Who is our God? Chapter 3

In seeking for light on our question, "Who Is Our God?" we must not ignore any very important statements. One of these is found at Hebrews 1:3. Beyond all doubt this verse has not been properly understood. Like all other important verses, a close study of it will assuredly yield great delight.

First of all, it will be helpful to state the renderings given by various versions, omitting the first few words.

Wiclif (1380): the brightness of glory, and figure of his substance.
Tyndale (1534): the brightness of his glory, and very image of his substance.
Geneva (1557): the brightness of the glory, and the engraved form of his person.
A.V. (1611): the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.
Scarlett (1798): the effulgence of his glory, and express image of his substance.
C. Thomson (1808): an effulgence of the glory, and an impress of his substance.
Wakefield (1795): a ray of (God's) brightness, and an image of his perfections.
Darby: (the) effulgence of his glory, and (the) expression of his substance (i.e. essential being).
Bowes: the radiance of (his) glory, and the express image of his essential nature.
Diaglott: an effulgence of his glory, and an exact impress of his substance.
Young: the brightness of the glory, and the impress of his subsistence.
Rotherham (1872): an irradiated brightness of (his) glory and an exact expression of his essence. Rotherham (1903): an irradiated brightness of his glory and an exact representation of his very being.
Revised (1881): the effulgence of his glory, and the very image (or, the impress) of his substance. Concordant: the Effulgence of his glory and Emblem of His assumption.
20th Century: the radiance of the Glory of God and the very expression of his Being.
Moffatt, Goodspeed, Weymouth and Dr. Wand refer to the Son as reflecting God's glory. Moffatt, for the second member, has "and stamped with God's own character," while Dr. Wand has "bears impressed upon Him the very character of the Father." Goodspeed uses "the representation of his being," while Weymouth has "the exact representation of His being."

In case there is any prejudice against the word "person," let it be stated that this originally meant a mask, which disguised and turned one into a personage or character. Literally this Latin word meant something which one "sounded through," without his features being seen. The Latin word 'substance,' also, needs explaining. Like the Greek term found in Heb. 1:3 (hupostasis) it means, literally, UNDER-STANDING, that which underlies anything, a substratum.

For effulgence or radiance, Thayer prefers refulgence or reflection. The Greek word, apaugasma, requires some attention.

In his excellent compendium of 1,000 pages, "Scripture Testimony to the Messiah" (Edinburgh 1875), Dr. John Pye Smith of Sheffield (1774-1851) makes some very useful remarks on this word. He says the Son "is that to the Divine Father, which the solar light, incident on our world, is to the same light as the source of its emanation." He explains the terms as meaning off-shining or effulgence. He quotes from Philo, "The sanctuary is, as it were, an effulgence of the Holies, an imitation of the archetype." Philo thought the one was a perfect likeness of the other. In the apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, ch. 7:26, we read, "Wisdom is the effulgence of unperceived light, and a mirror immaculate of God's active power, and image of His goodness." Another renders by "the outshining splendour from the inherent splendour." Another paraphrases by "a ray of light that comes from God to man," and says the word suggests light in motion. Nairne renders as "the stream of light from the innermost glory."

That is what Christ Jesus is. No ordinary or extraordinary man ever was such. He is God's Radiance, and He radiates His Father.

As for the word charaktEr (express image, impress, emblem, etc.) there is no real difficulty. This is explained as signifying the precise likeness, the exact correspondence, as of an impression with the seal, or of a coin with the die. "So the Lord Jesus, stamped with God's Deity, represents, reproduces, bears witness to that Deity." Dr. Bloomfield, famous Cambridge luminary, says the word means the die, the stamping-stool, used in coining, by which the figure to be expressed is stamped; also the impression made by a seal. As this cannot be aught but an exact representation of the die or seal, the word came to denote an exact and perfect resemblance, or counterpart. The Greek word, of which our English word character is an exact copy comes from a verb meaning to make an incision, make a furrow, to carve or impress or stamp. Closely allied to this word (charassO) is the Hebrew charash, which means to COVER OVER as in plowing; to cover over the tongue, and thus be silent. It is often rendered plow or hold one's tongue or hold one's peace. Once it is rendered "graven." The connection between Hebrew on the one hand, and Greek, Latin and Lithuanian on the other hand, is much closer than might be imagined.

