THE GLORY OF THE SON OF GOD
WE have considered the contrast between the Old and New Dispensation, which is brought before us in the words of the first and second verses, God speaking in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, and God speaking in these last days*[I] unto us by His Son. When the apostle arrives at that word, “by His Son," he has reached the central and culminating point of all the revelations of God. The Son of God has come. In this all things are summed up. For what other purpose could the Son of God come but for salvation? Judgment, the preaching of the law, mere teaching, are works indeed high and important, but which may be executed by any creature chosen and sent by God. The message of law needs only human and angelic mediators. But when the Son of God Himself comes, surely it must be for the purpose of a new-creation; it must be for the purpose of the manifestation of infinite love and boundless compassion, bringing deliverance and life. Again, if the gift is salvation, who else can bring it but the Son of God? Prophets have announced the will of God. Moses has declared unto us His holy commandments. By the law cometh the knowledge of sin and condemnation. By the prophets is kindled the hope of redemption. But no man, no angel, no creature, can restore us. If we know the depths of the fall, we know also the grandeur of the remedy that is needed. As soon as we hear the Son of God is come, we may expect salvation ; as soon as it is announced to us that salvation is to appear, we may expect none but the Most High can bring it ; for Jehovah is Redeemer; He only is our salvation. Not like a gift from heaven, as sunshine, and rain, and bread ; not as a servant, or angel, or messenger, does Jesus come to this earth, but the Son of the Father, equal with Him in glory and majesty ; the Lord from heaven, unto whom all things belong, who abideth in the house for evermore. Thus was it that the apostle Paul, from the very commencement of his Christian life, from the very moment of his conversion, saw these two ideas combined. He is Lord from heaven above all; He is Jesus, who died for the sinner, and identifies Himself with the church. And therefore, throughout all his epistles, as throughout the whole experience of the children of God, these two wonderful facts are seen together. How can we sufficiently adore Him who is the Son of God! How can we sufficiently love Him who shed His precious blood to deliver us!
The moment he says "the Son," the apostle has reached a mountain-height from which a vast and most extensive view opens before his eye. We are accustomed, in the epistles of the apostle Paul, to have him take us, with the mighty wings of faith and love, unto high, lofty peaks, and show unto us the wonderful land of Immanuel, boundless and infinite, as well as full of beauty and sweetness, and perpetual harvest.
Thus is it in the epistle to the Ephesians, where he begins by ascribing praise to God the Father, who bath "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Having gained this wonderful position, " with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places," he shows unto us the eternity before the foundation of the world, when God chose us in Him; and he points out to us the ages that are to come, when God shall be glorified in Christ Jesus, and in the church whom He has given unto His Son, when we who first trusted in Christ shall be to the praise of the glory of His grace. Thus is it in the epistle to the Colossians (chap. Col 1:14-29). The moment he speaks of the redemption which we have through faith in the blood of Jesus, He opens unto us the glory of the Lord Jesus who died for us, and leads us back to the very beginning of things, when all things were made in Him, and to the end of things, when all things shall be summed up in Him. God's eternity has become our home. All things are ours, because in Jesus we behold the Son of God.
But accustom yourselves always, when you hear of Jesus, to think of Him as divine and human —two natures in one person. When you hear of the Son of God, think of that glorious and loving One who was born of the Virgin Mary ; who lived for thirty-three years upon earth in poverty and lowliness; who died upon the accursed tree; who rose with the self-same body out of the grave, and appeared unto His disciples, and spoke unto them, and ate with them broiled fish and of an honeycomb ; who ascended in His body into heaven, and who shall so come again—the man Christ Jesus, the Son of God—to reign upon the throne of His father David, and to show forth the majesty and the love of God throughout all His creation.
