Various Topics

Romans 5:12-21
Washed, Sanctified
"Washing," or "Laver," in Ephesians 5:26
The Similarity of Jude and One Part of 2 Peter
Likeness and Image
The Sprinkling of Blood

The Bearing of Romans 5:12-21

J. N. Darby.

<13015E> 206

My dear brother,

The division in the doctrinal teaching of the Epistle in Romans 5 at the beginning of verse 12, the verse you point out, has been already noticed in tracts which are in print. The former part deals with what we have done, as God's question to Cain; the second with what and where we are, as God's question to Adam, the state of Adam being confirmed and made plain by the judgment pronounced on him. "He drove out the man." Romans 1:19 to 5:11 deals with what we have done, and Christ's propitiation as the remedy, adding His resurrection as the great seal of it. From verse 12 it deals with what we are. He speaks of state, not guilt, though of course guilt is there.

The "wherefore" (διὰ τοῦτο), of which you first ask, is a gathering up of the whole teaching of the previous part of the epistle, which taught, not Judaism and a called people, but wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of them who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Jew and Gentile. All were under sin under different circumstances, but alike come short of the glory of God; and every mouth stopped, those that had law, as well as reckless Gentiles sunk in evident depravity. It was the condition of the whole race of man, as man, before a revealed God, holy in His nature. There is, however, an additional special ground of the "wherefore," which will not be fully apprehended till that is introduced: a living Christ securing blessing where a man is justified from the old sins, and reconciled, having been an enemy. Christ's death would secure him through, and save him from wrath. This so far brought in, not only the clearing the guilty by the work Christ had wrought, but a new standing in life. By the righteousness of one the free gift came to all for justification of life. This was a new position of man, not indeed yet the glory or resurrection with Christ and union with Him, but a new position and standing; not merely the clearing away the sins a man was guilty of in connection with his old standing, but a new standing in life, a justification of life.

This clearly brought in a new state, not mere justification from the evil he was guilty of, but a condition into which he was brought; hence too, though recognizing it, it reached out beyond the whole nature of Judaism. This the apostle sums up in chapter 5:12-21 with the connecting word "wherefore," taking the whole scope of thought which precedes, and resuming it in his own mind, as is his custom, as a causative point of departure in his reasoning, as he often does too with the word "for" (γάρ). The sense of what had been said led to this, "as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." This brings us to ἐφ᾽ ὧ.

207   Ἐπί with a dative is primarily "upon," as ἐπὶ πίνακι, "on a dish"; hence is used for "besides," something added, ἐπὶ πᾶσι, in addition to all this, or above. Hence also as ἐπὶ τῆ προβατικῆ, ἐπὶ θύραις , but with the idea of actually touching. It is then used morally for a ground, motive, object, what characterizes an act. We use "upon" so, but with express words: I did it upon this ground, upon this condition. Greek uses it by itself, something which is, not the cause, but is supposed; without which the thing would not so be as we say it is. We are called not ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ under a supposition of being unclean persons when so called. Ἐπὶ τρισὶ μάρτυσιν, three witnesses were the condition of carrying out the judgment. Any necessary or true condition: "man shall not live by bread ἐπ᾽ ἄρτῳ." It was not the cause of life, but his life was involved in it; so ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι. We say "to live upon." This use of ἐπὶ is very common; ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίδι ἀροτριᾶν. It was no cause of ploughing; still the ploughing was not to be without it.  Ἐπὶ τῶ ὀνόματί μου, the reception of the child is characterized by that as a motive. In English we must translate it variously, but it is easy to understand in Greek something supposed and viewed as involved in a thing happening, without which it would not be what it is, but not its cause.

Thus here, the origin of death amongst men, or cause of its entrance into man's world, was Adam's sin; but if we could suppose (what could not be save by this acting of God, as in the miraculous birth of Christ) a man born without sin, he would not be brought under death. Hence each person's sinning is supposed in its passing upon all: it is vorausgesetzt; death comes moyennant. It is ἐφ᾽ ὧ, "inasmuch as," or "for that" as in Authorized Version, not "because." A man was condemned because of his sin, or an elder judged; but it was ἐπὶ τρισὶ μάρτυσιν, that was a regular condition of his being condemned. The sinning exists as a fact connected with the dying: they do not die without it. The origin of death in the world was Adam's sin. It is not a condition set out a priori, as if it was uncertain whether they would, but a fact which comes in for those involved in death.

208 I do not think children enter into the question here — no more than when the apostle says, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." They really begin to sin as soon as they begin to live: though it be undeveloped, their will works. I do not doubt they go to heaven: Matthew 18, I think, shews it, and the ground; but the apostle is looking at man manifested as man, that is, what he is and does. Children are saved, not by innocence, though practically an expression of it, but because Christ came to save what was lost. This question then I dismiss; I refer to it merely as an objection which might be made.

I do not think ἐφ᾽ ὧ has the sense "whereunto": if it were the object in its extent, it would be, I conceive, the accusative, if so used at all. What follows, to the end of verse 17, is a parenthesis, bringing in the question of law's place and bearing, and insisting that grace which met sin could not be narrowed up to law, though it met transgressions under it. And first it is asserted that sin was in the world when the law was not. True, a sin could not be reckoned as so much to an account; but death proved its reign over those who were not in the case of Hosea 6:7. Israel, like Adam, had transgressed a positive covenant; but sin was reigning in death over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. And Adam was a figure of the second Adam come in grace. Now though transgressions or offences, as verse 16, had to be met, yet the condition and state was the great point here, the many connected with him had been constituted sinners by Adam's disobedience; so the many connected with Christ were constituted righteous by Christ's obedience; but this was state and standing, not properly guilt as to things done. Sin was in the world before the law came.

As to ἐλλογεῖται, it is not ἐλογίζετο, "was accounted" (as righteous). The word is only used elsewhere in Philemon. It is not a person accounted righteous on whatever account, but a particular act or debt owing — put into an account. When there was no specific prohibition, there was no specific transgression. Sin was there, but there was no transgression. This requires a law to transgress. But the evil tree bears its fruits and proves what the tree is, and men are judged according to their works. But there was not as under the law positive transgression, which the government of God could deal with as so much to be reckoned to a man in that government. When God judges the secrets of men's hearts, their works will come out in the books, a witness of what the state of their hearts was, and all will see the light. The apostle speaks here as of the present condition of the world: you could not say you have transgressed here, broken the law there; but the reign of death proved that sin was there. But Adam was the figure of Him to come.

209 Shall the bearing of man's offence be greater than that of God's gift? Death was reigning outside the law; but by the offence of one many were dead: should not the grace of God much more abound to the many who labour under it, and not be confined to the Jews who claimed it? The state of sin was universal through Adam, the grace must be as wide in its address. Again, as by one's sinning came the charge or guilt leading to condemnation, should not the free gift be thus too? Yea, more, the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift, with many offences to meet, to justification; vs. 16. The first phrase is by one having sinned; the second "by one" is abstract, ἐξ ἑνός, of one [thing or person]: of one — that is its general character; then the free gift is ἐκ πολλῶν  - had that as its character. The first statement in verse 15 declares that as to the objects the sphere must extend to the many, since by the offence of one the many died. Grace must go out as far and brings in the man Christ Jesus, the last Adam, of whom the first was a figure, the thought necessarily involving it. The comparison to prove the extent in verse 16 is between the acts, as 15 between the objects. The guilt which led to condemnation was ἐξ ἑνός, a unity; the free gift being of God was of many offences. So as to the effect: by the offence of one, death reigned by one; much more the grace would triumph on the other hand, and they that received it would reign in life. In these three aspects grace in God triumphed over sin in man, and that by one man, not by every man for himself, the principle of law and individual judgment. As far as offences went, they had been multiplied, and grace could meet them.

Verse 18 resumes the general principle from verse 12, and is as abstract as possible. As by one offence towards all for condemnation, the direction and tendency of the one offence, so by one righteousness or righteous act accomplished towards all for justification of life; for it was in the risen Jesus they got it, from having been under death, and now justified if they had Him in life. For as by the disobedience of one the many connected with him were constituted sinners, put into that place; so by the obedience of one the many connected with Him were constituted righteous. The ὑπακοή is looked at as the whole principle of Christ's life, including as to its character, and proved by, obedience unto death. There was a disobedient man, proved in eating the forbidden fruit: he disobeyed God's will. There was an obedient man: He obeyed God's will. The character and measure of the obedience all through, as proved by it, was obedience unto death, the death of the cross. This had nothing to do with law.

