But is now made manifest - This purpose of God to save the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and call them to the same state of salvation by Jesus Christ, was, previously to the manifestation of Christ, generally hidden; and what was revealed of it, was only through the means of types and ceremonies.
Who hath abolished death - Καταργησαντος μεν τον θανατον . Who has counterworked death; operated against his operations, destroyed his batteries, undersunk and destroyed his mines, and rendered all his instruments and principles of attack useless. By death here, we are not to understand merely natural death, but that corruption and decomposition which take place in consequence of it; and which would be naturally endless, but for the work and energy of Christ. By him alone, comes the resurrection of the body; and through him eternal life and glory are given to the souls of believers.
Brought life and immortality to light - The literal translation of the original is, He hath illustrated life and incorruption by the Gospel. Life eternal, or the doctrine of life eternal, even implying the resurrection of the body, was not unknown among the Jews. They expected this, for they found it in their prophets. It abounded among them long before the incarnation: and they certainly never borrowed any notion in it from the Christians; therefore the Gospel could not be stated as bringing to light what certainly was in the light before that time. But this doctrine was never illustrated and demonstrated before; it existed in promise, but had never been practically exhibited. Jesus Christ died, and lay under the empire of death; he arose again from the dead, and thus illustrated the doctrine of the resurrection: he took the same human body up into heaven, in the sight of his disciples; and ever appears in the presence of God for us; and thus, has illustrated the doctrine of incorruption. In his death, resurrection, and ascension, the doctrine of eternal life, and the resurrection of the human body, and its final incorruptibility, are fully illustrated by example, and established by fact.
But is now made manifest - The purpose to save us was long concealed in the divine mind, but the Saviour came that he might make it known.
Who hath abolished death - That is, he has made it so certain that death will be abolished, that it may be spoken of as already done. It is remarkable how often, in this chapter, Paul speaks of what God intends to do as so certain, that it may be spoken of as a thing that is already done. In the meaning of the expression here, see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:54; compare the notes at Hebrews 2:14. The meaning is, that, through the gospel, death will cease to reign, and over those who are saved there will be no such thing as we now understand by dying.
And hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel - This is one of the great and glorious achievements of the gospel, and one of the things by which it is distinguished from every other system. The word rendered “hath brought to light” - φωτίζω phōtizō- means to give light, to shine; then to give light to, to shine upon; and then to bring to light, to make known. Robinson, Lexicon. The sense is, that these things were before obscure or unknown, and that they have been disclosed to us by the gospel. It is, of course, not meant that there were no intimations of these truths before, or that nothing was known of them - for the Old Testament shed some light on them; but that they are fully disclosed to man in the gospel. It is there that all ambiguity and doubt are removed, and that the evidence is so clearly stated as to leave no doubt on the subject. The intimations of a future state, among the wisest of the pagan, were certainly very obscure, and their hopes very faint.
The hope of a future state is styled by Cicero, Futurorum quoddam augurium saeculorum - “a conjecture or surmise of future ages. Tusc. Q. 1. Seneca says it is “that which our wise men do promise, but they do not prove.” Epis. 102. Socrates, even at his death, said, “I hope to go hence to good men, but of that I am not very confident; nor doth it become any wise man to be positive that so it will be. I must now die, and you shall live; but which of us is in the better state, the living or the dead, only God knows.” Pliny says, “Neither soul nor body has any more sense after death, than before it was born.” Cicero begins his discourse on the subject with a profession that he intended to deliver nothing as fixed and certain, but only as probable, and as having some likelihood of truth. And, having mentioned the different sentiments of philosophers, he concludes, - “Which of these opinions is true, some god must tell us; which is most like to truth, is a great question.”
See Whitby, “in loc.” Such doubts existed in regard to the immortality of the soul; but of the resurrection and future life of the body, they had no conception whatever; compare the notes at Acts 17:32. With what propriety, then, may it be said that these doctrines were brought to light through the gospel! Man would never have known them if it had not been for revelation. The word “life,” here, refers undoubtedly to life in the future world. The question was, whether man would live at all; and that question has been determined by the gospel. The word “immortality” means, properly, “incorruption, incapacity of decay;” and may be applied either to the body or the soul. See it explained in the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:42. It is used in reference to the body, in 1 Corinthians 15:42, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; in Romans 2:7, it is applied to the future state of rewards, without special reference to the body or soul. Here it seems to refer to the future state as that in which there will be no corruption or decay.
