Scripture Notes.


2 Cor. 4:10-12.

The question whether the "we" in this scripture refers only to the apostles or to all Christians is plainly answered by verse 12. The whole chapter, in fact, concerns the apostolic ministry, and the various experiences through which God brought His servants, in order that only Christ might flow out from them, both in life and service. Hence it is that Paul says, "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you." (vv. 11, 12.) It was thus the application of death to all that Paul was, that nothing of himself might be expressed in his ministry, that he might preach not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and himself the servant of the saints, for Jesus' sake. (v. 5.) It was with this object in view that the Lord suffered him to be troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, that, while sustaining His servant under all these trials, He might roll in death upon him in all these manifold forms. Paul understood the end of the Lord in his tribulations, and he could thus say, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (v. 10.)

Such is the exact interpretation, of this scripture; only it has to be added, that in principle it is applicable to believers generally. In other words, while this chapter treats primarily of the service and experience of the apostle, it is yet true that God deals with all His people in a similar manner, seeking to bring death in upon them in different ways, in order that Christ might be manifested through their bodies in this world. He uses for this purpose all our sorrows, disappointments, and tribulations; acting in His wisdom through our circumstances to break down our wills, to repress what is of man, of the flesh and nature, that Christ may be unhinderedly expressed. God produces in this way His most perfect music out of broken instruments. In 2 Cor. 5:1 the "we" does include all believers, because the apostle there passes over into the sphere of common Christian knowledge. The subject thus introduced - the resurrection body - makes this abundantly evident. The word translated in verse 10 (2 Cor. 4:10) "the dying" of the Lord Jesus, is undoubtedly peculiar, and is sometimes more accurately rendered, "putting to death." The reason for the use of this word here can be easily discerned. That to which death has to be morally applied in the believer is never actually dead, and hence the need of its constant application, always bearing it about in the body. "Putting to death" brings this thought into prominence, reminding us that unless all that we are is unceasingly kept under the power of death the manifestation of the life of Jesus will be obscured. Altogether the truth conveyed in this scripture is of the utmost importance, and cannot be neglected, if we desire, like the apostle, to cherish the earnest expectation and hope that Christ may be magnified in our bodies, while we are sojourning in this world.


John 17:26.

The fundamental characteristic of John's gospel is the revelation of the Father in and through His beloved Son. (See John 1:18, John 8:19, John 14:9-10.) In this scripture, therefore, in these closing words of the Lord's address to the Father, He says, "I have declared" (made known) "unto them Thy name." The presentation of the Father in Himself had been complete; and yet He adds, "and will declare it," referring, doubtless, to the ministry of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth (John 14:26, John 16:13, 15), not as in any way supplementing the revelation already made, but rather as enabling His own to apprehend what had been manifested, and thus to have it made good in their souls. For, as we are taught in other scriptures, the Father cannot be really known, nor relationship with Him enjoyed, except by the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom. 8:15-16.) The object of the declaration of the Father's name, as here given, is, "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." Not only were His disciples, after they had apprehended the revelation of the Father's name, to know that they were the objects of the Father's heart, but His love, in the full measure in which it was enjoyed by the Son Himself, when here in this world, should also be in them, and in them because He, the Son, would be in them. As we read in chapter 14, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20.) He in us will bring in, according to the truth of this gospel, when He is rightly known, the revelation of the Father, and He becomes therefore the channel through which the Father's love - "the love wherewith Thou hast loved me" - flows into our souls for our present portion and enjoyment, while waiting for our translation to the Father's house.


Matthew 25:1-13.

In the consideration of this scripture, it is above all necessary to point out the place it occupies. The whole passage from Matthew 24:31 to 25:30 is parenthetical, and gives the state of things that will spring up during the Lord's absence, and how He will deal with it on His return. We have thus, first, the servants who are entrusted with the care of the household, and with whom He will deal, "when He cometh," according to their conduct. Next, we find the ten virgins, introduced as a similitude of the kingdom of heaven, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom; and lastly, we have the comparison of "a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods," to use for their Master until He should come back, and take account of their stewardship. It is not the church, as will be noted, in any one of the three cases. The first gives rather the servant in the special aspect - answering to pastors and teachers; the second will include all profession, for it is "the kingdom of heaven"; and the third will likewise indicate all who profess to own Christ as Lord, but in the aspect of stewards. The goal to which the first and third classes look, placed as they are under responsibility to their absent Lord, is His appearing. In the second - the virgins - it is otherwise; the words at the end of v. 13, "wherein the Son of man cometh," should, according to the best authorities, be omitted. To those who know the true hope of the church, this will occasion no surprise, for, as they have learnt from other scriptures, the coming of Christ as Bridegroom is when He returns for His people, and hence before He comes with them. Entering into the significance of these statements, the parable of the virgins is not difficult to interpret. The character in which Christ is represented as returning is, then, the first thing to observe. In the next place it should be remarked that the ten virgins "went forth" to meet the Bridegroom. This the Jewish remnant who will be found on earth after the church is gone will never do. They will never be exhorted indeed to go forth without the camp unto Christ, bearing His reproach. Note also, that all ten virgins are alike in respect of having taken their lamps, and this fact justifies the observation already made, that under these ten virgins all professors are embraced; and it is clearly taught in the epistles that professors, equally with true Christians, are on the ground of waiting for Christ. This position is bound up with the confession of the name of Christ as Lord. The figure of virgins sets forth the moral character suited to those who profess to have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom: it speaks of purity, freedom from defilement or contamination from things around. On the Bridegroom's side, it is affection; on the virgins, the suited character for the One who has made them the object of His heart. The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is absolute, as shown by the fact that the latter "took no oil with them," and could not obtain any before the Bridegroom came. The wise, as well as the foolish, had "slumbered and slept," while the Bridegroom tarried; only when the cry was raised, "Behold the Bridegroom … go ye out to meet Him," they possessed the oil wherewith to trim their lamps; and thus being ready, through grace, they "went in with Him to the marriage." The foolish, on the other hand, lacking the essential qualification, the oil, never having been born of God, and never having received the Holy Ghost, could not prepare themselves, and were consequently, notwithstanding their entreaties, for ever excluded from the Bridegroom's presence and feast. That the parable is so constructed as to have a wider bearing than on the present period of grace is quite possible, but that its true significance for Christendom is, that those who have not obtained the "oil" before the return of our blessed Lord will for ever be shut out from His blessed presence, we cannot for one moment doubt. For all who are in this solemn position, professing the name of Christ, and yet unregenerate, the day of grace will be for ever closed when the Bridegroom cometh. Hence the importance of the concluding lesson, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour."