Jesus in China: Christianity's rapid rise

Full story: Chicago Tribune

Rev. Jin Mingri peered out from the pulpit and delivered an unusual appeal: "Please leave," the 39-year-old pastor commanded his followers, who were packed, standing-room-only on a Sunday afternoon, into a ...
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1,581 - 1,600 of 1,714 Comments Last updated Sep 30, 2013
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Swindon, UK

#1797 Oct 26, 2012
The original word אל&#14 92;ים Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of אל El, or אל&#14 92; Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of Persons in the Divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three Persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity. Nor are the Christians singular in receiving this doctrine, and in deriving it from the first words of Divine revelation. An eminent Jewish rabbi, Simeon ben Joachi, in his comment on the sixth section of Leviticus, has these remarkable words: "Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other." See Ainsworth. He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words. The verb בר&#14 88; bara, he created, being joined in the singular number with this plural noun, has been considered as pointing out, and not obscurely, the unity of the Divine Persons in this work of creation. In the ever-blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy.

"Let those who have any doubt whether אל&#14 92;ים Elohim, when meaning the true God, Jehovah, be plural or not, consult the following passages, where they will find it joined with adjectives, verbs, and pronouns plural.

"Gen 1:26 Genesis 3:22 Genesis 11:7 Genesis 20:13 Genesis 31:7, Genesis 31:53 Genesis 35:7. "Deu 4:7 Deuteronomy 5:23; Joshua 24:19 1 Samuel 4:8; 2 Samuel 7:23; "Psa 58:6; Isaiah 6:8; Jeremiah 10:10, Jeremiah 23:36. "See also Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 30:3; Psalm 149:2; Ecclesiastes 5:7, Ecclesiastes 12:1; Job 5:1; Isaiah 6:3, Isaiah 54:5, Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 11:12, or Hosea 12:1; Malachi 1:6; Daniel 5:18, Daniel 5:20, and Daniel 7:18, Daniel 7:22." - Parkhurst.
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Swindon, UK

#1798 Oct 26, 2012
As the word Elohim is the term by which the Divine Being is most generally expressed in the Old Testament, it may be necessary to consider it here more at large. It is a maxim that admits of no controversy, that every noun in the Hebrew language is derived from a verb, which is usually termed the radix or root, from which, not only the noun, but all the different flections of the verb, spring. This radix is the third person singular of the preterite or past tense. The ideal meaning of this root expresses some essential property of the thing which it designates, or of which it is an appellative. The root in Hebrew, and in its sister language, the Arabic, generally consists of three letters, and every word must be traced to its root in order to ascertain its genuine meaning, for there alone is this meaning to be found. In Hebrew and Arabic this is essentially necessary, and no man can safely criticise on any word in either of these languages who does not carefully attend to this point.

I mention the Arabic with the Hebrew for two reasons.

1. Because the two languages evidently spring from the same source, and have very nearly the same mode of construction.

2. Because the deficient roots in the Hebrew Bible are to be sought for in the Arabic language. The reason of this must be obvious, when it is considered that the whole of the Hebrew language is lost except what is in the Bible, and even a part of this book is written in Chaldee
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Swindon, UK

