Scripture Notes.


Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:10-11; Colossians 2:16-17.

Is there any contradiction in the teaching of these several passages? That is impossible; but it is exceedingly interesting to trace out their connection. In Col. 2 we have the consequence for the believer, in one aspect, of death with Christ. In Romans 6 we are delivered from sin - in Romans 7, from the law - through having died with Him. But in Col. 2 we are delivered from man, whether it be on the side of philosophy or of religion. As dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, we are not "as alive in the world" to be subject to ordinances. No human precepts or religious rites or observances have thus any claim upon the believer, because, through death with Christ, he has passed altogether out from under the yoke of the first man. He acknowledges, on the new ground of death and resurrection with Christ, the authority of Christ alone. Everything else, however sacred from long usage, all "the traditions of the elders," he entirely refuses, even the meats, drinks, holy days, new moons, and sabbaths of Judaism; for they have now become to him but "rudiments of the world," and were never, at any time, more than a shadow of things to come, while the body is of Christ. (v. 11.)

In Galatians the apostle had to encounter a strenuous effort to reimpose the yoke of Judaism on the saints, and this he would not bear with for a moment. It was a total denial of grace, and hence he does not hesitate to withstand even Peter to the face, "because he was to be blamed" for countenancing the Judaistic spirit, which led to a distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers. (See Gal. 2) When therefore these teachers of the circumcision made Jewish observances obligatory, the apostle declares that they were turning again to the beggarly elements, unto which they sought again to be in bondage; and he says, "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." (Gal. 4:10-11.) No quarter would he give to the imposition of such a yoke.

Passing now to the Romans, the case is very different. It is here a question of one who was "weak in the faith" (v. 1); and such was to be received, but not "to doubtful disputations." He might as yet be undelivered from many things, as was often, the case with Jewish converts; he might still be entangled with many a Jewish habit as to meats, and as to the observance of holy days. Still, such an one was to be received, borne with, even while seeking to lead him on to the full truth of the Christian position; and the apostle reminds us that we are not to judge another man's servant, or set at nought our brother, or put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his way. In a word, weak consciences are to be respected (vv. 20, 21), and the strong must bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves, incited to this course by the blessed. example of Christ, who pleased not Himself, but, as it is written, "the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." (Rom. 15:1-3.)


2 Timothy 2:20-21.

The difficulty which is often felt by many as to this scripture would be at once removed by giving attention to the exact language employed by the apostle. He does not say, "In the house of God," but "In a great house there are not only vessels," etc. In fact, he uses an illustration to set forth what professing Christianity - the house of God, indeed, as built by man (1 Cor. 3) - has become; i.e., it has become a mixed thing, like a great house with vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour in it. The question therefore whether the vessels are teachers or saints proceeds upon a misconception, inasmuch as they only illustrate the fact pointed out, that the professing church has become so mixed and corrupt that separation is now necessary within its own borders. Whether converted or unconverted is not the point, for all are on that ground as professors; and all, whether converted or otherwise, must be separated from it if, like the vessels to dishonour, they are polluted by unholy associations or employments.

If a man therefore purge himself from these - the vessels to dishonour - he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. The next verse (2 Tim. 2:22) points out that there must also be moral separation, and fellowship with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. E. D.


Matthew 28:19.

"The formula which I have used in baptizing is, 'In the name of the Lord Jesus I baptize thee unto the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.' My reason is, that two things are thus owned - the Lordship of Christ, and the full and Christian revelation of the name of God, which is thus called upon the baptized person. Surely baptism is connected with these two important truths. "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." (1 Cor. 8:6.)

