4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Now, beloved reader, "Despisest thou the riches of this goodness of God?" Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the good things of his mercy we have brought up herein, and say if they are not of peerless import. Are not endless life and good days, boundless riches, honour, and eternal glory in a kingdom of God's establishment upon the earth, more to be desired than all the world can give you now?
Can you be of sane mind and despise all these riches of goodness? Can you be rational and self-possessed? But if you despise them not, but "believe on God," that is, be fully persuaded that what he has promised he is able to perform, and will do it, will you not likewise be willing to make any sacrifice to obtain them?
If you were till a certain time devoted to the world and the enjoyment of the flesh, but came afterwards to believe in these promises with an honest and good heart, or as men say, "sincerely," would not your views of things present and future have undergone a radical change?
Would you not cease to set your affections on earthly things; would not your affection rather be transferred to the things contained in that "mercy kept for thousands?" Yea, verily. And would you not have been led to this change of views, affection, and will by the goodness of God exhibited in the testimony of his holy prophets? Even so; and you would then be a practical illustration of the Bible sentiment that "it is the goodness of God that leadeth to repentance."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1853
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
A man who has once fairly mastered and accepted the fact that the life we now live is a short-lived affair, is much more likely to be dutiful towards God, and kind and patient with all men, than the man whose mind turns only on present matters.
... The effect of such a recognition of truth must be felt by every one; it inclines us to look at life in a serious way, and to enquire which is the best way to spend it. There is but one answer of wisdom to this enquiry.
Fear God; hope in his mercy; do his commandments. Patiently continue in this, the only line of true well-doing, to the end, and thou shalt see in the end of it light and gladness, strength and wisdom, glory, honour, and immortality.
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
This judgment is in "the time of the dead" - that is, the time of the awaking of the dead "that they should be judged"-not of those who, having no understanding, "shall not rise," but have passed away as the beasts that perish; but of those who, notwithstanding their contact with "the light that is come into the world," loved darkness rather than light-and who, having heard the words of Christ as the acknowledged words of Christ and of God, and having rejected them practically in refusing to walk in accord with them, will be "judged by them in the last day."
These are the solemn teachings of Christ and the apostles. The contrary doctrine is based upon too narrow a construction of "covenant-relationship." This relationship is more an affair of benefit than of accountability.
Outside the covenant, there can be no eternal life; but everything shows that men need not be inside that covenant to be the objects of His righteous anger and punishment. We must not overlook the wide proprietorship of the Deity in all His works. If "the cattle upon a thousand hills" are His, much more the teeming millions of Adam's race. He is the "God of the spirits of all flesh," as Moses declared him to be.
"All souls are his," as he Himself said by Ezekiel, "the soul of the son and the soul also of the Father." If He had not spoken to them, their being His would have done no more for them than it does for the beasts that perish; but He has spoken to them in their cast-off condition, and though few of them know the fact or are in illuminated relation with the fact, it does not lessen the terrible import of the fact to those who cast it knowingly aside and live indifferently to it as if man were his own maker and God's claims on Him were nothing.
The Christadelphian, P18 - 1894
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
It is a terrible thing to be involved in public or private calamity of any kind; but what mortal experience of evil can equal the misfortune of those who are ordered to depart from the presence of Christ with the wailing multitude, who will appeal in vain to a clemency which they despised in the days of grace, and who leave him for a life of vagrancy and destitution to end their days in a dishonoured grave?
It is looked upon as the most calamitous of human experiences to sink in poverty, neglect, and be the victim of painful and incurable disease; but what lot can compare with the portion of those who awake from the slumbers of ages (in many cases) to find themselves strangers in a strange time, and to receive the due reward of their deeds in the "tribulation and anguish" that will be decreed to "every soul of man that doeth evil," in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus?
There is a time for everything. There is a time to look these solemn eventualities of the future in the face. We naturally seek relief from the effect they produce in our mind. The only safe relief lies in the remembrance that for the obedient-
"God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with him,"-
And that this salvation, when conferred, means just the reverse of all the evil conditions that will befall the rejected: honour from God in the presence of a multitude of admiring friends; physical and mental capacity of the utmost strength and sweetness in the bestowment of an incorruptible nature that will never wear out, but manifest the brightness and joy of life for evermore; a place in the exalted community of the friends of God who, after these times of trial and states of evil, will be placed in possession of the earth in power and glory, and immortality. It may well be said-
"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and enter in through the gates into the city."
