The following writing - (with the picture above) - was produced by the Trinitarian Bible Society: it is used here as an
The concluding doxology of the Lord’s prayer has been read and used by millions of readers of the Holy Scriptures for nearly two thousand years but modern translations of the Bible almost invariably omit these words or insert a note casting doubt upon their authenticity. The Revised Standard Version omits the words from the text and states in a footnote that ‘Other authorities, some ancient, add, in some form, For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen’. The New Scofield Reference Bible preserves the words in the text, but a footnote questions their authenticity: ‘This doxology does not appear in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts, and in those which do include it, there are considerable variations. The account by Luke omits it altogether. Eminent textual authorities believe that it was added by later hands, probably to make the prayer more suitable for public worship’. This note continues with the suggestion that the words were drawn from David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:11: ‘Thine, 0 LORD, is ... the power, and the glory ... thine is the kingdom’.
Suggestions of this kind, often repeated in the classroom, in the Bible college, in popular books, in magazine articles, and in the footnotes of the modern versions, are designed to undermine the authenticity of the disputed passages and to accomplish their ultimate rejection from the Bibles in general use.
In fact, there is overwhelming documentary evidence for the retention of these words in the text, just as they stand in the Authorised Version. Some ancient manuscripts omit the words, but these documents are a comparatively small, unrepresentative and unreliable minority. Those who dismiss the words as an interpolation cannot adequately explain how the alleged interpolation established itself without appreciable variation in nearly all the manuscripts, found its way into every part of Christendom from the earliest times, established itself in the Greek copies used in public worship, the ‘Lectionaries’ and ‘Liturgies’, and has for long ages formed a part of the private and public devotions of many of the Lord’s people all over the world.
Those who would reject the words
suggest that they were added in early liturgical worship and were later wrongly
recognised as authentic Scripture. This
suggestion appeared as early as the Complutensian
Polyglot of AD1514, a parallel version produced at Alcala
The true explanation is that the prayer delivered by our Lord included the closing doxology, and was correctly recorded by Matthew. When it became customary to use the prayer as part of the liturgical worship of the Greek Church, it was common practice for the congregation to repeat the prayer aloud up to ‘deliver us from evil’, and the minister then uttered the solemn doxology alone. This usage influenced some of the early copyists, who were so accustomed to leaving the final words to the minister that they assumed that these words were of the ‘Church’ rather than of the Scripture. For this reason some copyists did not include these words in their copies, but regarded them as a pious but uninspired addition. This corruption of the text arose from a misunderstanding of these scribes, and affected only a small minority of the ancient manuscripts, including some which have survived to the present time and are wrongly held in high repute by modern critical scholars. To this unrepresentative and unreliable class belong the Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Bezae, usually referred to as B, Aleph and D.
If it were true that the doxology as it stands in the Received Text was borrowed from ancient Greek liturgical use, it should be possible to find it in the copies of the Greek liturgies which have survived. There is no shortage of documents, but it is of interest to notice that a very large number of the Greek liturgies have the doxology in some other form than Matthew 6: 13 and conclude with a Trinitarian formula which is not found in Matthew. Many of the Greek liturgical copies differ from each other, but they agree in testifying that there was a doxology in Matthew, that it began with ‘Thine’, that it mentioned kingdom, power and glory, and contained a reference to eternity.
It is plainly evident that the ancient Greek Church embellished the comparatively simple form set forth in the Gospel, but it is quite inconceivable that the brief formula now in Matthew could have been derived from the elaborate and ornate conclusion of the prayer developed in the liturgies. Our Bible sets forth the prayer just as Matthew recorded it.
