Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
For God is one and there is one
mediator between God and human
beings: the HUMAN, Anointed Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5, emphasis mine).
Pre-Existence and the Messiah!
The Messiah of the New Testament is the MAN who undid Adam's wrong. Confronted with the same choice he rejected Adam's sin, but nevertheless of his own free will followed Adam's course as FALLEN MAN to the bitter end of death, at which time YEHOVAH God bestowed on him the status which Adam was intended to have: YEHOVAH's final prototype -- the last Adam! Adam was not thought of as preexistent -- nor was the Messiah; Adam was NOT a copy of a pre-existent Messiah but "a type of him who was to come" (Romans 5:14). Paul makes it abundantly clear that the Messiah is second. The Messiah is NOT prior to Adam -- he comes AFTER Adam, he is the last Adam.
by John M. Bland
Regardless of your view on the subject of the nature of the Messiah, certain difficult scriptures must be considered. Jehovah's Witnesses deal with the "pre-existence" of the Messiah (while maintaining the view of "One God") by teaching that the "Holy Spirit" is simply the influence of YEHOVAH God, while the Messiah was created first and then he created all other things. The Messiah, then, as a created being is a "lesser god".
Some others, such as the Seventh Day Adventists and the World Wide Church of God, claim a duality of Deity viz, YEHOVAH God the Father and God the Son are deity, but deny deity to the "Holy Spirit". The "Jesus Only" model suggests that the Messiah was in fact all "three" manifestations (majesties) of God, and thus endow the attributes of "Trinity" to the Messiah while maintaining the "oneness" principle.
Everyone, it seems, has trouble dealing with the nature of Yeshua the Messiah.
Those who perpetuated the doctrine of "Holy Trinity" contained in the Nicene Creed described it themselves as arising from "propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them!" Are serious Bible students supposed to hang their brains on the wall because the men who championed this theology in the first place didn't even understand it themselves?
There can be no disagreement that synoptic gospel historians (Matthew and Luke) record the birth of Yeshua of Nazareth in Bethlehem of Judea in 3 BC. Mark and John both begin their accounts at the advent of John the Baptist's ministry as forerunner to the Messiah. Even those who deny the historical reliability of the scriptures agree that the Messiah existed. It is easy to conclude from their testimony that the "man" Yeshua was born and did not pre-exist.
However, even disallowing claims of Trinitarians that God was "incarnate" in this man, there can be no doubt that the Messiah was unique among all human predecessors in that he was the HUMAN son of Joseph and Mary, who became the "only begotten son of God" after his resurrection.
Only one other man shared a comparable uniqueness and that was Adam. Adam possessed no earthy parents but was created from the earth. Paul refers to this connection by calling the Messiah the "last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). However, proving that the Messiah was unique among humanity does not prove that he was actually "God in the flesh" or that he pre-existed in some way any more than the uniqueness of Adam proved his literal pre-existence.
In fact, it was the raw material of their being that actually pre-existed both Adam and the Messiah. In Adam's case, it was the dust from which he was created. In the case of the Messiah, it was the spirit of YEHOVAH God that he had in "full measure" after his anointing in 28 A.D. In both examples viz, a lifeless body and a fully grown man, the spirit of YEHOVAH God "breathed". On the one hand, YEHOVAH "breathed" into Adam's nostrils "the breath of life". One the other hand, YEHOVAH "breathed" into the man Yeshua "the life giving spirit." Adam, then, was the only created son of YEHOVAH God, whereas as the Messiah was the only "begotten" son of YEHOVAH God after his resurrection. In Adam's case the holy spirit brought him to physical life, while the holy spirit brought the Messiah to spiritual life.
That the Messiah was 100% man cannot be doubted from scripture either. The Hebrew writer describes his humanity like this --
Therefore, since the children shared blood and flesh, he likewise partook of those things, so that through death he might deprive of his energy the one who has the strength of death -- that is, the Accuser...For surely he does not take hold of messengers, but he takes hold of Abraham's seed. Consequently, he was bound to be made in all ways like his brothers, so that he would become a merciful and trustworthy high priest regarding the things that lead toward God -- to the point of making atonement for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:14, 16-17, emphasis mine).
These verses do not say that the Messiah was formed in some ways like his brothers but in "all ways." This knowledge, then, fashions the dilemma of this discussion. Since no other humans have been described as "God incarnate" by many (the Bible describes no person in such terms), or have claimed to be such in the holy writ, it makes it hard to reconcile a theology that claims that the Messiah was just that -- literally "God in the flesh."
It is common to hear some say that the Messiah was 100% God and 100% man. This was what the framers of the Nicene Creed were attempting to say by their "obscure" language:
... the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: And was made man.
The obvious question to such a theme -- in the light of what the Hebrew writer so confidently affirms -- is how could this be true and the Messiah still be described as 100% human? The Messiah, himself, said that "God is spirit" (John 4:24). YEHOVAH God attests that man is dust! "For dust you are and dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). Wouldn't this make the Messiah a schizophrenic in the truest sense of the word? Biblical scholar and author John Knox states this enigma quite well --
You can have a human Jesus without pre-existence or a non-human Jesus with pre- existence. There is absolutely no way of having both (The Humanity and Divinity of Christ, p. 106).
Some Trinitarians attempt to argue from the Hebrews text that since the Messiah was said to have shared in "blood and flesh" it implies pre-existence. However, this argument will not hold water. The same sharing is also applied to the "children," and no one argues that they pre-existed in order to partake of "blood and flesh"!
I suppose that we could argue, as the Mormons do, that there are multitudes of "spirit babies" extant just waiting for a human infant to inhabit, but we certainly cannot so argue from scripture. And the Trinitarian view claims this is true as far as the Messiah was concerned, except in this case the "Second" person of God was that "spirit baby".
