By Charles H. Welch
The adjective ‘good’ does not form the comparative with ‘gooder’ but goes to another root (probably from ‘boot’ e.g., ‘what boots it?’) and gives us ‘better’. In the Greek this word is either kreisson or kreitton, the spelling varying with locality, age and custom, but without altering the meaning. The word occurs nineteen times in the Greek New Testament being translated in every case except one, by the comparative ‘better’, the exception being 1 Corinthians 12:31 where the A.V. reads ‘best’ and the R.V. reads ‘greater’. The word is used with reference to dispensational superiority in one book, namely in the epistle to the Hebrews, where it can be looked upon as one of the key words of the epistle (see HEBREWS for structure and general teaching). The word occurs thirteen times in Hebrews. The great thought in Hebrews is that of going on unto perfection (Heb. 6:1) and of realizing the superiority of Christ to angels, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and all the Old Testament witnesses put together.
Together with this we have a better testament or covenant, than was given at Mount Sinai (Heb. 7:22; 8:6) which is established on better sacrifices and is the guarantee of better promises and a better hope (Heb. 8:6; 7:19).
This better hope is related to a better country and a better city namely the heavenly (Heb. 11:16), and the same principle that adds ‘the prize of the high calling’ to the hope of that calling, and associates it with ‘the out-resurrection’ (Phil. 3:11), is seen in Hebrews 11:35 where we see some attaining to ‘a better resurrection’. (For a fuller treatment, see PRIZE, OUT-RESURRECTION and PHILIPPIANS). The general trend of the dispensations is that the one that succeeds has been better. Consequently we may translate Philippians 1:10, ‘approve things that are excellent’ as the A.V. or ‘try the things that differ’ as indicated in the margin. This therefore is an encouragement to the reader, an incentive ‘to go on’. If the calling announced in the gospels is blessed, that which we find in the epistles is more so.
And if the calling in the early epistles of Paul reveals the wondrous association of the believer with the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Prison Epistles take us higher, until the believer is not only ‘quickened’ and ‘raised together’ but ‘seated together’ in heavenly places. It is good, therefore, to present this fact to any newcomer to Dispensational Truth, so that timidity or fear of losing something already held, shall not rob them of the better things that still await the faith of God’s elect.