Questions and Answers
WE are often asked certain questions which we invariably answer by reference to articles in the back issues of Unsearchable Riches. We find that some recurring questions have already been dealt with so satisfactorily in the magazine that we can hardly improve on what was said. The questions which come up most often are certainly on basic matters, and worthy of frequent review.
The questions come from our readers. The earlier questions were answered directly by A. E. Knoch. Later answers are selections taken from various back numbers of the magazine or in our other publications. Generally they will be from articles by Mr. Knoch, and in some cases we will edit them slightly in order to make them more directly and briefly responsive to the question. This is necessary, of course, since what was written was not originally in reply to a question.
Christ, as the Lamb was foreordained before the disruption of Gen.1:2 (1 Peter 1:20). He was slain, in God's reckoning, from this disruption (Rev.13:8). His suffering became necessary since this disruption (Heb.9:26). As the disruption (AV "foundation") marks the entrance of sin into this world or cosmos, it is clear that preparation had been made for it before it came, and the Lamb was sacrificed immediately upon its entrance, in God's reckoning.
But more than this. In Paul's letters, which describe our relation to sin, we are told that His grace was given us in Christ Jesus before eonian times. These times antedate sin, not only on earth, but also in the heavens. But grace presupposes sin.
So that God's purpose, which demanded the presence of sin, was formed first and sin was given no place until the execution of His purpose demanded its presence. In harmony with this is the promise of eonian life (Titus 1:2). This also was given us before eonian times. There was no sin before these times as there will be none after them. So that a promise of eonian life presupposes the entrance of sin. In accord with this we were selected in Christ before the disruption (Eph.1:4). Then we were holy and without blemish, for there was no sin: and thus we shall be once again.
Finally, our God has a purpose, and He is operating the universe in line with the counsel offered by that determination (Eph.1:11).
To Him sin was no unforeseen accident. It is a necessary incident. It does not thwart His purposes. It effects them. And the "Plan" of salvation, if we may be pardoned an unscriptural expression, is not a "remedy" or a repair of the ruin wrought by sin. It is no plan necessitated by sin's presence. Salvation is part of God's purpose to reveal Himself, and sin is the stage upon which alone salvation can act.
If sin had been a surprise to God, outside His primeval purpose, no "plan" of salvation or remedy would be any guarantee that such a catastrophe, or a worse one, would not overtake Him once again and all be lost at last. But if sin is but the servant of salvation, it may be dismissed when its work is no longer needed. Reconciliation first, then salvation to effect it, and then sin to stage salvation. This is God's order.
No. Reconciliation is based on justification, or, as it may be better expressed, vindication. If a person is vindicated no covering is needed. Propitiation, which in Hebrew, means a covering, was figured by the skins which clothed Adam. And in passing, it may be of interest to know that fur-lined cloaks are used to this day in the East, and are found to be most comfortable both summer and winter. The fur is worn on the inside, making an air space around the body which keeps one warm in winter and cool in hot weather. Man has not improved on God's clothing, even from a practical standpoint. Neither has he improved on God's spiritual covering.
But Adam needed no covering until he had sinned. It is only guilt which calls for propitiation. But we have far more than this. We are vindicated. If Adam had been typically reconciled he never would have been driven from Eden, but would have continued to enjoy God's presence and smile. Instead of giving an illustration of reconciliation, God hushed it up (Rom.16:25), so we must not expect to find it figured beforehand. Justification was not thus kept in silence, for Abraham was told of this blessing. This clearly shows that the first four chapters of Romans, which deal with justification, are concerned with a distinct message from that of the next four. It is true, however, that we must go back to Adam in studying the reconciliation. But the picture he presents must be inverted, as it were, in order to enlighten us on the conciliation. Adam's offense and his estrangement must be reversed in order to typify God's present grace. Even then they come short. This is fully presented in the fifth of Romans and set forth in "The Conciliation of Mankind," U. R. Vol.IV., No.3.
In Eph.3:2 we read that the present economy is in a very special way devoted to the dispensation of God's grace. Before it and in the next eon the nations will glorify God for His mercy (Rom.15:9). God's pity and mercy and grace must be distinguished. The former two occur together in Rom.9:15. "I shall be showing mercy to whomever I should be showing mercy, and I shall be pitying whoever I should be pitying." Pity is but the feeling, but mercy the active aid or succor which pity inspires. Grace includes all this but goes beyond them, in that it is favor shown to those whose desserts are quite the opposite. Pity is the part of most now: grace the portion of some, but eventually mercy will be the privilege of all. "For God locks all up together in distrust in order that He may have mercy on all."
God is love, and as such, He must always have the highest interests of all His creatures at heart. But we must not let this basic truth obliterate the secondary truth that God, in the revelation of Himself, does not always maintain this outward attitude. We may insist, and rightly so, that God's love was just as much concerned in driving Adam out of the garden as it was displayed in visiting and keeping him in Eden. But it was expressed in an entirely different way. Adam certainly knew a difference. Though he was covered with a propitiatory coat, he was not reconciled. The feeling there engendered has clung to the race ever since. Jehovah's presence in Israel only accentuated the estrangement. As Israel's God He exterminates the Canaanites. He proclaims Himself the enemy of all who dare to touch that nation. Yet even while He was Israel's God, He never was on intimate terms with them as He had been with Adam. He hid Himself and forbade their near approach from the very start. And His presence not only fails to effect any reconciliation, not only does the nation drift further and further from Him, but He Himself finally withdraws and leaves the temple tenantless.
The presence of Christ among them and the preaching of His apostles proved how superficial was the bond between Israel as a nation and Jehovah.
Even as all blessing is sourced in the death of Calvary, so, too, with reconciliation. But all blessing is not immediately bestowed. And so, too, the reconciliation waited until not only the nations but Israel, too, was entirely estranged from God. The twelve apostles preach in the land. Paul preaches to those outside the land. But Israel is obstinate.
It is evident that this transcendent favor was in God's mind from the first, for all His previous dealings with mankind were but a preparation for it. The distance was needed and the enmity, in order to afford a field for the manifestation of His favor. The crisis was planned without which the riches of His grace would never have been discovered to mankind.
