EXCEPT IN THE CROSS
It was as much as a half century ago that Brother A. E. Knoch
worked on a series of studies concerning crucifixion as the form of death. It was
never completed, as he turned to other matters, especially work on the Hebrew Scriptures.
. . . Some of his thoughts were left undeveloped, but it is evident that Brother Knoch
intended to lay emphasis on Pauls unique use of the words "cross" and
"crucifixion" in presenting his evangel. Gods highest glories flow from
this most shameful form of death and are based on it. Consequently, we say with Paul,
"May it not be mine to be boasting, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ" (Gal.6:14). [Unsearchable Riches, Jan. 1997,
Christ died. He shed His blood. He
was crucified. These terms differ from one another in their relation to us. Each
brings a special benefit, which is its opposite. He died that we might live. Through
His blood He suffered that we may enjoy His salvation. He was crucified
that we may be glorified.
Through their sacrifices the Jews were familiar with death and
bloodshed. But none of their ritual gave specific foreshadowing of the shameful execution
of a criminal. It is in Pauls evangel for the nations that the theme of crucifixion
comes to the fore. Here it is revealed that this shameful death brings not only life and
joy, but celestial glory.
The fact that the sin offering in Israel, which foreshadowed the great
Sacrifice, was neither painful nor shameful, suggests that we consider closely the
circumstances connected with the crucifixion of Christ. There we will find that the
priests of Israel who were appointed to offer the sacrifice would not and could not use
this method. Even Herod could not. Only Pilate, by the authority vested in him by Rome,
the ruler of the nations, could crucify the Lord of glory (Luke 22:66-23:25).
The Nation of Israel
Although the nation of Israel, in the flesh,
was not founded on any association with crucifixion, it did commence in death. The
Creator must not have something with which to work. His glory demands that there be
nothing on which to base His achievements. So the nation of Israel began with the dead
bodies of Abraham and his wife. And from such a source will spring the greatest of all
nations. Neither were they petted and protected from all harm, so that they could become
greater than the rest by their own power. Rather the opposite, so that their future glory
will be entirely due to Yahweh Elohim Himself.
The sacred scrolls committed to Israel contained many types and
predictions concerning their promised Messiah, not only His glories, but His sorrows also.
But the latter did not appeal to them, so were largely overlooked. When He came to them in
lowliness, as a Man of sorrows, they rejected Him. Even His own disciples had overlooked
these, expecting that He was about to be redeeming Israel, rather than be rejected
and crucified. So, after His resurrection He said to them, "O foolish and tardy of
heart to be believing on all which the prophets speak! Must not the Christ be suffering
these things, and be entering into His glory?" And, beginning from Moses and from
all the prophets, He interpreted to them, in all the scriptures, that which concerned
Himself (Luke 24:19-27).
The Chief Priest
After He was arrested, Christ was taken to
the house of the chief priest (Luke 22:54). Although they charged Him with blasphemy and
demanded His death, and would probably have stoned Him if the Roman law had allowed it,
the chief priests were compelled to turn His execution over to the nations. If left to
Israel and their religious leaders, Christ would probably never have been done to death by
The law of Moses called for sacrifices for sin. The victim had to be
without blemish, so that there was no fault in it, no just cause for being killed. It was
the duty of the chief priest to see that this was so. In this light, it was right that
Caiaphas sought to put the great Sacrifice to death, but he was very wrong in his motives
and in trying to convict Jesus of blasphemy (Matt.26:57-68). Moreover, the sacrifices were
not allowed to suffer. The blood was drained from their veins, so that they lost all
sensation before they died. But Caiaphas allowed them to buffet Him and slap Him. The
blood was not allowed to leave Him until just before He let out His spirit
Under the law, in Israel, and especially in
connection with the sacrifices, crucifixion was unknown. The chief priest and Israel were
the instruments God used to accomplish the death of Christ, but not the form of that death
or the indignities and sufferings that accompanied it. Pilate was convinced that Christ
was not guilty, and sought to assert his own innocence, but he, and the nations whom he
represented are the means God used for the suffering and shame and the curse
divine that led Him to be forsaken by His El (Matt.27:46).
Pilate was a "good" politician. Though he was not deceived by
the priests and populace, and was convinced that Christ was not guilty, and desired to
release Him, yet he judged that the interests of the state demanded that the majority
should have their way, even though he washed his hands of it. Here we have a good example
of human government in this present wicked world. Justice must often give way to
expedience, and Gods word concerning His Christ receives no hearing except among the
few who have been chosen and called to suffer with Him.
Baptism and Crucifixion
Baptism was only a symbol of spiritual cleansing
under the law of Moses and the ministries of John and Christ. In Pauls evangel
it went much further, so that it signified death, and entombment, as well as rousing
from among the dead (Rom.6:4; Col.2:12). But there is no thought of shame or suffering
or alienation from God, which are the vital features of Christs death for us,
sinners of the nations. Crucifixion on our part goes much further and affects our life far
more vitally than baptism, to which no shame is attached.
The reason why Paul no longer baptized, after he had done so is that baptism
makes void the cross (1 Cor.1:17). This change in the apostles practice just at
the time when the present secret administration was being gradually introduced should show
clearly that, as an outward act, it is not in keeping with the foundation truth of this
The vast difference between baptism and crucifixion may best be seen in
the literal occurrences. The crucifixion degraded Christ to the lowest level of human
shame and abasement. What could be more disgraceful and humiliating than to be gibbeted on
a pole, suffering not only the insults of men, but the curse of God? In contrast, His tomb
(pictured by baptism), with its rolling stone as a door, was that of a rich and honorable
counselor, Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50).
Crucifixion, Brief in Time
The fact that Christ could have saved
the malefactor at the time, as the unbelieving criminal suggested (Luke 23:39), and, could
have saved Himself, as some suggested (Matt.27:40; Mark 15:30; Luke 23:37), and
indeed, it would have been possible to avoid the cross altogether, as His own
disciples desired (Matt.16:23; Mark 8:33)all this suggests that God had a most
important object in crucifixion, and that was the revelation of His highest attributes by
means of it. He could save none who were not lost, nor manifest the depth of His love
except to His enemies. But there is one vital difference, and that lies in the realm of time.
