Suffering as a Christian — 1 Peter 4:15, 16|
There go the ships — Psalm 104:26
Is this story a gloss — John 8:1-11
Cross, pole or stake
Island and peacock — Job 22:30; 39:13
He who readeth it may run — Hab. 2:2
Eternal — Gal. 1:4
Character of the Jewish remnant
Calling and inheritance — Ephesians; 1 Peter
In the Lord, in Christ — 1 Cor. 7:39
Moses — Judges 18:30
Which John — John 3:35, 36
Rule as to speaking in the assembly — 1 Cor. 14:27-29
Eternal life — 1 John 5:20
Head of the body — Col. 1:18
Deity of Christ — John 1:1, 2; John 17:3
Who were these saints — Rev. 6:9
The descent of the Spirit —
Whom no man hath seen, nor can see
Two great lights — Gen. 1:16
Thou shalt eat the herb — Gen. 1:29, 30
Thy seed and her seed — Gen. 3:15
Recovering of sight — Luke 4:18
Behold, the virgin — Isaiah 7:14
Great High Priest — Heb. 8:3
Lord Jesus offered the church?
The name used in baptising — Matt. 28
Whosoever — 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1, 18
Is it right to preach election — Rom. 8:33 etc.
What Paul preached — Acts 20:25
The language of some scriptures — John 1
Presence, revelation, appearing — 1 Thess. 4:13
Leprosy, leaven — 1 Cor. 5
What is immanent
Christ as Head to the church — Eph. 5:23 etc.
Pre-adamite disease — Rom. 5:12
Book burning — 2 Tim. 4:13
Room for all that is edifying — Heb. 10:25
The leper — Lev. 13
The king of the north — Dan. 7, 8, 11, Rev. 13, 19
The reception of Christ — Luke 13 and 15
A reprobate state — 1 John 5:18
To whom do they relate? — Matt. 24, 25
Reception — Acts 20:7
What is God's unspeakable gift? — 2 Cor. 9:15
To have life eternal — 1 John 3:7-10
Is it God's kindness toward us — Eph. 2:7
Should there should be no separation? — 3 John
Receiving from the sects conditionally
My God, my God
The mammon of unrighteousness — Luke 16:9
Hades and Paradise — Luke 16:22, 23; Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31
The Samaritan woman — John 4
Christ is the first-fruits — Acts 26:23; Luke 9:30
The fruit of his loins — Acts 2:30
Buried with Him by baptism — Rom. 6:4
Leaven — 1 Cor. 5
Was the woman at Sychar born again? — John 4
The apostles being baptised
The judgment seat — 2 Cor. 5:10
The gifts — Ps. 68
In the heavenlies — 1 Thess. 4:17
From such turn away — 2 Tim. 2:21
Those who say that they are Jews — Rev. 3:9
Seventh Day Adventists
The six days are literal — Gen. 1
One died for all — 2 Cor. 5:15
Pillar and basement of the truth — 1 Tim. 3:15, 16
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 16. January 1904.
Q. — What is the bearing of 1 Peter 4:15, 16, which seems passed over in the exposition we have had?
A. — The text strictly rendered may be thus given with remarks on it: "For let none of you suffer as murderer or thief or evil doer, or as spy on another's matter; but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but glorify God in this name." The same excellent witnesses, which do not give the latter half of verse 14 (in Text. Rec.), have here not "part" or "behalf" but "name," which quite falls in with the first half. The moral sense of mankind utterly condemns the first three offenders; yet into what might not a follower of Christ slip if he turned aside? He had learnt the hollowness of the world's estimate of evil, and therefore is the more exposed if he cease to walk by faith and constrained by the love of Christ. He had also learnt the new and dear relation (with its resulting duties) of the holy brotherhood into which our Lord has brought us. Therefore, if love as well as faith did not guide him practically, who in such danger of prying into other people's affairs? For, if in a bad state, he would be sure to regard others as no better than himself: how wretched an excuse for or justification of his own faults! But if he suffered as a Christian, what an honour! The world gave this name as a taunt to the disciples of a rejected and crucified Christ. Faith knows Him dead and risen and glorified at God's right hand, and looks for everlasting glory together with Him, and that the very world will know Him thus at His appearing. What is the grandest throne on earth but brief and mean in comparison? For, besides the millennial display, we shall live through Him unto the ages of the ages, reigning in life through the Saviour.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 31. February 1904.
Q. — Psalm 104:26. Does it not seem remarkable that the Psalmist, in the midst of the rehearsal of the works of God, should introduce a work of man? — "There go the ships." Is there just ground for the supposition that by ships are intended fleets of the little nautilus ("which spread their thin oar and catch the driving gale"), creatures of God? Vers. 27-29 seem to exclude the idea of ships being meant. C.J.D.
A. — No doubt the allusion to "the ships" in ver. 26 is a singular and notable introduction, between the marine creatures small and great before, and the one specified after. But the reference has all the more force. The ships glided majestically, and are ever an object of interest to the observer; while the bulky creatures that played within its waters did not escape notice, though not so continuously. "Moving things countless" naturally led from living creatures of the deep to the ships which made their way visibly across the sea. Even they for the purposes of those concerned (and how wide these interests all over the world!) were as dependent on God's care as any of its objects which the Psalm contemplates from the heavens, and the earth, the mountains, the valleys, the springs, the grass and the herb, the wine, oil, and bread, the birds and the wild-goats, the sun and the moon, the monarch of wild beasts and the monarch of creation, before the great and wide sea comes before us.
On the other hand the Nautilus, interesting as it is, presents no such conspicuous object on the sea. Here and there it may abound as in the warm waters of the Pacific and the Australian Oceans, and off the coasts of Asia and Africa and some of their islands. But even so they make no show on the smallest scale comparable to "the ships;" they are as a snail on land compared with the house of man. So rare was the sight of one at sea, that the scientists say "the recovery of this interesting animal was reserved for a British voyager (Mr. G. Bennett, who describes its capture on 24 Aug., 1829, in his "Wanderings in. N.S. Wales," etc.). It struck them as "like a small dead tortoise-shell cat"; and this being so unusual a sight there led to the sending the boat, alongside at the time, to ascertain its nature. Is it conceivable that genus Nautilus of the first Fam. Nautilidae, of Order B. Tentaculifera of D'Orbigny [Prof. Owen's Tetrabranchiata] of the Cephalopoda, should be here meant? "The ships" are an exception, but one so graphic as to fall naturally into this wonderful picture around man as its centre according to God: No sufficient reason appears to warrant their exclusion.
Q. — John 8:1-11. Is this story a gloss, as so many of the learned reckon, or is it of God? L.L.
A. — When celibacy was an idol, we can understand how unacceptable were the Lord's words. Even Augustine attributed its omission to infirm or no faith. Yet bearing in mind that our earliest copies are of that age, we see marks proving a wilful omission, with ample testimony to its existence. But the Christian can recognise the Shepherd's voice, such as no forger ever invented, and can note that the fact supplies the occasion for the discourse that follows, as in John 4, 5, 6, which otherwise would deprive John 8 of its analogous starting-point. Beyond just question it is of God.
Q. — Does not ξύλον, tree, and σταυρὸς, imply not the traditional form of a cross, but rather a pole or stake? L.L.
A. — The "tree" was rather generic; and even the Jews used it as a sign of curse and degradation, after killing the evil-doer. The "cross," is more specific, sometimes applied to impaling, at others to suspending the body from the middle, but still more widely to proper crucifixion by nailing the sufferer to an upright beam with a transverse to which the stretched arms were fastened. So the inspired description proves it was in our Lord's case; where there was also all elongation of the central board, bearing over the head the memorable words which Pilate wrote to the dire offence of the Jews. Its form then resembled, not an X as some fancy, but a T with that headpiece surmounting the centre of the cross-beam, pretty near what is generally conceived.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 48. March 1904.
Q. — 1. Job 22:30. What is the meaning of the first clause?
2. 39:13. Can the peacock be meant here? Q.
A. — 1. There is no "island" expressed in either the Sept. or Vulgate, which removes one difficulty. But Schultens seems to have perceived first that the word so translated is a negative, as we see in I-chabod. That sense therefore is quite opposed by those two ancient versions, and it should run thus: "Him that is not guiltless shall He deliver: yea, he shall be delivered by the pureness of thy hands."
2. The A.V. is far from a correct representation. The peacock seems first known, even to Israel in the days of Solomon, and the name is Indian Hebraized. It is the ostrich which is really in the first clause, contrasted with the stork in the second. "The wing of the ostrich flappeth joyously (or, rejoiceth): but hath she the stork's pinion and plumage?" This the Revisers considered a figure, in order perhaps to smooth the connection with what follows, and say "are her pinions and feathers kindly" (and in the margin, "like the stork's"). But assuredly the peacock is not meant here, a bird more striking for its splendid tail when expanded, which does not enter into the description given; whereas the ostrich, unlike the stork for power of flight, runs with the utmost rapidity, and is devoid of that parental fondness which characterises the stork. The same ancient versions are vague enough.
Q. — Hab. 2:2. What is the true bearing of the last clause? There seems some confusion in the quotation of it that one almost invariably hears. Is the Synopsis or Dr. Pusey right in their view? They say that "he who runs may read it," i.e. that it was to be written so plain as to be read by the hasty glance of one that hurried by. Is it really so? Q.
A, — There can hardly be a doubt that most versions are right, but the commentators wrong, even those who have rendered the Hebrew correctly. The translation of Isaac Leeser, generally correct, is here faulty and in accord with the common mistake, "that every man may read it fluently." Is the misunderstanding due to the influence of popular misquotation? For the word is written plainly, not "that he who runs may read it," but "that he who readeth it may run" — just the opposite. The inference may be merely that the reader need not stop; but may it not be the more worthy one of earnestly pursuing the work of making known the revealed purpose of Jehovah for others also to profit thereby? When the crisis comes, as we are told by another prophet, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge (surely of a spiritual and higher sort than of the stars or of the fossils, of chemistry or of electricity) shall be increased. Assuredly the need of that is as great as it is all-important.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 62. April 1904.
Q. — Γέεννα, κρίσις, αἰώνιος. What light can you give on these? Lightfoot, Plumptre, Farrar, and others eminently learned, held "aeon," "aeonion" against "eternal," everlasting, etc. Where and how do they depart from scripture truth? T.O.B.
A. — Without doubt many learned men have written in unbelief as to these solemn terms in the N.T. The unbelief displays itself generally in undermining the divine authority of scripture, and particularly in enfeebling and darkening such words as intimate the everlasting character of God's judgment of sin. What evidence is there that the late Bishop Lightfoot was thus guilty? As he used αἰὼν for the world of eternity, and another form of it for "eternal" in his note on Gal. 1:4, it is certain that he held a quite opposed conviction, and unless proof therefore be given that he changed, let us believe that the imputation is erroneous. But the truth depends on God's word, not on man's opinion which is of no real worth.
1. Γέεννα, Gehenna, was derived from the valley of Hinnom so often spoken of in Kings and Chronicles, the receptacle for burning all that defiled, and became the figure for the place of endless punishment.
The N.T. and especially the Lord Himself deepens its usaue from anything seen outside of Jerusalem to what we in English call Hell, with which Hades (referring to departed spirits) ought never to be confounded. No spiritual mind can doubt that He taught its final and everlasting character in Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; Matt. 10:28; Matt. 18:9; Matt. 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5.
2. Not less certain is it that, unless modified by limiting words αἰὼν and αἰώνιος are regularly used in the N.T. for "eternity" and "eternal." Though even heathen philosophers, used to express themselves in their native tongue of the purest Greek, and with their utmost precision, contrast both substantive and adjective with what began to be and was transitory. It is not credible that any fairly read man could be unaware that Plato sets them distinctly in this opposition. Take for example his Timaeus (Baiter, Orelli and Winck. p. 712); and again Aristotle in his De Coelo (Bekker, i. 279), at the end of which chap. 9 lays down that αἰὼν derived its name ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀεὶ εἶναι, from being forever. If these heathen had heard of God's awarding such a doom to guilty sinners and dreaded it for themselves, they too might have resorted to the shift of an "age" and "age-long" like the sceptical among whom so many divines, especially in our day, are not ashamed to stand. Did any flatter themselves in an understanding of Greek better than these two ancient philosophers? Can any sober person doubt that the denial of Farrar, Jukes, etc., is inexcusable? One sentence of the apostle (2 Cor. 4:18) demolishes the error. For he too sets in open antagonism the things "temporal" with the "eternal" how could this be, if the "aeonia" were as transient as the temporal?
