We have now shown by the teaching of our Lord Jesus
Christ Himself that at His coming again (of which premonitory sign will be
given) there will be an immediate separation of those who have obeyed the
gospel from those who have refused its proferred mercy; that the former will
enter at once into everlasting glory and blessing and the latter into eternal
wrath and judgment. We come now to :
THE TEACHING OF PAUL
Reference has already been made to the passage in Romans 2:1-16, which
states that they who in this day of salvation despise the riches of God's
goodness, refusing to repent, are even now treasuring up from themselves
against the day of wrath; and that just as in this era of grace, the gospel is
"to the Jew first" (1:16), even so in that day of judgment, the tribulation
and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil will also be to "the Jew
first." And the reason is given, namely, that "there is no respect of persons
with God" (2:9-11). This Scripture alone, if there were no other, would
suffice to overthrow completely the doctrine of a special salvation for the
natural descendants of Jacob after the day of grace shall have ended, and the
day of judgment shall have begun.
Romans 11:1-32. We have already given consideration to this chapter of
Romans; and we have seen that it is part of a passage (Chaps. ix-xi) in which
the apostle expounds the course of God's dealings with the Jews, in whom he
had the deepest and most loving interest, seeing that they were his own
"Kinsmen according to the flesh" (9:3). It contains a strong intimation that
it lay in the purpose of God, at some time in the then future, to extend
special mercy to the Jews (11:24,26,31). The time of this promised visitation
is indicated in a general way by the words, "That blindness in part is
happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (11:25). But
it is plainly declared that the promised mercy will take the form, not of a
special national salvation after this day of grace shall have ended, but of
the incorporating of individual Jews ("natural branches") into the very same
"olive tree" (The Israel of God, whose "root" is Christ and whose "fatness" is
the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 3:14) into which believing Gentiles are now being
incorporated. It follows, therefore, and other Scriptures (such as those
heretofore cited) shut us up to the same conclusion, that the promised
visitation of the Jews in mercy must take place ere this present day of grace
comes to an end.
In a word, whatever "mercy" (11:31,32) may be in store for the natural
Jews, will come to them in this day of grace, and as individuals, not in the
day of judgment, and as a nation.
The teaching of the apostle Paul on the subject of our present inquiry
is found mainly in his two Epistles to the Thessalonians, to which we shall
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9. The first part of this well known passage speaks
of the descending of the Lord from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
arch-angel, and the trump of God, whereupon "the dead in Christ shall rise
first." "Then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." This is the only sort of
salvation that the apostle here (or elsewhere) describes as taking place at
the coming of the Lord; and it is expressly limited to those who are already
"in Christ." Moreover, the apostle goes on to speak of "the times and seasons"
of these great events saying that "the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in
the night." And how will it then fare with those who are not found "in
Christ?" He tells us they will be assuring themselves of good things ahead by
saying, "Peace and Safety" (just as were those who lived and despised God's
warnings in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot), but that "sudden
destruction" shall fall upon them, "and they shall not escape." Verse 9
declares that the alternatives presented to all men are "salvation" and
"wrath." And so say all the Scriptures.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. We have already pointed out the close argument
(extending even to similarity of words) between this passage and that in
Matthew XXV, in which our Lord Himself declares what will happen at His coming
again. It describes the day that was forseen by Daniel when "the kingdom and
dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be
given to the people of the saints of the Most High" (Dan. 7:27); the day "when
the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels"; and the
plain declaration is that He will come "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on
them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the
Lord, and from the glory of His power." Moreover, it is here declared that
this sweeping judgment, embracing all who know not God and obey not the
Gospel, will be at the very time "He shall come to be glorified in His saints,
and to be admired in all them that believe" (2 Th. 1:7-10). By this passage
again we are assured that at our Lord's second coming "all them that believe"
will be made sharers of His own glory, and all others will "be punished," by
banishment away from His presence, to a place of "destruction" that shall be
It has been already noted, and should be kept in mind, that the
unconverted Jews have ever been foremost among the despisers of God's mercy,
even in the preceding dispensation, and that they have been most conspicuously
the rejectors of Jesus Christ and His gospel. For, by trampling upon the law
of God, they brought upon themselves and their children all its curses and
judgments. Moreover, from the very beginning they have had the Holy Scriptures
which testify of Christ; they have heard every Sabbath day the voices of the
prophets, which spake beforehand of His coming, and of all He was to do and
suffer; they were the first to whom the risen Christ sent the glad tidings of
free salvation through His chosen witnesses, who preached the gospel unto them
with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; and even in these last days special
efforts for their salvation have been made through societies organized and
maintained for that sole purpose. How can it be supposed then that this
passage, and other Scriptures which speak plainly to the same effect, have no
application to those who are of "Israel after the flesh?" And what
responsibility do we incur, if we preach a doctrine so contrary to that of
Christ and His apostles, especially if thereby any should be encourages to
continue in unbelief, trusting the delusive hope of national salvation in the
approaching day of wrath? This passage is most assuredly decisive of the
question we are considering; for it declares, in language that is unmistakably
plain, what will happen at the end of this gospel era to them that have not
obeyed the gospel; and certainly, of all the people of the world, the Jews are
most conspicuously those who have not obeyed the gospel.
