THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCURACY
In the Interpretation of Scripture
The Divine Names and
afford a vast field for the exercise of the principle I am now seeking to advocate and impress upon you. Let me, in a tew words, point out to you the leading features of the chief names and titles, that you may in your own studies be able to learn many lessons which would otherwise have passed unnoticed.
1. "God" Heb. (Elohim), occurs about 2700 times in the Old Testament. It is plural.in its form -and is so translated in Gen. iii. 5; Ps. xcvii. 7; lxxxii. 6; and John x. 34, 35*
( * Elohim is used of one set apart with the solemnity of an oath, and is used specially of the second person of the Trinity, who created all things. Hence, Elohim, is used of one who is set apart to represent another and act for another, and therefore is used of Idols, made to represent the true God. (Ex. xii. 12, Num. xxv. 2, Gen. xxxi. 30,32), of magistrates, Ex. xxi. 6, xxii. 8, 9, 28; of Moses, Ex. vii. 1, made a God unto Pharoah. )
It implies strength, and hence, whenever the word "God" is used, it is the God of creation, and denotes creation- power and glory. It implies merely a creation-relationship. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen i.1.)
2. "Eloah" Heb. is formed from a root, not in use, which means to worship. It denotes, when used of God, - the one living and true God - who alone is worthy of adoration. It is put, therefore, in direct contrast with false gods, or the many gods of the heathen.t
(t In the New Testament expression "the living God," there is always this latent reference to lifeless gods of the heathen. )
There is a beautiful example in Neh. ix. 17: "Thou art a God [Eloah] ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. 18 : Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God [Elohim] ."
Another example occurs in Deut. xxxii. 15 : "Then he forsook God [Eloah] who made him." 17 : "They sacrificed to devils, not to God [Eloah]; to gods [Elohim] whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not."
Still more pointed is Ps. xviii. 31: "Who is God [Eloah] save the Lord " [Jehovah] and Ps. c. 3 " Know ye that the Lord [Jehovah) , He is God [Elohim) ."
3. "Jehovah," (Jehovah), is generally represented by the word printed in capital letters, thus, "LORD" It expresses God, in His covenant relation to His people, sustaining what His hands have made, and directing all to the accomplishing of His own purpose. It is He who was, and is, and is to be *. The word denotes a personal, continuous, absolute existence. Hence, in several passages, the very words," I am that I am" (Ex. iii. 14) are translated in the same chapter (v. 12) "I will be with thee." So also in Gen. xxvi. 3 ; xxxi. 3. It might be well rendered in these passages : " I AM with thee." It marks the eternal, unchanging presence of a covenant God. Jesus uses these words of Himself in speaking to Paul (Acts xviii. 10) " I am with thee," etc., as he does also in John vhi. 58 " Before Abraham was, I AM."
Hence, we read of "the God," never, the Jehovah, because "Jehovah, He is the God." (1 Kings xviii. 39). We hear His people say, "my God," not my Jehovah, because Jehovah implies my God. We read of "the God of Israel," but not the Jehovah of Israel, because there was no other Jehovah for Israel, though Israel frequently went after "other gods." We read, as we have seen, of "the living God;" but never of the living Jehovah, because Jehovah is He who was, and is, and is to be - the ever-living One. For the some reason it is generally "thus saith the Lord," not thus saith God. The full meaning or significance of this name was first revealed in Lx. vi. 2-8:" And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord : And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and Jacub, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known unto them." Immediately, the "covenant" mentioned, and the actings of a covenant God rehearsed, "I have established my covenant;" " I have remembered my covenant; " "I have heard;" "I will bring you out;" "I will rid you ;" "I will redeem; " "I will take you to nie for my people; " "I will be to you a. God" "I will bring you in unto a land" "I will give it you for a heritage" And then the whole is summed up by the declaration with which it commenced, as including all beside, "I am Jehovah."
In Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7, Jehovah still further "proclaims Jehovah," and gives twelve attributes, all included in the name of a covenant-keeping God4 See verse 10 " Behold I make a covenant."
