Bible Treasury Volume 5, p. 63. April 1864
What is the force of ... — Luke 18:10-14
The Church caught up — Revelation 7:9 etc.
High Priest and Advocate — Hebrews and 1 John 2:1
A Christian sinning — 1 John 1:9
The form of baptism — Acts 2:38
An heretic — Titus 3:10
The firm foundation of God — 2 Tim. 2:19
The Trinity — Hebrews 10
The unconverted praying? — Acts 11:14
Emblems — 1 Corinthians 11:23-28
Conferred authority — Acts 8:4
The king — Daniel 11:36
The Church is in ruins? — Ephesians 1:23
Christ and His members — Ephesians 5
The Assyrian attack — Isaiah 28, 29
The day-star — 2 Peter 1:19-21
Christ's service in heaven — Hebrews 5-10
Daniel 9 — John 2:20
Q. Luke 18:10-14.
(1.) What is the instruction conveyed by the parable of the Pharisee and the publican?
(2.) What is the force of "with himself" in verse 11?
(3.) What is meant by "afar off" in verse 13?
(4.) What is to be understood by "be merciful?" Is the English Version faulty here? Is propitiation or reconciliation expressed by the Greek?
(5.) What is meant by the word "justified?" Is "rather" introduced without warrant? Is the sense, justified perfectly, or comparatively? Are we taught here that the publican went to his house "justified" in the doctrinal sense of Romans 3, 4, 5, 8? T.
A. (1.) The parable teaches God's judgment of those who trust in their own righteousness and despise others, as the introductory verse expressly says. The entire context shows the setting aside of self for the kingdom of God; of self in any form you please. Self-righteousness is excluded in this parable; self-importance is rebuked in the incident of the little children blessed of Jesus; self, in the way of amiable nature, moral habits, high position, and large possessions, is treated as null and void in the rich ruler. The greatest advantages, humanly speaking, of flesh and world, are a hindrance, not a help, to the kingdom.
(2.) The phrase, "prayed thus with himself," (πρὸς ἑαυτόν,) means that he prayed to this effect, not aloud in the hearing of others, but silently. We can easily see from what follows, that there was neither heart nor conscience in the matter, unlike the broken, humbled, publican; but communion with others was hardly in question in either case. What God wanted and valued was the conscience in His presence, and this the publican evinced, not the Pharisee.
(3.) The standing of the publican "afar off," was a just and simple expression of his distance from God as a sinner; and the more appropriate, as though touched of the Spirit and penitent, the work was not yet done which brings nigh to God.
(4.) Hence, also, I believe that the English Bible quite rightly renders ἱλάσθητί μοι "be merciful to me." No doubt, it differs from the more general phrase. But there is nothing in the Greek, any more than in the English, which implies that the publican was here pleading propitiation, still less reconciliation. Undoubtedly, in God's mind, mercy could only be shown to a sinful man in virtue of the foreseen atonement of the Saviour; but the phrase itself, in the mouth and supposed condition of the publican, does not go beyond the heart's appeal for God's pardoning mercy to the sinner before Him, if ever there was one. (τῳ ἁμαρτωλῳ.) So in Psalm 25:11, David cries, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon (ἱλάσῃ in the LXX.) my iniquity, for it is great." A doctrinal reference is not the point in either, though we know, of course, that there was only one way whereby the cry could be answered. The mere word no more necessarily teaches "propitiation," than the Englishman does who talks of "propitious weather." Compare the use of the kindred word ἵλεως in Matthew 16:22.
(5.) There is no ground to infer that "justification," as taught in Romans and elsewhere, is meant in the expression, not only for reasons involved in what has been remarked already, but yet more, because our Lord does not say that he "went down to his house justified." We must beware of taking from Scripture no less than of adding to it. Now the sense here is not absolute but comparative justification, just as in that expression of Judah in the Septuagint Version of Genesis 38:26, δεδικαίωται Θάμαρ ἢ ἐγώ. "Thamar is justified rather than I," (i.e., more righteous.) "Rather," or "more," is decidedly implied by the commonly received reading, ἢ ἐκεῖνος. For my own part, however, I cannot but prefer παρ ἐκεῖνον, the reading of the Vatican, Sinai, and Paris (no. 62) Uncials, supported by some good cursives and other authorities. This probably gave rise to ἢ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος, by a blunder of the scribes, which found its way into the great majority of copies. Beza's MS. (D) is almost a paraphrase as to this, μαλλον παρ αιακεινον τον φαρισαιον. But every variation proves that the sense intended is that the publican was justified in comparison with the Pharisee, and therefore that the doctrinal allusion is out of the question.
