Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance
by E.W. Bullinger
There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number. In all languages it is the symbol of unity. As a cardinal number it denotes unity; as an ordinal it denotes primacy. Unity being indivisible, and not made up of other numbers, is therefore independent of all others, and is the source of all others. So with the Deity. The great First Cause is independent of all. All stand in need of Him, and He needs no assistance from any.
"One" excludes all difference, for there is no second with which it can either harmonise or conflict.
When it is written: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD thy God is one LORD," it it excludes absolutely another Lord: it excludes, therefore, all idolatry.
Hence the First Commandment declares "Thou shalt have NO OTHER GODS" (Exo 20:3).
It asserts that there is in God a sufficiency which needs no other; and an independence which admits no other.
It marks the beginning. We must begin with God. All our words and works must be characterised by the first words of the Bible: "In the beginning GOD." Nothing is right that does not begin with Him. "God first" is the voice of Scripture. "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33) is the testimony of Christ. "God first" is the great proclamation. The angels sang: "Glory to God in the highest." This was the beginning of their song. And it was after this that they sang of "good-will" towards man. This, too, must be the great principle governing all our testimony and our work. We cannot give "glory to God" without doing good to men. And there is no real good-will for men which does not spring from a desire to glorify God. The rapid declension, which is the great mark of these last days, comes from an ignoring of this great principle. God is shut out, and man is exalted. Hence "the gospel of God" (Rom 1:16) is being rapidly and almost universally superseded by the gospel of man, which is a gospel of sanitation, and indeed is now openly called "Christian Socialism." But it is a socialism without Christ. It does not begin with the glory of God, and it will not and cannot end in any real good to man. It begins with man; its object is to improve the old nature apart from God, and to reform the flesh; and the measure of its success is the measure in which man can become "good" without "God."
Man's ways and thoughts are the opposite of God's. God says, "Seek first." Man says, "Take care of number one." He is in his own eyes this "number one," and his great aim is to be independent of God.
Independence, in God, is His glory. Independence in man, is his sin, and rebellion, and shame.
In the Word of God, therefore, God is first, and before all.
Thus Jehovah emphasises this great foundation truth. All must be confusion where man refuses to recognise it. All must be peace where it is owned."Thus saith the LORD, the King of Israel,
And his redeemer the LORD of hosts:
I am the first, and I am the last;
And beside Me there is no God." (Isa 44:6)
"Hearken unto Me, O Jacob, and Israel My called;
I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.
Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand hath spanned the heavens." (Isa 48:12,13)
"Before Me there was no God formed,
Neither shall there be after Me.
I, even, I, am the LORD;
And beside Me there is no Saviour." (Isa 43:10,11)
"I am Alpha and Omega,
The first and the last." (Rev 1:11,17, 2:8, 22:13)
The first is the only one. There cannot be two firsts (or three as the Trinity would suppose - Ed). Man ignorantly speaks of the "two first," or the "three first," when he really means the first two, or the first three, etc. The Word of God does not thus ignorantly speak. He is the only one. He is first in priority of time. He is first in superiority of rank, and He is first in absolute supremacy.
Redemption and salvation began with God. His was the Word which first revealed it (Gen 3:15). His was the will which first purposed it (Heb 10:7). His was the power that alone accomplished it. Hence "Salvation is of the LORD" (see Exo 14:13; 2 Chron 20:17; Jonah 2:9; etc.). His is the will from which it all proceeds. "Lo, I come to do Thy will," said the Redeemer (Psa 40:7,8; Heb 10:7) when He came to do that "will."
THE FIRST RECORDED WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS ARE FULL OF SIGNIFICANCE.
Here is another illustration of the significance of number in Scripture. The Lord Jesus must have spoken from the time that all children spoke; but not one syllable that He uttered has the Holy Spirit been pleased to record in the Scriptures, until He was twelve years of age. And then only this one utterance from His birth till He entered on His ministry at His baptism. Only one sentence out of all those twenty-nine years. Surely words thus singled out by the Holy Spirit must be full of significance. What were they? They are written down for us in Luke 2:49: "WIST YE NOT THAT I MUST BE ABOUT MY FATHER'S BUSINESS?" Solemn words! Significant words! Especially in the light these first words throw up His last words, "IT IS FINISHED." What was finished? "The Father's business." Yes, it was the Father's will. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O My God." "This is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:39). Salvation was no afterthought with God. It was part of his "eternal purpose." It originated in His "will." It was not merely for the good of man, but for the glory of God in a thousand ways which we see not now or yet. Hence it is that when Jesus was delivering up His work back into the Father's hands, He could say: "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (John 17:4).
We may find another illustration of the significance of the number "one" or "first" in noticing:
THE FIRST MINISTERIAL WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS
At His baptism (Matt 3:13-17) He was anointed for His ministry, and immediately after we read: "THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil." For forty days He fasted and was tempted. Not a word that escaped His lips during those forty days is written down. But the very first recorded words of his ministry are: "It is written." Three times over: "It is written"; "It is written"' "It is written."
His official ministry closed with His High-Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17, for at its close He went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to His betrayal, and within a few hours His death. In those last words of His ministry there is the same threefold reference to the Word of God: 5:17, "Thy Word is truth"; v. 14, "I have given them Thy Word"; and v. 8, "I have given unto them the Words which Thou gavest Me."
What does this fact say to us? If we have ears to hear, it says The beginning and end of all ministry is the Word of God. Yea, it is the whole sum and substance of ministerial testimony. The Lord thus exalted the Word of God, and by the significance of His first ministerial words He impresses upon us this great lesson.
THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE ALSO AFFORDS US ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION.
In Genesis we see Divine sovereignty and supremacy. Sovereignty in Creation, in giving life, and in sustaining life.
The name by which God specially revealed Himself to the Patriarchs, He says (Exo 6:3), was El-Shaddai (God Almighty). This Title occurs:
In Genesis 6 times = 9 (32) Rest of Pentateuch 3 times
nine times in all; the square of three, the number of Divine perfection.
The first occurrence of the name "Almighty" is also full of instruction, but we shall consider it under the number "five."
All through this first Book we see this Divine supremacy and sovereignty—sovereignty of will in election and calling: calling Abram and no other (Acts 7:2); choosing Isaac and not Ishmael (Gen 17:18-21); Jacob and not Esau (ibid. 25:23, etc.); Ephraim and not Manasseh (ibid. 48:19; Heb 11:21).
This first book is the one book. It contains all the other books in embryo, and has been well called "the seed plot of the Bible." Its Divine title is "THE BEGINNING," i.e., the first: "In the beginning God," i.e., God first. Here is the beginning of life, the beginning of prophecy (Gen 3:15). The woman's seed foretold, and the beginning of the enmity between her seed and the seed of the serpent.
The covenant made with Abraham (Gen 15) was unconditional, because there was only one contracting party. The Law had a mediator, therefore there were two parties to that covenant. "But a mediator is not of one [ contracting party*], but God is one" (Gal 3:20). God alone made this covenant, hence it is called "the covenant of PROMISE."
* The ellipsis is wrongly supplied in Gal 3:20. It is not the word mediator which is to be repeated, but the contracting party from v. 19.
Then we have the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow, foreshown in Joseph. Christ's death as a substitute is foreshown in Isaac's ram. "The way of Cain" and the way of God are seen in Cain's fruits and Abel's lamb, showing the true and only ground of access to and worship of God.
Thus in the forefront of revelation we are shown that man cannot be saved by works, but by grace alone. The foundation of all truth is here. Gospel truth shines brightly here. All is in one book, and that the first.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
"This is the first and great commandment," Matthew 22:37, 38, or in Mark 12:29, 30, "Hear, O Israel; the LORD our God is one LORD: thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."
The reference is to Deuteronomy 6:4. This is "first" in order, first in time, and first in importance. This is therefore the "greatest" in necessity, in extent, and in nature. The first in the Law, and the greatest in the Law, and hence it was one of the four passages written on the phylacteries of the Jews.
The Hebrew words may be variously rendered, but the quotation of the Lord Jesus, written by the Holy Spirit in the Gospels, fixes the meaning of the words. In the Hebrew the order is, "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Elohim, Jehovah One." The Jews repeat it to-day thus, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One," and the whole congregation repeat the word "One" for several minutes.*
* As "Elohim" is plural we might with much more reason repeat "Elohenu" for several minutes!
If the Lord had not supplied the verb which fixes the meaning, we might well have read it as the Jews do, for this fixes (unconsciously to them) the doctrine of the Trinity. For the three Persons are named, and then it is declared that they are one: "The Lord, our God, The Lord, is one," i.e., the three offices, Father, Son, and Spirit, are one Person (-Ed).
But there is a further peculiarity in this passage. In all the MSS and printed texts the last letters of the first and last words are always written and printed majuscular, i.e., larger than the others; thus:
"ShemA Israel, Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah, EchaD."
