Paul continued Peter’s work. This is why he said he was a master builder to build up the house. We all know that many teachings, doctrines, and expressions of God’s purpose are found in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. The main subject of Ephesians is God’s house. Things had been brought into the house from the outside; now there was the need to put them in order and decorate the house. All of Paul’s work was for the purpose of decoration. For example, the book of Romans deals with justification, victory, and obedience. These are not ways to enter into God’s kingdom. They are just the carvings, the modifications made on the model. Paul’s concluding word is an exhortation to offer oneself and turn fully to God. In the books to the Corinthians, Paul went on to tell us what we should do after we have become subject to God and have entered into God’s kingdom. He began to tell us about things related to the meetings, the Lord’s table, marriage, communication, receiving, fellowship, and many other procedural matters. He was holding his scissors and was ready to cut some cloth to shape it into some unique form according to specific guidelines. Everything in the house has to be placed in the proper place. What does this mean? This means that the house must be arranged to the point where it will express God’s nature. Whether a man is clean or dirty can be shown by the way he manages his house. A person’s house is a representation of his character. No other place can expose a person more thoroughly and clearly than his own house. Suppose the books on your shelves are in chaos, and fruit peelings, seeds, and garbage are all over the floor. Suppose the beds are not made in the morning but are piled up like lumps of dough, and the desk is covered with a thick layer of dust. If one of your friends comes in to look at your room, he will clearly see what kind of person you are. You are not exposed when you go to another person’s home; but in your own house everything expresses your entire being and naturally exposes your true self. Because your house is the place where you rest and the place in which you abide, you are exposed clearly and thoroughly there. Peter’s testimony makes you a person of God’s kingdom; it brings you under the authority of God’s mighty hand. Peter did not care about the details. There was no need for him to take care of those things that were not within the scope of his work. Paul was the one who followed Peter and took care of this work. Look how detailed Paul was in his work. He mentioned how a husband and a wife should love each other, how a master and servant should treat each other, how brothers should love each other, and so forth. All these matters are in regard to the things a person ought to do in God’s house; they show us what is acceptable to God. Not only did he deal with the earthly things, but he also dealt with the things concerning spiritual fellowship, such as meetings, baptism, gifts, the Lord’s table, ministry, and all the arrangements within the church. He was indeed a designer and decorator.
Ephesians 2:22 says, "You also are being built together into a dwelling place of God." We see clearly from this verse that the church is the house of God. Each believer is a part of this house, being knit together to become a house. Every person is like a piece of brick, wood, or tile; everyone should manifest the nature of God before he can be built up to become God’s house. God put this before us to show us that, as pieces of wood in God’s house, we should fulfill our duty and express God’s nature.
After we have Peter’s foundation and Paul’s building, is this enough? Are the things of God completed simply by the two lines represented by these two men? No! Another one, John, comes in.
John spoke about our relationship with God. These are things that concern the family of God. His testimony was full of life, and he never spoke about anything outward. Can you find anything in his letters that speaks about the way to be an elder, the way to pay taxes, or the way a woman should cover her head? Regarding individual behavior, the only thing he said was that we should love one another; he said nothing else. Simply stated, John’s testimony was fully in the Holy of Holies, full of spiritual reality. He never touched outward matters. He kept speaking about the things which are true, the deepest things. This is why the word life appears frequently in his Epistles and in Revelation. His specialty was to recover matters after they failed. This is because at the time John wrote his Epistles, apostasies abounded. Many false prophets and false Christs had arisen. Men had overthrown God’s kingdom and taken God’s house as their own. They held onto only superficial forms and had no reality. Therefore, John came to speak about the inward thing, life. Men can overthrow God’s kingdom or God’s house, but life can never be overthrown; it will always be there. Once a person has this reality, it is enough. John’s testimony is for the latter days and leads men to their innermost being to see what kind of God we have.
I will briefly analyze these three lines. Peter spoke about a new realm, Paul spoke about new laws, and John spoke about a new relationship, which is the relationship between father and sons. How many times did he mention fathers, young men, and little children in his Epistles? All these are members in a family and are related to each other. Paul spoke about the laws in the new position, how to be subject to God and express God’s nature. John simply talked about fathers, young men, and little children. What is this? This is the growth in God’s family. The whole New Testament can be divided into these three lines. To find the line of the kingdom, we only have to read Matthew, 1 and 2 Peter, Mark, and a part of Hebrews. To find the line of the church, Paul’s Epistles are the most complete. At the same time, John’s Epistles are all on God’s family. I must clarify, however, that this classification is not absolute. I am simply pointing out the areas that each one stressed.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 19: Notes on Scriptural Messages (3), Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)