Sunday, December 17, 2017
J.S. wrote:
I found your site through the scripture box on my Google personal home page.
Your articles are very well written.
Much of your teaching has been very informative and thought provoking and very in line with the Word of God, but this comment about the church in Mystery series #2 and #3 is inconsistent with your strong adherence to the Scriptures. The church is mentioned often in Acts long before Acts28:28, for example: 9:31, 11:22, and 12:5. And when speaking of the believers in the house of Cornelius, the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem specifically say in Acts 11:18 "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." They, as all true believers, became temples of the Holy Spirit - which is what unites the true church into one body. I'm blessed by much of what you write, but this part that you write about the church is murky and seems to me to be "messing with scriptures". It is never too late to re-examine what you believe and why. Please clarify to me your position on the church of Christ which to me is bride of Christ and body of Christ.
One who loves truth,
J.S.

Dear J.S.,
God Bless your beautiful heart and thank you for writing.  We can see you have spent considerable time searching the Scriptures on these important subjects but not being aware of the change that happened at Acts 28:28 will always cause great difficulty.  One must consider the great doctrinal differences Books of the Bible written before or after Acts 28:28 and the calling, hope and sphere of blessing between these groups of believers.  We hope these teachings will begin to show a little of the great difference of the hope of Israel who is the Wife of Christ and those believers who God has called to be members of His Body.  First let's look at a Scriptural definition of Church.

Church

The English word church has come down to us from the Greek through the Gothic. Walafrid Strabo, who wrote about A.D. 840 gives as the explanation of the word kyrch the Greek kuriake, a word that means related to the Lord, as he kuriake hemera the Lords day. The Scottish word kirk retains the sound of the Greek original still. In ordinary parlance, the word church can refer both to the body of worshippers assembled together, or to the building in which they are met, but there is no instance in the New Testament where the word church refers to a building. In the ministry of Paul a transition in the usage of the word is observable which is dispensationally important. Before Acts 28 and while the hope of Israel still obtained, the apostle addressed six epistles to different companies of believers. Unto the churches of Galatia, Unto the church of the Thessalonians, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth. Thus five of these early epistles use the word church in a local sense. Romans is the exception in this group, this epistle is not addressed to the church which is at Rome bu t To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints (Rom. 1:7) , the word church being reserved for the last chapter, where it occurs five times.

This prepares the way for the great change which meets us in Ephesians and Colossians. In these great epistles of the Mystery, the word church is not used in the opening salutation, but is invested with new glory, the first occurrence being in Ephesians 1:22,23, The church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. The word translated church, is with one exception the translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which becomes in English ecclesia and enters into the composition of such words as ecclesiastical etc. The one exception is Acts 19:37, robbers of churches, which the R.V. more correctly renders robbers of temples. Ekklesia occurs in the New Testament 115 times, three of these occurrences being translated assembly the rest churc h. The Septuagint version uses the word about eighty times, but we will defer their examination until we have finished our survey of the usage of the word in the New Testament.

The following extract from Trench on the Synonyms of the New Testament is of interest:

There are words whose history it is peculiarly interesting to watch, as they obtain a deeper meaning, and receive a new consecration, in the Christian Church; which, even while it did not invent, has yet assumed them into its service, and employed them in a far loftier sense than any to which the world had ever put them before. The very word by which the Church is named is itself an example - a more illustrious one could scarcely be found - of this gradual ennobling of a word. For we have it in three distinct stages of meaning - the heathen, the Jewish, and the Christian. In respect of the first, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs. That they were summoned is expressed in the latter part of the word; that they were summoned out of the whole population, a large, but at the same time a select portion of it, including neither the populace, nor strangers, nor yet those who had forfeited their civic rights, this is expressed in the first. Both the calling and the calling out, are moments to be remembered, when the word is assumed into a higher Christian sense, for in them the chief part of its peculiar adaptation to its auguster uses lies. It is interesting to observe how, on one occasion in the New Testament the word returns to this its earlier significance (Acts 19:32,39,41).

The LXX uses the word ekklesia to translate the Hebrew qahal. Qahal means to call, to assemble, and the noun form means a congregation or assembly. Solomon is called koheleth the Preacher, translated by the LXX ekklesiastes. The earliest known occurrence of the word is found in Job 30:28, I cried in the congregation. In the books of the law, qahal is rendered by the Greek word sunagoge, showing that the synagogue is the beginning of the New Testament church. Stephen in his speech which ended in his martyrdom referred to the history of Israel, and dwells for considerable length upon the one great leader Moses, saying in Acts 7:38:

This is he, that was in the CHURCH in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai.