It is helpful to consult an English dictionary regarding the word character, which meant originally a distinctive mark; any essential feature or peculiarity. We call a man a "character" when he makes his mark in some direction. He makes a strong impression on others.

There is one further point in connection with this word which ought to be noticed. Eight times in the Revelation the mark of the beast is the translation of charagma (CARVEeffect), a related form. What then, does the suffix-tEr in charaktEr signify? This suffix is generally said to refer to the agent who does something. Examples are the Greek words for father (pa-tEr; one who nourishes or protects); mother (mE-tEr); saviour (SO-tEr; one who saves). Otherwise, the suffix might be related to the word for KEEP (tEreO). This, however, would make salvation (sOtEria) into safe-keeping, while sOtErion would become God's safe-keeping-work or operation. This thought is put forth because close students have found that Greek sOzO seems to mean more than to SAVE. In Old English Wiclif put "the science of health" where we now put "the knowledge of salvation." The Concordant Version Concordance (page 295) defines this word as "keep or deliver from injury or evil" It might be worth while to render every occurrence of this word as "make safe" or "keep safe." One needs only refer to such verses as Matt. 9:21; Mark 5:23-34; Luke 8:36; Acts 2:40; 1. Tim. 2:15, to verify this fact.

The Impress or Emblem of God, then, is a Person, God's Agent. But instead of terming Him God's exact representation, it might be better to say, exact Representative, or exact Expressor.
The word emblem is weak in that it is not personal. It is defined as a picture, type or symbol. Furthermore, the Concordant Version rendering "Emblem of His assumption" falls short in that it presupposes acquaintance with sundry explanations and articles which make clear just what this obscure and unidiomatic expression means. Idiomatic English should be self-explanatory, at a glance. If you make an assumption, you assume something to be fact or true, taking something for granted without requiring proof. We may be quite assured that God does no assuming of this kind. The kind of assumption we require to keep in mind at Heb. 1:3 is the assumption of office, or of a role. God might assume various forms or offices.

That is, He might take these upon Himself, adopt them for a purpose. We refer to "Unsearchable Riches" for October, 1916, page 28, where it is stated that God "assumes various characters." We agree. But this meaning of assume is very different from the meaning given to the same Greek word in its other four occurrences. On page 27 of this article it is stated that the expression "assumption" fits each occurrence "as a key fits a lock."

True, a good key ought to fit a lock. But occasionally a key may lock up the truth and obscure it, while failing to open the door.

I am reminded of an episode a few years ago, when I descended many stairs to some dark office vaults. In one chamber, full of old books, a clerk and clerkess were searching ancient records. After looking in and giving greetings, I gently closed the huge ancient heavy door, turning the immense key. On returning after a brief time, conscience said I had better unlock that door. The massive key, however, resolutely declined to play its part, beyond making much noise. Happily, the two inmates maintained an imperturbable sangfroid and paid no heed. Upstairs to find the octogenarian joiner, who, armed with various tools, descended to strip off the door jamb, and thus compel an entrance.

Unfortunately, the key to the meaning of the very important Greek word (hypostasis) fails to fit the lock each time. Rather, it looks as though it had closed the door. For many it has closed the door to further study. Admittedly, there has been perfect concordance. In each of the five occurrences the Greek word has been represented by one English term, "assumption."
It is explained, however, that in Heb. 1:3, "the Son of God is the Impress of His assumptions" (plural). It is also stated, in connection with 2. Cor. 9:4 and 11:17, that Paul "has assumed that they were ready and feared lest this assumption may not be true." Now to take on an office or role is not guesswork. But to assume that something will happen, which may not after all happen, is more or less guesswork.

