KERUX: A JOURNAL
Editor: James T. Dennison, Jr.
Assistant Editors: Richard A. Riesen and David L. Roth
KERUX is a publication of Kerux, Inc. and appears three times each year (May, September, December). Editorial offices are located at 1131 Whispering Highlands Drive, Escondido, CA 92027-4961. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $15.00 (U.S. and Canada); $20.00 (elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U.S. Funds. KERUX is: abstracted in Old Testament Abstracts, Washington, DC and Religious and Theological Abstracts, Myerstown, PA; indexed in Elenchus of Biblica, Rome, Italy.
ISSN: 0888-8513 May 1994 Vol. 9, No. 1
By My Spirit*
Meredith G. Kline
Vision four took us into the holy of holies to witness the critical encounter between the messianic Servant and Satan at the throne of God. Christ was typified there by the priestly figure of Joshua, invested with his holy robes, crowned with the golden diadem—seal of the Spirit, granted access among the angels in heaven, and entrusted with the rule over God's courts. Vision five reveals the sequel to Christ's victory over the dragon. We behold him, typified by the royal figure of Zerubbabel, building the house of God in the power of the Spirit, here symbolized by the golden oil flowing into the golden lampstand.
Christ and the Spirit is the theme of both these visions, with Christ the focus in Zechariah 3 and the Spirit central in Zechariah 4. The fifth vision also sustains a close relationship to vision three, its counterpart in the chiastic structure of the seven visions, and to vision one, with which it is paired when the opening and closing triads of visions are construed as in linear parallelism.
Zechariah 4 presents the symbolism of the lampstand and the two olive trees in verses 1-3, with their interpretation in verses 4-10, and then the symbolism of the two olive-branches in verses 11 and 12, with their interpretation in verse 13. Our comments will diverge somewhat from the verse sequence as we develop the themes: I. The Spirit and the Menorah, and II. The Spirit and the Messiah.
I. The Spirit and the Menorah
A. The Spirit as Pattern for the Menorah. 1. Mosaic and Zecharian Menorahs: Menorah is the Hebrew word for the lampstand in the tabernacle.1 The menorah was a stylized tree with central trunk and three branches on either side, all with floral detailing.2 Its material was gold, described as pure, whether in the sense of technical quality or cultic cleanness. Apparently it was constructed by molding a sheet of gold foil over a wooden form (which was necessarily retained and provided stability). The menorah held seven lamps, either one on each of the seven arms or all seven made from the receptacle atop the central shaft by pinching its rim into wick-holders at seven places (a well attested ancient lamp design). The people brought the oil for the lamps, which were trimmed each morning and lit each evening by the priests.
Like the tabernacle menorah, the one in Zechariah's fifth vision has seven lamps (Zech. 4:2). However, nothing is said of side branches.3 If this menorah consisted of only a single pedestal, the seven lamps would be arranged around the bowl on top of it. Each of the seven lamps is itself of the seven-wick design mentioned above, giving a total of forty-nine lamp-lights. But the most remarkable new feature in Zechariah 4 is the two flanking olive trees and the connecting apparatus by which a continuous supply of oil flows from these trees to the menorah lamps, fueling their perpetual flames.
2. Arboreal Theophany and Menorah-Church: In Zechariah 4 it is not the lamps aflame but the two olive trees that represent the divine Presence. Specifically, the trees are a symbolic depiction of the theophanic Glory, associated with the menorah in the tabernacle. The way the olive trees overarch the lampstand from both sides reflects the scene in the holy of holies where the two cherubim of the Glory-Presence spread their wings over the ark of the covenant. The duality of the cherubim and of the olive trees corresponds to the two-pillar formation of the Glory-cloud, itself a representation of the two legs of God as he would take his stand, particularly in judicial actions.4
The presence of the divine Glory among the covenant people was portrayed in Zechariah's opening vision (1:7-17) by the figure of the Lord of Glory with angelic retinue stationed in the midst of the myrtles.5 As seen in
the fifth vision under the symbolism of the golden oil of the olive trees flowing into the menorah, the Glory-Spirit is again a divine presence in the midst of, indeed within, God's people. And as in the first vision with its myrtle trees, so here it is a tree, the menorah-tree into which the divine oil flows, that represents the covenant people.
Though fueled by the Spirit-oil, the flames of the menorah lamps are the shining of the covenant community. This is corroborated by the hierophant angel's interpretation of the menorah in terms of the temple, which housed the menorah and performed on a larger scale and more publicly the menorah's function as an illuminating witness to the world (vv. 4-10). Now the temple, though the residence of the divine Glory within, is to be identified with God's people. At the New Testament level the church is the temple, the holy structure of living stones built on the foundation of Christ Jesus to be the habitation of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:20-22; Heb. 3:6). The menorah is quite directly interpreted as the church when the seven lampstands of John's vision in Revelation 1 are identified as seven churches (Rev. 1:20), and when, conversely, the two prophets representing the witnessing church in the symbolism of Revelation 11 are explained as equivalents of the lampstand of Zechariah 4 (Rev. 11:4). Enhancing the menorah's prefiguration of the new covenant church is its assemblage of forty-nine lights, suggestive of the Jubilee and so pointing to the new covenant (cf. Luke 4:18-21).
3. Menorah, Replica of the Theophanic Glory: Israel's tabernacle-temple (the conceptual equivalent of the menorah in Zechariah 4) and the church temple are distinguishable from their divine Resident. But antecedent to them is the archetypal heavenly temple, which is not distinguishable from God but is God manifested, the effulgence of his Glory. Filling the cosmos, the epiphanic Glory constitutes the architectural space and structure of this divine temple.
Invisible to earthlings now, this Glory-Spirit temple will be unveiled to us in the revelation of the new heavens and earth at the Consummation. At that time the cosmos as a place where the present distinction between dimensions visible and invisible to us will cease to exist as a result of the heightening of our perceptive capabilities through glorification. Then will be realized the beatitude, "they shall see God," the archetypal Glory-temple (cf. Rev.
According to Revelation 21:22 there will be no further need of temples in the world of New Jerusalem since God himself is the temple there, his own Glory his holy house (cf. Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48ff.; 17:24). But while there will no longer be local, symbolic, man-made sanctuaries like Solomon's temple in the consummated cosmos (and such are in fact already obsolete in the present church age), Revelation 21:22 does not mean to deny the perpetuity of the church-temple. Not a temple made by human hands, the church is God-built, a temple created by the Spirit, and God, even though he is his own temple-dwelling, will yet condescend to tabernacle forever in the church-temple. Wondrous this union: we dwell in him, the divine temple, and he dwells in us, the temple he has made (cf. Isa.57:15; 66:2). It is in Christ that we are that temple; indeed, Christ is that temple (cf. Mark 14:58; John 2:19ff.). And Christ, "the Lamb," is mentioned along with the Lord God as the temple in the New Jerusalem. Church-temple and Glory-temple coalesce there.
