Friday, October 20, 2017

pleroma

(10) THE TITLE HEAD, AND ITS RELATION TO "THE FULNESS"

The highest title ascribed to Christ in any dispensation other than that of the Mystery is that of "a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec". This priesthood is superior to that of Aaron, it functions at the right hand of God, its sphere is the true tabernacle which God pitched and not man, namely "heaven itself", and it combines the two offices of King and Priest. Just as water cannot rise above its own level, so no calling can rise above the position set by Christ, and the calling that recognizes Him as King-Priest is itself "a Kingdom of Priests", "a holy nation and a royal priesthood".

It is significant that throughout the Prison Epistles, Christ is never called either "King" or "Priest", even as it is equally true that the church of that calling is never called a kingdom or a priesthood, but is called "the Body" of Christ. Argument from the absence of terms, like arguing from a negative is in most cases suspect, but in this particular instance it cannot be said that a "kingdom" is never mentioned in the Prison Epistles. We read in Ephesians 5:5 of "the Kingdom of Christ and of God"; in Colossians 1:13 and Col. 4:11 of "the kingdom of His dear Son" and of "the kingdom of God", and in 2 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Tim. 4:18, "His appearing and His kingdom", and "His heavenly kingdom". In the epistles of Paul other than the four great Prison Epistles, a "kingdom" is mentioned nine times, but the only passage where Christ can be said to have the title King is in 1 Timothy 6:15, where however the exhibition of the title is spoken of as a future event "which in His times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate the King of kings, and Lord of lords".

The epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians contain terms that seem to demand the work of a priest, such as "acceptance", "access", "made nigh", "offer", yet there is not a single reference outside of Hebrews to Christ as a priest. In epistles before and after Acts twenty-eight, Christ is represented as "seated at the right hand of God", yet never, outside of Hebrews, is the office of priest mentioned. If a "dominion" and a "coronation" are indications of the presence of a king, then Adam was a king. The "dominion" given to him is the translation of the Hebrew radah, a word translated elsewhere "reign" and "rule" and used of Christ "the King's Son" in Psalm 72:8. The word translated "crowned" in Psalm 8:5 is the Hebrew atar, which is the verb form of atarah "the king's crown" (2 Sam. 12:30). Adam, however, is never once spoken of as a king. He was a figure of Him that was to come, and can be spoken of with propriety as HEAD of the human race, and as such he embraced all that kingship can mean, but much more.

Noah not only had dominion in his degree (Gen. 9:2) but he offered sacrifices with acceptance (Gen. 8:20-21). The word "sweet" which is used of the savour of the sacrifice offered is employed throughout the O.T. to indicate the "savour" or "odour" of sacrifice. We should, therefore, not be surprised to find that Noah was a "priest". Yet he is never so called. He can be, however, designated as Adam was before him HEAD of the race of which those delivered from the flood were the progenitors.

Abraham was the father of "kings" (Gen. 17:6), and even of THE KING, the Lord Himself, Who was according to the flesh both son of Abraham and son of David, yet Abraham himself is never called a king. Abraham not only built an altar, at the beginning of his pilgrimage upon which the only sacrifices permitted would have been those taken from the herd and the flock, he came nearer to the heart of all true sacrifice when he was called upon to offer his only begotten son Isaac, yet Abraham is never called a priest. Like Adam and Noah, Abraham is more than king, more than priest, he is the father of Israel, to which he stands without contradiction as HEAD.

Even when we leave the chosen people, and turn our attention to the first great king whose reign commenced the times of the Gentiles - Nebuchadnezzar, he too is spoken of by Daniel as "This HEAD of gold" (Dan. 2:38). Each one of the great outstanding figures that have foreshadowed the pleroma, or fulness, were "Heads" and in this they foreshadowed all that the office of King, Priest and Prophet alone could set forth. Even though Christ be never called either Prophet, Priest or King in the epistles of the Mystery, the Church of the One Body loses nothing if Christ is its HEAD; He is more than King and Priest and Prophet to the Church, for headship covers all.

With this preparation, let us turn to the epistles of the Fulness, the Prison Epistles of Paul, and observe the way in which this title "head" is employed. The Greek word kephale is used of Christ in the Prison Epistles seven times, and the verb anakephalaioomai once. Let us look at the usage of this verb, which means "to head up". It occurs in Ephesians 1:10 where it is translated "to gather together in one" in the A.V., "to sum up" in the R.V. and in Weymouth's translation "of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ", and by J. N. Darby "to head up all things in Christ". It is in connection with the "pleroma" of the seasons that this figure of "heading up" is used, no other term being so appropriate or so complete. When the "fulness" arrives, Christ will be infinitely more than King, or Priest, He will be "HEAD". The references to Christ as "Head" in the Prison Epistles are limited to the epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians (Eph. 1:22; Eph. 4:15; Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18; Col. 2:10, Col. 2:19).

These six references to kephale, expand the promise of Ephesians 1:10, the Church of the present dispensation being the most complete foreshadowing of the goal of the ages that the Scriptures contain. To turn back to the types and shadows employed in earlier Scriptures is to turn by comparison from substance to shadow, although the "substance" here in its turn must necessarily be but a "shadow" of the reality yet to come. The first passage brings us back from the day when all things in heaven and earth shall be headed up in Christ, to the present period when in a day of rejection, confusion and darkness, an elect company find that Christ is to them what He will be universally in the future.

Kephale "Head" in Ephesians and Colossians

A  Eph. 1:22  Head over all things to the Church which is His Body.
                    In the context Christ is seen raised and seated "far
                    above all principality and power". The word pleroma
                    being used as a title of the Church

B  a  Eph.4:15  Grow up.. . which is the Head, even Christ.
                       In the context is seen the body
                      "fitly joined"together, every "joint"
                      working toward the "increase"of the Body.
                      The word pleroma being used in verse 13
                      as the goal of the Church "the measure of the stature
                      of the fulness of Christ"

          b Eph. 5 :23   Christ is the Head of the Church

A  Col. 1:18  He is the Head of the Body the Church
                   In the context principalities and powers
                  are seen to be His creation, and the
                  word pleroma is used in verse 19
                  "It pleased the Father that in Him should
                  all fulness dwell "

B       Col. 2:10  Christ is the head of all principality and power.
                            The word pleroma being found in verse 9

     a  Col. 2:19   Holding the head, from which all the Body
                         by "joints and bands" being "knit together"
                         "increaseth with the increase of God".

"And gave Him to be Head over all things to THE CHURCH" (Eph. 1:22). Christ is not yet recognized as "Head over all things", the day is future when "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess" but what will be true then, in its widest sense, is true now of "the Church which is His Body". In the glorious future "God" will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28), but that day has not yet come. In the Church which is His Body "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). In the glorious future "all things are put under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:27), but as in Hebrews, we say today, "we see not yet all things put under Him" (Heb. 2:8); we can see His Ascension "far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" and the fact that He is already Head over all things to the church, is a most glorious anticipation of this universal subjection of all to Him, and this Ephesians 1:22 indicates, by joining together the two themes:

  1. "And hath put all things under His feet".
  2. "And gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church".

This Church then is in a unique position. It anticipates as no other calling and company has or can, the goal of the ages. It is meet, therefore, that this should be set forth, and the Apostle follows the passage already quoted by revealing that this Church, which is His Body, is something more, it is "the fulness" of Him, Who in His turn is the One that "filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). All the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him "bodily", the Church which is His "Body" and in whom He dwells (Eph. 2:22, Eph. 3:17) is His fulness. What Christ is to the invisible God, the Church is to Christ. What Christ is to the whole purpose of the ages, the Church of the One Body is in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 1:10 is here illustrated, foreshadowed, and anticipated and this of itself is a glorious position to occupy, quite apart from all the other wonders of grace and glory that are associated with this high calling. Rotherham translates Ephesians 1:23:

"Which indeed is His Body. The fulness of Him Who the all things in all is for Himself filling up".

Moffatt reads:

"Filled by Him Who fills the universe entirely".

Possibly the rendering given by Cunnington is nearest the truth:

"The fulness of Him Who all in all is receiving His fulness",

to which he appends a footnote, "Philippians 2:7, process of cancelling the Emptying". "Cancelling the Emptying". What a thought! A.T. writing in The Differentiator of August 1955 comments:

"Here we have a most beautiful thought. When Christ Jesus (note the term) emptied Himself, He must have emptied Himself of His fulness. But after His resurrection He got back His fulness-"in Him delights the entire fulness to dwell" (Col. 1:19) -"in Him is dwelling the entire fulness of the Deity bodily" (Col. 2:9).

Dr. Robinson gives a new thought from Colossians 2:9:

"For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Deity in a bodily way, and ye are filled (or fulfilled) in Him".

This is usually taken to refer to the Godhead residing in the Lord's body in all its completeness. But Dr. Robinson says this would be to neglect Paul's special use of the terms "fulness" and "body" in his epistles. The empty deceit of the philosophical despoiler can only give tradition and world elements in place of the heavenly Christ. . . . Thus St. Paul looks forward to the ultimate issue of the Divine purpose for the universe . . . this is found in Christ 'by way of a body'; that is to say; in Christ as a whole in which the head and the body are inseparably one".

The Saviour had a glory "before the world was" (John 17:5); He emptied Himself (Phil. 2:7), and has been subsequently highly exalted. THAT GLORY He can and will share with the redeemed.

"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one" (John 17:22).

The fulness of Him that filleth all in all is the most blessed anticipation of the day when God shall be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).

We have seen that the title "Head" gathers up into itself all that the separate titles "King", "Priest" and "Prophet" imply, with ever so much more than any of these titles taken separately, or all together can ever teach or contain. That Church of which Christ is "Head" not only lacks nothing, but is infinitely more blessed, is in a closer relationship with Christ, and anticipates the goal of the ages in a way that no other company could ever do. We have seen that Ephesians 1:10 finds its expansion and anticipation in Ephesians 1:22-23, and we now pass on to the other references to Christ as the Head as they occur in the epistles of the Mystery. The next reference to Christ as "Head" occurs in the practical section of Ephesians:

"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15).

Practice grows out of doctrine, and doctrine deals with calling, sphere of blessing, and standing in grace. What is stated as a fact before God in the revelation of the doctrine of Ephesians, awaits experimental realization in the practical section. Let us see this in the large, before concentrating our attention upon the detail.

As a consequence of the Saviour's exaltation, "far above all", in Ephesians 1:20-22, He is seen as Head over all things to the Church, which church is called "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all". Turning to Ephesians four, we find that the Ascension "far above all" is restated, and the "fulness" indicated as a goal.

"He that descended is the same also that ascended up FAR ABOVE ALL heavens, that He might FILL ALL THINGS" (Eph. 4:10).

The gift of Apostles, etc., from this Ascended One has as its goal "the perfect man", and its measure the stature of "the fulness" of Christ (Eph. 4:13). It is evident from this language of Ephesians 4:8-13, that we are here presented with the outworking of the truth set out in chapter one.

Coming now to Ephesians 4:15, we observe that the words of the A.V., "speaking the truth in love", are somewhat free, there being no equivalent in the Greek, for the word "speaking". The A.V. margin puts as an alternative "being sincere" and the R.V. margin reads "dealing truly". The Greek word under consideration is aletheuein, of which Alford, in his commentary, says "it is almost impossible to express it satisfactorily in English", and suggests the translation "being followers of truth" but says of this "the objection to 'followers of truth' is that it may be mistaken for 'searchers after truth', but I can find no expression which does not lie open to equal objection" . The only other occurrence of aletheuein is Galatians 4:16, where the A.V. renders it, "because I tell (you) the truth".

It is not possible in English to say "truthing in love", we must say, "being sincere", "being true or truthful" or "speaking the truth". None of these expressions, however, exactly present to the mind what the verb aletheuein does. The LXX of Genesis 42:16 employs this word where we read, "ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you; or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies".

In Isaiah 44:26, the LXX employs aletheuein to translate the word shalam "perform", but when the same Hebrew word occurs again in verse 28, it is there translated by the Greek poiein "to make or to do". If we can imagine a word in English that conjures up to the mind a person whose whole life is truth, whose very breath and atmosphere is truth, whose desires, will, plans and activities are truth, we may perhaps approach the meaning of Ephesians 4:15. This utter regard for "truth", however, is balanced, for it must be held "in love"; without that, such zeal in present circumstances would lead to fanaticism and a persecuting spirit.

This utter regard for truth held in love is the great accessory to "growth", "may grow up into Him in all things". Growing up into Christ in all things is the practical echo of the basic doctrinal fact that has already been revealed concerning the constitution of the Church of the One Body in Ephesians 1:22-23. Not only so, but it is the practical and experimental echo of the truth revealed in Ephesians 2:21.

