Posts Tagged ‘righteousness’

ROMANS 10

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER:

(a) Verses 1 -4 Israel going about.
(b) Verses 5-13 Christ coming down and rising from the dead.
(c) Verses 14-21 Preachers going forth.

SUMMARY OF THE  CHAPTER:

This chapter follows on from chapter 9, and shows God’s provision for Israel in Christ. Their national unbelief is not because of a lack of interest by God in their spiritual welfare, but rather because of their rejection of their Messiah.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 10, VERSES 1 TO 4:

10:1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

10:2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

10:3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

(a)   Verses 1-4   Israel going about

10:1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved- before, the apostle was prepared to be accursed for their sakes, if that were possible.  Now he indicates his interest in their welfare by praying for them.  In this he is in harmony with his Saviour, who sought their forgiveness when on the cross, Luke 23:34, and also continues to intercede for the nation, transgressors though they are, Isaiah 53:12.

10:2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge- as was true of the apostle before he was saved.  His zeal knew no bounds on the Damascus Road, but it was in ignorance, 1 Timothy 1:13, for he was rejecting the One who came to the circumcision for the sake of the truth of God, Romans 15:8.

10:3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness- having rejected knowledge, they were necessarily ignorant.  They knew that God was righteous, for He had declared it to them, but they had no personal knowledge of what it was to be right in His sight through faith.
And going about to establish their own righteousness-
because the heart of man is full of pride, it prefers to work rather than rest in the work of another.
Have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God-
becoming righteous before God through the gospel necessitates submission to His word and will, and involves the surrender of our own will.

10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth- Christ has, by His death, brought the law to an end as a possible means of gaining a right standing before God.  Paul wrote, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”, Galatians 2:21. Since His death was not in vain, then it follows that all other means of being right with God, including attempting to keep His law, are of no avail, and are rendered obsolete.  Since there is no definite article before law, then we may read Christ is the end of “law for righteousness”; salvation is on the basis of “faith for righteousness”.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 10, VERSES 5 TO 13:

10:5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

10:6  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

10:7  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

10:8  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

10:11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.

10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.

10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

(b)    Verses 5-13    Christ coming down from heaven and rising from the dead.

10:5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law- how powerful is Paul’s way of reasoning here, for he quotes Moses the lawgiver himself!  “Of the law” means “on the principle of law”.  Of course there is only one righteousness, but Israel sought it by the works of the law, on that principle.
That “the man that doeth those things shall live by them”- or as the Lord Jesus said to the lawyer after he had quoted a summary of the law, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live”, Luke 10:28.  The subsequent story of the Good Samaritan shows three things.
1. That those most zealous for the law, (the priest and the Levite), are unwilling to act unselfishly, and thus love their neighbour as themselves.
2. That man is incapable of working for God, because he has been rendered helpless by sin.
3. The one who loved his neighbour as himself was a Samaritan, who was not under the jurisdiction of the law, which came to Israel exclusively.

10:6  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise- Paul now uses the Old Testament in a way which may seem strange to us, but which would be familiar to those who were used to listening to the rabbis.  They, however, were unrestrained in the way they manipulated the scriptures, whereas the apostle applies the passage he is about to quote in a very disciplined way.  He needs a scripture that does the following things:
1. Quotes Moses.
2. Warns against ignoring the revealed will of God.
3. States there is no need for effort on their part.
4. Assures that there is blessing even for those who have rebelled against God, if they repent.
5. Emphasises the need for confession and faith.
The apostle finds the scripture he needs in Deuteronomy 30:11-14.  He quotes three excerpts from the passage, and then says “that is”, and then gives his application of the principle involved.
Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven- in his original statement, Moses simply cites an example of a supreme effort.
(That is, to bring Christ down from above)- here is the apostle’s application of the principle involved in the statement by Moses, with particular relevance to the nation of his day whom he longs to see saved.  Their Messiah has already come down from heaven, so they have no need to journey to heaven to bring Him down.

10:7  Or, who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead)-  Moses’ words were ‘Who shall go over the sea for us’.  The reference would be to the Mediterranean Sea, the Great Sea, beyond which lay the great unknown.  The idea is of extreme distance travelled with great effort.  Paul, however, uses the word for sea which emphasises its depth, and thus introduces a further direction to the upwards and outwards already mentioned.  Christ has not to be summoned up from the dead, for He is already risen.

10:8  But what saith it?- having stated in verses 6 and 7 what men should not say, here is what faith personified says.
“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart” that is the word of faith, which we preach- works personified would say “Strive to attain”, faith personified says through the preaching of the gospel, “Confess and believe what God has brought near to you”.  In that way the word would be both on the lip and in the heart.

10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus-  here Paul gives a summary of the minimum that needs to be believed for a person to be saved.  Christ coming down from heaven implies His Lordship and His Deity, which must be accepted if a person is to be saved.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4,5.  To confess means to say the same thing as God does about His Son, the Lord from heaven.  In this way the word is in the mouth of the sinner when he believes.
And shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved- just as Christ’s coming from heaven implied His Deity and Lordship, so His rising from the dead implies the acceptableness of His work upon the cross for sins.  Thus the person and work of Christ are believed in the heart or innermost being of a man, and there is full agreement with the truth that God brings nigh to us about His Son as the gospel is preached.

10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation-  note that in this context salvation is equivalent to being reckoned righteous by God.
There are two aspects at least to this confession.  In the first instance it involves saying the same thing to God about His Son as He says to us with regard to His Deity.  In this way the word is in the mouth as we speak to God.  But there is also the need to confess Him before men subsequently, see 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Matthew 10:32.  Full salvation does not depend on this second aspect of confession, however, or else salvation would be through something we had done, rather than by pure grace. In verse 9 the order was “mouth…heart”, following the order in the quotation from Deuteronomy; here however it is “heart…mouth”. This guards against the idea that we do not need to confess Jesus Christ as risen, only believe it, nor have to believe He is the Jesus the Lord, only confess it.  Both must be believed, and both confessed.

10:11  For the scripture saith, ‘whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed’- a verse already quoted in 9:33 to emphasise the availability of Christ to be believed on.  In Isaiah’s original statement, the wording was ‘shall not make haste’, we shall not need to hastily abandon reliance on Christ, whatever situation arises.

10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek- the whosoever” of his quotation in verse 11 has led the apostle to think of the universal application of this principle, despite the fact that he is dealing in the main with the question of Israel.  See 1:16,17, and 3:22,23.
For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him- He is Lord over Jews and Gentiles alike, and is rich to both alike also.  The Jew must own his spiritual bankruptcy as much as the Greek, but when either believes, he is brought into the riches of God’s grace.

10:13  For ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’- whosoever means ‘every one that’, so any and every individual that calls shall be saved.  To call upon the name means to call to God for salvation on the ground of who the Lord Jesus is, and is the same as confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus.  In the Old Testament the word for Lord is Jehovah, so this is a testimony to the Deity of the Lord Jesus.  The apostle will develop further the idea of calling in the next section.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 10, VERSES 14 TO 21:

10:14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

10:15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

10:16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

10:18  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

10:19  But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

10:20  But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me.

10:21  But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

(c)   Verses 14-21    Preachers going forth

10:14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?- the apostle now addresses the question as to how “the word of faith, which we preach”, verse 8, reaches those who need it.  He has emphasised that Christ has come down from heaven, and has risen from the dead, and in that sense the word of faith has been brought near by Him personally.  But there is also the fact that Christ has returned to heaven, and is not available as before.  How are men to come into contact with Him now?  The answer lies in the work of the preacher.  His task is to present the truths of the gospel.  These include the fact that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, and as such is equal with God; that He came into true, real and sinless manhood; that His death was for our sins; that He was raised from the dead bodily; that He is now at the right hand of God; that the benefit of these things is only known by those who own up to being sinners, and call upon God to show them mercy on the basis of the death of His Son.
Having mentioned calling on the name of the Lord in the previous verse, the apostle points out that this can only be done meaningfully if there is belief.  But the belief can only happen if they have heard the gospel, and the hearing of that gospel is dependant on the preacher. So the preacher presents the gospel, the sinner believes it, and calls on the Lord for salvation, claiming His promise that all who call on the name of the Lord in this way shall certainly be saved.

There is a very great need in the days in which we live for those who are prepared to give themselves to the study of the scriptures, so they may be able to present to men a well-informed and accurate statement of gospel truth- what the apostle called “the word of the truth of the gospel”, Colossians 1:5.

10:15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?- those who go forth with the gospel must have the conviction in their hearts that the Lord is sending them.  He does not send those who are not equipped for the task, who are not leading spiritual lives, and who are not tested, see 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  Nor does He send those who are not willing to go, as Isaiah 6:8 makes clear.
As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’-  of course the beautiful feet are metaphorical, meaning they run to bring a beautiful message.  The expression ‘gospel of peace’ emphasizes God’s side of the gospel in that Christ has made the basis by His death for man to be at peace with God.  ‘Glad tidings of good things’ emphasizes the abundance of blessing which there is for those who believe.

10:16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel- because the Lord Jesus is the Lord from heaven, He should be obeyed.  God expects the obedience of faith when the word is preached, 1:5, 16:26.  Preachers should not be downcast if those to whom they preach do not believe.  Ezekiel was sent to preach ‘whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear’, (stop hearing), Ezekiel 2:6,7; 3:10,11; 3:18,19; Acts 20:26,27.
For Esaias saith, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report?’- Paul wants us to be clear that Isaiah was addressing the Lord when he used these words. This emphasizes that the preaching of the gospel is the joint work of the One who sends and the one who is sent.  “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations…and lo, I am with you”, Matthew 28:19,20;  “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them”; Mark 16:20; “Christ Jesus…came and preached peace”, Ephesians 2:13,17.  Not only does the Lord pledge His presence at the side of those who preach His word, but He is the originator of the message, as the next verse shows, which is based on Isaiah’s word “report”, something to be heard in the heart.

10:17  So then-  summing up the reasoning of verses 14-16.
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God- the word for hearing has the idea of a report, so it might be thought of as “Faith cometh by a report, and the report by the word of God”.  Both ends of the chain from God to man are here.  On man’s side, there should be faith, which may be defined as “a firm persuasion about the truth of God, and a reliance wholeheartedly upon that truth”. This is put into practice when we rely entirely upon the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross as He dealt with the question of sins.  On God’s side there is a report. But the report that preachers bring from God is something they have gained from God in the first place, as they listen to His voice before they go forth.  The word of God is His spoken word or saying to the preacher, giving him the right message for those the Lord knows he will be addressing.  See Jeremiah 1:7-9.

10:18  But I say, have they not heard?- perhaps some would argue that the reason why people have not believed the report is not that they are unbelieving, verse 16, but that they have not heard it.  After all, verse 14 says “how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Yes verily- that argument is now refuted; it is not true that they have not heard.  it is verily or certainly true that they have. At this point the apostle again quotes the Old Testament and deepens the meaning of the words, as he did in verses 5-8.  This shows his equal authority with David as a Spirit-inspired writer.  The psalmist in Psalm 19 is thinking of the way the glory of God is made known through creation.  Paul uses his words to illustrate the fact that the gospel of the glory of God is widespread too.
Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world- there were present at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost devout Jews out of every nation under heaven, Acts 2:5, and Luke details those nations in verses 9-11.  Those that were saved that day would return to their homes and spread the gospel there.  See also Colossians 1:6, “come unto you, as it is in all the world”; Colossians 1:23, “preached to every creature which is under heaven”.  All this was in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15,20.

10:19  But I say, Did not Israel know?-  perhaps the Jews did not realise that the gospel was relevant to them, seeing they had the Law of the Old Testament.
First Moses saith, “I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you”- note the mention again of “no people”, a term for the Gentiles, but which God applied in judgement to Israel, as we have seen, 9:25,26.  It is clear that the Jews were aware of the gospel, and some were angered, e.g. Acts 17:5-8; 18:4-6.  Some however were provoked to jealousy, and wanted to have the blessing that Gentiles were receiving, e.g. Acts 13:43; 18:8. The original significance of “by a foolish nation I will anger you” would be that when the Assyrians came to carry them into captivity, the Jews would be angry at being delivered into the hands of those who were ignorant of the true God.

10:20  But Esaias is very bold-  makes a very daring statement.
And saith, “I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me”- this is a daring statement because the usual principle is that men must seek the Lord to find Him, as Paul himself said, “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him, although he be not far from any one of us”, Acts 17:27; here it is the Lord Himself who takes the initiative through His sent preachers.  To ‘ask not after Me’ means they did not consult God in prayer.  Those who were characteristically uninterested in God have been sought out by Him, whereas Israel, who were by profession seekers and consulters, have largely ignored the gospel.

10:21  But unto Israel He saith, “All day long have I stretched out My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people”- despite their unbelief of the gospel, and their arguing against it, God assures them that He still stretches out His hands to them, ready to embrace them in love, as the father did to the prodigal.  This is the ultimate reason why Paul desires the salvation of Israel, verse 1, because it is God’s desire too.  It is well for us to have the same  attitude to things as our God.

The First Epistle of John, Chapter 2

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

NOTES ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER TWO

1:1-4    INTRODUCTION: 

THE THREE-FOLD PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE

First purpose To inform us that the epistle is “concerning the word of life”.  In other words, the theme is the life of God as expressed in the Son of God when He was on earth.
Second purpose To tell us that the one who is Eternal Life personified has been manifested, seen, heard, and reported.
Third purpose To report these things so that we may have a share in them, and consequently have full joy.

The life of God expresses itself in the manifestation of light and love, and these two themes continue throughout the epistle.

1:5-2:2    Christ’s life tells us God is light:

THREE TESTS FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE WALKING (LIVING) IN THE LIGHT

First test, verses 6-7 If we say we walk in the light.  Those who pass the test do walk in light, and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps us fit for the light.
Second test, verses 8-9 If we say we have no sin.  Those who pass the test confess their sins.
Third test, verses 10-2:2 If we say we have not sinned.  Those who pass the test do not deny sinning, and have an Advocate with the Father.

2:3-11    Christ’s life shows us how to love:

THREE TESTS FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST

First test, verses 3-5. He that saith “I know Him”.  Those who pass the test find God’s love reaches its goal in their hearts, verse 5.
Second test, verses 8-9 He that saith he abideth in Him.  Those who pass this test walk as Christ walked, verse 6.
Third test, verses 9-11.  He that saith he is in the light.  Those who pass this test love their brothers, and do not stumble them, verse 10.

3:12-27      The family of God is addressed according to maturity, after the general statement of verse 12.

THREE STAGES OF MATURITY IN THE FAMILY OF GOD:

Verse 13(a)  First word to fathers
Verse 13(b) First word to young men.
Verse 13(c) First word to infants.
   
Verse 14(a) Second word to fathers.
Verses 14(b)-17 Second word to young men.
Verses 18-27  Second word to infants.

The instruction to the infants is given so that they may grow into young men, and then into fathers.  After this, the leading features of the passage are now developed in the remainder of the epistle, so that this growth might take place.  The first phrase of the next section is, “little children, abide in Him”, verse 28.  By little children the apostle means all the children of God, not just the infants.  To abide in Him is to rest in what He is, and this is developed in the remainder of the epistle.

The leading themes of the address to the infants are enlarged on in the rest of the epistle, and they are as follows:
1.    Antichrist shall come. 
2.    Already there are many antichrists.
3.    Believers have the Holy Spirit, and know all things.
4.    The deceivers deny the Father and the Son.
5.    There is the need to abide in Him

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1-11

2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2:2  And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

2:3  And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

2:4  He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

2:5  But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.

2:6  He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

2:7  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

2:8  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

2:9  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

2:10  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

2:11  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

1:5-2:2    Christ’s life tells us God is light:

THREE TESTS FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE LIVING (WALKING) IN THE LIGHT

First test, verses 6-7 If we say we walk in the light.  Those who pass the test do walk in light, and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps us fit for the light.
Second test, verses 8-9 If we say we have no sin.  Those who pass the test confess their sins.
Third test, verses 10-2:2 If we say we have not sinned.  Those who pass the test do not deny sinning, and have an Advocate with the Father.

2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

My little children- having applied tests in chapter one which find out whether they are true believers, the apostle can now confidently address them as children in the family of God.  He uses two words in the epistle which are both translated in the Authorised Version as “little children”.  However, in verses 13 and 18 of this chapter the reference is to the infants in the family of God, whereas in 2:1,2,12,18; 3;7,18; 4:4; 5:21, the reference is to all who are born again, and are therefore children in the family of God, irrespective of their stage of maturity.  So in this chapter John addresses every believer in verses 1,12, and 28, whereas in verses 1, 13, and 18-27 he addresses those who are newly-saved.
These things write I unto you- the things of chapter one, on the theme of “life”, as found in, and manifested by, Christ, who is life personified, John 14:6. 
That ye sin not- this is the ideal standard that we are set, because our example is Christ in His sinless perfection.  John has seen the glory of that perfection, for he had been with Christ “from the beginning”, and never did he see Christ sin. 
The law was given to frighten Israel into not sinning.  As Exodus 20:20 says, “God is come down to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not”.  With us it is different, for God has come down to us in His Son, that His grace might be known, and we see that grace in the face of Jesus Christ, as well as His glory, 2 Corinthians 4:6.  Nonetheless, God still proves His people, but not to condemn and cause them fear, but that they might be encouraged to live like His Son.  The more we know of Him, the more detestable sin will seem to us.
And if any man sin- so John writes for two reasons, the first, in chapter one, that we sin not, and second, in this verse, (hence the “and”), if we do sin, that we might know what God’s provision for us is. 
Note it is not “when any man sin”, as if John is expecting it to happen, but “if any man sin”, as if, (as should be the case), it will be an exceptional event.
We have an advocate with the Father- just as John included himself in the tests of chapter one, so he includes himself here in the possibility of sinning.  There is only one who never sinned; all others, even apostles, have the capacity and will to do so, hence the need for Divine provision.  That provision is two-fold, and the first is here, the advocacy of the Lord Jesus.  An advocate is one who speaks up for another, having the ability and authority to do so.  The word used is translated Comforter in the upper room ministry, where the idea is of one called alongside to help.  Here the idea is of a legal advocate, for when believers sin Satan lives up to two of his names, (Satan meaning “adversary”, and Devil meaning “accuser”), and accuses them in the presence of God; see Job 1:6-11, 2:1-5;  Revelation 12:10. 
Note that we have this advocate, we do not have to engage Him each time we sin; He is constantly involved in a ministry of intercession for His own, as Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 assure us.
The fact that the advocate is with the Father indicates that the relationship of children with the Father is in view.  If we had an advocate with God it would mean that we were looked on as sinners.  But the reality is that our advocate speaks for us on the basis that we are children of God, despite the fact that we have sinned.
Jesus Christ the righteous- the emphasis is not so much on the fact that He is the Son of the Father, although that is true, but rather that He, Jesus, the sinless man, and Christ, the approved man, is righteous in all His dealings.  He does not try to disguise the fact that we have sinned, nor make excuse for sin.  He does not need to do these things even if He were capable of them, (which He is not), for He has the perfect answer when the Devil accuses us before God.  This perfect answer is found in the next verse.

2:2  And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

And He is the propitiation for our sins- when John saw the Lord Jesus as He is in heaven, he saw Him as “a lamb, as it had been slain”, Revelation 5:6.  John had been in the Upper Room after the resurrection of Christ, and had seen the nail prints in His hands and feet, Luke 24:39, and the spear-wound in His side, John 20:27, (the wounds inflicted at the beginning of the crucifixion process, and at the end of it).  These wounds showed that it was the Lord Himself that was before them, for only one person in Jerusalem at that time had the marks of crucifixion in His hands and feet, and also a spear wound.  The two thieves had the former, but not the latter, and in any case they were still in the grave.  We learn from the gospels the historical facts about the crucifixion, but in the epistles we learn the deeper meaning behind them.  And part of that deeper meaning is the truth that by His suffering and death, (for both were necessary to make propitiation, as the two goats of Leviticus 16 teach us), He made propitiation.
So as He intercedes for His own as their advocate, He does so as the one who made propitiation for them at Calvary, and because that work was done to God’s utmost satisfaction, the Devil has no valid and sustainable claim against us.  It is not that the sin of a believer is less deserving of Divine wrath, but that the sin has already been answered for at Calvary.
And not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world- John was ever concerned for the welfare of the souls of men.  As he thinks of the way propitiation caters for the needs of believers when they sin, his mind cannot help think that the work of Christ is enough for the whole world too.  There is no sin that has not been given an answer by Christ on the cross.  The foundation has been laid there whereby any in the world of sinful men, even if they all came, (which they are genuinely invited to do), would find there is full and adequate provision for them.  We must not limit the scope of the work of Christ; it was not limited at all, despite what Calvinists might say. 

It might be worth quoting what one of them wrote, “I know there are those who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus:  if my theological system needed such limitation, I would cast it to the winds.  I cannot, I dare not, allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy.  In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit:  my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discerns no shore.  There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all the world, but all in a thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Master’s law.  Once admit infinity into the matter and limit is out of the question.  Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value.  Bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice.  The intent of Divine Purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work”, C. H. Spurgeon.

There are those who point to the undoubted fact that the words “the sins of” are not in the Received Text.  From this they deduce that Christ made propitiation for the whole world, but not for the sins of the whole world.  They do not tell us what making propitiation for the world means.  The fact is that the words in italics, (“the sins of”), are necessary to give the sense.  If the apostle had written, “He is the propitiation for us, and also for the whole world”, the objection might be sustained.  But because he undoubtedly wrote “not for our’s only”, a phrase which prompts the question “for whose as well?” then the words “for the sins of” must be inserted to explain that it is also for the sins of the whole world as well.  It will not do to suggest that John is distinguishing between the sins of Jewish believers and Gentile believers.  Nor is John making a difference between his readers and other believers scattered throughout the earth, since the epistle is not addressed to a particular group of believers, but rather to all in the family of God. 
Perhaps some contend for this view because they do not distinguish between the work of Christ accomplished, and the work of Christ applied.  For instance, Galatians 1:4 speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, (the work accomplished when Christ died), that He might deliver us from this present evil world, (the work applied when a person believes).  Just because Israel was nationally atoned for on the Day of Atonement did not mean that they were all personally saved, for the conditions God laid down for them to be in the personal good of the work of atonement were to afflict their souls, (the equivalent to repentance), and abstain from work, (the equivalent to faith), Leviticus 16:29,30.  If they refused to do these two things, they opted out of the blessing, being cut off from the nation that God had reconciled to Himself that day.  In this age, men are required to opt in by repentance and faith.  The work of Christ is available to all, but sadly is not availed of by all.

At this point we need to define the word propitiation.  It may be understood like this: “Propitiation is that aspect of the work of Christ at Calvary by which He gave to God the full and final satisfaction with regard to every claim God had against sin, enabling mercy to be shown to the repentant sinner on a just basis”.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR PROPITIATION?

1.    Because sins offend God.  As God is the Absolute Standard of righteousness and holiness, all deviations from this standard are highly offensive to Him.  Such is the intensity of His holiness that the simple mention of it is enough to make the posts of the doors of the temple in heaven move, Isaiah 6:3,4.  His reaction to sin and iniquity is to turn from it, for He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look upon iniquity, Habakkuk 1:13.  The very presence of sin in the universe is a grief to God. 

2.    Because as Moral Governor of the universe, He must be seen to deal with sins. 
God has enemies, both devilish and human, and He must be clear of any charge which they may level against Him that suggests He has ignored sins, or at least, ignored some sins.  Eternity must not be allowed to run its course without this matter being settled.  God deals with some sins instantly, but the majority seem to have gone unpunished.  Sentence against an evil work has not been executed speedily, Ecclesiastes 8:11, since God is longsuffering, and waits to be gracious.  This situation might give rise to the charge of indifference to sins, and so God must act to defend His honour.

3.    Because God must have a just basis for continuing to have dealings with sinful men. 
One of the main purposes of the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement in Israel was that God might continue to dwell amongst them despite their uncleanness, Leviticus 16:16.  So also when Christ was down here.  It was only because God was not imputing trespasses so as to instantly judge them, but rather was working to reconcile unto Himself, that He was prepared to have dealings with men in the person of His Son.  See 2 Corinthians 5:19.

4.    Because if men are to be shown mercy, have their sins forgiven, and be reconciled to God, there must be a solid basis upon which these things can happen. 
God declares Himself to be a Saviour God- He cannot be fully satisfied solely by judging men .  The fact that “God is light” demands that this be done, but “God is love” too, and delights to manifest Himself in grace.

5.    Because the cycle of sin must be broken. 
In other words, if there is not to be an eternal succession of creations, falls, remedies for fall, and new creations, then there must be that established which is once for all, giving the complete answer to the question of sin.  Unless this complete answer is given, the new heavens and new earth will not be safe from disturbance.

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF PROPITIATION?

1.    The demands of God are fully met.
To satisfy God as the Moral Governor of the universe, an adequate and final answer must be found to the question of sin.  The demands of His holiness and righteousness are such that every sin must be responded to.  Only Christ is adequate for this situation.  He it is who has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”, Hebrews 9:26.  To put away in that verse means to abolish.  As far as God is concerned, and in this context, sin is not.  No charge can henceforth be made against God that He has ignored the presence of sin.  On the contrary, He has taken account of each and every sin through His Son’s work at Calvary.  John wrote, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”, 1 John 2:2.  Of course “the sins of” is in italics in that verse.  But the words must be supplied because they are implied in the “ours” of the previous statement.  If John had written “not for us only”, then the translation could have continued “but also for the whole world”.  Since, however, he uses the possessive pronoun “ours”, which shows he is writing about the sins people possess, then “the sins of” must be inserted.  Now the apostle will write later that “we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness”, 1 John 5:19.  He sees mankind divided into two clearly defined sections, believers, and the whole world. 
John not only clearly distinguishes between believers and the world, but just as clearly states that Christ is the propitiatory offering for both classes.  That Christ became the propitiation for the whole world does not mean that the whole world will be saved, since propitiation is only made good to a person when he believes.  It does mean, however, that no charge may be levelled against God for not making provision for men.  Gospel-blessing may be genuinely offered to all men, for there is abundant provision for all. 

2.    God’s dealings are vindicated.
In Old Testament times God blessed men by reckoning them righteous when they believed in Him.  Romans 3:24,25 indicates that the propitiatory work of Christ vindicates God for so acting.  In can be seen now that God was blessing anticipatively, crediting believers with the results of Christ’s work before they had been achieved.  He also remitted, or passed over, their sins in forbearance, holding back from judging those sins in virtue of what His Son would do at Calvary. 

3.    God’s glory is fully displayed.
There is no attribute of God which has not been fully expressed at Calvary.  This is why the apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement, Romans 5:11.  Atonement in this verse means reconciliation, one of the effects of propitiation.  By His sacrificial work at Calvary Christ has brought the character of God out into full and glorious display.  Those who are brought by faith into the good of that work are enabled to behold that display, and rejoice in it.  Would we know Divine holiness, or righteousness, or love, or wrath, or any other aspect of the Person of God?  Then we must look to the cross for the sight of it.  We shall not be disappointed.

4.    God’s mercy is available.
The repentant sinner who called upon God to be merciful to him, is the first person in the New Testament to use the word propitious- “God be merciful to me on the basis of propitiation”.  He went down to his house justified, Luke 18:13,14. Under the terms of the New Covenant, God promises that “I will be merciful (propitious) to their unrighteousness, Hebrews 8:12. The mercy-seat was the same width and breadth as the ark, telling us that the ark (the person of Christ) and the mercy-seat, (the work of Christ), were perfectly matched. But we are not told the thickness of the gold of the mercy-seat, for there is an infinite supply of mercy for those who believe, enough to keep them secure for all eternity.

5.    God’s forgiveness is assured. 
In Hebrews 10:5-8 we have the Spirit of Christ in the psalmist telling of His work of sacrifice. Then we have the Spirit’s testimony telling us of the results of that work, Hebrews 10:15-17.  God promises emphatically that He will not remember the sins and iniquities of His people any more, since He brought those sins into remembrance at Calvary, and Christ dealt with them effectively there. “No more” means in no way, nor at any time.  Note that God pledges to positively not remember, not negatively to forget. We may forget, and then remember again, whereas God promises never to remember for ever.

6.    God’s people are preserved.
The Lord Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene after He was risen, and instructed her to tell the brethren that He was about to “ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God”, John 20:17.  Thus He would still be the link between His people and God, maintaining them in His dual role of Advocate with the Father, and High Priest in things pertaining to God. 
The basis of His advocacy is two-fold.  His person, for He is Jesus Christ the righteous, and His work, for He is the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:1,2.  The apostle John was concerned about believers sinning.  The sins of believers are just as obnoxious to God, and just as deserving of wrath, as those of unbelievers.  But we are “saved from wrath through Him”, Romans 5:9, as He pleads the merits of His work.  He is, says John, the propitiatory offering for our sins.  Not was, but is.  In other words, the one who acts for us in heaven as our advocate, is the very same one who hung upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. 
He is also our High priest.  The language of Hebrews 2:17,18 is as follows, “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted”.  These verses form a bridge between chapter two, with its emphasis on the reasons why the Lord Jesus took manhood, and the way in which Israel were tempted in the wilderness.  Note in particular the word “for” which begins verse 18.  Too little attention has been paid to this word, and hence the connection between verses 17 and 18 is often lost.  The reason why we have a high priest who is merciful and faithful is that He has been here in manhood and suffered being tempted.  When His people pass through temptation, then He undertakes to deal with their cause.  Because He has been here, and has been tempted in all points like as we are, He is able to help us when we cry to Him for help.  The word for succour is used by the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15:25 when she cried out, “Lord, help me”.  He is able to point us to the ways in which He overcame in the wilderness temptation, and thus we are strengthened to resist temptation.
But what if we fall, and sin?  In that case He comes to our aid in another way.  We see it typified negatively in Leviticus 10:16-20.  The priests were commanded to eat the sin-offerings, if the blood thereof had not been brought into the sanctuary.  But at the end of the consecration of the priesthood, Moses was angry on God’s behalf, for the priests had failed in this.  Moses said, “God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord”, Leviticus 10:17.  One of the functions of priesthood, then, was to personally identify with the sin-offering by eating it, and by so doing bear the iniquity of the congregation, taking responsibility for their failure, but doing so safeguarded by the fact that a sin-offering had been accepted by God.  As they did this the scripture explicitly says they made atonement for the people, Leviticus 10:17.  We see then what the writer to the Hebrews means when he talks of Christ making reconciliation or propitiation for the sins of the people.  He is indicating that Christ personally identifies Himself with His sin-offering work at Calvary, and thus takes responsibility for the failures of His people under temptation.  This is acceptable to God, and His people are preserved, despite their failure.

7.    God’s purpose for the earth is furthered. 
When Adam the head of the first creation fell, all creation had to be subjected to vanity, or else a fallen man would have been head over an unfallen creation.  Now that He has obtained rights over the earth by His death, the Lord Jesus is able to bring in new conditions for God.  He can now righteously deliver the present creation from the bondage of corruption into which the fall of man brought it, Romans 8:19-23.  Colossians 1:20 assures us that on the basis of the blood of His cross, all things, whether in earth or in heaven, can be reconciled to God, for that alienation between God and His creation which took place at the Fall, can be remedied.  Notice it is things, not people, that are spoken of in that verse as being reconciled.

8.    God’s intention to create a new heavens and new earth can be realised. 
Unless the sin which has marred the first creation is dealt with, God cannot righteously introduce an eternal earth and heavens, for it would not have been evident that He was able to deal with the fall of the first creation.  Having dealt with it through Christ, He is able to bring in new things that will never be spoiled.  Daniel was told that Messiah the Prince would bring in “everlasting righteousness”, Daniel 9:24, and this He will do, on the basis of His death.  It only remains for God to announce “Behold, I make all things new”, Revelation 21:5, and a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”, shall be established, 2 Peter 3:13.  At last there will be a settled and congenial place for righteous to dwell in, after all the turmoil brought in by Adam’s sin.  At last those profound words spoken by John the Baptist will be fully brought to pass, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, John 1:29.

Returning to 1 John chapter 2:

2:3-11    Christ’s life shows us how to love:

THREE TESTS FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST:

First test, verses 3-5. He that saith “I know Him”.  Those who pass the test find God’s love reaches its goal in their hearts, verse 5.
Second test, verses 8-9 He that saith he abideth in Him.  Those who pass this test walk as Christ walked, verse 6.
Third test, verses 9-11.  He that saith he is in the light.  Those who pass this test love their brothers, and do not stumble them, verse 10.

First test, verses 3-5.        He that saith “I know Him”.  Those who pass the test find God’s love reaches its goal in their hearts, verse 5. 

2:3  And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments.

And hereby we do know that we know Him- we learn from John 17:3 that life eternal consists in knowing the true God, and the one who came that He might be fully known, even Jesus Christ.  When a person is born of God, the life of God is imparted, and with it the capacity to know God.  So having applied tests to show whether his readers are true believers or not, the apostle now sets out to tell true believers how they may know for sure that they know God in a meaningful way.
If we keep His commandments- a very slight knowledge of God will tell us that He has claims over us, and genuine believers will want to submit to those claims.  In John 17:2 the Lord Jesus contrasted men in the flesh with those who have eternal life.  The life of men in the flesh is the expression of the life of Adam, whereas the life of true believers is the expression of the life of God as seen in Christ incarnate.  Now Adam transgressed God’s simple command to him.  God commanded him to not eat of the tree, and he did.  Disobedience brought death, and men demonstrate that they are spiritually dead  by constantly disobeying God; in fact the apostle Paul calls them children of disobedience in Ephesians 2:2.  The true believer will earnestly desire to comply with all that God commands.  After all, faith is an act of obedience, Romans 1:6; 16:26.

2:4  He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

He that saith, I know Him- up to 2:2 the apostle had used the formula “if we say”, involving anyone, including himself.  Now he is more specific, and thinks of those who profess to be true believers, and therefore claim to know God. 
These people say various things in this section:
Verse 4        He that saith, I know Him.
Verse 6        He that saith he abideth on Him.
Verse 9        He that saith he is in the light.

And keepeth not His commandments- to John, not keeping God’s commands is a sign of the absence of spiritual life, for faith and obedience go together, as we have seen.  God cannot deny Himself, 2 Timothy 2:13, so the life we have from Him cannot deny itself by disobeying Him.

Is a liar, and the truth is not in him- not only is the statement “I know Him” a lie, but it demonstrates that the truth regarding God and His nature and demands has not penetrated within, and found its home in the soul.  The profession is on the lip, but the reality is not displayed in the life. 

2:5  But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.

But whoso keepeth His word- the word for keep involves preserving and not breaking.  The nation of Israel failed to keep God’s commandments.  Even whilst Moses was at the top of Sinai receiving the commandments, the nation was at the bottom of the mountain breaking them by worshipping the golden calf.  No wonder Moses broke the tables of stone, for thereby he illustrated what the people had done by their rebellion. 
What is kept is His word, meaning the sum total of all God requires of us.  We are not to pick and choose what we obey, but are to abide by all God says.  This the Lord Jesus did, for He could say “I do always those things that please Him”, John 8:29, and He is our example, as the next verse will say.
In him verily is the love of God perfected- God loves His people so much that He desires them to be His obedient children.  When we obey all He commands us, then the love of God will have reached its goal, which is the idea behind the word “perfected”.
Hereby know we that we are in Him- not only is God gratified by us reaching the goal He has for us, but our hearts are assured too, for obedience is a sign that we are “in God”, as opposed to being in the world.  We are enfolded in God’s love and purpose, instead of being entangled in the world.  To be in Him means to have a vital life-relationship with God.

Second test, verses 6-8        He that saith he abideth in Him.  Those who pass this test walk as Christ walked, verse 6.

2:6  He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

He that saith he abideth in Him- to abide in God is to consciously and willingly remain involved in all that God is and does.  It is the settled place that only a true believer can occupy. 
Ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked- the walk of a person is the way they pass through life, whether as an unbeliever walking after the course of this world, Ephesians 2:2, or a believer walking with God.  We are under obligation to walk in a certain way, and it is described here as “as He walked”.  Notice first of all the way in which the apostle does not hesitate to use the pronouns “Him” and “He” both of God and Christ, without telling us to whom he is referring.  This is testimony to the Deity of Christ.  John was so convinced of the equality of the Son and the Father that he calls both, at times, simply “Him”, or as here, “He”.
The way in which the Lord Jesus passed through this world is the pattern for us.  As the apostle Peter wrote, “Christ also hath suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth”, 1 Peter 2:21,22.  John tells us of two of John the Baptist’s disciples who, when he exhorted them to look upon Jesus as He walked, immediately began to do so; but they did more than simply observe, for they began to follow Him, thus walking where He walked, John 1:36,37.  But we need to not only walk where He walked, (remembering that He did not walk after the counsel of the ungodly, not stand in the way of sinners, Psalm 1:1), but also walk as He walked, passing through this world in the same manner as He did.  In this way the inward reality of abiding in God is expressed in an outward way, to God’s glory.  This is only possible because we have the life of God within us.

2:7  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you- John has nothing to add to what had already been given through the ministry of the Lord Jesus.  He does not set out some new and fresh way of pleasing God, for the way marked out by Christ never loses its relevance.
But an old commandment which ye had from the beginning- the latter expression can be taken in three ways.  The beginning either refers to the beginning of their Christian experience; or the beginning of the public manifestation of Christ as eternal life personified; or the beginning of Christ’s Upper Room ministry, in which He prepared His own for His absence, and exhorted them to love one another.  In practical terms all three ideas are true, for what they had from when they were first born again is what was from the beginning of Christ’s ministry as to its expression in Him, and from the upper room ministry as far as being formally required of them is concerned.  The commandment was therefore about sixty years old by the time the apostle wrote these words, hence the adjective old can be used of it.
The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning- this would refer to the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”, John 13:34.  It is true that the law of Moses commanded men to love their neighbours, but never before was the carrying out of that command given perfect expression, as has now happened in the life of Christ.  The standard is not now a command written in stone, but the living example of Christ in His life.  By “word” the apostle means a statement expressing a thought, in this case, that we should love.  Only because we have eternal life can we, in any measure, love one another as He has loved us.

2:8  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

Again, a new commandment I write unto you- the word “again” would signify “on the other hand”.  On one hand the commandment is old because Christ gave it decades before, but on the other hand it is still fresh and new, as all His words are.  His words are “spirit and life”, and the Spirit quickens them, John 6:63.  The commandment has not lost its power and its point.
Which thing is true in Him and in you- there is a continuous line of believers who follow the example of Christ and obey His command to love one another; so what is true in Him, as a historical fact, (hence the “is”, not “was”), is still true, but in the children of God.  The command is true in Him, that is, is a reality with Him, and it is true in us, since the life of the God who is love is in us.
Because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth- the reason the commandment is a reality in both Christ and the people of God is that He has come to express all that God is, and through Him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is seen.  As far as believers are concerned, and as far as God’s purpose is concerned, the darkness that Adam brought in by his disobedience is over, and the light of the person of Christ dispels the darkness of ignorance about God. 
No doubt John is thinking back to the upper room scene, when Judas went out, and his comment in his gospel had been, “It was night”, John 13:30.  As soon as Judas went out, the spirit of Christ was free to speak of glory, verses 31 and 32.  Then in verse 34 comes the word alluded to in verse 7 of this chapter, about loving one another.  The glory of Christ is a great incentive to love one another, for part of His glory is the splendour of His love.

Third test, verse 9-11.      He that saith he is in the light.  Those who pass this test love their brothers, and do not stumble them, verse 10.

2:9  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

He that saith he is in the light- the word brother is used here from the perspective of the false professor, who claims believers as his brothers.  By profession Judas was “in the light”, walking with Christ for those days of public ministry, no doubt enabled to work miracles, and to the other apostles apparently one of them.  When the Lord said “one of you shall betray Me” no disciple thought immediately of Judas, but rather looked within their own hearts, saying, “Is it I?”  John 13:22; Matthew 26:22.
And hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now- it is difficult for us to understand how Judas could stoop so low as to express his hatred of Christ by betraying Him, especially as he did it with a kiss, the sign of affection, but so it is.  It helps us a little to remember that the Lord said, “One of you is a devil”, John 70, and also that Satan entered into Judas after having put it into his heart to betray Him, John 13:2,27.  Just as love and light go together, so darkness and hatred do as well.  How solemn that Judas is in the darkness “even until now”, for nothing has changed since he plunged into perdition.  His state is eternal, as will be the state of all who go into eternity hating Christ.  But “even until now” does leave the door open for a change for them who are still upon the earth.  The hatred would stop the moment they believed.

2:10  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light- those who truly love their fellow-believers with the sort of love Christ loved them with, (therefore a love that is neither sentimental nor emotional, but spiritual), can be said to be at home in the light of God’s presence.  That light does not expose them as traitors, but as believers.  They abide in the light for they find it congenial, and will never go into the blackness of darkness as Judas did, Jude 13.
And there is none occasion of stumbling in him- unlike Judas, who prepared a trap for Christ in the darkness of Gethsemane, the true believer will only do those things that encourage and strengthen their fellow-brethren in the family of God.

2:11  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness- he who does this, but at the same time hates, shows that he is still in the darkness of ignorance about God.  The light that Christ came to bring has not affected him, and consequently, not possessing eternal life, he does not possess the knowledge of God, for to have eternal life is to know God, John 17:3. 
And walketh in darkness- as he does not really follow Christ, who is the light of the life of the believer, John 8:12, he walks in the darkness that Adam plunged the world into when he sinned.  It is not just that there is hatred in the heart, but his ignorance of true love is expressed in the way he passes through this world.
And knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes- we are familiar with the idea of a light blinding, for it happened to Paul on the Damascus Road, Acts 9:18, 22:11.  But it is also possible to be blinded by darkness.  There are certain deep-sea fish which live in the darkness, and although they have eyes, they are blind; they do not need to see, for there is nothing to see in the darkness.  So men have become so used to living in the darkness that ignorance of God brings, that they have no capacity to see for themselves.  Of course, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness in the beginning can shine in their hearts, 2 Corinthians 4:4,6.  Because of this blindness, men are neither aware of the way to walk with God now, nor are they aware of their destiny, which is the blackness of darkness for ever, Jude 13.  “But the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more until the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble”, Proverbs 4:18,19.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER 2, VERSES 12-27

2:12  I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

2:13  I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

2:14  I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

2:18  Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

2:20  But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

2:21  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

2:22  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

2:23  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

2:24  Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

2:25  And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.

2:26  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

2:27  But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

3:12-27        The family of God is addressed according to maturity, after the general statement of verse 12.

THREE STAGES OF MATURITY IN THE FAMILY OF GOD:

Verse 13(a)  First word to fathers
Verse 13(b) First word to young men.
Verse 13(c) First word to infants.
   
Verse 14(a) Second word to fathers.
Verses 14(b)-17 Second word to young men.
Verses 18-27  Second word to infants.

GENERAL STATEMENT TO ALL IN THE FAMILY OF GOD:

2:12  I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

I write unto you, little children- as he brings this section to an end, the apostle reassures those that he has tested in every way, and confidently writes to them as children in the family of God.  In the next verses he will distinguish between infants, young men and fathers in the family of God, but here all believers, whatever their stage of maturity, are classed as little or dear children in the family.  In this verse, what is true of one is true of them all.
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake- in chapter one sins were forgiven because of the blood of Christ.  Here, it is because of the value of His name to God.  By His name is meant all that He is in His character and person.  In tabernacle times, not only was the blood of propitiation sprinkled on the mercy seat each Day of Atonement, but some incense was laid up before the testimony so as to be in the presence of God, Exodus 30:36.  The incense represents the virtues and graces of Christ.  So both the work of Christ and the Person of Christ were prefigured there.  Now we have the reality of which these things were a foreshadowing, for the Son of God is in the presence of God in all the value of His work, and also in all the value of His sinless life down here.  And not just His sinless life, but His positive graces and virtues.  And it is for the sake of such a Person that our sins are forgiven.  We could never be forgiven on the basis of our person and work.  To be forgiven because of Him is the very best way to be forgiven.

Verse 13(a)        First word to fathers
Verse 13(b)        First word to young men.
Verse 13(c)        First word to infants.

2:13  I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.  I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.  I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning- here is a remarkable testimony to the Deity of Christ.  He that is from the beginning is the Son of God, as chapter 1 has told us.  And it is the knowledge of this one that has enabled the fathers to grow to the state of maturity they have.  So He cannot be less than God in any sense, since the advance from immaturity to maturity comes about by knowing Him.  The little children in their immaturity know the Father; those who are mature know the Son.
I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one- these have advanced to the point where the wicked one has attacked them because they sought to know Christ better, (which thing the Devil hates), and they have overcome his wicked attempts to side-track them.  How they did it is told us in the second word to them in verse 14.
I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father- the apostle will have much more to say to the little children in verses 18-27, but he is content for now to record that they know the Father.  This is a blessed position to be in, for it shows they have eternal life, and that they are in the family of God, and have the potential to grow into young men, and then into fathers.

Verse 14(a)             Second word to fathers.
Verses 14(b)-17    Second word to young men.

2:14  I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.  I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning- here is further testimony to the Deity of Christ, for once a person can be said to know Christ, there is nothing more advanced to know, hence what is said the first time is said again to the fathers, without addition.  In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3.  No wonder the apostle Paul exclaimed, “That I may know Him”, Philippians 3:10.  It is well for us if we have the same desire.  The more we ponder the gospel records, the more we shall appreciate Him, and know Him in a deeper way.  The man who brought his meal offering was to take out a handful and it was placed on the altar for God.  The greater his grasp of the offering, the more there was for God.  So the greater our grasp of the One who is typified by the meal offering, the more we shall have to offer to God, the meal offering representing the life of Christ down here.
I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one- the secret of the growth of the young men is now told us.  It centres around the fact that they overcome the wicked one, hence the apostle mentions this again.  But how did they do it?  The answer is two-fold.  First, it was because they were strong.  They were spiritually fit and healthy.  The second answer tells us why this was so.  It was because the word of God abode in them.  The word of God had a settled place in their hearts and lives.  They did not relegate it to a small part of their lives, but allowed it to govern them in everything.  In this way the wicked one’s attempts to divert them from becoming fathers was thwarted. 

2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Love not the world- these young men should not become complacent, however.  If the Devil does not succeed by a frontal attack on the souls of these young men, he may seek to entice them by the allurements of the world, which they may think has nothing to do with him.  The world, however, as presently constituted, is geared to the advancement of the Devil’s interests, and not God’s.  Satan is the god of this world, religiously, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the prince of this world politically, John 14:30.  He is working behind the scenes to frustrate the purpose of God, and one of God’s main purposes is to encourage believers in the knowledge of Himself and His Son.  The world is so constructed that it hinders that process; we should therefore be resolved not to love it, but to hate it for what it does and also what it represents.
Neither the things that are in the world- not only is the world in general and in principle opposed to God and His interests, but also the individual things in the world are also.  There is nothing good in the world, but there are, of course, many good things in the earth God made, even though they are spoiled by sin, Romans 8:20,21.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him- so opposed to God is the world that love of it becomes a test of Christian reality.  No true believer will say that he loves the world that cast out and crucified his Saviour.  He may hanker after and indulge in some of the things that the world contains, but in principle his life is opposed to the life of the world.  Since the Father and the world are opposed, especially because of what it did to His Son, so the love of the world and the love of the Father are opposed also.

2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

For all that is in the world- we now learn why the apostle is so forthright about the world.
The lust of the flesh- the world is full of people.  People, moreover, who have no Divine life in their souls.  The Lord Jesus contrasted them with those who eternal life, in His prayer to His Father, John 17:2.  Man in the flesh is weak, failing, and sinful, an easy prey to the Devil.  He supplies for them everything and anything they desire, for he knows this will keep them from considering God.
And the lust of the eyes- there are many in the world who are taken up with intellectual matters, who are concerned about ideas, philosophies, and suchlike, which could not be described as the lust of the eyes, but they are, nonetheless, sinful.  There are many others, however, who are absorbed with visible and tangible things.  They may not even be sinful in themselves, but they become sinful if they detract from interest in Divine things.  There are many whose parents went to church regularly on Sunday mornings, and took their children with them.  Those children are now grown up and have children of their own, and they take them for nature walks instead of seeking after God.  Thus seen things become sinful, and to go in for them to the exclusion of God is lustful.  Of course there are many other seen things which are sinful through and through.
And the pride of life- when Satan tempted Eve he held out to her the prospect of being as gods, Genesis 3:5.  He did not appear to try to drag her down, (although he did, in fact, do so), but present her with an opportunity to advance herself and rise higher.  Thus it was that pride played a part in the first sin committed by humans, and they have tended to pride ever since.  The world is geared to pander to this pride, and the desire to out-do one’s neighbour in some way is very prevalent.  Pride, in fact, was the sin of the Lucifer when he said, “I will be like the Most High”, Isaiah 14:12-14.  The apostle Paul makes it clear that pride is the reason why the Devil is condemned, 1 Timothy 3:6.
Is not of the Father, but is of the world- so this world system, with its lust and pride, is not sourced in the Father.  He is not responsible for the evils that are manifest in the world; they come from the one who, as the prince of this world, controls all that goes on, and as the god of this world, controls its opposition to God.  All that is in the world is of the world, so it is a closed system, self-generating, self-replicating, self-sufficient, and having no time for the things of heaven and Christ.

2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

And the world passeth away- the current world-system is destined to soon be swept away when the Lord Jesus comes to judge and make war.  He will be like the stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which shall smite the whole of Gentile world-dominion at its base, and destroy it utterly, and replace it with His kingdom of righteousness, Daniel 2:44,45.
And the lust thereof- lust and pride will have no welcome place in Christ’s kingdom, and men will be occupied with better things as they serve the King.  The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.  Isaiah speaks of the Day of the Lord in terms of destroying all the high things that men think themselves to be, and all the high things they build in their pride.  His words were:

“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty,
and upon every one that is lifted up;
and he shall be brought low:
And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
And upon all the high mountains,
and upon all the hills that are lifted up,
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
and the haughtiness of men shall be made low:
and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day”.
Isaiah 2:12-17.

But he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever- far from being swept away when Christ comes to judge, the true believer will abide, and continue into eternity.  The will of God rather than the lusts of the flesh will be his occupation for ever.  God has begotten His children by His own will, James 1:18, and they delight in that will, because the life they have from God enables them to do so.

Verses 18-27        Second word to infants.

2:18  Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

Little children- the apostle now turns from his word to the young men to addressing the infants in the family of God.  If they are going to mature into young men, they will need information and warning about the things that help and that hinder.  The first word to them assured them that as those who know the Father, they had eternal life.  Now they need to preserve that life and allow it to flourish.
It is the last time- John is justified in saying that it is the last time, (as opposed to the last times, the end days just prior to the return of Christ), because Satan has been deceiving men about God for thousands of years, and as the apostle Paul said, “the night is far spent, the day is at hand”, Romans 13:12, and also that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work”, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.  That this is so is evident from the presence of antichrists even in John’s day.
And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come- the Lord Jesus warned of false christs and false prophets, Matthew 24:24, and Paul taught the Thessalonians about the coming antichrist.  We must not think of antichrist as merely a prominent political figure of the end times. Satan knows that if he is going to gain universal homage he must pander to the religious side of man.  So it is that the primary object of antichrist will be to attract the worship of the world, for in so doing, since he will be Satan’s representative, worship will be given to Satan.  See Appendix 1 for more on the antichrist.
Even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time- since John’s definition of antichrist has to do with the denial of the Father and the Son, any false teacher who promotes the denial of Christian truth is antichristian in character, and merits the name antichrist.  Since there were many such teachers in John’s day, he was justified in saying that the features that will prevail when the Antichrist rules the world are seen already, and therefore, in principle, last-time conditions are already here.

2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

They went out from us, but they were not of us- it is startling to learn that these antichrists had once been amongst the people of God, and even companying with the apostles.  But then, so had Judas, and he is characterised by the fact that he went out of the Upper Room to betray the Lord, thus showing he was not in sympathy with what was being taught in that room. 
For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us- John sees continuance in Divine things in company with the apostles as the test of genuineness.  His characteristic words are “abide”, “continue” and “remain”, all translations of the same word.  At the beginning, those who believed “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”, Acts 2:42, and John will later say that “he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us”, 1 John 4:6.
But they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us- Adam was driven out from the presence of God, but Cain went of his own will.  The word “all” refers to the total number of those who went out, who were not “of us”, had no sympathy with what the apostles taught.  All that went out were not of us, declares the apostle.  It was not that some who went out were in sympathy with the apostles, and some were not.  Rather, all who went out were not “of us”.