It is of the incarnate Son of God that the apostle speaks; and showing unto us His glory, he leads us, in the first place, to the end of all history, He Is appointed the heir of all things ; (2) to the beginning of all history, in Him God made the ages; (3) b fore all history, He is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His being; (4) throughout all history, He upholdeth all things by the word of His power,
(I) The end of all history. The Father has appointed the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, the heir of all things. Him, the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, the theocratic Son, the Messiah ; not in His abstract Deity, but as the Son who be-came man ; as the Word made flesh ; as the Lord God, visiting and redeeming His people ; as the Son who became the servant to fulfill all Jehovah's good pleasure. Thus He promised unto Abraham that his seed should be the heir. Thus He promised unto the Son of David, who is also David's Lord, and the only-begotten of the Father. “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for thy possession." He ratified it through all the prophets; and finally the angel who appeared unto the Virgin Mary declares unto her that the holy child shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Judah for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. The Father hath appointed Him, in the everlasting covenant, according to the good pleasure of His will, in the infinite love and delight which He had to Him who is His equal, to be “heir of all things." What great expressions these are in Scripture! What wonderful conceptions, far transcending any-thing that men ever could have imagined!
The Old Testament speaks of heaven and earth, summing up all things by these two words. The New Testament speaks of the creation of God—all things which He by the word of His power and in His wisdom hath called forth; or it speaks of the ages—ages upon ages, worlds upon worlds, in which the manifold fullness of the divine thoughts come gradually into existence. All things He hath given unto Jesus to inherit; *[II] as the Messiah, the theocratic Son, according to the promise to the fathers, and this only on the basis of His eternal and essential Sonship. Because He is the Son of God, therefore is He the Messiah. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hands." According to His deity there is no necessity for any gift, reward, or transfer. Ac-cording to His deity incarnate, the Messiah, in the everlasting covenant, is appointed Heir, and all things are given into His hand.
What are these “all things "? It is clear that there is nothing excepted that is not given unto
Him. So said the risen Saviour,—" All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth." In His intercessory prayer before His sufferings He had said, “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh." This is the first thing. - The whole human race is given unto Him. Since He took upon Him our flesh and blood, God has given unto Him the whole human race—power over all flesh. And out of this whole human race, which belongs unto Him by eternal right, and by the right of His incarnation, by the right of His perfect and holy humanity, by the right of His unspeakable love, and of His death,—out of this whole world of humanity God has chosen in Him a people, that the Son should give eternal life to "as many as thou hast given Him." "Thine they were, and thou gayest them me." All these are His in a special sense. That innumerable multitude which no man can number from among all nations, peoples, and kindreds, and tongues—the chosen family in whom God has manifested His love, who have been renewed by the Holy Ghost, who have been washed in the blood of Jesus, who have been trained, educated, sanctified—all the lively stones, who by the Spirit have been built on the only foundation, who have been chiselled, beautified, perfected by the all - loving Divine Spirit, through experiences and sufferings most precious, appointed by perfect wisdom and grace, who have become the members of His wonderful mystical body, they all are His. He not merely rules over them; He lives, He moves in them. He thinks, and they think; He feels, and they feel. His will is the power which energizes in them. As a man who is in perfect health and strength has control over all the members of his body, so the whole church is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, each member in his separate sphere, each according to his peculiar preparation and gift of nature and grace, each shadowing forth some feature of Christ's beauty, and echoing some syllable of the Divine Word—all perfect, all beautiful—organized into one harmonious, living, and glorious whole—" the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." They belong unto Jesus. God has given us unto Him as His inheritance.
And this church Jesus Christ has obtained as the first and central part of His inheritance. As the material sun is placed in the firmament to be a source of light and heat and joy unto the rest of the creation of God, so God appoints the church to be the first-fruits of His creatures—the body of Christ, wherewith He influences and blesses, whereby He guides and controls all things. Even over angels they shall rule: even unto powers and principalities more ancient and majestic than our race He shows forth by them the good pleasure of His will and the fullness of His counsel and love. And the material creation which God hath made in Jesus Christ He hath also given unto His Son, that Jesus, through the glorified church, and by the angels in heavenly places, as well as through Israel and the nations dwelling on earth, should be glorified in the whole realm, which is His portion and His inheritance. How rich is our adorable Jesus! The blessed Lord, when He was upon the cross, had nothing. 'He had not where to lay His head; even His very garments were taken from Him. He was buried in a grave which belonged not to Him or to His family. On earth He was poor to the very last; none so absolutely poor as He. He rose again, and then declared that all power is given unto Him by the Father in heaven and in earth. He has appointed Him the "heir of all things." As man, He is to inherit all things; as Jesus, God and man in one person. All angels, all human beings upon the earth, all powers in the universe, when asked, "Who is Lord of all?" will answer, "Jesus, the Son of Mary." Our poor earth, Bethlehem-Ephratah, little amidst the thou-sands of this world, has been chosen that out of us should come He who is the heir of all things.
