Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 26 etc.
Note 1 — 1 Thessalonians 4:14|
Note 2 — Exodus 33:7-11
Note 3 — Psalm 40:6
Note 4 — Luke 12:47-48
Note 5 — 1 Cor. 11:19; Galatians 5:20
Note 6 — John 10:18
Note 7 — Eph. 4:13
Note 8 — 1 Thess. 4:16
Note 9 — Psalm 69:4
Note 10 — Isaiah 29:9-14
Note 11 — John 17:20-23
Note 12 — Ephesians 4:11
Note 13 — Leviticus 13:12-17
Note 14 — John 14:20
Note 15 — Romans 10:10-11
Note 16 — Romans 7:1-8
Note 17 — Hebrews 10:22
Note 18 — Genesis 26
Note 19 — John 12:42-43
Note 20 — John 6:35
Note 21 — Matthew 25:1-13
Note 22 — Ephesians 1:13-14
Note 23 — Matthew 28:18-20
Note 24 — John 20:8-9
Note 25 — Ephesians 4:26
Note 26 — Psalm 66:12
Note 27 — Isaiah 53:12
Note 28 — Mark 3:14
Note 29 — Romans 12:1
Note 30 — Titus 2:11-14
Note 31 — Ephesians 4:26
Note 32 — Luke. 16:9
Note 33 — 2 Corinthians 3:18
Note 34 — Revelation 5:6
Note 35 — Philippians 3:20
Note 36 — Ecclesiastes
Note 37 — Hebrews 1:12, Hebrews 13:8
Note 38 — 1 Thess. 5:6-10
Note 39 — Deuteronomy 32:3
1 Thessalonians 4:14.
It will be seen beyond a doubt, if this passage is carefully read, that the reference is to the return of the saints with Christ. From the preceding verse it is evident that the Thessalonian believers had fallen into the error of supposing that those of their number who had "fallen asleep" before the coming of Christ had suffered loss, and that they were sorrowing for them as if they had no hope. To correct this grievous mistake, the apostle points out that the certainty of their coming with Christ was bound up with the truth of His own death and resurrection. The phrase, "will God bring with Him" (i.e. with Christ), affords no objection to this interpretation, for almost the same words are found in Hebrews applied to the resurrection of Christ, " Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus," etc. (Heb. 13:20.) The same divine and almighty power therefore that raised up Christ from the dead will be again exhibited in the display of the saints in the glory with Jesus at His appearing. (Compare Eph. 1:19-20.) Having established this fact, the apostle proceeds to explain, by a direct communication ("the word of the Lord") which he had received for this purpose, how all the saints alike would be gathered into the presence of Jesus before His appearing, so as to be able to return with Him. First, he tells us that those "who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" shall in no wise have any advantage over those who should have fallen asleep. Then, after describing the majesty, solemnity, and power, with which the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, he says that the dead in Christ shall rise first, and that then those who "are alive and remain" (the former being raised with incorruptible bodies, and the latter "changed," as we learn from other scriptures) "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore," he adds, "comfort one another" (doubtless concerning those that had fallen asleep) "with these words."
If this interpretation be correct, the passage contained in verses 15-18 is parenthetical; and 1 Thess. 5:1 will connect itself with 1 Thess. 4:14. Thus taken all is plain — verse 14 speaking of the appearing of Christ with His people; while, the parenthesis explains, His coming for them, so that all might understand how they will be with Him previous to His appearing; and then the next chapter returns to the appearing, "the day of the Lord." (v. 2.)
The reader will understand that this was not the Tabernacle, the pattern and details of which had been prescribed to Moses in the mount, but a tent, which was now to be a tabernacle, a meeting-place between God and those who sought Him, pitched outside the camp to meet the present need, in consequence of the people's sin. It does not appear that Moses, in this action, had any direct commandment from the Lord. It was rather the result of spiritual discernment, entering into both the character of God and the state of the people. As taught of God, he felt that Jehovah could no longer dwell in the midst of a camp which had been defiled by the presence of the golden calf. He therefore made a place outside, afar off from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of the congregation. This was a totally different thing from what the Lord had said unto Moses. "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." (Ex. 25.) Israel was no longer to be grouped round about Jehovah as their centre; but He being outside, "every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp." It thus became an individual thing; and the true worshippers took the ground of separation from the camp which had acknowledged a false God. This gives a principle of the utmost value and importance, for the children of Israel were professedly the Lord's people; but their condition had become such that Jehovah could no longer dwell in their midst. So in a latter day, as we learn from the epistle to the Hebrews; and hence the exhortation, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb. 13:13.) We thus gather that whenever the Lord's name is dishonoured, and His authority is rejected, in the midst of the people of God, there is no resource for the godly but to go outside of all that answers to the camp, if they would worship God in spirit and in truth. In taking such a step there must undoubtedly be the authority of the word of God — the only lamp to our feet in the darkness around, as it is our only resource in the evil day. But the application of the Word to any given state of things must be a matter of spiritual wisdom and discernment through the Holy Spirit. E. D. See Typical Teachings of Exodus, pp. 367-369.
A few words on the expression, "Mine ears hast Thou opened." The word is not the same as in Exodus 21. There it is attaching the ear with an awl to the door-post. The man thus became a servant for ever. Nor is it the same as in Isaiah 50:4 ("He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner"), where it has the signification of being so completely a servant to his Master's will that He received His commands morning by morning. Here it is, "Mine ears hast Thou digged;" that is, He took the place of a servant. But this He did, as may be seen in Philippians 2, by becoming a man. Hence the Spirit accepts, in Hebrews 10, the interpretation of the Septuagint — "A body hast Thou prepared me." (Compare John 13, which answers in point of time to Exodus 21; Luke 12:37; and 1 Cor. 15:23.) J. N. D.
The question is not raised in this passage, we apprehend, as to where the punishment of the unfaithful servant will be inflicted, but it solely concerns the principle of responsibility. And most solemn is the instruction given in this connection. First, the case is supposed of the servant, who knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will: such an one shall be beaten with many stripes. The greater the light therefore, the greater is the responsibility; for where the light is possessed, there is positively no excuse for disobedience. Indeed, not to do according to the will made known is refusing to obey; in other words, it is rebellion. Judgment will thus take this into account, and hence there will be "many stripes." The second case given is one "that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes." It might have been thought that ignorance of his lord's will would have shielded the servant, though he deserved the punishment. But not so; for while he really did not know his master's mind, his will had been made known, as now, for example, in the Scriptures, and it was the servant's responsibility to have made himself acquainted with it. On this account, although the ignorance is accepted in mitigation of the sentence, the "few stripes" will be administered. Thereon the Lord affirms the principle already stated: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." The principle, therefore, is both divine and human, man also acting upon it in the ordinary transactions of life.
It may be interesting to point out that the responsibility of an assembly proceeds on different ground from that of the servant, it being according to the light actually received. In the letter to Sardis it is thus said, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent," etc. (Rev. 3:3.) Sardis will consequently be, indeed is, judged by the light, the truth, it received at the Reformation. This in nowise militates against the individual responsibility to ascertain, as we have seen, the mind of the Lord from His word. E. D.
1 Cor. 11:19; Galatians 5:20.
It is very striking to observe that the word translated in these scriptures as "heresies" is the same in both cases; for we thus gather that the "heresies," sometimes rendered "schools of opinion," which often appear amongst Christians, are works of the flesh. To enable the reader to enter into the meaning of the word, we append the following remarks: "Observe," says this writer, "the words heresy and sect are in the Greek both ἅιρεσις. The word is correctly rendered the 'sect of the Sadducees' (Acts 5:17) and 'of the Pharisees,' (Acts 15:5), and 'the straitest sect of our religion: (Acts 26:5.) These were parties or sects formed by Jews, whose minds had played with the Jewish religion. That the common thought of Christ's religion was formed by a comparison of it with these sects is plain, where Tertullus accuses Paul before Felix of being 'a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes' (Acts 24:5), and Paul admits 'that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I,' etc. (v. 14); and 'as concerning this sect, we know that it is everywhere spoken against,' (Acts 28:22), said the Jews at Rome to Paul."
