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The Wednesday Word: Jesus, the Unabridged Version of God

One of the reasons God became a man was to destroy Satan and open the way to eternal life. Nobody but God was qualified for this task because none but the Almighty was strong or wise enough to accomplish such a feat.

The Mighty God, our Redeemer, came to undo and destroy the shocking distress that Satan had exacted upon us … and did so by becoming human.

Why human? Why did He not become a super angel?

He became human because it was the human race that Satan had destroyed in the Fall. It was thus, as a true human, the eternal Word was born. In His doing and dying, He received the full onslaught of Satan and put him away by His great sacrifice at Calvary (Colossians 2:15).

To paraphrase Anselm (AD 1033-AD 1109),

“And so also was it proper that the devil, who was man’s tempter, and had conquered him when he ate of the tree, should be conquered by another man as he suffered on the tree.”

Anselm: Cur Deus Homo: Chapter 3

May we always be thrilled the boundless Gospel truth of the incarnation.

‘He left His heavenly crown,

His glory laid aside.

On wings of love came down,

And wept, and bled, and died.

What He endured no tongue can tell,

To save our souls from death and hell’.

As true believers we hold, defend and propagate the truth of the full revelation of the Almighty God in Christ alone.

From all eternity the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternally, self-existent One who was and is and is to come. He is Yahweh, the great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega, the Word made flesh. He was and is God. His divine nature was unborrowed, underived, andunconferred.

It is Jesus, the Lord from heaven, who is above all (John 3:31).

He has the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).

He has and is both the wisdom and the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)

In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

As Gospel-centered believers, it is our privilege to propagate the message that the Lord Jesus possesses all that God is. If we want to know how God acts, then we study Jesus and see what He has done. Jesus is the unabridged version of God: He is the very mystery of God! Jesus is the full and accurate interpretation of the mind of God. To meet Him is to meet God. To be saved by Him is to be saved by God. He is the final word from God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3).

It should be of no surprise, therefore, that Christ is still despised and rejected by men.

The radical Muslims, as they vie for world domination,witness against His deity.

The radical Hindus think nothing of attacking Christ’s followers in India, Nepal and other places.

The Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses deny that He is the Mighty God.

Even, in many Christian circles, Christ’s true identity has become blurred.

Who then will stand up for Jesus in this generation?

Will we?

Will you?

As for me and my house, we intend to make more than much of Jesus. We appreciate what John Newton stated; He said,

“I am well satisfied it will not be a burden to me at the hour of death, nor be laid to my charge at the day of judgment, that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from him myself, or labored too much in commending and setting him forth to others, as the Alpha and Omega, the true God and eternal life.

– John Newton (1725-1807), English minister & author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

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Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: Offices of Christ: King- Book Fifth- Chapter 3- Section 3

Book Fifth

CHAPTER III.

SECTION III.–KING.

JESUS CHRIST, AS THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, EXERCISES KINGLY AUTHORITY OVER ALL CREATURES, TO THE GLORY OF GOD, AND THE GOOD OF HIS PEOPLE.[64]

The superscription which Pilate placed on the cross, was, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” This writing expressed a truth of which its author was not aware. Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, foretold by the Hebrew prophets, and expected by the nation as the king who would rule over them, and raise them to great prosperity.

The Hebrew word Messiah, to which the Greek word Christ corresponds, signifies the Anointed. When kings and priests were introduced into office among the Israelites, it was usual to anoint them with oil. We have one example, in which a prophet was set apart to his work, by the same ceremony.[65] Jesus was the Anointed, because he sustained all these offices; and, although he was not introduced into either of them, by a literal anointing with oil, he had the unction of the Holy Spirit, of which the literal unction with oil was a type. The words of Isaiah read by him in the synagogue of Nazareth, were applied to himself: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach,”[66] &c. Here the anointing must be understood as referring to his prophetical office. The same reference seems to have been made with taunt and derision by the individual who smote Jesus, and said: “Prophesy, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee?”[67] In this taunt, it was implied, that the Christ was expected to be a prophet. But from the common use of anointing, we are led to refer the term Christ rather to the priestly and kingly offices, with which Jesus was invested. The most common reference, is to his kingly office. He was reported to Pilate, as making himself “Christ, a king.”[68] In expecting their Messiah, the Jews looked for a king, who was to rule over them and deliver them from their enemies. Many of the prophecies concerning the Christ, relate to his reign as king over Israel: and when he, before the Jewish council, claimed to be the Christ, he referred to the future manifestation of his kingly power and glory, “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”[69]

A proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah, is found in the fact, that the prophecies were fulfilled in him. The time and place of his birth, and the tribe and family from which he was to spring, were particularly foretold; and the events corresponded to the predictions. Many prophecies of events in his life, sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection, were exactly fulfilled. Jesus appealed with confidence to the Scriptures, for proof of his claims: “Search the Scriptures; for they are they that testify of me.”[70]And the apostles said: “To him give all the prophets witness.”[71]

Further proof that Jesus was the Christ, is furnished by the testimony of John the Baptist,[72] by the voice of the Father at his baptism,[73] and at his transfiguration in the mount;[74] by his works, to which he often appealed in proof of his claim; and by his claim before the Jewish council, and before Pilate, and which was sustained by his miracles, and ultimately by his resurrection from the dead.

To all these proofs it may be added, that the Jews have found no other Messiah. They have confidently expected one, and the time for his coming has long passed. Either Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah foretold, or the prophecies were false, and the religion of which they were a part was not from God. Jesus Christ, as the Supreme God, had, of original right, sovereign authority over all creatures. But when the Word was made flesh, he took on him the form of a servant; and, for a time, appeared divested of divine power and glory. But, after having humbled himself, and completed the service for which his humiliation was necessary, it pleased God to reward that service by exalting him to supreme authority over all creatures. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”[75]

A peculiarity of Christ’s dominion as Mediator, is, that it is exercised by him in human nature. Why it was the pleasure of God to exalt human nature to a dignity so high, it is impossible for us fully to comprehend. We see in it the complete defeat of Satan, the apostate angel, who aimed to bring our inferior nature entirely under his power. He triumphed over the first Adam: but the second Adam has triumphed over him, and will bring him into complete subjection, with all the hostile powers that he has set in array; and will, in the very nature over which Satan triumphed, bring them into subjection under his feet. This dominion over principalities and powers Jesus Christ exercises, with a reference to the good of his people, redeemed from among men. To secure this benefit, the exercise of his dominion in human nature doubtless contributes. The redeemed are one with him, as he is one with the Father. That wonderful prayer is fulfilled, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”[76] They are admitted to a communion with God, far more intimate and glorious than could otherwise be enjoyed; and are exalted to such honor, that they are said to reign with Christ. This dignity is nowhere ascribed to angels. Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This exercise of divine authority, through the human nature of Jesus Christ, will manifest the glory of God in its richest displays; and angels and men will here learn, through eternal ages, the perfections of the divine nature, and will for ever admire and adore, with ineffable joy.

Another peculiarity of this dominion, is, that it opens a new dispensation to rebellious men. When the angels, that kept not their first estate, sinned against God, they were driven from his presence, and condemned to hopeless woe. No mediator was provided for them; and no gospel of salvation was ever proclaimed in their ears. Such an administration of divine authority, as gives hope of pardon to offenders, was unknown in the government of the world until man sinned; and this administration constitutes a distinguishing feature of Christ’s mediatorial reign. Hence, he is the Mediator between God and men, and not between God and angels; and hence the Mediator is emphatically called “the man Christ Jesus.”[77] On earth, the Son of Man had power to forgive sins;[78] and in heaven he sits on a throne of grace, to which we are permitted and invited to come, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. When God displayed his glory to Moses, and proclaimed his name in the hearing of that favored servant, his forgiving mercy had a conspicuous place in the revelation: “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering,”[79] &c. so, in heaven, where his full glory is seen, the dispensation of his mercy from the throne of grace on which the exalted Mediator sits, constitutes the most lovely and attractive exhibition of the divine glory that the happy worshippers are permitted to behold.

