Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 6, 1991.


The Eyes of All were Fastened on Him

The Rise of Clergy in Early Christianity

Christian Liberty

Studies in Luke's Gospel

The Baptism and Temptation of Christ

From Our Archive The Morning Star

News from the Field

Quotations from Scripture are generally taken either from the King James translation or Mr. J.N. Darby's translation. Quotations taken from any other translation will be indicated in the course of the article, or in a footnote to the article.

The Eyes of All were Fastened on Him

We read the above words in Luke 4:20, where we find the Lord Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth reading and explaining a Scripture concerning Himself. This Scripture presents Him as the One anointed by the Spirit of God, in whom the fulness of the grace of God was to be made known to men. Indeed, gracious words proceeded out of His mouth, so that people were amazed and fastened their eyes on Him. What a privilege for us to know the Lord Jesus who is still the same and to have occasions when we are gathered around Him and receive some fresh impressions of His blessed Person. In such cases it is not difficult for us to have the eyes of our hearts fastened on Him.

In daily life we often find ourselves in circumstances which are completely different. Difficulties sometimes surround us like "wind and waves". They can surround us in such a way that our eyes are no longer fixed on Him but on them, as was the case with Peter when he was coming to the Lord on the water. In the epistle to the Hebrews we find believers in such difficulties. They were in "a great fight of afflictions" (Hebrews 10:32), because they had to suffer persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus. To encourage them the inspired writer turns their eyes four times on Him.

In Hebrews 2:9 we read, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour". He, who had to suffer as Man on earth like none else, is now at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour. We do not see all things put under Him yet that will be the case in the millennium. But already now He has the place of glory and honour. All power is given unto Him in heaven and on earth. In Hebrews 2 we find the same glorification of Jesus as in John 13:32 where we read: "God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him". God did not wait for the kingdom to glorify His Son. His work was too precious to admit a delay and so God placed Him at His right hand. There we see Jesus now. What an encouragement for every believer. We see Jesus, who is already crowned with glory and honour and who will bring many sons to glory. If our hands are hanging down and our knees are feeble, as was the case with the Hebrew believers, let us look at Him!

In Hebrews 3:1 we find the words, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus". If we go through this epistle we find the glory of the Lord displayed in its many aspects. In chapters 1 and 2 we find His personal glory as Son of God and Son of man. But we find also His official glories, as in the verse above. He is the Apostle, the One sent from God; bringing God's Word to men, and the High Priest, the One interceding for men before God. He is the One Mediator. Let us consider Him. If we want to know the glory before us we look on Jesus, the glorified Man in heaven. If we want to know how God spoke to men we consider Him, the Apostle of our profession. If we need comfort on our way we consider Him, the High Priest of God, who passed through all the difficulties we can meet in our lives. If we want to be a worshipper of God let us consider His moral beauty and glory. In Hebrews 7:4 we read, "Consider how great this man was". If that could be said of one that was typical of Him, how much more of His Person, of whom the types are speaking!

Finally we read in Hebrews 12:13, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds". In these verses we have the picture of an arena we have the witnesses (the believers of Old Testament times as presented in Hebrews 11), we have the race with its hindrances, and we have a mark Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith. To get the needed strength for the walk of faith our eyes have to be fixed on Jesus on Him who went before us in this race (the Author of faith) and Him who will bring us also to the end (the Finisher of faith). As He, when He was down here, looked forward to the joy following His sufferings, so we should fix our eyes on Him and the coming glory. But that is not all. We need also to consider Him who lived here as Man. Jesus had to endure much opposition from sinners when He was on earth and has given us an example, that we should follow His steps. In this twofold way we have to consider Jesus.

Going back to the gospels, we see that on several occasions people who knew the Lord Jesus failed to see or recognize Him, especially after His resurrection. What difficulty we often have in knowing Christ in resurrection! It is thus worthwhile to consider those scenes and to note the moral condition of hearts and what the Lord did in these cases in order that those who belonged to Him might know Him.

The first scene is found in Matthew 14 where the Lord had gone up into a mountain apart to pray, while the disciples were at sea, struggling in the storm. In our considerations here this is the only scene that takes place before the cross and the resurrection of Christ, but in picture it speaks plainly of the position Christ has taken now in heaven. In verse 25 we read: "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid". The condition of the disciples was that of desperation. Wind and waves were surrounding them. How did they come into such a situation? In verse 22 we read: "Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side". He had sent them; He allowed difficulties to come up as they did! Oh, if we meet problems in the way the Lord has sent us, we can be of good cheer, because He never forgets His own but comes to stay with them, as He came to help the disciples. But they did not recognize Him. Is that not something we experience also? The problems are so big that we do not recognize the Lord coming to help us. What does the Lord do then? He says: "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid". Wonderful words! Oh, we find this "be not afraid" so often in Scripture! It contains such an encouragement. And He is still the same, the I am, the Eternal, the Son of God! May we also worship Him as the disciples did afterwards and say: "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God!"

The next scene is found in Luke 24. There we have those two disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about the things which had happened in Jerusalem, Then verse 15 says, "And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know Him". Here we have two disappointed and dejected souls. This disappointment was the fruit of their having cherished expectations which were not warranted by the Word of God. They expected the glory of Christ without His sufferings. How easily we can be in a similar condition if things do not happen as we have expected! What does the Lord do then? Does He reveal Himself to them directly as the risen One? No, He turns their eyes to the Scriptures! They had to believe all that the prophets had said. How important for us also if we are disappointed. Let us take again our Bibles to ponder the things concerning Himself! How wonderful is the result. "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" The Lord is still the same who can revive our souls from disappointment to joy, so that we echo the words of the two disciples and say, "Abide with us".

Then we have the case of Mary in John 20. She is at the tomb of the Lord weeping, because she can no longer enjoy the fellowship with Him as before the cross. (Have we ever wept because we missed communion with the Lord as Mary did?). Then we read in verse 14, "She turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God". In Mary we find a sorrowful and depressed soul. Without the Lord her life is empty. Her eyes are full of tears so that she does not recognize Jesus. How marvelous is the way in which the Lord reveals Himself to her. First of all He shows His sympathy for her by His questions. He wants her to tell Him about her affliction. Then He calls Mary by her name and as one of His sheep she immediately recognized His voice. Lastly He teaches her, explaining to her the wonderful relationship into which she and all His brethren are brought with Him and the Father in consequence of His work. Today as Christians we do not know Christ after the flesh, but we know Him who is now in heavenly glory. If on earth we pass through sorrow and death we know that we can not be separated from Him, a fact of immense value. But in addition the Lord establishes our relationship to God the Father. What the Father is to the Son, He is also to the sons; and what He is as God to the blessed Man who has put away sin, such He is and nothing less to those whose sins have been put away. The Lord has not only revealed God as Father, but He has brought us also into relationship with Him as such by His work and in resurrection. What encouragement we find in these words of the Lord, if we are depressed and our hearts grieved. Let us think again of this wonderful relationship into which we are brought.

Finally, we have seven disciples of the Lord fishing, in John 21. Although they fished the whole night, we read, "That night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No. And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes". The moral reason why these disciples did not recognize the Lord was that they were too occupied with their work. Perhaps this condition comes nearest to most of us. We often do not see the Lord because we are too occupied, perhaps even with Christian work. The question of the Lord is very challenging: "Children, have ye any meat?" That is the way the Lord touches their hearts. He shows them the fruitlessness of their labour. They were not called by the Lord to fish that night. After the Lord had given command they caught a multitude of fish. They had to learn again that He is the Lord. John recognized Him first in this character. He said, "It is the Lord". May He give us that we learn to do every work with Him. If we do it, we will certainly recognize Him also in our work by His actions, which are always wonderful.

