The Great Exchange

The Great Exchange and Forensic Justification in the Early Church Fathers

by Craig Truglia of Orthodox Christian Theology
The Great Exchange

Some Catholics and Eastern Orthodox like to say Martin Luther invented the concept of the “Great Exchange.” The Great Exchange, in short, teaches that Christ bore the punishment for our sins, thus satisfying God’s need for justice, but at the same time credited us Christ’s righteousness.

A graphic representation of what 2 Cor 5:21 amongst other Scriptures teaches about the Great Exchange.

The Scripture is abundantly clear that Chris bore the penalty for our sins:

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed (Is 53:7).

My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities (Is 53:11).

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors (Is 53:12).

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 3:13, 14).

To doubt that Christ bore our iniquities and paid their penalty on the cross, is in my mind, is completely unthinkable. Being that there are Catholic apologists that for whatever reason reject this plain statement of fact, my response to them is that this is not an idea Luther invented.

The Epistle to Diognetus, written in the second century, understood the ramifications of Christ baring the burdens of our sins, if not also crediting us His righteousness:

He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors (Chapter 9)!

The underlined is where we may infer that the Epistle taught the positive imputation of Christ’s righteousness. However, because it is inferred it is not convincing to Catholics or Eastern Orthodox who find it hard to believe that unrighteous men like us can really be credited fully righteous as Christ.

It is not an idea that is explicit in the Scripture. We may infer it from passages that speak of us being “in Christ” and others such as Eph 5:31-32 which speak of the Church’s literal union with Christ. The idea is, if the Church (with its believers) are literally one with Christ, they my be accounted as righteous as Christ upon judgment.

Indeed, this is an interpretative stretch, but one that appears justified by 2 Cor 5:21 which states, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christians are not merely made righteous or credited as righteous in a theoretical sense, but really “become the righteousness” specifically “of God” and not their own, an “alien righteousness.”

Now, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox reject this for legitimate interpretive reasons, but also because of its ramifications. If believers are in union with Christ, and this happens upon faith in Christ, then good works wrought in holiness really do not make one more righteous in any way. Instead, it is Christ’s righteousness that really makes us righteous, not us conforming or doing something in accord with Christlikeness. Hence, we can be really unchristlike, but be accounted fully as righteous as Christ due to our union with Him.

This does not mean that by necessity all Christians achieve equal awards in heaven. The Scripture mitigates against this as does the interpreters of the early church, specifically Jerome in his letters against Jovanian.

However, it does mean that our justification is a completed act because of what Christ done, not an ongoing event. Our union with Christ does not increase in time, rather it gets consummated specifically upon Christ’s second coming.

This is why Protestants teach “Forensic Justification,” which in short means that justification is a completed and not a ongoing act. We simply can point to Scripture that uses the words “believed” and “justified” in the past tense to show that the event already occurred. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox accuse of of preaching a novelty. However, let our argument be based upon the Scripture and not tradition, because we are not the first to traditionally to espouse the idea. Cyril of Jerusalem writes:

Oh the great loving-kindness of God! For the righteous were many years in pleasing Him: but what they succeeded in gaining by many years of well-pleasing , this Jesus now bestows on you in a single hour. For if you shall believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved, and shall be transported into Paradise by Him who brought in there the robber. And doubt not whether it is possible; for He who on this sacred Golgotha saved the robber after one single hour of belief, the same shall save you also on your believing (Catechetical Lecture 5, Chap 10).

Chrysostom concurs in his exegesis of Rom 3:26:

He does also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is declaring, that he has added, That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus. Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God (Homily 7 on Romans).

Now, because all of this seems a great deal more theoretical than the negative imputation of our sins onto Christ, Catholics and Orthodox will accuse us Protestants of coming up with an innovation. I must respectfully disagree.

For one, Augustine interpreted 2 Cor 5:21 as teaching the positive imputation of Christ’s righteousness:

He does not say, as some incorrect copies read, He who knew no sin did sin for us, as if Christ had Himself sinned for our sakes; but he says, Him who knew no sin, that is, Christ, God, to whom we are to be reconciled, has made to be sin for us, that is, has made Him a sacrifice for our sins, by which we might be reconciled to God. He, then, being made sin, just as we are made righteousness (our righteousness being not our own, but God’s, not in ourselves, but in Him); He being made sin, not His own, but ours, not in Himself, but in us, showed, by the likeness of sinful flesh in which He was crucified, that though sin was not in Him, yet that in a certain sense He died to sin, by dying in the flesh which was the likeness of sin; and that although He Himself had never lived the old life of sin, yet by His resurrection He typified our new life springing up out of the old death in sin (Chapter 41, Handbook on Hope, Faith, and Love).

