Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE WORLD OF SPIRIT.
THE WORD—LOGOS—GOD'S SON. HIS PRE-HUMAN EXISTENCE. HIS CREATION. HIS RELATION TO GOD. HIS WORK. THE GOOD ANGELS. THEIR NATURE AND WORKS. SATAN. AUTHOR OF SIN. HIS EMPIRE. RELENTLESS PERSECUTION OF OPPONENTS. HIS CUNNING. OVERTHROW OF HIS EMPIRE. HIS FINAL REBELLION AND DESTRUCTION. THE FALLEN ANGELS.
IN THE preceding chapter, in which we set forth some general thoughts on creation, we showed that there are two created worlds—that of spirit and that of matter. Both of these we purpose to treat in discussing our theme. As the world of spirit was first created, and as its subjects were used by God to bring into existence and order the world of matter, it is logical to treat first the world of spirit, which we will, accordingly, treat before we treat of the world of matter. Since God is increate because of His having always been, we of course would not treat of Him, though a Dweller in the world of spirit (John 4: 23), while discussing the world of spirit as the product of creative action. In that action He is the Creator and in no sense a creation or creature. His Son, therefore, as the pre-human Word— Logos (John 1: 1, 2)—would logically be the First One to be discussed in an article treating of God's creative works, and that especially for two reasons: (1) His being, as God's Firstborn, apart from the Father, before all other spirit beings, and (2) His being the Agent of God in bringing the rest of the world of spirit and the whole world of matter into existence. Therefore we begin our discussion of God's specific creative works with a dissertation on the pre-human Word, or Logos—our pre-human Lord.
And at this point we are met with the view of some who deny that our Lord existed before He became a
human being born of the virgin Mary. These claim that His father was Joseph and His mother was Mary; that only in the sense that other good people may be called God's children can Jesus be called a son of God, i.e., in a figurative or accommodated sense, but not in the actual sense of deriving His life principle directly from God. Those who set up such a claim do not hesitate to consider Jesus a sinner, though they usually admit that He was more successful than the average sinner in overcoming His alleged sinful propensities. This theory conflicts with the facts of Jesus' human begettal and birth, as set forth in the Bible, notably in the first chapter of Matthew and Luke. It also contradicts the explicit Scriptures that teach Jesus' sinlessness Ps. 45: 7; Heb. 1: 9; Ps. 89: 19; Is. 42: 21; 53: 9; Jer. 23: 5; Luke 1: 35; John 5: 30; 7: 18; 8: 46; 14: 30; Acts 3: 14; 4: 27, 30; 13: 35; 2 Cor. 4: 4; 5: 21; Heb. 4: 15; 7: 26-28; 9: 14; 1 Pet. 1: 19; 2: 22; 1 John 3: 5; Rev. 3: 7). But most of all it is in violent conflict with the whole plan of God, which is pivoted on the Ransom; for if Jesus were a sinner He would have needed a savior and thus, not able to save Himself, He would, of course, not be able to save others; for His sinlessness was a necessary antecedent to His bringing a Divinely acceptable propitiatory sacrifice for mankind's sin. But since He did this, He could have had no human father; since sin and its penalty are transmitted by human fathers (Rom. 5: 12, 15-19; Eph. 2: 3). Accordingly, Joseph was not Jesus' actual father, which God is, as His plan sets forth.
While the preceding paragraph proves that neither Joseph nor any other human being was Jesus' father, and also proves that God was the Father of Jesus' humanity, this latter fact of itself would not necessarily prove Jesus' pre-human existence; for God could have generated Him by Mary without His having pre-existed. Hence Jesus' pre-existence must be established by other lines of proof than His human
generation by God, though the latter fact would not be unfavorable to His pre-existence. His pre-existence is proven by direct Scripture passages which affirm it, by His identity with the archangel, Michael, and by His office work as God's special Agent in creation, providence and Old Testament revelation. We, therefore, will now proceed to the proof of our Lord's pre-human existence, and that first from the direct statements of the Bible, both in the New and in the Old Testaments.
