The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 2–3

New JerusalemNew Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Their marriage is in love. Ephesians 1 presents God’s love in the context of His purpose and all that He accomplished.

In contrast, chapter 2 begins with us being dead in our offenses and sins (2:1*). Nevertheless, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ” (2:4-5). God loved us before creation (1:4), and now, although we are in a fallen creation, He still loves us.

Because of this love, God was merciful to forgive us and to make us alive with Christ, to raise us up with Christ, and to seat us in the heavenlies with Christ (2:5-6). This is our salvation by God’s mercy and grace based on His love.

Now we are in position to experience the love of God. Paul prays that we be strengthened into our inner man so “that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith”
(3:16-17). By His making home in us, we are rooted and grounded in His love. This empowers us to apprehend the vast riches of Christ (3:17-18) and “to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ” (3:19).

In experiencing this love we are “filled unto all the fullness of God” that there may be glory to God in the church (3:19-21). This experiential love, filling, and glory all increase unto New Jerusalem.

*Verse numbers are in Ephesians.
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The Love of the Marriage of the Lamb Presented in Ephesians 1

A voice from heaven declares, “Let us rejoice and exult, and let us give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Then John told us, “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).

New JerusalemEphesians speaks about the church, God’s household, God’s kingdom, His temple, the body of Christ, one new man, and marriage. All of these point to New Jerusalem. Since New Jerusalem is a marriage, it is in love. Let us therefore look at love in Ephesians.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love”
(1:3-4*). Thus, the love of New Jerusalem originated in eternity past, as part of God’s eternal plan. In this love God predestinated us to be His sons (1:5) so that we may have His life to match His Firstborn Son for the eternal marriage.

In time we are touched by and enter into this eternal love. Paul commends the Ephesians, saying he “heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you and your love to all the saints” (1:15). These believers were already living in the eternal love of New Jerusalem.

*Verse numbers without a book name are in Ephesians.
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New Jerusalem; the Kingdom of God in Romans 14

Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Because New Jerusalem is the eternal kingdom of God, Romans 14:17 describes New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe first characteristic is righteousness. The beginning verses of Hebrews 7 say that Melchisedec, whose name means “king of righteousness,” is a type of the Son of God, who will be on the throne of New Jerusalem.

Christ, the king of righteousness, will be on the throne in New Jerusalem. Because of His reign and because all unrighteousness will be in the lake of fire, the new creation will be full of righteousness. This is Peter’s declaration, “According to His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

The second characteristic is peace. Melchisedec is “king of Salem” which means “king of peace.” Several epistles begin with grace and peace to us “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the New Testament peace is not merely external calmness nor lack of war; peace is Christ. “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14) now and eternally.

The third characteristic is joy. Again, Jesus is our joy. In John 16 He told His disciples that when He came to them in resurrection “your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”

Jesus Christ within us is the reality of righteousness, peace, and joy both today and in New Jerusalem. Today these are inward; then they will be both inward and outward.

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God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth (3)

God created the earth for His purpose. Through all His operation in time, God will gain the new earth with New Jerusalem for eternity. But, God did not create the world and there will be no world in eternity!

In the Bible, we find both “earth” and “world.” We might use these two words interchangeably, but in the Bible they are different. A primary Biblical meaning of “world” is an evil system arranged systematically by Satan. All the things on the earth, especially those related to mankind have been systematized by Satan into his kingdom of darkness to occupy people and frustrate them from accomplishing the purpose of God.*

New JerusalemBecause the world is negative, it needs to be judged. Jesus, looking forward to His crucifixion, said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Therefore, we can boast in “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” and by His cross we have been separated from the world. But before believing and receiving Christ Jesus and all He accomplished, we “once walked according to the age of this world” and were people “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:2, 12).

But now, in Christ, we have God and we have hope, even the hope of glory, the hope of participating in New Jerusalem. Through His death and resurrection we have been transferred from the world to God’s purpose for the earth with New Jerusalem as the goal.

* Part of footnote 2 on John 12:31 in the Recovery Version Bible, © 2017 by Living Stream Ministry. More about the Biblical meanings of “world.”
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New Jerusalem, not in the Natural Realm (2)

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Lord’s redeeming work on the cross, the Lord’s sanctifying/purifying work now, and His glorifying work at His return.  We see New Jerusalem by being carried away in spirit (out of the natural realm) onto a great and high mountain (above the level of our ordinary living).

