The Sacred Scrolls of the Scriptures
THE EPISTLES OF JOHN
THE NATIONS, or “Gentiles,” are mentioned only three times in the Circumcision Epistles (1 Peter 2:12; 4:3; 3 John 7). These instances are enough to confirm the fact that these letters are not intended for the nations but were written to the Circumcision. Peter speaks of them as being “among the nations” and John deepens the distinction by the declaration “getting nothing from those of the nations.” This is the outlook all through John’s epistles. The present interval of grace as ministered by the apostle Paul is entirely overlooked by John. True, he does take in the whole world, but it is in accord with the prophets, with Israel as the channel of blessing. “He is the propitiatory shelter concerned with our sins, yet not concerned with ours only but concerned with the whole world also” (1 John 2:2).
The emphatic force of the word ours is seen by its use in the book of Acts: our tongues (Acts 2:11), our law (Acts 24:6), our religion (Acts 26:5). It is not that Christ is the Propitiation for the sinner as well as the saint, but for the world beyond the pale of Judaism, to which the propitiation had hitherto been confined. All the salient truths of the present period are in direct contrast to the teachings of John and not a little confusion has come from the persistent attempt to fit them to our experience today. We do not know Christ after the flesh (2 Cor.5:16). John insists on this relationship at the very outset and refers to it again and again. Unlike the apostle Paul, who never saw the Lord before His glorification, John testified to that which he had heard, and had seen with his eyes, and his hands had handled (1 John 1:1).
In accord with this, John teaches regeneration (1 John 3:9; 5:1) as the Lord Himself had done, whereas we are subjects of a new creation (2 Cor.5:17). All the grave difficulties which have arisen concerning the sin unto death (1 John 5:16), the sinlessness of the regenerate (1 John 3:9) and the promise to answer all petitions (1 John 5:15) will vanish when we apply these to the period to which they appertain and not to the present transcendent grace.
Jude introduces himself as the brother of James, and exhorts his readers to remember the words spoken by the apostles of the Lord (v17). It is a fitting prelude to the Judgment scenes which follow in the next scroll. It is the final warning against the apostates who have found their way into the company of those who had been hallowed by God the Father and are preserved in Jesus Christ. It will have a fitting fulfillment in the times portrayed in the seven letters to the ecclesias as they appear in the Unveiling.
THE UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST
Perhaps the title of no other scroll voices so much of its contents as the opening words of this book. It tell that the lowly One, Who is hidden in the heavens, is about to be publicly manifested to the earth. The title “Christ” is the key to the characters in which He will be unveiled, first as Prophet, then as King and then as Priest.
It is the closing scroll of the Circumcision series. All that the prophets foretold, all the hopes and aspirations contained in all the scriptures, outside Paul’s epistles, find their fruition in this final unfolding. The coming of the Lord to earth, the reign of Israel’s saints for a thousand years as kings and priests and the promise of a new earth are all fulfilled in its visions.
The fact that it was given to God’s slaves through John, corresponds with the viewpoint maintained throughout. Israel is first and foremost. The nations are subordinate. They will be ruled with a club of iron (Rev.12:5). Even in the new earth they will bring their glory and honor into the new Jerusalem.
Thus ends the series written to the Circumcision. From the earliest promise to make Israel a priest kingdom, to reign over the other nations and to bring them near to Him, this purpose is steadily kept in view, notwithstanding their failure and apostasy. Never is there the slightest hint of the nations receiving anything from Yahweh apart from their mediacy. This was a secret reserved for us, which we shall never truly appreciate unless we also apprehend Israel’s priority on the earth.
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