Christian Friend vol. 18, 1891, p. .
Although the translation of this scripture is a little difficult, arising out of the ambiguity of the word rendered "learned," the sense is simple and easily apprehended. The Hebrew word in this passage signifies, in different parts of the verb, or in words formed from it, 'to train,' 'to teach,' or 'to learn.' If this is remembered, it will at once be perceived that the word "learned," in the last clause of our verse, would be better rendered, "learner," or, as many prefer, "disciples." This change, moreover, brings out, in a still more striking way, the wondrous place of subjection and humility which our blessed Lord took here as a servant. In verse 1, He speaks as Jehovah; in verses 2, 3, He declares His almighty power in creation and redemption; and then, in verse 4, we are permitted to behold Him down here in all His lowly grace as the teacher of His people, and as such entirely dependent upon God for the words He received and communicated. (Compare John 12:49.) He thus says, "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned" (the same word as at end of verse), of those who are taught or instructed, "that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner," or as "disciples." What an example! And what a blessed lesson for all the Lord's servants! The power to speak the message, and the manner of its delivery, must all come from Himself; and, together with this, there must be the maintenance of constant dependence, the suited condition of soul, in order to hear and to receive the words He would put into our mouths. The apostles surely understood this when they said, "We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."
Ephesians 2:22; Revelation 18:2.
One of the most striking contrasts in all Scripture is found in these two passages; and the special form of the word, here translated "habitation," does not elsewhere occur. This fact adds immensely to its significance, and to the designed instruction. In Ephesians, then, we learn that believers are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit, that the house of God on earth now is composed of His people, and that He dwells in it by the Holy Ghost. Passing on to Revelation, we read that Babylon is become the "habitation of demons." Now Babylon is that which the professing church of God on earth has become. It had once been in the place of God's light-bearer on the earth; but after the rapture of the saints, and the rejection of Laodicea by Christ, because of its denial of Christianity, Babylon arrogates to itself the claim to be the bride of Christ. But the Spirit of God terms her a harlot, and the mother of harlots (Rev. 17); and in our scripture we further learn, that Babylon, instead of being the habitation of God, is the habitation of demons. It is the full expression of the utter apostasy of that which had once borne the name of Christ, seen in the substitution of the power of Satan for that of the Spirit of God. It is for the spiritual mind to discern in how far Christendom has already become morally the home and dwelling-place of demons. (Compare Matt. 13:31, 32.)
Ephesians 3:17; 1 John 4:15, 16.
It is a matter of great regret that the translators of the Authorized Version should have employed so many words to express the same word in the original; and, on the other hand, should have often used one word to render different words. The exact meaning of Scripture has been thereby much obscured. As an example of the former, 1 John 2:24 may be cited, where "abide," "remain," and "continue" are found as the rendering of one and the same word; and, as an example of the latter, the word "dwell," in the above scriptures, is the translation of two different words. The word in Ephesians is, we judge, rightly given as "dwell," whereas that in 1 John would be better given as "abide"; and the difference is not unimportant. In the former case it occurs in the apostle's prayer, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;" that is, that He, through the faith of His people, might find a home in their affections, that He might be enthroned, and so find His dwelling place in their hearts. In the latter case it is impossible to say, for instance, that he that findeth his "home" in love, findeth his "home" in God, although the word "dwell" really signifies this; only here, in our translation, it is used in a secondary sense, as synonymous with "abide." The meaning, however, of the apostle is, that whosoever abideth in love, in divine love, abideth in God, and God in him, because he is shown thereby to be a partaker of the divine nature. Abiding in love is thus the expression of the activity of the divine nature in a believer, and not only therefore does he thus abide in God in real living dependence, but God also abides in him, and is Himself seen in this expression of activity in and through the believer of what is really divine. Hence it is, "God is love;" this is His nature; and he that abides in love abides in God (for God is love), and God in him; for abiding in love is the expression of what He is. But, as another has written, "While God's dwelling in us is a doctrinal fact, and true of every real Christian, our dwelling in Him, though involved in it, is connected with our state." (See 1 John 3:24.) E. D.