Darby and the Wesleyans’ Free Will

From a letter written in 1861 published in the collected Writings volume 10. Doctrinal 3.  Page 185.

The Wesleyan Doctrine

J N Darby (1800-82)

J N Darby maintained that the Wesleyan doctrine of free will was a consequence of a failure to appreciate the fact that man is entirely lost. He went as far as saying that those who believed in free will could not have a full conviction of sin. Such an idea is a perversion of Christianity

Free will belongs to the natural man. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God’ (Rom 8:7-8).

Man’s heart is so corrupted and his will so obstinate that nothing can induce him to submit to God, to receive the Lord and  abandon sin.  A godly Wesleyian feels that he must please God in his own power: he does not recognise the total fall of man, something incompatible with pure grace.

So, the question is: is the old man changed, instructed, and sanctified? or do we receive a new nature in order to be saved?


The truth is that God has shown that man is wicked, without remedy, and the cross of Christ condemns man — sin in the flesh.  Through redemption accomplished by Christ, we have a new life, eternal life, come down from heavenin His Person.  Redemption, the accomplished work of Another, loses its force when one entertains ideas of improving the old man.  Arminianism[1], or rather Pelagianism, pretends that man can choose a practical deliverance from a moral state, rather than redemption.

Philosophically and morally speaking, freewill is a false and absurd theory.  Free will is a state of sin. Acting in free will follows sin.  What cruelty it would be to propose a duty to man who has already turned to evil!

[1]The following are the main points of Arminianism according to Wikipedia:

  1. Salvation (and condemnation on the day of judgment) was conditioned by the graciously enabled faith (or unbelief) of man.
  2. Atonement is qualitatively adequate for all men, “yet that no one actually enjoys [experiences] this forgiveness of sins, except the believer …” and thus is limited to only those who trust in Christ;
  3. “That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will”, and unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God’s will;
  4. The (Christian) Grace “of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of any good”, yet man may resist the Holy Spirit; and
  5. Believers are able to resist sin through Grace, and Christ will keep them from falling; but whether they are beyond the possibility of ultimately forsaking God or “becoming devoid of grace … must be more particularly determined from the Scriptures.”

Pelagianism is a heterodox Christian theological position that holds that the original sin did not taint human nature and that humans have the free will to achieve human perfection without divine grace. Pelagius (c.  355 – c.  420 AD), a British ascetic and philosopher, taught that God could not command believers to do the impossible, and therefore it must be possible to satisfy all divine commandments. He also taught that it was unjust to punish one person for the sins of another; therefore, infants are born blameless. Pelagius accepted no excuse for sinful behaviour and taught that all Christians, regardless of their station in life, should live unimpeachable, sinless lives

Who can I Break Bread with?

Principles of Gathering

J N Darby (1800-82)

Entitled ‘Principles of Gathering,  this is the substance of a letter by JND as to the question of who should read and her should not.  It is published in Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) page 349. 

The Reception of Saints to Partake in the Table of our Lord

JN Darby raised the question is as to the reception of saints to partake in the table of our Lord with us: whether any can be admitted who are not formally and regularly amongst us[1].

Clearly, a person who is not sound in faith or ungodly in practice should be excluded. However, should a godly and sound person, not associated with a system with an ordained ministry be shut out?  Should he be excluded simply because his conscience has not been enlightened as to such wrong practices?  Simply put, sects meet on their principles, Baptist, Congregational etc.  If a believer belongs formally to such, you do not admit such.

No Membership of ‘Brethren’

There is no membership of ‘Brethren’. Membership of an assembly is unknown in Scripture.  Every case must be treated on its own merits – on the principle of being members of Christ’s body – the unity of all members.  If you say, ‘You do not belong to us, you cannot come’, the whole principle of meeting is gone.  Such a path is not of God.

Darby said that he had heard persons talking about communion services as being the table of devils. They may be sectarian, but they are not heathen alters.  This is monstrous nonsense and shows the bad state of the person who says such things.

A local assembly should always receive a person who is a true believer, and who has dissociated himself from that which is not of God. There cannot be too much care as to holiness and truth: the Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of truth; but ignorance of ecclesiastical truth is not a ground of non-reception or excommunication when the conscience and walk are undefiled. 

However, if one insisted on his right to break bread with two divergent companies, he would not come in simplicity in the unity of the body. It is evil: he has no right to impose any condition on the church of God.  Such a person cannot have a pure heart.

Satan is busy, seeking to lead us one side or the other — to destroy the largeness of the unity of the body, or to make it loose in practice and doctrine.  Reception of all true saints is what gives its force to the exclusion of those walking loosely.  If a local assembly excludes those walking godlily, power is lost, for those who are godly are shut out too.

[1] I always have a little difficulty on anything that refers to ‘us’. What do we mean by ‘us’?   Applying ‘us’ to a particular group of Christians is blatantly sectarian.

