J N Darby – French Letter No. 144 – Greek words for Revelation & Manifestation

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Geneva – 15th September 1844

To Mr B R

Dear Brother

I have read your chart, on the words έπιφάλεια – epiphaleia, φαυερόω – phaueroa, άποκάλυψις – apokalupsis, with some attention. I have gone over your second chart on the gospels, and I seize a moment to say a word to you. But first, I will communicate to you my critical remarks on the words; I have made these after having examined all the passages anew.

έπιφάλειαepiphaleia (cf 1 Tim 6: 14; 2 Tim 1: 10; 2 Thess 2: 8) means appearing to me, not revelation, as if one went out of a place where one had been hidden beforehand. Without doubt, appearing is necessarily opposed to the idea of being hidden, but it is the fact of being seen or visible, of appearing, as the sun shines. He has appeared; He will appear anew. That is to say that there will be a state of things in which He will not be hidden, or as non-existent (save for faith), but where He will be apparent. It is not the act of coming out as [….Ω….][1]. But the state of shining so that He is visible. Without doubt, the thing will be true, as soon as His [….Ω….] and His [….Ω….] but it remains true afterwards.

φαυερόωphaueroo is in contrast with what He has been beforehand, to be hidden although existing, and of a known existence. This term only applies to us when our life has been presented as hidden with Christ in God (Col 3: 4[2]).

άποκάλυψις apokalupsi (cf Rom 8: 19; 1 Cor 1: 7; 1 Pet 1: 7[3]) is said more often of someone who has the right to appear in glory and who appears thus, to the confusion, indeed, of those who have not wanted to recognise the glory. And this term is applied either to judgment or to glory; it is something glorious which shines out.

φαυερόω – phaueroo signifies putting on the record and is applied to sin (Eph 5: 13; 1 Cor 4: 5; Luke 8: 17; Mark 4: 22, etc.).

αρουσία – arousia signifies presence in contrast with absence, and also the fact of becoming present after having been absent. (1 Cor 16: 17; 2 Cor 7: 6 present this latter sense, and Phil 2: 12; 2 Cor 10: 10 the former). This word evidently gives us the idea of His presence in the midst of the scene in which are our affections, our fears, our hopes, our joys, our sorrows, and where His presence or His absence can act on these things. So that the presence of Christ in the creation answers to the hopes and affections of the person who speaks of it. In a general way, it is His coming into the scene from which He is currently absent. If my soul is occupied with heavenly thoughts, it will meet Him in heaven; if on earthly things, it hails His coming into this world, so that this word applies to one and the other to His coming to receive the church in the air, and to His coming on the earth to accomplish the designs and the judgment of God there.

These remarks may bring some modification to the expression of someone with your ideas, but they are in general in accord with your chart and perhaps resolve some difficulties which remain on the word [….Ω….].

As to the marriage of the Lamb, it seems to me that it would be better not to put anything else, but to leave aside what concerns the Jews and the parables. I am totally in agreement with what you say on the marriage itself, but your interpretation of the parable of the virgins presents difficulties which, for me, are insurmountable. It would be necessary first that a remnant of the Jews should be with the Lord, as His friends, before the marriage. There is no bride here, because, in this case, Jerusalem on the earth will be the bride. I do not believe that it is a question of the marriage of the Lamb in Luke 12: 36; it is only a similitude of what the disciples would have to be as to their moral state.

As to Daniel 11, my present conviction is that from v 21 to 35 is history. The named person in these verses is not the last king, for historically it is not the case, but the last here (save at v 40) because it is him who has been the type of the Antichrist. At verses 36-39, it is the Antichrist himself. I have said, thinking of Daniel, that certain brethren considered verses 21-35 as speaking of the Antichrist, but that my conviction was what I have just said to you.

Having made these remarks in all liberty, so that you can use them as you wish, I can tell you that in general your chart has given me great pleasure and, if you put aside the explanation of the parables, I believe it would be profitable to the brethren. I do not impose all my thoughts on the parables but, in such a summary, this will lend more to controversy than to edification because the chart is presented to be consulted as a whole, and not as a treatise where the question would be debated. If you like to publish your thoughts under the form of a treatise, I do not see anything wrong at all, only I urge you to reconsider it first.

Greet all the brethren affectionately. May the peace of our God, His grace and mercy, be in abundance with you and all His dear children. In haste.

Your affectionate brother

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013

Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

__________

[1] see the first note to the previous letter

[2] JND’s English and French Bibles have ‘manifested’ ; KJV has ‘shall appear’

[3] translated ‘revelation’ in JND’s English and French Bibles; KJV has ‘appear’ or ‘coming’

The Authorship of the New Testament

The New Testament history bears the proven stamp of perfect divine arrangement. My object is to draw attention to the question which is often silently dropped — Who is the author of the New Testament history? Whose will, purpose or plan is behind this history of the Lord Jesus? Is it a divine or a human one? If the purpose and moving was of the Holy Spirit, I must look for His carrying that purpose out.

