Copyright
James Hastings.

Dictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) online

. (page 198 of 234)
Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 198 of 234)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


attribute which gives to the OT its character as a
sacred book ; it marks the point at which God meets
man ; it is Israel's most characteristic possession.

Comparing what we know of OT prophecy with
the account just given of inspiration by St. Paul,
there is nothing that clashes or is essentially
different. It is only the difference of a simpler
and a more advanced dispensation. OT prophecy
is best known by its effects. The main note of it
is that certain men spoke with an authority con-
ferred upon them directly by God ; they were em-
powered to say, 'Thus saith the Lord.' In the
earlier documents stress is frequently laid on the
giving of 'signs' asproofs that a prophet's mission
is from God (Ex 4 lfff30f -, 1 8 2 34 , 1 K 13 3 2 K 19 29
20 8t -, Is 7 loff -), and a test is laid down for distin-
guishing true from false prophecy in Dt 18 21f . But
in the days when prophecy was most active the
confidence (irXijpo^opia) with which the prophet
spoke would seem to have been taken as creden-
tials enough. Even when the prophet was un-
popular and his message was resisted by king or
people (as in the case of Micaiah and Jeremiah), it
was with an uneasy conscience and with a sense of
revolt against the Divine will.

It should be remembered that the existence of a
prophetic order is characteristic of the NT as well
as of the OT. We read in Ac 13 1 of ' prophets and
teachers ' as collected at Antioch. Individual pro-
phets are repeatedly mentioned, as Agabus in
Ac II 28 21 loff -, Judas and Silas in 15 32 , the daughters
of Philip in 21 9 . A passage like 13 2f - supplies the
key to others such as 16 6f - 20 23 ; when it is said
that 'the Holy Ghost' or 'the Spirit of Jesus'
forbade such and such an act, or that the Holy
Ghost 'testified' to such and such an effect, what
is meant is the Holy Ghost speaking by the mouth
of inspired prophets. In the Epistles 'prophets'
are frequently mentioned along with, but after,
'apostles' as a standing office in the Church (1 Co
12 28f -, Eph 2 20 3 5 4 11 ). The difference between OT
and NT prophets lies, not in the nature of the
gift or of the functions in which it was exercised,
but only in the comparative degree of then* import-
ance. The NT prophets were overshadowed by
the apostles, who possessed the special qualifica-
tion of having been in the immediate company of
the Lord Jesus (Ac I 21f- ). Those who are men-
tioned expressly as 'prophets' occupy as a rule a
secondary, rather than a primary, place in the
history of the Church. At the same time it was
quite possible for an apostle, and even a leading
apostle like St. Paul, to be endowed with the gift
of prophecy along with other gifts (cf. 1 Co 14 18f -).
5. Apostolic inspiration. We may really couple
together ' apostles ' and ' prophets ' as representing
the characteristic forms of inspiration in apostolic
times. But this inspiration must not be thought



of as something isolated. It was not a peculiar
and exceptional phenomenon standing by itself ; it
was rather the culminating point, or one of the
culminating points, in a wide movement. This
movement dates in its outward manifestation from
Pentecost ; it was what we should call in modern
phrase a 'wave' of religious enthusiasm, the
greatest of all such waves that history records,
and the one that had most clearly what we call
a supernatural origin. Language of this kind is
always relative : it is not as if the supernatural
was present in human life at certain periods, and
absent at others. The supernatural is always
present and always active, but in infinitely varied
degrees ; and the Incarnate Life of our Lord Jesus
Christ, with its consequences, is an epoch in the
world's history like no other that has ever been
before or since ; in it the Spirit moved on the face
of the waters of humanity as it had done before
over the physical waters of the Creation. This
particular movement was, in a higher sense than
any before it, spiritually creative.

The double character of the movement a super-
natural impulse and energy working upon and
through natural human faculties is well brought
out in 1 Th 2 13 : ' For this cause we also thank God
without ceasing, that, when ye received from us
the word of the message, even the word of God, ye
accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in
truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you
that believe.' With this should be taken the con-
text immediately preceding, which shows how the
Apostle concentrated all the gifts of sympathy and
interest with which he was so richly endowed upon
the service of his converts. He moved among
them as a man among men ; and yet they were
conscious that there were Divine forces behind
him. They were conscious that he was an instru-
ment in the hand of God, the medium or vehicle of
a Divine message a message that was in its ulti-
mate source none the less Divine because it was
shaped by a human mind acting in accordance with
its own proper laws.

