The Soma or Body

by Harry Bultema

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“Soma” is the Greek word for Body. It is used not less than one hundred and forty-four times in the New Testament. In the Gospels it is found forty times. Acts has it only once, in Acts 9:40. Romans uses it thirteen times in reference to the human body, with one exception, Romans 12:5. The Corinthian saints were carnal and therefore the Apostle Paul taught them forty-eight times something about the body, either their own or the Lord’s, and in the second letter to the Corinthians he mentions this word nine times more. Galatians has the word only once, in Galatians 6:17. Ephesians has the word nine times and here we find it eight times used collectively of the Church of Christ, the heavenly Body of the risen and glorified Lord. Only in Ephesians 5:28 it is said that men should love their wives as their own “bodies”. In Philippians it is found only three times and never of the mystical Body of Christ. Colossians gives it eight times and at least five times the Church as the mystical Body is meant. In I Thessalonians 5:23 we find it once. Hebrews has it five times, but never in the Pauline sense of the mystical Body. James also has it five times and not once as the Church which is His Body. I Peter, Jude, and Revelation each have it once but never does it mean the Church as the Body. With the exception of Romans 12:5 and a few expressions in I Corinthians 12 we find the idea of the mystical Body only in Ephesians and Colossians.

With a Body goes a Head and with the Body truth goes the truth concerning our adorable Head, the Lord Jesus Christ is the new Federal and representative Head. Christ is Head in a fourfold sense.

He is the federal Head of the whole new race, as Adam was of the old and lost race. The Head of every man is Christ. I Corinthians 11:3. He is the Head of all principalities and powers. Ephesians 1:21. He is the Head of the Body, the Church. Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:13.

The idea of Christ as Head of His Body is surpassingly rich. As the physical head is the highest and most lofty part of man, so Christ has become Head by ascending up on high. As the Head is the seat of all the senses, so Christ, the mystical Head, is the seat for all the senses for His Body. The head of the priest in the days of the shadows bore the holy mitre and so is now all the glory in our; glorious Head. The head is always the principal object of fury by the foes in the Bible. Enemies were after the head of Sisera, the head of Elisha, the head of Saul, the head of Shimei, the head of John the Baptist, the head of James, and so all the hatred against the Body is in reality against our glorious Head. Upon the head was laid the blessing in the days of old and so all our blessings are in the heavenly Head. The head received the anointing and so we also have the anointing from our wonderful Head. As the head gives nourishment to the body, so it is by Him that the whole Body, by joints and bands has nourishment administered to it Colossians 2:19. The head plans and the body executes the plans. The head rules and the body submits and obeys and how true this is of Christ and the Church. As the natural head loves the body and supplies it with all good things, so it is also with our celestial Head and His Body. In the East all the burdens are borne upon the head, and so our Head carried our guilt in the past and at present He carries all our burdens. The Head is the seal of all sympathy and of our Saviour it is said that He can be touched with the feelings of our infirmity.

Although many similes and comparisons can be based upon Christ’s Headship, since we have here not merely a beautiful symbolism, or figure of speech, but a heavenly reality for us whose feet are still on a thorny world. The union of the believer with Christ rules our whole theological system.

Let us look a bit more into this marvelous unity or sanctified union of Christ and the believers. This union is eternal, as is already seen in Ephesians 1:4. Believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. This must not be taken as merely an ideal union in the plan and purpose of God, but as a reality, even as the Son of God Himself was a reality before the foundation of the world.

As to the character of this mystical union, we must be on our guard, for it is just here that the devil throughout the ages has led many mystics astray. The very idea of “mystical” assures us that the origin and essence of this union far beyond the grasp of our finite mind. It is an object of faith and not of philosophy, however much the human mind would like to speculate in this mysterious realm. Here, if anywhere, the speculative passion must be curbed.

This union of the Head and Body is not a physical union as Rome teaches relative to the transsubstantiation. Nor is it merely a natural union as held by the old Rationalists. There is a natural union between the general and his army but that is not a mystical union. Neither do we have here a moral union, as between friend and friend, teacher and pupil. Nor is the union between the Head and the body merely a marital union, as between husband and wife. Again, the union is not a covenantal union for it is not made or upheld by a covenant. Far less do we here have a union with the essence of God’s being, or a Pantheistic union. This is where many mystics were engulfed in the slimepits of Pantheism.

Forty years ago Fleming H. Revell, who at that time meant to publish only good Scriptural literature, published a book on the indwelling Christ by J. M. Campbell, in which we read this Satanic lie on page 11: “It is not Christ upon the cross, nor Christ within the Bible, nor Christ in heaven that saves; but Christ deeply hidden in the inmost spirit.” The famous English mystic, William Law, also exclaims: “The Eternal Word of God lies hid in thee, as a spark of the divine nature, which is to overcome sin and death, and hell within thee.” This is a virtual denial of the cross, and is self-redemption. This is false mysticism. Closely related to this is the doctrine of the mediating theologians who taught that Christ in His incarnation became one, not with His chosen people, but with all humanity. The great emphasis which in the last years has been laid upon the virgin birth makes one fear sometimes that many of the Fundamentalists look upon the Incarnation and not upon the cross as the central fact of our redemption. Paul always laid all emphasis upon the cross and the risen and coming Lord and he said at least ten times that we should follow him. J. Caird, the Scottish theologian, said pantheistically: “God sleeps in stone, dreams in animals, wakes in man.”

The mystical union rests upon a judicial basis. In the same sense as the Judge of the Universe has linked the whole humanity to Adam, the first federal representative head, so He had also as Judge united the Body of Christ, the new humanity, or better, the New Man, to the last Adam as the federal Head. This union with Christ is further a spiritual reality which sways our whole being. It transcends by far all other unities in heaven and on earth. It is far more than a unity of a Shepherd and His flock, far deeper than the unity of a King and His subjects, far more intimate than a general and his army, far closer than foundation and the building, far higher than a vine and its: branches, far sweeter than the unity of a bridegroom and the bride. The union between the heavenly Head and the Body then is judicial, organic, vital, indissoluble, and at the same time, incomprehensible and inscrutable. What is true for the relation of the Head with the Body collectively holds good also for His relation with every member. Whenever a soul is converted he is incorporated into Christ and judicially all his sins are imputed to Christ on the cross, Whose merits are also imputed likewise. Without the doctrine of judicial imputation the doctrine of the mystical union can not stand for a moment.

The benefits of this union are manifold. It is through this union that every saint has a perfect legal standing before God and stands complete in Him, a standing which can never be augmented or altered. It is through this union that the saints have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:4. In Christ we have been crucified, buried, baptized, raised sealed and seated in supercelestial places. As the first Adam has brought us nothing but death and damnation so the last Adam brought us life and glory.

Between the Head and the Body is not only a unity or sanctified union, but a wonderful interrelation, fellowship commonality and common destiny. Positionally speaking, all that is true of the Head, must be true of His member on earth. May all our readers hold fast the Head Who holds us fast. Colossians 2:19. When Christ, our Life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. His destiny is ours; His appearing is our appearing as His life is our life and His strength our strength. Ephesians 3:20.

A Scriptural grasp upon this glorious union has the tendency to stabilize the Christian. When the believers realize this union they cannot groan under the yoke of the law. Nor can they fear losing their salvation for Christ Himself is their life. Eternal security has then become a non-debatable truth, stronger than the eternal hills.

The glorious truth concerning the Head and the Body will deepen our spiritual life and make us true mystics and in that way safeguard us against intellectualism on the one hand, including Rationalism and Dogmatism, and on the other hand, it will keep us in then troublous days from the false mysticism, which is rife and rampant on every hand.