TGF Topical Studies
The Seven Ones of the Body of Christ
5 December 1999
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0. Preface: The fundamental bases for understanding the held-in-silence Mystery*, the distinctive gospel of the Body of Christ, are the "Seven Ones" of Ephesians 4:3-6.
Eph 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Prefaced by a command to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of this Peace (v. 3)," Paul gives the fundamental bases upon which the unity of the Body of Christ, according to the Mystery*, is built. These foundational principles are as follows:
One God and Father of all
Lest the passage be rendered incoherent, the normative understanding of Eph 4:4-6 requires more than seeing a simple list preceded by the quantifier, "one". A question is required: "one God, as opposed to what?" For example, certainly there is but one God (v. 6) -- so why does Paul state this? Were the Ephesian saints at risk of denying monotheism and turning to a pantheon of gods? Or, when Paul writes "one baptism," does he refer to water or Spirit? Does he intend one in exclusion of the other? If so, which is excluded? If not, then Paul must intend "one baptism of two (or more)". But how does this explain "one God"? Does Paul then intend "one God of two (or more)?" No, but rather each of these "ones", in context and understood by the same linguistic, grammatical, and hermeneutical rules as would have the original audience, indicates a distinctive singularity ("one and only one"). These are presented by Paul in implicit contrast to Israel's "manys," that is, whereas for each of these Israel's kingdom has multiplicity, the Body of Christ has one and only one.
*The "held-in-silence" Mystery: Ro 16:25 1Co 2:7 Eph 3:3,9 6:19 Col 1:26-27
I. One Body
The Body of Christ comprises one and only one Body of non-ethnic members, in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Israel's kingdom was (and will again be) characterized by ethnic distinctions, i.e., many bodies. Compare the following:
A. Israel's kingdom:
1. Many bodies
Is 2:1-3 14:1-4 60:1-16 Joel 3:1 Amos 9:9-12 Zech 8:3,13,22,23 14:16-19 Ro 11:24-26. These passages demonstrate the distinction between Israel and the gentile nations, an Kingdom of many bodies. The future Hope of the Kingdom of Israel is described as a priestly Nation, possessing, blessing, and ministering in behalf of the Elect gentile nations.
2. Ethnic basis of distinctions
Although Israel is the chief Elect Nation (De 14:2), the scriptures also describe the Elect gentile nations (Amos 9:12 Zech 8:22,23 Mt 25:32-34). These "bodies" are not judicially distinct, but rather administratively so, with Israel as the chief among the elect nations.
B. Body of Christ
1. Unity of the One Body
Ro 12:3-5 1Co 12:12-27 Eph 1:19-23 4:15-16 5:31-32 Col 1:18|. These passages describe the Body of Christ as a distinct unity, in constrast to the description of Israel's kingdom as comprising many bodies.
2. The Body of Christ as non-ethnic
Gal 3:28 6:15 Eph 2:16 3:6
II. One Spirit
The Body of Christ is subject to the One Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune Godhead. Israel's kingdom was (and will again be) characterized by the angelic ministry, i.e., many spirits. Whereas, the Body of Christ is not subject to the angelic spirits, i.e. there is no angelic ministry with respect to the Body of Christ.
A. The Kingdom of Israel was (and will again be) subject to many spirits
1. Angels are called "spirits" He 1:13-14 Ez 1:21 1Ki 22:21-23 2Chr 18:20-22 1Sa 16:14-23 18:10 19:9 Ps 104:4
2. The elect Jews of Israel's kingdom were (and will again be) governed and blessed by God via the administration of the elect angels Ge 22:11,15 24:7,40 32:11-29 Ex 14:19 Jud 2:1-4 etc. (also, the Shekinah cloud was -- and will again be -- a cloud of spirits, i.e., angelic manifestation);
3. The angelic ministry was tied to the earthly kingdom of Israel (angels go before Israel to secure the Land) Ex 23:20-23 32:34 33:2
4. Revelation/scripture was imparted to Elect Jews via the mediation of angels Ex 3:2 Ac 7:53 Ga 3:19 Ez 2:2 He 2:2|
B. The Body of Christ and the One Spirit
1. The Body of Christ is subject to One (and only one) Spirit 1Co 12:1-26
2. There is no angelic ministry for the Body: Of the 14 Pauline occurrences of "angel", none refer to an angelic ministry to the Body of Christ. Most references have a negative connotation. Ro 8:38 1Co 4:9 6:3 11:10 13:1 2Co 11:14 12:7 Ga 1:8 3:19 4:14 Col 2:18 2Th 1:7 1Ti 3:16 1Ti 5:21
3. Paul did not receive revelation through angels, but rather, via the One Spirit 2Co 12:3-13 1Co 2:10-13 Eph 2:18 Php 1:19 1Ti 4:1. Note definite articles with "spirit" in 1Ti 4:1 1Co 2:10-12.
