An Interpretation of the English Bible







Late President of Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas


Edited by

J. B. Cranfill


Part I



Grand Rapids, Michigan

New and complete edition

Copyright 1948, Broadman Press

Reprinted by Baker Book House

with permission of

Broadman Press

ISBN: 0-8010-2344-0

First Printing, September 1973

Second Printing, September 1976









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I                  Introduction – The Four Gospels

II                 Introduction – The Fifth Gospel

III                Introduction – The Several Historians

IV               Luke's Dedication and John's Prologue (Luke 1:1-4; John 1:1-18)

V                 Beginnings of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 1:5-80; 3:23-38)

VI               Beginnings of Matthew and Luke (Continued)

VII              Beginnings of Matthew and Luke (Continued) (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20)

VIII             Beginnings of Matthew and Luke (Continued) (Luke 2:21-38; Matthew 2:1-12)

IX               Beginnings of Matthew and Luke (Concluded) (Matthew 2:13-28; Luke 2:39-52)

X                 John the Baptist

XI               The Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:l-18)

XII              The Beginning of the Ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:l-12;

                   Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18)

XIII             The Nature, Necessity, Importance and Definition of Repentance

XIV             The Object of Repentance

XV              Motives and Encouragements to Repentance

XVI             Motives and Encouragements to Repentance (Continued)

XVII           Motives and Encouragements to Repentance (Conclusion)

XVIII          The Ministry of Jon the Baptist (Continued) (Matthew 3:11-17;

                   Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:15-23)

XIX             The Culmination of John’s Ministry

XX              The Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)

XXI             Satan’s Three Special Temptations of our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-18)

XXII           John’s Testimony to Jesus, Jesus’ first disciples and His First Miracle

                   (John 1:19-2:11)

XXIII          The Sojourn of Jesus at Capernaum (John 2:12-3:21)

XXIV          The Evidences of the Spirit in the New Birth (John 3:8)

XXV           The Guilt of Sin Stated and the Remedy (John 3:16-4:45)

XXVI          Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part I) (Matthew 4:17-25; 8:2-17;

                   9:2-26; Mark 1:14-2:22; 5:22-43; Luke 4:14-5:39; 8:41-56; John 4:46-54)

XXVII         Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part II) (Matthew 9:27-34;

                   John 5:1-47; Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 2:23-3:19; Luke 6:1-16)

XXVIII       Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part III) (Matthew 5:1-7:29; Luke 6:17-49)

XXIX          Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part IV) (Matthew 8:1, 5-13; 11:2-30;

                   12:22-37; Mark 3:lff-30; Luke 7:1-8:3)

XXX           Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part V) (Matthew 12:38-50;

                   Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)

XXXI          Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part VI) (Matthew 13:1-53;

                   Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18)

XXXII         Our Lord’s Ministry in Galilee (Part VII) (Matthew 8:18-23;

                   11:1; 13:54-58; 14:1-12; Mark 4:34-5:20; 6:1-29; Luke 8:22-40; 9:1-9)






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 The New Testament is the ultimate authority for the life of Christ. In that collection of books, this life is set forth in four distinct phases:

His eternal existence, essential Deity, relations and activities as pure spirit prior to all time and history.

His foreshadowing in time prior to his incarnation. This is done by an interpretation of the Old Testament.

His incarnation, or earth life, from his birth to his death. The glory life of his exalted humanity, from his resurrection to the end of time.

Usually, however, when men speak of the life of our Lord they mean his earth life from his birth to his death. Even in studying his earth life only, it is helpful to know well:

His human antecedents, as set forth in the Old Testament history of his people.

The history of that people in the 400 years interval between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament.

The geography and topography of the land of Palestine, the scene of his life and labors, together with the political, religious, and social conditions of his people at the time of his birth and during his life.

The successful preacher or teacher must often repeat, or restate in new forms, what he has preached or taught before, because there is little remembrance of former things, and because there is constant change of hearers or students unfamiliar with his previous teaching or preaching; and because no one statement of any truth sufficiently fixes itself in the mind of the hearer or reader. Repeated hammering is needed to drive a nail to its head, and even then we need to clinch it.

On account of this necessity for repetition, we commence with definitions many times given before. Our English word, "scriptures," means, etymologically, any kind of writings as contrasted with oral statements. Our English words, "Holy Scriptures," mean "sacred writings," or inspired writings, as distinguished from profane writings. Our English word, "Bible," means a library, or collection of books. And hence, "Holy Bible," would mean a sacred library. This sacred library consists of two grand divisions, entitled "Old Testament" and "New Testament." The Old Testament consists of thirty-nine books, arranged in a threefold division of Law, Prophets, and Psalms. Likewise the New Testament consists of twenty-seven books, divided into three general classifications – that is, five books of history, twenty-one letters or books of doctrine and discipline, and one book of prophecy.

This classification, however, must not be strictly pressed, since the five books entitled histories contain letters, doctrines, and prophecies; and the twenty-one letters contain history, prophecy, and doctrines; and the one book of prophecy contains letters, history, and doctrines.

Of these New Testament books, Paul wrote fourteen; John, five; Luke and Peter, two each; Matthew, Mark, James, and Jude, one each. And since Paul influenced both of Luke's books, a majority of the books, and more than half of the contents of the New Testament may be attributed directly or indirectly to Paul.

The English word, "testament," whether Old or New, was derived from the Latin, based on such passages as: Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 8:9-13; 9:16-17, and is a misnomer, since the Greek word so rendered means "covenant," but in the Bible it is never applied to a collection of books. The word, indeed, has the meaning of a last will and testament in two instances only, of Biblical usage, both in the game connection, Hebrews 9:16-17. So used in that sense it simply points out one analogy between a covenant and a last will and testament, to wit: that the death of a victim ratifies a covenant, as the death of a testator precedes inheritance under his will. The mischievous effect of this rendering "testament" in other instances of usage not only obscures the connection of thought between the Old and New Covenants, but appears historically and particularly in the fact that one large and modern Christian denomination, popularly known as Campbellites, deduces the most distinguishing articles of their creed and practice from this incorrect rendering, together with their faulty interpretations of some other passages. Substantially, their argument is this:

The New Testament is God's last will and testament.

Its provision of inheritance cannot be effective until after the death of the testator, Jesus Christ.

The chief blessing of the inheritance is the forgiveness of sins.

Sins under the Old Testament, and up to Christ's death, were not actually forgiven, but only passed over until the coming and death of the Testator, quoting Romans 3:25.

Therefore, in determining the New Testament law of pardon, they contend that we must not consider the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but must consult only the books concerning matters after his death. Hence they find the law of pardon in Acts 2:38, and contend that then was Christ's kingdom set up, and then only was this law of pardon published, to wit: "Repent and be immersed in his name, in order to remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Therefore, they make baptism a condition of salvation and of the reception of the Holy Spirit, and an essential part of regeneration.

Their contention, based on this argument, is set forth elaborately in a book by Ezell, one of their teachers, entitled, The Great Inheritance. We defer until we come to Acts 2:38, the correction of their erroneous exegesis of that passage, and merely state now that the capital defect of the whole contention consists in confounding expiation toward God with remission of sins toward man. It is true that the expiation of sins toward God did not historically take place until Christ died, but it is utterly untrue that the remission of sins toward man did not precede this expiation, since remission came as truly in the Old Testament times as in the New Testament times, because of God's acceptance of the pledge of expiation by his Son.

While we think it well to show the incorrectness and mischievous tendency of this misnomer, yet the term, "testament," is so fixed in our literature as applied to the two collections of books so styled, we accept the common usage, modified by this explanation.

In like manner the Greek word rendered "gospel" means, etymologically, good tidings of any kind, but in this collection of books it means the good tidings of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Nowhere in New Testament usage does the word "gospel" mean a history, as when we say, "the Gospel according to Matthew." The word "gospel" occurs often alone, or with the article only; as "preach the gospel," or "believe the gospel." In connection with the Father we have the usage: "The Gospel of God," "The Gospel of the grace of God," "The Gospel of the glory of the happy God." In connection with the Son we have the usage: "The Gospel of the Son," "The Gospel of Christ," "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," "The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." It is also used with another modifying term, "The Gospel of the Kingdom," and it is used with reference to its purpose, "The Gospel of Salvation," and to its duration, "The Everlasting Gospel."

Our English word "gospel," however, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, "godspell," meaning "a story of God." We employ the word in this narrative sense when we say, "Matthew's Gospel " or "The Gospel according to Matthew." In this last sense, meaning a narrative, there have come down to us in writing five Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. Of these, Paul's was first reduced to writing, and John's, last. Three of these Gospels, in the sense of histories, are called synoptics: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, because they present a common view.

These five Gospels, or histories, must be considered as an independent and complete history of our Lord from each author's viewpoint. They were written by different men, at different times, for different purposes – for different ends – and each, I repeat, must be considered as a complete view. That is to say, notwithstanding the multitude of books that have been written upon the subject, there is no satisfactory evidence that any one of them had before him, or was influenced by a copy of any other from which he consciously borrowed, or which he designedly abridged or enlarged or supplemented in any way. Nor is there any reliable evidence that any two or more of them had access to a common original written gospel now lost. There was, of course, before any writing, a common oral gospel, but mere human memory could not be relied upon to recall with accuracy the minute details such as we find in Mark, nor the very words of long discourses, such as we find in John and Matthew. We must look elsewhere for an adequate explanation of their agreements and differences. At the last analysis, the inspiration of each historian best accounts for the plan of his history, not only in the material he selects, but in what he omits, in his historical portrait of our Lord.

Westcott in his introduction to the Gospels, cites the fact that three portraits of Charles I were painted, one giving the front view, the others the right and left profile views, and these three portraits were to enable a sculptor to carve a lifelike statue of him. The sculptor could not carve this statue with accuracy from a front view only, nor from either one of the two side views only. In the same way we have five complete historical portraits of our Lord, in order that we, in the study of them from their different angles of vision, may get a full view of our Lord and Saviour.

We have already said that the New Testament considers the life of our Lord in four distinct phases: his pre-existence, his Old Testament adumbration, his incarnation, and the glory life of his exalted humanity. Each historian considers only so much of these four phases as is essential to his plan. Mark, with very vivid details, considers the public ministry of our Lord, having little to do with either his pre-existence, his foreshadowing in the Old Testament, or his life after his ascension. Matthew and Luke alone treat of the infancy of our Lord. Matthew and Paul particularly consider the interpretation of the Old Testament, foreshadowing of our Lord. Luke, in a second volume, discusses much the exalted life of our Lord in the establishment of the churches. John and Paul both treat of his pre-existence, and both, of the activities of his exalted life. This John does in his second volume – Revelation.

We may profitably study these histories of our Lord in two ways:

Considering each history alone, in order to get before our minds the author's complete view according to his plan. This study must not be omitted.

The harmonic study of our Lord, putting in parallel columns so much as each history has to say on a given point, and looking at the testimony of all the witnesses.

In the first method it is easy to see that Matthew writes for Jews, and his is the gospel of the King and of his kingdom, according to a correct interpretation of Old Testament foreshadowings. We find. therefore, in Matthew, many Old Testament quotations. He seeks to prove to the Jews that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Paul unites with Matthew in making the same proof, but with reference to a larger purpose than the limitation of Matthew.

Mark's Gospel may be called the Gospel of deeds rather than of teachings. It is limited to the earth life of Jesus, and describes the mighty things which he did. It is most vivid and minute in details and has much of narrative. It is the "straightway" gospel. As only an eyewitness could give the vivid and minute details of gesture, posture, indeed the very look of the actors and observers, this has been called Peter's Gospel. There is both external and internal evidence that Peter supplied most of the material of Mark's Gospel. As Mark limits himself almost exclusively to one of the four phases of our Lord's life and to only his public ministry, and as he makes but little special contribution to the sum of discourses, parables and miracles, we must find his most valuable contribution in his vivid and minute details, therein far surpassing all others. He surrounds his incidents with all the circumstances that make them impressive. We see the posture, gesture, look, and the effect. His particulars of person, number, time, and place are peculiar. His transitions are rapid, his tenses often are present not past, and we hear the very Aramaic words spoken, in direct quotation. It is more than a moving picture show, since we hear the very Aramaic words: "Boanerges," "Taitha cumi," "Corban," "Ephphatha," "abba."

Luke's Gospel may be called the Gospel of the Saviour and of humanity, his purpose being not so much to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, as to show his relation to all mankind. Because Luke's is the Gospel of the Saviour and of humanity, his genealogy extends back to Adam. Luke was not a Jew, and was the only Gentile who wrote a book of the Bible. His writings, Gospel and Acts, treat elaborately of the earth life of our Lord, and of his ascended life up to Paul's first Roman imprisonment. Renan the infidel, calls Luke's Gospel "the most beautiful book in the world." Speaking of them as masterpieces of human literature, Isaiah and Luke surpass all other books of the sacred library.

One cannot, in a few words, enumerate all the special contributions of Luke's Gospel. We may note a few:

He alone gives an account of the birth and training of John the Baptist.

He alone gives us the five great hymns: The "Hail Mary," the "Benedictus" of Zacharias, the "Magnificat" of Mary, the "Gloria in Excelsis" of the angels, and the "Nunc Dimittis" of Simeon.

He recites more miracles and parables than any other historian, and of these at least six miracles and seventeen parables are not given elsewhere.

More than the others it is the Gospel to woman, to the poor, to the sick, the outcast, and the foreigner.

To him we are indebted more than to all the others for the incidents and teachings of our Lord's ministry after the rejection in Galilee and up to the last week of that ministry.

It is more than the others the Gospel of prayers and thanksgiving in giving not only the occasions when our Lord prayed, and often the prayers themselves, but the lessons on prayer, taught to the disciples.

John's Gospel may be called the Gospel of positive knowledge, assurance, and comfort. It is more the subjective than the objective history. He means, evidently, to give to every Christian absolute knowledge, and internal assurance of the certainty of that knowledge.

Paul, less than the others, treats of the details of the earth life, discussing more the purposes of that life than its historical facts. It is interesting in comparing Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul to note each one's special contribution to the complete history of our Lord. No mere human historian would have omitted from his history what any one of them omits. We cannot account in a mere human way, for the omission of the early Judean ministry by the Synoptic Gospels, nor for John's omission of the bulk of the Galilean ministry. A careful student of the several histories of our Lord cannot fail to be impressed that no one of them alone, nor all of them together, intend anything like a complete biography like we find in the human history of a man. Each employs only that material essential to his plan, designedly leaving out everything not necessary to his purpose. John, at the close of his Gospel, rightly says, "Many other signs, therefore, did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name." A similar statement could well have been made by every historian. What is true with reference to the facts of his history, is also true with reference to his teachings. No one of them gives all of his teachings, or intended to do it, but only so much of the teachings as is necessary to his plan of history.

Indeed, Luke, in his second volume entitled "The Acts of the Apostles," says that his Gospel is an account of what Jesus began to do and to teach, implying that his second volume will tell of what Jesus continued to do and to teach in his exalted life. It is interesting as well as profitable to collect together the incidents, miracles, parables, and discourses given by each historian alone.

For example, Matthew alone gives the miracle of the healing of the two blind men, in chapter 9, and of the finding of the stater in the fish's mouth. Matthew alone gives ten of the great parables – the tares, the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the drawnet, the unmerciful servant, the laborers in the vineyard, the two sons, the marriage of the king's son, the ten virgins, and the talents. Matthew alone gives a somewhat full account of the great Sermon on the Mount, and the great discourses on the rejection of the Jews, and our Lord's great prophecy extending from chapter 21 through 25 of his book. He alone gives us certain incidents of the life of our Lord – the coming of the Wise Men, the massacre of the innocents, the flight into Egypt, the return to Nazareth, the covenant of Judas for thirty pieces of silver, his repentance and his end, the dream of Pilate's wife, the appearance of the saints in Jerusalem in connection with Christ's resurrection, the watch placed at the sepulcher, the bribing of these watchmen to spread false reports, and the earthquake.

It is in John alone that we find the early Judean ministry, the Samaritan ministry, the great discourse on the bread of life in Capernaum, the discourse of the Good Shepherd, and particularly the great discourse after the Lord's Supper, as embodied in chapters 14-17. These four chapters of John constitute the New Testament book of comfort, Isaiah 39-66 constitutes the Old Testament book of comfort.

Of course these examples of special contributions are samples only, not exhaustive.

It is in Paul's history alone that we find an addition to Luke's genealogy, that is, from the first Adam to the Second Adam. But as four of these Gospels are continuous histories, and as Paul's, the Fifth Gospel, is scattered throughout his many letters, we will consider in the next chapter the Fifth Gospel.




1. In what distinct phases does the New Testament set forth the life of our Lord?

2. What things are helpful to know, even when we study only the earth life of our Lord?


3. What is the meaning of our English word, "scriptures"?


4. Meaning of "Holy Scriptures"?


5. Meaning of "Bible"?


6. Meaning of "Holy Bible"?


7. What are the two grand divisions of our Holy Bible, of what does each consist and what the three subdivisions of each?


8. Why may we not strictly press the three general classifications of the New Testament books?


9. Who were the authors of the New Testament books, and how many did each write?


10. What is the proportion, of Paul's contribution to the New Testament?


11. Give derivation and meaning of our English word, "testament," and show how it is a misnomer when applied to our collection of sacred books.


12. In what two instances only in Bible usage may the Greek word, diatheke, be rendered "testament"? And in those instances show the one point of analogy between a "covenant" and a last will and testament.


13. Cite a notable historic instance of the mischief of confusing "covenant" and "testament."


14. What of the Campbellite argument based on this contention and in what book is it elaborated?


15. What is the radical defect of the argument?


16. Meaning of the Greek word rendered "gospel" in the New Testament? And in the New Testament, does it ever mean a narrative?


17. What are the uses in the New Testament of the word rendered "gospel" with the article only? In connection with the Father? With the Son? With the kingdom? With salvation?


18. What is the derivation and meaning of our English word, "gospel"?


19. In the sense of a narrative, how many gospels have come down to us in writing, which first reduced to writing, and which last?


20. Which are called Synoptics, and why?


21. In accounting for these several written histories, were any two or more based on any written history now lost?


22. Is there any reliable evidence that any one of the historians had before him a copy of any one of the other four histories, from which he consciously borrowed material, which he designedly condensed, elaborated or supplemented in any way?


23. How, then, must these five histories be regarded, and what the only common original?


24. How alone may we account for their agreements and differences?


25. Why five Gospels? Cite and apply the illustration found in Westcott's "Introduction."


26. Show, in the case of each historian, what phases of our Lord's life are treated – his pre-existence, his Old Testament foreshadowing, his earth life, his ascended life.


27. In what two ways may we profitably study these histories?


28. How may we characterize Matthew's Gospel, what is his chief design and what are the more important of his special contributions to the history?


29. How characterize Luke's Gospel, what is his chief design and what are some of his special contributions?


30. How characterize John's Gospel, what is his chief design and what are some of the most important of his special contributions?


31. What chapters of John constitute the New Testament book of comfort?


32. As Mark limits himself almost exclusively to only one of' the four phases, that is, the earth life of our Lord, and to his public ministry only, and as he contributes little to the sum of the parables, miracles and discourses, what is, in the main, his special contribution to the story of our Lord?




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In the preceding chapter we were considering the inspired histories of the life of our Lord. A reason for considering very particularly the Fifth Gospel, arises from a trend of modern thought, pregnant with menace. This trend is embodied in a method of treating the Bible, which appears to be concerted and systematic, and which comes in the garb of an angel of light with most attractive watchwords, and with the avowed object of best serving human interest by promoting a higher degree of morality. The slogan of this method is: "Back to Christ," meaning, "Back to Christ's own words." The object of the method is to strip the Gospels of all inspired value in their statements of what Christ is, or what he did, and confine them to an application of what he actually said. It matters nothing to the leaders of this method that our knowledge of what he said is dependent on the trustworthiness of the very witnesses whose evidence they discredit concerning what he is and what he did.

But this is not all of the method. It arbitrarily limits the sources of what he said to the records of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, commonly called the Synoptic Gospels, rejecting the Gospel of John. Even with this limitation they claim the right to discredit all the reported sayings of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels not in accord with their preconceived notions. But the limitation of Christ's own words to the record of the Synoptic Gospels is, after all, not so much to eliminate John as to get rid of Paul, who is most in their way. Their misleading slogan, "Back to Christ," means simply "Back from Paul."

Unwittingly this method bears strong testimony to the clearness and value of Paul's teaching. It is a virtual confession that if Paul stands they must fall. While this method is called modern, it is in fact only a revival of ancient error prevalent in Paul's own day, and in later days.

In this connection we may recall a recent discussion in Congress on the advisability of printing what is called "Jefferson's Bible" in connection with his other works. This socalled Bible is merely a patchwork of clippings from the Gospels of Christ's own words – or so many of them as Mr. Jefferson approved, the object being to classify the ethical teachings of Christ and to eliminate all the supernatural settings. Not a few of the most alert and clear-eyed sentinels on our watchtowers, discern in this trend of thought a menacing sword to the unwary, and have diligently sounded a note of alarm. Articles, pamphlets, and books on the subject, pro and con, are being rapidly multiplied, some of them valuable, others worthless contributions to religious literature.

Two of the many may be noted. The most scholarly, perhaps, is by Dr. Bruce, Professor of New Testament Exegesis in the Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland and is entitled Saint Paul's Conception of Christianity. It was published in 1894. While very instructive throughout, some parts of this discussion are justly liable to adverse criticism. The other, not nearly so pretentious, is yet pure gold in its saneness and simplicity. It is by a plain but earnest and successful gospel preacher, Dr. Malcolm McGregor, of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is entitled The Divine Authority of Paul's Writings. It was published in 1898. Dr. McGregor has classified the objections or objectors to Paul thus:

Some who profess to believe in the inspiration and authority of the Bible in vague general terms, but whose inherited or acquired dislike for certain of Paul's teachings lead them, with great inconsistency, to evade, modify, and explain away their force.

Preconceptions of rationalistic philosophy, the blinding influence of unscriptural customs, the warping force of adventurous love of novelty, overweening self-conceit, and headstrong self-will, account very fully for most of this dangerous anti-Pauline drift.

To these classifications of Dr. McGregor we may add a graver cause. When we consider the garb, watchword, concert, system, and effect of this method, we are constrained to recognize back of the movement that mighty and malignant intelligence who, from the beginning, comes as an angel of light, and by beguiling seduces many good people to serve him, and renders tributary to his purpose all the objections and prejudices of the unregenerate. It is immaterial that the leaders of this trend of thought are unconscious of the satanic influence prompting them.

So far as this modern method relates to the Four Gospels, we may content ourselves with this double reply:

If we accept the testimony of the synoptic historians as to the sayings of Christ, then we must accept it as to his being and doings. The evidence is the same.

The argument which destroys the trustworthiness of John's record of Christ's sayings, will equally destroy the credibility of the record in the Synoptic Gospels.

But our present concern is with the effect of this method on another historian. There is a Fifth Gospel, quite distinct from the others, equally necessary and credible with the others. The same inspiration which gave us the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, gave us also the Gospel of Paul. No one of the five tells all the story; each one of the five contributes an important and indispensable part to the completeness of the history. Here and there two, three, four, or five, may bear testimony to the same particular event of this history, or to the same particular teaching. Even in that case we need all the testimony, as each brings to light some detail not noted by the others. But here and there also an incident or a teaching is dependent upon the testimony of only one of the five. Each one of the five makes special, peculiar, unique, and indispensable contributions. And in both of these respects we recognize God's uniform method of inspiration: "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son." And this speaking was recorded partly by Mark, partly by Matthew, partly by Luke, partly by John, and partly by Paul.

Now of these Five Gospels by far the most extensive, the most comprehensive and the most important, is the Gospel by Paul. We are so accustomed to the thought of only Four Gospels that we compare them to the four rivers which watered the garden of Eden.

Before considering in detail the merits of the Fifth Gospel, let us first consider an antecedent matter – the nature and qualifications of the apostolic office. This office was extraordinary. It was limited to the times of the institution of the Christian system. There was no provision for its perpetuity in the church, though some of our Baptist brethren of Virginia once ventured to elect an apostle. Upon certain persons appointed by our Lord' himself as ambassadors were conferred plenipotentiary powers to act for him in the matters entrusted to them. They were, primarily, witnesses of his resurrection from the dead. Indeed, one could not be an apostle who had not seen the risen Lord. They were inspired revelators of his will, and infallible judges and expounders of the doctrines and discipline he inculcated. They were also the executors of penal judgment, when necessary, as when Peter smote with instant death Ananias and Sapphira, and when Paul smote Elymas with blindness. They were accredited by miraculous signs, as when men were healed by the shadow of Peter, and others afar off by contact with a handkerchief that Paul had touched. They were immune from deadly poisons, and could, by the laying on of their hands, impart the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. There were two classes of these apostles – twelve to the Jews, and one to the Gentiles. In the case of an apostle to the Jews, it was necessary that he should have companied with Jesus all the time of his Jewish ministry, from the baptism by John to the ascension into heaven. In the case of the Apostle to the Gentiles, it was necessary that he had personally seen the risen Lord, been put into office by him, and had received directly from him the gospel he preached.

Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. He had seen the Lord, was directly commissioned and accredited by him, and by direct revelation received his whole wonderful gospel. It was not of man, nor by man. His knowledge of the gospel was entirely independent of any teaching, preaching, or writing of the other men. For example: Matthew wrote of the institution of the Lord's Supper as he saw it, Mark and Luke as they received the story of the testimony of eyewitnesses, but Paul wrote of it as the Lord Jesus Christ himself reported it to him, and to Paul are we indebted for more knowledge of the institution and meaning of this ordinance than to all other sources put together. The other apostles could tell it as they saw it, but Paul tells it as Jesus saw it. He commences his account of it by saying, “For I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you." In like manner, when summarizing his gospel, he says, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures."

In every way possible he not only emphasizes that his gospel was independent of any human source of information, but makes the reception of it as from God a test of the claims of others: "For if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandments of the Lord." In this plenipotentiary power he ordained decrees for all the churches; he commanded, restricted, enjoined with all authority. The content of his gospel is marvelous in its fulness, clearness and comprehensiveness. On the pro-existence, original glory and activities of the Son of God, he surpasses John; on the foreshadowing of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament he surpasses Matthew; on his assumption of human nature and the reasons therefore, on his offices as prophet, king, sacrifice, priest, and judge he surpasses all. He alone reveals the termination of the kingdom of God. On the plan of salvation, and on the connecting links of the whole chain of its doctrines, he stands alone. From him, certainly as to its fulness, come the revelation of the universality of the gospel, and the marvelous wisdom of God in the election of Israel, the stumbling of Israel, the call of the Gentiles and the restoration of Israel. The doctrines of the nature, universality and cure of sin, the nature, scope, and purpose of the law, the resurrection of the dead are mainly derived from Paul's Gospel. Concerning the church, not only as an institution, and not only as an ideal to be realized hereafter, but as a working business body, and concerning its officers, ordinances, discipline and commission, Paul's Gospel reveals more than all the rest of the Bible. From his gospel also we get the truest and clearest teachings concerning the person, offices, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is yet a point touching his gospel of transcendent importance. I refer particularly to the offices and activities of the ascended and exalted Lord. Where is our Lord now? What is his employment there? How long will he remain there, or when will he return to earth again? And why will he come again, and to do what? And what the outcome of that return? Luke, indeed, devotes an entire volume, the Acts of the Apostles, to the activities of the ascended Lord up to a definite time, and so John devotes another book, Revelation, to the same matter projected to the end of time, but certainly it is in Paul's Gospel that we find most clearly set forth the present reign of Christ on the heavenly throne, the giving and dispensation of the Holy Spirit and the dispensation of the churches.

In this connection I desire to commend with great earnestness to all readers a modern book entitled, The Ascended Christ. It is by H. B. Sweet, and was published in 1910, by the Macmillan Company. There are interpretations of some passages of Scripture in this book that I deem faulty, but on the whole it is a marvelous contribution to the literature concerning our ascended Lord.

These are a few of the things that may be truthfully said concerning the scope and value of the Fifth Gospel. Why is it, then, that harmonies ignore the Fifth Gospel, Great indeed will be the victory of Satan if, by the catchy phrase, "Back to Christ," he can succeed in backing us away from the Gospel of Paul. Though an angel from heaven bring another gospel, let him be accursed. It is an objection to all harmonies extant that they either slightly recognize the Fifth Gospel, or utterly disregard its correlative material, thus giving the student an imperfect view of OUT Lord's nature, person, offices, and teachings.

It is frankly conceded that the correlation of very much of the material of the Fifth Gospel with the records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is on many accounts a matter of serious difficulty. Not the least of these difficulties lies in the fact that while the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are mainly historical, each one being in some form a continuous story of our Lord's life on earth, the Fifth Gospel is mainly doctrinal, and is not in one continuous statement, but widely scattered in many letters, the revelations coming, moreover, from our Lord in heaven. Another difficulty consists in knowing how to limit the amount of the material used and just where to place it in a given case. To some minds a yet graver difficulty would consist in determining just what books of the New Testament contain the Fifth, or Pauline, Gospel. This need not be a difficulty when we accept as certain from Paul the thirteen letters usually ascribed to him, and while some dissent, we count the letter to the Hebrews as Paul's. In any event, whether Apollos wrote it, as many erroneously claim, or Luke wrote it, as some conjecture, embodying a sermon by Paul, it is immaterial to our purpose and use. It is unquestionably Pauline in its origin and doctrine. Let us not forget that all harmonies of even the first three or four gospels are human, imperfect, obnoxious to objections, and attended with considerable difficulties. The obvious difficulties necessitate imperfection in any human attempt at perfect correlation of the material of the five gospels. But notwithstanding the difficulties, confessedly great, and the objections, confessedly forceful, and the imperfections of the work when done, frankly conceded, it is profoundly believed that by harmonic use of much of the material of the Fifth Gospel the result will be manifold and great, and so justify the effort.

