Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
In the future, after God’s grand plan of salvation for all mankind is completed, all of us will fully understand the extent to which God orchestrated times, events, and circumstances throughout His creation to fulfill His plan, even in minute detail and in surprisingly subtle ways. His orchestration will yield only the highest awe and praise from all of His creatures. Right now, at this very moment, as the apostle Paul wrote, God continually “works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). 1
This working of all things includes times, events, and circumstances in your life, my life, and the lives of all believers in this present age, which will eventually benefit the lives of every human in the ages to come. Consider this: if all mankind will be saved (and they shall be saved according to God’s plan), then everything that happens is for our edification and for our benefit, as hard as that is to accept in these days of vanity (Job 7:16: Psalm 144:4; Ecclesiastes 7:15, 9:9). Indeed it seems extremely difficult to believe:
“For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?”
Who knows? God knows and He is in charge. He has told us and we now know at this present moment, and everyone shall know — eventually — exactly “what shall be after him under the sun.”
This May 2007 article is titled “The Two Apostle Johns.” It comes from a 1979 audiotape of a lecture by Dr. Ernest Martin. This exposition digs deep into Acts, Galatians, John’s epistles, and John’s Gospel to demonstrate how God orchestrated events in the lives of the apostles to bring His ekklesia to “all the truth” (John 16:13, Greek) just as Jesus promised.
Beginning at Pentecost the ekklesia was subtly and gently moved toward the fullness of the Gospel. This article shows from Scripture the profound importance and impact that the revelation of the Mystery had on the apostle John and the ekklesia in the 1st century. Then it focuses on the long life and teaching of the apostle John who changed radically his understanding to conform to the Mystery as God intended.
The progressive story of Acts, Galatians, John’s epistles, and John’s Gospel reveal that believing Gentiles were never required to observe circumcision or the customs of the Jews, which included the sabbath, the holy days, and even such rites such as baptism and laying on of hands. After the revelation of the Mystery, and after the destruction of the Temple, not even Jews are required to keep the customs of Moses — or any rituals whatsoever. This is clearly the case as you will see. With the revelation of the Mystery to Paul and others, John in his Gospel shows no difference between Jew and Gentile spiritually.
Dr. Martin discusses differences between Jews and Gentiles and how those differences created antagonisms and conflicts between the distinct Jewish and Gentile congregations in the ekklesia of God. The extent of the antagonisms will be surprising to many of you!
There were even problems in Jerusalem between groups of believing Jews soon after Pentecost. On the first day of Pentecost some 3,000 souls were baptized (Acts 2:41). The increase continued: “The Lord added to the church [ekklesia] daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Later Acts 4:4 states about believers that “the number of the men was about five thousand.” The number of women believers was probably equal to that figure, as we would expect. In Acts 6:1 it says that the number of believers in Jerusalem “was multiplied” beyond the number from Acts 4:4.
Still later a large number of priests became believers. Of course, all priests were Levites and well educated in the rituals and customs of Moses which play an important part in the discussion of “The Two Apostle Johns”:
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
During this early period in the Book of Acts in Jerusalem the tremendous increase in numbers required that goods and services be provided to all. It is likely that the tremendous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit was so emotional to so many people that it caused many of those visiting Jerusalem for the spring Jewish festivals to stay over several days, perhaps even weeks, after Pentecost. The Jerusalem ekklesia established a system to distribute all things commonly and voluntarily (Acts 4:32–5:11) on a temporary basis to provide for those needs so people could study, be taught, and communicate their faith to each other (Acts 2:43–47). 2
Problems arose among those believers who were Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) and those who were Hebrews (Aramaic-speaking Palestinian Jews). The problems were quickly fixed by choosing leaders for the distribution of goods and services to the Hellenists. Those leaders were named (Acts 6:1–6) and all their names are Greek, which likely indicates they were all Hellenists. One of the Hellenist leaders is specifically identified as “Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch” (Acts 6:5). This term “proselyte” indicates that Nicolas was a circumcised Gentile who took up all of the rites and rituals and commandments of the Old Testament given to Moses by angels (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). He was accepted as part of the Jewish community.
As you read the article keep in mind the differences between the various groups of believers in Christ’s resurrection and what their backgrounds were. All this is important for proper understanding of the scriptural accounts.
We all should follow the apostle John’s example (as you will read) to grow in grace and in knowledge (as Peter says, 2 Peter 3:18), Dr. Martin grew also. God did not give any special “revelation” to Dr. Martin because the full doctrinal revelation was given to the apostle Paul and others nearly 2000 years ago. It was and is complete. Dr. Martin’s decades of work involved the hard labor of research into Scripture and history so that clear explanations can be given to you and to others. Dr. Martin has recovered basic biblical and historical truths that were the common knowledge and experience to the New Testament readers.
We at ASK have received some very kind comments and praise for the work we do to continue and forward the work of Dr. Ernest Martin toward the goal of making the biblical revelation more and more clear. This work continues solely because of your prayers, your encouragement, and your financial support from a small core who read, listen, and view the mass of educational material on the ASK website. You help provide for others around the world who are not able to help. We are humbled by your appreciation and support. To those of you who help us, thank you and God bless you.
David W. Sielaff
God the Father works, and Jesus works, and they both work on the
Sabbath. When the Jews objected that Jesus worked by healing a man on
the sabbath, John wrote:
“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father works hitherto, and I work.”
As members of the body of Christ, we can work on the sabbath (and on any other day) just like Christ does today. DWS
2 The same Greek phrase in Acts 4:32 as “all things common” is used in Acts 2:44 speaking about believers on Pentecost. DWS
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