The Covenant of Grace and Baptism

Posted in 2013: As I work through Durham’s commentary on Revelation I am reminded over and over about the covenant. When I picked up this work I expected to find a fairly standard commentary except for the classic Post Mil Historicist point of view, but I find it is often devotional and always deeply theological. Durham never fails to open up the scriptures with detailed notes and exegesis well before offering any interpretation of prophecy. This has caused me to revisit and think deeply about Baptist covenant theology, what it means to be a Baptist and is it Biblical. While meditating upon this subject I was reminded of the work quoted below and wanted to share.

A selection from the work of Thomas Patient published in 1654 on the subject of the new covenant of grace and its relation to the ordinance of baptism.

The New Covenant Is Not Entailed Upon Any Fleshly Linebaptism

This New Covenant was never entailed upon any fleshly line or generation as the Covenant of Circumcision was, but was confirmed of God in Christ, and to such souls only in Christ. This you find in the promise to Abraham, Gen. 12:3. “In thee shall all the Nations of the earth be blessed.”

Here you may observe that there is no respect of persons in the matter of these blessings to everlasting life. All Nations in Christ, one Nation as well as another, if in Christ, have those blessings promised to them. This much is employed in that promise that all nations out of Him are accursed.

What Is Meant by the Blessedness Promised to Abraham and His Seed

God here directs His speech to Abraham (some may say) it is true, but with respect to Christ now, Who, as touching the flesh, was then in his loins. This blessedness or justification of life which was confirmed in Abraham as a Father of all Nations, is by the Apostle Paul called the Gospel, Gal. 3:8. The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Heathen through Faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham. As it is written, “In thee shall all the Nations of the Earth be blessed:” so this blessedness spoken of in Gen. 12:3 is expounded by Paul, to be justification by faith in Christ, and in Acts 3, this blessedness is there expounded to be a turning of every one of them from their iniquities, Acts 3:26.

The Covenant of Grace in Genesis 15:5

Also, this Gospel promise or covenant is spoken of in Gen. 15:5. Here God bids Abraham look up to the Heavens and if he could number the stars of heaven and the sands upon the seashore, so shall thy seed be. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. This promise is quoted by the apostle Paul as the Gospel Covenant in Rom. 4:3 in opposition to the Covenant of Circumcision entailed upon the flesh or fleshly line of Abraham. Circumcision was a covenant in the flesh as the Apostle calls it, which he also expounds in the 1st and 2nd verses, to be a Covenant of Works. More of that hereafter. Only that which I would observe at present is, that the Apostle confirms that Gospel promise in Gen. 12:3 and Gen. 15:5 to be the New Covenant, wherein was given, through faith, the justification of life, excluding in this point the Covenant of Circumcision, called Works, Rom. 4:1,2.

Both Covenants Were Made With Abraham

Both these covenants are made with Abraham in Gen. 17. Here you find the New Covenant made with him to verse 6. From the 7th verse to the 14th the Covenant of Circumcision in the flesh is revealed to him. The New Covenant is expressed in the third verse. Here He says, “As for Me My covenant shall be with thee, and thou shalt be a Father of many nations, or of a multitude of nations, and thy name shall be no more called Abram but Abraham, for a Father of a multitude of nations have I made thee.” This is, by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:17,18, held out to be the Covenant of Life. He does clearly hold the Covenant of Life distinct and different from the Covenant of Circumcision. In that place he denies that Abraham or his spiritual seed, had their justification in the Covenant of Circumcision. He brings in this, that Abraham should be a Father of many nations, “and so shall thy seed be,” as that in which Abraham and his spiritual seed, whether of Jews or Gentiles, were and should be justified.

Genesis 18:18

This promise or Covenant is made with Abraham in Gen. 18:18. “In thee shall all the Nations of the earth be blessed.” So long as Christ was, according to the flesh, in Abraham’s loins, the promise runs thus, “in thee,” meaning that through Christ, which then was in Him, should all nations of the earth be blessed.