Of the two peculiarities which have been mentioned as distinguishing the mediatorial dominion of Christ, the first could not exist until the humanity of Christ was exalted to the throne. Then the mediatorial reign, in its full development, commenced, when the Father said, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”[80] But the second peculiarity existed in an incomplete administration of this mediatorial reign, which was exercised from the time of man’s fall. Before the efficacious sacrifice for sin was made, in which the humanity of Christ became its virtue, pardons were bestowed on believers, from the days of Abel. It is now made known to us, that these pardons were engaged, as the surety for sinners, to do the work which he has since performed: and the inquiries of angels, and the faith of Old Testament saints, were all directed forward to the coming of Christ, for explanation of that mysterious dispensation by which rebels obtained mercy.

Jesus Christ is head over all things to the Church. He exercises his supreme authority for the benefit of his people, for whose sake he sanctified himself to undertake the work of mediation. He is head over principalities and powers; and angels honor and obey him, and are sent forth as ministering spirits, to minister to the heirs of salvation. He is Lord over all the earth; and regulates every agent and every event in the world, so that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” If Christ is ours, all things are ours; for all things are in his hands, and he holds them for the benefit of his people.

In the few words which Jesus spoke respecting his kingdom, when he stood before Pilate, the most important instruction is conveyed. We cannot too much admire the wisdom with which he accurately described, in so few words, the kingdom that he came to establish: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.”[81] The kings of the earth maintain their authority by force. The coerced obedience which they procure, is often reluctantly rendered. The proper subjects of Christ’s kingdom are a willing people,[82] who voluntarily give themselves up to his authority, and serve him with delight. In extending his kingdom he has not allowed carnal weapons to be used; but such only as are powerful, through God, to bring the heart into subjection: “Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.”[83] He who receives the truth, hears the voice of the king, and acknowledges his authority. To believe the truth, is to obey the Gospel; and this is to be subject to Christ as king. The Jews had expected the Messiah to set up a kingdom, which would be like the kingdoms of the earth, and surpass them in glory. The disciples of Jesus entertained similar views; and hence arose the request to sit on his right hand, and on his left, in his kingdom. Hence, too, arose their despondency when they saw him crucified. They had thought that it was he who was to restore the kingdom to Israel;[84] and his death darkened their prospects, and cut off their hopes. The faith of the expiring thief recognised the expiring Jesus as king; and prayed, “Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom:”[85] but the mourning disciples of Jesus could not see the bright prospect of his kingdom, through the darkness of the grave. Yet, the death of Jesus was necessary to the establishment of his kingdom: “For obedience unto death, he was crowned with glory and honor.”[86] And the dying love of Christ is the constraining power which brings the heart into subjection to his authority.

Wrong views respecting the nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, have been productive of much evil. The princes of this world crucified the Lord of glory, because they could not recognize him in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and not to introduce his kingdom with the pomp which the carnal mind is pleased with. And Christ has been crucified afresh, and put to open shame, by his professed followers, because of their wrong notions respecting his kingdom. A visible ecclesiastical organization, distinguished by the observance of external forms, has claimed to be the kingdom of Christ; and its power has been extended and wielded by means far different from those which Jesus authorized. To banish this corrupt Christianity from the earth, correct views respecting the kingdom of Christ must prevail.

The Messiah was to rule in the midst of his enemies; and his iron sceptre was to break in pieces, as a potter’s vessel,[87] all who are disobedient, and do not obey the truth: but those who obey the truth are “the children of the kingdom:” and to them the benefits and blessings of his reign belong. In this restricted sense, none but regenerate persons enter into his kingdom.[88] We are translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son,[89] when we receive his truth into our hearts. In this sense, no profession of religion, and no observance of external forms, can bring any one into the kingdom of Christ. The tares may resemble the wheat: but the tares are the children of the wicked one; and the good seed only are the children of the kingdom;[90] and when the Son of Man shall gather out of his kingdom whatever is offensive to him, the tares will, equally with the briars and thorns, be rejected, as not belonging properly to his kingdom, and doomed to be burned. Let it then be distinctly understood, that the kingdom of Christ is not a great visible organization, consisting of good men and bad, who are bound together by some ecclesiastical tie. He rules over all; but he accounts all as the enemies of his reign who do not obey the truth: and the hypocrite and formalist have no more part in his kingdom than Herod and Pontius Pilate.

Some obscurity has arisen in the interpretation of Scriptures in which the word kingdom occurs, from supposing that it always refers to the territory of subjects that are under the government of a king. Kingdom is king dominion, king jurisdiction. The primary idea is kingly authority. In this primary sense it is used in Luke xix. 12: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom.” See also Rev. xvii. 12. This radical idea the word retains everywhere; but it becomes so modified by the connection in which it is used, as to refer to the time, place, or circumstances in which kingly authority is exercised; to the persons over whom it is exercised; and, sometimes, to the benefits resulting from its exercise. An example of this last use is found in Rom. xiv. 17: “The kingdom of God is righteousness peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The phrases, “kingdom of heaven,” “kingdom of God,” “kingdom of Christ,” “kingdom of God’s dear Son, ” are used with reference to the reign of the Messiah. They denote God’s exercise of kingly authority in the person of the Messiah; and this radical idea, as before stated, becomes modified by the connection in which the phrases are used. When parables are introduced with the words “The kingdom of God is like,” we are to understand that some fact or truth connected with the reign of the Messiah is illustrated by the parable. It will be impossible to make sense of many passages, if the term be understood always to signify the subjects over whom Christ reigns. How, in this signification of the term, can the kingdom be like a merchantman,[91] a net,[92] a treasure?[93] “The kingdom of heaven is like to a man which sowed good seed in his field.”[94] Here, no comparison can be intended between the subjects of Christ’s reign and the man that sowed the seed. But the parable illustrates important truth commented with the reign of the Messiah. It teaches that the world, represented by the field, is under his dominion; that, for a time, the good and bad are permitted to remain together; but that a separation will finally be made, and the blessings of his reign will be enjoyed by those only who are “the good seed,” sown by himself, and who only are “the children of the kingdom.”

The mediatorial reign of Christ will include the judgment of the great day. It is said, “We must all stand at the judgment seat of Christ;” and also, in describing the sentences pronounced, “Then shall the king say,” &c. Then they who condemned and crucified Christ the king, and all who would not have him to reign over them, shall stand at his tribunal. The decisions of that day will be made according to the relation which each individual has borne to Christ. What men have done to the least of his disciples, he will regard as done to him; and, according to the dispositions so evinced, will be every man’s final doom.

