The Dispensation of the Mystery

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This dispensation or plan by which God is now dealing with man is called the “Dispensation of the Mystery” (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:25-26), because it was a secret purpose which God kept concealed in His own heart until He revealed it through the apostle Paul. It is also called the “Dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 3:2), because it is based wholly and solely upon pure, unmixed grace.

Some have supposed that the mystery is merely that Gentiles would be saved; but this is no mystery, because Gentile salvation was clearly revealed and predicted throughout the Old Testament. The mystery is that God has opened up a new channel of blessing for the nations in place of Israel, and that God is now by His grace taking believing Jews and Gentiles and baptizing them by His Spirit into a joint-body, making them joint-heirs and joint-partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel (Ephesians 3:6).

Charles F. Baker (1905-1994)
God’s Clock of the Ages (1937)
(abridged excerpt)
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His Body, His Complement

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The sovereignty over the Earth is given to the nation of Israel, according to the prophets. The sovereignty over the Celestials is the portion of the Ecclesia which is His Body. Between the two the entire universe is brought under the administration of Christ. Thus, His Body is the plērōma, or complement, which fills up the lack which the Earth’s deliverance would still leave in the Celestial realms.

Its function is to fulfill God’s purpose for the entire Universe, only part of which He is able to accomplish through His people Israel.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
The Concordant Commentary on the New Testament, (page 289)
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The Full Christ

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His allotment among the saints (Ephesians 1:18 CV).

We have Christ – a full Christ – Image of the Invisible God, Splendor of His glory. We need, the church needs, the universe needs ALL that God has made Him to be. And all that Christ is, and has, is here [in Ephesians] for us in faith. We have Christ, and we have the Church – a completed Church, a Body without a missing member, not a single gap in its ranks – all completed in the plērōma of Christ their Savior and Head. A full Christ; a completed church; and an entire creation. Grace has first come down in and through Christ to the church; then through the church into creation; and now it returns in the form of glory through the church to Christ, and through Christ to God.

Theology views creation as God’s speculation which makes an eternal torture-house, or else an eternal tomb, out of a portion of His Universe. It would seem to be the inevitable cost of any gamble. But this verse would rather show that God’s investment in creation will yield Him large returns in destiny when the incense of glory beyond glory ascends from Christ, Creation and the Church in the eon of the eons.

Alan Burns (1884-1929)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 11 (1920)
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A Perfect Body for the Christ

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[In the taking of Eve from Adam and rejoining her as one with him] we have the divine illustration of our union with Christ. Though it seems beyond belief, He is incomplete without us. We were chosen in Him before the disruption and now we become one with Him in redemption. The ecclesia is His complement or fullness. It takes both to make a perfect Body for the Christ. The transcendent nature of this grace can be absorbed by only mature meditation. May we have grace to enjoy it fully!

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
The Building of Woman
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 11 (1920)
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Filling the Redemptive Gap

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We are Christ’s Body, the fullness, or plēroma, which rounds out the universe completely. Hitherto redemption had provided only for the recovery of Earth’s lost blessings. Heaven, where sin started, was not, it seemed, to be reached by the work of the cross. A segment of the Universe was still unfilled. The “church which is His Body” fills the gap. Thus, it is “the fullness that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 2 (1910)
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Rounding Out the Universe

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And gives Him the Headship over the whole Ecclesia which is His Body, the complement which is culminating the Universe, in all parts (Ephesians 1:22-23).

In the heavenly Headship we, the members of His Body, will administer the stellar Universe because we too, in Him, are “christs.” God has anointed us (II Corinthians 1:21) and He will administer the Universe through us who believe. We, as this verse puts it, are the complement that rounds out the universe.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 7 (1916)
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Christ’s Executive in Ruling the Entire Universe

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Only Ephesians gives us the grand truth that it [the One Body] is the complement of Christ with respect to His Celestial place, and will be His executive in ruling the entire Universe (Ephesians 1:22-23). It could not be revealed [prior], for the secret of Christ’s universal headship had not been made known. [The book of] Acts gives Him no sovereignty in Celestial realms. So far as its testimony goes, He has no kingdom until He returns to Earth, and will have none elsewhere.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 18 (1927)
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Rounding Out the Subjection of the Universe

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In the eons to come, just as Israel, as the Bride of the Lambkin, will share His terrestrial honors, and administer the Kingdom on the Earth, so will we partake of His Celestial dignities, and administer the realms above. His universal Headship is by the Ecclesia which is His Body, the complement which, in all things, completes the Universe.

The restoration and rule of the Earth by means of Israel would by no means bring all of His creatures back to God. Earth is far from being the whole of God’s creation, nor are its denizens all of His intelligent creatures. We have not been given any definite idea as to the size or population of the Universe, for it is probably so vast that human words would fail and human minds be utterly inadequate to comprehend its infinitude. So that much, indeed, remains of rule after the Earth has been made subject to His scepter. Our realm, our sovereignty, seems boundless in extent, for there is naught except the earth outside of it.

That which was missing to round out the subjection of the Universe is supplied by us. Now we can look back and see why it was that Israel was made stubborn, and the nations called. We can see why the destiny of a few Israelites was changed, a step at a time, from the Earth to the air, and from the air to the Celestial realms. God needs a specimen to exhibit the excellence of His grace to the Universe, and especially to the Celestial beings who otherwise could never learn the power and preciousness of His love. With a master hand and heart He has wrought His wonderful display on the black background of human misery and sin, which alone can adequately set forth the deathless splendor which will be our glorious heritage in the eons of the eons. We are the greatest achievement of God’s grace in order to be the grandest display of His glory.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 28 (1937)
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Participating in His Political Supremacy

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Christ is seated at the right hand of God, the highest political position in the Universe. He outranks every sovereign and authority, every power and every lordship. His peerless name has the precedence over every other in Heaven as well as on Earth. All must be subject to Him. The marvel for us is that this supremacy, this Headship over all, is His as Head of His Body, the Ecclesia. We, as members of this spiritual organism participate in His political supremacy. We are His complement, the needed staff through whom He will administer His universal government. Just as in the earthly sphere, the chosen nation will be associated with Him in the rule of the whole Earth, so we will be one with Him in His reign over the rest of the Universe (Ephesians 1:20-23).

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 41 (1950)
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