2:20  But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

But ye have an unction from the Holy One- the word unction is the same as anointing, and this anointing is said to be from the Holy One, namely God Himself.  Just as Jesus of Nazareth was anointed on the banks of the Jordan, marking Him out as the Christ, or Messiah, (see Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38), so every believer, without exception, has been anointed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said, “Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts”, 2 Corinthians 1:21,22.  We read in Isaiah 11:1-3 that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the Messiah, and by this power He would show wisdom, understanding, and discernment.  So it is with the children of God, for they have been anointed so that they might know the things of God, as the apostle goes on to explain.  It is important to notice that it is the infants in the family of God who are being addressed here, not the mature fathers.  The anointing of the Spirit is not something that comes only after maturity is reached.  On the contrary, it is one of the principal means whereby that maturity is attained.  It is encouraging, but also sobering, to notice that the believer is anointed by the same One as anointed Christ, and with the same Spirit.
And ye know all things- this is a relative statement.  It is not that the infants knew everything there was to know about the faith, because then they would be fathers and not simply infants.  The point is that they knew all things it was necessary to know so as to be able to recognise the teaching of the antichrists for what it was, namely, false and therefore misleading.  The knowledge that is needed to come to faith in Christ is also the knowledge that enables a new believer to recognise error, for the Spirit gives discernment.
Notice how two ideas are being brought together here.  First, the antichrists are “anti-Christ”, meaning they are hostile to the fact that He is God’s anointed.  Second, God, who anointed Christ, also anoints His children, in order that the effect of the antichrists might be neutralised.

2:21  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth- John wrote his gospel so that sinners might know the truth about the Lord Jesus, John 20:30,31, but he is now writing to believers, and does not need to repeat the truth he set out in his gospel.  They have come to know and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the very truth that the antichrists deny.
But because ye know it- having said why he did not write, John now gives two reasons why he does.  First, because they know the truth; that is, they are true believers, and therefore have an interest in the truth, not only to continue believing it, but to defend it.
And that no lie is of the truth- the second reason John writes is because these infants in the family of God know that truth and lies are mutually exclusive; they can never be combined.  Truth is that which corresponds to reality, and lies are a denial of that reality; in this context, the reality of the person of Christ.  They also know that no lie can issue forth out of the truth; the lies the antichrists spread abroad in their teaching have not come from within the body of Christian doctrine, for their source is elsewhere.  That source is Satan himself, for “he is a liar, and the father of it”, as the Lord Jesus said, John 8:44.

2:22  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  John is very direct here, and highlights the main lie that the antichrists promote.  The truth about the anointing of the Lord Jesus, and what it signifies, is the deciding factor for John.  He will tell us why this is so in the rest of the verse.
He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son- John does not record the baptism of the Lord Jesus.  What he does do, however, is record the effect it had on John the Baptist, as is told us in the following passage:

“And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel therefore am I come baptising with water.  And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him.  And I knew Him not:  but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He that baptiseth with the Holy Spirit.  And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God”, John 1:31-34. 

So for the apostle John, and for John the Baptist, the descent of the Spirit upon the Lord Jesus was a sure sign that He is the Son of God.  To be “anti-anointing” therefore, is to contradict the significance of Christ’s anointing, and thereby deny the Father who did it, and the Son who is marked out by it.  This results in a denial of His Deity, and the special relationship He has with the Father.  This is to deny the proper relationship between the Father and the Son, and is contrary to the faith.

2:23  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father- there might be some who would protest at this, and resent John’s forthright assessment of the situation.  He is adamant, however, that to deny the Son, (the word deny meaning to contradict), by denying the significance of His anointing, is to not be a true believer.  There is no middle ground, where a person may claim to be a child of God, and therefore have Him as Father, and yet deny the Son, for the Son has a unique relationship with the Father, and this is acknowledged by those who are genuine believers.  The Father will not enter into a relationship with those who deny His Son His proper place.
He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also- the reverse is the case, for to recognise the Son for who He is, as set out in the Word of God, is to be born of God, and therefore to have God as Father.  It is God’s will that all should honour the Son as they honour the Father, John 5:23, and this either happens willingly at conversion, or unwillingly at the Great White Throne, Philippians 2:9-11.

2:24  Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning.  If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning- the truth as to the person of Christ, which initially was set out by Himself as recorded in the gospel of John, (see especially chapter 5), will know no development.  Whether we think that the beginning mentioned here is the beginning of Christ’s ministry, or the beginning of the Christian life, the exhortation is the same.  We are to abide in the truth about His person.  The rest of the epistle is written to encourage us in this in various ways.
If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father- this is virtually a definition of what it means to abide in the Son and the Father, for the words “abide”, “remain”, and “continue”, as used in this verse, mean the same.  So if the truth abides in the sense that it has a settled place in our hearts, then we ourselves are said to abide in the one to whom the truth relates. 

2:25  And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.

And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life- this sentence tells us several things.  First, that when the Lord Jesus announced, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24, He was making a promise.  Second, because that promise is made by the Son of God, it is certain to be honoured, therefore to possess eternal life is to be secure for eternity, hence John is justified in saying that the true believer will abide.  Third, that those who have eternal life have the life of God, and therefore cannot deny the truth about God, or else it would be possible for God to deny Himself, and this He cannot do, 2 Timothy 2:13.  The apostle hints at these things in this verse so that we may be assured of the things we have believed, because we live in a world that is hostile and antagonistic towards them, and against those who believe them.

2:26  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you- to seduce means to lead astray.  The antichrists that abound in the world are false shepherds, and they seek to lead believers astray from the path of loyalty to Christ.  One of the titles of Antichrist is idol shepherd, Zechariah 11:17, so it is no surprise that his minions have the same character. 
To change the figure of speech, the word “seduce” comes from the verb “planoo, to wander”, from which we derive the word planet.  The wise seaman plots his course by the “fixed” stars.  It is only foolish sea-goers who go by the planets, which wander through the sky.  The apostate antichrists are “wandering stars”, Jude 13, and to be guided by them is to be in danger of spiritual shipwreck.

2:27  But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you- the promise of the Lord Jesus was that the Holy Spirit would abide with the believer for ever, John 14:16.  It is significant that the word “abide” was used in that statement, since it is the theme the apostle is pursuing here.  Since the Spirit abides, the believer abides, and since only believers have the Spirit, this becomes a mark of the genuine believer.  So that there is no such person as a believer who does not abide in Christ.  Nonetheless all need to be exhorted to abide, so as to be in the good of the place God has given us.  Note that the Spirit is said to abide in the believer, despite the fact that the believer is said to be anointed in this passage.  We might think that He is simply upon the believer, but the apostle assures us here that He is within as well. 
And ye need not that any man teach you- since the Spirit abides, the believer will never need any other teacher than He.  By “any man” the apostle means any false teacher, for the Spirit does distribute the genuine teaching gift to men, but only believing men.  There will never be a time when a false teacher will be able to come along and advance the believer in Christian things, for he is Divinely provided for in this area.
But as the same anointing teacheth you of all things- we shall never have a different Spirit within us to the one we received when we were born of God.  Because He is a person of the Godhead, He is able to enlighten us with regard to all Divine things. 

The Lord Jesus said, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth:  for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.  He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you”, John 16:13-15. 

So the persons of the Godhead all move in their respective ways to ensure that the children of God are fully informed.
And is truth- God calls Himself the God of truth, Isaiah 65:16, and the word for God is Elohim, a plural word.  Each person of the Godhead therefore can be said to be truth.  Not just truthful, although that is the case, but rather, truth finds its full expression in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  In this place the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit, since it is He that teaches the believer.
And is no lie- we may rest assured that Divine persons will never lie to us, for God cannot lie, as the apostle Paul assures us in 2 Timothy 2:13.  As the source and standard of truth, God cannot deny Himself by uttering a lie.  So the Lord Jesus described the Spirit as the Spirit of truth, not only because He imparts truth, but also because He is incapable of telling a lie.  Of course this is in stark contrast to the antichrists, who lie to men as they deny Christian things.  John has already written, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?” verse 22.
And even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him- the word for “even as” in this place is kathos, which means “in the degree that”.  So we are not to be complacent in this matter.  The apostle has not been assuring the believers of Divine help in the advance into Divine things so that we may sit back and not apply ourselves.  After all, eternal life has been given to us not only that we might initially know God and Jesus Christ, John 17:3, but in order that we might get to know them better.  And this is what the apostle is encouraging by his use of this particular word.  It is not that we can only be said to abide after a certain stage of maturity has been reached, but rather that the degree to which we consciously abide in Him is linked to the degree we progress in Divine things.

The apostle now returns to addressing the whole of the family of God.  The rest of the epistle is taken up with the development of various themes that have been introduced during his word to the infants in the family.  If they are going to grow, and if young men are going to become fathers, and if fathers are going to continue to be a help to those less mature in the faith, then there are other things the apostle must write.  The themes he has mentioned in verses 18-27 are as follows:
1.    The coming of antichrist.
2.    The presence of many antichrists already.
3.    The anointing of believers by the Holy Spirit.
4.    The denial of the Father and the Son by evil teachers.
5.    The need to abide in Him.

The first theme is developed in 2:28-3:6.  The manifestation of Christ, by which He will destroy the antichrist, is brought in by the apostle to emphasise three features that were found in Christ, and which need to be found in us, in view of the fact that we shall be manifested with Him.

Antichrist shall come, as stated in 2:18, but so shall Christ come- to destroy him.

THREE FEATURES OF CHRIST TO IMITATE IN VIEW OF HIS COMING:

First feature  Verses 28-29  He is righteous. We should practice righteousness.
Second feature Verses 3:1-3 He is pure.  We should purify ourselves.
Third feature Verses 4-6  He is sinless. We should not sin.

If we strive to display these features, the apostles will not be embarrassed by us as we all come with Christ at His manifestation.  He is coming to be glorified in His saints, 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER 2, VERSES 28-29.

2:28  And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

2:29  If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him. 

2:28  And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

And now, little children- the apostle now reverts back to the general word for children in the family.  Having addressed the infants from verses 18-27, he is now speaking of all the members of the family of God.  No matter how they have progressed, whether they are young men or fathers, or just infants, they all need the instruction of the rest of the epistle.
Abide in Him- this is the vital need of every child of God, for the antichrists abroad will seek to unsettle and move him away from the truth.  This is to be counteracted by a conscious, active and spiritual resolve to remain true to Christ and the doctrines concerning Him.  The rest of the epistle is constructed around this need to abide.
That, when He shall appear- there is reference here to the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth, for the word translated “appear” has to do with a person being manifested.  There are two other main words used for the coming of Christ.  One is “parousia”, which simply means He is going to be present after a period of absence.  That presence may be in the air to meet His saints as they rise to meet Him, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, or His presence as He descends to the earth to judge and set up His kingdom.  The context must decide in each case, for He is not only absent from His people but also absent from the earth.  Then there is the word “apokalupsis”, which means an unveiling after having been hidden from sight.  This is His coming to earth, as described in the Book of Revelation, (hence that book is sometimes called “The Apocalypse”).
We may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming- John has spoken of the Antichrist in verse 18, but by His manifestation the Lord Jesus will destroy him, as is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.  When He thus comes to reign, the saints shall come with Him, the apostles included, of course.  The apostle now gives one of the reasons why he is anxious that we abide in Christ.  He and his fellow-apostles do not wish to be embarrassed when they come with Christ, when they find that the children of God they sought to teach had not made progress in Divine things, and hence were not so honoured in that day as they might have been.  The apostle Paul expressed a similar thought, but from the other side, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”  And in his second epistle to them he said of Christ that “He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, (for our testimony among you was believed), in that day”, 2 Thessalonians 1:10.  That day being a reference to the coming of Christ to earth to judge.  How embarrassing for the apostle John if some of his pupils had been led astray by the spirit of antichrist, and had not made so much progress in Divine things as they might have done.  The apostle had no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in truth, 3 John 4, so he was sensitive to lack of progress on their part.

2:29  If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him. 

If ye know that He is righteous- the apostle highlights three features that marked the Lord Jesus at His first coming, and they are, “He is righteous”, “He is pure”, 3:3, and “In Him is no sin”, 3:5.  Those who have the life of God will appreciate these features of Christ and will wish to display it also, so that they may be a credit to Him when He comes.
Ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him- if a person knows and believes these things about Christ, then he will also know that the life He gives in the new birth is able to imitate the righteous life of Christ.  He will also be able to recognise others who are born again, because they seek to be righteous like Christ too.  In this way he will be able to avoid the influence of antichristian teachers, who are marked by unrighteousness, impurity, and sinfulness.

APPENDIX 1

Truths about the coming antichrist as set out in Daniel chapter 8:

1. He waxes great even to the extent of being able to influence the host of heaven, meaning the angel hosts, verse 10.  As we learn later, this king is energised by Satanic power, and hence it is no surprise that he can control spirit-beings.  In chapter 10 we learn that there is conflict in heaven between holy and evil angel-representatives of the nations, and that victory is not easily achieved by the holy angels, such is the power of evil.  So successful is this king in verse 10, that he is able to cast some of the host of heaven and the stars, meaning, presumably, angels, to the ground and triumph over them.  This is awesome power, and reminds us we should not underestimate the power of the Devil.  We take comfort from the fact, however, that the eventual triumph of Christ is assured, (for “He shall send forth truth to victory”, Matthew 12:20), and meanwhile, “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”, 1 John 4:4.
2. He so exalts himself that he aspires to attack Christ Himself, verse 11.  We read the armies of the Antichrist make war with the Lamb in Revelation 19:19, and this statement is to the same effect.  Not only is he antichrist in the sense of “instead of” Christ, but also in the sense of “against Christ”, for the Greek word “anti” has both these meanings. 
3. He interferes with the sacrifices offered on the altar in the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem, verse 11.  Chapter 9:27 tells of a covenant with the majority in Israel to allow them to resume their temple worship.  This covenant he breaks after three and a half years, and this signals the commencement of the Great Tribulation, Matthew 24:15,21.
4. A host is given him.  A host is a multitude, especially when organised for war.  The fact that a host is given him against the daily sacrifice suggests Satan allots some of his demon-forces to allow him to do this without God’s angels, and in particular Michael, preventing him.  Michael does not seem to be as strong as the Devil, as is seen in Jude 9, and Daniel 10:13 indicates that Gabriel was no match for the angel-prince of Persia until Michael came to assist him.  In verse 11 he magnifies himself against the prince of the host, which from 12:1 we learn is Michael, the prince that stands for the children of Israel.
5. He casts down the truth to the ground.  This word “cast down”, is used in verses 7,11,12.  The idea is of throwing out, down, or away.  Here the little horn attacks the truth, and succeeds in casting it down, meaning that he persuades many to apostatise, especially in Israel, where the majority of the nation have sided with him, and only a remnant remains true to God.  John tells us that one of the main features of the antichrist is that he denies both the Father and the Son, 1 John 2:22; 4:3.  In other words, he totally rejects Christianity, with its emphasis on the revelation of the Father by the Son.
6. He practises and prospers, for evil is having its final attempt to overthrow the things of God, verse 12.  It will be said that “all the world wondered after the beast”, and no-one is able to make war with him, Revelation 13:3,4. 
7. He has a fierce countenance, for he will act with unimaginable cruelty, such is the nature of man, verse 23.  It is no coincidence that he is likened to a wild beast, unmerciful and untamed.  All the  features of the bear, (relentless attack), the lion (fierce attack with strength), and the leopard, (swift decisive attack), will combine in him.  In this he is like the one who empowers him, who is responsible for the misery and heartache experienced by men through the ages.
8. Understanding dark sentences indicates that Satan gives him insight into the mysteries that have been hidden from the mass of men down the centuries.  These secrets enable him to gain and keep hold of the minds of men.
9. His power is mighty, but he owes it to another, for he will have succumbed to the temptation of the Devil, verse 24.  He had offered the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them to Christ, if He would bow down to worship him.  This the Lord refused to do, but this man will have done it, so that “the dragon gave him his power, his seat, and great authority, Revelation 13:2.
10. He destroys wonderfully, for all the world shall wonder after the beast, such is the impressive nature of the things he is able to do by Satanic power.  He shall prosper, but God is in control, allowing the Devil to overreach himself so that he may be finally and decisively defeated. 
11. He shall destroy the mighty and holy people, (literally “the people of the holy ones”, the ones spoken of in chapter 7:27), that part of the nation of Israel which refuses to renounce God.  Such is the intensity of his onslaught against them that only a third pass through the fire to enter the kingdom age.  Zechariah 13:9 had spoken of this, and it is interesting that Christ took a third of His apostles onto the Mount of Olives to tell them of these things, as recorded in Matthew 24.  They represent the faithful remnant of Israel in that chapter, whereas in John 13-17 they represent the church.
12. Through his policy he causes craft to prosper under his control, verse 25.  Satan used the serpent in the Garden because it was more subtle or crafty than all other beasts of the field.  Of course, before sin entered this simply meant that the serpent was crafty or skilful in the best sense.  The devil used that characteristic to his own ends with the serpent at the beginning, and now is using it with the antichrist at the end. 
13. Magnifying of self is a feature of the devil, and the antichrist shares it.  Pride is the condemnation of the devil, 1 Timothy 3:6, who sought in pride to be like the Most High, Isaiah 14:14.  We learn that this pride on the part of the antichrist is the same, for he will magnify himself even above gods that are worshipped.  Satan is using him to try to gain the goal he sought at the beginning when he tried to usurp the throne of God.  He still has the five-point plan he had then, see Isaiah 14:13,14.
14. By peace he destroys many, peace having the sense of “ease”, freedom from anxiety, freedom from stress.  Those who worship him will be rewarded by him.  They will be called “them that dwell upon the earth” in Revelation 13:8, who are content with earth, have no thought of heaven, and deny the existence of hell.
15. He will be so bold as to stand up against Christ, the Prince over the angel-princes.  He will no doubt attempt this by the devilish power Satan has given him.  We little appreciate the power the Devil still wields, even though he is a defeated foe.
He will be broken “without hand”, meaning without any coming to “give him a hand”, in other words, utterly defeated.  Such were the tremendous issues involved in this vision, and in particular the events concerning the little horn, that Daniel fainted, and was sick.  He was astonished at what the vision indicated, but no-one understood the precise meaning of it.

HEBREWS 5

Monday, December 19th, 2011

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER
The writer has told us in 4:14 that we have not a high priest after a certain sort.  Now he tells who was a high priest after that sort, even Aaron.  The shortcomings of Aaron are spoken of by way of contrast to Christ.  Then Aaron’s certain similarity to Christ in the way he was given the priesthood is set out.  Thirdly, the features that marked Christ when He was here in dependent manhood, which prepared Him for His present ministry.  Having introduced the Melchizedec order of priesthood for the first time in the epistle, the writer rebukes the Hebrews for not being in a mature state, and therefore unable to readily take in the truths they were about to be told.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-3 The infirmity of Aaron Christ was not self-condemned.
(b) Verses 4-6 The induction into the priesthood. Christ was not self-appointed.
(c) Verses 7-9 The intensity of Christ’s life-sufferings. Christ was not self-willed.
(d) Verses 10-14 The immaturity of the Hebrews. Christ was not appreciated.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 1 TO 3

5:1  For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

5:2  Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

5:3  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

(a)    Verses 1-3    The infirmity of Aaron.  Christ was not self-condemned.

5:1  For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God- we are now given reasons why our high priest is not like other high priests, as 4: 15 with its negative statement had made clear He was not.  The first difference is that Aaron was taken from among men, whereas our high priest, although true man, is one of the persons of the Godhead. 
That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins- Aaron was appointed to minister to God in the priest’s office, in connection with “everything of the altar, and within the veil”, Numbers 18:7.  Christ on the other hand, began His ministry after the question of sins had been finally dealt with. 

5:2  Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way- The word compassion is “metriopatheo”- “to treat with mildness and moderation, and to bear gently with”.  This is in contrast to the “sumpatheo” of 4:15 that Christ is marked by.  Aaron’s dealings with the Israelites was measured and restricted, for the reason now given.  For that he himself also is compassed with infirmity- Aaron ministered from a position of weakness, and needed to moderate his responses to the people because of his own shortcomings.  They could turn round to him and point to what he did at the foot of Sinai, Exodus 32:1-8, when he made the molten calf, (unfaithfulness); or when his sons failed at their consecration and he had to hold his peace, Leviticus 10:3, (helplessness); or when he and Miriam criticised Moses, Numbers 12:1, (rebellion); or when he and Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, (disobedience and rash speaking), Numbers 20:10-12.  It is noticeable that these four examples of failure all involved speech or non-speech.  So Aaron announces at Sinai “these be thy gods O Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt”.  He had nothing to say when his sons died, but held his peace; he spoke against Moses, and was with Moses when the latter spake inadvisedly with his lips in the matter of water from the rock, Psalm 106:33.  These are examples of Aaron being ignorant and out of the way, showing he was flawed in character, and could not sympathise with the people from a position of moral superiority, as Christ can.  Those who were out of the way, (and therefore in a carnal state of mind), could rebuff him if he tried to remonstrate with them by saying that he himself had made mistakes.  
                                                                                                                                            5:3  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins- this shows that infirmities lead to sin on the part of those who are ignorant of God’s ways, and wander away from them.  Aaron shares in this, and hence has to offer for his sins as well as the sins of others.  In fact, the offering for a priest was greater than for one of the people, for his responsibility was greater. 
It is true that Paul gloried in his infirmities, 2 Corinthians 12:5, but only in the sense that he used the weakness they represented as a means of curbing his pride.  We have already noted in connection with 4:15 that our high priest is able to sympathise with us in our infirmities, without having the infirmities Himself.  He feels what we feel, because the pressure that comes to us through infirmities He knew because of His sympathy with the men and women of His day.  Chapter 7:27,28 makes very clear that our high priest did not have to offer for His own sins.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 4 TO 6

5:4  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

5:5  So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten Thee.

5:6  As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

(b)    Verses 4-6    The induction into the priesthood.  Christ was not self-appointed.

5:4  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron- no man is able to step forward and claim the priesthood as of right.  We remember the judgement which fell upon Uzziah for usurping the position of priest, and in effect, appointing himself, 2 Chronicles 27:16-23.  To be high priest was a great honour for Aaron, but he could not take it to himself on His own initiative.

5:5  So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten thee.

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest- now the word glory can be used, for Christ receives the priesthood in the full glory of His own person.  It is not a case, as it was with Aaron, of an unworthy man being put into a worthy office, and therefore being honoured beyond his deserts, for Christ is worthy of all honour.  Rather, it is an office by which Christ glorifies His Father.  In so doing, He fulfils perfectly the desire of God that there be a priest who would minister unto Him in the priest’s office.  That said, He did not assert Himself so as to be appointed priest, but rather waited the Father’s time.  He was utterly deserving of glory, but nonetheless in humility waited.  Instead of glorifying Himself, He glorified the one who appointed Him, as the next words show. 
But He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten Thee- a quotation from Psalm 2:7.  The Father’s time has come, and a particular day dawns during which He will elevate His Son to priesthood.  There is no question of becoming a Son here, because as we have seen from chapter one, Christ’s sonship means He is God, and as such He cannot change.  It is a matter of being instated in a sphere of responsibility as Firstborn Son.  Hebrews 3:6 describes Christ as Son over God’s house, and part of His duty is to act as priest. 
Psalm 2 can be thought of as initially referring to David or Solomon in a limited sense, but only as prefiguring Christ the true Messiah.  The nation of Israel was declared to be the firstborn son of God in Exodus 4:22,23; Hosea 11:1.  So the king, representing as he did the nation, was given the same title.  Hence the promise to Israel’s king in Psalm 89:27, “I will make Him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth”. 
Psalm 2:7 is quoted three times in the New Testament.  In Acts 13:33 the idea is of Him being placed in the position of responsibility as prophet, at His baptism.  In Hebrews 1:5 He is to be king over the earth in the future.  Here, His present ministry in heaven as high priest is in view.

 5:6  As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec- this is a quotation from Psalm 110.  Because He is risen and ascended, (and Peter interprets Psalm 110 as being about Christ’s ascension, not David’s, in Acts 2:34,35), He is clear of everything and anyone who could possibly prevent Him successfully carrying out His office.  He is therefore priest for ever, and will maintain His people through the whole of eternity.  Because He is priest after Melchizedec’s order, He does not need to sacrifice, for His ministry begins after Calvary is accomplished, and His sacrifice there was once-for-all in character.  We do not read of Melchizedec offering sacrifice, but he did succour and save Abraham when he was about to be tempted by the king of Sodom.  Like Christ, he was able to succour them that are tempted.
Note the “also”, linking Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 together as referring to the same event, namely, Christ’s ascension.  This shows that the linking of “this day have I begotten Thee” to the birth of Christ is incorrect.  After all, we are not begotten on our birthday.  There is clearly a vital link between Christ as Firstborn Son, charged with the responsibility of administering over God’s house, and His present position at the right hand of God which Psalm 110 opens with.  In Psalm 2:7 where the words are originally found, the “I” is emphatic.  In other words, ‘Your father begat you, and as a result you are in the line of succession to the throne, but this begetting is not natural or physical, but Divine, the elevation to a position of responsibility to administer for God’.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 7 TO 9

5:7  Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared;

5:8  Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;

5:9  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him;

(c)    Verses 7-9    The intensity of Christ’s life-sufferings.  Christ was not self-willed.

5:7  Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared;

Who in the days of His flesh- this reversion back to the days of His flesh shows that His priesthood began after He had left this scene.  The Jesus who is in heaven for us is the Jesus who was here in the flesh.  Aaron wore a garment of fine linen, that which had grown up in the earth.  Christ needed no special robe to make Him acceptable, but it is as if every day of His life in the flesh was another thread in Christ’s priestly robe.  There was no more fine and refined person than the Lord Jesus, and He bears that character in heaven.  The writer is now going to show that Christ’s qualifications to minister as our high priest are far superior to Aaron’s.  His flesh is a wider thought than His body.  The life of man is the life of flesh, and although sinless, Christ’s manhood was the same as ours, for He had taken part of the same flesh and blood as us, 2:14.  We are about to be shown the character of the earthly life of Christ, as opposed to the defects in the life of Aaron as high priest. 
When He had offered up prayers- the psalmist related his prayers to the incense and the sacrifices that were offered to God in the temple, Psalm 141:2.  The writer sees this as being true of Christ, that His prayers arose to God with a fragrance and acceptance that was distinctive.  We do not read of Him praying in the temple courts, but wherever He lifted up His heart to God in prayer became a holy place.  Compare Matthew 12:6, where a cornfield becomes a temple if He is there. 
And supplications- these are deeply felt needs, expressed by one who comes to another for help.  When down here in the flesh, Christ was entirely cast upon God for everything. 
With strong crying- the word used here is one that imitates the cry of the raven.  The cry of a raven is instinctive, and cannot really be imitated by another bird, so cannot be forced or faked.  This therefore is the genuine cry of one who is in deep need. 
And tears- when asked who the Jews thought He was, one of the names the disciples mentioned was Jeremiah, who was noted for his weeping.  Although He had a special joy as He pleased His Father, John 15:11, yet nonetheless it is true that He was the Man of Sorrows, meaning He was especially marked out as a sorrowing one, so much so that He personifies sorrow, for it finds its fullest expression in Him. 
Unto Him that was able to save Him from death- so He had taken such a place of dependence and relative weakness, that He had to ask to be saved, not of course from sin, but from death itself.  But even in this He thought of His people, for He desired to issue forth in resurrection so that He might be their priest in heaven.  See Isaiah 49:8, where the day of salvation is the day of His resurrection. 
And was heard in that He feared- not the fear of terror, but godly, reverential fear as expressed by one who is pious.  This fear is the mingling of love and filial fear which ideally expresses piety towards God.  His prayer to be saved from death was answered because of His personal piety.  As the Sin-bearer on the cross, His prayer seemed not to be heard, Psalm 22:2, but that does not mean it would not be answered, and answered it was, for He emerged in resurrection, Psalm 22:21. The most trying experience for Christ was to go into death, for He is the author of life, and death is alien and an enemy.  If He successfully passed through this experience with His piety intact, than we are sure no lesser trial could have spoiled Him.

