A brother has forwarded the following letter from the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come of January 1856, which we reproduce for the benefit of our readers:

In relation to the phrase, “hath translated us into the kingdom”- (Col 1:13), I observe that the key to the difficulty is recognised by you in Elpis Israel, p. 208, London Edition. The three verbs in verses 12 and 13, rendered “hath made us meet,” “hath delivered,” and “hath translated,” in the common version, are made to appear as if they were in the perfect tense; whereas the fact is, that not one of them is in the perfect. They are all in the aorist, or indefinite tense; and may have a reference to past, present, or future time, which can only be determined by the subject treated of. The case referred to in Elpis Israel is clearly an illustration. The word rendered in the common version “hath prepared” is in the aorist, and is indefinite as to time, and appears to require the future – he shall prepare, see Heb 11:16. The late Professor Stuart, of Andover, in the introduction of his Commentary on the Apocalypse speaking of this use of the aorist tense for the future, thus writes, page 197: “nor is this use of the aorist strange. Homer, Plato, Euripides, Demosthenes, and others employ the aorist (and also the perfect) to designate with intensity the certainty of future events. Kühner has given abundance of examples to illustrate this. The aorist is even more intensive than the perfect for this purpose, inasmuch as it denotes completed action in distinction from continuance, which the perfect more appropriately attaches to itself as an ad signification. Virtually do we find the same use of the aorist in John 13:31, 15:6,8. Whatever difficulties may have existed among critics in times past with respect to such a usage, it would seem that there is now no more occasion for them.”

Numerous instances might be selected from the New Testament of this usage. So much is this the case, that I always suspect the translation where the English perfect is used. I may give an instance or two which occur to me. 1Thess 1:10, “Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to come.” This, as it stands, carries absurdity on it’s face. But take Dr. MacKnight’s rendering, in which the English present (which is indefinite) is employed, and all is plain – “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath which is to come.” Again, Hebrews 11:22, “Ye are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, &c.” This, as it stands, was not true; (Not true as to time; but quite true as to faith; for “we walk by faith, and not by sight”- Editor) but Dr MacKnight, determining the time by the facts of the case, does not hesitate to employ the future in his translation, thus: “But ye shall come to mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to ten thousands of angels, &c.”

In Eph 2:5,6, “Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, God hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.” Now the verbs, “hath quickened,” “hath raised,” and “hath made us sit together,” are all in the same indefinite tense, and may be translated in the past, present, or future to fit the facts in the case. And what are these? In what sense were Paul and the Ephesians quickened together with Christ? In what sense were they made to sit together in the heavenlies with Christ? Were the thrones promised to the apostles already erected (Mat 19:28)? Had the time arrived when they who were asleep in Jesus would be brought with him from the dead (1Thes 4:14)? I trow not. What then does the passage mean? I venture to suggest the following translation: “Even being dead by sins God shall quicken us together with Christ, and shall raise us up together, and make us sit together in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus.”

To return to the passage in Colossians, I might ask, what are the facts in this case? Were Paul and the Colossians made meet for the inheritance? Were they delivered from the power of darkness, or were they translated into the kingdom? If they were “made meet for the inheritance,” how does that agree with Paul’s declaration that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God?” (1Cor 15:50). If they were “delivered from the power of darkness,” how does that harmonise with the fact that Paul had to wrestle with it’s rulers (Eph 6:12)? The adoption of the plainly recognised principle found in the usage of an indefinite tense to denote past, present, or future time, appears to me to be the true solution of this hitherto supposed difficult passage. It might then read as follows: “Giving thanks unto the Father, who maketh us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivereth us from the power of darkness, and translateth us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Or, to bring out the future more distinctly: “Giving thanks unto the Father, who shall make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; who shall deliver us from the power of darkness, and translate us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

That such may be our experience, as it is our hope, is the earnest wish of

Yours, in the Hope of Israel,

James Cameron