I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT.
Edited from writings by
JAMES CHRISTOPHER SMITH.
THE expression at the head of this article is peculiar to and characteristic of the apostle Paul. It is found in his letters, and nowhere else in the New Testament. It is evidently a form of special emphasis calling attention to truths of deep importance.
There is a resurrection fulness about it, too, inasmuch as it occurs just eight times.
It may be mentioned, also, that there are two varieties of the expression observable, namely, twice it occurs in the positive form, I wish you to know; and, once the Apostle associates another with him (namely Timothy), and uses the plural, We would not have you ignorant. But these varieties add nothing to its significance: and so we must regard it as conveying a strong desire on the part of Paul that those to whom he writes should know, should understand, the spiritual importance of the truths set forth or introduced by it.
The expression will be found in the following places:
(1) Romans 1: 13.
(2) Romans 11: 25
(3) 1 Corinthians 10: 1.
(4) 1 Corinthians 11: 3.
(5) 1 Corinthians 12: 1.
(6) 2 Corinthians 1: 8.
(7) Colossians 2: 1.
(8) 1 Thessalonians 4: 13.
In that canonical order we shall refer to them.
(1) Romans 1: 13.
The paragraph of which verse 13 is a part begins with verse 8 and ends with verse 17. It begins with experimental faith (verse 8), and ends with justifying faith (verse 17), while in the middle we find comforting faith (verse 12).
The called apostle is writing to called saints, and the supreme subject of the epistle is
THE GOSPEL OF GOD (1-7);
but in this paragraph it is the Gospel of His Son (verse 9), or simply the Gospel (verse 16), and the faith which links us with it.
These are the dominating subjects ; but, in this framework, the most prominent thing is
THE HEART OF THE APOSTLE,
which is but a reflection of the heart of Christ. As the Epistle proceeds there is ample proof of the Apostles masterly intellect, but here it is his fervent heart that is so tenderly manifested.
He thanks God for the faith that was a matter of world-wide report (verse 8); he prays unceasingly for these called saints at Rome (verse 9); he longs to see them that he may impart spiritual gift and gather spiritual fruit (verses 11-13); he requests of God a prosperous journey for the fulfilment of these heart longings (verse 10) when he should arrive among them.
And now, in the midst of these outgoings of his hearts affection, observe, he brings in a deeper thing (his purpose), and states why he had not seen them sooner: and that brings us to the verse with which we have at present to do. It reads thus,
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come to you (but was up till now hindered), that I might have sonic fruit among you also, as among other nations.
What was there so commandingly pressing about this purpose? Why was it that the Apostle so specially wished these saints to know that he had often purposed visiting them, and was hitherto hindered?
By way of an answer we must note
THE EXTENT OF THE PURPOSE.
When we compare chapter 15: 22-29, we find that his plan included
Furthermore, we learn that, in the
Apostles plan, the way to
All this was included in Pauls purpose. He had often wished to see it carried out.
How pathetic it is to look at the Apostle, with the marks of
labours, age, and years upon him, requesting God to grant him a prosperous
How little do we know, when we make such requests, how our God will answer them! See how He answered this request. Was it what Paul meant by a prosperous journey? Read the 27th. and 28th. Chapters of Acts for the answer.
If Jewish mobs, and riots, and rough handling, and forced flight, and law-courts, and imprisonment, and sea voyages, and sea-storms, and days of gloom, and protracted fasting, and threatenings, and loss of goods, and shipwreck, and soaking rain, and dangerous serpents and soldier-guards, and iron chains, and loss of personal liberty - if these are the things which we usually associate with prayers for journeys, then truly Pauls journey was most prosperous! But through all these things he went, and out of them all the Lord delivered him. In spite of them, aye and by means of them, his prayer was answered and his plan was carried out.
Satan did his worst, but in spite of it all Paul came to
NOW AT LENGTH.
Oftentimes he purposed, but was hindered. What hindered him? Many things: many persons. Abundant labours; care of all the assemblies; treacherous Judaizers; satanic wiles; yes, and above all, the
This is what he wanted the saints to know. His work in the East was done. He says so, in Romans 15: 22, 23 - words of memorable import: Wherefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you;
having no more any place in
these regions, and having
these many years a longing to come unto you I will go on by you unto
The Jewish people were hurrying to their earthly doom. Wrath to the uttermost was settling down on them. The Judaizers were determined not to follow on to know the Lord in the liberty of Pauls Gospel. In the face of all this, God was to do a new thing, even the unfolding of another part of
His MANIFOLD WISDOM.
The Dispensational moment had arrived when the combined truth of the Great Secret, the One Body and the Unity of the Spirit, was to have a definite exposition in inspired writings. And this great Dispensational event was happily brought to pass, in the writing of the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians and the Colossians, by Paul, as
THE PRISONER OF THE LORD!
How the events connected with his visit to
A pleasant road or a smooth voyage would not have answered the purpose; but the tumult and the torture and the tension of the events, as they transpired, were like graving tools writing deep on the mind and memory of the Apostle how he was cut away and separated from the old centre of a system which was waxing old and was
It was concerning these and associated
truths that the Apostle wrote, to the beloved of God at
I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT.
May the members of the Body, to-day, have grace given by which they will hear these words, which the Holy Spirit teacheth, unto their own
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT.
IN the order already named, we come now to
Romans 11: 25.
For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery [Gk. Secret] (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
It is no wonder that the Spirit of Truth led Paul to write thus; for we are confronted with the sad fact that most Christian people are either quite ignorant of the dispensational significance of THIS SECRET or, not quite ignorant, quite unwilling to look into it and listen to its voice. Would that we could say something to arouse and arrest the attention of Gods children to the importance of these truths and so recover some from the course of this age!
Here is something saints ought to know. It was a secret, but now it is an open secret.
The Apostle is writing in view of his visit to
It is surely significant, too, that the word mystery (so important in Pauls writings) does not occur in the Acts. Let the reader seek to find out the bearing of this fact: it will be a good lesson in the knowledge of Dispensational Truth.
Concentrating our attention, now, on the verse above quoted and its context, let us mark the following points:-
First, we must note that the words occur in that section of Romans embracing chapters nine, ten and eleven, where we have definite and most lucid teaching on the relation, dispensationally, between
The appeal, here, is to the Nations, as Paul says,
For I speak to you Nations [Gk. Gentiles], inasmuch as I am the Apostle of the [Gentiles] Nations, I magnify my office (11: 13).
