1 Christology ST302 LESSON 04 of 24 C. Fred Dickason, Th.D. Experience: Chairman of the Theology Department, Moody Bible Institute. We re beginning lesson four today in the series on Christology. And we want to look at some more of the titles of Christ that evidence that He is indeed deity and eternal. We looked last time in lesson three at the title logos, a word which means the expression of God. Christ is the visible, tangible expression of God in personal form. We looked also at the title the Son of God, some false theories, and then the scriptural view that He is Son by eternal generation and noted that the term Son of God emphasized Christ s eternal, personal relationship to God the Father as distinct from the Father and yet related to the Father in eternal sense. We also looked at the term only begotten which means unique in kind. Christ is indeed the unique Son of God. Now with this lesson we want to look at the title firstborn or first-begotten. This term is found in several places in the New Testament. It s used nine times in total. Seven times it refers to Christ, and twice it refers to others as firstborn in a human sense. There is a qualitative idea with this word firstborn or first begotten, no matter where it s found. With reference to Christ the term firstborn or first-begotten is used in Matthew 1:25 and in Luke 2:7 where Christ is called the firstborn of Mary. He is obviously the one who opened her womb. He is the one who came first from her, and He is firstborn in that sense. He is also firstborn from the dead. He s the one who opened the grave. In Colossians 1:18: the firstborn from the dead and Revelation 1:5, He is also called the firstborn from the dead in the sense that He is the first one to emerge from the grave in a resurrection body that never shall die again. Of course, you know, there were others who were temporarily resurrected but not given glorified bodies. Christ is the firstborn. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:20, He is called the first fruits of the resurrection. He is also called firstborn among many brethren. And in Romans 8:29, He is firstborn among many brethren in God s eternal plan to conform many to His image. He is the prototype. He s the first one of a glorified, new humanity; and His brethren shall arrive in glory and be like Him. He s also 1 of 8
2 called firstborn of all creation in Colossians 1:15. Now this title firstborn of all creation has given occasion for some, particularly the Jehovah s Witnesses, to declare that Christ is indeed a created being. He s the firstborn or the first-begotten of all creation. They say that He is part of creation, that He s the first created being, that He is not eternal but that He was the first created person and then He, in turn, created others. This view traces back to Arias, who in the early centuries of church history, denied the eternal preexistence of Christ. The Jehovah s Witnesses take up this same strain and say that Christ is preexistent but He was preexistent as Michael the Archangel. He is not Jehovah God. Now, that He is not part of creation but that He is separate from, distinct from, and over all creation as the Creator is evident from some facts that are quite obvious. Usually errors are built upon a false concept of the word involved or an incomplete induction or survey of the facts. If we would look at the context of Colossians 1:15 where it says Christ is the firstborn of all creation we d notice, first of all, the universal language. In Colossians, Christ is set forth as the Creator of all things. He is the image of the invisible God. He s the firstborn of every creature. For, by Him, were all things created which are in heaven and in earth visible and invisible. That means angelic, as well as human and material creation. All things were created by Him and for Him. It would be totally incongruous to think that all things were created for a creature. But He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together or consist. The universal language speaks about the fact that He is indeed over all things. Colossians 2:9, in the same book, says that Christ is the one in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Literally, in Him dwells all the completeness of the Godhead in bodily form. This perhaps was an answer to the Gnostics of Paul s day who were saying that Christ was not fully God. He was one of the angels or the aeons who emanated from God, perhaps this was their thought. Maybe that thought would develop a little later. We re not quite sure. But in any case, Paul says the fullness, the pleroma of the Godhead dwells in Him in bodily form. Some people in Paul s day thought that spirit was good and matter evil. This dualism was conceived as the essence of true philosophy, that spirit was good and matter was evil. And then applied to Christ, it gave Christians a problem if they held to this point of view, because Christ is both eternal Spirit and He is indeed matter, that is flesh. And they could not conceive of how 2 of 8