3. Neither are these speculative persons more reliable as to κρίσις, or judgment. No doubt the A.V. in more ways than one presents confused and inexact renderings of the verb, and its derived substantives as in the mistakes of Rom. 14:22; 1 Cor. 11:29, etc., so in John 5:24, 27, 29, κρίσις, instead of being uniformly translated "judgment," as should be in all the three cases, and everywhere else. For it certainly in all means God's everlasting judgment, as being contrasted with "life eternal," the portion of believers only. The solemn truth is that the wicked are raised for it, a resurrection of judgment. What can be clearer than that raised for it does not mean extinguished in it? So in Rev. 20, 21 we are assured that the wicked exist for ever in their awful resurrection, as the righteous in their blessed and holy resurrection. In the fullest account of the eternal state (Rev. 21:1-8) we see the New Jerusalem and the blessed then on the new earth. But we also see the accursed in the lake of fire, when God is all in all. So in Heb. 9:27, 28, "judgment" for the heedless wicked is contrasted not with life eternal but with salvation. Annihilation has no basis whatever. What wisdom it is to believe God in subjection of heart! What folly to weaken, evade, or pervert such a warning!
Though conditional immortality has seduced some children of God, it is really unbelief of the great distinctive fact that man alone became a living soul by the inbreathing of Jehovah Elohim. Like other infidel speculations, it alike leaves out God and debases man as such into one of the mere forms of animal life. The inbreathing of God made man's soul immortal. This did not save from a sinful act, any more than it gave the believer life eternal now and immortality for the body by-and-by. Conditional immortality destroys the true nature and place God gave main, as His offspring, in contradistinction from all other animated beings on earth. It supposes man to be only an animal with inward power superior to that of a dog or a horse; and with this lie against the truth as to man as man, it overthrows his responsibility as a creature to obey God. Who thinks that a dog has any consciousness of God, or fears having to bear His judgment of sins? But scripture declares this of man; and all experience confirms that man, when guilty, cannot avoid reference to the God he dishonours, however much superstition or infidelity may strive to efface it.
Q. — What according to scripture is the character of the future Jewish remnant, after the rapture of the saints, before Christ and they appear together in glory? DISCIPLE.
A. — Take the following concise answer in the words of another.
They are godly; under law; upright in heart, yet confessing their people's blood-guiltiness; they are looking for Jehovah's intervention against their enemies. They are persecuted under the beast; betrayed by their false brethren who have received the Antichrist. All these sorrows find expression in the Psalms. In using them they begin, as I understand it, but dimly at first, to perceive that some One has been in these trying circumstances before them; One who when He cried to Jehovah, was heard. "This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles." This encourages them to cry that He may deliver them. Gradually the thought of His being more than man dawns and grows on their souls. Jeremiah may tell them, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man" (17:5) while Ps. 2 will say, "Blessed are all they which trust in him." This seems a contradiction; but the perception of His divine nature is gradually but effectually taking its place in their souls, until the moment comes when He appears to their deliverance, and they look on Him whom they pierced and mourn, and find Him to be Jehovah's fellow — nay, Jehovah Himself.
Q. — What is the difference between the calling and the inheritance as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, from the same terms in the First Epistle of Peter? J.O.
A. — The Apostle Paul was given to reveal the calling and the inheritance in all the height and depth, length and breadth of the glory of Christ, the Son and glorified man in the heavenlies, the Head over all things and Heir of all things, our portion one with Himself and joint-heirs with Him.
The Apostle Peter was inspired to present rather the Christian's heavenly calling and place, and God's family, His priests and kings, in contrast with Israel's hopes; and therefore to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance reserved in the heavens for those that are here, guarded by God's power through faith for the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. It is not a great mystery as in Eph. 5:32, respecting Christ and respecting the church; any more than the mystery of God's will and purpose (Eph. 1:9, 10) in setting Christ at the head of the universe heavenly and earthly, the inheritance in its fullest extent.
Q. — 1. What do you consider the force of the two expressions, "in Christ," and "in the Lord"? 2. What means, as said of marriage, "only in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:39)? G.B.B.
A. — 1. Though they approach nearly, there is a shade of difference, the first rather expressing privilege, the latter responsibility. 2. This is certainly so in the case proposed. Two persons might be "in Christ," truly attached in affection, but the one entering into the full relationship of the Christian, the other hardly rising in faith or practice above a simple believer, content with remission of sins and general care as to moral walk, and in a false position ecclesiastically. Would it be "in the Lord" for such to marry? Can two walk together before Him who are not agreed in a duty so important for His glory?
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 80. May 1904.
Q. — Judges 18:30. The Revised Version substitutes "Moses" for "Manasseh" in this verse. Has this change good authority? INQUIRER.
A. — The R. V. is not without good reason for the change from "Manasseh" to "Moses." Even D. Kimchi, a famous Rabbi, allowed that the copyists were ashamed that a grandson of the legislator should have sunk into becoming the priest of an idol, and sought to conceal the fact by the substitution of "Manasseh." De Rossi as well as Kennicott have the witness of MSS. for the true reading. Even in the Masoretic text there is the remarkable and suspicious circumstance that the "n" is written above the proper line. Now this is the only letter in the unpointed Hebrew, by which the one name differs from the other.
It may be added that the two incidents at the end of Judges (Judges 17, 18, 19-21) are not in chronological sequence of what precedes (as a careless reader might assume from their place), but occurred in the early days of its history. Both took place in the second generation after Aaron and Moses, as attested by Gershom's son in the one, and by Phinehas in the other. The aim of both accounts was to show how deeply Israel was even then corrupted Godward and manward.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 95. June 1904.
Q. — John 3:35, 36. Have we to consider these verses as not the utterance of John the Baptist but of John the writer of the Gospel? INQUIRER.
A. — I think that internal evidence is clear that the testimony of John the Baptist closes with ver. 34; and that vers. 35, 36 are the comment of the Evangelist. For John's answer from ver. 27, however given of God, does not exceed what was within the measure of his spiritual knowledge; whilst the concluding vers. 35, 36, are the reflex of the deeper and higher truth which the Lord taught His disciples. We may see that such a comment is in the manner of the Evangelist in John 1:16-18; John 2:21-25; John 7:39; John 8:27, 30; John 11:51; John 12:33, 37-43, etc.
Q. — Is there any restrictive rule as to speaking in the assembly? MATHETES.
A. — Certainly in 1 Cor. 14:27-29 there are restrictive rules put as to speaking in the assembly. The very disorder in the church at Corinth furnished the occasion for the profit of all afterwards. "If any speak" with a tongue, two or at most three, and in turn (or, separately), and let one interpret; but if there be no interpreter, let him be silent in an assembly, and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge."
The apostle had just laid down the great principle, "Let all things be done to edification." Then he applies it to the two typical or representative cases; to a tongue on the one hand; and on the other to prophesying. He begins with what the vain Greek mind affected most, speaking with a tongue, because it was so open and surprising a witness of divine power. It electrified people. But in an assembly, if alone, it did not edify. Therefore if he who had "a tongue" could not interpret, or no interpreter was there, he must be silent and content with speaking to himself and to God: an excellent lesson, where there was the desire to display that gift. Even if there was an interpreter, edifying required only two or at the most three.
Next, he turns to prophesying which had the highest character of direct edifying, and directs that two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge, not add their contributions, which could only distract instead of edifying, but rather hinder the profit of what came from God. Under this regulation comes teaching of any kind "in assembly for edification, encouragement, consolation, exhortation, warning or any other spiritual aim. More than "two or three," even if possessed of the most weighty of God's gifts, is forbidden in the most distinct and absolute way.
The question is, if we believe that grace still preserves meeting "in assembly," and if we in divine mercy cherish so signal a privilege, spite of its absence in general, are we subject to the "Lord's commandment" in these things as in all else? It is to be feared that many forget it, and think that prevalent ruin opens the door to laxity and self-will. Perhaps others too have heard not many years since of no less than eight speakers! occupying a professedly Christian assembly, and rather boasting of this plethora of talk, as if it were a proof of zeal, simplicity, or the freedom which the Spirit of the Lord creates. It really indicated their lack of intelligence or subjection to the inspired word which they could not but know, but failed to recognise; and love of letting their voices be heard on such a solemn occasion, which is meant to witness that God is verily in or among the saints.
In vers. 34-36 is another and a prohibitory rule, "Let the women keep silence in the assemblies; for it is not permitted to them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for a woman to speak in an assembly. What! went the word of God out from you? or came it to you alone?"
Such is His regulation of His assembly. Would we as Christians prefer, or even tolerate for ourselves, an assembly independent of God, where man speaks as he pleases? How necessary it is to judge ourselves, especially if we exercise the title to judge other people. What is more excellent than obedience?
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 112. July 1904.
Q. — 1 John 5:20. The article before "eternal life" in this verse is said not to have authority sufficient to retain it in the Greek. What difference does the presence or absence of the article make for this passage? In the controversy during recent years on "life eternal" I have seen it stated, that the absence of the article here renders this passage to mean that "life eternal" is "characteristic" of Christ, not that He is personally "the life eternal." INQUIRER.
A. — In 1 John 5:20 the oldest and best authority excludes the article before "life eternal." But it is only a novice in zeal for the notion that could thence infer that the phrase is characteristic and not objective. For the article before "the true God" is passed on by the connective particle to "life eternal" also according to a well-known principle of its usage. "The true God and life eternal" are thus bound up with our Lord Jesus Christ in the striking way peculiar to this Epistle, which combines God with Him, or as here with life eternal. The case therefore is not only an oversight, but a cogent proof against those who would separate them. Had the article been repeated before "life," it would have made them distinct objects, the very thing which the apostle avoided. The opening chapter 1 (ver. 2) is most emphatic in predicating objective reality of "the life eternal," both with the Father before He became flesh, and when He was thus manifested. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," especially for such as hastily seize a superficial appearance in questions so grave and momentous, where truth and safety are found only in entire subjection to the written word.
Q. — Col. 1:18, Head of the body. Is there any ground for deducing from J.N.D.'s French Version, that he by "chef" denied Christ to be "head," and made Him only "chief"? A.V.
A. — Those who talk thus have no other ground for their notion, than their own will to lower Christ, along with ignorance of the French language, which treats "tête" in this connection as antique and prefers "chef" in the same sense as its substitute. The real word in the context for "chief" is "first-born," both in creation (ver. 15), and in new creation (ver. 18). But the word employed by the Spirit of God in this last verse for "head," "head of the body," means this and nothing else and Mr. D. never allowed a thought of anything short of it. Nor could any one familiar with his writings or oral teaching have the least question about it. The indulgence of such baseless speculation, both as to his faith and yet more seriously as to scripture, betrays the spirit of error in opposition to the Spirit of truth.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 143. September 1904.
Q. — John 1:1, 2; John 17:3, etc. What scripture would you bring in support of the deity of Christ?
1. John 17:3 refers to the "Father" as "the only true God." A man belonging to the "Faith" sect points out that John 1 makes a distinction between "the word was with God" (should be "the God"), whereas "the word was God" (is not "the God"); and that this prevents him from accepting the statement that Jesus is God in the full sense that the Father is the true God as in John 17.
2. I don't understand Greek, but I notice the verse in the R.V. is weakened by the margin "thy throne O God is," etc. (Heb. 1) which you have quoted in a back number of T.N. & O. in support of the deity of Christ.
3. What answer would you give to those who dismiss the reality of the mount of transfiguration scene, and its proof in favour of the present conscious existence of Moses and Elias, by stating it is only a vision"? What about the heavenly vision"?
4. A "Faith" man argued that "the kingdom" and "Paradise" are the same or similar as "When thou comest into Thy kingdom," with "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." In proof of it, he pointed out that man in Paradise was set over the works of God's hands, and that Paradise was the kingdom, or the beginning of it. QUERIST.
