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in the Form of God,
[Ess. X. be equal with God. "Let this mind be in you," says the apostle Paul to the Philippians, "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; wherefore God also hath highly exalted him," &c. ii, 5-9.1 In this luminous passage, the apostle has evidently adverted to four successive stages in the history of Jesus Christ, viz.-his original glory; his reduction from that glory; his further humiliation unto the death of the cross; and his final exaltation. Now, it is indisputable that his condition of original glory was enjoyed before he made himself of no reputation, or (as the Greek more properly imports) emptied himself, or made himself void of that glory; and, from the construction of the original (more especially) it is equally clear, that this emptying of himself was accompanied by his taking upon him the form of a servant, and by his being made in the likeness of men.2 Since, then, Jesus Christ assumed the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men when he became incarnate, (for these expressions are wholly inapplicable to any other period of his history), it follows, that before his incarna
1 The Greek Text is as follows: Τοῦτο γὰρ φρονείσθω ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ὃς ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἶσα Θεῷ· ἀλλ ̓ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, μορφὴν δούλου λαβὼν, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος, έταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν, γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ· διὸ καὶ ὁ Θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσε, κ.τ.λ.
2 The original might here be more literally rendered-" He emptied himself taking the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men."
and Equal with God.
tion he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Hence we again derive the doctrine of the real divinity of Christ preexistent; for whether we understand the declaration that he was in the form of God, as conveying the notion that he displayed the characteristic attributes of deity; or more simply as importing, that he subsisted in the divine nature, (for the word rendered "form,” sometimes denotes the nature of a thing)—it is in either case a necessary inference, that he was truly God. So also it appears to be impossible that he should not think it robbery to be equal with God, or (as the Greek may rather be rendered) to be on an equality with God, on any other principle than that of his actually participating in the Father's Godhead. For, between God, and the most exalted of his creatures there is surely no equality, no evenness of claim on the worship of men and angels; but rather a determined, unalterable, infinite, disparity.*
* I apprehend that the word uógon would be best rendered in this passage, "nature." Schleusner (in voc.) explains it as here signifying ipsa natura et essentia; a sense which he considers this substantive sometimes to adopt in classical Greek. Thus Plato says of the gods, ëxaoros aùtõU μένει ἀεὶ ἁπλῶς ἐν τῇ αὑτοῦ μορφῇ, unusquisque eorum simpliciter semper manet in propria ipsius natura: De Rep. The ancient Greek phi losophers taught that the puois or ouoia-the nature or being of a thing -consisted first of its λ (substance), and secondly of its sidog or μόρφη (form), and that the latter was its end or perfection—réλos, ¿vTeXÉKEIα: see Aristotel. Natural, Auscult. lib. iii, sect. 8, ed. Paris, 1629, vol. i, p. 337. De Animâ, lib. ii, cap. 1, vol. i, p. 630. So again, we read that the Son of God "took the form of a servant"- —an expression which appears to denote nothing less than that, when he was made flesh, he actually became a servant; for his whole human life was devoted to the service of God: and, in a less proper sense, he was also the servant of man, to whose wants he ministered. Those ancient Greek commentators, Theodoret and Theophylact, both interpret uógon in this passage as signifying ouoia, nature: in loc.
