Confusion as to the Church – – The House and the Body

People confuse what Christ builds with what man builds, physically and metaphorically. Christ said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that He would build the Church and that the gates of hell (Satan’s deadly power) would not prevail against it. Resurrection was the proof of that. Peter’s confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (v. 16), was the rock on which Christ would build his church. Peter was the first stone in importance, but he was not the builder.

 

Based J. N. Darby: The Church – the House and the Body – Collected Writings Volume 14 (Ecclesiastical 3) p 91

 

JohnNelsonDarbyThe word ‘church’ means different things to different people:

  1. The Established Church (in Britain the Church of England)
  2. Those who are enrolled members by baptism etc.
  3. The buildings
  4. What is being built spiritually
  5. The clergy
  6. The congregation
  7. Christendom in general
  8. The body of Christ here
  9. What the Lord will present to Himself without spot or blemish

 

Baptism and the Church

No 2, above (enrolled members), is at the base of Romanism and much of Protestantism.  A person becomes a Christian by being baptised into the church, whether as an adult or a young child.  It is taught that one is saved because one is a member of the church, not that one is a member of the church because one is saved.   Immediately after Pentecost, of course, everybody in the church were true believers.  But soon the likes of Simon Magus got in, and introduced formality and other Jewish sacraments.  They may have been baptised and enjoyed the privileges of the church.  But they did not have eternal life, and were not members of the body of Christ.  As described in the epistle of Jude, they were ‘ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude v 4).

To say we are members of Christ by baptism is a falsification of the truth of God.   Alas, many of the early Church fathers, such Justin Martyr, Origen, Clement and later Augustine, espoused this heresy.  They may have been clear as to the Person and divinity of Christ, but they regarded the outward body as the Church, and its privileges was attributed to all who were baptised.  This has continued.  The (Anglican) Book of Common Prayer says ‘baptism wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven’.

Much of this confusion comes about by taking what the Lord said literally when in fact He was talking figuratively.  He could say, ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1), ‘I am the door’ (John 10:7), etc.  He is not a vine nor a door.  The outward act is confused with true life from God.  Life and membership of Christ are by the Holy Spirit.  We are born of the Spirit, and by one Spirit baptised into one body (see 1 Cor 12:13).

Man fell and was driven away from God.  If there is to be a remedy, there must be new birth.   We are born of God and receive the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.   As we become conscious of the sinfulness of the flesh, and say ‘O wretched man that I am!’ (Rom 7:24),   we need a change of place, position or standing – reconciled to God.  Baptism is that change of place.

We are baptised to His death, buried with Him unto death.  Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, therefore we are alive, risen and quickened together with Him.  Death has totally taken us out of our old place; we have died out of it, as Christ died out of the world  we are alive with Him –   walking in newness of life (see Romans 8).

The Lord’s Supper

There were many sacraments in Judaism.  Some have been carried over into the public church, whereas only two are scriptural.  We have looked at baptism.  The other scriptural sacrament, the supper, demonstrates the unity of the body.  The Lord’s supper is received in common – the assembly or Church participate.  Hence we have (Eph. 4:4-5), ‘one Spirit, one body, one hope of your calling’ (belonging to the Spirit and spiritual persons, and), ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (the outward profession of faith and the recognition of Christ as Lord).  Again there is a misinterpretation here: partaking of the Lord’s supper involves eating Christ’s flesh and drinking Christ’s blood.  The true meaning of that is lost.  (I hope to address this in a later article – see Address to his Roman Catholic brethren by a minister of the Gospel. and Second Address to his Roman Catholic brethren).

 

What is being Built

See Nos 3 & 4, above.   People confuse what Christ builds with what man builds, physically and metaphorically.   Christ said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that He would build the Church and that the gates of hell (Satan’s deadly power) would not prevail against it.  Resurrection was the proof of that.  Peter’s confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’  (v. 16), was the rock on which Christ would build his church.  Peter was the first stone in importance, but he was not the builder.  In his epistle Peter addresses other stones coming to Jesus, ‘To whom coming, a living stone disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 2:4).  They come by faith and are built up.  There are no human rules or ordinances; there is no literal building, only faith.  Man’s building has no part in this.  And nothing prevails against it.

Paul amplifies this, developing the doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ.   But Paul does not build either.   He says, ‘Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord’ (Eph 2:21-22).  Only in Corinthians, where it is a matter of responsibility, does he write about our building.   ‘Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon’ (1 Cor 3:10).  Wood, hay and stubble are not compatible with gold, silver and precious stones.  Man’s work will be burned up; Christ’s work never will.

Puseyism, the high church movement, does not distinguish between the perfect building which Christ builds, where living stones grow to a holy temple in the Lord, and what man has built and continues to build.  The professing church may have a good foundation, but its superstructure is questionable.  It has been built of wood and stubble, which will be burned up in the day of judgment.  Those who corrupt the temple of God dishonour Him by assuming that what they build has His seal of approval – in effect that God sanctions evil – what wickedness!   That is why Paul writes, ‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Cor 3:17).

Paul tells us in 2 Tim 2 what our path should be.  But that is another subject[*].   May we distinguish between those admitted by baptism and the body, and between the Church which Christ builds, and the sham that man builds.   All man has put his hand to has failed.  But God has put His hand in first, by the Man who never fails.

 

 

[*] See:

Simplified Darby – Separation from Evil and Christian Unity – Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity

Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom – The Faith once delivered to the Saints

What will it be when all life’s toil is finished, And we have entered our eternal rest

What will it be when all the strife is over,
And all Thy saints, now scattered far and wide,
Shall be without one shade of variation,
All like Thee, Lord, united by Thy side!

1 What will it be when all life’s toil is finished,
And we have entered our eternal rest;
When past for ever is the night of weeping,
And with Thee, Lord, we are for ever blest!

