Swear not at all — Matt. 5:17-48
The last trump — 1 Corinthians 15:52
The kingdom of heaven — Luke 16:16
Light and darkness — Zechariah 14:6-7
Did Christ call Peter Satan? — Matt. 16:22-23
Does man make a covenant in the Sacraments?
Bible Treasury Volume 4, p. 32. February 1862.
Q. In a paper entitled, "Remarks on the Gospel of Matthew, chap. 5:17-48," July number of the Bible Treasury, the writer considers our Lord's command, "Sware not at all," as not referring to judicial oaths, which latter he holds that the Christian is not absolved from, the same being administered by a magistrate, in whom, he considers, the Christian is bound to acknowledge God. Now, is the Christian equally bound to obey the civil magistrate, when summoned as a juryman to try a fellow-creature in a criminal matter, and to unite with his fellow-jurors in returning such a verdict as (if found guilty) would be the means of depriving the criminal of his life? True, it is the judge, not the jury, who passes sentence on the criminal, but the verdict of the latter determines the sentence of the former. W.B.
A. A Christian could hardly refuse to serve. It is not the same thing as to be a judge. A juryman is only called on, by authority, to state his belief of a fact; and this owns the authority, which of God has a right and is bound to enquire and bear the sword. It is of all moment that Christians should not trench on God's title to govern in the world, when pleading their Christian place. The magistrate's place is not theirs, but because they know God in theirs, they are bound to own God in the place of authority in the world. There is this double sphere. They are in one, and have intelligence and thus are called upon, to own God in the other. Refusal of oaths, as such, imposed by a magistrate is unlawful, I conceive, and unchristian, though individual conscience is to be respected. The same thing that would hinder my being a magistrate, (because it is another sphere of God's authority from that in which I am,) would make me own that authority in that place. I do not see that the magistrate goes beyond it in calling twelve men to declare their estimate, as to a fact, of the evidence which can be produced, and this is a jury. The use made of the verdict is entirely the province of the judge.
Bible Treasury Volume 4, p. 160. October 1862.
Q. 1 Corinthians 15:52. Are we necessarily to connect "the last trump" with the seventh trumpet in Rev. 11, or with 1 Thess. 4? W.
A. The seven trumpets of the Apocalypse are, in my judgment, entirely outside the trump mentioned in the Epistles, or even that which occurs in Matthew 24 and the Jewish Prophets. The Apocalyptic trumpets are symbolic, and must be interpreted in keeping with the rest of the book and their own context, as indeed the other occurrences must be also. Thus St. Paul speaks solely of the risen and changed saints, and the trump must be limited by this subject. And our Lord connects, as does Isaiah, the trumpet with the ingathering of the elect of Israel. The seven trumpet-blasts of the Revelation occur in the interval after the former and before the latter, unless the seventh be thought to synchronize with the summons to scattered Israel.
I am still of the opinion that "the last trump" of 1 Corinthians 15 is an allusion to what was then a most familiar sound in the Roman world — the final signal given for the march, after all the previous intimations for breaking up the camp had been made and complied with. The archangel's shout, as being a word of command, confirms this, I think.
Bible Treasury Volume 4, p. 288. June 1863.
Q. You say that "the kingdom of heaven cannot be dated earlier than the ascension." I had come to the conclusion that it should be dated from John the Baptist (but without including him) from these passages: "The law and the prophets were till John, since which time the kingdom of God is preached." (Luke 16:16.) "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:2.) "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God [which He did without doubt] then the kingdom of heaven is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28.) "After that John was put into prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15.)
Are not Matthew 11:12 and Matthew 12:28 (quoted above) very emphatic on the point, if they are rightly translated? — while I cannot find any passages that seem to give the ascension as the time of the introduction of the kingdom. There is also Mark 9:1: "Till they have seen the kingdom of God coming with power." Please explain.
2. Seeing that some of the same parables are spoken of with reference to the kingdom of heaven, and to the kingdom of God, why is the term "kingdom of heaven" used in Matthew, and "kingdom of God" everywhere else?
3. Is it more correct to say that unconverted professors are in the kingdom, or that they appear only as part of the kingdom? Is the "meal" only really the kingdom, the leaven being a foreign admixture? or is the whole when mixed the kingdom? Does God ever acknowledge an evil thing or an unconverted person as part of the kingdom of God? He says the kingdom of heaven is "likened to" — has the outward appearance of — so-and-so; but would He acknowledge the "fowls of the air" as a part of the kingdom, or did they merely take shelter in it? These questions are suggested by such texts as "except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." How, then, do unconverted persons get into the kingdom? While, again, we read of Christ purging out of His kingdom all things that offend, would this not include unconverted persons? Or does God sometimes speak of the kingdom from His point of view, as if Satan had never sown any tares (as in John 3) — and sometimes as it has become spoiled, by Satan?