The Seed in Isaac

But as soon as Isaac was come out of Abraham’s loins, Gen. 22:18, then He says, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed:” whereby seed, most strictly is to be understood of Christ, as the Apostle Paul intimates in Gal. 3:16 where he expounds this word seed, to be not seeds, as of many, but seed as of one which is Christ. So this blessedness in the Seed, Christ, is here expounded to be God’s confirming His Covenant in Christ. Note that this blessedness which David holds out to be the Covenant confirmed of God in Christ, was not entailed upon the flesh of Abraham and his fleshly seed, but made in Abraham as a Father of all the Spiritual Seed in all nations. It was confirmed in the seed, Christ, to all nations.

Here the Jews, after the flesh, have no more interest than any other nation, except it be by faith. Faith only unites to this seed and gives an in-being in the same.

The Elect Were Blessed and the Rest Were Hardened

This blessedness is expounded by David in Psalm 32, last verse, to lie in remission of sins and purgation of the heart from guile and expounded by the Apostle in Acts 3, last verse, “to be a turning every one from his iniquities.” There Peter expounds this blessedness which was confirmed in Abraham and his seed. Though Christ did fulfill this Covenant to the Elect of the Jews, the rest were hardened. They were never in this sense blessed, either in the point of justification or purgation from sin, because they were never in Christ, the true seed, by faith, nor were they ever the spiritual seed of Abraham, walking in the steps of his faith as all his spiritual seed did, Rom. 4:12 and Gal. 3:29. “If you be in Christ, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Abraham and His Spiritual Seed in Christ Are Those in the Covenant of Grace

I have showed you from the clear light of Scripture that there were two covenants, a Covenant of Grace, and a Covenant of Works. The Covenant of Grace belongs to Abraham and his spiritual seed in Christ. All along from Adam to all the spiritual seed of the Woman, there are those who were born of promise as the Apostle describes the spiritual seed in Rom. 9:8. He says, “such are accounted the seed, that are so born of promise.” So at this day all nations, both Jews and Gentiles who are born again, are the seed and children. They only have an interest in the promise of salvation.

THE Doctrine of Baptism, AND THE Distinction of the COVENANTS; OR A Plain Christian Treatise, explaining the Doctrine of Baptism, and the two Covenants made with Abraham, and his two-fold Seed.

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Public Prayer

by WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602)billyperkins

We have been considering the preaching of the Word. Now, finally, something should be said about leading in public prayer. This is the second aspect of prophesying. In it the minister is the voice of the people in calling upon God (1 Sam. 14:24; Luke 11:1).

In this connection we should note the following points:

1. The subject of public prayer should be, first, the deficiencies and sins of the people, and then the graces of God and the blessings they stand in need of (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Tertullian says, ‘We do all pray for all emperors, that they may obtain a long life, a quiet reign, a safe family, courageous armies, a faithful council, loyal subjects, a peaceable world, and whatsoever things are desired of a man and of Caesar.’ Again, ‘We pray for emperors for their ministers and powers, for the state of the time, for the quietness of their affairs, and for the delaying of their death.’ The Lord’s Prayer covers these areas under six headings: God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our obedience, the preservation of life, the forgiveness of sins, and the strengthening of the spirit.

2. The form of prayer should be as follows: One voice, that of the minister alone, should lead in prayer, the congregation joining in silently but indicating their agreement at the end by saying, ‘Amen’ (Neh. 8:6; Acts 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:16). This was the practice in the early church, as Justin says: ‘When the president has finished his prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present cry out with a favourable approbation, saying, Amen.’

3. But the one voice which expresses the corporate prayers of the congregation needs to be understood (1 Cor. 14:15). It should not lead in prayer in a jagged and abrupt fashion, but with a steady flow of petitions, so that empty repetitions are avoided (Matt. 6:7).

4. There are three elements in praying: (i) Carefully thinking about the appropriate content for prayer; (ii) Setting the themes in an appropriate order; (iii) Expressing the prayer so that it is made in public in a way that is edifying for the congregation.