But there is no guesswork, or uncertainty, in faith (Heb. 11:1). Faith must be something far grander than any assumption. Faith is produced by love and obedience, on our part. On God's side it is produced by His unfailing reliability. We do not merely assume that God will perform what He has promised.

Literally, faith (Latin fides) is the same as Greek pistis, that is, persuasion. Faith ought, in a very particular way, to be the possession of us Gentiles, as the prophetic name of Japheth is "Persuasion." It will be recalled that after Noah became drunken, when he had become a soil-man and planted a vineyard, due, not to any aberration on his part, but merely to the fact that climatic changes of vast importance and effect had suddenly altered all physical life on the earth, he had occasion to bless his sons Shem and Japheth. We might read Gen. 9:27 thus: "Elohim will persuade (margin) Japheth, and he will tabernacle in the tents of Shem." If Elohim can persuade the many nations of Japheth, He can persuade all mankind. And He will.

Let us, however, examine the highly important term, Hypostasis. There is no doubt about the difficulty of this word. The Latin Vulgate version (about A.D. 350) used the word (substantia (substance). The Son is the figure (figura) or form of, God's substantia. Perhaps that is the closest the Latin could approach to the Greek. Each time the Greek original was rendered into another tongue, it was like cutting a loaf of bread. Only instead of a few crumbs being lost each time, generally substantial pieces of the truth got lost. Substance, however, was the exact representation of the Greek word hupostasis, and both mean UNDER-STANDING, in the sense of something standing under something else. Our idiom would be, that something underlies a certain fact. This Latin version was altogether concordant in respect of this word. In all five occurrences (2. Cor. 9:4; 11:17; Heb. 1:3; 3:14; and 11:1), and always reads substantia.
We would entreat your patience in the study of this word. It will be well worth while. This one expression, clearly understood, is sufficient to disperse all the fog and figments fabricated by Deists, Unitarians, Trinitarians, Socinians and Josephites.

Here are some of the dictionary "meanings" given to this word, which is only found used of God in this verse in the New Testament:—Beginning, starting point; groundwork, subject matter, argument; firmness, steadiness (of soldiers in battle); resolution, purpose; subsistence, reality, real being; sediment, solid part (in liquids); support, base, foundation (of a building). The true "meaning" of the word, however, will be found in a word which will cover all these expressions. Cremer's Lexicon (N.T. Greek) gives the following :—underlayer, prop, foundation, pediment; the matter treated of; the essence of a matter, in contrast to its appearance; courage, steadfastness. He quotes Artemidorus, "Having indeed an appearance (fantasy) of wealth, yet not of hypostasis" (i.e. of the real thing). Dr. Bullinger's Lexicon has :—"what is set or stands under, a substructure, what really exists under or out of sight, the essence of a matter in contrast to its appearance (Hence Christ, as the Logos, is the manifestation of Deity, the means by which we recognize the glory of God, and the manifestation of the Divine Essence)."
The word is found about twenty times in the Septuagint. In Psalm 69:2 it is found in a literal sense, "I am stuck fast in deep mire, and there is no standing." That is, nothing solid underfoot. Sometimes it is used of the foundations of houses and palaces. In Psalm 39:7, where the A.V. reads "my hope is in Thee," the LXX reads hupostasis, which has been rendered my "ground (of hope)." This is parallel to "mine expectation." The same idea comes out in Ezek. 19:5, "her hope was lost." In Psalm 193:15, where the A.V. reads "My substance was not hid from Thee," the LXX has hupostasis, while the Hebrew has otzm, which also means substance, or substantial; used specially of bones. In verse 17, the thoughts of God unto us are "how substantial." Otherwise the word is used of material substance, upon which life is supported.

Dr. Pye Smith renders in Heb. 1:3 by "The Exact Impression of his manner of existence" and says this seems to coincide with Col. 1:15, "The Image of the Invisible God." "Christ is the complete and absolute likeness, and the intelligible representation to holy minds, of the Divine Perfections." He quotes the views of other scholars regarding hupostasis, as meaning a real subsistence, the nature or essence of a being. "The Divine Essence, which is the same as God Himself."

