word. [It is a concern to me that there will be those who will teach “separation of church and state law to others.” I am especially grieved by all those who pervert the truth as to the Bible and earthy truths concerning the relationship of Christ and His churches.]

As sons of God we ought to be concerned about our Father’s business. Perhaps you are thinking that you are disappointed in yourself. If you are, that means that you must have believed in yourself. You should not have. You are to walk by the grace of God, “by faith and not by sight.” Or perhaps you are discouraged. If so, that means you do not believe God’s Word and way of blessing. Or maybe you have said, “I hope I can do better in the future.” Then you do expect to get some good out of that old nature. Oh, my friend, be strong in the grace of God.


vv3-4 The Christian is a soldier. Ep. 6 tells us that the believer is fighting a spiritual battle, and that he needs to put on the armor of God.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.” “That he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” He is to establish his priorities. He is to to endure hardness, or suffer hardness, as Paul was suffering. The Christian life is not a playground; it is a spiritual battlefield.


v6 Here Paul compares the Christian to an athlete. He is to strive to win. Philippians 3:14: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul also said he wanted to keep his body under control (1 Co. 9.24-27). He is to “strive lawfully.” That is, he is to play by the rules. Thus, he should study the whole rule book, all 66 books. An athlete can’t cut the corner of the racetrack. A baseball player does not run by second base without touching it.

A FARMER – the fourth description of a believer (vv6-14)

There will be a harvest, but there has to be the sowing and laboring in the field. The Word of God is to be sown. You may (probably will) get into trouble when you sow the Word of God. Paul got in trouble. He was in prison for teaching the Word of God. Even so, he said, “But the word of God is not bound (v9); it was still going out into the Roman world and still is. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (v11). When we are saved, his death becomes our death. We are identified with Him and are raised with Him in newness of life.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (v12). Dr. McGee (and I) personally believe that not all believers will reign with Him. I have not suffered for the Lord as did the Apostle Paul. Fox says there were 5 million Christians who were martyred for Christ under Rome. Then, tens of millions, at least 50 million, died for Christ as martyrs under the rule of the Catholic Church during the middle ages.

“If we deny him, he also will deny us.” Faith without works is dead (no faith at all-one never had saving faith. See James 2.17). Paul and James never contradicted one another. James was talking about the works of faith, and Paul is saying that genuine faith produces works.

v13 God “cannot deny himself.” God cannot accept as true one who is false. He called the religious rulers hypocrits because they were pretending to be something they were not.

v14 “Strive not about words.” God’s people need to stick to essentials. Don’t argue about empty words or philosophies or our little differences.


2Ti.2.15_22 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Believers are to be diligent students of the Word of God. To rightly divide the Word, the Christian is to be a skilled workman like an artisan. The student of the Word of God must understand that the Word of God is one great bundle of truth and that it has certain right divisions. The Bible is built according to a certain law ans structure, which must be observed and obeyed as you go through the Word of God. You can’t just lift out a verse here and a verse there and choose to ignore a passage here and a passage there. It must be studied (and taught) in its entirety. Only a lost person or even a saved person ignorant of the Word of God does not believe the truth that the Bible is the most orderly book ever written, by far, since its author was God.

“Rightly dividing the word of truth.” There are certain dispensations in the Word of God, different methods whereby God dealt with man. The basis of salvation always remains the same. Man is saved only by believing in the atoning death of Christ. But man expresses his faith in God in different ways. For example, Able and Abraham brought little lambs to sacrifice to the Lord. But I hope you don’t take a lamb tochurch next Sunday morning, because you would be entirely out of order. It’s all right for Mary to have a little lamb that follows her to school, but your little lamb should not follow you to church. The reason is that the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world has already come. That Lamb is Jesus (Jn. 1.29). You see, Abel and Abraham looked forward to the Lamb of God, and we look back to His death. This is an illustration of rightly dividing the Word of truth.

2Ti.2.19Dispensations exhibit the progressive order of God’s dealings with humanity. For instance, to recognize the distinction between law and grace is basic to the understanding of the Scriptures. One has to be careful about listening or studying dispensationalists. Some are very solid on all Bible matters. C.I. Schofield was right about some things, but wrong about others, but studying his works is tremendously enlightening as to God’s dispensations as laid out in the Bible (See, Scofield’s headnote to “Ephesians” and margin notes on his false “true church” doctrine). Some dispensationalists are so far off on so many Bible matters that one should avoid referring to them. Hyperdispensationalists are in the never-never land of interpretation. No matter whose work one studies, the standard should always be a literal study of the Word of God.

v16 Avoid empty chatter that has no value whatsoever. v17 “And their word will eat as doth a cankner: of whom is Hymenaeus and Pliletus.” These men apparently were apostates. v19 “Having this seal.” In the OT, De. 6.8, 9, God told His people to take His commandment on their hand, and write them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. This identified him as a worshiper of God. How about the believer today-how does he advertise for God? “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Separated from evil and separation unto Christ. The Lord knows his because he can look at the heart. However, the world can only look at his outward life.

2Ti.2.22A VESSEL (vv20-23)

vv20-21 A believer is pictured as a vessel. To be usable, a vessel must be clean. God does not use dirty vessels – not beautiful, but clean. v22. Again, God places together faith, love, and peace. v23 Avoid foolish and unlearned questions, because they gender strifes. We live in a world which is on fire. Lets get the Word of God to it before it is too late.

A SERVANT (vv24-26)

A believer is to be a servant, gentle to all men. The soldier was to fight, but the servant is not to fight. Is this a contradiction? No, it is a paradox. When you are standing for truth, you are to be definite and let men know where you stand. Don’t be a coward! It is said that silence is golden, but sometimes it is just yellow! “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” If you are trying to win a person to Christ, don’t argue with him. Just keep giving him the word of God.

v26 “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Chapter 3
(APOSTASY Coming; Authority of the Scriptures, 3.1-4.5)


v1 The apostasy that began in the church in Paul’s day will continue.Paul warned the church at Ephesus that false leaders would enter the church after his decrease. Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” They won’t get out the Word of God, but will fleece the church. False teachers sheer the sheep pretty close!

“Perilous time shall come.” This does not look like the conversion of the world, does it? The church, according to this, is not going to convert the world. The Bible does not teach that it will. Instead, look what is coming in the last days. We have nineteen different descriptions given in the next few verses. It is an ugly brood. It is the best scriptural picture of what is happening today. Again, there are 19 words or phrases used to describe the last days: (1) “Lovers of their own selves.” Examples: politicians, Hollywood, public schools (teach self-esteem or self-love), churches. Churches will follow teachers having itching ears (2 Ti. 4.3); these teachers want to be complimented, they want their ears scratched. To be complimented, you have to compliment. So they complement their church members and their boards of officers. They tell people how wonderful they are.

(2) “Covetous” (lovers of money and things. Lovers of self become lovers of money. The old nature likes a lot of money spent on it. (3) Boasters. A proud man walks like a peacock. (4) “Proud.” Haughty. (5) “Blasphemers.” (6) “Disobedient to parents.” (7) “Unthankful.” Some never thank others of God for kindnesses to them. (8) “Unholy.” This means profane. They are against God. (9) “Without natural affection.” This means abnormal relationships. Sodomy is accepted as natural by many today, even in so-called churches. See Romans 1.24. (10 “Trucebreakers” are people who are impossible to get along with. They will break their word to you. They won’t let you get along with them. (11) “False accusers.” (12) “Incontinent” means without self-control. (13) “Fierce” means savage. In our day, city streets have become asphalt jungles. (14) “Despisers of those who are good.” (15) “Traitors are betrayers.” You can’t trust them. (16) “Heady” means reckless. (17) Highminded” means blinded by pride or drunk with pride. (Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Never has there been a time when so much money has been spent in order to provide pleasure. This is the same road Rome took when it went down. Athletes are money hungry. I would rather watch, in general, a ditchdigger who loves the Lord. Billions are spent on entertainment. (19) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” They go through religious rituals but lack life and realinty. Avoid them. A believer in a dead liberal church get out of it – “from such turn away.”

