And, having made peace through the blood of his cross - Peace between God and man; for man being in a sinful state, and there being no peace to the wicked, it required a reconciliation to be made to restore peace between heaven and earth; but peace could not be made without an atonement for sin, and the consequence shows that the blood of Christ shed on the cross was necessary to make this atonement.
To reconcile all things unto himself - The enmity was on the part of the creature; though God is angry with the wicked every day, yet he is never unwilling to be reconciled. But man, whose carnal mind is enmity to God, is naturally averse from this reconciliation; it requires, therefore, the blood of the cross to atone for the sin, and the influence of the Spirit to reconcile the transgressor to him against whom he has offended! See the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:19, etc.
Things in earth, or things in heaven - Much has been said on this very obscure clause; but, as it is my object not to write dissertations but notes, I shall not introduce the opinions of learned men, which have as much ingenuity as variety to recommend them. If the phrase be not a kind of collective phrase to signify all the world, or all mankind, as Dr. Hammond supposed the things in heaven may refer, according to some, to those persons who died under the Old Testament dispensation, and who could not have a title to glory but through the sacrificial death of Christ: and the apostle may have intended these merely to show that without this sacrifice no human beings could be saved, not only those who were then on the earth, and to whom in their successive generations the Gospel should be preached, but even those who had died before the incarnation; and, as those of them that were faithful were now in a state of blessedness, they could not have arrived there but through the blood of the cross, for the blood of calves and goats could not take away sin. After all, the apostle probably means the Jews and the Gentiles; the state of the former being always considered a sort of Divine or celestial state, while that of the latter was reputed to be merely earthly, without any mixture of spiritual or heavenly good. It is certain that a grand part of our Lord's design, in his incarnation and death, was to reconcile the Jews and the Gentiles, and make them one fold under himself, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. That the enmity of the Jews was great against the Gentiles is well known, and that the Gentiles held them in supreme contempt is not less so. It was therefore an object worthy of the mercy of God to form a scheme that might reconcile these two grand divisions of mankind; and, as it was his purpose to reconcile and make them one, we learn from this circumstance, as well as from many others, that his design was to save the whole human race.
And having made peace - Margin, “making.” The Greek will bear either. The meaning is, that by his atonement he produces reconciliation between those who were alienated from each other; see the notes at Ephesians 2:14. It does not mean here that he had actually effected peace by his death, but that he had laid the foundation for it; he had done that which would secure it.
By the blood of his cross - By his blood shed on the cross. That blood, making atonement for sin, was the means of making reconciliation between God and man. On the meaning of the word “blood,” as used in this connection, see the notes at Romans 3:25.
By him to reconcile all things to himself - On the meaning of the word reconcile, see the Matthew 5:24, note; Romans 5:10, note, and 2 Corinthians 5:18, note. When it is said that “it pleased the Father by Christ to reconcile all things to himself,” the declaration must be understood with some limitation.
(1) it relates only to those things which are in heaven and earth - for those only are specified. Nothing is said of the inhabitants of hell, whether fallen angels, or the spirits of wicked men who are there.
(2) it cannot mean that all things are actually reconciled - for that never has been true. Multitudes on earth have remained alienated from God, and have lived and died his enemies.
(3) it can mean then, only, that he had executed a plan that was adapted to this; that if fairly and properly applied, the blood of the cross was fitted to secure entire reconciliation between heaven and earth. There was no enemy which it was not fitted to reconcile to God; there was no guilt, now producing alienation, which it could not wash away.
Whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven - That is, to produce harmony between the things in heaven and in earth; so that all things shall be reconciled to him, or so that there shalt be harmony between heaven and earth. The meaning is not, that “the things in heaven” were alienated from God, but that there was alienation in the universe which affected heaven, and the object was to produce again universal concord and love. Substantially the same sentiment is found in Ephesians 1:10; see the notes at that verse. Much has been written on the meaning of this expression, and a great variety of opinions have been entertained of it. It is best, always, unless necessity require a different interpretation, to take words in their usual signification. If that rule be adopted here,” things in heaven” will refer to God and the angels, and perhaps may include the principles of the divine government, “Things on earth,” will embrace men, and the various things on earth which are now at variance with God and with heaven. Between these, it is designed to produce harmony by the blood of the cross, or by the atonement. As in heaven nothing is wrong; as it is not desirable that anything should he changed there, all the change that is to take place in order to produce reconciliation, is to be on the part of men and the things of this world. The only effect of the blood of the atonement on the “things” of heaven in effecting the reconciliation is, to render it consistent for God to be at peace with sinners. The effect on earth is, to dispose the sinner to a willingness to be reconciled; to lead him to lay aside his enmity; to change his heart, and to effect a change in the views and principles prevailing on earth which are now at variance with God and his government. When this shall be done there will be harmony between heaven and earth, and an alienated world will be brought into conformity with the laws and government of the Creator.
He who bears with him a continual sense of the presence of Christ cannot indulge self-confidence or self-righteousness. None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to Him, are the ones who make the strongest claim to perfection. FW 54.1
Portion of morning talk at Copenhagen, Denmark, July 21, 1886, titled “Search the Scriptures.” published in The Review and Herald, April 3, 1888.Read in context »
Please read the second and third chapters of Philippians, and the first chapter of Colossians. There are lessons there that we all should study. Paul writes, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.... Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” TM 221.1
Our workers should use the greatest wisdom, so that nothing shall be said to provoke the armies of Satan and to stir up his united confederacy of evil. Christ did not dare to bring a railing accusation against the prince of evil, and is it proper that we should bring such accusation as will set in operation the agencies of evil, the confederacies of men that are leagued with evil spirits? Christ was the only-begotten Son of the infinite God, He was the Commander in the heavenly courts, yet He refrained from bringing accusation against Satan. Speaking of Him, Isaiah says, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” TM 222.1Read in context »