Scripture Notes.


John 20:22-23; Acts 2:1-4.

There is a great difference between these two scriptures. It is clear from John 7:39, that the Holy Ghost was not bestowed upon believers, did not come to dwell in them in the sense of Acts 2, until after that Jesus was glorified. It is also seen from the words of the Lord Himself that He did not regard the action in John 20 as in any way anticipating the special blessing of Pentecost. (See Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5.) Distinctly understanding this will prepare us to consider the meaning of the Lord's words in John "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," etc. It is, in fact, the fulfilment of John 10:10: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Before the cross, during His earthly sojourn, His disciples, who really believed on Him, had life; but it was only from Him in resurrection that they could receive it "more abundantly." But the fact that they did so receive it involves the new place taken by the Lord as risen from among the dead. He was the Second Man in incarnation; but He did not take His place as such, and indeed was not in the condition of the Second Man, until after the resurrection. It is this fact which imparts to the scene in John 20 all its significance. Jesus had already revealed to the disciples, through Mary, that His Father was now their Father, and His God their God. He had thus associated them with Himself in His own relationships; and thenceforward He was the Head of a new race. When therefore He came into their midst, where they were assembled, after that He had spoken peace unto them, shown them His hands and His side, commanded them to go forth in the power of the peace He had bestowed, He communicated the life more abundantly to enable them to enter upon their new place and relationships: a life, the full issue of which would be conformity to His own condition in glory. It should also be remarked that the very form in which He communicated the Holy Ghost, as the power of life, explains its meaning. "He breathed on them;" and, turning back to Genesis, we read that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7.) The first man was quickened by a divine communication of breath, was then "made a living soul;" "the last Adam," as a quickening Spirit, breathed of His own life in resurrection upon His disciples, and they lived in its power through the Holy Spirit. This contrast, moreover, involves undoubtedly the truth of the person of the Lord; but into this we do not here enter.

Such then is, we apprehend, the truth of this scene and action. What the disciples received in this way was the Holy Spirit as the power of life, corresponding with what we find in Romans 8:1-11; to receive the indwelling Spirit as power, as the anointing, as well as the earnest, the seal, and the Spirit of adoption, they had yet to wait until the day of Pentecost. And hence it was not until Pentecost that they were brought into the full Christian position.

E. D.


Luke 15, 16.

We find three things before the Lord teaches His disciples concerning making themselves "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness." The first is the grace of God towards us, in three parables of Luke 15. In the first and second we have the absolute grace that seeks: Christ the Good Shepherd, and the Holy Ghost searching with the light of truth. Nothing at all is done by the persons, who are the mere objects of the saving grace. The great subject is, Grace is God's joy; the shepherd is happy, the woman is happy, the father is happy. It is God's happiness to have souls saved. In the third parable we have the prodigal's reception by the father when he comes back. There is, first, the working of sin; next the working of grace; and then the father's reception. We have the whole series of gracious dealings till the man is clothed in the best robe, and is at the father's table.

That is, grace, in Luke 15, has come, and visited man, and takes him out of Judaism and everything else; and then we find, in Luke 16, that man is a steward out of place. In the Jews, man was tried under the best of circumstances. Man - Adam - was a steward, having the Master's goods under his hand; but he was turned off because he was unfaithful. And then comes this question, "How can I, if I have these goods under my hand as steward, and am turned out of place, how can I take the mammon of unrighteousness, and use it to advantage? I do not use it for myself now, but with a view to the future." The steward, for example, might have taken the whole of the money for the hundred measures of oil to spend it; but if he had done so, that would have secured nothing for the future; and, therefore, while he has the power, he uses it to make friends for himself, to receive him into their houses after he should be put out of the stewardship. So with us. While we are here, we have the mammon of unrighteousness; and, as we are taught in 1 Tim. 6:17, we are not to trust in the uncertain riches, but so use them as to lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come. We turn, that is, this mammon of unrighteousness into friends, that, when we fail, we may be received into everlasting habitations. We are put out of all that man has as man, that we may yet have it for a time; but by proper use of it we get reception into everlasting habitations. We use this world for the future.

"They shall receive you" is only a form for "You shall be received." "When we fail" is when all this scene is gone, and this life ends; that is, when stewardship is over.

Then, in the third case, our Lord draws the veil, and, says, as it were, "Now look into the everlasting habitations." The poor man Lazarus died, and was carried by the angels into the bosom of Abraham. The rich man used all for himself in this world, and the result is here disclosed - he is in torment, with not a drop of water to cool his parched tongue. The lesson then is: Do not use the world for present enjoyment; but use it in view of another world. "Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." (v. 25.) Besides, if we do not use this world's things in grace, we cannot, after all, keep them; and therefore the Lord shows that we have the privilege of turning them into friends available for the future. We see also how the other world belies the whole of the present. God's blessing on a Jew was marked by the possession of such things, but the Lord unveils the other world to tell him how all these things are now changed. J. N. D.


2 Corinthians 3:3-4.

In verse 3 we have the general statement, that if the gospel be hid (veiled) it is veiled in them that are lost; verse 4 gives the action by which the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, is intercepted, hindered from reaching the hearts of the unsaved: "the god of this world" (age) steps in and blinds the minds (the thoughts) of them that believe not. It should be especially noticed that the word is not "world" but "age." Two scriptures will aid in its interpretation. In Rom. 12 we read, "Be not conformed to this age;" and in 1 Cor. 2:8 we have "the princes of this age." The first of these would mean that we are not to be moulded by the influences of the moment through which we are passing, whether literary, scientific, philosophic, political, or social - the sum, in fact, of all the influences that go to form, at any time, the life of men as men; and the princes of the age are the world's, or the nation's, leaders, who, wise, as men speak, in their own generation, are utterly blind as to the things of God. When therefore we read that the god of this age blinds men's minds, we understand that he effects this by bringing in thoughts, whether through this world's teachers, or through their books, which are opposed to the truth of the gospel. A popular book, for example, which ignores sin, and consequently the atonement, while professedly dealing with spiritual things, would be one of his most successful instrumentalities for darkening the minds of unbelievers

And how many such are in circulation, even among those who claim to be Christians! This is very solemn; and it calls, at the same time, for increasing vigilance on the part of those who in any measure know the truth, to detect and to frustrate the unceasing efforts of the enemy to quench the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. E. D.