Somewhat is gained at least by fixing the fact in the Bible student's mind that there are five gospels, equal in authority, and all indispensable parts of a complete revelation of our Lord's person, nature, offices, relations, and teachings in the four phases of his life already named. The mere fixing of this fact in the mind helpfully serves to check the current of semi infidelity in many schools which seek to discredit Paul by magnifying Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Wherein are their credentials, as reporters of our Lord's person, doings and teachings, superior to Paul's? Moreover, the inclusion of the matter of the Fifth Gospel in the correlation will make more apparent the important fact that the Pauline doctrines considered by objectors as most obnoxious or as innovations, will be shown to be in perfect harmony with the very words of our Lord as reported by the other historians, to wit: the doctrines of his essential deity, of the vicarious expiation, justification by faith, election, and eternal punishment.

Yet again, this method affords to the student, on one canvass, a more nearly complete portrait of our Lord, and in one view a more comprehensive summary of his teachings. It is a signal merit of harmony of Dr. John A. Broadus that he includes Paul's testimony concerning the institution of the Supper and the appearances of our Lord after his resurrection. Why not equally meritorious to correlate Paul's testimony of Christ's pre-existence, and his assumption of human nature, with the corresponding records in the other gospels? Certainly to Paul was revealed many most important facts concerning the incarnation and its objects, which belong properly to our Lord's earthly life, and hence may harmonize with other histories of that life.

Just here we may restate the terminals of the several gospels. Mark's Gospel is the gospel of Christ's deeds, written for Romans, and so he leaves to others the report of all antecedent matters, commences with the public ministry of our Lord, abruptly plunges into the heart of his subject, and as abruptly closes with some evidence of the resurrection. The scope of Mark's history is like the survey of a small section of a mighty river, which takes no account of the whence, and but little of the whither. He finds it a river, but far from the source, and leaves it a river, far from the sea. The baptism and resurrection of Jesus are the terminal points of his history.

Matthew, who gives the gospel of the King and of the kingdom, writing for Jews to convince them of the messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, goes back 2,000 years beyond Mark to find a starting point in Abraham, and closes with the Great Commission.

Luke, who writes the gospel of the Saviour, recognizing Christ's broader relation to humanity, goes back of the Jewish limitations of Matthew's view another 2,000 years, and starting from the first man, projects his history, including the Acts, into the triumphant years of world evangelization by the apostles. Commencing with Adam, he ends in Paul's hired house at Rome. But even he strikes the stream at only its human source, or appearance in the realm of time, and leaves it flowing, yet far from the sea.

John, who writes for the Christian the gospel of positive knowledge, assurance, and comfort, and from a more subjective point of view than that of the others, goes back beyond all time, even leaving far behind the initial sentence of Moses: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and starts with the ultima thule of revelation in one direction: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Thus fastening one end of the chain of his story on this altitude of eternity, he swoops far down to the history of creation by Moses, floods it with light, enters into the earth life of our Lord and projects his history, including Revelation, beyond the second coming and the Judgment, into the antitypical paradise. But the river has not yet reached the sea.

Paul, writing for all men, with the broadest view, commences indeed with John, for none can go beyond him in that direction, parallels his course through time, with him entering into the antitypical paradise, and finds the other ultima thule of Revelation in this termination: "Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; . . And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him, that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor.15: 24-28).

Thus eternity speaks across all time to eternity, and thus we have the four phases of the life of our Lord: his preexistence and essential deity; his adumbration in the Old Testament history; his incarnation, that is, his earth life; his life and activities after ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God.

This is the life we are to study. As stress was laid upon the thorough study of the Genesis of Moses, how much more the study of this Genesis! My father impressed upon the minds of his boys this great principle: In erecting a building, never try to economize on site, foundation, or roof. A good building on a faulty location is a waste; a big house cannot stand on a flimsy foundation; and a faulty roof is a ceaseless eye-sore, abomination, and expense. We should, therefore, take time and exercise the patience necessary to root our faith deep down and ground it solidly on these beginnings and endings in eternity. If we start right we go on well. If we make a pitiful start we drag an ever weightier chain on to the end, and can never answer the supreme questions – who is our Saviour? or, "What think ye of Christ?" They can never be answered if we leave out any of these four phases of his life. Before we consider Mark's grown man, Luke's infant, or Matthew's Jew, we must follow John and Paul back to the real beginning and on to the real end.

Then will we know whom we have believed, whom we worship. Then, when the question is asked in the words of our Lord, "Who say ye that I am?" not as an Arian, not as a Socinian, not as a Sabellian, not as an Unitarian, not any kindred folk, we find the truer answer that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son and Christ of God, the God-man appointed to be prophet, priest, sacrifice, king, and judge.

We are not to understand that all of these five gospels together give a complete biography of Christ as judged by the standard of human historians. Only such matter as is pertinent to the plan of each writer is used. Near the close of John's Gospel he says, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. and that believing ye may have life in his name." And later he adds the more remarkable words: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

A harmony is an orderly correlation in parallel columns of the matter of several independent historians, or the testimony of several independent witnesses.

Having now considered somewhat the inspired histories of the life of Christ, I name some of the many human histories of that life. While many more could be named, those that are named have been carefully examined upon every point set forth in our discussion of the life of our Lord. They are: Edersheim's Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah; Farrar's Story of a Beautiful Life; Noah K. Davis' Story of the Nazarene; Stalker's Life of Christ; Deems' The Light of the Nations; Young's The Christ of History; David Smith's In the Days of His Flesh; Sweet's The Ascended Christ; McLear's New Testament History; that infidel's romance, Renan's Life of Jesus; Henry Ward Beecher's Life of Christ; Fleetwood's Life of Christ; and the following parts of Josephus: Antiquities, books 14 to 18, War of the Jews, from Book I, chapter 10, to Book 2, chapter 9.

Of all these human lives of our Lord, it is a matter of surprise to find Beecher's the weakest and poorest.




1. How many gospels are there?


2. What evil trend of modem thought necessitates special emphasis  on the Fifth Gospel?


3. What is its garb and slogan?


4. What is the limit and effect of its method?


5. What is the real meaning of its slogan, "Back to Christ"?


6. Name and estimate two valuable books called forth by this discussion.


7. How does Dr. McGregor classify the objections to Paul's Gospel?


8. Who is the real person back of the whole movement against Paul?


9. What is the nature, limitation, and qualifications of the apostolic  office?


10. What two classes of apostles?


11. In what respect does Paul's knowledge of his gospel differ from  Matthew's and John's, from Mark's and Luke's and illustrate by the  account of the institution of the Lord's Supper by Matthew, by Mark  and Luke, and by Paul.


12. Set forth the merits and superiorities of Paul's Gospel.


13. What are the difficulties of correlating Paul's Gospel in a harmony  with the other four?


14. Notwithstanding the difficulties, what is the gain?


15. What two items only of Paul's Gospel does Dr. Broadus include  in his harmony?


16. What are terminals of each of the Five Gospels?


17. What is a harmony?


18. What books covering the life of our Lord are named, and what  parts of Josephus are recommended for reading?  





(Return to Contents)




Having considered somewhat in the preceding chapters the five inspired histories of the four distinct phases of the life of our Lord, we now glance at the New Testament account of the several historians, deeming it unnecessary to discuss later traditions concerning them.



The name. This name appears in all the four lists of the twelve apostles to the Jews, to wit: Matthew 10:lff; Mark 3:13ff; the two lists by Luke (6:14-16); Acts l:13f. In his own account of his call he so names himself (Matt. 9:9), though both Mark (2:14) and Luke (5:27) in their account of his call give Levi as his name. So that, like others of the twelve, he had two names. It is quite possible that Levi was his original name and Matthew his new Christian name, conferred at the time of his call, as Simon was called Peter, and Saul, the persecutor, of Acts 9, becomes Paul, the missionary, in Acts 13.

His relations. Mark calls him "the son of Alpheus." And as in all the lists of the apostles, twice next to his own name, "James, the son of Alpheus," appears. He had at least one brother among the apostles. It is also possible that Thomas, another of the apostles, was his twin brother, and also possible that Judas (Thaddeus), another apostle, was his brother. This last depends upon a rendering of the Greek of Luke 6:16 – Joudan Jacobou, i.e., "brother of James," or "son of James." If we render "brother of James" according to the common version, which is defensible, then he also was a brother of Matthew.

Residence. According to all the Synoptic Gospels his home, or "house," was in Capernaum.

Occupation. According to his own account he was a publican or collector of the Roman revenue and had a city office called the "receipt of custom" or "place of toll." The Roman tribute in the political provinces into which conquered nations were divided was usually farmed out to some favorite of Caesar or of the Senate, who commonly sublet the contract of collection to native subordinates in districts, called "chief publicans," as Zaccheus of Jericho (Luke 19:15), and these in turn to lower subordinates in towns or villages. Though the record does not say so, it is probable from Luke 5:29 that Matthew also was a chief publican, inviting all his subordinates to a feast.

Where a province was restive and resentful under Roman rule, as was notably the case of the Jews, and where the exactions of tribute were cruel and rapacious, a native who sublet one of these contracts became odious to his own people and in the case of the Jews not only became a social outcast, classed with the vilest of sinners, but was counted an alien from covenant blessing. We may find some illustrative particulars in Cicero against Verres, and in the impeachment of Warren Hastings.

If to a Jewish patriot it became a vital question: "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar" (Mark 12:14), and if this tribute was so hateful it sometimes led to open revolt (Acts 5:37), how hateful the Jew who became a collector of it!

According to the Southern idea, in the awful days of destruction, misnamed Reconstruction, the impecunious Roman favorite who farmed the revenue would be a "carpetbagger," and the native Jew who sublet from him would be a "scalawag." In the language of a Southern statesman, "The carpet baggers and the scalawags defiled the traditions of the past, desecrated the graves of the dead, reduced the living to humiliating conditions of abject penury, and even thrust their long itching felonious fingers into the pockets of posterity, robbing the unborn of a decent living while stripping them of all opportunity to rise again from the ashes of desolation." The result was that millions in the South, without cherishing bitterness on account of open war or its legitimate results, held the deeds of carpetbaggers and scalawags, and the unwise congressional hate which made them possible, as sins unpardonable by God or man.

The illustration serves to show the deep intensity of the hate of Jewish patriots against Jewish publicans, and their horror against our Lord's social reception of them and eating with them. Under such a vicious system of collecting revenue, extortion became the rule, its only limits the depravity of the collector and the people's capacity of endurance. That it was the rule, appears from Luke 3:13, where convicted publicans seeking baptism inquired of John the Baptist what the fruits of repentance in their case, and he replies: "Extort no more than is appointed you," and from the proposed restitution of the saved Zaccheus: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). How keen was the publicans' sense of social degradation appears from their joyous acceptance of salvation from him who "received them and ate with them." No wonder they entered the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees (Matt. 21:31), and no wonder the contrast in their prayers (Luke 18:9-14).

How marvelous, then, the grace, and how inexplicable to the Jewish mind, to find a publican numbered with the apostles and the selection of this man alone to become the historian of the Gospel to the Jews.

Incidents of his life. The Gospels and Acts specifically record only six incidents of his life, i.e., in which his name appears. (1) His call to discipleship by our Lord, and his instant obedience (Matt. 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-28). We note in these brief accounts how prompt and unhesitating his response and how complete his renunciation: "He forsook all and followed him." (2) The great feast he gave to Jesus and its opportunity for fellow publicans to meet the Lord. To the Saviour it evidences overflowing gratitude, to his fellow publicans outflowing desire for their salvation. It must be reckoned among the most honorable feasts of history. (3) His ordination as an apostle (Mark 3:13-18; Luke 6:13-15). (4) He is charged as an apostle when sent out to labor away from the Lord (Matt. 10:1-42). (5) His participation in the great prayer service for the coming of the Holy Spirit, after our Lord's ascension (Acts 1:13-14). (6) His writing of the Gospel according to Matthew. See title of this book.

We particularize those incidents only where his name appears in the record. But from the record we may infer another incident, he was a disciple of John the Baptist. The scriptures which support this probability are: (a) Mark declares John's preaching and baptism to be "the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (1:1-2). (b) John baptized many publicans (Luke 3:12). (c) John's mission was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord," which in the apostles our Lord received, (d) Hence Peter declares that in filling the vacancy in the twelve caused by the apostasy of Judas, the candidate must be one who had "companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us beginning from the baptism of John unto the day he was received up from us" (Acts 1:21-22). (e) The promptness of Matthew to follow our Lord when called implies previous conversion.

We may note one well-attested tradition, to wit: That Matthew wrote a gospel in Hebrew, i.e., Aramaic of which there are no known extant copies. The Greek gospel by him which we possess does not appear to be a translation from an Aramaic original. The matter is immaterial since in the formation of the New Testament collection of books it was unnecessary to include and preserve all the writings of New Testament authors any more than to record all the sayings and doings of our Lord.



The scriptural material for the life of this historian is contained in the following passages: Acts 12:12-25; 13:5-13; 15: 37-39' Philemon 24; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13, and possibly Mark 14:51-52.

From these passages the following facts appear: his name was John, but surnamed Mark, as Simon was surnamed Peter. His mother, Mary, had a home in Jerusalem, which was a place of assembly for the disciples, and the great disciple, Barnabas, was a near kinsman. Mark was not an apostle, though a disciple converted by Peter. As a youth he may have personally known our Lord. It is quite possible that he refers to himself as present at the arrest of our Lord in the passage on the young man in the "linen cloth" (14:51), especially since it was the custom of Bible historians and some classic authors to refer to themselves in the third person. This would sufficiently account for introducing the paragraph. It is more probable, however, that Mark here, as characteristic of him elsewhere, merely gives a striking, realistic detail as a setting to his picture of the arrest unnoted by other historians. Since "it is only a step from the sublime to the ridiculous," and since comedy attends every public tragedy, Mark's record of this ludicrous incident makes the story true to nature, and helps to demonstrate that he is not writing fiction. In any event we may reject the wild fancy of Melville, whose sermon on the passage finds the antitype of the Leviticus scapegoat in the young man in the linen cloth.

The first clear case of Mark's own appearance in New Testament history was his going from Jerusalem to Antioch, attending Barnabas and Saul, who were returning thither from their ministration of alms to the poor saints at Jerusalem about the time that Herod slew James and imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:25).

His next movement is, in Paul's judgment, far from creditable. We look in vain to find in the history an explanation that exculpates him. What he did was to abandon Paul and Barnabas at a most critical period of their labors and return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). It is perhaps unprofitable to conjecture a reason where the record is silent. It possibly was jealousy for his kinsman, Barnabas, hitherto the leader, but henceforward subordinate to Paul. At Acts 9:27; 11:22-25; 11:30; 13:25; 13:2, it is always "Barnabas and Saul," but from 13:9 onward the leader is Paul. It was "Paul's company" that sailed from Cyprus (13:13), and henceforward it is almost always "Paul and Barnabas" (13:43, 46; 14:14; 15: 2, 22, 35-36). True, naturally, the church at Jerusalem heard Barnabas first (15:12) because they had sent him out (11:22) and so put his name first in their letter (15:25). It is true also that the idolaters of Lystra called Barnabas "Jupiter" and Paul only "Mercury," but it was a silent Jupiter, Paul being the "chief speaker" and therefore named Mercury (14: 12).

Possibly also Mark, being only a young soldier, never having endured hardness, dreaded the perils and labors so graphically described at 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. In any event at Perga of Pamphilia "John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem." It is also quite possible that Mark's Jewish prejudices were not yet sufficiently eradicated to enable him to appreciate Paul's boldness in carrying the gospel to the Gentiles, as he had notably done in Cyprus in the case of the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus. If this was his reason, the result of the great Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) was a surprise to him.

This possible reason would explain the fact that we next find John Mark at Antioch, whither after the Jerusalem conference he must have accompanied Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, ready now, it, would seem, to resume a mission he had formerly abandoned. But his former desertion rankles in Paul's mind, so that his proposed company on the new mission becomes the occasion of sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas and resulted in a separation between these great co-workers (see Acts 15:36-41). Paul was a stern soldier, unwilling to try again on a toilsome and dangerous mission one "who withdrew from them, from Pamphilia, and went not with them to the work."

So for a long time Mark is shut off from a share in Paul's life and the glory of his achievements. Barnabas, however, took him and '''sailed away unto Cyprus," and so both sail out of the history, Barnabas to return no more, but Mark happily to reappear much later. We are gratified to find him once more a companion and fellow worker of Paul in the first Roman imprisonment (Philem. 24) whom Paul is about to send forth to Colosse with a communication (Col. 4:10). We next find both him and Silas with Peter at Babylon (1 Peter 5:12-13), thence he returns to proconsular-Asia, from whence Paul in his last letter, again a prisoner and under sentence of death at Rome, is calling for him in full acknowledgment of the pleasure of his company and the profit of his ministry (2 Tim. 4:11).

The greatest, best, and most enduring of his works is "The Gospel according to Mark" (see title of his book). For this work he had ample qualification. He was living in Jerusalem when our Lord was crucified, and when he rose from the dead. and when the 120 received the baptism in the Spirit. He was himself led to Christ by Peter either in the great Pentecostal revival, or in the rest that followed Saul's persecution. Peter calls him "Mark, my son," as Paul called Timothy "My true child in the faith."

Mark thus shared the glories of the early Jerusalem church, knew personally of its three great persecutions: (1) by the Sadducees (Acts 4-5) ; (2) by the Pharisees (Acts 6:9 to 8:3) ; (3) by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-23). His mother's home was a place of meeting for the church. Thus in Jerusalem and in his home he heard all the twelve tell the wonderful story of the Lord. He was present at the great Jerusalem conference (Acts 15).

He was intimately associated: with Peter; with Barnabas and Saul; with Barnabas; with Paul, and again with Peter. His gospel was written, not for Jews, but for Romans, and has well been called the gospel of Peter. The tradition to that effect is abundant and credible, and well harmonizes with the internal evidence. It was written at Rome, but just when we do not know. It is rightly placed after Matthew's Gospel to the Jews. As in the preaching, so in the histories: "To the Jews first." This expositor does not share the theory that one of the gospels was the norm from which the others were developed, and hence does not share the growing modern conviction based on it that Mark was first written. It has no historical basis. The only norm was the oral gospel.



This historian was a Gentile, and the only Gentile who was the author of a Bible book. He writes two volumes, his gospel, which is a history of our Lord's earth life, and the Acts, which is a history of our Lord's ascended life up to a certain date (Luke 1:1-3 and Acts 1:1). The title to his "Gospel according to Luke" contains his only direct use of his own name. He is the faithful companion of Paul who names him in three letters, Philemon 24, Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4: 11. Paul declares him to be "the beloved physician," and that he was a medical practitioner we might infer from some peculiar expressions in his history.

His companionship with Paul, so far as he himself notices it, is indicated by the use of the personal pronoun. When in the Acts he uses the first person plural "we" or "us" to describe Paul's movements, he is present. When he uses the third person "they" or "them," he is not with Paul. From this use of the pronoun we see that he joined Paul at Troas, on the second missionary tour of that book (Acts 16:10) accompanied him to Philippi, and was with him in the great meeting there. Here Luke remained several years, until Paul came back to that city at the conclusion of his third missionary tour and was about to return to Syria to carry the alms he had gathered in Macedonia and Achaia to the poor saints at Jerusalem. Luke is now with him throughout all the rest of the history from Acts 20:5 to the end.

So he shared with Paul four imprisonments: in Jerusalem; two years imprisonment in Caesarea; two years first imprisonment in Rome, and the last Roman imprisonment. The first Roman imprisonment ends Luke's own account. Paul himself testifies to Luke's presence in the first Roman imprisonment (Philem. 24; Col. 4:14). He also testifies that Luke alone is with him in his last Roman imprisonment (2 Tim. 4:11).

Luke and Paul are the only scholarly men of the New Testament writers.

There are some indirect allusions which may inclusively refer to Luke, e.g., 2 Corinthians 8:11-12, 23, and Luke 24:13f. Luke's being a "beloved physician" may account, in a measure, for his close companionship with Paul, who, besides many physical infirmities, suffered serious afflictions in the body at the hands of relentless persecutors. He is not Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 12:1), nor the other Lucius (Rom. 16:21), a kinsman of Paul. The name is different in Greek, Latin, and English.



There are more biographical details in the New Testament concerning John than concerning all others of its authors together, apart from Peter and Paul. These details, generally given by himself in his five books, are so clear and vivid the man seems alive before us as we read. We distinctly see him as a disciple of John the Baptist, the first disciple of our Lord; with Andrew, the fisherman of the Sea of Galilee; his first call to continuous service and companionship with Jesus; one of the twelve apostles to the Jews and the last to survive; his great prominence among the twelve before and after the death of our Lord; one of the "sons of thunder" among them; an inspired writer; a teacher of love; certain knowledge and a never-doubting assurance; a positive witness who never tangles in his testimony; a theologian, and elder; the one ever nearest to our Lord and best beloved; an exile in tribulation for the faith, and the pre-eminent seer.

Doubtless all the twelve were first disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 1:21-22), but of John it is distinctly affirmed (John 1:35-39).

Even in old age he recalls the very hour in which he first saw the Lord. It is the foundation of all his theology that he first saw him as "the Lamb of God." Not as king, prophet, priest, or judge did he first see him, but as the atoning Sacrifice which taketh away the sin of the world. So most of us first consciously see our Lord as a sacrifice, or Saviour from sin, rather than in his other offices.

Nearest to our Lord. On five distinct and eventful occasions he declares himself to be "the disciple that Jesus loved: " (1) When at the last passover his head rested on the bosom of the Lord and he received the disclosure of the betrayer (13:23); (2) when on the cross our Lord commended his mother to his care (19:26) ; (3) when to him and Peter Mary Magdalene reported the empty tomb (20:2) ; (4) when at the Sea of Tiberias he recognized the risen Lord (21:7) ; (5) when Peter, commanded to follow our Lord, asks, "what shall this man do?" (21:20). But this nearness is even more apparent when often, in his gospel, he discloses the very heart of the Lord.

Prominence among the twelve. (1) He is one of the four first called to continuous service (Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16-20), and the same four constitute the first group in the four lists of the apostles (Matt. 10:2f; Mark 3:16f; Luke 6:41f; Acts 1: i3f). (2) He is one of the inner three specially honored by our Lord to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37' Luke 8:51) ; to witness the transfiguration (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), and to witness his agony in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). (3) He is associated with Peter, the leading apostle, in making ready the last passover (Luke 22:8); in witnessing the examination of our Lord in the house of Annas (John 18:16) ; in visiting the tomb of our Lord (John 20:2-8); in the healing of the lame man at the door of the Temple and all the attendant circumstances (Acts 3-4); in being sent by the other apostles to confer the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit on Philip's Samaritan converts (Acts 8:14f); in being a reputed pillar in the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9). (4) He and his brother James are surnamed "the sons of thunder" among the twelve (Mark 3: 17). Without any warrant commentators have made this surname a term of reproach by making it an anticipation of a much later event (Luke 9:51) in which John is rebuked by our Lord. There is no relation between the giving of the surname and the event. As Simon was honored by the surname Peter, so James and John are honored by the surname "Boanerges." The word marks their evident power and energy.

John as a witness. More than any other of the twelve does John fulfil the office of witness foretold by our Lord (15:27), and particularly as a witness of his resurrection (Acts 1:22). He emphasizes the fact that John the Baptist, our Lord himself, his works, the Holy Spirit, the water, and the blood are all witnesses with whom he must stand, giving testimony. Hence, when he saw the blood and water follow the piercing of the aide of Christ, fulfilling two Old Testament scriptures that identify him as the passover Lamb and the suffering Saviour, his is careful to add: "And he that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true: and he knoweth that what he saith is true, that ye also may believe." Indeed, he regards his whole gospel as evidence on the witness stand with a view to belief in the evidence: "This is the disciple that beareth witness of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his witness is true" (21:24), and long afterward he identifies the author of the Revelation as the John who had thus borne witness in his gospel (Rev. 1:2). So he regards all of that book, Revelation, as the testimony of his risen Lord (Rev. 22:16-20), and all through the record of this testimony he is careful to say, "I, John, am he that saw and heard these things" (Rev. 22:8). As if he realized the challenge and cross-examination of future scepticism, he never tangles himself in giving evidence, is never doubtful of his facts, but speaks with positive knowledge and full assurance. All of his senses bear witness. In his own words: "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life (and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye may also have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3). To these organs of sense in the outer man, sight, hearing, touch, he adds the witness of the inner man: "And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you: but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him."

He himself was present at an appearance of the Lord when those who saw him were terrified and affrighted, supposing they beheld a spirit, and heard him say, "Why are ye troubled? and wherefore do questionings arise in your heart? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having."

John the theologian. Some manuscripts give this as the title of his book: The Gospel of John, the Theologian. While evidently the words "The Theologian" are additions by a later hand, they are also evidently true. For verification compare the etymology of the word "theology" with John's prologue (1:1-18) which is the norm from which his whole gospel is developed. Apart from John, Paul only of all other apostles and New Testament authors may be called a theologian.

The offsets against John consist of three particulars: (1) John, with the other apostles, when they saw one casting out demons in the name of Jesus, forbade him because he would not follow them. He forgot that we are not called to follow this or that man, but Jesus only. One of our commonest faults is to confound ourselves with the Lord. I know a preacher who constantly mistakes himself for Christ. Failure to follow him in opinions and methods is counted disloyalty to God himself. Our Lord severely rebuked John and the others who thus dared to so limit individual service. Whatever may be our position and power in the kingdom, we do not hold in sacerdotal hands the monopoly of grace and control the mediums of its communications. This error was a dominant one in the great apostasy. Our Lord made this lamentable error the occasion of one of his most solemn and profitable lessons (Mark 9:38-50; Luke 9:49-50; Matt. 18: 6-14).

(2) John and James wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the village of Samaritans that refused to receive Jesus (Luke 9:51-56). Here again they mistook themselves for God. Vengeance is the peculiar prerogative of the Almighty (Rom. 12:19) and the time of his vengeance is the final judgment. The duty of the disciple in such a case is limited to witness- bearing in the solemn charges to the twelve when they were sent out to preach: "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as you go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." The seed of all the persecutions for conscience' sake was in John's error here. That seed, where fully developed in any heart, produces a Philip II more infamous than Nero and next to the devil. Even from above heavenward some of the light of glory may shine the chariot of the sun, and Vergil tells how Eolus wickedly usurped the prerogative of Neptune in stirring up the sea storm to destroy the fleet of Aeneas, and of the presumption of even Juno when she said, "I will shake all heaven with thunder" over them while the ocean engulfs them. Et ciebo ome coelum tonitru.

(3) The ambition of James and John, aided by their mother, in seeking the two most prominent places in the kingdom of glory (Matt. 20:20-28; Luke 18:35-45). Again our Lord severely rebukes them and imparts another solemn and profitable lesson.

A newspaper reports that when the Pan-Episcopal Council met in London, Dean Stanley put up a coal-black Negro, Bishop of Haiti, to preach in Westminster Abbey to royalty and nobility, surrounded with "storied urn and animated bust." He read for his double text the mother's foolish prayer (Matt. 20:20-21) and the equally foolish prayer of her sons (Luke 18:35-37), and then said, "Let us pray," and himself thus prayed:

"O thou Creator, God, who made all nations of one blood and fashioned their hearts alike and loved all and died for all, let the sons of Shem, who betrayed the Lord, have the place at thy right hand, and the sons of Japheth, who crucified the Lord, have the place at thy left hand. But Lord, grant that the sons of African Simon, the Cyrenean. who bore thy cross may have a place at the outer gate, where indeed from above heavenward some of the light of glory may shine them and some of its music cheer them, but where, looking earthward, they may see 'Ethiopia stretching out her hands to God,' and be the first to greet her dusky sons coming up home to heaven."

No eloquence of Pitt or Burke or Sheridan ever equalled that prayer, and what a pity that James and John never heard it!

At least once a month every preacher should read and lay to his heart these three great lessons of our Lord called forth by spots on the white robe of John, and every time let him feel the need of sanctification as well as of justification and regeneration in order to complete salvation.

After Paul's death John moved to proconsular-Asia, where he wrote all of his five books. Ephesus was his headquarters, from which he was banished to Patmos in the last years of Domitian, returning to Ephesus after that tyrant's death. He lived to be nearly 100 years old, and probably was the only apostle who escaped martyrdom, though some tradition makes him also a martyr.

John's family, social, and financial standing. Zebedee and Salome were his parents. They had a home on the Sea of Galilee and were able to hire servants to carry on their business of supplying fish for a great market. The business did not stop because the sons entered the ministry (Mark 1:20).

The mother, later, herself followed the Lord around, and was a member of the first Ladies' Aid Society that ministered to the Lord of their substance, when living, and brought spices for his embalming when dead (compare Luke 8:2 with Mark 15:40-41; 16:1).