To consider Revelation 21–22 as something natural is to miss the reality presented here. This is to repeat the error common in John’s gospel—interpreting or trying to grasp the Lord’s spiritual presentation by natural understanding. Here are more examples of this.

New Jerusalem• In 6:51-55 no one understood how the Lord could give us His flesh to eat for eternal life. But He spoke of the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
• In 8:32-34 He spoke about being free from the slavery of sin but the hearers thought only about human slavery.
• In 8:51-53 the Lord spoke about keeping His word to overcome eternal death but the hearers could only think of physical death.
• In 11:11-14 the Lord used sleep as a picture of death; the disciples thought of physical sleep and could not comprehend His word.
• In 14:7-11 the Lord told the disciples that they had seen the Father manifested in His living and doing, but they only thought of physical seeing.

New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church as the Body of Christ, His fullness (Eph. 1:22-23). New Jerusalem is also the consummation of the new man created by Christ in Himself (Eph 2:15), the holy temple growing in Him (2:21), and the dwelling place of God in spirit (2:22). Surely this is not in the natural realm. Lord, carry me away in spirit to see New Jerusalem!

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The New Testament Temple is Living (2)

#NewJerusalemIn resurrection, all who believe into Jesus Christ are a corporate man with the Spirit dwelling in them and are the temple which will be enlarged to become New Jerusalem.

This corporate man, the new man, who is also the living temple, was created by Christ Jesus on the cross (Eph. 2:15) and here Christ is “all and in all” (Col. 3:10-11). Likewise, New Jerusalem springs forth from His crucifixion and resurrection, and in New Jerusalem Christ is all and in all.

First Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In this verse you is plural and temple is singular. This corporate temple, like the new man, is a characteristic of God’s people. Paul’s question to immature Christians, Do you not know?, indicates that we all should have the realization that we corporately are the temple and that the Spirit dwells in us. Second Corinthians 6:16, affirming, says, “we are the temple of the living God.”

Ephesians 2:20-21 continues: “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” The New Testament temple is in Christ Jesus (not in the physical realm) and is growing because it is a living building.

The consummation of the growth of the living temple, its maturity, is New Jerusalem. Like the temple in Ephesians, the entire city of New Jerusalem is a living building in Christ Jesus.

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The Church; Forerunner of New Jerusalem

#NewJerusalemThe one universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age and is the forerunner of New Jerusalem, which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages. Verses about the nature of the church give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 1:22-23 speaks of “the church, which is His Body.” Colossians 1:18 speaks about Christ as “the Head of the Body, the church.” The church is not merely a collection of believers, and it is not a bunch of individuals. Much more, these believers are members of His living Body. Thus, Romans 12:5 says, “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” And Ephesians 5:30, “we are members of His Body.”

The Body of Christ is a living composition of all of us who have believed into Him. First Corinthians 12:12-27 presents our human body, composed of many members, as a picture of Christ’s spiritual Body composed of His believers. Just as the physical members are grown together in life from inception, so the members of the Body of Christ are joined in His life from regeneration.

This joining in life is not a recent event; it comes from the resurrection of Christ. He is the Head and we are His Body, made alive and raised together with Him (Eph. 2:5-6).

The Body of Christ is a wonderful living organism. God will not shrink back from this to something less for New Jerusalem. Like the Body, the whole city is one living organism, a single entity by birth in resurrection and growth in the divine, eternal life. New Jerusalem as a living organism is also a living person, the wife of the Lamb Jesus Christ.

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New Jerusalem is the Consummation of the Spiritual Growth of God’s People

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s growth in His people and His people’s growth into Him.

Ephesians 2:21, “All the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Ephesians 4:15, “Holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ.”

Ephesians 4:16, “…the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

Colossians 2:19, “All the Body, being richly supplied and knit together…grows with the growth of God.”

Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Versionpublished and © by Living Stream MinistryAnaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.orgthis too is © by Living Stream Ministry. Besides this New Testament, many books published by Living Stream may be read online.

New Jerusalem is Spiritual, not Physical

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem is the consummation of God’s New Testament building. Unlike the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, God’s people today are
• • • growing in the divine life
• • • being built together in Christ Jesus
• • • becoming a dwelling place of God in spirit
This building is growing unto New Jerusalem.

Ephesians 2:19-22, “You are…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.”