What is the Church, and in what sense is it now in ruin?

or, the Church cannot be Reconstructed

Based on a reading with J N Derby, London September 1847

Scriptures read: 1 Timothy 3:15, 16; 2 Timothy 2:19-22

J N Darby (1800-82)

Many dear brethren have understandably been troubled at the expression “the ruin of the church”. They jealously hold that the church cannot fail, and in one sense this is correct.  However, we must distinguish between God’s purposes and the present situation where a man is placed in responsibility. As regards the purpose of God the church cannot be ruined, a testimony for God on earth it is in ruin.

We may ask, ‘Is there a church now on earth or not?’

Well, we may say ‘Is there an army or not?’ Suppose an army is not destroyed but scattered to the four winds, there is still an army, but also there is not an army: it has lost its corporate character.

We might think that we cannot do anything about the ruin: we should just ignore it, satisfied that we are saved by grace.  We are content to live in the ruin.  That demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s promises.  I should feel it to be a very sad effect if the expression “ruin of the church” were to dishearten a soul about the operation of the Spirit in bringing blessing to the church.

God’s purpose is unfailing, so the Church cannot fail as it exists in God’s purpose.  It follows that there are the resources in God to meet the circumstances of every Christian.  Knowing this we can look beyond our failure and the simple application of faith to the working of God’s power and blessing to glorify Christ.  Having the Spirit of Christ I cannot rest in the thought that a Christian is secure in Christ, with a present relationship with Him: I must and endeavour to instruct and exhort him and lead him on.

Thankfully, the Lord is awakening in the souls of many saints everywhere the question – “What is the church of God, and what is its relationship with Christ?”  At the same time they are being awakened as to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Satan opposes this using past testimony to hinder the present.  We get tired; our minds get distracted but the Lord always has the upper hand.

There are many saints, sound in the faith, who are not prepared to accept what the church of God is as set forth in the word of God. If it is meant that all the saints ever saved will in the end be in company in glory, in redemption and life through Him, and they call that the Assembly of God, I have no objection. The second Adam will have all around Him in glory, as the first Adam had all around him in sin.  In our place we have both privileges and responsibilities.  The Church of the living God is brought into the testimony by the Spirit of God and has a special relationship to God.

The church of the living God is the body of saints formed on earth in unity with Christ in heaven as the Head, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to form them into unity with Christ at the right hand of God.  Some say that this includes all saints since Adam. But the Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18). If there is to be a testimony the church must be visible, so now it is formed of those who are alive at the present time.

We read in Ephesians that God has set Christ above all principality and power in the heavenly places, consequent on his death and humiliation. The church is in association with him in heaven.  Christ is the righteous One in glory. God has set up a people in union with Christ as their head by the power of the Holy Spirit, formed of Jew and Gentile.  We now have to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

When I look at the Church in glory, I look at it as a body securely and infallibly perfect in God.  When man fails, God brings in an alternative. Adam failed; God brought in Christ. Israel failed; God brought in the assembly.  The Jewish priesthood failed and we see the same thing in the public church. But God fulfils his thoughts in a kingly priesthood.  In the Church I see the bride of Christ engaging an affectionate relationship.

So what do we mean by the ruin of the church?  Who will shew me the manifestation of the unity of the body of Christ? I cannot find it; but I can find saints that will be saved, manifest tokens of His faithfulness, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst’ (Matt 18:20) – what blessing!  Israel failed before and after the captivity. Nevertheless, His attitude towards His people never changed.  He said, ‘Fear ye not’ (Isa 44:8).

Now bringing it down to our day we find divisions and disagreements among Christians. Does this mean that Christ loves the church less, or is less powerful?  That sorrows us, but we are not to be discouraged.  A truly humble man is not discouraged because he knows his nothingness.

Some years after my conversion I looked around to find where the church was, but I could not find it. I could find plenty of saints better than myself, but not the church set up with power on the earth.  Then I say the church as thus set up is ruined: I could not find a better word for it. The church was founded on the earth in the spirit of the new covenant, and if it fails, there is no judgment as there was with Israel as a nation. No judgment has been executed on the Church of God: we must not confound ruin with cutting off.

Obedience is the only thing in which a Christian should be rigid, it would keep us from latitudinarianism; and there should be nearness to Christ which would keep us from sectarianism.  Sectarianism is getting an interest in a little circle round ourselves

At home and abroad I find this question, What is the church of God? One says, The church is visible. What is its testimony?  Is it to Christ its heavenly Head, separate from sinners?  Another says, It is invisible. It is only invisible because in sin. The false church is visible; the true one invisible.

When in the early 1800s, a few exercised Christians separated from mainline churches, they did not take any official standing.”   Blessing followed and numbers increased. Then trouble came in, and so that their little group became their circle, not the church of the living God. People say, we have been too narrow, we must mix up a little. I cannot be that. ‘If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor’ (Gal 2:18). I desire the Church’s entire separation to Christ to whom she belongs – espoused as a chaste virgin. My feet in the narrow way – my heart as large as Christ’s.

