APPENDIX - Human Destiny

APPENDIX

 
 
 

PART I.


THE following are the passages of the New Testament principally relied on to prove the doctrines of universalism. The exposition here offered is commended to the consideration of the reader.

Acts 3:21

"Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." The word here rendered "restitution"[1] occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but the kindred verb is used in eight passages[2], two of which throw light on this one. The prophetic Scriptures abound in predictions of a coming period of mingled blessing and judgment upon earth, and the Old Testament closes with the statement that its advent will be heralded by the return of Elijah[3]. This was used by the Scribes to disprove the claims of Jesus to Messiahship, and in Matt. 27:10 the disciples referred the difficulty to their Master. The Lord in reply expressly confirmed the prophecy, declaring that "Elias truly shall come first and restore all things."[4]

So again in Mark 9:12, "Elias verily cometh first and restoreth all things." St. Peter's words, in Acts 3:21, unmistakably refer to this the common hope of the people he was addressing, - a hope confirmed by Christ Himself. If, even then, Israel would but repent, God would send them the Messiah appointed for them, even Jesus[5]; whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, of which (times) God spake by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. He goes on to assert emphatically that every prophet, from Samuel onwards, foretold of those days, and he ends by connecting with these same prophecies the promise to Abraham that in his Seed all the kindreds of the earth shall be blessed. It is as clear as light, therefore, that "the times of restoration of all things" are no other than "the times of refreshing" of the 19th verse, "the great season of joy and rest on earth, which it was understood the coming of Messiah in His glory was to bring with it."[6]

Moreover, "all the prophets" "have foretold of these days," and their voice is almost, if not entirely, silent, about events beyond the last great judgment of "the quick amid dead." We are forced to the conclusion, therefore, that the use which has been made of the apostle's words is a perversion of the Scripture. It must not be overlooked that "the times of restoration of all things" will be marked by the destruction of the obdurate and disobedient.[7]

1 Corinthians 15:22

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" - Does this teach universal blessing? The words can be read in two ways. Either "death" may be taken to mean no more than physical death, and "life" as implying only the resurrection; or else the words may be understood in their deeper spiritual significance. If we adopt the former reading, then the passage means that as death is the lot of every human being, so every human being shall be raised from the dead by Christ's power. But who disputes this?  It is the common faith of Christendom![8]

But, it will be urged, the words mean more than this: "life" means salvation in the highest sense. Then "death" must be construed on the same principle, for the words are correlatives. How then shall we read the verse? As every human being dies, i.e. shall be finally lost, so every human being shall live, i.e. shall be finally saved. But these propositions are contradictory and absurd. We must either be content, therefore, to take the words as asserting merely the universality of death and resurrection, or else we must adopt a second possible rendering[9], and construe them thus: As in Adam all who belong to Adam die, so in Christ all who belong to Christ shall be made alive. That this is in fact the apostle's meaning the immediate sequel proves. He adds, "But each in his own order; Christ, the firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christ's (i.e. who belong to Christ) at His coming." That there will be beyond that "resurrection to life" a resurrection to judgment, we know from other Scriptures; but this is outside the scope of the apostle's argument, and he makes no mention of it here. If the 22nd verse be bracketed with the 21st, it will be read on the first principle above suggested; if with the 23rd, it will be pregnant with higher truth. But in neither case can it have the slightest bearing on the present controversy.

In the passage under consideration the climax is reached in the statement of the 28th verse that the great end of the "mediatorial kingdom" is "that God may be all in all." These words are held to imply universal restoration.  But this result is declared to be "when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power." It is not attained "till He hath put all enemies under His feet," till "all things shall be subdued unto Him"; and this is not the sort of language in which Scripture speaks of winning back the lost to God. Moreover, the absolute and acknowleged supremacy of the Almighty is all that is involved in the words "that God may be all in all."

The gloss "all things in all men" betrays either dishonesty or levity in handling Scripture. The supremacy is universal, and if it be brought about by reconciliation, the blessing must be shared by all the hosts of darkness.

Philippians 2:10

This last remark applies with equal force to the statement of the Divine purpose "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth." Not merely angels and saints and men on earth shall own Him Lord, but also the dwellers in the underworld. But till it has been proved that this acknowledgment shall be obtained from all by reconciliation, it must not be assumed that it will not be, in the case of some, by judgment.