How then, it may be enquired, does a heresy or sect commence? "The first thing I would observe," says our writer, "is, that heresy is said to be a work of the flesh. (Gal. 5:20.) Whether the flesh is here looked at more immediately as the root whence heresy in the principle of it arises, or as the energy of the sects and factions in which heresy displays itself, matters not; both are true. If anyone, instead of looking for the Holy Spirit's guidance, dabbles with his own mind in Scripture, he will see either something in the book which is not there, or the contents of the books out of their proper order and relative importance; and here heresy begins … He will either broach things which are not at all in the book, or he will broach a connection of things which is not true; or he may diminish the importance of foundation truth, or magnify unduly some item or point of superstructure truth … He will deal with the truth not as a Spirit-led man would:" Furthermore, as to the agents employed in this evil: "When the enemy is working by heresy, he rarely takes those who are offensive to human nature; nay, many natural beauties and ornaments may cover the plot; but the puffing and breaking of the bubbles within will soon call on the saints for judgment. If they do not anticipate the evil, it will rise and fall over. He will draw away disciples after him; a sect will be formed round himself, and the man is a heretic." From a paper "On Heresy," by the late G. V. W.
The importance of this scripture may be gathered from its exceptional character. In John 5:19 we read, "The Son can do nothing of [from] Himself." In John 14:10, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of [from] Myself." (See also John 8:23; John 12:49.) But now, when speaking of laying down His life, He says, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of [from] Myself." While, however, thus asserting that He has power to lay it down, and power to take it again, He adds, "This commandment have I received of My Father," teaching us that, though He possessed the power, being what He was, He would only exercise it, according to the place of subjection which He had voluntarily taken, in obedience to His Father. An assemblage of Glories is found therefore in this short passage. There is, first, the glory of His person, which shines forth so brightly through the veil of His humiliation; there is the glory of His blessed and perfect obedience, which offered up upon the altar of sacrifice (for death is here in question) ascends to God as a sweet savour, and which furnished the Father's heart with a new motive for the expression of His love to His beloved Son; and there is the glory of the perfect communion between the Father and the Son in object and affection. It is characteristic of this gospel that, while the true Deity of the Son is ever exhibited - could not indeed be concealed — He is always seen in the blessed place of servantship, finding it His meat to do His Father's will and to finish His work. It is the combination of His essential Deity with His lowly path of obedience, a combination which constitutes the mystery of redemption, and furnishes at the same time a theme for adoration and praise. E. D.
The perfect man means simply the state — a full-grown man; but the measure of the stature of a full-grown man in Christ is Christ Himself, all the fulness that is in Him wrought into the soul so that it should be formed by it, and life to and filled with Christ in all its thoughts; its subjective state measured and formed by the objective fulness of Christ, so that there should be no discrepancy and no separation from Him; the saint grown up to him in everything. How wondrous such a thought is I need not say; but this is what is before us. A perfect man as to the expression is simply a full-grown man. So Heb. 5:14. and Heb. 6:1.
1 Thess. 4:16.
The expression, "the dead in Christ," can only be applied to Christians. It is abundantly shown in other scriptures that the saints of previous dispensations will participate in the first resurrection (see, for example, 1 Cor. 15:23; Matt. 8:11); but, in writing to the saints at Thessalonica, the apostle has only Christians in view. This will account for the form of the expression, "dead in Christ," a term, we apprehend, impossible to use of any believers who had died, except those who lived after the death and resurrection of Christ. In Hebrews 12:23 departed Old Testament saints are described as "the spirits of just men made perfect." It is important to understand and to insist upon the distinction, connected as it is both with the truth, and with the ways of God in the revelations of His grace. E. D.
Great care is necessary in the interpretation of this psalm; for while there are parts that apply exclusively to our blessed Lord, there are verses that manifestly include with Him the believing remnant. Speaking, however, generally, the psalm gives us the Messiah suffering from the hands of man, and hence it is that atonement is not found here, and that judgment upon His adversaries is the consequence of His rejection and death. In Psalm 22, on the other hand, where we find Him suffering from the hand of God ("Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death"), and therefore atonement, grace flows out as the result of His death, and so in ever-widening circles. While, however, these are the characteristics of the two psalms, they undoubtedly have their points of contact, inasmuch as in both the activity of Satan is discerned through the expressed enmity of man. In the verse to be considered there are two things; the hatred of the enemies of Christ seeking to compass His destruction, and His own action as shown by the words, "Then I restored that which I took not away." The question is as to what these words signify. The answer is found, we judge, in Leviticus 6. There, in the account of the trespass-offering for sins which, though sins against a neighbour, are yet described as a "trespass against the Lord" (v. 2), we read that he who committed the trespass must "restore that which he took violently away … he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass-offering." (vv. 4, 5.) In this way amends was made to the neighbour, while for the trespass against the Lord the suited offering made atonement. Now in the death of Christ this offering (though it be not seen in the psalm), as well as every other, had its fulfilment; and it is this which affords an instructive and beautiful contrast. From Luke 10 we learn that Christ was pleased to become Israel's neighbour, and it was against Him that Israel committed "trespass." According to Leviticus, therefore, it was Israel who should have made amends and offered the sacrifice; but what could Israel do when, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, he was lying stripped, wounded, and half dead? Israel's Neighbour saw and had compassion upon him in his helpless condition, and Himself, though the One sinned against, undertook to do what was requisite for the trespasser. It was thus that He restored that which He took not away, and, in addition, as we know, became the trespass-offering. They that hated Him without a cause were more than the hairs of His head; they that would destroy Him, being His enemies wrongfully, were mighty; but, instead of exacting from them the penalty of their trespass, He took their place and offered Himself as their trespass-offering. How unutterable His love and grace! In its full result the fulfilment of this scripture will not be seen until Israel is restored to blessing in the kingdom.
It is essential to observe that verses 11 and 12 of this scripture are an illustration. As a consequence of the moral condition of the nation those who should have been the guides of the people had lost, under the judicial hand of Jehovah, all spiritual discernment and knowledge. The spirit of deep sleep had closed their eyes; the prophets, rulers, and seers were all alike blinded. The effect was that if they had a vision none could interpret it. The vision was like a sealed book which the learned man could not read because it was sealed, and which the unlearned did not attempt to open because he could not read. The learned and the unlearned are not any particular persons: they simply represent the general inability to understand the word of the Lord which might be contained in a prophetic vision. The next verse (13th) explains the cause of this judicial blindness. Two things are charged upon the people — charges which should be pondered by God's professing people in every age; first, that their worship consisted in outward rites, that while they drew near to the Lord with their mouth, and honoured Him with their lips, their hearts were far from Him; and, secondly, that their worship (see Matthew 15:9) was regulated by human precepts instead of the divine word. The next verse gives the consequent action of Jehovah: "Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid:" (See Matthew 11:25.) It is a solemn warning for all, as we are thus reminded, that the understanding of the word of God, together with spiritual wisdom and knowledge, can only be retained by those whose hearts are kept in the presence of God (the "true heart" of Hebrews 10:22), and who are, at the same time, walking in subjection to, and are governed by, the revealed mind of God. To teach for commandments the doctrines of men, and thus to make the word of God of none effect by their traditions, was, as the Lord Himself, citing from this chapter, warned the Pharisees, the sum of their iniquity, and the cause of their corrupt moral condition.
The oneness in verse 21 is that resulting from the common possession of the same nature and the same life in the power of the Holy Ghost; only the Lord here prays that this oneness may be expressed. All believers are included in this prayer. Up to verse 19 His own disciples, those at that time with Him, were specially in view; but now He says, " Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me though their word." Looking onward, therefore, from that moment, down to the end of the day of grace, the Lord embraced every one who should receive the testimony of the apostles, whether oral or written; and His desire, as thus presented to the Father, was, "that they all may be one;" that is, that their essential oneness might be exhibited; because it is added, "that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." The manifestation of the oneness of all believers would thus be used to convince the world of the divine mission of the Son. The character of the unity is described in the words, "As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us." It is the oneness of perfect fellowship. (See 1 John 1:3.) The answer to this prayer is seen for a brief moment in Acts 4:32-34; but will, alas! never more be repeated.
