Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Some questions regarding preexistence in Paul


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 02:59 PM

Hi there

I am a former Trinitarian who after reading the works of the early Church Fathers came to develop a subordinationist Logos Christology, but recently I have been draw towards non-preexistence-Unitarian perspective (due to mainly reading through the Synoptics and Acts... and of course a healthy dose of Dave Burke... and Dunn for that matter). For the moment I am somewhat confused on where to stand on the whole issue of pre-existence.

Now, I personally do not hold to Biblical Inerrancy and thus I allow for differences between various authors in Scripture in regards to Christology. In my opinion it seems best to understand the Johannine literature as to be speaking of personal pre-existence and having a Christology more like that of the 2nd century. However, I do not know what to do with Paul -- may favorite apostle and whom I have an extra strong emotional bond with. In his writings there are few passages that I think are best explained by personal pre-existence, such as Gal 4:4, Rom 8:3 and Phil 2. (The reading of Col 1:15ff as if it merely pretains to the new creation seems a bit strained (although not impossible); I guess I prefer Dunn's point of that the passage is talking about Wisdom which has now been fully manifested in Christ. But then again, if anyone has some good exegesis on "Col 1:15ff = the new creation" please share ^_^ )


So here are my questions:

1) When do you believe the sending forth in Gal 4:4/Rom 8:3 takes place? It believe it is possible to understand this activity to take place during the earthly live of Jesus but not sure. Is it possible to understand this verse as speaking of an ideal pre-existence?

2) "being made in likeness of men" in Phil 2:7 seems to be best understood as referring to the birth of Jesus (especially in light of Rom 8:3). If the passage is read from the Adam-Christ paradigm, how is this phrase best understood? Does it indicate then a change from one type of human status to another? What is the syntactical function of the participles λαβων and γενομενος in v. 7?

3) At what point in Christ life could the "being rich" in 2 Cor 8:9 be referring to?

Thanks in advance. :-)

Blessings to all of you from Sweden.

In Christ Jesus
Pär

#2 Chrlsp

Chrlsp

    Mu

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 17 September 2011 - 05:14 PM

Col 1:15

Jesus is called..."the beginning of the creation of God"; "the first-born of every creature"; "the first-born among many brethren" and "the first-fruits of them that slept"


Jesus taught the gospel of the kingdom of heaven in parables. For example: "I am the vine, ye are the branches";... "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." ...and The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

The parables of the gospel of the kingdom of God explain why Jesus is called "the beginning of the creation...the first-born of every creature...the first-fruits of them that slept" etc.

Jesus is the vine.
Jesus is the mustard seed.
Jesus is the corn of wheat.

The vine is planted and grows....we are the branches.
The mustard seed is planted and grows. It becomes a tree with branches...we are the branches
The corn of wheat is planted and brings forth much fruit...Jesus the first, we the other.

The seed must first die...but after it brings forth a new creation of which Jesus is the beginning, first-born and first fruit thereof.

Edited by Chrlsp, 17 September 2011 - 05:19 PM.


#3 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 18 September 2011 - 01:15 PM

Hi Pär, thanks for dropping by. As you may or may not already know, I'm Dave Burke. :)

May I ask where you first encountered my material? There are very few places on the internet where my essays are posted under my real name.

Hi there

I am a former Trinitarian who after reading the works of the early Church Fathers came to develop a subordinationist Logos Christology, but recently I have been draw towards non-preexistence-Unitarian perspective (due to mainly reading through the Synoptics and Acts... and of course a healthy dose of Dave Burke... and Dunn for that matter). For the moment I am somewhat confused on where to stand on the whole issue of pre-existence.

Now, I personally do not hold to Biblical Inerrancy and thus I allow for differences between various authors in Scripture in regards to Christology. In my opinion it seems best to understand the Johannine literature as to be speaking of personal pre-existence and having a Christology more like that of the 2nd century. However, I do not know what to do with Paul -- may favorite apostle and whom I have an extra strong emotional bond with. In his writings there are few passages that I think are best explained by personal pre-existence, such as Gal 4:4, Rom 8:3 and Phil 2. (The reading of Col 1:15ff as if it merely pretains to the new creation seems a bit strained (although not impossible); I guess I prefer Dunn's point of that the passage is talking about Wisdom which has now been fully manifested in Christ. But then again, if anyone has some good exegesis on "Col 1:15ff = the new creation" please share ^_^ )


NT Christology is based upon OT principles. Nowhere is this more clear than in the apostle Paul's use of OT terminology in the context of Jesus' identity and saving work on the cross. Paul refers to Jesus as "firstborn of creation" (Colossians 1:15) and "the last Adam" (I Corinthians 15:45), using concepts derived from Genesis.

In Philippians 2:5-11 Paul makes the connection explicit: he contrasts the first Adam (who sinned by reaching for equality with God, and fell) against the last Adam (who obeyed by humbling himself, and was exalted). The first Adam brought death; the last Adam brought life. Both are called "Son of God" and both are members of the literal creation, but only the "last Adam" offers salvation through a "new creation." We find references to this "new creation" in Ephesians 2:10, 4:24, Colossians 1:15-20, 3:10, & 5:17, where it is presented in language that explicitly differentiates it from the old, literal creation.