Revelation 5:13; 21:4, 5; 22:3

With this statement in Philippians the vision of Rev. 5:13 appears to be connected. But this perhaps has been assumed too easily. The language seems to be figurative, for it is not intelligent beings only, but all animated creation, that join in the anthem of praise. No argument can fairly be based on it.[10]

The use made in this controversy of the description of the blessedness of the redeemed in the new creation must excite surprise in the mind of any one who studies the context. For the redeemed there is to be no more curse or death or sorrow, "but" (in awful contrast with this) "the fearful and unbelieving. . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."

Romans 5

It is idle to ignore the fact that theologians widely differ in their exegesis of the 5th chapter of Romans. But all that is essential here is to determine whether the meaning put upon the passage by the advocates of universalism be the true interpretation of it. The difficulty of the passage is centred in the statement of the 18th verse, that "as through one trespass [the judgment came] unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness [the free gift came] unto all men to justification of life."[11]

Verses 13 to 17 are parenthetical, and in the apostle’s argument the words just quoted follow upon the statement of the 12th verse, that, by reason of Adam’s sin, "death passed upon all men." Therefore, he concludes, as the result of that one trespass was unto all men to condemnation, even so the result of Christ’s one act of righteousness[12] was unto all men to justification. But surely the second of these correlative clauses is governed by the first. Men have "many trespasses," as the 16th verse declares, and the word χρισμα (charisma) is "unto justification" from them all.   But here he is speaking only of the "one trespass," and establishing that the death of Christ has cancelled the effects of Adam’s sin.

No one will deny that this is a fair and natural rendering of the passage; and this being so, I might pass on, leaving it to those who insist upon giving it a wider meaning to prove the correctness of their view. But let us pursue the matter further. As the condemnation included "all men," so also does the justification which tends to life. That the saved will be freed from the guilt of original sin is a mere truism. The apostle’s statement is that the benefit is for all. Christ has won for mankind immunity from judgment for Adam’s sin. So far as regards that sin every human being is "justified."[13]

But we are told we must not thus limit it. What then is the alternative? That just as that "one trespass" brought condemnation upon every human being, even so the death of Christ brought him justification, not from Adam’s sin only, but from all sin. There is no question here of the penitent believer’s blessing, but of the condition of man as man in virtue of the death of Christ. "All men," penitent and impenitent alike, are "justified from all things." All sins are thus wiped out for ever; and yet these same teachers tell us that for these very sins the sinner shall be punished "in æonian fire beyond the grave"!

Ephesians 1:10

The Epistle to the Ephesians announces the purpose of God "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth." The words "all things" (τ πντα) shall be further considered under the next passage cited. Suffice it here to admit that they are wide enough to include the universe, and if explanatory words of as wide signification be added, no other meaning can fairly be put on them. But is it clear that the words here added are not words of limitation?  In the passage already noticed in Philippians[14], where the supremacy of Christ is in question, the apostle includes, with heaven and earth, the underworld; and that "the heavens" include the abode of fallen angels and lost men is a startling assumption which cannot be conceded. Moreover, it is admitted by all that the lost will be sent to their punishment after the last great judgment. Therefore if they are to be included in the "gathering together," "the economy of the fulness of times" must be explained on a principle unknown to theologians. Further, the rendering "gather together in one" gives to the word here used a colour which scarcely belongs to it. It occurs once again—viz., in Rom. 13:9, where the apostle says the law is briefly comprehended in the one word which enjoins love. The word means to head up or sum up as ex. gr. at the close of a speech. The universe shall yet be headed up in Christ. He shall regain the place from which sin has sought to dethrone Him. But whether this shall be accomplished by the restoration of all, or by the subjection of all, we must turn to other scriptures to decide.

Colossians 1:20

The most important passage still remains. To the Colossians St. Paul writes thus: "For in Him" (Christ) "God was pleased that the whole fulness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile again all things to Him, having made peace by means of the blood of His cross—through Him—whether the things on the earth or the .things in the heavens." (I have followed the translation given in Alford’s Commentary.) Here at last we have a statement which, it ought to be admitted, seems to teach universal restoration. To attempt a critical analysis of the somewhat conflicting views of commentators on the passage would involve too serious a digression. But in accordance with the scheme of my argument, the following suggestions are offered for the consideration of the thoughtful.

