The Wife, the Bride and the Body (συσσωμα)
Salvation is by grace but where do we realize our salvation, with what company and in what part of the Christ’s realm? God’s kingdom is vast and we can expect that God would have many companies of people to rule and take part in His administration. It is easy to locate the wife (Israel), the bride (overcomers) and the joint body (the church of which Christ is head). The last group and its hope is expounded in the special prison ministry of PAul.
What is interesting is that there are other groups as well. It is instructive to examine these groups and perhaps understand more of God’s mind concerning our particular inheritance and to discern some practical principles that we all can learn from.
There is one particular group that all Christians are to some degree familiar with – the disciples. It may be a shock to you but they are not a part of the bride. They are in fact children of the bridechamber and as such cannot be in the bride since the metaphor does not allow for it. They cannot be children of the bridechamber and members of the bride. The word for bridechamber is νυμφών and appears only three times:
Mt 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber <3567> mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Mr 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber <3567> fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
Lu 5:34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber <3567> fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
The circumstances for each of these are different, but it is clear that the disciples were not fasting and yet the disciples of John were. The disciples, (including Matthias and excluding Judas) will have their place at the marriage supper of the Lamb and will look forward to their administration in the Kingdom sitting on 12 throwns judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28). However the marriage is between the bridegroom (Christ) and the bride (overcomers) while the children of the bride chamber (the 12) look on.
To fast or not to fast that is the question!
Christ responded to the questions posed to him in much the same way in each case mentioned above. In Mat. 9:14 we get an insight into the knowledge John’s disciples had concerning Christ by examining their question:
14 ¶ (AV) Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
14 (TR) τοτε προσερχονται αυτω οι μαθηται ιωαννου λεγοντες δια τι ημεις και οι φαρισαιοι νηστευομεν πολλα οι δε μαθηται σου ου νηστευουσιν
Notice, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but the disciples fast not” The disciples of John would fast and wanted to know why the Lord’s disciples did not.Whatever, belief they did hold to it was not perfect and the Lord was instructing them. Indeed later we read also of John the Baptist himself:
Lu 7:20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
The disciples of John needed a knowledge update. This is not surprising since the Lord states in Mt 10:24 “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord”. It would be a surprize if the disciples of John were more knowledgable than their master.
Leaders clearly have a responsibility before the Lord to find the correct spiritual economy, correct teaching gives rise to correct practice. While the economy was such that the Lord was present, it would be inappropriate to fast, the spiritual economy was not discerned and known by John and his disciples.
Mat.9:15 (AV) And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
New wine into New bottles
The Lord likens this dispenstaional error to putting new into old
16 (AV) No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
16 (TR) ουδεις δε επιβαλλει επιβλημα ρακους αγναφου επι ιματιω παλαιω αιρει γαρ το πληρωμα αυτου απο του ιματιου και χειρον σχισμα γινεται
Here the new is an unfulled, raw piece of woollen cloth. The result is the rent is worse.
17 (AV) Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
17 (TR) ουδε βαλλουσιν οινον νεον εις ασκους παλαιους ει δε μηγε ρηγνυνται οι ασκοι και ο οινος εκχειται και οι ασκοι απολουνται αλλα βαλλουσιν οινον νεον εις ασκους καινους και αμφοτερα συντηρουνται
The leather bottles will break, the contents run out and the bottles perish. This is what happens when we put new into old. If you place the post Acts 28 new man into mid-Acts we will make Bible exposition more difficult, confuse things that differ and ultimately destroy what we would like to accomplish.
Mid-Acts or Acts 28?
The only way we can preserve both bottle and the wine is to put new into new. This can only occur if we allow the Acts to run its course and see the end of the book of Acts to be where Israel was judged and the salvation of God sent to the Gentiles. Under these circumstances new can be placed into new.