Many Protestant interpreters like to say that Jesus Christ was fully obedient to the letter of the Jewish Law, henceforth fulfilling the Law and its righteous requirements on our behalf. Not all ECFs affirmed this idea, but Athanasius did and he writes specifically that it is this righteousness that is credited to the Church:

It is necessary therefore it is necessary to believe the Holy Scriptures to confess him who is the first fruit of us to celebrate the philanthropy of him who assumed our nature to be struck with wonder at the great dispensation to fear not the curse which is from the Law for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law Hence the full accomplishment of the Law which was made through the first fruit must be imputed to the whole mass (Athan Synops Sacr Script lib vii in Epist ad Rom Oper vol ii p 125, see link here).

Jerome concurs:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us Properly He was not under the curse because in all things He perfectly fulfilled the Law And therefore in the matter of debt our debt has been paid off by his curse so that He should set free from all obligation those who pass over to faith (Comment in Epist ad Galat iii, see link here).

Chrysostom also concurs, stating in his comments on Rom 8:4–

For the righteousness of the Law, that one should not become liable to its curse, Christ has accomplished for you.

Now there is more on the topic, but I think I have shown enough from both the Scriptures to justify Protestant doctrine and tradition to show that our doctrine is not an innovation. In fact, I would say that the burden of proof is on those that would teach that righteousness is infused into a believer and not a completed event:

An eternal rest remains to those who in the present life have wrestled legitimately which rest is given not according to the debt of works in way of just retribution but is bestowed to the grace of an abundantly bountiful God to who have hoped in Him(Basil, Homily on Psalm 104, see link here).

An eternal rest remains. It is a completed state, it is not a state that continues and grows over time. To God, the author and perfecter of our faith, be the glory forever. Amen.

 

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The life of Martin Luther in pictures

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“500 years ago Martin Luther wanted to achieve a just church for everyone but in the process he changed the world. Today the places that played a significant role in his life give insight into the famous reformer’s works.”

View photos here.

 

Five reasons why the law cannot condemn the believer

lawfrom True Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton:

All this the apostle puts plainly: ‘Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died’ (Rom. 8. 34). He sets the death of Christ against all the charges that can be brought. It is evident that the court of the law cannot condemn the believer:

(1) Because that court is itself condemned; its curses, judgments, and sentences are made invalid. As men that are condemned have a tongue but no voice, so the law in this case has still a tongue to accuse, but no power to condemn. It cannot fasten condemnation on the believer.

(2) Because he is not under it as a court. He is not under the law as a covenant of life and death. As he is in Christ, he is under the covenant of grace.

(3) Because he is not subject to its condemnation. He is under its guidance, but not under its curses, under its precepts (though not on the legal condition of ‘Do this and live’), but not under its penalties.

(4) Because Christ, in his place and stead, was condemned by it that he might be freed: ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3. 13). It may condemn sin in us, but cannot condemn us for sin.

(5) Because he has appealed from it. We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced and condemned. But this has no force because he makes his appeal, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18. 13). He flies to Christ, and, says the text, ‘He went down to his house justified’. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy.

Eternal Union & Tobias Crisp

John Gill:john_gill

The only writers, in the times referred to, that I have met with, who assert even union before faith, are Richardson (Answer to Dr. Homes, p. 111-12), and Crisp (Christ Alone Exalted, Vol. I, Sermon VII, p. 104, Vol. III, Sermon VII, p. 597, 599, 600; Sermon VIII p. 609, 614-617), who yet speak not a word of eternal union; neither do they, or the writers above-mentioned, professedly treat of the doctrine of union in any sense, but only take notice of it as it falls in their way. I read their books with greedy expectation of frequently meeting with the doctrine of eternal union, in hopes of finding arguments for the confirmation of it, and of receiving more light into it, which I believe to be an eternal truth. Eternal union was so far from being a subject much insisted on in those times, as you say, that I do not find it was insisted on at all.
As to the notion of sin’s doing a believer no harm, Eaton, Saltmarsh, Simpson, and Town, say nothing of it; nor have they any thing like it, that I have met with, in their writings; and I could easily fill up whole pages with passages out of them in which they express their abhorrence and detestation of sin, and their great regard to a holy life and conversation.