Q. Is there anything in such Scriptures as Revelation 7:9, Revelation 11:15-18 and 20:4, which justify the inference that the Church will not be caught up before the tribulation of the last days? What appears to be the strong, plain, and sure conclusion forced on us by a due consideration of the full corps of the royal and priestly elders seen in heaven from chapter 4 and thenceforward? Are not these twenty-four elders the complete symbol of the heads of the heavenly priesthood glorified above before the tribulation begins? How could this be applied before the rapture, which accordingly is nowhere hinted at afterwards? The rapture must have taken place before Revelation 4, for the result of it is then beheld in the full company of the enthroned elders, who represent the saints transfigured and translated to the heavens. Matthew 3:12; John 17:20, 21; and 2 Thessalonians 1:6, 7 have been similarly pressed: What think you? ***
A. Undoubtedly, in my judgment these scriptures harmonize with, if they do not even suppose and confirm, the previous removal of the saints to meet the Lord in the air. For
1. Revelation 7:9 distinguishes in the sharpest way between the innumerable crowd of Gentiles and the elders, and restricts these blessed Gentiles to the epoch of the great tribulation. Nor is it by any means certain, to say the least, that they compose a heavenly company; indeed to me the evidence seems to point rather to earthly blessedness in the day of glory. What might be cited to show that they are heavenly is that they are seen in heaven in the prophet's vision. But this of itself no more proves that in the accomplishment of the vision the Gentile multitude are to be glorified in heaven, than the presentation of the woman in the beginning of Revelation 12 proves that her actual place will be there when the prophecy is fulfilled.
2. As little does the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 decide the question of rapture before or after the tribulation. In fact, there is not the slightest allusion to the act of grace in the passage, and therefor no warrant for confounding "the last trump" in 1 Corinthians 15 with it. The trumpets in Revelation are a symbolic series peculiar to the book, consisting of judgments and the last three of "woes" even, the last of all bringing in the closing scene of divine judgment, and of course, therefore, the reward of the righteous. In 1 Corinthians 15, on the other hand, the reference is solely to the saints risen or changed, and the origin is a military allusion drawn from the final signal when the legion sets out on its march from the old encampment. It would be a mistake to confound with either of these the blowing of the great trumpet (Isaiah 27) which gathers in the elect of Israel to the land of their inheritance. Each must be interpreted by its own context.
3. Revelation 20:4 is, to me, strikingly in favour of the view that the rapture of the saints symbolized by the elders is before the tribulation. For we have, first, thrones filled with saints to whom judgment is given; and these are no other than the elders, or those already glorified. Then are seen two distinct classes in the disembodied state, "the souls of those beheaded," etc., who are then, and not before, caused to live in time for the first resurrection and the reign with Christ. "The first resurrection" is a phrase in no way importing that all who share in it are raised at the same moment; but that all who do so are raised a thousand years and more before the rest of the dead, so as to enjoy the millennial reign along with their Saviour. These disembodied ones who had suffered unto death under the Beast, are not raised evidently till the Beast and Satan are disposed of; but who believes that the Church and the Old Testament saints are not changed and caught up before? Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:14, are too plain.
4. As to Matthew 3 it does not refer to the question of the time of the rapture to heaven, any more than John 17. "The floor" seems clearly to denote a Jewish scene; and the sifting of corn is quite as certainly said of Israel as of the heavenly saints. But apart from this, there is nothing here for deciding the question of sphere, time or way. Again, the view of John 17:20, 21, which supposes, not that it was accomplished at Pentecost, or just after, but that it awaits the persecutions of the last Antichrist to drive the frightened sheep all together, and that this is evidence that the Church cannot be translated before those days of trial, appears to me to demand no comment; 2 Thessalonians 1:6, 7 is a fair question, and so is the answer. For the point revealed is the manner in which the Lord will deal in public retribution. Now, there will be nothing of the sort till the Lord appears in judgment. The previous rapture of the heavenly saints (even if we suppose it now to be ever so sure) is not of any such nature, but a pure and crowning act of grace, altogether outside the world. But "the day of the Lord," in which, on one side, the changed saints come and appear with Himself in glory, and, on the other side, their persecutors are smitten with His vengeance; "that day," and none before, is stamped with the character of solemn, righteous award to the glorified saints and to their enemies. Then only will the Lord recompense tribulation to the troubling world, and rest to the troubled Church. The question of the rapture is quite apart from the point discussed in these verse.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 78. May 1864.
Q. 1. How do you distinguish the office of High Priest and Advocate, especially as reference is made to sin? "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father."
2. In what sense can we be said to act in our priestly character towards each other? We cannot say we are priests to each other; but may we not be for each other before God?
