July/August 1991

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by Erie G. Parmenter

by E. W. Rogers

by E. R Bower

by J. B. Hewitt

by T. Meekin

by A. D. Thropay

by W. J. M’Clure

by B. Avery

by T. Thompson


An Explanation of a Neglected Chapter — 1 Corinthians 7

by ERIC G. PARMENTER, Basingstoke

2 — If a wife leaves her husband is she free to re-marry?

The commandment of the Lord verses 10-11. The question of taking out a Bill of Divorcement is indicated and the apostle gives his answer. Regarding divorce Paul says "I command yet not I but the Lord" confirming that his command is in perfect accord with what the Lord taught when He was here (cf Matt 5 v 32, 19 v 6, 9: Mark 10 v 10-12, Luke 16 v 18.) "let not the wife depart from her husband" ie the wife is not to be unfaithful, under any circumstances to her marriage covenant, neither is she to depart from her husband under any pretence, "but, and if she depart let her remain unmarried." (verse 11) Paul is not countenancing such departure, but where it has already happened he is commanding the wife what she must do in that situation (a) Remain unmarried: (b) Be reconciled to her husband. Under no circumstance was she to divorce her husband, rather let her acknowledge her fault in leaving him, ask his forgiveness and confirm her willingness to live with him. It might be a humbling experience to own her mistake, yet she is to spare no effort to re-establish normal relations with the man who was still her husband, " and let not the husband put away his wife" the husband is not to divorce his wife, but receive her again in peace.

The Divided Home — verses 12 -16 When the call of God came in the gospel through Paul the preacher, one partner responded to the call and was saved, but the other partner would have nothing to do with the gospel and continued in idolatry. What now is the position of the believing husband or wife? In answering the question the apostle said "but to the rest speak I not the Lord" verse 12. Two questions arise from Paul’s statement:

  1. Who are referred to by "The rest?"
  2. What did the apostle mean when he said "speak I, not the Lord?"

"THE REST"  Paul is not here introducing the idea current in some quarters: Because the marriage took place before conversion, and now either the husband or the wife have become converted, that the marriage is null and void and they can separate and are free to divorce and re-marry.

The saying "marriages are made in heaven" is not a scriptural one and in no way refers to believers marriages only.

Genesis 2 proves unequivocally that marriage is a divine institution, inviolate, unalterable and fixed by God. It is not a temporary contract but a permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman until dissolved by death. It was ordained of God for mankind before the descriptive words "believers" and "unbelievers" were in force, and throughout scripture its permanency is binding upon all who enter upon it.

The last book of the Old Testament confirms what is stated in the first book. Malachi 2 v 14 speaks of marriage as a covenant: Verse 15 the prophet makes reference to the beginning — "and did not He make one?" ie one woman for the one man, then he plainly states — "for the Lord, the God of Israel hateth putting away".

The first book of the New Testament opens with the Lord’s own teaching and again when answering the Jews, said "have ye not read" and immediately quotes Gen 1 v 27: 2 v 24: Nowhere does scripture differentiate between the marriages of believers and unbelievers, God recognises both.

What then is the meaning of Paul’s words "but to the rest" The situation addressed by the apostle is one where the gospel has been received by the husband, whom he now refers to as "a brother", but has not been embraced by his wife (v 12) and vice versa in verse 13. It is to this situation the apostle refers where the unsaved partner is pleased to continue the marriage relationship the Christian husband is not to "put away" ie divorce his unsaved wife, and the Christian wife is not to "leave" her unsaved husband. Note the expressions "put away" and "leave" are the same.

The instructions given in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah do not apply nor is separation called for. Christianity requires no believers to turn away from the unbelieving partner and nowhere is it intended to overthrow the natural relationships of life.

SANCTIFIED  The apostle gives his reasons in verse 14 — "for the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife . . ." the word "for" points out the needlessness of separation and shows the disastrous consequences if the idea were entertained that the conversion of husband or wife makes the marriage void, if that were the case the children of the marriage would be unclean. The word sanctified has no reference here to moral or spiritual status, but in God’s sight the husband and wife are "one flesh" and by continuing in the marriage relationship — it is sanctified to them: The husband though an unbeliever is sanctified in the person of his wife for the lawful enjoyment of marital privileges. The proof of this is seen in the logical sequence "else were your children unclean" the point Paul is making is, that to leave the unconverted spouse would be tantamount to saying that the marriage was no longer valid, and this would expose the children to the stigma of being unclean or illegitimate, but that is not the case, "now are they holy" ie your children are legitimate offspring, God reckons them being born in lawful wedlock.

Speak I not the Lord

What is the meaning of Paul’s expression? The idea that the apostle is drawing an antithesis between what is inspired and what is not is altogether without foundation.

The apostle is indicating that whereas the Lord in His ministry had given clear commandment on the subject of divorce, He had said nothing in His teaching which took in the wider issues raised by the Corinthians. Paul would now give his judgment and under divine inspiration answer the questions raised and so resolve their particular problem and such is preserved in the New Testament for the guidance of believers throughout the Church age.

"But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart, a brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases" verse 15. This verse has been used to teach that desertion is a valid ground for divorce, upon examination we will find out the apostle’s intention.

Desertion is nowhere in the New Testament given as ground for divorce. In the preceding verses Paul has gone to some lengths to make plain that neither divorce or separation is required when a husband or wife is converted — "but if the unbelieving depart . . ." ie if because you have become a Christian your spouse has deliberately left and separated from you; the situation must be accepted, committing the matter and all the ensuing circumstances to God, then wait and see if God will work in his heart that he might return.

NOT UNDER BONDAGE  "A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases" this has been construed to mean that the deserted partner is free to re-marry, the former marriage tie having been automatically severed by the act of desertion. If that were true Paul would be guilty of contradicting what he had said earlier. The apostle’s meaning is, that the believing wife is not to have recourse to litigation in order to compel her husband to return, neither in her anxiety should she use every effort to get him back. For if he was forced back, "what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" There is no guarantee that would be the case "but God hath called us in peace". Personal circumstances in these situations may be difficult but continuing in an atmosphere of peace and leaving the whole matter to God is Paul’s judgment for the believers in such cases.