Outline of Bible cover
John Nelson Darby wrote a paper, ‘
Inspiration of the Scriptures’, in which he maintained that the authorship of the Holy Scriptures was God Himself. He was countering the assertion, prevalent in the churches, questioning the authorship of scripture, saying that the Bible was the chance writings of various persons, presenting things in the best way they could. Darby showed the divine plan in the gospels despite the apparent factual inconsistencies and differences in the sequence of the Lord’s miracles and other events.

 

The enemy is set against the Word of God. While most believers acknowledge the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, in much of Christendom the church is seen as having ultimate authority. In intellectual wisdom, theologians see their authority as divinely given.   Human intellect takes superior ground. This leads to rationalism.

God’s divine authority is in the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God presents divine truth from God and calls for submission. Through it, in sovereign mercy, the Christian has a renewed connection with God. Sin and flesh had separated us from God. Now we see God revealed even in that state of separation. For this God must be the author — only God can rightly reveal Himself.   Otherwise the Word cannot bear witness to the love and purpose of God.

Who was the author of the New Testament? How did it come to be written? What was its purpose? Is the existence of the New Testament an accident, in the historical accounts of four men? Or is the New Testament history the a fruit of divine intention and plan, and is the Holy Spirit its author?

In Peter, Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit was the source; the word of the Lord came to them.   The writers had individual styles, but the Lord was pleased to use them. He used their memories in the way and sequence that He pleased, producing a witness to Christ, entirely beyond the thoughts of the writer.

Many short-sighted discussions on inspiration leave aside or deny the motive power of the Spirit of God.

 

The Sequence of the Historical Accounts

Either the Holy Spirit moved the inspired writers to compose their accounts, or He did not. If not, then the existence of the various written accounts of the life of Jesus are a providential accident, and do not show God’s intentions, plans and purposes. Alternatively, God has given His Church an account of the wonderful facts of incarnation and redemption and all that accompanied these great events in a ruined world.

It is absurd to think that the gospel writers’ work was the uncertain fruit of their own research.   That would not answer to His intentions in showing us the glory of Christ and the truth as it is in Him?

If Christ is presented in various characters, why should the Holy Spirit not present facts in order to display those characters in the way it was calculated to do, employing human agents to do it?   This argument assumes that there is no purpose or plan of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The moment I believe that there is, I must expect the materials to be selected and arranged according to God’s purpose and plan. Anything else is absurd. The Holy Spirit recalled facts to the evangelists, not in an haphazard way.

Where inspiration is denied, it is easy to think that each evangelist did the best he could, putting the things out of order because he knew no better. If, on the other hand, God desired to glorify His Son Jesus, and in grace give us an adequate account of His life and sufferings, we can easily understand the Spirit of God so ordering various accounts, as to present the various aspects of His path on earth.   They consistently unfold the divine nature with true facts, variously arranged by several independent writers.

The four Gospels present Christ differently. Did this flow from the purpose and intention of God, or was it an accident? If it was from divine purpose, I must look for an ordering of the materials according to that purpose. For example, was the deliverance of the demoniac in Galilee before or after Matthew’s call? Was that relevant?

 

The Presentation of the Historical Accounts

Luke says, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to compose an account of what is most surely believed among us, as it has been delivered to us by those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having accurate knowledge of all things from the origin, to write to thee with method, etc. (Luke 1:1-3). The evangelist contrasts the ground on which he wrote with that of others. Others had had known what had been delivered, but he was on more trustworthy ground. He had thorough personal knowledge of everything from the outset. Paul says of Timothy, Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, etc. (2 Tim. 3:10). It is not said Luke knew them himself, but παρηχολουθνχότι νωθεν πσιν χριβς (having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first – Luke 1:1-3). It would be hard to express personal accurate knowledge more strongly. It has nothing to do with the question of inspiration. The conclusion that Luke derived his materials from other sources is wholly unfounded.

That the selection of facts depended on human agency is still more absurd. It is held that the Holy Spirit helped the writers to recall what Jesus said. What influenced their selection? Could something much more important have been omitted? Such an irreverent thought is absurd. There were many other things (see John 21:25). What was written was sufficient.

The question arises, ‘Who was the author and mover in the history we have of the blessed Lord?’   If it was the Holy Spirit, then was He the source of this history; and had He a purpose in giving it? To suppose that the Holy Spirit left us an imperfect, wrongly arranged, inconsistent account of the Lord Jesus, is in fact the most irreverent and absurd of all theories as to inspiration

The New Testament history bears the proven stamp of perfect divine arrangement. My object is to draw attention to the question which is often silently dropped — Who is the author of the New Testament history? Whose will, purpose or plan is behind this history of the Lord Jesus? Is it a divine or a human one? If the purpose and moving was of the Holy Spirit, I must look for His carrying that purpose out.

 

A summary of a paper by J N Darby entitled, Inspiration of the Scriptures.  Click here for the full article.

 

Darby on Romans 16 – Conclusion

Even though he had never been to Rome, Paul’s heart was at home with many there. He knew the faith and service of some, and wrote to them as an assembly. As the apostle of the nations, he had his service for Christ for those in Rome.

He had a comprehensive service, embracing all the counsels of God, bringing the elements of the gospel together, to make the saints complete in Christ. The fruit will be hereafter. The apostle cites many who served diligently in the sphere in which God had placed them – from those who were of note among the apostles, to Phoebe, the deaconess or servant of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many. God does not forget any.

