The little horn — Daniel 7, 8
Spirits in Prison — 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6
Did the high priest bless the people? — Leviticus 9
The righteousness of God in Christ — 2 Corinthians 5:21
Christ's presence in the midst — Matthew 18:20 etc.
The person of Christ — 1 Corinthians 15:47
Atonement — Romans 5:11 etc.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit — Acts 2 etc.
Carnally, fleshy — Romans 8:5-6, 13, etc.
Unto Christ — Galatians 3:24
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 207. January 1893.
Q. J. C. asks whether the little horn of Daniel 8 is distinct from that of Daniel 7.
A. First, the very language differs. The prophet, who wrote in Aramaic from Daniel 2:4, returned to Hebrew after Daniel 7. The course of the four world-powers is given in a very instructive two-fold form, one Nebuchadnezzar's vision (Daniel 2), the other Daniel's (Daniel 7), with corresponding differences in the language of the first empire, the captor of Judah. The chapters between contribute important moral features needed to fill up the divinely given picture. From Daniel 8 we receive special details which concern the Jews, which are accordingly given in Hebrew.
Secondly, Daniel 8 deals only with the second and third of the world-powers, Medo-Peria, and Javan or Greece the great and first ruler of which was to have his vast kingdom broken into four in due time after his death, and of course with inferior power. One of these was to meddle disastrously with the Jews and their religion and worship above all, whether in the type that is fulfilled, or in the antitype of the latter time "when the transgressors are come to the full."
Thirdly, the empire of Babylon, the lion-like beast with eagle's wings, had a unity peculiar to itself. The Medo-Perisan (a bear in Daniel 7, a ram in Daniel 8 with two high horns of which the higher came up last) answers truly and solely to the second of these world-powers, which, fierce and devouring in general, was mild and generous toward the Jews, as indeed was the notable horn of the Macedonian power, Alexander the Great. In the third empire the unmarked and settled partition after it's founder death was four-fold, which no historian can question.
But the no less marked division of the fourth or Roman empire is into ten horns, of course contemporary, with one small at its rise which plucks up three by the roots, as remarkable for its intelligence as for its pride and blasphemous audacity. Here however we are in presence of that which awaits its fulfilment, even admitting a partial application to past history. For that horn by its lawlessness brings on, not providential loss of dominion as in the case of the earlier beasts, but direct, distinctive, and divine judgment at the appearing of God's kingdom in the person of the Son of man. How can these things be? The Revelation answers by the rising again of the fourth or Roman empire, when its imperial head (slain unto death) was healed to the wonder of the whole world (Revelation 13:3), the beast that was, and is not (its present negation), and shall be present, having emerged from the abyss. For it will be the brief destined hour of the dragon's wrath, power, and authority. Here also is shown that the Roman beast had distinctly seven successive forms of government or heads, besides (at the close, if not before also) ten contemporaneous horns or kings. Compare Revelation 17:8-12 with Daniel 7.
Clearly then it is no question in Daniel 8 of the Roman power of Daniel 7, whose last horn, little at first, greater afterwards, is to wield and direct the whole force of the empire, so as by his blasphemies to meet with destructive judgment from God. He will be the immediate precursor of the Son of man's coming in His kingdom. Even the unscriptural Josephus could not but see this, though he was prudent enough to be reticent on a future so repulsive to his Roman patrons. But Daniel 8 speaks not of the west but of the east, even of the Graeco-Syrian kingdom and its persecuting profanation in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, of whom we have ample details in Daniel 11:21-31. Indeed this prediction is so exact as to surpass what any ancient historian extant furnishes; so much so that the heathen Porphyry betook himself to the same refuge of unbelief which the destructive critics of late days affect — the pretence of a writer in Maccabaean times, who personated Daniel in Babylon! The vision in Daniel 8:9-14 dwells on what is now history; the interpretation, in 23-25, mainly on what is yet to be fulfilled.
