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Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Apocalypse. 245 guard it with apostolic chivalry; but also, this revelation of the Heart of God melts him into tenderness towards the race which Jesus has loved so well e. To St. John a lack of love for men seems sheer dishonour to the love of Christ. And the heresy which mutilates the Person or denies the work of Christ, does not present itself to St. John as purely speculative misfortune, as clumsy negation of fact, as barren intellectual error. Heresy is with this Apostle a crime against charity; not only because heresy breeds divisions among brethren, but yet more because it kills out from the souls of men that blessed and prolific Truth, which, when sincerely believed, cannot but fill the heart with love to God and to man. St. John writes as one whose
had looked upon
and whose hands had handled the sensibly present form of Light and Love. That close contact with the Absolute Truth Incarnate had kindled in him a holy impatience of antagonist error; that felt glow of the Infinite Charity of God had shed over his whole character and teaching the beauty and pathos of a tenderness, which, as our hearts tell us while we read his pages, is not of this world.
2. This ethical reflection of the doctrine of God manifest in the flesh is perhaps mainly characteristic of St. John's first Epistle; but it is not wanting in the Apocalypse f. The representation of the Person of our Saviour in the Apocalyse is independent of any indistinctness that may attach to the interpretation of the historical imagery of that wonderful book &. In the Apocalypse, Christ is the First and the Last; He is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the Eternal; He is the Almighty h. He possesses the seven spirits or perfections of
o i St. John iii. 16: ¿v TOÚTW &yvókauev tnv åyánny (i. e. absolute charity), ότι εκείνος υπέρ ημών την ψυχήν αυτού έθηκε και ημείς οφείλομεν υπέρ των αδελφών τας ψυχάς τιθέναι. Ιbid. iv. 9: έν τούτω εφανερώθη η αγάπη του Θεού εν ημίν, ότι τον Υιόν αυτού τον μονογενή απόσταλκεν ο Θεός εις τον κόσμον, ίνα ζήσωμεν δι' αυτού.
! On the Johannean authorship of the Apocalypse, see Alford, Gk. Test. vol. iv. pp. 198-229; Wait's remarks in the pref. to Hug's Introduction, pp. 145-177 ; Schaff, Apost. Church, ii. 89; Leathes, Witness of St. John to Christ, pp. 134, 352.
• In the Epistles to the Angels of the Seven Churches, the language used by our Lord is morally inconsistent with any conception of His Person but the highest: Rev. ii. 1-7, 8-11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21-26, 28, iii. 1-5, 7-13, 14-22. Cf. also the allusion to the òpyn Toll åpviou, vi. 16, with Ps. vi. 4, vii. 6, xxi. 9; Is. ix. 19, li. 17; Jer. iv. 8, 26, xii. 13 ; Lam. i. 12; Rom. i. 18, etc.
η Rev. 1. 8, εγώ είμι το Α και το Ω: Ιbid. ο ών, και ο ήν, και ο ερχόμενος, ο παντοκράτωρ: xxi. 6, xxii. 13, αρχή και τέλος.
Godi. He has a mysterious Name which no man knows save He Himselfi. His Name is written on the foreheads of the faithfulk; He is the giver of grace and victory! In the Apocalypse, His Name is called the Word of God m; as in the first Epistle He is the Word of Life, and in the Gospel the Word in the beginning. As He rides through heaven on His errand of triumph and of judgment, a Name is written on His vesture and on His thigh ; He is 'King of kings, and Lord of lords n.' St. John had leaned upon His breast at supper in the familiarity of trusted friendship. St. John sees Him but for a moment in His supramundane glory, and forthwith falls at His feet as dead o. In the Apocalypse especially we are confronted with the startling truth that the Lord of the unseen world is none other than the Crucified One P. The armies of heaven follow Him, clothed as He is in a vesture dipped in blood, at once the symbol of His Passion and of His victory 4. But of all the teachings of the Apocalypse on this subject, perhaps none is so full of significance as the representation of Christ in His wounded Humanity upon the throne of the Most High. The Lamb, as It had been slain, is in the very centre of the court of heaven"; He receives the prostrate adoration of the highest intelligences around the throne 8; and as the Object of that solemn, uninterrupted, awful worshipt, He is associated with the Father, as being in truth one with the Almighty, Uncreated, Supreme God u
1 Rev. iii. 1: ο έχων τα επτά πνεύματα του Θεού.
* Ιbid. iii. 12, where το όνομά μου is paralleled with το όνομα του Θεού μου, although our Lord is speaking as Man. Cf. ii. 17.