In verse 17 an additional reason is given why divorce or separation should not be sought after " as God hath distributed to every one, so let him walk". Where conversion has taken place, either with the wife or husband although a radical change has taken place spiritually, no steps are to be taken to alter the marriage relationship, "and so ordain I in all the churches", confirming that Paul’s judgment in these matters carries apostolic authority not only in Corinth but such teaching was obligatory in all the Churches and reaches down to the present time.

— (to be continued)

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Eternal Punishment — Part 3

Objections, however, have been raised by those who believe not, and it may serve a useful end to name at least three of them in order that the reader may be forewarned thereof, and thus be forearmed there against.


It has been alleged that this doctrine lacks valid authoritative support. Now if the Bible be rejected as God’s word, then clearly, this doctrine does lack support, for apart from His revelation in the matter nothing reliable or authoritative is known. But once the Bible is accepted as valid then abundant support is found therein.

Not only did the Lord Jesus teach it as in Mark 9.; Luke 16.; John 5., etc., but Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude all refer to it. Paul speaks of "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" and like phrases.

Peter speaks of the day of the Lord and man’s liability to perish, though God’s wish is that he should not. James speaks of the "fire of Gehenna." Jude speaks of "the judgment of the great day." John speaks of the "lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone."

The anonymous author of the Hebrews epistle speaks of "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."


It has been alleged that eternal punishment is not commensurate with temporal sin: that sin committed during the brief span of man’s life cannot merit eternal punishment. But this objection is invalid because it pre-supposes a right apprehension of the gravity of sin which God alone can estimate.

A crime against an infinite Person is an infinite offence meriting an infinite punishment.

To slap one’s own child in the face would hardly call forth anyone’s comment: to do the same thing to another person’s child would be a more serious affair, to do the same thing to a policeman would be still more serious; whilst to do the same thing to the King would be a grave insult calling forth severe punishment. The dignity of the person gives gravity to the crime.

Furthermore, in nature one may sin which, in its performance, takes but a small fraction of time, but in its consequences lasts for, it may be, a whole life-time. None argue against this: It is a hard indisputable fact; it is a law of the God of Nature.

Besides which, who is the creature, the thing formed, that he should say to the Creator, the One who formed him, What doest thou? in the matter of the duration of punishment as in other matters.

Added to which, it may be observed that there are degrees of punishment. Not all suffer alike during eternity. He who knows the privileges, circumstances, environment, upbringing, etc., of the individual, knows rightly how to apportion punishment.

Lastly, it may be remarked that since man is an eternally existent being (his birth being the commencement of eternal existence) it follows as a necessary issue that nothing but eternal punishment can possibly be for the one who fails to avail himself of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. No neutral position is possible; it is either salvation or wrath. "Believers" will accept unquestioningly God’s utterances.


It has been alleged that this doctrine is incompatible with a God of Love. But to this we may reply, that God is both Light and Love concurrently; and He has not lavished His love on man irrespective of righteousness but consistently therewith. This enables God righteously to accept the believing sinner, and the knowledge of this gives the sinner rest. Had God not satisfied His righteous claims, but dispensed mercy regardless thereof, it might ever be held as a contingency that could occur, that justice would put in a claim despite mercy, and force the issue against the believer. But such a possibility is not existent, for justice has been met, whilst mercy can flow consistently therewith.

God is righteous as well as merciful, and the one who will not have love and mercy must have the execution of judgment without mercy.

What would one think of a monarch who, through kindness, failed to deal punitively with rebels in his realm? or a father who, loving his children, permitted them to do as they liked all unchecked? And is God below this standard? Will He allow His law to be despised, His word to be condemned, and His rule to be ignored, without rising up to Judge the offenders?

God has gratuitously provided a way of escape and it is for all to avail themselves of it on the simplest condition, i.e., faith. How then shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?


We should now mention those things taught by false teachers, which altogether lack Biblical support.


Those who teach this error cite such passages as 2 Thess. 1.9, "eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord" and again Matt. 10.28, "Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell," assuming the word "destruction" means annihilation. But in neither case is this so, as an examination of their use in the New Testament will clearly show.

The word in 2 Thess. 1.9 means "disaster or ruin" and the word in Matt. 10.28 translated "destroy" means "spoil," "mar" or "to render unfit for its original purpose," as a broken cup is rendered unfit for its original purpose of containing liquid. So the man who is "lost" (as this word is also translated) is rendered totally unfit for the original purpose for which God created him. The reader can readily check that this is so by the use of an English-Greek Lexicon.

Further the doctrine of annihilation is contradictory to the whole tenor of Scripture, which reveals that the believer is destined to eternal bliss whilst the unbeliever suffers "eternal death" and all are included in one class or another. If some object that

body and soul united could not eternally exist in the lake of fire, they should recall the bush which was not consumed; and the three men in the fiery furnace, preserved despite its fierceness. They also should note that the "beast" and the "false prophet" after being there for a thousand years are still spoken of as there (Rev. 20.10) from which it follows that if they can survive its flame for one thousand years there is no logical reason why they should not survive eternally.

The references in 1 Cor. 15. to the last enemy "death" being destroyed constitutes no difficulty if regard is had to the context. The word "destroyed" means here "to put out of action" (it is a different word from that in 1 Thess. 1.9, and Matt. 10.28), and refers to the time when death will no longer hold men’s bodies, when soul and body will no longer be separate, but both united will be disposed of by God according to his own revealed plan. Death and Hades will be superseded by Gehenna.


It would seem too evident to need emphasis that this is an unscriptural doctrine. What surely can Rev. 21.8 mean if all ultimately will be saved? Is the lake of fire remedial? If so, where is the hint in Scripture to that effect? Paul says that "God will have all men saved," but negatively, Peter says, "God willeth not that one should perish"; that is His wish. It is not His counsel that so it shall be. In His ways He has placed man on his own responsibility. Manifestly the plain teaching of the Bible is that some will be saved eternally and some will be lost eternally.