I think Paul's use of new creation language is more consistent than you're giving him credit for. In my debate with Rob Bowman he attempted to link Colossians 1:15-20 with I Corinthians 8:6. I addressed that argument here, and hope you find my analysis useful if you haven't read it already.

So here are my questions:

1) When do you believe the sending forth in Gal 4:4/Rom 8:3 takes place? It believe it is possible to understand this activity to take place during the earthly live of Jesus but not sure. Is it possible to understand this verse as speaking of an ideal pre-existence?


I believe this refers to the start of Jesus' ministry. It's the same language used of John the Baptist:

John 1:6
A man came, sent from God, whose name was John


John was "sent from God", yet nobody thinks this means he pre-existed. The "sending" clearly refers to the start of John's ministry. I see no reason to interpret it any differently in the case of Jesus.

2) "being made in likeness of men" in Phil 2:7 seems to be best understood as referring to the birth of Jesus (especially in light of Rom 8:3). If the passage is read from the Adam-Christ paradigm, how is this phrase best understood? Does it indicate then a change from one type of human status to another?


I don't think it refers to a specific event. The verse does not actually say Jesus was "made in likeness of men", though it would not make any difference to me if that's what it did say. I am not convinced that it even refers to a specific event. If other people want to take it as a reference to Jesus' birth, that's fine. To me, it simply means he looked like other men.

This is another passage I addressed in the debate with Bowman. My exegesis of Philippians 2:5-11 starts here. Apologies if you've read it already.

What is the syntactical function of the participles λαβων and γενομενος in v. 7?


There's nothing special about these words in the context of the passage. They tell us that Jesus did something, and that he was something as a result of what he'd done (I hope that makes sense).

λαβων here can be interpreted as "took hold" or "acquired"; γενομενος simply means "being" (as in, "being human, I have two eyes, two legs, and two arms.") The NET Bible translates this verse in the following way:

but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.


Notice that the NET translators simply omit γενομενος from the translation, preferring instead to emphasise that Jesus looked like other men. This is theologically motivated of course, since they do believe Jesus was not literally like other men, but merely appeared to be so.

3) At what point in Christ life could the "being rich" in 2 Cor 8:9 be referring to?

Thanks in advance. :-)


Jesus was rich in the divine privileges he enjoyed as God's Son. He became poor by spending his life as an itinerant rabbi who served others throughout his entire life (even to the extent of washing his disciples' feet) and refused to exercise those privileges for his own benefit (note Matthew 4:1-7, 26:53; Luke 23:39; John 19:11).

Edited by Evangelion, 18 September 2011 - 01:23 PM.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#4 Curt

Curt

    Alpha

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts

Posted 19 September 2011 - 01:07 PM

What did Jesus mean in John 17:5? "Father glorify me, with the glory I had with you before the world was."? Also John 6:62 "What and if you see the Son of man ascended up where he was before?"

#5 Chrlsp

Chrlsp

    Mu

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 19 September 2011 - 06:03 PM

What did Jesus mean in John 17:5? "Father glorify me, with the glory I had with you before the world was."? Also John 6:62 "What and if you see the Son of man ascended up where he was before?"


John 6:62

Jesus had just been in the synagogue teaching the Jews that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life.

"Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?"

It must be remembered that Jesus always spoke to the multitudes in parables (Matt 13:34) but to his disciples, when they were baffled by his speech, Jesus explained.

"When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?"

Were his disciples offended because Jesus said they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Is that a hard saying?
How bout this..."What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?"

Then Jesus explains the parables.

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

There's the explanation!

It's not literally eating the body and blood of Christ that gives life but "It is the spirit that quickeneth" (Makes alive or gives life). "The flesh profiteth nothing"

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

The Jews stumbled at the idea of eating Jesus' flesh and blood not understanding the words he spoke are spirit(and to be understood in a spiritual sense). Of which many still do not understand with their false doctrine of "transubstaniation".

Okay, so how bout ..."What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?"

When Jesus said he came down from heaven (v.41) The Jews murmurred and said "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?"

Go back to the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples.

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit"....."Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

It was the Father who came down from heaven by his Spirit which dwelt in Christ. The words Jesus spoke were the words of the Father as he (the Father) dwelt in Christ by His Spirit which came down from heaven.

The same principle applies to John 17:5

Edited by Chrlsp, 19 September 2011 - 06:19 PM.


#6 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 04:45 AM

What did Jesus mean in John 17:5? "Father glorify me, with the glory I had with you before the world was."?


The concept here is figurative rather than literal, reflecting traditional Jewish predestination concepts. Jesus claims ownership of the glory God intended for him long before his literal existence (he also says he had given that same glory to his disciples).


We find examples in the Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 39b:

Seven things were created before the world, viz., The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord possessed me [ the Torah] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. Repentance, for it is written, Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world … Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, Repent, ye sons of men.

The Garden of Eden, as it is written, And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden from aforetime. Gehenna, as it is written, For Tophet is ordained of old. The Throne of Glory, as it is written, Thy Throne is established from of old. The Temple, as it is written, A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His name [of Messiah] shall endure forever, and [has existed] before the sun!