THE PRAYER IN LUKE’S GOSPEL
The critics also attack the
authenticity of the closing doxology on the ground that Luke did not record
it. This may be simply answered in the
words of Dr. W. B. Jones in his
commentary on this Gospel [
Those who confidently quote ‘the oldest and best manuscripts’ are often found to be relying upon some of the oldest but least trustworthy documents. It is instructive to observe the extent of the disagreement between the documents of this now popular group in setting forth the prayer in the Gospel according to Luke. The oldest (but not necessarily best) manuscripts are those referred to as Aleph ABCD of the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. Of these A and C are not able to testify with reference to Matthew 6: 13, and in Luke 11 there is chaotic disagreement among the whole group. Codex Bezae, D, inserts in Luke a paraphrase of Matthew 6: 7. Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, Aleph and B, omit ‘Our’, and ‘which art in heaven’. D omits the Greek article before ‘name’, adds ‘upon us’, and transposes the Greek words for ‘Thy kingdom’. B omits ‘Thy will be done, as in heaven, also on the earth’. Aleph includes these words, but adds ‘so’ before ‘also’, and omits a Greek article. Aleph and D replace DIDOU with DOS, from Matthew. Aleph omits the article before ‘day by day’. D has ‘this day’, from Matthew, and from the same source ‘debts’ for ‘sins’, and ‘as also we’ in place of ‘as also (we) ourselves’. D has ‘our debtors’ for ‘every one that is indebted to us’. B and Aleph omit the last petition, ‘but deliver us from evil’.
This lack of harmony is exhibited by the manuscripts which modern scholars use as the basis of their reconstruction of the Greek text. They corrupt the prayer in forty-five words. They do not agree together on any single variation. Only on one point do more than two of the five documents agree with each other, and in this instance they agree in the erroneous omission of an article. In 32 out of the 45 words these manuscripts bear in turn solitary evidence against the rest.
Modern versions, and modern
Biblical criticism, on both sides of the
The fact that the prayer was given and recorded in a shorter form in the Gospel according to Luke led some early copyists of Matthew to shorten his version in order to make it harmonise with Luke. Those early manuscripts of Matthew which omit the doxology belong to this defective class. Among the earliest witnesses for the inclusion of the doxology in Matthew are the Syriac versions and the Didache, the ‘teaching of the Apostles’. The latter preserves evidence from the first half of the second century. This document contains a number of liturgical prayers which are not authentic Scripture, and they all end with a reference to the Name of Jesus, but the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer as written in the Didache does not contain any reference to His Name. This very strongly implies that this part of the Didache was copied from a yet older manuscript of Matthew which contained the doxology as it stands in the Greek underlying the Authorised Version.
OF MODERN TEXTUAL CRITICISM
Westcott and Hort’s ‘Introduction’ suggests that the concluding words of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew originated in liturgical use in Syria and were adopted into the Greek and Syrian copies of the New Testament. In their opinion the doxology was derived from 1 Chronicles 29. Professor Tasker’s edition of the Greek text underlying the New English Bible New Testament gives a very brief and partial review of the evidence and concludes that the doxology must be ‘regarded as an early liturgical addition’. It is to be deplored that in their determination to impose the pattern of the Vatican Codex, B, upon the text and translation of the New Testament, modern critics have leapt with unscholarly agility from assumption to assumption to heights of speculation where the evangelical Christian should not feel under any obligation to follow. There are most substantial grounds for retaining these disputed words in our Bibles with full confidence that they came from the lips of our Lord Himself and were faithfully recorded by Matthew, preserved through the ages and correctly reproduced by Tyndale and his successors as an integral part of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The evidence for the authenticity of the disputed words may be listed as follows:-
1st century – Paul’s allusion in 2 Timothy 4: 18.
2nd century - Didache, Diatessaron of Tatian, the old Syriac version.
3rd century - Coptic and Sahidic.
4th century - Apostolic Constitutions A.D.380; Old Latin, k; Gothic, Armenian.
5th century - Uncial ms. W; Chrysostom; Georgian version.
6th century – Uncials … Ethiopic version; three Syriac versions.
8th century - Uncials E, L.
9th century - Uncials G, K, M, U, V, …: Old Latin f, g. Minuscules 33, 565, 892.
10th century - Minuscule 1079.
11th century - Minuscules 28, 124, 174, 230, 700,788,1216.
12th century - Minuscules 346, 543, 1010, 1071,1195,1230,1241,1365, 1646.
13th century - Minuscules 13, 1009, 1242, 1546.
14th century - Minuscules 2148, 2174.
15th century - Minuscules 69, 1253 (with additional Trinitarian formula).
To these may be added the majority of the very numerous ‘Byzantine’ copies, including most of the Byzantine lectionaries.
