Scripture Notes


2 Thessalonians 2:3.

The "falling away" in this scripture is the Greek word for, and what is generally understood by, APOSTASY. This is not backsliding, but an entire departure from, and a renunciation of, Christianity. It is what John speaks of as marking the Antichrist, the denial of the Father and the Son. In this chapter this is given, because the apostle is speaking of it in its full and manifested form, as preceding the day of Christ, the day which will be introduced at His appearing, and as connected with the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition. But we are not to forget that the signs of the apostasy, just as there were many antichrists in John's day heralding the Antichrist, may already be detected. The "higher criticism" which, claiming larger light and greater liberality, is slowly and surely undermining the authority of the Scriptures; the rationalism which refuses to accept what cannot be fathomed and understood by the human mind; the lawlessness of man which casts aside all divine restraints; and the professed advocates of Christianity who desire to be esteemed as the leaders of the age - all these combined, together with ritualism, are rapidly forming the minds of men to discard Christianity as an effete and obsolete thing. The very air is infected with the apostatising spirit, so that our only safety lies in keeping the word of Christ and not denying His name, while daily waiting for His return.


John 16:23-24.

A little confusion has often prevailed in the use of the phrases "for Christ's sake," and "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." We are not aware that the former is ever connected with prayer in the Scriptures. A case or two may, however, be adduced to explain its import. John says, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." (1 John 2:12.) Exactly rendered it might be said, "because" or "on account of His name." That is, they had been freely forgiven "by reason of" the value of the name of Christ to God because He had fully glorified Him in all that He is, in His death upon the cross. The instance in Ephesians 4:32 is a mistranslation: it should read, "Even as God in Christ hath forgiven you." It is another phrase altogether where Peter says, "I will lay down my life for Thy sake": here it means "on Thy behalf," or even "in Thy stead." Coming now to what is found in John 16, as to prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in the name of the Son (as in chapter 14), it should be first observed that our access to our God and Father is always and only through Christ. As Paul writes, "For through Him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father." We cannot come in any other way. But coming thus "through Him" before God the question is at once met, What is praying in His name? It could not be using His name as a plea, or entreating to be heard for His sake, because the Lord says, without any limitation whatever, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you." By praying in His name, then, we understand appearing before the Father on His behalf, and as warranted to be there by Him, so that we are there with all the Son's claim upon the Father's heart, and taken up in the power of the Holy Ghost to utter and pray for, in communion with His own heart, all that He Himself desires to be accomplished for the Father's glory and His own joy. Praying, then, in His name is to intercede for His own interests, His own desires, objects, and ends. If this be so, this character of prayer has no reference to our own personal needs or circumstances; indeed, it could not. And let it not be forgotten that there is a circle in which we have no needs, because we are lost, absorbed in the Father's counsels for the glory of His beloved Son. At the same time we have full liberty to come at all times, through our blessed Lord, into the presence of God, and to tell out everything that burdens our hearts (Phil. 4:6-7); only this is not praying "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."


1 Corinthians 4:6.

In this verse we have the key to the schools of opinion, the various parties, which had sprung up in the assembly at Corinth. To the superficial reader it might seem as if Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and even Christ Himself, had been chosen as party leaders; and as if each party were boasting in the superiority of their chosen leader above the rest. It is very plain that the assembly in this city was rent asunder by divisions and contentions (chapter 1:10-11), and that the saints had ranged themselves around their favourite teachers; but the scripture before us makes it exceedingly doubtful if any of the apostles were named among the selected leaders. As we understand the matter, it was as follows: the apostle was grieved to the heart over the state of things in Corinth, and he was led in the power of the Spirit to rebuke the saints there for their self-will in destroying their unity by their foolish personal preferences. To be able to speak more plainly, and even vehemently, he transferred these things in a figure to himself and to Apollos. Thus he could not well say, without being charged with envy, Who is this leader or that? but he could say, without arousing any opposition, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." In this way the apostle dwarfed the servant, however honoured and eminent among the saints, into his true place of nothingness, in order to magnify God as the fount and source of all blessing. The application to the existing state of things at Corinth was, on this very account, all the more powerful; and it was intended to be so, that the saints might learn, in himself and Apollos, not to think of men above that which is written, and that no one of them might be puffed up for one against another. The lesson of the whole thing is given in the preceding chapter. "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." Blessed are those who have learned this simple and glorious truth; for then they will seek after everything which will make for unity in the Spirit, and avoid everything which would tend to cause dissensions, discords, and divisions.