#1799 Oct 26, 2012
Now, as the English Bible does not contain the whole of the English language, so the Hebrew Bible does not contain the whole of the Hebrew. If a man meet with an English word which he cannot find in an ample concordance or dictionary to the Bible, he must of course seek for that word in a general English dictionary. In like manner, if a particular form of a Hebrew word occur that cannot be traced to a root in the Hebrew Bible, because the word does not occur in the third person singular of the past tense in the Bible, it is expedient, it is perfectly lawful, and often indispensably necessary, to seek the deficient root in the Arabic. For as the Arabic is still a living language, and perhaps the most copious in the universe, it may well be expected to furnish those terms which are deficient in the Hebrew Bible. And the reasonableness of this is founded on another maxim, viz., that either the Arabic was derived from the Hebrew, or the Hebrew from the Arabic. I shall not enter into this controversy; there are great names on both sides, and the decision of the question in either way will have the same effect on my argument. For if the Arabic were derived from the Hebrew, it must have been when the Hebrew was a living and complete language, because such is the Arabic now; and therefore all its essential roots we may reasonably expect to find there: but if, as Sir William Jones supposed, the Hebrew were derived from the Arabic, the same expectation is justified, the deficient roots in Hebrew may be sought for in the mother tongue. If, for example, we meet with a term in our ancient English language the meaning of which we find difficult to ascertain, common sense teaches us that we should seek for it in the Anglo-Saxon, from which our language springs; and, if necessary, go up to the Teutonic, from which the Anglo-Saxon was derived. No person disputes the legitimacy of this measure, and we find it in constant practice. I make these observations at the very threshold of my work, because the necessity of acting on this principle (seeking deficient Hebrew roots in the Arabic) may often occur, and I wish to speak once for all on the subject.
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Swindon, UK

#1800 Oct 26, 2012
The first sentence in the Scripture shows the propriety of having recourse to this principle. We have seen that the word אל&#14 92;ים Elohim is plural; we have traced our term God to its source, and have seen its signification; and also a general definition of the thing or being included under this term, has been tremblingly attempted. We should now trace the original to its root, but this root does not appear in the Hebrew Bible. Were the Hebrew a complete language, a pious reason might be given for this omission, viz., "As God is without beginning and without cause, as his being is infinite and underived, the Hebrew language consults strict propriety in giving no root whence his name can be deduced." Mr. Parkhurst, to whose pious and learned labors in Hebrew literature most Biblical students are indebted, thinks he has found the root in אל&#14 92; alah, he swore, bound himself by oath; and hence he calls the ever-blessed Trinity אל&#14 92;ים Elohim, as being bound by a conditional oath to redeem man, etc., etc. Most pious minds will revolt from such a definition, and will be glad with me to find both the noun and the root preserved in Arabic. Allah is the common name for God in the Arabic tongue, and often the emphatic is used. Now both these words are derived from the root alaha, he worshipped, adored, was struck with astonishment, fear, or terror; and hence, he adored with sacred horror and veneration, cum sacro horrore ac veneratione coluit, adoravit - Wilmet. Hence ilahon, fear, veneration, and also the object of religious fear, the Deity, the supreme God, the tremendous Being. This is not a new idea; God was considered in the same light among the ancient Hebrews; and hence Jacob swears by the fear of his father Isaac, Genesis 31:53. To complete the definition, Golius renders alaha, juvit, liberavit, et tutatus fuit, "he succoured, liberated, kept in safety, or defended." Thus from the ideal meaning of this most expressive root, we acquire the most correct notion of the Divine nature; for we learn that God is the sole object of adoration; that the perfections of his nature are such as must astonish all those who piously contemplate them, and fill with horror all who would dare to give his glory to another, or break his commandments; that consequently he should be worshipped with reverence and religious fear; and that every sincere worshipper may expect from him help in all his weaknesses, trials, difficulties, temptations, etc.,; freedom from the power, guilt, nature, and consequences of sin; and to be supported, defended, and saved to the uttermost, and to the end.
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Swindon, UK

#1801 Oct 26, 2012
Here then is one proof, among multitudes which shall be adduced in the course of this work, of the importance, utility, and necessity of tracing up these sacred words to their sources; and a proof also, that subjects which are supposed to be out of the reach of the common people may, with a little difficulty, be brought on a level with the most ordinary capacity.

