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general terms, but is making a most emphatic and exclusive claim.
To understand any passage of Scripture we must discover the meaning of the context,
we must know what it is all about. For the benefit of those who may not have past
numbers of The Berean Expositor, we will show the arrangement of the verses which
include the passage under consideration, viz., Eph. 3: 7:--
A | 2. The dispensation of the grace of God.
B | 3. The mystery made known to Paul.
C | a | 4. The mystery of Christ--Personal.
b | 5. Apostles and prophets (Plural).
C | a | 6. The mystery of Christ--Mystical.
b | 7. Paul (Singular).
B | 8. The mystery made known by Paul.
A | 9. The dispensation of the mystery (R.V.).
It will be seen that verse 7 comes in that section wherein the apostle, as distinct from
the apostles and prophets, lays claim to an exclusive revelation, and a peculiar ministry.
The three-fold fellowship, defined in verse 6, is connected with the promise in Christ by
the gospel whereof Paul was made a minister, and is to be distinguished from those
promises in the gospel whereof Peter was made a minister. With this passage the reader
should compare II Tim. 1: 10, 11, ". . . . through the gospel, whereunto I am appointed
an herald," and II Tim. 2: 8, "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was
raised from the dead according to my gospel."
The other claim, in Col. 1: 25, 26, is no less definite, ". . . . for His body's sake,
which is the church, of which I became a minister, according to the dispensation of God
which is given to me with a view to you, to complete the Word of God, the mystery,
which has been hidden since the ages and since the generations, but now is made
manifest to His saints." The present interval, or gap, occasioned by the temporary
abeyance of the Abrahamic promises is "filled" by the dispensation of the mystery, of
which the apostle Paul was the special minister.
Not only does the apostle speak of "my gospel," but he also refers to himself and his
message in a very special manner. Regarding teachers he writes, "the things that thou
hast heard of me. . . . the same commit thou to faithful men" (II Tim. 2: 2). Still more
exclusively he refers to himself and his doctrine by the use of a word which occurs
nowhere else in Scripture. The passages are I Tim. 1: 16 and II Tim. 1: 13. The peculiar
word is hupotupõsis, and is translated "pattern" and "form." Its real meaning is, "a
preliminary draft before the completed design." In the first passage the apostle refers to
his salvation as the Lord's sketch--the type or pattern of the rich grace which is so
signally manifest throughout the epistles. In the second passage the apostle refers to his
doctrine, "Have a pattern (or sketch) of sound words, which thou hast heard of me." This
pattern is that to which we have already referred in II Tim. 2: 2.
Immediately after speaking of his doctrine, the apostle says, "all they which are in
Asia be turned away from me," and so in chapter 4: 3 he uses the same word "sound" as