GOVETT ON SECOND TIMOTHY
SCHOETTLE PUBLISHING CO., INC.
First Printing – James Nisbet & Co.
Second Printing – Schoettle Publishing Co. 1989
Paul’s Last Imprisonment. Its Causes and Lessons - Pages 1-15
The Gospel of Eternal Life. 2 Tim. 1. - Pages 16-19
The Soldier, The Wrestler, The Husbandman - Pages 20-26
Denial Of The First Resurrection. 2 Tim. 2: 14-21. - Pages 45-52
The Foundation And Its Seal. - Pages 53-75
Inspiration Of Scripture. - Pages 76-81
* * * * * * *
The Last Days;
and the First Resurrection;
Thoughts on Paul’s Last Epistle.
Paul’s Last Imprisonment. Its Causes And Lessons.
2 Timothy 4: 9-22.
HAS the reader ever examined with a magnifying glass a good photograph of a landscape? Such a view at once gives a strong feeling of the reality of that which we gaze on. We feel sure there is such a scene. This part of it seems to come forward; that to draw back; we are in the midst of it.
Like this is the Scripture narrative. Not only are its direct statements true; but when you put one part beside another, fresh and confirmatory aspects of the state of things present themselves.
is proposed to treat of the 2nd
of Timothy, as offering counsels of the
utmost value to the Christian [Page 2] in these latter times. This
Epistle appears to have been written during the apostle’s second imprisonment
have, in the Second Epistle, notices of the route he took after his freedom was
gained. He had gone to
But hereupon at once starts up a difficulty.
Paul was previously at
Was Paul mistaken in his prophecy? I suppose not. He spoke by [divine] inspiration. In that speech he foretold, that wolves would enter the Ephesian flock, and not spare it. (2) He foretold also, that teachers from among the elders themselves would give forth perverse doctrine, and from parties, to carry away the disciples.* These things had now proved true as [Page 3] both Epistles to Timothy prove. Paul knew, too, that in every city troubles awaited him; and this was fulfilled.
* Not “disciples.” The article is in the Greek.
How, then, are we to reconcile the two statements?
Epistle before us will, I believe, supply all the needful information, and
present views of much moral and spiritual interest. Paul, we suppose, was sailing along the coast
of Asia Minor, with Trophimus and others, on his way to
Who is this Alexander?
before Paul left Ephesus for the last time, there was a riot, ostensibly in the
interest of Diana the great goddess of Ephesus; but really in the interest of
the masters and workmen who made silver shrines for Artemis.* Demetrius the silversmith, the leader of the riot,
called together “the
workmen of like occupation.” For their gains were fast
drying up, under the preaching of this Paul. He did not, indeed, directly smite their
idols, and break them in pieces by force; but he thought, that they
were not gods, whom man could create with his fingers. And this procedure was far more effectual;
and is a lesson of wisdom to those yet amidst idolaters. Among the workmen assembled on this occasion
was Alexander, the copper-smith: Acts 19: 33. The
effect of Demetrius’ speech was, that a mixed mob rushed into the theatre; the
leaders of the riot intent on putting Paul to death. Paul was aware of their design, and would
have presented [Page 4] himself; but his friends would not allow him. In this confused assembly, then, there were
various cries; and the majority were ignorant of its origin and design. It was a Gentile mob intent on upholding
heathen idolatry. The Jews appear to
have learned this from the cry - ‘Great is the Artemis of the Ephesians!’ But they seem to have desired
to make their defence in the matter, and to turn the wrath of the crowd upon
Paul. ‘It was
not that they
who had been
interfering with the worship of their goddess, it was Paul alone.’ This seems
to have been ‘the defence’ they wished to make
to the people of
* Our translators calls the Goddess ‘DIANA,’ for that was the supposed Latin equivalent. Artemis was represented by a female with many breasts. She represented earth in its fruitfulness. Her name is derived from the ‘Earth,’ and ‘Mother.’ ‘Mother-earth.’ Art-em.’
But why should he be an enemy of the apostle?
a coppersmith he was probably engaged, before his entering the church at
the Law said so: pronouncing accursed the keeper of an idol, and much more the
maker of one: Deut. 7:
25, 26; Isa. 1: 31; Zeph. 1: 3. But the love of gain it seems, prevailed. Even in
This, then, would be the special reason for Paul’s warnings in the Epistles to Timothy, against the love of money, with its sad consequences; and the necessity of retaining a good conscience, if any wish to hold fast the faith of Christ: 1 Tim. 6: 9-19; 1: 5, 19; 3: 9; 4: 2; 2 Tim. 1: 3.
The love of money in Alexander prevailed; and he lost entirely the true faith of Christ, blaspheming even the Saviour’s name. For this cause Paul delivered over him and Hymenaeus to Satan: 1 Tim. 1: 18-20.
The Jews, then, in putting him forward were assured of a zealous coadjutor in their defence with the heathen. Alexander was fired with the spirit of Demetrius against Paul and his doctrine.
But the Most High upon this occasion interferes on His servant’s behalf. As soon as by his dress and appearance they knew Alexander to be a Jew, they concluded he was opposed to the glory of their goddess, and would not listen to him; but went off in a phrenzy of shouting to the glory of ‘Artemis of Ephesus.’ Had they known his heart, how like it was to their own, and how full of rage against Paul, they would have hearkened.
then, Paul escapes the hands of Alexander.
Probably he may have heard of the apostle’s leave-taking at
* 4: 14. An Attic law-term, signifying to ‘lay an information against any.’
this information, and despite his defence, Paul is a second time sent a
This view accounts for Paul’s announcement to Timothy. After exhorting him to courage in the proclamation of the truth, he adds, that “all the Asiatics turned away from him:” and specially two - probably leading men, and men well known to Timothy - Hermogenes and Phygellus.
the apostle does not say, ‘All those of
Asia,’ but “all those in
great was the bitterness of the persecuting apostate, so well known were the
Ephesian believers to him, and the danger attendant on such accusation was so
great, that all Paul’s friends of Ephesus and Asia Minor feared to make their
appearance at his side, or to say a word on his behalf. They too would have been accused; they too
would have been sent, at imminent peril of their lives, prisoners to
would seem probable, that this severe trial threw Trophimus, his Ephesian
companion, into a fit of sickness: and Paul was obliged to leave him at
Timothy was an “evangelist,”
or itinerant missionary: 2 Tim. 4: 5. Paul would hardly tell him he had sent
The apostle, then, accounts to Timothy how it was, that he who was ordinarily so surrounded by friends and brethren, was left almost alone.
Demas went to Thessalonica, on finding the troubles that assailed the apostle. There was an opening there that commended itself to one who loved this present age and scene too well. But does this suppose, as it is ordinarily assumed, that if so, Demas was [eternally] lost? By no means! Are there no believers who love this earth, and press after its hopes, riches, honours, pleasures? Are all such lost? They - [unless repentance is forthcoming, will] - lose reward [and their ‘inheritance’ (Eph. 5: 5. cf. Gal. 5: 21)] in the ‘age’ to come, because of their love of this evil age. But eternal life is the gift of God to every one that believes.
Crescens and Titus had gone away to different places. Luke alone stayed with the apostle.
would seem that Mark was staying somewhere between Timothy and
did not leave the apostle voluntarily, or prompted by any evil motive. He was sent to
was borne on as a prisoner to
apostle, then, notices the effect of his imprisonment and of the accusations
against him on the saints at
“All forsook me.” Was Peter bishop of
But Paul foresaw the coming [millennial] day of award, in which these disciples would have to give account [at that judgment seat of Christ, before the time of “the First Resurrection” (2 Tim. 2: 18; Heb. 9: 27. cf. Luke 20: 35; 22: 28; Rev. 20: 6.] why they abandoned the apostle. And assuredly they could give no good account why they had done so; none with which Christ would be pleased; so open was their opposition to the letter and spirit of His instructions. It was true, that such boldness would have led them into peril, perhaps to death. But faith [in the unfulfilled and divine prophecies] would see beyond death the open [manifested] glory of the [coming] kingdom.* He that lost his life for Christ’s sake shall find it in ‘the thousand years’.
was doubtless a sore trial to the great Gentile apostle. How would the church stand, when he was gone,
when thus the faith of his own companions during his life-time failed? It was a personal affliction too. But he had learned grace of the Master; and
instead of reproach, he puts up a prayer - “May it not be laid to their charge!” There is a great difference
between sins of infirmity, and sins of presumption. Wrath will take its unhindered course against
Alexander. But from these - [overcome
by the fear of man] - the Lord’s displeasure might be averted. They might turn and repent. How little we can trust our fellow
Christians! How variable they are! At Paul’s first approach to
But the Lord stood by him. Though left alone by his brethren, he was not alone, for Christ supported him: John 16: 32. Nero might be regarded by men as Lord: but Jesus for whom Paul witnessed is the real Ruler of all, King of kings, Lord of lords. He put courage into the heart of His apostle to face the peril, and not flinch from asserting the truth.
this bearing witness at
“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast
testified of me in
[* See Ezek. 37: 12; Psa. 72.; 110: 1-3, 5, 6. cf. Luke 1: 32, R.V. etc.]
That the emperor in person heard, seems to me indicated by the appeal being to Caesar, and by the words - “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” This of course denotes, that Paul’s life was spared in the time of extremest peril. Nero was in spirit a “wild beast.” Scripture attributes to Satan’s king in the last and terrible day of his power, “the mouth of a lion:” Rev. 13: 2. It seems to me, that we have here a distinct hint that Nero shall be the Antichrist.*
* See [R. Govett’s] “The Apocalypse Expounded by Scripture,” vol. 3.
There are in the words cited, I apprehend, two references:-
(1) DAVID was delivered out of the mouth of the lion, and that gave him courage to face Goliath. That deliverance, as being under the law, took place by active effort on his part; and the lion was slain.
(2) But the especial reference is to the deliverance of DANIEL the prophet. There was no hope of any accusation against Daniel save in the law of his God. It was so with Paul. The charge against him arose out of the truth he was sent to declare. Daniel witnessed concerning the COMING KINGDOM OF GOD, as did Paul.
accusation against Daniel which brought him into the den of lions was one which
covertly set up the sole rule and godhead of Darius. None was to address any petition to God or man
for thirty days, save to himself. With
advancing years the earthly kingdom grows worse. The emperors of
the coppersmith takes the place of the princes who accused Daniel. Daniel was silent. Paul is to proclaim the Gospel: both were
standing alone. [Page 13] Darius had to pass sentence on his servant. But now the prison and the
appearing before Nero is Paul’s entrance into the den, and his being set before
the lion. The king is his chief
foe. The event in Daniel’s day was a
testimony to all nations. Far and wide
through the empire travelled the news of the God of Israel, the God of heaven
and earth, the maker and master of lions.
Moreover repentant Darius, in his royal proclamation to all nations,
witnesses to the power and
result, Daniel comes out of the den early in the morning. The king is glad, and Daniel is prosperous in
No manner of hurt was found in Daniel, because he believed in his God. Paul’s confidence is as strong. His deliverance shall be once and for ever. He had indeed to go down into the tomb; that to him is the lion’s den. But the Lord is there with him,* and he with the Lord.
[* “… Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I make my bed in Sheol (= Gk. ‘Hades’) behold, thou are there:” (Psa. 138: 7b, 8, R.V. cf. Gen. 37: 35b, R.V. (a first mentioned principle which is taught throughout both Old and New Testaments by God’s Word.)]
We may see in Daniel’s punishment somewhat illustrating the expression in 2: 19, “the foundation.” The prophet’s case touches the fundamental principle of the empire of the Medes and Persians, - that no decree ratified by the king can be changed. The stone set above the den is the visible expression of this. And the two seals of the king and his nobles, secure that the purpose should not be changed.
We observe, that Daniel rises out of the den because he is the Lord’s, and because he was righteous. He would not yield to impiety, though life depended on it.
Probably in Paul’s statement, that he was made the herald to all nations of God’s proclamation, there may [Page 14] be a reference to that other scene in Daniel, when, Nebuchadnezzar’s image being set up, a herald proclaimed to “all nations,” that they were to worship, or else be cast into the fire. That proclamation was unjust and impious; Paul’s good and holy. Paul witnessed to a King risen from the dead, and to His coming [millennial (Rev. 20: 6) and eternal (Rev. 21: 1)] kingdom. “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.” “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.”
Moreover here we see, how resurrection is the opening into the kingdom. It was after Daniel came up out of the den, that he prospered in the kingdom.
But it may be said, ‘Paul’s deliverance was only momentary. He expects to be cut off at his next appearing before the emperor. And Chrysostom tells us, that he was beheaded through the rage of Nero; because he converted the royal cup-bearer. Paul died in disgrace as a malefactor: instead of being exalted in the Roman kingdom, like Daniel.’
It is true. The figure only of resurrection was given in Daniel’s day. The reality had come in Paul’s. The King of God’s kingdom had made His appearance. And so Paul can look beyond the present empires of earth to that of God. His HOPE is in [the first] resurrection, and in the coming of the King of kings, of whom he testified. He waited - [and is waiting still, (Rom. 8: 23. cf. 1 Thess. 4: 16, R.V.)] - for the ‘better resurrection’ in a brighter morn than Daniel’s, and for the call of the Lord of lords, who shall open his tomb.
But the same history discovers also to us the issue to Alexander his accuser. After Daniel has come forth out of the lion’s mouth, his accusers are sent down into the den, and “the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces, or ever they came at the bottom of the den.” It will be much more fearful with Paul’s accuser, when “the Lord shall reward him according to his works.” It will be righteous in God in the day of His kingdom to recompense to troublers trouble, and to the troubled relief. [Page 15] The apostle recognises his deliverance, wonderful as it was, as temporary only; as appears from the next words. “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and bring me safe into His heavenly* kingdom; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Greek.)
[* Anti-Millennialists take note. The text above does not say “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and bring me safe into His kingdom in heaven! God’s coming kingdom is described as: “His heavenly kingdom,” because His will shall then be “DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”]
With steady pursuit of holiness Paul’s full assurance of hope grew, till at length he can testify, that glory and reward IN THE [MILLENNIAL] DAY to come are his. His chief trial over, the crown was sure! He would not in the little space of time yet left him forsake what was entrusted to him; or deny his Lord, from love of this [fallen] world, or fear of death. “Evil works,” which could exclude from reward, were seen in Demas, the Asiatics, and the Roman believers. But from these he should be kept. As preserved from evil, as led into good works, as yielding in life, an entrance into the kingdom of millennial glory would assuredly be assigned him: Rev. 20: 4-6.
Some speak of the kingdom as ‘Jewish and earthly.’ And it is true, that the millennial kingdom has this aspect. But the verse before us tells us also of its heavenly side. Paul sought this, and would attain it. In writing to the Philippians he did not feel sure of his reward in the kingdom; but pressed toward the goal with unflagging desire. Now the goal is reached; the prize is sure.
What is to keep us, if desirous of the same prize? We must, like Paul, look to the Lord as our support and defence, and not rest on believers, who are weak as ourselves. We must hold fast full faith in the coming millennial glory.
* * *
The Gospel Of Eternal Life.
2 Timothy 1.
PAUL has in this his last Epistle, especially to urge on [regenerate] Christians in general, and on Christian teachers in particular, the doctrine of individual responsibility; and of reward to be awarded in the coming millennial day. Yet he would, at the commencement of the Epistle, utter his decided testimony concerning the freeness of eternal [Greek. ‘aionian’]* life, the gift of God according to His eternal counsels in Christ Jesus, to His elect: Titus 1: 2. Faith, justification, eternal [Gk. ‘aionian’] life, are knit together: Titus 3: 7. This is ‘the Gospel according to the power of God’ put forth in salvation: Eph. 1: .** But, as the elect are drawn out of the world, and animated by a new spirit, the reception of the glad tidings, and still more the announcement of them bring trouble. But this trouble is to be accepted by the believer.