2 Thessalonians 2:2-12. There are difficulties of a minor character in
regard to certain details of this passage; but with respect to the subject of
our present inquiry it speak with a certainty and clearness that leave nothing
to be desired. For it plainly declares that, at the Lord's appearing in glory,
"that man of sin, the son of perdition," "that Wicked one" (the antichrist)
shall be consumed by the spirit (or breath) of His mouth, and destroyed by the
effulgence of His presence (lit. the epiphany of His parousia); and further
that they who would not receive the love of the truth, whereby they might have
been "saved," will have been given over by God Himself to "strong delusion,
that they should believe the lie" (the original has the definite article); to
this end, namely (let the words be carefully observed): "That they all might
be damned, who believed not the truth (the gospel), but had pleasure in
This agrees perfectly with Christ's own words concerning the flood,
"and took the all away." It absolutely excludes the possibility of the
salvation after His coming of any who have rejected the gospel previously.
2 Peter 3:1-10. The apostle Peter speaks plainly in this passage concerning
the scoffers of the last days who deride the warnings of judgment to come; and
he declares that the day of wrath will come suddenly, when the earth, and the
works therein shall be burned up. Moreover, what he says about the reason for
God's long delay (v. 9) precludes the idea of there being any opportunity for
repentance after that day begins. This important passage will be considered
more in detail in a subsequent chapter.
Revelation 6:12-17. This vision clearly depicts the great day of the wrath
of the Lamb. It has no place in it for the salvation of any racial or other
group. Moreover, the captains of industry, the magnates and other great ones
of the earth are under no illusions whatever as to the doom that is about to
Revelation 19:11-21. This passage describes a vision of the things that are
about to happen at the second coming of Christ. John says: "And I saw heaven
opened, and behold, a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called
Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war." The
vision shows what Christ will do from the moment He issues forth from the
opened heaven down to the complete overthrow of all His enemies, the casting
of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, the binding of Satan
in the bottomless pit, and the setting up of the thrones of His everlasting
Kingdom. He comes to "judge and make war." And in keeping with this purpose,
His eyes are as a flame of fire, and out of His mouth goeth a sharp two-edged
sword, that with it He should smite the nations. John sees also an angel
standing in the sun, who cries with a loud voice to all the fowls of the air,
saying, "Come and gather yourselves to the great supper of God, that ye mat
eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty
men." There is nothing here (and it would be here if anywhere) concerning any
group of people whom Christ converts and saves after His coming. The
separation is complete from the moment of His appearing; and the children of
men are either in the armies of heaven which "followed Him upon white horses
clothed in fine linen white and clean," or they are in that other company
which includes "the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies,
gathered together to make against Him that sat on the horse, and against His
army." For there are no neutrals in that war. Those that are not for Him are
against Him. And the end of those who are not with Him is described in these
words: "And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the
horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth; and all the fowls were filled
with their flesh" (v. 21).
The two edged sword is the symbol of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12). So
we have here a description in symbolic language of the fulfilment of Christ's
own prophecy: "And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not;
for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth
Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I
have spoken (the sword of His mouth) the same shall judge him in the last day"
(John 12:47,48). For His word is to them that hear it either a word of eternal
life, or a word of eternal judgment. It either saves or damns. The fowls of
the air represent, according to the Lord's explanation of the parable of the
sower, the wicked spirits, the agents of the evil one.
This vision, and others described in Revelation, absolutely exclude
the possibility of salvation after the beginning of the day of wrath for any
who have previously rejected the gospel.
It is appropriate also to remark that there is a noticeable and
significant absence, throughout the entire Apocalypse, of all reference to the
earthly Zion and earthly Jerusalem. The only holy mountain and city that have
part and place in those future scenes of blessedness are that "Mount Sion" to
which we have been brought, and "the City of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem," the "City which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,"
and which is attended by "an innumerable company of angels" (Heb. 11:10;
THE DISCIPLES' QUESTION IN ACTS I
Acts 1:6-8. Here we have the record of our Lord's last words to His
disciples before His ascension. The disciples had at last nerved themselves to
ask plainly and directly concerning that which was ever uppermost in their
Jewish minds; saying, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom
to Israel?" His reply (I quote from Bagster's Interlinear) was:
"It is not yours to know times or seasons which the Father placed in His
own authority; but ye will receive power, the Holy Ghost having come upon
you, and ye shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth."
