Notes of Readings on 1 Corinthians
Expository - Volume 5
THE first epistle to the Corinthians consists of details more than of great truths, and therefore not so much has been written on it. Sosthenes is associated with Paul, as having laboured there, where he had also been chief ruler of the synagogue; Acts 18. The association of others does not hinder the sole authorship of Paul. So, in addressing the Galatians, he speaks of "all the brethren which are with me," because he was showing that the whole church of God was against them.
Verse 2 brings to view the roots of the main question of the church of God, two classes of persons being taken up there. This gives importance to the epistle. "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." Those that call on the name of the Lord Jesus are professors, assumed to be faithful till they went or were put out, not necessarily the body of Christ but the house of God. The assembly in Corinth, as elsewhere, is recognized as representing the church there. They were not born like the nation of Israel, but saints by call; sanctified in Christ Jesus, not after an external sort merely. The universality of the application is carefully maintained, its divine claim over all Christians everywhere. The direct address is to the Corinthian assembly, but the apostle takes in all the Christian profession elsewhere. He addressed them as saints, and I have no doubt that he considered them truthful, unless they were proved hypocrites. But calling is professional simply; just as John says that whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him; but of hypocrites this would not be true. Though there might be hypocrites there, they would be characterized as of the church of God at Corinth. It is not what my judgment of individuals may be, but the statement of what their character is in such a place. There may be, and there was, an assembly of God in Corinth; and the apostle treats them as sanctified in Christ Jesus; then the rest as calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is a different thing from sanctified in Christ Jesus. Though a man who calls on the name of the Lord, unless he be a hypocrite, is sanctified, yet the calling on the name of the Lord does not give him title as such to be styled “sanctified in Christ Jesus."
The epistle is addressed to the church of God with all that call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is, generally, till chapter 1o, to the house of God; after that, to the body specifically. There is a different state of things now. If men take the name of the Lord, they are bound by all that is written to such; but it does not follow that Paul would have written such a letter to them now, nor do I believe he would. He gives meat in due season. He would have to do with what is practically fallen away from the truth, and he would not deal with this as with a body of persons like those gathered in Corinth. As yet we have not the fact that false brethren had crept in. "Sanctified in Christ Jesus" is not the same thing as "sanctified by blood" in Hebrews, but quite different ideas; the latter not necessarily rising beyond external consecration, though, where faith is, it consecrates to God.
In Eph. 4 the distinction re-appears more definitely, which we have seen in 1 Corinthians already. First, "one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling "; next, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," the wider circle of profession; and then the largest of all, “one God and Father of all," etc., returning to the intimacy of His children "who is in you [or 'us'] all." So the apostle, in Acts 17, quotes a Greek poet, "for we are also his offspring." Compare also Eph. 3:15, "Every family"; and Adam was thus called son of God. It is not, of course, the spiritual bearing of the name; it is used as here naturally. At the time when the epistle was written, all that bore the Lord's name were looked at as true believers, unless proved to the contrary. It is wholly different now; and Paul would not have written to them as to the Corinthians, though professors are now bound by what he then wrote, because they make the profession.
We shall find another thing in the epistle: that the consequence of the association in verse 2 is, that the local church has taken the standing of the whole body. It will come out more in chapter 12; but in associating all professors of Christianity with the church at Corinth, he deals with them as they stand, upon the ground of the body of Christ, though only a local assembly.
It is striking to see how the apostle, after the salutation in verse 3, takes up all that he saw to be good, as a testimony to their reality, before he begins to deal with the evil (v. 4-9). “Ye come behind in no gift." There was gift, but very little grace. “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you "; “In everything ye are enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge." They had the truth and power to communicate it. They were waiting also for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; not exactly His “coming," nor more (I think) than that He is hidden as yet. There is nothing about the rapture here, nor the judgment. In Heb. 10:26 it is the stronger word, meaning complete knowledge, or, as often elsewhere, recognition. Peter, in his second epistle (chap. 1: 5-8), uses the two words. A speculative mind might learn all ever so accurately, without faith or renewal.
The testimony is said to be "of Christ" here, "of God" in chapter 2:1; because it is, not another testimony, but another way of looking at the same. Here it is personal to Christ. Christ's testimony confirmed in you is the testimony of God brought to you. You give a different name to a thing from the different feeling you have about it. In chapter 2: I he did not bring what was human, because it was the testimony of God; and he determined not to know anything among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Words are used, but really with the power of them. He did not come with man's wisdom and man's speech to bring God's testimony; but it was the testimony of Christ all the same. The great thing is to see why he uses a word, not that it is a different thing necessarily, but why that particular word comes in. It is God's testimony, not man's.
It is striking, I think, that the apostle addresses them here as "sanctified," enriched with gift, etc., and also says they shall be confirmed to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; but then he goes on to blame them for everything. They had got testimony to their place in Christ by the gifts, etc. They had the Holy Ghost in consequence of their faith in Christ, and then he reckons on God's faithfulness; so that there is a point of departure from which he can deal with them. Many were to be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus; how be so blameable now?
Verses 8, 9 are exceedingly important. He had the hope that they were saints in a general way; then he casts them on God's faithfulness; so that they would be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one of the blankest cases of the perseverance of the saints (not happily, but commonly so-called); for, at that time they were going on exceedingly ill, yet there he introduces that they would be not safe but blameless. This he connects with the faithfulness of God. Jesus Christ will confirm you to the end, and God is faithful by whom ye were called.
“Fellowship of his Son," which follows just after, means having a part together, and with Christ (koinonia) and in the blessings that are with Him. Partaking (metokee) is not communion (koinonia), which last is a closer thing. I partake of a thing, and in that measure have it in common with another. It is more in the character of communication. For instance in Heb. 2:14 we have the difference in an important case. "Forasmuch, then, as the children were partakers of [kekoinoneken] flesh and blood [because we all had it, it is all in common], he also himself likewise took part [metesken], of the same." Some misused it to teach that He took sinful flesh, which is nowhere said; but Christ did take flesh and blood. In Luke 5 the two words are used in a general way. "They beckoned to their partners "[metokois], v. 7, while [koinonoi], v. 10, shows they had common share, with nothing very definite for distinction. Words are used sometimes in a less, sometimes in a more, definite sense. We use a great number of words which have merely a different shade of meaning without an intention of making a difference. You might say, They both live in the same place, or in the same locality, but you do not mean another thought. Locality is the more general term. So going shares or partnership might have a shade of difference.
The first thing we come to is definite: "I beseech you that ye all speak the same thing," etc. (v. 10-12). Then we have the character of the preaching of the gospel, that what is foolishness to man is what God has taken to put down flesh, the foolishness of preaching, and the shame of the cross to bring everything to naught by it. It is hard to keep steadily before your mind that, if you want to do God's work, you must have what the world will not have; and it is so, that no flesh should glory in His presence. It pleased God, when in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Otherwise it would have been man's wisdom, that is, in the power of his mind.
I do not believe that a single thought of God ever enters into man's mind by intellect. It is always by conscience, not by intellect. There is faith, and there is love; but conscience is the topknot, as you call it. And in that way all the philosophy of man goes at once. The fact is, God is not in His place at all if my mind sets to work to judge about Him. It is when I say, “I am a poor sinner, and I believe in God," that God has His right place, even if my heart is wrong; still the conscience is that which directly owns the claims of God. There is no knowledge of God in intellect.
Responsibility comes in thus. God is revealed, and the moment there is a revelation, it is revealed that I may receive ideas which my mind of itself cannot take up; but if I have received an idea, I am responsible to be found in the right place by it. If I have the idea that you are my child, I am responsible to act as your father; but the mind is incapable of forming an idea of God, and that is where the philosophers have all gone wrong. They say the mind can form an idea without man's conscience, but it cannot: though it does not follow that God cannot reveal it to him. It is the supposition that the power within us is the measure of all that we can be apprehensive of. This I deny altogether; it is a total mistake. Suppose a poor old woman, and a strong man gives her his arm, that would not be power in her.
If there comes a revelation of God, there is the responsibility to receive it, but it does not follow that my mind could have formed the idea. In these days it is well to be clear as to this. The worst kind of infidelity says, "Man can have no idea beyond his senses, and a few original deductions which he may draw." I reply, All true; but that leaves you as ignorant of God as an animal. Do not pretend that there is nothing outside of yourself, and here comes in revelation. Like the woman in John 4, conscience has to be reached from without: "If thou knewest the gift of God." The woman says in effect, "What of that?” And then how does Christ deal with her? "Go, call thy husband, and come hither," and this arrests her. Real intelligence of God is in the conscience. I do not say the heart may not be drawn.
As to the distinction between "conscience" and "heart," the affections are in the heart, and conscience is my responsibility for right and wrong. You may have natural feelings moved like the women of Jerusalem beating their breasts because someone was going to be put to death; but what detects the work of God is when these two go together. You may meet with natural conscience alone, which is much like Judas, who went and hanged himself. God is light and love, and if He reveals Himself, you need have both. Where the light comes and deals with the conscience, the love attracts the heart, and both are moved. Thus Peter went to Christ and said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Why did he go to Christ at all? So I say, “I am a guilty sinner," when the light comes in; and where the work is of God, it is accompanied by the attraction of love. There may be much of natural feeling which is of no value. Just as in a time of the cholera raging, there is excitement enough in the terror of the moment; but the cholera goes, and all that goes too.
The heart is used for all sorts of feeling. What is described in the prodigal son is that he began to be in want. That proves nothing but that the soul was originally made to be fed. He had not yet come to himself; but the effect of beginning to be in want, when God had not revealed Himself, was that he went farther and farther away. So it is with every man who goes thoroughly into the world until he gets tired of it. Coming to himself may follow a remorse.
The conscience may be reached by Satan. Man commits murder, and it has passed into a proverb, “Murder will out." That is conscience. Man got it at the fall, and carries it with him. Adam had no knowledge of good and evil, but was subject to God's authority, and for that reason the thing imposed upon him in the garden was neither good nor evil in itself except by the command. Now we have the sense of wrong. If a child only six months old slaps his mother, he knows it is wrong. Conscience may be defined as my own mind judging of good and evil as God does. That is why it is such a totally false thing to make it a law. A law is a thing imposed upon a person, whereas the essence of conscience is that I discern between good and evil in myself, and that becomes a law to me. Law is imposed by a lawgiver, as God does. In the garden Adam was going against subjection to God: “thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife."
As to the difference between wisdom and understanding (v. 19) in English, wisdom is the attempt to use what a man has learned, but you could hardly call it that in Greek. We may say that the understanding of the prudent is more the character of discernment, whereas wisdom is acquaintance with truth more. In the Hebrew a great many more words are used for wisdom than we have in English. In Isa. 29 (verse 14 quoted here), the prophet is taking up the case of Christ's coming. He had taken up Sennacherib and that leads him on, and he launches out into the Assyrian of the last day. That is how the prophets speak, and that is what Peter means by “of no private interpretation." You cannot take up a few words without the connection. In Isa. 33 the whole scheme is developed. Verse 20 is a quotation from Isa. 33:18, which follows, “Thine eye shall see the king in his beauty ": sinners are afraid, and then he says, Where is the wisdom of man? Here they were ' counting up the towers ' and so on; but to what purpose after all?
The “foolishness of preaching" (v. 21) is more the way of doing it, the means, but it also takes in the thing preached: you cannot separate them here. The “power of God” (v. 24) is not exactly the same as “kept by the power of God." In the latter it is more absolutely in Himself, and Christ is the one in whom it is all deposited; but when you speak of “Christ the power of God," it is more the means by which it is brought out. In the one case it is “unto salvation” because righteousness of God is revealed in it: there is power of God in it to save us.
The expressions “foolishness of God," and ”weakness of God" (v. 27) are used merely to put the thing in the strongest way. For instance, death is weakness: “crucified in weakness "; yet everything of man was set aside by it, and in that sense the weakness of God. It is the setting up of God absolutely. The weakness of God was the gospel, that is, as man would speak of it; and foolishness as man looks at it. And God chose that-took it on purpose, though to man it was merely someone hanging on a gibbet, and yet God was glorified in it. As to “things which are not" (v. 28), out of death is a thing which is not, but the apostle takes it as an extreme case in the whole scene of God in Christendom. God has brought to naught all of heathenism and Judaism.
At the end of our chapter we get the fuller expression of what a Christian is: "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," v. 3o. Not wisdom in the mind being acted upon and so I am wise about God, but "of him," that is of God, “are ye in Christ Jesus." I am of God, and I have my wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption of God, all in Christ. I am of God in Christ, and have all there of God in Christ. It comes from Him; it is not my thinking about Him. And so man is totally set aside, flesh is put down. The world by wisdom was not to know God, but I am in Christ as a new being, a new creature, created again; and I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption all in Christ. These verses are a remarkably complete statement of what a Christian is, with full redemption itself at the end, body and all.
Here it is the measure and character and fullness of sanctification; it is not legal nor outward, but what is in Christ. It is practical: sanctification always is, except in Hebrews. We have the nature and the quality of it. If we look at Christ we see what sanctification is. People talk of its being imputed, but that is absurd. Think of the absurdity of talking about imputed redemption! But in Christ all these things are real to me. I say, what wisdom I have! Am I a Platonist? No, Christ is my wisdom. Righteousness is imputed; the term is applicable, but you do not get it in this passage. What sanctification I have! Christ and redemption too when it is all complete in glory. It was all accomplished, but is not yet in its full effect.
As to the order of the words, I take it that wisdom is separated somewhat because that is what the apostle has been talking about. This was not man's wisdom: God had chosen the foolish things of the world, and so on; and then he brings out that Christ is made unto us wisdom, laying a little more emphasis on wisdom. There is a question of different text here, I know, and very likely it may be taken as, "who is made unto us wisdom of God "; but that only gives an emphatic character to it, and there is no real difference. Redemption comes in at the end as the full complete thing. The difference between ek and apo (v. 3o) is that, when we say we are "of God," it is positive life; the other is ' from,' on God's part; whereas we derive our life and nature from God by the Spirit's quickening power. In John 3 it is ek: "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," etc.
In chapter 2 we have the apostle's use of what precedes, and it is remarkable how he sets man aside altogether, and then takes the ground, that when he came to this wise people he knew nothing but the cross, and not only this, but that, looked at as a man, he was in weakness himself, and in fear, and in much trembling. He has only the foolishness of the cross, and his speech and preaching are not with man's wisdom, that their faith might stand in the power of God.
In the first five verses we have Paul coming to sinners-his way with these wise ones. There was neither excellency of speech nor wisdom to man's eye. It is not strictly the cross of Christ but Jesus Christ, the positive fact of preaching Christ; and then he takes Christ in the lowest and most degraded way, Christ and Him crucified. The preaching of the cross is not exactly the same thing, but the point is that he was not reasoning philosophy with them but preaching Christ and then, if you take up Christ, it is in this way, as crucified man.
It is difficult for us, used as we are to look upon the cross as redemption, to feel what the effect was on a number of philosophers, what it was to go and say, There was a man gibbeted in; trust him. To man it was the grossest folly that could be. And see, it is Jesus Christ, His Person here, He crucified. He adds, "which none of the princes of this world knew," or "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory," v. 8. Because He was that, you get His Person, and not merely the fact of the cross. And it is a very strong thing to put before man; it is what wrote folly on their wisdom and on the grandeur of this world.
The moment man is a sinner, it is another thing altogether; and, the infinite love of God coming in and speaking to man as man, what comes of all grandeur and of all wisdom and of all else? The whole of man in flesh is swept away by it. All that flesh could glory in is there totally put an end to. There is no kind of fleshly glory in the cross whatever. It was God's wisdom to do this: no dignity, no heroism, but shame, reproach, ignominy, and death; it is all of man brought down to where nothing could be found-no, not a stone to put his foot on, to keep it out of the water. None but slaves were put upon the cross, and this is what God takes up to bring the world to nothing, first to nothing in judgment, and to nothing too, when we know He is in glory.
Then it brings forth God, man put out and God brought in. The moment I get that side, I have the Lord of glory, divine righteousness, divine wisdom. "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world that come to naught: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." First, he brings the cross to man in every shape and way, and when he has done that, he says, I have crucified you, and am coming to tell you what God is in doing so.
"Them that are perfect" in verse 6 are those that are brought by the cross into this new condition with God; it really is in resurrection if you come to examine it. They are grown men in that condition. What the apostle is looking at here is a person who had the flesh put down with death written on all; all brought into God's presence and all the world put an end to; there is a new state of things altogether; the beginning of the new creation; what the Holy Ghost reveals and the Lord of glory. It is that the person is brought into the state that the cross brings into. You do not begin expounding blessedness and glory to a person who wants his conscience reached; but the contrast here is the world and the man who has been brought out of the flesh into God's place of blessing in the new creation. "Perfect" is in contrast with carnal and babes in chapter 3: I; it is the full-grown man. Judaism was flesh in that sense of the word: "as unto babes in Christ" is another thing. You have three things, carnal men, natural, and spiritual men. You may meet a person you cannot concur with because, though having the Holy Ghost, his practical state is "carnal," yet not "natural."
In Galatians the apostle says, "the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all "; but here he is talking of Christianity in so low a state that he could not talk with them of certain things. As to knowledge they were "perfect," but in practical state he could not deal with them as such. I believe there are real Christians who are not perfect in this sense. If one does not know the forgiveness of his sins, he has not the consciousness of his new standing and is not perfect. The apostle is here speaking of their standing, he is taking up the question of those who had God's wisdom instead of man's. When he came to sinners, he preached Christ crucified; and when he had people in a Christian state, he speaks of all the fruits in glory. When he says, "Ye are carnal," it is the particular state of certain Christians who ought to be up to the measure of their standing, but are not.
"The wisdom of God in a mystery" (v. 7) is all that is unveiled of His counsels in Christ; everything that God has done in Christ. If they had seen all the glory of God in Christ, they would not have hung Him on the cross. They crucified the Lord of glory, but they would not have done it, had they known. Verses 9 and 10 are in contrast with the Jewish state of things, “it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." There you get the Jew, the prophet declaring that it had not entered into man's heart; "but God hath revealed these things unto us." In the Old Testament these things were not revealed, but now they are. He is speaking of the whole Christian condition and not of the state of the individual, and he takes up the Christian therefore in his full character, and not in his gradual progress, or in his faulty want of development. Verse 9 is often quoted as of present application to the Christian, but the apostle is quoting it to show what is not the Christian state; for to us God has revealed these things by His Spirit.
In verse 10, etc., you get three distinct steps: the Spirit of God revealing, whether to Paul or others; then the Spirit of God communicating what was revealed; and last, the receiving by the Spirit. The Holy Ghost in us searches all things; there is nothing hid. The prophets searched "what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify "; having the Spirit they began searching out. It is the Spirit in us who searches. There is a power of the Holy Ghost to give all the counsels of God. You find elsewhere that the Spirit of God is identified with the person He dwells in. He makes intercession for the saints to God; Rom. 8. I have not the word only, but the Spirit within me, and the mind of the Spirit according to God.
As to man, what man knows the things passing in his mind? Only the spirit of the man knows; now we have the Spirit of God, and He knows the things of God, and therefore we know them. Paul then goes on to unfold this. It was revelation to Paul and communication by Paul in the words of the Spirit, and the reception spiritually by spiritual men. To this we may add having the mind of Christ, which should be common to all Christians. There is what I have somewhere lately called the intelligent and the intelligible. The intelligent is capacity without a thought, but add the intelligible and you have the thought as well as the mind. So we have revelation first; then the words were adequate; and then the third thing that through the Spirit I receive it. I know people talk about inspiration, and of Shakespeare being inspired and so on; it is all very well, but did such men have a revelation-a positive new thing from God? The first thing is revelation; what is called inspiration is not so clear. It is possible I may have a revelation from God and never say a word about it. Paul had a revelation and told us nothing about it. Inspiration is an ambiguous word altogether, and people may be deceived by it; but when it comes to a positive revelation, men know they have no place at all in that. Then the Holy Ghost forms the communication too. It is like a fountain, the water is the same, and it comes out as it went in.