210 There are, as the whole passage teaches and has for its object to teach, two heads of races, natural and spiritual: two persons, one in whom sin, the other in whom grace, came; and, further, that the law was a "moreover" (πλήν), which came in by the bye, παρεισῆλθεν, but that you could not shut the grace up to that, but must go to the two heads of sin and grace. The law merely came in that the offence might abound, but it was not only when offence, but when sin, abounded that grace abounded over it. Had righteousness replaced the reign of sin, judgment and condemnation only could have been the effect. But grace reigned, yet through righteousness, (on the principle of divine righteousness, fully established), and that to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord: a complete summary of the whole ways of God. Death is looked at as death here reigning by sin; condemnation was out beyond that.

I turn to look at some of the words inquired of.

Παράβασις is positive transgression of a law which exists. Παράπτωμα, though applicable to transgressions, is a more general word and with a different sense.

Παράβασις goes beyond and transgresses an actual law or barrier set us by God. Hence there must be a law. Παράπτωμα fails or falls from the right condition in which we should hold ourselves. Transgressions do this, but every fault and failure does. This can be without a law. A Concordance will easily shew this. I am not aware of any case where παράβασις is used without direct reference to law (or tradition), unless the verb in Acts 1:25 (Judas παρέβη), and a case where another reading is preferred.

Δώρημα, χάρισμα, δωρεά require a keener, finer sense of shades of meaning to distinguish.

Δώρημα is the gift, χάρισμα the fruit of grace in the person giving. So far there is a shade in the way the same thing is given. I say such a thing was a gift, a free gift; I did not earn it. How came you to have it? It was pure grace (a χάρισμα) in the person who gave it me. One leads me to think of it as freely given, not earned, and given without condition or price, the others to what moved the person to give. The gift of righteousness is not by working or labour, or acquired fitness, or anything on my part. It is a free gift, δωρεά, but the δωρεά is ἐν χάριτι. God's divine favour and grace were the origin of this gift; so in verse 16 his mind goes up to God as a source; it is therefore χάρισμα in the beginning of the verse. And it is a gift — the fact simply; but is it not to be as large as the evil? It is a χάρισμα of God; this cannot but be. Whereas in verse 15 he is contrasting abstractedly man's fall and offence with God's giving: hence it is χάρισμα.

211 As to the difference of δώρημα and δωρεά, the former word is used but twice, here and in James 1:17, where the mind rests in the thing given, in δωρεά in its quality. In English we use "gift" for both. "What did you give for that?" "Nothing; it is a gift. I have it as a δωρεά." "What is your gift?" "It is a beautiful Bible, a δώρημα." So we use "hope" for the thing hoped for and the quality. That δωρεά is the quality we see when adverbially used, δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε. Δωρεά  then is the general word which characterizes what I get. You may remark that all the words in verse 16 have this form, that is, are objectively looked at as a complete subsisting thing: δώρημα, κρίμα, κατάκριμα, χάρισμα. In James 1:17 we have δόσις and δώρημα.

As to these forms, and so in δίκαι — , many of your readers may be, but perhaps all are not, aware that the ordinary rule is, that words derived from the perfect passive have their force according to the person. The first person is the objective thing or act, the second the doing, the third the doer,    -  μα,  -  σις,  -  της: as κρίμα the judgment pronounced, the thing itself imputed; κρίσις judging as an act; κριτής the judge. So δόσις is properly giving, δότης a giver.

It may be added here that κατά compounded with a word gives intenseness to it, as ἔχω to have, κατέχω, to hold, hold fast, take and keep fast; χράω, καταχράω, to use as a possession what belongs to me. These become modified in use. Κρίμα is the thing of which I am accused and for which I am judged. Christ's κρίμα was put on the cross, what He was condemned for; it is the thing imputed to me. Κατάκριμα is actual condemnation.

212 Thus also δικαίωμα would be the objective sum total, which being accomplished gives me righteousness as far as that sum total goes: hence an ordinance, or such a fulfilment of required righteousness as makes my righteousness complete as to that. If it is before God, it must be according to God and absolute. Hence we have the δικαιώματα of the saints. Zacharias kept the δικαιώματα of the law blameless. It is the sum total of what is required. Δικαιοσύνη is the abstract idea or the quality, the thing righteousness. Δίκαιος is what any one is; δικαιοσύνη is that thing which having he is δίκαιος. Christ is made unto us δικαιοσύνη. I have this character before God; but the δικαίωμα of the law is to be fulfilled in us, the full requirement of the law. So verse 16 speaks "of many offences" to δικαίωμα, to the full requirement of what must be for me to be δίκαιος before God. It is not to justify me (however true before God), but the full sum of that needed for my being accounted just. Justification of life is δικαίωσις, the act of justifying, but being in the new place or state beyond death, it is in life as Christ is risen. In verse 17 I have the gift of δικαιοσύνης, that is, the state God sees me in or has given to me in Christ. But the one δικαίωμα is the full required total, the act which met the whole requirement.

I believe I have answered, I hope rightly, all the questions you have put to me. The English mind is little used to the niceties of Greek language; still they are often of value to one that studies, and result in greater general clearness of statement. Some of the verses of this passage are as badly translated as any in the New Testament, or worse, as especially verse 18. Those in the parenthesis (15, 16, 17) are all much clearer, I think, if put as a question.



Washing naturally applies to some one or thing that is to be cleansed. Our state may shew that nothing but death to sin can cleanse us from sin; but the water points to cleansing. So it is said in John 15, already "ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

"Regeneration" means passing from one state, that of ruin, into another and new state of things, and is used only in Matthew 19, besides Titus 3. "Born again," "born of water and the Spirit," is the actual communication of divine life. One is thus born of God. This is life. Regeneration supposes death, and is so de facto, though this can only be by life in Christ. But it supposes, when fully brought to light, an entrance into a new state, of which resurrection is the expression — life out of death, and hence leaves sin and an evil nature behind. Of this baptism is the sign. So we are baptized unto Christ's death, that we should walk in newness of life. Nor is it merely that we have got life from or through Christ, but are quickened together with Him. This of course implies death — the putting away, but judgment, of the old man.

"Sanctified," though it includes this, yet contains somewhat more. We are sanctified to, and not merely washed from. No doubt by this last we are cleansed; but an object is given to which I am attached by grace and so sanctified. A creature practically and morally is what its object is. "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" is not quite correct. It is ἁγιάσῃ καθαρίσας  - that Christ might sanctify the Church, having purified or cleansed it, etc. They go together; but the cleansing, though a positive thing from evil, is connected with the sanctifying or consecrating the affections to God. In sanctification there are holy affections; and these clearly exclude evil ones. But there are these two things, though they cannot be separated.

The word is in every respect the instrument. The washing of regeneration is typified by the flood, as Peter shews. The old world was then cleared away, and a new one begun. So it is for the baptized.

<13017E> 214 IS IT "WASHING," OR "LAVER," IN EPHESIANS 5:26?

The great general lexicographers, from H. Stephens to Liddell and Scott, give not only "laver" but "bath," and hence washing and even water for bathing or washing. See the amplest proof in classic Greek given by Passow, Rost, Palm, etc. So Schleusner, Wahl, and Rose's "Parkhurst," among those devoted to the Greek New Testament. Indeed the LXX use in general a different word (λουτήρ) for a laver, and λουτρόν for washing, as in Cant. 4:2;  6:5. So the Apocryphal Sirax or Ecclesiastic. 31:25. (Ed. Tisch., 1850, vol. 2, p. 195.) Further, λουτρών was used for the bath as a place for washing; λουτρόν or λούτριον for the water rendered impure by bathing. See Scapula, Hederic, etc. Hence the English version is thoroughly justified, instead of its being "a meaning the word never has." It is generally, says Pape, cleansing, washing away of filth, abwaschen, abspülen. It may take, as a secondary meaning, the bath itself, as the word "bath" does in English. But it means applying the water, not the vessel. It is used often by the fathers for baptism, but even there in the same sense (ὡς ἐκπλυσίν, says Gregory Nazianzen). Indeed so far from being or alluding to a vessel, it is not likely a vessel was ever used in scriptural times. At any rate, Dean Alford's statement is quite unfounded. Titus 3 refers to baptism, but to washing, not to a font. A. says, See Lexx.; but the Lexx. give bath, water for washing or bathing, the act of washing, and even drink-offerings. It is not the bath properly as a place, but the bathing; and hence we have λουτρὰ θερμὰ and ψυχρὰ, λουτρά ὠκεανοῖο, and λουτρὰ φαινομένα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, etc. So the λουτροφόρος used to bring the water, not the bath as a vessel.

