September/October 1982

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


by Jim Flanigan

by J. B. Hewitt

by D. N. Martin

by William Hoste

by John Heading

by B. Currie

by Jack Strahan


Notes on Revelation

by Jim Flanigan

John is now exhorted to take, and eat, the little book. He is told that it will be sweet in his mouth, but, that when digested, it will be bitter; and it was so. The picture is clear and explicit. How sweet and precious it is to be allowed to share God’s secrets. How blessed a privilege that we should be taken into His confidence and be permitted to know what He purposes and plans for the world. Who are we; who was Abraham, or Moses, or Paul, or John, that God should make known His mind and reveal His Heart, and indicate beforehand what He proposed to do? How privileged are those, to whom His thoughts have been made known. But— when we digest those things that we have heard from Him, how solemn. When we really understand what God intends to do, how bitter it is. What feelings rend our hearts and spirits, what sorrow, and even tears, as we anticipate the judgments that will fall, and the terrors that will come. As earth rolls on its way, merrily, carelessly, heedlessly, what manner of persons ought we to be, who know what is in prospect, and who understand the wrath which is to come. May we live accordingly, as those who know God’s secrets. May we find the balance between the sweet joy of being in His confidence, and the deep sorrow of understanding what is to befall earth and men, remembering that amongst those men are many of our friends and neighbours, and many children of God’s beloved people.

Forth in His Name we go,
A royal priesthood now,
His excellence to show,
To whom as Lord we bow:
From darkness called to wondrous light,
The sons of day amidst the night.
Praying for grace to live
As fits a royal race,
We seek to men to give
The light of truth and grace:
His Name to bear,
His will obey,
His steps to follow day by day.


We have now arrived at a chapter where it would be neither prudent nor honest to be dogmatic in interpretation. This section is regarded by many expositors as one of the most difficult in the Revelation. Two witnesses; who are they? Are they literally two men? Can they be identified? What do they minister? When do they minister? Do they actually die? Do their bodies really lie on a Jerusalem street for three and a half days? What is this raising to life again? And this ascension? These are the questions which beg for answers in chapter 11.
But first, there is the measuring of the Temple, and the Altar, and the worshippers. We have before seen, that, after the Rapture, there will again be a Temple in Jerusalem, with some measure of divine recognition (2 Thess. 2.4). Here, Jehovah assesses just what is His, in a day of apostasy. The Lord, Who, in the days of His Flesh, had purged another Temple with a scourge in His Hand, now directs the measuring of this Temple to determine what is His own. The court of the Gentiles is omitted; it is cast out; given up to the nations who trample the Holy City. Jerusalem is often called the Holy City (Nehemiah 11.1, 18. Isaiah 52.1. Matt. 4.5. Matt. 27.52,53). Israel is only once in Scripture called the Holy Land.
Our attention is now turned to the Witnesses. It is interesting that John does not actually see the Witnesses in vision. The description which we have of them is not John’s, but that of the Angel of Ch. 10, whom we have taken to be the Lord Himself. We shall now look at the relevant questions.

(i) Are they literally two men?

Perhaps the majority viewpoint is that they are. It is pointed out that they are referred to as "two prophets." Much of the narrative may indeed suggest that they are two individuals. But in a book of signs and symbols, as
Revelation is, this literal interpretation may not be correct. Is the Woman of Ch. 12 an individual? or the Woman of Oh. 17? Is not the Beast of Ch. 13 a system, and not an individual only? Is the Bride of Ch. 19 an individual? It may well be that we should not be thinking here of two individuals at all, but of testimony for God in a collective way, in that day.

(ii) Who are they?

Those who interpret the Witnesses as actual individuals, and who try to identify them, have suggested the names of Enoch, of Moses, and of Elijah. Enoch and Elijah are favoured by some, because they never died, and because, they say, it is appointed unto men once to die, and that, here, now, they return as Witnesses to be martyred and to die, according to the appointment. This argument is not valid. There are many of us who expect that we may never die. "We shall not all sleep." There is then, of course, the similarity between the miraculous powers of the Witnesses and those of Moses and Elijah, who also turned the waters to blood, and brought plagues upon men, and caused the rains to cease. Some expositors however, will not be so bold as to attempt identification, but will still see the Witnesses as two preaching prophets. Is this necessary? Two witnesses were ever the evidence and requirement of valid testimony (Deut. 17.6. 19.15. Matt. 18.16). Why should we not have here a symbolic representation of adequate divine testimony after the Rapture, from a believing Remnant of Israel and from saved Gentiles as in Ch. 7,—a two-fold cord.

(iii) What do they minister?

They are Olive Trees and Lampstands. These are consistent types of testimony and light-bearing. If the Angel of Ch. 10 is the Lord Jesus, then it is the Lord Jesus who says they are "My Witnesses" (v. 3). Whoever they are, they must bear testimony to Him. After the Rapture, as before the Rapture, there is but one Saviour, and one way of salvation by the Blood of the Lamb (Oh. 7). This only they must declare, though despised by men, as their garments of sackcloth indicate.

(iv) When do they minister?

For three and a half years (reminiscent of the Lord Himself) they have liberty to minister. Though despised, and
essentially opposed, they enjoy divine protection. Their enemies are restrained, and the prophets administer their heavenly mandate. It is the first half of the Seventieth Week. During this period active testimony is possible, and perhaps even protected, by the Beast’s Covenant with Israel. It is difficult to imagine, as some teach, that such unhindered testimony could obtain during the latter part of the Week. Nevertheless, many will see it so, and debate will continue as to the timing of the Witnesses’ testimony.

(v) Do they actually die?

It is only fair to say that the majority of interpreters will see the Witnesses as two literal men who really die. If we take the Witnesses to be symbolic of God’s testimony in that day, then we may view their savage killing in a twofold way. First, that there will be literal and actual martyrdoms is clearly taught. God’s people will dearly pay for their faith, and blood will freely flow. Many, both Jewish and Gentile, will seal their testimonies with their blood (Ch. 6.9) But secondly, this may be seen as symbolical of world wide rejection of God’s truth in universal apostasy. In the midst of the Week the Beast assumes Deity (2 Thess. 2.4), demands Divine honours (Rev. 13.12,15), and destroys religious Babylon (Rev. 17.16-17). The Beast who initiates the destruction of the corrupt Babylon will kill too, any liberty that has existed for true public testimony for God.

(vi) Do their bodies really /h5e on a Jerusalem street for three and a half days?

In Jerusalem, the centre, the carcase lies fallen. Note that the expression, "dead bodies" (v. 8), is a singular word "carcase." This adds weight to the thought that it is testimony in general that is being portrayed and not two individual prophets. The suppression of their testimony is accompanied by fiendish glee in the world. There is international delight that the preaching which tormented the nations has now been silenced. Earth-dwellers rejoice. There is an unholy exchanging of gifts and a making merry among men. Many will see the three and a half days literally, but may they not rather refer to the short-lived triumph of the enemies of the Truth during the second half of the Week. May this not well be a symbolic way of saying that the three and a half years of the triumph of the Beast are but as transient as three and a half days, a fleeting glory indeed?