4. Does drinking the wine new, etc., refer to the millennium? and why is it called (Matthew 26:29) "my Father's kingdom," and in Luke (22:18) "the kingdom of God?"
5. In Matthew 8:12, does not "the children of the kingdom" refer to Jews, cast out? — and in Matthew 13:38 the same phrase refer to believers? It seems to be the same in the Greek. M.
A. — 1. Neither Matthew 11:12 nor Luke 16:16 teaches more than the preaching or presenting the kingdom of heaven to faith, not that it was then actually in being or established. Hence, in the main development of its course in Matthew 13, the first parable, which refers to the Lord's own direct work, is not a likeness of that kingdom, though it was clearly work done with a view to it, as indeed John Baptist himself preached that it was at hand; and hence he is named in contradistinction to the law and the prophets. But the citation of Matthew 12:28, by its very incorrectness, confirms this and its difference from the analogous phrase. For the text speaks of the kingdom of God, not of heaven. The former was there, and evidenced to be there, when Christ was there in the mighty power which expelled the demons; the kingdom of heaven could not be till Christ went on high. Hence, from the second or wheat-field parable of Matthew 13, which shows Christ's work done by His servants after His ascension, and the enemy's counter-work, all are likenesses of the kingdom of heaven. Mark 9:1 is merely a picture or sample of the kingdom, as seen on the holy mount.
2. The true difference is, that while "kingdom of God" could be used wherever "kingdom of heaven" occurs, the converse could not be always. Hence, while Mark and Luke never use any other phrase than "the kingdom of God," Matthew sometimes uses the kingdom of God where the kingdom of heaven could not be employed. So in St. Paul's epistles we have repeatedly kingdom of "God" where "heaven" could not be substituted; especially some cases of a moral force, such as Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 4:20. To Matthew the phrase "kingdom of heaven" is peculiar, as being both drawn from Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, and, duly understood, the most decided corrective of the early thoughts of the Jews. It has a dispensational character, which "kingdom of God" does not necessarily carry.
3. John 3:3 presents "the kingdom of God" only in its full reality — Matthew 13, Matthew 18:23, etc., Matthew 20:1, etc., Matthew 25:1, etc., clearly show us profession in "the kingdom of heaven." The scandals and the doers of lawlessness have to be purged out of the kingdom where they have been.
4. The new wine drank in the "Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:29) sets forth the united joy of the Lord and of His own by and by, and in the highest part of the kingdom too, I apprehend. (Compare Matthew 13:43.) "The kingdom of God" is the generic name for every part.
5. In Matthew 8 the new form of the kingdom of heaven, which would follow the rejection of the Messiah, was not yet disclosed, but what the Old Testament spoke of. Hence "the children of the kingdom" suits the Jews as such in Matthew 8, and the children of God or Christians in Matthew 13, where the further truth is developed.
Bible Treasury Volume 4, p. 304. July 1863.
Q. What is the meaning of Zechariah 14:6-7?
A. First, there will not be the mixture of light and darkness, as now, but a special character as fixed of the Lord for the great change of dispensation, "the day of the Lord." Next, there is not to be the ordinary succession of night and day; for when the time of evening arrives, light shall prevail instead of darkness.
Q. Matthew 16:22-23. — Did Christ really call Peter Satan? or did He speak to Peter, but answer Satan? Yours, etc.,________
A. It is plain, I think, that the Lord so called Peter; not saying, "Get thee hence," as He did to the enemy personally, (Matthew 4:10,) but "Get thee behind me." This last in Luke 4:8 is an interpolation equally opposed to external and internal evidence; for there the clause is necessarily omitted, and has been clearly the mere work of scribes, designedly or not. — It is most instructive to observe how the Lord treats the flesh in a saint assuming in kindness to claim superior grace over the Spirit. We may and ought to treat it as Satan's work, as the Lord did in Peter.
Bible Treasury Volume 4, p. 336 September 1863.
Q. Does man make a covenant in the Sacraments?
A. If he does, he is lost; for he will certainly fail, and there can be no consequence of failure (for it is sin) but condemnation; for man's entering into a covenant is not grace — the grace of God. I account Baptism and the Lord's Supper to be precious institutions of the Lord Jesus — one as admitting publicly in the kingdom on the principle of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; the other, spiritual fellowship of His death in the unity of His body, as sitting by grace in heavenly places. But talking of making a covenant with God is total ignorance of the place we are in as Christians. What do such as so talk think of redemption? Where is a word found in Scripture about a covenant in connection with the Lord's Supper? The whole Christian position is therein lost, and we are put simply where a Jew under the law was — and worse; because he was placed there that we might learn that we could not possibly stand there.