GOD AND CHRIST
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:
"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."