[*NOTE. Keep in mind: this Greek word (‘aionian’) can correctly be translated as “eternal” or “age-lasting” if the context in which it is used demands it; otherwise many Scriptures would appear to contradict each other! Compare John 3: 16 - (where this word is used in a context without our works - and is rightly translated “eternal”) with Hebrews 5: 9 (where the same word is used in a context of a believer’s obedience) - and is wrongly translated “eternal” in most English translations!
Eternal life is “the free gift of God,” Rom. 6: 23, R.V. (based upon faith alone in the finished and completed work of our Lord Jesus). But, on the other hand, “age-lasting life” (is a reward for our obedience and faithfulness, after receiving the “free gift”) in “the age to come” Heb. 6: 5. See conditions for entrance in Luke 20: 35; Rev. 3: 31; 20: 4-6, etc. R.V.
The latter is dependant upon a believer’s faithfulness, perseverance, and on His/her undisclosed standard of personal righteousness: Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21. cf. Titus 2: 13 and 3: 7: whereas our “blessed Hope” and “appearing of the Glory of our great God and Saviour,” is “according to the Hope of aionian life.” That is, “the hope of life age-lasting,” (Greek.).
To “hope” for “eternal life,” (after initial salvation is given, see the aorist tense of “believe,” in Acts 26: 31) is to disbelieve God; and add our works to attain that which Christ has purchased for is in full! This is to corrupt the Gospel of “the grace of God”! But, to “hope” (by pleasing God after receiving eternal salvation), to be judged by Him (on the besis of our works of righteousness) as “accounted worthy” to reign in the “Age” to come, Luke 20: 35; 22: 28-30, etc. is correct. We then place our works (after receiving salvation by God’s grace) for the correct purpose and in obedience to the precepts of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ as taught to His ‘disciples’ on the Mount, Matt. chs. 5-7.
** In Eph 1: 21 (concerning Christ’s present and future authority) the Greek translation reads: “… far above Every Authority, and Government, and Power, and Lordship, and every name being named, not only in this age, but also in the Future Age (lit. ‘the one about coming’)”.]
The purpose of God before creation, yea, and His promise, was to bestow eternal life as a gift on some of His creatures. Only thus could it be received. For no creature, not even an unfallen one, can deserve a continuance of existence forever. Even if it have not sinned up to to-day, it has no claim for existence tomorrow. The causing its existence to cease is a right belonging to God; and none could rightly complain of Him as unjust, in case He so saw fit. The cessation of existence therefore is not a punishment. It does not necessarily suppose an offence committed by the creature so annihilated. It is quite a mistake, then, to [Page 17] affirm, that this is the punishment decreed to sinners of mankind.
How this promise of endless existence combined with happiness was to take effect, was not made known, till Jesus appeared on earth.
(1) He “struck death powerless.”* The sting of death is sin, and it exerted its venom against man the sinner, even on God’s [redeemed] people under law. But Jesus brought in righteousness by His obedience to law; and put away the wrath of God against the disobedience of the saved, by His death. Death, as regards its sting, death as the penalty against the unforgiven, are removed by Christ. Death is now so changed in its character, that it is on our side if we believe: 1 Cor. 3: 22. It is now [likened to] a sleep, from which the Lord will awake the slumber.
* ‘Abolished’ gives a wrong idea. To ‘paralyze,’ is perhaps our nearest single word.
(2) “He brought life and incorruptibility to light through the Gospel.” Jesus brought in the view of another life, a life eternal, beginning by the new birth from the tomb. He manifested it in His own person, by arising from among the dead. He showed also “incorruptibility.” It is wrongly translated “immortality.” The word refers to the body. Death is not non-existence, but the departure of the soul out of the body. Now if God had pleased, the body might have remained as it was, when left by the soul. But he determined, that henceforth a process of decomposition should set in, which we call ‘corruption.’ Both externally and internally the old house is taken down, and even the more solid parts [i.e., the body] at length moulder into dust. This, Scripture calls “the slavery of corruption.” Vainly did art attempt to arrest its march.
But Jesus rose from the tomb with His body [after His soul was reunited to it (Luke 24: 39, R.V.)], indeed, [His body] was distinguished from that of most of the saints, in [Page 18] that it never corrupted [at any time when He (as a disembodied soul) was in the underworld of ‘Hades’ (Acts 2: 31, R.V.) amongst the souls of the dead. See His teaching regarding this truth in Luke 16: 22-31, R.V.]. He was proved thus to be the Holy One of God: Ps. 16. That is the argument alike of Peter, (Acts 2,) and of Paul, (Acts 13.) David died, and was buried; his soul went into Hadees, and is there still; and his body mouldered in the tomb. It is not of him, then, that Psalm 16 is written. Thus Jesus showed, not only that a man’s soul is to be immortal, but that it is to be knit eternally to his risen body. This, then, is the kind of eternal life which God has destined for us; and which the Gospel testifies to be already fulfilled in the person of Christ. Jesus brought this to light. Before that, the design existed in God’s bosom, unknown to man. Now, it stands revealed as the testimony of God, and in the book which records it.
Thus we interpret the words of 1: 9, 10, after Paul’s own manner, as presented to us in his sermon at Antioch of Pisidia: Acts 13: 32-37.
Of this grace of God, and of its testimony to the Gentiles Paul was appointed apostle. There were those who denied both the mission of the messenger, and the facts to which he testified: but he was really so sent and accredited by God. His witness concerning Jesus the Risen King brought him indeed into trouble; but he looked for another and a better age than this, when the King who has triumphed over death, and is full of goodness and truth, shall reward His [obedient] servants, by raising them to life in resurrection [at His return].
Of the truths which Paul had already orally delivered to Timothy, his son in the faith was to conserve the impression or outline. This glad story of atonement and resurrection was that which he was to hold fast for himself, and present to others. It was a secret deposit, to be preserved by the Spirit of God indwelling.
and fear indeed were troubling most Christians in that day; for the empire of
Chapter 2. In this faith, then, Timothy was to grow strong. He was to teach the truths he had learned to others. The King of kings is gathering out and training an army; and Paul would stir up Timothy to recruit the ranks. He should seek out believers, who were competent to teach others. It was not to give them ordination and authority to preach, by the laying on of hands; but to commit to believers, competent to teach others, the truths he had already received from Paul. This was the deposit which God had entrusted to Paul; and which Timothy was now to hand on to others by the power of the Spirit. The other deposit of which Paul had spoken as having committed it to Christ was doubtless his own soul, and his interest in the coming kingdom.
* * *
The Soldier, The Wrestler, The Husbandman.
TIMOTHY was called by Christ to be his soldier. He needed then to be courageous. He was to expect hardships, and was to endure them with patience, as a good soldier. He was the herald of a coming King in the presence of those who owned Caesar alone, and were the foes of Jesus. It was virtually a proclamation of war with Satan. And in war the soldier expects hardships. He is exposed to the changes of the seasons, to heat, and cold, to rain and storms. He expects by turns hunger and thirst, fatigue, and want of rest. Now he lies on the earth drenched with rain; now a night-alarm breaks his sleep. The good soldier does not murmur at these trials; but makes light of them. He does not flinch: does not desert.
But there is another aspect of the soldier’s life.
War demands the whole man: not his body merely, but his heart, his time, his powers. The soldier would not, when about to start on a campaign, engage in a lawsuit, or open a shop, or treat about the purchase of house or land; or begin to build himself a mansion. Not that these things are unlawful in themselves; but only felt to be unsuitable to one going to the field. Such things betoken one desirous of settling: the other mode of life is one who knows no rest. The soldier’s dwelling is the tent; soon pitched, soon struck. Herein behold an illustration of that principle in the Parable of the Sower, that the cares of this life and [Page 21] seeking riches choke the good seed, and cause it to bring no fruit to perfection: Luke 8: 14.
“None going on a campaign entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who chose him to be a soldier.”
Thus the Christian’s life is one of war. It is a life spent while Satan is at large, and full of desire to destroy the saints of God; while the world also hates and persecutes the people of God. It hates the spirit and doctrine, and the life of the [obedient and God-fearing] Christian. But Christ has called him out of the world and his previous pursuits, to be his soldier. And the scene in which we find ourselves is best fitted to exercise the spiritual soldier. The greatest general of modern times said - ‘Poverty, privations, misery are the school of good soldiers!’
is to sustain Christians, then, in the perils, wounds and hardships of “the evil day?” What upholds the soldier of
this world in his trials and privations?
The desire of the favour of his general. The expectation of his
rewarding such ‘soldier-like conduct.’ So the expected praise of Christ is to
sustain the Christian. When the war is
over, our Captain and King will remember His faithful and gallant warriors. He will account them worthy of
His [Millennial] Kingdom, on behalf of which they combat: 2 Thess. 1: 5. The
successful generals of Napoleon became dukes or kings. Death on the field of this world indeed cuts
off the soldier’s hopes. But it is not so
in our warfare. Life lost in Christ’s battle, is to be restored: to be enjoyed in glory
and honour during the thousand years of the kingdom of
Courage, then, is necessary to enter the Kingdom. Those who confess Christ [Messiah] will be confessed. Those who desert the battle will not be owned of Christ [on that “Day” (Psa. 2: 8, cf. 110: 1-3, 5, 6, R.V.)]; and if not owned, cannot enter the kingdom of reward: [Page 22] Matt. 10: 32, 33; 16: 25-27. Thus Paul has been exhibiting two of the [regenerate] classes named in Jesus’ parable of the Sower. Pressure from the fourth Gentile kingdom was now being exerted against the soldiers of Christ, and many were giving way. The Asiatic Christians were ashamed of Paul; the Roman Christians would not stand by his side in the day of peril. They had heard “the word [or ‘message’ as in the N.I.V.] of the kingdom” and delighted in it at first; but now that “tribulation and persecution had arisen because of the word,” they were at once stumbled: Matt. 13: 19-21.
2 THE WRESTLER
“Now even if a man wrestle, yet he is not crowned,
except he wrestle according to the laws of the games.”
There was no prize in the games, where there was no contest, or where there was no previous training. And the training was of long continuance and severe. The rules of preparation regarded diet, exercise, anointing, wrestling, running and so on. There were officers whose commands were to be obeyed. The whole man was to be engaged in pursuit of the prize. But even if in the day of the contest, he flung all opponents, he would not be crowned, if disobedience to the laws of the games could be proved against him.
Now Christ is our Director and His commands are to be obeyed. He is “the Righteous Judge,” who in the day to come shall distribute the crowns to the successful wrestlers.
But, then, the wrestlers must have owned Him their Lord by their obedience, or else there would be to them no prize. For Satan has his wrestlers also; men of self-denial, equal, nay superior, to that of many [regenerate] Christians. The Encratitae, a branch of the Gnostics, abstained from animal food, marriage and wine. Some could give up wealth, some lacerate the flesh. Now must not these be crowned as men od self-denial and sturdy wrestlers - [Page 23] in the coming day? No: for while we grant that they displayed this energy, they did not own Christ as their Lord; did not believe in Him, or obey Him. As not wrestling then according to the laws of the games, they would receive no crown.
So with monkish self-denial. The codes of
many of the orders of
“Not every one (even) that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven [Gk. ‘the kingdom of heavens’]; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 7: 21.
Then this sentiment will exclude even many [regenerate] Christians from the prize. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The prize of God is the enjoyment of the millennial kingdom. If there is no faith in that, no striving for that, there will be no entry into it: Luke 18: 17.
So Paul warns us. He tells us, that he used self-denial lest he should be adjudged at last unworthy to obtain this glory. 1 Cor. 9-10. He assures us, that he desired death itself for Christ’s sake, if he might but attain to this, the first and blest resurrection. Phil. 3. But at last, in this his final epistle, he feels confident of the crown - He has fought the fight as the [Page 24] good soldier; he has run the race according to the rules of the Great Judge; the [“thousand years”] kingdom and the crown are his [after resurrection].
[regenerate] Christian, then, is taught of God to covet the honour
of the coming kingdom; and is shown how to attain it. The Christian should be ambitious for glory,
if only he be ambitious of that which comes from God, and his Christ: Luke 14: 10, 14;
“The labouring husbandman must be the first to partake of the fruits.”
There is some difficulty in regard to the sense of the simple words of this verse. Three main significations are given to it; according as we connect the word ‘first’ with ‘labour’ or with ‘partake.’ Some read it thus:-
1. ‘The husbandman must first labour, before he partakes of the fruits.’
This is true; but is not the translation recommended by the order of the Greek. The participle, too, would not naturally be, as now it is, in the present; but in the aorist. The next view is:-
2. ‘The husbandman must first partake of the fruit before he can labour.’
This is an invasion of the previous sentiment.
But it is still less in accordance with the order of the Greek. ‘The fruits’ must mean those which are the result of his labour. The reference is not to the sustenance by grace in the present day, but to reward in the one [millennial] day to come. The following, then, is the true sense:-
3. ‘The labouring husbandman must be the first to partake of the fruit.’ This is perhaps the sense which our translators designed. It adheres to the order of the Greek. It gives its true stress to the qualifying word “labouring.” Not every husbandman has this title. [Page 25] The slothful shall beg in harvest and have nothing: Prov. 20: 4. The sheaves gathered in by the diligent are the fruit of his toil. In the [thousand-year] - day, then, when justice rules, the diligent ought to be the first to partake. In the day to come, according to the promise of our Lord, “reward” or “wages” shall be given to both the sowers and the reapers in His field. In His great harvest-home they shall rejoice together. John 4: 36, 38. Diligence in service that is, admits to the millennial kingdom. When the seventh trumpet sounds, the time is come to give “the reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints:” Rev. 11: 18. “Each shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour:” 1 Cor. 3: 8, 14; 2 John 8; Rev. 22: 12.
Life, then, [after regeneration] is regarded as the time of labouring for Christ as the Master of the field. And herein is given by the apostle encouragement to Timothy, and to all other workers for Christ. Labour in the flesh may fail of its reward. One sows and dies; another steps in and reaps. But labour in the Lord shall not fail; the Great Master of the harvest to come remembers His labourers, and will recall the sleepers from the tomb [and from amongst the souls of the dead in Hades (Acts 2: 27, 34)] to take part in His joy; as we see in the parables of the Talents and Pounds.
But there too we see, that it is only the diligent servants who receive reward, and enter on the joy and the coming kingdom. The slothful servant is SHUT OUT OF THE BANQUENT*; and can but lament, in the darkness outside, his sin and folly.
[* Capitals mine. - Ed. See Matt. 8: 12. cf. Luke 12: 41-47; 22: 20; 20: 35; Eph. 5: 5; Heb. 12: 17; Matt. 5: 21; Luke 10: 62, R.V. etc.]
Thus the verse is connected with that which follows. For some denied this special resurrection and reward; and so took away the stimulus to exertion which was thereby furnished, both to the apostle and to Christians generally.
Timothy was to ponder these three brief parables; as therein much of truth, warning, encouragement was concealed. Many, satisfied with the first glance, have mistaken their meaning.* The general sense is, [Page 26] that reward in the kingdom to come is an incitement to present suffering, self-denial, obedience and diligence. Probably one of the reasons why the apostle does not name the kingdom more frequently was, because his letters were most likely overlooked; and knowing the jealousy of the Emperor and his satellites upon this very point, he used prudence. But the Holy Ghost would reveal the meaning, to Timothy and to us.
