Laodicea—The Epistle From.
Question (1980)—Is there an epistle to the Laodiceans that was written by the Apostle Paul, according to Col. 4:16, and that belongs in the New Testament?
Answer.—The Apostle tells the Colossians (4:16) to read the epistle that would come to them “from [ek] Laodicea [i.e., from the church there].” This evidently refers to the Epistle to the Ephesians, which was written at Rome by the Apostle in the same period as the Epistle to the Colossians was written. Both epistles were intended by the Apostle to be circulated among the churches.
Some, failing to note that St. Paul here says “the epistle from Laodicea,” not to Laodicea, have thought that a non-canonical epistle was here meant. The Apostles wrote no uncanonical epistles to the churches, as far as we know. The many of such ascribed to them are fraudulent. In Col. 4:16 St. Paul speaks of the circulation of two of his epistles among at least two churches, and shows the order of the circulation so far as the two are concerned as to the two named cities: one was first to be read at Colosse, then to be taken from there to be read in the church at Laodicea; the other was to be read first in the church at Laodicea and from there was to brought to Colosse and there read in its church. ’80-79
Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement—Should Foreign Countries Expect Financial Aid.
Question (1999)—Should Bible study groups in foreign countries expect us to provide financial aid to build places of worship to aid in teaching the Truth?
Answer.—Our work is not directed toward the supplying of funds in this way. We are particularly interested in fostering class and individual study, spread and practice of Bible truth. To this end we can, and do, offer our free publications and sample issues of The Bible Standard magazine. We charge no more than reasonable prices for any of the volumes of “Studies in the Scriptures” that may be of special interest.
We do not provide financial aid for Bible classes. Local elders should follow the example of the Apostle Paul by performing secular work to provide for their temporal needs (Acts 20:33-35). Each of us is at liberty to begin a Bible Study class. As its membership grows it is important to have a congregational form of organization. The elders and deacons are to be elected by the ecclesia according to the qualifications as set forth in 1 Tim. 3:8-13. ’99-89
Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement—Branches In Foreign Countries.
Question (1999)—I would like to have a branch of the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement in my area. Is this possible?
Answer.—We usually do not have a branch or representative in a country where there is only one class that is studying “The Studies in the Scriptures.” The following points should help in understanding our view of Church organization:
(1) Our Bible classes are quite unstructured and informal and collectively do not have a written creed as a standard code of worship. The Bible is our sole source of faith and main rule of conduct. We find the best form of church governance outlined in the volume, The New Creation, chapters 5, 6, and 7.
(2) The local class should be served primarily by its own elders and deacons. Each class is mistress in its own affairs and in this sense is self-contained.
(3) Each class should be run along congregational lines. (See our treatment of this subject in our April, May, and June issues.) A good deal of common sense and participation by members of an ecclesia will result in a healthy class, one which enjoys and profits from its assembling together (Heb. 10:25). ’99-89
Lazarus—And The Rich Man—A Parable.
Question (1967)—A friend of mine claims that Bible scholars do not hold that the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 is a parable. How should we answer this argument?
Answer.—In the Feb. B.S., No. 371 (a copy free on request), we showed from the Scriptures (as well as from reason and facts) that this is truly a parable; for Jesus spoke it to the multitude, as represented in the envious, hypocritical and self-righteous Pharisees, their leaders, “and without a parable spake he not unto them” (Matt. 13:34, 35; Luke 8:10). Thus the Bible itself testifies that this is a parable, no matter what some Bible scholars might argue against this fact. Furthermore, we saw that especially for twelve potent reasons the parable cannot consistently and logically be interpreted literally, and that to do so leads into most absurd conclusions. It should be kept in mind also that the word parable as a noun is defined as “a fictitious narrative,” and as a verb is defined “to represent by fiction or fable.”
It is a mistake to think that recognized Bible scholars do not hold that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. Let us note some prominent ones:
Dr. Robert Young, LL.D, a Presbyterian, in his “Analytical Concordance to the Bible,” a work endorsed by scholars in general, states that the word “Lazarus” is “a symbolic name in one the parables,” and he refers to Luke 16.
Dr. James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., a Methodist, in his “Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,” which is equally well endorsed by Bible scholars in general, states in his Greek dictionary section, under the word “Lazaros” (No, 2976), that it is “the name of two Isr. (one imaginary).” The imaginary Lazarus was therefore a parabolic man.
Various other lexicons testify likewise. For example, Dr. J. H. Thayer, D.D., Litt. D., a Harvard University Professor, in his “Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament,” states under the Greek word “Lazaros” (p. 367), not only “the inhabitant of Bethany,” but also “an imaginary person, extremely poor and wretched: Luke 16:20, 23-25.”
Dr. G. Abbott-Smith, D.D., D.C.L., Principle of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and Professor of Hellenistic Literature in McGill University, in his “Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament,” states (p. 263) that the Lazarus of Luke 16:20, 23-25 is “the beggar in the parable.”
Dr. Marvin R. Vincent, D.D., Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature in Union Theological Seminary, New York, in his “Word Studies in the New Testament,” p. 396, speaks of “The Parable of Dives and Lazarus”; and on p. 398 he speaks of “the deep impression this parable has made on the mind of Christendom.”
Dr. Orville J. Nave, A.M., D.D., LL.D., in his “Topical Bible,” a standard work accepted by Bible scholars in general, includes under “Jesus, the Christ, Parables of” (p. 708) the “Rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31.” And in his “Study Bible” (published by Moody Press, Chicago), on p. 1162, under “Parables, of Jesus,” he lists the parable of “Rich man and Lazarus.”
A number of Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias testify similarly. One of the best known and generally accepted by Christians of all denominations is M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia. In Vol. V, page 301, in addition to Lazarus, “an inhabitant of Bethany,” mention is made of Lazarus, “a beggar named in the parable of Dives (Luke 16:20-25) . . . the only instance of a proper name in a parable.” It is also there stated that “he is an imaginary representative . . . ”; and reference is made, among others, to “Walker, Parable of Lazarus (Lond. 1850).” And in Vol. 7, p. 647, “The rich man and Lazarus” is listed as one of Jesus’ parables.
In Scribner’s “Dictionary of the Bible,” Vol. 3, p. 88, under “Lazarus and Dives,” it is stated that “in this parable alone is a name given to any of the persons introduced,” and several times in the context it is referred to as a parable. Many scholars have contributed to this able work.
The same may be said of Scribner’s “Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,” where (Vol. 2, p. 18) reference is made to “Lazarus the beggar, who, in our Lord’s parable (Luke 16:19-31), lay, a mass of loathsome sores, at the gateway of the rich man.” Here again the context repeatedly speaks of this as a parable.
Among other authoritative Bible Dictionaries that refer to the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) as a parable, might be mentioned Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (p. 1617); the Standard Bible Dictionary by Jecobus, Nourse and Zenos (p. 511); the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, by Davis (p. 353); The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, by Piercy (p. 468); The Temple Bible Dictionary, by Ewing and Thomson (p. 383); Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (p. 538); Unger’s Bible Dictionary (p. 651; published by Moody Bible Institute); and many others.
And additional encyclopedias that identify the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a parable (see under “Lazarus”) are Encyclopedia Britannica, The Americana, The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, The People’s Bible Encyclopedia, Fausset’s Bible Cyclopedia, and many others. Many Bible commentaries also treat of the story of the rich man and Lazarus as being a parable.
