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    November 15, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. 1 Corinthians 2:6-4:21” The Signs of the Times, 9, 43.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Lesson for Pacific Coast.-November 24.
    1 Corinthians 2:6-4:21.

    “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world.” In the previous chapter, Paul had said that “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;” and in the beginning of this chapter, he says that he came not to the Corinthians “with excellency of speech or wisdom,” or with “enticing words of man’s wisdom.” He is not willing to admit, however, that he really uttered any foolishness, although it seems so to the scoffers. He had not spoken the “wisdom of this world” but the wisdom of God, which is infinitely superior. He says that he spoke this wisdom “among them that are perfect.” By this he means, not those who are sinless, for there would be no object in preaching to such at all; but to those who were somewhat advanced in Christian knowledge-who had received enough of the Spirit of God to enable them to appreciate the beauties of the gospel plan.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.1

    This wisdom, he says, “none of the princes of the world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” This text proves that skepticism depends more upon the condition of the heart than of the head. Those who put Christ to death were ignorant of his true nature. Had they known that he was the Son of God, not one of them would have lifted his hand against him. Why did they not know? They had listened to his teachings, and had witnessed many of his miracles. But instead of becoming convinced, as hundreds of others did, on the same evidence, they closed their eyes and ears, and steeled their hearts, lest they should be converted. The reason for this course lay in the fact that their own selfish interests were involved; Christ uttered plain truth which condemned their most cherished habits of life; to follow him would be at the cost of great personal inconvenience to themselves, and they therefore deliberately resolved to reject him. No person, however, can long remain in a state of self-condemnation, and when one has willfully rejected clearly revealed truth, it does not take him long to become firmly convinced that the error which he accepts is truth. And so the Jews, although their minds had once been enlightened, were ignorant of Christ when they crucified him. In like manner, we have known the most bitter opponents of the true Sabbath of the Lord to be those who had once acknowledged its claims, and even kept it. They rejected light, and darkness came upon them, so that they did not have their former clear conception of truth. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.2

    In the ninth, tenth, and the eleventh verses Paul proceeds with the argument to show why the gospel seems like foolishness to the wicked. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Human reason cannot grasp the wonderful truths of the gospel. The blessings which God stands ready to bestow upon those who obey the gospel, have no meaning to those who serve self. When Christians tell of the great love of God, how it lifts them above earthly trials and sorrows, they seem to the worldling to be simply fanatical. This is because the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned (verse 14). In the eleventh verse the apostle clenches his argument by saying, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” That is, that as no one can know the thoughts and designs of the man, except the man himself, so none but the Spirit of God can comprehend the things of God, and he alone, therefore, is capable of revealing them to others. It would be far less absurd for a man to profess to understand all the hidden thoughts of his neighbor’s mind, than for one entirely destitute of the Spirit of God to imagine that he is capable of passing judgment upon the truths of the gospel.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.3

    This eleventh verse has been used as proof of the inherent immortality of man but one must have that doctrine firmly fixed in his own mind before he can derive any comfort from this text, for it declares no such thing. That there is a spirit in man, is plainly stated many times in the Bible; but that that spirit is an entity of itself, distinct from the man; that it of itself alone is capable of thought; or that it can maintain an existence separate from the body, is not stated, either by this text or any other. These things are always assumed, and then various texts of Scripture are interpreted, in accordance with that assumption.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.4

    In the third chapter, the apostle says that he was unable to give the Corinthians all the instruction that he wished to, on account of their lack of spirituality. They had suffered the Spirit to come into their hearts only to a limited extent, and consequently could appreciate but little of the truth. They were as babes, requiring milk, the proof of their carnal condition is found in the fact that there were among them “envying, strife, and divisions.” These things may exist with worldly wisdom, but are incompatible with “the wisdom that is from above,” which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good friends, without variance [R.V.], and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17. Without this wisdom, all other attainments will profit nothing.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.5

    The apostle next guards them against forming factions among themselves, calling themselves after some favorite minister. He would not have any favoritism in the church, as to the ministers, for that would tend to create divisions. The minister is nothing of himself, whatever his talents may be, for the increase comes from God, for whom all our fellow-laborers. He first compares the ministers to husbandmen, and the church to a vineyard, and then he likens them to the architects, and the church to the building which they rear for God. If the building is truly God’s, it can have but one foundation, that is Christ.1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19, 20. If a man lays any other foundation, it comes to nothing; but “the foundation of God standeth sure.” 2 Timothy 2:19.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.6

