The descent of the Holy Ghost — Acts 2 etc
Faith before receiving the Holy Ghost — Acts 10 etc.
A meeting of the assembly — 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 etc.
The body of Christ
What is the bearing of — Matthew 11:12; Luke 16:16
Sleep in Jesus — 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16
The parable of the virgins — Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:25-28
Please reconcile — Matthew 13; 2 Thessalonians 2
Fine linen — Revelation 19:8
The stars — Revelation 1:20
If thou believest — Acts 8:37
καθεξῆς — Luke 1
ἔξοδον and δόξαν — Luke 9:31
Duration of events — Revelation 6 to 19
The body is dead — Rom. 8:10
Homage and Worship
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 16. January 1868.
Q. 1. , Acts 8, Acts 10, Acts 19; Romans 8, etc. — It being allowed that Acts 2 is the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost to form and indwell the Church, but only taking effect on Jewish believers, would Acts 10:44 be explained of a similar descent upon the Gentiles in such a way as to supplement Acts 2? or should we avoid the word "descent" and call it a manifestation of power to them as from one already present on earth, but not having before formally operated on the Gentiles? I conclude that Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-7 are somewhat different, as in both these instances there was the intervention of the hands of the apostles.
Granting that we have at present no manifestation of the Holy Ghost to expect, such as was exhibited in any of the passages adduced above, ought, nevertheless, a believer to be conscious of the time when the Holy Ghost indwelt him, distinct from and after his regeneration? or is it a matter for his faith, deduced from such passages as Romans 8? W.H.G.W.
Q. 2. I confess I feel a difficulty in seeing anything more than faith as a condition before receiving the Holy Ghost. Is not Acts 10 the normal mode of that gift to us of the Gentiles? May not the language of Ephesians 1:13 be owing to the peculiarity of the circumstances of the disciples in Acts 19?
A. It is evident, I think, that the great truth of the presence of the Spirit baptizing the believers was made good at Pentecost, of which Acts 10 records the extension or application to the Gentiles, as in fact none but Jews received Him at the beginning. Acts 8 and Acts 19 appear to me supplementary and special, the one verifying the place of the apostles of the circumcision, as the other maintained Paul, and hence in both these subordinate instances there was imposition of hands. It was the outpouring on fresh souls of the Holy Ghost already sent down from heaven; and whatever difference is to be observed in the manner is due to the variety of the circumstances. But in every instance this gift of the Spirit is distinct from faith and consequent on it. It always supposes the soul born again, whether the interval be as short as the limits of the same discourse, or have days, weeks, months, or years between. That is, impartation of life. For a soul may have this new nature and no peace, no simple submission as yet to the righteousness of God. There may be a struggle under law, a trying to die to sin, fresh efforts under law to improve self. This often goes on in souls really quickened, as we read in Romans 7, and may have seen frequently if we did not taste of this experience. The Holy Ghost is given when one rests by faith on the work of Christ. He regenerates the unbeliever, but He seals none till they believe the gospel. There must be life for sealing, and more too — a soul resting on the ground of accomplished redemption. Now souls are often quickened but tried and miserable as yet for sometime afterward. So the Jews at Pentecost had repented and were even baptized before they received the Spirit; so the Samaritans believed and were baptized first, not to speak of the disciples of John at Ephesus. Nay, Cornelius himself had been for some time a godly and prayerful man, as his household may have been too. But that many were really first awakened under Peter's preaching, i.e. at Pentecost, I do not contest: only in all cases there is, I judge, necessarily an interval, let it be ever so brief, between life (or quickening) and the gift of the Spirit which seals the living believer. The possession of peace to them that believe goes along with this reception of the Spirit, as outward power also marked it of old for a sign to unbelievers.
Q. What are the distinctive characteristics of a meeting of the assembly as such? Should a scripture-reading be regarded in this light? If held statedly in a private house, would 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 or 1 Timothy 2:11, render a question from a female invalid? Where does 1 Corinthians 11:5, 13 apply? EDIN.
A. When Christians come together ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ (i.e., as an assembly), there is an entire openness for such action as the Spirit may direct in prayer and singing, blessing and thanksgiving, reading, speaking (subject of course to the regulations of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 14). This is not at all the character of a scripture-reading, whether stated or occasional, at a public meeting-room or in a private house. One point of value in it is to afford an opportunity for questions and explanations which would be out of place in the assembly. The nature of a meeting depends not on the fact of who are present, but on its aim and character. Thus, a lecture or a preaching of the gospel, like a reading-meeting, might have all the saints of a place present; but its own character is quite unaffected by such a circumstance. Nevertheless, a social character is, I think, desirable for a scripture-reading, so as to make it expedient, as well as lawful, for a woman to ask a question, if she wished. There are cases as when many men are present, where nature itself would teach her to prefer silence. 1 Timothy forbids not this, but teaching and the exercise of authority. Prophesying (according to 1 Corinthians 11 compared with 1 Corinthians 14) was lawful for women, not in the assemblies but at home; where, as I suppose, Philip's four daughters exercised their gift unobtrusively and with decorum. So too Priscilla, with her husband, helped Apollos in private.