To the Triune God be the glory!

Impassibility

Impassibility (from Latin in-, “not”, passibilis, “able to suffer, experience emotion”) describes the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being. – Wiki

Sermons on the subject here.

Okefenokee Sacred Harp Singing

fasola

A fan of traditional Sacred Harp?

This essay explores “Hoboken-style” Sacred Harp singing of the Okefenokee region of southeast Georgia and northeast Florida. It considers the history of this tradition, distinctive characteristics of this variant of Sacred Harp, and how “Hoboken-style” leaders have negotiated rapid change while maintaining core values of memory, legacy, and spiritual meaning. Sacred Harp singing in the Okefenokee dates to the mid-1800s, but, remarkably, local singers rarely sang with outsiders until the 1990s. Two important sound recordings from Florida Folk Festivals (1958 and 2000) serve as sonic benchmarks and as points of analytic departure for understanding the recent hybridization of Hoboken-style singing.

Check out the rest here. Complete with audio samples.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

1689 Federalism compared to Westminster Federalism

“What is the nature of the federal union of an unregenerate person in the covenant of grace to Jesus Christ, and do they remain under Adam’s federal headship in spite of being in the covenant of grace (?) which is to say, can you be in the covenant of works and the covenant of grace at the same time? We would assert that you cannot.”

EVANjellyFISH: The Creedless Christian

B. H. Carroll:
carroll
“…I want to say first of all is that it is a time that men speak disparagingly of creeds. You hear it on every side, ‘I believe in religion but I don’t care anything about theology. I love flowers but I don’t care anything for botany. Let’s have a religion without any dogma.’ Men take great credit to themselves in these utterances that they are free from the enslavement to dogmas. You must not take these people too seriously. They either don’t know what they are talking about, or else know what they say is utterly unworthy of human respect. There never was a man in the world without a creed.”

One example of how a creed or confession finds its foundation in scripture:

“…from the 8th chapter of Romans and the 34th verse. I am showing you how creeds start and confessions of faith start and how absolutely impossible it is to make light of them. Thus says Paul, ‘Who will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,’ (now comes the statement of the creed): ‘yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’

Now there is a creed. That creed contains four elements:
(1) Christ died;
(2) Christ rose;
(3) Christ exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high;
(4) Up there Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us.

What is the value of that creed? By that creed, accepted in the heart and confessed with the lips, the man who so accepts and confesses is immune from any charge that angel or devil or man can make against him: ‘Who shall lay any charge to God’s elect?’

Now you just might as well proclaim yourself a simpering idiot as to stand there opposing those four things and say, ‘Oh, let’s not have any dogmas, creeds and confessions of faith; let’s have religion.’ How can you have a creedless religion? You had just as well adopt as your god a jelly-fish floated up on the beach, that has no backbone, merely a pulpy mass, as to say, ‘I want a religion without a creed.’ A man cannot have a religion without a creed and the religion he does have is not worth anything unless it is avowed. The avowal of it is a confession of faith. Now Spurgeon in his great sermon on the text I have just read called these four doctrines the four pillars of salvation. On top of these four pillars the superstructure is erected. If you pull down the pillars you pull down that which rests upon the pillars. If you take away the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the enthronement of Christ or the intercession of Christ, the house of salvation falls.

Notice again the practical effects of it. In this same 8th chapter of Romans:

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Nay, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

If my creed was some inarticulate thing, if it was nebulous like a spray of star dust in the skies, or if it was shifting like the change of the shapes of floating clouds, or if it was traceless like the track of a serpent across a rock or the flight of an eagle through the air, I never could say, ‘I am persuaded.’ The persuasion takes possession of my heart and of my soul that no power above nor below, no distress, no famine, no peril, no nakedness, no spirit, no devil, no future, no past shall ever be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A man without a creed cannot have that persuasion.”

