Scripture Notes.


1 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 22:3.

The words "serve" in these scriptures are entirely different. In the first it signifies to serve as bondsmen or slaves, because the will of God had now become the only law of the lives of these believers. In the second scripture it means rather to serve as worshippers; and hence the same word is used frequently in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the priestly service in the tabernacle (see Heb. 8:5; Heb. 13:10, etc.), and generally also of the worshippers (Heb. 9:9; Heb. 10:2, etc.) The contrast indicated is strikingly shown in Heb. 9:14, where "to serve the living God," almost the very phrase found in 1 Thess. 1, will mean to serve as worshippers, and not, as there, to serve as bondsmen. The reason of the difference is that, while in Thessalonians the absolute claims of God upon believers are intended to be conveyed, in Hebrews it is a question of access; of the enjoyment of the privilege of approach into the holiest. Thus in our lives in this world we are not our own, we are God's servants, bondsmen; but when it becomes a question of coming into His presence, then we are worshippers. Consequently when it says, in Revelation 22, His servants ("bondsmen") shall serve Him, it is as worshippers they serve, inasmuch as they are in His immediate presence, for they see His face. The variations in the use of the word are very interesting, but, generally speaking, the distinction mentioned is always maintained. There are two other words for service in the New Testament. One of these is often rendered "ministry." (See Rom. 12:7; 1 Peter 4:11.) It is this word which the blessed Lord uses of Himself, when He says of the servants ("bondsmen") whom He shall find watching on His return, "Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." The term "deacons" comes from this word, and Paul uses this form of it of himself and Apollos in 1 Cor. 3:5. In the usage of this word there seems to be the general thought of ministering on behalf of Christ to the needs of others, whether through the word, or in any other way. As applied to Himself in Luke 12, it evidently is ministering to the joy of His people in glory, and this confirms what has been said. There is yet another word, and one accurately distinguished from bondsmen in John 18:18, where we read "servants" ("bondsmen") and officers. This term Paul also uses of Apollos and himself in 1 Cor. 4:1; and it is also employed when John is spoken of as being tainister to Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 13:5.) There is perhaps the thought of office and official duties embodied in this word. We need not further pursue the subject, as enough has been said to show how amply it repays the diligent reader of the Bible to search into its minutest details. There are mines of gold in almost every page, which, if explored under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will enrich the devout investigator for all eternity.


Galatians 6:6.

The meaning of this scripture lies on the surface, when once the significance of the term "communicate" is apprehended. Two examples of its use will suffice. In Romans 12:13 it is found in the exhortation - "distributing to the necessity of saints"; and in 1 Timothy 6:18, it appears under the form of "willing to communicate." These examples render its interpretation very easy in Gal. 6:6, as the reader will at once perceive if he carefully study their context. What the apostle enjoins is, then, that the one who is taught in the word should share his "good things" with the teacher; that is, in other words, that the taught should exercise the privilege of ministering to the temporal needs of the teacher. The apostle affirms the same principle, in another aspect, when he says, "If the Gentiles have been made partakers of their [the Jewish saints] spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things." (Rom. 15:27.) It is for the reader, not for the writer, to say whether the obligation is widely acknowledged.


1 Peter 4:10-11.

A very complete presentation of the character of all true service is found in this scripture. Its various features may be briefly indicated. We learn, first, that "the gift" is received from God, and consequently that His people are as stewards responsible to Him for its use. Grace bestows the gift, and the exercise of it is to be an expression of grace. It should be remarked in this connection that the gifts of which Peter speaks are more general than those which Christ, as the ascended Head, "gave … unto men." (Ephesians 4:8-11.) This may be seen from verse 10, and it seems to point to the fact that all believers, as in Romans 12:4-8, have some special function, some distinct place to fill, or some service to be rendered. Then, secondly, passing by for the moment the first example given, the "ability," or rather the strength, for the service is also divinely given. Human energy and natural abilities have therefore no place in the Lord's service nor in any thing to which we are called of God. Thirdly, the object to be kept in view is, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." The source of the gift, as well as the object of its exercise, is God Himself, while the strength to meet our responsibility as stewards is also given to us of God. How completely therefore man is displaced in our path as servants. The time is coming when God will be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:28.) It is our privilege to anticipate this time while serving down here according to His will. Moreover, if called upon to "speak," we are to speak as oracles (not the oracles) of God; that is, as those who have learnt His mind, and hence as channels for the expression of His thoughts and not of our own; for "he that speaketh of himself (from himself, originating his own thoughts) seeketh his own glory," and thus could not have the end before his soul that God in all things might be glorified.