Scripture Notes.


Psalm 16:10.

There is no possible connection between this scripture and 1 Peter 3:19. They refer to entirely different subjects. In Psalm 16 we have the Lord's experience as the dependent Man, while passing through this world, and also in the prospect of death. He is thus. seen in it more in the character of the "Leader and Completer," the perfect Exemplar, of faith. Verse 8 closes, so to speak, His earthly pathway; and it is, as in the contemplation of death and the grave, that He says, in verses 9 and 10, "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." The word rendered "hell" in verse 10 is misleading. It is more exactly hades, as may be seen from Peter's citation of the passage on the day of Pentecost. (See the Greek of Acts 2:27-31.) Now, hades is a general term to indicate the place of departed spirits, and it is thus used of such in the case of unbelievers as well as of believers. (See Luke 16:23.) But then it must be remembered that, while the term covers equally the abode of good and bad spirits, the place of "the spirits of just men made perfect" is entirely different from that where the spirits of the unsaved are kept. This is shown from the words addressed by the Lord to the malefactor, "Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise;" whereas it is said of the rich man, "And in 'hades' he lift up his eyes, being in torments." The former therefore are in a state of blessedness with Christ; the latter are in a condition of unspeakable woe, shut out for ever from the presence of the Lord. There is consequently no foundation whatever for the popular idea that our blessed Lord descended, after His death, and before His resurrection, into hell; nor, it may be added, for a prevalent opinion that the passage in Peter means that He went there to preach the gospel to the spirits of those who perished through the flood in the days of Noah. From 1 Peter 1:11 we learn that it was the Spirit of Christ that acted in, and testified through, the prophets of old. It was thus the Spirit of Christ that testified through Noah. This makes all plain when we read that Christ, having been put to death in the flesh, was quickened by the Spirit, by which also (note the word "also" as introducing an additional thing) "He went and preached unto the spirits in prison." But when? The answer is found in what follows, from which we gather that it was in the days of God's longsuffering before the flood. The Spirit of Christ thus preached through Noah to those spirits who are now in prison in consequence of their disobedience to, and rejection of, Noah's testimony.


Romans 6:13.

As pointed out in a note to this verse in the New Translation, there is a difference in the two words rendered "yield." The first is in the present, and the second is in the past (aorist) tense; that is, when the apostle says, as here translated, "Yield yourselves unto God," the meaning is, Let it have been done, done as an accomplished act; but when he says, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin," it is that this is never to be done, because believers, "as those that are alive from the dead," have been "made free from sin," and have "become servants to God." (v. 22.) They belong therefore to Him, and thus His claims having been acknowledged, they are to hold themselves (their members) daily and hourly at His disposal as instruments of righteousness unto God. All this follows from the truth contained in the first part of the chapter. The way of deliverance from the power of sin is there given. We are seen to be dead to sin in the death of Christ, unto which we were baptized. "Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed [annulled], that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin." Then, inasmuch as in that Christ died, He died unto sin once, and in that He liveth, He liveth unto God, we are to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.

It is thus in the reckoning of faith that we are both dead to sin (in the death of Christ), and alive to God in Him as risen out of death. Death to sin, and being alive to God, are therefore, as it is often put, a faith state; that is, it is not our actual condition, but one that is true to faith. If then we were to yield our members to sin, it would be to deny our deliverance from it through death with Christ; and if we are not yielded up to God, it would show that we had never entered into the truth of being alive to Him in Christ Jesus. To learn these blessed truths is an absolute necessity for the apprehension of redemption, and for a life of victory over sin, and of liberty in the service of God. But for this we must experimentally pass through the processes of chapter 7; for until we have discovered what we are, we can never be in the truth of grace, or in that of our perfect standing in Christ.


John 15:11.

It is generally accepted that we should read "be" instead of "remain" in this scripture, and a very slight consideration will show that the change yields the better sense. "Remain" implies that the Lord's joy was already possessed by the disciples, whereas "be" means that the Lord's object in these communications was that they might share in it, and this is really what He says. It is asked what this - His - joy is to which He alludes. It is the joy, as seen from the latter part of verse 10, which He experienced through keeping His Father's commandments and abiding in His love; in other words, it was His full enjoyment of the Father's love which He found in keeping His commandments. And He tells His disciples that if they keep His commandments they will abide in his love, for then there will be no hindrance to its manifestation to, and in, them (compare chapter 14:21), and that thus they will be sharers in His own joy, and their joy - their joy in the blessed experience of His love, and of communion with Him in His joy - will be full. Ah, what possibilities are thus opened out to the obedient heart! May we all seek to enter experimentally into this ineffable enjoyment!


2 Corinthians 5:21.

It is essential for the understanding of this scripture to see that the apostle is dealing with our past state and condition and not with our guilt. This is proved by his words, "If One died for all, then were all dead." The death of Christ for all shows that all were in a state of spiritual death. So in the gospel of John, where the Lord speaks of the believer having passed "out of death into life." (Chap. 5:24.) As to the expression made sin, the basis laid in righteousness for the outgoing of the ministry of reconciliation, we cannot do better than borrow the language of another. He says, "This does not refer simply to bearing our sins. … The condition in which we were, as a whole race, was that of fallen, sinful Adam. Christ the sinless One came and stood for us and God's glory substitutively; that is, as a sacrifice in that place, He was made sin, underwent the forsaking of God, and, glorifying God, died in and to the place, to the whole condition of being, in which we were, and in which, as made sin, He stood for us before God. This work, though done as and for man, I doubt not, goes farther than our salvation. He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. He takes away, as God's Lamb, the sin of the world. His sacrifice is the basis of the condition of that new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." This last sentence will help us, moreover, to perceive that our becoming the righteousness of God in Christ, as the answer to, and the fruition of, His being made sin on the cross, must include future display in the same glory with Christ. Undoubtedly as in Him (see verse 17) we are now God's righteousness, but nothing short of our being in the same condition and glory as our blessed Lord would be the adequate response, on God's part, to His work, or express the meaning of the language here used. For if God's righteousness has been displayed in His glorifying Christ in Himself (John 13:32), it will also be declared in bringing all His people, those for whom Christ stood in death, into the same state and condition in Him.