v6 “Silly women.” v7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” v8 “Jannes and Jambres” were apparently names of the 2 magicians called in by Pharoah when Moses began the miracles and the plagues came upon Egypt. The names were revealed to Paul by the Spirit of God. We read of them in Exodus 7. The Exodus account reveals that Satan has power, super-natural power. Jannes and Jambres were able to perform miracles by the power of Satan. Satan can still imitate the power of God. 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” “Men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Those men have corrupt minds and have discarded the truth totally. For example, I know a man whom professed authority of God, but delved into the spiritualistic. He ended up rejecting the great truths of Scripture and setting himself against one of God’s churches with the intent of taking it over. Needless to say, God did not allow it. “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.”


vv10-11 Paul’s life was an open book, as should be that of every believer. Timothy knew well of Paul’s suffering at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.

vv12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. It will cost you something to be a Christian. Real Christians are becoming very unpopular in America. The media, secular and “Christian,” are their enemy. If a real Bible believer gets any press, it will be distorted and misrepresented.

v. 13 “But evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” “Seducers” are imposters.

vv14-15 The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God. Salvation comes in 3 tenses.  Timothy was already saved. I have been saved from sin. I am being saved from sin. I shall be saved from sin. Christ saves a believer. Then, he works out a salvation in us, but we won’t ever be perfected in this life. But there is coming a day shen “… it doth not yet appear what se shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him …” (1 Jn. 3.2). The Scriptures give us not only the modus operandi of being saved, but it saves us in this present evil world – enables us to grow and gives us deliverance down here. Dr. McGee contends that the constant study of the Word of God is the only help that any of us has.

v16. When Paul says, “All scripture,” he means all of it. The word “inspiration” means God-breathed. God used men with different personalities and thought patterns, yet got through exactly what He wanted to say. Through these men, God has given us His Word.

It “is profitable for doctrine,” for teaching. It is good “for reproof,” which means conviction. It is “form instruction,” which means discipline, thinking and acting in accordance with God’s will.

v17 “Perfect” doesn’t mean that you and I will reach the kind of perfection where absolutely everything we do is right. Rather, it means we will attain full maturation. We’ll be complete, full-grown people.

“Throughly furnished”–the Word of God can fit you out for life for every good work.

Chapter 4
(ALLEGIANCE to the Lord and of the Lord, 4.6-22)

In this chapter, Paul gives Timothy instructions for the last days. Then we will have Paul’s deathbed testimony, which are probably his last written words. We will detect his feeling of loneliness. He is in Rome, alone and incarcerated in that horrible Mamertine prison. He is cold and asks Timothy to bring his cloak. He is lonely and the hours are long. He asks Timothy to bring his books, especially the parchments.

But with the sadness and loneliness we will also hear a note of victory as Paul gives his final charge to his son in the faith. This is his final Word from God to you and me. If you are not prepared to accept this, I (Dr. McGee) doesn’t thing that He has anything more to say to you.

v1 A very solemn charge. Jesus Christ will judge the quick (the living) and the dead at his returning. Christ’s appearing and His kingdom will not happen at the same time. Christ will judge all believers at one time or another. Our lives are going to be tested to see if we are to receive a reward or not. Paul is saying to Timothy that, in view of the fact that you are going to stand before God to be judged, this is what you are to do.” This is what God is saying to believers right now.

v2 “Preach the word,” means to proclaim it, give it out, herald it. “Be instant [diligent] in season, out of season,” means at any time you can. Preach the Word, don’t just talk about it. Paul does not say to preach from the Word. He does not say to lift a verse from the Bible and then weave a sermon around it. Someone has well said that a text is a pretext that’s taken out of it’s context. We are not to preach about the Word of God or from the Word of God, but preach the Word of God itself.

“Be instant in season, out of season.” “Instant” mean diligent or, even better, urgent. There is a compulsion upon us. We should be chafing at the bit, ready to give out the Word of God. “In season, out of season” means any time of the day or night, any time of the year, under any and all circumstances.

“Reprove” it should be given with conviction. “Rebuke” actually means to threaten. “Exhort” means to comfort. Sometimes believers really need comfort. “With all longsuffering’ means that all of us who give out the Word of God need to exercise a great deal of patience. “Doctrine” means teaching.

v3 “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Few churches teach much doctrine. Most “churches” teach no Bible doctrine. Rather, most believers and churches “”After their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” To quote Dr. Marvin R. Vincent: “The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found.” “Having itching ears.” They don’t go to church to hear sound doctrine, but to delight their ears with the speaking or the voice or the plays. As Dr. Warren Wiersbe has said, “They want religious entertainment from Christian performers who will tickle their ears. … The man who simply opens the Bible is rejected while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity.”

v4. They want lies, not the truth. They want to be entertained. When one preaches the Word of God, he steps on toes.

v5 In Paul’s day, an evangelist was a traveling teacher, a missionary. Paul was an evangelist in that sense, and he tells Timothy to also do the work of an evangelist.



“I am now ready to be offered.” Paul would be beheaded in an execution room, a bloody spectacle. Paul’s life is being poured out as a libation, a drink offering. Paul used that figure of speech before in this letter to the Philippians, when he was arrested for the first time and thought death was before him. Philippians 2:17: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” He wanted his life to be poured out.

What was the drink offering? There were not specific instructions given by God to the Israelites concerning the drink offering. However, it is mentioned again and again in Exodus and Leviticus. The wine was poured over the sacrifice which, of course, was really hot because it was on a brazen altar with fire underneath it. The drink offering would go up in steam. It would just evaporate and disappear. That is exactly what Paul is saying here: “I have just poured out my life as a drink offering on the sacrifice of Christ. It has been nothing for me, but everything for Him.” Paul’s life would soon disappear, and all that could be seen was Christ. So many Christians try to be remembered by having their names chiseled in stone or by having a building named in their memory. Paul was not interested in that type of thing. Christ, not Paul, is the One who is to be exalted.

Paul’s epitaph is divided into two sections. The first is retrospect, in which Paul looks back on his earthly life–this is right before he was executed. Then the second part of the epitaph is the prospect. He looks forward to eternal life. The earthly life and the eternal life are separated by what we call death down here.


Paul sums up his life in three different ways: “I have fought the good fight.” He has been a soldier, a good soldier. Every Christian should be a defender of the Word of God and stand for the great truths of the Bible.

“I have finished my course.” Life is not only a battle, life is a race. Paul was a disciplined athlete who was striving to win the prize. During the race, Paul kept his body under subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Paul, at the end of his life, had touched all the bases; he had completed all that God had planned for Him.

“I have kept the faith.” Life has been a trust from God, and he had been a good steward. He had kept the faith. He had never veered from the great truths and doctrines in the Word of God.

“My departure is at hand.” Believers at the rapture will not depart through the doorway of death.Paul will be “untied” or “unloosed.” Paul is saying that he has been “tied down to the harbor.” That is what life is – we haven’t been anywhere yet: we’ve just been tied to this little earth. Death is a release for the child of God. Going off to be with Christ will be a great release for the believer.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” Here, Paul is looking forward to the future. He is expecting a crown of righteousness. A crown is a reward. Dr. McGee does not think it has been given to him yet.

Several crowns are mentioned in the New Testament.

The athlete’s crown for being a winner on the racetrack of life. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ‘Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

The soul-winner’s crown mentioned in Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”

“A crown of righteousness,” the reward for a righteous life.

“Unto them also that love his appearing” does not refer to the doctrine you hold regarding His appearing (premillennialist, postmillennialist, or amillennialist). The question is: Do you love His appearing? This means you have to love Him. Do you have a close relationship with Him. Have you ever told Him you love Him?


v9 These words reflect that Paul is lonesome.

v10. Demas took off because he couldn’t stand the heat.

“Titus unto Dalmatia. I don’t know if these other brethren had a legitimate excuse for leaving Paul, but I think Titus did.

v11 Only Luke stood by Paul clear to the end.Paul had been wrong about Mark, and now he was able to say that Mark was profitable to him in his ministry.

v12 Paul sent Tychicus back to Ephesus because he was the pastor of the church there.

v13 Paul asks for his cloak or coat he had left at Troas. This reveals a little of Paul’s suffering. In May and June, it is cold in that prison.

“And the books, but especially the parchments.” He needed something for his mind.

v14-15 Alexander’s “reward” won’t be what Alexander would consider a reward! v15 Paul warns Timothy to be on guard against him. He is one of those laymen who will soft-soap you, then put a knife in you when you turn your back. Watch out for him.

v16 “At my first answer” was either the preliminary hearing which opened Paul’s final trial, or it was his first trial in Rome three years earlier. Paul was alone at that time.

v17 Now Paul is asking something for his spirit (as he had already asked for something for his body, for his mind (books and parchments). All of us have needs in these three areas. He was alone, but the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” as he said.

“I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Sparred execution at that time.

v18 Paul knew he was going to be translated to heaven.

vv19-21 Paul concludes this personal letter with references to mutual friends. He urges Timothy to come, and to come before winter. This continues the tremendous swan song of the Apostle Paul.



1 Timothy

1 Timothy

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church from other books of the Bible.



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 1 Timothy. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: 1 Timothy

DATE. One commentator notes: “The date of 1 Timothy turns upon the question of the two imprisonments of Paul. If there were two, then it is clear that 1 Timothy was written during the interval. If Paul endured but one Roman imprisonment, the Epistle was written shortly before Paul’s last journeyed to Jerusalem.”


1 Timothy is a book about church order.

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus belong together. They are called “The Pastoral Epistles” because they have to do with local churches. These pastoral epistles are in contrast to, for example, the epistle to the Ephesians. There, Paul speaks of the church as a body of believers who are in Christ and the glorious, wonderful position that the church has. The institution of the church is made up down here on earth in local assemblies, in the local churches.

For a church to be a New Testament church, there must be certain identifying features. A local church must manifest itself in a certain way in order to meet the requirements of a church of the Lord Jesus. For one thing, she must be under the Lord Jesus only.

The three epistles were written to two young preachers who worked with Paul—Timothy and Titus. They were part of his fruit. They were led to the Lord through his ministry. He had these men with him as helpers, and he instructed them as to the local church.

In these epistles Paul deals with (1) the creed of a church and (2) the conduct of a church. For the church within, the worship must be right. For the church outside, good works must be manifested. Worship is inside; works are outside.

In 1 Timothy, chapter 1 deals with faith, the faith of a church, its doctrine. Chapter 2 is the order of a church. Chapter 3 concerns the officers of a church. Chapter 4 describes the coming apostasy. Chapters 5 and 6 tell of the duties of the officers.

In 2 Timothy, Paul deals with the afflictions of a church in chapter 1 and the activity of a church in chapter 2. Then the apostasy of the church and the allegiance of the church in chapters 3 and 4.

So there is creed on the inside of a church and conduct on the outside. Within is worship and without is good works.

In Paul’s day a church, the local assembly, did not have a building. They generally met in homes and probably in public buildings. In Ephesus Paul used—probably rented—the school of Tyrannus.

In order to be a local assembly, a church must have certain things that characterize it. It must have a creed, and its doctrine must be accurate. Two verses summarize Paul’s message in these epistles:

“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Ti. 1.3).

A church must also have correct doctrine:

1 Timothy 3.15

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15).

A local church is made of believers who are members of the body of Christ. They need leadership and they need someone to sweep the building and turn on the heat and cooling. There must be officers who must meet certain requirements. The church should function in an orderly manner and manifest itself in the community by its good works.

Paul tries to convey in these epistles that the men who are officers must be spiritual. No system will function unless the men who are in the place and position of authority are right. If they are wrong, the system will not work.

Paul emphasizes 2 aspects of the spiritual officer: he must be a man of faith, and he must be motivated by love. Without those two, the officer can’t function no matter how much ability he has.

What this means is that the authority of officers is no authority at all. He means that Christ is the Head of the church, and the Holy Spirit is the One to give the leading and guiding in the direction. The officer is never to assert his will in anything. He is to find out what the will of God is. That means he will have to be a man of faith.

He will also have to be motivated by love. That does not mean he is to be a man-pleaser. That means he is to carry through the will of Christ in the church. It is his job to make sure Christ is the Head of the church. How many officers of churches think they are spiritual but have no idea that they are to carry out the will of Christ, probably because they never sought the will of Christ. Such men attempt to serve their own wills because they think their wills are right.

Christ is the head of a local church. In the first verse, Pauls says, “the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the Lord. That means He is Number One.  He said, “You call me Lord, Lord, and you do not the things I command.” A lot of people call him “Lord” today in churches, and they are not following Him at all. Church officers are to carry through the will of Christ, His Commandments, His desires, and His principles.

Dr. McGee did not think organization of a church  mattered as long as the men were right. However, the men cannot be totally right if church method and organization violate Bible principles. For example, a spiritual man cannot operate totally spiritually in a church which is organized according to man’s, not God’s, principles. And departure from God’s principles starts a downhill slide toward apostasy. A church organized as a legal entity (corporation, 501c3, 508, unincorporated association, etc.) does not have the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church and cannot be a New Testament church.


I. THE FAITH of a Church, Chapter 1
A. Introduction vv. 1, 2
B. Warning Against Unsound Doctrine, vv. 3-10
C. Personal Testimony of Paul, vv. 11-17
D. Charge to Timothy, vv. 18-20

II. PUBLIC PRAYER and WOMAN’S PLACE in the Churches, Chapter 2
A. Public Prayer for the Public and Public Officials, vv. 1-7
B. How Men Are to Pray, v. 8
C. How Women Are to Pray, vv. 9-15

 III. OFFICERS in a Church, Chapter 3
 A.Requirements for Elders, vv. 1-7
B. Requirements for Deacons, vv. 8-13
C. Report of Paul to Timothy, vv. 14-16

IV. APOSTASY in the Church, Chapter 4
A. How to Recognize Apostates, vv. 1-5
B. What the “good Minister” Can Do in times of Apostasy, vv. 6-16

V. DUTIES of OFFICERS of the Churches, Chapters 5, 6
A. Relationship of Ministers to Different Groups in the Local Church, Chapter 5
B. Relationship of Believers to Others, Chapter 6


Chapter 1
(The faith of a church)

The emphasis here is a warning against false teachers in the local church. the gospel of the grace of God is central in doctrine and concerns the person of Christ. At first, the apostles regulated church order, soundness of faith, and discipline. The approaching of the end of the apostolic period made necessary that a clear revelation should be made for guidance of the churches. In chapter 1, legalism and unsound teaching are rebuked.

1_Ti.1.1-2INTRODUCTION (vv1, 2)

vv1, 2 Paul asserts his apostleship “by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.In Ep. 1.1 he says, “Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” The commandment and will of God are the same, but not exactly synonymous. All the commandments in the Bible reveal the will of God. [E.g., pray (1 Thess. 5.17, 18; etc.]. However, since we don’t have the sum total of the commandments in Scripture, the will of God is a much broader term than the commandment of God. Remember, man is not saved by obedience to the will of God.

God found a way that HE might  be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Acts 13:38-39  “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” The law of Moses was a ministration of death; the law condemned them. The law wasn’t given to save us, but to reveal that God is holy and that you and I are not holy. The way God saves us in the way of the cross. Christ is the way.

God commanded Paul to be an apostle. He was a soldier under orders—not by commission, but by commandment. No one laid hands on Paul and made him and apostle. The Lord Jesus personally gave him the authority. Jeremiah had this same kind of authority.

Any man who is going to speak for God today needs to do it with authority or he ought to keep quiet. Paul spoke with the authority of God.

“And the Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” The only other time the Bible says Christ is our hope is in Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Jesus died to save you. He lives to keep you saved. Some day his will take you to be with Himself and consummate the salvation. He is our faith when we look backwards; He is love when we look around us today; and He is our hope as we look ahead. But it is hope all the way through life.