Next, while it may be right to connect ἐν ῥ. with the verb or the participle, we must necessarily connect τῶ λ. τοῦ ὕδατος too, and ἐν ῤ. becomes characteristic of the cleansing by the washing of the water. Thus this is the instrument of cleansing, and its true character is ῥῆμα. Neither of the constructions said to be required in this case is called for in the least degree. Τῶ ἐν ῥ. would be utterly out of place; τοῦ ἐν ῥ. would be nonsense; but ἐν ῥ. as it stands by itself is just what is wanted as a characteristic explanation (like ἐν πνεύματι chap. 2:22, and many such cases). But  τῶ ἐν ῥ. (if it be Greek, which is doubtful) would point to a specific agent that would make the bath. If the meaning were "purified by the bath of water by the word," the Greek would be διὰ τοῦ ῥ. or τῶ ῥ. But ἐν ῥ. is unequivocally the character of the thing spoken of as a whole. Τῶ λ.  is the dative of the instrument; by the washing of the water they were purified: what was its character? It was ῥῆμα, or rather ἐν ῥ.

215 Again, this use of ἐν is quite common on all subjects. (Matt. 12:28; Luke 1:41, 77.). It characterizes. The reasoning on Ephesians 5:26 would connect the last case with δοῦναι, and turn the passage into folly. See Luke 4:32;  8:43;  21:23. It is simply to characterize the state. The article is no way needed, but rather its absence. So Romans 8:3; 12:8; 1 Corinthians 15:43. In fact it would be endless to cite cases of the sort. It is the regular characteristic style. Prepositions are Middleton's weak point. He followed Hellenism ably, but not the mental bearing of words. Nouns answer to "what?" as ὁ answers to "who" (or "which")? The article is indicative of an individual or individuals. Hence, prepositions or not, it makes no difference really. The absence of the article marks the nature or character of a thing; as here ἐν ῥήματι characterizes.

Compare John 15:3 for the doctrine. Both Ellicott and Alford are wrong in regarding sanctification as exclusively a progressive thing after initiation. It is so used, but even more frequently for the first setting apart to God. Here it appears to be used for the thing itself, and not distinctively either first or progressive. The apostle may allude to baptism (or, as is alleged, though very doubtful, to a sponsal bath); but he takes care to shew that it is the word that purifies, καθαρίσας ἐν τῶ λουτρῶ τοῦ ὕδατος ἐν ῥήματι being one sentence, which explains how the sanctification is effected. Christ, having loved the Church and given Himself for it, made it His, and does the other two things; He sanctifies it, and then presents it to Himself, being God as well as Second man. Its sanctification is by the purifying power of the word applied by the Holy Ghost.

Hence the "washing of water by [the] word" is right; and ἐν ῥ. characterizes the whole statement, being no more connected with καθαρίσας or ἁγ. than with τῶ λ. or τοῦ ὕδατος. It would not be ἐν ῥ. if it were specifically connected with either.



{*[Though this paper be not one of verbal criticism, it is inserted here as falling under the head of "Critical" more naturally perhaps than any other. — Ed.]}

The similarity of the Epistle of Jude and one part of the Second Epistle of Peter has attracted the attention of, I may say, all critical and most (even attentive) readers of scripture. All manner of speculations and methods of accounting for it have been resorted to and discussed, to which I shall not now direct the attention of your readers. My increasing conviction is, that any one reading the word of God, with the help of the Holy Ghost, will know far more of it than any learned speculator, who, in virtue of the way he takes it up, has not the key to scripture, and misses the proofs even of its divine authorship which shine out with unhindered brightness to one taught of God. It must be remembered that science on points of learning has no occupation where things are not obscure, and hence lives in doubt and darkness. Where a thing is clear and certain, there is no use for it. My object will be here rather to notice the peculiar character and object of the epistles.

I will only add this remark: the little attention I have been able to pay to the wanderings of the human mind, has convinced me that the blessed word of God has not only furnished direct truth from Him, which is its most sweet and gracious object, but it has met all the errors into which the working of the human mind about God has led men. When once one becomes ever so little familiar with these wanderings, the corrective analogies of scripture statements, the way in which the manner of teaching the truth meets them all, cannot fail to strike the mind. Infidels (who did not fail of course to find them out, and who had no sense at all of the holiness and grace which shine in the word and assure the simple mind who its Author is, but occupying themselves with mere external circumstances connected with it) alleged they were borrowed from Egyptians, Alexandrian Jews, and I know not who else. Grave and serious men — as Gale in his "Court of the Gentiles," and the like — sought to shew that the Gentiles had borrowed them from the Jews. I do not myself believe either to be correct.

217 Noah and the first patriarchs had a large knowledge of God as then revealed in creation, judgments, and testimony; of promises, warnings, sacrifice, etc.: and as to the early events of divine history, they were much more familiar with the details than we are. But man did not like to retain God in his knowledge, and idolatry was set up, and (with many traditions of these early times preserved, and various deeds of wickedness which made the mighty men which were of old the "men of renown" of after ages, as scripture speaks, preserved in their memory) an immense system was established, in which shreds of ideas of the true God, mental speculations about Him, facts as to the deluge, its character, causes, and author, dim remembrance of paradise, vivid recollections of wickedness before the flood, and of the persons spared in it, the greatness of men's rebellion exalting the men of renown into gods (while yet they are treated as reprobate, so as to puzzle mythologists); the sun, moon, and stars brought in, peopled by the imagination with a personified existence of the departed great ones; a knowledge that the serpent was the cause of the evil and of knowledge, yet therefore worshipped as God; hence the flood looked at as vengeance, yet mixed up with the serpent having to say to it; the deification of the ark itself as a preserving mother connected with the earth itself as the womb of nature and of all things; and all this mixed up with the most degraded and degrading superstitions that corrupt human nature could indulge in practised, yet mystified into abstract notions — all were used by Satan to obscure and confound the mind, and leave to conscience, which he could not help, some possible shady Tartarus and Elysium, or the transmigration of souls, and, as Paul declares, some "unknown god" to be declared to them.

The whole process is exactly depicted in Romans 1. Volumes of heathen mythology may be read, but the whole result is there depicted, it is the most perfect picture of it all, not a moral element of it lost. Now this to me is divinely perfect; it knows, judges the whole scene, and dismisses it with that just estimate, leaving the mind free to appreciate in the clear atmosphere of the true God's presence, and breathing that pure air, all that grace and truth can reveal in the person of Jesus Christ, and the gospel of His grace, to enjoy the truth.

This is merely a striking example of what scripture is in this respect. I do not believe that there is a maze of falsehood (sometimes with elevated approximations to truth in the way of knowledge, but never to any relationship of man with God), not an error by which Satan has deluded man and kept him thus from God, which is not met in the word. We may have more need for this than we are perhaps aware of. My conviction is, that the world — for the non-entity of infidelity cannot satisfy it — will fall back into delusions of mystical and mythological idolatry in a way very little suspected. Men will have no need to believe this. It may be a mental speculation for some, an image for the imagination for others, a habit acquiesced in by all, the power of Satan riveting the delusion on the mind. It has a hold which is not faith, but which is power over the mind of man. How many believed the golden image in the plain of Dura was a god? How many refused to bow down to it? And when once set up, acquiesced in, when for mercenary motives, men have bowed to it, and thus their moral power is lost; when power enforces it, amusements and ease, and national associations or hopes interest in it, men ready to accept it, explaining it by mental subtleties connected with the mysterious power of nature, and, having abandoned conscience and the true God, having lost His safeguard — Satan's network is complete, and the superior influence he exercises over their mind, besides the apparent wonders he may work, binds them without escape to that which they do not perhaps believe nor love: they cannot — but are entangled in — like from interest, while they despise and fear.

218 Allow me to make a remark here. One may ask, How should the blessed word of God occupy itself with all these horrible perversities? We have to be simple concerning evil, and wise concerning that which is good. Surely we are. And this is exactly what scripture has happily made men comparatively, wherever it has been received. These miserable horrors have died down even from society as a system, and been forgotten. Thank God it has! It has been a deliverance of man even outwardly in relationship with God. And it is one of the perfections of scripture, that it has done it by the revelation of good, so as not to enter into, though briefly judging in its moral character, the evil it met with in the world, and, as I have already said, has thus left the mind free to be occupied with good. God forbid that the saints should get out of this blessed position! It is just their special blessed privilege from God; and I believe the word to be their complete arming in every respect, supposing always the strength and aid of the Holy Ghost — grace working in the heart. And see how wise in this is scripture, that is, our God in His word. When this kind of evil is met with, it is discovered and judged. A man versed in the mischief, finds it alluded to, judged, guarded against, by the form of some truth. The simple saint gets the truth itself in all its power, and never learns the mischief at all. The moment one has learned it, it is condemned and shewn to be false. Man, in reasoning, would have displayed — developed — all the evil to answer it, and filled the mind with it; but He who is goodness and light can dispel evil and darkness, according to the perfectness of His divine wisdom, by the display of Himself, yet in such sort that no one but must see they are opposite to what He does display, if the mind has them before it: yet he who enjoys the good and the light has no need to turn to the other to know light is light, and goodness good. The measure in which God does touch on these confines of darkness is the measure in which in grace it is needed by men.

219 Now the light of Christianity — I do not say its living power merely — has banished all these spectres of evil in their obvious and direct power; or rather they are become spectres, furnish the materials for mythological dictionaries, classical lore, and learned speculation, Asiatic researches, Egyptian hieroglyphics, pantheons, or the newest raised winged bulls of Nineveh to be gazed at in a museum. The public mind knows it only thus; and hence the saint's mind has no connection with it. But it was not so when the scriptures were written. The public mind was full of them, though philosophers began to speculate and to scorn, and many to be weary of them. Still habits were all formed on them. When Paul healed an impotent man, they were going to offer him sacrifice; and the dignified silence of Barnabas set him up to their minds as Jupiter; and the fervent discourse of Paul established him in their eyes as Mercury. If he was stung by a viper, Nemesis (vengeance) would not suffer him to live; and when he received no harm, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

As to the mass, this system was connected with power, and when they saw power, they still attributed it to what were devils and not God; and so imbedded was this in their mind, that even speculative minds, the novelty-hunting Athenians, thought he was a setter forth of new gods, because he preached Jesus and the resurrection, taking the last (I suppose) for a goddess. And so did this seek to encroach, through man, on the divine work to spoil it, that the spirit of Pythoness will announce Paul and Silas, the instruments and servants as those of the most high God, not speaking indeed of Jesus, but accrediting herself by associating her testimony with them. And your Simon Magus would purchase this preferable power which threatened to eclipse his own, the hollowness of which he knew well enough to be surprised at the reality. The power of Satan was met by something like itself, only true and divine. When the mind now pries into the evil then prevalent, it discovers the allusion. Scriptures do take up the fables of idolatry which were then clothed with the energy of satanic power, and allude to and judge them. They preceded the judgment pronounced upon them, and the forms in which truth was expressed so as to condemn them, and deliver the enslaved mind. Jewish ceremonialism was a laborious system to preserve by most gracious care some men at least in the knowledge of the true God, and that knowledge by them, when the degradations of abominable idolatries were carrying all before them, till the true Light and promised Seed should come. God would not have a second deluge; the world is reserved for fire. He would have something preserved amid the moral deluge with which Satan had overwhelmed the mind of man. The truths were from the beginning, many of the great facts recorded in scripture notoriously before the record of them; the corruptions man's first effort, the remedy wrought out for them in clothing the truths in certain positive revelations, judging and preserving from corruptions, God's gracious and merciful interference. That is the real history of the world; at least for my part I do not doubt it.

220 Hence, while the truth as revealed is enjoyed by saints historically as to creation and all God's subsequent ways with men, and in fine the light itself in Him who created, in whom grace and truth came, those who pry into the old evil, now a matter of learned lore, find in scripture the allusions and reference to it. The forms of truth there meet the corrupted truth and corruptions which Satan had entangled man in. And as the universal mind was familiar with these things then, even the New Testament alludes to them. But here a distinction is to be made when the full blaze of divine light shone out in Christ to form the new thing. There was need of naught but that — God Himself fully revealed. Truth, grace, power, all in actual exercise, what was a Simon Magus or an idolatrous speculation? It faded into its own nothingness before the light. We know (for we all have knowledge) that an idol is nothing. The shadows in every sense fled away. The life was the light of men. What could even (to say nothing of the blaze of truth) a cast-out devil or a silenced oracle do, save make its votaries rage against those who wielded a power which would not own it, and which, absolute, universal, and inexorable in its claims as the true God must be, would brook no fellow (whatever grace it might act in) — receive no conciliating homage from what it came to destroy — against those who overthrew delusion and destroyed power (every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God), delivering man from under Satan's thraldom maintained through both: which dealt indeed with Judaism as the depository of truth as long as any fear of God was by the utmost patience to be hoped for, but then judged it as sinking into the common level, as associated, in its enmity to the power it would not acknowledge, with the idolatry it had been a witness against?

221 But alas! for men were still the depositories of truth, and the Lord to give it its full heavenly character was gone on high. This revealing energy of good gradually declined. The truth doubtless remained the same. Blessed be God! it is written truth, but the vessel of its living manifestation lost its conservative energy. And the power of the enemy began to creep in there where the power of deliverance for others ought to have been found. And remark here, the Church's energy and power is in grace, in God. If it is only a delivered, it is a weak body. It must be a delivering body to be a preserved one, because that is the power of God's presence in Christ, and in Christianity. Mark the humblest gathering of saints, or an individual Christian. If there is not energy of positive testimony which acts on others, there is decline. God in grace cannot be inert in testimony in a world of sin. It would be a contradiction in the very terms.

Hence in the decline of Christians we find constant allusions to all manner of kinds of evil lost sight of, so to speak, in the light of the earliest promulgation of Christianity. Take the Epistles to Timothy, those of John, even the Colossians and Galatians already, Peter, Jude. False teachers, corruption, apostasy, Antichrists, Antichrist, begin to appear in the waning light of the Church. This decline of the Church is the capital source of the evil, but not the only form it takes. The delivering power once enfeebled, the old suppressed evils rise again, modified perhaps, as it would be to meet the case, but the same* — human corruption and self-will, idolatry or heathenism, Judaism bereft of all that was of God in it, speculations into the ways of an unseen world.

{*Galatians 4:8-9, shews that Judaism without God was heathenism.}

222 This divides itself into two great branches. First, man's relationship to God as such, which was corrupted in heathenism, and set right, though without a full revelation of God which man could not have borne in Judaism, and with a full revelation perfectly set right in Christianity, a point often lost sight of, yet insisted on by the apostles in their preaching among the heathen or where heathen were; and, secondly, the special relation in which revelation set men with God, and especially Christianity as superseding all others by its public light, that is, the responsible position of the Church on earth as set of God in the place of testimony — to keep and witness the good thing. One related to the government of the world, men, Jews, Christians, as walking responsibly on earth, right on to the end, connected with sin and righteousness as such before God (of course including and judging by the light of Christianity and the rights of Christ now). The other, to the special responsibilities and failure of the Church, as established as a witness on earth of the heavenly things she had in connection with an exalted Saviour on high.