All that is substantially GOD is exactly represented in the Son.

This is a most captivating thought. Not only so, but how it simplifies our whole theology. All that is basic in God's character and being is exactly mirrored in His Son. As Rev. Wilfred H. Isaacs paraphrases, "In Him, as in a word engraved, men read. . . the basic fact of all—God's deity." The Son is the exact and visible Impress of all that is spiritually real and substantial in God. Let us use the word substance not in any material sense, but purely in a spiritual sense. All that is fundamental in God, all that is essential to His nature, is viewed in His Image.

The Hebrews had become partners of the Christ, provided they held fast the beginning of the fundamentals, or the basic beginning, confirmed, unto a finish (Heb. 3:14). It is somewhat difficult to see how they could retain the "beginning of the assumption," as the Concordant Version renders. Bloomfield shews how hupostasis can here well bear the sense of confidence. They were to "continue to the end of life to exercise such confidence in Christ as they had at first," as such confidence properly denotes a foundation, or support for anything. Unfortunately, we are unable to discover in the Concordant Version, or in the aforesaid article in "Unsearchable Riches," or in the 1927 volume at pages 112-118, any explanation of the rendering at Heb. 3:14, which will make it intelligible and idiomatic English. Surely it must be something much more effective than any assumption (in whatever sense we are to understand this word), which these Hebrews were exhorted to hold fast, to safeguard them from the risk of becoming hardened in heart. Isaacs here paraphrases as "a partnership which we shall enjoy if we hold firm to the end those fundamentals which are the beginning." That is, "the beginning which consists in the fundamentals." Isaacs points out that in none of the five occurrences of this important word hupostasis is it necessary to interpret it as descriptive of a state of mind, while in Heb. 1:3 this is impossible.

For this reason in 2. Cor. 9:4 and 11:17 he rejects the usual rendering "confidence." In the former verse he thus paraphrases, "I was anxious to avoid the shame that would overwhelm us, to say nothing of you, if Macedonian visitors were to come with me and find you, for some mysterious reason, unprepared, the shame of grievous disappointment if this fact upon which my boast was built should fail me." This fact is found stated in verse 2. Paul was well aware of the eagerness of the Corinthians to render assistance, and was even boasting or glorying over them to Macedonians, saying that Achaia had been all ready for a year past. "Paul was not really boasting. He was merely assuming the character of a braggart." No; Paul was not boasting. But neither was he assuming the character of a braggart. When one Greek term (kauchOmai) requires to be done into English by both "boast" and "glory," we are faced with the fact that neither of these can be an exact equivalent, for if either was sufficient, the other would not have been required. Perhaps the word means to exult, minus any idea of bragging. It may not go so far as jubilate, although this comes very near the sense.

In other words, Paul was perfectly entitled to exult in the eagerness and provision of the Corinthians. He was no more putting on an attitude of glorying than we would, did we exult in the kindly action of any Christian brother or ecclesia. This Greek word comes from a root which means to "laugh" (kagchanO) related to Latin cachinnation, loud laughter.

It may be noted that the Vatican MS and the Sinaitic (prima manu) omit the word boasting or glorying.

In 2. Cor. 11:17, it is not Paul who does the assuming, but his opponents. There is no mere "assumption of boasting," but rather his claims were grounded upon a solid basis of fact. His exultation had its hupostasis—something solid which underlay it. The fact that he had these solid grounds for exultation gave him confidence.