(vii) What then, is their Resurrection and Ascension?

God will vindicate His rejected Witnesses. That there will be a resurrection of martyrs, is true, of course; but the point here emphasised is that Heaven will publicly acknowledge the prophets whom earth disowned and refused. How significant is that word—"and their enemies beheld them!" And in the same hour of their vindication their enemies are vanquished, and the God of the Witnesses is glorified.
Here is the end of the second Woe.
The third Woe is the sounding of the seventh and last Trumpet. But to equate this trumpet, the last in this series, with the "last trump" of 1 Cor. 15.52 is naive indeed. Those who argue so, to place the Rapture of the Church at this point in time, and not before the Tribulation, often ask in a sort of irony, "Does last mean last?" Yes, of course; but "last" in one set of circumstances, is not "last" in another. Ask any old soldier, as he talks of campaigns of the past, how many times he has heard "The last post!" Does "last" mean "last?" Then how can a "last" post be heard on many occasions? The answer is simple and obvious, of course; we are talking of different circumstances and so a last call may be repeated again and again at different times. The last trump of 1 Cor. 15 is the last call to saints in a day of Church testimony. There have been many calls. Calls to service; calls to worship; calls to communion; we wait for the last call—the last trump, to call us up and away to Himself. The seventh trumpet of Rev. 11 is something quite different.
This Trumpet heralds the coming of the King. At last, Divine Rights are being asserted. The King will claim His Kingdom, and reign. In v.18 there is a play upon words which is not apparent in our Authorised Version of the Revelation. "The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." The words "angry," and "wrath," are the same. The nations are angry, and God is angry. It is a fearful scene. The heavenly Temple is opened; the inner shrine with the Ark of the Covenant—a symbolic reminder that God is true to His covenant promises, and that now, the Kingdom has come. It is the spirit of Psalm 2. God will now reward and avenge His servants, and destroy their enemies, and His Christ will reign "for ever and ever." There may indeed be a thousand years of a particularly earthly reign, but the Kingdom itself never ends. The millenium may terminate, but the Kingdom is the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1.11).

Top of Page

Focus On Fundamentals

by J. B. Hewitt (Chesterfield)



The heart of Christianity is the Bible, the heart of the Bible is the Cross, and the heart of the Cross is the very heart of God; a heart full of tenderest compassion for sinful man. The death of Christ is the fact of the Gospel, and the factor of all blessing. From the shadows of Old Testament typology to the blazing sunshine of New Testament theology, redemption is the grandest theme to captivate our hearts. Meditate on the Word of the Cross (1 Cor. 1.18); the Death of the Cross (Phil. 2.8); the blood of the Cross (Col. 1.20); the purposes of the Cross (Gal. 1.4; 3.13,14; 1 Pet. 3.18; Titus 2.14; Rom. 14.9; The triumph of the Cross (Col. 2.15).

(1) VIEWED TYPICALLY IN THE PENTATEUCH. Its substitutionary aspect is clear (Lev. 17.11; 1 Pet. 1.19,20). The angel (Gen. 48.16); the arm (Ex. 6.6); the animal (Ex. 12.12) all speak of redemption. The Atonement runs like a scarlet line of sacrificial death from Abel to Christ. (Heb. 12.24). The acceptable sacrifice of Gen. 8.20 is answered in Eph. 5.1. Isaac on the altar portrays Phil. 2.8. The passover lamb (Ex. 12), has its counterpart in 1 Cor. 5.7. The Levitical offerings (chs. 1-7) tell of the immeasurable worth of the death of Christ. The day of atonement (Lev. 16), finds its answer in 1 Pet. 3.18; Heb. 9.14. The red heifer (Num. 19), is fulfilled in Heb. 13.12; the brazen serpent Num. 21, is confirmed by the Lord (John 3.14).

(2) VIVIDLY IN THE PSALMS. Here we are given an insight into our Lord’s inner feelings, and His sufferings for us, as nowhere else. They are full of Christ and the Jews are unanimous in applying a Messianic interpretation to those Psalms which are generally accepted as such by Christians. A suffering Messiah destined to reign (Ps. 22; "a Psalm of sobs." Note the tenfold use of the pronoun
"MY." His loneliness v.1,2; humiliation v. 6-8; the publicity and violence of His death v.12-18; not the atoning aspect as in Is. 53. Ps. 40 His devotion to the will of God. Ps. 69 pictures the crucifixion with its reproach, the offence of the Cross in all its awful solemnity. In Ps. 86.6, He is bereft of lover, friend, and acquaintance. Ps. 102.7 as a sparrow alone upon a housetop in rejection.

(3)  PROPHETICALLY IN THE PROPHETS. In Isaiah 42 our Lord is the Ideal Servant. In chapter 50 He is the Ideal Sufferer endowed and equipped for His ministry which entailed suffering in obedience to His Father’s will. Chapter 52.13-53.12 is vicarious suffering, the one for the many. It opens with a presentation of suffering and triumph. Its unexpected sequel is His royal exaltation (52.14; John 12. 24,32,33). The great prince of Daniel as in Zech. 9.9; Matt. 21.15, is linked with seven great events in relation to Israel, during the period of "seventy weeks" (Zech. 13.1; Dan. 9. 24,25 with Rev. 1.5,6). The smitten shepherd with the sheep scattered is a clear revelation of Christ both in His Divine and human nature (Zech. 13.7). There is the "blood of the Covenant" (with Matt. 26.38 R.V.).

(4) HISTORICALLY IN THE GOSPELS. In the Gospels only the briefest account is given of our Lord’s life and ministry, yet His death is described in detail by each Evangelist. In Matt. 20.28 and Mark 10.45 the Lord speaks of the very purpose of His coming to earth, "to give His life a ransom for many." His vicarious death for our sins. "For" is "instead of" and "ransom" is "lutron" the ransom price paid for our deliverance. Here our Lord condenses in a single phrase His atoning death. It was absolutely necessary (Luke 22.37; 24.7; John 3.14). He went out of this world voluntarily (John 10.18; 18.11; 19.30). John wrote his Gospel, "that by believing men might have life through His Name" (20.31).

(5) DOCTRINALLY IN THE EPISTLES. Here the Spirit explains the meaning and purpose of the death of Christ (Eph. 1.22; 1 Pet. 1.20-24 with Acts 2.23). In Rom. 3.25 He is the "Mercy Seat" and God is "just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Justified by His blood shed for us, saved by His life in heaven, the blood. sprinkled (Rom. 5.9,10; Heb. 9.22). In
1 Cor. 1.18, His death saves, the theme of the Gospel (15.3). In 2 Cor. 5.19, we are reconciled and made righteous (v.21). in Gal. 1.4, emancipation from the character of this age. In 6.14, the symbol of separation from the world. Redemption through His blood (Eph. 1.7), and brought nigh to God (2.13) because of His acceptable sacrifice (5.1). His devotion and obedience unto death will bring universal subjugation (Phil. 2.9,10). Our Lord triumphed over the powers of darkness (Col. 2.15).