"All things." Nothing shall be lost. You re-member that apparently startling word in the par-able of the talents, "Take from him that hath the one talent, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents." What is the meaning of it? What-ever has been dispensed in the kingdom of grace—whatever seed has gone forth from the divine sower—whatever thought, whatever beauty, what-ever element that is valuable, and good, and true—can never be lost. The unfaithfulness of man will never lose it to Jesus and to His beloved church. It must remain in the family; it must be secure and permanent. The one talent that the unfaithful steward did not use is not to be wasted and to be lost unto the commonwealth ; but it is to enrich the chosen people ; for all things are given unto Jesus. He has appointed Him heir of all things.
And lest any one should mistake or misinterpret the truth of God, as if any passage in Scripture encouraged the hope that all beings should be finally brought unto happiness and into the love of God, let us remember that the "all things" includes also that dark and fearful region of which we know so little (enough only to be filled with terror and dismay)—that awful region where the light and the love of God can never penetrate, where there is uttermost darkness. Even under the earth, in hell, in the abyss, Jesus has power. (Phil. 2.) He has power over death, and shall ultimately destroy it. He has power over Satan, and shall ultimately bruise him under our feet, banish him and imprison him where he can no more send forth the influences of sin and of injury. And all everywhere—friends and foes, saved and lost .--shall acknowledge that Jesus is Lord; for He who has power in heaven and on earth has also the keys of Hades and of death. He is "appointed heir of all things."
All things are His. And this is so natural; because, in the second place, God has made all ages," or” all worlds," *[III] by Him. It is natural that He who is the Alpha should also be the Omega. Scripture teaches us creation as the work of the triune God. God is triune, and therefore in everything that God does we behold the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. You read, in the first article of the creed, of “God, the Creator of heaven and earth;" in the second, of Jesus as the Redeemer; in the third, of the Holy Ghost. But as in Jesus, the Redeemer, we must behold the Father, even as we receive through Him the Holy Ghost; as when we speak of the Holy Ghost we must behold the Father and the Son, of whom the Spirit testifies, and by whom He is sent; so when we think of the Creator, we must not think merely of the Father, but we must think of the Word by whom and the Spirit through whom all things were made. "The Word was with God," equal with God, and in love and continual intercourse and communion with the Father. And this Word was the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3.; Col. 1.), Himself eternal and uncreated ; that is to say, in the Son of God all the creation was planned and summed up from all eternity. In Him was life; in Him was light; and God in Him beheld all things that were to come into existence. He is before all things (not merely as before and above time, but) as the idea and cause of all things. He is that eternal wisdom of which we read in the book of Proverbs, which was with God before the foundations of the world were laid. God has made all things by Christ according to Christ, and for Christ. What more natural, then, that He by whom and in whom all things were made should be also the inheritor of all things?
