5. Begotten Theology Part 2 of 6 - God Begotten
Seventh-day Adventist Trinity issues
The Begotten Series
(Part 2 of 6)
This is part 2 of the begotten theology in this ‘Begotten Series’.
In the previous section we dealt with the Greek word ‘monogenes’. In this section we shall see that to say that in His pre-existence that Christ is a begotten Son is saying that He is God Himself begotten. We shall do this by first looking at a Bible text that says this precisely. This is John 1:18.
In the Seventh-day Adventist Bible commentary, there is a comment on John 1:18 that I would now like to share with you.
The verse in question says
“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”. John 1:18
Note first of all that John is saying that at the time he wrote his gospel, which was over 60 years after the ascension of Christ (the end of the 1st century), the Son was “in the bosom of His Father”. This is an interesting insight because as we shall see later, Ellen White spoke of the Son of God, prior to His coming to earth, as being ‘torn from the bosom of the Father’.
The comment made in the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia in reference to this verse says
“Textual evidence is divided (cf. p. 146) between the readings “Son” and “God”. Either way would be reference to Christ. If the reading “God” is accepted, the sense would then be: “the unique one, very God, the one abiding in the bosom of the Father,” or the only one (who is) God, the one who abides in the bosom of the Father” (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5 page 905, 1966 edition)
It is being said here that some extant manuscripts say ‘Son’ (only begotten Son) whilst others say ‘God’ (only begotten God). This brings us to a very interesting conclusion. This conclusion is that this verse could easily read “No man hath seen God at any time, God the only begotten which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”. Thus we could have the terminology, ‘God begotten’ (not a begotten god or a lesser god but God Himself begotten).
Here I believe is the mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh. The Son of God is God Himself (the one and only God) begotten but is also a separate personality from God (the Father). This is exactly as the New International Version puts this verse.
“No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” John 1:18 New International Version.
This is in complete harmony with the opening words of John’s gospel that says
“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.” John 1:1-2
We can see from Scripture that the Word that eventually became flesh (see John 1:14) was not only with God but was, in His pre-existence and in the highest sense of the word, God.
In the book ‘The Trinity’, Woodrow Whidden makes this observation.
After saying that John 1:18 was one of the more overlooked texts of John’s writings he says
“The reason that it often gets overlooked results from the fact that, along with the King James Version and many other earlier versions, the verse reads as follows “ No one has seen God at anytime. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (NKJV) (Woodrow Whidden, ‘The Trinity’, page 54, The full and eternal deity of Christ’)
He then says
“The expression “the only begotten Son” is, however, replaced in most contemporary English versions with either “the only begotten God” (NASB) or “God the one and only” (NIV). The reason for this more striking testimony to the deity of Christ is that the most reliable and ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament have the reading monogenes theos (“only begotten God” or “one and only God,” or “unique God) in place of monogenes huois (“only begotten Son” or “one and only Son” or “unique Son”. (Ibid)
The thought that Whidden is conveying here is that the more reliable manuscripts, also the most ancient, render John 1:18 as saying ‘monogenes theos’ (God) instead of ‘monogenes huois’ (son) which in turn lends itself to the understanding that the ’Son’ is complete deity.
Some may object to the expression ‘begotten God’ because it makes it look as though the one who is begotten is a different God from the One whom He was begotten but this fear is dispelled when it is reasoned that it is God Himself who is begotten (God begotten).
“If the witness of the most reliable Greek manuscripts support the term theos (“God”), rather than huios (“Son”), what we have here is one of the few direct, uncontested applications of the term “God” to Jesus in the New Testament (such as John 1:1, Phil.2:6, and Heb. 1:8). (Ibid)
Interesting to note here is that Whidden says that these “most reliable Greek manuscripts” use the word ‘monogenes’ which historically has been translated as ‘only begotten’. This means to an extent that the crux of the problem here revolves around the word ‘monogenes’. As this has been dealt with in the previous section we will not comment further here.
The thought of the Son being God Himself begotten was eloquently expressed by Uriah Smith. He was one of the long time pioneers of Seventh-day Adventism. We shall also see later that what he said was also once the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. At least it was whilst Ellen White was alive.