The evidence against the authenticity of the doxology in Matthew includes some Coptic manuscripts, a version probably of 3rd century, Tertullian, Origen and Cyprian of the same century; Aleph, B, Old Latin a, Hilary, Caesarius Maz., Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nyss. of 4th century; D, Old Latin b, h, Chromatius, Augustine of 5th century; Uncials Z and 0170 of the 6th century; Old Latin 1, Max. Conf. of 7th century; Old Latin g2 of 9th century; ff of 10-11th century; c of 12-13th century; Minuscule 1 of 12th century; 118 and Lectionary 547 of 13th; Minuscules 131, 209 of 14th; 17 and 130 of 15th century; to which may be added the Latin Vulgate. It should be borne in mind that the fact that some early writers comment on the prayer without referring to the doxology is no proof that the doxology was not in their manuscripts. It may have been their purpose to comment only on the petitions. In such matters the ‘argument from silence’ is weak.
AN EXPOSITION FROM THE EPISTLE
TO THE HEBREWS (2: 3-9)
By ROBERT GOVETT, M.A.
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember Me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11: 2; 7: 17). The Saviour has forbidden to His disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount, law, war, oaths, and the laying up of treasures on earth. And the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost to enforce the words of the Son of God, and to bring to remembrance His teaching. If then, God enforced the commands of angels by reward upon obedience, and penalty on disobedience, - “how shall we escape” a like result? Paul* [“The Writer, that is, the Holy Spirit through whoever it was who penned the epistle] is addressing [regenerate] believers, and puts himself on the same level herein. This conclusion is again pressed on us at the close of the Epistle: “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven” (12: 25). The same conclusion reappears in 1 Cor. 10: 1-11.
[* Robert Govett believed the Apostle Paul was the writer of the epistle, but this cannot be proved, therefore, the additional words in brackets would be a much better way to begin the sentence. – Ed.]
It is not a word to the ungodly. It does not mean: ‘How will you escape eternal perdition?’ But an award answering to the offence - as was the case with God’s former people, who remained His people, even when some were cut off by His severer chastisement.
“If we neglect so great salvation.”
This is ordinarily taken as if it applied to the unforgiven, who refuse to seek the pardon of sin. But as the Epistle is addressed to believers, the words apply to them. “Salvation” in this Epistle is spoken of the full deliverance in the first resurrection. That is “the prize of our calling”, which Paul bent all his energies to obtain. “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark [goal] for the Prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3: 14; 1 Cor. 9: 24). “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary [affected] humility and worshipping of angels” (Col. 2: 18). As a prize is before us, it depends upon our conduct as believers; and simple neglect is enough to lose it. And neglect attaches generally to unbelief. Christians do not believe in “the hope of their calling”, and so pay no attention to the reward offered them by Christ. Most attach themselves to the unconditional promises of the Gospel. But they overlook, or even deny, the conditional promises; which are far more numerous than most who have not studied the matter would believe. There are seven in this Epistle, beside the “if” now before us. (1) “Whose [Christ’s] house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (3: 6). (2) “We became fellows of the Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (ver. 14, I5; 10: 38).
It is a [future] salvation [‘of souls’]* spoken of by the Lord while on earth, but as yet waited for.
[* See 1 Pet. 1: 9.]
There are two “ifs” to the prize of chapter 3. (ver. 6, 14, I5.)
“So great salvation.” For God’s ancient people had also deliverances, though far inferior to ours. (1) They had one “salvation”, in which they were to be quite still. “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to-day : for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you; and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex. 14: 13, 14). But when they had come to the borders of the land of promise, the Lord called on them to use effort to seize the prize before them. They were to fight the Canaanites, and to prevail against them by His aid. There they refused: for they despised the pleasant land, and did not believe that the power of Jehovah was sufficient to bring them in, in spite of the word of promise: “The Lord your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deut. 20: 4).
As then the salvation of Christ in resurrection is far superior to those in the flesh under Moses, the guilt and damage of neglecting it is so much the greater. Moses’ salvation related to earth, the flesh, and this life: ours to the heaven, the resurrection, the thousand years of glory, and eternal blessedness.
“Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.” Observe the title given to Christ in this connection. He is “the Lord” - the Heir, the Ruler, the Disposer of all, the King of the coming [millennial] kingdom. He gave the commands, and the Father bids us “Hear Him”. As He gave the orders, He shall award the results of obedience or disobedience. He shall admit to the kingdom, or shut out from it, as He judges fit. “Not every one that saith unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7: 21). This then must be something distinct from eternal life, which is a [free] gift.* It was of this [promised messianic] “kingdom”, rarely of “eternal life”, that Jesus spoke. “The kingdom”** is named in Matthew alone fifty-five times.
[* Rom. 6: 6: 23, R.V. ** Hence the title, and text in Matthew 6: 13 shown above. It is for the establishment of Messiah’s millennial kingdom which His “disciples” are to pray for: “When ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. … But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee:” (Matt. 6: 5, 6, R.V. cf. Dan. 7: 14; Zech. 14: 16-21; Luke 22: 29, 30; Rev. 11: 15)]
“Was confirmed to us by them that heard Him.”*
* These words are by some considered fatal to the idea, that the Epistle was written by Paul. ‘For here,’
they say, ‘he associates himself with those who
received the truth at second-hand: while Paul, on the other hand, shows himself
always jealous of the independency of his apostleship. He received the Gospel, which he taught at first-hand,
from the Saviour Himself.’ And
that is true: but not to the point. He
is not defending his apostleship, before Gentiles. He is owning the
twelve, whom Christ during His life, sent as His witnesses to
Paul, it would seem, never saw the Saviour [before His crucifixion, death and resurrection] while on earth; and the earlier generation of those who had, was passing away. They were God’s witnesses to the words and deeds of power, wrought by Jesus. And God confirmed the truths yet further by the descent of the Holy Spirit, according to Christ’s promise; and by the gifts which were possessed, and the miracles which were wrought by the disciples generally.
These miracles were “signs” - of the better millennial day to come. These powers proceeded from the New Man, who was to restore the lost heritage of the first Adam, in the better day to come.
(1) The ejection of demons was a testimony that Satan and his angels would be cast into the pit, in order to the coming and solidity of the kingdom (Rev. 20: 1). (2) The power given to disciples over serpents testified of that day, when serpents themselves shall be changed, and their power of venom shall be removed (Isa. 11., 65.). (3) The recovery of the sick gave evidence of the coming day, when sickness shall be nearly banished from the earth, and the first and blessed resurrection from among the dead shall take place.
Here we have the whole Trinity
engaged on the Gospel of the kingdom. The Lord was speaking it while on earth; God
the Father attesting it; the Holy Spirit sustaining it by His gift to
believers. In this passage we touch upon
one of the chief difficulties of the Epistle.
It was probably this moral difficulty, that was
the reason why it was not received at
But this doctrine is resisted by most believers, and from various points of view. Let us look at the main stand-points.
1.‘CHRIST HAS LEFT NO COMMANDS INVOLVING PENALTIES TO HIS PEOPLE.’
In this Epistle it is taught, on
the contrary, that Christ is Lord of His people, as well as Saviour. That he has left commands, which
cannot be broken without present damage and future loss, has also been shown. (1) Baptism, or the believer’s immersion
after faith, is one of these; and it is declared that the
refusal to obey this will subject to exclusion from the millennial kingdom.* (2) Another command is, that the believer run not into debt (
[* Although the author has not given any scriptural proof that neglect of this rite, - ‘will subject exclusion from the millennial kingdom’ - his extensive writings on this subject can be studied on this website.]
2. ‘THE PENALTIES YOU SPEAK OF WILL NOT TAKE EFFECT. FOR ALL BELIEVERS OBEY CHRIST; AND IF ANY DO NOT OBEY HIM, IT IS A PROOF THAT HE IS NO BELIEVER.’
This is a theory, which can be maintained by none who is acquainted with the state of Christ’s Church, or with Scripture. Are there not in the Churches those who borrow, but do not pay? Are there not those who wed, but not “in the Lord”? Do not the Epistles show us the breaches, not of dispensational commands alone, but of moral? Are there not many believers, who for worldly reasons refuse to come forth from the world and to confess Christ? Do not the Epistles caution believers against sins of all kinds? What means that: “Lie not to one another” (Col. 3: 9)? “Let him that stole, steal no more” (Eph. 4: 28)? What means excommunication, to be enforced on actual offences of believers? But some again would say -
3. ‘CHRIST IS THE SAVIOUR; HE IS NEVER SAID TO JUDGE BELIEVERS. IF HE WERE TO JUDGE, THE SCRIPTURE SAYS, THAT NONE COULD STAND.’