Many suppose that the phrase “life and immortality,” here, is used by hendiadys (two things for one), as meaning immortal or incorruptible life. The gospel thus has truths not found in any other system, and contains what man never would have discovered of himself. As fair a trial had been made among the philosophers of Greece and Rome as could be made, to determine whether the unaided powers of the human mind could arrive at these great truths; and their most distinguished philosophers confessed that they could arrive at no certainty on the subject. In this state of things, the gospel comes and reveals truths worthy of all acceptation; sheds light where man had desired it; solves the great problems which had for ages perplexed the human mind, and discloses to man all that he could wish - that not only the soul will live for ever, but that the body will be raised from the grave, and that the entire man will become immortal. How strange it is that men will not embrace the gospel! Socrates and Cicero would have hailed its light, and welcomed its truths, as those which their whole nature panted to know.
Contrast this with the riches of glory, the wealth of praise pouring forth from immortal tongues, the millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration. But He humbled Himself, and took mortality upon Him. As a member of the human family, He was mortal; but as a God, He was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion; but He voluntarily laid down His life, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. He bore the sins of the world, and endured the penalty, which rolled like a mountain upon His divine soul. He yielded up His life a sacrifice, that man should not eternally die. He died, not through being compelled to die, but by His own free will. This was humility. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in one gift to save fallen man. He brought into His human nature all the life-giving energies that human beings will need and must receive. 5BC 1127.1
Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have helped His human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from His divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man's nature. He did this that the Scripture might be fulfilled; and the plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps in His humiliation, that He must descend to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world. What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility. 5BC 1127.2
But He stepped still lower; the man must humble Himself as a man to bear insult, reproach, shameful accusations, and abuse. There seemed to be no safe place for Him in His own territory. He had to flee from place to place for His life. He was betrayed by one of His disciples; He was denied by one of His most zealous followers. He was mocked. He was crowned with a crown of thorns. He was scourged. He was forced to bear the burden of the cross. He was not insensible to this contempt and ignominy. He submitted, but, oh! He felt the bitterness as no other being could feel it. He was pure, holy, and undefiled, yet arraigned as a criminal! The adorable Redeemer stepped down from the highest exaltation. Step by step He humbled Himself to die—but what a death! It was the most shameful, the most cruel the death upon the cross as a malefactor. He did not die as a hero in the eyes of the world, loaded with honors, as men in battle. He died as a condemned criminal, suspended between the heavens and the earth—died a lingering death of shame, exposed to the tauntings and revilings of a debased, crime-loaded, profligate multitude! “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” Psalm 22:7. He was numbered with the transgressors, He expired amid derision, and His kinsmen according to the flesh disowned Him. His mother beheld His humiliation, and He was forced to see the sword pierce her heart. He endured the cross, despised the shame. He made it of small account in consideration of the results that He was working out in behalf of, not only the inhabitants of this speck of a world, but the whole universe, every world which God had created. 5BC 1127.3Read in context »
“Search the scriptures,” Christ declared, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Those who dig beneath the surface discover the hidden gems of truth. The Holy Spirit is present with the earnest searcher. Its illumination shines upon the Word, stamping the truth upon the mind with a new, fresh importance. The searcher is filled with a sense of peace and joy never before felt. The preciousness of truth is realized as never before. A new, heavenly light shines upon the Word, illuminating it as though every letter were tinged with gold. God Himself has spoken to the mind and heart, making the Word spirit and life. 2SM 39.1