5:8  Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;

Though He were a Son- as the Son of God He shared every attribute of God, including the right to command.  Yet He was being fitted for priesthood by His life-experiences down here, and hence has to learn things as a man that He could not learn as the Son of God in heaven.  And learn these things He did, even though He was still the Son of God when upon earth.  In order to have the moral right as a man to command people to obey, He must show He was obedient to His Father when here.  
Yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered- He did not have to be disciplined so as to obey, but He did have to learn what it was to obey.  He now knows what it is to obey, and has responded in obedience to His Father’s every command, and thus has the moral right to expect obedience from His people. He obeyed even though that meant suffering, so we cannot make the excuse that the suffering we pass through exempts us from obedience.  As in all things, He has led the way as our Captain on the path of salvation and glory, 2:10.
He learned what it was to suffer, and to accept those sufferings as from His Father, and to obey Him despite the trials that came His way.  His life-sufferings did not make Him want to rebel, but to obey further.  In all these experiences He displayed the utmost piety, or godly fear. There was no questioning of the ways of God; no resentment; no doubting of God’s goodness. And because of this His prayer was heard, and He issued forth in resurrection to begin a priestly ministry on behalf of His people when they are tried in similar ways.  This is the most difficult way to learn what it is to obey.  To obey the command to not eat of the tree of knowledge involved no suffering for Adam, for there was a plentiful supply of fruit elsewhere in the garden.  To obey the command to speak to the rock involved no suffering for Aaron, but he disobeyed.  Christ however, in the most extreme pressure that suffering brings upon a man, nevertheless obeyed perfectly and willingly.  He did not try to excuse Himself from suffering and obeying on the basis that He was God’s Son.

5:9  And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him;

And being made perfect- We have already seen how that Aaron was not morally superior to the people- Christ is so different.  To be made perfect means here to be perfectly qualified to undertake a task successfully.  We have already learnt that He was made perfect though sufferings, 2:10. 
He became the author of eternal salvation- So it is that the salvation we shall know in eternity, we may know now, in time.  Just as He experienced salvation from the ultimate enemy, and emerged to never die or suffer again, so we shall know a like experience at the resurrection of the saints.  But in the here and now we may know the salvation from lesser troubles that His ministry as priest secures for us.  Unto all them that obey Him- having established the moral right to expect others to obey, and having been given the task of administering as God’s Son over the house of God, He has every right to expect obedience.  We learned in chapters three and four that faith takes the form of obedience, and this becomes a definition of what a Christian is; all who claim to be believers, then, must demonstrate the genuineness of their claim by obeying God’s Son.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 5, VERSES 10 TO 14

5:10  Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

5:12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 

 (d)  The immaturity of the believers.  Christ was not appreciated.

5:10  Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec- the word for “called ” used here means “to salute, or address”.  As He ascended to God’s presence in heaven, God hailed Him as High Priest, showing that He was worthy of that high office.  This way of putting things shows that He becomes high priest in virtue of past piety shown- He is not high priest on probation, but God can confidently establish Him in the position, knowing beforehand that He will be faithful.  We do not read of other priests associated with Melchizedec, so he is never called high priest.  The Epistle to the Hebrews never calls believers priests, although the activities they are encouraged to engage in are certainly priestly in character.  The purpose of the epistle is to concentrate on the glories of Christ.  Peter’s first epistle is the one to turn to for information about Christian priesthood.
We never read of Melchizedec offering sacrifices, or ministering at an altar, for he is a foreshadowing of the one who entered into His priestly ministry with the work of sacrifice over.  What Melchizedec did do was (i) bless God, (ii) bless Abraham, (iii) receive tithes on God’s behalf, and (iv) offer Abraham succour and encouragement before the king of Sodom came to him with his tempting offer, see Genesis 14:17-20.
The order of Melchizedec has not to do with a line or succession of priests, but with the way the priesthood was arranged or ordered.  It is these features of Melchizedec’s priesthood that make him a fit example of Christ’s ministry.  Note that the word high can legitimately be added to the word priest now, for not only is the Lord Jesus ascended up on high, and high above all others in moral superiority, but He now has others associated with Him, and He is high over them as well.
Like Melchizedek, who met Abraham when he was flushed with success, and before the king of Sodom came with his temptations, Christ gives to those who ask Him that needed strength to overcome temptations.  Melchizedek succoured Abraham with bread and wine, ordinary foodstuffs but with deep significance.  The king of Sodom would have given Abraham a life of luxury, but he learnt to be content with ordinary fare.  Christ, too, brings forth the bread and wine.  The “bread” of His life lived in constant fellowship with the Father, and with constant victory over temptation.  The “wine” of His death, whereby He overcame the most fierce attack of the enemy and secured the salvation of His people.

5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Of whom we have many things to say- which things he does say in chapter seven. 
And hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing- the difficulty lay not in the writer’s ability as a teacher, but rather in the dullness of understanding of the hearers.  This may confirm the idea that the words of this epistle were first given orally.  If they are the words of Apollos, then it is said of him that he was “an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures”, and “mightily convinced the Jews”, Acts 18:24,28.  The apostle Paul complained that he was hindered in his ministry by the immaturity of his readers, and he had to restrict what he said to them, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

5:12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers- it is the duty of those who preach and teach to do so with a view to preparing the next generation to pass on what they have learned.  The apostle Paul’s word to Timothy was, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”, 2 Timothy 2:2.
Ye have need that one teach you again- they had forgotten what they had learned, and needed to be established in first things again. 
Which be the first principles of the oracles of God- the oracles of God are the teachings from God found in the Old Testament.  The phrase is literally “the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God”.  So it is not even the beginning of the oracles that is in view, but the elements of that beginning.  The word elements was used of the abc, the rudimentary basis of all speech.  The oracles of God continue into the New Testament, the beginning of them was in the Old Testament, and it is the basic, foundational truths of God’s revelation that is in view here.  If the significance of Old Testament things had been more evident to them, perhaps there would not have been those amongst them who were inclined to return to Old Testament rituals.

5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe- The same sort of figure of speech the apostle Paul used in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 just referred to.  The apostle Peter used this figure of speech in a different sense, for he encourages believers to earnestly desire the milk of the word as new-born babes earnestly desire milk, 1 Peter 2:2.  He is not advocating that we stay immature, but that we remain as those who strongly desire to learn from God.  Because the subject under discussion is Melchisidec, and he was king of righteousness, 7:2, the subject of righteousness will surely come up; but sadly the readers and hearers were immature in this.

5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age- in contrast to being babes, the writer now speaks of those who have grown up.  For them, strong meat is an appropriate diet.                                     Even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil- he now defines those who are of full age; it is those who by exercise of conscience in the things of righteousness have matured, and are able to discern between good and evil.  For righteousness is the standard by which good and evil is known.  We see how important a knowledge of the things of God is, for it is needful so that we are able to lead moral lives.  It is important that the ministry of the word of God should address matters that are relevant to this great aim of living lives that please God.  Notice it is “by reason of use” that our senses are exercised; we must constantly exercise our spiritual senses, so that we do not get out of practice in the things of righteousness.  “Bodily exercise profiteth (to a) little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”, 1 Timothy 4:7,8.
The word “discern” has to do with distinguishing.  The words for good “kalon” and “evil”, (kakon), are very similar- great care is needed to distinguish them. 

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH: PART 5

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

CHRIST AND THE CHURCH:
PART 5  CHRIST AS THE EXAMPLE

Ephesians 4:17-32    A Christ-like walk.

SUMMARY OF THE PASSAGE
The apostle now turns from the collective responsibility of members of the church as they relate to one another, to consider the individual walk of the believer in the world.  The passage looks at the subject in three ways, as follows:

STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE
Verses 17-19      Features of Adam in unbelievers.
Verses 20-21      Truth is in Jesus.
Verses 22-32     Features of Adam put off, features of Christ put on. Verses 17-19      Features of Adam in unbelievers.

Verses 17-19    FEATURES OF ADAM IN UNBELIEVERS

4:17    This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord- the chapter began with an exhortation on the basis of the teaching in chapters 1-3, and now a new section begins in a similar way.  The practical exhortations of chapters 4-6 are solidly and logically based on the teaching of chapters 1-3.  Paul solemnly testifies in full recognition of the Lordship of Christ.  When He is gladly owned as Lord the exhortations of the passage will be willingly complied with. 
That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk- he begins with a negative example, and one they will easily recognize from their pre-conversion days.  Henceforth means no longer, suggesting a clean break with the past.  That they have to be exhorted like this even though they are believers shows they had not fully realized the implications of faith in Christ. 
In the vanity of their mind- the apostle begins with the mind, because that is the seat of the thoughts, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Proverbs 23:7.  Vanity as used here means emptiness of results, and is in stark contrast to the reality that is found in Christ.  Whereas the natural man produces nothing that is pleasing to God, He was altogether pleasing to His Father.

4:18    Having the understanding darkened- understanding is literally a thinking through, so here the apostle reminds us that the thought processes of the unbeliever are darkened, or covered over, not allowing the light of God’s truth to penetrate.  
Being alienated from the life of God- when Adam sinned the threatened punishment fell upon him, and he died.  Despite continuing in the body for 930 years, he died the day he sinned.  The Lord Jesus taught this in John 5: 24 when He spoke of men passing from death unto life.  And since the life is spiritual life, then the death must be spiritual death.  Not that man’s spirit is dead, for spirits cannot die, and man is able to use his spirit to worship demons, but as far as communion with God is concerned, man is dead. 
Through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart- this ignorance exists because eternal life involves knowing God, and Jesus Christ, John 17:3, so those who have not this life are ignorant, however qualified they may be in the things of this world.  Because men have closed their minds to the revelation of God, they are blind in heart.  This situation is not without remedy, as John 9 illustrates.  Reading verses 17-19 should makes us truly thankful that the grace of God has reached us, and should also make us more concerned about the plight of those still in their sins all around us.  It is solemn to think that the population of the world increases by 270,000 people every day.  That is not the number of people who are born each day, but rather the number of people who are born over and above the number of those who die each day.  May the Lord give us wisdom in this situation.

4:19    Who being past feeling- as a result of this willing heart-blindness, men are not sensitive to the truth of God, and what is acceptable behaviour with Him. 
Have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness- lasciviousness is lack of restraint, the direct result of refusing the Divine laws which should govern life on earth.  See Psalm 2:3, and Romans 1:18-32.  This in its turn results in uncleanness of every and any sort, and that with an attitude of heart which longs for more and more.

Verses 20-32        TRUTH IS IN JESUS  

But ye have not so learned Christ- again the emphasis on the mind.  We learn how to sin from Adam and his race, we learn how to live worthily through Christ’s example when here on earth.  It is not simply that He taught how to live, but that He is the Life, John 14:6, for true life finds its fullest expression in Him; He is the subject of the lesson. 

4:21    If so be that ye have heard Him- through the personal testimony of apostles and prophets, and the preaching of evangelists, pastors and teachers, the Ephesian believers had heard Him, as much as if they had been on earth when Christ was. 
And have been taught by Him- literally, taught in Him.  That is, as those who by faith were in Christ, they were in a position to take advantage of the teaching.  Try as they might to imitate Christ, unbelievers have not the power to do so.  The statement “Ye must be born again” comes before Matthew chapters 5-7, so only those who are born again can fulfil Christ’s commands. 
As the truth is in Jesus- the true life is expressed in Jesus, the Man upon the earth who pleased God fully.  This phrase is often misquoted as “the truth as it is in Jesus”, but this implies that truth in someone else is different.  Christ alone is the full expression of the truth.  Paul longed that the life of Jesus might be manifest in his mortal body, 2 Corinthians 4:10.

4:22    That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man- as we learn Christ through His example, and are taught of Him through His word, we are taught to put off the old man.  In principle we did this when we turned to Christ, but there is an ongoing need for readjustment to Christ.  The words “put off” mean to take off and lay aside, and are used of those who stoned Stephen, Acts 7:58.  They took off their garments and laid them aside as being unsuitable for the task in hand.  Clothing speaks of character in the Scriptures, and so we should take off and discard the characteristics of Adam, the old and out-of-date man, for those garments are not suitable for the task in hand of living like Christ.  Our old man has been crucified with Christ, for Christ undertook to deal with what we were in Adam, and by association with Him in His death and resurrection we are freed from the consequences of what Adam did when he fell.  See Romans 6. 
Which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts- because the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, it deceives the unbeliever into doing corrupting things, even things which will bring into ruin. 

4:23    And be renewed in the spirit of your mind- instead of being corrupted by a deceitful mind, we should be constantly adjusting to the new things that are found to perfection in Christ.  The spirit of our mind is our attitude of mind, which is so governed by the Spirit of God that it can be called the mind of the Spirit, Romans 8:5.  We must adopt the right attitude to the things mentioned here, if we are to be in the good of them.

4:24    And that ye put on the new man- this is the other side to the truth that we have been taught in Christ, for we have not only to put on, but put off as well.  No doubt the garments of the two malefactors as well as Christ’s became the property of the soldiers at the foot of the cross.  The question for us is which garments shall we put on, Christ’s, or the malefactors? 
Which after God is created- likeness to Christ has to be created in us, for it does not come naturally.  After God means with God as the model.  God’s original design for Adam was that he be in the image and likeness of God.  That likeness has been spoiled by sin, and Adam begat Seth after his likeness, not God’s, Genesis 5:1,3.  Only because of Christ’s intervention as the second man, the last Adam, can God create anew after His likeness as expressed in Christ. 
In righteousness and true holiness- this is the condition in which the new man is, ideally.  It is our responsibility to put off all those things which are incompatible with righteousness and holiness.  True holiness is holiness which is produced when we allow the truth to govern us.  The truth in question being the truth in Jesus.  The word for holiness here is not the usual one meaning separation.  It has been defined as “that quality of holiness which is manifested in those who have regard equally to grace and truth”, Vine. Notice the three ideas of righteousness, holiness and truth, which could be used as summaries of the next few verses.  They are in opposition to the corruption, lusts and deceit mentioned at the end of verse 22.

TRUTH
4:25    Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour- it is not suitable for those who claim to know Him who is the truth, to be found lying.  As verse 15 has already told us, we should not only be truthful, but live the truth.  In fact the word for lying used here suggests this, being the word for falsehood.  May we be like the psalmist and hate every false way, Psalm 119:104,128.  The apostle quotes here from Zechariah 8:16.  As an Old Testament statement, it is a requirement under the law.  How much more now that Christ has come, and grace reigns.  Zechariah has fellow-Israelites in view when he speaks of neighbours, those who hope to enter the kingdom of the Messiah. 
For we are members one of another- as fellow-members of the body of Christ we are members of His body, (for we are more than just neighbours), and what we do even with our bodies, 1 Corinthians 6:15, affects the Head in heaven.

RIGHTEOUSNESS
4:26    Be ye angry, and sin not- sometimes the cause of truth demands that we be angry, with the sort of anger that Christ showed when He saw within the hardened hearts of men, Mark 3:5.  That it is permissible for a believer to be angry at times is shown in that a bishop must not be soon angry, Titus 1:7, thus showing that controlled anger is permitted at times.  One has said, “He that would be angry at sin, let him be angry at nothing but sin”. 
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath:- justified anger is not to degenerate into that which smoulders in our hearts, for the apostle is quoting from Psalm 4:4, and the psalmist goes on to say, “Commune in your own heart on your bed”.  We are to have quiet spirits, even in times when we have strong feelings about matters which affect the honour of Christ.  “Anger resteth in the bosom of fools”, Ecclesiastes 7:9, with the emphasis on resteth. 

4:27    Neither give place to the devil- the Devil delights to provoke us into emotional outbursts, and we should be aware of this, and not give him any opportunities to exploit situations, perhaps by exaggerated language or behaviour whilst under stress.

4:28    Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth- such is the transforming power of the gospel, that it not only enables a person to renounce that unlawful activity by which he gained a living, and begin to earn that living in an honest way, but to go further, and seek to make recompense as a believer for the sin of the past by meeting the needs of the poor.  This is in the spirit of the trespass offering, which required that one who had stolen should pay back what was stolen, and add the fifth part thereto.  See Hebrews 13:16, and also Zacchaeus’ attitude in Luke 19:8,9.  The apostle himself worked with his own hands to supply not only his needs, but also the needs of those with him, Acts 20:34,35. 

4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth- note the absolute terms the apostle uses.  A corrupt communication is a statement which is bad and unprofitable. 
But that which is good to the use of edifying- when we see gaps in the lives of fellow-saints, we should be concerned to fill them with words that build and encourage. 
That it may minister grace unto the hearers- So we may not only benefit our fellow-believers by giving them material things, as verse 28 indicates, but we also have the opportunity of ministering to their spiritual needs too, by those things that we say.  By this means those things which God is looking for from His people in response to His grace are fostered and encouraged.

HOLINESS
4:30    And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God- every true believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God, who is a Divine person, and sensitive to the behaviour of God’s people. To grieve means to make sorry, to cause pain or grief. Note the connection with the foregoing references to corrupt communication.  The Spirit is grieved by such a thing, for He is the Spirit of grace, Hebrews 10:29.  The fact that the Spirit dwells within us should be a strong incentive to holiness, as the apostle makes clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:7,8, “for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us His Holy Spirit”.  The expression used of the Holy Spirit here is very strong, being literally, “His Spirit, the Holy One”.

The following things may be said about the indwelling of the Spirit of God:
1.    The Lord Jesus promised His own that the Holy Spirit would be given, John 14:16.  He is not earned or merited, but given by God in grace.  Also, He dwells within the believer, in his heart, and is not merely an external influence upon him.
2.    The Spirit of God indwells the believer the moment he believes, Galatians 3:2, where the question is rhetorical, i.e. the answer is so obvious that it needs not to be stated.  The Lord Jesus told His apostles to tarry at Jerusalem until the Spirit came, which they did.  He had said to them in the Upper Room, “If ye love Me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father…John 14:15,16.  They did keep His commandments, and the Spirit came.  Now that the Spirit has come at Pentecost, when a person believes he becomes part of the one body, and is made personally to drink into one Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, John 4:10,13,14.
3.    The Lord Jesus promised that once given, the Spirit would never leave them, John 14:16.  The Spirit left King Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14, and David implored the Lord not to take His Holy Spirit from him, Psalm 51:11.  These references remind us that the Holy Spirit was given in Old Testament times to empower for special tasks, in these cases to be king in Israel.  If the Spirit had been taken, David would no longer have been king.  As for ourselves, the permanent indwelling of the Spirit should not be used as an excuse for unspiritual behaviour.
4.    The Spirit was to be personally in the believer.  See John 14:17, where the contrast is between the Spirit being alongside of them as He indwelt Christ who was with them, and the Spirit abiding in them, when Christ was no longer walking physically with them.
5.    The presence of the Spirit is known by the believer, John 14:17.  The worldling can only appreciate things by the physical senses because he is not born of God.  Because the Spirit cannot be physically seen, then the unbeliever cannot know Him.  The Spirit makes His presence felt in the believer’s heart by encouraging spiritual exercises, Romans 8:16.
6.     The Spirit acts as a comforter, strengthener and encourager, in the same way as the Lord Jesus acted towards His disciples when down here.  This is the force of the word “another” in John 14:16, meaning “another of the same sort”.
7.    The Spirit enables the believer to see Christ, John 14:19.  He does this by announcing the things of Christ to us, John 16:14, so that Christ is glorified.  Through this ministry of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus may be seen with spiritual insight just as really as the apostles saw Him with natural eyesight.  John writes in 1 John 1:3 so that we may share the things he saw and heard, but he gives to us no physical description of the Lord.  What really matter, therefore, are spiritual views of Him. 

Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption- The Lord Jesus has purchased His people, and we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.  Redemption of the body we do not yet have, however, for that will happen at His coming, see Philippians 3:220,21; 1 Corinthians 15:48-53.  Note that it is unto the day of redemption, and not simply until, as if it is only a question of time.  What happened when we were saved and sealed was in view of the redemption in the future.  This is a strong reason to believe in the eternal security of the true believer, for God has done something in the past which guarantees the future.

4:31    Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice- these are features which the Spirit finds grieving, and which are contrary to Christ’s example.  The truth in Jesus is totally opposed to these things.  Clearly the anger is unrighteous anger, or else there is a contradiction with verse 26.  We should only be angry at things Christ would be angry about.

4:32    And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you- this is the positive side, as verse 31 is the negative side.  We should avoid being unkind, but also set out to be kind, for that is what God has done, taking the initiative in the matter.  God forgave in Christ, meaning He forgave in view of all Christ is to Him, and all He did for us.  Those who have been forgiven by God should be the special objects of our care, for this is Christ-like, and is the mark of a worthy walk before God. 
Notice how high the standard of forgiveness is, being nothing less that the attitude of God.  This reminds us of Peter’s question, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Till seven times?”  Jesus saith unto him, “I say not unto thee, ‘Until seven times': but, ‘Until seventy times seven’, Matthew 18:21,22.  Then He told the parable of the ten thousand talent debt and the one hundred pence debt.  Peter no doubt thought that to forgive seven times would be commendable; the Lord raised the standard not to 7 x 7 = 49, but to 70 to the power of 7, which is 8235430.  This is a lifetime of forgiveness.  There are 25550 days in 70 years.  There are 322 times that number in 8235430.  So if the same man came to Peter 322 times every day for 70 years, (that is every three minutes during his waking hours for the whole of his lifetime), and asked his forgiveness, then he was to forgive him.  And so are we.

It is worth remembering that genuine forgiveness on the part of the one sinned against can only follow genuine repentance on the part of the one sinning.  In the parallel passage this is emphasized- “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, ‘I repent;’  thou shalt forgive him”, Luke 17:3,4.  So both grace and truth are to be in exercise; truth which rebukes and requires repentance, grace which grants that forgiveness when these conditions are met.
So it has been with God.  His rich grace has forgiven us for the sake of Christ.  His truth demanded that we repent before we knew that forgiveness.

DOCTRINES OF SCRIPTURE: Resurrection of Christ

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

INTRODUCTION:

 The resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead is a fundamental part of the Christian gospel, as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. That He really died is seen in that He was buried, that He really rose is seen in the fact that He appeared (not simply was seen, but deliberately confronted people). His resurrection had been prophesied in the Old Testament, hence the apostle says He was raised according to the (O.T.) Scriptures. See Psalm 16; Psalm 21:2-6; Psalm 22:21-31; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 52:13, 53:10,11. It was also prophesied by the Lord Jesus Himself, although His disciple did not grasp the fact. Only Mary, who sat at His feet and heard His word, saw that He was going to die, and so anointed Him for His burial whilst He could appreciate it. She must also have seen that He would rise, for she did not go to the sepulchre to seek to preserve His dead body, as the other women did. So the Old Testament views Christ’s resurrection prophetically, the Gospels view it historically, whereas the epistles view it doctrinally.

1.    Romans 1:4: ‘”And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from (of) the dead”. Note the change of verb from verse 3, where Christ is made of the seed of David by incarnation. Here it is not something He was made in time, but what He is eternally is declared by resurrection.  He is ever the Son of God, for “to be the son of” means “to share the nature of”. Since the Father’s nature is eternal, so must the Son’s be, therefore He is the eternal Son of God. This is declared by resurrection. Note that it is not the resurrection from the dead, but rather the resurrection of dead persons, for the word dead is plural. Every time the Lord Jesus raised a person from the dead; every time a sinner is raised from death in trespasses and sins; when saint’s bodies are raised at His coming; when sinner’s bodies are raised  just before the Great White Throne judgement, then on each occasion there is a declaration of His Deity. This is in line with His words in John 5:19-29, where the right of the Lord Jesus to grant life and to raise from the dead, is vested in His equality with the Father.

And then of course there was the declaration of His Sonship when He Himself was raised from the dead. He had said “when (after) ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I am He”, John 8:28. They should have known He was Son of God by the supernatural events at His crucifixion, for the centurion came to this conclusion, Matthew 27:54. They should have known by His rising again, for Saul of Tarsus was convinced, Acts 9:20.

2.    Romans 4:15: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification”.  The apostle has been deriving principles from the experience of Abraham and Sarah, who as far as having children were concerned, were dead. Yet they believed God, and as a result He intervened and brought Isaac out of the sphere of death. Whereas Abraham believed God was able to do this in the immediate future, we look back to the distant past and believe that the true “Isaac” has been brought out of the sphere of death to guarantee the promises of God. Paul in effedct asks two questions: “Why was Christ found in death anyway?” and “Why was He raised from the dead?” The answer to the first is our offences, whilst the answer to the second is because of our justification, which means that He was raised again because God was satisfied that His work upon the cross was enough to justify believing sinners.

3.    Romans 5:10: ‘”For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Verse one speaks of peace with God, so that those once enemies of God because of sin, are now reconciled to Him. Now if the work which forms the basis of that reconciliation was done for us whilst we were still God’s enemies, what blessings will He not bestow now that we are friends? And more than this, if Christ’s work of reconciling enemies took place when were in sin, surely we shall be saved from every sort of penalty at the judgement day, for the one who saved us from sin is still our saviour, preserving us eternally from the judgement of God. Because Christ lives eternally in resurrection, the believer is eternally secure. If the suffering and agony of the cross did not put Him off from taking up our case, surely the glory He has now will not prevent Him living to preserve those who believe in Him.

4.    Romans 6:4: “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. Paul is showing why it is not in order for believers to continue in sin, i.e. continue to respond to the sin-principle within. The reason here given is that we are buried, and therefore cannot continue in sin. The burial took place when we were baptized, and we were identified with Christ in His (state of) death. But our baptism has a positive purpose, it is not just a negative putting out of sight, but association also with Christ in His resurrection. Christ was raised from the dead because the glory of the Father demanded that such a person should be raised, and not left in the grave. It was not so with us personally, however, so our emergence from the watery grave of baptism is solely because of association with Christ. Having been raised, we have a responsibility to walk in a different sort of way, which is compatible with the new place we have with Christ risen.