The oneness of verses 22, 23 is the oneness of a common glory, resulting from all being glorified together with Christ. We learn, as also from many other scriptures, that Christ, in His infinite grace, will share with His people all the glory which He inherits as Man in virtue of redemption. The object is, "That they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and halt loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." It is, therefore, a displayed unity in glory with Christ (see Col. 3:4; 2 Thess, 1:10), the effect of which, when beheld, at the appearing of our Lord with His saints in glory, will be to cause the world to know (not believe, but know) that the Father had sent the Son, and that He had loved the saints as He had loved Christ. What an unfathomable expression of grace and love lies in these requests of our Lord! And what humiliation becomes the saints of God as they recall their otter failure, while waiting for the glory, to express their essential unity before the eyes of an unbelieving world!
We learn from Ephesians 4:11 that evangelists, pastors, and teachers are distinct gifts. The two last named are morally linked by the fact of their being placed under the same word "some," instead of "some pastors and some teachers," as in the other gifts. This is interesting and instructive. Practically the two ministries are closely allied. The teacher unfolds the mind of God; the pastor looks after the state of the soul. The former supplies the food; the latter sees how the food agrees. The two gifts may often be found in the same vessel, but they are distinct. The teacher is more for the mind, the pastor for the heart.
The evangelist is one who announces "good news," "glad tidings." Such is the meaning of the word. "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere evangelizing." We are not told that they all possessed the specific gift of an evangelist, but they all made known the good news, the glad tidings. There are, of course, evangelists distinctly fitted, distinctly called; but any one who knows the glad tidings can, and ought to, make them known; and cannot but do so if he has a heart for perishing souls. A great deal of most blessed evangelistic work may be done without any specific gift. And, on the other hand, much that passes for evangelistic gift is merely heartless fluency of speech.
You ask "If an evangelist can or may have the gift of teaching? And can a teacher preach the gospel, or be an evangelist also?" Assuredly. It may please the Head of the Church to endow one man with both gifts. In the blessed apostle Paul we find a man who was an evangelist, pastor, prophet, and teacher. Precious, honoured vessel! Each gift has, of course, its own distinct sphere. An evangelist goes forth to "all the world." A teacher unfolds the mind of God to the assembly. The evangelist gathers the sheep, the teacher feeds them, the pastor looks after them. The prophet is one whose ministry brings the conscience into the immediate presence of God. "Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet," said the woman of Sychar, when her conscience was reached. Speaking generally, the teacher is for the understanding, the pastor for the heart, the prophet for the conscience.
And we must remember that all the gifts spoken of in Ephesians 4 are for the perfecting of the saints, with a view to the work of the ministry, with a view to the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all arrive at the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
It is of all importance to be clear and confiding as to this. Some, alas! overwhelmed by the ruin of the professing church, have, under the withering influence of unbelief, denied the perpetuity of Christ's gifts to His body the Church, and fallen back upon human arrangement, education, and human authority. This is a fatal mistake, a step backward into darkness. We own the ruin, put our faces in the dust because of it; but we hold fast our confidence in Christ's faithfulness to His Church, and the perpetuity of His gifts, until we all arrive at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. C. H. M.
The special case of leprosy indicated in this scripture is very striking. In general, leprosy is sin acting in the flesh; and consequently, when the "raw flesh appeareth" (v. 14), it is a sign of its activity, and the man was to be pronounced unclean. (v. 14.) But if the leprosy have covered all his flesh (there being no raw flesh) he was, on the other hand, to be pronounced clean — "it is all turned white: he is clean." (v. 13.) The flesh in this case has been at work, and the proof of its past activity is still to be seen; but its activity has been arrested, and thus, though a leper, he is to be estimated as clean. Such an one was healed though not yet cleansed, not brought under the efficacy of the sacrifices or restored to relationship with God inside the camp. Typically, it is a sinner in the place of self-judgment before God. Defiled by sin, and knowing it, the activity of sin is arrested, because he is in the place of repentance. It is the moment (for it must never be forgotten that it is moral order here set forth) when the sinner bows in the presence of God, confessing his guilt and the truth of his condition. He is still a sinner, for though repentant, he is not yet under the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ; but, while a sinner, the activity of the flesh is now stopped, and thus he may be said to be "healed." (Lev. 14:3.) In the next chapter are found the various rites for the cleansing or purification of the leper, in order to qualify him for communion. The first thing, as the foundation of all, inasmuch as the leper being without the camp typifies the sinner, is the death and resurrection of Christ. Then, when once under the efficacy of the sprinkled blood, whereby God's judicial claims are fully answered, there was to be the moral purification of himself and every thing connected with him through the washing of water (the Word); "the moral judgment of sin viewed as that which excludes from God's presence, so that the sinner is, in principle and faith, morally as well as judicially cleansed." After this he can enter the camp, though he must still remain outside of his tent for seven days (v. 8); for it is from this point that "the work of bringing him into communion with God in his conscience begins." In this process washing with water, and removing every thing in which there might be impurity — the unsparing application of the Word — occupies the foremost place. Then, on the eighth day, he was to bring the appointed offerings — the trespass-offering, the sin-offering, the burnt and the meat-offering — together with a log of oil, and he is brought, in the appointed manner, under the several efficacy of each. He is, moreover, sprinkled with blood upon the tip of the right ear, upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, claimed thus in obedience, action, and walk according to the infinite value of that precious blood whereby he had been cleansed. In the next place he is anointed on the places where he had been sprinkled — he has power given him (we speak of the thing typified) to meet the claims of God upon him for entire devotedness. In this way (the reader will pursue for himself the instructive details) the leper was restored to the enjoyment of relationship with Jehovah; for the priest that was to "make him clean" presented, first, the man and his offerings "before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (v. 11.)
"That day" looks on to the time when the Holy Ghost should have come, and when He should be dwelling in the disciples. (vv. 16, 17.) By Him alone could they have the knowledge of which the Lord here speaks. First, they should then know that He was in the Father — "My Father." In verse 10 He says, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" This latter expression evidently means, from the context, that the Father was perfectly manifested in Christ as the Son (v. 9); whereas the former will signify that He is "divinely one with the Father." It is, therefore, the true deity of the Son, and this apprehended by the Holy Spirit.
The second thing is, "And ye in Me." This corresponds with Romans 8 "in Christ Jesus," and marks out the new place and standing of the believer in Christ as risen from the dead. "I in you" will also correspond with the words in Romans 8, "If Christ be in You." (v. 10.) The following well-known citation may further help the reader: "This is individual, not the union of the members of the body with Christ; nor is union indeed an exact term for it. We are in Him. This is more than union, but not the same thing. It is nature, and life, and position in it; our place in that nature and life. When He was on earth, and they had not the Holy Ghost, they should have known that He was in the Father, and the Father in Him. When He was in heaven, and they had the Holy Ghost, they would know that they were in Him, and He in them." It is important to repeat that. this wonderful knowledge can only be acquired through the Holy Spirit, who dwells in all who have received the forgiveness of sins.