[* NOTE. All anti-millennialists deny their Lord His promised inheritance here (Psa. 2: 8; 110: 1-3, 6, R.V.) and “the throne of His Father David” (Luke 1: 32)! They imagine the Lord has one kingdom only: and when they see the word “and” (in verse 33 before the words “of his kingdom there shall be no end”), they forget that it can be used is a disjunction as well as a conjunction: and by misinterpreting (or ignoring the context) they undermine God’s promise of a “kingdom” yet to come, when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2: 14, R.V.). That is, when our Lord Jesus returns, the curse placed upon this earth because of Adam’s sin (Gen. 3: 18. cf. Rom. 8: 19-22 R.V.) will then be removed. This is the true sense, (in both Old and New Testaments) of multitudes of unfulfilled prophecies concerning Messiah’s promised “Kingdom” in “the age to come” (Heb. 6: 5, R.V.)!
the Sermon of the Mount, (addressing His “disciples,” Matt 5: 2) Jesus says: “Seek ye
most important thing Jesus wanted His “disciples”
(at that time) to know was (1) that
establish His messianic kingdom on this earth by their efforts. (2) They must first be judged “accounted worthy” before resurrection, (Heb. 9: 27) to “enter”
Kingdom! (Rev. 3: 21,
R.V.). (3) They must learn to distinguish millennial blessings from
ones. (4) They must ask God
for understanding, and His grace (by the Holy Spirit imparting more than a
basic knowledge (‘knowledge above knowledge’),
to distinguish what we now have (as a “free gift”
Rom. 6: 23, R.V.), from what we hope to “attain” (as a “Prize”
11; 1 Cor. 9: 24) - after the “First
Resurrection” in “the age to come.” (5) The word “salvation”
must be understood by an examination of the context in which it is used. For example, we have been saved, we are
now being saved and we shall be saved (at some time in the
future when our Lord returns). When
regenerate believers pray for God to save them, they are not praying for initial
(first) or eternal salvation over and over again! The gifts and calling of God are without
repentance. God does not, and
will not, change His mind concerning that salvation - the eternal
salvation which all regenerate believers presently possess. I am told the Bible teacher Earl Radmacher, was once asked if he was saved. His reply astonished the enquirer when he
wanted to know what kind of salvation he meant! In Scripture we read of a future
“salvation of souls” (1 Pet. 1: 9. cf. Heb.
and the context makes it perfectly clear - (to those whom the Holy Spirit has
given eyes to see and a mind to understand) - that this future salvation is not
synonymous with the “common salvation” (Jude 3)
which God gives to all regenerate believers!
(6) We must learn to trust
Jesus and understand all His teachings; we must take
His threats seriously, and believe that what He says will happen (in
the near and distant future), will happen exactly as He has said. When God speaks of events which will take
place “on Earth,”
He does not mean they will take place “in Heaven”! When
He discloses to His disciples His conditional promises and blessings (Luke 22: 28-30; Rom. 8: 17b) He
expects them to realise they cannot (and will not) affect those who choose to ignore them! He looks for obedience in His redeemed
children; and He gives the Holy Spirit “to them that obey
Him” (Acts 5: 32. cf. 1 Sam. 15: 23; Num. 14: 23 with 1 Cor. 10: 6, 11, R.V.).
Therefore, according to the Word of God, we (who are regenerate
believers) can disqualify ourselves for the “Prize”
(1 Cor. 9: 24) by not
being “chosen” to share (with Christ Jesus) the future
millennial “inheritance” of the saints
on earth. Psa. 2: 8. cf. Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5. “Many are called (effectually by His grace through faith in
Jesus as Saviour), but few
are chosen” (as overcomers, who will “sit on
thrones” and reign as “co-heirs with Him”
restored earth). See Luke 22: 28-30; 2 Pet. 3: 8; Rev. 3: 21;
Let us then (if God permit: cf. Heb. 6: 4-12 with Num. 14: 21-23; Prov. 13: 13, R.V.) “forget the things that are behind, and press forward to the things that are before” (Phil. 3: 13, R.V.).]
* * *
2 Timothey 2: 8-13.
THE previous verses are occupied with the day of glory, and the way to attain [i.e. to ‘gain by effort’] the rewards of it. The present paragraph sets before us the salvation which is in Christ in its two great parts - (1) the eternal salvation, which is of grace; and the glory, which is bestowed according to works.
“Remember that Jesus Christ has been raised from among the dead, - of the seed of David, - according to my gospel: wherein I suffer as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I suffer all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal [Gk. ‘aionian’] glory.
“Faithful is the word: for if we died with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we believe not, he remains faithful; for he cannot deny himself.”
In verse 8 are presented to us two main features of the Gospel, to be specially insisted on by Timothy, as a teacher of the Gentiles. Both were sent as divine truths opposed to Gentile errors: and truths then in peril. I have followed the order of the Greek in the statement; for this is important.
“Remember – that Jesus Christ (1) has been raised from among the dead; (2) of the seed of David.”
This testimony concerns the one person - ‘Jesus Christ’ - whom Gentile Gnosticism would divide into two - making ‘Jesus,’ the mere man; ‘Christ,’ the [Page 28] heavenly Spirit. It is not said, ‘Jesus was the seed of David.’ That Gnostics would perhaps admit. To them the Christ was the mighty Spirit, that came upon Him at His baptism. But the Son of God really took a human body, was slain, and descended [into ‘Hades’ to be] amongst the dead, both in His [body’s] burial, and in His [soul’s] going down into Hadees.
Jesus then came out [of Joseph’s tomb], not only from death, but from among the [disembodied souls of] dead. God His Father raised Him. This is the fact which lies at the basis of our religion. This is to believed for salvation: 1 Cor. 15: 1-19. Here, too, the believer’s encouragement is found. In Jesus’ resurrection he sees his own resurrection. His ‘hope,’ moreover, is not simply resurrection, but “resurrection from among the dead,” or the ‘first’ and blest resurrection; when many will be adjudged not worthy to have part therein, but will abide still in Hadees: Rev. 20: 4-6.
“Of the seed of David.” This - the
order of the Greek - is closely connected with what follows. It introduces the Old Testament
[*They (the Jews) were correct to expected a reigning Messiah: but not at the time of His First Advent! Most rejected all the divine prophecies describing a suffering Messiah! Others believed in two Messiahs - one who would suffer, and some another who would reign! Some believed Jesus of Nazareth to be a ‘prophet’ and nothing more! “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24: 19, R.V.)! They were expecting a ruling Messiah, (for their own Divinely Inspired Scriptures says so: 1 Chron. 16: 31; Isa. 9: 7; Jer. 23: 5; Ps. 110: 2, etc., R.V.) - not (according to their darkened minds), One who had been crucified and buried in their presence! Therefore, the vast majority of Jews today, reject all the divine prophecies which were literally fulfilled by Him at His First Advent!
their Messiah’s First Advent and subsequent Crucifixion, Burial and “Resurrection from the dead,” were all
necessary proofs for His redeemed peoples’ redemption and eternal salvation. All those events had to take place before
His coming Kingdom and Reign; and before the time when He
will return to this earth and “restore the kingdom to
On the other hand, the vast majority of regenerate believers today, making a similar mistake! They believe and know, that all the divine prophecies of a suffering Messiah have been literally fulfilled; but they disbelieve and reject God’s unfulfilled prophecies which speak of His coming millennial reign on David’s throne (Luke 1: 32), as “King of kings and Lord of lords”! Many of these Christians have little or no knowledge of prophetic events, because they seldom, if ever, hear sermons of this nature! It is not surprising therefore, (by their body language toward other believers) they make their feelings known, by treating others as outsiders, because they expect God’s unfulfilled prophecies (relative to events to take place upon this earth), will be fulfilled literally when, and after, Jesus returns! They appear to think and act toward other Christians (who speak much about Christ’s millennial kingdom) as simple-minded individuals, who are better ignored! ‘They must have been hiding behind the door when brains were handed out!’ is an expression which springs to mind! But, it is they who misinterpret “the thousand years,” as meaning something other than what they are, and will be; and they think Rev. 20. (where these words are mentioned five times) is the only place in Scripture where this period of time can be taught from the Bible! Others equate secular knowledge as synonymous with spiritual knowledge; not knowing, or forgetting, that “God made foolish the wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1: 20, R.V.)!
** See Psa. 2: 8. cf. Luke 24: 44, R.V.]
“And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy Seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy
away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee:”
1 Chron. 17: 11-13.
See also 2 Sam. 7: 12; Ps. 89: 4, 36. Here the promises are engaged to “the Seed of David,” - the expression used by Paul in this place. Again, Jeremiah says -
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I
will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a
King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and
justice in the earth. In his days
is sustained in the New Testament.
Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew rests on
His being “the Son of David.” “And Jesse begat David the King; and David the
King begat Solomon:” 1: 6.
Accordingly, as soon as Jesus was born, Gentiles from the East arrive,
inquiring about Him who was born King of the
Jews. They were to come to worship Him, as one
greater than man. Nor was it simply a
heathen fancy, grounded on no warrant of God.
For the Jewish prophet foretold one out of
Now this testimony was peculiarly displeasing to politicians of the Gentile empire. In Jesus behold a real man, a Jew, of royal lineage, to whom is promised a kingdom on [this] earth, which shall overturn all the kingdoms of the earth by force, and last unconquered for ever. Man hates the testimony of God’s kingdom, which is to destroy his own. Gentiles hate the idea of Jewish supremacy. Gentile philosophers view the whole idea as absurd. It is a kingdom to be set up in resurrection; and not by human swords, but by armies from the sky! By many of old this body of matter was thought to be the cause of sin. How, then, should the Son of God take on Him flesh?
asserting, then, this future kingdom, Jesus was put to death. The Jewish accusers of our Lord saw that
Pilate would not slay the Saviour, because of alleged blasphemy. They work on his feelings, therefore, by
setting up Jesus as a rival to Caesar.
Jesus was forbidding tribute to Caesar, because He was Himself King of
the Jews. The critical question, then,
was – “Art thou the King of the
Had Jesus denied it, He had been dismissed. But He could not. This was the crown that God had promised Him,
and He owns it. Behold, then, “the good confession” which He made before Pilate. In consequence, He was sentenced to death, as
guilty of high treason against
truth was full of equal peril to Paul, His zealous servant. At Thessalonica, the accusation was urged
against him by the multitude, that he set up [Page 31] against Caesar another King one Jesus; whose decrees
were contrary to the emperor’s: Acts 17: 7. At
The perception of this danger would, naturally enough, be likely to make Timothy afraid to publish this truth: yet he is here enjoined to witness it. And of much importance is it in our day also. Had this truth been held, it would never have been imagined that the church - an election in God’s day of grace, itself about to become tasteless salt - would ever bring in the happy times foretold. It is Christ who is to introduce the kingdom and its triumph in resurrection-power, smiting in judgment the wicked.
The addition, “According to my Gospel,” is also important. Else it might have been said, ‘The original Jewish apostles were full of national hopes and prejudices, and looked for the exaltation of their nation in the person of a Messiah of their own race, in a happy day to come. But Paul - of wider vision, and more free mind, sent to the Gentiles to proclaim to them salvation - does not participate in these dreams. His first introduction to the Christ was, when he was beheld by him in the heavenly glory; and when he learned the union which subsists between the Risen Head, and the members on earth. Hence, he deals with the Mystery of the Christ, and the mystic body of the Son of God alone. He teaches freedom from Judaic ceremonies; he is the herald, not of law, but of grace. Hence, he never owns the Jewish hopes of an earthly and temporal kingdom, reigned over by Jesus as Jewish Messiah.’
it is not so. Paul here and elsewhere
teaches [Page 32]
concerning a future kingdom of glory; and owns Jesus’ earthly origin as the
basis of that kingdom. It was a part of
his Gospel: it was, it is, part of the counsel of God, to proclaim the kingdom
to come as belonging to the hopes of God’s elect of this dispensation: Acts 20: 25-27. Our way
to it lies through many troubles: Acts 14: 22. Paul
testified it habitually at
But for this testimony Paul suffered. He was now imprisoned and treated as a felon, in chains. He was in disgrace, as a mover of sedition against the Roman Emperor. His previous imprisonment (Acts 28) was hard to bear; this, far harder. He had now no house of his own; but was in prison, a Roman prison.
But, “Every one that is perfect shall be as his master,” and thus it was with Paul. The Jewish Kingship of Christ testified by him brought down on him scorn from the Gentile philosopher; and shame and danger from the Gentile politician. Like Christ, he was for this numbered with malefactors: and many were ashamed of him. But the word of God was still at liberty. God is independent of His best servants. Though Paul was bound, others were free. The counsel of God must still go on. And Timothy, who was at liberty, was still to preach it.
Jesus though He was ages ago raised from the dead with a view to sit on David’s throne, is yet patiently waiting, till God thinks fit to set up His kingdom. So then much more is the Christian to wait patiently, till the kingdom of glory come with Christ.
10. “Therefore I suffer all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal [Gk. ‘aionian’] glory.”
The apostle is content to suffer in view of the great motives which the word of God and Christ supplied. [Page 33] Whatever hindrance might be thrown in the way of Paul, God’s design of saving His elect would surely be accomplished. Eternal life, - God’s gift to them should not fail of being bestowed: 1: 1; Titus 1: 1, 2. It was not enough for Paul that he himself was saved; he desired to aid the salvation of others. And those others are already predestined by Jehovah. Salvation, (in this case, eternal life) is the gift of God to those who are “in Christ.” It is by faith, that it may be by grace: Eph. 2: 5.
The order of the two names of our Lord is inverted. Salvation is ‘in Christ Jesus.’ The two names tell but of one person. Let none divide where God unites!
Who will believe God’s message? Who attain his [future] salvation? The elect alone! Does the Most High then prevent any from accepting His good news? Does He cast off those who humbly seek his salvation? Far from it! “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” “As I live saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live: turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways!” Why, then, are the elect alone saved? Because, so great is the hatred of man’s soul against God, that the offer of salvation is always refused, so long as man is left to his natural choice.
Where is salvation? In Christ Jesus! Where is damnation? In Adam. Every one is either in Adam or in Christ. Either under the fall, and in his own sins; or cleansed and forgiven through the blood of the cross. In which position is my reader?
beside the “salvation” which is gratuitous, and
bestowed on believing, there is reward
also in the millennial kingdom prepared for doers and sufferers for Christ. Hence the apostle adds his desire that the
elect should obtain more than a bare salvation.
He desired that they should obtain glory, and be “accounted worthy” to enter into the kingdom of [Page
34] the thousand years. Beside the gift of God, he would urge them to win the prize of
3. “Behold we have forsaken all and followed thee: what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, - Verily
[of a truth] I say unto you [my
that ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the
throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of
These two distinct portions of blessing are stated in other passages. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, unto which he called you by our gospel, - with a view to obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ:” 2 Thess. 2: 13, 14. (Greek). “We charged every one of you (as a father does his children) that ye should walk worthy of the God who is calling you into his own kingdom and glory:” 1 Thess. 2: 12. (Greek).
Nathaniel confesses Jesus - “Rabbi, thou art the Son
of God, thou art the King of
[* In the future, (after resurrection “from the dead”), believers are to be “equal unto angels”! That is, able to rule in both heavenly and earthly spheres of Messiah’s coming kingdom.]
glory then being set before us by the call of God, we are to seek it; to press
towards the marl for it: Luke 14: 7, 11, 12, 14; Matt. 6: 33;
an obvious objection lies against this view.
For the Holy Ghost says not - “‘the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,
together with” millennial
glory,’ but “with eternal
[Gk. ‘aionian’] glory.” To
which I answer, that while the glory to which we are invited as the prize of
our calling is the first resurrection of kingdom of the Christ: (Phil. 3,) and
that is the glory of the thousand years; yet the glory so won abides
forever. And this last is the way, it seems to me, in which it is often stated; lest we
should think that the glory attained will but endure during the thousand
years. Thus in the passage which
especially states our Lord’s glory as “the Seed of David,” we have “The Lord God shall give unto
him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign
over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end:” Luke 1: 32, 33. The
11. “Faithful is the word; for if we died with him, we shall also live with him.”
To what do the words - “Faithful is the saying” - refer? Doubtless to the general statement of Paul’s Gospel contained in verse 8. Out of the two portions of it arise the two departments of blessing just indicated: 1. Out of Jesus’ resurrection comes the eternal life of the saved: 2. Out of His millennial glory as the “Seed of David” springs the opening for others to enter with him; when they shall be adjudged worthy to attain that age and the resurrection from among the dead: Luke 20: 35, 36.
Accordingly, Paul, in the four sentences beginning with “if” which follow, again recognises the distinct blessings which have been pointed out: those which belong indefeasibly to all the saved as “the elect” of God; and those which are to be sought in the way pointed out: these last blessings, which may be won or lost.