The "kenosis" or emptying Himself of the form of God to
become like a human, and the consequent humiliation and obedience even to the death of the
cross (Phil.2:6-8), occupied only about thirty-three years, a third of a century. In
contrast to this short span of time, His glory in the future as a result of this, will be
immeasurably prolonged. The first thirty years of His humanity was a comparatively mild
form of lowliness, without much suffering or dishonor. His ministry in Israel for three
years was accompanied by a greater measure of humiliation and disrepute due to the
priestly and secular rulers and unbelieving Jews, but tempered by the faithful few who
loved and adored Him. This lasted for only about a tenth as long as His previous
The climax of His career came when the religious leaders and political
powers abused him and reviled Him and mocked His royal rights with a crown of thorns, and
prepared to offer Him up as the Sacrificial Victim, finally fixing His human formupon a
pole. This was the lowest depth of depravity to which humanity could sink Him. This
occupied but a minute measure of His ministry, to be counted in hours. It brought Him as
low as man could bring Him, and is the basis for the truth of the cross, which speaks to
us of debasement, degradation, dishonor, and brought with it the curse of God Himself.
This terrible, intense torment lasted for three hours, but it is the basis of blessing for
the infinite future.
Shame and Glory
From this we can see two things clearly, that
future glory is based on a contrast with shame, but especially that the shame is
comparatively short, the glory of limitless duration. It will be of the greatest help to
us to seek to realize this, especially if we are in the midst of humiliation or pain or
perplexity, when due to faithfulness to God. The element of shame and disgrace, added by
crucifixion to the sacrifice of Christ, will find its counterpart in the sublime celestial
glories which will come to Him and to those who count themselves crucified with Him in
spirit. They, along with Him, will become channels of the highest blessing in the future,
among the celestials, but, with Him, they must first suffer, in a minute measure, the
hatred and contempt of the wicked world.
Although Peter refers to the crucifixion of Christ in the book of Acts
(Acts 2:36; 4:10), it is given to Paul, in his epistles, to speak of the crucifixion of
the believer together with Christ. It is Christs cross and our association with
Him that us with Him into glories of the Celestial sphere.
Knowing Gods plans for the blessing of those chosen in Christ in
the highest place among the celestials, it is easy to see why He was not only a Sacrifice
under the law, for those under it, like the offerings in Israel, but had to suffer much
direr pain and shame. His death was not merely for salvation from the penalty of sin and
transgression, but for justification and reconciliation and glorification of the believer
in close association with Christ Himself, in His great work of subjecting and reconciling
all to God the Father.
The Word of the Cross
By Adolph E Knoch
CRUCIFIED TOGETHER WITH HIM
The cross is the basis of the evangel for
today. The essential place of Christs humiliating death was never heralded before
Paul, and even he did not proclaim it in the book of Acts, because Israel was still on the
scene, and it was not yet recognized in their evangel. or that matter, it is not given its
proper place in Christendom today, which does that for which Paul was not commissioned,
and is founded on human wisdom and effort. The world, in its wisdom, demands something of
man, either the deeds that had to be done under the law, in Israel, such as repentance,
baptism, and corresponding conduct, or a life of doing and giving and self-improvement,
utterly ignoring the sentence of crucifixion passed upon it by the Supreme.
Nevertheless, with boldness and clarity, the evangel of grace and peace
has now been made known in Pauls epistles, firmly founded on the crucifixion of
Christ. "Yet we are heralding Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a snare, yet to the
nations stupidity" (1 Cor.1:23). "For if we have become planted together in the
likeness of His death, nevertheless we shall be of the resurrection also, knowing this,
that our old humanity was crucified together with Him ..." (Rom. 6:5,6).
"With Christ have I been crucified" (Gal.2:20).
When we died with Christ we did not die an ordinary death of gradual
dissolution, simply from lack of vitality. We died as sinners, as incorrigible criminals,
worthy of being wiped off the face of the earth. All this was within us, even if it never
showed much on the surface. Christ received our deserts. His death was fraught with a time
of terrible torture and disgrace from the hand of man and awful distress from the hiding
of Gods face.
Those Crucified With Christ
It may help us to grasp the momentous truth
of our crucifixion with Christ, in spirit, if we consider the literal occurrences when He
was nailed to the stake. He was not the only one who was executed in this way on that
occasion. Four in all, two robbers (Matt.27:38; Mark 15:27), and two malefactors (Luke
23:32), were crucified with Christ on that day. These were representative and
illustrative of the great truth that the world (Gal. 6:14), and the flesh (Gal.
5:24), and the old humanity (Rom. 6:6), and Paul (Gal. 2:20) and we ourselves
are reckoned to have died together with Him (Rom. 6:8-11; Col. 2:20), on that, the
greatest crisis in human history.
The Four Criminals
It is generally supposed that only two others
were crucified with Christ, but a careful consideration seems to show that there were two
kinds, malefactors and robbers, each of which represents a different division of mankind. Malefactors
are, literally, simply EVIL-ACTers. It is used only in Luke, which is written about
the Son of Adam, and includes a view of all humanity, all of whom do evil. All are
sinners. Robbers, however, which is used in Matthew, refers especially to the
people under law, and the nation who, not only sinned, but transgressed and offended. The
A.V. actually uses the word "rob" in Malachi 3:8 where the whole nation is
accused of defrauding Yahweh of tithes and heave offerings. In our Lords day,
especially at His trial and crucifixion, the chief priests were far more guilty than Herod
The World Crucified
The simple fact that Christ not only suffered
and died, but underwent the shameful, humiliating ordeal of crucifixion for the
world, should show that it greatly deserves the same sentence. But we will never be able
to see this if we do not view it as it appears in Gods sight, and consider it in its
relation to Him. Not until then will we, like the malefactor (Luke 23:41), acknowledge the
justness of our crucifixion, in spirit.
Let us consider mankind as a whole. We have Gods opinion of them
before the deluge: "And seeing is Yahweh Elohim that much is the evil of mankind in
the earth, and every form of the devices of its heart is but evil all its days" (Gen.
6:5). And is not the world today altogether deserving of a similar assessment?
When Paul writes, "May it not be mine to be boasting, except in
the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and
I to the world" (Gal. 6:14), he is not referring to the death of Christ
merely, for salvation, but the cross of Christ for humiliation. So few make the
distinction, but there is a tremendous difference. It is the shameful death. The
end of the flesh is in view here. There are all kinds of movements today to make man
better. They have been at it for four or five thousand years, and behold, where we are! We
cannot expect any more from human efforts now than in the past, for the simple reason that
God has already crucified the world.