Q. Is "the body of Christ" a heavenly designation? S.
A. It is "heavenly" as descriptive of union with our glorified head, but not in the sense of applying to the members of Christ when viewed as actually in heaven. It is a heavenly relationship, but is always, I think, used in Scripture of Christians still on earth. The reason, I suppose is, that the body is where the Holy Ghost is who baptizes those who compose it into one. Departed Christians, therefore, though of course members of that body, are not contemplated, because their spirits are gone to be with Christ in heaven whence the Holy Spirit came down to form the assembly on earth.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 47. March 1868.
Q. What is the bearing of Matthew 11:12, and Luke 16:16?
A. It is important to pay attention to the place where these passages are found in the gospels. In Matthew, chapter 11 marks the transition from the presentation of Christ to the nation, the Gentiles being excluded. What is found in Matthew 10 speaks of this presentation until the return of the Son of man, and the new order of things which took place in consequence of the rejection of Christ. Verse 20-30 of Matthew 11 present this change in the most striking manner. The Saviour upbraids the cities where He had laboured for their deplorable unbelief, and submits to the will of God in this dispensation. This submission opens for His heart the enigma of that grace which appears in all its simplicity, and in all its power.
It is a question of knowing the Father, and the Son alone can reveal Him; but He invites "all that labour and are heavy laden" to come to Him, and He will give them rest. His person, and not Israel, is the centre of grace and of the work of grace. He alone reveals the Father. The judgment of Israel is developed in Matthew 12, and the mysteries of the kingdom are brought out in Matthew 13. On the occasion of this transition we see the testimony of John and that of Christ equally rejected.
This transition is, if possible, still more clearly marked in Luke at the end of chapter 13. The rupture between Jehovah and Jerusalem is complete; the house which belonged to the children of Jerusalem, once the "house of God," is abandoned, and they will not see the Lord until Psalm 118 is accomplished in their repentance. Then in Luke 14, the change in the ways of God is clearly shown, and the sphere of the activity of His grace is no longer the now-rejected Israel, but the whole world, after having gathered in the poor of the flock of His people. (Ver. 16-24.) Then the ways of God in sovereign grace towards men — towards sinners — are brought out in that treasury of grace and love, which is found in Luke 15; and in Luke 16, the Lord shows the use that man ought to make of that which He possessed according to nature, being now that which had been particularly proved in Israel — a steward who was dismissed. He should make use of it in grace, in view of the future. His mission was the pivot of the change. In this point of view the mission of Christ on the earth — His ministry — was but the complement of that of John the Baptist. Compare Matthew 4:17, Matthew 3:2. Only the latter sung the doleful dirge of judgment, and the former the joyful song of hope and of grace, just as our chapter explains it to us.
In the passages which occupy us, Matthew speaks as thinking of Israel; Luke, as thinking of all men.
Two great systems of God with respect to the earth are found included in His counsels, and revealed in the word. One depended on the faithfulness of man to the responsibility which weighed upon him, the other on the active power of God. These are the dispensations of the law and of the kingdom. But there was a moment of transition, when the kingdom was preached, and preached in the midst of Israel by John the Baptist and by Christ, without its having been established in power. The people were put to a moral test as to their use of the right of entering in. For the rest, the Prophets and the Psalms had indeed announced beforehand the character of those who were to have a part in the blessings of the kingdom. See Psalm 15, Psalm 24, Psalm 37, and many others; Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 51, Isaiah 57:21, Isaiah 66:2, and a multitude of other passages. The sermon on the mount has put a seal to this testimony by giving it actuality. Now the preaching of the kingdom had for its effect to separate the remnant (namely, those who had ears to hear) from the evil and hypocrisy which reigned in the midst of the people, to prepare them for the entrance of the kingdom, if it had been established in power; and in fact, Christ being rejected, that they might become the nucleus of the assembly which, according to the counsels of God, was about to be revealed. Then the kingdom took the character of sowing and other similar forms, and not that of the kingdom of a king in power, and so it continued to be preached as about to come, although the salvation and the glory of the Church were to occupy, from the coming down of the Holy Spirit, the principal place in the doctrine of which the Spirit is the source.