Jesus himself attains the millennial kingdom by way of reward for His wonderous worthiness of obedience [Page 37] and suffering: Rev. 5; Heb. 2: 8, 9. “Wherefore (for his marvellous self-emptying,) God hath highly exalted him:” Phil. 3: 8, 9.
All God’s elect died with Christ, and all will therefore live with Him. Died! When? Eternally, in the counsels of God: Eph. 1; 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15. Really and effectually, when we believed in him: John 11: 25, 26. Visibly, when immersed into his death at baptism: Rom. 6: 3, 8. That past death with Christ is the pledge of eternal life – the salvation which is in him. hence the verb is in the historic sense. “If we died with him.”
12. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we shall deny him, he also will deny us.”
This “if” attaches to the second fact, - ‘Jesus is of David’s line.’ Here opens a view of the millennial glory. Suffering for Christ is something additional to faith, and not experienced by all the elect. Many die as soon as they believe. Some designedly refuse to suffer: some are high in favour of men: Luke 6: 26. Therefore to especial suffering for Christ is attached special glory and joy in the day [of reward] to come. Hence it is stated conditionally. “If we suffer.” It is stated also in the present tense, because the time of suffering lasts throughout the time of the church’s calling [and testing, for some regenerate believers are unwilling to disclose conditional truths!].
The testimony of Rom. 8: 17, has been misunderstood. It is usually read - “And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together.” Somehow the condition is omitted; or assumed to be fulfilled in all believers. But two distinct heirships are really traced in this verse; the latter being attached to the condition which is forcefully expressed. “Now if children, also heirs: heirs indeed of God - but joint-heirs with Christ, if at least we suffer with Him, in order that we may be also glorified together.” This states that all [regenerate] believers are [Page 38] heirs of God, but that joint-heirship with Christ belongs to those who suffer with him. And that is a condition not fulfilled in all [who are regenerate]; as the next sentence of our Epistle shows.
are [regenerate] believers
who like Demas, prefer this [evil] age
to the coming one. Therefore to
suffering with Christ now is attached a place in His special kingdom of the
thousand years. So Jesus promises the
twelve apostles: Luke 22: 28, 30; Matthew 19.
And Paul had not only surrendered all for Christ, but was probably a
greater sufferer for Him than any other of the apostles. This then was the prize attached to his
endurance. “If we suffer with him,
with him shall we reign.” Not all David’s
subjects suffered with him under King Saul’s persecutions: but his soldiers
did. And accordingly they are glorified
when his kingdom comes: 2 Sam. 22. As not
all believers suffer with Christ, not all will reign with Him. But to some it is given to suffer, as well as
to believe. And these through many
troubles will enter the kingdom of glory: Acts 14:
22. Rev. 20: 4, 6 shows, that the beheaded for Christ and the
refusers of the worship of the false Christ (which refusal entails death) will reign with Christ.
After noticing the sufferings of the Thessalonian Christians, Paul says,
“Which is a
manifest token of the (future) righteous
judgment of God, that
ye may be counted worthy of the
This gives a full and vivid sense to those words of Jesus, in which He assures us, that life lost for Him now will be found in the [millennial] day to come: Matt. 10: 21-33; 16: 24-28. The glory which Paul sought for himself and his fellow elect is now exhibited as a partaking in the kingdom of Christ: and that [coming] kingdom lasts a thousand years: 1 Cor. 15: 20-28; Rev. 20: 4-6; Matt. 5: 10-12.
But again, when exposed to trials for Christ’s sake, and to [Page 39] peril or death, stand firm and confess His name, even to martyrdom, if need be? Many will say - ‘They do:’ because, as they think, grace undertakes that all God’s elect shall. But it is nowhere so said! Fact (God’s handwriting) exhibits quite another state of the case. And what says the Scripture? “If we shall deny him,* he also will deny us.”
* The true reading.
Observe, the words are addressed to the same persons, - even God’s elect. They include Paul himself. Not ‘if any deny,’ but ‘if we shall deny.’ Paul might fall [when tested by God], and bring himself under this rebuke. Observe again, While the first of these ‘ifs’ is attached to a verb in the past, and the second to one on the present, this is connected with a verb in the future; because the apostle and Timothy had not yet [forsaken this responsibility truth and] denied Christ, and were not then denying Him. Therefore if it come to pass, it must be at a future time.
The apostle had exhibited first the favourable alternative. In the trouble which came upon believers for the testimony to Christ the [coming] King, they might abide the trial unshaken. Then they would have part in the glories of the Christ in His [messianic] Kingdom. But what if they turned away in the peril? This epistle supplies several instances of such turning aside. The Asiatics, and the Roman Christians durst not face the danger in which Paul stood. And in every age, through force of persecution, some [mature and knowledgeable Christian] believers have denied the [conditional] truth. So was it with Cranmer, so with Barnes, Mazurier, Pavanne, Briconnet. (D’Aubigne, b. xii.) So was it under the persecutions by the Roman Emperors: (Eusebius v, I, p. 153, 155, 159, &c.) Are these facts opposed to what the Scripture teaches?
Lord Himself warns us, that one whole class of persons when brought to the
pressure of trial, would give way under it. “He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and [Page 40] immediately with joy
receiveth it. But he hath no root
in himself, but dureth
for awhile; but when affliction, or persecution ariseth because of the word, immediately he is stumbled:” Matt. 13: 20, 21. (Greek.) “They on the rock are they, who
when they hear, receive the word
with joy, and these have no root,
who for awhile believe, and
the season of temptation fall away:” Luke
8: 13. ‘But
is not this contrary to the perseverance of the saints, if we suppose our
Lord’s words to refer to believers?’
By no means! The Saviour’s
parable if the Sower does not refer to the fundamentals of the faith – His
atonement and resurrection; but to the millennial kingdom. “When any one heareth THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM, and understandeth it not, then
cometh the Wicked One:” Matt. 13: 19. “Jesus went through
every city and village, heralding and telling
news of the (future)
[* Capitals above and below are mine. – Ed.
Jesus on one occasion said: “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish:” (Luke 13: 3, 5). Is it conditional? Does it include the Lord’s disciples? I believe it does.
What a wonderful action-word is this - if a believer’s action is forthcoming and in time! See Num. 14: 40, 42. cf. Matt. 27: 3, 5; Heb. 12: 17.
It is also described as a gift from God (relative to initial salvation and eternal life) in Acts 11: 18: “Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life,” R.V. & A.V.
in the case of the vast majority of the accountable
generation who were redeemed from
Even in this day of peace many believers are believers in secret. They will not come forward to confess Jesus; specially in His own appointed way of baptism. As, then, they do not confess Christ now, they will bot be confessed by Him when He appears. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when [Page 41] He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels:” (Luke 9: 26; Mark 8: 38.
Is my reader a secret disciple? Does he [/she] fear to confess the Lord Jesus? Dies he turn from the baptism of believers? Does he find it a cross too heave to be borne? But let him weigh the other alternative. What thinks he of the Saviour’s refusal to own him in the day of His [manifested] power and glory? What thinks he of being rejected as an ungrateful coward that would not own his Deliverer? What thinks he of Christ’s being ashamed of him/[her] who was ashamed of the words uttered by the Wisdom of God? What, that [regenerate] man [or woman] enter the glory of the Lord? No! he/[she] was ashamed of Christ. And now it is Christ’s turn to be ashamed of him/[her]!
But there is yet another important “If.”
“If we believe not, yet he continueth faithful; for he cannot deny himself.”
“If we believe not.” Here is partial unbelief in God’s own elect. There is no doubt, that multitudes of God’s people disbelieve the millennial kingdom of glory. And Jesus says, that if any receive not with the simplicity of a little child His tidings of the coming kingdom of glory, destined for the Son of Man, they shall not enter: Luke 18: 17; Mark 10: 15. The present tense is employed, because the unbelief is an abiding state.
But there may be an acceptance of the millennial doctrine, and still there may be unbelief contemplated by these words. For many [regenerate] believers refuse God’s testimony concerning the penalties which will overtake God’s elect in that day, if they now offend against Christ’s words. They set up privileges of the elect against the threats of our Lord. ‘I don’t believe anything about the exclusion of any believer from the kingdom. And much less any infliction on any in that day, if they offend now. For all God’s dealings with the church are of grace alone. Are we not sons [Page 42] of God? Are we not members of Christ? Is not the Church the Bride of Christ? How then should He maim himself of his Bride?’
To which I reply, God testifies that grace is not the only principle to be brought to bear upon His elect. He has set apart a day, in which He will render to each according to his works. This is the day of patience and mercy: that the day in which He means to display His justice: Rom. 2: Heb. 12: 14-17, 25, chs. 3 & 4.
Jesus himself has said, that He will deny in the kingdom those who deny Him now. Where?
When He sent forth to twelve to herald the coming kingdom, and warned them of the persecutions that would ensue: Matt. 10: 7. “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” [Matt. 10: 28, A.V.]* “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven:” Matt. 10: 32, 33. Jesus, addressing disciples, says, “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you, Fear Him.” “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man confess before the angels of God. But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God:” Luke 12: 4, 5, 8, 9. It is evident, therefore, that Jesus must either deny them, or Himself. If He do not refuse these deniers, He must falsify His own words. But that He cannot do. For He is “Truth.” “Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war:” Rev. 19: 11.
[*NOTE. A better translation from the Greek of Matt. 10: 28 reads: “Be not afraid of those killing the BODY, but the LIFE not being able to kill; but be afraid rather (of Him) being able both life and body to destroy in Gehenna.”
Keep in mind the usual Biblical translation (in the A. V. of the Hebrew “Sheol” and the Greek “Hades”) is “Hell”: and “Hell” is not a reference to “the Lake of fire” - the eternal place and state the wicked (after resurrection, “when the thousand years are finished,” (Rev. 20: 7) and when “Hades gave up the dead which were in them,” (verse 13)!
The ‘body’ decomposes in the grave; but it is the disembodied ‘soul’ which descends (immediately after the time of death) into ‘Hades’ (‘in the heart of the earth,’ Matt. 12: 40) - to await resurrection (Rev. 6: 9, R.V.) when both body and soul will be reunited. See also Gen. 39: 35b; Acts. 2: 27, 34, R.V.). Gehenna, then, as occurring in the New Testament, symbolizes death and destruction, but in no place (where the word occurs 12 times in the common version) does it signify the “lake of fire” - the place of eternal torment.]
any should say, that this is a misapprehension by Paul of his Master’s scheme,
he appeals to Jesus’ own
words. This is of
vast moment to us of this day. For it is proof, that
the words of our Lord are of ultimate authority to the
presents to the former leader of the Church at
For a third instance take 1 Tim. 5: 18. (Also
* * *
Denial Of The First Resurrection.
2 Timothy 2: 14-21.
TIMOTHY was to impress on believers the conditions under which glory in the day to come is to be sought. If they received them already, he was to refresh their memory thereon: so important were they. They were to keep from strife about words, and to occupy themselves with the realities set before them in the Gospel.
Timothy was to manifest himself a skilled workman in the truth, rightly dividing it. The reference is, I doubt not, to the priests of old, who were required to understand the parts of an animal; and how to sever them, as required by the law of sacrifice. The priest was “to flay the offering, and cut it into pieces:” Lev. 1: 6.
“And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away:” 3: 9, 10.
The sacrifices were to be severed according to the command of God, and according also to the parts of the animal, as already defined by God the Creator. Now, the teacher of the Gospel is also rightly to divide [Page 46] the truths of God. As the Most High has constituted certain parts, bones, joints, &c., in the bullock, which are to be carefully respected by one who would rightly cut it up; so, in the system of truth which God presents to u, there are certain differing dispensations, regulated by different principles. These are to be studied, and their differences respected, both by the learner and the teacher. The priest might not cut up the sheep after a new theory of his own. The mode of dividing was to be learned by him from the animal, not imposed by him upon the sacrifice. Now, against this command, multitudes of [regenerate] Christian teachers offend. They divide what God would unite; they unite what God has divided. To some the Scripture is one; so one, that they take the commands given to Moses; and make them to be their rule of life in Christ. Some are erring in the other direction, and are denying the direct application of Christ’s words to [regenerate] believers in Him.
In short, the great differences of dispensations, as constituted by the Lord, are to be learned, and maintained. Such will be accounted wisdom, when the account of each shall be rendered: v. 15.
But there were systems of doctrine then, which made divisions unacknowledged by God, and introduced, accordingly, a new phraseology. Real discoveries demand, often, new words; because of ideas, of God’s originating, are brought to light. But these [false] systems, professedly devised by ‘the Men of Intelligence.’ Abounded with new-coined words, founded on men’s empty fancies. Such were the Gnostic ‘fables,’ and ‘Aeons.’ (or emanations from the Most High God.) …
Take, as another example, a passage from Valentinus the Gnostic:-
“The Father then caused to emanate from himself, when he was as yet the only existing Being, ‘Mind’ and ‘Truth:’ that is the couple which became lord and principle of all the AEons named by them as existing within the Fulness. Now, when ‘Mind’ and ‘Truth’ were projected by this ‘Father,’ being themselves possessed of the power to produce, they imitated the Father, and gave birth to ‘Word’ and ‘Life.’ Then ‘Word’ and ‘Life’ produced ‘Man’ and ‘Church’. (Hipolytus, p. 272.)
Here, then, we have the empty names which the Holy Spirit denounces; we have also their profaneness; for false feelings and acts are attributed to God. Here, also, we have the “endless genealogies” and absurd ‘old women’s stories’ which Paul summarily and justly condemns. We learn, moreover, that new system-makers would still proceed in speeches of impiety, and deeds of evil. And instead of being rejected and denounced by all but a few, there would [Page 48] be many who would receive these fables in preference to God’s truth.
This is preparing in our day. The new rising doctrine of the non-eternity of suffering cannot abide alone, but must go on introducing further and further denials of the truth. It is like mortification; which is death coming in upon a part of the body - a part that was before possessed of life. Thus, the denial of any truth of God previously owned means loss of faith in that testimony of the Lord. And as faith is life, so unbelief is death. This treats, then, of partial unbelief among [regenerate] believers.
apostle then specifies the names of two who were denying the first resurrection
– “Hymenaeus and Philetus.” The name of
Hymenaeus occurs in the first epistle, conjoined with that of Alexander, as one
who was once in the
These leaders, Hymenaeus and Philetus, erred from the truth in a point of mush moment, “saying, that the resurrection is past already.”
What was the nature of their error?
1. Some think they were wrong as regards the nature of the resurrection. They denied it, it is supposed, any rising up of the body after death. Resurrection was only a spiritual thing – the rising up of the soul, or of the spirit of man, to new life: Irenaeus, ii, 31, 2. But [Page 49] no! If so, the apostle would have described their mistake in other terms. The error which they originated did reach that pitch at last: but, at the commencement, its departure from the truth was not so great.
2. From the apostle’s words it is certain, that they were wrong as to the time of the resurrection. They erred in saying that the first resurrection - the resurrection of bliss, and of reward - was past already, when it was really future.
3. Again, if they had said that the resurrection was that of the soul, they would have limited the extent of the resurrection. For none but the elect are regenerate. In the true view if it, they were speaking, not of a general resurrection of all the dead, but of the righteous alone. By “the resurrection,” the Scripture means the first and blest resurrection: Luke 14: 14; 20: 36; Rom. 6: 5.*
* This is confirmed by Ps. 1: 5, which should be rendered – “Therefore the ungodly shall not arise in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation, of the righteous.”
From this, also, it is evident, that they did not mean that the resurrection was simply something spiritual; for of that they could not say absolutely, that it “was past already.” For while regeneration has taken place in the souls of many believers, yet it is a work still going on, as they must allow; and yet future, in regard of many of God’s elect.
Moreover both the parts of the seal spoken of in the next verse refer to [regenerate] believers only. “The Lord knows them that are His.” “Namers of the name of the Lord.”