(6) ETERNALLY IN THE REVELATION. How true, "The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s Land." John wept because no man was found worthy to open the scroll. Tears flooded his eyes, tears of concern and compassion over an inheritance unredeemed (5.4). He was consoled by one of the elders who assures him that One was present to open the sealed scroll. He beheld the Kinsman-Redeemer in His Sovereignty—"the Lion of the tribe of Judah," and in His Centrality—in the midst (v. 5). There He stands, the Lion and the Lamb, the One who is both Sovereign and Saviour. He is referred to as the Lamb twenty-eight times in this book. Not the usual word for lamb, but a word which literally means A Little Lamb. Revelation places a new and unique emphasis on Christ as the Lamb. Slain (5.6) redeeming (v.9), and worshipped (v.12).
The wrath of the Lamb, a dreadful day of terror (6.16,17). His Blood brings purity, privilege and provision (7.9-17). Victory by the blood of the Lamb (12.11). Followers (14.4) victory (17.14) and apostles (21.14). The marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper are separate events (19.7-9). The bride, the Lamb’s wife (21.9) and the Lamb’s book of life (v.29), should fill our hearts with wonder and worship. The blood is the centre of heaven’s throne (5.6) and the theme of heaven’s song (v.9). The worth and the work of the Lamb will provide us with an inexhaustible subject for eternal praise in heaven.

Top of Page

Possessing Our Possessions in Christ

by David N. Martin (Weymouth)

"Be strong and of good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them." Joshua 1.6.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love;" Eph. 1 verses 3 & 4.

Here we have two distinct happenings, but in type teaching they are complementary (i.e. Israel and the church, the Eody of Christ). Two things present themselves, Israel in the wilderness compared to the Christian experience, in Ephes-ians we are told ALL believers are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. The study of the book of Joshua is a rewarding experience comparing Joshua leading Israel out of the wilderness and into Canaan, possessing the promised land, with believers possessing their inheritance in Christ. From Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, we can see how easily we miss our blessings through misinterpretation. In the first Corinthian epistle Paul tells them that these old Testament types or ensamples (or figures) WERE written for our admonition (to take heed to). If we consider Canaan as heaven and the crossing of Jordan as passing through death as many of our hymns infer we shall miss many blessings intended for us. If we recognise Israel as a true type of the Lord’s people we shall recognize that Israel had to fight to overcome the enemy after entering the promised land. If Jordan typifies death, and Canaan heaven, the whole of the believers life corresponds to the wilderness, tramped by the Israelites, not an exactly inspiring picture we as believers might as well all desire old age, or death bed conversions, so as to cut short as possible the wilderness journey. The following three reasons are why I believe Canaan cannot be typified as heaven. Canaan was a place of conquest through conflict. There was little fighting in the wilderness, the Sinai peninsula journey was the way chosen by God, because immediately after being delivered from Egypt, to have taken the most direct route would have meant the Israelites entering Philistine, and possibly having to engage in a battle with the Philistines, a requirement that God knew they were in no fit condition to undertake so soon after their period of slave labour there. This event too has its typical teaching, in that, recent converts to Christ are in no fit condition to battle against Satan until they have had time and experience to arm themselves to be effective for Christ. As soon as Canaan was entered by the Israelites they have to draw the sword against the Amorites, Perrizites, Hivites and Gergashites and destroy them and drive them out.
It was possible for Israel to be ejected from Canaan, and eventually they were ejected as we know. Does this typify to your mind a heaven of uninterrupted bliss of those who are justified in Christ? Hebrews four, verses eight to eleven and verse three make clear that Canaan pictures the believers present position. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak of another day. So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labours as God did from His, let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. Verse three "We which have believed DO enter into that rest."


Travelling ceases and becomes a place of settled dwelling, instead of the inhospitable wilderness, there is now a home, where they may sit down, everyman under his vine and under his fig tree. Tired hands and blistered feet and weary bodies, now find fertile plains and valleys. "And it shall be to give thee great and goodly cities which thou buildest not and houses full of good things which thou fillest not, and wells, vineyards, olive trees that when ye shall have eaten thou shalt be full!


"I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land, unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey, unto the place of the Canaanites" (Ex. 3.8). "For the land whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, but the land, whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valley and drinketh water of the rain of heaven; a land which the Lord thy God careth for, the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year." Yes, Canaan was the Place of Jiounty.


"When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many
nations before thee, seven nations greater and mightier than thou." God called Israel not only to conflict but to an assured victory, what an encouragement this should be to all believers. Jordan typifies baptism not death and the deeper union of our hearts and minds with Christ, into the fulness of the gospel of Christ. Canaan is that breadth, length, depth and height of spiritual life in which we really possess our possessions in Christ. The Christian life is no more intended to be a wilderness tramp than, a wedding is time for sackcloth and ashes. Spurgeon said :—"There is a point of grace as high above the normal Christian, as the normal Christian is above the world! This experience has been given various terms ‘The higher life,’ ‘The rest of faith,’ ‘The life more abundant.’ Pictorially presented to us by the Holy Spirit is that life in heavenly places, which is the believers present privilege in Christ. Resting, Abounding, Triumphing is our rich inheritance in Christ, and ours in actual experience now.

In Joshua, Israel entered and possessed their earthly inheritance given to Abraham. In Ephesians The Church enters and possesses the heavenly inheritance given in Christ. Five times in Ephesians the expression ‘the heavenlies’ occurs. Firstly, both were the predestined inheritance of a chosen people. Israel:—chosen in Abram. (Gen. 13.14). The Church:—chosen in Christ (Eph. 1.4). Secondly, both were opened by a divinely ordained leader. Israel:—By Joshua, the son of Nun (Josh. 1.6). The Church :—By the Lord Jesus, the Son of God (Eph. 1 18-22). Thirdly, both were a gift of grace, received by faith. Israel through Joshua (Josh. 1. 1,2). The Church through the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2. 5-8). Fourthly, both were a sphere of divine revelation. Israel:—(Josh. 4. 24). The Church :—(Eph. 3. 8-10). Fifthly, both were a scene of conflict before it could be accomplished. In Canaan were the giant sons of Anak and cities walled up to heaven, seven nations greater and mightier than Israel, exceedingly evil nations that had to be dispossessed and destroyed. In the ‘heavenlies’ are the principalities and powers, rulers of darkness of this world, against which we wrestle. How necessary then is the whole armour of God without which we cannot hope to stand. The secret source is the Lord Jesus in whom is the fountain of the Spirit of Life. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, but not until we appropriate them unto ourselves can the fulness of the Spirit become effective.

My heart is resting, O my God,
I will give thanks and sing
My heart is at the secret source,
Of every precious thing
I thirst for springs of heavenly life,
And here all day they rise
I seek the treasure of thy love
And close at hand it lies.