Smith said (this was when the faith of Seventh-day Adventists was still a non-trinitarian faith)
“With the Son, the evolution of deity, as deity, ceased. All else, of things animate or inanimate, has come in by creation of the Father and the Son — the Father the antecedent cause, the Son the acting agent through whom all has been wrought. No ranks of intelligences, it matters not how high, above or below; no orders of cherubim or seraphim; no radiant thrones or extensive dominions, principalities, or powers, but were created by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Uriah Smith, Looking unto Jesus, page 10, chapter 2, ‘Christ as Creator’ 1898)
Here Smith is saying that the Son of God is God Himself begotten (“the evolution of deity”). This was in keeping with what was then, in 1898, the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. Note he says that this evolution that ceased was “as deity”. Smith obviously had in mind that the Son had later become flesh.
Christ Begotten - thoughts from the Spirit of Prophecy
In the Scriptures, the word ‘monogenes’ is always (and only) used in connection with literal offspring (literal sons and daughters). We noted this in the previous section. In the case of the Son of God, there is no reason to believe that this is any different, even when referring to His pre-existence.
Nevertheless, when applied to the Son of God, we must not think of this ‘begetting’ as we would in human terms. How and when this ‘begetting’ was achieved we have not been told.
What we have been told though, through the spirit of prophecy, is that
“A complete offering has been made; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times 30th May 1895 ‘Christ Our Complete Salvation’)
We should note first of all that by saying “only-begotten Son”, Ellen White is using this expression as an adjective (a description of the Son) but the second time she uses ‘begotten’ is in the sense of why Christ is said to be the Son of God. In the latter usage she said that He is a Son because He is begotten. This is the all-important part of what she is saying. This is the very stress that she is making. If this is missed then the whole point of her making this statement is missed. In other words, if this point is missed, then she may as well not have bothered to make the statement.
As we noted in section three, much the same was said by Hilary of Poitiers in the 4th century.
Here in this statement, the word ‘begotten’ is used in the sense that this was something that had happened (‘come to pass’ or ‘caused to be’). Ellen White was using this word (the second time she used it) as a verb, a ‘doing (action) word’. There is no way that it can be said that here she is using this word as in an adjective (a describing word) in the sense of ‘unique’ or ‘one and only’ etc. Read the statement again and you will see what I mean. This use of the English language here is not open to misinterpretation. In other words, her meaning here cannot be and must not be misconstrued.
It can be clearly seen that Ellen White contrasts Christ a ‘begotten’ Son with the idea of a son by ‘creation’ (an action) or ‘adoption’ (an action), thus we can also see very clearly that she uses the term ‘begotten’ in the sense of an acquiring which has come to pass causing to be’ etc (an action).
In other words, God ‘acquired’ a son by the process we generally term a begetting, meaning causing Him to be. Certainly Ellen White here used ‘begotten’ in the sense of a verb, an action or doing word.
According to Ellen White, there was no question regarding the pre-existent Christ not being begotten or that He was not literally a son.
Note particularly this next statement that came from her pen. It came 6 weeks after her previous ‘begotten’ statement.
“The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind." (Ellen G. White, Review & Herald 9th July 1895 ‘The Duty of the Minister and the People’)
We are told here that the Eternal Father is unchangeable. Ellen White does not say this of the Son. Secondly note that instead of saying that the Son of God was ‘begotten’ in the ‘express image’ of His Father’s person (as in her previous statement), she actually says that He “was made in the express image of his person”. Here the two words ‘begotten’ and ‘made’ are being used synonymously.
Thirdly, note that this was in the Son’s pre-existence, meaning that was prior to when God “sent Him down to earth”. In other words, she was not using “made” with reference to the incarnation or resurrection of Christ but to the source of the eternal being of the Son. Note that she made these statements after having had 50 years of revelation from God (1844-1895).
Fourthly, and perhaps the very height of importance regarding the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son, Ellen White says that in order to send Him to earth, the Father “tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person.”