2 What will it be when all the strife is over,
And all Thy saints, now scattered far and wide,
Shall be without one shade of variation,
All like Thee, Lord, united by Thy side!

3 What will it be when sorrow’s day is ended,
And pain and grief for ever pass away;
When with Thee, Lord, we share the bright forever,
In perfect peace throughout the perfect day!

4 What will it be? – In blest anticipation
E’en now our hearts outpour in praise to Thee;
But when we see Thee face to face in glory,
Then purer, sweeter, shall our praises be.

Anne Ross

Little Flock Hymn Book (1962/1973) No 421.

 

 

The Lord’s Second Coming and the Church’s Witness

The Lord’s first coming: He came in flesh, but only those who received Him knew Him, and that through the Spirit.
His second coming: He is seen by all.
Hence His first coming was really a spiritual one; the true coming will be the second.

Based on J. N. Darby: The Lord’s Coming and the Church – Notes and Comments Vol. 2, p 275.

JohnNelsonDarbyTwo comings:

  1. The Lord’s first coming: He came in flesh, but only those who received Him knew Him, and that through the Spirit.
  2. His second coming: He is seen by all.

Hence His first coming was really a spiritual one; the true coming will be the second.

Although in His first coming He came in the flesh, He was only known spiritually.   No man could come to Him, except the Father who had sent Him draw him (See John 6:44).   He said to them,  ‘The words that I speak unto you they are Spirit and they are Life’ (John 6:63).  So those who heard, believed and kept His word had everlasting life: their eyes were opened by to see Him through the Father’s grace.  They were taught of God and knew who He was – the Son.  Others saw His miracles, but He would not commit Himself to them – He spoke in parables.

The real personal coming of the Lord Jesus is His second coming.  It will not be merely a revelation to believers, but ‘every eye shall see him, they also which pierced him’ (Rev 1:7).  His, the Son’s, glory will be known.

Christ is now in glory.  That is how the church knows Him now.  If the church denies this, it ceases to be the church: the ground of its very existence has ceased – it has ceased to exist in the sight of God.  Although salvation may be taught in a casual way, there is not faith as a church and the Spirit has no office in it, for His office is to testify of Jesus and His glory.   Even if the church suffers, that suffering is for nothing because it is joined to the world – it has ceased in its true existence.  The same applies to individuals, even evangelicals, who deny the Spirit’s voice witnessing His glory.

Nevertheless, God has not left Himself without witness.  We may be all mixed up, with our errors, weaknesses, and even unbelief.  But the witness in the true church has not ceased to exist.  Competent members of the church acknowledge of the power of reconciliation in Christ, and the testimony of the Word of God.  They believe it, submitting to God, and know the presence of the Holy Spirit, looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus. They are they the glory and hope of the church.  Here is a church with faith – held in humility.

May God our Father keep us humble, holy in spirit and conversation giving us grace, patience, and that of faith.  May we and lean in faith upon His word in the certainty of His love, qualifying us for His glory, forgiving us our weakness for Jesus sake, our Lord, and in Him.

 

 

Bishops – How did they come about?

The concept of local bishops developed in the second century of the church. This led eventually to popery and the subsequent corruption of Christendom. There is no basis for episcopy in scripture, and no evidence of it in apostolic times.

In his paper, ‘Episcopacy: What ground is there in Scripture or History for accounting it an Institution of God?’ (Collected Writings vol. 20 – Eccesiastical 4 – page 307), J N Darby looks back over Christian history, and sees how the early fathers accepted it as an institution. It seemed prudent at the time, maintaining orthodoxy, but it was a human institution whilst claiming to be an institution of God. By the end of the second century, the position of a single person as president of a local assembly was well established, and the church had become organised. How this originate, and who originated it?

JohnNelsonDarby

The concept of local bishops developed in the second century of the church.  This led eventually to popery and the subsequent corruption of Christendom.  There is no basis for episcopy in scripture, and no evidence of it in apostolic times. 

In his paper, ‘Episcopacy: What ground is there in Scripture or History for accounting it an Institution of God?’  (Collected Writings vol. 20 – Eccesiastical 4 – page 307), J N Darby looks back over Christian history, and sees how the early fathers accepted it as an institution.  It seemed prudent at the time, maintaining orthodoxy, but it was a human institution whilst claiming to be an institution of God.  By the end of the second century, the position of a single person as president of a local assembly was well established, and the church had become organised.  How this originate, and who originated it?

Paul established Elders or Overseers

Respect for a position of authority is right, and natural.  But if a bishop becomes an object of veneration, God’s authority is set aside.  Superstition and error replaces the truth that sanctifies.  The prestige associated with the position detracts from the glory of the Lord Himself.

In scripture bishops, overseers and elders (Greek ἐπίσκοπος/episkopos[*]) are the same thing, depending on the translation (Acts 20:17; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7).   Anther word used for an elder in Greek is (πρεσβύτερος/presbuteros*), such as those elders appointed in Acts 14.

There is no evidence that there was a single prelate in churches in Paul’s times.  If there was one anywhere Paul neglected them and charged several to exercise eldership in the church.  Tradition says that Timothy was Bishop of Ephesus, and Titus Bishop of Crete, but this has no basis in scripture.  They were companions of Paul, who sent them to fulfil special services.  Peter, despite being claimed by Roan Catholics to have been Bishop of Rome, had the same view.  He spoke about  ‘the elders which are among you’ (1 Peter 5:1).  The nearest thing we have is James (brother of the Lord?) in Jerusalem.   Whilst he was right in Acts 15, he clearly had a great influence amongst the Jewish Christians, but not always a happy one.  Even then there is no hint of primacy in the Epistle of James.

 

Clement of Rome and Polycarp followed Paul

Likewise, Clement of Rome (d. AD99) knew of no single person leading a church.  He wrote, ‘So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.   And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith’ (1 Clement 42:4-5)[†].

Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155) also did not recognise bishops in the current use of the word.  He referred to one going astray as a presbyter (Polycarp 11:1).   Ignatius of Antioch addressed Polycarp as bishop (Ignatius 1:1), and in his writings used the term as distinct from the elders.  Hence we deduce that recognised local bishops, but not regional or diocesan bishops, as those to whom believers should be subject.

 

Historians and those who supported Bishops

Other late first and early second century writers, such as Barnabas (probably not the Barnabas of scripture) and Hermas, do not refer to bishops.  It was not till the end of the second century their existence as presidents of churches became regarded generally.  Early historians such as Tertullian, Hegessippus and Iranaeus alleged that prelates had existed since apostolic times, making lists of them.  They had no authority for this.

Iranaeus was fighting the gnostics, who taught that Christ was neither God nor Creator.  However he drew on tradition rather than scripture with many historical inaccuracies such as saying that Peter and Paul founded the church in Rome, whereas we know, it was well established before any apostle went there.  He wrote that Paul called over the bishops of the cities around Miletus as well as the elders, and also gave a list of Bishops of Rome up to AD189[‡].  Other historians gave inconstant variants of this list, casting much doubt on their reliability.   Doubtless all of those named from Linus onwards were in Rome at various times, but they did not act as bishops.  Sometimes one would preside over a gathering, sometimes another.

Darby went on to illustrate the confusion by citing many other contradictory writings.  For example, Clement of Alexandria alleged that John, after his release from Patmos, appointed clergy (κλήρων/kleron  – or holders of a lot) in the various churches of Asia.  One went as far as saying that Christ had ordained his brother, James, to be bishop of Jerusalem, having committed His throne on earth to him!

 

Conclusion

Our conclusion must be that scripture refutes episcopy.  If a republic appointed a monarch, it would cease to be a republic.  So the appointment of a single prelate in an assembly changes the nature of the assembly.  This happened in the latter part of the second century and it was not of God.

 

Summary, some footnotes and references to translated texts of Clement and Polycarp by Sosthenes.

June 2016

 

[*] Strong defines ἐπίσκοπος/episkopos/Strong 1985 as (used as an official title in civil life), overseer, supervisor, ruler, especially used with reference to the supervising function exercised by an elder or presbyter of a church or congregation.  Properly an overseer is a man called by God to literally ‘keep an eye on’ His flock (the Church, the body of Christ), i.e. to provide personalised (first hand) care and protection.  It is a masculine noun, derived from ἐπί/epi/Strong 1909on; which intensifies σκοπός/skopos/Strong 4649 watcher’. Pρεσβύτερος/presbuteros/Strong 4245) is defined as a mature man having seasoned judgment or experience.  Whichever word is used it is clear that there are several elders in any assembly.

[†] Despite what the Catholics say, Clement did not claim to be Bishop of Rome.  Of course writings by Clement and other early fathers have no scriptural authority, and indeed may not be in accord with scripture.

[‡] Paul and Peter (to AD68), Linus (68-80), Anencletus (80-92), Clemens (92-101), Evarestus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherus.  Eusebius also gave some dates.  Other historians give variants of this list.

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘Episcopacy: What ground is there in Scripture or History for accounting it an Institution of God?’  (Collected Writings vol. 20 – Eccesiastical 4 – page 307)

April 2016

Worshipping God

 

JohnNelsonDarbyMany Christians have only a vague notion as to worship. They may have turned from clerical formalism with its superstitious rituals, but they do not have a true understanding of what worship is. What, then, is it?

Worship is the honour and adoration rendered to God, by reason of what He is in Himself, and what He is for those who render it. Worship proceeds in heaven, and we have the privilege of entering into it here collectively. In doing so we have joy and blessing, our hearts feeling and responding to God’s love. We love Him in return.

Of course an isolated individual can worship, but not in its fullest sense. He or she can bless God for His goodness. But it needs more than one person for true worship.

 

What is, and what is not Worship

  • A testimony respecting God and His grace is not worship.
  • Preaching the gospel to the unconverted is not worship.
  • A sermon is not worship.
  • Prayers addressed to God as to our need are not worship.
  • Referring to God’s glory, but not addressing Him is not worship.

The gospel might produce worship for it is God’s testimony to man. No Christian worship could exist without it, for the gospel makes known the God who is to be adored. The Holy Spirit leads the soul into the state in which it is able to render true homage to Go in spirit and in truth.  It is sweet to rehearse, one to the other, the excellences of Him whom we love with God Himself in our thoughts.

But in worship Christians delight to address themselves to Him.

  • They to speak to and converse with Him, adoring Him personally.
  • They speak to God of His attributes and acts.
  • They open their hearts to Him, to tell Him that they love Him.
  • They delight in their relationship and communion with Him.
  • They testify to His greatness and goodness.

In worship communion is between ourselves and God, and God is more precious to us than even our brethren. Our affections have a higher tone and communion is more complete.

As to Israel

The children of Israel worshipped God, but they could not draw near to Him. God had redeemed them out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm and had borne them as upon eagles’ wings, and had brought them even to Himself (See Ex. 19:4). God had promised that they should worship Him upon Mount Sinai, but it was amid thunders, fire, and the voice of a trumpet. Even Moses trembled.

Under the law God placed man in a position where he could bring forth fruit to His glory. He showed what man ought to be and blessed him if he was faithful and judged him if he was not. Under such circumstances God could not fully reveal His holiness and love. Either have had to tolerate iniquity, or banish those who sinned absolutely and eternally from His presence. So, under the law, God concealed Himself.

The people did not even enter into His house. The high priest alone went in once every year in order to carry in the blood of the ram and the bullock — the propitiatory victims — and to make reconciliation for the people with a God who could not endure iniquity. The people sought His protection, and worshipped Him for the benefits He conferred. This was a foreshadowing of Christian worship, but the principles of its exercise were totally different.