Like the old tabernacle and temple, which were constructed after the heavenly archetypal pattern revealed to their human builders, so the church-temple is made according to the paradigm of the Glory-temple. This is brought out in Zechariah 4 by the way various features of the olive trees and oil, symbol of the Glory-Spirit, are replicated in the menorah, symbol of the church-temple. The menorah turns out to be another of the Bible's numerous parables of the (re-)creation of man in the image of God. Just within Zechariah's visions we have already found this motif in the imagery of the tabernacle-like myrtles of the first vision and in the symbolism of the tabernacle-like high priestly vestments in the fourth vision.6
Most closely related are the treatments of this image-renewal theme in Zechariah 3 and 4. The Spirit and the symbol of oil play a part in both visions. In Zechariah 3, Joshua's holy vestments, themselves replicas of the Glory-Spirit, are crowned by the diadem-stone on the mitre, a seal of the Spirit, a sign of Spirit anointing. Also, by virtue of the anointing during the investiture ritual the high priest was saturated with oil, symbol of the Spirit. Together the anointing and the enrobing in the glory garments was a double portrayal of creation in the image of the Glory-Spirit. Zechariah 4 similarly symbolizes the same concept. Here, the Spirit, by filling the lampstand-com-
munity, creates his likeness in it.7
By reason of the gold and gems worked into the high priest's vestments they shone like the theophanic Glory in whose likeness they were fashioned. Of similar but even more radiant appearance is the menorah of Zechariah 4. Again gold is the material but now it is aglow with reflections of the jubilee of flames, themselves an even brighter and more literal copy of the theophanic fire. The likeness of the golden menorah to the Glory-Spirit is highlighted by denoting the oil, symbol of the Spirit, as "the gold" (v. 12). Flowing into the lampstand, the golden oil reproduced its shining golden lustre there.
Replication of the Spirit-likeness in the menorah is also expressed in a sharing of arboreal imagery. Though the tree features of the tabernacle menorah are not explicitly mentioned in the description of the lampstand in Zechariah 4, it is possible that the seven-branched structure and other floral detailing of the familiar Mosaic menorah are simply taken for granted. If not, the arboreal form of Zechariah's lampstand may still be maintained, for the sevenfold cluster of seven-lamp receptacles on top of it may then be seen as modified equivalents of the seven branches of the tabernacle menorah.
As a stylized tree the Zecharian menorah, symbol of the community, matches the two olive trees, symbol of the Glory-theophany. This correspondence is enhanced by the linkage of each of these arboreal symbols with the two golden cherubim. When observing above that it is particularly the manifestation of the Glory in the two-cherubim formation above the ark that is reflected in the two olive trees, we cited their common feature of duality. A further point of connection is that the cherubim in Solomon's temple were carved out of olive wood (1 Kgs. 6:23). The menorah is linked to the same cherubim structure not only by the gold material used in both cases but by a shared mode of fabrication. Within the Exodus legislation the miqshah technique (the molding of metal foil) is mentioned only in the making of the cherubim (25:18; 37:7) end the menorah (25:31, 36; 37:17, 22).8 Revelation 11, appropriating the symbolism of Zechariah 4, carries the correspondence of the menorah to the olive trees a step further. The single menorah there becomes two lampstands (v. 4) and thus a numerical likeness to the two olive trees is added to the other points of correspondence between them.
The Book of Revelation provides another intimation that the menorah-church bears the divine Glory-image when it depicts the Glory-Spirit by symbolism similar to menorah flames. Thus, the seven torches of fire burning before the throne are identified as the seven Spirits (Rev. 4:5).9 The biblical roots of this symbolism can be traced to God's covenant-ratifying appearance to Abraham in the menorah-like form of fire-pan and torch with their ascending columns of flame and smoke (Gen. 15:17). This anticipated the two fiery columns of the Glory-cloud theophany at the exodus, of which the dual cherubim structure, insignia of the Glory-Spirit, was an adaptation, and of which, in turn, the two olive trees of Zechariah 4 were a further adaptation.
Re-creation in the divine likeness is treated in Zechariah's fourth vision from the perspective of its significance for personal deliverance from sin and judgment. What is in view in the fifth vision is the meaning of the church's acquisition of the image of the Glory-Archetype for the performance of its historical menorah-mission of prophetic witness. As we shall see, displaying the divine likeness is a major element in that witness of the church; its form serves its function. This was illustrated in the experience of the Israelite prophets, for whom acquisition of the Glory-Spirit image was an essential part of their formation for office, a concomitant of the Spirit-anointing prerequisite to their witness function.10
B. The Spirit as Power for the Menorah Mission. 1. Menorah: Witness Light: God is light (I John 1:5) and God is truth (I John 1:6; 2:21-23; 5:7, 20),11 the true and living God of Glory, the One (Zech. 14:9). And it pleased him to glorify himself by calling into being a creation to serve as a medium of his luminous self-manifestation, a vehicle of theophanic revelation to creatures, themselves displaying ectypally the likeness of his Glory. The seven eyes of the sevenfold Spirit would take delight in seeing his own archetypal Glory-likeness shining back from the temple of his human images on earth (as well as from his angel-sons in heaven). For mankind this reflective radiating of the light of God would be an exhibiting on a creaturely level of the glory of divine dominion and divine holiness, righteousness and truth. Further, at the promised consummation of this created order the human temple-community was to assume an outward luminosity that reflected the light of the heavenly Spirit-temple. With mankind's eschatological glorification the
natural darkness they had experienced in the original cycle of night and day would become a thing of the past. For then the hitherto invisible Glory-light of heaven would become visible, illuminating all the cosmos in perpetual day (cf. Isa. 60:19, 20; Zech. 14:7; Rev. 21:25; 22:5)the perfected revelation-replication of the God who is light.
Glorifying God by reflecting the light of his Glory back to him remains after the Fall the chief purpose of man's light-bearing. Moreover, the full realization of that highest goal through the ultimate glorification of the saints is still the predestined omega-point of human history. But in the interim between the Fall and the Consummation the diffusing of light by God's people serves some partly or totally new purposes as this function is carried out in the spiritual darkness of a fallen world.
One of these partly new objectives was the confrontation of evil. Before the Fall of man on earth a fall had transpired in heaven, so that even in Eden man's displaying of the light of God's image would have been an exercising of God-like dominion and righteousness and a confessing of the Truth over against the dark presence of the devil. Donning the divine image was already a putting on of the armor of light to do battle with the prince of darkness and to overcome him. Radiating light was even then the bearing of a legal witness to the true God in dispute against the tempter, the liar from the beginning. However, though this confrontational aspect of covenant witness is not something altogether new after the Fall, there is this difference, that now the darkness is entrenched and pervasive within mankind. The witness-light must be presented not just in defiance of a would-be usurper and his minions but in the face of conflict with satanic powers that are currently "the rulers of the darkness of this world."
There is also a totally new purpose involved in the luminary function of the righteous in the post-Fall world—it henceforth serves the redemptive objectives of the Covenant of Grace.