Most Christians believe that during this present period of grace, and gospel preaching Israel is simply swallowed up and lost sight of: yes, and that God has no more any purpose to fulfil in Israel as a separate people.
Not so the teaching here.
On the contrary: the fact clearly emerges that the aberration, on the
At the worst (and it has now come to the worst), there is a remnant according to the election of Grace: and the remnant is being preserved (still not counted among the nations), ready, at Gods time, to fulfil His purposes and bring to nought the proud imaginings of the peoples of the world.
In the meantime the nations [or Gentiles] have their day of
salvation, that they may glorify God for His mercy
- the marvellous mercy that has come to them in connection with
Secondly, we must note the symbol used to impress this teaching. It is the botanical symbol of the olive tree. The use of that emblem here (and no other) shows the perfection of the Word of God.
It is not the vine tree nor the fig tree but it is the olive tree. These are the three
great symbols of
The vine is
The fig is
The olive is
The nations are not wild vines, or wild figs, but they are wild olives; and by means of this striking emblem
the Nations are taught their indebtedness to Israel: and not only so, but they
are also taught the issues of the present mystic relation between Israel and
the Nations. Salvation is of the Jews, said Our
Lord. It is profoundly true. The Apostle, here, says the same thing: through their
fall, salvation is come to the Nations, to provoke them to jealousy.
Whatever the Nations know of the Word of God, the Christ of God, or the
Salvation of God, it is a knowledge that came, in the first instance, through the channel of
The olive tree serves at least five purposes:-
1st. Beauty. Its silvery leaves are lovely to behold.
2nd. Health. Its oil is the great healing medium.
3rd. Light. Its oil is used to fill the lamps.
4th., Anointing. Its fatness was used to anoint Kings and Priests.
5th., Food. The berry and the oil entered into many forms of human dietary.
In the Millennial Day,
Thirdly, to more fully understand this secret of
Fulness of the Nations.
With the latter expression we must compare Christs words, in Luke 21: 24: They shall be led captive into all the nations and
Seasons of Nations,
is the limit of the oppression of the City; but here, the
thought covers the People and extends to the emancipation of the whole nation,
because it immediately adds, And so all
Until the fulness of the nations be come in.
What does this mean?
Manifestly the one expression must help to explain the other. So we ask, what does the fulness of
Let the reader put aside preconception and honestly consider this.
Paul is writing to Christians, here, but he is not writing about them; he is writing about
Nations can be (and shall be) cut off, but saints of God cannot be cut
off. Hence we conclude that the fulness
of the nations coming in does not mean the conversion of the nations, no more than does the fulness of
The latter expression stands in contrast to diminishing which is loss in numbers and national completeness; and so the former expression stands for the coming in of the complete number of the nations as privileged to bear this new testimony of Gospel Grace.
In this [evil] age, the nations are separated for gospel testimony: they have this great privilege and, of course, [each person today has] a corresponding responsibility. Hence, the Apostle says directly to them, (not to [all within] the Church) Be not high-minded, but fear (verses 20, 21).
The One Body is being formed by the regeneration of
individuals from among the nations and by the baptism of the Spirit; but the
nations are placed by God under the preaching of Pauls gospel - made known to
all nations for the obedience of faith - in connection with the mystery of
1 This is why Paul so earnestly wishes all Christians to know these things and not be ignorant of this mystery.
Rapidly the nations are coming under the sweep of the testimony; rapidly the seasons of nations are being fulfilled; rapidly we see Israels fulness taking shape; but inside of all these movements there is the deeper and greater secret of the Unity of the Spirit, and at any moment it may be finished.
Then will come
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU
THE next instance of the above expression is found in
(1). 1 Corinthians 10: 1.
The passage might be somewhat literally and freely rendered as follows:-
For, I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the shelter of the cloud; and all went through the sea; and all were identified with Moses [or separated unto the leadership of Moses] by the cloud and by the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from a spiritual rock, following - and the rock was the Anointed One, [the Messiah]. But with the most part of' them God was not well pleased; for a catastrophe happened to them in the Wilderness.
Here is most solemn teaching, to which we do well to give earnest heed.
To many readers the chief point of the passage is missed because of chapter 10 beginning where it does. The connection is thereby broken. All the chief Greek Texts have for instead of moreover thus linking the teaching with what had preceded.
The Apostle had been writing searching things about the Stadium and the racers; about the Arena and the boxers; and, applying these things to the Christian life, he points out the necessity of strenuous running and hard hitting if the full reward of service is to be secured, and the prize enjoyed. And so he says, I hit hard and straight at my own body and lead it off into slavery lest, after I have been a herald to others, I should myself be disapproved, (for the prize).
Then, finding a solemn illustration of the principle, thus set
forth, in the history of his own nation of
For, I do not wish you to be ignorant that all our fathers, etc.
The connection is thus clear; and when it is added, in 10: 6, that these things came to pass as types of us, to the end that we should not lust after evil things as they lusted, the teaching becomes most searching and separating.
With such things before his mind, small wonder that Paul should wish them (and us) to know, and mark, and understand the significance of these facts.
The passage, as a whole, takes us back to the scene of the wanderings during forty years - a period full of typical and prophetic teaching.
The key is found in the words of the Apostle, twice told, that these things happened as types of us, verse 6 and verse 11, in the latter verse adding that they were written for the admonition of us unto whom the ends (or typical applications or lessons) of the ages have come.
The things happened: and Israel knew their historic reality; but they not only happened, they have been written, and written in the Word of God, and thus have come down to us bearing their precious messages both of goodness and severity.
Perhaps the teaching will be clearer if we point out the contrast in the passage and make an analysis.
1st. THE CONTRAST
The contrast appears in the expressions all our fathers and the most of them. (See verse 1, etc., and verse 5). The word all is repeated five times; and these repetitions mark the matters of privilege belonging to the WHOLE NATION.
All were under the Cloud.
All passed through the Sea.
All were baptized unto Moses.
All ate the same spiritual Meat.
All drank the same spiritual Drink.
These were great and astonishing blessings, and every member of the nation, without exception, enjoyed them.
But now comes the contrast.
