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Bride or Body (06/18/2006)
From: Keith Lockwood

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:15 that a workman, approved by God, rightly divides the word of truth. What does this statement mean to rightly divide the truth? All scripture is indeed profitable (2 Timothy 3:16) but not all was written concerning us, gentile believers. A prime example of this is realizing the difference between the "bride" of Christ and the "body" of Christ. To set the background for this we have to go all the way back to the book of Exodus. God made a covenant with the nation of Israel and if they would have kept it, they would have been above all the other nations acting as God's priestly nation between the other nations and God (Exodus 19:5, 6). This covenant is similar to that of a marriage covenant, thus the nation of Israel was warned not to "take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). When God spoke to the children of Israel through the prophets He used the analogy of marriage to describe His relationship with Israel (Isaiah 54:5). When the children of Israel followed after other gods, they were described as an adulteress wife (Hosea 2). Only the nation of Israel is ever spoken of as being God's "wife". Jesus commanded his disciples to go only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6). Peter's ministry was mainly to the Circumcision (Galatians 2:6-10). Peter's message of repentance was ignored by the nation of Israel. Just as God had spoken through Isaiah and Hosea the nation was set aside (Acts 28:26-28, Hosea 2:2). This is where the "bride" comes in. The faithful remnant during Peter's time and the faithful remnant refined through the time of Jacob's trouble or the tribulation described in the book of Revelations is the "bride" of Christ and is exclusive to those of the nation of Israel. These faithful will live and reign with Christ during the millennial kingdom and the new heavens and new earth that follow (Rev. 20-22). Now, back to our current age of grace; since the priestly nation was set aside (Hosea 2,) the salvation message is sent directly to the gentiles (Acts 28:28) along with the individual Jewish believers. Paul speaks of this as being a secret, kept from past generations, "that in spirit the gentiles should be joint enjoyers of the allotment and a joint body, and joint partakers in the promise of Christ" (Eph. 3:1-13, also compare Col. 1:27). Paul makes very clear the distinction between his apostleship and that of Peter's apostleship (Galatians 2:6-10). In that the "bride" is exclusive to Israel as a nation, within the "body" there is no national distinction, there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male and female, but all is one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). This explains the obvious differences in the message of Paul to the "body" of Christ and the message of Peter, John, James, and Jude to the "bride" of Christ. Confusion germinates when people take what is exclusive to the "bride" and the nation of Israel and try to force it on the message of grace for the individual believer within the "body" of Christ. This was already happening in Paul's time and led to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) and Paul warns against it in Colossians 2:16-23. There are many more differences between the "bride" and the "body" which, Lord willing, I can share in future letters. Until then, I encourage you to be a workman, approved by God and I pray that you will grow in a knowledge and realization of God the Father and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ. 

 

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