Part 2 – Paul’s Two Sets of Epistles

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called Comparing Israel's Hope of ‘Resurrection’ with the Gentiles ‘Appearing’ in Glory.

The fact is that the Apostle Paul wrote Two (2) sets of 7 epistles if we count Hebrews. Thus Paul had two successive ministries.

1) 7 epistles DURING the time of the book of Acts were written when Paul was going to “the Jew first” concerning his gospel as it yet pertained to the kingdom to come on earth.

2) 7 more epistles were written by Paul AFTER the 35-year ACTS period with totally new, formerly secret, information pertaining to the members of the Gentile “body of Christbased upon a “mystery [Grk., musterion, secret]” that had been “HID in God” until it was first revealed to Paul for us today.\

These 7 Post-ACTS epistles have nothing to do with God’s promises to Israel concerning the everlasting kingdom to come on earth. This information came to Paul directly from Jesus in heaven, concerning a Gentile (non-racially based) church that is destined to dwell eternally “in the heavenly places in Christ.”

In Paul’s 7 Post-Acts epistles (Ephesians through Philemon) we note a different eternal destiny whereby the grace believers of the specific ‘church’ of “THE mystery” that he calls “the body of Christ.” Paul explains that we of this church would ultimately “APPEAR with Him [Christ] IN GLORY,” that is IN HEAVEN.” This will occur sometime before the resurrection that many call the Rapture of 1Thes. 4 and 1Cor. 15. We today look for His “appearing.”

“When Christ, who is our life, shall APPEAR, then shall YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY.” Col. 3:4

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)

By Contrast THE HOPE OF PAUL’S EPISTLES Written ‘DURING’ ACTS (Romans through Galatians) CONFIRMS O.T. PROPHECY concerning the Kingdom to come “on earth.” Note that Paul’s 1Thes. 4:16-17 ‘resurrection’ verses are preceded by Paul saying This we say unto you, BY THE WORD OF THE LORD ...” So, Paul was quoting the already spoken and written OT “Word of the Lord” to show Israel and its Gentile proselytes ‘their hope.’ So, the hope of resurrection found in 1 Thess. 4 with its trumpet, angels, shout, and voices was already written of in the OT “Word of the Lord.”

In 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 when writing about the same ‘hope of resurrection’ (which some erroneously call the “rapture”), Paul says;

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, Then Shall Be Brought To Pass The Saying THAT IS WRITTEN, DEATH IS SWALLOWED IN VICTORY. O’ DEATH WHERE IS THY STING? O’ GRAVE, WHERE IS THY VICTORY?”

If Paul means what he says, and says what he means, the hope of 1 Corinthians 15 was PROPHESIED in the OT “the Word of the Lord.” If so, then 1 Corinthians 15 is not the Pauline mystery [secret]” of Paul’s POST-ACTS epistles of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians; because that “THE mystery (secret)” was “from the beginning of the world HID IN GOD(Eph. 3:9), KEPT SECRET.” Obviously, something spoken, prophesied, must not be the same as Paul’s “revelation of the mystery (Greek, musterion, the secret) – “HID IN GOD.”

Paul in 1Thes. 4 and 1Cor. 15 is quoting “the Word of the Lord” from two different OT books (Hosea 13:14 and Isaiah 25:8), to show the Corinthians their hope.’ This agrees with what Paul said in Acts 26:22, where summing up his Acts ministry he said “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day witnessing both to small and great, saying None Other Things than those which The Prophets And Moses Did Say Should Come.” So, much of Paul’s Acts ministry and what he wrote during the Acts period can be found in the Old Testament Scriptures, this includes the hope of Israel that he wrote about in 1 Thes. 4:15-18 and 1 Cor. 15:51-55.

Yet we know, by reading them, Paul’s post-Acts prison epistles contain a distinctly different message from those written during the Acts period. In this article we will show how that the hope that Paul wrote about in 1Thes. 4 and 1 Cor. 15 is not only found in the Old Testament Scriptures but it is also what was taught by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry in Matthew 24 and other places in the 4 gospels.

I realize that that this whole idea runs contrary to what is taught in most Bible Churches today for certain, but then there are as many “doctrines and traditions of men in Bible churches, just as there are in denominational churches in the USA. For years it has erroneously been the ‘party line’ in most Bible Churches that 1 Thes. 4 and 1 Cor. 15 is the hope of the church today, saying nobody knew or wrote about this hope prior to Paul. NOT TRUE! This common doctrine has been preached for so long and so loud that Christendom accepts this with no questions asked. Just read what Paul said to the Thessalonians about their hope, where he said it was “BY THE WORD OF THE LORD,” meaning in the prophetic O.T. We read in I Cor. 15:54 that when the resurrection takes place the Old Testament Scriptures “shall be brought to pass.”

The question that Bible believers today need to answer is who or what are you going to believe?

  • Are we going to believe what the preachers say because they have been saying it for so long and so loud, or…
  • Are we going to believe What the Bible says, Where it says it, exactly As it says it? We should always endeavor to study to show ourselves approved before God,’ and let the traditions of men fall where they may, no matter what the cost.

I do not believe that the hope and destiny of “the church, which is His body” today is found in I Cor. 15 or 1 Thes. 4 as written DURING the Acts period. This is because God revealed a totally NEW and BETTER HOPE to Paul AFTER the Acts period, one which had been “HID IN GOD,” but it is now revealed, as found in Paul’s Post-Acts prison epistles (among Ephesians through Philemon). The fact is that not all resurrections lead one to dwell eternal in the heavens.

Now, if you are serious Bible student and you want to get to the bottom of this issue you can find out for yourself by getting 3 Bibles and laying them out (or print-outs of these verses) before you. Open one Bible to Matthew 24, another to 1 Corinthians 15, and the other to 1 Thessalonians 4. The subject is the same in all 3 books of the Bible, and that subject ultimately is ‘resurrection.’ As we proceed, we are going to compare what Jesus says prophetically about the ‘resurrection’ of believers in Matthew 24, as He taught during His earthly ministry, comparing it with what Paul wrote about the resurrection’ of believers as seen in 1Cor. 15:51-55 and 1Thess. 4:15-18 to see how similar they are.

Then, if we find that that Jesus and Paul say the same thing in these Books and verses, then they must be talking about the same ‘resurrection.’ On the other hand, if they say contradictory things about the resurrection; then they are not speaking of the same resurrection. I believe you will find that they are and this would mean Paul also was referencing a “gathering unto Him” at the 2nd coming of Christ to the earth in wrath, not a rapture to heaven.

In Matthew 24 Jesus taught the 12 apostles about a resurrection where He said in Matt. 24:29-31... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give 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 [these angels] shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds…” 13:27 (KJV)