We begin with John 1: 1-3, which we will quote according to the Improved Version, a more literal translation of the Greek and thus better than the A. V.: "In a beginning was the Word [Logos, in the Greek], and the Word was with the [supreme] God, and the Word was a god [a mighty one]. This one was in a beginning with the God. All things came into existence through Him; and apart from Him not even one thing came into existence which has come into existence." The fact that v. 3 asserts that the Word [the pre-human Christ] was the Agent through whom all creation came into existence, proves that He existed before His birth from Mary. This fact further proves that the expression, "in a beginning," in vs. 1, 2, refers to a time previous to that beginning in which the heavens and earth were created (Gen. 1: 1). The beginning of John 1: 1, 2, therefore, predates even that beginning in which were made the angels, who were made before the heavens and earth, since they praised God when they witnessed creation coming into existence (Job 38: 7), and who doubtless assisted the Word (Logos, in the Greek) in bringing creation into existence. The expression, "the Word [Logos] was a god" (so the Greek), likewise implies our Lord's preexistence; for it defines Him as existing as a spirit before He became human. This is manifest from the fact that all the orders of spirit beings below God are over 200 times in the Bible called gods. Again, His
being spoken of as being with God in that first of all beginnings (v. 2) proves His pre-existence. There are other matters in these verses on which we will comment when treating of our Lord's relation to the Father. But the points in these verses above noted prove His pre-existence.
Of all Biblical writers St. John stresses our Lord's pre-existence the most, and that to refute certain Jewish and other false views on that subject, some prevalent in his day, and some shortly to arise. For this reason we will make a larger use of St. John's pertinent testimonies than those of other Biblical writers. John 1: 14 is to the point: "The Logos became flesh," i.e., the Logos became human. Here our Lord's carnation is set forth. From a spirit being next in rank and nature to the Father He became a human being. The change of nature from that of a spirit to a human being is here taught. Please notice that the text does not say that He remained what He was before and added another nature to that which He had before and as a consequence existed henceforth in two natures the pre-human and the human; but it says that He was translated from the one into the other, so that He ceased being a spirit being when He became a human being. This is illustrated by His changing, at the wedding feast at Cana, the water into wine. In this miracle the water did not remain water with wine added, so that there were two substances as a result of the miracle; but the water was transubstantiated into wine and thus was wine and ceased to be water. Thus at His carnation the pre-human Logos ceased being a spirit and became a human being—"the Logos became flesh." This change of nature— His carnation—implies that He existed previously to His becoming a human being.
In John 17 there is a testimony to our Lord's preexistence. In v. 5 Jesus prays thus: "Glorify Me with the glory that I had with thee before the world was." Here Jesus says that He had been previously with the
Father, just as St. John 1: 1, 2 says of Him. Jesus further shows when this was—"before the world was"—before the creation of the universe, i.e., before that beginning when the heavens and earth were made (Gen. 1: 1). The glory that He then enjoyed was one of mode of existence (that of a spirit) and of position or office; for He was then a spirit being and God's Vicegerent, empowered to act as God's special Agent in creation. He left that mode of existence and office to become a man; and after finishing His earthly mission He here prays to be restored to His former mode of existence as a spirit and to His former office as God's Vicegerent. Modestly He does not mention that there would be an exaltation, both in the mode of existence and position, i.e., that while receiving again the mode of existence of a spirit, it would be in a higher nature—the Divine nature—and that while receiving again vicegerency for God, it would be with greatly added powers, which proves Jesus' pre-existence.