But it is not until this crisis, it is not until the nations and Israel both have forfeited every claim to blessing, that the conciliation is proclaimed.
Besides, conciliation is distinct from a kindly disposition Conciliation can come only after estrangement. And God takes this attitude towards mankind at a definite crises, for it is the defection of Israel which brings in world wide conciliation (Rom.11:15).
The old English word atonement meant the same as our word reconciliation, but has now come to be a general term descriptive of the results of the death of Christ.
In the present economy justification is by faith in order that it may be by grace (Rom.4:16). Salvation, however, has many aspects. Israelites, during the tribulation, will be saved if they invoke the name of Jehovah (Rom.10:13) and endure to the end (Matt.24:13).
During the eons, however, salvation is characteristically linked with faith. When they have passed hope and faith retire, leaving love alone to abide. For hope has been fulfilled and looks forward no more. Faith too is replaced by sight. Eonian salvation is only for those who believe; post eonian salvation is for those who have not believed. This is the key to that enigmatic statement (1 Tim.4:10): "...God, Who is Saviour of all mankind, especially of those who believe." It is clear from this that He is Saviour of some who do not believe. The believer's is a special, eonian salvation.
But do not all believe at the consummation? Loosely speaking, yes, but strictly speaking, no. The scriptures are very explicit and consistent on this point. Of those who are finally saved we read that they will confess, rather than believe. In the presence of undeniable evidence faith is unnecessary. But all shall eventually confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father (Phil.9:11). We cannot insist too strongly that faith is the only way of blessing now. Yet we must not displace the truth for the present into another economy when other factors enter into salvation, and still less should we inject faith or any eonian condition into the perfection of the consummation.
6. Did Job's wife say "Curse God, and die," or "Bless God, and die," and what did she mean in either case?
Job's wife said, "Curse God, and die." The primitive Hebrew text in Job 1:5,11; 2:5,9; Psa.10:3; 1 Kings 21:10,13 had the word qalal, curse: but the Sopherim changed it to barach, bless from a false sense of reverence. But, quite apart from the Massoretic notes recording the alteration, it is evident, alike from the tenor of the narrative and force of context, that the primitive word implied delinquency. The adversary did not intimate that, if stripped of property or stricken in his person, Job would bless God to His face! He suggested that Job was likely to sin against God if severely tried. In like manner, Job feared that his children had offended against God. What ground would there have been for apprehension, or what need for sacrifice, if his sons and daughters had "blessed" God!
The counsel of Job's wife becomes full of force once we dismiss the idea (which has not the slightest foundation in fact) that Job was the son of Issachar. Nothing is clearer than that the scenes of the Book of Job are laid in the land of Edom. The three principal personages--Job, Eliphaz, Elihu--are Edomites; Bildad is probably a Moabite; Zophar an Ammonite. Thus all the characters of the book, though worshipers of the true God, belong to nations under Divine ban. Ammonites and Moabites were excluded from the congregation of Israel (Deut.23:3), and Jehovah said He would have war with Amalek (the grandson of Esau) from generation to generation (Ex.17:14,15). When this fact is borne in mind, the suggestion of Job's wife becomes both intelligible and natural. Job was a worshipper of the true God--Israel's God. His good wife was not so well grounded in the ways of God as her husband and now, after a series of crushing calamities, appalled by his plight, she says, in effect: "You have recanted the religion of your ancestors and forsaken the gods of your people for a strange God--see what you get for it! Will you still adhere to the foreign religion? Your experience proves your course to have been wrong; you have gone too far; your case is hopeless; curse God--this foreign God--and die.
No less intelligible is the sin which Job thought possible for his children. His sons and daughters, like many sons and daughters since, did not fully follow their father in things spiritual. Perhaps they cared as little for the gods of Edom as for Jehovah; but on the formal occasions of ceremonial feasting they followed the customs of the country by offering oblations to the gods of the land, and thus sinned against Jehovah. Hence, when the days of feasting were over, Job offered sacrifices according to the number of them all.
A well known writer and preacher says that the Book of Job "is enshrouded in mystery, as to authorship, as to characters presented, as to geographical location of the scenes, and as to date."
The fact is, there is no "mystery" whatever connected with either of these points.
The geographical location is "the land of Uz," concerning which Scripture offers positive information. The thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis is a record of
The generations of Esau in Canaan--vss.1-8.
The generations of Esau in Mount Seir--vss.9-14.
The chiefs of the sons of Esau--vss.15-19.
The chiefs of Seir the Horite--vss.20-30
The kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel--vss.31-43.
From this document we learn that the sons and grandsons of Esau and the sons and grandsons of Seir the Horite (the original inhabitants of Idumea) became "dukes" of Edom, "according to their habitations in the land of their possession" (Gen.36:43). The various districts of Mount Seir were named after their dukes. Thus "the land of the Temanites" (Gen.36:34) was named after duke Teman, grandson of Edom (Gen.36:15). The "land of Uz "took its name from Uz, a grandson of Seir the Horite (Gen.36:27). The weeping prophet exclaims. "Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz" (Lam.4:21). It may be difficult to determine the exact location of the land of Uz, but it is certain that it was a district in Idumea.
The foregoing is confirmed by the statement that Job was the greatest of "all the sons of the east." An examination of this title may assist us in fixing the locality of the land of Uz. Gen.29:1 declares that Jacob, after crossing the Jordan, came into the land of the sons of the East; it occurs four times in Judges, chs.6:3,33; 7:12; 8:10, and refers to the trans-Jordan Amalekite and Midianite hordes; and we meet it again in the following prophecies: In Isa.11:14, where they are associated with Edom and Ammon; in Jer.49:28, where the sons of the East are identified with Kedar, second son of Ishmael; and lastly, in Ezek.25:4-10, the Ammorites and Moabites are associated with the sons of the East. Clearly therefore, the Edomites are among the sons of the East, and we have seen that the daughter of Edom dwelt in the land of Uz. From 1 Kings 4:30 we learn that they were renowned for wisdom.