5.    Romans 7:1-6: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God”. The apostle is showing that the believer is not under the Law of Moses, nor will trying to keep that Law result in a victorious Christian life. He uses two illustrations to prove his point. First, that when a person is dead, the dominion of the law, any law, is gone from him. Second, that when a woman’s husband dies, she is free from the law of the husband. He then applies these two principles, namely one’s own death delivering from law, and another’s death delivering from law. Christ has died, and we have died in association with Him, so on both counts we are dead to the Law of Moses. The body of Christ was hung upon a cross, and there He bore the curse of a broken law for us. But His body was also placed in a tomb, and subsequently rose from the dead. By association with Him in these things we are delivered from the law by association with what happened to Christ in His body.

6.    Romans 8:11:”But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you”. The Spirit of God is here described as the Spirit of the God of resurrection. Not only does the Spirit of God empower us so that we are able to live proper Christian lives now, but He is the guarantee that we shall share in the resurrection of the body hereafter. The epistle to the Romans emphasises truth which enables us to live upon the earth, hence we are looked at in this verse as being alive on the earth when Christ comes. When dead saints are raised, then those alive on the earth will share in the same sort of change, even though they have not died. The certainty of this is found in the presence within of the Spirit of God.

7.    Romans 8:34: “Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us”. The only one who could possibly condemn God’s people is Christ, for all judgement has been committed to Him. But far from condemning, He is the very one who defends and supports them. He does this in a four-fold way, because of the four events mentioned here. He died to deal with our sins that would have meant our condemnation. He was raised again  to demonstrate to all who would accuse us that the work of the cross dealt effectively with sins. He is ascended to the right hand of God, the most influential place in the whole of the universe where He wields all power. And He intercedes for us to defend us from the charges the adversary, Satan, would level against us, Revelation 12:10.

ROMANS 5:12-21-an overview

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

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This passage is critical to a true understand of the chapters that follow it.  It is, however, a complicated section, and these remarks are offered with a view to unfolding its meaning.

It is well-known that the first eight chapters of the epistle to the Romans may be divided into two parts.  The first, 1:1-5:11, deals with sins, the practices of men.  The second, 5:12-8:39, deals with sin, the principle in men.  By sin in this context is not meant one particular sin, but sin as a working principle in men, the force that enables them to commit individual sins.  Sin dwells within men, 7:17, and works in men, 7:13.  So the first section emphasises crimes, whereas the second section the criminal himself. 

It is important that both of these matters be dealt with, for after a person has believed the gospel, 3:26, been justified, 4:5, and had his sins forgiven, 4:7, it may come as a shock to him to find that he is still able to sin.  Indeed, the fact that Christians, sadly, sin, is often cited by unbelievers as reason to not believe, “because Christianity doesn’t work”, or “I wouldn’t be able to keep it up”.  In connection with those objections we should always remember that in the final analysis it is Christ who represents Christianity, for “Christ is all”, Colossians 3:11, but that does not absolve us from the solemn responsibility of being “epistles of Christ, known and read of all men”, 2 Corinthians 3:3. 

At the point where the epistle divides, the apostle sums up his foregoing argument in 5:8,9, where he writes of actions, whether it be of God commending His love, or Christ both dying for us, and also saving us from wrath, or our actions as sinners.  He also anticipates his future argument in 5:10 by emphasis on what state we were in, namely enmity, or what state we have been brought to, reconciliation, and also what state Christ was brought to by our folly, even that of being in death.

Coming to our passage, it may help to set out the main content as follows:

Verse 12 Initial doctrinal statement.
Verses 13,14 Proof that death is the result of the sin-principle within.
Verse 15 Contrast and comparison- offence or gift.
Verse 16 Contrast and comparison- condemnation or justification.
Verse 17  Death reigning or believers reigning in life.
Verse 18 The penalty upon all, and the opportunity for all.
Verse 19 The state of many as sinners, and the state of many as righteous.
Verse 20  The law cannot deal with the sin-principle.
Verse 21  Final doctrinal summary.

Verse 12    Initial doctrinal statement.

5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

The apostle immediately traces the origin of the sin principle right back to Adam, and then shows that “Him that was to come”, verse 14, is God’s answer.  The Last Adam alone is able to deal with that which the first man Adam brought in.  When he fell, Adam became a sinner by nature and practice, and when he begat a son it was in his image and likeness, to represent him as a sinner, Genesis 5:3.  Thus sin entered into the world.  Like a poison being put into the spring that gives rise to a river, so the river of humanity has been poisoned at source.  Hence the apostle’s use of the words “all men”, and “world”.  Not that sin originated with Adam, for Lucifer was the first to sin, Ezekiel 28:15, but he used Adam as the door through which sin might enter into the human race.

The consequence of the sin of Adam was that its penalty, death, passed on all.  If any question whether this is the case, then the apostle has the answer.  All have sinned, and thus is proved the fact that all have a sin principle within inciting them to sin.  But since that sin principle inevitably results in death, then both sin and death have indeed passed upon all men.

Verses 13,14        Proof that death is the result of the sin-principle within.

5:13  (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

5:14  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

It is important for the apostle to confirm that death is the result of sin within, and not, in general, as a result of particular sins committed.  He does this by referring to the period of time before the law was given at Sinai through Moses.  Before the law-age the principle of sin rested in the hearts of the descendants of Adam the sinner.  But when they sinned, that sin was not put to their account as demanding an immediate penalty.  They did not physically die the moment they sinned.  (The word “reckoned” is not the same as is used in previous passages such as 4:3,4, where it means that God takes account of a person in a certain way.  Here, it means to put a sin to someone’s account for immediate payment by death.  This does not mean that sins committed during the pre-law period are ignored by God, for “God shall bring every secret work into judgement”, Ecclesiastes xxx).  Nevertheless, men still died in the period between Adam and the giving of the law at Sinai, which proves that they did so because of the sin-principle within them, and not because they had transgressed against a known law. 

The consequence of this is very far-reaching, for it shows that even if an unbeliever managed to never sin, (a hypothetical situation, of course), he would still be liable to death because of what he is by nature.  So the gospel is not just about having one’s sins forgiven, but is also about being a new creation, so that there is no obligation to sin. 

Verse 15    Contrast and comparison- offence or gift.                 

5:15  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

By describing Christ as “Him that was to come”, (immediately following Adam’s sin, God announced the coming deliverer), the apostle has prepared the way to revert back to his consideration of Adam’s fall, after the parenthesis of verses 13 and 14.  He does this by presenting both a contrast, “not as”, and a comparison, “so also”.  The comparison is seen in the fact that both Adam and Christ, each being head over those linked to them, affect deeply their respective companies. 

The contrast is between Adam’s offence, and the grace of God.  Further, that offence resulted in the “gift” of death to the many who have died one by one throughout the history of men, whereas the grace of God results in many being given a different sort of gift.  What that gift is we are not yet told.  We are told that what God does through Christ has a “much more” character to it, which is seen in that the gift has abounded.  The seemingly insurmountable problem of Adam’s sin has been overcome by God in Christ.  He has not solved the problem by introducing a stronger judgement than that meted out to Adam, but by acting in grace.  The condemnation of sinners is a righteous necessity with God, but He is under no obligation to bless them, but chooses to do so because of His grace.

Note that in verses 13-17, and also in verse 19, we read of “many”, indicating the greatness of the problem to be addressed, and also the far reaching consequences of the actions of the two men who are in view in the passage.  In verses 12 and 18, (which are linked together), we read of “all”, for there the universality of the problem Adam introduced, and the universality of the provision God has made in response is brought out. 

Verse 16    Contrast and comparison- condemnation or justification.

5:16  And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

This verse continues the idea of contrast, (“not as”), and comparison, (“so is”), but whereas verse 15 concentrated on the one offence of Adam, his act of taking a false step, and the fact that God’s act of giving in grace is through one man, Jesus Christ, here the emphasis is on the many offences which result from Adam’s fall, and the way each man relates to those offences.  This is the comparison, for each man has been the means of affecting either adversely (judgement), or for good, (the gift), those involved in each case. 

There is also a contrast, for Adam brought in judgement and condemnation, but Christ brings in justification.  That judgement took the form of condemnation.  God’s verdict, (judgement), went against Adam when he sinned, and he was pronounced guilty, with the implication that there was a sentencing process to follow.  We read of that process in Genesis 3:17-19.  Christ, however, brings in justification, and this despite the many offences committed during the history of men, and the many offences individual sinners commit during their lifetime. 

The condemnation brought in by Adam resulted in men being subject to death, whereas the justification Christ brings in for those who believe not only clears their record, (this is the “Romans 3″ side of justification), but also delivers them from obligation to sin in the present, and liability to death in the future.  So it is that the apostle can write in 6:7 that “he that is dead is freed from sin”.  That is, those who by faith are associated with Christ crucified, are no longer under any obligation to sin.  They are not liable to die physically either, for Christ risen has secured their position in resurrection.  Those who are alive when Christ comes will be proof of this, for they shall know resurrection without dying. 

Verse 17    Death reigning or believers reigning in life.

5:17  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

In verse 16 the emphasis is on sins, but in this verse, on death.  Going right back to the beginning again, the apostle repeats what he wrote in verse 12, that the offence of one man resulted in death.  Now he enlarges on this and declares that death has not only passed upon all men, but has set up its throne in their hearts, and like a wicked tyrant rules their lives.  The abundant grace of God, however, ensures that those who receive the gift of righteousness not only are delivered from the tyranny of death, and receive life, but reign in life.  It is they who are in control.  This is only possible, however, by the agency and strength of Jesus Christ- they have no strength of their own. 

Verse 18    The penalty upon all, and the opportunity for all.

5:18  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

The apostle is now able to take his argument forward from verse 12, having built up a body of background information in verses 13-17 which will enable his readers to follow his line of thought.  He first of all reiterates the truth of verse 12, and reminds us that the offence of Adam has resulted in the condemnation of death upon all men.  He then contrasts the offence of Adam with the righteousness of another man, Jesus Christ.  By righteousness here is meant the act of righteousness carried out by Christ in death, when He set out to reverse the consequences of Adam’s sin, and also bring in rich benefits besides.  Just as the penalty through Adam’s unrighteous act of sinning brought results towards all men, so the blessing through Christ’s righteous act of dying for sin brings results to all men as well.  The word “upon” has the meaning of “towards”, for the penalty came towards all, and so does the gift. 
Not only is the one who believes justified in the sense of “reckoned righteous”, but the legal obligation to death is removed, so justification is “justification of life”.  The ground of resurrection is taken up, so that the believer is clear of the consequences of Adam’s fall.

Verse 19    The state of many as sinners, and the state of many as righteous.

5:19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Not only is the condition of man dealt with by Christ, but the nature as well.  By Adam’s disobedience to the plain command of God, man was made or constituted a sinner.  It is not, of course, that God made men to sin, but that by their link with Adam they have become, sinners by nature.  On the other hand, Christ obeyed His Father, even to the extent of death, and those who believe in Him are reckoned righteous by God- that is how He sees them now. 

Verse 20    The law cannot deal with the sin-principle.

5:20  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

The apostle now deals with a possible objection from Jewish readers.  Can the law not remedy this situation?  The answer is that it cannot, for when the law came in, it resulted in the situation becoming worse, not better, for it showed up sins as never before, and offered no remedy for the nature that produced those sins.  It dealt with the symptoms but not the disease.

The only answer to man’s nature as a sinner is the grace of God in the gospel, which alone has the power to overcome the obstacles represented by sin, death, and the law, and set up its rule in the hearts of men on a righteous basis.  That righteous basis being the death of Christ at Calvary, not the supposed good works of men.

Verse 21    Final doctrinal summary.

5:21  That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 

So it is that the sad truth of verse 12, expressed here as “sin hath reigned unto death”, can be exchanged for “even so might grace reign”.  Grace so dominates the scene that it sweeps sin off its throne in the heart, and robs death of its power over those who believe.  And all this happens on a righteous basis, even the death of Christ, and leaves the way clear for the possession and enjoyment of eternal life in all its fulness.  The apostle is careful at the close of the passage to attribute all this to Jesus Christ, who has shown Himself to be worthy of the title Lord.  He has overcome every dominating principle, and shows Himself superior to them by His death and resurrection.

HEBREWS CHAPTER 1

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The epistle to the Hebrews was written for a threefold purpose.  First, to encourage those from the nation of Israel who had truly believed to not lose heart because of the sufferings they were enduring, but rather to go on with Christ.

Second, to convince those still unbelieving in Israel, that the One they crucified was in fact their true Messiah, and to continue to ignore Him was to invite Divine judgement.  He Himself had warned of the consequences of not believing Him with the words, “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”, John 8:24.

Third, to warn those in danger of turning back from the profession they had made in Christ that He was their only hope, and their best policy was to place genuine faith in Him to the salvation of their souls.

The writer describes his epistle as a “word of exhortation”, 13:22, the only other use of this expression being in Acts 13:15, where it refers to an address given in a synagogue. This may account for the difference in style from the rest of the epistles.  It also accounts for the fact that the word God opens the letter, and not the name of the writer.  See Acts 7:7; 13:17.

The first section runs from 1:1 to 2:5, and here the writer declares four things:
 That the Lord Jesus is superior to the prophets, whom the Hebrews revered.
 That He is superior to angels whom the Hebrews respected.
 That He is seated in heaven having purged sins, a thing which Old Testament sacrifices could not effect.
 That His place in heaven is the guarantee that He will reign on the earth, which no-one else is qualified to do.

This first section has two themes, and then a warning.  The themes are designed to convince the Hebrews that Christ is supreme:
In verses 1-3, Christ ascends the throne of God in heaven, where He is still present, proof positive that His work on earth meets God’s approval.
In verses 4-2:4, Christ is seen in the future on the throne of David, which becomes at last in the truest sense, the throne of Jehovah, 1 Chronicles 29:23.
In 2:1-4 the warning is against neglecting the salvation that Christ came to bring to the nation.

The references to the reign of Christ on earth, (the world or habitable earth to come, 2:5), are made to assure the Hebrews of the following things:
 God has not cast them off as a people.
 He has confidence in “the carpenter of Nazareth”, for He is His Son.
 His character as King-Priest is displayed already in the heavenly sanctuary.  This is the sign that He will indeed be a priest upon His throne in a coming day, see Zechariah 6:13.
 There is a vital connection between His purging of sins, and the reconciling of all things, Colossians 1:20.
 It is worthwhile being in relationship with Christ, for He is the coming King, and His enemies will be made His footstool.  To know Him is to be His associate, not His enemy.
 That those who were prepared to accept a dual-Messiah idea, with Jesus of Nazareth as the suffering Messiah, but another, yet to come, as the sovereign Messiah, are shown to be wrong.  Jesus Christ combines both in His person.

The present exalted position of the Lord Jesus at the right hand of the throne of God would be a great encouragement to the believers amongst the Hebrews.  Isaiah was no doubt disappointed by the death of King Uzziah, but he was shown Christ in glory, Isaiah 6, John 12:37-41.  Ezekiel must have been depressed as he sat with the captives by the river, but he was shown the throne of God, and the likeness of the appearance of a man above upon it, Ezekiel 1:26.  Daniel must have been dismayed by the thought of great Gentile powers dominating the earth, when he knew that was rightly Messiah’s role, but he saw in vision the Son of Man approach the throne of God to be given a kingdom that will never be destroyed, Daniel 7:13,14.  Stephen was disowned by his own nation, as his Saviour had been, but what caused his face to glow was the sight of Jesus in heaven, Acts 7:55,56.  John, on the isle of Patmos  was deprived of fellowship and comfort, but he was given a vision of coming things, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our God, and of His Christ, Revelation 5:5-7.  So when the word came to the Hebrew believers, “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”, they must have been greatly heartened.

The words “Son”, (who He is in eternity), “purged”, (what He did at Calvary), and “sat down”, (where He is in glory), sum up the epistle.  His person, His purging and His place are the key elements which show Him to be better than anything the Hebrews had known in Old Testament times.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1-3

1:1  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

 1:2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

1:1    God, who…spake- This epistle begins with an emphasis on the way God had spoken to the nation of Israel. This theme continues throughout, for in chapter 2 the word spoken through angels, (the Law at Sinai), is contrasted with the word spoken by the Lord, 2:3, a reference to His speaking when upon the earth.  In 3:7 they are exhorted to hear the voice of Christ as Son.  In 4:12 the (spoken) word of God is in view, referring to the word of Christ to them, (and hence an incidental proof of the Deity of Christ); whilst in 12:25-29 the warning is against rejecting the word of the one who spoke at Sinai, who speaks now in grace and salvation, and who will speak again in judgement to those who reject Him.  Once again the Deity of Christ is affirmed, for the one who shall speak when He comes in glory is the same one who spoke at Sinai.  So the latter passage gathers up the three aspects of the speaking, in law, in grace, in judgement. Men either prefer law to grace, clinging to their works, or ignore grace and receive judgement.

It is important for the writer to prove the superiority of Christ not only to the angels through whom the Law was given, 2:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19, but also to the prophets, who brought the word of God to the people subsequently. On the Mount of Transfiguration Moses represented the Law, and Elijah the prophets, yet the word from heaven was “hear Him”, for He who had spoken indirectly by the prophets, was now speaking directly, in the Person of Christ.  Moses himself had received the assurance from God that a prophet like unto him would be raised up, Deuteronomy 18; Acts 3.  The writer is insisting that Jesus Christ was that prophet.  See also John 1:21; Acts 3:22.  It is important for him to show Christ as superior to prophets, before he turns to the subject of His King-Priesthood, since the prophets as a class were faithful to God, whereas many kings and priests in Israel were not.

Later on the writer will emphasise the fact that Christ is King-priest, so He supersedes the three offices that were prominent in Israel. The Lord Jesus was rejected by elders who governed, (instead of a king), chief priests who officiated, and scribes who taught, (instead of prophets).  These were all appointed by men, and as such were false shepherds, who had “climbed up some other way”, John 10:1.  These princes of this world were ignorant as to who the Lord of Glory was, 1 Corinthians 2:8, and hence they crucified Him. 

At sundry times- literally “in many portions”, meaning that an individual prophet could not embrace all the truth of God. Nor could a prophet be present at all times during Israel’s history. He who is the “I am”, unaffected by time and change, is relevant at all times. 

And in diverse manners- divers is the old word for diverse.  The prophets spoke in different ways as fitted the circumstance.  Sometimes judging, at other times consoling and exhorting.  They spoke of coming judgement and coming glory.  Some, like Ezekiel, acted out their prophecies.  Now, however, everything is concentrated in the Son, who has the capacity to speak in whatever way is relevant.  He who is “the truth”, can embrace it all.  When Christ asked His disciples who the people said He was, they answered with various suggestions, Matthew 16:13,14.  Some of the people saw in Christ likeness to Isaiah, (delighting in salvation), others, to Jeremiah, (weeping, and rejected of his own people), still others, to Elijah, (courageous, reforming, and a miracle worker). Others said He was John the Baptist risen from the dead, showing they thought that He deserved to rise from the dead.  We should not be surprised at the names the people mentioned, for since He is the Son of the Living God, and the features seen in the prophets were the expression of the life of God, then they are to be expected in the Son.  It is interesting to notice that they did not say He was like Moses, the law-giver, for they appreciated that grace marked Him. 

Spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets- Note the contrast between time past and last days.  The word for past here means old, in the sense of worn-out.  See verses 11 and 12, for Divinely established things wearing out and needing to be replaced, and link with 8:13, where the law-system was waxing old and was ready to vanish away.  The Hebrews are being prepared for the truth that even Divinely-established things can become old and in need of replacing.  There needed to be a fresh beginning, and this comes in with Christ.  Fathers is a term of respect for ancestors, but also a reminder that it was the fathers who ill-treated the prophets, Matthew 23:29-33, and the children of the prophets who were guilty of rejecting “the prophet”, Acts 3:22-26; John 1:21; Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19. 

1:2    Hath in these last days- a Hebrew expression for the end of the age of the Law, prior to the age of the Messiah, the two divisions of time as far as Israel knew.  Note that the speaking is still in the last days of the law, for the latter did not come to an end until Christ died, 7:18,28.  The church age is unknown in the Old Testament.  A reminder that a critical point had been reached, and if they miss out on Christ, they will miss out entirely. 

Spoken unto us by His Son- The contrast is with the character of the speakers, not between “by” and “in”.  The prophets were agents outside of the Godhead, whereas now the speaking is directly by God, in (the person of) His Son, and this gives the speaking a different character, for it is no longer at different times and in different ways, but all centred in the Son.  The difference is between the prophets as a class, taken from among men, and Christ in His character as Son, taken from among the persons of the Godhead.  So the speaking is now concentrated, in relation to time and content, as with prophets it could not be, and also consummated, for it is now last days, and the Son has come.  The parable of the vineyard, Matthew 21:33-46, spoke of servants, more servants, (corresponding to the early and the latter prophets), then last of all, his son, corresponding to Christ as Son of God.  The prophets said “Thus saith the Lord”, but Christ said “Verily, verily, I say unto you”. How foolish to ignore such a Speaker!  “To whom shall we go, for Thou hast the words of eternal life,” was the confession of Peter, and also of all who truly believe, John 6:68. 

The Sonship of Christ indicates Deity, for to be the son of a father means to share his nature.  There are expressions in Scripture like “sons of Belial”, (worthlessness), “sons of thunder”, “son of consolation”, “sons of disobedience”.  The idea is not that a person is descended from the thunder, for example, but rather that he has a stormy nature. 

Christ is presented in Hebrews as God’s Firstborn Son, the administrator of the Father’s affairs.  As such, He, like firstborn sons generally, fulfils a prophet/priest/king rôle, speaking to the family for the father, introducing the family into the father’s presence, and administering the father’s affairs.  This is all worked out in the epistle as a whole.  Hence He fulfils His prophetic role by speaking to Israel, just as He had spoken the worlds into being as firstborn, Colossians 1:15,16, and upholds them by the word of His power.  He speaks as priest too, for He ever lives to make intercession, 7:25.  He will speak as king, for His voice will soon shake earth and heaven, 12:25-27.

The titles Only begotten and Firstborn compared and contrasted:
Only begotten eternally- “The only begotten Son, which is (permanently) in the bosom of the Father”, John 1:18.  “That eternal life, which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2.
First born eternally.  For He was appointed heir before He made the worlds.  Creation is by Him and for Him as firstborn, Colossians 1:16.  There is no point of time in eternity, so He was ever the appointed one in the eternal counsels. 

Only- begotten is in relation to the Father, John 1:18.
Firstborn is in relation to creation and believers, Colossians 1:15,18.
As Only begotten He is alone.
As firstborn He has many brethren, Romans 8:29.

His only begotten relationship is not shared.
His firstborn rights are shared- for Hebrews 12:23 speaks of “the church of firstborn ones written in heaven”,

As only begotten, He is in the Father’s bosom, John 1:18.
As firstborn, He is about His Father’s business, Luke 2:49; John 3:35.

Whom He hath appointed heir of all things- the idea of firstborn rights must come from “the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named”, Ephesians 3:15.  This is seen in the fact that there is no regulation about firstborn rights in the early chapters of Genesis, yet the idea was practised, and given Divine approval.  It is therefore a reflection of eternal counsels.  No doubt God spoke to Adam about many things as He walked and talked with him in the garden of Eden.
“Appointed heir” does not imply a specific moment, since we are thinking of Divine and eternal things- moments of time have no relevance there.  Joseph was Jacob’s firstborn son, replacing Reuben, but he was not in control of everything, for the right to rule was given to Judah, 1 Chronicles 5:1,2.  Christ, however, has all things under His control.  As heir, the Son has a double portion, heavenly and earthly, (compare the stars and sheaves of Joseph’s dream, Genesis 37:6-11).  If He has control of all things, (just as Joseph had everything under his hand, Genesis 39:4-6) then we must be linked to Him if we are to have blessing from God.  “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him”, John 3:35,36.

The fact that He is heir highlights the sin of crucifying Him.  The language of the parable was, “Come, this is the heir, let us kill Him”; Matthew 22:38.  And chapter 6:6 speaks of crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh.  To crucify the Son again is crime indeed! 

By whom also He made the worlds- Note the “whom” and “to whom”, with Christ the passive one, whereas in verse 3 it is “who”, Christ’s active work as one charged with representing the Father’s interests, and those of the family of God too.  As the Creator, Christ has authority over creation, yet He was in the world, the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not, John 1:10.  Angels, demons, animals, birds, fishes, all responded to Him in His lifetime, and recognised Him in some way, but men did not, and crucified Him.

The making of the worlds is one way in which Christ displays what God is, as Romans 1:18-20 indicates.  As the Creator, He could bypass what rain did to the vine when it fell, and the best wine was ready in an instant, John 2:1-11.  He could also do to a fig tree what happens when rain does not fall, even dry it up by the roots, Matthew 21:19. 

“By whom” does not imply He was merely a creature-agent, given power from God to do things.  Romans 11:36 says all things are “through Him”, meaning God, but none can give God the power to act.  John 1:3 is clear that not one thing that has come into being has done so without Christ, so He did not come into being, or else He made Himself!  This subject is returned to in verses 10-12, contrasting the angels with the Creator.

There are three words for world in the New Testament.  There is “kosmos”, (which gives us “cosmetic”, and “cosmos”), which, in an ideal sense, is the world of symmetry, beauty, and harmony, (the opposite being chaos), but which has now been corrupted by Satan into the world of hostility to God; “aionas”, (which gives us “aeon”), the world of history; and “oikeumene”, (which gives us “ecumenical”), the world of humanity.  The word used here is “aionas”, the world as an age, the world of history, although it is used in 11:3 in connection with things.  “The aggregate of things contained in time”, Grimm.  The world of matter and time, (which came into being at the same moment, the “beginning” of Genesis 1:1), is the stage for the unfolding of the truth of God.  This is now finalised in Christ, for “once in the end of the world (or the consummation of the ages) hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”, 9:26.

1:3    Who being the brightness of His glory- He does not merely reflect, but rather radiates the glory of God, as the sunlight has the same character as the sun.  He is the Shekinah of Psalm 80, shining forth from between the cherubims above the ark, so that Israel may be saved.  Aaron had to make a cloud of incense to shield him from the glory, that he die not, for to see God was to die.  But that glory was Christ!  Aaron entered the presence of God without his garments of glory and beauty, lest anything detract from the glory of God. 

And the express image of His person- “The exact expression of His essence”.  Christ expresses in Himself all that the Godhead is in Itself.  To see Him is to see the Father, to know His comfort is to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit, for He is another comforter of the same sort, John 14:16; Luke 2:25, where “consolation” is the same word as “comforter”.  The word person translates hupostasis, which was used in ordinary speech of a foundation.  The idea is of an underlying and steadfast thing.  Christ is the unique, full, and exact expression of all that God is in the essence of His Being.  The Son is personally distinct from, and yet literally equal to, the One of whom He is the full expression.  Note later quotations that call the Son “God”, and “Jehovah”, verses 8, and 10. 