"In Whom all the building FITLY FRAMED TOGETHER (sunarmologomai) GROWETH (auxano) unto an holy temple in the Lord" .

The word sunarmologomai is repeated in Ephesians 4:16 where it is translated "FITLY JOINED TOGETHER", and the words auxano and auxesis are found in Ephesians 4:15-16, "may GROW (auxano) UP unto Him"; "maketh INCREASE (auxesis) of the Body" .

Not only do these words recur, but just as the Church of the One Body is the fulness of Him that filleth ALL (ta panta "all these") in all, so this growth of Ephesians 4:15 is unto Him in ALL (these) THINGS (ta panta). Most translators supply the preposition "in" before "all things" in order to make easy reading, and this reading may give the intention of the Apostle, namely, that the Church should grow up into Christ in every particular, in all ways, in all things. Nevertheless, the mind returns to the fact that what the Apostle actually wrote was auxesomen eis auton ta panta, which rendered literally reads, "we may grow into Him the all things". This rendering, while it does not "read" and is not good English, leaves in the mind a different conception from that of the A.V. Can it be the Apostle intends us to understand him to mean, that by holding the truth inviolate in love, we shall be encouraging that growth into Him, which the N.T. speaks of as ta panta, some specific, blessed totality of glory, in which Christ is now the summary ta panta Himself, "the all things" in all? (Col. 3:11), anticipating the goal of God, when God Himself shall be ta panta en pasin, "the all things in all"? Before, however, such words can have their true effect, it becomes necessary that we pause here, in order to place before the reader, the peculiar usage of the phrase ta panta, for the phrase "the all things" sounds strange to our ears.

Pas is an adjective, translated either "all or "every" in the majority of cases. The plural panta "all things" is used with or without the article, and these two forms must be distinguished. We cannot very well translate ta panta "the all things" for that has an un-English sound, but a survey of the usage of these two forms panta and ta panta, may enable us to reach some agreed rendering that will satisfy every claim, and present a fair translation of the inspired original. The two forms are found in Romans eight and their fitness is easily recognized by reason of the context of each form.

There is a good deal of suffering in Romans eight, induced both by the failure and frailty of the believer himself, and coming upon him by reason of his fellowship with Christ, his place in a groaning creation, and the attack of enemies. In consequence, he is sometimes at a loss to know "what to pray for" as he ought, but he does know, in the midst of all life's uncertainty, that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). Here "all things" is panta without the article "the" ta, all things whether good or evil. Later in the chapter the Apostle says:

"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

Here "all things" is ta panta, some specific "all things" namely those things which come under the heading of Redemption, and which constitute the goal and consummation of the ages. Panta without the article is unlimited, panta with the article is restricted to the realm of redeeming grace. "All these" is the translation of ta panta in Colossians 3:8 which is a good example of its restricted meaning.

Romans eleven does not teach that "all things" without limit or restriction owe their origin, persistence and final blessing to the Lord:

"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are ta panta" (Rom. 11:36), namely that conception of the universe that embraces all in heaven and in earth that come under the grace and power of the Redeemer. The advocates of universal reconciliation, while recognizing the presence of the article in Romans 11:32, use this verse to support their doctrine and omit the articles in their translation. It is not the teaching here that "God hath concluded ALL in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon ALL", but the whole verse should be rendered;

"For God had concluded THEM ALL in unbelief, that He might have mercy on THEM ALL" (Rom. 11:32).

Where universality is intended in Romans 9:5, the article is omitted, God is over ALL, without limitation or reserve. In the verses that follow, Paul uses ALL without the article with this same discrimination, "for they are not all Israel (pantes without the article) which are of Israel" the "seed" were called "in Isaac" (Rom. 9:6-7). We must therefore read the words, "and so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:26) in the light of Romans 9:6-7. The "all" that are to be saved being those who were "in Isaac", a type and shadow of the greater company of the saved at the end. In case the reader should expect to find the article here we point out that the word "all" does not here stand alone and without qualification, pas Israel "all Israel" is already limited and does not need the article "the".

Let us note the use of panta and ta panta in Ephesians, and by this we do not intend every single occurrence, for such phrases as "all spiritual blessings" do not come within the scope of this inquiry.

That which is to be "gathered together in one" is ta panta (Eph. 1:10) not panta without the article. That which is "put in subjection under His feet" is panta all things including enemies (Eph. 1:22). He is also head over all things, panta, good as well as evil, to the Church which is His Body (Eph.1:22), and He is the One who fills ta panta, that special company, without limit or reserve. The second reference to "all" is without the article, and en pasin has been rendered "everywhere", "in every way" and "in every case". The creation of "all things" ta panta of Ephesians 3:9 is limited, because it is directly associated with the Mystery which had been hid in God.

Where the words "One God and Father of ALL, Who is above ALL, and through ALL and in (you) ALL" (Eph. 4:6) occur, the word used is panton and pasin without the article. The subject is already limited to "the Unity of the Spirit", and the insertion of humin "you" in the text followed by the A.V. shows that this sense was clearly understood. J. N. Darby adopts the reading hemin "in us all", which has been rendered by some "and in all To You", making the passage balance Ephesians 1:22, where Christ is not revealed as Head over all in the fullest sense yet, but as Head over all To THE CHURCH.

One passage in Colossians must be included. Paul speaks of the new creation "where there is neither Greek nor Jew . . . but (ta panta kai en pasin Christos) the all things and in all Christ" (Col. 3:11). Here "Christ" is put in apposition to "the all things", He Himself sums up in Himself the entire new creation. Of this He is the Head, it is in His image that all will be renewed, all other categories of worth and privilege are lost and put aside.

So also in Ephesians 4:15 ta panta "the all things" is in apposition with the "Head, even Christ". The "Fulness" that embraces this "all things" is Christ and His Church, not Christ alone, and certainly not the Church alone. Of both Christ and His Church is "Fulness" predicated, but only as Head and Body making one blessed company. True growth presses to "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ", and in this dispensation, the growth of the One Body up into Him Who is the Head is the great example and exhibition of what the day of glory will reveal in its perfection.

Christ as "Head" , that is our theme, and here we see the first unfolding which is in germ in Ephesians 1:22,23.

As we prosecute our studies we shall learn that other phases of this growth and perfecting are associated with Christ the Head until, we hope, when the survey is completed, every reader will concur with our proposition, set out earlier in this exposition, that whatever blessings are to be associated with the great title of King, Priest and Prophet, they are all absorbed, filled and taken to their true end, in the one great title given to Christ in the epistles of the Mystery, "The Head".

 

(11) "THE FULNESS OF THE SEASONS"

The failure of Israel at the time of Nebuchadnezzar was answered by the times of the Gentiles, which commenced in the third year of Jehoiakim, King of Judah (Dan.1:1), but, although earthly dominion passed from Israel at that time, they did not become lo-ammi in the full sense of the term until a fuller and deeper apostasy opened a deeper gulf, that could only be spanned by a greater and more spiritual fulness among the Gentiles. In the fulness of time, God sent forth His Son, and His birth at Bethlehem and His genealogy constitute the opening chapter of the book of the New Covenant (Matt. 1). The earthly ministry of the Saviour opened with a proclamation concerning the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 4:17), and as "The King of the Jews" He was crucified (Matt. 27:37). The earlier stages of the culmination of rejection is revealed in chapters eleven to thirteen:

Matt. 11:20, 26     "They repented not". "Even so Father".

Matt. 12:6,41,42   "A greater than the temple, than Jonah and than Solomon" rejected (priest, Prophet and King).

Matt. 13               The MYSTERY of the kingdom of heaven.

In these three chapters the gap and its antidote is anticipated. The miracles which the Saviour wrought, had as their primary purpose the repentance of Israel, and so to lead to the setting up of the kingdom (Matt. 11:20-24). Christ stood in their midst as Prophet, Priest and King, but they knew Him not.

In Matthew twelve we meet the first favorable use of the word "Gentile". In Matthew 10:5 the disciples were told "go not into the way of the Gentiles" but upon it becoming manifest in Matthew eleven, that Israel were not going to repent, a change is indicated.

"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying . . . He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles . . . And in His name shall the Gentiles trust" (Matt. 12:17-21).

The next chapter, Matthew thirteen, supplies the third keyword namely "mystery". Summing up these momentous chapters we have:

1. No repentance of Israel, in spite of evidence of miracles.

2. The inclusion of the Gentiles for the first time, consequent upon Israel's failure.

3. The kingdom of heaven passes into its "mystery" stage, and the parable form of speech is introduced.

The introduction of the Parable, contrary to popular interpretation, was NOT in order that the common people should be enabled to understand the message of the Gospel, but to veil the new aspect of truth from the eyes of those who were non-repentant. As this point of view is so contrary to that which is considered "orthodox" let us consider what the Lord actually said in answer to His disciples' question, "Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?" (Matt. 13:10). The very fact that the disciples were moved to ask such a question suggests that the parable form of speech was new to the Saviour's method hitherto. His answer is unambiguous and conclusive.

"He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know THE MYSTERIES of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matt. 13:11).

The second part of the Lord's answer indicates that a great dispensational change was imminent.

"Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias . . . but blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear" (Matt. 13:13-16).

The people of Israel had reached the point when the blindness prophesied by Isaiah had begun to take effect. It is a matter of importance to note the peculiar word used by the Lord here, that is translated "fulfilled". Up to Matthew 13:14 the accepted formula "that it might be fulfilled" or "then was fulfilled" translates the verb pleroo, and this on seven occasions (Matt. 1:22, Matt. 2:15, Matt. 2:17, Matt. 2:23; Matt. 4:14; Matt. 8:17 and Matt. 12:17). Once only in the whole record of the Saviour's utterances, is there a departure from this rule, and that is made at Matthew 13:14, where the intensive form anapleroo is employed. There is an element of completion about this word, as 1 Thessalonians 2:16 will show.

Even though the long suffering of God waited throughout the whole period covered by the Acts of the Apostles, and there was granted a stay of execution consequent upon the Saviour's prayer and the witness of Pentecost, it is not without significance, that when the Apostle in his turn quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 in a similar context, namely, upon the rejection of Israel, the favorable mention of the Gentile, and the bringing in of the dispensation of the Mystery, he does not say, "in them is fulfilled" but instead says, "well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers" (Acts 28:25). What was law in Matthew twelve is fact in Acts twenty-eight.

At the failure of Israel, the Apostle Paul became the Prisoner of the Lord, and as such received the dispensation of the grace of God for the Gentiles, the dispensation of the Mystery (Eph.3:1-9 R.V.), and while the church of this new dispensation is usually referred to by its title, "the Church which is His Body" or "the One Body", there is an extension of this title that is of vast importance. The full passage reads:

"And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church which is His body, THE FULNESS of Him that FILLETH ALL in all" (Eph. 1:22,23).

When the dispensation of the Mystery comes to an end, the successive dispensations that have suffered a rupture will be resumed, and the signs of the times thicken around us, that tell us plainly that the lo-ammi ("not My people") condition is nearing its close. Already believing Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah are gathering and witnessing in complete independence of Gentile Christianity, and the claim of Israel for national recognition, made at Pentecost 1948, while not to be confused with the day when they shall be restored by the Lord Himself (Ezek. 34:11-16), is certainly an indication that the great epoch is upon us. The Church of the Mystery fills the last gap in the outworking of the ages, and in this dispensation of the Mystery, the conception of "Fulness" receives its fullest exposition. The following are the references in the Prison Epistles that must be given attention before our study of this subject can be considered at all complete.

Pleroma in the Prison Epistles

"The dispensation of the fulness of times" (Eph. 1:10).

"The fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23).

"That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19).

"The measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).

"It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" (Col. 1:19).

"For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

These references fall into two groups:

The one reference that speaks of the fulness of times.

The five references that speak of the Church and the Lord.

In this study we will deal with the first reference, Ephesians 1:10.

"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him".

It is evident that the passages flow out of something stated earlier. In verse 9 we read of "the mystery of His will" which He hath purposed in Himself, and this leads to the opening word of verse 10, eis "unto". This preposition eis variously translated "into", "unto", "in", "to", "for", "towards", "until", "throughout", "concerning", "that", "with" and "on" in this one epistle to the Ephesians, has one underlying meaning however varied the translation; it indicates a goal "unto" which something tends. We could freely translate eis here in Ephesians 1:10 by the words "with a view to". The secret of His will and its revelation at this time is with a view to a dispensation.

What is in view is "a dispensation of the fulness of times". When the Son of God came into the world it was "when the fulness of the TIME was come" (Gal. 4:4), here in Ephesians we look forward to a dispensation of the fulness of TIMES. What is the difference between these two expressions "time" and "times"?