John himself owned a home in Jerusalem, to which he conducted the mother of our Lord after the crucifixion (John 19: 25). His acquaintance with the ex-high priest, Annas, and the ready access to his home indicate social standing (John 18:15-16).

There is a touching tradition concerning John's extreme old age. When over one hundred years old, too weak to walk and too feeble to stand, he would have the brethren help him into the church at Ephesus and support him, while with uplifted, trembling hands, he would say, "Little children, love one another."

Another tradition shows his hatred of heretics who denied the deity of his Lord. He had entered a bathhouse, but, learning that Cerinthus, the heretic, was also there, he abruptly left the building, saying, "Let us get away lest the house fall on us for being in such company." Such heretics are more plentiful and less dreaded now. They even claim the seat of John in the kingdom.

The New Testament details for a biography of Paul, the other historian, are too numerous for this introduction, and will be considered when we reach the interpretation of Acts 9, or his first book.




1. Give some New Testament account of Matthew.


2. What was a publican?


3. Explain the Roman system of collecting revenue in the conquered provinces, its viciousness and account for Jewish hate of the publicans.


4. Illustrate by an incident in the British government of India, by a noted case in Roman government outside of Judea, and by the reconstruction days in the South.


5. What are the New Testament incidents of Matthew's life, that is, where does his name appear in the record?


6. What other incident may we infer from the record and the scriptural ground of its probability?


7. What one well-attested tradition?


8. What is the scriptural material for a life of Mark?


9. Give the several conjectures of the reason of Mark's record of the incident of the young man in the linen cloth, and what noted minister preached a fanciful sermon thereon?


10. Give in order the recorded incidents of Mark's life, and which one not creditable?


11. How do you account for Mark's conduct on this occasion?


12. What his greatest work and his qualifications therefore?


13. Was Luke a Jew?


14. What Bible books were written by Gentiles?


15. What Luke's occupation, and how do you know?


16. Was it probable on this account he was associated with Paul?


17. Show from Acts when Luke was with Paul, and how do you know?


18. What Luke's greatest works?


19. How do you know that he was not the Lucius of Acts 13:2 and Romans 16:21?


20. Who of the New Testament authors were scholars?


21. Contrast the New Testament biographical details concerning John with those of other New Testament authors.


22. In what respects do they make him live before us?


23. Give the proofs that of all the apostles he was nearest and dearest to the Lord.


24. Show the several ways in which he was prominent among the twelve.


25. Give evidence that he stressed his mission as a witness.


26. How do you justify his title, "the theologian," and what other apostle may be so classed?


27. What of the three offsets against John?


28. Give account of the Negro's prayer in Westminster Abbey.


29. What were his latest labors?


30. Give account of his family, financial, and social standing.


31. Name, in order, the Roman Emperors under whom John lived? (This is a historical test question.)


32. Name a touching tradition concerning John's old age.


33. Name another tradition showing his hatred of heretics.  





(Return to Contents)



Broadus' Harmony pages 1-2 and Luke 1:1-4; John 1:1-18.


The first question that confronts us on the threshold of the text of the several histories of our Lord, is, how the historians obtained the material of their histories, and did they all obtain it in the same way?

This is not altogether a question of inspiration. It is conceded that all were inspired. No matter how they obtained their material, inspiration was needed in every case in the make-up of the record of what they obtained. If Matthew obtained his genealogy from previous Jewish records (1:1-17) and all the information concerning the infancy of our Lord from Joseph's account of it (1:18 to 2:23), however handed down – and if Luke received his information of our Lord's infancy and childhood from Mary (1:26 to 2:52) – and if John received all the material of his apocalypse by direct revelation – still would inspiration be needed to direct them in reducing to writing this information, however required. That is to say, how much to record, what known facts to omit, how arrange this selected material according to a definite plan, looking to a distinct end, so far as the one book is concerned, and how this book should be so correlated as to fit in, with dovetail exactness, into a whole library of other sacred books, as the several bones are articulated into one skeleton, is our problem and our task.

Again, our question is not one of illumination. A prophet might receive a revelation and not understand it (1 Peter 1: 10-11). He might, through inspiration, record it accurately without understanding it. But these historians, frequently, and whenever necessary, interpret their facts, showing that they possessed illumination, e.g., John 11:21; 7:39, and Matthew's application of Old Testament quotations.

Revelation is a divine disclosure of hidden things. Inspiration is that gift of the Holy Spirit which enables one to select and arrange material to a definite end and inerrantly record it. Illumination, another gift of the Spirit, enables one to understand a revelation or to interpret the facts of an inspired record.

The material of these several histories was obtained in three ways:

(1) By eyewitness, as the gospels of Matthew and John.

(2) By those who received it from eyewitnesses, as the gospels of Mark and Luke.

(3) By direct revelation, as Paul's Gospel and John's Apocalypse.

These observations lead up to the beginning of our interpretation of the histories. Our textbook is Dr. Broadus' Harmony of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with only two parallels from Paul's Gospel. We will enlarge our textbook, as we proceed, by insertion of many other parallels from Paul. This chapter will be devoted to Luke's dedication and John's prologue, both supplemented from Paul.

On the left of Luke's dedication put John 21:24, and on the right Galatians 1:11-12. Now compare them: John affirms that he wrote his gospel as an eyewitness, while according to the revision, Luke affirms that the matter of his gospel was delivered by them "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses" and traced out by him in careful research. But Paul affirms that his was received by revelation. It is commonly supposed that Mark wrote as Peter had taught him, but Paul says that his gospel was not after man for he did not receive it from man, nor was he taught it. He is careful to show that he preached it before he saw Peter, and when on three occasions he did meet Peter, not only was nothing imparted to him, but his full and independent authority and mission were recognized, and that it fell to his lot to correct an evil practice of Peter. So whether we consider the original twelve, with those whom they instructed, or Paul, in every case an oral gospel preceded a written gospel. This spoken gospel was authoritative before reduced to writing. It was that deposit of the faith delivered to the churches to be held inviolate and transmitted unimpaired (Luke 1:2; Acts 13:31; 1 Corinthians 11:2-23; 15: 1-8; I Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 11:2; Jude3; Hebrews 11:3). In it catechumens, like Theophilus, were instructed (Luke 1: 4). But as the original and qualified witnesses were few, and these kept passing away and soon all would be gone, and as tradition at every remove from its original source becomes less trustworthy, you can easily understand Luke's fact "that many would undertake to reduce to written narrative what they had heard orally from the eye-witnesses."

And just here Luke introduces his second thought that his own writings were from accurate knowledge in all things, in order that the reader might know the certainty of the things in which he had been orally instructed.

It was this necessity that called for inspiration. For if, as Peter says, referring to oral deliverance: "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21), it was equally true, says Paul, after referring to the sacred writings collectively, that distributively "every one of these writings is God-inspired" (Greek, Pasa graphe theopneustos (2 Tim. 3: 15-16). From Luke 1:1 and Acts 1:1, it is evident that Theophilus was not only a real person, but one of distinction, and from the word "instructed" in Luke 1:4, it is also evident that he was a catechumen, from which may be inferred that in apostolic times all new converts were diligently catechized in the elements of the faith delivered (compare Eph. 4:11-15; Heb. 5:12-14; I Pet. 11:2).

When Luke says, "Many have undertaken to draw up a narrative of the things fulfilled among us," it is evident that he does not refer to the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Nothing that he could write would add to the "accuracy" or "certainty" of what they wrote. Indeed, it cannot be proved that their writings were prior to his. Though the Synoptic Gospels were written about the same time, it is most probable that our present order, Matthew, Mark, Luke, is chronological. Certainly no one of the three is the norm of the others.

Before leaving this classic gem, Luke's dedication, an important question must be answered: Does Luke himself, in this introduction, claim to have traced out carefully all of the facts of his history as any other painstaking historian, or does he here affirm distinctly a guiding inspiration throughout? Our English versions, particularly the revision, support the former contention. On the other hand, some distinguished scholars and Biblical interpreters, notably Lightfoot and Urquhart, support the latter contention. We find a full statement of Urquhart's argument in his New Biblical Guide, Vol. VII, pp. 337-34.8. Lightfoot's argument may be found in Pittman's edition of his works, Vol. IV, pp. 114-115. Or, if Lightfoot and Urquhart be not accessible, there may be found a very clever and elaborate restatement of the argument of both in The Young Professor, whose author is the accomplished son of the late Dr. William E. Hatcher of Richmond, Va. Whenever one reads this argument carefully, whether in Lightfoot, Urquhart, or The Young Professor, it interests him, challenges his respect, and appears to be hard to answer. One need not be more than a sophomore in Greek to understand and feel the force of the argument.

The marked difference of the renderings of Luke 1:1-4 in the common and the revised versions arises from no difference in the Greek text they translate. The text is the same. Write, therefore, in three parallel columns, the Greek text, the common version, and the revised version of Luke 1:1-4. For the references keep open before you an interlinear Greek Testament, and on your table Bagster's Analytical Greek Lexicon, or Thayer's, and the Englishman's Greek Concordance. Then follow, step by step, Urquhart's argument. These directions will help a beginner in Greek, however puerile or unnecessary they may appear to expert scholars.

The contention, in substance, is this:

Many uninspired men, in apostolic times, undertook to write orderly narratives of the gospel history as they were orally delivered by the apostles, who were eyewitnesses.

Not one of these survives because they were displaced by inspired narratives, which conveyed assurance and certainty as to the facts and teachings.

This is exactly what Luke says as to the reason of his writing, expressly affirming his inspiration, with a view to this assured accuracy and certainty.

The argument for this contention is based altogether on translation and usage of the words. The common version preferred to the revision, needs only one change in it. Instead of "from the very first" in that version, they render "from above." The Greek word is anothen. They rely first on the etymology of the word, then its New Testament usage, then its perfect harmony with the context. They admit some usage for "from the first," a derived meaning, but never permissible as a substitute for the primary meaning, unless the context demands it.

The usage cited is:

"The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top [from above] to the bottom" (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38).

Except a man be born "from above" (John 3:3) ; "Ye must be born from above" (John 3:7).

In both these cases, "born from above" is interpreted by our Lord as "born of the Spirit." "He that cometh from above is above all." John 3:31. Jesus says to Pilate. "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above" (John 19:11). "Now the coat was without seam from the top [from above] throughout" (John 19:23).

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:15). "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17).

Then comes Luke's only use of the word, except where once he quotes Paul: "Having had perfect understanding of all things from above . . . that thou mightest know the certainty, etc."

In all these instances of usage, the sum total of usage by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and James, our Greek word anothen is rendered by the italicized words from the top, referring to veil or coat, and "from above" elsewhere.

They add the evident allusion of Irenaeus to Luke 1:3. "For after our Lord arose from the dead, and they were endued from above with the power of the Holy Ghost coming down upon them, they received a perfect knowledge of all things" ("Against Heresies," 3:1). Luke says, "Having had perfect understanding of all things from above." Irenaeus says, "When they were endued from above, they received a perfect knowledge of all things." Compare with James: "Every perfect gift is from above."

It was this enduement which enabled Luke to write "accurately" (Greek, akribos). And all this fulfilled our Lord's promise that when the Holy Spirit comes, "He shall teach you all things," "He shall guide you into all truth." Therefore the merely human histories of our Lord perished. Therefore only inspired histories could give "certainty" to the things in which we are instructed.

They add that in this very brief context, when Luke would express the idea of "from the first," or "from the beginning," he uses the unmistakable Greek words, ep' arches (Luke 1:2). And that their whole rendering best agrees with the meaning of the Greek word plerophoria – "certainly believed," and not "fulfilled." And with the other Greek word, parakolo – the, which does not mean to obtain knowledge by "tracing" or investigating.

To Paul's per contra usage of the word anothen they reply: he uses it only twice, (a) In his speech, reported by Luke at Acts 26:5, where the context demands the secondary meaning "from the first." (b) At Galatians 4:9 there is the modifying word palin, and the context forbids the primary meaning "again from above."

My colleague, Dr. Williams, says that the whole contention depends on whether the adverb anothen in Luke 1:3 is one of locality or of time, and that it cannot be certainly determined which it is in our passage. The author prefers throughout, the common version rendering of the passage to the revision, and believes that the preponderance of the argument is with Lightfoot and Urquhart.



We now take up the prologue of John (1:1-18), putting beside it Paul's contribution to the same matter. Place these references in the harmony, opposite or under John's introduction: Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-13; 2:14-17; 10:1-9; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 8:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5.

It is not our purpose to put in parallel with John's prologue any matter from Paul's Gospel except what touches our Lord's pre-existence, his nature and activities, his incarnation and its purpose.

Let us first consider John. The first eighteen verses of John constitute the norm and outline of his whole book. So many propositions cannot elsewhere be found in so few words. As all mists of speculative philosophy concerning the origin of the material universe flee and fade before the sunrise of the first chapter of Genesis, so all heresies concerning our Lord and the eternal redemption of him are dispelled by the Sun of righteousness rising with healing wings in these beginnings of their gospels by John and Paul. It is far from my purpose to engage your finite minds in the impossible task of comprehending the unfathomable mystery of the tri-personality in the unity of God. It will content me if you will believe what is revealed. If we might trust for explanation to human philosophy we could not improve on the comparison of Sabellius, "God the Father is the sun, Jesus Christ is the sun's light, and the Holy Spirit is the sun's heat." Or we might regard the Trinity as only a distinction in office or manifestation. This was my own boyish attempt to explain it. My illustration was that of a teacher who was also a father and a magistrate. His own son, while at school, was guilty of a penal offense. This teacher must, therefore, deal with the delinquent in the threefold capacity of father, teacher, and magistrate, i.e., from the standpoint of the family, the school, and society. But none of these illustrations coincides with the teachings of revelation – there is one God, there are three persons, not three attributes or offices, or manifestations.

Nor would I have you anticipate the more elaborate study of systematic theology. Let us barely touch it, and that only because it is here an essential part of our historic study. Therefore I compress into barest outline and simplest form this introduction of John.



1. The Logos .

2. Creation by the Logos

3. In him all life

4. In him all light

5. This light is invincible by darkness

6. The Logos incarnated

7. Purpose of the incarnation

8. The supernatural birth of those receiving the incarnate Logos

9. The witness of John the Baptist to the incarnate Logos



1. The Logos. The first sentence announces a new name, "The Word" (Greek, O Logos). Whence this name? We will not waste our time in looking for its origin in the speculations of Philo, the Alexandrian Jew. His logos, mainly an energy or an attribute, and never an incarnate personality, is not the Logos of John. It serves us little better to wade through the muddy waters of Jewish traditions in any form. We have a surer word of prophecy to which we will do well to take heed.

The reader is referred to our discussion on the conversion of Abraham, "Interpretation," volume on Genesis. There, for the first time in any record, we find the phrase, "The Word of the Lord." This Word, not as a voice addressed to the ear, but as a person addressed to his sight, appeared in a vision to Abraham, and as the specific object of saving faith. Before this experience Abraham had believed divine statements, had believed in a promised country, and in a promised seed, but here he believed on Jehovah himself as his shield and exceeding great reward, and it was counted to him for righteousness. "The Word of the Lord," "shield," "believed," and "imputed righteousness," a salvation group, here make their first appearance in the Bible record. The "Word of the Lord," as a Person, appears elsewhere in the Old Testament, notably in the Psalms and prophets, and is doubtless the personified wisdom of Proverbs 8:23-30. So that the Logos is Christ's pre-incarnate name and most aptly represents him as the revelator of the Father. In this light we understand better the abrupt and sublime formula of the first chapter of Genesis, repeated ten times, "And God said," "And God said," and following each utterance came a new creative act.

These were the first ten commandments, the ten words of creation. On Sinai came the ten words of the Law. On the Galilean mountain came the Beatitudes, or the ten words of happiness.

But always it is the Logos revealing the Father. Of this Logos, in one short sentence, John predicates three essential elements of divinity:

(1) Absolute eternity of being, "In the beginning was the Word."

(2) Distinct personality, "And the Word was with God" – two persons together.

(3) The nature or essence of Deity, "And the Word was God." The absence of the article in the Greek before "God" in the third predicate clearly shows the meaning. The phrase is not, "the Word was the God," but "the Word was God," i.e., in nature or essence. The second verse sums up and emphatically repeats: "The same," i.e., this very one so described as an eternal, divine Person was in the company and fellowship of God throughout eternity. It was always so; it was so in the beginning.

2. By the Logos came the creation. Not merely the universe as a whole, but every minute part. Not matter merely to be left to develop itself, but every change and form of development. So Genesis represents it. By him everything came to be. There was no chance development.

3. In him was all life – vegetable, animal, spiritual. Not only as the start of life, but its continuance: "Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created. And thou renewest the face of the ground." The nonliving can never develop into the living. But particularly does our author speak of spiritual life. Not only in him do we live and move and have our being, but from the beginning the Son of God has been the source of eternal life.

4. He is the light of the world. The only real light. There is no knowledge of God and no revelation of God except through the Son. He alone declares the Father. Man by searching cannot find out God. Cannot see him except as the Son reveals him.

5. The light is invincible: "The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness apprehended it not." It is somewhat difficult to determine the meaning of the Greek word here rendered "apprehended." The sense is either the darkness did not take possession of the light by appropriating it and becoming light, or did not hem it in, repress it, so as to conquer it. In the latter sense we make it read: "The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not." The context, particularly vv. 10-11, favors the first meaning, and the inability to appropriate the light finds vivid illustration in a parallel from Paul's Gospel: "And even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled in them that perish: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." We may find abundant and striking illustrations of the other possible meaning. Even on the cross, in the hour of the power of darkness, when for three mortal hours the thick darkness filled and enveloped the dying one – even then the darkness overcame it not. Once in the dawn of creation darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Word said, "Let there be light!" And there was light, and the darkness overcame it not. Once in our experience we were in darkness, but God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, shone into our hearts, giving us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. And the darkness has never been able to quench that light. Upon us also will come the darkness of death, but our Saviour Jesus Christ has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, and will transfer us to a home and condition of which it is said, there is no night there. And so the light is indestructible and the darkness cannot overcome it.

6. This Word was manifested and became flesh. It was not a mere assumption of human nature like the putting on of a garment, but the Word came to be a real man. That is a vital doctrine as the author continues to insist elsewhere: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." "For many deceivers have gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh."

7. The purpose of the incarnation was to bring grace and truth to the fallen. He was full of grace and truth, that is, for mercy and revelation.

8. The recipients of this mercy and revelation obtained the right to become the sons of God by a supernatural birth, being born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

9. Prophecy, in its culmination in John the Baptist, recognized and identified and witnessed that this was the true light.

Such, in brief, is John's prologue. Let us put beside it the beginnings of Paul's Gospel: "For there be many that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; and there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him" (1 Cor.8:5-6).

"At the end of these days God hath spoken to us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. . . . Of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. . . . And thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundations of the earth . . . and when he again bringeth the first-born into the world, he saith, Let all angels of God worship him" (Heb. 1: 1-6).

"The Son of his love is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things and in him all things consist" (Col. 1: 15-17).

"Christ Jesus, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of beings in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:6-11).

"And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness:
He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up into glory" (I Tim. 3:16).

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3).

"But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4-5).

"Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver all of them whom, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15).

"Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offerings thou wouldest not. But a body didst thou prepare for me; . . . Then said I, Lo, I am come, (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:5-7).

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9).

These excerpts from Paul are not exhaustive, but samples merely in his Gospel correlative with John's Prologue. They establish the absolute eternity, personality, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and exhibit his relations to the Father in both eternity and time, his relations to the universe and to man, and make very clear not only the incarnation, but its objects. Paul uses the term, Son, in the place of John's Logos, and "new creation" as the parallel of John's new birth, and brings in the new term "adoption" to express the legal process of becoming sons. A critic affects to find this contradiction between John's and Paul's Gospels use of the incarnation, the former to take on glory, the latter to empty himself of it or to strip off glory. There is no merit whatever in the criticism. John, as well as Paul, shows that Jesus laid aside his heavenly glory to become a man (John 17:5), and Paul, as well as John, describes the outshining of Christ's glory through the veil of the flesh and the acquiring of glory through his humiliation. Paul much more clearly and elaborately than John, expresses the various conditions, processes, purposes and beneficial effects of the incarnation.

In this connection should be read the author's sermon on "The Nature, Person, Offices, and Relations of Our Lord," preached before the Southern Baptist Convention at Hot Springs, Arkansas, and published by order of that body in pamphlet form and recently reproduced in a volume of sermons published by the Fleming H. Revell Company.




1.What question confronts us at the threshold of the texts of the  five histories of our Lord?


2. Show why this is not merely a question of inspiration.


3. Nor of illumination.


4. Define revelation, inspiration, illumination.


5. In what three ways did the historians obtain a knowledge of their  facts? Illustrate by John 21:24; revised version of Luke 1:2; and  Galatians 1:11-12.


6. What always preceded a written gospel?


7. What is the necessity for written gospels?


8. For inspired gospels, give, quoting from Peter the inspiration of  the oral and from Paul the inspiration of the written.


 9. What three facts do you learn from Luke 1:1-4 concerning Theophilus?


10. What custom of apostolic times may be inferred from the word  "instructed," Luke 1:4?


11. When Luke refers to the many written narratives of our Lord,  does he refer to Matthew or Mark?


12. In what respect does Luke consider his narrative superior to the  "many narratives" to which he alludes?


13. What great question has arisen from this dedication of Luke?


14. Which of these contentions does the revision evidently support?


15. Name three authors supporting the other contention.


16. Give in substance the argument of Urquhart, and what do you  think of it?


17. What one change in the common version of Luke I :l-4 will pat  it in harmony with the Urquhart view? John's Prologue.


18. What must you place opposite John's Prologue to parallel Paul's Gospel on our Lord's pro-existence, its nature and activities, his incarnation and its purposes?


19. Give in briefest form an analysis of the Prologue.


20. Show why John did not obtain tibia new name – O Logos, the  Word – from Philo.


21. Where did he get it?


23. How does this enable us to understand Genesis IT


23. Can you give the ten words of creation, the ten words of the  law, the ten words of happiness?


24. What are the three essential elements of Deity predicated of the  Logos in. John's first sentence?


 25.  The relations of the Logos to the universe?


26. Meaning of "In him was life"?


27. How is he the light of men?


28. Two possible meanings of "The darkness apprehended it not.


29. Cite a parallel from Paul of the first possible meaning. Give illustrations of second possible meaning.


30. How was the Logos manifested and what is the relative importance  of the doctrine?


31. According to the Prologue, what is the purpose of the incarnation?


32. What right was conferred on those who receive the incarnate  Logos and how accomplished?


33. How does the witness of John the Baptist attest the pre-existence  of the incarnate Logos?


34. What was Paul's name for John's Logos?


35. What is his description of the pre-existing Son?


36. What passages from his attest the activities of the Son before his  incarnation?


37. What passages the purposes of his incarnation?


38. Instead of John's "new birth," what is equivalent of Paul's?


39. His legal name for this sonship?


40. Reply to the criticism that John uses the incarnation as a means  of our Lord to take on glory, and Paul as a method of emptying himself of glory.  





(Return to Contents)


BEGINNINGS OF MATTHEW AND LUKE Broadus' Harmony pages 5-6 and Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 1:5-80; 3:23-38.


We have noted in a previous chapter John's and Paul's account of the divine side of our Lord's existence, personality and activities before he became flesh. Now we consider, in Matthew, Luke, and Paul, his human side, human antecedents, human birth, and early life. We find Matthew's account in chapters 1-2, and Luke's account in chapters 1-2 with the closing paragraph of chapter 3.

Matthew's incidents are his genealogy, birth, the visit of the magi, the flight into Egypt, the massacre of the babes at Bethlehem, the return to the land of Israel, and resettlement at Nazareth in Galilee.

Luke's incidents are the announcement to Zacharias of the birth of his son, John the Baptist, our Lord's forerunner; the announcement to Mary of the birth of our Lord; Mary's visit to Elisabeth; the birth of John the Baptist according to announcement; the birth of our Lord at Bethlehem; the announcement to the shepherds of that birth; the circumcision of our Lord; his presentation in the Temple with attendant circumstances ; the return to Nazareth; the development there of his childhood; the visit to the Temple when our Lord was twelve years old; the return to Nazareth and his development; into manhood; and his genealogy.

On this entire section we submit several general observations:

1. Matthew's entire account is written from the viewpoint of Joseph, and for Jews. His genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph according to the legal Jewish method. Gabriel's appearance to Joseph is to explain Mary's condition. Indeed, all the four supernatural directions for the family movements come in dreams to Joseph. Every incident and every Old Testament quotation conspire to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews.

2. Luke's entire account is written from Mary's viewpoint and to show our Lord's broader relations to humanity. His genealogy is real, not legal. It is Mary's genealogy, not Joseph's, our Lord's relations to Joseph being only a Jewish, legal supposition. While indeed it shows that Mary was a Jewess) really descended from David and Abraham, yet her genealogy extends back to Adam, in order to prove that her Son was the second Adam, and literally fulfilled the first gospel promise, "The seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent's head."

It is to Mary, Gabriel announces her conception of a Son, by the Holy Spirit, who because thus sired shall be holy, the Son of God.

It is to Mary the angel announces the condition of Elisabeth, and thus prepares the way for Mary's visit to Elisabeth. All of Luke's other incidents are those which Mary "kept in her heart." The conjecture that Luke's genealogy is also traced through Joseph is puerile in itself, utterly gratuitous, and at war with Luke's whole plan. It is to invent a difficulty and then invite the harmonists of the two genealogies to settle it. Why should they be harmonized? They have different starting points (a legal son, a real son) and different objectives (Abraham – Adam); they are not even parallel lines, since they meet and part.

3. We here confront what Paul calls "the great mystery of Godliness" – the incarnation of our Lord. Isaiah, who had already foretold his virgin birth, in a clear prophecy concerning him, says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). Quoting Isaiah, and because the virgin mother is with child by the Holy Ghost, Matthew says, "His name shall be called Immanuel (God with us)." In explanation of the way a virgin can become a mother, Luke's angel says to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the Holy One who is begotten of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Mark says, "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." John says, "The Logos which was God, was manifested and became flesh." Paul says, "He who was the effulgence of God's glory and the very image of his substance," (Heb. 1:3) "who existed in the form of God . . . was made in the likeness of man (Phil. 2:6-8) was born of a woman" (Gal. 4:4). Not otherwise could he escape the hereditary taint of Adam's sin (Gen. 5:3); not otherwise could he fulfil the protevangel, "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head" (Gen. 3:15); not otherwise could he be the Second Adam, the second head of the race (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor.15:45-49).

Grant this one miracle, the greatest and most inclusive, and all others naturally follow. Deny this one, and there is no need to deny or even consider others (1 John 4:1-3).

4. Only twice do we find in the Bible the phrase, "The book of the generations" applied respectively to "The first Adam" (Gen. 5:1), and to the Second Adam (Matt. 1:1). And concerning this Second Adam, well might Isaiah inquire: "Who shall declare his generation," (common version, Isa. 53:8) especially since "His name shall be Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).

5. Nothing more commends the inspiration of the simplicity and reticence of this account of our Lord's infancy, childhood and growth to manhood, than to contrast it with the silly and incredible fables invented in the early Christian centuries to gratify a prurient curiosity concerning a long period of our Lord's life on which, beyond the few incidents recorded, our Gospels are silent. Nature, as well as grace, draws a modest veil over the period of conception, gestation, parturition, and development. Not only have these bald inventions concerning the infancy and childhood of our Lord disfigured the image in the mind naturally produced by the simple Bible story, but tradition, ever-increasing in imposture and lying, ad nauseum, has buried the few real incidents recorded under an accretion of fanciful enlargements, e.g., the incident of the magi, and even the blasphemies subverting the gospel and changing the very plan of salvation, e.g., the Mariology and Mariolatry developed from our simple gospel story of Mary by the Romanists of succeeding centuries.

6. Beyond the few incidents recorded of the first thirty years of our Lord's preparation for his public work, this is every syllable of the gospel history: Luke puts in four pregnant sentences the whole period, (a) concerning the development of his childhood, "And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him" (2:40). (b) After the consciousness of his messiahship in the Temple, when he was twelve years old, "He went down with them (Mary and Joseph) and came to Nazareth; and he was subject to them" (2:51). (c) Referring back to his habit of attending the house of religious instruction at Nazareth, Luke later says, "He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read" (4:16); (d) Concerning his development to manhood: "And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (2:52). (e) Mark says that by occupation he was a carpenter (6:3).

These are all the direct references. But we may easily gather from his subsequent history that he had studied the book of nature in its plants, flowers, fruits, birds, animals, soil and its cultivation, its crops, harvests and vintages; that he was a lover of children and close observer of their plays; that he was familiar with the customs of the family and of society; that he was well acquainted with the religious sects and political parties of his country and its relation of subjection to Rome. It is evident also from his movements that he thoroughly understood all the variations of government in the Herod family.

As to literary attainments, apart from the evident religious training of a Jewish child, we know that he could read and speak fluently in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He read and quoted at will and discerningly from both the Hebrew and the Greek versions of the Old Testament. Mark preserves and interprets many of his Aramaic expressions.

7. We should commence Matthew's genealogy thus: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel (God with us)." And, allowing Paul to supplement Luke's genealogy thus: "The Second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, Jesus Christ himself (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli," and so on back to the first Adam.

8. In these two accounts of our Lord's infancy are eight distinct annunciations, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the recipient, together with eight other supernatural events.

