By Robert Anderson
NOTE CHAPTER 12
EXCLUSION from the millennial kingdom, we are told by some, will be the penalty imposed on Christians who lapse into immoral practices. And in proof of this we are referred to such passages as 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; etc. This assumes, however, that "the Kingdom of God" is merely a synonym for the millennial kingdom, an error which is exposed by the very first passage in which the phrase occurs in the Epistles. In Romans 14:17 we read, "The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." This reminds us of the Lord's words to Nicodemus. The world and its religion is the natural sphere, but the Kingdom of God is spiritual; and none can enter it, none can see it, without a new birth by the Spirit. This is a truth of present and universal application. 1 Corinthians 15:50, which refers to the future, is a still more decisive refutation of the error. There we read that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God"; that is, can have no place or part in it. But, as we all know, "flesh and blood" -- men in their natural bodies -- will be in the millennial kingdom. Then again we recall the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 2:12, "that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." This is explained by Thessalonians 1:5, "that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God" -- a reference not to the future state, but to the place and calling of the Christian here and now. It is akin to the exhortations of Ephesians 4:1 (R.V.), "I beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." For it is a present truth, and a fact of practical import, that the Christian has been "translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:13). As a matter of fact, it is extremely doubtful whether the millennial kingdom is ever referred to in these Epistles of the Apostle Paul.
This scheme of exegesis, moreover, would teach us to acknowledge an "evil liver" as a Christian. But as 2 Timothy 2:19 tells us, the Divine seal has two faces: "The Lord knoweth them that are His" is the Godward side of it; the other, which is to govern our action, is "Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But, we are told, the "incestuous person" in Corinth was a Christian. The inspired Apostle so decided; but to us it is not given to read the Godward face of the Divine seal, and we are bound to judge others by their profession and conduct. To acknowledge as a Christian any one who is living in open sin is to be false to the Lord. Our responsibility is to act on 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 and similar Scriptures. But if every penitent has a claim upon Christian sympathy, surely one whom we have regarded as a fellow believer ought to be treated with unbounded patience and pity and Christian love. And let us not forget that there are sins more heinous than immoral acts. Some of the "unfortunates" of the streets may be nearer the kingdom than are men of high repute in the Professing Church, who are patterns of all virtue, but who deny the Deity and atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:31). The doom of Sodom will be more tolerable than that of devout Capernaum (Matthew 11:23, 24).
What do the writers I am criticizing mean by "reigning with Christ"? Are all the many millions of the elect to sit on separate thrones? The Lord's words in Matthew 19:28 are clear. And some commentators refer to those words as explaining the first clause of Revelation 20:4. But is it not equally clear that in the latter clause, as in Romans 5:17 and 2 Timothy 2:12, the word is used in the secondary sense of "living royally" with Christ, or (as Grimm gives it) "to denote the supreme dignity, liberty, blessedness, which will be enjoyed by the redeemed "? And thus the word will be fulfilled for all; unless indeed we are to jettison the truth of grace, and make our heavenly calling and its blessings depend on merit. Certain it is that some will have special honours and rewards; but this truth does not conflict with the other.
In this closing section of the Apocalypse there is no element of historic fulfillment. The scheme I am criticizing assumes that "the first resurrection" is that of the "Coming" of Paul's Epistles: to me it seems certain that it is called "the first," with reference to the general resurrection of the 5th verse. And the language of verse 4 clearly indicates that it is the victims of the Tribulation who will have part in the first resurrection; for the redeemed of the present dispensation will have already passed to heaven in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52. And it is not a matter of opinion, but of faith based on the Divinely-given words, that at that Coming of Christ none of His people will be left behind -- "we shall not all sleep, but we shall ALL be changed."
Instead of accepting any of these theories, albeit they are suggested by a true spiritual instinct, let us seek to realize the responsibilities of our life on earth in view of the supreme solemnities of the judgment-seat of Christ.
1 Throughout our conversation he always spoke of Him as Jesus; and I as the Lord Jesus.
2 New Testament Commentary, Matthew 12:43-45.
1 It is mere tradition that would exclude the Evangelist Luke from this category, and the facts outweigh the tradition.
2 Dean Farrar's Life and Work of St. Paul, vol. i. p. 598. The italics are mine. I shall have occasion to refer to this passage again with reference to the truth of the Coming.
3 That it has a secondary meaning is clearly indicated by the 17th verse.
4 In its highest fulfillment the sheaf of the first-fruits is Christ personally; but dispensationally it typifies the redeemed of this Christian age, "a kind of first-fruits of His creatures" (James 1:18).
