Romans – Philemon
The Apostle Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles.” He is the one to whom God gave “the dispensation of the grace of God” for us Gentiles, revealing to him “the mystery of Christ.” We, today, live in the dispensation of God’s grace. Paul is our apostle and it is in his epistles – Romans through Philemon – that God sets forth what He is doing with us today. Israel’s program is suspended during this dispensation. It will not be resumed or fulfilled until after this dispensation is concluded.
Believers in this dispensation are members of God’s “new creation,” the “one new man,” the church the body of Christ. As Paul teaches, God will use His “new creation” to reconcile the heavenly places unto Himself. God formerly kept the “mystery of Christ” a mystery in order to take Satan in his own craftiness. Now, having made it known, God has revealed His plan for repossessing not only the earth, but the heavenly places also, from Satan’s usurped domination.
God’s design for our edification today is set forth in a doctrinal progression from Romans to Philemon. Romans sets forth the primary doctrines of who God has made us to be “in Christ,” being justified, sanctified, living in this new dispensation, and being dealt with as “sons.” These foundational doctrines are expounded further in I Corinthians through Galatians, as Paul deals directly with the effectual working of these truths in our lives. Ephesians builds upon this foundation with further knowledge about God’s plan and purpose for us, especially in the heavenly places. Philippians and Colossians advance on, as Paul deals directly with the impact of this further knowledge upon our lives. The attitude and conduct we should have as mature saints is manifested and dealt with in the Thessalonian epistles. The four pastoral epistles that follow deal with the proper functioning of a local church, which God has designed to function as the “pillar and ground of the truth” for “godly edifying” in this dispensation.
This dispensation will end with the Lord rapturing the church to be with Himself in the heavenly places.