Volume 48

The Lord's Coming (5)

J. Taylor

Page: 359

1 Peter 1:6 - 9; 1 Peter 4:12,13, 1 Peter 5:1 - 4; 2 Peter 1:16 - 21; 2 Peter 3:1 - 10

J.T. It will be borne in mind that these readings are on the subject of the Lord's coming, taking it in sections with a view to being constructive, and to this end the subject is being considered in relation to the purport of the books read.

Peter clearly deals with the government of God. The address in verse 1 would indicate this, for he writes "to the sojourners of the dispersion"; that is, the Jews that had been dispersed. Their proper setting would be in the land of Canaan, but under the government of God they had been dispersed throughout the countries mentioned. It was a question of God's governmental dealings with them, but as dispersed they find the Messiah outside the land of promise. The teaching of these epistles is to show that, notwithstanding the governmental dealings of God -- indeed, as accepting them -- we may come into the greatest blessings from God. The governmental dealings are not intended to hinder, but to promote our blessing.

Another thing to be borne in mind in this inquiry is that Peter in his early ministry speaks about the heavens; that the heavens must receive Christ "till the times of the restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets", (Acts 3:21). So that we are in the very midst of this time -- the period of the Lord's presence in heaven as Man -- His return to restore all things being now near.

J.S. They were sojourners there, according to the ways of God for a certain period.

J.T. Well, I think that is the point in the passage. According to Jeremiah, the salvation of the Jews at a certain time lay in going into captivity, both Jeremiah and

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Ezekiel make that a point. Now they are in the dispersion, but they are there as sojourners; they are not settling down among the nations as of them. Furthermore, they have a heavenly calling, as the apostle says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance, reserved in the heavens for you, who are kept guarded by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time", (1 Peter 1:3 - 5). So that having accepted the dispersion, God has reached them and brought greater things to them than they had in the Old Testament promises. But I think that we are to see in these facts that the government of God is not against us; it may seem to be, but it really promotes our blessing. We are to accept it; it is in the acceptance of it that the blessing lies. They evidently accepted it and maintained their pilgrim character as sojourners.

J.S. So that in coming into Christianity they gained far more than ever Judaism could give.

J.T. Well, exactly. Jeremiah pointed out, that the good figs were those that went out under Nebuchadnezzar; they were "very good". And these books would show how acceptance of the government of God, whatever it might be, leads to our blessing; greater blessing than we might have expected.

A.R. Jeremiah speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as Jehovah's servant, does he not?

J.T. That was the point with Jeremiah; the way of life and peace was to come out, and of course it involved great persecution for him, for it seemed that he was working against the interests of his nation. Peter's epistles show the interests of Israel for the moment are outside the land of Canaan; God has come in in Christ, and, like Joseph in Egypt, He is known among the

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Gentiles, and those of the Jews exercising faith in Him come into a heavenly inheritance .

C.A.M. You would say that Peter would have seen this working out in early church history when after Stephen's death, there was a persecution and a scattering, and the greatness of the Person of Christ -- in the truth of the Son of God, through Paul -- came into prominence after that.

J.T. Yes; he preached to the Jews in Damascus that Jesus "is the Son of God (Acts 9:20)". The truth of the Son was committed to Paul to preach, Galatians 1:16.

A.N.W. So that whether it be in relation to the government of God, according to Peter, or in relation to His purpose, according to Paul, both occasion blessing to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

J.T. Just so. And Peter supports Paul. He touches him very formally in the second epistle, and he supports his doctrine in the second chapter of the first epistle, showing that the Jews of the dispersion come into the house of God in a living way. They were living stones; they were built up a spiritual house, which touches Paul's line, and they were a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. And then in the second letter Peter calls attention to the epistles of Paul, as scripture , which he intimates were somewhat beyond some of the Jewish Christians; in fact, they were wresting them to their destruction. But still he significantly speaks of them as scripture -- "among which some things are hard to be understood (2 Peter 3:16)".

W.R. Is it in this connection that Peter is regarded as the apostle of the kingdom?

J.T. Well, he is the apostle of the circumcision, Galatians 2:7,8. He had "the keys of the kingdom of the heavens", (Matthew 16:19); but what is before us contemplates him as the apostle of the circumcision. He is writing to them and calling attention to the great

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things they would come into, with a view to confirming them in the blessing, that they might realise the magnitude of it.