The Apostle says: But God was not well pleased with the most of them. [The Greek word used means more than many; it means the major part,
the most]. We all know what
this refers to. On account of the
unbelief and rebellion manifested at Kadesh-Barnea, the generation that came
The book of Deuteronomy is the record of the fulfilment of this awful sentence. The book begins with the Kadesh-barnea apostasy, and ends with the forty year period.
The whole nation that came out of
The true Pilgrimage was between
What an unspeakably solemn lesson lies here for us to learn.
Privilege in itself does not secure the desired destiny. In Israel we see a whole generation (save two men) excluded from entering the land, excluded from the Conquest, excluded from their Inheritance, notwithstanding the fact that they had been sharers in the most marvellous privileges.
Granted that this is national, earthly, physical all true; but it is equally true that the things are written for the admonition of us to whom the heritage of the teaching of these Old Testament ages has come. And with a clear and loud voice these types of us speak to us. Let us not turn away our ears.
It is not a matter of Grace failing, or the Divine Promises failing, or the Better Resurrection failing, or the Second Advent of Messiah failing, or the High Calling of God failing - banished be the thought that these ever will or can fail, for eternal Salvation is ever and utterly by Grace alone; but let us face the fact abundantly taught in the Scriptures of Truth that, unless we live worthy of our calling, unless we walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, some loss will be sustained, some reward will be forfeited, some future glory not gained.
Our eternal Salvation and Sonship are inseparable and unalterable.
Our Service and a just recompense of reward are equally so.
And this, too, within the sphere of the membership of the Body and the Destiny awaiting us. The fantastic notion that the unworthy lives, the un-separated conduct of some members of the Body, cannot cause them to forfeit the coming Kingdom may be set aside at once: and we cannot de-dispensationalise ourselves: but, - (in the out-resurrection out from the dead, Phil. 3: 11, which the Apostle Paul hoped to attain) - belongs to the members of Christ; and one star will differ from another in glory; and every ones reward will be according to his own labour and faithfulness.
It is so, and must be so, in every distinctive Age, unfolding Gods standards for measuring the character and testing the conduct of His servants.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
2nd. AN ANALYSIS
Now, briefly, let us analyse the statement of privileges in verses 1-4, and see how these types of us tell their secret.
We have pointed already to the fivefold repetition of the word all. With each one of these there is associated some distinctive privilege, some signal indication of Jehovahs favour and smile.
The first that is named is the Cloud.
The second the Sea.
The third Moses.
The fourth the Manna.
The fifth the Water.
What wonderful blessings are these! What signs and signals of Gods merciful
provision! How suitable. How sufficient. What they literally and visibly were to
(1) The Cloud.
The cloud over
[* See The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit by G. H. Lang.]
The Godhead is in us to guard and to guide!
(2) The Sea.
The sea to
Moses was leader, as a servant, but our leader is Gods only begotten Son. He stands for something infinitely higher, and we are baptized by one Spirit into Him, identified with Him in all His varied glories and expectancies.
This, of course, refers to the miraculously given Manna, the
corn of heaven, angels food. It was
provided, and was sufficient for
But Christ the true bread, the bread of life, the bread of God, does not cease, and He is, ever, more than sufficient to satisfy and feed and sustain - the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. (See, specially, John 6).
The water from the smitten rock, again miraculously given, was but the visible sign or type of the living water that comes from the stricken Son of God to us.
Spiritual food and spiritual drink were behind the visible tangible symbols. Christ Himself pointed the lesson when He said to the woman at the well, the water that I shall give him shall be in him a fountain of water springing up unto eternal life.
Much more might be written, but space forbids; perhaps enough has been said to show that Paul had good reason to urge that we should not be ignorant of these precious and powerful teachings.
The one thing more, important to note, is that all the five privileges, above named, came into the life of the Nation between Egypt and Kadesh-barnea, showing that these are true symbols of true pilgrimage, suggestive of permanent spiritual realities.
The number five is the number of grace. All was Gods gift, in the types; and all is of grace with us!
Sovereign grace over sin abounding,
Ransomed souls the tidings swell;
Tis a deep that knows no sounding,
Who its length and breadth can tell?
On Messiahs coming glories,*
Let my soul for ever dwell.
* Habakkuk 2: 14.
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE
We come now to the fourth passage, in order, namely:-
1 Corinthians 11: 3.
It is one of the instances where the language is in the positive form. In Greens Twofold New Testament, the translation is given thus:-
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a woman is the man, and a head of Christ is God.
There must be some purpose of truth in the way the article is used here. It would be correct (even more correct) to transpose the clauses of the verse, on the principle that the definite article signalises the subject of the clause of the sentence. Accordingly it might be rendered: But I wish you to know, that the Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of woman, and God is head of the Christ.
It is a climatic statement: the clauses are built up to a climax (Compare John 1: 1). The doctrine is the doctrine of Headship and calls up the Puritan preaching of Federal Relationship. The relations, as here stated, are:-
Woman and Man:
Man and Christ:
Christ and God.
The one relation (any one of them) helps to explain the others. Christ, here, is used as the Mediatorial name: the man Christ Jesus: He has entered into that relation, and hence, in it, God is His Head, and God is His God. He is the Mediator-Servant as well as the Only-begotten Son.
It is necessary to make this exegetical statement in order that we may have a true foundation for what is to follow.
What then is there about this teaching to make the Apostle specially wish that we should know it? In reply, there is this to be said, at once, that we have to do, here, with the very constitution of things, both Natural and Spiritual.
The fabric of the universe and, equally, the ways (or plans) of mediatorial Redemption are built upon the principle of
Hence, Gods final purpose is to head up all things in (or arrange all things under the Headship of) Christ, the One Mediator. This is a great subject; but we must not allow its farther reaches to draw us away from the statement before us.
In 1st. Corinthians, the Apostle deals with a series subjects affecting the life and work of the believers.
In the first four chapters he treats of human Philosophy, and Faction
in the Assembly. In chapter 5 he deals with the question of
Immorality and Excommunication. In chapter 6 the matter of Litigation is set in its true Christian light: and in chapter 7 the relation of the Sexes, and of
Parents to children, is delicately and lucidly handled. In chapter 8 the relation of believers to Heathen customs and rites is
cleared up: and in chapter 9 the obligation of believers to support a spiritual Ministry is cogently
set forth. In chapter 10 the illustration of
Then, in chapter 12 to chapter 14 the important subject of Spiritual Gifts is dealt with, including manifestations of the Spirits diversified ministry: also, miracles, signs, tongues, prophesyings, - oneness of the Body, the ministry of women, and, above all, the more excellent way of Love. And finally in chapter 15 there is the fullest and most convincing statement, anywhere to be found, on the great subject of Resurrection.
