There is perhaps no passage of Scripture, the meaning of which has been more hotly contested by opposing schools of prophetic interpretation, than the first nine verses of Rev. 20. Omitting their minor differences the popular view of A-Millennialists is as follows : The close of chapter 19 carries us forward to the end of the world, at Christ’s Second Advent. Verses 1-9 of chapter 20 provides a recapitulation of the triumphs of the age of grace, dating from the First Advent. Verse 10 then resumes the narrative temporarily dropped at chapter 19. 21, by giving us the doom of Satan, just as that verse gave us the doom of his two chief agents— the Beast and the False Prophet.
Thus interpreted, however, the passage is almost completely divested of literal significance. The binding of Satan is explained as having taken place either during our Lord’s life or at the Cross. The thousand years are made to represent this Gospel age. During it Christ reigns in heaven, those that sit upon thrones with Him, symbolising the saints who have departed this life. The first resurrection is explained as defining the new birth of the believer. The second resurrection, however, is accepted as being literal. It is claimed to be a general rising from the dead, which embraces all the departed righteous and wicked. While the Great White Throne assize, in the latter half of the chapter, is interpreted by A-Millennialists as being identical with the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matt. 25. 31-46, and that of the Bema of Christ in 2 Cor. 5. 10, etc.
Now, it is true that John sometimes reverts to an earlier historical event or epoch as he unfolds the future in his Revelation. He does so to trace happenings from a different angle, or to emphasise a different lesson. It does not at all seem tenable, however, that he does so here. The events of these verses are plainly the natural and expected sequence of the momentous descent of Christ to earth, so graphically described in chapter 19. There the kings of the earth are dethroned, here others—we suggest the meek of the earth— are enthroned. There Satan’s two lieutenants are summarily cast to their doom, here the great arch-fiend himself is dealt with. First he is confined to the abyss for a thousand years (vv. 1-3). Then he is released for a little season (vv. 7-9), possibly to demonstrate that his imprisonment had not in the least changed his implacable hatred of God. After that he is cast to the same eternal doom as his two henchmen (v. 10).
Again, in chapter 19 Christ returns to earth as “KING OF KINGS” (v. 16) and suppresses all opposition. Here, following His triumphal conquest, He reigns with His own for a thousand years (v. 4), which is a prelude to His everlasting reign (chapter 22. 5).
It should also be observed that we have in this passage two visions, each introduced by the expression, “And I saw” (vv. 1 and 4). These visions are but a part of a series of visions which extends from chapter 19 to chapter 21, all of which are introduced by the same words. Their awe inspiring description flows smoothly onward in simple, orderly, and majestic chronological sequence. John tells us he “saw” :—
The descent of the Lord, seated upon a white horse, chapter 19. 11-16.
An angel calling the fowls to the high carnival of God’s great supper, chapter 19. 17, 18.
The destruction of the assembled militant forces of the Beast, chapter 19. 19-21.
An angel descends to bind and imprison Satan, chapter 20. 1-3.
Three companies of heavenly ones who live and reign with Christ, chapter 20. 4-6.
The Great White Throne, chapter 20. 11.
The innumerable wicked dead standing before the Throne, chapter 20. 12-15.
The New Creation, Chapter 21. 1.
The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, chapter 21. 2.
Surely the reader can discern that in this simple treatment of these chapters there is nothing either forceful or fanciful. It merely follows the Divine outline of future events, without becoming involved in any expositional details of a controversial nature. If this be accepted as the Spirit’s preview of the future, however, think of what that means. It means that the A-Millennial recapitulation theory of Rev. 20 completely collapses, and it goes far to expose the fallacy of that entire system of prophetic interpretation.
We shall now proceed to examine the passage more in detail, which will further confirm the utter untenableness of our opponents’ viewpoint.