In the Hebrew the first of these two larger letters is ) (ayin), and the second is d (daleth). Rabbi Bochin has this remark, "It is possible to confess one God with the mouth, although the heart is far from Him. For this reason ) and d are majuscula, from which, with tsere subscribed d, 'a witness,' is formed, that every one may know, when he professes the unity of God, that his heart ought to be engaged and free from every other thought, because God is a witness and knows all things" (J. H. Mich., Bibl. Hebr.). What may be the true reason, however, for these two letters being larger, we do not know. The real sense of the words, according to their meaning, is, Hear, O Israel, Jehovah (the ever-existing One) our Elohim (the sum of all deity - Ed), Jehovah "is one".
What is here predicated of Jehovah is not the unity of God at all, but that it is to Him that the name Jehovah rightfully belongs, that He is the one and only God, and that there can be no other. It is equally opposed to all forms of Theism and Deism, which are the creations of man's ideas, as well as to polytheism on the one hand, and national or local deities on the other. The whole statement has regard to revelation. Israel alone could say, Jehovah is "our God," because He had made Himself known—"His ways unto Moses, and His acts to the children of Israel" (Psa 103:7).
With this agrees the choice of the word Echad, which is used for "one." In the Hebrew there are two words in use for the number "one." dxaf)e (Echad), "one," unus; and dyxiyaf (Yacheed), "an only one," unicus.
The latter, Yacheed (dyxiyaf), means absolute unity, or uniqueness, an only one. It occurs only twelve times in the Old Testament (3x22), viz:
Rest of Old Testament 9 (32).
- Genesis 22:2, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac."
- Genesis 22:12 and 16, "Hast not withheld thy son, thine only son."
- Judges 11:34, "She was his only child."
- Psalm 22:20, "Deliver...my darling" (marg. only one).
- Psalm 25:16, "I am desolate and afflicted."
- Psalm 35:17, "Rescue...my darling (marg. only one) from the lions."
- Psalm 68:6, "God setteth the solitary in families."
- Proverbs 4:3, "I was...tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother."
- Jeremiah 6:26, "Mourning as for an only son."
- Amos 8:10, "I will make it as the mourning of an only son."
- Zechariah 12:10, "As one that mourneth for his only son."
These are all the occurrences of the word Yacheed, and here therefore we see the meaning of the word. But this is not the word which is used in Deuteronomy 6:4, and it is never used of Jehovah. It is used of the Lord Jesus as the only begotten Son; but never of Jehovah—the self-existant One (- Ed).
But dxaf)e (Echad) is so used because it does not mean absolute unity, but a compound unity. Always one of others which make up the one. Its first occurrence is:—
- Genesis 1:5, "The first day" (of seven).
- Genesis 2:11, "The name of the first is Pison" (i.e. one of four).
- Genesis 2:21, "He took one of his ribs."
- Genesis 2:24, "They two shall be one flesh."
Hence when it is used twice, the word being repeated, "one, one," it is translated both one and the other; but it is always one where there are others. (Hence sometimes each, as in Num 7:85).
- Genesis 49:16, "As one of the (twelve) tribes of Israel."
- Numbers 13:23, "A branch with one cluster of (many) grapes."
We even have the plural Echadim (like Elohim), ones. In speaking of the two sticks representing the houses of Israel and Judah, it says, Ezekiel 37:19, "They shall become ones in Thine hand."
- Psalm 34:20, "He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken."
In all these and other places Echad is composite. It is one of others, and hence it is the word used in Deuteronomy 6:4. Jehovah (the self-existant one), Elohim (the sum of all deity), and Jehovah (the self-existant one) is Echad:—the One Person of God (-Ed).
This is the teaching of the number one as applied to this first commandment. There is only one Lord, consequently there is no other to divide the heart. Therefore thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart. Thus the ground of the claim is first mentioned, and then this first and great commandment is given, based upon it.
But this leads to another illustration in Zechariah 14:9.
THE ONE MILLENNIAL RULE
"And the LORD shall be King over all the earth;
In that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one."
There will in that glorious day be no one to dispute Jehovah's rule. There will be no difference of law, or will, or rule, then. All will be harmony, unity, and agreement. This is the secret of Millennial peace. In the Lord's Prayer the two are placed together, one being consequent upon the other.Where there are more wills than one, there can be no peace, no rest. There must necessarily be conflict and confusion.
"Thy kingdom come."
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This is the secret of all disturbance in families, parties, and nations.
We sometimes hear of a "Dual Control," but it is a fiction. It exists only in words, not in reality!
This is the secret of rest for the heart now—"One will." As long as there are two wills there can be no peace. As long as our will is not subject to God's will, we cannot know what rest is.
This is where the Lord Jesus, as man, found rest in the midst of His rejection. In Matthew 11, John the Baptist doubts, vv. 2, 3; the people of that generation reject Him, vv. 16-19; the cities which saw His mightiest works do not believe, vv. 20-24. Then we read in the next verses (25-26), "AT THAT TIME Jesus answered and said, I THANK THEE, O FATHER, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes, EVEN SO FATHER; for so it seemed good in Thy sight." And then turning to his weary servants, the subjects of similar trials and disappointments, He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
In other words, rest is to be found only in subjection to the Father's will. This is the secret of present rest for our souls. This is the secret of Millennial peace and blessing for the earth.
How simple! and yet what strangers we are to this rest! How the Lord's servants are rushing hither and thither to find this great blessing, and yet do not enter into it! Why is this? It is because we do not believe that His will is better than our own? If we were occupied with the Lord instead of with ourselves, with the Blesser instead of with our "blessing," we should soon have such a sense of His grace and glory and power as would convince us that His will is better than ours; and then, instead of being busy with ourselves and enquiring how we are to give up our will, we should see that His is so good that we really loathe our own, and desire only His.
This blessing is not gained by any "act of surrender" or "act of faith," but our own will simply vanishes in the contemplation of his will as we see it to be all-gracious and all-good.
Man's modern methods all begin at the wrong end. They begin with ourselves, they occupy us with ourselves, and hence the failure. The Divine method puts "God First," and thus the end is assured.
It is when our hearts are so before God and so with God, that we learn the wondrous wisdom of His way, and the perfection, sweetness, and blessedness of His will. We yearn to possess it, we long for it, and desire to come into its joy; and our own will vanishes without an effort, and without our knowing it, until we discover afterwards what has happened by a happy experience.
In Millennial days this will be the blessing of the whole earth. For in that day there shall be one King, one will, "one Lord, and His name one."
THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
This is the unity of the members of the one body of Christ, who are all animated by the same Spirit. It is a unity which we cannot make. It is made for us in Christ. We can only preserve it, and live in the power of it by the Holy Spirit, who is "the bond of peace." It needs indeed carefully preserving, for it is opposed to all man's ideas of unity in churches and sects. It is a spiritual unity.
In Ephesians 4:4-6 this unity of the body and its members is set forth. And note the seven-fold nature of it. It is set forth in an Epanodos, i.e., the sentences are arranged in an introversion, where the first answers to the last, the second to the next to the last, etc. The Lord is exalted by being placed in the centre of the whole.
A. There is one BODY,B. and one SPIRIT,A. One God and Father of all [the members of this Body], who is above [or over you] all, and through [or with you] all, and in you all.B. One BAPTISM.
C.Even as ye are called [also] in one HOPE of your calling:D. ONE LORD,C. One FAITH.
Here note, then, in A and A, we have the one Body. In B and B, we have the Spirit and His Baptism. In C and C, the graces of "faith" and "hope"; while in D the Lord stands out as the great head of this one Body, the keystone of this arch of Divine truth.
FIRST OCCURRENCES OF WORDS
These are always important. The ancient Jewish commentators call special attention to them, and lay great stress upon them as always having some significance. They generally help us in fixing the meaning of a word or point us to some lesson in connection with it.
Take for example the word—
Where does it first occur? Psalm 104:35:—
"Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth,
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless thou the LORD, O my soul,
And where is the first occurrence in the New Testament? Revelation 19:1-3, "I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying ALLELUIA;* salvation, and glory, and honour, and power** unto the Lord our God; for true and righteous are His judgments; for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand, and again they said ALLELUIA."***
* This is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew word "Hallelujah."
** The repetition of this word "and" is an example of the figure of Polysyndeton.
*** This is an example of the figure of Repetition called Epanadiplosis, where the same word that begins the sentence is repeated at the end, for the sake of emphasis, and to call our attention to some important lesson in connection with it.
In both these cases, in the Old Testament and in the New, the first occurrence of the word "Hallelujah" stands in connection with judgment. It is for this that praise is given to God. This does not accord with the teachings of the false charity and the traitorous toleration of the present day. The servants of Jehovah, who are imbued with the spirit of the Scriptures, are to, and can, praise Him for the destruction of His and their enemies.
The first occurrence of this word stands in connection with Abraham, Gen 20:7. God says to Abimelech king of Gerar, concerning Abraham and his wife, "Now therefore restore the man his wife: for he is a PROPHET, and he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live."
We learn from this that the word Prophet does not mean merely one who foretells, but one who witnesses for God as His spokesman. The Hebrew word occurs in Exodus 7:1, "Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet"; while in 4:16 the same word is translated, "he shall be thy spokesman." This is exactly what it means; and the man who spoke for God was recognised by the people as God's man, i.e., "A man of God."
The first occurrence of #dq (Ko-desh), holy, is in Exodus 3:5. Not in the Book of the Beginning (Genesis); not until Exodus is opened—the Book of Redemption, which records how God came down to redeem His people out of Egypt (Exo 15:13). The creature cannot understand anything about holiness except on the ground of redemption.
