The Spirit in the Epistles, by Witness Lee


After Galatians is the book of Ephesians. Galatians is concerning Christ as our life, whereas Ephesians is concerning the expression of Christ, which is the church. Once again, in Galatians we see that Christ is our life, while in Ephesians we see that the church is the expression of Christ. When Christ lives in us, the church appears. What is the church? The church is the corporate expression of Christ. Ordinarily, we pay too much attention to individually expressing Christ. Please remember, however, that in the Bible the emphasis is not on the expression of Christ individually but on the expression of Christ by the church as a corporate vessel.

Therefore, in the book of Ephesians various kinds of expressions are used to describe how the church is the expression of Christ. The first expression is that the church is the Body of Christ (1:23a). A man’s body is his expression. Today every one of us is expressed through our body. I know all of you by your bodies, and you also know me by my body. If today none of us had a body, and only our souls were here, there would be no way for us to express ourselves.

Then the book of Ephesians also says that the church is the fullness of Christ (v. 23b). Fullness also means expression. Following this it says that the church is the building of Christ (2:20-22). Christ Himself is the cornerstone, and this building is joined together with Him. Then it says that the church is His bride (5:22-32).

The book of Ephesians uses at least these four expressions to portray what the church is to Christ. The church is the Body of Christ, the fullness of Christ, the building of Christ, and the bride of Christ. These four expressions show us that the church is the enlargement of Christ. The church comes out of Christ; she is not only joined to Christ but is the increase of Christ. Concerning these we all have a certain amount of understanding. It is sufficient that we only point these out in brief.

However, Ephesians also shows us that the reason that the church can be all these to Christ is altogether due to the fact that the church is in the Spirit. Therefore, the Spirit is particularly mentioned many times in Ephesians. The church can be Christ’s Body, fullness, building, and bride because the church is altogether produced in the Spirit. Hence, today the church must be in the Spirit and live in the Spirit.

Remember that Ephesians says at the beginning that all the blessings God has given us are spiritual. Being spiritual means being in the Spirit. Then it shows us that the Spirit of God came into us as a seal and as a pledge. By His entering into us, the Spirit of God impressed God Himself as a seal in us. God Himself in us is the seal. In this way we were made God’s inheritance. After speaking this word, the apostle immediately prayed, asking God to grant us a spirit of revelation. We need such a spirit to know the church as the mystery of Christ.

Chapter 2 speaks even more strongly concerning the spirit. It says that the house is fundamentally being built in spirit. If it were being built in the flesh, it would be virtually impossible for the Jews and the Gentiles to be built together, because in the old creation the Jews are simply Jews, and the Gentiles are simply Gentiles. But now they are in one spirit and have therefore become one Body. Today, in order to know the church, we have to know the spirit and to live in spirit. Only in spirit can there be the Body, and only in spirit can there be the building.

Chapter 3 says that it is altogether by being in spirit that we are able to see the vision, the mystery, and the revelation. Verse 5 of chapter 3 says, “It has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in spirit.” The Chinese Union Version rendered in spirit as “through the Holy Spirit.” Actually, it is difficult to say whether the word spirit used in such a place denotes the Holy Spirit or our spirit. To be sure, this is the mingled spirit of two spirits, as we mentioned before. It is in this spirit that we are able to perceive and understand the mystery of Christ and the church.

Then the last half of chapter 3 says that God would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in our hearts and that we may be filled unto all the fullness of God. This is also altogether a story of the spirit.

In chapter 4 the Body is mentioned. This is also due to the fact that the Spirit is in the church. Therefore, the oneness of the Body is the oneness of the Spirit. For this reason, we must be in the Spirit. This shows us that this Spirit will work in us subjectively to such an extent that He will occupy our mind to become the spirit of our mind. Remember that this is the accurate translation of 4:23. It is not as the Chinese Union Version says, “that you be renovated in your will”; rather, it should read “that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Now this spirit has become the spirit of the mind. When we are in the spirit of our mind, we are renewed.

Chapter 4 also mentions that this Spirit is the Spirit who comes into us as a seal and as a pledge. Our body has not been transformed yet, but we have already been sealed within with such a seal. Our body has not yet been redeemed, but we have already been given this pledge, this security, as a guarantee that one day our body will also be transformed, be redeemed. Thus, we will be transformed from the inside to the outside to be the same as the God of glory.

Chapter 5 says that we must be filled in spirit. We must be full of the Holy Spirit in our spirit. Then chapter 6 says that we need to pray in the spirit. This prayer means breathing. Today we need to breathe in the spirit so that we may be able to fight in the spirit.

By going over Ephesians in this way, we will realize that we have not paid much attention to the spirit in our regular preaching of the word. What we have been speaking mostly are the peripheral, superficial things; we have not touched the center. We merely talk about the frame; we do not talk about the life within. Very often we gave messages from the book of Ephesians, yet we did not touch the Spirit. This is wrong. The essence of Ephesians is also our spirit. According to Galatians, in order to let Christ be our life and to live by Christ, we must be in the spirit. According to Ephesians, in order for the church to be the manifestation, the expression, of Christ, she must live in the spirit. Galatians shows us how we have Christ as our life in the spirit and how we live by Him in the spirit, while Ephesians shows us how the church must be in the spirit to be the manifestation, the expression, of Christ. All these are altogether in the spirit.

(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)