It is well to observe that verse 11 and the first half of twelve are really a parenthesis. The change of gender "he," faithfully owned in the A.V., is alighted in the R.V. Its aim seems to have been to make the personality stronger, and here therefore to refer rather to the antitype than to the historical horn, which before and after the parenthesis is called "it." In the interpretation nothing is said of the "2300 evenings-mornings," or 1150 days, and of treading down the sanctuary, which may therefore be accomplished already. This period is known to be approximately near: none can deny its absolute exactness, of which the believer is sure. Prophecy interprets history, not the converse. The one is absolutely reliable, as from God; the other imperfect at best, often partial and prejudiced, too often adverse to the truth. The historical horn did not play the Solomonic part of "understanding dark sentences" to deceive the Jews, reserved for the antitype, who is also to be "mighty, but not by his own power." This can hardly be said of Antiochus Epiphanes. The future apostate ruler of Turkey in Asia, the enemy of Israel, will be sustained by a mightier monarch still further north. See Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 39.
As to unfulfilled prophecy, superstition (slave of tradition) is dull and dark, rationalism is blind and hostile to God. Superstition is not faith and therefore incapable of understanding beforehand; rationalism is in principle antagonistic to the truth, for it denies that prophecy is ever specific, and especially on the remote future. Hence, as superstition is unbelieving and unexercised, so rationalism offers nothing but futile interpretations to block out the glorious future of God's kingdom by any little earnest in the past. But this falls so short as to give the willing impression that the prophets exaggerated or lied, like the poets or politicians of the day. Who but the unintelligent could confound the little horn of Daniel 8 with that of Daniel 7? or either the western or the north-eastern chief with the wilful king, to reign at the time of the end in Palestine, described in Daniel 11:36-39? The last no doubt is the Antichrist, here viewed politically, in 2 Thessalonians 2 religiously as the man of sin opposed to the Man of righteousness, Who will appear from heaven to destroy him. There are many antichrists; but this does not justify the pretentious ignorance of scripture, which jumbles all three into Antiochus Epiphanes. For he was but a type of the final representative of that power, the enemy of the Antichrist whose ally is the last chief of the Roman empire: all to perish for ever in the day of Jehovah.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 223. February 1893.
Q. What do you think of Dr. Bullinger's "Spirits in Prison" (Second edition revised, 1891)? A.B.
A. The greater part of this pamphlet prepares the way for the simple truth as set forth by Leighton, Pearson, and many more; quite as much as for Dr. B.'s notion that the "spirits in prison" are angels whom God cast down to Tartarus, and committed to chains or pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). It may have force against the anile superstition, popularised in our day, whether for a broad-church purgatory or the vulgar Popish one. He seems to have overlooked Hebrews 12:9 (a reference probably to Numbers 16:22, Numbers 227:16). Besides, "spirits" we find here qualified doubly, by their present imprisonment, and by their past disobedience in the days of Noah, the cause of that safe keeping. But the language pointedly differs, both in connection and in strength of phrase, from that which describes the doom of those angles so singularly contrasted with the actual freedom of the dragon and his angels. The connection of 1 Peter 3:19-20 is clearly with 2 Peter 2:5. For Noah, a preacher of righteousness, was the instrument by which the Spirit of Christ wrought in that day of divine long-suffering; the now imprisoned spirits were then the world of the ungodly on whom God brought the deluge, because they stumbled at the word, being disobedient. Dr. Be, though he claims especial credit for it, fails to catch the touching force of the "For," or rather "Because," with which 1 Peter 3:18 opens. "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing; because Christ also suffered once for sins, Just for unjust," etc. He suffered once for sins. Let this suffice. Ours it is to suffer for righteousness and for Him. What has this to do with angels that kept not their first estate, sinning atrociously and unnaturally? What had they to do with "disobedience" only? And why here baptism?
All is most appropriate to the unbelieving world which rejected Noah's preaching in Christ's Spirit, for it is not said that He went into the prison and preached there, but to the imprisoned spirits. The apostle is combating such objections to christianity as present suffering, spiritual power only through the word, comparatively small numbers, absence of Christ, etc. This he does effectually by laying down Christ's unique suffering for sins, leaving us to suffer as He did also for righteousness. To this he adds the most solemn judgment that befell the world of old, which our Lord also compared to the coming day of His appearing, when His word and Spirit (cf. Genesis 6) were despised. None need wonder if few be saved now or by-and-by, seeing that eight only passed safely through the flood. In connection with this he speaks of baptism as the standing sign, not of new birth as men say, but of salvation, the request or demand of a good conscience Godward by Christ's resurrection. The water, through which Noah and his family were saved, was the power of death for all outside the ark. Christ's resurrection was not only God's honour on Him and His work, but peace to the believer; and if Christ be not yet come in power and glory, He is at God's right hand, which in itself is higher still, gone into heaven, angels, authorities, and powers being subjected to Him, whatever the unbelievers scoff at on earth.