We see from the above that not only the Bible itself, but also able Bible scholars in general, testify that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. And the context shows that Jesus gave it to illustrate to His hearers, the envious, self-righteous Pharisees (Luke 19:14), some very important and timely features of Bible truth, namely, the imminent acceptance of Gentiles into God’s special favor in the heavenly kingdom offer of the opening Gospel dispensation, and the casting off of themselves and the rest of the Jewish nation from God’s special favor (Matt. 8:11, 12; 21:43), in the closing of the Jewish Age. ’67-38
Leasing—What Does It Mean Psa. 4:2.
Question (1982)—Psa. 4:2 reads “O ye sons of men . . . how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing”? What is “leasing”?
Answer.—First, we will say what it is not—it is not what we ordinarily mean by today, that is, renting real estate, automobiles or other equipment or facilities for a specified time and price. This is considered as an honorable practice in our day. But it is very different with leasing as it was understood in Old English, in the days when the King James Version Bible was prepared. In Old English leasing meant the act of lying. The ASV and Rotherham translate it falsehood. The Hebrew word kazab, used in Psa. 4:2, means falsehood.
Thus Psa. 4:2 asks, “How long will ye love vanity and seek after falsehood?” It is like other Scriptures which are against lying, such as these: “These . . . doth the Lord hate: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren.” “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” A false witness will utter lies” (Prov. 6:16-18; 12:22; 14:5). “Lie not one to another” (Col. 3:9). “Lie not against the truth” (Jas. 3:14). “All liars shall have their part in the lake of fire . . . which is the second death” Rev. 21:8). ’82-7
Lenten—And Other Fasting.
Question (1982)—Should Christians fast during Lent and at other times?
Answer.—After Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He went into the wilderness and fasted 40 days and nights (Matt. 4:2). Jesus’ words to His disciples, “When ye fast (Matt. 6:16), indicate that He expected His followers would fast from time to time (comp. Mark 2:18-20). The Apostles also fasted and spoke approvingly of occasional fasting (Acts 10:30; 13:2, 3; 14:23; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27).
The 40 days of Lent are said to correspond to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, though the Bible does not enjoin any such 40-day fast on Christians. We see no objection to anyone voluntarily going on a lighter diet for 40 days and nights before Easter, or fasting—with a competent physician’s advice—at times, but we object to fasting being bound on Christians as an obligation.
Our devotional book Daily Heavenly Manna and Devotional Service is one each of our readers should have and use for daily spiritual assistance and guidance. Commenting on Matt. 6:16 (the text for Jan. 26), it states:
“Fasting is specially commendable to the Lord’s people at times when they find themselves lacking in spirituality and exposed to severe temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil; for by impoverishing the physical force and vitality, it may assist the full-blooded and impulsive to self-control in every direction. We believe that a majority of Christians would be helped by occasional fasting, a very plain diet for a season, if not total abstinence.” But a caution is added: “Fasting, to be seen and known of men or to be conjured up in our own minds as marks of piety on our part, would be injurious indeed, and lead to spiritual pride and hypocrisy, which would far outweigh their advantages to us in the way of self-restraints.”
For more details on fasting, on how to proceed with it and what to avoid doing, please see BS No. 404—a copy free on request. ’82-14
Liberty—Glorious Liberty When Sons Of God Manifested. Rom. 8:19, 21.
Question (1952)—What will be the nature of the glorious liberty into which the whole creation is to come, when the sons of God are manifested (Rom. 8:19, 21)?
Answer.—The nature of this liberty is indicated by St. Paul by his contrasting it in the same verse, with bondage, “the bondage of corruption,” i.e., death, with all its concomitants: pain, sickness and sorrow, etc. For 6,000 years it has proved itself a terrible bondage, one from which mankind could not escape. But a Savior came and ransomed the whole creation, the entire world of mankind, giving Himself a “corresponding price” for all (1 Tim. 2:6), and as a result has obtained control of mankind, and the right by purchase (with His own precious blood) to open the tomb and release all men from every cord of bondage which now binds them. By virtue of the ransom, which He gave for all, He declares, “There shall be a resurrection of the dead [a lifting up to the perfection], both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). “ I . . . have the keys [symbol of the right, authority and power to open or close] of hades and death” (Rev. 1:18).
To release men from the bondage of death is to restore them to original perfection. Adam was a perfect man “crowned with glory and honor” (Psa. 8:5), and in God’s sight “very good” until he sinned; because of sin he was delivered into “the bondage of corruption” according to the will and law of God. But since by His atonement sacrifice the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, it becomes His right and privilege to save men, by liberating them from the wages of sin, viz., from the bondage of corruption—death. This deliverance from corruption’s bondage was the theme and substance of Jesus’ preaching, not only as indicated by His recorded words, but as prophesied beforehand: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because He hath anointed Me to preach the good tidings to the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim to the captives, liberty, and to the prisoners release (Isa. 61:1). Yes, this was Jesus’ mission and message, and it was illustrated by His miracles, by which He manifested forth His future glory—the work of healing, restoring, liberating from pain, sorrow and death, into the liberty of manhood—the liberty enjoyed by man while yet a “son of God” (Luke 3:38), before he became a sinner. To this liberty or freedom from death and trouble the whole creation shall again be restored—the glorious liberty common to the sons of God, on whatever plane of being they may be, whether sons of the human nature (Luke 3:38), sons of the angelic nature (Job 28:7), or sons of the Divine nature (1 John 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:4). The same glorious freedom from death belongs to all.
While the human creation shall be delivered from bondage to the present death, which came on account of Adam’s sin, and which is to be removed because of Christ’s redemptive work, it does not follow that they shall retain their liberty. They may retain it, and from present experience will now the value of retaining it, yet they will ever be able to place themselves in bondage again at their own option, but only by deliberate, wilful, sin against full light and knowledge. The second or wilful bondage is called the Second death, from which deliverance is never promised.
The time for the deliverance of the world from present bondage to corruption (that which came as a result of Adam’s sin—Adamic death) is referred to by St. Paul in Rom. 8:19, 21. Jesus did not deliver the prisoners at the time of His first presence in the world; He merely preached deliverance to the captives and opening of prison doors. True, when reproved by the self-righteous Pharisees (zealous for the Sabbath, but ignorant of its real significance) for healing a woman on the Sabbath day, He said: “Ought not this woman, . . . whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16.) He did release her from the special infirmity, but not from all the bondage of corruption; she was still subject to pain and death—the bondage of corruption—and the little release which Jesus granted her was only an illustration of the full and complete release which He would grant in the “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21)—the great antitypical seventh day or Sabbath, of which He is the lord.
The time for this removal of the bondage of corruption from humanity, permitting them to return to the glorious perfection of Eden, is after the special class of sons selected during this Christian Age, as the Body of Christ, has been made perfect with their Head, Jesus. Then comes the manifesting of the power of those Divine sons in the liberating, restoring and perfecting of the human family to the proper liberty of sons of God, secured for them by the ransom. This liberty will be fully attained by all willing to accept of it, by the end of the reign of Christ. This is the very object of His promised reign, thus to bless all the families of the earth (Rev. 5:10; 20:6; Gal. 3:8; Gen. 12:3). ’52-71; ’76-54; ’87-54
Life—How Many Kinds Do Jesus And Church Have.
Question (1922)—How many kinds of life do Jesus and the Church have?