In the beginning - Before the creative acts mentioned in this chapter all was Eternity. Time signifies duration measured by the revolutions of the heavenly bodies: but prior to the creation of these bodies there could be no measurement of duration, and consequently no time; therefore in the beginning must necessarily mean the commencement of time which followed, or rather was produced by, God's creative acts, as an effect follows or is produced by a cause.

continued...
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Swindon, UK

#1802 Oct 26, 2012
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. By the heaven some understand the supreme heaven, the heaven of heavens, the habitation of God, and of the holy angels; and this being made perfect at once, no mention is after made of it, as of the earth; and it is supposed that the angels were at this time created, since they were present at the laying of the foundation of the earth, Job 38:6 but rather the lower and visible heavens are meant, at least are not excluded, that is, the substance of them; as yet being imperfect and unadorned; the expanse not yet made, or the ether and air not yet stretched out; nor any light placed in them, or adorned with the sun, moon, and stars: so the earth is to be understood, not of that properly so called, as separated from the waters, that is, the dry land afterwards made to appear; but the whole mass of earth and water before their separation, and when in their unformed and unadorned state, described in the next verse: in short, these words represent the visible heavens and the terraqueous globe, in their chaotic state, as they were first brought into being by almighty power. The prefixed to both words is, as Aben Ezra observes, expressive of notification or demonstration, as pointing at "those" heavens, and "this earth"; and shows that things visible are here spoken of, whatever is above us, or below us to be seen: for in the Arabic language, as he also observes, the word for "heaven", comes from one which signifies high or above (a); as that for "earth" from one that signifies low and beneath, or under (b). Now it was the matter or substance of these that was first created; for the word set before them signifies substance, as both Aben Ezra and (c) Kimchi affirm. Maimonides (d) observes, that this particle, according to their wise men, is the same as "with"; and then the sense is, God created with the heavens whatsoever are in the heavens, and with the earth whatsoever are in the earth; that is, the substance of all things in them; or all things in them were seminally together: for so he illustrates it by an husbandman sowing seeds of divers kinds in the earth, at one and the same time; some of which come up after one day, and some after two days, and some after three days, though all sown together. These are said to be "created", that is, to be made out of nothing; for what pre-existent matter to this chaos could there be out of which they could be formed? And the apostle says, "through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear", Hebrews 11:3. And though this word is sometimes used, and even in this chapter, of the production of creatures out of pre-existent matter, as in Genesis 1:21 yet, as Nachmanides observes, there is not in the holy language any word but this here used, by which is signified the bringing anything into being out of nothing; and many of the Jewish interpreters, as Aben Ezra, understand by creation here, a production of something into being out of nothing; and Kimchi says (e) that creation is a making some new thing, and a bringing something out of nothing: and it deserves notice, that this word is only used of God; and creation must be the work of God, for none but an almighty power could produce something out of nothing. The word used is Elohimö, which some derive from another, which signifies power, creation being an act of almighty power: but it is rather to be derived from the root in the Arabic language, which signifies to worship (f), God being the object of all religious worship and adoration; and very properly does Moses make use of this appellation here, to teach us, that he who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth is the sole object of worship; as he was of the worship of the Jewish nation, at the head of which Moses was.
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Swindon, UK

#1803 Oct 26, 2012
It is in the plural number, and being joined to a verb of the singular, is thought by many to be designed to point unto us the mystery of a plurality, or trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence: but whether or no this is sufficient to support that doctrine, which is to be established without it; yet there is no doubt to be made, that all the three Persons in the Godhead were concerned in the creation of all things, see Psalm 33:6. The Heathen poet Orpheus has a notion somewhat similar to this, who writes, that all things were made by one Godhead of three names, and that this God is all things (g): and now all these things, the heaven and the earth, were made by God "in the beginning", either in the beginning of time, or when time began, as it did with the creatures, it being nothing but the measure of a creature's duration, and therefore could not be until such existed; or as Jarchi interprets it, in the beginning of the creation, when God first began to create; and is best explained by our Lord, "the beginning of the creation which God created", Mark 13:19 and the sense is, either that as soon as God created, or the first he did create were the heavens and the earth; to which agrees the Arabic version; not anything was created before them: or in connection with the following words, thus, "when first", or "in the beginning", when "God created the heavens and the earth", then "the earth was without form", &c (h). The Jerusalem Targum renders it, "in wisdom God created"; see Proverbs 3:19 and some of the ancients have interpreted it of the wisdom of God, the Logos and Son of God. From hence we learn, that the world was not eternal, either as to the matter or form of it, as Aristotle, and some other philosophers, have asserted, but had a beginning; and that its being is not owing to the fortuitous motion and conjunction of atoms, but to the power and wisdom of God, the first cause and sole author of all things; and that there was not any thing created before the heaven and the earth were: hence those phrases, before the foundation of the world, and before the world began, &c. are expressive of eternity: this utterly destroys the notion of the pre-existence of the souls of men, or of the soul of the Messiah: false therefore is what the Jews say (i), that paradise, the righteous, Israel, Jerusalem, &c. were created before the world; unless they mean, that these were foreordained by God to be, which perhaps is their sense.