Dr. B.'s reasoning is valid against "the larger hope" as well as purgatory. But his own application is quite irrelevant. For the revealed use of the guilty and apostate angels in 2 Peter 2 and Jude differs totally from the scope of 1 Peter 3, and is a warning to false teachers of licentious life or even apostate from christianity, not an encouragement to Christians who shrank from suffering, and were tried by the paucity of their brethren, and did not adequately stay their souls, conscious of salvation, on Christ's exaltation on high, the pledge of His sure appearing in glory. He is right, as we have long pointed out, as to the difference of ἐκήρ in 1 Peter 3 and εὐηγ in 1 Peter 4. But his notion of "spirits" has exposed him to a heterodox view of "the seven Spirits of God" in the Revelation, as some unreliable men had taught before him. Think of "grace and peace" from angels, no matter how high their rank! So he errs as to Acts 8, where the "Spirit" stands in contradistinction to "the angel." Compare Acts 12 and Acts 13. Each is appropriate. But this is a trifle compared with misinterpreting Revelation 1:4, revelation 4:5, etc., or even "sojourners of the dispersion" which Dean Alford mistook, and thereby the true bearing of the Epistle.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 240. March 1893.
Q. Did the high priest, after coming out of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, bless the people? D.T.
A. People confound that day's rites with the eighth day of priestly consecration, Leviticus 9. There we find the figure of Aaron as Christ, the Priest after the sacrifices, blessing the people; then under the combined types of Moses and Aaron i.e. King and Priest, going in and coming out to bless them, the glory of Jehovah only appearing on this. But the holy force of Atonement Day is kept intact as the judgment and remission of sins. Only in Aaron and his sons we have the Christian place, indeed better than even Aaron's, as made free of the holiest at all times while Christ is within on high.
Q. Does 2 Corinthians 5:21 teach that the saints become in glory the righteousness of God in Christ? X.Y.Z.
A. There is no room whatever for such a force in the language of the Spirit; imported into the words, it is a meaning which distracts from what the apostle lays down from God, and therefore it tends to destroy his aim. The full scope of what is conveyed is its true meaning, not an imaginary sense which the words taught of the Spirit will not bear. The object of the enemy is plain: now as ever anything new or old to enfeeble the blessed fruit of Christ's work. Nobody doubts that righteousness was proved in setting the rejected Christ in glory (John 16.) But here we are taught that, as God made Christ sin for us, so we become His righteousness in Christ. Nor does anybody question the future glorification of the saints; but this hope is wholly outside the passage, which refers exclusively, as its full scope, to what we christians become (or were made) now in Christ — even God's righteousness. This is what many saints fail to believe. And the objection to apply in an absolute way to the believer, in his mixed condition down here statements in scripture which refer to what he is in Christ, shows that it is pure unbelief, which is so blindly put forward as "advanced truth," to ensnare, unsettle and overthrow the unwary. For the truth, which is to deliver from the weakness, and doubts, and all other evil to which the mixed condition is naturally subject, must be received and applied absolutely if taught of God: the faith is made void, and what is worse and goes along with it, the work of Christ and the grace of God alike. If I am not to believe in the most absolute way what the Holy Spirit declares I, a Christian, am already made in Christ, not only is all claim of advanced truth vain, but the gospel in any full sense is systematically denied. And the more evidently it is of Satan, because those who adopt such destructive reveries flatter themselves that they are going on to higher things, instead of virtually, though unwittingly, abandoning that distinctive truth, even as to the foundations of the faith, which used to characterize those waiting for God's Son from heaven. A sober and duly instructed Christian cannot doubt, unless under the strong bias of personal or party feeling, that the teaching is retrograde, false, and incompatible with the gospel.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 272. June 1893.
Q. Do Matthew 18:20, Luke 24:32, John 14:23, teach that the Lord leaves the right hand of God to come down in the midst of believers gathered to His name? E.J.L.
