Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- VII. Christ in Resurrection Power [chapter continued, Part 2]
- [The epistles from Galatians through Jude]
- Galatians -- The Cross of Christ
- The error which had crept into the Galatian Church was vital, affecting the foundation of faith. Judaizers had come, introducing legalism and ritual, adding the works of the Law to the pure Gospel of justification through the free grace of God, through faith in Christ.
On account of this, Paul first asserts his apostleship, as derived direct from Christ, and then sets forth the power of the Cross of Christ, in its various aspects, as the only ground of our salvation.
- The power of Christ's Cross to deliver from sin (1:4; 2:21; 3:22).
- The power of Christ's Cross to deliver from the curse of the Law (3:13).
- The power of Christ's Cross to deliver from the self-life (2:20; 5:24).
- The power of Christ's Cross to deliver from the world (6:14).
- The power of Christ's Cross in the new birth (4:4-7).
- The power of Christ's Cross in receiving the Spirit (3:14).
- The power of Christ's Cross in bringing forth the Spirit's fruit (5:22-25).
- Paul describes his own preaching as having so fully set forth the Cross that it was as if they had seen Christ crucified in their midst (3:1). Therefore, he was able to ''minister to them the Spirit'' (3:5). He speaks of ''the offence of the Cross'' (5:11; 6:12), and of bearing the brand marks of Christ in his own body (6:17). He repeats once more his central motto: ''The just shall live by faith'' (3:11).
- Ephesians -- Heavenly Places in Christ
- In this Epistle, the teaching of Paul reaches its spiritual climax. He unfolds God's purpose of blessing to the Church, the body of Christ, redeemed and brought nigh by His blood (1:7; 2:13; 5:23-32), built upon one foundation, an holy temple in the Lord, with no middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile.
Its Key-note is Heavenly Places in Christ.
- The Heavenly place of Blessing (1:3). (Notice the words ''all'' and ''in''.)
Christ the Inheritance of the Church (1:11).
The Church the Inheritance of Christ (1:18).
- The Heavenly place of Power (1:19,20). The same power of God which raised Christ from the dead is to work in the believer.
- The Heavenly place of Rest (2:6). In Christ, we enter our heavenly Canaan here below. This Epistle corresponds with the book of Joshua.
- The Heavenly place of Manifestation (3:10). The Church is to manifest Christ, His riches, wisdom, love, unity and fullness.
- The Heavenly place of Victory (6:12). The ''wiles of the devil'' (6:11), the enmity of the ''prince of the power of the air'' (2:2), is, as we might expect, manifested in this Epistle, and is provided for in the Christian's armour.
- The length and breadth and depth and height of the love of God in Christ comes out in every chapter (1:4,5; 2:4-7; 3:17-19; 4:2-6,15,32; 5:2,25; 6:23,24).
Chapter 2:1-13 is a complete epitome of the Gospel.
Chapter 2:14,15,17, Christ is our Peace. He made peace. He preached peace.
Chapter 3 contains the fullest and deepest of Paul's prayers.
Study the subject of Paul and Prayer thoughout his Epistles.
[For further study of Ephesians, see the Book Notes on Ephesians.]
- Philippians -- Rejoicing in Christ
- This is the Epistle of joy in Christ Jesus. The word joy or rejoice occurs sixteen times. Throughout, it is rejoicing in the midst of tribulation. Thus had Paul rejoiced in the jail at Philippi, when at midnight, with bleeding backs, he and Silas sang praises [Acts 16:25]. Thus he rejoiced now, chained to a Roman soldier, for his very bonds furthered the spread of the Gospel. Thus he exhorted his beloved Philippian converts to rejoice because they were allowed to suffer for Christ (1:29). He rejoiced in his converts, his joy and crown (4:1). In their growth (1:3-6). In their again ministering to his necessities, even in Rome (4:10-19). Above all he rejoiced in Christ (4:4).
Chapter 2:5-11 describes the grace of Christ, the eternal Son of God, descending, step by step to the death of the Cross for our salvation, and His glorious exaltation to eternal glory and universal homage.
Chapter 3 contains the heart of the Epistle. Paul first counted all things but loss for Christ, and then actually suffered the loss of all things for Him, to be found in Him, and to know the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.
[For further study of Philippians, see the Book Notes on Philippians.]
- Colossians -- Christ our Head
- The real dangers which threatened the Church at Colosse-- the deceitful philosophy of the Gnostics which set God on one side, [and gave itself to] worship of angels, legalism, forced asceticism-- called forth this marvellous description of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians dwells on the Church, the body; Colossians on Christ the Head.