"Time" is from the same root as "tide", and Aristotle observes "our conception of time originates in that of motion". Time is the measure of movement. To say that a motor-car was travelling at sixty miles, says nothing, the complete statement must be "sixty miles per hour", or day as the case may be. "Season" on the other hand derives from the Latin sationem, "a sowing", and looks not so much at the time but at the fitness and suitableness of the period under review.

"How many things by season season'd are" (Shakespeare).

We therefore should revise Ephesians 1:10 and read:

"A dispensation of the fulness of the seasons".

Gap after gap has been succeeded by fulness after fulness, as we have already seen in the outworking of the age purpose, and at last we have arrived at the fulness of these seasons, the many sowings are past, the harvest is in view. The outstanding characteristic of the dispensation of the fulness of the seasons is that therein;

"He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him".

Where universality is intended, "things under the earth" are added, as in Philippians 2:10. Here the all things headed up in Christ is limited to the redeemed.

Strictly speaking there is no Greek word for "gather together", and no Greek word for "in" or "one", this is a free rendering of the one word anakephalaioomai. Had the Apostle meant to say "gather together" he had the word sunago ready to his hand.

The Greek word kephale means the "head" and this both in the literal sense (Matt. 14:11) and in the spiritual (Eph. 4:15): Kephalaion means the "sum" either a sum of money (Acts 22:28), or a summary or summing up (Heb. 8:1). It must be remembered that the ancients placed the sum of a column of figures at the head, and not at the foot as we do now. Kephalis (Heb. 10:7) may refer to the brief "contents" that was written on the outside of a scroll, rather than the complete "volume". The word used by Paul in Ephesians 1:10 therefore means something more than "to gather together in one", it means "to head up" or "to sum up" in Himself all that compose "the all things" before the great day of glory dawns. In Ephesians 1:22-23 this glorious "summing up" is foreshadowed and anticipated in the present position of Christ, and His relation with the Church of the present calling.

"And hath put all things under His feet (this is quoted again in 1 Cor. 15:27 and Heb. 2:8 with age-purpose associations), and gave Him to be Head (kephale) over all things (panta, all things without exception, whereas in Eph. 1:10 ta panta refers to the redeemed) to the Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him, that filleth all in all (ta panta, not the wider term).

 

(12) "ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD"

The Church of the One Body is the great outstanding anticipation of the goal of the ages. It is associated with Him, under Whose feet are all things, it is associated with a dispensation of the fulness of the seasons, when all things are to be summed up in Him, and it is itself called:

"The fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23).

How are we to understand this statement? It falls into line with the last occurrence of pleroma in Colossians, and as for that, the last, in the N.T.

"For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

The first occurrence of pleroma in Ephesians, stands by itself (Eph. 1:10); the remainder form a group that expand the theme, thus:

A "The Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). Head. Body. Filleth all

B "The whole family in heaven and earth . . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19). Whole family. Heaven and Earth. Dwell

C "He ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. . ., Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ" (Eph. 4:8-13). Fill all things

B "For in Him were all things created . . . all things were created by Him and for Him . . . He is the Head of the body the church . . . for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell. . . to reconcile all things . . . in earth or things in heaven" (Col. 1:16-20). All things. Dwell. Heaven and Earth

A "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye . are filled to the full in Him, Which is the Head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9-10). Head. Principality. Filled.

Here is a very complete conspectus of this mighty theme, point answering point with such precision, that no approach to one corresponding member can be undertaken without due consideration of the other. This, the reader will perceive is fraught with immediate consequences. It forces a comparison between Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 2:9-10.

The passage in Colossians 2:9 has been taken as one of the proof texts of the Deity of Christ. The doctrine of the Deity of Christ constitutes a central belief here at Believer.com yet we believe it to be a mistake to use Colossians 2:9 as a proof of that wondrous doctrine. The Church of the One Body is "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all", but such a revelation does not justify the thought that the Church is "Divine". The prayer of Ephesians three is that the believer may be "filled with all the fulness of God" and if to be filled with all the fulness of the Godhead bodily teaches the Deity of Christ in Colossians 2:9, what does Ephesians 3:19 teach of the believer? Identical language, pan to pleroma "all the fulness", is found in Ephesians 3:19, Colossians 1:19 and Col. 2:9, and these passages cannot be separated and interpreted independently of each other.

The "fulness" of Christ dwells "bodily" in the Church, even as the "fulness" of the Godhead dwells "bodily" in Him. There are, moreover, many contextual links that bind these references together as one whole. In Ephesians 1:21-23, the stress is upon the Headship of Christ as the Risen and Ascended One, with all things under His feet, the Church which is His Body, being the fulness of Him, Who in turn filleth all in all. In Colossians 1:15-20 the two creations are brought together, with Christ as "Firstborn" in each (Col. 1:15, Col. 1:18), with Christ as preeminent in each (Col. 1:17-18). Things in heaven and earth were His creation (Col. 1:16) and they are to be the objects of reconciliation (Col. 1:20).

When we come to Colossians 2:4-23, we have left the positive revelation of truth, and have entered into the sphere of conflict with error. For our present purpose we will give the opening and closing members of the structure found there:

A a 4-8 Plausible speech. Philosophy (sophos)

b 8 Traditions of men

c 8 Rudiments of the world

CORRECTIVE.     8 Not after Christ. Fulness pleroma

                           9 - 10 Ye are filled full in Him pleroo

* * * * * * * *

A            c 20-22 Rudiments of the world

b 22 Teaching of men

  a 23 Wordy show of wisdom (sophos)

CORRECTIVE.    23 Not in any honour

   23 Filling of the flesh plesmone.

Whatever is intended by Colossians 2:9, "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily", is closely and intentionally carried forward into verse 10, for the word translated "complete" is pepleromenoi, even as conversely, the title of the Church as "the fulness" is carried upward to Christ, as the One Who is filling (pleroumenou) the all things in all. Colossians 2:4-23 combats the invasion of a vain and deceitful philosophy, supported by tradition and the rudiments of the world, but "not after Christ", and later in the same argument, not only intruding philosophies and traditions, but even Divinely appointed "new moons and sabbath days" are alike set aside as "shadows of things to come" because "the body (substance here) is of Christ".

The whole fulness toward which every age and dispensation has pointed since the overthrow of the world, is at last seen to be Christ Himself. All types and shadows that once filled the gap caused by sin, are now seen to be but transient, or of value only as they point the way to Him, and then disappear. He is Head, He is Pre-eminent, He is Creator and Redeemer, He is the Firstborn of all creation, and Firstborn from the dead. He is the beginning of the Creation of God (Rev. 3:14, Col. 1:18), the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, in deed and in fact "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11) in the Church of the One Body, as He wilt yet be in the whole redeemed Universe.

No more glorious position for the redeemed is conceivable than that revealed in Ephesians 1:23. To be one of a kingdom of priests on the earth is a dignity so great, that Old Testament prophets have piled imagery upon imagery in setting it forth. Yet when we come to the Bride of the Lamb, and the description of the heavenly Jerusalem, we realize how much more glorious is that calling to the highest calling on earth. What shall be said then of that company of the redeemed, blessed neither on earth nor in the New Jerusalem, blessed neither as a kingdom nor as Bride, but blessed "with Christ" where He now sits "far above all", blessed not only as the members of His Body which is dignity indeed, but actually destined to be "the fulness of Him" in Whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Consequently we can the better hope to appreciate the climax prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21 and the three steps which the prayer takes upward to the goal of the ages.

The three stages in the progress of this prayer are indicated by the Greek word hina, "a conjunction of mental direction and intention", translated three times in Ephesians 3:14-21 "that" and which could be translated "in order that".

The first step reaches out toward the spiritual condition that makes it possible for Christ "to dwell in your hearts by faith". The second stage is directed to comprehending what is breadth, length, depth and height, and the third, the climax of the prayer leads on by way of the knowledge of the love which "passeth knowledge" to being "filled with all the fulness of God". The dwelling of Christ in the heart by faith, is a personal experimental anticipation of the fulness of God yet to be known in heaven and on earth.

The four-fold comprehension, breadth, length, depth, and height encompass all time and space, even as in order that He might fill all things, Christ descended to the lower parts, that is to say the earth, and ascended up far above all heavens, "that he might fill all things". Unfathomable love is seen to be the all sufficient cause for this glorious effect, and the prayer of the Apostle for the Church of the One Body is that it may be filled with all the fulness of God. This preposition "with" is the translation of the Greek preposition eis, which, though it occurs over 1,400 times in the N.T., is nowhere else translated "with", and the R.V. corrects the translation and reads "unto". The Septuagint uses the simple verb pleroo without a preposition for the idea "to fill with" or "to be filled with" (Gen. 6:11, Num. 14:21), which rule is followed in Philippians 1:11.

We cannot say "to be filled with, unto all the fulness of God" however, for this does not make sense. The believer is to be filled up to all the fulness of God, which implies the attainment of a goal, and the reaching of standard. This can be illustrated by a reference to the passage in Ephesians four which contains the last occurrence of pleroma in the epistle:

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith (namely that unity which is comprehended by the "one faith" of the unity of the Spirit), and of the knowledge (better "acknowledgment" epignosis) of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature (or "full age" helikia, John 9:21, Heb. 11:11) of the fulness of the Christ" (Eph. 4:13).

Just as the fulness of Ephesians 1:23 flows from the exaltation of Christ "far above all", so does it here (Eph. 4:10-13). What was the goal of the ministry of Ephesians four is the goal of prayer in Ephesians three, just as in Colossians Paul's "teaching" and Epaphras "praying" had the presenting and the standing "perfect" of every man.

The purpose of the original creation of heaven and earth, the subsequent "fillings" of the creation of the six days, the planting of Paradise, the provision of the Ark, the promise to Abraham, and the promotion of the Gentile upon the failure of Israel, and the perfect man of the present dispensation -Purpose, Planting, Provision, Promise, Promotion and Perfection - are all successive "fillings" foreshadowing "all the fulness of God" that could be contained alone in the Lord Himself.

We sincerely hope that enough has been brought to light to quicken the interest of the earnest student, supply him with much food for thought, theme for ministry, and above all to lead him to the place of praise, so fitly expressed in the doxology of the prayer concerning the pleroma.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end (literally "unto all the generations of the ages of the ages"). (A description of the pleroma when at last it is complete) (Eph. 3:20,21).

Such a lengthy article as this upon one subject may appear out of place in this analysis, but it had to be considered at some length or not considered at all. In many ways it contains in germ all that we have endeavored to teach these many years, and we hope will provide much to help in the due appreciation of Dispensational Truth and the Purpose of the Ages.

 

(13) "ALL THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY-WISE"

Three Greek words are translated "Godhead" in the N.T., namely theion that which is Divine, the thing pertaining to theos; theiotes, Divinity, the characteristic property of theos, that which is discernible from the works of creation, thereby making idolatry "without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).

Theotes, Deity, the being in Whom theiotes of the highest order resides (Col. 2:9). The above is partly quoted from Dr.Bullinger's Lexicon, and it agrees with the definitions given by Trench, Cremer, Lightfoot and most commentators.

Those of us who believe the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, naturally turn to Colossians 2:9 as to a proof text, but this may not be the right attitude of heart and mind when dealing with the Sacred Scriptures. We do no honor to the Lord, if we misuse a portion of Scripture, even to "prove" or to enforce the glorious doctrine of His Deity. Truth needs no bolster. One of the reasons that caused us to hesitate about this use of Colossians 2:9 is that when we apply the principle given in 1 Corinthians 2:13 namely, that we speak not in the words of man's wisdom, "but which the Holy Ghost teacheth", and that we then go on to compare spiritual things with spiritual, we come up against a doctrinal difficulty. If the words "all the fulness" of the Godhead prove the Deity of Christ, what do they prove in Ephesians 3:19? There, the prayer of the Apostle is for the believer, that Christ may dwell, katoikeo, in their hearts by faith, and as a consequence, that they may be "filled with (eis unto, with a view to) all the fulness of God". If "all the fulness of theotes" proves the Deity of Christ, should not "all the fulness of theos" prove the Deity of the Church? To express the thought is to refute it. Such cannot be the meaning. In Colossians 1:19 we meet the expression "all the fulness", but there it is not followed, either by "God" or "Godhead", yet this first reference must have a definite bearing upon the second reference found in Colossians 2:9.

"For it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell" (pan to pleroma katoikesai) (Col. 1:19).

