The Economy of God and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, by Witness Lee


Christ has died and has resurrected. In John 10:18 He said of His life, “No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again.” On the one hand, He suffered the pain of death. On the other hand, He entered death to have a tour of Hades. Because death could not hold Him down, He came out of death and entered into resurrection. In resurrection He was begotten the firstborn Son of God, with both the divine nature and the human nature (Acts 13:33). In eternity Christ was the only begotten Son of God, with divinity only, having no humanity with Him. After He became flesh, He put on humanity. But at that time, His humanity only qualified Him to be the Son of Man, not the Son of God. After passing through death and resurrection, He was begotten the firstborn Son of God, and His humanity was uplifted into His divinity. Now He is no longer just the only begotten Son of God; He is also the firstborn Son of God. As the only begotten Son of God, He has divinity only. As the firstborn Son of God, He has both divinity and humanity.

When we say that Christ is the firstborn Son of God, it means that He has many brothers. Through the resurrection of Christ, God has regenerated us, the believers, to become the sons of God (1 Pet. 1:3). From the view of God’s economy, when the Lord Jesus resurrected, we were resurrected together with Him (Eph. 2:5-6). He was begotten the firstborn Son of God, and we were begotten the many sons of God. In Christ’s resurrection, He was begotten, and we also were begotten. Paul was begotten then, Martin Luther was begotten then, and all of us were also begotten then.

Furthermore, in His resurrection Christ became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). Because of this, He can enter into His many brothers to be their life and life supply that they may share with Him the same life and the same nature and may become one spirit with Him. This is God’s economy.


On the evening of the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples hid themselves behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. But Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, saying, “Peace be to you.” After this, He breathed into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:19-22). This Holy Spirit is the Lord Himself. When He breathed into His disciples, He was breathing Himself as the Holy Spirit into them. From that time on, the Lord as the Holy Spirit was in the disciples to be their life and content (Col. 3:4), being with them forever (John 14:20; Matt. 28:20), and living together with them (John 14:19; Gal. 2:20b).

After these things, the disciples went down to the sea to fish, and the Lord appeared to them again. He trained them once more to become accustomed to His invisible presence. It was not His coming; rather, it was His appearing. Whether or not they felt His presence, the Lord was with them all the time. Because of their weakness, the Lord sometimes manifested His presence to them to strengthen their faith in Him. Today, He is the same to us. Since He is the Spirit, there is an invisible presence within us. Whether or not we feel it, He is still with us. Sometimes He appears. Sometimes He disappears. Neither His appearing nor His disappearing is according to us. But whether He appears or disappears, He is with us all the time. Our Lord is such a wonderful One today. Hence, we who believe in Christ are a peculiar people. Sometimes without any reason we are overflowing with joy, praying and singing. At other times, we are despondent and downcast, sighing and sorrowing. When we feel the Lord’s presence, everything is good. When we do not feel the Lord’s presence, we lose our bearing, and discouragement, murmurings, and temper all appear. But once we touch the Lord Jesus, we feel once more that He is so faithful and lovable, and all the problems are blown away like clouds. All these are due to the fact that we have a wonderful Lord within us.


As the God-man who has died and resurrected, the Lord Jesus has not only become the life-giving Spirit to enter into the disciples, but He has also ascended to the heavens. Ephesians 4:8-12 tells us that in His resurrection and ascension, the Lord Jesus led a train of conquered captives. These captives are we, the redeemed saints. Before we were saved, we were the captives of Satan, bound in sin and death. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has destroyed Satan and has captured us out of the hands of Satan unto Himself. In His ascension, He took these captives and presented them before God. God in turn gave these captives back as gifts to the ascended Head. In the position of His ascension, He gave these gifts to the church. These gifts—among whom are some apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers—perfect all the saints in the church that the saints would all function to participate in the work of the ministry, which is the building up of the Body of Christ. In the end, God will have a church that satisfies His heart’s desire, and Christ will have a built up Body. This is what God will accomplish in His economy in this age.

A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Seoul, Korea on November 6, 1988.

(The Economy of God and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)