The people of Israel, looked upon as a called-out assembly were the Church of that period.

In the nineteenth chapter of Acts, a reference is made to the Greek usage of the word ekklesia. The concourse of people gathered to the theatre at Ephesus is referred to as an ekklesia, the assembly was confused (Acts 19:32). Upon the arrival of the town clerk, he reproved the people for the rashness of their proceedings saying: If ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly (ekklesia) (Acts 19:39), and having thus spoken he dismissed the assembly (Acts 19:41). Here the word is used in its original sense, a called-out people, assembled for a particular purpose. It will be seen, therefore, that it is not enough to point to the word church and thereby set aside the distinctive callings of God. The kingdom as announced in Matthew is not to be contrasted with a church, but is in itself to be viewed as a company of called-out ones. The reference to the church in Matthew 16:18 does not look to the subject of subsequent revelation reserved for the prison ministry of Paul, but to the calling that was announced in the Gospel of the Kingdom. There was a church before Pentecost, as Matthew 18:17 makes clear.

In the Prison Epistles the word ekklesia is advanced to its highest conception. It is the body of Christ, it will be the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. It will be seen that it is not enough to say: The church began at Pentecost, we must go further, and define what church is in view. Under the heading ekklesiaor called-out company we find the following different assemblies, ranging from the nation of Israel separated from all the nations of the earth down to the church to which Philemon acted as host. Before, therefore, we build up any doctrine upon the presence of the word church in any passage of Scripture we should consult the context and realize the dispensation in which any particular church finds its calling and sphere.

Ekklesia
  1. The nation of Israel viewed as distinct in their calling to be a kingdom of Priests in the earth (Acts 7:38). In this light it will be perceived that some care must be exercised when we are seeking to differentiate between the Kingdom and the Church.
  2. The Church spoken of as existing in the days of Christs earthly ministry before either His sacrificial death, or before the day of Pentecost (Matt. 18:17).20
  3. The Church concerning which Christ spoke as future, and built upon the rock, and confession Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God related to Peter with his keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18).
  4. The Church which was formed in the day of Pentecost, which
    1. partly fulfilled the prophecy of Joel 2:28,29.
    2. awaits complete fulfilment until the future day of the Lord.
    3. is inseparable from the enduement of spiritual gifts.
    4. is inseparable from the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6; 2:30,31).
    5. is inseparable from baptism for the remission of sins. This Church is related to the dispersion (Jas. 1:1; 5:14).
  5. The Church of God, which Paul persecuted before his conversion in Acts 9 (Gal. 1:13, 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6) and which continued to assemble and to grow under his subsequent ministry (1 Cor. 1:2; 11:16; 1 Thess. 2:14; 2 Thess. 1:4).
  6. The Church of God, called in the same chapter, the Church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:5,15) to whom was directed that ministry of re-adjustment which had in view the building up of the body of Christ until all arrived in the unity of the faith, etc. (Eph. 4:11-13).
  7. The Church of the One Body, the calling that goes back before the foundation of the world, and ascends to the position far above all where Christ sits. This church is entirely disassociated from all previous companies, having no relation with Israel, Abraham or New Covenant, but filling the great dispensational parenthesis of Israels blindness, which fell on that nation in Acts 28. The status, calling and constitution of this Church can be gathered by reading Ephesians and Colossians, remembering as the reading progresses, ever to try the things that differ.
  8. The seven Churches of Asia (Rev. 1 to 3), one of them namely the Church at Pergamos, will be in the city where Satans seat is (Rev. 2:13). These seven churches will resume where the Church of Pentecost left off and carry the fulfilment of Joel 2:28,29 through to its end. In these Churches there will be some who will say they are Jews and are not (Rev. 2:9). This company, though enumerated separately, really falls under heading No. 4, but owing to the setting aside of Israel at the coming in of the dispensation of the Mystery, we have listed these Churches separately.
We believe that the earnest student who obeys the injunction of 2 Timothy 2:15 and discovers under which of these heads the church under examination falls, will have no difficulty in correctly relating any church mentioned in the New Testament with its respective calling and dispensation.