RomeEven though he had never been to Rome, Paul’s heart was at home with many there. He knew the faith and service of some, and wrote to them as an assembly. As the apostle of the nations, he had his service for Christ for those in Rome.

He had a comprehensive service, embracing all the counsels of God, bringing the elements of the gospel together, to make the saints complete in Christ. The fruit will be hereafter. The apostle cites many who served diligently in the sphere in which God had placed them – from those who were of note among the apostles, to Phoebe, the deaconess or servant of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many. God does not forget any.

The apostle then tells the us to mark those self-important persons who cause divisions, exploiting their own mental abilities and acting contrary to the doctrine they had learned. We are to avoid them. Such insubject activity separates our hearts from God. True hearts, like John the Baptist, knew consciously by the Spirit that everything that is right is from God. Even if we are weak, and lack faithfulness, we have a testimony from God with more power than the pretensions of man. This preserves us. Our hearts are kept simple, while the mischievous hearts, with their fair speeches, are judged.

So Paul says, ‘I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil(v.19). God has, in His gracious wisdom, traced out a path in the world for us. We do not need to know all the evil, or even any of it: we are just to walk in the wise and holy path, conversant with what is good, lovely, and of good report. If we know the one right path across the waste, and live by God’s word, we do not need to learn from those who lost themselves. ‘By the words of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer’

Paul ends Romans 16  with salutations, for fellowship in love characterises the spirit of the gospel. Tertius, to whom Paul had dictated the letter, gives his salutation. The Roman epistle, along with the others such as Ephesians and Colossians which had the character of commandments of the Lord: accuracy was important. (See 1 Cor. 14:37). The salutation at the end came from Paul’s own hand, verifying that the whole epistle was his, and that it had inspired apostolic authority.

The apostle closes with ascription of praise to the only wise God, owning Him as the One who is able to establish them according to his gospel.   He recalls the character of the testimony contained in that gospel, of which he speaks in so many places in so remarkable a manner.

In this epistle Paul does not develop the mystery: his object is to show how a soul stood in liberty before God. Conscience and justification must be individual. Still he shows that ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). We are in Christ, and in chapter 12, one body in Christ – the full scope of the counsels of God – a mystery hidden from ages, even though they were in prophetic scriptures (v.26 Darby). He does not unfold the mystery in this epistle, but preached according to the revelation of it: Christ the head of all things, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, united with Him in heaven as Head. This had been kept secret since the world began, though it was in God’s counsels before creation. The foundation for our heavenly and eternal blessings had been laid in Christ’s work. Through all the inspired epistles the truth was made known to the nations ‘according to the commandment of the everlasting God.

God, whose counsels were not confined to Judaism, commanded His message to be sent to the nations. He had His counsels and views in man, and in the Son, the Seed of the woman, and would accomplish the counsels in power. Now the original purpose of God was being made manifest for the obedience of faith to all nations.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 15 – Paul’s Service moves to Rome

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

RomeThe apostle sums up what he had taught, especially the gospel of the nations. Christ ‘was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’ (v.8), but the nations had no such promises – they had to glorify God for His pure mercy. Because they had rejected Christ, the Jews also had to depend on God’s pure mercy. Paul quotes from the Old Testament, showing that this mercy to the nations was always contemplated by God – there should be a root of Jesse to reign over the nations and their hope should be in Him. (See v.12, Isa 11:10, Matt 12:21). He rests on the word hope.Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (v.13). Such is the Christian’s joy and peace in believing, that his spirit rises in hope, trusting in God, and looking forward to the blessed time when all shall be accomplished in light – when he will be with Jesus.

Paul now refers to the public ministry that had been confided to him by Jesus Christ. He wrote to the saints in Rome as a minister of the gospel of God to the Gentiles. He presents himself figuratively as a priest (a minister), so that he could offer up the Gentile Christians to God, consecrated, sanctified to God by the Holy Spirit. He shows how he had laboured in power, and how he had not gone where Christianity was already established, but to poor souls far away from God and light. Now this ministry was closed.

Paul had finished his service in Asia and the Greek speaking world, having laid the foundation, preaching in spite of the dangers, where no one else had.   He had formed and taught assemblies from Jerusalem to Illyricum, so now they could resist evil and false doctrine. The Greek world was Christianised: others might build, but Paul’s work was done. He had learnt to work wherever God called him to do so. Now the Latin world was before him, starting with Rome.

But now he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. His apostolic ministry finished, he undertakes a diaconal service to Jerusalem. He certainly did not fulfill his mission as intended (See v.31). Indeed his fears as to what might happen in Judaea are stated in verses 30-32 [and more so in Acts 20:22].

God would not allow Latin Christianity to have an apostolic foundation. There were already Christians in Rome. We do not know who founded the Roman assembly – there is no evidence that it was Peter. There had been no wise master-builder: Christianity founded itself there. He came to Rome as a prisoner after two years’ captivity in Caesarea; then he remained two years captive in his own house in Rome. Now the history closes.

As far as we know Paul never went to Spain. Subsequent history may be inferred from 2 Timothy and other scriptures. This in no way affects the moral or ecclesiastical bearing of any of the epistles.