(3) But the apostle goes still further. Before all history He is "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His being." Wherever He looks He sees Christ, the light. Without Christ, there is darkness. Think of the end of history, and you are lost in amazement; think of the beginning of the world, and you are lost in ignorance; think of before the beginning, and you are altogether lost in an element transcendent and incomprehensible, because it is not for our finite minds to contemplate such wondrous heights until the heavenly, divine light of revelation comes to our aid. And who is the light? Christ is the light. The eternal, infinite God reveals Himself in Christ. The Son is the light, which maketh manifest; God is manifest in Him. Christ is "the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His being." By the glory of God, His own inapproachable, infinite light is understood.*[IV] We must not imagine that Jesus Christ is the light illumining something which is not light; for God is light. The Father is light, yet not to us without the mediation of the light, which is Christ. Without Christ He is darkness by excess of brightness. It is because that Sun is so exceeding glorious, so exceeding bright, so exceedingly unbearable in its majesty, that it shines forth in another sun—and yet not another, but one with Him—which God, in His wonderful wisdom and power, hath given unto all worlds; that in this sun they may behold the brightness, the effulgence, the outflow of His glory. The glory of the God of Israel appeared between the cherubim; the tabernacle itself was called the glory; and when the tabernacle was removed, God's people exclaimed, " Ichabod"— the glory has departed. These were symbols, but when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, we beheld the glory of the only-begotten—the glory of God in the face of His Son Jesus Christ.*[V]
And this brightness of the glory is the express, substantial, true, living image of His being; so that he that seeth the Son seeth the Father. In Jesus we behold infinite power, wisdom, goodness, holiness, compassion, truth. All things that are in the Father are in the Son. The divine sub-stance is revealed to us in the Son, who is the image of the invisible God. It is as the Son that the eternal life, which was with the Father, was manifested unto us. He who declares unto us God, whom none hath seen, the Word, is God (John 1:1.), He is truth, substance; and the beloved disciple testifies of Him: He is the true God and eternal life.
And as the Lord Jesus is the heir, the end and consummation of all things and the beginning of all things, and the eternal Word before all things, the apostle Paul tells us (4) that throughout the course of history, in providence, he beareth all things with the word of his power.*[VI] If it was not for Jesus and for the atonement, if it was not for the Lamb foreordained from the foundation of the world, the history of this world would never have been continued after the fall of man. The reason why God in patience and long-suffering continues the ages, delays judgment, and sends forth the gracious and life-sustaining influences of His Spirit to arrest the process of decay and disintegration ushered in by sin, is that Jesus the Lord is the restorer; and it is the good pleasure of the Father's will to reconcile in Him all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross. But not merely are all things upheld for the sake of Christ, but also through and in Him. He by whom all things were made is the life of all things. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I also work." He is the inherent energy, truth and beauty of all things. He is as it were the spirit, the symmetry, the logic and substance of all that exists. By Him princes rule and senators decree justice. In Him every truth is rooted. By Him everything that is firm stands. By Him all things are continued; for He is the Word of God—the expression of the eternal thoughts and truths of the Most High.
Although the history of Israel is in many respects unique, yet it is also to be viewed as a specimen of the history of all mankind. If we had an inspired record of the history of nations, we should see that in all history Christ is the centre and the moving as well as the upholding power. Moses saw from the beginning that the heathen would not possess this light of knowledge, and would ascribe to themselves what is manifestly only the work of Jehovah. (Deut. 32:27-38.) Thus it happened literally in the case of Ashur, which ought to have recognized the hand of Jehovah in their victory over the surrounding nations and their gods, as well as over Israel and Juda, but who ascribed glory to themselves, and boasted in their praise. (Isaiah 10: 8-15.) The examples of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus show how the heathen might have traced the guidance of Jehovah in their own history." *[VII] I t is easy for us to see how the great victories of the Greeks, by which they conquered the Eastern Power, before which the whole world trembled, how the establishment of the Roman Empire, and the unity and communication thereby established among many nations—how all the great movements of the past were subservient to the spread of Christ's gospel and the gathering of His church. All nations must be evangelized (Matt. 24:14) ; and hence doors, which for centuries seemed hopelessly closed, are opened through events which apparently are quite secular in origin and spirit, but which are only instrument; in the hands of Him who openeth, and no man shutteth. *[VIII]
It is the Lord Jesus who is moving all things, carrying on by His wisdom and power the development and progress of all things, restraining and overruling, guiding and blessing, that the purpose of God may be accomplished, and that ultimately the kingdom may come.
