Scripture Notes


Galatians 5:6.

In going back to Judaism the Galatians were really going back to the ground of the first man; and hence the energetic language of the apostle in chapter 1: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." The difficulty of every age is the same, viz., to maintain the truth that Christianity is wholly a new thing which displaces everything else; that it belongs to a new sphere, and is of a new order altogether; that the first man, who is of the earth earthy, is for ever set aside in the cross of Christ; and that it is the second Man out of heaven who is the Man of God's counsels, and the One to whom all the race, of which He is the Head, is to be conformed. (1 Cor. 15:47-49.) To apprehend this will help the reader to understand the language of our scripture. Circumcision, etc., had to do with man in the flesh, and since this man has been removed from the eye of God in judgment, these fleshly distinctions could not now obtain; in Christ Jesus they could not avail anything, for in Him we pass into a new scene where everything has become new. (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15.) What does avail, Paul says, is faith which worketh by love. That is, love is the divine nature, and as such is the soil in which faith thrives and grows, faith itself being as much of God as love. The greater the activity of the divine nature in us - love - the greater will be the increase of our faith, which is the blessed fruit of the divine Spirit. (v. 22.) It is thus very significant that, in detailing the various characters of the fruit of the Spirit, love should be given as heading the list, as the root and ground of all the rest.


Romans 5:9.

This expression "justified by His blood" is scarcely exactly rendered: it should be, we judge, "in virtue of His blood"; for, as chapter 4:24-25, shows, the resurrection of Christ was necessary for our justification. But the blood of Christ, as the all-powerful testimony to the righteousness of God, laid the foundation on which God could be "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." We see no objection therefore to the statement that the blood of Christ was the "procuring cause" of our justification. Even in Egypt the blood upon the houses of the children of Israel, the witness before God that the judgment of death which lay upon His people had been borne by another, was the efficacious ground on which He acted to bring His people out, through the Red Sea, and to Himself. It secured, indeed, everything according to His purposes of grace for them, but still they were not set free, nor could they sing the song of redemption until they had passed through the waters of the Red Sea, wherein the whole power of the enemy was swallowed up and destroyed. In like manner the source and ground of our justification are clearly given in chapter 3 (vv. 24-26); but it is not until we come to chapter 4 and 5 that we find the fact of justification. Nothing could indeed be plainer, for we read that righteousness shall also be reckoned to us, "if we believe on Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." As everything begins for God with the resurrection of His beloved Son, so also for the believer, for the moment he apprehends the resurrection of Christ he is brought into the light of another world, and he understands that the first man has gone for ever from the eye of God, and that Christ, the Second Man, is the object of His eternal counsels.


1 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Timothy 2:21.

It is only in these two places that the word in question is found, and attention to its application will discover very precisely its force and meaning. In the first scripture it is accurately rendered, "purge out" - "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened." Sin had appeared and was tolerated in the midst of the saints at Corinth; this was the leaven of which the apostle speaks as leavening the whole lump. Hence he reminds them of their responsibility, and calls upon them to deal with the evil, to purge it out from the assembly, and to do this, as the last verse of the chapter shows, by putting away from among themselves the wicked person who had committed the sin. In the second scripture the use of the word, while retaining its significance, is different. The apostle has been comparing, for Timothy's instruction, the outward state of Christianity (what we term Christendom) to a great house, in which "there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour." This being the case, and the fact is patent to every spiritual person, what is the Lord's path for the godly? It is to purge himself out from among these vessels of dishonour; he cannot purge them out, nor can he get outside of that outward profession, which has become like this great house; and hence his resource, as here divinely taught, is to purge himself out. As another has paraphrased the word in a well-known translation, in order to give its full meaning, "If, therefore, one shall have purified from these in separating himself from them," etc. And the force of the word entirely justifies this paraphrase, so that there is no excuse whatever for remaining in association with the vessels of dishonour, and no possibility, as long as it is done, of being "a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, [and] prepared unto every good work." We will not go further in this note except to call the reader's attention to the following exhortation, connected as it is with what precedes, "Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

"Love is free when self is dead."