– and the Divine Union
One of the signature aspects of the New Covenant’s “newness” is its realized interiority (fulfillment) within Christ and His Bride. This a massive eschatological shift from the OC experience of externals. It is precisely why Paul identifies the new covenant as “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:8). And why he specifically contrasts the letter (killing) with the Spirit (life-giving) v 6-7. It wasn’t merely the absence of the indwelling-Spirit that made the Law a killing ministry. It was that the Sinaitic Covenant, the nation, and the entire scope of the OC administration were external and temporary in nature. It was still fleshly. It was Adamic, carnal, and perishable seed. As such, the entire regime was dying and “being brought to an end”, even while still in its infancy (2 Cor 3:7, 11, 13). It had not yet died and been buried, sown in the ground. It had not been raised a new spiritual and imperishable body by the Spirit.
But now, as we examine the Scriptures we see that this is exactly what happened at the Cross. All that was old, fleshly, killing, Adamic, ineffectual, weak, worthless, condemning, and external perished with Christ, in his body on the cross. The OC externals are now dead and buried. And as He was raised in power with a glorified new spiritual body on the third day by the Spirit, so too has the entire body of the redemptive-covenantal patterns. Jesus is the Last Adam, the life-giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45) who caused all the temporary fleshly externals to become eternal spiritual internals, by His own resurrection from the dead.
The Old was perishable.
It was sown in Christ and was raised imperishable, in Him. It was sown in dishonor and raised in glory. It was sown in weakness and raised in power. It was sown a natural body and was raised a spiritual body. The Old has passed away; behold, the New has come (2 Cor 5:17)!
What this means for the New Covenant saints is that the covenantal/redemptive experience is no longer outside of us, existing externally and fleshly. It is now eschatologically new, having a spiritual embodiment that is located IN Christ, our resurrected head, and communicated to us and WITHIN us by His Spirit, as organic members of His Body. As Christ’s living members, we now possess a radical interiority within us that the OC community only possessed in external types and shadows. This NC reality is not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. So gloriously new is this “newness” that Paul even writes that we are not to regard Christ “according to the flesh” any longer (2 Cor 5:16).
The radical new interiority of the NC ministry is described in many ways throughout the apostolic record. Not only are there countless references to us being “In Christ” and “In Him”, but there is a mutual interiority, an inner communion at play that is often minimized or overlooked (John 14:20, 15:4, 17:21). As much as believers are “In Christ” and He in them, it is also true that because of their union to Him they have the New Covenant’s reality existing powerfully and actively “inside of them”.
Unlike the OC community, the NC saints can boldly say that they are “within” . . .
- Worded ( John 15:7, Rom 10:8, Col 3:16, 1 Thes 2:13, 1 Pet 1:23)
- Kingdomed (Luke 17:21, Rom 14:17)
- Immanueled/Dwelled (Rom 8:9-11, Eph 3:17)
- Taught/Counselled (John 6:45, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-15, 1 Thes 4:9, 1 John 2:27, Heb 8:11)
- Templed (1 Cor 3:16, Eph 2:20-22)
- Lawed (Rom 8:2, 1 Cor 9:21, 2 Cor 3:3)
- Christed (Matt 1:23, Gal 2:20, Col 1:27, 2 Cor 13:5, 2 Thes 1:12)
- Raised to Newness of Life (Rom 6:1-11, Col 2:12, 3:1)
- Sealed (Eph 1:13, 4:30)
- Worked (Phil 1:6, 2:13)
- Powered (2 Cor 4:7, 2 Cor 12:9, Eph 3:16-20, Col 1:11, Col 1:29, 2 Pet 1:3)
- Sprinkled (Heb 10:22)
- Assured/Joyed (Rom 15:13, Col 2:2, Heb 6:11, 10:22, 11:1)
- Renewed (2 Cor 4:16, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 4:23, Col 3:10)
- Washed (1 Cor 6:11, Eph 5:26, Heb 10:22)
- Reborn (John 3:3, 1 Pet 1:3, 1 Pet 1:23)
- Poured (Acts 10:25, Rom 5:5, Titus 3:5-6)
- Gifted (Rom 1:11, 1 Cor 12:1-11, 2 Tim 1:6, Heb 2:4)
- Illuminated (Matt 5:16, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:8, Phil 2:15)
- Circumcised (Rom 2:29, Col 2:11, Phil 3:3)
This dynamic of the NC should inform the entire the way we think about our living relationship to God, Christ, the Spirit, and his Word in this covenantal age. No longer is the covenant community ruled, coerced, or compelled from without by lifeless externals. We are now reigned powerfully from WITHIN by His living presence, Spirit, and Word. As such, we are not under the Spirit. We are led internally by Him. We are not under the Word, as an external body of regulating law. Rather, we are ruled by it from within, having become obedient from the heart (Rom 6:17). To be effectual in the life of the believer, the written Word must first be embedded in the fertile soil of the heart. The external written Word must be internalized in us to have its reigning power. And this activity of making the external things internal is the work of the Spirit alone, as we hear, study, fellowship, and meditate on the Scripture.