This brings us to the last remaining occurrence of the term we are studying, in Heb. 11:1. Here are the renderings of some versions:

Authorized: Now faith is the substance (or, ground, confidence)of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Revised: Now faith is the assurance (or, the giving substance to) of (things) hoped for, the proving (or, test) of things not seen.
Rotherham: But faith is, of things hoped for, a confidence; of facts, a conviction, when they are not seen.
Darby: Now faith is (the) substantiating (or, assurance, firm, conviction) of things hoped for, (the) conviction of things not seen.
Cunnington: Now faith is an assurance (or, title deeds) of things hoped for, conviction as to objects not seen.
Weymouth: Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things, which we do not see.
Bishop Wand: Now faith is a conviction of the fulfillment of our hopes, and a continual reliance upon the unseen worlds.
Other renderings of hupostasis are: 20th Century; the realization; Goodspeed, Panin, assurance; Fenton, the standing-ground; MacKnight, the firm persuasion of the reality; Diaglott, a Basis; Lutterworth: the sure confidence; Charles Thomson: a confident expectation; Bloomfield, firm persuasion; Wakefield, a foundation; Scarlett, Bowes, firm confidence; Penn, the ground-work.
Here is Way's paraphrase: Faith is that attitude of mind which gives form and substance to things that are as yet but objects of hope, that which satisfies us of the reality of things as yet beyond our Ken. Isaacs paraphrases thus: Our belief in God is also the firm basis upon which is founded our happy anticipation of good things to come, convincing us, as by evidence that cannot be gainsaid, of the reality of things that are out of sight. Isaacs condemns such a rendering as "Faith is the confident expectation that that which we desire will come to pass" as a "rather milk-and-water platitude, whether we regard it as a definition of faith, or as a statement of one of its functions."

In his Notes on the passage he suggests hupostasis should take the "things expected" (elpizomenOn), distinguished from the "things or matters not being observed" by the absence of "matters" (pragmatOn), as meaning, not the objective things hoped for, but the subjective hopes entertained, as Way does.

This would enable us, he states, by rendering hupostasis literally, to state usefully a psychological fact—that the believer's faith forms the foundation of certain happy conditions, one of which is the expectation of good things to come.

As Dr. Irons (Bampton Lectures, 1870), who connects Heb. 11:1 with the foregoing verse, says, "faith is that which sustains our hopes." Let us, however, gain a new understanding of ch. 10:39, by tendering, somewhat literally, thus: Yet we are not of a shrinking-back into lostness, (apOleian), but of faith, unto winning of soul. Note the contrast: losing or winning. Losing what? Why, of course, soul. We are not among those who shrink back into a losing of soul, but of faith, so that we shall win our soul.

The soul may be lost or saved (Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35-36; Luke 9:24). It may be found or lost (Matt. 10:39). In times of terror, it may require to be acquired. "In your endurance shall you be acquiring your souls" (Luke 21:19). That is much the same as the procuring or winning of soul spoken of in Heb. 10:39.

What does all this mean? That faith is that which will sustain the soul, like a firm foundation, all through life. To win or acquire the soul infers a process. It seems to infer a process of keeping serene or "cool." Soul (psuchE) is derived from a Greek word meaning cool or cold (psuchos), but we can hardly explain the connection.

That which these Hebrews specially needed was to preserve their equilibrium, to "keep cool," to win or procure or acquire their soul, when things seemed to be going all wrong. Only faith could accomplish that. When they felt like sinking in deep mire, faith was the sure foundation upon which they could stand and triumph. And it is thus also with ourselves.

We admit readily that we cannot furnish a single concordant word which will fit each of the five occurrences of hupostasis. But we have sought to submit the real concordant idea in each case.
As the word "is" in Heb. 11:1 is emphatic, we might paraphrase thus: "Now faith actually is, of things being expected, their substantial reality." Or better, we might say that faith means that.
Now a conviction is something far stronger than any assumption. Some versions instead of conviction read convincing testimony, convincing evidence, demonstration, a proving or proof, certainty.

If we expect certain events to happen, because God has said they will happen, how can faith be only an assumption that they will come to pass? The conviction regarding matters not seen must surely be based upon a solid foundation, a certainty. Is an assumption the same as a certainty? If faith springs from a record (or tidings), and the record is through a divine declaration (Rom. 10:17), where does the assumption come in?

