The World's Redemption


Chapter 21 - God, Spirit, Angels and Christ (Continued)

The Sonship of Christ

The first promise of Jesus in the Scriptures is in Genesis 3:15--"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." From prophecies and promises which came after this throughout the Old Testament, it is evident that the words "seed of the woman" were intended to be emphasized as meaning that the promised seed would not be begotten according to the ordinary laws of nature, but that he would be the seed of the woman through supernatural interposition; and therefore, in a special sense, the Son of God. His mother being of the human race, he would be the "Son of Man" only in the sense of being of human nature inherited from his mother. Hence, when it is said of him that he was "made of the seed of David, according to the flesh"--(Rom. 1: 3) and called the Son of David, it is evident that this relationship was not by direct paternity, but only by maternity. It is only by keeping this in view that we can understand the two classes of scripture which speak of him--one in which he is called the Son of Man; the other in which he is called the Son of God, the "only begotten Son."

The special and emphatic manner in which he is frequently called the Son of God clearly shows that he was of divine begettal; and when we keep in mind that he was "made of a woman" and that he originated by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, we shall be able to properly understand how he could be divine and yet human; each aspect will be seen in its true light as combined in one who could be a Saviour indeed and a mediator between God and men--the direct offspring of God as a means of manifesting the divine attributes; and "made like unto his brethren" in nature in order that he might be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" and thus be a "merciful high priest," as the result of experiencing the suffering of mankind.

The following testimonies show him to be the Son of God:

Jer. 23: 5--Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Is. 7: 14--Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matt. 1: 23--Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Mark. 1: 1--The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mark 9: 7--And there was a cloud that overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud saying, This is my beloved Son, hear him.

Luke 1: 35--Therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

John 5: 17-36--But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work, etc.

Luke 1: 31-32--And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.

Gal. 4: 4--But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

Eph. 3: 14--For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heb. 1: 2--Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom he made the worlds.

Heb. 3: 5, 6--And Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant; for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house.

Heb. 5: 5-8--Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

I. John 4: 15--Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

I. John 5: 5--Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Acts 3: 13--The God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up.

Jesus refers to himself in the two relationships when declaring himself the saviour of mankind, in John 3: 14, 18--"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." The two relationships are here presented in a manner to show how completely Jesus was qualified to meet the requirements of the fallen race. A "son of man" merely had never been found, during four thousand years, who could accomplish the work; and yet the redeemer must be son of man in order to practically and representatively redeem fallen human nature by overcoming its sin-produced proclivities. But a son of man merely was not equal to the task; and had such an one done so there would not thereby have been a manifestation of God's love and the glory due to Him as the Saviour. Therefore Jesus must be "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1: 14) as well as the "Son of man" according to the flesh in order that the work of redemption might be possible.

Those who deny that Jesus was the Son of God by miraculous begettal, endeavor to prove that those passages which speak of his begettal by the Holy Spirit are spurious. But the evidence when fairly viewed will not sustain their claims. We cannot here enter into a critical examination of the authenticity of such passages. Even if they could be fairly expunged from the New Testament the proof of the divine sonship of Jesus would still be clear throughout the Scriptures. That he is called the Son of God in passages about whose authenticity there is no question, even by those who believe him to be the son of Joseph, all will admit. But it is claimed that it is sonship in the same sense as God's people all become His children, by "the spirit of adoption." If this were the only sense in which Jesus was the Son of God, there would be no force in Paul's words in speaking of Moses as a servant as compared with Jesus as a son; for in the sense of adoption Moses was a son. Then, too, our Lord's argument which silenced his enemies, when he asked how could David call Jesus Lord, if the question had involved the matter of spiritual sonship only, would not have silenced the cavilers. They could have answered that Jesus was more righteous than David and therefore exalted to become his Lord. But they knew he did not mean a spiritual sonship; and so the difficult question then was, as it is now, viz.: If Jesus was a mere son of man by begettal, how could a father call him Lord? The answer is to be found only in that which Jesus' argument proved--that though he was the son of David by descent according to the flesh, yet he was the Son of God by direct begettal and therefore David could rightly call him Lord.

The spiritual relationship of sonship to God throughout the Scriptures as applied to men has always been dependent upon Christ, and therefore secondary in relation to his sonship. Jesus as the saviour was the prospective means by which all became the children of God from Adam to Christ; and the retrospective means from his death down to our day. Had he been a mere man this could not have been the case; for there has never been a mere man who could redeem himself and give to God a ransom.

The fallacy of limiting the divine sonship of Jesus to that of the spiritual relation which subsists between God and his people through Christ reduces the Redeemer to equality with the redeemed, and thereby makes redemption impossible. The Redeemer must be able to render what the redeemed cannot render. That which was required was a perfect sinless character developed in the fallen nature of the race; and no man of both human paternity and human maternity could meet the demands; while one of divine paternity would be possessed of power which, if faithfully exercised, would meet the requirements of the law of the spirit of life. In this manner God would be the Saviour in "laying help upon one made mighty," and yet the most strenuous moral efforts would be necessary on the part of the Son so begotten to utilize the imparted latent power in order to work out redemption by a life of perfect holiness. This beautiful arrangement gives God the glory for the manifestation of his love in begetting a Son capable of accomplishing the required end; and it also allows for the merit due to Jesus for the proper exercise of his mental and moral powers under the most severe trials.

To see how utterly impossible it is reasonably to apply the words of scripture which declare the sonship of Jesus to that spiritual sonship which subsists in God's people generally, it is only necessary to read some of the passages given and suppose them applicable to mere men. The Apostle Paul was a son of God by adoption; but where would be the force of the following words if applied to him?--"Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered." Sonship here must, to give any force to the words, mean more than sonship in relation to Paul or any other spiritual son. If the sonship is of the same character, why not read, "Whosoever shall confess that Paul is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God?" "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Paul is the Son of God." And yet Paul was a son of God. Is it not evident that the sonship of Jesus is of a different character, and that salvation is predicated upon belief in such a sonship because it gives the glory and honor to him to whom it belongs, in that he "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here is a sonship which is the foundation of the spiritual sonship of all God's people, and one with which no other is comparable.

The words "only begotten Son" cannot mean sonship in the sense that all of God's people are called "sons of God." There is an attempt by some to confine these words to Christ after his resurrection, basing the claim on Rom. 1: 4--emphasizing the words, "according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead," as if these prove that he was "the only begotten Son" from the dead to eternal life only. But in John 3: 16-18 he is called the "only begotten Son" before his resurrection. The passage in Romans does not say that he became the Son of God by resurrection; but it is "concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." The Diaglott is more emphatic yet; "concerning that son of his, who was born of the Posterity of David as to the flesh; who was designated the Son of God in Power as to the spirit of holiness, by his Resurrection from the Dead." It is not that he was constituted Son of God by his resurrection; but his resurrection was a fact which declared the truth of his previous claim to divine sonship; for only a Son of God in the sense that Jesus was could triumph over death and the grave, this depending upon a "holy one" which four thousand years had failed to produce among mere men.

To teach that Jesus was the son of Joseph by begettal is to put trust for salvation in an arm of flesh instead of in the "arm of the Lord" (Is. 53: 1). In every case where he is spoken of as the son of Joseph it is "as was supposed," or in the legal sense of sonship. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke show that Joseph was the natural son of Jacob, and the son-in-law of Heli, Mary's name being omitted according to Jewish custom, and the link reaching from Joseph to her father; which makes Joseph the putative father of Jesus. The two genealogies trace Jesus back to David through two lines--one in the legal sense through Joseph, and the other in the natural sense through Mary. By this, his right to David's throne was rendered indisputable and the mouths of his enemies were stopped; for, taking them on their own claim, that Jesus was the son of Joseph, there was the pedigree complete, though in fact it was a legal pedigree. On the other hand, on his mother's side the descent was without a broken link. Moreover, since David's throne was "the throne of the Lord," the divine begettal of Jesus constituted him the "Son" of whom the parable represents his enemies as saying, "This is the heir;" and by this also he had the divine right to "the throne of the Lord over Israel." From every point of view, therefore, Jesus' right to the throne was complete; a fact which David foresaw and which divine inspiration testified to beforehand, when David in spirit called Jesus Lord, and yet knowing that he would be his son.

In John 6: 32-58, Jesus declares himself to be the antitypical manna; and says that his flesh was the bread which came down from heaven. The bread which the children of Israel ordinarily subsisted on came from God in the sense that He is the giver of all things to all creatures. This, however, is the provision God has made for the necessities of his creatures through the means of natural laws; but the manna in the wilderness was provided by supernatural power, and it thus came from God in a special sense, i. e. in the sense that special power from heaven produced from things material on the earth the bread which was called manna. This manner of speaking of things coming from heaven is illustrated by the "house which is from heaven" (II. Cor. 5: 2), with which the worthy saints will be "clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life" (verse 4). It is not to be supposed that the "house" here means a literal, immortal body that will come down from heaven; but the power, through the vehicle of God's spirit, will specially and supernaturally operate in causing "mortality to be swallowed up of life." In this sense the immortalized saints are represented as a corporate body in the symbol of "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:1, 2). Supernatural power, therefore, operating upon natural things through the Holy Spirit, effects divine or heavenly results; and these results, whether bread to sustain natural life, as in the manna; the immortal bodies of the individual saints when redeemed; or all of them as a corporate body--all these are spoken of as coming from God or from heaven.

Now apply these illustrations of Scripture phraseology to the words of Jesus in John 6: 33, 38, 51 and his divine sonship is clearly proved. Bread generated out of nature's substances by the direct power of God is, in scripture phraseology, bread or manna from heaven. A mortal body changed into an immortal body by direct and supernatural power is a "house from heaven" The company of the redeemed, immortalized and energized by spirit power, are represented as a "city coming down from God out of heaven," an occurrence which is otherwise described as the result of the Saviour coming from heaven to earth to "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working (energy) whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself" (Phil. 3: 20, 21). Upon the same principle the "fruit of David's loins" in the flesh of Mary, formed and energized by the Holy Spirit, became "that holy thing" conceived in her which was the Son of God; and the "word that was thus made flesh" and "dwelt among men" as "the only begotten of the Father" was the true manna that came down from heaven; because the doctrine of his divine sonship and consequently his triumph in the grand work of redemption, believed, or mentally eaten and digested, is the true manna, the bread of life to all who "confess that Jesus is the Son of God."

When Jesus asked his disciples, "Whom say ye that I am?" and Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16: 15, 16), who will presume to say that this sonship was nothing more than that of Peter's, who was one of those to whom he "gave power to become the sons of God" (John 1: 12)? Was Peter confessing for Jesus a sonship which he could as well confess for himself and all other believers? To answer affirmatively would be to lose the blessing pronounced upon Peter--"Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father (your Father in the same sense?) which is in heaven." Let us put our trust in the "arm of the Lord" stretched out in Jesus to save mankind, giving God the glory, yet honoring Jesus for his fidelity, faithfulness and love; believing with all our hearts that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

JESUS AS THE SON OF MAN

Men are prone to go to extremes. The popular doctrine of the Trinity, as one extreme, would seem to be responsible for the other--that of Jesus being a mere man by natural begettal. The truth lies between these extremes.

The phrase "the divinity of Jesus" means, popularly, that he was "God very God"--the second person of the Trinity; and to dispute the Trinity is regarded as a denial of the divinity of Christ. The Scriptures teach the divinity of Christ as well as his humanity; but not such a divinity as is meant by the Trinity. The Trinity is virtually a denial of the true God and Jesus Christ, and it inculcates a theory of a fictitious Christ; one who, if co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father, could not be a Saviour, because he could not die. God cannot die. If Jesus was as eternal and immortal as God he could not have died. It does not help the matter to say that his body died; for if he was one of the Gods of the Trinity, he existed as a living being before his bodily existence in the flesh; and for him to forsake his body and continue living as really as he had lived from all eternity could not in any sense be termed death. The real Christ would escape death, and a helpless body of flesh, which had no consciousness apart from its supposed temporary occupant, could not be the Christ; and therefore Christ would not die and we should have no Saviour at all. Let the word of inspiration be true regardless of consequences to creeds, and let us, upon such a basis, accept the right conclusions. The positive declaration of scripture is that "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"--I. Cor. 15: 3, 4. "He poured out his soul unto death"--Is. 53: 12. "His soul was not left in hell" (hades, the grave)--Acts 2: 31. His soul was delivered from the power of the grave--Ps. 49: 15. The Apostle Paul says that if Christ had not been raised from the grave all would have been lost, and we might as well "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (I. Cor. 15). But if he was God, eternal and immortal, and did not die and go into the grave, we should have a living Christ regardless of whether or not he was raised from the dead; and Paul's argument would be without force. It is evident, therefore, that the true Christ was mortal like unto those he came to redeem; that he had no personal existence before his conception and birth; and that when he died he was dead, absolutely dead, and not alive; and that had not "God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead," we should have had no living Christ and therefore no saviour.

To see the fallacy of the Trinitarian theory it is only necessary to reason carefully on the conclusions to which that theory leads. Let no one cry out that it is wrong to reason upon such a solemn subject; for God says, "Come, let us reason together." There is no subject too solemn to reason upon; and the use of our faculties in an honest endeavor to understand what God has been pleased to reveal to us is well pleasing in his sight. Hence we are commanded to "prove all things;" and to "earnestly contend for the faith." If a theory is false, there is no solemnity attached to it; and it is right to expose and condemn it, though it be a theory concerning God or Christ; and on the nature of Christ we have a distinct and special command in the words of John--"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world"--I. John 4: 1-3.

From this it is clear that, not only have we the right to reason upon this question, but it is our duty; and intelligent men will not be frightened away from the subject by a cry of "Mystery" by those who ask us to believe in a theory which needs such a policy as will repudiate the injunction to "Try the spirits."

To accept the theory that Jesus was the second person of a Trinity, and that he existed as "God very God" from all eternity, we must believe that his power and knowledge were equal to those of the Father. From eternity up to his conception and birth his knowledge of the past, present and future would be absolute. There would be nothing he would not know, as much so as the Father, and therefore there would be nothing upon which he could be instructed. Now it is evident that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was an infant requiring a mother's care and nurture; and that he depended upon those who had charge of him for instruction and education in order that he might "grow in wisdom and stature." He also depended upon the Father for the "wisdom that cometh from above." His knowledge was all derived, and therefore he could not have been an "eternal Son." That what knowledge and power Jesus came to be possessed of were acquired after his birth and growth is evident from the following testimonies:

Is. 7: 14-16--Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse, etc.

Is. 11: 2--And the Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding.

Luke 2: 40--And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.

Verse 52--And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

John 5: 26--For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.

John 13: 3--Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God, etc.

John 17: 24--Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Luke 10: 22--All things are delivered to me of my Father.

John 8: 29--And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

John 6: 38--For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

John 7: 16--Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

John 5: 19--Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.

Verse 30--I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Acts 10: 38--How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Heb. 5: 7--Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.

Mark 13: 32--But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

We might add largely to these testimonies, but these will be sufficient to show beyond a doubt that all the knowledge and power which Jesus possessed he derived from the Father; and that even when nearing the end of his probation, the time of his second advent was hid from him. When the time came to reveal the future as outlined in the Book of Revelation, it is recorded that "God gave it unto Jesus Christ to show unto his servants," etc. (Rev. 1: 1).

Now in view of the fact that Jesus entered upon life as a babe, without knowledge till he grew in stature and wisdom, what conclusion does the Trinitarian theory drive us to? If previous to his birth Christ was "co-equal and co-eternal with God," then we must believe that all his knowledge forsook him; and that as a God--a person--the "second person of the Trinity," he was born devoid of knowledge and power, these having to be acquired by natural and supernatural means! Such a thing cannot be believed. God has not endowed man with faculties capable of believing such an absurdity. There is no "mystery" in it, no profundity--it is palpably foolish, and would never have been thought of had not heathen theories of "Theosophy," "transmigration" and "incarnation" poisoned the minds of the men who combined pagan fiction with so-called christianity, and thus developed the anti-christian delusions foretold by Christ and his apostles.

The testimonies given show that God begat Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit; and therefore he had no existence as a person till he was begotten. The very word son implies this; and to speak of "eternal sonship" is to use words which are mutually contradictory; and why confuse the mind with such things when, by accepting the matter as it is revealed, we are enabled to recognize the love, power and glory of God; and the real merit of His only begotten Son? If the only begotten Son was "made of a woman, made under the law" (Gal. 4: 4), and passed through a life of real trial and temptation and became victorious, then we have a reality; but if he was co-equal and co-eternal with God, he could not be tempted, he could not experience our sufferings--his life in the flesh was a sham; an appearance of being tempted, suffering and doing what was not real. When he seemed to be tempted, he was not tempted; when he seemed to suffer, he did not suffer; when he seemed to die, he did not die; when he seemed to be buried and to be raised from the dead, he was not. Did Christ die or did he not? Yes, will be the answer of all--even the Trinitarian. But did he die? Did he who was from eternity, and who was as deathless as God--did he die? Do not answer by saying that his body died; for that is no answer at all; it is only playing with words. If he existed as an immortal person, an immortal God from all eternity, then he was not his body, neither was his body he; and for his body to die and be buried was not for him to die and be buried; and to pretend that he died when he did not, only his body, is to offer us a sham instead of a reality. The testimony is that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again; and this cannot be true of a deathless, co-equal, co-eternal God; while it can be true of the Christ of the Scriptures, who, begotten specially by the power of God, was "made in all points like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2: 17), of the same flesh and blood. So he did die; and when he was dead he was not alive, but "God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead," and then, as a reward for his victory over the flesh and all the evils of the world, gave him immortality, the power of an endless life, in order that he might live eternally.