May the Lord Jesus find us in our daily lives as those whose eyes are fastened on Him, that He may look down on us as those in whom He can find delight and rest during the time of His rejection. B.S.

The Rise of Clergy in Early Christianity


In this article we will study the question of how and when clergy arose among the early Christians and on what Scriptural base. This will be preceded by a survey of New Testament data so that we can observe how the Lord Jesus Christ intended to direct the universal assembly and the local assemblies. Do we find in the New Testament something like clergy or clergymen ruling the laity? Did the apostles ordain some system of succession or did they give completely different instructions for the future?

The New Testament Assembly

It is important to see that the first time the assembly is mentioned it is called by the Lord "My assembly" (Matthew 16:18). Later on, after His glorification, He identifies Himself totally with it when presenting Himself to Saul as "Jesus, whom thou persecutest" (Acts 9:5), although Saul intended to persecute the Christians, not the Christ. The expression "the assembly of Christ" does not occur in Scripture though in Romans 16:16 Paul speaks in the plural of "all assemblies of Christ". The most frequently used designation is "the assembly of God" (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Cor. 10:32; 1 Cor. 11:22; 1 Cor. 15:9; 1 Timothy 3:5, 15 and twice in the plural, 1 Corinthians 11:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Our conclusion must be that the assembly is not presented to us as an independent and self-supporting company. Divine Persons claim it as their property and this will have very practical consequences!

The relationship between Christ or God and the assembly is illustrated by three well known figures in Paul's epistles:

a) the assembly seen as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5);

b) the assembly seen as the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1 and 4; Colossians 1; 1 Corinthians 10 and 12);

c) the assembly seen as the House of God (Ephesians 2; 1 Corinthians 3; 2 Corinthians 6; 1 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 2).

For our subject the figures b and c are particularly important, because they instruct us about the divine guidance and authority given from above in respect of the assembly while still on earth. We will study therefore the gifts, given for the growth and health of the Body, and the offices, instituted for the order of the House. It is necessary to distinguish carefully between the gifts and the offices. Gifts can indicate the persons themselves, or the spiritual qualifications of the persons. In Ephesians 4:10-11 we find apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, given by the glorified Lord "with a view to the edifying of the body of Christ". The Body is universal and so are the gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 we have as persons apostles, prophets, teachers all given or "set" by God and as qualifications miraculous powers, gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues (compare Romans 12:68). Paul, for example, was "teacher of the nations" (2 Timothy 1:11) and could say "according as I teach everywhere in every assembly" (1 Corinthians 4:17). As to offices we find persons ordained to be elders (Gr presbuteroi) or overseers (Gr. episkopoi). It is interesting to see that these are designations of persons having one and the same office. In Acts 20:17 Paul calls for the elders of the assembly at Ephesus but when they had come to him at Miletus he addresses them in verse 28 as "overseers" and exhorts them moreover to take heed to themselves and to all the flock wherein, he says, "the Holy Spirit has set you as overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God, which He has purchased with the blood of His own". This passage is very instructive. We can conclude that God "set" the gifts in the Body of Christ and that the Holy Spirit "set" officers in the assembly of God. The elders or overseers were in, not above the assembly; they had a special responsibility to shepherd not their own, but God's assembly. This has nothing to do with ordination; the word 'to set" (Gr. titheemi and sometimes tithenai) points more to charging a certain service or activity to a person than to ordaining him in an official office (cf. the disciples, John 15:16; Paul, 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:11; Christ, Hebrews 1:2). That the elders in Ephesus had actually been ordained by Timothy as the apostle Paul's delegate we may conclude from 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:17.

We find assemblies then in which elders have been ordained by the apostles or by their delegates but never by the assemblies themselves. In Acts 14:23 we read that Paul and Barnabas (also an apostle, Acts 14:4 and 14) chose elders for the believers in each assembly, i.e. in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. Titus also had to establish elders in each city in Crete as Paul ordered him (Titus 1:5). Our conclusion must be that the activity of the elders in Scripture is restricted to the local assemblies and that their ordination presupposes the authority of the apostles or their delegates. We do not find any activity of the assemblies in this matter, which illustrates the divine principle that authority comes from above. There seems to have existed one exception to this rule that assemblies had no influence in matters of ordination: the deacons. In Acts 6 the local assembly chose the seven men but they set them before the apostles who established them over this business and laid their hands on them (verses 37). Concerning the role of the assembly we can only speak of influence, not of ordination. In 2 Corinthians 8:19 we find a brother chosen by the assemblies as the fellow-traveller of Paul to bring money to the saints in Jerusalem; but this had nothing to do with an official ordination. The assemblies had given the money and therefore they were allowed to chose someone they trusted to bring their gift to Jerusalem.

Apostolic Succession

In the New Testament we have seen the principle: no ordination without apostles or their delegates. What should happen then in the time when the apostles would no longer be on earth? Do the Scriptures contain a procedure to choose or to ordain new apostles? It will be clear that this is not the case. God Himself was the giver of the apostles whose main characteristic was that they had seen the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1) and whose service was connected with signs and wonders and works of power (2 Corinthians 12:12). They had laid, together with the New Testament prophets, the foundation (Ephesians 2:20) and in their teaching the saints persevered (Acts 2:42). For the future the assemblies were not to be dependent on successors of the apostles. The apostles themselves pointed another way: the Word of God. When Paul left the elders of Ephesus he committed them to God and to the Word of His grace and not to a new apostle (Acts 20:32). Peter did the same: the believers should, after his departure, "call to mind these things" (2 Peter 1:15). With an eye on a dark future he tells them "to be mindful to the words spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the Lord and Saviour by your apostles" (2 Peter 3:2). Also John said similar things: "As for you let that which ye have heard from the beginning abide in you" (1 John 2:24).

After the apostles: the Second Century

It is striking that the situation we find completely differs from what we would expect on the basis of the preceding lines. Saints did not look for a Scriptural foundation as to the actual organisation of the church; the New Testament seems not to have had any practical authority in this respect. Neither did anyone understand that the way things were rapidly changing could not stand the test of Holy Writ.

In the middle of the second century a substantially uniform pattern of local ministry developed throughout the Christian world. In each city the Christians followed one principal leader and pastor, called the bishop (Gr. episkopos, the "overseer"). He

worked together with some colleagues, the elders or presbyters (Gr. presbuteroi) and was assisted by several deacons (Gr. diakonoi) who served him in his administrative and pastoral functions. It is not easy to explain how this could happen. Let us look at some contemporary documents.


In AD 96 the Corinthians received a letter, commonly called "1 Clement", which shows how soon the path of the New Testament authors was abandoned. There were troubles in the church at Corinth about the bishop's office, which necessitated that the bishop of Rome, Clement, write a letter about this matter to the Corinthians. In chapter 42 and 44 he writes (translation Lightfoot):

So preaching everywhere in country and town, they (= the apostles, GHK) appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. And this they did in no new fashion: for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scripture in a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith" (inaccurate quotation from Isaiah 60:17: LXX, GHK).