Will the mediatorial reign of Christ continue after the transactions of the great day? An important change will doubtless then take place in the manner of his reign. All his enemies will have been subdued, all his ransomed people brought home, and his last act of pardoning mercy performed. Yet, we are informed that the glory of God and the Lamb will be the light of the New Jerusalem;[95] that the Lamb will be in the midst of the throne; and that he will feed the redeemed, and lead them to the fountains of living water.[96] From these representations, we appear authorized to conclude that Christ will remain the medium of communication through which the saints will for ever approach God, and receive glory and bliss from him. The language of Paul in 1 Cor. xv. 25, is not inconsistent with this opinion: “He must reign, until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” When it is said, “Until the law, sin was in the world,[97] we are not to conclude that sin was not in the world afterwards: so, when it is said, “He must reign until,” &c., we must not infer that he will not reign after this time. It will not accord with his own representation of the subject, if, when those who would not have him to reign over them, shall have been slain before his face,[98] he himself shall cease to reign. When it is said, “then shall the Son be subject to the Father,”[99] we are not to understand that this subjection excludes the idea of reigning; otherwise it would be implied that his previous reign had not been in subjection to the Father. Christ now reigns in subjection to the Father; but the harmony of his administration with the will and perfections of God, cannot fully appear while rebels go at large under his government; but when all enemies have been subdued, the harmony of his administration with the government of God, absolutely considered, will be made apparent. The coincidence of the two modes of government will be fully manifested. This will be the time of the restitution of all things.[100] He must reign until his enemies are subdued; and the heavens must receive him until the time of the restitution of all things; but he will not, then, either forsake heaven or cease to reign.

[64] Num. xxxiv. 17; Ps. ii. 6; Isaiah xxxii. 1; Zech. ix. 9; Matt. xxi. 5; John xviii. 36; Matt. xxv. 34; Heb. ii. 9; Rev. v. 13; 1 Tim. vi. 15; Rev. xvii. 14; xix. 16; Eph. i. 20–23; v. 23; Phil. ii. 9, 10.

[65] 1 Kings xix. 16.

[66] Isaiah lxi.1.

[67] Matt. xxvi. 68.

[68] Luke xxiii. 2.

[69] Luke xxii. 69.

[70] John v. 39.

[71] Acts x. 43.

[72] John iii. 28.

[73] Matt. iii. 17.

[74] Matt. xvii. 5.

[75] Matt. xxviii. 18.

[76] John xvii. 21.

[77] 1 Tim. ii. 5.

[78] Matt. ix. 6.

[79] Ex. xxxiv. 6.

[80] Ps. cx. 1.

[81] John xviii. 36.

[82] Ps. cx. 3.

[83] John xviii. 37.

[84] Luke xxiv. 21; Acts i. 6.

[85] Luke xxiii. 42.

[86] Phil. ii. 8, 9; Heb. ii. 9.

[87] Ps. ii. 9.

[88] John iii. 5.

[89] Col. i. 13.

[90] Matt. xiii. 38.

[91] Matt. xiii. 45.

[92] Matt. xiii. 47.

[93] Matt. xiii. 44.

[94] Matt. xiii. 45.

[95] Rev. xxi 23.

[96] Rev. vii. 17.

[97] Rom. v. 13.

[98] Luke xix. 27.

[99] 1 Cor. xv. 28.

[100] Acts iii. 21.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: States of Christ: Exaltation- Book Fifth-Chapter 2- Section 3

February 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Book Fifth

CHAPTER II.

SECTION III.–EXALTATION.

THE SON OF GOD, IN HUMAN NATURE, WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD, ASCENDED TO HEAVEN, AND WAS INVESTED WITH SUPREME DOMINION OVER ALL CREATURES.[20]

The facts of Christ’s exaltation, like those of his humiliation, are related in the Scripture narrative, and referred to in various parts of the sacred volume.

The exaltation, like the humiliation, produced no real change in his divine nature. It affected the manifestation of it, and also wrought a real change in the condition of the human nature. This nature is now perfectly happy. Jesus has received the joy that was set before him;[21] and saints, who are to be happy with him for ever, are said to “enter into the joy of their Lord.”[22] On this nature rests, also, the full glory of the Godhead, “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[23] As through him the brightest manifestations of the divine glory are made to intelligent creatures, so through him they receive the commands of supreme authority. “He is head of principalities and powers.” “He raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.”[24]

The glory to which Christ has been exalted, is not a subject of idle speculation, in which we have no interest. In his address to his Father, he said, in allusion to his disciples, “The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them.”[25] Hence, while we suffer with Christ,[26] and for Christ, in this world, we may rejoice in the hope of being glorified with him.

[20] Matt. xxviii.; Mark xvi.; Luke xxiv.; John xx.; Acts i. 11; vii. 56; ix. 4; 1 Cor. xv. 4-8; Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11.

[21] Heb. xii. 2.

[22] Matt. xxv. 21.

[23] 2 Cor. iv. 6.

[24] Eph. i. 20, 21.

[25] John xvii. 22.

[26] Rom. viii. 17.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: States of Christ- Humiliation- Book Fifth- Chapter 2- Section 2

February 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Book Fifth

CHAPTER II.

SECTION II.–HUMILIATION.

THE SON OF GOD ASSUMED HUMAN NATURE, AND IN THAT NATURE LIVED A LIFE OF TOIL AND SORROW, AND DIED AN IGNOMINIOUS AND PAINFUL DEATH.[12]

The full history of this wonderful humiliation, is given by the four Evangelist; and is often referred to in the New Testament, and sometimes in the prophetic declarations of the Old.

In contemplating this mystery of “God manifest in the flesh,” we are not to suppose that the divine nature underwent any real change. God cannot cease to be God. The change was in the manifestation, and not in the nature. In this manifestation, even the angels were concerned, for it is a part of the mystery that “God manifest in the flesh” was “seen of angels;”[13] but so wonderful was this new mode of manifestation, that the angels could not readily know their God, in this humble form, as the babe of Bethlehem, and the man of sorrows. Hence, they needed a special command from the eternal throne, before they could render him divine worship: “When he bringeth the first-begotten into the world, he saith, `Let all the angels of God worship him.’ “[14] But this fact, it may be objected , shows it to have been a concealment, rather than a manifestation. This, to some extent, is true; but it is a concealment resembling that by which God showed himself to Moses in the cleft of the rock, concealing the beams of insufferable brightness, that the favored servant might see the back parts of his glory. So the angels, while they behold the Godhead veiled in human nature, obtain views of the divine glory, which would otherwise have been impossible. These are the things “into which the angels desire to look.”[15] “Unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church.”–by the redemption and salvation of the Church, through the humiliation and death of Christ,–“the manifold wisdom of God.”[16]

The lowest point of Christ’s humiliation, was his death by crucifixion, and his being held for a time under the power of death, as a prisoner in the grave. Some have thought that he descended into hell; but this opinion has arisen from misinterpretation of the Scripture, “It was said, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell:”[17] but the word “hell” signifies in this place, as in many others, the unseen world, or the state of departed spirits. When it is said, “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison[18], the meaning is, that he, by his spirit, in the ministry of Noah, who was a preacher of righteousness, preached to the antediluvians, who, being disobedient, and rejecting the ministry, were swept away by the flood, and were, when these words were penned, spirits in prison.

The glorious benefits resulting to us from the deep humiliation of Christ, are intimated in the words of Paul: “that ye through his poverty might be rich.”[19] The extent of the riches which we shall acquire by this poverty, eternity must disclose.

[12] I Tim. iii. 16

[13] Phil. ii. 6.

[14] Heb. i. 6.

[15] 1 Pet. i. 12.

[16] Eph. iii. 10.

[17] Ps. xvi. 10.

[18] I Pet. iii. 19.

[19] 2 Cor. viii. 9.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: The Person of Christ: Union of Natures- Book Fifth- Chapter 1- Section 3

Book Fifth

CHAPTER I.

SECTION III.–UNION OF NATURES.