Richardson and Crisp are the only writers, in those times, that I have observed to make use of any expressions of this kind. As for Richardson, he has but one single passage which looks any thing like this notion, that sin does a believer no harm; which is this (Justification by Christ Alone, p. 21): “If all things work together for our good, then, says he, all falls, pains, diseases, crosses, afflictions, &c. do us no hurt, but work for our good; all things work for our good (Rom. 8:28).” And yet this is no more than what many sound divines have said, who never were charged with Antinomianism; when they assert, that all things, even the sins of God’s people, are overruled by a kind and good Providence for their good, as their afflictions and crosses are; and by falls into sin doing no hurt, he means the hurt of punishment, as is evident from the whole of his reasoning and argument in that place. He clearly hints, in many places, at the hurt that comes by sin, with respect to a believer’s peace and comfort, the damage it does to others, and the dishonor it brings to God; “Be afraid to sin, says he (Counsels, p. 98), and use means to prevent it; consider God hath forbidden it (Rom. 6). Consider sin in the nature of it, in the root and fruit of it: it is the price of blood; there is no true sweetness in sin, no contentment no satisfaction in it, why you should desire it? it fills the soul with wounds, sorrow, bitterness, shame; let experience speak.” And, in another place, he says (Counsels, p. 150-51): “We should be afraid to sin, 1. because it is forbidden by God. 2. It is dishonorable to him. 3. It encourageth others to sin. 4. It will fill our souls with sorrow to sin against so loving a Father and to dishonor him, &c. Having sinned, if but in the least measure, we should be so fain from covering it with any pretence or excuse, that we should abhor it, and ourselves for it, with the greatest detestation?” And elsewhere he says (Divine Consolations, p. 245); “Be sure ye allow yourself in no sin, but in the strength of God hate and abhor, with the greatest indignation, all sin, and the appearance of it; it is better to die than to sin. There is that which accompanieth sin, which strikes at a believer’s peace and comfort; it will damp, straiten, and oppress the soul; it will hinder their comfort, joy, and peace in God, unless God doth wonderfully strengthen their faith in him; we find by experience, that sin is a lett to our faith and comfort, it having often unsettled and disquieted us in our peace and comfort, though we ought not to he so.”

Crisp is the only writer that expresses himself freely and largely on this subject:, and with the least guard (Christ Alone Exalted, Vol. I. Sermon X, p. 157; Vol. III. Sermon I, p. 509-14; Sermon II, p. 528-29; Sermon III, p. 46, &c.); and yet when he says, that “believers need not be afraid of their sins, his meaning is not, that they need not be afraid of sins committed, as Hoornbeeck, Witsius, and Chaunecy, have justly observed; and when he says, that “the sins of believers can do them no hurt: by hurt he means, the hurt of punishment, penal evil, or the penal effects of sin which believers are freed from, and therefore shall never enter into a state of condemnation, Christ having bore their sins, and made satisfaction to justice for them; but then he speaks of sin, in its own nature, as odious and dreadful to believer’s, and of bitterness and evil, as the certain fruits of it. The Doctor, I verily believe, used these expressions in a sound sense, and with a good design; not to encourage persons in sin, but to relieve and comfort the minds of believers, distressed with sin; yet, I must confess, I do not like the expressions, but am of opinion they ought to be disused.

And now surely, Sir, this single author’s using of this expression, and that not in the gross and vile sense of it, cannot be sufficient to bear you out, in saying, that sin s doing a believer no harm, was much insisted on in those times: I can hardly think you have any reference to Archer’s book, called Comfort for Believers about their Sin and Troubles; in which the author exhorts believers not to be oppressed and perplexed for their sins: though he acknowledges that godly sorrow and true shame become them, and says, that till they have it, God will not own them. He asserts in so many words, “that we may safely say, that God is, and hath an hand in, and is the author of the sinfulness of his people.” (Horresco referens!) and what is enough to make one shudder at the reading of, he says, that “all the sins which believers are left to, they are through and because of the covenant of grace left to them; and the covenant implies a dispensation of sinning to them, as well as other things:” And adds, “By sins are they as much nurtured and fitted for heaven, as by any thing else.” All which is blasphemous, vile and abominable; and for which if I mistake not, the book was ordered to he burnt by the common hangman. I say, I can hardly think you can have reference to this author; for though he asserts this notion in the grossest sense, and in the vilest manner, yet it unhappily falls out for you, that this man was not for eternal union, but for union by faith; he frequently observes, that faith immediately unites to Christ, and is the bond of union to him, and what brings the Holy Ghost into the soul. If you had this author and his book in your eye, you should rather have said, that “union by faith, and sin’s doing a believer no harm, were much insisted on in those times.” – source

Hanserd Knollys – Revelation 7 & 8

Why go to all this trouble selecting choice quotes and blogging them? To slowly introduce you to Hanserd knollyKnollys’ work a little at a time. Any emphasis was added, thanks.

Rev. 7.1:

This chapter consists of two general parts; first, Christ’s special care of his churches and saints in those evil times, which were to come shortly. {Re 1:1} Secondly, the peaceable and flourishing condition of the church of God, after those evil times, which of the Roman pagan persecutions are past; Re 7:9-17.