(a) "altus fuit, eminuit", Golius, col. 1219.(b) "quicquid humile,
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Swindon, UK

#1804 Oct 26, 2012
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." - Heaven and earth have not existed from all eternity, but had a beginning; nor did they arise by emanation from an absolute substance, but were created by God. This sentence, which stands at the head of the records of revelation, is not a mere heading, nor a summary of the history of the creation, but a declaration of the primeval act of God, by which the universe was called into being. That this verse is not a heading merely, is evident from the fact that the following account of the course of the creation commences with w (and), which connects the different acts of creation with the fact expressed in Genesis 1:1, as the primary foundation upon which they rest. בּ&#15 12;שׁ& #1497;ח (in the beginning) is used absolutely, like ἐν ἀρ χῆ ͅ in John 1:1, and מר&#14 88;שׁ& #1497;ח in Isaiah 46:10. The following clause cannot be treated as subordinate, either by rendering it, "in the beginning when God created ..., the earth was," etc., or "in the beginning when God created...(but the earth was then a chaos, etc.), God said, Let there be light" (Ewald and Bunsen). The first is opposed to the grammar of the language, which would require Genesis 1:2 to commence with הא&#15 12;ץ ות&#14 68;הי; the second to the simplicity of style which pervades the whole chapter, and to which so involved a sentence would be intolerable, apart altogether from the fact that this construction is invented for the simple purpose of getting rid of the doctrine of a creatio ex nihilo, which is so repulsive to modern Pantheism. רא&#15 13;ׁי& #1495; in itself is a relative notion, indicating the commencement of a series of things or events; but here the context gives it the meaning of the very first beginning, the commencement of the world, when time itself began. The statement, that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, not only precludes the idea of the eternity of the world a parte ante, but shows that the creation of the heaven and the earth was the actual beginning of all things. The verb בּ&#15 12;א, indeed, to judge from its use in Joshua 17:15, Joshua 17:18, where it occurs in the Piel (to hew out), means literally "to cut, or new," but in Kal it always means to create, and is only applied to a divine creation, the production of that which had no existence before. It is never joined with an accusative of the material, although it does not exclude a pre-existent material unconditionally, but is used for the creation of man (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:1-2), and of everything new that God creates, whether in the kingdom of nature (Numbers 16:30) or of that of grace (Exodus 34:10; Psalm 51:10, etc.). In this verse, however, the existence of any primeval material is precluded by the object created: "the heaven and the earth." This expression is frequently employed to denote the world, or universe, for which there was no single word in the Hebrew language; the universe consisting of a twofold whole, and the distinction between heaven and earth being essentially connected with the notion of the world, the fundamental condition of its historical development (vid., Genesis 14:19, Genesis 14:22; Exodus 31:17). In the earthly creation this division is repeated in the distinction between spirit and nature; and in man, as the microcosm, in that between spirit and body.
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Swindon, UK