This then gives a double current of testimony as to evil. On the one hand, the departure or apostasy of the Church as a professing body here below, of course making way for the other evils, while a special one within itself; on the other, heathenism (in whatever form of development), Judaism, revolt of man against God, corruption: the latter, between man and God; the former, between the professing church and its peculiar judgment. I cannot now enter into Paul's view of it. You will find it in 2 Thessalonians 2 in its prophetic character, the power of evil working, and in 2 Timothy 3, in its moral character. On part of this I may touch another time, if I can, the Lord permitting. I may notice also here the testimony of John, which views it in connection with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fruits and character of divine life, as manifested in man, in Him and so in us, as that which thus doubly tested the true knowledge of God. But I must confine myself now to Peter and Jude. Now Peter takes up this whole question in connection with man's relationship with God, of course in the light of Christianity, the government of the world: Jude, the relationship of the Church with God and Christ, as the responsible vessel of testimony in grace.

223 Common evils were before the eyes of both — evils connected with the rising up again of the power of old corruptions and perversions of truth, freshly preserved even from the time of Noah himself; but they are treated in a different way. Peter speaks of sin against God; Jude, of apostasy from the place in which any had been set. There were three great principles of evil at the time — mental speculations into an unseen world (and the powers of nature and production), what seemed humility, but intruded into things it had not seen, vainly puffed up in a fleshly mind; this connected with the alleged evil of matter, whence prohibitions to marry, to eat meat, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. It is commonly called Gnosticism. The second was Judaism, the third heathenism; all opposed to Christ, all coalescing; Gnosticism forming the link between heathenism and Judaism, and of all of which the elements will be found in the corruption of Christianity which calls itself the Church, and have made of it, looked at in man's responsibility, the great power of evil in the world.

Redemption by the work of the Lord, and regeneration by the word, are clearly stated in the first epistle of Peter. But it is not my object to unfold this here. The Christian is seen, as the scattered* Jews had been, a pilgrim in the midst of the world in which he is a stranger. He is not seen, as so often in Paul's epistles, risen with Christ, and sitting in heavenly places, but as walking on the earth, though begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance reserved in heaven for him, and he kept by the power of God for its revelation in the last time. Hence also there is little development of doctrine in Peter — much direction how to walk. The revelation of Christ will bring the full deliverance. Till that time they were to hope to the end, having the loins of their mind girded, and sober. Hence, while the great fundamental truths of salvation and eternal life are clearly stated for the salvation of souls, we have the government and dealing of God with men and saints in this world. If a man love life, and would see good days, he is to behave so and so. Who could harm them if they followed what was good ? If they suffered for righteousness' sake (compare Matt. 5:10), they were happy, they were to sanctify the Lord of Hosts, and not to be troubled. It was not a warning not to grieve the Holy Spirit, but as pilgrims and strangers to refrain from what warred against the soul; under evil to be patient, as Christ had borne everything. They are not looking to join Christ in heaven by resurrection, but for Him to come for deliverance. Meanwhile the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ear open to their prayers. Blessed and consoling truths! but which evidently regard saints down here, and God's government of the world.

{*The epistles of Peter are undoubtedly addressed to the dispersed believing Jews as such. It was Peter's well-known office. Indeed it is astonishing how learning should have given itself so much trouble about it, as the apostle says so: about the παρεπιδήμοις τῆς διασπορᾶς there can be no doubt.}

224 So we have Noah saved through the judgment of the world by water. The gospel has been preached that men may be judged or live. The time was come that judgment should begin at the house of God, clearly on earth. The righteous are with difficulty saved across the dangers and harassments of Satan's power: what shall be the end of the sinner and the ungodly? Still they are to commit their souls in well-doing to God as to a faithful Creator. Hence, though the full declaration of the Father and of the Spirit is found, yet, generally speaking, God is spoken of as God having to do with men as a Creator — Governor; and Christ is Lord, not Son, which indeed He is not called in the Epistle. This but shews its perfectness; everything is in its place and divine order. It falls in with the preaching of him who announced that God had made that Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ. As such He is presented here. Still the truth is plainly there. Blessings are demanded for them from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second Epistle goes farther on into the evil than the opposition of an ungodly world and a need of chastisement to the Church. Apostolic care was soon to fail; and he would put in writing, for their after-security, what would put them on guard against other forms of wickedness than a hostile world. The kingdom still is the limit of their hope, save in the one word at the horizon — " the day-star arise in your hearts." The power and coming was what He had declared, and he desired their abundant entrance into the kingdom. The mount of transfiguration had confirmed the prophets in their testimony to that manifested glory which men could see, which Peter and his two fellow disciples had seen on earth; and the prophets prophesy of events on earth, though they testify to Christ's ascent to heaven, as does the apostle also (1 Peter 3:22).

225 But this righteous government goes farther than the kingdom. The wicked, who trusted in what eye could see and what to man's wilfully deceived heart was stable, would be met by a judgment which will set aside all that dust can trust in: the day of fire and perdition of ungodly men, when the whole goodly scene of an adorned world will melt under the fervent heat of the fire which God's wrath has kindled. He who can create can destroy, and He who has destroyed all form and comeliness can create anew, and will — new heavens and a new earth, where sin will not be. The flood had, once and for a time, in vain cleansed a polluted world from its horrible defilement, and left but a memory of the guilt and the catastrophe as a warning to rebellious men. In vain. Nature renewed its order, and man his sin, and he willingly believed that it had been so from the creation, and would be so yet onward. That Christ should come was mocked at. Here we are evidently in questions of the judgment of the world — of men. It is a scene which runs through from creation to the fiery judgment of the world, then formed, at the very end of its eventful history, man righteous or wicked before God — the world the scene of the display of His government. Only the last days, which then He will have to say to, were to be characterized by mocking at the coming of the righteous Judge closing the day of patience, and bringing in the day of judgment.

Now, in this scene, two classes are brought in, the righteous and the wicked: only a peculiar character is given to the form under which, as regards Christians, the wickedness would flow in. False teachers bring in heresies of perdition, denying the Master who bought them. It is not the Lord here in the sense of Jesus our Lord; it is He who by purchase has a title over all men. The head of every man is Christ. It is not all, that God has power over all men, all flesh; Christ has power over all flesh, and this by right of purchase as well as creation. This they will resist. It is not a question of abandoning church privileges, but a denial of divine rights which judgment will settle, and of which the melting of the whole scene when man has figured in his own eyes with haughty pretensions, while He who could put them to the proof was away, would be the final confusion — the close of the scene in which such folly would be displayed. Hence he recalls the great instances and examples of similar judgments. The angels sinned: they are down in chains of darkness reserved to judgment. Noah, the preacher of righteousness, was spared, the world of the ungodly destroyed; Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown for an example to the ungodly, and righteous Lot delivered. The Lord then knows how to deliver the godly, and to reserve the unjust to a day of judgment to be punished — till then, patience and godliness.

226 The great characteristics of the evil are human will shewn in haughty pretensions and rejecting authority — the restraint of God on the soul gone — the lordship of Christ denied by them and rejected; and, with it, haughty rejection of all authority came in: with this the will, which cast off what was above it, indulged itself in the vile gratification of its own fleshly lusts.

But this was brought in by covetous false teachers using feigned words. This was in connection professedly with the way of truth, so that it was evil spoken of. Thus we see in Peter the evil connected with the Church, characterized by rejection of Christ's lordship, self-will, and lust. It is wickedness, though it has sprung up in connection with the truth. And it is wickedness looked at in the presence of a God who judges the earth, and has given solemn proofs of it, and reserves the angels for it — a faithful Creator who will preserve the souls of the faithful across it all; and judgment is looked at as reaching on to the dissolution of the elements of this visible creation. God is a God of judgment, and, though slow to anger, will surely punish wickedness. This excludes the mere idea of special apostasy. Angels sin; the world is ungodly; Sodom and Gomorrah live ungodly, and judgment awaits them, or has been executed; and so it will on these despisers of Christ and all lordship. Every hope of nature will perish in nature's dissolution under God's hand.

I would add, in passing, that this makes clear a passage which has often perplexed people — preaching to the spirits in prison. It relates only to those of the time of Noah. Peter speaks of Christ's Spirit in the prophets. The believers were a little flock: so was Noah's family. Christ was present only in Spirit: so He was in Noah's time; yet those that despised it were in prison, and such would be the portion of those who slighted the testimony of Christ by the Spirit now. They would be reserved in prison for judgment. So it was with the Old Testament saints then dead. Promises had been announced to them, not possession given; so that, as walking as men on earth, they were thereby subject to judgment accordingly; and, if the testimony were received, live according to God in spirit as saints were called to do now.