3. In the type of the heifer, the clean person was to sprinkle the unclean: is this, spiritually, a priestly act?
4. Practically, we are not always in priestly condition of soul. May not, then, a spiritual believer draw near to God on behalf of one who practically cannot, without allowing the thought of any one coming between the soul and God? F.
A. The main difference between Hebrews and 1 John 2:1, is that Hebrews refers to our drawing near to God, and includes the whole analogy of the priestly service, even including the sacrifice. Christ stands between us and God to this effect, and for the whole means of obtaining mercy and grace to help. The Advocate is with the Father and supposes a believer and a son, and is for the maintenance in practice of this relationship, i.e., our life in it, and in point of fact refers only to the case of one who has sinned being in that relationship, one who has the privilege of fellowship. It refers to fellowship with the Father, not approach to God. I do not say the advocacy is confined to this case of sins. It is stated as a general fact, but it is only applied to this case.
2. We are and ought to be priests for each other before God, intercede for each other, wash one another's feet, bear the failures of our brethren on our heart in intercession.
3. The sprinkling is not in itself, however, properly a priestly act: if my conscience is pure before God, I may apply the word according to the holy power of Christ's sacrifice to the heart and conscience of another.
4. The last question is answered already. We could not be priests at all, if we would not do this. But no one can doubt, if he loves another, he can intercede for him — in Christ's name and in virtue of His sacrifice, but still plead and intercede for him.
Q. 1. Do not the Epistles of John clearly prove that a Christian does not live without sinning, and that when he sins he ought to confess his sin to God?
2. How does our being forgiven if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9) agree with 1 John 2:12, which says, I write unto you because your sins are forgiven you, and many other similar passages?
3. Does the forgiveness of our sins imply that we then have the fruit of forgiveness in restored communion? or more than this? or something different from this?
4. Does the passage, He that is clean needeth not save to wash his feet, throw any light on the forgiveness of those already saved?
5. Is the prayer of our Lords — that Peter's faith fail not — an instance of His intercession?
6. Is there any relation between our confession of sins, and the Lords intercession for us?
7. What is the nature of Christ's intercession? Is it asking God to forgive us, (and, if so, how does this harmonize with our being now forgiven,) or asking for restored communion, or what? Is John 17 an instance of intercession?
8. To what and when does John 16:25-27 refer? At that day ye shall ask in my name and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you.
9. In Christ's being able to save us from our sin, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us, is it, save us from our sins eternally, or save us from all the dangers of the was — to the end? And what has intercession to do with it?
10. Is there any connection between Christ being our Intercessor and Satan being our accuser, seeing (from Job) that Satan has access to the presence of God?
11. What is the meaning of Christ being our Advocate? (1 John 2:1.) Is it in the sense of pleader, or more as a friend at court? (It has been translated Patron.) It is connected with if any man sin. M.
A. I do not think 1 John supposes that a Christian does not live without sinning. It shows that a holy provision is made for him, in case he does. It declares he cannot say he has no sin, but sinning is put in the past. James, however, declares de facto we all offend in many things.
2. 1 John 1:9, speaks neither of the time of our conversion, nor of our failures after it. Like John's usual statements, it is abstract confession, which, and which alone, is true integrity of heart, and actual forgiveness goes together. We are personally forgiven all trespasses, and stand abidingly in the power of that forgiveness, so that nothing is imputed to us personally (that is so as put to our persons out of grace.) There is the present grace wherein we stand. But as regards the government of God it is another matter. Then I read, If he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him. Hence we are to pray for those who have sinned not unto death, to confess our faults to one another. Hence in its place the Church, and Paul in his, could forgive sins, as we read in Corinthians. There was a binding in heaven of what was bound on earth, and a loosing in heaven of what was loosed on earth. So, when at Paul's first answer all men forsook him, he prayed that this might not be laid to their charge.
3. The Lords warnings to His disciples that, if they did not forgive, they would not be forgiven, equally apply. It is not a question of justification with the believer, but of present relationship in divine favour, which some seem to forget altogether. It is not merely that we have the fruit of forgiveness in restored communion, though that be true, but the positive present aspect of God, as a governor in relationship with him, He is displeased with certain things, may cause me to die through His displeasure, if I do not judge myself — has done so, as we learn in Scripture, both historically and doctrinally.
4. The passage in John 13 (as does the red heifer) shows distinctly the way of cleansing when a man has defiled himself in his walk. He is cleansed by the washing of regeneration once for all, but needs to wash his feet and must have them washed. And this it is which carries up, farther than mere discipline, the forgiveness of the Church. We are to wash one another's feet, but we need this washing in its place to have a part with Christ. God takes care we shall be clean, but by washing the feet with water, that we may have truth in the inward parts with Him, and have no defilement of walk on us.
5. I do not know what the question as to Christ's prayer means. It was intercession. The character of intercession may be different now that He is on high, and refer to a different standing in which we are, but praying for him was intercession.