1 Ιbid. Χxii. 21, iii. 21.
• Ιbid. ver. 16: έχει επί το ιμάτιον και επί τον μηρόν αυτού το όνομα γεγραμμένον, Βασιλεύς βασιλέων και Κύριος κυρίων. Cf. 1 Τim. vi. 15.
• Ιbid. 1. 17: ότε είδον αυτόν, έπεσα προς τους πόδας αυτού ως νεκρός.
Ρ Ιbid. xii. το: η εξουσία του Χριστού. Ιbid. xiii. 8: το βιβλιον της ζωής του αρνίου του έσφαγμένου.
4 Ιbid. xix. 13, 14. Cf. Is. Ixiii. 1.
• Ιbid. ν. 8: τα τέσσαρα ζώα και οι εικοσιτέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι έπεσαν ενώπιον του 'Αρνίου. Cf. i. 1: του αγγέλου αυτού. The Angel was His property; cf. xxii. 16.
Ibid. ver. 12: άξιόν εστι το 'Αρνίον το έσφαγμένον λαβείν την δύναμιν και πλούτου και σοφίαν και ισχύν και τιμήν και δόξαν και ευλογίαν.
1 Ιbid. ν. 13: τω καθημένω επί του θρόνου και των 'Αρνίω η ευλογία και η τιμή και η δόξα και το κράτος εις τους αιώνας των αιώνων. Cf. Ιbid. xvii. 14: το 'Αρνίον νικήσει αυτούς, ότι Κύριος κυρίων εστι και Βασιλεύς βασιλέων. See
The Christ of St. John and of the Synoptists. 247
IV. Whatever, then, may have been the interval between the composition of the Apocalypse and that of the fourth Gospel, we find in the two documents one and the same doctrine, in substance if not in terms, respecting our Lord's Eternal Person; and further, this doctrine accurately corresponds with that of St. John's first Epistle. But it may be asked whether St. John, thus consistent with himself upon a point of such capital importance, is really in harmony with the teaching of the earlier Evangelists? It is granted that between St. John and the three first Gospels there is a broad difference of characteristic phraseology, of the structure, scene, and matter of the several narratives. Does this difference strike deeper still? Is the Christology of the son of Zebedee fundamentally distinct from that of his predecessors? Can we recognise the Christ of the earlier Evangelists in the Christ of St. John ?
Now it is obvious to remark that the difference between the three first Evangelists and the fourth, in their respective representations of the Person of our Lord, is in one sense, at any rate, a real difference. There is a real difference in the point of view of the writers, although the truth before them is one and the same. Each from his own stand-point, the first three Evangelists seek and pourtray separate aspects of the Human side of the Life of Jesus. They set forth His perfect Manhood in all Its regal grace and majesty, in all Its Human sympathy and beauty, in all its healing and redemptive virtue. In one Gospel Christ is the true Fulfiller of the Law, and withal, by a touching contrast, the Man of Sorrows. In another He is the Lord of Nature and the Leader of men; all seek Him; all yield to Him; He moves forward in the independence of majestic strength. In a third He is active and all-embracing Compassion; He is the Shepherd, Who goes forth as for His Life-work, to seek the sheep that was lost; He is the Good Samaritan V. Thus the obedience, the force, and the tenderness of His Humanity are successively depicted; but room is left for another aspect of His Life, differing from these and yet in harmony with them. If we may dare so to speak, the synoptists approach their great Subject from without, St. John unfolds it from within. St. John has been guided to pierce the veil of sense ; he has penetrated
also the remarkable expression Xx. 6, έσονται ιερείς του Θεού και του Χριστού, which clearly associates Christ with the Father in the highest honour which man can render to God, namely, the offering of sacrifice; xxi. 22, 23, xxii. I, 2.
Cf. Holtzmann, Die Synoptischen Evangelien.