As for the character presented; Job, a dweller of the land of Uz and greatest of the sons of the East, was an Edomite; Eliphaz is a Temanite, a descendant of Teman, grandson of Esau (Gen.36:5), or native of Tema, a city of Edom (Gen.36:34; Amos 1:12); Elihu is a Buzite; Buz belongs to Edom, since it is mentioned in company with Tema and Dedan (Jer.25:23). Bildad is a Shuhite; Shua or Shoa, in Ezekiel 23:23, is associated with Koa, both belonging to tribes bordering on Chaldea; in Jer.49:8 Shua is mentioned in connection with Edom and Teman; Zophar is a Naamathite, a descendant of Naamah, a name connected with Ammon (1 Kings 14:21-31).
In the light of the foregoing facts the appendix to Job in the Septuagint, taken from the Syrian version, seems to hand down valuable information founded on fact. This subscript identifies Job with Jobab, the second of the kings of Edom (Gen.36:33); who was the great-grandson of Esau (Gen.36:13), by his wife, a native of Bozrah.
The kingly character ascribed to Job is consistent with several passages throughout the book.
Job 3:13-15. If Job had not been of princely rank he could not have claimed burial with kings and counsellors of the earth who "lie in glory, every one in his own house" (Isa.14:18).
Job 39:7. This verse pictures Job going forth to the seat of justice in the city gate, and to the seat in the broad place where business was dispatched. In the ancient times the administration of justice was a kingly function.
Job 29:9,10. His going forth to the seat of justice is marked by exhibitions of profound respect. Unless Job had been of kingly rank princes would not have refrained from speaking in his presence, nor would nobles have kept silence.
Job 29:25. Here Job actually states that he sat as chief, and dwelt as a "king" in the army.
According to the Septuagint the three friends were of rank and position equal to that of Job himself. Eliphaz is described as king of the Thaimanaeans; Bildad, as tyrant of the Sauchaeans; and Zophar, as king of the Mimaeans; Job himself being described as king of the Austiae, or Aestiae.
The words "king" and "tyrant" would only be used by the translators to convey to the Greek mind the nature of the dignity intended, and would correspond to the Arab titles "Ameer" and "Sheikh."
The Rev. F. C. Cook (Dictionary of the Bible, Art. Job) is of opinion, that the name of Jobab may have been converted into Job, in commemoration of his trial. The Septuagint imply as much in their postscript: "His name before was Jobab....Jobab, who is called Job."
The question of authorship (and the related question of date) cannot be dealt with now for lack of space.
7. A certain writer says that in the parables of Matthew 13 we have a form of the kingdom different from that contemplated in the prophets and one that is foreign to God's mind. Is this so?
We are exhorted to "keep the form of sound words" (2 Tim.1:13). The closer we abide by the expressions of Scripture the better. A great deal of current theological phraseology is misleading because it represents human ideas rather than Divine conceptions. The phrase in vogue "Kingdom in mystery" is unbiblical. Matthew speaks of the "mysteries of the kingdom." The word "mysteries" is in the plural; the mysteries, or secrets, are many. The parables do not speak of a form of the Kingdom, but of events connected with it. Scripture knows absolutely nothing about "a form of the Kingdom different from that contemplated in the prophets. "True, the parables reveal things hidden from the prophets; but while the events pictured in the parables are not found in the prophets, the events themselves belong to the Kingdom contemplated in their writings.
Of course it is improper to speak of what the parables unfolds "foreign" to the mind of God. The idea is refuted in this very chapter. It is expressly asserted that without a parable spake He nothing unto the multitudes; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world" (Matt.13:34,35). Instead of the events represented in the parables being "foreign" to God's mind, they were present to God's mind from the foundation of the world, though they remained hidden until our Lord disclosed them. The word which our versions render "foundation" means "disruption" (Vide Unsearchable Riches, Vol.1, pp.101,261). This makes the passage more forceful and trenchant, for it tells us not merely that the secrets of the Kingdom were present to His mind from the beginning, but also the weightier fact (lamentably ignored) that His purpose has been unaffected by sin. Sin is not an accident which necessitated a modification of God's purpose it is an incident provided by His purpose and an integrant part of it. Nothing "foreign" to His mind can ever take place. Nothing ever has, or can jar His purpose; every detail has been prearranged, and everything works out just as He expected. If something could take place foreign to His mind, contrary to His purpose something in which He has no hand, with which He is unable to cope--entirely independent of Him, unknown to Him, or beyond His reach--if there is an evil power that can act independent of God, spring upon Him surprises requiring alterations of plans, or introduce anything permanent in its effects, then this power is a rival God. According to orthodoxy the devil has done these very things. He acted independently of God in introducing evil, forced Him to revise His plans, and introduced sin and death which God is unable to banish. Consider for a moment the self contradictions of creedal theology. It claims that none save God has creative power, yet since it also claims that God has no connection whatever with evil, it is necessarily made entirely distinct from and independent of God, and thus the devil is invested with creative power. According to the creeds God only has life in Himself, and yet they speak of evil being in the end "shut up with itself to feed upon its own vitals in the lake of fire. "If God alone has life in Himself, where does evil get its own vitals from? Again, according to the belief in vogue, there was not a particle of evil in God's universe; in introducing it the devil "spoiled" creation; but as evil is eternal, creation is eternally spoiled, and God is forced to put up with a workmanship inferior to the one He had in mind. Redemption is said to be God's way to "restore" creation to pristine perfectness, but since sinlessness is lost beyond recovery, redemption is inadequate to the task of restoration. Evil, it is said, will retire into its own chaos, in sight of holiness reigning triumphant; and thus God who detests evil, and is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, is forced to eternally look upon a cesspool where wickedness feeds upon its own vitals! Where is the superabundance of grace? What becomes of Paul's "much more?" The contrasts of orthodox theology answer the question. Let us look at some of them. Thousands of redeemed ones, versus tens of thousands, eternally tormented in the lake of fire; a sinless primeval creation, versus an eternal state defiled by the presence of a cesspool where hideous creatures, human and angelic, exist in opposition to God; a redemption potentially embracing all, versus a redemption operative only in some. "Much more" is a mockery in the face of this
If we inquire how has it come about that theology has involved itself in such a maze of contradictions, the answer is to be sought in the discrepancy between theological theory and practice. Theoretically the creeds descant in loud-sounding terms on the "attributes" of God, while practically they deny them, making Him subject to accident, failure, limitation. Practical failure to allow the Divine attributes full play and scope has resulted in misapprehension of His work. The three great divisions of time--pre-eonian, eonian, post-eonian--which mark various stages of God's creative activity--inception, development, completion--making together one complete work, have been conceived as a finished work, a ruin, a restoration. With such mistaken view of His work it was inevitable that redemption should be degraded to the level of a "remedy" or cure--an antidote to counteract the poison of a serpent's bite.