After all this, we are reminded that this Ministry of the Truth in the church and in the world calls for consecrated gold and silver, and so come the significant words,
Now Concerning the Collection!
The reader will now see wherabout, in this series of topics, the subject comes in, with which we are at present concerned.
Let us try to get at the heart of its message.
Mostly, in this Epistle, the Apostle had to blame and correct, but here, for once, he has occasion to praise, as he says in 11: 2, Now I praise you that in all things you remember me, and you hold fast the matters delivered as I have delivered (them) to you: referring, of course, to the teaching and the truth committed to them. The word ordinances here, as we now use it, is quite misleading.
That word of praise being written, he proceeds to state the lofty words of teaching in verse 3, as a heading to the paragraph (3-6), and as truth to be applied to the matter expounded therein.
What is that matter? The matter of the relation of woman to man and man to woman and the relation of both to Christ and to God.
Is that a trivial topic? Far from it. It is part of Gods order and must be held fast.
When we mark the blasphemies of both men and women, on this subject, in this our day, it is time to let the voice of God be heard. In the loose and lawless talk, in many quarters, God is not taken into account - and Gods order is not recognized. There is an assumption that this order can be improved upon; and thus the enemy of our race, as at the first, leads men and women on to the inevitable consequences of the disruption of Gods laws.
The penetrating and perspicuous way in which Paul is led to deal with these deep-lying relationships was only possible, even to him, when his mind was illuminated by the far-reaching truth of Headship. In this matter we need to cast down imaginations and hold to (and be held by) the truth of God.
This passage is the truth for this moment.
The time has come when we need to say out loud and with great emphasis that the best thing for woman, the best thing for man, the best thing for angels is to glorify God in the position He has assigned to each, respectively, in the universal order. Any departure or apostasy from this order involves disaster.
Man is womans head: and woman is mans glory. Mans headship is a reflection of Christs headship, of Gods headship: not a headship to be used as an autocrat or an animal would use it, but a sacred position of responsibility and guardianship - a ministry of love and sacrifice and service. This is how Christ exercises His headship toward us. It involves, of course, governmental rule in its own sphere, but that, again, is to be exercised in knowledge, justice and mercy.
On the other hand, if woman has no headship she has something equally precious: she is mans glory; mans complement in Gods order; a position, not of servitude or unwilling subordination, but a position calling forth the tenderest affection and a ministry of sacrifice fulfilling the highest ends; just as Christ, in His subordination to God, sacrifices Himself for us.
Pauls reference to the sign of authority on womans head has in view oriental custom, but whatever the custom may be, east or west, north or south, the fact conveyed is the same, and abides. The reference to the angels in verse 10 can only be understood when the teaching as to womans position in Gods order is understood. Angels, like woman, have no headship; but the position assigned to them is used for loyal unceasing and joyful service.
For woman, then, to depart from her position of being mans glory, mans complement, mans companion, is to leave her own highest glory; it is to scandalise unfallen angels; and it is to act like the angels that fell from (and left their proper sphere in) Gods universal order.
These deep and solemn teachings will have no terror to men and women who, like Christ, gird themselves with humility to serve one another.
On the contrary, they will gladly enter into the meaning of the relationship and seek by grace and mercy to give expression to it, filling a small portion of a mighty plan of Government and Grace embracing in its sweep the whole Creation of God!
Truly Paul had good reason to write that he wished us to know that
Christ is the head of every man; that the man is head of woman; that God is the head of Christ.
The truth that Christ is head of every man (man as such, saint or sinner) is one of His regal prerogatives as the Mediator and will be asserted and seen in the manifested sovereignties of the future as it cannot be seen at present.
Meantime we bear witness to it and wait to see how
THE DAY SHALL DECLARE IT.
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE
It seems to imply a peculiar urgency behind 1st. Corinthians when we find this expression of emphasis, I would not have you ignorant, used to introduce three different subjects dealt with in the Epistle. Perhaps we shall see and feel this urgency when we dwell a little on the next reference, in order, namely,
1 Corinthians, 12: 1.
Now concerning the spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant. You know that when you were heathen you were being led away to voiceless idols as you happened to be led. Wherefore, I give you to understand that no one speaking by Gods Spirit says JESUS IS ANATHEMA: and no one is able to say, JESUS IS LORD, unless by holy spirit.
Thus solemnly we are introduced to the subject of Spiritual Gifts, a subject which is agitating and dividing Christian people at the present time and therefore needs careful attention.
That the Apostle realised its importance and saw the wrong uses that men were liable to make of it is evident from the fact that he devotes to it three whole chapters of this Epistle, namely chapters 12, 13, and 14.
A full treatment of the various points raised cannot be attempted here; but there are certain considerations of fact which must enter into our reckoning if we are to be guided to true Scriptural and Dispensational conclusions.
And first, it is notable that the Apostle has no mandate from the Lord to order or command that these gifts, not even those that were being misused, should summarily cease. It would not have been surprising if it had been so, for enough is said to show that these things are not of the essence of Christianity: and, as we know from later Scripture, they are no part at all of the Great Secret, the Unity of the Spirit, the One Body. But the due time for their cessation had not yet come, and accordingly there is no sudden break here.
Hence, secondly, we find the Apostle laying down certain principles
for the control of the exercise of these gifts.
In the congregation at
These powers and sign-gifts began with Christ.
John the Baptizer did no miracle; but the ministry of Christ was full of miracles. The spirit of God rested on Him as a Spirit of sign-gift. And so when He began His ministry among His own people these signs appeared accrediting His Messiahship.
Pentecost saw other gifts added, specially the gift of speaking in a tongue. There is no instance, in Christs ministry of speaking in a tongue. He Himself had said, greater works than these will you do because I go to the Father, and so it came to pass. There were subsidiary manifestations, but, speaking generally, sign-gifts seem to have been fivefold, namely, gifts having reference to the raising of the dead; gifts touching the realm of the demons and spirits; gifts in the direction of the healing of human disease; gifts in connection with speech tongues; and gifts in the matter of revelation - receiving new revelations at the congregational meetings. The last two seem to have been special signs following Pentecost. The Pentecostal Dispensation, which is covered by and is described in the Acts of the Apostles, is specially characterised by these sign-gifts.
