Scripture Notes.


Isaiah 63:8.

It is generally admitted that it is not easy to give a correct translation of this scripture. One well acquainted with the original renders it thus: "Only they are my people, (my) children shall not lie (or deceive), and He became a Saviour for them." This is not very different from the usual translations except in the last clause - substituting "and He became" for "so He was" (their Saviour). The meaning is easily apprehended. Isaiah in the previous verse celebrates "the loving-kindnesses of the Lord," and His "great goodness toward the house of Israel." In verse 8 the ground is given on which Jehovah had acted. He said, "Only they" (and no others) "are my people," words which express the fact that He had chosen them to be His people from the foundation of the world. Then He says, "(my) children will not lie" (or deceive); or, as others prefer, "They are children who will not (or shall not) lie." The difficulty felt here is, that this language seems as if God had confidence in the fidelity of His people, whereas their history proves the very reverse; and verse 10 indeed recalls their rebellious character. It is therefore said that this second clause is a command. The verb is in the future tense, as in the case of the ten commandments, and this is technically termed "the future of command." If this contention is accepted all becomes plain. In the first place God's choice of Israel is stated; then His will is expressed concerning the moral conduct suited to Him who had bestowed upon them this favour and privilege; and lastly, the fact is given that, following upon the election of Israel, He became their Saviour. Verse 9 seems undoubtedly to countenance this interpretation, inasmuch as it describes, in the most touching manner, Jehovah's identification with the sorrows of His people, in becoming their Saviour; His care over them, through the "Angel of His presence," in saving them; the expression of His love and pity in their redemption; and His bearing and carrying them all the days of old.


1 Peter 5:5.

As read in the Authorised Version, the second exhortation in this scripture would seem to render the first nugatory; for if all were to be subject one to another there could be no reason to urge upon the younger to submit themselves unto the elder. It is therefore of importance to note that the words "be subject" in the second sentence should be omitted. In the Revised Version the passage is thus given: "Likewise ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another," etc. (See also the New Translation.) If there is a moral suitability in the subjection of the younger to the elder, it is also incumbent upon all believers, whether young or old, to cherish the spirit of humility, and to seek in love to serve one another, as otherwise they could not tread in the footsteps of Him who was the meek and lowly in heart, and who was in the midst of His disciples as One that served.


1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9.

Nothing is clearer than that "leaven," from its first mention in Exodus 12, has the uniform significance of evil. The only passage which is claimed as an exception is Matt. 13:33-34, and this contention has sprung from the mistake of confounding the gospel with the kingdom of heaven, or rather from taking the leaven to signify the gospel and its effects in this world, supposing it to work on effectually until all the world shall have been permeated by its blessed power and influence. A knowledge of dispensational truth, and of the object of these parables of the kingdom of heaven, would have corrected this error. After the parable of the sower, with its explanation (vv. 1-23), there are six similitudes of the kingdom, three of which were given to the multitude, and three to the Lord's disciples in private - a distinction which gives the clue for their interpretation. The first three then (of which the parable of the leaven is one) give in different aspects, the outward form in the world of the kingdom of heaven, which is co-extensive with Christendom, during the session of Christ at the right hand of God. The similitude the Lord uses will consequently represent the fact that "evil" or corruption was almost immediately introduced among His professing people, and that this will work on and on increasingly until "the whole" be leavened. The final form of the kingdom of heaven will thus be corruption, and it is this fact which explains the ground of the judgments which will in the issue be visited on Christendom. But the question is, Is any special evil designated by leaven? We think not; for in 1 Cor. 5 it was immorality, and in Galatians 5 it was Judaizing doctrines. Any spiritual evil therefore, whether worldliness, immorality, evil doctrines - anything, in short, that might corrupt the saints or the church, might be properly termed leaven. To understand this is to answer a second question whether, when its presence is detected, it should be always dealt with in the same way. In some cases, as in 1 Cor. 5, it could only be removed by the excommunication of the person in whom it was discovered, and by whom it had been introduced into the midst of the assembly. Other forms of it, as in Galatians 5, might require a different discipline, the true character of which could only be discerned by a knowledge of the Scriptures, the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and by acquaintance with the state of soul of any who might be fostering the presence of leaven. Three things should always be remembered: first, that leaven is unmitigated evil; secondly, that when present it always spreads and corrupts; and lastly, that the only divine way of treating it is to purge it out in the way suited to its form and appearance.


Acts 9:7; Acts 22:9.

When we have accepted the truth of the inspiration - the verbal inspiration - of the Scripture we are always confident that any seeming contradiction is only apparent. Our knowledge may be defective, and the reconciliation of divergent statements may be beyond our reach, but there will be no doubt whatever concerning the absolute truth of what is recorded. But in the ease before us a very little attention will suffice to solve the difficulty. In Acts 9 it says that Saul's companion heard "a voice"; in chapter 22 that "they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me." That is, they heard a sound - which was really the "voice" - but they could not distinguish, did not hear, the words spoken. The Lord's communication was to Saul alone, and he alone received it; for while his attendants were with him they only heard a voice, but what the voice said was concealed from all but him to whom it was addressed. In like manner, in John 12, when there came a voice from heaven to our blessed Lord, in answer to His prayer, "Father, glorify Thy name," I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again," those that "stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him." They also heard, but did not understand, the voice.

"What endless outgoing of love in all the life and actings of Jesus! We should think it infinite, for it never failed; but such was the depth, the power, the divine fulness of that which was within, that He was straitened - His love wrought in such power, in such necessity to itself to bless, that … His heart was straitened till all that saving power, in which God was fully revealed and glorified, could go forth to bless. This tells us clearly what He was."

For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.