And upholding all things by the word of His power- The Targums, (Jewish commentaries), and Rabbis often spoke of God in this way.  This is part of His first-born work, of maintaining and bearing responsibility for everything for the Godhead. He has power sufficient for any task, and can maintain everything intact for God, and also cause it to pass and replace it, as verse 12 says.  The idea behind upholding is not simply supporting, or even maintaining, but “carrying toward a final goal”.  He so manages the universe that it moves inevitably to the goal set for it in the Divine Purpose. 

When He had by Himself purged our sins- So whatever is involved in purging sins, it is given character by who He is that does it, for He did it “by Himself”, in all the glory of His person.  In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement is called the Day of Purification.

Notice how the glories of Christ relate to the work of purging sins:
 As Son He purged sins, so He did the work with Divine insight.
 As firstborn and heir He purged sins, for He cannot inherit a defiled inheritance, whether it be His people, or His land, or His world. 
 As the maker of all things, He knows perfectly the difference between what things are now, and what they were when He made them very good, including man. 
 As the brightness of the glory, He brings things back by his purging, so that they glorify God. 
 As the exact expression of the essence of God, He purges in conformity with the Divine character.
 As the upholder of all things, He maintains what He establishes in the material world, and in the spiritual.  Note the contrasts, however, for sins are not things, but are moral offences, yet He can deal with these too.  He upholds by His word, but can only purge sins through His death.

Note the following facts about the words “by Himself”:
 The purging of sins cannot be done by merely speaking, even though He upholds all things by the word of His power. 
 It cannot be done with the help of another, for all others, (Aaron included, see 7:27), need a sin-offering themselves, so He did it by the sacrifice of Himself, not needing a personal sin-offering. 
 He needs no special vestments to make Him suitable for God’s presence, as Aaron did; what He is in Himself is enough. 
 He needs no sacrifice or officiating priest, but did the work alone.

Three things were purged in Leviticus 16:16-19 as a result of propitiation- the sanctuary, reminding us that Christ has purified the heavenly sanctuary, of which the tabernacle was a representation, Hebrews 9:23; the altar of incense, reminding us that the Lord Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us, Hebrews 7:25; the people, Leviticus 16:30, reminding us that we have been purged in conscience from dead works, to serve the living God, Hebrews 9:14.  The phrase is literally “made purgation for sins”, so it is the work itself in view here, not the result of the work in persons being individually purged from sins; that comes later, in 9:14.

There are three main results from propitiation. In relation to God, the demands of God regarding sins are met fully.  In relation to man, there can be reconciliation to God, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Romans 5:11.  In relation to heaven and earth, the defilement of sin can be removed, so that God can righteously bring in a new heavens and a new earth which shall never be spoiled by sin, John 1:29, Daniel 9:24. 

Sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high- literally, “He set Himself down”, confident of His place with the Father, and of the sufficiency of His work.  As His work of purging sins is complete, He can sit down, as no Aaronic priest was able to do, see Hebrews 10:11-14.  As Son, He ever had the right to be on the throne, but now as firstborn Son, and moreover as a man, He is given the place at the right hand of the Father.  See the incident in Genesis 48:12-14 which shows the importance of the right hand of a father.  As one who is the brightness of the glory, He had dealt with sins in conformity with the majesty of God, and God can now be appropriately designated “The Majesty”, with every question as to whether He was able to deal with sins finally removed. “Majesty” means greatness, and Christ ensures that nothing can reduce God’s standing and dignity.  In chapter 1, Christ is seated as firstborn.  In 8:1 He is seated as one firmly established; in chapter 10:12 as finaliser, and in chapter 12:2 as the faithful one.

As the heir He is responsible for Administering.
As the one who made the worlds, for Creating.
As the one who is the brightness, for Radiating.
As the one who is the image, for Expressing.
As the one upholding all things, for Preserving.
As the one who purged sins, for Propitiating.
As the one who is sat down on the throne, for Completing.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 4 TO 14

1:4  Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

 1:5  For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

 1:6  And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

 1:7  And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

 1:8  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

 1:9  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

 1:10  And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

 1:11  They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

 1:12  And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 1:13  But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

 1:14  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? 

There is a correspondence between the seven-fold glories of Christ in verses 1-3, and the seven quotations from the Old Testament in verses 4-14, as follows:

DESCRIPTIONS QUOTATIONS  
His Son.  Thou art My Son.  
Appointed heir  By inheritance…He shall be to Me a Son.  
Made the worlds Of old Thou hast laid the foundation of earth.  
Brightness of glory   Psalm 104- “Clothed with honour and majesty”.  
Express image  Thou Lord (Jehovah)…  
Upholding all things  As a vesture Thou shalt fold them up.  
Sat…on the right hand   Sit on My right hand.  

 A summary of the seven quotations is as follows:-                                  
      

First    God to the Son.  The decree establishing His rule.
Second  God speaking about the Son.  The devotedness which marks His rule.
Third   God speaking to the angels. The deference to be given when He rules.
Fourth  God speaking about the angels.  The demands He makes when He rules.
Fifth  God to the Son, and about Him as God.  The Deity of the one who rules.
Sixth God to the Son, and about Him as Jehovah.  The duration of the One who rules.
Seventh God to the Son, but never to the angels in the same terms.  The dominion of the One who rules.

                                                                                                                
1:4    Being made so much better than the angels- the idea behind “being made” is “having become”, or “proving Himself to be”.  He becomes, by purging, superior to the angels who administered the first covenant, with its purging only of the flesh, Hebrews 9:13.  The word for made here is “ginomai” which is used “in passages where it is specified who or what a person of thing is or has been rendered, as respects quality, condition, place, rank or character”- Grimme.  So the Son has proved Himself to be superior to angels by all the things He is said to do in verses 1-3. 
As He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they- The more excellent name is Firstborn Son, and because the idea of inheritance is bound up with the word firstborn, (for the size of a son’s share of the inheritance depended on whether he was firstborn or not), as soon as this Firstborn Son begins to enter into His inheritance, then He can begin to be called by His proper title of firstborn.  It is part of the inheritance, and so He can be said to inherit it.  He is “Firstborn from among the dead”, Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5.  The words “so much”, and “as”, taken together, give to us the idea of the measurement of the glory of His name, bearing in mind that the name is more than a title, and involves reputation.  The measure of how much better He has become, is the greatness of the name He is given, and the greatness of this name is understood from the next verses, hence the “for” at the beginning of verse 5.  God Himself leads the way in these quotations by introducing His Son into the world under the title Firstbegotten.

1:5    For unto which of the angels said He at any time- The angels rejoiced when the earth was established, and they will no doubt rejoice again when it is delivered from the bondage of corruption, but they have not been given the task of doing that.  See 2:5.  The angels could never be only begotten sons, but Lucifer was called the son of the morning, Isaiah 14:12.  He may have been the first one created, and might aspire to the title firstborn.  Hence his hatred of, and opposition to, the Son of God.

Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?- Angels are called sons of God in the Old Testament, Job 1:6, but to none of them were these words spoken, for the word son is being used in a distinctive sense here in relation to Christ.  In Luke 3:38 Adam is called son of God, but when in Luke 4:3 the Devil tempted Christ he said, “If Thou be the Son of God command this stone that it be made bread”.  Clearly, the Devil distinguishes the sonship of Adam from that of Christ, for there would have been no point in tempting Adam to turn a stone into bread. 

These words were originally spoken to David when he ascended the throne of Israel, Psalm 2:7, which is dated BC 1047, the year after David began to reign.  As king in Israel, David was to administer for God, the primary task of the firstborn.  David had been harassed and hunted for many years by Saul and his supporters, but at last he was brought into prominence in Israel, and the anointing which had taken place when he was but a lad, now authorised him to reign.  So it is that David writes of God saying, “Yet (despite the raging of his enemies, verses 1,2) have I set, (or anointed) My king upon My holy hill of Zion”, Psalm 2:6.  But now these words find their fulfilment in Christ, and all that was foreshadowed by the reign of David, shall come to pass through David’s son, who is also David’s Lord, Matthew 22:41-46. 

The fact that these words can be spoken in a limited sense to David, yet not in any sense to the angels, shows that it is to a man that these words come.  The believers in Acts 4:25,26 applied the words of Psalm 2 to the Lord Jesus as He was raged at by the kings of the earth.  Now the writer to the Hebrews is quoting later verses from the psalm, to show that the one Israel rejected and crucified is indeed to be established by God as His firstborn, “higher than the kings of the earth”, Psalm 89:27. 
Psalm 2:7 is quoted again in 5:5 to show that Christ in resurrection and ascension has the title of firstborn, now that as High Priest He has displaced Aaron as priest. 
In Acts 13:33 the words are used in connection with Him being raised up in Israel at His baptism, with the words of Psalm 16 being used to show that He was not left in the grave.  The baptism of Christ marked the beginning of His prophetic ministry.

The Hebrew word “yalad” meaning begotten, used in Psalm 2:7, is also translated “declare their pedigree” in Numbers 1:18.  It was unheard of for one who was Son of God to be crucified on a cross, and be cursed of God, but God has declared His pedigree by raising Him from the dead, as Romans 1:4 also indicates, “declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection of the dead”.

It is important that the Hebrews be reassured that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah, and that His present place in heaven is not a signal that the kingdom they expected will not be established.  If He disappoints them in that, then He might disappoint them in other ways.  So the seven quotations which are made here serve to show His competence to reign.  Chapter 2:5 assures us that what is being spoken of in these verses is the time when the habitable earth in the future, (the world to come), will be under the sway of God’s king.  The seven quotations (which have to with His manifestation on earth the second time), enforce the truth set out in the opening verses, with their seven-fold description of Christ’s glories, (which glories were manifest when He came the first time).

Peter made it clear on the Day of Pentecost that David was still in the grave, and had not ascended into heaven.  But Christ is risen, and ascended, thus showing that the way is open for the throne of David to be occupied by a man who is clear of death, and can reign for ever.  So not only by His birth is He uniquely qualified to sit on David’s throne, (for all others of David’s line through Solomon are unable to overcome the obstacle represented by God’s curse on Jechoniah’s descendants, Jeremiah 22:29,30), but by His resurrection also.  He is able to reign without interruption for ever, with none raising an objection.

And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?- This is a statement that was made in the first instance to David about Solomon, his immediate successor.  “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for My name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.  I will be his father, and he shall be My son.  If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever”, 2 Samuel 7:12-16.  Solomon did indeed proceed out of David’s bowels, verse 12, and have an established kingdom.  He did indeed build a house for Jehovah, verse 13.  It is also true that he committed iniquity, verse 14, yet the kingdom was not taken away from him, verse 15.  Now clearly the house and royal line of David has been interrupted, so how can the promise that they will be established for ever be fulfilled?  Only by Christ coming of the seed of David, and rising from the dead to be alive for evermore.  The writer to the Hebrews, inspired by the same Spirit that inspired Nathan to prophesy to David, understands this, hence he shows that the vitally important part of the prophecy, upon which all the rest depends, was perfectly fulfilled in Christ.  Because this is so, there is no question of Him being disciplined for iniquity, or having the throne removed from Him.  It is noticeable that the writer of the Book of Chronicles does not mention anything about iniquity, and also tells us additional things that God must have said through Nathan to David, but which the writer of 2 Samuel 7 does not record; for he was concerned to encourage those who had returned from exile in Babylon, and one way he did it was to record the history of the kings of Judah in such a way that features which will be seen to perfection in the Messiah are highlighted.

2 Samuel 7:12-15  1 Chronicles 17:11-14
I will set up thy seed after thee… I will raise up thy seed after thee…
I will establish his kingdom…     I will establish his kingdom…
He shall build a house for My name… He shall build Me a house…
 I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever…  I will stablish his throne for ever…
I will be His father…  I will be His father
He shall be My son…  He shall be My son
If he commit iniquity…  (omitted)
Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever…  Settle him in Mine house and in My kingdom.
Thy throne shall be established for ever.  His throne shall be established for evermore.

“I will be to Him a Father” signifies that God will guarantee to Christ all the resources He needs, in terms of affection and direction, to enable Him to reign on the earth.  Just as He was dependant on the Father when here the first time, it will be the same when He reigns- He will not be independent then either.  This is indicated by the fact that on the Mount of Transfiguration, when a preview of the coming kingdom was given to the disciples, He is said to have been praying, Luke 9:29.

“He shall be to Me a Son” indicates that all that a father expects from a son will be forthcoming from Christ, in terms of loyalty and diligence.  This too will be manifest when He reigns, for His reign will be mediatorial, on behalf of the Father, to whom He will then give it up at the end of 1000 years, 1 Corinthians 15:24.  Therefore Jesus the Messiah can be relied on by God- He should be relied on by the Hebrews.  Being more honoured than any angel, and more than two of the most illustrious kings Israel have ever had, David and Solomon, He is surely worthy of their trust.

1:6    And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world He saith- the word for world here is “habitable earth”, just as it is in 2:5. 

The following things are brought out in this chapter with regard to the reign of Christ over the earth as the sphere of Christ’s rule in the future: 

1. Verse 5 Christ is heir of it.
2. Verse 7 Angels serve it.
3. Verse 8 God’s throne governs it.
4. Verse 10 Earth was made for it.
5. Verse 12 Earth is folded up at the end of it.
6. Verse 12 Christ reigns continuously throughout it.
7. Verse 13 Enemies are expelled from it
8. Verse 14 Saints inherit it.
9. Chapter 2:4 Miracles foreshadow it, for they are the powers of the age to come, 6:5.

 
God has decreed that in all things Christ should have the pre-eminence, as is seen in the following scriptures:

In Hebrews 2:8 All things are to be put under Christ as man.
In Ephesians 1:10 All things will be gathered together into one in Christ.
In Luke 24:44 All things must be fulfilled.
In Colossians 1:20 All things must be reconciled.
In 2 Peter 3:11 All things shall be dissolved, to make way for a new heaven and earth.

 The scene, then, is millenial, and God is going to introduce His Son into this world again.  At His first coming, He was sent by God, but when He comes to earth again, so pleased is His Father because of all He was the first time, He is going to personally introduce Him.  Perhaps this is what the Lord Jesus meant at the time of the Mount of Transfiguration experience, (when the power and coming of Christ were manifested to the apostles, 2 Peter 1:16), when He spoke of coming “in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels”, Luke 9:26. 

And let all the angels of God worship Him- This is a quotation from Psalm 97:7.  In that psalm the kingdom of Christ is anticipated, and especially the beginning of it when He comes in flaming fire taking vengeance on His enemies.  Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8, with Psalm 97:3.  It is Jehovah who is said to come in Psalm 97, but Jesus is Jehovah, equally with the Father and the Spirit.  At that time all the angels (the meaning of “gods”) will worship Him, in effect acknowledging that to none of them has the honour of reigning been given.

1:7    And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire- having told us things about Christ to show why He is superior to angels, we now learn what makes the angels inferior to Him. This is a quotation from Psalm 104:4, which speaks of God as the creator and sustainer of all things.  Indeed, the psalm is a commentary on the six days of creation, and then finishes with what may be thought of as a Sabbath hymn of praise to God.  Since the Son is the exact expression of the essence of God, the writer is free to attribute what is said of Jehovah in Psalm 104 to Christ.  And the matter he emphasises is that He made the angels!  Here is further proof of the inferiority of angels to Christ, for they, for all their glory and might, are simply the product of His hand. 

Consider the following facts about angels in comparison with Christ:
 “For by Him (Christ) were all things created…whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers”, Colossians 1:16. 
 The angels are said to be made as spirits, so they have not the ability to die, as Christ had because He took flesh and blood.  They will never attain to the glories He has won by His death. 
 Notice, too, that they are His angels, they belong to Him by creatorial right, and therefore in gratitude to Him for ever making them, they ought to worship Him. 
 They are said to be His ministers, for while Christ has taken the form of a servant, and serves man, He is not said to serve angels. 
 They are a flame of fire, sent out on missions of burning judgement, whereas Christ came in grace, and rebuked disciples who wanted to call fire down on men, Luke 9:54-56. 
 Given the supreme worthiness of Christ, it is only right for them to worship Him.

1:8    But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever- this is the second thing that God says directly to His Son.  The words are a quotation from Psalm 45, which is a marriage song for a king, a song of loves.  The psalm speaks of God anointing this one, yet He is called God! The throne of Solomon is called “the throne of the Lord” in 1 Chronicles 29:23.  Here is the full expression of that.  When Solomon sat there it was only the throne of God in a faint sense, but when God manifest in flesh sits on it, then it will indeed be the throne of Jehovah.  The promise to David was that his seed would reign for ever, and here is the fulfilment of the promise, for Christ is risen from the dead to die no more, and He is coming to establish a kingdom which shall last for ever, Daniel 7:14.  “Of His kingdom there shall be no end”, Luke 1:33.  How Satan must shudder at these words, for they indicate that what he sought from the beginning shall never be his.  They explain his hostility to Christ when the wise men sought one who was born king, and when he motivated Herod to slay the infants, Matthew 2:2,16. 

A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom- verse 4 of Psalm 45 exhorts Christ to ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness, and this He will do.  He shall come from heaven riding on a white horse, Revelation 19:11-16, and shall judge all the injustice of the earth.  At last He will be vindicated for His stand for the truth when He came the first time, and shall “bring forth judgement unto truth”, Isaiah 42:3.  All the meekness He displayed before the kings of earth at His first coming will be recompensed, too, for “the servant of rulers”, shall be worshipped by kings and princes, Isaiah 49:7.  The emphasis, however, is on His righteousness, for “He that ruleth over men must be just”, 2 Samuel 23:3, and David had to admit that his “house was not so with God”, verse 5, yet he remembered that God had made with him an “everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure”.  When David’s son and David’s Lord reigns, righteousness will be established for ever.  The word for righteousness in this verse means straightness, and is connected with the word used in Matthew 3:3, “make His paths straight”.  Men gave Him a reed, the symbol of weakness, as if He had no power to rule, and as if He could be shaken in the wind, but He was, and will be, steadfast, upright and true in His judgement in the future, as He was in His dealings in the past.

There is a connection between the word for sceptre and the word for tribe.  Jacob had used this word for sceptre when he prophesied that the sceptre would not depart from Judah, nor the law-giver from between his feet, until the coming of Shiloh, Genesis 49:10, Shiloh being one of the names of the Messiah.  Judah, however, had given up his staff to Tamar, Genesis 38:18,26, and subsequently had to admit that she was more righteous than he was, for she knew that it was her duty to have children, in case she was destined to be the mother of the Messiah.  While this was happening, Joseph was being tempted by Potiphar’s wife, and overcoming.  Hence while the right to rule was taken from Reuben and given to Judah, the moral character demanded of a ruler was only found in Joseph, hence the rôles are divided in Israel’s family, but are united in Christ.  He has the right to rule as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but has the moral character to do so, for He is the Lamb slain, Revelation 5:5,6.

1:9    Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity- looking back on the life of Christ at His first coming, it is clear He was righteous, so He is called Jesus Christ the righteous one, 1 John 1:1. – His love of the one, and hatred of the other, was complete.  He did not even stand in the way of sinners, much less walk in it, Psalm 1:1.  The word to David’s house was “if he commit iniquity”  As we saw in verse 5, Solomon did commit iniquity, but “a greater than Solomon is here”, Matthew 12:42, and He is totally free from all wrong.  Here is one of David’s line, yet who is not descended through Joseph the son of David, Matthew 1:20.  The marriage of Joseph to Mary before Christ was born ensures, however, that He has the legal right to the throne.  According to Jewish law, any child born to a man’s fiancé was legally his child, even if he was not the physical father.  Therefore the legal claim was stronger than the physical claim, so Christ’s claim to the throne through Joseph is sound.  Note that Christ’s resurrection is “far more evident”, Hebrews 7:15, and by implication that His birth of the tribe of Judah is evident, verse 14.  It is said that the Temple records Matthew probably consulted to compile the genealogy he gives were destroyed in AD 70.  But God saw to it that the genealogy of Christ was preserved in another place before that happened. 

Therefore, God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows- the one who is the true God, is Messiah’s God, for He is a dependant man upon the earth. A specially scented oil was reserved for the favoured guest at a feast, so that he was honoured above his fellow-guests.  Since Psalm 45, from which this is quoted, is a song of loves, probably composed to be sung at the marriage of a king, the feast is a marriage feast, that of the King’s Son, Matthew 22:1-7. 

Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power; in other words, by the one the oil symbolised, not the symbol.  David was anointed twice, first in obscurity, as “the least”, 1 Samuel 16:11, margin, keeping the flocks, whom they did not bother to call, who was, so to speak, “despised and rejected of men”.  Then he was anointed again, once he had gained the throne.  This anointing was “according to the word of the Lord by Samuel”, 1 Chronicles 11:3.  In other words, it was a reaffirmation of his original anointing, but this time surrounded by the nation, who described themselves as bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.  He was anointed above his fellows, the nation, just as he had been anointed above his fellows, his brethren.
Note the first and last words of the quotation, “Thy throne, O God…Thy fellows”.  In Zechariah 13:7 the word used for fellow means an equal, a direct testimony to the equality of the Shepherd with God. This is plain testimony to the truth of the Deity of Christ in the Old Testament, justifying His claim that the Old Testament testified of Him, John 5:39.  Here, however, the word means one who has been joined in fellowship with another, and this time we have an direct testimony to the true manhood of Christ, for He has men as fellows, yet He is addressed as God.  The word “fellows” in Hebrews 1:9 is the same as partakers, or companions, the words used in 2:14 and 3:1.

1:10    And, Thou, Lord- a further quotation, this time from Psalm 102:25-27.  The psalmist had lamented his position, and this is often taken as previewing Christ’s sufferings during His life, especially as depicting His experience in Gethsemane.  In which case the psalmist contrasts the brevity of his life, with the fact that Jehovah’s years would not fail. It is possible, however, to read it as if there is a change of speaker, so that the words, “Thou Lord” are spoken by Jehovah to the Messiah.  Certainly all that is said in this quotation is true of Christ.  Each of the persons of the Godhead may rightly be called “Jehovah”, just as they all may rightly be called God.  Each one may fully represent the whole Godhead in its power and authority.  In Romans 10 the apostle Paul does not hesitate to quote “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”, (bearing in mind that the words as originally penned by the prophet Joel referred to Jehovah), for he insists that to be saved we must confess Jesus to be Lord, i.e. to ascribe Deity to Him. So it is here.  The psalmist ranges over the whole of time, from the beginning to the end of things.  And before, and during, and after these things Christ remains in His timeless, unchangeable grandeur. 

In the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands-  God asked Job the question, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?”, Job 38:4.  Then it is said in verse 7, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”.  It seems that the heavens (with all their hosts, stellar and angelic) were made before the earth; hence the angels could rejoice at the founding of the earth.  This effectively disposes of both the Old Earth theory and the Gap-Theory.  Both these  ideas suppose that what God pronounced as very good was built on the ruins of former rebellion.  Those angels who fell must have done so after the creation week, for all was very good on the seventh day.  The millenial reign of Christ was prepared for from the foundation of the earth, Matthew 25:34; Hebrews 4:4,5. 

1:11    They shall perish, but Thou remainest- even Divinely established things perish, and are replaced, and this is relevant in another direction, for the law system was decaying, waxing old, and was ready to vanish away, 8:13.  The Hebrews are being prepared for the idea that Divinely established things are to be done away- they do not have to continue for ever just because God sets them up.  So with the system of sacrifices.  Remain means “to continue without interruption” for there is no principle of change with God, whereas creation will perish or be destroyed through the active intervention of God.  Peter speaks of the Day of God, the eternal day when He is supreme, “by reason of which” (margin) the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”, 2 Peter 3:10.  The earth is not only made to continue for ever, Psalm 104:5, (it has no built-in obsolescence), but also to be dissolved at the moment of God’s choosing.  The entrance of sin and corruption into the world has not disrupted the Divine Programme.  After all, Christ is the Architect of the Ages, for He made the worlds of time and space. 

And they all shall wax old as doth a garment- Isaiah 40:22 speaks of God stretching out the heavens as a curtain, and here they and the earth are likened to an old, worn-out garment.  In this verse the universe is destroyed by Divine design, whereas in the next verse it is folded up because of decay. 

1:12    And as a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail- So the heavens and the earth perish, but He remains; they are to be folded up, and changed, but He is the same, never putting off His garments of glory and beauty; they wax old, like Aaron who dies outside of Canaan, but His years do not fail, and He has entered in.  “Thou art the Same” indicates the unchangebleness of His Deity, whereas “Thy years shall not fail” speaks of His resurrection manhood. “He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest Him it, even length of days for ever and ever”, Psalm 21:4.  He is Jesus Christ the Same yesterday, (on earth), today, (in heaven), and for ever.  The Same is a Divine title, used in the Old Testament to emphasise the unchangebleness of God.  This is revealed in Christ, who was always consistent and unvarying in His character.  When asked “Who art Thou? He could reply, “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning”, John 8:25. 

Notice the ways in which these verses prepare us for the later teaching of the epistle:
 “Thou art My Son” not only guarantees His reign in a day to come, but since the same scripture is quoted in Hebrews 5:5, His priesthood is guaranteed and given Divine sanction also.
 He is priest upon His throne, whether in the future on earth, Zechariah 6:12,13, or at present in heaven, Hebrews 8:1.
 He is high priest in virtue of His Deity and manhood, (Jesus the Son of God, Hebrews 4:14), so we may count on His ministry at all times.  He combines Divine authority with sympathy as a man.
 He loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, reminding us that His priesthood is not to sympathise with our sins, (for He is unable to do that), but rather to succour us so that we do not sin, Hebrews 2:18; 4:14-16.
 He remains, and ever liveth to intercede for us, 7:25.  Zecharias remained (same word) speechless, Luke 1:22. 
 He is the same, and has an unchangeable priesthood; 7:24. 
 He does not fail, for He saves to the uttermost, right on to the end, 7:25.  The Greek word gives us “eclipse”, telling of one who is never overshadowed or overcome by another.
 He will never change His “priestly garments”, nor will they ever wax old and wear out.

1:13    But to which of the angels said He at any time, “Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?”- This is a rhetorical question, demanding a negative answer.  The psalm said, “The Lord said unto My Lord…”  so clearly angels are not being addressed.  Only one who is Lord can respond to this invitation.  Yet He does so as man!  It is one of the most amazing things possible, that there is a man on the throne of God.  This fact alone should have settled the matter of Christ’s superiority over everyone else.  Note that whereas in verse 3 Christ sat Himself down, confident that He had the right to do so, here, He sits down by invitation.  This assures us that He was justified in His confidence in verse 3.  Lucifer sought to exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the Most High in His exaltation and majesty, Isaiah 14:12-15.  Here is one who humbled Himself, and has been exalted, whereas Lucifer sought to exalt himself and has been abased, Luke 14:11. 

The right hand was the place for the firstborn.  Joseph had been displeased with his father because he had crossed his hands when blessing Ephraim and Manasseh.  He had presented Manasseh, who was born first, to Jacob’s right hand, but Jacob, by crossing his hands, gave Ephraim the firstborn’s place, Genesis 48:11-19.  So Christ is not only firstborn Son and heir by appointment in eternity, verse 2, but also by position at God’s right hand.  This position is reserved for Him until a certain time.  The particular word for “until” used here means “up to the time when”.  His position is a moral one, just as Queen Elizabeth is said to be on the throne of England, although she in fact rarely sits upon it physically.  This verse does not imply that He cannot come for the church before the defeat of His enemies at His coming to earth, because even 1000 years after that event He will still have enemies that need to be subdued, see Revelation 20:7-9. 

Note the recurring theme of enemies throughout the epistle, 10:13; 10:27; 12:25-29; 13:13, (camp is a military word, suggesting Israel were encamped against Christ, and were in military array against Him, see Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:25-28).  Joshua had made his captains put their feet on the necks of the defeated kings of Canaan, to show their utter subjection, Joshua 10:24. 

Benjamin, Jacob’s 12th son, and Joseph’s true brother, was “son of my right hand”, according to his father, but Benoni, “son of my sorrow”, according to his mother, Genesis 35:16-20.  He was born near Bethlehem, and amid sufferings and death, for his mother died giving birth to him.  Jeremiah recalls this in connection with the sufferings of the people of Israel, Jeremiah 31:15, and Matthew quotes his words in connection with the slaughter of the infants at the birth of Christ, Matthew 2:18.  This shows that He is able to relate to the sufferings the people of Israel go through, even the sufferings of the Great Tribulation, the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, Jeremiah 30:7.
So the first quotation in this chapter reminds us of what Leah said when she bare Jacob his first son, Reuben, “Behold, a son”.  And now the seventh quotation has reminded us of Jacob’s youngest son, Benjamin, the son of his father’s right hand.

1:14    Are they not all ministering spirits- far from having a right to the throne, every one of the angels is a minister, serving the interests of the throne of God.  And they are spirits, whereas Christ has acquired for Himself the right to sit on the throne of God by what He did in manhood. 

Sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?- Far from being seated, the angels speed forth to minister for the heirs of salvation.  Note it is “for” and not “to”.  Their service is indirect, and has to do with the physical preservation of those who will enter the kingdom.  All spiritual preservation is in the hands of Christ, for He is the author of eternal salvation, but He delegates lesser and temporal things to the angels.  See, for instance, Genesis 19:15; Acts 12:7-11,15. 

Heirs of salvation are those who, literally rendered, “are about to inherit salvation”.  This is the Greek way of saying it will be sure to happen.  As the Captain of salvation, 2:10, Christ leads His people into ultimate and eternal salvation, whether saints of this age brought to glory in heaven, or tribulation saints who enter the kingdom on earth.  A description of the latter aspect of salvation is found in the words of Zacharias in Luke 1:69-79: “That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life”.  Luke 1:74,75.

Propitiation

Monday, January 10th, 2011

We should never underestimate the importance of that aspect of the work of the Lord Jesus at Calvary which is known as propitiation.  This is because the honour of God, the blessing of men, the introduction of Christ’s millenial kingdom, and the new heaven and the new earth, all depend upon it. When thinking of this vital matter, we need to be clear as to what propitiation actually is.  It may be defined as follows: “Propitiation is the covering of sins to God’s satisfaction”.
There are seven references to this subject in the New Testament, and they are as follows-  Luke 18:13, (“merciful”);  Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17, (translated “reconciliation”); Hebrews 8:12, (“merciful” means propitious); Hebrews 9:5, (“mercy-seat” means place of propitiation); 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10

As we consider this subject in the light of the Scriptures, we could ask ourselves three main questions-

1. Why was propitiation necessary?
2. How was propitiation achieved?
3. What are the results of propitiation?

1. WHY WAS PROPITIATION NECESSARY?
Because sins offend God.  As God is the Absolute Standard of righteousness and holiness, all deviations from this standard are highly offensive to Him.  Such is the intensity of His holiness that the simple mention of it is enough to make the posts of the doors of the temple in heaven move, Isaiah 6:4.  His reaction to sin and iniquity is to turn from it, for He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and who cannot look upon sin, Habakkuk 1:13.  The very presence of sin in the universe is a grief to God. 

Because as Moral Governor of the universe, He must be seen to deal with sins.  God has enemies, both devilish and human, and He must be clear of any charge which they may level against Him that  suggests He has ignored sins, or at least, ignored some sins.  Eternity must not be allowed to run its course without this matter being settled.  God deals with some sins instantly, but the majority seem to have gone unpunished.  Sentence against an evil work has not been executed speedily, Ecclesiastes 8:11, since God is longsuffering, and waits to be gracious.  This situation might give rise to the charge of indifference to sins, and so God must act to defend His honour.

Because God must have a just basis for continuing to have dealings with sinful men.  One of the main purposes of the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement in Israel was that God might continue to dwell amongst them despite their uncleanness, Leviticus 16:16.  So also when Christ was down here.  It was only because God was not imputing trespasses so as to instantly judge them, but rather was working to reconcile unto Himself, that He was prepared to have dealings with men in the person of His Son.  See 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Because if men are to be shown mercy, have their sins forgiven, and be reconciled to God, there must be a solid basis upon which these things can happen.  God declares Himself to be a Saviour God- He cannot be fully satisfied solely by judging men .  The fact that “God is light” demands that this be done, but “God is love” too, and delights to manifest Himself in grace.

Because the cycle of sin must be broken.  In other words, if there is not to be an eternal succession of creations, falls, remedies for fall, and new creations, then there must be that established which is once for all, giving the complete answer to the question of sin.  Unless this complete answer is given, the new heaven and earth will not be safe from disturbance.

We may now ask our second question:
HOW WAS PROPITIATION ACHIEVED?
The ceremonies of the Day of Atonement as described in Leviticus chapter 16 will help us here.  We need to be very careful in our interpretation of them, however.  We should remember two things. First, that the Old Testament teaches by way of comparison as well as by contrast.  Second, that Christ’s ministry is in connection with a sanctuary which is “not of this building”, Hebrews 9:11.  That means it is not part of the creation of Genesis chapter one. So even whilst acting on earth, He was operating in relation to a sphere that is not subject to the limitations of time, space, or matter.

For instance, the writer to the Hebrews indicates that the going forth of the Lord Jesus outside the camp, was the counterpart of the carrying of the carcase of the sin offering from the altar, where it had been slain, to a place of burning outside the camp.  But this particular ritual took place almost at the  end of the Day of Atonement proceedings, whereas the Lord Jesus went outside the camp before He died.  We may say then that in one sense time is irrelevant as far as the work of Christ was concerned.
Again, what took place at the altar in the court of the tabernacle; before the ark in the Holiest of All; outside the camp at the place of burning, and in the wilderness where the scapegoat was taken and let go, all typified some aspect of the work of Christ.  Place is irrelevant, too.
And so is matter irrelevant.  Christ needed no visible ark to enable Him to convince His Father that His blood had been shed.  When the repentant man of Luke 18 appealed to God to be merciful to him, (or, to be gracious towards him on the ground of propitiation made), he went down to his house justified, despite the fact that there was no ark in the temple. 
With these cautionary remarks in mind, we look now at Leviticus 16, and note those major parts of the ceremonies of that day which contribute towards making propitiation, the great end for which they were carried out.

A SUITABLE SIN OFFERING WAS BROUGHT NEAR 
We must remember that the word “offer” that is used in Leviticus 16:6 means to bring near.  A sacrifice must be offered before it can be laid on the altar.  The blood that purges the conscience of God’s people is the blood of One who “offered Himself without spot to God”, Hebrews 9:10.  That is, He presented Himself for sacrifice in all the spotlessness of His person, confident that He met the approval of His God.   We are reminded of the words of the psalmist when he said, “Search me O God, and try my heart”, Psalm 139:23.  The Lord Jesus is the only one who could utter such words in the confidence that nothing contrary to God would be found in Him.  In this He is so different to Aaron, or as the writer to the Hebrews puts it, He is “separate from sinners”, for Aaron could not present himself to God, he must present a substitute, Hebrews 7:27.  Nor could that substitute bring itself, having no consciousness of God’s demands.  Christ has no such limitations, however, for He offered Himself, as Aaron could not do, and as an animal would not do.

AN OFFERING WAS MADE FOR SIN 
In Leviticus 16:9 a different word for offer is used, one which simply means to make.  So the animal, having had the sins of Aaron and his household figuratively transferred to it, is by that act made to represent those sins.  Whatever happens to the animal subsequently happens to the sin.  The apostle Paul takes up this thought in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when he declares that “God hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”.  It is exceedingly solemn to think that whatever God’s reaction to our sin was, became His reaction to Christ as the sinner’s substitute.  So we may learn in the fullest sense what God’s reaction to sin is by looking to the cross where He forsook His Son and poured out His wrath upon Him.  Such is the intensity of God’s hatred of sin, and such is his determination to deal with it, that “He spared not His own Son”, not shielding Him at all from the fury of His anger; not lessening the penalty, nor relieving the pain.  Who can tell the agony of Christ’s soul when He was dealt with by God as if He were sin!  Of course, He remained personally what He always had been, pure and holy, just as the sin-offering is said to be most holy, Leviticus 6:17, but He was made sin as our representative.

THE OFFERING WAS SLAIN AND ITS BLOOD SHED                                                    “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”, Leviticus 17:11.  Such are the words of God to His people, teaching us that the shedding of blood is vitally important, for “Without shedding of blood is no remission”, Hebrews 9:22.  Accordingly, that sins might be dealt with, Christ “poured out His soul unto death”, Isaiah 53:12.  He willingly laid down His life in accordance with His Father’s commandment, John 10:18.

THE CARCASE WAS BURNT
Having been presented to God as a living animal at the altar, and having been slain and its blood retained, the animal’s corpse must be taken to the outside place, that it may be subjected to the fires of Divine holiness until nothing is left.  How significant the contrast to Christ.  For He was subjected to the Divine Fires whilst still alive, on the cross.  How He must have suffered!  Can we begin to take it in?  Will not all eternity be needed to set forth what He was prepared to endure in love for our souls?  But endure He did, and exhausted the fire of God’s wrath against our sins.

THE BLOOD WAS SPRINKLED 
We come now to the central action on the Day of Atonement, the sprinkling of the blood both of the bullock for Aaron and his house, and the goat for the nation of Israel, on the mercy-seat, or “the place for the covering of sin”.  If God covers sins, then they are put completely out of His sight.  We ought not to think of this covering as a temporary thing, or else we shall have difficulty understanding why God declared that Israel was cleansed from all their sins that day, Leviticus 16:30.  It is true that the Scripture says that “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins”, Hebrews 10:, but what that blood symbolises, even the blood of Christ, can.  And that not only after Calvary, but before as well.

Now when the writer to the Hebrews referred to this mercy-seat, he used the Greek word which means propitiatory, the place where God is propitiated in regard to sins, and where those sins are atoned for. This makes clear that he did not see a distinction between covering and propitiating.  There was a two-fold significance to this, however, as indicated by the two-fold sprinkling of each kind of blood, that of the bullock and of the goat.  The blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat was to satisfy the demands of God, so that instead of anger because of sins, He could be merciful in dealing with them. This was because the blood was a reminder to God that a suitable sin-offering had been slain, and burnt in the fire.  The blood sprinkled before the mercy-seat was to meet the needs of the Israelites, for it established a footing for them in the presence of God based upon the shedding of blood.
So with the work of Christ.  He has fully met every demand that God could make about sins.  As one of the Persons of the Godhead, He has Divine insight into God’s requirements, and He has fully met those requirements.  We are assured of this because He has set Himself down with confidence at the right hand of the Majesty on high- He purged sins in harmony with the Majesty of God.  But He has also established a sure footing in the presence of God for those who believe, so that the apostle Paul; can speak of the grace wherein we stand, Romans 5:1.  So dominant is the idea of grace with regard to that position, that the apostle uses the word grace to describe it.  Only those who have “received the atonement”, Romans 5:11, are in that secure place before God.

THE SINS WERE CONFESSED AND CARRIED AWAY
The sin-offering for the people consisted of two goats, one for the Lord’s interests, and one for theirs.  One, as we have seen, was slain so that blood could be sprinkled on the mercy-seat.  The other was called the scape-goat, or goat that was dismissed and went away.  There was no double sin-offering for Aaron and his house, for he had seen the blood on the mercy-seat, and since he had not died, he knew it had been accepted, and his sins were gone.  The rest of Israel did not have that experience, however, and so to reassure them, they were able to see Aaron lay his hands on their goat, confess over it their sins, and then watch the goat, which carried its dreadful load of their sins, disappear into the wilderness, guided by a man whose fitness lay in his ability to take the animal to a place from which it could not return.  The writer to the Hebrews takes up these things in Hebrews 9:25-28, where he speaks of Christ appearing to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”- this is the counterpart of the blood on the mercy-seat.  Then he speaks of Christ “bearing the sins of many”, and now he is thinking of the scapegoat.  When the Lord Jesus was forsaken of His God upon the Cross, He was in a moral position equal to that of the scapegoat, which was accepted as an offering, but rejected because of the load it bore.

Just as there are two goats for the people, so there are two men acting on their behalf.  There was Aaron, who went into the sanctuary with the blood of the slain goat, and there was the fit man, going into the wilderness with the live goat.  The return of Aaron from the presence of God signified that sins were dealt with satisfactorily Godward, for he had not died.  The return of the fit man, without the goat, signified that the burden of sin was removed from the people.  An alternative rendering of the expression “fit man” is “a man standing ready”. So before John the Baptist announced the Lord Jesus to be the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, he described Him as “one standing among you”- He was standing ready to do the work of Calvary at the time of His Father’s appointment. 

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF PROPITIATION?

THE DEMANDS OF GOD WERE FULLY MET
To satisfy God as the Moral Governor of the universe, an adequate and final answer must be found to the question of sin.  The demands of His holiness and righteousness are such that every sin must be responded to.  Only Christ is adequate for this situation.  He it is who has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself”, Hebrews 9:26.  To put away in that verse means to abolish.  As far as God is concerned, and in this context, sin is not.  No charge can henceforth be made against God that He has ignored the presence of sin.  On the contrary, He has taken account of each and every sin through his Son’s work at Calvary.  John wrote, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”, 1 John 2:2.  Of course “the sins of” is in italics in that verse.  But the words must be supplied because they are implied in the “ours” of the previous statement.  If John had written “not for us only”, then he could have continued “but also for the whole world”.  Since, however, he uses the possessive pronoun “ours”, then “the sins of” must be inserted.  Now the apostle will write later that “we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness”, 1 John 5:19.  He sees mankind divided into two clearly defined sections, believers, and the whole world.  The same whole world whose sins God took account of at Calvary. 

GOD’S DEALINGS WERE VINDICATED
In Old Testament times God blessed men by reckoning them righteous when they believed in Him.  Romans 3:24,25 indicates that the propitiatory work of Christ vindicates God for so acting.  In can be seen now that God was blessing anticipatively, crediting believers with the results of Christ’s work before they had been achieved.  He also remitted, or passed over, their sins in forbearance, holding back from judging those sins in virtue of what His Son would do at Calvary. 

GOD’S GLORY IS FULLY DISPLAYED
There is no attribute of God which has not been fully expressed at Calvary.  This is why the apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement, Romans 5:11.  Atonement in this verse means reconciliation, one of the effects of propitiation.  By His sacrificial work at Calvary Christ has brought the character of God out into full and glorious display.  Those who are brought by faith into the good of that work are enabled to behold that display, and rejoice in it.  Would we know Divine holiness, or righteousness, or love, or wrath, or any other aspect of the Person of God?  Then we must look to the cross for the sight of it.  We shall not be disappointed.

GOD’S MERCY IS AVAILABLE
The repentant sinner who called upon God to be merciful to him, is the first person in the New Testament to use the word propitious- “God be merciful to me on the basis of propitiation”.  He went down to his house justified, Luke 18:13,14. Under the terms of the New Covenant, God promises that “I will be merciful (propitious) to their unrighteousness, Hebrews 8:12. The mercy-seat was the same width and breadth as the ark, telling us that the ark (the person of Christ) and the mercy-seat, (the work of Christ), were perfectly matched. But we are not told the thickness or depth of the gold of the mercy-seat, for there is an infinite supply of mercy for those who believe, enough to keep them secure for all eternity.

GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS ASSURED 
In Hebrews 10:5-8 we have the Spirit of Christ in the psalmist telling of His work of sacrifice. Then we have the Spirit’s testimony telling us of the results of that work, Hebrews 10:15-17.  God promises emphatically that He will not remember the sins and iniquities of His people any more, since He brought those sins into remembrance at Calvary, and Christ dealt with them effectively there. “No more” means in no way, nor at any time.  Note that God pledges to positively not remember, not negatively to forget. We may forget, and then remember again, whereas God promises never to remember for ever.

GOD’S PEOPLE ARE PRESERVED
The Lord Jesus spoke in the Upper Room of His brethren, then indicated that He was about to “ascend to My Father, and your Father, to My God, and your God”, John 20:17.  Thus He would still be the link between his people and God, maintaining them in His dual role of Advocate with the Father, and High Priest in things pertaining to God.

The basis of His advocacy is two-fold.  His person, for He is Jesus Christ the righteous, and His work, for He is the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:1,2.  The apostle John was concerned about believers sinning.  The sins of believers are just as obnoxious to God, and just as deserving of wrath, as those of unbelievers.  But we are “saved from wrath through Him”, Romans 5:9, as He pleads the merits of His work.  He is, says John, the propitiatory offering for our sins.  Not was, but is.  In other words, the one who acts for us in heaven as our advocate, is the very same one who hung upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.

He is also our High priest.  The language of Hebrews 2:17,18- “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted”.  These verses form a bridge between chapter two, with its emphasis on the reasons why the Lord Jesus took manhood, and the way in which Israel were tempted in the wilderness.  Note in particular the word “for” which begins verse 18-too little attention has been paid to this word, and hence the connection between verses 17 and 18 is often lost.  The reason why we have a high priest who is merciful and faithful is that He has been here in manhood and suffered being tempted.  When His people pass through temptation, then He undertakes to deal with their cause.  Because He has been here, and has been tempted in all points like as we are, He is able to help us when we cry to Him for help.  The word for succour is used by the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15:25 when she cried out, “Lord, help me”.  He is able to point us to the ways in which He overcame in the wilderness temptation, and thus we are strengthened to resist temptation.

But what if we fall, and sin?  In that case He comes to our aid in another way.  We see it typified negatively in Leviticus 10:16-20.  The priests were commanded to eat the sin-offerings, if the blood thereof had not been brought into the sanctuary.  But at the end of the consecration of the priesthood, Moses was angry on God’s behalf, for the priests had failed in this.  Moses said, “God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord”, Leviticus 10:17.  One of the functions of priesthood, then, was to personally identify with the sin-offering by eating it, and by so doing bear the iniquity of the congregation, taking responsibility for their failure, but doing so safeguarded by the fact that a sin-offering had been accepted by God.  As they did this the scripture explicitly says they made atonement for the people, Leviticus 10:17.  We see then what the writer to the Hebrews means when he talks of Christ making reconciliation or propitiation for the sins of the people.  He is indicating that Christ personally identifies Himself with His sin-offering work at Calvary, and thus takes responsibility for the failures of His people under temptation.  This is acceptable to God, and His people are preserved, despite their failure.

GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE EARTH IS FURTHERED 
When Adam the head of the first creation fell, all creation had to be subjected to vanity, or else a fallen man would have been head over an unfallen creation.  Now that He has obtained rights over the earth by His death, the Lord Jesus is able to bring in new conditions for God.  He can now righteously deliver the present creation from the bondage of corruption that the fall of man brought it into, Romans 8:19-23.  Colossians 1:20 assures us that on the basis of the blood of His cross, all things, whether in earth or in heaven, can be reconciled to God, for that alienation between God and His creation which took place at the Fall, can be remedied.

GOD’S INTENTION TO CREATE A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH CAN BE REALISED                                                                                            Unless the sin which has marred the first creation is dealt with, God cannot righteously introduce an eternal earth and heavens, for it would not have been evident that He was able to deal with the fall of the first creation.  Having dealt with it through Christ, He is able to bring in new things that will never be spoiled.  Daniel was told that Messiah the Prince would bring in “everlasting righteousness”, Daniel 9:24, and this He will do, on the basis of His death.  It only remains for God to announce “Behold, I make all things new”, Revelation 21:5, and a “New heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”, will be established, 2 Peter 3:13.  At last there will be a settled and congenial place for righteous to dwell in, after all the turmoil brought in by Adam’s sin.  At last those profound words spoken by John the Baptist will be fully brought to pass- “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, John 1:29.

THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS- THE GOSPEL DEFENDED

Friday, December 24th, 2010

The Epistle to the Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to counteract a very dangerous error.  There were those in his day who did not realise that the Law of Moses as a rule of life has been set aside by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Scripture says clearly, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”, Romans 10:4.  In other words, by His coming, the Lord Jesus has introduced those who believe to a new way of life.  Not one dominated by a hopeless attempt to please God by works of merit, but rather, a life that is lived in association with Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.  The Spirit of God empowers those who are true believers to live a life which is well-pleasing to God their Father.  He does this by enabling them to live like Christ.  Such believers do not have the Law of Moses set before them as their rule, but rather, the example of Christ.  The apostle declares that those who live like this “fulfil the law of Christ”, Galatians 6:2.  No longer are they in bondage to the law, but they know the  liberty of  the Spirit, enabling them, in their measure, to imitate Christ.

This is not to say that the Law of God through Moses is no longer valid, for nine out of the ten commandments are binding on believers still, and they are able to fulfill the righteousness of the Law as they  walk  by the Spirit, Romans 8:4.  It does mean, however, that no longer is God making the keeping of His law the way of gaining blessing.  The blessings that God gives in abundance to those who believe are based solely upon the merits and sacrifice of Christ, and not at all on the efforts of men.

If this idea is strange to you, may we suggest you first read the posting entitled “How can we get right with God?” which you will find under “Pages” on the right of the screen.

To access the notes on the epistle, pleae click on the appropriate chapter in the menu bar on the right hand side of the page.

GALATIANS CHAPTER 3

Monday, October 11th, 2010

We now come to that section of the epistle where the apostle brings forward seven reasons why grace is superior to law.  It extends from Galatians 3:1-5:26.  The seven reasons are presented in the form of contrasts between law and grace as follows:

1. 3:1-14 Grace results in blessing, whereas the law brings a curse.
2. 3:15-29 Grace makes us heirs, law makes us transgressors.
3. 4:1-10 Grace makes us sons, law is for infants.
4. 4:11-18 Grace makes the apostle like an angel, law makes him like an enemy.
5. 4:19-31 Grace makes us sons of free woman, the law, sons of slave woman.
6. 5:1-15 Grace helps us progress, the law only hinders.
7. 5:16-26 Grace results in the fruit of Spirit, the law results in works of flesh.

By means of these reasons, the apostle deals with the errors of the three parties of law-teachers that opposed the gospel.  These were:-
 Unbelieving Jews who taught that men should reject Christ and remain with the law of Moses.  They are answered by the first five verses of the epistle.
 False brethren who taught that Gentiles should be put under law before they believed the gospel, Acts 15:1.  These are answered by the remainder of chapter 1 and the whole of chapter two.
 Believers who were formerly of the Pharisees, who taught that believers should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, Acts 15:5.  These are answered by chapters three to five inclusive.

Each of these variations represents an attack on both the sufficiency of the work of Christ, and the grace of God.  Just as the apostle gave no ground to Peter in chapter 1:11-21, so he gives no ground to these others.  We should remember in this connection the words of Jude, telling us that the faith, (the body of Christian doctrine), has been delivered to the saints so that they contend for it.  This may be done by preaching and teaching, or by conduct, as the truth is expressed in our lives.

REASON ONE           GALATIANS 3:1-14   
GRACE BRINGS BLESSING, LAW BRINGS CURSING

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 1 TO 14

3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

3:2  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3:3  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

3:4  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

3:5  He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3:6  Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

3:7  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

3:8  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

3:9  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

3:10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

3:11  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

3:12  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

3:13  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

3:14  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

STRUCTURE OF THE SECTION

(a) Verse 1 Christ crucified
(b) Verses 2-5 The Spirit received.
(c) Verses 6-9 Abraham blessed.
(d) Verses 10-12 Law-breaker cursed.
(e) Verse 13 Christ made a curse.
(f) Verse 14 Gentiles blessed.

(a)    3:1    Christ crucified

3:1    O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you- The apostle has not referred to the Galatians since 1:11, after he has marvelled that they had moved away from grace.  In that chapter he pronounced a curse on those who were leading them astray with another gospel which mixed law and grace.  Now he turns to the Galatians themselves, and condemns their foolishness for listening to the false teachers.  They should have proved all things, and only held fast that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.  Christ has cancelled the wisdom of this world, whether it be Jewish or Gentilish in origin, and He is made unto us wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:30, which is communicated to us by the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2.  To turn from this is, by definition, folly, hence his description of them.  The word bewitch reminds us that the flesh is fascinated by error, and only the teaching of the Spirit can counteract this.  That ye should not obey the truth- gospel truth is presented to men for the obedience of faith, Romans 1:5; 16:26, and since the just shall live by faith, (that is, shall live as Christians on the same principle as they became Christians), then obedience should mark the believer at all times.  Note that the apostle will not have it suggested that the Christian life is lawless, which is part of what the law-teachers would be saying.  Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified, among you?- Superstitious people around them would believe in “The evil eye”, the malign influence of evil spirits, to counteract which they would fix lucky charms to the walls of their houses.  Believers do not fear the evil eye, however, for they know the power of evil was broken at the Cross.  The setting forth of Christ crucified before their minds was enough to shield them from evil.  Not in the form of an image or mascot, however, but in the preaching of the gospel.  The apostle may also be referring to the marks on his body which he received because of allegiance to Christ crucified, see 6:17.  The apostle borrows a word from civic life to convey the thought behind the word “set forth”.  When a notable criminal was executed, the magistrate who dealt with the case would go to the marketplace and announce the fact publicly.  This is what the apostle had done when he went to Galatia; announced, not the death of a criminal, but the crucifixion of Christ between two criminals, for He was numbered with the transgressors, Isaiah 53:12; Mark 15:28.  Note that it is the crucifixion of Christ that is emphasised here, for the following reason.  Our old man was crucified with Christ, so that what marked us before we were saved is gone as far as God is concerned.  The apostle had used this truth in 2:20 to show that he, a man zealous for the law in former days, is crucified with Christ, and his life under the law is ended.  Here there is a similar thought, but not as with the apostle the ending of his past as a Jew under the law, but the cancelling of the flesh, which proudly thinks that it can keep the law.
We might list some reasons why it was necessary for Christ to die by crucifixion:
1. It shows the length to which Christ will go in love to His Father, being prepared to suffer the excruciating pain of crucifixion.
2. It shows the length the Father will go in love to the world, for He spared not His own Son the horrors of Calvary.
3. It identifies Him as the sacrifice for sin, for the sin-offering of old was burned in the outside place, and so Christ was crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
4. Shows the extreme hatred of man towards Him, that they executed Him in such a way.
5. Christ was placed in a position of weakness, so that He might defeat evil at that time.  If He defeats evil when weak, evil will never succeed now that He is strong in resurrection.  See 2 Corinthians 13:4.
6. He was crucified in a public way, to be like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, see Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14,15.