source

Of dealing with Hereticks and Blasphemers

pleading1Keach,

As touching Hereticks or Heresy, the same Censure, when they are convicted, ought to pass against them; Heresy is commonly restrained to signify any perverse Opinion or Error in a fundamental Point of Religion, as to deny the Being of God, or the Deity of Christ, or his Satisfaction, and Justification alone by his Righteousness, or to deny the Resurrection of the Body, or eternal Judgment, or the like. Yet our Annotators say, the Word signifies the same thing with Schism and Divisions; which if so, such that are guilty of Schism or Divisions in the Church, ought to be excommunicated also. Heresies are called Damnable by the Apostle Peter; without Repentance such cannot be saved, as bring in Damnable Heresies, denying the Lord that bought them.

Two things render a Man an Heretick according to the common signification of the Word.

1. An Error in matters of Faith, Fundamental or Essential to Salvation.

2. Stubbornness and Contumacy in holding and maintaining it. A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition reject. Now that this Rejection is all one with Excommunication, appears by what Paul speaks, I Tim. I. 20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to Blaspheme.

Their Heresy, or Blasphemy was in saying the Resurrection was past.

Some would have none be counted an Heretick but he who is convicted and conde mned so to be in his own Conscience, mistaking Paul’s Words, Knowing t hat he that is such, is subverted, being condemned of himself. He may be con demned of himself, tho not for his Heresy, yet for his spending his Time about Questions, and strife of Words, to the disquieting the Peace of the Church ; or tho not condemned of himself directly, yet indirectly; according to the Purport of his own Notion, or what he grants about the Point in Debate, &c. Else the Apostle refers to some notable and notorious self-condemned Heretick. It is a great question, whether Hymeneus and Alexander were condemned in their own Consciences, about that Heresy charged upon them, and yet were delivered up to Satan. However the Rule is plain, respecting any that are subverted, and resolutely maintain any Heretical Notion, i.e. after he hath been twice (or oftner) admonished, that is, after all due means used, and pains taken with him, to convince him of his abominable Error; and yet if he remains obstinate, he must be delivered up to Satan; that is, the righteous censure of the Church must pass upon him, as in the case of other notorious Crimes. Heresy is a Work of the Flesh: and hence some conceive such ought to be punished by the Civil Magistrate.

The Glory of a True Church — Keach | Founders

Honey Out of the Rock

Let sin break your heart, but not your hope in the gospel. – Thomas Wilcox

…just wanted to draw your attention to a short, free epub written by Thomas Wilcox found on Monergism Books.

psalm

A short Biography provided by Monergism.com:

Thomas Wilcox was born in August, 1621 at Lyndon, Rutland, and probably was well educated. He was a Particular Baptist elder of a small congregation, which met at his house in London before the Plague. In those days of persecution, he was known for moderation, and preached frequently among the Presbyterians and independents. He was imprisoned in Newgate more than once, and suffered much for the sake of Nonconformity. After 1665, he pastored a Particular Baptist church, whose meeting-house was a small wooden building in Three Cranes Alley, Tooley Street in the Borough of Southwark. He labored lovingly, with pen as well as tongue, until his death on May 17, 1687 at the age of 65, leaving a widow and three children.

Wilcox’s well-known tract, “A Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ,” often reprinted, and also translated, was much used of God. In the early 18th century there lived in central Finland a farmer named Paavo Ruotsalainen; here in the wilderness of Savo he had no other schooling apart from attending confirmation classes, but he loved reading, and in his early years was given a Bible, a very rare gift in those days; he had read it through three times by the time he was sixteen. For a long time he was unable to find peace for his soul, so much so that his family feared for his mind. Then Willcox ’s tract came his way,and showed him the one thing needful. Also he heard of a smith who might help him, and having found him, he was given the news that Christ would make himself known to him, a needy sinner; and it was but a short time before the Lord granted peace.