THE TWO NATURES OF JESUS CHRIST, THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN, ARE UNITED IN ONE PERSON.[119]

The name Son of God, properly denotes his divine nature; and the name Son of Man, his human nature. He frequently called himself the Son of God; more frequently, the Son of Man. Both these names were used as denoting one and the same person. The whole use of them indicates this; but there are some passages which show it more clearly than others. After speaking of himself as the Son of God, he says the Father hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the son of man.[120] Here the same person is manifestly called the Son of God, and the Son of Man. In other cases, attributes or works which belong to one nature, are ascribed to his person, denoted by the name which is derived from the other nature. “No man hath ascended up to Heaven, but he that came down from Heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in Heaven.”[121] Here he is named from his human nature, the Son of Man; while omnipresence is ascribed to him, which belongs to his divine nature. Another example of like kind is, “The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”[122] The superiority to the Sabbath belongs to his divine nature, but the name by which he is designated belongs to the human. On the other hand, he is called God, and the Lord of Glory, when his blood and his crucifixion, things pertaining to his human flesh, are the subjects of discourse. “They would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”[123] “The Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”[124]

How two natures so widely different, should be so united, we cannot understand. In the union of the body the soul of man in one person, there is a similar fact which we are unable to comprehend; but if we should disbelieve it, we should reject the testimony of our own consciousness. We have, therefore, no plea for rejecting the doctrine now before us, on the ground of mysteriousness.

The union of the two natures does not confound the properties peculiar to each. The humanity is not deified, nor the divinity humanized. So, the body of man does not become spirit, by its union with the soul; nor does the soul become matter, by its union with the body.

The union of Christ’s divinity with his humanity, is a different thing from the indwelling of the Godhead in him. The Holy Ghost dwells in believers, so that their bodies are called his temple, but this union does not constitute them one person. So, though Jesus said, “The Father is in me, and I in him,” he addressed his Father, and spoke of him, as a distinct person. The same is true of the Holy Spirit which dwelt in him, being given to him without measure.

The personal union is more than a mere manifestation of the divine nature through the human. God manifests himself in the works of creation. But this manifestation is not a personal union; otherwise, the universe must be God.

This union is indissoluble. Jesus will ever be the Lamb in the midst of the throne,[125] and will ever appear, in his glorified humanity, to the worshipping saints, who, with adoring praise, will for ever sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessings.”[126]

[119] John iii. 13; Rom. i. 4; ix. 5; 1 Cor. ii. 8; Matt. i. 23.

[120] John v. 27.

[121] John iii. 13.

[122] Mark ii. 28.

[123] 1 Cor. ii. 8.

[124] Acts xx. 28.

[125] Rev. vii. 17.

[126] Rev.. v. 12.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Believing in Jesus Christ: The Person of Christ: Divinity- Book Fifth- Chapter 1- Section 2

Book Fifth

CHAPTER I.

SECTION II.–DIVINITY.

JESUS CHRIST WAS GOD.[13]

As the humanity of Christ, conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, could not be known but from the testimony of the Scriptures; so his divinity, considering that he was born of a human mother, could not be known but from the testimony of the same unerring word. The conception by the Holy Ghost is sufficient to intimate that he was not to be an ordinary man; and the declaration that, in consequence of it, he was to be called the Son of God, leads the mind to conceive that, in some sense, he was to partake of the divine nature. Demigods, according to the heathen, had an intermediate nature between that of gods and men. But we have seen that Jesus Christ was properly a man, according to the testimony of the Scriptures; and we have now to appeal to the same testimony to learn whether he was also properly God.

The proofs on this point are abundant, and will be produced under several distinct heads.

I. The names of God are ascribed to Jesus Christ.

“The Word was God.”[14] This testimony of the beloved disciple is the more important, because it was his design to inform us who his divine Master was. As he opens his First Epistle with an account of Jesus Christ, as the “eternal life which was with the Father,”[15] so he opens his Gospel with an account of him as the Word which was with God, and which was God. The subsequent part of the chapter clearly shows that this Word became flesh,[16] in the person of Jesus Christ, and the name Word is given elsewhere, by the same writer, to Jesus Christ.[17] Now it is incredible that the Gospel should open with a declaration which has misled its readers, in all ages, into a belief that Jesus Christ is God, if he were nothing more than a mere man. To no purpose has this apostle said most earnestly, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols,”[18] if his own teachings are such as must inevitably lead to idolatry. His language is usually very plain and simple; but in this case it needs the torture of most ingenious criticism, if it does not teach the deity of Christ. He has written that we might believe in Christ, and, believing, might have life through his name;[19] but if he has so written as to lead our souls into the sin of idolatry, our faith must be to death rather than life.

“Who is over all, God blessed for ever.”[20] Christ is here called God; not in some subordinate sense, but over all, and blessed for ever. His possession of human nature is signified in the phrase, “Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” In contrast with this, his divinity is distinctly brought to view. What he was, according to the flesh, is not all that he was; but above that, he was over all, God, blessed for ever. All the criticisms which have been tried on this text leave its testimony plain and decisive.

“My Lord and my God.”[21] These words of Thomas are a brief, but very expressive declaration of his faith; and were so received by his Master: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.”[22] So, the unfolding of Christ’s true character to the mind of Nathaniel, drew forth his declaration of faith, “Thou art the son of God.”[23] So this confession of Thomas was elicited by the opening of the Saviour’s character to his mind. Both of them were doubtless taught by the same Spirit which revealed Christ’s character to Peter;[24] and the faith of both was accepted, and publicly approved. If Christ had not been God, it behoved him to correct his disciple, and save him from idolatry.

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever.”[25] In this place, as in the first chapter of John, the inspired writer is designedly stating who Jesus Christ was. He has represented him as superior to the prophets, by whom God spake in times past to the fathers;–as superior to the angels;–as the proper object of angelic worship;–and finally closes the account with quotations from the Old Testament, applied to him, in which he is called God, and Lord, and said to have made the heavens and earth, and to endure for ever. If he was not God, Paul was mistaken.

To these texts in which the name God is applied to Jesus Christ, we may add the following: “The Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”[26] “God was manifest in the flesh.”[27] “We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ; this is the true God, and eternal life.”[28] “So then every one of us must give account of himself to God;”[29] compared with the preceding verse. “He that built all things, is God,”[30] considered in connection with the context, which shows that the Son is the builder here intended.

Several other passages may be cited as pertinent examples, if the translation of them, given in our common English version, be amended. “The appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”[31] “The grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”[32] “In the kingdom of the Christ and God,” i.e. of him who is both Christ and God.[33] “Before the God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”[34] “The righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”[35] These emendations of the translation are not made arbitrarily, but are required by a rule of criticism, founded on the usage of Greek writers, as to the repetition of the article, when prefixed to two nouns connected by a conjunction.

II. The attributes of God are ascribed to Jesus Christ.

Eternity.–In a prediction concerning him by Isaiah, it is said: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”[36] The phrase “Everlasting Father: may be rendered the Father of Eternity. Were this name given to him by erring men, we might suppose it inappropriate: but it is given to him by the infallible Spirit that spoke in the ancient prophets. In another prophecy concerning him, it is said: “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”[37] We know that this prophecy referred to Christ; for it is expressly applied to him in Matt. ii. 6. In the book of Proverbs, ch. viii., Wisdom is introduced, saying; “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was….Then I was with him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”[38] The most consistent interpretation of this passage, applies it to the Christ, the Eternal Word, who is called “the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God.”[39] To these passages, we may add the words of Christ; “Before Abraham was, I am.”[40] As his human nature was not fifty years old, these words could not refer to it. They attribute existence to him of more ancient date than the time of Abraham; and, in affirming that pre-existence, the present tense, I am, is employed. This very extraordinary mode of speaking, agrees precisely with Old Testament language, describing the self-existent Jehovah; “I am that I am.” “I am hath sent me.”[41] The Jews who heard Jesus speak thus concerning himself, understood him to claim divinity; and if he did not design to do so, it is undeniable that he employed language well calculated to mislead them.

Immutability.–“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”[42] “They shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but thou art the same.”[43]

Omnipresence.–Christ promised to be with his disciples always, even to the end of the world,[44] and, not only at all times, but at all places: “Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”[45] To fulfill this promise, he must be omnipresent. The same is implied in the words, “No man hath ascended up to Heaven, but he that came down from Heaven, even the Son of man which is in Heaven.”[46] His body was on earth, when he spoke these words; and yet he declares himself to be in Heaven. This could not be true, if he were not omnipresent.

Omniscience.–Jesus knew the thoughts of men, even while shut up in their own breasts. Other prophets had this knowledge communicated to them, by special revelation, on particular occasions; but Jesus had his knowledge at all times. “He knew all men, and needed not that any one should testify of man; for he knew what was in man.”[47] To know the secrets of the heart, belongs peculiarly to Jehovah. “Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart.”[48] Yet the power of searching the heart, is expressly ascribed to Jesus. “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts.”[49] Peter appealed to Christ, as knowing the secrets of his heart, and expressly ascribes omniscience to him. “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”[50] Christ claimed omniscience in the words, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”[51] Without omniscience, Christ would not be qualified to judge the world.

Omnipotence.–Paul, feeling his own weakness, desired the power of Christ to rest upon him;[52] and he conceived of that power as infinite, when he said: “I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me.”[53] The omnipotence of Christ is manifested in the works which he performs, of which we shall presently speak more particularly. He claimed like omnipotence with the Father: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”[54] “What things soever the Father doeth, these also the Son doeth likewise.”[55] “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. No man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”[56] In the prophecy already quoted from Isaiah, he is called “the Mighty God;” and in Rev. i. 8–11, he is called “the Almighty.”

III. Divine works are ascribed to Christ.

Creation.–“All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”[57] “By him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible.”[58] We may admit, that the word “by” frequently denotes an instrument used in a work; but this is not its invariable meaning. It is applied to God the Father. “It became him, of whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.”[59] If Christ was a created instrument, used in the creation of everything else, he was himself created without such instrumentality, and the words of John were not true, “Without him was not anything made that was made.” God created all things by Jesus Christ,[60] not as a mere instrument, or as an inferior agent; otherwise it could not be said, “All things were created by him and for him.”[61] An inferior agent, employed to do a work, performs it not for himself, but for the superior who employs him. The Son co-operated with the Father in the work of creation, as supreme God. The word “by” implies no inferiority. When it is said of Christ, he by himself purged our sins,[62] himself does not denote an agent inferior to Christ.

Providence.–All things are kept in being by the power of Christ, and he must, therefore, be God. “Upholding all things by the word of his power.”[63] All the powers of the universe are under his management, and therefore all the working of providence are directed by him.

Giving of life.–Christ raised the dead to life during his personal ministry, not as prophets and apostles did, in the name and by the power of another. The apostles wrought miracles, not by their own power, but in the name of Jesus Christ.[64] Jesus, on the contrary, claimed the power which he exercised in the working of miracles. “The Son quickeneth whom he will.”[65] He claimed to exercise his power, both in the quickening of souls dead in sin, and in the resurrection of the body. “The hour is come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”[66] “The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”[67] The power of raising the dead, is attributed by Paul to Christ, and is called the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.[68]

IV. Numerous passages of the Old Testament, which unquestionably speak of Jehovah, the Supreme God, are, in the New Testament, applied to Jesus Christ. Isaiah vi. 3, compared with John xii. 41; Isaiah xl. 3, compared with Matt. iii. 1, 3; Isaiah xlv. 21–23, compared with Phil. ii. 9–11; Zach. xii. 10, compared with John xix. 37.

V. Divine worship was commanded to be rendered, and was rendered, to Jesus Christ. The angels were commanded to worship him. “When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith; “let all the angels of God worship him.” “[69] Men are commanded to believe in him, trust in him, which are acts of divine worship. This has more force when compared with the declaration; “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.”[70] Christ permitted himself to be worshipped as the Son of God.[71] He was worshipped by his disciples, after his ascension to Heaven.[72] They were accustomed to call on his name,[73] that is, to address prayer to him. So the dying Stephen prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”[74] The administering or receiving of baptism in his name, is an act of religious worship, in which he is honored equally with the Father, and the Holy Spirit.[75]

VI. The equality of the Son with the Father, is taught by Paul, in Phil. ii. 9. His example, in humbling himself, and taking on himself the form of a servant, is proposed for our imitation; but there was no humiliation in his taking on himself the form of a servant, if that had been the only character that he could rightfully assume. But he had a right to claim equality with God, and this fact showed the greatness of his humiliation. A parallel passage found in 2 Cor. viii. 9: “Though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor.”

VII. If Jesus Christ was not god, he was justly condemned to death.

It is difficult to state and unfold this argument, without an appearance of irreverence. To charge the divine Jesus with crime, even hypothetically, is grating to the feelings of those who love and adore him. But it must be remembered that he who is, by this argument, proved to be chargeable with crime, is the Jesus of another gospel, a mere man, whose character and conduct are to be judged like those of other men.

Jesus was condemned to death by the Jewish Sanhedrim. That council reported to Pilate, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”[76] On a former occasion, Jesus said unto them: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”[77] And they charged him with blasphemy, because he made God his [own] Father, thereby making himself equal with God. It was in this peculiar sense that the charge of making himself the Son of God was construed, or it would not have amounted to blasphemy. The high priest who was the president of the council, put Christ on his oath, “I adjure thee by the living God;”[78] and propounded to him two questions which, though mentioned together by Matthew and Mark, are by Luke stated as proposed separately. “Art thou the Christ?” and “Art thou the Son of God?” It was the affirmative reply of Jesus to the last of these questions, which was the ground of his condemnation. Jesus knew the sense in which the question was propounded; and he was bound, on correct principles or morals, in answering the question, to answer it honestly and truly in the sense in which he knew that the high priest meant it. He therefore affirmed on oath, at that tribunal, that he was the Son of God, in this high sense. For this he was condemned to death; and if he was not what he claimed to be, he was guilty of perjury and of his own death. On this charge he was condemned to death, by the Council, but God justified him by raising him form the dead. “Declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”[79] This proved that his condemnation was unjust; and that he was truly what he had claimed to be, the Son of God, in the sense which the Jews accounted blasphemy.

The last argument exhibits the importance of his doctrine in a strong light. According to the law of Moses, any one who enticed to idolatry was to be punished with death.[80] The council before which Jesus was tried, was the court which had cognisance of this offence . A mere man, who should claim divine honor to himself, was guilty of this capital crime; and although the Romans had taken away from the Jews the power of inflicting capital punishment, the council might, with perfect propriety, report to the governor concerning such a man, “By our law he ought to die.” This was their decision, as reported to Pilate, concerning Jesus; and, if he was not entitled to the divine honor which he claimed, the decision was just.

Two accusations were brought against Jesus. Before the Roman governor he was charged with treason against Caesar, by making himself king. Into this accusation the governor inquired, asking Jesus, “Art thou a king?” Jesus answered in the affirmative, as in the other case; but, that he might not convict himself of a crime of which he was not guilty, he explained, “My kingdom is not of this world.”[81] His reply was satisfactory to the governor, who acquitted him on this charge. In the other case he not only claimed to be the Son of God, but accompanied the claim with no explanation, to prevent the passing of the sentence. He might have said, I am the Son of God, but not in such a sense as to claim divine honor. He made no such explanation. If Jesus was not entitled to divine honor, he knew it; and he knew also that he deserved death, under the decision of this court, for claiming it. To make the claim before the court, was to be guilty of the crime. To answer as he did, on oath, if he did not mean to make the claim, was perjury. And to permit the sentence against him to pass, without any effort to explain, was to be guilty of his own death. It follows, therefore, that Jesus Christ, if not entitled to divine honor, was a wicked man and a deceiver.

