Scripture Notes



1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11.

These are but illustrations by which the apostle, as led of the Spirit, expressed the character of his ministry amongst the Thessalonian saints. But how much they reveal of the exercises of his heart in his service in their midst while preaching unto them "the Gospel of God"! First, then, he employs the figure of a nurse - he was gentle among them "as a nurse cherisheth her children." Tender fostering care, combined with watchful love, thus marked him, as he sought, on the one hand, to minister the suited nourishment, and, on the other hand, to guard them from every hurtful and malign influence which was calculated to impede their growth. Secondly, he says, "As ye know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye should walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." In this illustration we have implied that spiritual relationship which had been divinely formed between Paul and these believers. It was through his instrumentality that they had been converted. (Chap. 1:5-6.) They were therefore his children in the faith; and, sustaining this relationship towards them, he was invested with a special responsibility. He therefore sought to train them up in the way they should go; and to this end he exhorted them, when he saw the need of urging them forward; comforted them if they were depressed, despondent, or sorrowful; and charged them individually as to their responsibility, while explaining to them that the standard set before them was, that they should walk worthy of God who had called them unto His kingdom and glory. It was with paternal affection and solicitude that he enforced these things on his beloved children, begotten through the gospel; anxious only that God might be glorified in their walk and conduct, and that they might be stimulated to this through the maintenance of communion with God in the purpose and object of their heavenly calling. As we meditate upon it, we can only exclaim, "What a pattern ministry!" and, at the same time, earnestly pray that many of the Lord's servants may be characterised by these features of the apostolic example.


Deuteronomy 19:16-18.

The question concerning this scripture is whether the directions here given have, in principle, any application to Church discipline. A brief exposition of the passage will best prepare the way for an answer. It will be noted that the instructions of the chapter were given in view of the land into which the Lord was bringing His people. The priests and the judges will therefore represent the channels of the communication of the mind of God (the priests), and the governing authorities (the judges). From v. 15 onwards, the subject dealt with is what may be termed the law of evidence; and it is expressly enjoined that in no case should a man be condemned at the mouth of one witness; that no accusation against another must be accepted unless substantiated by at least two witnesses. The apostle Paul alludes to this, and affirms the principle (2 Cor. 13); and how much sorrow and confusion would have been avoided had saints everywhere accepted, and acted in accordance with it. The readiness, indeed, with which false reports and accusations are received and circulated, calls loudly for humiliation before God. Having dealt with what constitutes sufficient evidence, Moses next treats of the case of a false witness, and lays down most exactly the order of procedure to be observed. Both the witness and the man against whom he has brought a charge are to "stand before the Lord, before the priests, and the judges … and the judges shall make diligent inquisition." From Matthew 18 we learn that in case of personal trespass, which cannot be settled privately, the Church is the ultimate court of appeal. To stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, in Deuteronomy, therefore, will entirely correspond with an assembly investigation now; and the responsibility of undertaking the examination, in both cases, lies upon those who are in the place of rule or government - that is, if we speak of the assembly, upon those who, in fellowship with their brethren, have the place of lead, and possess the confidence of the saints. Then, lastly, if it be proved that the witness has testified falsely, the punishment to be inflicted is specified. But this was under the legal dispensation; and hence, for a similar sin, on its being detected and exposed, the discipline to be meted out must be gleaned from the New Testament scriptures. There is no need, and in fact this would not be the place, to go into details. But it may be remarked that the character of the false testimony - whether unwittingly or wittingly brought  -  would have to be carefully enquired into before the suited discipline could be declared. Finally, it may be added that the Scriptures are all-sufficient for guidance; although the use and application of these can only be made in communion with the mind of God, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Suppose, for example, one guilty of false testimony should refuse to submit to the judgment of the assembly; the person sinned against is directed as to his attitude towards such a one in Matt. 18:17; in other cases, where 1 Cor. 5:13 has not been deemed applicable, Rom. 16:17, 2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15, and similar scriptures, will furnish the requisite wisdom. But as to our own state of soul (if it be a case of sin against ourselves), let us never forget the searching word contained in Col. 3:13 and Eph. 4:32.


Ephesians 4:25.

It is important to notice the exact force of the word rendered "lying"; and the connection will help in its apprehension. In verse 23 the apostle, speaking of the new man, which these believers were said to have put on, tells us that "after God" it was "created in righteousness and true holiness," or, literally, holiness of the truth. All falsehood, therefore, is entirely excluded - could have, indeed, no connection with, or part in, this new creation of God. Hence the apostle proceeds, "Wherefore putting away lying" - which belonged to the old man which had been put off (v. 22)  - "speak every man truth (the characteristic of the new man, together with righteousness) with his neighbour: for we are members one of another." Comprehending this, it will be readily perceived, what has been pointed out by a well-known translator, that "lying," or "falsehood," means "everything that has the character and nature of falsehood. It is abstract: what has this quality, not merely the act of lying." This should be much remembered, inasmuch as, in its application, it might search many of us who might not be betrayed into telling positive untruths. According to the above interpretation, a look, a gesture, demeanour, ambiguity of speech, evasion, compliments, and many other things, might fall under this sense of lying. In other words, the new man could only find expression in what is according to God, and in what, therefore, is marked by righteousness and holiness of the truth. The Christian so walking and so governed would be very real and very devoted; for he would be walking in the power of the Holy Ghost, and consequently have no object but Christ. (See vv. 20, 21.) Remark also the ground on which Paul urges the exhortation - "We are members one of another." To remember this would be a guard against any temptation to "lying," by showing us the character of such a sin against our brethren, bound up as they are with us in such intimate and indissoluble relationships. It may be added for the sake of any who have only the common translation at hand, that verses 22, 24, should be rendered "your having put off … the old man," and "having put on the new." It is regarded as having been done, through the acceptance of death with Christ, and through having been raised with Him, which is' a very different thing from being exhorted to do it.