First, then, the remark already made on the words "all things" applies here with increased force. It cannot be questioned that in the 16th verse these words have no limitation whatever; for in speaking of creation, "the heavens and the earth" include the universe in every part and to its utmost limits. But sin has produced an apostasy from "the heavens and the earth," and as already noticed, the apostle when asserting Christ’s supremacy enumerates the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. Further; there is sometimes a good deal of theology in the use of the Greek article, and its presence here indicates that the prominent thought in the passage is not every part of the universe, but the universe regarded as a whole. May not the lapsed portion of it be ignored here, as it is ignored in the closing words of the first chapter of the Bible, where everything[15] that God had made was declared to be very good, albeit the Serpent and his angels had already marred the unity of creation?

But it is the word "reconcile" upon which attention must be centred in considering this passage. It is used only by St. Paul, and the passages in which it occurs are so few and so important that it will be well to quote them here.

Rom. 5:10. - "For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled[16] to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled 110, we shall be saved by His life."

Rom. 5:11. - "Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.[17]"

Rom. 11:15. - "If the casting away of them" (Israel)" be the reconciling 111 of the world."

I Cor. 7:11. - "Let her . . be reconciled 110 to her husband."

2 Cor. 5:18-20. - "All things are of God, Who hath reconciled 110 us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation111, - to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling 110 the world unto Himself, . . . and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation 111   We pray in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God."

Eph. 2:16. - "That He might reconcile [18]  both" (Jew and Gentile) "unto God in one body by the cross."

Col. 1:20, 21. - "Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile 112 all things unto Himself: by Him, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven. And you that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled 112 in the body of His flesh through death."

This word translated "reconcile" means, first, to change one thing for another; and, secondly, as here, to change a person from enmity to friendship. The question at once suggests itself, On which side is the change? Is it in God’s attitude towards the creature, or in the creature’s attitude towards God? Does the creature receive God into his favour, or is it God Who receives the creature? The mere statement of the question seems to prejudge the answer.  In a case like this there is no safer clue to the meaning of any word in the New Testament than its use in the Septuagint. Dean Alford quotes the following as the places where it occurs:

Jer. 31:(48) 39 (a mistranslation).

2 Macc. 1:5, "God . . - hear your prayers and be reconciled unto you ;" 7:33, "Though the living Lord be angry with us . . . yet shall He be reconciled unto His servants" ; 8:29, "They besought the merciful Lord to be reconciled unto His servants for ever."

As regards the noun (καταλλαγ), Archbishop Trench[19] says it only occurs twice in the Septuagint, and in one of these passages it means simply exchange.  In the other passage, 2 Macc. 5:20, "it is employed in the New Testament sense." There the writer says, speaking of the Temple, "As it was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty, so again, on the reconciliation of time great Lord, it was set up with all glory." Dr. Trench goes on to say that the Christian reconciliation is, first, "a reconciliation effected once for all for us by Christ upon His cross; " though it is, "secondly and subordinately," "the daily deposition under the operation of the Holy Spirit of the enmity of the old man toward God." And the writer adds, "All attempt to make this, the secondary meaning of the word, to be the primary, rests not on an unprejudiced exegesis, but on a foregone determination to get rid of the reality of God’s anger against sin." These are weighty words, of special moment here.

In all these passages from the Septuagint reconciliation is from God to man; and if with the light they give we turn back to the scriptures above set forth, this same conclusion will be established. "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son."  On conversion the sinner did not produce, he only "received the reconciliation." Is it not clear as light that it is this accomplished reconciliation which has dethroned sin and ushered in the reign of grace?

The next passage is still more unmistakable. The setting aside of Israel was "the reconciliation of the world."[20] When Israel rejected Messiah, God set the nation aside and turned toward the world. Again, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." "It is not a present work, but a work past and finished. By that death we who were enemies were reconciled. The appeal of the Gospel is now that men would receive the reconciliation. ‘Be reconciled to God’ is not an entreaty to time sinner to forgive his God, but an appeal to him to come within the reconciliation God has wrought.[21]

All this leads unmistakably to the conclusion that "the reconciliation of all things" is not a hope to be fulfilled in the coming eternity, but a fact accomplished in the death of Christ. It is impossible that the way of life ever can become more free than that death has made it; and if men refuse the proffered mercy, if they reject the reconciliation, what alternative can there be but wrath?