We might suppose the possibility of mistake, concerning Christ’s claim of divine honor before the court that condemned him, if he had habitually disclaimed such honor in his previous ministry. But, instead of this, he had taught, “It is the will of God, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.”[82] He claimed superiority to the law of the Sabbath, and the right of working every day, as his Father did: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”[83] He claimed to have been before Abraham, in language which appropriately intimates self-existence: “Before Abraham was, I am.”[84] He claimed to be one with the Father: “I and my Father are one.”[85] Moreover, he never rejected divine honor, when offered him. Paul and Barnabas, at Lystra, indignantly repelled those who approached to do them honor as gods;[86] and the angel hastily prevented John from worshipping him: “See thou do it not. Worship God.”[87] When the people were minded to take him by force, and make him king, he escaped from them. He refused to be “a judge or divider,”[88] and declined all civil honor, in perfect consistence with his disclaimer of it before Pilate. But in equal consistence with his claim of divine honor before the Sanhedrim, he never rejected it when offered by any one. The man of whom he had given sight worshipped him as the Son of God,[89] without rebuke; and Thomas addressed him, “My Lord and my God;” not only without rebuke, but the approbation.[90] To all this we may add, that the disciples to whom he taught the principles of his religion, and who believed that they had the mind of Christ, were accustomed to render him divine honor. Many proofs of his deity have been cited above, from their writings. That Paul did not consider him a mere man, is most clear from Gal. i. 1: Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ;” and the whole tenor of his writings shows, that he felt such obligations to Christ, and reposed such trust in him, as are utterly inconsistent with the belief that he was a mere creature.

From these facts, we must believe that the deity of Christ is an essential doctrine of Christianity. As there can be no religion without the existence of God; so there can be no Christian creed in which the doctrine of Christ’s deity is not a fundamental article.

But, clear and abundant as the proofs on this subject are, the humble inquirer into the truth as it is in Jesus, is sometimes perplexed with difficulties respecting it. The more common of these it will be proper briefly to consider.

Obj. 1. This doctrine is inconsistent with the Unity of God. This objection will be considered hereafter, under the head of “The Trinity.”

Obj. 2. In various passages Jesus Christ is spoken of as distinct from God, and sometimes in such a manner as seems to deny his proper deity.

Before we proceed, under this head, to examine particular passages, we may premise that the Scriptures speak of a two-fold connection between the Godhead and the man Jesus Christ–a personal union and an indwelling. The personal union is not with the whole Godhead, but with one person or subsistence therein. It was not the whole Godhead that was made flesh; but the Word that was with God, and was God. God sent forth, not the whole Godhead, but his Son, made of a woman.[91] On the other hand, the indwelling is of the whole Godhead. In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.[92] The Father dwelt in him,[93] and the Spirit was given to him without measure.[94] This indwelling did not make him one person with the Father and the Holy Spirit. His body was a temple for the whole Godhead. As the Holy Ghost, in the prophets, was distinct from the prophets; so the Godhead, dwelling in Jesus Christ, was distinct from the person of Jesus Christ.

John xvii. 3. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God; and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The Father is here addressed, as the representative of the Godhead. The Godhead that sent Christ is distinct from the person of Jesus Christ; but the person sent was nevertheless divine. His divinity, though not affirmed in the passage, may be inferred from the fact that the knowledge of him was necessary to eternal life.

1 Cor. viii. 6. “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” Here, again, the Father is the representative of the entire Godhead, which is in him, as the object of ultimate worship, and is one. “Of whom are all things.” The same Godhead is in Jesus Christ as the medium of manifestation. “By whom are all things.” This text does not affirm that Jesus Christ is a divine person; but his qualification to be universal Lord implies it. This text no more denies Jesus Christ to be God, than it denies the Father to be Lord.

In the same manner other similar passages may be explained.

Obj. 3. The various passages which speak of Jesus Christ as inferior to the Father, as sent by the Father, and as working by the power of the Father, appear to deny his proper deity.

The explanation of all these passages is given by Paul in Phil. ii. 5–8. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The Son of God, though truly divine, and entitled to divine honor, humbled himself; and, by his union with human nature, was made under the law. He was not originally under the law, but was made under it. Hence we read of his inferiority to the Father, his subjection to the Father’s authority, &c. Inferiority to office does not require inferiority of nature. A subject is inferior in authority to his king; though he is equal to him in nature, and may surpass him in intellectual and moral worth. Jesus Christ is inferior to the Father in his human nature, and his mediatorial office; but in his divine nature he is God over all.

Obj. 4. Jesus Christ appears, in Luke xviii. 19, to admit that he had not the goodness peculiar to God; and, in Mark xiii. 32 to deny that he had omniscience.

“Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, that is God.” These words are a question. Questions sometimes imply strong affirmation; but, in such cases, the reason of asking them must be apparent. In the present case there is nothing in the whole context indicating that it was Christ’s design to explain his own character; and we may therefore conclude that the question was asked for another purpose. The young ruler thought himself to be a good man, and addressing Christ as another good man, from whom he was willing to receive instruction, asked, in the spirit of self-righteousness, “What good thing shall I do?”[95] The whole of Christ’s discourse with this young man was designed to convince him of his self-righteousness, and the question with which it commenced was precisely adapted to this purpose. It was calculated to lead his mind to the humbling reflection that all human goodness, such as he trusted in, and such as he had attributed to Christ, was insignificant and worthless when brought into comparison with God. Whether divine goodness belonged to Jesus Christ is here neither affirmed nor denied. This question the ruler never thought of, and Christ made no reference to it, and said nothing about it.

Mark xiii. 31. “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven; neither the Son, but my Father only.” This passage must be explained in harmony with other Scriptures. Were Gen. xviii. 21 the only passage of Scripture from which we could learn anything respecting the extent of God’s knowledge, we should conclude that it is not unlimited; and, in like manner, if Mark xiii. 31 were the only text from which we could learn the extent of Christ’s knowledge, we should infer that he is not omniscient. But the proofs of his omniscience, as before adduced, are so abundant, that we are obliged to seek an explanation of this passage which shall be consistent with them. When we consider that it was the spirit of Christ in the ancient prophets, that enabled them to make their numerous predictions–that he personally predicted so many things, and so much in particular concerning this very day,[96] and that this day is emphatically called the day of Christ, the day of the Lord,[97] it seems improbable that he should be wholly ignorant of the time of its coming. He describes himself as a lord, coming unexpectedly on his servants after a season of absence. Now, although we can see a propriety that the servants should not know when their lord would come, no reason appears why the lord himself should not know it. These facts, therefore, favor an interpretation of the passage which will be consistent with the doctrine of Christ’s omniscience.