We cannot expect to understand the reference in Colossians 2:9 if we ignore the earlier reference in Colossians 1:19. They go together and constitute a united testimony. The first passage opens with Redemption "through the blood" (Col. 1:14) and closes with "peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20). He Who created "all things, that are in heaven and that are in earth" (Col. 1:16) reconciled "all things, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20). We move from Creation to Reconciliation via the headship of the Church which is His Body and the blessed fact that He Who was in the beginning "the firstborn of every creature" is revealed as being Himself "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead". While the triumph of His resurrection is the feature that is stressed here, "the blood of His cross" reminds us of His deep humiliation, and we believe we shall never understand the reference to "fulness" in Colossians 2:9 if we do not know the corresponding "emptying" of Philippians two. In order to illustrate this approach we use the figure of Jacob's ladder, being fully justified so to do by the reference made to it by the Lord Himself.

In Genesis twenty-eight we have the record of Jacob's dream, wherein he saw a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, "and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it" (Gen. 28:12). In John one, Nathanael is referred to by the Lord as "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile" (John 1:47). The word translated "guile" is dolos and is used in the LXX of Genesis 27:35, where Isaac tells Esau, "thy brother came with subtilty (dolos guile), and hath taken away thy blessing". One cannot avoid seeing an oblique reference in John 1:47 to Jacob, an Israelite who was most certainly not without "guile". However, that is by the way, our interest is more directly concerned with verse 51.

"Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the ANGELS of God ASCENDING and DESCENDING upon the Son of Man" (John. 1:51).

Now observe, "fulness" is associated with Christ in the fact that in order that He might FILL ALL THINGS, He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10). Returning to John one, we observe the following sequence of thought:

  • "In the beginning was the Word. . . the Word was God".

  • "All things were made by Him".

  • "The Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled, skenoo, not the permanent "dwelling" katoikeo of Col. 2:9) among us."

  • "Of His FULNESS have all we received".

  • "The angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man".

So in Colossians 1:15-20, He Who was the "Image of the Invisible God" (compare John 1:1 and John 1:18), Who created all things (see John 1:3) Who became also the Firstborn from the dead, Who is before all things (even as John the Baptist acknowledged, John 1:30), in Him, in that capacity, not only as Creator but as the Firstborn from the dead (thereby assuming the death of the cross), in that capacity and in no other way, was it pleasing to the Father that "in Him should all the fulness dwell". It is for this reason, we find the word somatikos "bodily" in Colossians 2:9. This word has been translated by several commentators "bodily-wise", as though the fulness could not dwell in Him in any other way.

Earlier we spoke about the fact that if Colossians speaks of the Saviour's "Fulness", Philippians speaks of His voluntary self-emptying. Here, we shall attempt to deal with one item only, the meaning of the words, "He made Himself of no reputation" (Phil. 2:7). First of all we give the structure of Phil. 2:6-11.

Philippians 2:6-11

Example of Christ

K Phil. 2:6 EQUALITY WITH GOD ORIGINALLY (huparchon)

L Phil. 2:7-8     r 7 He emptied Himself

Sevenfold               s 7 A bond servant

Humiliation                    t 7 likeness as a man

   u 8 Fashioned as a man

r 8 He humbled Himself

      s 8 Obedient unto death

    t 8 The death of the cross

K Phil. 2:9 EXALTATION THE NAME (inherited, see Heb. 1:4)

L Phil. 2:9-11    v 9 The Name above every name

Sevenfold               w 10 Every knee shall bow

Exaltation                    x 10 Things in heaven

  y 10 Things in earth

    x 10 Things under earth

      w 11 Every tongue confess

v 11 Jesus Christ is Lord.

Here it will be observed "things in heaven, and things in earth" occur as in Colossians 1:16.

"He made Himself of no reputation". The Authorized Version has used the word "reputation" twice in Philippians, the second occurrence being at Phil. 2:29, "hold such in reputation". The Revised Version has wisely omitted the word "reputation" in both passages, reading in Phil. 2:7, "but emptied Himself," and in Phil. 2:29, "hold such in honour", for two different Greek words are used.

The change, however, while it makes some aspects of the truth clearer, introduces other problems for, to a modern mind, there is something strange about the idea of anyone "emptying himself". In modern usage "empty" places foremost in the mind the idea of a "jug without water", "a room without furniture" and "empty vessels" (2 Kings 4:3); these come naturally to mind. In order to avoid too crude an application of the figure of "emptying a vessel" when speaking of the Saviour's humiliation, most of us slip into paraphrase and say, "He divested Himself" of His dignity and seal of Deity", but this is confessedly an attempt to avoid a problem. The verb kenoo is cognate with kenos "vain" and means "empty". That the word has a wider application than that of emptying a vessel, such expressions as "seven empty ears" (Gen. 41:27), "the sword of Saul returned not empty" (2 Sam. 1:22) will show.

Where kenos is translated "empty" in the Authorized Version of the New Testament it refers in the parable to the treatment of the servant by the wicked husbandmen, who sent him "empty away" (Mark 12:3, Luke 20:10-11), and to "the rich" who were "sent empty away" (Luke 1:53); in most cases, however, kenos is translated "vain", as for example, in Philippians itself "run in vain" and "labor in vain", where it is evident that "empty" would have no meaning (Phil. 2:16).

The verb kenoo translated "to make of no reputation" , occurs five times in the Greek New Testament and the four occurrences other than that of Philippians 2:7, render the word "make void", "make none effect" and "be in vain" (Rom. 4:14, 1 Cor. 1:17; 1 Cor. 9:15, 2 Cor. 9:3). In Philippians 2:3 we find the word kenodoxia "vain glory". We remember with adoring wonder that in the Psalm of the Cross, we read, "I am poured out like water" (Psa. 22:14). He did indeed "empty Himself". The word translated "offer" in Philippians 2:17 is found in the LXX of Genesis 35:14, where Jacob revisited the scene of the "ladder", which he re-named "Bethel", and this time "he poured out a drink offering thereon". Paul, following in His Master's footsteps faintly sketches an outline of that awful condescension which for our sakes He left behind the glory of heaven, for the deep, deep humiliation of "the death of the cross". The Saviour "emptied" Himself. The Apostle was willing to be made "a drink offering" (Phil. 2:7, Phil. 2:17).

Above the ladder, in our illustration given elsewhere is intimated "the glory that He had" before the world was. This must not be confused with the glory that was "given" Him, as the Man Christ Jesus, the One Mediator. We may, in resurrection "behold" the one, but "the glory which Thou gavest Me" the Saviour said, "I have given them, that they may be one, EVEN As we are one" (John 17:22). We do not pretend to understand this profound revelation, we would add not one syllable of our own lest we spoil and corrupt such unearthly beauty; but we can bow our heads and our hearts in adoring wonder, as we perceive that this is implied in the word "fulness", for the Church of the One Body is revealed to be

"The fulness of Him, that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23).

Here the Church is "one" with the Lord. On the left hand of the ladder, we see the wondrous descent, seven steps down to the death of the cross. Here at the foot, on the earth He is seen as Emmanuel "God with us". Here, it was fulfilled "He was numbered with the transgressors". And by virtue of that most wondrous "reckoning", He became our Surety. The word translated "surety" in the O.T. is the Hebrew word arab, which in the form arabon is brought over into N.T. Greek, occurring in Ephesians 1:14 as "earnest". This word corresponds with "pledge" in Genesis 38:17-18, "wilt thou give me a pledge till thou send it?" The root idea appears to be that of mixing or mingling:

  • "A mixed multitude" (margin: a great mixture) (Exod. 12:38).

  • "The holy seed have mingled themselves" (Ezra 9:2).

  • "A stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy" (Prov. 14:10).

  • "In the warp or woof" (Lev. 13:48).

Arising out of the idea of this mixing and interweaving comes that of surety, who is so intimately associated with the obligations laid upon the one for whom he acts that he can be treated in his stead. So we get:

  • "Thy servant became surety for the lad" (Gen. 44:32).

  • "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it" (Prov. 11:15).

  • "We have mortgaged our lands" (Neh. 5:3).

  • "Give pledges to my lord the king" (2 Kings 18:23).

In Ezekiel 27:9, Ezek. 27:27 we find the word translated "occupy" in the sense of exchange or bartering. In a way, we understand the expression, "occupy, till I come", and still speak of a man's trade as his "occupation".

Such is the underlying meaning of the word "surety", one who identifies himself with another in order to bring about deliverance from obligations. This is clearly seen in Proverbs 22:26-27: "Be not thou one of those that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?" It is evident from this passage that the surety was held liable for the debts of the one whose cause he had espoused, even to the loss of his bed, and this meant practically his all, as may be seen by consulting Exodus 22:26-27. "If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shall deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down; for that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep?" Judah, who became surety for his brother Benjamin gives us a picture of Christ's Suretyship, saying to Joseph:

"How shall I go up (ascend) to my father, and the lad be not WITH ME?" (Gen. 44:34).

If poor erring Judah could enter like this into the meaning of Suretyship, how much more must our Saviour have done so. At the foot of the ladder, the transfer is made, and the first of the seven steps up to the glory of the right hand of God is made. We but draw attention to them here. The self-emptying on the one hand is compensated by all the fulness on the other, but that fulness would never have been attained had the Saviour not become man, a man of flesh and blood, all the fulness dwells in Him "bodily-wise". The church is the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. The goal and standard of that church is the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. The personal experimental climax of the faith is that each member shall be filled with (or unto) all the fulness of God. It is difficult, with these features so clearly set forth in Ephesians, to think that the same word "fulness" when dealt with in Colossians, a confessedly parallel epistle, should suddenly swing over to the doctrine of the deity of Christ.

It may be that our attempt to explain Colossians 2:9 is so defective that the gleam of truth we saw at the commencement of this article has already become dimmed by our very effort to explain it. Shall we then, writer and reader, pause and put aside our lexicons, our concordances, our interpretations and follow in the footsteps of Asaph, who tells us that not until he went into the Sanctuary of God, did he understand.

In conclusion, the following structure of the word "Pleroma" in the N.T. may stimulate a fuller examination of the subject than we have been able to include in this Analysis.

PLEROMA

A John   All things made by Him
    1:16  GOD INVISIBLE The Word
             Only Begotten

B Gal. 4:4   Observance of days, moons, times, years
                  Weak and beggarly elements (Gal. 4:9, Gal. 4:10)

Israel     C a Rom. 11:12 Provoke to jealousy (Rom. 11:11, Rom. 11:14)
and the         
b Rom. 11:25 Fulness of Gentiles
Gentile                c Rom. 13:10 Law fulfilled
                      b Rom. 15:29 Fulness of Gospel
                 a 1 Cor. 10:26 Provoke to jealousy (1 Cor. 10:22)

Christ    C a Eph. 1:10 Fulness of seasons Head up
and the         b Eph. 1:23 Fulness of Him
Church         
b Eph. 3.19 Fulness of God
                 a Eph. 4: 13 Fulness of Christ Till we come

A Col. 1:19   All things created by Him
                   GOD INVISIBLE THE IMAGE
                   Firstborn

B Col.2:9   Observance of Meat, Drink, Feast,
                 New Moon, Sabbath, Philosophy and
                 vain deceit. Elements (Col.2:8, Col.2:20).

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Good Newsflash

Did you know that The Great Mystery or Secret was hid in God from Ages and Generations until it was first revealed to the Apostle Paul?  Ephesians 3:9 states "And to make all {men} see what {is} the fellowship of The Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"  Click to read more.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. In John 16:12,13 we read, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth . Does this refer to the administration of the mystery?

In Eph 3:1-4 the apostle Paul makes it clear that it was by a special administration of the grace of God that he was the sole recipient of the gospel of the mystery which he might give to the Gentiles. Down in verse 8 he speaks of himself as less than the least of all saints, but that he should make known the administration of the mystery. The 12 had a part in the administration of promise. They are to sit with Christ in the millennium and judge the nations of the earth and evangelize them. The Church of the mystery has no such mission. The 12 have their names written in the foundations of the New Jerusalem which is to be here on the earth. There were things that the 12 could not bear to hear at that time, but which had reference to further truth in the administration of promise. There was a perfection to be attained in that administration as well as in the other. They were to be given all the truth that they would need to proclaim the coming of the King and His kingdom during the period of the Acts.

2. Some claim that the term Israel refers to the 10 tribes and that Jew refers to Judah (with Benjamin and Levi). Is this true?

The Word of God makes no such distinctions. This is another example of men bending the truth to fit the lie. The 10 tribes were in Persia at the time of Esther, yet in that book they are called Jews 6 times. Our Lord came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, according to His own words. But some would have you believe that the 10 tribes were in Ireland at that time. Did the Lord go to Ireland seeking them? Paul said he was a Jew (Acts 22:3) yet he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Our Lord Himself was a Jew (John 4:9) while Nathaniel called Him the King of Israel (John 1:49). If you use the concordance, you will find many more examples.