The Mosaic-Zecharian menorah symbolizes the diffusing of the light and truth of God by his people, not in the daylight of the original pristine order of creation but in the postlapsarian night. Lit each evening to burn through the night, the menorah in the holy place of the tabernacle was a light
shining in the darkness. The Israel of God performs its menorah mission in the darkness of a world blinded by Satan's anti-theology, worshiping in the cult of no-gods. The shining of the menorah-church is a witnessing to the true God of heavenly Glory that has the effect of condemning the counter-claims of the satanic idol, which is a lie and pitch darkness.
This confrontational, anathematizing aspect of the church's witness is brought out in Zechariah 4 when it interprets the menorah mission in terms of the role of the temple, standing on Zion and magnifying the name of Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth, in the face of the great mountain (v. 7). For the great mountain is the hostile imperial power and its idol-cult, lifting itself up as a rival to the mountain of God's temple, as a pseudo-Zion, an antichrist Har-Magedon.
The condemnatory aspect of the menorah mission is again prominent in Revelation 11:1-13. In this adaptation of the Zechariah 4 lampstand imagery, the symbolism of the menorah light is clearly interpreted as the light of truth. For the menorah is identified with God's two prophetic witnesses (vv. 3, 4).12 And the purpose of the menorah mission as seen here in the career of these witnesses is emphatically the bringing of judgment on their enemies. The picture is one of radical opposition. So intense, so demonic is the world's hatred of the exposing, condemning light of the truth (cf. John 3:19, 20), that when the two witnesses have finished their testimony the beast from the abyss kills them and peoples from all the nations celebrate this pseudo-triumph with hellish glee (vv. 7-11).
Maintaining a judicial-apologetic witness against the deceived, unbelieving world is then one dimension of the menorah program. The field of history is a courtroom in which God's people give testimony to his name over against the blasphemies of the idol-worshipers.13 This piercing of the darkness with light, exposing falsehood, anticipates the day of the Lord, when by the brightness of his coming he shall bring to light for judgment all the hidden things of darkness (l Cor. 4:5; cf. Gen. 3:8; John 3:19, 20).
But the menorah mission is also a summoning of the lost to salvation in Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is the primary and proper function of the menorah to serve God's purpose of redemptive grace, that totally new aspect of light-
radiating not present before the entrance of sin and death at the Fall. The menorah community is commissioned to proclaim the gospel of him who says: "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). "I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12; cf. 12:46). The true heavenly Light declares to his disciples, renewed after his image, "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14), and he bids them, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:19).
This gospel-witnessing function of the menorah-people is readily discernible in the situation of the menorah in the tabernacle. It was located between the altar of sacrifice and the mercy seat, a place redolent of atonement and gospel pardon.
The menorah flames illuminated the way to the throne of grace in the holy of holies. In the setting of the Solomonic temple, where there were ten lampstands arranged in two rows on the north and south sides of the holy place (I Kgs. 7:49), the menorah lights themselves actually formed a passageway—from the site of judgment in the court to the Glory-throne beyond the second veil (cf. Heb. 9:2-5), the way from Golgotha to God's holy heaven.
As we have observed, Zechariah 4:4-10 interprets the menorah mission in terms of Zerubbabel's temple building project. The counterpart to that enterprise in the new covenant is the program of building the church, the assignment to disciple those God calls to be living stones in the temple founded on Christ. The menorah mission is mandated by the Lord in the Great Commission.
Both old and new covenant temples are lights of the world set on hills (the old temple quite literally so); they are both lamps put on a stand to shine before men that they might glorify the Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16). The mission of the old menorah-temple and that of the new menorah-church alike is to summon men out of all nations to the holy city on Har-Magedon (whether the old earthly, typological Jerusalem or the new heavenly, true Jerusalem), to call them on a faith pilgrimage to the altar of atonement and the throne of grace.14 The mission of the menorah community, old and new,
is to light the way to the Father's house.
2. The Spirit and the Menorah Light: Some have speculated that the middle section of Zechariah 4 (vv. 6b-10a) is misplaced because, allegedly, it is not connected with what precedes. Actually, this word of the Lord addresses itself to the very heart of the preceding symbolism. It interprets the oil, which is obviously, if implicitly, included in the imagery of the menorah and olive trees as described in vv. 1-3, and is explicitly mentioned in the supplementary details of vv. 11, 12 (all already seen by the prophet Zechariah at the outset). It was this golden oil that would have riveted Zechariah's attention, this supernatural provision pouring endlessly from the olive trees in a miraculous mechanism that dispensed with the ordinary human participation, whether by way of contributing the oil for the menorah or tending its flames. This wonder oil, the secret of the perpetual flame, was the spectacular feature of the vision that demanded an immediate explanation (cf. vv. 4, 5). And the Lord's reply to the prophet's query was right to the point: "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit" (v. 6b). God's Spirit, the Light of life, is the oil, the inexhaustible fuel of the true menorah, the limitless energy source of the ever burning church-lamp (cf. I Kgs. 17:14-16). As source of that Spirit-oil, the olive trees on either side were trees of everlasting life for the people of the menorah (cf. Rev. 22:1, 2).
The Lord's reply went on to apply this truth to the program of building the temple. Here was a current instance demonstrating that Spirit-power is the secret of success in the menorah mission. Despite every adverse circumstance, the project would surely be finished. The day of outwardly unpromising beginnings would be succeeded by a time that witnessed the leveling of the hostile world mountain and the celebration of the elevating of the temple. And it would not in the last analysis be due to the efforts of Zerubbabel and the covenant people that the temple would be completed; the ultimate accomplishing of the mission must rather be attributed to the Spirit. For we are told that "these seven, namely, the eyes of the Lord that run to and fro through the whole earth" (which, according to Revelation 5:6, represent the Spirit) are fixed with joy upon Zerubbabel (v. 10). This signifies that the Lord has authorized the enterprise, that he takes special interest and pleasure in it, and by his Spirit is sovereignly supervising it—the guarantee of sabbatical success.
Those who allege that this section of Zechariah 4 is discontinuous with the opening description of the menorah assert that not until the phrase "these seven" in v. 10b is the subject of the menorah resumed. "These seven" refers then not to the Spirit-oil but to the seven lamps, identifying them as the eyes of the Lord. One objection to this is that something other than the seven eyes must be construed as the subject of the seeing spoken of in v. 10a. But the natural connection between eyes and seeing is obvious. Furthermore, the lamps represent the covenant community, the recipients of the Spirit-oil, and therefore cannot be identified as the seven eyes of the Lord, which represent the Spirit. "These seven" does not refer to the seven lamps in Zechariah 4:2 but to the "seven eyes" in Zechariah 3:9, as Zechariah 4:10c indicates.