I have mentioned all this, because I want you to notice as you read your Bibles every particular title that is used. You are doubtless aware that in the book of Genesis the name " God," and "Lord" (Elohim and Jehovah) are both frequently used, and that critics, who have little or no reverence for the Bible as the inspired word of God, have invented what is called the Elohistic and Jehovistic theory to account for the use of first one and then another of these names. They have supposed that Moses had before him a number of documents written by two or more individuals, one of whom employed the word "Jehovah," and another the word "Elohim; "that he wove these fragments together, and thus compiled the book of Genesis. This is as far as human wisdom can go without the illuminating Spirit of God. It begins with supposition, and ends with a denial of inspiration.
But how wonderfully does this, when properly considered, set forth and "proclaim the name of Jehovah" as He is elsewhere revealed, "A just God and a Saviour." (Isa. xlv. 21). "Just and yet the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus." (Rom. iii. 26).
Have we not here the full Gospel? God so loving the world - giving His Son, who, when made sin for His people, was not "cleared," but "visited" with the wages of sin, that God might be gracious, longsuffering, merciful, and the giver of eternal life to all who are sheltered by the substitute He has provided.
And what scope there is, for a mind who goes to the Word fully convinced that it is inspired, and feeling the importance of accuracy when studying the words which the Holy Ghost speaketh.
It is impossible, here, to enter into a full investigation of so great and grand a subject, but sufficient may be said to enable you to study it for yourselves and to search it out. Notice; then, accurately, in a few examples, the use and choice of these two words, connecting the meaning of each.
In Gen. I, it is Elohim, or God, because it is Creation, which is treated of as an act of power, but in chs. ii. and iii., where God enters into communion with man, it is the "Lord God" (Jehovah Elohim). In ch. iii., the tempter avoids the use of the name of Jehovah. In ch. iv., it is "Jehovah "who has respect to the offerings, and it is to Him they are brought. In ch. vii. 1 - 5, it is" Jehovah," because the command is in reference to the "clean beasts" which were to be taken into the ark "by sevens," and therefore for sacrifice, and in respect to covenant relation; while in vv. 7 - 9 it is" God," because the command is in reference to the "unclean," as well as the clean, which "went in two and two," evidently with a view merely to creation-relationship.
Sometimes we have both the names in one verse, notably in 2 Ch. xviii. 81 : "It came to pass when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, He is the King of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight : but Jehoshaphat cried out and the LORD [Jehovah] helped him; and GOD [Elohim] moved them to depart from him."
How beautiful is this when we notice accurately the choice of the words. It was to " Jehovah" that Jehoshaphat cried out. It was to one whom he knew, in whom he trusted, and to whom he stood in a covenant relation, who had promised to help and deliver them that call upon Him. But the Syrians knew nothing of Him thus: God (Elohim), who had created them, exercised His power and caused them to depart, but they knew not who or what it was that "moved them."
So, in the next chapter (2 Ch. xix. 6, 7) we read that Jehoshaphat said, when speaking to the Lords people: "Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD [Jehovah] be upon you, take heed and do it" and in v. 9: "Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD." But now notice, ch. xx. 29, that when Jehoshaphat had returned with praises from the overthrow of their enemies, who stood in no such covenant relation, it is written: "And the fear of GOD [Elohim] was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD [Jehovah] fought against the enemies of Israel."
Could anything be more beautiful than the wondrous and minute accuracy of these words of our God. The spiritual mind can see in these things a greater proof of inspiration than in the most elaborate arguments, though they are the very things whereat mere human wisdom stumbles.
The Psalms of David afford us much material for the exercise of the principles of careful observation on the use of these names, viz., Jah or Jehovah on the one hand and El, Eloah and Elohim on the other. The Psalms are divided into five books, the first, second, and third ending with "Amen and Amen." The fourth with "Amen Hallelujah," and the fifth with "Hallelujah."
