Some Suggestions About "The Mystery"

by A.E. Knoch

FOR the sake of many correspondents and others who are seeking present truth, we make the following brief suggestions. Be sure you fully understand the terms of "the mystery" before beginning to reason about it. The mystery does not repudiate Paul's previous epistles. It incorporates them, with certain modification to suit the new revelation. Conciliation, the special aspect of the evangel for today, is implied in the prison epistles, but elaborated in Romans and Corinthians. It set aside Israel's religious superiority, as the celestial allotment sets aside their political supremacy. Both are essential to the present grace. Remember that "the body" is a figure of speech, and applies only to certain relationships to Christ. Paul was in the body when he wrote Romans. All who were in that body were also in the joint- body of Ephesians. Both are the body of Christ. He has not two bodies. They are two slightly differing aspects of our close relationship to Him before and after the mystery was revealed. The "joint" does not refer to our union with Christ, but to the fact that the nations are now accorded an equal place in the body with those of the Circumcision who believed Paul's teaching. There is now only one body. Do not confuse the body with the "new man." It is a totally different figure. The humanity is put on and off. Not so the body. Distinguish between that which is heavenly in character and that which is celestial in location. Do not press figures of speech beyond their proper bounds. Christ comes suddenly and unexpectedly as a thief. He does not steal, or hide, or do many things which thieves do. Only the suddenness and unexpectedness of His advent is thief-like.

Remember that maturity is not found in the pre-prison epistles. Maturity, however, does not come through a new creation, but through minority. The gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 are those which characterized immaturity, yet not all, for some passed over into maturity. Apostles, prophets, and teachers continued (Eph.4: 11). The "body" in Romans and Corinthians is the body of the same Christ as in Ephesians. It is only a figure, showing our relationship to Him. When that relationship changed, the figure was modified accordingly. The body becomes a joint-body. Christ and Paul and the Romans and the Corinthians were not left behind in the former body. They become members in the joint-body. When maturity comes, the minor is not "done away" (1 Cor.13:10), but the things of minority.

The word parousia is often used as though it referred exclusively to a single event, in which we can have no part, because" it is not found used of Christ in the prison epistles." The word simply means presence. If we are never to enjoy the presence of Christ we are in a most pitiable dilemma! All of the transcendent spiritual blessings among the celestials which the prison epistles reveal are worthless if they are to be ours outside of His presence. Moreover, there can be no vivification apart from His presence. He alone can give life. We were not vivified with Him as the Firstfruit. We will be made alive at His presence (1 Cor.15:23). I do not hesitate to say that, if we are barred from the "parousia," then no life or blessing can possibly be ours. All depends on His presence. A concordant study should show that this is not the special name of a particular event, but a common noun, meaning the opposite of absence.

[Return to main indexpage]