Additional notes on the subject from different writings of Dr. E. W. Bullinger.


From his Editorial “God’s Building”, Things to Come, 11(8):86-88, 1905.


…The Apostolic Commission in 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:17-3:2 and in 1 Cor. 3:9-4:16) is led up to, by the “Divisions” in the “Church of God which is at Corinth” (see structure below).


a(1:10-4:16). Ministerial Reproof and Teaching.


a/e/ 1:10-12. “Divisions.” (Paul, Apollos and Cephas).

       f/ 1:13. Questions.

          g/ 1:14-16. Answer.

              h/ 1:17 - 3:2. Apostolic Commission.

   e/ 3:3,4. “Divisions.” (Paul, Apollos and Cephas).     

      f/ 3:5. Questions.

         g/ 3:6-8. Answers.

             h/ 3:9 - 4:16. Apostolic Commission.


These carnal Divisions destroyed the truth of the One Body. The carnal and corporate unity of these bodies destroyed the spiritual unity of the One Body. This is the evil which is dealt with, and which constitutes the whole subject of this member. All that is said and taught in it has reference to this; and nothing else must be introduced into it, or be allowed to divert the words to any other subject.


Immediately after the reference to the Mystery at the end of Romans comes this Reproof, at the beginning of Corinthians, of the Divisions in Corinth which destroyed its fundamental truth.


This appears to have been the very earliest evil introduced into the Church of God; preceding even the introduction of other doctrinal error (compare 2 Tim. 1:15 carefully with Acts 19:10). The first sin was the making and setting up of separate corporate bodies; thus destroying and losing the truth of the ONE Spiritual Body of Christ.


These “Divisions” were connected with baptism, as is clear from ch. 1:11 and ss. That is why Paul thanked God that he had baptized only two or three of them. Every one of them belonged to some separate sect, and spoke of themselves as being “of Paul,” or “of Apollos,” or “of Cephas,” or “of Christ.” Even the latter was wrong, for it was knowing Christ “after the flesh.” We are not “of Christ” as one among other Men, or as a Teacher; but we are “IN Christ” as risen from the dead, and made the Head over all for His Spiritual Body, the Church (Eph. 1:20-23).


It was to meet these carnal Divisions that Paul asserted and exercised his Apostolic Commission: Reproving and Teaching concerning these very things (ch. 1:17-3:2).


If we “open the book,” and read for ourselves from 1:17, we shall see at once how he sets forth his Commission.


Five times he speaks of the fact of his preaching and speaking; and each time, in order to emphasize it and to explain it, something negative is put by way of contrast, relating either to the manner, to the subject, or to the effect of his preaching.


h (ch. 1:17 – 3:2). Paul’s Apostolic Commission.


h/         i1/ 1:17-. To preach the Gospel.

            k1/ 1:-17-22. Not with the wisdom of words (v. -17) of the wise (v. 19), or

                                  of this age (v. 20).

i2/ 1:23,24. We preach Christ, “the power” and “wisdom” of God.

            k2/ 1:25-31. Not many great ones called to do this.

i3/ 2:1-. Paul’s preaching in Corinth.

            k3/ 2:-1,2. Not the Mystery: i.e., not Christ risen, and made the Head of

                              the Body; but limited to Christ “crucified.”

i4/ 2:3. Paul’s preaching, in human weakness, but spiritual power.

            k4/ 2:4,5. Not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

i5/ 2:6-16. Paul’s preaching the Wisdom of God, even the Mystery.

            k5/ 3:1,2. Not revealed to them, because they were carnal.


[In our human chapter divisions, this last member (k5/ 3:1,2), which is the fifth and concluding negative contrast, is unfortunately torn from its place and made the commencement of a new chapter (ch. 3.)]


This brings us back to the “Divisions” again, (ch.3:3,4), which marked these Corinthian saints as being “carnal” or “fleshly” in their actions and aims, because they were working for a corporate unity in different bodies. They are thus shown to be not to have been in a fit spiritual condition to have the truth as to the One Spiritual Body revealed to them.


That is why Paul tells them, in writing this Epistle (ch. 2:1), that, when he came to them before, he could not declare to them the “Mystery” (this is the correct reading in ch. 2:1, “musterion,” mystery or secret; not “marturion,” testimony. All the Critical Greek Texts agree in this. See the R.V. texts, and note below.) with the excellency of word or wisdom (of which he had spoken in ch. 1.).


They were so carnally minded that he says, “I decided to know nothing among YOU, except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (ch. 2:2). He could not go on to declare to them all the precious truth involved in Jesus Christ and Him risen, and exalted, and glorified, and made the Head of the One Body (as in Eph. 1:20-23).


But now, when he writes this Epistle to them, he enlarges on the Mystery which he was silent about when with them. It is in the member “i5,” ch. 2:6-16, that he does this. We must, therefore, look more closely into it in order to learn more about it ourselves, and give an expansion of those ten verses.


i5 (ch. 2:6-16). Paul’s declaration of “wisdom” or “the Mystery”, to the initiated*.


i5/ 1/6-. Speaking.

       m/s/ -6. Not the wisdom of this age. (Neg.)

             t/ 7. But the wisdom of God. (Pos.)

                 n/u/ 8-. The Princes of this age. Ignorance.

                        v/ -8,9. Reason. Insensibility.

                            o/p/ 10. Spiritual Revelation.

                                  q/ 11-. Spirit of a man. Question.

                                     r/ -11,12. Spirit of God.

    l/13-. Speaking.

       m/s/ -13-. Not man’s wisdom. (Neg.)

              t/ -13. But the wisdom of holy spirit. (Pos.)

                 n/u/ 14-. The Natural Man. Incapacity.