I do not think "comparing" in verse 13 is right at all. It is "communicating" spiritual by spiritual; he has the Holy Ghost's words and communicates the Holy Ghost's words, and that whether he be writing or preaching. There may be things which I am quite sure of, but which I may put in a way that is not the Holy Ghost's way. When Paul was preaching, it was not "comparing" at all. "We speak not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." In speaking I speak as from God, or else I ought to hold my tongue. "If any man speak; as oracles of God." This does not mean according to scripture, but as from God; of course it will be according to scripture, but that is not the thing there. This strikes at everything that is of man. "He himself is judged of no man," in verse 15, is man as man in contrast with the Holy Ghost.
In the last verse we have the same contrast with the Old Testament: "For who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" and in answer to the challenge of the prophet it is, "but we have the mind of Christ." If I have Christ's mind, I have the thoughts that are in it and all that is included. We have not the divine mind abstractedly, but we have the Holy Ghost dwelling in us; and then comes all the revelation of the mystery.
I must bring the cross to a poor sinner whoever he is. A person's cleverness will not answer in the day of judgment; the cross is the answer of divine wisdom. Suppose he had made all the telegraphs in the country, when he is dead, what becomes of them to him? God will give you, not cleverness in your mind, but the Holy Ghost, and the truth of God, and the mind of Christ. John says, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." And there is no part of God's counsels that is not now brought into light. As to this the intelligent and the intelligible go together; with us creatures, you cannot get the capacity without the thought.
Chapter 2 speaks of preaching Christ crucified to them, and chapter 3 deals with Christians. In chapter 3 it is his second visit to them. The carnal state was not going on while he was there. I do not think he had been twice to Corinth when he wrote this epistle. He wrote this from Ephesus, and the second from Macedonia, when he had sent Titus with the first. Although he says, "This is the third time I am coming to you," he does not say he had been. He had meant to come by Macedonia unto Corinth, but they were in such a state that he would not go. I do not think that he had been there more than once. In verse I he says, I "could not speak unto you as unto spiritual," and still he could not. "I have fed you with milk and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." "Hitherto" gives the time all the way along, he could not bring these things before them.
God had said, "I have much people in this city," but God makes communication to hearts ready to receive them. It was so with Mary Magdalene, her heart clings thoroughly to Christ: the disciples go home, but she stays, and she communicates to the eleven our highest privileges at this moment, and that is because she was thinking about Christ. “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Such is the message He gives her; it is the first time we have so full a statement. It was the personal affection of her heart set on Him through the attractive power of grace. So with the woman in the city that was a sinner. So with Mary that sat at His feet and heard His word. She comes and anoints Him for His burial. You will always find the apprehension of the mind of Christ flows from personal attachment to Himself. These people at Corinth were fond of their show-gifts and of themselves, therefore they could not be carried forward. "He that planteth and he that watereth" (v. 8) are merely instruments in God's hands-ministers of what God gave; they may be and are distinct in their labours, but are only ministers. One plants and another waters, and everyone shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. But they were all one as instruments in God's hand who gave the increase; yet the Lord owned their labour to each.
Then we come to another important truth, though it is only the outside now; he goes farther in the second epistle. We have the outward house here. There is a difference between Christ's building and man's building, even where the men were God's ministers. In these days it is a very important distinction where church questions have come in from Rome to brethren, if you please, on all hands. Christ says, “Upon this rock will I build my church ": there I have Christ's building. Of course Satan cannot prevail against that, but it is not all built yet, for it is going on; and therefore Peter, who alludes to it (1 Peter 2:4, 5), does not give anybody at work; and so Paul says, "groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord." There it is Christ building, but here it is man working; and directly we see responsibility we have possible failure. "Let every man take heed how he buildeth." That never could be said of what Christ is building. But what has been done by the system of popery and all church doctrine is to identify with Christ's building, that which is connected with man's building. Against His work the gates of hell shall not prevail; whereas, when it is the thing set up on earth, we have “let every man take heed how he buildeth," where he does not say the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In Eph. 2:22 it is not man's building; there is nothing of man in Ephesians, but just the counsels of God. In chapter 3 we have the apostle as the instrument of the communication, but it is God's counsels and work to bring us into Christ, and so on. The church is the house as well as the body. In what Paul began to build there is wood, hay, and stubble, and that is wider than the body. The house built by Paul supposes wood, hay, and stubble built in, and there are both doctrines and professors; for if a man professes, he professes something.
In the apostle's days the house built by man may have been co-extensive with the body, but we read of false brethren creeping in very early. At first "the Lord added," and there it was co-extensive. When the three thousand were added, they were for certain all real; they were co-extensive as a fact, though not the same idea. Then there was the trusting of God's building in the world to man's responsibility. It had been the same with the law, the same with the priesthood, the same with the government. God set up everything first in man's responsibility, and all fails; but all will be accomplished in the Second Man in power-in rule and priesthood in Melchisedec, the true son of David.
A man may build with doctrines. We are not going to learn doctrines in the great day: they are used now, and you cannot separate these things. A good man may be a good builder, and all be well; but a good man may be a bad builder, and be saved, while his works are burnt up. The bad who corrupts is burnt up-he himself is destroyed. It is an amazing thing to see that there is a church-building going on upon earth which is not Christ's building. Whenever there is anything for man to do, there comes the question of his doing it properly. Philip brought in Simon Magus, and there was man's building along with the good work which Christ was doing.
The "day" (v. 13) has always to do with judgment. It is the day that tries the work; it is simply and entirely judgment. The day shall be revealed in fire which shall try people's work; that will no doubt happen when Christ is revealed. But the object in speaking of His revelation in contrast with having the Spirit and gifts now (chap. 1: 8), is totally different from this, where it is expressly judgment. I may think of both, and of my appearing in glory too. The work might be tested any day, but, as stewards of the mystery of Christ, when that day comes, God will make manifest the counsels of their hearts.
In verse 16, we have “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" Here it is a collective thing-" ye are." The temple is the habitation in which God dwells. In Eph. 2 the apostle says, "groweth unto a holy temple." In Ephesians it is a thing of God's work and therefore perfect, whereas here it is a present thing-what is actually on earth. When discriminating so, there are certain things you must take into account.
Language in scripture is used about people fitly, and you cannot take them otherwise. If you did, it would be misapplied truth. There is meat in due season as well as good meat. If I gave meat to a babe six months old, I should choke it.
Though wood, hay, and stubble are built in it, it continues the temple of God. Our Lord said, "Ye have made my Father's house a den of thieves "; but suppose I should go and say, as a general thing, "My Father's house is a den of thieves," it would be very inaccurate. Until God judge a system, it remains in the responsibility in which He originally set it. Apostasy has not yet come in; it may be commencing a little now, perhaps, the spirit of it is at work; but positive apostasy is the giving up the name of Christ. In 1 Timothy he says, "Some shall depart from the faith"; and so they did. I think it took place immediately: but that is a different thing; it is only "some," a matter of individuality.
We must not confound building with wood, hay, and stubble, and defiling the temple. In the former, the man builds upon the foundation, whatever he builds with, and he himself is saved, though building (it may be) with foolish doctrine. The other was positively seeking to corrupt the temple of God itself with false doctrine. A Christian may introduce bad doctrine, and still be saying there is no Saviour but Christ. If he teaches perfection in the flesh, that must be burnt up. Going to convert the world is wood, hay, and stubble, although we ought to have done it. But the man who is seeking to defile brings in fatal errors, and he is not a Christian. I do not know of any Christian who has done this, though it is possible that a person may propagate what he has learned and been deceived into, and thus become an instrument of Satan for defiling the temple; to “defile," and to “corrupt," and to “destroy," are the same here. But the Gnostics were defilers; Socinians are such. A Christian may be snared into it, it is true, and he then becomes an agent of Satan in the flesh.
This chapter is a remarkably beautiful working of the apostle's heart, but with no particular subject in it. "Ye are full, ye are rich; ye have reigned as kings without us." This, in a sense, is written in irony, but all is of exceeding interest; v. 8-13.
"I know nothing by myself" (v. 4), means I know nothing against myself as an accusation. It is an old English form which was familiar enough two hundred years ago; you will find it in Bishop Hall's writings, though quite obsolete now. "Yet am I not hereby justified," means that that does not clear me, for the Lord judges or examines me. "Then shall every man have praise of God" (v. 5) does not mean that every man will have praise, but that the praise would be of God. When God makes manifest the counsels of the heart, some will get praise; this indeed will be worth something, but now it is all a mere nothing.
"Who maketh thee to differ?" (v. 7) is, If anyone has more gift than another, where does it come from? It all came from God. One was saying, I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos, but the apostle says to such, It is all yours; and if one is greater than another, who made him to differ? Just as John says, “A man can receive nothing except it be given him from above."
From verse 14, though he bears everything, he lets them know he has power and warns them. Some said he was not coming, but he was, and he would show the value of their speech. He does assert his power, though very gently, and indeed he was afterward afraid he had said too much. "My ways in Christ" (v. 17) are the ways in which he conducted himself among the saints, as "I teach everywhere in every church." "The kingdom of God," v. 20. He preached the kingdom of God, as elsewhere he says, "Ye all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God." He was the minister of the kingdom of God, the minister of the new covenant, and the minister of the church.
Now we come to their faults and to discipline. "Commonly reported" means that it was a generally known thing. The first thing we may note is the apostolic power of delivering to Satan. He had judged that, because he could bind on earth: it was apostolic power. Its object, he states, was for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Properly there is no such thing now. If a person is now put out from fellowship, he is not delivered to Satan, though in result he might possibly come under Satan. I know nothing that is a denial of this, though there be no gift of such power. If a person is excluded, it is not delivery to Satan. That made me say he might come under Satan; he is liable to it. To be thrown out into Satan's world is not delivering him or committing him to it. I know of nobody but the apostle who had the power. If there is anybody now to do it, all well; but I do not know how. The church is not commanded to do it here. He says, I have judged already-to deliver such an one to Satan. This was his own act; he did not tell them to do so. He does tell them to put such an one out.
They had not been instructed as to exclusion and discipline; but still in mind and heart they ought to have been broken down: at the least they should have been humble and mourning, as we see in verse 2. If the state of the assembly is so infirm, or so divided, that they cannot act, it is bad indeed. The difficulty is, the tendency to produce division. If the power of the Spirit of God is not acting on our consciences, one takes up one thought, and another. That is what he means by "having a readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled," 2 Cor. 10:6. But here there was power to bring the matter on; he himself could come in in power, but he was afraid, lest Satan should make a split between him and them, and that is what he means when he says, he is not ignorant of Satan's devices. Then he tells them to purge out the old leaven, that ye may be anew lump, as ye are unleavened. You are not a new lump if you do not purge out the old leaven. God had made an unleavened thing, and they would lose their character by not acting upon it. You are not a new lump at all, if you do not put it away. "As ye are unleavened" is their standing, and you give your character up if you do not act.
If they were not united in the assembly, they should humble themselves. I have often said in preaching to sinners even, that a man who has been brought up in a dirty house does not feel that it is dirty; and so if half the assembly be as bad as the bad one, the assembly must be cast on the Lord and mourn, and therefore in verse 2 he does not say how it is to be done, but till “he be taken away from among you." They ought to have been before God about it, for they had not got directions what to do. But when they did get them, they acted. If there is a case of flagrant sin, and the assembly does not act, what then? Practically it is no assembly at all, if its will goes with the offense. If any sided with the evil-doer after the testimony of the Spirit of God had reached the conscience of the body, then he treated them as the evil-doer. The duty is all plain; if there is a wicked person, the assembly must put him out; and a person so put out is not looked at as a brother, and they cannot admonish him as a brother, and I could not have fellowship with him as a brother. Before action I should consult with the brethren only, but should call the assembly together to act. If one had a case like this, say, or that could not be mentioned to women, it should of course be done in a way not to be offensive. But if it is an assembly, the Lord is there, and you must prove yourselves clear in the matter. If the assembly will not put the evil out when it is a case of gross sin, I should have no more to say to it: they would not prove themselves clear.
Leaven is the thing that defiles and corrupts; and others were involved in it because they would not judge it. Suppose you commit a sin, and I treat it as all very well, and keep your company just the same; why, of course I should be known by the company I keep. The proverb is common enough. The leaven was there; and the apostle speaks to their consciences about it. If such a person left, you cannot put a man out if he is out, or has gone out deliberately; but I should announce that he is out. That is hardly putting out, it is his going out. I should say he has left under the charge of such a sin, and gone out of the way, and is outside until he clear himself. If a man has gone out of this room, I cannot put him out, but he is out. As to inquiry, a few brothers may engage in that, but you cannot have a judgment on an individual unless the assembly does it. It is very right that one, or two, or three should inquire into the facts; but any wise godly brethren may do that, and the conscience of the assembly must thereupon be brought into action. If only some act and put him out, the rest may say they did not do it, and their conscience is not clear.
You must take each case in detail by itself; if one go away so, he has left the assembly; and if he leaves it under a charge against him, he must clear the charge before he comes back. He cannot come back without the case being judged by the assembly. It may be investigated by brethren, but not judged. Further, it should be named, if it be a case of sin and guilt.
If a charge of fornication, say so; it is uncleanness; and if it was a public scandal, I should not be in any hurry to receive back. It is not a nice principle to talk about the honour of the assembly being involved; but the Lord's honour should come in. Yet, for the good of the individual, it should be done if the soul is really restored; though it be a strong case of public scandal, let him in again; never mind what people say. Here is one: A man overwhelmed with sorrow, and the apostle tells them to receive him, though it was such a scandal that its like was not even named among the Gentiles. A man may confess his fault, but this does not say his soul is restored. If it is a matter that nobody knows, and the man consults you and confesses all the fault, and is restored, you must judge whether it is a case for the assembly to deal with or not. If it is a matter between two brethren, the two might settle it. The "old leaven" is the leaven of the old nature; the "leaven of malice and wickedness" may be a more active expression. I am not to keep the feast with the old nature at work.
When a man is put out from the assembly, he nevertheless belongs to the house. It is like a naughty child turned out of the drawing-room; he belongs to the family still. Though the church cannot commit to Satan, to put away abides a positive duty. We have to obey. It is a commandment of the Lord. If you speak of delivery to Satan, it is a question of power. So far as the child's present position is concerned, he is outside the sitting-room; and until he behaves aright, he cannot be let in again.
Christ is sacrificed for us, and we are keeping the feast. That leads to the fact that unleavened bread was connected with the sacrifice by which redemption was wrought. No leaven was allowed in the house at all. Redemption is not an unholy thing. I must have sinlessness along with redemption. In the type you have bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and the Passover meat. Here we are keeping the passover, and we must not have leaven, for sin and Christ cannot go together. Intercourse in the main would cease between you and a person so put out. I might invite him to my house for conversation, to see if he were restored; but even that is a delicate thing to do. In my intercourse with him, it would be with the fullest sense that he had put himself at a distance. It would be really ungracious to him to let him feel at ease with me in the place he occupies. You must not weaken the action of the assembly.
Two might be put away together for the same thing, and one might be restored without the other, and received before the other, or dealt with differently. In withdrawing from another, 2 Thess. 3:6, I should treat him coolly. If he complained, I should say, It is quite right; there is my authority in scripture, and I must do so. Here in 1 Cor. 5:11, it says, “no, not to eat." I would not dine with such an one; I would give him to eat if he were hungry, but not eat with him. Take a wife whose husband is put out. It may seem awkward, but her action is not keeping company with him as a case of will; it is one of subjection to authority.
Matt. 18 is another thing; it is only an individual direction. If the church acted, it would be on another scripture. Refusal to make good a wrong after all these pains might be a ground for the church to put him out. Do you ask if such a brother might not keep the whole thing in his own bosom. That depends on the case. “Thou shalt not suffer sin upon thy brother." If it were merely the idea of a wrong, or he thought the brother was all right after some personal matter, he might say, I forgive you; but otherwise he would be doing him harm by not taking it up. Charityis a keen discerner in all such things. If it is merely personal, I have a title to forgive.
Verse 11 is not a list of those who are to be put out. There is no such list. This would leave a thief or a murderer in communion. How to know a covetous man may be hard; there are cases which are plain enough, but prudence in a family is so close on covetousness, that you can make no line, nor can you act on your own conscience with respect to a man that may be covetous. If a case arise, and the assembly is spiritual, the Lord will make it clear. You will find that where acongregation of saints is spiritual, what is false and hypocritical cannot last there any length of time at all. But you cannot put out any man until he has done something to act upon. He will deaden the meeting of course, but so does all that is wrong. After he is out, the assembly cannot deal with him, though perhaps an individual might in mercy. When he is humbled, we should seek to restore. I do not think there is the power to restore that there ought to be amongst us. If there were more spiritual power, there would be more actual power over the conscience.
It is sometimes a question, How long is the assembly to go on treating as a brother one whom they have admonished? Samuel mourned for Saul to the day of hisdeath. Some have been under rebuke, or outside for years. Such cases have arisen sometimes when young persons have been thrust forward into preaching, and had the flattery of women, etc. There ought to be an anxious desire for restoration of those put away. There must be holiness, but still a yearning of heart over such, a spirit that would induce brokenness on the offender's part. I am not conscious of any unfaithfulness as to dealing with evil, nor generally am I aware of hardness towards evil-doers.
Verse 5 shows that the ultimate end of discipline should be restoration. You deal with him as a member of Christ, and discipline him as such while he is within, and you put him outside that he might be broken down and brought in again. “Spiritual“ has a double character. If I say that man is very spiritual, it may mean he has spiritual apprehension of divine things, or it may be spoken of the assembly. There is a dealing with things and with the conscience of the assembly. The assembly is the first thing to prove themselves clear in the matter. “Them that sin rebuke before all” might be done sometimes when people are put out, instead of doing so. “Rebuke” is convict as well as reprove; convict is before all.
We come now to details of laxity as to going to law with unbelievers, to doing wrong instead of bearing it; and to the question of meats. Also he turns back to the great snare at Corinth, that is, its corruption through the flesh; and with that we get the individual as the temple of God.
It is very remarkable how, in the New Testament, the highest and most wonderful things of Christ are very often brought in and are approximated to ordinary life. Here they are said to be going to judge angels. The Spirit of God brings in the glories of another world and throws their light right into the commonest things here below. There is no other way of judging them like that. If he is telling a servant not to purloin, he gives the whole scope of Christianity for the motive in Titus 2:9-14. And here these Corinthians were for squabbling at law: “Why," says he, "you are going to judge the world, yea, angels!" So again, in contrast with fornication, he says, Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. It is the revelation of such motives brought to bear on everyday conduct that is so wonderful. Flesh is there, and you have to apply these elevated things to judge it. Chapter 12 in the second epistle is most striking that way, in the beginning Paul being caught up to the third heaven, and at the end bewailing the uncleanness among them. Here our very bodies are members of Christ being indwelt by the Holy Ghost.
The saints are to judge the world and the angels, when Christ comes again; in one sense all through the millennium, but in the main when He comes. Do not you know that? he says. They had, no doubt, been taught by him. Corinth was a dreadful place. When they wanted to say a man was living in luxury and debauchery, they called it Corinthianizing. It was a proverb, “Everybody cannot go to Corinth." And by these things the church was infected. There always is the tendency to be affected by the atmosphere which surrounds us. The habits of the world have a kind of power that must be felt if there is not a spiritual power to resist them.
In verse 5 he speaks to their shame; the smallest-that is, in spiritual power-ought to be able to judge the things that pertain to this life. And he tells them they ought rather to suffer wrong than go to law before the unbelievers. They were in a terrible state, they came behind in no gift, and they came forward in no grace. His object is to avoid suits between brethren. The Lord says, we are not to resist evil. It is a question of grace, though righteousness is in it. If I can keep Christ's character, I would rather do so than keep my cloak. It is more sorrowful for the heart to lose Christ's character than to lose the cloak.
The Old Testament saints will be associated with Christ in the judgment of the world. But the apostle is from time to time writing about the resurrection and the rapture, and he thinks only of those to whom he is writing. He does say, “that they without us shall not be made perfect," and our Lord speaks of Abraham and others sitting down in the kingdom of God. But Paul is writing to certain persons for a certain purpose and to suit them, so that, while other dogmas may be behind, but very few passages refer directly to them. You will find truth in scripture connected at one end with God, and at the other end with man; but if you cut these ends off, you will find you have got a dry stick instead of a plant. And as it is connected with man, in order to get at the mind of scripture you must put yourself in the place of the people the apostle is addressing and in that way look at it.