All things are yours . . . and ye are Christs. (1 Cor. 3, verses 21 & 23). The story is told of a father who moved his family to a splendid new home. The accommodation and luxury were so much better than their former dwelling, that it was almost impossible to believe it was true. The youngest son ran from room to room, looking at everything in surprise and amazement, and with childish glee asking "Is this ours DAD? — IS THIS OURS?" He would inquire as his amazement grew to sheer wonder. The boy did not say ‘yours’ and his father was in no way offended by the young lad’s liberty in assuming what he claimed to be his own. The youngster’s eyes revealed a confidence in the things that had been provided for him, bringing satisfaction to his father’s heart. The same surprise and possessiveness should rejoice the believers’ heart, for they are members of the heavenly family and can rightfully count all Christ’s riches as their own. We will realise this fully when we are removed from the lowly conditions of present circumstances and enter into the infinite blessings of things to come. When the glories of heaven burst upon their view, they will not stand at a distance saying, "O God these are thine" rather they will leap forward and examine every provision in those longed for mansions, exclaiming, "Father these are OURS!" The believer will be overwhelmed because of all the divine riches that are his.

Why do we live now as paupers in doubt, apathy and fear, when we are now spiritual millionaires. A tent or a cottage, why should I care, They are building a palace for each one over there. Though exiled from home, yet still I may sing All glory to God, I’m a child of The King.
—J. Buell.

Whatever may be said for man’s physical connection with the brutes and the evidence is fragmentary, conflicting, and capable of different explanation,* the doctrine of evolution being, as Lord Kelvin said in one of his last addresses, an "unproved hypothesis in the laboratories of science,", the gulf on the moral and spiritual plane is still greater, or as Huxley confessed, "practically infinite," so that the hypothesis is certainly a blind alley as far as man’s moral relation to God is concerned.
On the other hand, the Scriptural doctrine of Creation accounts for the spiritual nature of man and meets all his spiritual necessities. "It gives him an object of adoration, love and confidence. It reveals the Being, on whom his indestructible sense of responsibility terminates. The truth of this doctrine therefore rests not only upon the authority of the Scriptures, but on the very constitution of our nature."!
We will consider then what this constitution is,
1. As regards man’s creation "in the image of God."
2. As to the nature of his being, whether simple or complex.
3. As to whether man is "naturally immortal."
*E.g., L. Berg, the Russian writer in his Nomogenesis, as quoted by Rendle Short, shews that likeness even in deep seated characters is due to ‘convergence’ not to descent, as in such totally unrelated forms as the fish, the porpoise and the extinct Icthyo-saurus. So that likeness of structure becomes worthless as an argument for descent. Professor Osborne, a great evolutionist, blames Hackel somewhat belatedly for ignoring the profound cleft between the ape and man.
Charles Hodge—the well-known theologian of Princeton, U.S.A. (floruit 1797—1878).

Top of Page

The Doctrine of Man


by the late William Hoste


Man’s creation was the climax of God’s creative work. How puny are man’s theories beside the majestic words of God, "Let us make man in Our image after Our likeness"! Who could have conceived such an origin? But who can deny it to be more worthy of man than evolution by chance modifications from the anthropoids? And yet so great is man’s innate pride and hostility to God that he would prefer to have risen from the apes, than fallen from God. The characteristic sympton of anaesthetic leprosy is its insensibility. It cannot feel the pain of its death, so man refuses to admit the shame of his fallen state, and calls it ‘evolution.’
What then is the difference between ‘image’ and likeness?’ It cannot be radical, for in v. 27, ‘likewise’ is left out —"so God created man (the adam) in His own image," but in chap. 5.2, it is likeness not image, "in the likeness of God created He him." The words seem to represent two sides of the Divine similitude. Image (Heb. tzelem —shadow) is used of graven images and may express the thought that in making man, God has in a sense revealed Himself to His creation— man being between God and the lower creatures, a shadow of God to them, as a shadow reveals the substance however imperfectly; likeness (d’mooth) may emphasize the similarity of man to God in his potentialities. The perfect image and likeness are alone seen in the Man Christ Jesus.
In what then does the image or likeness consist? Not in any bodily semblance, for "God is Spirit;" nor in sovereignty over creation, for this was added as something beyond (v.26); nor in any fancied analogy between the Trinity in Unity of the Godhead and man’s tripartite nature for that is quite superficial. Nor can it be in moral excellence, for it is attributed to man subsequent to the fall (see Gen. 9.6; James 3.9). The true answer seems to be in man’s mysterious personality. He is a true centre of moral freedom. Therein consists his greatness and his responsibility. God has created man with capacities and potentialities akin to His own, with a moral power of free choice and of response to His love and thoughts. So far man is God-like. Fallen man would fain hide behind ‘heredity;’ he talks of determinism,* but however much he may thus seek to deny his own responsibility to God, he would with difficulty accept such a theory from his fellowman, as an excuse for wrong done to himself.

*The doctrine that the will is not free, but is invincibly and inevitably determined by motives (Webster).


Clearly man is more than body. The body was formed first and then God breathed into it the breath (n’shah-mah) of life, "and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2.7). The last expression "nephesh khay-yah," it is true, is also applied to animals (e.g., chap. 1.2; 2.19, etc.) but not as the result of God’s inbreathing. Animals are souls, but of a vastly different order to man. Peter says that "eight souls were saved by water," meaning human persons, and counts as negligible the scores of animals, also saved in the ark (1 Pet. 3.20). The word used here for breath seems only properly used of God and human beings (cf. Job 4.9; 32.8; 33.4). In Deut. 20.16 the Israelites were enjoined to spare of the Canaanites "nothing that breathed" and in the next verse the nations to be exterminated are enumerated. This is carried out in Jos. 10.40 and 11.11, but in v. 14 it is said that "they kept the cattle a prey for themselves," so that "the breath of life" represents a spiritual attribute that man alone possesses. How could moral and spiritual capacities be evolved from the brutes, who have no trace of them? The spirit of man (ruach), and the soul (nephesh), are constantly referred to throughout the Scriptures. Are they merely names for the same thing? If so, man would be dualistic in his constitution. But 1 Thess. 5.23 represents them as distinct, "and the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (that is the believers addressed as persons) and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes. 5.23). Spirit and soul though distinct are never separated but together form the spiritual side of man’s constitution which is sometimes described as a whole, as spirit, sometimes as soul. In Heb. 4.12 the supreme proof of the power of the Word of God, is that it is able to "divide between soul and spirit;" but this is clearly not in the sense of separation, but of penetration.

This has an important bearing on the Incarnation of our Lord. A body is not a man. To teach that Jesus Christ was merely a Divine Person dwelling in a human body is to deny the Incarnation. To be truly man the Lord must possess all that is proper to man, human spirit and soul, as well as body. Our Lord not only spoke of His body, but of His ‘soul being exceedingly sorrowful’ and of ‘committing His spirit to his Father.’ His Divine personality was connected with His whole humanity, as well as deity. He was not only very God of very God, but truly man, the firstborn of the Virgin, conceived in her of the Holy Ghost, thus only could He be the Kinsman-seed of the woman, of Abraham and of David, and become Redeemer, Heir and King. The words "The Word became flesh"* mean much more than that He took a body: He entered into manhood.