This is a doctrine invented and propagated by money-making priests with intent to exploit ignorant souls and constantly to hold them in mental suspense for the sake of base gain.

Clearly the time of "testing: is in life; not after. Probation is now: final issues are settled at death, not probationary ones. Whatever 1 Peter 3. 18-23 means it certainly cannot teach the general doctrine of purgatory for all, since that passage only relates to those to whom Noah preached, and who in his days were disobedient.

1 Cor. 3. lends no support to the theory. "Saved so as by fire"

is not indicative that the person undergoing a period of suffering is saved out of it, but that though his lifework may be consumed by the fire of judgment he himself is saved despite it.

Neither Hades nor Gehenna are remedial; they are final; once entered the person is hopelessly lost. May God imprint these words on our hearts by His Spirit.

Finally, erroneous views concerning this doctrine affect the Person of Christ.

We ask the annihilationist: Was our Lord Jesus annihilated when He died? For verily He was Man.

We ask the Universalist: If all men ultimately will be saved why then did Christ die at all? What made His death imperative?

Of the one who claims limited and not eternal duration of punishment, we enquire: Was not the Lord Jesus an infinite substitute for sinners? For we have seen that sin is an infinite offence against an infinite God demanding infinite punishment, or in the alternative an infinite substitute. And logically if the punishment be finite, and of limited time, then the substitute equally must be finite, which means he is man and not God, which is a lie.

May God in His mercy spare writer and reader from any error on this profound and mysterious doctrine and give constant grace simply to bow to what is written, seeking to understand those things which are revealed, and leaving the rest to a Just God and a Saviour.

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by E. R. BOWER, Worcester


From Tekoa in the wilderness (2 Chron. 20.20;) Amos came in much the same way as John the Baptist came some centuries later with this personal word of introduction to himself; the subject of his message, Israel; the time of his message — two years before the earthquake (Zech. 14. 5;) — and the message, "Jehovah will roar" (as a lion, or as thunder). (See Is. 42. 13; Joel 3. 15;) The linking of Jeroboam with Uzziah; Israel with Judah; is a further indication that "My firstborn" (Israel) is both subject and object of his message.. Of the earthquake the historian Josephus records that it struck upon the day that Uzziah wilfully offered incense (2 Chron. 26. 16, 21;) and that the Temple was damaged and there was a landslip of half the mountain top. Did Amos know "two years before the earthquake" that the Lord would roar in that particular way? May we assume, as some do, that this introduction by Amos, "Jehovah will roar" was an early warning? In years to come history would repeat itself. The message of Zechariah was, "God has placed His Name in Jerusalem; from Jerusalem His voice will be heard."


Not now the words of Amos, but "Thus saith the Lord." This was the oracle of Jehovah and would preface every individual message to the eight nations named in the two early chapters. "For three transgressions and for four" is a strong term used of repeated rebellion and sin against lawful authority. The sins are, directly or indirectly, all against God Himself. Compare the words of the Decalogue and the numerical Proverbs. "I will not turn it back" or revoke My judgments. They, upon whom His judgments would fall, had "gone too far." God does not forget.. . ."BECAUSE."

In the histories of the six Gentile nations Amos addresses, we see something of the permissive will of God for, as in the case of Pharoah for instance (Ex. 8. 15; see Rom. 9. 17;), God raised up men and nations in order to fulfill His divine purpose. Compare Daniel’s words to Nebuchadnezzer the "head of gold" (Dan. 4;). In the measure by which evil men or nations overstep the mark when being used by God as His instruments of judgment and overstep the mark by their affliction of the people of God, so will they be judged. Israel is the "apple of His eye" He who touches Israel touches God Himself. (Lam. 2. 18; Zech. 2. 8;) Damascus threshed Gilead with iron. Philistia and Tyre carried away the whole captivity to Edom. Tyre and Edom, "brothers" to Israel by pledged word, kindnesses received or by birth and race made slaves of their ‘brothers’ or tearing them as might a beast of prey. Ammon and Moab, Kinsfolk to Israel — killing the as yet unborn; Moab insulting the dead. These nations would perish by the fires of Divine wrath.

UPON DAMASCUS. (Syria). Chap. 1. 3-5;

Refs: 1 Kin. 15.20; 19.15-17; 20.1-43; 2 Kin. 5.1; 8.7-15; 8. 28-29; 10.32-33; 13.3,4-7; 14.26; 16.9; 2 Chron. 16.4; Is. 8.4; Jer. 49.23-27; Ez. 27.16-18; These references record more than a century of bitter affliction of Israel. The culminating sin of Damascus was that they threshed Gilead with threshing instruments (or sledges) of iron. Some read "threshed the pregnant women of Gilead." This was truly barbaric, in human treatment. Jeroboam was able to complete the task begun by Jehoaz but Syria went into captivity to Assyria, The dynasty of Hazael and the palaces of Benhadad were overthrown. Bethaven was the "house of vanity, or pleasure". God has set up; God would take down.

GAZA. (Philistia) Chap. 1. 6-8;

Refs: Jud. 3.1; 2 Chron. 21. 16-17; 28. 17-19; 35, 20; Jos. 11. 22; Gaza, Ashdod, Askelon, Ekron — four or five Philistine cities Gath, the fifth city is mentioned in Chap. 6. The Philistines, as is well known, were long the thorn in Israel’s side, but when they sold their captives to Edom (Joel 3.4-8;) this was the "last straw" for this one nation, more than others, should have known only too well the greatness of Jehovah. (1. Sam. 5;) In v. 8 we have the title "Adonai Jehovah" — its only occurence in these judgments, although occuring about 20 times in this prophecy. This is appropriate here for the rulers of the five cities were known as "lords", but they were yet to learn more of the greatness of the One who is the Lord God. The destruction of these cities is recorded for us in 2 Chron. 261 Jer. 47; 2 Chron. 35. 20;

TYRE. (Phoenicia) chap. 1. 9-10;

Refs: 2 Sam. 3.11; 1 Kin. 5.1, 12; Is. 23; Ez. 26,27;

Tyre, or Tyrus, was assigned at the division of the land to the tribe of Asher, but it was never possessed by them. The ancient trading "covenant of brethren" was forgotten and this great mercantile city, when given the opportunity, embarked upon a slave trade by means of which Hebrew captives were bought and sold to another "brother" — Edom the cruel. Tyre’s reward came when besieged by Nebuchadnezzar and, later, Alexander the Great.