The first occurrence of the word "bride," hlk (Kalah), as applied to the Bride of Jehovah, is in Isaiah 49:18. But "all [natural] Israel was not [Spiritual] Israel" This fixes the meaning of the term as applying only to Spiritual Israel, the Church, for the countless children are "the Body of Christ," converted to Jehovah during Israel's abandonment as Benjamin was born to Jacob during Israel's abandonment of Joseph who was a type of Christ. Thus these are members of spiritual Israel inwardly and part of the Bridegroom, Who is the Word as explained in verses 22-23. We are thus pointed to this fact in Isaiah 61:10 where Jesus Christ the Bridegroom is pictured with His righteous bride out of all nations (Acts 15:7-16; Isaiah 11:10). And in 62:5 which speaks of "New Jerusalem, the mother of all the elect" over which God will rejoice (Galatians 4:26 -Ed).
"The Day of the Lord"
This important expression occurs first in Isaiah 2:12, and if we read the description of it as there given to us by the Holy Spirit, and note its character and object, as well as the purpose of it, we shall have a clear understanding of its meaning.
It is the day when the LORD ariseth to shake terribly the earth; when man shall be humbled and brought low; and when God alone shall be exalted.
Read the whole passage Isaiah 2:10-22, and note how it is emphasised, and how its importance is further shown by being stamped throughout with two figures, which run side by side,—Polysyndeton, the word "and" being used twenty times in nine verses, and Synonymia, i.e., where different words of similar meaning are heaped together and repeated. Here there are seven words and twenty repetitions of them in order to show the loftiness of man's natural pride, and the depth to which it shall be brought down and humbled in "the Day of the LORD."
This is the first occurrence of the expression:—
"For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty,
And upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low...;
And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day." (v 11)
THE FIRST QUESTIONS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS ARE ALSO FULL OF INSTRUCTION*Genesis 3:9, "Where art thou?"
* Gen 3:1 is not a question, as the margin explains.
This question was put by God to the sinner who is hiding from His holy presence, to bring him to conviction, to show him that he was lost and guilty and ruined. This is the object of the Old Testament. The Law it is that gives the knowledge of sin, and brings the sinner under conviction.
The first commandment is, "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart," etc. The impossibility of obeying this commandment convicts the sinner of his impotence, and causes him to thankfully cast himself upon God's omnipotence, and cry out for a Saviour.
The first question of the New Testament therefore is, in Matthew 2:2, "Where is HE that is born?" Where is this Saviour whom I need? He has sought me and brought me to conviction. Where is He that I might find Him, and know Him, and worship Him, and serve Him?
THE FIRST FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
This opens a vast field of instruction, laying down for us the lines, and showing us the principles on which the Holy Spirit interprets His own prophecy. It is in the Gospel according to Matthew (1:22,23):
A. "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of (upo, by) the Lord by (dia, through) the prophet, saying,B. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son.A. which being interpreted is, God with us."*
B. and they shall call His name Emmanuel,
* Note that in this introversion we have, in A and A, the prophecy and the interpretation; while in B and B we have the prophecy fulfilled; in B His birth, and in B His name.
Here notice, first, that the prophecy is quoted from Isaiah 7:14. In Matthew it is specially said to be "spoken by the Lord"; and in Isaiah it is written, "The LORD Himself shall give you a sign."
Thus the fact is emphasised that "the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21).
As this is the first recorded fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the New Testament, we may expect to find in it the generic character of all prophecy, and the grand example of the Holy Spirit's own interpretation.
The prophecy here said to be fulfilled is thus written in Isaiah 7:14: "Behold a virgin* shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."But there is another prophecy associated with this, which is recorded in the next chapter:
* The RV thus translates it like the AV, but gives in the margin: "the maiden is with child and beareth." The verbs occur twice besides, Gen 16:11 and Judg 13:5,7; and v 12 shows that birth was imminent. The noun virgin is hmafl:(ahaf Ha-almah, and means the "maiden," or the "damsel." Almah occurs seven times, Gen 24:43; Exo 2:8; Psa 68:25; Pro 30:19; Song 1:3, 6:8; Isa 7:14, and means "a maid" or "unmarried woman." Here it is "the maid," i.e., some particular maid well known to the prophet and to Ahaz, but not to us. The Hebrew for virgin in our technical sense is haflw@tb@:, Bethulah (and occurs 50 (2x52) times; the first, Gen 24:16). The truth is that every Bethulah is indeed an Almah; but every Almah is not necessarily a Bethulah. The prophecy does not lose one fraction of its Messianic character and force by this admission of the truth, as we shall see below. When it was filled in the days of Ahaz it was merely Almah; but when it was fulfilled or filled full, the Holy Spirit interprets it by the Greek word parqenoV, and thus defines her as technically a virgin.Now in this first quotation of prophecy as fulfilled, we note the following facts for our instruction:—
"The king of Assyria ... shall sweep onward into Judah;
He shall overflow and pass through ...
And the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and ye shall be broken in pieces;...
Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought;
Speak the word, and it shall not stand;
For GOD IS WITH US (l)' w@nm@af(i, Immanu-el)." (Isa 8:7-10, RV)
1. Prophecy is, as we have seen, spoken by JEHOVAH, and the prophets, so-called, are only the instruments or agents. With this agrees 2 Peter 1:20-21, where it is said that they "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Now the word Jehovah denotes Him who existed in eternity past, and will ever exist in eternity to come.
In the Old Testament we have the word (Jehovah) which implies the interpretation. While in the Apocalypse we have the interpretation which implies the word "which is, and which was, and which is to come" (1:4,8, 4:8).
The Name of the "Lord," or Jehovah, therefore, is the key to the understanding of His Word, for He has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psa 138:2). His Word, therefore, in a still higher sense, will relate to what WAS, and IS, and is TO COME.
Notice, however, that in the New Testament (the Apocalypse) Jehovah Jesus, as the Son of Man, is about to fulfil all His holy promise, and carry out all his responsibility. Hence His name is—The future has become present, and what was present merges into the past.
In the OT—He shall be, He is, He was
In Apocalypse—He shall be, He is, He was, He is to come.
The present is, in the Greek, expressed by the participle (not the indicative, which is only suitable to a definite beginning or ending), thus indicating the protracted fulfillment of prophecy between the past and the future, running from the announcement of the prophecy down to the period of the crisis.
In the Apocalypse the three-fold statement occurs twice more. Rev 11:17 - but this refers to the period after the 144,000 elect Israelites recognize the parousiaComing of Christ, and Rev 16:5 which is to New Testament non-elect church hence the future aspect of His name disappears. He is spoken of only as "which art, and wast."*
* The words "and art to come" were put in by some later copyist from the earlier part (1:4,8), and have no manuscript authority. They are excluded by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Wordsworth, Westcott and Hort, and the RV.
It will then be simply the one "who is and was." The coming is regarded as having taken place, and the Day of the Lord inaugurated; therefore nothing future in the name remains in relation to the prophetic Word.
Thus the fact that the words were "spoken by Jehovah" gives us the first key to their prophetic unfolding.
2. The subject of the prophecy is Christ, for "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10).
3. This prophecy was originally uttered in connection with man's failure as man, in the person of Ahaz (Isa 7:10-14). Just as the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was given in connection with man's failure in Adam; and just as the prophets were first raised up as a special order of witnesses on Israel's failure. The Holy Spirit thus connects in this prophecy the failure of man and the promise of the Messiah, taking the different threads of His various utterances, and combining them in one. Thus establishing the principle that prophecy came in after man's failure.
4. On the other hand, He takes the words out of those combinations which were the direct cause of their original utterance. Thus prophecy is resolved into its elements by the Holy Spirit, and by Him the elements are re-combined in accordance with His plans.
5. He takes up the threads of passages that follow the one actually quoted, which explain the reason why the original combinations in which the words were written did not allow of the complete fulfillment of the prophecy at the time they were spoken or written.
6. He connects meanings of names with prophetic truth; and, seizing the gist of the prophecy rather than the mere words, He views in Ahaz the idolatrous and unbelieving Jews making a covenant with their Gentile enemy.
7. He develops, defines, and adds to the original force of the Hebrew word Almah, because, in the ultimate fulfillment, the woman to bring forth the son would be a virgin. The use of Almah in Isaiah made it correct for the historic fulfillment, but did not thus preclude the Futurist fulfillment.
8. The whole prophecy, therefore, of Isaiah 7 and 8 can receive its fulfillment only by separating that fulfillment into three parts, Preteritist, Presentist, and Futurist. Then, as the speaker is Jehovah, the LORD, as we have seen, it is interpreted according to the meaning of His name, which embodies past, present, and future, as the ever-existing and eternal God, "which is, and which was, and which is to come" (Rev 1:4,8).
It follows, therefore, from this that no interpretation of prophecy can be correct which confines itself to only one of these three parts, and denies the other two. This is not "rightly dividing the word of truth."
And also it follows that the power thus to divide the prophecy and re-combine the three divisions must be only that of the author of the prophecy, the LORD the Spirit.