We are thus brought into a totally new place before God through the death and resurrection of Christ, and we know it by the Holy Ghost. If, moreover, Christ is in us, it is Christ who is to be expressed through us, in the power of that same Spirit, in our walk and ways. (Compare Romans 8:10; 2 Cor. 4:10-11.) Consequently if "ye in Me" marks out our new place or position, the "I in you" will indicate subjective condition; for the apostle says, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
The connection makes all plain. In verse 4 we have the distinct statement that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Next, we have the contrast, in verses 5, 6, between "the righteousness which is of the law," and "the righteousness which is of faith;" and very remarkably the apostle cites, in proof of what the latter is, words of Moses from Deuteronomy. The reason is that Moses speaks of a time when Israel has "already incurred the consequences of disobedience, and are seen as driven out of the land, and strangers among distant nations." The return of the people in heart to Jehovah is then pointed out as the means of restoration (see Deut. 30:6-10); and thereon follows the passage quoted, and, it should be added, is interpreted according to the mind of the Spirit. Hence the apostle says, "The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in throe heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what with it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in throe heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shah be saved." (vv. 6-9.) It was, therefore, no more a question of doing. The law had been openly broken, and, as a consequence, Israel had become a nation of transgressors. Righteousness could not, therefore, be in the way of law-keeping; but, in the grace of God, it was now on the principle of faith. There was nothing indeed left to do; for Christ had come down to earth; He had died to redeem those that were under the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us; He had risen out of death, God's own demonstration of the completeness and all-sufficiency of the atonement He had made; and thus it is with the heart man now believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It is heart belief; that is, a real inward heart conviction, not mere intellectual assent, a faith in God's testimony concerning His beloved Son which is divinely produced by the Holy Spirit; it is this faith which justifies (Romans 5:1); this faith with which man believes unto, in order to have part in, righteousness, God's righteousness. Confession with the mouth follows as the evidence of the reality of the faith, and this confession, a real confession of the name of Christ, is unto salvation; that is, it is in order to salvation, as "salvation" is here used in its full and final sense, including the resurrection of the body, and the glory to be revealed. E. D.
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IN what a wondrous place we are set, if we could but be purged, not from gross sins only, but from the vanity and earthliness that fill our minds, to enter into all our blessedness, and the association we have thus with God - the very same which Christ has! He has borne the wrath of God for our sins, that this fall cup of blessing might be given to us. A man may talk about many things, but knowledge apart from Christ will never do; but if we possess Christ within Satan can never touch us; and if he comes, he will find Christ there, who has overcome him.
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IN a right path we have the whole power of God at our disposal.
Our first husband, in the application the apostle makes of his illustration concerning the wife and the husband (vv. 1-3), is undoubtedly the law. The confusion has arisen from not noticing the change in the application of the figure. The woman is free to be married to another after her husband dies. In our case it is not the husband — the law — that dies; but we ourselves who die. "Wherefore, my brethren," as the apostle says, "ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ" (v. 4); and, again, as it should be rendered, "But now we are delivered from the law, having died to that wherein we were held." (v. 6.)
The truth then is that we have been emancipated from the law (the first husband) through death — death with Christ; and we are thus free to be "to" another, Christ as raised from the dead; that we should bring forth fruit unto God. The law, therefore, has no further claim upon us; it has, so to speak, exacted all that it was entitled to in the death of Christ, in our death with Him (see Gal. 2:19), though we are not without law to God, but under law, legitimately subject to, Christ. (1 Cor. 9:21.) To Him we owe everything, to Him we belong; and only as this is recognized in the power of the Holy Ghost shall we bring forth fruit to God. How blessed to know and to own the absolute claims of Christ!
Two things are contained in this scripture - the qualification, and the condition for "drawing near;" that is, for entering the holiest for worship. In the order of the passage the qualification comes last, but we may take it first. Our hearts then, in the first place, must be sprinkled from an evil conscience, an evident allusion to the efficacy of the blood of Christ as giving, for the believer, no more conscience of sins (v. 2), inasmuch as He, by His one offering, has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (v. 14.) Then, also, our bodies must have been washed with pure water, a reference as plainly to the washing of the priests at their consecration (Exodus 29), and which, figuratively, set forth the new birth. It is interesting to notice, in this connection, that, in John 13, when the Lord says to Peter, "He that is washed [or bathed] needeth not save to wash his feet," the same word is used, and doubtless for the reason that He also alludes to the washing at the priestly consecration; for the washing of their bodies was never repeated; only their hands and their feet at the layer. The essential qualification then for entering the holiest is to have been born again, and to be under the cleansing efficacy, as to the conscience, of the precious blood of Christ. Together with this there must be a corresponding state of soul. First, "a true heart," a heart that has no reserves from God, but has exposed its inmost secrets in the light of His presence; a heart, therefore, that does not condemn us (1 John 3:21), because all has been judged according to the holiness of the sanctuary. Then, also, there is to be the full assurance of faith, confidence in the grace and love of Him to whom we "draw near." The reader may remark that confidence is conjoined also in 1 John with a heart that does not condemn. The lesson then of the scripture is that, while the qualification gives an indefeasible title to enter the holiest, there must be at the same tune an answering spiritual condition to enable us to enjoy the privilege.
Isaac has to be regarded in two aspects. He is a type in Genesis 22 and Genesis 24 of Christ in resurrection, though in relation to the earth; and, secondly, he is presented in his own individual walk and conduct as a believer. In this chapter he "replaces Abraham as heir upon the earth," and down to verse 5 we have his position; and thence, to the end of the chapter, the character of his walk. It corresponds, therefore, with Genesis 12 as to Abraham, and the reader will find the comparison, observing characteristic differences, a profitable study. Two things only will occupy us in this "note." First, Isaac's difficulties with the Philistines; and secondly, his spiritual energy, notwithstanding his failures. He dwelt in Gerar. (v. 6.) He had been driven there by the famine. (v. 1.) Abraham, under similar pressure, went down into Egypt, seeking help from the world. Isaac goes unto the king of the Philistines, where he was still within the boundaries of the land; and there the Lord appeared to him, and, forbidding him to go "down into Egypt," charged him to "sojourn in this land," promising at the same time to be with him, and to bless him, while He renews to him the promises made to Abraham.
The Philistines are those who occupy the place, and here the territory, of the people of God — without the title to do so; and who, enemies at heart, ever seek to oppress and to bring them into bondage. They constitute, therefore, in one aspect, a greater danger than Egypt itself. Isaac fails before the Philistines, as Abraham had done in Egypt, in denying his true relationship to Rebekah, spiritually interpreted, his relationship to Christ. The Lord, however, was with him, and blessed him both in store and cattle, "and the Philistines envied him." The manifest blessing of God upon those who are His excited, as it ever does, the ill-will of those who, without being His, intrude into their privileges. Their envy was exhibited in stopping up all the wells which Abraham's servants had digged; and, at length, in driving Isaac out of their midst. How often does the Lord secure the richer blessing of His people by compelling them, through the enmity of professors, to have recourse to the path of separation?
Though not yet out of the land, where the Philistines dwelt, the moment Isaac has removed to a distance, he displays spiritual power. He "digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father … and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them." (v. 18.) Wells are ever in Scripture, specially in Genesis, sources of life and blessing, and, as such, the enemy naturally seeks to "fill them with earth:" (v. 15.) The opening up of the truths of Scripture in the time of the Reformation, and still more strikingly, some sixty years ago, though indeed these had been previously stopped, corresponds with the wells which Abraham's servants had dug, and which Satan ever since, acting through the Philistines, has been endeavouring to choke. But Isaac cleared and called them by their old names, an example, in this respect, for men of faith and energy in every age. Take for instance the doctrine of justification by faith, or the truth of the one body of Christ, the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth, or the coming of the Lord for His people. Who are they who have sought to "stop up" these blessed wells of water? They have been in every case the "Philistines;" and hence the continued need of the Isaacs to re-dig them, and to call them by their old, that is, by their scriptural names.
Remark, also, that every new well dug evoked the further enmity of the Philistines. (vv. 19-21.) Driven thus farther and farther away, he dug another, "and for that they strove not;" and he named it Rehoboth, for the Lord had made room for him, and he added, "we shall be fruitful in the land." There is always room, together with blessing, for the people of God in the place of separation. Thence he removes to Beersheba, reminiscent of blessing in the days of Abraham (Genesis 21); and there the Lord immediately ("the same night") appears to him, and confirms His promises. The consequence is Isaac becomes a worshipper (he builds an altar), and then a pilgrim (he pitches his tent); and there also his servants dig a well, significant of the fact that blessing is ever in proportion to our acceptance of the truth of our calling. Then, moreover, the Philistines come and submit themselves unto him; for they feared the man who was walking apart, and enjoying the favour of God. Thereon another well is dug, and in the very place where Abraham his father had both found blessing, and worshipped "the Lord, the everlasting God." (Chapter 21.)