The Church of God is responsible in walk and affection towards God, the conscience acknowledging the ruin. ‘I remember thee, the love of thine espousals’ (Jer 2:2).  Note that this is not love for Israel but the love of the state of the people. We have one sole object before our souls, Christ’s coming. If I have the spirit of the bride I shall desire the Bridegroom.  ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come’ (Rev 22:17).

The question arises as to how much one should  labour and pray for the restoration of the public church.  Ministry is not reconstruction.  I should feel disappointment at the thought of reconstruction: if I have the Spirit of Christ I should be sensible of the loss of suitability in the bride to Him, and wish to become fitted for Him.  The bride is looking for the Bridegroom and will seek to be purified for Him through “the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26), as she ought to ne.  We are for Him alone.

Reconstruction is not the object of pursuit. E man might have a desire to be in God’s service.  Howeever, if he has not entirely God’s object, he will succeed, but it will be something else, like the real thing, but quite another thing. Paul had to admit that he did not succeed when he said, ‘All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s’ (Phil 2:21).  When a man has God’s object, and is thoroughly working for God, he must be a man of sorrows. Paul never got the faith of his fellow labourers nor the church up to his own.

Now I must guard against any thought that I undervalue order. Subjection to the Spirit of God is shown in subjection to what the Spirit of God gives.  I am not pursuing that as an object; I am looking for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Still, I do not doubt but that all my service to the saints down here will come in as ministry.

I am old and I hope living more with Christ and in the Father’s love

I get on feeling I am old, and as to my body, worn out, but through mercy my mind is as fresh as ever, judging I trust all evil in me, past and present, more earnestly than ever, but finding unutterable goodness and mercy even there, and I hope living more with Christ and more in the Father’s love.  But I find intercession weak in me, though I know I love His people.  For Himself, He stands alone, and grace above us all.  Still, I should like to be more like Him, more with Him.  Even my work absorbs me too much.  The steam, so to speak, in propelling the vessel along.  Still, He helps and sustains; and I find when…a moment is there—oh! How sweet it is—the steam is there and rises up in unbounded thankfulness to unbounded grace, by grace revealed, and goodness that never fails. 

J N Darby (1800-82)

(J N Darby, aged 70, Letters Vol. 2 p64)                                                                                                                            

Golden Nuggets are published by Saville Street Distribution, Venture, Princes Esplanade, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8QD UK                                                                             

Darby on the Absolute

Summary of an apologetic article by JND entitled ‘The Absolute’ JND Collected Writings Vol 32 (Miscellaneous 1) page 18.

J N Darby (1800-82)

Having spent most of last year on my book, I felt I ought to do a few more articles summarising JND’s works.  I looked to the Lord for direction and chanced upon the title, ‘The Absolute’.  Knowing that Darby was criticised for using that term, critics even accusing him of having to do with the occult, it was well to see the comment availed.  I will leave it to the reader to judge, but my conclusion is that Darby jealously protects what is of God personally from that which relates to man.

Absolute and Relative

Only God is absolute.  Therefore, man cannot have absolute knowledge about anything.  All human knowledge is relative.

The closest concept is the “I[i]“, which is outside of time and space, and therefore precludes any relation.  But even this is not absolute. 

The ‘I’ is not the same as ‘I am’ which is clearly a relative expression which we can understand.  Any human conception or idea cannot be infinite and must be relative.  When ‘I’ relates to time, infiniteness is not implied.  I can say ‘I am’ that relates to time – but the word ‘being’ relates to what is infinite and therefore can only belong to God[ii].

If God in infinity has a relationship with man in relativity it is because of His own will.  The human mind cannot know God, because relative cannot know absolute. But if imagination works, it corrupts the intuition mythologically.

Man’s Futile Rationalism

It is impossible to arrive at the knowledge of what is absolute through science.  Science is clearly incompetent as every discovery throws up further questions

The French philosopher and theologian  Scherer[iii] reduced man to the lowest estimate of the judgment of God and good.  He said, ‘Truth is no longer truth in itself’-  a ridiculous sentence.  At an absolute level beauty truth and righteousness cannot be made relative.  God is the Absolute.

With man these things are

relative and can only be so.  The philosopher attempts to define these things in human  terms.  One reasons from final causes, another from intuition as to what relates to God.  A third vacillates between the two.  The result is nothing. It is the ‘unknown God’  (Acts 17:23).  When Paul was in Athens he contended with a vast system of philosophy.  In wretched pantheism there is a germ of truth, for God is above all and through all.  I want the absolute but cannot have it, because I am in a relative condition; yet.  Anything further is self occupied with self.

[iv] In Darby’s time it was thought that the smallest possible particle was the atom. Since then we have found that atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, and beyond that, quarks.

The Truth – Thr Absolute become Relative

The truth gives us a true object as from the beginning, though present fulness, to the end,  we have the assurance of knowing as we are known, knowledge being now in part (See 1 Cor 13:12).  In Christ we have the absolute become relative, giving us the absolute goodness in coming into relation, perfect love and perfect light, but we have it more fully.  We have the truth as to everything from the supreme God to sin, the world, the devil and death. That is what our hearts can delight in.  In Christ, we see absolute moral perfection of man, because He could give Himself.  Could God’s ways be more perfect or wise?

