Guardian duty —
What is the force of — Hebrews 2:11-18
The Breaking of Bread —
Earth-dwellers — Revelation 3:10
Sins and iniquities — Hebrews 10:17
The dative case — Ephesians 2:1 etc.
Will the saints be caught up … — Matthew 24 etc.
The Apocalyptic Beasts — 2 Thessalonians 2 etc.
Removal of the saints from the earth — Revelation 4-6, 12
Kingdom of heaven — Matthew
λύχνος and φωσφόρος — 2 Peter 1:19
Noah the preacher — 1 Peter 3:18-20
Looking for His appearing? — 1 Timothy 6:14 etc.
The church and judgments on earth — Revelation 5:9-10
Dispensational difference — John 1:37 etc.
The future with the perfect — Matthew 16:19; 18:18
Saibts and believers — 2 Thessalonians 1:10
In flesh - in the Spirit — Romans 8:9-10
The act of dying — 2 Corinthians 4:10
What is meant by — Ephesians 4:13
The day-star — 2 Peter 1:19
Bible Treasury, Volume 6, p. 48. May 1866.
Q. What is the duty of a surviving Christian parent, guardian, or child, if the law of the country decide that the child is to be brought up after a religious sort opposed to the faith of both parent and child?
A. In my judgment, no Christian, whether child or parent, can relinquish that which they are assured in the word of God. A court may rule otherwise, and may punish the infraction of its decrees; but the Christian is bound, at all cost, to cleave to the Lord's will. It is likely that, under such circumstances, the court would deprive a refractory parent or guardian of the charge of the child, giving it over to the co-guardian (if any) who would conform, or appointing a compliant guardian. In such a case, the parent and child must be prepared, if God so permit, to endure the deep distress of severance. But if the child have a conscience clear and firm before God, what has the court gained toward the end in view? The christian child, though separated from its parent, insists on being faithful to the Lord and the truth, and utterly refuses the religious services which it believes to be unscriptural: is the child to be forced against its conscience? Is it to be reduced to the desired submission by brute force? If so compelled to go, is it to be locked or chained down during the religious rites which it eschews as sinful? It seems evident, that, without appealing to courts of law, which in these things will surely be on the side of the world, the path of faith is clear and simple; and that a child guided in the way of Christ will be proved to have a power superior to all the resources of the mightiest empire on earth. They may inflict pain or loss; they may insult and condemn or imprison, as they have hanged or burnt in times gone by; but "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even faith."
Bible Treasury, Volume 6, p. 79. March 1866.
Q. Hebrews 2:11-18. —
(1.) What is the force of "all of one?"
(2.) The connection of the three passages of the Old Testament that follow?
(3.) What is the difference between being "partakers of flesh and blood," and taking "part of the same?"
(4.) What is the exact meaning and aim of "likewise" here?
(5.) What is the place given to death in the next words?
(6.) How does verse 16 connect itself with what precedes and follows?
(7.) "To make reconciliation for the sins of the people" sounds strange as compared with the reconciliation of the believers and the universe elsewhere revealed: is it correct?
(8.) Temptation — what?
A. (1.) "All of one" is purposely abstract (ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες). The phrase is fairly rendered in the Authorized Version. The reference to God the Father is set aside by what follows; for if the point were a common Fatherhood in the higher sense, where would be the propriety of adding, "on which account he is not ashamed to call them brethren" It would then be a necessity of relationship. On the other hand, there is the most careful guard throughout against such an undue enlargement of the sphere as would associate Christ with all the human race in its actual state. It is a question of real humanity in both the Sanctifier and the sanctified, not of the state which He took it or they had it. They were "all one-wise," but not all in a condition absolutely identical. I would add that it is incorrect to say that the present (οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι) means necessarily a process going on, the perfect God's purpose respecting them. The present participle is often used with the article for a person or persons in any given way designated, apart from the question of time. But when the perfect is employed, as ἡγιασμένοι in Hebrews 10:10, it is expressly not future purpose or potentiality, but present application and character founded on a past fact — in this case the actual result of the finished work of Christ to the believer. Dean Alford is in every respect mistaken here.
(2.) The first citiation (from Psalm 22:22) shows that the relationship of brethren is properly declared in resurrection, as we see plainly in John 20:17. The next citations (from Isaiah 8:17-18) connect the godly in Israel with Christ, the great prophet, on His path of reliance on God, apart from all the unbelieving confederacies of men — not as His brethren, for they were not yet so marked out, nor as His children exactly, but as the children whom God gave Him. It is the righteous remnant associated with the Messiah morally separate from the mass. This is kept up in "the children" of the following verse (14).
(3.) To bring about this relationship to Himself incarnation was requisite with a view to redemption. Since then the children partake, or are partakers of (κεκοινώνηκεν) blood and flesh, He Himself also similarly participated in (μετέσχεν) the same. The former verb supposes a common share in what belonged to the children, as indeed to all men. For there is no difference in the human nature of godly and of ungodly. The latter verb means to take or get a share in anything (in this case, humanity).
(4.) "Likewise," "in like manner," "similarly" (as I have rendered it), is the true force of παραπλησίως. It is not correct to say that the rendering in our common Bible is not sufficiently strong. Bengel gives similitier and remarks, not that it is equivalent to but "idem fere atque mox κατα πάντα per omnia v. 17, c. iv. 15." The Docetae may have perverted the word to their own wicked folly; but no scholar who examines the matter can deny that p. does not go as far as ὁμοίως or ἴσως; but as Alford justly remarks, it expresses "a general similitude, a likeness in the main: and so not to be pressed here, to extend to entire identity, nor on the other hand, to imply, of purpose, partial diversity; but to be taken in its wide and open sense — that He Himself also partook, in the main, in like manner with us, of our nature." The Docetae did not believe that Christ really μετέσχεν τών αὐτων, which words do predicate sameness in essence. It is ignorance to found this on παραπλησίως, which simply asserts similarity of manner: while on the other hand, even this could not have been truthfully said, had not the Word been made flesh οὐ δοκητῶς ἀλλ᾽ ἀληθινώς, οὐ φανταστικῶς ἀλλ᾽ ὄντως. (Compare Philippians 2:27.)
(5.) Christ took human nature most really, though not in a state identical with ours (as is more fully explained — strange that it should be needed by the believer! — in Hebrews 4:15); but He took it to die, that through death He might destroy (annul, render void) him that has the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver, etc. To avail for God's glory or even for us, it was into death that grace led the Saviour. There only could Satan's might be brought to nought; thus only could redemption be wrought, a ruined creation be reconciled to God, guilty souls be atoned for effectually and for ever. All this and more was done by the death of Christ, though its power be displayed in resurrection alone. All else fails to vindicate God, annul Satan, or deliver man.
(6.) The English version of verse 16 is false in itself and destroys the connection. For of course (δήτου) it is not angels He takes up (i.e. helps), but He takes up Abraham's seed. It is not a question here of assuming a nature, but of the reason why He did so; and this is His undertaking the cause of the seed of Abraham — not of Adam, as such. The ancient expositors (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose, etc.) and "great divines" (as Luther, Calvin, Beza, etc.) misled the authorized translators and the error in sense led to further error in form; for they could not adhere thus to the present tense of ἐπιλαμβάνεται and hence were forced into the monstrous blunder of rendering it, "He took," etc. Next, the thread of sense is cut, and a mere and feeble reiteration of the truth of verse 14 is imported into verse 16 — a needless denial that angelic nature was assumed. Whereas, the affirmation of His special interest in Abraham's seed links on with the previous statement of His incarnation and His death for redemption purposes, and most fitly leads into the inference that follows.
(7.) To make expiation or propitiation is the true rendering of ἱλάσκεσθαι. The sinner needs to be reconciled, his sins to be expiated. See the opposite error in the Authorized Version of Romans 5:11, where the margin gives the true sense — reconciliation.
(8.) Temptation generally in Scripture (always of course in the case of Christ) means trial — trial from without. James 1:13-14 speaks of that which is within, which He who knew no sin never experienced.
"The Breaking of Bread."
Q. As a recent dissenting work on "Baptism, etc. by Typicus" (Jackson, Walford and Hodder), ventures to impugn the application of the terms "breaking of bread" in Scripture to the Lord's Supper, will you notice his arguments or assertions briefly? ENQUIRER.
A. The writer begins with these word: "Of late we have frequently heard these words used as a designation of the Lord's Supper." Certain Christians are understood to use it thus uniformly, and the error, he fears, is in danger of obtaining currency elsewhere. He boldly proceeds to show that it "nowhere occurs in Scripture to represent our Lord's institution!"