Also in the apocryphal Assumption of Moses:

So says the Lord of the world. For He has created the world on behalf of His people. But He was not pleased to manifest this purpose of creation from the foundation of the world, in order that the Gentiles might thereby be convicted, yea to their own humiliation might by (their) arguments convict one another. Accordingly He designed and devised me [Moses], and He prepared me before the foundation of the world, that I should be the mediator of His covenant.


Thus Reverend E. C. Dewick (Primitive Christian Eschatology, reprint, Marton Press, 2007):

When the Jew said something was ‘predestined,’ he thought of it as already ‘existing’ in a higher sphere of life. The world’s history is thus predestined because it is already, in a sense, pre-existing and consequently fixed. This typically Jewish conception of predestination may be distinguished from the Greek idea of pre-existence by the predominance of the thought of ‘pre-existence’ in the Divine purpose.


Scripture uses this predestination language to speak of events and people as occurring and existing before they literally did:

  • Jeremiah 1:5, "'Before I formed you in your mother's womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.'"
  • Ephesians 2:6, "and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus"
  • Hebrews 7:9-10, "And it could be said that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid a tithe through Abraham. For he was still in his ancestor Abraham's loins when Melchizedek met him.

(See also I Peter 1:20, "He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake").

Reverend Sigmund Mowinckel was another Christian scholar who insisted the Jewish conception of predestination and prefiguration must inform our understanding of passages appearing to speak of pre-existence:

That any expression or vehicle of God’s will for the world, His saving counsel and purpose, was present in His mind, or His ‘Word,’ from the beginning is a natural way of saying that it is not fortuitous, but the due unfolding and expression of God’s own being. This attribution of pre-existence indicates religious importance of the highest order. Rabbinic theology speaks of the Law, of God’s throne of glory, of Israel and of other important objects of faith, as things which had been created by God, and were already present with Him, before the creation of the world.

The same is also true of the Messiah. It is said that his name was present with God in heaven beforehand, that it was created before the world, and that it is eternal. But the reference here is not to genuine pre-existence in the strict and literal sense. This is clear from the fact that Israel is included among these pre-existent entities. This does not mean that either the nation Israel or its ancestor existed long ago in heaven, but that the community Israel, the people of God, had been from all eternity in the mind of God, as a factor in His purpose. ...

This is true of references to the pre-existence of the Messiah. It is his ‘name,’ not the Messiah himself, that is said to have been present with God before creation. In Pesikta Rabbati 152b is said that ‘from the beginning of the creation of the world the King Messiah was born, for he came up in the thought of God before the world was created.’ This means that from all eternity it was the will of God that the Messiah should come into existence, and should do his work in the world to fulfill God’s eternal saving purpose.


( He That Cometh: The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005, p. 334).

Jewish predestination/prefiguration language was understood by the earliest Christians, themselves Jews. The apostle Paul even coined a phrase to describe it; he said that God "...makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do" (Romans 4:17).

This is consistent with John 17's wider context, containing several such predestination statements. Like God, Jesus speaks of things yet to occur as if they are in the past:

  • John 17:4, "'I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do'"
    But Jesus' work was not finished until he said "It is completed" on the cross (John 19:30)
  • John 17:11, "'I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world'"
    But Jesus was still in the world; he had not yet ascended to the Father
  • John 17:18, "'Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them [the disciples] into the world'"
    But Jesus had not yet sent his disciples into the world; this didn't happen until after his resurrection (John 20:21; Matthew 28:19-20)

G. H. Gilbert (The Revelation of Jesus: A Study of the Primary Sources of Christianity, reprint, BiblioLife, 2009, p. 222), says:

The glory of completed redemption cannot literally be possessed until redemption is complete. If now the pre-existence of Jesus, according to the seventeenth chapter of John, is clearly ideal, this fact confirms the interpretation which has been given of the other passages which are less clear.

We conclude, then, that these three passages in John [6:62; 8:58; 17:5] in which Jesus alludes to his pre-existence, do not involve the claim that his pre-existence was personal and real. They are to be classed with the other phenomena of the Messianic consciousness of Jesus, none of which have to do with metaphysical relationships with the Father.


Also John 6:62 "What and if you see the Son of man ascended up where he was before?"


An allusion to Daniel's vision (Daniel 7:13). Jesus is claiming to be the Son of Man who will reign alongside God. This does not necessitate his literal pre-existence.

Edited by Evangelion, 20 September 2011 - 04:46 AM.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#7 Chrlsp

Chrlsp

    Mu

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 12:17 PM

"And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;"

"I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." . The Father dwelt in Jesus by His Spirit. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

"Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh"

God was manifest in the mortal flesh of Jesus by His(The Father's)Spirit.

The Spirit in Jesus was vailed by mortal flesh for a time, but when Jesus was raised in immortality and glory and ascended into heaven, then the Spirit was again glorified with the glory it had with God before the world was. When Jesus was raised from the dead in immortal flesh, then the Spirit was manifested as it had always been manifested in the person of the Father and his holy angels.

Edited by Chrlsp, 20 September 2011 - 12:17 PM.


#8 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:26 PM

Hi there!

Thank you for taking th time to respond.

Yes, I know you are Dave Burke. :-) I first heard of you from the Great Trinity debate and that lead me to these forums as well as your comments posted on trinities.org. Recently I saw you posting on Exploring the Matrix as well. I have read your posts and comments from the Great Trinity debate at least once before, but given the massive output you guys produced, a second reading wouldn't hurt.


