Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
When He Is Come (1)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter [Helper] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
And when He has come, He will reprove [convict, rebuke, bring into light] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11).
In John chapter fourteen, shortly before His crucifixion, Christ began to instruct the disciples concerning His soon departure. He was about to leave them and go back into the place from whence He had come over three decades earlier, back into the heavens, to prepare a place for them. And though He would be gone for awhile, He would one day return. He would return in order to take His disciples into the heavens, to the place that He had previously gone away to prepare (vv. 1-3).
Then, continuing His instructions, Christ called the disciples’ attention to something that was about to occur, because of His inpending departure into the heavens. Another would be sent from heaven to be with them during the time of His absence.
Christ told the disciples that He would ask the Father to provide “another Comforter,” Whom He identified as “the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16, 17). Christ was the present “Comforter”; but, following His departure, “another Comforter” would be sent. The people of God would not be left “comfortless” (v. 18).
The word “Comforter” (v. 16) is a translation of the Greek word, Parakletos, which is a compound word meaning “to call alongside” (para, “alongside”; kletos, “to call”). The thought has to do with one called or sent to someone’s side to help. Thus, the word “Comforter” is mainly a description rather than a translation of the word, Parakletos.
Then the word “comfortless” (v. 18) is a translation of the Greek word orphanos, from which the English word “orphan” is derived. This word, for its correct understanding, would relate back to the Parakletos, the One called alongside to help.
Christ had been sent to the people of God. He was the One sent into their presence to help. Following Christ’s departure, the Spirit would be sent to the people of God. He would be the One sent into their presence to help during the time of the Son’s absence. The people of God would not be left “orphans” in this respect. They would not be left without One in their presence Who had been sent from heaven to help in time of need.
In John 14:26, Christ continuing to speak to His disciples relative to things surrounding and following His departure, stated that His Father would be the One Who would send the Parakletos into the world. Then in John 15:26; 16:7, still continuing to speak to His disciples, Christ stated that He Himself would be the One Who would send the Parakletos. Both statements point to a work that would be carried out by two members of the triune Godhead, having to do with a work to be carried out by a third member of the triune Godhead.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate individuals, yet they are One individual (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30). Jesus often identified Himself as One with the Father in this manner, though at times this is not seen in the English text because of translation problems.
Mark 13:32 is a verse where both Christ’s true identity and a problem with the translation can be seen. Christ’s statement in this verse reveals His identification with the Father, but, because of the way that this verse has been translated into English, there is a problem seeing this identification:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)
There are two words in the latter part of this verse in the Greek text (ei me) incorrectly translated “but” in most English versions (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV). This part of the verse should literally read, “…neither the Son, if not [or, ‘unless’ (He is)] the Father.” The thought brought over into the English text would have to be understood along the lines that the Son doesn’t know unless He is the Father, with the verse clearly implying that He is the Father.
Archbishop Trench, one of the great authorities on words in the Greek and English texts, translated this verse:
If I were not God as well as Man, even I would not know the day nor the hour.
Then, in John 18:5, 6, Jesus identified Himself with the Father again. Answering a question concerning His identity, Jesus referred to Himself as “I Am,” not “I am He,” as in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV. This equates to the “I Am” from the Old Testament (Exodus 3:4), for there is nothing in the New that was not previously seen in the Old. And this is also perfectly in line with Thomas’ confession concerning Christ following His resurrection: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
More than one member of the Godhead is often seen carrying out the same work. Christ’s resurrection, for example, was carried out by all three; and God alone is the One Who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). The Father raised Christ from the dead (Acts 2:30-32), the Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 8:11), and the Son raised Himself from the dead (John 10:18). And Scripture does not offer an explanation for any of this, other than its own testimony concerning the triune Godhead; nor should man attempt an explanation beyond that which Scripture reveals.
That which God has reserved unto Himself, about Himself, should simply be accepted and believed, with the matter left at that point. Finite man is in no position to understand and explain that which an infinite God has chosen to leave unrevealed about Himself. There is a reason why God has chosen not to reveal certain things in this realm, and for finite man to attempt to go beyond that which has been revealed would be completely out of place.