3. I still have a little difficulty about the deity of Christ. Where does He come out and say that He was God?

May I ask, Where did the Lord ever come out and say that He was the Messiah of Israel? The signs and the testimony were sufficient and those who could read the OT and see the signs had all the testimony they needed. It is the same with the deity of Christ. Every attribute of God is also attributed to Him. So where is the difficulty? There is no lack of proof, but there is a great lack of belief. That was also Israel's trouble. As for Scripture references look at John 1:18, John 5:18-27, John 8:23-24, John 10:30-38, John 20:28, Eph 3:9 and there are many others.

4. If people do not really die, then why did the Lord say, Because I live, ye shall live also (John 14:19)?

It was not God that said, Ye shall not surely die, but Satan (Gen 3:4). All in Adam do die. Man's only hope for survival is in resurrection. All in Christ will be made alive. He is the first fruits of them that slept. No hope is given for those outside of Christ.

5. Does the Holy Spirit indwell the believer of this age, those in the administration of the mystery? If so, why?

Yes. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit (new nature within), that we are the children of God. Although found in Romans 8:16 this statement is undispensational, truth for all time. Verse 9 tells us that if we do not have the spirit, the new nature, we are none of His. And verse 11 tells us that there is a quickening here and now in our bodies, in our lives, that comes from this indwelling spirit. So it is this indwelling Spirit that seals the believer (Eph 1:13) and it is this indwelling Spirit that can be grieved (Eph 4:30). It is by this indwelling Spirit that God can make The Church, the temple, which is the body of Christ, His habitation (Eph 2:22). The vain and foolish philosophies of the Gnostics of course would have no place for this doctrine.

6. What is this mystery in Romans 16:25 which had been hid since the ages began?

This is not the mystery that had been hid in God from ages and generations which you will find in Colossians and Ephesians. The context of this verse reveals that it is the mystery of Christ which Paul is preaching to the Romans. The mystery of Christ began with the creation in Gen 1:1 of which we find later He is the Creator. Eph 3:3-5 tells of the mystery of Christ. It was known to the sons of men in past ages. But not as fully as when Paul finishes the Word of God, the canon of Scripture, showing Christ to be Head of The Church which is His body. Romans 16:26 tells that this mystery of Christ is manifested by the Scriptures of the prophets. Now the prophets of Eph 4:11 had not written Scriptures at this time of writing. A part of the mystery of Christ is well set forth in Isaiah 53. In fact all the Scriptures speak of Him and further reveal the mystery concerning Him. And in Romans, Christ is brought out as a federal head in contrast to Adam, showing that by Adam came sin and death, but the hope of resurrection by Jesus Christ. So Romans 16:25 tells nothing about the great secret or mystery which had been hid from ages and generations in God that the Salvation of God is now sent to the Gentiles.

7. What is the gospel of the grace of God in Acts 20:24?

It is the gospel of the uncircumcision that we find mentioned in Acts 15 and also in Gal 2:7. It is the good news that the Gentiles could become a part of the congregation of Israel and partake of their blessings (Romans 15:27) without being under the law. So in that early church the Jew walked by law, the Gentile by grace.

8. What gospel must one preach today lest he be accursed (Gal 1:9)?

No one can be accursed today for preaching any so-called gospel. For one to be accursed, he had to be subject to the law. Israel and the law are set aside today and so no one has been accursed for about 1900 years. Where there is no law, no sin can be imputed. We are under grace today.

9. Why at the end of the prophecy of Jonah does it speak of over 120,000 children and then mention much cattle? What can be the connection?

God definitely said by the mouth of Jonah that He was going to destroy Nineveh in 40 days. There were no conditions or if's about it. But the people, including the king, believed God and they repented. So God in mercy and kindness did not do what He said He was going to do. No one can find fault with a judge that will excuse one at the bar thru mercy. We have 2 other instances of like doing by the Almighty. Adam did not die the day he ate of the fruit, and God did not destroy Israel and make a nation from Moses and his family as He said He would. The sentence was lifted in mercy each time. But there is something there to connect the children and the cattle. In Ecc 3:19,20 we see that in dying there is no difference between man and beast, and they go to the same place. But we also find in Deut 8:3 that even though man was barred from the tree of life, he can live by faith, by believing what God has said. These children were not yet old enough to believe unto life, so like the cattle they would have no resurrection.

10. What does repentance have to do with salvation? What is it?

According to the usage of the word, it means a change of mind, and that for the better. We cannot read any more than that into the word. It does not occur in John's gospel which is the great salvation book for the human race today. But it is obvious that if a man believes, he has changed his mind from unbelief. However, the word repentance is used much more in the case of those who belong to God and rarely of those who do not believe. It was Israel that was called to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Today this word has lost much of its original meaning and most folks think it means penance. But the word penance cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. It is not there.

11. Did Paul write any epistles while in the prison at Caesarea?

There is no evidence that he did. And there is strong evidence that he did not. When Paul's testimony was not received at Jerusalem, the Lord said to him, Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. This cannot be said of Caesarea, for it was not far from Jerusalem. Paul's ministry was in Asia, Europe, and ended at Rome.

12. Can it be true„that God will raise up the unbelievers in their original bodies, punish them, and then destroy them?

Resurrection or raising up these people would be an act of creation. Does God create sin or sinners? Would that be according to His attributes? Furthermore why should He punish them? They were slaves of sin and could not help themselves. Also 2Cor 5:19 tells us that Christ died for their sins and no trespasses are imputed. So there is no reason for punishment. The question is just this; What part would this play in redemption?

13. It says in 2Cor 5:18 that all things are of God. Does this include sin and death and also Satan himself?

In the verse before, it says that old things have passed away for the believer and that all things have become new. So all things that are of God are these new things. Never neglect the context. If all things were unlimited, as some suggest, then we can go back to Ecc 1:2 and prove that all things are vanity. But in that case it is the human labors referred to in verses 3-8 that are vanity. Always look for the antecedent.

14. What does the Bible say about birth control?

Nothing, absolutely nothing. There are some things written in 1Cor 7 which seem to pertain to the subject, but it is in view of the coming tribulation and is in keeping with what is revealed in Matt 24:19. After Acts 28:28 Paul advised the younger widows to marry and no longer spoke of the coming distress which was postponed.

15. How did the tradition get started that the church began at Pentecost?

Rome said so. There is no other evidence either historical or Biblical.

16. Some say that Paul never proclaimed the kingdom of God, but preached only the mystery. What is the evidence?

Paul was told first of all by the risen Lord to preach the things which he had seen (Acts 26:16). What he had seen was what the 12 and others were doing. So if Paul preached only the mystery, then we will have to say the same of the 12 and also of Stephen whom Paul heard. In Acts 17:7 the men of Thessalonica heard Paul preach and reported that he preached another King instead of Caesar. Evidently Paul was preaching the kingdom, the same as the 12, up to Acts 28:28.

17. Did not Paul begin a new ministry when he turned to the Gentiles in Acts 13:46? Was not this the beginning of the church?

If you read the next verse you will find that Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6 for his authority to turn to the Gentiles. Then this was no mystery or secret hid from ages and generations.

18. What was the purpose of the ministry of Peter in the house of Cornelius?

We must note some things that are not true in order to appreciate that which is true. Nothing is said about Cornelius attending temple or synagogue. All we know is that he was a centurion at the head of an Italian band of soldiers and that he was devout, feared God, gave alms to poor Jews, and prayed to God always. This sums up all we know about him. Even after his experience at the preaching of Peter there is nothing said about him, whether he went to the temple or synagogue or whether he ever joined with the band of Christians at Jerusalem or elsewhere. With that out of the way, we can see that this was a preparation for Paul and his ministry to Gentiles during the Acts period of time.

19. How shall I choose a church or place of worship to attend?

In John 4 you will find that this was also the question of the Samaritan woman. And what was the answer? But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. So today worship has no place designated, but the quality is stressed. It is to be a true spiritual worship. What better place to start it than in the home?

20. You have said that John was preaching to Israel only. What proof do you have for saying that?

Acts 13:24.

21. What would be the condition of our country if there had been no churches? Have they not been a great force in keeping our civilization?

We have a great many people today who have gotten all mixed up and they equate civilization and salvation. There are many ministers today dedicated to the task of saving our society at any cost. We have the do-gooders who want to improve the world and the old nature of man so that he will finally reach the peak of evolution and become as God and be fit for heaven. It is true that the churches have improved and preserved a moral tone of our civilization. But that does not save men. Billy Sunday once said, "There is no difference between the up-and-out and the down-and-out. They are all out." That is right. So we cannot say how many would have been saved today without the churches. Many are being saved in spite of them. We do not know how much of the message of salvation would have been preserved in the families of our country if there had been no churches. We just cannot answer your question, for there is no way of knowing. Conditions might have been better or they might have been worse as far as true worship is concerned. Speculation is useless.

22. What are the basic differences between the kingdom and the church?

The kingdom is a part of the promise made to Abraham and pertains primarily to Israel; but The Church is made up of nations without any distinctions. The kingdom will have a King; The Church has a Head. The kingdom is to be here on the earth where David's kingdom was with Jerusalem as the great world center; The Church has its place in the heavenlies. The kingdom has laws; The Church walks by grace. In the kingdom there is a promise of a bride; but The Church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. But there is one great common truth; all are saved by grace.

23. Is it true that the nation Israel must repent before the Lord can set up His kingdom?

From the human standpoint, Yes. For prophecy tells us that they will mourn and that they will say blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. From God's standpoint, the day cannot be hastened. He will come in the fullness of time.

24. It is said in Rev 1:7 that when the Lord comes every eye shall see Him. Does this mean that all people of all ages will be there to see?

This is a figure of speech, synedoche, where a part is used for the person. Only those who have eyes and can see with them when He comes will see Him. Dead folks cannot see. And some living folks may be blind. They will not see either. We have a similar figure in Ph’p 2:10 where at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. This points to a time farther on than that in Revelation. But it will all be voluntary and only the living and the resurrected will do it. No one will be forced to bow. There are many other Scriptures in which this figure can be found.

25. Is not Christ reigning as King now in the heavens and will not this rule continue? How come some say that he is coming down to earth again to Jerusalem and rule over the nations here?

At the present time Satan and his angels are in the heavens. They will be cast out in the midst of the last week of the 70 weeks determined on Israel (Dan 9:24). This is described in Rev 12:9. So it is patent that Christ is not supreme ruler in the heavens now, but rather that He is hid (Col 3:3), and that whenever Christ is manifested in the heavens the members of His church (not the bride) will be manifested with Him (Col 3:4): That is the hope of The Church of the administration of the mystery. But Christ will come and reign on the earth on the throne of His father, David. In Acts 1:6 the apostles wanted to know if the kingdom was going to be set up at that time. Now since the kingdom is primarily of Israel and they are to be a blessing to the nations of the earth, how will the Lord and Israel reign over the earth as pictured in Psalms 2 if they are in heaven? It is wise to take what the Word says instead of trying to force some private interpretation upon it, or change it.

26. Was the prophecy of Joel fulfilled at Pentecost and the kingdom established there and then?

No, the prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. At Pentecost the Spirit was not poured out upon all flesh in Mt. Zion and Jerusalem. There were many Roman soldiers that did not even know about it. There were no wonders in heaven and signs in the earth at that time. There was no change in the sun and the moon. True, Peter spoke of it as the last days when these things should happen, but many years later John says that he is in the last days (1 John 2:18), and Peter many years later speaks of the last days as still future (2 Peter 3:3). At Pentecost Peter mentions the prophecy of Joel merely to show that what was working in the apostles was the same Spirit as Joel spoke about. Peter did not say that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled. The Lord's house was not established (Isaiah 2) but was totally destroyed shortly later. David's throne has not been occupied by Christ yet. No kingdom was set up and the apostles set on thrones.

27. What is a mortal sin?

It is a sin unto death (1John 5:16). Under the law, murder was a sin unto death. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira lying unto the Holy Spirit was a sin unto death. In 1Cor 11:30 Paul speaks of some who sin and are sickly, and some even died. That was a sin unto death. Mortal sin was never spoken of a Gentile. It was to those under the law. Today the law is not in effect, so we see no examples as above among Christians.

28. Should a Christian go to war?

When Jews who had hired out as soldiers came to John at the Jordan, he baptized them, but never told them to quit the army. Our Lord healed the son of a centurion, but never told this man to quit warfare. Peter was in the house of Cornelius, but there is no record that he told Cornelius to leave the army. No Scripture can be quoted for either side, except that we are to be subject to the powers that be. One who is in the will of the Lord and trusts Him, will have no difficulty with the question. The Lord will put him where he wants him, whether it be on the battle front or in some peaceful occupation. Such questions as this are from the fearful and unbelieving.