Another cause of confusion flowing from practical failure to give God's supremacy absolute place, has been the repudiation of the doctrine of God's connection with evil. The great statement, "I Jehovah create evil" (Isa.45:7)--a statement which tells us that God is the master of evil because it is his creation, that it serves His purpose, and is under His absolute control has been whittled down to mean that earthquakes, famines, and such like physical phenomena, are punishments for sin. Having made the word of God void by exegetical inventions, theologians have undertaken the task of proving by wordy and obscure arguments how a sinless creature with not a speck of evil in all God's universe, might yet become intensely evil, and God not be in any degree responsible therefore. If we would accept the word of God all this vain talk would be silenced; for "thus saith Jehovah, I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I Jehovah do all these things.
8. It seems very puzzling to one who does not understand the original languages that nearly every interpreter--some of good standing--give a different version of the passages they are considering. Can you tell me how this is?
Apart from the undoubted human weakness of interpreters which would lead them to give a rendering to suit their interpretation rather than suit their interpretation to the best version, the difficulty lies in the lack of any standard in translation. Even when two writers come to the very same conclusion as to the sense of the original, they may not express it in the same way in English.
The object of the new version which is used in this magazine is to provide a standard. As far as possible the English rendering of each word is such as will fit every occurrence of the word. By thus rendering the word consistently throughout, the reader is furnished with the true context in every case and this context will either confirm or condemn the rendering.
It is even more important that a word be rendered consistently by the same English word, or a close synonym, than that it should be the exact equivalent of the Greek. Exact equivalents are comparatively rare, for a given Greek word generally varies from its English rendering in some shade of meaning, or coloring, or usage; not to speak of the many meanings attached to most English words. But if an English word is consistently the representation of a given Greek word, its contexts will be the same as the Greek word. Even as it is possible to define the Greek word by its contexts, so, also, it will be possible to fix the meaning of the English. And the meaning thus gathered will be more precise than the English word itself could ever convey. It will be insensibly impressed on the reader by the contexts in which it occurs. The definition thus conveyed comes to the reader as that of the spirit of God, and not that of the translator.
As the formation of this standard is in progress, there will be changes in the version, but it is hoped that, eventually, the entire Greek scriptures will be presented to the English reader in such a form that he will be practically independent of the editor of the version, and be able to test any rendering for himself.
We are very, keenly sensible of the confusion caused by the multiplicity of translations. Yet our effort is not to add to this chaos, but provide a standard by means of which any and all renderings may be brought to the bar of the divine Context.
The lake of fire is distinctly defined as the second death (Rev.20:14; 21:8). In it is cast all that is still at enmity with God. So that, death is indeed the last enemy (1 Cor.15:26).
And we are just as decidedly told that Christ is the one who abolishes death and brings life and incorruptibility to light (2 Tim.1:10). The reading "hath abolished" is not true as to fact or as to grammar. It is in the indefinite form (commonly called the aorist tense) simply recording the fact apart from time. Death has not been abolished yet.
How and when it will be abolished is told us in the fifteenth of first Corinthians. It is to be abolished by means of universal vivification (1 Cor.15:22). This takes place at the consummation (1 Cor.15:26).
It is useless to look for plain statements on this subject in parts of the Scriptures whose scope is limited to eonian truth, such as the Revelation. It is unwise to look for it anywhere but in the special portion which deals with this topic. Death and resurrection are exhaustively treated in the, fifteen chapter of first Corinthians and there it is we should look for clear statements as to the ultimate goal. There we are distinctly told that the last enemy that shall be abolished is death (which must refer to the lake of fire, for the first death cannot be the last enemy). And there we are told that it is to be done by a universal vivification rather than resurrection.
The term "resurrection" is applied to those who have afterward died again, such as those who suffer the second death. Hence there is not a resurrection, merely, from the lake of fire, but a vivification beyond which there can be no death.
The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth chapters of Daniel contain one continuous prophecy of what shall befall Daniel's people in the latter days (10:14). It is a matter of necessity to have a starting point. This is given in ver.21. The words of the angel: "I will tell thee what is inscribed in the writing of truth," imply that he had come to make clear what had already been given. When the vision of the Four Beasts is given, the interpretation vouchsafed to Daniel concludes with the significant words: "Hitherto is the end of the matter"--that is, this is as far as the interpretation went. Many points were not explained, hence Daniel was not fully satisfied, for he says: "As for me, Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me" (7:98).
The vision of the Ram and He-goat revealed other important items relative to Israel's future, but evidently there was much that Daniel was not able to put together in relation to the entire vision, for that chapter concludes with the words: "And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; then I rose up and did the King's business: and I wondered at the vision, but there was none to make it understood." Accordingly in ch.10:12 we find that Daniel "set his heart to understand," seeking Divine illumination with prayer and fasting. Coincidences between this prophecy and those of chs.7 and 8 lead us to the conclusion that the "writing of truth" is the record of the former visions, and the purpose of this unfolding is to amplify the former visions in a way that would enable the prophet to get a full view of the things leading up to, and consummating, the times of Gentile supremacy.
11. What Scripture is there which teaches that Adam's death passed beyond the dominion committed to him?
It is written, "For since, in truth, death is through mankind, through mankind, also, is the resurrection of the dead." The connective employed dia is important. It is used in English compounds, such as diameter. It is in contrast with ek, out of, which would have described mankind as the source of death. As it is, dia, through, makes mankind the channel of death.