There are many verses in the Bible, however, that seem to imply a "pre-existent quality" to the Messiah and we will examine most of them. The method whereby people reconcile these verses with the above Hebrews declaration of the Messiah's 100% humanity is what determines their theology. As previously mentioned, a person will not arrive at a comfortable position about this question without serious study and thought. Milton C. Burtt, in his pamphlet on this subject, described what it takes to deal with the difficult passages pertaining to this very subject:
... a very difficult passage for either side of the question. Superficial thinking will only skim the surface. We must cogitate. Observe these facts and reason there from (Biblical Christology, p. 17).
The Real Meaning of "Anointed" (Messiah)
It is necessary to consider the Biblical definition of "Anointed" if we are going to be able to understand its concept in the theologies under discussion. In my opinion, there are few errors that have been more confusing than translating the Greek word cristoV (christos) and its derivative, "Christ." In reality, the English word "Christ" is not a translation at all but an Anglicizing of the Greek word cristoV. In rendering cristoV "Christ", the KJV translators were following the theology already well entrenched in Romanism and the Church of England. Because of its universal use, it has been virtually understood by many to be the Messiah's last name. Had the translators even added a "the" in front of "Christ" it would have helped greatly, such as "Yeshua, the Christ." This would have at least informed the student that "Christ" was not actually a title or last name.
Consider this: In the New testament, cristoV (and its derivatives) is used 572 times (obviously a large number) and is actually translated but 6 times by the KJV translators and most other versions. You may wonder why they bothered with these 6 -- but their reasoning is traceable. Lets look at these six verses one at a time and in chronological order.
The first time is found in Luke 4:18 -19 and says this:
The Lord's spirit is upon me. On account of this, he has anointed [ecrise] me to announce a good message to the poor; he has sent me forth to herald a release to the captives and a restoration of sight to the blind; to send forth in freedom those who had been crushed; to herald the Lord's acceptable year.
This scripture is significant because it is a quote from the Old Testament and also defines what the function of this particular "anointed" is regarding Israel. We will examine it in some detail later but let's proceed with the others.
The next in order is found in Acts 4:27-8: Peter is laying the burden upon the Jewish leaders by accusing them of participating in the Messiah's death. He says,
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus whom thou hast anointed [ecrisaV], both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (KJV)
You might wonder why the KJV renders ecrisaV "Anointed" in this verse (27) rather than "Christ", especially in light of the proceeding verse (26) where cristou is transliterated "Christ" even though Peter was quoting Psalm 2:2 and which the KJV itself renders "Anointed" in the Old Testament Psalm.
But instead of going with "Anointed" in Acts 4:26, they give it as "Christ" and then translate ecrisaV "Anointed" in Acts 4:27. The reason is evident upon closer scrutiny. It would be cumbersome to render ecrisaV "Christ" in the past tense. You would come up with "Christed", and that would never do. This explains their reasoning in the Luke 4:18 verse also. The next use of "Anointed" rather than "Christ" can also be explained in light of Trinitarian theology and the difficulty they had with the past tense. It is found in Acts 10:38. Peter explains to the household of Cornelius about salvation thus:
How God anointed [ecrisen] Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.
In this verse, you can see the same dilemma. You cannot very well translate ecrisen "Christed" here either, now can you? It doesn't sound right to the ear and would mess everything up. However, if they had wanted to be consistent in the rendering of cristoV they would have done it anyway.
The next example is found in Hebrews 1:9, and is also a quote from Psalm 45:7. It reads thus --
Thou has loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed [ecrise] thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
In this instance, the KJV renders the verb "anointed" in both Old and New Testaments. Did they develop an real aversion to "Christed"? Wonders never cease, do they? Finally, they translate crisma "anointing" twice in 1 John 2:27. In this case crisma is applied to the believers being addressed by John rather than the Messiah. John writes:
But the anointing [crisma] which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing [crisma] teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
There are probably two reasons our friendly translators got it right in this verse. First, "Christing" sounds a little funny (almost as bad as "Christed") and second, the allusion to "anointing" is to someone other than the Messiah. What is interesting in this text, however, is that it expands on the definition of "anoint" which we will scrutinize as we proceed.
You can see that the KJV translators were actually "consistent". Yet their consistency was that they translated everything BUT the noun form anoint. It would have been too repugnant to the human ear to say "Christed" or "Christing" so they reverted to the translation process rather than continue to Anglicize. None of the problems of consistency occur if you just translate the word in the first place. "Anoint", "Anointed", "Anointing", "Anointed's" and "Anointeds" (in lieu of "Christians") are not only correct but also work nicely and give the intended meaning rather than obscure the text as does the anglicized "Christ". Let me illustrate the game they played with the definition and use of this word with one more verse. In John 1:41, the KJV reads like this:
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias [Messiah], which is, being interpreted, the Christ [cristoV].
Think about this verse for just a minute. Here you have Andrew telling his brother Simon that they have found the Jewish Messiah and that Messiah means cristoV in Greek, a language which they all had knowledge of. But the KJV does not translate cristoV and yet claims to do just that in the text, i.e., "being interpreted, the (they even added the definite article "the") Christ". Basically, what they said was, "being interpreted, the cristoV". How does that help you and I if we are not conversant with Greek? It is just another example of the translators laboring under the Trinitarian bias and the injunction of King James to keep the nomenclature of the Church of England! They would have done us all much more good if they had simply left the Greek word cristoV and its derivatives untranslated altogether.
Notice, they had no problem with interpreting the next verse:
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou are Simon, the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas [khjaV], which is by interpretation, a stone [petroV].
Had the KJV done the same as the proceeding verse they would have said, "which is by interpretation, Petros."