The hope of the ‘first’ resurrection [as a door leading the holy dead to the “prize” (Phil. 3: 14)] is spread before all believers now. For [Christian] baptism is still the first rite of the faith, and its immersion and emersion exhibit, not only our new present course of life, as risen from spiritual death, but also our hope of the first [Page 50] resurrection. “For if [this is conditional] we become fellow-plants in the likeness of His (Christ’s) death, [as we do, when buried under water as believers] why, we shall be also of the [first] resurrection:” (Greek Rom. 6: 5. This first resurrection is the finding of life given up for Christ, according to His command: Matt. 16: 25. [All] The martyrs are to be conspicuous partakers of the bliss of the thousand years.
whence could these errorists derive a resting place for their assertion of a
past bodily resurrection? From the Gospel of Matthew. At the death of Jesus, we read, “The earth did quake, and the
rocks rent; and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of their graves after his [Christ’s]
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many:” 27: 51-53. Here, then is a real
resurrection of saints, and a past resurrection. This satisfies all the conditions of the
case, and is, therefore, [amongst multitudes of Christians today as] the true
view. It is clear, then, that Matthew’s
Gospel, in which alone this notification is given, was already written; and
spread among [regenerate] believers,
so far away from
Some important manuscripts read the passage in Timothy without the article, “Saying, that resurrection is past already.” But this proves itself to be a correction made by some transcribers who did not rightly understand the verse. For without the article, it would signify, that resurrection was spiritual. But if so, then, as has been proved, it cannot be either past, or general. Regeneration is limited in its extent, and is still going on [daily, in the lives of those who “believe (aorist tense) on the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16: 31, R.V.).]
The apostle, in rectifying the error, notices first the unshaken ‘foundation’ of the hope, as resting on the counsel of God, and the words of Scripture. Then he tacitly compares the true extent of the future resurrection of bliss with that erroneously set up. The resurrection of which Matthew speaks did not include the Lord’s elect in general, but only some of God’s saints of the Old [and New, see John 11: 43] Testament. But, then, the second inscription on the seal, (verse 19,) interposes a caution, that, not all the Lord’s elect will enter the kingdom; because, after* [Should be before: see Heb. 9: 27 and following NOTE.] the act of rising from the dead, there is a judgment by Christ of believers; and before His judgment seat [at that time] not all of them will stand approved. Moreover, the resurrection of Matthew took place in ‘this day;’ but the resurrection and its [subsequent] kingdom are to take effect in a day yet to come - “that day.”*
[* NOTE. If we accept the word ‘after’ as shown above by Robert Govett, instead of before (as I have suggested it should be), then all regenerate Christians will have to be resurrected “from the dead” at Christ’s return, (1 Thess. 4: 16, R.V.) to be judged; and afterward, those not “accounted worthy of that age” - (i.e., Christ’s Millennium), would have to return again into ‘Hades’ - the place of the dead! But this cannot be! See John 3: 13; 14: 14; Acts 2: 34ff.; Rev. 6: 9, etc.). Jesus says (of those who will be resurrected to immortality): “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels:” (Luke 20: 36, R.V.). Therefore, the resurrections mentioned in Matthew, were not resurrections unto immortality. They were God’s act of power in His keeping with what we read was formerly requested: See 1 Sam. 28: 11; Luke 16: 30, R.V.! We are not told (of those who were resurrected in Matthew), that they ascended into Heaven afterwards! We conclude therefore they returned to the place from whence they came - into “Sheol” = “Hades” where Abraham is presently awaiting his “inheritance” upon this earth, as divinely promised, (Acts 7: 5. cf. Gen. 15: 17: 8, R.V.– Ed.]
Here, then, we have a specimen of a wrong division of the Word of God. These teachers owned the resurrection of the saint to be a thing affecting the body and soul. But, in affirming it to be past, they did away with all its inspiriting power upon themselves and others. The hope of reward in the coming millennial day was the prize set by the apostles before the eyes of the Christian, to cheer him to diligence in action, and to patience [and perseverance] in suffering for Christ. The conclusion of Paul’s chapter on the resurrection is this – “Therefore, by beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord:” 1 Cor. 15: 58. Paul sought a place in the first resurrection as the prize of his calling: Phil. 3. He was one of the ‘violent ones,’ bent on breaking an entrance into the kingdom of glory by force. And if the resurrection be a literal, personal thing on the saint’s part, the coming of Christ which effects it is personal on our Lord’s part; and the kingdom which follows is a personal thing also.
“They are overturning the faith of some.” The effect of the errorists’ misrepresentation of this one passage, and this doctrine, was the shaking of faith generally, in those who received their views. The doctrine [of a select resurrection out from the dead] is so important, that Paul considers the believer’s faith ‘overturned,’ who is led to give up the truth. The [Page 52] fruits of the kingdom cannot be attained by those who deny the millennial reign, and the first resurrection, which admits to it.
It was wonderful that any Christians, while apostles were yet alive, should listen to men uninspired, who contradicted their statements of doctrine. But so it was. There seems to be no error, how flagrant soever, which will not, if confidently promulgated, win adherents.
* * *
The Foundation And Its Seal.
HYMENAEUS and Philetus “erred from the truth.” These errorists seemed to overturn a truth of Scripture, for they destroyed faith in it, in the minds of some [regenerate] believers. But they did not shake it in its reality; for that rested on a footing far beyond man’s power - the purpose and power of God. “The foundation of God,” then, means the basis God has given: the basis on which this first resurrection so questioned, reposes. It rests on God’s promise given by Christ.* And nothing can shake that. What God, Who is truth, has said, His power shall effect. These words are Paul’s re-assertion of what the above-named [Christian] leaders denied. The truth of the doctrine however did not at last rest on Paul’s word, but on God’s. We have here the re-production of the sentiment of verse 12. “If [it is conditional] we suffer, we shall reign with him.” Men’s views alter: God’s purposes are firm.
[* See Ps. 2: 8; 110: 1-3, R.V. etc.]
The resurrection of saints, then, which took place at Jesus’ resurrection, did not exhaust God’s design [or future plans]; did not disturb the hopes which the apostle felt and which they held out to [regenerate] Christians generally, as a stimulant to deeds of good; as a cordial under sufferings for Christ. The resurrection of Old Testament saints which took place at [the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27: 51, 52), and therefore before] the Saviour’s rising again [‘three days and three nights’ later] was not the full resurrection contemplated by God. Such an interpretation would shut out from millennial bliss, apostles [Page 54] themselves. For they were not among the dead when Jesus rose. And this hope of a first resurrection was presented by our Lord to all His disciples, especially those of the Church. But the [Gentile] Church did not begin to be, only after the Holy Spirit’s descent, which was the result of the Saviour’s ascension.
The resurrection of Matt. 27, was not the one promised by Christ, and re-echoed by apostles. “Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just:” Luke 14: 14. Now that past resurrection did not include all the ‘righteous,’ to whom it is here promised. It did not include all that shall be “accounted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead:” Luke 20: 35. Not all the doers of good were embraced by that past resurrection: John 5: 28, 29; Rev. 20: 4-6. God’s purpose to bring the Son of Man a second time into the habitable earth, and to give Him and his “fellows” the kingdom which comes in with the trump of God, the Saviour’s descent from above, and the saints’ resurrection [out] from the dead, still abides firm.
We must beware of that creeping mortification which in the latter days of Greek philosophy stole in with its poisoning unbelief. ‘There is no such thing as truth: all is human opinion.’ Not so! God has spoken. His words have a meaning which He knows, whether we apprehend it, or not. Those words proceed from His counsel and purpose, and will be realised in visible facts.
“Having this seal.” The “foundation” is in God’s own self. But the “seal” or - ‘inscription as with the graving of a signet,’ - gives us written testimony of God in which we are to put our trust.
The one seal has two inscriptions: giving us the principles on which God has set the resurrection of bliss.
1. The first is – “THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT ARE HIS.”
These are words of consolation, designed for Christians perplexed by the errors and apostacy of [regenerate] men of eminence. Their complaints might have taken such form as this:- ‘What, Paul! do you tell us of Christian teachers, falling away from truth and grace? Is it true, that they have injected deadly doctrines so forcibly and effectually into the minds of believers? Will this beginning of evil grow worse and worse? Is nothing secure? You perplex and dishearten us! Can the illuminated of God grow dark, and resist the light? Can these guides into truth, lead others as you say, into error? You make us doubt first principles! Have you not taught us the final perseverance of the saints? And do you still assert, that false doctrine, producing insensibility and death is abroad, and that it will gain ground? How, then, do your doctrines agree with facts? We are not stumbled with evil in the world; we expect it and false doctrine too, in the den of the Old Deceiver. But in the church, the fold of the Saviour’s sheep, - can death enter and riot there?’
The answer then is –
1. ‘Be not shaken! God has His own elect; He knows them perfectly; and will, without fail, bring them into eternal life.’
‘But we do not
know perfectly who are God’s elect.’ ‘Unregenerate men may creep into the fold Jude 4.’ Those who fall away and lead others into
error may then be of two classes - Either (1.) The non-elect, who have imposed upon the leaders of the flock, and
are now showing their un-renewed nature. Or they
may be (2.) elect
ones, who for awhile turn toward partial
unbelief, error, and sin; but are
finally to be brought back by God’s grace and power. This will be opened further by and by. Thus, then, if their falling away be perfect and final, then men were not God’s
elect; however great at one time their repute in the
The second inscription is:-
“LET EVERY ONE DEPART FROM INIQUITY
WHO NAMETH THE NAME OF THE LORD!”*
* True reading.
“Naming the name of the Lord” is another mode describing a [genuine and regenerate] Christian. “Here he (Saul) hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name:” Acts 9: 14. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord:” 1 Cor. 1: 2. Those who call on Christ’s name truly are also the saved. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved:” Acts 2: 21; Rom. 10: 13.
Some may indeed name the name of the Lord, and be called by it who do not call upon the name. But in general this expression “naming the name of the Lord” is equivalent to “those that are His.”
Of such it is demanded that they depart from iniquity. For the Lord hates iniquity. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” On God’s side there is gift - the gift of eternal life to [all] his elect. But privilege and election do not set aside God’s call for Holiness. On man’s side lies the responsibility to depart from iniquity. Holiness is the proof to ourselves and to others, that we are born again, the elect of God.
Moreover [an undisclosed standard (Matt 5: 20) of] holiness is the declared condition of entrance into the millennial kingdom, whereinto the first resurrection leads. The [coming] kingdom is the kingdom of the saints: Deut. 6: 18, 24; Matt. 7: 21-23; Psalms 34: 12-22; 6: 8; 37: 9-38.
Whence are derived these two inscriptions, on the foundation.
(1.) From our Lord’s words (1) “I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep:” John 10: 14. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them:” 27; Matt. 7: 23; John 5: 42. These sheep Jesus will awake, at the resurrection of “those that are Christ’s at his coming:” 1 Cor. 15: 23.
(2.) “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father that is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity:’” Matt. 7: 21-23; John 5: 29. Here are those [Christians] who name the name of the Lord, but the Lord knows them not [relative to the subject in hand]. He calls on them to depart from Himself, as workers of iniquity. Those who will not depart from iniquity must depart from Christ in the millennial day. Only those [Christians] to whom He says – ‘Come, ye blessed’ will enjoy that kingdom of His glory: Luke 13: 24-29. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection:” Rev. 20: 4-6.
Here, then, is a caution against the views of some, who are setting aside our Lord’s words, as though superseded by the [Holy] Spirit’s descent, and the doctrine of ‘the Church.’ But in these words we see again that the Saviour’s sayings were the basis of Paul’s ministry. To them he concurs, as those of ultimate and conclusive authority.
(2.) These two principles in relation to the millennial kingdom, or first resurrection, appear also in the message of John the Baptist - the first herald of the new proclamation [in the New Testament]. He admits that the people he addressed were the seed of Abraham, God’s chosen. But he adds, also, that there was a demand on every fruit-tree to bear fruit. Without that, they would be swept away in “the wrath” which clears the earth and heaven, in preparation for “the kingdom” of [Messiah’s manifested] glory.
(3.) These two principles are seen also in the heavenly city, God’s final abode. On the twelve foundations of it are the names of the twelve apostles of grace. But on the superstructure - on the twelve gates of entry into the New Jerusalem, are the names [Page 58] of the twelve tribes - the witnesses to God as demanding righteousness: Rev. 21: 1.
(4.) The ‘foundation’ and ‘seal’ refer also to the history of our Lord’s resurrection. “The foundation” answers to the great stone which Joseph of Arimathaea [accompanied by soldiers] rolled to the mouth of the tomb which contained the Holy One of God. This - [it was assumed] - made force necessary from without, err the body could be carried off. But might not disciples come by night, roll away the stone, and carry off the corpse, and then cry? – ‘Jesus is risen!’
To prevent this, a new precaution was adopted. The governor’s seal is imposed on the stone. When Jesus’ resurrection takes place, therefore, the great stone is rolled away, and the seal is broken by an angel. ’Twas no deceit, but reality: the Holy One of God had risen!
But in Paul’s day, the case is reversed. God has set His stone to the door of the saint’s sepulchres, and His seal, as Governor, and King, is affixed, “till the third day” - the day of resurrection - [i.e., our Lord’s resurrection “out of dead ones” John 20: 9b. (Lit. Greek.)]. The seal’s descriptions give us to know who [from amongst His redeemed people] will rise and enter the [millennial] kingdom. This seal of the King, and its mottoes, are designed to secure us against deceit. But, then, a new deceit had broken out. A cry was raised - ‘the resurrection of the saints has taken place!’ while the great stone still covers the mouth of their sepulchres, while the seal is still unbroken, and the principles of the inscriptions are still unfulfilled! The deception set on foot by the Pharisees was the denial of God’s foes that Jesus’ resurrection had taken place, when it had really occurred; and when the impotence of man was written on both the stone and the seal. The description in Paul’s day was propagated among disciples, asserting that the stone was rolled away, the seal broken, and resurrection fulfilled, when the stone and the seal of God were both fixed to the [saint’s] tomb. Thus Paul was made, like his Lord, to take the place of “that Deceiver.”*
[* I was told (by an ordained Presbyterian minister), that Presbyterians believe the “body,” (after resurrection has taken place), must remain in the grave until Christ returns to redeem it, (Rom. 8: 23)! This is not what the Scriptures teach? The Scriptures teach us that (at the time of Resurrection), bodies and souls are redeemed at the same time! All that Death had separated will then be reunited. The whole man - spirit, soul and body - will be redeemed at the same time; not just one part of him, which Death had separated!
Our Lord’s body lay in Joseph’s tomb while He - as a disembodied “soul” - was “in the heart of the earth,” (Matt. 12: 40). That is, in “Hades” = “Sheol”: and neither of these places are described in Scripture as Heaven! It is written (of King David): “My flesh also shall dwell in safety. For thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” Ps. 16: 9b, 10, R.V.): but David (says Peter at Pentecost many years later) “ascended not into the heavens!”(Acts 2: 34, R.V.). Therefore, David is in “Sheol” still! and from there he (and every other saint of God), is awaiting the Lord’s return to resurrect the holy dead, (1 Thess. 4: 16, R.V.). See also John 14: 3; Rev. 6: 9, 11, and compare with John 3: 13, R.V.).
Am I also, (for believing this divine truth) a “deceiver”? What does our Lord Jesus in Luke 24: 39-46 teach us? Precisely what His Apostles taught Christians in their day.]
None but the power that rolled the stone to His [Page 59] saints’ graves, and affixed His seal to them, can open their graves, and bring them forth to life and His kingdom. Some might credit the false cry – ‘The saints’ resurrection is past!’ But it is all a deceit. The earthquake is yet to take place, when Christ, as the Lord, shall put death into His enemies, and [resurrection]-life into His friends. If the resurrection of the saints were past, the seal had been broken, and the inscription fulfilled. But it is not true. Not all God’s elect were raised when Jesus rose. Much less was the reward of the [millennial] kingdom, and its authority, given to God’s departers from iniquity. On the contrary, Paul, one of the chief of God’s elect, and pre-eminent among the departers from iniquity, was just about to be slain, and [his body] committed to the tomb, by the chief king of the earth at enmity with God. Disciples, therefore, are to be like Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, awaiting the opening of the tomb which they see closed by God; and expecting the fulfilment of the inscriptions of the seal, when God’s third day of resurrection is come.* God’s purpose remains unchanged, though deceivers may testify – ‘The resurrection is past!’