( … )

44. And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop's office. For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons (= the bishops and deacons of chapter 42, GHK), and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were appointed by them, or afterwards by other men of repute with the consent of the whole church, and have ministered unblameably to the flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration. For it will be no light sin for us, if we thrust out those who have offered the gifts of the bishop's office unblameably and holily. Blessed are those presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their departure was fruitful and ripe: for they have no fear lest anyone should remove them from their appointed place. For we see that ye have displaced certain persons, though they were living honourably, from the ministration which they had respected blamelessly.

Here already we find three characteristics of the post-apostolic church:

1. The application of Old Testament prophecy to the church; there was a failure to see the difference between Israel and the church;

2. The idea that the apostles themselves instituted the system of apostolic succession;

3. The idea of influence ("consent") of the whole church concerning the appointment of bishops.

It is interesting that Clement still knew of only two offices, i.e. those of bishop and of deacon. In his letter presbyter and bishop are still used as interchangeable words for the same office. Compare for this two fold structure of office, bishop and deacon, Philippians 1:1.

THE "DIDAKEE" (= TEACHING) OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES, dating from the beginning of the second century, contains some practical instructions "for the gentiles", i.e. the gentile churches. Here too we find, as in 1 Clement, the twofold structure of office. In chapter 15, 12 the author writes as follows (translation GHK):

Ye should choose therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons, worthy of the Lord, meek men, not fond of money, true and proved; because they also serve you in the service of prophets and teachers. So do not overlook them, for they are your honoured ones together with the prophets and teachers.

Again we see the idea of apostolic succession: the bishops are chosen or appointed by the church, together with the deacons (cf. 1 Timothy 3). The author also fails to see the difference between gifts and offices: he speaks about bishops and deacons (officers, functioning locally) serving as prophets and teachers (gifts, operating universally), although there also seems to have existed a more specific group of prophets and teachers separately.


The letters of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, are interesting documents. During a persecution in his city he was sentenced to death. This sentence would have been carried out in Rome in the year AD 110, when the persecution itself had already passed. He

had to travel from Antioch to Rome and during this trip he passed through Asia Minor and visited the churches in Philadelphia, Sardis and Smyrna. In Smyrna moreover he had an interview with delegates from the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia and Tralles and wrote letters to these churches and to the church of Rome. When he came to Troas, in the north of Macedonia, he also sent letters to the churches in Philadelphia and Smyrna and to Polycarpus, bishop of Symrna.

When we compare his letters we see that things were changing in a certain direction. He presupposes a threefold structure of office: one bishop at the head of a local church, and several elders and deacons. This ministerial structure came to prevail in all the churches in the second century. There was a natural evolution of the twofold into the threefold structure of office, because Ignatius did not condemn the twofold structure expressis verbis. As a kind of foundation of the new situation he pointed to the essential unity of the church; he wrote to the Philadelphians in chapter 4 (translation Lightfoot):

Be ye careful therefore to observe one eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in His blood, there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons …

Compare also chapter 7:

l cried out, when I was among you; I spake with a loud voice, with God's own voice. Give ye heed to the bishop and the presbytery and deacons. Howbeit there were those who suspected me of saying this, because I knew beforehand of the division of certain persons. But He in whom I am bound is my witness that I learned it not from flesh or man; it was the preaching of the Spirit who spake on this wise; Do nothing without the bishop; keep your flesh as a temple of God, cherish union; shun divisions; be imitators of Jesus Christ, as He Himself also was of His Father.

Mind that Ignatius speaks of the Spirit as his source, not the Scriptures! The stressed supremacy of the bishop is remarkable, whom he seems to compare with God Himself, as we also find elsewhere in his letters: the bishop must be seen as God Himself, as presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles (to the Magnesians, chapter 6). Ignatius describes him as the central figure of church life in his letter to the Smyrnaeans, chapter 8:

Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the church apart from the bishop. Let that be held a valid eucharist which is under the bishop or one to whom he shall have committed it. Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a lovefeast; but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which ye do may be sure and valid.

The bishop seems also to have played a role when people got married; in his letter to Polycarp he writes:

It becometh men and women, when they marry, to unite themselves with the consent of the bishop, that the marriage may be after the Lord and not after concupiscence (chapter 5).

One can define the role of the bishop more and more as an intermediatory one, at the cost of the activity and spontaneity of the members of the flock. It is impossible to quote all the passages in the letters of Ignatius where he underlines the necessity to obey the bishop in everything and to honour him. In the abundance of these exhortations we may see an indication that the supremacy of the bishops over the local churches was by no means generally accepted. Nevertheless people got used to the existence of the growing class of "specialists" in the churches and to the authority executed by them. Hence in the second century we see the rise of what is generally called "clergy". This word is derived from the Greek word kleeros, the plural of which we find in 1 Peter 5:3: "(2) shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising oversight, not by necessity, but willingly; not for base gain, but readily; (3) not as lording it over your possessions (= kleroi), but being models for the flock". These "kleroi" are here the elect body, or rather bodies, seen as God's heritage, in contrast to those who had spiritual oversight over them. It is thus very striking that Scripture uses this word in a context that explicitly warns against assuming a place in which the ministers have put themselves. The present use of the word "clergy" points to the substitution of ministers in the place of the church of God. In Scripture the use of the word "clergy" is applied to what men have called the laity. That is God's Clergy!

The Third Century

We have seen that the rise of clergy took place in the second century. In the third century the church and its clergy became more and more powerful. The local churches increased in number and so did the clergy. The idea of more than one bishop in one city seems not to have occurred, although it would have been more in accordance with Scripture. Eusebius, who became bishop of Caesarea in 314, wrote in his Ecclesiastical History (quoting from the third book of Irenaeus against Heresies) that Polycarpus, who died in 166/7, was not only instructed by apostles and conversed with many who had seen the Lord, but was also appointed bishop by apostles in Asia in the church in Smyrna. The idea of the one bishop in a city was in this manner traced back to apostolic times, though Scripture itself speaks against this. What we find is an increasing number of presbyters. They became more and more important as the representatives of the bishops at local gatherings for instruction and, ultimately, for the celebration of the eucharist. The presbyters became responsible for the neighbourhood assemblies in a large city, although within the bishop's charge.

It is in the third century that we see the beginnings of an organization of the church above the local level. In the preceding century there had already been councils of bishops on a regional basis, debating about the Montanist crisis in Asia Minor and about the date of Easter. These councils became more and more usual.

The bishops also cooperated to appoint new bishops. Bishops were chosen by the local congregation and consequently appointed by the neighbouring bishops who laid their hands on their new colleague. Eusebius tells us how in 230 the bishops of Caesarea and Jerusalem together ordained Origenes to the presbytery by laying on of hands (Eccl. Hist. VI 8:4); some years before, in about 215, the bishops of these two cities "requested" him to discourse and expound the divine Scriptures publicly in the church", although he had not yet received ordination to the presbytery (Eccl. Hist. VI 19, 16). New tasks and new ministers appeared on the scene: Eusebius quotes from a letter of Cornelius, bishop of Rome in the middle of the third century, informing us concerning the clerical system in Rome. There was 1 bishop, and there were 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, 52 exorcists, readers and doorkeepers (Ecc. Hist. VI 43:11). These developments did not only take place in Asia Minor and in Europe but also in North Africa; on this continent there were bishops in about 200 cities at the end of the third century.