Rev. 7.3:

Till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads; that is all God’s faithful servants, both ministers and people, who were to be secured and preserved from these hurtful angels, as (Re 7:5,6) following. Whereby they were distinguished from all others, whom the four angels were permitted to hurt. (Re 9:4) And was it commanded them, that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads; (as Eze 9:4-6). These sealed ones were the seed of Abraham, Israelites indeed, the children of Abraham by faith, (Ga 3:7,26,28,29 Re 14:1-5, etc) that is, a certain number known unto God and Christ, put for an indefinite number, not known unto any but God the Father, Word and Holy Spirit. (Re 7:9)

Rev. 7.10:

and unto the Lamb, who is the Savior of sinners, (Mt 1:18) neither is there any other Savior. (Ac 4:12) This Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world; (see Re 5:9) in God’s purpose and decree of the salvation of his elect, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Eph 1:4-6) Salvation, first, from wrath to come, (1Th 1:10) that is, from, hell, called the second death. (Re 20:6)

Secondly, from the law, not from evangelical obedience unto the moral part of the law (for we are not without law to God, but under the law to Christ; 1Co 9:21), but from the ceremonial part of the law, (Ro 7:6) and from the curse of the law. (Ga 3:13)

Thirdly, from Satan, being delivered out of his kingdom and dominion, and translated into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:13) Fourthly, from the servitude of sin, (Ro 6:16,20,22,23) that is, from the dominion and reigning power of sin, (Ro 6:11-14) and from law and captivating power of sin. (Ro 7:22-25 8:2) The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin, etc. and also everlasting and eternal salvation in heavenly glory, called everlasting life, (Joh 3:16) and eternal life, (Ro 6:23 1Jo 5:11,12) through Jesus Christ.

And have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Which they did, first, by faith, applying the precious blood of Jesus, in the promises of the new-covenant of grace: And secondly, by sufferings, wherein they overcame all their persecutors; viz. Satan and all his instruments, by the blood of Christ, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death. (Re 12:11)

Rev. 8.1:

Now the sealed book was fully opened by our blessed Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah; who is God blessed forever, (Ro 9:5) so that the first principal vision in this prophecy of the Revelation, is fully ended. And here begins the second principal vision thereof, that is, the seven trumpets, from Re 8:8-13:18. The first thing that followed the opening of the seventh seal

was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour By heaven, here we are to understand the church of God, (compared by Christ unto heaven, Mt 25:1 16:18,19 in contradistinction unto the world, called earth. Re 8:13 Re 12:12) And by silence in heaven, we may understand the cessation from churches sufferings, sorrows, weeping, and crying, during the short time of peace, quiet, and rest, which was but half an hour; that is, half the time of the reign of Constantine the Great, who reigned about thirty years, whereof the former fifteen years the church of God had rest from persecution, and peace to serve and worship God, under his government:

And then began the grand heresy of the Arians, whereby the churches rest, and peace was disturbed, interrupted, and troubled by Constantia, Constantine’s sister, whom he greatly favored; and Constantius his son and successor became so eager in maintaning the Arian heresy, and the Arian bishops, that St. Hierom (in Chronicis), said, Omnes poene toto Orbe Ecclesiae Aria-norum consortio polluuntur; Almost all the churches in the whole world are polluted by the agreement of the Arians. Historians relate, that Paul the Patriarch of Constantinople, and Athanasius the Patriarch of Alexandria, who were most eminent opposers of the Arian heresy, were both banished by the Emperor; and some historians testify, that the persecutions of orthodox bishops, ministers, and Christians, by the Arians, were as bloody and barbarous, as the Ten Pagan Persecutions.

Rev. 8.2 & 3:

These seven Angels were the messengers of God, who are ready to declare or do his revealed will; and therefore are said to stand before God; by whom we may understand literally the holy angels, and mystically the faithful ministers of God, called angels. (Re 1:20) Seven is a complete or perfect number, as of churches, ministers, seals, angels; so here of trumpets, (and after of vials, Re 15:1,6,7). With these seven trumpets those messengers of God were to sound seven alarms to the church, and also to the world; and they having received orders from Christ, prepared themselves to sound one after another. {read Re 8:6} By this other angel, we are to understand Jesus Christ, called the Angel of the Covenant, (Mal 3:1) and the High Priest of our profession. (Heb 3:1) The Antitype of Aaron, and all the true High Priest under the law, {Heb 7:25,26} as appears also by his standing at the altar. {Ex 40:5} The golden altar of incense, which typed out the deity of Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, (Col 2:9,10; see Re 6:9). And by incense, here we may understand mystically the merits of Christ intercession for the saints, as the mediator of the new covenant of grace between God and the saints. Incense, literally, that mentioned, (Ex 30:34,38) but here typically, the virtue and efficacy of Christ’s intercession for the saints. See more in the exposition of the next verse. See KNOLLYS on “Rev 8:4”

Rev. 8.6 & 7:

The seven angels having attended and waited on the Lord for his orders, and having received their commission from Christ, do now prepare themselves to sound their trumpets, orderly one after another. And the first angel sounded. By angel, here we may understand Athanasius, Paulus, Hilarius, Ofius, Paulinus, and other faithful ministers of the gospel, who lifted up their voice like a trumpet, and did bear their testimony publicly against arianism and other errors; and we may also by this angel, understand the kings of the Goths and vandals, whose religion was Arianism; they sounded a terrible alarm to the Roman Empire by their invasions. Upon which followed hail, and fire mingled with blood; that is, great storms of persecution, (Pleffaeus his Mystery of Iniquity, and Heirom de Chronicis), and bloody wars. (See Alaricus in Chronicis Regnorum Veterum and Helvicus in Theat Hist). Alstedius, Genserick, Atyla, and others, with their armies, destroyed Valence, that bloody Arian emperor, who caused eighty supplicants (that were sent to him from some Orthodox bishops, and other banished Christians) to be murdered.

