I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…
(with Hebrews 10:16): — Here are two Bibles, two Divine books. The first passage refers to God's writing through man upon parchment; this constitutes the book which we commonly call the Bible. The second passage refers to God's writing through the Bible by His Spirit on the human soul. Christianity in human life is better than Christianity in cold ink. Why?
I. Because it contains the Divine THINGS, the other only contains the SYMBOLS. Divine virtues are not in the letter press, they are only represented there. But in the Christly life they themselves are breathing, operative, soul-fashioning forces.
II. Because it is THE END OF CULTURE, THE OTHER ONLY THE MEANS. When men get into them the true spiritual graces, the moral principles and temper of Christ, they have realised the end of Divine training. The paper Bible is the means of this.
III. Because it is SELF-OBVIOUS, THE OTHER REQUIRES EXPLANATION. A Christly life is a Bible that a child can read, that men of all tribes and languages can interpret. Not so with the paper Bible, it contains many things "hard to be understood."
IV. Because it is IMPERISHABLE, THE OTHER IS TEMPORARY. The principles of truth, love, and goodness that are written on the human soul are not only indestructible in themselves, but the substance on which they are written is indestructible, it is eternal life. Conclusion: Prize the paper Bible by all means, but don't superstitiously worship it. Prize the Christly life, it is greater than all literature.
Parallel VersesKJV: I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.