The Bible: For All Classes and Cultures

KJV 1611The following is extracted from Phillip Schaff’s, “History of the Christian Church.”

The New Testament evinces its universal design in its very style, which alone distinguishes it from all the literary productions of earlier and later times. It has a Greek body, a Hebrew soul, and a Christian spirit which rules both. The language is the Hellenistic idiom; that is, the Macedonian Greek as spoken by the Jews of the dispersion in the time of Christ; uniting, in a regenerated Christian form, the two great antagonistic nationalities and religions of the ancient world. The most beautiful language of heathendom and the venerable language of the Hebrews are here combined, and baptized with the spirit of Christianity, and made the picture of silver for the golden apple of the eternal truth of the gospel.

The style of the Bible in general is singularly adapted to men of every class and grade of culture, affording the child the simple nourishment for its religious wants, and the profoundest thinker inexhaustible matter of study. The Bible is not simply a popular book, but a book of all nations, and for all societies, classes, and conditions of men. It is more than a book; it is an institution which rules the Christian world.

The New Testament presents, in its way, the same union of the divine and human as the person of Christ. In this sense also “the word became flesh, and dwells among us.”  As Christ was like us in body, soul, and spirit, sin only excepted, so the Scriptures, which “bear witness of him,” are thoroughly human (though without doctrinal and ethical error) in contents and form, in the mode of their rise, their compilation, their preservation, and transmission; yet at the same time they are thoroughly divine both in thoughts and words, in origin, vitality, energy, and effect, and beneath the human servant-form of the letter, the eye of faith discerns the glory of “the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The apostolic writings are of three kinds: historical, didactic, and prophetic. To the first class belong the Gospels and Acts; to the second, the Epistles; to the third, the Revelation. They are related to each other as regeneration, sanctification, and glorification; as foundation, house, and dome. Jesus Christ is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all. In the Gospels he walks in human form upon the earth, and accomplishes the work of redemption. In the Acts and Epistles he founds the church, and fills and guides it by his Spirit. And at last, in the visions of the Apocalypse, he comes again in glory… reigns forever upon the new earth in the city of God.

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