The Believing Malefactor
Even though a malefactor, one of the men who
was crucified with Christ had faith in Him and looked to the future. He did
not even ask for present relief, but rebuked his companion for his lack of godly fear. He
then acknowledged the justice of his own judgment and recognized the sinlessness of the
Saviour. He had evidently heard of His proclamation of the kingdom and believed, so looked
forward, in faith, to a future salvation in that day. For those who are crucified with
Christ, there is no glorification in this life, but only in that which is to come. We are
"joint enjoyers of Christs allotment, if so be that we are suffering
together, that we should be glorified together also" (Rom. 8:17).
Of the four who were literally crucified with Christ, the believing
malefactor comes closest to our spiritual position. The unbelieving malefactor may well be
taken as representative of the world today. He it was who blasphemed Him, who
challenged Him to bring about a present salvation from the evils that beset them.
But the believer was like us. He acknowledged the justness of his fate, yet justified
Christ, and believed in His salvation in the future.
The Malefactor Stands for
Perhaps the most important point about this
malefactor is the total lack of good works, or any effort whatever to merit salvation.
Indeed, what could he have done in his position? He acknowledged his guilt, but had no
opportunity whatever to do any works fit for repentance. He begs to be remembered by the
Lord when He may be coming into His kingdom. But he had not fulfilled any of the
conditions for entrance into it. So our Lord does not promise this boon, but assures him
that he would be with Him under conditions the very opposite of the suffering and distress
which he was enduring. This was best expressed by the term "paradise."
The name paradise is often used in the Greek version of the Hebrew
Scriptures for a protected place, or garden. It is the Persian word for a park. It
describes, no doubt, a literal garden in the new earth (Rev. 2:7; 22:1-5), in the midst of
which will be the log of life, yet, at the same time, a symbol of future bliss in the
spiritual as well as the physical sphere. Our Lord chose this term as a type of future
felicity as a contrast to present suffering. Until He Himself returns in glory, the saints
have no promise of physical pleasure or glory apart from His presence. There is an earthly
paradise in the new earth. But Paul was snatched away to the third heaven, so it may also
be symbolic of future bliss in any location.
Present Pain and Future Bliss
The great difference between faith and
unbelief came to a focus at the crucifixion. The unbelieving malefactor, representative of
mankind as a whole, in accord with Lukes account, voices his skepticism by saying
"Are not you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" (Luke 23:39). But he received no
answer from our Lord. This exposes the heart of humanity. They want a present release
from their woes. They will follow a leader who will promise them health, wealth and
happiness in this life. The world is continually striving to improve the condition
of humanity in this eon and will follow any antichrist who promises them immediate relief
from their troubles. They do not believe God or look for bliss in the future, through His
Like the malefactor on the cross, we have no
promise of present relief. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we are under trial, as a
preparation and a contrast to future bliss, so that we will all the more glorify God for
it when it comes. God is faithful, so will not try us above our ability, and, as in the
case of the malefactor, we are told the sequel, in order to enable us to undergo it
(1 Cor. 10:11-13). The AV gives us a false hope in this passage, when it translates
"a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." This is self evident,
for, if we had a way of escape, what need is there of ability to bear it? No, indeed!
Apart from His presence in glory, our place is that which the world gave Him, in
crucifixion, like the malefactor who died in faith, and will not be glorified until Christ
comes in His kingdom.
Blessing Through Death
To the spiritual student, the Scriptures
contain intimations of blessing through death from the first, for only thus can God reveal
Himself as the Resurrection and the Life. To Adam and the race He gave the experience of
dissolution, dying. In His great love plan we can look at it only as a preparation for
resurrection, in which He may reveal Himself as the Life. Later, in preparation for
Israel, He gave some special experiences of life out of death. Abraham was as good as dead
before He gave life to the chosen Isaac was also doomed and resurrected in a figure. And
last and greatest of all, all our blessings come to us, not the life, but through the
death of Christ, His Son.
The Word of the Cross
By Adolph E Knoch
UNITY BY CRUCIFIXION
Paul writes of his personal relation to
crucifixion twice. Once, in connection with the Corinthians, he insists that he had not
been crucified for them (1 Cor. 1:13). And again, in relation to his own
justification, he says that he had been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20).
As he was the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), these seemingly contradictory statements
may help us to clarify our own relationship to the shameful death of our Saviour and
Justifier. The point is that neither Paul nor any other man is the center and unifier.
They are all reckoned as crucified criminals. Christ alone was crucified for them,
and so He is the Center and Basis of unity.
Death by crucifixion is the basis of the unity in the joint body of
Christ. Any other method will divide. Baptism is a good example. It united believers of
the Circumcision in the Acts period. Cornelius, the proselyte was also joined to them by
baptism (Acts 10:47-48). Paul himself was baptized (Acts 19:10), and baptized others. Why
did he not continue?
Baptism is not nearly so offensive as the cross. Hence Paul says
to the Corinthians (1:17), "Christ does not commission me to be baptizing, but to be
bringing the evangel, not in wisdom of word, lest the cross of Christ may be made void."
Paul and Crucifixion
First of all, let us acknowledge that Paul
really had been the greatest of all sinners, for he not only endorsed the assassination of
Stephen, but he devastated the ecclesia, going into the homes, dragged out men and women,
and gave them over to jail (Acts 8:1-3). Besides breathing out threatening and murder
against the Lords disciples in Jerusalem, he requested letters from the chief
priest, so that he might bind the saints in Damascus and lead them to Jerusalem (Acts
9:1-2). Was there ever any other private person who went to such lengths to wipe out the
disciples of Christ? The Saviour endured a most shameful death Himself in order to
reconcile and glorify sinners, but Paul sought to deal out distress and death to the
Some might suggest the high priests and Pilate, who actually were
responsible for Christs crucifixion, were
the most reprehensible, so they have the foremost places in the rank of
sinners. But God does not reckon that way. They were officials, and probably deemed it
their duty to please the populace. Pilate, especially, was not doing what he wished to do.
Besides, they were under the compulsion of the divine decree, and fulfilled the page of
prophecy. Their heart was not in it as was the case with Paul. So we cannot well dispute
Pauls claim to the foremost place in the rank of sinners.
