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by Dr. John Thomas
But the truth is, that this claim of apostolic succession is as groundless as the claim of the clergy of the apostasy to tithes on the ground of their succession to the rights of the Levitical priesthood.
If their apostolicity be granted, it can only be as "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
And no marvel" continues Paul, "for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works".
It is a stronghold of these pretended apostles, that the Lord promised to be with them always, to the end of the world.
They contend (though, as learned men they must know better) that the phrase "the end of the world" indicates a period of time yet future; and, therefore, that Jesus had reference, not to the apostles only, but to their "successors" likewise.
Hence, they argue that the command yet remains with them to be executed, which says, "Go ye therefore, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature".
But to this I object, first, that the end of the world to which Jesus referred, arrived more than eighteen hundred years ago; secondly, that the work enjoined upon the persons in the text was fully accomplished by the apostles; thirdly, that the Lord is not with them who pretend to be their successors; fourthly, that the moderns cannot execute the command, because they are utterly ignorant of the gospel; and, therefore, cannot be the individuals referred to.
In the first place, the Lord Jesus did not use the phrase, "The end of the world," in the vulgar English sense of it.
He said to the eleven, "Behold, I am with you, pavsa" ta;" hJmevra," all the days, e}w" th`" sunteleiva" tou` aijw`no" until the end of the age".
Here are certain days indicated, which were comprehended in the period to elapse from the time when Jesus made the promise, until the end of the age.
These days are termed by Paul, "these last days"; which he characterizes as those in which God spoke to the Israelites by a son, as well as those in which he was writing to the Hebrews some thirty years after: "These last days," says he.
Now, the days taken collectively, he styles according to the English version, "the end of the world"; as it is written, "Now once in the end of the world hath Jesus appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself".
The reader will easily perceive by the remark in the text, that the world spoken of was that to which Jesus stood related by death.
That it was near its end when he was crucified by it; but if "the world" is to be taken in the vulgar English sense, Paul was wrong in saying, that Jesus sacrificed himself in the end of it; for surely that period was not the end of the world, which passed away more than eighteen hundred years ago!
But the truth is, Paul was perfectly accurate in what he wrote.
He knew nothing about the English sense of his words: for there were neither Englishmen, nor English words in his day.
He penned Hebraisms in Greek words; that is, he put the things God had taught Israel into a Greek dress.
He wrote "the things of the spirit" in the words of the spirit selected from the Greek language.
What he said in the text before us was, "But now once for all, ejpi; sunteleiva/ tw`n aijwvnwn at the end of the ages, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself".
The constitution of Mount Sinai was the founding of the Hebrew world, or covsmo"; because it ordered, or arranged, the things pertaining to Israel, as a system sui generis.
This system had times peculiar to itself which were appointed at the promulgation of the law.
These are termed in scripture aijwnev," that is, aions, from ajeiv, alway and w]n, passing.