A. — The very first chapter of the first Gospel proves Jesus to be not only the Messiah genealogically, but God and Jehovah. He is Emmanuel, or God with us (Isaiah 7); and He should save His people, Jehovah's people, from their sins. He could say, "Before Abraham was (came into being), I am," the ever being One, or, as in the Revelation, the Alpha and the Omega, First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He was, is, and ever shall be God. No Christian doubts but affirms that He, the Word and Son, became man, but also that He was eternally God. True Christianity depends on His person, as His word assures us who believe; and the denial of it will be, for those guilty of it, their perdition no less righteous than true. So in Rom. 9:5 Christ is declared to be over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
1. As the Father is the true God, so is the Son (1 John 5:20); and we might add the Holy Spirit also. This is proved of the three Persons, if we compare Isa. 6 with John 12:41, and Acts 28:25-27: all the truth, and grace, and glory pertain to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, alike God and Jehovah.
The "faith sect" must be a burlesque of faith, a school of nothing but unbelief. The man referred to understands Greek no better than Querist who owns his ignorance honestly. For the distinction in John 1:1 has nothing to do with the alleged difference, but only with the predicative usage, which in Greek requires the absence of the article, as every scholar knows.
2. Psalm 45:6, 7 is expressly cited by the inspired writer of Heb. 1:8, 9, as proving the Son to be God as well as man.
3. The Transfiguration scene had for its object to give a living sample of the Son of man's future kingdom to the three chosen witnesses; and, as its still more important effect, to make known the glory of Jesus as the Son of the Father, before whom the great representatives of the Law and the Prophets vanish; "hear ye Him." That Moses and Elijah have "present conscious existence" required no such a display; they were like the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and indeed not only all saints, but all souls of men. God is not God of dead but of living; for all live unto Him, " But I say to you, my friends, Fear not those that kill the body, and after this have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom ye shall fear: Fear him who after he hath killed hath authority to cast into hell; yea, I say to you, Fear him." It is to trifle with Him, when any essay to treat the Transfiguration, or the apostle's "heavenly vision," as unreal. God is not mocked.
4. The unbeliever's argument, if so be it can be called, to identify "the kingdom" with "paradise" is mere trash and confusion, and not even the least bit of sound reasoning. The Lord that day entered paradise, and so did the saved robber. The Kingdom will be at His coming. The paradise of Adam was ruined by sin; the paradise of the second Man and last Adam stands in the righteousness of God, and was open that very day to him that had faith in Jesus. Of Him spoke Ps. 8 prophetically, not retrospectively of the first man that fell.
Q. — Rev. 6:9. Who were these saints, and by what means brought to God? A CONSTANT READER OF THE B.T.
A. — It is certain and clear that these saints in question were not of Christian standing, but apparently believing Jews, called after the translation on high of the heavenly saints (of the O.T. as well as of the N.T.), and seen around the throne under the symbol of the twenty-four crowned elders. They on the other hand were seen underneath the altar, as victims offered up to God, "the souls of those that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice," not at all as Stephen did in Acts 7, but like the godly Jewish remnant in the Psalms and the Prophets, "saying, How long, Lord [or, sovereign Master], holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth? And there was given to them each a white robe; and it was said to them that they should rest yet a little while, until both their fellow-bondmen and their brethren who were about to be killed as they, should be fulfilled." Their resurrection to reign with Christ was to come; and Rev. 20:1 describes it for them in Rev. 6 and those to follow them in Rev. 13.
We are not told, as far as I know, by what means they were brought to God; but there is no difficulty in conceiving that He may have wrought immediately, by His grace through the word in some, who were used to act on others, as He has often done even in our day where the more ordinary means failed.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 175. November 1904.
Q. — The great difference between the descent of the Spirit upon Christ as a dove, and upon believers as a cloven tongue of fire, struck me so forcibly that I searched the subject out and saw that He being holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, received the Spirit (not that He was not immaculate by the Spirit from His mother's womb before) as an emblem of purity and harmlessness — a dove; whereas the believer, sinful still, received Him as a cloven tongue of fire. Was not the promise of Matt. 3:11 fulfilled at Pentecost, a baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire? I connected with it 1 Cor. 3:13, to the effect that the believer who is led by the Spirit will not build inflammable structures; but that if he exert his own quenching influence upon the fire of the Holy Spirit, worthless building must result. Then again, 1 Cor. 3:5, "ye are the temple of God; The Spirit dwelleth in you."
Thus the unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12) to me seemed the Spirit Himself who seeks daily to burn up the chaff of flesh and self, and so to transform us more and more into the likeness of Christ. It is the purifying influence of fire, that we generally failed to admit a baptism of fire as coincident.
We speak of allowing the Spirit to work, and so exclude the works of the flesh and expel them too: is not this the purifying work of fire? The symbol seems to fit well. When (1 Cor. 3) the day shall declare our works, how much of flesh shall be burnt up by fire! all man's building undirected by the Spirit. Had the Spirit been allowed to do His work, would not these works have been burnt up at their inception instead of their author's having to suffer loss after this life's close? The "quench not the Spirit," is it necessarily a negative command to the assembly? The accompanying commands seem to be to individuals. Can not an individual effectually quench the Spirit, or does σβέννυτε go too far for this?
If the fire of the Spirit is not for purifying purposes, why the promise in Matt. 3 and the cloven tongue of Pentecost? and is not Matt. 3:12 applicable in great measure here and now, at this present time? And is not this what He is doing continually in us as we pass along? Is it not His will that by this process we should be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ? What means "Our God is a consuming fire?" Q.
A. — It is well to observe that the form of the Spirit's appearance is stated in our Lord's case to be "as a dove," and in the saints "as of fire." There was divine suitability in each; and as gentleness marked the one, so the testimony of the other was to judge and consume as fire all opposing falsehood. But this is not the complete fulfilment of Matt. 3, though a moral witness of what awaits the Lord's execution of judgment on the living at His appearing. As the O.T. often mixes the two comings of Messiah, so did John the Baptist the twofold baptism. Not till He comes again is the winnowing fan in His hand, whence He shall throughly purge His threshing-floor, and gather His wheat into His garner, but also burn the chaff with the unquenchable fire. Surely this last is in no way a moral purifying of faults of the righteous, but the judicial destruction of the wicked. Luke, who brings in the Gentiles, does the same; for His judgment will befall them too.
This is corroborated by the Gospel of Mark, who did not write especially for the Jews as Matthew, but as the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Accordingly in God's wisdom he presents John the Baptist as speaking of Christ's baptising with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), but not a word about the baptism of fire. That baptism took place at Pentecost. So in John's Gospel (John 1:33) we hear of Christ's baptising with the Holy Spirit only. His judgment on the quick is here left out, but will surely be at Christ's second advent.
1 Cor. 3:12-15 has nothing to do with the baptism of fire spoken of in Matt. 3:11, 12, and in Luke 16, 17; nor does any one of them speak of its purifying influence, still less of burning up the chaff of flesh and self. For us the basis was laid in the cross where God condemned sin in the flesh, and as a sin-offering for us, and thus our sinful nature had His judgment executed on it, as well as our sins borne away. No doubt there is also a daily moral government carried on,. as our Lord pointed out in the Vine (John 15), the fruit-bearing branches being cleansed (we read) by the water of the word, whilst the fruitless are left for the fire of another day; but there is no mixing up the two for this day. The transforming into Christ's image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit, is by looking on His glory with unveiled face, after the type of Moses, as 2 Cor. 3 tells us. — Heb. 12:29 refers to Deut. 4:24, in no way to the baptism of the Spirit.
Q. — Do the following scriptures teach that we the children of God shall never see God? "No man hath seen God at any time." "He dwelleth in light, which no man can approach unto." "Whom no man hath seen, nor can see." "He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God." A.J.R.
A. — It seems to me that the querist supplies the answer. The pure in heart are to see God, but Christ is the medium, whether in grace or in glory. Scripture cannot be broken; and both John and Paul intimate that it is Christ who reveals Him to us. The manner of our seeing God is made as plain as His inaccessibility whose essence no man ever saw or can see. The more we know His grace the more let us own His proper majesty and our own place in respect of Him. He is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of those that reign, and Lord of those that exercise lordship, Who only hath immortality, to Whom be honour and eternal might, and the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ shall show it.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 190. December 1904.
Q. — 1. Gen. 1:16. Why the "two great lights" mentioned in the fourth day's work, seeing that the sun is really the centre of our planetary system? and how could it have been dark (ver. 2) if the sun was then in existence?
Q. — 2. Gen. 1:29, 30, Gen. 2:16, Gen. 3:18. By comparing the sustenance of man and beast in Gen. 1:29, 30, Gen. 2:16, with Gen. 3:18, does it not seem as if man was reduced to level of beasts in the field — "thou shalt eat the herb of the field" — and after that it goes on to say "dust thou art, etc.?"
Q. — 3. Gen. 3:15. What is the meaning of thy seed (the devil's seed), and of "thy seed and her seed?
Q. — 4. Luke 4:18. What lesson is to be learnt from the insertion of "recovering of sight to the blind" in Luke 4:18 though absent from Isaiah 61:1? E.N.
A. — 1. The two "great lights" were constituted as they still are (not created then) in relation to the earth prepared for man, like the work of all the six days. The dense darkness that prevailed in the chaotic state which preceded these days easily accounts for the gloom, though the sun, moon and stars were already in existence since God created the heavens and the earth, which took place, it may be, ever so long before the great geologic ages previous to the Adamic race. Not that scripture is occupied with these material processes; but it leaves ample room before the first day in ver. 3.
A. — 2. There was no "reducing" man to fruit and vegetable as his early food till the deluge, when animal fare was allowed with prohibition of the blood with good and holy reason assigned. Man enjoyed even before far beyond "beasts of the field." Yet even so through sin his body is as reducible to the dust as any beast's. But why omit that he only has a soul immortal (for good or for ill) through the inbreathing of Jehovah Elohim? He only was, solemnly in divine council, made "in our image, after our likeness"; the most distinct separateness from, and elevation above, every other creature on earth. Why lose sight of this?
A. — 3. Can there he conceived a weightier announcement, after sin had entered with death ensuing, than Jehovah Elohim made in pronouncing the curse on the Serpent? "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel." While countless souls are by grace associated for all blessing and triumph with the woman's seed, One is marked out, on Whom all the blessed of similar seed depend, Who should suffer the deepest anguish, yet live (again, as we can add) to crush him who was the liar and the murderer from the beginning, and all who, refusing grace, perpetuate the enmity of Satan.
A. — 4. It would seem that the Seventy, who translated the O.T. into Greek, added here from elsewhere in the prophet Isaiah, another beneficent fruit of Messiah's presence and power, the bestowal of sight on the blind. Dean Alford in his note to this text refers to Isaiah 58:6. If this be correctly represented, it is hard to discover the link literally or spiritually. It may be more simply and fairly referred to Isaiah 35:5, where the sense is the same, though the words differ. Luke cites here and elsewhere from the Septuagint. No other lesson seems intended.
Q. — Isaiah 7:14. "Behold, the virgin," etc. It is asked, for some young men stumbled by the allegation of a non-Jewish source, what reply should be given. X. Z.
A. — It was to be expected that Satan would imitate in his lies what God gave as a gracious sign to the incredulous but superstitious and profane Ahaz through the prophet Isaiah. Yet the difference between the true and the false is irresistible, when one weighs the occasion that called forth the original prediction, the character of the alleged sacred books, and the moral aim and effect sought and produced. "What is the chaff to the wheat, saith Jehovah?"
Besides, if it be pretended that a heathen tradition of the kind existed anterior to Isaiah, the believer can point to the first communication, when Adam and Eve sinned in the paradise of Eden. The most obtuse, self-willed, or irrational of rationalists cannot avoid seeing that grace was pleased to give prominence to the "woman," contrary to all natural thoughts and especially at that moment. Nor was it only that "born of woman" was thus singularly predicated of the coming Messiah. It was no less evident that, while He would thus be man, more fully than Adam who was not born, He must be more than man to reach and crush the great spiritual foe, who used a serpent's form for his deadly enmity to God and man. "Immanuel" expresses this, God-with-us. The authentic bears the holy imprint of God's grace and truth; the spurious suits Satan and his seed of lies among men. The time is long come when men turn away their ear from the truth, and turn aside to fables.
Q. — 1. Heb. 8:3. How are we to understand the last clause? What has our Great High Priest in heaven now to offer, seeing He had previously on the Cross offered Himself?
A. — I presume that the Great Priest offered the greatest gift ever presented or presentable to God, Himself dead and risen representing not His person only but His infinite work on the cross.
