By Harry Bultema
The word EKKLESIA, here translated CHURCH, is found one hundred and eighteen times in the New Testament and in the Septuagint it is often found to describe the assembly of Israel. In Acts 7:38 Stephen uses it for the hosts of Israel, which had been led out of Egypt. The name EKKLESIA comes from the verb EKKALEO “I call out of”. The noun means, therefore, a group of called out ones. The turbulent mob of Acts 19: 32-39 is also called an EKKLESIA, because it was a gathering out of the citizens of Ephesus. This word then, does not define the very essence of the Church for this age. It is too broad, since it includes Israel and the Gentiles. The definition put above this article, and found in Ephesians 1: 23, presupposes that there is an EKKLESIA which is not His Body. In the word SOMA, body, we have the essence of the Church for this age.
The crucified, raised, and glorified Lord was given to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body. Before this the (Body) Church could not be in existence. In the term HEAD, we have not a figure or a simile, but a living, bright reality. He is not the King of this Body, but the HEAD. Kingship is always connected with Israel. He was presented, proclaimed, and professed as King of Israel and in His PAROUSIA He shall restore the Kingdom to Israel. The head is organically joined to the body and there is the most intimate union and communion, representation and even identification. The head is above all the members and this is true of our glorious Head in heaven. As the head is the seat of the senses, so Christ is the seat of all our spiritual senses, and as the head of the body is the common property of all the individual members, so all the members of the Church own Him as their Head. The Orient folks carry everything on their heads. The baker had three baskets on his head, Genesis 40: 16. Our Head bore our guilt and filth away on the cross, as our sin-bearer, and since then He is our burden bearer. Suffering saints, put your burdens on your Head and leave them there! The Head of the High Priest received the anointing with the oil and in the Baptism of the Spirit and our Head has transmitted that to us. Again, the Head rules in love the body, and this is true of our Lord and Saviour. He loved and loosed us from our sins, and since then He sways us, not with an iron or golden scepter, not with law, but with love. Not merely judicially or potentially, but really the Head and the Body are one, because we have been crucified, buried, baptized, quickened, raised and made to sit together with Him in super-celestial places. As soon as a soul is united to Christ by faith, all His past and present work is imputed to that soul. He shares at once the present blessings of his representative in glory as ACCEPTANCE with God, ACCESS to God, ADVOCACY, and for the future the ADVENT with Him in glory, Colossians 3: 4.
According to Colossians 2: 19, our Head renders to His Body the threefold service of nourishment, unity and growth.
We have now briefly seen what the Head does for the Body, relative to the past, present and future. We now ask what the Body should do for the Head, in other words, what is the calling and business of the Church? The Epistle to the Ephesians gives us the answer to this question. The calling of the Body, as a whole, and of every member individually, is first of all that we should be living TO THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY. Three times this phrase is repeated, Ephesians 1: 6, 12, 14. The body should reflect, manifest and serve the Head. The feet carry whither the head directs, the hands toil, the eyes see, the nose smells and the tongue speaks, all as the head directs, and thus it is with Christ and His Body. The Body should do His will and run His errands in the world. In the second place we find, in Ephesians 2: 7 that God wants to make of the Church a great display, a great fair and exhibition, in the ages to come. In that celestial show He will show forth the EXCEEDING RICHES OF HIS GRACE IN HIS KINDNESS TOWARD US IN CHRIST JESUS … The word EXCEEDING is HYPERBOLE. This word is used seven times by Paul only. It means literally, something tossed beyond the mark, and in this case it means that His grace transcended all normal limits and boundaries and is unmeasurable, unrestricted, incalculable, inimitable, and incomparable. Chicago prepared years for her show, but God has already been preparing for nearly two millenniums to make this show a wonderment for earth and heaven and hell. This text shows then that our real mission still lives in the future. The third calling of the Body is expressed in Ephesians 3: 10 “To the intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God.
The Body is not served by the angels but serves the angels, whether good or evil, with the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 4: 16) gives us another business of the body. It has to edify itself in love. This task of the body is most forgotten and neglected. All talk of Pauline truth shall be worse than worthless, if it is not accompanied with Pauline love.
Finally, the members of the Body have to be bold warriors, armed with the whole armor of God. We are not called to fight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6: 12). Let us not forget, it is a mark of good Generalship to know the character of the enemy.
The perfect identification of our glorious Head and His Body form the mystery which has been hid in God from all ages and generations. Not one of the ancient worthies could know it as God had not revealed it. Even during the generation of the Gospel period, no one knew it, and also during the generation of the Acts, no one could know it, except Paul, for to him it has been revealed. The mystery was not a new development of some known thing, but something altogether new and distinct.
- Here is a new PERSON to present this truth, Paul, the prisoner of the Lord, “less than the least of all saints.” Here is a new PEOPLE, a heavenly body, one with the Head.
- Here is a new prearrangement: chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. Concerning Israel it is FROM; concerning the mystery body the choice is BEFORE the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 4).
- Here is a new panegyric and praise, for no one had ever praised God for having been blessed with all spiritual blessings.
- Here is a new possession, since Israel had had many blessings, but never all the Spirit-blessings in Christ as here.
- Here is a new place; for no Jew or Gentile had been set in the epourama, or super-celestial places.
- Here is a new period; the dispensation of the grace of God, Ephesians 2: 9.
- Here is a new power; the exceeding greatness of His power. Ephesians 1:19.
- Here is a new position; In Him is the precious monogram of Paul, used in one form, or another, thirty times in Ephesians.
- Here is a new purpose to re-head all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10).
- Here is a new prayer life; read only the prison prayers of Paul.
- Here is a new parity; perfect equality of the Head and the Body.
- Here is a new partnership; a sharing of all His coming glories.
- Here is a new Pleroma or filling up of the mystical Christ.
- Here is a new pattern; not the one shown to Moses, but the one shown to Paul, the exalted Lord of Glory.
- Here is a new peculiar people (Titus 2: 14).
- Here is a new peace; for He Himself is our peace (Eph. 2: 14).
- Here is a new poem; for we are His poem (Titus 2: 10).
- Here is a new principality; mentioned as our foe (Titus 6: 10-18).
- Here is a new perfection, for we are complete in Him (Col. 2: 10).
- Here is a new piety; away from all legalism and formalism.
- Here is a new plenitude; Filled with all the fullness of God (Col. 3: 19).
- Here is a new prisoner; such as the world has never seen before.
- Here is a new perseverance; for in Him we are safe and secure.
- Here is a new prediction; that we shall appear with Him in glory (Col. 3: 4).
- Here is a new plea for spirituality: be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5: 18).
- Here is a new prize held out: the out resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3: 14).
- Here is a new prevailing in prayer (Eph. 3: 20).
- Here is a new perfecting of the saints (Eph. 4: 11-12.
- Here is a new perfect man. (Eph. 4: 13).
- Here is a new practicable seven-fold unity with a petition to keep (Eph. 4: 3-6.)
- Here is a new predestination (Eph. 1: 5).
- Here is a new panoply against the invisible plotters (Eph. 6: 11).
- Here is a new persecution for all Fundamentalists in Asia. Galatia and Rome left Paul when he presented this mystery.