The Bible Truth Review (previously named, The Bible Review)
Issue No. 7 (October 10, 1990)
In This Issue
“As It Is Written” by B. Bagby in Bible Explorations, Vol. 1, No. 10, Oct. 1987. The first in a series examining the quotations in Paul’s epistles prefaced by “as it is written.”
“The Significance of Babylon” by P. Schafer in Bible Explorations, Vol. 1, No. 10, Oct. 1987.
“Helps by the Way. No. 2. The Greek Prepositions.” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13.
“The Parables. No. 2. The Sower.” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13. The parable of the sower is examined in this second article of the series.
“The Sovereignty of God #4” by Oscar M. Baker in Truth For Today, Vol. 40 No. 8, August 1990. Answers the Universalists’ question, did Christ suffer for all the sins of all men, or all sins of some men, or some sins of all men?
“The Wages of Sin No. 5” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13. A consideration of the words used in the Greek New Testament.
Subscription Information and Permission to Distribute by Leo Wierzbowski, editor of The Bible Truth Review.
“As It Is Written” by B. Bagby in Bible Explorations, Vol. 1, No. 10, Oct. 1987
In Paul’s first seven epistles, we find no less than 95 quotations from O.T. Scriptures. Many of these he prefaces with “as it is written”, “according as it is written”, and “what sayeth the Scriptures?” In this series of articles we will examine several of these passages which deal with Gentiles and how they fit into God’s plan and His chosen nation Israel. We will consider the difference between that which was prophesied concerning the nations during the Acts period (in Paul’s first 7 books) and that which was hidden from the ages and revealed to the Apostle Paul after the Acts period (in his last 7 books). It is crucial that serious Bible students distinguish between things prophesied and things kept secret ‘in’ or ‘from’ Scriptures.
Before we examine Old Testament Scriptures concerning Gentiles, let us consider an important truth which is necessary to fully appreciate God’s relationship with the nations and also with Israel. Namely, the subject of salvation. Fundamental Christianity teaches that salvation is equated with eternal life. Salvation is obtained by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose from the grave. While this is certainly truth, the true Berean will take a further step and search out the usages of the word salvation. We find that it is also related to one’s hope or destination. Salvation does not only pertain to a resurrection from the dead, but to where one will be resurrected. The Scriptures speak of several resurrections and we must determine from the context which resurrection and destination is spoken of.
When we read of salvation in Eph 2:8,9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves…” we must consider the context. Does Paul speak here of a simple belief in Christ as one who died and rose for the grave or is he speaking of belief in something beyond that? In Ephesians, Paul is not addressing the ordinary ‘Sunday go to meeting’ Christian. Instead he is writing to faithful saints (Eph. 1:1). He is writing to a minority, people who have chosen to believe God at His Word and are willing to stand for it. In Ephesians he speaks of a secret which was hid from the ages. It concerns Gentiles and Jews alike and their relationship with God apart from the law of commandments contained in ordinances and apart from a promise made to Abraham. He speaks of a hope in heavenly places and not here on the earth or connected with a heavenly Jerusalem. The salvation spoken of in Eph. 3:8,9 is related to that hope in heavenly places. He speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” which he was to “preach among the Gentiles” (Eph 3:8). These riches are untraceable and cannot be found in O.T. Scriptures. If this statement is true, then can Paul be speaking of the same truth in his epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians or the Galatians when he quotes from the prophets concerning Gentiles?
In Genesis 17 we read of a covenant made between Jehovah and Abram. Abram, whose name became Abraham, was told that he would “be a father of many nations” (Ge. 17:4). It was no secret or “untraceable” truth that the nations would someday, in some manner partake of this promise made to Abraham. Although it was not made clear at that time of just how the nations would fit into God’s plan, there was indeed a promise made concerning their participation in Israel’s spiritual blessings. It was not until Paul was chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 9 that God begins to unfold His purposes with the nations.
In the forthcoming articles we will examine some of the verses which Paul quotes from the Old Testament and then “test the things that are different” concerning the “unsearchable riches of Christ”.
“The Significance of Babylon” by P. Schafer in Bible Explorations, Vol. 1, No. 10, Oct. 1987
The old city of Babylon is being rebuilt and according to news sources its doors will be open to the world this coming September to celebrate its rebirth. Just as Nebuchadnezzar had a musical festival there (Dan.3), so this reborn Babylon will have a musical festival. Its idols will be the world’s musical idols.
So what? It’s probably just another money-making scheme. But is it only that? What significance has Babylon had in history?
Revelation 17:5 tells us there has been a mystery connected with it. This mystery has been an enigma through the ages, but thanks to researchers like Alexander Hislop, who wrote “The Two Babylons”, we can put together this mystery enough to see some of the picture.
The Bible doesn’t consider this mystery an enigma. It considers it a secret. Paul said, ” . . . the mystery of iniquity doth already work…” (2 Thess 2:7). This mystery that began at Babylon went underground and spread its roots in so many directions that its real significance has been lost.
Nimrod built Babylon shortly after the Flood. (Gen 10:9,10). He also built Nineveh. He built Nineveh to be the enemy of Babylon so that he, Nimrod, could be the saviour of mankind. He was first to set up an organized government, to create an army, and to invent a religious system. He was head of it all, politically and religiously. He ruled the then known world. He built the Tower of Babel for his headquarters.