(1) The annunciation by the angel Gabriel, in a vision, to Zacharias, ministering in the Temple, of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, and of Zacharias' dumbness until the event (Luke l:5f).

(2) Gabriel's annunciation to Mary of the birth of our Lord (Luke l:26f).

(3) The annunciation to Elisabeth of the presence of the appointed mother of our Lord, by her unborn baby's leaping for joy (Luke l:41f).

(4) The angel's annunciation to Joseph, in a dream, of the supernatural conception of Mary (Matt. 1:18f).

(5) The angel's annunciation, in a vision, to the shepherds near Bethlehem, of the birth of our Lord (Luke 2:8f).

(6) The Spirit's annunciation to Simeon that he should not see death until he had seen the Christ (Luke 2:26).

(7) Simeon's annunciation, by prophetic inspiration, to Mary concerning her Son, and concerning the sword that would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:34-35).

(8) The annunciation to the magi, in the far East, by the appearance of a star, that the foretold and long-expected King of the Jews was born (Matt. 2:lf).

The eight attending supernatural events are, – the prophetic utterances by Zacharias, Elisabeth, Mary, and Anna, the three additional dreams of Joseph and the one of the magi. Thus there are three vision – to Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds; five dreams – four of Joseph and one of the magi; one annunciation by the Spirit to Simeon, one of Simeon to Mary by inspiration, one by a star, one by the leaping of an unborn babe, besides the prophetic inspiration of four.

9. In Luke's account of the beginnings are five famous hymns, or the foundations from which they were later developed;

(1) "The Hail Mary," developed by the Romanists from a combination of the angel's salutation to Mary (Luke 1:29) and Elisabeth's salutation to Mary (Luke 1:42), with some extraneous additions.

(2) "The Magnificat," or Mary's own hymn (Luke 1:46-55).

(3) "The Benedictus," or the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79).

(4) "Gloria in Excelsis," developed from the song of the angels (Luke 2-14).

5) "Nunc Dimittis," developed from the words of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32).

10. The gospel histories teach concerning Mary, the mother of our Lord, that she was a modest, pious, but poor Jewish maiden, of the line of David, betrothed to Joseph, a just man, also of the line of David. She was endued with grace, to become the virgin mother of our Lord, and this supernatural conception was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Consequently her Son would be God's Son, and not man's. Being God's Son, he would be born holy, unstained through hereditary taint, and as he was the only human being so born, he is called the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Because of her selection to become the mother of our Lord, all generations would call her blessed. Her marriage to Joseph before the birth of this child constituted him legally, though not really, a son of Joseph. In all these things Mary humbly submitted herself to the divine will. She piously kept in her heart all the attending prodigies, circumstances, and prophecies of his nativity and childhood. While married to Joseph, she knew him not until after the birth of her divine Son, but afterward lived with him in all marital relations, bearing four sons, whose names are given, besides daughters not named (Mark 6:3). After Joseph's death, she followed her son, Jesus, with his younger half-brothers and sisters. From the record it is evident that more than once she was not without fault. On the whole, however, the impression left on the mind by the history is most charming. A maiden, chaste, modest, pious, and meekly submissive to God's will, a true wife, a devoted, self-denying mother, patiently bearing all the sorrows attendant upon being the mother of her Saviour son. Well might Simeon say to her, "Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul," on which prophecy has been written a book of merit entitled The Sorrows of Mary.

At the death of Jesus, her other sons being poor and un- believers, she was taken to the home of John the apostle, in Jerusalem. What an unspeakable pity that religious superstition has foisted upon this simple, charming, gospel story of earth's most honored woman, a monstrous Mariology of human invention, developed later into a blasphemous Mariolatry, which makes her usurp the place of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As this hideous parasite on the gospel story of Mary roots in our lesson, we here give a summary of the invented.


The exaggeration of the meaning of the words: "All generations shall call me blessed." This blessedness, because a privilege, was declared by our Lord himself to be inferior to the blessings on personal obedience and service (Luke 11:27-28), and because this was a fleshly relation to our Lord, he declared it to be inferior to spiritual relations, which all may share (Mark 3:31-35).

Mary was a perpetual virgin, – that is, never knowing a man, and being the mother of only one child, Jesus. This was the earliest of the doctrines in point of time, and some Protestants today, for sentimental reasons, hold to it.

Mary free from actual sin. This freedom from actual sin, originally at least, was attributed to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, supposed to be exerted either after she was conceived or before she was born, as Jeremiah and John the Baptist were supposed to be sanctified, or else at the time the Holy Spirit came upon her at the conception of Christ.

Mary free from original sin. This was a late development of doctrine concerning Mary. There was no official and authoritative form of it before the sixteenth century. The Council of Trent, A. D. 1570, closed its decree on original sin with these words: "This same holy synod doth nevertheless declare that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews." This official deliverance is a positive declaration of Mary's freedom from original sin, and by the term "immaculate," would seem to declare her exempt from actual sin. The doctrine, however, culminates in positive form in the decree promulgated to the Roman Catholic world by Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854. In this decree the Pope claims: First, that he pronounces, declares, and defines "under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost;" second, that what he sets forth is by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and in his own authority. The matter thus decreed and promulgated is as follows:

"The doctrine which holds the blessed virgin Mary to have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was revealed by God, and is, therefore, to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful." The decree closes with the double anathema: First, that any who presume to even think in their hearts contrary to this deliverance stand self-condemned, have made shipwreck concerning the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the church. Second, that they subject themselves to the penalties ordained by law, if by word or writing, or any other external means, they dare to signify what they think in their hearts.

You will observe, particularly, that this decree affirms that the doctrine of Mary's freedom from original sin was revealed by God. The natural presumption is that this revelation is to be found in the Holy Scriptures. In this document the Pope does not claim that it was a special revelation to him, but that he is inspired to pronounce, declare, and define past revelations.

If God revealed it in the Holy Scriptures, it is strange that we cannot find it.

This doctrine of Mary's freedom from original sin, which thus culminated, historically, December 8, 1854, may be said to have crystallized July 18, 1870, when the Vatican Council thus declared the infallibility of the Pope:

"It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal church, by the divine assistance promised him in the blessed Peter, he is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his church should be endowed for defining doctrines, faith and morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church."

She is the Mediatrix between Christ and man, as Jesus Christ is the Mediator between God and man. In other words. this element of the doctrines makes Mary take the place of the Holy Spirit) that is, we must reach Christ through Mary The development of the doctrine is shown in various works of art. For example, there are paintings which represent Christ as seated, and Mary below him, then later a painting of Christ and Mary on a level; and finally a painting representing Mary above Christ, who is angry at the world, and Mary is beseeching his favor for the world.

Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent's head, or destroys Satan. As the preceding element of this doctrine puts Mary in the place of the Holy Spirit, so this element makes her take Christ's office.

Mary the queen of heaven.

Mary the fountain of all grace, received by man and the only hope of salvation. This element puts her in the Father's place.

Mary an object of worship.

Mary's body was never allowed to see corruption, but was taken up to heaven, glorified, as the body of Christ, or that of Enoch or Elijah. This last element of the doctrine, the assumption of Mary, has not been formally put forth by Pope or Council, but is propagated and defended in the standard Romanist literature.

Any thoughtful man, considering these doctrines concerning Mary, must see that they made a radical, vital, and fundamental change of the gospel as understood by all Protestants and constitute another gospel, which is not the gospel. It makes the Romanist Church the church of Mary, rather than the church of Christ. Indeed, if we add its traditions concerning the See of Rome and Peter, the name should be: The Romanist Church of the Traditions concerning Mary and Peter. It would be easy to show that each of these elements of doctrine was transferred, for reasons of expediency, from heathen mythology and worship.

The question naturally arises, What scriptures do they cite for these stupendous claims? In support of the perpetual virginity of Mary they cite Ezekiel 44:1-3: "Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. And Jehovah said unto me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it; for Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit therein as prince to eat bread before Jehovah; he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the way of the same." They claim that this language is typical of and applicable to Mary's perpetual virginity. Some of them quote the Song of Solomon 4:12, as follows: "A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." So far as I know, these are the only scriptures cited that seem to have a positive bearing on the doctrine.

Negatively, they contend that the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in Mark 6 and other places were not the children of Joseph and Mary, but of Mary's sister, hence cousins of our Lord. Some Protestants who hold to the perpetual virginity of Mary claim that these were children of Joseph by a former marriage, therefore older than our Lord. Both Romanists and Protestants who hold to this doctrine cite John 19:25-27, where Christ on the cross consigns Mary to John's are, and argue from this that Mary had no son of her own other than Christ. They forget the extreme poverty of the family of Joseph, including himself, Mary, and all of the children, and that these younger half-brothers of our Lord were not at this time believers in Christ, as is evident from John 7:5. We have already shown that John possessed wealth and a home of his own at Jerusalem, which Mary and her sons did not have.

Of Mary's freedom from actual sin, they cite the Song of Solomon 4:7: "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," and also from the apocryphal book of Wisdom 1:4: "For wisdom will not enter into the malicious soul nor dwell in a body subject to sins."

In support of the theory that Mary mediates between man and Christ, they cite John 2:3, where Mary makes known to her Son the need of wine at the marriage of Cana of Galilee.

To maintain that Mary, not Jesus, bruises the serpent's head, the Romanist Bible, both the Vulgate and their English version, makes Genesis 3:15 read: "She shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise her heel."

To support the doctrine that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace to man, they quote Luke 1:28, and render it: "Hail, full of grace!"

In support of the assumption that Mary is the queen of heaven, their commentators cite Revelation 12:1, and claim that it is an allusion to "our blessed lady."

In replying to these various items of Mariology and Mariolatry, it is fairly to be inferred from Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did know Mary as a husband after the birth of Christ, and it certainly best accords with the obvious meaning of Mark 6:3, and various other references, that the four brothers named are real brothers, and not cousins. That Mary was not free from actual sin is evident by our Lord's rebuke of her at Luke 2:48-49; John 2:4; Mark 3:21 connected with 31-35. There is no scriptural support at all relevant to the matter in hand of Mary's freedom from original sin. The quotations cited by Romanists are, on their face, irrelevant. The assumption that Mary is the fountain of all grace evidently misinterprets the words of the angel, "Hail, Mary, endued with grace." It is grace then and there conferred, and not original source of grace. It indeed shows that she was a daughter of grace, not its mother. That Mary's body never saw corruption is a fabrication without any foundation whatever. To make the symbolic woman of Revelation 12:1 to be a real woman, whether Mary or any other woman, is a gross violation of the law of interpretation of symbols. You might just as well make the woman in purple and scarlet riding upon the seven-headed,



Herod himself is "Herod the king" named in Matthew 2 3-19, ruler of the Jews at Christ's birth. He was surname' "The Great" and was really a man of great capacity in public affairs, and in diplomacy successfully overreached both Pompey and Julius Caesar, and both Anthony and Augustus Caesar and thwarted Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. But he was . monster in cruelty and as bloody a tyrant as ever sat upon throne. His father was Antipater, the Idumean or Edomite, and his mother an Ishmaelite. Thus in the person of Herod, Ishmael and Esau sat upon the throne of Isaac and Jacob. His death is recorded in Matthew 2. He had about ten wives and many children. By his last will, subject to Rome's approval, he divided his realm among three sons, disinheriting all his other children whom he had not murdered.

His children. Archelaus, named in Matthew 2:22, his son by his fourth wife, was, according to Herod's will, made king of Judea and Samaria. Rome did not approve of his title of king, but allowed him to be called ethnarch for nine years, and then for good cause removed and banished him, and converted Judea and Samaria into an imperial province under procurators appointed by Caesar. Pontius Pilate, an appointee of Tiberius Caesar, was procurator during the years of our Lord's public ministry.

Another son, Herod Antipas, older brother of Archelaus, by the same mother, was made tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. (See Luke 3:1.) This was the Herod that beheaded John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29), whom Jesus called "that fox," and to whom our Lord was sent for trial by Pilate. He held his office during the whole of our Lord's life after his return from Egypt. He built the city of Tiberias on the sea of Galilee, and was the second husband of that Herodias who caused the death of John the Baptist. This marriage was a threefold sin - his own wife was yet living, the woman's husband was yet living, and she was his niece.

The oldest surviving son of Herod was named Herod Philip, disinherited by his father. He lived at Rome. The New Testament makes only an indirect allusion to him as Philip the brother of Herod Antipas, and the husband of Herodias (Mark 6:17-18).

Herod's son by his fifth wife was also named Herod Philip, and he is the tetrarch of the Northern part of Palestine, called in Luke 3:1 "the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis." He built the cities of Bethsaida-Julius, and Caesarea Philippi. He was the best of all the ruling sons of Herod.

It must be noted how several movements of our Lord were affected by these three sons of Herod. Because of Archelaus his parents took him from Judea to Galilee. Because of the unfriendliness of Herod Antipas he more than once removed from Galilee to the tetrarchy of Herod Philip. This Herod Philip, the tetrarch, married Salome, the dancing girl, who danced off the head of John the Baptist (Mark 6:2-28). She was his niece, the daughter of his brother, Herod Philip I, named above.

Herod's grandchildren. First, Herod Agrippa 1. This is Herod the king, of Acts 12:1-4, who killed the apostle James, John's brother, and imprisoned Peter, and whose awful death at Caesarea is described in Acts 12:19-23. This Herod ruled over all Palestine like his grandfather.

Second, Herodias, the wicked woman who left her husband, Philip, and married his brother, Herod Antipas, and brought about the death of John the Baptist because he denounced the iniquitous marriage (Mark 6:17-28). It is said that when the head of John was brought to her by her daughter, she drove her bodkin through the faithful tongue that had dared to denounce the infamy of her marriage.

Herod's great grandchildren. First, Salome, the dancing girl named in Mark 6. Second, Herod Agrippa II. This is the titular king, Agrippa, before whom Paul spoke (Acts 25:13). Third, Bernice, his sister (Acts 25:23). Fourth, Drusilla, another sister, who married Festus (Acts 24:24). Of these the last six named were descended through Herod's second wife, Mariarnne, the Maccabean princess.



As in the Old Testament "Pharaoh" is a title of all the Egyptian rulers, so always in the New Testament "Caesar" is a title of the Roman ruler. In the New Testament about twenty-seven times "Caesar" is so used, without the name of the particular Caesar. Twelve Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the canon of the New Testament, and perhaps one more, Trajan, when John the apostle died. The names of the twelve in order, and the dates of their reigns, are as follows:


Augustus 31 B.C. to A.D. 14

Tiberius A.D. 14 to 37

Gaius A.D. 37 to 41

Claudius A.D. 41 to 54

Nero A.D. 54 to 68

Galba A.D. 68 to 69

Otho A.D. 69

Vitellius A.D. 69

Vespasian A.D. 69 to 79

Titus A.D. 79 to 81

Domitian A.D. 81 to 96

Nerva A.D. 96 to 98

Three of these are named in the New Testament: Augustus, Luke 2:1; Tiberius, Luke 3:1; Claudius, Acts 11:28 and 18:2. Nero is referred to but not named (Acts 25:8).




1. What sections of Matthew and Luke are devoted to our Lord's  early life?


 2. What are the incidents given in Matthew?


 3. In Luke?


 4. From whose viewpoint is written all this section of Matthew?


 5. From whose viewpoint Luke's section?


 6. How does this account for the apparent discrepancy between their  genealogies?


 7. How does Paul characterize the incarnation of our Lord?


 8. What passage from Isaiah does Matthew quote and apply to the  incarnation?


 9. What name of the child does Matthew give as expressive of the  mystery?


10. What other passage from Isaiah gives names of the child expressive of this mystery?


11. How does the angel, in Luke, explain the mystery of a virgin  becoming a mother and the resultant nature of the child?


12. Give Mark's name of this wonderful child.


13. How does Paul state the matter?


14. How does such a son escape hereditary depravity?


15. How does this alone fulfil the first gospel promise in Genesis?


16. According to Paul, what is the relation of Adam to Jesus? (See  last clause of Romans 5:14.)


17. Give in brief Paul's argument on this relation in Romans 5:12-21. Ans. As through one trespass (not many) of one man (not one woman) sin, condemnation and death came upon all his fleshly descendants. So through one act of righteousness (death on the cross) of one man (the vicarious Substitute) justification, unto eternal life came upon all his spiritual descendants.


18. How does Paul further contrast the first Adam and his image transmitted to his fleshly descendants with the Second Adam and his image borne by his spiritual descendants? (See 1 Cor.15:45-49.)


19. What then may we say of this miracle of the incarnation?


20. Give the significant Bible usage of the phrase "The book of the  generation."


21. Contrast the account of our Lord's infancy and childhood, given  by Matthew and Luke, with the human inventions of traditions concerning the same period.


22. What two sentences of Luke, one concerning the development of his childhood, the other concerning his development into manhood, give the record of most of our Lord's earthly life?


23. What other sentence of Luke tells the whole story of his obedience to the Fifth Commandment?


24. What phrase of Luke discloses a religious habit of all his early life?


25. What question recorded by Mark reveals his occupation in all that  early life?


26. What may we gather from the history of his subsequent life, as  to his studies, observation and general information?


27. As to his literary attainments, how do you prove that he knew  and spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek?


28. How should you commence Matthew's genealogy (allowing him  self to supplement) and Luke's (allowing Paul to supplement)?


29. In the two accounts of our Lord's birth and infancy are eight annunciations, with eight other supernatural events, adapted in time, place, medium, means, and circumstances to the several recipients: give them, in order, and then show which three came by vision, which five by dreams, which one by the Holy Spirit, which one by an unborn babe, and which four by inspiration.


30. In Luke's account alone are five historic hymns, or the foundations  from which they were developed. Name them in order.


31. Give the substance of the gospel teaching concerning Mary.


32. Give the several items of the monstrous Mariology and blasphemous Mariolatry developed by Romanists from the simple Bible story of Mary, and the scriptural proof they cite for each, and your reply thereto.


33. If we add to this Mariolatry its inventions concerning the See of  Rome and Peter, what should this church be called?


34. Name the member of the Herod family mentioned in the New Testament, citing the passage in each case, and the relationship to Herod the Great, and which of these were descendents of Mariamne, the Maccabean princess?


35. How does the New Testament use the term “Caesar?”


36. How many Caesars ruled at Rome from the birth of Christ to the close of the New Testament canon?


37. Which three are named in the New Testament and where, and which other alluded to and where?


38. It is supposed that John lived to the close of the first century A.D. then what other Caesar must you add to the twelve?  





(Return to Contents)




Broadus' Harmony and Scriptures same as for chapter V.

MATTHEW'S Genealogy.


There are three notable peculiarities in Matthew's genealogy. The first is, he commences with the rare phrase, "The book of the generation," found nowhere else except in Genesis 5:1-3, concerning the first Adam. The uniqueness of this peculiarity and the correspondence between Matthew 1:1 and Genesis 5:1, are of evident design. The proof of the design appears from Paul's discussion of the matter. First, Paul says there are two Adams, the first a figure or type of the Second (Rom. 5:14). The first was created; the Second was the only begotten Son. In Romans 5 Paul adds that as through one trespass of one man (the first Adam), sin, condemnation and death came upon all his descendants, so through one act of righteousness (on the cross) of one man, the Second Adam, justification unto eternal life came upon his descendants. The parallel or contrast between the two Adams he further discusses thus: "So also it is written, the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit, that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

The second peculiarity of Matthew's genealogy consists in his division of the time from Abraham to Christ into three periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham) , to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, From Abraham to David; from David to the captivity; from the captivity to Christ. Some have managed to find a difficulty in Matthew's making three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names. But Matthew does not say that there were three sets of fourteen names, but three sets of fourteen generations. The generations here, as many times elsewhere, mean time periods. It is about equivalent to saying from Abraham to the earthly monarchy, first period; from the earthly monarchy to its downfall, second period; from the downfall of the earthly monarchy to the coming of the spiritual King, third period.

This period division suits Matthew's plan as the book of the King. David, the typical king, is the central figure of three periods, which terminate in the antitypical or spiritual King. Matthew does not give every name, but according to the established method of Bible genealogies, he sometimes passes over a son to the grandson.

Another writer, with a different plan, might make four periods thus: From the patriarchy (or family rule in Abraham), to the theocracy (or national rule at Sinai); second, from the theocracy to the beginning of the monarchy; third, from the beginning of the monarchy to the hierarchy (or high priest rule); fourth, from the hierarchy to Jesus, the true Patnarches, Theos, basileus, hiereus.

Matthew's third peculiarity is, that contrary to Jewish custom, he names four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. As they are not named in the list of fourteen's, they must be named in this connection for other reasons. Two facts suggest the probable reason for naming these women. First, three of the four at least were Gentiles, and quite possibly the fourth. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite, Bathsheba, the wife of a Hittite, was a granddaughter of Ahithophel, the Gilonite, and counsellor of David, who sided with Absalom, and afterward hanged himself. It is true that Giloh, his home city, was one of the mountain cities assigned to Judah at the conquest, but that does not prove that all of its inhabitants were Jews. Ahithophel does not act as a Jew, but with many other foreigners he accepted office under David. Eliam, otherwise Ammiel, his son, and father of Bathsheba, with Uriah, another foreigner, was one of David's mighty men. Bathsheba herself does not act like a Jewess, for she married a Hittite, Uriah, the war comrade of her father. So she probably, as the other three women certainly, was a Gentile. The ending "ite," as in Gilonite, usually, not always, indicates a Gentile tribe or nation.

The second fact is that only one of the four, Ruth the Moabite, was chaste in life. Tamar, in the garb of harlot, deceived her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab was an open harlot in Jericho, and Bathsheba was an adulteress. The fact of four such maternal ancestors seems to prophesy, in a way, that their coming illustrious Descendant would preach a gospel of mercy to the foreigner and to the fallen.

Some writers have wasted much energy in endeavoring to reconcile Luke's genealogy with Matthew's. There is not the slightest reason to attempt it.

Matthew gives our Lord's legal descent through Joseph'. Luke gives his real descent through Mary. As both Joseph and Mary were descendants of Abraham and David, they will in part coincide and in part diverge. The extent of the coincidence or the divergence is immaterial.



We have already seen that there were eight annunciations, as follows: To Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, Elisabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Mary again by Simeon, and the magi. Some of these were by the angel Gabriel, some by the Holy Spirit and one by astronomical phenomenon. It is noteworthy that in every case the time, medium, place, and matter of the announcement are all adapted to the recipient and his or her circumstances. Just here we may note the contrast in the Bible between the offices of the angel Gabriel, and of the arch-angel Michael. Gabriel is sent always on missions of mercy; Michael always for the defense of God's people, for war and vengeance on their enemies.

In the announcement to Zacharias the time is in the days of Herod the king, the scene is the Temple at Jerusalem, the place is the sanctuary or holy place, the hour is the time of the daily sacrifice. The circumstances of this announcement are: Zacharias, as priestly mediator, is burning the incense at the golden altar in the holy place, while the people outside are offering up the prayers represented by the incense. Twice every day, morning and evening, the people thus come to the Temple at the hour of prayer. (Compare Acts 3:1.) Being only a priest, Zacharias could not enter the most holy place; his ministrations stopped at the veil which hides the mercy seat, which is entered only once a year by the high priest on the great day of atonement (Lev. 16). The offering of the incense was the highest honor that could come to a priest, and as it was determined by lot, it might not come more than once in a lifetime to the same man. The perpetuity of these mediatorial ministrations was secured by dividing the descendants of Aaron into twenty-four courses, with fixed dates for one course to relieve another. As we see from the text, Zacharias belonged to the course of Abijah, which was the eighth. This division of the priests into courses was established by David, as we learn from I Chronicles 24. Zacharias himself had a burden. His wife was barren, and both were now old. While burning the incense which represented the prayers of the people, he himself was praying for a son. The medium of the announcement to him was the angel Gabriel, who comes with an answer to his prayer while he is yet praying, as he had come on another great occasion to Daniel (Dan. 9:20-21) The means was a vision. The matter was that not only would a son be born to him and Elisabeth, but his son would be a Nazirite, great in the sight of God, full of the Spirit from his mother's womb, the forerunner of the Messiah, to make ready a people prepared for him according to prophecy, in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning many of the children of Israel to God and turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the justified. This, like the honor conferred on Mary, was unique, occurring only once in the world's history.

Zacharias was filled with unbelief because of the natural difficulties on account of the impotency of his age and the barrenness of his wife. Why did he not consider the similar cases of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca, and the case of Hannah, the mother of Samuel? Zacharias might have known from these illustrious incidents of the past history of his people, that the supernatural can overcome the natural. Because of his hesitation to believe the words of the angel, a sign was given unto him – he should be dumb until the promise was fulfilled.



The time is six months later than the annunciation to Zacharias.

The place is Mary's home at Nazareth.

The medium is the same angel, Gabriel.

The matter is that she shall bear a Son, named Jesus, who shall also see the Son of the Most High, and who shall sit on the throne of his father David, ruling over an everlasting kingdom.

The explanation of the prodigy of a birth without a human sire is, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Because also, God, not man, is the sire, this offspring shall be “holy” in nature, and shall be called the Son of God. In all the human race this is "the Only begotten of the Father," and hence the only one born in the world without hereditary depravity.

In this way only could be fulfilled the first gospel promise, "the seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent's head." Had he been the seed of the man he would have been born condemned on account of a depraved nature. He could not have saved himself, much less others. It is true "he was made under the law," but not under its condemnation on his own account. Since he was born holy by nature, and never sinned in practice, and obeyed all its requirements, the law could not condemn him except as a legal substitute for real sinners. It is this that made his death under God's law vicarious (Isa. 53:4-12). So that one who rejects his birth of a virgin rejects the whole plan of salvation and the whole. Bible as the word of God. On this point there is not space for compromise as large as the point of a cambric needle, nor as broad as the edge of a razor.

When a man says "NO" to the question, "Do you believe our Lord was born of a virgin?" you need not ask him any other question whatever. And if he says, "Yes," to this incarnation of God, the one supreme miracle, he need not quibble at any other in the gospel record.

This one conceded, the others come like a conqueror, and from necessity. Luke 1:34-35 is the crux, pivot, hinge, and citadel of all controversies on the joined issue, Natural vs. Supernatural; Atheism vs. Christianity. We have already called attention to the monstrous system of Mariology fruiting in Mariolatry. The base of it all is in the angel's salutation to Mary: "Hail thou that art highly favored – thou that hast favor with God." It is a matter of translation. Shall we render "highly favored" (Greek, kecharitomene) "mother of grace," or "daughter of grace"? Does it mean "fountain of grace," or "endued with grace," i.e., grace conferred or found"? A Pope has said that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace and our only hope of salvation.



Here we note the reason of Mary's visit. The angel had informed her of Elisabeth's condition. In all the world, Elisabeth was the only being to whom the modest Mary could confide her own extraordinary condition. She needed a woman's sympathy and support. Never before and never again could two such women meet to confer concerning their unique motherhood. In all the history of the race only one woman could be the mother of the harbinger of our Lord, and only one be the mother of our Lord. The honors conferred on them were very high, and could never be repeated. As with the mothers, so with the sons.

They would forever stand apart from all other men – each without a model, without a shadow, without a successor. The visit lasted three months. What the continuation of the intercommunion and holy confidences, what the mutual womanly sympathy and support in these three months we may infer from the beginning.

At the salutation of Mary, -two mighty tokens of recognition came upon Elisabeth. The babe in her womb, the babe who was to be full of the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb, leaped for joy. Upon her also came the power of God and she herself was full of the Holy Spirit. She was thus prepared to give the greeting her visitor most needed to confirm her faith in the embarrassing circumstances of her novel situation: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken unto her from the Lord." After such greeting, the chastity and modesty of the virgin could no more be embarrassed, but upon her came a flame of inspiration that kindled that great song



On this first Christian hymn, note:

Its correspondence with the Old Testament hymn of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Sam. 2:1-10). Hannah's song is the model of Mary's. The correspondence is as remarkable in the circumstances as in the matter of the song. Israel under Eli had been brought very low. The barren Hannah prayed for a child and promised that she would dedicate him to Jehovah as long as he lived. Her illustrious son was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He reformed Israel and established the monarchy in David. What a solemn historic lesson, God's preparation of the mothers of the good and the great, and the devil's preparation of the mothers of the monsters of vice and cruelty! Compare the mothers of Augustine, Washington, Andrew Jackson, S. S. Prentiss, with the mother of Nero. To the question, Where should the education of a child commence, Oliver Wendell Holmes replied, "With his grandmother." Think of the faith of Timothy, "which was first in his grandmother, Lois, and in his mother, Eunice "

Note the three divisions of Mary's hymn: First as it relates to herself (Luke 1:46-49). Second, as it relates to God's moral government of the world (Luke 1:50-53). Third, as it relates to Israel (Luke 1:54-55). The blessing on the individual Christian widens into a blessing on the people of God, and enlarges into a blessing on the world. How minute in application, how comprehensive in scope, and how correlated in all its parts, is God's moral government of the universe!

Dr. Lyman Beecher, the greatest of all the Beechers, when asked, "How long were you in preparing your great sermon on 'God's Moral Government' ?" replied, "Forty years." While the hearers were astounded at the greatness of his production, he himself lamented the short time for preparation. Note the expression in v. 50, "and his mercy is unto generations and generations of them that fear him," and mark its origin and import in the Old Testament, to wit: While he visits the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generation, he visits his mercy to the thousandth generation on the children of them that fear him.