John 3: 13 teaches this thought: "No man hath ascended into heaven, except He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man." The direct statement in the second clause of this verse proves that our Lord lived in heaven before He came to live on earth; and this verse also proves that up to that time He was the only human being who had ever been in the heaven of God's abode. The run of thought in the connection of v. 13 proves the same thing; for Jesus had been speaking of heavenly things, which Nicodemus could not understand. Jesus, therefore, assures him that he would have to accept Jesus' teachings as of a qualified witness who spoke of what he had seen (v. 11), i.e., in His pre-human condition, when He lived in heaven. And as an evidence that He had seen them Jesus in v. 13 shows that He had previously lived in heaven and that up to that time no other human being had so done. Accordingly, this verse proves His pre-existence. V. 17 contains another reference to Jesus' having previously
lived in heaven, whence He had been sent by God to the earth, when He became human: "God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." So, too, v. 31 proves the same thought: "He [Jesus] that cometh from above [heaven] is above all … He that cometh from heaven is above all." This passage shows that the Word formerly dwelt in heaven, where He saw heavenly things, of which the next verse teaches that He gave a true testimony.
John 10: 36 also gives a testimony on this point: "Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified [set apart from the other spirit beings in heaven] and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest?" The expression, to sanctify and send into the world, implies several things: First, He must have existed before He was sent into the world, else He could not have been sent into it at all. Moreover, He was separated, set apart ("sanctified") from the other spirit beings, who were not honored with being sent into the world, with the mission with which He was honored, in order to fulfill which He came into this world, for which He was set apart and sent. These considerations show that He existed before He came into the world. John 6: 38, 51, 58, 61, 62 discuss in some detail this subject: "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me." Here, again, our Savior speaks of His having lived in heaven with God before He came to earth. He shows that His coming was not on His own initiative or to do things for self-gratification, but to do the things that God had given Him to perform. Again (v. 51), "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." Here Jesus shows that He formerly lived in heaven, whence He came as food to save the dying race from death, by giving Himself in His perfect humanity, His right to life and His life-rights, as the real food, keeping people in life forever. Had He not come from heaven (had
He not a pre-human life, which became the seed, fructifying the ovum in the virgin, instead of the seed of a human male) He could not have become the living bread; for with a human father He himself would have had need of the living bread and thus could not have supplied it to others. V. 58 reads much like it and gives the same thought on His pre-existence: "This [One, Himself] is the bread which came down from heaven." These sayings of our Lord offended the Jews and some of His disciples and to answer them effectually He asks them what they would think of His ascending to that place [heaven] where He was before He came to earth. "Doth this offend [stumble] you?" How would you then bear it "if ye should see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?—before He descended from heaven?
In John 8: 14, 23, 42-58, we find our Lord witnessing to the same truth. When the Pharisees accused our Lord of bearing false witness, because He witnessed of Himself, they were guilty of sophistry; for certainly a truthful person's witness of himself is to be accepted. Jesus, therefore, refutes their argument by giving proof of His trustworthiness in the following words: "Though I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know whence I came and whither I go." Here He refers to His past personal existence and to the office that He held in the past and to His future nature and to His future office. "I know whence I came," i.e., I know that I existed as a spirit being next to the Father and was then His Vicegerent and came from such a nature and office into this world. "I know … whither I go," i.e., I know that I will be exalted to the Divine nature and will be seated at the Father's right hand as His plenipotential Vicegerent. Jesus' argument, therefore, was this: He being a person and official next to God, certainly His witness, whether of Himself or of any other person or of any thing or of any principle, was credible. Were He not
credible; God would not have used Him as He had, nor would He use Him as He was going to use Him. Thus in this passage Jesus appeals to His pre-human existence and office, as well as to His future existence and office, as a proof of His veracity, which, of course, proves His pre-existence. He adds further confirmation on His pre-existence in v. 23. The Pharisees still disputing with Him, He says: "Ye are from beneath; I am from above. Ye are of this world; I am not of this world." Here Jesus contrasts the origin of the Pharisees as being of this earth with His own as being of heaven, which implies His pre-existence. He further in this passage contrasts the character of their origin with the character of His origin: Their origin was of such a kind as to make them subject to, and harmonious with the present evil order of affairs, in which Satan is ruler. His origin was of such a kind as to make Him not subject to, nor harmonious with the present evil order of affairs, in which Satan is ruler. Thus we infer Jesus' pre-existence and heavenly abode.
