The So-Called Angel World
MEN have conceived an inordinate curiosity concerning those
creatures in the universe which are not within the range of their faculties, especially
those in the heavens, beyond their ken. Because contact with these has been chiefly
through messengers or legates, it has become common to call them angels, as if
they all were occupied in carrying messages. Since so little is said of them in the
Scriptures, early attempts were made to enlarge the literature on the subject. That is why
so much is made of them in ancient Jewish writings, the Apocrypha, and such screeds as the
book of Enoch. What is really needed is a microscopic examination of the Scriptures. That
will protect us from the fantastic imaginings of men, which are usually employed as a
background for understanding God's Word, or to enlarge the scope of our meager knowledge
of the theme.
The chief difficulty lies
in the translation angels. There was strong opposition to the rendering messenger
in the English CONCORDANT VERSION, and the same feeling is evident in compiling the German
edition. We do not like to lose our angels. Some have said, But there are
angels, so why not translate accordingly? That is the point. Should a translator
show what he knows in his renderings, of which everyone will approve, or shall he
give what God says? There is no expression in the Hebrew or Greek for our idea, as
expressed in the word angel. The word is not even a translation. It is a
transliteration of the Greek aggelos. If this had been used uniformly, it would
soon have taken to itself the exact force of the Greek. It is not always used for aggelos,
but only when it accords with the traditions against which our Lord so strongly warned His
disciples. It is a good example of discordant translation, of how our Bibles effectively
conceal instead of reveal the truth.
That there are many
passages which seem to insist that the mere word aggelos must mean a
celestial being, we are well aware. But this is always in the context, not in the word. In
many cases where we were once sure that an angel was intended, such as
Gabriel, we have had to retract. Angel is interpretation, not translation.
MEN MAY BE ANGELS
name aggelos is translated messenger when it is not angel. It is applied to
John the Baptist (Matt.11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27), to his disciples (Luke 7:24), to some
of our Lord's disciples (Luke 9:52), to the spies at Jericho (James 2:25), and once, by
some inadvertence, to a messenger of Satan (2 Cor.12:7). The only other occurrences of messenger
in the Authorized Version (New Testament), are 2 Corinthians 8:23, our brethren . .
. the messengers of the churches, and Philippians 2:25, Epaphroditus .
. . your messenger. In these it should be translated apostle, or commissioner.
It is evident that our translators knew that there were only twelve apostles,
so they did not wish to have the Scriptures teach otherwise. And also they
knew that angels are celestial beings, so they could not apply the term to
men. If they had not been so anxious to display their knowledge, and had rendered both apostolos
and aggelos uniformly, we would have known much more, and the saints would have
been delivered from many harmful traditions.
The noun, aggelia,
is rendered message (1 John 3:11). There can be no question as to its significance.
Hence aggelos is messenger. It is an occupation, not a
nature. It does not distinguish between men and celestial beings. It may be
used of men just as freely as of non-human spirits. When I was young I used to sing,
I want to be an angel. This desire was gratified early in life, when I ran
errands for my parents and at my vocation. Anyone can be an angel. All that is needed is a
message. If we wish to harbor truth in our hearts we must speak of men as angels, or of
angels as messengers, or the truth will elude us, and we will unwittingly be trapped by
age-old errors, no matter how earnest and sincere our desire to know and to teach God's
As from the Greek, the A.
V. translation from the Hebrew also uses angel for two words, mlak and abir.
The latter means STURDY, and is so rendered only once in the well-known passage, Man
did eat angels' food (Psa.78:25). This, of course, is a clear concession to
corrupt tradition, for messengers have no special food, at least it is no better, if not
worse than the food of others. John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. This was
surely angel's food, for he is thrice called an angel! I have heard of American Indians
who ate locusts when out on the desert where nothing else could be had. But they were not
considered angels. I have never been able to compel myself to try this angels'
In Hebrew and Chaldee the
common word for angel, mlak, literally signifies a WORKER, but, in usage, it is
confined to one kind of work, that of carrying messages. It is translated ambassador
four times (2 Chron.35:21; Isa.30:4; 33:7; Ezek.17:15) and messenger, nearly a
hundred times. Messenger, in the so-called Old Testament, is always the same as angel,
except 1 Samuel 4:17 (bshr, CARRY-NEWS); 2 Samuel 15:13; Jeremiah 51:31,31 (ngd,
teller), and Proverbs 25:13; Isaiah 57:9 (tzir, agent), and Genesis 50:16 (tzue,
INSTRUCT), according to my books. In nearly a hundred instances the rendering angel
deceives the student into the idea that, of necessity, a super-human being is intended,
when in no case is this to be deduced from the word itself. The use of angel is
interpretation, not translation.
