Scripture Notes.

p. 165.


Philippians 2:1.

It can scarcely be doubted that the reference in this scripture is to the ministration to the apostle's "wants" by the saints, through Epaphroditus. (See v. 25, and Phil. 4:18.) The apostle felt their kindness deeply; but so completely was he lost in the desires of Christ for His people, that the only true joy they could give him was to exhibit Christ in their mutual relationships. It is thus that their own ministration to him, interpreted in its spiritual significance, becomes the ground of his appeal. Thus: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ," as I have found through your gift; "if any comfort of love," as you have caused me to experience; "if any fellowship of the Spirit," as you have shown there is; "if any bowels and mercies," as have been expressed in your tender consideration for me, "fulfil ye my joy," etc. While fully sensible of their love, his true joy was in their spiritual welfare; and he thus reminds them that nothing could so delight his heart as the exhibition of the several things he here enjoins. And what are these? Oneness of mind, lowliness, and forgetfulness of self. (vv. 2-4.) It may be of interest to point out, that these three verses are introductory to the wonderful passage that follows. As summing up his desires for these beloved saints he says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;" and he proceeds to trace the path of Christ from the highest height, where He subsisted in the form of God, to the lowest depth, where "He humbled Himself," and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." As has been well remarked, "As God He emptied Himself, and as Man He humbled Himself"; and all this blessed unfolding of the example of Christ is brought out to teach what kind of spirit or mind should be cherished by the saints


2 Corinthians 6:1.

Two things require explanation in this scripture. The reader will perceive that the words "with Him" have been introduced by the translators to make out, as they thought, the sense. This addition is very questionable. The apostle and his associates in service were fellow-workmen, and so wrought together; but they were God's servants, His workmen, engaged in His work; and while the secret of all true service is fellowship with God, the enjoyment of His mind as to it, it is going too far to say exactly that they were "workers together with God." The same mistake has doubtless been made in the first epistle (1 Cor. 3:9), and it is important to point it out, so as to preserve the exact thought of the Spirit of God. The second thing relates to the precise meaning of "receiving the grace of God in vain." Is it possible, it has been asked, for a Christian to receive the grace of God in vain? The question loses sight of the fact that God takes men up on the ground of their profession. The first epistle, for example, was written not only to "the church of God which is at Corinth," but also to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's." This designation will most certainly include all who professed to be Christians, without having anything to say as to their reality. Being on Christian ground, they are addressed as Christians. When therefore the apostle, having unfolded the wondrous subject of the ministry of reconciliation which had been committed to him, and to those labouring with him, beseeches the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain, we understand it as a solemn warning against the possibility of their having contented themselves with a mere profession. Grace had been brought to them in the ministry of reconciliation, and they had professed to receive it; but if it had not wrought in their hearts and consciences in the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, they had received it in vain. For this reason the apostle cites a passage, spoken in the first place to Messiah, and applies it to the day of grace; and thereon he founds the appeal (for it is that), "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." He would have them to remember the character of "the accepted time," and to avail themselves of the grace which marked it while the opportunity was vouchsafed. It is really a word for the conscience.


Numbers 10:1-9.

It is quite true that a different word is used for blowing an alarm with the silver trumpets from that employed to blow, either for the convocation of the assembly, or for the gathering together of the princes. The former would seem to indicate a louder and more lengthened blast; broken up, perhaps, into short and persistent sounds. That the trumpet-call signifies testimony can scarcely be doubted. It is thus the testimony of God that gathers His people out from the world, and draws them together, as well as leads them forward in their journey through the wilderness. (v. 2.) None but the sons of Aaron, the priests, it is to be remarked, were permitted to blow with the trumpets; for those who raise God's testimony must enjoy freedom of access into His presence, and be in communion with His mind. This is beautifully illustrated in Nehemiah 4:18, "And he that sounded the trumpet was by me"; close to his leader, to catch the guidance of his eye, and to hear the word of command. It is not enough, indeed, to give forth a testimony, even if divine; but the testimony rendered must be received from God for the moment, and hence the necessity for the qualification of abiding communion. The two other occasions for the use of the trumpets are in verses 9, 10, the significance of which may easily be gathered by the attentive reader. The testimony of God persistently sounded forth in the presence of the enemy, who would oppress God's people, brings God in for deliverance; and the trumpets must never cease to be blown "in the days of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months … over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God." Whenever God's people were gathered together, whatever the character of the assembly, there should alway be a testimony rendered, in communion with His own heart, to the death of His beloved Son, as the foundation of all their blessing. So now, "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show [announce] the Lord's death until He come." God's trumpet is thus still sounded in the assemblies of His saints. The trumpets, it may be added, were to be of silver, and to be made "of a whole piece."* (v. 2.) Silver in Scripture is often significant of redemption; but it is also "the type of the immutable steadfastness of God's purposes and ways in the wilderness." While, therefore, all testimony is based upon redemption, it partakes of the unchangeable character and thoughts of God Himself, and hence it can never fail of accomplishment. (Compare Joshua 23:13-14.)

*The rendering "of a whole piece shalt thou make them" is questionable. It should be rather, as in the Revised Version, "of beaten work"; or, as others, "of beaten silver."