Paul Crucified With Christ
Paul is probably the best example we have of
crucifixion with Christ. Although easily the foremost and finest example of the
so-called "Christian" life, his experience, his sufferings, his debasement, were
a tremendous contrast to the fortunate and honorable positions of the leaders of today.
Paul sought no following, no glory from men.
For his dastardly deeds Paul was crucified in Gods reckoning. The
unbelieving malefactor blasphemed Jesus and demanded "Are not you the Christ? Save
yourself and us!" Then, "answering, the other one, rebuking him, averred,
Yet you are not fearing God, seeing that you are in the same judgment! And we,
indeed, justly, for we are getting back the deserts of what we commit, yet this One
commits nothing amiss " (Luke 23:39-41). This should be the language of every
believer in this era of Gods grace. When our eyes are opened to see ourselves in His
light, then we acknowledge that the crucifixion of Christ for us, demands that, in
spirit, we are crucified with Him.
Paul Not Crucified For Us
Negatively, Paul was not crucified for
us (1 Cor.1:13). This is of far greater importance than appears on the surface,
especially in these last days. Positively it may be stated thus: In Pauls ministry
the crucified Christ is the only Center of unity. No other one was
crucified for us, so He alone is the focus of our affections. In Christendom great
men, good men, pious men, capable men, have risen and gathered disciples about themselves
or their teaching, but they have created conflict and confusion, and destroyed the unity
which depends alone on Christ and His crucifixion.
The Corinthian ecclesia was richly endowed
with gifts, yet inclined to division by following human leaders. In the beginning some of
the Corinthians became partisans for Paul. Some preferred Apollos, others Cephas. Yet
others would not join them, so made their own division under the name of Christ. Thus they
not only parted Christ among them, but strove with one another as to the right leader. At
that early stage of minority, before most of present truth had even been revealed and some
of it would eventually be discarded, when they were still observing by means of a mirror,
in an enigma (1 Cor.13:3-13), there was much more excuse. Christendom today is mostly in
the same condition.
It is easy to see why some of them were Paulists. He was the one who
brought the evangel to them. As he reminds them later, he planted. Apollos came later, and
irrigated (1 Cor.3:6). There seems to be no record that Cephas ever went there. But
none of these proclaimed themselves, but Christ. That there is a tendency today to be
partial to Paul, especially among those who are, in a measure, mature, can easily be
understood. But it is a very different matter than forming an exclusive party. Indeed,
Paul personally is not in question, but his teaching, and that should unite all the
saints, especially as a part of it is this very passage, which bases all unity on crucifixion,
which applies only to Christ Himself (1 Cor.1:10-13).
Crucifixion is the proper basis of all vital spiritual unity
among believers among the nations. As offenders against the Divine Majesty we all alike
deserve crucifixion. Not one is worthy to head a separate party. Especially today, almost
all saints are immature, and in different stages of development, and under the influence
of false teaching and practice, so they choose, or rather drift, into a "body"
with another head than the crucified Christ.
There is only one Christ and one cross, and
this should be the center and rallying point of all believers in Him. Paul and Apollos and
Cephas were all good and great men, but they divided those who followed them. Even Paul,
although he is the channel of the truth for us today, is not the center. He was not
crucified for our sakes! Christ is the focus of all Gods operations and the Head of
the body. But, for us, He is the Crucified, and we are associated with Him, not in the
earthly glories, but in the cross of His shame. There He was the lowest on earth, and we
with Him. Only thus can we be with Him as the Highest in glory (1 Cor.1:13-31).
The Word of the Cross
By Adolph E Knoch
THE STUPIDITY AND THE WISDOM
OF THE CROSS
A death of shame and ignominy is the very
opposite of what the world is striving for, and the pathway least able to lead to success
and glory. Yet in the case of Christ, His lifework was a failure, and His death was a
disgrace as judged by every human standard. No wonder, not only His lowly life, but His
scandalous death became a snare to the nation of Israel (1 Cor. 1:23), and they
repudiated Him. They, like the rest of the world, wanted a great Leader and a successful
King, Who will not be gibbeted on a pole, but triumph over all who dare to oppose Him.
Such a One they will have, in the future, but His earthly glories, as well as His
celestial supremacy, will be based on His death for deliverance, His suffering for
salvation, and His disgrace for glory.
The fleshly rite of circumcision was given to Abraham and to his people
as a sign of the cutting off of the flesh. But the chosen nation perverted it to a
badge of honor which elevates them above the other nations in the flesh. They reversed its
significance and cancelled its power. Not until they are taught to strip off the flesh by
the power of the spirit, will they be set over the other nations, not to tyrannize over
them and degrade them, but to teach and help them to know the blessing of subjection to
their Yahweh, the Subjector.
In Pauls day many of the saints were conducting themselves
as enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom he spoke often with lamentation
(Phil.3:18). Today Christendom as a whole adores the ornamental crucifix in their ritual,
but neither knows nor cares about conduct which is in accord with His death upon the
accursed stake, and our crucifixion with Him. Paul, in their day, exemplified this, so
that they could see it in action. But how few, today, even approach to it, or even desire
it? And how many oppose and decry it, even if a feeble attempt is made in that direction!
The Wisdom of the World
Worldly wisdom is the opposite of the word of
the cross. The wise of this world can see no sense in the cross of Christ, nor in a way of
life according to it. "For the word of the cross is stupidity, indeed, to those who
are perishing ....Christ crucified ... [is] to the nations stupidity" (1 Cor.
1:18,23). Their chief effort is to obtain as much wealth and honor and power as the world
can give, without any regard to the life to come. They do not realize that this life is a
very brief preparation for the perpetual hereafter (cf 2 Cor. 4:17).
Even if they could see the difference in time, it is even more
difficult for them to see the sense in undergoing suffering and shame in view of the
future, or how this can prepare them for the glory. Alas! Most believers, like the
Corinthians, do not realize that this present life is not our goal, but only a prelude to
perpetuity. Indeed, they might ask, If God is love, why does He not display it by present
earthly, soulish blessing? They cannot see that this brings little or none of the
heartfelt response that He craves, or that this prepares us for our great mission of
revealing His love to other creatures in the universe.
Stupidity In The Scriptures
The greatest stupidity, perhaps, is to be
ignorant of Gods words and ways, and so ignore them. That is the way of the world.