There is nothing essentially evil about matter as the gnostics and others have taught, and the spirit finds a congenial home in the body and will exist for ever in a spiritual body, which is not a body made of spirit, but a body of flesh and bones, under the perfect control of the spirit. On the other hand the spirit is not dependent on the body for conscious existence. It can and does exist apart from the body. We read e.g. of "the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12.23), and Paul speaks of departing to be with Christ, which is far better" (Phil. 1.23). This subject will be dealt with more fully later, so one further proof may suffice here. Paul tells us that on a certain occasion he was caught up into Paradise. He was perfectly conscious of where he was, of what was happening, and of hearing words which he knew he must not utter, and yet twice he affirms that he could not tell whether he was in the body, or out of the body, which shews that the Apostle saw no difficulty in conscious existence apart from the body (see 2 Cor. 12.2). Man is destined to live for ever in a body, which he will reassume at his resurrection, but he can and does consciously exist, either with Christ or in Hades, between death and resurrection. In a figurative sense he sleeps as to his body, but he lives unto God.

If it be asked what the difference is between spirit and soul; the spirit is the higher part of man’s spiritual nature, attuned to God, by which he worships Him and "knows the things of a man" (John 4.24; 1 Cor. 2.11); the soul is the lower part, by which he is attuned to the bodily senses, and loves, hates, fears, etc.

*Flesh has different meanings in Scripture. Sometimes it means the body; sometimes the evil principle of sin in man; sometimes man as a whole e.g., "All flesh (all men) shall see it together" (Is. 40.5).


The whole trend of Scripture, as generally understood, is in favour of this, and the universal conscience of humanity, with few exceptions has acquiesced. Could one ‘created in the image of God’ be destined for ephemeral existence of the brutes? Does not the description in Gen. 2 of man’s formation lend itself rather to the belief that man was created to share in the eternal existence of his Maker? The words in I Tim. 6.16 "Who (God) only hath immortality" are quoted to prove the contrary, but really have nothing to do with the question, unless it be contended that God cannot or does not ever confer the quality on any of His creatures, angels or men; but I know of no one who holds such a view. The words can only mean ‘hath it intrinsically—that is in Himself.’ Besides to bring in here the question of immortality, is to confuse it, as those who teach, what they call ‘Conditional Immortality,’ invariably do, with never-ending existence.
Immortality or immunity from death could not have been bestowed on man as part of his original constitution, as God’s warning to Adam proved "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Such words shew that he was capable of death. Man therefore did not lose what he never had, but was he therefore not created by his original constitution to exist for ever? The answer must depend on the Scriptural meaning of ‘death.’ If death means ‘extinction of being,’ then ‘to die’ and ‘to continue to exist for ever’ are incompatible terms. But I think it can be shown from the Scriptures that death, as applied to man, is NEVER equivalent to ‘extinction of being.’ Without anticipating our next chapter on the Fall, it may be permitted to remark that Adam certainly did die in a very real sense when he fell, otherwise Satan’s words, "Thou shalt not surely die," giving the lie to God, were true. It is true that in the only other place* in the N.T. beside 1 Tim. 6.16 where immortality is mentioned, namely 1 Cor. 15.53,54, it is the body of the believer which is in question, as putting on immortality, but the fact that God Himself has it, is sufficient proof that it can be predicated of his spiritual side too. Eternal life includes immortality and transcends it, for it is not only immunity from death, but life in harmony with the will of God, and limitless capacity to know and to enjoy Him for ever.

*There is another word aphtharsia, meaning incorruptibility which is translated ‘immortality’ twice in A.V. namely Rom. 2.7 and 2 Tim. 1.10, which "Conditionalists" are fond of quoting, but which naturally do not touch the question at issue.

Top of Page

2nd Epistle to the Thessalonians

by J. Heading (Aberystwyth)


The Bible holds out great hope for all believers, but it also forecasts that terrible days will come to pass on the earth. The mass of men and their leaders are indifferent to the fact that God has spoken; instead they regard the future as rosy when present national and international difficulties are overcome. They anticipate "Peace and safety," (1 Thess. 5.3), believing that the beating of "swords into plowshares" and with nations not learning war any more, (Isa. 2.4), can be attained by mutual co-operation, regardless of the Lord’s words concerning wars that must come before the end, (Matt. 24. 6-7). Even young believers may feel that these prophetical matters are none of their concern, yet Paul had taught this immediately to the new converts in Thessalonica when he was with them, (2 Thess. 2.5). In fact, the Thessalonians had suffered so much persecution that Christ’s coming for them was the believer’s hope—it was expected, and would take place "in the twinkling of an eye," (1 Cor. 15.52), and His coming with them would be for the wrath upon unbelievers—unexpected "as a thief in the night," (1 Thess. 5.2).

In writing to them, Paul dealt with the following subjects : Chapter 1 : Comfort in persecution (the end of men in unbelief—in the plural). Chapter 2.1-12 : Correction in doctrine (the end of the man of sin—in the singular). Chapter 2.13-17 : Callinby the Go. Chapter 3 : Consequences of the Gospel (one particular weakness to be overcome). They should have known the truth already ; after their conversion, Paul had taught it to them, and had written to them about it in his first Epistle. Today, alas, Paul’s teaching is so often altered, challenged or ignored, and the same took place then. The apostle corrected them lovingly, and the same is needed today.

To understand the background of the prophetical future, we must note the four great men/systems that will be dominant in that future day. (i) The political beast, described as the fourth beast in Daniel 7.7-8, 19-26; Revelation 13.1-10. This stands both for the leader and his kingdom. This fourth beast was the Roman empire when the Lord was here, to be revived in a new way after the church has been taken, (ii) The false prophet, the anti-Christ, the man of sin, being the second beast in Revelation 13.11-17. This is the religious leader described in 2 Thessalonians 2, having his headquarters in Jerusalem, (iii) Mystery Babylon the great, (Rev. 17.1-6), representing apostate religion at its climax, having spread throughout the world with its headquarters in Rome. Note that (i) will destroy (iii), Rev. 17.16-18, but the Lord will then destroy (i) and (ii), Rev. 19.20, at the time when (i) will seek to fight against the Lamb, (Rev. 14; 19. 19). (iv) "The king of the north," (Dan. 11.40), being part of the rest of the nations not under the control of the first beast (i), who shall come up to "the glorious land" for the final battle of Armageddon.

Chapter 2 of Second Thessalonians deals more particularly with (ii), the man of sin, or son of perdition. Throughout our study, we should contrast the coming and character of Christ with similar features in the anti-Christ.


