Scripture Notes


Acts 3:15, Acts 5:31, etc.

The word translated "Prince" in these scriptures is only found in two other places in the New Testament. In Hebrews 2:10 it is rendered "captain," and in chapter 12:2 the word "author" is chosen to express its meaning. This variation is sufficient to show that there is some difficulty in finding an equivalent term in English. This much indeed is stated in a note on the first of our scriptures in the New Translation. The writer says, "It is a 'leader,' but it is more. It is used for one who begins and sets a matter on. .… So in Hebrews 12:2: he began and finished the whole course; the 'origin' or 'originator,' though the word is harsh in connection with life." So much for the exactitude of its significance: for simple readers, at least in three cases out of the four, it might be presented as "the first to tread the path." Take, for example, Acts 3:15, where it is given as the Prince of life: to say that our Lord was the first to tread the path of life through death in resurrection gives a very intelligible meaning. As He Himself says in spirit in Psalm 16, "Thou wilt show me the path of life" - i.e., in resurrection; and having trodden it He becomes the Leader in it of all His people. So also in Hebrews 2:10 we may equally say that He was the first to tread the path of salvation. As we read in chapter 5, He cried "unto Him that was able to save Him 'out of' [not from] death," etc., and this is termed His salvation in Psalms 20, 21. Again, having trodden this path He conducts His people along the same road to the same goal. Hebrews 12:2 is simpler, because it presents the Lord as the Man of faith, as the first to run the whole course, and to complete it in all its perfection, so that He, and He alone, is the blessed and perfect example of all that follow therein. Acts 5:31 is a little more difficult, because there He is spoken of as a Prince and a Saviour. But it must be remembered that it is in His resurrection and exaltation that He becomes the Leader and Saviour of Israel; and that His pathway to this position and glory led through the cross and the grave. (Compare Acts 13:32-39.) It will therefore really fall under the same interpretation. One thing more may be added to complete this view. Not only was our blessed Lord the first to tread the path in these several connections, and the consequent Leader of His people, but, as their Leader, He also secures the result and the goal for all His redeemed. How blessed!


1 Corinthians 11:27-34.

A good deal of confusion has been produced, we cannot doubt, as well as perplexity, in timid souls through the imperfect rendering of some of the words in this scripture. After setting forth the true meaning of the Lord's Supper, as he had received it from the Lord Himself, the apostle proceeds to point out the danger of eating and drinking unworthily. Those who fall into this sin are guilty (we give the words of the New Translation) "in respect of the body and of the blood of the Lord." This eating and drinking unworthily is explained in v. 29 to be (referring to the "eating") "not distinguishing (or discerning) the body." By this we understand that if in eating the bread and drinking the cup we do not connect it with the thing signified - the Lord's body and the Lord's blood - we eat and drink unworthily. It is not a question, as often remarked, whether we are worthy to partake, for that in ourselves we never are nor shall be, but it refers solely to the manner of eating - through carelessness or indifference of soul. That we may not be betrayed into this snare, the apostle urges that a man should "examine" himself. The word is really "prove" or "test"; that is, before partaking of the Lord's Supper, we should, as in the presence of God, test our spiritual condition, in order that, everything having been brought out into the light, nothing might be allowed to hinder us when remembering the Lord. The ground on which this is pressed is that if we eat and drink unworthily (for this is the apostle's meaning, whether "unworthily" is to be read in this verse or not) we eat and drink - not damnation, but judgment, or what may be a ground of judgment (see notes in New Translation) to ourselves, not distinguishing (or discerning) the body, or the Lord's body. To make clear what he meant, the apostle then points out that the Lord had found in the assembly at Corinth matter for judgment in this respect, and that, on this account, His hand had been on many of the saints, as weakness, and sickness, and even death among them testified. It was in these ways the Lord had dealt with those who had partaken of the supper unworthily. Would they desire to be exempt from this dealing of the Lord? If they did, the way was to judge themselves, that they might not be judged. The word "judge," as applied to ourselves, is really the same as translated "discern" in v. 29. But, as has been pointed out by another, discerning here is not the whole action implied. Discerning is to ascertain our state, and then, if the state need it, judgment upon it will follow. That having been truly done, there will be nothing left for the Lord to judge, and so we shall not be judged. But there is another thing; and nothing tends more fully to bring out the Lord's heart of love in dealing with His people. If through failure to judge ourselves, we are judged, we are chastened ("disciplined") of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Blessed assurance! The Lord loves His people to the end, and if His hand press heavily upon them, it is to preserve their souls. The apostle then resumes his connection with vv. 21-22, and finally gives a direction that when the saints come together they might not come for judgment, that is, might not come together and eat and drink unworthily, and thus bring down upon themselves the Lord's hand in judgment for discipline. These considerations are of the utmost importance, and need to be often pondered in the presence of God, that we may be found together in the enjoyment of the Lord's love, and thus for His pleasure when gathered around Himself according to His own desire.