The Fourth Century

Under the emperor Constantine the Great (305-337) Christianity became favoured and under Theodosius the Great (379-395) the state religion. It was inevitable that under such circumstances the clergy should occupy a privileged position. In 313 Constantine the Great exempted them from munera, personal services to the state without compensation (Eus., Eccl. Hist. X 7). The most expensive of these charges were the upkeep of the public post and the furnishing of quarters (hospitium) and rendering other services in connection with movements of troops, officials and supplies. In 319 Constantine exempted the clergy from taxation too, so that all their attention could be paid to the duties of their office. In addition to their authority in dogma and church discipline the bishops also acquired considerable power in secular affairs. During the periods of persecution in the third century many Christians had regularly submitted legal differences to the arbitration of their bishops, rather than resort to tribunals of state. Constantine the Great gave legal sanction to episcopal arbitration in civil cases. The local church was now recognized as a corporation which could own property. The bishop and his deacons became administrators of extensive properties.

But also within the church things changed. Some bishops exerted spiritual authority over surrounding areas so that a system of mother and daughter churches came into being. The bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople were now metropolities, which means that they were recognized (by the Council of Nicaea in 325) as preeminent in their own areas. Meanwhile the growth in the authority of the bishop of Rome WAS of vital significance. In Rome the bishop claimed the primacy not because of the status of his city in the empire, which was seen as an historical accident, but asserted that Rome's position was due to its bishop's position as successor to Peter, seen as the founder of the Roman church, on whom Christ had promised He would build His church. This view, though not for some time accepted even in the West, was the foundation for the eventual supremacy of the bishop of Rome in the Middle Ages.


The late third and early fourth century saw the beginnings of monasticism (from the Gr. monos, "alone"), which became so marked a feature of the religious life of the Middle Ages. It originated in the ascetic tendencies of early Christianity and may have been an expression of despair about social and economic conditions on the one hand and on the other a longing for a pure Christianity and a deep communion with God which they considered unattainable in the existing churches. The chief characteristics of early Christian monasticism were celibacy, fasting, prayer, surrender of worldly goods and the adoption of a hermit's life. This way of life developed in Egypt at the edge of the desert or in oases. Although he may not have been the earliest, Antony, an Egyptian peasant, was the first famous hermit, who started his monastic career in 285. His life, written by Athanasius, had a great influence on others, who followed his example. In this way unregulated monastic communities arose spontaneously out of loosely associated groups. From these unregulated colonies gradually evolved an organized form of monasticism, whose members lived a common life within a walled enclosure under the direction of new type of cleric, the abbot, who enforced rules governing their religious life and daily labour. This communal monasticism was begun about 320 by Pachomius, a converted soldier, who after discharge spent some time as a hermit before setting up his first ascetic community in upper Egypt. His "rule" of monastic life was widely adopted. He also opposed extremism by insisting on regular meals and worship and aimed to make his communities self-supporting through such industries as the weaving of palm mats or growing fruit and vegetables for sale.

We have seen that monasticism arose first out of eastern Christianity. But also in the West monasticism had the backing of church leaders such as Ambrose (who died in 397) from the very beginning. In this way it spread to Italy, Gaul and other parts of the western empire. Benedict became famous, founder of the monastery at Monte Cassino about 520. The Benedictine rule required monks to read as well as to work and to worship. This stimulated the collection of libraries in the monasteries and made the monks guardians of classical and biblical literature through the Middle Ages.

The Eastern monks were especially noted for their fanaticism. Everywhere the abuses of early unregulated monastic life led to attempts to subject those monks who were not regular clergy to the authority of bishops. In Asia Minor it was Basil himself a bishop (370) and an ascetic who integrated the monastic communities more closely with the church. He believed the bishop should have ultimate authority over a monastery. His rule also, which discouraged excessive asceticism and stressed study and useful labour, became very popular.


We have seen that in Christianity little was left of the sound teaching of the apostles. Our story is actually a very sad one. One remark should be added, however. Systems and ways of thinking have been criticized, not persons. We are not able or allowed to judge hearts and motives, but we have felt obliged to judge words and practices. And for all the days of Christianity, past, present and future, we may know that what Paul wrote to Timothy a very long time ago remains true: "Yet the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those that are His". In this article we have been occupied with the other side of the same seal: "Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19). May the Lord give us His grace to bear this responsibility, until He come!

G. H. Kramer.

Christian Liberty

Christ has set us free in freedom Galatians 5:1. This is real liberty. Of course the Christian will shortly enjoy the liberty of the glory Romans 8:21, but it is our privilege to know liberty now. The TRUTH sets us free, John 8:32, and if the Son sets us free, we are free indeed John 8:36. We read also that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty 2 Corinthians 3:17.

The Galatian error was to mix law and grace and it brings souls into bondage. Having begun in the Spirit were they to be made perfect in the flesh? We do well to remind ourselves as to the dimensions of this difficulty, and how widespread is the error. Paul, in his missionary journeys, was frequently in collision with the Jews. In his epistles he constantly does battle with their teaching, e.g. in Corinthians, Colossians, Timothy, Hebrews, at some length, and there are smaller references elsewhere. In Galatians his tone is most severe. For teachers who encroach on Christian liberty, let them be accursed! The problem, (need we say it?), is not limited to history. That which professes the Name of Christ on every hand is largely judaised; and to complete the picture, we all carry the principles of the law, "the elements of the world" in our own hearts.

The purpose of this paper is to focus on a Scriptural situation where the Galatian error is the central consideration: the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). In order properly to understand the council of Acts 15 it is necessary to look at the two assemblies concerned, in Antioch and in Jerusalem. The assembly in Antioch was a predominantly GENTILE assembly. We read of its formation and growth in Acts 11:19-26. Following the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7) there was a persecution with scattering of the saints to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, the Word going to none but the Jews. But some of them, from Cyprus and Cyrene (North Africa), when they came to Antioch, preached also to the Gentiles; and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. The news of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas, and when he came to Antioch, he saw the grace of God and was glad. We cannot pause and admire the features which came to light in this man. "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord". May we not say, "praise the Lord and Lord, raise up some more like him in our day!" Well, Barnabas took account of the work, remembered Saul with whom he had already had dealings (Acts 9:27) and departed to Tarsus, which is not far away, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. This set in motion twelve months of most successful teaching and the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:16). This is not quite the end of this story. It was in Antioch that the Holy Ghost said, "Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". Paul's first missionary journey began and ended in Antioch. In summary then we can say that Antioch was a predominantly GENTILE assembly with the Apostle Paul, apostle of the uncircumcision, held in high esteem and affection.

The assembly at Jerusalem, on the other hand, was almost exclusively JEWISH. Jerusalem was the place where the Lord had been pleased to put His Name. The temple was there. For centuries Jews from every quarter came to Jerusalem for the festivals. They still do. With the advent of Christianity we read that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7), and when Paul came to Jerusalem for the last time (Acts 21:20) they said to him "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law." Peter, the apostle of the circumcision was in Jerusalem, John also, and it seems James was something of a leader in the church. If these two assembly situations are kept clearly in mind it goes a long way to understanding the significance, and also the triumph of the important council in Acts 15.

In Acts 15:1 we read of certain men who came down from Judea teaching that "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses ye cannot be saved". Well can we understand that there was no small discussion and disputation. How thankful we can be that there were apostles in Antioch to handle this matter. Yet, although an apostle, and that to the uncircumcision, Paul was not allowed to silence these teachers. Had he done so there would have been peace doubtless, but also the very real possibility of a division in the church, a Gentile assembly in Antioch with Paul as the leader, and a Jewish assembly in Jerusalem with Peter, or perhaps James as the leader. The Lord however loves His people too much to allow such a division and we read that it was "determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem" the very centre from which these troublers came "unto the apostles and elders, about this question". It is at this point we must bring in the additional details of Galatians 2. There we learn that Paul went up "by revelation", no new form of communication for Paul! He was clearly moving with God and it is a pleasure to see the success and ease with which this journey. was accomplished, Acts 15:3, "being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles" (as they could do after Paul's first missionary journey) "and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem" … here we revert again to Galatians 2, "I communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles; but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain". When they (that is James, Cephas and John) "who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision".