Q. — 2. Is there any scriptural warrant for the statement that the Lord Jesus offered or presented the church to the Father on the day of Pentecost? W.G.
A. — I see no warrant in scripture for His offering the church to the Father on the day of Pentecost. Such a thought ought not to be uttered without the word of God unambiguously for it. Why should Christians who have the whole revealed mind of God indulge in any fancy of their own?
Q. — Matt. 28. What is the name that should be used in baptising? I believe in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit according to last chapter of Matthew. But in America the majority among so-called O.B. use the name of the Lord Jesus according to the examples in the Acts of the Apostles. A SCOT ABROAD.
A. — Matthew's Gospel is the one which shows and provides for the then approaching transition from Judaism to the kingdom of the heavens, in mystery as it now is, and to the church. Besides, what can be more characteristically Christian than baptising unto the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? This could hardly be even intelligible to the future though godly Jewish remnant, whose faith will be in Jehovah, and His Anointed, Jesus the Lord. Not a few in Gt. Britain similarly misuse the Acts to depart from the true form. In the Acts only the general historical mention is made, and in keeping with its design of the book in asserting the Lordship of Christ, not once in giving the precise formula, save in the spurious verse, Acts 8:37. It is easy to bring in His Lordship also in baptising; but unless to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it scarcely deserves to be accounted proper Christian baptism, as it is an unintelligent and bold annulling of our Lord's express provision till the end of the age when His own are to be gathered into the heavenly garner.
Q. — 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1, 18. Some explain "whosoever" as referring to the new nature. To my mind it refers to the individual. Help is desired and will be appreciated. A.M.
A. — The individual has sustained a change of all moment. "I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live I, but Christ liveth in me; but what I now live in flesh, I live in faith that is of (or in) the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). So in Rom. 7 where this question occasioned immense inward effort and trial of spirit, the soul was brought to see the radical distinction of the new from the old man: and to say "it is no more I that do it [evil], but sin that dwelleth in me," not to excuse but wholly condemn self, and cry for that deliverance which the new man craves and finds in Christ Jesus dead and risen. The apostle John too loves to think and speak absolutely of the believer in his new blessedness. It is clear that if Christ lives in Him, sin cannot result from such a life; equally so, that if one so blessed sin (as in 1 John 2:1), it is from unwatchfulness in prayer which let in such an inconsistency. But John as the rule does not occupy himself with the modifications owing to the mixed condition, and holds to the absoluteness of the truth, as faith is entitled to do by grace. To doubt is not only infirm but a grievous error, and a wrong to Christ's work.
Such is the title of a short paper, which cannot be called a query. The writer seems above inquiry, and filled with Hindu ideas which he attributes to Christians. But it is untrue of the Christian, if it is true of the Hindu, that he regards scripture "as a single, indivisible, and mechanically inspired book, dictated throughout by the Deity, and from which all human elements are jealously excluded."
Now on the face of the Bible, there is the patent fact that it consists, not of "a single book," but of an immense "division:" the older in Hebrew with a small part for good reason in Aramaic; the later in Greek when the door of faith was to be opened to Gentiles; the one occupied with God's ways on earth, the other with His heavenly counsels based on the manifestation of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and of redemption. But yet more its contrast is apparent with the impostures of the Hindu and Arabian, in the vast variety of its writers in the O.T. as well as in the N.T., separated by very many centuries of old, but in a brief space for the more recent; yet with absolute unanimity where the same subject is broached. There is therefore in this and in all other ways the reverse of a "mechanical inspiration" in its many distinct but harmonious books;. by a legislator and a general, by judges and prophets, by kings and great ministers of state, by priest and herdsman by known and unknown; again, in the N.T. by a taxgatherer, and a physician, by fishermen of little learning, and by a tent-maker of great. "Dictated by the Deity" it is not, save in a comparatively small degree in the Pentateuch (chiefly in the latter part of Exodus, and we may say in all Leviticus), and in the later prophets. Nor are "all human elements jealously excluded," but abundantly, considerately, and most touchingly found, as the rule, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation. But it is inspired of God, God-breathed every part of it — "every scripture," as the apostle lays down authoritatively. The Lord Himself and the apostle Paul and Luke often used the Greek translation, not as if it was perfect everywhere but as adequate in its way. No wonder that neither the Veda nor the Koran bear translation, and attain it but slightly for the curiosity of some and of others to refute their vain imagination. The Bible lends itself remarkably to transfusion into all the tongues of men. The grand truth is that God controlled the many writers, notwithstanding their infirmities and allowing each his own style, so as to exclude error and give His word, Who cannot lie and needs not to repent.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 254. May 1905.
Q, — Rom. 8:33, Eph. 1:4, 1 Peter 1:2. Is it right on spiritual grounds to preach election to the unconverted?
A. — It is right to teach election to the living Christians, who show that they are elect by their confession of Christ and the godly walk inseparable from life eternal which they have by faith. Election is then meat in due season, as we see it ministered to our faith by more than one apostle cited above. But it is unscriptural and therefore wrong in a believer's eyes to preach election to the unconverted. The Christian preaches Christ to those who have Him not, that they may turn to God as lost sinners and be saved as believers by His grace.
Leave it to Arminians to preach man's freewill and power to turn, if not to do good. We know that we were slaves of Satan and dead in sins: a state incompatible with their bad doctrine. Leave it to Calvinists to preach election to the world, which can do no good to the lost but only injure them by accepting it in a fatalistic way, while still under the enemy's bondage. They are alike enamoured of their doctrines, true but wholly unsuitable in the latter case, and quite false in the former one. Be content with Christ and Christianity, which are divine. Arminianism and Calvinism are human and may be left for men to squabble about, instead of simply following (as all Christians ought) the word which glorifies Christ by the Spirit, and delivers the believer that cleaves to Him from the narrowness and the error of all human systems.
Take this evidence of it:- Calvinists and Arminians contend with no small acrimony in their common assumption that purchase and redemption are the same thing. He who holds to scripture learns the difference which they ignore. They do not see that the Christian is both bought and redeemed, and that the unbeliever, though not redeemed, is bought, Confounding the two, they cannot convince any but themselves; the Christian who discriminates them is assured that all are bought, even the most wicked (as in 2 Peter 2:1), and that the believer has redemption in Christ, the forgiveness of sins through His blood. Man, whether he believes or not, was purchased by the Lord, is bound to own Him, and is preached to ("all men" and "everywhere") that he may repent and believe the gospel of salvation. Those who believe are by faith forgiven their sins, and enter the family of God as His children, comforted to know their redemption as well as their election by sovereign grace. All the evil was theirs, all the good is of God which for us turns on faith in Christ.
Q. — Acts 20:25. As many are not clear, and some confused by strange doctrine of late about "the kingdom," may I ask what it was exactly that Paul preached as he says? Was it the present dispensational aspect in mystery as in Matt. 13? or was it the moral power as in Rom. 14:17, etc.? W.T.
A. — Neither, as I believe, but that coming intervention of God for changing the heavens and the earth, which the Lord coming in visible power and glory will inaugurate and establish to the joy of all the earth, of Israel and all the nations. How near to the hearts of the heavenly saints it is for Him Who is by grace and at all cost the effectuator of all this harmonious blessedness to the glory of God the Father! Neither gospel nor church obliterated the apostle's value for this grand truth, which has faded from the testimony of many once zealous. Such forgetfulness, or narrowness, or whatever else may be the cause, is surely to be deplored. "To every thing there is a season;" and the apostle warrants it for this truth to be preached, as the Lord Himself did.
Q. — John 1. Is it true that the language of some scriptures is drawn from contemporaneous philosophy as (a) in the opening of the fourth Gospel from Philo the Alexandrian Jew, especially as to the Logos? (b) that moral terms of the Stoics reappear in Paul's Epistles? (c) that early Gnostic expressions were derived from the apostle's Epistle to the Colossians? W.T.
A. — (a) The truth is that God in His grace, who knew the bewilderment of man's mind, not dissipated but deepened by philosophy and the vile half-breed of the Gnostics, either anticipated or answered these unbelieving reveries by the revelation of the truth. Philo was born somewhat before the apostle John, and died long before him, certainly in part a contemporary, yet speaking of his advanced age about A.D. 40. He had no thought of Christ save as a conqueror of the nations and a restorer of Israel to the highest power, honour and enjoyment on earth, and even to the great relief of the brute creation. He believed in the inspiration of the O.T., which he allegorised every. where excessively to suit or teach Platonism, without denying the law or the history. Indeed he held that the law of Moses would rule for ever. But he did not believe that the Lord Jesus was the Son of God or even the Christ. Hence the Gospel of John reveals the Logos in the strongest contrast with all Philo's vapourings which deny the truth of both God and man.
(b) It is not otherwise with the use of moral terms, in great vogue among the Stoics, the proudest and sternest of all heathen philosophers. To live according to nature was their first principle, and a direct ethical lie; because it is evil through sin since the fall, which they wholly disdained. None more radically opposed to man's ruin or to God's grace. The terms if the same have a totally different source and sense in Paul's usage.
(c) The same principle applies to the Gnostical expressions. The Pleroma, the Æons, and the Demiurgus, etc. of scripture uproot and destroy this pretentious school of fantastical error, a different Christianity which was not another. Christ true God and perfect man is the revelation of God, which sets aside the corrupt Gnostic, the self-complacent Stoic, and the dreaming Platonist. If inspiration employed their language, it was in pitiful condescension to impart the truth of God in Christ, which brings to nought their vain, self-righteous, and false ideas.
The Fathers of the second and third centuries were deeply infected with the Alexandrian philosophy which denied that the true God comes down to the earth, or that man's body ever goes to heaven: an error derived from the East. Christ refutes both absolutely in His own person. Justin Martyr, the Hermas of the second century, Clemens Alex., and Origen were all heterodox more or less.
Q. — 1 Thess. 4:13. Does not παρουσία, presence, always refer to the same time as the ἀποκάλυψις or revelation of the Lord? J.J.
A. — When the "presence" or coming of the Lord for the earth and Israel is intended, as in Matt. 24, James 5 etc., it does coalesce in time with His "revelation," "appearing" and "day." So it is also when His "presence with all His saints" is spoken of as in 1 Thess. 3. But it is never so when not thus particularised. Take 1 Cor. 15:23, which does not imply that those who are Christ's arise at His revelation but at His presence long before, though special classes of Apocalyptic martyrs only then. So in 1 Thess. 4 we assuredly do not remain till His "revelation" but His "presence" which raises the dead saints first and then calls up the living, all changed, to meet the Lord in the air. Revelation, or appearing, or day, is carefully excluded. It is His presence for the translation of His own solely, in strong contrast with the "day" in chap. 5. But the conclusive refutation of any such thought is in 2 Thess. 2:1 where His "presence" is bound up strictly by one article in the Greek with "our gathering together unto Him," there again in the most pointed contrast with His "day," which coalesces with His "revelation" and "appearing" in judgment of the "lawless" and wicked generally, as in 2 Thess. 1:2 and 2 Thess. 2:8. No doubt the glorified saints accompany Him when that day dawns. It is His "presence" therefore first for the heavenly, after that for the earthly who only begin to be called in the interval, while the wicked ripen rapidly for judgment when He is revealed.
If we think of breadth and display, the blessed hope is the Lord's appearing to put down and govern all men in righteousness and deliver creation from thraldom. But for the heavenly it is not "the appearing of His presence" but His presence, to receive us to Himself for the Father's house and joys which are far above those even of a regenerated earth.
Q. — 1 Cor. 5, Do not verses
1 imply "leprosy,"
3-5 dealing with the former,
6-8 with the latter (cathartic),
So in 2 Tim. 2:21, is it not purging one's own vessel? J.J.
A. — "Leprosy" here is a fancy. It does not apply in a believer. There is not the least hint of it here or elsewhere in the N.T. as to Christians. Nor does the O.T. warrant it as to such typically, though such an application has been favoured by some. But in 1 Cor. 5 the leaven is the offender who if allowed defiles the assembly; which had not only to purge him out but to purge themselves, according to their standing as unleavened keepers of the feast. In 2 Tim 2 it is not purging out the vessels to dishonour, but purging one's self out, when the evil gets a sanctioned place. One was the assembly still recognised spite of its transient disorder; the other, a state where it could not be owned save for judgment.