The FIRST book (Psa. i. - xli.) is the "Genesis" book, the book of the divine counsels; and it gives us the purposes of grace in the person and work of Messiah. Hence we have "Jehovah "272 times, and "Elohim" (God) only 82 times (of which 11 are associated with Jehovah). The SECOND book (Pss. xlii. - lxxii.) is the "Exodus" book: the book that gives us man in ruin, responsibility, and redemption.*
(They are not wholly Messianic, but the Psalm which is specially so stands in contrast to others. For, while in Ps. xxii. we have the "sin-offering" aspect, and in Ps. xl. the "burnt-offering," here in Ps. lxix. we have the ~ where sin is regarded as an injury done to God and man, needing restitution (v. 4). The very word for "my sins" in v. 5 is (Ashmothee), a word closely connected with the " Trespass-offering" (Asham). And then Psalms lxx. - lxxii. give the blessing for Israel, flowing from this trespass-offering of Christ.)
Hence, in this book we have "Elohim" 208 times, and "Jehovah" only 88 times.
The THIRD book (Pss. lxxiii. - lxxxix.) is the "Leviticus" book, the book of the Sanctuary, and gives us, in its 17 Psalms, the holiness of God and His requirements - His way "in the sanctuary." f Hence, in the first section (lxxiii. - lxxxiii.), which gives the requirements of the sanctuary in relation to man (Israel), and the enemy in the midst of the congregation (Pss. lxxiv. 4 and lxxix. 1, &c.), we have "Elohim" 60 times and "Jehovah" only 14; while in the second section (lxxxiv. - lxxxix.), which gives the requirements of the sanctuary as met in Christ, and the Lord loving the gates of Zion and speaking glorious things concerning her, (Ps. lxxxvii. &c.), we have "Elohim" only 20 times (of which 7 are associated with Jehovah), but Jehovah 32 times.
The FOURTH book (Pss. xc. - cvi.) is the "Numbers" book, the book of the wilderness, and, like the third, is short, con taining only 17 Psalms. It begins with "a prayer of Moses the man of God " - the funeral Psalm of "the wilderness." Messiah is again introduced as the one who returns to the world, 80 long destitute of His manifested presence, and changes the wilderness into the garden of the Lord. Ps. xc. is an epitome of the whole book, ending "Return, 0 Lord, how long," "0 satisfy us early with Thy mercy," etc Hence, in this book, "Jehovah" as the covenant God, the coming one, in the prevailing name, and occurs 107 times, while we have " Elohim" (God) only 27 (of which 12 are associated with Jehovah).
The FIFTH book (Pss. cvii. - cl.) is the "Deuteronomy" - book, and gives us the ways of God, and the works of God in grace and glory. Here again the first Ps. (cvii.) (like the first Psalm in each book) gives an epitome of all that follows. We have, in v. 2, redemption, as the starting-point; v. 7, guidance; v. 14, enlightenment; v. 19, deliverance; v. 29, 30, preservation; v. 42, final victory. While in vv. 1, 8, 15, 21, 31, we have a five-fold call to praise God for His goodness, answering to the five sections + of this fifth book of praise, which alone ends with the single word " Hallelujah" (i.e., Praise ye the Lord). Hence, as we might expect, we have "Jehovah" 268 times, and "Elohim" only 40 times (of which 8 are associated with Jehovah).*
* The following is a summary of the whole: -
|. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. JAR OR
The First Book . . . . . . .. . . . 272
The Second Book . . . . . .. . . .33
The Third Book §1. . . . . . . ..14
. . " . . . " . . . " . §2 . . . . . . . . 32
The Fourth Book . . . . . . . . . 107
The Fifth Book . . . . . . .. . . .269
| EL, ELOAH or ELOHIM.
In all these cases the very exceptions prove how exact and
true the rule is.
It is impossible to do more here than thus briefly to put, as it were, a key into your hands, which each one must for himself put into the lock of the Word, and pray : "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."
If we have in one case (Ps. xiv. 2), "Jehovah looked down from heaven," and in another (Ps. liii. 2), "Elohim looked down from heaven," are we to suppose it is written without design? If we read in one Ps. (xiv. 4), The wicked "call not upon Jehovah," and in another Ps. (liii. 4)," They have not called upon Elohim," are we to profanely call these fanciful distinctions, as though the Holy Ghost had not indited them? Nay, let us carefully study the most apparently trivial difference as a matter of the greatest importance, and then we shall find it to be of the deepest interest to the spiritual mind. Let every word and every sentence of the inspired word be solemnly pondered; let nothing be passed over as unimportant; let us honour Gods word and He will honour us.