The most obvious method of interpreting the passage in harmony with other Scriptures, is to suppose that it refers to the knowledge which Christ’s humanity possessed. In this nature he was not omniscient; for it is said[98] that Jesus increased in wisdom. The Holy Spirit communicated to his human soul, from time to time, such knowledge as was necessary; but not all knowledge, for human nature could not be made omniscient. There is, however, an objection to this interpretation, on the ground that Christ could not, with truth, deny of himself any knowledge with either nature possessed. This objection would be embarrassing, if it were not true that Christ, in the passage, has placed his knowledge and that of his Father in contrast. In the same manner he has denied omnipotence of himself, in John v. 30; not absolutely, but as distinct from his Father. “I can, of mine own self, do nothing.” In the same verse, he, in the same sense, speaks of himself as without omniscience also; “As I hear, I judge.” The question, “When shall these things be?” was proposed by the disciples[99] to Christ as visible before them in his human nature. It was not proper that they should receive an answer; for it was intended that they should watch; “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.”[100] As the human nature of Christ was the medium through which the disciples received their instruction, and as this was one of the times and seasons which the Father had reserved in his own power,[101] we may suppose that the Holy Spirit had not communicated, and the holy humanity of Jesus had not sought this knowledge, which was unnecessary to any of the purposes of his present ministry. In this view it was well calculated to check the inquisitiveness of his disciples into this matter which it was not the will of God that they should know, for him to inform them, that though the infinite stores of his Father’s knowledge were ever accessible to him, he had not chosen, in his distinct character, in which he revealed the counsels of God to them, to inquire into the matter, and could not, therefore, communicate to them the knowledge which their unprofitable curiosity lead them to desire.

Some have thought it a more satisfactory solution of the difficulty to take the word know in the sense to make known. This sense it is alleged to have in 1 Cor. ii. 2; but this may be doubted. It seems more proper to regard the language as a common rhetorical figure, according to which the cause is put for the effect. So David said, “I was dumb;”[102] meaning, “I was as silent as if I had been dumb.” So Paul determined, in his ministry among the Corinthians, to be as though he knew nothing but Christ crucified. In the same manner, the words of Christ may be interpreted as if he had said, “Your inquiries into the precise time of my coming will all be in vain. No source of information will be available, to give you this knowledge. As to the effect, it will be to you as if the knowledge were possessed by none but the Father; who will make it known, not by the ministry of men, angels, or his Son; but by his own hand, in the execution of his purpose.”

The two views of this passage which have been presented, differ somewhat from each other; but the inquirer is not bound to decide on their comparative merit, or to accept either as unquestionably correct. A perfect understanding of every difficult text, though desirable, is not indispensable to the exercise of piety.

Obj. 5. Jesus Christ is called “the beginning of the creation of God;” and “the firstborn of every creature.” These passages, while they attribute a high character to him, nevertheless speak of him as a creature.

Rev. iii. 14. “The beginning of the creation of God.” This text may be explained by others in the same book: Rev. i. 8; xxi. 6; xxii. 13. When Jesus Christ is called “the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” we are not to understand that he was created before other creatures, and that other creatures will be annihilated, leaving him to survive them. The sense is, that all things are from him and to him; or, as Paul says, “All things were created by him and for him.”[103] He is the original and the first cause of all things.” His being the beginning, is explained “He is before all things.” In this sense he is the beginning of the creation of God, i. e. its original cause.

Col. i. 15. “The first born of every creature.” The clause “first born of every creature,” may be grammatically construed in two different ways. The genitive “of every creature” may be governed by the word “first born,” as a noun; or by the word “first,” as a adjective of the superlative degree in composition. The objection assumes that the last of these is the true construction. Having decided on this, it then infers that Christ is one of the creatures, because the superlative degree usually compares one thing of a group with the rest of that group. But this usage of the superlative, though general, is not invariable: for this same word “first” is twice used in the first chapter of John,[104] where the comparison is a different kind, and our translators have, on this account, rendered the word as if it had been in the comparative, instead of the superlative degree; “He was before me.” In proof that Paul did not design to group Christ with the creatures, as one of them, the following arguments may be adduced. The descriptive terms employed do not accord with this supposition. To make him one of the group, Christ should have been called the first created of all creatures, or the first born of all born: but the distinction between being born and being created excludes him from the group of creatures.

2. There is a further incongruity in the use of the word “every.” We could not say, Solomon was the wisest of every man. Yet the objection makes Paul use this mode of speech. It is true that his incongruity may be in part removed by translating the clause thus: “the first born of all creation.” But even this would not naturally express the idea supposed to be intended. A plural noun is needed, to denote the group of which Christ is supposed to be one of the constituent parts.

3. The context proves that Paul did not design to compare Christ with created things, as one to the number. He says, “All things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”[105] This language clearly excludes him from the number of created things.

If we admit that the genitive is governed by the adjective, the arguments adduced should satisfy us that the adjective must be understood, as in the places referred to in the first chapter of John. But the construction, which takes the genitive to be governed by the noun, is preferable. According to this, we may translate the clause, “the whole creation’s first born.” God said, “I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth.”[106] The term “first born” here denotes superiority of dignity, in comparison with the kings of the earth. To the first born belonged, not only superior dignity, but superior right of inheritance. Christ, as the Son, was appointed “heir of all things.”[107] In respect both of dignity and inheritance, he is “the creation’s first born,” the king and heir of the whole creation.

From the fact that the same Greek word is used in v. 18, some have supposed that this verse is explanatory of the former, and that Christ is the first born of every creature, because he is the first born from the dead. Others, by accenting the Greek word in v. 15 on a different syllable, make it to signify “first begetter,” or “first producer.”

Some, who admit the proper deity of Christ, suppose that his human soul was created before all other creatures, and continued without a human body until the incarnation in the womb of the virgin. But, according to this opinion, Christ was not “made like his brethren.” Moreover, as that human soul, being a creature, must have been under law to God from the beginning of its existence, it was not true that he was made under the law, when he was made of a woman, as is taught in Gal. iv. 4. We have seen that the texts do not require such a hypothesis to explain them.

Obj. 6. Jesus, in John x. 35, 36, explained his use of the phrase, “Son of God,” as not implying proper deity. “If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

As this objection opposes a very strong argument for the divinity of Christ, it will be proper to give it a careful examination.

In examining the tenth chapter of John, in which these words are found, we may observe the following facts:

1. The claim to be the Christ was not that on which the charge of blasphemy was founded.

While Jesus was walking in Solomon’s porch, the Jews gathered round him, and asked, “How long makest thou us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” They had asked John the Baptist, “Art thou the Christ?” The Jews were in expectation that their Messiah would make his appearance about this time; and, from the manner in which these questions were proposed, it is plain that the claim to be the Christ could not necessarily be blasphemous. It only needed to be sustained by proper proof, and the proposing of the question intimated a readiness to admit the claim. Jesus did not directly answer their question, but charged them with rejecting the testimony which he had previously given concerning himself, and the proofs which he had adduced. All this they bore, without charging him with blasphemy.

2. The charge of blasphemy was founded on the claim to be the Son of God.

This point is clear from the words of Christ, “Say ye, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?” He had spoken of God as his Father in a peculiar relation, according to which he could say, “I and my Father are one.” This was said after such declarations concerning the power by which his sheep were kept, as represented himself omnipotent as well as his Father. His oneness with the Father was, therefore, such a unity as implied his possession of divine attributes. So the Jews understood him; and this they distinctly declared to be the ground of their charge: “For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; because thou being a man, makest thyself God.” On a former occasion they had made out the same charge against him on the same ground. He had spoken of God as his father in a peculiar sense, which implied co-operation with the Father, beyond what a mere creature could claim; and they who heard him, understanding the high claim which he set up, charged him with blasphemy, because “he called God his Father, making himself equal with God.”[108] It was precisely on this ground that he was reported to Pilate, by the Jewish Sanhedrim, as worthy of death: “By our law, he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”[109] They also reported to Pilate that “he made himself Christ a king;” but they do not say that for so doing he deserved to die by their law. They said, “Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”[110] This was an offence of which the Roman law might take cognisance , and which Pilate might judge; but the other offence was a sin of which the Roman law would take no cognisance . The charge of blasphemy was investigated by the Jewish court, and was not made out on the claim to be “Christ a king.”