No wonder God had to step in and confuse the language. The people had to be spread out so this thing could not happen again.
As they spread out, what did they take with them? They took with them the religion Nimrod had invented. There is only one religion in the world and it is Nimrod’s. The seemingly different religions are only branches of the religious tree Nimrod planted in Babylon. They are the daughters of the Mother in Rev 17:5.
Later in time the Assyrians, whose capital was at Nineveh, took over Babylon but Nebuchadnezzar’s father rose up and destroyed the power of Assyria. Nebuchadnezzar then rebuilt Babylon. History tells us that he built the famous Hanging Gardens, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and restored the Tower of Babel. He conquered the then known world including God’s chosen People, but God made sure that Nebuchadnezzar understood he had gotten all this power because He, God, allowed it. The proof was made clear to Nebuchadnezzar after his seven year bout with lycanthropy.
Jeremiah was God’s vessel to warn His People of this one world government in the making. He told His People to go to Babylon and live there but it was to be temporary as He would eventually have to judge that empire.
Chapters 50 and 51 of Jeremiah tell us that the city was to be destroyed suddenly, (see also Isa 47:9-11) but Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon fell into gradual decay some time after Peter wrote his first epistle.
No building materials were to be removed from it, but the Iraqis have been bemoaning the fact that too much of the old building material has been carried off.
Never has the city of Babylon been destroyed as the Bible predicts. It is now being rebuilt so that it will be destroyed as God said it would. He knew its function by the Enemy was not yet finished. He knew Satan’s final desperate move to prove he could be sovereign would be back where he had begun, in Babylon.
Today, the plan is the same. Moneyed men have created an enemy, communism, so they could use it to make themselves the saviour of the world. They will put one man as the leader whom we will call the Antichrist. It appears some of the religious leaders of the world are gathering together all the daughters in preparation for going back to the Mother.
We have here the Mother riding on the back of the Beast. Rev 17:3 All of this will have its home base in Babylon.
The Church, the Body of Christ, has no part in this monstrosity of Nimrod’s making. This Church is also a mystery or secret. It is an enigma to those who don’t understand it and is a secret as far as the world is concerned because they are ignorant of its existence.
May we who are members of the Church Which is His Body always keep in mind Eph 2:6,7; Col 3:1-4 and Titus 2:12-14 and not follow the world to Babylon.
“Helps by the Way. No. 2. The Greek Prepositions.” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13
“The prepositions, in their variety and delicacy, are a most important element of the Greek language” (Rev. A. C. Kendrick, D.D.).
“The usage of the prepositions is a matter of no less importance in the interpretation of the New Testament than in the general study of the Greek language” (Rev. T.S. Green, M.A.).
What is a preposition? A preposition is a word “placed before” a noun, or its equivalent, forming a qualifying or adverbial phrase. What is the underlying idea of the prepositions? Whatever figurative or secondary idea may be conveyed by the usage of the prepositions, the simple, primary, basic idea may be said to be that of (a) rest, or (b) motion. Motion covers the idea of “direction,” for direction implies a motion towards or a motion from a given point.
The prepositions arranged under their heading of rest and motion.
- Rest.–In, en; by the side of, para; on, epi; above, huper; under, below, hupo; between, among, with, meta; before, pro; behind, after, meta; on the top of, upon, ana; around, about, peri; over against, opposite, anti.
- Motion (direction or motion towards a point).–Into, to, eis; towards, down, kata; towards, pros; upon, epi; near by, alongside, para; under, hupo.
- Motion (direction or motion from a point).–Out of, ek; from, apo; from under, hupo; down from, kata; from beside, para; through, dia.
It will be observed that some prepositions which occur in No. 1 occur again in No. 2, or No. 3, and the natural question arises, how can one word mean both rest and motion?
If the preposition is followed by the Dative case it usually denotes the primary idea of rest, if followed by the Accusative case it usually means motion towards, and if by the Genitive case the idea of motion from, or out of. We will endeavour to explain the meaning of these cases as we come to them in the usage of the preposition.
Notice the way in which the preposition makes all the difference in the following sentences:Ä
I am going into the room; I am going out of the room; I am going beside the room; over the room; round the room, &c., &c.
When we come to examine the teaching of the New Testament we shall find that a thorough grasp of these simple words will be of the utmost importance. We have spoken of the primary or basic idea, having reference to rest or motion. When the subject of writing is placed upon a higher plane (the plane of doctrine for example), the simple idea of “out of,” “into,” &c., is enlarged and takes a figurative signification.
One example must suffice; peri, meaning “around,” comes to mean “concerning.” The primary idea is always present, and is beautifully felt in such a passage as, “He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness concerning (peri) that light” (John i. 8). John’s witness had for its glorious centre “that light”–Christ. His witness revolved “around” Him, keeping Him ever central. This simple illustration must suffice for the time, but we hope to be able to show in the usage of each preposition the importance of remembering the initial idea of the word as set out in this necessarily dry introductory paper.
“The Parables. No. 2. The Sower.”, by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13
We now approach the consideration of this initial parable. Initial, not only because it is the first in order of utterance, but because its interpretation supplies a model for the interpretation of all parables, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark iv. 13).