3 He could be genuinely Spirit-God and a flesh Man at the same time. How could evil dwell with good and good with evil? But Paul sees no problem here, because their basic premise is untrue. Spirit is not basically good. There can be evil spirits like evil angels. And matter is neither good nor evil, though there is such a thing as evil flesh in the human moral sense. But Paul makes the statement in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form which immediately posits the truth very succinctly and pointedly that the fullness of all that God is dwells in Jesus Christ as He walked on earth, and indeed as He is in heaven today in a human body. This is enough answer as to the fact that He is not part of creation. But let s try to understand what this title really means in its context, for the context is the clue. As far as the grammar is concerned, the firstborn of all creation could be what the Greeks call a genitive of reference. That is, He is firstborn with reference to creation. That means that He is firstborn as far as creation is concerned. He is not part of it, but He s related to it in that He is firstborn. Now, that He is not part of the creation is pretty evident from the word selection. The word that is used for firstborn is prototokos not protoktistos which means first-created. In Paul s day, both of these words were available, and he did not use the term first-created which could be applied to angelic beings. But he uses the word prototokos which means firstborn. And I think the selection immediately indicates that Paul was avoiding the concept that He was a creature. Instead he was using the Old Testament emphasis like in Psalm 89:27 that Messiah was to be God s firstborn, I will make Him My firstborn, higher than the kings of the nations. The emphasis is on sovereignty. From the usage of this term, both in the Old and New Testament, firstborn, the basic concepts involved are two: first, priority in time, and second, sovereignty in position. As far as chronology is concerned, He is prior to, He s first in line. As far as character is concerned or position, He is sovereign over. And these two concepts fit every usage of the word firstborn. And when they re applied to Christ, firstborn with reference to creation, He is prior to all creation. And this gives a causal sense to that. He s the Creator of all things, and He s sovereign over all creation. He is indeed very God of very God. Another title that s used of Christ is the word image or icon. From the usage of the term the word image, or likeness, means corresponding to an original. The word was used of an emperor s likeness on a coin. Jesus asked His enemies whose image and superscription is this? And they said Caesar s. You see the word 3 of 8
4 image was used of Caesar s likeness on a coin. It was also used as a representation of heathen gods like in Romans 1:23. They made God in the image of corruptible man. And so it can mean basically a likeness corresponding to an original, at least in some sense. The word means form, or appearance, in some cases. It can be used of men. For instance men are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Those who trust in Him (Romans 8:29), that s our ultimate conformation to Christ. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 the Spirit of God is changing us from glory to glory even unto the image of Christ. This is progressive correspondence to His likeness. In Colossians 3:10, we are created in the image of God when we trust in Christ, created anew morally and righteously in the image of God. The Hebrew of Genesis 1:27, God made man in His own likeness, and image is translated by the Greek Septuagint with the same word icon which means similar to, an expression of. And in James 3, we read about the fact that man is made in the image of God. Same word is used there. So it s used of men. But when it s used of men, it says men are made in the image of God, emphasis on the word made, or created, as a product of a process by God. However, when this word icon or image is used of Christ, He s never called made. He always is. The verb is a verb of being, not a verb of resultant process. He is the image of God. He is the image of the invisible God. He represents God who is otherwise invisible, and He brings Him out into a likeness that is corresponding to the original. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, He is called the image of God, Christ the image of God who shines unto men who believe Him. And Satan seeks to hide this image from unbelievers. The reason people do not believe that Jesus is indeed the genuine correspondence to God, that He is indeed the visible representation of God, is that Satan is blinding their minds. The Bible makes it clear that the word image, as applied to Christ, means a real, exact likeness of the Father. Suppose we get these points in line here. He is a real, exact likeness of the Father, not a shadow or a sketch. The second thing that s applied to Christ: He is a true, complete counterpart of the Father, no feature missing, no feature impaired in fullness. He is a tangible representation of God is the third point. He is the one who is representing God in a visible, tangible way. The word image then, says that Christ makes God visible and represents Him completely and truly. There s another term as applied to Christ that shows that He is deity. In Hebrews 1:3, Christ is called the express image of God, who being the brightness of His glory (that in itself is enough to 4 of 8