Jesus continues in argument with the Pharisees, affirming His pre-existence in v. 42. When the Pharisees in
v. 41 affirmed that they were God's children Jesus denied it on the ground that they did not love Him, while God's children would love Him, because He did not only have God as His Father, but came forth from the Father and entered the world as the Father's special Messenger: "If God were your Father, ye would love Me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me." This shows that before He came into the world He had been with the Father, which, of course, proves His pre-human existence. Still continuing His discussion with the Pharisees (vs. 56-58) Jesus said: "Abraham rejoiced that he might see My day; and he saw it and was glad." This statement of Jesus has several meanings, all of which are true. Abraham saw Jesus' day in the first place in the sense of witnessing
Him in His activities as God's Logos giving Old Testament revelations in the Patriarchal day. First of all, this doubtless refers (1) to the Logos' appearing as God's special Messenger with two other angels to Abraham at Mamre, announcing first Isaac's birth, and then, after the two angels went away to Sodom, announcing Sodom's destruction (Gen. 18: 1-33); and (2) to the Logos' announcing as God's mouthpiece the Oath-bound Covenant to Abraham and to his seed (Gen. 22: 11-18). In the second place, this statement doubtless also refers to Abraham's looking forward (Heb. 11: 9, 10, 13-16) to the day of Christ, when He would bless all nations by His Millennial reign. Here, again, in the first set of thoughts we have our Lord's pre-human existence taught, as in the second line of thought His post-human existence is taught. The Pharisees caught only a glimmering of the first of the above lines of thought and cried out, "Thou art not yet 50 years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" Then Jesus gave a reply which affirmed that He had existed before Abraham and had ever since continued to exist "Before Abraham was, I am." Please notice the expression, "I am"—present tense. Why this? The expression is a Hebrew idiom and is used to express a non-terminated existence, i.e., the existence that Jesus as the Logos had before Abraham lived had never up to the time of His speaking in this text come to an end, which proves that when the Logos became flesh He did not die while undergoing the transfer from a spirit to the human plane of existence. Without dying the one person exchanged one nature for the other and lived continuously amid the change. This passage proves Jesus' pre-human existence.
John 16: 28 by 'its contrasts likewise proves our Lord's pre-existence: "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; again, I leave the world and go to the Father." Noteworthy are the double contrasts of this verse. I came "into the world" and
"I leave the world." "I came forth from the Father" and "I go to the Father." His being in the world is the condition midway between two other conditions:
(1) the one, that in which He was before He came into the world, the other, that in which He would be after He would leave the world. And both of these conditions, separated from each other by the condition in which He was while in the world, would be in association with the Father. Most cogently, does this prove His pre-human and his post-human condition. By several of its statements 1 John 4: 9 also proves our Lord's pre-human existence: "By this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." Do the Scriptures contradict themselves when they say that Jesus is the only begotten of God and yet say that God's Gospel-Age sons are all begotten by God? We answer, No. These passages are harmonized as follows: Jesus was God's only directly begotten Son. All other sons of God—those on the angelic plane (Job. 38: 7), those on the human plane (Luke 3: 38) and those on the Divine plane (1 John 3: 1), except Jesus, have been indirectly begotten by God, i.e., by the agency of our Lord (Col. 1: 16). Hence the expression, only begotten, refers primarily to our Lord's coming into existence before all the rest of creation, which expression, therefore, proves His pre-human existence. This verse says that the Father sent Him into the world, which implies His existence before such sending, as in the case of several other verses already considered. Jesus' statement (Luke 10: 18) that He had seen Satan as lightning fall from heaven refers to an experience of His that occurred a little while after Satan brought Adam and Eve under the dominion of sin. This proves our Lord's preexistence.