                        v/ -14. Reason. Insensibility.

                            o/p/ 15. Spiritual Judgment.

                                  q/ 16-. Mind of the Lord. Question.

                                     r/ -16. Mind of Christ.


Here we have a wonderful and special revelation about the Mystery.


*“Initiated,” this is the force of the word teleioi, perfect, here (v. 6). In heathen literature “teleioi” was thus used of those who, learning the secrets of The Greek Pagan Religion, had reached the last or highest order or degree.


This “Wisdom” or “Mystery” dates from “BEFORE the World unto our glory” (v. 7). This proves that it is the Church, the One Spiritual Body of Christ, which is the subject. This we may see by comparing John 17:24, Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 1:10, where it is “BEFORE the foundation of the World.” 


All that relates to the Kingdom is “FROM the foundation of the World” [an expression which occurs seven times and always relates to the Kingdom and the Earth (Matt. 13:35, 25:34; Luke 11:50; Heb. 4:3, 9:26; Rev. 13:8, 17:8).]


All that relates to the Mystery, whether to Christ the Head of the Body, or to His People, the members of it, on earth, is “BEFORE the World.”


The natural man knows nothing of this. He may be able to speak about the churches; he can sing about the death of Christ; but he knows nothing about “the POWER of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).


Natural men can make Parties, and Sects, and divisions, and call them, like their lands, “after their own names.”


They can cut off and cast out those who refuse to acknowledge their particular body apart from the One Body.


But such men are incapacitated thereby from receiving the spiritual things relating to the One Body: for these can be revealed only to spiritual men and can be discerned only by them (ch. 2:13,14; 3:1,2) [the Greek is not comparing with, but declaring to: “declaring spiritual things to spiritual persons.” The verb sungkrino is used for the Hebrew parash in Num. 15:34, where it is rendered declared, and Neh. 8:8, distinctly.]


After again referring (ch. 3:3-8) to the great evil of these “Divisions” and corporate unities, the Apostle once more refers to the subject of his Apostolic Commission in ch. 3:9-4:16.


h (ch. 3:9-4:16). Paul’s Apostolic Commission.


h/ Y/ 3:9-17. Illustrations. Husbandry and Building.

     Z/ 3:18-4:16. Application.


If we expand the Illustration (Y) we need not give the expansion of the Application (Z): for the latter consists of series of Injunctions and Warnings. The Injunctions are:


3:18. Let no man deceive you.

3:21. Let no man glory in men.

4:1.   Let a man so account of us.

4:5.   Let no man judge.

4:6.   Let no one be puffed up.


The Illustration is the important point, and its Structure must be given:


The Illustration.


Y/ w/ 9-. The fellow-labourers.

         x/-9. God the builder.

     w/ 10-15. Paul and the labourers.

         x/ 16,17. God’s building.


Here we have the distinction between the human and the Divine: between what is of man, and what is of God.


The planting and watering are human and are nothing in themselves. It is God that giveth the increase.


So, the fellow-labourers in the building are nothing. It is God that buildeth. It is God’s building. It is God that “maketh increase of the Body” (Eph. 4:16). It is this One Body which “increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2:19).


Christ is the “foundation” (1 Cor. 3:10) and “the chief corner-stone” (Eph. 2:20). Paul and the New Testament Apostles and Prophets made known the great Mystery. But it is “in Christ” that the whole building is “fitly framed together” (in Eph. 2:20 it is the same word as in Eph. 4:16, where it is used of the One spiritual Body, and is rendered “fitly joined together.”) and “groweth unto an holy temple in (or by) the Lord.” It is in this Body that Paul and Apollos and all the saints of God are “builded together for an habitation of God through (or by) the spirit” (Eph. 2:22).


It is this “building of God” which is the subject of this illustration. It is this “building” which is the temple or naos, the holy place, that part of the Temple where the Divine presence was manifested. If anyone builds on that foundation any other building he spoils and does away with the one building, so far as he is concerned; and God will spoil and do away with his work (ch. 3:17). It is not the personal Pronoun autos, he (“him”), but it is the demonstrative Pronoun houtos, this. Not necessarily this man or this builder, but this work which he builds. The man himself is to be “saved” (v. 15) and brought through the fire which destroys his work: so how can he be destroyed and yet saved! It is the same verb translated “defile” in the former part of the verse, and “destroy” in the latter part. And the order of the words in the Greek is very marked so as to put all the emphasis on the destruction, and not on the man. “If anyone the temple of God destroy, destroy this [temple] will God.” That is to say, if anyone builds up anything else, any other temple or body, upon this foundation, he destroys or does away with God’s building, and God will destroy or do away with this temple, or work, by consuming it with fire. But the man himself, the builder, shall not be destroyed with his work; “he himself shall be saved” and brought through that fire.


The Illustration, here, of the Church of God, is not a Body (as in ch. 12); but a Building (Naos), as in Eph. 2:20-22, where the saints are represented as being “built upon the foundation of the (i.e., laid by the) Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. In whom the whole building fitly framed together (or joined as in Eph. 4:16) groweth or maketh increase (as in Cor. 3:3), unto an holy Shrine (Naos), in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit.”


This is the Temple or Shrine referred to in 1 Cor. 3:16,17. It is “the unity of the spirit” (Eph. 4:3) which God has already MADE (and is making) in Christ, and which He tells us we are to endeavour to KEEP.” This is God’s own spiritual Building.