One advocate of that viewpoint says that “pre-millennar-iahs would sometimes have us believe that their whole millennial scheme lies plain as a pikestaff in Rev. 20.” We can only reply that we do not for a moment believe any such thing and it is serious matter for anyone to make such a rash statement. What we believe is that the whole millennial scheme lies plainly written across the broad page of Holy Scripture, of which Rev. 20 is one small portion. The same writer accuses Walter Scott of “mingling the symbolic and the literal at his own mere whim”, when dealing with this passage, because Mr. Scott treats the key, chain, and seal as symbols, but the thousand years, the abyss, the two resurrections, etc., as literal. It never seems to occur to the critic that this is the very thing he himself does. He teaches that whereas the resurrection of verse 12 (“I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God”) is a literal rising from the dead, “the first resurrection” of verse 5 is the new birth of the believer. Moreover, he does this, notwithstanding, the obvious fact that in verses 4-6 the Holy Spirit mentions the two resurrections together, and mentions them in language which plainly means that, though in time they are a thousand years apart, both of them are to be understood in exactly the same literal sense. Here is how the verses read:—
"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus .... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power”.
To confirm what we believe to be the plain meaning of this passage, I cannot here do better than quote from the illustrious Alford, to whom as a Greek scholar and textual critic, Bible lovers owe so much. His words in this connection have often been quoted, and will be quoted as long as our language endures. Commenting upon the sentence, “THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION,” he says: “It will have been long ago anticipated by the readers of this Commentary, that I cannot consent to distort the words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any risk of abuses which the doctrine of the millennium may bring with it. Those who lived next the Apostles, and the whole Church for 300 years, understood them in the plain literal sense; and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instances of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where TWO RESURRECTIONS are mentioned, where certain SOULS LIVED at the first, and the rest of the DEAD LIVED only at the end of a specified period after that first—if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean SPIRITUAL RISING with Christ, while the second means LITERAL RISING from the grave—then there is an end to all significance in language, and the Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to any thing. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which I suppose none will be hardy enough to maintain: but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which in common with the whole primitive Church and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain and receive as an article of faith and hope”. (“The New Testament for English readers”, by Henry Alford, D.D., Part 2, pages 1088 and 1089). In the light of these monumental words the reader can judge for himself who it is that “mingles the symbolic and the literal at his own mere whim” when interpreting Revelation 20.
From the notes of addresses given in the Ebenezer Hall, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.
— the 5th to the 8th of June 1960.
Reprinted from The Caribbean Courier by permission.
The final period of gathering for the observance of the yearly feasts is now before us. Within it, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles were celebrated. From this point onward in the interpretation, much that concerns the heavenly company is still discernible, running parallel with it, however, truth related to the nation of Israel is discovered. Instructions regarding the trumpets and their use is given in the Book of Numbers chapter 10, verses 1 to 10, which portion should be carefully read before continuing with this study.
Trumpets were used to communicate the mind of God to the people with reference to their preparations for movement and for war, and they were in the hands of the sons of Aaron, the priests, men consecrated for the work of the Sanctuary and who dwelt within its precincts. Their position enabled them to discern the earliest movements of the Cloud and thus make them known to the host of Israel.
In a similar way to-day, the mind of God for His people is first of all discerned and then made known by spiritual men, whose endeavour it is to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High they are sensitive to the movements of His Spirit, while they have in their hearts the well-being of His people. With uplifted eyes and consecrated ears they wait in His Presence for the ministry suitable to the needs of the saints.
Conviction regarding the truth presented must be apparent in' all who would be teachers of others. Whatever the aspect of ministry, whether it be in warning the ungodly and pointing out the way of salvation, or in ministry for the upbuilding and instruction of the Lord’s people, it is essential for the Lord’s servant to possess this realisation that his message is of God—“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14. 8).
With “so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them without signification”, it behoves all who would approach such ministry to declare distinctly and definitely the truth of God with a “Thus saith the Lord” for the authority.
It is observed that the trumpets were to be made of silver, which associates them with redemption, and makes clear that all Divine communications given in grace can only be made and received upon the ground of the shed blood and finished work of the Lord Jesus.
The heralds of truth are they who appreciate these things. Their wholesome, reverential fear of God and His Word produces spiritual conditions suitable for the reception of Divine instruction, and is essentially, part of the equipment of the spiritual man.
The Feast of Trumpets has in mind two things—first our gathering together unto Him, and then the re-gathering of the nation of Israel. Coinciding with the presentation of the Church to her Lord will be the movements of God with regard to the nation so long exposed to His judgments by reason of her sin. It will be the occasion for the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy—“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shalt worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isa. 27. 13). It is of this re-gathering that our Lord speaks in Matthew 24, verses 29 to 31 : “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, and from one end of heaven to the other.”
