The Unique Jesus
R. E. LOASBY Professor of Biblical Languages, S.D.A. Theological Seminary
Students of the Bible who have studied, the social and religious history of New Testament times are acquainted with the cult of emperor worship that had so tremendous a vogue. Numerous ostraca, inscriptions in marble, and many Greek papyri attest that divine titles were given to emperors, who were addressed as Kurios, "Lord," and Theos, "God," quite in the manner of the New Testament application to God and Christ. An informative work for more than thirty years in this field is Light From the Ancient East, by Adolf Deissmann.
The title Kurios, Lord, has its origin in Hebrew and Aramaic sources, in that the LXX uses it to translate the Hebrew name "Jehovah." When, therefore, the apostle Paul uses this word more than three hundred times in his numerous applications to Jesus Christ, he is most certainly applying it to Him in its strictest sense of divinity. It is not improbable that when Festus used this word of Nero (Acts 25:26, "to write unto my lord"), whereas he may primarily have had in mind the supreme political authority as vested in Nero, he was also not unaware of the theocratic character of the title as applied to the emperor. The application of this word Kurios in the New Testament as a designation of divinity is, however, but an introduction to that variety and mass of evidence by which the apostle Paul in particular sets forth the divinity and equality of Jesus Christ as a member of the Godhead.
A Rule of Greek Grammar
Part of that evidence is the fact that a rule of Greek grammar states the truth that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, is equal to, and identical in essence with, the Father. The rule reads: "When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, if the article ho or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle; i.e., it denotes a farther description of the first-named person." H. E. DANA and JULIUS R. MANTEY, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (1943), p. 147. See also A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1919), p. 785.
As applied to men, an application of this rule is seen in Ephesians 4:11, where Paul speaks of some of the gifts God gave. In this verse the words "apostles," "prophets," "evangelists," have their own separate definite Greek article, thereby making each a distinct class. But of the words "pastors" and "teachers," the first has the definite Greek article, but "teachers" does not have it, and the two words are joined by the epexegetical particle "and." This makes these two words refer to one class: Shepherds, that is, teachers, meaning elders of local churches who were teaching-pastors. In such a case the second word is a further description of the first word. This rule also applies to the words "God" and "Father" when the word "God" has the definite article and "Father" does not, and both are connected by the particle "and." See Romans 15:6, where the first Person of the God head, who is to be glorified, is the more precisely defined as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." In this text the word "God" has the definite Greek article, but "Father" does not, and both are joined by the conjunction "and." This, in harmony with the rule of Greek gram mar, makes the second term a further description of the first. Numerous examples are found, as 1 Cor. 15:24; 2 Cor. 1:3; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:20; 1 Thess. 1:3; 3:11, 13. This same rule is applied to Jesus Christ in the expression, "Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11). Believers are promised the en trance into the eternal kingdom. The definite article with "entrance" is given in the Greek text, referring to the very act of entering into the eternal kingdom which had been so dili- gently preached. This eternal kingdom is described as that of "our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Here "Lord" has the definite article, but "Saviour" does not. Both are joined by the conjunction "and." So the One set forth as "Lord" is also further described as the "Saviour." Other examples of this same usage are found in 2 Peter 2:20; 3:18. These should be compared with 2 Peter 1:1, where we have the expression "through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Here the rule again applies: "God" has the definite article, but "Saviour" does not, and both are joined by the conjunction "and." The reference is, then, to but one person: "through the righteousness of God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ." The same rule applies to verse 2: "through the knowledge of God even Jesus our Lord." Here the apostle substitutes Kurios, "Lord," for Soter, "Saviour." As believers we must have a full knowledge the apostle does not use gnosis, "knowledge," which may be a false knowledge, but epignosis, a full, true knowledge, a knowledge that can never be false. Such a knowledge has its source in Jesus Christ, who is God, Lord, and Saviour (see 2 Thess. 1:12; Titus 2:13; Eph. 5:5; Jude 4).