Certainly, 2 Cor. 8: 9 proves our Lord's pre-existence when it says that "He who was rich [in nature,
office, honor] became poor" by becoming a human being. If His becoming a human being made Him poor who before was rich, He must have existed before He became poor, if before that He was rich. Col. 1: 15, 17, in calling Him "the firstborn of every creature" and in saying that He was before all [other] things [the Father excepted, of course], likewise proves His pre-existence. Phil. 2: 6, 7, in showing that, while He existed in God's form [mode of existence, i.e., as a spirit], He did not grasp at equality with God [A.R V., as Satan did—Is. 14: 13, 14], but rather emptied Himself [of His pre-human nature, office and honor], by taking the form of a servant [without His former office and honor of rulership] and by becoming in the likeness of men [becoming of a lower nature, even human nature], conclusively proves His pre-human existence. This same thought is forcibly taught in Heb. 2: 14, 16, where the Apostle assures us that He did not stoop simply to angelic nature, but went down to a plane of being lower than the angelic plane, even to the human plane, when He left His pre-human nature and laid hold of a lower nature. Such a course implies His pre-human existence. Certainly, St. Paul's expression, yesterday, in Heb. 13: 8 ("Jesus Christ, the same [person] yesterday [the Jewish Age], today [this Age] and forever") proves His pre-existence.
There is, among others, a celebrated passage in the Old Testament which teaches our Lord's pre-human existence. We refer to Prov. 8: 22-30, where, under the figure of Wisdom, our Lord is presented as having been with the Father long before other persons or things were brought into existence: "The Lord possessed Me in [literally, as] the beginning of His [creative] way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting [literally, before an age], from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains
were settled, before the hills was I brought forth while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when He gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him."
The passage becomes plain as applicable to our Lord when we remember that He, in 1 Cor. 1: 24, is called the wisdom of God, and in Col. 2: 3 all the treasures of wisdom are spoken of as hidden, centered, in Him, i.e., the expression and personification of God's wisdom, whence his pre-human name of Logos. The passage teaches His pre-existence.
In calling our Lord the firstborn of every creature (Col. 1: 15), the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3: 14), God's firstborn (Ps. 89: 27), God's only begotten son (John 3: 16; 1 John 4: 9), the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last [of God's direct creation] (Rev. 1: 11, 17; 2: 8), the Bible most clearly proves His pre-existence. In ascribing the work of creation to Him as God's Agent therein, as is done in Gem 1: 26 ("Let us [God and the Logos] make man in our image and after our likeness, etc."), in Heb. 1: 10-12 ("Thou, Lord, in a [so the Greek] beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thine hands. They shall perish; but Thou remainest … Thou art the same [person] and Thy years shall not fail"), in Col. 1: 16 ("By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, … all things were created by Him and for Him") and in John 1: 3 ("All things were made by Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made"), the Bible definitely
implies His pre-human existence. Also by identifying Him with Michael, the Archangel (Dan. 10: 13, 21; Jude 9, compare with 1 Thes. 4: 16; Dan. 12: 1; Rev. 12: 7), the Scriptures teach our Lord's pre-existence. And, finally, His giving Old Testament revelations to the patriarchs (Gen. 22: 11-18), to Moses (Ex. 3: 2 -4: 17) and to the prophets (1 Pet. 1: 11) proves His pre-existence, as also do His providential acts on behalf of God's people in Old Testament times (Gen. 48: 16; Ps. 34: 7; "the" not an angel of the Lord]; Dan. 10: 13 ["the first of the chief princes," see the margin].) Certainly, the above quoted and cited numerous Scriptures and Scriptural considerations give us an abundance of evidence in support of our faith in the fact that our Lord did not first come into existence when He was begotten in and born from Mary, but that He had previously existed and then emptied Himself of His pre-human nature, honor, office and riches that by becoming a perfect and sinless human being He might become God's Agent in the redemption of the human family, the Conqueror of sin, death, hell and the devil and the Introducer of righteousness, truth, life and eternal joy.