With these remarks we return to Hebrews 1:3. Beyond any question this verse is one of the grandest in all Scripture. Not only so, but like every other divine statement, it is expressed in the simplest of terms. It was meant to be understood, but alas, how few have grasped its import. Our earnest desire is that all our readers may come into a deeper realization of God-in-Christ through this divine revelation. How has it been possible for all sorts of wrong doctrines to flourish when the unknown writer of the Hebrews epistle makes it so crystal clear that the Son is a radiant shining-forth of the glory, and an exact representation of all that makes up God, all that is substantially God, all that the very existence of God really means? How, in the face of such a statement, can men affront Deity by claiming that His Son is only human?

Perhaps, however, you are, or have been, in the same position as the disciples were in chapter 14 of John. Not just quite clear as to who the Lord was, and perhaps not in too much of a hurry to reveal your ignorance. It will be found that what the Lord told the disciples fits in exactly with all other statements in the Scriptures. Forty years of intense examination of the Scriptures in the original tongues have proven to the writer, how true it is that the Scriptures cannot be broken, how they all agree and dovetail into each other.

As a youth at school I had to learn woodwork. But alas, it was extremely hard work to get mortises and tenons to fit together. Nothing seemed to dovetail exactly. It was very much easier to pick up Greek, and very much more profitable.

There is no doubt that for a time the disciples were puzzled regarding the Lord. They could not but believe the mighty works which He wrought, which proved that He was from God. They had plenty of opportunity to behold His spotless character and life. But His connection with the Father was a mystery to them. And so it is still today with most believers.

He had told them He was going away and making ready a place for them, but would come again and take them beside Himself.

"And just where I am going away, you are aware of the way" (John 14:4). Thomas is the one who plucks up courage to enquire about the way. The Lord tells him He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and no one is coming to the Father except through Him. Thomas had expressed his total ignorance by saying, not "we are not aware just whither (or just where; hopou) You are going away," but merely "whither." "If you, had got to know Me," says the Lord, "My Father also in that case you had got to know. And henceforth you are getting to know Him, and you have been seeing Him."

Philip is evidently perplexed and staggered, and asks, "Lord, shew us the Father." Indicate to us the Father. The Lord replies, "So much time with you I am, and thou hast not got to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has been seeing the Father. How art thou saying, Shew us the Father? Art thou not believing that I (am) in the Father, and the Father in Me is (estin)? The declarations which I am talking to you, from Myself I am not talking. Now the Father in Me remaining, is doing His works." This rendering is intended to be literal, like the Greek, not idiomatic English. We would call special attention to verse 10, and the word "is," which is absent in the first clause. This would seem to indicate that the Lord was actually in the Father, yet the Father in a sense was in Him.

The disciples, however, do not yet seem to have been enlightened, and it is only in ch. 16 at verses 27 and 28 that the mystery vanishes. "You have believed that I came out from-beside (para) God. I came out from-beside the Father, and have, come into the world. Further, I am leaving the world, and am going toward the Father."

It was just at this point that the difficulties of the disciples disappeared decisively. "Lo, now in boldness Thou art talking, and not a single proverb Thou art speaking. Now we are aware that Thou art aware of all things, and no need Thou hast that anyone may be asking Thee. In this we are believing that from God Thou camest out."

Now they knew just where their Lord and their Leader had come from. Not only from-beside (para) God, but from, away from God (apo).

Yet possibly the mass of believers now are very much in the dark as to who Christ really is, and what is His connection with God.

We therefore propose to give a few hints or suggestions which may help to clear up difficulties, which have mainly been caused by Trinitarian doctrines.