 

Christian Worship

It has all changed now. God has not changed, the revelation which He makes of Himself has. Although there is a light to which we cannot approach, He has revealed Himself in Christ.

Christianity is based upon an altogether new relationship between God and man. It was in God’s counsels before the world’s foundation, but it waited for the height of man’s enmity against God: Christ appeared, and man crucified Him!

Now if there is to be a relationship, all must be grace. If God’s goodness and grace is rejected there can only be judgment. This dark background throws into relief the perfection and brilliancy of grace.

Thank God, we are now occupied with grace. There is no longer any question of guilt between the worshipper and God. Christ has abolished it by His sacrifice. The work of Christ has provided the meeting-place between God and the sinner: love has free course, and we can enjoy all God’s blessings. We are reconciled to God and have been brought to enjoy a new relationship.

We have a striking expression of the consequence of the death of Christ in the rending of the veil of the temple. The holy of holies was hidden behind the veil, so no one could draw near to God. Who would dare to present himself before God if all guilt had not been removed? But the veil has been rent from the top to the bottom: now we can enter the most holy place freely. The stroke which rent the veil, smote the Son of God, when He took our sin upon Himself. He has cleansed our consciences by His perfect and eternal work. Hence we are able to enter the holiest joyfully and without spot.

The relationship of God to the Church is presented to us strikingly in the title ‘God of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ When God is called the God of any one, it indicates that a tie of intimacy. Christ is viewed as a man, the head of a new family, who has ascended to His God and our God. We see this truth in Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 Those who were ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph 2:1) are to know ‘what is the hope of the calling of God, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints’ (Ch. 1:18). We learn the true power and extent of that glory:the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places (v. 19-20). All that is His is ours – we have a place then in the presence of God! Even the glory that God has given Jesus, He has given to us, in order that the world may know that we are loved as He is. (See John 17:22-23).

 

The Holy Spirit

Another truth connected with the work of Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows, reveals, and communicates divine things to us. We are ‘strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man, in order that, being rooted and grounded in love, Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, and that we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fulness of God’ (Eph. 3:16-19). ‘That which eye hath not seen, which ear hath not heard, which came not into the heart of man — the things which God has prepared for him whom He loves — God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:9-10).

  • The Holy Spirit is “the unction” by which “know all things” (See 1 John 2:20).
  • He is the seal which God has put upon us unto the day of redemption
  • He gives us the full assurance of the efficacy of the work of Christ.
  • He imparts to us the knowledge that as cleansed by the blood of the Saviour, we are without spot in the God ‘s sight.
  • He reveals to us the glory of Christ as presented in the scriptures.
  • By the Holy Spirit, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.
  • He is the originator in us of all the thoughts and affections which respond to this love.
  • He gives us the consciousness of our union with Christ on high

But He is more than all this. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor 6:17). This is not merely an imagination; it is a fact. The same Spirit abides in us, and we are united to Christ as members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). The Spirit is not only the power of this union, but He gives us the consciousness of it. Christ is the Head of the body, so each Christian is a member of it, united by the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (See 1 Cor. 6:19), and believers as together as a whole, they form God’s temple and dwelling place (See 1 Cor. 3:16).

 

The Father

We must know the character of the Father in order to worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24). God is a spirit: but it is as the Father” that He seeks worshippers.

  • To worship ‘in spirit’ is to worship according to the true nature of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
  • To worship God ‘in truth’ is to worship Him according to the revelation which He has given of Himself.

This is in contrast to religious forms and ceremonies.

The Samaritans did not worship God in spirit or in truth. The Jews worshipped God in truth, according to their imperfect revelation but not in spirit. They did not know the gentle and loving name of ‘Father’. By contrast, we are in a position of freedom before a majestic God as the children of His love and sons by adoption. The Spirit, who is the spirit of adoption cries ‘Abba, Father.

The Christian, however simple, who understands the grace of God and has received the spirit of adoption, is entitled to enjoy all these privileges. Like a child, he or she does not reason things out, but knows, loves and enjoys its father’s love without describing it. This relationship is in Christ, and with Christ, He being ‘the first-born among many brethren’ (Rom 8:29). And we, who were formerly strangers, know that He is the only-begotten Son, the firstborn, the Eternal Son* of the Father, revealing His love to as He Himself knows it. [*]The feeblest Christian is therefore perfectly competent to worship.

  • We worship the God of glory, in whose presence we have confidence, not terror.
  • We worship the God of love and kindness, whose will it is that we should be perfectly happy in Him.
  • We worship our Father who blesses us with all spiritual blessing.
  • We worship our Father who knows all our present needs.
  • We worship Him for that which He is in Himself.
  • We adore God for that which He is to us, the children of His house for eternity.

But the effect of the presence of this ‘one Spirit’ goes much further. Not only does He give us the consciousness of being in Christ, He also gives us the consciousness of being ‘baptised into one body, (1 Cor. 12:13) – the body of Christ, and as such, ‘members one of another’ (See Eph 5:25). In the Church, which God has newly-created in Christ (the one new man), the redeemed worship in ‘the unity of the Spirit’. The Head has ascended up on high, in order that the members of the body may worship freely and joyfully before God, by the unction which is from Him.

 

Some practical Effects

God cannot admit sin into His presence, so only those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and who have received the Spirit, can draw near to God to worship Him. An unconverted man cannot please or worship God. He may pray for something and his prayer might be answered, God having tender compassion for him, as a poor sinner. However he does not yet know God, has not the Spirit, and is not washed in the blood of Christ. Therefore it is utterly impossible for him to worship God. If he thinks he can draw near to God, he is ignorant of what he is in himself, and of what the God is whom he thinks to serve. He does not have the Spirit, and is not of the body.