Christ is Lord of all. The whole universe centers in Him. A star appears at the time of the Messiah's advent. The sun loses his splendor when Jesus Christ dies upon the cross. There shall be again wonders and signs in the heavens when the Son of man shall come in power. In the material world we know that there have been many and great cycles of development. And both science and revelation teach us to look forward to a new earth. It is the Lord Jesus who shall make all things new. And all developments are borne up and moved by the word of His power. Oh, I know that the general conception which the world has of Jesus is that He is Lord of a spiritual realm, of thought and sentiment, bishop and head of ministers and pastors for edifying souls! But the world does not know that He is moving all things by the word of His power; that all politics, all statesmanship, all history, all physics, all art, all science, everything that is—all that has substance, truth, beauty, all things apart from that cancer of sin which has attached itself to it, consist by Jesus the Son of God.
Now, when the apostle has given us this idea of the wonderful glory of the Lord Jesus, the Son whom God has appointed Heir of all things, by whom He has made the worlds, who is " the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His being," who " upholdeth " and moveth "all things by the word of His power," He continues by stating something still more marvelous. Why has this wonderful and glorious being, in whom all things are summed up, and who is before all things the Father's delight and the Father's glory ; why has this infinite light, this infinite power, this in-finite majesty, come down to our poor earth? For what purpose ? To shine? To show forth the splendor of His majesty? To teach heavenly wisdom? To rule by His just and holy might? No! He came to purge our sins. What height of glory! What depth of abasement! Infinite is His majesty, and infinite is His self-humiliation, and the depth of His love. What a glorious Lord! And what an awful sacrifice of unspeakable love, to purge our sins by Himself!
Sin has brought Him down from heaven. Our defilement has drawn Him from the height of His glory. Oh, what an expression, what a climax! “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His being, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins."
Sin may be viewed as a transgression of God's good, just, and holy law, deserving punishment, and bringing down the curse of God. Sin may be viewed as a disease unto death which requires healing. Sin is also defilement, and this view seems both the deepest and the most painful. Here perhaps we see most clearly and feel most painfully the difficulty, the utter impossibility, as far as man or angel is concerned, of being delivered from sin, and brought nigh unto the source of life, love, and blessedness.
Sin is a great and heavy burden. It is a departure from the Father's house into a far country. It is ingratitude and rebelliousness, yea, even hatred of God. Power can lift and remove a burden. Compassion can seek the wayward and lost sheep, and follow it across hill, and moor, and wilderness until it finds it. Grace can stoop to declare unto an enemy the message of peace and good will. But sin is defilement. It is that which is loathsome to God, which fills His inmost being with repulsion. Think of our sins as defilement. Think of their number, of their heinousness! Who will remove this fearful and utterly loath-some iniquity which separates us hopelessly and infinitely from God in His holy and righteous love? Who will touch the leprosy? Who can take it out of the way, and cleanse the sinners, so that they appear pure and spotless in God's sight? The Son of God came to make the purification of our sins; and this, oh marvel of marvels! By Himself. Not like the high priest in Israel, offering something as a sacrifice; not with the blood, the life of another, but by Himself. He came into contact with this sin. He was the only one who could properly understand the true nature, depth, and guilt of sin. God of God, Son of the Father, He perfectly sympathized with the Father in His loathing and abhorrence of sin; but having befriended us, and having become one with us, He could not bear the thought of our being lost. So this loathsomeness of our iniquity, as loathsome to Jesus as to the Father, He takes upon Himself, as Joshua the high priest is seen by the prophet Zechariah. Jesus, perfect in His love to the holy and righteous Father, perfect in His love to the sinful and guilty people whom He came to save, with infinite hatred of sin and with infinite love of the sinner, enters, alone and unassisted, into that awful wilderness where, as our substitute and sin-bearer, He feels the Father's face turned away from Him. As the expression of His agony, in which faith and love endured all things and triumphed, He utters the cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Then Jesus the Son of God purged by Himself our sins.