He Will Reprove
Christ’s statement to His disciples, recorded in John 16:7ff, has to do with the work of the Spirit surrounding His being sent on the day of Pentecost, ten days following Christ’s ascension. And this work of the Spirit, of necessity, would follow in exact accordance with that seen in the Old Testament type, in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Viewing this work of the Spirit within the framework of the overall type set forth in Genesis 21-25, this work would occur between two points in time. It would occur following Israel being set aside (typified by Sarah’s death in chapter 23) but preceding Israel being restored (typified by Abraham’s remarriage in chapter 25).
Thus, the work of Abraham’s servant in Mesopotamia in chapter twenty-four, occurring between these two points in time, typifies the work of the Spirit in the world today. And, in this respect, that which Christ revealed concerning the work of the Spirit during the present dispensation in John 16:7ff forms commentary material for the foundational material that Moses set forth in Genesis 24:1ff, over fourteen hundred years earlier.
In the type, Abraham sent his servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for his son, Isaac. And in the antitype, God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son, Jesus. And the carrying out and completion of this work by the Spirit throughout the dispensation will fulfill, in the antitype, that foreshadowed by events in the type.
1) Work of the Spirit
There are three parts to Christ’s statement to His disciples in John 16:7-11 relative to the future work of the Spirit. The Spirit, following His being sent, would “reprove the world of [‘concerning’] sin, and of [‘concerning’] righteousness, and of [‘concerning’] judgment” (vv. 7, 8). Then these three parts of the Spirit’s reproving work are explained with brief statements: “Concerning sin, because… Concerning righteousness, because… Concerning judgment, because…” (vv. 9-11).
The word translated “reprove” in the Greek text (elegcho) can be used in a rather broad sense. The word can refer to “reproving,” “rebuking,” “bringing to light,” “exposing” or “correcting.” The overall thought behind the use of the word is to bring a person to a knowledge of that which is true and correct — to bring a person to a knowledge of the truth. And to reach this goal, the work of the Spirit might begin with a “rebuke” in order to subsequently “bring matters to light” within a person’s understanding.
A good example of the former, with a view to the latter, can be seen in that which Paul told Titus in the opening part of his letter to him. Paul referred to certain individuals (certain Christians) who were not “holding fast the faithful word” which they had previously been taught. They had become “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,” and they were subverting (upsetting, overturning, destroying) “whole houses [a church meeting in homes located various places in the city], teaching things that they ought not” (Titus 1:9-11). And relative to these individuals, Paul told Titus:
Wherefore rebuke [Gk., elegcho] them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith (v. 13).
Titus, doing this rebuking, would be carrying out a part of the work of the Spirit. He would be acting under the power of the Spirit, using the Word that the Spirit gave, to rebuke certain individuals; and this would be done with a view to these individuals being brought into a position where they would be “sound in the faith.”
Then the end result of the preceding can be seen in Hebrews 11:1, where the noun form of elegcho (elegchos) is used, translated “evidence” (KJV). The word could be better understood and translated, “bringing to light.” The Spirit, through the Word, brings to light things that can be seen only by faith. Such would result in a walk by faith, which, within the context of Hebrews 11:1, has to do with the salvation of the soul (10:35-39).
The Spirit, working among Christians in the preceding respect, searching for the bride in complete accord with the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four, would bring matters concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment to light. And He would do this with one goal in view — the salvation of the soul, which would allow an individual to participate in activities surrounding the bride. The Spirit would carry out this work with a view to procuring a bride for God’s Son, remaining completely within the realm of ministry that He had been sent to fulfill.
The work of the Spirit described in John 16:7-11 can have nothing to do with the unsaved. The ministry of the One sent to help the people of God in time of need would have to do solely with a future work among the saved. This is what is seen in the type (“…you shall go to my country, and to my kindred…” [Genesis 24:4]); and this is what is seen in Christ’s statement to His disciples, concerning the antitype, as well (“I will send Him to you” [John 16:7]).
(There would be a convicting work of the Spirit among the unsaved at the same time, but this convicting work of the Spirit among the unsaved had already been occurring for four millennia prior to Christ’s announcement concerning sending the Spirit to perform a work that was about to commence. And the Spirit’s work among the unsaved, in this respect, would simply continue, uninterrupted and unchanged.)
2) The World
Then it would be “the world” (those in the world) whom the Spirit would reprove, with “sin” mentioned first. And this reference to “the world” has led many to erroneously conclude that Christ was speaking about the Spirit being sent to reprove unsaved man, in the world, “dead in trespasses and sins.”
