Scripture Notes



1 Corinthians 7:39.

It can scarcely be doubted that the expression "in the Lord" goes farther than "in Christ." Every believer (using this term in its true and proper significance) is "in Christ"; but there are very many who do not practically own His authority, and who are not walking in subjection to Him as Lord. Of all such, it could not be truly said that they are "in the Lord," as the phrase means to have one's life and walk in the circle where His Lordship is owned. When the apostle, therefore, says that a Christian widow is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord, he does not mean, in our judgment, any converted person, but rather he indicates that regard is to be paid to the practical state of the believer in question. If this be so, one who might be walking disorderly, or one who was living in disobedience to the Lord's authority, as expressed in His word, would not come within the limits of the apostle's description. It is of the utmost importance to note this distinction; and much confusion and sorrow would often be avoided by its observance. To be governed by the word of God is happier than to gratify the natural affections.


1 Corinthians 10:3-4.

The reference in this Scripture is plainly to the manna, and to the water which flowed out of the rock (Exodus 16:17) wherewith God satisfied the needs of His people in the wilderness. They are probably described as "spiritual food," and "spiritual drink," because they were both divinely given, the direct gift of God's grace, and were in no sense natural products. But there is another reason, and that is their typical significance - the one speaking of Christ meeting the needs of His people in their pilgrimage, and the other of life in the power of the Holy Ghost, without which the pilgrimage could not be undertaken. The apostle thus, as led of the Spirit, had his mind on the spiritual realities, of which the manna and the water were but shadows or types, and hence the language in question. The same remark applies to the words, "And that Rock was Christ," that is, it represented Christ; and, as the instructed reader knows, it set Him forth in a most striking manner. As the Rock was smitten before the water flowed out, so Christ was smitten on the cross before the Holy Spirit was given. Hence the Lord's own words, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:37-39.) This explains the type very clearly. The only difficulty, therefore, in the passage is the statement that the Rock followed them; but if we again recall that Paul was treating of the spiritual significance of the things mentioned, it is very easily understood that he is calling our attention to the unwearying care and unchanging love of Israel's God, who made provision for His people's necessities every step of their journey. It is only a gross materialism which finds difficulties in such a statement; the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.


Romans 15:15-16.

A more exact translation of this scripture throws a flood of light upon its meaning, by revealing the allusion to an Old Testament scripture, which was in the mind of the apostle. We take the rendering from the New Translation: "But I have written to you the more boldly, brethren, in part, as putting you in mind, because of the grace given to me by God, for me to be minister of Christ Jesus to the nations, carrying on as a sacrificial service the message of glad tidings of God, in order that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." If now the reader turns to Numbers 8, he will there find the account of the "offering up" of the Levites before the Lord, in the place of the firstborn of the children of Israel, that "they may execute the service of the Lord." They were set apart for this, consecrated, through the prescribed sacrifices and rites, before they entered upon their service, under the direction of Aaron, in the tabernacle. Studying the interesting details there given, it is very certain that Paul alludes in our scripture to this "offering up" of the Levites. Reading it in this light, we learn that he regarded his preaching the gospel among the Gentiles as a priestly service, and that his object was that they (the nations) might be presented to God as an acceptable offering, through the infinite value and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. There is the further thought, that those who were converted to God (here the nations) through the apostolic preaching, were as wholly devoted (presented) to the Lord for His service as were the Levites. It thus should never be forgotten that the Levites are not a type of a special class of "sacred persons," but that they set forth all Christians in the servant aspect, just as Aaron and his sons prefigure the whole Church as the priestly family.


Hebrews 2:10.

A great contrast will be perceived between verses 9 and 10. In the former, Jesus is presented as crowned with glory and honour at the right hand of God; in the latter we behold Him at the head of the many sons, who were being brought unto glory, being made perfect through sufferings. Three things may be especially noted in this scripture. First, there is the character of God, as set forth in the words, "it became Him." That is, if our blessed Lord, in His grace and devotedness at all costs to the will of God, identified Himself with the "many sons," and undertook their cause, "it was fitting that God should vindicate the rights of His glory, and should maintain it with reference to those who had dishonoured Him, and that He should treat the One who had taken their cause in hand, and who stood before Him in their name, as representing them in that respect." All that God is, His glory, necessitated, for example, that Christ, in dying for His people, should be made sin upon the cross, inasmuch as He was there in their place, and on their behalf. Secondly, we have the objects of God's heart, and the accomplishment of His eternal purpose introduced in the words, "in bringing many sons unto glory." It is very sweet to see the outflow of divine love in this expression - sons on their way to glory; they are His sons at the outset, and His glory is their goal and home. Lastly, the Captain of their salvation is made perfect through sufferings; and it was this, as already explained, that the glory of God required; for it was only in virtue of the sufferings of Christ, His vicarious sufferings, that the many sons could be redeemed from the hand of the enemy, conducted through the wilderness, and brought into the enjoyment of that salvation on which they will enter when He appears the second time. (Chap. 9:28.) The phrase "made perfect" must be carefully guarded. The word so translated is sometimes given as "consecrated," as in chap. 7:28, in the sense of initiation into office. This should be borne in mind in order to exclude from the word any thought of being made morally perfect, which would be utterly inconsistent with the truth of His glorious Person. In fact, "made perfect" here signifies that Christ was perfectly qualified through His sufferings to become the Captain of His people's salvation. The sufferings He went through, in order to this end, will include, therefore, all that He endured, according to the requirements of the glory of God, for their salvation. But it should be added, that it was only after His resurrection and exaltation He became the "Captain." It is from the glory, He is the Leader of the many sons, that He ministers to them the needed mercy and grace, succours them out of temptation, saves them "to the uttermost," and conducts them to glory. Meanwhile, though in the wilderness, He, as the Great Priest over the house of God, having Himself initiated the way "through the veil, that is to say, His flesh," gives them boldness to enter into the holiest in the power and efficacy of His precious blood. But this path can only be trodden through death and resurrection.