4. The Body of Christ is means by which angels learn the Mystery, Eph 3:10 (corollary 1Co 6:1-3)
5. The Body of Christ has a heavenly (non-earthly) hope (Php 3:20 Col 1:12 Eph 1:3, 20 2:6 cf. Rev 5:6 7:17 3:21) and will govern the angelic host (1Co 6:1-3) as they administrate over Israel (see A. above, and He 7:7).
III. One Hope
The Body of Christ has one and only one Hope, which is to be co-seated with Christ on the Father's throne, righteously governing the angelic host. Israel's kingdom was (and will again be) characterized by many distinct ethnic hopes, each elect nation looking forward to and longing for the fulfillment of their distinctive Hope. For elect Israel, their Hope is to dwell in the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, righteously governing and blessing the elect Gentile nations. For the elect nations in Israel's kingdom, their hope is to dwell in their respective lands, and to serve Israel, and thereby to worship the Lord via the mediatory function of the priestly nation (i.e., Israel).
A. Israel's kingdom: Many Hopes (note: many of the references overlap and are necessarily interrelated due to the hierarchical nature of the eternal earthly kingdom)
1. Hope of Israel (Elect Jews, the Remnant)
a. To dwell in their Land, political earthly kingdom Is 19:23-25 Is 14:1-3 Is 60:1-6 Joel 3:1 Is 2:1-3 Ro 11:24-26 Zech 8:3-23 14:16-19 Gen 17:8 2Sam 7:16 Is 9:6-7 Jer 23:5,6 Ps 25:13 37:9-12 Ez 37:21-22 Ps 101:8 Ez 47:13-48:35 Dan 2:35,44 7:14 Heb 4:1-11 (cf. Ps 95:1-11)
b. To possess, govern, and righteously bless the Elect gentiles nations Ge 12:3 18:18 22:17, 18 26:4 Isa 14:1-3 60:1-6 Amos 9:9-12 Jer 23:5,6
c. To function as a priestly nation in behalf of the Gentile nations Ex. 19:5,6 1Pe 2:5,9
d. To be served by the gentile nations Is 14:1-3
e. Twelve apostles to govern upon twelve thrones, legates of Christ's throne Rev. 3:21 (cf. B.5 below)
f. To be "like" Christ (similar to, but not the image of, the Son) 1 Jn 3:1-3 (esp. v. 3).
g. Rewards: Mt 5:12,46 6:1 6:19-21 10:41,42 Mr 9:41 Lu 6:23,35 2Pe 2:13,15 2Jo 1:8 Re 11:18 22:12
2. Hopes of the Elect Gentile nations Mt 12:21 the Greek word for "trust" is sometimes translated "hope"
a. To dwell in their land (earthly hope) Gen 1:28 9:1 Isa 19:23-25 14:1-3 Job 19:25-26 (Job was a Gentile)
b. To serve Israel Is 11:10 14:1-3
c. To worhip God through service to Israel Isa 60:1-6 2:1-3
B. The Body of Christ: One Hope (Peter would not have shared any of these)
1. All members of the Body have the same distinctive Hope Ro 5:2-5 8:16-23
2. To sit with Christ above all principality, power, etc. Eph 1:3, 20-23 Php 3:20ff
3. All members have one and only one Hope Ro 11:29 Eph 1:18 4:4
4. In the third heaven (cf 2Chr 6:18) Eph 1:18 2 Co 12:1ff Eph 1:3 2:6
5. Jointly-seated with Christ on the Father's throne (only ONE throne in the third heaven) Eph 1:20-23 2:6 cf. Rev 5:6 7:17; contrast to Rev 3:21
6. To be transformed into the very image of the Son. Php 3:21 For the Body of Christ, we are told that our bodies will be changed and fashioned like unto Christ's glorified body. The Greek word is eikon, the very image of the Son. Of all the NT occurrences, only Paul uses this word pertaining to the elect individuals Ro 8:29 1Co 11:7 15:49 2Co 3:18 4:4 Col 1:15 3:10, the descriptions of which are contained in the scripture Da 7:9 Mt 28:3 Re 1:14 2:18 19:12. Compare this to Elect Israel, who do NOT know what they will be like, only that they will be "like" or similar to Him; and this is a sufficient Hope for them 1Jn 3:2. One might argue that 1John merely says that we don't know because we have not yet seen him. However, the descriptions in Revelation match those of Daniel, to which the readers of 1John had access.
7. Rewards: 2Ti 4:7,8 Php 3:12-14 1Co 9:24,25 Col 2:18, Ro 4:4 1Co 3:8,14 9:17
C. Practical implications/ramifications of Hope: What one hopes for affects one's behavior, attitude, and general outlook in life. This is evidenced in the following references. Pay close attention to the distinctiveness between Israel's and Paul's hopes.
1. For Israel: Ac 2:26 23:6 24:15 26:6-7 28:20 Heb 3:6 6:11-18, 19 7:19 1Pe 1:3, 13, 21 3:15 1Jo 3:3
2. For the Body of Christ: Ro 5:2,4,5 8:20,24,25 12:12 15:4,13 1Co 13:13 15:19 2Co 1:10 3:12 2Co 10:15 Ga 5:5 Eph 1:18 2:12 4:4 Col 1:5,23,27 1Th 1:3 2:19 4:13 5:8 2Th 2:16 1Ti 1:1 4:10 5:5 Tit 1:2 2:13 3:7
IV. One Lord: Administrative hierarchy
The central focus of the Seven Ones, the One Lord, is emphasized by the "introversion" structure of the passage:
One God and Father of all
For Israel's kingdom there were (will again be) many lords administrating over Israel and the nations, namely, the angelic host. For the Body of Christ, there is but One Lord, Jesus Christ who is exalted as Head of the Body.
A. Israel's many lords
1. The angels are Israel's lords: #Ge 19:2, 18 Dan 10:16,17,19 12:8 Is 6:6,7 Ps 136:3 (1Ti 6:15 Re 17:14 19:16) Zech 6:4
2. Israel (and indirectly, the Gentile nations) is theocratically governed via the angelic ministry. See II.A.2 (Ge 22:11,15 24:7,40 32:11-29 Ex 14:19 Jud 2:1-4)
B. Body of Christ and the One Lord
1. The Body of Christ is under the One Lord, namely Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead 1Co 8:5,6.
2. Each member of the Body of Christ has a direct relationship to the One Lord (as the Head to the Body) without angelic mediation/ministry of any kind 1Ti 2:5 Ro 8:34,26
3. Paul received revelation directly from the One Lord Ac 9:3-6 1Co 9:1 2Co 12:1-7 Gal 1:12 Eph 3:3, and not through the disposition of angels (cf. II.A.4 Ex 3:2 Ac 7:53 Ga 3:19 Ez 2:2 He 2:2)
4. Body of Christ is administratively superior to the angels 1Co 5:3-5 6:1-3 Ga 1:8,9 Eph 3:10 1Ti 1:20| Note: a Jew would not, neither do even other angels, accuse or rail against angels cf. 2Pe 2:10,11 Jude 1:9. Paul's anathema upon angels is contra Peter in 2Pe 2:10,11. Note: Ac 27:23,24 describes an angel in submission to Paul (compare the use of paristemi in vv. 23 and 24).
V. One Faith
For the Body of Christ, there is one and only One faith (= body of doctrine), namely, that content of belief which is expressed according to the uncircumcision/Pauline gospel. In Israel's kingdom, there are many faiths (= bodies of doctrine), i.e., doctrines distinctive in content for each elect nation, according to their respective belief systems by God's decree. The distinct ethnic Hopes, previously discussed (see previous posts), are inextricably interwoven with these distinct ethnic faiths. The elect of the Nation of Israel expressed their faith through the Mosaic rituals and ceremonies and by blessing the Gentile nations. The elect Gentile Nations expressed their respective faiths by serving Israel and coming to the Feast of Tabernacles annually. The Body of Christ is entirely non-ethnic and non-ceremonial by nature and practice.
A. The Kingdom and many faiths
1. Israel: faith in Christ as the Messiah of Israel Isa 2:3-561:1 Lu 1:67-79 2:17,38 Lu 4:18-21 Joh 1:36,37,45 4:25,28,29 Ac 10:3813:32,33 Heb 1:8 Note: Each of the following cites the same passages from the One Hope section (see introversion relationship between the One Hope and One Faith).