We must not leave the word "Jehovah" without noticing one of several combinations, viz.
3."Jehovah Elohim." We have this title ("the Lord God ") for the first time in Gen. ii. 4, where the God of creation comes into communion with man as yet unfallen. It is used 20 times in chaps. ii. and iii., and then, after the fall, when man has been driven forth, it is very seldom used. (The title "the Lord God" which occurs so frequently, especially in the prophets, is literally "Adonai Jehovah ") *
( * It ought to be noted that when the word is printed in small ordinary letters "Lord," it is either ADON, ADONIM or ADONAI, and would seem to be used of Messiah, as once humbled but now exalted as Lord over all. The primitive signification of the root word is to be low or humble, but the root is obsolete, and the meaning by a mysterious change has come to be, to judge, to rule. Hence - Adon, denotes the Lord of all power and might, the Lord of the whole earth. (Ex. xxiii. 17; xxxiv. 23; Josh. iii. 11, 13; Ps. cvii. 5; cx. 1; cxiv. 7; Is. i. 24; iii. 1; x. 16, 33; xix. 4; Mic. iv. 13; Zech. iv. 14; vi. 5; and Mal. iii. 1.) Adonim, denotes the Lord, as owner, possessor and proprietor of all. The plural of majesty and authority. (Deut. x. 17; Neh. iii. 5; viii. 10; x. 29; Ps. viii. 1,9; xlv. 11; cxxxv. 5; cxxxvi. 3; cxlvii. 5; Is. li. 22; and Hos. xii. 14.) ADONAI, denotes the Lord who speaks by the prophets, and accomplishes all the purposes of Jehovah; to whom His people address their prayers; and from whom they receive their blessing (in all other passages when "Lord" is used of the Divine Being). )
We have already seen from the Psalms that the time is coming when there will be no more curse. Then the word of JEHOVAH will be fulfilled, which He spake when He said "I will be their God," when "the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God." That is what the title "Jehovah-Elohim" implies and involves.
4. "Almighty God." (Shaddai), really indicates the power of God in the fulness of His riches and resources, the all bountiful giver. Read Gen. xxviii. 8. "El Shaddai bless thee and make thee fruitful and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people." So also Geii. xvii. 1, 6; xxxv. 11; xliii. 14; xlix. 25. Shaddai is used only once again with "EL" V1Z., Ezek. x. 5.t Its first occurrence affords us a beautiful example. Gen.xvii. 1: I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect." Here, when God was calling Abraham to walk before Him, and to live the life of faith, the title which he chose to use was not God or Lord, but "EL SHADDAI," the one who was almighty in resources to support and defend him, to supply all his need. On the other hand, the last occurrence of the title, in Rev. xix. 15, shows that the same One is also almighty in resources and power to take vengeance on His enemies. " He treadeth the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God." It is significant that this should be the chosen title of all those who know not God in Christ. They speak of Him as "Almighty God " - by that very title in which He takes vengeance on all who "know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"
One other passage, in 2 Cor. vi. 14-18, shows that when the child of God is now called out from the world to be separate, and to live the life of faith, a similar title is used to that which was used with Abraham under similar circumstances, and for a similar reason. " Ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
5. "The Most High God," (Elyon) is the Millennial title, setting forth Gods sublimity (as SHADDAI does His bounty, and ELOHIM His power, and JEHOVAH His covenant).
It is His title as ruling over, and acting, on the earth as well as in the heavens. See Gen. xiv. 18-22; Deut. xxxii. 8 (compare Acts xvii. 26); Ps. xviii. 13; lxxviii. 35; lxxxix. 27; xcvii. 9. Wherever this title occurs it embraces and implies the exercise of power and blessing over the earth, when He shall, in His Melchisedec character,be "A priest upon His throne" (Zch.vi. 13).