[* That is, “After two days” - after two thousand years, for, “one day is with the Lord a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3: 8, R.V.) - “will he revive us (Israel): on the third day he will raise us up” (presumably at ‘the First Resurrection’), “and we shall live before him:” (Hosea 6: 2, R.V.). This unfulfilled prophecy must soon take place!]
Satan assails the [coming] resurrection!
He sees it is the foundation of our faith. At
(5.) There is also a very marked reference to the history of KORAH’S AND DATHAN’S CONSPIRACY, as given in the sixteenth of Numbers. Just toward the close of the [Page 60] sojourn in the wilderness, a formidable conspiracy against Moses and Aaron arose, and was quelled by the power of Jehovah, ere the land of promise was entered. Thus, also, in apostle’s days, a formidable resistance to Paul was organized; and would be dealt with by God on the same principles as He exhibited in the desert.
Korah and his fellow-Levites, ambitiously seeking the priesthood, accused Moses and Aaron of unjust self-exaltation. “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore, then, lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” Thus they resisted God’s appointment of ruler and priest. Moses falls back on the superiority belonging to himself and Aaron, as being of Jehovah’s appointment. “The Lord knows who are his, and who is holy.” Thus the Septuagint translate. Moreover, on the next day the distinction would be shown.
Thus there arose in the apostle’s days, and in later times, Gnostics, who esteemed themselves equal to, yea, superior to apostles. As Irenaeus says, “There are some who, in their boastfulness, dare to call themselves correctors of apostles:” B. iii, 1. The Marcionites cast aside Scriptures at their pleasure. When appeal was made to Scripture given by apostles, reply was given by the leaders of false doctrine, that they, “wiser, not only than elders, but even that apostles, had found the pure truth. That apostles had mixed up legal sayings with the Saviour’s words: yea, that not apostles only, but the Lord Himself had uttered sayings, sometimes from the Demiurge, sometimes from the midway region, sometimes from the loftiest; but that they, without doubt, and without a particle of error, or wilfulness, knew the secret mystery:” chap. 2; see also chap. 12. Hence Paul is led so frequently to assert his call to the apostleship, as given of the Lord: 2 Tim. 1: 11; 2: 8; 1 Tim. 1: 12.
second inscription of the seal has a like clear reference to the history of
Dathan’s and Korah’s sin. Dathan called
Moses’ apostleship, and the hope of
“Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover, thou hast not brought us into the land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up:” Num. 16: 13, 14.
speech, then, was peculiarly perverse, peculiarly offensive to God. It declared, that
there was no land to be enjoyed, like that which Moses had promised. There was nothing but the wilderness, as they
could see. Moses had really deceived
them in leading them up out of
Similar was the deceit which Paul was raised up to oppose. Hymenaeus and Philetus were denying the hope of the first resurrection of the saints, and representing it as long ago fulfilled. It was vain to hope for such a special millennial day as Paul preached. Thus the sin of the wilderness was repeated. “Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word. But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord. Therefore he lifted up his hand (swore) against them to overthrow them in the wilderness:” Ps. 106: 24-26. Those that will not believe the millennial kingdom, shall not enter it: Luke 18: 17; Mark 10: 15.
Against such the second inscription of the seal applies. “Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Korah, the Levite, names the name of the Lord. “All the congregation are holy, and the Lord is among them.” “Wherefore, then, lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of [Page 62] the Lord.” His plea, that is, is founded on the name of the Lord; but he holds fast by injustice. For he arraigns, unlawfully, Moses and Aaron, as guilty of ambitious self-elevation, in exercising the offices they held. He was also constructively guilty of the injustice of Dathan against Moses. The conspiracy was a joint one between himself and Dathan; and very successful as regards its numbers. The gangrene spread through the whole assembly in the wilderness.
Against this conspiracy the calls of God and of Moses go forth. First, Jehovah calls to Moses and Aaron out of the glory. “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” They plead with God for pardon for the host, and then Jehovah tells Moses, Speak unto the congregation, saying, “Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram:” 21. Here the unity of the twofold conspiracy is seen. It was brought to a head around a rival tabernacle set up in opposition to that of Moses and of God.
Moses then addresses the congregation. “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.” While he spake, the earth opened, and swallowed up the offenders around Dathan; and their rival tabernacle went down into the pit [i.e., ‘Sheol’]. Then came a fire out from Jehovah and cut off the priestly company of offenders, who were standing before the door of the Lord’s tabernacle.
The next day the people cry out against Moses and Aaron, as killing “the people of the Lord!” 41. They too use the name of the Lord, but depart not from injustice. The Lord again speaks out of the glory to Moses and Aaron. “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” The plague enters and destroys fourteen thousand seven hundred; and is only stayed by the intercession of God’s priest.
These actings of God in the desert are types of what will befall like offenders in the Christian Church. They will be cut off from among the assembly of the Lord that shall enter His millennial rest.
When the tabernacle of Korah and his associates was overturned, “the foundation of the Lord’s” tabernacle stood secure; with all those that abode about it.
(6.) Moreover, both the inscriptions which Paul gives were attached to the priesthood of Aaron.
What was it that Aaron carried on his breast before the Lord? The twelve names of the twelve tribes, “engraved as with the engraving of a signet,” (seal.) What did he bear on his two shoulders, graven on the onyx stones? The same twelve names of the chosen tribes. What said that? “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” And his priest bore such upon his heart in love when he went before the Lord; and the government of the same was borne upon his shoulders of power.
And what said his mitre? On it was graven “as with the engraving of a seal” - “Holiness to the Lord.” Here, then, you have Paul’s second inscription.
Further when Solomon sets up the pillars of brass, Jachin and Boaz, of them the names signify – “He shall establish in power.” The [millennial] Kingdom of the Christ shall be established in the might of resurrection.
firmness to His appointments and to His purpose to bring only the obedient into the
[* Capitals are mine.
danger of being ‘cut off’ from ‘the
objection and difficulty first considered have, then, received a very clear
reply. ‘Let it
not stumble you, that troubles arise in God’s
assembly, and among the leaders of the host of God! In every age there have been false doctrine,
and resistance to authority set up by the Lord; and that among His own
people. The [Page
64] conspiracy we have
considered was led by the chiefs of
Nor must such a scene lead any to question truths plainly revealed. Even if the falling away be final and without repentance, we can say only - ‘That man seemed to all human eyes a son of God. But he died in darkness. The Lord only to a certainty knows who are His.’
But now another objection arises. ‘Granted - as you have proved - that these troubles are so novelty, and existed in principle among God’s people of old, we ask - Why are they permitted? We do not stumble at seeing false professors unmasked. But they affect - as to our sorrow we are compelled to see - the truly regenerate.’
The twentieth verse of our passage supplies the answer. It connects itself closely with the last command. ‘Let every believer in Christ depart from iniquity!’ But what if a believer do not, when called, so depart?
The answer is - ‘If he be elect he will be saved. But if a teacher of false doctrine, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, overthrowing the faith, instead of building it up - “he will escape so as through fire:”’ 1 Cor. 3. While the day of reward according to works proceeds, he will be like one attempting to escape out of a house on fire over his head. After that day is finished, a place in God’s eternal kingdom will be assigned him, suited to the course he took on earth.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”
the palace of the Great King there are vessels of all kinds of materials, and
of each variety of use. So [Page
65] in this dispensation [or ‘evil age’] there are men being prepared by their course of life
after believing, to fill all the varieties of posts hereafter to be assigned by
the Great Governor of all. That any will
be a vessel in that palace, is a matter of electing grace. But the different places and offices among
the elect will be arranged according to the works of each after faith. On our departing from iniquity, and pursuing
after righteousness, depends our rank and function in
the future eternal
This further view receives its designed manifestation in the history we are considering. Korah and his Levites, presented themselves before the Lord with censers of brass, (copper) ver. 39. Aaron came before Jehovah with censer of gold. Here, then, is at once the difference of material.
are cut off from the assembly of the Lord by fire. But, then, Jehovah calls for Eleazar the
priest, and bids him “Take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder, for they
are hallowed. The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make broad plated for a covering of the
[copper] altar; for
they offered them before the Lord, therefore
they are hallowed; and they shall be a
sign unto the children of
“The dishonour of the inferior vessels,” says Calvin, “is shut up in themselves; they do not deform the house, or the Master, who finds his plans carried out in their use for inferior purposes.”
The contrary to this is exhibited in the case of Aaron. His censer of gold is made a vessel of honour; for when the plague breaks out the next day among the murmuring people, he puts incense upon it, and stands between the dead and the living; and the plague is stayed. Moreover, the Lord yet further glorifies His servant, and exhibits His good pleasure in His priesthood. To prove by a miracle that Aaron is God’s chosen priest, the other tribes are made with him to present before the Lord each a staff with the name of their respective tribes engraven thereon. They are laid up before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. And, behold, on the morrow, Aaron’s dead rod was made alive, full of leaf, blossom, and fruit! This was a type of the resurrection of the righteous. And the rod was typical of the sceptre of the coming [millennial] kingdom to be given to God’s accepted one. The censer is the priest’s badge; the rod, the king’s. It was primarily and especially true of Jesus, who appeals to His power to raise up in three days the temple taken down by death.
‘But may not the ‘great house’ refer to the present time of disorder, to Christendom and the self-called national Church?’
No: for the time spoken of, in which the place is to be assigned to each, is the future day - the key-note of this Epistle.
“If [it is conditional] a man therefore purge himself from these (things) he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared for every good work.”
The being a vessel in God’s house, you may be a vessel to dishonour. And Paul sought, that God’s elect should not only find salvation, but glory also.
while Christendom may now be described as a “great
For the present we must be ignorant what the final arrangement to each will be. Do we inquire, What will be the issue to the two signalized for false doctrine here? Where will Hymenaeus and Philetus be set? Were they of the Lord’s elect or not? Probably Paul did not know. At any rate, he does not say. It was better for us that he should not. Thus it was most fitted to minister to us the lessons it was designed to teach. For we are not perfectly certain concerning any, what is the position they now, or in the future will, hold before God. We may not be able certainly to distinguish between those who are “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” And those who are vessels of God’s house, but who will be ultimately “vessels to dishonour.” But God can: and our souls must not [Page 68] give up truths of His testimony, because of difficulties attending them.
is the season of departing from evil; the “morrow”
is the time when the position of each will be determined. But
all through the dispensation there is opportunity for repentance. “Great tribulation – except
they repent of their deeds,”
is the Lord’s word to offending servants
21. “If [for this is conditional] any therefore purge himself from these (things) he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
From what things is each [regenerate believer] to purge himself? From things to which all are prone - strifes of words, false divisions of the Word of God, profane and vain babblings, false doctrine, and injustice.
‘But does not this teach rather, that we are to separate from evil men? that we are to take care not to get defiled by “vessels of dishonour?” Does not the history of Korah teach the same lesson? What else are we to learn from the thrice repeated – “Separate yourselves!”’
We are indeed instructed, that when parties shall be formed refusing Christ’s Priesthood and Lordship, (for that is the meaning to us of the rising against Moses and Aaron) we must keep aloof from such fellowship. But evil has not yet risen to such a height; though one day it will. And even, then, the lesson is not, that we should then leave the assembly, and pitch a new camp. Moses was there, and God, and His tabernacle, despite the uprising of these conspirators among the Lord’s people.
Nor is this a caution against getting defiled by “vessels of dishonour.” Those addressed are [disobedient and apostate] persons already defiled, and needing cleansing.* And separation is not cleansing. Nor is there any cleansing from unclean vessels in the history before us. The brasen censers - vessels though they were to dishonour - did [Page 69] not defile him who touched them. Eleazar the priest takes them up out of the burning; but he is not made unclean thereby. Moses handles the rods that remain under death, but he is not [commanded] to cleanse himself afterwards; as if defiled thereby.
[* See 1 Cor. 5: 9-13. cf. 2 Cor. 2: 5-11, R.V.).]
The next paragraph (verses 22-26) gives directions to the man of God how to behave towards all; towards true believers, and towards opposers of the truth, whether believers or not. And here but one line of conduct is commanded. It is not ‘excommunication for believers who resist portions of God’s truth’- it is gentleness towards all, - patience, a setting forth the truth controverted in its real form. “In meekness instruction the opposers:” not cutting them off at once, if any false doctrine touching fundamentals is found in them. It is to be a looking out for and hoping for their repentance and recovery out of the devil’s snare, in which for the time, these are entangled.
Here again it seems there is a further reference to the conspiracy in the desert. Moses was generally very meek: but in his reply to Dathan his patience failed: Num. 16: 15. Yet he is seen instructing opposers; first, the offending Levites; and then the people generally verses 26-30. The issue of his appeal may encourage us. The truth given of God detached many from the tabernacle of Korah. The others went down alive into the pit [Heb. “Sheol”]. They were like wild animals caught alive in a trap that shuts them in. This seems to be the force of the singular Greek word used (ver. 26,) by Paul, which the margin renders - “taken alive.”
While the man of God is to seek to deliver others out of the devil’s snares, yet his success will be but small.
For what shall we say to the description of the last times, as drawn by the hand of God? Are they peculiarly happy, holy, joyous times? The Gospel accepted by all, and lived by all? As far from it as well can be! Perilous days and dark. The character of the [Page 70] men of these times greatly resembling that of the Gentiles before the Gospel appeared: Rom. 1. The last days [of this evil age] are to be known by the presence of scoffers and antichrists: 2 Pet. 3; Jude 18; 1 John 2: 18. The last state of the evil generation will be worse than the first: Matt. 12: 45.
“Selfishness” is the first characteristic. It is in a great degree the key to the other forms of evil. Disregard of the claims and feelings of others, whenever they interfere with my convenience, or precepts, or gains, is becoming increasingly manifest in out times. Let us, Christians, seek to be unlike this! “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” was one of the two great principles, even of the Law. But the call of Jesus goes greatly beyond it. “Love one another as I have loved you.” “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” “Look not every one on his own things.”
“Covetous.” That the live
of money is growing, needs no proof. This form of selfishness is manifestly
increasing. Many [Christians
included appear to] live
to ‘make money.’* And
with the increase of money, more is sought.
Men begin now to seek riches at a point where, in a former generation,
they left off. Competition, speculation,
and determination to be rich at all costs, characterize [the spirit of] our day. ‘To seek to make
your fortune’ seems to be accounted quite lawful, even for a
Christian. But it is not! None can be bent
on that, and yet serving Christ. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Covetous disciples [of Christ] (do not
deceives yourselves!) shall have no portion in the (millennial)
[* Christianity today, is described throughout the world, as a “money racket.’]
“Boasters.” The desire to make others think as much of us as we do of ourselves is another feature. ’Tis mightly seen now in commerce. How boastful are commercial advertisements! And hoe oft untrue! This is laughed at often as folly. But it is also wickedness. Christians! Our boasting is to be in the [Page 71] Lord, and in His cross! We have nothing to boast of. In ourselves, that is, in our flesh dwells no good thing. We are redeemed alike from what man is, and from what he deserves.
“Proud.” An overweening estimate of man’s self, and his deserts, is growing. Refusal to associate with those who are not on our level [socially, professionally, educationally or materially] is one form of it. Are not high thoughts of our own times, of our own nation, of the nineteenth [now twenty-first] century, of its societies, and the state of the churches, greatly abroad? Christians! HUMILITY* is our befitting clothing. The [millennial] day that is at hand will abase the proud, and exalt the lowly.
