Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
One New Man
Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He purposed in Himself,
that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both that are in heaven and that are on earth — in Him.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:9-12; cf. Colossians 1:16-20).
Of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God,
the mystery that has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27).
Ephesians and Colossians are companion epistles that parallel one another in a number of places. Both books, in the first chapter of each, refer to things surrounding the revelation of a mystery. And it is clear that references to these things, in both books, deal with exactly the same body of revealed truth.
This mystery is explained in Ephesians 3:1-6 as Gentile believers becoming “fellowheirs” with Jewish believers. Both become members “of the same body” (forming the one new man “in Christ” [Ephesians 2:12-15]); and, as members of this body, both together become “partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (v. 6).
And “His promise in Christ” has to do with that coming day when “all things” will be brought under the headship of Christ, whether things “in heaven” or things “on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). That will be the day when Christ’s glory will be revealed for all to see, and that will be the day in which Christians will “inherit the promises”; they, in that day, will become co-heirs with Christ, realizing the hope presently set before them (Ephesians 1:11, 12 [“first trusted” in v. 12 should be translated “before hoped”]; cf. Romans 5:2; Titus 1:2; 2:12, 13; 3:7; Hebrews 3:6; 6:11, 12; 10:23; 1 Peter 1:13; 3:15).
Ephesians 1:10 presents the antithesis of that which is set forth in John 1:11. Note the two verses together:
He came to His own [referring to ‘things’ (neuter plural in the Greek text)], and His own [referring to ‘people’ (masculine plural in the Greek text)] did not receive Him (John 1:11).
That in the dispensation of the fulness of the times He might gather together in one all things [neuter plural in the Greek text, a direct allusion back to John 1:11] in Christ, both that are in heaven, and that are on earth — in Him (Ephesians 1:10; cf. Acts 3:19-21).
Christ came unto His Own things at His first coming (having to do with things surrounding regality, which began with a regal birth — “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:2a]). He came apart from His glory to His Own things, and His Own people (the Jewish people) rejected Him. This led to a shame and humiliation that was brought to a climax through the events surrounding Calvary.
When Christ returns, it will once again be to His Own things and to His Own people, exactly as at His first coming. However, this time He will come in all His glory, not apart from His glory as at His first coming. He will come, not simply as One born King, but He will come in what Scripture calls, “His greatest regal magnificence” (2 Peter 1:16 [literal translation from the Greek text, where a superlative is used]).
He will return to the same place from where He ascended — to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:10, 11; Revelation 19:11ff) — and the Jewish people, in that day, rather than rejecting Him, will receive Him. And the same scenes that had previously witnessed His shame and humiliation will, in that day, witness His glory and exaltation.
During that coming day, in which the Son will be revealed in “His greatest regal magnificence,” all things will be brought under subjection to the Son. And the ultimate goal will have to do with the Son being able to present a restored kingdom (both heavenly and earthly realms) back to His Father, in order that the Father might be “all in all [lit., ‘all things in all of these things,’ or ‘all things in every way’]” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
That is, during the Messianic Era, that seen in Ephesians 1:10 will be brought to fulfillment relative to the Son and this earth. Then, during the eternal ages, after the Son has delivered a restored kingdom back to His Father, the same thing seen in Ephesians 1:10 will be universally fulfilled relative to the Father.
Then, this mystery is explained in Colossians as “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27b). The mystery is introduced immediately prior to this explanation as something that had been concealed up to a certain point in time (which would include being concealed from both angels and man, for “ages” is used in the verse [v. 26]; and Man’s Day covers only one age [the last of the ages in view]). But, at a time toward the end of these ages, during the latter part of the last age, the mystery was made known. And, as it had previously been concealed from both angels and man, it has now been made known to both angels and man (cf. Ephesians 3:3, 9-11; 1 Peter 1:9-12).
Thus, the mystery has to do with God making known something that had been concealed during time extending throughout both an unrevealed number of ages and the first sixty-two generations of the human race (from Adam to Christ [cf. Genesis 5:1-32; 11:10-26; Matthew 1:17]). God, at the end of all this time and these generations, called one man out of the nation of Israel for purposes surrounding the mystery. God called Paul, brought about his conversion, took him aside, and over a period of time — possibly as long as three years (Galatians 1:11, 12, 18; Ephesians 3:1-7) — made the mystery known to him. However, the mystery being made known to Paul was not for purposes surrounding Israel. Rather, it was for purposes surrounding the Gentiles, though revealed in complete keeping with Psalm 147:19, 20 (Acts 9:15; 13:46-48; 15:14; Romans 1:13; Galatians 2:2, 7).
