Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners - You are reckoned with the people of God. You are entitled to their privileges, and are not to be regarded as outcasts and aliens. The meaning is, that they belonged to the same community - the same family - as the people of God. The word rendered “strangers” - ξένοι xenoi- means “foreigners in state,” as opposed to citizens. The word rendered “foreigners” - πάροικοι paroikoi- means “guests in a private family,” as opposed to the members of the family. “Rosenmuller.” Strangers and such as proposed to reside for a short time in Athens, were permitted to reside in the city, and to pursue their business undisturbed, but they could perform no public duty; they had no voice in the public deliberations, and they had no part in the management of the state. They could only look on as spectators, without mingling in the scenes of state, or interfering in any way in the affairs of the government.
They were bound humbly to submit to all the enactments of the citizens, and observe all the laws and usages of the republic. It was not even allowed them to transact any business in their own name, but they were bound to choose from among the citizens one to whose care they committed themselves as a patron, and whose duty it was to guard them against all injustice and wrong Potter‘s Greek Ant. i. 55. Proselytes, who united themselves to the Jews, were also called in the Jewish writings, “strangers.” All foreigners were regarded as “strangers,” and Jews only were supposed to have near access to God. But now, says the apostle, this distinction is taken away, and the believing pagan, as well as the Jew, has the right of citizenship in the New Jerusalem, and one, as well as another, is a member of the family of God. “Burder,” Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgertland, in loc. The meaning here is, that they had not come to sojourn merely as guests or foreigners, but were a part of the family itself, and entitled to all the privileges and hopes which others had.
But fellow-citizens with the saints - Belonging to the same community with the people of God.
And of the household of God - Of the same family. Entitled to the same privileges, and regarded by him as his children; see Ephesians 3:15.
Ye are no more strangers - In this chapter the Church of God is compared to a city, which, has a variety of privileges, rights, etc., founded on regular charters and grants. The Gentiles, having believed in Christ, are all incorporated with the believing Jews in this holy city. Formerly, when any of them came to Jerusalem, being ξενοι, strangers, they had no kind of rights whatever; nor could they, as mere heathens, settle among them. Again, if any of them, convinced of the errors of the Gentiles, acknowledged the God of Israel, but did not receive circumcision, he might dwell in the land, but he had no right to the blessings of the covenant; such might be called παροικοι, sojourners - persons who have no property in the land, and may only rent a house for the time being.
Fellow citizens with the saints - Called to the enjoyment of equal privileges with the Jews themselves, who, by profession, were a holy people; who were bound to be holy, and therefore are often called saints, or holy persons, when both their hearts and conduct were far from being right in the sight of God. But the saints spoken of here are the converted or Christianized Jews.
Of the household of God - The house of God is the temple; the temple was a type of the Christian Church; this is now become God's house; all genuine believers are considered as being οικειοι, domestics, of this house, the children and servants of God Almighty, having all equal rights, privileges, and advantages; as all, through one Spirit, by the sacred head of the family, had equal access to God, and each might receive as much grace and as much glory as his soul could possibly contain.
God will bless all who thus prepare themselves for His service. They will understand what it means to have the assurance of the Spirit because they have received Christ by faith. 6T 363.1
The place of worship may be very humble, but it is no less acknowledged by God. To those who worship God in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness it will be as the gate of heaven. The company of believers may be few in number, but in God's sight they are very precious. By the cleaver of truth they have been taken as rough stones from the quarry of the world and have been brought into the workshop of God to be hewed and shaped. But even in the rough they are precious in the sight of God. The ax, the hammer, and the chisel of trial are in the hands of One who is skillful; they are used, not to destroy, but to work out the perfection of every soul. As precious stones, polished after the similitude of a palace, God designs us to find a place in the heavenly temple. 6T 363.2
God's appointments and grants in our behalf are without limit. The throne of grace is itself the highest attraction because occupied by One who permits us to call Him Father. But God did not deem the principle of salvation complete while invested only with His own love. By His appointment He has placed at His altar an Advocate clothed with our nature. As our Intercessor, His office work is to introduce us to God as His sons and daughters. Christ intercedes in behalf of those who have received Him. To them He gives power, by virtue of His own merits, to become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. And the Father demonstrates His infinite love for Christ, who paid our ransom with His blood, by receiving and welcoming Christ's friends as His friends. He is satisfied with the atonement made. He is glorified by the incarnation, the life, death, and mediation of His Son. 6T 363.3Read in context »
When Satan became disaffected in heaven, he did not lay his complaint before God and Christ; but he went among the angels who thought him perfect and represented that God had done him injustice in preferring Christ to himself. The result of this misrepresentation was that through their sympathy with him one third of the angels lost their innocence, their high estate, and their happy home. Satan is instigating men to continue on earth the same work of jealousy and evil surmising that he commenced in heaven. 5T 291.1