Five times is "the Most High" used in Dan. iv., and five times in Dan. vii., in order to show that this is the title He assumes when it is declared that it is He who "ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever He will."
6. "The Lord of the Whole Earth" is a title which we have first in Josh. iii. 11,13, and used when He took possession of the land. Joshua was the type of Him by whom He would accomplish it, and Canaan was then a pledge of it.
But soon the land was polluted, and Ezekiel sees in vision the glory departing, (i.ix). God no longer finding a throne on it. Afterwards he sees the glory returning (xliii). He sees in vision what will take place when this title will be re-asserted. Rev. xi. 4. (See also Zech. iv. and vi. 5). Men will be willing to own Him as the "God of Heaven (Rev. xi. 13): but not till after the judgments of seals and trumpets and vials will the earth be delivered and the song of praise burst forth (Rev. xi. 15) "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever."
7. "The God of Heaven." This is the title which God assumes during the time of Israels dispersion.
While they are "lo-ammi, not my people,* (* In the five books written after the captivity they are not once called " my people" by God, - except as they may be viewed prophetically. )
He finds no home and throne in this world. He sometimes interferes, it is true, but He acts from heaven, no longer from His place on earth between the cherubim. Hence, this title is almost exclusively confined to the books which refer to that period, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, &c. It is used about 20 times altogether, while He acts in and from heaven, but not upon earth. He controls all, for the discipline and blessing of His people. The application is too clear to need any citation of passages.
We pass on now to consider the
New Testament Divine Titles. So little attention has been paid to these titles of the Lord Jesus Christ, that few imagine there is any significance in their choice or order. But enough has already been said to convince us of the importance of accuracy in noticing and studying every detail. So numerous are these variations, that in Pauls Epistles alone there are seventeen different combinations of the words "Lord," "Jesus," and "Christ." * Unless these words are used at random, there must be a reason why, if certain words are used, no other words would have answered the same purpose. For example, if it says "Jesus Christ," we must believe that "Christ Jesus" would not have been appropriate. Whether we may ever discover a reason, or whether the reason I now submit may be the right one, does not alter the fact.
I was led to the conclusion at which I have arrived from the circumstance of counting the number of occurrences of each name and the various combinations. When I discovered that the Resurrection was the great line of demarcation, the reason was not far to seek. When I found that in the Gospels "Jesus" occurs alone, 612 times, and in the other books only 71 (out of which 38 are in the transitional book of the Acts) : while in all the four Gospels "CHRIST" occurs alone only 56 times, and in the other books 256, the reason was clear. But let us look at the names in order : -
1. Jesus " (lesous). It means not merely "a saviour," because there is another word for that. It means really Jehovah our Saviour. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. i. 21). It was, therefore, the name of His earthly life, and was associated with Him as the sin-bearer the sufferer, the man of sorrows. It was the name of His humiliation and shame. It was the name under which He was crucified. "This is Jesus" was the inscription on the Cross.
Notice then, that though it occurs alone some 683 times, it never occurs with an adjective. Let us learn to observe accurately what is omitted, as well as what is written, and never say with Romanists and sentimental Christians, "blessed Jesus," "dear Jesus," "sweet Jesus." Nothing car add to the perfection of His person, His works or His ways : - He needs no adjective to set Him forth. Let us also be accurate in our use of scripture expressions. If we were all more careful in this matter, there would hot be so many and great differences between us. Again, the expression "in Jesus" * is not a scriptural expression.
(*True, the expression does occur once in the English version in 1 Thess. iv. 14, "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." It is not (en Iesou) in Jesus, but it is (diaton leson) "by means of Jesus," by or through Jesus. It denotes the agent or instrument by which a thing is done, and means here that Jesus will be Gods agent to awake the sleeping saints and bring them from their graves. The whole verse teaches that, as God brought Jesus again from the dead (Heb. xlii. 20), so will He bring from the dead, by Jesus, all the sleeping saints. We have the same truth in 2 Cor. iv. 14. "He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus" )
"Yours in Jesus" is written in epistolary correspondence, because the writers have not noticed that we are never said to be "in Jesus:" but, as we shall presently see, we are always said to be "in Christ."