VERSE 1. The meaning of the verse "we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him" must properly be understood from the context. (Here we have omitted the second "by," appearing in italics in the A.V.). The R.V., instead of the word "by," gives "touching" in the text and "in behalf of" in the margin, thereby altering the thought completely. For the R.V. suggests that this "coming" and "gathering" are what Paul deals with in chapter 2, whereas such is not the case. To anyone who believes that the coming of the Lord for the church is the same event as His coming in glory to judge the world, the R.V. translation is excellent. Otherwise, this translation does not make sense. Since the intention of the apostle is to show that the church cannot possibly pass
through the events known as the "day of the Lord," then we cannot accept the R.V. translation. To make sense, we must retain the A.V. "by," almost in the sense of "for, for the sake of, by reason of." In other words, because of the blessed hope before us, we are not to have any fear about the coming day of the Lord which Paul is now about to explain; the "coming" and the "gathering" do not form part of the following verses. The whole chapter is to take away confusion from the minds of the Thessalonians, but many theological expositors today expound prophecy as if the Thessalonian confusion was correct!
The "coming" as the hope of the believer is what the Lord referred to when He said, "I will come again," (John 14.3). Originally, the Thessalonians had known all about it; Paul had stressed it when he wrote "to wait for his Son from heaven . . . which delivered us from the wrath to come," namely the judgments abroad at the day of the Lord. In our verse, the "coming" is the parousia, meaning presence, being alongside, and the means whereby He is with us and we with Him at His coming. "Our gathering together unto him" refers back to the truth Paul had already expounded, when we "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," (1 Thess. 4.17), so that where He is, there we may be also (John 14.3). (There are other gatherings, of course, but they are not the point here. The elect of Israel will be gathered, Matt. 24.31; Ezek. 11.17; Zech. 10.10 there will be a gathering for judgment, Ezek. 22. 18-22; Matt. 13. 40-41; 25.32; and there is the gathering of the local assembly now, Matt. 18.20; Acts 12.12; 14.27; 20.6).

VERSE 2. Such a hope comforts and instructs the heart in times of trial, tragedy and persecution. Yet there are false methods whereby spurious teachers would incidiously introduce evil teaching to remove this hope as a practical reality. The methods are described as by "spirit, word, letter."
(1) "By spirit," namely by the evil one working in the spirits of men. Can there be the danger of receiving "another spirit that is, of a different kind), which ye have not received" at conversion? (2 Cor. 11.4). This is rampant in the outside world of unbelief; "the spirit . . . now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2.2; in the future, some shall
give heed "to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4.1); we are exhorted not to believe "every spirit . . . because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4.1-3); in the future, spirits of devils are described as "three unclean spirits like frogs" (Rev. 16.13-14). Truly, only the Holy Spirit leads into all truth.
(2) "By word," namely evil deception by preaching and teaching, this being the usual method in these days. In the N.T., how often men challenged the apostle Paul by attacking his teaching. There were those who issued slanderous reports, claiming that Paul taught "Let us do evil, that good may come," (Rom. 3.8). The apostle knew that some of the Ephesian elders would speak "perverse things" (Acts 20.30). There were those who "would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1.7), always ready "with every wind of doctrine" to lie in wait to deceive, (Eph. 4.14). Here was the method of "philosophy and vain deceit" (Col. 2.8), even claiming that the resurrection was past already (2 Tim. 2.18).
(3)  "By letter" as from Paul, namely a forged epistle, written after the first Epistle had been received. This method developed more extensively later, when the various gospels, acts, epistles and apocalypses were written usually deceitfully, now collected into the so-called Apocryphal New Testament. Today, there are false Bibles with false translations and various additions made to look authoritative. Our only certainty is "Thus it is written," referring to the O.T. when appearing in the N.T. Note that the word "epistle" (or "letter," the same Greek word) is used four times in 2 Thessalonians : "letter as from us," (2 Thess. 2.2); "our epistle" (2.15); "this epistle" (3.14); "every epistle" (3.17).
The contention that "the day of the Lord" (not "of Christ") is "at hand" is hardly strong enough. The contention of the false teachers and their false epistle was that the day of the Lord was actually present. Namely, they were asserting, the persection of the church corresponded to the terrible times of the day of the Lord. The "day of the Lord" is seen in the O.T. as a day of terror and judgment; see Isaiah 13.9; Joel 2.1-2. Hence Paul sought to show that this false contention could not possibly be so.

VERSE 3. Hence Paul exhorts the Thessalonians not to be deceived about prophetic matters. The O.T. and N.T. are full of this danger, motivated by Satan against the truth. The Lord commenced His prophetic discourse by saying, "Take heed that no man deceive you," (Matt. 24.4); many would come saying "I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (v. 5), and their activity would be such "that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (v. 24). Paul contemplated those who handled the Word of God deceitfully, and there were plenty of "false apostles, deceitful workers," (2 Cor. 4.2; 11.13). In his last letter, he warned that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3.13), and John similarly warned, "many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 7). This is the epitaph of the false prophet (the anti-Christ), "miracles . . . with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast" (Rev. 19.20). How needful today for believers to base their doctrine upon a sure foundation!

The reason why these false teachers were wrong about the day of the Lord being present was that certain events had to take place first, and these events could not occur while the church was on earth. Both the apostasy and the man of sin must first be manifested, but this cannot be so while the Holy Spirit restrains during the church age. Note that Paul was not referring to a general apostasy that has taken place over the centuries (for example, those that know the truth in the mind but not the heart, and then turn their backs upon it, (Rom. 1. 19-21). The translation "a falling away" should strictly read "the falling away" or "the apostasy." Since it will be "the" apostasy, this will be worse than anything before. It will be perpetrated by "that man of sin," who will introduce religious rebellion, making men worship the first political beast, who will bring fire down from heaven, deceiving men by his miracles, giving life to the image of the beast, and having the mark of the beast placed upon men, (Rev. 13, 11-17). (Similarly, we should point out that "great tribulation" in Revelation 7. 14 should read "the great tribulation," being something unique in the future with nothing like it in the past, spoken of in the O.T. as "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (Dan. 12.1).

This "man of sin" or "the son of perdition" will be characterised by blasphemous sin, seeking to establish himself like Satan had done previously when as Lucifer he wanted to be like the Most High (Isa. 14.12-15). As the "son of perdition," he is destined for eternal destruction. As "son of," he will be characterised by activity leading to destruction. This word comes in the N.T. some 16 times with this meaning, such as "the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2 Pet. 3.7). The only other time that the actual name "son of perdition" appears is in the Lord’s prayer (John 17.12), referring to Judas. Some have even suggested therefore that the second beast, the man of sin, will be Judas raised, in the same way as the first political beast will be Nero raised (this superstition was abroad in Rome after his death). But these suggestions lack scriptural authority.

Other names that are given in Scripture to this man of sin are: the wilful king (Dan. 11.36); the idol shepherd, or the worthless shepherd (Zech. 11.17 R.V.); the false Messiah as "another shall come in his own name" (John 5.43); "that Wicked," (2 Thess. 2.8); "the antichrist" (with the definite article), (1 John 2.22); "the false prophet" (Rev. 16.13; 19.20).