Q. — What is the meaning of εὐδιάθετος as opposed to προφορικὸς in J.N.D.'s Notes and Comments, ii. 322 and elsewhere? Can it be that the Editor did not know that Mr. D. must have written ἐνδ. for what is immanent, residing in the mind or unexpressed, as opposed to προφ. actually uttered? These play a large part in Philo and the Alexandrian School of philosophy. There is no such antithesis as εὐδ. to προφ. Is it not a mere guess and a mistake of Mr. D.'s manuscript? X.Y.Z.
A. — The querist speaks correctly, and answers himself for the benefit of those who have the Notes referred to. Mr. D. was thoroughly familiar with these questions among philosophers, easily misunderstood by others not so versed.
Q. — Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3; and Col. 2:10. Christ given as Head to the church over all things is the plain truth of God; but does not Eph. 5:23 convey a different thought? and in what sense are we to understand 1 Cor. 11:3? and Col. 2:10? W.T.
A. — It appears to me that there is no sufficient reason to attribute any real difference to Christ's headship of the church in any scriptures which speak of it. In each passage the great truth is used in a different connection, as to the Ephesians (Eph. 1:22, Eph. 4:15, Eph. 5:23), but His headship remains the same in all; and so it is in Col. 1:18. And what more glorious for us as members of His body?
This is remarkably confirmed by the statement in Col. 2. For the apostle tells the saints, drawn away to Jewish ordinances and to visionary speculation about angels, that all the completeness of the Godhead dwells in Him, and that we are completed in Him, be that we need nothing creaturely outside Him. And he clenches it against the higher invisible hierarchy, of which we are expressly told so little, that He in whom we are thus complete is the Head of every principality and authority, so as to exclude all erratic flights, and satisfy our souls with Him who is not only our Head but after the incomparable nearness of head and body, which is not true of any other headship.
As to 1 Cor. 11:3, it is clearly relative order only, to correct a breach of decorum according to God; and we read that the Christ is the head of every man (ἀνδρὸς, not (a human being) ἀνθρώπου), but woman's head is the man, and the Christ's head God. This is throughout quite outside the church, in which there is neither male nor female. It is the order or respective place for woman in subjection to man, and for Him who in love and for God's glory became Man, the Firstborn, to God who abode unchanged in divine supremacy.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 287. June 1905.
Q. — Rom. 5:12. Is it correct to say that sin did not exist in this world before Adam? We are told that pre-adamite animals are unearthed in Siberia in whose carcases can be distinctly traced disease; and is not all disease the result of sin? How reconcile this with the words of this scripture? ENQUIRER.
A. — On the one hand it has never been proved that any unearthed animal wherein disease is traceable is pre-adamite; nevertheless it is clear that innumerable creatures once alive composed the fossilised strata with which all geologists are familiar. These were deposited ages before the deluge or even the Adamic world. On the other the verse in the Epistle to the Romans is entirely limited to Adam and his descendants; and it is equally clear from Rom. 8:20 that the creature here below was subjected to vanity, not willingly but by reason of him who subjected it, yet in hope that the creature itself also shall be freed from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. Thus the Second man the last Adam is not merely our Saviour but creation's deliverer when we are revealed in His glory and glorified like Himself.
It is however true that above the earth sin broke out before man was created. How far, if at all, this affected pre-adamite animals, the creatures on the earth before Adam, as I am not aware that scripture speaks, I forbear to speculate. The subjection to vanity of which the apostle speaks is confined solely to man's world.
Q. — 2 Tim. 4:13. It has been stated that "if men were really converted, their libraries would go to feed the flames." Is this quite sober? Of course the supposition is that "the parchments" were portions of Holy Writ; but there is the possibility that they were not. Paul quotes on two occasions (Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12) profane poets.
Whether the quotations were remembered from his pre-conversion days or not does not seem to affect the principle involved. If this teaching is of the Spirit, it appears that no Christian, however gifted, should read human writings even with a view to exposing their fallacies in the light of the word of God. Your enquirer fully admits that "all things are lawful; but all things are not expedient," and this question appears to be one in which everyone is to be "fully persuaded in his own mind," always of course before the Lord. X.
A. — It has long seemed to me that the apostle's direction has a larger bearing than is generally apprehended. He desired the cloak left behind in Troas rather than to procure a new one; "the books" too, which do not appear from the general expression to have been the scriptures; and "most of all, the parchments." These naturally imply that, being of the most valuable and lasting material, and not yet written on, they were wanted by the apostle, conscious that his outward ministry was closing. "For I am already being poured out, and the time of my release is all but come." Can we conceive of anything more present to his spirit than the desire to have his Epistles copied with care under his own eye and for permanent use? When he originally wrote, as to the Thessalonians and others, he was perfectly aware of its inspired character, and adjured by the Lord that what he wrote should be read to all the brethren. And in the next letter, as he speaks of a spurious one to mislead the saints, he drew attention to each of his conveying at least the salutation by his own hand. We can the better understand the distinction drawn between the written books which had no sacred character, and the unwritten parchments destined to the most important use at the moment when he could say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He would not on his journeys, we way he well assured, leave behind a single roll he had of the scriptures; but he neither burnt nor despised other books. Yet all he writes shows a soul wholly above the indulgence of the mind, and repudiating all authority but God's in divine things.
Q, — Heb. 10:25. 1. Is it correct that this verse refers to other than the Lord's Supper and prayer meeting for exhortation?
2. Does not Pliny's well-known letter give the idea that in early days, believers met together daily, and that at the commencement of the day, to commend themselves to the care of Christ? The practice now seems to be to meet at the close of the long day's work, when all freshness is gone. The reason adduced seems to be "convenience," but should this reason be admitted?
3. In apostolic times were there set meetings for prayer, for scripture study, etc., when it was considered wrong to deviate from a fixed motive? or is it that whenever the saints were assembled together there was absolute liberty either to praise, pray or exhort? X.
A. — 1. It is true that the passage in Heb. 10 does not specify the gathering together for the Lord's Supper; but it in no way excludes exhortation from that great occasion. This is manifest from Acts 20:7. The prime call was to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread. Yet the apostle was not the one to violate divine order when he not only "discoursed" (not "preached"), but in view of his departure on the morrow prolonged the discourse till midnight. No doubt in 1 Cor. the Lord's Supper is treated in 1 Cor. 11 before and independently of the interior working of the assembly in 1 Cor. 14, or even of its animating power in the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 12. There might be but "two or three"; and the grace of the Lord provides for even so few who might not be endowed with any marked charisma for public activity. If man would have overlooked such little ones, God did not; and hence, gift or no gift, we have the Lord's Supper a section complete before the Holy Spirit's presence and action begins. But this was in no way to exclude His working there and then both ordinarily and extraordinarily as in the case of the apostle just named, and recorded for our profit to guard us from all narrowness, where it might he called for as at Troas. The principle is, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). Not even the deep solemnity with thanksgiving proper to the Lord's Supper excludes prolonged discourse in especial circumstances, as scripture proves. Again, the highest form of gift in the assembly does not only speak to God in prayer and praise and blessing, but to men in edification and encouragement and consolation as the Holy Spirit might guide in His perfect knowledge of present need to God's glory. Thus should all things be done to edification, but comelily and with order, of which scripture is careful.
2. Pliny in writing to Trajan does not speak of a daily meeting but of one before dawn "on a stated day," no doubt "the Lord's day," though Justin Martyr may be the first outside scripture to describe it more fully still. It is as clear that at Troas the meeting was late in the day or in the evening, and on this occasion prolonged till midnight. This is mere detail and left for observance according to a gracious arrangement for the best according to circumstances; just as no stress was laid on the kind of bread, whatever was the fact on the original institution of the Lord's Supper. Certain minds always tend to formalism — the reverse of Christianity.
3. Besides the gathering of the assembly to remember the Lord and to edify one another in the Spirit, there were set occasions for "the prayers" from the first, as we read in Acts 2:42 generally, and in Acts 12:12 particularly. There is thus room for all that is edifying; whilst the fact of the special object "to break bread" or "to pray" indicates the wisdom of adhering as the rule in each to its own character prominently. Why should anyone seek to break this down by narrowing, or to broaden what scripture lays down?
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 303. July 1905.
Q. — Lev. 13. What is the true explanation of the leper here? J.J.
A. — Surely it typifies a sinner cleansed from impurity otherwise fatal, rather than a saint overtaken by the way. It is ruinous evil in a man's condition beyond means or hope, and not merely the fallen state of a male or female child, as in Lev. 12 which it also seemed good to divine wisdom to impress on Israel. Nothing short of the work of Christ in type could avail for either. But it appears quite illegitimate to tone down a defilement so deadly as leprosy to anything but the effect of sin in all its malignity. Here it is not its healing but its cleansing when healed by the adequate and unnamed power of God. To meet its terrible result we have first the figure of Christ's death and resurrection applied to pronounce him clean and the man subsequently washing his clothes, shaving all his hair, and washing his person. Nor does this effect all; for Jehovah would have him, after a careful purifying on the seventh day, to appropriate on the eighth the value of Christ in all the fulness of His sacrifice, as the trespass-offering, sin-offering, burnt-offering and meal-offering. As the priest applied of the blood of the trespass-offering to the right ear, right thumb, and great toe of the right foot, so of the log of oil to the same emblematic parts of the body; that his hearing, his service, and his walk must be manifestly thus brought under the power of redemption and of the Holy Spirit. So minute and complete is the analysis of the virtue of Christ's work, so varied and comprehensive the exigencies for the sinner's perfect cleansing before God; who would have us know the ungrudging provision of His grace. The true figure under the law for restoring one passingly defiled is the very different sprinkling the unclean with the red heifer's ashes in the water of separation (Num. 19).
Q. — Dan. 7, 8, 11, Rev. 13, 19. The article in B.T. for Feb. pp. 212, 13 raises questions. "Who can doubt?" says the writer. I can for one, what is taught of the king of the north as "like the second Beast." Why is he not the second beast? or "King" of Dan. 11:36? E.C.J.
A. — It ought not to be a difficulty that as Dan. 7 treats of the Western Empire with its head which Rev. 13 and 17 declare is to be revived, but destroyed by the Lord's appearing, so Dan. 8 tells us of a great offshoot, north-east of Palestine, from the third or Greek empire which is to afflict the chosen people at that "time of the end," with both craft and violent power. This therefore is quite distinct from the internal enemy of God who reigns in the land and is a Jew, in fact the Antichrist. Whereas the king in chap. 8 answers to "the overflowing scourge," the retribution for "the covenant with death and agreement with hell," the contract between the Roman Empire and the apostate Icing. Though for all three is the same doom, they ought to be distinguished. Compare Isa. 30, which tells of "the king" as well as the Assyrian or the north-eastern power, as Rev. 19 tells it of the western empire with its ally the king of the Jews in that day. It is clearly the same power which in Dan. 11, is designated as "the king of the north" in distinction from "the king of the south" (or, of Egypt), with "the king" between them. But here again, the distinction is plain, however many may have failed to see it. We should rather compare the king "of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences" to a quasi-Solomon than to a rabbi. But the sense is the same if the degree differs; and it is natural enough for an oriental Gentile to affect wisdom and entangle the Jews before he turned to besiege and overwhelm them. But this could not be the policy of the false Messiah or of his Roman ally. Compare a Gentile; for so described is the prince of Tyre (Ezek. 28:3).
In short Dan. 7 and 8 must not be confounded. One is western, the other eastern; and both distinct from the wilful king of Dan. 11:36, who will have his ally in the one, his antagonist in the other, at the time of the end, when all three perish awfully. Their judgment with the subsequent one of Gog (Ezek. 38, 39), the last of the hateful and persistent foes of Israel, will be a large part of God's lesson whereby the world's inhabitants learn wisdom, and bow to Messiah's kingdom and personal reign for a space without example, before the heavens and earth that are now melt into the new heavens and 'earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, the eternal state, when God is all in all.
Q. — Luke 13 and 15. Many believers would value your judgment on the enclosed tract ("The Strait Gate, and the Prodigal Son"). Is its teaching scriptural? G.S.Bh.