P.A.R. Would the remnant in the beginning of Matthew, accepting the government of God and being baptised by John the baptist, realise the blessing we are speaking of, the Lord Himself taking His place with them?

J.T. Exactly; that enters into what we are saying. He came in as they were being baptised; He was not baptised first. You might say He was baptised last (Luke 3:21), but it was because they were doing it that He could join them, and as joining them in baptism He is owned from heaven as the beloved Son in whom God is well pleased. So that all that enters into what we are saying; the Jewish remnant comes into the greatest things although dispersed; the point is they are accepting the judgment of God upon them. It is in the acceptance of the judgment of God that we come into greater blessing than we ever had. Their faith was to "be found to praise and glory and honour in the revelation of Jesus Christ".

W.B-w. And the government of God helps in the proving of their faith. Is that not the great thing? They had the faith for it.

J.T. Just so. Verse 12 of chapter 4 says: "Beloved, take not as strange the fire of persecution which has taken place amongst you for your trial"; and here, "that the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be proved by fire, be found to praise and glory and honour in the revelation of Jesus Christ", chapter 1:7. That is, this epistle, and the following one, show how everything, as accepted in the government of God, favours us; we come into greater things than we had expected.

A.R. He very much elevates the idea of suffering, linking what they were experiencing with the sufferings

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of Christ, does he not? We may be suffering governmentally, yet it is related to the sufferings of Christ.

J.T. Quite so, because Christ came in under those same governmental conditions, not on His own account, of course, but as entering into the position of Israel. Much of the sufferings in the Psalms contemplate governmental conditions. He took His place with the remnant and accepted the conditions there in the government of God. But then He has made a way out; He has borne the judgment of God, so that these dispersed ones come into all these blessings through Him; hence, "the sufferings which belonged to Christ, and the glories after these", (1 Peter 1:11). Peter was himself a "witness of the sufferings of the Christ", and a "partaker of the glory about to be revealed", chapter 5:1. The public revelation of Christ and the glory accompanying it are in view throughout.

D.P. In what way is the government of God applied to us today?

J.T. Well, it arises from many causes: in individual cases, from earlier personal conduct, or conduct of parents or forefathers. In a general sense it is the result of racial conduct, death and other consequences of sin. Earlier national history, too, as evidenced in much that has happened in some countries in modern times. And of particular importance, as bearing on the present government of God, is the breakdown of the assembly. We are meeting here tonight, but not exactly as they met at Pentecost; the assembly was then the vessel of testimony. It is not that publicly any more. That is a sorrowful thing, and I cannot say that I have had nothing to do with that; but in the acceptance of it we come into the great blessings enjoyed by the assembly before it broke down. It is in the acceptance of those conditions that we come into these things.

J.S. And you would regard the government as favourable to us?

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J.T. Well, that is the point, I think, in these epistles. It may seem otherwise, but it is favourable because of its results -- how God works in relation to it for our good.

P.A.R. Is it to bring about a state with us necessary to receive the blessing?

J.T. Yes; it works that way. These people clearly were accepting it; because they were not in Palestine, and yet they were coming in for the greatest things. The apostle can speak of their wonderful enjoyment. Take the word he uses: "ye exult, for a little while at present", verse 6; and then in chapter 4:13: "ye have share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that in the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exultation". He is contemplating the results of real Christianity enjoyed in exultation; turning a despised, persecuted people into a glorious people; an exultant people, on whom the Spirit of glory and of God can rest. What results these are!

C.A.M. Would you think that Peter was a very special one to speak on this line, inasmuch as he had passed through a great deal in connection with the sufferings of Christ? He knew he was to suffer death before coming into this glory.

J.T. Quite so; but he is modest in saying he was a "witness" of the sufferings and a "partaker" of the glory . He partook of the sufferings, too, but not as Paul did. Peter was martyred, of course, but I suppose Paul's sufferings exceeded those of any other, outside of the Lord Himself. The Lord said He would show Paul "how much he must suffer for my name (Acts 9:16)". So that the apostle Paul was specially a partaker of the sufferings.