I'm still not sure if I find your reading of Colossians 1 that overly compelling. You seem to restrict the meaning of "firstborn of all creation" to the meaning the phrase has in v. 18. Rather then reading v. 15 in light of v. 18, I wonder if it is not better to understand these statements as referring to two kinds of firstbornness (...that isn't a word, is it?) Christ was the firstborn of the old creation, but now, due to the arrival of the new creation which has come through him, Christ was made the firstborn here as well through the resurrection so that he might be the first/preeminent one in all of God's creation(s). The second stanza (v. 17bff) seems to balance out the first which is about the old creation.
v. 13 could be used to justify a kingdom-context, but it would not in it self rule out v. 15-17 referring to the old creation since these lead up to the new creation in 17b-18.

You wrote: "This language do not match the old creation, and it is further qualified by the terms of reference." Given that most scholars recognize the echo of the wisdom tradition and her role in (the old) creation, I do not think the language is that different, at least not to rule out the old creation. How the old creation was created "in Christ" is however difficult to understand, but than again, there are a lot of odd things that confuses me in regards to the EN CRISTW-forumla.



Also, what new things has been created in heaven?

Now concerning Philippians 2:7, in light of the similar phrase in Rom 8:3 it would seem more natural to understand Phil 2:7 as a reference to the Messiah's birth. And if that is so, since we are dealing with reflexive actions which you yourself recognize (he emptied himself [by] taking the form of a servant, [by] being made in likeness of men...) that would point to a personal existence prior to his birth, would it not? But then again, perhaps not since you wrote: "If other people want to take it as a reference to Jesus' birth, that's fine" Is it possible to hold such a view without seeing personal pre-existence in the text? If so, would you care to elaborate?

Another point that seems to confuse me with regards to the "from one human state to another" is that Christ emptying and humbling seem to be saying the same thing... in fact, it all seems to be saying the same thing: He emptied himself, that is he took the role as slave, that is he made himself like any of us, and being like us, he humbled himself.

It all seems very tautologous. However, if we assume a pre-existent state the double humbling would make more sense in a way: From being rich, he became poor, and even when has found to be poor, he humbled himself even further.

Another question, if "form of God" is somewhat equalilent to "image of God", then is "form of a servant" equalient to "image of a servant"?

Help me out? I'm so confused ._.

Edited by Pogotrucci, 20 September 2011 - 02:35 PM.


#9 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 20 September 2011 - 03:39 PM

Hi there!

Thank you for taking th time to respond.

Yes, I know you are Dave Burke. :-) I first heard of you from the Great Trinity debate and that lead me to these forums as well as your comments posted on trinities.org. Recently I saw you posting on Exploring the Matrix as well. I have read your posts and comments from the Great Trinity debate at least once before, but given the massive output you guys produced, a second reading wouldn't hurt.


OK. :)

I'm still not sure if I find your reading of Colossians 1 that overly compelling. You seem to restrict the meaning of "firstborn of all creation" to the meaning the phrase has in v. 18. Rather then reading v. 15 in light of v. 18, I wonder if it is not better to understand these statements as referring to two kinds of firstbornness (...that isn't a word, is it?) Christ was the firstborn of the old creation, but now, due to the arrival of the new creation which has come through him, Christ was made the firstborn here as well through the resurrection so that he might be the first/preeminent one in all of God's creation(s). The second stanza (v. 17bff) seems to balance out the first which is about the old creation. v. 13 could be used to justify a kingdom-context, but it would not in it self rule out v. 15-17 referring to the old creation since these lead up to the new creation in 17b-18.


I see what you're saying, but this seems rather contrived to me. I can show verses which explicitly define Jesus as the firstborn of the new creation. Are there any verses which explicitly define Jesus as the firstborn of the old creation? (We cannot use Colossians 1:15, since that's the very verse we're trying to explain).

You wrote: "This language do not match the old creation, and it is further qualified by the terms of reference." Given that most scholars recognize the echo of the wisdom tradition and her role in (the old) creation, I do not think the language is that different, at least not to rule out the old creation. How the old creation was created "in Christ" is however difficult to understand, but than again, there are a lot of odd things that confuses me in regards to the EN CRISTW-forumla.


OK, let's look at the things which are said to have been created in Colossians 1. How do we explain "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers" in this context? What exactly are they, and where do we find them in Genesis 1-2?

Also, what new things has been created in heaven?


I don't believe the "heaven" here is literal. I believe it's figurative, as in Ephesians 2:6.

Now concerning Philippians 2:7, in light of the similar phrase in Rom 8:3 it would seem more natural to understand Phil 2:7 as a reference to the Messiah's birth. And if that is so, since we are dealing with reflexive actions which you yourself recognize (he emptied himself [by] taking the form of a servant, [by] being made in likeness of men...) that would point to a personal existence prior to his birth, would it not?


Why would it point to a personal existence prior to his birth? It doesn't say he pre-existed as one thing and later existed as something else. It just says he was in the form of God, and took the form of a servant. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we are never told that he ceased to be in the form of God.