Now it is granted at once, that
no believer will be brought into judgment before Christ, to try whether he is
justified [by faith]*
and reconciled to God or no. He has
become justified, and is no longer an enemy, but a servant. He shall certainly be finally [and eternally]
saved. But the Saviour
and His Apostles both assert that all Christians are servants, and shall give
account to Him of their conduct since they believed, to be rewarded or
punished, according to their deeds, in the coming day of reward according to
works. This is the teaching of direct
statements, such as
4. ‘HOW SHOULD PENALTIES TOUCH SONS OF GOD, ELECT, AND UNDER GRACE?’
That great are the saints’
privileges, is true; but privileges are no bar to
responsibility. Nay, the
greater the privileges, the greater the responsibility. “For
unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of
him they will ask more” (Luke 12: 48). Even under the Law we read of favoured King
Solomon, on his turning to idolatry: “The
Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the Lord God of
And finally, if this be an inspired Epistle, God’s conduct toward His ancient people makes it certain that, as offences against the Law’s commands brought damage and loss of good to offenders, so neglect to obey the orders of Christ, or wilful transgression of His commandments as the Lord of all, will draw down His displeasure. And that may and will manifest itself, to the exclusion of some believers from the millennial kingdom, or even draw down positive infliction (Matt. 18: 35; 5: 21-37).
For it is very worthy to be pondered, that the Apostle draws here, and elsewhere in this Epistle, an inference just opposite to that which would be or is deduced by many teachers of the Word. They assert that God’s dealings with His new people will be in entire contrast to those with His ancient one; that toward the Church His actings are, and will ever be, grace alone. Here then is an appeal to Scripture. And this Scripture addressed to [regenerate] believers, argues from God’s former stripes laid upon offenders of His chosen people, to like conduct in the day to come toward His new people. It is not: ' Threatenings cannot affect God's elect of the Church ; for they stand in grace alone.' It is, on the contrary: ‘If God’s displeasure overtook offenders under the old covenant, much more will it strike those who offend against grace.’ For Christ comes when the throne of righteousness is set up, and in the day when each is to be rewarded according to works. It is also declared, that the enterers into that ‘age’ and ‘the resurrection [out] from among the dead’ must first be “judged worthy” by Christ.
Thus diligence is bound upon us by considerations of loss of benefit, and the Lord’s adjudication at His coming.
If it be thus with the believer in that day, what shall become of the sinner [i.e., the unregenerate] who refuses mercy, the mercy of the Gospel of grace altogether? What shall be his righteous recompense? Hell-fire for ever! Does each sinner deserve it? God says he does. He is already condemned - as truly as the convict in the condemned cell. “How can he escape the damnation of hell?”
IN HIS HUMAN NATURE
“For not to angels hath He put in subjection the habitable earth to come, about which we are speaking. But one in a certain place testified, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in His putting all things in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put in subjection under him. But now we see not yet all things put in subjection to him.”
With what is the “for” connected? (1) Either with the general strain of verses 1-4: ‘We ought to take heed - for Christ will, as the Lord, dispense reward in the day to come;’ (2) or with the closing words of the preceding paragraph - “According to His own will.” Then follows a passage, discovering to us what is the will of God in reference to the day in question. And indeed, from the beginning of the Epistle, God is set forth as the Great Disposer of all things.
To angels the government of earth seems to have been for a while committed.
But in the day to come, they are quite
set aside from ruling. The twenty-four
elders, or chiefs of the angels, in Rev. 5.,
confess the superiority of our Lord, both by posture and by word. They fall down before the Lamb of the tribe of
* The ‘us’ is not genuine, and has produced a system of confusion. Critics are agreed that we should read “them” and “they”. That settles the rejection of the “us”. It is omitted by the Revised Version.
God has not subjected to angels “the habitable earth of the future”. What are we to understand by that phrase?