Every true searcher of the Word lifts his heart to God, imploring the aid of the Spirit. And he soon discovers that which carried him above all the fictitious statements of the would-be teacher, whose weak, tottering theories are not sustained by the Word of the living God. These theories were invented by men who had not learned the first great lesson, that God's Spirit and life are in His Word. If they had received in the heart the eternal element contained in the Word of God, they would see how tame and expressionless are all efforts to get something new to create a sensation. They need to learn the very first principles of the Word of God; they would then have the word of life for the people, who will soon distinguish the chaff from the wheat, for Jesus left His promise with His disciples.—Letter 132, 1900. 2SM 39.2Read in context »
Giving his charge to Timothy, Paul says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:11-16). 1SM 297.1
Writing again, Paul says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:15-17). 1SM 297.2Read in context »
Christ proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He, the world's Redeemer, has bruised the serpent's head, depriving him of all power ever to make men feel his scorpion sting; for He has brought life and immortality to light. The gates of eternal life are thrown open to all who believe on Jesus Christ. All believers who pass through a natural death, have, through eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, eternal life in them, which is the life of Jesus Christ. In dying, Jesus has made it impossible for those who believe on Him to die eternally.... 7BC 926.1
Christ lived and died as a man, that He might be God both of the living and of the dead. It was to make it impossible for men to lose eternal life if they believe on Him. The life of men and women is precious in the sight of God; for Christ has purchased that life by being executed in their stead. Thus He made it possible for us to attain to immortality (Letter 97, 1898). 7BC 926.2
Creator and Creature United in Christ—In Christ were united the divine and the human—the Creator and the creature. The nature of God, whose law had been transgressed, and the nature of Adam, the transgressor, meet in Jesus—the Son of God, and the Son of man. And having with His own blood paid the price of redemption, having passed through man's experience, having in man's behalf met and conquered temptation, having, though Himself sinless, borne the shame and guilt and burden of sin, He becomes man's Advocate and Intercessor. What an assurance here to the tempted and struggling soul, what an assurance to the witnessing universe, that Christ will be “a merciful and faithful high priest” (Manuscript 141, 1901)! 7BC 926.3
Edenic Mind of Man Restored—Jesus became a man that He might mediate between man and God. He clothed His divinity with humanity, He associated with the human race, that with His long human arm He might encircle humanity, and with His divine arm grasp the throne of Divinity. And this, that He might restore to man the original mind which he lost in Eden through Satan's alluring temptation; that man might realize that it is for his present and eternal good to obey the requirements of God. Disobedience is not in accordance with the nature which God gave to man in Eden (Letter 121, 1897). 7BC 926.4
(2 Peter 1:4.) A Divine Culture for Christians—Divine culture brings perfection. If in connection with God the work is carried forward, the human agent, through Christ, will day by day gain victory and honor in the battle. Through the grace given he will overcome, and will be placed on vantage ground. In his relation to Christ he will be bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, one with Christ in a peculiar relationship, because Christ took the humanity of man. He became subject to temptation, endangering as it were, His divine attributes. Satan sought, by the constant and curious devices of his cunning, to make Christ yield to temptation. Man must pass over the ground over which Christ has passed. As Christ overcame every temptation which Satan brought against Him, so man is to overcome. And those who strive earnestly to overcome are brought into a oneness with Christ that the angels in heaven can never know. 7BC 926.5
The divine culture of men and women will be carried forward to completion only as they are partakers of the divine nature. Thus they may overcome as Christ overcame in their behalf. Through the grace given, fallen man may be placed on vantage ground. Through toil, through patient trust and faith in Jesus Christ, through faithful continuance in well-doing, he may rise to spiritual victory (Letter 5, 1900). 7BC 926.6
Full Obedience Possible Through Christ—Christ came to the earth, taking humanity and standing as man's representative, to show in the controversy with Satan that man, as God created him, connected with the Father and the Son, could obey every divine requirement (The Signs of the Times, June 9, 1898). 7BC 926.7
16 (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus the Friend of Sinners—Jesus came to the world not as an angel of light; we could not have endured His glory if He had come thus. One angel at the tomb of Christ was of such exceeding brightness that the Roman guard fell powerless to the ground. As the angel came from the heavens, he parted the darkness from his track, and the sentinels could not endure his glory; they fell as dead men to the earth. Suppose that Jesus had come in the glory of an angel, His brightness would have extinguished the feeble life of mortal men. 7BC 926.8Read in context »