John tells us that although he has recorded eight “signs” to support the particular purpose of his Gospel (John xx. 31), yet the number actually wrought by the Lord far exceeded this, so much so that “if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John xxi. 25). What is true concerning the Lord’s works is also true concerning His words; each Gospel narrative gives a divinely inspired selection of His wonderful teaching. If this is so, what importance must be placed upon that miracle, parable, or discourse which is repeated twice or even thrice! The parable of the Sower occurs in the three Synoptic Gospels (Matt. xiii. 1-9; Mark iv. 1Ä9; Luke viii. 4Ä8). In each record we read of the four sowings, or four kinds of ground. It will be instructive to consider the various ways in which this parable has been recorded.
Matthew xii. 4-9 Mark iv. 4-9 Luke viii. 5-8
“Some fell by the way- “Some fell by the way- “Some fell by the wayside, and the fowls side, and the fowls of side, and it was trodden came and devoured them the air came and down, and the fowls of up.” devoured it up.” the air devoured it.”
“Some fell upon stony “Some fell upon stony “Some fell upon a rock.” places where they had ground where it had not not much earth.” much earth.”
“Forthwith they sprung “Immediately it sprung “As soon as it was sprung up, because they had no up, because it had no up, it withered away, deepness of earth, and depth of earth; but because it lacked when the sun was up when the sun was up, it moisture.” they were scorched: and was scorched: and because because they had no it had no root, it root, they withered withered away.”
“Some fell among “Some fell among “Some fell among thorns; thorns; and the thorns thorns; and the thorns and the thorns sprang up sprung up, and choked grew up, and choked it with it, and choked it.” them.” and it yielded no fruit.” “Other fell into good “Other fell on good “Other fell on good ground, and brought ground, and did yield ground, and sprang up, forth fruit, some an fruit that sprung up and bare fruit an hundred hundred fold, some and increased; and fold. And when He had sixty-fold, some brought forth, some said these things, He thirty-fold. Who hath thirty, and some sixty cried, He that hath ears ears to hear, let him and some an hundred. to hear, let him hear.” hear.” And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
One of the differences between Matthew’s account and that of Mark is that Matthew speaks always in the plural, “they,” “them,” whereas Mark speaks of the seed in the singular, “it.” Luke adds the words, “and it was trodden down,” in the first sowing, and omits the reference to “no depth of earth” and the effect of the sun, telling us that it withered because it lacked moisture. The addition of the words, “with it,” in Luke’s account of the thorns is also suggestive.
In the interpretation of the parable, the following differences are noteworthy. We print them in tabular form to save space.
Matthew xiii. 10-23 Mark iv. 10-20 Luke viii. 9-15 “The mysteries of the “The mystery of the “The mystery of the kingdom of heaven.” kingdom of God.” kingdom of God.” “The word of the “The sower soweth the “The seed is the word kingdom.” word.” of God.” “The wicked one.” “Satan.” “The devil.” “This is HE which “These are THEY by the “Those by the wayside.” received seed by the by the wayside.”
wayside.” “He that received seed SIMILAR TO MATTHEW “They on the rock are into stony places, the they which, when they same is he that heareth hear, receive the word the word, and anon with with joy; and these have joy receiveth it; yet hath no root, which for awhile he not root in himself, believe, and in time of but dureth for a while: temptation fall away.”
for when tribulation or
because of the word, by
and by he is offended.”
“He also that received SIMILAR TO MATTHEW but “And that which fell the seed among the add — “the lust of among thorns . . . choked thorns . . . the care other things entering with cares, riches, and of this world, and the in.” pleasures of this life, deceitfulness of riches, and bring no fruit to choke the word, and he perfection.”
“But he that received “And these are they “But that on the good the seed into the good which are sown on good ground are they, which ground is he that ground, such as hear in an honest and good heareth the word, and the word and receive heart, having heard the understandeth it; it.” word, keep it, and bring which also beareth fruit, forth fruit with patience.”
and bringeth forth, some
an hundred-fold, some
sixty and some thirty.”
Such is the divine interpretation. We are not called upon to speculate, but to believe. Those to whom these words were first uttered knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament sufficiently well to follow the figurative allusions far more clearly and with greater suggestiveness than we are able to. Moreover, they had no epistle of church doctrine in their minds. We have, and because we will not discern between the things which differ, we introduce confusion into God’s Word by our traditional ideas. Let us keep church and kingdom separate; let us not read into Matt. xiii. that which was not revealed until years after, then we shall be able to understand something of the “mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens.” The kingdom of God is wider in its scope than the kingdom of the heavens. The latter expression has reference to that Millennial kingdom, when the kingdoms of this world shall be ruled by heaven’s King, when Dan. ii. 44 shall be fulfilled; but the term, “the kingdom of God,” though wider than the kingdom of heaven, is not used in the Gospels to refer to the church of the present dispensation, for at that time the present dispensation was a secret hidden by God, whereas the secrets of Matt. xiii. are to some extent explained.
There is no need for us to repeat that which we gave in our last article, for the exclusively Jewish and kingdom setting of Matt. xiii. is evident to every candid reader (cf. Matt. x. 5, 6; and Matt. xv. 24, which are on either side of Matt. xiii.).