And all green grass was burned up; that is, the ordinances of God, which are as green pastures, where Christ feeds his sheep and his lambs. (Ps 23:1,2 Re 12:6,14) But now both the doctrine and the ordinances of the gospel, were so corrupted that they were like grass, scorched with the heat of the sun, and so burnt up and withered, that the flocks of Christ’s pastures sheep could not feed. (Am 8:11-13 Isa 40:28-31 Zec 11:8,9) The eastern bishops and churches being so corrupted with errors and heiresses, and western bishops and churches being more orthodox and less corrupted; the bishops of Rome began to contend for supremacy, and at last obtained it. Plessaus’s Mystery of Iniquity, (pp. 4, 44).

(Not sure what Plessaus’s means. If any reader of this post knows please comment.)

Rev. 8.8 & 9:

By this second angel, we may likewise understand both ministerial and political angels, who gave the second alarm to the church of God, and to the Roman papal empire; especially the faithful ministers of the fourth century in the western church. And as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea, This great mountain was the patriarch of Rome, burning with pride and ambition, loving to have the preeminence and the supremacy over God’s clergy. Was cast into the sea. By sea, we may understand their ecclesiastical jurisdiction, over all peoples, tongues, nations and languages, which are the sea of many waters. upon whom the Roman whore sitteth. {Re 17:1,10,18} And especially their corrupted worship. (read Re 13) (Alsted in Chronicis Ordinum inter Monachos; and Socrates, Lib. 5. Of his Ecclesiastical History, Anno 395, 396.)

And the third part of the sea became blood; (like one of the plagues of Egypt). (Ex 7:10,11) That is, a great part of the worship and ordinances of God were so corrupted and polluted by the inventions of men of corrupt minds, and by the superstitious and idolatrous traditions of the Roman papal clergy, that many who drank of those mystical waters died, etc. One part were sealed and secured; another part were preserved by the incense of Christ’s mediation and intercession; and a third part, whose names were not in the Lamb’s Book of Life, were false worshippers, and they died, etc. {Re 13:8,15-17 14:9-11 8:9} By those creatures, we may understand the Roman clergy, who had life; that is, who formerly seemed to be lively and zealous defenders of the faith, died; that is, some recanted, others where corrupted, and others were destroyed, etc.

By this third angel, we may understand the ministers of the next century, namely, Augustinus, Hieronymus, Prosperus, Optatus, etc. The great star that fell from heaven was Nestorius, the then Bishop of Consiantinople, and several ministers with him, who corrupted the doctrine of the gospel, touching original sin, justification, election, satisfaction for sin and free-will, and polluted the pure worship of God, by bringing in penance’s, holy days, fasts, and feasts of their own inventions; Also superstitions, the worshipping of angels, praying to saints deceased, etc. These heterodox prelates and priest, are said to fall from heaven; that is from the true church, sound doctrine, pure worship, and heavenly life. And of shining stars to become burning lamps; that is, they lost all that spiritual light which they had by the gifts of the Spirit, {as 1Co 12:4,8} but being learned men, they kept the lamp-light of their acquired arts. Which they had from the school-men; and thereby they flamed and shined like a burning lamp; (as the lamps of the five foolish virgins did, until they went out). {Mt 25:1-2,8-11}

Rev. 8.11:

Historians tell us, that in this century came in Extream Unction, in imitation of the sacred ordinance of anointing the sick (or infirm) with oil. (Jas 5:14-16) Falex, Patriarch of Rome, appointed the Chancel or Choire to be separated from the Stoney Church, for the second service, and sacrament to be said and administered in the Chorie or Chancel, as the most holy place in the temples of stone, called the church, the parish church, etc. And the patriarch Gregory, caused the image of the virgin Mary to be carried in procession; and candles were then brought into the temples or churches for Candlemas-day (Cent. Magd. Cent. 5). At that time also, Benedict the Father of Monks, and little Denis the maker of cycles for Easter, are said to live. Thus popery crept gradually into the church by the fall of the stars, angels, ministers, etc.

Rev. 8.12:

By this fourth angel we may understand Gergorius a man of greatlearning who opposed John Bishop of Constantiople; that took the name of universal bishop, (Gegor. Lib. 4, Epist. 32,34,36,38, ad Johnnem Constant Lib. 7, Epist. 30, also Cent. Magd. Cent. 6 cap. 1:7). And other faithful ministers, who opposed innovations in worship, and unsound doctrines at that time. By the sun, moon, and stars, in the heaven of the visible church on earth, we are to understand all sorts of spiritual light, which God hath ordained and set in the church; that is, the Holy Scripture of truth. (Ps 119:105,130) The able ministers of the New Testament. (Mt 5:14) A third part of these were smitten, so that a third part them was darkened.