The whole of the matter is summed up in Colossians 1:27, which ends with a very concise explanation of the mystery:
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
The reference to “Gentiles” in this verse could not be to unsaved Gentiles, for unsaved Gentiles were estranged from God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). Further, unsaved Gentiles were “dead in trespasses and sins,” and completely incapable of understanding spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Rather, the verse, of necessity, would have to be referring to saved Gentiles. These Gentiles would have to be individuals who had “passed from death unto life,” who were no longer estranged from God, who now possessed a hope, and who were now capable of understanding spiritual truth (Ephesians 2:13-15).
In Colossians 1:27, note the words, “which is,” connecting that which precedes with that which follows. The mystery being made known “among the Gentiles” is explained to be, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Then note the words “among” and “in” in the verse (“among the Gentiles,” and “Christ in you”). Both words are translations of the same word in the Greek text — the word en.
When translating en into English, the thought usually has to do with “in” or “into.” However, “among,” as it is translated the first time that the word appears in this verse, is another way that en is quite often understood as well. The contextual usage of the word would have to be the determining factor concerning how the word is to be understood.
It is evident that the translation “among the Gentiles,” rather than “in the Gentiles,” is correct for the first usage of en in the verse. And it is also evident that this same translation of en should carry over into the latter part of the verse as well, for this part of the verse is an explanation of the first part of the verse.
The latter part of the verse should read, “Christ among you, the hope of glory.” And, with the complete verse in view, that which is meant by the explanation of the mystery in the latter part of the verse becomes quite clear. Drawing from the first part of the verse — God making known “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles” — the translation, “Christ among you,” can only be understood, contextually, in the sense of “Christ [being proclaimed] among you [Gentiles].”
And this proclamation of Christ among the Gentiles centers on the Gentiles now having a hope (from which they had previously been estranged [Ephesians 2:12]), which is connected with Christ’s coming glory (cf. Romans 5:2; Titus 1:2; 2:12, 13; 3:7). Thus, this proclamation of Christ among the Gentiles can only have to do with things surrounding that which had been revealed about the mystery — that the Gentiles are now “fellowheirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
The mystery has to do with believing Gentiles becoming “fellowheirs” with believing Jews, in the same body. And exactly how God brought this to pass is a central subject of the New Testament as one moves from the gospel accounts into the book of Acts and then into the epistles.
Revelation of the Mystery
Beginning with John the Baptist and continuing with the earthly ministry of Christ and His disciples leading into the events of Calvary, there was an offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel. However, Israel not only rejected the proffered kingdom, but the Jewish people climaxed this rejection by crucifying their King. And because of this, a few days before His crucifixion, Christ made an announcement with far-reaching ramifications. His announcement had to do with the kingdom, with Israel, and with a nation separate from Israel. His announcement anticipated that which is seen in God’s revelation of the mystery:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:43).
Then following Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, there was a reoffer of the kingdom to Israel (beginning on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. [Acts 2:1ff] and ending about thirty-two years later with Paul in Rome [Acts 28:17ff]). And this reoffer, of necessity, was made by the new nation to which Christ had previously referred, brought into existence immediately prior to that time when the kingdom began to be reoffered to Israel.
This new nation, separate from Israel, had to be brought into existence prior to the reoffer of the kingdom to Israel. Messiah Himself had gone back into heaven; and, since the kingdom had been taken from Israel, no one who was a part of the nation of Israel could possibly make this reoffer. Thus, another nation had to be brought forth, which would not only be placed in possession of the kingdom but could assume the responsibility of offering the kingdom to Israel once again. This new nation would now be the repository for the kingdom, as Israel had previously been the repository.
(Note though that the kingdom in view is not the whole of the kingdom, which has both heavenly and earthly spheres. Rather, that which is in view is the heavenly sphere of the kingdom only, the kingdom of the heavens — that part of the kingdom that had been offered to and rejected by Israel. The earthly sphere of the kingdom, the kingdom covenanted to David, can never be taken from Israel [2 Samuel 7:12-16; Luke 1:31-33].)