Answer.—The word life may be used in different ways. No one but our Lord ever had a right to two kinds of life at once. He had a right to human life; for having been made flesh, He committed no sin and never violated or forfeited His right to life. He was always obedient to the Divine Law. His life was not taken from Him; as He declared, He laid it down of Himself. (John 10:17, 18.) The Father’s reward gave to Him a new life on the Divine plane. Hence He had the right also to the Divine Life. He therefore had the right to two lives. Our Lord is to give His human life to the world of mankind, and the offer, or gift, of this life will be made during the thousand years of His Reign on earth. If He were still a man, and should give that human life away, He would have no life for Himself; for when He would apply His life for Adam, He would lose life altogether. But this right to life on two planes of being has never been ours, as Disciples of Christ. We were born under sentence of death. We had no right to life on any plane. God never recognized us as having even earthly rights. The Apostle Paul says, “The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” (Gal. 2:20.) Before this He was legally dead and was in a dying condition; and the whole world is likewise dead in trespasses and sins. The only life-right the Lord’s people have is spiritual, although actually they still have a measure of human life. Our work now is the laying down of the earthly life with Christ. Our human body is being sacrificed. It is reckoned dead, but it is really dying daily. As New Creatures we have life and a right to life, as recognized by God. The Apostle John says, “The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1.) We have a spiritual mind in a human body. So, then, we are dual beings while in the flesh, though we are not dual-minded. The world does not understand this. The world did not know that Christ Jesus was a dual being when here on earth, after His consecration and baptism in Jordan. Neither did they know that He had a right to two lives—the one which he had not yet fully laid down, and the one which He had not yet fully assumed. ’22-5
Life-Death-Hereafter—Does It Teach Of Man’s Unconsciousness In The Death State.
Question (1923)—A number of the readers of our book, Life-Death-Hereafter, have written to us inquiring how we can reconcile the views therein presented on man’s unconsciousness in death with the following Scriptures: “The body without the spirit is dead.” “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” “Stephen calling upon God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, . . . fell asleep.” (Jas. 2:26; Eccl. 12:7; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59, 60.) These correspondents reasoned that these passages seem to show that there is a spirit being in man that leaves him at death, and then lives apart from the body consciously in bliss or torment.
Answer.—In explaining these passages and in showing their harmony with the other Scriptures, it will be necessary for us to discuss the various meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words translated in these passages by the words “spirit” “He gave up the ghost.” the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma are in these passages rendered spirit, and these words are in some other passages rendered ghost. Turning to any standard Hebrew or Greek dictionary, we find that the words ruach and pneuma are given very many different definitions. The root meaning of these words is invisible power, and therefrom they are used to denote a variety of things that are invisible and powerful. With the thought of invisible power as basic to the significance of these words, they have taken on the meaning of (1) influence or power. (Gen. 1:2; Judges 15:14; Job 33:4; Luke 1:35; John 20:22, 23 [in both preceding passages the Greek reads, a Holy Spirit, i.e., a holy power or influence]; 1 Cor. 14:12.) The word translated spiritual in 1 Cor. 14:12 is the Greek word for spirits or powers, while the word gifts is in italics, which means that it is without a corresponding word in the Greek text. From the same basic meaning of these words, they have taken on the significance of (2) wind as an invisible power. (Gen. 8:1; Ex. 15:10; Num. 11:31; John 3:8.) From the meaning of wind it was a very easy transition of thought for the word to take on the significance of (3) breath, also an invisible power. (Job 15:30; Lam. 4:20; Ezek. 37:5, 9; Eccl. 3:19.) On account of the life principle being originally derived (Gen. 2:7) and subsequently maintained from the oxygen in the breath, these words have, from their meaning breath, taken on the significance of (4) life-principle, an invisible power. (Eccl. 3:21; Gen. 7:22; Rev. 11:11; 13:15.) Since our energy depends largely on the condition of our life-principle, these words have taken on the meaning of (5) vigor or animation, an invisible power. (Gen. 45:27; Judges 15:19.) Because the privilege to live is closely connected with the life-principle, these words have taken on the meaning of (6) the privilege to live, an invisible power. (Num. 16:22; Ps. 31:5; Matt. 27:50.) Because the mind, heart, disposition, will are invisible powers, these words also mean (7) the mind, heart, disposition, will, either of God, Christ, the Church or the world. (Ezek. 36:26; Ps. 34:18; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rom. 8:15.) Because spirit beings are invisible and powerful beings, these words also mean (8) a spirit, i.e., a spirit being. (Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:14; John 4:24; Acts 19:12, 13, 15.) Finally, because doctrine, or teaching, is an invisible power, these words are used to mean (9) doctrine, teaching. (Is. 11:4; 29:24; 2 Thes. 2:2, 8; 1 John 4:1-3, 6.) Thus the Scriptures show that these words, ruach and pneuma, are used in at least nine distinct senses in the Bible.
Which of these meanings fit in the passages under consideration—Jas. 2:26; Eccl. 12:7; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59, 60? Let us examine each passage in turn, comparing them with these nine definitions and from this examination we will be helped to understand the special use of ruach and pneuma in each of them. First, then, we will compare Jas. 2:26, “The body without the pneuma is dead,” with these various definitions. Manifestly the definitions, (1) influence or power, (2) wind, (5) vigor or animation, (6) privilege of living and (9) doctrine, cannot fit here, hence need not be discussed in connection with this verse any further. This leaves four other definitions that might be especially tested as to their fitness in this verse—(3) breath, (4) life-principle, (7) mind, heart, disposition, will and (8) a spirit being. The connection eliminates definition (7); for the comparison that St. James makes between faith being without works and the body being without pneuma would not be a happy one, if pneuma here meant heart, mind, disposition, will. Such a definition here would not clarify his thought, as a comparison, which he uses, should do. Definition (8) is the one that some of those who teach the consciousness of the dead apply here; but others of them are quite doubtful of this, as can be seen from the reading on this verse in the Bible’s margin, where breath is given instead of spirit. In the Greek the definite article to, the, occurs before the word soma, body, but does not occur before pneuma. The absence of the article before pneuma and its presence before the word soma—body—implies that pneuma here does not mean a spirit being; for if it did, the definite article would have been used before pneuma just as it is used before soma. It is doubtless this consideration that prompted the insertion of the word breath in the margin of our Bibles. Not only the absence of the article before pneuma is against our understanding it to mean a spirit being in this verse, but against such a thought is the fact that St. James here does not restrict the word soma to the human body, but to any kind of an animal body, whether it be of man, beast, fish, fowl or creeping thing. Therefore he could not here by pneuma have meant a spirit being, since we know that no spirits (spirit beings) are in the bodies of beasts, fish, fowls and creeping things. Moreover the Bible nowhere teaches that there is a spirit being inside of any fleshly body, which at death leaves it and apart from it lives as a conscious being. Therefore in this passage pneuma does not take the definition of (8) a spirit being. This leaves us definitions (3) and (4), either of which would fit; for it is equally true that the body without breath or without life-principles is dead, just as faith without works is dead.