6. The Lords intercession for us produces, as its result, the fruits of grace, of which confession is the fruit in every honest heart.
7. Christ's intercession is to make good our present state in conformity with the place justifying forgiveness has placed us in. It is founded on righteous and propitiation. These being perfect, our faults (instead of bringing imputation, or being allowed to harden the heart and produce falseness in the conscience,) call out His advocacy and the soul is restored. Forgiveness in the absolute sense is righteousness, as regards clearance from all imputation of sins of the old man, but in Christ, we being in heavenly places according to Gods righteousness, everything inconsistent with our relationship to God as brought there is a just cause of Gods actual displeasure. God is not mocked; but Christ intercedes for us, and, by that which rests on righteousness and propitiation, the fault becomes the occasion of instruction and a deepened work and state in us. Now, for every true saint, this present condition of our souls with God is the capital thing, founded on the fact that he is reconciled to God, and accepted perfectly in His presence in righteousness. It is being thus in His presence which is the ground of all present relationship with God. Gods character is not changed because we are brought perfectly near Him, but that character acts on our conscience, and forms it. We walk in the light as He is in the light; and if we do not walk according to the light, we find it out, because we are in the light; and to this effect Christ's advocacy comes in. We know Gods displeasure against sin. I do not talk of imputation. I say it is displeasure against sin; and if we have sinned, apprehend that in the light. It is not merely loss of communion, but knowledge of Gods displeasure with the thing. If we do not walk with God. we have not the testimony that we please God, but displease Him. The righteous Lord loveth righteousness. Christ's intercession does not lead to forgiveness, (as to imputation, it is founded on the removal of that,) but regards Gods nature and character and our present actual relationship with that. By reason of righteousness and propitiation sin calls out (not satisfaction in us with non-imputation, that is hardness and sin, but) the advocacy of Christ. Sin is taken notice of, estimated as an evil in Gods sight, in my soul, but in grace, not in Gods favour, however, as simple non-imputation, but in Christ's advocacy active about it, so that my feet are washed. Filth is there: neither I nor God are content - not I, when His word searches my heart. He is displeased when He sees it, and as to my present relationship He does see it. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost, — to God, — and God knew it, and was displeased with it; those who profaned the Lords supper the same. The discipline exercised because of the displeasure. Judging ourselves, we should escape this. Godly sorrow works repentance. Are we to repent and not to be forgiven? Nor rejoice in having it? For this, we must confess. It is absolutely stated, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us. If my feet are defiled, they are not cleansed till they are washed. Christs intercession is the proper means of this. If any one sin, we have an advocate.
8. The meaning of John 16:25-27 is this. Up to that, they had never gone directly to the Father, nor in Christ's name. But as Martha said, What thou wilt ask of God, He will do it. Now He puts them in direct relationship with the Father, not as if He was to go instead of them, and He only could, as Martha said. In His name they were to go themselves direct to the Father. That was then in gracious desires or wants they were to look for something. It has nothing to do with when they had sinned and got away from God in their hearts. Christ's interceding for them is unasked. We do not ask Christ to intercede. He is an advocate through His own grace when we have sinned, not when we ask. I return to the Father in confession, because He has asked when I went astray; as Peter wept because He had prayed for Him, not that He prayed for Him because He wept, or looked up at Him. What Christ says is, they should not be asking him about anything, but go directly to the Father: that is the contrast; not with intercession, when we have sinned or need grace and do not know it.
9. It is not said, as supposed, Christ is able to save us from our sin, because He ever liveth. But He carries through all the snares, difficulties, dangers of the way, and Satan's power; restoring our souls if we have failed; grace to help in time of need, as well as restoration, because He ever lives to make intercession for us — is on high immutably to carry on our cause. For we go through the conflict of good and evil, and have to overcome, though nothing is imputed, and we are sure to be kept to the end; but we need to be kept. He will deliver us from every evil work and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom, but we must be delivered.
10. The book of Job gives us a full account of the case in its operation in man, without reference to any dispensation whatsoever.