Top of Page

Some Assembly Features and Functions

by B. Currie (Belfast)


The day in which we live is characterised by lawlessness. We only have to think of the behaviour of some children at school, crowds at football matches, trades union picket lines, protest marches, etc., etc., and we soon realise that where people gather collectively lawlessness is apparent.
It is undeniable that those who profess salvation often become tainted with the spirit of the age and thus lawlessness may characterise assembly gatherings. To counteract this it is imperative that in each local assembly there should be a strong, scriptural government.


The thought of a central body or committee of men ruling over a number of churches is quite foreign to the Scriptures. The assemblies in the New Testament did not have their
headquarters at Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch or any other place, rather each was responsible for its own government. Thus we read of many bishops and deacons in one church, not one bishop over many churches (Phil 1.1).
The word translated ‘bishop’ in Phil. 1.1, 1 Tim. 3.2, Tit. 1.7, etc. is, in Acts 20.28 rendered ‘Overseers,’ and since these same people are called Elders in Acts 20.17 it is safe to conclude that bishops, overseers and elders in the New Testament are the same people viewed from different aspects. This is substantiated by comparing Titus 1.5 and 1.7 where the elder and the bishop are the same person, also 1 Pet. 5 where in v.2 the elder of v.l is an overseer. When we are thinking of the man as a bishop or everseer his work is in view whereas the term elder reminds us of his spiritual maturity.
In ecclesiastical circles a lot is built on the word "office" in 1 Tim 2.1,10,13. This word occurs five times in the A.V. viz. the three above, Rom. 11.13 and 12.4 In the former three references the word is there by insertion without any authority from the original, while the latter two references ought to be translated ‘business’ and ‘ministry’ respectively. The fact is therefore, that the word ‘office’ does not appear in the N.T. with any official connotation.
There is a difference between the bishops and the deacons. The former guide and shepherd, while the latter serve, the saints. The word deacon has a very wide interpretation and simply means service. Gospel preaching, ministering the Word, Sunday School teaching or administering the Finance of the assembly are all examples of deacon work. If 1 Tim. 3.18-13 were read in JND’s translation all thoughts of ecclesiastical office will be dispelled.


Acts 20.28 leaves us in no doubt as to the fitting and appointment of overseers ; "the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." This is confirmed in 1 Cor. 12.28 where governments are listed among the gifts set in the church by God. Since it is God’s prerogative to make these appointments, ecclesiastical ordination, voting men into official office or training such in a Bible College must all be entirely forgotten, since they attempt to take sovereignity out of God’s hand. The responsibility of distributing gift remains firmly in the Hand of the Giver.
In this matter, as in all others, the Scriptures are perfectly balanced. While it is irrefutably true that God distributes gift there is our responsibility to utilize what God has given. Thus we read Paul’s words to Timothy "neglect not the gift that is in thee" (1 Tim. 4.14), "stir up the gift of God, which is in thee" (2 Tim. 1.6) and with special regard to the overseer it is said "If a man desire (stretch out after) the office of a bishop, he desireth (craves with longing) a good work." (1 Tim. 3.1).
Thus the fitting for government, as with all other gifts, has the two aspects which blend and harmonise.
(a) God fits in His Sovereignity.
(b) Man functions in his responsibility.


The features which are to be expected of men who govern the people of God are mainly found in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1. The word ‘must’ in 1 Tim. 3.2 and Titus 1.7 should be underlined. The features we are about to consider are not optional but obligatory. It would be wrong for those of us who are not overseers to use these verses as a ‘stick’ with which to beat the men who seek to do the work, but it would be good if those who are ‘on the oversight’ measured themselves with these verses in the presence of God and if found wanting, honourably withdraw from a position for which God has not given the necessary equipment. 1 Tim. 3.2-7 may be considered as the overseers :

(i) Personal life and its demands (v. 2-3).
(ii) Home Life and its discipline (v. 4-5).
(iii) Spiritual Life and its development (v. 6).
(iv) Public Life and its dignity (v. 7).

(i) Personal Life and its demands (v. 2-3)

These demands are presented positively in v. 2 and negatively in v. 3. ‘blameless—without reproach (RV), irreproachable (JND): this is a different word to that used in v. 10 although the word used in v. 10 is employed in Tit. 1.6,7, for an elder. The word in v.2 means not open to censure, i.e. not sinless, but nothing in the life that could be laid hold of to being censure.


‘the husband of one wife’—If the Spirit of God was here teaching that an overseer must be married surely He would have said "the husband of a wife." The clause rather teaches that a man who desires (he work of a Bishop must not be or have been a polygamist. If he was otherwise the first qualification of being blameless could not be fulfilled either.

‘vigilant’—temperate (RV), sober (JND); also used of the women in v. 11, he word literally means free from intoxicants. This means the overseer should be wide awake, in full control of his spiritual faculties, able to detect the first steps of departure and any undercurrents in the assembly.

‘sober’—soberminded (RV), discreet (JND); of a sound mind or self controlled.

‘of good behaviour’ — orderly (RV), decorous (JND); translated ‘modest’ in 2.9. "The opposite to this is roughness or uncouthness" (W.E.V.). The thought is seemly conduct.

‘given to hospitality’—hospitable (JND); The literal meaning is ‘loving strangers’ and is elsewhere only in Tit. 1.8 and 1 Pet. 4.9 as an adjective while the noun form is found in Rom. 12.13 and Heb. 13.2. The elders’ home will be open for all the saints and if a stranger comes he will learn practically how the elder fulfils this qualification.

‘apt to teach’—While this may not manifest itself in platform ability he will be a man who can impart to the saints clear scriptural guidance, either privately or in the assembly Bible Reading. A man who cannot teach the scriptures in his own assembly is not an overseer, since he "speaks" unto you the word of God" (Heb. 13.7, see also Tit. 1.9).

‘not given to wine’—no brawler (RV), not given to excesses from wine (JND); not simply fondness for alcohol, which ought not to be true of any believer, but the effects of alcohol i.e. anger, impulsiveness, brawling.

‘no striker’—While this does not prohibit corporal punishment for ones’ own children (perhaps a necessity at times to fulfil v. 4) the overseer is not one who is characterised by smiting. The meaning of the words becomes clearer when we remember the background of slavery, when a slave would be flogged for any, or sometimes no, reason.

‘not gready of filthy lucre’—omitted in the best texts.

‘patient’—gentle (RV), mild (JND); —translated ‘moderation’ in Phil 4.5 and means fair, forebearing, reasonable in contrast to one who is contentious.

‘not a brawler’—contentious (RV), not addicted to contention (JND); literally means a non-combatant,’ thus one who avoids strife. Only elsewhere in Titus 3.2.

‘not covetous’—’no lover of money (RV), not fond of money (JND); only elsewhere in Heb. 13.5, while the same idea occurs in 1 Pet. 5.2. The man who is fitted to govern will be among the flock, not allowing his business or the pursuit of overtime to take him away from the assembly gatherings and his pastoral responsibilities.