The parable tells us of the secret course of the purpose relative to the kingdom. It depicts the apparent failure of the early ministry, but shows in the fourth ground its fruitful consummation. All who are pictured here under the imagery of the various sowings are those who hear and receive the word of God, particularly the word of God relative to the kingdom (Matt. xiii. 19; Luke viii. 11). This cannot refer to the heathen nations, at least not until we reach the fourth ground; for during the ministry of Christ the word of the kingdom was confined to the limits of the Land of Promise:
“Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritan enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. x. 5-7).
Perhaps we ought to note some things which the Lord does not say. He does not say, “The sower is the Son of man”; it is merely “a sower,” in the parable; and in the interpretation nothing is said of the sower other than the fact that “the sower soweth the word.” We have two expositions before us, both of which emphasize that the “sower was the Son of man .”
Again, it does not say, “the field is the world.” Luke tells us that the various sowings, in various kinds of ground, had reference to the hearts of those who heard the word. When we come to examine the parable of the Wheat and Tares, then we are distinctly told that the sower is the Son of man, and that the field is the world, but if we introduce these into the Parable of the Sower, we spoil the intended teaching.
The “seed of the kingdom of heaven ” was sown by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles during the Acts period; this ministry, as we know, was humanly speaking a failure, for although they proclaimed the near approach of the kingdom of heaven, that kingdom is now in abeyance. The kingdom purposes, however, cannot fail, hence prophecy clearly indicates a further preaching and sowing of this same gospel seed, which will be fruitful as depicted in the fourth ground. This is one of the “secrets” or “mysteries” of the kingdom of the heavens. Following hard upon the rejection of the Lord Himself (Matt. xii ) comes the revelation of the whole course of kingdom progress. The Lord, with wonderful fitness, depicts the conditions which were predominant in relation to the four periods of kingdom ministry.
The first ministry mentioned in the New Testament is that of John the Baptist. He preached the good news of the kingdom, and baptism unto remission of sins. Each ministry, however, had something of the four kinds of ground represented among its hearers, but the special characteristic of John’s sowing was that it fell upon hearts which, like the wayside, had become hardened with continual treading and tradition, and consequently very few believed his message. Those who heard him “understood not,” and the Lord tells us that the Wicked One “caught away that which was sown in their hearts.”
Before we proceed further it will be necessary to call attention to an interpretation of this parable which has a great deal of truth in it, but which may be pressed too far. There are some who tell us that this parable of the Sower does not refer so much to the word sown in the heart of the hearer, but to the environment in which the hearer (represented by the seed) is placed. We must not summarily dismiss this from our notice, inasmuch as there is a certain amount of truth in the statement; but, like so many things, it is not all true. If we use the R.V. instead of the A.V. we shall see a little more clearly that the seed sown not only represents the word of the kingdom, but the children of the kingdom as well.
In Matt. xiii. 18Ä23 we have the Lord’s own interpretation of the parable. Note the words in italics in the following extracts. “This is he that was sown by the wayside.” “And he that was sown upon rocky places, this is he that heareth the word.” “And he that was sown among thorns, this is he,&c.” “And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word.” The same intermingling is seen in Mark iv. and Luke viii. Nevertheless, both passages definitely tell us that the “seed” is the “word.” The primary meaning of the seed is certainly “the word,” for the Lord Himself says so. The inclusion of the hearer within the meaning is rather by implication than by definite statement. It appears, then, that to fully understand the parable we must allow its double application. When the application is to those who reject the word, then the seed sown is the word of the kingdom, and the grounds represent the characteristics of the hearers. When the application is to those who are really children of the kingdom, then their identity is lost in that of the seed sown — they are linked in type to the truth.
Then, the various grounds speak not of the state of heart of the hearers, but of their environments during the various phases of the history of events. A characteristic example is found in the cases of Peter and Judas. Satan had dealings with each (Matt. xvi. 22, 23; Luke xxii. 3, 31). Peter denied the Lord with oaths and curses; Judas betrayed Him. Peter went out and wept bitterly; Judas went and hanged himself. Peter was a child of the kingdom, but for a while the thorns overcame him. Judas never was a child of the kingdom (John vi. 70, 71), he was one of the thorns, or, as in the next parable, one of the tares, and his heart is represented by the thorny ground itself.
It is evident that the great majority of the Pharisees, and indeed of the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him (Luke iii. 7), did not understand the import of his message and baptism, for looking upon them he cried, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Their trust was in “Abraham their father,” but John bade them “bring forth fruit meet for repentance.” These multitudes and Pharisees, who would have submitted to the rite of baptism as some new ceremonial which pleased their ritualistic self-righteousness, were repulsed by the stern rebuke of John, and Satan, taking advantage of the moment, snatched the seed away, and occupied their heart the more for his own fell purposes, for later we find the same people, who boasted of being “children of Abraham,” called rather the “children of the Wicked One” by the Lord in John viii. 44.
There were stony ground hearers among the followers of John; of them it is written, “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth . . . He was a burning and a shining lamp; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” These stony ground hearers heard the word, “and anon with joy received it,” yet they had no root, persecution for the sake of the word discovered their shallowness, and soon they were offended. It was for such that the Lord uttered the words, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me” (Matt. xi. 6).