The supreme wisdom is to study Gods words and conform to them. That should be the
aim of all the saints. Almost everyone has a vague idea of what is meant by stupidity, yet
it may help us to comprehend its force in the Scriptures, especially when associated with
crucifixion. We will first consider the occasions on which our Lord used it in His
ministry. In each case there is an underlying principle that applies at all times, which
may help us avoid some of the stupidity with which we are engulfed.
A Lasting Foundation
Even in connection with the kingdom on earth,
this principle applies. Our Lord likened His hearers to two men, one prudent, the
other stupid. "Everyone, then, who is hearing these sayings of Mine and is doing them
shall be likened to a prudent man who builds his house on the rock. And the rain
descended, and the rivers came, and the winds blow and they lunge at that house, and it
does not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who is hearing these
sayings of Mine and not doing them shall be likened to a stupid man who builds his house
on sand. And the rain descended, and the rivers came, and the winds blow and they dash
against that house, and it falls: and the fall of it was great" (Matt.7:24-27).
The prudent man looked forward to the future. He knew, even as we all
realize to some extent, that the weather is changeable. Hence he reckoned with conditions
in the future, where the violence of the wind and water would not damage or destroy his
house. Consequently he founded it on a rock. We should also look ahead, and base our
doings on the only firm foundation in the universethe Word of God. But even the
rocks will melt in the final conflagration, so we must build on that which will also stand
the fire and be found in the new creation, in which we already have a place, in spirit.
Mans doing, mans word, mans world is continually
changing and shifting and forms no firm basis on which to build our lives. It is not
merely imprudent, but stupid, to found our future on anything less than the
immutable, lasting verities revealed to us through the Scriptures. Those to whom our Lord
spoke had to conform in order to enter the earthly kingdom. We have a much greater
and grander outlook. Would it not be stupid of us to base our lives on the present evil
and evanescent eon?
Later, Jesus said to the scribes and
Pharisees: "Woe to you, blind guides! who are saying, Whoever should be
swearing by the temple, it is nothing; yet whoever should be swearing by the gold of the
temple is owing. Stupid and blind! for which is greater, the gold, or the temple
that hallows the gold? And, Whoever should be swearing by the altar, it is nothing;
yet whoever should be swearing by the approach present upon it is owing. Stupid and
blind! For which is greater, the approach present or the altar that is hallowing the
approach present?" (Matt. 23:16-19).
The scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of our Lords
day, were blind as well as stupid. They put material riches above spiritual
values. Subconsciously, by their teaching, they exposed the lack of their own hearts. They
claimed that swearing by the temple caused no obligation, but swearing by the gold on it
was binding. But is not this true in religious circles today? The divine presence is not
nearly so binding as financial obligations. A man must pay his debts, but his obligations
to the Deity are not important and may be overlooked.
Stupid and Prudent
In the parable of the ten virgins
(Matt.25:1-12), Jesus spoke of five who were stupid, who got their torches without a
supply of extra oil. "Now in the middle of the night a clamor occurs: Lo! the
bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then roused were all those virgins, and they adorn
their torches. Now the stupid said to the prudent, Give us of your oil, for our
torches are going out. Yet the prudent answered, saying, No, lest at some time
there should not be sufficient for us and you."
For this life many seem to be prudent by making due provision
for the physical needs as long as they live. Like the five stupid virgins, they have
enough oil to last until the bridegroom comes, but have made no provision for the final
meeting. They prudently provide for this life, which may not last more then a few moments.
Even if it stretches out to a century, what is that in comparison to the rest of the eons,
or the unending consummation?
Wisdom and The Cross
What is the wisdom of this world? In order to
intelligently appreciate the wisdom of God, as exhibited in the cross of Christ, it would
be helpful to have some idea of what the world deems the highest wisdom. Recently my
attention was drawn to a public address on the subject, "What is wisdom?" As the
speaker was an author as well as a philosopher, and an acute thinker, it may be taken as
among the best that a godless human can produce. It was introduced by a fine
acknowledgment of the authors insignificance: "I feel like a droplet of spray
which, proudly poised for a moment on the crest of a wave, undertakes to analyze the
He commences well, as follows: "Ideally, wisdomis total
perspectiveseeing an object, event, or idea in all its pertinent
relationships. Spinoza defined wisdomas seeing things in view of eternity. I
suggest defining it as seeing things in view of the whole. Obviously we can merely approach
such a total perspective. To possess it would be to be God."
This is really a frank acknowledgement, not only of the limitation of
human wisdom, but of its fallibility and folly. In time he can see
only a little of the past, and none of the future. In space he can see only
fragments of the universe. Pure reason alone should convince him that he is in need of a
The Stupidity of Worldly Wisdom
Although the very definition which our
philosopher gives to human wisdom leads him to the very gateway of all wisdom, he is so
stupid that he will not enter. Since he that there is a God Who possesses all wisdom, why
does he not seek to learn from Him? He has evidently studied many books by human
philosophers, yet is still in darkness as to the greatest and most vital theme of human
existence. Indeed, he even mentions "Christ" as one of many wise men, but not
the Bible as Gods revelation, nor even hints that it denounces the very
"wisdom" that he possesses and recommends.
As he rejects the totality of divine wisdomas revealed in Scriptures,
he falls back upon patches of human experience: "The first lesson of philosophy is
that philosophy is the study of any part of our experience in the light of our whole
experience." The individual experiences of the mass of mankind and their vast variety
lead them to many and contradictory conclusions, all of which must be mingled with as much
folly as with wisdom. All mankind are locked up under sin (Gal. 3:22). Human experience is
a very meager source of wisdom.
The Larger Perspective
"The second lesson," we are told,
"is that the philosopher is a very small part of a very large whole ...not a
possessor, but a lover of wisdom ...fated ...never to possess, but only to desire and
adore" it. This seems a wise acknowledgment in a way, but, if wisdom is unattainable,
is it wise to spend a lifetime in seeking it? Later on he speaks of seeing things in a
larger perspective, and thus, at least, touching the skirts of wisdom.
In closing he recommends a perception of nature, of science and,
especially, of history as recorded in the written works of great men. A list is given of
the greatest of these, and, in this long list we read of Confucius, Buddha, Plato,
Euripedes, Seneca, etc. Nothing is said of the Word of God, which is the repository
of the only true wisdom, or even of Solomon, who focused so extensively on the subject, or
the very highest of all revelations of the mind of God, Gods secret wisdom, which
not one of the men of this eon knows (1 Cor.2:8).
Heralding Christ Crucified
"For since, in fact, in the wisdom of
God, the world through wisdom knew not God, God delights, through the stupidity of the
heralding, to save those who are believing, since, in fact, Jews signs are requesting, and
Greeks wisdom are seeking, yet we are heralding Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a
snare, yet to the nations stupidity, yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:21-24).
The Word of the Cross
By Adolph E Knoch
According to his Hebrew name, Adam (Hb. adm,
most-like) resembled his Creator more than any other creature on earth, so that he was
given the position of subjector over them, as Elohim possessed over him. This was passed
on to his posterity. It includes the subjection of the sexes, the elder over the younger,
the firstborn over his brethren and of humanity as a whole over the lower creatures. But,
in each case, this was to be only an image and reflection of the subjection of the whole
of humanity to El, the universal Subjector, so that they would learn to know Him, although
He was imperceptible to their physical senses. Their failure, moreover, would enable Him
to reveal to them the treasuries of His grace and love; which was His ultimate object.
Ideally, then, humanity is a social order based on subjection, in which
each member should be subject to another above it, and all, even the highest be controlled
by the Supreme. So it will be in the consummation. Our Lord will subject all to His
Father, and then be subject Himself (1 Cor.15:28), and thus transform humanity into a
family, with the Subjector as its Father. Since Adam transgressed and offended, mankind as
a whole has refused to be subject, so God appointed a To-subjector (Eloah) to subordinate
them to Him. But when He emptied Himself of His supernal glories, and came as a lowly
Human to woo and win them by goodness and grace, they not only rejected Him and killed
Him, but crucified Him, putting Him under the curse of God for a time.
That was the spiritual climax of human history. Because He outranks all
human nobility in His ancestry, having been the Original of Gods creation
(Rev.3:14), and having occupied the most glorious place in His presence (John 17:5), being
inherently in the form divine so that He need rob Him of nothing in order to appear as His
equal (Phil. 2:6,7), being so supernally pre-eminent, and then voluntarily descending to
the level of a lowly human, formed like a slave, spreading more physical as well as
spiritual blessing among His people, what was His reward? He richly deserved the greatest
gift that humanity could give, the highest honor ever handed to a mortal, which, thank
God, He will yet receive.
But this was not all by any means. He was Gods chosen One to
bring the greatest blessing to humanity. He was, even before He came in the form of
humanity, the great To-subjector, the Eloah, Who has the power to subdue all to the
Fathers gentle sway, Who, even then, as a lowly human, could command twelve legions,
or nearly a hundred thousand powerful heavenly messengers to do His bidding. Men should
have feared Him, they should have honored Him, they should have revered Him, they should
have loved Him and showered on Him all the blessings and honors that the race could
The Death Of The Cross
Instead, the spiritual representatives of the
holiest earthly nation, Israel, and a ruler of the mightiest mundane power, Rome, joined
hands to bring Him down to the lowest most dishonorable death that mankind can devise, and
sink Him below the curse of God, His Subjector and Father. As Jerusalem was the only place
where these two species of subjection were found together it was necessary that He should
go there for this display of humanitys utter failure. There the supreme Priest and
of the universe delivers Himself into the highest spiritual and political powers of
humanity so that they could display their utter failure as subjectors.
Some may surmise that the chief priest of Israel and the proconsul of
Rome were especially bad and blood-thirsty men, but the record seems to indicate the
contrary. Caiaphas, the chief priest did not pronounce the sentence alone. He put it up to
the elders and the whole Sanhedrin, the highest religious heads of humanity (Luke 22:66).
The entire multitude led Him to Pilate (Luke 23:1). So with Pilate. He found no fault in
Jesus and sought to shift the responsibility to Herod. Even there the chief priests and
the scribes took the lead in denouncing Him (Luke 23:10). Twice more Pilate sought to set
Him free (Luke 23:13-16,22). It was the multitude of humanity, especially enlightened
religious humanity who encompassed the crucifixion of Christ. They were a sample of
the rottenness of the whole race.
What is the just Judges sentence on such a horrible humanity?
What says His holy law? In it we read "Soul for soul, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
hand for hand, foot for foot" (Deut.19:21). That defines for us the doom which
humanity deserves. It calls for crucifixion, the same doom it dealt out to Him, and
thus the sentence stands against the whole human race for the whole of this
administration. That is the judgment against it in Gods sight, and should be in
When Adam sinned, the judgment was not
confined to him, but the sentence has passed on to the whole race. Humanity as a unit
receives this result of Adams sin. So it is with the effects of Christs
obedience. His death is reckoned to all: "...as it was through one offense for all
mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for
lifes justifying. For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many
were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be
constituted just" (Rom.5:18,19).
Indeed, Christs death was for all, and will yet release
all from the Adamic doom. Now, in spirit, those who believe, the crucifixion of
humanity, including their own, as the just judgment of God. We see our baptism into the
death of Christ as meaning "our old humanity was crucified together with Him" (cf
Rom.6:3-6). But we also see this as including all mankind: "For the love of
Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all,
consequently all died ..." (2 Cor.5:14).
The grandest of Christs future glories
will not be based upon any eminence that He attained in His earthly career, but rather
upon the depth of His humiliation. So, let us not imagine that the future fate of those
called into the fellowship of Gods Son depends upon the fame and fortune which they
attain in this life, but rather upon the hardship and humiliation that comes to them
because of faithfulness to Him. And this is especially true if it comes from the religious
dignitaries of the day. Pilate, of himself, would never have harmed the Man of Galilee,
but the chief priests, the respected representatives of Israels Elohim, they
demanded that He be crucified.
Humanity being "most like" to the Subjectors, Christ also
came to be in the likeness of humanity (Phil.2:7), even though His spirit did not come
through Adam, but direct from God. Although He was rejected and crucified by humanity, or,
rather, because He, as a Human, descended to the deepest depth of dishonor for humanity,
He will ascend to the highest heights of grandest glory. "Wherefore, also, God highly
exalts Him, and graces Him with the name that is above every name, that in the name of
Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, and every
tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the
Included in this exaltation and prior to its full realization, He will
call to Himself a selection of saints Who, in spirit, were crucified with Him, and, in a
minute measure, have suffered some of the shame and humiliation of His crucifixion. For to
us it is graciously granted, "for Christs sake, not only to be believing on
Him, but to be suffering for His sake also" (Phil.1:29).
