Scripture Notes.

Christian Friend vol. 17, 1890, p. 25 etc.


Rev. 5:9-10.

We have received the following communication concerning this scripture:

"Allow me to refer to your exposition of Rev. 5, on page 259 of The Christian Friend and Instructor (of last year). In great doubt myself for a long time as to how the passage should read, owing to the state of the authorities (and before the reading of the Sinaitic MS. was ascertained), I think - with A, and many cursives to support these two ancient witnesses - verse 10 must be regarded as definitively settled for 'them' and 'they' (instead of 'us' and 'we'); and that the true text of verse 9, i.e., omitting 'us,' is preserved by A and Codex Bergiae, with the AEthiopic to support it. The way, indeed the witnesses for insertion vary as to the place in which they insert the pronoun confirms the evidence of those that omit, combined with the fact that verses 9, 10 thus read give the least probable reading prima facie.

But, taken spiritually, there is, when, as I believe, the true text is restored, as above, and according to your note, a beautiful reason for the omission of the personal reference, without altering so seriously the persons referred to in the song. It is that given in the Synopsis, that it is not any particular class, but rather the value of the act (of redemption) which constitutes the motive for praise. They care not to specify themselves as the subjects of it, but their hearts are absorbed with the value of the work in itself, and the worthiness of Him who wrought it.

I say 'so seriously,' because if the true reading, as I am convinced it is, points to another class, as your note affirms it must, we lose the positive identification of who the elders are, and put the redeemed after the Church is gone into the place of rule, which is reserved for the heavenly saints and the two companies that are privileged, as cut off from the earthly portion, to have part in the first resurrection. (Rev. 20:4.) The place of the redeemed after the Church is gone is seen in Revelation 7.

Nor can epi tes ges be truly translated 'on the earth;' it should be 'over the earth,' for it is the subject, not the place, of rule which is here indicated (the contrast of en in a place, and epi over a people or a land may be seen in 2 Samuel 5:5. Compare, in the LXX., Judges 9:8, 10, 12-15; 1 Samuel 8:7, 9, 11, also Matt. 2:22," etc.)

Having re-examined the subject we cannot doubt that our correspondent is right, and hence that the part of note two on page 259 (vol. 13), which refers the "them" and "they" of this scripture to another class must be cancelled. The point is so important that we are glad to make the correction, and to commend it to the attention of the reader.


Romans 2:7; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 6:12-19.

In Paul's writings eternal life is generally viewed in its full result, according to God's counsels; viz., conformity to Christ in glory. In John's gospel and epistles, on the other hand, it is looked upon either as a moral state, as in chapter 5:24, (where he that hears, etc., has eternal life, and is passed out of death into life), or as a present possession, as above, and in 1 John 5:12-13. The above passages from Romans and 1 Timothy may easily be understood if the distinction made is borne in mind. Thus in Romans 2:7 "eternal life" comes after "incorruptibility;" for this, not "immortality," is the exact rendering. Now, incorruptibility applies to the bodies of the saints in resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:53-54), and hence eternal life here is the eternal perfected condition of the saint in glory, according to Romans 8:29. This is a most interesting point, inasmuch as it shows that the apostle assumes Christian knowledge in this scripture. Romans 6:22 is also future. It says, "The end everlasting [eternal] life," and the expression must therefore be interpreted as in chapter 2. Nor is verse 23 an exception, as eternal life is in contrast with death, as the wages of sin, only here it is more abstract, in that our attention is directed to its being the gift of God, and thus not earned, as death is by sin. The apostle will therefore not have us forget that eternal life, in all its blessed fruition, is the pure gift of God's grace, and in Christ Jesus our Lord. Moreover, as has been written, "it is not merely that eternal life is the gift of God, but the gift of God is nothing less than eternal life." Taking now 1 Timothy 6:12, we see no reason for departing from the above interpretation. Timothy is exhorted to "lay hold on eternal life," and surely as the end and issue of the life of faith. Two considerations support this conclusion: first, the exhortation succeeds that as to fighting the good fight of faith, which must include the whole of the believer's pathway; and, secondly, the apostle adds the words, "Whereunto thou art also called," which could not mean less than the full issue in glory of the Christian life. In fighting the good fight of faith, therefore, Timothy was ever to have his eye on the goal (compare Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:2); and "laying hold" of that, he would be furnished with a mighty stimulus and incentive to persevere with all fidelity and courage in the good "conflict" of faith in which he was engaged. In verse 19 of this chapter the correct reading is, "That they may lay hold on that which is really life." It is therefore not exactly eternal life here. It is what is life before God in contrast with finding one's life in uncertain riches. (Compare Luke 12:15.) The rich were thus to be charged to put their trust, not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, to use their riches in view of their being but stewards, and thus of the future (for this is really the meaning of "laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come"); and in this way they would lay hold of that which was really life both now and in eternity.

E. D.