Soon we find that Ruotsalainen was going about preaching; it is estimated that if all of his journeys were added together,it would amount to a voyage around the world, and all the time he was a farmer needing to attend to his fields, and making most journeys by foot. He found that communion with Christ is not only made a reality to those alone who recognize their own wretchedness, but also that only by the same acknowledgement can this communion be maintained. For many, the sweet sensations of forgiveness are experienced solely in the early stages of conversion. One of his much quoted statements goes like this: “You started on your way with honey, but now have pitch and tar for food.” He feared a false security based on a dead faith. Only in the school of the cross is grace given; only the re, is the Christian assured of his salvation.

In his old well-thumbed Bible, preserved in Aholans aari, the farm in Nilsia where he spent the last years of his life, he had someone write the following words: “In this book lies the secret and kernel of the whole of life, and no one, neither the good nor the clever, can know or understand this great and precious secret, when his eyes have not been opened to his own wretchedness.” Taught thus by the Lord, he thought deeply and knew well what was in the heart of man. He became the Huntington of Finland. Many valued his counsel, and he saw the Lord raise up a generation of preachers, and many communities of the Lord’s people gathered as a result of his ministry; and so much stemmed in the first place, under God’s blessing to the reading of “A Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ.” We now send forth his tract, which was recommend ed by William Romaine in his day, desiring the Lord’s rich blessing upon it. [end quote]

A few pithy quotes:

“Apply what you will besides the blood of Christ, it will poison the sore.”

“All temptations, Satan’s advantages, and our complainings, are laid in self-righteousness, and self-excellency.”

“Whatever comes in when you go to God for acceptance, besides Christ, call it anti-Christ; bid it begone…”

“Christ alone did tread the winepress, and there was none with Him, Isa. 63:3”

“You complain much of yourself. Does your sin make you look more at Christ, less at yourself? That is right, or else complaining is but hypocrisy.”

“In all your temptations be not discouraged Jam1:2.Those surges may be not to break you but to heave you off yourself upon theRock Christ.”

“…Christ is our temple, sacrifice, altar, high priest, to whom none must come but sinners, and that without any offering, but His own blood once offered, Hebrews 7:27.”

“When you mourn for sin, if you do not see Christ then, away with it, Zech. 12:10.”

Hanserd Knollys – Revelation 2

It is difficult to select just a few quotations because the work is worth reading in its entirety. May this offer lure you in, where you can sit at the feet of this able commentator.

knollysrev

Rev. 2.1

The angel of this church, and the angels of the other six Asian Churches, were not of the holy elect celestial angels of God, those ministering spirits, (Heb 1:14) nor was this angel any one of the apostles of Christ, though there were some in this church at that time, who said they were apostles, but were not, as appears from Re 2:2. Nor was this angel any one individual man or minister, that had the superintendence over, or precedence above all the other ministers in this church, as being the Apostle John’s delegate or substitute in his absence; for we read not of any such in this prophecy of the Revelation. But by Angel in this and all the other epistles written to the seven churches in Asia, we are to understand the episcopacy, presbytery, and ministry in each particular church, unto whom the charge, oversight, care and government thereof was committed by the Holy Spirit

By holding ministers “in his right hand” is signifying Christ’s powerful and gracious protection over them for their safety and preservation: (see Re 1:16)…the powers of this world would soon cast down those stars from the ecclesiastical heaven, silence the ministers of the gospel, and exile them, and persecute them even unto death; as the Roman, pagan emperors did, and as the Roman powers and prelates did, when God suffered then so to do, but Christ hath these “Stars in his right hand” and none can pull them out of his hand: And when Christ sets before his faithful ministers an open door, none can shut it. (Re 3:7,8)

Rev. 2.2:

It is the duty of the ministers and members of Christ in the churches of saints, to exercise patience in all their trials of affliction and persecution.