To enter into the sanctuary, we must be sanctified. Before entering, we might measure the value of the work of Christ by reference to our load of sin. But now, brought into communion with God, we taste the sweetness of His love, and value the work of Christ by the grace and love of God. Our consciences are set at liberty, free to draw near to God, by virtue of the efficacy of the work of Christ. We may be timid in drawing near, and need encouragement. But if we do not have a real knowledge of the efficacy of the work of Christ, we will be ill at ease in approaching God, because he will still have a guilty conscience.

Even if there are just two or three present, we can worship in common, because we are united in one body by the same Spirit. Each can say, ‘We’ in sincerity, when addressing God.

The two great elements of Christian worship are the presence of the Holy Spirit and the remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ. The Holy Spirit, who acts in the body, is the source and energy, of genuine worship. This is clearly established by 1 Corinthians 14: the assembly being formed as the body of Christ. The Spirit acts through spiritual men to express the love of the assembly. This is the way in which worship is rendered to God.

Our joy in the presence of God, worshipping Him in love is our eternal goal. Gifts will cease in heaven, and nobody will be ignorant or lazy. Worship will never cease.

 

The Value of the Cross

Instead of seeing the work of Christ as saved sinners, we contemplate its value according to God’s estimate – the greatness of Christ’s love for us. The death of Christ is of such value in God’s sight, as to constitute, so to speak, a new claim on the affections of His Father.  His confidence in God, devotedness, patience, love, obedience, submission and sacrifice united in the cross. It was for us He suffered all. Satan was overcome; death destroyed, the veil removed from before the presence of God, making us heirs who enjoy the love of God. This must lead us to worship. At the cross God was glorified, otherwise His glory could not have been fully displayed.

But we are not dazzled by the glory of the cross. Christ hung upon the cross for us. It is the expression of love stronger than death for us. He loved us to the end. In doing so, He undertook to render us happy in the presence of the Father. ‘I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’ (John 14:3).   He said, ‘With desire, I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer; for I will eat no more thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 22:15-16). As the passover was Israel’s memorial of the deliverance out of Egypt, so the supper is the memorial, not only of our deliverance, but of His love.

If Jesus attaches value to our remembrance to Him and produces deep affection in us, we can understand how the Lord’s supper is the centre of our worship. In the supper, united in one body, we show forth the Jesus’ death ‘until he come’ (1 Cor 11:26).   We recall the act in which the Saviour has testified His love in the most powerful way. Other activities – hymns and thanksgivings are grouped around it. The worshipper is thereby reminded of that which is the most precious of all things in the sight of God — the death of His beloved Son. We enter with spiritual affection into the perfection His work. ‘He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him’ (John 6:56).

The peace-offering and the passover present the most vivid images of the true character of the Lord’s supper. The peace-offering was a feast following a sacrifice, the partakers being God, the priest who officiated, the priests, the worshipper, and those who were with him.   In the passover, Israel fed on the sacrifice, the blood of which was their safeguard against judgment. This expresses the full satisfaction of God in the sweet odour of the work of Christ. Thus God Himself has His part in the joy, so has Christ: His joy is in our joy.

 

The Spirit’s Service

The Holy Spirit is the source and power of all true Christian worship. The unity of the body formed by Him, and in which He acts, necessarily holds a prominent place in the worship. The interceding presence of the Holy Spirit produces the consciousness of this unity. ‘We, [being] many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf’ (1 Cor 10:17 Darby). Jesus Himself is present in the midst, according to His promise. If the bread broken represents the broken body of Christ, the unity of the bread represents the unity of His spiritual body, embracing all the saints in love. We are united to them, wherever they may be, in the unity of the body of Christ. We have all the privileges which attach to it by reason of the love of Him who ‘nourishes and cherishes it’. Consequently, we have a sense of what we owe to God. We have received grace; now we desire to glorifying Him, expressing this in worship.

In the early days they broke bread in private houses, maybe daily. In Acts 20 it would appear that they broke bread on the first day of the week. It is clear from 1 Cor 10 that the supper was to be something special. They had been abusing it, and their lives reflected that. What sort of life should we be careful to lead in order to render suitable praise to God.

As there are two great subjects about which Christian worship is occupied, namely the love of God our Father, and the love of the Lord Jesus, seen in His work, and as Head of His body the Church. Those who give voice to worship will concentrate on different aspects. At times the Lord Jesus will be especially before the mind; at other times thoughts of the Father will be more present. The Holy Spirit alone can guide us in this; but the truthfulness and spirituality of worship will depend upon the state of those who compose the assembly. If the majority in the company are untaught and ‘babes in Christ’ then this will be reflected in what is said. Those with more experience depend on the Comforter — the Spirit of truth — for true united service to God, bringing in nourishment promoting spiritual growth. Nothing, however, is more simple or evident than the truth that the worship which is rendered should be the worship of all.

 

Hindrances

If there is evil in the company, or even in an individual, it will be felt in the service of worship. If a hypocrite is present, he will be a hindrance in the worship; but the unity will not be destroyed. If most have cultivated a delicacy of spiritual feeling, they will feel that the Holy Spirit has been grieved. If there is true spirituality and the Holy Spirit fills the assembly with His presence, evil of every kind is quickly discovered. God is a jealous God, and He is faithful. Fleshly pride loves to make much of a gift, claiming lordship over God’s heritage and arranging things humanly – this gets in the way of the free flow of worship. Likewise do narrow sectarian views.  Achan was discovered at the commencement of the history of Israel ; a single lie in Ananias came in in the beginning of the Church’s history – and what has happened since! May God make us humble, watchful, and true to Him with a sense of the efficacy of the work of Christ, in order, despite the failure, to render spiritual worship. Even with two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus, He is there as the joy and strength. The name of Jesus unites us.