We will now examine the meaning of the word ruach in Eccl. 12:7, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto God who gave it.” As in the discussion of Jas. 2:26 we began with a process of elimination, so will we do with this passage. It is self-evident that definitions, (1) influence or power, (2) wind, (3) breath, (5) vigor, (7) mind, heart, disposition, will and (9) doctrine do not fit in this verse; for they would not make good sense, if applied in this verse. This would limit the choice of a definition of ruach in this passage to three meanings, i.e., (4) life-principle, (6) the privilege of living and (8) a spirit being. Practically all who believe in the consciousness of the dead assume that the word ruach here has the meaning of (8) a spirit being. But deeper thought shows that this is inadmissible; for first of all to give ruach here the meaning of (8) a spirit being would make the passage teach Universalism; for the passage lays down the universal rule that in death the body returns to its native dust and the ruach to God; and as the body as the body remains where it returns, so the ruach would remain where it returns. This would mean that the good and the bad alike will be with God, i.e., have everlasting life, if ruach here means a spirit being. Again the meaning of (8) a spirit being given to ruach here, implies a second false doctrine, i.e., God gives everyone at his begettal or birth a spirit being to be in his body. This would necessarily make God occasion such spirit beings unavoidably to sin; and this would cause God to be at least in part responsible for their sinning. Moreover the Bible nowhere teaches that God, apart from the creation of Adam and Eve, and of Jesus as a human being, has in a direct way acted creatively in connection with human beings coming into existence. Again the Bible nowhere teaches or implies that God gives each human body, at his begettal, birth, or at any other time, a ruach in the sense of (8) a spirit being. Furthermore it teaches that through the powers of procreation, which God originally bestowed on the human male and female (Gen. 1:27, 28), our souls—our sentient beings, not spirit beings—came from our fathers and our bodies from the earth through our mothers. (Gen. 46:26, 27; Ex. 1:5; 1 Kings 8:19; 2 Chron. 6:9; Heb. 7:5, 10; Gen. 24:47.) Still further experience, apart from the Bible, proves that we derive our bodies from the earth through our mothers, who have elements of the earth derived from their food, nourish the growing fetuses until they are ready for birth. Hence the soul must come from the father. Finally, nowhere does the Bible teach or imply that the ruach of human beings is a spirit being; for the Bible does not teach that we are hybrids, part human 2nd part spirit beings. For these seven reasons, the word ruach in the passage, “the ruach shall return to God who gave it,” cannot mean a spirit being that lives on in conscious existence after we die. Therefore only the definitions (4) life-principle and (6) privilege of living are left for application in this passage as the meaning of ruach. Of these two definitions, (6) the privilege of living is doubtless the better one for ruach in this verse; for God directly gave Adam and Jesus the privilege of living as human beings, and has indirectly, i.e., through heredity from Adam and Eve and our ancestors, given us the privilege of living. And when we die, according to Eccl. 12:7, our bodies return to their native dust (Gen. 3:19), and our privilege of living reverts to its Giver, God, in the sense that He takes it from us and keeps it in His power for whatever final disposal of it He will be pleased to make at the Judgment Day.
Next we will examine the sense of pneuma in Luke 23:46, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my pneuma; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” Again, we begin with a process of elimination. Evidently pneuma is not in this passage used in the sense of (1) influence or power, (2) wind, (3) breath, (5) vigor, animation, (7) mind, heart, disposition, will, or (9) doctrine. Nor is it used in the sense of (8) a spirit being; because Jesus as a human being having been made in all respects like us apart from imperfection (Heb. 2:14, 16, 17; 4:15; Phil. 2:7, 8, and we not having spirit beings within us, He did not have one within Himself, and hence in dying could not have commended it to God for safe keeping. The fact that David used these words of himself, and also as a prophecy of Jesus’ use of them in dying (Ps. 31:5) proves that the ruach of Ps. 31:5 and the pneuma of the passage under consideration, meaning the same thing, pneuma cannot mean a spirit being in Luke 23:46; for David had no such thing. Hence there are only two other definitions of the nine left for consideration in Luke 23:46, (4) life-principle and (6) the privilege of living. Of these two definitions doubtless (6), the privilege of living, is the right one here. Accordingly the passage would mean that Jesus in dying, deposited with the Father His privilege of living, being fully submitted to the Father’s will as to what should become of it. And the Father has been pleased to use Jesus’ privilege of living as a human being, which in His case was the right to life as a human being, as the ransom price for the Church now, and will so use it for the world in the Millennium; and the Father has also been pleased to give Christ’s privilege of living as a Divine being, which in His case was the right to life as a Divine being, to Jesus at His resurrection for His personal use as His inherent possession as a living being. How fittingly does this passage, so interpreted, describe the Lord Jesus’ full obedience and submission to, and confidence in, the Father, as He was entering the jaws of Death!
The last part of Luke 23:46, “He gave up the ghost,” is a wrong translation. The five words that we have italicized in the preceding sentence are used to translate but one Greek word, not the noun pneuma, but the verb exepneusen, which literally means, he breathed out, he expired. The word ghost in old English meant a spirit being, but is now used to mean a spirit being that has conscious personal existence apart from the human body which once was supposedly its body, and which it is supposed to have left at death. As said above, the Bible nowhere teaches or implies that such a pneuma exists in a human being or exists separately from the human body after death. The teaching that there is in man a spirit being which at death leaves the body and, separate from it, is conscious was invented by Satan, and was originally palmed off by him as one of the first three falsehoods ever told—the three falsehoods by which he deceived Eve and murdered the whole human family (Gen. 3:4, 5, 13; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14; John 8:44); and it has been since used by him so effectively as to deceive almost the whole human race. In Matt. 27:50, the parallel passage reads, Jesus . . . yielded up the ghost. In this verse, the word ghost is given as the translation of pneuma. But this part of the verse being parallel to, i.e., synonymous with exepneusen of Luke 23:46, it means exactly what that expression means in Luke 23:46: He breathed out, or He expired. Therefore pneuma in Matt. 27:50 should have been rendered (3) breath, or (4) life-principle, or (6) privilege of living, any one of these three renderings used as the object of the verb “yielded up” is with its governing verb equivalent to the expression, He died, He expired.
The word pneuma, as used in Acts 7:59, 60, “Step-hen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, . . . fell asleep,” is very similar in meaning to Jesus’ dying words in Luke 23:46, “Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” For the same reasons given above in the discussion of this latter passage, the word pneuma in Acts 7:59 evidently means (6) privilege of living. And by the language of this verse, St. Stephen prayed our Lord Jesus to take for safe keeping into His care St. Stephen’s right to life as a Divine being, and in such faith fell asleep, an expression that proved that he became and remained unconscious in death. ’23-23
Life—Death—Hereafter—Dead Are Asleep.
Question (1976)—In your book Life—Death—Here-after and elsewhere you cite many Scriptures to show that the dead are asleep in the unconscious conditions of death and will not be awakened from the dead until in the resurrection day, the day of Christ’s appearing. But does not the Apostle Paul’s expression. “We are confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8) prove that when a person dies he continues in a conscious existence?
Answer.—If we were to draw such a conclusion from this passage, it would contradict many other Scriptures—and we know that God does not contradict Himself. Furthermore, this Scripture does not warrant any such conclusion.
In order to understand what St. Paul really meant in 2 Cor. 5:8, we should note carefully the context. We will then see that the Apostle was not speaking of people in general, but only of the Church. New Creatures, who “have this treasure [the Spirit-begotten new nature] in earthen vessels [human bodies]” (2 Cor. 4:7).