I believe the saints of the Old Testament will be there because I see “thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them," etc. (Rev. 20:4). You gather it from passages in that kind of way. No doubt they will be raised and will not be made perfect without us but with us. The “saints of the high places" in Dan. 7 are the slain remnant under the beast. To be on the thrones of judgment, I suspect, is the lowest part of the glory. So in Laodicea the overcomer is to sit upon the throne. No saint will miss that.
Mark here in verse 1, "and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." Sanctification is before justification; and when they come together, it is so habitually. You are sanctified to the blood of sprinkling; 1 Peter 1:2. Now I think scripture speaks as plainly as possible of progressive sanctification; but still, when you have sanctification and justification spoken of together as two things, sanctification comes first. The reason is that, if you put that last, you would have the man with a perfect title to heaven and yet unfit for it. But again you never find fitness for heaven connected with progressive sanctification. There is plenty of scripture about sanctification as to the fact, “growing up to him in all things," "purify himself even as he is pure, “these all show progress when I am a Christian, but are not connected at all with fitness for heaven. On the contrary you get “giving thanks to the Father who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," speaking of all Christians together. Then there is the poor thief who went straight to paradise; of course he was fit for it. Scripture is plain enough on progressive sanctification too: that is likeness to Christ here.
A man is set apart to God, like a stone in a quarry, and the Spirit of God takes him out; he is quickened by the Holy Ghost and put into the value of Christ's work. "Sanctified by blood” is in Hebrews; which is merely that now this covenant is brought in, for He died for the nation, and the blood of the covenant was shed, and God lays the ground for the people to come in under it; but if they did not, that lay with them. But 'sanctified to blood' (1 Peter 1:2) is by the Spirit of God. Sanctification of the Spirit is not in Hebrews at all, except that we have a glimpse of it in "follow after holiness." Having been washed in the passage we are considering is the development of the truth, speaking of the filth they were in. It is application of the word: "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you"; and he gives the character of that as being sanctified and justified. If “sanctified by God the Father” in Jude is right, the meaning is He did it in His counsels in grace.* You get no work without the whole Trinity. In the miracles of Christ He says, "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." “My Father worketh hitherto and I do work." Then “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils." So we are God's children, and have the life of Christ, and it is the Spirit of God we are quickened by.
Instead of the Trinity being some out of the way doctrine, it runs through the whole of the scriptures. Communion is with the Father, and with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost. Again in prayer "through him"—Christ—"we have access by one Spirit unto the Father." You first get it where it is so beautiful to me in the end of Matt. 3 There Christ is taking His place among the remnant and is baptized by John the Baptist-not that He needed repentance, of course. But then immediately you get heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost comes down, and the Father owns Him as the Son. And there I get my place as a Christian sealed with the Holy Ghost. I too am a son. Heaven is opened to me, and the Father owns me: and in all this I get the first full revelation of the Trinity, where Christ first takes our place in grace coming to fulfil righteousness: the first time heaven is opened: and here I get the place of a man in the counsels of God the first time the Son takes His place as a man. It is all the more striking because the next thing is that He takes the other side of our place: He is led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Christ at His baptism says 'us'; but though others came acknowledging their sins, He had none to acknowledge, He came fulfilling righteousness; He was taking His place with the excellent of the earth, and that runs all through, Christ taking His place with His disciples. It is here that the question is raised whether He was a good Jew. “Doth not your master pay tribute?” they mean, to the temple service. And Christ says, “Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute, of their own children or of strangers?” and when they say of strangers, He says, Then are the sons free. That is, they could not claim it of Him: “nevertheless, that we offend them not," He tells Peter to go to the sea and cast in a hook for a fish and in its mouth he should find a piece of money which he was to pay “for me and thee." He commands all the creation of God, and that very thing in which He shows divine knowledge and then divine power was the very thing in which He ranks Peter with Himself.
“Ye are washed" is the aorist middle in Greek, ("you have washed yourselves") constantly used in that way in a passive sense in the New Testament. What is commonly called passive in Hebrew is used as a reflective verb in the same way. As to “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God," the Greek preposition en is constantly used thus; but "by" would be better in both cases. When it is anything of power, we have en as is well known, not for instrumental meaning, but 'in virtue of.' You cannot take a word in one language as answering exactly to another in another language: you will make all sorts of confusion if you do. From the different relationships of words, it would have conveyed a different thought to a Greek from its circumstances, though it is the same word that is used in different positions. You get Paul passing over where he talks of honour and dishonour, from en to dia; that shows “by" is not quite identical; dia is the instrument, but en is not exactly that, but more intimate.
By all things lawful, not all expedient (v. 12), he means that there is no difference to him, but he will not allow anything to have power over him. The moment it governs, lust has power over him if it is only eating something nice. There are a number of details here next: meats for the belly, and the body not for fornication but for the Lord; also the Lord for the body. He has taken up the body as well as the soul, though He has not yet redeemed it out of its present state. It is for the Lord therefore and not for its own lusts. And what the Lord has done is, He has made it the temple of the Holy Ghost. It awaits its redemption in the sense of taking it into glory; my soul has the liberty of grace, and my body waits for the liberty of the glory, and all creation waits. Yet the body now belongs to the Lord, and He takes it for Himself, and the Holy Ghost dwells in it as a temple. "And in your spirits which are God's" in the last verse is a clause left out in all the best manuscripts.
When he says "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," it is with the thought of authority. It is the Lord Himself you are joined to; the person is none less than the Lord Himself. But one could not intelligently say "members of the Lord," because then you lose the thought of lordship. Jesus is the personal name: He was raised individually, and if God raised Him up, He will also raise up all His members; Rom. 8:11. On the other hand, "God shall destroy both it and them," means there will be an end of them. Its present state is all destroyed. The whole topic is clear and shows the absurdity of the thoughts of annihilationists. Man is redeemed, the spirit returns to Him who gave it: God having breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, man became a living soul. But then these are distinct things, the spirit (it is plain) being that higher part in which we are in some sort of connection with God. In 1 Thess. 5:23, the spirit is that by which we are connected with God. God formed man's body out of the dust of the earth-not so the animals- and then breathed into man, and so he became alive. Notice the way of doing it too, God taking counsel about it: He had finished the whole creation and pronounced it good, but He did not say so of man. He finished with the animals, and then He says, “Let us make man," and so on. Man might be at enmity to God, but still there is a relationship to Him, be it bad or good. Hence misery is final, supposing it to be misery, because man has a nature to be so. And thence too the poet says, “we are his offspring." Take the bad part of a man and you see it, the mind of the flesh is enmity against God: even when wicked and bad, he has to do with God. In ordinary language the two words-soul and spirit-are used for one another.
“From all filthiness of flesh and spirit," is simply contrasting body and spirit. I get my spirit sanctified in an amazing way when I love God. But then clearly the soul, if you come to make the difference, is the lower part: there is the dividing apart of soul and spirit, the word of God can come in and make the difference between the two. In one sense I have a soul like an animal, though very much higher in character. As I said to the annihilationists, any stupid child in the streets knows that, if you stick a man, and all his blood runs from his body, he will die just like a pig. There is that animal life. The first proposition in logic is 'man is an animal.' But if he becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus, of course his identity is preserved,-as to who, but not as to what he was before. If you say what he was before, it is not the same. The soul is morally changed because I love God instead of hating Him.
In the case of dying the connection of soul and body is lost for the time, but it is not so when the body is changed, for the links go with the body. That was just the difficulty of the Sadducees, in supposing seven men with one wife, when they get into resurrection. In the flesh we have the devil's sin, that is, pride against God, and the spirit's sins in our bodies. In chapter 2: 14 of this epistle, we have seen that it is the natural man, the man without the Holy Ghost. A man is not a man without body, soul, and spirit. They may be separated for a little, as when he dies. Sometimes it is called, inner man and outer man, soul and body.
Spirit and soul are never separated; one is the higher part of the other, so to speak. The word of God is the only thing that can distinguish them. Philosophers were wrong, as Aristotle. To them it was merely mind and the animal soul, which loves, for instance, one's children. I have a mind that thinks about children, and so on: that is all right so far; and philosophers recognized that there was this in man, but they went no farther than this intellect. We know there is a link between man and God, and that is responsibility too, though now man has got into enmity. The “dividing asunder" in Heb. 4 is that which just gives the difference between the two, for it cuts them into two. Heathens saw the superiority to beasts, but I do not believe the intellect which they owned has anything to do with God. All philosophy is a perfect delusion, intellect has nothing to do with God at all. God may act upon it: that is another thing.
It is not, of course, as with a stone that God acts upon man, but it is through his conscience. It is not the activity of man's intellect at all. A man of considerable intellectual powers is all the more likely to go wrong. God may take a chosen vessel and fit it for Him to act in and by, but never for the vessel to act. Wherever the vessel acts, it shuts God out. That is what Paul insists on so much in the opening of this epistle. And faith is never in the intellect; and, what is more, the intellect never knows a truth. Intellect knows consequences, but these are not truth. That is, truth is not the object of intellect, but of testimony. This is where the difference lies. You tell me something and I believe you, but the thing that receives truth (on, I believe, a testimony) is not intellect. “He that receiveth his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true."
The very thing by which man proves there must be a God is a proof that he cannot know God. Take this world: there is evidence of skill, there must have been a designer, someone must have made it. So with a watch (the common illustration), someone must have made it. So to the infidel geographer they brought once a globe; and when he asked, who made that? “Nobody" was the reply. What do you mean? I ask who made that globe? “Nobody"; and of course, he was confounded. I am not capable of conceiving of such a thing existing without a cause; but if I see it there, I must get a Former of it. I am so constituted that I cannot think of such a thing without a cause. This is exactly what it amounts to. God must have wrought: without a cause you cannot think it out. I cannot conceive of anything existing without finally a causing cause. But a cause uncaused is above me! The thing that proves He must be proves I cannot tell what He is. Logic says, If so-and-so is true, then so-and-so must be; but this does not say that it is, which is a very different thing to my soul. If I say “must be," that is a mere inference. The moment I get a testimony that it is, how different! I get a divine testimony, and set to my seal that God is true. This is faith, divine faith. One thing flows from another, and I cannot help inferring. That is the constitution of man, and he must think according to what he is, he cannot think otherwise.
Intellect never discovered anything in divine things; it may deduce correct conclusions, but it never can go above itself. That is another way of looking at it. If intellect pretends to go above itself, it is an absurdity on the face of it. If it pretends to rise to God, He is not the true God at all, but the mere conclusion of my mind. God can act on me, as physic acts on man; but that is not what I am. God has given us receptivity so far as that goes. It is as simple as ABC. Here is God, and if I bring Him in, it closes reasoning; and if I leave Him out, everything is false. I may have the farthings, but no pounds in the account. Nine-tenths of our ideas come from relationship, not from intellect; just as a child knows its father. Relationship is never known by reason: mind is fond of a kind of metaphysical reasoning about this, but it is all folly. The moment relationship is formed, all moral duty flows from it, and from it alone. Duty has nothing to do with intellect. This it is that makes us totally dependent. Man at the outset tried to get out of dependence on God, and really got into dependence on the devil and his own lusts. “By every word of God shall man live” was dependence and obedience, and that was where Christ was: it is the proper place of every intelligent creature, who ought to be both dependent and obedient.
Then we have here that the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. He acts on the soul and on the heart-Christ dwells in our hearts by faith-but the body is His temple, and therefore it is to be used accordingly. A great deal of mischief springs from not recognizing this. The body is only in its right place when it is a vessel which I am just using for God. The body of the Christian is a member of Christ, because he is His, and I am this, and my body is part of Him. It is a temple of God, because the Holy Ghost dwells there. My body is His temple; it is simple statement: but the Holy Ghost is to guide me. “Ye are not your own." We have the two great leading principles of Christian condition: the body the temple; and I am bought with a price; and for both reasons we must glorify God bodily, because it is purchased, and is possessed by the Holy Ghost dwelling in it. This gives a great distinctness to the reality of the personal presence of the Holy Ghost. Too often people talk about the Spirit working in their hearts, with the thought only of a mere influence. Even that does produce a certain state of heart in such, it is true; but that my body is His temple gives reality and personality clearly and in power.
Well, then, I am not to go and abuse the temple of God. This is peculiar to saints since redemption. “He that is joined to the Lord” is a real thing. If I am joined to the Lord, I get all the fullness of Him that dwells in me; which shows the great difference between life and union. People say we are united by faith, and again by life; but neither is true; we are united in life, but the union is by the Holy Ghost. The Old Testament saints might be united in heart and spirit, but this was no union as in the New Testament saints.
Persons dwelling together is not a body. There could not be a body until Christ was at the right hand of God: and you must get the head before you get the body. You have a divine Son, the Son of God, quickening whom He will, but no body formed until the Holy Spirit is given. A person cannot be said to be a member of Christ until he be sealed. Take the apostle for three days and nights. The saints were not the body of Christ until the day of Pentecost. There may be souls in that state now, quickened but not having received the gospel of their salvation; and so doubting and fearing. But we should not judge of souls because they say, “I doubt," and “I do not know ": so many think it is presumption to say, “I am a child of God." They will tell you, “I am afraid to talk in that way. I have a humble hope things will be all right; and sometimes I feel happy." Now suppose I hear at their prayers, one saying, “Father," when speaking to God, and another saying,” Be merciful to me a sinner," then I learn the difference.
Though one call upon God as Father, it is far happier for a soul to see clearly; but when a soul cries Abba Father, he has just the same title to the Lord's table as I have. The principle is very simple. The Lord's supper has the character of the one body, inasmuch as “ye are partakers of that one loaf." If one calls God Father, he is a member of Christ, being sealed with the Holy Ghost. We are not always judges; but the principle is simple. The man that is sealed with the Holy Ghost is a member of the body of Christ, and the Lord's supper is a sign of the unity of the body. As a member of the body, that is his place. Intelligence is not the test of communion. I do not bring my degree of knowledge of what I have, but I come because I am a member of Christ; and if another comes, of course it is the same thing. The consciousness that God is his Father is upon the testimony of the Holy Ghost. He must have faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely in His Person; he receives the Holy Ghost, and is, of course, member of the body of Christ.
The apostle turns to marriage in this chapter, and then the general truth of staying wherein you are called. It is a beautiful passage of scripture, as to the holiness of marriage. We must deal with every subject from God.
In verse 12, “To the rest speak I, not the Lord," is very precious, because the modern infidel speaks of inspiration as if it were the highest expression of the inner life. Now I find the apostle making a difference here, which is instructive. He says, “As I have received mercy of the Lord to be found faithful," as a man, I give you this experience; and to the rest speak I, not the Lord. Scripture therefore meets everything, repudiating the whole system of those men who deny inspiration, carefully distinguished between Paul's best thoughts and the Lord's commands. On this subject Paul will not give us a command, and he is inspired to tell us that. And very precious that is in itself. We have his spiritual judgment, and him clearly telling us that that is not the command of the Lord. He is inspired to make that difference. Not all that is in scripture is inspired, for you get the devil's words and wicked men's words, but the writer who gives them is inspired to make the record.
Verse 14. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean, but now are they holy." It is in contrast with the Jews; if a Jew had married a Gentile wife, he had to send her off, and her children off too, or he profaned himself. If the Jew were to be holy, they must all go. The Christian system being gracious, it is just the opposite, and the Christian, instead of being profaned by the unbeliever, sanctified him or her, and the children too. They are “sanctified," just in the sense opposite to that in which a Jew was profaned.
The other leading thought of the chapter is, that I am to leave what I cannot abide in with God. Christ being rejected, and the power of evil having come in, though marriage is all lawful, and so on, yet let even those that have wives, be as though they had none (v. 29-31), even using this world in everything as not a possession of mine, as not belonging to me. And so in verse 23. Do not be slaves of men if you can help it; yet stay where you are if you can, with God. A servant in most cases in the New Testament was a slave; masters might be heathen, and so on. Be free if possible; that was to be preferred, but not to be an object for the heart to be set on.
Here we come to things offered to idols. There are two distinct directions about that. They had to own the idol was nothing, and yet own it was something to the consciences of men. Looked at it in itself, as an idol, it was nothing; and the meat offered to it was what God created. But then the consciences of men got into connection with demons about it. He says at first, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world "; and then again, “As touching things offered to idols, we know, for we all have knowledge." But knowledge only puffs up, and the man who knew all this, might go with a clear conscience himself and eat this meat, but would stumble his brother who had a weak conscience.
In verse 6 the word “in” should be “for”: “Of whom are all things and we for him." I believe that is the right force of eis. And in the same passage, the different uses of the words “God" and "Lord" are seen very clearly. It is not the divine nature as such, but the place that the divine Persons hold in what men call the economy of grace. The Father rested in simple Godhead, but the Son has become a man and taken the place of Lord in His manhood. Then when I speak specifically of God, I speak of the Father. As to Christ," he shall call his name Jesus" – Jehovah the Saviour – for He shall save His people from their sins; but the place He has now taken is that of Lord. "God hath made him whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ." It is not that He ceases to be Jehovah, but He has taken the place of Lord, while the Father rests in simple abstract Godhead. I notice it, because in Christ as Lord I get the grace administered. I am a child with the Father, but if I am looking for administration, I go to the Lord: “Lord Jesus receive my spirit." “Lord, we have heard by many of this man," and so on. "To us there is but one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ." It does not say what the nature of that Lord is. He is God and He is man both, but you have the place, the leading place He has taken. "All power," He said, "is given to me in heaven and on earth; go ye therefore, and disciple all nations." Defiling the conscience (v. 7), means that, if a man has a conscience about anything as evil, he must follow his conscience, or he defiles it. Mark here, there is no building up on knowing evil. If I think I ought to eat herbs, I must eat them or my conscience is defiled. I must depart from iniquity; but I cannot build up on the negative.
In verse 11, "shall the weak brother perish?" is the tendency of my eating so far as I can go, because I am leading him to sin against his conscience. It is not that the Lord will not step in and save him, but that is what I am doing. We have the same truth in other forms elsewhere, "for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13): that is the end of living after the flesh. It is nothing about eternal death or eternal life either. He is dead already, and the end of those things is death. Death is the judgment of God. If a man lives in those things, he shall die. God has shown the end of certain things to be death, and if I drag my brother into those things, and their end is death, then, though I do not believe from other texts that God will leave him there, yet I am making my brother perish.
It is a great thing never to twist a single text of scripture to a doctrine. God is wiser than we are, and He has made no mistakes. I see people afraid of certain texts about certain doctrines, and I feel, therefore, that doctrine is not a settled thing with them. It is the same in effect in Romans: "Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died "-destroy my brother for a bit of meat! The moment I see that the end of these things is death, and I am making my brother do one of them, it is plain at once that I am destroying my brother, and God's act to him would be in spite of me. It is quite true, that the moment 1 look at a believer in Christ, there is no “if," nor can be, as to his security; he is accepted in the Beloved, and there is no “if anything "; he is sitting in the heavenly places in Christ, and the whole matter is settled; but that is not all that God has chosen to do about him. He has chosen to put him through the wilderness when he has redeemed Him, and then we have "ifs" and "whens" without end: "If ye hold fast," in Hebrews; "If ye continue," in Colossians, and so on. But what we have along with it is, absolute dependence upon Another, and infallible faithfulness in Another. As I have sometimes said, I may be standing with my child on the top of a rocky precipice, and he is apt to run about foolishly, and I say to him, "If you tumble over, you will be smashed to atoms "; but I have not the slightest idea of leaving my hold of him, or of letting him fall. Now we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. This shows we need to be kept; but on our side it is dependence on the power that does keep. You cannot confuse that with acceptance; but it is constant dependence upon God keeps my soul in a right state towards Him.
The cautions in God's word make me think of God's perfect love and faithfulness in keeping me; that occupies me in my proper place of dependence. It is the confusion of this with acceptance that makes all the difficulty. I could not say to you now, "If I were to go to Belfast," for I am here; and so is my standing before God absolute. "Who will confirm you to the end” proves that I want confirming. God puts me in a place where the manna will not be wanting one single morning, and so I live by every word of God, and this brings one back to a blessed sense of dependence continually. Redemption brings one into the wilderness, and then what do I find? That God has been thinking of the nap of my coat all the way, nor has my foot swollen along the road, while He leads me there to humble me, and prove me, to know what is in my heart; and again, "that thou mightest know that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Also Deut. 8:15, 16.) It is not merely that I am safe in Christ-accepted—but I am kept by the power of God in dependence upon Him; and there it is that I get “ifs” and “ifs," but none upon the faithfulness of God or a doubt about it. It is only as regards myself that I find the constant “if” that keeps me in dependence. On His side, “I know my sheep and am known of mine, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Well, then, the hand must be there to keep me. It makes the perfect faithfulness of God receive us, but then we are dependent upon that faithfulness.