The prominent characteristic of John’s ministry was, “to prepare the way of the Lord, and make His paths straight.” It was hard work, with little apparent result. Two of his own followers proved to be hearers of the good ground variety, for on the second day of his proclamation, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” they followed the Lord, one of them being Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. The first sowing of the parable of the Sower is peculiarly descriptive of the first preacher of the kingdom — John the Baptist.
Following immediately upon John’s ministry was that of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord commenced his ministry with the same words as John used, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. iv. 17 with iii. 2). In association with Himself the Lord sent forth the Twelve (Matt. x.), and the Seventy (Luke x.). This ministry, looked at it from the external standpoint, was not much more successful than that of John Baptist.
The characteristics of the “stony ground,” the second sowing hearers, are seen everywhere. The stony ground hearers were shallow. The wayside hearers rejected the testimony of God against them, but the stony ground hearers received the word with joy — for a while! In Matt. iv. 17Ä25 we have the preaching and its effect. “His fame went throughout all Syria”; “and there followed Him great multitudes.” Mark xii. 37 supplies us with a statement which coincides with the character of the stony ground hearers. “The common people heard Him gladly.” “He that received seed into the stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it, yet …. by and by he is offended.”
In John vi. we have a record of defection. After the Lord had uttered that marvelous word concerning Himself as the living bread, and how He came to give His life for the life of the world, we read, “many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it”? “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” In Luke iv. 14Ä29 we have another illustration of this self-same spirit. After the Lord’s discourse in the Synagogue, we read, “And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” By the time He had finished His message to them, however, we read, “And all they in the Synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong.”
Herod himself exhibited much the same character. “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad, for he was desirous to see Him for a long season, because he had heard many things of Him, and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him …. Then Herod with his men of war set Him at nought” (Luke xxiii. 8Ä11). Matt. xxi. 1Ä19 furnishes us with another example of the shallowness of the hearers of the word during the ministry of the Lord. “A very great multitude spread their garments in the way . . . and the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Within a few days, in the very same city, the multitude, urged by the chief priests and elders, cried out, “Let Him be crucified!”; “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. xxvii. 19Ä25). Hence it is that in immediate relation to the ride into Jerusalem, and the shout of Hosannah, we read, “And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only” (Matt. xxi. 19). It is interesting to note that the words “withered away” of Matt. xxi. 19; xiii. 6; Mark iv. 6; and Luke viii. 6 are the same. Such, to a large extent, was the character of the heart of those who heard the gospel of the kingdom from the lips of the Son of God. Thus, while John’s ministry is represented by the wayside hearers, the Lord’s ministry is likened unto the stony ground hearers.
In immediate succession to the ministry of the Lord Jesus was the ministry of the Twelve in the Acts. This ministry is likened to the sowing of seed among thorns. Peter uses the key word of the gospel of the kingdom, “Repent,” and the kingdom ordinance, “Be baptized” (Acts ii. 38). The preaching of the word at Pentecost and after produced a deeper effect than had been evidenced during the “Gospels” period. There was not so much of that spirit which characterized the wayside hearers, for the good seed found a place in many hearts, neither was the stony ground hearer alone represented. The trouble is seen among those who had “tasted of the heavenly gift,” and who had been “partakers of holy spirit,” and had “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come.” Heb. vi. is a divine commentary upon the cause of failure during the Acts. The figure of the “thorny ground” is actually repeated in Heb. vi. 8, “But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected.” Luke tells us that the stony ground hearers “brought no fruit unto perfection.” We find the echo of this in Heb. vi., “Leaving …. let us go on unto perfection.”
The epistle to the Hebrews was addressed to Jews who had received in some measure the seed of the kingdom, and had accepted the Lord Jesus as Messiah, but who were still “zealous for the law” (Acts xxi. 20). The Jews failed to see the perfection that was to be found alone in Christ. “Cares, riches and pleasures of this life, the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things” are referred to in Hebrews in such passages as xi. 25, 26, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” “Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods (x. 34).” “Be content with such things as ye have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (xiii. 5).
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts v.), and Simon who believed and was baptized (Acts viii. 13), are examples of the growth of the thorns which eventually choked the good seed. Ananias and Sapphira particularly illustrate the “thorny ground” hearers. They had believed the word, they had evidently been baptized and were recognized by the apostles as members of the fellowship of believers, yet their sad history shows us that Matt. xiii. 22 and Heb. vi. are commentaries upon the causes of failure during the Pentecostal dispensation. They brought no fruit to perfection. The command, “Cut it down” — long delayed — at length was fulfilled; the olive tree of Abrahamic blessing and Jewish privilege was cut down, to remain in that condition until the end of the age. Then, after the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, “all Israel shall be saved,” ungodliness shall be turned away from Jacob by the Deliverer sent to them — the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. xi. 25, 26).
This is represented by the “good ground.” “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the habitable world (oikoumene — a word relating to the kingdom) (Heb. ii.5). for a witness unto all the nations, and then shall the end come” (Matt. xxiv. 14). This final witness leads on to the fulfillment of the commission of Matt. xxviii. 19, 20:-
“Go ye therefore, and make all nations disciples, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age.”
The final sowing will be fruitful. “Israel shall all be righteous” (Isa. lx. 21), “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. xi. 26), “they shall revive as the corn. and grow as the vine” (Hosea xiv. 7). After the tribulation of the last days, the Lord “will send those that escape unto the nations . . . and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles” (Isa. lxvi. 19). This is the heart of the New Covenant.