The opposition party now appears. In Galatians 2:4 we read of "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage". Certain of the Pharisees who believed (Acts 15:5) were also saying that it was needful to circumcise the converts and to command them to keep the law of Moses. To both of these groups Paul says "we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour", and Titus the Greek, whom Paul had taken with them, was not compelled to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3). The apostles and elders, in a full assembly meeting, then came together to consider the matter. There was much disputing, but then Peter stood up (Acts 15:7) and recounted the events of Acts 10, in the conversion of Cornelius, a story he had already told in Jerusalem (Acts 11). "Now therefore" he says "why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" Then all the multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul as they declared (verse 12) the miracles and wonders which God had wrought among the Gentiles by them, a recitation doubtless of what we read of in Acts 13 and 14. Thus when they were finished James gives the summing up (verses 13-21) giving quotes from Old Testament Scriptures to confirm that what the Lord was now doing was in accord with what had already been foretold long before, that God would visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name. Doubtless this is a model brothers' meeting, beginning with tumult and ending in peace, the reverse sadly of what has too often been proved in brothers' meetings since that time! Here at least (Acts 15) there was peace, and we notice that letters were written and sent by chosen men to Antioch. The wording here should not be overlooked "the apostles and elders, with the whole church (verse 22). It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord (verse 25). It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us" (verse 28).

We can well understand why such a letter, sent by, and with, such apostles and brethren, men that had hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (verse 26) supported too by chief men among the brethren (verse 22), rejoiced the hearts of the brethren and we read the multitude gathered together "rejoiced for the consolation". (verse 31).


Studies in Luke's Gospel

The Baptism and Temptation of Christ

(A Bible reading at the Findochty conference in September 1991)

Luke 3:21-22; Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:16-18; Hebrews 4:14-16

Our time is a little limited this afternoon but I think we ought to cast our eyes back to the passage in which we find the record of the Lord's baptism. We get mention of the baptism in John. John the Baptist is the witness of it. He saw the Spirit descending upon Him and abiding. It is what John the Baptist saw. The baptism is the beginning of the Lord's public ministry. It is the point Peter mentions in the book of Acts. That "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38). This is what we seem to have at the baptism. It is recorded in all four gospels. It is important to see that the Lord is stepping out in public ministry here upon earth. I would like to stress that it is the first occasion in Luke where we get the Lord praying. He prayed at the baptism. On a number of occasions we get Him praying in Luke's gospel. This is significant so far as the perfect Man is concerned. He was a Man that prayed. At every point in His life, every important decision, every exigency. How marvelous. He is the One who could say, "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the instructed" (Isaiah 50:4). In Luke's gospel He is found praying a number of times. This comes out first at the Lord's baptism.

That would indicate that He was a dependent Man. It is interesting that on each occasion when He prayed we get the reason why He was praying in the context, and it comes out clearly that He was a dependent Man.

Another point is the striking way in which the Father speaks personally to the Son here at the baptism. In Matthew's gospel} the words of the Father have more the character of a testimony. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17), whereas in Luke it is the Father addressing the Lord Jesus personally and saying "Thou art My beloved Son". He does so in Mark as well, where the perfect servant is addressed. We have to remember that His baptism, while it looked forward to His public ministry, also referred back to the hidden life of 30 years. We have little record of what took place during those 30 years but we can conclude that the whole of those 30 years were lived in absolute perfection. There was moral worth and beauty from start to finish and it is then that the Father's voice is heard saying, "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased".

Yes, that is very apparent when you look at the literal or New Translation where it says "In Thee I have found My delight", which obviously is looking back. While there is little record of what took place in those hidden years there are some things we can say about them. Firstly they are not lost and secondly there are two comments in Scripture about them which though brief are tremendously weighty and full. One of these is from the Lord's lips when He says, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business" (Luke 2:49); words that emphasize His unswerving devotion in a world where to a greater or lesser degree all had swerved. Then at the other end of those 30 years, in a world where one had been sought who did His will without swerving, the Father's voice is heard saying "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased".

The words you have referred to in Luke 2 are the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus in Luke's gospel. Being that they are very significant as covering the whole of the gospel. He was here to do the Father's business.

Both these references also reflect what is at the very heart of Christianity, that is relationships. The character of the revelation is that of relationships which have existed from all eternity. The words that were so frequently on the Lord's lips in this world were 'My Father', and here we have the Father's voice saying, "My beloved Son".

Just one little point for the encouragement of any who take up any service for the Lord. In Mark's gospel it says a delightful thing about the Lord. It says "He saw the heavens opened" (Mark 1:10). This is recorded in Mark and there is the One who is the perfect servant who goes forward in His service drinking in and drawing on all the resources of heaven. We cannot but think of another servant, not altogether like the Lord but another servant, who could say "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). Oh, how blessed that in the gospel which tells us about the perfect servant we read that "He saw the heavens opened".

You referred to Peter in Acts 10. Peter emphasised the tremendous resources that were available to the Lord as He embarked on His pathway. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power and God was with Him. These were the resources He had as He set out on His public pathway.

Just before the Lord embarked on His public service and in tandem with the temptations, it is significant that at the baptism the perfect Man identified Himself with that on earth which was of God and the Father was happy to identify Himself with the Son. It would be well to establish this point, that when the Lord was baptised He took His place with the godly remnant who were submitting to the baptism of John. To take up the words used later on they didn't reject "the council of God against themselves" but they "justified God, being baptised with the baptism of John" (Luke 7:29-30). Yet He identified Himself with them. Although He was sinless, holy, altogether apart from any sin, yet He identified Himself with the godly remnant that were being baptised by John.

This is one of those happy occasions where we see the Godhead working harmoniously in pursuing the will of God. To repeat the words of another, the Father was heard and not seen, the Spirit was seen and not heard but the Son was both seen and heard.

So far as the Lord's temptations in this passage are concerned, they do seem to be connected with His baptism. Having been anointed with the Holy Spirit, He goes on to be tested by the devil. We don't get these temptations in John, not really, but we do in Mark, just briefly suggested, and in Matthew and Luke more fully. There are practical lessons for us lying on the surface of the temptations and it would be wrong if we didn't take them to heart. It is also of great importance that we get a right understanding of the teaching of the verses at the end of Hebrews 2 and Hebrews 4. Before we go on I would like to say a little about the differences between Luke and Matthew in order to throw into relief what Luke is all about. Luke puts events in a moral order. Quite often he goes outside the historic order. The record of the temptations is an outstanding example of this. They are not in the same order in Luke as in the gospel of Matthew. The probability is that Matthew gives these temptations in the historic order whereas Luke gives them in a moral order. Matthew gives the one about turning the stones to bread first. Then the one where the Lord was asked to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple, and thirdly the one where He is called to worship Satan. That is the order of the temptations in Matthew. It is different in Luke, where the moral sequence of events is given rather than the historic sequence.

Could we say too that in Matthew He is carried up into the wilderness by the Spirit. In Mark He is driven into the wildness and in Luke He is led into the wilderness. There is a reason for these different presentations. Carried indicates what is connected with the King. As a bondservant He is driven to a place of service and here as a humble and dependent Man He is led to a place of tempting.

