God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,…
I. The revelation of the will of God, as to all things which concern His worship and our faith and obedience, IS PECULIARLY AND IN A WAY OF EMINENCE FROM THE FATHER.
1. The whole mystery of His will antecedently to the revelation of it, is said to be hid in God, that is, the Father (Ephesians 3:9), it lay wrapt up from the eyes of men and angels, in His eternal wisdom and counsel (Colossians 1:26, 27).
2. The revelation of the mystery of the will of God, so hidden in the counsel of His will from eternity, was always made and given out in the pursuit, and for the accomplishment of the purpose of the Father; or of that eternal purpose of the will of God, which is by the way of eminence ascribed unto the Father (Ephesians 1:8, 9).
3. This purpose of God being communicated with, and unto the Lord Christ, or the Son, became the counsel of peace between them both (Zechariah 6:13). The Son, rejoicing to do the work that was incumbent on Him for the accomplishment of it (Proverbs 8:30-32; Psalm 40:7, 8), it became peculiarly the care and work of the Father to see that the inheritance promised Him upon His undertaking (Isaiah 53:10-12) should be given unto Him. This is done by the revelation of the will of God unto men, concerning their obedience and salvation, whereby they are made the lot, the seed, the portion and inheritance of Christ.
4. The whole revelation and dispensation of the will of God in and by the Word, is, as was said, eminently appropriated unto the Father. "Eternal life (the counsel, the purpose, ways, means, and procurer of it) was with the Father, and was manifested to us by the Word of truth" (1 John 1:1, 2). And it is the Father, that is, His will, mind, purpose, grace, love, that the Son declares (John 1:18); in which work He speaks nothing but what He heard from, and was taught by the Father (John 8:28). And thence He says, "the doctrine is not Mine," that is, principally and originally, "but His that sent Me" (John 7:16). And the gospel is called, the "gospel of the glory of the blessed God" (1 Timothy 1:11), which is a periphrasis of the person of the Father, who is the "Father of glory" (Ephesians 1:17).And from the appropriating of this work originally and principally to the Father, there are three things that are particularly intimated unto us.
1. The authority that is to be considered in it; the Father is the original of all power and authority; of Him the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Ephesians 3:15).
2. There is also love. It was out of infinite love, mercy, and compassion, that God would at all reveal His mind and will unto sinners. This mixture of authority ant love, which is the spring of the revelation of the will of God unto us, requires all readiness, willingness, and cheerfulness in the receipt of it, add submission unto it.
3. There is care eminently seen in it. The great care of the Church is in, and on the Father. He is the husbandman that, takes care of the vine and vineyard (John 15:1, 2).What directions from these considerations may be taken for the use both of them that dispense the word, and of those whose duty it is to attend unto the dispensation of it, shall only be marked in our passage. For the dispensers of the Word, let them —
1. Take heed of pursuing that work negligently, which hath its spring in the authority, love, and care of God (see 1 Timothy 4:13-16).
2. Know to whom to look for support, help, ability, and encouragement in their work (Ephesians 6:19, 20).
3. Not to be discouraged, whatever opposition they meet with in the discharge of their duty, considering whose work they have in hand (2 Corinthians 4:15, 16).
4. Know how they ought to dispense the Word, so as to answer the spring from whence it comes; namely, with authority, love to, and care for ,he souls of men.
5. Consider to whom they are to give an account of the work they are called to the discharge of, and entrusted with (Hebrews 13:7).And for them to whom the Word is preached, let them consider —
1. With what reverence and godly fear they ought to attend to the dispensation of it, seeing it is a proper effect and issue of the authority of God (Hebrews 12:25).
2. How they will escape if they neglect so great salvation declared unto them from the love and care of God (Hebrews 2:3).
3. With what holiness and spiritual subjection of soul unto God, they ought to be conversant in and with all the ordinances of worship, that are appointed by Him (Hebrews 12:28, 29).
II. THE AUTHORITY OF GOD SPEAKING IN AND BY THE PENMEN OF THE SCRIPTURES, IS THE SOLE BOTTOM AND FOUNDATION OF OUR ASSENTING TO THEM, and what is contained in them, with faith divine and supernatural. He spake in them: He then continues to speak by them, and therefore in their word received (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
III. GOD'S GRADUAL REVELATION OF HIMSELF, His mind and will unto the Church, was a fruit of infinite wisdom and care towards His elect.
1. He over-filled not their vessels; He gave them out light as they were able to bear.
2. He kept them in a continual dependence upon Himself, and waiting for their rule and direction from Him, which, as it tended to His glory, so it was exceedingly suited to their safety, in keeping them in an humble waiting frame.
3. He so gave out the light and knowledge of Himself, as that the great work which He had to accomplish, that lay in the stores of His infinitely wise will, as the end and issue of all revelations, namely the bringing forth of Christ into the world, in the way wherein He was to come, and for the ends which He was to bring about, might not be obviated.
4. He did this work so that the pre-eminence fully and ultimately to reveal Him, might be reserved for Him, in whom all things were to be gathered unto a head. All privileges were to be kept for, and unto Him, which was principally done by this gradual revelation of the mind of God.
5. And there was tender care conjoined with this infinite wisdom. None of His elect in any age were left without that light and instruction which were needful for them in their seasons and generations. And this so given out unto them, as that they might have fresh consolation and support as their occasions did require.
IV. We may see hence the absolute perfection of the revelation of the will of God by Christ and His apostles, as to every end and purpose whatever, for which God ever did, or ever will in this world reveal Himself, or His mind and will. For as this was the last way and means that God ever designed for the discovery of Himself, as to the worship and obedience which He requires, so the person by whom He accomplished this work, makes it indispensably necessary that it be also absolutely perfect; from which nothing can be taken, to which nothing must be added under the penalty of the extermination threatened to him that will not attend to the voice of that prophet.
(John Owen, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,