Scripture Notes

I.

Isaiah 19:23, 24; Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 14:24-26.

Beyond the fact of the special blessing of Egypt and Assyria, in the future, we are not informed. The reason of their peculiar relationship to Israel, in the days of the kingdom, is not given. But two things should be considered in connection with the subject: First, their immediate contiguity, as in olden days, to the "glorious land" - the one on the north, and the other on the south; and, secondly, that both had been employed by God as rods to chasten His people. A third thing should be noticed, viz., that both of these nations will be judged before they are blessed. It thus says of Egypt, "And the Lord shall smite Egypt: He shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them." (Isaiah 19:22.) But while we have fullest details of the judgment of Assyria, in connection with the deliverance of Israel in the last days, no account is given of its repentance and turning to the Lord, as in the case of Egypt, unless, indeed, Jonah 3 be taken as prophetic as well as historical. The fact of their blessing is alone stated. Zephaniah 3:8, 9 may be read as setting forth the general principle on which God will finally bring the peoples of the earth into the enjoyment of His favour and blessing. It may also be gathered, especially from the prophet Micah, that Israel, restored under Messiah's reign, will be the instrument both for the judgment and for the blessing of their former oppressors. (Chap. 5:4-7.) The presentation, therefore, of the happy relationships between Israel and their former adversaries, under the millennial sway of Christ, is all the more attractive; and surely it speaks loudly of the grace of His heart, albeit He will reign in righteousness, that the two chief enemies of His chosen nation are singled out for His special favour. Accepting the rendering of Isaiah 10:5, as "Woe to the Assyrian," two things are taught: First, that he will be employed as the rod of God's anger against His people; and secondly, that he will be punished for the way in which he executes his mission. (See vv. 12 - 34.) But this punishment of the Assyrian will be prior to the blessing spoken of in chap. 19, and in connection with the deliverance and establishment in blessing of Israel. It should always be remembered that the Assyrian is the last enemy of Israel, and that his destruction is subsequent to that of the two beasts of Rev. 13 as described in Rev. 19.

II.

2 Corinthians 1:5.

As to the difference between "Christ" and "the Christ," we prefer to cite the words of another. In a note in the New Translation on the above Scripture, the Translator says - "I would take this opportunity of drawing attention to the difference between 'Christ' and 'the Christ.' 'The Christ' is the designation of a condition, not a name; 'Christ' is a name. Not only are these not used indifferently, but in the Gospels, where the word is used alone, it is almost invariably 'the Christ,' the Messiah, or Anointed; while in the Epistles it is rarely so. It is used as a name. Some cases are doubtful, because the structure of the Greek phrase requires or prefers the article: this is the case here." The last sentence should be carefully considered, as it shows the danger of pressing, in many cases, a literal translation, without an accurate acquaintance with the original language. We add another comment by the same writer - "As to 'the Christ,' there is no ground whatever for making 'the Christ' the Church. Nine-tenths of the cases where we have 'Christ' in English, it is 'the Christ' in Greek. Christ was not properly a name, but a title, meaning (the same as Messiah in Hebrew) in English 'Anointed' - 'Jesus is the Christ'; but it very soon became a name, but the personal name is Jesus. The only place out of, I suppose, hundreds where 'the Christ' is used for the principle of union among saints, is 1 Corinthians 12 - tantamount to 'so it is in the case of the Christ.' It never means properly the Body, but is used for a name which brings us into relationship with Him, because the Anointed One is the Head of all the anointed ones. (See John 1:33.) Hence the change in Romans 8:11, where Jesus is used as the personal name, and Christ, not at all as the Body, but as the Head of those who will be raised because of Him."* If these remarks are weighed, the reader will be much helped in his examination of this subject; and he will learn, at the same time, the necessity of great care in the study and interpretation of the smallest distinctions in the Scriptures.

*Letters, vol. 2, p. 388.

III.

Philippians 2:15; Revelation 21:11.

Only in these two scriptures does the particular word translated "lights" and "light" occur. It is the word often applied elsewhere to the heavenly luminaries, to the stars of heaven. If, therefore, the passage in Philippians be rendered, as it often is, "among whom ye appear as lights in the world," the force of the word becomes apparent. Christians are set to shine amid the moral darkness of the world, as the stars in the firmament. This is their office; and if the scripture in Revelation be examined the source of the light will be discovered. The holy Jerusalem is seen descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and then it is added, "and her light was like unto a stone most precious," etc. She appears above the millennial earth with the glory of God, which constitutes her light, shining as a luminary - surpassing all that had ever been before seen - in the purged heavens. A similar thing is seen in connection with the earthly Jerusalem: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." The glory of God is the display of all that He is in all His perfections as revealed in Christ; and the holy Jerusalem will be the vessel of this display in the coming age. It is this which will constitute her light. (Compare Rev. 21:23.) In like manner it is Christ displayed through the believer which constitutes his light. There is, therefore, a connection between the two scriptures. Believers should be morally now what they will be hereafter in actual display.

IV.

1 Corinthians 3:1.

It has often been pointed out that in this and the preceding chapters, the apostle distinguishes three classes. First, there is the "natural" man, that is, man as born into this world, man in his unconverted state and condition; and it is of him Paul says that he "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (Chap. 2:14.) Next, there is the "spiritual" man, one, that is, who is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, because the Spirit of God dwells in him (Rom. 8:9), and one who is also walking in the Spirit (see Gal. 5:16, 25), controlled by the Holy Spirit in his life and conduct. Lastly, there are the carnal (3:1-4), those who, though really Christians, "walk as men," that is, are governed, not by the indwelling Spirit, but by human principles and motives, in fact, by the flesh. Hence the apostle says, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" Alas! that it should be possible for us, the children of God, to be so characterized. And as a warning, it should ever be remembered that when we are not walking in the Spirit, the flesh will assuredly assert its power and be manifested. It is on this account Paul elsewhere writes, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16.)

"The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter 4:7.)