Observe the naming of a Hebrew child at his circumcision. Hence pedobaptists, contending that baptism comes in the place of circumcision, name the child at its baptism and call it "christening."

The great homiletical theme: "What then shall this child be?" (Luke 1:66.)

The inspired song of the father. This is called
THE BENEDICTUS from the first word, "blessed." This is the second Christian hymn. It is divided into two distinct parts:

First, the ascription of praise to God for his continued mercy to his covenant people, Israel, according to promise and prophecy from Abraham's day (Luke 1:68-75).

This promise was messianic – "to raise up a horn of salvation in the house of David," "horn" meaning a king or kingdom of power, as in Daniel's apocalypses, and in Revelation. Daniel 8:3, the ram with two horns of unequal length, represented Persia united with Media. Daniel 8:5-9, the one "notable horn" of the he-goat was Alexander the Great, and the "four horns" his four successors. The "little horn" rising later was Antiochus Epiphanes. Daniel 7:7-8, the "ten horns" of this fourth beast were the ten kingdoms into which the fallen Roman empire was divided, and the "little horn" was the papacy.

So when Zacharias says, "Thou hast raised up a horn of salvation in the house of David," it means the Messiah, David's greater Son. One of the prophecies to which Zacharias refers is 2 Samuel 7:12-13, with which compare Isaiah II. It is evident, therefore, that Zacharias speaks his benediction on God because of spiritual messianic mercies.

The second part of the benediction (Luke 1:76-79) is spoken to his son, John, because of his relation to the Messiah of the first part. John was to be (1) the prophet of the Most High. (2) He was to go before the coming Messiah and prepare the way for him. (3) His ministry was to give the people "The knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins." We shall have much use later for this last item, when we devote a special chapter to John the Baptist, defining his place in the Christian system.

For the present we note that a true disciple of John was saved. He had "knowledge" of his salvation. This knowledge is experimental since it came through the remission of sins. We are not surprised, therefore, that his candidates for baptism "confessed their sins," nor that his baptism was "of repentance unto remission of sins," as Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2:38) and was in harmony with our Lord's great commission given in his gospel: "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).

"The Dayspring from on High" (Luke 1:78) is our Lord himself, the Sun of righteousness, in the dawn of his rising.




1. What is the first peculiarity of Matthew's genealogy?


2. Give proof that this correspondence with Genesis 5:1 was designed.


3. His second peculiarity?


4. Explain three sets of fourteen with only forty-one names.


5. How might another writer, with a different plan, divide the three from Abraham to Christ into four periods, and give their fulfilment in Christ in four Greek names?


6. Matthew's third peculiarity, and account for it?


7. How do you reconcile Luke's genealogy with Matthew'*?


8. Including Paul's contributions, how should Luke's genealogy com  mence? Ans. Jesus himself, the Second Adam, who was the Lord from heaven (supposed son of Joseph) was the son of Heli.


9. Including a statement from Matthew himself, how should his  genealogy commence?  Ans. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, called Immanuel  (God with us), the son of David, the son of Abraham." 


10. How many annunciations, to whom, by whom or what, and how? 


11. How are all these annunciations adapted to the receivers? 


12. Contrast the respective missions of Gabriel and Michael. 


13. In the annunciation to Zacharias, give time, scene, place, medium,  means, and circumstances. 


14. Where was the golden altar of incense, the brazen altar of sacrifice, what was their relation to each other, and what was the doctrine? 


Ans. The brazen altar of sacrifice was in the outer court, the golden altar of incense in the holy place before the veil hiding the mercy seat in the most holy place. The relation was that expiatory sacrifice must precede offering up incense representing prayer based on expiation. First expiation of sin, then prayer. The incense was kindled by fire from the brazen altar. To kindle the incense with other fire was punished with death (see Lev. 10:1-11; Num. 3:4; 26:61; I Chron. 24:2). The doctrine is that prayer must be offered in the name of Jesus the expiatory victim. 


15. Why should the people offer their prayers through the medium  of a priest?  Ans. Being sinners they must approach God through a mediator. 


16. Who these mediators?  Ans. The sons of Aaron. 


17. How was perpetuity in. mediation secured and by whom established? 


18. Of which course of the twenty-four was Zacharias? 


19. Why could not Zacharias offer the incense in the most holy place,  who alone could, and when? 


20. What prayer did Zacharias offer for himself, was it answered, and how? 


21. Crucial test question: Is it the design of prayer to influence God  or merely to reflexively influence the petitioner? (Before you answer read Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-14; John 16:23-24; and the author's interpretation of the trumpets of Revelation 8:2 to 10:1. See his book on Revelation, pp. 131-159.) 


22. Give time, place, medium, means, and matter of the annunciation to Mary. 


23. How does the angel explain a virgin's giving birth to a child? 


24. How does such a birth alone fulfill the first gospel promise? 


25. How does it insure the child against hereditary depravity? 


26. What three proofs must be made in order that Jesus escape condemnation on his own account?  Ans. (1) He must be born holy – holy in nature. (2) He must be free  from actual sin in life. (3) He must perfectly obey all the law. 


27. These proofs conceded, then if he yet be condemned and die, what follows? Ans. His death was vicarious – a substitute for sinners (Isa. 53:4-12). 


28. What then the effect of denying the virgin birth of our Lord? 


29. What the virtual relation of the incarnation to all other miracles? 


30. How then must we regard Luke 1:34-35? 


31. What is the base of all the Romanist Mariolatry? 


32. Does the Greek word rendered "endued with grace," convey the idea that Mary was the mother of grace or a daughter of grace – in other words, that she is the fountain of all grace or the subject of grace conferred? 


33. What has a Pope said of Mary? 


34. Why did Mary visit Elisabeth? 


35. How was it announced to Elisabeth that the mother of our Lord  was present? 


36. How naturally would Elisabeth's inspired response comfort and  confirm the modest virgin?




37. What is its Old Testament model? 


38. What historic lesson suggested, and illustrate. 


39. Point out the three divisions of Mary's hymn. 


40. Who preached a great sermon illustrating the second division? 


41. What is the origin and meaning of "unto generations and generations" v.50?




42. On what occasion did Hebrews name their male children and why  do pedobaptists in imitation christen their children? 


43. What great sermon theme here?




44. Why song of Zacharias, 80 called? 


45. What two divisions of the song? 


46. What the nature of the first part and the relation of second thereto? 


47. Meaning of "horn of salvation in the house of David"? Illustrate by "horn" from Daniel and cite two pertinent Old Testament messianic promises.  


48. What three things in the second part of the Benedictua said of  John the Baptist? 


49. What does the last prove of a true disciple of John?  





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Broadus' Harmony pages 7-8 and Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20.




On this paragraph of Matthew I desire to commend in the highest possible terms the critical and elaborate discussion by Dr. Broadus in his peerless Commentary on Matthew, pages 8-13. You will not be kind and fair to yourself if you fail, in this connection, to read every word of it. And having read it, you do not need any other exegesis of the passage. In the fear, however, that you may not read it now, I submit a few brief observations:

While betrothal among the Jews preceded the consummation of marriage, it was an essential part of it, and just as binding as the consummation itself (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22: 23f). A man might put away his betrothed for infidelity to her betrothal vows, either publicly, thereby necessitating her open condemnation under the laws cited above, or he might, at his own option, privately give her a bill of divorcement without assigning the cause. Or, as putting her away at all was not mandatory, he might forgive her and consummate the marriage.

Joseph, being a righteous, not a vindictive, man when Mary's condition became obvious, was compelled to think on these things and determine his own course in the matter. Just at this juncture of his perplexity came the revelation which justified him in completing the marriage, without any necessity for forgiveness.

It is easy to see why Mary needed the revelation at the beginning, while it was unnecessary for Joseph to understand until later, when he must take some step in the matter. The means of annunciation in the two cases indicate Mary's superior spiritual state, as open vision is a higher order of revelation than by dreams. In no case was Joseph endowed with open vision, but four times God directs him by dreams (Matt. 1:20; 2:13, 19, 22).

The name "Jesus" means Saviour, and the salvation to be achieved by him was not political deliverance of his people from Roman rule, but salvation "from their sins." What a pity that his own disciples were so slow to understand the nature of the salvation, and how readily even Pontius Pilate acquitted him by the verdict, "I find no fault in him," when he understood that our Lord's kingdom was not of this world, and hence not a revolt against Caesar. Had the suspicious, bloody-minded old tyrant, Herod, understood, there would have been no massacre of the babes at Bethlehem. And even in our late day we need to be continually reminded of the real mission of our Lord.

Let us make no mistake about this "salvation from sins." It is salvation through the vicarious expiation of sins satisfying the claims of justice. It is salvation from the guilt of sin by justification, through faith. It is salvation from the defilement of sin by the cleansing blood of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit. It is salvation from the love of sin through regeneration. It is salvation from the dominion of sin through sanctification. It is the salvation of the body through resurrection and glorification. We may not stop at salvation done for us, but must include the salvation wrought in us. Salvation has the legal aspects expressed by the appropriate words, expiation and justification. And further expressed in a commercial legal sense by redemption and ransom (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6). Woe to the teacher or taught who leaves them out I It has its biological aspect, expressed by birth from above, or a new creature, and life more abundant, expressed by sanctification. Woe to the teacher or taught who leaves these out or magnifies these by decrying the legal aspects!

It has its human or experimental side, as expressed in contrition, repentance, faith, confession, reformation and all those fruits of the Spirit, love joy, hope, peace, as we walk in new- ness of life from grace to grace, from faith to faith, from strength to strength, perfecting ourselves in holiness, being changed more and more into the image of Christ, from glory to glory.

And just as surely must we admit into this idea of salvation God's foreknowledge) election, and predestination. It is salvation from the power of Satan, the usurping de facto prince of this world.

This name, "Jesus" is the same as "Joshua," who was a type of our Lord as captain general of the army of God, and as the one who would lead the people into the Promised Land of rest. This feature of the name "Jesus" is not discussed here, but is emphasized in the letter to the Hebrews and again in Revelation. Another feature of the name is brought out by Paul where, after and because of his expiation of sins on the cross, his name is exalted above every name (Phil. 2:9-11).

Well might Peter say, "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein ye must be saved" (Acts 4:12). All who heard or read it will cherish as a precious memory Dr. Winkler's great sermon before the Southern Baptist Convention on "The Name Above Every Name."

We need to consider just here, in part, Matthew's application of Old Testament quotations. It is a broad and complex question extending to all other New Testament quotations from the Old Testament, as finding fulfilment in New Testament events.

The case before us is an extreme one, and so if Matthew he-justified here in his construction of the quoted passage from Isaiah, the battle need not be fought over on cases not extreme. We cannot justify Matthew by an attempt to modify the obvious and natural force of his words, "Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)." Matthew evidently conveys the impression that the author of the prophecy looked to the virgin birth here recorded as the fulfilling event. I say the author of the prophecy; I do not mean the prophet Isaiah. Matthew distinctly affirms that the prophecy "was spoken by the Lord." True, it was "through the prophet." But it was not necessary that Isaiah should understand. Isaiah might have seen only the child of the days of Ahaz concerning whom it is there said, "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken." (See Isa. 7:13 to 8:4.)

Just here comes in the much disputed double sense of prophecy. The double sense is not real, but is in the nature of an optical illusion which blends into one apparent mountain of several separate peaks which lie in one line of vision. A side view, from a different angle of vision, differentiates the peaks. The first and lowest peak in the line of vision is not really the last and highest peak. True, to the eye, looking at them afar off, they apparently blend into one. This limitation is in the nature of prophecy, which has no perspective, as in the nature of optics.

New Testament interpretation is the later side view that differentiates the blended objects. For example, the Holy Spirit inspires David to speak of his great successor. David himself may understand that all of it applies to his immediate successor, Solomon. But the Spirit means his great, remote successor, Jesus. The vision does touch the foothill, Solomon, but goes on to rest on the higher peak, Christ, far beyond. There is no double sense. That is, what refers to Solomon does not mean Christ, and what refers to Christ does not mean Solomon. As seen afar off it appears to be one thing, but when the intervening distance is traversed the Solomon foothill is found to be quite a distinct and small affair compared with the mountain peak, Christ, which stood behind it and was optically blended into one view with it.

Often, in the West, have I seen what appeared to be a single far-off blue mountain. But when approached nearer, and seen from a different angle of vision, as the road would turn, my one mountain became a whole range of separate, distinct peaks with intervening valleys.

Mark my words: Only a very shallow truth lies in the catchword of the radical critics, ''The prophets speak to their own times." They indeed teach their own times, but they do not and cannot foretell their own times. (See 1 Pet. 1:10-12.) In the very nature of the case, foretelling looks beyond the present. Two great tests apply to all foretelling in the name of Jehovah:

(1) The thing foretold must come to pass (Deut. 18:21-22).

(2) Though it come to pass it cannot, as a sign, authenticate a violation of revealed law (Deut. 13:1-3).

In the light of these tests, Matthew's "fulfillments" of prophecy are all justified. He recorded his facts by inerrant inspiration. He interpreted his facts by adequate illumination. And that Matthew gets the true interpretation of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is evident if we look on to Isaiah 9:6 and 11:lf.

Observe the last line of our paragraph: "And knew her not till she had brought forth her Son." Add to this Luke 2:7ω "And she brought forth her firstborn Son." Add yet Mark 6:3 – “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?" To this add Mark 3:31-35, "And there came to him his mother and brethren; and standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude was sitting about him; and they say unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, and saith, Who is my mother and my brethren? And looking round on them that sat about him, he saith, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." The natural, obvious import of these passages is that Mary, after the birth of Jesus, bore children to Joseph. Only strained, unnecessary, sentimental quibbling can break the obvious natural sense. We are more inclined to suspect the quibbling, when we consider the air castle superstructure erected on this foundation of quicksand.



Dr. Broadus' footnote in his harmony is much to the point: "Observe how the ruler of the civilized world is unconsciously bringing it about that the Messiah, the son of David, shall be born at Bethlehem, though the mother's home was Nazareth. All the previous history of Rome and of Israel gathers about this manger." We may add, all their subsequent history also. Indeed, we may say that Jesus is the key to the philosophy of all history. Daniel's five world empires is an illustration; Revelation expands the thought to the end of time. Luke, in his Gospel and Acts, more than all the other historians, connects his story, at almost countless points of contact, with the history, geography, navigation, trade, chronology, religions, laws, customs, philosophies, literature, and games of both nations and localities, without the thought that he might be convicted of an anachronism. The most searching examination known to literature has never proved him at fault in the minutest detail of his story, by land or sea. Hasty criticism has indeed objected here and there to some detail, but has perished in the light of more elaborate research. Our short paragraph furnishes three cases in point:

(1) A worldwide enrolment, by order of Augustus Caesar. It has been objected, first, that there is no historical proof of such decree, and second, that if decreed it could not apply to dependent kingdoms like Herod's. It is now conceded that Augustus did issue this decree, and according to Tacitus, the Roman historian, it did include the "Regna," or dependent kingdoms. This census was with a view to taxation. The evidence is abundant in the later history that the tax based upon the census was imposed and collected.

(2) But, second, it is objected that Luke times the enrolment when Quirinius was governor of Syria, which was ten years later, and that only after Herod's death was Judea subordinate to Syria. This objection is far more plausible. See partial or possible explanation in Dr. Robertson's note (appendix to Broadus' harmony, pp. 239-240).

We may add that Luke was well aware of the enrolment ten years later, for he himself discusses it in Acts 5:37. And no historian contradicts his explicit statement in our paragraph. Nor is there evidence that any heathen historian was so devoted to accuracy as Luke. No one of their histories, nor even Josephus, could bear the test of accuracy to which Luke has been subjected.

(3) It is objected that a Roman census would require enrolment at the place of residence and not of personal or family nativity. The answer is every way sufficient that dependent kingdoms would be allowed to follow their own established methods. It was the settled policy of Rome to interfere as little as possible with the fixed customs of these kingdoms.

Note the last clause of our paragraph: "there was .no room for them in the inn." Upon this, one of the most touching gospel hymns was written, in which the line occurs, "There is room in my heart for thee, Lord Jesus." In my choir at Waco was a brilliant young lady who could out sing the birds, and especially in singing this hymn could make the stars sparkle. She was not a Christian. At a gathering of ladies in a private home she sang it with unusual power. I leaned over and whispered to her, "My child, you sing it beautifully with your lips, but is there room in your heart for the Lord Jesus?" She was instantly convicted of sin, and the following Sunday came with face illumined, as the shining of the faces of Moses and Stephen, saying with joy and tears, "I have not only given him a room in my heart, but all of it as his residence forever." Years later when, a happy wife and mother, she was dying, she took my hand and said, "He is still in my heart, and has called me to a room in his Father's house of many mansions."

"No room for him in the inn" at his birth! The feeding trough of domestic animals his cradle. "With the wild beasts of the desert" in his temptation. In his life, while "the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, the Son of Man had not where to lay his head."

A fish contributed his temple-tax, the gold of Gentile magi paid the expenses of his flight into Egypt, his own labor as a carpenter supported the family after Joseph's death, and sympathetic women ministered to him of their substance in his public ministry, at his death "a cross between two thieves" while his crucifiers gambled for his vesture, a borrowed tomb his place of sepulcher!

Augustus Caesar, claiming divine honor, ruled the world, but his apostle John lived to see twelve "divine Caesars" come and go, with the thirteenth on the throne, and then to foreshow the downfall of them all Rome itself, like a volcano in eruption, overturned and swallowed up in the sea of nations.

Very wisely the providence of God has left uncertain the exact date of his birth. We cannot determine with certainty the year or the month or the day in the terms of our era. We know that Augustus ruled at Rome, and Herod, the king of the Holy Land, was just about to pass away.

The argument is very convincing that our present era, due to the Abbot Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth century, is at least four years too late. But we do not deem the matter of sufficient importance to attempt the reform of our calendar another time. For centuries Christmas, on December 25, new style, has been fixed in the customs and literature of all nations west of Russia and Constantinople. And if the Greek church prefers the old style, what signifies a difference of twelve days? The Christ was born, and salvation does not consist in the observance of days and festivals (Gal. 4:10f; Col. 2:16-23).

We do know that he came in the fulness of time (Gal. 4:4), when the world was ripe for his advent, when "Great Pan" and all other heathen gods were dead and their oracles were dumb, when their philosophies had failed to alarm, comfort or save, when their civilizations had rotted, when good men despaired, when Rome united the world in government, when the hierarchy at Jerusalem and the ritual in the Temple were but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals and when the dispersion and the synagogue throughout the world were ready to supply the firstfruits of the gospel.

Note very carefully that though impatient thousands had in every intervening age been shaking the hour glass of time to make its sands run faster (Luke 10:24), and confident interpreters insisted that this first advent was always imminent, that is, liable to happen any time from Eve's too hasty joy over the birth of Cain till Judas Maccabeus, God himself had fixed an unalterable day and kept narrowing the converging lines of all prophecies until they focused in one blended blaze of light on the new-born Babe in the manger at Bethlehem. From this great example, why cannot we learn that his final advent is not imminent, that is, liable to happen any day or hour, but like the first, must wait "the fulness of time" and the fixed, unalterable day, for Paul says, "Inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."



The birth of our Lord was not divinely announced to Augustus, Herod or the Sanhedrin – they would not have welcomed it – but to shepherds, who like David, watched the flocks of Bethlehem. Those who looked, longed, and waited for his first coming, were not left in the dark, nor will those like them be left in the dark at his final advent (1 Thess. 5:4). These shepherds of Bethlehem cared for the sacrificial flocks that were to be offered in the Temple. It was fitting, therefore, that they should know of the coming of the antitype, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. The time is the night of the very day of Christ's birth, the medium is an angel, the means – open vision. The glory of the Lord is the Shekinah or halo-symbol of the Divine Presence, well known in the tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon.

Notwithstanding the awe naturally excited by this glorious visitation, they, like Zacharias and Mary, are exhorted to "fear not." The angel's mission is mercy, not wrath. The character of the message is good tidings of great joy to all the people. "To bring good tidings" means the same as to evangelize or proclaim the gospel. "The people" means strictly the Jewish people, but of course through them all other peoples. The message itself is: "There is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord."

We have seen that Saviour means a Saviour from their sins. Christ is his official name and means the Anointed One. The Hebrew word is Messiah, Greek transliteration, Messias; Greek translation, Christos; English, Christ. Jesus was to be anointed to qualify him as prophet, priest, sacrifice, and King. We come to the anointing on the day he was inducted into his public ministry. (See in the author's first volume of sermons, The Anointed One.)



"Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger." How appropriate the sign of him who comes disrobed of heavenly glory to enter on his life of humiliation, poverty, and sacrifice! When the apostles later ask for the sign of his final advent, in his glory, how appropriately different the sign, the appearance in world darkness of a "great white throne" of eternal judgment. (See Matt. 24:3, 30; 25:31; Rev. 20:11.) From the manger to the throne!



Here we have the foundation of the third historic Christian hymn, "Gloria in Excelsis." In this hymn is a triple contrast, God – men; heaven – earth; glory – peace. This coming will make for glory to God in heaven, peace to men on earth. But the peace is not to all men – only to men in whom he is pleased.

We note here how this child in his coming affects three worlds. In heaven every bell is ringing and every angel singing. Earth, in its humbler classes, is rejoicing and singing hymns. Its kings and senates' are indifferent, soon to be hostile. Hell is moved with fear and hate, stirring up the three Herods to kill – its old Herod (Matt. 2:16) ; his son, Herod (Mark 6: 17-28); and his grandson, Herod (Acts 22:1-3).




1. What special comment on Matthew 1:18-25 commended?


2. Explain the relation of Jewish betrothal to marriage and what the  Old Testament law on violation of betrothal vows?


3. Meaning of the word "Jesus"?


4. Full meaning of the salvation, from sin?


5. What Old Testament name is the same as "Jesus," and in what  New Testament books is the relation between the two discussed?


6. Explain and justify Matthew's application of the Old Testament  quotations.


7. Explain and illustrate the apparent double sense of prophecy.


8. What the two tests of prophecy?


9. Collate the two passages indicating that Mary bore children to  Joseph.


10. What does Dr. Broadus ask us to observe on the birth of Jesus  at Bethlehem?


11. What are the characteristics of Luke's history?


12. What are the three criticisms on his account of the birth of Christ,  and your reply?


13. What the gospel hymn written on "No room for them at the inn,"  and the incident given?


14. With what other expressions in his life does the "no room at the  inn" correlate?


15. What can you say of the date of Christ's birth, our era and  calendar?


16. Compare the first and final advent as to their alleged imminence.


17. In the message of the angels to the shepherds, what means "good  tidings," "people," "Christ"?


18. What the sign of the first advent? The second.


19. What the triple contrast in the song of the angels?


20. Show how Christ's coming affected three worlds.  





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Harmony pages 8-10 and Luke 2:21-38; Matthew 2:1-12.



On this point the answers to two questions will be sufficient: Why was our Lord subject to this ordinance? and to what did it obligate him? Paul answers both questions: "He was born under the law that he might redeem them that were under the law" (Gal. 4:4-5). Circumcision made him "a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. 5:2). To accomplish his ultimate mission of mercy to the Gentile world he must approach them through the Jews – "For I say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God that he might confirm the promises given unto the fathers and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy" (Rom. 15:8-9).

So that his circumcision had a twofold purpose – to reach the Jews and through the Jews to reach the Gentiles. Being, through his mother, a lineal descendant of Abraham, it became him to magnify and make honorable the law in every minute respect. He himself said: "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy but to fulfill. . . . Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law till all things be accomplished" (Matt. 5:17-18).



This was the second step in the line of keeping the law. Circumcision was a family rite on the eighth day – this a Temple rite on the fortieth day. In this account we must distinguish what applied to Jesus from what applied to his mother. Two laws applied to his mother: (1) The forty days of purification required after bearing a first-born son (Lev. 12:1-4). (2) The bringing to the sanctuary a lamb for a burnt offering and a turtle-dove or a pigeon for a sin offering. But in mercy the law provided: "If her means suffice not for a lamb, then she shall take two turtle-doves or two young pigeons – the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean" (Lev. 12:6-8). What a comment, then, on the family poverty when our text says she offered "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons!"

The laws applying to her Son were: (1) He belonged, as first-born, to Jehovah and must be presented to him. The historical ground of Jehovah's title to the first-born of man or beast was the salvation of Israel's first-born through the blood of the passover lamb on the night that Egypt's first-born perished (Ex. 13:2, 11-16). This obligated the first-born son to a consecrated service in the sanctuary.

(2) But when Jehovah selected the tribe of Levi for sanctuary service in lieu of the first-born males of all the tribes, then the first-born of the other tribes were exempted from sanctuary service on payment of a redemption price of five shekels, which constituted a part of the means for supporting the tribe of Levi (Num. 8:16; 18:15-16).

So when Jesus was seven days old he was circumcised; and when forty days old was carried from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for presentation in the Temple, that the laws cited bearing on him and his mother might be fulfilled. The habit-blinded Temple officers saw nothing unusual in this observance of ordinary ritual. To them only a poor Jewish mother and her child had entered the gorgeous Temple of Herod. Like the unseeing man pilloried by Wordsworth:
A primrose by a river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more.

But this first appearance of our Lord in the Temple, as many subsequent ones, was to be signalized by mighty events. To one man and to one woman were given the seeing eye. One righteous and devout old man was looking for the coming Messiah, here called, according to prophecy, the Consolation of Israel. He had not only noted that the converging lines of type and prophecy had focused, but the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that his old eyes should not close in death until they had seen the Lord's Christ. It was like -the revelation to Enoch that his son Methuselah should live to the end of the antediluvian world, and like the revelation to Lamech that his son Noah should give rest from the flood and start a new race in the postdiluvian world. The Spirit, all the time resting on Simeon, gave him special prompting to go to the Temple at a certain hour, and there enabled him to recognize the Lord just entering in, borne by his mother. He took the child in his arms, blessing God and Joseph and Mary. Under immediate inspiration he spoke of three things:

(1) Salvation, (a) It was a salvation prepared before the face of all nations. This preparation had been going on for 4,000 years. In some way the preparation had conspicuously touched every nation under heaven. The Old Testament records the story of the contact. The great world empires, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, were no more than smaller nations and tribes. The loom of God's moral government of the world was ever weaving its web. The nations, as colored threads, constituted the warp. His providence, like a shuttle, ever flying to and fro, supplied the woof. And now, at last, after 4,000 years of weaving the pattern of the web exhibits the Lord Jesus Christ as the central figure of all history.

(b) It was a salvation, not only "to the glory of Israel," but as a revelation to the Gentiles.

(c) After his eyes had seen the coming of this salvation earth had nothing more of honor to wait for he was permitted to depart in peace. Happy old man! What a glorious consummation of a long and faithful life! What a brilliant sunset of life, unflecked by a cloud I Well might a disobedient prophet say,
Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my last end be like his.

Contrast the hideous old age and exit of Herod with the old age and beatific departure of Simeon.

(2) Concerning the Saviour, (a) "Behold, this child is set for the falling and rising up of many in Israel." Christ is the touchstone revealing the secret of every heart. Those who accept him rise. Those who reject him fall. He is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death.

(b) He is set for a sign which is spoken against. This again depends on how he is presented or regarded. As a mere good man none spoke against him. But as God-man on the cross, expiating, as a substitute the sins of the world, voices from every class blaspheme his name and mission.

(3) Concerning his mother. "Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul." Your attention has been called to a book entitled The Sorrows of Mary, based on this passage. The honor put on Mary was the highest privilege ever conferred on woman. When she thought of the honor, well might she sing: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour. . . . For he that is mighty hath done to me great things."

But with this honor come many sorrows. She must see her Son pass beyond all earthly relations to become absorbed in the higher spiritual relations. She must witness his rejection, betrayal, and crucifixion. Her sympathetic maternal heart must lead her into a baptism of suffering on his account.

Anna, the prophetess. Simeon, the aged man, is not alone as a witness. Here is a woman more than 100 years old. She had lived as a wife seven years, and had now been a widow eighty-four years. If she married at fourteen she would be 105 years old. She reminds us of Paul's direction concerning one "who is a widow indeed" (1 Tim. 5:5-10). After the death of her husband she devoted herself exclusively to the service of God in the Temple. Great joy comes to her old age. She, like Simeon, beholds the coming of the long-expected Saviour. Under the inspiration of the Spirit she testifies of the Christ to other waiting souls expecting the redemption.

In the most degenerate days of impiety and public corruption God never leaves himself without witnesses.

They are not in the high places, nor conspicuous in the congregations. They quietly wait and pray and serve. There are always more of them than men think. Elijah thought himself alone against the world. But God, even then, had reserved to himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knees to Baal. And so, says Paul, there is always "a remnant according to the election of grace." It is this remnant that constitutes the seed and nucleus of future revivals. In the dark days of Malachi, there were some faithful ones: "Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another; and Jehovah hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him', for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith Jehovah of hosts, even mine own possession, in the day that I make; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." And this "book of remembrance" will be among the "books opened at the judgment" (Rev. 20:12).


THE VISIT OF THE MAGI – Matthew 2:1-12

On this notable event we submit the following observations: (1) The meaning of Magi. Nebuchadnezzar summoned all his "wise men" (Dan. 2:12) to reveal to him the dream he had forgotten and 'then to interpret it. In this case our word "magi" is made to include "magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and Chaldeans" (Dan. 2:2). The Chaldeans only of this list answer to the character of the Magi of our paragraph. They were astronomers, devoting much attention to the study of the heavenly bodies, and believing, not only that they were appointed for signs to the earth, as taught in Genesis 1:14, but had much influence for good and evil on earth's affairs, hence the question of the Almighty to Job:
Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, Or canst thou guide the Bear with her train? Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth?

