DEAR M.:—In our last we found that, according to the Scriptures, there is one God only. Naturally you ask, "Then who or what is Jesus?" So much mystery has been thrown around his nature that it is no wonder that he is indeed "a mystery" to many. But does not the Bible speak of him in a very peculiar manner; and are not his own sayings about himself very dark, and difficult to understand? Yes, to some they are probably very dark.
Have you ever stood near a group of foreigners talking (all together, as we sometimes do) in a language you did not understand a single word of? You have noticed their manner,—now grave, then gay; now seemingly angry in their earnestness, then suddenly all seized with convulsive laughter. How strange it all seemed to you; though to one of their own people standing by, there might be nothing strange about it.
Many have never learned God's language. It has been too much trouble; or they had not time to learn it, they were too anxious to make money or to enjoy this life; so "it is all Greek" to them. Our citizenship is of the Heavenly Kingdom (See Phil. 3:20; Heb. 11:13-16; Eph. 2:19—Revised Version.), therefore we should be diligent to learn its language.
If we study God's Word faithfully, earnestly asking that his spirit may enlighten the eyes of our understanding, we shall learn his language, and his Word will no longer be "a sealed book" to us.—Isa. 29:9-14.
This is the way our Lord Jesus asked the Pharisees their official opinion concerning the promised Messiah. They answered correctly, in the language of the Scripture: "The Son of David." Then he showed them that David called him "Lord," and asked them again. "If David then called him Lord, how is he his Son?"
Whose son is he? He had been announced as the son of David, and heir to David's throne, Luke 1:32: As the seed of Abraham and heir of the world, Gal. 3:16; Rom. 4:13: As the seed of the woman [Eve], who was to crush the head of their deceiver,—bringing deliverance to the race.—Gen. 3:15.
The Jews might have partly understood this, knowing that Eve was the mother of all the human race, that David was a descendant of Abraham, that the promised Messiah [or Christ] would be a descendant of David, and that he would take the kingdom of Israel [David's throne], and subdue and rule the world with it.
But it was also written that the Christ was the Root of David's family (Isa. 11:10), as well as the Branch. (Jer. 23:5-6.) After David's Genealogical Tree had apparently been cut down and dried up and dead, new life was to enter one of the roots (Isa. 11:1), and it was to bud and blossom and fill the world with fruit.—Isa. 27:6.
Stranger things than these were written of this Wonderful One. Moses foresaw him as a prophet; and, like himself, as a leader; in a greater deliverance than the coming out of Egypt. (Deut. 18:15-19; Jer. 16:14-15.) Again, he was seen as a priest; and—like Melchisedec (Heb. 7:1)—as a royal priest; a priest upon a throne. (Zech. 6:12-13.) He was to be a king (Isa. 32:1), yet he would be born in a manger (Luke 2:12) and would come as one of the humblest of earth.—Zech. 9:9.
Tired, weary and asleep, yet rising to subdue the winds and the waves of the raging storm.—Luke 8:24.
Rich, yet for our sakes becoming poor; that we through his poverty might be made rich.—2 Cor. 8:9.
Innocent, yet wounded for our transgressions, that through his stripes we might be healed.—Isa. 53:5.
To blind bigots he was without form or comeliness [good looks], (Isa. 53:2) but to those whose eyes are opened he becomes "the chiefest among ten thousand" and "altogether lovely."—Solomon's Song 5:10,16.
Surely we are ready to cry out, "What manner of man is this?" Was he a man? He was certainly no common man like the rest of mankind. Try to compare him with the greatest men the world has seen, and you find you cannot. They were not enough like him to compare with him. He is beyond comparison. The most famous of earth's heroes have been its warriors: Such men as Alexander, Julius Caesar and Bonaparte. They were called great men because very successful, but their success was through the slaughter of millions of their fellow men who had as much right to life as they had. But here is a hero who refused the honors of men (John 6:15) and who instead of taking life, actually yielded up his own; that he might enjoy the pleasure of bringing back to life and joy and peace the untold millions whom the tyrants of earth have ground down to degradation and death. "Greater love hath no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Jesus died for his enemies.
If Jesus was not God, nor a common man, what was he? He nearly always spoke of himself as, the Son of man. In a few instances he acknowledged the title the Son of God. Was he both, a Son of man and a Son of God? Yes. Was he therefore both God and man? No.
