Scripture Notes.

p. 193.


John 7:16-17.

The Jews, accustomed to listen to the rabbis, were astonished that Jesus, an illiterate Man from their point of view, could teach as He did. But His doctrine was of the Father, not human. The means of understanding it was a state of soul answering to such a mission; the desire to do the Father's will would recognise the word which came from Him. The moral state of the soul, the single eye, is the means of receiving, of intelligently discerning, the doctrine that came from the Father; the conscience is open, the heart quite ready to receive the truth. Many things in the teaching may go beyond the knowledge possessed by such a soul; but the teaching answers to its needs; it bears to it the impress of truth, of holiness; it suits God; there is not self-seeking. The good of souls is sought, the conscience is sounded, however dealing in grace. Now there is a conscience in all men, and here the desire to obey is supposed. Such a man discerns that which is of God when God speaks. It is not reasoning which convinces the mind; reasoning never convinces the will, but the desire being there, it is God who adapts Himself in His teaching to the wants and to the heart of man. J. N. D.


John 7:37-38.

Whether there is any allusion in verse 37 to the custom of fetching water in a golden vessel from the pool of Siloam in the several days of the feast of tabernacles, and then pouring it out into another vessel on the altar, it is impossible to say. Nor need we be concerned to ascertain; for it is with the truth signified in this blessed invitation of our Lord that we have to do. It is clear, from verse 39, that the invitation is anticipatory; that is, that it looks on beyond the cross to the time when the Lord should be glorified on high; for it is from thence the Holy Ghost has been given to believers. (See John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7.) And living water represents life in the power of the Holy Ghost, life therefore in Christ. And hence it brings those who possess it into a new scene, into the place where Christ is. To quote the words of another, "It is well that we should call attention to three operations of the Spirit of God. In John 3 we are born of the Spirit; in John 4 it is a fountain springing up to everlasting life. Here (in John 7) the new man enters into the enjoyment of things not seen, of things heavenly and eternal. When they fill the heart, when the heart, drinking of that which is in Jesus, is satisfied, then these things overflow, and refresh thirsty souls. Heavenly affections meet souls, showing what it is that revives a soul without God, which groans without knowing, perhaps, what is wanting. The words of Jesus were truly some of these waters." But it is necessary to mark the two actions indicated., First, the thirsty soul comes to Christ, drinks, and is satisfied. To "drink" is, of course, a figure in relation to the symbol, water. In this gospel man is seen as dead rather than guilty (John 5:24-25), as without spiritual life. It is Christ therefore as risen out of death in the power of life, and as glorified, who alone can meet his need. Hence His cry, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." And coming, he passes out of death into life, himself now, by the gift of the Spirit, in a new state and condition, and belonging to the sphere "of things heavenly and eternal," into which he will be actually introduced when the Lord comes to receive him unto Himself, that "where He is, he may be also." (John 14.) Secondly, there is believing. "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water." Believing here, it should be well observed, is not like "coming," once and for all, but it is faith in continuous activity, as the condition for the outflow of the rivers of living water. It is the same in chap. 14, where we read, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." (v. 12.) In other words, it is not simply a believer, but a believer in whom faith in Christ is in present exercise, of whom these things are said. This is of the first importance; for it reveals to us first of all the qualification for being a channel of blessing to others, viz., that we must be in living connection, through faith, with Christ as the fountain - and, together with this, it enables us to discover the secret of all power in service. (Compare Matthew 21:21; Luke 17:5-6, etc.) It is a wonderful thing to reflect upon, that the rivers of living water that first flowed forth from Christ may now flow, and will flow, from His people who live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us.


Philippians 3:12-15.

The apparent contradiction in these verses springs from mistranslation. "Perfect" in verse 12 should be "perfected"; and this means, as the context shows, conformity to Christ, in body, as well as morally, at the resurrection from among the dead. (v. 11.) Then, when the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall change the body of our humiliation (our vile body), that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory (His glorious body), according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself (vv. 20, 21), we shall be in our "perfected" condition; and it is to this the apostle refers when he says, "Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfected." But when he says, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded" (v. 15), the meaning is quite different. "Perfect" here is that translated in Heb. 5:14 as "full age"; and this, in fact, is, in its general use, its proper signification. In other words, it implies mature Christians; those, according to the teaching of this chapter, who know Christ in glory, and the power of His resurrection; and accept nothing less than conformity to Christ, as so revealed, as the goal of the Christian, as the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. To recognize this involves the acceptance of God's judgment upon the first man in the cross of Christ, and his utter displacement for faith, by the second Man, the glorified Christ; and also of the fact, that Christ glorified is the commencement of God's new order of things, after the pattern of which God is now working, according to His eternal purpose, to conform the redeemed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. The "perfect," therefore, are those who accept, and are in the power of, the full truth of Christianity. This chapter, it may be said, presents to us the present effect, in the person of Paul, of the knowledge of this truth, of having Christ in glory as his alone object, while pressing toward the mark, with all the energy thus begotten in his soul, for the prize set before him, viz., conformity to a glorious Christ. E. D.