The moment we translate
uniformly our eyes are opened to receive much light. Only a very small proportion of the
celestial host are messengers. This is not the proper designation for all of them, but
only for those who are sent with messages. As these are almost the only ones who have any
occasion to visit the earth, we should not imagine that all the rest are similarly
occupied. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. If we should send a few men as
delegates to Mars, would it not be foolish for the Martians to jump to the conclusion that
all human beings are messengers? We do not think that foreign nations are populated with
ambassadors, because one of them comes to our capital. There are, indeed, hundreds of
millions of them (Rev.5:11), but this only shows us how enormous the population of the
celestial realms must be. We know that there are more stars than this, so the number, huge
as it seems, is not great, for there could easily be at least one messenger for each star.
The chief havoc wrought by
this confusion in translation is the unwarranted assumption that all angels
must, of necessity, be superhuman, of a different nature from ours. And this
is taught even where the Scriptures distinctly insist that they are human, or men, or
mortals. For instance, the two angels who came to Sodom are called by the name
anush, mortal, just like the men of Sodom. It is not only the Sodomites who called
them this, but also the writer of Genesis (Gen.19:1,4,4,5,8,10,11,12,16). These are also
called by this name in the previous chapter, when they visited Abraham (Gen.18:2,16,22).
One of them doubtless was Yahweh, but surely no one makes Him an angel. He was
a messenger, especially on this occasion, but, instead of being unlike mankind, humanity
was made in His image, according to His likeness. There is nothing strange or unnatural in
His appearance as a man.
In direct contradiction to
the fact that Yahweh is called a messenger (Gen. 19:1,22,24), and, indeed, has the voice
of the Chief Messenger (1 Thess.4:16), our English translation says, verily, He took
not on Him the nature of angels . . . (Heb.2:16). The actual introduction of
a whole phrase, which is not in the original and which clashes with the context, opens our
eyes to the fact that the translators have ideas on this subject which are not shared by
the divine Author. The word nature is peculiarly unfortunate, in that it gives
sanction to the false speculations concerning angels, suggesting that they are
a distinct order of beings not in any case human, for our Lord did become a man. Later
translators have cut out the nature of, yet the false impression remains, and
is considered so scriptural that it is seldom even questioned.
But, some will say, does
not Hebrews continually contrast angels with men? No. That is not the point.
The first two chapters of Hebrews bring before us the fact that, while God had been
dealing with the nation through heaven-sent messengers, now He comes in His Christ, Who is
better than any of those sent before Him (1:4), Who is His Son (1:5), Who receives the
worship of all of the messengers (1:6), Who has an eonian throne, far above His fellows
(1:8,9), Who is exalted to God's right hand (1:13). To these messengers of the past He
does not subject the future habitance (2:5), but, rather, He will put the heavenly
messengers themselves under man when all is subject to him. The whole mistake arises from
the fact that God has sent celestial messengers to His people. As Christ is also from the
heavens, He must first be related to them, and then to Moses and Joshua and Aaron, the
The Scriptures are careful
to distinguish between the messengers of God in the heavens (which we call angels)
and those which belong to the earth (Mark 12:25). The latter may marry, but the former are
not sexed. This is supposed to be so well known that our Lord appeals to it without giving
any proof. For in the resurrection they are neither marrying nor giving in marriage,
but are as messengers of God in heaven (Matt.22:30; Mark 12:25). In Luke we are told
that sons of the resurrection are equal to messengers (Luke 20:36). But today
this is not known or accepted. Many passages are supposed to imply the opposite. And it is
this uncertain sound which is making infidels of men. Theology and the Bible are at
variance and they cannot believe both. So they reject both.