First, where can this man's acquaintance with facts be? Is he not aware that he himself is broaching a novelty of no ordinary magnitude? Does he not know the importance attached to the truth of this application of the scripture phrase by the body of Reformers in opposing transubstantiation? They too appealed, from the earliest antiquity, to the entire roll of the christian writers who touch upon the Lord's Supper, in order to gather a seeming justification for administering the eucharist in one kind and withholding the cup from the laity. "Typicus," therefore, starts with the confident rejection of that which no heat, nor conflicting claims in the mighty struggle of the sixteenth century could blot out from the common rejection of all, whether Papists or Protestants. I do not say his objection has never been mooted before; for what notion has not been? But it is certainly strange to find a person so entirely uninformed as to a plain matter of fact (owned all but universally and from the remotest times) as to insinuate that it is a sort of sound heard but of late frequently. I admit, however, that the decisive question remains — what saith the Scripture? If I have referred to facts, it is merely to show that the Christians he alludes to had really no debate with others in calling the Lord's Supper "the breaking of bread," because it has never been seriously disputed in Christendom. I shall now prove that Scripture exposes his error, as much as notorious facts have been ignored by him.
He cites Lamentations 4:4, Acts 27:35, Luke 24:30, 35. But the utmost he can draw thence, is — that which no sober Christian ever doubted — that the act of breaking bread is not limited to the Lord's Supper. It is a question of context, as with the use of almost every phrase in the Bible or anywhere else. Διάκονος is frequently employed for a domestic who is not a bondsman, frequently for general service from Christ Himself downwards. Does it therefore never mean an official deacon? This is a case exactly parallel: what is its value?
"Typicus" proceeds to notice the texts which do apply: Acts 2:42, 46; Acts 20:7, etc., but with utter misconception of their force. Reasoning or expounding it cannot be called, but the merest assumption. He says that Acts 2:42 refers to "ordinary meals;" but why? Does the doctrine of the apostles do the communion before, and the prayer immediately after, refer to external matters? The only fair question is, whether the phrase did not embrace along with the Lord's Supper, the Agape, or love-feast, which in primitive times — at least before 1 Corinthians — accompanied that Supper. But the spiritual concomitants in the verse, both before and after, prove that an ordinary meal is not meant.
Again, in verse 46, two religious facts are stated in evident connection, their continuing with one accord in the temple, and their breaking bread at home, distinct from their partaking of food (which last does refer to ordinary meals) with gladness and singleness of heart: in all they were found praising God, and having favour with all the people. The twofold τε binds together their resort to the temple and their breaking bread at home (for of course this christian act could not be celebrated there); but a fresh construction parts off both from the taking of their common food, though I doubt not that for them even this had the halo of God's gracious presence around it.
It is therefore plain and certain that, in giving its central place to the breaking of bread, the Christians whom "Typicus" blames are subject to God's word; and that there is departure from that word where His children merely go to sing or pray or hear a sermon, save at rare intervals, which is the line of things to which he invites his brethren. But "Typicus" is also inexcusable in forgetting that there is a deeper cause of separation from all the sects of Christendom — the universal exclusion of the Holy Ghost from acting freely by whom He will in the christian assembly (according to 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 14.)
As for Acts 20:7, neither italics or capitals will relieve "Typicus" from the charge of unbelief, nor add a particle of strength to the weak assertion that "there is not the slightest evidence to prove" that it was the Lord's Supper. The language is decisive that it was then the practice of Christians to come together on the first of the week, and this to break bread (Compare also 1 Corinthians 16:2.) The critical reading (ἡμῶν), which rests on much the best authorities, seem to me stronger than the vulgar one (μαθητῶν), which probably grew out of a desire to make easier sense with αὐτοῖς. Nothing is simpler: all came together to break bread, but with prominence given to Paul and his companions in "we," the family word. Again, the direction of the apostle's discourse was naturally to those at Troas, which drew him out at great length, "we" coming in again in the next verse. Dean Alford, I know, thinks that the Agape followed, but he does not doubt for a moment that the breaking of bread means, or at least includes, the Lord's Supper. To me it seems the gravest objection to the inclusion of the Agape (which was a real meal, though not a mere ordinary one), that the apostle had himself, previously to this date, severed authoritatively the two things, because of the disorder which had entered at Corinth from their connection. Is it not harsh to suppose that he broke the Spirit's rule as to this given in his own inspired epistle? The Agape, no doubt, continued long, but thenceforward separate from the Lord's Supper. In verse 7 of this chapter it is intimated that "to break bread" was what drew together on the resurrection day; from verse 11, it would appear that Paul broke after his discourse as well as the matter of Eutychus, broke (not bread, but) "the (τόν) bread." There is no ground to talk of a second time. How this indicates that the sanctioned practice for all on the first day of the week was "a meal — NOTHING MORE," I cannot divine, save as knowing that man's will may account for anything.
As even "Typicus" admits the application of 1 Corinthians 10, 1 Corinthians 11 to the Lord's Supper, I have no controversy with him here. This only need be remarked, that in the first of these scriptures, the expression — Lord's Supper — does not occur, but only in the last. With this fact before his eyes it is absurd, then, to argue so confidently that Acts 20:7 cannot mean that Supper because the explicit designation does not occur there. I should have thought the inverse conclusion more reasonable, that 1 Corinthians 16 being confessedly the Lord's Supper without being thus styled, Acts 20:7 may be so too, and similarly Acts 2:42, 46.
What can we think of the heart or intelligence of one who, in the face of these passages fails "to find any trace in the Scriptures of the celebration of the Lord's Supper by the apostles more frequently than once a year?" This almost incredible inference is due to the author's head being muddled with the type of the Passover and with types in general, of which he manifestedly does not understand the alphabet. The paschal supper falling yearly is a reason to his mind for a yearly Lord's Supper which supplanted it unless the Christians were otherwise instructed, which he thinks they were not! He suggests, however, that "a more frequent observance is doubtless conducive to the interests of the Church." No wonder that one who begins with slighting Scripture, should think, next, that man — himself — is able to improve on it, and furnish something more for the interests of the Church. The readers of the BIBLE TREASURY will not desire to hear more of such men unless God peradventure be pleased to give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. But it seemed well to dispose briefly of these assertions; for, if confidently made, they are apt to impose on the ignorant when the mass of christian professors know the Scriptures or the power of God so feebly as in our day. Speculation blinds the Dissenters, as much as tradition closes the eyes of the Tractarians or their allies.
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"
"As often as ye eat this bread and drink this wine, ye do show the Lord's death till he come."
Bible Treasury, Volume 6, p. 96. June 1866.
Q. (1.) Revelation 3:10. — The promise here seems made to a particular class described as those who have kept the word of Christ's patience, and who appear to be contrasted with those who "dwell upon the earth," which, I presume, expresses a moral condition. If this be so, on what ground can the whole Church take this promise to themselves? Some of them, it is sadly to be feared, have practically forgotten that they are "strangers and pilgrims," and are too much at home in the world to have been much exercised in keeping the word of Christ's patience. And yet one cannot but hope some of these have truly bowed to the name of Jesus, and it may be, did at first "run well." The promises to the few who had an ear in Laodicea are yet of a different character from those made to some of the other churches. The white stone and the hidden manna, for instance, express an intimacy of communion with the Lord which one does not get in Laodicea, so that it is a difficulty to me how the whole company of believers at this moment may take all these precious promises to themselves, irrespective of moral condition. It is not forgotten that all the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. Still the speciality of these addresses to the churches must be intended to teach something. Those who are "saved, yet so as by fire" (though immeasurable grace to be saved at all) do not seem to be in the same position as those to whom "abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of the Lord" is vouchsafed. Further, is it quite clear that the "keeping from the hour of temptation" means removal from this present scene? In John 17, when the Lord prays that His disciples should be "kept from" the evil of the world, it is plain He does not mean that they should be taken out of it.
Q. (2.) Hebrews 10:17. — "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." How is this to be understood in connection with 2 Corinthians 5:10? Will the sins of a believer's unconverted days be again brought before him at the judgment seat of Christ? Yours respectfully, INQUIRER.