Gentile

Gentile. The English word Gentile comes from the Latin, and means one belonging to the same class or clan (gens). Gens in Latin indicates the race and surname, and in Roman law a Gentile indicated a member of the same gens. The Scriptural standpoint, however, is that of the Hebrew, and the word Gentile in the Bible refers to the non-Jewish nations of the earth. The Greek word translated Gentile is ethnos, and this has given rise to a number of words in English such as ethnology, the science which treats of the various races of mankind. Ethnos is probably derived from ethos, "custom, manners, etc., and means a people bound together by similar habits, manners and customs". Those of our readers who may use Dr. Bullinger's Greek Lexicon, should be apprised of a slip in the explanatory note under the word Genti1e. It reads: "In the O.T. those who were not of Israel (this of course is true) and in the N.T. those who are neither of Israel nor of the Church, see 1 Cor. 10:32."

It is the reference to 1 Cor. 10:32 that needs care, for a superficial reading uses this verse to indicate the threefold division, "Jew, Gentile and Church of God". The fact is, however, that the word translated "Gentile" in this verse is hellen, which is the more limited term "Greeks" as opposed to the "Barbarians". Both, however, were "Gentiles" in the eye of the Jew, but while all Hellens were Gentiles, all Gentiles were not and could not be Hellens. The word "Gentile" meets us in the O.T. first in Genesis ten, where the progeny of Japheth, the son of Noah, is given.

"By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations" (Gen. 10:5).

The R.V. corrects this by reading, "Of these were the isles of the nations divided", for until we have a Jew, we cannot have a Gentile, the one being used to distinguish the rest of the population of the earth from the Hebrew nation, and the Hebrew nation did not exist until after the call of Abraham in Genesis twelve. The Hebrew word thus translated is goi, a word derived from a root, meaning to form into a mass or a body. It is used in Job 30:5, where it is rendered "among (men)". Goi indicates a congregation of men associated together. The word goi , in the plural, occurs six times in Genesis ten, being translated "nations" with the exception of the rendering of verse 5 already noted. It is evident that the word Gentile could not be used in Genesis 12:2, in the promise to Abraham, "I will make of thee a great nation", neither could the word Gentile be used in such a passage as Exodus 19:6, "an holy nation".

We find the word translated "heathen" on occasion (Deut. 4:27), and "people" as in Joshua 3:17, but after considering all the factors in the case, there can be no doubt but that "nation" or "nations" is the most satisfactory translation of the singular goi and the plural goyim. The same can be said of ethnos in the N.T. There it is translated Gentiles, heathen, nation and people. Luke 2:32 renders the word "Gentiles", while Luke 7:5 when, referring to Israel, renders it "nation", as does also John 11:48. Acts 4:25 translates it "heathen" and Romans 10:19 translates it "people". The epistle to the Galatians uses "heathen", "Gentiles" and "nations" for the one word (Gal. 1:16, 2:2, 3:8). What we found to be true in the O.T. we find to be true in the N.T. In the plural the word indicates the non-Jewish nations, which we may call Gentiles, but when used of Israel in the singular it must keep its primitive signification of nation. Owing to the fact that goyim means the Gentiles, the Jew has developed an aversion to the word, and does not readily use the singular goi of his own nation. The reader will have noticed that the returned people of Israel now occupying Palestine are referred to as Israeli. This means literally "of Israel", the full title being "the goi of Israel", the goi , however, being suppressed and left unsaid.

There are one or two outstanding passages where the use of the word "Gentile" is of dispensational significance. In Matthew ten, the twelve apostles were given their first commission, a commission that was concerned with preaching the kingdom of heaven, a preaching which was confirmed by extra-ordinary miracles. This commission was severely limited:

"Go NOT into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye NOT, But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5,6).

It is patent, therefore, that the term "Gentile" was opposed to "Israel" in this command to the twelve.

It is moreover made evident from Matthew sixteen, both from our Lord's own statement and "from that time forth began" (21), and from Peter's reaction (22), that those who had thus preached the gospel of the kingdom with signs following, had done so without knowing that Christ must suffer and die!  A special note of comparison to which the reader is referred is that which sets out the distinctive differences of Matthew and Luke, and we will not repeat ourselves here, except to give the references that Luke makes to the Gentiles, and which indicate the peculiar trend of his gospel.

"A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Luke 2:32).

The significance of this passage will be appreciated when it is remembered that Simeon was "waiting for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25), yet under the power of the Holy Ghost, he put the Gentile first.

"Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).