Note that in v. 16 he speaks of this treasure as the inward man that is renewed day by day, and of the earthen vessel as the outward man that perishes. Only those who are Spirit-begotten, who are New Creatures (though still under development in human bodies, preparatory to their Spirit birth in the resurrection), have both an outward man and an inward man.
St. Paul discusses the inward man from three standpoints: (1) as “clothed with an earthly tabernacle,” the natural body, i.e., in the present life (2 Cor. 5:1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9); (2) as “unclothed,” “naked,” “absent from the body” and “absent from the Lord,” i.e., in the death condition, awaiting the resurrection (2 Cor. 5:3, 4, 6, 8, 9); (3) as having and being in “a building of God,” “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven,” “clothed” and “present with the Lord,” i.e., in the resurrection condition (2 Cor. 5:1-4, 8). If we keep in mind these three standpoints as well as the meanings of the expressions “inward man” and “outward man,” we will recognize that the Apostle here says nothing at all about the consciousness of the dead.
In 2 Cor. 5:1 the Apostle addresses the Church, the New Creatures, who in the resurrection will have “celestial bodies” (1 Cor. 15:40). He here assures them that even though their earthly house (the body of flesh, their temporary abode) be dissolved (Greek, taken down, i.e., goes into death), they nevertheless have awaiting them a building of God, a new house, a glorious heavenly body, which becomes theirs in the resurrection, during Jesus’ Second Advent (Matt. 16:27; Luke 14:14; John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 4:16, 17; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:12).
It is for their glorious heavenly bodies that the Church in the flesh during the Gospel Age has longed (Rom. 8:23; 2 Cor. 5:2). It was not the death state for which they longed; for during the time of unconscious sleep in death, the New Creature—the new heart, mind and will—is naked, i.e., has no body. But when clothed with the new spirit body, the New Creature is no longer naked.
The Diaglott translation gives the thought of v. 3 very well: “And surely, having been invested, we shall not be found destitute.” the RSV translates it: “So that by putting it on we may not be found naked.” “Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament” gives as the equivalent: “We shall not be found naked because we shall be clothed.”
While tabernacling in the flesh during the Gospel Age, the New Creature, “the inward man,” is burdened, not longing for the unclothed, naked condition—the unconscious, disembodied death condition—but for the clothed condition, when mortality is “swallowed up of life,” in the new house, “eternal in the heavens” (vs. 1, 4; 1 Cor. 15:54).
It is God Himself who has been working in His New Creation the character transformation needed to fit them for their heavenly inheritance; and He gave them His Holy Spirit, His holy disposition, as an earnest—a down-payment or pledge—that, if faithful, they would receive in the resurrection their new spirit bodies (v. 5).
The two Greek words that in v. 6 are correctly translated “at home” and “absent” are respectively endemeo (from en—in and demos—people, meaning to be among one’s people) and ekdemeo (ek—from, the word meaning to be away from one’s people). There is here (and in v. 8) a play upon the words, which might be expressed by at home and from home.
Referring to what was just said, especially in v. 5, the Apostle infers that this gives New Creatures even here the confidence (courage, ASV, RSV, Rotherham, etc.) that enables them to walk by faith and not by sight (v. 7) while at home in the body (the inward man dwelling in the flesh, the earthen vessel, the earthly house of this tabernacle) and absent from (away from home with) the Lord (literally, from home from the Lord). The object of faith emphasized here, as indicated in the entire context, was to behold the Lord’s glory and to be at home (to dwell with Him (John 17:24; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:10-12). This was especially longed for and was expected when the Lord would come again and takes His saints home to Himself in the resurrection (see the list of references above). This “end of faith” for the saints is described also in 1 Pet. 1:4-9, 13.
Therefore, keeping this object of their faith in mind, and realizing that God was working in them and preparing them for their eternal home in the heavens (vs. 1, 2, 5), the New Creatures in Christ Jesus have been confident (courageous) and willing (literally, well-pleased) that in harmony with God’s arrangement they in due time would enter into death (be absent from the body—from it as their home or dwelling place; ekdemeo—from home) and later, in the resurrection (when Jesus in His Second Advent would come again and receive them to Himself—John 14:3), be present with the Lord (v. 8; “at home with the Lord”—ASV, RSV; endemeo—at home).
This glorious hope enabled them to labor in the interests of God’s cause for the perfecting of their New Creatures (the “inward man”) in Christlikeness until death, so that they might be pleasing to Him, whether present (endemeo—at home) with Him in their resurrection bodies at the time of His Second Coming, or in death absent (ekdemeo—from home) from Him and from their fleshly bodies (v. 9). They were ever conscious that they must all appear (Greek, be made manifest, as in v. 11) after their resurrection at the Judgment Seat of Christ for their rewards, which would be increased by their good deeds and decreased by their evil deeds (v. 10; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 11:18).
How clearly 2 Cor. 4:16—5:10 interprets itself as applying only to New Creatures—only to those begotten by God’s holy Spirit to a spirit life, “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1)! This passage has no reference at all to mankind in general. It says not one word about anyone being conscious in death. It does not teach that in being absent from the body one is then present with the Lord, though some pervert 2 Cor. 5:8 in trying to prove that this is the case. On the contrary, this verse, like all other Scriptures treating of the subject, shows that to be absent from the body—to be in the death state, without a body, “naked,” “unclothed”—is quite another thing than being present with the Lord. Two distinct conditions are here indicated:  to be absent from the body, and  to be present with the Lord.” The former begins at a New Creature’s death; the latter at his resurrection awakening, in the Judgment Day, during Jesus’ Second Advent. ’76-63
Life—Distinction Between It And Immortality.
Question (1970)—What is the difference between life and immortality?
Answer.—There is quite a distinction between these two terms. All who have immortality have eternal life, but all who have eternal life do not have immortality, the higher and far greater gift of God. By Jesus’ ransom sacrifice He “abolished death,” i.e., broke its hold on man, and brought to light two salvations: eternal life for Adam’s race in general and immortality for the Church. The word immortal means much more than having the power to live everlasting. According to the Bible, millions may ultimately enjoy everlasting life, but only a very limited number, the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1), the Little Flock, will be made immortal. Immortality is an element or quality of the Divine nature, but not of the human, angelic or any other nature.
The word immortal signifies not mortal—death proof, incorruptible, indestructible, and imperishable. Any being, whose existence is dependent in any manner upon another, or upon conditions as food, water, light, air, etc., is not immortal. Immortality originally inhered in Jehovah God alone, as it is written: “The Father hath life in himself” (John 5:26), i.e., His existence is not a derived one, nor a sustained one. He is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible” (1 Tim. 1:17).
As the Father has life in Himself, i.e., immortality, “so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Jesus has been “highly exalted” and given “a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), except the name of the Father. He is “the express image” of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14; 19:16), “who only [the Father being here, as elsewhere, excluded from the comparison—1 Cor. 15:27] hath immortality” (1 Tim. 6:14-16).
Furthermore, the Little Flock was promised the Divine nature. Referring to this class the Apostle Peter wrote (2 Pet. 1:4): “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,” i.e., immortality. Jesus said that they would sit with Him in His throne in heaven (Rev. 3:21). Along with the rest of mankind, the Little Flock members did not originally possess immortality. Hence the Apostle Paul told them “by patient continuance in well doing” to “seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Rom. 2:7), and that “this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53).