Interpreters who take up one of these three principles are therefore divided into opposite and hostile camps against those who take up another of those principles. But not until we grasp the great principle laid down by the Holy Spirit here, and apply all of them, and all of them together, can we have a true understanding of prophecy.
Now let us prove these three principles.
Ahaz, being greatly moved at the confederacy of Ephraim with Syria, was tempted to make a counter-confederacy with the king of Assyria. A sign was given to him that he need not yield to the temptation, for it would be withdrawn. A child would be born to a certain maiden, who would be called Immanuel, and before that child would know how to distinguish between good and evil, the land that he abhorred (i.e., Ephraim and Syria, regarded as one) would be forsaken of both her kings.
In the next chapter another sign was given to Ahaz. Again a child would be born, this time to the prophetess, and called Maher-shalal-hash-baz, and before he should be able to cry "father" or "mother," both Syria and Ephraim should be spoiled by the king of Assyria.
The words quoted in Matthew 1 are taken partly from Isaiah 7:14; and they distinctly show that Ahaz had not to wait for the birth of Christ to see the promised "sign," but that it must have occurred in his own day. And it was so. Herein is the Preteritist interpretation fulfilled in the past.
But part of the quotation in Matthew 1, "God with us," is taken from Isaiah 8:10, which clearly reaches forward to the same time as Psalm 2, when the kings of the earth take counsel against Messiah, and is, therefore, exclusively futurist.
"The king of Assyria ... shall sweep onward into Judah:...
And the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of Thy land, O Immanuel.
Make an uproar, O ye peoples, and ye shall be broken in pieces:
And give ear, all ye of far countries:
Gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces;
Gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought;
Speak the word, and it shall not stand:
For GOD IS WITH US (Immanu El).
For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand,
And instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people." (Isa 8:8-12, RV)
This is continued in v. 21, and is evidently futurist, as it is the time of darkness, when the judgments of the Apocalypse are upon the earth. (See Isa 8:8-9:7).
"She that was in anguish" in 9:1 is clearly Zion, and it is Zion, or the nation, that will at the time of the end say: "Unto us a child is born." That is the time of Revelation 12 and Psalm 87, where Christ is seen as born of Zion. It is the time when He takes the kingdom and establishes His millennial reign (Luke 1:31-33).
Thus it is certain that a portion of these three chapters cannot be fully interpreted except on Futurist lines.
Or those lines which run through the ages between the past (the prophet's own day) and the future (the day of the crisis), are also clearly discernible.
In 7:17 we read the words, immediately following the prophecy of the birth of this mysterious child:—
"The LORD shall bring upon thee,
And upon thy people, and upon thy father's house,
Days that have not come,
From the day that Ephraim departed from Judah;
Even the king of Assyria." (Isa 7:17)
To understand this, it is necessary to know that Nebuchadnezzar stepped into the heritage of the kings of Assyria. Hence the Babylonians were called Assyrians, even so late as the times of Xenophon, who so speaks of them in his Anabasis. And even Darius, whom we know was a Median, is still called "the king of Assyria" in the Word of God. (See Ezra 6:22, and compare 2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chron 35:23.)
Thus "the Assyrian" of Isaiah's prophecy, at the time of the end, is not necessarily a king of revived Assyria, and we are taught that these prophecies of the king of Assyria reach through to all the heads of the four Gentile empires spoken of in Daniel.
The prophecy of the king of Assyria spoken of in these chapters of Isaiah runs on in protracted presentist fulfillment, covering the whole period of "the times of the Gentiles."
Another proof of the necessity of this presentist fulfillment is given in Isaiah 8:13:—
"The LORD of hosts, Him shall ye sanctify;
And let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
And He shall be for a sanctuary;
But for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel,
For a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many shall stumble thereon, and fall, and be broken,
And be snared and be taken.
Bind thou up the testimony,
Seal the law (or teaching) among my disciples.
And I will wait for the LORD,
That hideth His face from the house of Jacob,
And I will look for Him.
Behold! I and the children whom the LORD hath given me
Are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion." (Isa 8:13-18, RV)
Here we have the present character of the dispensation as it is described in Romans 9-11, the period of Israel's blindness. This is perfectly clear if we compare Isaiah 8:14 with Romans 9:32-33.
Christ is the stumbling-stone and rock of offence to the masses; but He is believed on by a remnant of His disciples, "the remnant according to the election of grace." Christ and His disciples today are the Lord's "signs and wonders" to Israel, for the disciples are counted as the Lord's "children":—
"A seed shall serve him;
It shall be accounted to the LORD for a generation." (Psa 22:30)*
* It is clear also from Heb 2:13, that Isa 8:18 had both a preteritist and then a futurist fulfillment.
This is further set forth in the meanings of all the names employed. The salvation of Jehovah (for such is the meaning of the name ISAIAH) will be accomplished by Jehovah being with His people (IMMANUEL). That salvation is needed and brought about in consequence of the Assyrian hasting to make a prey and spoil of the nation (MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ). Then the remnant shall return, i.e. repent (SHEAR-JASHUB, Isa 7:3), and stay upon Jehovah and wait for Him.
Such is the purport and teaching of the whole Prophecy of Isaiah; for it is but one prophecy, a whole, complete in its parts, the "higher criticism," which would saw him asunder, notwithstanding.
Such, too, is the important lesson taught us by this first recorded fulfillment of prophecy in the New Testament, from which we learn that prophecy is only comprehensible as an organic whole, when thus subdivided by (and by us under the guidance of) the Holy Spirit into its Preteritist, Presentist, and Futurist fulfillments according to the meaning of the name Jehovah—"which is, and which was, and which is to come."
WORDS THAT OCCUR ONLY ONCE
are often instructive; they are called by the Greeks apax legomena (hapax legomena). We give a few examples in detail.
(1) kritikoV (kritikos), "critic," Hebrews 4:12
This is the origin of our word "critic." The Greek is kritikos, and "critic" is merely the English spelling of the Greek word, which is thus transliterated. It means able to judge or skilled in judging; and then, simply, a judge, but always with the idea of his ability to judge. It occurs only in Hebrews 4:12, where it is translated "a discerner."
The whole passage relates both to the written Word, which is a sword (Eph 6:17): and to the living Word (Christ), who has a sword.
The structure of the two verses distinguishes between God and His word:—
A. 12-. GOD it is whose Word is so wonderful.B. -12-. What His Word IS (living, powerful, and a sharp sword).A. 13. GOD it is who is omniscient.C. -12-. What His Word DOES (piercing and dividing asunder, etc.).B. -12-. What His Word IS (a skillful judge).
Here we have in A and A, God the omniscient one; and in B, C, and B we have His Word. And we learn that the Word of God is a judge now, so wonderful that it distinguishes between the thoughts and intentions of the heart and judges them.
The Lord Himself bears witness that the same Word will be our judge hereafter—John 12:48, "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him; the Word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
What a solemn truth. And how much more solemn, when man now dares to take this one word "critic" or "judge," which God has thus, by His only once using it, appropriated to His Word, and apply it to himself. And what is it that man is going to judge? Why, this very Word of God! thus making himself the judge of that Word which is to judge him! If the word kritikos were of frequent occurrence, and used of various things or persons, man might perhaps be led to look on himself as a judge of some one of them. But God has used it only once, and He has thus confined it to one thing—His Word. Therefore it is a daring presumption for man to transfer the word to himself. Not only does man do this, but he calls his work "higher criticism." Now there is a criticism which is lawful, because it judges not God's Word, but man's work as to the manuscripts; this is called Textual Criticism, which is quite a different thing. But this "higher criticism" is nothing but human reasoning; it is nothing more than the imagination of man's heart—those very thoughts and intentions which the Word itself judges!
What confusion! what perversion! and what folly! for the further man's criticism departs from the domain of evidence and enters on the sphere of reason, the "higher" he calls it! That is to say, the less like a skilled judge he acts, the higher he exalts his judgment! Poor man! Oh that you would submit yourself to this Word. For it must either judge you now, in this day of grace, and give you conviction of sin; or it will be your judge in the last day, when every mouth will be stopped, and you will be "speechless" and "without excuse."
(2) kaphleuw (kapeeleuo), "to corrupt," 2 Corinthians 2:17
This is another word which occurs only once, and it is, like all such words, full on instruction. It is derived from kaph, a crib or manger, whence kaptw, to eat quickly (Latin, capio, to take). Then comes kaphloV, one who sells provisions, esp. a victualler or vintner, and the verb kaphleuw, which means to be a kaphloV, to keep a tavern, to sell victuals and drink (esp. wine). Then, like so many words which, in the course of their history, witness to the fallen nature of man, (see 2) and because all such retailers were addicted to adulteration, the verb came to mean, simply, to adulterate. This cannot be more clearly shown than by referring to Isaiah 1:22, where the Hebrew,Is rendered in the Septuagint,
"Thy silver is become dross,
Thy wine mixed with water"
"Thy wine merchants (oi kaphloi) mix the wine with water."
That is exactly what is meant in 2 Corinthians 2:17, where the Apostle says "we are not as many which corrupt the word of God," i.e. who adulterate and "water down" the Word.