Our first scripture is to bring out the general position, in view of the revelation of Jesus Christ, as mentioned in verses 7 and 13 of chapter 1, and then the passage in chapter 4 is to show that the sufferings bring out that

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"the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you", 1 Peter 4:14; as if the glory would be in the way of light and testimony among the nations. As the cloud rested on the tabernacle in the wilderness, so now with these Christians -- the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them.

A.B.P. Does the incident of the tribute money in Matthew 17 indicate how the greatest enjoyment might be arrived at through acceptance of outward governmental conditions? There would be the avoidance of offence with the authorities -- the tribute money would be paid -- but there would also be the conscious link of association with Christ in sonship.

J.T. That is very good, and is touched on here by Peter: "Shew honour to all, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king. Servants, be subject with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the ill-tempered. For this is acceptable, if one, for conscience sake towards God, endure griefs, suffering unjustly", 1 Peter 2:17 - 19. So that what you say as to Matthew 17 fills out what is before us. They demand taxes, and the Lord points out that we should not be an offence -- pay the tax, although the sons (He and Peter) were free. He said: "give it to them for me and thee", Matthew 17:27. So that Peter came into association with Christ in the acceptance of the governmental conditions.

A.N.W. Was not a large portion of Jeremiah's rebuke to the people because they would not accept the dispersion under God's government?

J.T. Yes. And in New Testament times they complained about Pilate mingling their blood with the sacrifices, but the Lord said that if they did not repent they would all likewise perish. They did not accept it; they were bitterly hostile to the Romans on mere national lines. Shall we pay tribute to Caesar? They inquire. He says, "Bring me a denarius", (Mark 12:15);

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and then, after inquiring as to the image and superscription, says, "Pay what is Caesar's to Caesar" (Mark 12:17); the coin bearing Caesar's image was witness to their own servitude, but they did not accept it from God. But the saints contemplated in Peter's epistles accepted it and thus came into blessing from God. Deliverance from the Romans in Palestine is not promised, but what is greater was theirs -- an inheritance in heaven. And the faith through which they came into this inheritance was to be "found to praise and glory and honour in the revelation of Jesus Christ".

A.C. Why does Peter stress the thought of the appearing of Jesus Christ?

J.T. It is the public side; it is the hope of the coming of the Lord. The saints were to hope "with perfect stedfastness in the grace which will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ", (1 Peter 1:13). Then all these governmental conditions will cease; our deliverance from them will be complete. Peter says to these saints of the dispersion, "whom, having not seen, ye love"; loving Christ, they would love His appearing .

A.C. It seems to be a kind of zenith reached; Paul speaks more of the rapture in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, but Peter would carry on the thought to the appearing.

J.T. Well, Peter speaks more of the public appearing than he speaks of the rapture. He alludes to the rapture only once or twice, but the scriptures generally refer to the public appearing of Christ. That is the great thought of scripture, and that is what runs through Peter's ministry here, although he says, in the second epistle, "until the day dawn and the morning star arise". That may mean the rapture; that is a secret thing that arises in the heart, but generally it is the public appearing he has in mind. And so in chapter 4 he shows that as suffering in the testimony the Spirit of glory and of God

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rests upon them; but this is in relation to the "revelation of his glory". I mean to say that people are now seen suffering under the government of God -- we are -- and if we do not know it we should know it, and as knowing it, accept it. It is in the acceptance of it that God will honour us and He will make us a testimony; as accepting it we are a testimony to the fact that the church has failed. If we are anything, we are accepting it, and thus God honours us and brings us into the blessing. It is as in the position of the blessing, and manifestly sharing it, that we are a testimony, not merely because of the doctrines we hold. And that is what these scriptures show; they show an exultant state in the believers addressed.

R.L. Is the thought that in the coming day of the revelation of the Lord Jesus, there will be a manifestation of what has been wrought out now in the way of salvation in our souls?

J.T. Well, that is the point he makes in "receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls", verse 9. That is the end of it; it is complete salvation in the soul . We receive it now; body salvation, which is future, is Paul's side; Peter deals with soul salvation. We receive it now, and that, of course, will conform with our public position at the time of Christ's appearing.

W.R. Is that not why we need the governmental side to keep us always under control?

J.T. Well, to be subject to Christ is always an obligation, but I think it is in the enjoyment of salvation that we are subject; we thus accept the government of God in whatever it entails. It may be through the authorities, my own conduct, or in relation to my business or my employers; many such things become the occasion of the exercise of the government of God; if I am not subject, I miss the gain of it. It is in the acceptance of the government of God, even if it be consequent upon my own conduct, that I get blessing.