A. We may not rightly set scripture against scripture, but are to believe all. The Holy Spirit is now come, as Christ went on high to send Him to abide for ever with us and in us. But this is not the same as Christ's presence, promised conditionally on the obedience of the assembly or the individual saint, which is in no way to leave God's right hand. He is there bodily, but deigns to vouchsafe His presence here also, which we by faith enjoy in the Spirit. Precious as is the truth of the Holy Spirit's presence, faith does not forego these comforting assurances. Prayer and discipline are only special cases of the more general truth, that Christ may be counted on to be in the midst where two or three are gathered to his name. So, even when the lord appeared extraordinarily to the apostle, and more than once, He did not leave heaven; yet it was all real. Mystery is no less true than material fact, far more momentous, and inseparable from Christ, as Christians know Him at any rate. We walk by faith, and own scripture as absolutely authoritative.
Q. Does 1 Corinthians 15:47, imply manhood morally before the Son took human form.
A. The assertion that the Word was in any real sense man, before He was made flesh, derives no authority from this text or any other. It is a dreamy fable. There was purpose of course, but more seems here meant and without warrant. The divine nature which was His eternally could of course connect itself with human nature, as in fact it did to form the person of Christ, Who could therefore be characterized as of, or out of, heaven. But this sure truth is very different from an unmeaning jargon unless it have a false meaning. Even to babble about the Son's person is eminently perilous and profane.
Q. Romans 5:11, Hebrews 2:17. Are these texts correctly rendered in the A.V.? AMERICAN.
A. Not so, but in the R.V. The late Abp. Trench (Synonyms of the N.T., seventh ed. 276) owns that the word "atonement," by which our (A.) Translators have once rendered καταλλαγή (Romans 5:11), has little by little shifted its meaning, and confesses that, were the translation now for the first time made, "atonement" would plainly be "a much fitter rendering of ἱλασμός," as "reconciliation" of the term in Romans 5:11. Indeed no christian scholar can doubt it. It is therefore astounding confusion for anyone, not merely to go back to "atonement," which the present force of our language forbids, but to imagine this to be the primary meaning and according to its Biblical usage, if we mean the original, which of course alone is authoritative. The simple and certain fact is that our A.V., now at least, is doubly incorrect, it gives "atonement:" in Romans, where "reconciliation" is the sole right rendering; as "making atonement for," or expiating is requisite in Hebrews. A similar blunder pervades the O.T. rendering of the corresponding Hebrew term. To reproduce that error is strange, especially with a view to clearness and accuracy of statement, which it destroys. Wiclif and the Rhemish were right as to Romans 5:11; which fact goes far to convict of error the others from Tyndale, notwithstanding the amiable prelate's desire to excuse it on the ground of the language shifting. On the other hand, Wiclif's "merciful to" is very inadequate in Hebrews 2:17, as Tyndale's "to pourge" is incorrect and rather the effect, which has its own proper expression, though followed by all the older English save the Rhemish (here as usual servile to the very odd "repropitiaret" of the Vulgate). In the R.V. of this text to make "atonement" takes the place of "reconciliation" very properly. Καταλλαγή in the N.T. sense is unknown to the Septuagint. Trench's doctrine of "reconciliation" is well meant, but, like that of theologians in general, infirm and clouded. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Such was His aspect in the incarnate Word. But man, ungodly and implacably hostile, rejected Christ even to the death of the cross; wherein God made Him sin for us, and raised Him from the dead for our justification. Therefore, justified by faith, as being reconciled by His death even when enemies, we shall much more be saved by His life. To be reconciled to god supposes more than atonement, redemption from the enemy, and justification; it comprehends, besides, ourselves set in relationship with god righteously, according to the purpose of His grace. It means, neither changing God's mind from alienation into love, nor merely man brought out of his enmity to God, but the God of love and holiness having so wrought in the sacrifice of Christ, that He can righteously send the gospel of grace to every creature, and establish every believer in a new and stedfast relationship of favour with Himself.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 304. July 1893.
Q. In a little book lately issued, an effort is made to qualify the great truth of Acts 2, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by citing Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19. Does scripture warrant several descents of the spirit, little Pentecosts following the great one? Does He in fact come down from time to time? If He came down repeatedly in apostolic days after Pentecost, why may He not come down any day now? Why may He not do so more than of old? Is the argument or insinuation sound? P.