Again and again from the Scriptures, also from the pen of Ellen White, it can be clearly seen that the Son is separate person from the Father and that by some means not revealed (the actual mechanics of it) He ‘came out’ of the Father, or, as the early church fathers put it, was ‘generated’ of the Father (see section two and section three). This was obviously the best word that they could find to describe this happening.
Ellen White clearly says that the Father is the source of the Son’s being.
In fact she said in the ‘Review and Herald’ in 1890
"The world's Redeemer was equal with God. His authority was as the authority of God. He declared that he had no existence separate from the Father. The authority by which he spoke, and wrought miracles, was expressly his own, yet he assures us that he and the Father are one.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald 7th Jan 1890, ‘Christ revealed the Father’)
Here we are told very clearly that in His own right, God is a personality. He is the Father. We are also told that Christ is “equal” to Him therefore He is a separate personality from the Father. Ellen White also makes it unmistakably clear that the Son has “no existence separate from the Father”. This is totally in keeping with the begotten concept of Christ.
In the form (morphe) of God
Another interesting passage of Scripture is where the apostle Paul said to the believers in Philippi
“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.” Philippians 2:5-8
I would draw your attention first to where Paul says that Christ, in His pre-existence, thought it not robbery to be “equal with God”. If Paul had wanted to say that Christ had been God Himself he would have said it but this is something that he did not wish to do. If he had done so he would have caused confusion between the Father and the Son. As did Ellen White repeatedly (and was very careful to do), he differentiated between God (the Father) and Christ (the Son).
It is also interesting to note the use of the definite article (also the non-use of it) in John 1:1. It says in the KJV
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
By the use of the article and the exclusion of it, this text would read
“In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and the Word was God.”
John here, as did Paul (see above) was differentiating between God (the Father) and the Word (the Son of God). This is why he included the article and said “the God”. This was with obvious reference to the Father. As was said in section one, it was not “the God” (the Father) that became flesh but the Son of the God.
Referring back to Paul’s remarks to the Philippians, whilst much could be said here concerning of what it was that the Son of God emptied Himself to become like us (which is really what this passage actually concerns), suffice to say that Christ is again spoken of as being separate from God. Note also that God is spoken of here as supreme deity (the infinite God). What I mean by that is that Christ (in His pre-existence) is said to have been “equal with God” (for an understanding of what the Son ‘gave up’ in becoming human see section seventeen and section eighteen of the detailed history series).
Paul does not say that God was equal with Christ making the Son the supreme deity (the infinite God). It is the Father (the infinite God) not the Son who is the source of all things. It was God the Father that did the giving and the Son that did the receiving. The Son received also that He could give.
As Ellen White put it in ‘The Desire of Ages’ (this was after saying that the angels find their joy in giving)
“But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory," but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 21, ‘God with us’)
She then added
“In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.” (Ibid)
Returning our thoughts to Philippians 2:5-8 (see above), notice something else very interesting. This is that the word translated here “form” in both verse 6 and verse 7 is from the Greek word ‘morphe’. I say interesting because from various writings outside of the Scriptures, we learn that the Greeks used this word when referring to change in their Gods. This was not a change to their inner being (structure) but to their outward appearance. Thus the very same God would be in a different form (morphe).
The meaning of Morphe can also be seen in such words as ‘metamorphous’, metamorphosis and metamorphic. All of these latter words are to do with change or transformation. This can also be seen in the Greek god Morpheus who had the ability to take any human’s form, also to appear in dreams etc. In computer language today we use the word ‘morphing’ to denote the transformation of one image into another.
However, as far as God is concerned, this ‘different form’ as in the evolution of deity, the inner being (the person of God Himself) was unchanged. This was the same as it always had been. Jesus was the ‘person’ of God manifest in the flesh. We now need to take a look at what we mean by ‘person’.
The ‘person’ of God
In Hebrew’s 1:3, the Greek word that is here translated ‘person’ is the Greek word ‘hupostasis’. This is completely different than the Greek word ‘prosopon’ that Paul could have used which means the countenance or appearance (i.e. that which is visibly seen, the visage). As a matter of interest, this latter word ‘prosopon’ is often translated in the KJV as ‘face’ ‘faces’, or ‘countenance’ etc., thus depicting outward appearance. We can see therefore that in His opening remarks to the Hebrew Christians, the writer avoided using either ‘eikon’ or ‘prosopon’, both of which are normally used with reference to outward appearance.