The entire context of this passage makes it abundantly clear that it is the nation and not the Church that is in view here.
The ears of every Christian should be tuned to hear the “Joyful sound”. It will announce His coming and summon us into His Presence.—“For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15. 52).
With the expectancy begotten of faith in His Word let us “look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The “last trump” referred to by the apostle Paul must not be confused with the Angelic trump of Rev. 10. The thought is in keeping with that previously expressed in 1 Cor. 14. 8 and is associated with the usage of the silver trumpet. The last or final trump indicated the moment for the complete removal of the entire camp from its present location. As it sounded the whole company moved forward.
By the trumpet, directions were communicated to the extremities of the camp. It was suggestive of distance. Such distances will then be forever eliminated. No longer shall we need the silver trumpet, for the redeemed will have moved into the immediate Presence of their Lord, and it will be the portion of all to be within sight of His face.
It is this thought of our nearness to Christ that fills the soul with glad anticipation of His coming, and causes us joyfully to sing,
“Soon Thy saints shall all be gathered
Inside the Veil:
All at home, no more be scattered,
Inside the Veil:
Nought from Thee our hearts shall sever,;
We shall see Thee, grieve Thee never;
Praise the Lamb! shall sound forever,
Inside the Veil.”
Surely our hearts respond with the beloved John—“Even so, come, Lord Jesus”!
Chapter 5. 1 begins a new section and continues to the end of chapter 6. In it Paul deals with questionable things in the fellowship. These Corinthian believers had at one time been idolaters and were still living in a city full of idolatry and licentiousness. Impurity of this nature had come into the fellowship, and seemingly without any heart searching on their part. Further, if quarrels arose amongst them, they even took these to the open courts. In these two chapters (5 and 6) we have some of the strongest language in the New Testament. It is in chapter 5 that we have the authority for putting away from the fellowship those guilty of the various things mentioned. It is because of the quality of the fellowship, because of the honour of the One in whose Name we gather, that these things cannot be allowed to flourish in the assembly, and must be dealt with accordingly, though not in a hard censorious spirit, but in a spirit of meekness. In my thirty-six years in assembly life, only twice have I known such action to be taken. The first time it happened I had been saved only three or four years. The brother was a much older brother than I and very dear to me, and that morning as he was read out of the fellowship, there was not a dry eye in the meeting for sorrow, to think that this had to be done. Some time ago I had a visit from a brother. He had been put out of fellowship from an assembly. Some time had lapsed, and he had written to the assembly, asking if he could be restored back into fellowship. The brethren had replied that the time was not yet right for restoration. He came to ask my advice in this. I told him I had no jurisdiction whatsoever in connection with this assembly, and I felt, too, that if this was the wish of the brethren then it was up to him to exercise patience and grace and to wait their time. Now here are the two sides : in one a person is put out, and in the other a person wishes to come back. Let us remember that the whole purpose of putting away is that in due course the one thus disciplined might be restored, both to the Lord and to the fellowship. Paul refers to this in his second letter to the Corinthians. Grace and love should be shown lest the repentant one be swallowed up with over much sorrow. Here then are the two sides, first the assembly must exercise discipline when necessary, but be ready also when the time is right to receive such back again. As far as the person is concerned, he is to accept such discipline and by a godly repentance and sorrow he will then show to the company his fitness for fellowship again. In practice the great tragedy is that many who are disciplined never afterwards look near the assembly. Either there has been no true repentance, or more likely, pride, that greatest of all sins, keeps him from returning. Listen brethren, the man who, having been disciplined, shows godly repentance and sorrow, and is brought back into the fellowship and rehabilitates himself amongst the saints, is a man to be admired. May the Lord give us all grace and understanding concerning such things.