Rev. 8.13:

By this angel, we may understand Christ or some of his holy angels, or some of his prophetical angels; that is, some of his ministers, or messengers: And for the better understanding of this verse, I shall premise a few things; First, that heaven and earth, in this prophecy, of the Revelation, are often used metaphorically. (read Re 6:12,13,14 7:1-3 9:1) Secondly, that the inhabitants of the earth are put in opposition to them that dwell in heaven. {Re 12:12} Thirdly, as by heaven is meant Sion so by earth we may understand Babylon. {Re 17:15,18 Re 18:2,10} Now I proceed; by the inhabitors of the earth, here we are to understand those people who are members of, and continue in the anti-Christian state of the Roman papal church, (called mystery Babylon, Re 17:5 the great whore and mother of harlots) both ministers and people, who have been made drunk with wine of her fornications, (Re 17:1,2) and do worship the beast, or his image, (Re 13:1,7,8) or received the mark in their forehead, or in their hand. Those are the persons and people against whom these three woes are denounced by Christ and angels. (Re 18:13 14:9-11) If any man worship the Beast and his Image, and receive his Mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, etc.

Hanserd Knollys – Revelation 6

Selected notes from Knollys exposition of Revelation. Emphasis added.

 

hanserd-knollys

Rev. 6.1:

The Lord Jesus Christ having prevailed to open this sealed book of the Revelation, which God gave him, and he took it out of his right hand. Now John saw him open one of the seals; that is, the first in order of the seven seals of this book; It is a Hebraism, the Jews used so to express; and call the first of times, things or persons, as Ge 1:5 one day, that is, the first day. It is also a Helenism; the Greeks used to express and call the first of Sabbaths, (Mr 16:2) πρωῒ τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων, early upon one of the Sabbaths, that is, upon the first Sabbath (Mr 16:9) For that first day of the week was the first Christian Sabbath, called the Lord’s Day.

Rev. 6.2:

It is usual in the prophets to signify great and wonderful transactions and dispensations of God, by warlike horses. (Zec 6:2,3,6,7) So in this chapter. (Re 6:4,5,8) By this white horse we may understand the ministry of the gospel of peace and grace, especially the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit in the word preached. (Heb 4:12 1Th 1:5) Notwithstanding all the opposition and persecution of the Roman pagan emperors, and the Roman papal potentates.

Rev. 6.4:

By this red horse we may understand the bloody sufferings of the churches, ministers, and members of Christ, by the persecutions of the Roman pagan emperors, who were called the ‘red dragon’ (Re 12:3) who killed many of the saints and servants of God; but yet they overcame and conquered at last, by the blood of the blessed Jesus, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death. (Re 12:7,11)

And power was given to him that sat thereon, to take peace from the earth. This power was two-fold, first, that dominion, rule, and authority, which the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision had given unto him of God; that is, the Roman pagan monarchy (compare Da 2:40 with Da 7:23), in all political, civil, and lawful administrations. Secondly, that tyranny and cruelty, which the Roman pagan emperors exercised over the Christians by their soldiers and magistrates, by God’s permission in matters ecclesiastical, or idol-worship (as in Heb 11:35,36,37, &c.), mystically signified by ten days. (Re 2:10) By the earth we may understand the churches of God on earth, and literally the inhabitants of the earth: the Roman pagan emperors took peace from the churches of God on earth, by their bloody persecutions of the primitive Christians: And they took peace from the inhabitants of the earth, by their wars in several countries, cities, and towns.

Rev. 6.5:

by this black horse, we may understand scarcity of food, some kind of famine. (As Zec 6:2 Job 3 La 4:8,9 5:9,10)

Rev. 6.8:

This pale horse (by a metonymy of the effect) doth signify the several kinds of death, which effected by the sword, the famine, the pestilence, and the wild beasts.

Rev. 6.10:

The testimony which those martyrs held, was two fold; first, negative; they would not worship idols. (as Da 3:16,17,18) Positive; they did worship the only living God in Spirit and in truth. (Joh 4:22,23,24 Da 6:13-16) Both Eusebius and Mr. Fox, in their Histories of the Church, testify, that thousands in a day were killed for professing themselves Christians; and in that some places of Roman Empire whole churches full of Christians were burned together, and whole cities where burned for refusing to worship idols, and whole legions of soldiers were destroyed for being Christians, and worshipping God.

Rev. 6.11:

By white robes, we may understand, first, those garments of salvation, and robe of Christ’s righteousness. (Isa 61:10) Secondly, the bride’s attire, white clean (without spot, So 4:7), which is the righteousness of the saints. {Re 19:8} Thirdly the martyrs integrity and innocency in all their sufferings: having washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Re 7:14)

Rev. 6.12:

sixth Seal St. John had the revelation of the great revolution of the Roman pagan empire, which should put an end unto the bloody persecutions of the heathen emperors, and all their tyrannical torturing of the Christians by cruel deaths; which revolution is there set forth in a prophetical style and manner of speaking. For when the Prophets did foretell the destruction of Kingdoms, or some great changes and revolutions therein they used such figurative and metaphorical terms, words and expressions, as are in the following verses; viz.

Rev. 6.16 & 17:

These idolatrous potentate kings, priests, and captains, in the day of God vengeance (his temple vengeance) seek for hiding places, but find none. They had rather the rocks and mountains should have fallen on them and destroyed them, than to be brought before the judgment of seat of God and Jesus Christ, whose name they have blasphemed, whole churches, ministers, and members, they had persecuted, imprisoned, martyred and murdered, by their edicts, decrees, laws, and soldiers, and by the judges, juries, and the false witnesses. (Am 9:1,2,3) This great day of God, and the Lamb’s wrath, was at last acknowledged and confessed by those persecutors. This dreadful dispensation of God’s wrath happened in the days of the 10th and last bloody persecution of the Christians, when Diocelsian was Emperior; as all historians testify.

Hanserd Knollys – Revelation 5

Hanserd_Knollys_webSelected comments from Knollys work on Revelation chapter 5.

Rev. 5.1:

Every vision of God in his word consists of two general parts: first, something seen; and secondly, something heard:

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written, etc. The prophets and apostles being in a trance had their eyes open. (Nu 24:4 Ac 10:10-11) So had this apostle here, not the eyes of the body, but of the mind.

this was the Book of Revelations, a mystical and prophetical book, containing the Revelation of those things which were shortly to be fulfilled, and come to pass, see Re 1:1,19 4:1. This book was full, no place left void to add anything unto it, (Re 22:18) Whosoever shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book,

Rev. 5.4 & 5:

It appears that St. John was very much troubled, for he wept much: The servant of the Lord was very sensible, what a loss it would be to him, and to the church of God, if this sealed book should not be unsealed, and the mysterial prophecies therein should not be opened; therefore he wept and mourned.

The apostle is forbid to weep.

John’s affectionate sorrow might hinder him from attending unto the glad tidings brought unto him: Therefore the elder first prohibited him from weeping: Tears and sorrows may hinder choice Christians, and indispose them to receive spiritual comforts. The elder having shut the floodgate of the Apostle’s sorrow, he bids him attend diligently to what he had to say unto him.

Rev. 5.6:

In the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb. The Lord our Passover, who was sacrificed for us. (1Co 5:7) Christ standing in the midst of the throne, signifieth, first, that he is equal with God the Father, (Joh 10:30 Php 2:6) and partaker of the same glory, dominion and authority with the Father. (Mt 28:18-19) Secondly, that Christ is exalted on the right hand of God, (Heb 8:1 12:2) and so St. Stephen saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. (Ac 7:56) Christ’s standing in the midst of the four living creatures, and twenty four elders, doth signify his gracious presence in the church, (called the throne of God,)( Jer 17:12) with his ministers, (called pastors, teachers, and elders,)(Eph 4:11-13 Ac 20:17) to present their persons, prayers, and all their spiritual services and sacrifices at the throne of grace, with his incense unto the father with acceptance. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angels hand. (Re 8:4 Eph 2:18 Heb 13:15 1Pe 2:4-5)

Rev. 5.8:

This verse contains a preparation unto a new and spiritual song of praise and thanksgiving unto Christ our Redeemer, (Re 5:9-14) (who had taken this book to unloose the seals, and to open the mystical and prophetical visions and revelations therein contained). And this spiritual song of praise consists of three parts, whereof the church, her ministers and members bear the first part. (Re 5:8,9,10) The holy angels, and spirits of just men made perfect, bear the second part, (Re 5:11,12) and all God’s good creatures bear the third part. (Re 5:13,14)

Rev. 5.9:

Singing and praying are two distinct ordinances under the gospel, (1Co 14:14-15) and two distinct parts of the worship of God, both which are to be performed by the anointing of the spirit, (Col 3:16 Eph 5:18-19) in the churches of saints. This is called a new song, because, first, it contains new matter of praise and thanksgiving unto God, as Ps 98:1 etc. and secondly, the hearts (the harps) of these singers were put into a new spiritual frame by the fresh anointing of the holy spirit; John had been weeping much, and now God gave him the garments of praise for the spirit of mourning, to comfort him, (Isa 61:1-4) and so he as prepared to bear his part in this new song of praise and thanksgiving.