When you say a moral order in Luke, would you link it with the third chapter of Genesis?

I would and particularly with 1 John 2 which also gives a moral sequence and lines up with Luke's gospel. If we look at 1 John 2, John talks of all that belongs to the world. The world is this, he says, "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). That order lines up with the order of the temptations in the fourth chapter of Luke. The stones being made bread, that would be the lust of the flesh. He was shown all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, that would be the lust of the eyes. His casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, that would be the pride of life.

Isn't Luke the only evangelist that says that He was full of the Holy Spirit? He was the perfect Man, the suitable vessel.

Yes, Luke is the only writer apart from Paul who speaks of being filled with or full of the Holy Spirit. Paul uses the expression once in the epistle to the Ephesians. Luke uses the expression a number of times in Acts and in his gospel. Paul says, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). If I want to be a believer living here for the Lord's pleasure I can only do it in the power of the Spirit of God. There is no other way. How striking that all that the perfect Man did was in the power of the Spirit.

Any man who is under the influence of the Holy Spirit will be obedient to Him.

Yes, we will see that later on.

Luke has already said of a good woman that she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). Luke has already said of a good man that he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67). So when he comes to the perfect Man he also says full of the Holy Spirit.

So this is an example for resisting or overcoming the devil.

Yes, this is what I had in mind when I suggested we should gain some practical lessons from the passage. But what is the link with Genesis 3, already referred to?

Well, the woman saw that the tree was good for food, the lust of the flesh, that it was pleasant to the eyes, the lust of the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise, the pride of life. (Genesis 3:6).

The first man faced with temptation succumbed to it, the second Man was triumphant over it.

Yet the circumstances were exactly opposite. One was in a garden which was well endowed with all that could satisfy. The blessed Lord Jesus was in a wilderness and we see what sin had brought

This comes out also in the gospel of Mark. He was with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). What a terrible place it must have been.

With the Lord it was once for all. He was full of the Holy Spirit. With us it is a continual filling.

It is an exhortation in Ephesians. "Be filled with the Spirit".

As far as I have been able to trace there are nine individuals in Scripture referred to as being filled with the Spirit, the fullness of God in operation. The first temptation had a particular appeal to the body. The second temptation had a particular appeal to the soul. The third temptation had a particular appeal to the spirit. The temptations were full and entire.

They touched Him in every part of His being. When the Lord Jesus entered into the scene of temptation, He did so as coming from the baptism. The Father's voice had been heard expressing His great pleasure in Him because for 30 years He had beheld a perfect and dependent Man. This perfect and dependent Man was put to the test here in the temptation. In the years prior to His coming into this scene man had been tried and tested. An independent man had been tried and failed, but here is a most remarkable thing a dependent Man is put to the test in these temptations and triumphs. It shows us that if we would triumph in the scene of temptation and trial it can only be in the way of dependence. The first thing that comes out here is the principle of dependence. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God". What a message to us. Afterward He hungered. When the devil came to tempt Him He was hungry, but He met the situation by dependence. He quotes Himself, as it is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God". This is surely an example to us in the pathway of trial and suffering.

Is not the mark of dependence obedience? The Word of God is quoted here in contradistinction to Adam. He had the Word of God presented to him, but he disobeyed and fell. Now that this glorious Man has come Satan tempts Him and He quotes the Word of God. Reference has been made to the difference between the wilderness and the garden of Eden. The Lord here quoted from the book of Deuteronomy. It is the book for the land. But the land had become a wilderness because of disobedience. Now the Lord is showing the pathway that is to the glory of God that is a pathway of obedience. If we were honest we would all say our failures stem from not obeying the Word of God.

This matter of "every Word of God" is an important one. In 1 John 2 we have the expression with regard to the young men that they have the Word of God abiding in them and because of that they've overcome the wicked one. Now where it says the 'Word' of God, the word used is logos which signifies the whole revelation of God. Here "Man shall not live by bread along, but by every Word of God", it is not logos but rhema the specific word for the situation. The Lord had been forty days tempted of Satan, but following that were these three temptations. He used the Word the Word to meet the moment. He met the attack by the particular word for each situation. If I haven't the Word of God abiding in me then I won't be able to pick out the Scripture to use when it is needed. For example in Ephesians 6:17, "The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God", it is rhema not the whole Word of God but the particular Scripture to meet the situation.

Can you say something about the forty's of Scripture?

Forty is a time of testing. There are several of them in Scripture. The Lord here faces forty days of trial and testing. In the first of the temptations there is the feature of dependence. We need to learn that if we are to overcome in the conflict. It does seem as to the second one, that it is rather the feature of obedience that is emphasised. In a plain way the Lord Jesus says, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve". If we are to overcome in a scene of trial and temptation we must have dependence and then obedience. Some have asked the question, how was it that the devil had authority to offer the Lord all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time?

That is a big question. Every power is set up by God, but I have wondered if, when a nation turns its back on God and doesn't discharge its responsibilities, it opens the door for Satan to come

I suppose Satan has gained influence over men because of the fall and he has that which he puts before the eyes of men in allurement. Men are ambitious and Satan uses this to allure them along a wrong path. But it says here … "In a moment of time", a word that means a pin prick. That's all he can offer. Nothing of value, nothing eternal. But he does offer the Lord this power, the kingdoms and their glory. In obedience, the Lord answered "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve".

It does show the tremendous power that Satan has and we have the Lord's own words three times in the gospel by John, that he is "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11).

I think we should bear that in mind. We must not minimise the power of the devil. We get here the way to overcome and I believe it is connected with being full of the Holy Spirit. In many ways we can be overcome by the subtle power of the devil.

He has only power over us when we deliver our minds to him. He has no power over us if we are full of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, that principle is applicable to the youngest as well as to the most mature. Satan cannot do anything to anyone who is moving in a path of obedience. That doesn't need long years to learn. If we are obedient Satan has no power against us at all and it is demonstrated here in all its perfection. The Lord says, "it is written". It is God's Word that binds the conscience.

The Lord will get this authority won't He?

Oh yes. There was an attempt here to divert the Lord from the cross. He also used Peter to try to do this. "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offence to Me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matthew 16:22-23).

Is there any reason why it is the devil that is spoken about here and not Satan?

The devil is the slanderer. Satan is the adversary. It is diabolos here, the devil. The Lord Jesus had just come from the baptism where His Father's voice had been heard declaring Him to be His beloved Son. The slanderer comes along to divert Him and turn Him away from the path of dependence and the path of obedience. The third of these temptations touches another feature which ought to mark us as Christians confidence. "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God". Was there any need for the Lord to put God's Word to the test? The devil quotes from the Psalm here, "He shall give His angels charge over Thee" etc. In the very Psalm from which that quotation comes God says, "Because He hath set His love upon Me, therefore will I deliver Him … " (Psalm 91:14). He dwelt in the secret place, the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1) and the devil uses a Scripture to seek to divert Him from this path of confidence in God's Word. We can trace these three happy features here, dependence, obedience and confidence. They are what characterised the Lord Jesus as the perfect Man, seen here in combat with the slanderer, the devil and He defeats him by the power of the Word of God and these three moral characteristics. At the beginning of Psalm 16 He puts them in the order we get in Matthew 4. "Preserve me, O God", that is the dependence. "For in Thee do I put my trust", that is confidence. "Thou My soul has said to Jehovah, Thou art the Lord", that is obedience. The order is a little different here but the same features come to light as characterising Him in the path of conflict.