It was therefore at the moment when the relationships of Israel with God by means of the Messiah had become impossible, and when the relationships founded on the law, and maintained by the testimony of the prophets, were drawing to an end, through the publication of the kingdom ready to be established and in a certain sense, present in the person of the King — it was at that moment that the Lord pronounced these words, which we are seeking to render clear to our readers by answering the question which has been here put.
Now, the first thing that these words state is, that "the law and the prophets were until John." Israel was placed by God on that footing until John's ministry. They had but to observe the law, and to rejoice in the hope given by the prophets, and all was well. This was no longer the case after John. The kingdom was not established; if it had been, the power of God would have settled everything. Order and peace would have reigned; the remnant would have been blessed in the kingdom where the King reigned in righteousness. But it was not so; it was preached, and preached by prophets — and by those who were more than prophets — but by the prophets who were reviled and rejected, and for whom the wilderness and death were an abode or a reward. The hypocritical nation, a generation of vipers, would have nothing of it. It was the violent ones, those who were not stopped by obstacles and opposition, but who opened to themselves a way through all, these alone it was who were securing a place for themselves. There is only this difference between Matthew and Luke, that Matthew speaks exclusively of the character of those who seize on the kingdom, and the position of the latter, and does not therefore go beyond the application of these thoughts to the Jewish people. Luke had formally spoken of the highways and hedges, and had by his expressions opened the door to the Gentiles without formally pointing to them as the "whomsoever," so often quoted by Paul. "Every one," he says, forces his way into it." Since it was a matter of preaching and of faith, the Gentile who would listen to the preaching and have that faith would enter in, like any other.
Nevertheless, He only opens the door by a principle, according to the doctrine of that gospel from Luke 4. It decidedly opens heaven, and completely overturns the Jewish system, which made earthly blessings to be a proof of God's favour.
Q. 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16. What is the force of the expressions, and what the distinction, of "sleep in Jesus," and "dead in Christ;" especially with reference to the connection of "Jesus" with "sleep," and of "Christ" with "dead?" W.
A. It is to be borne in mind that Jesus is the personal name of our Lord. It is never used as the expression of a condition, like Christ. The appearance of this in verse 14 is not justified by an appeal to the language of the Holy Ghost. The real force is "those put to sleep" (or "those that have slept") "by Jesus." Such is His dealing in their case. The death of His own is sleeping by His hand, not as the wages of sin, or Stan's power. It is by that very person who Himself died and rose. Whereas "dead in Christ" is a condition. The saints are dead, not merely like natural men, but dead in Christ. "In Jesus" could not, I think, be thus used. Ephesians 4:21 is no exception; for it means "in the person of Jesus," and not a condition. Hence it is unscriptural to say "yours in Jesus" or "chosen in Jesus;" it should be "in Christ," in Christ Jesus," "in the Lord," etc.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 64. April 1868.
Q. Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:25-28. Do these texts warrant the inference that the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25) refers to the Jewish remnant, rather than to Christendom? J.D.B.
A. It is a mistake in interpreting scripture to conceive that similarity in one point or more establishes identity, many of which however striking would be of no weight against a single irreconcilable difference. The context (and not verbal analogies even if far stronger than in these instances) is alone decisive. It is worth remarking, just to sew how precarious this ground is, that a well-known living commentator and critic contrasts Matthew 7:23 with Matthew 25:12. The truth is, that in the day of the Lord all will be judged who have not been saved, and on similar though not identical grounds; for the Lord will deal with Jew, Gentile, or Christian profession on their own footing, but in His light. The passage in Luke is proved by the context to be the judgment of the Jews who refused the urgent proffers of Jesus. The passage in Matthew 7 need not be so restrained, though no doubt applying there and then. But the parable of the virgins, both contextually and in its own statements, applies not to the Jews (who have already been fully treated of in the preceding two chapters, nationally and as a remnant), but to professing Christians consisting of disciples real and unreal. The Jewish remnant will be rather the earthly bride than virgins going out to meet the Bridegroom; neither will they from the first possess the gift of the Spirit (the "oil in their vessels") like the wise virgins; nor will they go to sleep during their awful hour of trial.
Q. How may Matthew 13 be reconciled with 2 Thessalonians 2, upon the following points? In the prophetic teaching of the Lord Jesus, when on earth, in Matthew 13, there is no present hope, but a prolonged exhortation, at the end of the age, when the wheat is gathered into the garner; whereas, in the teaching of the Holy Ghost from the ascended Lord, the Church is besought "by the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto him," as a present hope. Were the Thessalonians "wheat" — or rather are Christians, as such, in Matthew 13 as well as in the epistles? If so, how can the same persons have a present hope, and a protracted one? R.
A. I am not aware of anything that justifies the contrast thus drawn between the parable of the wheat and the tare-field, and the instruction in 2 Thessalonians 2 and elsewhere. The angelic intervention under the authority of the Lord is to gather together first the tares and bind them in bundles with a view to their yet future destruction, before the wheat is gathered into His barn. But why should this be styled a prolonged expectation? Why should it interfere with the constant hope of the coming of the Lord to receive us to Himself? This parable, like all others, is constructed, as it appears to me, expressly to keep up the habitual looking for the closing scene. One could not collect from it anything to forbid that first generation of disciples expecting to be called away to their heavenly mansions. Of course, the same thing applies to all that followed. Thus I see no reason to doubt that the wheat includes the Thessalonian believers with all other Christians. "In the time of harvest" is not a single point of time with previous events protracting the hope, but the general season of gathering in the saints, executing judgment on the tares already disposed by the angels with a view to it, and then the appearing of the saints in glory, which closes this age and introduces the new one.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 160. October 1868.
Q. Revelation 19:8 — What is the meaning of the inspired explanation of the symbolical "fine linen?" B.
A. Observe, first, that it is said to be the righteousness "of saints," not of God, but of His people. Secondly, it is not exactly their righteousness, but their "righteousnesses." (δικαιώματα). This it is impossible in any just sense to understand of the righteous standing which is made ours in Christ. God's righteousness in him is the same for all saints. But each saint here will have his or her own righteousness. Hence it is no question of taking up the saints to heaven, which will be the crowning act of grace, nor of our presentation in the Father's house in a way suitable to His grace. We must therefore distinguish between the white raiment of Revelation 4 and the fine linen of Revelation 19. The one was the clothing of pure grace, the fruit of divine righteousness in Christ. But in Revelation 19 it was given to the bride to be arrayed in "fine linen" which is expressly said to be the saints' righteousness. It is in view of our appearing with Christ before the world, and consequently when all the righteous results of the ways of the saints shall be manifested.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 256. April 1869.
Q. 1. What do the "stars" of the seven churches represent? (Revelation 1:20)
2. Who are they who rest from their labours and their works do follow them? (Revelation 14:13). W. de R.B.
A. 1. The "stars" of Revelation 1, 2, 3, are symbols of those who rule in the assemblies subordinately to Christ. They are called "angels," because they represent, in the way of moral responsibility, the sphere in which they are called to act for Christ, and are thus identified, each, with the state of the assembly in which he may be thus set.
2. Revelation 14:13 announces the blessedness henceforth of those that die in the Lord. There is no more dying thus. The end of such suffering as well as of the testimony that exposed to it is come. Hence we have the Lord's coming in judgment immediately consequent. The special reference is to the Apocalyptic martyrs for His name.
Q. I have seen it stated that "the whole of Acts 8:37, 'If thou believest with all,' etc. is universally pronounced by Biblists as an interpolation. It exists in only one Greek MS, having no place in the other MSS. It is marked in our Greek Text as spurious, is omitted from some, and ought never to have had a place in our English Bible." G.T.A.
A. The verse exists in Laud's Unical MS, now in the Bodleian, in Beda's Greek (unless it be the same copy), in about twenty cursives, as well as some versions. Nor has it wanted defenders, as Wolf abroad and Whitby at home. At the same time it was certainly not read by much the weightier as well as by the most numerous authorities, and is justly rejected by the best critics, and should disappear from all Bibles. It seems to have been read by several early fathers as Irenæus and Cyprian if it was not inserted to support the later copies of the Vulgate. Internal evidence is, at least, as decisively against it as external.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 271. May 1869.
Q. Does the term καθεξῆς in Luke 1 imply historic sequence as is the groundwork of several harmonies of the Gospels? T.
A. The term is used only but frequently by Luke. It signifies properly, in a regular series, one after another, and hence sometimes simply following, or next, in order. Liddell and Scott say that the more usual word is ἐφεξῆς; and on this word they remark that it is less usually employed of time than of regular order of arrangement. On the whole, I see no sign whatever that Luke uses it for chronological order; nor has the word in itself this meaning, save as chronological order is one sort of order. The passages in Luke, beside the one in question are Luke 8:1 ; Acts 3:24; Acts 11:4; Acts 18:23. He too alone uses ἐξῆς, Luke 7:11; Luke 9:37; Acts 21:1; Acts 25:17; Acts 18:18.
Q. 1. What authorities have ἔξοδον and δόξαν in Luke 9:31 respectively ? Which is to be preferred ?
2. Which is more exact, in Hebrews 1:8, "Therefore God, [even] thy God," etc.; or, "Therefore, O God, thy God," etc.? And why? C.