#1805 Oct 26, 2012
Through sin this distinction was changed into an actual opposition between heaven and earth, flesh and spirit; but with the complete removal of sin, this opposition will cease again, though the distinction between heaven and earth, spirit and body, will remain, in such a way, however, that the earthly and corporeal will be completely pervaded by the heavenly and spiritual, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, and the earthly body being transfigured into a spiritual body (Revelation 21:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:35.). Hence, if in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, "there is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form, which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning" (Delitzsch). This is also shown in the connection between our verse and the one which follows: "and the earth was without form and void," not before, but when, or after God created it. From this it is evident that the void and formless state of the earth was not uncreated, or without beginning. At the same time it is obvious from the creative acts which follow (vv. 3-18), that the heaven and earth, as God created them in the beginning, were not the well-ordered universe, but the world in its elementary form; just as Euripides applies the expression οὐ ραν ὸς και ̀ γαι ͂α to the undivided mass (οπ&#966 ;ὴ&#956 ;ί&#945 ;), which was afterwards formed into heaven and earth.
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Swindon, UK

#1806 Oct 26, 2012
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Geneva Study Bible
In the {a} beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The Argument - Moses in effect declares three things, which are in this book chiefly to be considered: First, that the world and all things in it were created by God, and to praise his Name for the infinite graces, with which he had endued him, fell willingly from God through disobedience, who yet for his own mercies sake restored him to life, and confirmed him in the same by his promise of Christ to come, by whom he should overcome Satan, death and hell. Secondly, that the wicked, unmindful of God's most excellent benefits, remained still in their wickedness, and so falling most horribly from sin to sin, provoked God (who by his preachers called them continually to repentance) at length to destroy the whole world. Thirdly, he assures us by the examples of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the rest of the patriarchs, that his mercies never fail those whom he chooses to be his Church, and to profess his Name in earth, but in all their afflictions and persecutions he assists them, sends comfort, and delivers them, so that the beginning, increase, preservation and success of it might be attributed to God only. Moses shows by the examples of Cain, Ishmael, Esau and others, who were noble in man's judgment, that this Church depends not on the estimation and nobility of the world: and also by the fewness of those, who have at all times worshipped him purely according to his word that it stands not in the multitude, but in the poor and despised, in the small flock and little number, that man in his wisdom might be confounded, and the name of God praised forever.

(a) First of all, and before any creature was, God made heaven and earth out of nothing.
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Swindon, UK

#1807 Oct 26, 2012
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Wesley's Notes
1:1 Observe here.
1. The effect produced, The heaven and the earth - That is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe. But 'tis only the visible part of the creation that Moses designs to give an account of. Yet even in this there are secrets which cannot be fathomed, nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth, we may infer the eternal power and godhead of the great Creator. And let our make and place, as men, mind us of our duty, as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet. Observe
2. The author and cause of this great work, God. The Hebrew word is Elohim; which
(1.) seems to mean The Covenant God, being derived from a word that signifies to swear.
(2.) The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The plural name of God in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many, tho' he be but one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a favour of death unto death, hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a favour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, tho' but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New. Observe
3. The manner how this work was effected; God created, that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre - existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. Observe
4. When this work was produced; In the beginning - That is, in the beginning of time. Time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?
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Swindon, UK

#1808 Oct 26, 2012
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Scofield Reference Notes
SCOFIELD REFERENCE NOTES

(Old Scofield 1917 Edition)

A Panoramic View of the Bible (See also THE PENTATEUCH, Book Introduction, and Notes associated with Genesis 1:1)

The Bible, incomparably the most widely circulated of books, at once provokes and baffles study. Even the non-believer in its authority rightly feels that it is unintelligent to remain in almost total ignorance of the most famous and ancient of books. And yet most, even of sincere believers, soon retire from any serious effort to master the content of the sacred writings. The reason is not far to seek. It is found in the fact that no particular portion of Scripture is to be intelligently comprehended apart from some conception of its place in the whole. For the Bible story and message is like a picture wrought out in mosaics: each book, chapter, verse, and even word forms a necessary part, and has its own appointed place. It is, therefore, indispensable to any interesting and fruitful study of the Bible that a general knowledge of it be gained.
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Swindon, UK

#1809 Oct 26, 2012
First. The Bible is one book. Seven great marks attest this unity.