ANGELS HAVE NO SEX
of angels is often a subject of speculation. Pictures usually give them a feminine aspect,
with long hair and flowing dress, but in apostate apocryphal stories, and in traditional
interpretations, especially as regards sinning angels, they are always male, for it is
usually inordinate sexuality which is supposed to lead to their downfall. This matter is
of prime importance. If angels, who are not human, nor even sexed, can unite with mankind,
then we must also admit that animals of different species can generate new species, and so
we throw open the door to evolution and throw doubt upon the opening pages of the Bible.
This has led, and will lead, to the apostasy of the end time. Let us be exceedingly sure
before we assert that the Scriptures actually and directly teach the mingling of these two
dissimilar races. Let us not allow any reasoning from the Scriptures to lead us in this
If, as the Scriptures
plainly teach, the heavenly messengers have no sex, how can they have the emotions, the
desires, the lusts, which accompany its possession? To make the chief sin of angels depend
on faculties and functions which they do not possess, is a position which is utterly
untenable unless solidly supported by actual statements in God's Word. No reasonings from
that Word can possibly overcome its inherent unreasonableness. That the present writer has
been guilty of this, and not long since, is freely admitted. He postponed his examination
and revision of the subject until he had thoroughly worked over the Hebrew vocabulary, and
meanwhile followed the traditions he had been taught, especially that angels had unnatural
connections with mankind in earth's early ages.
A new rendering of Genesis
five and six, and a more careful study of the chronology of the time showed him that he
had been mistaken in confusing the days of Adam with the days of Noah. There may be as
much as seven hundred years between them. In 1 Peter 3:20 the sin of the messengers is
connected with the days of Noah. I once took this as a proof that the sons of
God in Genesis six were angels, and that they are the sinning messengers. Since I
now see that this is impossible, the whole subject has cleared up and I find that I have
not been believing plain statements, but rather reasoning from obscure ones. I gladly make
this confession in the hope that others will find a like relief. A few lines in the notes
of the CONCORDANT VERSION should be stricken out.
The passage in Peter reads
as follows, concordantly rendered:
For it is better to
be suffering for doing good, if it be the will of God, than for doing evil, seeing that
Christ also, for our sakes, once died concerning sins, the just for the sake of the
unjust, that He may be leading us to God; being put to death, indeed, in flesh, yet
vivified in spirit, in which, being gone to the spirits in the jail also, He proclaims to
those stubborn at one time, when the patience of God waited in the days of Noah while the
ark was being constructed, in which a few, that is eight souls, were conveyed safely
through water, the representation of which, baptism, is now saving you also not putting off the filth of the flesh, but the inquiry of
a good conscience to God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who is at God's right
hand, being gone into heaven, messengers and authorities and powers being made subject to
Him (1 Peter 3:17-22).
It is always well to have
the whole context, so as to get the drift of thought. Suffering and reward is the subject
here. Christ suffered and has been exalted. So will it be with those who are His. In
passing, it may be well to point out that the sufferings of Christ, in this passage, are
not sacrificial, those that came from God, but those heaped upon Him by men. We cannot
suffer as a sacrifice. God will not deal with us as such. In this He is alone. But, at the
same time, He suffered from the evil heaped upon Him by men, and in this He is the Example
for His disciples of the Circumcision.
Several have objected to
the concordant rendering on the ground that it inserts the word in twice in flesh, in spirit. They would have it
without, and make it read, put to death flesh, raised a spirit. But that is
totally incomprehensible, and fails to show that these words are in the dative case. In
is the characteristic connective of the dative, which locates, and it is absolutely
necessary in a language like English, which has no form to distinguish the dative.
One of the strangest and
most contradictory doctrines of theology is the assertion that men are alive in death. The
statement that Christ was put to death, indeed, in flesh, yet vivified in spirit, is one
of the props of this supposition. But when we remember the connection suffering at the hands of men and reward at the hands of God
all is clear. Men could not kill Him through His soul or spirit. They did it by
means of His flesh. God could not rouse Him by means of flesh. He did it by the power of
His holy spirit, for the spirit alone gives life. Here we have the death and vivification
of Christ. He was no longer dead when He was made alive. What follows took place,
not in death, but in resurrection. He was not vivified twice. It included His body, which
is spiritual, or spirit-controlled. One of the weirdest nightmares in all theology is
Christ, His body in the tomb, His soul in hell, as a sort of phantom, visiting the
prison-house of sinning angels.