He was a Godly man, none like him — God saw defect in him. Satan appears on Gods speaking of him as his accuser. God withdraws not His eyes from the righteous. He deals not first here with outward sin, but inward working of ignorance of self, and then its breaking out through Gods ways into actual sin; so that it got out, when brought into Gods presence, as a detected thing into Jobs conscience. The effect of the revelation of Gods presence is, first, submission, and then confession. I abhor myself, I have spoken foolishly, and repent in dust and ashes. And God restores him to full blessing. Elihu interprets these ways. These words are interpreted — one among a thousand to show unto man His uprightness. Job was not upright in the full, true sense of it; there was not truth in his inward parts, though till he cursed his day there was no outward sin, till he abhorred himself and said so, i.e., made confession. Then his flesh became purer than a child's again. What we have to add is this: Christ's advocacy, founded on known righteousness and accomplished propitiation, carries on the administration of this for us in heaven, where we have to be in spirit with God. Such a high priest became us. Next, below, the Church in its ministrations and acts ought to be an interpreter, and deal with the conscience, and administratively wash the feet here below. An individual may be by grace, the Church, (2 Corinthians,) elders, (James,) individuals, (1 John). At any rate, in faithful grace, the Holy Ghost by the word so deals with it. The result is always confession, certainly to God, it may be to man. There is no uprightness without this. If I have sin, know it, and come to God to commune with Him, as if I had none, I am in that a hypocrite — hiding iniquity in my heart. We see here when the accuser comes in. He is the accuser of the brethren.
11. The advocate is one who manages our affairs and carries on our cause. It has been said patron, in a Roman sense; because he supplied the need of his clients - was bound to plead their cause and case for them.
Q. In what respect does the form of baptism, in Matthew 28:19, differ from the fact given in Acts 2:38?
A. Our Lord, in the Gospel of Matthew, gives the formula according to which a disciple is to be baptized unto His death; and this in contrast with the Jewish confession of one God, even Jehovah. In Acts 2 it is said by Peter to be upon the name of Jesus Christ. So in Acts 8:16, the Samaritan professors are said to have been baptized unto the name of the Lord Jesus, as Cornelius and his household were in his name. These are ways of describing baptism suitably to the Acts of the Apostles, where the Lordship of Jesus is one of the main objects. But there is no ground to doubt that Christian baptism was always formally unto the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. To omit or change that which the Lord enjoined so solemnly in resurrection, is a bolder act than becomes a Christian. This, certainly, ought never to be left out, however right it may be to testify to His Lordship also.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 112. July 1864
Q. What is the meaning of Titus 3:10, A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Does this refer to the holder of wicked doctrine as to Christ or foundation truth? Or does it mean a person who goes out and tries to make a sect or party for his own opinions. Some seem to shrink from the last, as if it were over-severe and would condemn men otherwise estimable. B.A.
A. There is no doubt whatever that the apostle means, not a holder of blasphemous doctrines, (which is the point in Johns epistles,) but one who endeavours to make a party. If any Christians, pretending to spiritual intelligence, count this a light sin, they are themselves to be pitied, warned, and prayed for. What is self-will but sin against God? and what self-will in one professing to love Christ is worse than despising the Church of God, by essaying to form a church of his own on views of his own? All saints are ignorant, more or less; and the Church of God contemplates them all, save in case of excision for wickedness in doctrine or practice, which all are responsible to judge. To go out and set up a party for particular views, even if true in themselves, apart from the assembly of God on earth, is rebellion against God, and that in what is nearest to God save His own Son. To make light of the sin, or to sympathize with it, is to trifle with God and His Church, and expose oneself to the same, however confident one may be in strength or wisdom to keep out of it. It is meanwhile sparing oneself and ones friends at the expense of Gods Word, which it is evil unbelief to count over-severe. Some think a far worse class, even blasphemers of Christ, otherwise estimable. Let such beware.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 128. August 1864
Q. A correspondent questions both the translation and the meaning of the firm foundation of God, as given in the new version published by G. Morrish. He would render it substantially as the Authorized, yet still the foundation of God stands firm, and argues that it can be nothing else than the resurrection of Christ, because of the contextual reference in verses 8 and seq.
A, But, in the first place, the proposed rendering, like that of the English Bible which it repeats in its faultiness, offends against ordinary grammar. The position of the article proves that στερεός, "firm," cannot be a predicate, but is an epithet forming an integral part of the definition. The only possible meaning, therefore, is, the firm foundation of God stands. Secondly, the notion that the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection is meant, was that of Cocceius, as well as of some since his day. Theodoret held a similar but wider view, considering the foundation to be the basis of the truth, of which the hope of resurrection is the seal. But I see no reason for giving it a special application, believing, with the translator referred to, that the figure is used abstractly.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 144. September 1864.
Q. Is this statement in accordance with Gods Word? We must not conclude that more has been done by the second person of the Trinity than by the first or third. Can anyone say it was more for Jesus to say, I will suffer for them, than for God to give Him to the world, or than for the Holy Ghost who condescends to dwell on earth so full of sin? S.A.
A. I do not believe that it is in accordance with the letter or the spirit of Scripture not to give the chief place to the Son as to work done, and, above all, suffering for God and man. It is to make light, unintentionally, of the great fact of the Incarnation, and the still greater one of Atonement. Scripture never speaks thus, whatever place it may claim for the Fathers love and counsels, and the Spirits active operation in man and the Church of God. The relation of all three is admirably set forth in Hebrews 10, as elsewhere also.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 192. December 1864.