Having above proven the fact of our Lord's pre-human existence, we now proceed to treat of His coming into existence; for the Scriptures are quite explicit on the fact that He came into existence through a creative act of God. This is most explicitly stated in Col. 1: 15: He is "the firstborn of every creature [or, of all creation]," either translation being grammatically and etymologically correct. Two things in this verse show that Jesus had a beginning and that He was created. First, in that it implies that He is a creature it affirms the proposition that He came into existence by a creative act; for the rule of Greek Grammar on the partitive genitive proves this, because the construction, firstborn of every creature, or all creation, is in Greek Grammar called the partitive genitive, i.e.,
that genitive which contains as a part of its contents the thing or things mentioned in the noun that governs the genitive. The expression, "the firstborn of every creature," being in the Greek a partitive genitive, it includes as a part of itself the thing implied in the noun that governs it, viz., firstborn. It, therefore, implies that this firstborn one is a part of creation and, therefore, was created and thus had a beginning. Secondly, His being called the firstborn of every creature, or of all creation, proves that He came into existence by a creative act, just as surely as those who are the after born of creation came into existence by a creative act.
Equally strong on this point is Rev. 3: 14, which calls Him "the beginning of the creation of God." Please note that this passage does not call our Lord the beginner of the creation of God; for such a twist would not only be a mistranslation, but would contradict the second part of the expression, "of the creation of God"; for if, as this expression proves, the creative act is God's, God must at least have begun it alone; hence the Son of God did not begin it. The proper translation, "the beginning of the creation of God," as found in the Authorized Version, proves that God started the creative work by bringing the Logos, God's firstborn, into existence. This, then, proves that the Logos, as a created being, is a part of creation and, therefore, was both created and hence had a beginning.
Ps. 89: 27 contains another proof to the point: "Also I will make Him, My firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." The expression, firstborn, implies a bringing into existence and, therefore, a beginning, just as much as does the expression after born. Undoubtedly in this passage God is the speaker and Christ is the one spoken of, who, of course, is the firstborn of God, the later born ones of God including angels (Job 38: 7), Adam and Eve (Luke 3: 38) and God's Gospel-Age children (John 1: 12; 3: 3, 5). A similar proof is given by Heb. 1: 6, where our Lord is
passages also prove that God created Christ, brought Him to birth.
The expression, only begotten Son, as we find it in John 3: 16, also proves this thought: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The fact that He was begotten proves that our Lord was a creation of God; and the further fact that He is called the only begotten Son proves the same thing; for the word son implies either a direct or an indirect act of creation As applied to Christ it evidently applies to a direct creative act of God—one exercised by God alone, without the assistance of any other agency. Inasmuch as God created everything else indirectly, i.e., through the Logos' agency (John 1: 3), it is with propriety that our Lord, as the Logos, is called the only begotten. This thought is further confirmed by both readings of John 1: 18: "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son [an only begotten God, is the reading of some of the best MSS. See John 1: 1, 2, and our remarks on it in the preceding portion of this chapter], which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [made explanations on] Him" (John 1: 18). Whether we accept the unbracketed or the bracketed reading of this verse it makes little difference in the sense, because the only begotten Son is an only begotten God, a mighty one, mightier than any of the other gods, the Father excepted, and because an only begotten God would be the only begotten Son of God. In either case the passage shows our Lord's pre-human creation by God and proves that He had a beginning. The same proof is given by the expression, only begotten, in John 1: 14; 1 John 4: 9; for to be begotten implies a beginning and a coming into existence.
