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Does "each several building" (Eph 2.21, RV) refer to individual assemblies?

Some good students of the New Testament among us would say, "Yes", to this question, but with respect and forbearance I must say I had not thought so. The RV margin renders the phrase "all the building" as "every building". Both may be possible, but we judge it is more in harmony with the truth emphasized in the context to keep the text as found in the AV. "All the building" signifies the structure of the building in every part of it. It would hardly be true or make sense to say that the Apostle means that the Church is made up of a number of different buildings. It is one building. The main emphasis in the closing verses of Ephesians 2 is on the unity of the Church. Already in the context Paul has written of the "one new man" (v.15), the "one body" (v.16), and the "one Spirit" (v.18). The building here, we believe, is the church of the whole age of grace. It is the same as is referred to by the Lord Jesus in His predictive declaration concerning the church: "I will build my church" (Mt 16.18).

It is true that the Apostle Paul refers to the local assembly as a building in 1 Corinthians 3.9, but there the building has to do with human responsibility and is therefore seen in the hands of men. In this building there is always the danger of failure. Thank God that the building of Matthew 16.18 and Ephesians 2.21 is in the hands of Christ and is therefore perfect and can never be destroyed. It is now in process of being built and will be a completed structure at the Rapture. This building is a spiritual structure. Ultimately it will be fitly framed together like the boards of the Tabernacle. Believers as stones built into it will fill their true position and function. The building has a lasting relationship with Christ, for it will never collapse. It is impregnable. It will be a place of beauty. The whole of it will reflect the glory of Christ. It will not only be in Christ, but it will be a temple wherein will dwell the living God. What a glorious future there is before the Church.

John J Stubbs

Please could you show from Scripture when, in the prophetic programme, the Old Testament saints are raised.

Paul, having declared, "For as in Adam all die", i.e. all mankind in association with Adam die, goes on to say, "…even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor 15.22). The "all" in the latter part of this verse refers only to believers who are seen as being "in Christ", identified with Him in death and resurrection. It should be noted that the expression "made alive" or "quickened" is never used of unbelievers.

In the verses (23-28) that follow, Paul unfolds the programme of God based upon the resurrection of Christ. He says, "But every man in his own order" (v.23) – this is one of the several military terms used in 1 Corinthians 15; it means "in order of rank". Here there are two orders:

1) "Christ the firstfruits" – He stands alone; He has the pre-eminence in resurrection. The title "firstfruits" brings to us the assurance that, just as He rose, so too believers who have died will rise.

2) "...afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming." Now Old Testament saints certainly are embraced by the term "they that are Christ’s", for they belong to Him, albeit they do not form part of the church, which is His body. N.B. "coming" (Gk. parousia) denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence. The coming referred to relates to His coming for His own, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself" (Jn 14.3), but it embraces the period between the Rapture and the Revelation. Thereby the saints who will be martyred in the days of the Tribulation will form part of this company; they are designated as taking part in the first resurrection (Rev 20.4-6).

The time of the resurrection of Old Testament saints is not explicitly given. It would either occur at the same time as the Rapture of New Testament believers [it is interesting that as to those Old Testament saints referred to in Hebrews 11, we read "that they without (i.e. apart from) us should not be made perfect", v.40], or between that time and the resurrection of tribulation martyrs.

To quote the words of J Hunter, "When Old Testament saints shall rise has been the subject of much controversy so it ill-becomes us to be dogmatic".

David E West


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