WHEN THE ANGELS SINNED
time when some or all of these messengers sinned is clearly indicated by Peter in his
first epistle. It was when the patience of God awaited in the days of Noah while
the ark was being constructed. This is usually taken to be a clear indication
that they are the sons of God in the sixth of Genesis. The fact that in many
Bibles all of this comes on the same page, may have suggested this conclusion. But if
carefully examined, it is altogether untenable. There is half a millennium, at least,
between the days of Adam and the building of the ark. Noah himself was not even born till
a century after the days of Adam and he was five hundred years old before he began the
As this point is of prime
importance let us note the following facts. Genesis is divided into eleven
generations, (1) the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26), (2) Adam (5:1-6:8), (3)
Noah (6:9-9:29), (4) Sons of Noah (10:1-11:9), (5) Shem (11:10-26), (6) Terah
(11:27-25:11), (7) Ishmael (25:12-18), (8) Isaac (25:19-35:29), (9) Esau (36:1-8), (10)
Esau's Sons (36:9-42), (11) Jacob (37:1-50:26). Note that Genesis five and the first eight
verses of six deal with Adam and his generations. In five we have his male
descendants. In 6:1-8 we have his daughters. The A.V. has obscured this, so we give
a new rendering. The confusion has arisen from the fact that the Hebrew adam may
refer to the individual or to the race, to the man, or to mankind. As this section
avowedly deals with the generations of the man, it should be rendered accordingly.
And it comes that
Adam starts to increase on the face of the ground, and daughters are born to them [Adam
and Eve]. And the sons of God are seeing the daughters of Adam that they are good, and
they are taking to themselves wives of all whom they choose.
And Yahweh is
saying, My spirit shall not abide in Adam for the eon. He is in their error, and his
days shall be a hundred and twenty years.
were in the earth in those days, and, moreover, afterward, those who are sons of God are
coming to the daughters of Adam, and they are bearing for them. They are the mighty ones,
who are from the eon, mortals of renown.
All of this belongs to the
days of Adam, more than a century before the days of Noah, and more than
half a millennium before the days of the ark, to which Peter refers. There is no
connection between the sinning messengers and the sons of God.
DID ANGELS SIN LIKE SODOM?
the strongest passage in favor of the sexual sins of the fallen angels is found in Jude's
epistle. I candidly acknowledge that, for a long time, it seemed insoluble to me. I had a
subtle feeling that all was not right in my understanding of the passage, but I could not
define it. At last, while working on a German translation, I consulted the Elberfelder
version, to see what they had made of it, and the solution stared me in the face. They
translate, in like manner to them, but put in the footnotes, actually, these.
The likeness is not between the angels (them) and Sodom, but between the cities about them
and Sodom and Gomorrah!
The passage reads:
Now I am intending
to remind you, you who once are aware of all, that the Lord, when saving the people out of
the land of Egypt, secondly destroys those who believe not. Besides, the messengers who
keep not their own sovereignty, but leave their own habitation, He has kept in
imperceptible bonds under gloom for the judgment of the great day. As Sodom and Gomorrah
(and the cities about them in like manner to these), committing ultra-prostitution, and
coming away after other flesh, are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice
of eonian fire (Jude 5-7).
Jude brings up three
examples: the sons of Israel, the messengers, and Sodom and Gomorrah with the surrounding
cities. These are all distinct in kind. There is little likeness between the sin and the
fate of the three examples. The Israelites did not believe and were strewn along the
wilderness. The messengers were not destroyed for unbelief, but for failure to keep, and
for leaving what was theirs, hence they are held for future judgment. Sodom and other
cities were burned up for fleshly excesses, and their land remains to testify to their
This is not the time or
place to give a detailed exposition of this passage. We are concerned only with the
so-called angels. Our main contention is that there is only a general
likeness, indicated by the word as, but no specific resemblance to show that the
messengers committed the sin of Sodom or one similar to it. The words in like
manner, which are often used to prove this position, relate to Sodom and Gomorrah,
not to the angels. It is not like them (the messengers), but like these
(Sodom and Gomorrah). All of the cities of the plain, except Zoar (Gen.19:22,23), were
overthrown, and all the plain, and the inhabitants of the cities (Gen.19:25).
