Scripture Notes.


John 6:35.

There is a reason for the introduction by our Lord in this scripture of both hunger and thirst. The Jews had spoken of the manna of which their fathers had eaten in the wilderness, according as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." The Lord, in reply, explained that the manna was not the true bread; it was only a type and shadow. "My Father," He said, "giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." This awakened at least their natural desires, and they said, "Lord, evermore give us this bread;" and it is in answer to this request the words of our scripture were uttered. If the reader, now, will turn to Exodus 16, he will see that the manna was given to satisfy the hunger of the people; and that water is brought out of the rock in Exodus 17 to quench their thirst. It is therefore in allusion to these notable incidents in Israel's wilderness experience that the Lord here says, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." He thus declares that in Himself, who stood before their eyes, the types of the manna and of the smitten rock had their answer and fulfilment; and hence that in receiving Him every craving and desire of their souls would be abundantly satisfied, and that for ever. But, as the context shows, it is not until after He is known in death that He can be appropriated as the manna.


Matthew 25:1-13.

In the interpretation of a parable, the first thing to be ascertained is its main object. In that before us, it is evident from verse 13 that it is to impress upon us the need of being constantly ready, ever on the watch, for the Lord's return, because, as the day and the hour are unknown, it may occur at any moment. To turn aside from this, and to discuss the meaning of the number ten (albeit there may be significance in it according to its general usage), and to enquire whether, because half this number were wise, and the other half foolish, we are to conclude that half of all professing Christians are unreal, is altogether to miss the Lord's mind, and consequently to lose the solemn instruction conveyed. The characteristic of all the virgins is, that they go forth to meet the Bridegroom. All Christians therefore, all professing Christians even, are on one common ground, whether consciously or unconsciously, of waiting for Christ. But, owing to the Bridegroom's delay, all the virgins "slumbered and slept;" the whole church fell under the soporific influences of the world, and lost the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord. In mercy the Holy Spirit wrought and caused the cry to be rung out in the stillness of the night, "Behold the Bridegroom." The effect was to arouse all the virgins; and then those that were foolish made the fatal discovery that they were lacking in oil, the one essential element of readiness for "going out" to meet the Bridegroom. And, alas! they found still further, that it was now too late to repair the consequences of their neglect, for "while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came;" and, as the issue shows, they were, spite of their pleading entreaties, finally and for ever excluded. Only those "that were ready" went in with the Bridegroom to the marriage. The question then is one of practical readiness to meet Christ at His coming. There are four features of this indicated; first, there is the fundamentally essential one of having oil in our vessels, oil being, as ever, a type of the Holy Ghost. Unless, therefore, we are born again, and have the indwelling Spirit, we could not be ready to meet Christ. There must be, in addition, separation ("go ye out to meet Him"), lamps trimmed, that nothing might obscure the bright shining of the light (Christ displayed in the life); and, finally, as already noticed, there must be watching. The Lord give us grace to lay to heart the teaching of this parable.


Ephesians 1:13-14.

The more exact rendering of this scripture is, "In whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," etc. The sense is in no wise altered by the change, for, in both translations alike, faith precedes the reception of the Holy Ghost. No one would dispute this statement, but the question still remains as to the condition or ground of sealing with the Spirit. Here it follows upon the acceptance of "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation," a term of large import in this epistle. In the Acts we may gather, still more precisely, the moment of the sealing. Both in Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:43-44 it is clearly taught that the Spirit of God is not bestowed until after the forgiveness of sins is received; that, in other words, the ground on which God seals the believer is the knowledge of the efficacy of the work of Christ in regard to his sins. This order is seen typically also in the cleansing of the leper. (Lev. 14.) The oil (the Holy Spirit) was "put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass-offering:" that is, he was first, speaking typically, cleansed from guilt, and then sealed. Nothing is more certain than this divine order.

But it is objected, "To say that there can be conversion without deliverance and sealing at the same moment is to state that deliverance and sealing unlike salvation - are not contingent directly upon Christ's finished work since the descent of the Holy Ghost." Surely the writer cannot have seriously weighed the facts of Scripture. Was not Cornelius converted before Peter was sent to tell him words, whereby he and all his house should be saved? (Acts 11:14.) Were not the Samaritans converted under the preaching of Philip before the arrival of Peter and John? Was not the man in Rom. 7, who could say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," really converted, though as yet he did not know deliverance? The finished work of Christ is indeed the foundation of all our blessing; but what is meant by the work of Christ? There are numbers of believers who only understand by that term the death of Christ for our sins, and such could not know deliverance, inasmuch as this is consequent upon learning that our old man has been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed (annulled), that henceforth we should not serve sin. Neither - let it be plainly stated - will deliverance be reached through believing the truth of death with Christ. There must indeed be the knowledge of the truth, but the character, the powerlessness, the irremediable nature of the flesh must be experimentally apprehended, analogously to the experience given in Romans 7, before the soul can pass out into the blessed freedom of its new place in Christ risen as set forth in Romans 8.