In Deut. 4:39 Moses makes it clear to Israel that Jehovah is the God in heaven above and on the earth beneath, adding "There is none further" (ain oud). After the giving of the Law, it is made clear (ch. 6:4) that "Jehovah our God (is) Jehovah one." This ought to have been enough to fence out completely any Trinitarian doctrine. It may be that the final doom of this doctrine is referred to in Zech. 14:9. In this chapter we learn that in the glorious day when Israel's God returns to earth, Jehovah's feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives. "And Jehovah comes to be for King over all the earth; in that day it is coming to be Jehovah is One, and His name one." There will no longer be any doubt as to who Jehovah is. His coming is associated with such extraordinary physical convulsions, in the Land, and elsewhere (verses 4 to 10), that none will harbour any doubts. But God will prove that though many have come in His name, there is only one Jehovah, and that He is no Trinity. His name will be one. That does not mean that He will not have other names, because He has others. It means that He who bears that august name Jehovah is one Person, and only one.

Let it be our object now to realize that God is one. One textual critic appears to see something out of place in the twice repeated word "one" in this verse. Perhaps he has a lingering leaning towards a more trinitarian idea. So he suggests instead of the word achd (one), the word for "awful" (fchd). But there is no need to make any change. It is quite true that the earth will have a wholesome awe in that day for Jehovah's name. It is a grand thing to possess a salutary awe of God. Present day tendencies to make God to be the Author of moral delinquencies in His people and in all men are inclined to destroy that holy awe. Little wonder that those who teach this blasphemous fallacy become altogether out of touch with God in their lives.

All the difficulties respecting the doctrine of God have been due to the tendency to personalize both the Father and the Son. That is, to keep them both apart, as though they had separate personalities. It must be obvious that if God is One, He is one Person, not two or three. No doubt this tendency would be partly due to the gradual shift in the meaning of the Latin theological term, persona (a mask). As one has very well put it, in the Scriptures "no footstep has been seen of a divided Deity." The same operations are ascribed indiscriminately to Father, Son and Spirit. There is a beautiful indifferency of title in connection with the divine acts. God creates (Gen. 1:1), The Son creates (Heb. 1:10). God's Spirit goes forth and creates (Psalm 104:30). The Lord was one Paraclete or Aider (that is, one who can be called in or called alongside; an Advocate), but promised another, who is the Spirit (John 14:16-18). Christ cast out the demons in God's Spirit (Matt. 12:28); in God's finger (Luke 11:20); while Jesus wrought powers and miracles (Acts 2:22). Our God and Father chose us in Christ before world-establishment (Eph. 1:4). Christ chose the disciples (John 15:16). In Acts 1:24 the chooser is simply Lord (i.e. Jehovah), Heart-knower.

The Trinitarian will tell us that the Second Person in the Trinity is incarnate in Christ. Paul, however, states (Col. 2:9) that in Christ "is dwelling all the fullness of the Deity bodily." Not only so, but all that divine fullness was well pleased, well satisfied, to dwell in Him (Col. 1:19). Fullness or complement means all that which makes anyone or anything complete. When we talk of a ship's complement, we mean the total personnel necessary for thoroughly manning the ship. In Christ there dwells a completeness of all God's characteristics and attributes, yet in bodily form. It was not one-third part of God that became incarnate. The whole Being and Person of God was incarnate. It is all God who is well pleased, well satisfied, through Christ to reconcile all unto Him.
Some have sneered at the idea of God's-Fullness-in-Christ dying on earth while His Father in heaven lived, as though the dying of Christ must leave the throne of heaven empty. No doubt Professor Goldwin Smith of the United States of America had somewhat similar feelings when he scoffed at the crude idea of the Eternal Being becoming the guest of a Hebrew sheikh (Gen. 18). Is God so limited that, as one has very well put it, He "cannot be enshrined in a lily without leaving the throne of heaven empty?"

Another objector says we must not talk of the incarnation of Christ, or of His "Deity." And that in spite of the very clear statement that the entire fullness of Deity makes its home in Him! We must be in error in saying that the Logos or Word was Christ! At least, John states most clearly that the Word "becomes flesh." And of what is Paul writing to Timothy in his former epistle, ch. 3:16 regarding the great secret of piety or devoutness? That secret is something to be learned through initiation by believers. It is most assuredly not a secret which is heralded among Gentiles. Christ and His salvation have been heralded among Gentiles, but no one yet has heralded God's secrets to them. I once knew an old worthy who said, when asked, regarding his subject matter at a talk in a Salvation Army meeting, that he would commence right away with the Secret of Eph. 3:3-6. But alas, God's secrets are for His broken and bruised saints only, not for the world.

