Jesus and His Father, part 3
Aug 22, 2019
Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15-20, taken from The Emphatic Diaglott,
15 He is a likeness of the invisible God--First-born of all creation; 16 Because in Him were created all things… 17 and He precedes all things, and in Him all things have been permanently placed. 18 He is also the Head of the body of the congregation; who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that he might become preeminent among all. 19 Because in Him it was thought good that the whole fulness should dwell 20 and through Him to reconcile all things for him….
This summarizes well Paul’s theology of Christ, showing His place as the Head of the entire creation. Paul does not say that Christ was God Himself but tells us that He was in the likeness (or image) of the invisible God and was the “First-born of all creation.”
The term “First-born” is used twice in this passage. The first time (verse 15) it refers to Christ being the first among “all creation,” whereas the second time (verse 18) He is “the First-born from the dead,” that is, “the Head of the body of the congregation”—that is the NEW creation. He is both, of course, because the re-creation is based on the same laws on which the first creation was based.
Christ also “precedes all things,” establishing not only His pre-existence at the time of creation but also that He was the first One brought forth ("begotten") by the Father. I believe that when God took Eve out of Adam’s side, He revealed the manner in which Christ Himself was brought forth out of God’s own side. God saw the need for Adam to have a double witness by his side to establish all righteousness, and this law was also His first motive for bringing forth Christ.
As the First-born of all creation, He was its Head. As the First-born from the dead, He became the “preeminent” Head of the new creation as well. The law of headship not only gives the first-born authority but also makes him responsible for those under him. Hence, when Adam sinned, his sin affected all that were under his authority. Christ Himself stood above Adam, so He was not subjected to mortality; but His position of authority also made Him take responsibility for Adam’s sin. This ultimately led Him to the cross, where He redeemed all things back to Himself by paying for the sin of the world.
This process, however, has taken time, because sin was reckoned as a debt, and when men cannot pay their debts, they are sentenced to labor within a specific time frame not to exceed the year of Jubilee. Adam and those under his authority were sentenced to labor as slaves to sin for 6,000 years before their first Sabbath. Yet even then, this was only the first “week,” for after this comes an age of judgment (“lake of fire” or the “fiery law”) until the creation Jubilee after the seventh “week” (49,000 years).
The point is that Christ’s redemptive work on the cross will succeed, and the plan will not end until He has reconciled all things and the “fulness” (pleroma) again dwells in Him, as Paul says. The church as a whole has long had a much narrower and limited vision and understanding of the divine plan, primarily because, in their Bible studies, they stopped studying the laws of God.
The Deity of Christ
I have already discussed the meaning of the term “God” or “god” (elohim). While there is only one God in the sense of the Most High God and Creator of all, there are many layers of authority under Him, each of which is a “god” to those who are under authority. Hence, Moses was made a god to Pharaoh, and Jesus is likewise our God. Jesus, however, did not claim to be equal with His own God, but acknowledged the Most High God as “My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17).
When Thomas saw the resurrected Christ and was able to touch His wounds, John 20:28 says,
28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus did not rebuke him for saying this, nor was He horrified that Thomas might stray from strict monotheism. It is certain that Thomas did not suddenly receive revelation that Jesus was the “one God.” Within the context, it was understood that Thomas was not displacing Jesus’ own heavenly Father. John himself had already established the truth earlier in verse 17.
The point is that we ought to recognize the deity of Christ within the parameters set forth by Jesus and the apostles themselves. In this way we do not trample the truth of monotheism. Likewise, we read in John 1:18 (NASB),
18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
It is plain that the Creator Himself was unbegotten. Jesus is “the only begotten God,” and His position was “in the bosom of the Father.” Having been taken out of the Father’s bosom at the beginning, even as Eve was taken out of Adam’s bosom, Jesus took His rightful position when He ascended to His Father.
Some of the later manuscripts of John’s gospel were altered to read, “the only begotten Son,” and so the KJV reads in this way, as does The Emphatic Diaglott. In such disputes, I defer to Dr. Ivan Panin and his Numeric English New Testament, as he studied the numerical patterns within the text itself to determine authenticity and inspiration. He renders this verse:
18 God no one has ever seen; an only begotten, himself God, who is unto the bosom of the Father, HE has declared him.
In other words, Dr. Panin determined that it is only by retaining “God” in this verse that the numerical patterns built into the text are not disrupted. Since every letter in Greek carries a numerical value (as also with the Hebrew letters), any change of wording or spelling will produce different numerical patterns. Only the inspired text actually produces a flow of meaningful numerical patterns.
At any rate, the oldest manuscripts declare Christ to be “God” in this verse. Apparently, a later scribe decided that “God” was inappropriate and so he substituted the word “Son” to make it read according to his own theological understanding.
In my view John 1:18 refers to Christ as “the only begotten God” and can be used to establish the deity of Christ.
Returning to His Past Glory
In John 17:1 and 5 Jesus prayed,
1 … Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You… 5 And now, glorify Me together with Yourself, Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world [cosmos] was.
Jesus here affirms that He had been in a glorified state “before the world was.” The cosmos is the ordered world, in this case, that which was made during the seven days of creation. Jesus was soon to return to that past glory, which He had given up temporarily during His earthly manifestation. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:7 that He had “emptied Himself” in order to be “found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:8).
That glory, of course, was first seen in Him at the mount of Transfiguration, when “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matthew 17:2).
Christ’s mission from the beginning was to bring the glory of God from heaven to earth. This is the main theme in the gospel of John, where eight miracle-signs (semeion) were set forth as representative of His ministry as a whole to manifest His glory (John 2:11) in the earth. These eight signs also prophetically represent the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles.
After completing the eighth sign in John 21:6, the prophetic pattern was fully established for the next stage, where the sons of God themselves would fulfill the eight-day feast of Tabernacles and bring the glory of God into the rest of the earth. In this way, the promise of God was to be fulfilled, saying in Habakkuk 2:14,
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
This is part 3 of a series titled "Jesus and His Father" To view all parts, click the link below.