Jesus, was His earthly name; and suffering, sorrow, and death were His earthly lot. But God raised Him from the dead, and then all was changed. "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts ii. 36). God has now ordained that the scene of His suffering shall be the scene of His glory, and "that at the name of Jesus [not the Lord, or Christ] every knee shall bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. ii. 10, 11).
Whenever, therefore, you meet with the word "Jesus," alone, it bids you think of "the man of sorrows," who humbled Himself to death for you.
2. "Christ" (Christos). This word means "anointed." It speaks of Him as the Anointed One. Anointed and appointed to carry out the gracious covenant of Jehovah as the light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel.
As I have said, it occurs only about 56 times in the four Gospels, and then it is generally with the article, the Christ, His official title. The Christ, who came unto His own, and was set for the blessing of Israel. But Israel knew not the day of their gracious visitation. They saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. But now, as raised from the dead, He is made the head of His body - the church, anointed for blessing to His people. In the other books therefore, we have this title 256 times, setting Him forth as the risen and glorified One defining the believers position as justified and accepted in Him. And hence, believers are always said to be "in Christ," quickened with Him, raised with Him, sitting together in the heavenlies with Him, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Him. We connect our position with Him as Christ, but we connect our responsibility to Him as -
3. "Lord" (Kurios). This title (according to its meaning) sets Him forth as the One who owns, and therefore as one having power and authority. Whenever we find this title, this is the thought connected with it. It is a title connected with the privileges and responsibilities of our position and standing "IN Christ." All the various conditions of life are associated with Him as "Lord"
Marriage : - " Marry only in the Lord," not merely "in Christ." That would mean you must marry only a Christian, but this means more, - not only that you are to marry a Christian, but, in doing so, you are to say "If the Lord will": you are to recognize His authority - whom you are to acknowledge in all your ways.
Wives : - " As it is fit in the Lord" (Col. iii. 18).
Children: - " Children, obey your parents in the Lord (Eph. vi. 1).
Servants : - " Do it heartily as to the Lord" (Col. iii. 28).
Believers : - - It is "the Lords supper," "the cup of the Lord, ~1the body and blood of the Lord," "the Lords table" (1 Cor. xi). He, therefore, has a right to command, and say, "Do this in remembrance of me."
Unbelievers : - " No man can say that Jesus is the LORD but by the Holy Ghost." He may say He is Jesus or Christ, but to say that He is "Lord" is to take Him for our Master as well as our Saviour, it is to bow our wills to His, and take His yoke upon us. That is the work of the Holy Ghost.
4. "Jesus Christ." When we have this combination, the emphasis is on the first word, and our thoughts are conveyed from what He was to what He is, from His humiliation to His exaltation. You may translate it in your own minds as you read, "The humbled one who is now exalted," or "The suffering one who is now glorified." In every instance you will find the most remarkable accuracy.
5. "Christ Jesus" conveys just the opposite thought. The glorified one who was once humbled. The exalted one who once suffered and died.
I must not stop to give you many examples. The whole New Testament is one vast example. You will not find, however, each passage equally clear. Sometimes you will see it at once, and it will give you the thought of the context; at another time, the context will tell you why the titles are used in a particular order.
Look at Phil. ii. 5 : "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Why "Christ Jesus" ? Why not " Jesus Christ"? Because the thought of the context is - from what He was to what He is. The next verse explains, "Who being in the form of God . . . made Himself of no reputation," &c.
Phil. i. 1, 2 : "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of JESUS CHRIST, to all the saints IN CHRIST JESUS. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the LORD JESUS CHRIST."
Here the Apostles were servants of Jesus (now exalted) - servants of tile one who sent them forth even as He was Himself sent forth, as a servant: but they wrote to the saints who were "in Christ" (once humbled) - and they prayed that, as LORD and Master He would send forth to them grace and peace.
6. Son of Man is the title which sets Him forth in His hu man nature, as the "second man," and as the "last Adam."
7. Son of God is the title which reveals Him in His divine nature, and in His relation to God. Hence, in Him all who believe are "called the sons of God."*
(* Similarly the title "Son of Abraham" relates to his being the heir of the promise and the land, as "Son of David" does to his being heir of the kingdom and the throne. )
There is an important difference to be observed in the use and choice of these names. Sometimes they occur in close proximity. Notably in John v. 25. The hour is coming "when the dead shall hear the voice of the SON OF GOD and they that hear shall live." It is as Son of God that He is the quickener of the dead, as is explained in the next verse : "For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the SON OF MAN." It is as Son of Man that He will judge, as it is written : "God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by THAT MAN whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts xvii. 31). In conclusion, let me exhort you to be accurate, not merely in your reading and in your study of the Bible, but in your quotation and interpretation of it.
Do not sit down to interpret it, but sit down before it that it may interpret to you the will and purposes of God.
It is too often assumed that God never means exactly what He says; and persons go to His word not simply to learn what He SAYs, but to tell us what He means, which is very often some thing quite different. But may we not ask: If the Holy Ghost meant just that, why did He not say just that?
For example, if He says Jerusalem or Zion, Why must we suppose that He meant the church? If He says "Euphrates," why are we to assume that He meant to say Turkey, etc.? If we wish to know how we are to interpret unfulfilled prophecy, we have an infallible guide in that which has been already fulfilled.
We have for example Pa. xxii. and Isa. liii., which both speak minutely of the sufferings and death of Christ: and every detail has been fulfilled literally. We have also Ps. lxxii. and Isa. xi., which both speak of the future reign of Christ: and, though each is from another part of the same book, yet a different principle of interpretation is commonly applied.
In the one case, "They pierced my hands and my feet" is literal; in the other, "The wolf shall lie down with the lamb" is said to be figurative!
In the one case, "They cast lots upon my vesture" is literal but in the other, "The leopard shall lie down with the kid" said to be figurative!
In the one case, "They part my garments among them" literal; in the other, "The lion shall eat straw like the ox" is said to be figurative! Does not such a principle of interpreting the scriptures carry its own condemnation with it?
And yet may we not ask how such scriptures as Pss. xxii. xl. lxix. and isa. xlix. and liii. appeared to those who lived before they were fulfilled?
To the great majority, the word of the Prophet applied (Isa. liii. 1), "Who hath believed our report?" Many, who did profess to believe, made the word of God of none effect by their tradition, and dealt with that word precisely in the same way that many do now. They would not have it that their Messiah was to suffer, and so they said that such a passage as Isa. liii. referred to Isaiah himself, or Josiah, or to the whole body of the prophets personified.*
(* As many Christians today declare that, though Christ suffered, He is not "to reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Luke i. 32, 33). )
But thank God there were those who believed and trusted in His word.
If we ask how such men as Hezekiah, Josiah, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Mary, Simeon, and Joseph of Arimathea, treated the Word, and acted in the face of scriptures which must have been hard to understand, though clear now to us; we are told in 1 Peter i. 10-12: "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you : searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow which things the angels desire to look into,"
Luke x. 24, Jesus said, "I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see," etc.
Luke ii. 25: "Simeon . . was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel."
Luke ii. 38: "Anna . served God . night and day . and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Mark xv. 43 : "Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor also waited for the kingdom of God."
Let us then, dear friends, be in the company of those "angels," "prophets and kings," "just and devout" persons who "served God night and day," " honourable counsellors." Let us, like them, " enquire," and " search diligently," " desire to look into," "desire to see," "wait," and "look for" the fulfilment of that which our hearts long for. Now, we know only "in part" - but that which is perfect is coming; then shall many a prophecy, parable, and portion, which while here was obscure to us, and " hard to be understood," be all made plain and clear; for we shall then be "for ever with the Lord," who we may believe will still be the expounder of scripture to His people, as He was to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead - when "beginning at Moses and all the prophets He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning HIMSELF."
"These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning ME. Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scripture" (Luke xxiv. 27, 32, 44).
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