Another very vivid picture of the apostolic
ministry is given in 1 Co 2 1 " 4 : ' And I, brethren,
when I came unto you, came not with excellency
of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the
mystery of God. For I determined not to know
anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him
crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and
in fear, and in much trembfing. And my speech
and my preaching were not in persuasive words of
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of
power: that your faith should not stand in the
wisdom of men, but in the power of God.' The
Apostle here discriminates, and the distinction is
constantly present to his mind, between the re-
sources which he brings to his work as man and
the effect which he is enabled to produce by the
help of the Spirit of God. He is nothing of an
orator ; he has none of the arts of rhetoric ; when
he first preached at Corinth, he was in a state of
utter physical prostration. But all this only threw
into stronger relief the success which he owed to a
Power beyond himself ; the wisdom and the force
with which he spoke were not his but God's.

Besides these Pauline passages there is another
classical passage outside the writings of St. Paul.
This is contained in the opening verse and a half
of the Epistle to the Hebrews : ' God, having of
old time in many portions and in many modes
spoken unto the fathers in the prophets, hath at
the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son.'
Here we have a historical retrospect of the whole
course of revelation and inspiration. The history
is mapped out in two great periods. There is the
period of revelation by inspired men ; and over
against this there is the great concentrated and



616 INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



crowning revelation by Him who is not a prophet
of God but His Son.

It is to be observed that in each case the pre-
position used is not (as in AV) 'by,' i.e. 'by means
of,' 'through the agency of,' but 'in'-yin the
prophets and in the Son. In each case it ig the
same internal process of which we have been
speaking above. The prophets spoke through the
operation of the Holy Spirit working upon their
own human faculties. The Son spoke through His
own essential Deity acting through the like human
faculties which He assumed at His Incarnation.
When we think of this internal process we are
reminded of the words of our Lord to the Samaritan
woman: 'Every one that drinketh of this water
shall thirst again : but whosoever drinketh of this
water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but
the water that I shall give him shall become in
him a well of water springing up into eternal life '
(71-17777 fidaros a\\o^vov els fw^j* al&viov t Jn 4 13 " 14 ).
There are few natural objects to which the pro-
cess of inspiration can so well be compared as to a
spring of what the Jews called 'living, i.e. running,
water. The cool fresh waters come bubbling and
sparkling up from unknown depths j they gather
and spread and speed upon their way in a fertilizing
stream. Even so is the way of the Spirit.

We observe that the prophetic revelation is de-
scribed as taking effect 'in many portions and in
many modes.' This brings out a new point. It is
not in accordance with God's methods to reveal the
full truth all at once. He has revealed Himself
piecemeal, in portions, a bit here and a bit there,
'line upon line and precept upon precept.' There
has been a gradual development, a development in
steps, each step marking an advance upon what had
preceded.

For comprehensive illustration we only need to
turn to the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5 21 " 48 ). This,
it will be remembered, is based upon an authority
no less venerable and commanding than the Deca-
logue. ' Ye have heard that it was said to them of
old time, Thou shalt not kill . . . Thou shalt not
commit adultery . . . Thou shalt not forswear
thyself ... ye have heard that it was said, An
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ... ye have
heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neigh-
bour, and hate thine enemy.' And then, in each
case, a corrected version of the commandment is
given ; a new commandment is placed by the side
of the old : 'Ye have heard that it was said . . .
but I say unto you . . .' The last of these com-
mandments brings home to us in a very vivid way
at once the greatness and the limitations of the
older inspiration. The old version was, 'Thou
shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.'
The new version is, 'Love your enemies and pray
for them that persecute you.' Again, there is the
well-known incident of the Samaritan village which
in accordance with the TR used to run : ' And
when his disciples James and John saw this, they
said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come
down from heaven, and consume them, even as
Elias did ? But he turned, and rebuked them, and
said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's
lives, but to save them. And they went to another
village' (Lk 9 54 ~ 56 ). The reading may not be
original, but the sense is rightly given ; the longer
version does but expand the meaning of the shorter.
Such instances may show how far our Lord Him-
self went in correcting or modifying portions of
the older Scriptures, which in their original con-
text had been truly inspired, but on a lower level.

