The Pleroma No. 2

Creation and its place in the Purpose:
by Charles H. Welch


In the vision of Ezekiel, recorded in the opening chapters of his prophecy, the prophet saw the living creature which he afterward identified with the cherubim (Ezek. 10: 20). These not only had the four faces, namely that of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle (Ezek. 1:10) but were associated with dreadful rings and wheels, and among other things it was noted "as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel" (Ezek. 1:16). This element of complication, one wheel within another, seems to be a reflection of the way in which one dispensation encloses another, so that between the annunciation of the opening phase of the purpose and the attainment of its purpose and goal, a great gap intervenes which is filled by another and yet another succeeding dispensation until in the "fullness" of time Christ came (Gal. 4:4) born of a woman, with a view to the fullness of the seasons (Eph. 1:10), when He in Whom all the fullness dwells (Col. 1:19) shall bring the purpose of the ages to its blessed consummation: In harmony with the fact that this purpose is redemptive in character, various companies of the redeemed during the ages have been associated with the word "fullness", even the earth itself and its fullness, being linked with the glory of the Lord (Isa. 6: 3 margin). The outrunning of the purpose of the ages therefore can be represented (very crudely it is true) thus


The purpose of the ages opens with Genesis 1:1 in the creation of the heaven and the earth, but between the attainment of the purpose for which heaven and earth were created "in the beginning", and the day when God shall be "all in all" lies a great gulf, a gulf caused by a moral catastrophe and .not merely by a physical land-slide, a gap that is "filled'" by a series of wheels within wheels, Adam and his world, Noah and his world, Israel and their inheritance, and at last that church which is itself "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". The two extremes therefore of the purpose are found in the following passages which are themselves separated in the sacred volume by the rest of the Scriptures. The first occurring in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the last in Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1.1).

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21: 1). The gap in the outworking of the purpose is expressed in Genesis 1: 2 "The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep" and in Revelation 21: 1 by the added words

"For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea (Rev. 21:1).

  This feature may be visualized as follows


In the purpose of the ages.

                     The first all-comprehensive gap.
Gen. 1: 1 The deep                                                   No more sea Rev. 21:1

Let us consider in fuller detail some of the terms that are here employed to set before us this opening and closing feature of the purpose of the ages.

"In the beginning", B're-shith; Septuagint Greek, En arche.

While the fact must not be unduly stressed, it should be observed that neither in the Hebrew nor in the Greek is the article "the" actually used. Moreover, it is certain that b're-shith denotes the commencement of a point of time as Jeremiah 26: l; 21:1 and 28 : 1 will show. But it is also very certain that the self same word denotes something more than a point of departure in time, for it is used by Jeremiah m 2: 3 for "the first fruits" even as it is used in Leviticus 2: 12 and 23 :10, which are "beginnings" in that they anticipate the harvest at the end, the "fullness of seasons" (Eph. 1:10). The same can be said of the Greek arche. While it most certainly means "beginning", it is noteworthy that in Genesis 1: 16, where the next occurrences are found it means "rule" even as in Ephesians 1: 21; 3 : 10 and 6: 12 arche in the plural is translated "principalities", while in Philippians 4:1S it is used once again in its ordinary time sense. While God knows the end from the beginning, and nothing which He has caused to be written for our learning can ever be anything but truth, we must nevertheless be prepared to find that much is veiled in the O.T. until, in the wisdom of God, the time is ripe for fuller teaching.

If we leave Genesis 1: 1 and go straight over to the last book of Scripture, namely the book of the Revelation, we shall sea that the words "In the beginning" acquire a fuller sense than was possible at the time when they were first written by Moses. Arche occurs in Revelation four times, as follows

"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty".

"These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God".

"And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely".

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. I :8; 3: 14; 21 :6; 22:13).

Here, in the last book of the Bible, arche ceases to bear merely a time significance, it is the title of a Person, a Person in Whom creation and the purpose of the ages find their meaning and their goal. Paul uses arche eighteen times, the word having the time sense "beginning" in five occurrences (Phil. 4:15, the only occurrence with this meaning in the Prison epistles), once in the earlier epistles (2 Thess. 2:13) and three times in Hebrews (Heb. 1:10; 2:3; 7:3). The

remaining references save one use arche to indicate "principalities","

"rule" or "principles" (Rom. 8: 38, 1 Cor. 15:24, Eph. 1:21; 3:10;

6:12, Col. 1:16,18; 2:10,15, Tit. 3 :1, Heb. 6:1). The Hebrew word rosh which gives us the word for "beginning" is translated "head" in Genesis 3 :1S and both "beginning" and "head" in Exodus 12 : 2 and 9 respectively. In Colossians 1:1.8 Paul uses arche of Christ in a somewhat similar sense to the usage of the word in the Revelation.