EDOM. (Idumea) Chap. 1. 11-12;

Refs: 1 Sam. 14. 47; 2 Kin. 8. 20-27; 14. 47; 2 Chron. 20. 10-11; 28. 17; Ps. 13. 7; Ps. 83.4-7.

Edom was the name given to the descendants of Esau the twin brother of Jacob. It was prophesied of him that he should serve the younger twin. (Jacob) and by thy sword shalt thou live and shalt serve thy brother." (Gen. 25. 23; 28,40;) Israel had been instructed, "Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; he is thy brother." (Deut. 23. 7;) but through the following centuries Edom was an implaccable enemy perpetuating Esau’s rage against Jacob, and taking every opportunity not only to fight against him, but to pursue him with the sword with unrelenting rage. "War and rapine were the only professions of the Edomite". See how the individual Edomite is spoken of in the Scriptures — Esau was profane; Doeg was the slayer of the priests; Hadad the adversary (the Satan) Herod murdered the children of Bethlehem; Antipas murdered John the Baptist; a third Herod killed James "with the sword"; Edom was called "the border of wickedness" and the Lord has "indignation for ever" against Edom. (Mal. 1. 45;) A commentator of a century ago wrote, "it is the very picture of the Evil One and of antichrist; it is the very defiance in the creature of the will and teaching of his God, the All-Merciful who passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage." Teman was a city noted for its wisdom (Jer. 49. 7;) Cf. Obadiah 8 and Job 3.11;) but it would with the capital, Bozrah, go into oblivion. The kings of Tyre, Edom. Moab and Amon, "I have given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzer (Je. 27. 3, 7;)

AMMON. Chap. 1. 13-15;

Refs: Deut. 2. 19-23; 23. 3-4; Jud. 3. 13; 10. 4-9; 11.4; 2 Sam. 10-12; Neh. 2.19; Zeph. 2.9; Jer. 40.14; Ez. 21.12-32; 25.10; etc.

The Ammonites were descendants of Lot’s younger son by his daughter (Ge. 19. 38;). Israel was not to interfere with them, and they are often seen in league with Moab (Lot’s other son by the elder daughter) against Israel and Judah (2 Kin. 24.2;) Even during the wilderness journey the Gods of Ammon and of Moab were adopted by Israel (Amos 5. 21-27;) See Acts 7. 43; These nations not expelled from the land by Israel became the thorns in the flesh of Num. 33, 35; and Jos. 23. 13. Judgment would fall because of the terrible deed of v. 13, but see also Deut. 23. 3-4 and cf. 1 Sam. 11. 2; 2 Kin. 8. 12; 15. 16; Hos. 13. 16. Warfare was to be their destruction and "passed away by a tempest" in the "day of whirlwind."

(to be continued)

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The Ministry of the Risen Lord

by The Late J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield


Matt. 28. 16-20; Mark 16. 19, 20; Luke 24. 50-53; Acts 1. 1-11.

In Matthew 28. 16-20 we see His authority and the wavering worshippers.


The disciples were sustained by the living presence and daily comradeship of their Lord. Such fellowship was the direct consequence of the Resurrection. The appearance in Royal Majesty fitly closes the first Gospel of Christ, the King. The end of the narrative answers to the beginning. The adoration of the Wise Men finds its counterpart and completion in the adoration of the disciples. The mountain was evidently chosen by the Lord with a significant purpose. Most of His authoritative declarations were made from mountains (Ch. 5. 1; 17. 1; 24. 3; 28. 16; Mk. 3. 13; 6. 36; Acts 1. 12).

Their Association (v.16) Preparation for service means solitude with Christ. They were once more apart from the world and in communion with God. Listening to His voice, learning His will, and living and in His presence as He unfolds His plans for them.

Their Adoration (v. 17a) The majesty of His Person compelled them to worship, they were flat on their faces before Him. They recognised Him and were subdued before Him and satisfied with the sight of the Risen Lord. In the very act of worshipping, some doubted but were soon convinced of His identity and of the reality of His risen life. This word "doubted" only occurs twice in the New Testament and both times in Matthew (See 14. 31). Like Peter frightened and floundering, one moment full of faith, the next moment full of fear (Jas. 1. 6, 7, 8).

His Approach (v. 18a) He had big things for them and would make demands upon them. He came right up to them, came close to allay their fears, assure their hearts and confirm their faith.

Our Lord’s body after His resurrection was a "spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15. 44). There was identity between body buried, and body raised. Yet there was dissimilarity; it was the same though different and different though the same.

His Authority (v. 18a) The four "Alls" assure us of universal power, "all power"; of unbounded love, "all nations"; of unwearying watchfulness, "all things"; and of unceasing fellowship, "with you always". These have aptly been called, "the Marching Orders of the Church". They are a Divine warrant for all types of Christian service and witness.


"all authority is mine in heaven and on earth". He must be Master and Lord of life (Acts 2.34-36; Psa. 45. lib; 2 Cor. 4. 5). The life of Christ in these men was an explanation of Divine power. On the physical level, they experienced new and exhilarating energies, enabling them to endure hardship and do exploits for God. It was power on the mental level, ill-educated and illiterate they had been; but they were given power of initiative and a directness, of decision the life of which the world had not seen before.

Power of the moral level, they were transformed and enabled to live spotless victorious lives in cities that were dens of corruption. It was power on the spiritual level. Wherever they went, other lives were changed, souls redeemed, and mighty miracles of grace were witnessed. The power of Christ in them (Gal. 2. 20; Phil. 4. 13). Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!


"make all nations disciples". The scope of the work was to be national rather than individual conversion. The presentation of gospel to people of all nations without exception. This world outlook had indeed characterised the life and teaching of the Lord (5. 14; 8. 11; 24. 14; 16. 13). Individual evangelization and disci-pleship are included in the aim and scope of the Great Commission. Christ does not ask His friends as a favour to bear witness to Him among men. He claims it as a duty. A disciple is a convert consecrated to the will of His Master (John 15. 14; Luke l’7. 10).