It is difficult to exhaust the significance of this
great passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews ;
but a word must just be said about that other
phrase, 'In many modes.' It might be taken as



including the different classes of persons through
whom God spoke ; not only prophets, but also
psalmists and wise men. These classes too shared
in a genuine inspiration, though they did not
exactly use the special formula 'Thus saith the
Lord.' The whole nation, as the Chosen People, was
really a medium of Divine communication, though
as a rule such communication was conveyed
through individuals who were specially inspired.

Then there is the further question of the manner
of the communication. There is a large body of
evidence which goes to show that, under the New
Dispensation as well as under the Old, the Holy
Spirit made use of vision and trance and dream.
Some of the examples as, for instance, those from
the ' we-passages ' of the Acts are very well attested
indeed. Another strong example would be the vision
of the Apocalypse, though that is probably the case
of abookbaseduppnavision,ratherthan co-extensive
with the actual vision. The book itself would seem
to have been constructed _upon literary methods.
That would be another instance of the 'many
modes.' The Gospels are really a new and special
form of literature. The Epistles are of more than
one kind. Some are what we should call genuine
letters, others are rather treatises in the form of
letters. When once the epistolary type was fixed
it would be natural to employ it in different ways.

Before we leave the passage from Hebrews, we
must go back to the main point : the distinction
between revelation 'by' or in' the prophets, and
revelation 'by' or 'in' the Son. The distinction
is sufficiently explained by the words that are
used. The prophets were 'spokesmen' of God;
the Son was the Son none other and none less.
His inspiration came to Him as the Son. It was
the product of His direct and constant filial com-
munion with the Father. The nature of this
inspiration is explained in that other famous
verse: 'All things have been delivered unto me
of my Father ; and no one knoweth the Son, save
the Father; neither doth any know the Father,
save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth
to reveal him' (Mt II 27 , Lk 10 22 ).

For a further exposition we may turn to the pro-
logue of St. John's Gospel, where the correct read-
ing perhaps is: 'No man hath seen God at any
time ; God only begotten, who is in the bosom of
the Father, he hath declared him' (Jn I 18 ). The
phrase 'who is in the bosom of the Father' denotes
exactly that close and uninterrupted communion
between the Son and the Father of which we have
been speaking. The Son is admitted to the inner-
most counsels of the Father; and therefore it is
that He is able to communicate them to men.

6. The historical setting. When we were quot-
ing above from the First Epistle to the Corinthians,
we were really extracting a page or two from the
autobiography of St. Paul ; hut the Apostle gives us
plainly to understand that hia experience was shared
bymany other Christians. That groupof phenomena
which we call inspiration was part of the movement
described in general as the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit; and St. Paul, with his natural bent for
analysis, classifies and labels the different forms of
manifestation which the gift of the Spirit assumed
(1 Co 12 4 " 11 ). Some of these concern us, and some
do not; but the 'word of wisdom,' the 'word of
knowledge,' ' prophecy and the discerning of spirits '
are all directly in point. In these various ways
the men of that day might have been seen to be
carried out of and beyond their natural selves ;
and we possess a permanent written expression of
the movement in the books of the NT. The gift
of 'speaking with tongues' was a by-product of
the same movement.

Like all other spiritual forces, these too needed
to be regulated ; they needed the controlling hand



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION



INSPIRATION AND REVELATION 617



to fit them in orderly fashion into their place in
the organized life of the society. Left to them-
selves, the exuberant outgrowths of spiritual ex-
altation were apt to run riot and cross and interfere
with one another. It is such a state of things that
St. Paul deals with in 1 Co 14. From a chapter
like that we may form a good idea as to what the
primitive assemblies for worship were like in a
community that was, perhaps rather more than the
average, subject to religious excitement. The
Apostle lays down rules which, if observed, would
keep this excitement within due bounds.

Great movements such as this which we have
seen to be characteristic of the Apostolic Age do
not come to an abrupt end, but shade off gradually
into the more placid conditions of ordinary times.
Hence, though it was natural and justifiable to
regard the sphere of this special inspiration as co-
extensive with the literature which claims to be
apostolic, the extension of the inspiration to the
whole of that literature and the denial of its
presence in any writing that falls outside those
limits, must not be assumed as an exact and
scientific fact. The Epistles, e.g., of Ignatius of
Antioch are not inferior to those which pass under
the names of 2 Peter and Jude. There are two
places in the Epistles of Clement of Rome to the
Corinthians (lix. 1 and Ixiii. 2) which appear to
make what we should call a definite claim to in-
spiration ; and Ignatius reminds the Philadelphians
(vii. 1) how, when he was present in their assembly
he had suddenly exclaimed, under an impulse which
he could not master, 'with a loud voice, with the
voice of God : " Give heed to the bishop, to the
presbytery, and to the deacons." ' He clearly re-
garded this utterance as prompted by the Holy
Spirit. He certainly did so in complete good faith ;
and there is no reason for disputing his claim, any
more than there would be in our own day in the
case of one who spoke under strong conviction,
with deep emotion, and with a profound sense of
direct responsibility to God. It would not follow,
even so, that the claim, standing alone, was in-
fallible it would, like all such claims, be subject
to 'the discerning of spirits' but it would at least
have a prima facie right to a hearing.

7. False claims to inspiration. As in the case
of the OT, so also in the case of the NT, we have
to reckon with false claims to inspiration. There
were prophets who were not deserving of the name.
In both Testaments the prophets are regarded as
forming a sort of professional class, which contained
unworthy members. There is more than one
allusion to false prophets of the elder dispensation
(Lk 6 26 , 2 P 2 1 ). The Jew Bar-Jesus (or Elymas)
is described as a magician or false prophet (Ac 13 6 ).
But there are special warnings against false
prophets (Mt 7 15 ), more particularly in connexion
with the troubled times which precede the destruc-
tion of Jerusalem (Mk 13 22 =Mt 24 24 ; cf. v. 11 ).
False prophets are a fixed feature in the eschato-
logical scheme. As a matter of fact, they must
have been numerous towards the end of the
Apostolic Age (1 Jn 4 1 , 2 P 2 1 ) ; and hence it is
that in the Book of Revelation the class is summed
up in the personification of the False Prophet (Rev
13 iiff. 16 isf . 192 o 2Qio) . The dangers from this source
were met by a special gift of discernment between
false inspiration and true (1 Co 12 10 ).

8. Temporary element in the apostolic con-
ception of inspiration. The apostolic conception
of inspiration did not differ in kind from that which
prevailed in Jewish circles at the time. Tr, was the
product of reflexion upon the earlier period of the
history when prophecy had been in full bloom.
Under the influence of the scribes from Ezra on-
ward, the idea of prophecy and of Scripture gener-
ally had hardened into a definite theologoumenon.



It was not to be expected that the doctrine thus
formed should be checked by strict induction from
the facts. The prophets spoke with authority,
which they claimed to be Divine. They did not
enter into any precise psychological analysis in
accordance with which they distinguished between
the human element in the process and the Divine.
They knew that the impulse the overpowering
impulse and influence came from outside them-
selves. It was only natural that they should set
down the whole process to this. Thus there grew
up the belief that the inspired word was in all
respects Divine and endowed with all the properties
of that which is Divine. The word of God, whether
spoken or written, must be as certain in its opera-
tion as the laws of Nature. 'As the rain cometh
down and the snow from heaven, and returneth
not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh
it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the
sower and bread to the eater ; so shall my word be
that goeth forth out of my mouth : it shall not
return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that
which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing
whereto I sent it' (Is 55 lof ). It was perfectly true
that the broad Divine purpose as such was in-
fallible. But it was a further step and a mistaken
step to suppose that every detail in the human
expression of that purpose shared in its infallibility.
Yet the step was taken, and gradually hardened
into a dogma (for the Jewish doctrine see W.
Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums 2 , Berlin, 1906,
p. 172) . The apostles in this respect did not differ
from their countrymen. The infallibility of the
Scriptures and indeed the verbal infallibility is
expressly laid down in Jn 10 35 (where the Evangelist
is speaking rather than his Master). Yet the as-
sertion of the doctrine in this instance is associated
with an argument which, to modern and Western
logic, is far from infallible. And the same must
be said of St. Paul (Gal 3 16 ), where he argues after
the manner of the Rabbis from the use of the
singular 'seed' instead of the plural 'seeds.'
There is more to be said about the minute fulfil-
ments which are so often pointed out by St.
Matthew and St. John (Mt I 22 etc., Jn 2 22 etc.) ;
on these see esp. Cheyne, Com. on Isaiah, London,
1881, ii. 170-189.