Timothy (the Greek means “dear to God.”)  was dear to God and to the apostle Paul. We read of Timothy in Acts, Ephesians, and Philippians. He had a good reputation. Acts 16:2-5 “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” As he worked with Paul, he became one in whom Paul had the utmost confidence, while others in the churches proved to be false brethren who deceived him.

Pastors need loyal, faithful friends in the churches they pastor. Paul had those he did not trust, but he trusted Timothy. Philippians 2:19-23 “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”

Paul led Timothy to the Lord and they were very close.

“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul has used grace and peace before in his intros. but we have another word here: mercy. It was the Old Testament sacrifice that made the holy and righteous and just throne of God into a mercy seat.

When one comes to God, he does not want justice—justice condemns a man before God. He needs mercy. God is rich in mercy, but He saves you by His grace. God is merciful to everyone, but one must come to Him by faith. Then God will save you by His Grace.

Grace, mercy, and peace is a little trinity. Love is that in God which existed before He could care to exercise mercy or grace. God is love; Mercy is that in God which provided for the need of sinful man. Grace then is that in Him which acts freely to save because all the demands of holiness have been satisfied. Therefore, because God is merciful, you can come to Him, and by His grace He’ll save you. You cannot bring anything, because it would only be filthy rags to God.

A do-gooder things he does not need the mercy of God, that his own good works will save him. A do-good salvation will do you no good when you need it. The salvation God provides will enable you to do good, the kind of good which is acceptable to Him.

So 1 Timothy is intimate and personal, but it also has to do with the affairs of the local church, the body of believers as it manifests itself in the community.  Every believer should be a member of a local New Testament church.

“God our Father.” God is Paul’s, Timothy’s, every believer’s Father. Believers are all part of the family of God.

“Jesus Christ our Lord..” Anything that is done in the local church needs to be done in the name of Christ and at His command. He is the head of the church; He’s the Lord.



Your creed must be right before your conduct can be right. It is almost an impossibility to think wrong and act right.

v3 Paul wrote the Galatians that there was no other gospel. The Judaizers there were preaching another gospel. Paul said there was one gospel and that there is one doctrine. How does that fit your postmodern Christianity, your Catholicism, your Protestantism, your Mormonism, your JWism, etc.?

Doctrine means the teaching of the local church. Following the Day of Pentecost, it is recorded that “they continued in the apostles’ doctrine. (1) The apostles’ doctrine, (2) fellowship, (3) prayers, and (4) the breaking of bread, or the Lord’s Supper are four fingerprints of a New Testament church. A church is not a true church of Christ if its doctrine is not the apostles’ doctrine. By the way, the apostles’ doctrine covers many things to the church.

There are non-essentials which believers and churches can disagree on without losing fellowship. However, we must hold to the apostles’ doctrine, basic truths of the faith such as the doctrines of the church, separation of church and state, the deity of Christ (Paul was absolutely clear on this; for example, see verse 1), repentance, faith, believer’s baptism

Paul explains he has left Timothy in Ephesus as he is in Macedonia. If the teaching of a church is not right, it is not a church. Timothy was to remind the Ephesians to teach no other doctrine.

v4 “Neither give heed to fables” (myths). Ephesus was heartland to the mystery religions of that day, all based on myths. This could possibly mean the philosophy of Philo, an outstanding and brilliant Israelite who spiritualized the Old Testament; e.g., he taught that the book of Genesis is a myth. Religious modernism is not new. 

“Endless geneologies” could refer to the false teaching that the church is just a continuation of Judaism, that it is just one genealogy following another and not a matter of God dealing with man in different dispensations.

Also, the Greeks at that time were teaching demiurge, a teaching which became a part of the first heresy within churches which was gnosticism. They taught that there are emanations from a divine center. The original created a creature, and the creature created another creature below him, and he created another, and then another, and so on down the line. They wanted to fit Jesus somewhere along that line as one of the created creatures. (Is this similar to Mormonism?)

“Which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.”

v5 “Charity out of a pure heart.” Paul again uses intimate expressions in writing to this young preacher that you will not find in his epistles to the churches. He tells Timothy that what is taught in a church should produce love out of a pure heart.  A “pure heart” is in contrast to our old nature.

Three things should manifest in a church: (1) Faith (in God and in His Word). (2) Love (active concern for others which means you won’t gossip about them or in any way bring harm to them. Faith and love should be lived out in the life of a church. Love for the Lord Jesus is utmost, followed by love for others. A church who organizes ever partially under another head (incorporation, 501c3, etc.) does not love the Lord Jesus. Don’t talk about love if you betray the Lord. Love is action. (3) “A good conscience.” Don’t disregard you conscience when it tells you you have wronged another. These three wonderful graces should be manifested by believers in a local church.

v6 “Vain jangling” means empty chatter, beautiful words, flowery language. Some people will butter you up and pat you on the back, but it means nothing. It is all just talk, and sometimes may be the result of ulterior and impure motives.

v7 There are those who teach error, and they do it with assurance. They reject the Word of God and do not know what they are talking about.

v8 Now Paul warns against legalists who taught that the law is a means of salvation and sanctification after salvation.

The law condemns us. It reveals to man that he is a sinner in need of a Saviour.  Under it, the best man in the world is absolutely condemned, but under the gospel, the worst man can be justified if he will believe in Christ. The sinner cannot please God (is unable to do good works): “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8.8). No man can meet God’s standard.

Good works cannot produce salvation, but salvation can produce good works. One is saved unto good works. See Ep. 2.8-10.

“we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” The law reveals the will of God–it is morally excellent.

vv9, 10 The law was not given to the righteous man, the one who has been made righteous because of his faith in Christ. “Thou shalt not kill” is given to the lost, the murderer at heart. The law is for “whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons….” God brings those who have repented toward God and turned to Christ in faith for salvation from their sins into the family of God and to a plane of living higher even than that given in the law. Those who are saved are above and beyond the law. The law is given to control the old nature, the flesh. Under law, man never kept it, he couldn’t measure up to it, and he broke it continually. Under grace, a man is brought into the family of God, and he is not going to murder or lie. If he does, he is out of fellowship with God; the Holy Spirit within him is grieved.

“Any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Paul adds this in case he had left out something. It covers any and all sin he may have omitted in his list.


v11 The gospel of the blessed God was committed to Paul’s trust.

v12 Paul emphasizes the Lordship of Christ. “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” All believers are in the ministry. Every believer has some service to perform for the Lord.

v13 Paul before was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious. But he “obtained mercy, because [he] did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

v14 “Christ came into the world to save sinners.” When you give your testimony, don’t tell people how wonderful you are or all you have accomplished. “Of whom I am chief.”

v15 He needed mercy to become a minister. “That in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pettern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

v17 This is a tremendous doxology “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.” To Him, “be honour and glory for ever and ever.” Again, Paul teaches the deity of Christ, the “King eternal” is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the “only wise God.”


v18 This charge to “son Timothy” is not only practical, but also reveals a wonderful personal relationship. Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. “According to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare. You should never fight a warfare if your heart is not in it, unless you are fighting for a real cause and intend to get the victory. Paul did not want Timothy to make a shipwreck of the faith as others were doing.

v19 “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” There is a real danger for us in our human inconsistencies and failures. We are not living in an ivory tower, as some Christians think they are. But for those who are walking the sidewalks and rubbing shoulders with rough humanity and the problems of the world, we find that there are inconsistencies and failures in our lives. The danger we face is accomodating our faith to the world. When we fail, when there is an inconsistency in our lives, we ought to go to Him and tell Him that we have fallen short and haven’t measured up.

v20 2 Examples of apostates (Hymenaeus and Alexander) whom Paul mentions elsewhere and doesn’t have much good to say about either one of them. 2 Timothy 4:14: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works.”