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A.R. Does not chapter 4, verse 14 enhance the suffering of reproach in the name of Christ? The reproachers are blaspheming God, whereas those under reproach are glorifying God.

J.T. "On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified 1 Peter 4:14". But you cannot be a testimony if overcome by pressure. We are under pressure now from different causes; the scattering of the nations from Babel; then, for Jewish believers, there has been the scattering of Israel; the failure of the assembly, also international strife. We are under these and other governmental conditions. Well, how are we to be a testimony? They press us down; they discourage us. These epistles show that Christianity, rightly understood, lifts us above them and makes us a testimony in them. That is the great lesson.

D.P. Do you mean that whatever apparently adverse position a believer occupies in the world, it may be accepted as the government of God?

J.T. Just so; whatever causes reproach, whether incurred by myself, or my father, or the country to which I belong, or the assembly, which is the particular thing, I am in it. We may say that we did not come into it of our own will, but we are in it, and these books show that our blessing lies in accepting that; but Christianity is greater than that and makes me greater than it, so that I am a testimony in it. That is the lesson in these books.

J.H.E. Would you get a concrete example of what you are saying in Paul before Agrippa?

J.T. Yes, and throughout his whole imprisonment. His epistles from his imprisonment are the greatest parts of scripture. They are buoyant, exultant, because of the power of Christianity; the power of the Spirit of God working in a man in great persecution.

J.T.Jr. The conscience is to be clear in all the vicissitudes through which one may go. Several times in

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the epistle it is taught that the conscience is to be clear before God.

J.T. That is an essential; I am hampered if my conscience is not clear. I have lost power; like Samson, I am shorn of my strength.

G.A.M. There must be an immensity of blessing in accepting the government of God; and where the opposite is seen (in that Babylonish ecclesiastical system that claims to come from Peter), the glory is all going to disappear. To think that in accepting these conditions, there should be vouchsafed to us such precious light, especially as to the Person of Christ, is affecting.

J.T. To the princes of the system you refer to, Paul and Peter would say. You are reigning without us. But what particularly comes into this subject now, is that unless we are humbled and accept conditions from God, we will miss the blessing and will be no testimony at all.

E.S. Paul was the prisoner of the Lord.

J.T. Quite so; he was a prisoner of the Lord, and of Christ, too, meaning, he was not really a felon or a transgressor, but merely a sufferer . Thus, the Lord could use him.

C.N. Verses 13 - 19 of chapter 2 would support all you have been saying about suffering.

J.T. Yes; the passage reads: "Be in subjection therefore to every human institution for the Lord's sake; whether to the king as supreme, or to rulers as sent by him, for vengeance on evil-doers, and praise to them that do well. Because so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye put to silence the ignorance of senseless men; as free, and not as having liberty as a cloak of malice, but as God's bondmen. Shew honour to all, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king. Servants, be subject with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the ill-tempered.

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For this is acceptable, if one, for conscience sake towards God, endure griefs, suffering unjustly 1 Peter 2:13 - 19". All that bears much on what is before us and is very practical. No doubt it touches us all.

J.T.Jr. And then it follows on with the thought of a Model: "For Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model that ye should follow in his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not; but gave himself over into the hands of him who judges righteously; who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, in order that, being dead to sins, we may live to righteousness", 1 Peter 2:21 - 24.

J.T. Well, all this shows that the Christian, whatever his circumstances, however much suffering may be entailed, is a witness to the superiority of what he has, as compared with those who may be above him in this world.

A.C. Do you not think there may be an increase in the government of God in the various forms it may assume at the present moment?

J.T. Yes, especially in countries that are immediately at war, where young men and others are under great pressure, and what these scriptures present is of the greatest value for all such. But what can be greater, in a way, than the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon the believer? It corresponds, you might say, with the tabernacle in the wilderness; the glory was there on the tabernacle, and it afforded guidance to the people. So that all who are marked by the Spirit of glory and of God are guides. They afford light to others in the midst of the pressure.

G.V.D. You see that in the attitude of the captives by the river of Babylon, in Psalm 137:1 - 4, how they were before their captors. They say, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the

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willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that made us wail required mirth, saying. Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How should we sing a song of Jehovah's upon a foreign soil?".