The result of their unwillingness to translate cristoV in the New Testament has clouded the definition of "anoint" and -- as has been previously mentioned -- caused "Christ" to become the Messiah's last name rather than a description of his choosing and function.
The literal definition of both the Greek and the Hebrew "anoint" is offered by Vine and agrees with all others:
chrisma ... [crisma] signifies an unguent, or an anointing. It was prepared from oil and aromatic herbs...(Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, vol i, p. 58).
Like "anoint", he defines "anointed" i.e., KJV "Christ" thus:
christos... [cristoV], anointed, translates, in the Sept., the word Messiah, a term applied to the priests who were anointed with the holy oil, particularly the High Priest, e.g., Lev. 4:3, 5, 16. The prophets are called hoi christoi Theou, "the anointed of God," Psa. 105:15. A king of Israel was described upon occasion as christos tou Kuriou, "the anointed of the Lord," 1 Sam. 1:14; Ps. 2:2; 18:50; Hab. 3:13; the term is used even of Cyrus, Is. 45:1.38
As you can note, Vine gives us the definition as well as a good sampling of the uses of "anoint" and "anointed." Even though Vine is a Trinitarian in theology, he acknowledges in his definition that the term "anointed" refers to several others besides the Messiah.
Though "anointed" literally means one who has had anointing oil poured upon him, it carries greater significance. The one "anointed" in the Bible was always chosen either directly or indirectly by YEHOVAH God. Even kings of other nations are sometimes "anointed" through YEHOVAH's prophets. In this manner, the term carries the idea of not only a specific choosing by the Almighty but also a particular function and purpose. Thus, in the Old Testament, you see priests, prophets, kings, holy utensils, etceteras described as "anointed." In one instance, the whole nation of Israel is called YEHOVAH's anointed (1 Chron. 16:22).
This is very important as we examine the term as it is applied to the Messiah and occasionally to his envoys (2 Cor. 1:21) and first century believers (1 John 2:27). There can be no doubt that the Messiah was a special "anointed". He was the "only begotten of the Father" and his "anointing" included miraculous power unlike John the Baptist's "anointing". The Messiah was not only an "anointed" prophet but also an "anointed" priest and later king.
As YEHOVAH's "anointed" then, he was chosen by YEHOVAH God and given a specific function and purpose within the confines of his "anointing." In addition, he was equipped with everything he needed to accomplish his task by YEHOVAH God the Father. Fortunately for US, his "anointing" included suffering and ultimately the death of atonement as well as his subsequent resurrection and coronation, etc. All of these attributes: his foreordination; his prophetic office; his priesthood; his atonement; and his reign are easily covered within the definition of "anointed". And none of these things require a literal pre-existence.
The Theology of John 1
The best place to start as we examine the theology of pre-existence is with the gospel according to John. No other historian of the Messiah alludes to the theme of "pre-existence" nearly to the extent that John does. Consequently, much of the theology existing today has been inspired by John's gospel. Not only is the interpretation of John primarily responsible for the view that the Messiah was "God incarnate" but it is also the main contributor to the doctrine that also includes the "Holy Spirit" among the "Godhead" -- thus the "Holy Trinity."
As mentioned in the introduction, a person's theology will color his translation of the Greek. Such is the case with the gospel of John. Undoubtedly, the theme of John is set forth in chapter one and is developed from there. As a matter of fact, the Roman Catholic commentary on the "Holy Trinity" was developed by alluding first to their translation of John 1:1-14. For this reason it behooves us to look at some of these verses first.
The KJV and most that have followed have rendered John 1:1 thus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Greek word translated "Word" is logoV (logos). Most scholars would agree that "word" is inadequate as a definition of logoV. Vine defines it thus:
"a. Denotes the expression of thought -- not the mere name of an object as embodying a conception or idea... b. A saying or statement..." (ibid., vol. iv, p. 229)
Doctor Adam Clark defines it in this fashion --
"It signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or the faculty of reasoning." (op. cit., Burtt, p. 10)
As previously mentioned, the entire original manuscript of John was penned in Greek capital letters. Given this fact, to capitalize this word in the English is to interpret its meaning and this is what the majority of versions do. Just the fact that they capitalize it in this verse proves their Trinitarian bias and paradigm. It does not mean that they are wrong in their theology; it only identifies what their theology was as they entered their labors. If you change the translation of logoV to a lower case "message" it carries a greater meaning than the English "Word" and changes completely the theology contained therein.
In addition to capitalizing and translating logoV "Word", they also translated the Greek word proV (pros) "with" -- which is not its general use in the accusative case. ProV, as with most prepositions, has a very strong directional sense. Chase and Phillips define its use in the accusative as:
To, towards, with reference to, according to (A New Introduction to Greek, p. 119).
ProV (Pros) is not the word in the Greek that would have been used if John wanted us to understand the "Word" was "with" God in the English sense. "Meta" (meta) would have been used to convey that sense. In John 1:1, I agree with those that render it as "directed toward". Another thing that happens with this verse in most English translations is the repositioning of the phrase "and 'God' was the logoV," which is the order it appears in the Greek text. Sometimes switching the sequence of a sentence does not influence the meaning but in this case an entire theology can be bolstered as a result. Therefore, you see it translated "and the Word was God" in most English translations instead of "and 'God' the message was".
Another important point that needs to be discussed here is that -- in the opinion of most Greek scholars -- at least the first portion of the John text is in poetic form. The poetic form that occurs is that the first word or principle meaning of the next sentence is the last word or principle meaning of the proceeding sentence. In view of this, let me quote what is in my opinion a superior translation of the passage:
In the beginning was the message,
And the message was directed toward God,
And "God" the message was.