The Holy Spirit, by confining the use of this verb solely to the ministration of the Word of God, places the greatest possible emphasis upon the practice of the "MANY!" He had just been most solemnly declaring that His ministry of that Word was to some the savour of death unto death (i.e. resulting in their endless death). The "many" do not so declare all the counsel of God, but they water it down, and adulterate all such discriminating truth, prophesying smooth things, and seeking to please the people instead of studying to show themselves approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15).
The margin of the AV reads "deal deceitfully with." The RV, while translating the word "corrupting" in the text, waters down the whole truth in the margin by giving the alternative rendering, "making merchandise of," which, while it is far below the solemnity of the passage, exemplifies its truth.
(3) dolow (doloo), "to handle deceitfully," 2 Corinthians 4:2
This is another word which is used only once, and here again it is in connection with the Word of God. Indeed, the three might well be compared—Hebrews 4:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17; and this word dolow in 2 Corinthians 4:2. Like some other words which occur only once, its meaning is from that very cause not so clear or obvious as other words in more general use. We have therefore to search for its meaning. First, all verbs ending in ow are causative, carrying out the act which is proper to the noun. Hence douloV (doulos) is a slave, therefore doulow (doulo-o) means to make a slave of another, to enslave: polemoV (polemos) is war, therefore polemow (polemo-o) means to make war, or to make hostile.
Now with regard to this word, the noun doloV (dolos) means any cunning contrivance for catching by deceit. Homer uses it of the robe of Penelope, which she used as a means of deceiving her many suitors, saying, she must finish the making of it before she could make up her mind. He uses it also of the net with which Vulcan catches Mars, and of the Trojan horse; and of a mousetrap. Hence, doloV means any trick, or contrivance, or stratagem by which another is deceived.
The verb dolow therefore must mean the act of deceiving by a trick, or ensnaring by craft. The Greek writers use it of debasing gold, adulterating wine, of dyeing garments, and of disguising oneself.
In this passage, therefore, it means that the Apostle declares that he has not acted thus with the Word of God. He neither used it as a vintner did his wine, adulterating it or watering it down (2 Cor 2:17); nor did he use it as a juggler or trickster to catch them with it by wile, craft, cunning, or stratagem.*
* It may be well to note the many words which have had to be used to meet man's fallen nature in his various forms of deception:
planaw (plano) is "to lead astray," used of doctrinal error or religious deceit
paralogizomai (paralogisomai), "to deceive by false reasoning"
apataw (apatao), "to delude with false statements"
kaphleuw (kapeeleuo), "to adulterate by admixture"
dolow (doloo), "to deceive by stratagem"
yeudw (pseudo), "to deceive by lying"
baskainw (baskaino), "to deceive by witchcraft"
An example may be given of the way in which ignorant rationalists thus deal with the Word of God. One quotes Jeremiah 7:22 to prove that Jehovah "never gave any directions whatever about burnt offerings and sacrifices," omitting the words which define and limit the reference to "the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt." This is a specimen of the jugglery which abounds on all hands either through ignorance or malice.
This "dealing deceitfully" with the Word of God is seen most frequently when words are quoted apart from their context, by which, of course, the Bible may be made to prove anything. This is a fruitful source of error even with those who love and are seeking after the Truth.
A glaring example of this wilful deceit is seen in a wall-text which reads, "Thou shalt not drink wine," thus giving as a Divine command that which is uttered as a threat of Divine judgment. See Micah 6:15.
(4) artioV (artios), "perfect," 2 Timothy 3:17
This is another word which occurs only once, and again in reference to the Word of God. It is rendered "perfect," but it means fitted, and has reference to a special aptitude for any given use. The verb, in the same verse, is formed from this word, with the preposition ex, out, prefixed exartizw (exartizo), and it means fitted out, as a vessel for a voyage, fully equipped, completely furnished. The two words are, therefore, cognate, and should be similarly translated. They are, moreover, for the sake of emphasis, put out of their place, in order to attract our attention; one is put at the beginning of the sentence and the other at the end, thus:—"that equipped may be the man of God, for every good work fully equipped": or fitted...thoroughly fitted out; or furnished..completely furnished. That is to say, He who has "learned" and is "assured of" the Word of God, having been "made wise unto salvation," and has profited by the continued use of the holy Scripture as inspired by God, is "a man of God," i.e., a prophet, and therefore knows from these Scriptures what he is to say as God's spokesman. One who studies man's books will become a man of men; but he who studies God's book will become "a man of God." Moreover he will be equipped for every emergency, fitted out against every need, ready to meet every contingency; just as a vessel when fitted out for a long voyage has to be provided for calm and storm, ready to help a friend or defeat an enemy, prepared for fire and every accident, so the man of God, who truly profits by the study of the Scriptures, is equipped and furnished, prepared and ready for every emergency.
(5) rhtwV (rheetos), "expressly," 1 Timothy 4:1
This word rhtwV (rheetos) is from rhtoV, spoken, or expressed in words. The noun rhetor (rhtwr) was used of one who spoke to the people and advised them; then it is used of a hired orator; and rhetoric was used of the arts he employed. So that it may mean here that the Holy Spirit actually pronounced these solemn words of 1 Timothy 4:1 audibly in the Apostle's ears* in order to emphasise their awful solemnity and the certainty of their truth. (See the context.)* As on other occasions, Acts 10:19,20, 13:2, etc.
(6) baskainw (baskaino), "to bewitch, Galatians 3:1
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth."
The word means to fascinate. Indeed the word fascinate is derived from it, the initial f in the Latin taking the place of the b in the Greek. Among the heathen this fascination was with the eye (Deut 38:54,56; Eccl 14:8). In Galatians 3:1 it is used in a wider sense, and by using it only once, the Holy Spirit emphasises it and points to a danger common to the people of God through all time. When they profess that they are "charmed" by this teacher, or "fascinated" by that speaker, they prove themselves to be indeed "foolish" (anohtoV,* without understanding), because they are "fascinated" and deprived of the use of their faculties, and are in great danger of being deceived and turned away from the truth.
* Luke 24:25; Rom 1:14; Gal 3:3; 1 Tim 6:9; Titus 3:3.
(7) epiousioV (epiousios), Matthew 6:11
This word epi-ousios occurs only once. It is not merely a word that was used only once, but it occurs nowhere else, not even in any other Greek writing, for it was coined by the Lord Jesus Himself. Hence there is no help to be obtained in understanding its meaning but from the Holy Spirit.
It is translated "daily": "Give us this day our daily bread," Matthew 6:11.
It has been variously understood and translated. The RV, in the margin, treats it as an ellipsis, and supplies the word "day":—"Greek, our bread for the coming day." But this cannot be correct, for it is in direct opposition to verse 34, where we are expressly told to "take no thought for the morrow!" Besides, "Give us this day our bread for the coming day," is a denial of the great fact that our need is supplied day by day. The truth is that we have no stock of grace supplied for future use; that which we need on any particular day is not supplied by God either before or after, but on the very day, yea, at the very moment of our need. The RV is right in saying that the Greek means "coming," but it would be still more correct to say "coming upon," thus preserving the force of the preposition epi (epi) upon.*
* 'EpiousioV cannot be derived from epi, upon, and eimi, to be, because the participle would then have been epousa. It must be from epi and eimi, to go or come, for the participle of this is, as here, epiousa, going upon or coming upon.
We must expect this peculiar word of the Lord Jesus to have such a fulness in it that no one English word is able to express it. It qualifies the word "bread." It is this bread which is epiousios, i.e., coming upon us. It is not the bread which perisheth, but the heavenly bread which cometh down from heaven (John 6:32,33), even Jesus the living Word of God. For "man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live." In other words, it is not the bread which cometh up from the earth which we ask our Father in this prayer; but it is the bread which cometh down from heaven, even Christ, the living Word, and the Scriptures, the written Word. By these alone, we truly live.
(8) skoloy (skolops), "a thorn," 2 Corinthians 12:7
is another word which occurs only once, in this place. "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh," or more literally, for the flesh (th sarki). Commentators and expositors exhaust their ingenuity in trying to explain what this "thorn" was, while the true explanation is given by the Spirit in the words which follow. That we may make no mistake as to what the "thorn" was, it is immediately added aggeloV Satana, "an angel of Satan."* That is to say, this "thorn for the flesh" was "an angel of Satan," allowed to come "in order that he might buffet me" (ina me kolafizh). The word kolaqizw means to give a blow with the fist.** No "thorn" could do this. But this evil angel, sent by Satan, could do so; and was permitted to do so, and to be to the Apostle what a thorn is to the flesh, in order that he might not be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations which he had received.
* Not "the messenger of Satan." There is no article. But the nominative is placed in apposition, in order to explain the skoloy (thorn). In the Received Text, the word "Satan" is also in the nominative, but this would in that case explain the angel—that the angel was Satan himself. L., T., Tr., A., and W. H. read Satana, of Satan.
** It occurs elsewhere only in Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; 1 Cor 4:11; 1 Peter 2:20.
First, we have the word "thorn," then we have the explanation, "an angel of Satan." Why should we seek to go further and explain the explanation already given? Why not rest content with what is actually said, instead of seeking to introduce something which is not said? The word and the phrase occur only in this passage, to show us the importance of the great lesson which it teaches.
