The Nature of God–Part One: How the Word was made Flesh in Jesus (Resources & Notes)

[Note:  Interpretations of the expression “the word was made flesh” have sometimes been influenced by personal impressions and perceptions leading to many different analogies to explain how the “word was made flesh.”  The common interpretation is the “flesh” was the person of Jesus and it is then assumed that he became flesh by being transformed from another being called the “Word,” and so he became a son by birth and not by conception.  It is also assumed that the Word was another God-being and one who speaks for God the Father, and so we have the basic framework for the Trinitarian and Binitarian views.  The obvious contradiction with this interpretation is that it doesn’t agree with the prophets—particularly Moses, and admittedly we find that commentaries do introduce the idea that the Christian belief about God is different from that of Judaism.

But if we accept the face value of John 1:1 and use the actual definition of the words then we arrive at a different conclusion.  So if “Word” is defined from logos then we know that it is “something said” with relevance to the thought behind what is said.  And if God is YHWH (“I am”) and also God the Father then the prophets and the apostles agree, and so the actual statement by John would literally be the “utterance was God.”  The conclusion then is what John wrote about God (John 1:1) is the same as what was recorded about God’s revelation to Moses (Ex. 3: 14).  Therefore John and Moses were in agreement about the oneness of God, and as Scripture states that the logos of God can be in us, we see also that it was in Jesus.]

[Note:  For ancient Israel the manna, the water and the cloud became examples for us, and from these things the Apostle Paul made spiritual analogies in retrospect to Israel’s history.  So Paul was able to show the relevance of the experiences of ancient Israel to the life of Jesus.  An example is the rock that gave life-sustaining water to the people of Israel, which by analogy is compared to Jesus who is likened to a spiritual rock from which we would receive the holy spirit.]

[Note:  The phrase “let us make man” is commonly explained as the plural of majesty.  However another view describes God as thinker, thought and mover, which is a concept replicated in the capabilities of the human intellect, thereby humans are in the image of God.  By these inherent capabilities we are able to confer and reason with ourselves.  In this regard the “logos” may be portrayed as another being in the phrase “let us make man,” even though it is only what God said.  And John’s statement that the “word [logos] was with God,” implies in some ways that the logos is the image of God.  Therefore Jesus reflected the image of God by what he said, which evidenced God in him.  Notice that Jesus spoke the logos: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:  the word [logos] that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (Jn. 12:48).  (In Revelation we read that Jesus has been given the office of the “Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).)]

[Note:  Jesus’ prayer as recorded in the writings of John reflects the perspective of third-person, and Jesus states that he gave God’s logos to the disciples (Jn. 17:3, 14).  And John wrote that we can have the logos of God in us, as it was in Jesus:  “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word [logos] of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (I Jn. 2:14).]

[Note:  The term “God [theos]” is understood as “deity,” and is not seen as a plural or uni-plural term to describe God, and consequently God is not a “family,” but he is a father to Jesus and to his adopted children.]

[Note:  An objection to the conclusion that there is only one who is God is taken from Paul’s statement in Ephesians:   “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).  This verse appears definitive, but would indeed contradict Paul’s conclusion that there is only one God the Father.  In an analysis of this verse we find that judicious and prudent scholars hold the phrase “by Jesus Christ,” to be a spurious insertion in the text, but in the context of the new creation all things were done through Jesus—implying that the “all things” refers to the “fellowship of the mystery” (II Cor. 5:17).]

[Note:  An unseen Jesus identified himself to Saul (Paul) by uttering, “I am Jesus of Nazareth,” an event that occurred after Jesus was glorified by the Father.  This particular utterance was Jesus (Acts 22:8), and thereby Jesus was identified by his logos, so that what was said was Jesus.]

[Note:  It is an erroneous claim that Jesus was fully immortal and fully mortal—fully God and fully man at the same time—which is a conclusion that assumes Jesus’ individuality was the consequence of his parentage and not his conception.  Jesus was the son of God because he was conceived by God and had the holy spirit of God, but he was the son of man by conception so that he could have the authority to execute God’s judgment on the world.  Jesus’ individuality was determined then by the spirit of man because he was a “man” (anthrōpos), which means he was a “human being,” and this is how he was described by the apostles.]

[Note:  Jesus was not included in the Godhead as stated by Paul who wrote:  “For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead [nature of God] bodily” (Col. 2:9).  By the Godhead “dwelling” in Jesus bodily implies that the Godhead is exclusive of him. Jesus did not dwell in himself.]

[Note:  For the verses that speak of Jesus as a God consult the resources given below.]

[Note:  Jesus used the phrase “before Abraham was, I am” in regard to the issue of authority and not as a matter of his preexistence or as his name.  Jesus never said that he was the “I am,” but the words that he spoke were the logos who is God.  And this is how Jesus affirmed his authority to speak of eternal life because he said, “if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (Jn 8:51).  What Jesus claimed to be was the image of God because the “I am” was in Christ, and thereby Jesus was the “image [likeness] of God” (II Cor. 4:4), and so we have the truth of the knowledge of the glory of God “in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).  Likewise when the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae he also affirmed that by God’s utterance all things were made and that utterance was in Jesus.]

[Note:  Jesus is the son of God, and from the perspective of his parentage he is called the son of God and the son of man, but Jesus as a person is defined according to the flesh, meaning that he had the “spirit of man,”—his own mind and intellect independent of God—that established his own individuality (I Cor. 2:11-12).  This conclusion is based on the scriptural premise that Jesus was “of the fruit of his [God’s] loins, according to the flesh,” but Jesus did live “according to God in the spirit” (I Pt. 4:6).