Note, too, it is not Adam who is the channel of death here, not yet aner, "man" as distinct from woman gune, but anthroopos, humanity, mankind. But if humanity channels death it must needs bring it to others. That this is true we have ample evidence on every hand in the brute creation. They die. Why? What have they done? Nothing. Their death comes to them through humanity. This is in line with what is said of all the creation in the eighth of Romans.
But our question would specially limit the conveyance of death to Adam's dominion. We know of no Scripture which thus limits this general statement. Death, wherever it is, must flow through mankind. Is it not better to believe this statement in all its exactitude than to modify it by our own unbelief? Of course many things are absolutely impossible--for us, but not for God. But there are examples of death in the higher spheres of creation. The most illustrious is the case of the One who, though a Man Himself, yet died as the Son of God. And need we insist that His death was indeed through mankind?
The eighty-second Psalm merits an extended exposition in this connection. But we need only focus our attention on verse seven. "Ye shall die like mankind." The word for "men" here is the equivalent of the Greek word which we have translated "mankind." Now, just as death through mankind shows that it reaches others, so death like mankind shows that those here spoken of are not members of the human race. This is evident from the psalm itself, which also sets forth the cause of their sentence. It was dealt out for misrule of mankind. So here we have a concrete example of the statement that death does indeed channel through mankind to other creatures of a higher rank.
12. Why do you assume that one age, and only one, must be considered as covering the period from the Flood to the Day of the Lord?
We once "assumed" that the present age ended with the coming of Christ for His body, because we read of the "church age" or the "gospel age" in the writing of gifted and godly men who were endeavoring to set forth the truth of the church as distinct from Israel. But when we studied the word which the Holy Spirit uses (which we called eon for the clearness' sake), we had to drop this assumption. "This eon," spoken by our Lord, clearly refers to a time when "the church age" has passed. Besides this, "that eon," (Luke 20:35) is preceded by the resurrection of Israel. We cannot convince ourselves that this is a mere "assumption," for it is founded upon no human authority that we know of, and was and is founded only upon the inspired word itself.
Likewise as to the beginning of this eon. We "assumed" it started at the cross, at Pentecost, etc. But where is the scriptural evidence for these "assumptions?" Why, the Lord's own words concerning the end of this eon show clearly that none of these events could possibly usher in another eon. This eon must commence prior to His ministry.
Luke 1:70 speaks of "His holy prophets, who have been from the eon" [since the world began AV]. The same expression occurs in Acts 3:21 and 15:18. All of these carry us back, long before the days of our Lord, at least as far as Abraham (Gen.20:7).
From the additional light gathered from its association with kosmos world, we gather the further truth that, as a new world began at the flood, so also there was a new eon inaugurated there. Still further study into the significance of the terms world and eon confirm this position, for the introduction of the new element of human government was in itself a most marked change in the constitution of human affairs--more marked than any change since then--till government comes to its climax in the Man of Sin and is deposited in the hands of Christ Himself.
In conclusion let us ask a question. What Scripture is there which contradicts this position? If not at the flood, then when did the present eon commence?
13. If we, being complete in Christ, appear guiltless before God and no act on our part can separate us from that love, what incentive is there to induce one to resist the temptations of immorality?
This question always arises upon the reception of the conciliation. Indeed, immediately after the apostle sets forth this transcendent truth in the fifth of Romans, he asks and answers two questions, which put the same difficulty before us.
The first (Rom.6:1) is: "Shall we persist in sin that grace may increase?" The second (v.15) is: "May we sin, seeing that we are not under law but under grace?" The first question is answered by setting forth the truth of our death with Christ and our life toward God. It ends with the significant statement that "Sin shall not master you, for you are not under law, but under grace." "Thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" has been tried, but law has utterly failed to emancipate man from Sin. On the contrary, law brings bondage to Sin. But grace gives perfect liberty. Yet liberty is not license. It is true that, if we persist in sin, grace will increase. But it is also true that grace wooes with far more effect than the fear of the law's penalties. To please God is a much more potent incentive for those who know Him than all the thunders of Sinai. It was fitting, and in accord with His purpose, that we should sin while estranged and enemies, for this provided for a display of His favor, but now that we know Him, no such fitness exists, and sin would reflect upon His character. To persist in sin, while inviting more grace, is contrary to the tendency and teaching of that grace.
But then, without persisting in sin, may we sin, seeing we are not under law but under grace? Here again the fact that sin cannot but call for grace is not denied. It would be an immense relief to many of God's dear saints if they could only realize this emancipating truth. But they are afraid that it will lead to looseness and sin. On the contrary, a true appreciation of the grace by which we are established, of liberty from the law, will give a joyous power over sin which the law never could impart.
Grace liberates. Yet if we should voluntarily slave for Sin we should become, in practice at least, that which we once were, of which we are now ashamed. We should act as Sin's slaves when we are God's slaves. The rations of Sin are death and distance from God--which we cannot bear. We might be tempted to think that God gives eonian life as wages to those who serve Him. Not so. It is given to us as a free gift, altogether apart from our conduct. But does not this very fact, coupled with all His favors in the past and present, appeal to us most potently so that we voluntarily leave the service of Sin for the service of God?
Our morality, or lack of it, does not affect our relationship with God. Grace knows no barriers whatever, either in our past, present, or future. On the other hand, however, our morals should be and are far more tractable in the liberty of grace than under the lash of the law.
14. In Isaiah 41:23 God claims exclusive power to forecast future events. HOW is it then that some predictions made by men (such as clairvoyants) have come to pass?
Isaiah 44:7; 45:21; 46:10 are in line with the passage in chapter 41:23. It is important to note that the point of Jehovah's challenge is not (as generally interpreted) the power to predict future events. Shew us things for to come is regularly combined with declare ye the former things, and what Jehovah claims for Himself is the ordering of the entire course of history. This view, which is fully borne out by the statement (in 44:7), "And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people?" and the other passages given above makes the declaration of Jehovah one of singular grandeur and force. On the presumption that Jehovah claims for Himself power to predict, what is to be made of the companion claim Declare ye the former things?