There is another hindrance to worship. In Philippians 3:3 it says, ‘We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’ This is about the religion of the flesh, which is altogether as evil as its lusts, religiousness being one of them. Religion of the flesh does not tend to the glory of Jesus. It is occupied in good works, ethical conduct, outward piety and humility, talking of the love of God, but more of our love for God. In circumscision the flesh is cut off. We can judge these things if Christ is our all.  As in Deut 26, the worshipper professed aloud that it was God that had accomplished everything for him.

Another thing which marks carnal religion is that, it does not ‘seek those things which are above’ (Col 3:1). The soul that has truly learnt that he was dead in sins, and that the Saviour has come down and been made sin for him and has died and been raised up for him, knows in God’s sight just one sole thing – that God has placed His delight in Jesus.

We should not mingle carnal religion with that of the Spirit. The effort of the adversary, at the commencement of the Church, was, not to substitute the law and circumcision in the flesh, in place of Christ, but to add to it. Paul saw clearly, by the Spirit, that if this were admitted, everything would have been lost. Instead of being in Christ and happy in God’s presence by virtue of a completed work, man tries to find a way of making himself acceptable to God. May God grant us to have no confidence in the flesh, but to rejoice in Christ Jesus (See Phil 3:3).

 

Conclusion

Let us revert to the subject of collective worship. What a sweet and precious privilege it is to anticipate that which will be our eternal employ in heaven! There our worship will be perfect. There, all the Church, in its completeness, will be assembled to render worship in the midst of the general assembly on high. There, without distraction and without fear, worship will be the Church’s eternal joy in the perfect favour of God. What a privilege, even here below, to close the door for a moment upon all the distractions of this world, and by the Spirit to satisfy the desires of the heart in rendering to God the thanksgiving which He is worthy to receive, and which in His grace, He has breathed into our souls!

 

[*] There are those who might object to this expression. But I have no difficulty. He is Son; He is eternal. As Man he is that now. Scripture does not go into the relationship prior to the incarnation. See Heb 1:5, Acts 13:33 and Psalm 2:7.

Sosthenes

November 2015

For original see  On Worship

F E Raven: I am not a Member of any Company

Summary of a Reading on Matthew 13, Led by Frederick Raven

 

F E Raven

In Matt 13:31-46 we have two parables as to the kingdom of heaven, the mustard tree and the leaven.

 

The Mustard Tree

The mustard tree represents a conspicuous, hierarchical system. People shelter under it. It is a false kingdom, ruling over the kings of the earth, a religious system dominating the political, and its end is Babylon. Christ never intended the church to be like that, with clergy, sacramentalism and the like. When Christianity assumed a form and character which God never intended, it was morally a ruin.

 

The Leaven

The Leaven represents a mass corrupted by wrong doctrine and the adaptation of Christianity to human ideas. It is what the Colossians were warned of: ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ’ (Col 2:8). It is also like the fig tree in Matthew 21:19. The fig tree has been cut down for good: it represents man’s culture, and it is cursed.

 

Where we stand

Raven felt that we are apt to hanker after both of these, but we are to be apart from them morally. Every one who takes a place outside the great world order is a witness to the ruin, which has come upon Christianity as a whole. When asked whether our collective position is a witness to the ruin, Raven replied, ‘I do not understand a collective position. I do not mind who it is, it is anybody who calls on the Lord out of a pure heart… If you get two people walking in righteousness they will naturally be drawn together.’ Somebody in ‘Bethesda’ (Open Brethrenism) cannot be said to be in the fellowship of the truth. A lawless man cannot be a witness to the ruin, he is in the ruin. The mystery of lawlessness already works, and it is only as we are apart from it that we can be a witness to the ruin.

People speak about ‘our fellowship’. Our fellowship can only be the whole Christian fellowship. We must go on without any pretension or any idea of a ‘corporate witness’. We cannot claim to be an ecclesiastical company in any sense. When someone said, ‘We are in danger of becoming a tree,’ FER’s reply was, ‘Well, a small tree!’ I am sure that produced some smiles!

The truth is our bond. We are not an association of like-minded Christians operating on scriptural lines. As we stand aside and, through grace, we find others who are waiting too, and we can break bread together, not forming anything.

When asked whether there was any company who could act with authority, Raven answered ‘No!’ We cannot put away, we can only depart from evil. We cannot act as the assembly, only according to the principle of it. Two or three acting in Christ’s name cannot claim to be the assembly.

FER said ‘I cannot recognise a company. If I were asked to what company I belong, I should say, “To none”.’

 

Summary by Sosthenes

August 2015

The original reading is in ‘Ministry by F.E. Raven, Volume 15 – page 357’. This may be obtained from Kingston Bible trust or downloaded from www.goodteaching.org

 

Frederick Edward Raven

Frederick Edward Raven was born September 9, 1837 at Saffron Walden, Essex. His parents were active members of the Church of England. In 1865 when he was 28, FER left the Church of England and broke bread at the Priory meeting in north London, where J N Darby was also local.

Among other matters, FER’s valuable ministry opened up the truth as to eternal life and the Person of Christ – which made him the object of attack to this day.

He worked at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, becoming Secretary in 1873. It is understood that he was offered, but refused, a knighthood for services rendered to the British Admiralty.

Mr. Raven departed to be with Christ on Lord’s Day, August 16, 1903.

 

Source MyBrethren.org

 

 

 

 

How are we to regard other Christians

We are called to stand apart from what is evil. But how do we act practically when it comes to our fellow believers, whatever their background or history. I believe that there are several considerations.
1. Do what the Lord would have done
2. Glorify the Lord yourself
3. Cause others to glorify the Lord
4. Go by scripture
5. Do not cause offence
6. Do not get into a dangerous situation – physically, mentally or spiritually.

walking-in-assemblyA most important part of our Christian life is the testimony that we give to others, believers or not. As to other Christians, Paul tells us ‘Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves’ (Phil 2:3). That applies to all – to one strong in the faith and well taught, down to one who, though the Lord’s, is not even sure of salvation.