1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Christ is the Chosen, Precious, Living Stone

New JerusalemIn the gospels, the Lord depicts Himself as a Stone. His words should cause us to realize that stones in the New Testament, including those in New Jerusalem, are not physical but are living people.

“Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the head of the corner. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” By this word, spoken in Matthew 21:42, quoting Psalm 118,  the Lord tells us that He is the Cornerstone rejected by the Jewish leaders.

In Acts 4:10-12, Peter makes reference to this statement, telling the Jewish leaders that through death and resurrection, “This is the stone which was considered as nothing by you, the builders, which has become the head of the corner.” Here Peter is speaking about “Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” He is the Cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:20-21 proclaims “Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone; in whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” Here the Cornerstone is not only part of God’s New Testament building but is even the realm in which the building exists and grows.

In 1 Peter 2:4-8 Peter tells us further that the Lord is to us “a living Stone” and “a Cornerstone, chosen and precious,” but to the unbelieving He is “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

Because New Jerusalem is a city in and of resurrection, everything brought forth in the Lord’s resurrection is in New Jerusalem. This includes Him as the Stone, in which the building, including New Jerusalem exists.

A House and a City Built Together in Christ

New Jerusalem

Revelation is a book of signs (1:1). New Jerusalem is the consummate sign in Revelation and in the Bible. It is God and all His redeemed people living in mutuality.

Here is an excerpt* about New Jerusalem from the ministry of Witness Lee.

The New Jerusalem is not an actual city just as the lampstands are not actual lampstands but signs of the churches [Rev. 1:20]. The New Jerusalem is a great sign of the totality of all God’s chosen, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed people. The church today is a house, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15). The house of God today is not an actual house but the totality of God’s people. The church today as God’s temple, God’s house, God’s building, is not an actual physical building but is a sign signifying that the church’s function is to be a house in which the Triune God can dwell.

Today the church is a house, and in eternity the church will be enlarged. When the church is enlarged, it becomes a city. The church as a house is not an actual physical house in the same way that the church enlarged to be the holy city will not be an actual physical city. The New Jerusalem is a city signifying the church’s function in eternity to be God’s dwelling place.

The church today, all the believers in Christ Jesus built together in Him, is a precursor of New Jerusalem. Many verses in the New Testament present this view, and no verse treats the church as a physical building.

Ephesians 2:19-20 declares that we are “members of the household of God, being built…” We, not a physical structure, get built together. Verse 21 continues, “In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” We are being built together in Him, not in a physical location. Also, this building is growing because its essence is the divine life.

First Peter 2:4-5 tells us that “coming to Him, a living Stone…you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Very clear. This is the living house of the living God in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Other verses in the New Testament say the same: we are the materials being built together, the building process is growth in the divine life, and the building work is going on in Christ. These same characteristics are true of New Jerusalem, which is the consummation of all the building and growth in the Bible.

* Witness Lee, The Divine Economy, Chapter 15, published and © by Living Stream Ministry. Read more of this excerpt online. Many other books by Witness Lee may be read online here.

The Good News of the Riches of Christ

The apostle Paul received grace “to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel” (Eph. 3:8). These riches are for us to experience and express today and to be displayed by New Jerusalem.

The New Testament is filled with the gospel, the good news, of these riches. For example, in Matthew 9 Jesus Christ is our Physician, He is merciful to us, He is our Bridegroom, He is new wine for us, He raises us out of death, He heals our blindness and dumbness, He shepherds us, and He is the Lord of the harvest.

Another example: twenty riches of Christ in 1 Corinthians. Since the riches of Christ are “unsearchable,” for eternity in New Jerusalem we will explore and appreciate them.

This good news is conveyed by the chorus of a hymn by Witness Lee (words music):
New Jerusalem__O the riches, O the riches,
____Christ my Savior has for me!
____(or, Christ my Savior is to me!)
__How unsearchable their measure,
____Yet my full reality!

This thanksgiving and praise is our song now and will be our song in New Jerusalem. Regarding now, may the last verse of the hymn be our longing:
__May I know these boundless riches,
____Christ experience in full;
__And with others may I share them
____In their content bountiful.

As an application of this longing, consider Ephesians 2:4-6—God’s rich mercy and great love for us, and His enlivening, raising up, and seating us with Christ. May we experience each of these and share our appreciation with others. These are so that (2:7) God “might display in the ages to come (including New Jerusalem) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

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