In the eyes
far beyond the Human features, nay even beyond the Human thought and Human will of the Redeemer, into the central depths of His Eternal Personality. He sets forth the Life of our Lord and Saviour on the earth, not in any one of the aspects which belong to It as Human, but as being the consistent and adequate expression of the glory of a Divine Person, manifested to men under a visible form. The miracles described, the discourses selected, the plan of the narrative, are all in harmony with the point of view of the fourth Evangelist, and it at once explains and accounts for them.
Plainly, my brethren, two or more observers may approach the same object from different points of view, and may entirely absorbed with distinct aspects of it; and yet it does not follow that any one of these aspects is necessarily at variance with the others. Still less does it follow that one aspect alone represents the truth. Socrates does not lose his identity, because he is so much more to Plato than he is to Xenophon. Each of yourselves may be studied at the same time by the anatomist and by the psychologist. Certainly the aspect of your complex nature which the one study insists upon, is sufficiently remote from the aspect which presents itself to the other. of one observer you are purely spirit; you are thought, affection, memory, will, imagination. As he analyses you he is almost indifferent to the material body in which your higher nature is encased, upon which it has left its mark, and through which it expresses itself. But to the other observer this your material body is everything. Its veins and muscles, its pores and nerves, its colour, its proportions, its functions, absorb his whole attention. He is nervously impatient of any speculations about you which cannot be tested by his instruments. Yet is there any real ground for a petty jealousy between the one study of your nature and the other ? Is not each student a servant whom true science will own as doing her work? May not each illustrate, supplement, balance, and check the conclusions of the other Must you necessarily view yourselves as being purely mind, if you will not be persuaded that you are merely matter? Must you needs be materialists, if you will not become the most transcendental of mystics? Or will not a little physiology usefully restrain you from a fanciful supersensualism, while a study of the immaterial side of your being forbids you to listen, even for a moment, to the brutalizing suggestions of consistent materialism ? These questions admit of easy reply; each half of the truth
The title 'Son of God' in the Synoptists. 249
is practically no less than speculatively necessary to the other. Nor is it otherwise with the general relation of the first three Gospels to the fourth. Yet it should be added that the Synoptists do teach the Divine Nature of Jesus, although in the main His Sacred Manhood is most prominent in their pages. Moreover the fourth Gospel, as has been noticed, abundantly insists upon Christ's true Humanity. Had we not possessed the fourth Gospel, we should have known much less of one side of His Human Character than we actually know. For in it we see Christ engaged in earnest conflict with the worldly and unbelieving spirit of His time, while surrounded by the little company of His disciples, and devoting Himself to them even “unto the end. The aspects of our Lord's Humanity which are thus brought into prominence would have remained, comparatively speaking, in the shade, had the last Gospel not been written. But that 'symmetrical conception' of our Lord's Character, which modern critics have remarked upon, as especially distinguishing the fourth Gospel, is to be referred to the manner in which St. John lays bare the Eternal Personality of Jesus. For in It the scattered rays of glory which light up the earlier Evangelists find their point of unity. By laying such persistent stress upon Christ's Godhead, as the true seat of His Personality, the fourth Gospel is doctrinally complemental (how marvellous is the complement !) to the other three; and yet these three are so full of suggestive implications that they practically anticipate the higher teaching of the fourth.
1. For in the synoptic Gospels Christ is called the Son of God in a higher sense than the ethical or than the theocratic. In the Old Testament an anointed king or a saintly prophet is a son of God. Christ is not merely one among many sons. He is the Only, the Well-beloved Son of the Fathers. His relationship to the Father is unshared by any other, and is absolutely unique. It is indeed probable that of our Lord's contemporaries many applied to Him the title “Son of God' only as an official designation of the Messiah; while others used it to acknowledge that surpassing and perfect character which proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth to be the One Son, who had appeared on earth,
* Compare the voice from heaven at our Lord's baptism, ogrós ¿OTIV S Tiós mov åyatntos, St. Matt. iii. 17, repeated at His transfiguration (Ibid. xvii. 5); the profound sense of His question to the Pharisees, Tlvos viós έστιν; [sc. ο Χριστός] (Ibid. xxii. 41). And that as the Υιός του Θεού, Christ is superhuman, seems to be implied in the questions of the tempter (Ibid. iv. 3, 6; St. Luke iv. 3, 9).