1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
'...the dogs, or "blind and ignorant watchmen...'
When a great dog bays the moon, all the little village curs must take a turn. This is often annoying to the weary traveller, who would rather sleep than count the hours of the steeple clock. But experience teaches the expediency of letting the dogs bark until they perceive that the great dog sees no more in the moon to bay. It is no use giving chase to them with wrath. The exertion would be too fatiguing, and bootless withal; for bark they will until there is no more bark in them.
Paul appears to have been a good deal annoyed by dogs; therefore he cautions all who follow his track to "beware of dogs." I apprehend it was not the barking dogs he cared so much for, as about those sneaking, grinning, snarling curs, which Isaiah describes as "dumb dogs that cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber; greedy dogs that can never have enough," and when they come upon you they would as soon "bite and devour" you, as seize upon a bone.
"Give not things holy unto dogs," saith Jesus; for "it is not fit to take the children's meat and to throw it unto dogs." There are no dogs in the Holy City. This is constituted of Christ's sheep; and all "the dogs are without."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1854
Beware of the Concision!
The concision were the false prophets or teachers who taught that circumcision must be practised with baptism, to constitute a believer of the gospel of the kingdom one of the Jews to whom the kingdom is promised with eternal life and glory. They had been circumcised and baptized, why should not believing Gentiles also?
Circumcision was a mark, sign, or token of the covenant betwixt Yahweh on the one part, and Abraham and his seed on the other; and at the same time it was "a seal of the righteousness of the faith had in uncircumcision;" but they did not see that the sign of circumcision, in the thing signified, was of the heart in spirit, when that heart was sanctified by the Second Will (the Abrahamic) through the once offering of the body of Jesus Christ: a sanctification which occurs in putting him on when buried with him in baptism, as it is written,
"Ye are circumcised in him with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in the baptism."
Being baptized into the circumcision of Christ, no other circumcision was necessary. The circumcision of the heart of the baptized was known by their faith in the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, and the manifestation of an Abrahamic disposition or spirit.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1857
Persecution serving a purpose
... there are some human dogs whose hostility is better than their praise.
We know their falseness, and the mystery of their iniquity. Against this we contend, because it destroys the truth, hoodwinks the people, and glorifies deceit. It is natural enough that these curs should growl, and bite too when occasion serves; for by this craft they have their wealth.
If we strip the deception of its veil, the bone is wrested from their teeth, and they fly at us in a rage. All this is very natural. They are dogs that cannot bark; and these are often more dangerous than noisier curs.
We have had to do with such; and know practically the importance of Paul's advice, "Beware of dogs." But every great enterprize has it risks and dangers; these we despise, and are only solicitous of faithfulness to the end.
Opposition is wholesome, persecution beneficial; anything is better than stagnation: therefore, when they come, "we rejoice, and are exceedingly glad: for great is our reward in the heavens; for so persecuted they the prophets" of the olden time-"in the heavens," even in those heavens, in which the House of David's tabernacle will appear "as in the days of old."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, July 1858
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
It is profitable to ask, What was the nature of this extraordinary devotion on the part of Paul to Christ! Was it merely the result of an ardent temperament?
Was it mere peculiarity of Paul's natural man? We should err greatly, and weaken much the power of his example, if we were to answer these questions in the affirmative. There can be no doubt that Paul was a man of a warm nature-the fitting soil for the good seed of the kingdom-but even a man of a warm nature cannot be warm without something to be warm about.
Enthusiasm, however strongly it may exist in a man's breast, requires something to stir it. It is in the nature of the facts before Paul's mind that we are to find the true explanation of the zeal that led him to abjure the ordinary objects of human life, and to throw himself entirely into a matter that appeared bootless and without reason to the ordinary run of men.
The importance of recognising this lies in the fact that what stirred Paul's enthusiasm will stir ours. We only require to believe the same things to experience the same results.
...He had a risen Christ before his mind; he recognised Christ's present existence and controlling presence in heaven; he looked forward to the certainty of standing before his judgment seat at his coming, and of receiving at his hands the unspeakable gift of immortality, and a place in the endless kingdom of God, if his present ways were acceptable to Christ.