It has been said that Christians who seek to be faithful to the Lord should be the humblest people in Christendom, especially if they have been well taught, but have failed in their practical Christianity. The writer can look back to times when he has flaunted his superior knowledge of Christian doctrine and possibly the scriptures, giving the impression of being a ‘superior’, even if not a ‘better’ Christian. He was no better than a Pharisee in the Lord’s time, and even a hypocrite. Indeed, on occasions, he was rebuked by simple believers for what he said or did.

It is not for this booklet to say what one should, or should not do, whether as to general relationships or as to specific instances such as social, family or religious events. To do so would be legality. It will, I trust give the reader some thoughts to consider prayerfully before being confirmed as to what the Lord’s mind is. One of the scriptures that should be considered is 1 Cor 10:28, ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: … Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: … If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

Of course the guidance that Paul gives us in scripture is in relation to unbelievers. Our fellow believers are different, and it is wonderful if we can share our common appreciation of the Lord and God’s goodness with them, even if there are differences of interpretation and practice. In apostolic times there were no denominations or sects, as we know them today. But these thoughts should be relevant to all our relationships with our fellow human beings, believers or unbelievers.

We are called to stand apart from what is evil. But how do we act practically when it comes to our fellow believers, whatever their background or history. I believe that there are several considerations.

  1. Do what the Lord would have done
  2. Glorify the Lord yourself
  3. Cause others to glorify the Lord
  4. Go by scripture
  5. Do not cause offence
  6. Do not get into a dangerous situation – physically, mentally or spiritually.

The Lord’s actions are well known. He went to a wedding, and it was clear that the hosts did not appreciate whom He was. A tax gatherer was a ‘child of Abraham’ and when the Lord accepted his hospitality, He was criticised for it. ‘The Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them’ (Luke 15:2). Put simply the Lord socialised with others, but was totally undefiled by the environment.

We are told to do all things to the glory of God. That is a simple test. Can I glorify God in the company or place where I am invited? If so then I will affect others – wherever you are. On this line is the help I can be to others – practically as well as spiritually. We are told, ‘Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’ (Gal 6:10). Such help can take many forms.

Scripture does not give us rules, but 1 Cor 10 above is a guide. Some might ask, ‘Why would you be minded to go?’ I would be cautious about going to something religious, where I might be found in a position that I would find compromising. My friend or relative who invited me would understand it if you said, for example, ‘I do not feel I should go because I would be expected to take communion.’ But if I said, ‘I cannot go because the Christians I meet with don’t do this’, then I shouldn’t be surprised to receive the answer, ‘So you think you’re better than us!’   My friend could well have pre-conceived ideas of the sad history of the company I am with, and sees me as marked by the same attitude, even if less extreme than others. One is never going to help others as to the truth of the assembly if one behaves in a supeior way. It is not the Lord’s way. Do not give offence.

I can also give offence to those I meet with. I might feel free to go to something, but know that others would be offended. This is what Paul talked about in Romans 14. This was on the subject of vegetarianism, but it can apply to many situations. ‘Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ (v.13-16).

Finally we should not put ourselves in a situation where we might suffer harm – even in the company of other Christians. I guess in this I am mainly addressing myself to my younger brethren. Sadly there are able teachers who teach false doctrine. They might start with what is outwardly the gospel, but are really intent on getting a personal following ‘speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them’ (Acts 20:30) – you will find them calling for money, promising a better life here, telling you what to do to be a better person or a better Christian, or being carried away by emotional responses, not of the Holy Spirit. So if you are being invited to something like this (you can easily find out what they are like from the internet), you can respond with a polite, inoffensive, ‘No’. Your Christian friend will respect your feelings, especially if you can explain, using scripture, why you cannot go the way he or she would like you to go.

See that there be no one who shall lead you away as a prey through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the teaching of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ’ (Col 2:8 Darby).

 

 

Sosthenes

 

July 2015

Two or Three

It would be out of keeping with the Lord’s mind if we should assume to be the collective thing; it would not be according to the truth. We are on individual lines now, in the public aspect; but after all, the principles hold – they are always workable; and the “two or three” of Matthew answers our position. But if we lose sight of the whole church, failing to own the dreadful breakdown, we shall be only a sect, and we shall not have the Lord.

(J. Taylor New Series volume 29, p. 300)

 

Submitted as a Golden Nugget by:-

Saville Street Distribution
Venture, Princes Esplanade,
Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex CO14 8QD

J N Darby – French Letter No. 151 – A good State in an Assembly leads to Restoration

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

 

151

Plymouth – 25th August 1846

To Mr Foulquier

We are happy here, thanks be to God; the brethren are quite peaceful and make progress. It has seemed to me that, in the exercise of discipline, we have not given the first place enough to prayer. Without doubt, in flagrant cases, discipline must be exercised. But there are a thousand cases grieving to the Holy Spirit, disturbing His movement in the body, which do not need to become the subjects of public discipline; but do not in the least hinder geral blessing.

Christ loves His church; we are of His flesh and of His bones. For often the heart, instead of being moved to respond, must be pressed towards Jesus, so that His love is manifested towards this soul, a precious member of His body, so that it should be cured, restored. If one thought of souls as members of His own body, one would be interested in what would make them in a good state according to grace, and would count on His grace for this to be accomplished; for He acts directly on the souls of His own, as He does on sinners to call them. It must be remembered, dear brother, that, for knowledge as much for other things, it has to be acquired, when it is true by the Holy Spirit, and that He acts freely in His sphere which he has formed by His power which acts in grace; thus if the objects with which He is occupied do not possess our hearts, these hearts cannot be full of His knowledge in communion.

