The Day of Visitation

“Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)

This unique expression, “in the day of visitation,” based on a surprising use of the Greek word episkope, occurs one other time in such a way, when Christ wept over Jerusalem and pronounced its coming judgment. “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. . . . because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:42-44).

Now this word, episkope, and its derivatives are usually translated as “bishop,” “office of a bishop,” or “bishopric,” and it seems strange at first that it could also mean “visitation.” However, its basic meaning is “overseer,” or “oversight,” and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is really the “Shepherd and Bishop of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25), as well as that of nations and, indeed, every aspect of every life.

As a bishop or pastor (“shepherd”) is responsible for the “oversight” of his local church, or flock, so Christ is “that great Shepherd of the sheep,” the true “Bishop of [our] souls,” the overseer of all people in every age. In His great plan of the ages, the Jews, and then the Gentiles, each have been entrusted with a time of “visitation,” or “oversight,” of God’s witness to the world. Sadly, Jerusalem “knewest not the time of [her] visitation” (Luke 19:44) and, as for Judas, the Lord had to say, “his bishoprick let another take” (Acts 1:20).

Now in God’s providence, it is the time of Gentile oversight, and it is eternally important that we who know His salvation today glorify God by our good works, with our “conversation [i.e., lifestyle] honest among the Gentiles” in our own “day of visitation.” HMM

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