Closing (v. 10) on the note it began (v. 6), this section of the vision points again to the Spirit and his universal sovereignty (the seven eyes engaged in judicial surveillance of "the whole earth") as the explanation and guarantee of the final accomplishment of the menorah mission. What must be done to fulfill that mission in the future had been done by the Spirit in the past. Was the creation of a people in the luminous image of God central to that mission? Then remember how the Glory-Spirit in the beginning was the power of the Most High overshadowing the lifeless dust of the earth to quicken the man-creature, so bringing forth a son of God, a replica of the Creator's glory (cf. Gen. 1:2, 26, 27; Luke 3:38). Did the menorah mission entail the bringing low of the high world mountain? Did it require victorious battle against the armies of the satanic beast-power? Then recall how, in the hour when the dragon-power of Egypt threatened to overwhelm the Israelites, the Glory-Spirit vanquished lofty pharaoh and all his military might (Exod. 14:4; Ps. 136:15). It was "from the pillar of cloud and fire" (i.e., the Glory-Spirit theophany) that God looked down upon the Egyptians (Exod. 14:24) and cast chariots, horses, and riders into the depths of the sea, triumphing gloriously (Exod. 14:28; 15:1, 4). That was the "power" by which he brought forth his people out of Egypt (Exod. 32:11). Singing, "Yahweh is my strength and my song" (Exod. 15:2), the Israelites confessed the truth of Zechariah 4:6—salvation is not by human might or power but by God's Spirit. Psalm 33 makes the same confession: "No king secures victory by his massive army, no warrior is delivered by his great strength" (v. 16) . . . "The eye of Yahweh is on those who fear him" (v. 18a) . . . "Our soul waits for
Yahweh, our help [or warrior] and our shield is he" (v.20).
"By my Spirit," the power of God in creation and redemption hitherto—that is the word of exhortation and promise to Zerubbabel and all henceforth who are called to the menorah mission.
*This study of Zechariah 4 continues the series on Zechariah's night visions begun in Kerux 5:2 (September, 1990).
1. Cf. Exodus 25:6, 31-40; 27:20, 21; 30:7, 8; 35:8; 37:17-24; 40:4, 24, 25; Leviticus 24:2-4; Numbers 8:2-4. On the construction of the menorah see Carol L. Myers, The Tabernacle Menorah (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976).
2. The chiastically arranged night visions of Zechariah, a triad of visions on either side of the central hinge, might be seen as a literary translation of the menorah structure.
3. In this respect Zechariah's menorah would be more like the ten separate lampstands in Solomon's temple (cf.1 Kgs. 7:49) or the seven individual lampstands of the vision in Revelation 1:12.
4. See further Images of the Spirit, p. 86.
5. See Kerux 5:3 (December, 1990), pp. 1lff.
6. See Kerux 5:3 (December, 1990), pp. 17ff. and 8:2 (September, 1993),pp. 15ff.
7. See further Images of the Spirit, p. 86. A difference in the two treatments of the theme is that Zechariah 3 presents a priestly model of the imago Dei, while the model in Zechariah 4 is prophetic.
8. Cf. also Numbers 10:2.
9. In relation to the identification of the seven Spirits as seven eyes (Rev. 5:6; cf. Zech. 3:9; 4:10) note Jesus' comparison of eyes and lamps (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34).
10. Cf. Images of the Spirit, pp. 57-64.
11. Psalm 43:3 (cf. 119:105) brings out the conceptual bond of light and truth: "Send forth your light and your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to your temple mount, unto your dwelling place."
12. Cf. Images of the Spirit, p. 91.
13. Cf. Isaiah 43:10, 12; 44:8, 9.
14. Cf. Kerux 7:3 (December, 1992), p. 56 for a discussion of the same theme in Zechariah's third vision.
Westminster Theological Seminary in California, Escondido
A Divine Engagement
Scott F. Hunter
The fourth chapter of John presents the well-known account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Here we find a drama poignantly depicting the ineffable mercy, love and grace of Christ.
The drama involves two characters. One of them John's gospel has already identified by the following titles: The Word, the only begotten God, Lamb of God, King of Israel, the Prophet, Son of God, Son of Man, the Bridegroom, the Lord, Messiah, and Jesus. These titles not only identify the person but also his mission. He is the one the Old Testament leaves us longing for. He is the eschatological fulfillment of the Scriptures.
The other person in this drama has no titles. We are not even told her name. She is known only as a "Samaritan woman" (v. 8). Yet from this, we do know something about her.
First of all, she is a Samaritan. The Samaritan sect was a result of the Assyrian attack upon Israel in 724-22 B.C.. The Shalmaneser-led army stormed Israel taking into exile the wealthy and skilled Jews, leaving behind the poor and unskilled. This Assyrian king then brought in other peoples to intermarry with this Jewish remnant in order to dilute the Jewish presence and minimize the chance of any insurrection. Over time these "diluted Jews" developed some of their own theological distinctives and a mutual antagonism with the Jews. The woman in our text is part of this rival splinter group and thus is an outcast among the Jews (see 4:9b).
Secondly, she is a woman. Jesus, being recognized as a Rabbi, was forbidden by Rabbinic law (not biblical law) to speak with a woman in public (this explains the disciples' surprise in v. 27). Note that her response of mockery to Jesus in v. 9 is based not just on the fact that he would ask for water from a Samaritan, but from a Samaritan woman.
We also learn something of her character in vv. 16-18. Here we find that she has been married five times and is presently living with a man who is not her husband. She is an adulteress, a fornicator, a sinner, an outcast even among Samaritan women.
However, let's pause a moment to consider how this woman became an outcast of outcasts. Perhaps, as we look back on her very first marriage, we would find it preceded by an anticipation of joy, a sense of purpose, a hope of fulfillment and delight. Yet tragically that bond of marriage was broken. Whether through divorce or death we are not told, but the profound, precious union of the two-become-one was destroyed. It cannot be over-emphasized how much pain, misery, agony, even despair, is often associated with the destruction of a marriage. Yet, her pain would soon be replaced by another joyous anticipation of marriage. The hope she once had was renewed by another man. Yet this second marriage would also suffer dissolution by death or divorce. This tortuous cycle would occur in her life a third time, a fourth time, and, agonizingly, a fifth time. Are we surprised that she is not married to the man she is now with? She is tired of the pain and grief associated with the dashed hopes of marriage. She is tired of joy and hope turned to misery and despair. Over time husbands prove unfaithful, cold, unable to express compassion, sympathy and love; or if they can, they are soon taken away by death. So she holds out no expectations. She has no delusions about the happiness associated with love and family. Hope is pain. Joy is fleeting. Pleasure is futile. All is vanity. This character in the drama, a wayward sheep, is a woman of sorrow, acquainted with grief.
The action in this narrative begins in v. 3. Here we read that Jesus leaves the southern region of Judea for Galilee, having to pass through Samaria. John tells us that it is necessary for Jesus to pass through Samaria on his way to Galilee. However, passing through Samaria is not a geographic necessity. One could also travel to Galilee along the Jordan River Valley, east of Sa-
maria. Jesus has to pass through Samaria, not because it is the only way, but because he has someone to see. He has an appointment from the Father; Jesus has a divine engagement. In this gospel, the necessary deeds of Christ are carefully reserved for the cross and his mission of bringing the other sheep (Gentiles, even Samaritans) to the fold. It is because of this divine engagement with a Samaritan sheep that Jesus has to pass through Samaria.