In verse 18 of this chapter we find the word “abuse" again; but the Greek means that I use outright for myself. It would not have been abusing his power in the gospel, but he did not use that power as something to which he had title of possession; he only thought about it as a thing he could use for the sake of the gospel. There is really no thought of "abusing" in it. It would not be “abusing," to take a salary, or whatever you call it. “Abuse" is a bad word, but it is difficult to give the sense in one word; no single English word suits. As to the other passage-" Using this world and not abusing it "-you hear it quoted by people who are up to their neck in it; and it is, perhaps, more important to notice it there than here. It is using this world as not having it in possession; simply handling it therefore, and that not as property.
The general subject here is ministry. False teachers had gone to Corinth, Judaizing and seeking their own, and, by way of getting a great credit, took nothing. Paul, finding it out, would not take anything either; not that he had not the title. He was an apostle, and the Lord had so ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel; but he would not use the power. Whatever it was, Paul would not take it, and the assembly as an assembly has nothing to do with it; community and fellowship in the act is all very nice, yet if they do it together, it is not as an assembly, though in fellowship. If I go to preach and teach, it is as sent of the Lord, though, of course, it is always happy to do it in fellowship.
An assembly would be to blame if they knew an evangelist labouring, and did not assist him. They would be losing one of their privileges. The Philippians were very forward to do it, and so it was now with some. Perhaps it might be to help some other gift, and in another place. I think that is a most happy thing to find, and would not only have blessing on the one side, but on the other. Locality makes no difference. An evangelist is a servant of Christ, not of the assembly. In Philippians, “now at the last your care of me” is a beautiful expression of the delicacy of the feeling of the apostle; they had left him a long while, or he says so, and then adds, “but ye lacked opportunity." If things were right in an assembly, all this would be done happily. In many places there are collections at times for brothers at work at home and abroad, which is all very right too. I did not mean that the assembly should not together assist, but that it should not have a control of the preacher in any way; he is responsible to the Lord, and not the assembly's servant. On the other hand, if they knew any reason for not sending to him, they would be bound not to help him.
If a preacher gives up his trade for the Lord's sake, of course he may “live of the gospel "by being maintained and fed, getting food, raiment, and what he wanted. He may, if he have energy, work like Paul all night, and so support his house as to prevent selfish people, like some at Corinth, from saying, He is doing it for his pay. Not many have energy enough to do the two things, and do them well. If you have a man preaching, supply him while he preaches; he that plows should plow in the hope of getting the fruit of his plowing; so Paul tells Timothy in 2 Tim. 2 that he must work, or else he will not get his wages. There is a question of translation whether it is "first labouring," or "first partaking." It is a mere comparison like the other; if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned unless he strive lawfully. Only he must first labour to be a partaker. The verses before show that he is to endure hardness as a good soldier, and he is not to entangle himself with the affairs of this life. We have something of the same kind in verse 24 of our chapter: "know ye not that they which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize?” Even what Christ has sent me, I do not take up, for His sake. I glory in this that I have given up everything I had a title too, for the gospel's sake. It is a very strong expression: better for me to die than for me to do anything that would hinder the gospel. He was ashamed of the Corinthians.
Paul was not under yoke to anyone in his service, only to the Lord, of course. He was free in that sense; it is what he calls willingly and unwillingly in this chapter. He did it not for his own will, but still he was free from man. Peter did not send him. That was what they charged against him; he had not seen the apostle; he did not come from Jerusalem, and so on. In verse 19 we find what “free” is: “Though I be free from all, yet have I made myself servant unto all." In 2 Cor. 11 he says no one shall stop him of his boasting, and he will do as he had done, that he might cut off occasion from others, “that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we."
In verses 20, 21, he sought to win Jews, not to Judaize. Judaizing was very common. In itself Judaism was God's dealing with human nature, to see if good could be got out of flesh. God dealt with Adam and then with the Jew (promise coming in between), but Judaism was God taking up man on his responsibility, and giving him a rule or law, and with it all appliances to help, a priesthood and temple, every kind of help to a man as man, to see if any good could be got from him.
It was the orderly essaying and proving whether man could be on terms with God. He could not please God; but yet it is the constant tendency of human nature to go back and try again, for it does not bow and own; there is no good in it; and so it is always talking about keeping the law, but never does it. Really man's responsibility is not in question at all. There is such a thing; but Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." But that is it which has been brought into the light and condemned, and I have therefore now a right to say I am dead. "Through the law I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." I am dead and finished as a child of Adam. Because this is not apprehended, there are always some remains of Judaism. "When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins which were by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." And the result is, we discover we are lost. Take the whole system of setting up law in any form, and the moving of men's hearts by it: it all owns man still-alive in the flesh. You get it grossly in a self-righteous person, and in a mixed shape in those who try to put law and grace together; but in each and all it is just human nature thinking it can be something. There is something terrible in putting a man under law after grace has come in; it is setting him to responsibility after flesh has been proved unable to meet it.
After the second word "law" in verse 20, there is a clause left out, which is, "not being myself under law." It is recognized as in the text by all who have examined it. He puts subjection to Christ in the place of being under law. All that he means by "to them that are under the law, as under law," is some such thing as that he would not eat pork, if sitting at table with a Jew. Timothy was circumcised on some such principle. He had no right to be circumcised. It was an arbitrary act (for his father was a Greek), unless he wished himself to be a Jew. Paul yielded to the Jewish Christians in that case, and did it to please them; but notice that the moment he got into a scrape about it, not one of those he sought to please showed his face to help him. In dealing with Jews he adapted himself to them, but directly that the Jews made the law necessary, he withstood them. He would not give in about Titus, because they were making it necessary. But here in Paul's own case there was no necessity; it was his own adapting himself to them, and just what we all ought to do. His action at Jerusalem was a further case. The Spirit had told him not to go up, and he could not do anything right there, though nothing wrong either. It was merely to please himself, and under other people's advice, doing this and that after he had left all such things entirely.
There is no limit for the early primitive church but the death of the apostles. Peter speaks of his decease, pointing to a change. But what we have in principle for ourselves is, "that which is from the beginning." If it is not from the beginning, it has no claim of authority at all. "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father." They had wanted at the council of Nice to establish the celibacy of the clergy, but one old bishop got up and told them they would only be putting a snare to their feet; that was about nine years before some tried at the first so-called general council to lay it down as a rule, but they were hindered, though the spirit of asceticism had come in. A century afterward you find the strongest denouncement of these notions. Chrysostom has two treatises against them.
Alford's translation is not to be depended upon. It may be useful to a person who can judge for himself. He had an active mind in raising questions, but I never regarded his judgment in settling them. His was not a sober judgment, and not therefore one to be trusted. What I dread in these new translations is that there is a kind of conservatism of an old doctrine governing them; as, for instance, Alford retains, “Sin is the transgression of the law," 1 John 3:4. Thus you find him keeping to the old thing because it is there. None of them knows scripture or has got truth from scripture, but they bring their thoughts to scripture. Some modern scholars have changed that text, and besides it is clear enough in other passages, as Rom. 2:12, “they that have sinned without law, shall also perish without law"; which is in contrast with them that have sinned under law. It is clear contrast there and that in the English translation itself. But they had a doctrine which was that the transgression of the law was sin, and so in John they put it, “sin is the transgression of the law"; but where their doctrine was not in question, they translated it as “lawless." In John it is positively contrary to scripture; for when it says “they that have sinned without law," how can this be if sin is the transgression of the law? And again, how then could sin by the commandment become exceedingly sinful? And again, “for until the law sin was in the world ": how could that be if sin was but the transgression of the law?
“Sin is not imputed when there is no law," it is true. But this is not the word elsewhere rendered “impute "; it means the particular sin is not put to account. You are a sinner and lawless when you have no law, but I cannot say to you, Such and such a thing is forbidden. As if my child runs into the street, instead of doing its lessons, I cannot say in a particular sense, "You have been disobedient "; but if I have told him not to go out into the street, then it is not a general question of his idleness, but I say I am going to whip you for that particular thing. In Rom. 5:13, what the apostle is reasoning on is that death was a proof that sin was there before there was law. You cannot confine grace to the Jews, for then you make it narrower than sin; for death and sin were there, and all had sinned, and if you shut up grace to those under law and do not let in the Gentiles, you are making sin a more powerful thing than the grace of God. Death was reigning there before ever Moses' law came in, and that is the meaning of the expression "who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," a quotation from Hos. 6:7, “but they like men "-Adam—" have transgressed the covenant." These Gentiles never did that, the Jews did. They transgressed it, and Adam too transgressed the commandment he had; yet these Gentiles were under sin and death, though they had no law at all. You must now take up Christ as answering to Adam in headship, though first he adds more, that the law entered that the offense might abound, but where sin-not offense-abounded, grace did much more abound. The difference between “impute" in Rom. 4 and 5, is that in chapter 4 it is reckoning a man to be something; in chapter 5 it is putting so much to his account. It occurs again in Philemon, "put that to my account."
In reading the verse in 1 John 3, “Sin is lawlessness," it would not have the same effect if you reversed the words as they stand as in our version; but as in the Greek with the two articles, it is a reciprocal proposition. 'A blow is sin '; but you could not say, 'sin is a blow.' But 'lawlessness is sin'; and 'sin is lawlessness'; and he who practices sin also practices lawlessness. It is kai (and) that is used to connect the sentence, which I think brings it back to an abstract proposition. In Rom. 5:5, Adam had a law and Moses had a law, and sin was in between and death too. I think you see at once that a law is in contemplation; not so lawlessness, which is expressed by an abstract word.
Sin, I believe, is a man having a will of his own. It so far takes in law that, the moment you have got a creature of God, there was some rule or will of God that that creature ought to obey, but if he does not, he is lawless. To sin, in Greek, is to err, to miss anything, as, not to hit when shooting at a mark, or to reel off when you ought to keep on; to leave a straight right path is the etymological meaning of this word. But it is a very different thing to bring in the thought of law. If I say, “them that have sinned without law," it makes me think of a law though they have had none. You cannot in the abstract sense think of a creature that has to say to God, without thinking of God's authority expressed somehow, and this would be a law to him, which also was true in the garden of Eden. But when a fruit was particularly forbidden, it was a legal covenant; "if you eat that, you shall die "-a positive rule. Well man eats it and gets a conscience, and so on. Afterward Moses' law was a perfect rule for man in that state, for a child of Adam that had got away from God. There is no means in it of bringing him back to God, and therefore it says, “the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ": it has got a will of its own. That state we have brought out in our chapter where we were reading, in which Paul is said to be under law to Christ, and yet not himself under law. It is the abstract idea of being subject to the rule of Christ, and so on; yet he states at the same time that he is not under law, he will not hear of that in any way: but he adds “not without law to God," nor lawless therefore as regards God, and yet he is not under law, while he is rightly subject to Christ.
The mischief of maintaining law is that it sets up flesh, treating man as alive. Now the doctrine of Christianity is that man is not alive. The law has power over a man so long as he lives. Well, if I am alive, I am a responsible man in the flesh, and lost and condemned. But now we are delivered from the law, having died in that in which we were held, and that is where there is no allowance of sin; and he brings in a nature to which the power of Christ is added. He does not set about to leave the man alive and then bring the law to a man that will not bow to it. He did that once of old, but now in Christ we have a new life with power in it, and in that respect the Christian scheme is as plain as possible. It is not bringing a law to a nature that cannot be subject to it, but the bringing in a new nature that delights to do the will of God. You contrast the new nature with will, and then add the Holy Ghost for power.
In Rom. 8:10, "the body is dead because of sin." If my body is alive, in the scriptural sense of evil, it is flesh, but of course this body is a mere instrument. The Jesuits said a body ought to be a mere carcass and obey. "On account of sin” is the practice. The only source of life to the Christian that he owns is the Spirit. I hold my body dead, because if it is alive it will be a fountain of sin. Sin in the flesh is clear in scripture. You never get flesh alone unless merely as to the body, as “the life I live in the flesh." The “body of sin," in Romans, is taking it as a whole: as I might say the “body of heaven," the whole of it. In Colossians it is “body of the flesh ": it is the idea of the whole thing going as one lump. I do not doubt there is an allusion to the body, but the thought is the whole thing. This body is looked at as the seat of sin, I have no doubt.
We get the two parts of the thing from being dead with Christ, dead and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Then follows," the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." In the Spirit of life I get power. Then comes the other side: “God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." The law could not do this; it might curse, but it could get nothing good out of me. Where I was, Christ came there to die, and there and then God condemned sin in the flesh. Christ was made sin for me, and that which was tormenting my mind God has condemned altogether, and there is an end of it for faith.
It is like “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," only this goes farther. First, as to sins, the Lord bore them and put them away; then I find there is a tree of evil in me, what of that? It is all condemned upon the cross where Christ died, and you are consequently to reckon yourselves dead. I have done with it-sin in the flesh: that is, faith has. I know it is more difficult for us to lay hold of that, than to lay hold of the forgiveness of sins, because it contradicts our experience. If a man comes and tells me my debts are all paid, I believe that; but if he said, "You are dead to sin," I say, “How do you mean that; for I was in a passion this morning?” and in this way experience contradicts it. But it did die in Christ's death; it is all dead and gone, because I am in Christ, and Christ is my life. And when the flesh comes and shows its face to me, I say, You have had your day, and have been ended. I have a right to say this, knowing that Christ has died, and God condemned sin in the flesh there. I have a perfect title to do so, and also I have Christ as my power. Being a partaker, in verse 23, is the joy of seeing souls saved, and being saved himself.
Now we come to one of those verses people are afraid of looking in the face. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection, lest, that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway," v. 26, 27. The word “castaway” troubles some. People have tried to make out that a castaway is not a castaway. I see no difficulty in it at all. The apostle supposes a case: one is preaching to others, and perishes himself. Paul was perfectly well assured as to himself; but he says if he had been merely preaching, he would have been falsely assured; but if not merely beating the air, he was rightly assured.
The running to “obtain "is the general idea of the incorruptible crown of glory. He has salvation in his mind: “that I might be all means save some," and so on. He is not thinking only of the reward of service, but he takes it all here in the most general way. Scripture is plain enough: “Every man shall receive reward according to his own labour." “There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brother, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come, life everlasting." There is that which characterizes the faith of the Christian, and makes eternal life the reward. There is the keeping of the body down, that is, the contrary to preaching. I am not merely a preacher, but a liver, “lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." You must run lawfully, as a Christian, not merely preach; or you may have all the sacraments, as they are called, and yet fall in the wilderness. There must be reality, whatever else there is.
Those who weaken the force of the word “castaway" do so right in the teeth of the passage. It has no reference to the quality of the preaching, for the apostle says, "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air, but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." “I myself," is not my service, nor my preaching. To be a castaway is to be lost-to be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." What Paul means is, he is not only a believer, but is living like a believer, or he might be cast away as well as other people. I have not the most distant doubt that God will keep His people; they shall never perish. But suppose I say, “If such a person stayed in such a room, he will never have consumption." So if Paul himself had been preaching only, not living, he would have been a castaway; but he was not that, and he was stating how he was living that he might not be a castaway. The point is, that you must strive lawfully and according to the rules. Now the rule of Christ is, you must live as well as talk, or else be afraid of the consequences. “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die."
In Rev. 22:14 we read “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life." But I have no doubt it should be read, “Blessed are they that wash their robes," etc. I believe the book of life is final, and all the devils cannot blot a name out of it. Where it speaks of blotting out, it is like a registry of votes. If it is proved that a certain name has no right there, it is blotted out. Every professor's name is in the book of life: but if God wrote it, it will never be blotted out. A mere professor writes his name himself, but he has no right to be there, unless God has written his name, and it will be blotted out. In Rev. 22:19 it should be “tree of life," not "book of life." God takes away no name that He has written. In chapter 13: 8, it should be, I doubt not, "written from the foundation of the world," and not “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world "; and such a name will not be blotted out. I suppose the book of life (chap. 20) is after thenames are blotted out, for verse 15 is “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Although they are there judged for their works, their names were not in the book. Blotting out is, because a man's name was there that had no right to be there. Moses had the same thought. He says, “blot me out."
“Life," and “living" in scripture, when God uses it, is not always the thought of mere life; as "Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee." It is divine favour also. This is one of those cases in which I do not see that those who make difficulties have in the least gained anything. I do not think that the idea of blotting out is all; there is the reality. God puts absolute principles, which lead to certain consequences, and if a cap fits, let a man wear it. People try to torture passages to make them consistent with doctrines, instead of taking the doctrine from the passages. Take "if ye live after the flesh ye shall die"; I am not going to weaken that. Again, "to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and incorruptibility, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil." Then, says some one, a man is saved by his works; eternal life is dependent on patient continuance, etc. It is practical Christianity brought in at once. I resist altogether the attempts to enfeeble that pressure on the conscience which I see in scripture. "Work out your own salvation” is not temporal salvation; it is in contrast with Paul's working, as he might say: I was labouring for your salvation when I was with you, and now you must do it for yourselves, because I am here in prison; but you have not lost God by losing me: "God is working in you both to will and to do." You torture the scripture otherwise. In Philippians, salvation is always looked at as with glory at the end. It was not the mere salvation of Paul's body in chapter 1: 19. We always have that truth in that epistle founded on redemption. The cross has laid hold of me for the glory, but I have not yet laid hold of it, and what I ought to apprehend is that for which I have been apprehended. And God's way was when He laid hold of Paul to put him through the wilderness, and make him work out his salvation to the end. When I say God is keeping His people, I ask too, Why has He to keep them? Because they want keeping or they would fall.
You have the two things in John to: “They shall never perish," inwardly, nor be “plucked out of my hand." But this is not to weaken the plain positive passages which are given as warning, and meant to be as warning. We have the "ifs" in Hebrews, and in Col. 1, "if ye continue," and so on. Now I suppose I believe that God is keeping His saints, and still I say to you, “If you continue to the end you will be saved." A methodist thinks and will say the same, but he thinks such an one might be lost after all; while I am perfectly certain that he will never perish, that is, if he really has life at all.
Different states of soul need different treatment. We must give meat in due season. A passage which might help on one, might puff up another; that is a question of spiritual wisdom in dealing with souls. All that I feel anxious about is the maintenance of the positive dealing of scripture with conscience. Take that passage in Romans we referred to: "Who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who, by patient continuance," etc. Well, a man says, There may then be good people, and if they work good, they will get glory, and honour, and peace. But I say to him, “You are wrong entirely; there is none good but God." There is plenty of scripture to meet such a case, but we need not weaken this sentence in Romans in order to do it. It is the necessity of God's nature, that there must be a certain life and character in a man for him to be with God. We have a scripture that God has given that nature, and that He will keep it to the end; but the latter does not enfeeble the fact that the nature is such as it is. You must have that life and walk in that life, or you will not be in heaven. Thus we have broad dealing with conscience, and that is what we must not weaken. We have it plain enough in scripture, unmitigated and unenfeebled. Consciences want it, they are slippery enough. If I use it to weaken a person's faith in God's fidelity, I use it wrongly; but I want to give it all its force as it stands, while giving meat in due season. Suppose I found a person slipping into sin, and I say to him, “Well, never mind, God is faithful "; though that is abstractly true, it is not what I should use to him then, but just the opposite. Yet if God did not keep me, I know I should be soon slipping off somewhere.
This chapter is a continuation of the same subject. All Israel were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness." They were, as we may say, in the Christian profession, standing in this world. Paul is proving that a person might persist in the outward observance of Christianity, and yet be lost. But there may be such a thing as having the shield of faith down as a chastisement perhaps, but that would be the only case I can recognize of loss of assurance where it has been really known; that is, I mean where a man is given up to it, and to the fiery darts as a kind of chastisement.