Popular tradition represents God as enraged with mankind and about to vent His wrath upon them, when "God the Son" interposed to appease His wrath. Here are two co-equal Gods, or two "persons of the Trinity," opposed to each other, one in wrath and the other in love; so that if they were "one in essence and substance," they were not one in mind and object toward fallen man. It must have become the desire of one to redeem before it was the desire of the other; and the one must have changed the mind of the other. What a fearful misrepresentation of God this is! How different from Him who "So loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It was God, in His love, who was our Saviour. He and He only, without consulting one, or two, or a thousand others, devised the great plan of salvation and carried it out by sending His only begotten Son to practically and experimentally effect it, and to become in reality the way out of the fallen state of humanity into the redeemed and heavenly state.

OBJECTIONS ANSWERED

There are several passages of scripture which, superficially viewed, seem to sustain the popular theory of the co-equality and pre-existence of Christ; and the subject would not be fairly treated without an explanation of these, to show that they do not sustain the popular theory, but that they are, when carefully examined, in harmony with what we have set forth and with the Scriptures we have given.

The first passage we will consider will be I. John 5: 7, 8--"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one."

It would not be necessary to deal with this passage if people generally kept themselves informed in Bible matters; for those who do so know that the part of this passage which seems to teach the Trinity is an interpolation. It had been known to be such long before the Revised Version was published; and that Version, following the example of other translators who had long revealed the spurious character of it, omitted it. Had not the imposition been discovered, this text would, in opposition to all the rest of the Scriptures, have set forth the Trinity, and we would have been left to wonder how one text could so nullify the general tenor of the Bible on the subject.

The Revised Version reads as follows:

"For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

The Emphatic Diaglott, which was published in 1864, reads:

"For there are THREE which TESTIFY; the SPIRIT, and the WATER, and the BLOOD; and these THREE are for ONE."

In a footnote the following explanation is given:

This text concerning the heavenly witnesses is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to this authority. It is therefore evidently spurious; and was first cited (though not as it now reads) by Vigilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century; but by whom forged, is of no great moment, as the design must be obvious to all.--Improved Version.

A passage quoted to prove that Christ was equal with God is Phil. 2: 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."

Now before we examine the improved translations of this verse, let us consider what the apostle's exhortation is. He is exhorting the Philippians to be of humble mind, and he gives the Saviour as an example; but if he said what the translation of the Authorized Version represents him as saying, how would the alleged assumption of equality with God be an example of humility? Then, too, if it was an understood thing that Christ was, and always had been, co-equal with God, why speak of his not "thinking it robbery to be equal with Him?" Would any one ever think of saying that God thought it not robbery to be equal with Christ, or with the Holy Spirit? Yet, if they are three co-equals, why may not the same be said of any one as of either of the other two? It is supposed that the words "form of God" mean identity of nature; but if so then the language could be used for either of the supposed three persons of the Trinity, which would prove too much for trinitarianism. The translation in the Authorized Version turns what the apostle really did say into confusion; for it represents him as exhorting men to take an instance wherein there was a claim of equality with God as an example of humility; and thereby he is made to stultify his own words. Had we no help from other translations, any reasonable mind would be compelled to conclude that the apostle had been misrepresented in the Common Version.

The Revised Version reads as follows:

"Having this mind in you, which was also in Christ; who being in a form of God, counted it not a prize (margin, 'not a thing to be grasped') to be on an equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross."

The Emphatic Diaglott rendering is still better:

"Let this disposition be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though being in God's form, yet did not meditate a usurpation to be like God, but divested himself, taking a bondman's form, having been made in the likeness of men; and being in condition as a Man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

In a footnote the following is given:

Harpagmon, being a word of very rare occurrence, a great variety of translations have been given. The following may serve as examples: "Who--did not think it a matter to be desired"--Clarke. "Did not earnestly affect"--Cyprian. "Did not think of eagerly retaining"--Wakefield. "Did not regard--as an object of solicitous desire"--Stuart. "Thought not--a thing to be seized"--Sharpe. "Did not eagerly grasp"--Kneeland. "Did not violently strive"--Dickinson. "Did not meditate a usurpation"--Turnbull.

To see the force of the apostle's words we must recognize Christ as the Son of God, and as a manifestation in character and, to a limited extent, in power. A realization by Jesus of this honor and power was capable of being used or abused. Had he yielded to the promptings of the flesh when he was "tempted in all points like unto his brethren," he would have become vain and ambitious in his claims instead of humble, meek and submissive as he was; and in that case he would have manifested the vanity of the flesh as the popes of Rome have done in pretending to be the viceregent of Christ; and they have claimed equality with God. What Christ "thought not a thing to be grasped," or claimed, the popes have claimed; and in this we have an illustration of truth and humility in the true Christ; and of falsehood and self-exaltation in the antichrist. Honored with divine Sonship, possessed of miraculous power, which might be used to gratify the flesh, yet did our Saviour refuse the brief gratification the misuse of his honor and power would have yielded, and meek, humble and submissive, he lived the life of a servant. "For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame," knowing that the honor and popularity which a misuse of his relationship and power would have brought him would be but short, while an obedient life would bring him endless joy and power and honor. Hence the apostle follows on from the words we have been considering by saying, "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow." In concluding the examination of this passage, we would again ask, Could one co-equal "highly exalt" and give a name above every other name to another co-equal?

"BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS I AM"--JOHN 8:58

is a statement often quoted to prove the pre-existence of Christ; but it must be borne in mind that Christ is the principal subject matter of the Bible, and the Alpha and Omega of God's plan in relation to this planet. He is present every where in all parts of the Bible. In this plan he was "a lamb slain from the foundation of the world"--Rev. 13: 8. He was from the beginning as the Logos, in God, out of whom he came by begettal, and all that God has done for man has been by, in the sense of because of, Christ. When we say, "he is present every where in the Bible," no one will take us to mean personal presence; but present as the subject of what is revealed, present as a purpose in the divine plan. In this sense he could say to the caviling Jews, "Before Abraham was I am." The Diaglott renders these words, "Before Abraham was born, I am he." Suppose we ask, Who? The answer would be, "I am he that was promised as the seed of the woman; as the lamb which Abel by faith offered; as the ark which saved; as the real Melchizedec," etc.--He was there in all the promises, types and symbols, and without him these were as nothing. With this in view the words in question are seen not to mean that as a person he existed before Abraham was born; but that they had a meaning which gave them great force as against the Jews who were looking for the coming of their Messiah, the "he who was for to come," but who failed to recognize him in Christ when he did come. If it be said that the words are ambiguous, let it be remembered that Jesus, knowing the evil motives of the persecuting Jews, frequently resorted to ambiguity, in the form of parables and otherwise, as he expressly says, "that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand." This because they "drew nigh to him with their lips, while their hearts were far from him."

In the same connection, because the Jews boasted of being children of Abraham, yet rejected Jesus, he said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad" (verse 56). Only a superficial mind would quote these words to prove the pre-existence of Christ. All that is required to see the meaning is to notice the words "my day"--a special day, a promised day of blessing for Abraham and all of Abraham's faith. That day is "the day of the Lord," when "the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one"--Zec. 14: 9. This day Abraham "saw afar off" (Heb. 11: 13), and rejoiced in the prospect.

"THE GLORY WHICH I HAD WITH THEE BEFORE THE WORLD WAS"--JOHN 17:5

These words of the Saviour are supposed to teach the preexistence of Christ. The passage is as follows: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." To make this passage serve the purpose of Trinitarianism, we should have to believe that "before the world was" Christ was the second person of the Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and "God the Holy Ghost," and having the same glory which these other two persons of the Trinity had. Now the question would be, what power would any one of these three co-equals have to take the glory from any one of the others? If "God the Son" was actually in possession of equal glory with the other two "before the world was," how came that glory to be taken from him for a time; and who made its return to him dependent upon his probation? and how came any one co-equal to have the power and the right to put another co-equal on probation at all? Nothing but confusion arises from any attempt to explain the passage upon Trinitarian grounds. But upon Scripture grounds it is simple enough. "Before the world was" God had purposed to beget Jesus and empower him, under severe trial, to overcome the world and all its evils and temptations; and as a reward for his becoming the "Captain of our salvation through suffering" he purposed to glorify his Son with himself--with His own glorious nature. Jesus as "God manifested in the flesh" had manifested the attributes of his Father in a life of perfect holiness; and he had given all the glory to God, in that he had made it clear that "of his own self he could do nothing." This was foreordained of God and the plan of redemption had been arranged accordingly. In the days of David, God had said of Jesus, "In suffering for iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever"--II. Sam. 7: 14-16. Jesus now having "suffered for iniquity," and been "chastened with the rod of men," the time of his reward had come. Therefore he says, "I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." And now had come the time when he was to receive in fact that glory which he had in promise and in the purpose of the Father before the world was.

If Christ could, in the purpose of God, be "A lamb slain from the foundation of the world," and yet not actually be slain for, say, four thousand years, why may he not in the purpose of the Father have glory before the world was, and yet not come actually into the possession of that glory till four thousand years had passed, and he had fulfilled the requirements upon which the bestowal of the glory had depended? First appearing as "a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief;" "made in all points like unto his brethren," of the same flesh and blood, mortal nature, he worked out the "way" and became "the way, the truth and the life;" and for this the "Giver of good" glorified him with himself by giving him the divine nature and exalting him to His own right hand.

Some quote the words, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" to prove that Jesus was Almighty God. That he was Almighty God by being constituted a manifestation of God, in the sense of the "arm of the Lord" stretched out, is gloriously true. That he was a manifestation of God in a sense that no other being ever was is true; but whatever he was was due to God as the source of all power and authority. Hence the words now in question are, "All power is given unto me." The giver was God; the recipient was Jesus, the Christ of God.

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD

The words of John 1: 1 are supposed to teach the pre-existence of Christ. The passage reads as follows: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." Verse 14--"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."

The Diaglott renders the passage as follows: "In a beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. This was in the beginning with God. Through it everything was done; and without it not even one thing was done. In it was life; and the LIFE was the LIGHT OF MEN." Verse 14--"And the LOGOS became flesh, and dwelt among us,--and we beheld his GLORY, the Glory as of an Only-begotten from a Father,--full of Favor and Truth." A footnote on verse 13 reads, "Griesbach notes a different reading of this verse. Instead of hoi. . . egenneetheesan he has hos . . . egeneethee; the singular pronoun and verb for the plural, which would make the passage read: 'Who was not begotten of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;' thus referring it directly to the physical generation of Messiah, by the spirit of God, rather than to the moral regeneration of believers."

