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The Head Metaphor and Mid-Acts


Some who defend the mid-Acts position say that “because Christ is the head of the church present in the book of Acts and is also the head of the church that is mentioned by Paul from prison that we cannot assume any fundamental difference between these two companies” — I am quoting because I don’t believe their assumptions are correct nor do I believe their conclusions are correct.

The english word “head” is translated from the greek word  κεφαλή and is used in the new testament in 68 verses. It is fairly frequent, however when we look at the usage in the epistles of Paul we find that there are only 13 verses where it is used and in some cases multiple times per verse.

Ro 12:20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head <2776>.
1Co 11:3  But I would have you know, that the head <2776> of every man is Christ; and the head <2776> of the woman is the man; and the head <2776> of Christ is God.
1Co 11:4  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head <2776> covered, dishonoureth his head <2776>.
1Co 11:5  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head <2776> uncovered dishonoureth her head <2776>: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
1Co 11:7  For a man indeed ought not to cover his head <2776>, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
1Co 11:10  For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head <2776> because of the angels.
1Co 12:21  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head <2776> to the feet, I have no need of you.
Eph 1:22  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head <2776> over all things to the church,
Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head <2776>, even Christ:
Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head <2776> of the wife, even as Christ is the head <2776> of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Col 1:18  And he is the head <2776> of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head <2776> of all principality and power:
Col 2:19  And not holding the Head <2776>, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

After looking at all these passages we find that Paul uses the word in a number of different contexts. The question we need to address is — does Paul use the metaphor of Christ as the head of a church in the same way? Also, we need to examine how we should make logical deductions from these texts.

First some observations. Rom. 12:20 will not be important for our current discussion. That leaves the following contexts:

  1. 1 Cor 11 – Headship: God->Christ->Man-Woman
  2. 1 Cor 12 – the body of Christ in the Acts
  3. Eph. 1:22, Col 1:18 – the body of Christ post Acts 28
  4. Eph. 4:15, Col 2:19 – Practical “holding the head”
  5. Col 2:10 – Christ head over all principality and power
  6. Eph 5:23 – Headship in marriage

It becomes clear that we would be mistaken to take the headship of 1 Cor 11 and expect that if Christ is head over man that means that Christ is head over the Acts period church. Lets tease this out a little further — 1 Cor 11: 3 says that the head of the man is Christ BUT the head of the woman is the man! So if we now jump contexts and move into 1 Cor 12 and push this idea here we would have that Christ is the head over the manly church and the women in the church only have men as their head. This would not be the same as saying that Christ is the head of the church unless you believe that the church consists solely of males.

It becomes quite clear that God is using a head metaphor in 1 Cor.11 which we must not import into another context found say in 1 Cor. 12. We could compare it with point 6, headship in marriage and see similarities and conjunctions. 

Differences can be instructive if we can find other portions of the argument the same or similar. Take for example points 2 and 3. In both cases there is an assembly in mind, in 1 Cor 12 it is the corinthian assembly and the other in Eph. 1:22, Col 1:18 it is the universal church of this age. Well they are both assemblies of a kind but they are also very different in scope. Lets see more differences, in 1 Corinthians the metaphor of the body is used where the members in particular are distinguished by their God given gifts (supernatural) we are not talking about the gift to play the piano or the gift to perform carpentary or some other trade that must be learnt and where creative”gifts” are perfected with study and hard work. The body of christ mentioned in 1 Cor 12 is a head with the torso. Members of this body are found in the torso and head (eye etc).

10  (AV) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
10  (TR) αλλω δε ενεργηματα δυναμεων αλλω δε προφητεια αλλω δε διακρισεις πνευματων ετερω δε γενη γλωσσων αλλω δε ερμηνεια γλωσσων

11  (AV) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
11  (TR) παντα δε ταυτα ενεργει το εν και το αυτο πνευμα διαιρουν ιδια εκαστω καθως βουλεται

12 ¶  (AV) For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
12  (TR) καθαπερ γαρ το σωμα εν εστιν και μελη εχει πολλα παντα δε τα μελη του σωματος του ενος πολλα οντα εν εστιν σωμα ουτως και ο χριστος

13  (AV) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
13  (TR) και γαρ εν ενι πνευματι ημεις παντες εις εν σωμα εβαπτισθημεν ειτε ιουδαιοι ειτε ελληνες ειτε δουλοι ειτε ελευθεροι και παντες εις εν πνευμα εποτισθημεν

So during this time a body was formed and the members were different according to their gifts. The metaphor of the body here is that members can take various parts even uncomely ones. Important for us to note however is that members could be parts of the head! We cannot put the members into the head of man 1 Cor. 11:3, this would make members (men and women) the head of man. Logic should prevail in this. We must allow that the Spirit uses metaphors in different ways, our job is to understand this and to separate what he separates and join what he joins. 

In Ephesians we have no gifts of the Spirit that define the membership and further Christ is the head and the church is the body where body means the torso. This is how God made the metaphor.

To say that there are two bodies of the same species is simply wrong and deceptive, there is one species of body in the acts and another post acts — that is there are two different body metaphors God has used in relation to two different assemblies. The head is used very differently. But it takes a spirit of revelation to be imparted to readily see these things and this we pray will happen.

Eph. 1:17  (AV) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
17  (TR) ινα ο θεος του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου ο πατηρ της δοξης δωη υμιν πνευμα σοφιας και αποκαλυψεως εν επιγνωσει αυτου

18  (AV) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
18  (TR) πεφωτισμενους τους οφθαλμους της διανοιας υμων εις το ειδεναι υμας τις εστιν η ελπις της κλησεως αυτου και τις ο πλουτος της δοξης της κληρονομιας αυτου εν τοις αγιοις

19  (AV) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
19  (TR) και τι το υπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυτου εις ημας τους πιστευοντας κατα την ενεργειαν του κρατους της ισχυος αυτου

20  (AV) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
20  (TR) ην ενηργησεν εν τω χριστω εγειρας αυτον εκ νεκρων και εκαθισεν εν δεξια αυτου εν τοις επουρανιοις

21  (AV) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
21  (TR) υπερανω πασης αρχης και εξουσιας και δυναμεως και κυριοτητος και παντος ονοματος ονομαζομενου ου μονον εν τω αιωνι τουτω αλλα και εν τω μελλοντι

22  (AV) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
22  (TR) και παντα υπεταξεν υπο τους ποδας αυτου και αυτον εδωκεν κεφαλην υπερ παντα τη εκκλησια

23  (AV) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
23  (TR) ητις εστιν το σωμα αυτου το πληρωμα του παντα εν πασιν πληρουμενου

 The Church is the body and Christ is the head! This is NOT found anywhere in the book of ACTS! If you start the universal assembly of which we (believers in the gospel of the unsearchable riches of christ) are a part in the book of Acts then we must ask — where is this body? Where are the members that differ through their gifts of the Spirit?

Acts 28 marks the boundary! Mid-Acts only brings confusion and will in the end lead to faith that is shipwrecked.

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