I like the way Dunn puts it (Christology in the Making, p.120):

As when reading Rom. 7.7-11 we are not to think of some specific time in the life of Paul or the Jew when he was 'alive once apart from the law', so when reading Phil. 2.6-11 we should not try to identify a specific time in Christ's existence when he was in the form of God and before he became like men.

As Rom. 7.7-11 is just a way of describing the character and plight of all men now, so Phil. 2.6-11 is simply a way of describing the character of Christ's ministry and sacrifice. In both cases the language used is determined wholly by the Adam stories and is most probably not intended as metaphysical assertions about individuals in the first century AD.


A footnote in the New American Bible makes the same point:

Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or ". . . taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance."
While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ's pre-existence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to pre-existence (see the note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6-8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus' human state (Phil 2:6-7b; 7cd-8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.


But then again, perhaps not since you wrote: "If other people want to take it as a reference to Jesus' birth, that's fine" Is it possible to hold such a view without seeing personal pre-existence in the text?


Yes, absolutely.

If so, would you care to elaborate?


Jesus was in the form of God at his birth, just like every other human. In his ministry he took the form of a servant.

Cf. Isaiah 53, Matthew 12:18 ("Here is my chosen servant!"), Luke 22:27 ("I have been with you as a servant"), John 13:3-5 ("...he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing"), Acts 3:13 ("The God that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and our other ancestors worshiped has brought honor to his Servant Jesus"), Acts 4:2, 30 ("Then they turned against your holy Servant Jesus... work miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus", Romans 15:8 ("I tell you that Christ came as a servant of the Jews").

Another point that seems to confuse me with regards to the "from one human state to another" is that Christ emptying and humbling seem to be saying the same thing... in fact, it all seems to be saying the same thing: He emptied himself, that is he took the role as slave, that is he made himself like any of us, and being like us, he humbled himself.

It all seems very tautologous. However, if we assume a pre-existent state the double humbling would make more sense in a way: From being rich, he became poor, and even when has found to be poor, he humbled himself even further.


Does it say Jesus went from one human state to another? I don't find that in the text. It says Jesus was in the form of God, but humbled himself by taking on the appearance of a servant. This is how I summarise the passage:

  • Despite being in the form of God and exemplifying His image perfectly, Jesus understood that equality with the Father was not something to be grasped at or stolen (unlike Adam, who hoped to seize it).

  • Instead, Jesus made himself nothing (unlike Adam, whose pride led to his fall), deliberately adopting a humble appearance as if he was merely a servant, and acting obediently in that role all the way to his death on the cross.

  • Consequently, God exalted Jesus and gave him a name above every name, so that everyone will bow the knee at the name of Jesus and confess him as Lord — to the glory of God, the Father.

Another question, if "form of God" is somewhat equalilent to "image of God", then is "form of a servant" equalient to "image of a servant"?

Help me out? I'm so confused ._.


Sure, "form of a servant" can be equivalent to "image of a servant." They both refer to outward appearance.
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#10 Curt

Curt

    Alpha

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:36 AM

Thank you for your responses. I have many questions about this subject. It is not always easily explained.

#11 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 03:13 AM

My pleasure.

:)
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#12 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:55 PM

Thank you for taking the time to help me through these issues. It has really been helpfull :-) I will be back (hopefully) tomorrow and post a response.


God bless

#13 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 22 September 2011 - 06:35 AM

You're welcome. I'm enjoying our exchange. God bless.

:)
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#14 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:58 PM

Sorry for the extremely late response. But I finally got some time between watching Youtube and eating potato chips. :-)

I have been giving these issues a lot of thought and I'm currently going round in circles. I must confess that I find the Christadelphian christology to be very attractive, but I can not overcome these objections in my mind.

So here we go...

(Also, sorry for odd syntax and grammar. Had no time to proof read. My wife apparently wants some attention as well. How dares she? ^__^)


I see what you're saying, but this seems rather contrived to me. I can show verses which explicitly define Jesus as the firstborn of the new creation. Are there any verses which explicitly define Jesus as the firstborn of the old creation? (We cannot use Colossians 1:15, since that's the very verse we're trying to explain).


It does seem that προτοτοκος is used in reference to the resurrected Christ so I guess that will count in favor of your understanding of Col 1:15. (I'm note sure were I stand in reference to Hebrews 1:6. The context seems to be post-resurrection rather than incarnational; but nevertheless, I'm not sure to what extent the author of Hebrews should influence our understanding of Paul's use of the phrase). Do you understand "all creation" in v. 15 as referring exclusively to the new creation, or to both old and new? If the latter, then given the use of οτι vv. 15-17 would need to be in reference to the old creation.

Arguments that would seem to support an understanding of firstborn as "firstborn of the old creation" would perhaps be the very use wisdom imagery, and that similar passages deal with the old creation (John 1:1-3, and perhaps Heb 1:2. Obviously these share a single source so it would not be impossible to guess they share a similar meaning)

How do you feel about understanding the passage as (I think) you understand John 1:1-3.

OK, let's look at the things which are said to have been created in Colossians 1. How do we explain "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers" in this context? What exactly are they, and where do we find them in Genesis 1-2?


The thrones, dominions and principalities all refer to angelic realm if I have understood it correctly. Whether or not we can find such language in Genesis 1-2 is not overly relevant since Paul is emphaσιzing certain created objects among the "all things" which were relevant to the argument of his epistles. It is clear from Eph 3:10 that these created things are present even in the current age/creation. Is it not these powers and authorities that were defeated on the cross (Col 2:10; 15)? Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions to quickly though. I must confess that I have not read that many commentaries on Colossians.

And even if the language of Genesis 1-2 is not present, the language of wisdom is, and passages such as Proverbs 8 do all refer to the original creation, does it not? However, with that said, it is not impossible for Paul to make a point about the new creation using such texts.


Why would it point to a personal existence prior to his birth? It doesn't say he pre-existed as one thing and later existed as something else. It just says he was in the form of God, and took the form of a servant. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we are never told that he ceased to be in the form of God.


If v. 7 speaks of Christ's birth, then v. 6 would imply pre-existence? Would it not? Since v. 6 contains the active actions of a person.

(digression: v.7b and v.8 seems to be best understood as incarnational. Given that γινομαι is used in reference to Messiahs birth (Gal 4:4, Rom 1:3) and when we take into consideration "in likeness of sinful flesh" in Rom 8:3, which on its own appears to be incarnational, it seems to strongly point towards v.7 is referring to the birth of Jesus, and if so, then Christ has an "active personal" existence prior to this stage.)

Few who hold to the pre-existence view would probably claim that Messiah ceased being in the form of God (especially given the present participle υπαρχων)

I like the way Dunn puts it (Christology in the Making, p.120):

As when reading Rom. 7.7-11 we are not to think of some specific time in the life of Paul or the Jew when he was 'alive once apart from the law', so when reading Phil. 2.6-11 we should not try to identify a specific time in Christ's existence when he was in the form of God and before he became like men.

As Rom. 7.7-11 is just a way of describing the character and plight of all men now, so Phil. 2.6-11 is simply a way of describing the character of Christ's ministry and sacrifice. In both cases the language used is determined wholly by the Adam stories and is most probably not intended as metaphysical assertions about individuals in the first century AD.


I must confess that I am yet to read Christology in the Making in its fullnes, but I remember Dunn saying the same thing in The Theology of the Apostle Paul. Anyways, I have never really understood what Dunn is trying to say here, and if I have, it does seem to be a little bit far fetched (or I am simply to stupid to understand what he is trying to say. That might very well be it :-) ). So there never was a real time when Jesus chose not to grasp after equality with God, just as there never was a time when Paul lived apart from the law? Was there than a real decision of Christ part?

A footnote in the New American Bible makes the same point:

Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or ". . . taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance."
While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ's pre-existence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to pre-existence (see the note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6-8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus' human state (Phil 2:6-7b; 7cd-8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.


Thank you for the quote. I have been thinking a lot over the issue of punctiation and the use of the participles in the hymn. Given the parallel structure between "taking the form of a servant" and "being made in likeness of men", both placing the aorist participles at the end of the clause, might be an indication that they ought to be taken as belonging to one another, rather than the second participle clause being taken with the "and found human appearance". Although I might be wrong on this, and the alternative given by NAB is quite appealing.

I wrote:

But then again, perhaps not since you wrote: "If other people want to take it as a reference to Jesus' birth, that's fine" Is it possible to hold such a view without seeing personal pre-existence in the text?


You responded:

Yes, absolutely.


I also wrote: If so, would you care to elaborate?

and you responded with:

Jesus was in the form of God at his birth, just like every other human. In his ministry he took the form of a servant.


I won't argue with that, yet chronologically the birth of Jesus is in v. 7, and the Jesus is already a person existing in the form of God in v. 6. Unless you can perhaps expound upon the Romans 7 parallel, it does so appear that this text creates a difficulty for the Christadelphian position (assuming of course that v. 7 is about the birth of Jesus). This text is for me the most difficult one to reconcile with a non-preexistent Jesus.

This is how I summarise the passage:

  • Despite being in the form of God and exemplifying His image perfectly, Jesus understood that equality with the Father was not something to be grasped at or stolen (unlike Adam, who hoped to seize it).

  • Instead, Jesus made himself nothing (unlike Adam, whose pride led to his fall), deliberately adopting a humble appearance as if he was merely a servant, and acting obediently in that role all the way to his death on the cross.

  • Consequently, God exalted Jesus and gave him a name above every name, so that everyone will bow the knee at the name of Jesus and confess him as Lord — to the glory of God, the Father.


Very helpful paraphrase. Most people who do not believe in pre-existence often drop v. 7b and v. 8 when trying to paraphrase the hymn.

Another question, if "form of God" is somewhat equalilent to "image of God", then is "form of a servant" equalient to "image of a servant"?

Help me out? I'm so confused ._.


Sure, "form of a servant" can be equivalent to "image of a servant." They both refer to outward appearance.


A few things that I can't help but think about:

If all are in the image of God, and since Jesus had no right to usurp equality with God, then what made his emptying and humbling... humble? As James White has said (paraphrased): Not to seek after equality with God is not humble, it is simply just not committing blasphemy.

And if all people are in the image of God and have no right to grasp equality with God, then how is "coming in the likeness of men" (who are in the image of God) and "taking the form of a servant" (which is the right attitude) put in contrast to "being in the form of God"?