Thrice the Apostle prayed that "he might depart." Literally, "in order that he might withdraw or go away from me" (ina aposth ap emou). But his prayer was refused! Why? Because he asked for what he did not need! The grace of Christ was all-sufficient. It was needful for him to be humbled. To accomplish this the very buffeting of Satan was used to defeat his own designs. Satan's design is to lift up the servant of God with pride. Yet, here, the buffetings of the messenger of Satan were over-ruled to defeat his own ends, and Satan was taken in his own craftiness.
(9) allotrioepiskopoV (allotrio-episkopos), 1 Peter 4:15
Allotrio-episkopos is a word which occurs only here, not being used even by any of the Greek classical writers. It is composed of two words, allotrioV (allotrios), "belonging to another," and episkopoV (episkopos), "an overseer" (bishop). According to this, it would mean one who takes the supervision of affairs which pertain to others and in no wise to himself. Hence it is rendered in AV "a busybody [RV meddler] in other men's matters." But this is evidently weak, and it is in fact far short of the facts referred to in the context. The Christians were being exhorted in this Epistle with regard to a great persecution, which was even then commencing, and in which they were charged with being "murderers," "thieves," "evil-doers," and "allotrio-episkopoi," whatever that may mean. Now it is clear that something more is meant here than a mere "busybody," or "meddler," by being classed among such great criminals. The fact is, that these persecutions commenced with popular accusations. The "Christians" were regarded with general hatred, and the common charges brought against them were murders, incendiarism, etc., but chief of all they were charged with hatred of the world and hostility to society. The technical term for this latter crime was odium humani generis,* and it meant that the Christians were bent on relaxing the bonds which held society together, introducing divisions into families, setting children against parents, parents against children, and accomplishing all this by unlawful and magical arts. This charge was absolutely necessary to procure their death; for in the Roman Empire the right of inflicting capital punishment belonged only to a few high officials, and death was the punishment of magicians.The Roman officials scorned a merely religious charge (see Acts 18:15-17, 19:37, etc.).
* Not hatred of human kind; but among the Romans genus hominum meant civilised society.
It seems clear, therefore, that the word allotrioepiskopoV was coined in order to express in Greek the Roman indictment of odium humani generis. So elastic an accusation could be easily proved in times of popular excitement. Christians were charged with breaking up the peace of family life, raising discontent and disobedience amongst slaves. True, they were hostile to the vices of Roman society, and doubtless denounced them. Society, then, must destroy these Christians in self-defence! This is the teaching involved in this word. It is no mere advice to disregard the taunts or jeers of others. It was a solemn exhortation, that when persecution came they were to suffer, not as murderers or thieves, or as being like our agitators—as the enemies of society—but as Christians. "Be ready always to give an answer"* (1 Peter 3:15). "If ye suffer for righteousness' sake happy are ye, and be not afraid of their terror" (ibid. 3:14). Do not suffer under those terrible accusations and false charges, but suffer "as a Christian." Be not ashamed of this, but glorify God on this behalf (ibid. 4:12-16).
* apologia, apologia, is a strictly legal term for a defence against a formal indictment.
Many Christians are today ignorant, and therefore unmindful, of what is meant by this solemn exhortation. As the leaders of the people they are taking the place of those whom we speak of as "agitators"; and, by preaching what is openly called "a social gospel" and "the gospel of the people," are helping forward the enemies of society, and are themselves disturbers of the peace, under the guise of what they call "Christian socialism." Such teachers would find it difficult to obey the exhortation to make a good defence against such charges, for in their case the accusation would be true and not false.
(10) dwdekafulon (dodekaphulon), "twelve tribes" (Acts 26:7)
This word dodekaphulon is used by St. Paul in Acts 26:7, where, speaking of the hope of resurrection, he says, "Unto which promise our Twelve Tribes, instantly serving God, day and night, hope to come."
This shows that the idea of the Twelve Tribes being "lost" is a popular fallacy.
It is true that in the Old Testament prophecies the term "Judah" may be used technically of the kingdom of Judah, and the term "Israel" of the Ten Tribes; but it does not follow that the current popular use of the words is marked by the same exactness. We speak today of all the seed of Abraham as "Jews," but we do not by such a use of the word determine the fact that they are belonging only to the tribe of Judah! The popular belief is that at the time of the crucifixion only the tribe of Judah was in the land, and responsible for the death of the Lord Jesus.
But it is a fact that, at the time of the separation of the two kingdoms, there were "children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah," 2 Chronicles 10:17; and in 2 Chronicles 11:3 we read of "all Israel in Judah." Long before the dispersion of the Ten Tribes and the captivity of Judah, numbers from all the tribes joined the kingdom of Judah on account of the idolatry introduced by the kings of Israel.
In 2 Chronicles 11:13, 16, 17, "the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him [Rehoboam, king of Judah] out of all their coasts...and after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah."*
* But only for three years did this strength continue. Then they, too, fell into idolatry, and were no longer a strength, but a weakness.
In 2 Chronicles 15:9, Asa, king of Judah, moved by the prophet Azariah, made a reformation, "and he gathered all Judah and Benjamin and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance,* when they saw that the LORD his God was with him."
* The Hebrew is br&, rhov, and means "multitude." See Gen 16:10, 32:12, Deut 1:10, 28:62; Josh 11:4; Judg 6:5, 7:12, etc.
Josephus says (Ant. xi. 5, 7) of the term "Jews," "that is the name they are called by from the day that they came up from Babylon, which is taken from the tribe of Judah, which came first to these places, and thence both they and the country gained that appellation." But the word soon obtained a wider application, and on the return from the captivity in Babylon, what we call "Judah" was not confined merely to the original tribe, but embraced the old kingdom of Judah and Benjamin, together with an "abundance" out of all the other tribes of Israel.
In the Gospels we read of "Anna, a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher" (Luke 2:36). So that here was one of the Ten Tribes who could trace her genealogy, and was yet living in the land.
In giving His instructions to the twelve Apostles, the Lord particularly enjoined them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10:5,6). And of Himself He said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 15:24).
The fact is that the whole nation was spoken of by the Gentiles as "Jews," and the terms "Jews" and "Israelites" are not used in the New Testament with the distinction which modern usage has given to them.
It is clear from the Book of Esther that in Persia and elsewhere they were known as and spoken of as "Jews."
In Jeremiah 34:9, the term "Jew" is co-extensive with the term "Hebrew."
In Zechariah 8, too, which carefully distinguishes between "the house of Judah" and "the house of Israel" (v 13), the term "Jew" is clearly used of the whole nation (v 23).
We see the same indiscriminate use of the words "Jew" and "Israelite" in the New Testament. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, addresses them as "men of Judea" (Acts 2:14), and in v. 22, as "men of Israel." And, again, in Acts 4:8, "Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel...Be it known unto you and to all the people of Israel."
Further, in Acts 4:27, we are expressly told that, so far from the Jews, as such, being guilty of the death of Jesus, it was "all the people of Israel."
Peter and James addressed their Epistles to the Diaspora,* the "Dispersion," i.e. "the twelve Tribes scattered abroad."
* The word occurs only in John 7:35; James 1:1 and 1 Peter 1:1.
And, finally, the Holy Spirit, by Paul, speaking of the promise of Resurrection made unto the fathers, says (Acts 26:7), "Unto which promise our Twelve Tribes, instantly serving God, day and night, hope to come." We thus see that those whom we speak of as "Jews" are identical with the "Twelve Tribes."
Although neither we nor they may be able to separate and distinguish them now, we shall alike "marvel" when the true Joseph, who "is yet alive," shall show that He can do so, when He causes them to sit in order before Him (Gen 43:33).
These must suffice as examples of the importance of hapax legomina, or words that occur only once. There are a large number of them, and we append a list (by no means exhaustive for the further study of those who desire to follow up this interesting branch of Bible study.
- ld (dal), Psa 141:3, "the door"
- h(z (zeh-gah), Gen 3:19, "In the sweat of"
- Pyzrz (zar-zeeph), Psa 62:6, "water"
- Ppx (chah-phaph), Deut 33:12, "shall cover him"
- bbx (cha-vav),* Deut 33:3, "he loved"
* This is the word from which the name of the great modern Jewish Society (Nwyc ybbwx), Chovevei Zion, is taken. It means the Lovers of Zion. The verb bbaxaf means to hide in the bosom, to love fervently with a tender protecting love. The society is formed for the colonisation of Palestine, and has adopted a national flag for the restored nation of Israel.
- Nxb (boh-chan), Isa 28:16, "tried"
- Pnk (kah-naph), Isa 30:20, "shall thy teachers"
- Nwl#k (kish-shah-lohn), Prov 16:18, "a fall"
- xl (leh-ach), Deut 34:7, "antural force"
- Nr (rohn), Psa 32:7, "songs of"
- bhr (roh-hav), Psa 99:10, "their strength"
- #p+ (tah-phash), Psa 119:70, "is fat"
- #gr (rah-gash), Psa 2:1, "do rage"
- qnwy (yoh-nehk), Isa 53:2, "as a tender plant"
- (gr (rah-geh-ag), Psa 35:20, "them that are quiet"
- lly (y'lehl), Deut 32:10, "howling"
- Mmy (yeh-meem),* Gen 37:24, "the mules"
* From Mw@y, primarily Mw@x, to put in commotion, agitate, hence to be hot. In Sanscrit, Yamunah is the river of that name; and in Syr. it means "waters." The AV followed the error of the Talmud. The RV has it correctly "hot-springs." The word for mules is Mydirafp@:.