It is quite possible to read into these words the idea that there was
to be, in some future "times or seasons," a restoration of earthly dominion to
Israel. In fact the writer himself having accepted these modern "Jewish
fables" (Which have become so astonishingly popular of late) held to that idea
until he could no longer close his eyes to the fact that, by placing that
interpretation upon the passage, he was making it contradict the plain
teaching of the entire New Testament.
On the other hand it is not difficult to assign to the words of our
Lord, quoted above, a meaning that accords perfectly with the Scriptures we
have been examining; and this, of course, is what we are bound to do. A
careful consideration and quiet pondering of those words lead to the
conclusion that here, as on many other occasions, our Lord simply ignored what
was in the minds of His disciples (for His thoughts were not their thoughts,
neither were their ways His ways). He might well have administered to them on
this occasion the same rebuke He had administered to Peter, when that disciple
spoke to Him under the influence of the same Jewish expectation; to whom He
said, "Thou art an offence to Me; for thou savourest not the things that be of
God, but those that be of men (Matt. 16:23). But the course He now took was to
disregard entirely the thought of their hearts, and simply to impress upon
them the fact that their all-engrossing occupation was to be that of bearing
testimony to His resurrection from the dead. It was to be their supreme
business to proclaim that mighty truth of the gospel to the whole world; and
for the accomplishment of that great mission, power would be given them
through the coming upon them, in a few days, of the Holy Spirit from heaven.
Moreover, a new order of things was then at hand; for Christ was not
henceforth to teach them in person and directly, but indirectly, through the
Holy Spirit, Who, as He had already told them, should guide them into all
truth (John 16:13). And it is a striking fact that after they had received the
baptism of the Holy Spirit they never again spoke of that sort of a kingdom
(Acts 8:12, 19:8, 20:25; 28:31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; 15:50; Col. 1:13; 2
Thess. 1:5; Rev. 1:19; &c.).
It is clear from the wording of the disciples' question that they had
no doubt in their minds that the kingdom was to be restored to Israel, the
only thing to be settled with them being whether the time of its restoration
was then at hand; also there is good reason to believe that their conception
of the nature of the expected kingdom did not differ materially from that of
their fellow Israelites.
There has been discussion in print recently as to whether the question
the disciples put to their risen Lord was "an intelligent question"; and it
has been argued in behalf of modern Dispensationalism that the question was an
"intelligent" one, and that it would follow from the Lord's reply that the
kingdom was to be restored to Israel at some time then future.
I agree that the question was intelligent; and indeed deem it a most
natural and almost inevitable, question for them to ask; for they, in common
with all their compatriots, groaning under the tyranny of Rome's iron yoke,
were eagerly awaiting the emancipation of the Jewish people and the
re-establishment of the earthly kingdom of Israel. Moreover, they had heard
their Master say, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good
pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32); and at a later time they heard
Him say to the chief priests and elders at Jerusalem, "Therefore I say unto
you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing
forth the fruits thereof" (Matt. 21:43). And finally, during those forty days
when He had appeared to them from time to time, He had been "speaking of the
things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." Hence the question was "intelligent"
But it is needful to remember that there were certain things
concerning the Kingdom which He was not ready to make known to them, because
they were not as yet ready to receive them; things they were to learn later on
through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Lord had said to them on the
night of His betrayal, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot
bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide
you into all truth" (John 16:12-13). Especially the truth as to Israel's
relationship to the kingdom was a thing they could not "bear" until baptized
by the Spirit; for to natural Jews that truth is unbearable. Also they had yet
to learn that "the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness,
and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).
Accordingly they were given to know, through subsequent revelations of
the Holy Spirit, that the promised kingdom was of spiritual character, and
that the nation to which it was to be given was - not "Israel after the
flesh," but - the true "Israel of God."
Furthermore, the question involved "times and seasons" which the
Father had put in His own power. It is the Father who bestows the kingdom (Lu.
12:12); and it is the Father who determines the times and seasons, as it is
written, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son" (Gal.
4:4). Now that "little flock," to which the Father was pleased to give the
kingdom, was indeed "Israel"; but the mystery concerning the true "Israel,"
the flock for which the good Shepherd gave His life, had not as yet been made
known to them, "as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the
Spirit" (Eph. 3:1-6).
Also it is to be noted that the "times" of the Gentiles, which had a
long course to run, had not yet begun; which is an additional reason why the
Lord answered them as He did, thereby putting aside the subject of the
bestowal of the kingdom, and fixing their minds upon the coming of the Holy
Spirit, who would make the whole matter clear.