"And avowedly, great is the secret of devoutness:—HE WHO is manifested in flesh, justified in spirit, viewed by messengers, heralded among Gentiles, believed in world-society, taken up in glory." He appeared IN FLESH (en sarki). That is incarnation. We do not require to bother ourselves by inverting the sense to mean that the flesh manifested Him. To appear or be manifested is not the same as to reveal. It is true that Christ's flesh veiled His divinity. Yet historically, He did appear in flesh. The true secret of proper conduct can only be found in a Person. God must be the source. All the statements in this supposed verse from an ancient hymn refer to Christ. It would be quite absurd to talk of a divine secret being taken up in glory.

We would present the following view of God as a help to understanding what must be more or less of a mystery to many. God is one Person. He is incarnate in Christ. On the side of God, the Father and the Son are One. But on the side of man, the Son stands off from the Father. The Son is the Visible of the Invisible. The Invisible is the Father. The Visible Son and the Invisible Father are One God. Christ is God in the plenitude of His Being. Yet He did not deem it to be an act of plundering, to be equal, in certain respects (isa, plural) with God (Phil. 2:6). He was equal in some respects, but in others He was not equal. It is strange that no Version so far appears to have indicated that this little Greek adjective is here plural, as it is at Luke 6:34; Rev. 21:16. At John 5:18 the singular form is found (ison), where the Jews claimed that the Lord was "making Himself equal to God."

In 1. Cor. 8:4 Paul makes it very clear that "no one is God except One." In heaven and on earth there may be gods many and lords many, nevertheless to us—One God:—(1) the Father, out of whom the all things, and we for Him; and (2) one Lord, Jesus Christ, though whom the all things, and we through Him. God without Christ, must be incomplete. Christ without God, must be incomplete. God and Christ are complementary. Father and Son are complementary. The Son as a Radiance, or an irradiation from the divine glory (Heb. 1:3) does not mean that any other person could be that, or that He thereby existed apart from or independent of the glory. In verse 8 this Son is very distinctly and deliberately termed God. Of this Radiance it is said, "Thy throne, O God, is for the eon of the eon." Perhaps with Codex Vaticanus, we should omit the last three words. No one has yet explained what is "the eon of the eon." Literally the Greek reads, "Thy throne, (Thou) who (art) God, is for the eon." Greek does not possess two vocative cases, and there is no vocative here. Arthur S. Way's fine paraphrase reads, "The throne of Thee, who are God."

One more verse must be considered before we pass on to our next chapter. Acts 20:28 is apt to cause some confusion. "The church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." How can we speak of the blood of God, Who is spirit? The matter is partly cleared up by the 1944 revision of the Concordant Version, which comes into line with the Emphatic Diaglott, Bowes (1870), Darby (1871), and Cunnington, which read "the blood of (His) own." Just one hundred years ago, Heinfetter had "by means of the blood that is his own." Generally the word "own" (idios) is placed before its noun.

Thus, Heb. 9:12, "yet through (His) own blood." Heb. 13:12, "through (His) own blood." In these cases it is Christ's blood that is referred to. But in Acts 20:28, the construction is different and unusual, "through the blood of the own." In order to make matters quite clear we would suggest "the ecclesia of God, which He procures (for Himself; Middle) through the blood of (His) own (One)." That is, through His Son's blood.

We must now devote some attention to the Word or Logos of John 1, in order to discover, if we can, the background to this peculiar expression.

Two important verses, from 2. Samuel and 1. Chron., must also be cited as witnesses, to shew what King David understood regarding the Coming One. These verses have for long lain in obscurity, just like Job 14:12-15, and it is time they were cleared up.

End Chapter 3 (Alexander Thomson)

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009