The word “world [Gk., kosmos]” though is used different ways in Scripture, and the word must always be understood contextually. Sometimes the word is used referring to the material world (John 1:9, 10); other times the word is used referring to the world system under Satan (John 18:36; 1 John 2:15); and other times the word is used referring to those in the world (John 3:16; 7:7).
When referring to those in the world, the word kosmos is not necessarily a reference to all those in the world, though it could be. The word may or may not be all-inclusive in this respect. Again, the word must be viewed contextually to make this determination.
In John 3:16, the word kosmos would encompass all those in the world. God gave His Son for all. But in John 18:20, all those throughout the world cannot be in view through the use of kosmos.
In this verse, Christ speaking openly “to the world [‘to the kosmos’]” during His earthly ministry would, of necessity, have had to be referring to a ministry solely to the Jewish people in the land of Israel. The Gentiles in the world, in the kosmos (either inside or outside the land of Israel), could not have been included (cf. Matthew 10:5, 6; 15:24]).
And the use of kosmos in John 16:8 would, contextually, have to be limited after the same fashion as seen in John 18:20. The reference would be limited to those in the world to whom the Spirit would be sent — to the saved (cf. John 12:19).
The word kosmos is used after the same fashion by Paul in Colossians 1:6, referring to the Word of the Kingdom having been proclaimed to Christians throughout the then known world, the kosmos. The proclamation of this message during Paul’s day couldn’t and didn’t have anything to do with unsaved Gentiles, though the message was said to have been proclaimed “in all the kosmos.” This message was (and remains today) a message for the saved alone.
Scripture deals with the sin question in relation to the people of God far more extensively than it does in relation to those alienated from God. The way in which Scripture deals with “sin” is similar to the way in which Scripture deals with the “gospel [‘good news’].”
Above eighty percent of the times that the word “gospel [Gk., euaggelion, euaggelizo (noun and verb forms of the same word)]” appears in the New Testament, the reference is solely to “good news” which is to be proclaimed to the saved. And the manner in which Scripture handles the whole of the sin question as it pertains to both the saved and the unsaved would be of a similar nature. Scripture’s message surrounding “sin” is directed centrally to the saved, not to the unsaved.
The Old Testament, beginning with the latter part of Genesis chapter eleven, deals mainly with one group of people — Abraham and his descendants, through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons. And the Old Testament, dealing with “sin,” deals with the matter centrally in relation to the descendants of Abraham, the people of God.
During Moses’ day, when Moses led the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt, the sin question began with events surrounding the slaying of the paschal lambs and the application of the blood (Exodus 12:1ff). In one respect, the sin question ceased at this point; but in another respect, not so.
Note how this dual aspect of the sin question is brought to pass in the antitype today:
The Paschal Lamb has been slain; and, through the application of the blood of this Lamb, by faith, man passes “from death unto life.” Man, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, now has life where death had previously existed. And the sin question in relation to his eternal destiny has ceased to exist and can never again be a factor.
Man’s eternal salvation is based on a past, finished work of God’s Son (encompassing death and shed blood); and man’s eternal salvation was effected by a past, finished work of the Spirit (breathing life into the one who had no life). In relation to saved man in the world today, both the work of the Son and the work of the Spirit are works performed in past time, finished in past time, and existing during present time in a finished state. For those who have passed “from death unto life,” insofar as their presently possessed eternal salvation is concerned, the sin question does not exist.
But the sin question for saved man does exist in another realm. It exists relative to salvation present and future (the salvation of the soul, which has nothing to do with the past aspect of salvation, the salvation of the spirit [other than the fact that the salvation of the spirit places one in a position where he can realize the salvation of his soul]).
The sin question existed for the people of God in this respect during Moses’ day, following the death of the firstborn in Exodus chapter twelve. If it hadn’t, there would have been no need for the priestly work carried on by the Levites, culminating in a work by the high priest year after year on the day of atonement.
And it exists for Christians in this same respect during the present dispensation, following the antitype of the death of the firstborn. If it didn’t, there would be no need for Christ’s present work as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
The fact remains that the people of God can and do sin. Though born from above, they still possess the old sin nature (1 John 1:8-10). And they will possess this old sin nature as long as they remain in “this body of death” (Romans 7:24).
This fact necessitated a high priest ministering on the basis of shed blood during Moses’ day, and this fact also necessitates a High Priest ministering on the basis of shed blood today.
During Moses’ day, this priestly ministry was for the cleansing of those who had already experienced the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12), with a view to their one day entering an earthly land as “a kingdom of priests” and realizing an “inheritance” therein (cf. Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 3:28; Hebrews 11:8).
And during the present dispensation, this priestly ministry is also for those who have already experienced the death of the firstborn (in the antitype of Exodus 12), with a view to their one day entering a heavenly land as “kings and priests” and realizing an “inheritance” therein (cf. Ephesians 1:3, 11; Colossians 1:5, 12; Revelation 5:10).
In John chapter thirteen, Christ — reflecting on the past ministry of Aaron and His future ministry after the order of Aaron — took a towel, girded Himself, took a basin of water, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Through this act, Christ was showing the necessity of a present cleansing (for a revealed purpose) for those who had already been cleansed in the past (for a revealed purpose).
But when Christ came to Simon Peter, Peter refused to allow Him to wash his feet. Peter said, “You shall never wash my feet!” (v. 8a). And he was very emphatic in his statement, using a double negative for emphasis in the Greek text (ou me). A more literal English translation of Peter’s statement would read somewhat along the lines, “Thou shalt never, no not ever, wash my feet.”
Jesus, in His response to Peter, then drove home the truth surrounding that which He was doing: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (v. 8b). If Peter did not allow Christ to do that which this act symbolized — a cleansing work that the Son would perform on behalf of the people of God yet future — Peter could have no part with Him.
That which was in view had nothing to do with eternal life. Rather, it had to do with the message being proclaimed, the message surrounding the kingdom. And this message was solely for the saved, not for the unsaved.
The truth being taught had to do with saved individuals availing themselves of Christ’s ministry as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. It had to do with saved individuals allowing Christ to cleanse them from defilement (typified by Christ washing the disciples’ feet). And this would have to do with defilement wrought through the old sin nature and contact with this present world in which Christians live (as the disciples’ feet would have become unclean through contact with the ground upon which they walked).
If a person doesn’t avail himself of Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary, that person cannot have a part with Christ in the kingdom. And the reason for this has been clearly revealed in Scripture.
According to Ephesians 5:25-27, Christ “gave Himself” for the Church (past [v. 25]), “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word” (present [v. 26]), “that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (future [v. 27]).
Peter, realizing what Christ was talking about (having a part with Him in the kingdom), immediately changed his mind and said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13: 9). But Jesus responded, “He that is bathed [Gk., louo] needs only to wash [Gk., nipto] his feet, but is completely clean” (v. 10a).
The Greek words louo and nipto used together like this call attention to two different types of washings. Louo refers to a washing of the complete body, and nipto refers to a washing of parts of the body (hands, feet, etc.). Nipto is the word that Christ used in verse eight, referring to that which He was doing (washing the disciples’ feet).
That being taught in John 13:8-10 is drawn from the typology of the Old Testament. When a priest in the Old Testament theocracy entered into the priesthood, his entire body was washed, never to be repeated. The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), describing this washing in Exodus 29:4; 40:12-15, uses the word louo. And the Septuagint, describing a washing of parts of the body in the priests’ subsequent ministry in the tabernacle (washing the hands and feet at the laver), uses the word nipto in Exodus 30:21; 40:30-32.
And it is the same today for those who would one day be “kings and priests” in Christ’s coming kingdom. A complete washing (louo) has occurred in the past, which can never be repeated; but partial washings (nipto) must occur subsequent to the complete washing, if…
A perfect tense of the verb louo is used in John 13:8 relative to Peter’s past washing, showing an act completed in past time and existing during present time in a finished state. And any subsequent washing of any type could have nothing to do with this past, completed work.
But, a present washing (nipto) must occur if a person washed (louo) is to have a part with Christ in His kingdom. And the Holy Spirit is in the world bringing this matter to light for Christians.
Christ, referring to this ministry of the Spirit (future at the time of His statement; present today), said, “Concerning sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:9). That would be to say, “Concerning sin, because they do not exercise faith in me” (cf. John 14:1; Romans 1:16, 17).
“Faith” and “believe” are the same word in the Greek text. One is a noun (“faith”), and the other is a verb (“believe”). “Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say. Or, “belief,” on the other hand, is simply exercising faith in that which God has to say. This is why Scripture clearly reveals that “faith” can emanate from only one source — “the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
It is faith in the “Advocate [Gk., Parakletos],” “Jesus Christ the righteous,” ministering in the heavenly sanctuary on the Christians’ behalf. Christ is “the propitiation [Gk., hilasmos, a form of the word for ‘mercy seat,’ referring to Christ’s high priestly work] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2).
The Parakletos on earth, preceding God sending His Spirit, was Christ. Following Christ’s ascension and the sending of the Spirit, the Parakletos on earth was then the Spirit. But Christ’s work as Parakletos did not end with His ascension. Rather, it continued with a subsequent work in the heavens. Christ, throughout the present dispensation, is the Christians’ Parakletos in the sanctuary in the heavens.
Thus, Christians have two Parakletos — Two called alongside to help — One on earth, and the Other in the heavens. And their respective ministries completely complement one another, both moving toward exactly the same goal. The Parakletos on earth is performing part of the work; and the Parakletos in heaven is performing the remainder of the work, which allows the work being carried out by the Parakletos on earth to be brought to completion.
“Righteousness” in the life of a Christian has to do with right living, living in accordance with that revealed in the Word of God. It is walking by faith, following the man of spirit rather than the man of flesh.
The wedding garment to be worn by Christians will be made up of “righteous acts” (Revelation 19:7, 8), which takes one back to right living, conforming one’s life to that revealed in the Word. And this takes one back to that which Christ stated concerning the work of the Spirit in John 16:10.
Christ, the righteous One, the living Word, has gone back into heaven. True righteousness, during His time of absence (seen in the person of Christ during His presence), can be seen through only one source today — the written Word. And the Spirit is presently in the world to call the Christians’ attention to all the various facets of that which the Word has to say in this respect.
To bring matters surrounding “righteousness” to pass during the absence of the righteous One, the Spirit may have to begin with “rebuke.” But, if so, this would be with a view to subsequent instruction, a bringing of matters to light surrounding that which the Word has to say concerning “righteousness” (the present child-training, with a view to future sonship, seen in Hebrews 12:5-8). And this would be with a view to the salvation of the soul, which is part and parcel with the Christian possessing a wedding garment and being able to participate in activities surrounding the bride.
Christ, in the heavens, has sat down with His Father on His throne. This though is temporary, for a period of time described in Psalm 110:1 — until the Father makes the Son’s enemies His footstool. And it is also for a period of time seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four — until the Spirit, presently in the world, completes His search for the bride.
Christ, seated on the Father’s throne in the heavens, is presently inviting Christians to one day sit with Him on His Own throne (Revelation 3:21). Christ will ascend this throne following events of the present dispensation (after the Spirit has procured the bride) and following the completion of Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week (when God will bring matters to pass wherein all will be in subjection to the Son). And numerous Christians from the present dispensation — who heeded the Spirit’s call and instructions — will find themselves among those allowed to ascend the throne with God’s Son during that coming day.
Christ referred to the Spirit bringing “judgment” to light in His work among Christians “because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11). “The prince of this world” is Satan, and the wording from the Greek text reveals that Satan has already been judged. A perfect tense is used for “judged,” and the translation should literally read, “the prince of this world has been judged.” The reference, through the use of the perfect tense, is to a past judgment, with conditions surrounding this judgment presently existing in a finished state.
Judgment presently awaits all Christians at Christ’s judgment seat. Christians will be judged according to their “works” (cf. Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11), which, within the framework of that revealed in John 16:7-11, will have to do with “sin” and “righteousness.”
The incumbent ruler has already been judged relative to sin and righteousness, and the ones who have been called to inherit the kingdom after Satan has been put down are to be judged relative to sin and righteousness as well. And the carrying out of decrees surrounding the judgment of both Satan and Christians will occur following the judgment of Christians.
Sin and unrighteousness have resulted in the rejection and disqualification of the incumbent ruler, and exactly the same thing can (and will) result in the rejection and disqualification of numerous Christians called to inherit the kingdom with Christ. Other Christians though will be shown to have overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil; and these will realize an inheritance in the kingdom, ascending the throne with Christ.
One Parakletos is presently in the world, working among Christians, with an end in view; and the Other Parakletos is in the heavens performing a companion work for Christians, with the same end in view.
And Christians can either heed or ignore Their respective ministries. Either way, one’s eternal destiny will remain unaffected; but that which awaits Christians during the coming age will be vastly affected.