By Charles H. Welch
Gather. This word is used both in the O.T. and in the N.T. to indicate part of the goal of more than one dispensation and calling.
This gathering will be under the New Covenant, where "scattering" is exchanged for plucking up and breaking down, and "gathering" by building and planting (Jer. 31:28-40), and this will be final and age-lasting.
At the first advent of their Messiah, Israel knew not the day of their visitation:
but at the second coming this gathering will take place:
See also Deuteronomy 30:3 and Isaiah 43:5,6, 54:7.
In God's good time Israel shall be restored, but, although the Mystery itself was never a subject of O. T. prophecy, it was fully revealed that upon the defection of Israel, the Gentiles would be enlightened. "It is a light thing" when compared with the entire plan of the ages, that Christ should raise up the tribes of Israel; "though Israel be not gathered", Christ was to be given "a light to lighten the Gentiles" (Isa. 49:5,6), and this was quoted by the apostle Paul upon the defection of Israel, in Acts 13:47.
The word that is translated "end" in the phrase "the end of the world", in Matthew 24:3, contains the idea of gathering, particularly that of the gathering of harvest. The Greek word sunteleia is a word that meant in classical Greek "a joint or common contribution for the public burdens", but which was used in the LXX upon its first employment to refer to "the feast of the ingathering" at the end of the year (Exod. 23:16). This allusion to the harvest is most certainly intended in the question of the disciples, even as it is included in the Saviour's prophecy of the second coming (Matt. 24:3,31).
No such "gathering" as any of those already indicated finds a place in the Prison Epistles, the words in Ephesians 1:10, "He might gather together in one", having a very different meaning and association. The Greek word used in Ephesians 1:10 is found nowhere else in either the LXX or the Greek N.T. except in Romans 13:9 where it is translated "is briefly comprehended" - the ordinary meaning of the word. The R.V. reads "to sum up", which is its classical meaning, but there are contextual and spiritual reasons for believing that the word chosen, anakephalomai, should be translated "to head up", by reason of the great and blessed fact that the supreme title of Christ in this epistle is kephale or "head" . Whatever word however may be employed, of either Israel, Gentile or Mystery, the Scriptures make it clear that at the end the climax blessing and seal of all that has gone before can be expressed in this one word "gather". It is a lovely word, a homely word, a word associated by the Saviour Himself with a hen and her brood, and the farmer and his com. While isolation and loneliness may often be the price that must be paid for faithful stewardship today, a gathering together of those of like precious faith can be, and of ten is, a foretaste of joys to be experienced in the days to come. This has been the comment many times by those who have attended the Anniversary or Foundation Day "Gatherings" at the Chapel of the Opened Book, for which we are grateful.