As you can see illustrated by the above rendering, "message" is the last word of the first line and becomes the first primary word of the second line. "God" -- which is the last word of the second line is the first primary word of the next line. This poetic structure appears in other portions of the "prolog" to John, such as:
What has been done in it was life,
And the life was the light of humanity.
And the light shone in the darkness,
But the darkness did not understand it. (vv. 4-5)
As you can also see, a tremendous change in theology can be derived by the above translation. Let me emphasize that the above IS a valid rendering and that it is not a perversion designed to undermine the Trinitarian view. The translator, Frank Daniels, did NOT hold the view contained in this thesis when he translated John.
Translating the first verse with the lower case "message" rather than the upper case "Word" also causes the pronoun autoV (autos) -- translated "he" by the "authorized" versions -- to be translated "it", "this" or "the same" because it refers to a neuter "message" rather than a person "Word". Instead of the normal rendering of verse 2 which is,
"He [autoV] was in the beginning with [proV] God."
it is translated --
"The same [autoV] was directed toward [proV] God in the beginning."
The pronoun autoV will be masculine or neuter depending upon the gender of the word to which it refers. Of course, we all know that "word" is neuter anyway. However, the KJV assumed that logoV -- in this case -- was a male person, i.e., "Jesus Christ," so they rendered autoV "he." Do you see what I mean by translator bias? You don't need to be a Greek scholar to notice this bias if it is pointed out to you.
Even the "authorized" versions do not uniformly translate autoV "him" in verses 2 through 4. In verse 2 cited above, they render autoV "He". In verse 3, they give autoV as "him". However, in verse 4, they switch to "it". They are not being disingenuous here, only interpreting according to their paradigm. Instead of the KJV rendering,
All things were made by him [autoV]; and without him [autoV] was not any thing made that was made. In him [autoV] was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in darkness and the darkness comprehended it [autoV] not (emphasis and Greek mine).
the alternative would continue the poetic structure with a different and consistent translation of the pronoun autoV as follows:
Through it [autoV], all things were
And without it [autoV] nothing was done.
What has been done in it [autoV] was life.
And the life was the light of humanity.
And the light shone in the darkness.
But the darkness did not understand it [autoV].
Do you see the seeds of a "new" theology emerging? The "authorized" rendering of verses 3-5, certainly demonstrates the personification of the Greek logoV (translated and capitalized "Word") by the additional rendition of autoV as "he" and "him". On the other hand, by translating logoV "message" and (autoV) "it" you project an entirely different connotation to verse 14 -- which I believe states concisely the theme of the gospel of John -- whereas the "authorized" version gives it as:
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The alternative would read --
And the message was embodied (made flesh) and lived among us, and we observed its glory: glory like from a father's only son, full of favor and truth.
The "authorized" rendering of John 1:3-5 also strongly implies that the personified "Word" was the creator by translating the Greek word dia "by " instead of "through." Almost all later versions, including the RSV, NASV, ASV and NIV, correct this bias of the KJV and give it as "through." However, most follow the error that is compounded by translating egeneto (egeneto) -- a form of the word ginomai (ginomai) -- "made", strongly implying in this context create when the basic meaning is "happen"! Wilson aptly comments on its use here as follows:
"Ginomai occurs upwards of seven hundred times in the New Testament, but never in the sense of create, yet in most versions it is translated as though the word was ktizw (ktizo). 'The word appears fifty three times in John, and signifies to be, to come, to become, to come to pass; also, to be done or transacted" (The Emphatic Diaglott, p. 312).
Understand this, egeneto NEVER carries a "creation" meaning and is never translated such outside the four times rendered such in the first chapter of John (John 1:3,4, and 10) and in these cases the translators strongly suggest create by translating egeneto "made."
Are you beginning to understand the powerful influence of paradigm in the translation process? These men were brilliant scholars and certainly understood the English language and the nuances of word usage. It is easy to identify their bias in this example. I reiterate that it does not necessarily mean that their interpretation and theology was incorrect. It most assuredly shows, however, that their Trinitarian bias (coupled with their fear of King James whose many titles included "Defender of the Faith) "colored" their translation.
If we agree that the proper translation of egeneto is "were done" -- which fits this context -- you have the makings of a whole new interpretation. Instead of the logoV "message" being the creator itself, it becomes the reason that the "all things" under discussion in this text were "done." Therefore, the rendering
Through it, all things were done.
And without it nothing was done.
could be interpreted as saying that YEHOVAH God brought "all things" into focus historically through and on account of the pre-existent "message," and his whole plan was conceived and purposed toward this end. The next verse identifies the goal of this "message" as "life."
What has been done in it was life. And the life was the light of humanity.
This also explains verse one's description, "And 'God' the message was."
YEHOVAH God was the source, inspiration, and accomplisher of this plan and the pre-existent and forthcoming "message" would direct mankind toward this truth. YEHOVAH was the content of the message. The great Revelator, omnipotent and omniscient One described by Paul as one who "... calls things that are not as though they are" (Rom. 4:17), would be declared and glorified by a uniquely prepared individual -- the Anointed Yeshua. In other words, instead of having the person of the "Anointed" pre-existing as God, you have the "message" of the "Anointed" pre-existing and "directed toward God."
This message is the same message spoken to Abraham and Moses. A good example of this distinction can be seen in Ephesians 1:4. Paul writes that Christians were "chosen in him (the Anointed Yeshua) before the foundation of the world." No one argues from this verse that Christians literally pre-existed but that the plan and purpose of YEHOVAH for their redemption pre-existed. If this is true concerning the believer (the goal of the message), couldn't it also be true regarding the "Anointed" (messenger) himself? If not, why not? Simply put, YEHOVAH God had the believer in MIND before he existed so why could not the "Anointed" have existed only in YEHOVAH's MIND before it became flesh?