A verse that in the KJV apparently suggests two Persons of the Godhead, but is seen in the Greek to be speaking of but one Person, is Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
Church history tells us that the Arians ap plied the expression "our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" to two persons, referring the first one, "our great God," to the Father. A study of the details of the text forbids any such exegesis. The apostle is entreating Titus and his company of believers to continue to wait expectantly for the second coming of Jesus Christ. This coming he describes literally as the out ward manifestation of the glory. This outward manifestation in glory is never ascribed by Paul to the Father; it is used only of the second coming of Christ at the end of time (see 1 Cor. 1:7, 8; Phil. 1:6; 3:20; 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14, 15; 2 Tim. 4:1). Moreover, if two Persons of the Godhead were referred to, the Greek definite article that precedes "great God" would also have to be repeated before "Saviour."
The Greek word epiphania, translated here "appearing," occurs in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 with the Greek word parousia, "coming," which word can never be applied to the Father. This term translated "appearing," used in Titus 2:13 and Page 14 2 Thessalonians 2:8 with its stress on outward manifestation, literally says, "with the openly manifested brightness of his coming." The Per son of the Father remains invisible (Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17), but the Son is to have a parousia, a coming in great glory before all men (Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28).
In harmony with the rule of Greek grammar, we have in our verse the definite article before "great God," but not before "our Saviour"; and these two expressions are joined by the con junction "and." This makes the term "our Saviour Jesus Christ" refer to "the great God," as one Person, and is a further elucidation and description of "the great God." So Paul is exhorting Titus to keep on waiting for the open, personal appearance in glory of "the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ."
Exegetical Studies in Ephesians—Part V The Warfare of the Christian
ADLAI ALBERT ESTEB Editor, "Go," the Journal for Adventist Laymen Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10-20 (Moffatt)
As we journey through the wonderful treasure house of Ephesians we are permitted to glimpse some of the wealth of the Christian, the unsearchable riches of Christ the riches of grace and the riches of glory. We also have opportunity to notice something of the walk and the work of the Christian, and now we notice in this sixth chapter the reference to the warfare of the Christian. So we look now into God's armory the room in which the Christian's armor is stored. We shall not have time to elaborate upon the sevenfold panoply of heaven's armor for us. However, we shall enumerate the parts and comment briefly.
But, first, notice a phrase in this sixth chapter of Ephesians that is very significant in view of what we have found in chapters 1 and 3. It is a phrase that makes us realize that the enlightenment, the enlistment, the ennoblement, the enrichment, referred to in those chapters are to prepare for enlargement. They are to prepare the Christian for the conflict of the sixth chapter. They are to equip and to prepare us for successful crusades and conquests for Christ, which result in the enlargement of the church. There was a time when I thought it was somewhat of a letdown to read the last chapters of Ephesians after reading the first three chapters. In those glorious early chapters Paul has led us step by step up to where he has brought us into the very presence of God and has prayed for us that climax of all prayer that we might be "filled with all the fulness of God." It seemed like a rude awakening to dis cover that we are still here on earth with a war on our hands. We must continue our walk on earth among the Gentiles and continue to fight the good fight of faith. But there is a purpose in that.
Paul kept his feet upon the earth while his eyes were scanning the skies, searching for clearer glimpses of God and His glory. We are led from our rags to His riches, from grace to glory, from the eternity of the past to the eternity of the future, but then in the last of Ephesians we find we are still here with a battle to be fought. Paul is not only doctrinal but very practical. He points out that there is a purpose in all he has written. It is to prepare us to stand to stand as knights in shining coats of mail, in the sevenfold pan oply of heaven's armor. Here is the list of the armor in the sixth chapter: "1. The girdle of the "truth" ("tighten the belt of truth," Eph. 6:14, Moffatt). 2. The breastplate of Christ's "righteousness" (Eph. 6:14). 3. The sandals of "preparation" to preach the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). Sandals ready for the revelation and ready for the road. 4. The shield of faith (Eph. 6:15). 5. The helmet of salvation's hope (Eph. 6:17). 6. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). 7. The radio of the Spirit, "prayer" (Eph. 6:18). Paul urges that -we "put on the whole armour of God." We are not to go into battle only partially equipped. We need to put on every bit of the armor the whole armor and then go forth as knights in shining coats of mail. Now notice the phrase that is so significant: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Eph. 6:10). We need strength for the warfare. "His might," "his power," is a vital part, an indispensable part, of the Christian's armor. We got a glimpse of that power as we entered the vestibule in this treasure house .of Ephesians. Now as we look into the armory we hear the command: "Put on the whole armour of God." His power is stored in His armory. That is a great phrase, which we first found in chapter 1, verse 19, but we have not had much opportunity to dwell on it. It is that little phrase, "his power," concerning which Paul prayed that we might understand "what is the exceeding greatness of JUNE, 1954 his power" (Eph. 1:19). Well, what is it? Let us study it and see if we can learn, (1) the meaning, (2) the magnitude, (3) the manifestation, and (4) the measure of that power.