By using the word ‘hupostasis’, Paul is not expressing the idea that the Son was the same as the Father ‘in outward looks’ but that He was one and the same in ‘inward appearance’ meaning the very same in His ‘person’ (inner person or inner being).
In what I believe was her most comprehensive statement on the Godhead (this was when there was a crisis within Seventh-day Adventism regarding Godhead theology), Ellen White wrote
“The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person." "God 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 shown the personality of the Father.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B No.7 page 62 1906 ‘Come out and be Separate’)
In other words, the Son is the very ‘person’ (inner person or inner being) of God shown.
As a matter of passing interest here, Ellen White does say that the Father and Son are not identical.
To the Seventh-day Adventist youth at the time she was preparing ‘The Desire of Ages’ she said
“As the disciples comprehended it, as their perception took hold of God's divine compassion, they realized that there is a sense in which the sufferings of the Son were the sufferings of the Father. From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. They were two, yet little short of being identical; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character.” (Ellen G. White, Youth’s Instructor 16th December 1897 ‘The New Commandment part 1’)
We can see again from this that Ellen White clearly says that the Father and Son are two separate individuals. She also says that they are “little short of being identical”. In other words, the Father and Son are almost the same but not quite (not exactly the same). This was much the same as we noted was said by Alexander of Alexandria (see section one). It is obviously this difference that makes the Son unique. This is that He is the only one begotten of God.
Returning our thoughts to the book of Hebrews, three times the writer uses the word ‘hupostasis’. First in Hebrews 1:3 where it is translated ‘person’, secondly in Hebrews 3:14 where it is translated ‘confidence’ and thirdly in Hebrews 11:3 where it is translated ‘substance’. All three instances are as in the KJV. The same writer also used it in 2 Corinthians 9:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:17. This is where it is translated as ‘confident’ and ‘confidence’ (KJV).
The word ‘hupostasis’ is a compound of two other Greek words. These words are ‘hupo’ meaning literally ‘under’ (for its usage see such as Matthew 5:15, Luke 13:34, Acts 2:5 and Romans 16:20 etc) and ‘histemi’ (a primary verb) meaning to be stood (stand or standing) or be established (for its usage see Matthew 2:9 [stood], 6:5 [standing], 18:16 [established], Mark 9:36 [set], John 1:26 [standeth] and Acts 24:21 [standing] etc).
We can see then that the word ‘hupostasis’ means that which is the ‘foundation’ or ‘under-girding’ (sub-structure or substance) of cause of being. It also means the ‘essential structure’ of what something is (what makes something what it is).
We can see this more clearly as we study how the author of Hebrews used this same word in Hebrews 3:14.
This is where he says
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence [Gr. Hupostasis] stedfast unto the end” Hebrews 3:14
This “confidence” is the substance of our hope (it is that of which our hope is made, the foundation or under-girding).
As Paul explains as he uses this Greek word for the third time
“Now faith is the substance [Gr. Hupostasis] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
The substance/confidence (Gr. hupostasis) is the ‘stuff’ of which are hopes are made. It is our faith, the foundation or under-girding of our hopes.
Paul uses this very same Greek word when he said that the Son is the “express image (Gr. charakter) of His (God’s) person” (Gr. hupostasis) (see Hebrews 1:3).
This ‘stuff’ (substance/foundation/under-girding) then of which Paul says that Christ consists, is God’s person. It is the very essence of God (who and what God is). It is essential nature.
It is very interesting to note that William Tyndale translated Hebrews 1:3 as saying (as did Miles Coverdale when he produced his translation of the complete Bible after Tyndale was martyred for his faith)
“Which sonne beynge the brightnes of his glory and very ymage of his substance bearinge vp all thinges with the worde of his power hath in his awne person pourged oure synnes and is sitten on the right honde of the maiestie an hye” Hebrews 1:3 Tyndale’s translation
This would say to us today in modern English
“Which son being the brightness of his glory and very image of his [God’s] substance bearing up all things with the word of his power hath in his own person purged our sins and is sitting on the right hand of the majesty on high”
Notice here that Tyndale says that the Son is the “very image of his [God’s] “substance” whereas the KJV says, “express image of his (God’s) person”. Notice also that Tyndale emphasises that the Son purged our sins in “his own person” (Gr. ‘heautou’ meaning himself) thus ensuring that the Son is seen as a separate person from God the Father and the one who did the purging in Himself.