This view makes much more sense than trying to explain the Messiah as being both 100% God and 100% man at the same time. In addition, this principle can be enjoined in all references to the pre-existence of the "Anointed" in the New Testament. Even the difficulty of making the switch from the neuter pronoun to the masculine in the first chapter of John is removed when you understand that Yeshua of Nazareth was the "message" of YEHOVAH God personified rather than "God personified". So the "message" was embodied in the "flesh" in verse 14. We didn't observe the message itself, but the GLORY of the message, viz the embodiment of the message: The Messiah -- a he.
And the message was embodied and lived among us, and we observed its glory: glory like from a father's only son, full of favor and truth.
This view also agrees with John's use of the neuter in introducing the subject of 1 John. Here, John also introduces the Messiah from the standpoint of a neuter "message" rather than a person "he." Compare with John 1:1-4 and 1 John 1:1-2. John 1:1-4 has:
In the beginning was the message,
And the message was directed towards God,
And "God" the message was.
2 The same one was directed towards God in the beginning.
Through it, all things were done.
And without it nothing was done.
What has been done in it was life.
And the life was the Light of humanity.
In 1 John 1:1-2 he writes:
What was from the beginning,
What we heard, What we saw with our eyes,
What we observed and our hands felt
Concerning the message of life.
And the life appeared,
And we saw and are testifying and are declaring to you
the life, the eternal life,
which was directed toward the Father
and which appeared to us.
In 1 John 1:1-2, all scholars render the subject as neuter. Some translate it "that" instead of "what" but there is no difference in the meaning. John emphasizes that "what" they had seen and heard -- their "hands felt". When you think on it, a "what" would require substance of some sort in order to be heard, understood and felt, wouldn't it? And this is just what John is alluding to. Yeshua, as the Anointed, was the embodiment of the "message" of "life" -- the "message" that directed people towards the giver of life -- the "Father". This also agrees with the concept raised by the Messiah in John 14:19. There the Messiah taught Philip, "The one who has seen me has seen the Father." Was he saying they had literally seen YEHOVAH God? No one claims this is the case! If he did not intend it literally then how did he mean it? They had beheld the "message" of YEHOVAH God personified in him -- not YEHOVAH God Himself! Isn't this what John was teaching in John 1:18?
No one has ever seen God. The unique son, the one who is at the bosom of the Father, that one has related him.
In the above verse, the word translated "related" is exhghsato (exegesato) and is translated "declare" by the KJV. It is the word we derive our English word exegesis. Vine defines it as:
EXEGEOMAI (exhgeomai), lit., to lead out, signifies to make known, rehearse, declare... In John 1:18, in the sentence 'He hath declared Him,' the other meaning of the verb is in view, to unfold in teaching, to declare by making known. See Tell (op. cit., p. 265).
Yeshua, as the Anointed One, related to them everything that the "message" residing in him intended. Thus, through his life and teaching they had seen YEHOVAH God -- His character, His love, His desire for their deliverance and abundant life, etc. As they examined the Messiah, they beheld the "life" of John 1:4. As they lived with him, listened to him and touched him, they "heard...saw... felt...the message of life."
Not only is this view more sensible and consistent, but it also makes the unique man Yeshua even MORE compelling -- if that is possible. This will be developed in detail before the end of this article.
We fully realize that questioning the pre-existence of the "person" Yeshua places us considerably outside the mainstream. However, as previously mentioned, when we are dealing with a God that has the ability to "... call things that are not as though they are" -- we must be careful not to project literal meaning to things that He intended as figurative. That the perpetrators of the Trinitarian view are inconsistent when they apply pre-existence only to the Anointed Yeshua is easily proven.
There are several people in the Bible that were described as pre-existing. King David was one of those. The Psalmist describes his pre-existence in Psalm 139:14-16:
"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them" (emphasis mine).
While this Psalm is a remarkable description of the power and planning of the great YEHOVAH God, no theologian tries to literalize David's pre-existence from this text. How did David pre-exist? That's right, in the Mind and foreknowledge of YEHOVAH God.
Jeremiah is also similarly alluded to --
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations (Jer. 1: 4-5, emphasis mine).
Could not the above scriptures be construed to mean that Jeremiah pre-existed in some "spiritual" form before he came to inhabit his earthly body? After all, YEHOVAH "knew" him before his birth and also "sanctified" him before the womb, right? Or does it make more sense that YEHOVAH was saying that he was calling "things that are not as though they are"?
The omnipotent and omniscient God also speaks of Cyrus, king of the Medean Empire, more than 150 years before the events described occurred. He is even referred to as YEHOVAH's anointed in the work that he was to accomplish on behalf of the captive Judahites:
Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, you shall be built, and to the temple, your foundation shall be laid. Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held -- to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings. To open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut (Is. 44:28- 45:1, NKJV emphasis mine).
As you can see for yourself, in this example Cyrus had YEHOVAH's anointing to perform good things for the Judahites that were in Babylonian captivity. He was the one that authorized their return to Palestine to rebuild the walls and temple of Jerusalem that had been razed by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, first king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire circa 586 BC. As remarkable in scope as is the prophesy of Isaiah that recorded these events almost two centuries before they occurred, no theologian tries to make the pre-existence of Cyrus literal. So WHY do this with the Messiah? Are you getting the point?
Even Paul alludes to a similar pre-existence as Jeremiah's in Galatians 1:15-16 by saying,
But when it was well-pleasing to the one who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me (on account of his generosity) to reveal his son to me, so that I might announce him to the gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood.
So what can we say to all of this? Simply this. The scriptures that are used to prove that Yeshua of Nazareth pre-existed also fall into the same category. It should also be stressed that the literal pre-existence of the Anointed is in no way necessary to our salvation! It is only relevant to the view of the "Holy Trinity". This view creates the difficulty of explaining how that God is one and yet two or three. Do you remember discussing this question in its various forms and solutions? Obsession with a particular theory will cause one to interpret every scripture possible within the context of that theory. Such has been the effect of the "Holy Trinity" view on scholars for generations.
Pre-Existence Of The Anointed Not Required
Let's prove together that the literal pre-existence of the Messiah is not required to accomplish the purposes for which he was anointed. In the same way that Cyrus' pre-existence was not a requirement to carry out the pre-existing purposes of YEHOVAH God, the same can be said concerning Yeshua, the Anointed. Let's also number them so we can keep track.
1) His pre-existence was not required for his person and/or personality as the Anointed. He was certainly "material" before his death and even emphasized his continued "materiality" after his resurrection. Luke 24:39 records it thus:
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
Milton Burtt makes a very appropriate observation concerning this subject:
To theorize at this point and try to imagine an immaterial pre-existent personality distinct from the body is nothing short of subtle spiritualism (op. cit., p. 7).
2) The pre-existence of the Messiah was also NOT required for him to be the "only begotten son" of YEHOVAH God. The scriptures clearly record that he was born of the woman Mary -- his father being Joseph the carpenter (Luke 4:22). He had a NORMAL, HUMAN BIRTH! For the same reason, however, that Adam's pre-existence was NOT required for him to be physically created by YEHOVAH God, neither did the Messiah (the "last Adam") need to pre-exist to be spiritually "begotten" of the father. I doubt whether any would argue that Adam did not pre-exist in the Mind of YEHOVAH before his "advent," so why should the Messiah NOT also have pre-existed in YEHOVAH's Mind before his "advent"? As you can see, the uniqueness of both Adam and the Messiah need have nothing whatsoever to do with their personal pre-existence, but rather with the existence of an omniscient Almighty God Who planned them in his mind from before Creation.
3) Pre-existence was not essential for the power resident in the Anointed Yeshua. It was by the power of YEHOVAH's spirit (or breath) that the Messiah performed signs after his anointing. The Messiah said,
But if I am casting out spirit beings by the spirit of God, God's kingdom has appeared to you (Matt. 12:28, emphasis mine).
This truth is echoed and placed in the context of "anointing" power by Peter in Acts 10:38:
[You know] how God anointed that Yeshua from Nazareth with holy breath and power, who went about doing good deeds and healing all those who were oppressed by the Accuser, because God was with him (emphasis mine).
As we can see, without the "anointing" of YEHOVAH God and the fact that "God was with him" he would have been powerless. This engenders the question of how the omnipotent God became powerless in the first place. We might as well turn to the old enigma that asks, "Could YEHOVAH God create a rock that He was unable to lift?"
4) Pre-existence was also not involved in the atonement of the Anointed nor was it at all necessary. On the contrary, human existence was what was called for. Peter taught plainly that Christians were redeemed by the blood of the Messiah --
On the contrary, you were delivered with the valuable, spotless and unblemished blood of a 'lamb' -- that is, the Anointed One's blood (1 Pet. 1:19).
In this, Peter was echoing the pattern of atonement laid down in the Old Testament system as a shadow and type of what was to come. "It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). In fact, the Anointed's humanity is what is being stressed in his subsequent sacrifice as the fulfillment of the old by the Hebrew writer. After making it clear that the blood of bulls and goats would not suffice for atonement, the writer posits that human flesh and blood was required --
Therefore, brothers, since we have freedom of speech by the blood of Yeshua, to the point of entering the holy places (By his blood he made new for us a new and living way through the veil, which is, his flesh), and since we have a great priest over God's house, we should come near.... (Heb. 10:19-21, emphasis mine).
As everyone knows, blood and flesh are characteristics of human and earthly organisms and certainly require no pre-existence.
5) Pre-existence was not an essential requisite for the knowledge (revelation) that the Messiah received. It should be noted that the Messiah is referred to by Moses as a prophet like himself (Deut. 18:15). As Moses received his power and knowledge through YEHOVAH, the same was true of the Anointed Yeshua. Luke explains his human mental capacity as he grows in wisdom, knowledge and favor in Luke 2:52. There is no record of the Messiah performing any miracles or speaking prophetically before his baptism by John when the spirit of YEHOVAH God descended upon him. It was immediately thereafter that Luke connects the power of YEHOVAH with the Messiah. After his baptism and testing by the Adversary, Luke notes that the Messiah,
... returned in the power of the spirit to Galilee, and a report of him went out through all the surrounding region (Luke 4:14, emphasis mine).
It was from this very context that Luke records the remarkable confrontation between the Messiah and the townspeople of his youth. Luke says,
So he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And according to the custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read.... he found the place where it was written: 'The Lord's breath is upon me. On account of this, he has anointed me to an- nounce a good message to the poor; he has sent me forth to herald a release to the captives and a restoration of sight to the blind; to send forth in freedom those who had been crushed; to herald the Lord's acceptable year (Luke 4:16-19).
The next verse records the rapt attention paid to him by those listening. Why, all of a sudden, did they give him such scrutiny? Because of his newly required reputation! News of him had preceded his return to Nazareth (Luke 4:14). It was after the Messiah's "anointing" that he was able to receive their undivided attention and it was only then that he said,
Today this writing is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21, emphasis mine).
His neighbors were flabbergasted by what had transpired. The people that had known him and his mother and father demonstrate undeniably that the Messiah had never previously exercised prophetic or miraculous abilities. "Today", says the Messiah, this writing is fulfilled.