The next section of the epistle commences with chapter 7. 1. “Now concerning those things whereof ye wrote me.” Here they raise some questions about the fellowship, and the first concerns relationship between the sexes and the purity of such relationship in the fellowship. These are subjects we sometimes avoid in assemblies, and yet there never was a greater need for plain speaking than to-day. The morals of the world have gone to pieces. The cinema, theatre, radio and television glorify sex and crime. These things are not viewed as sins any more; they have come to be accepted as part of our modem social life. The bookshops of the world are full of literature that is corrupting the minds of young men and women. The forces of evil are gaining ground in this sphere, and in such a world the assemblies of God’s people have to function and witness. In some of our assemblies there are many young people, and it gives cause for much concern to see young men having flirtations with, first one girl and then another, and vice versa. These things ought not to he amongst the saints. If there were more waiting upon God by both parties concerning courtship before making any advances, much sorrow and unpleasantness would be avoided. But once being assured of God’s will and courtship has commenced, remember the words of the Scripture to treat sisters “with all purity.” Do nothing of which later you might be ashamed, for things done during courtship can mar the whole of the future married life. I have only touched one part of this subject, but the apostle deals here with both old and young, married and single, to order such relationship that the fellowship be not hindered.
Now from chapter 8 to the end of chapter 10, the apostle deals with the subject of idolatry. For various reasons I do not wish to say anything about this section, mainly because of space, and because this is not an exposition of the Epistle to the Corinthians. But just let me say that in 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle reminds us all that we cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, we cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons. In other words, idolatry in any form will quench the fellowship.
Sometimes in the New Testament the word “brethren” signifies brother-Jews, whether regenerate or not. For example, in Stephen’s address, reported in Acts 7. 25, 26, it is said that Moses “supposed that his brethren understood how that God by his hand was giving them deliverance. And the day following he . . . . would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?” He called them “brethren”, or brothers, as fellow-Israelites, and appealed to them by his action and his speech to behave as brothers, to be brotherly, brother-like, in their conduct. This usage is very clear, also, in Romans 9. 3, 4, which brings Paul before us in his great sorrow and everpresent heartache “for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh; who are Israelites”. They were Paul’s brethren as Jews, even in their unregenerate condition. Consider also that cry of horror and anguish and helplessness, “Brethren, what shall we do?” that came from the lips, and the hearts, of the Christ-rejecting Jews of Acts 2. 37, as they suddenly realised that they had made a very grave mistake, and committed a very great sin in their rejection of Him of whom Peter had borne such ringing testimony. Peter had called them brethren. He, in verse 29, and they, in verse 37 used the word in application to Israelites as such. (None of them would have admitted to being a Christ-rejector; all would have protested that they looked for the Messiah, the Christ, but up to the time indicated in the narrative they had rejected the claim that Jesus was the Christ).
When we come to the Lord’s words of Matthew 23. 8, however, “But be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren,” we are to think of those He addressed (Judas being excepted, though the time had not yet arrived for the manifestation of his true state), as truly regenerate. They were not only Jews, but true disciples of the Lord. (It was too early for the term “Christian” to be used; to do so would have been misleading and inappropriate at the time).
Frequently in the New Testament, however, the term, “brethren,” refers to Christian men as such, whether Jews or Gentiles. Examples are found throughout Paul’s epistles, particularly in those where affection is conspicuous, but also where correction is prominent; Christian men are brothers or brethren in either case. Whether they are worthy or unworthy brethren, they are all equally brethren. Brotherhood is one thing and brotherliness another. Unbrotherliness does not make a brother less a brother, however much it is to be recognised, confessed, and forsaken. On the other hand, brotherliness is to be faithfully practised, but it does not make a brother any more a brother. This, of course, is all very elementary. Yet it may not be harmful to state it, for at times it seems to be overlooked. For example, a biography of an eminent Christian uses the phrase, “half-fledged brothers”. Such a usage is foreign to the New Testament; this does not admit of degrees of brotherhood. The biographer was using the term “brothers” in a sense other than the Scriptural. He was referring to people in a certain organisation, of which he was thinking as “The Brethren”. But, as has just been remarked, Scripture never uses the term in this way. This, too, should be regarded by the reader as elementary. Though the two phrases sound the same, “the brethren” has not the same meaning as “The Brethren” (whoever they are to whom this designation is applied, with or without their consent).