(1) From Genesis the Bible bears witness to one God. Wherever he speaks or acts he is consistent with himself, and with the total revelation concerning him.

(2) The Bible forms one continuous story - the story of humanity in relation to God.

(3) The Bible hazards the most unlikely predictions concerning the future, and, when the centuries have brought round the appointed time, records their fulfilment.

(4) The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth. Nothing is told all at once, and once for all. The law is, "first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn." Without the possibility of collusion, often with centuries between, one writer of Scripture takes up an earlier revelation, adds to it, lays down the pen, and in due time another man moved by the Holy Spirit, and another, and another, add new details till the whole is complete.

(5) From beginning to end the Bible testifies to one redemption.

(6) From beginning to end the Bible has one great theme -the person and work of the Christ.

(7) And, finally, these writers, some forty-four in number, writing through twenty centuries, have produced a perfect harmony of doctrine in progressive unfolding. This is, to every candid mind, the unanswerable proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible.
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Swindon, UK

#1810 Oct 26, 2012
Second. The Bible is a book of books. Sixty-six books make up the one Book. Considered with reference to the unity of the one book the separate books may be regarded as chapters. But that is but one side of the truth, for each of the sixty-six books is complete in itself, and has its own theme and analysis. In the present edition of the Bible these are fully shown in the introductions and divisions. It is therefore of the utmost moment that the books be studied in the light of their distinctive themes. Genesis, for instance, is the book of beginnings--the seed-plot of the whole Bible. Matthew is the book of the King, & etc.

Third. The books of the Bible fall into groups. Speaking broadly there are five great divisions in the Scriptures, and these may be con- veniently fixed in the memory by five key-words, Christ being the one theme (Lk 24:25-27).
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Swindon, UK

#1811 Oct 26, 2012
PREPARATION

The OT

MANIFESTATION

The Gospels

PROPAGATION

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Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The Old Testament

THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED GENESIS. Commentary by Robert Jamieson

CHAPTER 1

Ge 1:1, 2. The Creation of Heaven and Earth.

1. In the beginning-a period of remote and unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages; and so the phrase is used in Pr 8:22, 23.

God-the name of the Supreme Being, signifying in Hebrew, "Strong," "Mighty." It is expressive of omnipotent power; and by its use here in the plural form, is obscurely taught at the opening of the Bible, a doctrine clearly revealed in other parts of it, namely, that though God is one, there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead-Father, Son, and Spirit, who were engaged in the creative work (Pr 8:27; Joh 1:3, 10; Eph 3:9; Heb 1:2; Job 26:13).

created-not formed from any pre-existing materials, but made out of nothing.

the heaven and the earth-the universe. This first verse is a general introduction to the inspired volume, declaring the great and important truth that all things had a beginning; that nothing throughout the wide extent of nature existed from eternity, originated by chance, or from the skill of any inferior agent; but that the whole universe was produced by the creative power of God (Ac 17:24; Ro 11:36). After this preface, the narrative is confined to the earth.

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Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
1:1,2 The first verse of the Bible gives us a satisfying and useful account of the origin of the earth and the heavens. The faith of humble Christians understands this better than the fancy of the most learned men. From what we see of heaven and earth, we learn the power of the great Creator. And let our make and place as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet. The Son of God, one with the Father, was with him when he made the world; nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing was made without him. Oh, what high thoughts should there be in our minds, of that great God whom we worship, and of that great Mediator in whose name we pray! And here, at the beginning of the sacred volume, we read of that Divine Spirit, whose work upon the heart of man is so often mentioned in other parts of the Bible. Observe, that at first there was nothing desirable to be seen, for the world was without form, and void; it was confusion, and emptiness. In like manner the work of grace in the soul is a new creation: and in a graceless soul, one that is not born again, there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work: it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark, it is darkness itself: this is our condition by nature, till Almighty grace works a change in us.
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Swindon, UK

#1813 Oct 26, 2012

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
- Section I-- The Creation

- The Absolute Creation

רא&#15 13;ׁי& #1514; rḕsh&# 305;̂̂yt, the "head-part, beginning" of a thing, in point of time Genesis 10:10, or value Proverbs 1:7. Its opposite is אח&#15 12;ית 'achărı ̂̂yth Isaiah 46:10. בר&#14 88;שׁ& #1497;ת rê'shı& #770;̂yth, "in the beginning," is always used in reference to time. Here only is it taken absolutely.