227 A God judging walkers on earth, and looking for righteousness; at last a new heaven and new earth, wherein it dwelt: such is the testimony of the Holy Ghost by Peter.

I now turn to Jude. Here we shall find the Church and the falling away from its standing, the leading subject of the Spirit. He was giving diligence to write of the common blessed subject of their edification, but was forced to turn to write on evil coming in. The Church itself (the witness of good in the midst of, and thus against, evil) was becoming, by its decline, and this subtle secret work, the vessel itself of mischief. It is not teachers bringing in pernicious ways, so that the way of truth should be evil spoken of. Men were crept in unawares amongst Christians themselves who were ungodly, turning grace into lasciviousness; they denied the only Lord God (the word Lord is the same word as the "Lord" that bought them, not the usual one, and means the absolute authority of a master over his slaves). In 2 Peter it is the Master that bought them; here the dominion and absolute authority of God as such and Christ's lordship with it. They are the same class as Peter speaks of; but there they were covetous teachers of wickedness, here creepers into the Church who got in among the saints. They were in their love feasts, feasting with them fearlessly; and these were the objects of judgment as testified from the beginning of the world, from Enoch's witness, who, caught up to God in heaven, testified to the world what was coming on it from the Lord, through the ungodly, whose proud speeches had spoken loud against Him. The evil Enoch spoke of was this ungodliness and resistance against the Lord, of those who said "Our tongues are our own: who is Lord over us?" Jude shews how it comes in. The Church which, in a certain sense, was delivered out of the world, having in its bosom these creepers-in possessed of this spirit, was in danger, as a body on the earth, of departure from its standing, as all who had gone before it. It had been set outside the world to shew the goodness and holiness of God, and not merely the one God's sole authority, but the lordship of Jesus Christ. If this let in what denied it and lost its first estate, the only remedy was judgment and not another witness. Hence apostasy and leaving their first estate is the point pressed here, not the fact of wickedness.

The angels are not simply such as "sinned"; they left their first estate and kept not their own habitation; they are reserved for judgment, as Sodom and Gomorrah, going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example. It is not here the rescue of any remnant, but the simple judgment on their leaving nature's path. So, though Israel were redeemed out of Egypt, God afterwards destroyed them that believed not. The evil then was not maintaining their original standing. This might be natural evil, as Cain; or religious, as Balaam; or openly rebellious, as Core. When it took this character, perdition comes in. They are twice dead, naturally, and by apostasy, after professing; they had no real fruit: what apparently they had, withered. They were clouds, but they had no water. The judgment will be executed against them when the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints; but they were creeping into the Church then. Hence, as it was connected with the present dispensation, the Church as a witnessing body on the earth, he does not talk of the day, nor of dissolution of the elements, but of the Lord's coming, which will judge the apostates of this present time. Further, Peter, speaking of the judgment of the world, speaks of Christ's being revealed to it, and on to the melting of the present frame of things by the fire of judgment. He does not speak of Christ's coming with respect to the saints, save as mocked at by the scoffers. Jude, dealing with the Church and the apostates of this dispensation, brings in the Lord with His saints judging them; but, when addressing directly his salutations to the saints, it is their being before Him. That is his ground, because he was dealing with the Church's portion — "now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty."

228 This inroad of old principles of evil, known from angels downward through the solemn judgments of the flood, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, were in view of both Peter and Jude. Peter applies it to the judgment of men and the world by God; Jude, to the witnessing body's ruin, and the apostasy of these not kept of God through the evil creeping into the Church, as the place of holy witness in and to the world.

Peter ranges over the whole scene of creation, from the angels' sin to the final dissolution of the elements into their primeval chaos, to be renewed into "a new heaven and a new earth;" and tells of a righteous sovereign God of judgment, who would not bear with sin, and cannot brook rebellion. Christ was set forth as Lord; but in judgment he tells of a faithful Creator, who ever spares and delivers the righteous, and has proved He will, so that He may be trusted. Righteous and sovereign title, and Christ's position in it, characterize the testimony of these epistles — God and the world are in view, and God in righteous judgment.

229 Jude comes down to a nearer and closer scene. Evil men have crept into the Church, and, corruption once in, the place of witness becomes the scene of the power of evil. The old evils arise, but, as taking their new birth-place in the Church, they give to these engaged in it the terrible character of apostasy. The flesh, great pretensions within the Church, ending in hard speeches against the Lord Himself; and then that judgment by His coming, of which the Lord of old had spoken by the mouth of Enoch, the ancient prediction of judgment finding its objects in the apostates from the last resource of grace. Their present character the New Testament unfolded. It was creeping into the Church for this purpose. The extent to which the imaginative part of Gnostic heathenism had gone; the way it had linked itself with Judaism; the way it had left the prints of its defiling foot-marks on nominal Christianity, on what has the public place of the Church, few (I believe) are aware.

The philosophic Jews believed that the stars were animated beings, which was Sabaism.*

{*I have very little doubt that "Lord and Giver of life," in one of the creeds, is derived from Egyptian idolatry, and that in it which was expressive of the worst evil of diabolical corruption: I merely speak of the expression, but it shews the influence which reigned.}

The influence of heathenism on the Fathers, particularly of the Alexandrian school, was frightful; no one can doubt that such as Origen and Clement were largely tainted with it. The inroad of the old evils into the western and less imaginative (and therefore more orthodox) Christendom was more plodding Judaism as to its character. Still it did not escape the inroad of evil. There is the worshipping of saints and angels; there is the forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats; there is pretended human righteousness by works and ordinances; there is really the lordship as well as the grace of Christ widely denied. That is, the elements of Judaism, Gnosticism, and heathenism, are all there — their development checked, but there, and characterizing the system — the mass having cast off the lordship of Christ really altogether. This element is restrained, but ever ready to burst out when God's restraint is taken off.

230 What a deliverance Protestantism was, in respect of all this, people are little aware. But that, alas, has lost its moral force; it has turned to infidelity. The light that is in it is become darkness on one side, where it had cast off the old Judaeo-heathenish Gnostic system; and on the other, where it retained some elements of this, having lost its vital power, it is returning to it again, as the dog to his vomit, to plunge itself wilfully, and therefore hopelessly, into the evil which God is about to destroy, because nothing but judgment remains. The masses, when mind is active, you will see, I doubt not, turn to rationalist infidelity; the upper orders and governmental powers to be under the influence of Judaeo-heathenism. Still, as yet, God holds the reins, and there is One, who, if He shuts, no man can open; if He opens, no man can shut; and in the energy of His grace, it is our part in all wisdom, for the days are evil, to assert the Lordship of Christ, the spiritual holiness of His name in the world, and the perfectness of His redemption, gift of a God of love when no good was in man, and perfect in reconciling us to Him. The written word is the great unchanging sure rule, where God Himself speaks; pointed out as the safeguard in the last days, when the pretensions of the Church, which contradict Christ's lordship (for I have a lord, not a lady, over me, and cannot serve two), and corruption, are rising up, as we wait daily for Him who shall present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

I have but sketched, and roughly I am quite aware without any false modesty, the great principles of these epistles; but I trust I have done it sufficiently according to the truth to enable saints in reading them to avail themselves of what I have said as a help, as far as it is such. If it awaken them to a sense of the dreadful character of the evil which is coming in, apostasy letting in the aggravated and more subtle flood of old evils long ago set up by Satan, and make them feel that they have really to do with the enemy, it will be really useful. Only let us remember that, while walking quietly through the world subject to the powers that be, as of God, not expecting men to harm us if followers of that which is good, happy if it is for righteousness or for Christ we suffer, Christians should be in nothing terrified by their adversaries, an evident token to them of perdition, and to themselves of salvation and that of God. And if Christ's Lordship be denied, covertly by setting up the Church's authority, or openly, they still believe He is Lord and with power to maintain His Lordship, even all power in heaven and in earth. Our part then is to keep the word of His patience, and our security and joy with Him will be complete.