References may now be made to examples of the use of the term “brethren” in the Epistles. In R.V., 1 Thess. 4. 9, 10 reads, “Concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write to you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; for indeed ve do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia. But we beseech you, brethren, that ye abound more and more.” It appears from 2 Thess. 1. 3 that the Thessalonian brethren gave good heed to Paul’s injunction; he was delighted that “every one of you swimmeth in love one toward another”, as certain translators of four centuries ago render the last part of this verse.
Some of the brothers in the Thessalonian assembly, however, had imbibed strange notions, which led them to become idle and unruly. Nevertheless they were still brethren and each was to be admonished as a brother, for which see 2 Thess. 3. 11, 16. A brother’s failures cannot remove him from the family of God, though they may raise doubts in the minds of others about the reality of his profession. For though God knows the heart and needs no outward signs, it is just these by which men have to form their judgments. If one who is “called a brother” is a “wicked person”, he has to be regarded, and excommunicated, as wicked (1 Cor. 5. 11, 12).
Let us come now to later times. About the year 1825 a number of earnest Christians in Ireland and England became distressed by the existence of the many sections into which professing Christians were divided. This prompted much exercise of mind and searching of the Scriptures. Such exercise among other things led to the firm appreciation that, according to the New Testament, every true Christian man is equally a brother with every other, despite all differences, whether legitimate or not. They made a great deal of this discovery, frequently addressing each other as “Brother”, and soon people began calling them “The Brethren”, with variations friendly and otherwise. But the godly men of discernment among them refused to accept for themselves the appellation “The Brethren”. They took the ground that they were no more brethren than other true Christians were, and, because of this, it would be wrong to form a section arrogating the name “Brethren” to itself. They recognised that Christian men outside such a section were as much brethren as those in it. What others in their ignorance called them they could not help; they had no control over such people, whose references to them were crude, unintelligent and unsympathetic. Of course this knowledge of the proper use of the term “brethren” was not the only thing they learned from Scripture. The name “Brethren” served shallow-minded people however, as a nickname. Those so misrepresented sought to meet this misunderstanding with patience, good-will, and explanation. After the pattern of the injunction of 2 Tim. 2 24 they strove to be gentle, explanatory, patient, self-denying as to themselves and their feelings, steadfast as to the truth, thankful to have some share in its promulgation, seeking the glory of God in it, and gladdened if in the general atmosphere of ignorance and lack of sympathy, any should be found responsive to the corrective ministry of the Word of God. It must not be thought, however, that only men of outstanding gift preserved this spiritual outlook. There have been many humble believers sufficiently appreciative of the Scriptural use of the term “brethren” as to reject, whole-heartedly, such an appellation as “The Brethren”, regarding it, and other such terms as God-dishonouring and offensive to that elementary truth to which the foregoing remarks have alluded.
In John 21 we have the record of the third time that our Lord shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead. On that occasion, after they had dined, He closely questioned Peter as to his love for Him, and gave him a three-fold charge—firstly, “Feed My lambs”, then, “Shepherd My sheep”, and finally, “Feed My little sheep”. In reading this letter which he wrote to the saints, we see how well he fulfilled his task. At this time the people of God were suffering much persecution, their faith was being sorely tested, and consequently they were in great need of shepherd care. They needed to be strengthened in their faith, and encouraged in their testimony, so that the trial of their faith, though tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. It is worthy of note that in every chapter of the Epistle, reference is made to the sufferings of Christ, Peter always speaking of the death of Christ in this way. One obvious reason was that when the saints contemplated the awful sufferings of Christ for them, what they were suffering for His sake, would appear of little account; and so with hearts filled with love to Him Whom they had never seen, yet believing, they could rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, despite all their afflictions.
In chapter 1, the Apostle touches upon four great truths, which afford wholesome fare to feed and nourish the souls of God’s people both young and old.
Election—note “ELECT”, v. 2.
Preservation—note “KEPT”, v. 5.
Redemption—note “REDEEMED”, v. 18.
Regeneration—note “BORN AGAIN”, v. 23.