A. — No wonder that sober Christians are disturbed by these speculations. We way not set scripture against scripture in our zeal for the full gospel of grace. The sermon on the mount is no more the gospel of the kingdom than that of Christ's glory. The reception of Christ by the true action of the Spirit and the word was always requisite, which works both faith and repentance in the soul. On this the Lord insists in Luke 13:24 as in Matt. 11:12 and John 3:3-5; the form and figures suiting its own context, but the same truth substantially. To be born anew goes to the root of the need, is a vital want, and cannot be without painful exercise before God, expressed in the first case by striving at all cost to enter through the narrow door into God's kingdom. In the glad tidings is His answer to what the heart craves for peace and joy.
This is anticipatively shown in the three parables of Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost piece of silver, the lost son: activity in straying, insensibility Godward, and on the soul's self-judgment, the full revelation of the Father's love and the riches of grace in "the best robe" and all other blessing in the communion of His love. It is false that a backsliding saint is here contemplated. How can any instructed Christian err so profoundly? Is a fallen believer a "lost" one, as the Lord here reiterates? Is it not the full salvation of the sinner's soul? Who could allow or teach that it is the restored saint that receives "the best robe," the ring, the sandals, the fatted calf, the joy shared with God when the dead one came to life, and the lost one was found?
There is no real difficulty in the "two sons" as the Lord spoke. For man naturally is by Luke treated as "God's offspring": so the apostle preached to the heathen Athenians; with which we may compare Luke 3:38, as to Adam so constituted by God in contrast with the brute, or the clean animal. He only had an immortal soul and must give account to God; but after the fall and all God's dealings he is pronounced "lost," and needs a new nature, as well as redemption, whereby he becomes a child, and an adopted son of God by grace. The natural relationship could not avail against sin: and self -righteousness made things worse for the "elder brother." Hence evidently the "elder brother" fully confirms the just application, and refutes the blunder that either one or other as such means a son of God by faith in Christ Jesus. This the prodigal does become when he comes not only to himself but to the Father; this the elder son, as far as the parable teaches, does not become, whatever his pretensions, and whatever the external privileges shown here. The upshot is that He "would not go in"; he has no part in the Father's joy of grace. He has only satisfaction in himself, reproaches for the saved sinner, and insult for the God of all grace and His boundless goodness to "this thy son."
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 320. August 1905.
Q. — 1 John 5:18. Here is a man who, born again, has gone on rejoicing in the knowledge of all his sins forgiven, yet at length gives himself up to evil (say, drunkenness, and dies in this reprobate state. Does scripture give us light on such a case? J.H.
A. — Surely it does. He is one of the many who deceive themselves, and say that they have fellowship with God while walking in darkness; whereas they lie and do not the truth (1 John 1:6). It is easy for unconverted souls, especially when emotional excitement prevails, to think themselves born of God when they are not, and never realised either their utter guilt and ruin, or God's grace in life eternal and remission. High pressure in appeal to feeling as in reasoning, on "the plan of salvation" tends to this imagination that all is right, which may carry souls along for no short time, and in zealous efforts to win others; though the conscience has never been before God either in true self-judgment or in submitting to His righteousness in Christ. There never was a seed of God remaining in such souls. It was but flesh, which perishes in the wilderness. It is too much to assume that they were born of God. They may have had joy in the thought of plenary forgiveness but not abiding peace with God, and so become castaway or reprobate. Heb. 6:4-8 is as strikingly solemn to show how far flesh can go in appropriating Christian privilege, short of life eternal or the new birth; as vers. 17-20 give strong consolation to the weakest believer, however tried. For it would be hard to find in the N.T. true faith set out in terms less hold than "having fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us." Yet is it all-sufficient. Never does Scripture suppose one born anew perishing in his sins. But we way easily be mistaken in counting souls renewed who are not.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 334. September 1905.
Q. — Matt. 24, 25. Is it true that Christians, real and professing, have nothing to do with these chapters, and that both relate to Israel and to the kingdom, to the Son of man and to the King of Israel? Q.
A. — This statement is not true, though there may be a superficial appearance in the reason alleged. Even there it illustrates how dangerous is a little learning when it speaks oracularly. For the remarkable fact is that "the Son of man" as such has no real place in the central one of its three sections (Matt. 24:45 - 25:30). This does relate to Christendom, and neither to Israel in view of the kingdom as the first part, nor to all the nations or Gentiles as the last part, which on the face of it cannot relate to Israel. It is well-known that in the only verse of the intermediate part of the Christian profession, good and bad (Matt. 25:13), the last clause is spurious. Therefore, it is strikingly absent here, and is only used where the Lord refers to His ancient people, and to all the nations, as in Dan. 7. The little work entitled "The Prophecy on Olivet" might help, or yet more the volume "Christ's Coming Again, chiefly on its heavenly Side".
Q. — Acts 20:7. Is every Christian whose faith is sound and walk godly admissible when known as such to the Lord's Supper? J.O.S.
A — The principle is sound; but in the growing confusion care is due to the Lord that it be rightly applied so as not to cover ungodliness in either way by evil communications which corrupt good manners and defile even when personal appearance seems right. There are vast numbers, besides Papists, who now countenance idolatry in their so-called worship. There are very many, both Nationalists and Dissenters, who sanction or are indifferent to the scepticism of the Higher Critics. It would be wicked to make either of these free of the Lord's Table. They are enemies of the truth, and to allow their fellowship is a sin. Their belonging to some ecclesiastical system where such things notoriously flourish, to which they are attached, is a necessary ground to refuse them as long as they persevere in an evil association. Otherwise it is to blow hot and cold, and to adopt in what represents the church of God the laxity of the world which knows not God. In the case of relatives, friends, or the like, peculiar caution is due, lest in amiable feeling we should compromise Christ. In early days we had neither the idolatrous evil nor the sceptical one as we have now. The shadows of the coming apostasy are around us. Let us increasingly watch unto prayer and in jealousy for Christ's glory, and in true love to Christians.
Let me here warn those who would cleave to the Lord's name to beware of the recent tracts of W. S. and W. L. P. as special pleading and compromise, the latter too in a tone not quite becoming the most mature and honoured if such he were. It is diligently kept hidden, if known, that the two perhaps most intelligent of the Ten were thorough partisans of B. W. N., and seceded from Bethesda, not only because the Newtonian advocates were got rid of privately, but because of the seven meetings in which his evil doctrines were condemned (very much through pressure from without, as of B. Ch. and others), even G.M. joining pointedly. It is well-known too that another whose place was high among them strongly sympathised with N.'s errors. And the fact is that the seceding two tried to establish a Newtonian meeting in Bristol and had B.W.N. to aid them in it. When this failed, they sought readmission to Bethesda, and were received on their saying that they ought not to have seceded!! That this was all sought by Bethesda from themselves I know from letters written at the time in answer to strict enquiry, by Messrs. G.M. and J, Meredith severally on one side, and by the seceders or at least R.A, on the other.
Many years have elapsed; but I am sorry to say now as then that the Letter of the Ten made it a day for the faithful and true to renounce Bethesda and all that tolerate its abjuring the prime duty of God's assembly; that the seven meetings were fairer in word than in deed and truth; and that their proceedings both in getting rid of the Newtonians by a private door instead of a public judgment, and in receiving back the guilty pair who sought in vain to exploit a Newtonian meeting with its leader flaunted before all eyes, proved their indifference to a false Christ, their jealousy only for their own honour. I was one then of the not few who regretted that J.N.D. so hastily gave credit to the sincerity of Bethesda and its leaders. But God is faithful, and overruled. Yet who was not shocked at the rude and self-righteous repulse his too confiding spirit received? And what are we to think of G.M. and wife, years after all the denunciations and without any further self-judgment on B.W.N.'s part, daring without a blush to travel from Bristol to Tunbridge Wells to hear N.'s reading or sitting lecture, and to declare the value he set on N.'s writings?
Far from me to despise any one's little measure of knowledge; but how can one avoid indignation at such a tissue of unfaithfulness to Christ, without piling the agony? No, dear brethren, unless there be, on the part of the intelligent at least, a real clearance from such evils, our painful duty is to stand aloof and separate to Christ, however abused and disliked for His name we may still be. Those who never went through the deep grief and shame are hardly the persons to judge wisely or to speak with weight.
Q. — 2 Cor. 9:15. What is God's unspeakable gift? H.H.H.
A. — Every Christian ought instinctively to answer that it is His grace in Christ. Nothing else in "unspeakable"; nor is anything easier to count than a little money in remembrance of the saints poor in this world. So, in urging liberality according to God in 2 Cor. 8:9, the apostle points to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who "being rich became poor that by His poverty ye might become rich" in a way incomparably above the world's wealth. Only Christ applied in faith gives us the truth of anything.
Q. — 1 John 3:7-10. Is the state which characterises the child of God absolute? And is it so also with the child of the devil? AMOS.
A. — The language of the apostle is unqualified. Nor could it be otherwise where grace gives a new nature, for it is to have life eternal in Christ. There ought to be no difference as to this among the simplest saints gathered to the Lord's name. To hear of "one teacher opposed to another" or to what is so plain in scripture is strange. "A lake of fire" too may be a symbol; but it figures unutterable woe and unending punishment for those cast therein, exceeding all possible by the literal terms. We are bound to give the largest scope to the judgement of God no less than to His grace.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 351. October 1905.
Q. — Eph. 2:7. Is it God's kindness toward us through Christ Jesus shown to His saints, or to wondering worlds? W.B.
A. — We are assured of it now through and in Christ: nothing could exceed this proof. Then it will be the display of it in us when like Him and sharing His glory, to the principalities and powers above as well as to the world, Israel and the nations below, blessed as they may be. The glory will demonstrate the love. Compare John 17:22, 23, and Eph. 1:9-14, when that purpose is fulfilled. We know it by faith and have the earnest of the Spirit also beforehand.
Q. — The great denominations of Christendom, from Rome downwards, are all wrong in their constitution and outward form, and should be separated from. But where the constitution, the outward form, is correct, like the various sections of Brethren, does not scripture seem to show that there should be no separation, whatever the evil, but that saints should stay within, and strengthen the things that remain (e g. 3 John, the Seven Churches, etc.)? Does not this seem to derive all the greater force from the fact that there appears to be no instance of separating from the outward thing? Surely saints could remain within and remember the Lord without setting up another table though in daily walk only associate, or follow, with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Immoral persons it is clear should be put out. Those going out would then manifestly not be saints, not being in fellowship. X.Y.Z,
A. — Resemblance in outward form is no sufficient warrant that the saints are truly gathered to the Lord's name. There might be acceptance of fundamental evil in the allowance of a false Christ, either on the human side or the divine. Communion with one who does not bring the doctrine of Christ, as 2 John proves, is more fatal than any moral laxity, wicked as this would be, and demands more stringency, as He is of infinitely more weight than any or all professing Christians. Even ordinary greeting is forbidden to such a deceiver and antichrist. Indifference to such sin is to become a partaker of the evil deeds, even if one does not imbibe the evil doctrine. 2 Tim. 2 also is clear that when evil is allowed within, and vessels to dishonour are sanctioned instead of being excluded, the faithful are bound to separate. If a so-called Christian assembly keeps them in defiance of all right call to purge them put as leaven, the true saint must purge himself out, in order to be a vessel unto honour, and to follow all that is godly with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
The Apocalyptic churches do not touch discipline or polity, but the Lord's dealing with them, from decline and peril of the candlestick removed to the final spuing out of His mouth. The argument of hence denying responsibility to withdraw goes so to contradict our duty as shown elsewhere as to evince its falsity and evil. For it would compel us to have fellowship with Nicolaitan antinomianism, fornication, adultery, etc. What proves too much disproves itself. Tolerating evil under the Lord's name is intolerable; and no evil is so bad as heterodoxy as to Christ, whether held or winked at and unjudged. To give it licence of the Lord's table is heinous sin.
Q. — As to receiving from the sects conditionally, is there not a great difference in the sects of today compared with those of Paul's day (Corinthian rebuke)? Undoubtedly the denominations of today took their rise in dark times mainly in their struggle for the truth, and without, apparently, any knowledge of unity as characteristic of the church of God? X.Y.Z.
A. — The awful fact now is that all the denominations are more and more contaminated with the infidelity cloaked under the name of "Higher Criticism." This makes it increasingly difficult to allow Christians, so careless and indifferent to God's dishonour, a place at the Lord's supper until they clear themselves of such a compromise. If orthodox and holy, we welcome them.
Q. — An evangelical clergyman was preaching in the open air and spoke of Jesus as pouring out His Godhead on the cross ("My God, my God, why" etc.). Surely that cannot be a right application of the scripture. X.Y.Z.