From the days of old (Isa. vi. 10), during the earthly ministry of the Lord (Matt. xiii. 14), and throughout the Acts of the Apostles to its close (Acts xxviii. 27), the heart of Israel had been hard, and had “waxed gross,” the “lust of other things” had choked the word; but when the time comes for the final sowing, the Lord will send Elijah, who shall accomplish that which was foreshadowed by John Baptist; he will make ready a people for the Lord.
“The upright in heart” of the Psalms, and “the pure in heart” of the Sermon on the Mount, are those indicated in the final sowing of the seed of the kingdom. The promise to Israel is, “I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Ezek. xi. 19). This is the blessing of the New Covenant, sealed by the blood of Christ by which alone the kingdom can be made secure (Jer. xxxi. 31Ä40). In 2 Cor. iii. 3Ä6 we have the “heart of flesh” contrasted with the “heart of stone” in relation to the New Covenant.
The days shall come when Israel, now cast off, shall bring forth a hundredfold. An handful of corn in the top of the mountains shall shake like Lebanon. It was towards this glorious consummation that the Lord Jesus looked as He reviewed the “mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens.” He knew that His rejection would but subserve the mighty purpose of God. In due time He came to die, and in due time He will come to reign.
The parable of the Sower may supply us with many valuable lessons, but to discover the primary teaching is the object of this series. Let us bring the four sowings together, viz.:- John Baptist. Wayside hearers. “They seeing, see not, neither do they understand” The Lord Jesus, the Stony ground hearers. “Nothing but leaves . . . Twelve and the Seventy. it withered away.”
Peter and the Twelve. Thorny ground hearers. “No fruit to perfection.” “Riches, pleasures, the lust of other things” (Heb. vi). The final witness Good ground hearers “The honest and good heart” (Matt. xxiv.14) (the heart of the New “Some hundredfold” Covenant)
Parallel with this teaching of the Sower is the witness of the same truth in the parables of the Fig Tree (Luke xiii.) and the Great Supper (Luke xiv.), which we must consider after Matt. xiii. is finished. The primary teaching of these parables is not merely to supply a moral or spiritual lesson but to depict the secret course of the mystery of the kingdom on through its apparent defeat to its glorious close.
The parables of Matt. xiii. which follow supply further details, but have no new subject; all are connected with the rejection of Christ by Israel, and relate to the “mystery of the kingdom of the heavens.” We hope next time to consider the parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
“The Sovereignty of God #4” by Oscar M. Baker in Truth For Today, Vol. 40 No. 8, August 1990
Many and many a time we have received some literature from the Universal Reconciliationists in which they put forth these 3 propositions: That Christ suffered punishment for, either
- All the sins of all men, or
- all the sins of some men, or
- some sins of all men.
And these poor folks who know not the Word nor the disposition of God think they have covered all the ground. Blindly they have taken for granted that God is universally sovereign. All things and any thing, they say, is His responsibility. They say He created the devil a wicked being. They say that God is the author of sin. They further say that God is so all-sovereign that He has made every man as he is and that man has no choice in his actions.
But some of these details will be taken up later. Right now we wish to say that the 3 propositions above do not cover the ground. None of them is true. There is a fourth and true proposition that should be added, and it is this; That Christ suffered punishment for all the sins but one of all men.
Some of our readers may remember that many years ago Mr. E. J. Pace had a cartoon that pictured this very thing, and Mr. Pace knew the Scriptures. He pictured the cross with sins nailed to it, written out on sheets of paper. But at the foot of the cross was a sheet with just one word on it. This word named a sin that was not nailed to the cross and could not be. For it was a sin that can never be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come. It is a sin that can never be overlooked in any way. It is the only sin that can cause the loss of one who has heard the gospel. It is probably the commonest sin that we know. That sin is simply UNBELIEF. There can be no forgiveness for it. Like darkness, there is just one remedy. Bring in light and darkness disappears. Bring in belief and unbelief disappears, and is as if it had never been. God gave away enough of His sovereignty that His creatures, the human race, could exercise belief or unbelief. And if any Universalist will for a moment say that he does not believe this, he is exercising the very thing that he claims that God has not given man. That is more than a dillemma, it is a paradox.
If God gives you the privilege of believing His Word, then He has given up just that much of His sovereignty and allowed you to have a little say about your destiny.
It is not our purpose to attack any individuals at any time, but this UR literature has been coming in a constant stream to our desk for the last 15 years and we feel that there may be some who might not think and be taken in by this false doctrine. It is especially attractive to the frustrated introverts who feel that they have been caged in by life and cannot help themselves. It is also attractive to those who have friends and relatives who have died unsaved. But what one may or may not believe does not in the least alter the truth. If the UR’s are right, then John 3:16 has no place in the Scriptures.
“The Wages of Sin No. 5” by Charles H. Welch in The Berean Expositor, circa 1912-13
A consideration of the words used in the Greek New Testament.
In the preceding papers of this series we have submitted to a careful examination some of the words most frequently used in the Hebrew Scriptures to denote or to describe the end of the unsaved. We now would direct the reader to the New Testament, and the examination of the words used therein in the teaching, warning, or demonstration of the wages of sin.