Is it possible to understand the emptying as Jesus emptied himself the form of God and took the form of a servant? If men were created in the image of God, why is it a good thing to take the form of a servant? Perhaps this has to do with Paul's choice of using the nuance of form of God rather than image of God? I'll shut up now.


Sorry for the long post. :-) This is what my head is constantly full of. Needed somewhere to dump it.


Take care and God bless
Pär

Edited by Evangelion, 27 September 2011 - 01:22 AM.
fixed quote tags


#15 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:21 AM

Hi Pär, good to hear from you again. I am busy with coursework for my Bachelor of Theology this week, so it might be a few days before I can write a comprehensive reply.

God bless.

:)

Edited by Evangelion, 27 September 2011 - 01:23 AM.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#16 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:43 AM

Hi Pär, good to hear from you again. I am busy with coursework for my Bachelor of Theology this week, so it might be a few days before I can write a comprehensive reply.

God bless.

:)



Take your time :-) I received my BA in Religious studies Diploma yesterday.

Good luck

#17 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 27 September 2011 - 05:06 AM

Congratulations!

:)
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#18 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:46 PM

Thank you and... a predestined congratulation to you as well :)

#19 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 30 September 2011 - 05:51 PM

Christology in the Making arrived yesterday and things are making more sense now. :-)

#20 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 01 October 2011 - 05:33 AM

:)

It's a truly excellent book. I can also recommend Dunn's Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence.

I have some coursework to finish this weekend, but I should be back on Monday to answer your latest post about Philippians 2.
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#21 Evangelion

Evangelion

    Omega

  • Christadelphian MD
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 22,352 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 02:57 PM

Hi Pär, hope I haven't kept you waiting too long.

:)

[quote name='Pogotrucci' timestamp='1317063506' post='426457']It does seem that προτοτοκος is used in reference to the resurrected Christ so I guess that will count in favor of your understanding of Col 1:15. (I'm note sure were I stand in reference to Hebrews 1:6. The context seems to be post-resurrection rather than incarnational; but nevertheless, I'm not sure to what extent the author of Hebrews should influence our understanding of Paul's use of the phrase). Do you understand "all creation" in v. 15 as referring exclusively to the new creation, or to both old and new? If the latter, then given the use of οτι vv. 15-17 would need to be in reference to the old creation.

Arguments that would seem to support an understanding of firstborn as "firstborn of the old creation" would perhaps be the very use wisdom imagery, and that similar passages deal with the old creation (John 1:1-3, and perhaps Heb 1:2. Obviously these share a single source so it would not be impossible to guess they share a similar meaning)[/quote]

I understand Colossians 1:15 as a reference to the new creation.

[quote]How do you feel about understanding the passage as (I think) you understand John 1:1-3.[/quote]

You will need to tell me how you think I understand John 1:1-3. Then I can tell you if it fits Colossians 1.

[quote]The thrones, dominions and principalities all refer to angelic realm if I have understood it correctly.[/quote]

On what basis do you reach this conclusion? It is not stated in the text, so you must be importing it from somewhere. The question is, where?

[quote]Whether or not we can find such language in Genesis 1-2 is not overly relevant since Paul is emphaσιzing certain created objects among the "all things" which were relevant to the argument of his epistles. It is clear from Eph 3:10 that these created things are present even in the current age/creation. Is it not these powers and authorities that were defeated on the cross (Col 2:10; 15)? Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions to quickly though. I must confess that I have not read that many commentaries on Colossians.[/quote]

I don't see 'thrones, dominions, principalities and powers' mentioned in Ephesias 3:10. The rulers and authorities of Colossians 2:10 are entirely mundane as far as I can tell. Notice this is all within the context of a contrast between Christ's liberating sacrifice and the bondage of the Law. Supernatural powers are not in view.

[quote]And even if the language of Genesis 1-2 is not present, the language of wisdom is, and passages such as Proverbs 8 do all refer to the original creation, does it not? However, with that said, it is not impossible for Paul to make a point about the new creation using such texts.[/quote]

I would expect new creation texts to mirror old creation texts. The wisdom language is useful here, as in the Johannine Prologue.

[quote]If v. 7 speaks of Christ's birth, then v. 6 would imply pre-existence? Would it not? Since v. 6 contains the active actions of a person.[/quote]

No. Why would it imply pre-existence? Bear in mind that I don't believe verse 7 refers to Jesus' birth, so this is a moot point anyway.

[quote](digression: v.7b and v.8 seems to be best understood as incarnational. Given that γινομαι is used in reference to Messiahs birth (Gal 4:4, Rom 1:3) and when we take into consideration "in likeness of sinful flesh" in Rom 8:3, which on its own appears to be incarnational, it seems to strongly point towards v.7 is referring to the birth of Jesus, and if so, then Christ has an "active personal" existence prior to this stage.)[/quote]

γίνομαι is used in reference to many things. Look at Matthew 10:16 ('therefore be wise as serpents') and I Thessalonians 2:8 ('because you are dear to us'). There's nothing magical about this word. You're reading it as if it meant 'pre-existing', which it doesn't. Romans 8:3 says God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh; where's the incarnational language here? John was also sent from God (John 1:6) but nobody assumes this involved pre-existence.

[quote]Few who hold to the pre-existence view would probably claim that Messiah ceased being in the form of God (especially given the present participle υπαρχων)[/quote]

True! But I don't claim Jesus ceased to be in the form of God either.