Rev. 5.10:

This verse contains a third reason of this new song of praise and thanksgiving. They were not only redeemed from all misery, sin, curse, and eternal death; but honoured with many glorious dignities, and spiritual privileges. The saints are kings, and Jesus Christ is King of saints. (Re 15:3) the Lord’s redeemed ones have a heavenly kingdom prepared for them. (Lu 12:32 Mt 25:34) And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to Christ and his saints. (Da 7:13-27 Mic 4:8 Zec 14:9) In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one. There shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (Joh 10:16) And priests unto God, a royal priesthood, (1Pe 2:4-9) to offer up spiritual sacrifices; that you should show forth the praises of God, (1Pe 2:9) who hath called you, etc. they believed upon the scripture ground, before mentioned, and therefore did they speak, (2Co 4:13) that is, the primitive saints believed that they shall reign with Christ on earth, and the latter day saints also have scripture ground to believe, that they shall reign with Christ on earth.(Re 20:1-4) And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years; ta cilia eth that is, those thousand years between the resurrection of Christ’s two prophetical witnesses, etc. and the rest of the dead, who lived not until those thousand years were finished. (Re 20:5,6)

Hanserd Knollys – Revelation 4

CORRECTION: I have found TWO dates given for the publication of this work by Knollys. The first was 1698 and is incorrect, it has to be, Knollys believed the second coming would be in 1689! He published this work believing Christ would return the following year.

Quotations from Hanserd Knollys Exposition of the Book of The Revelation, 1688.

The Visions and Prophecies of CHRIST
Are opened and Expounded,:
SHEWING
The great Counterfeits of our LORD Jesus Christ
for his Church over all His and Her Adversaries, PAGAN,
ARIAN and PAPAL and the glorious State of the
Church of God in the New Heavens and New Earth, in
these Latter Days.

revelation4

Rev. 4.1:

One glimpse of the glory of God in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, (2Co 4:6) doth cause his saints and servants to look for more, (Ps 63:1-2) To see thy power and thy glory, as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Stephen had heaven opened, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. (Ac 7:55-56) Peter also saw heaven opened, (Ac 10:11-16) and St. John beheld a door opened in heaven; that is, he had an open vision of unseen glory, as Stephen had, and a revelation of things that should come to pass.

Rev. 4.3:

Christ is said to have a rainbow upon his head, (Re 10:1) The rainbow was a token of Gods covenant with Noah, (Ge 9:11-16) and was applied by the prophet for the everlasting comfort of the church of God, (Isa 54:5-10) and signifies that God and Christ is ever mindful of the new covenant, and will perform his word to a thousand generations. (De 7:9 Ps 111:5) God will not break his covenant, (Ps 89:30-35) and Christ is the mediator of the new convenant between God and his people. (1Ti 2:5-6 Heb 8:6)

Rev. 4.5:

By the lightnings, and thunderings, and voices which proceeded out of the throne, the Church of God, that is, from Christ and the elders; we may understand the dispensations of the gospel, that cometh not in word only (signified by voices) but in power, (1Th 1:5) (expressed by lightnings and thunders) such are the right and just censures of Christ and his church, (1Co 5:4-5) against those in the church that are hereticks, schismaticks, or scandalous sinners; and the seven lamps of fire are the Seven Spirits of God. (See Re 1:14)

Rev. 4.6:

This sea of glass beareth some resemblance unto the sea of brass in Solomon’s Temple, (1Ki 7:2-3) like crystal, that is, clear and perspicuous; such is the gospel of the grace of God, (2Co 3:18) wherein we have an open vision of Jesus Christ, who is the image of the unseen glory of God. (2Co 4:6) By this sea of glass we may understand the pure worship of God under the gospel, (Re 15:3-5) mixed with fire; that is, with fiery trials, persecutions and sufferings for Christ, on which the victors stood with Christ, singing, praising and worshipping him.

Rev. 4.7:

ONE, that is, the first living creature was like a lion the lion is a kingly beast for courage and boldness, (Pr 21:1-2 2Sa 17:10) and turneth not away for any. (Pr 30:30) When he roareth the beasts of the forest do tremble. (Am 3:8) So the elders that rule well in the churches of saints have boldness for Christ, (as Peter and John had,)(Ac 4:13) and the church prayed God to give his ministers boldness (Ac 4:19,29) which holy boldness the ministers of Christ are to exercise, both in preaching the word, and in ruling and governing the church and flock of Christ, (1Ti 5:20 2Ti 4:2 Tit 1:13 3:10) according to Christ’s institutions.

By the ox, here is signified the pastors that labour in the word and doctrine, (1Co 3:9 9:4-11 1Ti 5:17) etc.

“the third living creature had a face as a man” Whereby the deacons of the churches of saints are fitly resembled, whose office, ministry, and work, is to attend the outward affairs of the church of God, and to serve tables in the daily ministration

The eagle flieth aloft towards heaven, (Pr 25:3) She mounteth up on high, (Job 39:27) whereunto the teachers in churches of saints are fitly resembled, who give attendance to reading, expounding, interpreting and teaching, (Ac 12:6-7 1Ti 4:13-15)

More to come…