Whether these chief rulers who believed on Christ possessed a divinely-given faith is impossible to say with certainty. It is evident that they loved their public position better than Christ, and the praise of men more than the praise of God. We have, moreover, in this gospel frequent mention of believers who are afterwards seen, or from the context itself, to be only professors, or rather those whose minds bowed to the evidence proffered that Jesus was the Christ, while their hearts and consciences were untouched. As an example of the latter, we read in John 2 that "many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did." And then it is immediately added, as showing that it was only intellectual conviction, that "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men." In chapter 6 also we find that many of the Lord's disciples stumbled at His teaching, "went back, and walked no more with Him." Moreover in John 8, following upon the statement that "as He spake these words, many believed on Him," we read, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed." Perseverance in the truth professed would be the outward sign of their reality. All that the Father gave to the Son were drawn to Him; and He received, kept them, and would raise them up again at the last day; for it was the Father's will that all such who saw the Son, and believed on Him, should have everlasting life. (John 6:37-40.) But whether the chief rulers of John 12 were amongst this number eternity alone will declare, though their conduct may well raise the gravest doubts in our minds. E. D.
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IF God has commended His love towards us, it is when we were sinners, but I learn it all in joy in God. He loved me when there was nothing in me to love; and the grand testimony of absolutely divine love is that God loved sinners. So the grace of Christ to me is not my highest place; but it is the highest place of Christ. It makes me little and Christ great. To be put into Christ makes me great; to find Christ going the same path as myself, that He may understand every feeling I have, makes His grace great.
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THE great secret is to have entire confidence in the love of God, in the certainty that He is the doer of all - not looking at circumstances or at second causes, but seeing the hand of the Lord in all, that all is for the trial of our faith, and that it is only on the way. The evil, the sin, the ill-will of others, all the things that are in the world, He uses simply as an instrument to break down and exercise our heart, so that our obedience may be simple, and that our faith may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearance of Jesus.
There is a reason for the introduction by our Lord in this scripture of both hunger and thirst. The Jews had spoken of the manna of which their fathers had eaten in the wilderness, according as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." The Lord, in reply, explained that the manna was not the true bread; it was only a type and shadow. "My Father," He said, "giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." This awakened at least their natural desires, and they said, "Lord, evermore give us this bread;" and it is in answer to this request the words of our scripture were uttered. If the reader, now, will turn to Exodus 16, he will see that the manna was given to satisfy the hunger of the people; and that water is brought out of the rock in Exodus 17 to quench their thirst. It is therefore in allusion to these notable incidents in Israel's wilderness experience that the Lord here says, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." He thus declares that in Himself, who stood before their eyes, the types of the manna and of the smitten rock had their answer and fulfilment; and hence that in receiving Him every craving and desire of their souls would be abundantly satisfied, and that for ever. But, as the context shows, it is not until after He is known in death that He can be appropriated as the manna.
In the interpretation of a parable, the first thing to be ascertained is its main object. In that before us, it is evident from verse 13 that it is to impress upon us the need of being constantly ready, ever on the watch, for the Lord's return, because, as the day and the hour are unknown, it may occur at any moment. To turn aside from this, and to discuss the meaning of the number ten (albeit there may be significance in it according to its general usage), and to enquire whether, because half this number were wise, and the other half foolish, we are to conclude that half of all professing Christians are unreal, is altogether to miss the Lord's mind, and consequently to lose the solemn instruction conveyed. The characteristic of all the virgins is, that they go forth to meet the Bridegroom. All Christians therefore, all professing Christians even, are on one common ground, whether consciously or unconsciously, of waiting for Christ. But, owing to the Bridegroom's delay, all the virgins "slumbered and slept;" the whole church fell under the soporific influences of the world, and lost the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord. In mercy the Holy Spirit wrought and caused the cry to be rung out in the stillness of the night, "Behold the Bridegroom." The effect was to arouse all the virgins; and then those that were foolish made the fatal discovery that they were lacking in oil, the one essential element of readiness for "going out" to meet the Bridegroom. And, alas! they found still further, that it was now too late to repair the consequences of their neglect, for "while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came;" and, as the issue shows, they were, spite of their pleading entreaties, finally and for ever excluded. Only those "that were ready" went in with the Bridegroom to the marriage. The question then is one of practical readiness to meet Christ at His coming. There are four features of this indicated; first, there is the fundamentally essential one of having oil in our vessels, oil being, as ever, a type of the Holy Ghost. Unless, therefore, we are born again, and have the indwelling Spirit, we could not be ready to meet Christ. There must be, in addition, separation ("go ye out to meet Him"), lamps trimmed, that nothing might obscure the bright shining of the light (Christ displayed in the life); and, finally, as already noticed, there must be watching. The Lord give us grace to lay to heart the teaching of this parable.
The more exact rendering of this scripture is, "In whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," etc. The sense is in no wise altered by the change, for, in both translations alike, faith precedes the reception of the Holy Ghost. No one would dispute this statement, but the question still remains as to the condition or ground of sealing with the Spirit. Here it follows upon the acceptance of "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation," a term of large import in this epistle. In the Acts we may gather, still more precisely, the moment of the sealing. Both in Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:43-44 it is clearly taught that the Spirit of God is not bestowed until after the forgiveness of sins is received; that, in other words, the ground on which God seals the believer is the knowledge of the efficacy of the work of Christ in regard to his sins. This order is seen typically also in the cleansing of the leper. (Lev. 14.) The oil (the Holy Spirit) was "put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass-offering:" that is, he was first, speaking typically, cleansed from guilt, and then sealed. Nothing is more certain than this divine order.
But it is objected, "To say that there can be conversion without deliverance and sealing at the same moment is to state that deliverance and sealing unlike salvation — are not contingent directly upon Christ's finished work since the descent of the Holy Ghost." Surely the writer cannot have seriously weighed the facts of Scripture. Was not Cornelius converted before Peter was sent to tell him words, whereby he and all his house should be saved? (Acts 11:14.) Were not the Samaritans converted under the preaching of Philip before the arrival of Peter and John? Was not the man in Rom. 7, who could say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," really converted, though as yet he did not know deliverance? The finished work of Christ is indeed the foundation of all our blessing; but what is meant by the work of Christ? There are numbers of believers who only understand by that term the death of Christ for our sins, and such could not know deliverance, inasmuch as this is consequent upon learning that our old man has been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed (annulled), that henceforth we should not serve sin. Neither — let it be plainly stated — will deliverance be reached through believing the truth of death with Christ. There must indeed be the knowledge of the truth, but the character, the powerlessness, the irremediable nature of the flesh must be experimentally apprehended, analogously to the experience given in Romans 7, before the soul can pass out into the blessed freedom of its new place in Christ risen as set forth in Romans 8.
To sum up, then, there may be conversion before the forgiveness of sins is received; there must be forgiveness of sins before the Holy Ghost is bestowed; and deliverance will never be reached, though there may be the knowledge of death with Christ, until after the nature and impotence of the flesh have been experimentally learned. But where the full "gospel of our salvation" is proclaimed, and where there are deep exercises of soul, not only concerning sins, but also concerning the evil nature that produced the sins, forgiveness, the sealing, the reception of the Holy Ghost, and the knowledge of deliverance may follow immediately one upon the other. In the present day, however, this is a rare experience.