5 show deity) and the express image of His person, literally, the character of His substance. He is the express image. The word translated express image is the word which we might transliterate character. It s used in the sense of the fact that He is an exact representation of God s nature or person. This indeed is a very strong expression, not to be used of anyone except God, and here s applied to Christ. Another term that s used of Christ that shows that He is God is the term Jehovah. Now in showing that Jehovah is used of Him, we must compare both Old and New Testaments. The Old is the basis for the New, and the New is the completion of the Old. And we expect to find quotations of the Old in the New, and we do. And when the New quotes the Old, it cannot quote the word Jehovah because that s a term that s Hebrew. But it uses the Greek word Lord or kurios. The basic concept of Jehovah, as this name was revealed to Moses in Exodus 3, is that God is the self-existent God, the one who enters into covenant relationship with His people. He is a self-sustaining God, one who depends upon no one but Himself. The word Jehovah is actually a term that is developed from the Hebrew which has four characters and sometimes called the unutterable tetragrammaton, basically I am that I am, or I am that I shall be, the concept of God s eternal self-existence. Now let s take a look at how this word is used as applied to Christ. In John 12:37-41, we can see that this term is applied to Christ, Though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore, they could not believe because Isaiah said again He blinded their hearts and hardened their hearts that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts and be converted and I should heal them. These things, said Isaiah, when he saw His glory and spake of Him. Now the Him in this case is the most recent reference that is to Christ, who did some miracles and so many miracles that people should have believed, but did not believe on Him. And this is referred then to Isaiah 6. You notice that John says here that these things, said Isaiah when he saw His glory and spoke of Him, that is, of Christ. 5 of 8
6 Well, let s turn back to Isaiah 6 and see the Hebrew word that s used here that refers to the glorious vision that Isaiah saw. He says in verse 1, In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up and His train filled the temple. And there were seraphim present. One cried to another and said Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory. And in verse 5, I have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. Now Isaiah saw Jehovah of hosts, and he saw the Lord Jesus, according to John 12. So he saw Jehovah of hosts when he saw the Lord Jesus. This is an evidence of the fact that Jesus is called Jehovah, the New Testament word kurios being an equivalent, or substitute, for the Hebrew term Jehovah. Now in Matthew 3:3 we have the same sort of situation where John the Baptist comes along and says, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. If we turn back to the original reference in Isaiah 40:3, we find that the word LORD is in capital letters, which means Jehovah. Prepare ye the way of Jehovah. So John the Baptist, who is predicted in Isaiah 40 and whose message is preached in Isaiah 40 and in Matthew 3, now refers to Christ as Jehovah. In Philippians 2:9 we have this amazing passage that Jesus Christ is exalted, given a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Now the word Lord here means deity and sovereign. If we turn back to the Old Testament in Isaiah 42:8, we read, Jehovah is my name. My glory I will not share with another. In other words, the word Jehovah is applied only to God, or a member of the Godhead. I am Jehovah. That s My name. My glory I will not give to another. Then further on in Isaiah 45, we have the reference to which Philippians makes reference. Look unto Me. This is Isaiah 45:22, Look unto Me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth. For I am God and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself. The Word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow and everyone shall swear. I am Jehovah. I am God. There is no one else. The word Jehovah is found in verse 21 and in verse 25. I am God. There is none else. He s the one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear. And yet in the New Testament this exalted position and this honor is given to Jesus Christ. Now God said He would not share His honor with another, but here He shared it with another who is His equal. So he s really not sharing it with another outside of the Godhead. He s sharing it with His Son who is exalted and called Lord. He s called Jehovah. When the Jehovah s witnesses 6 of 8
7 say that Jesus Christ is God but He s not Jehovah, they are ignorantly treating the Bible. The Bible makes it sufficiently clear. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament, because He is Jehovah God. Another title that s applied to Christ is the word Lord or kurios. Of course, we mentioned this as the New Testament equivalent of Jehovah. But it s also used in the sense of the sovereign of the universe. In Philippians 2:11, Jesus is Lord. Every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, that is, that He s deity and sovereign to the glory of God the Father. He is over all. In Romans 10:9, If thou shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord. Now confessing Jesus as Lord in this context, Romans 10 indicates that there is a switch of attitude. For this section speaks of the Jewish attitude toward God or God s Son. Jesus was regarded as one to be crucified not to be crowned, one to be rejected not to be received, because He made such claims. But here Paul says if you will change your mind and call Jesus Christ Lord, that is that He is humanity raised from the dead and