A. 1. Only a few cursive manuscripts give δόξαν, evidently through δίξῃ just before and δόξαν shortly after. Lachmann and Tischendorf do not so much as notice it as a various reading; but Griesbach and Scholz enumerate the juniors that so read, though of course following ἔξοδον, with all the best and most ancient authorities. Matthaei conjectures that this other may have crept in from Chrysostom.
2. As far as grammar is concerned, I think there need be no question that both the Hebrew and the Greek are capable of either construction. Compare Psalm 1. 7; Psalm 67:7 for the nominative; and Psalm 63:4 for the vocative, as noticed by another. In verse 8, ὁ Θεὶς is unquestionably used in a vocative sense; but this is no way necessary here. The context must decide; and to my mind the anointing would not be congruous with the vocative force in verse 9, so that I incline to the Authorized Version.
Q 1. Do the events occurring under the seals, trumpets, and vials, from Revelation 6 to 19, occupy the whole of Daniel's seventieth week (Dan. 9:27), or the latter half only?
2. Are the two periods of 42 months and 1260 days in Revelation 11:2-3 to be considered as extending over the whole of the above week, or only half of it? If the latter view be taken, how can the three and-a-half days of verse 9, beyond the 1260 days be accounted for?
3. Is it correct to say that the trumpets extend over the first half of the week, the vials over the second half, and the seals over the whole week?
4. Are these events to be considered as wholly prophetical; or do they admit of historical application as well? J. T.
A. J. T. is referred to the BIBLE TREASURY (first edition), vol. I., pp. 276, 277, and Vol. II., p. 63 for answers to queries 1 and 2. As to his third question, I think it certain that the seals precede the trumpets, which go down to the introduction of the kingdom in a general way, as the vials go over the latter part of the ground specifically. But the seals do not comprehend the whole week, nor do they go down to the end. I am not disposed to doubt the intention of a general historical application, besides the fulfilment in the great future crisis.
Bible Treasury Volume 7, p. 287. June 1869.
Q. Rom. 8:10. Can this mean that the body indeed is dead (i.e., by the sentence on the first Adam), but the spirit is life because of righteousness (i.e., righteousness would also be the cause)? The force would be, that though the body be or remain dead thus, the spirit, etc. The expression, "if Christ be in you" would require as much, because in this sense He does not cause the body to be dead. And the following verse would mean that this very dead body will be raised. QUERIST.
A. "Mortal" hardly chimes in with this. The other sense makes "the body is dead" depend directly on what precedes. If Christ be in you, the body is dead (i.e. reckoned dead according to Rom. 6) because of sin being its character if alive in flesh, and the spirit life because righteousness is the will of God and in us the fruit of the Spirit. I hardly think the first view can he maintained, however generally true in itself.
Q. Homage and Worship.
In the Bible Treasury for December there is an article on Προσκυνέω. Would the writer be so good as to say what he means by doing homage or doing obeisance to Jesus Christ, and what he means by worshipping the Father? A CONSTANT READER.
A. A well-known version of the New Testament, which has had the respectful commendation of the best Biblical scholars in the Anglican body as well as outside it, was attacked by one not only incompetent but disposed to impute the worst motives for that which was beyond his own measure. The writer of the reply had not the least notion of its source, though he has since heard the name with regret. The aim was to show that the translator insinuated the inferiority of the Son to the Father by restricting "worship" to the latter and translating the same word by "homage" where the Son was concerned. It was shown that this was doubly false; and that the version assailed does speak of "worship" where the Son is spoken of, and gives "homage" where the obeisance is unquestionably rendered to God the Father or to God as such It is admitted by all persons of real intelligence that the word "worship" has become narrowed in modern English, and that when the language was in an earlier stage it, embraced all acts of obeisance, such as prostration, which were paid to kings or other superiors, as well as what was paid to a divine Being (or one regarded as divine). So it was in Greek; so it stands in the Authorized Version, because at that time the English word "worship" had a generic force as well as that special reference. But this is not so in present usage; and therefore a modern translator must exercise his judgment. Whether Mr. D. has in every instance succeeded in determining the different senses is more than I would say; but his principle is sound and certain. It is ignorance to suppose that, when Jews came to Jesus to heal their diseases, they meant by their homage to convey their conviction that He was God. That He was God and therefore worthy of honour as the Father is what every Christian rejoices to know, and to pay it; but the true meaning of πρ. in these cases throughout the gospels is another matter. In John 4 "worship" is clearly required. On the other hand, "doing homage" may be and is rightly used where God or the Father is in question.