As in Christs own ministry so here,
also, in the ministry of the Pentecostal Spirit, these sign-gifts accredited
the testimony while
But when the time came for Gods
dealings with (and special appeals to)
Accordingly, we find Paul here, in Corinthians, giving guidance for the regulated control of these sign-gifts, and also giving intimation of their future cessation.
He advanced four considerations covering the whole subject up to that point of time.
First. The supreme test of everything in congregational life is EDIFICATION. Let all things be done unto (with a view to) edifying (1 Cor. 14: 26). Compare specially 14: 16, 17. Paul lifted the whole question into the search-light of this practical test.
The building up of the body of Christ was far more important than the possession and manifestation of specal gifts. There was no edification in unintelligent utterances: and hence, unless there was an interpreter, so that those present might be edified, the Apostle enjoined silence (14: 28).
Second. According to this supreme test, Paul, guided by the Lord, gave some practical injunctions for the conduct of congregational meetings.
He had already done this with reference to the Lords Supper: and now he is to do it in relation to tongues, to prophesyings, to revelations, and to interpretations. What he says is simply the application of sanctified commonsense.
It has been supposed that the paragraph, 14: 26-33, justifies what have been called Open Meetings, that is, where any one, who feels so inclined, may get up and talk.
This is the very thing the Apostle corrects.
He is writing here entirely with regard to sign-gifts, not to the ordinary ministry of the Word. And hence, as to tongues, which were a sign to unbelievers, their use was to be under control, and subject to the presence of an interpreter.
As to prophesyings, which were the utterances of the special class of men called Prophets, standing in the order of person-gifts next to the Apostles, Paul laid down the control-rule that spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. And hence there, was to be no excited simultaneous talking, but one by one; and, if anything were revealed to another sitting, he was not to utter this new revelation until the previous speaker had delivered his message. Thus all the believers present would be taught and exhorted, in an edifying and orderly manner; for, adds the Apostle, God is not [the source] of turmoil, but of peace (14: 33).
Third. Right in the heart of this inspired statement comes the great Eulogy of Love in chapter 13.
While the Apostle does not deprecate the exercise of these sign-gifts, at the time when 1 Corinthians was written, he carries the teaching to a higher point when he says, And yet I shew to you
A MORE EXCELLENT WAY (12: 31).
And then, we are carried away on the wings of Faith and Hope and Love into the region of permanent spiritual reality, and we look down upon all these gifts, and wonders, and miracles, and signs, and tongues, and prophesyings, as phases of power, for the time then present, but which would not and could not persist when Israel was cast aside and a perfected unfolding of Spiritual Truth had come.
Sign-gifts, compared with love, are as nothing. Gifts fail. Love never fails. Love edifies. Though one could add tongues of angels to tongues of men, and speak with them, and not have Love, it were but the harsh clashing of a clanging cymbal.
Yes, the spiritual supremacy and permanency of Love is
THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY. (12: 31).
And now, Fourth. After eulogising love as the more excellent way, the Apostle points to the future, and foretells a time, evidently at hand, when whether prophecies, they will be done away; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge (meaning special revelations), it will be done away; for all these things are only in part; but when that which is perfect (or complete) shall have come, that which is in part shall be done away.
In the unfolding of truth, the sign-gift stage is but a childhood state of things; but, manhood will follow, and then it will be like seeing face to face; then shall we come to know even as we came to be known.
And already, says the Apostle, this is anticipated, for Now there abide Faith, Hope, Love, these three.
Yes, these three are purely spiritual graces, and tell of the Perfection that
was coming, and that did come when
In the light of all this, what can we think and say about many of the happenings around us to-day? When we see professing Christians striving after tongues, and healings, and signs, and powers, what is it but going back to a state of spiritual child hood, back to a Dispensation which has run its course and served its purpose?* And this, too, in the bright light of the full and final revelation of God in association with Christs headship and Gods calling above, in Him.
[* NOTE. It is widely believed (by some Christians today) that, during the last 7 years of this evil age, when the Antichrist will be manifested and empowered with signs and wonders from Satan, that the Holy Spirit will then give Gods people His miraculous signs and powers - needed to counterbalance those demonstrated by Antichrist and those employed in Satans service.]
Let it be ours to estimate rightly things partial and passing, and to be occupied, to our hearts deep joy and content, with
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE
We come now to a passage in Pauls Second Epistle to the Corinthians, namely,
2 Corinthians 1: 8.
The statement that the Apostle makes in this and the following verses is fitly prefaced by the paragraph verses 3-7, where the subject of suffering or distress, and the counterbalancing one of comfort, are fully set forth. Clearly the subject of persecution was on his mind as he commenced this Epistle, and these striking and peculiarly helpful sentences led him to the historical reference (yes, and the geographical reference) lying behind the passage which is now to engage attention. The words may be rendered as follows,-
would not that you should be ignorant, brethren, with respect to our tribulation which happened in
These remarkable words are given as the reason for the
previous paragraph (verses 3-7), beginning, as they do, with the for of cause or reference: and so
important was the occasion to which he points that he specially desires the
Now with the words happened in
The facts recorded in this passage, especially when taken with the way the Apostle refers to it in 2 Cor. 1: 8, 9, raise some interesting enquiries.
Why did Paul specially wish the Corinthian believers to know about this trouble
(2). Was Paul actually dead when he was dragged out of the city?
(3). How is it that he was able at once to stand up and enter the city again and resume, next day, his Gospel preaching, as if nothing had happened?
Of one thing we may be quite sure, namely, that the stones in the hands of such persecutors would speedly reach their object with a force in keeping with the hatred and fury behind it.
(4). What is the point of the Apostles reference to the God who raises the dead if he had been merely disabled?
The usual way of interpreting this part of Acts 14 is to say that Paul was badly disabled and stunned, probably rendered unconscious; but that he soon came round and found that he was not much the worse and so was able to go on with his work.
It is submitted here that the above explanation is most inadequate and does not give due value to the account in Acts and much less to the words used in 2 Corinthians.