[quote]So there never was a real time when Jesus chose not to grasp after equality with God, just as there never was a time when Paul lived apart from the law? Was there than a real decision of Christ part?[/quote]

Dunn does not say there was never a real time when Jesus chose not to grasp after equality with God. He says there was never a time when Jesus was 'in the form of God' without being 'like men.' Thus:

[quotename="James D. G. Dunn"]Phil. 2.6-11 is simply a way of describing the character of Christ's ministry and sacrifice. In both cases the language used is determined wholly by the Adam stories and is most probably not intended as metaphysical assertions about individuals in the first century AD.[/quote]

To put it another way, there was never a time when Jesus didn't choose not grasp after equality with God. His whole life was one of service to the Father and humanity. Every day of his life was a decision to submit rather than to usurp.

[quote][quote]Jesus was in the form of God at his birth, just like every other human. In his ministry he took the form of a servant.[/quote]

I won't argue with that, yet chronologically the birth of Jesus is in v. 7, and the Jesus is already a person existing in the form of God in v. 6. Unless you can perhaps expound upon the Romans 7 parallel, it does so appear that this text creates a difficulty for the Christadelphian position (assuming of course that v. 7 is about the birth of Jesus). This text is for me the most difficult one to reconcile with a non-preexistent Jesus.[/quote]

I don't believe the birth of Jesus is in verse 7. I don't even know how anyone could argue this.

[quote]A few things that I can't help but think about:

If all are in the image of God, and since Jesus had no right to usurp equality with God, then what made his emptying and humbling... humble? As James White has said (paraphrased): Not to seek after equality with God is not humble, it is simply just not committing blasphemy.[/quote]

What made it humble was the fact that he lived a life of service rather than the life of authority and rule which was rightfully his. Paul even tells us this:

[quote]He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross![/quote]

As far as Paul is concerned, that's what made it humble.

[quote]And if all people are in the image of God and have no right to grasp equality with God, then how is "coming in the likeness of men" (who are in the image of God) and "taking the form of a servant" (which is the right attitude) put in contrast to "being in the form of God"?[/quote]

Coming in the likeness of men is not put in contrast to being in the form of God. The contrast is between 'being in the form of God' and 'did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped.' It's a deliberate reference to the fall of Adam.

'Taking on the form of a slave' and 'looking like other men' are given as descriptions of the way he emptied himself.

[quote]Is it possible to understand the emptying as Jesus emptied himself the form of God and took the form of a servant?[/quote]

Only if we radically redefine 'form of God.' Even Trinitarians aren't prepared to say that Jesus lost the form of God in order to take the form of a servant. That's textbook kenosis theology; the idea that a pre-existent Christ surrendered his deity in order to assume humanity.

[quote]If men were created in the image of God, why is it a good thing to take the form of a servant?[/quote]

I think Paul's point is that it's a good thing for the Son of God (Messiah and King of the Jews) to take the form of a servant in order to serve and save those who are lower than himself.

[quote]Perhaps this has to do with Paul's choice of using the nuance of form of God rather than image of God? I'll shut up now.[/quote]

'Form' here is μορφή and simply refers to outward appearance (cf. Mark 16:12). So it wouldn't make any difference if he'd said 'image.'
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo

#22 Pogotrucci

Pogotrucci
  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 03:08 PM

Thank you for your response :-) I got some thinking to do.

#23 Frank4YAHWEH

Frank4YAHWEH

    Alpha

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 10 posts

Posted 16 November 2011 - 03:50 AM

Peace greetings ALL,

Could someone please explain to me the passage of Philippians 2:5- and why this is not speaking of Yahshua pre-existing his birth as "God" or "a god"?

Thank you!

Edited by Frank4YAHWEH, 16 November 2011 - 03:50 AM.

[ALL] Praise Be To YAHWEH! "HalleluYAH[WEH]!" Yahshua Gave All Esteem [Glory] To Father Yahweh (Yahchanan [John] 3:34; 4:26; 5:19,30; 7:16,18,28, 8:17,18,28,42,50; 12:47-50; 14:24; 17:8; Mattithyah [Matthew] 20:23; 26:39; Acts 3:22,26).

#24 Chrlsp

Chrlsp

    Mu

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 16 November 2011 - 09:53 PM

Jesus displayed all the characteristics of God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

When Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit which dwelt in him, displayed all the characteristics of the Father, he recognized himself as God, as did others.

And, although Jesus exemplified the characteristics of God, as being equal with God, he humbled himself and exemplified the characteristics of a servant and a man by being tempted as men do and dying as men do.

"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." (Php 2:6-2:8)



Peace greetings ALL,

Could someone please explain to me the passage of Philippians 2:5- and why this is not speaking of Yahshua pre-existing his birth as "God" or "a god"?

Thank you!



#25 nsr

nsr

    Order of the Golden Pedant 2nd Class

  • Forum Manager
  • 6,370 posts

Posted 16 November 2011 - 10:42 PM

Peace greetings ALL,

Could someone please explain to me the passage of Philippians 2:5- and why this is not speaking of Yahshua pre-existing his birth as "God" or "a god"?

Thank you!

Because that would contradict the rest of the Bible.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users