- Published: 14 April 2011
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So what week of the seventy are we in right now?
We are not in any of the weeks as we are in the administration of God known as the Mystery:
Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Eph 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Eph 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Eph 3:9 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:
When this administration ends the last week will commence as it deals strictly with Israel and not the Body of Christ. Many teachers today fail to see that the Bride and the Body are different and that Israel is in it's period of blindness so we are supplying the following teaching.
- It is assumed almost universally that the Church of the present dispensation is at once the "Body of Christ" and "the Bride" ... Traditional theology, unscriptural hymnology, amazing disregard for correct interpretation, intolerant zeal for dogmatic human opinions together with careless defective instruction, have united for generations in perpetuating a phase of teaching possessing no foundation in or authority from Holy Scripture and perpetrating a system that plunges multitudes of believers in dire confusion concerning the plan, purpose and programme of God for "the Church which is His Body" as distinct from the Divine purpose concerning another outcalling known as "the Bride, the Lambs wife".
- Is the Church the Bride of Christ? Let us begin by correcting our terminology. In the Patmos visions we read of "The Bride, the Lambs wife", but "the Bride of Christ" is unknown to Scripture .. With the close of the Baptists ministry, both the Bride and the Lamb disappear from the New Testament until we reach the Patmos visions. In Revelation 21, the angel summoning the Seer to behold "the Bride" the Lambs wife, and he showed him "the Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God". The twelve gates of the city bear the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, and on the twelve foundations are "the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" ... it is the city for which Abraham looked ... These apostles of the Bride are not the apostles who were given after the Ascension for the building up of the Body of Christ - the apostles of this Christian dispensation, chief among whom was Paul. They are the twelve apostles of the Lords earthly ministry to Israel, who shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28).
If we call upon the O.T. to bear a witness to the Church which is His Body, the answer is silence. Such a company and such a relationship is unknown. If, however, we call upon the O.T. to bear a witness to a company of redeemed, that are likened to either wife or bride, the answer is affirmative and very full. When Jeremiah prophesied of the institution of the New Covenant, he said, "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them". This supposes that under the terms of the old covenant, Israel were related to the Lord as a wife to an husband. This is recognized by Ezekiel, who wrote, namely in Ezekiel 16:7-14. The figure employed, "I spread my skirt over thee" when compared with Ruth 3:9 reveals the marriage relationship, which is explained by Ezekiel as entering into a "covenant" and "prospering as a kingdom".
The charge laid against Israel, however, is that they proved unfaithful to their marriage vow, Ezekiel likened them to "a wife that committeth adultery" (Ezek. 16:32) and says that Israel will be judged "as a woman that breaketh wedlock" (Ezek. 16:38). The phrase, which has become common in modern matrimonial lawsuits, "breach of promise", is used by God of Israel in Numbers 14:34; and divorcement is employed by Jeremiah to set forth this people's unhappy position.
- "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? .
Isaiah speaks of divorcement saying:
- "Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?" (Isa. 50:1).
- "Thou shaft no more be termed Forsaken: neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shaft be called Hephzibah and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married" (Isa. 62:4).
- Jezreel. "Scattering" and also "Sowing".
- Lo-ruhamah. "Not having obtained mercy."
- Lo-ammi. "Not My people."
- "I will betroth thee unto Me for ever".
- "I will sow (Jezreel) her unto Me in the earth, and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy: and I will say unto them which were not My people, Thou art My people: and they shall say, Thou art my God" (2:23).
If we considered the dispensational boundary of Acts twenty-eight where Israel's hope is suspended, Israel's long period of blindness and wandering commenced, and where Israel entered into her long period of divorcement. This later thought is implicit in the word translated "departed" in verse 25 which should be rendered "dismissed" for the word is passive. This word apoluo had a distinct meaning, and one that bears closely upon the divorcement of Israel in Acts twenty-eight. Here are the first occurrences of this Greek word in the N.T.
- "He was minded to put her away privily".
- "Whosoever shall put away his wife".
- "Shall marry her that is divorced" (Matt. 1:19, 5:31,32).