The present writer has been brought, by the sheer force of Greek words and comparative exegesis to believe, -
(1). That Paul was actually stoned to death.
(2). That he was actually raised from the dead.
(3). That, along with this wondrous quickening, his wounds were healed and his strength renewed.
(4). That thereby he had the most precious confirmation of his confidence in God.
(5). That he thereby could give these sophistical, questioning Corinthians, the most irrefutable proof of his Apostleship and its importance.
Pauls faith here is parallel with Abrahams on mount Moriah; only that Paul went further and actually experienced death and resurrection and thus became conformed to the death of his Lord, as he did a second time at the close of his ministry, (2 Timothy 4: 6), beyond which there was the great issue of the resurrection out from among the dead, no more to return, to corruption (and so to be finally like Christ [and His out-resurrection, Phil. 3: 11, cf. Mark 9: 9, 10.*]).
[* NOTE. Mark 9: 9, 10, translated from a Greek Interlinear reads: As they [Peter, James and John] were coming down from the mountain, he [Christ] charged them, that they should relate to no one what they saw, except [i.e., until after] when the son of man out of dead ones should be raised. Note the preposition out indicates a select resurrection of one Person only. That of our Lord Jesus the Christ.]
It was the same quickening energy, dealing with a state of sexual death, that Abraham and Sarah experienced in connexion with the giving of Isaac, the son of promise: and Paul saw this and recorded it in Romans 4: 17-21, where he says of Abraham: Who is father of us all ... confronting Him whom he believed, God that quickens the dead and calls things as in being that are not in being.
It was less marvel, after this, that Abraham believed that God was able to (and would if necessary) raise his son Isaac. (See Gen. 22.; and Heb. 11: 18, 19).
In like manner Paul had the doom of death in himself (for he was continually delivered unto death) that he might not trust in himself but in God that raises the dead.
This God of resurrection could raise Paul if necessary (and in this case it was necessary) to continue and finish his God-given Ministry of the Grace of God and the Glory of Christ.
Accordingly the Apostle glorifies God for delivering him from so great a death, and goes on to express the hope of Gods rescuing grace and power as the future may demand.
Let us now carry these thoughts further and see how the experience Paul here gained prepared for the great work still before him; and how it prepared him for that work.
It is easy to see how the recital of these extraordinary facts would impress the Corinthians with the high commission God had given Paul, and tend to blot out in their minds that petty questioning among them about his Apostleship. We may surely believe that this end was served as the Apostle intended it to be, for it is to the Corinthians alone that he lifts the veil and indicates the solemn significance of these ways of God with His servant.
But there was much more than this, as already mentioned above.
There was PERSONAL PREPARATION. Paul is the Apostle chosen by the Lord outside the circle of The Twelve who has explained to us, as no one else has done, the meaning of the Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Session, and Return of Christ.
Pauls gospel of Grace and [of Messiahs coming] Glory is connected with these five points of Christian teaching. Three of them are facts of the past: one covers the present Church Age, while the fifth will come to pass during the millennial age to come.
The Incarnation of Christ and His Millennial Reign are not omitted in Pauls writings, but they are not special points in Pauls Gospel. For his special ministry he did not know Christ according to flesh. It is based on Death and Resurrection; it takes special form and substance in connexion with Ascension and Session; and it will be consummated in connexion with Christs, Descension and Return.
Now, here, we see Paul passing through a personal experience of death and resurrection, fitting him to unfold, later, the full-orbed teaching associated with Christ, at the right hand of God, as the Firstborn, among many brethren, as Lord of glory and as Head of the body.
The experience at Lystra was written deep on his heart and mind. The worst that man could do was done; the answer of God to mans brutality was resurrection; and the Apostle emerged from that solemn scene with the priceless preparation for entering into the depths and heights of the most blessed ministry that awaited him when he became a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
Again and again he reminds us that the power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him was the power energising in himself and in every member of the One Body.
There was, also, A PROPHECY OF THE FUTURE. At Lystra, the Apostle saw the end of flesh; he saw man at his worst. As Jews had crucified (or caused to be crucified) his Lord, so Jews here are seen stoning to death the Lords servant.
He saw, also, resurrection power, triumphant rescuing power.
In this he knew what the Lord could do. All this was a personal prophecy!
Once more, before the great occasion came to which all this
pointed, he passed through another preparatory experience, namely, in the
At Lystra, he experienced the doom of death and saw the end of flesh and self, coming out into a sphere of grace where resurrection power was the power of rescue, and the liberty of the Lord the very breath of Lift!
He was cut away from all the old moorings and a the old racial, earthly, fleshly and ceremonial ties, and he came out of that surging sea, as if rising from the dead, into a sphere where old things had passed away, and THAT WHICH IS PERFECT was just in front of him.
Thus we can see how the experiences at Lystra were a prophecy of the spiritual realities, unities and liberties to be set forth in their season when Paul was drawn aside, as a prisoner, for this very ministry.
And we can also see how the Lystra experiences were a prophecy of the farther future, even the glorious hour, when all the members of the PERFECT MAN shall be rescued from every vestige of the old creation and shine forth as the sun,
Conformed to the body of His Glory.*
[*NOTE. Keep in mind: We should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present age; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the GLORY of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ: (Titus 2: 13, R.V.).]
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE
COLOSSIANS 2: 1.
In pursuing, still further, the application of the above fruitful expression, we come now to the seventh instance of its use, by the Apostle Paul, as found in
Colossians 2: 1.
In this case the language is in the positive form, and may be freely translated as follows: For I wish that you should know what particular conflict I have concerning you and concerning those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, in order that their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full measure of the understanding, unto a full knowledge of the Secret of God - Christ, in whom all the treasures of the [true] wisdom and knowledge are hid (2: 1-3).
In this statement of lofty truth there are two words one at the beginning the other at the close which arrest attention, and on which the teaching is built.
The one word is Conflict and the other word is Secret.
The Conflict has reference to the Secret, and the Secret of God is the matter of revelation and knowledge to which the Apostle would bring his readers. Everything he says and experiences is with a view to a full knowledge of the Secret of God - Christ.
It were a pleasant service to show how the whole Epistle to the Colossians which is one of the captivity letters - casts light on this thesis laid down in these verses; but this pleasure must be reserved, the better to emphasise the points of deep interest found in the passage itself.
