THE ACCOMPLISHING OF THE RICHES OF CHRIST
Incarnation—Christ in the Flesh
Christ was originally the infinite God in eternity; in Him all the fullness of the Godhead was hidden (Col. 2:9). However, He became a finite man in time. This is the incarnate Lord Jesus. Before Christ was incarnated, He was only God without the element of humanity. After He was incarnated, He became not only united but also mingled with man. When the Lord Jesus was on the earth, He was not only the union of God and man but also the mingling of God and man. He was not merely God; He was a God-man. This incarnate Christ was a God-man and a man-God. He was both the complete God and the perfect man, with the divine nature and the human nature mingled together yet not producing a third nature.
Death and Resurrection—the Pneumatic Christ
This God-man, Christ, lived on the earth for thirty-three and a half years and died on the cross. Through His death He accomplished eternal redemption for us. Moreover, through His all-inclusive, overcoming death, He completely solved our problems, including Satan, the world, and all the old creation. Then He rose from the dead and was transfigured from the flesh into the Spirit. Although He is still Christ, the Christ after resurrection is different from the incarnated Christ who had not yet passed through death and resurrection. The incarnate Christ was in the flesh; He was the Lord Jesus who lived on earth. The Christ after resurrection has become the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b), the all-inclusive, omnipresent Spirit.
When we speak of Christ in the flesh, everyone understands correctly that this was the Lord Jesus who lived on the earth. The Lord Jesus was the Christ in the flesh; the two were one. No one would understand that the flesh was one person and Christ was another. But when we speak of the pneumatic Christ, many easily misunderstand and think that the Spirit is one person, while Christ is another. This is because of the influence of traditional theology.
Kittel, the famous German expert on expounding the biblical Greek, put out a lexicon defining more than five thousand six hundred Greek words in the New Testament. He wrote in this lexicon that Christ became the pneumatic Christ after His resurrection. The word pneumatic is an adjective from the Greek word pneuma. Pneuma can be translated as “spirit,” “breath,” or “wind.” In John 3, when the Lord and Nicodemus were discussing regeneration, the Lord said that that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. He also said that the wind blows where it wills. The word for Spirit and for wind are both pneuma. “The pneumatic Christ” refers to Christ as the Spirit.
After His resurrection, Christ did not transfer from one form to another. Rather, He was transfigured, changed in form. This may be likened to a seed that is planted into the ground. When it grows up as a little sprout, it is changed in appearance. Originally it was round, brown, and small, but after it grows up out of the ground, it becomes long, green, and tall. The substance remains the same, but the form is different.
The Lord Jesus Himself as a grain of wheat was sown into the ground, died, and then resurrected. In 1 Corinthians 15 when Paul spoke concerning the body of resurrection, he said that what is sown is one kind of body, but what grows up will be another kind of body. This does not mean that there are two bodies, but that the shape has changed. In this same chapter, Paul also said that the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. The last Adam was the grain of wheat; the life-giving Spirit was the green ear of wheat. After this grain of wheat was resurrected, it became a green ear of wheat. Thus, it flowed out the supply of life, bearing fruit thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.
(Christ in His Excellency, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)