Paul’s Early Epistles Need Modifications

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In the transitional era preceding the present secret administration of God’s transcendent riches of grace, Paul wrote his epistles to the Thessalonians and to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, as well as his first letter to Timothy. The question arises, did the revelation of the secret in Ephesians and its companion epistles annul the previous revelation completely, and ignore its recipients, so that Romans to Galatians and Thessalonians are obsolete, or do they still stand just as they are, so that Ephesians is a mere addition to their message?

Or is there a third course indicated, between these two extremes, their acceptance as a whole, yet with modifications in detail to accord with the later revelation? …

All of Paul’s previous epistles are definitely declared to be ours, yet with such modifications as the abrogation of Israel’s priority involves. Ephesians does not restate Paul’s previous evangel, for that would have been useless. All to whom the new revelation came were acquainted with it. All that they needed was the ability to adapt it to the larger light.

As a consequence, the epistle to the Ephesians is full of contacts and contrasts with Paul’s previous teaching. Not only are we given the broad basis on which to build our attitude toward Paul’s other writings, but many of the details are developed for us and the character of the link between the two is carefully considered.

KnochA.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 18 (1927), pages 204-207

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