A. (1.) A human attempt at precision sometimes leads us astray. The blessing meets the particular want of the Church and characterizes the ways of God towards it as the encouragement needed for its faith; but this does not mean that that Church exclusively has the blessing. Thus in Laodicea he that overcomes will sit on Christ's throne — the lowest degree of promise, I apprehend; but this does not mean that only they will; for all will. Escaping the hour of temptation is not true only of Philadelphia; all who have died in the Lord before it comes will have escaped it. But this characterizes the blessing of Philadelphia, because they come so near towards it that a promise to escape it is of the greatest value to them, — a cheering and welcome message and truth in their weakness and consciousness of the power of evil and little strength. Others than those of Ephesus will eat of the fruit of the tree of life, others than those of Smyrna will not be hurt of the second death; but those were the suited encouragements to lead to overcome in the states and difficulties there described. We must seek elsewhere a positive revelation on the subject, and not draw conclusions, nor, I would add, the least weaken the warning; for the warning applies to the state in which Philadelphia is. A like conclusion has been drawn from "all those that love his appearing," and "to them that look for him will he appear;" but all the wise virgins were awakened to look for Him, and even others too. We must distrust conclusions from Scripture, however man's mind enters into them. Those in Laodicea who open to the Lord reign with Him; and He enters in and sups with them and they with Him — have their part with Him in fellowship and joy under His reign. I do not say there may not be speciality in results which take the shape of reward; but the promises apply to the state of the church in which they are found, and woe to him who neglects them so applied, not to the exclusion thereby of others. Thus in Thyatira the whole millennial blessing of Christ Himself and the reign are promised, because it is the close of the ecclesiastical system, and the whole succeeding blessing is substituted for it: Christ, the heavenly Christ Himself, and the kingdom of power and judgment, for those who had been oppressed by the idolatrous rule of Jezebel. The quotation from John 17 proves exactly the contrary of that for which it is cited. That to which ἐκ applies, they are to be kept wholly out of: they are not to be taken ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, but they are to be wholly and absolutely ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ; so here wholly and absolutely not 'through' and 'in,' but ἐκ τῆς ὥρασ.
(2.) It is not as if God forgot the things, but He does not remember them — hold them in His mind — against them in any way. If I say I forget as well as forgive, it only speaks of the completeness, not, if the thing is called up, that my memory has ceased to know it as a fact. If I give an account of myself to God, I must do it completely or I should lose something of the goodness of Him who has called and saved me. Paul lost nothing in saying, "Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue," etc.
Bible Treasury, Volume 6, p. 144. September 1866.
Q. Ephesians 2:1; Romans 6:2, 10, 11; Galatians 2:19.
Is there sufficient ground for the assertion that, in these passages, the dative case is mistranslated, that being often and (as every Greek scholar knows), for the instrument or means whereby a thing is done or comes to pass? Should it not be (Ephesians 2:1) "by trespasses and sins" (or in consequence of "having no life" in us)? There seems some incongruity in speaking of walking in the sins wherein they were dead. Moreover it is worthy of note, that the same apostle speaking of spiritual corruption (Colossians 3:5, 7) says, "in the which ye also walked sometime when ye lived in them;" and it is difficult to suppose, that he used life in sin, and death in sin, to express precisely the same thing. Turning to Romans 6:2, should it not be, "dead by sin?" If sin is such a dreadful thing as to have exposed us to all the punishment of death — from which Christ's death alone frees us — how can we think of continuing in it any longer? In Romans 5:12, we have "death by sin;" and in verse 17, "By one man's offence." Why then in Romans 6:2 is "to" to be employed in rendering the same dative case? The apostle has shown what we have incurred by sin, and then immediately he is made to say, "How shall we who are dead to sin?" which has no force in connection with his previous reasoning. In regard to Romans 6:10-11, how can Christ be said to be dead unto sin? but if it should be "dead by sin" — by reason of man's sin, the sense is plain, "in that he liveth, he liveth by God," "by the power of God." (2 Corinthians 13:4.)
The received version of Galatians 2:19 is "to the law;" but it is argued, it should be by the law; the law denounces death.
The value of these queries may not at first be very obvious; but these passages have an importance in a controversy not needful to mention here; and we cannot be too anxious to endeavour to ascertain the correct text of the word of God.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Wherein does the apostle's assertion, "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures," or rather part of it (for he goes on to insist on the deep importance of Christ's resurrection) differ substantially from 1 Peter 2:24? though all must admit that the latter passage is specifically addressed to believers — to those who have returned "to the Shepherd of their souls."
Taking 1 Corinthians 15 in all simplicity, it appears to me to warrant my telling any man, that "Christ died for his sins and not merely that he is the Lamb of God "that taketh away sin." "Our" cannot possibly mean in this connection the sins of Paul and other believers; for what possible "gospel" or good news, could that be to unconverted sinners? And such the Corinthians were when Paul first preached it unto them. T.D.
A. As regards Romans 6, the wished-for translation is the result of a misconception of the whole passage. It makes it a motive drawn from a previous evil result and no more; whereas it is perfectly certain that the passage contemplates our dying in becoming Christians, not by our sins. Those who have been baptized unto Christ have been baptized unto His death. We have been made one plant with Him in the likeness of His death; and this is in order that we might walk in newness of life. Hence it is perfectly certain that the doctrine of the chapter is dying out of our old man, and living in newness of life — not our dying by our sins so as to be afraid of living in it now. And such is the whole tenor of the chapter; "our old man has been crucified with him;" and the use too of the dative at the close. How the writer can take νόμῳ in Galatians 2:19, as "by the law," is hard to conceive; because it is preceded by διὰ νόμου, meaning "by the law," which makes it simply impossible.
2 Corinthians 13:4, is ἐκ δυνάμεως. I suppose he only quotes this for the sense. Living in sin, and being dead in it, is not the same thing. One is the continuity of the old man in sin, the other is his state in respect of God; but both are true. Alienated from the life of God. A reference to Colossians shows, in the analogous passage, νεκροῦς … ἐν τοῖς παραπτώμασι καὶ τῃ ἀκροβυστία. Now ἐν can be used as an instrument or power too. But I think no intelligent Christian could doubt what it means here; and I do not see how it is possible with ἀκροβυστία to take it in any other sense than 'in.' Besides, νεκροῦς would not be the word. It signifies properly 'a corpse.' It is not dying as a punishment for them, but a state in which they were. Then God creates again. They are viewed not as they were. It is not ἀπεθάνετε, but being νεκροῦς He has quickened. The first work in the corpse is quickening with Christ, God's act. In Romans and Colossians, being alive in sin, ye have died (ἀπεθάνετε) in Christ. In Ephesians, being νεκροί, we have been quickened with Him. It is a new creation. It does not seem to me there can be the smallest doubt of what is the right translation.
As to 1 Corinthians 15, again, I know of no objection, if used in a general way of saying, Christ died for any man's sins. In the passage, however, Paul is addressing believers as such, but still speaks vaguely, so that "he that hath ears to hear" may apply it. "He is a propitiation for the whole world." But this is never said of bearing sins. That is carefully avoided in Scripture. It will not be found other than dying for our sins. But "bearing" in all parts of Scripture is thus specifically confined. So we read, 'We bessech in Christ's stead, Be reconciled … for he hath made him to be sin for us.' Scripture is accurate here — a propitiation set out before all, and sure remission of all, if we come; but bearing sins never extended to those who are lost, or His doing it might be in vain for believers. "Our" to saints or sinners is the scriptural way of putting it.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 159. October, 1866.
Q. Will the saints be caught up before the Lord comes in glory and the tribes of the earth mourn because of Him?
(1.) Matthew 24. Here there is no hint of the Church's escaping the great tribulation, except by sudden flight; nor of any other παρουσια except that which we are to expect after that tribulation. (See ver. 23, 27, 29.) Nor of any gathering His elect unto Him except in verse 31, after the great tribulation. In verses 32, 33 we are directed to "know that it is near, even at the doors, when we shall see all these things," i.e., those which are described in verse 7-29.
(2.) 1 Thessalonians 4. The living will not be changed before the dead in Christ are raised (ver. 15); then (1 Corinthians 15:51) we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (literally, for the trumpet shall sound) all, not some only, of those who believe. And the trumpet mentioned in Matthew 24:31, when all the elect are to be gathered together, cannot be subsequent, or the other would not be the last trump.
(3.) The caution of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 seems to imply that the Church must witness the full revelation and ενεργεια of the wicked one, and then expect the immediate coming of our Lord.
It is true, we are to be continually looking for the coming of our Lord; but is this inconsistent with the expectation of a previous tribulation? Q.Q.
A. The Old Testament saints and the Church, which is being now formed by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, will be caught up to meet the Lord before His coming as Son of man in power and great glory, when all the tribes of the earth (or the land) lament. This necessarily follows from the doctrine laid down in Colossians 3:4 compared with 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:2, 2 Thessalonians 2, and other scriptures, and from the prophetic intimation of Revelation 4, Revelation 5 compared with Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:14. For if Christ and the glorified saints appear together at the self-same time in glory, it is evident that the saints must have been caught up, changed into His likeness, before that common manifestation of Him and them. Besides, the Revelation indicates their presence above, after their translation there, and before their appearing along with him, under the symbol of the crowned and enthroned elders, who are seen in heaven when the seven churches disappear (Revelation 2, Revelation 3), and before the pre-millennial judgment of Revelation 19, and the millennium of Revelation 20. This interval is occupied here below by God's preparation of Jews and Gentiles (separate from the glorified) who will be to His praise on earth, as the Old Testament saints and the Church will be in heaven when the administration of the fulness of times is put under Christ, the head of all things heavenly and earthly.