a. The national Land promise Is 19:23-25 Is 14:1-3 Is 60:1-6 Joel 3:1 Is 2:1-3 Ro 11:24-26 Zech 8:3-23 14:16-19 Gen 17:8 2Sam 7:16 Is 9:6-7 Jer 23:5,6 Ps 25:13 37:9-12 Ez 37:21-22 Ps 101:8 Ez 47:13-48:35 Dan 2:35,44 7:14 Heb 4:1-11 (cf. Ps 95:1-11)
b. Elect Israel's role in blessing, governing, and possessing the Elect gentile nations Ge 12:3 18:18 22:17, 18 26:4 Isa 14:1-3 60:1-6 Amos 9:9-12 Jer 23:5,6
c. Elect Israel will be a priestly nation, standing in behalf of the Gentile nations Ex. 19:5,6 1Pe 2:5,9
d. Elect Israel will be served by the gentile nations Is 14:1-3
e. The future role of the twelve apostles to govern upon twelve thrones, legates of Christ's throne Rev. 3:21 (cf. B.5 below)
f. Elect Jews will be "like" Christ (similar to, but not the image of, the Son) 1 Jn 3:1-3 (esp. v. 3).
g. Rewards: Mt 5:12,46 6:1 6:19-21 10:41,42 Mr 9:41 Lu 6:23,35 2Pe 2:13,15 2Jo 1:8 Re 11:18 22:12
2. Elect Gentile nations
a. The Gentiles are to fill the earth and dwell in their respective lands (earthly hope) Gen 1:28 9:1 Isa 19:23-25 14:1-3 Job 19:25-26 (Job was a Gentile)
b. The Elect Gentile nations will serve Israel Is 11:10 14:1-3
c. Elect Gentile nations worship God through service to Israel Isa 60:1-6 2:1-3
B. The Body and the One faith
1. The objective content of the One faith is precisely that body of doctrine that proclaims Christ as Head of the Body 1Co 11:3,4 Eph 1:22 4:15 5:23 Col 1:18 2:10,19 Ro 10:8 2Ti 4:7 Eph 4:13 (*this* faith, referring back to Eph 4:5) Eph 6:16 (shield of *this* faith) 1Ti 3:9 6:20 2Ti 1:12-14 4:7
2. The Body will sit with Christ above all principality, power, etc. Eph 1:3, 20-23 Php 3:20ff
3. The Body will occupy the third heaven (cf 2Chr 6:18) Eph 1:18 2 Co 12:1ff Eph 1:3 2:6
4. The Body will be jointly-seated with Christ on the Father's throne (only ONE throne in the third heaven) Eph 1:20-23 2:6 cf. Rev 5:6 7:17; contrast to Rev 3:21
5. The saints of the Body of Christ will be transformed into the very image of the Son. Php 3:21
6. Rewards: 2Ti 4:7,8 Php 3:12-14 1Co 9:24,25 Col 2:18, Ro 4:4 1Co 3:8,14 9:17
7. Content of this One faith was held in silence, not revealed in the writings of or to the prophets themselves #Ro 16:25,26 (note, v. 26 refers to contemporary prophets of the Body dispensation. "But NOW revealed" see Eph 3:5) Eph 3:5-9 Col 1:26 1Co 15:51|
8. The One faith was revealed exclusively directly to Paul Ac 9:4,5 Gal 1:11,12 Eph 1:9 2Co 12:1-4
Thus, the "One faith" specifically in the context of the unity of the Body of Christ (Eph 4:3) stands in glaring contrast to the many faiths of Israel's kingdom, namely, the specific doctrines with respect to elect Israel and the elect of the Nations. The simplistic assumption that Paul is re-affirming a monolithic gospel by saying there is but "one faith" makes no sense in the context of biblical history. The attempts to artificially amalgate the One Faith of the Body of Christ and the many faiths of Israel's kingdom results in confusion and irrationality, rendering the scriptures unintelligible and incoherent.
VI. One Baptism: The Shunning of Ceremonies
For the Body of Christ, there is one and only one baptism, namely, that of the Spirit without water. For Israel, there were many baptisms, i.e., ceremonial washings. The significance of baptism may be described as an event intended to experientially identify two things in some respect or that which ceremonially celebrates that identification, namely the water rite.
A. Kingdom of Israel: Many baptisms
Heb 6:2 Note: "nipto" (washings) and "baptizo" used synonymously in Mr 7:3,4
1. Baptism of Israel in to Moses
1Co 10:2 (Note: not a "wet" baptism)
2. Many, diverse baptisms
3. Non-hygienic ceremonial baptisms:
a. Identification into the priesthood
Ex 30:17ff 40:12 Lev 8:6
b. Continual hand/foot baptisms of priests
Ex 30:18-21 40:30-32
c. Day of atonement baptisms
Lev. 16:4, 24, 26, 29
d. Baptisms of dwellings
e. Dietary baptisms
Lev 11:23-28 17:23-28 22:6
4. Rabbinical baptisms (not biblically sanctioned)
a. Before meals
b. Utensil, table baptisms
5. Messianic baptism
Mt 3:13-16 20:22,23 28:19,20
6. Millennial baptisms:
a. Divinely clean water of the millennial kingdom
b. Mosaic ceremonies are fulfilled in practice unless otherwise stated by prophets
Eze 40-46 47:1-12. According to Col 2:11-17, the Mosaic ceremonies are a shadow of the Millennial ceremonies.
7. Inner baptism: regeneration
Ps 51:1,2,6,7,10 19:12 73:13 119:9,25 (Equivalent to the "inner circumcision" De 30:6 Eze 36:26-27 11:19 44:7,9 Jer 32:39 9:2
8. Charismatic baptisms
Supernatural empowerments, physical and intellectual, administered via the many spirits, i.e., angels. Joel 2:28-32 Nu 24:7
B. The Body of Christ and the One baptism
1. The One Baptism: There is only one baptism for the Body of Christ, viz., the inner baptism. The inner baptism applies to all of God's elect, regardless of household. However, note that the only baptism of Israel's kingdom that is not intrinsically Jewish is the inner baptism (regeneration, circumcision of the heart).
2. Water-less baptism: Ro 6:1-11 ("joined together", not "planted together") 1Co 12:13 Gal 3:27 Col 2:11,12 Tit 3:5 1Co 1:17
3. Paul honored elect Israel: Paul had a dual ministry, both to the Body of Christ, and to the kingdom of Israel. This is why Paul viewed himself as being born prematurely (1Co 15:8). He baptized certain Kingdom saints (i.e., not Body saints) according to 1Co 1. Paul also offered sacrifices in the temple (Ac 21), had Timothy, a Body saint, circumcised (Ac 16:3), kept Mosaic vows (Ac 18:18), and observed the Jewish feasts (Ac 20:16 19:21). While there were still Kingdom saints around, Paul honored the Hope of Israel and exhorted Body saints to do the same and follow his example, lest they cause the weaker brother (i.e., elect Isrealites) to stumble (Ro 14).
VII. One truly Fatherly God
The Body of Christ has a uniquely direct relationship with the One truly Fatherly God (this phrasing is derived from the hendiadystic structure of the text. See Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, E.W. Bullinger, s.v. Hendiadys). Israel viewed the Father in a distinctive sense, but no less significantly, as their "Father which is in heaven", and had a mediated relationship with Him via the agency of the gods, i.e., angels.
A. Kingdom of Israel and many gods 1Co 8:5
1. Congregation of the gods
Ps 8:5 (Hebrew text: "a little lower than the gods") Ps 82:1,6 (congregation of the gods = Dan 7:9,10)
2. Sons of the most High are called gods
Job 1:6 2:1 38:7 Dan 3:25, 28 Ps 86:8 89:6
3. Angels are princes in charge of human rulers
Dan 10:13,20,21 12:1 Is 14:9-23 Exe 28:1-19 Ps 8:5
4. Fallen gods of the nations (non-elect angels)
Ps 96:4,5 97:7
B. The Body of Christ and the One truly Fatherly God.
1. The Body of Christ has a unique and intimate relationship to the Body of Christ not found in Israel's scriptures
a. God as Father intimate to the Body of Christ:
Abba Father (Gal 4:6 Ro 8:15)
b. God as "Father in heaven" to Israel:
"our Father which art in heaven" (Mt 6:19) is necessarily more distant with respect to Israel as compared with the Body of Christ. This is due two irreconcilable distinctions:
- The Body of Christ is co-seated on the Father's heavenly throne (Eph 1:20 2:6 cf. Rev 3:21 Mt 19:28 Elect Jews sit on Christ's earthly throne)
- There is a great gulf that exists between the earthly man and his heavenly Creator. Needing the angels to mediate, carry their prayers to God (Ro 15:6 1Co 8:6 2Co 1:2,3 6:18 Ga 4:6 Eph 1:2,3,17 2:18 Col 2:2 1Th 3:13 2Th 2:16)
2. Body of Christ is not under the angelic gods
Gal 4:8,9 (cf. Ps 82:6 Jn 10:34-36 1Co 8:5)
3. The Father works directly with the adopted sons of the Body of Christ Eph 1:4,5 1Co 12:4-6 (Same Spirit, same Lord, same God working directly in members of the Body).
4. The Body of Christ is the Father's personal inheritance of all His elect
Eph 1:11,18 2:7 1Co 8:5 ("we for Him") Eph 4:6
5. The Body of Christ is co-seated with Christ above the gods
Eph 1:20, 21 2:6
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