The word we render
habitation occurs only once more in the Scriptures and is not found in the
LXX. In 2 Corinthians 5:2 it is used of the celestial body which will be ours in
resurrection. Therefore, I deemed it probable that it referred to the celestial bodies of
these angels. The Greek word means a literal house, so the usage in Corinthians is
figurative, for we will not have actual houses for bodies in the resurrection. It is
unwise to transfer a figurative usage from one text to another. Only the actual
literal meaning of the word is the link between passages which contain the same
expression. The transference of special usages from text to text has become the
source of much imaginative speculation. Some have even confused it with concordant study.
But what was the sin
of these messengers? Not a word is said about the flesh or its excesses. They did not keep
their own sovereignty and left their own habitation. Note the repetition of
the word own. Every creature of God has its own proper habitation. For mankind, as
at present constituted, it is the surface of the ground, on the earth. Men are seeking to
leave it, with some measure of success. They are trying to usurp the realm that belongs to
the flying creatures and the fishes. They are invading the upper regions of the air and
the depths of the sea, and are paying a dear price for their daring.
In some such way, but with
more success, the messengers left the housing God gave them, over which they were the
rulers, somewhat as man is sovereign in his sphere. Man's sovereignty over the
surface of the earth consists in his lordship over all God's other creatures in this same
sphere. So, we may take it, the messengers failed to keep their superior place where they
belonged, and where they were needed to preserve order.
It is possible, but not at
all probable, that the word we render sovereignty may revert to its literal
meaning, origin. In time it would mean beginning, which yields no sense. Of state
or place, it would yield a feebler idea than sovereignty, for this
practically implies that they were first as well as foremost. As we shall see, there is a
relationship between sovereignties and messengers, which suggests that this is the thought
in this passage. It accords well with habitation, its parallel here.
We are not told where the
proper habitation of these messengers is, or where they are now kept. We can only mention
possibilities, such as are evident to our senses. Men could be held with iron chains. Not
so celestial messengers. Hence we are told that theirs are imperceptible. The
Authorized Version rendering everlasting is absurd on the face of it. Only in
theology will men endure such palpable contradictions as everlasting unto. The word
may just as well be analyzed into its elements UNPERCEIVABLE, imperceptible. UN- is the
usual prefix a-. PERCEIVE is a very common root id. An ending, -ios,
makes it an adjective. Everlasting chains, which last until the judgment, is inane.
Imperceptible chains is suggestive. Mankind is bound by imperceptible bonds to its
habitation. It is only when we try to break them, seek to leave the atmosphere, and
suffocate, or desert the soil and hunger, that we perceive the chains which bind us. Such
bonds detain these messengers in their jail.
Another passage, which
should be considered in this connection, is found in Peter's second epistle:
For if God spares
not sinning messengers, but, thrusting them into the gloomy caverns of Tartarus, gives
them up to be kept for chastening judgment, and spares not the ancient world, but guards
Noah, an eighth, a herald of righteousness, bringing a deluge on the world of the
irreverent, and condemns the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to cinders by an
overthrow, having placed them for an example for those about to be irreverent, and rescues
just Lot, . . . (2 Peter 2:4-7).
It is generally supposed
that these messengers are the same as those in First Peter and Jude, and there seems to be
no reason to distinguish between them. The added information is very meager, but it helps
to confirm the facts which we have found elsewhere. There is no hint of sexual sin.
Indeed, the idea becomes impossible when we consider it closely. They are always supposed
to be males exclusively. But what sort of race could that be, of one sex only? It would be
a monstrosity, such as God could not possibly perpetrate.
messengers are not hampered in their movements about the universe. They can exist
anywhere, even in the dense atmosphere of earth. It is possible, however, that they need
light, the universal source of energy in the physical universe. So it may be that, they
are deprived of light, and this constitutes the means of their detention. This is enforced
by this passage, in which messengers are banished to Tartarus. This word is used in Greek
mythology of the regions furthest from the light, and we seem to have no other clue to its
significance. Tartarus is not hell, or hades, or gehenna, or the lake
of fire. It is used for the detention of angels, only until they are judged.
That which holds them fast is darkness, gloom.
Let it be emphatically
understood that we do not know where Tartarus is, but we merely make a few suggestions as
to what may be possible. As the eye sweeps the sky it finds some parts of it quite dark.