Consequently, All Died
Furthermore, our hearts leap with still
growing exultation as we contemplate the certain consequences of the death of all
humanity in the death for them of the Son of Gods love, Who so loves them. If One
died for all, consequently all died (2 Cor.5:14). But if all died, if all are included in
the crucifixion of the old humanity, consequently all shall be vivified in Christ (cf 1
Cor.15:22) and come to know the joy and peace of living, not to themselves, but to the One
dying and being roused for their sakes (cf 2 Cor.5:15).
The Word of the Cross
By Adolph E Knoch
THE CRUCIFIXION OF THE WORLD
God has three distinct, yet parallel lines in
carrying out His grand purpose of revealing Himself. One operates in the material, one in
the temporal, and the other the spiritual sphere. One is concerned with the heavens and
the earth, the second with the eons, the third with the worlds. These run parallel
in space, time and spiritual operation. In these there are three major divisions,
conforming with the three heavens and earths, or five minor divisions, corresponding to
the five eons or worlds. The material changes are comparatively easy to grasp, and the
temporal, the eons, are comparatively simple, but His spiritual operations are more
difficult, yet they may be seen and apprehended best by their association with the
corresponding earths and eons.
The material creation is by far the best example of order which our
senses can perceive. The finest human fabrication cannot compare with the solar
"system" or with the earth, even in its present state of disintegration. The
Scriptures often use this system to illustrate the "world" of humanity, as when
our Lord told His disciples, "I am the light of the world" (John.8:12). That is,
apart from Him, mankind gropes in the dark, and does not really know what it is doing or
whither it is going, or even why it exists.
The essential meaning of the Greek word for world,
is system, order, or adornment. This is easily remembered by our English derivative cosmetic,
a substance used for human adornment. system is its basic thought which is largely
preserved in the scholarly name for the physical universe, the cosmos, which the
dictionary explains as an orderly and harmonious system, contrasted with chaos. Indeed,
the CV translates the verb adorn. Slaves are to adorn the teaching
(Titus.2:10; 1 Tim.2:9). The walls of the new Jerusalem are to be adorned with
precious stones (Rev.21:19). This should always be remembered when the word is used in a
context which implies something good.
The Greek word for "world" may also be rendered
"adornment" (1 Pet.3:3). There is an element of beauty in all orderly
arrangement, so that the "world," as created, was a beautiful as well as an
efficient implement for the revelation of God in the beginning, and will be in the
consummation. It may be applied to the constitution of human society, especially before
sin entered, and when the relations of Adam and Eve to the lower creatures, to each other,
and to Elohim were still unspoiled. And it will also apply, with fuller force, to the
future, when all creatures will be in harmony with the Father.
The World And The Saints
The fact that the present world is subject to
the just verdict of God (Rom.3:19), a criminal as it were ready for trial and sentence,
and enemy of the great Judge, while the believer has been justified from all sin and
transgression, and is reconciled with God, constitutes the great gulf between the called
and the world. But it is not easy to realize how great this chasm is, in practice, and
very few, if any, of us are able to walk in fullest recognition of His truth. It may help
us, therefore to consider the contrasts as we find them in the case of Gods Son,
when He was in the world, as revealed in Johns account, and then those which apply
directly to us, as presented in Pauls epistles.
The Son and The World
The key to the character of the world of
mankind lies in its relation to God through His Son. The world came into being through
Him, yet, when He became flesh and was in the world, it failed to recognize Him. Even His
own nation rejected Him, except the little band who believed on Him and accepted Him, who
were especially empowered for this privilege by God. Expressed by means of an illuminating
figure of speech the world of mankind had reverted to a chaos like the physical earth at
the disruption (Gen. 1:2). They were in darkness, and He came as a light. But they did not
like the light, but loved the darkness, because their deeds were evil (John 1:8-12).
In such a case the just course would be to judge the world, and deal
with men according to their deserts. Our Lord had the power and the right. He could have
called more then twelve legions of messengers to enforce His just sentence (Matt. 26:53),
at anytime. Even the might of Rome could not have withstood His verdicts. But He did not,
at that time, seek to assert His power, or to set right the evils of the world. Indeed,
the machinations of the Adversary, and the world which was under his influence, were the
essential background for the display of His highest and precious attributes, His grace and
love. Apart from His presence we would never have known the wickedness of the world, or
the goodness and grace of God. We know so little of the evil of the world today because we
offer so little contrast to it.
The Lamb Of God
When John the baptist introduced Jesus to
Israel, He did not announce Him as the grand King for Whom Israel was looking and longing,
but as the great Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Who will take away the sin, not merely of
Israel, but of the whole world. In other words, His attitude toward the world was
an expression of Gods sacrificial love, rather than one of condemnation.
Judgment must come, in the future kingdom, but not during His sojourn among them, in His
The Hatred Of The World
The world did not fully vent its hatred of
Gods Son until His death upon the accursed stake. Then the two principal divisions
of world power, the ecclesiastical and the political, joined in condemning Him, the
priests because He exposed their hypocrisy and the political powers because He threatened
their authority. Between them both He seemed to sink to the lowest level of human weakness
and shame. In reality, however He offered the Sacrifice that settled for all sin, and laid
the foundation for all future power and glory. Then it was that the world exposed its true
character. It condemned itself when it crucified the Lord of glory. Throughout this eon it
is worthy of the fate it dealt out to the Son of God. Let us give it this shameful place
in our estimation.
The hatred of the world culminated in the crucifixion of Christ, but it
did not cease then. It still continues in the various phases of the world, especially the
ecclesiastical, for our realm, unlike that of Israel, is not on earth but inherent in the
heavens (Phil. 3:20), so we must be subject to the superior authorities on earth
(Rom.13:1). But, though we do not wrestle with blood and flesh, we do wrestle with the
spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials (Eph. 6:10-13). In place of Pilate and
the Roman world power, we are opposed by spirit forces among the celestials. This is the
principal difference between our opposition and that of our Lords day.
There is a widespread idea that, since the crucifixion and the spread
of Christianity, the world is becoming better. Indeed, the "church" seems to
cherish the mistaken notion that world betterment is its chief function! The fallacy of
this false inference is evident from the fact that, instead of improving in Gods
sight, it is fast approaching, if it is not already in, one of the perilous periods which
characterize the last days. Every one of the twenty indictments of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, from
selfishness to a denial of the power of devoutness, is abundantly evident. Politically,
notwith-standing the union of the nations, there is perplexity and fear. Morally there is
steady deterioration. Religiously, formality and outward show has largely replaced
spiritual power. The world is worse and ripe for judgment.
Our Present Place In The World
It is of utmost importance that the saints
grasp their present relation to the world, for, while they are in this world, they
are not of it. God does not, as a rule, call the wise of the world, or the
powerful, or the noble, and those who are something, but rather the stupid, and the weak
and the ignoble, and the contemptible, and those considered nothing. The reason is simple.
No flesh at all shall boast in His sight. There is to be no boasting except in the
Lord (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
In his contact with the Corinthians, Paul had
already declared this truth by his actions, which, we may well believe, were more
effective than words. No doubt he was far superior to most other men in word and wisdom,
and he had an excellent opportunity to display it, especially in Greece, where such gifts
were highly esteemed. But his theme, a crucified Saviour, was by no means such as would
appeal to his audience, nor could it be enforced by the usual persuasive arguments. Apart
from Gods intervention by His spirit there was no likelihood of any response. His
weakness, fear, and trembling cancelled his personal power, so made room for the outflow
of Gods spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
The cross, situated at the very center of the eons and the worlds is
the climax of all wisdom when viewed from the divine standpoint. No other occurrence
during the eons or in the worlds so clearly reveals, not only the ruin of man, but the
love of God, as the crucifixion of the Lord of glory, the utter debasement
of the highest of all Gods creatures, the divine curse resting on the Beloved of His
heart, for the sake of His sinful creatures. It is utterly impossible to even imagine any
other action that would so completely demonstrate the fullness of the divine affection.
The world was crucified to Paul and he to the
world by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). While the world directly in view
here is the world of Judaism, it, in fact, is but a picture of the greater system in which
we all presently live. The spirit of both is boasting in the flesh. All such glory is
shameful, and will give place to a new creation (Gal. 6:15). Most of us have a very vague
notion of the force of the term "world" in this connection, and of its place in
Gods plan. It is used of the various systems which He uses during the eonian
times. Like the respective epochal eons, the five corresponding worlds are arranged as a
reversal. The first world was created good, and so with the last. The second from the
beginning and end see the entrance and exit of evil, under the first and the last Adams.
The central wicked world, in which we live, is the worst of all and comes to its climax in
the cross, the summit of human depravity, and will end in the impending era of Gods
The Various Worlds
There are five different "worlds"
mentioned in Scripture which vary much in character, according to the eon in which each is
found. We live in the present wicked eon (Gal. 1:4), so it is a hateful (John.
15:18), corrupt (2 Pet. 1:4), world. But the first and last worlds have no such character.
Before the disruption, ere sin had entered and man had not even been created, there is no
intimation of wickedness. So, also, in the world of the new creation, after the great
white throne judgment, everyone is ready to be subject to God, the Father. These two
worlds are not wicked, by any means.
Only because the first, faultless world was not adapted to bring
about Gods glorious goal, was it rejected and ruined and readjusted for the
first phase of His dealings with humanity. This was altogether according to Gods
will, and not in the least due to human failure or transgression, although it prepared for
it and foreshadowed it. As the great Subjector of all, He not only had the right to
work His will in the physical realm, but His innate love demanded reciprocation, and fully
justified every temporal evil that would make it possible for Him to reveal His fatherly
affection for the creatures of His hand and heart.
The Ancient World
The worlds before and after the present
wicked world are alike in this, that subjection, or government, is under the first Adam
and his sons in the past, and under the Second Adam in the future. There will be a vast
advance in the future, but is is still necessary to deal in judgment with individuals and
nations. In the ancient world we have the problem of evil, the disruption of the first
earth, repeated in the spiritual sphere. We are now distinctly told that Yahweh Elohim
Himself caused the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to grow in the garden (Gen.2:9).
Adam did not plant it there, nor did the Adversary. It was Gods doing, and in later
revelationHe definitely takes the responsibility (cf Rom.11:32). The reaon is
clear. Good cannot be really "known" or appreciated apart from the experience of
The Present Wicked World
We are now prepared to see why this world is
wicked beyond the rest, and should be crucified. Essentially, wickedness is insubjection
to the Deity, Who takes the title of Subjector during the eonian times, in which the world
systems operate. The worlds before and after this are held in a measure of subjection by
Adam and his greater Son, but today there is no head or central authority in charge of
mankind. Noahs eldest son did not take over the rule of the rest. The divine right
of kings is a myth, except in the case of His own nation, Israel. Even there, the Only
One Who is equipped to subject others to the Supreme Subjector was crowned with thorns and
crucified. The world that committed this accursed crime is fit for nothing else than
The Fourth World
As the deluge destroyed the previous world
and prepared for the present, so the impending judgments will clear the scene for
Messiahs kingdom. As in the days of Noah, so it will come, unexpectedly, and by
means of tremendous physical catastrophies, clear the scene for the reign of Christ
Himself. Because of His presence and power, it will be a glorious world compared with the
previous ones, but evil and enmity will only be supressed on the part of the other
nations. So it, more definitely than other worlds, is limited in time (to a thousand
years). Then Satan is loosed and deceives the people for the last time. Thus even this
world has a share of evil, to set forth the good.
The Fifth World
The fifth world is the result of a new
creation, and differs from the first largely in that it is the fruit of its disruption, as
well as the other worlds (Rev. 21-22). But, even with all its many blessings, it is not
the consummation, when God becomes All in all. The lake of fire is still present (Rev.
The blessings are largely confined to one nation, Israel, and their
holy city, New Jerusalem, to which the nations bring their glory. They will still need
healing (Rev. 22:2). Some will be unjust and filthy (Rev. 22:11). Without the city are
evil characters (Rev. 22:15). Throughout the worlds and eons, evil has its place, as
Gods means of revealing to mankind the innate operations of His heart.
The Final System
Only Paul can carry us beyond the heavens
into the celestial regions, or beyond the eons in the course of time. At the consummation
all sovereignty and authority and power, the kingdom of Israel and the nations will be
abolished. Those who have died, and are in the lake of fire, which is the second death,
will be vivified. Even the Son Himself, Who has succeeded in subjecting all to God, will
Himself be subject, that God may be All in all. This is the final, system, in which all
have been headed up in the Christ (Eph. 1:10), Who then brings all under the august
Headship of the Father.