Accordingly let us seek to open and grasp what the Apostle so earnestly wishes us to know.
1st. The Conflict.
The figure is not material, but it is athletic. He has in mind the struggle for mastery in the arena of the games. Our word agony is simply a transliteration of the Greek word used.
But the conflict here is not physical, such as we saw in our last article, when we found how Paul was stoned to death and how he got branded on his body the marks (stigmata) of the Lord Jesus; just as Christs body had the stigmata of the nails.
No; the conflict here is mental strain, spiritual interest on the stretch, the care of the Churches that had not seen his face.
Hence the for, with which the statement opens, pointing to what he says at the close of chapter1, Unto which (viz., to present every man perfect in Christ) I toil, contending, agonising, according to His energy which, energises in me powerfully.
It is with him, here, as in the 3rd. chapter of Philippians: he is bending every faculty he possesses; he is absorbed in mind; he has great mental and spiritual tension, has: great (peculiarly acute) conflict that the saints and faithful brethren should see and know all he had to tell and unfold, and that they should stand perfect in all the will of God (compare the prayer of Epaphras in chapter 4: 12).
Behind all the prayers of Epaphras and the conflict of Paul we see the resurrection energy of Christ operating towards the same end, and operating through these human channels.
This same conflict is present with us to-day, in the recovery of the same t truth; and Christ is energising mightily in vessels chosen by Himself. We may, or we may not, be captives in a chain, but we know something of the strain and tension of this spiritual agony, and something of the ceaseless antagonism of men and of Satan to this teaching!
May we have grace to stand to stand fast; and stand complete; and stand approved!
2nd. The Saints Concerned.
Of course the Apostle was concerned about the whole Flock of God; but he specially mentions here the Colossian and Laodicean believers and all those who, like them, had not seen his face in the flesh. He wished them all to know his conflict for them; the things he had to unfold; the new situation that had arisen on account of his captivity. The time had come for the teaching and telling out of the great truths which, up till then, had been only hinted at; and the presence of Epaphras gave him the opportunity of sending, through him, a statement of the revelations he had received. Thus we see, in Pauls day, just as we see in our own time, how Gods providence opens the door for fulfilling His purpose.
It is called in this passage the Secret (or mystery) of God [even] Christ, in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid (verses 2, 3). It is the full knowledge of this Secret that the Apostle is desirous of conveying. This is the great subject of these Prison Epistles, specially Ephesians and Colossians. There is proof enough that Paul knew it before, and taught truth in accordance with it; but the time had now come when it devolved on him to communicate in writing what had been given to him by revelation, and thus to fill up the Word of God (Col. 1: 24, 25, 26).
This Secret of God, centering in Christs glorified Person and Position was the doctrine henceforth to dominate and characterise all true Christian and church teaching.
It had been hid from ages, but now is MANIFEST, and stamps the character of this current church age.
All nations ought now to know it: it belongs to them. It came to Paul as the Apostle
of the Gentiles,
and it is that special aspect of the Gospel which should now be preached to the
nations (and to
It is not merely a teaching among other teachings: it is this much; but it is specifically
THE DOCTRINE FOR THIS DAY OF GRACE, [AND OF THE COMING GLORY].
The saints, of course ought to know it, and so know it as to make it the Evangel they preach; but the present writer, it least, believes that it is the privilege of the nations to bear this Evangel of the Secret, this gospel of the glory of Christ, this favour of God, and to enter into its special blessing (see Rom. 15: 16. [cf. 2 Cor. 4: 6, R.V.]).
This is Pauls gospel. This is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelations of the Secret. This teaching is now made manifest, and, according to the commandment of the Everlasting God, is now made known to all nations unto obedience of the faith (see Rom. 16: 25, 26).
In connection with this special unfolding of Gods manifold wisdom we see Satan devising new delusions and casting veils on mens eyes to prevent the illumination of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ from dawning upon them (2 Cor. 4: 4).
Deplorable it is to mark how preachers, in our time, are preaching a Jesus of their own making, as a Social Reformer; and a Christ of their own making, as a Religious Model; instead of preaching Him as the risen, ascended, and seated Son of God, Lord over all, the Head of the Body the Church, according to the revelation of the Secret.
No marvel that, with such an unfolding of truth on his mind, and such a Stewardship of God committed to him, the Apostle should feel the burden, and experience a new kind of conflict, in his intense desire that the Church should know, and that the nations, by means of the Church, should know the full value of the latest Evangel,
The Secret of God,
The Glory of Christ.
* * *
I WOULD NOT HAVE YOU IGNORANT.
WE have found the
above expression in five of Pauls Epistles, and the teaching is addressed to
four local Assemblies, namely, to the Assemblies at,
We come now to the last in this series of articles, the reference being found in 1st. Thessalonians. In the canonical order of Pauls Church Epistles, the Thessalonian Letters come last; and it is in them that we get the subject of the Second Advent specially mentioned.
It is referred to by such conceptions and expressions as the Coming of the Lord; the Epiphany of the Lord; the Day of the Lord; the Descent of the Lord.
It is no marvel, therefore, to find that our last reference occurs in connection with one aspect of the great subject of the Advent.
It is found in the well-known passage 1 Thess. 14-18, and may be rendered as follows:-
But we do not wish that you should be ignorant, brethren, concerning those that are falling asleep, in order that you may not sorrow, even as the rest who are not possessed of a hope: for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also [we believe that] God, through Jesus, will bring, along with Him, those that have fallen asleep.
Such is the first part of the statement. The other part gives a precise explanation as to how this first part is to be fulfilled. It may be well, therefore, to pause a little and endeavour to grasp the terms of the above remarkable sentence.
The statement concerns those that have fallen asleep, in other words, those that have died. We must bear in mind that these Thessalonian believers had only recently turned to God from idols, and were not familiar with Christian teaching as we are from our youth.
When Paul preached the Gospel there, he told them of the Lords return as a part of the Teaching: and more than that, he told them of the coming Apostasy (see 2 Thess. 2: 5); but a situation had arisen which called for further instruction. In the meantime, since the Apostles visit, some of the believers had fallen asleep, and evidently the mind of the Assembly was disturbed about this.