The manner and power of this purification form the subject of this whole epistle. But in this short expression, “By Himself He purged our sins," all is summed up. By Himself: the Son of God, the eternal Word in humanity. Himself: the priest, who is sacrifice, yea, altar, and every-thing that is needed for full and real expiation and reconciliation. Here is fulfilled what was pre-figured on the day of atonement, when an atonement was made for Israel, to cleanse them from all sin, that they may be clean from all their sins before the Lord. (Lev. 16:30.) Thus our great High Priest saith unto us, Ye are clean this day before God from all your sins. He is the fulfillment and reality, because He is the Son of God. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1John 1: 7.) The church is purchased by the blood of Him who is God. (Acts 20:28, with His own blood.) Behold the perfection of the sacrifice in the infinite dignity of the incarnate Son !*[IX]
Sin is taken away. Oh, what a wonderful thing is this ! When once you see that Jesus the Son of God died upon the cross, and purged your sins, and that because of His obedience unto death God hath exalted Him at His right hand, that, having effected by Himself this purification, He entered into heavenly glory, you have no more conscience of sin. You do not require day by day, as it were, to receive the forgiveness of your sins. You have been washed, you have been made clean, you have received full absolution and remission. Nay, more. In the heavenly sanctuary where Jesus is, sin no more can rise; and as you were crucified and buried with Him, so you are raised with Him, and seated together with Him in heavenly places. You need only to confess day by day, and with great humility, and contrition and sorrow, your continual transgressions and trespasses, that your feet may be washed. “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit : and ye are clean." But conscience of sin you have no longer. And although, as Christ becomes clearer and dearer, we see and feel more our sinfulness and unworthiness, although with increasing sorrow and mourning we confess our unbelief and ingratitude, we have no longer conscience of sin, the con-science is free from the burden, and purified from the defilement of sin. As forgiven and accepted, as pure and spotless, as worshippers within the holiest of all, we appear before God : in the light of His love we behold, and acknowledge our sin.
Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb that was slain, is our High Priest, our Righteousness.
What other—man-invented and appointed—priest will intrude here? What other sacrifice can be mentioned? What works, offerings, or tears of our own can be thought of? Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of man, by Himself hath cleansed us from our sins.
The apostle has thus spoken of the greatness of Christ. Why does Jesus reveal His majesty and His glory? Not that we should tremble, and not merely that we should reverence and adore, but that our hearts should be drawn out to Him in love. The words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 11 are quite a parallel to our passage. Jesus first shows that no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father, and that all things are given into His hands. Why does He say this? Why does He, as it were, exalt Himself, and reveal His dignity, and His divine authority over all creation? It is only that He may embrace us in His arms; it is only that He may add immediately, " Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Oh, the more majestic and glorious Jesus appears to- us, the sweeter will be our peace, and the more childlike our confidence! This great, this infinite, this glorious Jesus was attracted by your very sin, and by your very guilt, and by your very helplessness. It was to purge our iniquities that He came down from heaven. Let us know, that we have obtained mercy, and that we have received the forgiveness of our sins, even through the redemption by the blood of Christ. Let us know it, that henceforth we may no longer be the servants of sin, that hence-forth we may no longer walk in darkness ; but, being delivered from all fear, and brought nigh unto God in Jesus, we may walk in love even as the Saviour God has loved us, and that we who have obtained mercy may show in our daily walk that we are merciful, forgiving one another, and forbearing one another, and introducing into every branch of our life and every sphere of our activity the new principle of love, even the holy, forgiving and renewing love of God. Amen.
[I] * The contrast between the time before the first advent and the last days will be again referred to in connection with ii. 5. The expression, "last days," occurs Gen. 49:1; Jer. 23:20; Ezek. 38:16 ; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1; Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 2:18. According to the Jewish canon of interpretation, the last days denote the days of the Messiah. Now, according to the perspective of Old Testament prophecy, whenever some obstacle which stood in the way of the fulfilment of the Messianic promise was removed, the immediate advent of the time of blessedness was expected, and then a new revelation was given which disclosed some further delay, and enlarged the vista of God's expectant people. Thus 2 Sam. 7. points to a son of David ; Daniel 9. to seventy sevens after the return from exile. But since the day of Pentecost the apostles knew with a perfectly assured clearness that the days of Messiah had commenced, as the exposition of Joel's prophecy by the apostle Peter distinctly declares. (Acts 2:17.)
In "these last times" the beginning, or the first advent, and the consummation, or the second coming of the Lord, are viewed sometimes as coincident, or at least as lying very close together, and this in harmony with Old Testament representation ; for instance, Isaiah lxi., the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God. And at other times the two advents are viewed as separated by the period of the Church, and the second coming of Christ is viewed as the transition between our days and the "world to come." Thus in one sense we live in the day of fulfilment (" the darkness is past, the true light now shineth") ; in another sense, in the days of expectation and waiting, the Son of God Himself on His Father's throne expecting and looking forward. While we are thus contrasted with the fathers of old we are also like them (and like God's ancient people at present), holing forward to the Hope of Israel (Acts 26:6)
[II] * Compare Rom. 4:13; 8:17; Gal. 3:29; Zech. 3:7. The Lord has not yet entered fully into the actual possession of the inheritance which, according to the Father's eternal counsel, and as a reward of His obedience unto the death of the cross (Phil. 2.), is appointed unto Him. Notice how the promise is given unto Him, as our Saviour and Head. We are joint-heirs with Him. He and His people will be glorified together, according to the blessed mystery that we were crucified together with Christ. What glory! and yet a glory which always reminds us of our sin and unworthiness, and of the grace and love of the Lamb that was slain.
[III] * "By aiwnes ages is meant the same as by the 'all things' Scripture has various modes of expressing the idea of the universe. In the Old Testament there is no comprehensive word ; there the two great divisions are mentioned heaven and earth. In the New Testament we have the terms—creation (ktisis, Mark 10:6; 13:19; 2Peter 3:4; Rev. 3:14), the world being viewed as created by God; all things (1Cor. 8:6; 15:27) as the totality of all finite being, ages, or (slaves) as that which exists and moves in time. The most common expression is kosmos, but without reference to the classical idea of an artistic work."-Kahnis’ Dogmatik, i. 247.
[IV] * dpaugasma a, occurs only in this passage. (Compare 2Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:15.) In Christ we behold Him, whom none can see. But Christ is not merely a reflection of the Father, but is Himself light. God covers Himself with light, as with a garment ; but the apostle speaks here of the essential glory of God, which appears to us is the person of His Son. The two aspects of truth, that the Son is equal with the Father, and that the Son is begotten of the Father, are expressed in the old creed “Light of light." The Father hath life in Himself, and hath given unto the Son to have life in Him-self. (John 5:26.) "Who is so void of understanding as to doubt concerning the eternal being of the Son? for where has one seen light without effulgence?" (ATHANASIUS) "The sun is never seen without effulgence, nor the Father without the Son.'
[V] * Compare Ezek. 1: 26,28, 10: 4; 43:2; Exod. 24:16; where glory of the Lord appears evidently to be a person. Thus the Messianic promise is often expressed, as in Isaiah 40:5 : " The glory of Jehovah shall be revealed." In Exod. 24: 16, after stating that the glory of Jehovah abode upon Mount Sinai, the verse continues, "And He called unto Moses." Notice also (Exodus xxxiii. 19) the request of Moses, "Show me thy glory," is answered” I will make all my goodness pass before thee. This harmonizes beautifully with the Scripture teaching, that in the Son, the Saviour, glory is beheld, as the full manifestation of grace; as, for in-stance, "The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us. and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
[VI] * The Son of God is a person; for He has the word." (BENGEL.)
[VII] * BAUMGARTEN, Apostelgeschichte, i. 350.
[VIII] * Think, for instance, of the way in which China, only a few years ago, was opened to the Christian missionaries.
[IX] * Although the addition by Himself might at first sight seem superfluous, the thought being already indicated by the medial form poinsamenos, yet this full and emphatic declaration is most frequent in the apostolic writing, and both befitting the importance of the subject as well as confirmatory to our faith. (Com. 1Peter 2:24.)