He had constantly before his face the Eternal Creator of heaven and earth, who, in the unity of universal presence, is near to every one of us, from whom no creature is hid, to whose eyes all things are naked and open. With this mental picture of facts before his mind, it was impossible that he should be otherwise than earnest and enthusiastic. Any man with similar assured convictions must feel the stirring of a similar ardour of purpose.
...If we are to stand with Paul in the day of approbation, we must stand with him now in this particular-that we must be in earnest in our admiration and love, and service and obedience of Christ.
...although the rich man may in the present state impoverish himself, yet, when he considers to what he has attained in his relationship to Deity, and to the great recompense of reward hereafter to be manifested at the coming of Jesus Christ; that although he may be the subject of reproach; although he may have the cold shoulder turned upon him by those who formerly delighted in his society, because he could honour them, and they him, and because there was a mutual interest in the things of this world; he says, as Paul said, that he counts all these things as loss, that he may win Christ; that although he may have lost his position among the higher orders of society, yet what is that compared with that new position to which he has attained by a belief and obedience of the truth?
Suppose he were a duke, earl, viscount, or prince royal, and he disrobed himself of all these titles and honours which came from the breath of a sovereign's nostrils; when he considers such titles and honours as those, and then considers that, having been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, he will be able to sing the new song,
'Thou hast loved us, and washed us in thy blood, and thou hast made us kings and priests unto God; and we shall reign on the earth.'
What is the title of a duke or an earl, compared with that of being a king or priest for God, and of reigning, to carry out the Deity's purpose among all the nations of the earth?"
The Christadelphian, Dec 1871
Interesting Letter From an Old Friend of Dr. Thomas
In the beginning of his career, while employed in secular occupation, his substance had been completely swept away. This was doubtless intended to show him that he was not to labour for himself.
Everything he undertook for himself came to naught; but how different the result of his labours for the Lord. Something remains from that to comfort the widow and the fatherless, and to aid still further in carrying on the noble work. Truly God seeth not as man seeth.
The heavenly Father saw and knew what a total and complete sacrifice of all that is life to the natural man, had been made by brother Thomas for His name's sake. Therefore He left him not destitute in his later days.
We [Bro Samuel Coffman] do not feel any regret that a part of his substance should be placed at the disposal of the truth in the hands of one in whom I have full confidence as the choice of our brother Thomas, and being one of the same living faith, who is able and willing to appropriate it to the progression of the same truths.
It affords me pleasure to see this good work progressing so favorably while I am living. It is refreshing and soothing, and helps to alleviate the great pain brought upon us by the disobedience and ignorance of some money-lovers of our profession, who disparage these things, and say they can come without money or price, forgetting that in the sale of themselves to the Lord are included all their possessions.
The Christadelphian, May 1872
[Bro Samuel Coffman]
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
The phrase, " the life of Jesus," is expressive of his moral example, or conduct, and the life-power of his resurrection. Paul's teaching requires that both these be manifested in our mortal
flesh. The Deity has predestined that all saints who would attain to eternal life, be "conformed to the image of His Son " ; both to his moral and material image. But the moral conformity must precede the corporeal.
The things of the flesh are pleasant, and the things of the Spirit are in many points burdensome at present; but what wise man would falter in choosing the one before the other? Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
In this respect he is the prototype of all men of true wisdom. The wisdom of the practical men of the present age is a very shallow affair. Its results are bounded by present things which pass away-the inherent valuelessness of which even the fool perceives on the day of death.
The things of the spirit and the things of the flesh are, to one another, as the incorruptible gem to the perishing toys of childhood, or the shining of the midday sun to the flicker of an expiring lamp in a vault.
... the case of a man of God, who revives after a slumber of centuries. The things he had in his life he used as crutches of the moment merely. They were not the end of his being.
God was the strength of his heart and his portion for ever.
...The purpose of God, as declared in the promises, was his hope and his confidence, and he awakes, after 500 years, to find them all unchanged and imperishable.
The God whom he trusted and worshipped still reigns eternal in the heavens, the possessor of heaven and earth, which He upholdeth by His power. Christ, the ideal of his enthusiastic admiration, still lives, the same yesterday, today and for ever. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets and saints of every age and nation, stand by him or are still the coming vision of supernal friendship and delight.
The purpose of God to banish away ill and to wipe the tear from every eye, and fill the earth with the effulgence of His love and glory, are still before him unaltered, as the glorious vision which filled his heart and cheered his sorrows in the brief day of his mortal probation.
...And what craven and unworthy aspirants to association with them shall we be, if with all the comforts of home life, and all the liberty and security which we enjoy under the shadow of modern freedom, we shall begrudge the trifling voluntary sacrifices which the service of Christ demands at our hands, or be ashamed of the reproach which identification with it entails.
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
"So", said he, "whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2 Cor. 5: 9-10, R.S.V.).
With such a keen awareness of his accountability at the coming of Christ, Paul could not be other than sincere in what he did. "All our persuading of men, then", said he, "is with this solemn fear of God in our minds. What we are is utterly plain to God - and I hope to your consciences as well" (J. B. Phillips). Did this sound immodest? Just in case it did, he forestalled criticism with an immediate disclaimer - "No, we are not recommending ourselves to you again, but we can give you grounds for legitimate pride in us - if that is what you need to meet those who are so proud of the outward rather than the inward qualification" (J. B. Phillips).
There was certainly an echo here of the previous contrast he had drawn between the "vessel" and the "treasure". It is possible also that there was a reference to circumcision, a physical operation so vital to the Judaizers. At all events, he would appear to have taken an unkind gibe at his expense into account in what he next said: "If we have been 'mad' it was for God's glory; if we are perfectly sane it is for your benefit" (J. B. Phillips).
This led Paul on naturally to explain the reason for this element of altruism in his own life. It was due entirely to Christ's altruism on his, Paul's, behalf. As he put it, "the very spring of our actions is the love of Christ" (J. B. Phillips).
The compassion shown to him was like an irresistible force urging him on, claiming his full and unqualified allegiance; he declared himself "convinced that as one has died for all, then all have died, and that he died for all in order to have the living live no longer for themselves but for him who died and rose for them" (Moffatt).
He was charged with mere self-seeking. But, he protested, a realization of this kind utterly precludes self-seeking: selfishness cannot survive in such an atmosphere. To know oneself to have been involved in the sacrificial death of Christ, on account of its representational character, is to see oneself committed to a sacrificial life, to a re-enactment in oneself of the Cross.
Letters to Corinth Ch 7.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Forgetting the things that are behind
... is an excellent maxim in many things. People burden themselves with old letters and old memories that are dead-to no profit and worse ; such things obstruct the present. We need all our energy for the earnest purpose of every day.
There is wisdom in the poet's advice to " Let the dead past bury its dead." Make short shrift of the trivial mementoes. Some people live in the past. Their life is a dream. They seem to carry around a collection of stuffed favourites - mangy, dusty, and melancholy.
We want the apparatus of real life. Clear out the lumber ; turn your face to the rising sun ; " press forward ! "
My days and my ways Ch 10.
14 I press toward the mark [a good resurrection] for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul's preaching was the same in all the cities of Macedonia. It planted the same hope in the hearts of the people at Philippi, as at Thessalonica. Here it taught them to turn from idols to serve the God of Israel, and to wait for his Son from the heavens, when they should receive the kingdom of God, for which they suffered persecution; there, it taught them to be like-minded with the apostle in pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God by the anointed Jesus.
This "mark" was the resurrection that Paul desired by any means to attain to, because the prize could not be obtained until that mark were reached. The prize was the subject of the glad tidings he preached to them. It was for the obtaining of this prize that they entered the lists by being baptized, that they might from that time start in the race, and press onward to the goal.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857
Did they begin to run without knowing what they were running for?
No indeed. When men, as in Paul's day, entered upon a race which exposed to torment, imprisonment, and death, they were very careful to know what they were to gain by the risks they encountered.
"I so run, not so uncertainly," saith the apostle, "so run, that ye may obtain:"
obtain what? That which God sent Jesus to invite men to in the glad tidings of the kingdom which he preached, and therefore styled
"the high calling of God by the anointed Jesus."
An everlasting kingdom is the prize set before us as "untaught Gentiles," connected with which are glory, honour, riches, and life eternal. Hence, James says to them who are taught of God,
"he has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, as heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him;" and Jesus saith, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,"
and when they that love him stand in his presence after rising from the dead, he saith to them,
"Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the State."
Were these blessed ones baptized in ignorance of the kingdom and glory they were called to? In darkness plunged into water, not dreaming that the God of Israel purposed to set up a glorious kingdom in Palestine for Jesus and his brethren, which was to rule over all? Was their faith so meager, so death-stricken in its birth, that it could only faintly whisper an assent to a leading question about the genealogy of Jesus, before they descended into water? Were their eyes so blind that they could see nothing in the future?
No, no; before they were baptized they took care to know what they were baptized for. They were baptized that they might become Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise, which they understood and believed with joyous and faithful hearts.
Hence, the apostle could write to the Roman citizens of Philippi, who believed, and the jailor and his house among their number, saying,
"Brethren, be followers together of me and mark them who walk, so as ye have, Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, for an example, for our citizenship begins in the heavens; out of which also we earnestly expect the Saviour, the anointed Lord Jesus; who shall transform the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, through the power whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself."
And afterwards he adds,
"Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen with me, do."
This covered the whole ground of his teaching, which was effective to their illumination as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1857
THE way of folly is a swiftly downward path, in things great or small-whether we drift into a wasted hour or a wasted lifetime. That is why God in love wisely requires totality of effort and devotion. It is the only wise way. It is the only practical way. It is the only possible way.
Be alert. Keep checking yourself for the beginning of folly, and drifting, and aimless time-wasting. Guard against the first small downward, backward step. That is the most important and dangerous one. All flows so easily from that.
Totality is the only practicality. Nothing else has the power of worthwhileness and incentive. There is no sustaining, uplifting, transforming power in part-time, part-heart service, even though it is ALMOST full time. A chain has not one ounce of lifting power if there is a gap of only one link. One missing connecting link, and immediately ALL the strength and continuity is lost.
So with our lives. The chain of strength to lift us up must be continuous and unbroken, and we must jealously preserve and protect every continuous unbroken link that connects us with the power of God. It is our lifeline. One lost link is death.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Our zealous tractarian, "W. K." is certainly not only a very bold, but barefaced and reckless accuser. He says, that
"for justification by faith Dr. T. substitutes salvation by baptism."
To assert this is either profound ignorance or wickedness; if the former, then he speaks falsely when he says he has read Elpis Israel; for he can find no such doctrine there, the very reverse being maintained; but if he have read the work, it is not a mistake, but deliberate wickedness, for he knows better.
What we believe the scriptures teach is justification by faith in the obedience of the truth. This expresses the means of justification and the time when it occurs. Δικαιοσυνη εκ πιστεωζ rendered in the common version, "the righteousness from faith," is a state of being perfect on account of faith. Paul says, this is revealed in the gospel of the Christ ειζ πιοτιν for faith, or, that it may be believed in; so that the good message concerning the kingdom contains in it, εν αυτxῳ a doctrine of perfection to be believed in, as well as the doctrine of the kingdom.
When men entered the state of perfection, they were addressed by the apostle as "the perfect." In writing to Corinth he says,
"We speak wisdom among them that are perfect;"
and to the Philippians he says,
"Let us, as many as be perfect, be thus minded;"
and speaking of the means of this perfection, he observes,
"The law (of Moses) made no man perfect, but the bringing in it was of a better hope; by which we draw near to God."
This better hope, styled elsewhere,
"better covenant established upon better promises,"
was the perfecting institution.
But the perfecting was not the absolute and entire perfecting of the man in body, soul, and spirit. Paul was one of "the perfect," yet he could say of himself,
"not as though I were already perfect."
Jesus was at once perfect and imperfect; he was perfect in a moral sense, and imperfect in a physical. Paul says that "he was made perfect through sufferings;" and Jesus himself tells us when that perfecting should take place: "Behold," saith he,
"I cast out demons, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third I shall be perfected."