A. It is the common unbelief of Christendom in the personal presence of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord announced His coming as "the promise of the Father," and to "abide for ever" when come. John 14-16, Luke 24, Acts 1. Was this fulfilled or not at Pentecost? One can understand an influence renewed ever so often; but what of a person, and a Divine Person? Hence an immense difference marks off Acts 2 from the three subsequent occasions. Only then came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind filling all the house, only then tongues parting asunder as of fire which sat on each. Yet it was of high moment that the Samaritan believers, and the Gentile ones should receive the like gift, attested as at Pentecost by signs following. So at Ephesus much later, where god put honour on the apostle Paul, as at Samaria on the apostles Peter and John. But on the two great occasions, for Jews and Gentiles, the Spirit was given without the imposition of hands, which was due to special reasons in the two lesser cases. As the rule, we get the blessing now, as Cornelius and the other Gentiles did at Caesarea, while the word is spoken. The principle is just the same, though we have not the extraordinary powers then vouchsafed when it was a new thing. But the reception of the Spirit, or even His falling on all that heard the word, is not His coming or descent. His abiding presence is a cardinal truth of the gospel; and not much of its "heart" would remain, where either is undetermined. For He it is Who glorifies Christ and leads into all truth. What then are we to infer justly?
There are not several comings or descents of the Spirit, but impressive and cheering communications of the blessing to others who successively the gospel of salvation, and greatly needed the given proof, as did the Jewish believers, so slow to credit the indiscriminate grace of God. Those of Samaria "received the Holy Spirit;" Who "fell on" all that were hearing the word at Caesarea; as He "came on" the dozen disciples at Ephesus. Yet it was the successive operation of the same Holy Spirit Who had already been sent forth from heaven to abide for ever. But Christendom, like Israel, is apt to be proud as well as poor, and boasts more, as the hour of judgment draws nigh. Unbelief is ever the down-grade.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p. 336. October 1893.
Q. 1. Is there any difference between "carnally" and "of the flesh" in Romans 8:5-6, 13, etc.?
2.What is "fleshy" in 2 Corinthians 3:3? A.L.
A. 1, 2. It is the same word and sense in Romans 8, the mind of that flesh which is enmity to God, and came into man's moral constitution through Adam's sin. But "fleshy" means the different fact of the physical material, consisting of flesh, in contrast with stone; and the critics prefer it in Romans 7:14 to the received reading, which only differs by one letter. So do the oldest copies in 1 Corinthians 3:1, though they give the form "fleshly" or "carnal" in verse 3. In Hebrews 7:16 they prefer "fleshy" or at any rate the Greek form for the material. Yet in Romans 15:27 the word for "fleshly" or "carnal," is read; so that this would seem capable of both applications, where the other is confined to the material sense.
Bible Treasury Volume 19, p380. December 1893.
Q. Is the A.V. [and Revised] "to bring us unto Christ" a correct translation? or does the text mean "until" or "up to" Christ? W.D.
A. The Geneva V. by the English refugees (1557) seems to have suggested first, in our tongue at least, the words printed in italics. Cranmer's Bible in 1539 gave merely the literal "unto"; but Tyndale (1534) has "unto the tyme of," which is in sense equivalent to "until." So ἕως is sometimes added to lend strength or precision; sometimes is used alone, as are ἄχρι and μἑχρι, as more definite, though eacj has its own propriety. "Unto," "for"," or "up to" appears safest, though the temporal meaning is often legitimate, whether an epoch or point as "until" or a period as "for." But it is even more frequently used ethically for aim, state or effect and result, as the case may require. So it means here: certainly not "in" Christ, as Wiclif and the Rhemish following the error of the Vulgate: εἰς never really has such a force. Nor is it correct to confound the "child-guide" with the "school-master" or teacher. Even 1 Corinthians 4:15 uses the word disparagingly, though the apostle be not contrasting the law as in Galatians 3 with the promise and the gospel. Severe dealing is implied in both, not parental love. The law shut up and kept in ward; but Christ sets free. Law may alarm and distress the soul; it cannot deliver; yet how often God has used it to drive the labouring and heavily burdened to Him Who alone gives rest! a use rather negative than positive; for indeed its ministry is of death and condemnation. But what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God has done; for He, sending His own Son in likeness of flesh of sin and [as offering] for sin, condemned [not us, but] sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us that walk not after the flesh but the Spirit. Our Saviour annulled death and brought to light life and incorruption through the gospel.