Scripture Notes.


Mark 9:1.

A comparison of the several narratives of the transfiguration affords great assistance in the interpretation of the significance of this wonderful scene. In Matthew, for example, it says, "There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom." In Luke it is "till they see the kingdom of God," whereas in our scripture it is "the kingdom of God come with power." The allusion in all alike is to the transfiguration, as a sample, or prophetic intimation, of the day of Christ's glory in the establishment of His worldwide sovereignty over the kingdoms of the earth; and this was brought in, in Matthew, as the title of the Son of man shows, consequent upon His rejection as the Christ, the Messiah. But the kingdom of the Son of man is also the kingdom of God, for in it Christ will make good all that God is in government, and He receives it from God, holds it for God, and at the end He will deliver it up to God. (See 1 Cor. 15:24-28.) It will be moreover, morally, the establishment of the sway of God over the nations of the world. Peter bears out this interpretation when he says, looking back upon the scene, in which he had been permitted to participate, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (2 Peter 1:16.) It is very plain therefore that when the Lord was transfigured before His disciples, and His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, that it was an exhibition of His glory in the kingdom; and the voice that came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear Him," proclaimed Him as the fount and source of all authority in that day. The reader, as he pursues the details, will not fail to observe that in the appearance of Moses and Elias "in glory" (as Luke records), and in the presence of Peter, James, and John, there is a very distinct representation of the heavenly and earthly saints who will be associated with Christ in His glorious kingdom. More need not be added, as sufficient has been said as to the meaning of the scripture at the head of this note. Peter, James, and John were allowed, as a special mark of grace, to see the kingdom of God come with power, as foreshadowed in the transfiguration. They saw it before tasting of death, whereas the other disciples had to die before they should behold the display of the glory of Christ in the kingdom.


2 John 9, 10.

It would appear that the true reading in verse 9 is "goes forward" rather than transgresses; and, if this is accepted, it means, as another has remarked, "what is called development." That is, in the case of the person supposed, instead of abiding in the doctrine of the Christ, that which was from the beginning, he goes beyond it, by developing, according to his own thoughts, what he considered might be concealed in the doctrine or teaching. This is man's mind acting upon God's revelation, and the result in every such case is bad doctrine. Such an one, John writes, has not God; but he that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. Then comes the warning precept, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine" (the doctrine of the Christ), "receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed" - that is, do not exchange with such an one (for this is the force of the word), even a common salutation. The reason is added, "For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Before God, if such an one is received into the house, or if the courtesies of life be interchanged, there is moral identification; just as, on the other side, our blessed Lord taught, "He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me." Nothing can be more precise than these directions, and consequently they are binding upon all believers. Care, however, must be taken not to go beyond them in their application. They concern mainly, we judge, teachers and leaders; but, at the same time, the solemnity of being entangled in false teachings must not be ignored, nor the responsibility of keeping clear of all association with those who are followers of such as abide not in the doctrine of the Christ. Still, it is plain that in this scripture John has specially in view the leaders in heretical teachings.


1 Peter 3:19.

Many are perplexed as to the meaning of this scripture, and, as a consequence, questions concerning it are often received. It is frequently concluded (and there are many advocates of this view) that Christ Himself went, after His death, when "quickened by the Spirit," and "preached unto the spirits in prison," the spirits described in verse 20; and it is contended that the gospel was thus proclaimed, with the object of their deliverance, to those who had rejected God's testimony through Noah to his generation. One easily perceives the reason for the readiness with which this interpretation is adopted and promulgated. The question therefore is, Does it convey the mind of the Spirit in the passage? The following considerations will supply the answer. Let it then be first remarked that in chapter 1:11 we find that it was the Spirit of CHRIST that "testified beforehand" through the prophets "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." In this we surely have the key for the understanding of our scripture. Noah received a revelation from God "of things not seen as yet"; he was "a preacher of righteousness"; and he was thus a true prophet. In him therefore it was also the Spirit of Christ who wrought and produced his testimony to the souls of his generation. Accepting this all is plain. Peter had just spoken of the atoning sufferings of Christ, their character and object, and then, as he was about to connect the typical meaning of the flood with baptism, he adds, "being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went (or, "in which also going") and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah." It was, then, the Spirit of Christ, or Christ in the Spirit, who went in Noah and preached to these spirits; but they were disobedient to the testimony rendered; and heeded not the longsuffering of God during those one hundred and twenty years. They lost therefore the opportunity of salvation, and incurred the penalty of destruction through the flood, and of their spirits being "in prison" after death. Noah and his family alone were preserved; these unhappy spirits now in prison stumbled at the word, being disobedient, to their eternal loss and sorrow.