That is, his ministry was to continue during the three succeeding years; and in the third year from the time he sent the message to Herod, he would be perfected by resurrection. This having come to pass, the apostle says, that
"being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him."
So also of the "cloud of witnesses" he refers to in Heb. 11. of whom he testifies that
"they all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
Hence, the receiving of the better hope promised, is when the faithful living and dead are made perfect by the spirit at the epoch of resurrection.
The teaching, then, is, that moral or spiritual perfection precedes corporeal or physical. The state of moral perfection is entered upon when "the answer of a good conscience" is scripturally obtained. This entrance could not be effected through the institutions of the Mosaic law. "Its gifts and sacrifices," says Paul,
"could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience:" * * * "for the law having a shadowing forth of good things to come, not the image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offer continually every year make the comers thereunto perfect. Otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purified should have no more conscience of sins; but in those there is a remembrance of sins every year."
Perfection as pertaining to the conscience is present spiritual perfection contemplated by the better covenant. When this is attained, the believer has
"come to the spirit of a justified man made perfect."
His spirit or conscience is perfected; because, in being pardoned on the principles of the new and better covenant, "his sins and iniquities are remembered no more." This oblivion or covering of sins places the man in a position in which the Lord imputes to him no iniquity. Now, the man thus circumstanced is regarded as a man without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; in other words, he is said to be perfect, just, righteous, holy, clean, and so forth. In this state he is a blessed man, as it is written,
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man unto whom Yahweh imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."
A guileless spirit is "a good conscience;" a spirit made perfect by the principles of the gospel.
We see, then, what the state of perfection is in its moral or spiritual aspect. It will not be denied that the apostles were denizens of this state, made free from sin by the truth; yet they could say,
"in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;" "we all miss many things;" "if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" "we also are men of like passions with you."
A man may be pardoned, and guileless, and yet be much afflicted with the turbulence of his nature essentially rebellious against God. True christ[adelphian] virtue, however, consists in controlling and subduing this turbulence; so that it shall not break forth in violation of the divine law.
This is more or less difficult in different individuals; but the greater the difficulty the greater the virtue in success. Of ourselves we are very weak through the flesh; but Christ strengthening us in his own peculiar and appointed way, no embarrassments are too great to exclude us from the prize.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1857
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Burning earnestness and enthusiasm in spiritual things-that is what we must pray for and ceaselessly pursue! It is not easy to awaken in our sluggish pleasure-loving natures. It will not come of itself. It is contrary to our natural inclinations. It must be carefully grafted in and diligently cultivated.
It will not seize us and transform us as we go our normal course, so very, very busy with passing worldly things. There is no magic carpet to effortlessly transfer our interests to the things that will endure, and sweep us serenely through the gates of the Holy City. We all have the flesh to contend with every day of our lives, right up until the end.
We must be careful that our faith is not a spare time, easy-going compliance grounded on flesh with its roots in our own desires and inclinations . . . just a pleasant religious hobby. What happens in a time of trial to a shallow faith based on personal convenience and vague emotion? The parable of the seed tells us plainly enough. It is a fair-weather faith. It has no staying power. It gives no strength or comfort in time of need. The glare of the sun scorches and withers it because IT NEVER TOOK THE TROUBLE TO DEVELOP ROOTS.
It is all on the surface. We know what is represented by the roots. It means the knowledge, the perception, the grasp and insight and stability that is the result of constant study and application. We may deceive ourselves for a while and have no feeling of need for effort in this direction, but there comes a time to each brother and sister when the roots are tried to the limit of their strength, with disastrous results to those which have been neglected.
Bro Growcott - Through Much Tribulation
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
The carnal mind, or serpent in the flesh, is the subject of a twofold manifestation, namely, individually and collectively. An individual manifestation is more or less observable in persons who "mind the things of the flesh," or "earthly things" (Rom. 8:5; Phil. 3:18-19; Col. 3:2; 1 John 2:15). To do this is to be "after the flesh," and "in the flesh;" of whom, it is testified, "they cannot please God."