Scripture also tells us that Jesus had his own logos (thoughts), and so Jesus’ individuality was shaped and fashioned by his experiences and his education and his culture, among many other things, and especially by the eternal spirit of God that was in him.  And there is sufficient scriptural evidence to show that Jesus had to learn as we learn because he didn’t know everything, and he had to mature as we mature because Jesus had to suffer to learn obedience to God.  Jesus also had to make choices as demonstrated by his confrontation with Satan, and Jesus said that it was in his own power to give his life for us. (Such a concept implies a conditional immortality based on character development.)

The summation of who Jesus was and is may be understood by what Paul said, that Jesus “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:  by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:  Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:3-6).  And if we accept that Jesus’ individuality was based on the spirit of man it leads us to the conclusion that there is indeed only one who is God, and so we can then assert the oneness of God (YHWH) who was the God and father of Jesus.]

[Note:  The philosophical approaches inherent within Trinitarianism, Binitarianism (Ditheism) and Modalism have little grounding in Scripture.]

[Note:  Abraham was met by the king of Sodom after Abraham had defeated Chedorlaomer and the other kings in the region that is now modern Syria, and we note that the king of Sodom and others met with Abraham in the Shaveh Valley, which is called the King’s Valley.  Thus we see that not only was Abraham aware of Melchisedec, but also the king of Sodom knew him also, along with the others who were with Abraham.  Allowing us to conclude that this region of Canaan was aware of Melchisedec as the high priest and king of Salem before the invasion of the Mesopotamian confederation, and consequently we cannot claim that Melchisedec suddenly appeared on the scene to serve bread and wine to Abraham (Gen. 14:15-18).]

[Note:  The priesthood established with Aaron was founded on a pedigree and established by decree:  “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the son [to be high priest], who is consecrated for evermore” (Hebrews 7:28).  Thus Jesus became a priest by an “oath” because God declared that Jesus would be established as a high priest after the order of Melchisedec and not after the order of Aaron.]

[Note:  Adam and Eve did not have an earthly father or a mother, and therefore the absence of a known pedigree is not grounds for assuming that an individual is eternal.]

[Note:  The tithe that Abraham gave Melchisedec was not the same as the obligatory tithes that were given to the Levitical priesthood.  By comparing Genesis 14 with Hebrews 7 we see that Abraham gave Melchisedec a tenth of “all,” which was a reference to the spoils of war that Abraham had taken from the invading Mesopotamian confederation.]

[Note:  From Clarke’s Commentary we read:  “But neither Abraham’s decimation, nor theirs, had anything to do, either with tithes as prescribed under the Mosaic dispensation, or as claimed under the Christian.”]

[Note:  Jesus was subject to the resurrection and was born into the kingdom of God.]

[Note:  Melchisedec worshipped El Elion (also, El Elyon), translated in the Old Testament as “the most high God.”  The El Elyon of the Bible, also “the all highest deity,” was a god of the Canaanites respective to Melchisedec.  Noting that “El” was also the word used for the supreme deity of the Canaanite pantheon of gods, and in this context we read that:  “Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God [El Elyon]” (Gen. 14:18).]

[Note:  When Abraham said “most high deity” he was referring to the God that would later be revealed to Moses and those who were later called Hebrews, and he was not speaking of the “El” of Melchisedec.  For Abraham qualified his statement by saying:  “I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:22).  Therefore Abraham is not saying that his God is the same as the god of Melchisedec because he uses the term, y hovah, which is a reference to the “God of the Fathers” who spoke to Moses.]

[Note:  “Elohim” is not a uni-plural word like “family.”]

[Note:  The name “Melchisedec [my king is righteous]” is not a reference to an eternal being, although some would assume that such a title could only apply to God or an eternal being.  But history tells us that this is not the case as we consider the name of the priest-king of Jerusalem in the days of Joshua, named “Adonizedek” whose name means, “Lord of righteousness.”]

[Note:  The phrase, “like the son of God,” means with likeness but not in actuality.  Noting that angels are called the sons of God, and Adam also, and by inference Adam’s descendants.  Therefore, to be like the son of God or called a son of God does not mean one is speaking of Jesus or that one is eternal.]

[Note:  David and Solomon conducted priest-king duties at Jerusalem when they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings (II Sam. 6:17-18; 24:25; I Kgs. 9:25; I Chron. 22:1; 3:1).]

[Note: Added correction was made on September 5, 2013 to restate that “I am” (hâyâh) is the “verbal root of YHWH.”] 

Back to:  The Nature of God–Part One:  How the Word was made Flesh in Jesus

–Systematic Theology, by Alva G. Huffer, The Restitution Herald, 1960.  (Note: The late Sabbatarian historian Dr. Herman L. Hoeh agreed with the basic tenets of Huffer’s work, and concluded there is one who is God and that Jesus is the conceived human son of God.)

–Systematic Theology, Doctrine, by James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Vol. 2, Abingdon Press, 1994.

–Monotheism and Christology in I Corinthians 8:4-6, by Paul Andrew Rainbow, Dissertation, The Queen’s College, Oxford, 1987.

–The Trinity, Global Perspectives, by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

–The Holy Trinity, Experience and Interpretation, by George Hedley, Fortress Press, 1967.