A. — If the Evangelical said as is reported, he uttered folly; and if he understood his own words, he was heterodox. Probably he knew not what he said, carried away by the desire to make known the infinite humiliation of our Lord on the cross. But He emptied Himself of the glory proper to a divine Person; He could no more cease to be God, than we to be men; and had it been possible, it would have deprived both His life and death of that which makes each infinitely acceptable to God and efficacious for us.
Bible Treasury Volume N 5, p. 379. December 1905.
Q. — Luke 16:9. What does this mean? E.G.R.
A. — The Jew was losing his earthly place through rejecting God in Christ. Yet grace wrought not only to save the lost (as shown in Luke 15), but also to set aside wealth and honour in this world, and all is changed as to the use of present possessions, which are turned into a path of heavenly fruit for heaven. The Jew was steward for God but abused his trust. The Gentile was and is nothing. The disciple of Christ may follow the unjust one for present life in his prudence of looking out for the future. But our future is in heaven. The world is really bankrupt. True wealth is in the world to come. These are the real privileges to faith, our own things; whereas present things are Another's, which we are called to sacrifice freely in view of glory on high, instead of hoarding "the unrighteous mammon" as men like to do. We are entitled to treat money as "the mammon of unrighteousness," looking to be received, when it fails, "into the everlasting habitations."
That they may receive you" is only a mode of speech for "that ye may be received;" as we may infer from similar phraseology in Luke 6:38-44, which really means "shall be given" into your bosom, instead of "shall men give." For in fact men do not so give. It is an ignorant misuse of the phrase. Compare Luke 12:20, Luke 14:25. We cannot have two masters; and are bound as Christians to imitate the God of grace. If not faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who shall entrust to us the true? and if we have not been faithful in what is Another's, who shall give us our own — what we are to share with Christ? We are called to follow in His steps, who though rich for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich.
Q. — Luke 16:22, 23; Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31. Light is requested on Hades and Paradise in these texts. W.W. (Ottawa).
A. — As this has been answered repeatedly, the querist is referred to "The Preaching to the Spirits in Prison" The subject is there fully discussed.
Q. — John 4. Was the Samaritan woman there and then indwelt by the Holy Spirit? or could this be true of any one before the Spirit was sent forth on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2)? F.F.
A. — The woman was begotten anew at the well of Sychar that day. But this, though a most momentous operation of the Spirit, quite differs from the gift of the Spirit which only came after the Lord ascended to heaven. When unbelievers, we need to be begotten or born of the Spirit; when we believe the gospel and rest on the Saviour's finished work, we are sealed of the Spirit, and not before. "Because ye are sons (not, to make you sons), God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father." All saints had been begotten anew; but none received the indwelling Spirit till Pentecost and afterwards. The Lord told the woman of the great gift He was going to give; but she had to wait for the new gift with the apostles and all else till that day. And so it is today. We are first born anew; and then when we give up our efforts to better ourselves, and rest on Christ's work, we receive the Spirit, entering into peace and liberty, not before. Eph. 1:13, often quoted to show that when we are born anew we are sealed by the Spirit, proves on the contrary that we are not sealed till we believe the gospel of salvation. This is faith far beyond what overwhelmed one under the weight and guilt of our sins. To jumble the two together is to hinder both, as many do. They are quite distinct operations of the Spirit; and the agony of the one makes us enjoy all the more the peace of the other. How any Christian can doubt the word, or forget his own experience, is strange and sorrowful. For such unbelieving confusion enfeebles his judgment and hinders his spiritual power. He cannot adequately apprehend either what the Christian is, or the Church, till he bows to the new privilege.
Q. — Acts 26:23. "That He should be the first that should rise from the dead." How reconcile this with Luke 9:30? "There talked with Him two men which were Moses . . . ." Was Moses there only in spirit, or, risen from the dead? Christ was "the first." X.Y.Z.
A. — There is no difficulty as to Elijah who did not rise from the dead. And it is not said that Moses did, though one may not be able to explain more than that both appeared in glory at the transfiguration. But scripture cannot be broken: Christ is the first-fruits.
Q. — Acts 2:30. "Of the fruit of his loins." How, if Joseph was only his reputed father? X.Y.Z.
A. — The reality of the Lord's manhood lay in His being born of Mary who was "the Virgin" of David's house. If He had not been Son of God really on the other side, the truth of His Godhead would have been overthrown. If He had not enjoyed the rights of the Solomon line through Joseph legally, though but reputedly, He was not the true Messiah according to Jehovah's oath to David. In Luke 3, ''as was supposed son of Joseph" is the right parenthesis; and "being of Eli, of Matthat," etc. is the genealogical line, a distinct construction. Eli was father of Mary, as the Talmud admits; and to her accordingly the visit of Gabriel was made. In Matthew the visions were to Joseph, son of Jacob, the Messianic and Solomonic line; in Luke, it was to Mary.
Q — Rom. 6:4. I gather that the believer is here viewed as having died in Christ's death; that he is entitled to regard himself thus; and that his baptism is the confession of this truth. But what means "buried with Him by baptism unto death?" W. B.
A. — Is it true that we are ever said to have died in Christ? or is it a bit of Calvinistic misapprehension of the truth, making mystic what is really experimental, however truly and rightly based on faith? What the passage says is that we died with Christ; that baptised unto Christ Jesus we were baptised unto His death. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism unto death; in order that as Christ was raised out of dead [men] through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life." Buried with Him is a confirmatory figure drawn from having been under the water of death. Compare ver. 6. Without Christ we had lain there; but we are identified thus with His death to give us quittance from sin, and therefore to live no longer in it. The next chapter (Rom. 7) shows that it was not without proving the futility of legal efforts after we received life. Thus we were brought to own what His death is, not for pardon merely but deliverance.
Q. — 1 Cor. 5. Is there leprosy as well as "leaven" meant here? E.B.D.
A. — There is not the most distant allusion to leprosy. The brother, who thinks those with whom he no longer walks need to revise their teaching, has now to beware of delusion. Leprosy in the O.T. (Lev. 13:14) is typical of unremoved sin. Only divine power could meet the case. The priest was called in both to pronounce on it and see to the entire separation of the unclean from the camp of Israel; but, if it were healed, to see to his cleansing in the fullest way. This typifies a sinner brought to God with the utmost care for its completeness up to eighth-day provision. It is in no way the mere restoration of a saint defiled (which is given in Num. 19).
It is a ridiculous mistake to make out leprosy in ver. 1 and leaven in ver. 2. Both verses, indeed all the first five, relate to the same "wicked person," as he is called in ver. 13. The apostle's judgment in 3 and 5 is about him. "Leaven," as figuring what was to be excluded from the Feast of unleavened bread which the Passover introduced, is applied to the case in 6 and 8. Leprosy is nowhere save in a fanciful brain. The apostle's exhortation is to urge dealing with a so-called "brother," and not with the world which must be left to God; but the assembly's responsibility is to judge "those within." "Purge out" in 7 refers indubitably to "leaven" without the least reference to the saints themselves; "put out" is the application to "the wicked" person in question. The zeal against exclusivism which forges such a weapon as this can damage only the cause which deduces from this chapter "that a leavened person is not to be put away!" If a leavened person, were allowed and kept in when proved, it would defile the entire assembly.
Bible Treasury Volume N 6, p. 30. February 1906.
Q. — John 4. Was the woman at Sychar born again only? Is not this true of all saints from Abel downwards? Did she receive any living (ver. 10) source of refreshment for the heart beyond O.T. saints? W.H.T.
A. — She was born anew the day she met and believed on Christ, Who told her of the living power of the Holy Spirit to be given to her in due time. This nobody received till after redemption was accomplished, and Jesus was glorified on high.
Q. — Why do we not read of the apostles being baptised with Christian baptism?
A. — It would be hazardous to undertake explaining why the apostles were not baptised With Christian baptism, though some or all may have had John's baptism; which Acts 19 proves not to he equivalent. But we can gather from it what a comfort the fact is to such as from a variety of circumstances had not been baptised duly, and did not feel it well or wise to go through the form after enjoying church fellowship for ever so many years, when the initiatory sign of a Christian would have lost its meaning or conveyed a false one.
Q. — Could you please inform me if there is a scripture which tells us exactly when and where the judgment seat will be? (2 Cor. 5:10) R.R.T.
A. — The great importance of the Bema of Christ is that every one in his own time and place shall be manifested and give account of the things done in the body. But saint or sinner will make a difference of moment. It appears to me that for the heavenly saints it will be above, just before the Marriage-supper of the Lamb, long after we are translated to heaven in sovereign grace, and just before we are manifested with Christ in glory. What else can be meant by the bride making herself ready? See Rev. 19:7, 8. Thus is the place of each determined for the Lord's appearing in His kingdom. Only in this passage is there such an apparent reference. And very beautiful and touching it is that it should only be then. For the wicked it will be before the great white throne in Rev. 20. This is judgment.
Q. — Would you say the "gifts" (in Ephesians at least) are certain characteristics of Christ, to be displayed here on earth? X.Y.Z.
A. — Certainly, but from Him ascended on high, as the citation from Ps. 68 shows. This falls in with the character of the Epistle, not so much operations of the Spirit's power in the way of signs to man, as the gifts to the church of Christ's love who is in the heavenly places.
Q. — 1 Thess. 4:17. What will be the actual place of the Lord and His heavenly saints during the Millennium? W.B.
A. — Without doubt, in the heavenlies, where even now we are blessed in Christ. But this does not hinder reigning over the earth in general, nor the striking fact of His standing on the Mount of Olives. The rent of the mountain, still undivided and a standing witness to what awaits fulfilment, will be part of His rescue of His people when hard pressed. But His standing again on the mount of Olives, whence He ascended to heaven, will be the clear witness of His peacefully possessing Himself de facto of all the earth, as the prophet tells us.
Q, — 2 Tim. 2:21. What is the relation between the purging here mentioned, and the government of the "great house"? Were the vessels to honour to go out, refuse any longer to obey the rulers, and set up a government of their own? G.B.St.G.
A. — The evil predicted for the last days is such that the apostle speaks not of saints but of "men," "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3); and his direction to the faithful is, "from such turn away." This was not to "go out" from the house of God but to be separate from the evil done in the Lord's name. It is in no way to leave God's house but due to Him; it is to depart from evil, but not to forsake the Christian profession. They were to have nothing to do with wicked rulers or wicked ruled. These alike were vessels to dishonour, and one is bound by the inspired word to purge oneself out from them (2 Tim. 2:21). If so, and not otherwise, one shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared for every good work. But there is to be no slight of fellowship: one is called to court and cleave to it with all that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Thus indeed we are under all circumstances to obey God, certainly not to obey the rulers who disobey God. We are never to "set up a government of our own" (which is what almost all Christendom does, though in different ways), but fall back on that organization and rule which God established and His word makes plain, as far as it is still existent. For it is clear that apostles were not permanent, though then inspired; and that they personally chose elders in every church, but left no provision for perpetuating them. But if we have not apostolic authority to choose regularly, we know what their desired qualities should be, and are bound to own such as are so far fit. Again, we have gifts, evangelists, pastors and teachers, which never depended on ordination, but only on Christ and His unfailing love for the church. So that there is no real ground for discouragement, though we need living faith.
To act on this scripture is the very reverse of schism; for schism means splitting what God sanctions. But God does not sanction going on with known vessels to dishonour in evil or error. On the contrary it is He who directs and sanctions our purging ourselves out, after that all right means fail, tried in vain to purge out those unworthy vessels. This is His answer to that difficulty, and as plain as it is righteous and orderly. His church is the last place to make a refuge for iniquity, and the Fathers proved their iniquity in making it so. It is not a direction to a Timothy or a Titus only. It is incumbent on every faithful soul who is sure of the dishonour done to God: ἐὰν οὖν τις, "if any one therefore purge," etc. This is surely unanswerably certain.
We are still bound to own the one body, and disown the denominations of men. And as the Lord makes the duty obligatory to quit a fellowship where evil is allowed and refused to be dealt with according to God's word, so He has given in Matt. 18:20 the precious resource in the constitutive principle with which the church began: "where two or three are gathered together unto (εἰς) My Name," (not Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, or any other sectarian system) "there I am in the midst." And this precious principle assures us of the same sufficient and all-worthy and efficacious centre for all saints to the end. He is worthy, the one Head of the one body, whatever the members may do; and the one Spirit abides to give it living power where there is faith to act on the word of His grace. To remain in the evil condemned is to rebel against God's word, and set one part of His word against another. Is not this evident?
