Have you ever stopped to think what the word 'revelation' means? Let's look at the word 'revelation' as it's found in the Bible.
Revelation means: (1) the act of revealing; the disclosing to others that which was before unknown to them; also, that which Is revealed after a striking disclosure; (2) Theol. God's disclosure or manifestation of Himself or His will to man as through some act, oracular words, signs, laws, etc.; that which is revealed by God to man (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)
The Greek word translated revelation in Eph. 3:3 is apokalupsis--a disclosure of truth, instruction concerning divine things before unknown. It is taken from another Gr. word, apaklupto--to take off the cover, disclose or reveal. But, the word used here means in the Gr., a disclosure of truth, instruction concerning divine things before unknown. In other words, revelation is an act of God by which He directly communicates truth not known or revealed to man before. It is God communicating to man what man otherwise would not know. It is God making known to man something only He (God) knew before. An illustration of this is the creation of the world (Gen 1:7). This is a revelation from God. Let me give you a few more illustrations of revelations from God.
There are many of these revelations found in the Bible. So, revelation is something revealed to man by God, truth unknown by man before God revealed it.
The word 'revelation' is found in Rev. 1:1. Revelation here means the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory, coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The first time He came as Savior in humiliation (Phil. 2:6-8). The next time He comes in His glory. The revelation is the day of His uncovering, the day when His glory shall be revealed( I Peter 4:12,13). The revelation of Jesus Christ means the unveiling or uncovering of His glory to man. He was never seen in this way before by the whole human race (Rev. 1:7).
Therefore, the word revelation means a disclosure of truth or instruction concerning divine things. Now every commentator that I read to prepare this message agrees to this truth. Let me quote from some of them:
WUEST: 'The word revealed is a translation of a Gr. word which means 'to uncover, to lay open what has been veiled or covered up. ' ' Untranslated Riches from the Gr. New Testament, p.15.
CHAFER: 'In its theological usage, the term revelation is restricted to the divine act of communicating to man what otherwise man would not know.' Systematic Theology, Vol. L, p.48.
COMPANION BIBLE: 'Revelation means an unveiling, manifestation, uncovering.'
THAYER: Revelation is a disclosure of truth or instruction, concerning divine things before unknown.' Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
EVANS: 'Now revelation is the act of God by which He directly communicates truth not known before to the human mind.' Great Doctrines of the Bible, p.196.
By now, I think we have compiled enough evidence to prove this is the meaning of the word 'revelation' in the Bible.
Now, most of the writers I have say the Church started on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. But let me show you from their own definitions of the word 'revelation' and the way this word is used in the Bible that it could not have started there.
Look at Ephesians 3:3,4 where we read these words spoken by the apostle Paul, who was not saved until sometime after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 'How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery: (as I wrote afore in a few words, whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).' Notice v.3, ‘How that by revelation (truth not known before, BUT NOW revealed to Paul), He made known unto me the mystery.' Look again at the meaning of this word 'revelation' just given. The ‘mystery' here is the Church, which is His Body, and all of Paul's revelation concerning it (Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:24-26). So the Church, which is His Body, could not have started at Pentecost for the 12 apostles and other believers would have known if the Jews and Gentiles were united in one body and having fellowship one with another. But the 12 and the other Jewish believers would not even preach to Gentiles until atleast 7 years later (read Acts 10 and Acts 11:19).
Another point is the fact that what happened at Pentecost was in fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:16, Acts 3:24). It was not a revelation, an uncovering of something which was before covered or not known to man, but was in fulfillment of PREVIOUS REVELATION written by Joel (Acts 2:16) and the other prophets (Acts 3:24). But what Paul wrote in Eph. 3:1-3 was a revelation from God, unknown to man in the early part of the book of Acts.
Also, the 'gospel' which Paul preached, which he called 'my gospel', could not have been preached at Pentecost, for it was revealed to Paul first (Gal. 1:11,12). Notice in vs. 12 Paul says he received it by revelation, a disclosure or unveiling of truth not known before. Truth now revealed but unknown before to man (Rom 16:25). So at Pentecost, there was a Jewish church, not the Church, which is His Body--the Church of this dispensation. At Pentecost, the gospel of the kingdom was preached to Israel (Acts 2:36-38). Paul’s gospel is the gospel of the grace of God (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8,9; Rom.4:4,5; Gal. 2:21).
Now I think it is very clear that since Paul received the revelation of the truth concerning the Church, which is His Body, that this church did not start in Acts 2. But someone might say, 'What about Eph. 3:5, 'which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit'?' Let me say here the word 'as' in this verse can be used in at least 3 different ways: (1) it can be used in a COMPARATIVE way, such as: ‘I do not have as many verses memorized AS you do.’ This is using 'as' in a comparative sense meaning, 'I have some verses memorized, but not as many as you have memorized.’ (2) 'as' can also be used meaning in EQUAL DEGREES, such as, 'I can run AS FAST AS you can.' (3) 'as' can be used in a CONTRASTING way, such as when I teach my Christmas message. I explain something about the mode of travel used in those days. I explain that the wisemen either came by camels, horses or else they walked. We don't know exactly how they came, but we do know that they did not have airplanes AS we have today. Here I used the word 'as' in a contrasting way, meaning they had no airplanes in those days at all.
Let me give you some other passages from the Bible which prove this is the way the word 'as' is used in Eph. 3:5. It is used in a contrasting sense. First of all, Paul has already told us in Eph. 3:3 that he received the revelation of the mystery. Also in Eph. 3:9 he explains that the mystery was hid in God from the beginning of the world. And in Col. 1:26 he says, 'Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, BUT NOW is made manifest to His saints,' In Rom. 16:25 it says, 'according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.' These passages prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that 'as' is used in Eph. 3:5 in a contrasting way, or else these passages would be untrue if Paul was only shedding more light on the subject and the mystery was revealed before. You see, Paul received His revelation from the second person of the Godhead, God the Son (Gal. 1:11,12). The other apostles then received it after Paul received it. He made it known unto them and now they received His truth by the Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. An illustration of this can be found in the Old Testament many, many times. We read these words, 'And the Lord spoke unto Moses saying.' Read especially the book of Leviticus where many chapters start with these words (ch. 4,6,8,12,14,15,17,18,19,20, 23,24 and 27). Each of these chapters starts out with the words, 'The Lord spoke to Moses.' Moses received the revelation from God and he then told it to the children of Israel. But Moses received it first. God spoke to him and then to the others through Moses.
So it was with Paul and the revelation of the mystery. He received it from the risen Lord and then he told the others. Read Eph. 3:3-5. Yes, revelation is a 'disclosure or unveiling of truth concerning divine things unknown before.
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