Baptism was intended as a badge of relationship to Christ, a proof that they were real disciples, learners in the school of Christ The fundamental thought in baptism is something done to us, a symbolic act of God toward us, our separation from old associations being united to Christ. Baptism is "into" the Name of Trinity, revealing the spiritual meaning of the rite. It means to be brought in God’s own way into fellowship with Him Who has been so revealed.                                                           . .


This is the substance of our service. Having made disciples and initiated them by rite of baptism the Apostles were to instruct them in everything previously given by Christ for guidance of His followers. The ministry of teaching is most important and sadly neglected among us today. Growth in grace is dependant upon teaching and acceptance of, and obedience to the truth taught.

"Observe" means to guard, to watch over, as the Tomb was guarded (27. 66). The ripest believer had not exhausted the teaching of Christ, nor reached the limit to which he can attain.

Like Paul we must press on (Phil. 3. 14). Our weakness today is we are not observing all, obeying all. We must live as well as preach "Jesus is Lord". (Acts 10. 36; Rom. 10. 9; 1 Cor. 12. 3).


"Lo I am with you all the days" Here is our strength for service; the assurance of continuance of His own presence in our work for Him. Study the many and varied references all through Scripture to the power and provision of God’s presence.

This is not a promise, it is better than a promise, it is a Fact.

Here is complete equipment for Christian work and this should cheer, inspire and strengthen us wherever we go in His name.

I would always trust my Saviour,
Let Him choose my times and ways,
For the promise never fails me,
"I am with you all the days".


The Mighty Acts. The presence of the Lord was realized for He worked with them and confirmed His word through their lips by His divine power. The Ascension is the guarantee of His continual presence with us (v. 19).

"Think of the blessings which are ours today; a righteousness —untarnished, acceptance—unquestioned, peace—undisturbed, life—unending, relationship—unbroken, an inheritance— unfading" Dr. Griffith Thomas.

It is not enough to know that He is with us; we must use His help. There is work to be done as there is blessing to be secured.


The Lord had been their Teacher, expounding the Scriptures (v. 44, 45); their Master, explaining His mission and commissioning them to preach and witness (v. 47, 48); their Inspiration, promising power and blessing (v. 49). Now He is their Leader, "as far as to Bethany". What memories must have crowed back as He led them up the slopes of Olivet over towards Bethany. Trace all references to Bethany in the Gospels. This is the scene of His final triumph over sin, death, hell and the grave.


See Num. 6.23-27 for the completion of the Aaronic ministry. The implication of the uplifted hands is a fitting close to Christ’s ministry in Luke,


He ascends as the Forerunner the First-born and the First-fruits, and these forty days give us a glimpse of the nature of His present ministry for us (Heb. 9. 24).

The uplifted hands implies an absolute sufficiency to sustain and satisfy. His blessing shows His transcendent superiority as a priest (2 Cor. 13. 14).

His work on earth is completed, his sacrifice accepted, He is carried up into heaven and sat down (Mk 16. 19); Heb. 1. 3; 8. 1).


His going to the Father was a change of state, it was spiritual. The close of one dispensation and the dawn of another, the last event recorded in the Gospel and the first event recorded in the Acts. The response heavenward was worship and the thrill inward was joy, these two are linked in our experience. They willingly worshipped and obeyed and continued in praise to God. One day He will descend and His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives once again.


The Acts records the continuing work of the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit, through the Church.

Establishing (v. 1-3) By communicating His will (v. 1). It was preparatory and transitional. "Jesus began to do" during His life on earth, and continues to do from heaven, through His saints (Mk 16. 19). It was practical and powerful, "to do", by His saving work He redeemed the trusting soul. "To teach", by His wonderful words He reaches the obedient saint.

Commanding His apostles to wait until endued with power from on high (v. 4; 2. 33). Confirming His resurrection (v. 3) by proof that His crucifixion was an atoning death.

Encouraging (v. 4-7) by a ministry of instruction. They enjoyed companionship with the Living Christ (v. 4).

They had the promise of a Divine Guide with them and a Divine Power within them (v. 5). A ministry of correction concerning seasons (v. 6, 7). They were preoccupied with a materialistic kingdom instead of a spiritual kingdom (Rom. 14. 17). One day He will set up His millennial kingdom (Zech. 12. 12; 14. 14). The time is still God’s secret, knowledge withheld from them (Matt. 24. 36; Mk 13. 32; 1 Thess. 5. 1).

Enabling (v. 8-11) Here is the Lord commissioning His servants. Their work is mainly witnessing from personal experience (v. 8).


The Holy Spirit is God’s provision for powerful testimony. He would come upon them on the Day of Pentecost to (1) baptize all saints (John 1. 29-34); "In" the spirit (1 Cor. 12. 12,13) is historical and collective and never repeated, it places us in the Body of Christ. (2) to indwell all saints (John 7. 39; 14.16,18; Rom. 5. 5; 8. 8, 9). (3) to empower all saints (Lk. 24. 49; Acts 1. 8).


"Ye witnesses unto Me". A personal experience of Christ and then, personal expression of it (ch. 4. 20). What Christ is and all Christ is, to us, we must show to others, by consistent life, by confession of lip and propogation of truth through literature.


The field is the world; three extending circles. The first — "Jerusalem and Judea", the home circle (Luke 8. 39), then our neighbourhood, city and country. The second circle, in Samaria (8. 1-48) reaching the neighbourhood by word and work.

The third circle — "the uttermost part of the earth", with the introduction of gospel privileges to gentiles (Acts 10. 1-48). All is done under divine direction, divine empowerment and divine blessing according to His will.

THE PARTING (v. 9-11)

The Ascension was the climaxing event of the entire career of the Lord. He was carried up (Lk. 24. 51); taken up (Acts 1. 9); received up (1. 9); went up (v. 10). The Ascension is the assurance of the advent to earth. He ascended personally, bodily and visibly, and so He will return (Zech. 12. 10). Our witness will be useful and blessed if Christ is real to us, rules our life, and we respond to His claim and call (v. 8).