Q. — Rev. 3:9. What is meant by "those who say that they are Jews, and are not, but do lie?" and what by their homage before the representative of the church in Philadelphia? S.Y.
A. — It is a synagogue of Satan, as we are told here and in Rev. 2:9. The existence of a party among the professors of Christ, who abandon walking in the Spirit, and take the judaised position of antiquity, historical continuance, saving ordinances, and priestly order. As a matter of fact this was openly advanced in the second and third centuries when heathen persecutions also raged; and it broke out afresh in the nineteenth century not only for Great Britain and her Colonies but the United States of America, Germany, Holland, etc. It was Satan's effort, when it began; and it was realised afresh when God's grace was recalling the faithful to Christianity and the Church in their true and heavenly character as in the Spirit. But even those so misled are compelled to feel and own that, as far as man can judge, the love of Christ rests on those who utterly deny this retrogradism from heavenly relationships to "the weak and beggarly elements" which dominate them. The grace and truth which came through Christ are as far as possible from fine buildings, fine music, and fine sermons. For we are not of the world, but above it, and go along with His reproach. How far and in what way the adversaries shall come to do homage, it is not for us to say. Even now the most prejudiced feel in their conscience who they are that have His word and His love abiding in them.
Q, — What is the chief error (or errors) of the Seventh Day Adventists? I believe they teach annihilation of souls. A.Y.
A, — They used to be called Millerites, the leader being bold enough to set a certain day for the Lord's coming in 1844, which of course was untrue. Now, if numerous, they are in various portions, rejecters of all the truth of Christianity. Their new name proclaims this really for them all. For as the sabbath or seventh day was under the law a sign between Jehovah and Israel, and the memorial of the old creation, the Lord's day or first day is characteristic of grace and the new creation. They are therefore stamped on their own profession as men that say they are Jews, and are not, but lie. Turning their back on the faith, they make themselves debtors to the law which condemns all that fail, and especially apostates from Christianity. No wonder that they deny the heavenly hope, hold the soul's sleep or its extinction, and look for resurrection (if at all) for the earth, when only eternal life is given, with no more than a promise now. But many deny the Lord's deity, etc. They are not entitled to the name of Christians in any real sense. The Salvation Army are beyond the line of destruction, but only borderers. To leave them for the S.D.A. is an awful step backward.
Bible Treasury Volume N 6, p. 46. March 1906.
Q. — Gen. 1. Which do you believe to be the true interpretation of this chapter? And why is no other view so satisfactory as the one you favour? M.A.
A. — In a general way it may be said that three different modes of understanding have prevailed.
1. What maybe called the oldest known exegesis among Jewish and Christian commentators was the very vague notion that "In the beginning" (vers. 1, 2) was practically very near if not actually at the same time, as that which is detailed in "the six days" beginning with ver. 3 and following to the end of the chapter. There may be some slight difference among the early fathers as among Rabbis. But the general impression which they convey was the conviction that the creation of heaven and earth almost immediately was followed by that of our first parents. The second verse presented no small difficulty. Heathen ideas would have inclined many to have reversed the order of vers. 1 and 2. Others could not admit such a change possible, and would have seen that as this was disloyalty to scripture, so it would have involved a difficulty as great as it removed. Hence the disposition to leave the two verses altogether a general summary, and details of creation to begin with ver. 3. To some Israelites "the six days" had to be explained away, and long geologic ages since the beginning and preceding man did not occur to those who thought of it as a vast single result of God's will. But waiving this, no tradition more widely ruled men, and Christendom in particular, and the Puritans as much as the Fathers.
2. The popular idea, since evangelical geologists looked for a scriptural support of the long ages of change after the "beginning," and before Adam or the race, was to look for them in "the six days," so extended as to cover the immense periods required. An Irish barrister, Dr. D. McCausland, eminently fitted by his ability and his scientific attainments to examine the question, urged this solution in his "Sermons in Stones"; as it was also taken up warmly by many scientists in Great Britain, America, etc.
3. There remains the third, and as I believe, the really sound meaning of the chapter: in that it leaves room for all that God wrought, however protracted the time that elapsed between the "beginning" and the "six days" in successive acts of God in construction and catastrophe: cognisable by men of science, and left for their discovery in due time, but entirely outside the scope of revelation. The first two verses give the principle of creation and of chaos for the earth, the one as necessary as the other for man when created, not only to learn the facts from the earth's crust but to use the results according to God's beneficent provision. Thus scripture departs not from its supreme design and character, nor encumbers itself with teaching science which is man's pride. But it is untrue that it commits itself to "false science" or unreliable history, or any other insinuation of infidels. Hence, as in a scripture not poetic in any way but the simplest prose attributed to God by as true a saint as ever lived, there is no ground to doubt that the "six days" are literal, as "the evening and the morning" seems expressly meant to convey.
Indeed there is great moral beauty in "days" having no place in the part which commences with "In the beginning" and ends with "the Spirit of God was brooding over the face of the waters." It was well that we should know that the great divine agent, who in Israel deigned to give His all-powerful energy for making the vessels of the Sanctuary, and later, came down to make Christians individually and the church collectively God's temple by His indwelling, took so suited a relation to the last work which God was preparing for man to inhabit long after. it was no mighty tempest, but His suited brooding over the waters. But when the "six days" begin which man crowns before they closed, how in keeping a measurement of time so important for the race, and in relation to God above all! Then we first hear of them. Moral dealings then begin, with the wondrous proof of God's deep interest in man, and the corresponding responsibility of man to God, to the race, and to the lower creation. Then too we first read "And God said," and the deep privilege of reading and the solemn call to believe. This too confirms that the six days had nothing to do with the many acts of creating creatures, inanimate and animated, who could not understand Him; but His speaking definitely of all that formed the environment of the race was as precious as instructive for His vicegerent here below. Still more blessed when we look on by faith to the Second man and last Adam, the antitype and contrast of him that brought in sin and death, as Rom. 5:14 lets us know, the Conqueror of Satan, the holy Sufferer for our sins, that the believer should reign with Him, and the world itself be blessed under His reign to God's glory. His word as to both Adams is not science but revelation, as indeed all the Bible is.
Q. — 2 Cor. 5:15. The brevity of the remark on the late Bp. Lightfoot's view of these verses, followed by the Revisers, may account for my difficulty in apprehending the evidence and argument against it. May I ask for further clearing of the point? F.
A. — Not having the Bp.'s book at hand, I quote the R.V. which conveys his mind! "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again." Every reflecting believer, I think, must feet that the critical text sounds harsh and inconsequent for want of the εἰ (if) of the vulgar text. And every one used to various readings can see that the εἰ was peculiarly liable here to be dropt, because of the ι immediately preceding and the εἷς immediately following. But accepting the text preferred, wherein does the consequence lie that, because one died for all, therefore they all died, in the sense of dying with Him to sin, the marked privilege of all Christians? This very assumption misled Dean Alford unconsciously into misrepresenting the apostles, when he says that He died for all, that all should live to Him. But this is to change what the apostle wrote in contrasting "all dead" with "those that live." "The all" are men universally; "they that live," are only such as by faith have life in Christ. And this distinction is fundamental and everywhere sustained by the scriptures. The sense therefore is, for "all," death through sin and their sins, for whom nevertheless Christ died as the witness of love toward them in their sad and sinful state. The judgment of love is not merely this but that He died for all, that they that live by faith in Him, which assuredly "all" do not, should no longer be as once when dead, but live to him who for them died and was raised. For the Saviour whom the Christian owns is not a mere Jewish Messiah ruling Israel and the nations in righteousness peace and happiness on the earth, but a dead and risen Lord with whom we are associated, rejected by the earth but glorified on high, and we in obedient devotedness sharing His sufferings here and waiting to join Him there.
Thus what we are taught is not that all men have the Christian privilege of having died with Christ to sin, but that their being all dead as sinners was the motive for Christ to die on behalf of all. Where sin brought them without exception, love. sent and brought Him. Yet this, however glorifying God's nature and proving Christ's love, were vain to save them unless by faith in Christ they received life in Him to live to Him. Thanks be to God this is verified by His grace in "those that live" (as contra-distinguished from "all dead)," whom Christ's love constrains to live to Him who for them died and was raised. Accordingly the apostle shows that not only the evil but the old things at their best are passed away to Christian faith, and for any one in Christ (not surely for man unbelieving and outside Him) "a new creation, and all things of the God that reconciled us to Himself by Christ."
The perversion to death in Christ to sin, which can apply to none but believers, dissolves the reasoning for how could this prove the love of Christ dying for all mankind? Whereas no Christian but sees His love for all in dying for all. And what follows is decisive against such a meaning as the Bp. put on it, for it is a part and not "all," but only "they that live" who enjoy the privilege, and accept the responsibility of Christians. As these learned men give the sentence, "We thus judge, that one died for all, therefore [illatively] all died," it stands rather unintelligible, and is refuted by the context that follows. Text and translation, if right, lead to no such result.
Q. — 1 Tim. 3:15, 16. Is there any good ground from a critical point of view for the following reading of this passage?
(15) "But if I delay, in order that thou mayest know how one ought to conduct oneself in God's house, which is a living God's assembly".
(16) "Pillar and base of the truth and confessedly great is the mystery of godliness, the which was manifested in flesh, was justified in [the] Spirit, was seen of angels, was preached among Gentiles, was believed on in [the] world, was received up in glory." [The rendering has been made more exact to avoid repetition and discussion, save at the beginning of ver. 16. Ed. B.T.].
It is contended by the adherents to this new rendering that the history of the church has proved that it has not abode in the truth, much less can it be said to be the pillar and base of the truth! and that it is a relief to find that the scripture does not say it is, as has been universally supposed.
Then, that all critics now agree that ὅς, "he who," is the correct reading (instead of "God" and that therefore the mystery of godliness, Christ and the church, is the pillar and ground of the truth — not Christ in incarnation. This removes the difficulty that many feel in understanding how Christ personally could be said to have been "justified in [the] Spirit"; and also that it is this mystery which was preached among the nations (Eph. 3:9; Rom, 16:25, 26) and believed on in the world, which Christ could not be truly said to have been before He was received up in glory. Th. R.
A. — It is a mistake to consider this clumsy, crooked and wholly unjustifiable form of taking the first clause of ver. 16 as a "new rendering"; for so understood several Protestants, for the most part of dubious faith, as Er. Schmid, Limborch, Le Clerc, Schöttgen, Rosenm. (the elder), Heinrich, etc., etc. I do not wonder at Dean Alford's saying "if any one imagines St. Paul ... able to have indited such a sentence," it were useless to argue with him. "To say nothing of its abruptness and harshness, beyond all example even in these Epistles, how palpably does it betray the botching of modern conjectural arrangement in the wretched anticlimax! . . . If a sentence like this occurred in the Epistle, I should feel it a weightier argument against its genuineness than any which its opponents have yet adduced."
Only less untenable is the absurdity of understanding Timothy (and behind him Paul and the other apostles) as "pillar and basement of the truth."
There is no real difficulty in referring it to God's church, which is not the truth, but pillar and basement of the truth responsibly on the earth. Christ is the truth engraven as it were on that pillar here below. Where is or was any other before men after Christ's brief appearing and His ascension? If Israel with His law was a witness as His chosen people among the nations, how much more since God's new house was a living God's assembly, witness of grace and truth in Christ! But it is the Second Epistle, not the First, which instructs the faithful what to do when disorder and departure from the truth, and sanction of evil and error, gave a false witness.
Still less difficulty is there in applying the mystery of godliness to Christ's concrete person, who was manifested in flesh, justified by the Spirit in resurrection, then seen of angels instead of mankind, preached to Gentiles instead of reigning over Israel in Zion, believed on in the world instead of ruling the nations with rod of iron, received up in glory on high instead of displaying it over all the earth, as the Prophets had testified for the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. The last was reserved, it would seem, to contrast with the great declension of mixing Him up with the sordid and earthly character of Christendom, and its delusions. So far is the notion of making the church part of the "mystery of godliness" that it would import wholesale and deadly error. It is "who," not "which" as the church is.
Mr Kelly departed to be with Christ on the 27th March 1906.