[* Capitals Mine. NOTE. Christians, who are respecters of persons, act contrary to the Lord Jesus! Acts 10: 34, R.V. It is one of the many forms of hypocrisy amongst believers: and it is responsible for the ‘parties’ (cliques) within God’s churches. Peter was openly reprimanded by Paul for this behaviour? Gal. 2: 12. It is generally shown to be the case that small gatherings of working class believers, act more in keeping with what God expects, than those attending much larger gatherings. God hates this kind of behaviour amongst His redeemed people! - Ed.]
“Blasphemers.” With high thoughts of man come disparaging thoughts and words about God. This is beginning. It will attain such lawful benefit at last, as to bring down Christ in wrath to take vengeance. The principle whence these blasphemies will spring is already planted. It may be seen in the denial of eternity of torment as due to the [unregenerate] wicked.* Whenever the evil which we see around us shall be traced to the Creator, and not to the creature, the volcano of blasphemy will burst forth. Christians! Let our hearts abound with love and thanksgiving!
[* NOTE. Throughout Scripture the adjective ‘wicked,’ is used to describe redeemed (and therefore regenerate people also)! “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men…” (Num. 16: 26, R.V.). “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves …” (1 Cor. 5: 13b. The context makes this perfectly clear: “… but now I write unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: … what have I to do with judging them that are without?” See also Matt. 18: 32; 25: 26; 2 Pet. 3: 17, R.V.]
“Disobedient to parents.” Here is a very conspicuous form of selfishness. The young child, now [as well as the mature man and woman] will not be controlled, even by those set by God over it [and them] for that purpose. Resistance to authority, beginning with childhood, launches out in the man into fierceness of politics, and speaking evil of dignities. Jesus is our pattern of a perfect childhood, and His perfection was discovered in entire subjection to Joseph and Mary.
“Unthankful.” He who is disobedient and ungrateful to parents, will not show gratitude to other benefactors. Much is now done for the poor and distressed; but it is frequently received as if due, with little or no gratitude of heart. Christians! if we are tried with ingratitude in those who have benefited, let us remember [Page 72] that there is One who will requite it. And are not we ourselves deficient in gratitude to God?
I will not go through all the features of this dark face; but spend a few words on what seem to me the more salient traits. For while much is already coming out of the canvas, there is worse yet to appear.
“Without natural affection.” With want of obedience to parents comes also want of love for them. They are looked on only as persons set to please and obey them. And those children grown up become parents who care little about their offspring, or even turn them out of doors. Brothers aid but little their brothers in times of difficulty. Sons, well to do, allow their parents to languish in poverty. The bonds of wedlock fail to keep up affection. That this evil lineament of our times is growing, none will deny. The Lord give His people grace to be unlike the evil times!
The breaking of engagements, false accusation, ‘incontinence,’ in the sense of rushing on indulgence, despite all consequences; ‘fierceness,’ which despises the gentle and gracious; ‘treachery,’ professing friendship, only to betray to foes, are trials of character common enough. “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
The ‘love of pleasure’ is another conspicuous element of the [present] day. Who will show us some new thing? ‘Enjoy life,’ is the motto of most. But it is an enjoyment which, at the lowest, leaves God out of the matter. And in its highest form of evil, it finds its pleasure in what the Most High has forbid. Believers! let us seek our pleasure in pleasing God!
The last characteristic is much exhibited in our day. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.” A little religion, provided it do not make you strict and unworldly, is respectable. The power of piety is seen in its controlling tempers and conduct. But the exterior of religion alone is desired - a payment to God of the outside in [Page 73] worship: enough to lull conscience asleep, but not enough to lead to God in heart and soul. Hence the externals of religion are more and more thought of and exhibited. We have ‘restorations of churches,’ vestments, intoning, altars. Christianity is becoming more and more Judaized: and, in consequence, its effects on the character, in presenting the likeness to Christ, are becoming less and less. Still, as yet we cannot say that there is, in general, open denial of its right and title to affect the whole man.
“From such turn away.” Many are disposed to take these words, as if a Christian were justified in turning away from his brethren, where spiritual life has sunk into formality. But this is not the sense of the words; there must be beside, denial of the power, as well as the absence of it. And this picture is one, not of believers primarily; but of “men.” Though it is true, alas! that [also some regenerate and apostate] believers may greatly resemble the men of their times.
apostle then signalizes certain leaders in evil, who will make use of women in their resistance to the truth, and denial
of its power. These leaders must be possessed by some power supernatural; for their
opposition is compared to that of Pharaoh’s magicians, who opposed Moses with
force of miracle, although, at the end of the struggle, they were compelled
to own themselves vanquished by superior might.
The same conclusion is confirmed by the announcement, that “evil men and (magical) deceivers will wax worse and worse.” And the
prophecy is illustrated by the story of the Jewish exorcists of
Verses 10-13. Paul, instead of being popular, as the bearer of God’s message, was subjected to trouble of every kind, [from those “within” the Church, as well as from “them that are without,” (1 Cor. 5: 12, R.V.)] and in every city. Nor would he be alone in this. ‘All that are desirously to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’ Why is it that in this epistle the name of the Lord is twelve times given in the unusual order, ‘Christ Jesus,’ instead of Jesus Christ? and twelve times, also, in the first epistle? It is designed, I believe, thus to combat the error of the so called ‘Men of Intelligence,’ who divided ‘Jesus Christ’ into two persons, making ‘Jesus’ to be the mere man, son of Joseph and Mary; and the ‘Christ’ the mighty Spirit, who descended on Him at His baptism.
Verses 14-17. How, then, amidst such circumstances of increasing difficulty, can any maintain their ground? Must we not have recourse to an infallible Pope? or an infallible church?
Timothy was to hold fast the truth which he had learned already, for he had received it from men inspired of God for that purpose; and he had beheld the miracles wrought by them. Their spoken words then were inspired: but we are dependant now solely upon their written words.
Timothy from his very infancy had been made acquainted by his mother and grandmother with the Old Testament Scriptures. Here Paul by inspiration approves the practice of women and mothers teaching the Scriptures to their children from the earliest age. They are not something too sacred to be handled by such persons: they are not something permitted to the ‘clergy’ and to ‘priests’ alone. These Old Testament Scriptures viewed in the light of Christ could present truth sufficient for [eternal] salvation. Read by [Page 75] unbelief indeed they will not avail; but accepted by a believer in Christ, they speak of the Redeemer long expected. God designs that his people shall rest directly upon His own word. This was true even under the Law: much more in regard of his sons under the Gospel. When, then, some say - ‘You are so divided among yourselves, your testimonies differ so, we know not what to believe’ - we see in this the wisdom of God. If men believed doctrines upon the testimony of men alone, they would not possess divine faith. The Lord, then, sends us His Word, that we may rest upon His own testimony. When the Scriptures are taken away, divine faith soon dies out. Men believe ‘the priest:’ and the priest believes (if he believes at all) not God, but the ‘church.’ And ‘the church’ keeps out of sight the truths which save, and introduces errors which destroy.
have, then, here, the confirmation of Paul’s words at his taking leave of the
* * *
Inspiration Of Scripture.
AND now we come to a passage of the utmost moment in our epistle.
“ALL SCRITTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, AND IS PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, FOR REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT (COMPLETE) THOROUGHLY FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS.”
Who is the “man of God?” Doubtless each believer, as the analogy of the expression ‘Man of Belial,’ (or ‘wicked’ man) would prove.
This passage asserts the full inspiration of all Scripture. What then is inspiration? Dr. Johnson says it is - “Infusion of ideas into the mind by a supernatural power.” Webster in his dictionary says it is - “The supernatural influence of the Spirit of God on the human mind, by which prophets, apostles, and sacred writers were qualified to set forth divine truth without any mixture of error; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin.”
This is also the sense of the Greek word. “All Scripture is inbreathed by God.” But this statement finds little favour in our day. It obliges men to listen to its every word, too closely to be pleasant. The [Page 77] doctrine, then, of ‘the plenary inspiration of Scripture’ is denied on various grounds.
Many suppose, that there are degrees and varieties of inspiration.
Some would say:-
‘When the sacred writers were writing history, and were acquainted with all the facts of the case, nothing more was needed on the part of the Holy Spirit than to preserve them from error. When they were inditing [i.e., writing or composing] moral lessons, they needed only to have their minds elevated and invigorated. It was only, then, in regard of prophecy, or a foretelling of things beyond human ken that they needed to have both the ideas and the words directly given by God.’
Now this is a mistake which is rectified in an instant, when we look at the passage. The supposed explanation just given treats of the state of THE MIND OF THE INSPIRED WRITER; the passage itself affirms inspiration of THE SACRED WRITING.
All the Sacred Writings of the Old and New Testament were given by God’s inbreathing, or infusing. But every writing is made up of words. If, then, the writing be inspired, the whole of the words is inspired too.
We grant fully that the evangelist Luke, after becoming aware of all the facts of our Lord’s life, could have written a book devoid of error thereupon. But it would not be the book we have! It would not have been inspired. God would not have been the author of it. It would not have been perfectly fitted to direct us in our views of the Saviour, as it now is. Not every thing that happened to the Saviour, not everything He said or did, was designed to be communicated to His church. Without inspiration Luke would not have known what the facts to relate, what to omit. After Jesus had promised (for instance) that some of His disciples should see His kingdom before they died, six days elapsed. Doubtless many events occurred in [Page 78] those six days. But Luke, Matthew, Mark omit all notice of them.
Why? Because they were better omitted. They would have confused our ideas: they would have taken off our attention from the important connexion between the Saviour’s promise and the Transfiguration which was its fulfilment.
Men have looked at the Scriptures with merely human eyes; and have stumbled. They have expected, that if a life of Christ is to be given us, it should be done on human principles - events fully related in the order of time. But that was not God’s intent. Apostles do not relate all they saw: do not relate it in the order of time. John was one of the three witnesses of the Saviour’s first act of raising the dead in the house of Jairus. He was one of the three who beheld the Transfiguration. He was one of the three who beheld the Agony in the Garden. He does not mention one of these! Why not? Because they were not suited to the delineation of the Son of God, as given to him to indite.
Our Scripture narrative is infinitely superior to any life of Christ which could have been penned by man, even if it had been without flaw or error from beginning to end. Cannot the reader see the difference in a parallel case? Napoleon’s secretary (suppose) writes a life of him. He was present at most of the great events that befel him, and kept a journal, which he published. Napoleon reads it, and pronounces it free from error. Can we say then - ‘It is Napoleon’s book.’ It is not! It is the Secretary’s book, warranted true by Napoleon.
Suppose the secretary to be ignorant of warfare and of the great principles of statesmanship on which that conqueror acted, and every one feels how different a book would a life of Napoleon, written by himself, have been. There the military and political significance of his actings, - quite overlooked by the Secretary - would have appeared.
the inspired life of Christ which God has given, we have the main features in
their significance as they are viewed by God.
And Jesus’ life is presented from four different points of view. In Matthew
we have the Messiah of
The Scriptures are our standard of doctrine. The Scriptures assert themselves to be inspired. “I will raise up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him:” Deut. 18: 18. “I have given them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them:” John 17: 8. “Now we have received not the S[s]pirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost [Spirit] teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual:” 1 Cor. 2: 12, 13.
Scripture is our standard of doctrine; and Scripture* says it is inspired of God. But preservation from error, elevation, or invigoration of mind are not inspiration. Therefore modern theories about the Scripture are unsound. The Scripture gives “the oracles of God.” Now “oracles” were words supernaturally infused into the mind of the prophet, and uttered by him.
[* That is, the Holy Scriptures (as given in their original and initial writings) are flawless and impeccable: they are inspired by a God who cannot lie. Mr. Govett does not say translations of the Holy Scriptures (from Hebrew and Greek writings) are inspired of God! The accuracy of our English (or any other translation), depends upon a true understanding of the text by the translator or body of translators. - (e.g., see 2 Cor. 4: 4-6 as translated in the R. V. & N.I.V., and compare it with the A.V. translation) - and by a close examination of the context. Scripture truths must be understood and discovered by relative scriptural statements, made by Divine Prophets and God’s chosen Apostles! Compare Matt. 16: 26, 17: 1-9, R.V. with 2 Pet. 1: 16-19, R.V.
Many scriptural statements are being (willingly and unwillingly) ignored by Bible Teachers today! Hence the tremendous need for all regenerate believers to study (to be approved by God), and to be asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to divine truths. God’s responsibility and conditional truths, (as recorded for our instruction) are being ignored today! We (who are saved by His grace and redeemed by His blood) are in dire need of attaining a true understanding of what He has said (and is saying) to us form His Holy Book! Phil. 3: 15, 16. There are ‘Some Scriptures Hard of Hearing,’ which are being misunderstood by multitudes of regenerate believers, (because they are believed to be directed at someone other than ourselves)! See Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21; 1 Cor. 9: 24- 10: 13; Luke 19: 22-26; Rom. 13: 11. Cf. 1 Pet. 1: 5, 9, R.V., etc. Lord, forgive us our ignorance? – Ed.]
That the usual rendering of the passage is the true, and proved by the presence of that little word ‘and.’ As a reading it is surely established. How, then, will you translate it, introducing this word, but desiring to get rid of the present stringency and force of the passage? May we say - ‘All Scripture inspired by God is also useful?’ But that supposes, that the word ‘inspired’ is descriptive of ‘all Scripture.’ Then it will be, ‘All Scripture as it is inspired of God is also useful!’ [Page 80] But this affirms inspiration, as fully as the other rendering.
The Scripture, then, has various uses – To give the true knowledge of God to one destitute if ideas about Him. It is suited also to convince of sin and of judgment to come. It is adapted by the same hand to bring back from wrong conceptions of the things of God, one who has gone astray. It is given also to lead on the [regenerate] believer into practical righteousness. It shows him what God approves, and suggests motives powerful to prompt him to do it.
Bur human reason has found matter to crap at [i.e., exclude (or cut out) some] of the directions given in Scripture. ‘Was it worthy of God to give Timothy to drink a little wine?’
Oh yes! It was of the utmost moment; beside the direct benefit to Timothy himself. For God foresaw, and foretold, that the great abandonment of Christianity, which is near, will arise out of a doctrine asserting – that certain articles of food in common use are in themselves unclean; and not to be used by men to know the truth. Here, then, God teaches us, that the use of wine as a beverage is not wrong, but in many cases advisable.
‘But what say you to the direction? – “the cloke
[Page 81] that I left at
Yes, and full of instruction! When one, of an infidel turn of mind, objected this to a Christian clergyman, he replied - ‘I, at least, cannot account these words useless; since, but from them, I should have sold off all the volumes which you see on my shelves.’
In the direction, too, to bring the cloak, I find much profit. Does it not speak of our heart to find, that the Great God is not so engrossed with the great work of redemption, as to overlook the little troubles that befall His people? Does not this also teach us one source of Paul’s trial? In the cold, damp, narrow prison, with, probably, insufficient nourishment, the apostle needed thicker clothing than he had. The winter was coming on! And there was no fire in his cell! How, then, should he keep life within him, without the extra clothing which, in the warmth of summer, when free, he had left behind; but now was needing. And does it not tell us, also, sad tales of the neglect which the great apostle was suffering at the hands of Roman Christians! Not only they would not expose their lives to peril, when he stood before the terrible emperor; but they did not contribute to him even necessary clothing! But how patiently he bears it! While his own resources last, he will trouble none: complain of none. “Every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.” Thus, the great apostle is living in poverty and hardship up to the end! But how great the difference when the King of kings, in the [millennial] day to come, shall crown the faithful [overcoming] servant and sufferer, before His Father and His angels, with eternal [age-lasting] weight of glory.*
[* Here is a direct reference to Christ’s teaching shown in Matt. 16: 17-27.