This reminds us of that part of the subject we have already treated of in which Jesus is seen to be undoubtedly the Son of God by miraculous begettal. Indeed, apart from this critical note by a very learned man, the words of John in the first part of his Gospel cannot be applied to the production of a mere man; nor to the spiritual sonship of such a man. Verses 12 and 13 would read as follows, according to Griesbach's note, and the Diaglott rendering: "But to 'as many as received him, he gave authority to become children of God, to those believing into his name' [the name of him] who was begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

In this passage again, it is necessary to avoid the two extremes, and allow for the divine and human sonship of Jesus without falling into the absurdity of the Trinity or into the Josephite theory. It must be admitted that the words are not easily understood. They require a greater effort of mind than do the literal and simple words throughout the Scriptures generally. No interpretation of them should be accepted for a moment that does not harmonize with the teachings of the more simple parts of scripture. Parables and difficult statements must be governed by the clearly revealed truths, and not the reverse. It is difficult to see why Trinitarians seek refuge in this scripture; and as for Josephites, it is utterly opposed to their theory. That divinity is the very essence of the words is clear; but divinity in what sense is the question to be decided. If the inspired apostle had the Trinity in mind, we must conclude that he failed to give an intelligent expression of it. Something like the following would have been more in harmony with that theory: In the beginning was the second person of the Godhead, and the second person of the Godhead was with the other two persons of the Godhead, and the second person of the Godhead was part of God. Verse 14--And the second person of the Godhead entered into a body and flesh and dwelt among men.

This is very different to the words employed by the apostles, and to any reasonable meaning to be derived from them. One must imagine that "the Word" was a second person of the Trinity, for it does not so state; and as for the statement that "the Word was made flesh" it would have to be denied, and changed to say that the Word came personally down from heaven in immortal nature; and, instead of "becoming flesh," continued to be spirit as much as it ever had been from all eternity; and, as a spirit, a person, a God--the second co-equal God--inhabited a flesh body until that body was nailed to the tree, when that same spirit, immortal being--that co-equal God, very God--forsook the body and continued in an immortal living, personal existence until that same second person of the Trinity re-entered the body, changed it into a like immortal nature with itself, and ascended in that body to heaven; where, since then, there are two co-equal Gods without bodies, and one co-equal God with a body. This is the theory in plain words; and from this reason turns away, and asks for a solution that is reasonable, and prays not to be tormented with absurd, unthinkable theories which dishonor God, nullify His word, and bewilder and bewitch mankind. The first question to be considered is the "beginning" mentioned in verse 1. All things have a beginning except God, out of whom all things have been evolved by his will and power; but all things have not the same beginning. The Authorized Version conveys the idea that the "beginning" was when this terrestrial world was made, and that this is the "world" referred to in the tenth verse, and that since the words are, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him," it is claimed that Christ existed as God before the creation and that he made this terrestrial world. Now it is evident that if there are three persons in the Godhead, the work of creation was not the work of one of them as distinct from the other two. There is only one Creator, and to make verse 10 mean that "God the Son" made the world would be to teach that he alone created it. In all difficult passages of scripture there are clues to help the understanding, if we but search diligently for them. In this case we are helped to decide what "world" is meant by the latter clause of verse 10--"And the world knew him not;" followed immediately by the statement, "He came to his own, and his own received him not ("knew him not"). But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." This shows that the "world" that "knew him not" and which he was in when they knew him not was the Mosaic world to which he appeared as the "King of the Jews." The Greek word for world here is not aeon (age), but kosmos, which means order of, or constitution of, things. The Mosaic "world," which was composed of rulers, ruled and laws, etc., was a part of another "world" or order of things, having been "added" to it "because of transgression till the seed should come to whom the promise was made" (Gal. 3: 19). This "world" was arranged in the purpose of God long before the Mosaic law was added to it. It exists now as the plan of the ages, with some of the material prepared, and as a reality fully completed it is the "world to come, whereof we (the apostles) speak"--Heb. 2: 5. This is the age (world) to come, and the kosmos (world) to come, when the habitable or earth (world) will be filled with the glory of the Lord.

Now Christ is the Alpha and Omega of this world. He is "in this world" in all its parts, and without him it cannot be considered; he, in the Father's plan and beautiful arrangement, is the reason of all things pertaining to it, since he was predetermined to be the medium of the manifestation of God's power and glory. In this work Christ is first the reason of what the Father through various instrumentalities has done; and after he came into personal existence he was active in effecting the great work of framing this world, or kosmos. So that in these two aspects he is spoken of in verse 10 thus, in the Diaglott rendering: "He was in the world, and the world was (enlightened) through him; and yet the world knew him not," that is, that part of it which was a "schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," consisting of the Jews who "knew not the day of their visitation," and who were "his own" who "received him not." Every man who "cometh into the world" which Christ is the subject of, the means of, the all of, he lighteth; but he is not a light to every one who cometh into this Adamic world, of which the Authorized Version makes him appear the creator, in rendering verse 3 as follows: "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." The Diaglott rendering puts this in quite a different light: "Through it [the Logos] every thing was done; and without it not even one thing was done, which was done." The Doer was God, "through" or because of, and afterwards by means of, Christ. A footnote on the Greek word rendered in the A. V. "made" and in the Diaglott "done," says:

Ginomai occurs upwards of seven hundred times in the New Testament, but never in the sense of create, yet in most versions it is translated as though the word was ktizo. The word occurs fifty-three times in this Gospel, and signifies to be, to come, to become, to come to pass; also, to be done or transacted. All things in the Christian dispensation were done by Christ, i. e., by his authority, and according to his direction; and in the ministry committed to his apostles, nothing has been done without his warrant.