Tyndale’s translation is much better than the KJV. It shows exactly what Paul meant by his use of ‘hupostasis’. Seeing that the translators of the KJV relied heavily on Tyndale’s version, one is left to wonder why they did not use his translation here. They confused the issue whilst Tyndale made it very clear. Tyndale is saying that what God is, so is the Son.
The Word (the Son) is everything that God is
By using the words ‘substance’ and ‘person’, Tyndale was attempting (and I believe succeeded), in showing that the Greek conveys that the Son was a manifestation, as a separate personality from God, of the very being of God (who and what God is).
The translators of the KJV did not accomplish this when they translated it as saying of the Son
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” Hebrews 1:3.
The expression here used (“express image of His person”) could quite easily be taken to mean an exact copy of God in ‘outward appearance’.
By his use of Greek words, the author of Hebrews did not mean to convey that latter thought. To put it another way, the understanding of this verse as it is written in the KJV would totally depend on the reader’s conception of the word ‘person’ although the KJV rendering would be more than acceptable to trinitarians. This is because it does ‘tie in’ quite well with their trinity formula. It is quite possible therefore that the KJV translators translated this verse with a trinitarian bias. In other words by saying “very image of his [God’s] substance”, Tyndale captured successfully the original thought whilst the translators of the KJV confused (clouded) the issue.
In Hebrews 1:3, Paul was obviously setting out to convey, as we would say today and as was said by Ellen White, that the Son is the very “personality (substance) of God made manifest” (see above).
John Wycliffe, in his translation of the Scriptures (this was the first complete Bible in any European language which effectively means that it was the first complete Bible in English) says
“Which whanne also he is the briytnesse of glorie, and figure of his substaunce, and berith alle thingis bi word of his vertu, he makith purgacioun of synnes, and syttith on the riythalf of the maieste in heuenes Hebrews 1:3 Wycliffe translation (1395 edition)
As can be seen, even though it is in 14th century English, Wycliffe says, as did Tyndale later, that the Son is a “figure of his [God’s] substance”. This shows, (as did Tyndale successfully) that the Son is a separate person from God yet an exact image of His substance (inner person/inner being).
Even the New World Translation of the Scriptures published by the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who do not even believe that the Son is God Himself) says that He is an exact representation of God’s very being.
Hebrews 1:3 says in this particular translation
“He is the reflection of (his) glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places” Hebrews 1:3 New World Translation
The Jehovah’s Witness translation of this verse is in perfect accord with the Greek (“the exact representation of his very being”) although we must hasten to add that as a denomination they do not regard the Son as Yahweh but as a ‘creature’ created by Him. There can be no compromise between these two beliefs. The study you are now reading accepts only that the Son is Yahweh Himself, whilst Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Yahweh created the Son. These two views are diametrically opposed to each other.
It is also very interesting to note that the Presbyterian minister Daniel Mace, in his 18th century translation of the New Testament translated directly from the Greek, says of the Son in Hebrews 1:3
“Who being the radiation of his glory, and the imprest image of his [God’s] substance, and governing all things by his powerful command, after having himself made expiation for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the divine majesty in the highest heavens.” Hebrews 1:3 Mace translation (1729)
Notice here that Mace, although highly criticised by many scholars for his translation having a Unitarian bias, (amongst other things Unitarians are non-trinitarians) says that the Son was the “imprest image of his [God’s] substance”.
The word ‘imprest’ is very interesting. In its archaic sense it is a past tense and a past participle of the word ‘impress’ which dictionary definitions include the meaning ‘to press or stamp, or print something in or upon; to imprint (that which bears the impression), to stamp an image upon etc’. Here we can see then that Mace says that the Son was the very imprest (impression) of God.