29. Can Satan leave hell and wander on the earth at will?

There is no Scripture that says or even hints that Satan was ever in hell or ever will be. At the present time he is just where he has always been from the time of his creation. Some day he will be cast down from that position in heaven to the earth with no power to ascend to heaven again. Hell is for those who are made of the dust of the earth. Satan is not such a creature.

30. What about men taking upon themselves the title of Reverend?

This word occurs in Scripture just once, Psalms 111:9. It is used of the name of God. It is blasphemous for man to take to himself that which pertains to God and His holy name.

31. Did our Lord wear long hair when here on the earth among men?

No. Unless a man were a Nazarite, it was a shame for him to have long hair (1Cor 11:14). Our Lord was not a Nazarite, for a Nazarite was not permitted to drink wine, and our Lord did.

32. Can a Christian become wealthy?

There is no reason why he cannot. Of course those who take the story or parable of the rich man and Lazarus as literal, make it mandatory that one has to get rid of all personal property and beg if he is to be saved. But there is no premium on poverty in God's Word. Abraham was wealthy and was a friend of God. David was wealthy and he was a man after God's own heart. Isaac and Jacob both were wealthy. Solomon had much wealth. And Joseph who buried the Lord was reputed to be the wealthiest Jew of the time. Wealth can be a curse, and it can be a blessing. But poverty can make a man steal. We have wealthy men today who have contributed much to the spread of the gospel.

33. I hear that you teach that there are two churches instead of one. Is this true?

Why not read what we write and see for yourself? From time to time we have written about the 7 churches in Asia. We have recognized that there was a church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). We have taken note of the fact that the Lord was going to build His church on a rock (Matt 16:18). And besides these were the churches at Rome, Corinth, and many other places to which Paul addressed letters. But it is noteworthy that after Acts 28:28 the word church is never in the plural and it is The Church, not A church. And every church is a body. So today there is one body (Eph 4:4), One Church.

34. According to 1Cor 16:1 should there be a collection taken up in the meeting each Sunday?

There is one collection only in this passage. It is for the saints at Jerusalem. These saints were believing Jews. This one collection was to be taken up on the first of the weeks. The word day is not in the Greek. This is the first week after the Passover. Paul would then take up this collection and carry it with him to Jerusalem.

35. What is this resurrection in Php 3:11?

The out resurrection from among the dead is the prize of the high calling and is for those who have remained faithful and suffered like unto the suffering of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying he is not sure if he will attain to it so as to show it is a prize for believers that suffer and remain faithful to the end and to contrast it with other hopes and resurrections taught by the apostle. In Hebrews 11 he does speak of some who attained to a better resurrection. But they were of a different administration. It is not the resurrection that is the result of believing and obtaining everlasting life. For that is by faith, and not by attainment. By 2 Timothy Paul is confident of attaining the prize and also knows his life shall soon end by the hands of his captors.

36. I have heard, life defined as union with Christ and death as separation from Christ. Does this fit the Scriptures?

Try it for yourself. Read Romans 6:1-10 and use these definitions for life and death. Does this fit?

37. I notice that in the records of the baptism of our Lord in Jordan, that it says that He came up out of the water. Does this mean that He was immersed in the water?

Not necessarily. A river flows, as a usual thing in a bed, for water seeks the lowest level possible. So to get into the river it was necessary to go down into the water and to get out, meant going up out of the water.

38. Who are the other sheep of John 10:16?

The word other is allos which means others of the same kind. Since Israel are the sheep and these are of the same kind, they cannot be Gentiles. That fold ceased to exist at Acts 28:28. There is no fold now. But God will deal with Israel again some day and then there will be another fold and other sheep, not the same ones of this fold in John 10. The present era is between the folds. For, other references to these sheep, see Matt 22:9,10 and 24:31. Are not these all the same?

39. How is it that you teach Pauline doctrine, but do not advocate the Lord's table (1Cor 10 & 1l)?

We do not teach Pauline doctrine for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Paul preached 4 separate gospels during his ministry. In 1Cor 10 and 11 Paul is writing to Jewish believers whose fathers had crossed the Red Sea (10:1). And the feast he is talking about is the Passover which was observed in the homes, not in public. This feast was a supper, observed in the evening, never at morning or noon. These 2 chapters cannot be used for a proof text in support of the observance of the heathen Baal's supper which had been taken up by Christendom.

40. I wonder why that Satan is usually pictured as a black man with horns, hooves, and a tail, when it says in 2Cor 11:14 that he is transformed into an angel of light. What did he look like when he appeared in the garden to Eve?

The popular conception of Satan is really a picture of Nimrod, the great rebel of Babylon. It is told in the legends that he killed a wild bull of extraordinary strength and fierceness. He is supposed to have taken the horns of the bull and made himself a headdress. It did not take the artists long to add the hooves and the tail (always pointed as a spear) and you have the concept of Nimrod the great hunter of his fellow men. We are told in Ezekiel 28 that Satan was created as a covering cherub and when he appeared to Eve it was as the Nachash (shining one). So to Eve he did appear as a great and shining angel, one to revere and believe. No snake deceived Eve.

41. Why do you persist in using the King James version when there are so many modern ones that are more easily understood and which do not use obsolete words?

There are a number of reasons for retaining the Authorized Version. Many concordances would be useless, there would be difficulty with lexicons and the like for they are mostly founded on the AV. It is a sample of the best English of the past centuries. And no modern version can express the holiness and majesty of God as it does. It presents no difficulties to those who have been brought up in Christian homes where the Bible was read and prayers made. Neither does it present any difficulties to one who knows God. But the Bible will remain a closed book to the ungodly no difference what version it may be in. We are very suspicious of versions, for all too often they reflect some man's private belief which may be partial unbelief. None yet has surpassed the Authorized Version which also has the benefit of putting many words in italics where there were no corresponding Greek or Hebrew word in the original manuscripts. It is also one of the earliest English translations and although not perfect does contain less license to private doctrines and added words.

42. Who should keep the Passover?

All circumcised Israelites. It was to be eaten in the home. There was to be no leaven in the house. No manner of work was to be done on the day it was observed. Do not forget that this is all about the kingdom and not The Church. The children of the household were to ask why it was observed and the master of the house recited the story of the exodus from Egypt. The law never made any provisions for any uncircumcised to observe it. See Ex 12:47-49. It was in force till the end of Acts, where The Church began.

43. Should I put something into the collection plate when 1 go to a church?

Most certainly, yes, unless you are the type of person that would slip under the side of the circus tent to avoid paying admission. If you go for the show, then pay your share. Jonah paid his fare, even when running from the Lord (Jonah 1:3).

44. What is the meaning of Gal 2:20? How can one be dead and yet alive?

Christ is our life, we have no eternal life of ourselves. Christ is our supply. Holding Him we have nourishment ministered. This is the fact concerning ourselves as His own, a fact we are required to acknowledge against the background of our own death. He has accomplished for us our death to the end that He may now abide in us. The one has first to happen before the other can be. This is the meaning of the words: I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20). But for an acknowledgment that we, as to our human life, are mortal we can never believe that we are accounted to have died with Christ. Those of our fellow-brethren who hold that the soul of man is immortal may use the term that they died with Christ - but they cannot in actuality believe that they did die. They cannot envisage the truth that, as to their human life, they are accounted to have ceased to be.

45. Paul expected to be among the living at the rapture (1Thes 4:15-17; 1Cor 15:51,52). Is this rapture still Paul's hope, even though he died and will be among the dead believers of that time?

The rapture is only for the children of promise, primarily Jews but also Gentiles who became the children of Abraham by faith from Acts 10 to Acts 28:28. It has to do with the kingdom here on the earth. The rapture is just a little trip up into the air (not heaven) to meet the Lord as He comes with clouds of angels who will execute judgment as He sets up His kingdom seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Since the husbandman is to be the first partaker of the fruits, then Paul must surely have a part in the administration of the mystery which was entrusted to him to proclaim. Therefore he will have an earlier resurrection than that at the coming of the Lord and will be manifested with Him in the heavenly places.

46. Matthew 8:11 seems to indicate that Gentiles from the East and the West will have a part in the kingdom, but not from the North and the South. Is there any explanation for this?

There is no explanation that we can give at this time except the suggestion that it may be that the Russians and the Egyptians will not have a part in it. That could also include Lebanon and Syria. But this is only a guess. These nations might be all changed around by that time. But it is something to think about. The Word is exact and there is good reason for these words being written. The prophecies will be plain to all when fulfilled.

47. If the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 begins at the dedication of the temple, 1 always thought it had its beginning with the decree of Artaxerxes or Astyages in 454 B.C. Can you explain your position?

Very briefly, you will find 2 distinct prophecies in Daniel chapter 9. The first one is in verse 24 and speaks of the second advent of the Messiah. Note that 70 weeks are determined upon the people and the city. This cannot begin with the decree for the simple reason that the people are not in the city till about 49 years (7 weeks) later. So the 70 weeks determined on the city and the people must begin about the time of the dedication of the temple or 405 B.C. It is not hard then to figure that the coming of the Messiah to set up His kingdom would have been AD. 85. However the course of the city and the people did not run to this end, but the people were set aside at Acts 28:28 and since then have not been a people. The city was destroyed in 70 AD. Now if the people were cut off at the end of Acts, about A.D. 63, then there are about 3 weeks yet to run till the coming of the Messiah. We do not know when this prophecy will be resumed. Now the 7 and 62 weeks after the going forth of the decree brings us to A.D. 29, the date when Messiah was cut off. That has been completed.

48. Does Genesis 6:3 indicate that God will not always strive with men,. but that one can cross a deadline where there will be no more conviction by the Holy Spirit and they are forever lost?

Man, in this verse is Adam in the Hebrew: The verse means that God is getting weary of striving with Adam, for Adam (like others) is erring. See note in Companion Bible. So Adam is given another 120 years to live and he died at the age of 930. So we can take it that Adam was 810 years old when God finally made up His mind not to put up with him.

49. Is there any escape from hell once one is in it? If so, how?

The common notion of hell is far from what the Word says that it is. It is sheol in the Hebrew and occurs 65 times in the OT. It is translated hell 31 times, grave 31 times and pit 3 times. The RV is consistent in that it renders it sheol each time. It could be translated grave all 65 times and not mar the meaning. In the NT hades is used 11 times. It is also used in the LXX to translate sheol. So it is the same thing. It is translated 10 times as hell and once as grave. Gehenna does not enter into this discussion, for although it is translated hell, it is the city dump outside of Jerusalem. Neither does Tartarus enter in either. The grave or hell is a place where people are dead and live not again till resurrection (Rev 20:5). Our Lord was in hell 3 days and 3 nites. He came out by resurrection and was the first fruits of the great harvest that is still to come forth. Death and hell are to be destroyed (Rev 20:13,14). So all go to hell or the grave at death. Those who have everlasting life will escape by resurrection.

50. What is the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God?

The former includes the latter in one sense. The gospel or good news of the kingdom was first proclaimed by John the Baptist, the Lord Himself, then the 12, and finally the 70, this being before the death of Christ. Then the apostles were further instructed as to the kingdom and this was the gospel preached by all up to Acts 28:28. The gospel of the grace of God began in the house of Cornelius, about 9 years after Pentecost. This was the only instance that Peter preached this gospel. None of the other 11 preached it at any time. And about 17 years after Pentecost Paul began to preach the gospel of the grace of God at Antioch to the Gentiles (just as Peter did) and continued it till the end of Acts. But in every instance Paul was careful to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the Jew first, and then turned to the Gentiles and preached to them the gospel of the grace of God, which meant that they could partake of all the spiritual blessings of Israel without keeping the law (being circumcised, keeping feasts, and the rituals). The same salvation (not eternal life) of the kingdom was at that time for both Jew and Gentile, but to the Jew first.

51. What is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25)?

In this context we learn that the mystery that is in view is one that had been hushed since the ages began. So it is not the administration of the mystery which was hid from ages and generations and had its plans made before the ages began. This mystery, that had been hushed had been made known by the prophets as the context tells us, so it is not the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians. Also this mystery in Romans is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. In the structure outline of Romans this is explained by the same words appearing in 1:1-5. It is the preaching of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but connected with His being the seed of David. So then this is kingdom preaching and declares Jesus Christ not only the anointed one or Messiah, but truly the Son of God.