(1.) This helps to render Matthew 24:15-41 perfectly plain. Certainly there is no hint of the Church's escaping the tribulation by sudden flight here; for those spoken of are a remnant of converted Jews who will be found in Jerusalem, in connection with the temple and the sabbath in the latter day. What possible ground is there to predicate this of the Church of God, which is neither Jew nor Gentile, and which, save at its first origin, is found everywhere under heaven? What reason to take it away from the last days of this age, when God will again be savingly at work among the Jews in their land, protecting a remnant from the last fiery tribulation which the Antichrist will occasion, and fitting them as a people for the Lord, when He comes for their deliverance in the clouds of heaven, and the mass being apostate will be filled with terror and mourning and shame at His sudden glory which flashes on the world? That the elect of verse 31 cannot possibly mean the Church is evident, if it were only from the passage itself; for the sight of the Son of man appals all the tribes before He sends His angels to gather these elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now if you apply this to the same scene and persons as Colossians 3:4, you set one scripture against another — the unerring proof of error. Distinguish between the saints already caught up, to be glorified with Him on high, and these elect gathered from all places of their dispersion here below, to be blessed under His reign here below, and the balance of truth is preserved. No doubt the gathering of the elect here, then, is after the great tribulation, but it is also after His appearing. It is therefore not the Church which appears with Him when He appears in glory, and which is promised (in Revelation 3:10) exemption not only from the place and circumstances of the great coming temptation, but also from its hour. The signs are, as usual, for the Jewish saints, who were wont to ask such things as evidence of the approaching accomplishment of their hopes.
(2.) 1 Thessalonians 4. No one contends that the living will be changed before the dead in Christ are raised. It is clear that, the latter being raised, and we who are then alive being changed as they, all together will be caught up to the Lord. The "last trump" of 1 Corinthians 15 is an allusion to the final signal of the break up of a Roman camp for its march. It has nothing whatever to do with the loud sound of trumpet in Matthew 24 (with which compare Isaiah 27:13), any more than with the seven trumpets of Revelation 8-11
Undoubtedly when the Lord at His coming or presence (παρουσία) gathers the changed saints to Himself in the air, it is all, not some only, of those who up to that time have believed (compare πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύσασιν in 2 Thessalonians 1:10.) But how does this present a difficulty to such as see from Scripture that others subsequently are to be converted, kept through the tribulation and blessed in the millennial kingdom of the Lord? It is the querist's system which is at fault, not leaving sufficient room for all the elements, and of course therefore both leading to confusion in the various parts, and presenting a defective result. 1 Corinthians 15 presents (and so I may add 1 Thessalonians 4) our last trump, because the question is of the risen saints; Matthew 24:31, presents, if you will, the last trump of the Jewish saints then scattered over the earth. How does this identify the two, even if the trumpet in Matthew 24 had been styled the last trump, or "his elect," were called "all the elect," neither of which is the fact? Is it a contradiction if the historian speaks of the last trump sounding for the tenth legion in Gaul, and of the trumpet gathering the twelfth legion in Syria?
(3.) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 cautions us against the error of those who confounded the coming of the Lord to gather His saints on high with His day upon the lawless one. The misleaders of the Thessalonian believers sought to alarm them by the false cry that the day of the Lord was already present (ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου). This the apostle dispels first, by a motive of consolation for the heart, as well as, secondly, by an express prophecy. First, he beseeches them, by the coming of the Lord and their gathering together to Him, not to be shaken or troubled by this pretence (for which they feigned a revelation and even a letter of the apostle). The first act of the Lord, bound up with His very presence, is the translation of His own beloved ones to Himself. But, secondly, that day (mark, he does not say the Lord's παρουσία, but His day) should not come till the full development of the evil which His day is to judge. The mystery of lawlessness is now restrained: when he who hinders its outburst is withdrawn, then shall be revealed the lawless one whom the Lord Jesus will destroy by the breath of His mouth and annul by the appearance of His coming. Observe the striking difference between the terms in verses 1, 8. When it is a question of gathering the saints, the phrase is simply His coming or presence; when it is a question of His day or dealing in judgment with the lawless one, it is the shining forth of His coming — not παρουσία only, but ἐπιφάνεια τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ. The real caution of the chapter would have preserved the querist from an error kindred in principle, though not in form, to that which wrought among the Thessalonians.
We are then to be continually expecting the Lord, apart from either external signs or the final great tribulation, which Scripture connects with others, not with us, after we have been translated to heaven.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 175. November, 1866.
Q. The Apocalyptic Beasts. In answer to "Scripture Query" of last month, it is stated that "the Man of Sin" of 2 Thessalonians 2, the Antichrist of the Epistles of John, "the Beast of the Earth and False Prophet" of the Apocalypse, and "the King" of Daniel 2, are identical personages.
In Kelly's Notes on Daniel, page 197, we find "the King" or AntiChrist spoken of as a Jew (and it would appear that the Antichrist must of necessity be a Jew to be received of the Messiah — Daniel 11:37 suggests this), and pages 205, 206 of the same work bring out "the King" or Antichrist, and "the Beast," the imperial power of the Romans Empire, as distinct personages.
Is there not a contradiction between these two statements? If the Antichrist, "the King" of Daniel 11 be a Jew and he be identical with "the Beast" of Revelation, can it any longer be said to be Gentile supremacy? Is it not necessarily Jewish?
A. The inquirer confounds the Beast from the sea with the Beast from the earth or land in Revelation 13. There is no contradiction nor even difficulty when this is seen. For the Antichrist may be the second Beast from the earth and a Jew (as he will pretend to be the Messiah and Jehovah of Israel), while the first Beast from the sea is the great Gentile chief, at least in the West.
Q. Revelation 4, Revelation 6, Revelation 12. The Achill Herald finds insuperable difficulties in reconciling these chapters of the Apocalypse with the supposed removal of the saints from the earth before they apply. The rainbow, the editor thinks, denotes emphatically grace, not judgment; and how could there be martyr-members, after the Church is translated? and how, again, could the woman (the Church?) be seen travailing and then fleeing into the wilderness, if actually glorified before this? ENQUIRER.
A. There is no difficulty whatever, when we bow to Scripture which shows that the Church of God means, not the aggregate of all the redeemed, but those believing Jews and Gentiles, who, on and since Pentecost, have been baptized by the Holy Ghost into one body. This corporate union did not exist in Old Testament times and will not be the state of things on earth during the millennium. What is to hinder the Lord translating the Old Testament believers as well as those who compose that one body to heaven, and then calling other souls to know Himself on earth, some of whom suffer for the truth's sake, as in Revelation 6, and others answer to the persecuted woman in the wilderness and her seed, as in Revelation 12? It is not ingenuity which is wanted to reconcile apparent discrepancies, but simple faith to receive the plain statements of the written word. Nobody denies there will be saints on earth, after we are translated to heaven, some of whom are to be slain and raised to join those already risen (as we see in Revelation 20:4), as others will be preserved to be the first nucleus of the righteous on earth during the millennial reign. The rainbow round the throne is the pledge of the creature's blessing on earth, and is needed just because of the lightnings and thunderings and voices which precede out of the throne, the counterpoise to those judgments which subsequently come under the seals, trumpets, and vials. But the grace and mercy, which we now find in coming boldly to the throne, are to put or keep us in communion with Christ above. The rainbow is not the symbol of this, but of God's faithfulness to men on earth, whatever the changes and judgments which pass over it. Again, the woman here sets forth the Jews, of whom as to the flesh Christ was born. Her vicissitudes begin after the Church goes to heaven.
It is untrue that this view shuts out the Revelation from the commendation the Spirit gives to the Old Testament. God's dealings with others are of the deepest interest and blessing to my soul, if I believe them. It is a false principle that Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, Israel, must mean the Church, in order for us to reap the blessing of those scriptures that speak of the Jews. All Scripture is for the Christian, whether it be about him or others, because it reveals God, and His ways, His grace and His judgments to the soul. As the gospels are the transition out of Jewish expectations into Christianity properly so called, the Revelation is the link of transition out of the christian state of things to the renewed dealings of God with His ancient people and the Gentiles when the new age dawns. Hence in the Apocalypse we do not hear of "churches" after the prefatory chapters 1, 2, 3, save in the message at the end of the book. The central and properly prophetic part shows us the Church glorified above, and Jews and Gentiles below once more the object of God's ways in mercy or judgment.
