The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 134 of 202
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If we were dealing with the English language, this argument would command respect;
but the language concerned is Greek, and the N.T. contains more than one example of
ano, the adverb, being used in the same way as we use an adjective, i.e., to qualify a
"I will show wonders in heaven above" (Acts 2: 19).
"Jerusalem which is above is free" (Gal. 4: 26).
"Seek the things which are above" (Col. 3: 1).
"Set your affection on things above" (Col. 3: 2).
"I am from above" (John 8: 23).
"They filled them up to the brim" (John 2: 7).
Here we have ano used with nouns not in its strictly adverbial sense of "upward", for
we cannot reasonably speak of "upward heaven", of "Jerusalem that is upward", or of
"things that are upward".
The calling of Phil. 3: 14 is a high calling, and must be interpreted in accordance
with its parallel in II Tim. 1: 9. There the "holy calling" refers to the vocation whereunto
we are called and not to a future rapture or ascension to glory. Moreover, the prize is not
the high calling. The latter, of which we are enjoined to walk worthy, has, associated
with it, a prize, and not the calling, that is the summons on high.
The very presence of the word prize should for ever prevent us from introducing, in
this connection, that which is ours by gift and grace alone. The apostle has used the word
with a precision which leaves no room for doubt or debate:--
"Have ye not perceived that those that are racing in the stadium, are all indeed racing,
but one obtains the prize: so run that you may lay hold; but every man who striveth in
the games, in all things useth self control. They indeed, then, that a corruptible crown
they may obtain, but we an incorruptible. I, therefore, so am racing, as not uncertainty,
so am boxing as not thrashing air, but I am beating my body under and leading it captive,
lest by any means, to others having proclaimed (as a herald) the contest, I myself should
be disqualified" (I Cor. 9: 24-27).
Not one word of this passage belongs to salvation by grace, or calling, or position in
Christ; the whole context belongs to that "working out" of salvation of which Philippians
speaks. The principle involved extends to I Cor. 10: where the lesson is learned by
observing the all and the many. All came out of Egypt, and did eat and drink, but with
many God was not well pleased, and they fell in the wilderness. This does not jeopardize
salvation--for all were redeemed. It speaks rather of the failure of some to press on,
forgetting the things left behind in Egypt.
It is doubtless unwise to press analogies beyond their legitimate warrant, but any
analogy of Scripture is of far greater weight than any opinion of uninspired expositors
like ourselves. Of all those over twenty years of age that came out of Egypt, only Caleb
and Joshua attained entrance into the land of Canaan. Did they go in immediately while
the murmurers wandered their forty years in the wilderness? Or did they not, rather, wait
until all Israel crossed the Jordan together? We know the answer. They waited; but they
did not lose their reward. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews centres round two themes--