Apollumi.- This word is translated in the A.V. as follows: “Destroy,” 23 times; “lose,” 21 times; “be destroyed,” 3 times; “be lost,” 10 times; “be marred,” once; “die,” once; and “perish,” 33 times.
In examining “the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth” we must ever remember that the literal sense of the words is prima facie their true sense. It is this literal sense which is the common, ordinary, fundamental basis of all language, and accurate communication of thought. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth but for that meat which endureth to age-abiding life” (John vi. 27). “They shall perish, but Thou remainest” (Heb. i. 11). None can fail to see that the word perish in these passages is the opposite of enduring or remaining. By what system of contrarieties do men seek to explain the Bible when the object of perishing is the sinner? Why should perishing in this special case mean remaining or enduring in conscious suffering? Dean Alford is responsible for the following statement:Ä
“A canon of interpretation which should be constantly borne in mind is that a figurative sense of words is never admissible except when required by the context.”
To this all will heartily agree who believe that God’s Word is His revelation, and to this we seek to adhere. When we read in Heb. xi. 31, “By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not,” we do not understand the word “perish” to signify living in agony or remorse, but that Rahab was saved from the fate which awaited the inhabitants of the city of Jericho. Let God be true, though it makes every man a liar. Let Scripture tell us what “perishing” in Heb. xi. 31 means:Ä
“And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and ass, with the edge of the sword …. and they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein …. and Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive” (Josh. vi. 21Ä25).
Here inspired comment is absolutely opposite to the orthodox teaching concerning this word “perish.”
In Luke vi. 9 the Lord Jesus, speaking with reference to healing on the Sabbath Day, says, “Is it lawful …. to save life or to destroy it?” Here the word “destroy” (apollumi) is used in its simple primary meaning, and is contrasted with “save.” A reference to Matt. xii. will show, further, that the Lord used as an illustration the case of saving the life of an animal. In Luke xvii. 27 the same word is used of the flood which “destroyed them all,” and in verse 29 of the effect of the fire and brimstone which fell upon Sodom and “destroyed them all.” When we read Luke ix. 56, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them,” why should we distort the meaning of the word? Why not believe that the Lord used a fit and proper word, indeed the most suitable word which the language provided?
It is the same word translated “perish” that occurs in that oft-quoted passage John iii. 16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here the subject is lifted to the highest level. Here is no ambiguous phraseology, neither figure, nor parable, but plain gospel spoken in solemn earnestness by the Lord Jesus Himself. He says that there are two alternatives before men, the one Ä life everlasting, the other Ä perishing, utter destruction (Heb. xi., Josh. vi.), and from this doom He came to save those who believed in Him. Hence we read in Luke xix. 10, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (apollumi). Man by nature was on the road which leadeth to destruction.
The primary meaning “perish,” or “destroy,” becomes changed in the transition of language to the derived and secondary meaning “lost.” Thus we read of the “lost” sheep, and the “lost” son in the parables of Luke xv., and in the “lost” sheep of the house of Israel in Matt. x. The fragments left over after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand were gathered so that nothing should be “lost” (John vi. 12). It is pitiable to hear those who should know better arguing that because we read of a “lost” sheep, which could not mean a “destroyed” sheep, that therefore the plain, primary meaning of the word must be ignored and the secondary derived meaning be understood in such clear, solemn passages as John iii. 16, &c.
Notice the way in which the Lord uses the word in Matt. x. 28. “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (gehenna).” Here we have an argument which proceeds from the lesser to the greater. Man can only kill the body. God can destroy body and soul. Man may kill, but he cannot prevent resurrection: The murdered man will as surely rise in the resurrection as the one who dies of natural causes. It is different, however, with God. He can cast men into the lake of fire, which is the second death, from which there is no resurrection. Those who are thus cast in are destroyed body and soul, as being no more fit to live.
The parallel passage to this, Luke xii. 4, 5, shows that to “cast into gehenna” is to be taken as synonymous with “to destroy,” or “to perish.” This is further evidenced by Matt. v. 29, “It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into gehenna.” Here the plain meaning is that it is better that a limb should perish than that the whole body should perish. There is no thought of agony and torment, for the Lord would have used the word in Matt. x. 28, “Fear Him who is able to torment both body and soul in hell,” had He meant to convey such teaching.
The fact that men are “perishing” and need salvation is emphasized again and again. We have noticed the word in John iii. 16. In I Cor. i. 18 we read, “For the preaching of the cross is to them who are perishing – foolishness, but unto them who are being saved – unto us it is the power of God.” It is the same word (translated “lost” in A.V.) in 2 Cor. iv. 3, “If our gospel is veiled, to them who are perishing it is veiled.”
Yet again in I Cor. xv. 18 we read, “If Christ hath not been raised, to no purpose is your faith, ye are yet in your sins, hence also they who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” What does this mean? Does it mean that believers, apart from the resurrection of Christ, are at this moment suffering the agonies of hell fire? Certainly not. It means exactly what it says. Without resurrection the believer, like the unbeliever, will have perished, will have passed out of being, will have been destroyed. The idea of a conscious intermediate state, with departments in some mythological hades, is foreign to the Scriptures and antagonistic to this passage. Death ends life, and apart from resurrection death means utter destruction. Praise be to God for this blessed hope. Resurrection, which is everywhere the one theme of hope in the Scriptures, is set aside by orthodoxy, and death instead is eulogized as the gate to life.
