Scripture Queries and Answers: Right Hand of God to Come Down; 1 Cor. 15:47; ROM 5:11, HEB 2:17

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A.—We may not rightly set scripture against scripture, but are to believe all. The Holy Spirit is now come, as Christ went on high to send Him to abide forever with us and in us. But this is not the same as Christ's presence, promised conditionally on the obedience of the assembly or the individual saint, which is in no way to leave God's right hand. He is there bodily, but deigns to vouchsafe His presence here also, which we by faith enjoy in the Spirit. Precious as is the truth of the Holy Spirit's presence, faith does not forego these comforting assurances. Prayer and discipline are only special cases of the more general truth, that Christ may be counted on to be in the midst where two or three are gathered to His name. So, even when the Lord appeared extraordinarily to the apostle, and more than once, He did not leave heaven; yet it was all real. Mystery is no less true than material fact, far more momentous, and inseparable from Christ, as Christians know Him at any rate. We walk by faith, and own scripture as absolutely authoritative.
A.—The assertion that the Word was in any real sense man, before He was made flesh, derives no authority from this text or any other. It is a dreamy fable. There was purpose of course, but more seems here meant and without warrant. The divine nature which was His eternally could of course connect itself with human nature, as in fact it did to form the person of Christ, Who could therefore be characterized as of, or out of, heaven. But this sure truth is very different from an unmeaning jargon unless it have a false meaning. Even to babble about the Son's person is eminently perilous and profane.
A.—Not so, but in the R. V. The late Abp Trench (Synonyms of the N. T., seventh ed. 276) owns that the word “atonement,” by which our (A.) Translators have once rendered καταλλαγή (Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)), has little by little shifted its meaning, and confesses that, were the translation now for the first time made, “atonement” would plainly be “a much fitter rendering of ἱλασμός,” as “reconciliation” of the term in Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11). Indeed no Christian scholar can doubt it. It is therefore astounding confusion for anyone, not merely to go back to “atonement,” which the present force of our language forbids, but to imagine this to be its primary meaning and according to its Biblical usage, if we mean the original, which of course alone is authoritative. The simple and certain fact is that our A. V., now at least, is doubly incorrect; it gives “atonement” in Romans, where “reconciliation” is the sole right rendering; as “making atonement for,” or expiating, is requisite in Hebrews. A similar blunder pervades the Ο.Τ. rendering of the corresponding Hebrew term. To reproduce that error is strange, especially with a view to clearness and accuracy of statement, which it destroys. Wiclif and the Rhemish were right as to Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11); which fact goes far to convict of error the others from Tyndale, notwithstanding the amiable prelate's desire to excuse it on the ground of the language shifting. On the other hand, Wiclif's “merciful to” is very inadequate in Heb. 2:1717Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17), as Tyndale's “to pourge” is incorrect and rather the effect, which has its own proper expression, though followed by all the older English save the Rhemish (here as usual servile to the very odd “repropitiaret” of the Vulgate). In the R. V. of this text to make “atonement” takes the place of “reconciliation” very properly. Καταλλαγή in the N. T. sense is unknown to the Septuagint. Trench's doctrine of “reconciliation” is well meant, but, like that of theologians in general, infirm and clouded. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Such was His aspect in the incarnate Word. But man, ungodly and implacably hostile, rejected Christ even to the death of the cross; wherein God made Him sin for us, and raised Him from the dead for our justification. Therefore, justified by faith, as being reconciled by His death even when enemies, we shall much more be saved by His life. To be reconciled to God supposes more than atonement, redemption from the enemy, and justification; it comprehends, besides, ourselves set in relationship with God righteously, according to the purpose of His grace. It means, neither changing God's mind from alienation into love, nor merely man brought out of his enmity to God, but the God of love and holiness having so wrought in the sacrifice of Christ, that He can righteously send the gospel of grace to every creature, and establish every believer in a new and steadfast relationship of favor with Himself.