It is the noon hour when the woman comes to draw her water. Unlike the other women, who drew in the dim light of the morning or evening at the day's cool edges, this woman draws while desert shadows are short and the thirsty, sun-drenched journey is long. Yet the noon heat was quite temperate when compared to the fire of those tongues that greeted her so many times. She had spent many mornings and evenings at that well gathering more stares and insults, sneers and barbs, scowls and scurrility than thirst-quenching water. Wanting only to be left alone, she draws at noon, in the heat of the day.
Ironically, wanting only to be left alone, she meets Jesus, the one who knows all things about her and who will proclaim all things to her. She recognizes him only as a Jew. But he will prove to be far more than just a Jew.
Taking the initiative, Jesus begins the dialogue by asking her for water, to which she offers only mockery. Patiently, Christ responds to her: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." By using the phrase "living water", Jesus sets up a word play that leads to misunderstanding. She interprets the phrase to mean moving water. It was the gushing water found deep, below the reach of the well's walls. It was the best, most refreshing water of all. Yet how can this man provide such water, she wonders. For he has nothing to draw with and this well is especially deep. He is clearly not equipped to provide living water from this well. He must be referring to water from another well. But is there a greater well than this one? "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are you, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons and his cattle?" What well could be better than this which has provided so abundantly and was given by the great patriarch Jacob himself? Surely this Jew is not greater than Jacob.
Perceiving only the physical, earthly side of the symbol, she fails to
grasp its more profound significance. The water from Jacob's well satisfies physical thirst, but only for a time; she will thirst again. Jesus, however, is speaking on a higher plane. This thirsty woman lacks more than fluid; she lacks a right standing before her Maker. She has a spiritual thirst borne of her separation from God. John 7:37-39 uses the living water image again, there revealing the living water to be the Spirit. Jesus, that ladder on whom the angels of God ascend and descend, offers to quench her spiritual thirst with water far greater than that found in Jacob's well. For if she drinks his water she shall never thirst again, because Christ's water (the Spirit) will become in her a well of water bubbling up to eternal life. The water itself will become a well within her. It is not that she will take one magical sip and never thirst. The well itself will dwell within her—she may constantly drink from it!
Still unable to grasp the truth behind Jesus' words, she hears only that he is offering an alternative to this distant well. "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw." She desires this water that quenches thirst and is not a sweltering journey away.
Jesus' response to her request is unexpected. "Go call your husband," he says, "and come here." Jesus knows her painful past. Yet, he requests that she call her husband anyway, a husband she does not have. Can Jesus be any more insensitive? She has battled the scars of her tragic past for years, and her present adulterous relationship is a constant weapon for those around her. Her shame, guilt, sorrow and pain lead her to draw at high noon that she might avoid these despised conversations. Why would Jesus want to open old wounds? Has he no compassion?
Our Lord does not lack compassion. His request does not flow from a heart of insensitivity. Rather, in mercy he grants her request. It is his water she requests and it is that water he offers. However, the living water of Christ is not consumed with a cup, but with faith and repentance. If she is to drink the living water which bubbles up to eternal life then she must deal with the sin problem she has before God. She must recognize her hopeless state, her inability to change that state, and her need then to lean solely on Christ. Jesus must first accentuate her thirst. He therefore uncovers and lays all things bare. Christ pierces her hardened heart with the painful and shameful truth of her five past marriages and her present life with a man who is not her hus-
band. She cannot look to a lonely well engulfed in the sun's heat to quench her thirst but to the Son himself, whose light does not burn the skin but renews the soul and recreates the heart.
This dialogue leads her to believe that she is dealing with an extraordinary individual, perhaps even a prophet. She uses this as an opportunity to change the subject by diverting the discussion to a controversial topic: the proper location for worship. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim in Samaria while the Jews worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus, having just instructed her on thirst, takes this opportunity to instruct her on the thirst-quenched worship of the age to come. He points her neither to Gerizim nor Jerusalem. "An hour is coming," Jesus says, "and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth." No longer does one travel to a temple of stone to worship God. The coming of Christ inaugurates the age of the Spirit; and in the age of the Spirit the point of contact between God and man is not a stone building but God himself in Christ. What Jesus is offering this woman is not the provisional peace found in the old administration but an everlasting peace found in eschatological worship. She is not to look to Gerizim or Jerusalem but to Jesus.
The woman's conversation is finally moved to spiritual heights. She expresses her hope in a Messiah. She has grasped the eschatological tone of Christ's discourse on worship. With her mind directed toward the age to come, she speaks of the anticipated Messiah. "I know he is coming. When that One comes, he will declare all things to us."
At this point, Jesus no longer speaks to her in symbols, but clearly reveals himself to be the awaited Messiah. Taking the theophanic name upon himself Jesus declares, "I AM who speak to you." The one hope she still entertained in her wretched existence was now standing before her. Jesus, the fulfillment of the Immanuel promise, was proclaiming all things. She need not wait any longer.
This pattern of a man traveling to a foreign place and meeting a woman at a well occurs three other times in the Bible. It occurs in Genesis 24 with Abraham's servant and Rebekah, in Genesis 29 with Jacob and Rachel, and in Exodus 2 with Moses and Zipporah. All three of these accounts end in mar-
riage. So too this meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well is to direct our thoughts to matrimony.
Wedding imagery was used by the prophets to describe that glorious age to come.
"For your husband is your Maker . . . For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit" (Is. 54:4-6).
"And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you" (Is. 62:5).
"And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness" (Hos. 2:19, 20).
The long-awaited day of the Lord was likened unto a wedding, where the chosen people would be united to their Maker, forever gazing upon his beauty and delighting in the sweet, intimate fellowship they would have with their God. In John's heavenly vision, he heard a great multitude rejoicing over the arrival of this great wedding and saying, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9). What a wonderful day that will be!
Yet, here in John 4 God is courting a Samaritan woman—now! The significance of God's courting activity with the woman as a present reality has been unveiled already in John 3:22-30, a pericope which provides the initial setting for John 4 (see John 4:1, 2 and the reference to Jesus baptizing more than John the Baptist). In John 3:22-30 we find John the Baptist's disciples concerned about the number of people leaving John for Christ. John responds, "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." The Baptist recognizes that Christ is the bridegroom and that these multitudes leaving him for Christ are the bride. He is witnessing the long-awaited betrothal of the bride. The age of the eschatalogical wedding has dawned and John rejoices.
This woman who has no husband is being courted by her Lord. This Samaritan woman is being grafted into the bride of Christ. The Jews hurl insults at Christ in John 8:48, saying he is a Samaritan and has a demon. Jesus denies only the latter. For Jesus is not ashamed to be counted among the outcasts. He comes even to a Samaritan. The Lord does not approach her to issue the condemnation she deserves but to draw her to himself, as part of his bride. He will be her husband.