“Whom I have delivered unto Satan.” Paul was exercising what was his prerogative and position as an apostle. This is an authority the apostles had which we do not have. See 1 Co. 5.3-5; see also, for the authority of an apostle, Ac. 5.1-11 (Ananias and Sapphira).

Chapter 2
(Public prayer and woman’s place in the churches)

1_Ti.2.1-2Public prayer is prayer for the public and for public officials. This prayer is to be made in the assembly, within the homes and/or privacy of believers. See vv1, 2. Many years ago, a famous Senate chaplin was asked “Do you pray for the senators?” He replied, “No, I look at the senators, and then I pray for the public.” That is what Paul says we should do.

“That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Any government is better than no government. An evil, corrupt government, if it really governs, is better than anarchy. Even today in America, there remains a semblance of law and order. Civil government was ordained by God to control evil men. We ought to give thanks for it. Many of us fall short of praying for our government in order that we might continue to live quietly and peaceably. For more on this, see The Biblical Doctrine of Government.

vv3, 4 A second reason we should pray for government is in order that the gospel might continue to go out to the lost. Paul was beginning to suffer persecution by civil government leaders, and he said they were to pray for them. It was “good and acceptable in the sight of God” for them to pray for them. Why? Because it was God’s will that all men be saved.

Dr. McGee does not believe that any true pastor is called to recommend a candidate for office.   He believes we are to pray for those in office. He wants, as I do, a man in office who is going to make it possible for the Word of God to continue to be given to the lost.

v5 “For there is one God.” The Romans worshipped many gods. Today people worship many gods. For some, their gods are pleasure, entertainment, etc.

“And one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In the Old Testament, Israelites went to the temple and could go to God through many priests. Now, there is only one mediator, and He is not a human being down here.

We need a mediator, and we have one, the great High Priest. He is God and is able to save to the uttermost. He has also become man and can hold my hand. He understands me. He is a daysman, a Mediator. He puts His hand in mine. He also holds on to God because He is God. Christ is the only way. He will bring you right through to God if you will turn to Him.

v6 You and I were lost sinners and Christ was the ransom, the “redemption price.”

v7 Paul says he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle.” He is also the one to teach the Gentiles.


v8 “Pray everywhere, holding up holy hands.” This was practiced in the early church. It revealed the dedication in the lives of those praying. “Without wrath”–all sins have been confessed. Don’t come in prayer with anger in your heart, or a bitter spirit, but with all your sins confessed. “Without doubting.” Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” We are to come to God in prayer in faith.


vv 9-16 One note on this: A woman, brought sin into the world, but a woman also brought the Lord Jesus, the Saviour into the world. No man provided a Saviour, a woman did. However, each individual woman is saved by faith, the same as for a man. A woman is to grow in love and holiness just as a man is.

Chapter 3
(Officers in the churches)


v1 In the early church, the pastor was never called “reverend.” He was called (1) a presbyter or elder; (2) pastor or shepherd; (3) bishop, or an overseer; (4) a minister. “Reverend” means terrible, or that which incites terror. It is a name which applies only to God. Dr. McGee’s position is that elder and bishop refer to the same person; that elder refers to the person who holds the office and that bishop refers to the office that is held. A bishop in the early churches never had authority over other bishops or elders or over churches. Even Paul never referred to himself as the bishop of a church. Therefore, according to Dr. McGee, the minister is one who is to serve the church, not rule over it.

In v2 we are given the positive requirements of an elder. An elder must be blameless in that he will not be guilty of anything that he might be accused of. Dr. McGee says he was accused of many things, but was guilty of none; and he did not answer the false accusers and accusations. Dr. McGee believes “husband of one wife” means that the pastor is to be married. He believes Paul’s wife had died. Dr. McGee believes that the primary meaning of this verse is that the bishop or elder is not to have 2 wives. Polygamy was common in Paul’s day. “Vigilant” means temperate. “Sober” means sober minded or serious. He means business. This does not mean that he cannot have a sense of humor. “Of good behavior”: orderly in conduct; not doing questionable things. “Given to hospitality”: the type of fellow who invites others out to lunch. “Apt to teach.”

v3 negative qualifications.

v4 has the authority over his own home, without being a dictator.

v6 Not a (novice) recent convert lest lifted up with pride he falls into the condemnation of the devil.

v7 Good report of those who are without (lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. If he has a bad reputation outside the church (does not pay his bills, is untrustworthy, or is a liar) he is not a candidate to be an officer in the church; he is really a candidate of the devil.


Deacon or minister is a general term for servant or worker. In v9 “the mystery of the faith” means the revelation of the gospel of Christ. The early church “continued in the apostles’ doctrine.” The apostles’ doctrine was “the faith” of the early churches, as it should be for all churches since. v10: “Let these also first be proved.”

v11 deals with wives of deacons.


1Ti.3.16v15 is the key verse of the epistle: 1 Timothy 3:15 “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” If the officers of a church do not represent the truth, the church has no foundation, no prop, and it cannot hold up the truth of God.

v16 probably constitutes on of the earliest creeds of the church. 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Jesus was God in the flesh. He was manifest in the flesh, but justified or vindicated in the Spirit in His resurrection (“sown a natural body; raised a spiritual body.”).

Chapter 4
(Apostasy in the churches)


v1 “That in the latter times.” Dr. McGee feels that this refers to the days of the churches beginning immediately after the life of Paul. The apostasy had begun even at that time. While Paul was at Ephesus, he had warned them that there would come wolves in sheep’s clothing that would deceive the believers. The first great church was the Coptic church in Africa. That church went off into heresy and departed from the faith. The “latter times” here does not have the 2nd coming of Christ in view; Paul was speaking of what lay just ahead for the church in his day.

“Some shall depart from the faith.” Heretical teachers will mislead a great company of people. Apostasy has grown and will continue to grow.

“Depart” means to stand away from. Those who apostatize are ones who have professed at one time to hold to the faith, but now they have departed from it. Thus, there cannot be an apostasy in paganism, since pagans never professed to hold to the faith. The apostasy comes from within organized churches among those who profess to the faith and then depart from it.

“Giving heed to seducing spirits.” “Seducing” means wandering, roving and it comes from the word vagabond or deceiver or seducer. Satan is all those things. They give heed to satanic spirits.

“Doctrines of devils.” Christians are told to “try the spirits whether they are of God” because there have gone out into the world these seducing spirits (1 Jn. 4.1). The test that we should apply is the creed in 1 Ti. 3.16: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit.” The only way of salvation is through the death of Christ, and it is by this truth we can test the doctrines of demons today.

There is a small segment of those who claim to be believers who are placing a great emphasis on demonism. They are very interested in the subject and are reading everything they can about it. I think that we are seeing a real manifestation of the spirit world today, but the best thing you and I can do regarding the devil is show him a clean pair of heels. We should not be a bunch of heels, sticking around and getting ourselves involved in all of this. Paul warns us against being seduced by the doctrines of demons. We should stay clear of them, testing each spirit by its acknowledgment that God was manifest in the flesh and that we are justified by the redemption he wrought for us on the cross.

v 2“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” The apostate will pretend to be very pious and very religious. Dr. McGee says he has come to be very suspicious of this pious position taken by super-duper saints who claim to have something special. The truth will make you humble, because the first thing you will find out is how little you know.

“Having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Believers should be tenderhearted. There is far too much talk about sex in many churches today. Some things happening in churches, says Dr. McGee who passed away in 1988, that made his hair curl; things are being said and done, he says, that could be done unless your conscience has been seared with a hot iron and you have gotten away from the Word of God. [Note. We saw that with Jack Schaap at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana and many other churches, past and present.] It is important in the plan and purpose of God that a church have a tender conscience and not stoop to such low levels.


v6 “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things.” Timothy is to warn believers about the apostasy and false teachings that were to come into the church.  “Thous shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” Paul has in mind Timothy, a teacher of the Word of God. All believers are ministers. “Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.”  This is how a believer grows.  “Whereunto thou has attained.” Paul said Timothy had attained unto the things he mentioned and commended him for it.