"Who is the Image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, for by him were all things created . . . and He is the head of the Body the church: who Is THE BEGINNING, the Firstborn from the dead . . . in Him should ALL FULLNESS DWELL" (Col. 1:15-13).

The two phrases "by Him" all things were created, and "in Him" all fullness dwells, are obviously complementary. It is a fact that the preposition en is translated many times "by", but it is difficult to understand how it is that in Colossians 1:16 en auto should be translated "BY Whom" while in Colossians 1:19 en auto should be translated "IN Him". Moreover the preposition en occurs in the phrases "in heaven", "in all things". Again, the AN. reads in verse seventeen "By Him all things consist" where the preposition is dia, which only, makes the need more felt that en should not be translated "by" in the same context. There does not appear any grammatical necessity to depart from the primary meaning of en "in" in Colossians 1: 16, and this is the considered opinion of such exegetes as Bishop Lightfoot and Dean Alford, and the translators of the R.V.

"In Him" therefore, all things were created (Col. 1: 16). He Himself is "the Beginning" in the New Creation (Col. 1:18), even as He is "the Beginning" of the Creation of God (Rev. 3 : 14). We therefore return to Genesis 1: 1 and read with fuller insight and meaning "In the BEGINNING God created the heaven and the earth". When dealing with the word pleroma, this passage in Colossians will naturally come up for a more detailed examination. Christ is "the Beginning" of Genesis 1: I, although at the time of Moses such a truth was not perceived, just as the purpose of the name Jehovah was not known to the world before the revelation given in the days of Moses. What was known as the Creation of the Almighty, is subsequently revealed to have been the work of Jehovah, the God of Redemption. In Genesis 1 : 1 we learn that Elohim "God" created the heaven and the earth, and subsequently we learn that all was the work of Him Who is "The Word", "The Image", "The One Mediator". From the beginning, creation had in view the redemptive purpose of the ages, but just as it would have been impolitic to have answered the question of the Apostles in Acts 1: 6 before the time, so the true purpose of Creation was not revealed until Man had sinned and Christ had died for his redemption.

Bara, the word translated create, must now be given a consideration. Metaphysics "the science of things transcending what is physical or natural" attempts to deal with the question of "being", and in that department of thought the question of "creating something out of nothing" naturally arises. Scripture however never discusses this metaphysical problem. Even in Genesis 1:1, it does NOT say "In the beginning God created the basic matter of the universe", it commences with a highly organized and differentiated universe "heaven and earth'". The Hebrew word bara in its primary meaning of "create" is reserved for God as Creator, not being used of man, except in a secondary sense (and that in five passages only), out of fifty-four occurrences namely Josh. 17:15,18, 1 Sam. 2:29, Ezek. 21: 19 and 23 : 47. Adam is said to be created, although the "dust of the ground" from which he was made was in existence long before. God is said to be the Creator of Israel (Isa. 43 : 1,7,15), yet Israel was a nation descended from Abraham. Bara gives us the Chaldaic word bar "son", which but perpetuates the idea already recognized in bara. The Septuagint translates Joshua 17:15 and 18 "thou shalt clear it", which the A.V. renders "cut down", thereby revealing, as the lexicographers point out, that bara primarily means "to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting". When we remember that "the world" kosmos is derived from the word 'kosmeo "to adorn" as with "goodly stones", with "gold" and "to garnish" with all manner of precious stones (Luke 21: 5, 1 Tim. 2: 9, Rev. 21: 2,19) we perceive the reason for the choice of bara and the words with which revelation opens "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" begin to bear deeper significance. It will also show that "the world" necessarily includes the earth as its sphere. Creation was dual, from the start. Not heaven only, but the heaven and the earth. Man was created male and female, and before we read of the generations of Adam; namely of his descendants, we read of the "generations of the heavens and of the earth" (Gen. 2 : 4). Heaven is intimately concerned with the earth; in the heavens God is "ALL" ("the Heavens do rule", "as it is in heaven") and when at last the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, the goal of the ages will be attained, and God will not only be "All" but "ALL in ALL". Such are faint shadows of His ways. By searching we shall never find out God unto perfection, but to stand as we have in a cleft of the rock while His glory passes before us, and be permitted to behold but the "back part" of His ways is joy unspeakable.

"Lo these are but the outlines of His ways; A whisper only, that we hear of Him; His wondrous power, who then, can comprehend?"

(Job 26:14 Dr. Bullinger's Metrical Version)

The Pleroma Part 3

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