THERE is a very great difference between this mission to all nations and that afterwards confided to Paul. The following remarks on the subject will make this clear: "The Lord addresses them (the disciples) on the ground of the place which now belonged to Him, which He will fully take in power hereafter, which belonged to the risen Lord, being His in right of the new place into which He had entered as man. 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.' All is not accomplished, all things not yet put under His feet, but it is His place as the risen Man who has glorified God and accomplished the work given Him to do. Hence He sends them forth beyond the limits of the King of Israel in Zion — that had been set forth fully in chapter 10, then and on to the future. Here connected with the remnant of the Jews, associating them as brethren with Himself, having accomplished redemption, they were to disciple the nations, baptizing them (not to Jehovah, not to Messiah or the Son of David, but) to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that in which the one God of Israel was fully and completely revealed; teaching them to observe that which they had learned from Him on the earth; and He would be with them to the end of the age. It is thus before the millennium, not the mystery of the church, nor the future gathering of all things. The mystery of the church was revealed and confided to Paul, the gathering of all things is to come when the age is finished. It is not the mission from Bethany (Luke 24) which the Acts follow throughout, not starting from Jerusalem, nor beginning it as that did; but, accepting the poor of the flock as brethren to Christ, they were to bring in, disciple, all the nations on the footing of their relationship with Him as thus risen … The ministry of Paul, who took up by a separate divine mission the evangelization of the nations, was not the carrying out of this. His was more fully even yet a mission from an ascended and glorified Saviour, to which was added the ministry of the church. It connects itself even much more in its first elements with Luke. The ministry here established stands alone. The disciples are not sent to Jews, as in Luke, [their mission] coming from an ascended Saviour, they were to begin at Jerusalem. [Here] Jerusalem is rejected, and the remnant attached to Christ (His brethren, and owned in this character) sent out to Gentiles. This, as far as Scripture teaches, has never been fulfilled … A new mission to the Gentiles is sent forth in the person of Paul, and that connected with the establishment of the church on earth. The accomplishment of this mission has been thus interrupted … but this testimony will go forth before the Lord comes. 'The brethren' (Matt. 25:40) will carry it to warn the Gentiles. This testimony is connected with the Jewish remnant, and owned by a risen Lord of all, with the earth and His earthly directions; but for the present it has in fact given place to a heavenly commission, and the church of God.* The distinction here shown will fully explain the different place of baptism in the ministry of Paul (1 Cor. 1:17) from that which it holds in the mission of the twelve. E. D.
*Expository Writings, vol. ii. pp. 326-328, by J. N. D.
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WHEN the heart has found its rest in Christ, and is satisfied, it easily refuses what is not suited to Him. We do not refuse in order to obtain, but we refuse because we already possess. This is the lesson of Philippians 3:7-8.
There are two possible interpretations of the words, "For as yet they knew not the scriptures, that He must rise again from the dead." It might be taken as giving a reason for the faith of "that other disciple" in the resurrection of Jesus, when he saw that the sepulchre was empty, that until now they had not known the scripture which foretold it. But we do not ourselves accept this view of the case; and for two reasons. First, it is expressly stated that this disciple saw and believed — that is, he believed when he saw — believed on the testimony, afforded by the empty tomb; and then it is added, as an explanation, that as yet they did not know the scripture on the subject. Secondly, it will be noticed that the statement in verse 8 is confined to that disciple — it is "he saw and believed," whereas in verse 9 it is "they knew not the scripture," showing that the affirmation is of the common ignorance of the disciples. This confirms the interpretation preferred. True the Lord had taught them again and again of the necessity of His death, and that on the third day He would rise again; but as Mark 9:10, 31, 32, as well as many other scriptures indicate, they did not comprehend the meaning of His words. The Spirit of God had not yet come; and, as many of us know from experience, until He unfolds to us the divine Word, we may hear and read it frequently without the slightest understanding of its real significance and application. It should moreover be borne in mind that "rising from among the dead," as it should be rendered in Mark 9:10, was a totally new thing, a new revelation to the disciples, and something therefore for which they were wholly unprepared, to say nothing of all the harrowing circumstances (which would be still occupying their minds) they had so recently passed through in connection with the death of their beloved Lord.
For the understanding of this scripture it is important to remind ourselves of the true rendering of verses 22 and 24. They should read, "Your having put off," and "Your having put on," etc. The truth as it is in Jesus then is, that, in the death of Christ, we have put off the old man, and that, in the resurrection of Christ, we have put on the new man. All the following exhortations are based upon this twofold fact. In other words, it is because of our having put off the old man, through our association with the death of Christ, that the apostle urges us in verse 25 to put away lying, and, because of our having put on the new man in the resurrection of Christ, to speak every man truth with his neighbour (although here, in accordance with the distinctive truth of the epistle, the additional thought of union with Christ, and with one another — "for we are members one of another "is introduced); for lying could only proceed from the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (v. 22); and truth could only come from the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (or, holiness of the truth). (v. 24.) So far all is plain; but the exhortation, "Be ye angry, and sin not" (v. 26), is not so simple, because anger is generally associated, as in verse 31, with the works of the flesh. It is evident therefore that, inasmuch as it is a precept, the anger here intended is of wholly another kind; and, moreover, it is to be observed, that even in this anger there is danger, or the words, "and sin not," would not have been added. The fact is, there is such a thing, as frequently seen in the Old Testament, and once in the life of our blessed Lord (Mark 3:5), as divine anger, holy indignation, and in this sense it is possible to be angry in communion with the mind of God. But so easily might this pass over into human, natural anger or indignation, that the caution against sinning is appended. For the same reason the apostle proceeds, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath," for if it is cherished it will take possession of the soul, and afford an opportunity to the flesh to assert itself, and thus be the means of sinning. E. D.
The expressions "fire" and "water" in this scripture may perhaps be explained by Numbers 31:23. Concerning the spoil which Israel had taken from the Midianites, Eleazar commanded, by the word of the Lord, "Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water." Fire and water, therefore, were the two instrumentalities of purification. So it would seem also in our Psalm, for it expressly says, in verse 10, "For Thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried." And then the psalmist describes briefly God's various dealings with His people on account of their sins, and sums all up in the words, "We went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place."
Fire is constantly a figure for the holiness of God in judgment (see, for example, Deut. 4:24; Deut. 5:24-25); and water, when not used as a symbol of the Word, as in John 3:, 13, etc., is employed, in another aspect, in a similar sense, as, for example, in the cases of the Red Sea and the Jordan. (Compare Psalm 69:1, 14; Jonah 2:2-5, etc.)
The period to which the issue ("Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place") points is the full blessing of Israel in Messiah's glorious kingdom. (See vv. 1-4.) The Psalm is thus Israel's retrospect after restoration and blessing. Worship can now flow out unhinderedly (vv. 13-15), as well as the call to all lands to "make a joyful noise unto God." When the goal is reached, God is seen to be justified in all His ways, and to be "clear" in all His judgments; and hence it is that Israel can cry, "O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard," etc.; and also, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul."
The reference in this scripture is to Messiah's exaltation in His earthly kingdom as consequent upon His suffering and death. This is one of the glories after His suffering, even as He said to the two disciples, when on their way to Emmaus, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" (See also 1 Peter 1:11.) In the previous verse Jehovah speaks of Him as "My righteous Servant," and this will account for the language here employed, "There fore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong." (Compare Psalm 110.) The period alluded to is when He returns with His saints to take His kingdom, when He will come as King of kings and Lord of lords, and when, in this character, He will put down all rule and all authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24), and when all kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him. (Psalm 72:11.) But looked upon in our scripture as receiving His kingdom, it is Jehovah who says, "I will divide Him a portion with the great;" that is, I will exalt Him above the greatest of the earth, make Him "higher than the kings of the earth;" and then He adds, "He shall divide the spoil with the strong," as the result of His victory over all His enemies. It is thus for the suffering of death that we here behold Him glorious in His exaltation in His kingdom, and in His sovereignty over the kingdoms of the earth.
The moral order in this scripture is of all importance. The Lord appointed (not "ordained") twelve; first, that they might be with Him, and then that He might send them forth to preach, and also to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons. To be with Christ therefore, to be in fellowship with Him, is the indispensable qualification for all true service, and for the victorious exercise of divine power in conflict with the enemy. If it be objected that the twelve were never practically in this condition of soul, the answer is, that whatever their failure the teaching abides. To "have part" with Christ is thus a necessity for those who would labour according to His mind, and this will at the same time ensure His presence with the servant in manifest power. So also in the gospel of John it is, "Abide in Me, and I in you."