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by T. Meekin (Glengormley)


It is clear that Aaron preached at least five sermons viz.

  1. Cheering hearts in the Work of God —Ex. 4. 29-31
  2. Challenging by the Word of God —Ex. 7. 1-7, 16-18
  3. Confident in the Wisdom of God —Ex. 12: 1-6, 28
  4. Complaining about the Ways of God —Num. 12: 1-9
  5. Conforming to the Will of God —Lev. 10: 1-8

How remarkable that when we think of the great preachers of the bible our minds rarely ever turn to Aaron. To our way of thinking, his is the silent ministry of the sanctuary with little or nothing recorded in the way of spoken words. Yet this is the man whose eloquence has reached the ears of Heaven and of God Himself for it is He who leaves on holy record "I know that he speaketh well."

What a lesson for budding preachers or even mature preachers. This is the true oratory the effectiveness of which is recognised in the unseen world. There is no disputing the ability of Paul or the fact that he left his mark upon this unseen sphere for did not the evil spirits themselves bear witness "Jesus we know and Paul we know but who are you?" Acts 19. 15.

The man Moses, mighty in word and deed, has in his wilderness experiences lost all notion of the power of eloquence. For the most part possibly deprived of the privilege of human conversation he is the man to whom God speaks. All God says is "I am" and all Moses can say in reply is "who am I?" Yet for this backward servant God has a voice made ready who can indeed "speak well".

As is remarkable with those speakers to whom Heaven bears witness, Aaron is one of those men who is content to take second place. In our day he who speaks well is everything, not so with God and godly men. Though he will be a voice to Moses he has no illusions of grandeur as to his position. It is most striking how soon after their encounter in the desert that the scriptures begin "Then Moses and Aaron. .. ." and thus the pattern is set. Moses first, then Aaron, but without Aaron, Moses is nothing and he cannot go. Nevertheless divine order is given precedence and is bowed to.

We are thus beautifully reminded of the ministry of John the Baptist in relation to our Blessed Lord." I am the VOICE of one crying in the wilderness___" and again "He that cometh after me is preferred before me for He was before me" and again ". . the latchet of those shoes I am worthy to unloose". Yet with holy boldness Aaron will face the elders of Israel and the mighty Pharaoh in his palace "assuredly gathering that the Lord had sent them". Acts 16. 10.

It would be interesting and instructive to take a brief look at some of those more notable ‘sermons’ preached by this worthy SPEAKER, one of the greatest of which must be on that occasion of Ex. 4. 30.

i) Cheering hearts in the Work of God. Ex. 4. 29-31

"And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses…. and the people believed, and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped."

What a meeting that must have been! Some of us look back to various meetings when we seemed to take fresh courage and with renewed confidence in God we went in the strength of the ministry for many days. So must this meeting have been an encouragement to Israel’s drooping spirits. What a message from Israel’s greatest orator! Note his attention to the details of his text.— In v. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and that is exactly relayed to the people in v. 30. He told them not merely the words of Moses, but that which the Lord had spoken to Moses. It is indeed the ministry akin to that which is recommended in N. T. days. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." 1 Pet. 4. 11.

It is always a privilege to relay God’s word to His people. It may not always be the thrilling good news of Ex. 4 as we shall see in Aaron’s sermons but in that it is divine in origin, it carries with it an authority that no earthly communication can muster. He declared ALL the words, not a selection of ministry he thought would be best appreciated but in the spirit of a Paul who "kept back nothing…." and "shunned not to declare… all the counsel of God". Acts 20. 27.

ii) Challenging by the Word of God —Ex. 7. 1-7, 16-18.

His preaching in the palace was no less faithful than the ministry to the elders of Israel. Ex. 6.27 records "these are that Moses and Aaron which spake unto Pharaoh". He who had not hitherto enjoyed the liberties of the palace as had Moses, now enters with holy boldness to communicate God’s mind to the king. He is seen thus to move in the shadow and spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist as he makes known God’s purposes and requirements. Ex. 7. 2 "that he send the children of Israel out of his land".

His sermons to Pharaoh however long or short were three — fold in content They spoke of —

  1. The punishment of God,
  2. the power of God and
  3. the purpose of God.

Pharaoh was left in no doubt after listening to this preacher that his God was a God to be reckoned with, that His power knew no bounds and that His purposes in salvation were foremost in His mind. Do all our gospel preachers of today leave these kind of impressions on the minds of their hearers?

One fears that we have become half apologetic in our style and presentation and we hear presented such a watered down version of the claims of God that such would be barely recognised in heaven. Well might God say of this man "I know that he speaketh well!"

iii) Confident in the Wisdom of God —Ex. 12. 1-6, 28

I should like to have heard Aaron’s sermon on the Lamb in Ex. 12 as he with Moses communicates the requirements of God in this respect. Oratory is at its best when its focus is on Christ! Nothing more delightful to the heart of the saints than to hear a good clear presentation of the Lamb of God: The people seemed than at their most responsive. —They "went away and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they."

We sometimes hear that practical ministry is secondary to devotional ministry and thereby some practical application of the truth of God is avoided. Brethren, when will we learn that there can be nothing more guaranteed to have a practical effect upon our lives as Christians than a longer look at the perfect Servant.

Rather than making a ministry of the presentation of Christ an excuse for not touching practical things, it should be the very lever in the Spirit’s hand to touch off fresh challenges to the heart.

(to be continued)

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by A. D. THROPAY (California)


Paul was a prisoner at the time that he wrote this letter. He refers to his imprisonment in chapters 3:1; 4:1, and 6:20. His letter to the Colossians, the Philippians, and to Philemon were also written while he was in prison. They are therefore called the "Prison Epistles" of Paul.

Some believe that this was a circular letter to be distributed to various churches. They base this on two arguments: 1) The words "in Ephesus" do not appear in three Alexandrian Greek manuscripts. 2) Paul does not mention any individuals by name from the church at Ephesus. It is Paul’s custom to mention the names of believers in assemblies where he had worked. However, most manuscripts do carry the name "in Ephesus." No manuscripts carry any other name. It is possible that the letter was written to the church at Ephesus initially. After they had read it, and possibly copied it, they would pass it to the other churches in Asia.