These mysteries are deep and profound.
But the grand purpose for this intimate spiritual-union (the mutual interiority and indwelling) in our relationship with our Living Head is to bring about the realization of the Divine Marriage. The marriage pattern was foreordained from the very beginning. The Bride is to become one flesh, one body, one singular Person, and one Spirit with her Redeemer Husband (1 Cor 6:17, Rev 19:7, 21:9, 22:17). Paul tells us that the pattern of marriage is a very profound mystery pointing explicitly to Christ and his Church (Eph 5:31-32).
When God said in the beginning, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . “ (Gen 1:26) the ultimate revelation of this heavenly Image was found, not in the creation of Adam and Eve, but in the divine union of the enfleshed Son, the Last Adam, and His Bride. Adam and Eve were merely a dim and imperfect picture of what was to come in glory and power at the end of the world, when the two would become one new Man/Body/Person (Gen 2:24, 1 Cor 12:12-13, Eph 2:15, 5:31). The witness from Scripture is clear about this, Jesus Christ “is the Image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15), “the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3). And the saints “are being transformed into the same Image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18), and are “predestined to be conformed to the Image of his Son” (Rom 8:29). And further, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the Image of the Man of heaven” (1 Cor 15:49), having “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the Image of its Creator” (Col 3:10).
From the beginning, God’s singular purpose for the marriage pattern was to foreshadow Christ and his Bride in the New Creation as the divine Image-Bearers (2 Cor 4:6, 5:17). The Bride is Christ’s very fullness (Eph 1:22-23), filling Him up. And mutually, She is also filled with His fullness (Eph 3:19, Eph 4:13, Col 2:10). As such, She shall be like Him (1 John 3:2), partaking of His very divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) and glory (1 Pet 5:1) and resurrection life (Rom 8:11, Eph 1:19-20). To this end, the redeemed Bride is brought within the very sanctity, the indwelling interiority, of the Trinity’s divine communion, in the Son. What a glorious mystery! And a redemptive love story of unfathomable proportions.
Understanding the marriage pattern as having a divine eschatological fulfillment in the incarnate Son of God’s union with his Body is no stretch of theological fancy. Rather, it is in perfect keeping with the entire Christological hermeneutic of the apostles, as they’ve also shown us that all of the other fleshly redemptive types that have taken on the very same spiritual/eschatological fulfillment. The New Covenant age is the age of the Spirit, whereby all that was external is now given a new spiritual substance/body/fulfillment in the Spirit. We now have a new Creation, Adam, Bride, Seed, Passover-Exodus, Lamb, Sacrifice, Covenant, Mt. Zion, Covenantal Writing (Spirit on hearts), Davidic King, Kingdom, Temple, Priesthood, Israel, Land/Rest, Heavenly Garden-City, etc. All of this has been made gloriously new in the Son! And it all becomes ours by a living faith-union to Him by the Spirit.
~ John Dunn