52. In what sense, if any, did works ever save?

Basically we have all through the Bible record the revelation of life as the gift of God, received by faith and in no connection whatsoever with works. But on that life we find based at least two salvations or lines of blessing. One is the promise made to Abraham. At least the kingdom aspect of the administration of promise has much to do with works as the sermon on the mount will indicate. Also Mark 16:16 adds that when the kingdom was being preached to Jews only, they must believe and be baptized in order to be saved. From 1Cor 3 we may infer that good works of themselves did not save, but could be burned up and the worker saved as by fire. When works were connected with salvation, they were for the most part specific rather than general. But today we have a salvation revealed in Eph 2:8-10 which is obtained by faith only. This salvation is a creation unto good works, not of works.

53. I am puzzled by Mark 13:32. Does this take away from the truth of the deity of Christ?

This passage says, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. This has been a favorite verse for those who deny the deity of Christ. But it may be that it does prove His deity. He knows that no man knows the day and the hour. He knows that the angels in heaven do not know the day and the hour. Does not this knowledge indicate deity? And what if He does not choose to know? Deity can forget or remember at will. He can forget our sins. That we cannot do. If the Lord chose not to know the time, then that was His business and we have no right to question Him.

54. Is glory a place?

If at any time it answers the question, Where?, then it is a place. Whenever the question of place comes up with any terms, this is a good question to ask. If it designates where something is to be or to happen, then it is a place. But you will note when you look up the word glory in the concordance that it is not always used the same. It may speak of the glory of God. It may speak of the glory of Christ. And there are other usages. In the mystery of godliness in 1Timothy 3:16 it says that He was received up into glory. This answers the question of Where?, and is definitely a place. You may try other passages with the same method.

55. What is dispensational truth?

It is the body of truth, doctrine and practice, that is for a particular household of God. Some dispensational truth may be common to both dispensations. Some truth may be peculiar to its own particular dispensation. For instance, citizenship in the heavenly places is peculiar to the dispensation of the mystery. On the other hand, a part in the new Jerusalem is peculiar to the dispensation of promise. The word chosen is common to both, but time of choosing makes the distinction. The choice of some is before the overthrow, and the choice of others since the overthrow. This is where the workmanship of right division comes in.

56. What is meant by falling from grace?

You probably refer to Gal 5:4. In the first place this epistle to the Galatians is written to the members of the administration of promise, and especially to the Gentile members who had been grafted into the blessings of Israel and the kingdom. To these Paul had preached the gospel of the grace of God, that they might receive all the benefits of the administration of the promise without being circumcised and keeping the law. But there were Judaizers who were convincing some of these Gentiles that they must be circumcised and keep the law. So Paul says to them, For I testify again to every man (Gentile) that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you (Gentiles) are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. So to fall from grace was to leave the grace principle or gospel and go back to circumcision.

57. Was the crossing of the Red Sea literal, or was it just a figurative story?

If it was just a story, then we fail to see the point. If it was just a story, then how did the few million Hebrew slaves get out of Egypt?

58. What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Ghost? Acts 1:4,5.

At Pentecost the apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost in fulfillment of the promise in Luke 24: 49. They received power from on high. This power enabled them to speak in languages and perform many miracles. This was in connection with those who proclaimed the kingdom. It was not in any way connected with The Church. See The Giver and His Gifts by E. W. Bullinger for further light.

59. Can Gentiles partake of the New Covenant?

Jer 31:31 plainly states that the New Covenant is to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is again quoted in Heb 8:8. This is with Israel, not The Church or the Gentiles. The Gentiles do have a promise (Eph 3:6; 2Tim 1:1; Tit 1:2). But Gentiles have always been strangers from the covenants of promise (Eph 2:12).

60. In Acts 20:27 Paul declares that he has shown the whole counsel of God, yet we are led to believe that the mystery which was later proclaimed had been hid from ages and generations and that Paul did not know it there in Acts 20. How can we reconcile these?

If you will look at Eph 1:9 and 11 you will see two words used which do not mean the same thing. One is counsel, and the other is purpose. Paul did not say that he had proclaimed the whole purpose of God, but God's counsel (in accordance with the purpose then revealed). But when a new purpose or further purpose was made known, then there was a counsel or working out of that purpose as you see in Ephesians one. Be careful with terms.

61. What are the gates of hell in Matthew 16:18?

Since no explanation is given in that place, we must then go back to the OT which the disciples at that time had. In Isaiah 38:10 we read, I shall go to the gates of the grave. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? (Job 38:17). Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death (Psalms 9:13). Can this be resurrection from the grave? And we read in Psalms 107: 18, And they draw near unto the gates of death. Now going back to the passage in Matthew, we must conclude that the doors of the grave or hell cannot hold His church when He calls. They will come forth from the state of death.

62. If being born again in John 3:3 means resurrection, then what does it mean in 1Peter 1:23?

The same word is not used in these two passages. The latter means begotten (See margin in Companion Bible). So we must conclude that there can be no rebirth or resurrection without a begetting by the Word of God. Try using begotten in John 3:6 and see what the meaning is. Further study is needed in this subject.

63. Is it true that "ALL Paul's early epistles are addressed to Gentiles." References, such as Romans 11:13; 1Cor 12:2; Gal 4:8; and 1Thess 2:14, are given to prove the point. Can you give more light on this?

There is little doubt that Paul's first epistle was Galatians. And it appears that it was written to the Gentile Christians of Galatia. But at the same time it is evident that he wrote Hebrews, and that epistle is not to Gentiles at all! Romans 2 is to the Jewish believers, verse 17 emphasizing it. Chapters 10 and 11 of 1Cor are to those whose fathers crossed the Red Sea. Surely they must have been Jews. The fathers of the Gentiles never crossed the Red Sea. You will note in these chapters the directions for keeping the feast (the Passover) which was never lawful for Gentiles to keep.

64. Must the Roman empire be revived?

For many years we have heard this debated, but really have never yet found a Scripture which would indicate that this must be true. We are open to any proof anyone may offer for this, but we are afraid it is merely a tradition someone started.

65. How can every knee bow confessing Christ Lord, to God's glory, unless reconciled? (Philippians 2: 10,11).

Lest any be misled, we must emphasize the fact that reconciliation is not life nor is it salvation. The definition is given in 2Cor 5:19. It means that a work was accomplished so that the sins of the world are not imputed against it. This is good news for those who do not have life, for it gives them access to God to receive the precious gift of everlasting life. Those that have this life shall live. And in resurrection, they will be given knees which they can bow, and be given tongues with which they can confess. But those who do not have life and will never see life (John 3:36), but remain in the dust of the earth, will never have knees or tongues.

66. What does it mean in Philippians 2:12 where it says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

It is well to consider what salvation is before making any applications. It does not say that we are to work out our everlasting life. To equate salvation and everlasting life will only get us into confusion. And somebody has said that confusion is ignorance. When our Lord said to the woman of Samaria that salvation was of the Jews, He was not talking about everlasting life. By faith the Samaritans or any other people could have life. Peter recognized this fact in Acts 10:43. Israel had a salvation to work out. It was that they were to be a priestly nation and make known to the nations the name of Jehovah. They were promised the blessings of the kingdom. To them pertained the preaching of the kingdom. All this was their salvation and they were expected to work it out. And so when the salvation of God was sent to the Gentiles in Acts 28:28, it does not mean that they are then to obtain everlasting life. Their salvation was the administration of the mystery with all its hopes and blessings. This they were to work out.

67. What is the meaning of 1Timothy 1:8?

This verse states that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. There is law today, but not in the sense of the Mosaic law given at Sinai, although that law did reveal the righteousness of God and man's utter inability to attain unto such a state of holiness. But the law or will of God is given to us in the last seven epistles of Paul in the form of exhortations and the like. This is a good thing for us providing we do not attempt to use it as a means of boasting in the flesh. We can walk worthy of our vocation or calling, but there is nothing to brag about, for such a walk is where Christ lives in and acts thru us.

68. What is the difference between eternal life and everlasting life?

They both translate the same phrase in the Greek. However God alone can have eternal life for He has no beginning or end. His children do have a beginning and are given everlasting life through the works of His Son.

69. Your teaching seems very queer. How can Christ be King of kings on the earth and at the same time be Head of a church which is His body in heaven? This is absurd, is it not?

For finite beings such as you and I, this would be impossible and therefore absurd. But if Christ were deity, God manifest in flesh, then He is the Infinite and could appear in as many different places and forms as He might choose.

70. Was Christ a soul after the resurrection?

Psalms 16:10 says, Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. This is quoted in Acts 2:27 by Peter, and part of it is quoted in Acts 13:35 by Paul. Christ went to hell just as have all others who have lived and died on this earth. But His soul was holy and so did not see corruption. It was raised from the dead. If He was a soul before death, then He was a soul in resurrection.

71. I have heard it said that God is acting in grace today to all the world, and that if He does not act in grace, He does not act at all. Is this according to the Scriptures?

In theory, this is but another version of universal reconciliation or salvation. It just happens that the Redeemer in the Hebrew is also the Avenger. The redemption of Noah and his family brought vengeance on the wicked world of that time. The redemption of Israel from Egypt brought vengeance on Pharaoh and his hosts. The very fact that God loves His people makes Him hate their enemies. We are told that Buddha loves everybody. He sits and does nothing about it. But that is not our God. His grace is for those that will partake of it. His wrath abides on others (John 3:36).

72. I am a little mixed up. It speaks of the inheritance of God in the heavenlies in Ephesians 1:18, and in Colossians 1:12 it says that we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance in the holiest in light. However Ephesians 5:5 indicates that one may lose this inheritance. How is this?

The Church has an inheritance, even as did Israel. Individuals may lose it, even as many thousands of Israel lost their inheritance.

73. In Psalms 1:5 it says that the ungodly would not stand (arise) in the judgment, and that this meant no resurrection for the unbelievers. Somebody said that this word stand did not mean resurrection. Can you answer this?

A lot of people are quick to set forth their own ideas as gospel truth, but err, not knowing the Scriptures. You will find this word quwm (koom) on page 1101 of the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance. There is a long list of the places where used, but one or two will suffice. See Job 14:12; Psalms 88:10; Isaiah 26:14. You can also check this with Strong's concordance. The word number is 6965. This is what Scripture says.

74. Do you believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible? If so, then how would you translate sheep and vine and the like for people who know nothing of these things? After all, is not the Bible just the words of men?

The Bible time after time claims to be the Word of God. If it is not, then it is false and should be thrown out altogether. It would even be dangerous if it were just the words of men. But look at Psalms 12: 6, The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. God has spoken in man's language to man, but He does not use those words carelessly as man does. And the fact that some might not understand some of the terms used is no excuse to make any changes in the Word of God. How many understand love? How many comprehend the term righteousness? We who are teachers have to teach what these things are. And so it is up to a man to teach what a sheep or a vine is when speaking to the Eskimos. Some tribes do not know what a home is. It is up to Christians to teach and to show these what a home is. We must not tamper with the Scriptures. But we must remember that All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable...

75. What is the sin mentioned in Hebrews 12:1?

It is the sin of unbelief. That is the root of all other sins. Self-will nourishes it.

76. It seems strange that Rahab the harlot should be so well spoken of in the Bible. Why?

In this day when men think that respectability is Christianity, this does pose a real question. But Rahab was saved by faith and not by any moral qualities she may have had. So we can say that she was a sinner saved by grace. People who do not know the love and power of God cannot understand His works. Our Lord was criticized because He kept company with publicans and sinners. God is able to take the worst sinner living today and make a saint of him. But men with all their do-good programs and reformation cannot do this.

77. Why don't we hear more about Jobs wife?

She was not much good as a wife. When Job was in trouble and grief, she was no comfort. All she had to say was that he should curse God and commit suicide (Job 2:9). God did not see fit even to put her name in Scripture. The same with Lot's wife.

78. Why did God have a program of healing in the apostolic times and not have it today?

During the time covered by Acts, the kingdom was still at hand. If any at that time would have been careful to study Daniel 9, they would have been able to set the date of the Lord's second coming and the setting up of His kingdom. It would have been A.D. 85, just 490 years from the dedication of the temple after the exile (405 B.C.). With that near coming at hand, it would be fitting that those who believed and entered into the kingdom would be alive and ready to meet the King at His coming. So the sick were healed and the dead raised during the time that the kingdom was in view. But when the kingdom was postponed at Acts 28:28, the gifts of the Spirit ceased. The two days of Hosea 6:2 must intervene before Israel will be raised and come into their kingdom. Resurrection and being manifested with Him in the heavenlies is the hope of the members of The Church which is His body today. A resurrection at about the time of the great white throne of judgment is the hope of those who have everlasting life, but no adoption (See Job 14:12 and compare with Rev 20:11). Thus we can see that there is no gifts of healing and the like today.