231 Critical persons have been struck with the similarity of the subjects of part of Peter and Jude. It could not be otherwise; these are the expressions of the evil they were combating and which was then creeping in; the part that most strikes critics, the heathen were all thoroughly familiar with. The Spirit was dealing with what was before them. The way of dealing with it was quite distinct. The great public examples of judgment also were equally before and known to all; but Jude quotes an instance (Israel) to his purpose, which Peter does not; and Peter refers to final dissolution, Jude to Christ's coming with His saints. There is what must have been common; but the testimony as to it is perfectly independent.


I do not know that I should trouble you with any remarks on the words "likeness" and "image," though evidently of importance, had I not found, in searching the scriptures as to them, the opening out of a good deal of truth precious to my own soul. But I shall be very brief, only suggesting matter for your readers' research into scripture.

I pass by many words translated image and likeness, (as "temunah" , which is more the bright revelation of God, Himself invisible,* or the attempt to reproduce it; "tabnith, pesel, semel" , or others which speak of images, statues, etc ), to speak of the words employed of man, likeness; and image.

{*Hence query as to the true force of this word in Psalm 17:15.}

First, I reject entirely the thought of righteousness and holiness of truth; that is positively declared to be the new creation, and is not the old. Christ and Adam are not the same. Righteousness and holiness suppose the knowledge of good and evil, which it is absolutely certain by scripture Adam before the fall had not. This point is not without importance as to what our redemption involves. Is it a restoration to the state of the first Adam, or an introduction into the state of the Second? Unquestionably the latter. "As is the earthy such are they also that are earthy; as is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly: and as we have borne the image of the earthy we shall also of the heavenly;" conformed to the image of God's Son that He may be the firstborn among many brethren: blessed privilege! There is no return to the image of the first Adam, no loss of the knowledge of good and evil; but conformity to, as partakers of, the divine nature, which is above evil in holiness; the flesh down here remaining the same. You must alike exalt Adam above scripture, and depreciate Christ, to make our conformity to the latter a return to the former. And this is pretty much what the professing church has done.

This, then, God's likeness and image in Adam was not; but what was it? I reject anthropomorphism; that is, its being in the form of his body. It is lowering God Himself and even Adam's position, and is confusion only, though an early error; though it be true that, as incarnate and anticipating manifestations, God took this form. That is a blessed mystery, but refutes the idea as to Adam. For it is incarnation — and this the creation of Adam was not, though doubtless in view of it. What was then this likeness and image, and what the difference of the two? We are renewed in (into) knowledge after the image of Him that created us. This itself shews it was not Adam's. It is the ὁ νέος, the wholly new man which is this. And it is a καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, a new kind of man too.

233 "Likeness" is a simple word for all of us; it is being like. "Image" is somewhat different: an image represents, be it like or unlike. The image of Jupiter presents him to men. One like another has the same traits and features. Now Adam was like God, and he was His image. He was absolutely without evil. No sin, no evil, was, or could be found, in him. This was a capital point in the likeness, though it was not holiness; in one sense more important, more intrinsic. Holiness is relative; it supposes evil, though being above and hating it. Absence of evil is in the nature itself. God is light; pure, besides revealing all else; but holy, not holiness. He cannot be what is relative; nor does His being suppose evil, as holiness does. It is good, absolute purity, though this is an imperfect and relative word; but I shall be understood. Adam was very good, no evil or sin was there. But there was more: he was made the centre of all affections and reverence in the sphere in which he was placed. No angel was made a centre of any sphere. Man was made one, and amiable and good; loving in kindness surely (had he so remained) all around him; the centre of a sphere of created good. And I mean now of a character which could be so; for his being so in fact was more his being the image of God. How gloriously this will be fulfilled in Christ in the whole creation, I need not say. He is the true image of the invisible God. Adam was His image. But Adam was fit to be so by his likeness to God — not to deal with evil, for this he had not to say to; nor would have had, had he not fallen; but pure, no evil of any kind in him, and good; a blessed happy centre of happiness, looking down on all; fit to be looked up to by all. If Eve was created too, she was to be before him (kenegdo). But this runs into the image, and they are meant to run into one another. Adam stood there from God and to represent Him on the earth. He stood as such to all around and below him. Had he not been from, and for, and like, God, he would not have been fit to be His image on the earth. But he was; and so Christ will be in the highest and an infinite way in the whole creation.

234 I think we shall find these meanings of likeness and image everywhere. The first point in God's mind was setting man in His image (Gen. 1:26). And this consequently is insisted on in verse 27. He set him to be like Him, to represent Him to their minds, before others; but it was also in making him like Him. It was not like a stone image, merely to recall, but not like; but to be before others as His image, being really like Him. Hence dominion also was given to him over the creation he was in. Hence, in Genesis 9, the grievousness of the fault of putting him to death was not that he was like God, for indeed he now was not at all like Him, but that God had set him in this place. If I deface the king's image, the question is not if it be like him but my defacing his image. In James 3:9, on the contrary, we bless God and curse what was made like Him: what sense is there in that? It is not the evil come in, surely, we curse; but we curse what was made in God's likeness. On the other hand, we read (1 Cor. 11:7) "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God" — holds thus his place and dignity where he is. "The woman is the glory of the man." Then Adam begets a son in his own likeness. Alas! yes; like him; upon him were the signs of what he was; not like the beasts that perish, surely, but fallen and sinful, and after his image, holding the public place in the world he did; its head no doubt, but fallen head. The image tends to make us suppose that of which it is the image to be like it. See Acts 17:29; Psalm 50:21. The "likeness" has there the simple force of the word; the "image" is the representing, to his glorifying before others, Him whose image we are. Now, if we look into Ephesians and Colossians, we shall find God holding a place in the one which Christ does in the other; and the former occupied with our likeness to God, the latter with His image, which Christ is perfectly.

Remark here, that Christ is never said to be like God, or the likeness of God, because He is God; but He is said to be the image of God, for He does represent and glorify Him and God will be displayed in Him in the millennial glory.

Thus, in the Ephesians, we are to be holy and without blame before Him in love. This is His likeness, and it is before Him, not for display. We are to be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrifice and an offering to God. So God is all; and we are in Christ, a man raised from the dead by God. And if He be in us, it is to be filled unto all the fulness of God. We are to forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us. Hence, when speaking of the new man, our having put off the old man, and put on the new,* there is a difference in Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians, "the truth in Jesus" is … "and to have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth." The spirit of our mind is to be a wholly new one, one we had not before (νέος), and the καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, put on new in kind and nature. It is created after God, like Him in righteousness and true holiness, what He is as knowing good and evil. Such is the new man as characterized in Ephesians.

{*Allow me here to correct the new translation of this verse, which, though not incorrect, is not clear. "The truth is in Jesus [namely] your having put off according to the former conversation … and being renewed … and having put on the new man." As it stands, it might seem to be presented as a duty. The truth in Jesus is the having put off, etc.}

235 In Colossians, on the other hand, we have put on the new man, a new one (νέος) we had not before, which is renewed, new in character (καινός), after the image of Him that created us. Here Christ is in all; and the image, not the likeness, is brought out. No doubt it is like; still, what is made prominent is the image, what is to represent and glorify God; and, as we have seen, Christ is all and in all. So it is forgiving one another; as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. Hence, in chapter 1, we have Christ the image of the invisible God; and His place in creation, the Firstborn of every creature. Yet, see how carefully His divine nature and title is guarded. Not only is He the Creator, but all the fulness was pleased to dwell in Him; and in Him, in fact, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. In Ephesians 1, you have "holy and without blame before him in love," which is likeness to God in His presence.

I do not go farther here than to suggest these thoughts. That the second man, the Lord from heaven, is the true image of God, is clearly taught; but, I think, with other precious truth, from which I have no wish to divert the attention of the reader of these precious Epistles, this difference will be found to pervade them. Our conformity to Christ in this respect, and our progressive conformity to Him, is taught in many passages, as Romans 8:29; 1  Corinthians 15:48-49; 1 John 3:1-3;  2 Corinthians 3:18. But it gives a wonderful testimony to what the Christian is, and ought to be; his place in Christ.