If we ask ourselves why we don't get the temptation in John, we have the answer here. In John the presentation is of the personal glory and essential deity of the Lord Jesus. It would not be appropriate to include temptation. "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God".

Yet the Lord does say in John, "the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30). This is one of the features of John. We don't get specific mention of the temptation or Gethsemane but we get many allusions to these things.

Yes, features come in each gospel, but there is a distinct emphasis in each and these particulars are not in John.

It is particularly lovely though because it does underline several of the things that have been said. It is on that very occasion that the Lord says "that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do".

Oh yes, there is much in John's gospel that contributes to what is said in the synoptic gospels and that is why I think we ought to turn to John's gospel when we need to supplement what we are saying from the synoptic gospels. But I think these passages are very important just to see Him as the One who was dependent. We come back to it again. "Thou didst make Me trust, upon My mother's breasts" (Palm 22:9). "I will put My trust in Him" (Hebrews 2:13). "Preserve Me, O God: for in Thee do I put My trust" (Psalm 16:1). He took a course of faith here and covered the whole course of faith from beginning to end as Hebrews 12 tells us. He was a Man who moved here by faith, although a Divine Person. How remarkable.

You wanted to say something about Hebrews?

Yes, because there are those who say wrong things about the Lord Jesus. There are those, Christians mind you, who say that the Lord never sinned but that He could have. They ask "How could He suffer in temptation if it wasn't possible for Him to fall in it". You get this kind of thing said and how easily we can be taken in by it. So Paul says in Hebrews "He Himself hath suffered being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). He really did suffer. I have asked myself the question sometimes, how is that He suffered being tempted?

Because of His sensitive nature?

Yes, that's one reason.

In Hebrews this is a qualification for Him in His High Priestly service. Because of it He is able to succour them that are tempted. I think one of the things we connect with the temptation is, it was to qualify Him as Great High Priest.

It also says something about the Lord's uniqueness. Very often for us temptation can be a matter of pleasure. But for the Lord it was never a matter of pleasure but of suffering. It must say something about His sinless nature. He perceived temptation with all the horror with which God would perceive temptation and so necessarily it was a matter of suffering for Him.

Temptation only causes suffering when it is resisted. If you don't resist the temptation you don't suffer, do you?

That's right. That's what Peter presents in 1 Peter 4. You either suffer, or you sin (1 Peter 4:1).

Because the Lord was not able to sin His suffering would have been all the greater for it. He had no means whatever of relieving Himself of it.

He was the perfect Man here upon earth, perfect in every possible way and having these dreadful temptations thrust across Him by the devil himself, how He must have suffered.

The other thought in Hebrews 4:15 we do well to get a hold of … "but was in all points tempted", and here in the King James translation it says "like as we are yet without sin". This translation might just seem to let in the error that He could have sinned. The real text says, "In like manner, sin apart . It wasn't just that He didn't sin no He couldn't sin. The idea of sin was altogether foreign to His holy nature. Sin made no appeal to Him whatsoever the holy Son of God. He suffered because of His holy nature.

The consequences of sin were all around Him. Death, disease and Satan's power and all these things affected His holy, sensitive spirit and He did suffer. He was troubled in Spirit, He groaned, but sin had never any entrance or attraction to the Son of God.

The barrier against it all is "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). He did not progress in holiness, He was intrinsically holy.

The sad fact about this is that it is in Christian circles that these things are said. We do well to be clear in our own minds as to verses like these. Sin apart does not mean only that He didn't sin. It means that sin had no appeal to Him whatsoever.

(One other reading in this series to follow, if the Lord will).

From Our Archive

"The Morning Star"

Christ Our Hope

(Continued from page 98)

Shortly before his departure the Apostle Peter, feeling the necessity of stirring up the saints by putting them in remembrance of what they had already heard, was led to recall

that wondrous scene when he, with James and John, were eye witnesses of the Lords glory on the "holy mount". It was, so to speak, his legacy to the church. And we may notice that he calls especial attention to the "voice" which they were then given to hear, and which centred all their thoughts on the Lord Himself as the object of the Father's delight. This expression of delight was a notable feature of Isaiah's prophecy given 750 years previously (Isaiah 42:1), but when quoted in Matthew 12:18 the word "beloved" is added by the Holy Spirit, thus linking the passage in a very marked way with the testimony already given at the Lord's baptism and repeated at the transfiguration (Matt. 3:17; Matt. 17:6). Peter adds that the voice "came from heaven", identifying "the excellent glory" they saw with "heaven" whence the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form after the Lord's baptism (see also Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-22).

Let us pause here to take note of three wonderful things:

(1) The Father's good pleasure is equally centred and expressed in the SON, when He condescended to identify Himself in baptism with confessed sinners hoping for mercy as when He shows for a moment His coming glory in the kingdom.

(2) The mystery of the Trinity is for the first time manifested to human eyes and ears at the baptism (John 1:33-34; 1 John 1:13). The communion which we are now called to enjoy is founded upon this.

(3) Though on earth carrying out the Father's will and purpose the humbled Son of man belonged to heaven and in the mystery of His divine Person was ever there. Consequently, as He says to Nicodemus, He alone was able to unfold "heavenly things" (John 3:12-13).

These blessed facts lie at the basis of Christianity and have evidently the most important bearing upon "the heavenly calling" of which every believer in the present age is made a partaker (Hebrews 3:1). It is very little understood and as a consequence the "hope" which should animate our souls is enfeebled and our practical walk often comes far short of what it ought to be. Is it not a sad fact that in the minds of many the "hope" is reduced to a vague idea of getting to heaven eventually because they find they cannot live for ever on this earth as they would like to do? That is very different from the glory of the mystery given to Paul to reveal which he says is "CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY" (Colossians 1:27). And the practical consequence flowing from the possession of such a hope is that abiding in Him we should walk "as He walked" (1 John 2:6)

The Christian calling is heavenly in principle because it is God's purpose to bring "many sons unto glory". They are made "sons" by receiving God's testimony about His own blessed Son and they are the Father's gift to Him, Christ, who was ever His delight the Son in the Father's bosom who became flesh in order to carry out all His will in redeeming them. Having thus become "the Captain of their salvation" He is now seated at His own right hand in the heavens. It is as speaking from thence that Jesus says, "I and the children which God hath given Me" (Hebrews 2:9-13; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:8-10, 12-14). Surely all this is in contrast to the blessing reserved for God's ancient people of Israel who will have their portion on earth in the promised land when Christ shall come in Person to make it theirs (Zechariah 14:4-5; Malachi 3:1). And it is this future deliverance of the people which is referred to in Isaiah 8:17 to Isaiah 9:7 where there is no mention at all of Christ's present place "on high", nor of the coming of the Holy Ghost.

It is true that Abraham's thoughts were turned toward heaven when God spoke to him of the "stars" but heaven was not mentioned in his call which was simply to go forth into the land of Canaan, into which he came (Genesis 11:31; Genesis 12:57; Acts 7:3-4; Hebrews 11:8). The earthly inheritance will eventually be made good to the earthly people, that is, to Abraham's natural descendants, when God's time is come to establish them once again in Canaan; but in the meanwhile Christ has His own place in glory and with Him are associated in the most intimate way those who are consciously at the present time the fruit of His sufferings on the cross. That is why they are called "holy brethren" and "partakers of the heavenly calling". And it is to this incorruptible inheritance, reserved for the saints in heaven that Peter drew the attention of the converted Jews to whom he wrote. Naturally enough they looked for the accomplishment on earth of the promises made to their father Abraham, all the more so as they were strangers scattered abroad far away from Palestine. But what they lost on earth was made good to them "in heaven". It is quite true that the glory of that which is "reserved" for believers of the present day will only be fully known at the "revelation of Jesus Christ" for which we wait; but the "spirit" of it is to animate the souls of those now called to be "partakers of Christ's sufferings" (1 Peter 1:3-13; 1 Peter 4:12-13).