I remember a person who was away from fellowship for fourteen years, and a high Calvinist spoke to him as a child of God, which became the means of bringing him in again. He had got puffed up, was a kind of prophet, Irvingite, and so on, and the devil had blown him over. Very solemn indeed! But I do not want a soul to lose his assurance; it may be the power for bringing him back. I do not say of a child that is naughty, he is not a child, neither do I wish him to think he is not. If you find a person in despair, you may feel it is the divine nature there. God reconciles absolutely His holiness and His faithfulness, and all else. We may be taking them apart, but He never does.
We have in this chapter certain truths typically presented- the keeping of Israel as a whole, or to the end, as well as the fall of these individuals. In Num. 15 we have the security of God's purpose most beautifully set out. In Num. 14 He says their carcases shall fall in the wilderness. He pronounces judgment on the whole nation, save two persons. The entire people refuse to go up and take possession of the land, and the Lord says, “doubtless ye shall not come into the land," save Joshua and Caleb. Then in chapter 15, “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land," etc., and goes on with His own intentions just as quietly as if nothing of chapter 14 had happened. "Baptized unto Moses," is what we call being associated with him in these ordinances. "Baptized with the baptism of John," was objectively the thing to which they were brought: so it was baptized “unto" instead of "into." The Greek preposition eis refers to the point you are going to, unless hindered. I might say I am going to Rome, but robbers might come in and stop me, but eis has that force. Pros is “towards" with the accusative; with the dative it is rather “there," but with the accusative it is distinctly objective. The sickness is not unto (pros) death, but for the glory of God, that is, it was with that object in view. In Eph. 4 ministers were given with a view to (eis) the work of the ministry, eis the edifying of the body, and pros the perfecting of the saints. The prominent thought is the perfecting of the saints, the more immediate point is eis: the former was, that is, an eternal thing, but the work of the ministry was a present thing, and what they were at then; the perfecting is a definite result in view.
In the middle of this chapter we go from the outward thing to the inward. We have had not merely those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus, but those who were baptized to Moses, and did eat the same spiritual meat, and so on. These really partook of the privileges and yet were lost. You may have really Christ, and yet God be not well pleased with you. A person who is living after the flesh shall die. He therefore cannot have the real thing. This passage is not a warning against having a thing and in any way perishing, but against having the signs of the thing and then perishing. It is addressed to saints “with all those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus," however bad they might be at Corinth.' It would be a very dangerous thing to say that people were outside warnings and dangers because they themselves are so bad.
We have here a kind of Sardis, and a terrible thing it is to have a name to live, and yet be responsible. “I gave her space to repent, and she repented not." The whole professing church will be cut off; they wax worse and worse, but still the responsibility is there, though they have left their first love. To the Thessalonians Paul had written, “Ye are not of the night that that day should overtake you as a thief." It will overtake the world so, and the Lord writes to Sardis, “lest I come as a thief," that is, treat you as the world. There will be a testing-time, and then some will be cut off. In the beginning of all, the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved; but when we come as far as Jude, we see apostasy coming in, evil men creeping in unawares. In verse 8 fornication refers to the particular danger they were in. All their relatives around them went on in that kind of thing, and they themselves were therefore in danger of slipping into it. Fornication was not a type. These were the things that happened then in Israel, not the figures of things for us, but the judgments that came from them are our warnings.
As to their idolatry, I doubt if a single sacrifice, unless an official one, was offered to God all through the wilderness. In Acts 7:42, Stephen says, “Have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them." The official ones probably were maintained, or might be; and at large what they did offer might be professedly to the Lord; for when they made the golden calf, Aaron made proclamation, “To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah." God had ordered them to bring the blood of every beast they slew to the tabernacle, or rather the beast itself.
In verse 11 the “ends of the world “is the completion of the ages. To me the world now is not under any dispensation, but the whole course of God's dealings with it are over until He comes to judgment. Man was under responsibility from Adam to Christ, and then our Lord says, “Now is the judgment of this world." Historically I see this: up to the flood no dealings of God, but a testimony in Enoch. We see a man turned out of paradise, and presently God comes in by a solemn act, and puts that world all aside. Then after the flood we see various ways of God with the world. He begins by putting it under Noah. He gave promises to Abraham, then law raising the question of righteousness, which promise did not. Law was brought in to test flesh, and see whether righteousness could be got from man for God. Then God sent prophets until there was no remedy, and then He says there is one thing yet I may still do: I will send My Son; and when they saw the Son, they said, “This is the heir, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours," and then, so far as responsibility went, God was turned out of the world.
Then comes the cross, and atonement for sin, and a foundation for a new state of things altogether, and that was the completion of the ages. God is not now dealing with man to try if he is lost or not, and so in John's Gospel man is gone from chapter I. The first three Gospels present Christ to man, and then He is rejected; but in John 1, “He came to his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." There we find God's power coming into the world, and the Jews all done with: only some receive Him who have been born of God, and so John's Gospel is thoroughly what men call Calvinistic.
As to invitations, it is not incorrect to say to an unconverted man, “Come to Jesus." We may go “as though God did beseech you by us... be reconciled to God." God is obliged to have ambassadors for Christ now that Christ is gone. Beseeching is, so to speak, more than saying, Come. Christ says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," in the chapter where He had already said, “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented," Matt. 11. Thereon He begins to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, declaring woe unto them; and then comes, “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 He says, “Come unto me," etc. He speaks of the judgment as already come upon them; then there is nothing for it, for no man knows the Son but the Father, neither knows any man the Father save the Son. He bows to His Father completely in rejection, and it is consequent upon that rejection, that, like Noah's dove, He finds there is no single place for Him to put His foot upon; and so now He says, If you want to get to heaven, come to Me outside the world. The gospel tests, and people will not receive the gospel any more than they could keep the law.
In 1 John 2:13 we read, “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning "; that is, they knew Christ had come into the world. They knew a great deal about Him, but no man can fathom the Son but the Father. “Son” is that being who was in the form of God, Christ, who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant” and so on; but if you ask how God can be a servant, you plunge into difficulty by getting into the reasonings of men.
Returning to our chapter, we have now identification with the table; the eaters are partakers of the altar. In eating of it, you identify yourself with the body of Christ, for “we are all partakers of that one bread." Someone once wrote to ask what was the proof that it was the body of Christ! And I found from another that it was understood only to speak of the unity of those who were actually partaking. But what the apostle is saying is, If you go and eat of these idolatrous altars, you identify yourself with them. As Israel after the flesh, if they ate of the altar, they identified themselves with it; so if you partake of the table of the Lord, you have a common part with others with it. It is not itself identity with the body, but that which is the sign of it. You cannot partake of Christ and of demons at the same time; this is, “cannot" morally. The peace-offering gives the understanding of it: some was burnt on the altar, but of the flesh the priest ate the part offered to God, and they themselves, the offerers, ate the rest.
The principle was that the eaters were identified with the altar. If it were a thanksgiving, it must be eaten on the same day, but two days were allowed in the case of a vow, because there was a stronger energy in it, and none might be eaten on the third day at all. And so, if they were at table at a feast, he says, Eat what is set before you, unless it is given you as having been offered at an idol's temple, and then eat not. Of course you could do the act of eating of idols' sacrifices, but you cannot eat to God and to the demon together. Then comes the question, whether it is only those who are eating who are identified; and the local church is spoken of as the body of Christ, but I must take in all Christians when I go out into the mystic body. The communion (koinonia) is merely the external act of partaking, but if it is of Christ, it is the whole body. I cannot call an assembly the body of Christ, except so far as it may represent the whole body. At the altar there is identification, I am in communion with it; you do not get communion with the Lord's table, but taking a part in it; 1 Cor. 10:21.
There is a distinction: the Lord is the One who is over me. I do not think Christ is ever called the Lord of the assembly. He is the Lord of the individual, but not of the assembly. Head of the church implies union. Head of the body is not the same thought as the head of every man; that includes wicked men as well as good. The head of my body is head, and therein is union; but when I speak of head of every man, it is lordship over man. In Eph. 5:29, “Even as the Lord, the church," should be "Christ the church."
"He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" is spoken of us, because He is a glorious person, and I by the Holy Ghost am one with Him who is such; but that is very different from the thought of Lord of the assembly as such. The thought destroyed the unity of the body, and this was the use that was made of it. He is Lord in the assembly. I suppose every Christian would own the title of authority in the Lord. Christ is generally the official name; it is not an absolute rule, but in most cases we have lost the “the Christ” in the English. There is a Greek rule, that if you have the article and the thing that governs the genitive, you have the article with the name, and there is a question then whether you say "the Christ," or "Christ." "The Christ" may contemplate the church too, as in "so also is the Christ." In "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ," he takes the lowest character first, and says, "He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," that is, he that has faith in His person.
The thought that was put out as a difficulty is, that the unity is merely the unity of those who are actually partaking. The bearing of it all is to make independent churches, whereas the apostle is here looking at them in connection with the fact of their partaking at the table; but he adds it is the communion of the body of Christ; and then we have the whole body, while those who may be present stand as such for the time.
In chapter 12 you have two statements. Verse 12, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ," literally the Christ. Then in verse 27, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular," takes in the whole thing, and the character that belongs to them. In our chapter we have two things; for if I speak of Christ's body, there is His literal body and His mystical body. His literal body is broken, and His mystical body is a united one.
The “one bread," in verse 17, represents Christ; it is the loaf on the table. We all partake of it, and are therefore one body; “for we are all partakers of that one bread." Before it is broken, in a certain sense, it represents the body of Christ before it was broken; but it does not form a sacrament in that state, because we have not the figure. It is true I eat Christ as the living bread that came down from heaven, but I go back to do that after I have eaten of Him as broken. I cannot think of the body of Christ without bringing in the mystic body, and verse 16 identifies me with the thought of the body it belongs to. The communion of the blood is always identification with the blood of Christ as shed for us. I do not know another word so good for it as that. Israel had their character from that with which they are connected; so with us, it is with Christ, with His body and His blood. It is not the spiritual feeding of my soul, but it is in the sense that my hand is partaker of the life of my body. “Joint participation” does not express it, because that is rather the act of partaking, or might only go so far. I may partake and not be in communion with; but it is in the latter way we are identified with Christ as His body.
“Demons" refers to idols' temples as such, because it was to demons they offered, and not to God. It is monstrous to apply it to any professing Christianity. In verse 20 we have distinctly what is the meaning of "the cup of demons." If any tried to eat of the Lord's table, and also of the table of demons, that would be saying, “I can eat with a demon, and I can eat with you." This would be provoking the Lord to jealousy, as in verse 22.
The difficulty we started with seems all cleared to my mind by chapter 12: 27. The Corinthian church was not the body of Christ. It is a sheer attempt to make one meeting independent of another. That is not the apostle's mind through this chapter at all. But it is what was attempted by connecting the lordship of Christ with the assembly as such. Some said Christ was Lord, and they obeyed the Lord, and acted under obedience to the Lord in any one place, and nobody else had anything to say to them. At first I could not think what they were aiming at, insisting on His lordship in this way, though a man surely is not a Christian if he does not own the lordship of Christ. “Calling on the name of the Lord” is a sort of definition of a Christian. What we have been considering is ecclesiastically a less vigorous attempt at the same purpose.
They asked what proof we had that the Lord's supper was an expression of the unity of the body. It was this that made the separation in -. Now what brought me out of the Establishment was the unity of the body: otherwise I could have gone into some independent church or set up one for myself, perhaps. I do not think many would deny that there is one body in words; but the practice denies it.
I could not go to any loose table as the Lord's. People do and call it the Lord's, of course; but I do not call it so or I should be there. Many go with a good conscience, I doubt not; but they do not meet on the principle of the unity of the body. If all the Christians in any place come together, they would not be a church and members; there are no members of a church. The idea and the term are unknown to Scripture altogether. Members of Christ's body, and therefore members one of another, is right, and that only. There is not the most distant approach to the common idea.
“All things are lawful” (v. 23) is connected with what is sold in the shambles. The apostle alludes to the custom of selling carcases for food in the common way after the animal had been offered in an idol's temple. But suppose we were sitting at a table with a person just come out from idolatry, and he said, “That joint was offered to an idol." His conscience is not free, and for his sake I do not eat it. To me it is all common meat.
In Acts 15 the commands to abstain from blood, from things offered to idols, and from fornication, are obligatory on a Christian now. They are not from law, but from Noah. Not that I should think if I had eaten blood, that I was defiled by it, for it is not the things that go in that defile. The above three things are special: one is life, and belongs to God; then idols are the giving up of the true God altogether; and fornication is giving up the purity of man. They are the three things which form thestandard elements of what I have to say to God in. The two are plain enough: the third may be less clear. If a man came to me and said, That rabbit was caught in a trap,' I could say, Well, I will not eat it, simply for his sake.' To me these three principles are the expression of man as belonging to God, and not to his own lusts. As to blood, it is the life, and clearly belongs to God, but I leave every man's conscience to himself.
Here we have another instance of how the greatest truths are brought into connection with commonplace subjects. Here is a question, whether a woman is to have a covering on or not. The whole ordering of God is brought in to say whether a woman is to wear a cap on her head (v. 3-16). It was the custom there with women inspired by demons to have their hair flowing out wild, and this was not the order for a woman. They were to recognize the authority of man if they prayed or prophesied. Women did prophesy, for Philip had four daughters that did. The woman had her place for praying and prophesying, but not in the assembly. Men are to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands. If a woman's husband were unconverted, it would not be right for her to pray with him if other men were there.
In nominal Christianity we have to take things as we find them. I have known a converted husband, when he went from home, tell his wife to pray with the household, including unconverted men; but I do not believe it was right. The woman's head was to be covered. The apostle shows by her hair that God had covered her, and her mind and will are put on the same ground. A woman ought to be covered at family prayers, or as one of Philip's daughters prophesying in her father’s house. The principle applies to both praying and prophesying. The man is the head of the woman, and she puts a covering on her physical head to show that there is authority over her. The apostle takes the state of the head of the body as a sign of the condition of the man or woman in respect of their moral head. The woman's head-the man-is her head really, and she must cover her own head in sign of her subjection; and so she says in effect, I have no head myself; the man is my head, and I am in subjection. The man could not do that, or there would be no visible head. A woman's gift ought to be confined to women, or to her own family.
As to the difference between preaching and teaching (v. 4), in point of fact, all preaching is teaching now. At first they went and announced the fact-" Jesus is risen from the dead." I have not to do that so much now; I have rather to describe the efficacy of the effect; though I believe the more these things are set out as facts the better, although they are now all admitted.
The more we make our preaching the history of a fact, the more powerful it will be. You do bring facts before people if you say, This was God's Son, and so on; otherwise it is teaching, except so far as we press the facts.
I do not accept a woman's going out to evangelize. I never saw a woman meddle in teaching and church matters, but she brought mischief upon herself and everyone else. If she sits down with a company before her to teach them, she has got out of her place altogether. We read of Tryphena and Tryphosa, who laboured in the Lord, and the beloved Persis too-each in her own place of service. You find all honour done to women in the Gospels; but the Lord never sent out a woman to preach; neither did a man ever go and anoint Christ for His burial. The women's prophesying was not preaching. There came an inspired teaching, to which they gave utterance. I believe it was in an extraordinary way, as Philip's daughters. Women can be used, as Mary Magdalene was sent by Christ to His disciples. If Christ sent a woman to carry a message, the best she could do would be to go and carry it. It was a mere message; it is no place of teaching; no matter what the message is, it is but a message. Suppose it was written down and was special instruction, the teaching then was in the message, not in Mary Magdalene's place. Scripture says, “I suffer not a woman to teach." She was not to teach at all. She can lead on those who are converted without setting up to be a teacher. Teaching is expounding to people put under you to receive certain doctrines.
The apostle is not speaking of wearing the sign of subjection at all times, but I believe it would be very comely. “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels," v. 1o. She is therein a spectacle with all present to the angels, and angels ought not to see disorder among Christians. The whole subject is modesty, and order, and comeliness, and things in their right place. Therefore the woman ought to have power on her head on account of the angels, that is, the sign of subjection to her husband. Angels should learn something in the church.
As to the “image of God," in verse 7, "image" is something that represents another, and so a man represents God, though certainly he has failed to fill it up. The image of Jupiter was not necessarily like Jupiter, but it was made to represent him. So man keeps the place, though he has fallen in it-the same place in which God put him. He was made sinless, but beside that he stood as the centre of an immense system: no angel was that, no angel was the one single centre of a system all around him. Adam was. And indeed to be that is just what men are driving at in one form or other in the world, and in the church, and in Christendom. If Adam had remained, all his family would have been looking up to him. Here man is spoken of as “the image and glory of God “and in James “made after the similitude of God." But he is not in likeness now.
The first Adam was the image of him that was to come; the last Adam takes the place of the first: only the last Adam was in counsel before the first was in responsibility. The last Adam was first before God, and when the first has failed, the counsels are brought out in the last Adam. You get the first man put in responsibility after the counsel, and then the second Man was brought out in the accomplishment of counsel. That settles all Calvinism and Arminianism and such like systems. All the responsibility goes on until it has been thoroughly brought to an issue at the cross, and man will not have God at all: but in that cross God does a work that lays the foundation of everlasting glory; and then as soon as that is done, all these counsels are revealed, not accomplished yet, but revealed. Thus since the cross man's responsibility, as such, is over; it is not that he has not debts and sins, or that he was not responsible: all that is true, but God was rejected finally, and God comes and works His own work all alone by Himself. When that is done, He tells out His counsels and what He is going to do. At the beginning of Titus, we read “the acknowledging of the truth "-the gospel comes and man is responsible to own his ruin-" in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due time manifested His word through preaching which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour."
First, He begins with Adam, and that is all ruin. 2 Tim. 1:9 gives us “who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and hath brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel; whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles." It was all in God's counsels settled in Christ, but when Christ came, it all came out to us. It is a mistake to think predestination in itself has anything to do with the counsels of God. If God came down now and chose fifteen of us who are here, it would be just the same as if He had done it before the world began. It would be just as arbitrary, as the world would call it, to take fifteen now, as to take fifteen before the world began. But He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
“Incorruptibility" refers to the body. "Mortal" is never applied to anything but the body. The corruptible mortal is that which goes to dust; incorruptible and mortal alike have only to do with the body. So we see in 1 Corinthians is. It is not necessary that the body should go to corruption: the incorruptibility of the body is brought to light by the gospel. We do not find it in the Old Testament, having little hints here and there and that is all; eternal life is mentioned twice in the Old Testament; “life for evermore” in Psa. 133, and “some to everlasting life” in Dan. 12:3. You may perhaps spell it out, and some of them did, the Pharisees for instance. Hezekiah says “the living shall praise thee” in contrast with the dead in Isa. 38 When we are raised and changed, the “incorruptible" will be made apparent; when the dead are raised in incorruption, they will not corrupt any more. Immortality may refer to the soul; there is no difficulty about it.
At verse 17 we have the assembly, and in terrible disorder. “Heresies" and "sects" are the same. It is no use taking up words in an exclusive way; as, for instance, to distinguish worship and homage. We use "worship" now for worshipping God; but when our version was made, it was not at all so. It says "they worshipped God and the king" in the same sentence, and so in the church of England marriage service the man says, "with my body I thee worship." It did not mean worshipping God at all. Here we have three words, heresies, divisions, and sects. Schism is a positive division; heretic is merely a man being at the head of a school of doctrine, as that of the Epicureans. There were many schools of doctrines, or heresies. In modern language the word has come to mean false doctrine. If we were all breaking bread together, I might make a party and yet no schism, but it might go on to that. "Damnable heresies" means bad doctrine. We are to reject a party school in the church: "a man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject." Have no more to do with him.
In our chapter the apostle says, "First of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you." I do not suppose they had openly divided, but they were making parties; and he says there must be heresies among you, though no division yet, but that came from the setting up of these schools. Heresies and sects are not exactly the same. There are only two words in this text; "divisions" is the word schismata (v. 18), and the word heresies (hairesis) (v. 19), is often translated "sects."
In verse 18 “the” church would not do at all. It is not the church, but in that character of meeting, whenever the church met as such, not restricted to the breaking of bread on the Lord's day (for so the first day of the week was called): when the assembly met together the apostle taught the people. They might not have broken bread whenever they came together. If notice was given that the assembly would meet for a particular purpose, it would still be the assembly, though all did not come; it is the assembly when they come together as such. A reading meeting would not be such though all were there, because that is not the character of the meeting. A meeting for prayer is an assembly, but hardly the assembly of the place. Meetings are meetings of the assembly if it is understood that they meet as such, but the meeting must be accepted by the assembly. What I look for is the consciousness of meeting together in the Lord's name as one.