Allow me to say a few words on the sprinkling of blood. Precious and undeserved as every mercy is to us, our being sprinkled with blood is the lowest in the series; still it seems to me to have its place. It is most true that the blood is presented to God, and that this goes a vast deal farther than our being sprinkled with it. Not only was it sprinkled before the mercy-seat as well as on it, but Christ is entered in not without blood; the efficacy of His work, and blood-shedding is presented to God. In every case it has this character — I mean of being presented to the eye of God. But this may have a double aspect, meeting the eye of God in respect of its own intrinsic value and character as perfectly glorifying God, or meeting the responsibility and need of those for whom it is shed.

Christ (John 13) as Son of man has perfectly glorified God, and as man is in the glory of God now, having glorified the Father upon earth and finished the work which He gave Him to do. In the Son of man's glorifying God the ground was laid for man being in the glory of God, and the counsels of God being accomplished. Man is reconciled to God Himself, and walks in the light as God is in the light: the veil is rent from top to bottom. This is the fullest character and effect of the work of Christ. God is glorified in Him, and, in result, man is with Him.

But besides this there was the positive responsibility of man to be met; guilt, uncleanness, and offence were all under God's eye, in those whom He would take to Himself. I do not speak now of renewal of heart and moral cleansing — that is figured by the washing of water. But Christ came not by water only, but by water and blood. Nor is guilt alone put away and offence forgiven; there is a judicial purgation or cleansing of sins — a καθαρισμός. The Kopher or Kippooreemwas made or offered, death coming in, expiation, and so propitiation, blood being shed, God's character in righteousness, supreme claim, and holiness being perfectly met and even glorified. Further, our sins, borne and sent away on the scapegoat, never to be found; or met in an ordinary sin-offering, which in Christ was once for all, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Thus the atonement, expiation, and propitiation are perfect, and we are forgiven. Redemption too was accomplished.

237 Forgiveness is expressed in Hebrew by nnasa, to lift up, or take away; kasah, to cover, as in the first verse of Psalm 32, and continually elsewhere. The word kipper, the form of the verb kaphar, used for making atonement, is used for appeasing or propitiating; as Jacob says, "I will appease him with the present" (Gen. 32:20), speaking of Esau. In this sense it is clearly presented to God.

But then, besides this, the blood was sprinkled on what was defiled. This was still presented to the eye of God; but to God looked at as judging, taking notice of iniquity according to righteous requirement. In the simple presenting it to God, He was perfectly glorified. In the antitype it had the worth of heavenly glory and perfect divine favour. We are in the light as God is in the light, without a veil, in joy, and have boldness to enter into the holiest. As regards the sins, they are all borne and put away, never to be remembered.

Now comes another thought. I am unclean, defiled by them. Here I get cleansing, not in my inward disposition, but judicially, God being viewed as Judge, and my conscience purged — not my heart and state. The blood is presented to God, but presented to Him as on that which had been unclean. This meets His eye when looking judicially at us, and He holds for perfectly clean that on which the blood is. Thus, when the blood was put on the lintel and the two door-posts in Egypt, God saw the blood and passed over. He was passing through the land judicially; where the blood was, He passed over, His judgment did not apply; otherwise He reckoned the blood a perfect answer to its requirements. So with things that were sprinkled in the tabernacle: the blood was put there because of the iniquities of the children of Israel, amongst whom Jehovah dwelt. They were thus cleansed and fit for His presence and use.

The cases in which there was sprinkling on persons were those of the leper and the sons of Aaron.*

{*Aaron was anointed alone without blood as representing Christ, and then he and his sons taken together as representing the priesthood of Christians connected with Christ.}

In the former case the practical cleansing belonging to the camp began by water, and was followed by blood put on the right ear, thumb, and toe, giving cleanness and the judgment and disallowance of evil, according to the blood of Christ, in every thought and act, and all the walk of the cleansed one; and that followed by oil, or the Spirit, on each same part. But before this, which made the blood and death of Christ the measure of every evil, and shut out all that we might be engaged in which did not suit it, two clean birds had been taken, and one killed and the other dipped in its blood, and the man to be cleansed sprinkled with it. This was not the inward work — sanctification — which followed in the camp; it was done outside. It was the proper efficacy of Christ's work; and the blood being sprinkled on the man he was pronounced clean — judicially clean in God's sight — though more had to be done to bring him into communion and the condition of a worshipper. But he was clean. (Lev. 14:7.)

238 The case of the priests' consecration was more peculiar. They do not stand in the place of transgressors outside as the leper. But they are washed with water, and the blood of the ram of consecration is put on their ear and hand and foot, as in the leper. So far the fitting them by water and blood is the same in consecrating the priest and cleansing the leper; and in truth what does one does the other. He has loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us kings and priests. But after this some of the blood on the altar was put with the oil, and all sprinkled together. The power of the Holy Ghost is effectual in making good in us, as dead to sin and alive to God in Him, the consecration to God manifested in Christ's death in giving Himself a sacrifice to God; so only are we cleansed in God's judgment according to the judicial estimate of God in Christ's death. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10). "The law of the Spirit of life  … has made me free." "For what the law could not do" God has done, when Christ was "for sin," and (He has) "condemned sin in the flesh." This is judicial, but it is deliverance through death. Romans 8:2-3, bring the oil and the blood on the altar together. Hence we present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable. It is still the same judicial estimate of sin according to Christ's death, only looking to realization by the power of the Holy Ghost.

As regards 1 Peter 1:2, it may be taken as a general idea of its value; still it alludes to the Old Testament, when the sprinkling of blood was always the judicial cleansing of that which was sprinkled.

But we find it more definitely elsewhere. Though the general truth may be in the apostle's mind, yet I do not quote Hebrews 9:13-14, because he refers to the great day of atonement and the red heifer, on neither of which persons were sprinkled with blood. Sprinkling, in the original, agrees with "ashes," not with "blood." Still, though the force of that be very different, verse 19 shews that the sprinkling of people was not absent from his mind; and verses 21-23 shew that this was in his mind connected with purging, though I do not apply verse 19 to it. It was the dedication of the covenant with the sanction of death. But in the other verses cited, purging and blood-sprinkling on that which was to be purged go fully and expressly together in his mind, and in chapter 10:22 this is expressly applied to the conscience — "Having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience."

239 Now the value of the precious blood of Christ does go a vast deal farther. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by it; we shall be in glory by it, and perfect there; we have redemption by it. The cleansing of the conscience is, so to speak, merely negative.; it clears from the sense of guilt, it meets judgment, requirement. On the door-posts in Egypt it shut God out, because He came as an avenging Judge. Still we evidently need it in this character. So in sprinkling everything in the tabernacle, it removed the stains of Israel's iniquities, and enabled the worship to go on. It entitled the leper to come into the camp and partake of all that would practically restore him to God. It was the basis of all, because that by which anything was sprinkled met the whole character of God — was as fit for the mercy-seat and Him that sat upon it, as for the sinner to cleanse him. Still in its application as sprinkling on anything it went no farther than the cleansing from positive defilement by sin: most blessed assuredly, as it is indispensable to have it; but still, as so sprinkled and applied, only going to the judicial but perfect removal of all uncleanness in God's sight. I repeat, what the blood has done goes infinitely farther for us, and in glorifying God. The sprinkling is a purging process; the death of Christ involves all the glorifying of God in it.

I think we must make a slight difference in thought between the death of Christ and His blood-shedding; the latter being connected with purging through expiation and propitiation, while in the death we get besides the perfect testing of all that Christ was for God, and it was a perfect sweet savour as in the meat-offering. Still they are not disconnected, for there is sweet savour in the burnt-offering, but blood-shedding and sprinkling on the altar with it. I only refer to it as having also a different aspect, which, as we only know in part, we may look at separately.

240 What is important to remark is, that this sprinkling of blood, though every remedy comes from God's love and sovereign grace, is not in itself the outgoing of that full and infinite love — does not take in the counsels of God, nor the work of Christ as the righteous base of those counsels, nor His so being made sin as to open the wide scene of God's glory. God is viewed as a righteous Judge simply, who requires what is clean in His sight, and we through grace are cleansed for Him as He so requires. Hence I have said that, while most precious and indispensable for us, it is the lowest step in the wonderful scheme of grace. In it grace is measured by our need, and God takes the character of Judge.

J. N. D.