Yet, this bride will not come cheap. God is just and by his very nature must punish sin. Quenching his beloved's thirst will require him to endure the horror of the cross in her stead. For it is there, nailed hand and foot, that Jesus, the source of living water, would cry out, "I thirst." John does not include the synoptic cry of dereliction, "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me." Rather, in this gospel, it is thirst that represents the consummate separation from God, the pains of hell. Christ goes to the cross to thirst in his bride's place, taking on her sorrow, grief and sin.
The fulfillment of the woman's Messianic hope is subtly displayed in v. 28. There it says she left behind her waterpot. This is not incidental commentary on the part of the author. The forgotten waterpot symbolizes a change in the woman. She is now a possessor of the Living Water. This Samaritan woman, this Samaritan bride, does not thirst anymore.
As the disciples come on the scene in v.27, the woman goes to the city to tell others about Jesus. "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" Earlier she had expressed her hope in the Messiah. He was the one who would declare all things to her. Now she is telling others about the one who told her all things. No longer running from her enemies, no longer seeking dignity on her own terms, she runs to them, inviting them to come and see. These Samaritans are also offered the Living Water and called to the Wedding.
It was earlier noted that Jesus had to pass through Samaria because of a divine engagement. But this engagement was more than just an appointment for Christ; it was a wedding engagement for the woman. It was an engagement of the most profound and holy matrimony, that between Christ and his Church.
If you are a member of the bride, meditate on what Jesus has done for you. You also were like the woman, thirsty, separated from God, in need of a spiritual husband. Jesus taking the initiative, came and revealed himself to you. He gave you living water, having thirsted on your behalf. That water has become in you a well bubbling up to etemal life; drink from it often. You no longer walk in the darkness of spiritual divorce. But having already been given the Spirit of the age to come, your identity is with your husband; you are hidden with Christ in God. Act like it. Dwell in the realm of the above. The troubles of this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
If you are not part of this glorious bride, consider the words of the woman: come and see. The promise of Christ is true: "he who believes in me shall never thirst" (Jn. 6:35). You, like the woman, will then know that most blessed, everlasting love which divorce cannot destroy, from which neither death, nor life, nor any other created thing can ever separate you. You will not be disappointed.
William D. Dennison
I believe that it should be stated from the outset that Paul wrote his epistles as a pastor to the churches. In the Reformed tradition, we have honored Paul as a very articulate theologian (e.g., Romans and Galatians). I am not minimizing this approach to understanding Paul; indeed, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul carried the central doctrines of our holy faith to the heights of theological precision. Even so, it is sometimes overlooked that Paul's letters were pastoral; in fact, he is the pastor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He pastors the church—the flock of Christ—in resurrection living! In truth, the resurrection of Christ is the central topic of Paul's letters; it is the essential event which controls his entire ministry.
The Centrality of Christ's Resurrection
The resurrection of Christ can be demonstrated as being the central topic of Paul's letters by unfolding the structure of Paul's thoughts However, since we do not have time to unfold this structure, permit me to provide one example. In I Corinthians 15, Paul informs us about the effect of the resurrection of Jesus Christ upon the Christian faith. He writes: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (v. 14). Furthermore, our testimony is false about the resurrected Christ (v. 15), and we are to pitied more than all men because we have a false hope in Christ (v. 19). Thus "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (v. 17). In truth, Christianity is futile and meaningless if Christ has not
been raised. The truth is, however, that the faith of the believer is not futile and meaningless because "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (v. 20). Thus, you can see why the resurrection is said to be Paul's central theme—the foundation of his ministry to the churches. Christ's resurrection is central because there is no faith, no hope, no preaching, no pastoring if Christ has not been raised.
Moreover, the centrality of Christ's resurrection for Paul is not some abstract theological concept which is distant from the believer. Rather, for Paul, the resurrection of Christ is the essence—the heart of the believer's existence. In fact, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then your life is defined by and in the resurrection of Christ. This is the dynamic of the Christian life! After all, God has brought us into this period of the history of redemption—a time when the resurrection from the dead in the promised Messiah has become a reality. History is fulfilled!
The promise of victory over death through the resurrection is not a mystery to the Christian. If we reflect upon the unity of redemptive-history in the revelation of Scripture, then we cannot overlook that the Old Testament records events which are a foretaste of the Messiah's resurrection. For example, have you ever understood the events in Genesis 3 in terms of death and resurrection? When Adam and Eve fell into sin, they were dead. They were truly spiritually dead in their sin. When God makes the promise of redemption in Genesis 3:15 ("And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel"), that promise is the resurrection of Adam and Eve. God brings life out of death! In other words, the promise of God to conquer the serpent is the resurrection of Adam and Eve as both of them cleave to that promise in faith. Later, the exodus of Israel out of Egypt becomes the principle Easter event of the Old Testament. Israel is in bondage to Egypt for over four hundred years (in Scripture, emblematic of the bondage to sin). As God delivers them out of the hands of the Egyptians, God brings them across the Red Sea upon dry ground. Hence, God has redeemed them from oppressive slavery; he has resurrected Israel from a lifeless existence among the Egyptians. Thus, the exodus is the central resurrection event in the Old Testament. Even so, according to Paul, the fullness of time has now arrived; that is
to say, redemptive-history has reached its fulfilled state. Jesus Christ has come as the promised seed of redemption, the incarnate Son of God, the final atonement for our sins, and the one who has broken the bands of death in the victory of his resurrection. This has occurred so the people of God can have the abundant life—so we can experience the resurrection life! Jesus Christ removes the veil from the Old Testament's foretaste of resurrection experience, and now he has appeared in history to his disciples, to his people (church), and to the apostle Paul as the fully manifested and resurrected Lord and Savior!
The Meaning of the Resurrection for Believers
In Colossians 3, Paul gives the church a glimpse of what the believer's life means in light of Christ's resurrection. It means that you, as a believer, have already been raised from the dead and brought into resurrection-union with Jesus Christ. For this reason, we must correct a common misunderstanding on the part of believers. Usually when believers think of their resurrection, they think that it is an event which will take place exclusively in the future—at the time of Christ's second coming. If this is how you understand your resurrection, then you do not understand the dynamic of Christ's resurrection which took place two thousand years ago. For the Bible teaches that the believer's resurrection took place two thousand years ago notice the past tense in verse 1: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ" (KJV: "If then ye were raised together with Christ;" in the Greek the verb is in the aorist passive indicative). Thus, Christ's resurrection is the active dynamic which resurrects all believers (past, present, future). God the Father did not raise Christ from the dead in isolation: rather the power of Christ's resurrection brought life to all his people, those who have lived and will live. Permit me to illustrate this point further.