79. How about the common teaching that the church is Spiritual Israel? Is it true?

I am afraid that we will never be able to find the expression Spiritual Israel in the Bible. It is not there. History tells us that this expression originated with a man by the name of Origines. He was a Greek writer and teacher of the third century. It was a theory that God was forever thru with the Jew and now all the blessings and covenants had been transferred to the church. A few years later the Emperor Constantine saw in this a great chance to improve his position as ruler. This would make a fine basis for a church-state, making war in the name of and with the aid of religion, for ritual, pomp, splendor, and ecclesiastical theatricals. We have on hand today the tragic results of that lie, that theory, which has caused to much bloodshed and misery in centuries past. And if we are not careful, organized religion will again take over and rule the world. Then there will be great tribulation.

80. Is water baptism essential for the remission of sins?

Isaiah had a coal of fire laid upon his mouth, which in touching his lips took away all his iniquity and purged all his sins. Our Lord spoke to many during His earthly ministry, remitting their sins without baptism. The members of The Church of the administration of The Mystery are not under law, and they today have redemption through His blood, and the forgiveness of sins. They have only one baptism and this is explained in Col 2:12,13 as being identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, even to a quickening with Him with the accompaniment of forgiveness of sins. No water baptism is mentioned in connection with The Church. It is a part of the law and the kingdom of Israel. But there are even now those who claim that they are Jews (Rev 2:9; 3:9)

81. It would seem that Romans 2:14 proves that man did not have a fall, but by nature does the things of the law. How do you see it?

The epistle to the Romans has suffered much at the hands of its friends, the commentators and the expositors. It is a case of being very careful to read the address on the envelope, to find out to whom the apostle is speaking. This epistle is written to the church at Rome which was made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. The man spoken to in verse 1 of chapter 2 is seen to be the Jew (see verse 17). When we read Galatians we see that the Gentile believers in the churches were not subject to the law of Israel. This is also brought out in the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). So here in Romans 2:14 Paul is reminding the Jewish believers that the Gentile believers did by nature (the new nature in the believer) the things contained in the law. This would only be natural, for the law did contain the righteous requirements of God for His people. This does not say that the Gentiles observed the ritual of the law. That was settled in Acts 15:24-29.

82. There is a great deal of mention of the book of life in the Revelation. There seems to be a danger of being blotted out of it. How can one know his name is in this book?

This is another example of carelessly reading the Word. The book of life is mentioned about 7 times in the Revelation. Once it is called the Lamb's book of life (21:27). This might give us a clue. But the best explanation for it is given in Daniel 12:1. The names written in the book are those of Daniel's people, that is, Israel. So we do not look for the names of Gentiles to be written in that particular book. The Revelation is about Israel, their tribulation, and the overcomers. It is possible that there might be a book for the Gentiles, but you will find that elsewhere.

83. Do we today have need of the Advocate mentioned in 1John 2:1?

Under the law, men were judged by the law (Romans 2:12) and those that do not have the law cannot be judged by it. Where there is no law, sin is not imputed and therefore there can be no summons to court or a charge made against the sinner (see 2Cor 5:19 and Romans 5:13). Those under the law prayed that they might be forgiven as they forgave others. But we who are under grace are to forgive others freely because we have been forgiven (Eph 4:32). We have no need of an Advocate today, for we have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7 & Col 1:14).

84. What was the spiritual condition of the rich young ruler when he came to the Lord and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life?

This young man who must have been a "somewhat" in the synagogue was already a believer. He recognized the Lord as the Messiah, the King of Israel. His request was what he must do to have a place of importance in the kingdom. The reply of the Lord was very similar to His words in Matt 19:29. It meant the forsaking of everything in the world for His name's sake. The price was too high for this man.

85. Did Paul continue establishing churches or assemblies after Acts 28:28?

There is no record that he did. Neither is there any record that such churches or assemblies were in existence after Acts 28:28.

86. What part, or parts, of the gospel of John are truth for this administration?

In the first place, we do not use the term "this administration." If the administration of The Mystery is meant, then John's gospel is not to or for it. But John's gospel is truth for today. So many are misled by the expression "this administration," thinking it means this age or time in which we live and that it means a way in which God is dealing with mankind today in general. God does have a special way of dealing with the administration of The Mystery, a church already seated in heavenly places. But for the rest of humanity today, John's gospel applies (John 3:16). There is no administration teaching for today in this gospel. That which applies today and which is for Gentiles (the Jews have been set aside, 1:11), is 1:1-18; 3:13-21; and 3:31-36. The reason for the writing of the gospel is given in 20:30,31. There are some short explanations through the book for Gentile readers, and then the last 2 verses of the book are up-to-date.

87. Should those who are Christians gather together at some place for worship today?

It may be that the word worship is somewhat overdone these days. Even in Israel, the temple was the designated place of worship. The Synagogue was not a place of worship, but a place to teach the Scriptures and also as a court where men might be tried under the law and penalties meted out. Paul knew this very well, for he had been beaten in the Synagogues many times. In the epistles written after Acts 28:28 the word worship occurs just once. That is in Ph'p 3:3 where Paul says, For we are the (true) circumcision, which worship God in the spirit. This is an echo of John 4:23 where the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshiper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. That worship has nothing to do with a place, a priesthood, nor a ritual. It is natural for those who love the Word and the One of whom it speaks to gather together, but we have no such command today. Leaders often wish it and even pretend it so they can get a following and a big collection.

88. Do you believe that there are 2 bodies?

In the administration of The Mystery there is 1 Body (Eph 4:4). In the administration of promise there was 1 body (1Co 12:13). Whether that included all believers I cannot tell. It may have been just the church at Corinth. So there was one body, and there is one body. But they are not the same. The first was of Israel with an earthly hope. There is one now of Gentiles already seated in heavenly places. The first was to minister to the nations of the earth. There is one now making known the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places. We are aware that most of Christendom does not know much about right division and the mystery.

89. I am curious about Acts 17:11. What was it that Paul told the Bereans, and what Scriptures might they have looked up to see if it was so?

You have done well to stop and ask such a question. Not many have done that. In the same chapter, in verses 2 and 3, you will find what Paul preached; And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them (the synagogue of the Jews), and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus-whom I preach unto you, is Christ. So it is clear that Paul was preaching and arguing from the Scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Christ and Messiah, the King of Israel. In verse 7 his enemies charge him with saying, that there is another king (than Caesar), one Jesus. The theme of their Scriptures, the OT, is of the coming kingdom and the King. And this is what the Bereans found. Paul was not preaching the administration of The Mystery. Even if he had, they could not have verified his message from the Scriptures they had, for it was a subject that had been hid in God from ages and generations (Eph 3:9; Col 1:26). Be sure to check this.

90. How can we know that the "voice" in Isaiah 40:3 refers to John the Baptist?

The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write of John the Baptist, For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. This is quoted from the reference you gave. Also you will find that a messenger is to be sent to proclaim the coming of the Lord, the God of Israel (Mal 2:16,17; 3:1-4). This is the same Lord and God referred to in your text. Not only does John the Baptist fulfill the place of the messenger, but Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord and the God of Israel whose way is to be made straight. Christ is Jehovah.

91. Could it be that Philippians 2:9-11 refers to the man, Jesus, who is another creature or a god?

In this reference it is plainly stated that the highest name possible is given to Jesus of Nazareth. That name is found in Psalms 7:17, the first of 36 places it occurs in the OT. It is Jehovah-Elyon, or, Jehovah the Most High God. There is no name above this one. If Jesus of Nazareth was not Jehovah, the Most High God, then our Bible is wrong, not inspired, and can not be trusted. We might just as well throw it out and lean on our own understanding. Here is a further quotation from Isaiah 45:23, I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. In this same context it is made plain that there is no other Savior. However Satan still is saying, Yea, hath God said! We find our directions made clear in 2 John 9,10, Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ (what the Word testifies of Him) , hath not God ...If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. Just remember, the greatest of sins is unbelief.

92. What is the meaning of Romans 9:6 where it says, " For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Does this have to do with the true seed?

The true and the false seed are not in this context. Rather, the downfall of Israel and the blessing of the Gentile believers is the subject of chapters 9-11 here in Romans. Paul is making it plain that the true Israel of God is not all made up of the descendants of Israel, but also includes Gentiles. In his first epistle, Paul said to the Gentile believers, And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29). In verse 9 of the same chapter we read, So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Now keep in mind that this is in the administration of promise, not The Mystery. Israel is still first.

93. Did John the Baptist have a message and a baptism for Gentiles?

There is no record that he did. In fact, there was no ministry to Gentiles in the NT until the day that Peter went to the house of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea (Acts 10 entire).

94. There is much talk these days about Moses being married to a black woman, and also that Philip preached to a colored man of Ethiopia. Do these have any bearing on truth for today?

None that I can think of. Zipporah was the wife of Moses. She was the daughter of a priest in Midian. His name was Reuel, Raguel, or Jethro. The Midianites were children of Abraham by his second wife, Keturah, and so would be the same race and color as Moses. Since Midian was in Arabia, a part of the land of Cush, she would be a Cushite by nationality, but a Midianite by race. So what? The eunuch, to whom Philip spoke, is not. said to be an Ethiopian, but from Ethiopia. He had the Scriptures and had been to Jerusalem to worship. So we must conclude that he was a Jew that was a slave in high position with the queen of Ethiopia. This would correspond with the condition of Daniel in the court of Nebuchanezzar and later in the court of Darius the Mede. I might add that the queen of Sheba was very probably not of Ethiopia, as tradition says, but queen Hatshepsut of Egypt (Sheba meaning south).

95. What is meant by the evil day in Ephesians 6:13?

There is a chance that at some time during the truth of the administration of The Mystery there may come a time of tribulation or trial upon those who dare to speak this truth. The spiritual failure and barrenness we see in Christendom today can well lead to such a condition.

96.  Are we to approach the throne of grace in prayer today as indicated in Hebrews 4:16?

The word throne does not appear in any of the epistles Paul wrote after Acts 28:28. It is not found in the gospel of John which was also written this side of Acts. Throne has to do with a King and a kingdom. There is no place for a throne in The Church. In the plural, it occurs in Col 1:16, but it is concerning thrones, dominions, and the like in heaven and earth, not the throne of God.

97. In Romans 6:14,15 it speaks of not being under the law, but under grace. Was not the Jew still under the law then?

Yes, the Jew was still under the ceremonial law, known as the law. But in the reference you gave, there is no article. Under faith, love, and grace, the Jew was no longer subject to the moral law. The moral law is contained in the last 5 of the 10 commandments. You can readily see that if one loves his neighbor as himself, then this moral law is made void. It is rather a strange thing to say that law is for the lawless. But that is right. The Gentile believers in Rome had the new nature and so did the things of the law, even though they never had it (Romans 2:14). Romans 13:8,10 shows that love is the fulfilling of the law (the moral law).

98. According to Ephesians 3:2 is not this the age or administration of grace?

No. This verse tells us that a special administration of grace was given to Paul that he might preach the gospel of the administration of The Mystery. Just notice how Paul follows this statement up in verses 7 & 8. Compare with Col 1:25 where he speaks of his ministry being an administration of God to him. The next verse speaks of this ministry as The Mystery.

99. When did water baptism cease to be the rule for God's people?

The apostles and Paul baptized with water in the Acts era. Paul makes it known that after Acts 28:28 there is one baptism (Eph 4:5) and in Col 2:12 this baptism is described as being identified with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. So we must conclude that water baptism ceased at the end of Acts.

100. Is it true that two distinct purposes of God are revealed in the Bible?

Yes that is true. (1) There is a distinctive purpose revealed concerning Israel, the kingdom, and the earth program (not connected with powers in the heavens). The kingdom phase culminates in the coming of the King, the rapture of His people, Israel, and the setting up of the kingdom. (2) There is another distinctive purpose revealed after Acts 28:28 which has to do with the Gentiles (nations) and this in connection with heavenly places and heavenly beings. This is The Church. All believers outside these two distinctive purposes from Adam till now will have their part with the dying malefactor in paradise (the new earth). This groups all believers into 3 groups, but with 2 spheres of blessing, the earth and the heavens.

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  • Believer Ministries Inc.
  • P.O. Box 500
  • Sutherlin, OR 97479 USA
  • Tel: (541) 459-4660

Ministry Information

  • The Word of God makes known The Lord Jesus Christ; Who declares to the Believer our Heavenly Father that we might know Him. God has revealed Himself not according to religious viewpoints but reveals Himself by the written Word.  The Light that illuminates our path makes it possible for all who are willing to walk with Him and to see His clear instructions to live victorious lives in Christian Faith and Practice.
  • Believer.com is a Bible Study Center whose goal is to base all of our posted teachings on Scripture and not the traditions and commandments of men.

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