Paul will not mention more things Timothy should avoid: v7 “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” “And exercise thyself unto godliness.” v8. “For bodily exercise profiteth little.” It took a rugged individual to do all the walking Paul did. He is not downgrading physical exercise. His emphasis on physical exercise is because the Ephesians were a people given over to games and athletics. America is that kind of nation. Put things in the right perspective. “But godliness is profitable unto all things.” Once we get our new body, it won’t matter whether you’ve exercised this earthly body or not. Godliness pays off in eternity.  A Christian who lives a careless rather than a godly one will pay for it even in eternity. The physical ends with the end of this life, but godliness is carried over to the next.

v9 emphasizes the polint Paul just made.

v10 “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach.” It will cost you something to stand for Jesus. “Who is the Saviour of all men.” “Specially of those that believe.” You can turn Him down if you want to. Christ is the Saviour of all men, but only those who believe will be saved (See Jn. 3.16, 1 Jn. 2.2).

v11 “These things command and teach. v12 “Let no man despise thy youth.” Timothy was young. “But be thou an example of the believers.” Timothy could keep people from despising his youth by not acting like a young fool. The important thing is not your age but whether you are an example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

v12 “Til I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” One can grow only by reading the Word of God. A growing minister will make a growing church. We are to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. The only way to do so is by reading the Word.

v14 “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” The Spirit of God gives every believer a gift. “Which was given thee by prophecy.” Paul had predicted what this young man would do. “With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” Laying on of hands never communicates anything; it indicates partnership in the ministry. Every minister who is ordained should have hands put on him. by those who are partners with him; this is quite meaningful.

v15 “Meditate on these things.” Be diligent in your study. There is no excuse for a Christian not to study the Word of God. “Give thyself wholly to them.” Reading and studying the Word of God means more than reading a chapter with one eye closed and one both feet in bed or in the morning when you are half awake. You would not study mathematics, science or some other secular subject like that. The Word of God is worth of all you can give it, and we can never give it as much as we should have. “That thy profiting may appear to all.”

v16 1 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” God have mercy on the minister who is not giving out the Word of God. That is a frightful sin. It would be better to be a gangster that to be a man who is supposed to give out the Word of God and does not.

Chapter 5
(Duties of the officers in the churches-Chapter 6 also deals with this matter)

1Ti.5.1-4v1 “An elder.” In the early church the “elder” was an office, but the word used here refers to the individual. Dr. McGee believes he has both aspects in mind: the mature child of God, and a man who occupied a certain office. Paul means both for the simple fact that an elder was an elder–an older man.

“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.” Timothy was not to rebuke and elder puclicly, but he was to entreat him privately. Timothy, a young man, was to be very tactful  in his relationship to these older men. He was not to take the position of a know-it-all or of a dictator over these older men. He was to encourage them and have a world privately with them if he though it was necessary.

“And the younger men as brethren.”

v2 “With all purity.” A minister of a church should be very careful with his relationships with the opposite sex. Nothing can destroy the spiritual life of a church more than this kind of experience. The new morality cannot and will not work in a church.

v3 Paul now speaks to the Pastor’s relationship with widows. “Honour.” The thought is of value being attached to something. The early churches were very careful to take care of their widows. “Honour widows that are widows indeed.” The churches were not to honour widows haphazardly or sentimentally. The deacons were to investigate to see who were truly widows, where the need was, and how much need there was.

1Ti.5.8Paul now goes into this in specific detail in vv4-16. v8 The widow is to be taken care of by his own flesh and blood. v9 Widows under 60 could still work. v10 Before helping a widow, check out her past to make sure she meets these standards. Don’t help everyone who comes along. v16 Each family should support their own widows, so the church can concentrate on widows who are without family and are in real need.

v17 The early church took financial care of their teachers, the good teachers a little more.

v18 Paul quotes from De. 25.4 and Luke 10.7.

v19. The pastor and every member of the church should refuse to let anyone whisper into his ear any gossip about the pastor or a church officer. People should prove their accusations by at least 2 witnesses. You should have the facts before you talk. When you have the facts, you should seek to correct the problem by going to the proper authorities.

v20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Dr. McGee believes that if a church member sins and it does not concern the church body, it should never be brought out into the open, nor should it be confessed publicly. However, when a leader of the church, an officer in the church, sins, and it has hurt the church, then it is time to call names. It may also be time to drop his name from the roll of membership. Great harm can be done to a church by sin in the life of its leaders, and this is the way it should be dealt with.

v21 Timothy is to treat everyone in the church alike. Even if the man has given him money or gifts.

v22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” Officers are to be installed by the laying on of hands (1 Ti. 4.14). Laying on of hands indicates partnership in the ministry. “Suddenly”: not to be done to a neophyte, someone recently converted. If we exalt a young Christian to the position of a teacher before he is thoroughly grounded in the Word, the theology he teaches is apt to be weird theology. The Word is to be taught by men who are built up in the faith. Our mistake is that we often interpret some sort of experience as being the test of spiritual maturity. An experience that contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible is not from God at all. There were many young converts in the Ephesus area and it was serious business for Timothy to select the teachers and appoint them to teach the Word of God.

“Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” In other words, “Don’t compromise, Timothy. Don’t let someone talk you into letting a young convert teach. You will be a partner in sin if you do. Make sure the teachers are anchored in the Word of God.

v23 Use wine as a medicine for your stomach’s sake and other infirmities.

v24 Some men’s sins are judged here and now. But if God doesn’t judge him immediately it doesn’t mean he is not going to judge. Paul wrote to the Corinthians where there were some who were not commemorating the Lord’s Supper in the proper manner. He said, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 co. 11.30). Paul went on to say, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” (1 Co. 11.31). When a Christian sins, he should judge himself. Not just feel sorry for his sin but deal with it. If he has hurt somebody, he is to make it right, and turn from that sin. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Co. 11.32). God judges the world. A believer will judge himself, or God will judge him. If you judge yourself, it is settled. If not, He will judge, either in the here and now or before the judgment seat of Christ.

v25 The same principle applies to good works.

Chapter 6
(Duties of officers in the churches concluded)


vv1-2 “Servants.” Paul deals with the relationship of capital and labor. The Christian should render a full day’s work for whomever he is working. If he has a Christian boss, it brings the relationship to a new level above any kind of contract. They are brethren. Yes, Christianity gets out into the workshop.

vv3-5 There are some proud men in the ministry, and they cause  trouble. Pride always causes trouble. Pride is a constant danger–pride of place, pride of race, pride of face, pride of grace. Some people are even proud they have been saved by the grace of God. But Christians have plenty to be humble about–we have a very sordid and sorry background. We are saved by the grace of God.

1Ti.6.7v6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

v7 A rich man died. The heirs asked how much he left. The answer, “He left it all.”

vv8-9 Riches will not bring satisfaction.

v10 The love of money [not money] is the root of all evil.

1_Ti.6.11-12v11 This lists the virtues a man of God should pursue.

v12 “Fight the good fight of faith., lay hold on eternal life,…” Make sure it is clear you are a child of God.




A Study of 2 Thessalonians

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Click here to go to study of 1 Thessalonians



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 2 Thessalonians. This study is taken from that book. I have made modifications since I do not believe in Dr. McGee’s timing of the Rapture and some other details. The study is also available online in audio at: 2 Thessalonians

DATE A.D. 52-53. The second epistle followed shortly after the first epistle.


Paul’s first letter had given rise to further questions, and Paul is attempting to answer them in his second letter. There was circulating in the Thessalonian church a letter or report, purported to have come from Paul, which was inclined to disturb the Christians. This false report claimed that Christ had already come and had already gathered out the church to Himself, and that the world was then living in the judgments of the “day of the Lord.” These people were being persecuted as was shown in the first epistle. They were suffering for the Gospel’s sake, and it was easy for them to believe that they had entered the great tribulation period, and that all of the believers (not only the dead) had missed the Rapture. Paul attempts to allay their fears by writing this epistle and stating definitely that “our gathering together unto him” is yet future” (2 Thess. 2.1), and that “the day of the Lord” has certain forerunners which must come first: the apostasy and the “man of sin” must come first. Therefore they could reasonably believe they were not in the great tribulation.