- Christ is the image of the invisible God, the Son of His love (1:13),
the abode of His fulness (1:15,19; 2:3,9).
- Christ is the sovereign Creator of the universe (1:16,17).
- He is from all eternity, and has all pre-eminence (1:17).
- He is the Reconciler of the universe through the blood of His Cross (1:20-22,14; 2:14).
- He is the Head of all principality and power (2:10,15).
- He is the Head of the body, the Church (1:18,24; 2:19; 3:4).
- He is All in All (3:11).
- The Church's position is united to Christ, complete in Him, dead, buried, risen with Him; therefore she is to put off the old and to put on the new (1:27; 2:10,12; 3:1-10).
Like Paul's other Epistles, the doctrinal section is followed by practical rules for daily life. As if he said, ''Here is the principle, now see how it works out.''
[For further study of Colossians, see the Book Notes on Colossians.]
- 1 and 2 Thessalonians -- Christ our Hope
- The personal coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ is the hope of the Church, and the main subject of both of these Epistles, being mentioned in every chapter.
- Christ's Coming an incentive to conversion (ch. 1:9,10).
- This was mainly a Gentile Church; they turned to God from idols to serve the living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.
- Christ's Coming an incentive to faithful ministry (ch. 2:19,20).
- Paul's conduct had commended his preaching.
The Thessalonians became an eager Missionary Church.
- Christ's Coming an incentive to Christian love (ch. 3:12,13).
- They were already ''taught of God to love one another'' (4:9);
but Paul's prayer for an increase of that love was answered (2The 1:3).
- Christ's Coming the ground of comfort in bereavement (ch. 4:13-16).
- When Christ comes, those, that have fallen asleep [ie., died] believing in Him, will be the first to rise to meet Him. The majesty of His Coming is set forth. Compare 1Cor 15:51,52.
- Christ's Coming an incentive to watchfulness (ch. 5:4-6). Compare Mark 13:33-37
- Christ's Coming an incentive to holiness (ch. 5:23,24). Compare 2Peter 3:14
- Christ's Coming supplies comfort under persecution (ch. 1:7-10).
- ''Rest with us.'' This was a much persecuted Church.
This passage also foretells the judgment of the impenitent.
- Christ's Coming in connection with the growth of apostasy (ch. 2)
- and revelation of the man of sin [ie., the antichrist, the beast, Rev 13:1-8; 19:11-21], who shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming.
- Practical preparation for His Coming (ch. 3:5).
- 1 and 2 Timothy -- The Doctrine of Christ
- 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are ''Pastoral Epistles,'' addressed to ministers in charge of important Churches. Both Timothy and Titus seem never to have disappointed the full trust Paul reposed in them. Timothy, young and sensitive, is exhorted to endure hardness and fight the good fight of faith, and to be an ensample to the believers.
- A pure Gospel. Paul emphasizes the need of true doctrine. The false teaching of the first century which Timothy was exhorted to arrest, bears a close resemblance to that of the twentieth century.
- A pure Worship. Teaching with regard to prayer, etc.
- A faithful Ministry. The supreme duty of devotion to the Lord's service.
An unqualified promise (1Tim 4:16).
- The importance and authority of the Scriptures. (1Tim 6:3; 2Tim 3:15-17; 4:1-4).
- Christ our Saviour (1Tim 1:15; 2:3; 4:10).
- Christ our Mediator (2:5).
- Christ our Ransom (2:6).
- Christ our Teacher (6:3).
- Christ our King (6:15).
- Christ our Captain (2Tim 2:3).
- The second Epistle to Timothy is of special interest as being the last Paul wrote, written from the dungeon in Rome, in the near expectation of his execution. His zeal and faith are unabated. He is able to say: ''I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.''
These two Epistles contain prophecies of coming peril for the professing Church:
- 1Tim 4:1-5, bearing a close resemblance to the errors of the Church of Rome;
- 2Tim 3:1-5, probably relating to the great apostasy of the last days before the Coming of our Lord, and giving a photographic picture of the evils of our own day.
[For further study of Paul's letters to Timothy, see the Book Notes on 1Timothy and 2Timothy.]
- Titus -- Christ our Saviour
- This Epistle was addressed to Titus, the Bishop of Crete, a hard post (1:12,13). To him had been committed the difficult task of settling the differences at Corinth (2Cor 2:13; 12:18; 7:6-15). Paul's second Epistle to the Corinthians proves how successfully he had accomplished the mission.
The Epistle deals - - with the qualifications of a Bishop or Elder (ch. 1);
- - with the need of sound doctrine (ch. 2);
- - with the need of good works (ch. 3).
The words ''God our Saviour'' and ''Christ our Saviour'' both occur in the same order in each of the three chapters of this Epistle, as if to emphasize the deity of our Lord.
The Epistle embodies two rich and comprehensive outlines of salvation by grace (2:11-14; 3:4-8).
Chapter 2:11-14, God's grace brings salvation (v.11).
- Past -- Christ gave Himself to redeem us from all iniquity (v.14).
- Present -- To purify unto Himself a peculiar people ''zealous of good works'' (v. 14,12).
- Future -- ''Looking for the appearance of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.'' (v.13)
- Christ's personal, pre-millennial Coming, of which Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about thirteen years before, was still his blessed hope as he neared the close of his life.
See also 1Tim 6:14 and 2Tim 4:8 (almost his last word).
[For further study of Titus, see the Book Notes on Titus.]
- Philemon -- The Bonds of Christ
- This beautiful personal letter from God's aged servant, in bonds for the Gospel, foreshadows the time when the bonds of Christ's love should break the bonds of slavery.
The story it contains ''is an exquisite picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ does. He not only intercedes for us with Him from whom we have departed, and against whom we have sinned; but, knowing to the full how much we have wronged God, and how much we owe Him, He says, 'Put that on Mine account'.'' (F.R. Havergal, Morning Bells)
- Hebrews -- Christ our High Priest
- The glories of our Saviour are exhibited in this Epistle; it is one of the most precious books in the Bible. It has been called ''The Fifth Gospel.'' Four describe Christ's ministry on earth, this describes His ministry in heaven.
It was written to Hebrew disciples, probably of Jerusalem, to avert the danger of their drifting back into Judaism. They are exhorted to let go everything else, in order to hold fast the faith and hope of the Gospel. The Epistle is attributed to Paul, and though many question this, there is abundance of evidence in its favor. To give one example only, the concluding salutation, ''Grace be with you all,'' is Paul's ''sign-manual'' in every Epistle.
The Key-note is the High-Priesthood of the Lord Jesus.
- Christ - better than the angels both in His deity and His humanity (ch. 1, 2).
- Christ - better than Moses (ch. 3).
- Christ - better than Joshua (ch. 4).
- Christ - better than Aaron (ch. 5, 6, 7).
- A better Covenant (ch. 8).
- A better Tabernacle (ch. 9).
- A better Sacrifice (ch. 10).
- Examples of Faith's better choice (ch. 11).
- Call to follow this glorious company and the great Captain Himself,
in the path of outward loss for eternal gain (ch. 12).
- Call to go forth unto Him without the camp bearing His reproach (ch. 13).
- Christ's twofold nature. Perhaps no other short space in the Bible so emphasizes both our Lord's deity and humanity as chapters 1 and 2. As our great High Priest, Christ is able to understand all our need, because He is perfect Man. He is able to meet all our need, because He is perfect God.
The central point is Christ's eternal Priesthood and all-availing sacrifice for sin. The Epistle dwells upon the supreme importance and power of the blood of Christ in obtaining eternal redemption for us, in purging the conscience, in opening to us the heavenly sanctuary.
Throughout this Epistle, we note that whatever Christ touches He makes eternal. Trace the word ''eternal'' throughout. Also the words-- Perfect -- Once -- Blood -- Without -- Better, and the expression ''We have... therefore let us...''
[For further study of Hebrews, see the Book Notes on Hebrews.]
- James -- The Law of Christ for Daily Life
- This beautiful Epistle of holy living was possibly the first of the New Testament writings, a patriarchal letter, addressed to the twelve tribes, reminding us of some Hebrew prophet in its denunciation of the oppression of the rich, [and] the hire of the laborers kept back by those who give themselves up to live in pleasure.
It is a superficial reading of Paul and James which counts them to be at variance as to the relative importance of faith and works. Paul uses the word justify in the sense of ''acquitted,'' ''accounted righteous.'' James uses it in the sense of being proved righteous by the works which are the result of faith.
It is a remarkable fact that while Paul uses the expression ''rich in good works'' (1Tim 6:18), James uses ''rich in faith'' (Jam 2:5). James exalts faith; its trial worketh patience (1:3); his Epistle opens and closes with strong encouragement to pray the prayer of faith (1:6; 5:14-18). He exposes the spurious faith which does not produce works by the question so emphatically rendered in the R.V. ''Can that faith save him?'' (2:14). Paul is one with him in this, when he says we are ''created in Christ Jesus unto good works'' (Eph 2:10).
James compares God's Word to a mirror, revealing the natural depravity of the heart of man [1:22-27]. His description of the sins of the tongue is unequalled [ch. 3] : ''The tongue can no man tame''; but God can, for He can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2Cor 10:5).
- 1 and 2 Peter -- Christ our Precious Corner Stone
- These are the Epistles of joy in suffering. 1Peter chiefly the suffering of persecution; 2Peter chiefly the suffering of temptation and of the surrounding apostasy. He speaks of himself as a witness of the sufferings of Christ (1Pet 5:1), and as an eye-witness of His majesty (2Pet 1:16); of partaking of Christ's sufferings, and partaking of His glory (1Pet 4:13; 5:1).
Peter dwells on the sufferings of Christ and the sufferings of His followers. He to whom our Lord gave the commission ''Feed My sheep'' [John 21:15-17], delights in this Epistle to speak of Christ the Chief Shepherd (1Pet 2:25; 5:4), and of His servants as under-shepherds (5:2,3).
He speaks of Christ the precious Corner Stone, and of believers as living stones in the same Temple (1Pet 2:4-8). By implication, he speaks of Christ as our great High Priest, by whom we offer spiritual sacrifices, and [he speaks] of the royal priest-hood of all believers (1Pet 2:5,9).
Peter brings out very fully the atoning work of Christ through His death, and precious blood shed for us (1Pet 1:18-20; 2:24; 3:18; 2Pet 1:4; 2:20), and he closes his writings where Paul, in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, began -- the blessed hope of the Coming of the Lord (2Pet 3).
He throws radiant light on the inspiration of the Scriptures (see 1Pet 1:10-12; 2Pet 1:4,16-21; 3:15,16). He also includes Paul's writings under the same title as the Old Testament Scriptures, and shows that he wrote not in his own wisdom, but by wisdom given from above.
Note the use of the word Precious in both Epistles.
[For further study of Peter's epistles, see the Book Notes on 1 & 2 Peter.]
- 1John -- Fellowship with Christ
- John wrote his Gospel in order that men might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life through His name (John 20:31).
He wrote this Epistle in order that those who believe on Christ might know that they have eternal life (1Joh 5:9-13).
Consequently, as we find the word believe running through and characterizing the Gospel, so here we have the word know running through this Epistle.
John gives the evidence for his own knowledge, that he has heard and seen and handled the Word of Life -- Christ Jesus [1:1,2]. He seeks to bring his hearers into intimate knowledge and fellowship with the Father and the Son, that their joy may be full (1:3,4,7; 2:13,14).
This fellowship rests on salvation through the atoning work of Christ
(1:7,9; 2:1,2,12; 3:5,16; 4:9,10,14; 5:11-13).
It is received by faith (3:23; 5:1,13).
This faith results:
- In the new birth (2:29; 3:1,2,9; 4:7; 5:1).
- In forgiveness of sins (1:7,9; 2:12).
- In deliverance from the power of sin (1:6; 2:1,6; 3:3,5,6,9; 5:18).
- In deliverance from the love of the world (2:15; 5:4,5).
- In victory over the devil (2:13,14; 3:8; 4:4).
- In keeping [the Lord's] commandments (2:3-8; 5:2,3).
- In love of the brethren (2:9-11; 3:10-19,23; 4:7,8,11,12,20,21).
- In the fulness of the Holy Spirit (2:20,27; 3:24; 4:2,13; 5:6).
- In Divine enlightenment and knowledge, by which we may know truth from error (2:20,21,27; 4:1-3,6; 5:20).
- In answered prayer (3:21,22; 5:14-16).
- 2John and 3John -- Christ the Truth
- The words truth and true occur twelve times in these two short personal Epistles. Both distinguish between the Truth and the errors which had already spread so widely in the Church, against which John warns his friends in the strongest terms.
- Jude -- Christ our Keeper
- First, we are to keep the faith. ''Contend earnestly (the word is the same as strive, agonize in Luk 13:24) for the faith once for all delivered to the saints'' (v.3, R.V.).
Second, we are to keep ourselves in the love of God, that He may be able to keep us (v.21). Jude uses the word kept ironically in verse 6: the angels which kept not their first estate are kept in chains unto judgment. In verse 13, the same word kept is used: to sinners is kept the blackness of darkness for ever.
Third, the Lord is able to keep us from falling [v.24]. It is a stronger word used here, guard, showing Christ's power to protect us from the perils Jude has been enumerating, and, finally, to present us faultless before the presence of His glory in that great day.
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