The writer has learned from experience that it is not only necessary to set forth the truth in a clear and conclusive manner in these days when a false theology has bewildered the minds of the people; but it is also necessary to anticipate and remove what difficulties arise in the readersí minds concerning a few texts which, superficially viewed and sophistically presented by theologians, appear to be at variance with what has been set forth herein. He has had ample opportunity during thirty-two years of his life of observing the methods employed in endeavoring to sustain the popular theories, and has had considerable experience in defending the truth of the Bible against the different tactics of representative men of the various sects of Christendom, both in private conversation and public discussions. He feels that the first part of this book will be more useful to the inquirers after truth and to those who are equipping themselves to effectually defend it, if a chapter is devoted to the careful consideration of the few texts which are used, or rather misused, against the truth it contains and the many proofs given in their support.
The representative men of different sects must necessarily employ methods somewhat differing according as they differ in their theories. Hence a Campbellite, who believes in a Pentecostal kingdom must resort to different tactics from those employed by a Baptist, who believes the kingdom was established before Pentecost--some Baptists claiming it was set up when Christ triumphed over death and others at an earlier date, not being willing to be definite as to the date. In meeting these opponents of the Truth it is necessary that one "study to show himself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth;" for an awkward use of the sword of the Spirit is quite likely to leave the interested listeners confused and deluded by the sophistry of perverters of the word of God. We are commanded to "Prove all things and hold fast that which is good," and to "Try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world." It is our duty to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints;" and this cannot be done unless we carefully prepare ourselves as good soldiers of Christ. Let us not be driven from our duty in this matter by the taunts of some that we are controversialists and always ready to discuss for the sake of discussion. This is one of the tactics used to enable the enemy to escape the test of truth. We must make up our minds to obey the foregoing injunctions, not for discussionís sake, but for truthís sake, and for the sake of deluded fellow men, and we must not shirk nor be cowardly, but press the battle, giving no quarters, and fully convinced that truth can never surrender to, retreat from, nor compromise with error.
THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM NOT FULFILLED
NEH. 9: 7, 8
In chapter iv, page 36 we have shown that the promise to Abraham that
he and his seed should have the
Now how does the matter
stand? Is it not clear that Nehemiah says that the fulfillment he is speaking
of was one that pertained only to Abrahamís seed and not to Abraham, while Gen.
13: 15 promised the land to both Abraham and his seed? Nehemiah is therefore
referring to the typical and temporary possession of a part of the land
involved in the everlasting covenant; and the apostle Paul distinctly says that
this temporary possession under the Mosaic law
"cannot disannul that it should make the promise of none effect." "For," he adds, "if it be of the law, then it is no
more of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise" (Gal. ).
The possession under the law, of which Nehemiah speaks, was an added, temporary
and typical thing like the law itself-- "till the seed (Christ) should
come to whom the promise was made;" but under the everlasting
covenant to which the Mosaic was added, Abraham and the "seed to whom the
promise was made" had not been given so much as to set foot upon, yet it
was promised and the promise remained unfulfilled, and will so remain till the
words of Micah 7: 20, uttered about ten hundred years after Abrahamís time, are
fulfilled: "Thou wilt perform (not thou hast performed) thy truth to Jacob
and thy mercy to Abraham which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days
of old." If the sophists say that the meaning was heaven as a spiritual
MATT. 3: 2
In attempting to prove
This is neither a "kingdom of grace in the heart" nor the church, but a grand constitution of things far more powerful, glorious and extensive, and fraught with sweeter blessings than the "heart hath conceived," than the church has ever experienced or the world ever witnessed.
But there was a sense in which the kingdom of heaven was at hand in the days of Johnís ministry, for the words quoted so declare. In order to get at the meaning of the words we have only to ask, What was the mission of John? What or whom did he come to herald? In Isa. 40: 3 the prophet says, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." And Matt. 3: 3 says of Johnís coming, "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make his paths straight."
From this we learn that
John came to herald and to prepare the way of the Lord, Christ; and we may
therefore conclude that it was Christ who was "at hand," as declared
in Johnís preaching. But if it was Christ, why does it say "the kingdom of
heaven is at hand." Is there a sense in which Christ can be spoken
of synonymously with kingdom? The word in the Greek for
"kingdom" is Basileia, a word which the lexicons say stands
for royalty or a royal personage, as well as for kingdom.