As a rule a powerful telescope will fill even such space with stars. But there is one
particularly dark spot, which seems quite devoid of light. This may be Tartarus. A more
probable location, however, is found much nearer us. The moon does not seem to have any
atmosphere, hence the shadows are very intense. This can be seen with the naked eye
if it is directed at the border between light and darkness in the new moon. There are
bright specks in the dark portion where the sun shines on a high peak. These are in
intense contrast with the surrounding gloom. But the side of the moon which we see is
illuminated to some extent by earth-shine. The earth reflects some of the light of the sun
to the dark portions of its disc, so that it is visible, even in the new moon. But nearly
half of the surface of our satellite is never turned toward the earth. We never see it. It
never sees us, so it has no earth-shine. A shady place on this portion of the moon would
be intensely dark. A cavern would be almost lightless even when the surface exposed to the
sun is bright. And no one who looks long at the surface of the moon, with its rugged peaks
and enormous craters, can doubt the presence of innumerable caverns, formed by volcanic
action in the dim past. We do not know, but here may be the gloomy caverns of
Tartarus. The moon is a symbol of the powers of evil. Possibly it actually harbors the
messengers that left their own sovereignty and their own habitation.
My efforts to find some
hint in the Scriptures as to an earthly location for Tartarus have failed. There can be no
connection with the unclean spirits in the Gergesene demoniac, for demons and messengers
are distinct, in different categories, and Tartarus was certainly not located in the
demoniac or in the hogs, and they did not want to go into the abyss. This is rather a
tempting place to locate them, for it will be the prison of Satan during the thousand
years (Rev.20:3). But there is no hint that he has companions in his dread abode. And when
the well of the abyss is opened locusts like horses came forth with human faces and
women's hair and lions' teeth, with scorpion tails. Only their king, Apollyon, is called a
messenger (Rev.9:1-11). The wild beast also ascends out of the abyss (Rev.11:7; 17:8).
There is no hint that sinning messengers are in the abyss.
Another cause of confusion
is the mistaken translation of the sixth of Genesis, as we have elsewhere shown. It speaks
not of men, but of one man. It is in the singular, and here denotes Adam. In
the fifth chapter we have an account of Adam's sons. This leads us up to the time
the ark was constructed, a hundred years before the flood. Then the narrative returns, and
we have an account of Adam's daughters in the first four verses of chapter six. We
are told of their husbands and their sons. It is important that we always distinguish the
books, rather than the chapters, into which it is divided. Chapter five begins
the book of the generations of Adam. This continues to 6:9, where the next section, the
generations of Noah, begins. In chapter six, the first four verses belong to the
generations of Adam, not to those of Noah.
The versions are evidently
lax. What sense can there be in saying of man (mankind), for that he ALSO is
flesh, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years? What others were
flesh? Translated concerning Adam, it makes some sense. But a much better reading is,
he also is in their error. That is, Adam went in the same errors as his
descendants. This whole section, up to the fifth verse, deals with Adam and his daughters,
as well as their husbands and sons.
Perhaps the strongest
cause for calling the sons of God angels lies in the fact that this phrase is not used of
men elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, while it is used of heavenly messengers. But this
is all illogical method of demonstration. It proves nothing. It merely determines
probability. If there is no decisive proof, it ought to be given weight. The further fact
that men are so called in the later Scriptures, and that Adam himself was a son of
God, according to Luke (3:38) proves that the sons of God in the sixth of Genesis may
be men. When we remember that Elohim is also used of men (Ex.4:16; 7:1; 21:6; 22:8,9),
this may mean simply that they were sons of human arbiters. There was no organized
government in those days, but there must have been men who dominated their fellows.
Indeed, the sons of these were dubbed distinguished, because they rose above
their fellows. When we remember that Elohim is plural in form, and may be in fact, we may
translate The sons of the gods (arbiters) instead of the sons of God.
CHRIST'S ASCENT AND DESCENT
taught that Christ, when He ascended up on high, led a multitude of captives with Him,
that is, He descended into the lower parts of the earth, into one compartment of hades,
where the souls of the just were temporarily confined. And, in a hazy way, this was linked
up with His so-called descent into hell to preach to spirit beings also. But
as I came to know the Scriptures better, the thought would not down, What has this to do
with Ephesians? Christ's actions are closely connected with the measure of grace given to
each one of us. The passage goes right on and names some of His gifts to the ecclesia,
apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Why introduce such utterly foreign
ideas by wherefore?