Paul says that the outward organization of the professing church is going to go into total apostasy. The Lord asked, in a way that indicated a negative answer, “… when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” He will not find faith when He comes again. The organized churches will be in total apostasy. The organized “church” is the great harlot in Revelation 17.

The time of the great tribulation and the pouring out of the wrath of God to follow will be “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24.21). After the great tribulation, “shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt. 24:30-31).


2 Thessalonians emphasizes the return of Christ in Judgment and His setting up of His kingdom here on earth.

The hope of the Old Testament saints was an earthly hope. They were looking for their Messiah to come and establish a kingdom here upon this earth—which would be heaven on earth.


I. PERSECUTION of Believers Now;
     Judgment of Unbelievers Hereafter (at the coming of Christ), 1.1-12

  1. Introduction, 1.1, 2
  2. Persecution of believers and Fruits of It, 1.3-7
  3. Judgment of Wicked at Coming of Christ, 1.8-12

II. PROGRAM for World in Connection with Coming of Christ, 2.1-12

1. Rapture
2. Day of the Lord; Introduced by Total Apostasy and Appearance of Man of Sin, 2.2-5
3. Mystery of Iniquity Working Today; Man of Sin Restrained by the Holy Spirit, 2.6-8
4. Lawless One to Appear in Great Tribulation Period, 2.9-12

III. PRACTICALITY of Coming of Christ, 2.13-3.18

1. Believers Should Be Established in Word, 2.13-17.
2. Believers Should Be Established in Walk, 3.1-7
3. Believers Should Be Established in Work, 3.8-18


Chapter 1
(Persecution of believers now and
judgment of unbelievers hereafter (at the coming of Christ))

v1.1: Paul identifies two of his co-workers who are brethren with him. This tells us something about Paul’s character. A man who had been a proud young Pharisee had become an humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and a servant and apostle of His. “Unto the church of the Thessalonians.” Paul believed in the local church. The position of that church was “in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This makes a true local church very important. Members of a true New Testament church can manifest Christ (since the Holy Spirit indwells the members) in the local neighborhood, in the community, in the town, the state, the nation, and the world showing forth the life of God. Paul had no doubt about the deity of Christ. Not all “churches” are “in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

v1.2 Grace comes first. One who is saved has experienced the grace of God. Salvation is God offering you, a hell bound sinner, the gift (you pay or do nothing for a gift) eternal life if you trust Christ. That is grace.

“Peace.” It is the peace that comes when you know that your sins are forgiven. Peace comes only from a supernatural source—from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”; it is supernatural.


vv3,4. “Charity” here is love, God’s kind of love. In verses 3-4 we have that little trinity that Paul uses: faith, love, and patience. This again is the work of faith” which Paul mentions in 1 Thess. 1.3. Saving faith produces works, and it will produce a love in the heart for God’s children. If you are a child of god, you will have to love me whether or not you want to, and I’m going to have the love you. It is a wonderful arrangement as long as God’s children honor it. It hurts deeply the heart of a loving believer when a brother or sister does not love him/her.

The “patience in v 4 is not the patience of waiting in a traffic jam, or waiting for a light to turn green. It is the patience that is willing to live for God and accept whatever He sends your way, knowing that all things do work together for good. It is the patience that has as its goal coming not God’s presence someday. This enables you to get over the rough places that come into your life.

2Thes.1.7-10“Tribulations” are afflictions. The Patience and faith of these Thessalonian believers was unshaken as they were enduring a great deal of trouble, persecutions, and afflictions. 1 Peter 4:12: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” 1 Peter 4:13: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

v5. Our suffering prepares us for our eternal state.

v7. The Lord Jesus is coming in judgment.


vv 8-9 The Bible speaks little of heaven. It is so wonderful we could not comprehend it. God does not want us to be so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. He wants us to keep our noses to the grindstone. He has a purpose for our lives on earth which He wants us to fulfill.

2Thes.1.11-12Scripture says less about the condition of the lost than it says about heaven. The HS has drawn a veil over it since it is so awful. There is enough about hell in Scripture to give us a warning. Hell, though is an awful reality. Quoting what is said here: He is coming “1:8: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

vv10-12 “That the name of Christ may be glorified in you.” Somehow I am more impressed with the little woman lying flat on her back in a hospital or in her home—yet has a radiant testimony for Christ thereby glorifying Christ—than I am by the testimony of one whom “God made a business success.”

Chapter 2
(The program for the world in connection with the coming of Christ to earth)

v1 The gathering together is the Rapture.

v2 The OT often mentions the day of the Lord. It begins with night. Joel tells us it is darkness and not light. It is a time of judgment. “Not by word, nor by letter”: Apparently someone had been circulating by letter or by oral word among the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had come. There are always those super-duper saints that imagine that they don’t need to study the Word of God. They imagine that they get their information directly from dreams or visions or special revelations. I admit that it is much easier to get your information in a telephone conversation than it is to go to school or study the Bible, but it won’t come straight from God. A special revelation had come to the church at Thessalonica, something brother Paul had not told them.

“Not by letter as from us.” Supposedly, the letter was from Paul, Timothy and Silas.

The word they circulated was “The day of the Lord is at hand.” This had caused a problems with the Thessalonian believers. They were enduring persecution.

The day of the Lord speaks of the period preceded by, as Peter wrote, “Acts 2:20: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” Peter is saying that the Day of Pentecost was similar to the day Joel described in Joel 2. Joel 2 describes it in some detail. Because of Joel’s prophecy, the orthodox Jews in that day believed that there was a day coming when God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh—on the Day of Pentecost  it was not poured out on all flesh. The day of the Lord is yet future.

Peter says the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (also, 1 Thess. 5.2). But He will not come as a thief in the night for the church (1 Thess. 5). True churches and believers are to be awake and waiting for Him. 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Again, this did not happen on the Day of Pentecost.

Revelation 6:17 “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” This begins the outpouring of the wrath of God. Believers will not go through the wrath of God. Notice that Re. 6.9-11 speaks of those slain “for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (v9) (during this period of Great Tribulation prior to the outpouring of the wrath of God). Re. 6.11 states: “Revelation 6:11 “And white robes were given unto every one of them [those who had already been martyred]; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

2Thes.2.3-4v3 The day of the Lord will not come until (1) “There come a falling away first,” and (2) “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” Neither one of these has happened yet. There are two kinds of falling away that will take place. 1st, the organized “church” will depart from the faith (that is apostasy). There will be total apostasy when the Lord comes, and that cannot take place until true churches and believers are removed. The Lord asked, “Luke 18:8  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” When He says “faith,” He means that the body of truth which He left here. The answer is no. There will be total apostasy because of two things: (1) the organization of the church has departed from the faith—it has apostatized, and (2) there has been another departure, the departure of the true church from the earth. The departure of the true church leads into the total apostatizing of the organized church. The day of the Lord cannot begin—nor the day of God’s wrath on the earth—until the departure of true believers and true churches. Note. This last paragraph is from Dr. McGee. I will be studying this out more when I get back to the study of Revelation. I am not sure I agree.

We see the total departure of the organized church pictured as the great harlot in Re. 17.

The second thing that must happen is that the “man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” He is revealed after the wrath of God is poured out. John calls him antichrist (John is the only one who uses this term). He is a subject of the OT. He will be Satan’s man. This is the man who will put the Roman Empire back together again. He will become a world dictator. He will deceive the world.

v4 Paul tells us more about him. He will claim to be god. In Re. 13, we find that the beast out of the sea (the antichrist) brings together western Europe and put it bac together again. When he does this, he will show himself as God. The world will think he is Christ.

v5 Paul did not hesitate to talk about these things. Some say a preacher should not, how sad.


v6 The HS is the only one who can withhold evil in the world today.

v7 The mystery of iniquity was already working in Paul’s day and continues to work. The enemy has sown tares in the world. The tares and wheat are growing together—the word of God and iniquity are growing together.