There are several passages in the book of Revelation that belong here. One of these is in Rev. 1: 11:
These two sets of expressions are synonymous, because alpha is the first, and omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet [alpha-beta]. These expressions are used of Jehovah (Is. 41: 4; 44: 6; 48: 12; Rev. 1: 8); and they are also used of our Lord (Rev. 1: 11, 17; 2: 8; 22: 13). In the set of four passages referring to Jehovah as the First and the Last, the three from Isaiah use the expression, "I am the First and the Last," while the one from Revelation uses the expressions, "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End." Of the four passages cited as referring to our Lord, the first is quoted in the second sentence of this paragraph, the second and third omit the expression, Alpha and Omega, but use the expression, "the First and the Last," while the last one uses all three of the pertinent expressions: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." Accordingly, we see that the four passages referring to God combinedly use all three expressions and the four passages referring to Christ combinedly use all three expressions. In other words, the Bible uses all three of these expressions of both God and Christ.
There are some who hold that these three expressions mean the eternity of the Father and of the Son. But this is evidently not the case of them with reference to the Son, since we have seen that He was created or begotten and had a beginning; hence He could not have existed from eternity. Nor can they refer especially to the Father's being from eternity, which, as a matter of fact, He is, since that would be incompatible with their being used of the Son, who is not from eternity. Rather, these expressions should in consistency be given such a sense as would make them apply to both. The following, we believe, gives us a definition that up to a certain stage uses the expressions similarly: Each is the first and last of His peculiar kind: God is the first and last of His peculiar
increate, i.e., never to have been created; and the Son is the first and last of His peculiar kind, in that He is the first and last to have been directly created by God, all other creatures having been indirectly created by God, i.e., through the agency of the Logos. Thus the Father and the Son are both unique—which is the meaning of these three expressions—but each of them is unique in a different sense: The Father is unique in that He is the only—the first and last—Being never created; and the Son is unique in that He is the only—the first and last—Being ever directly created by God without the intervention of an agent, which creative intervention by the Logos occurred in the case of every other creature. Thus Jehovah is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of increation—the only Being who never was created; and thus the Logos is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of God's direct creation. In other words, these terms used with reference to the Son are equivalent to His being called, "the Only Begotten of the Father" (John 1: 14, 18; 3: 16, 18; 1 John 4: 9); while their use with reference to the Father implies that He is from eternity, though not directly teaching it, the direct teaching being His uniqueness in that He never was created or begotten, as was the Son.
The fact above proven, that the Logos was created or begotten and had a beginning, brings up the subject of His relation to the Father. On this subject the marvelous Biblical harmony has been much beclouded by Satan (2 Cor. 4: 4) early in the night—fall of the Dark Ages, especially by his teaching three gross errors on the subject; that the Son is co-eternal, consubstantial and co-equal with the Father. There is no Scripture that teaches any one of these three thoughts, but there are many Scriptures and facts that contradict every one of them. The fact that He is the Son of
God proves that His existence could not be without a beginning; for sonship implies one's coming into existence through begettal from a father. Again, a father has to exist before a son, in order to beget him; for no son is as old as his father, i.e., begins to exist as soon as his father. God's being the Logos' Father implies that He antedates the Logos; and, therefore, the Logos is not co-eternal with the Father. Every one of the above quoted passages that prove that the Logos was created, was begotten, had a beginning, was Jehovah's firstborn, was Jehovah's only begotten Son, disproves the thought that He is co-eternal with the Father. Certainly it was a piece of hocus-pocus beclouding men's reasoning powers, when Satan enchanted people into believing that a son is as old as his father, existed as soon as his father, was begotten and created and yet had no beginning, was a father's firstborn and yet never came into existence, but always existed. Note the expression in Prov. 8: 22, 23, as given in the Improved Version: "The Lord possessed [acquired] Me, as the beginning of His [creative] way, before His subsequent works. I was set up [created] before an Age [the first Age of God's plan followed the fall into sin], before a beginning [Gen. 1: 1], before the earth." These verses prove that He was created before anything else was created; but their teaching that He was created implies, that He had a beginning and hence was not from eternity. Please note v. 30, as it is given in the Imp. Ver. "I was with Him while being brought up." Here the Logos' development under Jehovah's training is set forth. Such a training at Jehovah's hands would have been impossible had He been coeternal, consubstantial and co-equal with Jehovah.