When a plan is made of any thing to be done, the completion of the plan is the end in view; which becomes the cause of all that is done in reaching the end. In this sense everything from the beginning to the end is done through, or by, in the sense of because of, the end in view, the end to be accomplished. If a father should plan to effect some great enterprise in behalf of his son; and if he should fail and become a bankrupt, suffering many serious results, one might say to the son, "It was all through you." Even before the son were able to actually do any thing in helping to effect the plan, it could be said of what was being done that "all things were done by (in the sense of because of) him." This evidently is the sense in which all things were done by Christ before his personal existence; for no one can actually do any thing before he has an existence. Now as to the "beginning," it was the beginning of the "world" which God purposed to develop through Christ, a "world" expressed by various terms in scripture, such as "a city which hath foundations," "the world to come," "new heavens and new earth," "all things new," "new creation," "eternal plan," etc. Christ was in this in its divine conception--in its beginning and will be to its completion; but he was not in it in its beginning in the same sense that he is now and will be in its completion. In one sense he was in this world in the beginning as a "lamb slain;" but not actually slain till he became a personality; for in the very nature of things there could be no personality to be slain till he was begotten and born. Therefore the passage under consideration does not say, "In the beginning was Jesus;" nor, "In the beginning was Christ;" nor does it say, "In the beginning was God the Son." But it says, "In the beginning was the Word," or Logos; and now we must seek for the meaning of this word Logos. In the Diaglott the Greek word is transferred, not translated; and a footnote gives the following reason for this:

In this (verse 1) and the fourteenth verse logos has been transferred, rather than translated. Dr. A. Clarke remarks, "This term should be left untranslated, for the very same reasons why the names Jesus and Christ are left untranslated. As every appellative of the Saviour of the world was descriptive of some excellence in his person, nature, or work, so the epithet Logos, which signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or the faculty of reasoning, is very properly applied to him."

By some the Logos has been regarded as meaning Wisdom, the word being personified as in Prov. 8: 22, without entertaining the idea of it meaning a person--the second person of the Trinity; and perhaps "wisdom" is a word which the most nearly expresses the thought, though it is questionable if any one word will fully express the meaning. Perhaps a few questions and answers will help in the case:

What does Logos mean as a mere word?--A word spoken, speech, doctrine, reason, thought expressed, and wisdom.

What does it seem to refer to in John 1: 1?--It seems to refer to a plan or purpose which the Theos, or Deity, arranged, and partly revealed as "doctrine," by which to enlighten mankind upon the purposed salvation of the world through or by means of a manifestation of Himself in a Son begotten by Him and born of the flesh and blood common to mankind, who would be the Logos, or "Word made flesh."

What shall we understand by the statement: "And the Word (Logos) was with God"?--We shall be helped to understand how the Logos was with God, without regarding it as a person, by the manner in which wisdom is spoken of in the Scriptures, for example, Prov. 8. In verse 22 we read: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." Also in verse 30--"Then I was by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." Wisdom here, though personified, is not supposed to be a person, but is an attribute of Deity--the Wise One who is the Creator of all things. The language of the entire chapter is very forcible in declaring that all things have been created by the wisdom of the one, and only one Great Creator, and not by three, nor by any one of three.

Is the Wisdom of this scripture the same as the Logos of John?--In the sense that the wonders of both originate in Deity they are the same; Wisdom in the first instance seems to relate to creation in a general sense, while the Logos seems to have a special application to the plan of salvation and the "restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."

It not only says that the Logos was with God; but that "the Logos was God." What does this mean?--Both Wisdom and the Logos were with God; but if God had never expressed, or revealed, His wisdom and the doctrine embodied in the Logos, we should never have known any thing about either. It is through His Spirit that God expresses His plans, purposes and doctrines; and to have these in our minds is to have the Word "dwell in us richly." "My words are spirit," says Jesus. If the words are spirit, and spirit is God and God is spirit, then it could be said that the Logos was God as well as that the spirit was or is God; for the Spirit of God is that which flows out from Himself as the rays of the sun is the sun in extension and in diffusion.

Now let us try to paraphrase the matter: In the beginning, when God had determined upon that part of His vast and mighty work--the evolution of the Adamic world, or order of things, and the ultimate blessing of its righteous survivors, was the Logos--a plan conceived and partly revealed, spoken or expressed by means of Deity's Spirit, He being a spirit, and spirit therefore being an emanation from Him. And the Logos, as wisdom, in relation to his great plan, was with God in the same sense that Wisdom is said to have been by and with Him before creation (Prov. 8:), and the Logos, being divine wisdom, and that wisdom expressed or revealed, concerning the great plan, by means of spirit, which is God, the Logos was the Theos, or God. It being the essence, the Alpha and Omega, of the great plan, that the divine purpose should be made dependent upon the moral achievements of a divine Son begotten in the flesh and blood nature of the fallen race of Adam, a time, a "due time," was arranged for when the purpose would, by divine power, assume a personal and tangible form, the plan become materialized, as it were; and therefore "the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." Therefore "that which was (as the Logos) from the beginning, which (as the Logos made flesh) we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life" (I. John 1: 1). This was Jesus, "God with us;" and He having achieved the great end in view in the Father's purpose, experienced the immortalization of that flesh which the Logos became, and is therefore now the "Word of God" (Rev. 19: 13) or the Spirit of God in personal, corporeal, glorious form; having been "God manifest in the flesh," or a manifestation of God, mentally and morally in the flesh, he is now, and will shortly so appear on the earth, and will be eternally, a glorious manifestation of God in the spirit nature--the final end that was in view from "the beginning," by which, through which, because of which, or account of which every thing was done that was done concerning the world, or kosmos, that will eternally glorify God, honor His Son and bless the righteous survivors of all mankind.

"I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE"

These words, in John 10: 30, are supposed to support the theory of Christ's eternal co-equality with God as assumed by Trinitarians. But if there are three co-equals the expression of Jesus is a strange one, in that it ignores the supposed third person of the Trinity--"God the Holy Ghost." Had Jesus believed that there was a "third person of the Godhead," he would have said, "I and my Father and the Holy Spirit are one"--"three in one and one in three." Now that Jesus in the days of his flesh was not one in substance with the Father is evident from the fact that he "was made lower than the angels" (Heb. 2: 9), and angels are of divine nature. It was not until he was glorified and immortalized that he became one in substance with the Father; and even this fact does not prove his co-equality and co-eternity, because all his redeemed ones are to be "made like him" in substance by a "change of the vile body," and yet no one claims their consubstantiality means any thing approaching the Trinitarian theory of co-equality.