To sum up, then, there may be conversion before the forgiveness of sins is received; there must be forgiveness of sins before the Holy Ghost is bestowed; and deliverance will never be reached, though there may be the knowledge of death with Christ, until after the nature and impotence of the flesh have been experimentally learned. But where the full "gospel of our salvation" is proclaimed, and where there are deep exercises of soul, not only concerning sins, but also concerning the evil nature that produced the sins, forgiveness, the sealing, the reception of the Holy Ghost, and the knowledge of deliverance may follow immediately one upon the other. In the present day, however, this is a rare experience.


Matthew 28:18-20.

THERE is a very great difference between this mission to all nations and that afterwards confided to Paul. The following remarks on the subject will make this clear: "The Lord addresses them (the disciples) on the ground of the place which now belonged to Him, which He will fully take in power hereafter, which belonged to the risen Lord, being His in right of the new place into which He had entered as man. 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.' All is not accomplished, all things not yet put under His feet, but it is His place as the risen Man who has glorified God and accomplished the work given Him to do. Hence He sends them forth beyond the limits of the King of Israel in Zion - that had been set forth fully in chapter 10, then and on to the future. Here connected with the remnant of the Jews, associating them as brethren with Himself, having accomplished redemption, they were to disciple the nations, baptizing them (not to Jehovah, not to Messiah or the Son of David, but) to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that in which the one God of Israel was fully and completely revealed; teaching them to observe that which they had learned from Him on the earth; and He would be with them to the end of the age. It is thus before the millennium, not the mystery of the church, nor the future gathering of all things. The mystery of the church was revealed and confided to Paul, the gathering of all things is to come when the age is finished. It is not the mission from Bethany (Luke 24) which the Acts follow throughout, not starting from Jerusalem, nor beginning it as that did; but, accepting the poor of the flock as brethren to Christ, they were to bring in, disciple, all the nations on the footing of their relationship with Him as thus risen … The ministry of Paul, who took up by a separate divine mission the evangelization of the nations, was not the carrying out of this. His was more fully even yet a mission from an ascended and glorified Saviour, to which was added the ministry of the church. It connects itself even much more in its first elements with Luke. The ministry here established stands alone. The disciples are not sent to Jews, as in Luke, [their mission] coming from an ascended Saviour, they were to begin at Jerusalem. [Here] Jerusalem is rejected, and the remnant attached to Christ (His brethren, and owned in this character) sent out to Gentiles. This, as far as Scripture teaches, has never been fulfilled … A new mission to the Gentiles is sent forth in the person of Paul, and that connected with the establishment of the church on earth. The accomplishment of this mission has been thus interrupted … but this testimony will go forth before the Lord comes. 'The brethren' (Matt. 25:40) will carry it to warn the Gentiles. This testimony is connected with the Jewish remnant, and owned by a risen Lord of all, with the earth and His earthly directions; but for the present it has in fact given place to a heavenly commission, and the church of God.* The distinction here shown will fully explain the different place of baptism in the ministry of Paul (1 Cor. 1:17) from that which it holds in the mission of the twelve. E. D.

*Expository Writings, vol. ii. pp. 326-328, by J. N. D.

*  *  *

When the heart has found its rest in Christ, and is satisfied, it easily refuses what is not suited to Him. We do not refuse in order to obtain, but we refuse because we already possess. This is the lesson of Philippians 3:7-8.


Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 196.

I. "I shall be satisfied." - Psalm 17:15.
I SHALL be satisfied,
But not while here below,
Where every earthly cup of bliss
Is wisely mixed with woe.
When this frail form shall be
For ever laid aside,
And in His likeness I awake,
I shall be satisfied.

II. "He … shall be satisfied." - Isaiah 53:11.
He shall be satisfied
When all He died to win,
By loving-kindness gently drawn,
Are safely gathered in.
When in the glory bright
He views His glorious bride,
Sees of the travail of His soul,
He shall be satisfied.