The close of Paul’s service is deeply affecting. He was so like his Master, though at a distance. He had worked with energy and exercise. There were failures because of the materials with which he, like the Lord had to use. Nevertheless, despite the materials, God’s ultimate purpose was accomplished. Compare Rom 15 with Acts 20:29-33 and Isaiah 49:4-6.

In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

 

Darby on Romans 14:1-15:7 – The Spirit in which Christians should Behave towards one another

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

RomeIn Romans 14, we have the spirit in which Christians should behave towards one another. There are those who are weak in faith, not fully in the light and power of new creation. They love the Lord; they have been purchased by Christ’s precious blood. but like a Jew they observe days and diet. That is weakness. So we are to receiving such in grace, not doing anything which could unsettle their faith. If the heart is pure, no meats are defiled meats – ‘To the pure all things are pure’ (v.20) . But if a person defiles his conscience, even through an unfounded scruple to him, it is unclean. If somebody normally felt he should regard a certain day, or abstain from a certain food, but does not in order to feign liberty, that is sin – it is not of faith .

Each stands or falls to his own Master, and God is able to make both the weak and the strong stand. Every one is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, not acting on another’s faith. Each is responsible to the Lord and must look to Him. We are to be peaceful edifying others.

The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).

Romans 15:1-7 belong to chapter 14. The strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak, and, like Christ, not to please themselves. He meekly bore the reproaches that fell on Him, walking so faithfully and perfectly that, when men were disposed to reproach God, the reproach fell on Christ.   ‘The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me’ (v. 3, Ps 69:9). The Old Testament scriptures were written for our instruction, so that we might know that God’s mind.  Our reproach is His reproach, as we serve and have part with Him in faith and confidence. It is the path of love, serving others for Christ’s sake. But God is patient, bearing with our stupid, ignorant, and often inconsistent hearts. He occupies Himself with all our little trials to comfort us in grace. So have we receive one another as Christ received us – weak in faith – that we might be here to the glory of God. This closes the exhortations of the epistle.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 13 – Obey the Civil Authorities

n Romans 13, Paul exhort the Christians in Rome to be subject to the civil authorities, ‘the powers that be’. Civil power is of God, so where there is power, it must be of God; I own God and the authorities. Resisting them is resisting God’s ordinance. They are God’s ministers to maintain order. So we pay our bills and taxes, thus fulfilling the law.

Rome

In Romans 13, Paul exhort the Christians in Rome to be subject to the civil authorities, ‘the powers that be’. Civil power is of God, so where there is power, it must be of God; I own God and the authorities. Resisting them is resisting God’s ordinance. They are God’s ministers to maintain order. So we pay our bills and taxes, thus fulfilling the law..

Paul reminds us of the Lord’s coming: ‘It is high time to awake out of sleep; for our salvation is nearer than when we believed’ (v.11). In the busy and pleasure-seeking course of this world, it is still night – the world is asleep (The night is far spent, the day is at handv.12). But for us, the day has dawned; the Morning Star has risen in our hearts. As godly persons, we have done with works of darkness – we walk honestly in the light. We still have to face conflict, but our armour is the light we walk in. Hence we detect and foil the weapons and snares of darkness. Our ways bear the character of Him who is the true light, the Lord Jesus Christ. Having the hope of being like Him, we purify ourselves as He is pure, and we walk as He walked. (See 1 John 3:3, 2:6). The Christian is looking for Christ’s coming to bring the light and day of God to this dark and benighted world.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 12- A Living Sacrifice

Having been set free in the power of the Spirit of life, we voluntarily present our bodies living sacrifices to God. It is not a blind ritual ceremony, nor a legal obligation, but the free service of a willing mind. We offer our minds and bodies intelligently to God, consecrated and set apart: this is acceptable to God. Because we are alive to God in Christ, and through grace free from the law of sin and death we can yield ourselves to God

RomeHaving been set free in the power of the Spirit of life, we voluntarily present our bodies living sacrifices to God. It is not a blind ritual ceremony, nor a legal obligation, but the free service of a willing mind. We offer our minds and bodies intelligently to God, consecrated and set apart: this is acceptable to God. Because we are alive to God in Christ, and through grace free from the law of sin and death we can yield ourselves to God.

 

The world around is an immense system built up by the enemy, astray from God., As Christians, we cannot be conformed to it. With our renewed minds, we seek a way through this world in the path of God’s will. It may not acceptable to us, but it is acceptable to God. What a great privilege it is, to have the will of God in a world that has departed from Him! Christ has revealed the way, a heavenly way on the earth, walking with divine perfectness as Man. It was a life of perfect obedience, and a life of grace – God manifest in the flesh. Now, in grace, God has been fully restored to His place, and man to his, so as to represent God. Now we seek God’s will, knowing that it is perfect, and we obediently delight in it.

 

We do so firmly, because we is serve God quietly in faith. We find our place that God has set us in the body, and confine ourselves to the service of Christ, waiting on Him. Verse 5 is the only reference to the body in the epistle. We are in Christ, members of His body, exhorted not to go beyond the gift given to us in grace, but to serve the Lord in it.