J.T. It is important to have that passage before us. It shows that the true remnant did not settle down among the Gentiles, adopting their ways. Those addressed in this epistle are similar, "a remnant according to election of grace", (Romans 11:5), but they are coming into Christianity in all its freshness. They would not sing a song of Zion in an ordinary unbelieving house; they kept separate from the world.

A.Pf. They would not eat the king's meat.

J.T. That is another point; "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not pollute himself with the king's delicate food, nor with the wine which he drank", (Daniel 1:8). It is a principle of superiority -- discriminating against what is polluting, although used by the king. Chapter 4 of 1 Peter leaves us with the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon us, and chapter 5 brings out eldership -- an important matter in the dispersion, and under the government of God, because it is a question of experience. Peter says of himself that he was a "fellow-elder and witness of the sufferings of the Christ, who also am partaker of the glory about to be revealed", verse 1. It is the kind of thing that gives endurance, and at the same time maintains the elder brethren in humility; even Peter says he is a fellow-elder; that is, he belongs to the elders. It is a sort of balance, I think, with us, in caring for the Lord's interests, that we do not despise anybody who is doing it.

J.S. The glory, as over against the sufferings, would give him a great buoyancy in his soul.

J.T. I thought that; it is a word for all of us who are elders in the sense of age, and as you say it gives a certain buoyancy and dignity in serving the brethren.

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J.T.Jr. Would the exercise of eldership be in view of "the glory about to be revealed"?

J.T. I think so, because the apostle runs on down here to the great Shepherd of the sheep. In Hebrews we are told that God has brought "from among the dead our Lord Jesus, thee great shepherd of the sheep in the power of the blood of the eternal covenant", Hebrews 13:20. Christ has gone that way, and Peter says here: "And when the chief shepherd is manifested ye shall receive the unfading crown of glory", verse 4; the unfading crown; you may get a little glory among the brethren for a moment, but it may fade -- hence the importance of "the unfading crown of glory". I mean to say that Peter, in dealing with the government of God goes on to finalities, and we shall see in the next book that he goes on to the day of eternity; that is the great final day.

J.T.Jr. He also mentions in this chapter that the devil goes about "as a roaring lion". Is that to illustrate the way the enemy would attack the saints that have been dispersed?

J.T. I suppose so; they are exposed as in these circumstances. The dispersion implied an outward break-up of what had been in. But Peter had the keys of the kingdom, and coming into it in a moral way they were protected. If you face him and resist him, Satan will flee from you; that is, it is the power that is in yourself. It is not simply an external power. He knows the power I have; that he cannot overcome it, as I resist him.

J.T.Jr. Fleshly lusts are referred to in the early part of the epistle as warring against the soul, but here it is the devil, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

J.T. And then, "Whom resist, stedfast in faith, knowing that the selfsame sufferings are accomplished in your brotherhood which is in the world", 1 Peter 5:9

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The allusion is to the power that is in the believer. Peter is pointing that out; that we are to "resist, stedfast in faith" -- it is not in natural strength, but in faith. We are also told, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you", (James 4:7).

F.H.L. Is not the whole position maintained in the beginning of chapter 1, where the apostle says, "has begotten us again to a living hope", 1 Peter 1:3, in relation to the governmental conditions in the dispersion?

J.T. Yes; "begotten us again to a living hope 1 Peter 1:3", as over against what is set out in the Old Testament as a first hope.

A.B.P. Will you distinguish between the ways of God, the government of God, and the activities of the enemy?

J.T. Well, of course God's "ways" have a special significance: they include what marks the effectuation of His purposes and His dealings generally, but especially with His people. His government is linked with them, adding the thought of rule or authority. A father chastens his child; he may have his own way in it, but it is his government. God's ways, I should say, historically precede His government, the latter implying that will or disobedience has to be dealt with. So that, I think, the ways of God would include His governmental dealings with us. But if it be His ways, as such primarily, it is how He accomplishes things; His ways with us would mean the manner of His dealings, I think. His ways are said to be "untraceable", Romans 11:33.

C.A.M. Do you think it could be applied to the way of God being in the sanctuary? If I understand your thought rightly, you connect this glory with the cloud on the tabernacle. Peter would be one who was following that cloud in all its movements right up to finality.

