For some month we will probably study Paul's
epistles. Let us take a general view of them from different
The ecclesia, or church is called by different
names. In First Corinthians 1:2 it is called the ecclesia of God;
and in 12:13 it is referred to as one body. This refutes the modern
idea held by some, that the church of God is one thing, and "the
church of the one body" is different. In Ephesians 4:4, one
body is mentioned as in the unity of the spirit. Well, the one
body was a fact when Corinthians was written. It is not a new
"something" created for the Ephesian ecclesia, and not for
those ecclesias to which Paul's earlier epistles were directed.
The one body is the ecclesia of God.
In First Thessalonians 1:1, we find "the
ecclesia of the Thessalonians in God, The Father, and the Lord Jesus
Christ." This does not mean it is NOT the ecclesia of
God. Neither does it give anyone the right to argue that the Thessalonians
were not in the one body. If it is IN God, it is also OF
God. The same words are used in verse 1 of Second
The saints in Rome are referred to as "the
called of Jesus Christ," Romans 1:6. It is being said by some
that the called and the out-called are not the same. Are we
to believe, then, that the saints of Rome were not part of the
out-called, the ecclesia? Are they distinct from the saints in
Ephesus? Those addressed in "Ephesians" are said to be
"holy and flawless in God's sight," 1:4. How can
God see them so? What is the process called? If those who receive
"Ephesians" had not also received the teachings in the Roman
epistle, they were bewildered, not enlightened, by what Paul
wrote. How could anyone, knowing what it is to be a sinner, be
satisfied with the statement that we are holy and flawless, when our
experience is different, unless there is some explanation? And the
matter is NOT explained in Ephesians. The answer is found in
Romans, where Paul fully teaches the doctrine of justification.
Ephesians does not tell us HOW we are saved. It tells us what our
PLACE is, in Christ, (first three chapters.) How we are saved is
found in previous epistles.
"Ephesus" is not in the text. It is
in the margin of the best manuscript. It was evidently a general
epistle, copies of which were sent to various churches, Ephesus among
the others. It was evidently written during the last two years of
the Acts period, Acts 28:31, but was intended to apply only after the
Jewish "Church" had disappeared from the face of the
earth. The first verse "dates" it, like a newspaper,
which was compiled and printed yesterday, but is dated for today.
The date of the application of Ephesians is found in these words: "to
all the saints who are, and believe in Christ Jesus."
During the period when Ephesians is to be used, there
are no saints on earth, except those addressed in this epistle. This
includes ALL who believe in Christ Jesus. If, as is being claimed
by some, there is another church besides the one destined to God's
"high calling," then it is composed of people who are NOT
saints, and NOT believers in Christ Jesus.
The truth is, Paul wrote a general epistle and sent
copies of it to ecclesias that had received his earlier ministryto
Corinth, to Rome, to Laodicea, etc., no less than to Ephesus. They
had already heard the evangel of their salvation, 1:13, had already
believed, and had already been sealed, 1:14. It was not written to
a new "church" that is unknown in his earlier epistles.
In 1:23 he says the ecclesia is the body of Christ, in accordance with
what he had already written to the Corinthians, saying, "now YOU
are the body of Christ," First Corinthians 12:27.
In Rome was a group of saints whom Paul refers to as
"the ecclesia of their house," Romans 16:5, (that is, the
house of Prisca and Aquilla.) It seems likely that there were
other groups in the city, called ecclesias. In that same passage
Paul mentions "all the ecclesias of the nations." Then
in verse 16 he says, "All the ecclesias of Christ are greeting
you." Thus we see that the church is the ecclesias OF God; In
God, the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; of Christ; of the nations,
etc. It is the one body, whether it exists in Corinth or Ephesus,
and whether it is found in the pre-prison epistles or in those written after
Paul became a prisoner.
Much is made of the "out-resurrection,"
mentioned in Philippians 3:11, as if the "out-resurrection" is
a blessing bestowed only on the church that is destined to the
super-heavens. In truth, the out-resurrection from among the dead
is not even peculiar to the saints of the body of Christ. Everyone who
experiences a resurrection when others are left in death, has an
out-resurrection. This will be true of Israel, as well as of
And as for the "high calling," the
scripture uses no such phrase. It is "up-calling,"
Philippians 3:14; It is used in contrast to the resurrection of Israel,
who will be called to serve on earth, while we shall be called to
And the super-heavens is only a figment of the
imagination. The scripture says THE ALL consists of the heavens
and the earth, Genesis 1:1; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:16, 20.
The Concordant Version renders the all "universe," in these
passages. This is correct. But even if the reader is a
stickler for the King James rendering," all things," he is bound to
reach the same conclusion. "All things" are in the
heavens and on the earth. There is no other "sphere" or
Christ did not ascend to a place outside the heavens,
Ephesians 4:10. The words, "far above all heavens," in
the King James Version, is not true to the originals. The
Concordant Version renders it "up over all the heavens."
It was found that this did not correctly express Paul's thought.
So the Revised Version, which will soon be on the market, has it,
"up over all who are of the heavens." That is correct.
Those who are of the heavens, are celestial creatures. Christ is
above them, not in the sense that He is outside the sphere where they
are, but in the sense that He is ruler over them. Rule is under
consideration, for making provision for the sovereignty of the heavens
was all that was lacking in completing the universe. It had already
been declared that Israel will rule on earth. Now, that He is over
the celestials, in point of sovereignty, as will as among them, Ephesians
1:3, as regards location, provision is made for His body to be
associated with Him in sovereignty there. Thes completes the
universe. And this is the body that is mentioned in Ephesians and
The fact that Christ is not mentioned in Corinthians
as being the Head of the body, is accounted for by the fact that Paul
was not discussing this phase of the subject. He was telling of
the dependence of each member on the others. First Corinthians
12. In Colossians, where he says Christ is the Head of the body,
he is showing the dependence of the body on Christ, Colossians
2:19. Let us not commit the blunder of thinking of the church in
Corinth as a headless body. Of course, it was, and not only so, but a
body composed of no saints, and no believers, if it is not the same body
mentioned in Ephesians. But it IS the same body.
Let the reader test this editorial by the scripturesnot
by the uninspired writings of some other editor or writer. I
insist on this test, if one is to be made. And I beg that it be