It is assumed, that because Revelation 21:1 opens with a vision of the new heavens and new earth, all that follows belongs also to that great day, but this cannot be, for it is still possible to be excluded as verses 8 and 27 show. It is a characteristic of these visions of the Apocalypse to lead up to a climax, as in Revelation 6:14-17, and then to go back in time and approach the same climax by another avenue. The same principle that would make the wife of Revelation nineteen distinct from the bride of Revelation twenty-one, sees two separate creations and two Adams, in the dual records of Genesis one and two, whereas it is obvious that in the second account fuller details are given. The word "wife" is not exclusive to the record of Revelation nineteen, for in 21:9 we re "as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels" (Isa. 61:10).
In Revelation nineteen the marriage supper of the Lamb is inaugurated. A specific period of time was observed for this ceremony, referred to in Genesis' 29:27 as "her week", and it appears from the Revelation that this week" lasts throughout the millennium, after which the holy city is seen descending from heaven and the "tabernacle of God" will be with men. The language of Revelation 21:10 when compared with Revelation 17:1 places these two women, these two cities, these two systems in direct opposition, a third woman, city or system would be an intruder here.
Before concluding, we must consider the teaching that affirms that the Church of the Mystery, "The Body" must be at the same time "The Bride" by reason of what is taught in Ephesians five. First, it is a matter of demonstrable truth that the Church of the Mystery is called "The Body" of which Christ is the Head. Secondly, the statement made by Paul as to the exclusive character of this high calling, would not only be nullified; but would prove to be unwarrantable exaggerations, if after all that is written in Ephesians one to three, this Church should turn out to be a part of the hope of Israel or the promise made to Abraham. Thirdly, the Apostle (to say nothing of the deeper thought of inspiration) could be accused of badly mixing his metaphors.
We remember once meeting an enthusiast for "The Bride" who contended that the Man child of Revelation twelve must be the Bride! but this is no more extravagant than maintaining that a company destined to be "the perfect Man" is nevertheless "The Bride". It may be objected that the word "man" includes both sexes, but this is not so. Anthropos yes, but Path does not use the word anthropos in Ephesians 4:13 but aner, a word actually translated in Ephesians five by the English word "husband", so that they who insist that the Church of Ephesians five is the bride, must insist that Paul taught that the bride will be the perfect husband-which is absurd.
Ephesians five and six belong, to the practical portion of the epistle and in these chapters human society is divided up into three groups: (1) Wives, Husbands. (2) Children, Parents. (3) Servants, Masters. Quite irrespective of the dispensation of grace these three divisions of society would need to be recognized, and wives and husbands are just as surely advised on their relation to the calling that Peter administered as wives and husbands were advised as to their relation to the calling administered by Paul.
Again, some have pointed out that the Church is feminine, and that the pronouns in Ephesians 5:25, 27 should be translated "her" and "she" instead of "it" thereby making it clear that the Church is "the bride". This, however, is just sheer ignorance, or trading upon ignorance. Gender in grammar is not the same as sex. Does anyone imagine that because la table in French is "feminine" it has the remotest allusion to sex? We need not, however, go outside the Greek of Ephesians five itself to demonstrate how utterly false the argument is that would speak of the Church as "she". Kephale "Head" is feminine. Is Christ, the Bridegroom, therefore a female? Akatharsia "uncleanness" is feminine. Do we therefore teach that this is impossible for a man to exhibit or fall into? Basileia "kingdom" is feminine, rutis "wrinkle" is feminine, sarx "flesh" is feminine, and so on. Nothing concerning the calling of the Church can be made out of the fact that the word ekklesia is in the feminine gender. Does Ephesians five say that the Church is the bride, therefore wives should act in accordance with the fact? The answer is No, it draws its power of appeal, from the fact that these "wives" were by grace members of the Body."
- "He is the Saviour of the Body" (Eph. 5:23).
- "We are members of His Body" (Eph. 5:30).
- "No man hateth his own flesh" (Eph. 5:29).
All God's Blessings,