4 In rendering the words οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο, “ thought it not
The Son of God
[Ess x. III. Thirdly, Christ in his preexistence was the Son of God. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested," says the apostle John, "that he might destroy the works of the devil:" 1 John iii, 8. "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him :" iv, 9. "We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world:" 14. And in his Gospel, the same inspired writer testifies, that when the word was made flesh, his disciples beheld his glory "as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father:" i, 14. From these and other similar passages, it plainly appears, that the Person whom the Father sent into
robbery," the translators of our version have adhered literally to the original Greek; for substantives ending in ouos or yuos are active in their signification. As ἀσπασμὸς means the action of saluting, and ἀκοντισμός the action of darting, so άgяayμds properly denotes the action of seizing, and is explained by Scapula as equivalent with ȧgrayń (in voc.) So Plutarch, De Lib. Educ. (as quoted by Wetstein)—τὸν ἐκ Κρήτης καλούμενον ȧgrayude, "That which is called the seizure out of Crete." Many critics, however, both ancient and modern, appear to understand άgrayμòs as of the same force, in this passage, with ägnaуua—res rapta, a booty seized:" in which case the words of the apostle would convey the notion that "Although Christ was in the form of God, yet he did not regard his equality with the Father, (or his being equally honoured with the Father) in the light of a booty-of a possession violently obtained, and therefore eagerly to be insisted on—but made himself of no reputation, &c." So Theodoret and Theophylact in loc. Chrysostom De Christi precibus, x, ed. Ben. tom. i, 538, Schleusner, and others. Now, although I conceive that grayuòs is incapable of a passive meaning, and therefore that the common English version of this passage is clearly the preferable one, yet I would request the reader to observe, that either of these interpretations secures the doctrine of the equality of Christ (as it relates to the divine nature) with the Father. That the passage conveys that doctrine, appears to have been the general and unhesitating opinion of the early fathers, and Greek commentators on the New Testament: see, for example, Isidorus Pel. lib. iv, 22. Cyril. Alex. in Esai. lib. iv, Orat. 4. Ed. Lutet. ii, 661. Theodoret, Theophylact, Ecumenius, and Damascenus, in loc.
One in Nature with the Father.
the world, who was then manifested in the flesh, and who (as we have already ascertained) dwelt, before his incarnation, in glory with the Father-was the Son of that Father-the Son of the Most High God. This doctrine is confirmed by the apostle Paul, who, in speaking of God's "dear Son," describes him as the "First-born, or the First-begotten, of the whole creation, Col. i, 15, Greek Text; and also by some of the ancient Israeltish prophets, who recognized the existence and authority of the same divine Person. "Kiss the Son," cried the inspired David, "lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little:" Ps. ii, 12. "Who hath ascended up into heaven or descended?" said Agur, in his prophecy; "who hath gathered the winds in his fist? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is HIS SON's name if thou canst tell?" Prov. xxx, 4.
The title, "Sons of God" is, in a subordinate sense, sometimes applied to the angels, Job. i, 6; and at other times to the righteous among men, for these are the children of God by adoption, Hos. i, 10; Rom. viii, 14; 1 John iii, 1, 2; but Christ is denominated the Son of God in a proper and preeminent sense of the terms; for it is under this very title, that he is distinguished by the apostle from the angels themselves, and from all creatures: Col, i, 13—17; Heb. i, 1-14. He is expressly denominated God's "own" Son, Rom. viii, 3, 32; comp. John v, 18; and this epithet "own," with the yet more emphatic term, "only-begotten," affords an obvious indication, that, with regard to our Saviour, the title Son of God represents a relation to the Father Almighty absolutely peculiar to Jesus Christ,-a relation to which no other being besides himself can prefer the slightest claim.
One in Nature
Now, although the particular circumstances of that mysterious relation are placed far beyond the reach of human inquiry, yet since it is ever represented by the sacred writers as an actual sonship-since Christ is denominated simply "the Son," because God is his Father; and God is denominated simply " the Father," because Christ is his Son-Luke x, 22; John i, 18; iii, 35; 1 John ii, 24; &c. it is surely no unsound or unreasonable inference, that Christ, as the true and only-begotten Son of the Father, really participates in the nature of God.
Now, these observations are confirmed by a fact -which we learn from various passages of the New Testament-namely, that the Jews considered our Lord's assertion of his Sonship as equivalent to an assumption of the divine character, and therefore as involving the crime of blasphemy. "The Jews sought the more to kill him," says the evangelist, "because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his (own) Father; 5 making himself equal with God," John v, 18; again, when Jesus declared himself to be the Son of God, and spoke of his union with the Father, they "took up stones to stone him," saying, "for a good work we stone thee not but for blasphemy, and because that thou being a man makest thyself God:" John x, 33. Lastly, it is evident that this alone was the ground on which the rulers of that infatuated people finally adjudged him to be worthy of death. When Jesus was arraigned before their council, the question which they put to him was this: "Art thou then the SON OF GOD?" and when he replied to that question in the affirmative, they cried out, "What need we any farther witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth :" Luke xxii, 70, 71. "Ye have heard the blasphemy-what think ye? 5 πατέρα ἴδιον ἔλεγε τὸν Θεὸν.