Mankind has been slowly learning the thought of "law" or invariable sequence in nature and human events. Such law seems to imply power of foreseeing the future when the laws of things have been traced. It goes without saying that in God's providence there is an element of the incalculable, sufficient to defeat man's effort to foresee everything, nevertheless, from what is known of law it is possible to foresee certain things with a tolerable degree of probability, Human predictions that have come true are due to this natural cause, not to speak of the working of "seducing spirits and working of demons" mentioned 1 Tim.4:1-3.
The reading "kiss the son" is a Massoretic misapprehension stereotyped upon the text. The first words of v.12, as pointed in the Massoretic text, are nashku-bar--"Kiss the son." That this is a faulty vocalization is clear from the following considerations:
(1) The word bar is not Hebrew, but Chaldee: it never occurs in the Psalter nor anywhere in Scripture, except the Chaldee portions of Daniel and Ezra.
(2) In v.7 of the Psalm we find the regular Hebrew word for "son" (ben).
(3) Had "kiss the son" been meant, an article would have been prefixed to the substantive.
(4) The absence of this mark, of emphasis indicates that here we have an abstract substantive, which should be vocalized to read bor--purity, as in 2 Sam.22:21:25; Job 9:30,22:30; Psa.18:20,24; Isa.1:25.
(5) This reading has the support of ancient authorities. Aquila and Symmachus read the unpointed Hebrew nashku-bor, for they translated "worship in purity." The Septuagint rendering, though rather paraphrastic--"accept correction"--agrees with them.
(6) The rendering "worship in purity" is demanded by the Psalm itself. The Psalm is in three parts. In the first part (vss.1-6) the Psalmist speaks about the attitude of the kings and rulers of the heathen towards the All-Ruler and His Anointed, and the All-Ruler's attitude towards them. Since the Psalmist speaks about the nations and Jehovah, he speaks in the third person. (vss.3 and 6 are in the first person because they reproduce the very words spoken by others).
In the second part (vss.7-9) the Anointed King is the speaker. The opening note of his address (in the first person, v.7a) announces as the theme of his speech the decree of royal investiture. The decree is read verbatim: it is in the second person as recording the words actually spoken to the Son by Jehovah.
In the third part of the Psalm (vss.10-12) the Psalmist, with the foregoing facts in mind, turns to speak to kings and princes of another class. Whereas the kings and rulers of vss.1,2 were heathen who know not God and act against Him, the kings and rulers he is speaking to now are professed worshippers of Jehovah lacking in fidelity. They are called upon to "worship in purity," for when God breaks out in judgment against the heathen the "sinners in Zion" shall not escape.
The verb nashak, to kiss, is associated with acts of heathen worship in 1 Kings 19:18 and Hosea 13:2. In fact, these two passages enable us to perceive the force of the Psalmist's appeal. The princelings and rulers of Judah had taken part in the impure rights of idolatry. In these circumstances, amendment of life is demanded, in terms that denounced a terrible penalty in case of continued duplicity.
It may be of interest to note that the Greek word for worship, proskuneoo, also means "to [throw a] kiss towards."
You, like many others, read into this psalm exilic sentiments, through misapprehension.
The "captivity" of a city, in the Hebrew idiom, does not necessarily imply deportation; the "captivity" of a people, in fact, is at times predicated of misfortune and disaster endured in their home and fatherland.
The phrase sub sibaut (in this place appearing as sub sehybt) does not in an exclusive sense mean "to bring captives back from exile; its simple significance is "to restore to a former state." The words are applied, not only to peoples and nations, but even to individuals who had been overtaken by great affliction and trial but never went into exile, as in the case of Job (Job 42:10); also to a land whose restoration to a former state of prosperity was alone implied in the reference (Jer.33:11). As appearing in Ezek.16:53, the phrase is explained (in v.55) to mean "their former state." When used to describe return from exile, the phrase is frequently supported by qualifying phrases intended to make the meaning definite and plain. "The Lord will turn thy captivity...and gather thee from all the people" (Deut.30.3; Jer.29:14). "I will bring again the captivity...and cause to return into the land" (Ezek.29:14; Jer.30:3). "At that time will I bring you in and gather you: when I bring again your captivity" (Zeph.3:20).
The view point of Psa.126 is Zion itself: it celebrates a deliverance that gave joy to Zion, and caused surprise among the nations.
The R. V. reads: "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching..." The rendering also is manifestly defective. Who does not know that what God has inspired is profitable?
The Greek text is as follows: pasa graphe theophneustos kai ophelimos, viz., "every divinely inspired Scripture is profitable." The verb is is absent in the Greek text. Such omissions are frequent in the Greek Scriptures. How is the omission to be supplied? The verb must be supplied to join the subject and the predicate so that the passage with the supplied omission would read: Pasa qraphe theophneustos ESTIN kai ophelimos ESTIN--every scripture divinely inspired IS, and profitable IS. The phrase "every scripture" is correct, and refers to the various parts of the Sacred Writings referred to collectively in the preceding verse.
That the translation of kai by "also" is unwarranted, is proved by other passages having the same construction. We will instance two of them. 1 Tim.4:4 is identical with 1 Tim.3:16 in its construction; there is no verb in the original text, but the revisers have rightly supplied it: "Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected." Why have not the Revisers rendered it like 2 Tim.3:16? Because they shrank from lapsing into the ridiculous by making Scripture read that "Every creature of God, if good, is also not to be rejected."
But there is another identical passage: "But all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Heb.4:13). Here also the copula and the verb "are" are wanting in the text but the revisers have supplied the verb at the right place. Why did they not translate it like 2 Tim.3:16? Because they did not wish to appear ridiculous saying: "All things, naked, are ALSO open...." viz., some things are not naked and open in the sight of God.
Thus the revisers themselves have refuted their rendering of 2 Tim.3:16.