I think you are puzzled now. Well, God's Word contains wonderful mysteries and strange secrets. But Jesus said to his disciples "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [unbelievers] it is not given."—Matt. 13:11. Read also, Psa. 25:14; Amos 3:7.
God's Word explains many mysteries, and his faithful servants who study his Word are not in darkness (1 Thes. 5:4-8), as the worldly are.—1 John 2:11.
"Oh how I love thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Thy commandments make me wiser
than mine enemies:
I have more understanding than all my
For thy testimonies are my meditations.
I understand more than the aged,
Because I have kept thy precepts."
Let his prayer also be yours:—
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold
Wondrous things out of thy law."
Read carefully what Paul said to Timothy. 2 Tim. 3:14-17.
Now let us turn to God's Word with confidence that he will reveal even this mystery to us. In John, chap. 17, Jesus speaks clearly of God as his Father; of having been sent by his Father to the world; and of having been in glory with his Father before the world existed. This carries us a long way back into the past, but John goes further. He tells us that not only "the world was made by him," but "without him was not anything made that has been made."—John 1:3.
Paul makes it still clearer in Col. 1:15-18, saying;—"In him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible [to us];...and he is before all things.
You are ready to say: "If before all things, and if all things were made by him, would it not prove that he was eternal, and not created? In other words, that as he made all things, therefore he was not made; and if not made, then he must be an uncreated or self existant God?" Well, if there were no other scriptures on the subject it would look as if John and Paul meant that; and this is the argument of Trinitarians, and a very plausible one. But we have no right to select texts to support one side of a seeming argument, and ignore or set aside other scriptures which overthrow our pet theories. We have seen that our Lord Jesus is not the Lord Jehovah, and Jehovah has said clearly and repeatedly that there is only one God, and that he is that one. We will not discuss the assertion that the three Gods ("God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Ghost; as the church of Rome invented it), are one God, as it admits of no discussion, being a simple impossibility, and too absurd for reasonable people to believe.
Paul in the place last quoted from (Col. 1:15) explains what he means. He tells us that our Lord Jesus was "THE FIRSTBORN of all creation." Let us examine this very carefully, for if we understand Paul here it will make the whole subject plain. The old version reads: "The Firstborn of every creature." This is not so clear, as we might get the thought of each creature, whereas it means every created thing. Not only the human race, or all living creatures [beasts, birds, etc.] on this earth, but all angels, and all worlds are included;—the countless spheres in the starry heavens, which are probably under process of preparation for future habitation under the reign of him who is to fill and perfect all things.—Eph. 1:23.
When God began the work of creation he first made our Lord Jesus. He was not called Jesus then, neither was he a man. He was made in the highest order of created beings that we have any knowledge of. He is called "The Archangel." We do not know that there was any other "Archangel," though there were other "Princes" among the angels. The word means the first or chief angel. He was both the first created and the first or highest in rank. Just as Adam was pre-eminent among men by being the first, and therefore the life-giver to all the others, so this Archangel was pre-eminent over all and the life-giver to "all creation." He was, as he himself says, "THE BEGINNING of the creation of God." (Rev. 3:14.) But he was more. God, having created him, evidently used him as his instrument in the further work of creation. That is, God did not continue to create things himself, but he told this "Firstborn" what to do and he did it.
Now, as God created all things through Jesus Christ, God was the Creator, and his Firstborn was also the Creator; but you see that the Son was not Creator in the same way that his Father was. God gave him the necessary wisdom and power to do all these things, "For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." (Col. 1:19) Fullness here means unlimited or complete power, etc.—John 3:34-35.
This Firstborn then became the fountain from whence flowed out the life and power which both created and continues to sustain all things. Behind the Fountain was the great inexhaustible Reservoir, God.
Many of the texts applying to our Lord Jesus as Creator, Son, Firstborn, Prince, Fullness, etc., refer to him as the Head of the New Creation, of which he and the true Gospel Church—"The Church of the Firstborn"—are the "Beginning." We will study that feature in our next letter.
The old creation was in many things a picture or type of the new creation. Thus the first Adam was an image or small representation of the second Adam.—1 Cor. 15:44-50.
Abraham offering up his son (Gen. 22), and other circumstances in their history prefigured Our Father's dealing with Jesus, and with the Church. (Gal. 4:24-31.) David as a king represented Christ. So the work of the Firstborn of the old creation corresponds in some things to the work of the Firstborn of the new creation; but if we study faithfully with our Lord's help, we need not get confused, and the subject will become more and more clear and plain to us.