But really these brethren are so ignorant of the first principles of the prophetic word that it is useless to expect intelligence from them. When they can apply Psalm 2, Deuteronomy 28, or Zechariah 11, to show Great Britain's election to the covenant place vacated by Israel, one can hardly think any "offspring of Jewish craft" more mischievous than such a piece of "genuine Protestant" dullness. No doubt, Jesus is the Christ and Son of God, whom Jews and Gentiles, Herod and Pontius Pilate, joined against and crucified; but has God yet set His king on His holy hill of Zion? Has Christ yet received of Jehovah as an actual thing the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession? In John 17, anticipating His place now, not on Zion, but on God's right hand, He says, "I pray (or ask) not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." This is Christianity, in contrast with the Jewish hope which remains to be accomplished by and by. In the Psalm accordingly He does ask for the world, and Jehovah gives it, whereon he breaks the nations with a rod of iron and dashes them in pieces like a potter's vessel. This, we presume, is not the gospel of grace, but the solemn warning of judgment which the Lord will execute on the living at His coming. To the poor the gospel is preached; but here it is an admonition to the kings and judges of the earth to submit to the Son lest His anger burn in their destruction. What entirely confirms this interpretation as the true one against those who would foist our country into the place of Israel and thus give it a present bearing nationally, is Revelation 2:26-27, which proves that it is only when Christ comes that He will give the faithful, then glorified, power over the nations in association with Himself. If Protestantism were not so blind, these men would see that the perversion of the Psalms is only of importance to Popery and the Jesuits, who do seek by craft to gain power over the nations now. The believer, not of the world as Christ is not, waits to share this and all other glory when Christ appears; but this, let us grant it, is neither Popery nor Protestantism, but the christian hope.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 192. December, 1866.
Q. Will you define "kingdom of heaven" in itself, and in contradistinction from the kingdom of God? J.D.
A. "Kingdom of heaven," occurring only in Matthew, means the rule of the heavens, consequent on the rejection of the Messiah, who is thereon ascended to heaven and thus introduces that rule, first, in mystery to faith (as now since the ascension); secondly, in manifestation (as by and by when He comes in power and glory). It differs from the larger expression in this, that, while "kingdom of God might anywhere with truth be used substantially for "kingdom of heaven" (and so uniformly answers to it in the corresponding passages of Mark and Luke), in some places "kingdom of heaven" could not replace kingdom of God." Hence even the latter phrase occurs in Matthew, where of course the former would not have duly expressed the idea of the Holy Ghost; and the same remark applies to Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 4, and other passages in the Epistles where "kingdom of heaven" would have been quite improper. "The kingdom of God" could be said to be there when Christ demonstrated the power of God on earth; "The kingdom of heaven" could not be till he went to heaven. Hence "the kingdom of heaven" is never in the Gospels said to be nearer than at hand; whereas to a certain extent "the kingdom of God" might be and is said to have then come and to have been among them. The power of God displayed in miracles such as Christ wrought proved His kingdom there (and so power not in word but in deed, the moral power of the Spirit in the Epistles); but the kingdom of heaven is a dispensational state of things, either true and known to faith, or actually manifested as it will be to every eye.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 207. January, 1867.
Q. 2 Peter 1:19. — What is the bearing of this difficult scripture? The distinction drawn in the recent "Lectures on Christ's Second Coming" (Broom), between the dimness of the λύχνος and the brightness of the φωσφόρος is undeniable; also the one being clearly objective or external to us, the other internal or subjective — "in your hearts." But I cannot see how ἕως οὗ can mean aught else than something future to the writer (at least readers) and the absence of which the προφητικὸς λόγος was to supply. And as the anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:20-27) could hardly be regarded as future to either, I doubt of the interpretation. D.D.
A. The following remarks may furnish help for determining the true scope. First, the apostle is writing to the same Christians who had received the first epistle, that is, Jews of the dispersion in Asia Minor. These of course were familiar with Old Testament prophecy, which the apostle shows was confirmed by the transfiguration, as it also gave a living tableau of the kingdom to the chosen witnesses. Next, he intimates that while the prophetic word was rightly heeded, it was comparatively no more than a λύχνος, excellent in a dark place, but of course eclipsed in the superior brightness of day-light when it dawned, and the morning star, Christ Himself — not as the Saviour only but the hope — arose in the heart. I think this is left purposely vague; and for the sufficient and wise reason that some of these saints, though truly converted, were so deficient in the discrimination and enjoyment of what is thus distinctively Christian, as compared with what of course always abode true of the Jewish testimony, that he could not assume this to be the fact with them, at least, not with them all. In my opinion the same lack exists now in real saints of God, and mainly from the same cause, the Fathers so-called being the mainspring, as far as the Gentile is concerned, in confounding Jewish things with Christian, and thus obliterating the distinctive lineaments of each to the great detriment of both.
Thus the παιδία of the family (the babes among the τεκνία) have unquestionably the unction from the Holy One and know all things; but through exclusive heed to the προφ. λογ., and thus inattention to the proper New Testament teachings as to the coming of the Lord, there might not yet have been the dawn of that better light, ἡμέρα, or the arising of Him who brings it in His own person, in their hearts. That is, though the principle was true, and the capacity or power there in virtue of the indwelling Holy Ghost, there might not yet be that developed practical hold of it which the apostle so greatly desired for them, while carefully owning the value of what they did attend to. This at least is my conviction of the passage. The great thing to seize is the contrast of a good light with a better, and even this last to be enjoyed here (not when the προφ. λογ., is accomplished). It is not the day, nor the day-star as a literal matter of fact, but that character of thing in the heart (and hence necessarily and properly without the Greek article) not the Lord's future appearing, but the apprehension of better light about the future now, — christian fulness of light as to this supervening on their previous Jewish measure.
Q. 1 Peter 3:18-20. What is the true force of 1 Peter 3:18-20, which some apply to Christ's descent after death and personal preaching to the souls in hades? J.T.
A. The first expression important to seize is that Christ is said to have been quickened in the Spirit in which He also went and preached. That is, the words, strictly, do not attribute a bodily going to preach, but that He went and preached in the Spirit. Now this was true, if it was the Spirit of Christ testifying in and by Noah the preacher of righteousness, as he is called in 2 Peter 2. It is also confirmed by what is said in this First Epistle of the Spirit of Christ working in the Old Testament prophets; and very distinctly by the well-known passage in Genesis 6:3. Next, it is not said that he went to their prison and preached there to the spirits; but that in the Spirit he went and preached to the imprisoned spirits (or to the spirits which are in prison). Not a word intimates that the preaching was in prison or that they were in prison when preached to. Again, the absence of the article before ἀπειθήσασιν denotes that it is not a mere descriptive circumstance assumed to be known; but the cause is predicated why the spirits were imprisoned, namely, their having been disobedient when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, when, as I believe, the testimony of God was rendered to them but rebelliously refused. Therefore not only the flood took them away from the earth, but their spirits in prison are reserved for judgment. Few were saved then. The godly must not wonder if they are few now; nor would temporal judgments cover the doom of those who reject the gospel, for they too, like the antediluvians, will not escape the dealing of God who will judge the wicked and unbelieving. The men of the world, and even the Jews most of all, turned a deaf ear to the voice of Christ's Spirit preaching by Peter and the rest. They only looked for a visible Messiah, present and reigning over the earth and especially over Israel in the land. Hence the testimony of a rejected crucified Messiah, exalted in heaven (with a people indiscriminately called out from Jews and Gentiles, and exposed to oppression, shame, suffering, and death here below), was odious to them. Nothing could be more appropriate than the allusion to Noah's teaching of old and the safety of a few in the ark (who heeded the word, spite of appearances), while the mass who were incredulous remain in prison for the eternal judgment of God. There is the utmost force in adducing that remarkable witness of the value of faith in a divine testimony, and of the solemnity of rejecting it; whereas the supposed reference to a personal preaching to these particular souls in hades is not only without the smallest countenance from elsewhere, to say the least, but seems strangely lame and incongruous for the case in hand. Proclaiming to Old Testament saints there I can understand (though I see not the smallest warrant for the notion); but here it is expressly not the obedient and saints, but a limited class once disobedient to God's word, when His Spirit strove with them in Noah's day before the flood. Bad as the notion of purgatory and its temporary suffering may be, the idea of preaching to disobedient souls in hades in order to let them out, appears to me no better, and directly defeats the serious warning of judgment for unbelief which Peter had in view. For it allows of a hope for some unbelieving ones after death. Bishop Horsley and Dean Alford are quite wrong as to this.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 239. March, 1867.
Q. If the Church is with the Lord, caught up to Him at His coming, how can any Christian love or look for His subsequent appearing? 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13. So, 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 5:23 seem to teach, not a secret previous coming for Christians, but the same as 1 John 2:28; Revelation 1:7; Mark 8:38. So that revelation, appearing and coming seem to me synonymous and synchronical. A resurrection from out of the dead and a change of the living saints visibly going up to meet the Lord seems to me a more sober idea, if I may so speak, and to do less violence to ordinary scripture statement, than a secret rapture, which seems to be both unnecessary and based on a very few and not very distinct scriptures. They are all (as I think) the same event, though many acts are folded up therein.