5 These words are quoted from Dr. Bloomfield's Greek Testament.
"Mysteries of the faith" he again defines as "certain verities hitherto quite unknown, and which could be derived from no other source but a Divine revelation."
1 Jeremiah prophesied from the thirteenth year of Josiah (627 B.C.) until the fall of Jerusalem in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (587 B.C.). See Jeremiah 1:2, 3.
2 The Apostle Paul's commission to the Jews is generally overlooked: "the people and the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee" (Acts 26:17). "To both the people and the Gentiles; not the Gentiles only." Alford in loco.
3 The A.V. makes the 15th verse of Romans 11 contradict verse 2, where a different, Greek word is used. And the R.V. is quite as unsatisfactory, for it uses a stronger phrase in ver. 15 than in ver. 2. (See The Oxford English Dictionary.) A garment befouled with filth is "thrown away," but a garment that impedes our movements is "thrown off" The word used in ver. 15 occurs in its verbal form in this very sense in Mark 10:50.
4 55th Canon of the Convention of 1603.
5 It is noteworthy that the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Galatians are addressed to churches, whereas his Epistles after this date -- Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians -- are addressed to "the saints" in those places.
1 The same phrase, "My gospel," occurs also in ch. 2:16. How can anyone imagine that the Apostle would call the gospel his, save in the sense that it was the subject of a special revelation to himself! 2 The first kai in this sentence is obviously epexegetic. If read otherwise, as in our English versions, the Apostle is made to distinguish between the gospel of Christ and a gospel of his own. And "the Scriptures of the Prophets" is a mistranslation that reduces the Apostle's words to an absurdity. For he is thus made to say that this "mystery" gospel was kept secret in all the past, and yet that it was plainly taught in the Old Testament Scriptures. The Greek is simple and clear. In ch. 1:2, the words are: "His prophets in holy writings" (i.e. the Old Testament Scriptures). In ch. 16:25, 26, the words are: "prophetic writings" (the inspired Scriptures of the New Testament). A prophet is "one who, moved by the Spirit of God, declares to men what he has received by inspiration" (Grimm's Lexicon). And therefore "prophetic" is equivalent to inspired; the element of foretelling the future is merely incidental.
3 It is a gratifying proof of increasing light that so many modern expositors explain the words that follow ("and to all that are afar off") as referring to the Jews of the dispersion. To say that the promise was to Gentiles is utterly opposed to Scripture. (See e.g. Romans 9:4; 15:8; Ephesians 2:12; etc., etc.) It is certain, moreover, that not one of Peter's audience would put such a meaning on his words.
4 Sunday is thus designated in our older statutes.
5 These last clauses are taken from the Preface to the ninth edition of The Silence of God, a book in which I have sought to unfold the forgotten truth of "the mystery of God."
1 For the only alternative would be that heaven was about to be brought under kingly rule. The word basileia means either kingly rule or the sphere in which that rule prevails.
2 Not "every Israelite," but Israel as a nation. For Romans 11. does not deal with questions of individual salvation at all, but with national and dispensational distinctions. (See Alford's Greek Testament Commentary.)
3 Ephesians and Colossians. It is not specifically mentioned in Philippians.
4 See Appendix 2.
1 These grand words are quoted from Dean Alford's commentary upon Luke 24:27.
2 This would be merely a return to the state of things existing when Romans 11 was written.
3 See Appendix 3.
4 Hebrews 9:28 is misread when cited as a warrant for the phrase. The subject there is the doctrine of the Sin-offering. When Aaron passed within the veil, the people watched till he came out again to bless them. So also Christ, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall be seen a second time, apart from sin, by them that wait for Him unto salvation. The words of our A.V., "shall appear the second time," convey a wrong impression. The word translated "appear" in both A. V. and R.V. is not that employed respecting the Lord's coming, but the ordinary word for being seen. I have therefore modified to this extent the R.V. reading given above.
This will have a literal fulfillment for Israel; but it is a great doctrinal truth for the people of God in every age. It is the Hebrews aspect of the truth of the Death and Resurrection of Christ in Romans.
5 The "thousand years" of Revelation 20:4 is taken by some to mean, not a definite chronological era, but a vast period of time.
6 The 40th and 41st verses of ch. 24 are explained by verse 31. It is not taking His elect out of the earth, but gathering them together upon earth for the earthly kingdom.