Christ commended this church, her ministers or members, who would not bear with, nor forbear those ministers or members among them “that were evil,” that is to say, who were corrupted by evil manners, or wicked opinions, whereby others might be leavened and corrupted by their false doctrines or sinful practices; but did exercise the authority and power which the church had received from Christ; first, in admonishing them. Secondly, in withdrawing from them; and thirdly, in excommunicating them, according to the laws of Christ recorded. (2Th 3:6,15 Tit 3:10,11 1Co 5:4,5,12,13)

Rev. 2.3:

Christ’s faithful ministers, and sanctified members, are preserved from fainting under all their tribulations and burdens, which they suffer patiently in the course of their ministry, and in the way of Christianity. (2Co 1:8-10,15,16)

That which keeps them from fainting, is, first, the serious consideration of the contradictions of sinners, which Christ himself suffered. (Heb 12:3) Secondly, an open vision and spiritual fight of unseen glory. (2Co 4:18) Thirdly, That Divine Power, which God in Christ by the Holy Spirit doth suitably and seasonably communicate unto them. (Col 1:11 Isa 40:28,29,30,31)

Rev. 2.5:

To repent is to sorrow after a godly manner, as they did, {2Co 7:9,10,11} which worketh repentance to salvation: And to implies a performing with zeal and confidence those duties of love to Christ and his saints etc. which this church, her ministers and members did at their first conversion, and in the day of their first espousals.

A true, visible, constituted, particular church of Christ may sin away their church estate by their iniquity and impenitency. (Ho 2 1,2,3,4,5 Re 3:16) And a church of Christ may become a synagogue of Satan, God hath removed those and other golden candlesticks out of their places, for their impenitency added unto their Transgressions.

Rev. 2.7:

The Holy Spirit is not limited unto the preaching of the word; but he also speaketh and teacheth in the reading of the Holy Scriptures. So then, the Holy Scriptures ought to be read in the churches of saints.

“to him that overcometh” a metaphor taken from the athletes, who strive for victory by running or fighting, (1Co 9:26,27) that is to say, to every one that getteth the victory over all his soul enemies, his spiritual antagonists, to with, the world, (1Jo 5:4,5) the beast, (Re 15:2) Satan (1Jo 2:13,14) and sin. (Ro 12:21) That tree of life is Jesus Christ, (Re 22:2,14) who was typed out by that material tree of life in the Garden of Eden. (Ge 3:22,24) This spiritual tree of eternal life, yields all manner of fruit that is good for our soul’s food. (Joh 6:57)

Rev. 2.9:

By “tribulation” here, we may understand either their outward afflictions and persecutions, which they had or should endure, which Christ took notice of, (2Th 1:6) or their inward griefs and sorrows, their troubles of soul, (Ps 88:4 143:11) which Christ also looks upon, (Ps 102:2,17,19,20,21) and by “poverty” here we may understand the low and poor condition this church was in at this time in respect of temporal things, the wants and straits that some of her ministers or members were in, the church not having wherewith to supply them, which was the condition of the church at Jerusalem and the churches in Judea in the apostles days; Read 1Co 16:1,2,3 and 2Co 8:3,4,6,13,14,15. Though Christ knew her outward poverty, yet he acknowledged her spiritual riches; which God knows is the state and condition of very many of his precious saints in this world, (Jas 2:5) rich in spirituals, rich in grace, rich in faith, rich in good works, etc. but poor in temporals.

blasphemy, doth signify any evil works or speeches uttered against men with calumniation of their persons, or contumely of their gods; sacred writers, and the penmen of the Holy Scriptures do use this Greek word for any injurious, opprobrious, envious or slanderous words uttered by ungodly men, to the reproach of God, (Re 13:6) his Son Jesus Christ, (Ac 26:11) his name, (Ro 2:24) his written word, (Tit 2:5) his doctrine, (1Ti 6:1) his ministers, (1Co 4:13) his churches, (Re 13:6) or his saints. (Jas 2:7 1Pe 4:4)

“But are the synagogue of Satan” It is likely the Jews had a synagogue in this city of Smyrna, where they worshipped God according to the Mosaical administrations, mixed with the traditions of their fathers, which Christ testified against as vain and false worship,