    It makes a great deal of difference, however, how a man builds even on the sure foundation. “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. It is evident from Paul’s statement, “ye are God’s building,” that the gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble, “that may be built upon the true foundation, indicate different classes of people in the church of God. The gold, silver, and precious stones are the good,-those whom the fire cannot harm; while the wood, hay, and stubble represent those who will finally be cast into the fire and consumed. The day of Judgment will reveal the characters of all, so that “every man’s work shall be made manifest.” “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” This does not mean that every man will have to pass through purgatory, nor does it have the slightest reference to such a place; the meaning is brought out in verses 14 and 15, where it is declared that some will abide, and some will be burned. And so the class of work that has been done by the minister will be revealed by the fire. The next two verses are clear. If it is seen that the laborer has built enduring substance on the foundation he shall receive a reward;” for “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3. But if any man’s work be burned; if his converts prove to be only worthless stubble, he will suffer loss; the joy of seeing many in the kingdom of God as a result of his labors, will not be his; yet he himself shall be saved. Surely every minister has need to “take heed how he buildeth.”SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.7

    And the individual members have no less need of care. The Church is the temple of God, in which his Spirit dwells. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” How can one defile the temple of God? By cherishing some sin; by harboring vain and evil thoughts, envy, malice, hatred, an unforgiving or fault-finding disposition. All these bring reproach upon the church. It is a fearful thing for a man to come into, or continue in, a church, and still cling to evil thoughts and practices. His punishment will be greater than though he had committed the same sins without the pale of the church; for now he has defiled the temple of God. Then “let no man deceive himself;” but “let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” E. J. W.SITI November 15, 1883, page 509.8

    “Our Lord’s Last Passover” The Signs of the Times, 9, 43.

    E. J. Waggoner

    There is nothing in the life of our Lord that is unimportant; no act that should not be studied most carefully and reverently. But of all the recorded events of his earthly ministry, those immediately connected with his death. Everything centers around this point; it is that upon which all our hope depends. It is not strange, therefore, that the order of the events connected with the last supper should be (as has been the case) the subject of much careful study. It is true that some deprecate any special effort to locate different events in our Lord’s life, thinking that it tends to divert the mind from the moral truths intended to be conveyed; but to us it seems highly proper. Indeed, each study appears to be very necessary if we would realize the full import of all that he did.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.1

    It will be admitted that Christ was very careful in regard to the fitness of things. We cannot conceive of his doing anything out of place. Many scenes in his life that appear abrupt, and for which no reason can be given when considered by themselves, are fully explained when we consider the circumstances under which they took place. Of course there are many incidents in the life of Christ which cannot be assigned to any particular time or place. They are complete in themselves. But we think that those events in the life of our Lord which stand closely related to any other event, may be properly located by a careful study of the different accounts given by the four evangelists. And as such study makes the narrative seem more real to us, and brings us to a clearer understanding of our Lord’s life, the important truths which he taught must thereby certainly make a deeper impression upon us.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.2

    It is not because there has not been much discussion on the subject that it is taken up here. The various conflicting theories have been treated at length; so great that the average reader often becomes confused before he arrives at the author’s conclusion. And in the books on this subject we find, as we think, a mixture of truth and error. We shall endeavor as much as possible to simplify the evidence in the account, and so present it that all may take their Bibles and trace the matter for themselves.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.3

    Matthew and Mark give almost precisely the same account of the events of the passover night. They note this sitting down to supper, the designation of the one who would betray Jesus, and the Lord’s supper. Both follow the same order. It is quite certain, that while they have omitted many things, they have given those events in their proper order. Luke does not follow the same order, but he mentions one point which the others omit-the strife among the disciples. John says nothing about the Lord’s supper, but he gives a minute account, which is not mentioned by any of the others. A comparison of the four accounts will show that John’s is the most complete in its detail, and we shall therefore use that as a basis. Separating it into its parts we have the following table:-SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.4

    1. The supper. John 13:2.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.5

    2. Jesus rises and watches. Verses 4-11.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.6

    3. He takes his garments again. Verse 12.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.7

    4. He explains his act and bids them follow his example. Verses 12-17.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.8