God has revealed Himself in Christ in grace to us, and we discover a supreme relationship and an absolute claim which frees us from all others and leads us to give up self in all things. How admirable and divine the whole scheme is!  Man out of self by the absolute-become-relative and perfection in the relative toward God and toward man, while the absolute is maintained to our souls in every sense by the sacrifice of Christ and man’s perfect abnegation of self in the same to glorify God.  The result is man dwelling in God (and God in him) and that in glory, enjoyed now.  he that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself

Human Philosophy

Philosophical wisdom objects to this display of God’s absolute character at Christ’s expense.  It does not understand it when the Lord says, ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again’ (John 10:17).  It never gets out of self.

Metaphysical scepticism can only arrive at what is true within a limited sphere. The finite cannot know the infinite – because it is not the knowledge of God.[v] Truth beyond physical fact, must be a revelation from God[vi]

Darby’s next couple of paragraphs comprise intellectual logical arguments which are beyond my level of comprehension. I have therefore not attempted to summarise them[vii].

However, in this section Darby introduces human will as affecting our perception of the truth.

One intelligible conclusion

Simple Christianity totally rejects heathenism and philosophy as being evil.  However, some of the early so-called fathers, such as Clements and Origens, accepted human lusts and cravings as part of the truth. met them when not simply lusts. Christ alone is the truth; His word is, because He is as He said, ‘altogether that which I also say to you’ (John 8:25).

Modern Theological Thinking

Darby now refers to the German theologian and philosopher Schleiermacher (1768-1834) as if his teaching was well known – and from the note below[i] it probably was, and the source of the worst infidelity now is that he has taken the Holy Ghost’s work in us – very likely in himself – for intuition.  Doubtless, he was influenced by Kant and others.  Philosophers would deny revelation – not founded on logic and human reasoning.

True believers see things differently

[viii] Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (November 21, 1768 – February 12, 1834) was a German Reformed theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional Protestant Christianity. He also became influential in the evolution of higher criticism (looking at texts from a worldly historical setting), and his work forms part of the foundation of the modern field of hermeneutics (the interpretation of biblical texts). Because of his profound effect on subsequent Christian thought, he is often called the “Father of Modern Liberal Theology” and is considered an early leader in liberal Christianity.

Source Wikipedia

Reading the rest of the article one would question whether he had a true conversion,

[i] It is interesting that Darby uses the expression ‘I’.  I would have expected to have used the Greek Ego/ Εγώ, especially as the Greek is in English everyday parlance.

[ii] I do not fully understand this!

[iii] In Darby’s time it was thought that the smallest possible particle was the atom. Since then we have found that atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, and beyond that, quarks.

[iv] Presumably Edmond Henri Adolphe Schérer (April 8, 1815 – March 16, 1889)  a French theologian, critic and politician.  He was a rationalist.

[v] Hence Pilate asked, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38)

[vi] This is difficult to follow, and I am not too sure if I have got what JND said right.  The only way I can is to relate things to scripture – which of course must be true.   This paper is meeting the infidel, and drawing on scripture. However I am thinking of what Paul said the in scripture, ‘God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (Gal 1:15-16), the truth being in Him.  And also ‘the truth is in Jesus’ (Eph 4:21).

[vii] If a reader could help it would be appreciated.

[viii] Presumably Edmond Henri Adolphe Schérer (April 8, 1815 – March 16, 1889)  a French theologian, critic and politician.  He was a rationalist.

Soul and Spirit – Psyche and Pneuma – ψυχή and πνεῦμα


At a recent Zoom Bible reading, a young brother asked the question as to the difference between our soul and our spirit. We were reading 1 Thessalonians 5:23; ‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body’. To the shame of us older ones, we were not able to give a concise statement based on sound teaching. We could speak in general terms, quoting scriptures and the Holy Spirit helped. But this has caused me to look into the subject.

The following is largely from a paper by J N Darby The Soul’ – Notes and Comments Volume 5 page 86. However, for the convenience of our readers, the scripture text has been added to the references. Other notes are from Strong’s Notes on Bible Hub.

THE SOULψυχή/psyche/Strong 5590

John Nelson Darby’s notes

First, the word ψυχή/psuche/Strong 5590 is clearly used for ‘life,’ as

Matthew 2:20              the life of the little child

 Matthew 10:39           he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it

 Mark 3:4                    on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?

 Luke 9:24                   For whosoever will save his life shall lose it

Luke 9:56                    the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them

John 12:25,                 He that loveth his life shall lose it;

                                                and many other passages.

