The Pleroma
No. 4

By Charles H. Welch

(See the Chart printed together with the opening article)

The Temporary Nature of the Present Heaven and Forth.

"The things which are seen are temporal" (2 Cor. 4:18).

"For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16).

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, Let there be light; and there was light" (Gen. 1: 2,3).

With the words of Genesis the first movement toward the goal of the ages is recorded. That it indicates a regenerative, redemptive movement is made clear by the allegorical use that Paul makes of it when writing to the Corinthians.

"For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4 : 6).

And that there will when we come to consider the place that Israel occupies in the outworking of the purpose of the ages, we shall find being  repeated in their case these allegorical fulfillments of Genesis 1: 2,3.

"And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations" (1sa. 25 : 7).

The "veil" plays a big part in the imagery of 2 Corinthians three and four. Like the rising light in Genesis 1: 3, Israel's light shall dispel the gross darkness that has engulfed the nations (Isa. 60: 1,2), and both in this passage, in 2 Corinthians 4:6, and Isaiah 11: 9 "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea", it is evident that that "light" symbolizes knowledge, and prepares us to find in the midst of the garden not only the tree of life, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These matters, however, are anticipatory of future studies, and the parallel of Israel with the six days' creation will be better seen when we reach the Scriptures that speak of their call and destiny. In the present study we must confine ourselves to the consideration of the fact that here, in calling into existence the creation of the six days, we meet the first of a series of "fullnesses" that carry the purpose of the ages on to their glorious goal. When we traverse the gap formed by the entry of sin axed death, and reach in the book of the Revelation, the other extreme of this present creation we find that instead of natural light as in Genesis 1: 3, "The Lamb is the light thereof" "The Lord God giveth them light", and we read further that the heavenly city "had no need of the sun, neither of the moon". Instead of the stars which are spoken of in Genesis l : 16, we have the Lord holding "the seven stars in His right hand", and He himself set forth as "the bright and morning Star". These are indications that "the former things" are about to pass away. Perhaps the most suggestive item in the six days' creation, apart from man who was made in the image of God, is the provision of the "firmament".

"And God said' Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters . . . and God called the firmament Heaven" (Gen. 1: 6-8).

The first fact that emerges from this passage, whatever for the moment the word "firmament" may prove to mean, is that this firmament that was "called" heaven must be distinguished from that one which was created "in the beginning". Here is something peculiar to the present temporary creation and destined to pass away at the time of the end. The margin of the A.V. draws attention to the fact that the Hebrew word raqia translated "firmament" means literally an "expansion". Raqa, the verb is used by Jeremiah to speak of "silver spread into plates" (Jer. 10:9). Job speaks of Him "which alone spreadeth out the heavens" (Job 9: 8), and who "stretcheth out the north over the empty place" (tohu, "without form" of Genesis 1: 2), (Job 26 : 7). The stretched out heavens are likened to a tent or tabernacle.

"That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" (Isa. 40: 22).

 "He that created the heavens, and stretched them out" (Isa. 42 : 5).

"That stretched forth the heavens alone" (Isa. 44:24; 51:13; Zech. 12:1).

Not only is the firmament spoken of in language that reminds of the Tabernacle, there is a reference in Job that suggests that the earth too is looked upon as the ground upon which this tabernacle in the sky rests.

"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?" (Job. 38:6).

At first sight there may not appear anything in this passage to link it with the Tabernacle, but when it is known that the same word which is translated "foundations" is rendered "socket" fifty-three times, and that fifty-two of the occurrences refer to the sockets on which the Tabernacle rested in the wilderness, then the reference in Job 38 takes on a richer and deeper meaning. The firmament of Genesis 1: 6 is a lesser and temporary heaven, destined to pass away when the ages come to an end. This firmament is not only the distant heaven of the sun, the moon or stars, it is also the place where birds can fly (Gen. 1: 17 consequently we can understand that when Christ ascended, He is said to have "passed through" the heavens dierchomai not "passed into" (Heb. 4:14). In Hebrews 7: 26 Christ is said to have bin "made higher" than the heavens, while Ephesians declares that He ascended up "far above all heavens", with the object that He might "fill all things" (Eph. 4: 10). Christ is said to have passed through the heavens to have been made higher than the heavens, and to have ascended up far above all heavens. Thus it is impossible for Him to be far above all heavens, and yet be at the same time seated in those very heavens if one and the same heaven is intended, for even though knowledge of heaven and heavenly things may be very limited, we can understand the simple import of the language used. Consequently when we discover that two words are employed for "heaven", one is ouranos which includes the highest sphere of all, but nevertheless can be used of that heaven which is to pass away (Matt. 5: 18), of the air where birds fly (Matt. 6: 26), the heaven of the stars (Matt. 24: 29) and of the angels (Mark 13 : 32).

The other word is epouranios. We perceive that in many passages ouranos refers to the firmament of Genesis 1:6, while epouranios refers to the heaven of Genesis 1: 1 which was unaffected by the overthrow of verse two, and will not be dissolved and pass away. This is where Christ now sits at the right hand of God "Far above all of the heavens". Hebrews 9 : 24 speaks of this sphere as "heaven itself". In two passages the heavens are said to be rolled together or to depart "as a scroll" (Isa. 34 : 4; Rev. 6 :14). The present heaven and earth is a temporary "tabernacle" (Psa. 19: 4) in which the God of creation can dwell as the God of Redemption. This creation is to be folded up as a garment (Heb. 1: 11,12), the firmament is likened to the curtains of a tabernacle, which will be "unstitched" at the time of the end (Job 14:12 LXX), and pass away as a scroll. The figure is one that appeals to the imagination. A scroll of parchment stretched out and suddenly released, is a figure employed to indicate the sudden departure of the "firmament", "the stretched out heavens". The word used in Revelation 6:14 is apochorizomai, which occurs but once elsewhere, and speaks of a departure that followed a violent "paroxysm" or "contention" (Acts 15 : 39). Chorizo which forms part of this word means "to put asunder" (Matt. 19:6) and "separate" (Rom. 8:35). Isaiah 34:4 which speaks of the heavens being rolled together as a scroll, and so speaks of the "firmament" of Genesis 1: 6, leads on to the repetition of the condition of Genesis 1: 2, for in Isaiah 34 :11, as we have seen, "confusion" is tohu and "emptiness" is bohu, the two words translated "without form and void".

The position at which the record of the ages has now reached is as follows:

<----"Heaven itself" which does not pass away "Above the heavens".-------->


Gen 1:1 

Heaven and Earth

The Beginning


Gen. 1:2  


Tohu, Bohu


The Firmament

streched out

The Ages

The Pleroma


 Tohu, Bohu

 Isa. 34



Rev. 21

New Heaven 

and Earth

and on to

the End

Into the gap caused by the overthrow of Genesis 1: 2 is placed the present creation which together with its temporary heaven is to pass away. This present creation, headed by man, constitutes the first of a series of "fullnesses" that follow a serves of "gaps" until we at length arrive at Him, in Whom "all fullness dwells".

We read in Genesis 1: 28 "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" where the word "replenish" is the verb male, a word which as a noun is translated "fullness" in such passages as "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Psa. 24: 1). The Septuagint uses the verb pleroo to translate male in Genesis 1: 28.

Before we pass on to the next "gap" we must examine the Scriptures and endeavor to discover where the ages begin. In the above diagram it is suggested that the ages begin with the overthrow of Genesis 1:2 and end with the New Creation. This inquiry therefore, must be the subject of our next article.

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