It will be observed that Paul received his instruction concerning the Lord's supper by revelation. The church and the unity of the body was the very thing entrusted to Paul. It is the local assembly here-the saints at Corinth, but what is wanted for action is that the whole assembly should come together for the purpose and with the intention of coming as such. Sometimes the Lord's supper is taken in a private house when a person is sick, and if it is done in unity, it is all well and very nice, but when a person is sick, I might not do it for other reasons. In the early church they used to send out a piece of bread dipped in the wine, to show that they were one. If I were ill for two or three weeks, I should bow to the chastening. A few might go to an isolated one, and break bread with him, if it is done in the spirit of unity; but if done in a party feeling, it would be wrong. It need not be named first if there is confidence; but if there is distrust, it should be named. We have no rule as to breaking bread oftener than every Lord's day. But I took the Lord's supper with the young men who were reading with me, every day for a whole year. So the early church did.
The words "take, eat" (v. 24) should be omitted: I suppose he expresses what is weighing on his mind, and “take, eat" does not come into his mind. To “be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (v. 27) is disrespect to it. Suppose I spat upon my mother's picture, in spirit I should be spitting upon my mother; it would be doing scorn to my mother, and so it would be in this case; to be guilty of it means to be guilty in the way you are dealing with the body and blood of Christ. Some leave out the word "unworthily" in verse 29, but it has been used before, and the sense is all right: it is in verse 27, and therefore it means so eating and drinking, that is, unworthily. The eater and drinker in verse 29 is the same as in verse 27. "Not discerning the Lord's body" is that a person takes it as his own or common bread and wine, perhaps drinks and gets tipsy. Carousing would not be discerning the Lord's body. It has nothing to do with being unworthy to eat or drink, but is the manner of doing it: in Christ, he is worthy; out of Christ, he is unworthy, which is another thing.
There is another principle at the end of the chapter which is not without its importance, and that is the government of God over His saints. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep; for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world." It is nothing difficult, but very important. We are chastened that we should not be condemned. “Come not together unto condemnation” (v. 34), is to judgment, it is your own fault that you should have to be accused and judged. The word “condemned" (v. 32) is distinctly in contrast with “judged” as well as in contrast with “chastened." “Condemned" is right in verse 32; but he eats and drinks judgment, or fault, or crime; for it is the thing a man is accused of to himself. “Condemnation” is not right in verse 34; “If any man hunger, let him eat at home, that ye come not together unto condemnation," judgment or fault. Our word "crime" is from the Greek word: it is the judgment that is passed, but it comes to be used also for the fault itself.
They were told to “tarry one for another," because each had been eating his own supper before his neighbour’s came, making a pic-nic, as it were, as they pleased. I do not know that they became actually drunk, but some were what one calls carousing. It is all readily understood, if you remember that they were taking a meal before the Supper. It is “the table of the Lord” in chapter 10, and “the supper of the Lord" in our chapter. We must keep each in its own connection. In chapter 10 it is the table of the Lord in contrast with the table of demons. There is no thought of that here, but the apostle is on another point, and with those who had nothing to do with demons. There was that which represented the body of Christ, and they were carousing, and getting tipsy or very near it; it was now the abuse of what was on the table.
In general the weakness and sickness would fall upon those doing wrong, but God might take away one righteous man to chastise the assembly, though it was not the case here: this applies only to the persons, the individuals who were guilty of the disorder. I think that the assembly ought to have judged it, and restored order: there was guilt in the assembly too. If an assembly is in a bad state, the Lord can combine the two, and wake up the conscience of the assembly. If the Lord take anyone so, it may be to his glory: in such a case he would be a martyr. When God deals in this way with individuals, we are outside of all dispensations.
There are two principles in Job, chapters 33 and 36. In chapter 33 God deals with men “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed, then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man." There God stops him. Then, in chapter 36, we have more; not that God only deals with man in His own sovereign way, but “He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous, but with kings are they on the throne, yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted." There we have the special fact, beyond the general care of God; just as in the case of Laban and Jacob, God is also always looking at the righteous, blessing them, as a rile. “As kings are they on a throne "; that is, figuratively. They are righteous people that God owns, and that God also chastens. We find it more distinctly when there is a particular government of God, as in Ezek. 18; and sometimes the sins of the fathers were visited on the children. Then, in the church of God, we have it definitely and little known. The apostle can tell them why this chastening came, “and if he have committed sins, they shall pray for him, and they shall be forgiven him," that is, unless it is a "sin unto death." Only, observe, the assembly ought to know why they are in such and such a condition. I do not doubt there are now quantities of discipline and sorrows that come upon the saints as discipline; I do not say all: you may find a man born blind who neither sinned, nor his parents; or, again, “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God "; or God may unite both. He might have chastened Lazarus, and yet used it for His own glory.
Discipline may be to check a tendency. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, that he might not be puffed up. The order is, we are chastened for a fault, but there may be much more. Paul meets with a messenger from Satan to buffet him. If a godly person were taken aside from an assembly, the assembly ought to inquire why it was so. It might be because they did not give heed to him; but that becomes a question of spiritual discernment. In Job the righteous are in contrast to believers. The value of the Book of Job is, that you get the great principles of God in connection with man. God was using everything for the purpose of helping the righteous man, and Satan was bringing in all that he could against him; and that before there was either law or gospel. As I observed just now, all sickness need not be discipline. Suppose God saw some evil among the saints: He will take means, in various ways, to arouse them to a sense of it. In nature you find a quantity of hidden caloric constantly, that comes out the moment there is something to call it out. It is a wonderful thing, when we think of God, that God not merely has saved us, but never withdraws His eyes from us. In a way it is as wonderful as is the salvation. Those who did not bow were cut off-" shall perish by the sword "-" Hypocrites in heart," “cry not when he bindeth them," goes further still. Notice, it was not the devil who began with Job, but God set Satan at work. The devil did not know what God was doing. "Hast thou considered my servant Job?” It was a great conflict between God and Satan, with a man between them. Satan's object, of course, is all mischief, but God allows him.
There is a difference between chastening and scourging. Chastening is a general word (as, for instance, the education of children) and the same word is used for “teaching," and a certain correction and discipline, and even punishing too; but when you come to scourging, it is the positive action and punishment. As a general rule, if we judge ourselves, we shall not be judged of the Lord. All will come out at the judgment-seat of Christ; it will make no difference, whether we have been chastened for it or not. It will all appear. I cannot know as I am known. I cannot give account of myself to God, if I do not give account of everything. And that, I believe, is a great blessing.
None of my sins will come up in that day as a question of judgment on myself. As to imputation, “He hath not seen iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel," when they were iniquitous and perverse all the while. But at that day I shall see all God's ways to me, and His dealings with me all through. If I look back now, I can see faults before I was converted, and nothing else; and. after that, faults that I have to be humbled for, and I say, How could I do so? Yet it does not rest on my conscience as though it was there. And then I shall see the goodness of God, with a blessed sense of how He has brought me through all, and what God has been to me in it all, with no question of judgment, or thought of it, for I have not then a nature that sins, even as to my body; I am a new creature.
There should be fear of one kind in connection with the government of the Father, but it is not servile dread; “Blessed is the man that feareth always." “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear," 1 Peter 1:17. And that is connected with the Father, and he continues as to the cost of redemption for motive: you know what it cost to redeem you out of your sins, and now, upon that ground, you think of your Father upon whom you call. There is no fear of God when I am going to meet Him, but now is the time to walk in His fear. If a Christian sins, it brings down a dealing of God with him, unless he confess it at once, and then God has no pleasure in afflicting. We find plenty about it in James 5:14-16, and in 1 John 5:16: such as, “God shall give him life for them that sin not unto death," and so on. I remember once saying to a person, "If you do not bow and break off that particular thing, you will not get well of your affliction." And three days before he died, he said, "I would not bow to the will of God; now it is too late." I have no doubt he went to heaven.
I could not say that, according as we love Christ here, we shall enjoy Him hereafter. Reward is for our labour: as to our place, we all get the same glory as Christ, “when he shall appear, we "-that is, all Christians-" shall appear with him in glory." And Paul cannot have anything better than that; but when you come to labour, it is a very different thing, and reward is accordingly. The Thessalonians will be Paul's crown, but they will not be ours; that is clear. We know not how this will be accomplished, but in glory Paul will have them as his crown, yet he will not take away Christ's crown; for it was all grace that did it, though Christ is pleased to reward the labour when it is faithfully done, owning, not me, but the grace of God that is in me. The reward has nothing to do with motive, and never is the motive for action in scripture; it is the encouragement in the service, when the person gets into trial by the motive.
Well, it is a great thing to see that there is this present government of God. There are cases where evil is the fruit of sin, believing or not believing; evil is in the world, but much is positive discipline, where, if there were faith to deal with God about it, the discipline would be removed. James 5 can be acted upon where there is faith to do it. I have known it acted on, and the use of oil also, in two cases where they asked for it themselves. In one case the doctor had said nothing could be done for her, and she had better go home to die. She recovered, and was walking about that week, and taking care of the poor. She had three daughters after that. In the other case I remember, the one prayed for was out in the street, and at a place where there was a very broad crossing; but a boy had placed a barrow across the path, and she stumbled against it. Her own brother who was passing ran to help her, and found it was his own sister, whom he supposed to be dying at home. Another case was that of J-, who was ordered not to speak or stir by the doctor; but he rode over to a place some twenty-five miles. When the brethren went in, he was vomiting blood, but he rode back the twenty-five miles; afterward he walked fifteen miles. It was a prayer-meeting in his case, but he was not anointed with oil. He was twice married afterward. Other cases I have had myself, having laid my hands on a baby once. Such things have generally been at the beginning of an awakening: there is an energy of faith that brings in God more directly. It is a question of faith very much, but this necessarily in the sick person. Some have professed to have the faith constantly, but I do not put much confidence in that. I believe God would answer the prayer of anybody that cried to Him.
Discipline would not go on after the prayer of faith. James refers to a case of discipline distinctly. Paul was sick, and the Lord had mercy upon him, but we do not know that he was prayed for at that time. He could perhaps have raised himself, but the apostles never wrought a miracle for their own comfort. Paul left Trophimus at Miletum sick. The words, “And if he committed sins," show that James refers to discipline. And the forgiveness is a question of present government, as the church can also forgive. I do not think we lay to heart enough the fact of government in that way. There is many a case, I am satisfied, which is real chastening, and all the doctors are of no use. It may sometimes be without any specific sin. I used, at one time, to be ill every year, and I laid it to this, that I did not keep close enough to the Lord in service. But you must take care that such a thought as that does not become legal. We read, “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit." This is not always for discipline; it may be for instruction. The Lord can combine the two. When Paul had a thorn in the flesh, whatever it was, it made him contemptible in his preaching, and was discipline, lest he should be puffed up; and so it was his glory and his discipline. The Lord can unite these things, but we cannot. Yet in His hands it may be our honour and our discipline at the same time.
Paul did not fail in asking the Lord to take away his thorn, though he may have failed in spiritual discernment: it is not the granting of a thing that proves whether it is right or wrong. Our Lord asked that the cup might pass away, and it did not, though the asking was in perfect submission, and He had His answer in resurrection. Yet “for this cause came I unto this hour." A person losing his mind may be in discipline; for “Affliction does not spring out of the dust “in any way. Take Job: he had elephantiasis, or whatever you call it; and when he had a house, there were plenty of winds to blow it down, and plenty of people to sweep away his cattle; but it was a particular use of these by Satan, and all within God's limits.
To return to our chapter:-we come now to spiritual manifestation. This is all the true order of the church. You do not get a hint that there were any elders, nor a suggestion to make them; either there were none or they disappear from view. And it was the Lord's goodness to give us here divine instruction how to go on, and give it in a way that suits us now. There may have been elders, but if so, seeing that they are not mentioned here, it is all the more strong for us now. In the action of the assembly the conscience of the assembly must be cleared: elders by authority could not do that. They could not put out. I remember a terrible hubbub in Geneva on this. I said only engineers can make a good road, but, when made, all the carters in the country can use it, and their elders-wise and godly brethren-were of immense value; but the action in actual discipline, publicly, must be made by the assembly; for the assembly has to clear itself, and no other way will do. As he says, “You have proved yourselves clear in this matter." Suppose the elders had put a person out rightly, this would not clear the conscience of the assembly. It would only lead ultimately to sorrow that they had to put him out. A brothers' meeting can only deliberate and take counsel, and perhaps the matter will be better weighed there than with a whole body of people.
The first thing here in chapter 12 is to distinguish the Holy Ghost from demons. The Corinthians were very fond of gifts, and so were liable perhaps to be ensnared by satanic manifestations; but no demon would say “Lord." If any spirit said “Lord," that was by the Holy Ghost. The point here was to distinguish between a good spirit and a bad one. It should be "no one can say." Sometimes the use of “man" is mischievous. It may be spirit, angel, devil, or anything else; it is merely a being, and "man" in English is wrong. Evil spirits are at work now, and in the same way exactly. When the apostle was preaching, there came one and said, These men show us the way of salvation. Now, apart from experience, you would not expect a demon to say that. How were they to distinguish? Mormonites used to go and preach the Lord's coming and baptize, and then when they had so laid hold of people, they would preach other things altogether. False doctrine may not always be the direct action of an evil spirit, but often it is. There is more the action of Satan in certain cases than people suspect. I do not doubt that in Irvingism there was much of it. And then if they were treated as Satan they would have no power at all. I was told at—they had a great deal more charity than I had; I really have no charity for the devil. When asked in Somersetshire to meet certain people, I would not go. Prince (of the Agapemone) stated publicly in the town of Bridgewater, that they could not preach or do anything because of the brethren who were there. And I believe he said the truth. So in W-'s case, I said that I would not go near, unless the Lord led me there, and then He would give me strength. S. wanted me to go, and I said no. H. came and I went with him, and the first night, I said, "I cannot say, but I think it is of the devil." He had stopped them from breaking bread; he said that "whenever there was any evil and nobody knew it, they were all contaminated, and they ought not to break bread, as they were all of one body," and so he stopped them. His wife could hardly contain herself against me. The next night I thought over it and cried over it before the Lord, and the following day I said it was the devil. The whole thing passed, and they have gone on happily there ever since. I believe he was puffed up, and that his wife was the real secret of it, and the devil was there. He had been much used, five hundred being converted in one year: it is said nine hundred, but an opponent said there were not more than five hundred. All are going on happily now, though they were very angry with me then. “Anathema Jesus" was the utterance of a man. The spirit said it, but by the man's mouth, of course. Anathema is a curse. It is never used in a good sense in the New Testament. The anathema among the heathen was a thing devoted to the gods and was killed. “Anathema maranatha" is a curse on him when the Lord comes.
We have then “gifts," "administrations," and "operations"; the Spirit, the Lord, and God. There are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit. If they were demons, they were diversities of spirits; you might have a legion of spirits in a person, or “seven demons." But here it is one Spirit.
Administrations were by one Lord, so that anyone in any service is the Lord's servant. We have the unity of the Spirit in contrast with these demons; next various administrations, but one Lord; and then these operations, which were a secondary and narrower thing, but one God. One God worketh everything; it was divine, one Spirit giving gifts; one Lord with administrations under Him; and then it is God that is working everything. “The administrations” may be wider than “the gifts," if we take in elders; but in Rom. 12 they all run together.
Turning to 1 Cor. 12 we have both the manifestation of the Spirit and miraculous gifts. The apostle was speaking in contrast with demons, etc., but it is a manifestation of the Spirit in power: so in chapter 14, if all prophesied, they were convinced of all, and judged of all, and thus the secrets of his heart were made manifest, and so, falling down on his face, he worshipped God, and reported that God was in them of a truth. It is more the outward manifestation that is in his mind here. It applies in principle to what remains now. There is the word of wisdom, etc. Speaking by “two or three, and that by course," applies now. I never did speak, if three had spoken. Simply reading a chapter is not speaking. Ordinarily we call prophecy the foretelling future events, but this is not the meaning of the word. It is “forth-telling," not "foretelling." We have this prophecy spoken of in verse to, for edification, exhortation, and comfort, but not as inspiration of some new revelation. The word is used both in a general way, and as a direct gift. We have not it in the special way.
The baptism of the Spirit (v. 13) was on the day of Pentecost, and when an individual believes, he is sealed and anointed. "In [or by] one Spirit" is "in the power of." A person says by one Spirit he was baptized, instead of saying in the power of one Spirit: it may become equivocal. You have been baptized by the Holy Ghost coming. By the coming and power of the Holy Ghost we have all been made one body, and if I have the Holy Ghost, I am brought in, and am united by it. By being sealed, I am joined to the Lord. God puts a testimony of salvation on a man, and we cannot really say what he is until then, even though I may feel sure he is being wrought in by God. Yet he has not his place along with Christ in this world until then. We cannot say a person is saved until God has put His seal upon him. It is baptism into one body, and drinking of one Spirit. They are shades of thought. It reads, “For by one Spirit," and “for as the body” (v. 12, 13); but the word “for," in more than half the cases, is not a connection with what has gone immediately before, but rather a reference back to some great principle.
The body (v. 12) is for eternity, though a person when he dies passes out of the body, as manifested in time; he ceases to be part of that which was formed of God, by the Holy Ghost down here, but in result the whole will be Christ's body. If a person dies, he is like any one on furlough, and forms no actual part of the regiment in active service. We must recollect that the Holy Ghost has come down to earth. Christ, as God, created everything, but that was not His actual existence as when He came, but still He had been working, and had created everything. And so as to the Holy Ghost Christ said, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come." Now, every direct action of God on the creature is by the Spirit: yet He came on the day of Pentecost. Our Lord says, “When he is come," and so on. Of course, when He forms the body, He forms it where He is; but as God He does not give up the person that dies, neither his body, for He has got it all in His hands, and under His eye, to be raised. Even the body is not given up, but it ceases to be in that corporation which the Holy Ghost has formed on earth. If one die, he belongs to the body, and is held to belong to Christ. His body is in the dust, and his spirit is with Christ.
When you get to the "nots" and the "onlys," it is a dangerous thing. If you say, "He is not of the body," naturally you conclude that he did not belong to it at all. If you say, "belongs only down here," you exclude the body for Christ in eternity. If I say, That is in Scripture, I bring my text, and there it is: if I say, "not," then I must know the whole of the scripture to say so. In our knowledge, negatives are universals, and affirmatives only are particular.
In Eph. 1, we may notice, Christ is head in title, and not yet: in God's counsels the church is Christ's body, neither present, future, nor past, for it is all in counsel; but here, in Corinthians, it is the actual thing in accomplishment, distinct quite from Ephesians, which is purpose and counsel. And here, too, it is the nature of the thing. Then we have the dependence of the members down here; and it is important to see that all this is down here, because when I read, "He set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets," and so on (v. 28-30), then all this is not in heaven. The apostle says, "in the assembly" (v. 28), so not "in the body," because it is a matter of historical fact. The body is a figure; and he is stating the fact of the realization of this in the assembly; so that it would not suit so well to say, "He set some in the body."
Verse 25- "The members should have the same care "proves that all the saints ought to have a care one for another; and that would include every member of the body on earth. "The same care," he says: it is not simply his taking a care for them, but I ought to care for you in the sense of love, and interest and heart being there; it is not "taking care of," but a different idea. We are all one body: my hand is interested in my eye, and my eye in my hand. All are dependent one on another, in spite of themselves, though it ought to be in love.
"Now ye are the body of Christ," v. 27. The local assembly stands as a whole body. You cannot say that the assembly in Corinth was the whole body of Christ, but it was its local expression. You could say the same of any place. It is all that expresses the truth of the assembly there. A wise master builder would not know what to do with a ruined house. So, if Paul came down, I do not know to whom he would write now. There is a danger of losing, in a local assembly, the truth of the whole body, and so of having only the representation instead of the reality. I fully recognize that in the principle of meeting this is the only thing that God owns; but in our owning the local thing, I dread losing the whole thing. At Corinth the one answers to the other.
