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by William Baxter Godbey
PROLOGUE TO VOLUME 3
Pursuant to the glory of full salvation, we are still steaming up the river, all of our predecessors having floated down.
This volume contains only the Pauline writings. Hence we all sit at the feet of the world’s champion theologian, so celebrated for prolixity of sentences, profundity of thought, gigantic interpretation of intellect, and illimitable spiritual illumination.
PROLOGUE TO EPHESIANS
Ephesus, the New York of Asia Minor, the metropolis of Lydia, the kingdom of Croesus, the richest king of the ancient world, whose capital was Sardis, was celebrated as the commercial emporium of the great West, and the metropolis of polytheistic idolatry, and the location of the temple Diana, which occupied two hundred years in building, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World; the other six being the Pyramids of Egypt, the Walls of Babylon, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Coliseum at Rome, the temple of Jupiter at Athens, and the Sphinx at Egypt. Apollos, the learned Alexandrine Jew, having been brought up under the auspices of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the celebrated patron of learning, who accumulated at Alexandria the largest library in the world, came all the way from Egypt to enjoy the wonderful preaching of John the Baptist. Gloriously converted, he became the most eloquent preacher of the age, traveling through Africa and Asia, everywhere holding the listening multitudes spellbound by his unparalleled oratorical power. He enjoyed the honor of planting the Gospel Church in Ephesus, organizing with twelve members. Fortunately in the good providence of God, Aquila and Priscilla, exiled Jews from Rome, having been gloriously sanctified under Paul’s ministry at Corinth, and called to preach the living Word, falling into Apollos’ meetings, though thrilled, spellbound, and edified by his transcendent eloquence, readily perceived his spiritual deficiency, and, inviting him home with them, availed themselves of the opportunity to teach him “the way of the Lord more perfectly.” Thus, a humble layman and his wife lead the most eloquent preacher in the world into the glorious experience of entire sanctification. Henceforth he added to his transcendent eloquence the infinitely greater enduement of spiritual dynamite, everywhere mightily proving to the Jews, by the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 18:28.)
Paul, in his peregrinations, comes to Ephesus, finds the little Church of twelve members, and interviews them straight, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” Receiving a negative answer, he proceeds at once to inaugurate a holiness meeting, preaching to them their glorious privilege in Christ, calling them to the altar to seek entire sanctification. While Paul exhorts, prays, and lays hands on them, the Holy Ghost comes on them, sanctifying, filling, and thrilling them so they speak fluently and prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:3:
“He that prophesieth, speaketh unto people edification, exhortation, and comfort.”
Now Paul was a bloodwashed and firebaptized band of twelve, enjoying the perfect freedom of speech, and ready for the most efficient cooperation in the salvation of souls. A modern wiseacre would have said: “Paul, why do you not preach to Sinners, who everywhere throng this city, going down to hell?” As Paul first preached sanctification to the little band till he got them filled with the Holy Ghost, he then had twelve heroic helpers to push the war to the gate of the enemy. Wonderfully did God bless their labors as they pushed the battle in a three years’ protracted- meeting, rolling out the wave till “all Asia heard the Word.”
Thus we have traversed the wonderful Epistle to the Ephesian Church, exhibiting the highest type of spirituality in the Bible. As Ephesus was the metropolis of Western Asia, the city most magnetic and influential, whether for good or evil, Paul laid the glorious foundation by getting all the original twelve members sanctified, and then pushed the battle three years in a red-hot and unbroken campaign, so that “all Asia heard the gospel.” The Ephesian Church was afterward honored ‘with the residence of cur Lord’s mother, and the pastorate of the Apostle John, who survived all his apostolical comrades a whole generation, and was doubtless translated to heaven from the Ephesian Church. He is the only apostle who was not honored with a martyr’s crown. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and other Christian fathers, who lived under the shadow of the apostles, testify that John was translated to heaven alive. John Wesley believed it. Why does the Bible say nothing about it? Good reason: John was the last writer. Of course, he could not record his own translation.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29