Iniquity continues to get worse and worse, but the HS will not let Satan go all the way in this age. When the HS is “taken out of the way,” it will be like taking the stopper out of the bottle—the liquid of iniquity will pour out all over the world in that day. The HS will have a different mission when He is “taken out of the way.”

v8 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” He will be a world dictator. No one can stop him. No power—only the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom—can stop him. The believers who are on the earth cannot stop him.

“The Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth,” that is, the Word of God. All God has to do is speak.

Christ’s 1st coming had 2 episodes: 1st began when He was born a little baby, and the 2nd at 30 when he began His ministry by walking into the temple and cleansing it. Christ’s 2nd coming will have 2 episodes: “He calls believers to meet Him in the air and He comes to earth to establish His kingdom.” At time the antichrist shall be consumed and destroyed with the brightness of His coming.


v9 This is the antichrist, Satan’s man, the man of sin, the lawless one. “Power” means physical power whose source is supernatural. He will be a healer and miracle worker. We should fear that miracle workers are from Satan. That is why is so important to get our eyes off men and on Christ, to walk by faith in Him.

“Signs” means tokens. They have the purpose of appealing to the understanding. This man will have signs that will appeal to the scientific world, politicians and the religious world. People who are not rooted and grounded in the Word of God will fall for all kinds of signs.

“Lying wonders” will affect observers. People all over the world will be talking about the man of sin in a positive way as to what he can do. Why will they fall for his lying wonders?

v10 Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

v11 God will let the world believe a lie. Like with Pharaoh, whom God forced into a situation which revealed whot was already in his heart. Many so-called believers today are closed to the truths of God’s Word. So God will send them “strong delusion.” Why? Because they would not receive the truth.

People who have stopped going to churches where they heard the gospel or who do not study their Bibles are wide open to the cults and the “isms” of our day. That is why so many cultists go around knocking at doors. When people reject the truth, they believe the lie. God is separating the sheep from the goats. If people will not receive the love of the truth, God sends them a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

v12 God is going to judge those who have rejected the truth. If someone tries to present the truth from the Word of God to you, then you are wide open for anything that comes along to delude and deceive you. You will never be able to go into the presence of God and say, “I never heard the truth.”


Now Paul moves to the practical side of the epistle. In the light of the knowledge of future events, the believer should live a life that demonstrates that he believes in the coming of Christ. Believing that Christ will come will be manifest in 3 different ways: it will affect his attitude to the Word, his walk, and his work.


vv13-14 These 2 verses give the total spectrum of salvation: all the way from the past, the present, and down into the future. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we shall be saved. It is all the work of God.

“Chosen you to salvation.” This is clearly taught in Romans 8 (See Ro. 8.28-31; Paul is writing the same thing here.). It simply mean that it does not surprise God when you choose Christ. There is another side of the coin. “Whosoever will may come” (There are many verses to the effect in the Bible). The “whosoever wills” are the chosen ones, and the “whosoever won’ts are the nonelect. John 7:37 “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” If you won’t come, the reason is not because you are not elected. It’s because you’re not thirsty. If you are thirsty, then come to Christ.

“Through sanctification of the Spirit.” “Chosen to salvation” looks back to the past. This looks to the present. You are sanctified both as to position and to practice. Positional salvation is established when you accept Jesus Christ as your own Saviour (you are in Christ) and that is past tense. Practically, you are to grow in grace.

“Belief in the truth.” That means the believer is going to study the Word of God.

“To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is future. 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Colossians 1:27: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That looks forward to the future.

v15. The Word enables the believer to stand and be stable.

vv16-17 The Lord Jesus Christ brings comfort and consolation to our hearts. He does this through His Word. That will establish us in every good word and work. The study of the Word of God will lead to the work of the Lord. The Word of God will also edify us. We will be “stabhished” so we are not carried away with every wind of doctrine.

It is the Word of God then that will lead you to do the work of God. It is deceitful to talk about how much you love the Lord if you do not study his Word and apply it. If you really believe Christ is coming, you’re going to be busy working for Him. You are going to give an account someday.

Chapter 3
(Theme: The practicality of the coming of Christ (continued))

2Thes.3.1-2Here in chapter 3, Paul says there are certain responsibilities that we have as believers. Paul said to the Ephesians: “”Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” He is saying the same thing to the Thessalonian believers.


vv1-2 The Word of God enables the believer to walk before the wicked world. The Word establishes a believer in his walk.

“”Pray for us.” All believers should pray. Every work must have prayer behind it if it is to succeed.

Paul had a unique ministry. He was a missionary, he was an evangelist (as we think of evangelists today), he was a teacher of the Word. He had led the Thessalonians to the Lord, taught them, and now he is acting as their pastor in his letters.

“That the Word of the Lord may have free course.” Paul is not only instructing them in the Word, but he is attempting to comfort them and to counsel them.

He is also enjoining the to pray. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ as they seek to glorify God. Pray for others whom you know who are seeking to glorify God. Pray for your pastor. Paul asks prayer that he “may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” Many times, wicked men come into a church. A pastor and other church members need to be delivered from such men. The spreading of the Gospel can be hindered more by people in a church than by anything else. In churches, there are a lot of saints and a lot of “aints.” The “aints” can give the pastor a rough time.

“For all men have not faith.” They do not hold to the doctrines of the faith. The foundation of a church rests upon the doctrine which the apostles have given to the churches. If we really love Christ’s appearing, we will prove it by our relationship to the Word of God and by our walk through this life.

v3 The Lord never lets the believer down. He is faithful. He will “stablish you.” Right now, the home, the church,, and the lives of believers are in disarray. A believer can be established by coming to the Word of God and letting it have its influence in his life. The Lord operates through His Word. The Word of God will keep you from evil. “The Bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the Bible.”

v4. Christians are commanded to do certain things. There were 22 commandments in 1 Thess. 5. Paul had confidence in the Thess. church.

v5. The believer is to walk in the “love of God.” Only the Spirit of God can make God’s love real to us. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. “Into the patient waiting for Christ.” This does not mean that you are to argue about being premillennial or pretribulational or postribulational or amillennial, but that you are be patiently waiting for Christ.

v6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;The believer is not to go into the bar and sit down with the drunkard and have a beer with him as we witness to him.

v7 Rather, we are to follow those who behave not themselves disorderly.


The Thessalonians were walking in a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were being persecuted for it. Paul comforted, instructed and encouraged them. Paul now lets them know that he also is undergoing persecution.

v8 On his first missionary journey, Paul paid for what he ate. He would not let anyone pay him for his missionary work among them. He took no love offerings. When he was establishing churches, he supported himself by tentmaking.

However, after the churches were established and Paul had come back to visit them a 2nd and 3rd time, he did receive an offering from them. He made clear to the Galatians that they should give. He thanks the Philippians for their gift. He took an offering on his 3rd missionary journey for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

There are a lot of fanatics. … However, if you believe Christ is coming, you will work for him.

v9. Paul is saying that as an apostle who led them to the Lord and established a church among them, he had the right, the authority, to claim an offering. However, he did not as an example to the believers in Thessalonica. that they might not be led to some fanatical position.

v10. A believer who is looking for the Lord to return is not a dreamer; he is a worker. No work—no food. This is the rule laid down by the apostle.

This epistle deals largely in prophecy, but almost half of it is given over to that which is practical. We are to mesh and gear prophetic truth in to our living down here so that it is practical and working. We are to work while we wait.

v11 There were busybodies among them, disorderly, working not at all. They were causing trouble in the church. It takes just one bad apple to spoil the ointment. They were busy as termites and just as effective as termites in the church at Thess.

v12 Paul commands them that are such to work quietly and eat their own bread. That doesn’t sound very spiritual or theological, does it? But it is practical.

v13 Be not weary in well doing.

v14-15 People ought to withdraw from troublemakers in the church. Admonish him as a brother.

vv16-18 The end of the letter which Paul wrote w/his own hand. Ends w/a benediction.