 

In our Christian life, we have the spirit in which we are to walk. If we give, it should be in love, freely and unfeigned. We are to abhor evil and cleave to what is good. We should put others before ourselves, seeking to live in peace with all.   We should not follow the fashions of the world, but be friends with those of lower social classes. Our walk ought to be beyond reproach. In spite of the evil of others, we do not avenge ourselves but do good to those who hate us.

This is the characteristic Christian walk.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 9-11 – What about the Jews?

God’s covenant to take away Israel’s sins is sure. It will be accomplished when Christ comes. The final restoration of Israel will be on the ground of the promises made to the fathers, not through the law, but with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel had rejected Christ: therefore they became objects of mercy, just like the Gentiles. As the Gentiles had been unbelieving, mercy had been the only ground of their entering. Now the unbelieving Jews had were also objects of God’s sovereign mercy.

Grace had dealt with sinners, and wisdom had reconciled God’s faithfulness to His promises, with the heirs of those promises, through their coming under mercy. This calls out the adoring praise of the apostle in contemplating the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God

Rome

Romans 9

 

Romans 9-11 reconciles the doctrine that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, with the faithfulness of God and the promises made to Israel. The Jew might acknowledge that he had broken the law and had forfeited his right of being God’s favoured people. But there were promises made to Israel before the law: these could not be set aside. Paul shows that although God had not cast aside His people, the Jew would have to come into blessing as a guilty sinner, entitled to nothing, just like a Gentile.

There was still blessing for the Jew – Paul was one. Even Christ Himself, according to the flesh, came from Judah. But not Israel were of Israel. Paul felt Israel’s state and had wished (past tense – see Rom 9:3 – Darby), like Moses to be cursed for his brethren. But now the apostle brings in the sovereignty of God.

This sovereignty (v. 24) God would use in favour of the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  ‘That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles’ (v. 23-24). This was sovereign, but it was sovereign mercy. For there to be sovereignty in mercy, there most have been evil – evil that could be pardoned. God showed this after Israel had made the golden calf: God had threatened to consume Israel and make a nation of Moses.   Moses’s interceded and appealed to God’s sovereignty. God was sovereign; He could use mercy, and He did. He said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ (v. 13, Ex 33:19).   Righteousness was not attained by man’s willing or running, but by God’s showing mercy when man was unrighteous.   Both Israel and Pharaoh were wicked. Righteousness would have condemned both, but God had mercy on one, and hardened the other. This is sovereignty. How can man reply to God?

 

We see the holy wisdom of God: as with the potter, who can make vessels to honour and dishonour out of the same lump. ‘God … endured the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory’ (v.22-23).   Paul forces the Jew to admit to God’s sovereignty, otherwise Ishmaelites and Edomites would have had to have been amongst God’s people, especially as, in making the calf, all Israel (except Moses and Joshua) had deserved to be cut off. Hence God sovereignty calls both Gentiles, who had no title, and Jews, who had forfeited their title. Though the Gentiles were not looking for righteousness, they found the righteousness of faith; but Israel, without faith, followed after the law of righteousness. They stumbled at the stumbling-stone, which Isaiah had declared would be laid in Zion. Individually those of Israel who believed should not be ashamed; but as a body, they had stumbled at the stumbling-stone.

 

 

Romans 10

 

Paul desired the salvation of Israel. He testified to their zeal towards God, a zeal not according to knowledge. They had sought to establish their own righteousness under the law, but had not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. That was Christ, and Christ was the end of the law (He takes its place). As we have seen in ch. 7, the Jews could not have two husbands at the same time; they could not have the law (their own doing) and Christ (God’s righteousness). Christ has met the legal claims of God – condemnation and death – and He is our righteousness, as we believe through grace.

 

The righteousness which is by faith speaks differently from the law. ‘If thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved’ (v.9): the real question is the salvation of the sinner, not the keeping of the law. ‘Whosoever [Jew or Gentile] shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (v.13). Christ is the hope of the nations as well as the Jews.

 

This brings out the relative position of Jew and Gentile. God’s proclamation of grace to Israel was clear in the Old Testament, for which he quotes ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings’ (Isa 52:7). But not all obeyed the testimony. ‘Who hath believed our report?’ (Isa 53:1).   The report (God’s word) had gone out to the whole world, and was received in faith. So the Gentiles were also objects of God’s testimony and Israel was aware of this.

  • Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world (Ps 19:4).
  • I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (Deut 32:21)
  • I was found of them that sought me not. (Isa 65:1)

When Israel was first established as a nation before God, Moses foretold they would foolishly and unwisely depart from Him as a people. The Gentiles would provoke them to anger. Grace had not been wanting, but there was no response. God had called in vain; the divorce had come. ‘Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?’ (Isa 50:1).

 

Romans 11

 

Was the rejection of Israel final? Surely not! Paul gives three proofs that the rejection was not final:

  1. A remnant would be owned now
  2. The Jews would be provoked to jealousy, because of the reception of the Gentiles
  3. The Redeemer would yet come to Zion and turn away ungodliness from Jacob, and so all Israel (not just the Jews) would be saved.