Now if any man erects any other building on God’s foundation, Christ, he destroys God’s building (so far as the builder is concerned – not in reality of course: but so far as his work is concerned it is a destructive work, and not a constructive work). No matter how imposing, or grand, or how humble such work may be: No matter what the materials may be used – “gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble” – the one holy building is vitiated. The One building is a spiritual building, and God is its builder. Material things can have no place in it. Other buildings may have material gold and costly stones, as Babylon and all her daughters have (Rev. 17, 18); but they vitiate “God’s Building” by the setting up of other buildings instead of the One holy Temple of God.


By the use of the word “buildings” we do not, of course, mean the architectural structures, but the ecclesiastical or corporate “divisions.” These are what are meant; the world “buildings” is only used by way of illustration.


It is not doctrines which are in question here, but actions: though doctrines are necessarily included, in so far as they are the causes of any of the “divisions.” It is the substitution of the Material for the Real; the Carnal for the Spiritual. It is the erection of man’s building and the ignoring of “God’s Building.” It is labouring for other corporate bodies instead of for the One Spiritual Body.


It is the action of the builders which is condemned. They may build on Christ the one foundation, but “if ANY man build upon this foundation” – no matter what it is (gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble) – it is man’s building and not God’s.


The expression “if any man,” is not emphatic. There is no separate word for “man” in the Greek, it is merely tis (in Greek), anyone, anybody. It included Paul himself, as well as Apollos and Cephas, and all others. There is no exception. It includes all who, from that moment to this, are labouring to build up anything material, or corporate, however beautiful and imposing, or however common and humble it may be.


Two things are stated with regard to all such visible human “Divisions”: (1) They mar the truth of the One Body, and thus “defile” or vitiate this “temple of God” (v. 17; Eph. 2:20-22). And (2) They will all be burnt up.


It is worthy to notice that, in connection with these “divisions,” the same names are three times repeated – “of Paul,” “of Apollos,” “of Cephas” (see ch. 1:10-12, 3:3,4, and 3:22). Hence it is that the solemn exhortation goes forth, “let no man glory in men” (v. 21). Why? “For all things are yours. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas… all are yours.” Ye are not theirs. Ye do not belong to them and their bodies; they all belong to you, and you belong to Christ – to the One Spiritual Body. Ye are “God’s Building,” for “Christ pertains to God” (ch. 3:21-23).


The Church of God does not consist of an aggregate of corporate assemblies, but of individuals, called “living stones.” These assemblies may be called “churches,” but none of them, separately, not all of them together form “the Church of God,” or “the Body of Christ,” or “the Temple (or Shrine) of God.”


The word “of” in this connection implies corporate union, and if it is wrong and is condemned in connection with the names “of Paul,” “of Apollos,” or “of Cephas (which is Peter),” then it is to be equally condemned in the case of countries or cities, or individuals, whether Luther or Calvin, or Wesley or Huntingdon, etc., etc. All these are “divisions,” and they are destructive of the spiritual unity of Eph. 4:3, breaking it up instead of keeping, guarding and preserving it. Not only are they destructive of the only real unity, but they are the one great source of “strifes” and “envyings” (1 Cor. 3:3); whereas the keeping of “the unity of the spirit is the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). But requires (v. 2):


“all lowliness (comp. Phil. 2:3),

and meekness,

with long-suffering,

forbearing one another in love.”


This is “the work of the ministry” (v. 12). This is why Apostles and Prophets, and Evangelists and Pastors, and Teachers are given by the Head of the Body. Not to form their own separate “divisions,” but for “the perfecting of the saints, for the building up of the Body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love may grow up into HIM in all things, who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole Body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the Body to the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).


Yes! Love is the outcome of spiritual unity; while strife is the outcome of attempted corporate unity. In 1 Cor. 12, which is full of this spiritual unity, we have the same gifts of ministry (vv. 27-31), and the result is the same, viz., the love which is the grand outcome of it all in that wondrous thirteenth chapter which follows. This indeed is the “more excellent way.” This is work which will “abide” (1 Cor. 3:14), for it is this love which will “abide” when faith shall be exchanged for sight, and hope shall be done in possession (ch. 13:13).


If any man’s work abide he shall receive a reward. The only work which will “abide” is that which ministereth to the “increase” of this One Body. It is the planting and watering. It is the declaring the truth of the Mystery, and watering it by the Word of God. It is the declaring of spiritual truths to spiritual persons (1 Cor. 2:13, 3:1). It is the feeding the members of this One Body not merely with “milk,” but with “meat” (3:2), and making themselves absolutely nothing. “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (ch. 3:7).


The knowledge which is to be imparted to the members of this One Body is stated in ch. 3:16. This knowledge these Corinthian builders of “Divisions” did not possess. Hence he asks them “Know ye not?” “Are ye not aware?”


This is the question we may ask ourselves, “Know ye not that ye (collectively) are the Temple of God?,” the one building of God – “God’s Building?” If we know not this, no wonder we go on with our own separate buildings with materials of varying value, not knowing that ALL will be burnt up, and that we shall have to make our escape out of the conflagration. As to these materials, it is perfectly gratuitous for anyone to assume or suggest that there is any difference between them in God’s sight; or that any of them will escape the fire, and not be burnt up. Not a word is said to this effect. They are all classed together. There is no “and” or “or,” but we are hurried on to the emphatic conclusion “each man’s work shall be made manifest.” Their number is six: the number which specially associates them with man, and man’s work. They are all alike wrong, and will all be burnt up, for none are indestructible.


Thus the Scripture of the whole passage furnishes us with its scope: “the Temple of God; which temple ye are,” “God’s Building.” Christ being its one foundation; and Paul being the chosen vessel to lay this foundation of the One Body by declaring the Mystery and thus revealing the great Secret. It is this that he speaks of as “MY Gospel” (Rom. 16:25). The Gospel “committed to ME” (1 Cor. 9:17). “The Gospel which I preach” (Gal. 2:2), “The Mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19).


In Rom. 2:16 Paul speaks of “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to MY Gospel.”


He could not declare this Gospel of the Mystery at Corinth, because of their carnal Divisions. And in 1 Cor. 1:10 – 4:16 he exercises his Apostolic Commission, and reproves them, and warns all Division-builders of the corruption they are working.


This defilement of the One Body, “God’s temple,” “God’s building,” leads up to and ends in the corruption of the whole earth and to the destruction which awaits all their works, and all the bodies which they have so carefully built up and “decked with gold and silver and precious stones” (Rev. 17:4). All will be in the great burning which will consume Babylon and her daughters; but the builders, so far as they are themselves built on the one foundation, though they shall indeed suffer loss, will themselves be saved and brought through the fire which will consume their works.


May the consideration of this Scripture lead us to a closer apprehension of its teaching; that we may value more highly the precious truth of the One Body, and may rejoice in the wondrous truth that we are indeed:





 From “The Use and Usage of pneuma in the New Testament”, Things to Come, 11(8):91, 1905.


2 Tim. 1:14.


“That good deposit (all the Critical Greek Texts (with R.V.) read parathēkēn, deposit) guard by pneuma hagion that dwelleth in us.” This deposit was the wondrous Secret or “Mystery” received by pneuma hagion (holy spirit, no article, no capitals), and specially committed in the first instance to the Apostle Paul. In 1 Tim. 1:11 he calls it “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God which I, even I, was entrusted with.”


In 2 Tim. 1:12 he declares his faith that God “is able to keep guard over my deposit (parathēkēn), mine because He has committed to me, with a view to that day.” There is nothing about “I have committed unto Him” in the Greek. The R.V. margin says, “that which he hath committed unto me. Greek, my deposit.”


Those who had heard Paul had turned away from him and his teaching, as he tells Timothy in verse 15, “All they which are in Asia turned away from me.” Those very persons, who for two whole years had heard more about it than any others (see Acts 19:10), had given it up. But he says in verse 12, “I know whom I have believed; and am persuaded that He is able to take care of that precious deposit that He hath committed unto me. And now, Timothy – do you, in your turn, guard it.” He thus solemnly exhorts him:


“O Timothy, guard the deposit (all the Critical Greek Texts read this precisely as they do in 2 Tim. 1:14, as noted above. And the R.V. puts in the margin “Greek, the deposit.”) committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some, professing, have erred concerning THE faith.”


Then again in 2 Tim. 1:14 (the verse we are considering) there is the same exhortation to guard this deposit, the revelation of the Mystery or Secret concerning “Christ and the church.”


These are the only three places where the noun parathēkē, deposit, occurs. (1 Tim. 6:20 and 2 Tim. 1:14, in the Critical Greek Texts; and 2 Tim. 1:12, according to these and the Received Text as well). The very confusion in the Greek Text over the passages which have to do with the Mystery is a sad proof of the fact that it was given up in the Apostle Paul’s own life-time (as is stated in 2 Tim. 1:15).


The revelation of the “Mystery” was by pneuma hagion, or “power from on high.” It was “the deposit” entrusted to Paul, and by him to Timothy and others, who were solemnly charged to guard it with all care.



From his Editorial “The New Theology and the Mystery”, Things to Come, 2(8):141, 1896.


Under the heading, The New Theology, The Daily Chronicle, reviews Dr. Horton’s new book, which is entitled The Teaching of Jesus.


It is indeed “New,” but it is the inevitable outcome of ignorance concerning “the Mystery” – God’s secret purpose concerning the Church. Not knowing this blessed Secret, Dr. Horton, with all the modern Preachers, goes to the Gospels for Church-Teaching, instead of to the Epistles, which are specially given to convey this Truth to the Church.


“St. Paul (he says) does not allude to Christ’s teaching except in the most casual way.” Of course he doesn’t because that was Kingdom-Truth and not Church-Teaching.


“Unfortunately (he adds), the Church, to which Theology has sometimes been dearer than religion, has paid more attention to Paul than to Jesus.” Without noticing the dishonour to God, the inspirer of all the Words of Scripture, we are impressed with the witness which is borne to a fact which is stated but not understood.


Dr. Horton’s Creed as drawn from the Gospels, is “They who humbly strive to live the Christ-life – who respond to the command ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments,’ these are the elect.” This is the creed which will re-unite Romanists, Theosophists, and indeed all Arminians; but it is not the Church-Creed as taught in the Epistles! Dr. Horton bears witness to this. He says: “In the Church the stress is laid on things which have no place in the teaching of Jesus at all… With Him the whole stress is laid on such matters as being reconciled with your brother before you draw nigh to worship,” etc.


Those who receive our articles on the “Mystery,” will have the key to all this false teaching, and will see in it that which proves the truth specially spoken of this Mystery that “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).



From the Editorial “The Foundations of Dispensational Truth”, Things to Come, 19(10):109-112, 1913.


The Three Spheres of Future Glory.


There is still something more to learn concerning the dispensations before we can rightly understand the unique position and wonderful teaching of the later Pauline Epistles written from the prison in Rome.


These dispensations are commonly spoken of as two, the Old and the New (Testament), but we must bring them, as all else, to the bar of the written Word to see whether we have learned from man or from God, from tradition or from revelation.


To some extent we shall all agree.


1) We shall all be agreed that the great subject of the Old Testament prophecies is a restored Israel and a regenerated earth (Matt. 19:28). It is surely unnecessary to quote the many prophecies which tell of the time when the earth shall be full of the knowledge and glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:9; Isa. 6:3. 11:9; Hab. 2:14).


We are at one with all our readers in taking these prophecies in their literal meaning; and in not attempting to explain them, or rather fritter them away by any spiritualizing interpretation which deprives them of all their truth and power.


We all look forward also to the time when “He that scattered Israel will gather him” (Jer. 31:10); when they “shall all be taught of God” (John 6:45; Isa. 54:13); when “the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our LORD, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15); and when the earthly Jerusalem shall be restored in more than all its ancient glory.


That kingdom and sphere of blessing and glory will be on the earth; and the new Israel with a heart of stone changed to a heart of flesh and with a new spirit, will bring forth “the fruits of righteousness” (Ezek. 36:24-36; Matt. 21:43). This will be the regeneration (or Palingenesia) when the Apostles will be seated “on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).


This will be the first and lowest sphere of blessing. It will be on earth, and under the whole heaven. These are the “people of the saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7:27).


All the nations of the earth will share in this blessing according to God’s original promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3,4, 17:4; Ps. 22:27,28, 67:4; Isa. 2:4, 11:10,12, 42:1,6, 49:22, 52:5, 603,5,11, 66:12, etc.)


2) But Abraham and his spiritual seed are “the saints of the Most High” as distinct from “the people” (of these saints) on the earth (Dan. 7:18,22,25), and occupying a distinct place in the heavenly sphere of this same kingdom. These, according to the Lord’s words in Luke, are “equal to the angels,” “sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36), raised in the “first resurrection” before the thousand years of earthly blessing for Israel and for the nations “under the whole heaven” (Deut. 4:19; Rev 20:4-6). These belong to “that great city the holy Jerusalem,” which John saw “descending down from heaven, having the glory of God; and her light like unto a stone most precious.” This “holy Jerusalem” is fully described in Rev. 21:9-27. It is the “city which hath THE foundations” for which Abraham had been taught to look (Heb. 8:56), for, as “faith cometh by hearing,” Abraham must have heard; and this “hearing” must have come “from the [spoken] word of God” (Rom. 10:17).


This is the “inheritance” of those who, as Peter declares to the believers of the Dispersion, “have obtained like precious faith with us.” That “inheritance” is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and fadeth not away, reserved in HEAVEN for you.” The Greek by the figure Homoioteleuton, emphasizes this “inheritance” as being not earthly, but aphtharton, amianton, amaranton (1 Pet. 1:4).


The inhabitants of that heavenly city are declared to be “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9).


From the call of Abraham there have ever been these two seeds, the earthly and the heavenly.


The one was likened by Jehovah to “the dust of the earth” or “the sand of the sea” (Gen. 13:16, 22:17); and the other was likened to “the stars of heaven” (Heb. 11:12, Gen. 15:5).


Both expressions suggest multitude, but the former is specially associated with earthly blessing, while the latter points to “the partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1).


These latter, like the father Abraham, looked for a heavenly portion and a heavenly blessing, for the city “which hath the foundations.”


“Heb 11:13: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Heb 11:14: For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

Heb 11:15: And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Heb 11:16: But now they desire a better country, that is, an HEAVENLY: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Heb. 11:13-16, KJV).


Where, and what could that city have been if it was not the city which John was shown “descending out of heaven from God,” the foundations of which are specially described in Rev. 21:19,20.


All through the ages, from Abraham’s day to the present, these “partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3;1) may be traced.


They formed “the congregation of the Lord,” and are continually spoken of as such (Deut. 23:1-3, 8; 1 Chron. 28:8; Micah 2:5; Neh. 13:1; Ps. 22:22,25, 26:12, 35:18, 40:9,10, 68:26; 149:1; Num. 16;3, 20:4; Matt. 16:18; Acts 7:38, 2:46,47).


This is the usage of the same word in the Gospels when the Lord said:


“Upon this rock will I build My ekklēsia” (Matt. 16:18).


He did not, when addressing Israelites, use the word in the new, exclusive and special sense in which it was afterward to be used in the revelation of “the secret” in the Prison Epistles; but in the larger and wider Old Testament sense which His hearers would understand as embracing the whole assembly of Jehovah’s believing and worshipping people who were “partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1).


Those who were kept secure “under the shadow of the Almighty” during the 38 years of penal wanderings in the Wilderness, see Pss. 90 and 91.


When Paul says he “persecuted the ekklēsia of God” (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13), he does not use the word in a sense which he had at that time never heard of, or had even the remotest idea of. His words must be understood in the same sense in which he then used them; and we must not read into any passage of Scripture that which was the subject of a subsequent revelation; especially when the sense is perfectly plain and clear as it stands.


The word ekklēsia in the Gospels and Acts must be taken by us in the sense of its Old Testament (Septuagint) usage, as meaning simply the congregation or assembly, or company of Jehovah’s worshipping people, “partakers of a heavenly calling,” having a heavenly hope, a heavenly sphere of blessing, and looking for their part in the “resurrection unto life.”


It had been revealed of old that there would be a resurrection (see Job 19:25-27; Hosea 13:14; John 11:24); but it was subsequently revealed also that that there would be two resurrections, one to life, and one to judgment. Paul testified of the former as being the hope of those who were worshippers of God (Acts 24:14, 15); David hoped for it (Ps. 16:9-11, though the Psalm refers to Messiah (Acts 2:27-31, 13:35), we may not exclude David himself, though his expectation is “not yet” (see also Ps. 49:14,15)). So did Daniel (Dan. 12:1-3).


The Lord plainly spoke of the former as “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14); and, as “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). “By the word of the Lord” was revealed a further hope, or rather, an expression of the hope in John 11:25,26.


There was not only the hope for those who should have part in the “first resurrection,” but for those who should be “alive and remain” when that event should take place.


The “word of the Lord” first mentioned it…


It concerns the Lord, not only as to His being “the Resurrection,” but as to His being “the Life” also. He says:


c/ I am the Resurrection

            d/ and the Life.

c/ He that believeth in Me, though he die, he shall live (again). [To him] I will be “the Resurrection”

            d/ and everyone who [is] alive, and believing in Me shall in nowise die, for ever.

            [To him] I will be the “Life.”


This was (and still is) the hope for all who are “partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1)… who “received not what was promised,” (Heb. 11:39) but who believed and embraced it by faith (believing).


Which of us has not been in difficulties as to those we speak of as “the Old Testament saints”?


Well, here they are seen all through the Old Testament as being “the assembly of God,” partakers of a heavenly calling,” possessing a heavenly hope, and looking for a heavenly sphere of blessing.


3) This brings us to the third sphere, which is the greatest blessing of all, and the highest in glory.


It had been kept secret “from ages and from generations.” It is the eternal “purpose” of God, made “BEFORE the foundation of the World,” and was not “made manifest” by being committed to prophetic writings (Rom. 16:26).


It was a secret not relating to Israel on the earth; nor to the “partakers of a heavenly calling”; but to Christ and the elect members of His Body.


Even in the ministry of Christ it was among the things He could not then reveal even to the twelve Apostles in the privacy of the upper room after the last supper. Not only could He not say these things then, but the Apostles themselves would not have been able to bear them if He had.


And, if the Lord did not mention these things in the Gospels then, certainly the Apostles could not have “confirmed” them in the Acts of the Apostles, afterward.


They were “the things of Christ,” i.e., those things which stand in a special relation to Him, the things that relate to the whole of the truth, “the truth” which would not be complete without them.


They were, of necessity, reserved for “the Spirit of truth” to reveal. “HE will guide you into the whole of the truth.” These precious “riches of grace,” and of glory – these were the doctrines which had for their foundation the facts of Christ’s mission, which had not at that time taken place; though they were all then near at hand.


Those events in Christ’s life on earth were the foundation of the doctrines built upon them; and without them the doctrines could not have been known.


Until He had suffered, died, risen, and ascended, how could the doctrines of Eph. 2:5,6 based on them be revealed and taught?.


This special coming, ministry and guidance of “the Spirit of truth” is reported in the Church Epistles, for therein and only therein, and specially in the Prison Epistles (Eph., Phil., Col., 2 Tim.) do we find the “riches” of grace and glory into which holy spirit was to guide them, the good news of which was destined to fill the long era of Israel’s blindness and the nation’s dark (spiritual) night (Isa. 60:1-3).


The Prison Epistles, following immediately after the proclamation of Israel’s judicial blindness and hardening (recorded in Acts 28:25,26), have for their one great subject the revelation of the third of the three spheres of blessing and glory which stands in special relation to “Christ and His Church.”


This sphere is not on the earth.

It is not over the earth.

It is in the highest heavens.


Hence, it has nothing to do with (only) earthly “signs and wonders”


Such surpassingly exalted language has never before, or since been spoken of human believers.


The very glory of that sphere is inconsistent with (any) earthly signs or manifestations however wonderful or ordinances however once significant.


Those Epistles view the believer of them, not with “signs following,” (emphasized in 1 Corinthians) but they view him as “dead” to this world and all earthly associations and connections, and as having jointly suffered, jointly died, jointly risen, and being jointly seated with Christ in the highest heavens.


Even the “affections” and “thoughts” are not to be concerned with the things on earth; they are to be centered on “the things above” where Christ is already seated at the right hand of God.


Hence, we do not read in those Epistles about the coming of Christ to the earth, but rather about our being removed to be with Him where He is, not about His parousia, or presence on earth… but about our presence and manifestation with Him in His own glory; not about anastasis or resurrection (which is the subject of the earlier Pauline Epistles), but about an “ex-anastasis,” (Phil. 3:11) and “the calling on high” (Phil. 3:14) [it is quite incorrect to render the Greek anō, high, as though it were an adjective qualifying the character of that “calling,” because it is an adverb, denoting its direction] which is the subject of the later Epistles; not about any personal happiness which we may have, but about Christ’s personal glory, in which we have the wondrous privilege of sharing.


In this connection we would call attention to one word, which, in our judgment, is the real key-word of the Prison Epistles, and of this third and highest sphere. It is a remarkable word, found, in this form, only here, in the New Testament. It occurs once before in Rom. 13:9 but there it is in the present passive voice (anakephalaioutai), and means “is summed up.” But in Eph. 1:10 it is the Aorist Infinitive of the middle voice, (anakephalaiōsasthai). This difference is ignored both by the Authorized and the Revised Versions, which read the middle voice of Eph. 1:10 as though it were the active. This is an almost unpardonable oversight, in the interest of the ordinary Bible reader, who has an undoubted right to a correct grammatical rendering from such a quarter.


Translated correctly, the word and the entire passage emphasize the underlying fact that in all things there revealed, our Heavenly Father has, FOR HIMSELF, purposed what is here stated, viz. that:


According to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, in order to a dispensation of the fullness of the seasons, TO-SUM-UP-FOR-HIMSELF, every thing in Christ: things in heaven and things on earth, even in Him, in whom we were taken as an inheritance being foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, that we should be to the praise of His glory who have before hoped in Christ.”


This will be enough to show us that the Cosmos, as shown in Col. 1:15,16, is a larger, higher, and greater sphere than (1) The earthly blessings to Israel, that of earthly glory, or (2) The heavenly blessings to Israel, that of the glory reserved for those who are “partakers of a heavenly calling.”


The Old Testament, and the Acts… deal with these two lower spheres of glory, but the Epistles of Paul, specially his Prison Epistles, reveal a third sphere of headship and Heirship above the earth or the heavens.


1 Cor. 15:40 tells of “terrestrial” glory and of “celestial” glory, which differ the one from the other.


But there is a third sphere; a sphere of cosmical glory (it is “above all heavens,” if we may use the word in this connection) high above all created beings, whether principalities, or powers, or might, or thrones, or dominions, which are mentioned (though not defined or explained) in Eph. 1:21 and Col. 1:16, in relation to Christ, who shall be “Head over all.”


This includes the putting down of all enemies, and the final crushing of the head of “the old serpent” the devil.


This is why the enemy’s great endeavour, now, is to blind the minds of men so that the light of this “good news (or gospel) of the glory of Christ” should be hidden from them (2 Cor. 4:3,4).


And this is why we, who obey God by believing Him as to this, His greatest and most glorious revelation, should cherish it as our earnest hope and constant theme; and, not being “ignorant of Satan’s devices,” since we are thus told against what his assault is being made, therefore know where our defense is to be directed.


In other words, we are to labour to make known “THE RICHES OF GLORY” which are connected with this third and highest sphere of blessing and glory and honour for “Christ and His Church.”



From “Question and Answer”, Things to Come, 19(10):117-118, 1913.


(1)   The earthly people, Israel as head of the nations and Gentiles blessed through them;

(2)   The heavenly people whose home will be in the New Jerusalem, including all the spiritual seed of Abraham, who are his, because they are of faith as the Apostle says in Gal. 3:6, and will be blessed with him (v. 9). He adds in v. 26, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” This is something higher than being Abraham’s seed. The way to become Abraham’s seed is by becoming Christ’s, for we read, “If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (v. 29).


Since then to become a partaker of the second, the heavenly sphere of blessing, it is necessary to become Christ’s by faith, i.e., by believing God’s testimony regarding Him, this would apply, not only to those who believe after Abraham set the example, but to those who believed before him. Thus all the Old Testament saints from Abel will be included. The revelation that was given to our first parents when the Lord clothed them with the coats of skins, was believed by Abel, when he brought his “offering” of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.” Why this last statement, unless he had been taught something of the meaning of the sacrifice which was afterwards set before Israel with such elaborate detail?


When Paul wrote to the Galatians, the secret connected with the third sphere had not been revealed, or, if revealed, he had no authority to proclaim it. Israel was still upon the scene, and it was still possible that the nation might repent. But when the persistent rejection of the offer of the Kingdom culminated at Rome, the third sphere of blessing connected with the Church which is His Body was made known. But this did not close the offer of blessing to individuals, whether of Israel or of the Gentiles, on the same grounds as before.


While the kingdom of God was in existence on the earth (see 1 Chron. 29:23; 2 Chron. 13:8), blessing came to Israel and through them to Gentiles, not because of the kingdom so much as because to Israel were committed the oracles of God.


This kingdom was in abeyance ever since Zedekiah was taken ad Jerusalem destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. When the Lord was on earth, its restoration was offered with Himself as King. Its rejection by the infatuated rulers of the people did not stop the flow of blessing to individuals. The oracles of God ceased to be the exclusive possession of Israel, but were dispersed throughout the world.


So, God’s offer of salvation remains, and it is still open to any one, convicted of sin, to accept the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, quite apart form any knowledge of the deeper truth of the Mystery. All who thus become children of Abraham belong, as it seems, to the second sphere…


The Twelve Apostles are the Apostles of the Lamb and are to sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and have their names inscribed on the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:4), and this pertains to the second sphere of blessings.


Paul himself surely belongs to the third sphere. He was the chosen vessel to reveal its glories and though he seemed to be still striving for the goal when he wrote Phil. 3, he speaks with a different tone in his last words in 2 Tim. 4:6-8.


As to his converts, which of them accepted his deeper teaching, believed God and went on to maturity… “The foundation of God standeth sure.” “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” Let it be for us to believe God, even all that He says, and seek to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called,” “in love,” “circumspectly,” “putting off the old man and putting on the new…”



From Conference Addresses “The Purpose of the Ages”, Things to Come, 1(2):22-24, 1894.


…“The Church of God.” It does not say the church, but “the Church of God.” That means God’s Church, not man’s – the Church of the Living God, which is composed of both Jew and Gentile. The Jew is baptized by holy spirit into the Body of Christ, and thus becomes a member of the Church of God. He ceases to be a Jew as to his standing, his hopes, and his destiny. The Gentile is baptized by holy spirit into the Body of Christ. He becomes a member of the Church of God. He ceases to be a Gentile as to his standing, his hopes, and his destiny. So< it does not matter whether we were born Jews or Gentiles. The great question for each of us is, Am I a member of the “Church of God”?


This Church of God is the subject of special revelation in the New Testament… it was never revealed in the Old Testament…


Romans 16:25,26: “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” The word “Mystery” is a Greek word which simply means secret. We have adopted the word, and used it as meaning something which cannot be understood. But “the Mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9) means “the secret purpose of His will.” So that the Church of God is a secret “which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” In Col. 1:26,27 we read, “Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” What is it that God would make known? “The riches of the glory of this secret among the Gentiles, which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.”


In Eph. 3 the Apostle says, “By revelation He made known unto me the Mystery;” that is, the secret. The fifth verse goes on to say, “ 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; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same Body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.” This secret was not merely that Gentiles were to be blessed. That was never any secret, because it was revealed unto Abraham that all the nations (Gentiles) should be blessed through him; but it was this special blessing which is mentioned in Eph. 2:15, “Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain” (both of the Jew and of the Gentile) “one new man.” That is the secret which was never made known in the Old Testament scriptures; viz., that God was going to save both Jews and Gentiles, and make of the two One NEW Body, which he was going to call the Church of God.


We have to divide the truth as to times and seasons, for in this third chapter of Eph. He goes on to speak (in the 10th verse), “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church” (i.e., by means of the Church) “the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose (i.e., “the purpose of the ages,” R.V. margin) which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord….”


The church of men is looking for the improvement of the world, expecting it to get better and better; but, understanding God’s purposes, we know it will get worse and worse. The worldly church promises the world that by social improvement and education and progress it is going to get better, and it proposes to bring in the millennium by these means, but it is to be a millennium without Christ. They are so accustomed to boast of their arts and science, and the spread of what they speak of as “religion,” that the very proposition that the modern church is to grow morally worse, and that all the claims of the world are going to end in disaster, provokes determined opposition both from the religious world and from the worldly church…


And yet we read that this present age is an “evil” one. It is from this very evil age that the Son of God has redeemed us. “He gave Himself for us, that He might deliver us from the present evil world, according to the will of God our Father.” In Rom. 12 we are exhorted not to be conformed to this world (that is the sort of nonconformity that we want!); but “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The princes of this world, and wisdom of this world, and the god of this world, are all evil, and therefore we look for a different age.


In Eph. 2:7 we read, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ.” In Eph.3:10 we read, “To the intent that now [in the present age] unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by means of the Church the manifold wisdom of God.” That is to say, He is using the Church of God now, i.e., the Body of Christ, to make known to these principalities and powers in heavenly places – whoever and whatever they may be – in order to unfold to them His own “manifold wisdom.”


In His dealings all through these ages He has not been trying experiments with man, but he has been unfolding His manifold wisdom, demonstrating to these principalities and powers certain great, wonderful, and important truths, and the great truth is this, that apart from Christ there is nothing; without His almighty, sustaining power, no created being can stand, whether angels or men. What God has been demonstrating from the beginning and through these ages is that the will of man has always been contrary to the will of God…


It was the religious people that put the Lord Jesus Christ to death. That tells you how much religion is worth without Christ! Hence you find (the real) Israel to-day without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without a temple, without a land, without a home.


And now God has chosen another man, the “Second Man,” “the Lord from heaven.” In Christ He is making another nation; He is taking out, not a nation as He did with Abraham, but a people from amongst Jews and Gentiles, and giving them what none else ever had. In Christ these shall stand, in Christ these are safe; they can never perish, and they can never be lost. Only in Christ can they stand, and, quickened in Christ, they will presently be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, so to be for ever with the Lord.


The Israel will follow in virtue of the unconditional covenant which Jehovah made with them. The new covenant will then be made, and then it will be seen how Israel will stand only by the almighty power. Not only will a new heart be given them, but their old heart will be taken away (Eze. 36:26), and then Israel too will stand…


Without the life of Jesus Christ none can live, without His power none can stand.


“Who shall be with Christ where He is? Who shall enter into His glory?” The answer is demonstrated, “Those whom thou hast given Me”, “I have prayed for them.” “I have kept them.” The gift of the Father, the work of the spirit, and the intercession of Christ is the three-fold cord which can never be broken. These are “in Christ” now, and this alone will ensure their being with Christ when He fulfills His promise, and descends into the air to receive them to Himself. Yes, His free grace has given them a new will, a will to love Him and honour Him and obey him. Hence they find that to be their greatest pleasure which once was their greatest abhorrence. What wondrous grace! So precious are they to the Son that He died for them, and is coming again to receive them unto Himself. The world thinks nothing of them, but He accumulates words to show how precious they are in His sight: - they are His jewels, His flock, His Body, His temple, His ALL.


Think of this coming One now seated at God’s right hand, and henceforth expecting, and learn how we are like our blessed Master, seated, resting in His own precious, finished, perfect work. And we are expecting too. He is “expecting” the time when He will come forth, and we shall be caught up to be forever with the Lord. We have learned from the frailty of our nature that we cannot stand upright apart from Him, and we are testifying against the evil world which is waxing worse and worse, and for which there is no hope until Christ comes. Oh that we may go from here with our souls stirred up to greater love, to greater zeal and faithfulness in these last evil days, these perilous times, and wait more entirely and unreservedly for God’s Son from heaven.

Bible verses including the Greek word musterion and/or the word oikonomia.

May we now conclude in the words of a modern rock song:

"Keepin' it alive".

To see four related Appendixes from "The Companion Bible", specially the last one related to "The Mystery".

To see other studies related to "The Mystery" and other topics.

Other Links:


Research on Intelligent Design

Tasters of the Word (YouTube), videos recientes: "Astronomía y Nacimiento de Jesucristo: Once de Septiembre Año Tres A.C.", "Estudio sobre Sanidades" (en 20 episodios), "Jesus Christ, Son or God?" and "We've the Power to Heal":

Tasters of the Word (the blog, with: "Astronomy and the Birth of Jesus Christ"):


And a commercial before we go:

Window Cleaning of Ronnie Petree, where my wife works (smile): Good Looking Glass of Houston (serving also at: Katy, Surgarland, Conroe, Kingwood, Woodlands, Galveston).