Naturally they would ask: How will the return of the Lord affect those whom they sorrowed over? Will they be left where they are? Will the living ones have an advantage over them? Will the living ones enter into the coming glory while their dead friends are deprived of it until a later period?
The answer to such heart-enquiries can come from God only; but the needed revelation came through the Apostle. So he desires that they should not be ignorant about this matter, which was touching their hearts and their homes. With new instruction the stinging sorrow would be assuaged.
Their loved ones had died: yes, but Christ had died. More than that, Christ had risen again. These two facts they believed. To carry through the analogy, the Apostle then asserts that those mourned over are not lost any more than Christ was lost while His body was in the grave.
Resurrection is Gods answer to all these questions. And resurrection means the Lords return. But here we must carefully note the exact wording of this great unfolding of Truth.
The Apostle declares that
God will bring Jesus.
Not only so, but he also declares that He will bring, along with Him those that have fallen asleep.
It is a remarkable conception, that God will bring Jesus and those that have fallen asleep back together! The language has been used before: it is only new in its application.
God brought Christ into the world before (see Acts 13: 23), and He will bring Him again (see Heb. 1: 6). One of the differences is that the first time He was brought He came alone; but the next time He is brought He will have along with Him those that have fallen asleep.* This will be the blessed satisfying fruit of His Passion and His Blood.
[* see 1 Thess. 4: 16: and the dead in Christ shall rise first, R.V. Do not read all the dead in Christ shall rise first for the word all is not found in the text - nor is it found in the Greek, which translated literally into English reads: and the dead ones in Anointed will be raised first. If the word all was inserted in the text, then it would teach contrary to Christ and His Apostles! See Luke 20: 35; Phil 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 4-6. Compare with 1 Tim. 4: 8ff.; Heb. 10: 35-39; 1 Pet. 1: 10, 11; 2: 17 etc. with Rev. 20: 15.]
So the Apostle teaches: and so would the believers at Thessalonica be assured: and so are we assured and comforted.
But now we must give attention to the explanation as to how precisely this GREAT CONSUMMATION is to be accomplished. Here it is:-
For this we tell you, by a word of the Lord, that we, the living ones, the left ones, unto the Coming of the Lord, shall in no wise forestall those that had fallen asleep, because the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an archangel, with a trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we, the living ones, the left ones, will, together with them, be caught away with clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus, always, we shall be with the Lord.
By a word of the Lord we tell you, just as the Apostle, writing of the same thing to the Corinthians, says: Behold I tell you a secret (1 Cor. 15: 51).
To worldlings and even to some professing Christians these apostolic statements are ludicrous folly. No sensible person now believes them we are told. So these blind leaders say, but God says the opposite. When Paul and Silas and Timothy declare, This we tell you by word of the Lord, they mean just what they say; and if the Lord hath spoken who are we that we should question and withstand God? Besides, this is the very revelation we needed, the very thing that the Apostle would not have us ignorant of, because it is for the assuaging of our sorrow and the comfort of our hearts in view of the exodus of our loved ones until the Descent of the Lord.
It is too vivid, too literal, too real, too startling for our rationalising professors! To be looking out for such a consummation as this would interfere with their cherished schemes of world betterment.
But there it stands: The Lord Himself shall Come Down: and the Descending One is quite equal to all that follows. Long before He had said: I am the resurrection and the life. He is the resurrection and as such He will raise the sleeping saints: He is the life and as such He will change the living saints (Comp. 1 Cor. 15: 51-57. Comp. also Phil. 3: 20, 21).
He will clothe the corruptible with incorruption: that is resurrection. He will clothe the mortal with immortality; that is life swallowing up the mortal part (Comp. 2 Cor. 5: 4).
The norm or pattern according to which He will work is His own body of glory: to this image, to this pattern shall the dead in Christ and the living in Christ be finally conformed.
Blessed hope indeed! Glorious consummation truly! Sorrow cannot live or linger in the heart where this Hope is warmly cherished.
It is the final form of the Sonship, for which we wait,
The Redemption of the Body.
The meeting with the Lord referred to (verse 17), is said to take place not here on earth, but in the air. The conception is, that, in this particular part of the Second Advent, the Lord does not come down (or descend) all the way to the earth; but He catches away those that are Christs to meet Him in the air, evidently implying that they will then be ready to appear with Him when He accomplishes the second stage of the Advent and manifests Himself in power and great glory, to deal with the Apostasy and all its Agents and Armies and so bring in the righteous rule of the Millennium when He shall
Sit upon the Throne of His Glory.
Perhaps a word, should be said with regard to the assertion of unbelief that Paul was mistaken when he said we, the living ones, the left ones, including himself among them, inasmuch as he died before the Lords return. It is no marvel that un-renewed rationalists should so speak; but how believing men and bible students can listen to this evil suggestion is amazing!
It has been said over and over and it is testified here once more that Paul was not telling out this secret merely as an ordinary believer; but he was writing as an Apostle, as a writer of Scripture, and he expressed the organic continuity of Gods saints until the Lord should come.
God buries His workers but He carries on His work; His saints
die, but the
We ourselves say the same thing to-day. We, at this moment, are the living ones, the left ones, having organic continuity with those that have preceded us and with those that will come after us. It can only be to those living and left at the moment of the Descent that the words will be literally fulfilled; but it was and is a cherished hope to all the generations (the present living group of believers included). Are we, to-day, wrong in looking out for the fulfilment of this Scripture or for any similar statement of the Blessed Hope? If we are not wrong, then if our exodus should happen before the Lords descent, unbelief may say that we too were mistaken.
But we would not be mistaken, for the simple reason that no moment of time, or day or year is given. Hence it is a matter of hope, and the hope abides; it is a fact of revelation and the deepest desire of our hearts, and we go on singing
Hope of our hearts, O Lord, appear,
Thou glorious Star of day.
The Apostle uses the same we and our in the corresponding passage in Philip. 3: 20, 21.
But let this suffice: he that hath ears will hear.*
[* See Rev. 3: 10 and compare with Luke 21: 36: and note the conditional element contained in both texts.]
In conclusion, we are not ignorant now as to how the Lord is to accomplish this mighty event, this wonder of the ages: and in view of the groaning creation and the sorrows of the saints, we wait for a Saviour, and earnestly heed the Apostles admonition, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
He says all the days,
I come quickly.
We say all the days,
Amen: come, Lord Jesus.