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Biblical paradoxes and the way of life

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Archives / 2016 / September



Biblical paradoxes and the way of life

Jonas Arrais , Jonas Arrais

Jonas Arrais, DMin, is editor of Elder’s Digest and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

Jonas Arrais, DMin, is editor of Elder’s Digest and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.



Several interesting paradoxes are found in the Bible. Among the most fascinating ones that have puzzled generations of Bible students are these:

• The Trinity—How can three persons be one?

• Divine sovereignty—How can man be free to choose if God is Sovereign?

• The deity of Christ—How can Jesus be fully God and fully man?

• The Crucifixion—How can God be eternally alive and yet die?

• God’s omnipresence—How can God manifest Himself in several places at the same time?

Apart from these theological questions, a cursory reading of the biblical text points to even more paradoxes:

• We find by losing: “ ‘He who finds his life shall lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it’ ”  (Matt. 10:39).*

• We become great by becoming small: “ ‘Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 18:4).

• The first will be last: “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16, KJV).

• We are exalted by being humble: “ ‘Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’ ” (Matt. 23:12).

• We rule by serving: “ ‘Whoever would be great among you must be slave of all’ ” (Mark 10:43).

• We receive by giving: “Give, and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38, KJV).

• Our weakness is our strength: “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ ”  (2 Cor. 12:9).

• We live by dying: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live” (Gal. 2:20, KJV).

However, one of the most intriguing paradoxes in Scripture relates to the one regarding Jesus’ divinity in relation to His humanity. This concept has challenged theologians and scholars for centuries. Despite the threat of Arian theology in the fourth century, orthodoxy has always defended the fullness of Jesus’ divinity alongside His humanity. Nonetheless, questions still arise: how are we to balance these two natures of Jesus? Is the language of “nature” even appropriate to address the biblical portrayal of the personhood of Jesus? There are moments that Jesus’ humanity seems questionable but other moments that His divinity seems debatable.

The lead article in this issue, written by Ekkehardt Mueller, examines one of the most challenging verses in the Bible, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36, KJV). Mueller plunges into the biblical text while keeping in mind the theological flow of the book of Matthew, as well as the Bible as a whole. The result is a fascinating glimpse into the complexity of the Trinity and the humanness of Jesus.

May these concepts expand your perspective of the biblical text and the Divinity that works for the salvation of humanity, and most important of all, may you apply these insights to your way of life. The Jesus of the biblical text is coming soon!

* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the Revised Standard Version

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