1 That it was the leaders who had fallen is an obvious inference: it is so in every persecution.
2 This appears very plainly from the first part of both ch. 4 and ch. 5. 3 Alford's note here is: "This first has no reference whatever to the 'first resurrection' (Revelation 20:5, 6), but answers to then in verse 17." This is of great importance if we are to understand Scripture aright. The first resurrection of Revelation 20 is so called in relation to the resurrection after the 1000 years. It belongs to the future dispensation of a restored Israel. The faithful martyrs of the Great Tribulation will then be raised from the dead. (New Testament Commentary, in loco.) 4 "Being found naked" is the condition produced by death. "Being clothed upon" refers, not to the Resurrection but to the coming of the Lord. "The thought is that of one who...wishes, as he expects, to remain till that Coming (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:15), to let the incorruptible body supervene on the corruptible, to be changed instead of dying." (Bishop Ellicott's New Testament Commentary for English Reader's.)
5 "To die is gain" is the evil creed of a suicide. The Apostle never said that!"
6 This is the meaning given to the word in Grimm's Lexicon.. It occurs also in Romans 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Hebrews 9:28. Grimm remarks that it is scarcely found out of the New Testament.
7 The 14th verse of Philippians 3 is sometimes taken as referring to the Coming. But verse 12 vetoes such an exegesis. See Appendix 4. 8 "Bringing salvation to all men" suggests a serious error; and moreover the word here used is an adjective. And surely, having regard to English idiom, the A. V. hendiadys rendering, "the glorious appearing," is right, for The R.V. rendering throws a wholly false emphasis upon "glory." It is a strange exegesis which makes "the great God" a synonym for The Father: Scripture does not employ one term when another is intended.
1 I say this because the fact is admitted by expositors of various schools, many of whom have no sympathy with the hope.
2 For the Lord's coming for His heavenly people having already taken place, "the Christian Church" will have reached the full development of its apostasy, and will then be awaiting its fearful doom.
3 As regards the 70 weeks, see Appendix 1.
4 At the Coming of the Lord, His own people within the professing Church will be called up to heaven, and that Church will be left to its doom. It may be asked again, "Will there be no longer any salvation for sinners within the apostate professing Church?" Surely the Divine principles of Romans 2:7 will hold good in that future age, as fully as in the past; and therefore, until "the great day of wrath" (which comes after the Tribulation) there will be mercy for those who seek it aright. Very many waverers, perhaps, will be startled into repentance by the Coming of the Lord.
1 The words are Professor Tyndall's.
2 The same Hebrew word is used.
3 It is an exclamation, like Galatians 4:15. And announcement is the primary and common meaning of the word here translated "promise." It might be freely rendered, "What has become of His announcement?"
4 The conflict between science and Scripture in regard to Genesis 1 is mainly due to misreading Genesis. It does not describe the creation of the earth, but its refurnishing as a home for man.
5 The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament (Macmillan & Co.). I had the satisfaction of appealing successfully for the reissue of this book a dozen years ago.
6 Dr. Plummer's Church of the Early Fathers, chapter 7.
7 De Habitu Virgimum.
8 Wordsworth's Church History, vol. 3. p. 92.
9 Dill's Roman, Society, p. 113.
10 And this was one of the "Ecumenical Councils" which were recognized in England even after the Reformation. At the Ephesus Council of eighteen years later the "orthodox" majority made free use of their hired bullies, and Flavian, Bishop of Byzantium, received such brutal treatment that he died of his injuries. As another illustration of what, in his Bampton Lectures, Canon Liddon calls "the illuminated mind of primitive Christendom," it may be mentioned that in the struggle for the Popedom between the rival factions of Damasus and Ursinus, 131 corpses were left on the pavement of one of the Roman churches in a single day.
11 The body of Salvian's treatise containing this terrible indictment of the Primitive Church is given in Taylor's Ancient Christianity, together with quotations from Augustine and others of the Fathers in support of his testimony. The preceding clauses are taken from The Buddha of Christendom now republished as The Bible or the Church. 12 Froude's Council of Trent.
13 Since these pages were written, a sadder book even than Newman's Apologia has been published, viz. Monsignor Benson's Confessions of a Convert. The fact that such men as these are led by the prevalent superstitions about "the Church" to make shipwreck of their Christian life proves the need of plain speaking on this subject. And surely all who are connected with either of the historic Churches of the Reformation have a peculiar right, if not a special responsibility, to undertake the unwelcome task.
1 In these days to hold that the Lord of glory was duped by Jewish superstitions about the Divine authority of Holy Scripture is proof of enlightenment, but a man is "past praying for" who exposes the pestilent superstitions about the Church, which are the stock-in-trade of the Apostasy!