1. The meaning: The word power here in the Greek is dunamis, from which we get dynamite, dynamo, dynamic, etc. That gives us something of the meaning.
2. The magnitude: It is a power of surpassing and incalculable greatness. We have already mentioned the sun with its power to melt 287,- 200,000 cubic miles of ice every second. And that is just one little sun He has made. Incalculable! We can't fathom it. It is his prayer that we might know the "greatness of his power" and also the height and depth and the length and breadth of the "love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." It passes human knowledge. Then how can we know its magnitude? But we know this there is sufficient power for the commencement, the continuance, and the con summation of our salvation! There is all we need. It is sufficient for every demand of every saint.
3. The manifestation of that love and power. We see it manifested first at creation; we see it also in the exodus of Israel. It is of interest and value to study those records they were all written for our learning. Furthermore, we dis cover it in our own deliverance, our "exodus." He truly has wrought with power a marvelous work of grace in every one of our lives. You are here because of that love and power. But Paul said, "according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." That is creative power a new creation working in behalf of every child of God. That is resurrection power! I went into that tomb one day that empty tomb in Jerusalem. I also went into the Garden of Gethsemane. When you kneel there you begin to see something of that love. When He prayed in the garden the three disciples were asleep. Eight of them were quarreling and arguing about who would be the greatest, and another one was with the mob just outside the gate, coming to sell Him with a kiss. He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39). The manifestation of that love led Him to make the decision in the gar den, led Him to Calvary, led Him into the tomb, and yet He came out triumphant in the resurrection.
4. The measure: We find the reference to the "breadth, and length, and depth, and height." Notice it is fourfold: "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).
Then Christ is the source of all our wealth, the standard for our walk, the sufficiency for our -work, and the strength for our warfare. We have found this theme to be the theme of the book the unsearchable riches of Christ. When I knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane that morning and arose, I knew I would never be the same again. I don't believe anyone can go into that garden and try to pray the prayer of Christ and be the same again. I opened my eyes. God was so near that I felt I should be able to see Him. Instead, I saw something else. I was looking into the face of a flower a little white jasmine, a fragrant flower. I had not seen it before. It was so beautiful, I wanted it. I reached for it. "No don't take it!" "But, Lord, I want to take it home with me!" "You take that thorn." Then I saw it a little farther away. I hadn't noticed the thorn either. I shrank back from it. "No, I want the flower. It will be such a wonderful reminder of this sweet experience in Gethsemane!" "Not the flower; take the thorn. It will be a better reminder." Then I remembered: "No thorn, no throne. No sweat, no sweet; no cross, no crown." I took the thorn! No sooner had I done it than came the sweet assurance, "Now you may have the flower."
So many of us want the beauty and fragrance and joy of religion. We want the beauty of life, the music of life, and shrink back from the pain. "No, don't ask me to suffer for it; don't ask me to pay a price for it!"
Friends, let's take the thorn, remembering that the way of the cross leads home! In that cross we have the purest revelation of the love of God. We have the finest manifestation and measure of the love of Christ, high enough to reach heaven, low enough to reach you and me, to save to the uttermost, and pointing east and west around the world, showing it is broad enough to take in everyone.
The love of Christ is greater than anything else. "Looking upon the crucified Redeemer, we more fully comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven. The plan of salvation is glorified before us, and the thought of Calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our hearts. Praise to God and the Lamb will be in our hearts and on our lips; for pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary." The Desire of Ages, p. 661. (Italics supplied.) He loves us with an unfathomable love. Let us keep our eyes open for fresh revelations of His love and power, His grace and glory. Let us keep our eyes open, with nothing between our soul and the Saviour. May you continue to enjoy greater riches as you possess your possessions, your wealth, the unsearchable riches of Christ. May that wealth of love and power keep you and help you in your walk, your work, and your warfare. We must abide in Christ and have Christ abiding in us if we are to have the character and conduct required to conquer in the conflicts of life.