From this [flows] the importance of the spiritual state of the brethren for the enjoyment of this communion, the food of which will be the revelation of the things of Christ by the Spirit. Without this, they will seek an education which leaves the soul in its own laziness, instead of enjoying it as providing the means of spiritual communion.

It is therefore necessary to think of the state of souls, and if we do not know how to act directly upon them, it is necessary to pray much that hunger and thirst for Jesus take possession of them.

Recently, we have read together the epistle to the Hebrews with much communion of soul and, I hope, to our profit. For myself, I have been particularly taken up with the epistle to the Ephesians, and with the position of the church as a dispensation or special object of the counsels of God, and I hope that I have profited from it – mainly in affirming my faith and the basis of this faith which stretches my knowledge.

But the position of the church has been set in relief before me in this reading.

  • See 151A

I finish, dear brother …

J N Darby – French Letter No. 132 – Local Administration

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

1862

To Mr B

Beloved Brother

I have just received your letter. I bless God with all my heart that He has strengthened you in body and soul. He is always faithful, always God; one can always count upon Him, whatever may be. His love does not change; He always thinks of us – a marvellous thing, but true – and counts the hairs of our head. It is marvellous indeed that the God of glory enters into all the details of our life, and always in view of our blessing. “He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous”[1], and everything contributes good to those who love Him[2].   I ask you to greet Mrs B affectionately. May God also bless your little boy; it is a worry no doubt in this world, but a worry that God, if we confide in Him, can take, and take in fact as an occasion to prove anew His faithfulness and His goodness. May God accord to you both to be faithful and to know to look up to Him.

As to what concerns the history of St, I see it a little differently to what I have been told. Our dear brother F has told me some details of what has taken place. I do not envisage the position of these sisters as an excommunication. The assembly alone could excommunicate; but when they said to some that they do not want to come to the assembly, they were free to state their feelings and those of other people, if they authorised them to say so. I do not say it was a wise thing according to God, but they were free to express their feeling as being their feeling; if it is the flesh which has produced this feeling, it is clear that it was not according to God. But I believe that it is not [within] the competence of a brother or a sister to withdraw from the assembly and to come back at their whim. The assembly must have its word to say about this. It may be that the one who has absented themselves has committed all sorts of sins during their absence. Thus as to those who stand apart, the assembly must say if it can receive them, as also an individual who may want to return. I hope, I would like to say I have good hope that this will happen, that the assembly will be blessed and restored by grace; it will be if it walks in humility and in a spirit of dependence on grace. If grace acts in the heart of these sisters, they will judge what has been the flesh in them. It may be that N having had the habit of directing a lot, there has been a lack of spiritual know-how with him.

Your part, I am sure, is to work according to grace and to communicate to souls what God gives you for them, while nourishing your own soul. Besides, it is what is much more useful for the assembly itself. I doubt that it would be the will of God to deny a souls the Supper because they are in a bad state. The word says that one examines oneself and eats; but if I saw a soul in a state of conscience that sin would have produced and did not know what it was, I could, it seems to me, imagine the case where I could counsel the person to abstain until it was clear. However, as a general rule, one cannot exclude souls provisionally, and it would only be in a particular case that I could even give such counsel. Pastoral care is the remedy which a soul in a bad state must have, and not temporary exclusion. This care is lacking a little sometimes among the brethren, and often expedients are turned to. I think that strangers were people who were not of the locality, principally brethren and in particular the Lord’s workmen (perhaps others too), towards whom the assembly exercised hospitality. Diotrephes would not do it[3]. You can see that the second epistle of John warns the elect lady not to receive those who did not bring sound doctrine as to the Person of Christ; the third encourages Gaius in his hospitality. I think that these are Christians in general (as approving hospitality in general – cf Heb 13: 2) because of what follows. The “who have given testimony” in v 6 applies to v 5 in general – (some read it: the brethren and even those [among them] who come from outside); vv 7 and 8 show that he had the workmen principally in view, for thus they worked together with the truth. Diotrephes did not want to receive them, desiring to have the assembly for himself, and broke the link with the apostle and all the brethren.

As to the word ‘Gentiles’ – your Diodati[4] links these words: “are gone out” with “from among the Gentiles”. He translates thus: “They are gone out from among the Gentiles for His Name, without receiving anything”.

This translation is not received by the majority; however there are some very acceptable names that accept it. I think that John, like Peter, was still much attached to the Jewish cradle of Christianity. Thus, in 1 John 2: 2 he says, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours alone, but also for the whole world”. Paul himself often speaks [thus], as in Galatians 3 and Ephesians 3, where “we” refers to the Jews, “you” to the Gentiles” and “we” afresh of Christians. I think it is more often a matter of Gentile believers than of unbelievers, but it could well be that these men had not wanted to receive anything from their parents. The apostles considered the Jews (even unbelievers) as brethren, not in the Christian sense but nationally; Paul spoke thus in his discourses. The Gentiles were only Gentiles; it could well be that Diotrephes did not want to receive workmen from among them. The workmen had to be received, and it was a title accorded to Christians of the Jewish race who had not wanted to receive anything from the Gentiles, or their parents, unbelievers or otherwise.

Farewell, beloved brother, may our good and faithful Father, full of love, be with you, encourage you and sustain you near to Him. In the enjoyment of the love of Jesus, one is always well, always encouraged.

Greet the brethren affectionately everywhere you go – may those in St cultivate peace, being tranquil and seeking above all to grow in the grace of Jesus.

Your very 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] Job 36: 7

[2] See Rom 8: 38

[3] This is a discussion about 3 John – the strangers are those referred to in v 5, and Diotrephes is in v 9

[4] Giovanni Diodati or Deodati (6 June 1576-3 October 1649) was a Swiss-born Calvinist theologian and translator. He was the first translator of the Bible into Italian from Hebrew and Greek sources. He also undertook a translation of the Bible into which appeared with notes in 1644 – Wikipedia