 

Some of Israel, such as Paul, were of the elect; the rest were blinded, having rejected Christ and stumbled at the stumbling-stone. Their fall for the salvation of the Gentiles. This is the second proof of their not being finally cast off. This lead the apostle to bring out the relative positions of Jew and Gentile as to promise in this world.

 

When, after the flood, men had cast off God to make themselves a name, God scattered men in judgment and formed them into nations. They gave themselves up to idolatry, but God called Abraham, and made him the root of a separate family with God’s promises according to the flesh, culminating by grace in Christ. Until then there had been no head of a race or a family. Adam was the father of sinners; Abraham was the father of the faithful. He was the root; the tree was Israel. Some of the branches had been broken off, and the Gentiles grafted in in their place. The root remained, and the Gentiles were grafted in among them, for they were not natural branches, but had their standing by faith.

 

The Gentiles were not to be high-minded, but fear. If God had not spared the natural branches, He would not spare the Gentiles, who were only grafted in. But the tree of promise remains, and the Jewish branches will be grafted in again into the olive. The Jewish system closed to let in the Gentiles. The Gentile system will close, to let the Jews back. God does not fail, of course, but accomplishes His own work of grace.

 

We do not have in Romans the mystery of Jew and Gentile brought into one new man – one body in Christ. This is not the church: there is no breaking off of the church. The Jews will not be grafted into the church, for it will already have been taken up into heavenly glory. Israel will be saved as a nation, which of course cannot be the case in the church, for there is neither Jew nor Greek in the church. The Gentile professing system (popery and infidelity) will be cut off – a solemn word and warning to Christendom.

 

God’s covenant to take away Israel’s sins is sure. It will be accomplished when Christ comes. The final restoration of Israel will be on the ground of the promises made to the fathers, not through the law, but with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel had rejected Christ: therefore they became objects of mercy, just like the Gentiles. As the Gentiles had been unbelieving, mercy had been the only ground of their entering. Now the unbelieving Jews had were also objects of God’s sovereign mercy.

 

Grace had dealt with sinners, and wisdom had reconciled God’s faithfulness to His promises, with the heirs of those promises, through their coming under mercy. This calls out the adoring praise of the apostle in contemplating the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.  Paul now turns to the practical consequences which should flow from the mercies of God.

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 8 – Our Place in Christ and Security through Him

‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (v. 31). God is for us, giving, justifying, and despite the difficulties, nothing shall separate us from His love – that is the great central truth of grace. He justifies us Himself – little matter who condemns us then!

So there may be difficulties, trials, and dangers in the way. Satan’s power against us, death, has been removed: therefore we more than conquer. Angels and powers – creature power or creature weakness – cannot separate us from the love of God. God is stronger than any creature; yet He who, as Man, went through everything, meeting the whole hostile power of death, secures us for glory against all opposition.

RomeThere are two things that Paul now assumes to be true of the Christian:

1. He is in Christ

2. The Spirit of God dwells in him.

His responsibility is something else.

Two passages describe the Christian’s blessing:

  1. Romans 5:1-11 – While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
  2. Romans 8 – There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus

Note that it is ‘those who are in Christ Jesus’, not ‘those for whose sins Christ died’. The latter are forgiven, justified and fully blest, but not in the enjoyment of their new standing as having died in the flesh, made alive to God in Christ. How could there be condemnation for those who are in Christ? It would be, so to speak, like condemning Christ.

In Christ we are on great and sure ground, the law of sin and death having lost its power. Instead the Christian has an inner spiritual or divine life, setting him free from the law of sin and death. Previously the deadly principle that ruled in him beforehand has no dominion. That is what he is before God in life.

Then why I am not condemned for me evil nature. It required the good, but provoked the sin.

The law:

1. Could not work good nor righteousness in me

2. Could not bring the question of flesh to an end before God

3. Could neither justify nor deliver me

4. Could not clear me before God of the evil that is in it

5. Could not hinder the flesh acting

6. Could not justify me while the flesh was there

7. Could not do the good it required.

Sin in the flesh has been condemned, because there can be no condemnation for one in Christ. My sins have been blotted out, but also the nature which produced them has been condemned, that is, sin in the flesh. The old man has been condemned to death, and the new man is alive. Having been set free, I walk after the Spirit, thus fulfilling the claim of the law – under grace. This is the true walk of the Christian in this world.

There are two natures, each with their respective objects:

1. The old nature in the flesh. The law fruitlessly forbade the old man’s desires as well as its acts. They that are after the flesh are governed by the things which that the flesh craves after. The mind of the flesh is death, enmity against God, resisting His authority. God comes in by law, asserts His authority and forbids lust; but the insubject, disobedient flesh loves its own lustful will and hates God.

2. The new nature under the power of the Spirit of God, the mind of the Spirit being life and peace. Such a one is not standing in the flesh, but in the Spirit, in liberty with God and free from sin – the fruit of redemption by Christ – of the ministry of righteousness and the Spirit. This characterises the Christian, and distinguishes him.

Christ has redeemed, justified, and cleansed us. The Holy Spirit makes us aware that we have a new place before Go – in His presence, accepted in Him, delivered and with no condemnation. This position belongs only to those who have the Spirit. Without the Spirit they do not have the proper Christian place, and do not belong to Him according to the power of redemption.

