Paul showed us the sensitive nature of reading the proper tense in which a word is used in the Scripture when interpreting its intended meaning. He showed this when he said that the promise was to Abraham and his seed, not seeds as of many but seed as of one.
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
He pointed out that God was referring to a covenant with Abraham and to one other person referred to as his seed and that person was Christ. This interpretation pulled the rug under the feet of the teachers of the law who were intimidating the Gentiles with their credentials as the descendants of Abraham.
The use of the word “us” and “we” not “I” and “me” in scripture by Paul is therefore significant. He is deliberately referring to the collective not to a single individual in the appropriation of certain realities in Christ. A single part of the body though a member is definitely not the whole.
There were times when Paul said, “I” referring to his calling into an office in the Body or the grace bestowed upon him as a member of the Body but he referred to the work of the collective in bringing about the realization of his calling. It required the fellowship of the whole for the individual part to function properly.
F.F Bortsworth one of the finest teachers of faith and healing in the last century had this to say,
“Christ planned to continue His healing ministry during His absence. This was to be accomplished by the whole Church, which is His Body and not by an obscure member of that Body. He said these signs shall follow them, the Church and not him the individual”.
This should be emphasized so that a single member of His Body doesn’t start struggling to appropriate that which can easily and only be accomplished through His Body or a group of believers in fellowship.
The writers of the New Testament understood the ministry of the Body, the power of true fellowship. The apostles relied greatly on “their company” to get results. The great struggle in the Body today is largely due to an individualistic approach to our faith.
Peter and John in Acts chapter 4 returned to their own company and reported what had happened relying on the prayer of the collective in order to appropriate the fullness of the Spirit in His power.
Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
Acts 4:29 -31 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
To be continued in Part two.