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MATTHEW 2:2; LUKE 1:31-33; JOHN 1:49

Brother Beebe: - Although I do not wish to be troublesome, still I have a desire to have your views on the following Scriptures: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2) In Luke 1:31-33, it is said: “And shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Again, John 1:49, “Nathaniel answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” Now my particular inquiry is, In what sense is he the King of the Jews, setting up the throne of David, and reigning over the house of Jacob, as the King of Israel?

Your unworthy brother,
J. E. Settle.
New Hope, KY., March 14, 1862.

REPLY: The passages presented, especially Luke 1:3 1, identifies our Lord Jesus Christ as the illustrious personage of whom the other passages testify, and of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, and of whom God had spoken by the prophet Micah, verse 2, saying, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

The Jews, the house of Jacob and Israel, all mean the same thing. Literally these names were applied to the twelve patriarchs and their descendants according to the flesh, as the house or family of Jacob, which was also called by his name Israel, including the whole commonwealth, as redeemed from the house of bondage, and brought out of Egypt by the high hand and outstretched arm of God, led through the wilderness, and into the promised land, where subsequently God raised up David and gave him to be a king over them. This same people were called Jews, which name they derived from Judah, the patriarch of that tribe to which David their king belonged, and after the division of the house of Jacob, by the secession of ten tribes, which were afterwards called Israel, the two tribes which still adhered to the government of the house, or descendants of David, were called Jews, in distinction from the revolted tribes which had organized a separate and distinct government.

Israel under the old dispensation was the type of the church and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, in its gospel organization. But in the gospel church, ‘lie is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is there circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.” (Rem. 2:28) All that constituted a man a Jew, nationally, was outward. If born in Abraham’s house, or bought with his money, and circumcised with the circumcision made with hands, as an outward rite, in the flesh, such an one was a Jew outwardly, but no fleshly birth, or outward rites, can constitute a person an anti-typical Jew, or one inwardly, as the church of Christ is a kingdom which is not of this world, and in which no man is known after the flesh. For “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Those, therefore, who are born again are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; and, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever;” they are made manifest as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. These are the seed that shall serve him, and be accounted to our Lord Jesus Christ for a generation, and these alone constitute the true, spiritual, or anti-typical Israel of our God. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29) When John the Baptist saw many of the Jews, who were only Jews outwardly, who had not been born of the Spirit, and therefore could not show fruits meet for repentance, come to his baptism, he gave them to understand that although they were undoubtedly Jews outwardly, they could not be received into communion with those who were Jews inwardly, as subjects of the spiritual kingdom, on any such claims. He said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. 3:7-9) “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. 2:29)

Having briefly shown the distinction between the outward Jews, who are Jews outwardly in the flesh, and those who are Jews inwardly and spiritually, we proceed to show that Christ was born King of the Jews, according to the latter classification. Thus one of the Gentile churches, in Asia, is recognized as Jews in this inward and spiritual sense, while those who were of the synagogue of Satan, who said they were Jews, but were not, (that is, in this inward and spiritual sense) but did lie, were disowned and denounced as deceivers, intruders and liars. (Rev. 3:9) Paul very clearly elucidates in what sense Christ is King of the Jews, and in what sense the subjects of Christ’s government are Jews, in his arguments to the Galatians. Hear him, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,” etc. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ: that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth. or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal. 3:13-16) Also verses 6-9: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” As David, therefore, was king over the carnal Israelites, so Jesus Christ, who is the anti-type of David, is King of all the Israel of God, who are Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile, for he has washed them from all pollution in his own atoning blood, and clothed them with the garments of his salvation, and covered them with the robe of his righteousness. David was in many respects the most eminent type of Christ, especially of him in his kingly office, and as the Son of David, in lineal descent, he bears his name, and from his loins, according to the flesh, was raised up to sit upon his throne. Isaiah recorded his advent in prophecy, as a child born, a Son given, “The government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever.” (Isa. 9:6,7) The sublime language used in Psalms 89, can only be understood in its application to Christ, although the name of David as the type is used: “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations.” Again, “Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One, and saidest, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” “Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.” On the day of Pentecost, Peter, in preaching to the people, spake freely of the patriarch David, and proved conclusively that the declarations made to David were prophetic, and were not fulfilled in David as a man, personally, nor in his natural posterity, but that they were spoken of and fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit upon his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” According, therefore, to all the prophe­cies going before, God has set his King upon his holy hill Zion, and has said unto him, Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. And unto his Son he saith, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Heb. 1:8,9)

We have briefly considered the spiritual kingdom and government of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the King of the Jews, showing that his subjects are Jews spiritually, and of the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, discarding the flesh, and having no confidence in it. We have also pointed out some reasons why the throne of the spiritual kingdom is called the throne of David, namely: Because it was typified by the throne of David, and the Mediatorial throne of the Son of God is to the spiritual Israel the only legitimate place and center of power to the church of God, as the throne of David in the type, was the center of all legislative, judicial and administrative power for the government of the carnal Israelites. As no other department of the commonwealth of Israel had any right to resist, supersede, amend or alter any of the orders of the throne of David, so the power of the Wonderful, Counselor, who sits upon the throne of David in this spiritual or gospel sense, alone has power to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth, even forever.

We have also shown that as God had promised and sworn with an oath to David, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne, so in the resurrection of Christ, his inauguration, coronation as King of Zion, setting as Priest upon his throne, to rule and bear the glory, we have the verification of the promise and oath. Thus showing in what sense he is King of the Jews, who the Jews are, over whom he reigns; how he sits upon the throne of David, and how his sceptre is swayed over the house of Jacob, and his reign of righteousness as the King of Israel.

We may have failed to comprehend the design of our brother’s inquiries, and consequently to satisfy his mind, but what we have written we will submit to his consideration, and to the consideration of all our readers, praying that what we have written as our views may be carefully and prayerfully tested by the standard of truth, and only indorsed or accredited so far as they shall be found sustained by the holy Scriptures.

Middletown, N.Y.,
April 1, 1862.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 165 - 170