    5. He says that one sitting at the table with him would betray him. Verse 18.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.9

    6. He tells how the traitor may be known. Verses 23-26.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.10

    7. He gives the sop to Judas. Verse 26.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.11

    8. Judas immediately goes out. Verse 30.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.12

    Before going further we must harmonize an apparent discrepancy in John’s narrative. In verses 2 and 4 we read: “And supper being ended.... he riseth from supper,” and then follows the account of the feet washing. Thus the idea generally obtains that the passover supper was entirely finished before the feet washing was performed. But in verses 12, 23-30, we again find them at supper. The question now arises, What relation, in point of time, does the feet washing sustain to the passover supper? We reply, It took place at the beginning of the supper, and offer the following proof: The original for, “And supper being ended,” is, kai deipnon genomenon, which may be translated, “And supper being ready.” The Revised Version renders it, “And during supper.” Greenfield’s Lexicon has it, “During supper.” Robinson’s Lexicon, on the verb alone, says: “f) of any location, e.g. a repast, to be prepared, made ready, John 13:2.” The Emphatic Diaglott: “While supper was preparing.” Speaker’s Commentary: “During supper.” Clarke’s Commentary: “While supper was preparing.” Campbell: “While they were at supper.” Barnes says on this text: “This translation expresses too much. The original means, while they were at supper; and that this is the meaning is clear from the fact that we find them still eating after this. The Arabic and Persic translations give it this meaning.” Other good authorities give this meaning also. It may then be considered as settled that John’s account is consistent with itself, and that the feet washing took place during, or near the beginning of, the meal. If supper was ready, and they were already sitting down when this event occurred, it would be perfectly consistent to say that it happened during supper.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.13

    We will now consider a circumstance mentioned only by Luke-the strife among the disciples. It is recorded in Luke 22:24, after the account of the supper and the pointing out of the traitor. But there is very strong evidence to show that Luke’s account is not chronological. And here we would remark that although Luke’s account is very minute in his description of many things, he seems to have in general made no attempt to follow the order of events. His account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is a case in point.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.14

    We first notice that the language of Luke 22:27 is similar to that of John 13:16. Christ’s reproof and instruction in Luke 22:25-27, are evidently the same as his remarks in connection with the ordinance of feet washing. It is most natural to conclude that this humiliating ordinance was given immediately in connection with the strife of the disciples as to who should be accounted the greatest. It is impossible to think for a moment that any such strife could have taken place after that lesson on humility. But we have seen that the feet washing took place at the beginning of the supper. Then the strife (Luke 22:24) must have preceded the supper, and is recorded by Luke out of its proper place.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.15

    Again, concerning what would the disciples be most likely to contend at that time? we answer. They would naturally contend as to who should have the precedence at table. Among the ancients the distinctions in age or rank were clearly defined, and at table the oldest or most honorable had certain seats assigned them. An instance of this is found in Genesis 43:33. Among all people, even at the present time, there is a difference, in point of precedence, in the seats at the table, and table etiquette is very clearly defined and strictly observed. The same point is brought out in Matthew 23:6; Mark 12:38, 39; Luke 14:7-11, where Christ reproved those who chose the chief places. There is certainly nothing else concerning which they could strive for the precedence on this occasion. And this strife furnished an occasion for Christ to give them the most impressive lesson on humility. But this again shows that the ordinance of the washing took place at the beginning of the meal.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.16

    Some may object, and say that their strife was as to who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and that it did not refer to their place at the table. But the disciples still looked for a temporal kingdom, which they thought Christ was soon to set up; and they would naturally expect that their rank in the kingdom would be determined by the position they occupied previous to its being set up. With this view their place at table was to them a matter of great importance.SITI November 15, 1883, page 511.17

    That we may keep the subject clear in our minds, we will now state in their order the events that occurred up to the present point of the investigation. 1. Supper being ready, Jesus sat down. He was the host, and of course took the first place. 2. A strife arose among the disciples as to who should have the place of honor, that being, doubtless, the one nearest to Jesus. 3. To rebuke this unseemly strife, he rose from supper and proceeded to wash their feet, teaching them by precept and example that humility was the only ground of preferment in his kingdom. 4. Having completed this ceremony, he resumed his garments and sat down again to supper. E. J. W.SITI November 15, 1883, page 512.1

    (To be Continued.)

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