When Jesus was upon earth, the Jews were ever acting as spies on His track. They gathered up every false report and charged Him with one crime after another. They were constantly endeavoring to turn the people away from Him. Was their course right? If it was, then Brother D has not sinned, for he is doing a similar work. He may now break the snare of the enemy; he may conquer this spirit which leads him to exalt himself above his brethren. Let him seek meekness, and learn to esteem others better than himself. If he will work in fidelity and in harmony with God's plan he will hear the sweet words, “Well done,” from the lips of the Master. But if he rejects the labors of God's servants, if he chooses his own way and leans to his own understanding, he will surely make shipwreck of faith. God has not passed His people by and chosen one solitary man here and another there as the only ones worthy to be entrusted with His truth. He does not give one man new light contrary to the established faith of the body. In every reform men have arisen making this claim. Paul warned the church in his day: “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” The greatest harm to God's people comes through those who go out from among them speaking perverse things. Through them the way of truth is evil spoken of. 5T 291.2
Let none be self-confident, as though God had given them special light above their brethren. Christ is represented as dwelling in His people. Believers are represented as “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,” says Paul, “beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” 5T 291.3Read in context »
The Lord must be believed and served as the great “I AM,” and we must trust implicitly in Him. Let not men prescribe laws to take the place of God's law. Never educate men to look to men, to trust in men; for man's wisdom is not sufficient to decide as to their right to engage in the Lord's work. When God lays a work upon individuals, men are not to reject His sanction. God must not be impeded in the working out of His plans by man's interference, but this has been done again and again. TM 209.1
If the church on earth is to resemble a temple, let it be built according to the pattern shown in heaven and not according to man's genius. The invention of man often counteracts the working out of God's plans. The golden measuring rod has not been placed in the hands of any finite man or any class of men, whatever their position or calling, but is in the hand of the heavenly Architect. If men will not meddle with God's plan, and will let Him work upon minds and characters, building them up according to His plan, a work will be accomplished that will stand through the severest of trials. TM 209.2Read in context »
As we review certain situations in our church history which form the background for the messages of the 1890's, we uncover clues which enable us better to understand these messages. Let us turn back the pages of history and look at some important developments. TM xvii.1
From the very outset, Sabbath-keeping Adventists were characterized by their eagerness to understand God's will and to walk in his way. In their Advent experience of the mid-1840's they had witnessed the stable Protestant churches, with their creedal stakes firmly driven, turn from great truths taught in the word of God. Many of these Adventists had been cast out of these churches because of their Advent hope, a hope which sprang from the Scriptures. They had seen their former brethren enter into active opposition to those who held and expounded Bible truths. This led them to be fearful of formality and church organization. But as the way began to open for the heralding of the third angel's message, the need for organization developed, and in January, 1850, Ellen White was shown that the Sabbath-keeping Adventists should bring their work into order, for “everything in heaven was in perfect order.”—Manuscript 11, 1850. TM xvii.2Read in context »
In the Scriptures thousands of gems of truth lie hidden from the surface seeker. The mine of truth is never exhausted. The more you search the Scriptures with humble hearts, the greater will be your interest, and the more you will feel like exclaiming with Paul: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Every day you should learn something new from the Scriptures. Search them as for hid treasures, for they contain the words of eternal life. Pray for wisdom and understanding to comprehend these holy writings. If you would do this you would find new glories in the word of God; you would feel that you had received new and precious light on subjects connected with the truth, and the Scriptures would be constantly receiving a new value in your estimation. 5T 266.1
“The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly.” Jesus says: “Behold, I come quickly.” We should keep these words ever in mind, and act as though we do indeed believe that the coming of the Lord is nigh, and that we are pilgrims and strangers upon the earth. The vital energies of the church of God must be brought into active exercise for the great object of self-renovation; every member must be an active agent for God. “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” This is a particular work, which must be carried forward in all harmony, in unity of Spirit, and in the bonds of peace. No place should be given to criticisms, doubts, and unbelief. 5T 266.2
The Upper Columbia and North Pacific Conferences [See footnote on page 249.] are years behind. Some who ought to be strong and established in Christ are as babes in understanding and experimental knowledge of the workings of the Spirit of God. After years of experience they are able to comprehend only the first principles of that grand system of faith and doctrine that constitutes the Christian religion. They do not comprehend that perfection of character which will receive the commendation: “Well done.” 5T 266.3Read in context »