There can be little doubt that "living sacrifice" is a contrast with the dead sacrifices — the bodies of animals that were laid, as in the burnt-offerings, upon the brazen altar and offered up to God. For the understanding of the exhortation it is necessary to seize the connection. The body is looked upon in this epistle as the seat of sin. In Romans 6, the apostle reminds us that our old man is crucified with Christ, "that the body of sin might be destroyed" (annulled), "that henceforth we should not serve sin;" and thereon he deduces certain moral consequences, and urges, in that Christ died, He died to sin once: and in that He liveth He liveth unto God; that we should reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Then he proceeds, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body," etc., for "justified" from sin through death with Christ, we are delivered from the old master, and thus free to "yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
Now our scripture, as to the exhortation, connects itself with this truth; while, as to the ground of appeal ("I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God"), it flows from the end of Romans 8, because that is the conclusion of the setting forth of God's "mercies" in redemption.
If the reader has followed this brief outline he will be prepared to enter into the import of these words of the apostle. Three things are, in fact, supposed — our bodies delivered from the dominion of sin (the old man), the possession of a new life in Christ risen, and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. It is, then, in the power of the new life through the Spirit that we are called upon to present our bodies (once governed by sin, directed by our own will and inclination) as living sacrifices, immolated alive, as it were, upon the altar, to be henceforth used for Him, vessels now for the display of His glory. (Compare 2 Cor. 4:6, 10, 11.) Such a sacrifice, separated unto God in the power of the Holy Ghost, is holy, acceptable unto God; and it is also our reasonable (intelligent) service, for surely our bodies belong to Him who has emancipated us from sin. As indeed the apostle says, when dealing with another truth, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body,* which is God's." (1 Cor. 6:19-20.)
*The words "and in your spirit" should be omitted, as having no sufficient authority.
This passage is better rendered as in the New Translation: "For the grace of God, which carries with it salvation for all men, has appeared, teaching us that, having denied impiety and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and justly and piously in the present course of things, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," etc. This rendering presents, as will be at once perceived, some interesting and instructive points of difference. It brings, first of all, into prominence the universal character of grace; for although the Authorised Translation is as grammatically correct as that given above, there can be little doubt that the other conveys the mind of the Holy Spirit. The grace of God, then, brings with it salvation for all men. It is unlimited, except by the will of man: "Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely." And this grace has appeared, first in the person of Christ, and then in the message of His ambassadors. (2 Cor. 5:19-20.) It has, moreover, been proclaimed in the whole creation under heaven. (Col. 1:23.) But salvation is a comprehensive term; and hence, when this grace is once received, it contains teaching as to the manner of our lives. Thus we are instructed to deny ungodliness (or impiety) and worldly lusts, all of which belong to our past condition in the flesh (compare 1 Peter 4:1-3), and to "live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." The scope of these three words is very extensive. Soberly will apply to ourselves, signifying that we are to be under the restraint and governance imposed by the presence of Him before whom we live in the power of the Holy Ghost; righteously, that is, we are to recognise the claims of those around, and thus to maintain a conscience void of offence toward man; and godly, which will mean, in another's language, that we are to own the rights of God over our hearts, and exercise godliness.
This is to be the character of our walk amid the seductions of this age; and, moreover, we have to maintain the attitude of expectation, "looking for that blessed hope," etc. The coming of Christ for His people is not found in these personal epistles, nor ever indeed when the believer is regarded as in service or under responsibility. The appearing of Christ is then the goal. (See 1 Tim. 6:13-15.) It is just possible, however, that in "the blessed hope" there is a hint of the coming before the reference to the displayed glory. If not this, it directs our attention to the truth contained in 1 John 3:2 — to our being like Christ, when we see Him as He is. The words, "Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," from their arrangement in the original, may, and without question do, refer to the same Person; that is, it is not God and the Saviour Jesus Christ, but rather He who will appear in glory is our great God as well as our Saviour Jesus Christ. What a presentation of the dignity of His person; yea, of His Deity! And what a glorious event it is that we await!
Then, lastly, we are reminded that our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose advent in glory we expect, is He who gave Himself for us; and that, if He gave Himself for us, it was that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. This aspect of the death of Christ is much to be observed. (Compare Gal. 1:4, 1 Peter 4:1.) It is not here bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, though He surely did this on the cross, but it is that He might redeem us from all "lawlessness," from all self-pleasing and doing our own will; also that He might have us for Himself, a cleansed and peculiar people, and a people who should be distinguished by their zeal for good works, going about, even as He Himself did, to do good.
The following observations on this scripture are from one of our contributors: "I send a note on Ephesians 4:26, which you comment on in the Christian Friend for August. If you think it worth while to notice it it may be of interest to students, and elicit further light perhaps.
"These words (Ephesians 4:26) seem to be a quotation of Psalm 4:4. The Septuagint may be received, I suppose, as giving in Greek the sense of the original Hebrew; and these words stand there, οργιζεσθε και μη αμαρτανετε, and are exactly repeated by Paul in the above passage; hence I scarcely think that one can get away from the admission that the apostle quotes them from the psalm. Our English translators of 1611 (translating, not from the Septuagint, but from the Hebrew) seem to have concluded that the English they give, 'Stand in awe, and sin not,' represented the meaning of the Hebrew. But the Textus Receptus (having the same words as the Septuagint) they have translated, 'Be ye angry, and sin not.' J. N. D. translates in his French Bible (Psalm 4:4), 'Agitez-vous, et ne péchez pas,' and agrees with our translators in Ephesians 4:26; viz., 'Mettez-vous en colère,' etc. The prayer-book version of the Psalms has, 'Stand in awe, and sin not.'
Does the Septuagint give the Greek meaning of the Hebrew? Does the English of the Psalms represent also the meaning of the Hebrew? If so, why not translate Ephesians 4:26 into the English which the psalm gives? These are interesting points for those who may have a better knowledge of Greek (I never studied Hebrew) than I have. For all must see there is a great difference in English (a beautiful shade of meaning) in 'Stand in awe, and sin not,' which 'Be ye angry, and sin not' does not contain — "Agitez-vous" contains it. I should be glad to know if you have gone over this, as I daresay you have."
We add a few remarks to assist any who may desire to examine the question raised. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated (Psalm 4: d) "stand in awe" is, "to be moved," or, "to be disturbed;" and hence sometimes, "to be moved with anger," or, "to be angry" (see Proverbs 29:9; Isaiah 37:28), also, "to be moved with grief." (2 Sam. 19:1.) Again, "to be moved with fear," "to tremble," or, "to quake." The affection or feeling, therefore, with which one is moved must be gathered from the context.* We conclude that the English translation, rather than the Septuagint, expresses the sense of the Hebrew. When the Spirit of God distinctly sanctions the Greek renderings, as is the case, for example, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, they have for us the stamp of divine authority, but not otherwise. Nor do we judge that the fact of Paul citing the Greek rendering of Psalm 4:4 (if it is a citation) endorses the translation of the psalm. He is led of the Spirit to use the words in Ephesians 4:26; and there, of course, they are inspired words; and we cannot doubt that they are rightly given in English as, "Be ye angry, and sin not." (See the New Translation, P.V., Vulgate, Luther, etc.)
*The reader who is unacquainted with Hebrew may see the various uses of the word in the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, Vol. ii. p. 1155.
It is conclusive from many examples that Luke uses "the third person active for the mere existence of the fact, or the passive." The words, "That they may receive you," should consequently be rendered, "That ye may be received." The possessions of this world "the mammon of unrighteousness" — are to be used, not for present gratification or enjoyment (for man, or Israel, is looked upon as a steward, even if out of place), but in view of the future. The apostle Paul touches upon the same doctrine when he writes, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (or rather, "on that which is really life"). (1 Timothy 6:17-19.) It will at once be perceived that there is no foundation for the popular conception, embodied in poetry, books, and sermons, that those who have been the recipients of the bounty of the saints on earth will be assembled to welcome their former benefactors on their entrance into "everlasting habitations." It is quite true that Christ Himself will forget nothing which has been done in His name; but the above conception puts the saints before Christ, nay, leaves Him altogether out of the picture.