We get an exact list of gifts. The apostle's object was to give the manifestations in the church. Barnabas was an apostle too beside Paul and the twelve. There are different words rendered “gift," and they have shades of meaning. “Gifts"(charisma) (v. 4) is the giving when there is need strictly, and "gift" (dorea) (Eph. 4:7) is the freedom of the gift, and so on. We should look for such gifts as will edify, and desire them. Here they were vain of their tongues; but if you were to talk Chinese, nobody would understand you. You had better seek what will edify; if you prophesy, you will help others. So, if a man desire the office of a bishop, it is a good work.
In our chapter it is power by the Holy Ghost come down; in Eph. 4 we have Christ as the Head coming for His body. There Christ gives from on high. Here the Holy Ghost comes down, and is distributing. There is capacity as well as gift. In the parable in Matt. 25 our Lord gives to every man according to his several ability. God had formed the vessel for the purpose. In Luke a great deal more is thrown on man's responsibility; in the talents it is more God's grace. In Luke, therefore, you find ten cities and five cities in reward; while in Matthew both are alike, and here "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." It is responsibility, and reward according to labour, in Luke.
Some of these gifts have been called sign-gifts, because it is said they were a sign to unbelievers. They were for the inauguration of Christianity, but there is no intimation of their continuance. The church continues, if you take the secret wisdom of God; if you take the revealed statement of God, there is no intimation of remaining here. You will never find the church contemplated as remaining, so as to put off the coming of the Lord. In the parables with reference to it, though we have "After a long time," yet the servants to whom the talents were entrusted are the same as those who are judged; the virgins who slept are they who are roused and so on. So with the seven churches, all was existing then, and yet it has been all going on.
As to the signs, we read, "confirming the word with signs following," as a promise. Moses wrought miracles, and Elijah too, in the midst of apostate Israel. But not so the other prophets. Isaiah and Jeremiah worked no miracles, nor John Baptist. When God is introducing something new, you have them-wherever the thing was to be made good in testimony for our poor hearts to sanction the truth. I see no restoration of miracles, or of anything indeed. There will be miracles at the end on the devil's part: power, and signs, and lying wonders. There was no statement to the church that it must lose them at a certain time, nor that they must go on for a certain time. Some ask as to the continuance of apostles and elders. This was what they said to me in Switzerland: "How can you think of God setting up a church with elders and apostles, and yet making no provision for their continuance?” I said, It is so, because God did not mean the church to continue. We see this to be the way God used miracles. Of course, He could work a miracle at any time.
It is to be noticed, that, in verse 26, the apostle does not say (though it would be right to say it) that if one member suffer, all the members do suffer with it. God has tempered the body, that it should be so; and I trust it is in measure the case. The realization of it is diminished by divisions and distances, and all that kind of thing; but do you suppose that, if there is a great work of blessing going on in India or Canada, there is not a blessing, too, in Ireland? Of course there is, as far as living energy goes. The thing is true, though spoiled in a measure. In an assembly where a brother is not walking in the Lord, if the gathering is spiritual, they will feel it, and there will be an immediate consciousness that something is grieving the Spirit. But if my soul is deadened, as you may sometimes see, of course it is not felt so distinctly. If a person cuts my hand, I do not merely say, "Why did you cut my hand?" but my whole body feels it. If an individual were chastened, the assembly feels it in a measure; if they were insensible to it, they would be all the more hardened. The suffering here is any kind of trial, but it applies to chastisement, because we have all one life. It is, by there being one Spirit in it all, that it is so, and it always has a certain effect, though the body may be so divided as to feel it but little. We can be awakened by the work of the Spirit and the word of prayer. If any can apply the word, let them apply it. When there is sin in an assembly, if they judge it, they prove themselves clear; but if they do not, things will get worse, or the Lord deal with them. “Leaven" would apply to both the sin and their refusing to judge it. The thing the apostle wants in 2 Corinthians is to bring them all into obedience: he says, "When your obedience is fulfilled." Our own condition is of first importance. We are never independent of the state we are in, or of the Lord's judgment of it.
"Now ye are body of Christ" (v. 27) is an important principle. The local assembly stands as the body of Christ, for it acts for the whole body, and is recognized as the whole body in a certain sense in its acting. If a person is put out at Belfast, he is put out from the whole body. Suffering affects the whole, though it takes place locally, and action is of the same character in that sense; and then, in verse 24, God hath done “this," that there should not be a schism in the body; that is, given such provision, though it is seen in individuals in various places. Verse 24 includes all persons who may be exceedingly valuable and yet not appear at all. It does not bring in a question of a schism. There could be no schism in the body itself; but, taking the whole thing, he says God may put honour on one person, and there may be another very quiet with a little gracious word of counsel to the rest, without outward honour put upon him.
In "covet earnestly the best gifts," the emphasis is on "best," gifts that edify. The desire should be in the individual and in the assembly. Suppose I felt the assembly wanted teaching, I might earnestly desire to be able to unfold Scripture to them. Gifts belong to the whole body of course, though they may be used locally. Take the highest gift, and apostle, he was not an apostle merely in a particular place. An evangelist is the servant of Christ, not of the assembly; but wherever he may be, he is of the church himself. If there is no assembly gathered where he is, then he is alone; but if there is an assembly, he is of it. And the first thing in him is to gather to Christ. Say that I go to Galatia, and the Lord converts fifty, they are gathered to Christ, not to the assembly I had come from. An evangelist would be for the edifying of the body of Christ, inasmuch as he brings the souls in and adds them. How could you build up a church without people, without bricks (or scripturally I should say, “stones ")? I should in this connection be jealous of two things exceedingly: of a person separating himself in spirit from the saints; or of the assembly thinking his work was their affair. I think it is of great importance that the workman should be clearly Christ's servant; but if he works in any spirit of separation from the saints, I could not go with it. An evangelist may not necessarily gather to anything that was there but to Christ, with a full knowledge of redemption; and having Christ and a full knowledge of redemption, they could not go on with anything else.
Now-a-days the great thought commonly even among Christians is the conversion of souls to go to heaven; then (in Paul's time) there was no thought of anything but the church, and converts went in as a matter of course. One is thankful where there is now any better sense; one hears of souls converted all over England and small gatherings springing up. Bringing converts to a full knowledge of redemption does not always bring them unto the ground of Christ: anybody that has a pastor's heart and power should look after such. Paul himself was more than an evangelist merely, but he gets Timotheus, Silas, etc., to go and visit these places where he had laboured, and see how they were going on. Paul wanted Apollos to go to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:12); but from a beautiful feeling Apollos would not go, for they were saying, "I of Paul, and I of Apollos." Paul had no jealousy, and wished him to go; but Apollos feared the effect of it, and would not. In the time of a revival I said to S. in Kingstown, What are you going to do with all these converts? He said, The Lord will take care of them. The result was that it all died out. I do not think this was the case with our brethren in France; when they were blessed, they stayed and gathered the converts to the table. The nearest local assembly may be a long way off. I think there is responsibility on all the church of God.
This does not really confound gifts with assemblies. The assembly would not act collectively merely, though it would have fellowship with labourers. When Paul laid hands on any to give him a gift, he was glad to have the testimony of the elders with his own. As to elders themselves, the apostles chose elders, but it is not said that hands were laid on them, yet I believe it was so. He says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man," but does not state that it refers to elders. Remember all this is very different from "gift."
I do not want to leave the thought as to the care of souls that are converted. If you look at a pastor, you see in his very expression a difference from an evangelist. An evangelist will say, "O Lord, look at these poor sinners "; and a true pastor will say, "O Lord, look at these poor sheep." There is this point too: the character of revival preaching does not tend so much to gather together perhaps, though having a measure of excitement in it; and souls so converted have no thought of being gathered, and it is very difficult in a revival work to bring souls into a condition to receive further teaching. I remember an expression of one who "wanted a sermon to pull him up." There is dear—whose preaching is exciting, but finds the converts who get a taste for worship go elsewhere, and those remain who want the exciting preaching. But there is a kind of looking after people that I should not give in to. You cannot follow into ways which cultivate a thing that is not according to God. It is an anxious thing when souls are brought in; an evangelist will not be careless about his converts, but then his special work occupies him. I believe there is many a gift that is not developed from want of devotedness.
In the beginning of chapter 12 the apostle supposes all manner of gifts, but no grace. (This is of moment, too, in the opening of Heb. 6) A person may have the faith here spoken of without reality. He is talking of faith to remove mountains, not of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's person. We find power and grace constantly distinguished. We find the power and not the grace in the Old Testament, in such an one as Balaam for instance, but not exactly such instances in the New Testament: there we find Judas rather.
We have a blessed description of love in this chapter. "God is love." It is sovereign goodness, coming out of itself. It goes beyond "The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." It is the same love, but here it is in its different characters. "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing." It is not a definition, but the way love works. But what we find here is divine love in the world; which is such a different thing from law. It is what is above all the evil that is round it, and therefore can feel for all the evil; love is affected, but never touched in itself by it. That is what I see in its working. So we see Christ going through this world. Love is a sovereign thing. There are two kinds of love, both divine: a downward love which is sovereign in its nature-God really-which is in our hearts in a certain sense through the Holy Ghost; and then I find another which goes upward, and there is a holy affection to which I am subject. We find an analogy to it in husband and wife. Thus, where divine love is working in my heart towards others, it goes downwards; but when I get the state of my soul, I must look up and I am subject. In "walk in love as Christ also hath loved us, and given Himself for us," we have divine love. This is the giving up of myself altogether; and then I get to God, who is the object. And therefore it is said that we are light, but it is never said that we are love, because love is sovereign, and we cannot say we are that.
In our chapter we have love in the character of the Spirit of Christ working us. I must have a power that is above all the evil that is around me, and yet walk in graciousness through it all; and this is the reason the love of the law would not do for this world. If I love my neighbour as myself, it is not enough for a world of evil; there I must have a love that can go on, and be superior to all the evil, and this is what Christ was. It can feel all the evil too. Having no self in it, it has no self roused by all the evil that is around, and therefore it can feel for the people that are there. It "suffereth long," that is downward; it "seeketh not her own" – downward too. It is not merely that it delights in God, and in what is blessed here, but it is looking around in the midst of evil and selfishness.
“Rejoicing with the truth" (as it reads in the margin). It is in the truth, no doubt. The truth is there, and I rejoice with it, and take delight in it. Suppose the truth is being preached; my heart goes with it, and is delighted.
“Believeth all things" is not being suspicious: one believes readily. It "hopeth all things "; it does not mean ill, it does not think of evil. Evil tends to depress the soul, but God is above all that. I find constantly the danger of thinking the evil is greater than the good; but if I bring in God, He is greater than all opposed. Christ was here in the world with no thought of suspicion, and that is the spirit in which we are to walk through the world. If you are always suspecting people, who will trust you? I feel the great difficulty in seeing the evil, which is apt to get the upper hand of your mind; though it is no good deluding oneself that it is not there, because it is there. But love will go on in heaven when there is no evil to think about; prophecies will fail, tongues cease, and knowledge vanish away. "When that which is perfect is come" (v. 10) means the time of glory, when everything is perfect, and these partial things will have ceased. Knowledge now is in degree, "we know in part "; all that kind of learning will pass away. Learning is a proof of ignorance, and this will not be then. Even in divine things we learn, and all that is testimony to ignorance. It gives a great idea of the littleness of man in that way. All these partial instruments of communicating will be done with when I know as I am known: which is, I believe, God's way of knowing; it is not knowing in part; it is not so much the measure as the manner of God's knowing. God can create ideas. I know so far as things are knowable to be known. Now we see "darkly” what we do not see clearly. It is just as I see through a window, instead of seeing the object at once. It is an extraordinary expression; we do not see clearly, but in a mystery, not like plain open things. It is an enigma, though I do not like that word, because it does not suit divine things.
"Faith, hope, and charity," or love, are not put accidentally here. They are the three things that are characteristic of the Christian state now, “putting on the breastplate of faith and charity [the same word], and for a helmet the hope of salvation," 1 Thess. 5:8. Some ten times in the New Testament faith, hope, and love are put together. They are positive elements, faith and hope referring to the present state I am in, and charity to the present and eternal state. Faith lays hold of an object, and hope desires it. The word “charity" is an ecclesiastical word. Love is really what God is. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and this never fails. When we possess a thing, we have done with faith and hope as to it: they have passed into positive fruition, as we say. There will be love in heaven, but we shall not have faith there, because there will be sight; and we shall not have hope there, because we have got possession. "Now abideth" shows the three as present things, but charity never fails.
In this chapter the apostle is referring to these tongues which shall cease; the Corinthians were vain of them; and he says they are not to use them save conditionally.
Verse 3 is the way in which prophecy works, rather than a definition of prophecy. It is speaking unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. It can be now, of course, in that way; knowledge and doctrine abide, though the giving forth of revelation does not, because all is revealed (that is, in the word). We speak of revelation in a lower sense, when anyone gets something he had not before; but then that is only what is already in the word. It is not so much here a question as to the character of the prophecy, but he contrasts the prophesying with tongues, when no one understood them; and it is as regards those who are within, not those who are without.
In “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (v. 15), suppose I was praying, and did not understand what I was saying, what good would there be in that? In "my spirit prayeth," it is just as it might be in a groan that could not be uttered. The tongues, in a sense, superseded the confusion of tongues. Instead of grace confining itself to Israel, the gift of tongues opened it up to all nations. We see a specimen of it in Acts 2; it reversed Babel, as it were. Only on the day of Pentecost it was all plain and simple; but now the Corinthians were abusing it. The moment it was given, it was for all the nations in carrying the gospel to them.
The saying Amen, in verse 16, is general, I think; it would include the Lord's supper too. But if some prayed in Dutch or Persian, nobody here, at least, could say, Amen. A very wonderful thing were the tongues. There is little difference between "when ye come together in the church," in chapter 11: 18, and “the whole church be come together into some place," in chapter 14: 23. It may be more emphatic in chapter 14, that is all. The way the difference at all comes about is in chapter 11; it is the character of their coming together, in assembly; here is the whole assembly come together. The one is a character; the other is a thing. The "unlearned" persons (v. 23) are those not taught in the word. This is true of an unbeliever, but we have the unbelievers named also. The word is "idiotes," and a person not instructed in an art was called such; a private person. It makes two classes, the untaught in the things of God, and the actual unbeliever. There were no catechumens at that time. When the catechumen was first invented, they were allowed to hear the first exhortations; and when the church part came on, they were all sent out. That is the origin of the word mass, from 'Ite: missa est.'*
(* The formula of dismissal by the officiating minister.')
In thinking of the one who was “convinced of all, and judged of all” (v. 24), we must remember how instruction was obtained; Peter and John were not taught as Rabbis were. They had not rabbinical instruction, though this was much esteemed of course. How many poor people now will say, If a man is not a clergyman, how can he know anything about it? That would be the feeling. Such a one, convinced and judged, will “worship." Because he finds God working thus, and falls down and owns Him. The presence of God acts upon his spirit, and bows it; and his conscience is reached. The secrets of his heart are told out to himself. God's presence finds it all out to himself, without his speaking to others. It is the power of the Spirit of God on a man's conscience.
In verse 25 "God is in you" is collective. En is used for "among" and "in," when the noun is collective. "In you" is perhaps better, because it looks at the assembly as a whole. Verse 26 does not imply a censure, nor that the things were all looked out ready. He speaks of a revelation, and this could not be a cut and dried thing. But they were abusing the power of the Holy Ghost: there was no order. Verse 3o is merely the general spirit of subjection. But now there is no revelation. I do not think one was to wait* till another had done; order is before power. God is never the author of confusion. Verse 32 teaches that the moral power is superior to mere power. The “tongue" is subject to me, as we said before. Whatever I might have in power, if it were spiritual wisdom not to speak, I should not speak. The moral judgment of the prophet is superior to mere power, however real and mighty. Verse 34 is the tenor of the law, if not a particular law. The apostle is peremptory about it in Timothy. "I suffer not a woman to teach," he says. I think it is a little out of place for a woman even to raise a hymn; but I do not object, if she do it modestly. If three women were on a desert island, I do not see why they should not break bread together, if they did it privately. A man and his wife being alone, I see no objection to their breaking bread, if they themselves feel free and are disposed.
Chapters 12 and 14 are separated by a chapter on love. Charity comes in, by the bye, in the middle, to teach them how to use their gifts. He brings in love too, as the root of all right action, as of everything else; and then he goes on to the order and exercise of gift. We have the doctrine in chapter 12, and the exercise of gifts in chapter 14. There is no law as to the order of the morning meeting. If a person had a word to say before the breaking of bread, I should not object; but I enjoy prominence given to the breaking of bread on the Lord's day morning.
The apostle now speaks of resurrection. His keeping it till the last, in this way, is remarkable. We have a great truth brought out in the chapter, in the total identification of Christ with men-saints, but man as man, because he says, if men do not rise, Christ is not risen. I have not the least objection to verse 22 as it stands in the English Version, for all the wicked will be raised, as well as the righteous. As in Adam everybody in Adam dies, so in Christ all in Christ will be made alive. Verse 21 is more general; it is merely the fact that resurrection comes by man. You could only say “in Christ“of the wicked, if you take it in the power of Christ. The whole account is the resurrection of the saints. When you take in resurrection of the dead, it is abstract, and it is resurrection that is insisted on.
The destruction of death, if you take it for the wicked, will be the second death. The wages of sin is death in general, but strictly the first death; though wrath of God from heaven is revealed along with the gospel. I know of no scripture that speaks of Christ bearing the second death. He bore what brings us into it. It is a great thing to keep to Scripture. “The lake of fire," “the second death," is not annihilation.
You must recollect that all that is behind death is fully brought out on either side by the gospel. The Pharisees spelled out something of resurrection, but life and incorruptibility are brought to light by the gospel. In the Old Testament eternal life is mentioned but twice, and both times in connection with the millennium; and in the judgment on Adam there is no judgment beyond death-" dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return "-that is all. Of course, when God was driving out the man, the woman was to have sorrow in her conception, and so on; and plenty more comes out in the other scriptures; but as for the present state, death of the body was what was imposed on him as the consequence. There were other intimations in the Old Testament, whence the Pharisees had gathered the truth, but it was a matter of spiritual apprehension. All the Old Testament saints will be in the resurrection, though I do not know that they are included in this scripture. "They without us shall not be made perfect."
The resurrection of Christ from among the dead is the testimony to God’s acceptance of those that are raised. It is merely a question of time. If the dead are raised altogether, then they are all to come together into judgment. But God takes Christ out-the seal of His perfect acceptance-from the rest of the dead; and when the time comes, we shall be taken out from the dead in just the same manner. God does raise the wicked, and Christ will judge the wicked, and then He will give all up to God.
There is a passage in Phil. 3 as to the resurrection, which makes it simple about the body: “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." It is wonderful what revelations we have of the plans of God, compared with the darkness of man! Rom. 8:11 also refers to resurrection-" shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
In our chapter two things are evident: one that is always our portion in spirit, that is, the time when the dispensation and ordering of things will cease; and the other, the actual having to say to God, “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." There is the whole system of dispensed power which comes in by-and-by; and then you get God all in all, when all mediatorial provision to bring it about is complete, and He will render up the kingdom to God. In one sense we reign forever and ever, but all the governmental system that brings the thing about will be closed.
The apostle John does not give dispensations, but deals more immediately with natures; what he does is evidently the bringing out the manifestation of God. "No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "If we walk in the light, as God is in the light," and so on; it is the revelation of God's nature.
But here it is all a system of counsels and power, which is, in a certain sense, provisional, and so only for a time. The object is, that God-not the Father-may be all in all. And there comes a blessed fact with it, that the Lord Jesus never gives up His manhood; "then shall the Son also himself be subject." You have the sonship in John most fully. Christ was God, and came to be a servant, presently to take the government, and all authority and power is put down, and then He takes the place of subjection, and all as man. It is not that He is not God, for He is God all the time. His divinity comes out in John at every step. He is never as a mere man in John's Gospel; yet He never goes out of the place of a person that receives everything. He has taken the form of a servant, and says, "I have glorified thee on earth," and now "glorify thou me." He does not say, I glorify Myself. And again, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him; if God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." In John 17 He speaks as Son of God; "Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
It is beautiful to see Him God, but man, all through that Gospel! That is just what Satan tried to get Him out of down here; but no, if Satan says "Give up your place as a servant," He says, “That is where I am now come." Nor does He ever cease to be the firstborn among many brethren, and that is a wonderful thing to us. But you never find the glory of His person touched, however much He comes amongst us, and at His baptism by John, He quite takes His place as a man. Of course, there was no need for Himself to be baptized with the baptism of repentance; but in grace He takes the place with those who did need it; whereon immediately heaven is opened to Him, and the Holy Ghost comes down, and He is sealed and anointed by the Holy Ghost. If the Father owns Him as His Son, there also He takes His place with us.