Those who teach that the Son is co-eternal with the Father are in great difficulty to find Scriptural passages and facts on this subject. They quote especially three passages on this point: (1) Ps. 2: 7: "Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee." They stress
he words this day as meaning eternity, as an alleged proof that our Lord is eternal. To this we reply: The expression begotten, used of Him here, proves the reverse, i.e., that He has a beginning, hence is not eternal. Moreover, St. Paul three times quotes this passage (Acts 13: 33; Heb. 1: 5; 5: 5), to prove of Christ, as the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1: 18; Rev. 1: 5), His resurrection. Hence the expression this day refers to the Gospel Age, not to the eternity that was before the world was. Small comfort do they get from this passage who hold that it proves that our Lord was without a beginning! A second passage that they use is Heb. 13: 8: "Jesus Christ, the same [person] yesterday, today and forever." Here, again, they are unfortunate; for the word yesterday, which they claim teaches our Lord's past eternity, contradicts the idea of duration without a beginning; for a yesterday is a day before a present day. But a day has a beginning; so has a yesterday; hence a yesterday cannot mean duration without a beginning. The days of this passage are evidently ages, as is proved by the Greek expression for forever which in this passage is rendered literally for the ages. Hence we understand the expression today in this verse to mean the Gospel Age, in which we are now living and which is called a day (Acts 13: 33; Heb. 3: 13, 17); and the word yesterday we understand to mean the Jewish Age, which is called a day (Is. 65: 2; Rom. 10: 21), as the Day or Age before the Gospel Day or Age. Accordingly, this passage proves that the Logos existed during the Jewish Age, but proves nothing as to His existing before that time. Hence it does not prove that He was without a beginning, i.e., was from eternity.
The third passage that is by some quoted to prove that our Lord is without a beginning is John 10: 30: "I and My father are one." In reply we say that the word eternity is neither used here nor implied. The expression does not mean that the Father and Son are
one person, as some hold; for the Greek word for person— hypostasis—is feminine, and if one person were here meant the feminine form (mia) for the Greek word for one would have been here used and not hen, the neuter form, which is here used. The same reason proves that the expression does not mean one being, as some others hold; because the Greek word for being is ousia, which is also feminine and would, therefore, require the Greek word for one to take the feminine form (mia) here. The neuter form hen here used requires us, according to Greek Grammar, to supply a neuter noun as agreeing with the neuter hen; some neuter word like spirit—pneuma—evidently must be here supplied; for it is in spirit, disposition, purpose, work, that the Father and the Son are one. But such a word supplied would not teach that the Logos is as old as the Father, any more than the fact that twelve apostles are one (hen), and the fact that the rest of the Lord's people are one (hen; John 17: 11, 21, 23) prove that the Lord's people are from eternity and that each one of them is as old as the other. Certainly a theory that is forced to limit its quotations to Ps. 2: 7; Heb. 13: 8 and John 10: 30, to prove that our Lord is from eternity, is hard pressed for Biblical proof and is hard hit by its own alleged proof texts! Nor can they cite one Scriptural fact that proves their thought. Especially do they cite two facts as alleged proofs that He is without beginning, is from eternity, i.e., that He was begotten and that He existed before His carnation. In reply we say that the fact of His begettal before the worlds were made, while proving His pre-existence, disproves that He was without beginning—from eternity—for to be begotten implies a beginning of existence. Hence this fact disproves the thing that it is adduced to prove. Nor does the fact that our Lord pre-existed prove Him to have been without a beginning, any more than the fact that the angels existed before Christ's carnation