Everywhere we find in the epistles that this glory is the counterpart of sufferings endured in the present time. It is to be our eternal portion after we have suffered awhile down here (1 Peter 5:10; so Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 2:12 &c). And how beautifully that is set forth in the transfiguration scene when we learn that Moses and Elias "appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem"! They were occupied with Christ's sufferings whereas the disciples had the privilege of seeing His glory, "and the two men who stood* with Him" (Luke 9:30-32). May the Lord lead our hearts into more constant and diligent occupation with the Person of Christ in His present glory that we may realise more of that change "into the same image from glory to glory", now being accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18)! We have to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in order not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).

{*Compare with this what is said of Moses when called to go up into Mount Sinai the second time, when God graciously stood with him there and showed him as much of His glory as it was possible for him, in his human body, to see (Ex. 33:21-23; Ex. 34:58).}

All these Scriptures that we have passed rapidly in review bring us again to the parenthesis in God's ways of which we have already spoken (pages 96-98). How needful is it that our souls should get confirmed in its distinctive and moral features in order that our practical walk may be in accordance with it!

The more we realise its character the more readily we can understand the difficulty felt, even by the apostles who had seen the Lord on earth, in laying hold of the meaning of His words, "Ye are not of the world" (John 15:19). It needed the presence of the Holy Ghost, who came down on the day of Pentecost, to teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that He had said to them, besides those other things which they were not able to bear, or enter into at all, until after His death and resurrection (John 14:26; John 16:12-16). So complete a change in all their thoughts and aspirations must needs be gradual. His death had seemed to blast all their Jewish hopes in connection with their Messiah whom they rightly believed Christ to be (Luke 24:21) and when they were assured of His resurrection it was their familiar hopes that were naturally revived. We observe it in the question "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The Lord's answer was confined to insisting upon the character of their testimony to Himself as He had previously told them (John 15:27; Acts 1:8) while waiting for the coming of the Holy Ghost. Little by little their thoughts were turned into another channel as the meaning of His death and resurrection dawned upon them while they still waited for the coming of the Comforter.

When He came down on the day of Pentecost a new era began for them but as yet they had no idea at all of the glad tidings going beyond the limits of Israel; and for the moment they were so enthralled by the great facts of the Lord's ascension to the right hand of God and of His having sent the Spirit as He had promised that they had enough to do to preach the gospel of the remission of sins to "the house of Israel" (Acts 2:14-39). They knew full well that this gospel must go to those "afar off", as the Lord had distinctly told them more than once, but they were very slow to carry it to them and the majority of those converted in Jerusalem could not conceive it possible that Gentiles could be brought into the enjoyment of its blessings. Even Peter himself presented to the Jews the acceptance of the gospel as a reason for the Lord's immediate return to accomplish the earthly promises made to their fathers (Acts 3:9-26). Many were scattered abroad afterwards by persecution but the apostles, in spite of the Lord's charge to them, remained at Jerusalem (Acts 1:8; Acts 8:1). They were slow to fulfil their commission of going to "the uttermost part of the earth". But God carried out His thoughts in His own way as we shall see.

William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927)

(To be continued, if the Lord will).

News from the Field


Over a hundred years ago in the 1870s and 1880s there was a great work in Scandinavia with a good number coming out of the world and brought into the assembly. Over 20 gatherings were formed with encouraging numbers. For example in 1879 there were 50 brethren in fellowship in Gothenburg (S) while in Stockholm 35 "mostly poor" persons were in fellowship. In Norway there were meetings in Moss, Christiania (Oslo), Ferderikstad, Frederikshald, Drammen, Holmstrand, Drobach, Horten, Langesung, Porsgrund, Kagero, Laurvig, Holmsbo etc. Until the second world war there were also two meetings in Denmark. Since then there has been a marked decline so that by the 1970s there were only three brothers left in practical fellowship known to us. They were brother Carl Prydz of Oslo (N) and the Jacobsen brothers on Donso off Gothenburg (S). The enemy has been at work and scattered and divided the saints of God. But we can thank God that He is working and precious souls are coming to trust our Lord Jesus for salvation and some are desiring to continue in those good things the Word of God sets out for every believer to enjoy.

In the mid 1980s we began to have contact with a few individuals ordering books from the depot in Plumstead. The need was also felt to be able to supply Scandinavian literature by brethren whose doctrine was true to Scripture. We found in fact that there was very little. Some of Mackintosh's notes in Finnish, a second hand set in Swedish and a few books and pamphlets by Darby, Kelly, Dennett and Cutting in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. In all around only 50 or 60 titles known to me by reliable authors. The need for more good literature and attractive gospel material is evident. In order to assess this more effectively journeys have been made to Denmark (twice), Sweden and Norway and visitors from the Faroes and correspondence from Greenland and Finland have also been informative.

We rejoice that the contacts made through the literature work are increasing little by little. The links are few but we are thankful for the small and steady trickle of orders for books and requests for the Scriptures. In order for this work to broaden out and take definite shape we believe that your remembrance of us at your prayers will be used of the Lord to set the work forward.

In September last year I was privileged to visit Norway and meet believers in our Lord Jesus who desire to go forth unto Him, without the camp. Before giving a brief account of the visit I would like to give some brief notes as to Scandinavia.


The Pure Gold tract (Purt Guld) has been distributed in many thousands in almost every place except North Jutland and Bornholm. We frequently receive requests in response to this tract and send out a New Testament and Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment. The tract A Letter For You has been translated and typeset into Danish. We would like to print 10,000 "Et brev til dig" for free distribution. The need for more gospel booklets and tracts is a burden we are bringing to the Lord in prayer.


A missionary in this Danish territory has ordered 500 Purt Guld. We look to the Lord for a response to His Word.


We are enjoying more contact with believers in these islands. We would like to get Pure Gold into Faroese as well as some other items. The correspondence and visit from Faroe has been very uplifting and we trust the Lord will draw us closer together.


Here our brother and sister Eddy and Mirja Moorrees labour for the Lord. They live in Joensuu and seek to bring the true gospel to the multitude outside Christ. His work is hard there is much Vodka addiction and though much preaching and tract distribution takes place yet so far few are prepared to identify themselves with the Lord in His rejection. Puhdasta Kultaa, Pure Gold, has been published and we trust the Lord will be pleased to use this booklet as He has the English edition.


More books per head of population are published here than any other country. The Icelanders are avid readers. But alas we have no literature available.


There is an open door for the gospel. The Lord has bidden us to pray Him, the Lord of the harvest, to send forth labourers into this part of the field that the few embers of the testimony might be graciously revived. I had the opportunity to visit Magnus Jacobson on Donso and the meeting room there. His isolation was not only geographical but also linguistic. He speaks only Swedish. A dear brother from Germany has visited several times.


Various contacts had shown encouraging interest in the books and intimated their desire to meet us face to face. Through the Lord's mercy I was enabled to go to Norway in September 1991 and an account of that visit will follow in the next issue, if the Lord will.