When heaven is opened to Stephen, at once we see the difference. Stephen has an object in heaven which he is looking at, and which forms him into the same image. But when heaven is opened to Christ, heaven is looking down at Him, not He at an object there. And so the glory of His Person is always secured. In the transfiguration He was in exactly the same glory as Moses and Elias, and they were as He; but, the moment the glory comes out and the Father's voice is heard, Moses and Elias are gone. Even where His saints are in the same place with Him, the glory of His Person is completely secured. It was so at the transfiguration, as well as at His baptism. And the nearer we are to Christ, the more we shall see the glory of His Person. It is blessed to see this. He still remains the firstborn among many brethren. If were only an angel, there would not be much in it.
Psa. 8 will be made good at the beginning of the millennium. His enemies will be made His footstool according to Psalm Ito, but the same general sense. He is sitting at His Father's right hand now, but when His Father makes His enemies His footstool, then He begins to trample them down. In Psa. 8 He gets this power, and is set over the works of His hand. He has three distinct titles to this place over all things: He created them in Colossians, and therefore is Head over all things; then, in Colossians and Hebrews, He takes it as Son, because, if He is Son, He is heir; and then there is a third title, as Son of man He takes it to Himself, but in the way of doing it, He takes it in redemption: God reconciles everything by Him. The full result of Psa. 8 will not be reached until death is destroyed. God puts all things under His feet as Son of man at the beginning of the millennium, and then He begins to put them down, and, when all is done, He gives the kingdom up. The kingdom of heaven is going on now; not the kingdom of the Son of man, though He is King, and entitled to take the kingdom at any time. He is ready to judge both quick and dead; only He is sitting there till the moment, known to God, when He is to take the kingdom manifestly, and in actual execution. Now it is all a provisional state. He is sitting on the Father's throne, and has not taken His own at all; still the kingdom belongs to Him; only it is going on as in the parables of Matt. 13, a kingdom without a king, in patience, not power. This is not a kingdom in the literal sense, but the shape the kingdom takes before the King takes His power, though He is King.
The destruction of death will not be until the great white throne. The taking of the kingdom will be a total change in the order of things; but the great difference will be, that (instead of a rejected Christ, and the Holy Ghost giving power to go against the stream) when the Lord comes, the stream is in the way of righteousness: power and glory, and everything, are in the way of righteousness. Now people have to make sacrifices; if they follow Christ, they have their cross. Only He is excepted who did put all things under Him: otherwise it is all without exception. We have it in Psa. 8, and quoted in three places-Eph. 1:22, Heb. 2, and this chapter. It is more developed in Heb. 2; it says, we see not yet all things put under Him. Half the psalm is fulfilled, but not yet the other half. He is crowned with glory and honour, but we do not see everything put under His feet, and there He sits on the Father's throne. In Ephesians He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body. In Psa. 2 we have Him as Son of God and King of Israel down in the earth: only He is rejected, and then we have the state His rejection leaves the Jews in, until Psa. 8, when we have everything put under Him. We find the Messiah's glory and title set aside for a time, when those who followed with Him are in trial and difficulty; and then Jehovah's name is excellent in all the earth, when the Son of man is set over everything, and this is seen in Psa. 8
That gives the whole scheme of God's ways in Christ, not the church, but as to the earth. In the end of John 1 Christ is owned according to Psa. 2, “the Son of God and King of Israel." And Christ says, You shall see greater things than these-the Son of man on the throne. And then, in John 2, we have the millennium settled among the Jews on earth, the water of purifying turned into the joy of earth at the marriage, and with a scourge of small cords He purges the temple. Those are the two sides of the millennial character, and that is why it is called the third day. You cannot make anything of those days in John, if you do not see it is the remnant up to Nathaniel. The history, in fact, has many days; but the days taken notice of are John Baptist's ministry, Christ's, and then the third day. It is just the same at the end of John: this is the third time that Jesus showed Himself, and that third time is the millennium. It is meant to be mysterious, and it is so. The first time He sent His disciples for a haul (Luke 5:6), the net brake; but now, when the Lord comes back again, the net did not break, although there were so many fishes (153). It is purposely mysterious, I do not doubt. There had been the revelation to Thomas before; and He had shown Himself eight days before that. This was the third time, when He gathers them at the end. Paul's ministry is entirely left out here, but we have Peter and John's ministries:-Peter's, to feed the sheep; and, as for John, the Lord says, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me "; and this is what John did; he goes watching over the church until Christ come.
In our Lord's speaking with Peter (John 21), two words are used: phileo (I am attached) is more intimate, agapao (I love) is more general. Peter says, I love you with the intimacy of a friend. It is curious, that, though the verb phileo is used, the noun from it is never used in the Greek. The Lord uses the general word first, and probes his heart; and then again, "Lovest thou me?" and the third time He says, "Affectionest thou me?" "I not only love you," says Peter, "but have affection for you." I think there is great instruction there. The Lord never reproaches Peter, but goes to detect the root that had produced the fault: and Peter is not really restored until he had judged the root. I do not mean that he may not have confessed it honestly, but he is in danger of the same again. The moment he had been put to the test, he did not know the Lord at all, and nothing but divine knowledge could have said that he loved Him. Divine knowledge could say all things; and then, when the Lord has completely humbled him, He puts entire confidence in him: "Feed my sheep." The very thing Christ loves most on this earth He trusts to this man. It was a complete destruction of Peter's self-confidence, and then he knew what the resource for a poor sheep was: since he had judged himself thoroughly, he knew where to take the sheep. The Lord never can trust anybody that trusts himself. It is not that a person is not sincere. Peter was perfectly sincere, but he did not know himself.
Then the Lord, we may say, leaps over to His coming. Then there was another thing as to Peter I may mention- He puts an end to his will. Peter had declared he would follow Him to prison and to death-the thing he could not do. If only a servant girl asks him, “Are you one of them?” he is afraid, and begins to curse and swear. The Lord now says, “When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God." ' When your will is gone, you will follow Me.' The very thing he said he would do, and could not, because he trusted the flesh, that thing, when he had no confidence of his own, was what he would do, and really did so. It was a thorough breaking down of the flesh, and then Christ trusts all to him, both His sheep and His lambs. There is a difference there: first, “Feed my lambs"; then, "Shepherd my sheep"; and then, "Feed my sheep." "Shepherd," in that way, is sometimes important; the elders are called on to shepherd the flock; the Greek word means not to feed merely, but to care for and watch over them. We have no ascension here; all passes over to Christ's coming: we have nothing of Paul, but only Peter and John; Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, and John's ministry going on till the Lord came.
To return to our chapter. It may be remarked that the baptism for the dead, in verse 29, means, that you take your part with the dead, and for the dead, whether it be Christ, or anybody else. It is a very old thought. Doddridge had it two hundred years ago; he says, Here's a man who has fallen in the ranks, and another steps forward in his stead; what is the good of that, if nobody rises?
“I die daily" (v. 31) is an outward thing. The difference of the glories is, I believe, between the heavenly and the earthly. “So also is the resurrection of the dead "-the state of the resurrection is more glorious than the state down here.
All that is told of the first resurrection is testimony against the entire idea of taking people to judgment in the way the evangelical system does. “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ "-be manifested there-that must be, but the saints are in glory before they arrive there: therefore the idea of a judgment, whether they are to have the place or not, is altogether too low. The real power of redemption has been lost sight of, and the resurrection itself is the fruit of that redemption. Just as Christ Himself was taken from among the dead (besides, He “could not be holden of it ") by the glory of the Father owning Him in righteousness as Son, so the saints will be taken out too. But there the resurrection was putting the seal of acceptance publicly upon Christ's whole work; and everything is settled. Whereas, also, if the saints alone are raised, and taken out from among the wicked dead presently, it too is a positive testimony to their acceptance.
In Mark Christ told them, after the transfiguration, to tell no man until after He should be risen “from among the dead." The disciples were wondering what this rising from the dead should mean; that was what astonished them. Every Pharisee in the country believed there would be a resurrection; but a rising out from among the dead they could not make anything of. The whole idea of a judgment to come to settle a person's case seems to me to upset all Christianity. Paul has been eighteen hundred years in heaven, and you are going to take him out to judge whether he is to be there or not! It is absurd upon the face of it. People fancy that the testimony to the fullness of redemption weakens morality: nay, but the fullness is in Christ, and being in Christ I also see that Christ is in me. Then if Christ is in you, let us never see anything but Christ in your ways every day. All duties flow from the place we are in already. You could not have the duties of children to me if you are not my children, nor could you, if you slaved yourselves to death, become my children. But if you were my children, you would have the duty of living as such. A woman cannot act as the wife of a man, if she is not his wife, and so on. But then the duty is there if the relation is. Are you sure of being saved forever? asks one. Well, is that my child? Yes; then he is my child forever. God gives a ground for all action, but it is not duties and conditional promises: you cannot have a duty without first putting a person in the place it belongs to. And then God gives a new nature that delights in the duty, whereon He sets you to do it.
But I was alluding to the fact that we are raised in glory, and surely, if we are there, the question of judging whether we are to be there is all nonsense. And so the first resurrection is not merely a notion about some high-flown thing. “Some have not the knowledge of God "; for this denying the resurrection was connected really with a moral state; there was no real knowledge of God. A Christian might have fallen into such a state, but the knowledge of God is that revelation of God to the soul which is estimated by the new nature, and is the spring of all acquaintance with truth. A saint may fall into such a state, for the flesh in the saint is as bad as in the sinner, or worse. Paul here states the fact, “some have not the knowledge of God," just as we were saying, the other day, a man asleep is, as regards others, just the same as a dead man. Some needed the exhortation, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." Such are thinking after the flesh, instead of thinking after Christ, though before God not really in the flesh.
The knowledge of God is immensely important; if I have not light, I do not know what light is; the knowledge of a being flows from partaking of the nature of that being. An animal does not know what a man is, though there may be greater men, and stronger men, and wiser, than myself. Hence "he that loveth not, knoweth not God." If God is love, and I have got His nature, then I know He is, and what He is. But there are some people who have not the knowledge of God. As I said, you must have the nature of a being to know that being; and now I know what God is, because I have been made partaker of the divine nature, or else I had not the knowledge of God. “We" walk in the light, as God is in the light, and that was the difference between Israel and Christians. God was behind a veil to them, but now He has come out in Christ, and that veil is rent, and we come in. And so now the wrath of God is revealed from heaven; that is not the government of God sending the people to Babylon, or elsewhere, but wrath in full, or else there must be no "ungodliness." And the death that rent the veil, and let God out, put away the evil that kept us outside. Of old they might have learned at least some of God's ways: for "He showed his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel "; that is, if they were spiritual. Moses says, "Show me thy way, that I may know thee." That was something of it, but the Christian, properly speaking, knows God. Gal. 4:8gives you, "When ye knew not God," and then, “After that ye have known God." There is a moral estimate of what God is. If I find a ritualist, I say, You do not know God, you could not, as long as you bow down your head like a bulrush, as Isaiah says (chap. 58: 5), and think God can be worshipped by all these mummeries; you do not know God really.
Those in 2 Peter 3, who were “entangled” and “overcome," had known Christ in a superficial way; there was no real change of life, no vital change, only an outward change through the knowledge brought to them, but, as the old saying is, “A washed sow is no sheep." It takes a new nature really to know God. Knowing Christ may be a little different from knowing God; knowing God is knowing His nature, whereas Christ has come, and there might, in another way, be such and such a knowledge of Him. Without knowledge of God, you may get your feelings moved about the truth. Look at Balaam. He can say, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his "; but there was no change as to his life, or anything. There may be such now, with no real knowledge of Christ. The outward manifestation of Christ may have come to a person, without any knowledge of what was inside. “When they knew God," in Rom. 1, was the knowledge of God as in Noah, the preacher of righteousness; but they turned that into idolatry. They knew there was only one God in Noah's time, and they gave that up for idols. In one sense you may know everything, if you merely take the acquaintance with it. In Romans Paul is convicting the Gentiles on two grounds-their knowledge of God as in Noah, and on the ground of the creation-glory of God. The starting point of the Gentiles was the knowledge of God, and they did
not like to retain Him in their knowledge; that is the way they lost it, because the human mind, in a moral sense, cannot hold it. It is ginosko in Greek, in "After that ye have known God." It is the word constantly used in such a connection. The word epiginosko is more, it is consciously to know. He says of the Corinthians, they were ignorant of God; I think the knowing of God, in Romans, is a little more, because they had knowledge, for they started from a point, and it was abandoned.
Now we have another very important thing, "The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit," etc. (v. 45-48). As we were like Adam, we shall be like Christ. There are many important things here. "The second Man” is the first truth; that is, we have no acceptance of the first man at all; we have acceptance of people, of course, but that is in the second Man, not in the first. God's thought is to bring in a second Adam, and the first is set aside; and as the first Adam was a head and centre, the second Adam is looked at as a head Man, and in a far higher way. In many places people think there is a great deal going on towards perfecting man, but, instead of that, Christ sets him on one side. Christ was "the, last Adam" before He rose as to His Person, but not as to His state. Adam was so in the garden, in his person, in paradise, but was not exactly head of a race until he was outside; and this has its importance. So Christ was not Head of a race really until He had died and risen, because He died. Christ comes among men down here, and men will not have Him, but in His death their system is totally closed. Another man is set up: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Man rejected Christ, and that finished man's history. When Christ has risen, He begins a new state altogether, but it is in the last Adam. He is the last Adam; there could be no other after Him. “Adam," in contrast with "man," is looked at more as the head of a race.
Then notice the enormous difference between the two Adams. The first was a living soul, the second a life-giving Spirit. This is the very thing those who deny the immortality of the soul insist on, for they say animals were living souls, and so they were. But we know that after death comes judgment (Heb. 9:8), and that single text shows that after death the whole question comes in of judgment for what a man did when he was alive. These people talk of Hebrew and Greek about it (that is, one of their chief people, and one may say several), but he only proved that he knew nothing about the language, and could not even look out words in his dictionary; and yet it raises a cloud of dust. God had quickened Christ, but Christ is a quickener both of soul and body, and that is the way there is a spiritual body. Christ was born of a woman, "made of a woman," it says, "made under the law." "Made" is not the thing, but it is a word that signifies, "to begin to be," and that was not before; because "under the law" would not do. I could say, He became a man, but I could not say, became of a woman. "Became," in English, supposes a person to exist already, and then to become something, which is not the case here. And "was mad" does not do, because it looks as if He was made what He was not before. Christ was always a quickening Spirit – He quickened from Adam. It is the contrast between the first Adam and last; the one received life, the other gives life; and then we shall be like Him who is from heaven.
As to soul and spirit, spirit is the upper part, and life was communicated to the body through it. Soul, when you make the difference, is that which you have in common with the beasts. The word is used in the Hebrew for everything; conscience, soul, spirit, and heart. Heart thus is really a figure, for else it is a piece of my flesh connected with the circulation of the blood. Take "if our heart condemn us not," there it is in the sense of conscience: "Love God with all thy heart," there it is the affections.
The "earth," in verse 47, is the ground the man is made of. I think we have to recollect that, in divine things, the force of words is known by the meaning of the thing. It is not so in human science, but the opposite. Our Lord asks, "Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my words." Nicodemus shows what this is when he asks, "How can a man be born again?" It is of the first importance to lay hold of what the Lord is speaking, though we might learn Greek too; it is all well in its place. "We have borne the image of the earthy, and shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
When we learn that "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump," we shall be changed. The last trump, among the Romans, was the signal for all to start from the camp. They sounded one trumpet, and pulled down their tents; then a second, and put themselves in order; and when the last was sounded, they all started. It is the same idea in
Thessalonians 4; it is there the military technical shout when they were all called into the rank again from standing at ease (originally it was the sound given to the rowers to pull together). We have three there: the Lord first; then the archangel carrying it on; and then the trump of God that completes all. "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory; o Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Yes, "the strength of sin is the law." It is astonishing the way people cling to the law for morality. I know nothing that shows more the perversity of man's mind than this. It is clear enough. “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace." To put under law is to bring in sin, for you cannot keep it, and so it is “the strength of sin." The motions of sin were by the law. Law addresses itself to a nature, and forbids the sin, without changing the nature, or anything else; and it enfeebles the whole spirit of a man, by bringing his conscience into bondage. Indeed sin takes occasion by the commandment. If in this table, now, I had a drawer, and something in it, and I said, "Nobody is to know what is there," why, there are lots of heads in this room would be curious to know what it was directly. And the law is “the strength of sin," by binding the soul down to guilt: not that this is a fault in the law, but because of what my nature is, law does provoke. And then, besides, it ties the guilt down on the conscience. Law gives no life, no power, no object, but it provokes the lust, is the occasion of sin, and fixes my guilt upon me. Christ gives me an object, and life, and power, and delivers me from all that was against me. The law tells me to love God, and I ask, Why so? I have no nature that does. It states the duty, without acting on the person's heart one atom, but the sin that is committed it ties down upon the conscience. And it is very useful to tie sins down upon the conscience, but that is all it is useful for. Where Paul says, “Touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless," in Phil. 3, it was outwardly true: but he says in Rom. 7, "We know that the law is spiritual," which is another thing. In Philippians he alludes to sins; so with the ruler, who says, "All these things have I kept from my youth up." But the Lord tests him with, “Go and sell all that thou hast," and that will not do for man.
The moment of the rapture (v. 54) is not in the scope of the prophets, and Paul merely states the fact without time. In Isa. 25 we have the Gentiles brought in, and the Jews restored, and he puts the fact of the resurrection in without the precise order of events. The testimony of the Lord's coming is striking, for it is when He comes the first resurrection takes place. I say this, because it is considered to be a kind of bit of superior knowledge. 1 Thess. 4 gives it. There are two classes taken up, and they will be setting on the thrones of judgment, but it does not say exactly when.
We have in verse 8 an important principle as to work. There are many adversaries, but a great and effectual door is opened to me, and so I will stay. It is a very different thing to have the door closed, and to have many adversaries. We shall soon find out when the door is closed. I think it requires patience; and you may find amazing opposition. I remember only two people coining, for eight weeks at one place where everything was against me, but at the end of that time forty or fifty came in, and several were converted. At another place, where all was for me, even the clergyman, it all came to nothing. The highest leading is direct leading by the Spirit of God. I do not say we have that now as Paul had it; but there is being guided by His eye, while, too, it is a great mercy to be held in by bit and bridle. Take the fact that Paul and Silas were going to Bithynia (Acts 16), "but the Spirit suffered them not." Then they were called over to Macedonia; and this was positive direct guidance as to where they were to work: and Paul went afterward to Ephesus, and stayed there a couple of years, and all Asia heard the word of God. I believe the Lord might now put it upon a person's heart to go to a particular place. I remember once going to Cork, and could not tell why I went, and there was great blessing. It is better for evangelists to go two and two, but it is difficult to get enough for it. We lean but little on the power of the
Spirit of God. We have a network of railways, and use them, but Paul did his work on foot, and did a great deal more work too than we do. I use a railroad, of course, but if one can go on foot, it would be a deal better.
In verse 15 I see the Lord providing spiritual authority: "they addicted themselves "; it is the word for appointing officers to a regiment. It is not an official authority, but an action on the conscience of the person-it is a moral authority, and not official. They were not teaching, but they were serving the saints, and acquired a just and happy influence over them: and wherever an assembly is going on well, and there is a number there, there will be something of this kind. In Switzerland we were very much opposed about ministry, but they failed in their scheme. To get something we had not, they chose elders, saying Luther sanctioned them. One of them came to me, and said, "I am an elder."
I said, "Suppose I am unruly; what will you do?"
"Why, I will come and visit you."
"Well, you are here now: what have you to say to me?"
"Why, I am an elder."
"Who made you an elder?"
"I was chosen an elder."
"But I did not choose you."
And, quite confused, he had to own, "I cannot be an elder to one who did not choose me."
"And do you think unruly people will own you, even if they did choose you? Not they."
 See New Translation, “beloved in God the Father."