If the corresponding section of Matthew twenty-four be read, it will be observed that Luke adds the reference to the times of the Gentiles, a feature which Matthew does not include. Upon reaching the Acts of the Apostles, it is not until we reach the seventh occurrence of ethnos, namely in Acts 9:15, that we find the term used with any sense of favour.  In Matthew 12:18,21, which immediately follows the rejection indicated in Matthew 11:20-24 and immediately precedes the introduction of "mystery" into Matthew thirteen, we have a reference to the Gentiles which is similar to that of Acts 13:46,47, and for similar reasons, culminating as it does at Acts twenty-eight, with the complete setting aside of Israel, the full and independent evangelizing of the Gentiles, and the introduction of the Mystery in the prison epistles that followed (Acts 28:17-31).

It is the thrice asserted claim of Paul, that he was THE Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:11). In addition to these passages Paul declared that he was the "minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles" (Rom. 15:16), that he was separated to preach Christ among the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16) and that this peculiar office was recognized by Peter, James and John at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:8,9).

Further, Paul claimed that the dispensation of the grace of God had been entrusted to him "for you" Gentiles, and that he had been commissioned to preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make known the riches of the glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1,2,8, Col. 1:27). The door of faith was opened unto the Gentiles at Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 14:27). The times of the Gentiles, which refers rather to the political, than the ecclesiastical element, will come to an end when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

It has been suggested that the word ethnos, translated Gentile, refers in many instances to the dispersed of Israel, who had so long lived among the heathen as to have become in the eyes of their more orthodox fellows "uncircumcision" and "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel", terms that we have generally accepted as a description of the Gentiles before their conversion. As this new interpretation impinges upon the teaching of Ephesians and does not allow the normal meaning of the word Gentile to appear until Ephesians three, no one can object if this interpretation be suspect; or that it should be subjected to criticism, so long as the enquiry be conducted in the interests of Truth.

The article to which we refer provides a concordance of all the references to ethnos in the N.T. from which we extract the following from the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2:5, 4:25, 7:7,45, 11:1,18, 13:19,46,47. Let us use these references as a test. Acts 2:5 speaks of the "nations" ethnoi among which the "Jews" who came to Pentecost lived. Some of them, namely Parthians, Medes and Elamites (Acts 2:9-11) are undoubtedly Gentiles in the accepted sense. Acts 4:25 quotes from Psalm two "Why do the heathen rage?" and in verse 27 these "heathen" or "Gentiles" are differentiated from Israel, and linked with Herod and Pontius Pilate. The writer of the Acts gives no indication that he believed that the word ethnos could, and did, refer to some of the dispersion of lsrael. Acts 7:7 uses the word ethnos to indicate the "Egyptians" and 7:45, like 13:19, refers to the "Canaanites" as indicated in Genesis 15:19-21. Here Gentiles as differentiated from Israel must be intended. Acts 11:1 and 18 refer to Cornelius who was a centurion of the Italian band, and called by Peter "one of another nation" (Acts 10:28). The word Peter employed is allophulos, and is found in the Septuagint of Exodus 34:15, Isaiah 2:6 and 61:5, as well as six times in Judges as the equivalent of "Philistines".

It is impossible therefore to believe that the acknowledgment of Acts 11:18, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life", can refer to Gentiles as such, but that a similar testimony in Acts 14:27 may not. Acts 13:42,46 and 47 are associated with Isaiah 49:6, which can only mean Gentiles in the generally accepted sense.

While we must encourage every believer to exercise the Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) we must not close our eyes to the Satanic travesty, equally mentioned in the same chapter of the Acts, namely the Athenian spirit of ever telling or hearing "something newer" (kainoteron) (Acts 17:21).

The Authorized Version, while containing faults that have been exposed by both friend and foe, still maintains an eminent position in spite of several versions that have followed it. Where the A.V. reads "Gentiles" in Genesis 10:5, the R.V. reads "nations". There is no question that "nations" is a good rendering, as verses 20,31 and 32 reveal. Why, it may be asked, did the A.V. choose to translate the first occurrence of the Hebrew Goyim by the word "Gentiles"? May it not be that instead of accusing them of ignorance, we should credit them with intelligent insight? True there can be no "Gentiles" where there are no "Jews", yet knowing what was written in Deuteronomy 32:8 they may have intended to indicate that all these "nations" would be "Gentiles" as soon as Israel came into view.

"When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance (a ref. to Gen. 10:5,32), when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel."