A. The presence (παρουσία) of Christ is His coming, or rather state of being present, in contrast with His absence, and is in itself equally compatible with being visible or not at His pleasure (as we see after His resurrection). The solution of the question depends on other scriptures and cannot be decided by the bare word coming or presence. One of these scriptures is the comparison of 2 Thessalonians 2:1 with verse 8. On the face of it, verse 1 binds together his coming or παρουσία with the gathering together of the saints to Himself. This is the motive for comfort against the terror of the day of the Lord, which the false teachers were seeking to bring on the souls of the Thessalonians. The false rumour that His day was actually arrived, or present (ἐνέστηκεν), was effectually dispelled by the sweet hope of being thus re-united to Himself, with the added information that that day of awful associations for the world should not be there before the full development and open display of that lawlessness, which was already at work in secret ways. For the day of the Lord is ever the predicted period of judgment on man's evil, which it is to put down and clear away, in order that the good of God's kingdom may be no longer hidden or hindered but shine out to His everlasting praise. Hence it is said that the lawless one (for so it will end) shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the breath of His mouth and shall destroy, or annul, by the appearing of His coming or presence. Thus visibility is expressly connected, not with the Lord's presence to assemble His saints to Himself, but with His judicial action on the Antichrist.
Plainly, the coming or presence of the Lord is the great general truth. It embraces indeed His appearing as one of its acts or characters, but it includes much more. Hence, when precision is sought (as here to counteract a false impression, which the enemy sought to endorse with the apostle's name), we have the παρουσία distinguished from the epiphany, or shining forth of that παρουσία. Now it is evident that, if the coming of Christ necessarily implies visibility to all the world, there is no force in the distinction; if, on the contrary, He might come to gather His saints without appearing to any beyond themselves, and then subsequently cause His coming or presence to be manifest in the destruction of the lawless one, nothing can be more appropriate or exact than the phraseology here employed.
There is no difficulty, accordingly, in apprehending how Timothy or others could be exhorted in view of Christ's appearing, spite of the gathering of the saints on high previously. The act of translating the saints above is no open vindication before the world either of Christ or of themselves; the appearing, revelation, or day of the Lord is this precisely. Not till then will be seen the consequences of faithfulness or the lack of it in His service; not till then will the madness of the world's hostility against Jehovah and His anointed be proved. Hence, when it is a question of exhorting to earnest, devoted, holy labour and endurance, scripture habitually speaks not of the coming simply but of the appearing of Christ. Then will be the reward of toil and suffering; then must the haughty world be humbled, apostate Judaism and Christendom be judged, and righteousness be established over the earth, the glorified saints reigning with Christ over it, and the Jews restored to their promised supremacy and blessedness here below. This makes evident the reason why the hearts of the saints, in present sorrow and shame, feeling their own weakness and the temporary triumph of the enemy in the world, are always urged to look on to the appearing of Christ. Their own removal by His coming does not, could not, satisfy the desires of those who are bent on the making good of His glory universally, and the final total overthrow of Satan, and the blessing of all creation.
This, then, in my judgment, entirely and simply meets the scriptural statements which speak both of the Lord's coming and of His appearing, etc. Timothy is enjoined to keep the commandment, laid on him by the apostle, spotless, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord, which in its own time the blessed and only Potentate shall show. (1 Timothy 6.) It is a question of responsibility in service; and this attaches, not to the rapture of the saints at all, but to the manifestation of Christ. When the Lord appeared the first time, God's grace was made manifest, and life and incorruption were brought to light by our Saviour. When He appears again, glory will be revealed; fidelity during His absence will no longer be a matter of denial, detraction, or debate, and evil will hide its head. A faithful royalist could not be satisfied till not merely the arrival of the exiled king, but his coronation and the public exercise of his prerogative. Still more evidently does this principle apply to 2 Timothy 4:8: "Henceforth the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me in that day; and not only to me, but also to all that love (τοῖς ἠγαπηκόσιν, characterized by their love for) His appearing." That this demonstrates the justice of what has already been remarked, I need scarcely say. The coming of Christ to receive us to Himself and be with Him in the Father's house would not at all suit the requirements of the passage; because that is the pure fruit of His own grace, removing us into the scene of His Father's love and glory, but in no way vindicating His servants, by a just requital of all faithful testimony, in the day when even a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth. Rapture to heaven previously would not meet with this exigency, though, of course, perfectly consistent with it. We must believe all that is revealed, not a part only; and a main point of real progress is that we learn to distinguish things which differ.
Titus 2:13 quite falls in with the two texts we have examined, the only question being whether "that blessed hope" does not look rather to the point of personal joy when we are caught up to be with the Saviour, and "the appearing of the glory" to the latter and public display. If so, this scripture would connect the two things, as one combined object in the mind of the Spirit, leaving it to be decided by other testimonies whether the two things happen at the same time or with some interval.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23, it is simply a question of Christ's presence or coming, entirely independent of manifestation. The first scripture is the expression of the apostle's affection for the objects of his devoted labours. Circumstances might and do separate them now for a little in person, not in heart; but they should be together before our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming, "our glory and joy." This would not cease but, on the contrary, appear when Christ is manifested, but the fact is before the apostle; and this is true at the coming of Christ and even before His manifestation of which nothing is said here. So in chapter 5:23, he prays that their whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, if verified then, this would be also true at His appearing; but the other sufficed and indeed was more comprehensive. On the contrary, where it was a question of the world being judged (as in the beginning of the same chapter), "the day of the Lord," and not simply His coming or presence, is spoken of; for that necessarily supposes judicial action and display. So even in 1 Thessalonians 3, where we have the coming of our Lord with all His saints, not them caught up to Him, as in 1 Thessalonians 4, in order to God's bringing those who sleep with Him.
But 1 John 2:28, Revelation 1:7, and Mark 8:38 are wholly distinct from the simple presence of the Lord and His saints. In the first of these texts, manifestation is express. It is a question of the workman not being ashamed before Him at His coming, through the souls they laboured for abiding in Him now. The coming of the Lord alone would not decide this, and therefore manifestation is added. Again, Revelation 1:7 has nothing to do with the translation of the saints to heaven but is the solemn threat of impendng judgment for the world, especially for Israel (i.e., those who pierced Him). "Every eye shall see him," defines the character and time most fully. So Mark 8:38 describes the Lord coming with His holy angels in His quality of Son of man which notoriously attaches to Him as executor of judgment. (See John 5.)
I cannot doubt, therefore, that coming or presence is never in itself synonymous with appearing, revelation or manifestation. This does not decide the question of their agreeing or differing in point of time. But it tends so far to maintain the definiteness of scripture language, which is indispensable to all real intelligence and progress in the truth.
That the removal of the saints from earth to meet the Lord does not synchronize with their appearing in glory along with Him, is, to my mind, certain from a variety of scriptures. First, Colossians 3 declares that when Christ, our life, appears, "then shall ye also appear with him in glory." The context would convince any fair mind that rigorous precision is here intended. The basis is the identification of the Christian with Christ. Is He dead and risen? So are they. Is He now hid with God? So are they now with Him. But this will not be always. He is about to be manifested in glory: when He is, then shall they too be manifested in the same glory with Him. This is decisive against the hypothesis of Christ first appearing, then translating the risen and changed saints, and bringing then and thus His day on the world. For in this case, Scripture must be broken, as Christ would have appeared in glory without His saints and before them. Their rapture (to use a word which used to be more familiar with divines than it seems to be of late) cannot then be when He is manifested; for they are all, Christ and the saints, manifested together.
Besides, the same result follows from the scriptures which speak of His coming with the saints. They must have been, then, caught up before in order to come with Him.
Further, the great book which puts together in an orderly way so many elements scattered over the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the final prophecy of the New Testament, has it no light for us on this vexed question? Much every way, but this chiefly — that thence we learn how the saints are seen glorified in heaven under the symbol of twenty-four elders, not to speak of the four living creatures from Revelation 4; that they are seen there kept out of the hour of temptation which comes on all the world to try them that dwell on the earth; that during this hour God works in Jews and Gentiles, who alone are spoken of as being on earth, without a hint of the Church or churches after Revelation 3 (save in the exhortation at the end when the prophetic part is concluded); and that when the Lord does come to judge, the saints are with Him, and come out of heaven, not from earth, for the closing scene, when, executing vengeance on them that know not God and them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus, He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that have believed in that day. Then, and not before, will be the public retributive dealing of the Lord, when His saints shall be vindicated and their enemies shall be troubled worse than any tribulation they inflicted on the faithful. The Lord's coming simply to receive the saints to be with Himself is no doubt the joy of grace; but it is not all, and does not supersede the importance of the scene of manifestation (which is itself a part of His coming or παρουσία), when all questions of responsibility in good or ill will be solved and made apparent.