3. Jesus knew that the charge of blasphemy would be left without foundation, if he should explain that, in claiming divine Sonship, he did not mean to claim divine attributes or honors.

The charge of blasphemy was, for making himself God, and equal with God. Now, the Jews called God their Father; and believers and angels are called sons of God. To claim sonship in this sense could not be blasphemy. Jesus knew all this, and showed himself able to avail himself of the plea which might be based on this distinction. He referred to the Scripture use of the term “gods,” in its application to Hebrew magistrates; and showed clearly, that, if the words which he had used were to be justified by availing himself of this distinction, he understood well how to do it.

4. Jesus did not plead, that in making himself the Son of God, he did not intend to claim divine attributes or honors.

What has been supposed to imply this, is merely a question, which affirms nothing: “Say ye?” In this aspect, it is like the question proposed to the young ruler: “Why callest thou me good?” Jesus was not now on trial before a regular court, but was addressed by a company of malignant and captious men, to whom he did not feel bound to give answers and explanations at their demand. When they asked to know plainly, whether he was the Christ, instead of answering them, he charged them with rejecting the testimony and proofs which he had already given, and with murderous intentions towards him. So, when they state their charge of blasphemy, he charged them with inconsistency in making it out. They were desirous to condemn him. When he was finally delivered to the Roman governor, “Pilate knew that the chief priests had for envy delivered him to them.”[111] Jesus, who knew what was in man, fully understood that their pretended jealousy for the divine honor, was hypocritical. Some of them, as members of the great council, could readily have found Scripture for being themselves styled “Gods,” yet they would give no patient attention to the proofs which Jesus offered, to sustain his claim to the dignity he assumed.

5. Instead of leaving the matter to rest on the plea which these words have been supposed to imply, Jesus reasserted his intimate union with the Father: “That ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.”[112] After this, it is added, “therefore they sought again to take him.” It is manifest that the Jews did not understand him to retract the claim which had given them offence .

The Jewish magistrates, though called gods, in a subordinate sense of the term, had nothing of that intimate union with the Father which Jesus claimed. They were, after all, mortal men. “I have said ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High; but ye shall die like men.”[113] But concerning himself, Jesus had said: “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”[114] “The Son quickeneth whom he will.”[115] “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.”[116] “The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son.”[117] “I and my Father are one.”[118] If, after making these high claims, Jesus had quailed before his enemies, and sought shelter in likening himself to mortal judges, called gods, he would not have closed his address by re-asserting that which had given offence. “Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.”

We should remember that Jesus was not now on trial. These words were not spoken before the Sanhedrim, where the plea which they are supposed to contain, was needed, if needed at all. When formally arraigned before that tribunal, Jesus did not object to their jurisdiction, nor to the oath administered by the high priest. He answered directly and plainly the question which the high priest propounded, though he knew well that the answer which he gave would, in the judgment of the court, convict him of blasphemy. Where now is the plea which he is supposed to have made on the former occasion? He then understood its bearing on the point. Has he forgotten it now? The plea urged on a former occasion, at a different place, to a different company, when not on trail, and not on oath, cannot avail now unless repeated in due form. Besides, when before made, if made at all, it was obscure, and hidden under the form of a question. It is now needed in plainness and by direct affirmation. But Jesus does not produce the plea. Let those who urge the objection we are considering, account for his silence.

[13] Mic. v. 2; Heb. i. 8; xiii. 8; Rev. i. 8, 18; John ii. 24; x. 15; xxi. 17; Acts i. 24; Rev. ii 23; Matt. xviii. 20; xxviii. 20; John i. 48; Col ii. 3; Jude 25; Matt. iii. 17; Luke i. 35; x. 22; John v. 23; 1 John v. 20; Matt. xxviii. 19; Isaiah xl. 3; Zech. ii. 8, 10; iv. 8; Mal. iii. 1; Matt. iii. 3; 1 Cor. xv. 47; Rev. xix. 16; Isaiah ix. 6; John i. 1; Rom. ix. 5; 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. i. 8; 1 John v. 20; Phil. ii. 6; Matt. xxviii. 9; Luke xxiii. 42; Acts vii. 59; Rev. v. 12; John i. 3, 10; Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 10; Neh. ix.

[14] John i. 1.

[15] 1 John i. 3.

[16] John i. 14.

[17] Rev. xix. 13.

[18] 1 John v. 21.

[19] John xx. 31.

[20] Rom. ix. 5.

[21] John xx. 28.

[22] John xx. 29.

[23] John i. 49.

[24] Matt. xvi. 17.

[25] Heb. i. 8.

[26] Acts xx. 28.

[27] 1 Tim. iii. 16.

[28] 1 John v. 20.

[29] Rom. xiv. 12.

[30] Heb. iii. 4.

[31] Titus ii. 13.

[32] 2 Thess. i. 12.

[33] Eph. v. 5.

[34] 1 Tim. v. 21.

[35] 2 Peter i. 1.

[36] Isaiah ix. 6.

[37] Micah v. 2.

[38] Prov. viii. 23–31.

[39] 1 Cor. i. 24.

[40] John viii. 58.

[41] Ex. iii. 14.

[42] Heb. xiii. 8.

[43] Heb. i. 11, 12.

[44] Matt. xxviii. 20.

[45] Matt. xviii. 20.

[46] John iii. 13.

[47] John ii. 25.

[48] Jer. xvii. 10.

[49] Rev. ii. 23.

[50] John xxi. 17.

[51] Matt. xi. 29.

[52] 2 Cor. xii. 9.

[53] Phil. iv. 13.

[54] John v. 17.

[55] John v. 19.

[56] John x. 27, 28.

[57] John i. 3.

[58] Col. i. 16.

[59] Heb. ii. 10.

[60] Eph. iii. 9.

[61] Col. i. 16.

[62] Heb. i. 3.

[63] Heb. i. 3.

[64] Acts iii. 12; iv. 10.

[65] John v. 21.

[66] John v. 25.

[67] John v. 28, 29.

[68] Phil. iii. 21.

[69] Heb. i. 6.

[70] Jer. xvii. 5.

[71] John ix. 38.

[72] Luke xxiv. 52.

[73] Acts ix. 14.

[74] Acts vii. 59.

[75] Matt. xxviii. 19.

[76] John xix. 7.

[77] John v. 17.

[78] Matt. xxiv. 62.

[79] Rom. i. 4.

[80] Deut. xiii. 6, 8.

[81] John xviii. 36.

[82] John v. 23.

[83] John v. 17.

[84] John viii. 58.

[85] John x. 30.

[86] Acts xiv. 15.

[87] Rev. xxii. 9.

[88] Luke xii. 14.

[89] John ix. 38.

[90] John xx. 28, 29.

[91] Gal. iv. 4.

[92] Col. ii. 9.

[93] John xiv. 10.

[94] John iii. 34.

[95] Matt. xix. 16.

[96] Phil. i. 6.

[97] Cor. v. 5.

[98] Luke ii. 52.

[99] Mark xiii. 4.

[100] Mark xiii. 35.

[101] Act i. 7.

[102] Ps. xxxix. 9.

[103] Col. i. 16.

[104] John i. 15, 30.

[105] Col. i. 16, 17.

[106] Ps. lxxxix. 27.

[107] Heb. i. 2.

[108] John v. 17, 18.

[109] John xix. 7.

[110] John xix. 12.

[111] Matt. xxvii. 18.

[112] John x. 38.

[113] Ps. lxxxii. 6, 7.

[114] John v. 26.

[115] John v. 21.

[116] John v. 25.

[117] John v. 22.

[118] John x. 30.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology