Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ness of sinful flesh," and that He existed in a form that was contrasted with that of His historic life, in its being one of Sonship and Spirit, while that which followed was one of subjection to law and participation of flesh. In 2 Cor. viii. 9 we learn positively that, in coming into the world, Christ exchanged a state of riches for one of poverty: "He who was rich for our sakes became poor." His coming is here described as His own act, and not, as in the previous case, the result of the decree of God— as an act that revealed the generosity and self-sacrificing spirit of the pre-incarnate One. It is instructive, as suggesting the slight importance the apostle attached to the details of Christ's early life, that, in order to exhibit the Lord as the Pattern of Generosity, and to draw from His life and Person motives for our practice of a similar spirit, he passes over the many incidents of the Divine Life that could so well have served his purpose, and appeals to the sublimest exemplification of it that was furnished by the prehistoric act of Christ in consenting to be born. "He who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich." In 1 Cor. xv. 47, where we read of "the Second Man," who " is from heaven," the Exalted Christ is referred to, for, as we have found, it is only as Exalted that He is called the Second Man; but it is implied that He belonged to heaven as His home, and that He existed before as a Heavenly Being. In 1 Cor. x. 4 the Prehistoric Christ is spoken of as accompanying Israel of old in their wilderness journey and, ministering by His communications to their religious wants. "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."1 And in chap. viii. 6 we have a significant hint

1 It may be that the apostle had in his mind the Rabbinical tradition that the rock smitten by Moses followed Israel through their wanderings. Not that we can suppose that he believed this grotesque idea. "The Rock that followed them" was Jehovah (Isa. xxx. 29), a "spiritual" Rock, because the supernatural source of blessing to Israel. of the part He played in creation itself. Contrasting the faith of Christians with that of the heathen who have "gods many and lords many," Paul says, "to us there is one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him"; or, as Weizacker in his translation has it, bringing out the sense more fully, "our Lord Jesus Christ the Mediator of all things, who is also our Mediator." The range of meaning to be given to "all things" is indeed doubtful. Many of the best exegetes restrict it to the "all things" of the Christian economy, and understand Paul as here claiming for the Lord that mediatorial Function in virtue of which He carries on, in the name of the Father, the government of all things. On the other hand, the words " we by Him," in which Christ is declared to be our Mediator, by whom we reach the end of our being, seem to point to a wider activity, and to base Christ's present Mediatorship in regard to men on a prior Mediatorship in regard to creation itself. There seems at least to be a hint of a prior relation on His part to " all things" corresponding to, or a shadow of, the relation of Grace in which He now stands to the human race as its Lord and Mediator.1

When he adds "this rock was Christ," we are not "to disgrace Paul," to quote Hofmann's words {Der Schriftbeweis, i. 171), "by making him say that Christ, not yet Incarnate, followed the march of Israel in the form of a rock." The reason why he says "Christ," and not "Jehovah," is that his readers may make the application to themselves. "All activity bearing on the history of salvation on the part of the God of whom the O. T. testifies was an activity of God coming into the world, and an activity, so far, of the Christ whom the N. T. Church acknowledges as its Lord. For, since He has been revealed, believers know to distinguish between Him who came into the world, who is God, and the God who sent Him into the world, while formerly the distinction lay concealed in the one name of Jehovah" (Hofmann, Der Heilige Schrift, ii. 2, p. 209).

1 Mr. Hutton has criticised Paul's Doctrine of the Pre-existent Life of Christ as less full than that of John. "He held, doubtless, that the Son of God had been the centre of Jewish unity and nationality throughout the history of the Jewish nation (1 Cor. x. 4). He held, too,

When we turn now to the expressions on this subject that occur in the Epistles of the captivity, we find that they are equally rare, and that they are either to the same effect, or expansions of the thought, in keeping with the undoubted growth of- the apostolic conception of the glory of the Exalted Christ which characterises these Epistles. The most noteworthy passage of all is the familiar one in Phil. iii. 3-10, in trying to understand which one cannot take a single step without being challenged by the voice of controversy. I can only state in the briefest way what appears to me, after the fullest consideration I have been able to give to them, to be the natural meaning of the words. The Supreme Pattern of Christian conduct is the Exalted Christ, to whom God has given a name "above every name in heaven and on earth "; and it is evidently the intention of the apostle, in commending the grace of humility and the duty of each looking to the things of others as well as to his own, to exhibit the Exaltation of Christ as the grandest instance of the recognition by God of the infinite worth of a spirit of self-effacement for the good of others. He is not content to dwell on the successive stages of the earthly career of Christ as marking the steps of a course that was marvellous for the spirit of self-denial it disclosed: "He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even to the death on the cross" (Phil. ii. 8). He goes back to what antedated Christ's earthly experiences, to show that the humble self-denying spirit that characterised the life of

that Christ was equally the centre and root of the social unity of the Christian Church, that His life was in all its members, and the real bond of its organisation, but I can see no trace that he had learnt to extend the same truth to the whole world of heathen humanity,—that he had grasped the fulness of St. John's teaching,—that He is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world " {Essays, vol. /. pp. 250 IT.). In the passage quoted in the text, however, as well as in those to follow {e.g. Col. ii. 15-18), our apostle does seem to assert a relation, antecedent to the manifestation in time, in which the Son of God stands to every human being.

Jesus was the reproduction of the mind of the Eternal Preexistent One, and exhibited in detail the spirit that was manifested in the very act of coming into the world in the "form of a servant." He existed before in the "Form of God." The phrase points to a state of being that is to be regarded as implying at least the absence of the limitations, weakness, corruption, that belong to creaturely existence. What more we are to understand by it will depend on which of the two alternative meanings of the word, translated "form" {fiopfyrj), we adopt. The great majority of modern commentators take it in the sense of "outward appearance,"—that which expressed the nature of Christ, but was at the same time separable from that nature. And this "form " or " appearance" of God they regard Him as having laid aside, or "emptied Himself of," that He might assume the " form of a servant." On this understanding, the " being Equal with God," which "He did not cling to as a prey," will explain more fully what is meant by the " Form of God," will describe it as consisting in an Equality with God in respect of rank and dominion. The chief difficulties in the way of accepting this interpretation are these: first, "the being Equal with God" is with more appropriateness, I think, referred to that "Lordship over all" which, as we read in w. 9, 10, was conferred upon Christ at His resurrection, and was not therefore His actual possession in His pre-incarnate state; and second, the word " Form" is a philosophical term, and has a definite sense, meaning that "appearance" of a thing or person that is inseparable from the person or thing itself. It is equivalent to " nature "; and we cannot conceive of Him who "was in the Form of God," understood in this sense, divesting Himself of it without His ceasing thereby to be Divine. This is the view of the Greek Fathers; it is also the view, in modern times, of Canon Lightfoot, and it has been advocated lately with great force by Gifford in his masterly examination of this passage.1 On this understanding, then, the " Form" of God implies a relation to the life of God which signifies perfect resemblance to Him; and the term means much the same thing as " Image of God" {elKcov), which is elsewhere used of Christ (Col. i. 15).

We are further to recognise in this relation of the Preincarnate Christ to God that which constituted His Fitness to be raised to the "Equality with God " which, in actual fact, became His only after He had finished His earthly career, when God "highly exalted Him." The word is "highly exalted" {vTrepvyfrojae). The idea conveyed is that the Exaltation glory marked a certain advance on that which belonged to His Eternal state when He was " in the Form of God." We are to picture to ourselves a situation in which the Pre-incarnate One had presented to Him the career by which He was to realise the possibilities that lay wrapt up in His being " in the Form of God." The course by which the "Equality with God," or the Divine lordship of His exaltation-state was to be reached, was conceivably one that would have outwardly illustrated His superiority to all others and His Personal Claims to Divine honour. But such an assertion of His right to be worshipped as God would have been the act of one who looked at "his own things," and not at "the things of others." And Christ did not choose the way of self-exaltation to reach His present position. He did not regard the "Being Equal with God" as a thing to be grasped or clutched at in this way, as one would a prey or booty; He looked rather to the good of men, and renounced His own things to enter on a course of self-denying service of others, and of humble obedience to the will of God. He "emptied Himself," and took upon Him the " form of a servant." He preferred to receive from the Father the sovereignty over all as the Divine recogni

1 The Incarnation, a Study of Philippians ii. 5-11, by G. H. Giflbrd,

« AnteriorContinuar »