1 Timothy 4:10.
The word here translated "Saviour" is the one usually so rendered, as, for example, in Philippians 3:20; but it means also "Preserver" and "Deliverer." The context therefore must in each case decide upon the signification; for it must always be borne in mind that "Saviour" has other senses than that attached to the word in connection with our salvation. When thus the Lord said to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep," they replied, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well" - literally, "he shall be saved," using a kindred word - the verb formed from the same root as "Saviour." Remembering this, it will be at once seen that it is no question in Timothy of the salvation of souls, and that therefore "Saviour" is not used with a spiritual meaning. The apostle had been contrasting "bodily exercise" and "godliness"; and, while admitting that the former profited "for a little," that is, in some matters, points out that godliness is profitable "unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." This truth formed the principle of his service and activity; for he trusted, not in his own efforts for the needed strength, but in the living God, who is Preserver of all men, specially of those that believe; for they, it may be added, are the chief objects of His care even in government, and occupy the nearest place to His heart. It is very evident therefore, in view of this special use of the word Saviour, that "Preserver" expresses more exactly the mind of the Spirit in the scripture.
With all the admitted difficulty in translating this scripture accurately (see the Revised Version, and the French by J. N. D.), the sense is tolerably plain. Two things have, however, to be remembered - the meaning Job attached to his words, and the mind of the Spirit in them. It is quite possible (we do not say that it was so) that Job only thought of his deliverance from his present condition, his restoration and vindication. But the language as used by the Holy Ghost becomes undoubtedly a prophecy of the coming of Christ (in its general sense), and of the resurrection of His people. The same thing is often seen in the Old Testament Scriptures. Many of the Psalms, for example, were written in connection with David's experiences; but these very experiences became, as wrought by the Holy Ghost, typical of the experiences of our blessed Lord. So, too, with the prophets. Speaking of some near event, their words often contained predictions, unknown to themselves, of larger events in the last days, of which what was passing around them was but a shadow. (Compare 1 Peter 1:10-12.) It is of the first importance to remember this principle in studying the prophetic, and, indeed, many of the historical scriptures.
The meaning of this scripture is almost entirely obscured by its defective rendering. When our blessed Lord was on the cross, He prayed for His enemies, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34.) This prayer was heard, and the answer is seen in the presentation of the gospel by Peter and the other apostles to the Jews as a nation. As a nation, by the mouth of their chief priests they had not only rejected Jesus as the Messiah, but they had also denied their national hope and expectation of any Messiah in their fatal words, the consummation of their guilt, "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15.) But for the intercession of Jesus, therefore, judgment swift and sure must have been their portion. This, however, was delayed, in order that they might have another opportunity of receiving Christ, as proclaimed in the ministry of the Holy Ghost, through the apostles. Peter's cry, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," is thus addressed rather to the Jewish people than to individuals (although there would be a special blessing for every individual who complied with the exhortation), for he adds (as it should read), "So that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you." The character of these times of refreshing is seen from verse 21; they are connected with the "restitution of all things," under the reign of their glorious Messiah. Had the Jews then even at this time bowed, as a nation, in contrition, under the preaching of Peter, Christ would have immediately returned, and established His kingdom, and would have brought in those blessed days of prosperity of which the apostle speaks. But they still rejected their Messiah, and the restitution of all things is postponed, although it must, according to the purpose of God, take place at a future day. Meanwhile, the counsels of God's grace in connection with the glory of His beloved Son, and the Church, are being accomplished; and hence the Jews must now wait for the fulfilment of the glorious predictions of their prophets, until after the Church shall have been presented to Christ, "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." As the reader, therefore, will perceive, the passage is entirely of a dispensational character. E. D.
Here (in this passage) is the Christian's position. He does not seek for righteousness before God as a man who does not possess it; he is the righteousness of God in Christ, and Christ Himself is the measure of that righteousness. The Holy Ghost dwells in him. Faith rests in this righteousness, even as God rests in it; and this faith is sustained by the Holy Ghost, who turns the heart that is established in that righteousness towards the glory that is its recompense - a recompense which Christ enjoys already, so that we know what that righteousness deserves. Christ is in the glory due to righteousness, to the work which He accomplished. We know this righteousness in virtue of that which He has wrought, because God has owned His work, and set Him at His right hand on high. The glory in which He is is His just reward, and the proof of that righteousness. The Spirit reveals the glory, and seals to us that righteousness on which faith builds. It is thus that the apostle expresses it: "We through the Spirit wait for the hope" (the hoped-for glory) "of righteousness by faith." To us it is faith, for we have not yet the thing hoped for - the glory due to that righteousness which is ours. Christ possesses it, so that we know what we hope for. It is by the Spirit that we know it, and that we have the assurance of the righteousness which gives us the title to possess it. It is not righteousness we wait for, but, by the Spirit in faith, the hope that belongs to it. It is by faith; for in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working by love. There must be moral reality. J. N. D.