While I was a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, I recall a story told by Professor Norman Shepherd regarding Rev. G. I. Williamson when Rev. Williamson was a pastor in Fall River, Massachusetts. According to Professor Shepherd, Rev. Williamson was greeting his congregation following the morning service. In this cordial atmosphere, a number of fine Christian ladies approached Rev. Williamson and asked him when he had
been saved? In other words, when was his personal crisis experience in coming to know Jesus Christ? Before Rev. Williamson could respond, a five-year old girl standing beside them spurted out: "I was saved two thousand years ago." Oh congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, do you see the genius of that little girl's response? Her confession demonstrates tremendous insight! The ladies viewed salvation as an individual and subjective experience of crisis, whereas the little girl already understood that her salvation was totally accomplished through the death and resurrection of Christ two thousand years ago. In other words, salvation is not dependent upon what I do, but upon what Christ has done. At a very young age that little girl was voicing exactly what the Holy Spirit was teaching through Paul concerning the believer's salvation in Christ.
You may, however, say: "But look, Paul, you do not make sense; humans still must go through physical death. Physical death is real! How can you say that the believer is already raised from the dead?" Such a comment seems like a good rational objection. However, this objection overlooks the fact that physical death does not determine where one is going to spend eternity—sin determines where one is going to spend eternity. Hence, the marvelous joy of the gospel is that Christ has crucified sin to the cross, and by rising from the dead he has put sin to death once-and-for-all for those who believe in him (v. 3). The sting of sin and death are gone through Christ's victorious death and resurrection. After all we know that Paul makes this exact point to the Corinthian church: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (l Cor. 15:55-57; cf. also Rom. 6:6). Henceforth, as the church of Jesus Christ, we do not live under the bondage of sin, but under the freedom of Christ—the freedom of the resurrection life!
In terms of the process of redemptive-history, the believer's present actual state of existence is union with Christ's death and resurrection. When Christ died, I died to sin; when Christ rose, I rose to eternal life! Therefore, since this is the present state of the believer, we are to "set" (imperative mood) our hearts and minds upon the things that are above—where Christ is, i.e., in heaven. When Paul tells the Colossians to set their hearts and minds
upon things that are above, he is not expressing an ideal which cannot be reached. Moreover, it is not a hypothetical goal which he believes cannot be attained. Rather, Paul issues a command which must and can be followed because the power of Christ's death and resurrection is being applied to the hearts and minds of believers through the Holy Spirit. The point is this: if we are in unity with Christ (if we have been resurrected with Christ), then we must be where Christ is—in heaven. How can we say that we have been resurrected with Christ if we still set our hearts and minds upon the ways of the flesh (vv. 5-8)the things that are upon the earth? As a true believer, you cannot set your heart or mind upon the world of the flesh. Hence, in light of the accomplished work of Christ, in a realistic way true believers have already gone into heaven. Since we cannot be separated from Christ, and since Christ is in heaven seated on the right hand of the Father, our lives through faith-union must exemplify that we are in heaven with Christ. Indeed, Paul is commanding us to set our hearts and minds upon heaven even as we continue to live on earth (cf. Mt. 6:33).
Living Our Union With Christ's Resurrection
On the basis of our text, I believe that we can draw this conclusion: resurrection living is heavenly living. Such an understanding is the foundation of Christian ethics and morality. Christian ethical conduct must be grounded in the victory of Christ's resurrection and the ethics of heaven. Specifically, our ethical and moral conduct must exemplify that we are already in heaven, because in fact through faith-union with Christ we are in heaven (cf. Phil. 3:21; Eph. 2:6). Herein, it is not surprising that Paul describes exactly how believers are to live a resurrected heavenly life in the church (vv. 12-17). We are to understand that we have been chosen by God unto salvation; we are to be holy, compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient (v. 12). Why? Because these are the attributes of heaven, and since the church is already in heaven through faith-union with Christ, the church (each person) must live in the truthfulness of these characteristics now! Read on; the people in Christ's church are to bear with one another, forgive each other, and put on love—the bond of unity (vv. 13-14). Why? Once again, because these are the characteristics of heaven. In heaven, is it not true that we will bear with each other, that we will forgive each other as Christ has
forgiven us, and that we will be bound together by the love of Jesus Christ? Since this will be true in the final state of heaven, the church, as she is presently in union with Jesus Christ, must possess these characteristics of conduct on earth. Finally, let the peace of Christ rule your hearts as well as let the word of Christ richly dwell in you doing all things in the name of Jesus Christ (vv. 15-17). Why? Because as we read in the book of Revelation the final state of the people of God will be the eternal worship of the Lamb of God (see Rev. 5). Since the peace, word, and work of Christ is that which is eternal, the church of Jesus Christ must live this truth presently on earth. Thus, the church and her saints have no right to do things in the glory of their own personal name. Rather, they must do all things for the name of the one who is eternally glorified—Jesus!
Hopefully it is now obvious; the life of the church is a resurrection life and a heavenly existence. That is why the truth of Christ's resurrection is not a once-a-year event which we post on the ecclesiastical calendar at Easter. Rather, through the power of Christ's resurrection, the church's whole existence is a life of resurrection. The church truly exists in heaven, even here on earth, because of Christ's resurrection. For this reason, Paul tells us that our lives are to be dead to immorality, impurity, lust, greed, and idolatry because these are the characteristics of living under the power of our fleshly nature. Such characteristics do not exemplify the heavenly life—the resurrection life.
Living the Historical Pattern of Christ
You may have one last question: "How are we in heaven when there is so much sin in the world (since sin is still manifest)"? First, as I have been already stating, we are in heaven through our faith-union with Christ. Second, concerning sin that still surrounds us, our existence in heaven is one of being hid. This second point is clear in our text: "your life is now hidden with Christ in God" (v. 3b). In other words, your life of heavenly and resurrection existence is hid with Christ from the present evil age—from the world of flesh and unbelief. Then, as we connect the phrase in verse 3b with the next phrase—"When Christ, who is your [our] life"—something tremendous unfolds before us.
In Matthew 13 we read about the kingdom parables. Jesus tells us that the mystery of the kingdom of God is hidden from the world of unbelief, whereas the knowledge of the secrets of heaven have been given to his disciples. In reality, this truth not only applies to Christ's teaching in parables, but it also applies to Christ's whole ministry on earth. Through his teaching and work the identity of Christ is hidden from the world, whereas it is revealed to those to whom he has chosen to disclose the rich treasures of his kingdom. Then, at his second coming, Christ will be fully manifested in all his glory. At that time, all humanity will know that Jesus spoke the truth concerning himself, and he will totally disclose the fullness of the kingdom. All those who rejected Christ and his teaching on the kingdom will receive everlasting fire, whereas those to whom Christ has revealed himself will live eternally with him. Notice the historical pattern of Christ's existence: while Christ was on earth he lived a life of being hid until he is fully revealed at his second coming. The pattern is this: being hid to being fully revealed or manifested in glory (his final appearance). Watch carefully what Paul is doing with the life of the believer in our text!