2 Dean Alford in loco. The italics are his own.
3 These words are Dr. Alfred Edersheim's.
4 Hatch's Bampton Lectures, 1880 (vii.).
5 (Greek). -- Hebrews 10:37.
1 The primary meaning of behma is a space on which to put one's foot, as in Acts 7:5; then, a raised place, a platform or pulpit, as in Nehemiah 8:4 (LXX). This is its usual meaning in classical Greek. Then, a throne (Acts 12:21) and a judgment-seat.
2 N.T. Synonyms, Second Series. In his concluding sentence he says, "The severer meaning is involved in the word in other places in the New Testament where it occurs." The primary meaning of the word, according to Grimm, is "easy, slight, ordinary, mean, worthless, of no account."
3 I find that Bishop Wordsworth makes a suggestion of this kind in him commentary on the passage.
4 To cite a case of another kind, will nothing be heard in that day of the evil work of Christian advocates of the Higher Criticism apostasy, by whom many a Christian life is wrecked, and multitudes of young Christians are stumbled? (Matthew 18:6.)
1 The Expositor's Greek Testament. Dean Alford's Commentary tells us that the word here rendered generation has the meaning of a race or family of people.
2 The history of the C.M.S. might save us from the baneful superstitions about "the Christian Church" which are so prevalent, and which are the great hindrance to a spiritual revival today. (See chap. 9., ante, especially pp. 97 ff.) These superstitions are opposed to the XXXIX Articles. See Canon Eden's Churchman's Theological Dictionary on Art. XIX, p. 87.
3 The Babylonian cult, which the "Higher Critics" regard as the source from which the cult of the Pentateuch was evolved, was the traditional and corrupt phase of that primeval revelation.
4 See Appendix V.
5 It was a kindred misuse of the truth of the Divine counsels which led "the Christian Church" to oppose the pioneers of Gospel work in heathendom. We need a "Calvin Society" to clear that great teacher's name from the reproach of "Calvinism"!
6 There is no doubt as to the meaning of the words, viz. that He would come "quickly, speedily, without delay" (Grimm's Lexicon). The gloss, that when He does come He will come suddenly, is a sorry quibble. I may add, it is a glaring misuse of 2 Peter 3:8 to apply it here at all; and that not only because of the reason stated on p. 84, ante but also because the Lord here speaks in His human name, as when He taught by the Sea of Galilee, or at the Last Supper -- "I Jesus...I am coming quickly." The mystery deepens when we realize that, if this strange hypothesis be true, the Lord's inspired Apostles were misled by His words. And it becomes overwhelming when we mark the care with which He warned His Jewish disciples in relation to His returning as Son of Man, that he would not come quickly.
1 The incidental questions involved in the chronology of the judgments of the exilic era, and of the seventy weeks, age too numerous and far too important to be treated in an Appendix note. But they are fully dealt with in The Coming Prince; or, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, a book that has been before the public for thirty years, and is now in the ninth edition.
1 To interpret Ephesians 5:31 in a carnal sense is an outrage upon Scripture.
2 Jerwish Social Life, p. 153. It is noteworthy that in 2 Corinthians 11:2 the Apostle does not use the word "bride," but the ordinary word for an unmarried girl.
1 Referring to the exegesis of Philippians 3:8-14, my greatly esteemed friend, the late Dr. E. W. Bullinger, added the following note to a most cordial commendation of, Forgotten Truths:
"We would remind our readers that ano in Philippians 3:14 is not an ajective, meaning 'high' as to quality, but an adverb, meaning 'upward' as to direction; and that the verb katantao (Philippians 3:11)...is always used of a personal or material arrival at a definite situation." This is an enigma to me. Of the thirteen occurrences of katantao, nine are found in Acts and four in the Epistles (1 Corinthians 10:11; 14:36; Ephesians 4:13; and Philippians 3:11). Save only in Acts 26:7, where he quotes the Apostle Paul, the Evangelist always uses the word in its primary meaning of "a personal or material arrival at a given situation." But the word has a secondary meaning, which Grimm defines as "to attain to a thing"; and Philippians 3:11 is one of the passages he cites to illustrate this. Indeed a careful study of the texts above enumerated suggests that the Apostle Paul uses the word always and only in this secondary sense.
And as for ano, the exposition here given of "the high calling of God" is wholly unaffected by the fact that the word is an adverb. I would maintain that in Philippians 3:14 it means neither "high as to quality," nor yet "upward as to direction," but is used (as in Colossians 3:1 and 2) to express the "heavenly" origin and character of the "calling." In keeping with this, Grimm's Lexicon explains Philippians 3:14 as "the calling made in heaven."