Q. Is it right for the unconverted to pray? and can we take Cornelius as an instance of an unconverted man praying and his prayer being answered? A CONSTANT READER.
A. Man is bound to pray, as he is to serve God, and do His will; but while unconverted, he does neither, save in form. Behold, he prayeth was the Lords cogent advice to Ananias that Saul's heart was turned to Himself.
But it is a mistake to suppose that Cornelius was a mere self-righteous formalist, before Peter went to his house in Caesarea. He feared God, and his prayer and his alms came up for a memorial before Him. He was no more unconverted than the disciples were before Pentecost, or the Old Testament saints. Cornelius, like the rest, had eternal life, else there could be godliness and acceptable prayer without spiritual life. Yet he needed to hear words from the apostle, whereby he and all his house should be saved. (Acts 11:14.) Salvation is more than being quickened; it is the conscious possession of that deliverance through the work of Christ which the gospel now announces. Cornelius may have been safe before; he was saved after he received the message of grace and the gift of the Spirit.
Q. 1 Corinthians 11:23-28. Is it justifiable to use the word emblems of the bread and the wine, or to withdraw from fellowship because it is so used? J.M.
A. I see nothing in the expression to stumble a soul. No more, probably, was meant than the symbolic character of these material elements, which the Lord was pleased to constitute the representatives of His body broken and His blood shed for us. On the other hand, it appears to me weakness, not to say self-will, to make the use of such a word by another in the assembly a motive for abstaining from the Lords supper. The intention may have been upright; but the act of retiring on such a ground as this reveals a morbid spirit of criticism and a decided preference of ones own thoughts and feelings to the precious words of Christ, Do this in remembrance of me. Whoever has yielded to it, ought to judge himself, with humiliation before the Lord and his brethren, and so let him eat.
Q. What think you of the following note of T. Scott on Acts 8:4? The difference between statedly and authoritatively as a herald, and by office and authority, preaching to regularly convened congregations, and simply declaring what a man knows of Christ and salvation, amongst relations, juniors, ignorant neighbours, or ignorant persons of any sort, without assuming any authority, seems of great importance. No doubt in this way a mans sphere will often gradually enlarge, till he appears something like an authoritative preacher; but would it not then be proper that pastor and rulers should send some Barnabas to confirm what has been done, and to confer the authority? And would it not be right in this case for the person himself to seek from the pastors and teachers of the Church their sanction to his labours, now become more public than he at first either expected or intended? T.
A. The notion is quite unfounded, and directly at issue with the very Scriptures before the commentators eye. Neither Barnabas nor any other man ever conferred authority to preach as a herald, or even in the most unpretending form. It is true that the word descriptive of the preaching in Acts 8:4 is εὐαγγελίζω. But this word is frequently applied to the preaching of the Lord and the apostles, as well as of others. (Comp. Luke 4:18, 43; Luke 7:22; Luke 8:1; Luke 9:6; Luke 16:16; Luke 20:1; Acts 5:42; Acts 8:12, 25, 35, 40; Acts 13:32; Acts 14:7, 15, 21; Acts 15:35; Acts 16:10; Acts 17:18; Romans 1:15; Romans 15; 20; 1 Corinthians 1; 17, etc.; Galatians 1:8, etc., etc.) The other word, κηπύσσω, which means to proclaim as a herald, has not the smallest connection with office and authority, or regularly convened congregations, more than εὐαγγελίζω. It also is used of the Lord and the apostles, (Matthew 4:17, 23; Matthew 10:7, 27; Matthew 11:1; Matthew 24:14, etc., etc.) but it is predicated, just as freely, of others too. So it is applied in Mark 5:20 to the delivered demoniac, and in Philippians 1:15 to the brethren at Rome, some of whom were preaching Christ of envy and strife, and some also of goodwill. Of both, however, it is declared that they τὸν χριστὸν κηρύσσουσιν. That is, the word employed about these unappointed brethren is the expression of authoritative proclamation as a herald. In short, the commentator in this note was supplementing and unwittingly corrupting Scripture, instead of fairly expounding it. When Barnabas and Paul visited and confirmed the assemblies, they ordained, not persons to proclaim the gospels statedly to regular congregations, but elders or presbyters in each assembly. But an elder was a local official whose function was to rule; it was needful that he should be apt to teach, but he might never preach the gospel in his life; and if he did, it was not in virtue of any conferred authority (which was with a view to government), but of the gift of evangelist, if he possessed it. Thus, Philip who was one of the seven was also an evangelist. In virtue of the one he discharged his diaconal duties at Jerusalem, in virtue of the other he evangelized or heralded, (for both words are used of his preaching,) in Samaria and elsewhere.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 240. March 1865.