- +#q (koh-shet), Psa 60:4, "the truth"
- hdwsy (y'soo-dah), Psa 87:1, "His foundation"
- Nw)pq (kip-pah-ohn), Zech 14:6, "nor dark"
- hx+b (bit-chah), Isa 30:15, "confidence"
- h)yrq (k'reeah), Jonah 3:2, "preaching"
- hmylb (b'lee-mah), Job 26:7, "nothing"
- Mlb (bah-lam), Psa 32:9, "held in"
- +(y (yah-ghat), Isa 61:10, "he hath covered me"
- Nypc (tzah-pheen), Psa 17:14, "with thy hid"
- hmk (kah-mah), Psa 63:1, "longed"
- qwc (tzohk), Dan 9:25, "even in troublous"
- twrkrk (kir-kah-rohth), Isa 66:20, "and upon swift beasts"
- ynwmlp (pal-moh-nee), Dan 8:13, "unto that certain" (marg., "Heb. Palmoni; or, the numberer of secrets; or the wonderful numberer")
- tw(#wm (moh-shah-oth), Psa 68:20, "of salvation"
- twk#wm (moh-sh'koth), Job 38:31, "the bands of"
- hy#n (n'sheey-yah), Psa 88:12, "forgetfulness"
- Kbn (neh-vech), Job 38:16, "springs"
Or coming to the New Testament we may instance:—
- agreuw (agruo), Mark 12:13, "to catch"
- agnwstoV (agnostos),* Acts 17:23, "unknown"
* Whence our word Agnostic, "ignoramus."
- adoloV (adolos), 1 Peter 2:2, "sincere"
- aimatekcusia (haimatekchusia), Heb 9:22, "shedding of blood"
- airetizw (airetizo), Matt 12:18, "have chosen"
- anomwV (anomos), Rom 2:12, "without law"
- aparabatoV (aparabatos), Heb 7:24, "unchangeable"
- apatwr (apator), Heb 7:3, "without father"
- apoblhtoV (apobleetos), 1 Tim 4:4, "to be refused"
- apaugasma (apaugasma), Heb 1:3, "brightness"
- apokleiw (apokleio), Luke 13:25, "hath shut to"
- arrhtoV (arrhectos), 2 Cor 12:4, "unspeakable"
- arcipoimhn (archipoimeen), 1 Peter 5:4, "chief shepherd"
- apeiroV (apeiros), Heb 5:13, "unskillful"
- apoblepw (apoblepo), Heb 11:26, "have respect"
- bohfoV (boeethos), Heb 13:6, "helper"
- brabeuw (brabeuo), Col 3:15, "rule"
- gunaikarion (gunaikarion), 2 Tim 3:6, "silly women" (neuter gender, to include silly women of both sexes!)
- dakruw (dakruo), John 11:35, "Jesus wept"
- deiliaw (deiliao), John 14:27, "let it be afraid"
- dhpou (deepou), Heb 2:16, "verily"
- dianuktereuw (dianukteruo), Luke 6:12, "continued all night"
- dikaiokrisia (dikaiokrisia), Rom 2:5, "righteous judgment"
- dothV (dotees), 2 Cor 9:27, "giver"
- dusnohtoV (dusnoeetos), 2 Peter 3:16, "hard to be understood"
- egkatoikew (engkatoikeo), 2 Peter 2:8, "dwelling among"
- egkrathV (engkratees), Titus 1:8, "temperate"
- eirhnopoiew (eireenopoieo), Col 1:20, "having made peace"
- eisdecomai (eisdechomai), 2 Cor 6:17, "will receive"
- emew (emeo), Rev 3:16, "spue"
- emperipatew (emperipateo), 2 Cor 6:16, "walk in"
- emfusaw (emphusao), John 20:22, "breathed on"
- hper (eeper), John 22:43, "than"
- qauma (thauma), Rev 17:6, "admiration"
- qeopneustoV (theopneustos), 2 Tim 3:16, "inspiration of God" (i.e. God breathed)
- qromboV (thrombos), Luke 22:44, "great drops"
- idrwV (hidros), Luke 22:44, "sweat"
- ierourgew (hierourgeo), Rom 15:16, "ministering"
- ikanothV (hikanotees), 2 Cor 3:5, "sufficiency"
- karterew (kartereo), Heb 11:27, "endured"
- katanaqema (katanathema), Rev 22:3, "curse"
- katamanqanw (katamanthano), Matt 6:28, "consider"
- kataleimma (kataleimma), Rom 9:27, "a remnant"
- katanussw (katanusso), Acts 2:37, "were pricked"*
* Note that these were pricked in their heart, while in Acts 5:33 and 7:54, it is diapriomai (diapriomai), they were cut to the heart—which makes all the difference.
- katoptrizomai (katoptrizomai), 2 Cor 3:18, "beholding as in a glass"
- keleusma (keleusma), 1 Thess 4:16, "a shout" (i.e. an assembling shout)
- knhqw (kneetho), 2 Tim 4:3, "itching"
- leitourgikoV (leitourgikos), Heb 1:14, "ministering" (i.e. worshipping)
- megistoV (megistos), 2 Peter 1:4, "exceeding great"
- metriopaqew (metriopatheo), Heb 5:2, "have compassion"
- miasma (miasma), 2 Peter 2:20, "pollutions"
- mwlwy (molops), 1 Peter 2:24, "stripes"
- nuttw (nutto), John 19:34, "pierced"
- olotelhV (holotelees), 1 Thess 5:23, "wholly"
- orqotomew (orthotomeo), 2 Tim 2:15, "rightly dividing"
- palh (palee), Eph 6:12, "wrestle" (i.e. the wrestling)
- parallagh (parallagee), James 1:17, "variableness"
- penicroV (penichros), Luke 21:2, "poor"
- periousioV (periousios), Titus 2:14, "peculiar"
- platuV (platus), Matt 7:13, "wide"
- plasma (plasma), Rom 9:20, "thing formed"
- polupoikiloV (polupoikilos), Eph 3:10, "manifold"
- polumerwV (polumeros), Heb 1:1, "sundry times"
- polutropwV (polutropos), Heb 1:1, "divers manners"
- praoV (praos), Matt 11:29, "meek"
- problepw (problepo), Heb 11:40, "having provided"
- prodromoV (prodromos), Heb 6:20, "forerunner"
- proelpizw (proelpizo), Eph 1:12, "who first trusted"
- sarkinoV (sarkinos), 2 Cor 3:3, "fleshy," indicating the nature of the person (made of flesh): while sarkikoV (fleshly) indicates the bent of the mind
- sebazomai (sebazomai), Rom 1:25, "worshipped"
- siniazw (siniazo), Luke 22:31, "sift"
- stigma (stigma), Gal 6:17, "marks"
- sunauxanomai (sunauxanomai), Matt 13:30, "grow together"
- sunwdinw (sunodino), Rom 8:22, "travaileth in pain together"
- sustenazw (sustenazo), Rom 8:22, "groaneth together"
- swfronwV (sophronos), Titus 2:12, "soberly"
- tagma (tagma), 1 Cor 15:23, "order" (rank)
- tartarow (tartaroo), 2 Peter 2:4, "cast down to hell"
- tekmhrion (tekmeerion), Acts 1:3, "infallible proofs"
- teleiwthV (teliotees), Heb 12:2, "finisher"
- tropoforew (tropophoreo), Acts 13:18, "suffered he...manners"
- udropotew (hydropoteo), 1 Tim 5:23, "drink...water"
- upereidw (hupereido), Acts 17:30, "winked at"
- uperkinaw (huperkinao), Rom 8:37, "more than conquerors"
- uperuyow (huperupsoo), Phil 2:9, "highly exalted"
- upecw (hupecho), Jude 7, "suffering"
- upodikoV (hupodikos), Rom 3:19, "guilty"
- filia (philia), James 4:4, "friendship"
- filoprwteuw (philoproteuo), 3 John 4, "loveth to have the pre-eminence"
- filosofia (philosophia), Col 2:8, "philosophy"
- flogizw (phlogizo), James 3:6, "setteth on fire"
- fruassw (phruasso), Acts 4:25, "did...rage"
- fwsforoV (phosphoros), 2 Peter 1:19, "day star"
- cliaroV (chliaros), Rev 3:16, "lukewarm"
- crwV (chros), Acts 19:12, "body"
- yeudwnumoV (psudonumos), 1 Tim 6:20, "falsely so called" (pseudonym)
- yucomai (psuchomai), Matt 24:12, "shall wax cold"
- wruomai (oruomai), 1 Peter 5:8, "walking about"
What is true of words which occur only once is also true of
PHRASES WHICH OCCUR ONLY ONCE
All these are of the greatest importance. We have noticed one above "Angel of Satan." There are many others; we give an example or two.
pneuma Cristou (pneuma Christou), "the Spirit of Christ," Rom 8:9
"Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Both the AV and RV print the word spirit with a capital "S," as though it meant the Person of the Holy Spirit; and most Commentators so interpret it.
But pneuma Cristou is a remarkable expression. First, there is no article, "the," either before "Spirit" or "Christ"; and, secondly, this combination of the two words occurs no where else.* The expression is stamped therefore with special importance, and no help in understanding it can be gained from its use in other passages.
* The apparently similar expression in 1 Peter 1:11 has the article.
Pneuma Cristou is, literally, Christ-spirit. It is the "new creature," or "new creation," which is created by the Holy Spirit in all those who are "in Christ" (2 Cor 5:17). This new nature is called pneuma (pneuma), or spirit, as opposed to that which is only sarx (sarx), flesh. It is said to be "of God." It is called (Rom 8:9) pneuma Qeou (pneuma Theou), Spirit of God, or Divine Spirit. It is spoken of as "Christ in you" (Col 1:27). It is "eternal life." It is Christ in us, indeed; for Christ risen and ascended is "our life," and this life, regarded in its abstract nature and origin, is called here (Rom 8:9) pneuma Cristou (pneuma Christou). The context supports this exposition, for the very next verse contains a conclusion flowing from the statement: "If Christ be in you the body [men, indeed] is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness" (Rom 8:10). There must be this pneuma Cristou in us of the Holy Spirit's creation, before He can bear witness with our spirits! Hence this Christ-life in us is the subject of this wonderful chapter before the Person of the Holy Spirit is spoken of in the 16th verse.
Paul never speaks of being "born again," or being "converted." The pneuma Cristou, the Christ-spirit in us, implies this, and more than this; for being "born again" or "converted" is necessary, even for the earthly portion of the kingdom, the ta epigeia (ta epigeia) or earthly things of John 3:12.
When Christ was upon the earth He was, as He is, the life of men. But now that He has been raised from the dead and exalted to the right-hand of God, He has become our life in this especial manner—Resurrection life. And this life is pneuma Cristou, or Christ formed in us by the creative act of the Holy Ghost, as the hope of glory. Christ is called "a quickening [or life-giving] Spirit" (1 Cor 15:46), and he that is thus joined to Christ the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor 6:17).
So that we find in Scripture:
- That God is Spirit (John 3:24), pneuma o QeoV;
- That Christ is Spirit, pneuma (1 Cor 15:46);
- That the Holy Ghost is Spirit, pneuma; and
- That our new nature is also pneuma, for that which is born of Spirit is pneuma (John 3:6)
And thus we are told by our God and Father's wondrous grace that we are partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4). It is this Divine Nature which, in Romans 8:9, is called pneuma Cristou.*
* The word pneuma occurs nearly 400 times in the New Testament, 150 of which are in the Pauline Epistles. It is a question worthy of serious consideration as to what is the meaning of the various usages of pneuma. With the article it is of course the Holy Spirit. But without the article and before Pentecost, what can pneuma agion mean in Luke 11:13, "How much rather shall My Father give holy and divine spirit to them that ask Him?" What can it mean in John 20:22? Certainly not the Person of the Holy Spirit, for He was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39).
The Church soon became corrupt, and before the Canon of Scripture was complete it had lost the true teaching concerning
- The "Mystery" (or secret) concerning the Body of Christ, the Church of God;
- Justification on the principle of faith alone; and
- The work of the Holy Spirit.
At the Reformation, the second of these was partially recovered. Some sixty years ago the first was recovered, but was speedily perverted; while the third has never been fully or properly recovered. Where is the Commentary on the Romans in which "the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" and the "spirit of adoption" (i.e. Sonship spirit) is not confounded with the indwelling of and with the Person of the Holy Ghost?
All modern sects and all modern spiritual movements have in each case added some new and distinct form of false teaching concerning the Holy Spirit's work to their special and peculiar errors.
Yet the truth of God remains, and the Word is still the Spirit's sword.
ennomoV Cristou* (ennomos Christou), "under the Law to Christ," 1 Cor 9:21
* The word ennomoV occurs twice (here and Acts 19:39, lawful), but this phrase only once.
This is another difficult expression. One thing is certain, viz., that there is no article with either of the two words "Law" or "Christ," and that there is nothing about "the" Law. The RV omits the article, and renders "under law to Christ." Another thing is certain, viz., that there is no "to." The word Cristou is in the genitive case, and not the dative (according to all the critical texts).
Gentile Christians are very anxious to put themselves under "the Law." But God has never put them there. The Law was given by God to Israel by the hand of Moses. Gentile Christians have never thus been put under that Law. Indeed, as a Jew, Paul declares distinctly of himself and his Jewish brethren in Christ, Romans 7:6 (following the AV margin), "Now we are delivered from the Law, being dead to that wherein we were held"; or, as in RV, "having died to that wherein we were held," i.e. as Jews they had, in Christ, died to the Law, and on resurrection ground their old husband had no more claim upon them.
Then in 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21, he says, "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law as under the Law." Here there is an important sentence dropped out by a later scribe, but it is found in all the ancient versions and critical texts, and it is restored in the RV—"NOT BEING MYSELF UNDER THE LAW!" Then he goes on to continue his argument: "to them that are without Law as without Law" ( being not anomoV Qeou, but ennomoV Cristou); or, being not an outlaw of God, but a subject-of-the-Law of Christ; or, being not destitute of Divine Law, but under Christ's Law; i.e. though I am not under the Law of Moses, I am under a law of God. How? I am under obedience to the commandments of Christ! As much as to say, If I keep Christ's commandments what law shall I break? None! For if I walk in the love of Christ I shall fulfil the Law of Moses (Rom 13:10). If I walk in love I shall "fulfil the Law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).
The conclusion therefore is, that Gentiles who never were under the "Law," and Israelites who were, if they are both "in Christ," are not under the Law of Moses, but are under obedience to the commandments of Christ, which are far higher and far holier. The passage therefore does not prove that Gentiles or Christians are under the Law, but are "freed from the Law."
Another phase of this great subject is where
ONLY ONE WORD
is employed to denote a certain thing, though that word may be used and occur many times.
The Hebrew noun for Truth is a remarkable illustration of this. Many are the words used for deceit and lies, (see above) but there is only one word for truth. God's truth is one! Man's lies are almost infinite! The word tme)v (Emeth) means firmness and stability, perpetuity, security. This is what God is. This is exactly what man is not! Man is altogether vanity. "All men are liars" (Psa 116:11). "His mouth is full of cursing, deceit [Heb. pl., deceits], and fraud; under his tongue is ungodliness and vanity" (Psa 10:7). "They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and a double heart do they speak" (Psa 12:2).
Truth is found only in the Word of God, in Christ, who says of Himself, the living Word, "I am the truth" (John 14:6); and of the written Word, the Scriptures, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
Truth is heard only in the Word of God. It is taught only by Jesus. Hence it is written (Eph 4:20,21), "Ye have not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard HIM, and have been taught by HIM, as the truth is in Jesus." These last words are generally misquoted, as though they said, "the truth as it is in Jesus." But this is quite a different thing! This implies that there is some truth to be found apart from Jesus! No, it says, "even as the truth is in Jesus" (RV), i.e., in Him, and no where else. By nature all men are like Jacob. He was a deceiver, and in attempting to gain his blessings by deceit, he brought sorrows and troubles upon himself. Those blessings which God designed for him were, and will be, wrought by the "God of truth," as it is written, "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob" (Micah 7:20).
The Rabbins have pointed out that man being pure falsehood, God appointed him to death, that with the fear of death before his eyes he might be pious and learn the truth. Hence out of the word tm) (Emeth) they made (by the rule of Notricon or Acrostic) three words:
) standing for Nwr) (Aron), "a coffin"
m standing for h+m (Mittah), "a bier"
t standing for Mykyrkt (Tachreecheem), "shrouds"
Hence they taught that the death of God's saints was "precious in the sight of the LORD" (Psa 116:15), for only in resurrection can he know what he has lost, viz., the image of God, and thus "Truth shall spring out of the earth" (Psa 85:11).
But a more simple fact concerning this remarkable word is this, that the first letter, Aleph ()), is the first letter of the alphabet; the middle letter, Mem (m), is in the middle of the alphabet; while the last letter, Tau (t), is the last letter of the alphabet. As much as to say to us, that the Word of the LORD is altogether truth. From beginning to end every letter and every word expresses, and contains, and is the Truth of God. While Jesus is Himself the Alpha and the Omega,* the first and the last, the beginning and the ending of the ways, and works, and words of God (Rev 1:8,17).
* These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
We must distinguish between Emeth, truth, and Emmunah, which means "faithfulness";* and also Aman, Nma)af (Ahman), which is from a different root, and as an adverb means truly, certainly, and as an adjective firm or faithful. It is from this that the Latins derived their word omen and ominous, because they firmly believed in their omens. How much more should we believe that to which we put our Amen, when we use this selfsame word.
* Hab 2:4. The righteous man believes God, and lives in the firm expectation that what God has said He will perform. Hence his faith is the proof and evidence that God has justified him, and it is thus counted to him for righteousness. Hab 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament, viz., Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11 and Heb 10:38. number05.htm
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