What occurred required NO pre-existence of any kind any more than did the calling of Moses, Amos, or any other prophet singled out by YEHOVAH God to receive power and/or revelation. And as previously mentioned, the Messiah often described his teaching as not his own but his Father's. There could be much more said about the character of the Anointed Yeshua and the honor, power, and glory that he received from his Father, but none of these require pre-existence. On the contrary, they argue against pre-existence. If the Messiah was God, he would not have needed to be given anything at all. Some have argued that all the things received by him were already his by right. If that was the case and they were already his -- then how did he receive them?
This question falls into the same category as the question that has bothered generations of Christians, viz how can God be one and also two or three? As before mentioned, scriptures are often interpreted in accordance with a persons pre-conceived notions -- his paradigm. Burtt put it like this: "We become so obsessed with a certain theory that we read it into every passage in the Bible" (ibid., p. 14).
The "Necessary" Resurrection of Yeshua
It is an interesting fact of revelation that it took the direct intervention of YEHOVAH God and the resurrection of the Messiah to prevent the Anointed One from undergoing decay like all the rest of humanity. This had been prophesied by the Psalmist and applied by Peter to the Messiah as follows:
In light of this, my heart delighted and my tongue rejoiced. Furthermore, my flesh will relax in hope. You will not abandon my soul to Hades nor will you allow your godly one to decay (Acts 2:26-27).
Paul, in the "resurrection chapter" of I Corinthians 15, further explains the significance of the resurrection of the Anointed One. He points out that it was after the resurrection of the Messiah that a definitive difference between the first Adam and the "last Adam" transpired --
The first person Adam, was made into a living being. The last Adam was made into a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45, emphasis mine).
It was the "last Adam" that was made a "life-giving spirit" and not the first Adam. The first Adam is still in the grave. If you will read carefully the full import of Paul's discussion concerning the resurrection of the Messiah, you will be able to note that it was only at his resurrection that the Messiah was "made into a life-giving spirit".
Of course, we are all agreed that in his earthly ministry, the Messiah had granted life, forgiven sins and performed signs by the power and anointing of YEHOVAH God and he tells us plainly that this ability had been given to him by his Father. However, it was later that the Messiah attained the permanent attributes of a "life-giving spirit" in lieu of and by means of his resurrection. Paul emphasized this truth by saying that if the Messiah had not resurrected, then any hope of resurrection for himself and the Corinthian believers was vain! Listen to his direct comment on the subject:
Now if the Anointed One has not been raised, then our heralding is meaningless, and your trust is meaningless... if the Anointed One was not raised, your trust is deceptive: you are still in your sins. Then also those who have gone to sleep in the Anointed One have been destroyed. If only in this life we have hope in the Anointed One, then we are the most pitiful of all people (1 Cor. 15:14-19, emphasis mine).
If the Messiah was indeed "God incarnate" -- his resurrection would not have been essential for our salvation and redemption. However, Paul says just that in the above text. If the Anointed did not rise, says he, "you are still in your sins." Furthermore, those that "have gone to sleep" have "been destroyed." Review for yourselves the entire context of 1 Corinthians 15 and see for yourself whether this is not correct.
The majority of Jews believed in a resurrection of the body long before the advent of the Messiah. They were not counting upon the good graces of the future Anointed One, however, but were simply dependent upon the power of YEHOVAH God. However, YEHOVAH Himself gave judgment into the hands of the Anointed (John 5:22-27) and "made him into a life-giving spirit" at his "begottening." Notice from the following verse how the resurrection is connected with "begottening" --
And we are announcing a good message to you, that promise that was made to our ancestors, which God has fulfilled for our children, by raising up this Jesus, as it is also written in the psalms, ' You are my son. Today I have begotten you.' Now because he raised him from among the dead to never return to decay, he said this: 'I will give you the godly and trustworthy things of David.' Therefore, he also said in another place, 'You will not allow your godly one to decay.' For indeed, David fell asleep, after serving his own generation as God planned it, and he was laid with his ancestors and saw decay. But the one that God DID raise up did not see decay! (Acts 13:32-37, emphasis mine).
The above teaches that the resurrection was also the "today" of begottening. It also points out that if YEHOVAH God had not raised the Messiah from the dead, the Messiah never would have received "the godly and trustworthy things of David". Again I ask why, if the Messiah was actually "God incarnate", was his personal resurrection necessary for us to obtain the promises? Could not he -- as a member of the "godhead" -- have resurrected us regardless? If not, why not? And yet our resurrection was contingent upon the Messiah's atonement and subsequent resurrection as "a life-giving spirit."
Just as Adam existed as the only created son of YEHOVAH God, so the Messiah -- before his resurrection -- existed as the "only begotten son" of YEHOVAH God. In this sense, however, uniqueness is being emphasized more than honor and glory. However, when the Messiah was resurrected from the dead -- a real, definitive difference between he and Adam occurred. A "begottening of glorification" and coronation happened.
As the prayer of the Messiah proves, the glorification of the Anointed did not take place before his death and resurrection but after. Thus just before his death the Messiah prayed,
And now, glorify me, O Father, alongside you -- with the glory that I had alongside you before creation existed (John 17:5).
If this prayer of the Messiah refers to his pre-existence as God, then his prayer was never answered. You will remember from Luke 24:39 and I Corinthians 15:28 that the Messiah was resurrected as a material being of "flesh and bones" and later, at the "end," would become subject to the Father.
The Messiah's glorification -- as his prayer indicates -- was going to be accomplished after his resurrection. This was the order in which it occurred. The Messiah was foreknown. The Messiah was predestined as the Anointed One. The Messiah was born of a woman and his father was Joseph the carpenter (John 6:42). The Messiah was called. The Messiah was righteous therefore he needed no justification. The Messiah died and was buried. The Messiah was resurrected and then glorified. As believers, the order of our glorification takes much the same path. Assuming that believers are also born of women and with human fathers, compare what is said in Romans 8 and see if this is not the case --
Now we know that God is working everything together for good: for those who love God; for those who by design are called ones. Because those whom he knew previously, he also marked out previously to be in conformity with his son's image, so he would be first born among many brothers. Now those whom he marked out previously, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified. Now those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:28-30, emphasis mine).