Others from among men (note, e.g., Rev. 7:9-17, where “a great multitude” is indicated as “standing before the throne” in heaven) are to gain everlasting life on the spirit plane in heaven; and still others are to have everlasting life in the new earth; but none of these will have immortality, i.e., they will not have life in themselves, self-inherent life, as in the case of Jehovah, Jesus and the Little Flock. ’70-79; ’90-66
Question (1973)—What rights did our Lord possess when He was a spirit being, before He became a man, and what became of those rights when He became flesh?
Answer.—Our Lord was rich and for our sakes became poor (2 Cor. 8:9) by exchanging the heavenly rights and perfection for the earthly rights and perfection. This exchange was not a sacrifice (not an offering); for it was “the man Christ Jesus” who became a ransom, a corresponding price for the perfect man Adam and his race—“a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). There is no statement in the Scriptures that He sacrificed any prehuman rights. He did, however, resign these for the “joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2).
The rights that man needs are earthly rights, human rights; and it is these rights that Jesus redeems for mankind through giving His earthly life sacrificially. As a spirit being He could not have sacrificed the rights of a spirit being; for there were no spirit beings condemned to death for Him to save by such a sacrifice. It was the man Adam and his race in him that Jesus was to redeem. “Since by man came death, by man comes also the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21, 22). ’73-93
Life Right—Two Kinds Of Life At Once.
Question (1973)—Is it possible to have a right to two kinds of life—human and spiritual—at the same time?
Answer.—The word life may be used in different ways. No one but our Lord ever had a right to two kinds of life at once. He had a right to human life; for having become a human being, He committed no sin and never violated nor forfeited His right to perfect human life. He was always fully obedient to the Divine law. His life was not forcibly taken from Him. He said, “I lay it down of myself” (John 10:17, 18).
The Father’s reward gave to Him a new life, begotten at Jordan to the Divine nature and born at the resurrection on the Divine plane (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). Hence from the time of His Spirit-begettal onward He had the right also to the Divine life. He therefore had a right to two kinds of life. From Jordan to Calvary He “made his [human] soul an offering for sin”; He “poured out his [human] soul unto death” (Isa. 53:10, 12); He laid down His human life as a ransom, a corresponding price, for Adam and his race. That would have ended His existence forever if He had not been rewarded with the spirit life. But thank God, Jesus still lives, for He was “put to death in flesh, but made alive in spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18, Diaglott).
As to His human life, He said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17, 18). As our High Priest, the Divine New Creature, He at His resurrection took it again in its ransom merit for the purchase of Adam and his race. But first He appeared “in the presence of God for us [the Church]” (Heb. 9:24). He “was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). He “is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us [the Church]” (Rom. 8:34). He is “the propitiation for our (the Church’s] sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
The Gospel-Age “heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1) to be of Christ’s Bride, the Lamb’s Wife (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9) ended and the “little flock” (Luke 12:32), the “royal priesthood” of “kings and priests” to “reign on the earth” (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10), the 144,000 (Rev. 14:1), were all sealed in their foreheads before the blowing of the “wind”—the breaking out of the world’s great Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:1-4. But the Great Multitude, the secondary spiritual class, who as a class come forth in the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:9-17), are still being developed.
When this Time of Trouble has done its work of overthrowing Satan’s empire (Psa. 2:8, 9; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8, 9; Mal. 4:1-3; Rev. 2:26, 27), then will come “the times of restitution of all things” for the world of mankind (Acts 3:21), when “the saints shall judge the world” (1 Cor. 6:2); for God “hath appointed a [thousand-year] day, in the which will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31; Psa. 96:98; Isa. 26:9; John 5:28, 29; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8, 10-13; Rev. 20:12-15). The world’s thousand-year judgment day is the “due time” in which Christ’s “ransom for all” will be testified to the world in general (1 Tim. 2:4-6; Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34); it is then that “the Spirit and the Bride [complete in the glory of the Divine nature—2 Pet. 1:4] say, Come . . . And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
The restored world of mankind will not have the right to two kinds of life, for they will not be begotten of the Spirit to life as spirit beings. They will be given perfect human life in their Paradise on earth and be restored to earth’s dominion, which was lost for them by Adam’s disobedience (Psa. 37:29; Isa. 35; Micah 4:1-4; Luke 19:10).
But how about the Church of the Gospel Age? Only Jesus ever had a right to two kinds of life of the same time. The right to life on two planes of being never belonged to the Church. They were born under the sentence of death. Before they came to Christ they had no right to life on any plane. God never recognized them as having even earthly rights. The Apostle Paul says, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Before this he was in a dying condition—just as the whole world is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).
The Spirit-begotten Church, “begotten of God” (1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 5:1, 18) as New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), had the right to only one life—a spiritual life and “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4). Our fallen humanity is “justified by his blood [Jesus’ ransom merit]” (Rom. 5:9; 1 John 1:7)—not that we are made perfect according to the flesh, but we are “justified by faith” (Rom. 4:7; 5:1; 8:1), reckoned perfect in God’s sight because of Jesus blood shed for us, and therefore holy and acceptable. In this blessed condition the Church presented their bodies “a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1), drank of Christ’s sacrificial cup, “were baptized into his death” (Matt. 20:23; Rom. 6:3-5), had “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13), and filled up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ in the flesh for His body’s sake, which is the Church (Col. 1:24).
In 2 Cor. 4:7 (compare 5:1) the Apostle speaks of the Church as having a treasure (the newly Spirit-begotten mind, will or nature—the New Creature) “in earthen vessels.” The world could see only the earthen vessels; therefore they knew not the Church as New Creatures, even as they knew not Jesus as such (1 John 3:1). So, then, the Church were dual beings while in the flesh, though they had given up and were sacrificing the justified human life, and therefore had a right to only one life—the New Creature life. ’73-93
Light—Greater Light And Greater Responsibility.
Question (1958)—”If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin” (John 15:22). Please explain.
Answer.—Our Lord referring here to the scribes and Pharisees, explained that the light of His teaching gave a greater responsibility to those who heard it than to those who had not heard it. If they had never come into contact with the light, they would never have knowingly sinned against the light; and therefore their sin was greater in proportion to the greater blessing against which they were sinning. As Jesus expressed it directly to them on one occasion, “If ye were blind, ye should have no [flagrant] sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your [responsibility for your flagrant] sin remaineth” (John 9:41).
So it is today. Those who have never had their eyes opened, who have never heard more than the heathen, would no have any more sin than other heathen people whose eyes have never been opened. But when one sins with a measure of wilfulness against the light and knowledge he has received, his sin is greater, more flagrant. Our responsibility is in proportion to the light given to us. This seems to be the reasonable view of the matter. ’58-7
Little Flock—Meaning Of.
Question (1963)—What is meant by “The Little Flock”?
Answer.—The term “little flock” is found in Luke 12:32. In this connection we should keep in mind that the time—in the Millennial Age—has not yet come for the world’s conversion. If God has been trying to convert the world during the Gospel Age and previously, He has signally failed; for the heathen population has been increasing much more rapidly than the number of even the professed Christians, most of whom are not real Christians, but Christians in name only; and only a small fraction of earth’s billions of people have ever intelligently heard of the name of Jesus, the only name whereby they must be saved (Acts 4:12; 16:31; Rom. 10:14)
Rather, during the Gospel Age, since Christ’s First Advent, God has been doing a work of election, or selection; He has been visiting the Gentiles, “to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14), Christ’s Bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2; 22:17), the Lamb’s Wife (Rev. 19:7), the 144,000 (Rev. 7:4; 14:1-4), His Body members (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:23; 4:12), sharers with Him in His sacrificial cup (Matt. 20:22, 23; 2 Tim. 2:12), partakers of His Divine nature in the resurrection (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2), “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14), and joint-heirs with Christ in His soon-coming Kingdom on earth (Rom. 8:17; Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:4, 6). The Lord calls these a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) hence we designate them likewise. ’63-61
Lord—”It Repented The Lord.”