Interesting is the way that this is explained in ‘The Abingdon Bible Commentary’ of 1929, compiled by some 66 professors of biblical exegesis, biblical languages, theology, Christian doctrine and church history etc.
With reference to the words ‘express image’ (KJV) it says
“The word translated ‘very image’ means, literally, the stamp cut by a die, and so the impress made upon a seal; thus the phrase signifies that the essence of the divine nature was stamped on the Person of Christ. He was the impress of God’s essence” (Professor H. T Andrews, D.D., ‘The Abingdon Bible Commentary’, 1929)
Note the words “the essence of the divine nature was stamped on the Person of Christ”. This “nature” is with obvious reference to the ‘inner person’ (substance) of God.
Very interesting to note here is that in a letter addressed to Alexander Bishop of Constantinople, Alexander the Bishop of Alexandria said with reference to the words of Jesus “I and my Father are one” (this is from the same letter in which we noted in section one that Alexander said that those who believe the Son to be unbegotten have their intellects blinded)
“In these words [I and my Father are one] the Lord does not proclaim Himself to be the Father, neither does He represent two natures as one; but that the essence of the Son of the Father preserves accurately the likeness of the Father, His nature taking off the impress of likeness to Him in all things, being the exact image of the Father and the express stamp of the prototype.” (Letter, Alexander of Alexandria to Alexander of Constantinople, Theodoret’s history, Book 1 chapter 3)
This is exactly as was said in the various Bible translations we have just read.
Note the wording “impress of likeness” to God’s nature. Alexander said that the “essence of the Son” “preserves accurately the likeness of the Father”. Note too he says that the Son is “the express stamp of the prototype”, meaning an exact replica of the original.
Alexander then added
“When, therefore, Philip, desirous of seeing the Father, said to Him, `Lord, show us the Father,' the Lord with abundant plainness said to him, ` ,' as though the Father were beheld in the spotless and living mirror of His image. The same idea is conveyed in the Psalms, where the saints say, `In Thy light we shall see light.' It is on this account that `he who honoureth the Son, honoureth the Father.' And rightly, for every impious word which men dare to utter against the Son is spoken also against the Father.” (Ibid)
In other words, as we have already seen that Ellen White says
“The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person." ….Here is shown the personality of the Father.” (see above)
There is only one place in Ellen White’s writings where I have found that she said specifically that the Father and the Son were of the ‘same substance’. This was also with reference (as did Alexander) to the time that Jesus said, “I and my Father are one”.
“With what firmness and power he uttered these words. The Jews had never before heard such words from human lips, and a convicting influence attended them; for it seemed that divinity flashed through humanity as Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." The words of Christ were full of deep meaning as he put forth the claim that he and the Father were of one substance, possessing the same attributes. The Jews understood his meaning, there was no reason why they should misunderstand, and they took up stones to stone him. Jesus looked upon them calmly and unshrinkingly, and said, "Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of these works do ye stone me?" (Ellen G. White Signs of the Times 20th November 1893, ‘The True Sheep Respond to the Voice of the Shepherd’)
Notice here that Ellen White made it clear that when Jesus said that He and His Father were ‘one’, He was referring to one in “attributes”.
We were also told in 1898 (which was the same year that ‘The Desire of Ages’ was published)
“In Christ is gathered all the glory of the Father. In Him is all the fulness of the Godhead. He is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God are expressed in His character.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times 24th November 1898 ‘The Great Salvation’, see also Christ’s Object Lessons page 115 ‘The Pearl’ 1900)
Here we can see that Ellen White says that the attributes of God are expressed in the “character” of the Son thus it was in His divine nature that He was the express image of God.
As Ellen White also said in 1887 with reference to Philippians 2:5-8
“The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us his two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." He was "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person."
Now, of the human: "He was made in the likeness of man: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death." (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald 5th July 1887 ‘Christ Man’s Example, see also Review and Herald 4th September 1900’)
Here we can see confirmation that the Son of God, in His divine nature (in His pre-existence), was the express image of God’s person (inner being/substance).
The Son not the Father but the express image
The Son of God must never be confused with God the Father.