Q. Can we take the king in Daniel 11:36, as the king of the north, and understand verse 40 as meaning that the king of the south shall push at him: (i.e., the king of the north:) and the king of the north shall come against him, (i.e., the king of the south,) so as to identify the rest of the chapter that follows with the same personage? J.B.
A. To me it is evident that the king is distinguished from both these monarchs, and that the characteristics and the locality, as well as his abrupt introduction into the scene, as some well-known personage at the time of the end in the holy land, exercising royal rights over the apostate mass of the Jews there, point to one conclusion — that he is the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2 and the antichrist of the Epistles of John, the beast of the earth (or land) and false prophet of the Apocalypse. This being so, verse 40 is quite simple, and shows us the king assailed both by the ruler of the south and by him of the north. With this, to agrees verse 41, where the king of the north enters into Palestine. Again, in verse 45 he plants the tents of his pavilion in that land. The king, on the contrary, lived and reigned there. If the king can be naturally understood of one who reigns in the holy land only, the question is decided, and the kings of the north and south mean those of Syria and Egypt respectively. It would be violent indeed to identify the king of the north with antichrist or the king, of whom he is the deadly enemy.
Q. In Ephesians 1:23 the Church is said to be the body of Christ. Is it correct therefore to say the Church is in ruins? or is there a difference between the Church and the body? H.C.P.
A. While the Church is the body of Christ, it is also the house of God, and may have in this point of view vessels to dishonour within it, and be in the gravest disorder. If one spoke of the ruin of the body, (or even rending the body,) the language would be exceptionable. But the ruin of the Church is but a brief expression of a state predicted, and even begun, Gods account of which is spread over a large part of the New Testament, especially the later Epistles and the Revelation.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 320. August 1865.
Q. Was not the truth of Christ and His members — one body — the mystery hid in past ages and revealed to Paul?
2. Was the truth of the Bride a mystery? Was it hid in the Old Testament? Is not Rebekah a type of the Bride? Was not Eliezar forbidden to take a Gentile bride for Isaac?
3. Where is the Church — the body — ever spoken of as the Bride? W.S.
A. The mystery hid from ages and generations consists of two parts (1), the supremacy of Christ over the entire universe of God, of all things, whether in heaven or on earth; and (2) of the Church, His body, composed of Jews and Gentiles baptized by the Holy Ghost, united to Him as Head over all. It was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, but in fact revealed by Paul to us.
2, 3. It is evident from Ephesians 5, Revelation 19, that the figure of "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," equally applies to the Church. Eve, in Genesis 2, and Rebekah, in Genesis 24, etc., revealed nothing of the mystery. They told their own profitable tale of old, but nobody ever did or could draw from them alone the union of the Church with Christ in heaven. When the truth of the Church, Christ's body and Bride, came to view, then these scriptures yielded a further deeper meaning in God's wisdom, though even then the union of Jew and Gentile in one new man, the body of Christ, the head of all things in heaven and earth went far beyond any or all these types. But the reference is distinct in Ephesians 5 to Adam and Eve on this point. "It is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." The point forbidden in Genesis 24 is not a Gentile bride, but a daughter of the Canaanites (i.e., the type of a wicked spirit in the heavenlies.) In Ephesians 5 the point is the wife or bride as much as the body.
That there will be an earthly bride, according to the Psalms, Prophets, and Canticles, does not clash with the truth that there is a heavenly bride, married to the Lamb before the appearing of Christ and distinct from the blessed guests who are to be at the supper (the Old Testament saints, I suppose). Revelation 22:17 is conclusive to my mind that "the bride" of the Apocalypse is none other than the church, now waiting for Christ with the Holy Spirit dwelling in her and prompting the precious word, "Come." Far different will be the revelation and attitude of the Jewish remnant, before the Lord appears for their deliverance.
Bible Treasury, Volume 5, p. 351. October 1865.
Q. Isaiah 28, Isaiah 29. — If these chapters are mainly prophetic of the last days, how is it that the first attack of the Assyrian falls on Ephraim? Will the ten tribes be in the Holy Land when "the king of the north" comes against "the king?" Can his second attack and fall be identified with the invasion and ruin of Gog in Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 39? Will the millennial reign begin before that invasion, or will there be a transition, after the judgment of the beast, and the false prophet, before the Lord reigns with His saints over the earth? ΜΑΘΗΕΤΗΣ.