2 Corinthians 3:18.
Etymology, while it may sometimes assist, is worse than useless when relied upon for the interpretation of the word of God. It forgets that it has to do with the formation of a word, rather than its use or application after it is formed. For example, the above passage is given, and no doubt correctly according to the etymology of the word, in the Authorized Translation: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," etc. A twofold error has been the result. First, it has been contended by some that we "mirror" the glory of the Lord; and by others, secondly, that we "reflect" it. In both cases our gradual transformation from glory to glory is lost sight of; and, worse even than that, it makes the believer to "mirror" or to reflect the glory before he is "changed into the same image." The truth is, the words "as in a glass" must be omitted if we would apprehend the Lord's mind. Then it is at once seen that we have two things: the glory of the Lord, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6. Compare John 13:31-32); and then that we, by beholding it (for it is unveiled), are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord (or, by the Lord the Spirit). It is doubtless in the Word that this glory is displayed before our gaze; and the effect of our contemplation of it, in the power of the Holy Ghost, is to bring us into a growing moral correspondence with Him on whom we look.
Care must be taken not to put into a scripture more than it actually contains. The words are, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain," etc. That our blessed Lord, after His resurrection, bore the marks of the nails in His hands, and of the spear thrust in His side, we know from John 20; but whether it was these John beheld when in vision he saw the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and therefore was led to describe Him as One that had been slain, is not revealed. The object of the Spirit of God in calling attention to this characteristic is doubtless to identify the exalted with the suffering Lamb, and to teach that He who alone had "prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof," was the same who had suffered at Calvary, and that His present power and exaltation were possessed in virtue of His death. A beautiful type of His glory in the kingdom as the result of His sacrificial death is found in Numbers 4, where for the transport of the brazen altar through the wilderness, it was commanded that a purple cloth (symbol of royalty) should be spread thereon, before the badgers' skins were thrown over the various vessels of ministry. All the displayed glories of Christ indeed follow upon His suffering. (See Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11.) So for the Christian it is, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him," and, "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 8:17.)
The word rendered "conversation" means, literally, "citizenship," or "life as a citizen." "Commonwealth " is preferred by others; but none of these terms perhaps expresses adequately the mind of the Spirit of God. "It is 'associations of life,' as, 'I am born an Englishman.'" The force of this will be understood, if we consider for a moment the truth of the epistle. Its subject is the experience of a heavenly man on earth. Stripped of everything which could have exalted, or might have been gain to, man in the flesh, by the revelation of a glorified Christ to his soul, he henceforward desires nothing but the possession of Christ in the place where He is. He consequently follows after, if that he may get possession of that for which also he has been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Instead, therefore, of minding earthly things (v. 19), his thoughts, objects, interests, and hopes are in heaven — concentred in Christ; and hence, just as an Englishman's associations are connected with his country, those of the Christian (the heavenly man) are connected with heaven. The engrossing object of his heart is there; he awaits the coming thence of the Lord Jesus Christ; and finally, when the Saviour returns, He will transform the Christian's body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory. The goal is then reached, but meanwhile the believer knows that he belongs to heaven, for his heart has found its object and home in that scene of glory of which Christ is the centre.
The Book of Ecclesiastes gives "the experience of a man who — retaining wisdom that he may judge of all - makes trial of everything under the sun that could be supposed capable of rendering men happy, through the enjoyment of everything that human capacity can entertain as a cleans of joy. The effect of this trial was the discovery that all is vanity and vexation of spirit; that every effort to be happy in possessing the earth, in whatever way it may be, ends in nothing. There is a cankerworm at the root. The greater the capacity of enjoyment, the deeper and wider is the experience of disappointment and vexation of spirit. Pleasure does not satisfy, and even the idea of securing happiness in this world by an unusual degree of righteousness cannot be realized. Evil is there, and the government of God, in such a world as this, is not in exercise to secure happiness to man here below — a happiness drawn from the things below, and resting on their stability; though as a general role it protects those who walk with God … If we remember that this book gives us the experience of man, and the reasonings of man, on all that happens under the sun, there is no difficulty in those passages that have the semblance of infidelity. The experience of man is necessarily infidel. He confesses his ignorance; for beyond that which is seen, experience can know nothing. But the solution of all moral problems is above and beyond that which is seen. The Book of Ecclesiastes makes this manifest. The only rule of life then is to fear the God who disposes of our life, who judges every action all the days of the life of our vanity. There is no question, in this book, of grace or of redemption, but only of the experience of this present life, of that which God has said with respect to it; namely, His law, His commandments, and the consequent judgment — that which is decreed to man."
Doubtless it is, at the same time, a record of Solomon's experience, and of his experience at the end of his life, but the object of the book is as above stated. It may be added, that if the Book of Ecclesiastes teaches that earth, and earth's best things, cannot satisfy, the Song of Solomon shows that true satisfaction can only be found in Christ.
Hebrews 1:12, Hebrews 13:8.
It can scarcely be doubted that there is a reference in the latter scripture to the former, and with a special object; but the context of the two, as will be at once observed, is very different. In Hebrews 1, after detailing the glories of the person of Him who, having by Himself made the purification of sins, has "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high," the apostle points out that, in addition to His being the Son, Heir of all things, the brightness of the glory, the express image of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power, God Himself, He is also the Creator. This gives occasion for the contrast which follows. Every created thing will perish, "but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." Here He is the eternal, unchanging One in contrast with the mutable and perishable works of this creation. In Hebrews 13 the comparison is with the leaders among the saints — those especially who had passed away, and whose faith, considering the issue of their conversation, the saints are exhorted to imitate. Of these leaders the saints might be bereft, but Jesus Christ would ever remain. He is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. In this case He is the eternal One in contrast with mortal men. It may be concluded, at the same time, that the Spirit of God, in order to encourage and establish the Hebrew saints, expressly thus identifies Jesus Christ with the Creator; and this is the link between the two scriptures. Observe, also, that the unchanging Christ becomes the foundation, not only of the souls of His people in a scene of constant change and unrest, but also of the exhortation not to be carried about with divers and strange doctrines. The truth partakes of His own eternal and immutable character.
1 Thess. 5:6-10.
Although rendered "watch" in verse 6, and "wake" in verse 10, it is really the same word. The application, or the sense in which it is used, may easily be gathered from the context. The apostle has been speaking of the manner in which the day of the Lord will burst upon the careless world, even as a thief in the night. Turning then to the Thessalonian saints, he says, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief;" and he gives as a reason for this, that they "are all the children of light, and the children of the day." Hence the following exhortation: "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." Manifestly in this passage it is watching morally which is enjoined; that is, as verse 8 distinctly shows, moral conduct becoming the Christian as being of the day, and not of the night. They were to be morally characterized by watching in contrast with sleeping, with sobriety, "putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." "Salvation" is brought in here in its final and complete sense, only therefore to be realized at the coming of the Lord, even as the apostle says, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake [watch] or sleep, we should live together with Him." Understanding "salvation" as explained makes it evident that "watching" and "sleeping" in this verse are employed in the sense of being alive at, or having fallen asleep before, the Lord's return. It is a comfort to be reminded in this connection, that whether we are of "the dead in Christ," or of those that are "alive and remain" at the coming of the Lord, the object of His death for us will be fully accomplished for both classes alike — that we should live together with Him. E. D.
There is an interesting connection between this scripture and Exodus 34:5-6. This will be at once understood when it is pointed out that the word "publish" in Deuteronomy is the same as "proclaim" in Exodus 33, 34. Moses, to whom the Lord spake face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend, had succeeded in his intercession with Jehovah on behalf of Israel; and, moved by His grace, he had cried, "I beseech Thee, show me thy glory." The reply was, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord." In chapter 34 "the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord." In Deuteronomy we find Moses himself proclaiming Jehovah's name. Made the vessel of the divine testimony for that day, he is enabled to publish it, and as purely as he received it. (Compare 2 Cor. 2:17; 2 Cor. 4:5-6.) The instruction surely is, that we cannot truly preach what we have not received from the Lord, and that we can only faithfully proclaim that which we have received by the power of the Holy Ghost. E. D.