15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
The Law and the Prophets
MEN speak of the Scriptures as Jewish writings, and such they are, but they have a higher and more significant title given to them by Paul. The apostle styles them "the oracles of God" (Rom. iii. 2). If Paul had simply called them "Oracles," their reliability and truth would have been a very safe deduction, but "Oracles of God" is a significantly descriptive statement, which places their character far beyond deduction.
Truly there are a few apparent difficulties in the Scriptures, but shall we, because of these, pronounce the Oracles of God to be wholly or partly untrue? Common sense cries "No!" Let us rather heed Paul's warning to rightly divide the word of truth.
The Scriptures being the Oracles of God, it is appropriate to speak of them, as Paul did (but not otherwise), as the Word of God (Acts xx. 32; 2 Cor. iv. 2). That the Bible was regarded by Paul as divine is further made certain by his method of action in believing
"all things which are written in the law, and in the prophets" (Acts xxiv. 14);
and in his affirming that
"whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Rom. xv. 4).
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, July 1898.
24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
The Baptism of John
"John and Jesus were both 'made under the Law,' though for a different purpose: and were both co-workers in the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and in the immersion of all who believed what they preached for remission of sins.
The belief of their converts was characterised by the development in them of an Abrahamic disposition and mode of thinking-(Rom. 4:18-22, Luke 1:17),-which, in their submitting to immersion, were counted to them for 'Repentance:' and by the immersion of such as its subjects, characterised the immersion as the
'Baptism of Repentance for the remission of sins.'
"The times' were constituted of a divine cycle by the Mosaic law.
'The law and the prophets were until John,'-(Luke 16:16)
-that is, 'they prophesied' or preached, until John, in being read every Saturday or Sabbath day, in the synagogue-(Matt. 11:13; Acts 15:21);-but 'since that time'-since the beginning of John's proclamation, 'the kingdom of God is preached.'
The beginning of John's preaching was 'the beginning of the gospel,' not simply of Christ, which was set forth in the law and the prophets,-(Rom. 1:2, 3)-but 'of Jesus Christ, Son of the Deity,'-(Mark 1:1)-by the Messenger sent before Him.
The Johannist voice in the wilderness proclaiming the approaching manifestation to Israel of Yah, Yahweh, Ail of salvation'-(Is. 12:2; 26:4)-in the flesh. John said, 'I am not He, but am sent before Him;' Jesus said, 'I am He.'
John preached till thrown into prison; then Jesus carried on the work without him, assisted by the Twelve and the Seventy. The conjoint ministry of John and Jesus was the work of Daniel's Seventieth week, which ended at the crucifixion-it was the confirmation of the Abrahamic or New Covenant for many-(Dan. 9:27; Rom. 15:8)-and consummated in the cutting off of Messiah the Prince. There was nothing like this in all the previous times of the Law. It was a novel procedure altogether; it was decidedly 'an innovation upon the times in which he lived.'
'If so, how is it that no objection was ever made to it?'
There is no recorded objection, it is true; we may therefore suppose that there was none.
One reason then may have been, because 'he came in the spirit and power of Elijah,' however they may have been manifested; because therefore and secondly, all the people held John for a prophet-(Matt 21:26)-; thirdly, they were all on the tiptoe of expectation for the speedy appearance of Christ, and would be pre-disposed to hear what he had to say, especially as his ministry did not supersede the necessity of continued observances of the Law; and fourthly, although John did no miracles, they beheld a grand confirmation of his mission at the baptism of Jesus, in the descent upon him of the Spirit-Dove, and the voice of recognition from the excellent glory, declaring him to be the Son of God.
Still, there were some that objected, saying 'He hath a demon' (Matt. 11:18)."
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Feb 1869
27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
Paul quoted the Scriptures as proof
as unquestionable and divine proof. His custom was to reason out of them, but never to add to them nor to take from them (Acts 17:2: 26:22-23).
The apostle was no sympathiser with the notion, prevalent in our day, that the Scriptures are only true in the main; that the detail, the so-called unimportant parts, are studded with verbal and other inaccuracies. We have already seen what Paul's direct teaching was concerning the Spirit-authorship of the Scriptures, and have also seen some of his indirect allusions to the Scriptures which confirm that teaching (Vol. xxxvi; pp. 182, 260).
Let us now consider other references. Let us take the apostle's repeated statement that the Scriptures were the work of the prophets (Rom. 1:2: 16:26; Acts 13:27, 40), hearing in mind that the term "prophet" is no mere casual, empty title, but one fraught with deep meaning.
Let us linger long on his manner of citing Scripture-his meaningful
"It is written," "As it is written," "The Scripture saith," "What saith the scriptures?" "According to the scriptures," "Wot ye not what the Scriptures saith?"
Let us also note that his quotations cover all the features of the sacred book-prophecy, history, exhortation, the record of the principles upon which God acts, His will and purpose, etc.
As we have before said, Paul's contention was that "whatsoever things were written" were written for our instruction (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). Although Moses, or David, or some other of the prophets, might have been the scribe, yet, in Paul's estimation, God was behind the writer, moving or controlling his work.
How else is it possible to account for such authoritative assertions as
"The scripture hath concluded all under sin" (Gal. 3:22), "The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham" (Gal. 3:8)?
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Sept 1900
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
The Gospel is a plurality. It is tidings; not an item of news: but "things" called
"good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,"
and one of the good things is, that Christ shall reign on the throne of his father David over Israel and the nations for a thousand years.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1853.
35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
What would have been the consequence had Christ died a natural death?
Answer.-Without doubt, had the will of God been so, his resurrection would have followed immediately and our salvation equally secured; for the triumph lay here, that he rose after dying for sin.
"If Christ be not raised your faith is vain, and ye are yet in your sins."
But a natural death would not have been the same trial of Christ's obedience as his crucifixion. It pleased God to make the captain of our salvation perfect through suffering (1). He was obedient unto (submission to) death, even the death on the cross. It does not appear that the mode of death would have made any difference to the result as regards us, except in so far as might have borne on the question of Christ's obedience.
38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
The sin of Adam and the righteousness of Christ are subjects upon which Christendom is altogether astray. God neither imputes the one nor the other to men.
The attribution of one man's act to another is neither rational nor just...
So far as Adam's offence is concerned, his descendants are not in any way guilty; they simply suffer the consequences of his sin, so in the case of Christ's righteousness. Men are privileged to reap the benefits of Christ's moral perfection, but that perfection is not theirs, nor can it be.
The saints are pardoned sinners, and such they will ever remain. They are forgiven for Christ's sake, and are enjoined to remember it. To regard ourselves, by any kind of mental manœuvring, as being perfect, as Christ was, is dishonouring to Christ and injurious to ourselves.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, July 1900
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Our discovery of the way of salvation was not accidental
It may seem so when we merely look at the apparently natural means which led to our knowledge and reception of the truth-the Christadelphian leaflet picked up by the wayside, the Twelve Lectures bought at the second-hand book-stall, the lecture quite casually attended-but appearances are altogether misleading in this matter.
Our standing in the truth is due to the kind but unseen intervention of God on our behalf. God is not uninterested in man's salvation-He is no cold looker-on at the truth-lover's learning and embracing of the Gospel.
His hand may not be seen, but He is ever intelligently working for the well-being of God-fearers. In the first century men and women who were able to receive and prize the truth were remembered and cared for (Acts 2:47: 13:48).
Will not like-minded men and women be similarly treated now? If God has "much people" in any place He will soon create and develop the means to enlighten them.
The Christadelphian, July 1900