By a figure, sin is put for the serpent, the effect for the cause; seeing that he was the suggester of unbelief and disobedience to man, by whom it entered into the world. Hence, the idea of the serpent in the flesh is expressed by "sin in the flesh;" which was "condemned in the flesh" when Jesus was crucified for, or, on account of sin, "in the likeness of sinful flesh."
In the animal man there dwelleth no good thing. The apostle affirms this of himself,considered as an unenlightened son of the flesh. "In me, that is, in my flesh," says he, "dwelleth no good thing." Hence, whatever good was in him, did not originate from the thinking of the flesh excited by the propensities, and traditions of Gamaliel, but from "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; " that is, from the influence of "the testimony of God," concerning "the things of the kingdom, and name of Jesus Christ," upon "the fleshly tablet of his heart," most assuredly believed.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
Nominal Friends of the Truth
Take first the individual who simply gives in his adhesion to the truth in its doctrinal form: he has come to the conclusion that the popular doctrines are fables, and the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, are the truth; but it is with him simply a matter of intellectual recognition.
It is only theory with him. His practical estimate of things has not been altered by his new convictions. The things involved in the truth have not engaged his love. His interest still runs in a worldly channel. He is taken up with the things that belong to the present. His affections are set on things on the earth, and not on things above. Conversation on the truth is impossible with him. His replies on religious matters are monosyllabic. He assents to a remark made, but he never supplies fresh material; his mind is not running on the matter.
Only turn, however, upon another subject, begin to ask him about his business, and instantly he will become voluble, his tongue will be loosed; he will be able, with multiplicity of words and emphasis of expression, almost rhetorical, to describe the various matters pertaining to his particular occupation.
Or, suppose he is a domestic man, he will be able to give almost an inventory of the furniture and effects, and a treatise on the best articles of diet and the way to cook them, the terms upon which the house is leased, and all the minutæ of details going to make up the mere substratum of existence.
The Christadelphian, May 1868
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Having shown "how," or upon what principles, the righteous dead are raised, the apostle gives us to understand, that their "glory" will consist in brightness; for He cites the splendour of the celestial bodies as illustrative of theirs. This reminds us of the testimony in Daniel, that "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3).
This is repeated by the Lord Jesus, who says, "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father" (Matt. 13:43); which assurance Paul also revives in his letter to the saints at Philippi, saying, "our commonwealth has a beginning (Dan. 2:44: Luke 19:12-15) in the heavens out of which also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, that it may become of like form with the body of His glory, by the power of that which enables Him even to subdue all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20,21).
When we die we are buried, or "sown," like so many seeds in the earth. We are sown, says the apostle, "in corruption," "in dishonour," "in weakness," and with an animal nature; but, when we are raised to inherit the kingdom, we become incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and possessed of a Spiritual nature, such as Jesus and the Elohim rejoice in.
Now, a Spiritual body is as material, or substantial and tangible, a body as that which we now possess. It is a body purified from "the law of sin and death." Hence it is termed "holy," and "spiritual," because it is born of the Spirit from the dust, is incorruptible, and sustained by the ruach, or spirit, independently of the neshemeh, or "atmospheric air."
"That which is born of the flesh," in the ordinary way, "is flesh," or an animal body: and that which is born of the Spirit, "by a resurrection to life, "is spirit," or a Spiritual body (John 3:6). Hence, in speaking of Jesus, Paul says, "born of David's seed according to the flesh; and constituted the Son of God in power, by the spirit of holiness, through a resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:3,4). Thus, He was born of the spirit, and therefore became "a Spirit;" and, because highly exalted, and possessing a name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9-11), He is styled "the Lord the Spirit."
That the Spiritual body is independent of atmospheric air for its support, is clear from the ascension of the Lord Jesus. An animal body can only exist in water, or in atmospheric air, and at a comparatively low altitude above the surface of the earth. Now, the air does not extend beyond forty-five miles; consequently beyond that limit, if they could even attain to it, creatures supported by breath in the nostrils, could no more live than fish in the air. Beyond our atmosphere is the ether; through which they only can pass, who, like the Lord Jesus and the angels, possess a nature adapted to it. This is the case with the Spiritual nature.
Elpis Israel 1.2.