‘If Christ be in you, the body is dead, because of sin’ (v.10). If Christ is the power of life, the body, as far as will is concerned must be dead. Life must be by the Spirit, producing righteousness. This is the full answer to our being free from sin. Furthermore, our mortal bodies are quickened by the Holy Spirit.

In Rom 8, the Spirit is spoken of in three ways:

1. The Spirit of God, contrasted with flesh – man as he is

2. The Spirit of Christ, or Christ in us, formative of our practical state

3. The Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus, quickening our mortal bodies, giving us full liberty.

• Up to v. 11, the Spirit is presented as indwelling

• In v. 12-27, He is spoken of as a distinct and separate Person, acting on us and in us

• In v. 28-39, the Holy Spirit is for us, securing us in the blessing of God’s purpose.

The second part of the chapter is preceded by two practical verses (v.12- 13). ‘We are not debtors to the flesh.’ The flesh has no claim or title over us; It has done us all the evil it can, and has been condemned on the cross of Christ. We are dead to it, so we put to death the deeds of the body (See v. 18 Darby Translation).

Then from v.14, we are told, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God.’ God has brought us here by grace, through redemption and the Holy Spirit. We now know that we are sons of God, so we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. We do not examine ourselves – that would be a false, unscriptural and evil procedure, but we are in a conscious relationship, the Spirit giving us the confidence.

As God’s children, we are joint-heirs with Christ, He being the great heir and firstborn. But then our path is characterised by His mind and nature. He suffered and now is glorified as Man, so we suffer with (not for) Him – this is a special privilege. Walking in holy love and heavenly grace, He could but suffer in the midst of the sinful world that rejected His love. His Spirit must always have been grieved by the sin and sorrow that was all around Him. So as saints we suffer in measure with Him, ‘If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him’ (2 Tim 2:12). But the sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory.

There is a beautiful connection between the suffering and the glory. Through the dwelling of the Spirit in us, God gives us to know that we are His sons, and reveals the glory to us, despite our being in this world of sorrow. We are delivered, and in the liberty of glory – something we can be intelligent as to.

This is a general statement. What follows is our personal connection with it as Christians. Christians, having the mind of Christ, know that the world is groaning and travailing in pain through the fall. Meanwhile the flesh, our own included, is trying to improve it. We, being creatures, have to wait for the redemption our bodies, the final part of our actual adoption and salvation. The redemption of our bodies and the purchased possession go together: we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins, but the Spirit is the earnest (or entitlement) of our possession. It is in this sense we are saved in hope, and know that we have been sealed for the day of redemption – Jesus’ return. We look back to Christ’s finished work; we understand its value, and patiently look forward to Christ’s glorious second coming. Meanwhile our unredeemed bodies have been bought with a price; and we suffer with the One who suffered here.

Through our connection with a fallen creation, He takes part also in our infirmities. There is a mass of sorrow which we feel according to God by the Holy Spirit, for which we, in our weakness, do not know how we should pray, but we feel the evil in the world pressing on our hearts. The Spirit works so that our prayers are according to God’s will, making intercession for us. ‘The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’ (v.26). Thus He who searches the hearts, and scrutinises what is found there, does not find poor selfish feelings or complaints, but the mind of the Spirit. That is a wonderful privilege: as we see the glory and take part in it according to God, and we are through grace its voice.

But although we do not know what to pray for, we do ‘know that all things work together for good to them that love God’ (v. 28). God works in our favour, even though we do know not what to look for. Perhaps in the present state of things there is no remedy, but one thing is certain – God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him. There may be still sorrow, but in the sorrow we are blessed. We are called according to God’s purpose, and God orders everything for our good.

God works for us (not in us), and this is the third part of the chapter. We now have the counsel and favour of God – His own purpose. To set poor dying worms, in the same glory as the Son of the Father has nothing to do with responsibility, It is God’s Man sovereignty. If through grace we love God, it was because we have been sovereignly called according to His purpose. We have been foreknown and predestinated to a glory which was in God’s mind and counsels before the world began. We are ‘conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.’ (v. 29).

In Romans, the instruction does not go beyond the individual, even in speaking of the purpose of God. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, that He may be the firstborn among many brethren. Our sins and our sin were met on the cross – this is surely sovereign grace.

‘As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly’ (1 Cor 15:49). He ‘shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body’ (Phil 3:21). Could we conceive anything more glorious, more blessed, than to be conformed to the image of God’s Son – to see Him as He is – and to be like Him?

The Spirit confirms the security of those whom God has perfectly predestinated to be sons, according His purpose, will and counsel. ‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us by Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:7). He called us, justified us, and brought us to perfection in His plan – He glorified us. It is not as yet completed historically, but it is all one unbroken chain with God.

From this is derived – ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (v. 31). God is for us, giving, justifying, and despite the difficulties, nothing shall separate us from His love – that is the great central truth of grace. He justifies us Himself – little matter who condemns us then!

So there may be difficulties, trials, and dangers in the way. Satan’s power against us, death, has been removed: therefore we more than conquer. Angels and powers – creature power or creature weakness – cannot separate us from the love of God. God is stronger than any creature; yet He who, as Man, went through everything, meeting the whole hostile power of death, secures us for glory against all opposition.

He intercedes for us: ‘It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.’ (v. 34). As the exalted Man; He is interested in us and intercedes for us, so we find our needed help and mercy. What can separate us from His love? In v. 39, it is the divine, supreme, and immutable love of God in Christ – stronger than anything that might separate us from this love.

Romans does not proceed into God’s counsels and privileges connected with the establishment of Christ’s glory as Head (that is Ephesians); but it reveals our standing by the word of God and the Holy Spirit’s reasoning.

This closes the doctrine of the epistle, carrying us on personally to glory – surely this is high and blessed enough!

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

 

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Darby on Romans 7 – Released from the Law

That law as applied to the inward man.
That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
That it is too strong for me.
So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

RomeIn Romans 7 we have the distinction between a soul under law, and a soul in life with a risen Christ. We have the soul’s experience being quickened and renewed in its desires and delights, but not knowing deliverance. It does not understand that it has died with Christ, and is now connected with another – Christ risen from the dead. The description of the deliverance follows, and we have the condition of the delivered soul in Romans 8.

Having been crucified with Christ, we are free from law. The law has power over a man as long as he lives. This is illustrated by the case of marriage, and the law or bond of husband and wife, which lasts evidently as long as one lives, and no longer; the survivor is free to be to another when the other is dead.

We are delivered, being dead to the law, by the body of Christ. (See v.4). Death puts an end to our legal obligations, but of course we have not died actually: Christ has died for us.   Now we are united to Him in resurrection, so we can bear fruit to God in the power of life.

Because Christ has died, we do not stand before God as Adam’s children. We can therefore say, ‘when we were in the flesh’ (v.5); clearly we could not say that if we were still in it. When we were in the flesh, and hence the law, our sinful acts brought forth fruit unto death. If a child is told that something is forbidden, he or she is apt to desire it even more. A disobedient child only pushes harder against the obstacle opposed to him. This leads to actual sin unto death.

Romans 6 gave us the doctrine of our old man being crucified with Christ. Romans 7 gives are connection as children of Adam with law and our But deliverance from it. As life in which we were connected with the law has ended, the bond which attached us to that life does not exist any more. Instead, we are connected with a risen Christ, serving in the newness of spirit, not in the legal oldness of letter. We cannot have two husbands at once.   Christ, not the law, is now our life and husband, and we have power to bring forth fruit to God, something that the sinful flesh could never have. We just cannot have the law and Christ together.

The law does not condemn our nature or treat us as lost, but it does make us conscious of our state – what we are. Was it the fault of the law, that sin had dominion over us? No, it was sin and lust, and these things were condemned by the law. Sin deceived us, and killed us. The law said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ (v. 9) We may not be criminals – we have not murdered, stolen, or committed adultery; but who of us has never lusted, or coveted? If we claimed not to have lusted, we would be saying that we were not children of Adam. It is important to stress that we are not speaking of sinful acts, but of our sinful state; not forgiveness of sins, but of deliverance from sin. It is not what we have done, but what we are. We discover the sinful source in us – that there is no good there – a humbling discovery! We cannot make a child of Adam good, he has to be born again.

Because of the law, we have the knowledge of sin: without it, sin was dead. When the commandment came, I felt my guilt, and death came upon my conscience. I was a living child of Adam, unconscious of sin, but when the law of God forbade lust, my conscience was affected, and I died under its judgment. Whereas the law said to me, ‘Do this and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:28), I took up the law, thinking I had power to be good and righteous by it. I could not, as sin showed itself to be in opposition to, and in transgression of, God’s holy, just, and good will. So the law killed me.

We now have the expression ‘οἴδαμεν γὰρ – We know’ (v.14). This is a technical expression for the Christian’s knowledge. I have learnt:

  1. That law as applied to the inward man.
  2. That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
  3. That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
  4. That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
  5. That it is too strong for me.

I cannot do what I want to do – indeed, I do not know how to do it. I desire to do what is right, but good never comes. That is not the Christian state.

But I have light from God. The law is spiritual but I am carnal, a slave to (or sold under) sin. I consent to the law that it is good; I have knowledge of sin, but I do what I hate.

But, thank God for His grace: I have a new man, a new life, and I can treat sin as a stranger, even though it dwells in me. Now the renewed man comes out – the positive will to do good – I delight in the law of God in the inner man – that is more than consent. But still I have no power: I cannot do good. There is another law in my members, a constantly operating power of evil bringing me into captivity, even though against my will.

Poor wretched man! But (immense advantage) I know it. I know my real state: I know there is no good in my flesh, and that I have no power. I am just like the poor man at the pool of Bethesda: he desired to be healed, but did not have the strength to get healed. (See John 5). So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The difference in me is immense. The power of the flesh has broken, and I have no thought of being in the flesh before God. Even though the evil flesh is still there, I am not in Romans 7 any longer. Christ has set me free. ‘So, then, I myself with the mind serve the law of God; with the flesh, the law of sin(v.25). This leads me to Rom 8:1, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8 develops this further.

A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans