Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the creation of the one new man (2:14-15). This matter is extremely crucial in the New Testament, but it has been neglected by most Christians.
When Christ died on the cross, not only did He deal with sins, the old man, Satan, and the world; He also dealt with the ordinances. On the cross Christ abolished in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances. Therefore, by His death on the cross, Christ dealt with five categories of things: sins, the old man, Satan, the world, and the ordinances. It seems that very few Christians today talk about Christ’s dealing with the ordinances, and I doubt that any books have been written on this subject. Most Christians think that all our problems concern sins, the old man, Satan, and the world. Many think that we are all right as long as these four things are dealt with. But not all the problems are solved and we cannot be all right until the ordinances have been dealt with. The ordinances, the different ways of living and worshipping, had to be abolished by Christ on the cross so that He could create in Himself the one new man.
We have heard repeatedly that on the cross Christ accomplished redemption, destroyed the Devil, judged the world, and crucified the self. But perhaps you have never heard that Christ’s death on the cross was also for the creation of the one new man. In order to create the one new man, it was necessary for Christ to abolish the ordinances. By abolishing in His flesh the separating ordinances and by creating the Jewish and Gentile believers into one new man, Christ has made peace among all believers. The Jews and Gentiles were separated to the uttermost by the ordinances. But both peoples were created in Christ with the divine essence into one new entity, which is a corporate man, the church. Because no other Christians speak about the abolishing of the ordinances and the creating of the new man, we are very burdened to give a word concerning these things.
Most believers recognize that the church is the ecclesia, the gathering or assembling of God’s called people. The Brethren emphasized this aspect of the church and even translated the Greek word ecclesia into “assembly,” which is an accurate rendering. This, however, is an even less than elementary understanding of the church. A somewhat more advanced concept of the church is that the church is God’s household or family. An even higher understanding of the church is to see that the church is the Body of Christ. The highest understanding of the church is that the church is the one new man. These four concepts of the church are like four levels in the educational system: kindergarten, elementary, high school, and college. We need to advance from the kindergarten level of the church, that of the assembly, to the college level, that of the one new man.
The relationship among Christians in an assembly, a gathering, is not very close. It is much closer and more intimate among those in the family, the household. However, we are not only members of God’s family, but also members of the Body of Christ, where the relationship among the members is still closer. Those in the assembly and the members of a family may be separated from one another, but the members of the Body cannot be separated from the Body unless they are amputated. Wherever the Body goes, the members must go also; they have no choice. However, in the one new man the fellowship is even more intimate than in the Body. The new man is corporate and universal. There are many believers, but there is only one new man in the universe. All the believers are components of this one corporate and universal new man. May the Lord show us more light concerning the new man! We must admit that as yet we have not seen very much of this aspect of the church. The aspect of the church as the new man is a new discovery opened up in recent years. I believe that in the days to come the Lord will reveal more concerning the one new man.
The family is more intimate than the assembly, the Body is much higher than the family, and the new man is higher than the Body. Thus, with the new man we come to the highest aspect of the church. Although Christian teachers have spoken a great deal about the assembly, the family, and the Body, hardly any have touched the matter of the one new man. This lack is evident in the deplorable translation of Ephesians 4:22 and 24 in the New American Standard Bible. Instead of using the word “man” in these two verses, this version says in verse 22 to “lay aside the old self” and in verse 24 to “put on the new self.” What a serious mistake this is in translation! The Revised Standard Version is also greatly in error by adopting the renderings, “put off your old nature” and “put on the new nature.” These errors came in because the translators responsible for them did not have the proper concept or knowledge. W. E. Vine, however, had some understanding of this matter. In his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, he says that the new man in 4:24 is the church because it is the very new man mentioned in 2:15. Because the new man is created of two peoples, the Jewish and Gentile believers, it must be a corporate entity.
The Lord has no way to accomplish His purpose until He has this new man on earth. The situation among today’s Christians is far short of God’s goal. Although there is much talk about the Body, not many have a proper understanding of the Body. Furthermore, Christians rarely even speak of the one new man. How crucial it is that this aspect of the church be fully recovered!
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