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No.21 The Muniment Room (1: 3 - 14).
The Threefold Charter of the Church.
The Work of the Son (1: 7 - 11).
pp. 61 - 64
We remind our readers that Eph. 1: 3-14 is the charter of the church and provides the
documents that relate to our high calling, inheritance, release, adoption, seal and earnest.
In our last article we were occupied with the fact that Redemption is necessary and has
been provided in order that all the gracious provisions of our Father's will may be
enjoyed. The first result of this Redemption is given both in Ephesians and Colossians as
"the forgiveness of sins", and to this most gracious theme we now address ourselves.
Again, in order to realize something of the teaching of Eph. 1: 7, we must include in our
survey the Hebrew words that are employed in the Old Testament, the meaning of which
is carried over into the Greek of the New.
Forgiveness. This word translates the Hebrew selichah (Psa. 130: 4) which means "a
sending away", and is derived from salach in Psalm 103: 3. Other words used are
kaphar "to cover", the word which gives us the Old Testament term "atonement", nasa
"to lift up", "to bear", "to carry". The New Testament words are apoluo "to loose away"
(Luke 6: 37), charizomai "to be gracious to" (Eph. 4: 32), aphesis and aphiemi "to
send or to let off or away". The word used in Eph. 1: 7 is aphesis, "a discharge", "a
setting free as of a prisoner", "the putting away as of a wife" (Exod. 18: 2) or "the
remission of a debt" (Deut. 15: 3). In the New Testament aphesis speaks of (1) the
remission or forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26: 28; Heb. 9: 22; Acts 26: 18, &100:), and
(2) deliverance, or setting at liberty of captives (Luke 4: 18). Aphiemi from which
aphesis is derived, has a greater variety of renderings and usages. Perhaps the most
primitive of these usages is where it is translated "cry" (Mark 15: 37) and "yield up"
(Matt. 27: 50), the idea of sending forth being uppermost. "Put away, lay aside, leave,
let go, send away" are other ways in which the word is rendered, the one great covering
word being "release". Aphesis occurs many times in the LXX, and its usage in the
twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus gives the scriptural colouring to every one of its
occurrences. The great theme of this chapter is "the Jubile". "And ye shall hallow the
fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof:
it shall be a jubile (LXX a year of release) unto you: and ye shall return every man unto
his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family" (25: 10). Aphesis occurs
fourteen times in this chapter, where it is usually equivalent to the word Jubile in the
Authorized Version. Land might be sold as a temporary measure against need, but at the
Jubile, if not redeemed before, it reverted to its original owner. An Israelite who became
an hired servant might serve until the year of Jubile, but no longer, and at the year of
release he returned to his family and his possessions. A Hebrew sold to a foreign resident
could be redeemed at any time, but at the Jubile, under all circumstances, he had to be
set free. Josephus states in his Antiquities, that "debtors are freed from their debts",