A. The question is a very natural one, and the first part of it is more obscure, for me at least, than many parts of prophecy. I give my answer under correction — I mean the precise, relative time of the return of the ten tribes. My present impression is that Isaiah 28 does not refer to the ten tribes as such, but to the Jewish people localised in Ephraim. They are treated as the twelve tribes, and by a word expressing a whole even in the New Testament. Anna was of the tribe of Asher. In Chronicles several of the tribes have their part in the return from the captivity. Further, it is recognized in Ezekiel and as distinct from the ten tribes proper. (Ezekiel 38:16.) We have the stick of Judah and for the children of Israel his companions; and another for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and the whole house of Israel his companions. They are then united and are all recognized as children of Israel, which is the subject of Ezekiel, not properly Judah. The final union takes place after the deliverance by judgment, when they then come under one head. The ten tribes are purged from transgressors before coming into the land. (Ezekiel 20:33-38.) The Jews are purged from transgressors in the land. (Zechariah 13:8, 9, and many passages.) Hosea 1, Hosea 2 confirms the thought that the final union under one head is at the close of all this process of purging, as it naturally must be if Christ is to take them. (Compare Hosea 2:19-24) If this be so, the ten tribes as distinguished from the stick of Judah will not be in the land when the king of the north comes up: their rebels never enter the land. I believe that the last coming up of the Assyrian is Gog. The term is geographic, whoever is king of the north. In Daniel I do not believe it is yet directly Gog, though perhaps dependent on him; for he is mighty, but not by his own power. (Compare Ezekiel 38:17.) Of course, the millennial reign will not commence before that invasion, but the then destruction of the beast by Christ from heaven will cause the Assyrian, or Gog, to find Him, the Lord, in Jerusalem, so as to be destroyed by divine power, but by that of His earthly government in Jerusalem. Christ will have established His power there; but He will yet have to destroy Gog and purge intruders out of the country belonging to Israel.
Q. 2 Peter 1:19-21. Can the prophetic word here be said in any just sense to include the revelation of the mystery? or is it not rather in contrast? Why the change from "we" to "ye" in verse 19? What is the meaning of "the day dawn" and "the day-star arise in your hearts"? ΜΑΘΗΤΗΣ.
A. The change from "we" to "ye" is very simple. "We," Peter and all, possess the word of prophecy; the "ye" applies to those he was exhorting. The mystery is not in the passage at all; but the "word of prophecy" is here in contrast, not directly with the mystery (though that connects itself with this), but with the day-star and the day dawning. Prophecy is a light in a dark place, this world; and refers to the events happening in this world and the judgment. And it is very well, as regards this world, to take heed to it. When the day is come, it will be Christ revealed, judgment on the world (compare Malachi 4) and resulting blessing. But there is a better hope for those who watch, and in contrast with judgment: the dawn and the star not seen by those who only appear when the sun is risen, but for saints who look for Christ before He appears, not warned merely and detached from earth, but associated in heart with Christ in heaven.
Q. 1. Is the similitude of Christ's service in heaven after the order of Melchisedec or after the order of Aaron?
2. If Christ's priesthood is solely of the Melchisedec order, how can it be Aaronic in its character?
3. The Aaronic service, presented in the Hebrews, is it solely a contrast, or is it also a similitude of the Lord Jesus Christ? O.P.
A. 1. We are expressly taught in Scripture that Christ is "called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." (Hebrews 5, 6.) Nay more, we read in Hebrews 7:11 of another priest that should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron. But, observe, it is here a question of order, not of exercise. There was one undying Priest, not a succession. Hence,
2. When the exercise of priesthood is in question, the pattern of Aaron is employed, not of Melchisedec. That is, there is a sanctuary, and intercession within the veil, founded on the shedding of blood, not the bringing out bread and wine to the conqueror over the previously triumphant kings of the earth. The Melchisedec priesthood will be exercised in the millennium.
3. There is contrast as well as resemblance traced in Hebrews 5-10; for the Aaronic priest, like the rest of the Levitical institute, was the shadow and not the image itself of the things set forth.
Q. 1. How is John 2:20 to be reconciled with Daniel 9?
2. If Christ had been received instead of being cut off, when would the seventieth week have come in?
3. Will Elijah be the preparer of the way, as was John?
A. 1. There is nothing that I see to reconcile between John 2 and Daniel 9, for the seven weeks (= forty-nine years) refer to the building of the street and the wall, not of the temple — still less of that building begun by Herod the Great.
2. The cutting-off is not tied to the sixty-ninth week, but is predicted as that which should be (it is not said how long) after the sixty-nine weeks. This leaves a margin which some have filled up with a seventieth week. But the fact is, that if Christ had been received, there could have been no such period as the seventieth week.
3. John Baptist's coming was only Elias to faith, or "if ye will receive it." His coming in power will be actually before the great and terrible day of the Lord, as the other was in spirit before the day of grace.