Conscious Feeling and Existence

Next, it is used for the general fact of conscious feeling and existence — the activity of the inner man — without defining whence or what it is. In this way, it is used even of God;

 Matthew 12:18;          my beloved, in whom my soul has found its delight – it goes on θήσω τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, I will put my spirit upon him

 Hebrews 10:38.          If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Matthew 22:37            With all thy heart, and with all thy soul

Mark 14:34                 My soul is exceeding sorrowful

Luke 2:35.                   A sword shall pierce through thy own soul;


It is used for persons, as

Acts 2:41,                    here were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:43                     fear came upon every soul:

Acts 7:14,                    Jacob … all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

Life, or in contrast to Body

But as ‘life’ and ‘soul,’ it is in contrast often, or ‘life’ is used for ‘the soul’ in its higher aspect. The same word is used of what is profited and lost in the same act.

Matthew 10:39            he that loseth his life (ψυχὴν/psychen) for my sake shall find it – compare with

Matthew 10:28            them which kill the body (σῶμα/soma/Strong 4983), but are not able to kill the soul (ψυχὴν/psyche)

 Mark 8:35                  or whosoever will save his life (ψυχὴν/psyche) shall lose it;

Mark 8:37–                  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (ψυχῆς/psuches)? Similarly Luke 9:24-26, and John 12:25) and Luke 17:33

‘The soul’ used for the Responsible Part

We have then ‘the soul’ used generally for the responsible part, in which we live with God, whose state and movings are expressed in the body’s acts, as

 Matthew 11:29;          ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 16:26;            gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 26:38;           My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death

Acts 14:22;                 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith

Acts 15:24;                 Certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised,

perhaps Romans 2: 9; Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil,

2 Corinthians 1: 23; I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

Hebrews 6:19              Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast,

Hebrews 10:39            we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews 13:17            Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls,

James 1:21;                 receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 5:20                  he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death,

1 Peter 1:9,                  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:22,                Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit

1 Peter 2:11                 abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

1 Peter 2:25                 now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls

1 Peter 4:19,                suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

2 Peter 2:8,                  For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul

2 Peter 2:14,                Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls

3 John 2.                     thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Here we find contrast with Jewish temporal deliverance.

Contrasted with Body

It is contrasted carefully with ‘body,’

Matthew 10:28            them which kill the body {σῶμα/soma/Strong 4983), but are not able to kill the soul (ψυχὴν/psyche)

Luke 12:20.   (stronger because of verse 19); Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years…fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee

Acts 2:27,                    Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:31,                    he, seeing it before, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither has he been left in hades nor his flesh seen corruption. (Darby)

Acts 20:10                   And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life (Acts 20:10 /psyche) is in him

compare 1 Kings 17:21, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again….and the soul of the child came into him again,

 It is also distinguished as the mere living soul from the higher part in which it is in connection with God, through living in Him by the breath of life from Him;

 1 Thessalonians 5:23; the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body

Hebrews 4:12.             piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Add to this Luke 16, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It is distinguished from the power of life in Christ in

1 Corinthians 15:45.   The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Its distinct condition in man is originally founded on

 Genesis 2:7 —             God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  This is never said of beasts; hence

Acts 17:28.                  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. – No reference to soul.

The ‘souls under the altar’ (Revelation 6:9) confirm this.

Strong’s Note

Strong’s Note

psuché: breath, the soul

Original Word: ψυχή, ῆς, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: psuché
Phonetic Spelling: (psoo-khay’)
Definition: breath, the soul
Usage: (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.

Strongs’s HELPS Word-studies

5590 psyxḗ (from psyxō, “to breathe, blow” which is the root of the English words “psyche,” “psychology”) – soul (psyche); a person’s distinct identity (unique personhood), i.e. individual personality.

5590 (psyxē) corresponds exactly to the OT 5315 /phágō (“soul”). The soul is the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into a person, making them an ensouled being.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

soul, life, self

From psucho; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from pneuma, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from zoe, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew nephesh, ruwach and chay) — heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

See Thyler’s Greek Lexicon for a fuller analysis of this word

THE SPIRIT πνεῦμα/pneuma/Strong 4151

Used for the Higher Part

Second the word πνεῦμα/pneuma/Strong 4151 is clearly used for ‘spirit,’ as

‘Spirit’ is used often for the soul including the higher part. So even of Jesus,

.(Matthew 27:50         ‘He gave up the ghost’ (ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα/aphēken to pneuma).

This word we must also examine.

It is used not uncommonly for the spiritual part of man in contrast with his body, as

 Luke 8:55,                  ‘Her spirit came again,

 confirming the clear distinction between the two, as with soul. So where the two latter are also distinguished, spirit, soul, and body. But I think it has another force than ‘soul,’ though used in a general way like it, in contrast with ‘body,’ as the non-corporeal part of man. ‘Soul,’ as connecting itself with its action in the body, though clearly distinct, is more connected with life, and so used for it. ‘Spirit’ is more the active, intelligent consciousness, or the seat of that consciousness, which belongs to the inner man; and just what distinguishes man from the beast is that the latter has merely a living soul connected with an organism, passions, habits, faculties, such as memory, affections; while man has received this state of existence through God’s breathing into his nostrils the breath of life — by the spirit of life he became a living soul. Hence in ordinary language the two may be used as one; because of the pneuma zoes (the spirit of life) he has a ψυχὴν ζῶσαν/psychen zosan (a living soul). The mere animal has a ψυχὴν ζῶσαν/psychen zosan, but not through a divine πνεῦμα ζωῆς/pneuma zoes.

Active Intelligent Consciousness

The mere breath of natural life is organic, and has nothing to do with this. Hence ‘spirit’ is used for this active, intelligent, consciousness. In the Christian it is connected often with the Holy Spirit which dwells in him, as its activities are produced by it, not the soul. The Spirit and its fruit may thus also characterise the state of the soul. This character of the spirit of man, the connection of the term with active intelligent consciousness is frequently found;

Matthew 26:41             ‘The spirit indeed is willing’;

 Mark 14:38,               ‘Jesus perceived in his spirit;

Mark 8:12                   ‘He sighed deeply in his spirit’

 Luke 1:80, Luke 2:40 ‘Waxed strong in spirit;’

Luke 10:20,                 rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you;

Luke 23:46 ,                Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:

John 4:24                    God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 13:21                  When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit,

John 19:30                  he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost – KJV – spirit mostly elsewhere

chapter 19: 30, used in general, so

Acts 7:59                     they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Acts 17:16;                 while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry

Romans 1:9;                For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son,

Romans 12:11             Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

 1 Corinthians 2:11;    Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God

 1 Corinthians 5:3       For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit…as though I were present,…In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit,…deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  (used in special manner for activity of the inner man and a power, not intelligent, thus contrasted with νοῦς/nous/Strong 3563 (the mind, the reason, the reasoning faculty, intellect, according to Strong) – proof of the difference of mere mind from the active principle, though usually acting, in the present state of human nature, in it as the present form of its power; so that consciousness, not mind, is essential to it);

1 Corinthians 14:2, 14, 15, etc.           he that speaks with a tongue does not speak to men but to God: for no one hears; but in spirit he speaks mysteries. (Darby) …if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth…I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding

2 Corinthians 2:13;                 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother…the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

2 Corinthians 7:1;       let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. here through the mind,

 Galatians 6:18;           the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

1 Thessalonians 5:23; I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 2 Timothy 4:22;         The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Hebrews 12:23.           to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (JND Note ‘Made perfect’ refers to ‘just men’ not ‘spirits’)

In Thessalonians and Hebrews, the contrast with body is clear, and in the former with soul also.

Strong’s Notes

pneuma: wind, spirit

Original Word: πνεῦμα, ατος, τό
Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: pneuma
Phonetic Spelling: (pnyoo’-mah)
Definition: wind, spirit
Usage: wind, breath, spirit.

Strong’s HELPS Word-studies

4151 pneúma – properly, spirit (Spirit), wind, or breath. The most frequent meaning (translation) of 4151 (pneúma) in the NT is “spirit” (“Spirit“). Only the context however determines which sense(s) is meant.

[Any of the above renderings (spirit-Spirit, wind, breath) of 4151 (pneúma) is always theoretically possible (spirit, Spirit, wind, breath). But when the attributive adjective (“holy”) is used, it always refers to the Holy Spirit. “Spirit” (“spirit”) is by far the most common translation (application) of 4151 (pneúma).

The Hebrew counterpart (rûach) has the same range of meaning as 4151 (pneúma), i.e. it likewise can refer to spirit/Spirit, wind, or breath

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

spirit, ghost

From pneo; a current of air, i.e. Breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit — ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare psuche.

See Thyler’s Greek Lexicon for a fuller analysis of this word

J N Darby – Death – King of Terrors for the Unbeliever –

Man is condemned: he cannot deliver himself. But Christ has come in. The Prince of Life has come into death. What is death now for the believer?

IMPORTANT – The Bible says, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’[i]  If you landed on this page because you are afraid of death, and do not have peace with God Click here first.


Death – The King of Terrors for the Unbeliever

John Nelson Darby

For the unbeliever, nothing can be more terrible than death.  It is the ‘King of Terrors’ (See Job 18:14).  It is the end of life of the natural man, the first Adam.  Everything in which man has had – his home, his thoughts, his whole being, is closed and perished forever.  ‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day, his thoughts perish’ (Psalm 146:4). It is the end to all his plans. This busy world forgets him: he is extinct.  Death is written on him, for he is a sinner: he cannot deliver himself.

But that is not all.  Man indeed, as man alive in this world.  Sin has come in; with sin Satan’s power, more sin and death.  The wages of sin are a terror to the conscience. Man has been unable to resist the master, Satan, who has exercised his dreadful rights.

God cannot help[ii].   Death is His judgment on sin.  Sin does not pass unnoticed, and the terror and plague of the conscience is witness to His judgment, the officer of justice to the criminal, and the proof of his guilt in the presence of coming judgment.  How terrible!

Christ’s Death for the Believer

Man is condemned: he cannot deliver himself.  But Christ has come in.  The Prince of Life has come into death.  What is death now for the believer?

So we see two aspects of death –

  1. Satan’s power:
  2. God’s judgment:

In being made sin for us, Christ has undergone death, passing through both Satan’s power and God’s judgment. Death with its causes has been met in its every way by Christ.  It is no longer a source of terror to my soul.  In every sense, it has lost its power.

Death is Ours

But death has much more than passed away. Paul says that death is ours, as all things are (See 1 Cor 3:22).  Death and judgment have become my salvation; sin and the wages of sin have passed away.  In a word, Christ, the sinless One, having come in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, has dealt with my whole condition, the first Adam under obligation to the law (see Rom 8:3).  I live before God now in the One who is risen.  What is the effect of this?

  1. Condemnation and judgment being over, my soul is accepted. The foods of water that engulfed the oppressive Egyptians was a wall of deliverance to the children of Israel (see Ex 14:22).
  2. In the power of Christ’s resurrection, I am quickened. He becomes my life. In the new man, I can dispense with the old, Christ having passed through death, I can consider myself dead.  ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rom 6:11).  We are free of ordinances.
  3. The old man dies; the new man can never die. It is Christ.  In dying, it quits what is mortal and leaves death behind.  ‘We … are absent from the body and present with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8 Darby).  Our old man never revives, but our mortal bodies will be changed, like unto His glorious body conformed to the image of God’s Son.  (See Phil 3:21 and Rom 8:29).   Having a new life, we are disencumbered from the old man which hinders and hems in our way.


Death is the ceasing of the old man in which we were guilty before God.  It is the ceasing of sin, hindrance and trouble. We have done with the old man righteously, because Christ has died for us, and now we live in the power of the new.

  • As to death: ‘To depart and to be with Christ is far better. (Phil 1:23)
  • As to judgment: Christ has borne it.
  • As to the power of sin: it is the death of the very nature it lives in.
  • As to actual mortality: it is deliverance from the old to be with Christ in the new man who enjoys Him.

Who knowing the proper gain of it, would not die?

Meanwhile, we live here to serve Christ.  To us to live is Christ. (See Phil 1:21).


A simplified summary by Sosthenes of J N Darby’s – ‘What is Death’ ‘ Collected Writings volume 17 – Doctrinal 1, page 302.

[i] Hebrews 9:27

[ii] Or should I say, ‘does not help’? – Sosthenes

Darby and his Ministry

‘After These Things’ Chapter 3.1 Darby and his Ministry

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE



In this part, we cover:

Who was Darby and why you should know more about his ministry?

John Nelson Darby –  Biographical Note of a True Churchman

The Beliefs of Darby and the ‘Brethren’ – From a letter to the editor of ‘Le Fraançais’)

Who was Darby and why you should know more about his ministry?

John Nelson Darby (1800-82), otherwise known as J N Darby or simply JND, had a significant influence on evangelical Christendom in the nineteenth century.  God used him to bring back Evangelical Christians of all persuasions to the truth as presented by Paul and the other Apostles.

What made John Nelson Darby’s Teaching on the Church and its Hope so Special?

J N Darby looked at the sects, the human organisation, and the quenching of the Holy Spirit throughout Christendom, and concluded that the public church was in ruins

Specifically, he brought Christians back to appreciate the Lord’s immediate coming to Rapture His saints (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), the church as Christ’s heavenly bride, the public ruin of Christendom, the way out of the ruin for true believers and the position of Israel.  JND perceived the truth of Christ as the Head in heaven, with His body here, the church heavenly in origin and destiny, perfectly united in the sight of God, and its hope of being with  Him at the imminent (pre-millennial) Rapture. Pre-tribulation (pre-trib) Christians have come to know him as ‘the father of dispensational theology’. Such a label would have horrified him. As his epitaph says ‘Unknown, yet well known.’

He demonstrated how the public Christian Church had degenerated in worldliness, tolerating moral evil and, false doctrines and  sectarian fragmentation, overriding the Lord’s words, ‘That they may be one’, (John 17:21) and His command to love one another‘ (John 13:34). Church unity cannot be achieved by human compromise and confederacy. Reforming and rebuilding are futile. Christians must look to the Lord Himself, giving Him His place, by the Holy Spirit, going forth to him without the camp, and being not of the world (John 17:14).





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Introduction to the Timeline

‘After These Things’ Chapter 1.1 Introduction to the Timeline

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

The present is now; the future starts at the Rapture.

All we can say is that the church is not yet complete – the last soul to be saved has not yet been saved.  Other than this, no further events need to happen before the Rapture.  A brother who helped us much in our area often said, ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’.  He also said that we are not told about the future to satisfy our curiosity, but only things that have a present moral bearing.  Please, dear reader, bear this in mind when reading this book.

Corinthians says ‘Now’:  ‘For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians  6:2) quoting from Isaiah 49:8

Hebrews says ‘Today’:  ‘To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:15) quoting from Psalm 95:7

With that in mind, we begin our timeline from the Rapture. 

The period from the Rapture to the Appearing


We anticipate two great events

  1. Christ’s coming ‘to the air’ to take the living believers on Him to be with Him, and to raise the bodies of those who have ‘fallen asleep’. This is known as ‘The Rapture’.  It could happen today.


  1. To come with His saints to reign over the earth for 1000 years. This is known as ‘The Appearing’.  It follows the Great Tribulation and precedes the Millennium.

Chapter 2.3 contrasts the two.





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‘After These Things’ Foreword

Introducing After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more.

‘After These Things’ Foreword

Introducing After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more.

1.0 Foreword. 1

Introduction to ‘After These Things’ 1

A brief summary of what is to come: 2

This book is in six sections: 2

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

Thank you for purchasing ‘After These Things’.  Doubtless you and I share a common salvation through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a common certain hope of hearing His voice, and being with Him when He comes with His Church to reign.

So that we can enjoy sharing something very precious, please drop me an email today. I will answer you personally, and occasionally send ‘A Day of Small Things’ emails.


Introduction to ‘After These Things’

The following words come right at the end of the Bible:

‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely… . He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Revelation 22:17-20).

Jesus continues to say, ‘I come quickly’ . This book is for His lovers who respond to Him with the words, ‘Come Lord Jesus’ – hearts which are looking for Him to come NOW.

In the mid 1800’s John Nelson Darby reawakened thousands of Christians as to the Rapture, described clearly in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.   This gave them a burning desire to hear His call, and to be amongst ‘we the living’ when our Lord Jesus calls His saints on earth to meet Him in the air.  Along with these, there will be millions of sleeping saints whose bodies will be raised and changed.[1]  What a joy it will be to be with Him, forming His Bride, the Church, married to Him in heaven.

A brief summary of what is to come:

It will be an awful time of Satanic deception on earth.  The world will be dominated by the Beast, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. There will be pestilence and wars – the ‘great tribulation’

There will be a faithful ‘Jewish Remnant’, persons from the twelve tribes of Israel, enduring tribulation while standing for, Christ their Messiah, during the period from the ‘Rapture’ to the ‘Appearing’.  After the Antichrist breaks his covenant with the Jews, they will suffer extreme persecution.

World powers will engage in battle, but Christ will return.  All alive and will be judged; Satan will be bound, introducing the 1000-year  benevolent reign of Christ. After the Millennium Satan will be briefly released, gathering the world’s armies to the final war.  The Devil, who was really defeated at the Cross, will be consigned eternally to the lake of fire along with his agents and those not in the ‘Book of Life’.  For the saints, there’s a new heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness – the tabernacle of God with men.

That is the future and the theme of this book in a nutshell.

It is not a book on John Nelson Darby’s eschatology.  Darby did not want to create theologians[2] – he wanted us to love Jesus more.

This book is in six sections:

Section 1:  A Prophetic Timeline – from the Rapture to the New Heaven and New Earth

Section 2:  A summary of Darby’s prophetic thought, the dispensations, and the differences as to what applies to the Church, to Israel and the ‘Nations’, the distinction between the Rapture and the Appearing, the Resurrection of the Living and the Resurrection of the Dead,  what proceeds in heaven and what on earth, the judgement seat of Christ and the Great White Throne and the thousand-year Millennium and the eternal state.

Section 3: John Nelson Darby – the man and his ministry

Section 4: Summaries of eleven lectures on the ‘Present Hope of the Church of God’.  J N Darby, Geneva 1840

Section 5 – Summaries of other papers on prophecy by J N Darby, including his Prophetic Map.

Section 6   –        Glossary of prophetic terms, bibliography, and other references.

These summaries have been produced  from the notes of lectures or addresses as we would call them now.  JND would typically end these with an appeal to the conscience or heart.  These are often reproduced verbatim.  After all, Darby wanted us stimulated spiritually, not intellectually.  Indeed, ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Revelation 19:10) – it is to enhance His glory, not to satisfy our curiosity.

Most of these summaries were initially posted on my website www.adayofsmallthings.com. If you have comments on this book, or on my site,  email me at daniel@adayofsmallthings.com, or use the comments form on my websit

Scriptures Quotations

Scripture quotations are from the 1611 King James Version of the Bible.  Despite its age and often archaic language, it remains the only universally accepted version.  Sometimes, for accuracy, I have used Darby’s translation, (1890 edition), shown as Darby after the reference.  Very occasionally I use the English Standard Version (ESV), a modern language version. Most of my personal comments are footnotes.

This work, dear reader, is committed to God. May I be given diligence, understanding and in humility, serve His Son, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Your brother in Christ

Daniel Roberts

November 2020


[1] Including Paul, all the Thessalonians, and many before and since.

[2] Darby wrote ‘We must here notice a striking part. The moment one searches the word, it comes out that theology and theologians are worth nothing at all … It is impossible to read the word and to follow, even one moment, the established theological system. Poor theologians!’ (Collected Writings Vol 3  Doctrinal 1 p243).


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