בר&#14 88; bārā', "create, give being to something new." It always has God for its subject. Its object may be anything: matter Genesis 1:1; animal life Genesis 1:21; spiritual life Genesis 1:27. Hence, creation is not confined to a single point of time. Whenever anything absolutely new - that is, not involved in anything previously extant - is called into existence, there is creation Numbers 16:30. Any thing or event may also be said to be created by Him, who created the whole system of nature to which it belongs Malachi 2:10. The verb in its simple form occurs forty-eight times (of which eleven are in Genesis, fourteen in the whole Pentateuch, and twenty-one in Isaiah), and always in one sense.

אל&#14 92;ים 'ĕlohı& #770;̂ym, "God." The noun אל&#14 93;ה 'elôah or אל&#14 92; 'eloah is found in the Hebrew scriptures fifty-seven times in the singular (of which two are in Deuteronomy, and forty-one in the book of Job), and about three thousand times in the plural, of which seventeen are in Job. The Chaldee form אל&#14 92; 'elâh occurs about seventy-four times in the singular, and ten in the plural. The Hebrew letter ה (h) is proved to be radical, not only by bearing mappiq, but also by keeping its ground before a formative ending. The Arabic verb, with the same radicals, seems rather to borrow from it than to lend the meaning coluit, "worshipped," which it sometimes has. The root probably means to be "lasting, binding, firm, strong." Hence, the noun means the Everlasting, and in the plural, the Eternal Powers. It is correctly rendered God, the name of the Eternal and Supreme Being in our language, which perhaps originally meant lord or ruler. And, like this, it is a common or appellative noun. This is evinced by its direct use and indirect applications.
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Swindon, UK

#1814 Oct 26, 2012
Its direct use is either proper or improper, according to the object to which it is applied. Every instance of its proper use manifestly determines its meaning to be the Eternal, the Almighty, who is Himself without beginning, and has within Himself the power of causing other things, personal and impersonal, to be, and on this event is the sole object of reverence and primary obedience to His intelligent creation.

Its improper use arose from the lapse of man into false notions of the object of worship. Many real or imaginary beings came to be regarded as possessed of the attributes, and therefore entitled to the reverence belonging to Deity, and were in consequence called gods by their mistaken votaries, and by others who had occasion to speak of them. This usage at once proves it to be a common noun, and corroborates its proper meaning. When thus employed, however, it immediately loses most of its inherent grandeur, and sometimes dwindles down to the bare notion of the supernatural or the extramundane. In this manner it seems to be applied by the witch of Endor to the unexpected apparition that presented itself to her 1 Samuel 28:13.

Its indirect applications point with equal steadiness to this primary and fundamental meaning. Thus, it is employed in a relative and well-defined sense to denote one appointed of God to stand in a certain divine relation to another. This relation is that of authoritative revealer or administrator of the will of God. Thus, we are told John 10:34 that "he called them gods, to whom the word of God came." Thus, Moses became related to Aaron as God to His prophet Exodus 4:16, and to Pharaoh as God to His creature Exodus 7:1. Accordingly, in Psalm 82:6, we find this principle generalized: "I had said, gods are ye, and sons of the Highest all of you." Here the divine authority vested in Moses is expressly recognized in those who sit in Moses' seat as judges for God. They exercised a function of God among the people, and so were in God's stead to them. Man, indeed, was originally adapted for ruling, being made in the image of God, and commanded to have dominion over the inferior creatures. The parent also is instead of God in some respect to his children, and the sovereign holds the relation of patriarch to his subjects. Still, however, we are not fully warranted in translating אל&#14 92;ים 'ĕlohı& #770;ym, "judges" in Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7-8, Exodus 22:27 (Hebrew versification: 8, 9, 28), because a more easy, exact, and impressive sense is obtained from the proper rendering.
paragraph