There is no excuse for the false interpretation of the words in question; they are not difficult of understanding. The previous verse is clearly opposed to the popular claims. How could one co-equal say of another, "My Father, which gave them me, IS GREATER THAN ALL?" Here is an acknowledgment of the Father's supremacy and of the Son's obligation to the Father. The oneness consisted in the fact that the Father manifested himself in the Son, and thereby identified himself with him in such a way that what the Son spake and did, was the Father speaking and doing through the Son, because Jesus did always the things which pleased the Father. In this sense he was the Father brought down within reach of human capacity, so that the Infinite could be seen in righteous action upon the human plane, and thus show mankind "the way, the truth and the life," practically and experimentally.

Naturally there was in Jesus the human will; but supernaturally he was also embued with the divine will. The end to be achieved was the actual, practical supremacy of the divine over the human by a mental and moral struggle that was realistic, involving merit on the one hand, and the bestowing of reward on the other. The climax of the struggle seems to have been reached when Jesus exclaimed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22: 42). Had Jesus yielded to his own will ("my will") the oneness would have been broken. Hence it is clear that it was a oneness of purpose, aim and end in carrying out the great and eternal plan of Deity. This oneness maintained throughout the probationary trial, in an "obedience unto death," oneness of nature would be the reward; and then Jesus could exclaim, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore."

Now this same oneness must obtain between God's people, Jesus, and God; first, to the degree possible for mere men, in the mental and moral sense. Then the oneness of nature will follow as the reward, when we shall be "made like unto the angels to die no more;" and, as the Apostle John says, "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" at his coming again to earth. Therefore Jesus prays for his disciples, "Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are"--John 17: 11. In verses 21-23 he further prays, "That they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one."

"BY HIM WERE ALL THINGS CREATED"

We come now to consider Col. 1: 15-19. This passage is supposed to teach that Jesus was God from all eternity because it is assumed that it declares him to be the Creator of the universe. Let the eye glance over the four verses and it will immediately see phrases that will set aside the Trinitarian theory--"the firstborn of every creature;" "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." He was not the "firstborn" in the flesh; therefore his birth of Mary is not what is referred to. On the Trinitarian hypothesis it would be quite as appropriate to speak of the Father, or the Holy Spirit, as the "firstborn" as it is to so speak of the Son; for the three are said to be "co-eternal." Can one who never had a beginning be a "firstborn?"

"It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Why this, if the Father was not supreme and the Son subordinate?

There are two creations, first the natural, afterwards the spiritual. God is the One and Only Creator of the natural world--the universe; and He through Christ is the Creator of the spiritual world--the "world to come." As regards the inhabitants of this planet, during the Adamic age, they are "natural bodies;" and in "the world to come," they are to be "spiritual bodies" (I. Cor. 15: 44). Adam was the first of the "natural body" state; and Christ was the first of the "spiritual body" state. These states may be termed the old creation, and the new creation. Of the new creation Jesus is the "firstborn from the dead" (verse 18). Hence Paul declares that according to Moses and the prophets, Christ was to be "the first that should rise from the dead" (Acts 26: 23). In I. Cor. 15: 23 he calls Christ the firstfruits of them that sleep." In Rev. 1: 5, the Apostle John delivers his message as "from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten from the dead." In relation to the subject of the "Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants," Jesus says, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty;" and of this new creation he says in Rev. 3: 14, that he is "the beginning of the creation of God."

It is evident that Paul in the passage under consideration is not referring to the creation of the terrestrial world, but to the celestial, which will be composed of "new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness"--II. Pet. 3: 13. It was by, in the sense of, because of, Christ that the new creation was planned, revealed and commenced in the beginning, and when he was begotten, born and grew in wisdom and stature, he became personally and actively, in God's hands, the creator of the new creation. Since the new creation consists of a spiritual state, "spiritual bodies," etc., Jesus, as the result of the faithful work performed, became the firstborn of the new creation of God by resurrection to the spiritual nature. We may therefore read the passage thus: "Who is the moral image of the invisible God, the firstborn to immortality of every creature of the new creation; for on account of him were all things pertaining to the new creation created that are in the political heavens and earth, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers; all such things were created on account of him and for him; and he is, in eminence and in the divine purpose, before all such things, and because of him all such things consist. And he is the head of the body, the Church; who is the beginning of the immortal state in respect to all of Adam's race, the first-born from the dead; that in all things pertaining to both creations, in their mutual relations, he might have the pre-eminence. For on account of his faithfulness and victory under severe trial, it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell."

We call special attention to the fact that the apostle does not leave the least excuse for imagining that he is referring to the creation of the natural universe; for he is careful to define the nature of the "all things created" by throwing in the explanatory clause--"whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers"--all these things were created with a view to him and for him. Therefore, since his triumph, the kingdoms of the world are under his control, and he is guiding them all to that final end, when the seventh angel shall sound the seventh or "last trump," and it shall be proclaimed that "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever"--Rev. 11: 15. When he shall have "reigned till he hath put down all enemies under his feet," the new creation, of which he is the "firstborn," the "firstfruits," the "beginning," the "Alpha and the Omega," will be complete to the glory of the Creator and the well being of His creatures. Meanwhile, the gradation of rank is, "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God"--I. Cor. 11: 3. God's supremacy and Christ's faithfulness are kept clearly before us throughout the entire work. Hence Paul declares, "For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which DID PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIM. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL"--I. Cor. 15: 27, 28.