Bro Roberts - The Terror of the Lord
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Evidently it refers to those who are commanded by God to do anything of a definite nature, and who, by virtue of the fact that they hear and comprehend, are "bound to obey." ...Many of the Jews died without having in any way comprehended the divine purpose; having wandered out of the way of understanding, will "remain in the congregation of the dead," although in a technical sense they sinned under the Mosaic law. The sense which men sinned in the law becomes evident when we take all the facts into consideration...
...The apostle James says, "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
....All sin who do things contrary to God's law, but when it is simply in ignorance they are not held accountable. Without understanding they are simply like the beasts, and perish without law. But those who know to do good and do it not, or do evil while fully recognising what God requires, are enlightened transgressors, and may, like Cain, be called to account for their misdeeds...
(Cain ignored the Law which required blood-shedding animal sacrifice).
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
All divine commands, to whomsoever they are addressed, bring those who hear under moral obligation to obey. Thus the Ninivites, to whom God spoke through the prophet Jonah, became especially responsible to divine judgment, and they only saved themselves from overthrow by hearkening to Jonah's testimony, and turning from their evil way....
The Christadelphian, March 1896
17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
Chapter 1 was about the Gentiles. Chapter 2 is directed toward the Jew. The message is different, but the underlying principle is the same. The Jew -- and rightly so -- condemned the vile abominations and superstitions of the learned and "modern" Gentile: the so-capable Roman, the scientific and philosophic Greek. But the Jew did not see the true picture. It is easy to see the faults of others. They (v. 17) rested in the Law of Moses, and made their boast of God.
Naturally speaking, the Jew had reason to boast. They had a holy, just, and good national Law, direct from the hand of God, that is still today -- 3,500 years after it was given -- not only unsurpassed but completely unapproached by any of man's tinkering, ever-changing, jigsaw of special interest legislation.
Israel was given a pure and beautiful religion and national form of joyful, ennobling worship; a rigid code of cleanliness and morality, wisely and necessarily enforced with the death penalty to prevent festering corruption; no permanent ownership of the land; no interest charges (the root of all social injustice and oppression); no jails (tax-supported crime factories); debts worked out by honest labour with a six-year limit and a guaranteed generously-underwritten new start; one year in every seven a complete rest and rejoicing in worship of God; every fifty years an entire new national beginning for everyone on a fair and equal basis, wiping the whole slate of accumulated inequality.
Man has never dreamed of anything like this, and he could not make it work if he did. But this glorious national law was underwritten by God Himself, and guaranteed to work: no disease, no poverty, no fear or insecurity -- IF they would do their part.
And the Jew had a wonderful 2,000-year history of the Almighty God of heaven manifesting Himself to and working with their ancestors as His special people above all others on earth.
No wonder the Jew despised the Gentile, with their hodgepodge legislation all in favour of the powerful, just like today; and their hobgoblin pagan Platonic superstition, just like today.
...And the Jews never realized that their wonderful, God-given Law was not to glorify them but to humble and condemn them so that they would look tremblingly to the mercy of God; not to give them pride but humility; not to make them confident of their righteousness, but to make them keenly conscious of the hopelessness of their weakness and sinfulness, apart from the love of God.
What Paul is leading up to, and what comes out more clearly in chapter 3, is that all mankind -- Gentile and Jew -- are sinners without exception, and have no hope of escape from death except in Christ.
Bro Growcott - God Gave Them Up
20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
The Law a shadow of good things to come
We know what is testified of Christ in simplicity and fulness and truth. We need not to grope for the light in the midst of shadows. Nevertheless, the shadow being the rude prophecy of the substance it is interesting to trace the correspondence between the one and the other--not for information but for edification.
...we must not limit the substance to the individual Christ. Though applicable to him in the first instance, it comprehends every accepted constituent of the multitudinous Christ. We must remember that the individual Christ is but the head of a body, and that the body and the head are one; and that the full purpose and manifestation of Christ is not realised till this whole community with head and body--Bridegroom and Bride---are in the immortal occupation of the earth to the glory of God the Father.