Broadly speaking, it would be true to say that
the application of the OT by the apostles shows a
deepened grasp of its innermost meaning (e.g. St.
Paul's treatment of 'faith/ of the election of Israel,
the call of the Gentiles, the nearness of the gospel
[Ro 10 8ff -] and the like). But these are instances
of their deepened insight generally, and are not
different in kind from the Rabbinical theology,
which, though often at fault, from time to time
shows flashes of great penetration.

Summary. In regard to the conception of reve-
lation and inspiration as a whole, the same sort
of gradual shading off is to be observed. The
idea itself is fundamental; it must hold a per-
manent and leading place in the mind's outlook
upon the world and on human history. There is
a certain amount of detachable dross connected
with it, but the essence of it is pure gold. And
this essence is not to be too closely circumscribed.
There were adumbrations of the idea outside Israel.
In Israel itself, in the prophetic order, the idea
received its full provisional expression ; but the
coping-stonewasplaceduponitbyChristianity;God,
who in time past had spoken to the Chosen Race
by the prophets, at the end of the ages spoke, not
only to them but to all mankind, by His Son (He I 1 ) .

LTTERATTTRE. The present writer is not aware of any work
dealing specifically with the apostolic conception of Inspiration
and Revelation ; but on the general subject reference may be
made to artt. ' Bible ' and ' Bible in the Church ' in ERE, vol.
ii. ; to B. Jowett, on 'The Interpretation of Scripture' in
Essays and Reviews, London, 1860 ; G. T. Ladd, What is the



618



INTERCESSION



INTERCESSION



Bible f , New York, 1888 ; C. A. Briggs, The Bible, the Church,
and the Reason, Edinburgh, 1892 ; R. F. Horton, Revelation
and the Bible, London, 1892; W. Sanday, Inspiration 3
(Bampton Lectures for 1893), do. 1896; B. B. Warfield, artt.
"'It says": "Scripture says": "God says,"' in Presb. and
Ref. Review, x. [1899) 472 ff., and "' God-inspired Scripture," 'in
ib. xi. [1900] 89 ff. ; F. Watson, Inspiration, London, 1906; J.
Orr, Revelation and Inspiration, do. 1910; A. S. Peake, The
Bible,do. 1913; W. Koelling, Prolegomena zur Lehre von der
Theopneustie, Breslau, 1890; H. Cremer, art. 'Inspiration,' in
PRE 3 ix. [Leipzig, 1901] ; M. Kahler, Wissenschaft der christl.
Lehre, Leipzig, 1905; H. Vollmer, art. 'Inspiration,' in RGG
iii. [Tubingen, 1911]; also, on the nature of Inspiration, H.
Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes 2 , Gottingen, 1899 ;
H. Weinel, Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der Geister, Frei-
burg i. B., 1899; P.Volz, Der Geist Gottes, Tubingen, 1910.

W. SANDAY.

INTERCESSION. The word tvrfvfa, translated
' intercession ' (1 Ti 2 1 4 5 ), means literally ' drawing
close to God in free and familiar intercourse.' But
the modern use of the word, which limits the
meaning to prayer for others, need not obliterate
the original meaning. It is in proportion as the
person praying for others is able to enlarge his
own intercourse with God that he can be, like
Moses, Samuel, Elijah, able to uphold others.

In the NT human capacity for this work is seen
to be immeasurably increased through the example
and teaching of the Lord Jesus, and by the co-
operation of the Holy Spirit, who intercedes ' with
groanings which cannot be uttered ' and ' according
to the will of God' (Ro 8 26 - 27 ). We may expect,
therefore, to find that the work of intercession
will grow as the Church grows, with great widen-
ing of experience and influence. The enlarged
teaching of St. Paul in his later letters corresponds
with the facts narrated in the Acts, where inter-
cessory services are quoted at all great crises. The
apostles and brethren pray for guidance in the
appointment of a successor to Judas (Ac I 24 ), as
when they appoint the Seven (6 6 ; cf. 13 3 ), or pray
for the deliverance of St. Peter from prison (12 5 ).
The farewell prayers with the elders of Ephesus
(20 36 ), and the whole congregation of Tyre (2 1 5 - 6 ),



Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 198 of 234)