Question (1967)—If God foreknows and can declare ‘the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10), and never changes His mind (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17), why does Gen. 6:6 say, “It repented the Lord that he had made man in the earth, and it grieved him at his heart”?
Answer.—The casual reader usually understands Gen. 6:6 to mean that God was sorry for having created man, that He was even heartbroken over it. But such a thought works disharmony with other Scriptures. To bring this text’s thought clearly before our minds several things in it must be explained.
The first of these is the word “it” in the expressions, “it repented” and “it grieved.” To what does this “it” refer? Certainly not to God’s creating man; for God foreknew “from the beginning of the world” mankind’s sins and what He would do about them (Acts 15:18). Had God repented of man’s creation, He would have destroyed him, and thus the human family would now be non-existent. Nor does Gen. 6:6 say that God repented for having created man. It says that it repented Jehovah that He had made man in the earth. What repented Him?—to what does the it of this verse refer? The word it here obviously refers to man’s wickedness, even as the previous verse says! “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination [the whole imagination, purpose and desire] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; and it [the wickedness just described] repented the Lord . . . and it grieved him at his heart.”
Having seen that the word “it” used twice in v. 6 refers both times to man’s wickedness described in v. 5, we are ready for an explanation of the next thing that, to the casual reader, is obscure in v. 6, namely, the expression “in the earth,” which occurs both in v.6 and in v. 5. The word earth in the Bible means not only the literal earth—the planet on which we live—but also the symbolic earth—society (Matt. 5:13; Isa. 60:2; Gen. 4:14; 6:11-13; 9:11; Deut. 32:1, etc.) The form of society that prevailed before the flood was somewhat communistic, like that which prevailed among the North American Indians. Such a form of society through man’s increasing selfishness became increasingly evil, until the vile conditions described in Gen. 6:1-5 developed. The words “in the earth,” therefore, in vs. 5 and 6 mean in the communistic form of society prevailing before the flood.
The word “repented” as used in v. 6 also causes some difficulty. We generally use the word to mean to sorrow, to grieve over some matter. But Biblically the word here translated “repented” means to change either one’s mind or one’s procedure (Jer. 4:28; 1 Sam. 15:29; Psa. 90:13; 110:4; Num. 23:19). Knowing the end from the beginning, God never needs to change, nor does He ever change His mind (James 1:17); but He frequently changes His procedure, i.e., He follows all His purposes unto a completion, then takes up other purposes, thus changing His procedure, but not His mind, which all along had planned the change of procedure. For example, when He had finished His Patriarchal-Age purposes, He changed His procedure, taking up His Jewish-Age purposes, which in turn being completed, He changed His procedure, taking up His Gospel-Age purposes; and these being now nearly completed, He is changing His procedure, and beginning to take up His Millennial-Age purposes. If the word “repented” is understood in Gen. 6:6 to mean, not a change of mind, but of procedure, the last difficulty in the verse vanishes.
Accordingly, the verse would mean that man’s wickedness is a communistic form of society occasioned God to change His procedure entered into when He placed him in a communistic form of society; and man’s wickedness therein pained God deeply. The following verses and chapters describe the means by which God changed His procedure, i.e., the flood and the organization of society on the basis of private ownership of property, competition in business and government in national and international relations. And we find that the communistic form of society was so changed; and thus God changed His procedure, but not His mind, which had all along been made up to make the change of procedure when it would be due. ’67-95
Lord’s Return—Is It Invisible.
Question (1923)—How can you harmonize with your teaching that the manner of our Lord’s Return is invisible, the passages (1 Thes. 4:16; 2 Thes. 1:7, 8) that speak of His descending from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God, and of His being revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance?
Answer.—We will first show harmony of our Lord’s invisible return with 1 Thes. 4:16, which speaks of His descending with (literally in or during) a shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God. First we would remark that the shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God with their attendant events, of this verse, mean the same things as the sound of the seventh trumpet and the great voices, with their attendant events, in Rev. 11:15-19. Dan. 12:1, 2 describes the same general events as 1 Thes. 4:16, 17 and Rev. 11:15-19; so also does 1 Cor. 15:52-57. They show us that these events are associated with the time and fact of Christ’s Return, His taking charge of human affairs amid the anger of nations and an unparalleled trouble due to God’s displeasure at sin, and His awakening and judging the dead. The trumpet of Rev. 11:15 is the seventh in a series of seven trumpets, All interpreters of Revelation, worthy of the name, recognize that the first six trumpets are not literal trumpets giving forth literal trumpet-blasts, but are figurative of certain messages with their attendant events from shortly after the time of Christ’s First Presence on earth onward. If this is true, then the seventh trumpet must be symbolic; and we understand it to represent the messages and attendant events of Christ’s Second Presence on earth, which will last a thousand years, and during which the events of 1 Thes. 4:16, 17; Rev. 11:15-19; Dan. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:52-57 take place.
We understand the shout and voice of the Archangel to mean the same as the great voices of Rev. 11:15. The shout we understand to refer to certain human agitations, etc., at the Second Advent, and the voice of the Archangel, to certain proclamations, commands, teachings, etc., that Christ gives through the agencies of His own choosing at the time of His Return. We are now hearing this shout in the agitations and discussions on Sociology, Political Economy, Capital, Labor, Government, Civics, etc., in their relations to the rights of man as these are connected with the principles of justice between man and man. Everywhere such subjects from the standpoint of justice between man and man are being studied, debated and made issues between various classes of Society; and the encouragement of one another to take part in such discussions, etc., and in their real or supposed logically resultant activities form no small part of this shout. The passage under discussion shows that Christ returns while such discussions etc., are going on; but it does not say that He will be seen while descending from heaven.
The voice of the Archangel refers to the proclamations, commands and messages that Christ as Jehovah’s Chief Messenger (Archangel means Chief Messenger) on returning causes to be given through such agencies as He chooses, and they imply His taking charge of Earth’s affairs, which His proclamations, commands and messages indicate Him as doing at that time. These proclamations, commands and messages arouse world-movements for the overthrow of Satan’s Empire through the Great Tribulation of which Dan. 12:1; Rev. 11:15-18 treat, and for the establishment of God’s Kingdom, also referred to in the same passages. This is also represented by His standing up in Dan. 12:1, by His arising to shake terribly the earth in Is. 2:19, 21, and by His voice, amid the anger of nations, melting the symbolic earth—Society—in Ps. 46:6. We show elsewhere in this number that we are in the time of Christ’s return—in the time of this shout, this voice of the Archangel and the seventh trumpet—all these are now in worldwide activity, and as such indicate that we are living at the time of Christ’s Return. But it will be noticed that neither in 1 Thes. 4:16, 17, nor in any of the parallel passages that we have just cited in our explanation of this verse, is there any suggestion whatever given that our Lord will be visible to man’s natural eyes while descending from Heaven amid the shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God, all of which do not in the least require His visibility for their operation. And since the passages neither state nor imply His visibility during the activities accompanying His descent from Heaven, we are not, contrary to the many Scripture teachings on the subject, to read into these passages such a visibility of our Lord at His Return.