The time when the churches, ministers, or saints shall suffer persecution and imprisonment, or any other kind of “tribulation” is appointed of God, and ordered and measured out by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev. 2.14:

You may read the doctrine of Balaam, Nu 31:16 to wit, the wicked counsel he gave to the Midianitish women, which occasioned the people of Israel to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and to commit idolatry also etc., (Nu 25:1,2,3) for which wicked counsel Balaam was killed. (Nu 31:8) And Moses was wroth with the commanders and captains of the host of Israel, because they saved those Midianitish women alive who followed Balaam’s counsel, and caused them to be put to death. (Nu 31:14,15,16,17) Some teachers in this church, by their false doctrines and opinions, did (like Balaam) “cast a stumbling block” before the members of this church, which became a sin and a snare unto them, as Balaam’s doctrine and counsel did unto the people of Israel.

Rev. 2.15:

Touching “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,” and their deeds, See KNOLLYS on “Re 2:6”. It’s probable their doctrine allowed of spiritual and corporal whoredom, both which Christ hateth; and that which Christ chargeth upon this church and her angel, as their sin, which he was offended with them for, was because they were suffered in the, and not cast out, and put away as wicked and ungodly persons. It is a sinful fault in any church to suffer those ministers or members to continue in their society, and to have communion with them who teach such doctrines, or practice such deeds as Christ hateth.

Rev. 2.17:

There was among the Romans a two-fold use of “a white stone.” First, he that was victor, and overcame in their Olympic games and wrestlings, had “a white stone” given him, which he did bear as a badge of honor and victory. Secondly, he that being accused of any crime in their civil courts and judicatories was found innocent, and so was acquitted of that crime, had “a white stone” given to him as a sign of absolution: Both these uses of the “white stone” will fitly quadrate with Christ’s act of grace here, where Christ doth promise “him that overcometh” by wrestling against sin and Satan, (Eph 6:11,12) that he will give him a crown of glory, (2Ti 4:7,8) and also a full and open absolution before men and angels at the day of judgment. (Re 20:11,12)

Rev. 2.20:

“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee,” etc. Christ in this verse, and in the three following verses, doth reprove this church and her ministers for suffering corrupt and false doctrine to be preached amongst them, whereby his servants were seduced, that is, drawn away from the truth, and led into errors both of judgment and in conversation. See Exposition on Re 2:14 2:15.

“to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols,” which was the doctrine of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans, and their deeds also which Christ hated and here reproved sharply; which opinion I rather cleave unto, because that false teachers and false prophets in the church of Rome are called a woman, and the great whore. {Re 17:1,3,5,7 19:20}

Rev. 2.23:

And I will kill her children with death, etc.

“Her children” were the children of whoredoms, begotten by corrupt doctrine, and in the sense, born of fornications; not that there was such a woman in the church, not that these “her children” were begotten by corporal fornication: But as the mother is a mystical woman, so “her children” are those that she seduced by her doctrine to commit fornication. And by children here, we are to understand some members of this church, who being seduced by Jezebel’s doctrine, did commit fornication, that is, both spiritual and corporal whoredom, which is called by Christ “their deeds.” As the Nicolaitans had their doctrine and their deeds, so Jezebel had her doctrine and her deeds. By “killing her children with death” is meant, that they shall be destroyed by God’s just and righteous judgments. (Jer 18:21) Therefore deliver up her children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword.

Rev. 2.27:

“And he shall rule them with a rod of iron,” etc.

He, that is Christ, (Ps 2:9) and, he that overcometh by Christ, (Re 2:26) to whom God will give power or kingly dominion over the nations, to wit, Christ and the righteousness, who shall have the dominion in the morning. (Ps 49:14) He shall rule them and govern them with an iron rod, that is to say, according to the laws of God, with the kingly power of Christ, which is signified by his “rod of iron,” (Ps 2:9 Re 19:15) and that kingly power is given unto the saints. (Re 12:5) And she brought forth a Man-Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; which is Christ and his saints, as one mystical Body.