We have yet further evidence as to the meaning of this word apollumi by considering the inspired interpretation of the word Apollyon (Rev. ix. 11), which is a derivative of apollumi. The passage gives us the Hebrew equivalent of apollumi, it is the word Abaddon, from abad, which we considered on page 8 of this Volume. The unmistakable meaning of abad is to destroy, and thus we are given, to confirm our faith, the divine warrant that the word under consideration means to “destroy.” In the context of Rev. ix. 11 the locusts, whose king is Apollyon, are definitely withheld from destroying or killing (their normal work), and are only permitted to torment men for five months, after which other horsemen receive power to kill those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads. Before passing on to the consideration of the next word, we would like to quote the primary meaning of apollumi as given by Liddell and Scott:Ä
“Apollumi. To destroy utterly, to kill, slay: of things, to demolish, to lay waste, to lose utterly.”
Apoleia. – This word is a noun derived from the word apollumi, and means destruction. It is rendered by the A.V. as follows: “damnation,” once; “damnable,” once; “destruction,” 5 times; “to die,” once; “perdition,” 8 times; “pernicious ways,” once; and with eimi eis and accusative, “perish,” once; “waste,” twice. The words “damnation ” and “damnable” both occur in 2 Peter ii. 1, 3, “damnable heresies,” and “their damnation.” The same word is rendered “pernicious ways” in verse 2, and “destruction” in verse 1. Here the one word apoleia is rendered by four words in those verses. The R.V. renders the word “destruction,” and destruction consistently (the word “pernicious” in verse 2 is not apoleia in the best Greek MSS. and is rendered “lascivious doings” in R.V.). In Pet. iii. 7 the word occurs again, translated “perdition,” and finally in verse 16 it is translated “destruction,” which passage the R.V. renders as in the second chapter – “destruction.”
Once again we shall find that this word, like apollumi, is contrasted with life, “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction …. narrow is the way that leadeth unto life” (Matt. vii. 13, 14). The context immediately continues, “Beware of false prophets,” which connects this passage with its inspired exposition in 2 Pet. ii. 3. In John xvii. 12 we have a solemn passage wherein the Lord uses both apollumi and apoleia. “None of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” This is also the title of antichrist in 2 Thess. ii. 3. Again the word occurs in Acts viii. 20, “Thy money go with thee to destruction.” In Rom. ix. 22 we read of “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” The apostle uses the word twice in Philippians, “token of perdition” (i. 28), and “whose end is destruction” (iii. 19). In I Tim. vi. 9 we have a collection of words, of which the Greek language does not possess any stronger, to express literal death and extinction of being. Hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction (olethros) and perdition (apoleia). Does it not appear unreasonable to say continually that men will perish or be destroyed if they are, in fact, to be kept alive in suffering, and that they are to be miraculously preserved from perishing or from being destroyed?
There is one more point which we must bring forward before closing this article. The subject of the soul, its nature and immortality, is discussed at great length by Plato in the Phaedon, a dialogue on Immortality, and therein is discussed the question of the literal destruction and extinction of the soul. Plato wrote in Greek, his native tongue, and the Phaedon became the great classic treatise on the subject of Immortality, read, studied and debated throughout the Greek-speaking world during the four hundred years between its writing and the ministry of Christ. Plato’s words practically stereotyped the philosophical phraseology of the time. The purpose of the dialogue is to show that in death the soul does not become extinct, that it cannot die, perish, or be destroyed. Modern orthodoxy, therefore, is found ranged with Plato against the Word of God. These words of Plato were known and of fixed meaning in the days of Christ and the apostles. Christ came to reveal the truth. Shall we say that, knowing as He did the meaning of the words used on the subject of the soul, He willfully, and without explanation, took those very words concerning the very same subject, and used them in an altogether contradictory sense! The idea is impossible. With reference to the philosophic usage of apollumi, we give the following extract from the Phaedon:-
“Socrates, having said these things, Cebes answered: I agree Socrates, in the greater part of what you say. But in what relates to the soul men are apt to be incredulous, they fear …. that on the very day of death she may be destroyed and perish …. blown away and perishes immediately on quitting the body, as the many say? That can never be . . . the soul may utterly perish ….. the soul might perish …. if the immortal be also perishable. The soul when attacked by death cannot perish.”
To those who knew these words, who taught them, and argued about them, was sent a “teacher from God,” and standing in their midst He reiterated the fact that Plato was wrong, that the soul could be destroyed, that it would perish. What would any of that day have thought of the suggestion to make such words convey the sense of endless misery, so diametrically opposed to their meaning? Would he not have been justified in replying in the language of a well-known public school head master:Ä
“My mind fails to conceive a grosser misinterpretation of language than when the five or six strongest words which the Greek tongue possesses, signifying ‘destroy,’ or ‘destruction,’ are explained to mean maintaining an everlasting but wretched existence. To translate black as white is nothing to this.”
We believe sufficient has been shown to establish the fact that, in the usage and meaning of apollumi and apoleia, destruction, utter and real, is the true meaning, and that this is the wages of sin.
“damnable,” once; “destruction,” 5 times; “to die,” once; “perdition,”