I quite admit that Scripture gives us no historical account of any carrying out of the commission in Matt. 28 to the nations; but that does not alter the significance of the form, as to baptism, there given by our Lord especially for Gentiles. They had previously no connection with the name of God - i.e., the Jehovah of Israel (Isaiah 63:19) - though Amos (Amos 9:12) prophesied of Gentiles who would be called by His name. Acts 15:14, 17, shows how that part of the prophecy had received a kind of accomplishment by Peter baptizing Cornelius and his household. This use of the full name of God is important to my mind or there would be no administrative bringing of the Gentiles into connection with it; and I confess I do not feel happy in any one using a formula which omits it. Surely it is of moment that there should be a people upon earth thus formally connected with the name of God, as fully revealed in Christianity. We see the principle of this as early as Gen. 4:26, in the family of Seth.

In the development of the ways of God, which is given us in the Acts, a great point is the establishing of the Lordship of Christ, quite as important as, and intimately connected with, owning the name of the one true God. (Compare Isaiah 45:22-23, with Phil. 2:10-11.) 'Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.' The whole administration of the ways of God is in His hands, all ministry and power is there; all authority and rule are made subject to Him. It was therefore necessary for Jews, who were already in connection with the name of Jehovah by circumcision, to own Him whom God had made Lord and Christ. It is stating too much to say that the apostles never used the formula of Matt. 28. We know that negatives are dangerous statements to make; in fact, I judge there is no record given of the formula they used; for we cannot gather it from the various expressions which the Spirit records. 'In [en] the name of Jesus Christ,' or 'the Lord Jesus,' connects baptism, I think, with the power and authority of that name; while 'Unto the name' would be to the confession of His name as Lord, and this has to be confessed and owned to the glory of God the Father.

It would be a mistake to take the words, 'In the name of Jesus Christ,' or, 'Unto the name of the Lord Jesus,' as a formula. There is much implied in baptism which is not expressed in the formula used, such as moral cleansing, salvation, and being planted in the likeness of Christ's death; but to me the real formula is in the words of our Lord, in Matt. 28. But then His Lordship is distinctly connected with it there; for He states that all power is given to Him in heaven and earth, though baptism only refers to His authority as administered upon earth. The form of this administration on earth, so far as Scripture tells us, has not been carried out yet according to Matt. 28, but according to Luke, and in the way described in the Acts. Still our Lord's words remain, that baptism was to be in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." T. H. Reynolds.


2 Kings 2:12.

"My impression as to the 'chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof' is, that faith in Elisha connects the chariots of God with Israel. (Compare Psalm 68:17-18.) Hence he calls it the chariot of Israel. He sees prophetically in the angelic power which was taking up the ascending Elijah the deliverance of Israel by the same power. For us it is the power which wrought in the Christ when God raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. Connect, for this power which will finally deliver Israel, Deut. 33:2; 2 Sam. 22:9-11; then Psalm 68:17 (it is remarkable, 'Adonai is among them'); Hab. 3:3-8; Rev. 8:5; Psalm 18:12-13; Psalm 104:3-4, etc.

I suppose Elisha knew the secret of this power when he picked up the mantle of Elijah - a power not yet displayed fully for Israel, but - Elisha was in its secret. (See 2 Kings 6:16-17.) Elijah had passed through the waters by a power that rolled them back; the full deliverance will come because that power has been exercised in the depths through which Jesus has passed. (Psalm 18:14-15.) I think there is something analogous to Elisha being in the secret of a power not yet fully exercised in Rev. 5. We are surely in the secret of that chapter. The Lamb in the midst of the throne having overcome to take and open the book. The throne is not yet openly acting, and the rider on the white horse not yet come forth; but I believe we are in this secret, that even now, in all the political actings, and amid the schemes of men, there is the secret acting of the throne, because the Lamb is in the midst of it. The suffering one has overcome, and is there, and the actings of God, even now providentially, are all in connection with Him. As to crisis, it is all future; but if our eyes are open, we know nova the secret of the power which will accomplish all.

In 2 Kings 13:14 the vessel of this power is just departing, and the words of Joash recognize that Elisha was the vessel of the power of deliverance for Israel. It was a wonderful scene as the window was opened, and the arrow of the Lord's deliverance sped on its way; but everything breaks down in man's hand, and there is no faith in the king to use the power."

T. H. Reynolds.