deity, the sovereign of the universe, and He is indeed the Lord of glory who brings salvation, you shall be saved. For a person who has previously rejected Christ, now turning to Him as Lord and Savior and calling upon the name of the Lord, that one shall be saved. Jesus is called then Lord, or sovereign of the universe. Another title that s interesting and is applied to Him is found in Revelation 1:8. And that is this, I am the Alpha and the Omega, that is, the beginning and the end saith the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Actually there are two titles here, aren t there, the Alpha and the Omega; and the Almighty. These titles are ascribed to Christ in such a way that they show that He is the eternal, beginning, and end of all things. He has no beginning. He s the author. He has no end. However, he s the goal of all things, the beginning and the goal of all things. And no one has this claim, and no one has this position except God. And here Jesus Christ applies it to Himself, as He appears to John in the Isle of Patmos, in the book of Revelation. All these titles as applied to Christ the logos, the Son of God, only begotten of the Father, the firstborn or first-begotten, the image, the express image, Jehovah, Lord, Alpha and Omega, the Almighty all of these titles are applied to Christ and used of Him in the Scripture in such a way that they are substantial proofs for His character as deity and eternal. This means that Christ is to be 7 of 8
8 revered as God Himself. Jesus said He who honors Me honors My Father. He is to be worshipped as God. When men bowed down before Him and worshipped Him, He did not reject their worship. The angel of the book of Revelation rejected worship from John, but Jesus Christ did not. In the New Testament when people fell at His feet and worshipped Him, He didn t say, Get up, I m a man. In fact He claimed to be God and accepted worship. He is not only to be revered and worshipped, but He s to be believed as God. He is indeed God in the flesh, and believed on as one who came and died in our place, who bore our sins fully and completely on the cross as the God-man, and who rose again, who is indeed exalted above all to be worshipped and honored. And He is to be obeyed. If He indeed is the sovereign of the universe, He ought to be the sovereign of the individual. If He s the ruler of all in the world, He ought to be the ruler of all in our lives. These titles ascribe to Him majesty and glory, such that should make every believer bow down and worship and go and obey. Next time, in our next lesson, we ll look at the attributes of Christ and the works of Christ which show that He is deity. Christ-Centered Learning Anytime, Anywhere 8 of 8
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COMPARISON OF JOHN 1:1-5 AND 1 JOHN 1:1-5 "In the beginning was the Word (eternality), and the Word was with God (equality), and the Word was God (Deity). The same was in the beginning with God (equality).
All Scripture quotations are from the Authorized King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise indicated. February 15, 2011 In JESUS NAME Mini-Book Part 1 Printed for: HANDS FOR JESUS P.O. BOX 18655
Gospel of Matthew Matthew 6:9-13 The King s Sermon Praying to Our Father in Heaven After Jesus taught His disciples to avoid praying like the hypocrites (6:5) and like the heathen (6:7-8), He taught them
THE EXTRAORDINARY NAME OF JESUS By: Phillip Hayes And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. [Matthew 1:21] Extraordinary: Beyond
The Deity of Christ Introduction I recently received a letter from someone who argues that there is only one God, and that He is called many names and worshiped by many different people who hold to many
Part 1, Lesson 4 Becoming Good Soil: Knowing Jesus Fertile Soil: Starting Your New Life with Jesus The Christian faith begins and ends with Jesus Christ. It is not a collection of rules and regulations.
Chapter 9 DEALING WITH PROBLEMS AND OBJECTIONS jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29).. s tones are being hurled at the impregnable
Loving God! Loving People! Loving Life! Message Notes Colossians Part Two Life Church Smyrna Wednesday, September 13, 2017 7pm Pastor Christian Salzillo Part 2: Colossians 1:15-20 The greatest safeguard
The Word is also called The Spirit of The LORD The Word The Spirit The Sword of of of GOD The LORD The SPIRIT It is written that,...the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged
JESUS CHRIST THE PERSON OF CHRISTIANITY Self Study Guide (Philippians 2:5-13) ------------------------- by Rob Taylor ------------------------- 1996 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction... 3 Lesson 1 - The Deity
COMPASS CHURCH PRIMARY STATEMENTS OF FAITH The Following are adapted from The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. I. THE SCRIPTURES The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation
STATEMENT OF FAITH As a Bible college of evangelical persuasion and Pentecostal/charismatic heritage, SUM affirms the following statement of faith. WE BELIEVE The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith
Christology ST302 LESSON 14 of 24 C. Fred Dickason, Th.D. Experience: Chairman of the Theology Department, Moody Bible Institute. We come now to lesson 14 in Christology. And as we come to lesson 14 we
Statement of Fundamental Truths: We Believe 1. The Scriptures Inspired The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible,