"For this 'a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh'.
A strange expression, don't you think? Paul says here that the marriage is a great secret., Strange, because the marriage between a man and a woman is very old and known world-wide. We find the first mention of it already in Genesis 2:24!
32 This secret is great"(Ephesians 5:31,32; Conc. Version NT)
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."(Gen. 2:24;KJAV)
Nothing new you might say and you're right. But I held something back from you. In the text in Ephesians that I quoted is more to be found. It says:
" This secret is great: yet I am saying this as to Christ and as to the ecclesia."
This makes it all a lot more clear. So there is a secret in the institution of marriage and this secret is about the bond between Christ and His ecclesia. Let's take a look.
Man and woman.
In the very first book of our Bible we find the story of the creation. On day 6, man is created:
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."(Gen 1:27;KJAV)
Here we find two important things:
- God created man in His own image.
- He created man, male and female.
Does it say here that God created Eve on day six as well? No, that can't be so. First we have day 7, on which God rested. After that, God made the Garden of Eden and brings Adam into that Garden. Not a word about Eve! Only after an unknown amount of time, God takes something from Adam's body and builds Eve from that. Eve came later.
But what can we do with the expression "male and female created he them"? We have to look a bit further before we can answer this question.
Adam was brought into a deep sleep and God removed a rib from his side. With that word, rib, there is a problem. We can find it many times in the Hebrew texts of the OT, but nowhere is it used for "rib". The Hebrew word here is "tseelaa". It is found a number of times in the OT and used for instance when the side chambers in the temple are mentioned; they are "tseelaa's". Look f.i. in 1Kings 6:8; Eze. 41:5 and 6.
The literal meaning of "tseelaa" is: an angular, hollow space. You can say quite a lot about a rib, but it is certainly not an angular, hollow space!
There is much more behind this word. God created Adam and no other human during the 6th day of creation. He created him with male and female qualities. God later, for the making of the first woman, took an angular, hollow space from Adam. Adam had been looking around in the Garden and had noticed that all animals had male and female versions. These two formed units. Adam was alone, in that he had all these qualities, that were split over the two sexes in the animals, in himself; he was a hermafrodite. Then God removed that hollow space from Adam. That was not a rib, it was the hollow space that functions as a safe place for the unborn: the womb and all that belongs to it! From that moment on, Adam was incomplete. Eve was part of him, but that part was now outside himself. That is why it is written:
"This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."(Gen. 2:23:KJAV)
To make Adam complete again, marriage was necessary.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."(Gen. 2:24:KJAV)
What happens when a man and his wife come together, in a marriage? The man becomes complete again! The woman completes the man; she is his "complement". This is the word we were looking for and will use during this study: complement.
Christ and the ecclesia.
"22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."(Eph. 1:22,23;KJAV
Before we continue, we must improve the text. The text as given here in the King James AV (esp. verse 23) is not as clear as the Greek text is. The word "fulness" is a translation of the Greek word "pleroma". Pleroma means: complete, to make whole, to fill back to what it once was; bring back what was lost of a larger object, so that it will be whole again.
That is why we better translate with:
"....and gives Him, as Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all."(Eph. 1:22;Conc. Version NT)
We see something very special here. Paul indeed reveals a secret! The ecclesia, the body of Christ, is the complement of Christ!!!
In Romans 12 we are being told that the ecclesia is a unit, itself,
"For even as, in one body, we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function,
and Paul urges us to keep the unity among believers and improve it. But here, in Ephesians 1, we read about the unity with Christ. The ecclesia without Christ is not complete.
5 thus we, who are many, are one body in Christ, yet individually members of one another."(Rom. 12:4,5;Conc. Version NT)
But..., then the reverse is also true: Christ without the ecclesia is not complete either!
And here we come to the parallel with the human marriage, the restored unity of the man by becoming one flesh with his wife. Christ needs someone to make Him complete!
When the heavens and earth were created, there was no one to accompany God's Word. No provision had been made for that in creation, just like in Adam's case.
Now look again at the story of creation. It isn't Adam who asks for a mate. No, it is the Creator Who says:
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."(Gen 2:18;KJAV)
So it is God Himself Who takes the initiative (as so often, or is it: always?). The parallel with our subject is, that God for His Word, too, makes a "help" that will make Him whole, complete: the body of Christ, the ecclesia!
But there is a difference. Adam was the first of the fleshly human race, but when Christ came back from the dead, He was the first of a new mankind, a spiritual mankind.
- When Adam was created, in fact all humans were created, be it "in Adam". Adam was the first of all fleshly people.
- When Christ became the first of the new creation, a whole new human being was born, the spiritual man. Christ was the first of those (and still is).
Before He died on the cross of Calvary, we, the body of Christ (and the rest of the new mankind), were hidden in Him, just like Eve (and the rest of mankind) was hidden in Adam.
Now, in this administration of grace, our Lord and Saviour is busy calling out His body. He knows exactly who to call, we were already chosen before the disruption of the world (Eph. 1:4). But He can only start with the making of the new mankind, when He is made complete, united with His body. That was also the case with Adam; he only started working out his mission, after he had gotten Eve and was re-united with his flesh in marriage.
And what about now?
If you are married, then you together - man and wife - are a shadow type of a much higher goal. Your unity with your husband or wife is a shadow image of what will soon happen with the ecclesia and its Lord. What an honor is there for us! "Simple" creatures (Paul compares us in Romans 9 with clay in the hands of a potter) will make Christ whole!! Is your head, by now, spinning too?
Just like Adam was only able to fulfill his task through his complement (Eve),
"And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."(Gen. 1:22;KJAV)
so will Christ only be able to finish His task, to work out what He had accomplished on the cross, when He will be united with His body. He is going to work, through and with His body, to complete the all (Greek: "ta panta" = everything that was created) in all!
What an honor, what a blessing, what a future! And that not only for the members of His body, but, in the end, when He and His body will have finished their work, for all mankind, for "the all".
To God be the honor and glory!