John 1:29

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." - The only question we have to consider here is whether the record of this utterance of the Baptist is to be taken as a doctrinal statement proving universal expiation. It is unnecessary, therefore, to discuss the views of rival commentators upon the text, especially as, apart from controversy, no one probably would question its reference to Isaiah 53:6, 7, which again contains an allusion to the "scapegoat" of Lev. 16:21, It is as though the Baptist had exclaimed, "Behold Him Who is the fulfilment of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah." It was a testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus; and it is unwarrantable to read it as though it were designed to settle in advance the controversy between the Calvinist and the Universalist. The one, no doubt, is bound to reconcile the words with his narrow views of redemption, and the other must account for the fact of judgment to come, consistently with universal expiation. But they who refuse to take either side in that controversy will be content to mark that while the work of Christ has a relation to the world[22], it has not brought the world deliverance from judgment. The question here involved is not the duration of future punishment, but whether future punishment is possible at all.[23]

1 John 2:2

"And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world." - The apparent difficulty of this passage depends in part on carelessness in reading it, and in part upon ignoring the teaching of the type on which such statements in the New Testament are based. This word λασμς occurs again in 1 John 4:10, and nowhere else in the New Testament.  Dean Alford refers to the following passages where it is used in the Septuagint - viz. Num. 5:8, Psalm 129:4, and Ezek. 44:27.  It expresses not what Christ accomplished through His death on the cross, but what He is in virtue of that death. The former is καταλλαγ (see p .81, ante) the latter is λασμς. The kindred word λαστριον also occurs twice - viz., Rom. 3:25 (propitiation), and Heb. 9:5 (mercy seat) and the verb is likewise used in two passages - Luke 18:13 (be merciful), and Heb. 2:17 (to make reconciliation for). Grace is reigning. But if the grant of pardon were compulsory with God, or if it were impossible, grace would be in bondage. Because Christ is the propitiation for the whole world, God can have mercy upon whom He will; but to assert that His death renders judgment and punishment for sin unrighteous and impossible, is a wanton denial of Scripture. And if, in fact, there be "wrath to come," the duration of that wrath may be infinite as far as this passage is concerned.

1 Timothy 2:4,6; 4:10

God "will have all men to be saved." Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all." God "is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."

The exposition of previous passages renders it almost unnecessary to say anything about these. Judgment and hell are facts which all admit. Whatever these verses mean, therefore, they are consistent with the perdition of the ungodly. If Christ were not a ransom for all, there would be those on earth whom God could not save. Grace, therefore, would be in chains, and not enthroned. This word ransom (ντλυτρον) occurs here only. The kindred word λτρον is used in Matt. 20:28 and Mark 10:45.

The 4th verse, as it reads in the English, may mean either that God intends to save all men, or else that He is willing that all should be saved. There is no such ambiguity in the Greek, "The Lord is - not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God has revealed Himself as "the Saviour of all men"? But if He be in the same sense the Saviour of all, what possible meaning can there be in the words of limitation, "specially of those that believe." As it has been well put, As far as salvation stands in Him, He is the Saviour of all men; but it is only in those who believe that the salvation becomes actual.

Matthew 5:26

"Thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." - As Dean Alford remarks, "These words, which in the earthly example imply future liberation, because an earthly debt can be paid in most cases, so in the spiritual counterpart amount to a negation of it, because the debt can never be discharged." Indeed, the use of this text in support of universalism only betokens the weakness of the cause; for imprisonment for debt is the basis of the parable, and this necessarily implies discharge when the debt is paid. The only possible way in which the idea of discharge on payment could be negatived would be by fixing the debt at a sum entirely beyond the power of any man to pay. And this is precisely what the Lord has done in the kindred passage, Matt. 18:24. There, again, the debtor was committed "till he should pay all that was due"; but the sum due was so enormous that payment was impossible. If the 10,000 talents were of gold, the amount was fabulous. But even if of silver, the mention of such an amount would have impressed, and was clearly intended to impress, the hearers with the idea of hopeless ruin. It was the sum at which Haman reckoned the revenue derivable from the destruction of the entire Jewish people (Esther 3:9).