(ii) Home life and its discipline (v. 4-5)

The word ‘rule’ in v. 4 means to stand before and in 5.17 is used of the elders position before the assembly i.e. he is to exercise leadership in the home and in the assembly. If he cannot do the former he is unfitted for the latter. This does not imply a dictatorial, hard, rigorous authority, but he is to rule well, i.e. fairly, so as to have the respect and honour of his children and subsequently of the assembly.
In v. 5 Paul turns from the thought of ruling to that of caring. It is very suggestive to observe that the word translated "to take care of" is only found in Luke 10.34,35 in connection with the Good Samaritan’s care for the wounded man. The elder is to care similarly for the "church of God" a phrase which always has to do with the local assembly.

(iii) Spiritual Life and its development (v. 6)

The bishop is not to be a ‘novice’ which literally means newly planted. Therefore one who recently saved or received does not qualify. In the case of one who has been saved for some time but just freshly into the assembly, it is necessary to allow time to reveal how much error has been retained. Very often it is easier getting a saint out of a denomination than getting the denomination out of the saint.
It is not the age of the person that is in question so much as his spiritual maturity. One who is saved young in life and progressed in divine things may be younger than many in the assembly and yet be far more mature in spiritual development.
The recognition of a novice as a leader in the assembly may prove to be bad not only for the assembly but could also lead to his downfall. If he became puffed up he would be judged, just as the devil who was judged when he lifted himself up—see Ezek. 28.11-19.

(iv) Public life and its dignity (v. 7)

In this case it is not the ‘condemnation of the devil" (v.6), which has to do with pride, but the ‘snare of the devil.’ The brother aspiring to, or exercising overseership must always be on his guard lest the devil trap him by marring his testimony toward those without resulting in him being disqualified.


Top of Page

Hymns And Their Writers (11)

by Jack Strahan (Enniskillen)



Cecil Frances Alexander ranks with Fanny Crosby and Frances Ridley Havergal among the best known and best loved of women hymn writers.

Frances, the second daughter of Major John Humphreys, was born in Dublin in 1823. She spent most of her girlhood in Co. Wicklow and was 15 when the family moved to Milltown House, Strabane in Co. Tyrone. While still a young girl, she started to wnite little poems and hid them under the carpet. Her father on discovering and reading these early efforts endeavoured to encourage Frances in her vocation. Frances became a prolific hymn writer, over 400 hymns coming from her pen; and a poetess of no mean distinction. Her best known poem ‘The Burial of Moses’ exhibits great talent and was much admired by Tennyson. One of Frances’ last works was a popular version of the famous Irish hymn, The Breastplate of St. Patrick.’ The original of this ancient hymn dates back to the 5th century and is to be found in the Liber Hymnorum in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Frances’ version was written for St. Patrick’s Day 1889 and has been frequently sung on St. Patrick’s Days since then.

In 1850, Frances married Rev. William Alexander, rector of Termonamongan Parish, Aghyaran, Castlederg, Co. Tyrone. From Aghyaran, the Alexanders moved to Fahan in Co. Donegal and after spending five years there, they returned to Strabane and whilst there her husband was appointed Bishop of ‘Derry and Raphoe.

Frances or C.F.A. (as she signed herself) was beloved by all who knew her but particularly by children, the poor and the sick. She devoted herself to the care of the sick and the needy, and was tireless in her visitation of such among her husband’s parishioners. The old parish clerk referred to her as "the lady who went with comforts for the sick and sorrowful in all weathers when it was not fit for the likes of her to be out." Her husband wrote of her in his biography, "from one poor home to another, from one bed of sickness to another, from one sorrow to another, she went. Christ was ever with her, and in her, and all felt her influence." But she dearly loved children and it was as a writer for children that she excelled. Her poems and hymns are marked by a winsome simplicity which charms and instructs the mind of a little child. Just before her marriage, she published her ‘Hymns for Little Children’ and dedicated this collection to her god-sons. This group of Irish children had been experiencing great difficulty in memorising the Irish Church Catechism and the Apostles’ Creed; the words and phrases were difficult to understand and their labour had become dull and dreary. Frances, appreciating their difficulty, set herself to write simple verses to make the words of the Creed more understandable and meaningful. This hitherto boring subject then became full of interest. Frances’ simple hymn, "All things bright and beautiful’ was more instructive to the children than the words of the Creed, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Her hymn, Once in Royal David’s City" gave new meaning to the phrase "and in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary." When the boys came to the words, "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried," she got them to sing,

"There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains He had to bear;
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heav’n,
Saved by His precious blood.

There was no other good enough,
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n, and let us in.

Oh, dearly, dearly has He loved
And we must love Him too;
And trust in His redeeming blood,
And try His works to do."

Actually the words were penned by the bedside of a sick child who afterwards always spoke of it as ‘her hymn.’ This simple and lovable children’s hymn, so full of beautiful scriptural truth, was first published in 1848 under the heading, "Good Friday." Charles Gounod, the famous French composer, set this hymn to music and considered it the most perfect hymn in the English language. When Frances travelled from her home in Strabane to the walled city of Londonderry, she passed a little green hill just outside the city wal, and this reminded her of Calvary "the place of a skull," just outside the city wall of Jerusalem. It was there the Saviour was crucified; there He died to save us all. Never will we be able to comprehend the intensity of His suffering, but personal faith gladly acknowledges that the purpose was our salvation. Oh, the blessed sweetness of personal forgiveness, but may we never forget that the purchase of it meant the death of Christ and by that death, heaven’s door has been unlocked and opened wide! So now, through that open door, sin-cleansed souls may enter, with robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. Only Christ Himself could have paid such a mighty price for our redemption, for no man had the means to redeem his brother, and no angel could have taken our place. The cost was too high. But now we give thanks to God that sin’s price has been fully paid, that heaven’s throne has been fully satisfied1 and that our need has been fully met. The love of the Saviour led Him to give His all in sacrifice for us; that same love is now asking from us something in return.

Top of Page



Lift up your eyes ! John 4.35
The fields of men are burdened low with sin
Oh who will go these sheaves to gather in?
You who have known the saving grace of God
And in whose hearts His love is shed abroad
Lift up your eyes !

Lift up your hands !  Heb. 12.12
There is much toil for each of us to do
Are we to be among the willing few
Who labour hard and long and faithfully
To gain for God glory eternally ?
Lift up your hands !

Lift up your heads ! Luke 21.28
The time of your redemption draweth nigh
Suffer and serve with singleness of eye
Tears will give place to joy and groans to song
The coming of your Lord will not be long!
Lift up your heads !

Lift up your voice ! Rev. 5.9
Sing with the glorified redeemed in heaven
The song of those whose sins have been forgiven
"Worthy the Lamb that died for us" they cry
"Worthy the Lamb that lives" the saints reply
Lift up your voice!


Top of Page