As we live on earth—as we are pilgrims in this foreign land our life is one of being hid. In other words, what makes you tick as a person in Christ is hidden from the world of unbelief unless Christ's Spirit decides to reveal the truth of your witness to those around you. Then when you appear with Christ in glory, those unbelievers who came in contact with you will know that you spoke the truth. Hence, they will be given the eternal punishment of God, whereas through God's mercy and grace, you will appear with Jesus in all his glory. Notice the historical pattern of the believer: your life on earth is one of being hid until you appear with Christ in all his glory. In reality, you are living the same historical life pattern as Jesus: from being hid to being revealed in glory. Now we understand Paul's phrase: "Christ, who is your [our] life." Through the Spirit of God, we are so much in union with Christ that we live the very same life pattern that Christ lives. Christ's pattern is one of being hid (on earth) to one of being revealed in glory (second coming); likewise, our pattern is one of being hid (on earth) to one of being revealed with Christ in glory (second coming). What a tremendous gospel we have: we live the exact same life pattern as our Redeemer and Savior! Truly, this is the rich dimension of union with Christ! Thus, as sin manifests itself around us, we
know that our lives are hid with Christ in God. We are being preserved by God's love and grace for the day of his final coming. We are assured that not even Satan and all his companions can deter what God has worked in the resurrection of his Son. Through Christ's Spirit, the believer is in complete union with the victory of Christ's resurrection, and he lives that resurrection presently in heavenly union with his beloved Savior, even as he continues to journey on earth.
1. For a defense of this thesis, one should consult: Richard B. Gaffn, Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1987); Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John R. de Witt (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975); and Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972).
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Leon Morris. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992, 781 pp., $39.95 cloth. ISBN: 0-85111-338-9.
This thick, pricey volume does not exhibit the Biblical Theological sensitivity one would hope for. Nor is it a very stimulating commentary in other ways. The author of this commentary appears to be preoccupied with questions of brute syntax and source criticism.
The thematic outlines are quite basic and do little to penetrate the structure of Matthew's gospel. This commentary uses many words to say little that hasn't already been said in the writings of others. Although footnotes and bibliographies show that the author has drawn material from sources like W.D. Davies and J.D. Kingsbury, one gets the impression that his familiarity with such is really only a passing acquaintance.
Still, among the stronger points of this volume "is" this wealth of bibliographic information that has been collected and is neatly arranged in more than one place. There are annotated footnotes at the bottom of each page; there is a table of bibliographic abbreviations near the front of the book, plus a complete author index at the back of the book. In reading this commentary a person gets the feeling that it is basically a compilation of the writings of others. To Morris's credit he includes a Scripture index—most handy!
The well organized bibliographic information and the skill and scrutiny with which Morris has handled certain syntactical aspects of the Greek language are not enough to justify spending forty dollars for this commentary. It
may provide an antidote for insomnia, but sleeping pills would cost a lot less.
Prescott Presbyterian Church in America
Larry Woiwode. Acts. San Francisco: Harper, 1993, 244 pp., $17.00 Cloth. ISBN: 0-06-069404-1.
Another commentary on Acts? Well, yes and no. Yes, it has to do with the Acts of the Apostles. But no in that Mr. Woiwode approaches Acts in a somewhat un-commentary way. "The Acts of the Apostles is the most narrative book of the New Testament" (p. 8). And he places this biblical narrative into his own narrative of reflections on the Church and his own life as a writer. In this book, Mr. Woiwode is, as C.S. Lewis might have put it, 'looking along' Acts rather than merely looking at it. The result is novel.
Mr. Woiwode uses a traditional division of Acts into three sections, as suggested by Jesus in Acts 1:3. He thus follows the spread of God's redemptive acts from: (1) Jerusalem; (2) through all Judea and Samaria; (3) to the remotest parts of the earth. Along the way he stops now and then, to reflect on the Church today and upon his own life and upon writing. The result reads like a novel. But every once in awhile, you'll want to pause and remove your glasses or get up and pace the room.
I entered the public university system somewhere among the bottom third of my peers in language skills (according to a widely used national test). And I'm afraid my interest in the language arts did not exceed my ability. All of which isn't very interesting except, perhaps, for one thing. The Word of God came to me about that time. He came with words of life. And things changed. Not so much my ability, but certainly my interest.
My mother noticed this change. Her son was suddenly reading and even trying to write. To her this was a dramatic change. To me it was deeply disappointing. I had been told (and thoroughly believed) that the sort of
change that the Spirit brings about has to do with ethics and attitudes. Others around me were supposed to see a certain something in my life that would make them want what I had. (Never mind the fact that the world crucified Jesus and that the more Christ-like we become the more they will hate us too, as Jesus told us). Couldn't my mother see something that she wanted?
Whether she saw anything else or not though, I now think that I too quickly dismissed her observation. I had not appreciated what it might mean for an articulating God to come into the heart of someone with so little regard for words. It ought to be a thing of wonder that God would have acted upon men to articulate his own revelation of himself. While it is true that the Holy Spirit must bring about our new birth, it is nonetheless true that the chief means of this grace is a premeditated, artistically crafted book. Mr. Woiwode stirs up something of that sense of wonder. (Oh he does more than this. But this is something rather un-commentary).
"Each prophet and poet and apostle had a designated portion of the canon to bring to the world; none was trying to outdo or overstep another. Those feet always travel in the way of Christ. No human mind could channel or arrange the structure and patterns that at certain moments in Acts step off through whole tracts of the old and new covenants while applying to a situation you noticed only this morning."
"For me, a writer aware of how much more complex each book becomes with each sentence added, it was the clarity of these patterns and structure in Scripture and their ability to intermesh with one another through as many levels as I could imagine that convinced me that the Bible couldn't be the creation of a man or any number of men, and was certainly not the product of separate men divided by centuries, but was of another world: supernatural. I was forced to admit, under no pressure but the pressure of the text itself, that it could be only what it claimed it was, the word of God" (pp. 81-82).
Those of you who appreciate what Kerux is doing will, I think, appreciate Mr. Woiwode's contribution to the Church's ongoing interaction with God's word. What sets Biblical Theology apart from Systematics is not so much our concern for the history of redemption as it is our concern for the way that history is articulated. One of us may, for example, pursue the image
of "light" all through the Bible. We don't end up with a 'doctrine of light' as we might expect a systematician to. Rather, we end up with, we hope, a glimpse of the way God sees what he does, through the way he has chosen to articulate himself and his actions to us. It is a 'looking along' rather than a looking at.
This is a decidedly literary approach to Scripture. And probably explains why, on the whole, Biblical Theology stirs up so little interest. Besides general illiteracy, there is just too much suspicion that what we're doing is liberal because liberals long ago staked out the literary dimension of Scripture as their own. Of course, it is not their own. The words of God are nourishment for those who would be good servants of Christ Jesus. And with regard to the richness of that nourishment, I think you will appreciate Mr. Woiwode's Acts.