Thus, Acts chapter two centers on two events: 1) God bringing into existence a new nation, and 2) the beginning of the reoffer of the kingdom to Israel by this new nation. However, the emphasis in this chapter in Acts is not on God bringing into existence a people through whom the kingdom could be reoffered to Israel. This is simply the way in which this new nation is introduced. Rather, the emphasis is on God bringing into existence a nation that could be accorded opportunity to bring forth fruit for the kingdom where Israel had previously failed, even though God used this new nation for a time (for about the first thirty-two years of the dispensation) to reoffer the kingdom to Israel.
Revelation of the Mystery
Now, how does all this fit within the scope of the mystery? It is very simple. The mystery centers on the new nation to which Christ referred in Matthew 21:43, a few days prior to His crucifixion. And, after this new nation had been brought into existence, a full revelation of the mystery became necessary.
Only through such a revelation could numerous Old Testament Scriptures be opened up and properly understood. Thus, a few years following the events in Acts chapter two, God called one man out of the nation of Israel for this purpose. God called Paul, brought circumstances to pass that resulted in his conversion, later took Paul aside, and revealed the mystery to him. Then Paul took the revelation of the mystery that had been committed to his trust out into the Gentile world (cf. Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:11, 12, 16; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:28, 29).
That which had been committed to Paul’s trust had to do with a work begun by the Spirit a few years earlier. It was all part and parcel with the Spirit’s work surrounding the reason why He had been sent. In this respect, the mystery had to do with a work of the Spirit, peculiar to the dispensation in which we live. It had to do with a work surrounding the reason why the Father sent His Spirit into the world — to search for and to procure a bride for His Son.
And in order for the Spirit to procure a bride for God’s Son, He had to begin this work by first bringing into existence a people separate from either Israel or the Gentile nations. This was necessary for the simple reason that the bride couldn’t be taken from any existing nation — Israel, or the Gentile nations. Aside from Israel being the wife of Jehovah, that part of the kingdom in which the bride was to rule as consort queen with Christ had been taken away from Israel (Matthew 21:43); and the Gentile nations couldn’t even come under consideration, for they were alienated from God, without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12).
The preceding would be to say, apart from God bringing into existence an entirely new nation — which is looked upon in Scripture as one new man “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:13-15) — there could be no search for the bride by the Spirit during the present dispensation. Thus, the mystery had to do with a new and different work of the Spirit, which involved not only bringing this new nation, the one new man, into existence but leading the individuals comprising this one new man “into all truth.” It was a work that began on the day of Pentecost, fifty days following Christ’s resurrection; and it was a work that would continue throughout a 2,000-year dispensation.
The one new man “in Christ” is comprised of new creations “in Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-15). The key expression is in Christ. But the key to the whole of the matter, allowing that seen in the mystery to be realized — which pertains not only to the existence of the one new man but to the reason for his existence as well — is twofold: 1) the Spirit’s work throughout the dispensation (in relation to the one new man), and 2) Christ’s identity (a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah).
1) A New Nation
Because of God’s Own previous decrees, this new nation [Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10], brought into existence on the day of Pentecost, had to meet certain qualifications. God had previously decreed through Moses — some 1,400 years prior to the time Christ announced that another nation would be accorded opportunity to bring forth fruit for the kingdom — that all spiritual blessings were to flow through Abraham and his seed alone (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18). And it was not just any seed of Abraham. Spiritual blessings of this nature were limited to Abraham’s seed through Isaac: “…in Isaac shall your seed be called” (Genesis 21:12).
That would be to say, none of the Gentile nations could qualify to occupy the position spoken of in Matthew 21:43. And this would include even those Gentile nations which could trace their origin back to Abraham through either Ishmael or one of the sons of Keturah. These descendants of Abraham could be blessed because they were Abraham’s seed (Genesis 17:20; 21:13), but they could not be the channel through which these blessings would flow. A status of this nature was reserved for Abraham’s lineage through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons (cf. Genesis 21:12; 26:4; 28:14; 49:1ff).
It was God, in the person of His Son, Who made the announcement in Matthew 21:43. Certain things concerning how matters were to be brought to pass had already been revealed (e.g., Matthew 3:11; John 16:7-15), but the full revelation of that which had previously been revealed awaited events that occurred on the day of Pentecost, fifty days following Christ’s resurrection, as seen in Acts chapter two.
Since all spiritual blessings were to flow through Abraham and a designated seed of Abraham (through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons), it is clear that the nation of which Christ spoke in Matthew 21:43 had to possess this connection — i.e., not only be Abraham’s seed but be within the correct lineage as well. Apart from this dual connection, such a nation could not be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected, for blessings are involved. That is, individuals comprising this new nation were to one day hold the heavenly positions promised to Abraham’s seed in Genesis 22:17, 18, reside in heavenly places, and be the channel through which blessings would flow out to the Gentile nations of the earth from these heavenly places.
Then, not only must this new nation possess a connection of this nature with the seed of Abraham, but this new nation could not be of Abraham’s natural lineage. The kingdom had been taken from Israel, and any nation identified with Israel in a racial manner could only be looked upon as being part of Israel, part of the nation from which the kingdom had been taken.
How could such a nation be brought into existence? How could God bring into existence a nation that had the required genealogical connection with Israel, but yet not be a part of that nation?
God’s work in this respect is what is seen through the events in Acts chapter two. On this day, in 30 A.D., God, through a work of the Holy Spirit Who had been sent, brought into existence a nation with the proper Jewish identity, though not Jewish itself. God, on this day, brought into existence a nation possessing the proper lineage from Abraham, though separate from Israel.
How did God do this? It’s all very simple. A group of disciples — those who had believed on Christ, apparently the same one hundred twenty mentioned in Acts 1:15 [cf. Acts 2:1]) — were made one new man “in Christ” through being immersed in the Spirit (Acts 1:4, 5; 2:2-4; cf. Matthew 3:11).
And this new nation, brought into existence in this manner, forming the one new man “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-15), was seen to be comprised of individuals occupying a positional standing “in Christ,” constituting Abraham’s seed through the correct lineage (Galatians 3:28, 29). Christ is Abraham’s greater Son, through Isaac and Jacob (within the lineage wherein all spiritual blessings lie); and, through Jacob’s son, Judah, Christ is David’s greater Son (within the lineage wherein all regal promises lie).
This new nation, brought into existence on the day of Pentecost — possessing a positional standing “in Christ” — has the proper connection with Abraham to realize spiritual blessings, which extend into regal promises through David (with the two being inseparably linked). And this new nation, through being Abraham’s seed in this manner, is not part of the nation of Israel, from which the kingdom of the heavens was taken; nor is this new nation part of any Gentile nation, which can have nothing to do with spiritual blessings or the kingdom of the heavens in this respect.
Rather, this new nation is one new man, which is “neither Jew nor Greek.” In fact, within this new nation’s positional standing “in Christ,” all distinctions of the human race have ceased to exist. This new nation is also “neither bond nor free,” and “neither male nor female.” And because this new nation is none of the preceding, this new nation, “in Christ,” can be all which God requires. Because of the nature of this new nation, it can be looked upon as comprised of individuals who are “heirs according to the promise [which would be heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:28, 29).
2) A New Creation
Not only is this new nation described in Scripture as one new man, but Scripture further describes those comprising this one new man as new creations “in Christ.” And, in this respect, it is the existence of new creations “in Christ” that makes the existence of the one new man possible.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The key expression is “in Christ.” It is “in Christ” that old things have passed away. If the individual was a Jew before being immersed in the Spirit, placing him “in Christ,” then he is no longer a Jew. He has become a new creation “in Christ.” If the individual was a Gentile before being immersed in the Spirit, placing him “in Christ,” then he is no longer a Gentile. Rather, he (the believing Gentile), as the one who was previously a Jew, has become a new creation “in Christ.” And “in Christ” there is “neither Jew nor Greek,” but one new man.
The words concluding the verse, “all things have become new,” should literally read, “behold, he has become new.” That is, the individual, through the immersion in the Spirit, has become a new creation “in Christ.”
The words, “he has become,” are a translation of a perfect tense in the Greek text. This points to divine action occurring during past time, which exists during present time in a finished state. Nothing can be added to or taken from the Christian’s positional standing in Christ.
It is as the Spirit’s work effecting salvation itself — breathing life into the one having no life, on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary. A perfect tense is used relative to Christ’s finished work at Calvary (John 19:30), and a perfect tense is used relative to the work of the Spirit in salvation as well (Ephesians 2:8).
That is to say, everything surrounding the whole of the matter — one’s eternal salvation, and one’s positional standing “in Christ” — have to do with past divine works that presently exist in finished states. Nothing can be added; nothing can be taken away. Both a Christian’s eternal salvation and his positional standing in Christ are just as finished and complete as Christ’s finished work at Calvary, making it all possible.
3) Christ’s Body
Then there is another component part to the revelation of the mystery that must be brought to pass within the overall work of the Spirit during the present dispensation. Those comprising the one new man “in Christ” must also comprise Christ’s body, of which He is the Head. This must be the case, for the bride — the one for whom the Spirit searches during the present dispensation — has to be taken from Christ’s body.
This is set forth in a foundational type in the Genesis chapter two. And once God, in the beginning, had established the matter after this fashion through His sovereign control of all things, no change could ever occur. According to the type, the Spirit must acquire the bride from Christ’s body; and further, according to the type, the bride must be brought into existence from only a part of the body, not all of the body.
Adam was a type of Christ. Not only is all of the Old Testament about Christ, but Adam is specifically stated to be a type of Christ in Romans 5:14 (where the Greek word tupos [“type,” translated “figure,” KJV] is used of Adam, in relation to Christ).
Adam, in Genesis, was the first man, the first Adam; and Christ, 4,000 years later, was seen as the second Man, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-48).
Experiences surrounding Adam foreshadowed experiences surrounding Christ. There is an existing type-antitype relationship between the two. And any correct study about Christ must begin where God began, in the opening chapters of Genesis, not in the Gospel accounts of the New Testament.
To properly understand the antitype, one must have a proper understanding of the type. The truth of the matter, seen in the antitype, can be fully comprehended only through studying the type and the antitype together. This is the way in which God set matters forth in His Word, and one must study this Word after the manner in which it has been structured.
Accordingly, any proper study about the bride of the second Man, the last Adam, must begin in Genesis chapter two in order to see how God brought forth the bride of the first man, the first Adam. Only when this has been seen and understood does a person find himself in a position to properly see and understand things concerning how the bride of the second Man, the last Adam, will be brought into existence.
The first man, the first Adam, was put to sleep, his side was opened, and God removed the part (a rib) from Adam’s body that He used to form a bride for Adam (called “Woman” before the fall and “Eve” following the fall [Genesis 2:21-23; 3:20]). And the matter surrounding Adam’s creation, with Eve being removed and fashioned from his body in this manner, forms foundational truths that can never change — truths that must be seen in a parallel fashion in matters surrounding the second Man, the last Adam, and His bride as well.
Eve was created in Adam in the beginning. But it was only later that God put Adam to sleep, removed a part from his body, and formed Eve. Then, after God had formed Eve, He presented Eve back to Adam; and Eve was not only to be a helpmate for Adam, but Eve was to also complete Adam.
Apart from Eve, Adam was incomplete, for she was a part of his very being — bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh (Genesis 2:23). And when God presented this part of Adam’s being back to him, the first man was then, once again, a complete being.
(This same relationship between the man and the woman is seen in marriage today, reflecting back on that which occurred relative to Adam and Eve, and looking out ahead to that which is about to occur relative to Christ and His bride [Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Peter 3:7].
And this is why God doesn’t look lightly upon any form of perversion pertaining to this relationship [Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10]. A man cannot complete a man; nor can a woman complete a woman. Completion is derived only through the union of a man and a woman, and any deviation is a perversion that reflects negatively upon that which God has to say about Christ and His bride, which begins in Genesis chapter two.)
As in the type, so in the antitype. The second Man, the last Adam, was put to sleep (at Calvary), His side was opened, and from this opened side God took the elements (blood and water) that He is using to form the bride during the time of the Spirit’s present search. And, exactly as in the type, once the bride has been formed, the Father will present the bride to His Son for an helpmate (to rule with Him as consort queen, as Eve, in the type, was to have ruled as consort queen with Adam). And the bride, exactly as in the type, will complete the Son, for the bride will be a part of His very being (Hebrews 2:10).
And as the bride was created in Adam, so the bride of Christ has existed in the Son from eternity. It was only at points in time that the sides of both the first man and the second Man were opened, with the elements being removed, which God used to form Adam’s bride and which He is presently using to form Christ’s bride.
Thus, the one new man “in Christ” must form the body of Christ as well (Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 1:18), for the bride comes from the body in the type, which must hold true in the antitype. Everything set forth in the foundational framework in Genesis must hold true in the Spirit’s search for the bride throughout the present dispensation.