*These lines were recently found in the Bible of a young believer after she had departed to be with Christ. Ed.

"That good part."

Luke 10:38-42.

Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 208.

"As they went, … He entered into a certain village." They were, then, on a journey with Him. Let us trace the path in which He was leading them.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, at the close of His service among the poor of the flock in Galilee, He received from God the Father honour and glory, as the Father's voice came to Him from the excellent glory. This is recorded in Luke 9:28-36. But it was at this moment that Moses and Elias spake of His decease (or exodus) which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. He must come down from the holy mount and finish His course there, in order that the counsels of the Father, in connection with Himself, should be fulfilled. Thither then the journey lay. The glory of Messiah as upon earth must cease, and His throne be cast down to the ground. (Psalm 89:44.) Put the days of His receiving up were fulfilled. He was about to take His place on high, and (v. 51) He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem. It was in this path that one said to Him, "Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." The answer shows us that he who said it thought it would be present gain to follow the Lord. Instead, He who was Lord of all had no place in this world. "The Son of man had not where to lay His head." The following verses show the paramount importance of the kingdom of God to everything here. In Christ this kingdom is testified; for it was still near them in His Person, by the authority of One who sends His servants before Him, yet He anticipates rejection; and of those cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, He had to say, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida!"

What was opening out to Him in this hour of His rejection was "names written in heaven." He bids His disciples rejoice that it was so, as He also rejoiced in spirit, and gave thanks, confessing to His father, because these things were hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed onto babes. "Even so, father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight." It was a light thing that He should be Jehovah's Servant for the lathering of Israel; for into the hands of Him who willingly took the place of subjection to the Father's will, the Father had delivered cold things. He was the Son in the ineffable mystery of His own Person - the Revealer of the Father. The words "all things" comprehend an infinite range, embracing all the Father's counsels; and yet down here He was Neighbour to any that needed His compassion, binding up the wounded, and caring for them to the end. He is the Revealer of the Father, the One who takes into His hands the things delivered to Him of the Father; and yet the lowly Saviour, entering into our sorrows, and caring for us. But this latter is "as He journeyed."

"Now it came to pass, as they went … a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house." She would entertain the Lord. It was her house, and He was welcome there among her own surroundings. Had she known that He was passing through the land, a heavenly stranger on His way out of it, she would not have been distracted by the much serving of her own things to Him whom she treated as her guest. He was on His way to take up the deeper purposes of grace which the Father had put into His hands. This could only be learned by taking Mary's place at His feet, and hearing His word. Martha would entertain the Lord in her house with her things. Mary would be the Lord's guest, and let Him unfold to her the things that were His. We are not told what His communications to her were; but He ever spake from what He was (John 8:25), or as He said to Nicodemus: "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen;" or again, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father." And Mary listened to His word, for it expressed what He knew and had seen. It was the good part. The many things with which Martha was cumbered could be taken away. The good part, the one thing needful, shall not be taken away.

In John 11 death has come in, and Martha's circumstances are broken up, for she has lost her brother. So has Mary, but they are differently affected by the loss. The sisters send to the Lord in their sorrow, and it was His sorrow also, for it was one whom He loved that had fallen sick and died. For Him it was the glory of God first, and He abode two days where He was. Then, when He goes to wake Lazarus out of sleep, both sisters meet Him with the same words - "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died;" but Mary utters them at His feet. The message that the Master called for her brought her there. Hence she is in the place to enter into the unfolding of the glory of the Son of God, while Martha has to be silenced by the Lord's words, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" It was more the restoration to her of her brother that affected Martha. Mary had taken the place Christ's own place of subjection - where she could learn Jesus, not only as caring for her sorrow, but as divinely entering into what death was, that He might bring into it the glory of God. Hers is still the good part, which shall not be taken away.

In John 12 He has come up to Bethany previous to the passover. He Himself was now going to die. They make Him a supper, but Mary is engaged with Himself. She anoints Him for His burial. Her whole heart is with Him as she pours the ointment upon His feet, but the house is filled with its odour. She had chosen the good part, and in choosing it she gained the opportunity for a service which was hers alone.

The Holy Ghost has come to glorify the Son; to take of His things, and show them unto us. He is here the power for the believer to enter into the good part - the unfolding of the Father's things. "All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." May the Lord keep us from the distraction of our own things, though we may desire to serve Christ and have His company in them, that we may be free in spirit to seek His company for its own sake, and to listen at His feet. T. H. R.