The best sobriety of the saint is to believe the scriptures — not some, but all; sacrificing the truth neither of our manifestation and reward when Christ comes in judgment, nor of our previous removal to heaven to be with Christ, away from the scenes of horror, when God will give the Jew and man in general to taste the result even in this world of rejecting the true Christ and receiving the false one; but when He will make ready once more, by an Elijah testimony, a people prepared for the Lord on earth, that when He does appear in glory, He may have not only a risen glorified Bride with Him, suited to the heavenly places and the Father's house, but also an earthly people, the nucleus for the blessing of all nations and the earth during that reign of blessedness which will follow the execution of judgment on all His enemies. It is the same παρουσία, but ἡ π. as such, and ἐπιφανεία τῆς π. are quite distinct in character and time.
The παρουσία of the Lord, then, is not a mere act of coming, but the state of being present in contrast with His absence. The epiphany or shining forth of His παρουσία most naturally intimates that this presence in itself is not necessarily visible.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 288. June, 1867.
Q. 1. Do not the best readings give an entirely different meaning to Revelation 5:9-10, from that represented by the Authorized Version? and how then can it be proved that the Church is in heaven when the judgments are poured upon the earth? By 'judgments' is to be understood not that ON the Antichrist, but the judgments during his rule.
2. Does not 2 Thessalonians 1:7 appear to teach that the saints do not enter into the rest until the Lord is revealed from heaven taking vengeance on them that know not God, and 1 John 2:18, that they will be here with the Antichrist?
3. It is urged from Matthew 16:18 that the Church was future. If so, is it not equally true from Matthew 1:21 that no one who died previous to the cross was or could be saved? A SEEKER AFTER TRUTH.
A. The only question as to readings of importance in verse 9 is the insertion or omission or ἑμᾶς. The Siniatic and Vaitican (2066, not 1209), with the great majority of miniscules insert; the Parisian Rescript is defective; the Alexandrian and a miniscule in the Propag. at Rome (44) omit. To this last, though the evidence be small, recent editors (Alford, Lachmann, Tischendorf, etc.) incline. It seems to me confirmed by the true text of verse 10, which exhibits, without question, the third and not the first person ("they", not "we"). The proof that the Church is then in heaven is quite independent of these verses, and mainly depends on the fact revealed in Rev. 4, — the presence of the enthroned and crowned elders around the throne of God. Who are meant by this symbol but the glorified saints? Spirits as such are nowhere said to be glorified, but the saints in their changed bodies. These are so represented from Revelation 4 onwards. If ἑμᾶς be, as I suppose, rightly omitted (the insertion being due to an early corrector, who could not account for the absence of an object after the verb, from ignorance of such an ellipse, which is not uncommon with John), there is no necessity for taking the ζῶα as the redeemed; for the song would then simply celebrate the Lamb's worthiness and His efficacious death in purchasing a people to God, priests and kings to reign over the earth, without here defining who they are.
2. 2 Thessalonians 1 speaks solely of publicly awarded rest and tribulation when Jesus is revealed. Nobody thinks either can be till Jesus appears. A previous translation is no more a difficulty for the saints caught up to heaven than a previous tribulation for Jews and Gentiles on earth. Nor does 1 John 2:18 hint that those addressed would be on earth when Antichrist comes, but affirms many antichrists now as an evidence of that coming man of sin, and no more.
3. Matthew 1:21 confirms, instead of weakening, the plainly future bearing of Matthew 16:18. For just as the one text shows us that no one, before Jesus came and died, could be said to be saved from his sins, so was no Church of Christ begun to be built before. Previously to that believers rested on a revelation or a promise; afterwards, on the work accomplished. Then, not before, is could be said, "By grace are ye saved through faith." Redemption becomes the basis not only of His own present salvation in Christ, but also of gathering in one (i.e., in the Church) God's children who were before this scattered. For this, too, the presence of the Spirit sent down from heaven was requisite to baptize into one body.
Q. 1. What is the dispensational difference between the two disciples of John (John 1:37), Philip (John 1:43), Nathanael (John 1:45), and Nicodemus? (John 3:1)
2. What is the full dispensational teaching of John 2?
A. 1. The two disciples of John, hearing their master's heart-utterance of delight in the Lamb of God, follow Jesus, come and see at His invitation where He abode and abide with him that day. It was indeed well-nigh spent, for as the evangelist could not forget — a moment ever to be treasured in his heart — it was about the tenth hour. One of these two, Andrew, first finds his own brother Simon and brings him to Jesus, who at once confers the new name of Cephas. The day following Jesus Himself bids Philip follow Him; and Philip finds Nathanael of whom the Lord says, as He was coming, Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile! If I mistake not, we have thus a remnant emerging from John's testimony to see and abide with Jesus, going forward through John, yet beyond John, to dwell with Jesus where He dwelt, unknown to the world because it knew Him not. Such is the Christian's place, abiding with Jesus and following Him. But again we have the remnant once more, owned as God's Israel, seen under the fig-tree, though still strongly prejudiced against a Messiah in humiliation, but finally convinced by the proof of His omniscience, as well as His grace, and acknowledging the Nazarene to be the Son of God and King of Israel. Greater things should be seen, as the Lord told him; from that time even heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man — the head not of the Jews only but over all according to God's counsels, even now the object and centre of all angelic service.
In the case of Nicodemus (John 3), I see no dispensational difference, but rather the universal and indispensable necessity of the new birth for every man in every dispensation who shall see and enter the kingdom of God. This is introduced, as has been often remarked, by the refusal of Jesus in the closing scene of John 2 to trust man even when ready to believe in Him because of the miracles He had wrought. It was human faith, the fruit not of the Holy Ghost, but of man's mind, and good for nothing in God's eye. "Ye must be born anew" to have part in the kingdom — all alike, the Jew even as the Gentile.
2. John 2 shows us, mystically, the future earthly kingdom, when the true marriage-feast is celebrated, and forms for purifying yield to the wine of joy which the Lord will create and give freely; and when execution of judgment shall fall on the proud perverters of all things holy.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 304. July, 1867.
Q. Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18 — What is the true form of the future with the perfect part in these texts? Does it teach, what has been drawn from it and apparently by more than one Christian recently, not a ratification in heaven consequent on the binding on earth, but that what was bound on earth had been previously bound in heaven? W.
A. I am of opinion that there is no ground grammatically, any more than in the scope of our Lord's doctrine, to suppose that the participle δεδεμένον expresses time past relatively to that which is signified by the future ἔσται. The idea is that of a certain condition viewed abstractly from consideration of actual time. "Whatever thou mayest bind on the earth shall be a thing bound in the heavens," etc. It is well known that, according to the grammarians, the futurum III or exactum in many verbs (as δέω, κόπτω, παύω, πιπράσκω) supplies the place of the simple future passive, as may be seen in Jelf's Gr. Gr. second ed. Vol. II. p. 71. The difference, I would add, is that the complex form before us views the result as permanent (δεδεμένον) but, beyond doubt, of a future act (ἔσται). Had the meaning contended for been meant, care would have been taken to express it distinctly, as ἤδη δεδεμένον ἔσται ἐν τ. οὐ., or ἔσται τὸ δεδεμένον or in some other way quite different from the actual construction, which appears to me to admit of no other translation than that which is given in the Authorized Version.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 336. September, 1867.
Q. 2 Thessalonians 1:10. What is the difference of saints and believers? and why is the Lord to be glorified in the one and admired in the other? I have asked a good many, and all see the difficulty: if you could throw a little light on it, I should be very thankful. E.C.
A. The careful reader will note that two classes of enemies are brought before us in verse 8: those that know not God, Gentiles; and those who, if they could not in the same way be said to be ignorant of God, do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Jews. They were both such as should pay the penalty of everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His might, when He shall have come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all that have believed. It is not the moment of the translation of the saints to heaven, but of the appearing or day of the Lord, when He shall come, not to receive them to Himself, but "to be glorified in his saints." This, however, being comparatively vague — for He might be glorified simply in their glorification, and this wholly outside the ken of the earth — we have greater precision in the next clause, "and to be wondered at in all that have believed." Here display to others is more prominent. It is no question of those who shall be brought to know His glory on earth after He is thus come, but of all those that have believed previously; and as "the saints" in whom He is said to be glorified would fully apply to those of the Old Testament, so I think "all that have believed" more properly belongs to the present time, when faith has its largest exercise and fullest development. Those of old were separated to God, and though they had faith practically, yet the especial character in reference to God and Christ was hope or trust. Now that redemption is accomplished, it is in the strictest sense faith. And this seems to be confirmed by the appended parenthetic application to the Thessalonians: "for our testimony to you was believed." "In that day" belongs, of course, to their manifestation with Christ in glory.
Bible Treasury Volume 6, p. 367. November 1867.