Note the definite article ‘the’ (as used in verses 25 and 26) before the word ‘life’ or ‘soul’. This (according to the context), refers to ‘life’ after the time of resurrection in Messiah’s coming Kingdom. Verses 25-27 literally translated from the Greek it reads: “Whoever for my wish the life of him to save, shall lose; whoever shall lose the life of him on account of me, shall find. 26. What is a man profited if the whole world he may win, and the life of him he may forfeit? Or what shall a man give in exchange for the life of him? 27. For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of the Father of him, with the messengers (translated ‘angels’ in most English versions) of him, and then he will render to each one according to the behaviour of him:”
The definite article “the” (used before the words “life” and “glory” above), have direct reference to a believer’s reward for his/her good ‘behaviour.’ See Heb. 11: 26. cf. Rev. 22: 12, R.V. Therefore ‘the life’ (as shown above) has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘eternal life’ as the “free gift” of God (Rom. 6: 24, R.V.) - the ‘gift’ which all regenerate believers presently have: but it has everything to do with Christians receiving “a just recompense of reward;” and whether or not they will see “the glory” of Messiah (after His Second Advent) when it will be revealed throughout and upon this restored earth, (Hab. 2: 14; 1 Pet. 4: 13; Jude 24)! Compare Heb. 2: 2. with Prov. 11: 18, 19, R.V.). For future ‘reward’ see also Matt. 6: 6; 10: 41; 2 John 8; Rev. 22: 12, etc,.]
* * *
There is a considerable difficulty in regard to the opening verse of chapter four. Many are the various readings in the Greek, and late editors reject the reading followed by the Authorised Version [i.e., K.J.V.]. When that is settled, there is still a considerable difficulty with regard to the translation.
I am inclined to render it thus:-
“I continue to testify before Jesus, (who is both) God and Christ, (and) who is about to judge both the living and the dead, both his appearing and his kingdom.”
But others translate it thus:-
“I testify (to thee) before God and Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and dead, and (by) his appearing and kingdom, proclaim the word.”*
[* My readers might also want to see this reading, as shown in one of my Interlinear Translations:-
“I solemnly charge in presence of the God, and Jesus Anointed of that one being
about to judge living ones and dead ones, and the appearing of himself
and the kingdom of himself: 2. publish thou the word, …”]
appears to me that Jesus is, in this verse, described as both God and Christ:
and that it was in order to get rid of this testimony, that many of the various
readings were introduced. Then it runs parallel
with Eph. 5: 5. “No covetous man, who is an
idolater, hath any inheritance (lot) in the kingdom of the Christ and God.” Here the one
article shows that Jesus is at once Christ and God.
The two epithets [i.e., attributes expressing qualities found in both] are found in [the
book of] Timothy also, but in different order. It is [Page 83] worthy of notice that the most signal, and the most
disputed passages relative to the Deity of Christ, are found in writings
addressed to EPHESUS. There was the point, doubtless, where the
chief stress of the struggle was felt.
At this point, then, the Holy Ghost pointed his batteries. But several of them have been spiked. “Feed the
has restored a like reading, long lost, written by John at
Paul’s words, at this point, are especially solemn, as being in view of his own death and judgment at hand. All will be judged, either as “living” or “dead.” Some, indeed, deny that ‘judgment’ appertains to [regenerate] believers; and, in one sense, it is true. They are not set before the throne of Christ to be judged as foes, and condemned to [eternal] perdition. But they are to be judged as servants, and to have decided the question, whether they are worthy to enter the millennial kingdom, or no. Paul regarded not the opinion of his fellows now about his faithfulness, for “He that judgeth me is the Lord.” His decision belongs to another day: 1 Cor. 4: 1-5. See also Matt. 7: 1, 2; Luke 19: 22; Rom. 2: 16; Heb. 10: 30; Jas. 2: 12, 13; 1 Tim. 5: 24; 1 John 4: 17; Jas. 5: 9.
Jesus’ Deity is necessary to this judgment of men. None but One omniscient and perfect [impassable], could know and decide on the infinite variety of lives, or opportunities, and deserts. Jesus’ Christhood is also necessary; He only is to judge, who is appointed of God.
Jesus is coming again in glory. He will manifest Himself in His lustre, first to His disciples in secret, caught up in clouds to meet Him in His pavilion of cloud. After that, He shows Himself and His associates in glory in the sky; and the sight confounds and paralyzes His great Antagonist, the False Christ, Satan’s king: 2 Thess. 2.
This is His coming in person to reward His friends, and put down His foes. The kingdom, then, which follows upon it, is a future and personal kingdom: Matt. 24 & 25; Luke 19: 11-27. By means of the first resurrection, His saints are called to partake of it with Him. Thus Paul re-asserts the important doctrine which, as he intimated, was then denied.
coming and [millennial]
Timothy was to be constant and courageous. Others were yielding through cowardice. Timothy was to go forward, sustained by the hope and [by divine] power which helped Paul. For the great apostle’s work was done; he was about to be borne off the field. Timothy was to tread in Paul’s steps, on view of the crown held out to such.
“For I am already being poured out, and the season of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith! Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall award me in that day, the Righteous Judge! But not to me only, but to all them also who shall have loved his appearing.”
Here are manifest allusions to the apostle’s speedy and violent death. In his first imprisonment he anticipated release, and obtained it. But now he expects death; and as Ecclesiastical history informs us, he was beheaded by the sword. This would cause the outflow of all his blood. He compares himself, therefore, to a sacrifice: either to the drink-offering of wine, or to the blood of the animal which was poured out at the foot of the altar: Ex. 29: 12; Lev. 8: 15; 9: 9. Jesus is the only sacrifice of atonement.. But the martyrs are sacrifices of devotion. They are accepted of God, as we see in the case of the souls under the altar: Rev. 6.* Paul was about to depart from this world. Probably, in the Greek word employed, there is a reference [Page 86] to the loosing of the mooring-rope, when the vessel was about to sail. Death is not the soul’s annihilation: it is only the change of place.
[*NOTE. Here is a reference to Rev. 6: 9-11. This is a biblical description of the intermediate place and state of disembodied souls “in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12: 40)! This place, - (named “Sheol” in Hebrew O.T. Scriptures, Gen. 39: 35b; Ps. 16: 10) is synonymous with “Hades,” - a Greek rendering from the Septuagint. See Acts 2: 27, 31, R.V. This early Greek translation, derives its name “from the Latin septuaginta, meaning ‘seventy’, and frequently referred to by Roman Numerals LXX” The translation is believed to have been produced “during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.)”: and “at the time of our Lord’s birth it was the common form in which the Old Testament Scriptures had become diffused.”
The place, (described by the words “Sheol” = “Hades”), is not the same as that known as, “the lake of fire,” (Rev. 20: 15, R.V.): the latter being reserved for those “not found written in the book of life” - where they will be “cast” after our Lord’s millennium, and after their resurrection, (Rev. 20: 5, 15, R.V.).
By comparing Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16: 29-31 R.V. & N.I.V., with Peter’s (on the day of Pentecost, forty days after His post-resurrection ministry; and therefore ten days after His ascension into heaven: Acts 2: 27, 34, R.V.) - we begin the understand the vast importance of the outcome of the Christians’ judgment after Death. “It awaits men to die once, but after this a judgment” Heb. 9: 27! (Greek) The question then will be: “Who, amongst the redeemed family of God, will be “accounted worthy to obtain the age, and of the resurrection - that out of dead ones:” Luke 20: 35? (Greek).]
strongly Paul’s confidence shines out here!
The old warrior is putting off his armour; the field is won! He had fought the good fight. His General was calling him away. Other fights are evil; springing out of the
lusts of the flesh. This is God’s war,
to which He calls His [regenerate] people. The
[*NOTE. It may be of interest for readers to know that this chapter
was being prepared for the website when the 2016 Olympics were taking place in
He was probably well briefed in the art of spiritualizing God’s unfulfilled prophecies (in one of the many Anti-millennialist Bible Colleges where his initial training and qualification had taken place)! When stating the “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” was Heaven, he completely ignored the immediate context! Therefore, in his opinion God’s “free gift” (Rom. 8: 23, R.V.) and the “Prize” (Phil. 3: 14), - which Paul hoped to attain are synonymous! May God forgive us our ignorance, and for not asking Him for a correct understanding of His unfulfilled prophetic word! – Ed.]
“I have finished the course.” Not ‘my course.’ The illusion is to the foot race in the Grecian games; the [rules and] length of the course was decided, not by the racer, but by the masters of the games. Paul’s course was decided for him by God; and it was now near the end, and the crown of reward was his.
had kept the crown entrusted to him to promulgate, when others had faltered and
turned aside. He had observed its
principles and practice in his own person.
As a steward he was faithful; keeping back nought
profitable from his hearers. He had not
adulterated the pure word of God by admixture of his own. He had guarded the sacred [responsibility] truths
committed to him against [criticisms and] assaults of all kinds; from within [the
Hence he looks forward with confidence to the [millennial] day of reward. His eye is not on “the evil day,” with all its trouble, disappointments and death close at hand; but on the better day of joy, when Jesus shall take the kingdom, and give thrones and crowns to his faithful servants. How important is this doctrine then in our days! and in the dark ones close at hand!
This his tone about reward differs now greatly from [Page 87] what had been previously. In his first letter to the Corinthians he had compared himself to the racer in training. He kept under his body, and brought it under subjection; lest having acted as the herald to others, he himself should be adjudged unworthy of reward: 1 Cor. 9. Writing after that to the Philippians, he tells them of his desire at any cost, to obtain a part in the first and blest resurrection. He was not confident that his place therein was secure; though others were confident in him. But, like the racer, he looked not backward, at what he had done, surrendered, suffered; but forward to what yet remained to be done. The goal and the crown were what he was racing after. And this attitude of the soul, this prize of our calling he would recommend to all who were right in their standing in Christ: Phil. 3: 10-15. But now that his course is just finished he takes up the tone of the full assurance of hope which he recommends us to seek: Heb. 6: 11, 12.*
* This differs entirely from “the full assurance of faith,” which rests upon God’s provision for us in Christ: Heb. 10: 22. That is the portion of every believer at once, on his faith [in Christ Jesus as Saviour for eternal life and eternal salvation: Rom. 6: 23; Acts 16: 31.].
he drew nearer to the goal, his confidence of reward, and of entry into the
millennial kingdom, grew stronger. “The crown of righteousness,” due to his steadfastness, courage, grace, would not be withheld by the Righteous Judge in the day [of
The emperor of
[* Read Heb. 9: 27, 28 and 1 Pet. 1: 3-11in the Revised Version.
When we compare God’s future judgment of His saints after death, (and therefore before their resurrection, Heb. 9: 27) - with the divine promise of a future “salvation of souls,” “ready to be revealed in the last time” (verses 9 & 5 in Peter’s epistle): we have before us a picture of the overcomers’ resurrection unto “life” (Rev. 2: 25-27; 3: 21) and “reward” : Moses, the prophet of God, will be included, (Luke 13: 28, cf. Heb. 11: 24-28, R.V.); and will enjoy the “inheritance” of the saints during “the thousand years” (Eph. 5: 5; Rev. 20: 4-6) of Messiah’s righteous rule, upon “the throne of his father David” (Luke 1: 32, R.V.); when God’s curse upon this groaning creation (because of Adam’s sin), “shall be delivered: (Gen. 3: 17. cf. Rom. 8: 21, R.V.).]
‘But are not these ideas about desert inconsistent with true views of salvation of sinners by grace?’
No, timid brother, no! The Scripture speaks of reward according to works, as well as of salvation by grace: Luke 6: 23, 35; 1 Cor. 3: 8; Rev. 22: 12. And we should [believe and] hold both truths. There is not the shadow of opposition between the two views. They respect different objects. Eternal life is the gift of God to faith, and by grace: Rom. 6: 23. But [life after Death, and Resurrection before the establishment of] the millennial kingdom is a prize to be won by the men [and women] who are already justified by faith. We are again and again taught to seek the reward God will give: we are continually instructed, that the reaping will be as the sowing. Abraham is our pattern herein. He was justified at first by faith: Gen. 15. He is justified at the close by works;* when [and after] he had offered Isaac his son on the altar: Gen. 22. Then the never-to-be-recalled oath of God goes forth on his behalf. [“By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee” … “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice:” (Gen. 16, 17a … 18, R.V.). Only during our Lord’s millennial reign, will this divine prophecy be literally fulfilled.]
[* James 2: 20-24.
Those who rightly believe God’s scriptural doctrine of being “justified by faith” (Rom. 5: 1, R.V.) alone - (on the basis of our Saviour’s obedience and works); but have no desire to go any further - (in seeking “justification by works” at the Judgment Seat of Christ) - are unable to accept the fact that God is now looking for our good works, and our active faith, - that we “may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God” (2 Thess. 1: 5. cf. Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21; Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5, etc., R.V.]
Thus our apostle re-affirms, in view of death and judgment, the truth of the first resurrection, and the millennial kingdom of glory on which that resurrection opens. Let those who dare, dare it! It Paul it was the stimulus to exertion; his consolation amidst [Christian apostasy and] desertion. How different this temper of confidence in Paul to the doubtfulness felt by John the Baptist under such nearness of death! And can we not see the reason of the difference? John could not understand, why Jesus stepped not forward with sharp axe, at once to hew down the trees of evil fruit, and to deliver himself from Herod’s impending sword. But Paul beheld the resurrection and ascent of Jesus, and saw that what God has destined for His heralds; not deliverance in the evil day [or age]; but resurrection and reward in the good day [during ‘the age to come’], and in a [immortal] body* that never shall faint or fail.
[* Of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24: 39, R.V.); like that of our resurrected Lord Jesus.]
Yet lest we should faint, and think this prize too high to be attained by us, who come so far short of Paul’s [God-given] grace, he adds, that the crown is open to all [Page 89] those who believe in Jesus’ appearing and love it. The Lord give us to desire His coming, kingdom, and [manifested, (Habakkuk 2: 14. cf. Zechariah 6: 12b, 13, R.V.),] glory!
The chief thought of this Epistle is not the Church as the body of Christ, grace and privilege, the result of the counsels of God. It is not so much the One Body, and conduct suited to the day of patience, as it is individual responsibility [of those who are eternally saved], and our actions of this day [of testing and trial] as they stand related to the “age” to come.*
[* See Luke 20: 35, R.V. & N.I.V. and compare with Hebrews 6: 4-6, R.V. & N.I.V.]
other epistles of Paul we may see the troubles introduced by Jewish teachers,
and the nation of
But in this Epistle we find Paul struggling with difficulties in the way of doctrine and of action, arising out of Gentile agency and Gentile speculation. He is called to contend with Gentile philosophy making void the Gospel of God; and with Gentile power, suspicious of treason in his proclamation of the [coming millennial] kingdom of the Son of Man. The fourth empire was now exerting its power against the Church - the witness of a better kingdom [on this earth, yet] to come. But Paul sustained the shock of the [present and evil,] earthly kingdom of man, by faith in the heavenly kingdom* of glory and of God. He was lover of the age and of the kingdom to come – not drawn aside by the smiles of the evil age, nor aghast at its threats.
[* Note. This is not faith in a kingdom in heaven! It is described as a ‘heavenly kingdom of glory and of God,’ because the Lord (of both Heaven and Earth), will then have descended to be bodily present upon this earth. 1 Thess 4: 16; Luke 22: 28-30; Rev. 2: 25-27; 3: 21, R.V. etc.]
The characteristic differences are well seen where the Epistle to the Ephesians and the 2nd of Timothy touch upon the history of the apostle. In Ephesians his note is struck on the exceeding grace of God to himself in this day of mystery: Eph. 3: 1-8. In this last Epistle he treats of reward to himself according to [his] works in the [millennial] day of manifestation to come. In Ephesians he tells of the warfare of the evil day, and of the armour and strength in which it is to be met [and put on]. In this last Epistle, which he exhibits some of the wounded lying on the field of battle, we have yet, at the close, the victors and their reward.
[Responsibility] Truth will be disliked and set aside [by multitudes of ignorant Christians] in the latter day: and foolish speculations of men - [from the inside, as well as on the outside of God’s regenerate Church] - will take the place of the true and solid Word of God. Let us forewarned, be forearmed! And may the grace of our God bring us safely to the resurrection of the just, and the kingdom of the [His obedient and repentant] saints!