J.T. Well, I think so; he followed it himself. As the tabernacle moved, Israel moved, and in Acts 9 you see the movement; Saul of Tarsus was converted and he

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had already begun to preach Jesus as the Son of God. That was a new testimony publicly rendered, because we have no record that Peter preached that He was the Son of God. It was a new thing, and it involved all that we have in 1 and 2 Corinthians, because the Son of God is stressed there. Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus preached the Son of God, and brought about assembly conditions in Corinth. So Peter, as already said, followed this line; it is like the movement of the tabernacle of witness. He says to Aeneas, "rise up, and make thy couch for thyself", (Acts 9:34). Well, that is tantamount to saying -- as the truth came out in Paul -- that Aeneas is made to do something; he becomes able to do something for himself. He is able to rise; his palsy is gone, and he is going to do something in that town where he lives -- where he has been paralysed. Peter saw the cloud moving and he moved with it. And I believe that here he shows that the Jewish Christians in the dispersion were guides for others; that is, the glory rested upon them. So that it is for each of us to move as we see the lead indicated in a disciplined man, subject to the government of God, as the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon him. He is thus a guide to others.

C.A.M. It is striking how he does reach finality in that way; he regarded his own body as a tabernacle, and he could not have been a whit behind Paul's ministry in the end, as seen in the way he alludes to it in his epistle.

J.T. That is, I believe, the great point with him; his two epistles seem to represent him, as it were, as a ship on the sea. "There go the ships", we read in the Psalm 104:26. They have a desired haven. Psalm 107:30 tells us; they come into trouble on the way, but those in them look to God, and He brings them to their desired haven. I think Peter is like that. He says, "for thus shall the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of

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our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be richly furnished unto you", 2 Peter 1:11. This was true of himself. He was about to put off his tabernacle in triumphant martyrdom, and he is full of the glory. He is like a ship going into port under full sail. The disciples were instructed in houses, but they received important instruction in ships, too. There is considerable reference to that in the gospels; it is as if the saints are viewed as on a troubled sea, with constant storms arising: how are we making the passage? It is a question of the power in us, and of the guidance furnished to us; "for thus shall the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be richly furnished unto you (2 Peter 1:11)".

Ships are typical; sometimes they represent the Jewish system, but in other cases they represent what the Lord uses -- He came into their ship, and when He did so the disciples got to land, John 6:21.

W.B-w. You referred to Peter's coming to Lydda. The next locality, or meeting, was Joppa; death had come in there; Dorcas had died. Through Peter she was raised and presented living . Revival was brought about in a locality where there had been death and sorrow. Do you think there would be something special in that locality?

J.T. I think so; the two points established would be that, on the one hand, brothers would be able to do something for themselves, without having to send out to brethren from other meetings; and secondly, there would be a living state of things developed, for when Peter raised Dorcas, he presented her "living", as we have noted. The idea would be that life, in character, is now there.

As we were saying, he supports Paul in calling attention to what these saints were. He says in chapter 2, "To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious,

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yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ", 1 Peter 2:4,5. That is what they were; that is Paul's line; that they were in their own towns as living stones, and being also priests were offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Instead of the dead religious services in the temple at Jerusalem and among the Jews generally, these believers in Christ, though dispersed, were occupied in the service of God in a holy, intelligent, and living way.

W.B-w. Would paralysis coming in at Lydda, and death at Joppa, be God's governmental dealings in some way in those meetings?

J.T. Well, I think so; to bring out what the meeting should be. If paralysed, they may have to send to other places for help; but as healed, they are able to do what is needed. And then, secondly, in place of death, life is brought in. Thus we have a living state of things marked by intelligent activity.

W.B-w. If two or three do everything, it would tend to paralysis in a meeting. Should not all be taken into matters?

J.T. Yes. I think a great point is to bring in all the saints. Paul makes that a point in regard to business matters; the one who is least esteemed in the assembly is to adjudicate, showing that each is to have his place in what relates to the assembly. If "the least of the saints", I shall not belittle or ignore any of them.

W.R. I was wondering whether that would not be the spirit of shepherding in a locality: "shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising oversight, not by necessity, but willingly", 1 Peter 5:2. It is really to bring out all the wealth that is there in a locality.

J.T. Yes: "shepherd the flock of God which is among you". It is a local position; elders are always viewed as being local.