Discourses and Saying of our Lord (1852)
Expository Discourses on 1 Peter
(On the New Heavens and Earth ; End of the ‘World’)
” ‘Heaven and earth passing,’ understood literally, is the dissolution of the present system of the universe, and the period when that is to take place, is called the ‘end of the world.’ But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens” (vol. 1, p. 170)
‘Dr. Owen’s remark is full of good sense-” If the Scripture has more than one meaning, it has no meaning at all: ” and it is just as applicable to the prophecies as to any other portion of Scripture.’– Dr. John Brown, Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah, p. 5, note.
(On Hebrews 12:25-29 ; End of the ‘World’ ; Double-Fulfillment Theory)
“The period of the close of the one dispensation and the commencement of the other, is spoken of as “the last days,” and “the end of the world,” and is described as such a shaking of the earth and heavens, as should lead to the removal of the things which were shaken (Hag. ii.6, Hen xiv. 26,27).
“It appears, then, that is Scripture be the best interpreter of Scripture, we have in the Old Testament a key to the interpretation of the prophecies in the New. The same symbolism is found in both, and the imagery of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets helps us to understand the imagery of St. Matthew, St. Peter, and St. John. As the dissolution of the material world is not necessary to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, neither is it necessary to the accomplishment of the predictions of the New Testament. But though symbols are metaphorical expressions, they are not unmeaning. It is not necessary to allegorise them, and find a corresponding equivalent for every trope; it is sufficient to regard the imagery as employed to heighten the sublimity of the prediction and to clothe it with impressiveness and grandeur. There are, at the same time, a true propriety and an underlying reality in the symbols of prophecy. The moral and spiritual facts which they represent, the social and ecumenical changes which they typify, could not be adequately set forth by language less majestic and sublime. There is reason for believing that an inadequate apprehension of the real grandeur and significance of such events as the destruction of Jerusalem and the abrogation of the Jewish economy lies at the root of that system of interpretation which maintains that nothing answering to the symbols of the New Testament prophecy has ever taken place. Hence the uncritical and unscriptural figments of double senses, and double, triple, and multiple fulfillments of prophecy. That physical disturbances in nature and extraordinary phenomena in the heavens and in the earth may have accompanied the expiring throes of the Jewish dispensation we are not prepared to deny. It seems to us highly probable that such things were. But the literal fulfillment of the symbols is not essential to the verification of prophecy, which is abundantly proved to be true by the recorded facts of history.” (vol. i. p.200).
(On I Peter 4:7 ; The End of the ‘World’)
“After some deliberation I have been led to adopt the opinion of those who hold that “the end of all things” here is the entire end of the Jewish economy in the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the holy people. That was at hand; for this epistle seems to have been written a very short while before these events took place, not improbably after the commencement of the “wars and rumours of wars” of which our Lord spake. This view will not appear strange to any one who has carefully weighed the terms in which our Lord had predicted these events, and the close connection which the fulfillment of these predictions had with the interests and duties of Christians, whether in Judea or in Gentile countries.
It is quite plain that in our Lord’s prediction the expressions “the end,” and probably “the end of the world,” are used in reference to the entire dissolution of the Jewish economy. The events of that period were very minutely foretold, and our Lord distinctly stated that the existing generation should not pass away till all things respecting “this end” should be fulfilled, This was to be a season of suffering for all; of trial, severe trial, to the followers of Christ; of dreadful judgment on His Jewish opposers, and of glorious triumph to His religion. To this period there are repeated references in the apostolical epistles. “Knowing the time,” says the Apostle Paul, “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” “Be patient,” says the Apostle James; “stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” “The Judge standeth before the door.” Our Lord’s predictions must have been very familiar to the minds of Christians at the time this was written. They must have been looking forward with mingled awe and joy, fear and hope, to their accomplishment: “looking for the things which were coming on the earth;” and it was peculiarly natural for Peter to refer to these events, and to refer to them in words similar to those used by our Lord, as he was one of the disciples who, sitting with his Lord in full view of the city and temple, hears these predictions uttered.
The Christians inhabiting Judea had a peculiar interest in these predictions and their fulfillment. But all Christians had a deep interest in them. The Christians of the regions in which those to whom Peter wrote resided were chiefly converted Jews. As Christians they had cause to rejoice in the prospect of the accomplishment of the predictions, as greatly confirming the truth of Christianity and removing some of the greatest obstructions in the way of its progress, such as persecutions by the Jews, and the confounding of Christianity with Judaism on the part of the Gentiles, who were accustomed to view its professors as a Jewish sect. But while they rejoiced, they had cause to “rejoice with trembling,” as their Lord had plainly intimated that it was to be a season of severe trial to his friends, as well as of fearful vengeance against His enemies. “The end of all things,” which was at hand, seems to be the same thing as the judgment of the quick and the dead, which the Lord was ready to enter on- the judgment, the time for which was come, which was to begin with the house of God, and then to be executed fully on those who obeyed not the Gospel of God, the unbelieving Jews, in which the righteous should scarcely be saved, and the ungodly and wicked should be fearfully punished.
The contemplation of each such events as just at hand was well fitted to operate as a motive to sobriety and vigilance unto prayer. These were just the tempers and exercises peculiarly called for in such circumstances, and they are just the dispositions and employments required by our Lord when He speaks of those days of trial and wrath: “Take heed to yourselves,” says our Lord, “lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life and so that day come on you unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all who dwell on the earth. Watch, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” It is difficult to believe that the apostle had not these very words in his mind when he wrote the passage now before us.” (Expository Discourses on 1 Peter, vol. ii. pp.292-294)
(On Hebrews 10:25)
“The day’ here referred to seems plainly the day of the destruction of the Jewish State and Church. That day had been foretold by many of the prophets, and with peculiar minuteness by our Lord Himself: (Luke 21:8-12)…”These events were now very near; and the harbingers of their coming were well fitted to quicken to holy diligence the Hebrew Christians, that they might escape the coming desolation.”
(On Hebrews 1:2)
“…the meaning is, towards the conclusion of the Jewish dispensation. It seems equivalent to the expressions used by the Apostle, 1 Cor, 10:11, ‘the ends of the world (age) are come’-the conclusion of the Mosaic economy; Gal. 4:4, ‘the fulness, or the fulfillment of time’-the accomplishment or termination of the period assigned for the duration of the Mosaic economy; Eph. 1:10, ‘the dispensation of the fulness of times’-the economy which was to be introduced when the times of the Mosaic economy were fulfilled; Heb. 9:26, ‘the end of the world,’ literally ‘of the ages’-the period of the termination of the Mosaic economy-the time when the present age or world was about to be changed into the coming age-the world to come. The Christian revelation was begun to be made in the conclusion of the Jewish age. It was before the conclusion of that age that God spake to the Jews by His Son, who, according to our Lord’s parabolical representation, was sent last of all to the husband men: ‘He sent forth His Son made under the law.’ His personal ministry, and for some time that of His Apostles, was confined to them; and though by His death the Mosaic economy was virtually abrogated, yet it was not in fact dissolved till forty years afterwards, in the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, and the consequent final cessation of its services.”
(On I Peter 4:17-19)
“There seems here a reference to a particular judgment or trial, that the primitive Christians had reason to expect. When we consider that this epistle was written within a short time of the commencement of that awful scene of judgment which terminated in the destruction of the ecclesiastical and civil polity of the Jews, and which our Lord had so minutely predicted, we can scarcely doubt of the reference of the apostle’s expression. After having specified wars and rumours of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, as symptoms of “the beginning of sorrows,” our Lord adds, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my sake.” “They shall deliver you up to councils and to synagogues, and shall be beaten,” etc. (Matt. 24:9-13,22)
“This is the judgment which, though to fall most heavily on the Holy Land, was plainly to extend to wherever Jews and Christians were to be found, “for where the carcase was, there were the eagles to be gathered together;” which was to begin at the house of God, and which was to be so severe that “the righteous should scarcely,” i.e. not without difficulty, “be saved.” They only who stood the trial should be saved, and many would not stand the trial. All the truly righteous should be saved; but many who seemed to be righteous would not endure to the end, and so should not be saved, etc. Some have supposed the reference to be to the Neronian persecution, which by a few years preceded the calamities connected with the Jewish wars and the destruction of Jerusalem.” (ibid., vol. ii. p 357)
(On the “Double Fulfillment Theory”)
‘Dr. Owen’s remark is full of good sense-” If the Scripture has more than one meaning, it has no meaning at all: ” and it is just as applicable to the prophecies as to any other portion of Scripture.’ (Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah, p. 5, note.)