The word "parousia" is made up of two Greek words, "beside" and "being." Hence it means a "being beside" or "presence." It must be carefully distinguished from three other words which are also translated "coming." These are apokalupsis revelation (1 Cor.1:7), eisodos entrance (Acts 13:24) and eleusis advent (Acts 7:51). Parousia presence has no reference to the act of coming, but rather to the state of being present. Neither is it the designation of a particular event, but is used of the presence of Stephanas (1 Cor.16:17), of Titus (2 Cor.7:6,7), of Paul (2 Cor.10:10; Phil.1:26; 2:12). In the last instance it is contrasted with "absence." These "parousias" occurred in the past.
In the future it is applied to the presence of the Lord, which is our expectation, in the epistle to the Thessalonians (1 Thess.2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess.2:1). This will transpire before the tribulation (2 Thess.2:1,2). It is applied to the Lawless One who will be present in the midst of the great tribulation (2 Thess.2:9). It is often applied to His presence for His people Israel after the tribulation (Matt.24:3,27,37,39; James 5:7; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28). So that it is not confined to any particular aspect of the Lord's coming, but rather to the fact of His presence in the air and on the earth at the end of this eon and the beginning of the next. Then it is that all who are in Christ will be made alive (1 Cor.15:23).
Those belonging to His body will be made alive at His presence in the air, the sleeping saints of Israel at His presence on the earth. It is all His presence.
It is also used of the day of God--the eon beyond the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12). It is clear, then, that parousia is not the proper name of an event, but a common noun, and refers to the presence of some one, either in the past or in the dim distant future. When used of the Lord it includes the entire scope of His advent, whether to the ecclesia which is His body or that which is His bride.
19. If the Devil is to be destroyed, and the destroyed Devil is to be restored--then nothing seems to prevent the conclusion that death may be restored--and so the whole trouble commences all over again.
This difficulty is founded upon two misconceptions due to a faulty version. The title "devil" is used as a proper name and the word "destroy" is more accurately rendered discard or abolish. We will consider each in turn.
Of the nine words rendered "destroy" in the A. V. apollumi has by far the best right to be so translated, in the active voice (Luke 17:27).
Diaphtheiroo refers rather to decay (1 Cor.4:16). Kathaireoo means pull down. Kataluoo denotes demolish (Matt.27:40). Luoo means to loose (Matt.16:19). Portheoo is ravage (Gal.1:13). Phtheiroo carries the thought of corruption (1 Cor.15:33). We give this list to show how difficult it is to get clear thoughts on this subject from the version we are accustomed to. Katargeoo, however, which is the word our question refers to as destroy, is composed of two parts, one of which is the ordinary word for work, the other meaning against. It conveys the thought of rendering inoperative, "putting out of commission" in popular phraseology. This is clearly seen in its first occurrence (Luke 13:7)--"Why cumbereth it the ground?" The fig tree was not only fruitless, but it hindered the ground from bearing any other crop. From this came the derived meanings of discard or abolish or repeal or exempt. We are exempt from the law (Rom.7:6 "delivered"). The decrees are repealed (Eph.2:15 "abolished"). We discard childish things (1 Cor.13:11). We do not destroy them. So we would rather restate the question. If the "devil" or slanderer is to be discarded, how can he be restored without involving the possibilities of the re-instatement of the death state after it has been discarded?
"The devil" is not the proper name of a person. It is an appellation. It may refer to the being who is otherwise known as Satan, or it may be used of Judas (John 6:70), or of the men of the last days (2 Tim.3:3 "false accusers") or even the aged women (Titus 2:2) or even the wives of the "deacons" (1 Tim.3:11). In the last passage it is translated "slanderer," which is its true meaning.
Now, when God is All in all, there will be no slanderer there to mar its bliss. Neither will there be any sinners there to spoil our happiness. Sinners are not restored, neither is the slanderer. But, we who were sinners, will be there, and he who was the slanderer will also fulfill the word which God has decreed. Our bodies of sin will be discarded, never to be restored, yet we will not lack bodies in which to glorify His grace.
We have tried to be careful not to say that "the Devil" or "Satan" will be "restored." God does not thus speak. Restoration is far from reaching to the height of his purpose. He will reconcile all--not as sinners, or as slanderers--but as justified and glorified.
There is. It is confined, however, to those who know Him as their Father and will not become universal until the Kingdom of the Son of God is handed over to Him at the consummation. The Kingdom of the Son of Man has its place in the coming eon, the Son of God rules in the "eon of the eon" (Heb.1:8), which follows it. The Kingdom of the Father follows these last two eons. But, while this is so, it must not be inferred from this that the reign of each is absolutely confined to the times. The Kingdom of the Son is a present spiritual reality so far as we, who believe, are concerned (Col.1:13). The Kingdom of the Father is likewise present in the day of Jehovah, even as He taught them to pray: "Our Father...Thy Kingdom come" (Matt.6:10,13; Luke 11:2). But it is always either their Father's Kingdom (Matt.13:43) or His Father's Kingdom (Matt.26:29)--not a universal sovereignty like that of the Son of Man. "The Fatherhood of God" is a truth to be realized at the consummation. In the meanwhile it is like so many other misplaced truths--error of the most dangerous kind.
21. Should not 1 Cor.15:24 be punctuated as follows (with a period after consummation) and the clauses introduced by "whenever" be referred to "then" of verse twenty-eight?
"a firstfruits, Christ, next they that are Christ's at His parousia, next the telos (resurrection). Whenever He shall deliver... then shall also the Son be subordinate to the One subordinating all things, in order that God may be All in all."
The punctuation of any translation is merely a concession to the weakness of the modern mind. It has no place in the inspired original. Yet the translator should not follow his own judgment merely, but be able to give a reason for His pointing. We will now show why we have used a dash (see All in all, page 62) where it is proposed to put a period. A parallel passage, where both "thereafter" and "whenever" are used in the same logical relation as in this passage occurs in Mark 4:28,29:
"...first a blade, thereafter a spike, thereafter full wheat in the spike. Now, whenever the fruit should be given up..."
In both passages we have a list of three things, the last being introduced by "thereafter." In both the following statement begins with "whenever." The only difference we are interested in is the fact that "now" a disjunctive, separates the two statements in Mark, but not in Corinthians.
The important question for us to settle is this: Is there any logical relation between the "full wheat" and the harvesting? They are in different sentences separated by a period, yet the logical sequence is too obvious to miss. The harvesting does not follow the blade or the spike, but the full wheat, and when this is ripe, the sickle is put to work. The little word "now" tells us that the harvest does not immediately follow the filled out grain, but when it is ready to fall. But in Corinthians there is no such disjunctive. The relation between the "Consummation" and the "handing over of the Kingdom" is closer than that between the full wheat and the harvest.
But the handing over of the kingdom is only one member of a lengthy explanation which has its own symmetrical structure (see page 52, All in all). This connects the handing over of the kingdom with the subordination of the Son. Now the point and pivot of the explanation lies in its central member, the fact that death is to be abolished. The abolition of death is the equivalent of the vivification of all. It is the explanation of how and when all in Christ shall be made alive. So that the whole explanation is very closely related to the previous statement that, in Christ, all shall be made alive. Hence, as the explanatory clauses are not separated from telos by a disjunctive as in Mark, they should not receive a period, but rather a point such as will indicate the fact that they are explanatory of the preceding statement. The dash performs this office in English. In reality all that follows up to verse twenty-nine is one connected sentence. But such long sentences are very hard for the English reader to grasp. All of Eph.1:3-14 is one sentence, but our weak minds are not able to carry such a connected chain. We are forced to stop at times for breath. So that the logical relation between the various parts of any passage should engage our attention rather than the pointing, which, at best, must condescend to English infirmity and usage.
The Kingdom is delivered up or handed over to God the Father in order that He may become All in all. So long as God delegates government to anyone--even His Son--so long is the purpose of the eons unfulfilled. It is the office of the Son to reveal the Father, and when this is accomplished, He, as an Intermediary between God and His creatures, withdraws in order that they all may find their All in Him.
Volume IV., page 188, explains our position on this point. Concerning verses 54 and 55, we say: "This was the shout at the resurrection of the great Firstfruits; this will be our challenge at our own awakening; but this will be finally fulfilled at the consummation."
Scripture is very explicit in its distinction between that which "Comes to pass" and that which is "fulfilled." Now we have taught, and will enlarge upon it in the future, that the mystery of the resurrection, as taught in verses 51 and 52, are our imminent expectation, not a far off resurrection at some future time. This does not hinder us from applying the quotation from Hosea, nor from noting that it is not said to be fulfilled, but that the fulfillment will take place at the consummation as is indicated by the holy Spirit's changing "hades" of the LXX to "death" so to conform it to the facts as they are at the consummation.
24. In a certain edition of the Bible a third speech is assigned to Zophar. Is this right? What grounds are there for this?
Since you do not state what edition of the Bible you refer to, I am unable to express an opinion about the views advocated.
With respect to Job, chapters 26-28, I have been led to the conclusion that vss.2-4 of chapters 26 should be transferred to the commencement of chapter 27, and that chapter 2:7-28:28 is a speech of Zophar. Thus a corresponding change is supposed in the heading of the speeches.
"Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said"
"Then Job answered and said"
--Chapters 23 and 24.
"Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said"
--Chapters 25 and 26:5-14.
"Then Job answered and said"
--Chapters 26:2-4 and 27:2-6
"Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said"
--Chapter 27:7 to end of chapter 28.
"Then Job took up his parable and said"
The grounds on which this rearrangement rest are as follows:
1. All critics recognize the difficulty in the division between the three speakers in the third round of speeches as it appears in A. V. and R.V., which has the effect of making Job take up a position at variance with his former contention and with his subsequent words.
2. The most marked feature of literary style in the book is its extreme parallelism; this makes it highly improbable that the third colloquy should be imperfect, by the omission of a speech from Zophar, and a reply to him from Job.
3. The sentiments in chapters 27:7-28:28 agree exactly with what Zophar had been maintaining throughout the debate. In the beginning of his third speech (27:13), he uses the very words which concluded his second address (20:29). It is impossible that Job could thus side with the friends without any indication that his views had changed.
4. If chapters 27:7-28:28 is attributed to Job, then his friends had convinced him; which was the very thing Elihu declared they had failed to do.
5. Zophar makes the climax or peroration of the friend's case. Job had stoutly maintained to the very end the position taken up in the curse:
"My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go:
My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live."
Accordingly, Zophar opens his third address by formally classing Job with evil doers:
"Let mine enemy be as the wicked,
And let him that riseth up against me be
as the unrighteous."
As a confirmation that Zophar is summing up the case for the friends, I may instance his words (27:12): Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it, why then are ye become altogether vain? The materials for the debate are evidently becoming exhausted, and Job is more immovable than ever. Zophar has said, I will teach you, and then turns to include his colleagues in his views: Ye yourselves have seen it; why then, he asks, are ye become altogether vain? that is, why are your united attestations to go for nothing with Job? The present arrangement of the speeches, by which all this falls on Job, creates an incongruity.
25. I have been told that Job 36:14 should read "among the holy." Both A. V. and R. V. read "among the unclean." Which rendering is right?
The rendering of our versions is certainly correct. The substantive qadesh, in both its masculine and feminine forms, is sometimes used in a bad sense.
The masculine form qadesh is rendered by our versions sodomite (Deut.23.17; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 26:46; 2 Kings 23:7), and unclean, with the marginal alternative sodomites, in Job 36:14.
The feminine form qedeshah is rendered harlot (Gen.38:21,22; Hosea 4:14), and whore, with the marginal alternative sodomites, in Deut.23.17.
That in the foregoing passages the word carries an evil sense is proved by the context in each case. Pederasty and prostitution played a prominent part in the religious ceremonies of ancient paganism. Each temple had its staff of "holy ones"--religious sodomites and prostitutes--who supported the temple service by immoral practices. Passages like Gen.38:21; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7, and Hosea 4:14 show that those detestable heathen practices, so unsparingly condemned by Jehovah's law, had made inroads in both Israel and Judah.
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