The Greeks made a similar distinction, calling the other nations of the world "Barbarians", which is accepted without comment by the writers of the N.T. The accepted meaning of the word "Gentile" in the English tongue is "any nation other than the people of Israel". It is impossible that any objection we may lodge at this time of day could or should dislodge this word from the dictionary and literature of the centuries. The wiser course is to use the term with discrimination, in other words, to practise Right Division even in the terms we are compelled to employ.

Body
The Greek word soma which is translated body in the New Testament occurs 147 times, and is translated body in all passages except two where it is rendered slave (Rev. 18:13) and bodily (2 Cor. 10:10). In the majority of cases soma refers to the actual physical body (Matt. 5:29; 26:12), in some cases it refers to the spiritual body that shall be given in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:35,37,44). With these aspects of the term we are not immediately concerned. The word body, however, is used in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians of a believing company or church, and to these references we now turn. The references in 1 Corinthians to the body as a company or church are found in chapters 10 to 12. This company are made one body by baptism.
For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
During the same dispensation and referring to the same baptism, the same apostle wrote of the same company:
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to th e promise (Gal. 3:27-29).
The one body therefore of 1 Corinthians 12 is a realization of the promise made to Abraham, and must not be confused with that which had at that time never been revealed. We must not attempt an exposition of 1 Corinthians 12 without referring to 1 Corinthians 10, for to do so will be fatal to a true understanding:
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10:1-4).
1 Corinthians 12 not only opens with desire that the reader should not be ignorant, there is the similar emphasis on the word same, Th e same spiritual meat; The same spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10:3,4). T he same spirit; The same Lord; The same God; The same spirit (1 Cor. 12:4,5,6,8,9). To refuse to compare these passages and be guided by this comparison is to set aside the principle of interpretation already laid down in Chapter 2:12. Not only are these repetitions of the desire that the Corinthians should not be ignorant, and the stress upon the same, but there is also the emphasis upon eating and drinking:
They did all eat the same spiritual meat: and did all drink the same spiritual drink.
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (1 Cor. 10:18).

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils (1 Cor. 10:21).
Take, eat: this is My body. As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till He come (1 Cor. 11:24,26).
These passages cannot be separated from the reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit.
The basis of the argument of the apostle in 1 Corinthians 10 to 12 is the baptism of all Israel unto Moses, and their consequent share in the spiritual meat and drink that followed. When he comes to expand an d apply this in 1 Corinthians 12, he opens the subject by saying: Now concerning spiritual gifts showing that he is now about to develop the typical significance of the spiritual meat and drink which all Isra el enjoyed. Consequently he calls upon all to recognize that while there are most certainly diversities of gifts, or differences of administrations or diversities of operations, these all come from the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God. In short the body of 1 Corinthians 12 cannot b e separated from the typical history of Israel, nor from the possession and use of spiritual gifts. To make it evident that spiritual gifts are the feature of this chapter, let us note the following facts:
  1. In the opening verse the apostle introduces the subject with the words Now concerning spiritual gifts.
  2. In verses 2 and 3 he differentiates between those spiritual gifts which are from God, and those that belong to the evil one.
  3. Having subdivided his subject, he now deals specifically with those gifts which are of God.
  4. In verses 5-11 he sets out in much detail the diverse nature of these spiritual gifts, enumerating among others healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues and interpretation. But, however diverse these gifts may be he takes us back to their one and only source, But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as He will (1 Cor. 12:11).
  5. Extending this idea, the apostle immediately introduces the figure of the body: For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ (1 Cor. 12:12).
  6. This is followed by a reference that links this theme with the baptism of Israel unto Moses and the Red Sea: For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . and have all been made to drink one spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).
  7. From this develops the remainder of the argument, which speaks of the human body, with its eye, its hand, its foot, and even its uncomely parts, which proves that the Church which is His body is not in vie w, for there are no uncomely parts there, and of that body Christ alone i s the head, whereas, here we have as many references to the various functions of the head (eye, ear, nose) as of the rest.
  8. To demonstrate that these members of the body refer to the distribution and functioning of spiritual gifts observe the following feature:
  9. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him (1 Cor. 12:18).
  10. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).
Here then is the employment of the figure of the body definitely related to the type of Israels baptism unto Moses, definitely related to the possession and the exercise of spiritual gifts, definitely related to the promise made to Abraham, but entirely unrelated to a church, whose members were chosen before the foundation of the world, a church where spiritual gifts are unknown, a church whose very existence was a mystery unrevealed when 1 Corinthians was written. The student who observes the frontiers set up by Dispensational Truth will never appeal to 1 Corinthians 10 to 12 as a passage which speaks of the Church of the one body of Ephesians. We turn now to the epistles of Paul, written after Acts 28:28 written to make known the truth of the Mystery, in order that we may obtain information concerning the Church which is called the Body of Christ.