Swindon, UK

#1815 Oct 26, 2012
The word מל&#14 88;ך mel'āk, "angel," as a relative or official term, is sometimes applied to a person of the Godhead; but the process is not reversed. The Septuagint indeed translates אל&#14 92;ים 'ĕlohı& #770;ym in several instances by ἄ γγε λοι angeloi Psalm 8:6; Psalm 97:7; Psalm 138:1. The correctness of this is seemingly supported by the quotations in Hebrews 1:6. and Hebrews 2:7. These, however, do not imply that the renderings are absolutely correct, but only suffiently so for the purpose of the writer. And it is evident they are so, because the original is a highly imaginative figure, by which a class is conceived to exist, of which in reality only one of the kind is or can be. Now the Septuagint, either imagining, from the occasional application of the official term "angel" to God, that the angelic office somehow or sometimes involved the divine nature, or viewing some of the false gods of the pagan as really angels, and therefore seemingly wishing to give a literal turn to the figure, substituted the word ἄ γγε λοι angeloi as an interpretation for אל&#14 92;ים 'ĕlohı& #770;ym. This free translation was sufficient for the purpose of the inspired author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, inasmuch as the worship of all angels Hebrews 1:6 in the Septuagintal sense of the term was that of the highest rank of dignitaries under God; and the argument in the latter passage Hebrews 2:7 turns not on the words, "thou madest him a little lower than the angels," but upon the sentence, "thou hast put all things under his feet." Moreover, the Septuagint is by no means consistent in this rendering of the word in Similar passages (see Psalm 82:1; Psalm 97:1; 1 Samuel 28:13).
paragraph

Swindon, UK

#1816 Oct 26, 2012
With regard to the use of the word, it is to be observed that the plural of the Chaldee form is uniformly plural in sense. The English version of בר&#14 70;אל& #1492;ין bar-'elâhı ̂yn, "the Son of God" Daniel 3:25 is the only exception to this. But since it is the phrase of a pagan, the real meaning may be, "a son of the gods." On the contrary, the plural of the Hebrew form is generally employed to denote the one God. The singular form, when applied to the true God, is naturally suggested by the prominent thought of his being the only one. The plural, when so applied, is generally accompanied with singular conjuncts, and conveys the predominant conception of a plurality in the one God - a plurality which must be perfectly consistent with his being the only possible one of his kind. The explanations of this use of the plural - namely, that it is a relic of polytheism, that it indicates the association of the angels with the one God in a common or collective appellation, and that it expresses the multiplicity of attributes subsisting in him - are not satisfactory. All we can say is, that it indicates such a plurality in the only one God as makes his nature complete and creation possible. Such a plurality in unity must have dawned upon the mind of Adam. It is afterward, we conceive, definitely revealed in the doctrine of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
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Swindon, UK

#1817 Oct 26, 2012
שׁ&#15 02;ים shāmayı ̂m, "skies, heavens," being the "high" (shamay, "be high," Arabic) or the "airy" region; the overarching dome of space, with all its revolving orbs.

אר&#15 09; 'erets, "land, earth, the low or the hard." The underlying surface of land.

The verb is in the perfect form, denoting a completed act. The adverbial note of time, "in the beginning," determines it to belong to the past. To suit our idiom it may, therefore, be strictly rendered "had created." The skies and the land are the universe divided into its two natural parts by an earthly spectator. The absolute beginning of time, and the creation of all things, mutually determine each other.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" Genesis 1:1. This great introductory sentence of the book of God is equal in weight to the whole of its subsequent communications concerning the kingdom of nature.

continued...

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