(b)    3:2-5    The Spirit received.

3:2    This only would I learn of you- The answer to this question will settle the matter.  It is a question of several parts.  Having called them foolish because they had listened to the wisdom of the world, he now implies that they had enough Spirit-taught truth to answer his question.  Each part of this question will take them progressively through their Christian experience, and show that God acted consistently at every stage.  He begins with their conversion, then moves on to their desire to make progress in their new-found life in Christ.  Next he refers to the persecution they suffered as a result of these things, then moves into the present, (“ministereth…worketh”- present tense), and the ministry of God by the Spirit they currently knew.  Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?- The word “by” in both parts of the sentence is “ek”, meaning “on the principle of”.  The references to the Spirit here after the mention of Christ crucified in verse 1 remind us that not until our old man has been crucified with Christ can the Spirit take up residence within us.  He is holy and righteous, and cannot dwell where there are conditions contrary to His nature.  The holy anointing oil, (a figure of the Spirit of God, see Zechariah 4:1-6), was not to be poured on man’s (literally rendered, Adam’s) flesh, Exodus 30:32.  The incident of the Brazen Serpent, (an illustration of the work of Calvary, John 3:14), was followed by the Springing Well, in Numbers 21:4-18.  The benefits of the crucifixion of Christ are received by faith, and on that same principle God gives the Spirit.  This settles the question as to whether every believer has the Spirit, and on what condition.  The apostle is very clear in Romans 8:9- “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”.  This would not be a valid test if some believers did not have the Spirit.

3;3    Are ye so foolish?  Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh?- To receive the Spirit at the moment of initial faith in Christ is to be henceforth reckoned by God to be “in the Spirit”, Romans 8:9.  It is our responsibility to work this out in practice, so that we are not only “in the Spirit” as to standing, but also walk after the Spirit, following His leading.  By doing this we shall perfect ourselves; that is, bring ourselves progressively into conformity with the perfect standing that God reckons us to have.  But going over to law for sanctification necessarily involves the effort of the flesh, for the law does not extend its influence beyond death, and believers are risen with Christ.  We are dead to the law by the body of Christ, for the process of death, burial and resurrection which the body of Christ experienced is our process too, for we are identified with Him, see Romans 7:1-6.  The path to perfection, or full maturity, is not by way of law-keeping, but rather by the reproduction of Christ in our hearts and lives by the power of the Spirit.

3:4    Have ye suffered so many things in vain?-  Those who turned to Christ were liable to be persecuted by the Jews, as the Lord Himself had warned when He was here- “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you…and ye shall be betrayed…and ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake”, Luke 21:12,16,17.  So convinced were the Jews that He was an impostor, that they took every opportunity to show their hostility to Him.  Now that He was gone from their midst, they turned their attention to those who believed in His name.  The light that Christ brought into the world exposes the dark deeds of men, and so they hate the light, John 3:19-21.  Believers are to shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:15, and when they do this they attract the same hostility as Christ did from those who hate the light.  “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you”, John 15:20.  King Saul not only threw his javelin at David, but at Jonathan also, when he realised he had sided with David, 1 Samuel 18:10,11; 19:9,10; 20:32,33.  It is not a vain thing to suffer in this way, for it bears testimony to the reality of salvation, which in turn is a token to the adversaries of the gospel that they are on the way to perdition, Philippians 1:28.  This coupled with the fact that suffering is part of God’s process of refining our faith, and will result in praise for Him and His Son in a day to come, 1 Peter 1:7, shows that suffering for Christ is not a vain or pointless thing.  If it be yet in vain- the Galatians would have suffered in vain if they reverted to Judaism, for they could have started off with the law, and avoided the trouble which receiving the grace of Christ brings.  By continuing with grace, they could show that they were genuine, and their former sufferings would be to purpose and gain.

3:5    He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?- The apostle has already made it clear in verse 2 that the Spirit is received initially when a person believes.  Subsequently, the “Supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”, Philippians 1:19, is made when the need arises, the supply being, not the Spirit Himself, but the power He gives to the believer to react to circumstances in the same way as Christ did.  Paul, confined to prison, had heard that there were those who preached so as to add affliction to his bonds.  Lest he react to this situation in a way that is not Christ-like, he requested the Philippians to pray that a further supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ might be given him, to enable him to respond to circumstances as Christ did.  So also in Ephesians 1:17, where the apostle prays that the believers, (whom he has already said have received the Spirit when they believed, verse 13), may be granted the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.  In other words, that the Spirit may be known in His wisdom-imparting role.  Those who are already believers, then, may have Spirit ministered unto them further in this way. And worketh miracles among you- was it the law-teachers who were able to work miracles, or those who came with the gospel of God’s grace?  The answer is, of course, the latter, and affords proof from the present experience of the Galatians that God was at work on the principle of faith, not works.  The law was confirmed by the judgement of law-breakers, whereas grace is confirmed by miracles and wonders and signs, Hebrews 2:2-4.  So when the apostle asks the question, “On what principle does God minister further help by the Spirit, and also give the power for miracles to be done by the power of the Spirit?”  The answer can only be, “On the same principle as He gave the Spirit to them initially, even on the principle of faith”.

(c)    3:6-9    Abraham blessed.

3:6    Even as “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”- This is the first of seven quotations the apostle makes in this chapter.  Abraham, of course, lived long before the law was given, as the apostle will state in verse 17, and therefore if he was blessed of God, and became the father of those who believe, he did so, not through law-works, but through faith.  The fact that God responded to Abraham’s faith by accounting him righteous, shows that faith is what God is looking for, not works.  See Romans 4:1-5.

3:7    Know ye therefore- the apostle wants the Galatians to take in the implications of what happened to Abraham, for it had relevance to them.  They would get to know the truth, and so be delivered from their foolishness.  That they which are of faith, the same are the children (sons) of Abraham- at around the age of 13, a Jewish boy went through a ceremony which made him a “Son of the Law”, and he committed himself to keep the Law.  In effect, this is what the law-teachers wanted the Gentile Galatians to do.  The amazing truth, however, is that Gentiles may become the sons of Abraham, in a spiritual sense.  God had said to Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Genesis 17:5, and this has come to pass, for, all believers, whether Jews or from the nations, take character from Abraham the man of faith, and sonship involves the sharing of character. 

3:8    And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith- Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world, Acts 15:18.  Preached before the gospel unto Abraham- since the gospel concerns God’s Son, then to announce blessing through the One who would come through Abraham was to preach the gospel.  Compare the preaching of good tidings about Canaan to the Israelites, in Hebrews 4:2.  Peter, in Acts 3:25, quotes from Genesis 22:18, “In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed”, for he is emphasising that the first kindred to which Christ was sent was that of Israel, see verse 26.  Here, however, the quotation is from Genesis 12:3- Saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed”- for Abraham would be a blessing to all nations as he gave to them the example of faith.  Other ways he would be a blessing are as follows:-
 The worship of the True God, in the midst of universal idolatry. 
 The tabernacle system of sacrifices, foreshadowing Calvary.
 The prophets and their writings.
 Christ Himself.
 The preaching of the apostles and their writings.

3:9    So then- in fulfilment of the prophecy of Scripture just quoted.  They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham- note the way the word faithful is used here, meaning full of faith.  Every true man of faith from amongst the nations of the earth who takes his stand alongside Abraham as he believes God, is blessed like Abraham was blessed.  The Gentile does not have to come via the law.

(d)    3:10-12        Law-breaker cursed

3:10    For as many as are of the works of the law- who take their stand, so to speak, alongside of Moses rather than Abraham.  Are under the curse- far from knowing the blessing Abraham knew, they know the opposite.  In verse 8 there was glad news, now we have bad news.  For it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them”- This is the last curse that was to be recited from Mount Ebal when the children of Israel reached the land of Israel, Deuteronomy 27:13, Joshua 8:30-35. 

Note that nothing less than perfection is demanded here-

Every one All the people.
Continueth not All the time.
In all things All the commands.
To do them All the heart.

              
To do them- this is an unusual phrase, and is found again in Hebrews 10:7,9, “I come to do Thy will O God”.  The idea is not simply carrying out God’s will, but doing so with the utmost devotion.  Wanting to do that will, not just complying out of a sense of duty.

3;11    But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident- Only those who perfectly carry out the will of God as expressed in the Law would ever be justified that way.  This rules everyone out.  The only One who kept the law perfectly, was the only One who did not need to be justified.  For, “The just shall live by faith”- the principle by which a believer lives is the principle of faith.  It follows, therefore, that the principle upon which his life was received in the first place was faith also.  Note that the apostle does not quote what we might have expected, namely “In thy sight shall no flesh living be justified, Psalm 143:2, even though his words “in the sight of God” might have led him to do so.  He is not so much concerned with the impossibility of keeping the Law to God’s satisfaction, but with the principle involved in keeping the law, which is contrary to the principle of faith.  Law-keeping depends on our efforts, whereas faith realises our efforts can never be enough, given that we are marked by failure, and depends on the work of God. 

3:12    And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them- faith rests, law-keeping involves constant working- the two are incompatible.  To live “in” the works of law, means to live in virtue of the merit gained by doing them.  The contrast is between living by faith in God, and living by supposed merit gained by ourselves. 

(d)    3:12,13        Christ made a curse

3:13    Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law- verse 10 has already stated that those who seek to please God by law-keeping are under His curse because of their failure to fully keep the law.  Man is under obligation to God for his failure, yet has no means of discharging his debt of responsibility.  This is why the apostle calls the principles of the law “beggarly elements”, 4:9, for they bring to poverty and bondage. The answer to man’s bankrupt state as well as his state of bondage because of his failure to keep the law, is the redeeming work of Christ.  In Old Testament times, a man who was hopelessly in debt could be rescued by a near-kinsman who had both the wealth and the willingness to redeem.  Also, if a man was sold to be a slave, he could be rescued by his kinsman redeemer.  By saying “us” the apostle first of all means believers who before had been Jews under the law; but in a secondary sense, Gentile believers are redeemed from the curse in the sense that they shall never know it in the future.  Note that we are redeemed when we exercise initial faith in Christ, whereas the being made a curse happened at Calvary.  In other words, we are redeemed at conversion, Christ was made a curse at Calvary.   Being made a curse for us- instead of simply being cursed of God for our law-breaking, the Lord Jesus was made that curse.  In other words, He is reckoned by God to be that which men are when cursed of God.   We may learn something of the meaning of this when we remember that there were four main consequences threatened if Israel failed to keep the law, as detailed in Deuteronomy 28. 
 There was a financial penalty, their crops would fail.  The Lord Jesus became poor at the cross, for He was cut off and had nothing, Daniel 9:26, margin, 2 Corinthians 8:9.
 There was the physical curse, with disease and illness brought upon them.  The Lord Jesus suffered physically as no other has done, as He endured the agonies of the cross.
 There was governmental judgement, with no answer from heaven, which would be as brass to them.  We learn from Psalm 22 that Christ was not answered when He cried to God at Calvary, and far from rescuing Him, God abandoned Him. 
 There was the political judgement, and Israel would be handed over to their enemies.  So Christ was delivered to the Gentiles, and suffered a Gentile form of execution.
Note He had to be made a curse, for in no way did He bring ill upon the people.  In fact, Peter says of Him, “God sent Him to bless you”, Acts 3:26.  For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”- The reason for this curse in the case of an Israelite hanged on a tree, was that his body defiled the land of Israel.  In this case, the cursed man brought disgrace on the people as his sin was recompensed by his death.  Because of this he was accursed of God.  In the case of Christ, however, it is not that His hanging on a tree brought a curse to us- the reverse is the case, for he absorbed the consequences of our law-breaking in Himself, so that only blessing results.  So the quotation is not prompted by the words “made a curse”, but rather, by the expression “curse of the law” found in verse 13.  God has transformed an act which normally brought disgrace on Israel, into an act which brought blessing within their reach.  He is a curse for us, not to us.  Note that this quotation begins in exactly the same way as the one in verse 10, “Cursed is every one”.  By being made a curse, the Lord Jesus was reckoned by God to represent all that our law-breaking deserved, and was treated accordingly. 

(f)    3:14    Gentiles blessed

3:14    That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ- it is only through Christ that Gentiles may have a claim on the blessing that Abraham knew.  The way it happens is described in subsequent verses, where the apostle explains that we are linked to Christ so closely, that we can be described as Abraham’s seed, just as He can be so described.  Two things must happen before the Gentiles can be blessed in this way.  First, it must become evident that Israel, with all their advantages, cannot keep the law, verses 11,12, and second, that there is one who can deal with the curse that a broken law brings, verse 13.  These two matters now being settled, the obstacle to the blessing of the Gentiles is removed.  That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith- the promise of the Spirit is the promised Spirit- it is the Spirit that is received, not just the promise.  Compare Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:33.  The selection of the gift of the Spirit is significant, since His is the power by which the Christian life is lived, not the energy of the flesh which the law used, Romans 8:3.  Note the double use of the word “that”, indicating two distinct results of Christ’s death.  First result, the blessing of Abraham, which was imputed righteousness; second result, the gift of the Spirit, which Abraham perhaps knew nothing of. 

REASON TWO    3:15-29
GRACE MAKES US HEIRS, LAW MAKES US TRANSGRESSORS

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 15-29

3:15  Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

3:19  Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

3:20  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

3:21  Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

3:22  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

3:23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

3:25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

3:26  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

3:27  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

3:29  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. 

STRUCTURE OF THE SECTION

(a) Verses 15-18 The promise to the Seed.
(b) Verses 19-25 The purpose of the Law.
(c) Verses 26-29 The position of the believer.

(a)    3:15-18        The promise to the Seed

Verse 16 The promise is confined.
Verse 17 The promise is confirmed.
Verses 17 and 18 The promise is constant.

3:15    Brethren, I speak after the manner of men- the apostle argues from the case of a human situation, to one in which God was involved.  Though it be but a man’s covenant- even though a covenant may only be between mere mortals.  Yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, nor addeth thereto- once a matter is agreed, then no cancelling or adding is considered proper.

The promise confined
3:16    Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made- the literal order of the words is “Now to Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed”; this serves to distinguish the promises made to Abraham personally, and those made to his seed.  Having established that a man-to-man covenant is stable, the apostle now brings in a God-to-man covenant, the one made with Abraham, and repeated subsequently.  The word “made” means spoken, and now we learn the words that were spoken.  He saith not “And to seeds”, as of many- there are various groups and individuals that are called Abraham’s seed, and they are:-
 Isaac, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”, Genesis 21:12. 
 Ishmael, “He is thy seed”, Genesis 21:13.
 Natural descendants of Abraham, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed”, John 8:37.
 Christ, “And to thy seed, which is Christ, Galatians 3:16.
 Spiritual sons of Abraham, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed”, Galatians 3:29.

The context, and statements made in the New Testament, must decide who is in view in each case.  But as of one, “And to thy seed”, which is Christ- The apostle makes clear here that God’s promise to Abraham’s seed was not to be shared.  Only the one God had in mind as He promised would receive the blessing.  Whether Abraham realised who was being spoken of is not possible to determine, except that we know that he rejoiced to see Christ’s day, John 8:56, and so may have been given insights into this matter, especially as he was the “Friend of God”, James 2:23, and God was willing on another occasion to inform him of His intentions, Genesis 18:17.  The apostle is making clear that the promise of blessing was not made to any other than Christ, and He shares the blessing not with natural children of Abraham who are wedded to the law, for they are of their father the Devil, John 8:44, but with those that He now calls His own, John 13:1, “If ye be Christ’s”, verse 29.  “His own”, (meaning the nation of Israel), received Him not, John 1:11.  It is important to see that the apostle is establishing a principle with regard to a specific promise to Abraham.  He will then apply that principle to believers now, but without implying that all that God promised to Abraham becomes the believer’s.  For God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham- he does not promise that to believers of this age.

The promise confirmed
3:17    And this I say, that the covenant, which was confirmed before of God in Christ- This reminds us of the way in which the covenant made to Abraham was confirmed by God.  The covenant victims were slain, and the carcases of the animals divided.  Usually, after this, the parties entering into the covenant would walk between the pieces of the sacrifices, indicating that the covenant had been ratified in the death of the sacrifices, and also that if either party defaulted, then they deserved to be cut in pieces as those sacrificial victims had been.  On this occasion, however, there was a difference, for God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Abraham, Genesis 15:12.  Instead of Abraham walking between the pieces, it was a burning lamp that passed between them.  Now Isaiah looks on to the day when the covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled, and speaks of salvation going forth from Jerusalem as a “burning lamp”, Isaiah 62:1.  But as is the case on several occasions in the Old Testament, the word for salvation is Yeheshua, the equivalent to Jesus.  He it is then that guarantees the covenant, so we can see why the apostle states that the covenant is confirmed in Christ. 

The promise constant
The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect- if a covenant between men is not alterable, how much more so a covenant between God and men.  So nothing that was said by God at the giving of the law can cancel what He had previously said to Abraham, the father of the nation that was given the law.  The four hundred and thirty years extends from the time of the original promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:7, BC 1921, and the giving of the law, in BC 1491.  We are not told the precise date when God actually spoke the words of Genesis 13:15 quoted in verse 16 of this chapter.  This shows the importance of the literal order of the words in verse 16, which serve to allow for the fact that the promise to Abraham and the promise to the seed in the words of Galatians 3:16, were at different times.  The dates actually given in the Scriptures are precise- we should beware of thinking of them as rough approximations. 

3:18    For if the inheritance be of law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise- it is important to notice the word for “gave”.  It contains within it the idea of grace, so God gave the promise to Abraham on the basis of His grace.  Clearly, the promise cannot be of law and promise at the same time.  So of this promise we may say:-
 It is given by God in grace, verse 18.     
 It is received by faith, verse 14.
 It cannot be cancelled by the law, verse 17. 
 It is available even to Gentiles, verse 29.

(b)    3:19-25        The purpose of the Law

Verse 17 Not to cancel
Verse 19 To condemn.
Verse 21 Not to compete.
Verse 23 To confine.
Verse 24 To control.

Law is given to condemn
3:19    Wherefore then serveth the law?- what purpose was served by giving the law to Israel, when the promise to Abraham was already confirmed?- There is a double answer to this question.  First: It was added because of transgressions- that is, literally, to create transgressions, “That sin might take on the character of transgression, and with consciousness of sins aroused, the desire for redemption would be intensified”, Grimme.  The law was not added to the promise, (for that is ruled out in verse 15), but was added to God’s ways of dealing with men.  The second reason: Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made- the law was an interim measure, regulating and holding the people in check, until such times as Christ the seed should come in grace.  And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator- the law was given by the disposition of angels, as Stephen said, Acts 7:53.  Paul is emphasising here that the law was not an arrangement between God and men directly, but angelic agents and a human agent, Moses, interposed.  The arrangement of the law was not a personal and direct one, such as Abraham knew.

3:20    Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one- As just noticed, the law involved several parties; God, angels, Moses, and the people of Israel.  The very fact that there was a mediator indicates this.  With God’s arrangement with Abraham, however, one party was asleep, and the covenant was confirmed not by him passing through the pieces, but the burning lamp, a figure of the Messiah, doing so.  But Messiah is equal with God, so the Godhead alone is responsible for the fulfilment of the promise contained in the covenant.  The unity of the Godhead is the guarantee of the fulfilment, just as the unity of the Godhead is the guarantee of the security of the believer, John 10:27-30.  The covenant of the law depended on man’s effort, whereas the covenant to Abraham depended on God’s oneness.

Law is not given to compete
3:21    Is the law then against the promises of God?- Is there a competition between the covenants, both of which were brought in by God? God forbid- that cannot be the case, for God does not conflict with Himself.  For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law- the purpose of the giving of the law was not to enable man to be righteous, but rather to show up the fact that he was unrighteous.  Abraham believed God and was accounted righteous, and that is the abiding principle. 

3:22    But the scripture hath concluded all under sin- this is a similar statement to that in Romans 3:19- “Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God”.  The scripture is the whole of the Old Testament considered as giving a united testimony.  That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe- when the sinner realises that his only hope is faith in Christ, not faith in his own efforts through works of law, then when faith is exercised, the promise becomes good to him.  So far from being against the promises of God, the law has a part to play in the conviction of the sinner.

Law is given to confine
3:23    But before faith came- before faith in an incarnate, crucified and risen Christ was a possibility, or in other words, in Old Testament times.  We were kept under the law- notice the way in which the apostle uses “we” and “ye” in these verses.  By “we” he means “We who are Jews by birth”, and by “ye”, he means “You who are Gentiles by birth”.  The nation of Israel was protected and guarded by the law from the wild excesses of the nations all around them.  This is why they had to be so ruthless in their dealings with the nations already in the land of Canaan when they arrived under Joshua.  The iniquity of the Amorites had become full, and the inhabitants of the land were not fit to live.  Shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed- Israel was not only protected from things around, but also enclosed in view of things to come, the opportunity of faith in a manifested Christ.  The were in a room with only one exit, that marked “faith in Christ”.  When Christ was revealed, so faith in Him was revealed as God’s way of blessing.  The law and the prophets prophesied until John, and he exhorted the people that “They should believe on Him who should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus”, Acts 19:4.  The “should afterwards be” does not mean “ought to be”, but rather “was to be, by Divine appointment”.

Law is given to control
3:24    Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ- a schoolmaster in those times was one responsible for the well-being of the child under his care.  It is not that the law is able to bring to Christ, (“To bring us” is in italics), but rather it was an interim measure, protecting Israel’s interests until Christ arrived.  That we might be justified by faith- the apostle here defines what the result of the faith of verse 23 is.  Abraham was reckoned righteous by God, and justification is the act of reckoning a person right. 

3:25    But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster- as will be shown in the next verses, maturity comes in through Christ, and therefore the schoolmaster in charge of Israel in their state of immaturity, is no longer needed.  To cling to the law is to fail to realise that God’s purposes have moved on to their consummation in Christ.

(c)    3:26-29        The position of the believer

Verse 26 New status.
Verse 27 New start.
Verse 27 New standard.
Verses 28,29 New situation.

New status
3:26    For ye are all the children (sons) of God by faith in Christ Jesus- the apostle sees in the fact that those who were of Gentile birth have come into full maturity, (sons), a proof that Israel’s time under the schoolmaster, the guide for the immature, is over.  Note it is not now, as in verse 7, that they were sons of Abraham, which indicated they followed Abraham’s example of faith.  Here the point is that with the coming of the Son of God Himself, it is possible to become a son of God by faith.  Note it is Christ Jesus that their faith is in, the Risen and Ascended Man.  As will be made clear in verse 28, the position given to the believer is one outside of this world system, and also outside the law system.

New start
3:27    For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ- this does not suggest that some of them were not baptised, but rather, that every one that was baptised into Christ has indeed put on Christ.  It is not possible to be baptised unto Christ and not put Him on.  Having been baptised, they pass, morally, out from the sphere where the law operates, and into the sphere where Christ is all.  The word of God to Joshua was “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan”, Joshua 1:2.  With the representative of the law gone, the promise to Abraham of a land can begin to be fulfilled.  The land of Canaan was named after the man Canaan.  When Israel were “baptised” in the river Jordan, they emerged into a territory which had the name of a man upon it.  So we have been baptised into Christ, and have emerged out of the waters of baptism into a sphere where the name of Christ is all-pervading. 

New standard
According to the custom of the day, when a child came to maturity, a cloak would be placed upon his shoulders.  This was called the cloak of manhood.  When we are baptised, we pledge to display the character of God’s Son in our lives, as if the cloak of His manhood is put upon us. 

New situation
3:28    There is neither Jew not Greek- the word “there” is an adverb with the same force as the preposition “in”.  There is there, (that is, in Christ), neither Jew nor Greek.  All such distinctions are irrelevant as far as our position in Christ is concerned, for that position is a heavenly one, whereas they relate to differences on earth.  There is neither bond nor free- the distinctions of privilege which have come about as a result of the Fall are irrelevant.  As the next verse will show, every believer is an heir; the fact that a slave had nothing, and that a free man only had riches of this world, is of no account.  There is neither male nor female- there is a slight difference in the wording here, obscured in the Authorised Version.  The words are literally, “There is not ‘male and female'”.  In other words, the apostle is quoting directly from Genesis 1:27.  Since to be in Christ Jesus is to be part of a heavenly sphere, even such basic things as gender differences are not relevant in this context.  We have noticed that the apostle does make a distinction between “we” and “ye” in these verses.  He elsewhere gives instruction as to the conduct of bond and free, and he maintains the distinction in the assembly between male and female.  So the differences mentioned here are not completely eradicated, or else there would be no marriage between believers.  The point is that in this context they are irrelevant, for the reason he now gives.  For ye are all one in Christ Jesus- however diverse they were before, they are, in Christ Jesus, a new entity.  He will say in 6:15 that they are a new creation.  Here, in context, they are the seed of Abraham. 

3:29    And if- the words are “but if”, carrying the argument forward from the statement of verse 28, and bringing it to a climax.  If ye be Christ’s- if Christ recognises you as His own, even though you were once Gentiles.  He disowned the nation of Israel as a whole, even though it claimed to be the seed of Abraham, John 8:37.  In 4:9 believers are said to be known of God, whereas here they are owned by Christ.  Then are ye Abraham’s seed- here is a further dimension to the idea of Abraham’s seed, and is the logical outcome of being the sons of Abraham by faith.  This is a staggering statement, that Gentiles are Abraham’s seed!  Zealous Jews would find this very difficult to accept, but John the Baptist had prepared them for the idea when he said that God was able to raise up children unto Abraham from the stones, Matthew 3:9.  If He can do this with stones, He can do it with Gentile sinners.  And heirs according to the promise- there is no definite article here, so they are heirs according to promise, which reminds us of the distinction made in verse 14, see notes on that verse.  They are heirs on the principle of promise, implying God’s working, and certainly not heirs according to their works.