Now that Christ is
spoken of as synonymous with the
THE KINGDOM NIGH
Luke --"Be ye sure of this, that the
The work of Christ and
his apostles was not to set up the
In building a great railroad, after the plan is conceived and arranged, the first thing necessary to the accomplishment of the purpose is to make it known--to preach it. In doing this the name the railroad is to have when complete is used in making known the enterprise. Suppose it is the Northern Pacific Railroad. It was planned and called by this name before anything was done towards preparing the literal bed, ties, rails, cars and locomotives, etc., and when agents are sent out to make the plan known, they call it the Northern Pacific Railroad, and they present the plan to those whom they desire to become participants in the enterprise. If they are asked, What do you represent? they answer "The Northern Pacific Railroad. We have come to make it known to you--or to "bring it nigh"--for your acceptance and embarkation in it, so that when our plan, to use a modern term, materializes, you may partake of the profits.
At the present time
Zionism is preaching the establishment of an "Independent Jewish
Now, if we apply these
illustrations to the verses quoted, we shall readily see that the kingdom of
God has been planned and named by the God of heaven Himself--in this sense
"prepared from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25: 34). When this
great and good and sure plan is spoken of it is called by its name-- the
Kingdom of God--though it has not actually been established, but is being
preached, made known or heralded to those who are invited to join in this
divine enterprise with a view of receiving a share in the blessings which shall
come from its operations when it becomes an actual fact. In presenting this
glorious plan it was brought "nigh" to the Jews first and afterwards
to the Gentiles in the form of the Gospel, or good news,
Those who would "study to be workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," should always be on guard not to apply one scripture in a way to contradict other scriptures. To say of the verses we are considering that they mean that the kingdom of God had come nigh in the sense of being set up is to array them against the teachings of Jesus when he corrected the mistake of his disciples in supposing that "the kingdom of God would immediately appear" (Luke 19: 11). If the kingdom of God had "come nigh" in the sense of being set up or established--in the form of a church, or in a spiritual sense in the heart--then the disciples were right in believing in its immediate appearance, and then the question is, Why did Jesus declare them to be mistaken in this immediate appearing aspect of the question? He taught them that the kingdom of God which they thought would immediately appear would appear, but not immediately; not until he would go to heaven and return, "having received the kingdom" (Luke 19: 15). It follows therefore that the only sense in which the kingdom of God had "come nigh" was in that it had been presented to them for acceptance, in which acceptance they would receive Christ, who was the kingdom in its germ form, and would receive the gospel which had Christ for its alpha and omega, and which was the kingdom of God in gospel form, destined to ultimately pass from being a matter of gospel, or good news, into a reality that would bring to an afflicted world the blessings of a reign of "peace on earth, good will toward men and glory to God in the highest."
Matt. , 12--"Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
It is here said that
John was a great man, yet in the kingdom of heaven the least is greater. It can
not be said that the least in the church is as great as John. Neither can it be, that the least one who has the so-called "kingdom
of grace in the heart" is greater than he. The "kingdom of
heaven," here, therefore, is not the church, nor the "kingdom in the
heart." What then is the meaning of the words? When the kingdom of heaven
in answer to the prayer, "Thy kingdom come," is established and the
redeemed will inherit it, having been invited to that honor in the words,
"Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from
the foundation of the world," the position of the very least there will be
a high and glorious one. It is said, "To him that overcometh will I grant
to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down
with my Father in his throne" (Rev. 3: 21). This will be "When the
Son of man shall come in his glory and all his holy angels with
him," for it is added "then shall he sit upon the throne of
his glory" (Matt. 25: 31). "Then shall the righteous shine forth as
the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. ). For the least in this exalted state the honor and glory
will be great. Notwithstanding Johnís greatness in this life,
compared with that of the least in the
While we have partly dealt with this text before, since it is here connected with what is said in verse 12, we deemed it best to give a more elaborate treatment.
The next question is, In what sense did the kingdom of heaven suffer violence? It cannot be that in the establishment of the kingdom of heaven there will be power enough to "treat it with violence," nor that it can be taken by force; for at that time the violence will be on the part of the kingdom of heaven against the wicked kingdoms of men. The prophet Daniel says, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, neither shall it be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2: 44). So we may safely conclude that when the kingdom of God "suffered violence and the violent took it by force" was not at the time of the establishment of the kingdom.
Now, if when agents are
sent out to preach Zionism, or the establishment of a
Jewish State in
EVERY MAN PRESSETH INTO IT
Luke --"The law and the prophets were until John: since
that time the
We are asked, How could they press into the kingdom if it was not there? This question has been put by Campbellite preachers to the writer in public debates; but they forgot for the moment that their theory is that the kingdom was not set up till the day of Pentecost. To expose the sophistry of the question with them, all we had to do was ask, Since you say the kingdom was set up on the day of Pentecost, how do you account for every man pressing into it from the days of John the Baptist? According to your own theory the kingdom was not there in its established form, and the force of your attempted blow at your opponent falls upon your own head. How could they press into the kingdom when it was not there?
Most of the "orthodox" representatives, when pressed to state the time when such a remarkable event as the establishment of Godís kingdom took place--an event which must have been a marked epoch in history if it took place in the past--will answer that it was when Christ had triumphed over death and hades. So with all such the question is still pertinent, How could every man press into the kingdom from the days of John? None of them are willing to say that the kingdom was set up in the days of Johnís ministry, and therefore, since it was from that time every man was pressing into it, the difficulty, if there be a difficulty, which they raise against a future establishment of the kingdom is as great against one set up in the form of a church or otherwise after Johnís ministry and before or at Pentecost. There is, therefore, nothing in the passage to sustain the popular view of a heart-kingdom or a church-kingdom.
Now, the illustrations we have given relative to the kingdom "coming nigh" and "suffering violence" will help to explain this text. It does not say that "the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is established and every man presseth into it; but it says, "Since that time the kingdom of God is preached." For men to "press into" Zionism when it is preached is for them to enter the society promoting the enterprise and become parts of the institution; but not till Zionism is established at Zion can they enter it in its established form and receive the real advantages, faith in which induced them to enter it in its preached form. So when men believed the gospel of the kingdom and were baptized they pressed into that institution as constituent parts in the hope that when it would become an established fact, fraught with the promised blessings, they may realize how "good it is to be there."
Then, again, the matter
of pressing into the
Luke , 21--"The
This is the text
generally quoted to prove that the
Still, the inquirer
will ask, What about the text in question, which says, "The
The Emphatic Diaglott renders the passage as follows: "Nor shall they say, Behold here! or behold there! for, behold, GODíS ROYAL MAJESTY is among you," and in a footnote the author says:
"In this verse it
has been found necessary to depart from the usual signification of hee
basileia tou theou, the
Of his first coming
Jesus could truthfully say, "The
MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD
John 18: 36--"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence."
This passage is quoted
to prove that the
But, it will be said, in answer to this, The meaning is that Christís kingdom is not of this world--the present worldly institutions. Then, we answer, do not call this world Christendom: for if this world is Christendom, and if Christendom is the dominion of Christ, then this world is Christís kingdom, and his words in the text are denied.
Finding a difficulty here to sustain a false theory, there is an attempt to prove that the meaning of the passage is that the kingdom is not on earth, but in heaven. This, of course, contradicts the hundreds of texts which show that Christ is to have "the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession" (Psa. 2: 8), and that the kingdom is to be "under the whole heaven" (Dan. ). When the champions of the popular theories take this turn to protect their claims they forget that they are praying, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
The passage does not say the kingdom is not to be on earth; but that it is not of this world. World, from the Greek word kosmos, here does not mean earth, but order or constitution of things. At that time the world represented by Pilate (to whom the words of the passage were spoken) was the Roman government, consisting of civil and religious laws and institutions of men--false, corrupt and sinful in the sight of God. Christís disciples were not of that world, but had been called out of it, and were no longer "walking according to that world (kosmos) according to the prince and power of its aerial (or ruling customs) the spirit (disposition) that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2: 2). Christís kingdom is not a worldly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom. Its great plan was conceived in heaven, and the revelation concerning it came from heaven. It is a heavenly or heaven-like kingdom to come, that Godís will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Had Christís kingdom been of that world represented by Pilate it would have been one kingdom of that world contending against another, and in that case his servants would have fought that their king might not be delivered to the Jews. Hence he adds, "But now is my kingdom not from hence." As he had shown by the parable of the nobleman, he must go to heaven and receive the title and power at the hands of Him who said, "Sit thou at my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool." Then his kingdom will come as the stone, to smite the kingdoms of this world, break them in pieces, grind them to powder and blow them away as the chaff of the summerís threshing floor. Then the stone kingdom will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth.
To accomplish this great work Christ will come as a man of war and then his servants will fight for divine rights; for they are to "execute vengeance upon the nations and punishment upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all the saints" (Psa. 149: 7-9). "The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord and his name one" (Zec. 14: 9).
In heaven God rules the universe; but to His Son he has promised the earth and a kingdom upon the earth. When the set time arrives, "God shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts , 21).
Rom. --"For the
This text is often
quoted against the literality of the kingdom, and in an effort to prove that
In the confidence which
an intelligent belief of Godís plan of salvation only can beget there is an
experience of peace and joy; but it is not from present conditions apart from
"the hope set before us." "Blessed are they that mourn: for they
shall be comforted" (Matt. 5: 4). "Blessed are ye that hunger now:
for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall
laugh" (Luke ). It is,
therefore, not from present experiences that Christís followers have peace and
joy. It is from the consciousness that the hope which they have come to
possess will be realized in the future. Shut out from view this glorious future
and we should "be of all men the most miserable" (
Now, the true followers
of Christ are commanded to "seek first the kingdom of God and its
righteousness" (Matt. 6: 33); to pray, "Thy kingdom come" (Matt.
6: 10): They are "heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to
them that love him" (Jas. 2: 5); and if they continue faithful to the end
"an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (II. Pet. 1:
11). The great question is therefore one of "putting the hand to the
plow" and not looking back, in order to a fitness for the promised
kingdom. It is, therefore, not a question of meat and drink about which
there were discussions in
HATH TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM
Col. 1: 13--"Who hath delivered us from the powers of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Here is a verse which is supposed by some to prove beyond a doubt that the church is the kingdom, and the two words, "hath" and "into" are sometimes vehemently emphasized when this verse is quoted by the advocates of a church-kingdom, and the "kingdom of grace in the heart" is forgotten; for instead of it proving that the kingdom is "within"--in the heart--it shows that it is something to be entered into, and in this it is in perfect harmony with the general teaching of the Scriptures; the only texts which could in any way favor the grace-in-the-heart-kingdom being Luke 17:21, which we have explained under the heading "The kingdom of God is within you."
There being a willingness to agree, therefore, that the verse in question teaches that the kingdom of God and of His dear Son is one into which the "saints in light" are to enter, the only question to be dealt with is, When does this entrance take place?
The answer generally
given is that it takes place when one enters the church, and it is to sustain
this theory that the word "hath" is emphasized. Now it is always well
to be careful not to build too much upon the tenses in the Scriptures. To the
Author of this wonderful book all is present, for He seeth the end from the
beginning, and he speaks of things that are not as though they were, because
the things that are not and are parts of His purposes are not dependent upon
emergencies; they are as sure of fulfillment as if they had actually come to
pass. It would have been a mistake seven hundred years before Christ was born
to have emphasized the word "is" in the passage, "Unto us a
child is born, unto us a son is given" (Isa. 9: 6)--that is,
for the purpose of proving it to have become a fact then; so with the prophetic
words of Mary: "He hath scattered the proud," "hath put
down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled
the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath
holpen his servant
Coming, however, to the real meaning of the text in question, a little more than a superficial view will show that it in no way sustains the theory of a church kingdom, and surely we ought to expect the religious leaders of the people to go deeper than the surface of a certain translation of a text that seems to contradict the general tenor of the Scriptures. Christ is to "Judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (II. Tim. 4: 1), and it is "when the Son of man shall come" he shall say, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you," etc. (Matt. 25: 31). Now the fact that viewing the words, "hath translated us into the kingdom," as a present reality seems to contradict these and many other passages ought to evoke a close and careful investigation of the verse, even to the extent of a comparison of the different translations. When the question of translation is mentioned some are apt to ape indignation, and they cry out, "There you are, questioning the translation again!" And why not? Why was there a revision a few years ago? Why have our best scholars deemed it necessary to give us translations differing from our Authorized Version? Why do "orthodox" commentaries so frequently correct the translation of the Authorized Version? "But how can common people be expected to look critically into the question of the translation of texts?" Well, there are not many texts needing such careful, critical investigation, and if one is as much in earnest about the meaning of a clause in his title to eternal life in the kingdom of God as he would be about that of a title to a worldly estate he would not consider it too much trouble to go critically and deeply into the investigation of the apparently difficult texts of the Bible. "But what do common people know about Greek and Hebrew?" we are asked. They need not understand Greek and Hebrew to critically examine these matters. They have the meanings of words given by Hebrew and Greek lexicons in English dress. So they can, if they are in earnest, examine the meanings of a given Hebrew and Greek work, as they can an English by the use of an English dictionary. Then, again, they can compare one translation with another, and when they find that the words are by some scholars translated in such form as to be in harmony with the general tenor of Scripture, they can be sure that they have found the solution of the difficulty.
Of late years, Dr. Young, author of Youngís Concordance, has come to be regarded as a very able Greek and Hebrew scholar. In his "Commentary of the Holy Bible, as literally and idiomatically translated out the original languages," he has the following on the passage in question:
"12. [GIVING THANKS.] lit. ĎYe leaping much for joy in the Father, who made us sufficient with a view to the portion of the lot of the hallowed ones in light.í
"13. [HATH.] lit. ĎWho freed us out of the authority of darkness, and set with (them) with a view to the kingdom of the Son of his love.í"
Here the verse is shown to be in perfect harmony with the general teaching of Scripture that entrance into the kingdom is future. We are now "freed out of the authority of darkness with a view to the kingdom." It is to prepare us to be fit for the kingdom that we are brought into the light of the good news of the coming kingdom.
In the Greek the preposition rendered in verse 13 into is the same as in verse 16, next to last word, is rendered for. It is eis in both places. Now, if eis can be rendered for in verse 16 why not in verse 13? It would read quite sensibly, and indeed, put verse 13 in perfect accord with other passages.
The Emphatic Diaglott gives the best rendering of the passage we have ever seen. It agrees with Dr. Youngís in showing that the kingdom is future and shows that "translation" means the change which brings an "alien from the commonwealth of Israel," into Christ, wherein he is an "heir of the kingdom" which God hath promised to them that love him (James 2: 5). Here it is:
12. Giving thanks at the same time to THAT FATHER WHO CALLED and QUALIFIED us for the PORTION of the saintsí INHERITANCE in the LIGHT.
13. Who delivered us from the DOMINION OF DARKNESS, and changed us for the KINGDOM of the SON of His LOVE.
14. By whom we have REDEMPTION, the FORGIVENESS of SINS.
Those the apostle wrote
to, then, had been qualified for the portion of the saintsí inheritance in the
light. They had been changed for, or "with a view to," or in order
Among those the writer has met in public debate, the ministers of the Campbellite church have made the most of this passage, and yet there is a reason why they should be more careful than others in the use they make of the Greek preposition eis. In the many discussions between Baptists and Campbellites on "baptism for the remission of sins," the latter, following their leader, are very emphatic in saying "for, or in order to, the remission of sins" (Acts ). Here we have the same preposition, eis, and it is strange that our Campbellite friends (Christians as they prefer it, we mean no dishonor, only we do not think they are Christians in the sense they use the term), forget this in the verse under consideration. Let them take Mr. Campbellís translation of eis in Acts , and apply it to Col. 1: 13, and read "translated us into (eis, in order to), the kingdom," and then all is clear.
COMPANION IN THE KINGDOM
Rev. 1: 9ó"I, John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."
By this verse there is
an attempt to sustain the theory of a church-kingdom. It is claimed that John
meant that he was, when he wrote these words, in the kingdom as well as in
tribulation, etc. This is a very short-sighted view of the text, and its misuse
in bolstering up a theory goes to show how hard-pressed that theory must be for
support. If to be in the kingdom is a fact when one is in
"tribulation," it cannot be a great boon to be in the kingdom. The
general teaching of Scripture is that to be in the kingdom is to have passed
beyond the reach of tribulation. In the church tribulation is to be expected,
but not in the kingdom. "We must through much tribulation enter into the
Since it is through much
tribulation we must enter into the kingdom, we might safely conclude that when
we are in the kingdom the tribulation is a thing of the past. If one passes
In the form of words of
the text in question it is obvious that John combined the language of fact and
of hope, just as one might exclaim to a friend, "I am your friend in
adversity and in prosperity," or to a comrade, "I am your comrade at
home or on the battle field." It would be a very foolish thing to infer
from these expressions that the friend must be in prosperity and adversity at
the same time, or that the comrades would be at home the same time they would
be on the battlefield. In the time of John he and his companions were passing
through much tribulation, and it was by this that they hoped to enter the
kingdom under the seventh trumpet; for it was not till then that John saw, by
the Spirit, the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of
his Christ (Rev. 11: 15). The tribulation through which they were passing was
the means of discipline; entering the kingdom when Christ shall judge the quick
and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom is the goal. This is the joy that
is set before us to enable us to endure the conflict to the end with a hope
before us shining along the rough and rugged pathway brighter and brighter unto
the perfect day. Our companionship gives a little sweetness mixed with the
bitterness of this evil day; but now even this companionship can last but a
short time when death defiantly severs the closest ties that bind us. At the
end of the journey, however, death will have no power. It will then be a sweet
companionship in the
then shall part from friends no more
Endless as time their joy shall be:
For pain is swallowed up in joy,
And death in victory."