1. Many say: ‘It means the Gospel dispensation and the blessings it brings.’ But the verses before us bear witness against any such idea. The Scripture declares that, during this dispensation, all is not put under man’s power; and much less, all is not put in subjection to Christ. And we see it is so. The Gospel is God’s call to the earth generally to repent, selecting in the meanwhile His chosen from the mass of unbelievers. But He is not meddling with the course of it, to alter it. The world goes on much as it would without the Gospel; and men are trying to repair the evils they find in it, but in vain. The Gospel is only the day of God’s mercy and patience, in which he is gathering out of the world co-heirs with Christ, and preparing Him companions in the glory of the thousand years.
of the future’ stands in opposition to ‘the world of the present’. The
earth now is the globe as it was cursed under Adam and Noah, as it remains after
the sentence of toil and death in
‘The world of the future’ is the earth considered as the abode of men, such as it will be in millennial days. And those millennial days turn on the coming of Christ in power and judgment. The Apostle had alluded to this before. “When He (God) a second time introduces the First-born into the habitable earth, He saith, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’” As the Lord Jesus said to Nathaniel, then would be the fulfilment of Jacob’s ladder: “Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man” (John 1: 51). Jesus has been snatched away from earth after His birth from the tomb, but He shall be restored again to it. “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16: 22). This was “the joy set before Him”, in consideration of which He despised the shame, and it is to partake of this joy with Him that He is now calling us.
Jesus came the first time into the world of men, and gave signs of the coming day in healing diseases, casting out the angels of Satan, stilling the winds and sea, and raising the dead. But He Himself suffered under Satan and the power of death. He left tokens of the better coming day with disciples; but they have long vanished. They were “powers of the coming age”.
Jesus is coming again, to
complete that of which He gave the promise and the intimations then. He must come, to give Abraham
the inheritance long promised. He must renew the leprous house, taking away
the leprous stones, scraping away the evil mortar, and putting other stones,
and plastering the house (Lev. 14: 33-47).
These are some of “the good things to come” attached to the Saviour’s
Priesthood and Royalty; - belonging to Him as the Son of man, possessed of all
merits, and accordingly endued with all authority from God. Then shall
“The habitable earth about which we are speaking.” These words are important, as showing that one peculiar period, quite different from the present, has been before the Writer’s mind all along. Hence these first two chapters, and other passages of the Epistle, are unintelligible to the anti-millennarian. It is of this “salvation” that the Apostle is speaking; to this the quotations from the Old Testament refer, as we have observed. The Gospel lasts while Christ keeps His present place in heaven. It ceases - and another day, opposite in principle and in results for all, comes in, when He descends to take possession of earth.
Here is then the Personal Reign - so resisted by most. It would seem to have early fallen out of the faith of Christians, as soon as they lost the hope of Christ’s immediate return. Thus the wisdom of Paul is seen, in bidding Christians pray, that God would enlighten the eyes of their heart, to make them know “what is the hope of God’s calling” (Eph. 1: 17, 18).
Of this “coming age” and its glory the eighth psalm, speaks. Many, indeed, reading it carelessly with the eye of nature alone, find in it only a description of the earth as it was first created. But those who are taught of God will take the Apostle’s clue, and see very much more than creation could have taught to Adam. God’s Name is to be excellent in all the earth; but His glory is to be above the natural heavens. This Epistle tells us then, that heaven and its glory is the portion of believers in Christ. They, on God’s testimony, believe in a Son of man Who has passed into the heaven of heavens on their behalf; and they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; and the New Jerusalem built by the Most High, in which His glory shall dwell; and they dwell in glory with Him.
The second verse of the psalm was quoted by our Lord as His defence, when accused, because of His permitting hosannas to be sung to Him by the children in the temple. There were “enemies” then, strong and bitter of speech and deed. It is clear therefore that we are dealing with an earth into which sin has entered; and not earth as at first created and very good. Moreover, “the Enemy and the Avenger” are Death and the Devil, whose power must be taken away.
The Psalmist then considers the immensity of God’s heaven, and bursts into the words cited: “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” The Holy Ghost’s eye is upon the coming day, when man, so long seemingly neglected of God, and left to himself and to Satan, is brought before the eye of the universe. The days of patient waiting for the seed sown are over; and now the Master commands, and the angelic labourers of heaven enter the field with sharp sickle, and all is busy where before all seemed idle (Mark 4: 26-29). God “visits” earth in judgment,* and destroys the wicked, while He gives the long-promised reward to His [obedient] servants (Rev. 11.).
* There is a beautiful reference to God’s ancient deliverance of
But with the word of visitation
is coupled another key-word. “What is THE SON OF MAN
that Thou visitest him?” Jesus is that “Son
of man”. When first He came as
“Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels.” (1)This may be taken primarily of Adam as created. He was moulded out of the dust, and only made the chief of animals. (2) But its chief force is derived from beholding the fulfilment in Christ. He Who was on the throne of glory, descended to partake of the manhood, and the Master became the servant, possessed of flesh and blood.
“Thou crownedst Him with glory and honour.”
It is hard to say how that was fulfilled in Adam, as at first created. He was indeed set over the animal and vegetable creation in general. But can we fully carry out the words of the psalm? “All sheep and oxen; yea, and the [wild] beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the Paths of the seas.”
These words then must have their accomplishment in another day, and in “the Son of man”. Adam was man but he was no “son of man”. As fallen, he lay under sin and death, the lion and the serpent, death and corruption. Nor could he, or any of his sons, deliver the race from their subjection. But God’s counsel was to “set man over the works of His hands, and to put all things in subjection under his feet”. If the Most High made known this His counsel to the angels, it accounts for the fall of Satan and his angels. ‘Shall this inferior creature, whom we have seen moulded out of the dust, bear rule indeed over us?’ Pride revolted. The devil brought the creature into collision with his God, and all Jehovah’s plan seemed to be overthrown. But the Son, the Heir of all things, has stooped to deliver His encumbered heritage, and to rescue His ruined tenant. Thus comes destruction to Satan and his angels. Here then is a deeper sense given to the psalm. Here is the Second Adam - the Christ. That title, “Son of man” - the Saviour continually took. The kingdom belongs to the Son of man at His appearing. The self-humbled shall be exalted indeed. That was God’s way to the fulfilment of His recorded plans concerning man.
One day all shall be subjected to man. But it can come to pass only through Christ. All man’s enemies shall be cut off, But many of them are too strong for the stoutest man of valour. The wild animals, the seasons, storms, wars, sicknesses, death, shall all be tamed or removed: the earth shall be filled with plenty and joy. The world of the future, under redemption by the Great Son of man, shall possess all these glories and joys. Man shall be seen superior to angels, when all of them worship the Son of man; and when “we shall judge angels”.
9. “But we see One made a little lower than angels - (even) Jesus - because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, in order that by the grace of God He might taste of death for every one.”
The words of this verse are simple; and yet the difficulties connected with it are great. How are the parts of it to be construed?
1. The Established Version reads: “Made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death.” But the Greek preposition will not bear the sense, ‘with a view to’.
2. We must read it: “Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory.” We should understand then, that the crowning came after the death, and as the reward of it. It is quite natural so to take it. In general, crowning comes as the reward of suffering. But then the following clause gives us a shock: “In order that He might taste death.” The death then came after the crowning! In order to get quit of this difficulty, some have forced the sense of the Greek word (…), and make it signify ‘when’. But that is not an allowable sense. Some therefore, as Mr. Craik, transpose the clauses. Some would interpose a parenthesis. “But we see one made a little lower than angels, (even) Jesus (because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour), in order that by the grace of God He might taste of death for every one.”
Now that is lawful; but not to be adopted, unless there be, no way of taking the words as they stand. As the words stand, it seems as if the crowning went before the death, and in order to it. And that I am persuaded is the true sense, though not denying the glory after it. Let us look at the facts in this connection. The verse refers, I doubt not, to our Lord’s glorification on the Mount of Transfiguration; and is parallel with Peter’s words: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and presence* of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His Majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice borne from heaven we heard, when we were with Him on the holy mount. And we hold more confirmed thereby the prophetic word” (see Greek) (2 Pet. 1: 16-18). Peter is exhorting believers to seek an entrance into the millennial kingdom, by making advances in grace and good works. The coming glory was proved to his senses by the brightness wherewith Christ, as the Coming King was clothed; and by the praise of God His Father, confessing Him as His well-beloved Son. Thus the eighth psalm, and the prophecies in general of the glorious day, were confirmed.