First let us see the distribution of the word Body in Ephesians.

The Body
A 1:23. The Church which is His Body.
B 2:16. Reconciliation.
C 4:4. The One Body.
D 4:12. Gifts for building up.
E 4:16. Fitly framed together.
D 4:16. Members for growth.
C 5:23. Christ the Head.
B 5:28. Love.
A 5:30. The Church and members.
Two passages fall within the doctrinal section, namely Ephesians 1:23 and 2:16, the remaining seven being found in the practical section, chapters 4 and 5. Let us examine the doctrinal passage first, as these will supply the fundamental teaching of Ephesians concerning the Body. These references to the Church the Body, are not isolated, but form an integral part of the contextual argument, and just as we found the Body of 1 Corinthians 12, vitally and inseparably connected with Moses, Israel, Abraham and spiritual and miraculous gifts, so we shall find the reference to the Body in Ephesians 1:23 vitally and inseparably connected with the exaltation of the Saviour Far above all. There are seven sections in the doctrinal portion of Ephesians, and Ephesians 1:23 falls within the third of these subdivisions.  The following is its analysis:

Ephesians 1:19 to 2:7
A a 19. Energy (energeia energeo). Mighty power.
b 20. Wrought in Christ.
B c 20. Raised HIM. Heavenly places.
c 20,21. Seated HIM. This age or the coming one.
c 22,23. Gave HIM.
C The Church THE BODY. THE FULNESS.
A a 2:1,2. Energy (energeo). Prince of power of air.
b 2:2,3. Wrought in sons of disobedience.
B c 4,5. Quickened US. Heavenly places.
c 6. Raised US. The ages to come.
c 6,7. Seated US. In heavenly places.
It is evident from this passage that the Church of the one Body is vitally and inseparably connected with Christ in His exaltation far above all in heavenly places.   It is sufficient here to say that this sphere is never spoken of in connection with any other calling but that of the Mystery, which fact of itself lifts the Church of the one Body which is associated with it, into a distinct place in the purpose of the ages, not to be confused with the promises made to Abraham or any other age purpose that belongs to lower realms. These heavenly places are further defined as far above all principality and power (Eph. 1:21), far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10). It is where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20), and the superlative and marvel of grace is that this Church of the one Body is reckoned by God not only to be raised together but also seated together in those self-same heav enly places in Christ Jesus' (Eph. 2:6).

Then further, the title the Body is not the final title of this blesse d company. The full measure of grace and glory is realized when we read: The church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22,23). When the import of this word fulness is perceiv ed then something of the place of this company of the redeemed will be realized.

Sufficient has been brought forward to demonstrate the unique character of this high calling, which makes it impossible when once seen to confuse this Church of the Body with the references already considered in 1 Corinthians 10 to 12.

The Bride and The Body

Dr. R. A. Hadden wrote:
It is assumed almost universally that the Church of the present dispensation is at once the "Body of Christ" and "the Bride" ... Traditional theology, unscriptural hymnology, amazing disregard for correct interpretation, intolerant zeal for dogmatic human opinions together with careless defective instruction, have united for generations in perpetuating a phase of teaching possessing no foundation in or authority from Holy Scripture and perpetrating a system that plunges multitudes of believers in dire confusion concerning the plan, purpose and programme of God for "the Church which is His Body" as distinct from the Divine purpose concerning another outcalling known as "the Bride, the Lambs wife".
Sir Robert Anderson wrote:
Is the Church the Bride of Christ? Let us begin by correcting our terminology. In the Patmos visions we read of "The Bride, the Lambs wife", but "the Bride of Christ" is unknown to Scripture .. With the close of the Baptists ministry, both the Bride and the Lamb disappear from the New Testament until we reach the Patmos visions. In Revelation 21, the angel summoning the Seer to behold "the Bride" the Lambs wife, and he showed him "the Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God". The twelve gates of the city bear the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and on the twelve foundations are "the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" ... it is the city for which Abraham looked ... These apostles of the Bride are not the apostles who were given after the Ascension for the building up of the Body of Christ - the apostles of this Christian dispensation, chief among whom was Paul. They are the twelve apostles of the Lords earthly ministry to Israel, who shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28).
These two quotations contain enough to make the present investigation both serious and imperative. There is sufficient evidence for believing that the Church thus denominated in Ephesians 1:22,23, is unique, is entirely disassociated from the hope and calling of Israel, and was indeed hidden in the mind of God, unrevealed even in His Word, until the present dispensation of the Mystery followed the dismissal of Israel in Acts 28.

If we call upon the O.T. to bear a witness to the Church which is His Body, the answer is silence. Such a company and such a relationship is unknown. If, however, we call upon the O.T. to bear a witness to a company of redeemed, that are likened to either wife or bride, the answer is affirmative and very full. When Jeremiah prophesied of the institution of the New Covenant, he said, "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them". This supposes that under the terms of the old covenant, Israel were related to the Lord as a wife to an husband. This is recognized by Ezekiel, who wrote, namely in Ezekiel 16:7-14. The figure employed, "I spread my skirt over thee" when compared with Ruth 3:9 reveals the marriage relationship, which is explained by Ezekiel as entering into a "covenant" and "prospering as a kingdom".

The charge laid against Israel, however, is that they proved unfaithful to their marriage vow, Ezekiel likened them to "a wife that committeth adultery" (Ezek. 16:32) and says that Israel will be judged "as a woman that breaketh wedlock" (Ezek. 16:38). The phrase, which has become common in modern matrimonial lawsuits, "breach of promise", is used by God of Israel in Numbers 14:34; and divorcement is employed by Jeremiah to set forth this people's unhappy position.
"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? .
Turn O backsliding children saith the Lord: for I am married unto you" (Jer. 3:1,14).

Isaiah speaks of divorcement saying:
"Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?" (Isa. 50:1).
The same Isaiah has some glowing words to say regarding the ultimate restoration of this wayward people:
"Thou shaft no more be termed Forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shaft be called Hephzibah and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married" (Isa. 62:4).
The prophet Hosea, is the prophet of the interval between the setting aside of Israel and of their restoration. In Chapter one, he has three children bearing prophetic names:
Jezreel.           "Scattering" and also "Sowing".
Lo-ruhamah.    "Not having obtained mercy."
Lo-ammi.         "Not My people."
In Chapter two the prophet continues, "she is not My wife, neither am I her husband" but at the close, all is reversed, all is restored:
"I will betroth thee unto Me for ever".
"I will sow (Jezreel) her unto Me in the earth, and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy: and I will say unto them which were not My people, Thou art My people: and they shall say, Thou art my God" (2:23).
Chapter three speaks of the long waiting period of Israel's divorcement: "Thou shalt abide for Me many days...for the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a Prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, an without an ephod, and without teraphim."

If we considered the dispensational boundary of Acts twenty-eight where Israel's hope is suspended, Israel's long period of blindness and wandering commenced, and where Israel entered into her long period of divorcement. This later thought is implicit in the word translated "departed" in verse 25 which should be rendered "dismissed" for the word is passive. This word apoluo had a distinct meaning, and one that bears closely upon the divorcement of Israel in Acts twenty-eight. Here are the first occurrences of this Greek word in the N.T.
"He was minded to put her away privily".
"Whosoever shall put away his wife".
"Shall marry her that is divorced" (Matt. 1:19, 5:31,32).
The predicted "Lo Ammi condition of Hosea one commences here, the long night of Israel's exile begins here, and the new Dispensation of the grace of God to the Gentiles begins here. The Bride of the Lamb must be distinguished from the national restoration of Israel, set forth in the symbol of a wife divorced, then taken back forgiven and blessed. The Revelation is particularly concerned with a believing, overcoming remnant, and it is this overcoming remnant out of Israel that is depicted under the figure of a Bride. While this distinction must be observed, some expositors have attempted to make a distinction between "wife" of Revelation nineteen and the "bride" of Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two. Restored Israel, as the wife once divorced and at last taken back again is not the subject of the book of the Revelation. Restored Israel as such, has no place in the heavenly city, that is reserved for the heavenly calling of the kingdom. Abraham had the land as an assured inheritance but as an overcomer, he looked higher, and waited for the heavenly city. In both Revelation nineteen and twenty one it is the "Lamb" who is the Bridegroom.