Finally, seeing there is but one kingdom in God's purpose, and but one
Israel, the passage we are considering (Acts 1:1-6) cannot be interpreted in
such manner as lend support to the nationalistic dreams of "Israel after the
AS TO THE "TRIBULATION SAINTS"
Another feature of the modern doctrine of Judaistic nationalism should
receive brief attention. I refer to the idea of many modern dispensationalists
that the supposed national conversion of the Jews is to take place not
actually in the millennium itself, but at the interval between the coming of
Christ for His saved people and His coming to the earth with them. Those who
make the "great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) a yet future event locate it in
this interval, which they commonly refer to as "the tribulation period," and
they who are saved in that period (with a salvation much inferior to that now
offered through the gospel) are termed "tribulation saints." Hence, according
to this view, the supposed conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation is
to take place not in the millennium but, in a special "tribulation period,"
which is to intervene between this present day of grace and the millennial
But all the above, and the many specific features that go with it, are
purely the products of the human imagination. The length of the interval
between the catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess.
4:17) and His appearing with them in glory (Col. 3:4; I Jn. 3:2; Rev. 19:11-14
&c.) is not indicated. There is nothing to show that it will be longer than a
day, or part of a day. Indeed the interval itself is not referred to anywhere
in the Scriptures. Its existence is entirely a matter of inference from I
Thessalonians 4:14-17; it being obvious that there must needs be an interim of
some length between the taking of the save (living and raised) away from the
earth, and their manifestation with Christ in His "glorious appearing" (Tit.
2:12). But it is taking an unwarranted liberty with the word of prophecy to
make that interval a period of many years, and to crowd it with events of
transcendent importance; and specially so when it is expressly stated that the
change of condition of the Lord's people at that time will be effected "in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Cor. 15:52).
That there will be any gospel-effort during that interval, or any
salvation either of nations or of individuals, is purely a dream. And not only
so, but the idea is negated, first, by the silence of Scripture in regard
thereto; second, by the testimony of the very passage from which the interval
is inferred, I Thessalonians 4:16-5:9. For it is plainly declared in that
Scripture that what "cometh upon" those who are not caught away to meet the
Lord is - not salvation, or another opportunity to be saved, but - "sudden
destruction"; which, according to II Thessalonians 1:8,9, is "everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord." The alternative which the passage
presents is "salvation" or "wrath" (I Th. 5:9); and concerning those who have
not obeyed the gospel it is plainly declared that "they shall not escape."
The doctrine of another chance for any members of Adam's race, and of
a period, long or short, in which there will be preached "another gospel,"
different from that preached by Paul and all the apostles (I Cor. 15:3,4,11),
and particularly that of the conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation,
cannot be maintained without setting aside the very passage upon which it is
supposedly founded, and all other pertinent Scriptures besides.
Other Scriptures testify quite plainly against the idea of a special
salvation for Jews after Christ shall have removed His people from the world.
Thus Peter, speaking to a concourse of Jews at Jerusalem, whom he addressed as
"Ye men of Israel," recalled to their minds the prophecy of Moses of the
coming of Christ as a Prophet like unto himself: concerning Whom Moses said:
"And it shall come to pass that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet,
shall be destroyed from among the people." This tells us - not that after
Christ comes for His believing people the Jews will be saved in a body, but -
that the first thing on the program of the second advent will be that all Jews
who have not believed the gospel will be "destroyed from among the people."
This is in exact agreement with what Christ had taught His Jewish
auditors, namely, that at the end of the age the reapers should "gather first
the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them" (Matt. 13:30).
This earliest of the utterances of Christ's apostles concerning God's
future dealings with the Jews is in striking agreement with what Paul
subsequently stated at greater length in Romans XI. Peter declares not that
God would utterly destroy or cast off that people, but that those of them who
would not believe in Jesus Christ were to be "destroyed from among the
people"; which would leave only the believing Jews, corresponding to the few
"natural branches" of Paul's olive tree, that were not broken off. This word
of Peter plainly forbids the expectation of any salvation for Jews after the
second coming of Christ. (in regards to the dispensational doctrine which
states otherwise - TD).
This proclamation by Peter is in striking agreement with the Lord's
answer to the prayer of King Solomon, to whom He said (After promising a
reward for fidelity), said:
"But if ye shall at all turn from following Me, ye, or your children, and
will not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you,
but go and serve other gods and worship;then will I cut off Israel out of
the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for
My Name, will I cast out of My sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a
byword among all people."
No recovery is hinted at; and so it is with them to the present day.