* … The “power” of Christ refers specially to the raising of the dead; the first instance of which was seen by Peter, James, and John, alone.
Let us look at the matter also
from Matthew 16, 17. In the sixteenth chapter our Lord draws out
Peter’s confession of Him as Messiah, and Son of the Living God. But He learns that
The same crowning attended also the Saviour’s baptism. That was “the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins”. Now the Lord Jesus needed neither forgiveness nor repentance. But He is crowned with honour, because of His “grace” in stooping to take His place with sinners. At that immersion the figure of death and resurrection passes upon Him, the heavens open upon this great sight, the Holy Ghost descends on Him, and the Father’s voice pronounces Him His “well-beloved Son”. At this point begins Jesus’ manifest entry on His work of redemption; and the new name of God - as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is manifested. That scene is our Lord’s visible commission; as the Burning Bush was that of Moses. This wonderful Humbler of Himself it is God’s counsel to exalt.
Thus God in His wisdom puts seemingly opposite principles in their true place. (1) Jesus must die. It was His Father’s counsel; His own choice. (2) Now His death was not for His own sins, as is the case with men; but all undeserved, He passes through it in grace to men. It was fitting then, that the Father, while giving up His Son to suffering, should yet mark distinctly His good pleasure in Him, and the difference between this death, and the death undergone by sinners deserving of His wrath. He gives Him therefore a glory supreme above all others, and that when His death is the very subject upon His lips and the lips of His companions on the mount. The rejected by men, even to crucifying, is God’s exalted One.
The very words “crowned with glory and honour”, have reference to Jesus,’ consecration as the High Priest. The first step in the consecration of the high priest was his bathing in water (Ex. 29: 4; Lev. 8: 6). Hence the visible sanction given to Christ at His baptism. After that the high priest was to be clothed with robes “of glory and beauty”, or as the LXX. give it, “glory and honour” (Ex. 28: 2, 40). The high priest was also “crowned”, as his consecration to his office. “Thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and the holy crown upon the mitre” (Ex. 29: 6). On the mitre was a golden plate, engraven with the words: “Holiness to the Lord” (Ex. 28: 36; 39: 30; Lev. 8: 9). Thus the wearer was designated as God’s Holy Priest. “It shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things” (Ex. 28: 38). “God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord” (Lev. 10: 17).
Thus our Lord was crowned as the High Priest and Sacrifice. He was honoured beforehand, and encouraged to pass through the bitter scenes of death. “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life (soul) that I may take it again” (John 10: 17). And thus God showed His love. So also, when Jesus made the appeal to His Father - in view of His death near at hand - to glorify His Name, the Father’s voice from heaven at once responded. He would glorify that Name: He had glorified it already.
‘But if the words - “crowned with glory and honour” - relate to the gloru bestowed before His death, how do you get their application to His present glory?’ The perfect participle “crowned” denotes the glory is still existing; and the third verse of the first chapter notes Christ’s session as the High Priest at the Father’s right hand, after the putting away of our sins.
Thus “we see” Jesus “crowned”. It is set forth in visible and striking facts, in the accounts of the Saviour’s baptism and transfiguration in the three first Gospels.
He was to “taste death”. Some have interpreted the words to mean a slight taste. But no! the Lord Jesus bore death in its most bitter form; as no believer now bears it, that is as the wrath of God, and the curse of the Law. The words would seem also to include all the sufferings which led down to, and prepared the way for, death. And in all the Gospels which treat of the Transfiguration, the expression is applied to the three favoured apostles who suffered martyrdom for Christ* (Matt. 16: 28). It was “death for every one”.
* John died a natural death; but the witnesses concerning his being put into a cauldron of boiling oil with a view to slay him, seeme true.
It was intended to benefit the whole race. It comes after the witness of the psalm, that ‘man’ and ‘the Son of man’ are to be exalted over all God’s works. Man’s original dominion was to take place in this life. But sin brough in death and defeat. Now One has come Who has passed through death, and brought in life and the kingdom to man.