Paul’s Ministry.

(Chapter 1:23, 25.)

The Gospel preached by the Apostle Paul was in advance of that of Peter and the other eleven Apostles. The ministry of the twelve is described thus:— “Of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1:21). Their teaching was of a Christ upon earth, Who died and rose again; very little more generally did the twelve speak of. Paul’s Gospel was of a Christ in glory. “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16). What had he seen? What Peter had not seen—a Christ in glory. Hence there is emphasis on what Paul speaks of when he says, “My Gospel” (Romans 16:25). So also in 2 Cor. 4:3 —“If our Gospel be hid.” The context shews it was the Gospel of a Christ in glory. Whilst then Paul told of Christ dead and risen (1 Cor. 15:1-3), there was a further line of things committed to him, which had not been given to the eleven. He heard the Risen Christ speak of His persecuted saints on earth as part of Himself—“Why persecutest thou Me?” Paul’s ministry began where Stephen’s left off. Stephen saw Him standing, but rejected still by men, but Paul saw Him seated at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3). He saw Him in the glory of God. And now He is calling saints to share that glory: As Paul tells us, “Whereunto He called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). And God is now intent upon bringing His “many sons” into that glory (Heb. 2:10). From that glory He has sent down the Holy Ghost, to unite us to a glorified Christ, and to give us even now glimpses of that glory to win our hearts and to lead them up to Him there. “We all with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18). And when He comes, our bodies shall be fashioned like unto the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21). Then the Bible ends by giving us a glance of the Church “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11). The unveiled glory of Christ, His saints gazing upon the full unclouded perfection of God in Christ, seeing Him as He is, and having by thus gazing that glory in themselves.

“The Kingdom of His Dear Son.”

(Chapter 1:13.)

There are various kingdoms spoken of in the Word. “The Kingdom of Heaven”—an expression which occurs most frequently in Matthew’s Gospel—denotes His reign whilst He the King is in heaven. Its administration is traced in the parables of Matthew, chap. 13:But this Kingdom of Heaven could be and was “The Kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11) as well as when He was on earth, or when He shall have returned from heaven, as it is now during His absence from earth and presence at the right hand of God (Acts 8:12; 20:25). “The Kingdom of the Father” (Matt. 13:48): looks only at that which is according to God, when all shall be as He would have it, all having been fully and perfectly subjugated to Him by the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20). “The Kingdom of Christ” (Rev. 11:15), is the government of His world in the hands of Messiah. “The Kingdom of the Son of Man” shall stretch and extend to the entire creation (Psa. 8:6-9; Dan. 7:13, 14). “The Kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13), contemplates the state in which the saints now are, reconciled to God by the blood of Christ, yet with evil in them, which has to be subdued. For the way of God is, to put us at conversion under the sway of His Son, whom we know and learn to obey as our Lord. He will treat us very kindly, but He will not allow insubjection to His will. He will break us in; it implies training, tutelage, and restraint, and when we have been perfectly subdued, we shall then be in the Kingdom of the Father. In the future, the first effect of His appearing to earth will be that wickedness will flee from His presence, and righteousness will come to the front and flourish. At present, during this age of which Satan is the “god” and “prince,” righteousness suffers and is pushed aside. During the millennium it will reign (Isa. 32:1). Then all the righteous shall rejoice because He has at length set up His reign of righteousness in power. The objects of His reign are, first to put all things right, to order all things according to God down here, and when all has been subdued and put as God would have them, He will hand over the kingdom to God the Father. Yet His kingdom is in another sense “everlasting” (2 Pet. 1:11). All other monarchs have had their crowns wrested from them by death, or by others; not so the Lord Jesus. He will surrender the kingdom and His Lordship as Son of Man to God, but nought of His millennium work will be altered or annulled. Everything will be consolidated and settled. Then God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will be all in all.

Head of His Body—the Church.

(Chapter 1:18.)

By the Holy Ghost all who believe now are formed into one body, of which Christ risen from the dead is the Head. The Old Testament saints were not of this body, How could they be? The Holy Ghost had not then come down personally from heaven to earth by whom such a union is formed, neither was there a Head in heaven to whom they could be united. There was no union with Christ before He died. Then He abode alone (John 12:24). Only as “First-born from the dead” is He “Head of the Church—His body” (Col. 1:18). Not even when the Church had begun to exist as a matter of fact, consequent on His ascension to heaven, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, was the doctrine of it revealed immediately: nor until Paul had been called and received his commission from the Lord Jesus, and was made a minister of the Gospel and of the Church (Col. 1:23). And to him was committed the stewardship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world had been hidden in God (Eph. 3:7).

“Perfect in Christ Jesus”.

(Chapter 1:28.)

The word “perfect” in the New Testament is the translation of two utterly different words in the Greek.

Telios, as in this verse, and Heb. 5:14. This looks at our individual likeness to Christ.

Katartizo, as in 1 Corinthians 1:10, and 2 Corinthians 13:9, 11, refers to our being well fitted into the body, perfectly joined together, each knowing and keeping his proper place in the assembly of God.

If we know not what we are in Christ, we are not Telios. If we cause trouble and disturb the fellowship of saints by our sectarianism, or by our self-seeking and self-importance, wanting to be uppermost, we are not Katartizo.

The Mystery.

(Chapter 2:2.)

The mystery which had been hid in God from all ages, is the unity of the body—the Church. That Jews and Gentiles believing in the Lord Jesus should be made one with the risen Christ in glory, is something new indeed. As it is, or ought to be, in Eph. 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be heirs together, should be a body together, should be sharers together of the promise in Christ.” The calling of the Gentiles was not hid. The mercy of God to the Gentiles is mentioned in many of the prophetic Scriptures, but that they should be made “a body together “with believing Jews, was indeed a new thing in the universe. When the religious Jew believes on the Lord Jesus, he is made one with the irreligious Gentile. Both lose their identity, and become one in Christ. Thus we have the unique character and calling of the Church. When the Church is removed from the earth, then the distinction between the Jew and the Gentile will be resumed, but for the present, during the presence of the Son of God at His Father’s right hand, and the presence of the Holy Ghost here on earth, all such differences are set aside. This is the period of the outcalling of the Church, which is a new, unique, a singular thing in the universe. And this mystery of the Church is not only a unique body now, but it will remain so for ever. Hebrews 12:23, clearly shows, that it will be so throughout the millennium, and Ephesians 3:21, adds—“Unto Him be glory in the Church, by Christ Jesus, unto all the generations of the age of ages. Amen.”


(Chapter 2:19.)

“The Head from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered.” In the first Epistle to the Corinthians (chap. 12:14-24), we are taught that the body has many members, but that all the members have not the same office. In the Epistle to the Ephesians (chap. 4:10-14), we learn that the risen Christ gives gifts to men for the upbuilding of His body. The former passage reminds us that the Spirit uses whom He will, and that He must not be quenched or hindered in His operations. The latter, marks a distinct provision made by Christ for His peoples’ sustainence and growth. The former shows how the Church is cast upon Him, how He may use the five words of one unlettered, or of a babe in Christ, and hence the need of providing liberty for those to minister in the assembly such as the great Sovereign God to whom it belongs would have. The latter tells how the Lord in His love and faithfulness provides for, and will never fail His Church, and how rule is to be perpetuated therein. For it is His will, that those who minister to, and feed the flock, should with others whom He raises up and fits, rule and guide it (see Heb. 13:7, 17, 24; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). And the need of such rule must be obvious, when we remember, that wherever there is liberty for the Spirit to use whomsoever He will, there is also liberty for the flesh to intrude itself with unprofitable ministry, which for the glory of the Lord and the welfare of the saints must be stopped (Titus 1:11). Man’s way is to have everything arranged, which, while it may ensure order such as man can approve of, shuts out God, and stops up the channels His Spirit might use in ministering grace to the saints. The ignoring of the Corinthian side of the truth has led to the introduction of clerisy, and the rejection of the Holy Ghost in ministry, while the neglect of the Ephesian aspect of the truth has led some to fancy they are able to minister, whereas their words have only the effect of bringing upon the saints leanness and coldness. The very words used by the Spirit to describe these two forms of ministry are different. That of Corinthians is karismata, while in Ephesians it is domata. And while the gifts of Ephesians are pledged to continue to the end—“till we all come to the unity of the faith unto a perfect man,” those of Corinthians are not.

It ought to be noticed too, that the double object of the gifts in Ephesians is, first “for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry,”—not to do everything for them; and second, as looking on further still, “unto the edifying of the body of Christ.” And this work of giving is His own work alone, none can take it out of His hand. Some presume to make men into ministers by the laying on of their hands horizontally; others choose their own ministers by holding up one hand perpendicularly, but here Christ is seen with all the gifts in His hand, dispersing them as He will, for the welfare of His Church.


(Chapter 2:21.)

What is worship? It is neither praise nor prayer, much less is it listening to a discourse or sermon. Worship is the overflow of hearts occupied with Christ. In prayer we are occupied with our wants: in praise we think of our blessings: but in worship the heart is occupied with Himself. To worship God we must be consciously at rest in His presence, enjoying His love. As the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shews them to us, our hearts are filled to overflowing in our adoration of Him.

Worship in its fullest and highest sense is in the assembly, gathered in His Name, with the Lord in the midst (Matt, 18:20). This place He took amongst His own, immediately He had risen from the dead (John 20:19). This place He takes still in grace, and it will be the place He will have in the future “in the midst of the Church” (Heb. 2:12). Thus gathered around Him, with the Spirit to lead, we proclaim His death, and own Him as our Head and Lord, while we wait for His return.

The Body and the Bride.

It has been vehemently asserted by some, that the Church is not the heavenly Bride of Christ, that there is only one Scripture which seems to show this, and that when it is examined it will not be found to assert that this is so. Alas! it has ever been the habit of those who seek to fritter away the truth, to attempt to weaken the force of that truth by saying that only such and such Scriptures speak of it, and as their opposition increases, the number of such Scriptures become fewer and fewer. It is said that Ephesians 5 is the only Scripture that can be made to support this. Well, if this were the only one, is it not ample? But I am certain that there are other Scriptures that clearly teach the bridal relationship of the Church to Christ: and others assume it. The term “Bride” may not be found, but the sentiment is abundantly. Can there be any doubt that the allusion in Ephesians 5:23-32, is to Eve being taken out from Adam’s body to become his bride? Does this type teach that the Church is the body but not the bride? The inspired comment given by the apostle entirely sets aside such a thought. He says, “I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” Now, if the teaching here implies that the Church is only viewed as the body of Christ, what is the force of the word “and”? In another Scripture, where the same Apostle is dealing with the Church as the body of Christ, his language is entirely different. There he says, “So also is the Christ” (1 Cor.12:12, Greek). Here there is no “and,” for the two are one. Head and members together form “The Christ.” But in Ephesians 5:30, there is an “and,” for the one is assumed to be two. The former, in which the twain are one, points to the grandeur of the Church’s position as one with Christ: the latter shows her subordination, and His affection. These truths thus connected, were designed by God to be counter-truths. To disturb or remove either, is to mar the effect of both. As the body of Christ, the Church has Him as Head above her; as the Bride she will have Him ever with her.

The Rewards of the Judgment-Seat.

(Chapter 3:24.)

The rapture to heaven of the entire Church to the unveiled presence of God, to behold Him in all His glory, will be God’s own answer, to the full value He has put on the work of Christ. Never before had He so fully told all its value, as now, when He lifts up into His own immediate presence those who had on earth put their trust in that precious blood. Their presence in the Father’s house is due to Grace alone; their sole title to be there, is found in the Blood of the Lamb. The Father’s house precedes in point of time, the Judgment-Seat of Christ and the Kingdom. The family circle is before the glory of the throne, or the displayed glory of the Kingdom. “Caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev. 12:5.) In the first and highest of these three, the work of Christ is alone regarded. In the other two, our works, the response of our hearts to His grace will be measured and rewarded at His judgment-seat after He has welcomed us to His presence in infinite grace and love. The crowns He will give are for faithful service to Him here below. (See 1 Thess. 2:20; 2 Tim. 4:10; 1 Peter 5:4; James 1:12.) The crowns will be diverse as the service had been. Each will express the measure of the Lord’s approbation of His servant’s work, and be an evidence of it to others, illustrating His own word of cheer, “Well done.” And these rewards have all an abiding and eternal character (2 Peter 1:11). They are not like the honours conferred by men, which wither and die (1 Cor. 9:27). Yet let it ever be remembered, that our common standing as the children of God is the highest. Just as the members of a royal family may be—one a colonel of a regiment, another the captain of a ship, yet when they come together, they do so on the ground of being children of one family. So will it be with the saints of God. One will rule over ten cities (Luke 19:10), another over five, yet the competency of both to reign will be the possession of Divine life, and this alone by sovereign grace and mercy, which lifted each one up from the dunghill to sit among princes.

Truths and their Counter Truths.

(Chapter 4:16.)

To every truth God has revealed in His Word, there is a counter truth. If you wish to be kept from being an heretic, then do not learn so much on one side of the truth as to ignore the other. If you have found any single truth to be precious to your soul, then be sure you look out for its counter truth, and give it your attention also, otherwise by occupying yourself wholly with one side of truth to the neglect of the other, you will be in danger of pushing it into the place of heresy. For it is well to remember, that heresy as spoken of in the Scripture, is not error, but truth pushed out of its place to the disparagement or ignoring of other truths which have been given by God to balance it. Heresy is selected truth; truth taken out of its connection, and forced into undue importance, hence “an heretic” (Titus 3:10) is one who chooses, who makes selection according to his own tastes, and who forms a party round that which he thus chooses. If a believer wants to go on rightly, holding a straight course in the Word of God, he must always remember that God’s truth is two-sided, and that every truth has its counter truth. For in us there is the ever-recurring tendency to set up one side of truth against another, to hold one side so as to disparage or neutralise the other. God’s truth is ever in extremes, but not in one extreme without the other. In order to be safe, the two extremes must be held together. Statements in God’s Word may be divers, but never diverse, truths will be found to be counter, but never contrary.