Q. Romans 8:9-10. What is the special teaching of this part of the epistle? Could Old Testament saints be said to be not in the flesh but in the Spirit? If not, why not? What is the meaning of "the Spirit of Christ?" and why the different forms of describing the Spirit here? What is the force of "he is none of his?" Why is it οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ rather than αὐτῳ? Does it mean merely a sheep of Christ, or one born of God, or what more? Again, why is it body (σῶμα) here and not the flesh (σὰρξ)? and what is the distinct connection of "because of sin," and "because of righteousness?" X.Y.
A. As regards the first query, the intelligence of the passage supposes a clear apprehension of the christian's individual position before God, and is the expression of that position in, if I may so speak, its dissected characters. It does not speak simply of full and perfect forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ and of a righteousness of God manifested therein (that is found in the end of Romans 3), but unfolds the elements of the position of the believer before God as reckoning himself dead to sin, baptized to Christ's death and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, as having discovered not that we had sinned, and come short of the glory of God (that again is found in chapter 3), but that in him, that is in his flesh, dwelleth no good thing. He has learned not what he has done merely, but what he is. Hence the simple fulness of grace is more largely stated in Romans 5, which closes that first part at verse 11 — God's love to the sinner, so that we joy in Him, knowing His love. It is God towards the sinner and so known. Romans 8 is the believer before God, his privileges fuller, but grace and divine love in itself not so absolutely stated. One is God Himself to the sinner, the other the believer's standing with God. In Romans 3 Christ has died for our sins when we were sinners; now is added, we have been baptized to His death and are to reckon ourselves dead, the bearing of which, moreover, on the law and our experience under it is reasoned out by the Spirit in Romans 7.
Having prefaced this, which will make the answers more intelligible, or at least lay the ground for them if apprehended, I reply, Old Testament saints could not be described as not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. The Spirit is the seal of our new position in Christ, promised in the prophets and by the Lord, and received by Him for us after His ascension (Acts 2:33), and given as the Spirit of adoption, and uniting us to Him ascended. The distinction of flesh and Spirit is founded on the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, and the possession of the Spirit promised by Christ, and the present fruit of His redemption work. In His time on earth, John could say, The Holy Ghost was not yet because Jesus was not yet glorified. And lust was working in the Old Testament saints, but now the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and freedom by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death is known only to those who have the Spirit given consequent on an accomplished redemption. It is clear they could not be in the Spirit if the Spirit was not given, and scripture is as clear on this as words can make it. The gift of the Spirit was such and so dependent on Christ's going away, that it was expedient for them He should do so. I have said above "if apprehended," because it cannot be but by experience. Forgiveness I can understand in a certain way, if I have it not, for men are forgiven their faults by parents, etc., and the burden of debt being removed is also intelligible. But being dead and reckoning myself dead when I feel myself alive is not so easy even to understand, till divine grace, teaching me to submit to God's righteousness, has set me free in the consciousness of a new position in which alive in Christ I treat the flesh as dead. It is called "the Spirit of Christ," because it is that which forms us in living likeness to Him. It is Christ in us in the power of life. This was perfectly displayed in His life in itself. In us it is realized in the measure in which we walk in the Spirit as we live in the Spirit.
Some further remarks will clear this point. The enquirer may remark that it is called "the Spirit of God," "the Spirit of Christ," and "the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus." I need not say that it is the same Spirit. But in the first, it is in contrast with the flesh (see Galatians 5:17). In the second it is that form of life in which its own qualities are displayed as in Christ Himself. In the third, it is the pledge of final deliverance and glorifying of the body itself into the likeness of Christ glorified, here spoken of however not farther than the quickening of the body by reason of it; but it goes on to the quickening of the mortal body itself.
As regards οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ, all here is spoken of the Christian as such, subjectively perfect as to his christian state. He who has not Christ's Spirit is not His. It is not a question of what he may be afterwards, or whether he is a sheep, or, so to speak, αὐτῳ; but even if God be working in him to lead him to Christ, he is not yet His in fact until he has His Spirit. Redemption and assurance of faith have been so set aside in evangelical teaching (though not at the Reformation — assurance was insisted on then as alone justifying faith) that many persons who have the Spirit of Christ, which is that of liberty and adoption, are afraid to be free and to say they are children, and yet they have the Spirit of adoption. Such are surely His; but none can be said to be His (αὐτοῦ) till they have His Spirit. All men are Christ's in a certain sense; all the sheep are His own in another; but none can be said to be his when they have not His Spirit.
The σὰρξ is never dead; σὰρξ would not do at all here; when the σῶμα is alive, active in will, it is σὰρξ , and there is sin. Hence if Christ be in you (not simply, if I am born of God, which a man is in Romans 7); but if Christ be in me I reckon myself dead; I am, in the true christian estimate, dead. (Compare Colossians 3.) The body is dead because its only produce, if alive, is sin. It is for the Christian a mere lifeless instrument of the new man, of the Spirit that dwells in me. It is to be remarked here, that in this part of the chapter the Spirit is looked at as the source of life, though as dwelling in us. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus afterwards. It is looked at personally as acting in us; hence, it is said, the Spirit is life. I own and recognize only the Spirit that dwells in me as the source and spring of life in me, because righteousness is what I seek, and its fruit in contrast with flesh, a contrast fully made previously. Πνεῦμα is surely the Spirit of God, but dwelling in us, and the source of and characterizing life. The Old Testament saints could not be said to be of Christ thus, as is apparent from what has been said. The saint really under law, in the Romans 7 state, could not either be said to be αὐτοῦ. But we must remember that many are practically under law by false teachers keeping them there, who are not really, but in secret look to God as their Father.
Q. 2 Corinthians 4:10. What is meant by νέκρωσιν (translated in the English Bible "dying") here? Is it "deadness" or the state of death, or "killing," or what else? W.
A. Νέκρωσισ is stated to have a passive or rather neutral sense as well as active, it is not simply deadness. It is not the state of death, but, where not killing, the act of dying. So putting to death even is used in English: only agency is supposed there. I may say 'his putting to death' was inexcusable, i.e., his being put to death. In Romans 4 it is not simply death, as if Sarah were dead, but the losing of the power of life which had taken place. He did not think of Sarah's womb losing its vital powers. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 it is not losing, as in Romans 4, but he realized in the body the applying death to it, as death was Christ's portion. It is not, as to Christ, the Jews' act of crucifying and slaying, which is in mind. Hence killing does not suit, but the fact of the setting aside of life. No English word exactly answers. Dying is looked at as the fruit of something at work; but it is not the working of the instrument which is looked at, but the effect on the person. He held his body down as dead because, as regards Christ in this world, he knew Him as one who had died to it, for whom putting to death was His portion and the source of all blessing. It is the cross applied to the flesh's life. Νέκροσις is making a corpse of, depriving of life; this ended with his body because it had been so with Christ. So Peter says, Christ having suffered in the flesh, we are to arm ourselves with the same mind.
Q. Ephesians 4:13. Why is "the knowledge of the Son of God" added to "the unity of the faith," and what is meant by each? and by "the perfect man?" and "the measure of the stature of Christ?" and why not ἄνδρα rather than ἄνθρωπον (as in Colossians 1)? P.
A. The Epistle to the Ephesians contemplates the Church all through in its perfectness and privileges, and does not touch the question of its decay as entrusted to man's responsibility, which is in 1 Corinthians. God has provided for the accomplishment of the object here spoken of in spite of failure, but it is here looked at without reference to it. The adding of the knowledge of the Son of God was necessary, because it is up to His stature thus known that we are to grow. The arriving at common unity of faith is the general basis, solidity as freed from the vacillations of wind of doctrine; but besides that, we are to grow up to Him who is the Head in all things (as in Colossians 1:28), that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. The perfect man simply means 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 like 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 Hebrews 5:14 and Hebrews 6:1. Ἄνθρωπος is the race including man and woman, and would not be appropriate here. Speaking merely of men, I say πάντα ἄνθρωπον, as Colossians 1. Ἀνὴρ is the word of dignity in the race, and so he is looking at it there. You would not think of a woman in saying one was growing up to full manhood.
Q. 2 Peter 1:19. How does the "day-star" (φωσφόρος) differ from the morning-star (ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ πρωι>νὸς) in Revelation 2:28? It is well known that in Revelation 22:16 the reading ὀρθρινὸς is spurious, and it should be πρωι>νὸς as in chapter 2.
A. There is only a shade of meaning different in ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ πρωι>νὸς and φωσφόρος, one referring to the early appearance, the other to its introducing dawn or light. Peter is speaking of prophecy as a light, a candle shining in a dark place — God's light in the darkness of this world; with that he contrasts Christ's heavenly coming the hope of the saints as bringing in the light of a new day. Ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ πρωι>νὸς is merely what it is — its appellative, Christ Himself, still not in the kingdom (that precedes in Revelation 2:28, and is found rather in "the Root and Offspring of David" in Revelation 22.)