In the 5th Volume of the Testimonies to the church, Ellen White penned these words
“When Philip came to Jesus with the request, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," the Saviour answered him: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (Ellen G. White, 5th Volume Testimonies, page 739, ‘The character of God revealed in Christ’)
She then added
“Christ declares Himself to be sent into the world as a representative of the Father. In His nobility of character, in His mercy and tender pity, in His love and goodness, He stands before us as the embodiment of divine perfection, the image of the invisible God.” (Ibid)
This “invisible God” is obviously the Father. Christ said Ellen White, in harmony with the Scriptures, is the “image” of Him.
In ‘The Desire of Ages’ Ellen White wrote (again this was with respect to Philip asking Jesus to show the disciples the Father)
“Amazed at his [Philip’s] dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained surprise, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?" Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? "How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 663, ‘Let not your heart be troubled’)
Ellen White then added
“Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.” (Ibid)
Again with respect to Philip’s request Ellen White wrote
“He [Philip] wished Christ to reveal the Father in bodily form; but God had already revealed himself in Christ. The doubt was answered by words of reproof. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" Christ said. Is it possible that after walking with me, hearing my words, seeing my miracle of feeding the five thousand, of healing the sick of the dread leprosy, of raising Lazarus, whose body had seen corruption, and who was indeed a prey to death, you do not know me? Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works which he does through me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? "How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." I am the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person. "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."
Ellen White continued
“Christ emphatically impressed on the disciples the fact that they could see the Father by faith only. God cannot be seen in external form by any human being. Christ alone can represent the Father to humanity; and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.” (Ibid)
It is obvious that what is being said here is that God the Father has an external bodily form but fallen humanity cannot behold it. We are to see the Father by faith alone. Notice that Jesus said though, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me”.
Ellen White added later
“If the disciples had believed in this vital connection between the Father and the Son, their faith would not have forsaken them when they saw his suffering and death to save a perishing world. Christ was seeking to lead them from their low condition of faith to the higher experience they might have received had they truly realized what he was, -- God in human flesh.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 19th October 1897, ‘Words of comfort’)
A true Son
Before we close this section I have one more thought to share with you.
By some, God is often thought of as remote from any understanding of our own personal experiences but notice here what Ellen White says about the fact that God did give His Son.
She wrote in Patriarchs and Prophets
“The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.” (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets page 63, 1890, ‘The Plan of Redemption’)
She then added
“Oh, the mystery of redemption! the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which "passeth knowledge"? Through endless ages immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.” (Ibid)
This brings home the reality of God giving up His only begotten Son as atonement for the sins of men. Even God struggled in letting Him go.
In the very same vein of thought, Ellen White said in early Writings
“Said the angel, "Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no." It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether to let guilty man perish, or to give His darling Son to die for them. (Ellen G. White, Early Writings page 127)
“Angels were so interested for man's salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man. "But," said my accompanying angel, "that would avail nothing." The transgression was so great that an angel's life would not pay the debt. Nothing but the death and intercession of God's Son would pay the debt and save lost man from hopeless sorrow and misery.” (Ibid)
Here again we can see that through the spirit of prophecy we are told that Christ truly is a Son. This was not make believe or metaphorical. The Son really is God’s son. If we say that this second Person of the Godhead is not truly God’s Son then we destroy the imagery of God giving Him. In fact we destroy the gospel.
We shall now go to section six. This is where we shall see that Jesus really is the divine Son of God.
In closing I would ask that if you know of others who may be interested in this study then please send them either this page or the link to this website.
As you consider this request, please remember that before He returned to His Father in Heaven, Jesus did say to His followers
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32
He also admonished each one of us to
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” Matthew 10:8
Whilst not everyone has been given the gift of healing or the gift of casting out devils, we have all been given the ability to freely share with others what God has freely shared with us. If therefore you know of someone whom you believe may benefit from this study then please consider passing it on.
Initial publication – 29th November 2007
Last edited – 1st April 2009
© T. M. Hill 2007
“When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest!" (Source unknown)
|< Prev||Next >|
Last Updated (Wednesday, 21 July 2010 06:50)