– JOB 38:31-33

To like effect is the passage in Judges 5:20
From heaven fought the stars, From their courses they fought against Sisera,

So the sun and the moon, at the bidding of Joshua, paused in their respective courses that the enemies of Israel might be utterly discomfited (Josh. 10:12-14).

From astronomy, a great and proper science with the ancient Egyptians and Chaldeans, there was developed later the superstition of astrology, with its casting of horoscopes, which darkened medieval Europe.

Later than Daniel's time we have another Old Testament use of the word "magi": "Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment; and the next unto him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom)" (Esther 1:1314). The Magi here are both princes and counselors to Ahasuerus (Xerxes the Great).

It is evident from a comparison of our paragraph with the two instances quoted from the Septuagint, that Magi might be very wise and honorable men engaged in the lawful study of astronomy, and that if Jehovah made a revelation to them, it would be adapted to their line. of study.

(2) How would these Wise Men in the Far East be prepared to recognize a heavenly phenomenon as a sign of a coming Jewish king? Very much to the point is a prophecy under the compulsion of unwelcome inspiration, by an unworthy magian from the Far East, many centuries before the birth of our Lord. Balaam three times prophesies of a coming king of Israel who shall rule the nations. In his last prophecy concerning this king, he says,
I see him but not now; I behold him but not nigh: There shall come forth a star out of Jacob And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel . . . And out of Jacob shall one have dominion.

– NUMBERS 24:17-19

Then, in the captivity under Nebuchadnezzar this book, centuries later, was carried to the home of the Magi – Ezra on his return bringing back a copy (Ezra 7:6, 10; Neh. 8:2) and then the book of Isaiah was also shown to Cyrus, in which the prophecy, "Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the bright-ness of thy rising. . . . They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praises of Jehovah" (Isa. 60:2-6). Moreover, all these holy books were kept in circulation in the land of the Magi, by resident Jews, until Christ was born.

I say, then, in view of the prophecy of a magian concerning the star and the King, and of Isaiah's prophecy of Gentiles coming to his rising, naming the very gifts they would bring, and of the circulation of these books in their very midst by resident Jews up to Christ's birth, of which it was impossible for these Magi to be ignorant, it is easy to understand how these stargazers would connect the appearance of a new and brilliant luminary with the birth of the long foretold King of the Jews who would rule the world.

(3) Was the star they saw the conjunction of heavenly bodies, appearing naturally at this time) or was it a miracle? You will find in Dr. Robertson's note, appendix to Broadus Harmony, a brief summary of the argument in favor of a natural phenomenon. I do not quote it, because such an explanation could not be made to fit Matthew's account, particularly, 2:9. It must be considered a miraculous appearance.

(4) How many of these Wise Men, what were their names, were they kings, and what became of them? The record is silent. We had better follow the record. Of course, if you desire to follow traditional fancies, utterly worthless, you may learn from Gen. Lew Wallace's romance, Ben Hur, that they were three in number, and royal personages, and their names and countries, and how, contrary to Matthew's account, they lingered long and conspicuously, instead of returning quietly to their distant homes.

Moreover, if you are given to the worship of lying relics, the next time you visit the famous cathedral at Cologne, the janitor, for a fee, will show you their bones in the shrine behind the high altar. Then will be justified the proverb: "A fool and his money are soon parted." The first time I visited New Orleans, an auctioneer of curios told me they were still selling to credulous visitors the cannon ball that killed Sir Edward Packingham in his great battle with Andrew Jackson.

And I have heard that an auctioneer once tried to sell the sword with which Balaam killed his ass. When a bystander informed him that Balaam did not kill his ass, but only wished for a sword that he might kill him, the auctioneer was nothing daunted: "This," said he, "is the sword be wished for," and he sold is as an antique relic.

(5) These Wise Men, quite naturally, went to Jerusalem with their question: "Where is he that is born king of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to do homage to him?" But it was not good tidings to Herod and Jerusalem. Both were greatly troubled – Herod, because he feared the downfall of his proposed dynasty; Jerusalem, because it dreaded political convulsions followed by bloodshed and destruction of their city. Herod summons the obsequious Sanhedrin and learns that Bethlehem, according to prophecy, was to be his birthplace. The cunning old tyrant, having gathered from the Wise Men the time of the appearance of the star, sent them to Bethlehem, with the charge to let him know if they found the child, that he also might come and worship him.

(6) It seems that the Magi saw the star only twice: first, at its appearance in the East, and second, after they left Jerusalem on their way to Bethlehem, where the star led them, and then stood still over the house where Joseph and Mary lodged.

(7) Observe that the first gift laid at the feet of Jesus was gold. On a great occasion, before our Texas convention, when the foreign mission cause was greatly suffering, I preached a sermon on the gold, frankincense and myrrh, the first gifts to Jesus, and as myrrh was used for both the holy ointment in the anointing of kings and prophets, and also for embalming, I made the gifts represent contribution, prayer, and unction, and that they should never be separated: We must contribute, we must pray, we must have the unction of the Spirit. A great collection followed for foreign missions.

These Wise Men, having done homage to the new-born King, and warned of God in a dream not to return to Herod, went away into their own country. How dramatic their coming and their going!

(8) Evidently they may be counted as the firstfruits of the Gentiles.




1. Why should Jesus be circumcised, and what was its twofold purpose in his case?


2. In. the presentation of our Lord in the Temple, distinguish the  laws as applied to him from those applied to his mother.


3. What two mighty events signalized this first appearance of our  Lord in the Temple?


4. Is Luke 2:29 a prayer for an affirmation?


5. In the prophecy of Simeon, he speaks three things concerning  salvation. What are they?


6. He speaks two things concerning the Saviour: What are they?


7. He speaks one thing concerning Mary: What is it?


8. Does "that thoughts out of many hearts be revealed," in v. 35, refer to what Simeon said to Mary, or to what he said of her Son?


9. What do you learn concerning Anna the prophetess?


10. Cite the Old Testament uses of the word "Magi," and what is  its meaning?


11. What is the difference between astronomy and astrology?


12. How were these Wise Men prepared to recognize a heavenly  phenomenon as a sign of the coming Jewish King?


13. Was the star they saw a junction of heavenly bodies appearing  naturally, or was it a miracle?


14. How many of these Wise Men, what were their names, were they  kings, what became of them?


15. What traditions concerning them are given in Gen. Lew Wallace's  Ben Hur!


16. What have you to say about their bones now lying in the cathe  dral at Cologne?


17. Why were Herod and Jerusalem troubled at the account of the  Wise Men?


18. What wag the first gift ever laid at the feet of our Lord, and  what providential use was made of it?


19. Tell concerning the sermon on "gold, frankincense and myrrh."  





(Return to Contents)





Harmony pages 10-11 and Matthew 2:13-28; Luke 2:39-52



In two respects the flight into Egypt is connected with the visit of the Wise Men: First a dream was sent to them not to return to Herod at Jerusalem, and another dream to Joseph to escape with the child into Egypt. Second, the Wise Men's gift of gold provided the means of paying the expense of the Egyptian trip. Before leaving the subject of the Wise Men, you will recall my warning against the unhistorical accretions to the simple story of them by Matthew. Now, as some compensation for the caution against unworthy legends, I commend with pleasure and without reserve a little book by Henry van Dyke, entitled: The Fourth Wise Man. It makes no pretension to be either history or tradition but, like a parable, has the verisimilitude of history, and is one of the most exquisite portrayals of great abstract principle and truth known to literature. If any of you are puzzled to select an appropriate gift for Christmas, New Year, a birthday or wedding, you cannot do better than to select van Dyke's little book, which contains The Fourth Wise Man, and other equally exquisite stories.

Dr. Maclaren, in his extended exposition of Matthew, calls attention, with modified approval, to the contention of Delitzsch that Matthew's Gospel follows the plan of the Pentateuch, with a Genesis ending in a dreaming Joseph entering into Egypt to provide a nurturing home for Israel, Jehovah's ideal son. Then an exodus from Egypt, here fulfilled again: "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," followed by the Sermon of the Mount, which answers to the giving of the Law at Sinai; then the forty days of hunger and temptation of our Lord, answering to the forty years of -the wilderness wanderings in Numbers, etc. That there are points of striking correspondence between Matthew and the Pentateuch would naturally follow from the fact that our Lord is the ideal Son and Servant of Jehovah, of whom the national Israel was a type, and hence the history of ancient Israel is itself prophetic.

The whole paragraph, Matthew 2:13-23, naturally divides itself into three parts:

(1) The flight into Egypt, and the prophecy.

(2) The massacre of the Bethlehem babes, and the prophecy.

(3) The return to Nazareth, and the prophecy. We consider them in order:



This is the historic background of the symbolism in Revelation referring to a later persecution of the church and her converts. See the author's exposition of Revelation 12:1-6. That passage must be interpreted as a symbol concerning future events, but it does prove that Satan, who here prompts the malice of Herod to drive Mary and her Son into Egypt, docs there prompt a heathen emperor of Rome to drive the church into the wilderness and make war on her seed. The mistake to avoid is not, like Alford, to interpret the symbol so as to make it mean its historic background.

One acquainted with the Old Testament history may easily observe that for ages whoever fled from persecution in Palestine quite naturally went into Egypt. It was the best of all places for Joseph to take the family while the bloody-minded Herod lived.

It will be observed that from this time on it is the child, not Mary or Joseph, who occupies the chief place – "take the young child and his mother." They remain in Egypt until in another dream Jehovah notified Joseph "that those who sought the young child's life were dead," and directing him to return to the land of Israel, as Matthew says, "that the prophecy might be fulfilled, out of Egypt have I called my Son." This expression is a plain historical statement in the book of Hosea, and yet Matthew is justified in calling it a prophecy merely because the whole history of ancient Israel was prophetic. As has already been said, national Israel was Jehovah's typical son; Jesus was the ideal Israel, or the true Son of Jehovah. We observe that the latter part of Isaiah concerning "the servant of Jehovah," finds its application in the antitype, Jesus, and not in the type, Israel.



On this incident in the history of Matthew, we submit the following observations. Some critics have affected to discredit the historical character of Matthew's incident because it is not mentioned in Josephus. The reply to the criticism is –

The gospel historians, writing directly upon a more limited topic than Josephus, do not need any confirmation from him.

The greater part of the New Testament would have to be rejected if it must be proved from Josephus.

Bethlehem was merely a village, and the number of male children two years old and under would not exceed twenty. The killing of twenty babies by Herod was a small item in his bloody record, quite infinitesimal in comparison with many other of his deeds of cruelty.

Josephus was not merely a Jew, but a sycophantic admirer of the Romans. He would necessarily avoid many references to our Lord. One. however, rejected by some critics as spurious, is very striking. There is also an undisputed reference to John the Baptist, and another one to James, the brother of our Lord. These several passages from Josephus will be considered later, and at greater length.

First, the murder of these babies is in full accord, not merely with the general character of Herod, but particularly with his dying condition, jealous to madness of any one who would likely dispute the continuance of his dynasty, as he had arranged it in his will.

Second, in every age of the world, the bloody death of these babies has attracted the attention of the poet and of the artist, and has excited sympathy for these first martyrs, more perhaps than of any other of the long line of those who died bloody deaths on account of our Lord. They are even called "Little flowers of martyrdom, roses by the whirlwind shorn." The great Augustine said, "Oh, happy little ones! just born, not yet tempted, not yet struggling, already crowned." We see in their death an anticipation of Christ's later words: "I come not to bring peace, but a sword."

The powers of darkness would naturally seek to cut off his life at the beginning in order to frustrate the great purpose of his mission, and as we have already seen that the dragon, even Satan himself, was prompting Herod to take away the life of the long-promised Messiah. This much good at least resulted from the death of these children: Jerusalem, Herod, and even Satan himself, supposed that their object had been accomplished, and that the one "born King of the Jews" had perished in this massacre. Hence there is no other assault made upon him by the powers of darkness until at his baptism he is not only seen to be alive, but is declared by the Father to be his beloved Son, and at that point Satan renews the attack, but in a different form.

Third, the prophecy concerning this event is a quotation from Jeremiah 31:15-17: "Thus saith Jehovah: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentations, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not. Thus saith Jehovah: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith Jehovah; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy latter end, saith Jehovah; and thy children shall come again to their own border." This declaration from Jehovah, by a vivid personification, represents Rachel, the mother of three tribes, rising from her tomb to bewail their captivity as they are dragged away by the Assyrian tyrant. It is not meant to teach that the departed have a personal interest in those that are left behind them, and bewail their faults and calamities. It is the purpose of Matthew to show that if Rachel could be so personified in the first great disaster to her children it would be fulfilled again in this instance, and the comforting words are much more appropriate: "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for they shall come again from the land of the enemy."

Just how long Joseph, with Mary and the child, remained in Egypt, we do not know. But the angel who guided him comes again with these words: "Arise and take the young child and his mother and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead that sought the young child's life." We cannot help recalling a similar word to Moses, when he was recalled from Midian to Egypt – "All the men are dead who sought thy life." We cannot help being impressed with the guiding providence of God in protecting and caring for the child, and in the prompt and implicit obedience of Joseph to every admonition from the Lord.

This declaration, "They are dead that sought the young child's life," seems to be prophetic of all the future. Herod died in the horrors of madness, a rotting carcass. Jesus lived. In Acts 12 his grandson Herod put to death James, the brother of John the apostle. But the chapter closes with this statement: "An angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten of worms and gave up his spirit, but the word of God grew and multiplied." The apostate Roman emperor, Julian, who tried so hard to destroy the Christian religion and to falsify the prophecies concerning it, when he came to die is reported as saying, "Thou Galilean hast conquered." Somewhat similar reports are made concerning the death of Tom Paine.

In any event, throughout all the ages of the Christian era the enemies of our Lord and of his kingdom have died and rotted, but the kingdom moved on conquering and to conquer.

And so it shall be until the words of the book of Revelation shall be fulfilled: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is to this thought that Psalm 2 speaks when it says:
Why do the nations rage, And the peoples meditate a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, Against Jehovah, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bonds asunder, And cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision. Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

Those words are quoted by the apostles when they were forbidden to continue to preach in the name of Jesus.



It appears from the record that Joseph intended to return to Bethlehem, but was troubled to learn that Archelaus reigned instead of Herod over ldumea, Judea and Samaria, as ethnarch, according to the Roman confirmation of Herod's will. He was as mean and as cruel as Herod, though much inferior in capacity. When he went to Rome to have himself confirmed as king, five hundred prominent Jews followed him to protest against his kingly rule. The Romans allowed him to remain as ethnarch for about nine years, and then removed him permanently and banished him for just cause. In the meantime the angel comes again to relieve the perplexity of Joseph, and directs him to his old home in Nazareth. And here Matthew again finds a fulfilment of prophecies – "That it might be fulfilled that he should be called a Nazarene." There is no one prophecy in the Old Testament which contains those words, but there are many prophecies that speak of him as being under reproach, and the title "Nazarene" was always held by the outside world as a reproach to his claim to the messiah-ship. It was even inscribed on the headboard of his cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Nathanael said later, "Can any good come out of Nazareth?" And without destroying at all the sense of reproach in the name, the special prophecy to which Matthew refers might be Isaiah 11:1: "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit." Here only a stump seems to be left of the ancient stock of Jesse and David, and the branch or shoot from the root is called nether. It is quite probable that the word "Nazarene" is derived from the same word, and as a proof of the reproach involved in the name, we have these words in Isaiah 53: "Who hath believed our message and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of the dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and is one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised and we esteemed him not."

So, whether we regard the term "Nazarene" as merely one of reproach, or whether we derive it etymologically from netzer, the thought is the same, and Matthew rightly construes the prophecy which so speaks of the Messiah.

Jesus lived at Nazareth and visited Jerusalem when twelve years of age (Luke 2:40-52). On this paragraph of Luke we observe:

The development of the childhood of Jesus: "And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him." This is a clear proof of the humanity of our Lord. It shows the development of body, mind, and spirit.

The Law of Moses required all males to go up three times a year to Jerusalem to the great feasts. They did not scrupulously fulfil this law in their history, but even the Jews of the dispersion were accustomed at least to go up to the Passover Feast, and it is concerning attendance on this feast, which lasts a week, that our lesson speaks.

Jesus Twelve Years Old. Under the Jewish law the -child remained under the teaching of its mother till he was five years old, and then the responsibility passed to his father until he was twelve years old; and at twelve years of age he become what is called "a son of the law." From this time forward the responsibility of his life rests upon himself more than upon his father or his mother.

It was every way appropriate, therefore, that when Jesus reached this critical period of his life that he should attend the Passover Feast, there to receive instruction not from father or mother, nor from the synagogue teacher, but from the great doctors of the law who held their school in the Temple itself. There were a number of illustrious Jewish doctors at this time in Jerusalem, including the great Hillel, and Gamaliel, the teacher of Paul. While there is no evidence that Jesus and Paul ever met face to face, yet they were about the same age, and Paul went from Tarsus, where he was born, to receive this rabbinical education in the famous Jerusalem schools. He says, "I was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel." It was also about this time that the celebrated Philo, the Alexandrian Jew, was a pupil in this school of rabbis, though there is no evidence that he himself ever met Jesus face to face, Jesus being there only a short time.

That you may understand the story, there were at such a time as this, from every town and village in the land, pilgrims, grouped together, who would be marching up toward Jerusalem, singing the prescribed songs of the psalter. You will find them in the book of Psalms named, "The Songs of the Going Up." It is easy to see, therefore, that when the parents started home, they would not notice the temporary absence of Jesus, supposing him to be in the great company. But when, at the end of a day's journey, they missed him, and could hear nothing of him from any of the returning pilgrims, they themselves went back to Jerusalem to find him.

The record says, "And it came to pass, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions, and all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers." We have just noted in the first verse of this paragraph that Jesus not only grew in wisdom, but that the grace of God was upon him. Which not only means wisdom as applied to the development of the mind of ordinary persons, but a spiritual increase of wisdom through the grace of God resting on him. In a previous chapter we have noted that Christ could read and speak at least three languages, and that he, in his whole life up to this point, whether his mother, or Joseph, or the synagogue was his teacher, was learning the word of God and its meaning. The illumination given him by the Spirit would enable him to understand more than any of the great doctors who, according to their method, were catechizing him and allowing him to catechize them.

The lesson teaches that one taught of God is wiser than all who are taught of men. He himself later said that while Solomon was counted the wisest man in the world, he was greater in wisdom than Solomon. This is not the first instance on record where teachers have been instructed by their more enlightened pupils. It is related of the celebrated Dr. Blair, of Scotland, that his university teacher in theology was carried away with the wisdom of his answers. On one occasion, propounding three questions in Latin, which the student must off-hand answer in Latin, the last question was, Quid est caritas? (what is charity) and the reply came like the lightning flash, Ah, magister, id est raritas (ah master, that is rare).

It is to be deplored that great teachers of theology yield to a tendency to become mere professors, hair-splitting in their niceties of explanation, and gradually forgetting the spirit and power of all true theology. Never was this more noticeable than in the Sanhedrin, with its great Jewish doctors of the law. Only two of them are represented as becoming followers of Christ, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. The rest all perished in their learning.

You will recall how often I have emphasized the value of the catechetical form of instruction – questions and counter questions. Nothing but my deafness has prevented me from resorting more to this method.

At this amazing juncture, the child instructing the doctors, Joseph and Mary came upon the scene, which astonishes them much, and with something of reproach his mother says, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I sought thee, sorrowing." The answer of our Lord to his mother not only conveys a counter reproach, disclaiming Joseph as his father, but shows that he has reached a great epoch in his life, to whit: consciousness of his messiahship and the paramount claims of its duties over any earthly relations. His reply is "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be in my Father's house?" When he says "my Father's" house, he disclaims the paternity of Joseph, which Mary had at least assumed, or by a marginal rendering, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" It is indeed a pregnant reply, and discloses at least the following things:

(1) That at least now, if at no earlier date, there was a full consciousness in his own mind of his messianic mission.

(2) It is strange that his mother should not have, from the past remarkable events of his life, which she had kept in her heart, understood this, and that from this time on the voice of God must be higher than the voice of his mother in determining his movements and actions. I know that some claim that consciousness of messiahship did not come to him until his baptism, but when we come to interpret the history of that baptism, the proof will be submitted that the consciousness preceded that occasion.

This incident is named by the book, to which your attention has been called, The Sorrows of Mary, as the third sorrow of her heart – first, the words of Simeon; second, the flight into Egypt; and third, the announcement that from this time on the path of the child must be away from the family.

(3) We know that his mother did not fully learn the lesson, for twice later she is rebuked by the Son who is her Lord. Once, at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, he says to her interference, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" And still later, when the family learn that he was so absorbed in teaching and healing that he would not take time to eat, but his kinsfolk counted him mad, his mother and younger brothers came to call him off from his work, as it were under a writ of lunacy, and he replies, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" and resisted their interference with his messianic work.

Having thus stated the paramount law of his messiahship, the record says he went down to Nazareth with them and "was subject to them." This subjection was another step like his circumcision and his presentation in the Temple in fulfilling to perfection all of the law. It shows that he venerated and observed the Fifth Commandment. In the later history we will consider other visits of our Lord to the Temple, and every time he comes into his Father's house, his coming is signalized by mighty events.

Luke closes his paragraph by showing the development of his manhood, in these words: "Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." How few, as we have already learned, are the words of our historians concerning the greater part of the life of Christ. Let me repeat them to you again:

"And the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40).

"He was subject to them" (Luke 2:51).

"And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and he entered, as his custom was, into the Synagogue on the sabbath day" (Luke 4:16).

"Is not this the carpenter?" (Mark 6:3).

These, indeed, are few words, but they are mighty words. They show not only the physical, mental, and spiritual development of his childhood and his manhood, his observance of the Fifth Commandment in honoring his parents, his observance of the sabbath day in synagogue instruction, but his learning, as all Jews counted honorable, a trade. These were years of preparation – thirty years of preparation in order that he might publicly labor three years. Only prepared men accomplish great things, and the greater the preparation the less need for long time in which to do great things. But our young people of the present day count wasted the time devoted to deep and thorough preparation for lifework. They are in haste to rush out, half equipped, for the strenuous battle of life.




1. In what two respects was the flight into Egypt connected with  the Wise Men?


2. What little book specially commended?


3. What of the contention of Delitzsch, concerning the plan of  Matthew's Gospel?


4. Cite some striking correspondences between Matthew and the Pentateuch.


5. What symbolism in Revelation finds its historic background in  the flight into Egypt?


6. Into what new prominence in the family does the child Jesus now come?


7. What prophecy was fulfilled by the exodus from Egypt, and how  do you prove that it was really prophetic?


8. Why do some critics discredit the historical character of Matthew's  account of the massacre of the babes in Bethlehem and your reply to  the criticism?


9. What attention has this slaughter of the few babes in Bethlehem  attracted in the after ages? 


10. Mention one practical good at least that resulted from the murder  of these children. 


11. What was the prophecy in relation to this massacre, and how do you make it out to be prophetic? 


12. What assurance was given to Joseph when the angel directed him to leave Egypt, and compare this with a similar statement to Moses in Midian? 


13. How does this declaration, "They are dead that sought the young child's life," seem to be prophetic, and illustrate? 


14. What danger would have occurred if Joseph had returned to Bethlehem? 


15. What prophecy was fulfilled in the return to Nazareth? 


16. In what two ways can you show that this would be a term of reproach? 


17. What has Luke to say concerning the development of the child  hood of Jesus at Nazareth? 


18. How often were male Jews required to go up to Jerusalem? 


19. How long was a mother responsible for the spiritual instruction of her child? How long the father? and at what age did the Jewish  child become a son of the law? 


20. What higher instruction was given at Jerusalem for those who  were the sons of the law? 


21. Cite some of the great Jewish rabbis who taught these sons of  the law in the Temple. 


22. Name two illustrious men who were under this instruction about  the same time with Jesus. 


23. When the Jews from the villages and towns of the Holy Land went up to Jerusalem, what hymns of the psalter did they sing on their pilgrimage? 


24. How was Jesus qualified to astound the great rabbis in the Temple? 


25. How many of the Sanhedrin became Christians? 


26. What were the words of Mary to Jesus when she found him in  the Temple with the doctors, and his reply? 


27. What makes this a great epoch in the life of Jesus? 


28. What were the words of Luke to show the development of Jesus  into manhood? 


29. Repeat again the five short passages that constitute the only story of the greater part of the life of Christ? 


30. What do they show?  





(Return to Contents)




We have so far considered the beginnings of the gospel histories of John, Paul, Matthew, and Luke. Now we come to the public ministry of John the Baptist. Before we undertake a detailed examination of the record of John's ministry, let us get clearly before us an orderly statement of …



Old Testament prophecy. There are three certainly, and probably four, as follows: Isaiah 40:1-11; Malachi 3:2; Malachi 4:5-6; the fourth is based on a Septuagint rendering of Isaiah 35:1.

There are several remarkable New Testament prophecies concerning John, all to be found in Luke I, as follows: Luke 1:5-25, 36-37, 39-44, 57-80. This New Testament history, with its attendant prophecies concerning John, is to be found in the Harmony, pages 3-6.

The public ministry of John, Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-23. This account of John's ministry is to be found on pages 12-16 of the Harmony.

John's first testimony to Jesus, John 1:15-36; Harmony, Pages 2,18.

The later ministry of John, concurrent with the ministry of Jesus, and John's second testimony to our Lord. John 3:22 to 4:4; Harmony, pages 21-22.

The arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist, and the cause: Luke 3:19-20; Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; Harmony, page 22, together with later references to the same event: Mark 6:17-18; Matthew 14:3-5; Harmony, page 75.

The events in the prison life of John. (a) The effect of his private preaching on Herod, Mark 6:20. (b) The question of fasting, propounded by John's disciples to Christ, and Christ's witness to John, Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5: 33-39; Harmony, pages 35, 38. (c) Christ's second witness to John, John 5:33-35; Harmony, page 40. (d) The doubts of John while in prison concerning the messiahship of Jesus, and Christ's third witness to John, Matthew 11:2-19; Luke 7:18-25; Harmony, pages 54-55.

The death of John, its occasion, and the report of it to Jesus, Matthew 14:6-12; Mark 6:21-29; Harmony, page 75.

The tortured conscience of Herod and John the Baptist, Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:16; Luke 9:9; Harmony, pages 7475; also Matthew 16:14; Mark 8:28; Luke 9:19; Harmony, page 89.

John taught his disciples to pray, Luke 11:1; Harmony, page 112.

John did no miracle, but the people on account of his testimony accepted Christ, John 10:40-42; Harmony, page 120. John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6, and Christ's fourth witness concerning John, Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:10-14; Mark 9.11-13.

Was John an Old Testament worker or a New Testament worker or the boundary line between the two covenants? Mark 1:1-2; Matthew 11:12-13; Luke 16:16; Acts 1:22; Luke 1:10, with which compare the prophecy at Isaiah 40:1-11, and answer the objection based on Matthew 3:11, explaining that scripture.

Was the baptism of John Christian baptism? Matthew 21:25-26, 32; Mark 11:30, 32; Luke 20:4, 6; Luke 7:29-30, connected with the following facts: Christ himself received this baptism; the Holy Trinity was present at his baptism; his baptism was the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah; he baptized the twelve apostles to the Jews (Acts 1:22); on the other hand answer the objections based on the following facts: Apollos, knowing only the baptism of John, was instructed more perfectly in the way of the Lord by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:25); the case of the rebaptism of the twelve disciples of John (Acts 19:lf); his was only a "baptism of repentance"; the contrast he himself instituted between his baptizing and Christ's baptizing, Matthew 3:11.

The doctrines taught by John: Repentance, reformation, faith in Christ, regeneration, confession of sins, remission of sins, the judgment.

John's great titles.

The elements of John's greatness.

The testimony of Josephus, Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 5:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue both as to righteousness toward one another and piety toward God, and 80 to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to Him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly muved (or pleased) by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed to do anything he should advise), thought it best by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause and not bring himself into difficulties by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now, the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

This reference of Josephus had this historic background; Herod Antipas divorced his wife, the daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia, in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip, with whom he had eloped. Aretas, to avenge the indignity put on his daughter, made war on Herod. Herod's army was completely destroyed in a great battle of this war. It was this destruction of Herod's army which the Jews attributed to the murder of John the Baptist.

Let us consider somewhat in detail this outline of the material for a life of John the Baptist, inasmuch as some of the most difficult problems of New Testament interpretation are therein involved. Not only the several denominations assume variant views of John and his work in order to serve a purpose of their own, or obstruct a purpose of some other, but even the most disinterested scholars are perplexed in determining the meaning of some passages of history bearing on John's place in the gospel dispensation and the kingdom of God.

These questions arise: Does John belong to the Old Covenant or New? Did he preach the gospel in all its essential elements as we preach it now? Was his baptism Christian baptism? Was he himself in the kingdom of our Lord? May we argue from the act, subject, and design of his baptism to prove the act, subject and design of baptism now enjoined?

After examining repeatedly every biblical passage concerning John with a critical microscope, and after carefully studying for a half century all the controversies of the centuries touching him, I am profoundly impressed that ninety-nine one hundredths of the problems have been manufactured to serve denominational exigencies on the subject, act, and design of Christian baptism.