It may seem at first sight that the doctrine of Election is food for sheep rather than lambs, but such is not the case. The most simple believer can enjoy the glorious fact that he or she has been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. How marvellous! How blessed to know that we have been loved with an everlasting love, and were in God’s thoughts in the dateless past. The important thing, however, is to learn the great purpose of God connected with this amazing subject, for Election is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. Now it will be of interest to put three New Testament references together. (1) In 1 Peter 1. 2 the Apostle says we are “elect ... unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Here we have what is initial in the Christian life, viz., our obedience to the Gospel and appropriation by faith of the sacrifice of Christ for salvation. (2) In Eph. 1. 4, we are “chosen . . . that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” This suggests what is progressive. (3) Then in Romans 8. 29 we have God’s grand ultimate design—“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”. It should be noted that the New Testament writers believed and stated the doctrine of Election, but never tried to explain it. May we all increasingly enjoy the sweetness and comfort of it, and not regard it as a bone of contention, a subject for argument.
In verse 3 the Apostle breaks into a doxology, in praise to God for having begotten us again unto a living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, to an inheritance reserved in heaven for us. Thus our minds are carried right on to the glorious future, to what is laid up in store for us, to be realised at the appearing of Jesus Christ. The contrasting background to this section is doubtless the inheritance of Israel in the land of Canaan. Through sin and failure their inheritance was corrupted, the land defiled, and they were driven out. But not so is our inheritance. It is incorruptible, it is undefiled, it is kept in heaven for us, and we are being kept for it. How consoling to suffering saints is this thought of preservation, the knowledge that despite the rage of the devil, and the machinations of evil men, we are being guarded by the power of God during our pilgrimage, until the last step is taken, and we reach heaven, home and glory.
In passing on to verse 18, we have another key thought in this Epistle, viz.—“Redemption”. The word '“redeemed” means to be bought out of the slave market and set free, never again to be enslaved. What a profound theme is Redemption, and when considered, how calculated to fill our hearts with praise and worship, not only now but throughout eternal years! (see Rev. 5. 9). Our Redeemer was none other than the Son of God, Who became the Son of man, the true kinsman Redeemer Who only had the right, the power and the willingness to redeem us, and the ransom price was nothing less than His precious shed blood.
“Redeemed, redeemed from sin and all its woe,
Redeemed, redeemed, eternal life to know,
Redeemed, redeemed, by Jesus’ blood,
Redeemed, redeemed, Oh, praise the Lord!”
But Redemption not only brings great blessing, it puts us in a position of great responsibility. For henceforth, we are not our own, we have been bought with a price, therefore we are called upon to glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6. 19, 20).
It can be clearly seen that from verse 13 to verse 21, Peter had the deliverance of the children of Israel from Pharaoh’s tyranny and Egypt’s bondage in mind. The call to gird up the loins of our mind, and the mention of the lamb without blemish would prove that Israel’s history in Exodus 12 was typical of our redemption. Therefore, if God redeemed them so that they might worship and serve Him, how much more hearty our praise should be, and how much more devoted our service! The salutary exhortations in this section to Sobriety and Hope, v. 13, to Obedience, v. 14, to Holiness, v. 15, and Fear, v. 17, all stem from the great fact of Redemption in v. 18. It is interesting and instructive to see in this chapter that Election and Redemption are contemporary in the counsels of God. In verse 20 we read concerning the Lord Jesus— “who verily was fore-ordained (fore-appointed, that is, marked out as the sacrificial victim) before the foundation of the world”, and in verse 2, we were elected to appreciate this sacrifice and receive the benefits flowing from it.
In verse 23 we are reminded of the great truth of Regeneration. We have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. This new birth has been brought about by the operation of the Holy Spirit within us, imparting the life of God to our souls when we exercised faith in Christ. This verse explains the import of our Lord’s word to Nicodemus in John 3. 5 : “Except a man be bom of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. The water represents the Word of God applied in the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul, resulting in the new birth. This means that the believer has two natures within him—the old nature which he inherited from Adam which is fallen and depraved, and which has not been eradicated, and the new, spoken of in the second Epistle as the Divine nature. This we should feed and nourish, while we keep the old nature in the place of death. This work of regeneration in the believer is manifested by love to the Lord Jesus Christ Who suffered for our sins (v. 8), unfeigned love of the brethren, which we are exhorted to keep at boiling point, and love for the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever. These things abounding in us will ensure our growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.