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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 2


6. "The Wood of the Life."



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To him, then, who "believes the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Anointed;" and has therefore been immersed (Acts 8:12) and thenceforth, "by a patient continuance in well doing, seeks for glory, and honour, and incorruptibility (Rom. 2:7): and thus overcomes the world -- "to him," saith the Spirit, "I will give to eat from the Wood of the Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of the Deity."

The reader will perceive that I have here rendered the words (!greek!) which, in the English version, are expressed by the phrase "of the Tree of Life," by the words from the Wood of the Life. This is not a departure from the common form for the sake of singularity, as the following remarks will show.

In the Apocalypse there are two Greek words, as xulon and dendron, which are both rendered tree in the English version, but incorrectly, as I believe. I cannot suppose, that the Spirit selected these two different words to express exactly the same idea; but the rather, because there was a distinction of ideas, which required different words to convey it. To translate xulon by "tree," involves one in a difficulty respecting Apoc. 22:2, from which there is no satisfactory extrication. This passage reads thus, "In the midst of her broad place and on this side and that side of the river a Xulon of life, bearing twelve fruits," etc. Now, if xulon be rendered "tree," the difficulty is, how can a tree be at one and the same time on both sides of a river? The difficulty, however, vanishes by rendering xulon by the word wood. A wood may be "on this side and the other" of a river, and yet be one wood; a singular of plurality, which harmonizes with the structure of other apocalyptic symbols, which are formed upon the principle of many in one; as, many sons of men in One Son of man; many emperors in One Head of the Beast; many popes in One False Prophet; and many trees in One Wood.

The word dendron, "a tree," occurs in Apoc. 7:1,3; 8:7; 9:4, and is so rendered there correctly enough; but in Apoc. 2:7; 22:2,14, "tree," in the English Version, is xulon in the Greek; and in 18:12, it is also xulon twice, but in both instances rendered wood; as "thyine wood" and "precious wood."

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We may here remark that while dendron, in the singular, only represents one tree, the word xulon, in the singular, may represent a plurality; as "they made their feet fast in the stocks" -- "eis to xulon." In short, the matter of all trees is used symbolically for any number of individual trees -- one material, or xulon, typical of a whole forest, or aggregation of dendra.

The idea of plurality in connection with what is commonly styled the "Tree of Life," is first suggested in Gen. 2:9, where it is styled by Moses (!hebrew!) aitz ha-chayim, A TREE OF THE LIVES. In this phrase, the tree is the type of the lives, and though single represents plurality. It was in the midst of Eden's garden, and would have imparted life for the Olahm had Adam and Eve, the representatives of the whole family of man, been permitted to take of the fruit of the tree and eat thereof. But they were excluded on account of disobedience; and the eating of a tree of life was set before the race as a thing to be attained consequent upon obedience to the commands of God.

This tree in the Mosaic Paradise was allegorical of the wood in the apocalyptic. The original phrase here suffers a sort of transposition. Lives is changed into life, and tree into wood; that is, the idea of plurality is found in the wood, and the oneness in the life. Thus, the Spirit in Jesus said, "I am the life;" "I am the Vine, and ye (my apostles) are the branches." Here was a tree consisting of fourteen living persons, all animated by one and the same life-principle; namely, the Spirit, Jesus, and the Twelve Apostles. Now let this idea be extended so as to embrace "the multitude which no man can number" -- all IN Jesus Anointed" -- and we have a tree, which in the beginning was "as a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden, and it grew and waxed a great tree, and the fowls of the air came and lodged in the branches of it" (Luke 13:18) -- a tree, which with its feathered songsters of the aerial, is apocalyptically symbolized by a Wood of trees in the Garden, or Paradise of the Deity.

As Jesus anointed with holy spirit was a vine-tree, so are all his brethren trees also. Speaking of the man who delights in the instruction of Yahweh, the Spirit in David says, "He shall be as a tree planted by the channels of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not fade; and whatsoever he shall work shall prosper." This is a perennial tree which lives for ever; for "its leaf shall not fade" which is affirmable only of a tree incapable of decay.

The Spirit also in Isaiah, speaking of the same class, informs us, that Messiah's mission is, among other things, "to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they

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might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he might be glorified" (61:3).

"As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the Sons" (Song 2:3). In this, the Messiah is likened to an apple tree, and his brethren, the Sons of Deity, to "the trees of the wood."

"To him that overcomes, saith the Spirit, I will give to eat from the wood of life." A man's victory over the world is not complete so long as he is engaged in the conflict of life. In this state of existence, then, a man does not eat from the wood of the life promised; he is, therefore, in no sense immortal. The promise of life is, that we shall have it when the victory is won. "I will give to him to eat," points us to the future. We must first appear before the throne by resurrection, to learn whether we are accounted worthy of the life; and then, if the verdict be in our favor, we shall be permitted to eat; otherwise, not.

"I will give to eat." Mastication, deglutition, and assimilation, constitute the whole process of eating, which is the conversion of food into blood, which is the life. But the life of the saints in the Millennial Aion is not blood; for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;" for it is corruptible, and the kingdom of God is indestructible, and not to be left to a succession; hence, "corruption cannot inherit incorruption." Their life in that Aion is holy spirit. When this is poured out upon their bodies, posterior to their resurrection, it assimilates to itself, "in the twinkling of an eye," all the particles of their flesh and bones; and they become transformed into incorruptible, deathless, and glorious bodies, according to Paul's testimony, who says, "the Lord Jesus Anointed, shall change the nature of the body of our humiliation, that it may become of like form with the body of his glory, by the inworking of what enables him also to subdue all things to himself" (Phil. 3:21), that is, of the Spirit. This in-working, by which the nature of the resurrected body is changed, so that it becomes a spirit-body, or spirit, is the giving to eat of the wood of life. When the victor has thus eaten he becomes an element of the wood, whose leaf shall never fade, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.




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