It is assumed, that because Revelation 21:1 opens with a vision of the new heavens and new earth, all that follows belongs also to that great day, but this cannot be, for it is still possible to be excluded as verses 8 and 27 show. It is a characteristic of these visions of the Apocalypse to lead up to a climax, as in Revelation 6:14-17, and then to go back in time and approach the same climax by another avenue. The same principle that would make the wife of Revelation nineteen distinct from the bride of Revelation twenty-one, sees two separate creations and two Adams, in the dual records of Genesis one and two, whereas it is obvious that in the second account fuller details are given. The word "wife" is not exclusive to the record of Revelation nineteen, for in 21:9 we re "as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels" (Isa. 61:10).

In Revelation nineteen the marriage supper of the Lamb is inaugurated. A specific period of time was observed for this ceremony, referred to in Genesis' 29:27 as "her week", and it appears from the Revelation that this week" lasts throughout the millennium, after which the holy city is seen descending from heaven and the "tabernacle of God" will be with men. The language of Revelation 21:10 when compared with Revelation 17:1 places these two women, these two cities, these two systems in direct opposition, a third woman, city or system would be an intruder here.

Before concluding, we must consider the teaching that affirms that the Church of the Mystery, "The Body" must be at the same time "The Bride" by reason of what is taught in Ephesians five. First, it is a matter of demonstrable truth that the Church of the Mystery is called "The Body" of which Christ is the Head. Secondly, the statement made by Paul as to the exclusive character of this high calling, would not only be nullified; but would prove to be unwarrantable exaggerations, if after all that is written in Ephesians one to three, this Church should turn out to be a part of the hope of Israel or the promise made to Abraham. Thirdly, the Apostle (to say nothing of the deeper thought of inspiration) could be accused of badly mixing his metaphors.

We remember once meeting an enthusiast for "The Bride" who contended that the Man child of Revelation twelve must be the Bride! but this is no more extravagant than maintaining that a company destined to be "the perfect Man" is nevertheless "The Bride". It may be objected that the word "man" includes both sexes, but this is not so. Anthropos yes, but Path does not use the word anthropos in Ephesians 4:13 but aner, a word actually translated in Ephesians five by the English word "husband", so that they who insist that the Church of Ephesians five is the bride, must insist that Paul taught that the bride will be the perfect husband-which is absurd.

Ephesians five and six belong, to the practical portion of the epistle and in these chapters human society is divided up into three groups: (1) Wives, Husbands. (2) Children, Parents. (3) Servants, Masters. Quite irrespective of the dispensation of grace these three divisions of society would need to be recognized, and wives and husbands are just as surely advised on their relation to the calling that Peter administered as wives and husbands were advised as to their relation to the calling administered by Paul.

Again, some have pointed out that the Church is feminine, and that the pronouns in Ephesians 5:25, 27 should be translated "her" and "she" instead of "it" thereby making it clear that the Church is "the bride". This, however, is just sheer ignorance, or trading upon ignorance. Gender in grammar is not the same as sex. Does anyone imagine that because la table in French is "feminine" it has the remotest allusion to sex? We need not, however, go outside the Greek of Ephesians five itself to demonstrate how utterly false the argument is that would speak of the Church as "she". Kephale "Head" is feminine. Is Christ, the Bridegroom, therefore a female? Akatharsia "uncleanness" is feminine. Do we therefore teach that this is impossible for a man to exhibit or fall into? Basileia "kingdom" is feminine, rutis "wrinkle" is feminine, sarx "flesh" is feminine, and so on. Nothing concerning the calling of the Church can be made out of the fact that the word ekklesia is in the feminine gender. Does Ephesians five say that the Church is the bride, therefore wives should act in accordance with the fact? The answer is No, it draws its power of appeal, from the fact that these "wives" were by grace members of the Body."
"He is the Saviour of the Body" (Eph. 5:23).
"We are members of His Body" (Eph. 5:30).
"No man hateth his own flesh" (Eph. 5:29).
In the new creation, when all the redeemed of all ages are raised, the Church which is the perfect Man, or husband, and the Church which is the BRIDE may re-enact in its full spiritual sense, the union of the first man and woman (Gen. 2:21-24), but that lies beyond the present limits of the ages and dispensations. The Church which is His Body is one company, with a calling that is unique and distinct. The Church of the Bride is another company with a calling unique and distinct, and until God joins these two together let no man attempt to do so.

All God's Blessings,
The Believers

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