Another one for when the "Trinity" doesn't mean "Trinity"

Posted Apr 04, 2011 by Bobby B in General Hits: 4,872

Signs of the Times, August 5, 1930, p. 6.

A Bible student in Washington asks about the eternity of Christ the Son of God.  All attempts to prove that our Lord is "co- existent with  the Father" or  "that there was a  time  when  Jesus  was  not"—are  utterly profitless,  and  but  the  vain  play  and byplay of human  speculation.  This whole  question of  the  origin  of  the  three  Persons  of  the Trinity  is  shrouded  in  the  inscrutable mind, will,  and  purpose  of  God.  For  us  to  understand it would be to make us as God Himself.  Let us not as poor human worms of  the dust try to crawl over the forbidding battlements of  the comprehension of the great God.  "My thoughts  are  not  your  thoughts,  neither  are your ways My ways,  saith  Jehovah.  For  as the heavens are higher  than  the earth,  so  are My  ways  higher  than  your  ways,  and  My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8,9.  Human  thought  can never hope  to  solve  the homoiousianism of Arius or  the homoomianism of Athanasius;  can never determine fully whether  the  Son  is  "like"  the  Father  or whether He is  the  "same" as  the Father. 

This much is  certain:  the Holy Scriptures present Jesus Christ as equal with the Father in the fullness of Deity.  How lofty and gripping  are  the words  of  John:  "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  through  Him;  and  without  Him  was not  anything  made  that  hath  been  made."  "And  the  Word  became  flesh,  and  dwelt among us  (and we beheld His glory, glory as of  the  only-begotten  from  the  Father),  full of grace and truth."  John 1:1-3,14.  See also Colossians  1:14-19;  Hebrews  1:1-3.

Some have thought that Paul's description of  Christ  as  "the  first-born  of  all  creation" (Colossians  1:15), and  that of John, as  "the beginning  of  the creation of God"  (Revelation 3:14), establish the  fact that Christ had a beginning in  the same sense  that a  creature has  a  beginning.  But  this  is  all  beyond  our knowledge  and  comprehension.

As  to  Colossians  1:15,  the  context  shows clearly  that Paul  is  positing  the  sovereignty of  Christ  as  the  Creator  of  all  things.  As Creator,  our  Lord  is  distinct  from  all  creatures;  and  this  absolute  distinction  is  indicated  by  the  word  "first."  As  Creator,  of Course,  Jesus  Christ  "is  before  all  things" (17th  verse);  and  in  this  sense  of  being "before,"  He  is  "first."  Being  first  in  distinction from  the  creation, He  is  also  necessarily  first  in  relation  to  the  creation  in priority  of  time.  Any  idea  that  the  Son  is part  of  the  creation  itself  is  utterly  foreign to  Paul's  conception.  See  Colossians  2:9; 1  Corinthians  8:6;  Philippians  2:6-8.  Moffatt makes  the  expression,  "the first-born of all  creation,"  plainer  by  translating  the Greek:  "born  first  before  all  the  creation;" and  with  this  Goodspeed  is  in  substantial agreement.

The word  "born"  is  used because,  in  contrasting  the  creation  with  His  creation,  it postulates  the  nature  of  the  Lord's  origin.  He  was  not  created  as  were  creatures,  but was born out of God as God;  and so  is  of  the same nature as  the Father.  Just as  a human son  is  born  human  by  nature  because  his father  is  human,  so  the  divine  Son  of  God is by nature "born" God because His Father is  God.

As  to  Revelation  3:14,  both  Goodspeed and Moffatt  translate  the words, "the beginning of the creation of God," into  the clearer, "the  origin  of  God's  creation."  The  scholarly Charles,  in his recent work on  the Revelation,  says  the  word  "beginning"  is  "the origin  (or "primary source")  of  the  creation of  God."  This  is  in  full  harmony with  the scriptures I have given above on the creative work  of  Christ.  The  Saviour  is  "the  beginning  of  the  creation  of God"  if we  properly grasp  the meaning  of  "beginning"  in  its  active  sense  as  declaring  that  the  Son  of  God is  the  Beginner,  the  Author,  the  Moving Principle,  the  Source,  of  all  created  things. To  sum  up,  "in  the beginning" Christ was "with"—or,  better,  according  to  the  literal Greek,  toward—the  Father  as  Creator,  and not from God as creature.  In the light of this great,  stupendous  truth,  all  endeavors  to place  the  Son  in  time,  to  apprehend His  divine  inception, must dissolve.  He  is,  indeed, the  "Alpha  and  the  Omega,"  "the  first  and the  last,"  "the  beginning  and  the  end."....

The  Scriptures  teach  plainly  that  Christ was  "in  the  beginning with  the  Father"  and "created all  things."  John tells us  that Jesus as  the  "Word" was  "in  the  beginning" with the  Father,  and  that  "all  things  were  made through Him;  and without Him was not anything made  that hath been made."  See  also Colossians  1:13-17.  In Proverbs 8:22-31 we find  Jesus  as  the  personification  of  wisdom revealed  as  existing  in  the beginning;  and  in Micah  5:2,  it  is  said  of Him, who  came  out of  Bethlehem  Ephrathah,  that  His  "goings forth are  from of  old,  from everlasting."

The following is a contrasting statement:

(William Johnson, In Absolute Confidence, 1979, p.48)

"We have spent some time on the term 'Son.' Now we see that we should not press the designation too far in the direction of human analogies. When Scripture calls Jesus Son, it does not mean that He has had origin in God: that because God generated Him, He is His 'Son.' Sonship among human beings leads to such a conclusion but the apostle specifically denies it. The Son has the divine being (or 'nature'), just as our children share our nature, but the Son always had divinity.  Nor is He 'Son' because of the Incarnation. It is the Son who is incarnated. At the birth He becomes 'Son of God' in a special sense, but He was eternally Son before.

The ultimate meaning of Son here eludes us. And indeed it must.  For we are dealing with the topic of God Himself, the one God who exists in trinitarian, personal distinctions. We may say that the 'Son language,' as elsewhere in the New Testament, points us to divine functions rather than to origins. As in the fourth Gospel, the 'Father' sends the Son, gives Him words, authority, and even life, so here the activity of God as seen by His creatures is that of the Son who creates, sustains, purifies, reigns, and inherits."