The Church: Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is the household of the living God and the Body of Christ. Both of these aspects of the church present to us the reality of New Jerusalem. The city is God’s eternal home in His millions of people, and these people are built together in His life just as the Body of Christ is one living entity.

Continuing to look at the nature of the church as a forerunner of New Jerusalem, we read, “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thes. 1:1). The church is “the church of God” (multiple verses) and the church is also “of human beings.” However, these humans are not natural, in Adam, but regenerated, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians, and all believers, are in God and the Lord by God’s action. “Of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:29-30). This is what the Lord promised earlier, in John 14. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (v. 20). “That day” is the day in which He became our life in resurrection (v. 19).

John 14:20 presents a coinherence: we are in God by being in Christ and God in Christ is in us. The church is both “of God” (as in Acts 20:28) and “of the believers” (as in 1 Thes. 1:1). Likewise New Jerusalem is composed of the Triune God in all His people and all His people in the Triune God.

New Jerusalem, like the church, is much higher, much more mysterious, much more marvelous than a physical city; it is a composition of the Triune God and His people living in oneness.

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The Church, Forerunner of New Jerusalem

The church is both singular, universal and plural, in many cities. The universal church includes all believers in the New Testament age. As such, it is the forerunner of New Jerusalem which includes all God’s people of the Old and New Testament ages.

Here we look at verses about the nature of the church, which also give us a view of the nature of New Jerusalem. First, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus speaks of “My church.” The church is His. Likewise, New Jerusalem is His. More specifically, it is His bride, His wife. An angel said to the apostle John, “I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb….and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10).

New JerusalemIn Acts 20:28 (and 1 Cor. 1:2, 1 Tim. 3:5, and other verses) is “the church of God.” The church, and New Jerusalem, are certainly of God as the source and of God as the element, the content (like “a table of wood” is made of wood).

In 1 Timothy 3:15 is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” And, in Hebrews 12:22 is “the city of the living God.” Both the church, the house, and New Jerusalem, the city, have the living God as their source and their element. Both the church and New Jerusalem are alive with the life of God.

The church is not a physical structure. Rather, the church, and New Jerusalem, are “the household of God” (many translations of 1 Tim. 3:15), the people of God. God is the element of New Jerusalem and we, His people, are the living components containing this living element. God is living and both the church and New Jerusalem are living organisms.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Enlargement from Here to New Jerusalem

New JerusalemThis is the summary of posts about the enlargement of God’s house, the church today, to God’s city, New Jerusalem. A link, a key sentence and a verse are presented for each post.

 First Timothy 3:15 tells us “the house of God is the church of the living God.” This house will be enlarged to be the city of God, New Jerusalem.

 The word church in the New Testament refers to the Lord’s corporate people, His mystical Body. In Ephesians 1:22-23 Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His Body.”

The church as the manifestation of God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16) is a foretaste of God manifest through New Jerusalem.

 The common New Testament Greek word for house means both the dwelling place and the dwellers; in 1 Peter 2:5, “You yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house”—we are God’s dwelling place, His house.

 The convergence of house and household, dwelling place and dwellers, is the New Testament reality, both now in the church and eternally in New Jerusalem; in Ephesians 2:19 we are “members of the household of God.”

 The church as the house of God and New Jerusalem as the city of God are both living entities, the building together of God’s people; “you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16).

We are the living house of God; “Christ was faithful as a Son over His [God’s] house, whose house we are” (Heb. 3:6); in eternity we will be God’s city, New Jerusalem.

  New Jerusalem, a cube (Rev. 21:16), is the eternal holy of holies, where God meets with His people and speaks with us face to face; this is a great enlargement from the Old Testament holy of holies.

 The enlargement of God’s house is by Christ’s growth in us. Colossians 2:19 tells us that by our holding the Head, Christ, His Body, which is also the living house of God, “grows with the growth of God.”

 In Colossians 2:16–3:4 the growth is by our experiencing Christ as the reality, by holding Him as our Head, by our mind set on things of Christ, by being governed by Christ Himself, and by letting Christ our life live in us.

The growth is also seen in Ephesians 3:16-19; Christ makes home in our hearts as we experience His death and resurrection.

 Ephesians 3:17-19 continues; as a result of Christ’s home-making, we are rooted and grounded in love, we together apprehend His vastness, and we are filled unto all the fullness of God.

Then in Ephesians 3:20-21 the growth and filling in the prior verses result in glory to God in the church and then in more glory to him in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10-11), all enabled by God in Christ as the power operating in us.

The New Testament tabernacle is God dwelling in humanity, first in Jesus Christ (John 1:14) and then greatly enlarged in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3).

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New Jerusalem: God’s Enlarged Household

Recent posts focus on “the house of God which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). This house is both the house of God and His family, His household. This convergence of house and household, dwelling place and dwellers, is the New Testament reality, both now in the church and eternally in New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe church is not a physical building; it is God’s New Testament people, in whom God dwells. In eternity New Jerusalem will not be a physical city; it will be all God’s people, in whom God dwells.

The convergence of house and household is seen in the Greek word oikos (prior post). Another Greek word commonly translated house is oikia (οικια). This word is also used for household:
• The father of a boy healed by Jesus “believed, he and his whole house” (John 4:53)
• “You know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia” (1 Cor. 16:15)
• “All the saints greet you, and especially those of Caesar’s household.” (Phil. 4:22)

Further verses about both the church and New Jerusalem being God’s people and His dwelling are:
• Galatians 6:10 “the household of the faith”
• Ephesians 2:19 we are “members of the household of God”
In Galatians 6:10, “The household of the faith refers to the children of promise (Gal. 4:28), all who are sons of God through faith in Christ (Gal. 3:26). All the believers in Christ together constitute a universal household, the great family of God.*”

God’s New Testament dwelling is consummated in New Jerusalem. God will expand and beautify what He is doing today to bring forth New Jerusalem. He will not return to the Old Testament picture of a physical building. New Jerusalem will be God’s eternal dwelling place in His people.

Related posts: Where is New Jerusalem? The Triune God and New Jerusalem

* Part of note 2 on Gal. 6:10 in The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © 2003 by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

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