This letter was probably brought to the Ephesian believers by Tychicus (6:21).

Ephesus was one of the great cities in the Roman empire. At the end of Paul’s second missionary journey, he spent a weekend at Ephesus with Aquilla and Priscilla (Acts 18:19-22). He promised to return. During his third missionary trip he visited Ephesus and stayed there three years (Acts 20:31). The history of that visit is recorded in Acts 19:1-41. From there Paul continued on his

missionary travels. As he was returning to Jerusalem, he stopped to pay a visit to the Ephesian believers for the last time. He ended with a farewell address to the elders of that assembly (Acts 20:13-38).

This letter is considered to be one of Paul’s greatest writings. The purpose of this letter was to occupy the believers with what they were saved TO, rather what they were saved FROM. He takes their minds and hearts into the heavenly realm where they can see the reality of God and His eternal purposes. From that perspective, they can understand better what is happening on the earth.

The theme of this letter is Christ and the church. This is also seen as the heart of the chiastic structure by which the Holy Spirit outlined this book (3:20, 21).




I. The Beauty of God’s masterpiece 1:1-3:21

A.  Introduction 1:1-2
B.  The purpose of the Trinity 1:3-14

1. The WILL of God the Father 1:3-6
2. The WORK of Christ the Son 1:7-12
3. The WITNESS of the Holy Spirit 1:13-14
(NOTE: Each of these three sections ends with the phrase "praise of His glory.")
C.  The prayer of the apostle 1:15-23
D.  The position of the believer 2:1-10

1.  His position prior to salvation 2:1-3
2.  His position after salvation 2:4-10
E.  The peace of the believer 2:11-22

1.  One New Man united from Opposing races for God 2:11-15
2.  One Body reconciled together with God 2:16-19
3. One Building framed together around God 2:20-22
F.  The promise of God for the church 3:1-13

1.  The mystery of the church 3:1-6
2.  The minister of the mystery 3:7-13
G. The power in the believer — the fullness of God 3:14-21

1.  The strength of the Holy Spirit 3:14-16
2. The surpassing love of the Son 3:17-19
3.  The supreme ability of the Father 3:20-21
II. The Behaviour of God’s masterpiece 4:1-6:23

A. Walking in unity 4:1-16                            ;

1.  The proportions of unity 4:1-6
2. The protection of the unity 4:7-16
B.  Walking in righteousness and true holiness 4:17-32

1 Introduction of the old man 4:17-19 2. Introduction of the new man 4:20-32
C. Walking in love 5:1-7
D. Walking in the Light 5:8-14
E. Walking in wisdom 5:15-6:9

1.  Spirit filled life 5:15-21
2.  Submissive life 5:21-6:9

a.  Wives and husbands — picture of Christ and the Church 5:22-33
b. Children and parents 6:1-4
c.  Servants and masters 6:5-9
F. Weapons of warfare 6:10-20
G.  Conclusion 6:21-24.

                               (to be continued)

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By The late W. J. M’Clure.

(These articles appeared in 1922 in the Believers’ Magazine, and are still up to date).

There are in our time, three positive hindrances to the evangelisation of mankind, which in our early years of assembling in the Lord’s Name for His worship and seeking to spread the Gospel, did not exist. They are the Auto, the Moving Picture Show, and the Gramaphone. Of course, the godless world approve of and will continue these as being wholly to their liking, but the born again people of God are being ensnared and spiritually impoverished by their means, and the enemy finds them serviceable to his purpose of hindering and opposing the work of God. We do not class the Auto wholly with the other two. In itself, it is a thing of utility, has an economic value, and may be turned to good and proper use in the service of the Lord. But we specially have in view the present day use so largely made of it on the Lord’s Day, for purposes of pleasure. Along all roads leading from the great cities and towns, towards seaside, mountain, and river resorts, all on pleasure bent, endless streams of old and young may be seen, all through the summer months, from early morn till late evening, "out for the day," without thought of God, or what is due to the Lord and His Word. We have often thought, as we watched these Autos hasting along, how many of their occupants might have been — as in earlier and better days — under the Gospel’s sound, but for the quest of pleasure — rather than of God — which this Lord’s Day use of the Auto has so largely increased. And we fear many who claim to be the children of God, are not wholly free in practice from this soul-blighting and God-dishonouring habit, which deprives them of much which God has given them to enjoy in things Divine, and causes the worldling to sneer at their inconsistency, knowing what they profess.

MOVING PICTURES.—In many a country town and village, in days before the "movies" were known, there were not many counter attractions to the nightly Gospel Meeting in hall or tent. Not many were able to run a nightly theatre or concert hall, so the people could be got to hear the Gospel message. If the theatre be the devil’s church, the picture house is his "mission," and there he runs a continuous revival, Sunday and Saturday, all the year round, with an ever-changing bill of fare to meet all tastes. And crowds of all classes, from the highest to the lowest, flock to these ever-open doors.

THE GRAMOPHONE.—This invention is a striking proof of Satan’s ingenuity and ability to hinder the progress of the Gospel among the unconverted, and in spoiling the spiritual taste of the children of God. We can remember when a canvas tent, in which the Gospel was nightly preached, was an attraction to many in the warmth of summer. But now it is common enough to see groups sitting on the verandahs of their houses, in the shade, listening to popular airs played on the Gramophone, which serves to keep them from being under the Gospel’s sound, as God assuredly intends they should be (see I Tim. ii. 4; 2 Pet. iii. 9).

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by B. AVERY, Malvern

Isaiah 9.6 points forward to the Lord Jesus Christ and informs us, among other things, that "the government shall be upon His shoulder" and we know that in the millennial period this will be so. It is interesting to compare the above verse with Luke 15.5 when reference is made to the "shoulders" of the man who has found the lost sheep. He could easily have laid it on one shoulder, but such is his care for the sheep that had wandered that he places it across both his shoulders. In the first reference we note His governing ability, in the second His gracious affection is clearly visible.

