When our Lord said, John 12:31, "Now is this
world's judging," He did not mean the time had come for mankind to
judge Him. They had been doing this all the while. He used
the word, "SYSTEM," and this, when used in the scripture,
means the order of human society. This is its literal
meaning. It carries the idea of adornment, I Peter 3:3, and really
means that which adorns the earth during a given eon. It has no
reference to customs, for they may differ in different localities, and
thy change many times during an eon. It is something that is
common to all the earth, and lasts throughout an eon. A system, or
world, begins with each now eon, and lasts while the eon is running its
course. Paul speaks of "the eon of this world," Eph.
2:2. Each eon has a different system. The one before the
flood was anarchy, and it was as wide as the human family. a new
eon began after the flood, and God established the system of government
of man by man.
Different countries have different brands of
government, but all countrieseven heathens have some kind of human
government. This is the system. It is earth-wide, and will
last until the close of this eon. (An eon is a long segment of
time). When the next eon begins, a new system, or world, will be
inaugurated. It will be the reign of the Christ.
Sometimes the word for system, which is KOSMOS, is
used for the people of earth. When it is s used it is a figure of
speech. An instance is II Cor. 5:19, "In Christ, God was
conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offences to
them." The pronoun, "they," shows that Paul is
speaking of people. In every place where the word,
"world," is used as a figure of speech, something in the
passage or its context will show this to be the case. But the
literal meaning of world is system.
Judaism is called the elements of the world, or
system, because it is human government. But it is far below civil
government for the present administration, and is spoken of as
"poor and infirm," Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20. Neither Judaism
nor any other "ecclesiastical" government can fill an need
now. It is the poor and infirm element of human government.
Civil government is not so characterized. It is beneficial for
imperfect humans. Saints are told to be subject to civil
government, Rom. 13:1-5, but are forbidden to be subject to
Judaism. The latter is so poor and infirm that it serves no good
purpose. This is true of any and all "religious"
government over the liberties of mankind, whether it bears the label of
Judaism, Catholicism or Protestantism.
This time had come for Christ to come into court and
be tried by the system of human governmentthe very system that He
had establishes under the direction of His Father, in the days of Noah
following the deluge. Human government, as represented by Pilate,
a governor appointed by the greatest government on earth, was to judge
the Chief of the system. Christ was Chief because He had
Let us notice that He did not say He was to be found
guilty. He said He was to be cast out. Cast out of
what? Out of the systemdeprived of the protection human
government gives to others. And this is what took place.
Perhaps He is the only One who ever stood before a court and was
pronounced NOT GUILTY, and yet CONDEMNED TO DEATH.
This was done because the system had reached the
bottom of depravity. It was controlled by politics of the same
brand that mover officials today, in many casesthe brand of
politics that will condemn others to suffering, if the officer may, thereby,
hold his job. The Jews had threatened to accuse Pilate before Caesar.
This was more than he could bear. His job must be kept; even if
the Christ had to die! He cowardly washed his hands, and tried to
throw the responsibility on others.
It would seem, humanly speaking, that, in
establishing human government, Christ had created a monster that had
turned and destroyed Him. But not so. There is a God side to
the crucifixion. Not only the people of Israel, but Pilate as
well, did what God's hand and counsel designated beforehand, to occur,
Acts 4:27, 28. When the system, in the person of Pilate, gave Him
up to be crucified, it was done by the specific counsel and foreknowledge
of God, Acts 2:23.
This does not excuse the viciousness of those
who demanded that He be crucified, not the cowardice of Pilate in giving
Him up. He was gibbeted and assassinated by lawless hands.
Is the law, as represented by Pilate, had said He was guilty, the
crucifixion would have had some semblance of legality. But nothing
is more lawless than delivering up a prisoner to be put to death, by the
same court that had said he is not guilty. And equally lawless is
the demand made on a court, that an accused person be sentenced to
death, no matter what the evidence is.
Let us remember that the same system that gave Christ
up to deathcast Him outis yet in existence. It cannot
cease until the eon has run its course. The system is locally
characterized by totalitarianism, or democracy, but it is all the same
systemgovernment of man by man, instead of absence of human
government, as prevailed before the flood. And let us not flatter
ourselves that the system is based on a regard for Christ and His
Father. The beginning of what is called present civilization can
be traced back to the sons of Noah, and partakes of the spirit that
undertook to build the tower of Babel"to make a name for
ourselves," Gen. 10. No law has ever been enacted by the
system, purely for the purpose of either the progress of the evangel of
grace, or the protection of those who seek to avoid ritualism and offer
divine service to God in Spirit. Whatever brand of religious
liberty promises the greatest earthly benefit is adhered to by the
various nations. In totalitarian countries religious toleration embraces only that which is desired by the
democracies all religionsChristian, Jewish and Paganare
tolerated, because, thereby, the people are kept satisfied. God's
hand provides such measures, for because of them, even those who refuse
to be counted among the denominations, but who, nevertheless, offer
divine service in spirit, find protection.
Christ refused to fight against the system. He
established it, and it did what was probably the greatest reason for its
existence, when it cast out the Chief of the system. He said,
"My kingdom is not of this system," John 18:36. His
deputies would have fought to keep Him from being given up to the Jews,
if there had been anything in the system that could produce the kingdom.
Those who believe a better form of human government can usher in the millennium, are mistaken. The kingdom will not come out of
anything that is now in existence, in the way of human government, nor
will it be produced by any change in the system. The system,
itself, will be at an end when the kingdom is established. There
will be a new systemthe government of Christ.
The system did not recognize Christ. Neither
does it do so, today. He is the great Man of Christendom, even as
Buddha is, of another religion. What are supposed to be His
teachings, and especially His humanitarian spirit, are encouched in our
laws. This is the best man can do. No law was ever made because
the teachings of Jesus Christ to us through Paul, is believed and
Religion, being one of the elements of the world,
partakes of the spirit of the system. Human government cannot make
its citizens perfect, and must, therefore, provide punishment for
violators. Religion sees God as impotentlike human governmentand
imagines that He must provide endless punishment for those whom He is
unable to manage. They look to see Christ wreak vengeance on those
who demanded His death. How else can He be as men have pictured
But how disappointing are His words that follow the
ones referred to in the beginning of this editorial! He says,
"And I, if I be exalted out of the earth, will be drawing all to
myself." If He should do otherwise, He, too, would show the
spirit of the system. Man can punish those who harm him. Is
the Lord to do no better than that? He will chasten, yes.
But chastening has a result that no human government can produce.
It benefits the ones who are chastened. This is its
When the Lord mentioned being exalted out of the
earth, or being "lifted up from the earth," as the King James
Version has it, John hastened to assure the readers that Christ was
talking about the death He was about to be dying. It is the height
of unbelief, when preachers tell us that we are to lift up the Lord by
preaching and living. Christ said that if He should be
"lifted up," He would be drawing all to Himself.
What a wonderful promise! That those who
brought about His crucifixion must suffer chastening, is
necessary. They would never appreciate salvation without it.
But Christ's goal for them, as well as His goal for all mankind, is Justification,
(Rom. 5:18); Salvation, I Tim. 2:3-6); Vivification, (I Cor. 15:22-28);
and Reconciliation, (Col. 1:20).
Like our Lord, this doctrine does not partake of the
spirit of the system.