John 3:17, 12:32

"God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." - This may express either the desire that all may be saved, or the intention that all shall be saved. Does the context leave it doubtful which is meant? The preceding verse expressly limits the actual blessing to the believer; and the verse which follows declares in the plainest terms not merely that the rejecter of Christ shall be condemned - which is the antithesis of being saved, - but that "he is condemned already." And the chapter closes with the words, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." The use made of the passage, therefore, to prove universalism can only avail to suggest the sad inquiry whether any honesty is to be looked for in religious controversy. [24]

The last passage which claims attention is the record of words spoken by the Blessed Lord shortly before His crucifixion, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me." "This He said" (the universalist declares) "signifying that all men are ultimately to be saved." "This He said" (the inspired evangelist adds) "signifying what death He should die." The statement, in fact, has no bearing on the controversy. In the days of His humiliation the Lord declared that no one could come to Him unless drawn by the Father Who had sent Him: in view of His cross He announced the time was coming when He would draw all to Himself. But the question before us now is the future of those who resist the influence; and on this the testimony of Scripture is given in no doubtful terms.

CONCLUSION

The list of texts given by the author first quoted in these pages is swelled by several from the Old Testament. Most of these fall within the general remarks made at pp. 36 - 36 supra, the exceptions being passages which the reader will study in vain to discover how they bear upon the question at all.[25] Indeed, this writer’s appeal to Scripture is an enigma, considering that he distinctly repudiates belief in universalism.

There are many other passages, of course, freely used by universalists, which have not been noticed here. Romans 11:26 is an example. "All Israel shall be saved." This means either that every Israelite, from Patriarchal times to the end of the world, will ultimately be saved or else that in days to come Israel as a nation shall be saved. Can any one doubt which is the true interpretation? In the context it is expressly stated that in the Divine intention Israel does not embrace every Israelite (9:6); and this same apostle’s testimony to the Jews included a warning that perdition was the doom of despisers (Acts 13:41).

As a typical instance of passages which are not quoted by writers of this school may be cited Luke 13:23-8. "Said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able." When will that be? He goes on to explain that the day is coming when the door which now stands open shall be closed, and then the sinner will knock at it in vain. At the very epoch when, these teachers tell us, the door will be flung open for all, the Lord Himself declares it will be closed even against those who seek an entrance.



[1] ποκατστασις

[4] “Our Lord speaks here plainly in the future, and uses the very word of the prophecy (Mal. 4:6).  The double allusion is only the assertion that the Elias (in spirit and power) who foreran our Lord’s first coming was a partial fulfillment of the great prophecy which announces the real Elias.” – Alford, on Matt. 17:11.

[5] The Authorised Version fails to give the meaning of the original.

 

[6] Alford, in loco.

[7] Compare ver. 23 with what goes before.

[8] I pass by the special questions which might be raised as to whether death be in fact the lot of all.  It certainly is not, as ver. 51 expressly states.

[9] The passage might, no doubt, be read that just as the sin of Adam, if left to work out its results unhindered, would lead to the perdition of all men, so , on the same principle, the death of Christ would lead to their salvation.  But this would not advance the argument the least, and it is not pretended that it is the meaning of the passage.

[10] Is it certain that ποκτω τς γς is equivalent to the καταχθνιος of Phil. 2:10?  The latter is a classic term for hades;  the former is used by the LXX. in Exod. 20:4 (“the water under the earth”).  Why should hades be brought in between the earth and the sea?

[11] The words in square brackets are not expressed in the original.

[12] “The death of Christ viewed as the acme of His obedience.”  See Alford on Phil. 2:8

[13] If any should shrink from the use of the word “justification” in respect of any but the saved, will they consider what other word would convey the truth involved?  Forgiveness would be a faulty substitute, and clearly inaccurate, and with God immunity from punishment assumes the absence of guilt.

[14] See p. 78 ante.

[15] τ πντα : Gen. 1:31 (LXX)

[16] καταλλσσω

[17] καταλλαγ

[18] ποκαταλλσσω

[19] Synonyms (second series)

[20] The A.V., in translating the word by a verb, suggests a gradual reconciling; but this is misleading.

[21] The Gospel and its Ministry, p. 259

[22] See p. 37 ante.

[23] Having learned to trust the absolute accuracy of Scripture, I have no doubt there is a designed distinction between “the sin of the world” and “the sins of the world.”  But as I do not pretend to write a commentary on these passages, the above exposition is carried no further than the subject requires.  Let it not be forgotten that they who deny the verbal inspiration of Scripture are merely quibbling when they rely on any such statement as the Baptist’s to prove anything.

[24] The above remarks apply also to John 12:47, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”

[25] The following is the list: -- Gen. 3:15, 12:3; Psalm 103:9, 139:8; Lam. 3:31-3; Isa. 57:16, 45:21, 49:9, 53:11; Hos. 6:1, 14:4; Micah 7:18, 19