Law of Moses Ch 13
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
The eighth commandment
The commandment is a recognition of personal possession as the basis of society. No other basis can be conceived as a practical one. If the sum total belonged to all, as in the schemes of socialism, there would be no scope for individual character and responsibility, and human character would dwarf to a workhouse level. If nothing were allowed to belong to any, each would take and keep by force what he could get, and the conflict of individual graspings would reduce life to a chaos and the world to a desert.
The simple but wise and powerful law that each man shall have the right to possess what he can lawfully acquire, modified by those other laws that require him to consider his neighbour and to contribute to the well-being of the whole, is the sure basis of social order and civilized human life. It only requires to be regulated by infallible and just authority to make the earth an abode of joyful life. This will be realized in the Kingdom of God and not before.
Law of Moses Ch 7.
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
This is one reason of their restoration. God proposes to avert the dishonour of His name by their national recovery:
"I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them: and the heathen shall know that I am Yahweh, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before your eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen," etc.
If the declaration of Yahweh's coming purpose stopped here, there would be a certain amount of moral confusion which would interfere with the comfort of the prospect. We should feel it strange that a wicked nation should be brought together merely to stop the taunts of Gentile nations, and produce an adequate recognition of the greatness of Yahweh among them. But there is no room for such discomfort.
It is a characteristic of all divine ways that more than one purpose is served by the same instrumentality. Yahweh's declaration by Ezekiel goes on to say,
"A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you"
...Here is the nation in an humbled and reformed condition after restoration. There are frequent glimpses of this in the prophets. Isaiah speaking of the same era of regeneration, says (Isa. 60:21):
"Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever."
The means by which this great national change is to be effected is revealed in other parts. Yahweh will
"give them pastors according to his own heart, who shall feed them with knowledge and understanding" (Jer. 3:15).
These pastors are the twelve disciples raised from the dead (Matt. 19:28), and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, the glorious hierarchy of the kingdom of God (Luke 13:28-29; 20:35-36).
Under such leadership, aided with the latter-day and bountiful outpouring of the Spirit of God on all flesh, Israel will soon be brought to the glorious condition depicted. Some will prove incorrigible, but these will be weeded out: for it is written,
"I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth" (Zeph. 3:11-13).
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
No uncircumcised person was permitted to be a member of Abraham's family. Home-born, or purchased, slaves, as well as sons, were to be alike circumcised, or else to be cut off; for he that was uncircumcised on the eighth day after the first circumcisions were instituted, or not at all, had broken the Lord's covenant.
This was a great calamity; for none but circumcised persons can inherit the promises. This may startle; but it is strictly true. It will however be remembered that true circumcision is of the heart. Circumcision of the flesh is but an outward sign of Abraham's circumcision of heart; and everyone who would inherit with faithful Abraham must be circumcised of heart likewise.
When he was circumcised of heart his faith in God was imputed to him for remission of sins that were past. His former idolatry, &c., was forgiven, and the body of the sins of his flesh put off.
Now, a man believing what Abraham believed with the same effect on his disposition and life, is also circumcised of heart, when, in putting on Christ, he is
"circumcised with the circumcision made without hands by the circumcision of Christ,"
performed on the eighth day according to the law. In putting on Christ, his faith is counted to him for righteousness as Abraham's was. "The body of the sins of his flesh" is cut off. The foreskin of his heart is circumcised, and he is the subject of "circumcision in the spirit;" and his praise, though not of men, is pronounced of God (Rom. 2:28).
... the immersion of a man of the same faith and disposition as Abraham's is connected with circumcision I have shown; to such a man immersion into the glorious name is the token of his justification by faith, as circumcision was to Abraham.
It is indeed a substitute for circumcision of the flesh, but the accompaniment also of circumcision of the heart; and as all of Abraham's faith were to, be cut off from his people who were not circumcised in flesh, so all of his faith now will be cut off who are not immersed; for immersion is the appointed, and only appointed, means of putting on the circumcision of Jesus Christ by which the body of the sins of the flesh are put off (Col. 2:11,13).
Elpis Israel ii.2..4.