The following facts are so self-evident on the face of the record that life is too short to waste its time in arguing with those who deny them:

No matter if the word "baptism" has a thousand meanings, John's only act of baptism was immersion.

He immersed Jesus himself in the river Jordan, which is the only water baptism Jesus ever received.

The immersion which John administered, and which Jesus received, they both concurrently administered later, John 3:22-23.

Both made disciples before they immersed them, John 4:1-2.

This making of disciples and then immersing them is precisely what Jesus, after his resurrection, commanded in his Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

John immersed only adults who came to him and accepted the gospel he preached.

Those who accepted John's gospel did experimentally receive the knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins (Luke 1:77).

John "made ready a people prepared for the Lord," (Luke 1:15-17). Those so prepared for him Jesus received without a further process or ordinance whatever, (John 1:35-36; Acts 1:21-22).

John made his disciples by preaching repentance and faith, Acts 19:4 and Matthew 3:2. Jesus did the same thing (Mark 1:15).

It is true that John's baptism was unto "repentance" (eis mentanoian), Matthew 3:11, but the repentance, with its fruits, preceded the baptism, therefore it was a baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins (Mark 1:4) Eis aphesin hamartion, as in Acts 2:38, and therefore identical with our Lord's other great commission, recorded by Luke, "And that repentance and remission of sins" (aphesin hamartion) should be preached in his name among the nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

John, though of the priestly line, never ministered in the Temple, but under a special commission from heaven administered an ordinance so new in act, subject, and design, it gave him a specific distinguishing name, O Baptistes – The Baptizer --just as we say, "Washington, the General," or "Coiumbus, the Discoverer."



We save ourselves much confusion of mind by clear conceptions of the word "kingdom" as used in this connection. All the context shows that a visible King had come; he was to be accepted by visible subjects, who would submit to visible ordinances, and be united for work into a visible organization. For this visible organization officers would be appointed and laws established.

This kingdom, while not of the world, was yet in the world, and destined to become a world empire. If this be not foreshown in the prophets, then they foreshow nothing. If this be not the import of the gospel histories, then they have no meaning.

This kingdom was not only to be distinguished from secular world empires which preceded it, but also distinguished from the national, typical kingdom of Israel, which, under a different covenant, also preceded it.

When we allow our minds to float off into fancies of invisible kingdoms and invisible churches, and to rest only on pure spiritualities without external visible forms, we do violence to the plainest laws of language.

With so much premised, we now submit as bearing on John's position the following testimonies:

The testimony of Mark. Mark says: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the Prophet,
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;

"John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins" (Mark 1:1-4).

This certainly makes John the first New Testament preacher of the gospel of Jesus.

The testimony of our Lord. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John" (Matt. 11:11-13). "The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached and every man entereth violently into it" (Luke 16:16).

The testimony of Peter. He speaks on the occasion of selecting an apostle to the Jews to take the position vacated by the traitor, Judas Iscariot, using this language: "Of the men therefore which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection."

On these several testimonies, which might be multiplied, it is evident that John in his preaching and baptism is as much the beginning of the New Testament dispensation as any starting point designated by a surveyor in marking off the boundaries of a tract of land.

The testimony of our Lord, continued. When the Sanhedrin questioned our Lord as to his authority for doing the things which he did, he met them with this counter question: "The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven or from man? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say from heaven; he will say unto us, Why, then, did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, From men; we fear the multitude; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus and said, We know not. He also said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things" (Matt. 21: 25-27). Both Mark and Luke give an account of the same question. The members of the Sanhedrin were not the only ecclesiastics who have been unable to answer the question propounded by our Lord. If John's baptism had been a ritualistic ordinance of the Old Testament, or if it had been the latter Jewish proselyte immersion, any Jew could have answered the question. Upon the same matter our Lord says in another connection: "And all the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized on him" (Luke 7:29-30).

It has often been confidently asserted that John's baptism was not Christian baptism. If not, then the baptism which Christ himself received was not Christian baptism.

The most remarkable position ever assigned to baptism was John's baptism of our Lord. All the Trinity were present: the Son was baptized, the Father from heaven expressed his pleasure, the Holy Spirit rested like a dove upon his head. And it was at this baptism that Jesus was manifested as the Messiah.

It is also true that the only baptism received by the twelve apostles was John's baptism (Acts 1:22).

Upon these several testimonies, giving evidence absolutely unanswerable, certain criticisms by way of objections have been offered:

First objection. The following words of Christ: "Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" .(Matt. 11:11). Before attempting to reply to this criticism, let us note that the King James Version renders it: "He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John," and the revised version renders it: "He that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John." Dr. Broadus well criticizes the soundness of the rendering in the revised version. The Greek word is mikros, an adjective in the comparative degree. It is somewhat defensible to say with the common version, "He that is least," in the sense that "less," or the comparative degree, is used to mean less than all others, which would be equivalent to least. There is no defense for the rendering in the revised version. This language is interpreted to mean that Christ taught that John was not in the kingdom of heaven, but belonged to the Old Testament dispensation. We have no right to set aside the plain meaning of many passages, which have just been given, as to John's relation to the kingdom and the New Testament covenant We have no right to interpret Christ in this one case as contradicting what he had so many times expressed in unequivocal language in other connections. Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture. Most commentators take it to mean substantially this: That as John merely introduced the New Covenant and passed away before the fulness of its light was manifested, therefore one who later was permitted to understand more and to enjoy the higher privilege and opportunity of more extended knowledge, was greater than John in this respect. This interpretation would not destroy the significance of Christ's other testimonies to John. I

J. R. Graves, in his Seven Dispensations, gives a different interpretation. He says that the adjective mikros, in the comparative degree, is used in this instance adverbially, qualilying the verb "is," and not any person or class of persons, and translates thus: "Notwithstanding he that is later in the kingdom is greater than John." The one greater than John then, would be Christ Himself, and this would put the declaration squarely in harmony with the following words of John himself: "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: But he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire" (Matt. 3:11); "And he preached, saying, There cometh One after me that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose" (Mark 1:7); "John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, he that cometh after me is before me: for he was before me" (John 1:15); "Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is of the earth, and of the earth he speaketh: He that cometh from heaven is above all" (John 3:28-31).

Dr. Graves then continues: "This translation of mikros makes Christ speak the truth, and also makes all the statements of John coincide with that of Christ. If mikros were nowhere else in the whole range of Greek literature used adverbially, it evidently is here. The facts compel us to read it. Both John and Christ were, therefore, in the kingdom." I have never seen any reply absolutely conclusive against the contention of Dr. Graves. In any event, I am quite sure that our Lord did not mean to contradict in one of his statements quite a number of other unequivocal statements made by him.

Second objection. In Acts 18:24-26 it is said: "Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately."

Here the contention is that it was not sufficient for the preacher to know only the baptism of John. It is admitted that twenty years after the death of John, a Jew of Alexandria, knowing nothing further than John's original preaching needed to be instructed in the additional light that followed the preaching of John. You will please notice, however, that Apollos was not rebaptized nor reordained. His knowledge of the events following John's baptism was increased – that is all – and the case rather supports than condemns the position taken that John's gospel was the boundary line between the two covenants.

Dr. Broadus uses this illustration, that John was like the middle platform of a stairway – above those on the steps below him, and below those on the steps above him. Others have used this illustration that John belonged to the new day, just as the twilight of dawn belongs to the new day. Third objection. "John's baptism was only a baptism of repentance." It has been admitted in the first part of this discussion that John's was a baptism unto repentance, but it was a baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins, and no way different from what Peter said at Acts 2:38, and no way different from the great commission given in Luke, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations. We in our time, like Luke in his time, would baptize no impenitent candidate.

Fourth objection. It is contended that John himself instituted a striking comparison between his baptism and the baptism of our Lord: "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire" (Matt. 3:11). The answer is obvious. John instituted no manner of comparison between his baptism in water and Christ's baptism in water, but he does contrast his baptism in water with Christ's baptizing in the Holy Spirit and in fire, proving Christ's superiority of power and position to John, but in no way discriminating between the water baptism of the two, as has already been shown.

Fifth objection. This objection is based upon the record at Acts 19:1-7: "And it came to pass that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus and found certain disciples; and he said unto them, Did ye not receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied. And they were in all about twelve men."

Here, it is contended, is a clear case that certain disciples baptized by John were rebaptized by Paul, and therefore John's baptism was not Christian baptism. The answer to this contention is, first, it is evident that John himself never baptized these twelve men. It is twenty years since John died. Evidently they had never heard John preach. They would not have been ignorant of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, for John spoke very particularly of the baptism in the Spirit to be administered by our Lord. John's office was peculiar: he had no successor; no man had a right to perpetuate the work of John. He finished his own course. And whoever originally baptized these twelve men did it without authority. Their ignorance as to whether the Holy Spirit had been given was proof positive that the flaws in their baptism were an unauthorized administrator and an uninstructed subject.

I will not take time just now with showing the contention of some that there was in this case no rebaptism in water. The claim is that Paul spake concerning John in the fifth verse as well as in the fourth, and that the only baptism they received at Paul's hands was the baptism in the Spirit. We will discuss that contention when we come to the passage in Acts. My judgment is that Paul not only baptized these twelve men in water on account of the flaws in their former baptism through lack of proper administrator and a proper intelligence on the part of the subjects, but that through him they were also baptized in the Holy Spirit. Dr. Broadus well says that this isolated case, susceptible of several explanations, cannot be used to discredit former clear statements concerning the baptisms administered by John. Indeed, if there had been a flaw, per se, in the baptisms administered by John himself, then would no baptism administered by him have been received by our Lord and his apostles. It has been shown, however, that the only water baptism they themselves received was John's baptism, which was not repeated in any case.




1. Make out, in order, the scriptural material for a life of John the  Baptist, giving an analysis.


2. What was the substance of the testimony of Josephus concerning  John?


3. What questions arise concerning John, his preaching, his baptism  and his place in the kingdom?


4. To what may be attributed ninety-nine one hundredths of the  problems concerning John?


5. State in order the eleven facts concerning John and his ministry  that cannot be disputed.


6. In determining John's place in the kingdom, how may we save  ourselves much confusion of mind?


7. Give the testimony of Mark bearing on this matter, and what  does it prove?


8. Give two passages embodying the testimony of our Lord upon  the same matter.


9. Give the testimony of Peter.


10. Cite two other prominent testimonies of our Lord touching  John's baptism. . . .


11. Now, upon all these several statements, cite the first objection  based on the words of Christ.


12. What is the difference between the rendering in the common verrion and the revised version on this passage?


13. What is the Greek word, and what part of speech is it?


14. What does the objector interpret Christ to mean by this statement, and how do you meet the objection?


15. Give clearly the interpretation of J. R. Graves.


16. On what passage is the second objection to John's place in the kingdom and his baptism based, and how do you meet the objection?


17. Give the illustration of Dr. Broadus, and one other, on John's  relative position to the two covenants.


18. What is the third objection to John's baptism being Christian  baptism, and how do you reply to it?


19. What is the fourth objection and your reply to it?


20. On what passage is the fifth objection based, what the contention  of the objector, and your reply to it?


21. How do some contend that Paul did not rebaptize in water these  twelve men?


22. On the author's contention that Paul did rebaptize in water these  twelve men, what were the grounds of the rebaptism?  





(Return to Contents)



Harmony page 12 and Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:l-18.


The Greek word, basileia, is correctly translated by our word "kingdom." The New Testament usage of this word is extensive. Generally, Matthew employs the phrase, "the kingdom of Heaven." Generally, in the rest of the New Testament, the phrase usually employed is "the kingdom of God." Sometimes, however, we find the word "kingdom," several times "the kingdom of Christ," or "the kingdom of Jesus," or "the kingdom of God and of Christ." This difference in phraseology is wholly immaterial. Matthew's "kingdom of Heaven," Mark's "kingdom of God," Paul's "kingdom of Christ," John's "kingdom of God and of Christ," all mean. exactly the same thing.

In his commentary on the third chapter of Matthew, Dr. Broadus gives three definitions to the general word, "kingdom." First, "kingship or sovereignty," meaning the possession of royal authority. Second, "reign," that is, the exercise of royal authority possessed. Dr. Broadus adds, however, that sometimes the word means the period during which royal authority is exercised. Third, "subjects, organization, or territory." To which definitions he adds some observations which I quote substantially. First, "That the territory idea of the definition is not found in the New Testament concerning Messiah's kingdom and probably not the idea of organization." Second, "That the idea of the New Testament kingdom arises in the prophecies of the Old Testament," particularly citing the second and seventh chapters of Daniel. Third, "That the kingdom and the church are not the same."

Dr. Hengstenberg, my favorite of the distinguished German scholars, in his introduction of his series of volumes on the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament observes substantially, that when we speak of the kingdom of God in nature, "Elohim is king and His government is by general providence, and that this providence in its expression belongs to profane history. But the kingdom of grace in the Old Testament has Jehovah for its king and that government is expressed by special providence and lies within the domain of sacred history."

Without commenting on these ideas of Dr. Hengstenberg, I must express dissent from one observation of Dr. Broadus, to wit: "The territory idea of the definition is not found in the New Testament concerning Messiah's kingdom and probably not the idea of organization." When I come to give the reasons of my dissent from this observation, I trust you will defer as much as you feel inclined to his greater scholarship and greater leadership in New Testament exegesis. And yet I must set forth my own views so that the reader cannot misunderstand me.



The root idea of the kingdom is threefold – creative, typical, and prophetic. Indeed, all Bible ideas of the kingdom root in Genesis 1:26-28. The earth was made for the habitat and heritage of the royal personage, man, who was himself made in the image of God, with complete authority to have perpetual dominion over its sky, land, and sea, and all their inhabitants and boundless resources, and commissioned to bring it all into complete submission, with all its latent and potential powers, populate and replenish it. The first Adam, then, was a royal personage and his kingdom had very definite boundaries. The territory was coextensive with this world. The creative root idea is further expanded in Psalm 8:4-9. This first universal earth kingdom was lost through the fall of the first race head, and Satan, by usurpation, became the de facto prince and ruler of his kingdom.

From creation the root idea passed into type, Solomon, the king of peace (2 Sam. 7:12-13); and is further expanded in Psalm 45, 72. From type it passed to direct prophecy in Daniel. And from the creative, typical and prophetic idea, it will pass, and is passing into history through the last Adam to the historic idea, (Heb. 2:5-9; Rev. 11:15).

In the Old Testament the kingdom of God is set forth in prospect. In the Gospels we have an account of our Lord's institution of his kingdom. After his ascension into heaven we have during the rest of the New Testament the kingdom of God in its progress and administration. A reasonable date for the commencement of this administration is the day of Pentecost. Then in the prophecies of the New Testament we have the prospect of the glorious triumph of the kingdom in its diffusion throughout the earth and finally we have in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, the consummation when our Lord at his coming turns over the kingdom to the Father.

All of that part of the Four Gospels up to the incident that occurred at Caesarea Philippi, found in Matthew 16, is exclusively devoted to the kingdom. The annunciations are concerning the kingdom. The ministry of John the Baptist and of our Lord himself up to that point in the history relate to the kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount and all the parables throughout the gospel refer to kingdom idea and not to church idea. So that the kingdom not only comes first in the history and in the teaching, but a man must be in the kingdom before he is entitled to be a member of the church.

Following Dr. Broadus' observations that the idea of Messiah's New Testament kingdom arises in the prophecies of the Old Testament and is particularly set forth in the book of Daniel, I wish to commence my discussion of the kingdom with the God-given dream of Nebuchadnezzar as set forth in Daniel 2:

"But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and he hath made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dreams, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these: As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets hath made known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but to the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that thou mayest know the thoughts of thy heart.

"Thou, O king, sawest, and, behold, a great image. This image which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the aspect thereof was terrible. As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

"This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory; and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the fields and the birds of the heavens hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee to rule over them all: thou art the head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that crusheth all these, shall it break in pieces and crush. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure" (Dan. 2:36-45).

I have ventured to cite this lengthy quotation because it contains the prophetic root idea of the kingdom of God. It is evident that we have presented in this passage five world kingdoms. The language is just as clear that the fifth kingdom, or the kingdom of God, was to take in the whole world as its territory, as that the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires attained to world empires. The territorial idea is the same throughout. Each of the five is a universal kingdom.

The similarity does not stop with territory. As these four secular kingdoms had a first small beginning and made progress to their final extent, just so the God kingdom commences as a little stone, grows into a mountain and then fills the whole earth. So that the progress idea of the five kingdoms is the same. Again, as each of the four secular kingdoms had organizations, laws, subjects, visibility, so the fifth kingdom would have the same. It is expressly set forth in the passage under consideration, that this dream was to foreshadow things that must come to pass historically.

So when we come to the New Testament, it is evident that every definition given by Dr. Broadus of the word "kingdom" in general finds expression in Messiah's kingdom. There is not only kingship, his first definition; and reign, his second definition; but subjects, territory, and organization, his third definition.

To make this point about the territorial idea still clearer, let us look for a moment at the parable of the tares in Matthew 13. A parable, like a picture, can present only one aspect of a subject, and it requires many parables, like many pictures, to represent all sides of a subject. Now this parable of the tares is intended to represent certain things in regard to the kingdom. Let us see what they are: "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man that soweth good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. And the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares? And he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants say unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he saith, Nay; lest haply whilst ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn. Then he left the multitudes and went into the house, and his disciples came unto him. saying". Explain unto us the parable of the tares of the field. And he answered and said, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; and the field is the world; and the good seeds these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy that sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels. As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

I have given the full text of this parable and of its exposition by our Lord. The statement of the parable is to represent a certain view of the kingdom. In the parable the territory is called the field. In the exposition the field is declared to be the world and is also said to be the kingdom. So that in this connection field, kingdom, and world are coterminous expressions of territory. It is evidently not a parable to represent the church. It takes in all the inhabitants of the earth and it brings us to the windup of earth's affairs. Suppose, therefore, we restate verse 41: "The Son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and -them that do iniquity." Now, let us attempt to substitute for the word "kingdom" here any one of Dr. Broadus' definitions of the general word "kingdom," except territory, and see if we can possibly make sense out of it. We certainly could not substitute his first definition of kingship. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingship, or sovereignty," etc. This would not be true in fact, for even if evil men are cast out of the world into hell, they are not beyond the "kingship or sovereignty" of our Lord. Suppose we attempt to substitute the word "reign" or the exercise of royal authority and it would not be true in fact that the angels could carry evil men out of this world to any place where they would be free from the exercise of Christ's royal authority. It is impossible to make any one of his definitions fit here except the word "territory."

To proceed with the New Testament idea on territory, I quote Revelation 11:15: "The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ and he shall reign for ever and ever." Here I am bound to differ from Dr. Broadus as to the sense of the word "kingdom" in this Revelation scripture. This prophecy points to Christ's complete recovery of this lost world. In interpreting the word "kingdom" in the New Testament we must apply that common sense which would interpret the same word in its classic or later secular use. This passage corresponds exactly with the thought presented in Daniel that the little stone shall fill the whole earth.

I illustrate the ideas of the kingdom presented in this chapter. Our Lord Jesus Christ made this earth and all that is in it. By right it is his. But through the sin of man an enemy obtained possession of it and as a usurper became the king of this world, a de facto king and not a de jure king, and his subjects, willing followers of him, are but the seditious subjects of the true king. Take a passage of French history for the illustration. In the days of Charles VII a large part of the French territory was actually occupied by the English and the king of England claimed to be also the king of France. Only that part of France was obedient to Charles VII which was occupied by his flag and his armies. The Maid of Orleans intervened. And through her leadership the expulsion of the English commenced which ultimately became total and all France acknowledged the sovereignty of Charles. So that we may say that his French subjects consisted of two classes – those who were willing subjects and obedient to him, and those who were seditious subjects and in arms against him and supporting a usurper. This very thought is presented in the parable of the pounds, Luke 19:12-27. Here a nobleman is represented as going into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return. His "servants" in this parable represent his willing or professed subjects. His "citizens" represent his unwilling subjects, saying "we will not that this man reign over us," but we find that when the king comes in judgment that he not only passes upon the fidelity of those who profess to be his, but also says, "But these mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them bring hither and slay them before me." In plain terms the territory of the kingdom of the Messiah is the territory that was lost through Satan's seduction of man and to be recovered through the grace of the Redeemer. Paul, in his letter to the Romans (chap. 8); Peter in his second letter, and John in Revelation, all tell us that the whole of the territory that was cursed on account of sin and made subject to vanity not willingly shall be purified by fire and there shall be a new redeemed earth. When we say that Christians are children of the kingdom, we refer to willing subjects of the Lord. When we say that evil men are children of Satan's kingdom we mean that they are the unwilling subjects of Christ in sedition and sustaining the usurper. But the effect of Christ's work will be that every knee shall bow to him and his sovereignty shall be acknowledged by all the inhabitants that ever occupied the earth.

Going back for a moment to the Daniel passage, just as the king of Babylon was visible and the king of the Medes and Persians and the kings of the Greeks and the Roman kings, so the Messiah, when he came out of the invisibility of prophecy into the fact of history, becomes visible. The object of his teaching was to secure visible subjects who would not be ashamed to profess his name and to confess their faith in him. This visibility is brought out in the ordinances; which he established, of baptism, and the Lord's Supper and particularly baptism, which is a visible form of declaring faith and enlisting in his army. We find also, as these visible subjects come out openly on his side, that he commenced the steps of organization in the ordination of the apostles, in the appointment of the first seventy evangelists. We find him declaring laws that are to be executed after he leaves by a visible executive which he institutes.

Indeed, it is an unfortunate thing that this term "invisible" which we have stolen from pedobaptists and applied to kingdom and church, had not been long ago returned to its rightful possessor.

In prophecy or in prospect it is invisible because it is not yet a fact. And, indeed, I oftentimes feel impressed to apply to the ardent advocates of Christ's invisible kingdom and church a certain quaint passage in the King James Version of I Samuel 10:14: "And Saul said, And when we saw that the asses were no where, we came to Samuel." So it is desirable that our Baptist brethren will perceive that the invisible kingdom is no where and return to the visible.

Just now, above all things, be impressed with this thought, that the first thing one must seek is the kingdom, and that when he finds the king, his allegiance to him is paramount, and that no church has a right to stand between him and his personal loyalty to Jesus. I knew a church that by usurping authority forbade its members to make the mission contributions that they wanted to make. They have no such authority. If I chanced to belong to a church whose majority was opposed to foreign missions or home missions, or state missions, or county missions, or town missions, I could not conceive how it could absolve me from my obligation to obey the command of the Master toward these enterprises.




1. What Greek word is correctly translated, "kingdom"?


2. What are the New Testament phrases showing the use of this  word, and what do they all mean?


3. What three definitions of "kingdom" by Dr. Broadus, and what is  the meaning of each?


4. What three observations of Dr. Broadus on the kingdom of God?


5. What of the observation of Dr. Hengstenberg on the kingdom  of God in the Old Testament cited by the author?


6. The author dissents from what observation of Dr. Broadus?


7. What is the threefold root idea of "The kingdom of God"?


8. Where do we find the creative root idea and in what does it consist?


9. Where do we find an expansion of the creative root idea and  what does that expansion include? (See the passage.) 


10. How was the first universal earth kingdom lost, who is the present  ruler of this kingdom and in what sense is he prince and ruler? 


11. Where do we find the typical idea of the kingdom, where is the  idea expanded, and what is to be the ultimate outcome of this idea? 


12. How, then, is the kingdom of God set forth in the Old Testament? 


13. Where do we find an account of the institution of the kingdom? 


14. Where, its progress and administration? 


15. What is the reasonable date for the commencement of its administration? 


16. Where do we find the prospect of its glorious triumph, and where  its consummation? 


17. What part of the New Testament is devoted exclusively to the kingdom? 


18. What, then, the order of the kingdom idea and the church idea? 


19. Where do we find the prophetic root idea of the kingdom? 


20. What the five world kingdoms presented in this passage and what is the argument from these for the territorial idea of "the kingdom of God"? 


21. What other similarities between secular kingdoms and "the kingdom of God," & how does "the kingdom God" fulfil every definition of Dr. Broadus? 22, How does the "parable of tares" illustrate the territorial idea of kingdom? 


23. Prove the territorial idea of the kingdom by the substitution of  Dr. Broadus' definitions for the word, kingdom. 


24. What wag the territorial idea in Revelations II :15 and what of the  Old Testament correspondent to this idea? 


25. Restate the ideas of the kingdom presented in this chapter and  illustrate by an incident in French history. 


26. What parable presents the same idea, and how? 


27. Give the testimony of three witnesses to the final recovery of this world? 


28. What do we mean by "children of Christ's kingdom" and "children of Satan's kingdom"? 


29. What are arguments from the secular kingdoms of Daniel 2 for the visibility of the king and kingdom, and how is this brought out in New Testament? 


30. Which is first, the kingdom or the church? Illustrate.  





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Harmony pages 12-14 and Matthew 3:l-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18.

In a preceding chapter we have considered somewhat the biblical material for a life of John the Baptist, and certain questions touching his position in the kingdom of our Lord. The analysis of that material will constitute the outline of all our discussion of John. We now take up the beginnings of his ministry.

The time, in our era, was A.D. 29, since John had been preaching several months before he baptized Jesus, and Luke tells us that "Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23).

The true time would be four years earlier, A.D. 25, if we are correct in our revision of the Abbott Dyonisius Exiguus. It is characteristic of Luke to collate his date with the world movements. It was the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar who, as adopted son, succeeded Augustus, somewhat after the time that Jesus, twelve years old, became conscious of his messiahship. Since the deposition of Archelaus, Judea, ldumea, and Samaria had become an imperial province, ruled by procurators appointed by Caesar, and subordinated to Syria ruled by proconsul. About a year before Christ was baptized Tiberius had appointed Pontius Pilate the sixth procurator, and he remained in office until after Christ's death. Pontius Pilate obtained this office because he had married the vicious granddaughter of Augustus; her profligate mother, daughter of Augustus, was one of the most infamous profligates of a profligate age. Strange it is that the New Testament is the only history that speaks a good word of either Pilate or his wife. In its fidelity as history, it neither omits the blemishes of its saints, nor withholds, when due, praise to the most wicked.

The military headquarters of the procurator was Caesarea, built by Herod the Great. But the turbulence of Jerusalem often required his presence in that city, particularly at the three great feasts. Pilate had already steeped Jerusalem in blood and had been forced by pressure of the Jews to withdraw the idolatrous Roman eagles from the holy city. (See Josephus, Antiquities, Book XVIII, Chapter 5, Section 1.) It was probably on this occasion that Pilate "mingled the blood of Galilean Jews with their sacrifices" in the Temple, to which our Lord later referred, at Luke 13:1-2. This Pilate, already at bitter feud with the Jews, was Roman ruler of Judea, Samaria, and ldumea, when John commenced his ministry.

At the same time Herod Antipas, who later beheaded John, and mocked our Lord at his trial, was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. At the same time Herod Philip II was tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitus, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene. At Jerusalem the infamous Annas, and his son-in-law~ Joseph Caiaphas, were both high priests, contrary to Jewish law, but by Roman appointment. We shall see our Lord, some three and a half years later, brought before them both. These references of Luke enable us to understand the world political and ecclesiastic conditions under which the ministries of John and our Lord commenced.

The place is at the fords of the Jordan near Jericho. Later we see John at other places, higher up the Jordan, but never in the cities – always in the desert places. This fact alone demonstrates that John is not officiating as a priest of the Old Testament in either synagogue or temple, but as a reformer prophet of the new dispensation.

John's dress, diet. and habits. "Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his food was locusts and wild honey." The angel who announced his coming declared, "He shall drink no wine nor strong drink" (Luke 1:15). He fasted often, and taught his disciples to fast (Matt. 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:35). Our Lord himself said of him, "He came neither eating nor drinking," and adds, "but what went ye out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they who are gorgeously appareled and live delicately are in kings' courts (Luke 7:25).

You must understand that "the locusts" eaten by John were not fruits of the tree, "honey-locust," but migrating grasshoppers, a common enough food with many eastern people, and permitted as food by Jewish law (Lev. 11:21-22).

His enduement for service. "He was full of the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15), and like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) and Paul (Gal. 1:15) and his Lord (Isa. 49:5), he was "set apart" to his office from his mother's womb. Indeed, he was the only child known to historic records who, before he was born, "leaped with joy" spiritual (Luke 1:44).

His preparation. Our only record is: "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel."

He was no product of the schools, either secular or rabbinical. He derived his knowledge from neither synagogue nor Temple, but was wholly taught by God. We have no information of the character of his necessarily profound meditations in his thirty years of desert life. The preparation was long, silent, and solitary. But he shook the world in his few months of public ministry.

After what order was he a prophet? The record is clear. The order was as unique as the order of his Lord's priesthood. Malachi says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come." This prophecy made a profound impression on the Jewish mind, as is evident from several New Testament incidents. It was a Jewish custom to place a chair for Elijah at the family feast following the circumcision of a child. If the chair was so placed when John was circumcised, they ought to have placed the baby in it, for behold, Elijah had come. Our Lord says expressly that John was the promised Elijah (Matt. 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). John himself disclaims being Elijah, that is, in a literal sense (John 1:21), but the announcing angel explains "He shall go before his face, in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17). Indeed, Elijah himself appears on the scene at the transfiguration of our Lord (Matt. 17:3). Elijah was by far the most dramatic of the Old Testament prophets, in his garb, in his desert life, in the abrupt entrances on the stage of life and sudden exits, in the long silences, in the great issues of reformation suddenly thrust for instant decision on the king and people. The resemblance between Elijah and John is every way striking. If Elijah had his weak Ahab and relentless Jezebel, John had his weak Herod Antipas and vindicative Herodias. If, through terror of Jezebel, Elijah flees and despairs, so John, in a dungeon, apprehensive of the "convenient day" of Herodias, falls into doubt.



His commission as Elijah. Malachi says, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:6). To this the announcing angel refers, at Luke 1:17. The question arises, what is the exact meaning of the passage? Does it imply an alienation between parents and children, which John's mission is to remove by restoring proper parental love and care toward their children and proper filial regard and reverence for parents, according to the reciprocal obligations of the Fifth Commandment, and on the line of Paul's precepts – "fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and "children, obey your parents in the Lord"? If so, it was a mighty mission, for the earth is already cursed when these reciprocal obligations are disregarded, to the moral destruction of the family. If so, the passage becomes a golden text in all Sunday school movements. In my early ministry I so used it as a text before the Sunday School Convention of Texas assembled at old Independence. In my sermon I stressed the growing evil of race suicide, the fashionable mothers depriving their children of maternal love and care in order to attend the calls of a worldly, frivolous society, and the modern absorption of fathers in business which led them to disregard the spiritual welfare of their children.

But if this be the meaning, we fail to find this important matter the theme of special discussion either by Elijah or John. But, perhaps, the marginal reading of the revision conveys the true idea, "Turning the hearts of the fathers, with the hearts of the children" toward God, and not toward each other, and "turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just." This last accords with the preaching of both Elijah and John, and lifts their commission from the fifth to the first commandment.

His commission as the messenger of the Temple visitor: "Behold) I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts. But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like the refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness." When men who remembered the glory of Solomon's Temple lamented the comparative insignificance of Zerrubbabel's Temple, the prophet Haggai assured them that the glory of the latter house should exceed the glory of the former house, because to it "The Desire of all nations should come." Now, John is the messenger who prepares the way for the Messiah to come suddenly to his Temple. That John did prepare the way for the Messiah's searching and purifying visit to his Temple is evident from John 2:13-17.

His commission as the voice and the grader of the highway to God, Isaiah 40:1-11. This passage of Isaiah is the most important of the Old Testament forecasts of John, and perhaps it is the least understood in its richness. On it observe:

(1) It is the beginning of the Old Testament Book of Comfort. Commencing with the fortieth chapter, the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah, treating of the Messiah's advent and mission constitute the Old Testament Book of Comfort, as John 14-17, treating of the Holy Spirit's advent and mission, constitute the New Testament Book of Comfort.

Isaiah's paragraph commences: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." The voice of John the Baptist is the response to this command to comfort.

(2) Therefore he is a preacher of the gospel, which means "good tidings" – "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up on a high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God!" (Isa. 40:9). Hence, as soon as John's voice broke the prophetic silence of 400 years, Mark, in his first sentence drives down the corner post that establishes the starting point of the New Dispensation: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." And when our Lord comes up to Mark's corner post, he puts up this discriminating signboard: "The law and the prophets were until John, and since that time the kingdom of heaven is preached and all men press into it."

What a pity that our pedobaptist brethren cannot lay aside their Old Testament colored glasses, and our Campbellite brethren lay aside their Pentecostal delusion concerning the kingdom, which mistakes the Spirit's advent for the Messiah's advent, and both of them with unveiled faces behold Mark's corner post and our Lord's signboard I

(3) Observe John's grading of the King's highway of Holiness (Isa. 40:3-5). In this connection observe also the relevance of the Septuagint rendering of Isaiah 35:1, "The waste places of the Jordan shall be glad," or as a great scholar puts it: "The banks of the Jordan shall rejoice because of them," i.e., because of John and Jesus.

The same great chapter of Isaiah also says of John's highway: "And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; and the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for the redeemed; the wayfaring men, yea fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon; they shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

His commission as friend of the bridegroom. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom that standeth and heareth him rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is made full." The New Testament represents our Lord as the bridegroom of the church in the divine purpose (Eph. 5:25-26) and at his first advent (Matt. 9:15; John 3:29) and at his final advent (Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:6-9).

In our context, "the friend of the bridegroom" is not what we call the "best man," or first male attendant, who attends to the business matters and arranges the details of a marriage. It has a much higher meaning, to wit: the evangelist who, through his preaching, espouses the lost sinner to his Saviour. As Paul expresses it: 'For I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).

"The friend of the bridegroom" is even more than the officiating clergyman, who merely performs a marriage rite, without having had anything to do with bringing the groom and bride into loving relations. His business is to "make ready the people prepared for the Lord." Through his preaching the sinner is convicted of sin, and then through contrition led to repentance, and then through faith, is mystically united to Christ.

The idea is somewhat presented in the mission of Abraham's servant (Gen. 24), who went to Haran to seek a wife for Isaac. He faithfully negotiated the business of his mission, and brought Rebekah to Isaac.

In this touching story, in which the old servant set forth in a matchless plea the worthiness of his master, Abraham, and the desirableness of his son, Isaac, so winning Rebekah to leave her father's house and to accept Isaac as a husband, Edward Eggleston, in the Circuit Rider, makes his preacher take a theme: "I have come to seek a bride for my Lord," and so happily expounds it that a brilliant but worldly young lady arose at once, laid aside all her jewels, and openly professed faith in the glorious Saviour so faithfully presented by the preacher. What, then, every evangelist does in individual cases, John the Baptist did on a large scale, introducing and uniting a lost world to a gracious Saviour. To the sinner he said, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" How gloriously he presented the excellencies of the Saviour appears from the record, and suggests to every preacher a great lesson on how to present acceptably and savingly the Saviour to the sinner. We must not, therefore, understand John's mission as stern and sad, but full of joy.

His commission to give the knowledge of salvation in the remission of sins (Luke 1:77). On many accounts we should stress this point, because a modern denomination insists that God's "law of pardon" was not announced until the first Pentecost after Christ's resurrection.

It was not Peter, in Acts 2:38, who first promulgated this law of pardon. The honor belongs to John the Baptist. In my early ministry I held a debate with a preacher who affirmed that the kingdom of heaven was not set up until this day of Pentecost, and then in Acts 2:38 was the law of pardon first promulgated. I asked him these questions:

(1) What did Christ give to Peter? He said, "The keys of the kingdom."

(2) Did Peter have those keys on that Pentecost? He answered, "Yes."

(3) Did God then and there build a kingdom to fit the keys, or were the keys made to fit the kingdom?

(4) Did Peter, using the keys, open the door of the kingdom that day? He said, "Yes."

(5) Did he open it from the inside or from the outside? If from the inside, was not Peter in it? If from the outside, when and how did Peter himself get in?

(6) And if from the outside, when the 3,000 were added to them, did that leave them on the outside?

(7) Did Peter open the Jew door that day, and what door did he open in Acts to 10:43? And if Acts 10:43 was the Gentile door, why did he [that preacher] not look there for the law of pardon to Gentiles, and why did he, a Gentile, deify the Jew door, Acts 2:38?

(8) And what about the door that John the Baptist opened in Luke 1:77?

His commission to announce the antecedent withering work of the Spirit. "The voice of one saying, Cry, And one said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodness thereof is the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of God shall stand forever."

On this text Spurgeon preached a great sermon. He said, "The command to John was to speak comfortably to Jerusalem" (Isa. 40:1-2). And John asked, in order to speak comfortably, "What shall I cry?" And the strange answer comes: "Cry that all flesh is grass, and the grass withereth and the flower fadeth." That is, before you get to the comfort, the carnal nature must wither, then comes the spiritual nature, which abideth forever.

Therefore John said to fleshly Israel: "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore) fruit worthy of repentance and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And even now the ax lieth at the root of the trees: every tree, therefore, that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:7-10). This is John's sermon on the necessity of regeneration.

This last commission of John leads up to a thorough discussion of the great staple of his preaching, "Repentance toward God on account of sin."




1. What is the time ill our era when John commenced preaching?


2. Show how Luke, in a characteristic way, collates this date with  the political and ecclesiastical conditions of the world.


3. What was the place of John's first preaching?


4. Describe his dress, diet and habits.


5. What of his enduement for service?


6. What of his preparation for service? Answer negatively and positively.


7. After what order was he a prophet, and what is the parallel between John and Elijah?


8. What was John's commission as Elijah?


9. Which of the two meanings of this commission seems best to fit  the work of John and Elijah?


10. What of his commission aa the messenger of the great Temple  visitor? II. What was his commission as the voice and grader of the highway  of God?


12. What the Old Testament book of comfort, and the New Testament book of comfort?


13. Describe how Mark and our Lord marked the beginning of the  new dispensation.


14. What of the Septuagint rendering of Isaiah 35:1, and its application to John's ministry?


15. What of the description of the highway in that chapter, graded  by John?


16. In his commission as "friend of the bridegroom," does it mean  that he was only what we call "the best man," or does it mean the  same as the officiating preacher, or does it mean something higher  than both? If so, what, and explain.


17. Illustrate by the remarkable history in Genesis 24.


18. Describe the Methodist preacher's sermon on that chapter.


19. What of John's commission with reference to remission of sins,  and why should we stress this point?


20. Give the several questions propounded in a debate, where the  affirmation was made that the kingdom of heaven was set up on the  day of Pentecost, and the law of pardon then and there promulgated.


21. What of his commission to announce the antecedent withering  work of the Holy Spirit?


22. Describe Spurgeon's sermon on this text.  





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In the preaching of John the Baptist we come to the words "repent" and "repentance," and here, as well as elsewhere, we may at length consider the whole Bible doctrine of repentance. We will find that great prominence is given in the Bible to the duty of repentance. It is a staple of preaching and teaching in both Testaments. Among the noted Old Testament preachers of repentance may be named Enoch, Noah, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, and Malachi. The more noted of the New Testament preachers of this doctrine are John the Baptist, our Lord himself, Peter, Paul, and John, the apostle. The universality of the obligation to repent was announced by Paul at Athens in these words: "God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Of the necessity of repentance, our Lord himself declares, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

It may be observed that all of God's commandments are not of equal importance. Our Lord himself mentions one as the "first great commandment." A mistake in obedience to some of these commandments is not necessarily fatal. For example, a penitent believer may make a mistake about baptism. He may honestly intend to be baptized, and yet, through a false education, he may not have obeyed the commandment of God as to the act and design and administrator of this ordinance. This mistake is not fatal, because God has not made baptism essential to salvation, but salvation essential to baptism. But we cannot make a mistake as to repentance with like impunity.

No matter how much one may desire to repent, nor how often he may resolve to repent, unless he actually repents he is lost, because God has made repentance a prerequisite to eternal life.

Another fact suggests its great importance. Paul declares it to be one of the first principles of the oracles of God (Heb. 5:12; 6:1). The first principles in any science are valuable because they are fundamental, that is, knowledge of them is essential to further progress in that science. So Paul argues in the scriptures cited. He complains that he must go back and teach them again the first principles before they are ready to go on unto perfection. Fundamental means "pertaining to a foundation," and in one of the scriptures cited Paul says, "Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works." This not only implies the fundamental character of repentance, but its permanence. Indeed, this foundation can never be laid but once. Following his hypothetical argument the apostle shows that if a regenerated man should fall away it would be impossible to renew him again to repentance, so that this work once done is done once for all. The reader will understand me in this to refer to that primary repentance which precedes and induces the faith which saves the soul. A Christian may often repent.

One cannot build a big house on a little foundation. The relation of a foundation, therefore, to its superstructure is quite important. The size, weight, and durability of the latter depend on the depth, breadth, and solidity of the former. Hence it is never wise to economize in foundations. Our Lord illustrates the value of the foundation at the close of his Sermon on the Mount, both positively and negatively, in the following language; "Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these saying of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:24-27). The same value appears in David's inquiry: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3). Those vain imaginations which have no foundation in fact are called air castles. From their insubstantial nature may be inferred the little value of a profession of personal religion not bottomed on repentance.

Repentance appears further as a first principle in that it is the required preparation for the reception of Christ. The work of John the Baptist is the most illustrious example of repentance as a preparatory work. John is called the harbinger, or forerunner, of our Lord, and was commissioned to "prepare the way before him and make ready a people prepared for him" (Matt. 3:3). This he did by "preaching repentance" (Matt. 3:2). The nature of his work as a preparation was foretold by both Isaiah (40:3-8) and Malachi (3:1). The following words of Isaiah in a striking figure foreshow a part of the characteristics of repentance: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain" (Isa. 40:4). Elsewhere he uses the following words: "Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people" (Isa. 57:14); "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people" (Isa. 62:10). All the import of these figures can be expressed in the one word "grading," so that the work of John the Baptist was compared to the grading of a highway over which Christ was to come to his people. The value of such work in the material things indicated by the figure is sufficiently attested by those movements of ancient skills, the Roman and Peruvian roads, and the modern railroads. Jeremiah presents the same thought negatively by combating the evil results of impenitence to walking in a way not "cast up" (Jer. 18:15). We may describe, therefore, the folly of trying to be a Christian without repentance, by this similitude: An engineer trying to run a train of cars through the woods, over the mountains, across rivers and ravines, where there are no prepared tracks. But the richness of prophetic description was not limited to one figure. We find Isaiah turning in the same connection from the figure of grading to one of agriculture, expressing thereby the same preparatory nature of John's work. The image employed is that of burning the grass off a field (Isa. 40:6-8). John's preaching subsequently fulfilled this figure, of withering the grass of the flesh, in the most striking manner, by destroying all hope of fitness for the kingdom of God based on fleshly descent from Abraham (Matt. 3:9). Both Hosea and Jeremiah employ the agricultural figure, showing the preparatory nature of repentance. The words of Jeremiah are: "For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns." According to this figure we may express the folly of trying to be a Christian without repentance, under the similitude of a farmer expecting to reap a harvest from seed sown in a field whose stubble and thorns had not first been burned off and whose sod had not been broken. Our Saviour aptly describes the outcome of the folly of omitting this preparatory work in the parable of the sower, where he compares such people to stony, thorn-poisoned, pathtrodden ground which brought forth no fruit.

Mark emphasizes the preparatory work of repentance by calling John's preaching of it "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1), and Luke by the declaration, "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it" (Luke 16:16). This is varied somewhat in Matthew's statement: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12).

The foregoing figures and images touching the nature of repentance enable us to express its relation to eternal life in the statement that it is an essential prerequisite to salvation to all subjects of gospel address.

Philosophically considered, repentance must precede faith. As a sick man must be convinced that he is sick before he will turn to a physician, or take his medicine, so the carnal mind must be withered before the renewed mind can be superinduced. This precedence is proved also from the Scriptures. John the Baptist put repentance before faith (Acts 19:4) ; so did our Lord (Mark 1:15); and Peter (Acts 2:38-41); and Paul (Acts 20:21; Heb. 6:1, 2; 2 Tim. 2:25). Indeed, there is no passage in the New Testament, naming both faith and repentance, in which faith comes first.

From the discussion so far we may sum up the nature, necessity and importance of repentance in the following brief statement: It is a staple of preaching in both Testaments. It is of universal obligation. It is a first principle of the gospel. It is fundamental and vital, being prerequisite to salvation. It is to personal religion what the clearing and breaking up of new ground is to a harvest, what the foundation is to a house, what the grading is to a highway, what the initial point is to a survey. It is the boundary between the covenants. It is the killing which precedes the making alive. It is that conviction of sickness which turns the sick man to the physician.

We may then say of the preacher who dares to leave out repentance in his preaching, that he leaves out one-half the terms of salvation and vitiates the other half; that he builds only air castles; that he vainly attempts to run the gospel relief train where there is no prepared track; that he commends the doctor to well people; that he baptizes raw sinners and whitewashes the carnal nature; that he sows among thorns and in stubble land, in stony ground and on underlying rocks. We may also say of the preacher who minifies this doctrine that he thereby minifies the necessity for Christ; hence dwarfs the Redeemer himself. It is little sick – little physician; little sinner – little Saviour. It must be evident, therefore, that it is the duty of every preacher of the gospel to preach repentance just as often, and with as much emphasis, and to as many people, as he preaches faith. As illustrative of the value of such preaching it may be justly said of all the great preachers, like Spurgeon, Bunyon Whitefield, Moody, Jonathan Edwards, and, indeed, all who have been successful in winning souls to Christ, that they all laid great and frequent stress on the duty of repentance. From all these things it certainly ought to fol- low that preachers at least should have clear conceptions of the meaning, place and relations of repentance. Usually, however, they have not these clear conceptions. Many cannot define the term. If a thousand were asked to write out in succession a definition in the fewest possible words, but few of them would give the right definition, and there would be great vagueness, variety and contradiction in the others. It is proper to state a few examples of variant definitions given by prominent people:

Sam Jones: "Quit your meanness."

D. L. Moody: "Right about face."

Alexander Campbell: "Reformation."

The Romanist Bible (rendering Matt. 3:2) : "Do penance."

A. W. Chambliss: "Godly sorrow for sin."

Our common version, in Matthew 27:3, makes it equivalent to "Remorse of conscience."

Many speakers and writers: "Restitution."

M. T. Martin: "Knowing God and turning from dead works."

Such variations in definitions (and many others might be added) sufficiently indicate the necessity of a closer study of this doctrine in the New Testament than is ordinarily given to it. Here it is important to observe that the New Testament was written in Greek. Happily for us, we find in one brief paragraph in 2 Corinthians 7 a number of terms covering the whole ground.

The verb, lupeo, to grieve, to make sorry.

The noun, lupe, grief, sorrow.

Lupe tou kosmou, a phrase signifying "worldly sorrow."

Lupe kata theon, another phrase meaning "godly sorrow."

The verb, metamelomai, to regret.

The noun, metanoia, repentance.

The adjective, ametameletos, not regrettable.

In this context, and elsewhere, our common version renders metamelomai, "repent." As the instances of its use in the New Testament are few, I now cite every one:

Matthew 21:29: "Afterward he repented and went."

Matthew 21:32: "Ye repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."

Matthew 27:3-5: "Judas repented himself . . . and went and hanged himself."

2 Corinthians 2:8: "I do not repent, though I did repent."

Hebrews 7:21: "The Lord swear and will not repent."

A better rendering, perhaps, in every case of this usage would be obtained by substituting the word "regret." "Repent" is an inappropriate rendering for this verb, because, first, metamelomai does not express the full idea of New Testament repentance. For example, Judas repented and went and hanged himself, but "repentance is unto life," and it is worldly sorrow that worketh death. Second, because there is another term always employed in expressing New Testament repentance. That other term is the noun, metanoia, from the verb, metanoeo. I cite for the benefit of the reader every New Testament use of the verb, and ask him to look at each reference and note its application to our doctrine. Matthew uses the term five times, as follows: 3:2;4:17; 11:20-21; 12:41. Mark twice: 1:15; 6:12. Luke ten times in his Gospel: 10:13; 11:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7, 10; 16:30; 17:3-4, 30. In Acts five times more: 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20. Paul once: 2 Corinthians 12:21. John eleven times: Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19; 9: 20-21; 16:9, II. Thirty-four times in all. Matthew uses the noun three times: 3:8, II; 9:13. Mark twice: 1:14; 2:17. Luke five times in his Gospel: 3:3, 8; 5:32; 15:7; 24:47. Six times in Acts: 5:31; 11:18; 13:24; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20. Paul seven times: Romans 11:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; 2 Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 6:1, 6; 12:17. Peter once: 2 Peter 3:9. In all, twenty-four. We thus observe that this term, as a noun or verb, is employed fifty-eight times in the New Testament, occurring in books by Matthew eight times; Mark four times; Luke twenty-six times; John eleven times; Peter one time; Paul eight times; and in every instance refers unmistakably to the New Testament doctrine of repentance, and to nothing else.

It should be noted also carefully that repentance is declared to be the product of godly sorrow, lupe kata theon; and that it always ends in salvation, eternal life (Acts 11:18; 2 Cor. 7: 7-10). Hence it follows that repentance is always ametameletos, "not regrettable." This adjective is compounded from the verb melein and the preposition, meta, and the privative parti- cle a.

We advance in our knowledge of metanoeo, to repent, and metanoia, repentance, by considering that there is a Greek noun, nous, the mind. There is also a Greek verb which tells what the mind does – noeo, to think, perceive, understand. Then there is the preposition, meta, which, in composition with noeo, expresses the idea of change, transition, sequence. Therefore, we may say that metanoeo always means "to think back, to change the mind," while the noun, metanoia, always means afterthought, as oonosed to forethought, chanere of mind We may, therefore, give as the one invariable definition of New Testament repentance that it is a change of mind, from which it is evident that its domain is limited. It is necessarily internal, not external.

The necessity for its universal application as a prerequisite to Christian character and life lies in the fact that the carnal mind, which is the normal mind of fallen man, is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. To be carnally-minded is death, since they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Hence, from enmity against God, repentance is a change of mind toward God. It is a reversal of, or turning upside down, the carnal mind. Perhaps one may say this makes repentance the equivalent of regeneration. My reply is that our exercise of both repentance and faith is but the underside, whose upper or divine side is called regeneration. This fact explains how repentance is a grace. Hence the saying, "Jesus Christ was exalted a Prince and Saviour to give repentance to Israel," and "God hath granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life."

We are now prepared to show seriatim the folly of the false definitions cited. First, worldly sorrow, or remorse of conscience, cannot be repentance because of its origin and end. It is from the world and worketh death. For example, Judas; for illustration, Byron's "Scorpion Girt with Fire:"
So do the dark in soul expire, Or live like scorpion girt with fire; So writhes the mind remorse hath given; Unfit for earth, undoomed for heaven, Darkness above, despair beneath, Around it flame, within it death.

Second, godly sorrow is not repentance, for it worketh repentance, and we may not confound the producer and the product. For example, the Bible says, "Tribulation worketh patience," and one would not say, "Tribulation is patience." So neither should we say, "Godly sorrow is repentance."

Third, Sam Jones' definition, "Quit your meanness," is not to repent, for that is only one half and a negative half at that of Campbell's definition, "Reform." Isaiah gives both halves thus: "Ceasing to do evil and learning to do well." But neither the one nor the other is a definition of repentance, since reformation is the "fruit meet for repentance," so well stated in the following scriptures: "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:8). ''Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father, for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the tree; every tree, therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. And the people asked him saying, What shall we do then? He answered and said unto them, he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, and what shall we do? And he said unto them, do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:8-14). "So the people of Nineveh believed God and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water; but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way and from the violence that is in their hands" (Jonah 3:5-8). "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what clearing of yourselves; yea, what indignation; yea, what fear; yea, what vehement desire; yea, what zeal; yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (2 Cor. 7:11). "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow" (Isa. 1:16-17). "Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver" (Acts 19:19).

Fourth, acknowledging a fault or saying we are sorry is not repentance, though repentance leads naturally to confession of sin, as appears from the fact that John's penitents were baptized "confessing their sins," and from what is said of the Ephesian penitents (Acts 19:18): "And many that believed came and confessed and showed their deeds."

Fifth, Mr. Moody's definition, "Right about face," is not repentance, for that is conversion in literal import. In the divine influence originating it, conversion precedes repentance as thus expressed by Jeremiah 31:19: "After that I was turned I repented." But in our exercise it follows repentance, as expressed by Peter, "Repent and be converted" (Acts 3:19). Sixth, "Do penance." The Romanist translation of Matthew 3:2 conveys an idea antipodal to repentance. Repentance is internal. Doing penance is external. Repentance deals directly with God; penance obeys an earthly priest. Penance inflicts punishment on the flesh. Repentance turns the spirit lovingly to God.

Seventh, restitution is not repentance, but only one of its ripest fruits. Zaccheus well illustrates this in his words to Christ: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" (Luke 19:8).

Eighth, M. T. Martin's definition, "Knowing God and turning from dead works," is not a definition of repentance, and without a clear explanation is misleading as an equivalent. The idea of this so-called definition is derived from two scriptures, to wit: "Repentance from dead works," (Heb. 6:1) and "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). In this latter scripture the definer assumes that "knowing God" is repentance, and "knowing Jesus Christ" is faith. The assumption is more plausible than correct. In effect it changes the scriptural order of repentance and faith, for we cannot know the Father except through the Son, which under the definition would make us get to repentance only through faith. Moreover, if knowing the Father and the Son as a means to eternal life must have an equivalent, it would be more exact to make faith the equivalent of both. But, arguing logically, the true equivalent of the "knowing" in this case is eternal life, and as the life is a result, so must knowing, its equivalent, be a result; and as the life results from faith, so must the knowing, its equivalent, so result. The liability to abuse arising from making the phrase "knowing God" a definition of repentance, and the phrase, "knowing Jesus Christ" a definition of faith, lies in the common misconception of the import of the word "know" in variant Bible usage. It is often employed to express the idea of approbation rather than information. There is no eternal life in the knowledge that stops at mere information. The demon said to Jesus, "I know thee, who thou art, thou Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). And James also says, "The demons also believe and tremble." It is therefore not so much information which men need as a renewed mind. The fact is both notable and significant, that those who most insist on knowing God as a definition of repentance are those who most minify its importance, preach it seldom and virtually make it equivalent to a mere intellectual perception logically resulting from a clear statement of a truth.

Ninth, benevolence is not repentance, though surely an accompaniment or fruit of it. A man once said in my hearing, "I can do more repentance with a barrel of flour and a side of bacon than was ever found at a mourner's bench." If this statement could be construed to mean that true repentance evidences itself more in deeds of charity to the needy than in mere bemoanings of one's self, whether at or aside from a bench, it might claim some merit, but it is not fairly susceptible of such construction; hence is faulty at both ends. The sneer at the mourner and the affirmation that one repents by deeds of charity are alike unscriptural. Yea, they both embody deadly heresies. From the first as a root, two baleful branches shoot out, to wit: One, that we may cultivate the carnal mind into a Christian mind by a process of giving; the other, that we may atone for sin by subsequent benefactions. Both are antipodal to repentance, in that it signifies a supernatural renewal of the mind and leads to faith, which lays hold on substitutionary atonement.

It may be said that there is in the most of these false definitions either such an element of truth, or such nearness to truth, that the heresy is dangerous, because plausible. It is important to account for this looseness in definition. The average mind is not given to analysis, and hence, Judging from phenomena alone, illogically blends or interchanges cause and effect, attributes manifestations to wrong causes, or confounds things externally similar but internally dissimilar. This may be illustrated by any one of the false definitions cited. For example, the external symptoms of remorse, or worldly sorrow, and godly sorrow, may easily be confounded by a superficial judge. Even Dr. Adam dark evinces great lack of discrimination by finding hope of salvation in the case of Judas, because under the promptings of remorse he threw down the blood money, saying, "I have betrayed the innocent blood." So through the ages, over-sanguine and sympathetic temperaments have been accustomed to deduce most unwarranted inferences from the remorse of the ungodly manifestations in a dying hour, and particularly in the case of criminals about to be executed. Herein consists one of the excellencies of the divine judgment. It is not according to appearances.

Again, because godly sorrow, the mediate agent of repentance, and confession, conversion, reformation and restitution, its unfailing results, all have external visibility; while repentance, itself being internal, is inscrutable, it is quite easy for one who judges by the sight of his eyes, to miscall any one of them repentance. We may get somewhat nearer to the heart of this matter by noting the fact that, if from a given sentence you erase a word and substitute an alleged definition therefor, the definition, if accurate, will not only invariably make good sense, but will also certainly convey the true sense, while a false definition so substituted will not likely make good sense, and will certainly change the original meaning. For illustration, suppose we write on a blackboard this sentence: "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance," then erasing the word "repentance," substitute therefore successively the ten false and the one true definitions heretofore given, and see which one not only makes the best sense) but conveys the original sense. In trying this experiment it must be remembered that in this sentence "without repentance" refers to God, and not to the one who receives, or who is called.

The gifts and calling of God are without worldly sorrow, that is, on his part.

The gifts and calling of God are without godly sorrow, that is, on his part.

The gifts and calling of God are without quitting his meanness.

The gifts and calling of God are without reformation, that is, on his part.

The gifts and calling of God are without conversion, on his part.

The gifts and calling of God are without his doing penance.

The gifts and calling of God are without restitution, that is, on his part.

The gifts and calling of God are without his knowing God and turning from dead works.

The gifts and calling of God are without benefactions.

Here let us substitute the true definition, "The gifts and calling of God are without a change of mind," which means what? That God never takes back what he gives; that he never reconsiders when he calls. That if he gives one eternal life all the devils in hell can never pluck it away; that if he calls one unto eternal life, that calling will insure every other step in the process of salvation. The same thought is expressed in that other scripture, which says of God, "He is without variableness or shadow of turning," or that other scripture which declares him to be "the same yesterday, today and forever." It follows that this scripture teaches the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints, based upon the unchangeableness of the divine purpose.




1. What prominence is given in the Bible to the duty of repentance?


2. Mention some noted Old Testament preachers of the doctrine;  some New Testament preachers.


3. What says Paul about the universality of the obligation?


4. What says our Lord of its necessity?


5. Are all God's commandments of equal importance?


6. Is a mistake about baptism fatal? Why not?


7. A mistake as to repentance? Why?