It occurred to me that the
quotation from Psalm 68:18 might account for the introduction of such incongruous matters
by my teachers. But this was no help. Instead, I found that the psalm said nothing of
captives, but rather of captivity. The only captivity suggested by the context is
that of the law, since the passage reads
Yahweh is among them on
Sinai in the holy place.
Thou dost ascend on
high. Thou dost capture captivity.
Thou dost take gifts
And, indeed, the
stubborn are for a tabernacle of Jah, God.
On Sinai the people of
Israel were brought into bondage. Through our Lord's descent and ascension they will not
only be delivered from it, but receive added gifts, which, in Paul's case particularly,
was for the rebellious also. But it was impossible to see any descent into the
infernal regions in the song of the psalmist.
The psalmist, however,
says nothing regarding the lower parts of the earth. Where are these located?
I can find no hint anywhere that Christ ever went into any subterranean region, especially
not during His death, except that His body was in a tomb about three thousand feet above
sea level certainly not a low part of the land. The myth that He left His body
behind is a sorry deception. His spirit was with the Father. His soul was in the unseen.
He was dead, before He was vivified on the sabbath morning of His resurrection.
Recently I spent several
months on the shore of lake Galilee. I lived about five hundred feet above the surface of
the lake. Still the sign board, sea level, was about two hundred feet above my
room. I was much impressed with the thought that the ministry of our Lord was largely
accomplished in a region below the level of earth's waters. Not many portions of the
earth's surface are below sea level. Death Valley and Salton Sea, in southern California,
are striking examples. I am interested in a ranch seventy-five feet below sea level in
Coachella Valley. But none of these compares with the gorge of the Jordan, and especially
the once populous shores of Galilee. Here, indeed, are the lower parts of the
earth, to which our Lord descended. How fitly it accords with His humiliation! He
was low, low physically as well as humble spiritually.
Unlike His descent to the
heights of Sinai, where His glory was a consuming fire, He came down below the common
level of mankind, in grace, not to bring them into captivity to the law, but to
deliver them from its bondage. The law demanded obedience, but grace gives gifts. His
humiliation is the basis of all the gifts we receive. In no way could His descent
into hell bring blessing to us. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and
teachers certainly do not come from there! So it seems that this passage in Ephesians is
of no help to us in considering the subject of spirit beings.
THE MYSTERY OF DEVOUTNESS
present work of grace among the nations is primarily intended for the reconciliation of
that part of the universe which is not reached through Israel. Through us they will learn
the multifarious wisdom of God (Eph.3:10). They cannot see us, but they can learn of us
through messengers. Therefore the apostle tells Timothy that the secret of devoutness, as
manifested in flesh and justified in spirit, is seen by messengers (1 Tim.3:16). This is
usually applied to Christ, but the order of the statements precludes this. He went up to
glory long before He was proclaimed among the nations. Besides, God was never manifested
in His flesh. That, we are clearly told, was a veil that hid, rather than
manifested God. In Greek the word which is spelled OC. The abbreviation for God,
usually used, is precisely the same as this except a bar across the O. This came to be
added by mistake. The whole context speaks of conduct, and this is the secret of devoutness,
not of God.
NOTE ON THE ANGEL WORLD
THERE was a time when I followed the usual grammars, and said that the
word these, toutois in Jude seven, is masculine, and therefore it
must refer to messengers and not to the cities to which the context pointed. Since then I
have worked over the whole Greek grammar by means of a card index of every form, and found
that I had to revise many of the ideas I had gained out of the Standard works on the
subject, especially as to the gender of pronouns. I found I must rename some forms
commonly called neuter or masculine, indefinite, as they were used of any gender,
including feminine. In order to make it easy for anyone to follow the grammar in Jude 6,7,
I will give the gender of the important words. Messengers is masculine or feminine. Sodom
is in the indefinite plural. Gomorrah is feminine. Cities is feminine. Them is feminine.
These is indefinite. Note that messengers does not decide the gender. It is both
masculine and feminine. The two cities differ in gender, hence these toutois is
indefinite. If it referred to messengers it should be those, as it is usually
translated and interpreted.
A. E. K.
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