In a similar way we find reference to the Lord’s arm in Deuteronomy. Six times we read of His "stretched out arm" and what had been accomplished by it. There is, however, one plural reference in 33.27. "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms". The former brings before us the Lord’s power, the latter His protecting care for His people. Not one arm, powerful though it be, but in time when we require refuge in the storms of life we are assured He has both arms ready to carry us!

On five of the six aforementioned occasions reference is made also to His "mighty hand". When God is concerned with "making whole" reference is made to both hands in Job 5.18, underlining His concern for the individual once more. Emphasised here concerns formation of character, but a further compassion can be observed in Job 10.7-8. In v.7 the almighty "Hand" is mentioned regarding power and judgment, but in the following verse His "hands" are mentioned regarding the formation of the body. These references emphasise Divine concern for our spiritual and physical needs.

In John 10.25 Christ speaks of His own hand, but as if that was not sufficient in, in the next verse He refers to His faith on hand. What assurance of eternal security for the believer!

These thoughts should comfort and encourage us as we are reminded of the Lord’s affection for us, the protection of us, and His assurance given to us.

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by T. Thompson (Alaska)

I was born into a godly, Christian home in 1925 at 118 Roseberry Road, Belfast and was nurtured by the example and simple instruction of my dear parents, Sunday School teachers etc. It is with deepest gratitude to God that I heard the sound gospel preached by sincere and compassionate men that "spoiled" me for any wayward paths of the world in which I walked in disobedience to the love of God, for I was ever touched by the sufferings of Christ and His love to me.

Prayers of my mother helped preserve me from many pitfalls and led me to meet and marry the lovely, pure wife of my youth, Sadie. Some months after our marriage in St. John’s Malone Church of Ireland where she was a member, she came home one night soundly saved. Four months later, January 1947 after a time of deep soul trouble I surrendered my stubborn will and the Lord saved me by his grace. Two weeks later we both were baptised and received kindly into fellowship at Victoria Hall, Belfast. Three weeks later we sailed for South Africa.

Just as the course of our life changed from N. Ireland to S. Africa, so the course of our spiritual life changed from "gold to God." On board ship we observed what God had saved us out of for the ship was a world in minature with sensuality and depravity of the most vile type and on the other hand the hypocrisy of "religious" people and priests mixed up in the same things. I started a Bible reading with the help of two Scotish ministers who were saved and showed it. This was held on the upper deck and up to a hundred attended each night. Our song sheets were copied out by our own hands with such favourites as "A fountain filled with blood," which we sung with power. Arrival in S. Africa with a changed outlook and ambition. We responded to the godly advice of a missionary given a few days after our arrival "Young man, Johannesburg has two things and you must make your choice ‘God or Gold.’ Choose God and you will never lack gold. Choose gold and you will leave God." We chose God and put our all in to a little gathering of 8 saints in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

We always kept close to the assembly and actively engaged in S. S. as a teacher. Also commenced a gospel work in the Rand Epleptic Home still carried on 40 years afterwards by my then fellow worker, Oscar Hinds.

Moving about on business brought many contracts in the gospel, beside tracts and door to door visitation etc. When Geo. Knowles (Palestine) visited and gave missionary reports on "WHAT GOD" had done there, we were stirred to yield our whole lives to God for "wherever" He wanted to send us. Shortly after that a business transfer to Cape Town brought me to work tirelessly in the gospel with many beloved brethren of various colours and cultures. Happy as the day was long we thought "THIS" is where God wants us to serve Him. Having seen God’s hand in saving many souls and now asked to speak on conferences, it was with trembling and fear that God further showed us ALASKA as the place we were to go through reading a report in an assembly magazine by an aged worker who cried for help for the "neglected northwest."

After about two years of prayerful exercise and writing to Wm. Rae (Scottish) pioneer into Alaska as early as 1921, and also Canada etc., the elder brethren whom I had asked to prayerfully bear my exercise also before the Lord, "all these" concurred and assuredly gathered that God had called us to preach the gospel. Six assemblies in Cape Town commended us and we sailed for Ulster to obtain visas into Alaska, a territory of U.S.A.

Sailing from Africa in absolute faith (Commending assemblies gave no support financially), we arrived almost penniless, in Ulster. We sought fellowship in Maranatha Assembly, Belfast for before leaving Africa a "big" missionary/teacher from another clime discounted our call and ungraciously interfered with our going forth. Such things are to be expected but then it was a great burden in addition to being married with two little boys to care for; hence our "hiding" ourselves from our former assembly that was very missionary minded. This proved a blessing in God’s plan for after we obtained the visas, the Maranatha Assembly joined in and commended us to the Lord for His work.

Thirty-six years have passed serving the Lord here and now that Sadie has finished her course with distinction in 1984, God has remained faithful and with dear Marjorie, whom the Lord gave me 2 years ago, we continue to this day thankful for His mercy that enabled us to carry the gospel here and see saints gathered to "HIS NAME." The latest assembly at Indian Valley, after 10 years of pioneering, gathered in 1985 with 8 saints and now there are 20 and good signs of potential growth.

All I can say is "I wish I had given Him more."

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In this lonely vale of sorrow,
There’s a light beyond the dale;
Though our footsteps seem to falter
His deep love can never fail.
In affliction’s darkest hours,
When bowed down by anxious care;
With no light beyond the shadows
Sweet to know He’s always there.
Clasp the hand of Him who careth,
Strong and mighty is His arm;
Upholding all in every trial
There’s no cause to be alarmed.
Nightly scenes may round us gather,
Soon will pass the midnight hour;
Daylight comes, the morning breaketh
Springing forth like Sharon’s flower.
Lift your eyes oh weary traveller,
Tears and sorrow t’will soon be past;
What Eternal weight of glory
Will be ours when home at last.

—R. Magill, Belfast

II CORINTHIANS 12, Verses 7—9

THE REASON—Lest I should be exalted above measure.
THE RESISTANCE—I besought the Lord thrice.
THE REPLY— My Grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
THE RESOLVE—Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the Power of Christ may rest upon me.                 

—James Neilly.

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