Nor does 2 Thes. 1:7, 8 any more state or imply that our Lord will be visible to the natural eyes of men when it says that He will be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance, than it is stated or implied that God is made visible to the natural eyes of men when the Bible says that He has been revealed by Himself or by Christ to men. (1 Sam. 3:7; Matt. 11:27.) In every case, as we showed in our January and March issues, the revelation was made to the eyes of understanding, and not to the natural physical eyes. Some explanations of this passage will, we trust, make its thought clearer. As we have already shown in these columns, the Greek word aggeloi—here translated angels—and the corresponding Hebrew word malochim—usually translated messengers or ambassadors — mean messengers regardless of whether the messengers are human or spirit beings. The Greek of 2 Thes. 1:7 reads, not mighty angels, but angels or messengers of His power. We understand these messengers of His power to represent the agencies that His power uses for the overthrow of Satan’s Empire in the Great Tribulation, such as the World-War, the coming World-Revolution, World-Anarchy and their accompanying World Famines and World Pestilences, together with the instrumentalities by which they are effected. The flaming fire of this verse, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, represents the fierce destructiveness that accompanies these five forms of the Great Tribulation, which as verse 8 shows, will be in punishment of mankind’s sin, as also Rev. 11:15-18 teaches. Please notice that the passage does not teach that our Lord is revealed in the sky, but in flaming fire—in the fearful destructiveness of the Time of Trouble. Thus the passage teaches that His Second Advent from Heaven will be accompanied by the mighty agents of the Great Tribulation and that, in the destructive troubles brought upon mankind through these, by Justice in punishment for sin, men will recognize with their mental, not physical eyes that the Lord Jesus has returned, is overthrowing Satan’s Empire, incidental thereto is punishing the agents of that Empire, and is so shaping the events of that trouble as to pave the way for the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Thus viewed, the passage shows that the revelation of Jesus at His Return, will be made not to man’s natural, but to his mental eyes, in or through the destructive effects of the Great Tribulation as Scripturally taught evidences of His Second Presence. This passage, like every other Biblical passage treating on the subject, mentions not one word of our Lord’s being seen with man’s natural eyes at His Second Advent; but like all others, teaches that He is revealed as present, not by the sight of His body, but by the signs and works of the Second Advent.
Thus we have shown the harmony of 1 Thes. 4:16 and 2 Thes. 1:7, 8 with the many Scripture passages and doctrines, which were discussed in our January and March, issues, and which prove that our Lord’s Return is invisible to man’s natural, but manifest to his mental eyes. ’23-43
Love—Distinction Between Kinds.
Question (1970)—What is the difference between duty love and disinterested love?
Answer.—Two different words in the Greek New Testament are translated “love.” The principle one is agape. It is used whenever the highest kind of love, selfless love, is described; therefore we have designated it, disinterested love.
The word philia is the other word. Like agape it means love, but unlike agape, it does not mean disinterested love: it means duty love. By duty love is meant the good will that is owed by right to others. When duty love is exercised by man Godward it is called piety (Greek, eusebeia, usually translated godliness—that is, duty love to God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength. When it is exercised by God to man it may be called philanthropy (Greek, philanthropia; Titus 3:4). When it is exercised by man-to-man it is called brotherly love (Greek, philadelphia)—love to the neighbor as to self.
We are exhorted in the Scriptures to develop this brotherly love, and its possession is a mark or indication that we are true Christians. Nevertheless the Apostle Peter exhorts that we go on beyond this brotherly love (philadelphia) and attain additionally to the broader Divine love, the disinterested love (agape). He says: “Add to your faith virtue [fortitude]; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance [self-control]; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness [eusebeia, duty to love God]; and to godliness brotherly kindness [philadelphia, duty love to man]; and to brotherly kindness charity [agape, disinterested love]” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Thus the Apostle uses the word agape to refer to the broader and more comprehensive love, the highest attainment of Christlikeness.
The Apostle Paul testifies similarly. When describing the greatest thing in the universe in 1 Cor. 13, he uses the word agape. The culmination of his argument (v. 13) is, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity [agape], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [agape].” It is regrettable that the word charity has suffered a degradation in meaning from that prevalent formerly. Instead of its being usually employed in the noble sense of former times, to mean the grand quality of universal love and good will, it is now used mostly to refer to giving material aid to the poor, needy, ill and unfortunate. The reason we regret the almost entire disuse of the word charity in its noble sense and the substitution of the noun love in its place, is because love is a broader term than charity, which is only one kind of love.
The Apostle Paul uses the word agape also in other connections: “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 5:8, 13:10). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect” (1 John 3:1; 4:16, 17). Thus it is evident that agape refers to a broader and grander kind of love than philia, and evidences the difference between disinterested love and duty love. ’70-103
Luke 6:30—Giving To “Every Man That Asketh.”
Question (1958)—What is the meaning of our Lord’s words in Luke 6:30, “Give to every man that asketh of thee”?
Answer.—The Lord could not have meant for us to take His words with absolute literalness, under all conditions and circumstances, for, if so, we would have to give a child a razor if it cries for it, or, if requested, give money to the dissipated, that they may injure themselves still more. The spirit of a sound mind forbids that we should understand the Master to teach that we should do anything for another or assist him in any manner that would be really to his injury. This is expressed in the next statement, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” We would surely not wish men to grant a request of ours if they sincerely believed that they would be injuring us.
Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, of which Luke 6:30 is a part, is given more fully, more completely, in Matt. 5-7. From Matthew’s account (5:40-42) it would appear that our Lord meant that when we are brought under compulsion, legally, we are to submit gracefully, and not to harbor resentment or grudgings. For instance, He says, “If any man will sue thee at law [italics ours], and take away thy coat [by due legal process], let him have [do not refuse him] thy cloak also.” It does not follow that we are to allow him to take what the Lord has entrusted to our stewardship—wealth, possessions, coat, cloak, etc.—without the process of law-suit and compulsion and without our doing whatever we reasonably can legally to prevent his taking them. But after a legal decision has been made in court, whether we think it a just or an unjust one, we, as the Lord’s disciples, are to be so law-abiding that we will offer not the slightest resistance to the enforcement of the legal decision, though it take from us everything in our possession.
We should interpret Matt. 5:42 and Luke 6:30 in harmony with the foregoing, and assume that the asking means a demand, a compulsion. That this is the proper view is proven by the preceding statement, “If any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat,” etc. If the coat were to be given freely for the asking, the injunction respecting the lawsuit to obtain it would be meaningless.
The succeeding statement is in harmony also, “From him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Here the attitude of the borrower stands out in contrast with the attitude of the one who demands absolute possession.
The Lord’s followers are to be generously inclined toward all men, anxious to “do good and lend” (Luke 6:34, 35), and to use hospitality without selfishly hoping for return favors. Is so situated that an enemy could demand of us our goods, we are to submit; but if so situated that we can resist locally, we are to resist any unjust demands, and compel a suit at law. If the suit at law should go against us, we are to submit gracefully and heartily. The teachings of this verse seem to be that the Lord’s people are to seek to be generous, peaceable and law-abiding under all circumstances and conditions. ’58-55; ’67-102’ *’86-6
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