"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith." 1 Tim. vi.20, 21.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them." 1 Tim. iv.16.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." 2 Peter i.19.
The destructive critics have pushed their work far into the field of both prophecy and exposition. They have relegated to the domain of mythology the clear and unequivocal historical statements of Scripture. Where the intrusion of their mythological theory was too large a demand to make on our credulity, they have attempted a radical exegesis in proof of their assumptions.
They claim to have discovered that the Church in all the past has misconceived the first prophetic promise given to man. That promise was given to our first parents immediately after the fall. God said to the serpent (Gen. iii.15): "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Our critics have two objections to the interpretation that has always been given and maintained by Christian scholars and by the Church as a whole. First, that "the seed of the woman" does not refer to the Messiah, but to the human race, which is to bruise the serpent's head. Second, that the serpent engaged in seducing Eve, and here placed under the curse, does not refer to Satan.
In replying to the objection that the Messiah is not referred to in the passage, let it be said that the pronoun is a pronoun referring to a person. It is so translated in the Revised Version. "He shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel." It is not the human race, but he, an individual person. This person was not to be the seed of the man, but of the woman.
The announcing angel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke i.35.) The child to be born was to be literally and truly "the seed of the woman," and that was the Messiah, the only person of the entire human race of whom that could be said.
We are not left, however, to an exegetical statement alone, although that is absolutely unequivocal. The promise was repeated to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to David. The seed of the woman was to be the Messiah, the Christ, triumphing over the power of Satan. The race has not triumphed over Satan, but has been a failure.
The Holy Spirit has settled the question in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, iii.16: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many (or, the human race), but as of one, and to thy seed which is Christ." On the human side, our Savior was of the line of Abraham, and David, but was singularly and literally "the seed of the woman," being the Son of God.
He called himself the Son of man only in the sense that he was born of her who was of the race of man. He ever claimed God as his Father, and in a different sense from that in which men can claim God as Father. His claim to be the Son of God was the claim to be equal with God, which no created being dare make.
The Holy Spirit further declares, in Hebrews ii.14; "For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death (his death on the cross) he might destroy him (Satan) that had the power of death" -- "bruise the serpent's head." It was Satan that inflicted death. He was the first higher critic who changed and denied the word of God, saying to the woman, "Ye shall not die." Through his denial of the word of God, he deceived the woman and brought spiritual death on the race. This was the work of Satan, according to the New Testament teaching. He is the same that God calls the serpent in the third chapter of Genesis. For the Holy Spirit informs us, in 2 Cor. xi.3, that "the serpent beguiled Eve," and states definitely who the serpent is -- "that old serpent called the devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world." (Rev. xii.9.)
Having God's testimony that the serpent and the devil are one and the same, we are prepared for the mark which our Lord puts on him, "A murderer from the beginning ... and no truth in him." He had always sought to pervert and discredit the word of God. He suggested to Eve that she did not understand God's command; she had taken it too literally, which is a popular form of attacking the Bible today. "Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Are you not mistaken? And when he had injected the doubt into the mind of Eve, had gained an advantage, he seized it and boldly denied the word of God, "Ye shall not die." He is an artful critic and successfully did his deadly work.
Hence, the first great promise which God gave to the fallen pair, and through them to the race, set the seed of the woman, the Messiah, in conflict with "that old serpent called the devil and Satan." That promise is now in process of fulfillment, and must reach its final consummation when John's apocalyptic vision is fulfilled, "And the devil that deceived them (the nations) shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night, forever and ever."