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We will here notice the text in Acts 17: 31, "Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteous ness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." We did not particularly notice this text in our remarks on the judgment, for the reason that it contains nothing but what relates to time, and was about being accomplished. But we here notice the expression, "He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness." We have previously said that the word day was used in a variety of ways in the Scriptures. When any particular time was specified as taking place, either favorably or unfavorably, it was called the day, a day, great day, &c. Jeremiah, in speaking of the return of Israel from captivity, makes the following expression : "Alas! for that day is great." See Jer. 307. Joel, as quoted by Peter, calls the destruction of Jerusalem, and the times bordering thereon, "that great and notable day of the Lord." See Acts 2: 20. John, in allusion to the same time, calls it "the great day of his wrath." Rev. 6: 17. John, in speaking of the feast of tabernacles, uses the following language: "In the last day, that great day of the feast." See John 7: 37. That a day was appointed, in which Jesus Christ was to rule or govern the world in righteousness, none can dispute. A day in Scripture often expresses a long series of years. See Heh. 3: 8, 9, "Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years." Here we learn that forty years were called the day. See also Deut. 32: 35.
That the period of Messiah's reign is called a day, is evident from Zech. 2: 11, And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day (Christ's reign on earth), and shall be my people and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee." Chapter 13: 1-8, "In that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." See, also, chapter 14:6–9; Isa. 49: 8; 2 Cor. 6: 2; John 16: 26.
Many other passages might be named, but a sufficient number is referred to, to satisfy any rational mind that Christ's reign, or period of judgment in the Gospel, is called a day. The same
period is sometimes called the hour of his judgment, &c., as in Rev. 14: 7.
It appears evident that the Jews supposed the Messiah should rule and govern the world in righteousness. The Scriptures explicitly teach this doctrine. But where is there a lesson in all the Bible, from beginning to end, that teaches a day of general judg ment after the resurrection from literal death? If such a day is not revealed in the Scriptures, neither in the Old nor New Testament, then, when was it revealed or made known to the children of men? To assume this, and make bold assertions about it, may be easily done, but it is not convincing proof; yet it is all the evidence we have, from any source, of the common opinion.
In the text it reads, "He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness." The word rendered world in this passage, is not kosmos, nor aion, but oikoumenen. This word is generally rendered world in the New Testament, and, principally, in its meaning, signifies the Roman empire, which included Judea, and most of the then known world. As evidence of this, observe the following passages where the word oikoumenen occurs, and is rendered world. See Luke 2: 1, 4: 5 Acts 25: 5, 19: 27, 11:28. In these passages it evidently alludes to the Roman empire. And it is quite probable that the same allusion might have been had in this text. But if it had, we are quite willing to admit that the day of Christ's reign extends further. But, that this day had not then already commenced, we are not willing to admit. Christ was not only already, judging by his word and spirit, but he was then about to exercise his authority in a special manner. The words en e mellei krinein (rendered, "in the which he will judge "), simply signify, in the which he is about to judge. And had the text been thus rendered, it would have given its true meaning, and probably would have been better understood. We might extend our remarks to much greater length on this subject, but as we only introduced it in consideration of the word day in which God would judge the world, we shall make but few more remarks upon it. Our object was to show that the day in which Christ judges the world not only extends during the Gospel period, but that it had special reference to a time then at hand.
ON THE END OF THE WORLD.
All the passages in the BIBLE wherein the phrase END OF THE WORLD occurs
Matt. 13: 36-42. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house; and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered, and said unto them, IIe that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world (kosmos); the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (aionos); and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered, and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (aionos). The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Verses 47-50. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world (aionos): the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matt. 24 3. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (aionos)? Matt. 28: 18-20. And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aionos). Amen.
1 Cor. 10: 11. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (aionon) are come
Heb. 9: 26. (For then must he (Christ) often have suffered since the foundation of the world) (kosmou); but now once in the end of the world (aionon) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Remarks on the phrase End of the World.
Thousands, yea, undoubtedly, millions, have read the texts in the foregoing section, have heard them read and explained, with full confidence of their teaching the end of the material world or universe. But we have to state that such is not the reality. The phrase, end of the world, does not teach, or even intimate, any such thing. It does not occur in the Old Testament at all. It only occurs in three books of the New Testament, Matthew, 1st Corinthians, and in Hebrews. It occurs five times in St. Matthew's Gospel, once in 1st Corinthians, and once in Hebrews; in all, it occurs seven times, and only seven, in the whole Bible.
For the true signification of the phrase we have only to consult the connection in which it stands, and the true meaning of the word aionos, rendered world.
By consulting Matt. 13: 36-42, it will be found that Christ was declaring to his disciples the parable of the tares of the field. He says, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world (kosmos); the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil (diabolos), the harvest is the end of the world (aionos); and the reapers are the angels." It appears to have been the style of the sacred writers, in speaking of any consummation for which men may have been said to be ripe, to call it the harvest. Jer. 8: 20; Joel 3: 13. "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow; for the wickedness is great," &c. See, also, Matt. 9: 37, 38, and Rev. 14: 15.
The question now is, What did Christ mean by the harvest, which he calls the end of the world? In the 38th verse, as already seen, the word rendered world, is kosmos: the proper signification of which is the earth; it also signifies the system of the world, or universe. The word kosmos nowhere stands connected with the
phrase end of the world. But, in every instance where the phrase end of the world occurs in the Bible, we invariably find the word rendered world to be aionos, the general signification of which is 'time; a space of time; life; lifetime; the ordinary period of man's life; age; age of man," &c. See Donnegan's Lexicon. But we think the word aionos, in these texts, is universally acknowledged, by commentators of note, to signify the age or dispensation. Then, in this text, "the harvest is the end of the world," it must signify the end of the Jewish age, or dispensation. The phrase rendered "end of the world" is sunteleia tou aionos, and literally signifies the conclusion of the age. From the foregoing results we find that the words " end of the world" merely signify the close of the Jewish state. The same expression is made in the 49th verse, and the same end expressed. In verse 50th it is added, "And shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." From these two verses we learn that the angels, after having severed the wicked from among the just, cast them into this furnace of fire. The figure, furnace of fire, is also used in the Scriptures to represent temporal calamity and destruction. The bondage of Israel under Pharaoh was described as a furnace. Deut. 4: 20, "But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt." See, also, 1 Kings 8: 51; Isa. 48: 10; Jer. 2: 4. Thus we see that Christ, in these expressions, signified the distress and destruction of that age, people and nation. And as further proof of the furnace of fire, see Isa. 31: 9, "And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem." By this text we see that Jerusalem was God's furnace, into which the wicked were to be cast at the conclusion of that age. And as further testimony that they were cast into the furnace of fire in Jerusalem, see Ezek. 22: 18-22. "Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace to blow the fire upon it, to melt it, so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will