Scripture Notes


1 Peter 1:1-2.

It is quite true that all believers are strangers in this world (for they are not of it), and that they are "scattered." But Peter, it must be remembered, was the apostle of the circumcision; and as such he wrote his epistles to the believers among the Jews, and to those who were found in the various places named in the first verse. A more exact translation is "to the sojourners of the dispersion"; that is, he addressed those who were outside the limits of Palestine, and who were living in these several provinces of Asia Minor. The term "dispersion" (scattered abroad) is a technical word for their description. (See John 7:35; James 1:1.) The meaning of "strangers" or sojourners is simply living in a strange place. In chapter 2:11 the same word is employed with the addition of another, signifying "aliens" or "foreigners." It is rendered in our version "strangers and pilgrims"; and these terms exactly describe what these believers were, and what indeed all Christians are. We are not at home, and we are therefore strangers; we are passing through this world, and thus, as on a journey, we are pilgrims. In verse 2 we have a very striking setting forth (a contrast, we doubt not, with Israel as the earthly people) of the peculiar blessedness of these chosen ones from among the Jewish nation. They were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (compare Ephesians 1:4-5), and thus the object of His eternal counsels, and to know God, not now as Jehovah, but as their God and Father in the intimate relationship of children, doubtless in association with Christ, as in John 20:17. The accomplishment of God's counsels was to be "through sanctification of the Spirit," for it was by His mighty power they were set apart for the glory of God. The end of their election of God the Father was - for we do not in this epistle go beyond the earth, precisely because it is addressed to sojourners - "unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Formerly they had been set apart to obey the old covenant, the ten commandments; now Christ was to be their pattern, and they were to obey as He obeyed. (See 1 John 2:6.) They were moreover separated unto God, to be brought under all the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, to be perfected for ever, as to the conscience, by the value of His one sacrifice, that they might be free both in heart and conscience before God to run in the way of His commandments, and live by every word which proceeded out of His mouth. Happy people they surely were as placed in such a blessed position, and begotten as they were to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead unto an incorruptible and heavenly inheritance.


1 Corinthians 15:45-49.

If careful attention be given to the words of the apostle, a marked distinction will be perceived between the terms "the last Adam" and "the second Man," although both are applied to our blessed Lord. The first of these - used in contrast with "the first man Adam" - refers to headship - the headship of a race. After Adam fell in the garden of Eden, he became the head of a fallen race (see Romans 5:12 - 14); and Christ in like manner, after His death and resurrection, became the Head of a new race; and hence it is said, As in Adam all die - all who stand in connection with him as their head - even so in Christ shall all - all who are of His race - be made alive; for the last Adam "became" a quickening Spirit. He is called the last Adam to teach us that there is, and will be, no other head. In Him, and His race, God's eternal counsels of grace will be for ever accomplished. But the terms "the first man" and "the second Man," as may be seen from the language employed, denote the order or character - in both cases derived from their heads - of the respective races. Thus "the first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is [the Lord] from [out of] heaven." (v. 47.) The origin of Adam was the earth, and that of Christ was heaven; and this determined the order, Adam being the earthy, and Christ the heavenly Man. Then we are told that "as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy"; that as all of Adam's race, still under him as head, partake of his own order, as he was "earthy," so are all of his race earthy. On the other hand, "as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly"; that is, all who are under the headship of Christ partake of His order, and are therefore heavenly. And so completely are the two races identified with the order or character of their heads that the apostle, speaking of those who belong to Christ, can add, "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." In this he refers to the resurrection, when the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and when those who are living will be changed, when the bodies of humiliation - the "earthy" bodies of the saints - will be fashioned like unto the glorified body of our blessed Lord. Let it then never be forgotten that all belong to the first or the last Adam; and in view of the solemn and far-reaching consequences as to each race, the question may be well put to everyone who reads these lines, Do you belong to Adam or to Christ?


1 Corinthians 1:21.

As may be seen in the note in the New Translation, "the foolishness of preaching" does not refer to the act of preaching, but to its subject-matter. The apostle thus says in verse 23, "We preach Christ crucified … unto the Greeks foolishness." To those cultured intellectual men it savoured of complete folly to proclaim salvation through One who had been ignominiously put to death on a cross. It offended their pride, because it made nothing of man, and was the means by which God made foolish the wisdom of this world. Alas! the offence of the cross has not yet ceased; and hence every effort is being made to obscure, or to undermine, the character of the work which was wrought out in the death of Christ. That He died as a martyr all will gladly concede; but that He died under the hand of God, and therefore glorified Him on account of our sin, even many of the professed advocates of Christianity absolutely refuse. But "the foolishness of God" is "wiser than men," and the divinely-taught soul rejoices to know that the only foundation on which it can peacefully repose before God is that finished work, which was accomplished on Calvary, and which was testified to by the resurrection of Christ from among the dead.