It is interesting to note that the above verses speak to a "pre-existence" of all those in the Anointed Yeshua, but none tries to use this text to prove our literal pre-existence. As far as the Messiah is concerned, the only real difference is that he is the paragon of the above description of believers, i.e., our being foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. The Messiah, however, had no need for intercession since he was sinless and therefore assumed the position as mediator.
As you probably noted, what is lacking in the parallel above is the resurrection of the believer. In the same way that the glory of YEHOVAH God rested upon the Messiah before his resurrection through his anointing, first century believers had limited glory presently through their faith in him and an anointing. However, just as the Messiah received a permanent "resurrection begottening" and much greater glory, believers will receive a "resurrection begottening" and greater and permanent glory at the resurrection described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:43-44. Notice Paul's explanation --
It is also the same way with the resurrection of the dead. It (the body) is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruptibility. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised up in power. It is sown as a physical body; it is raised up as a spiritual body.
From the above text, one can surmise that the believer's future resurrection described would accomplish for them what the resurrection of the Messiah accomplished for him -- only the degree of exaltation is different. The glory received by the resurrected believer will be obtained through what the Messiah accomplished and will be shared by them with the Messiah. This sharing is described in ways such as "... heirs of God and co-heirs with the Anointed" (Rom. 8:17), "... seated with him in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:6), etc.
Now of what did this glorification of the Messiah consist? At least the following:
* He was highly exalted (Phil. 2:9);
* He was given a name above every name (Phil. 2:9);
* He was to be confessed, worshipped as Lord by everyone (Phil. 2:10);
* He was seated at YEHOVAH's right hand (Heb. 1:3);
* He became the believer's intercessor (Rom. 8:34);
* He became the believer's forerunner and "anchor of life" (Heb. 6:19);
* He was proved to be the "son of God with power" (Rom. 1:4).
We could go on but this should suffice. What needs to be stressed is that these attributes were acquired after his resurrection. Whatever tribute he received before his death and resurrection was limited and due to the anointing power that rested upon him. However, after his resurrection, the Messiah went to the Father and received the rewards of his "begottening" according to Psalm 2:7-9 --
I will declare the decree; The Lord has said to me. You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the end of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Could not this also be the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6? Listen to the similarities:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
As has been previously proven, the above Psalm was fulfilled at the resurrection of the Messiah. The reader can see the similarities in the two scriptures. When was the Messiah enthroned upon the throne of David? Peter says this happened at the resurrection (Acts 2:29-33). When was the Messiah highly exalted and given a name above every name? After his death and resurrection says Paul (Phil. 2:5ff). And yet, if the Messiah had actually been God incarnate, none of the things mentioned that he received would have been dependent upon any resurrection whatsoever.
Paul also gives the order that these things will occur and also says that after all is accomplished according to this plan and purpose, the Messiah will remain subject unto YEHOVAH God, the Father --
For just as in Adam all people die, in the same way also all people will be made alive in the Anointed One. But each one will do so by his own arrangement. The Anointed One was a first fruit. After that, those who were the Anointed One's in his presence. Then the end will come, when he will have delivered up the kingdom to Father God, when he will have neutralized all rule and all authority and power. For it is necessary for him to be king until indeed he has placed all of his enemies under his feet. Death, the last enemy has been stripped of power for he has arranged all things under his feet. But when it is said all things are arranged under him, it is a given that the one who arranged all things under him is excepted. But when he has arranged all things under him, then also the son himself will arrange himself under the one who arranged everything under him, so that God may be everything in everything (1 Cor. 15:22-28, emphasis mine).
These versus say volumes about the subject under discussion. In the first place, the Messiah -- being of "Adam" in that he was 100% human -- died but was resurrected as a "firstfruit". YEHOVAH God performs this subjection or "arrangement" as part of a preset plan.
Even though some insist on his incarnate Deity because of the supreme dominion that was ascribed to him, the above verses would seem to teach nothing of the kind while alluding to his rule. It says that the Messiah will rule UNTIL all enemies are under him and then he will assume a subordinate position in relationship to the Father when YEHOVAH God returns to this earth. This points out again the distinction between the son of man and Father God. This would also again confirm that the prayer of the Messiah already quoted, i.e.,
... glorify me, O Father, alongside you -- with the glory that I had alongside you [in YEHOVAH's Mind] before creation existed
certainly did not refer to his returning to the rank of God as is taught. Rather, the Corinthian testimony speaks to the receiving of rank and privilege as the resurrected, begottened and exalted "son" of Psalm 2 and Isaiah 9:6, then becoming subordinate after YEHOVAH's purpose was accomplished. It was the purpose and plan of the Omnipotent God for his future "Anointed" that had been "alongside" the Father "before creation existed." Remember, it was after his resurrection that the Messiah said,
All authority, in heaven and on earth, has been given to me (Mt 28:18, emphasis mine).
When you couple this fact with the direct declaration by Paul that,
...if the Anointed One has not been raised, then our heralding is meaningless, and your trust is meaningless...if the Anointed One was not raised, your trust is deceptive: you are still in your sins.
We are reminded that the Messiah could not have been "God incarnate" or our resurrection and atonement would not have been conditioned upon his resurrection. If the Messiah was indeed "God incarnate" according to the Trinitarian view, then Paul's rhetorical question to Agrippa could certainly have been asked of the Messiah with or without his resurrection:
What!? Do you judge it incredible that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8).
Edited By John D. Keyser
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
|Scan with your