The Mystery of Godliness
Apocalypsed in Symbol
"I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold I am living for the Aions of the Aions; Amen."
The Apocalypse being a revelation of the mystery hidden in the prophetic writings, it is to be presumed that it would certainly not omit to exhibit that cardinal element thereof, styled by Paul "the mystery of godliness," which he says is "great." We find it, therefore, introduced to the attention of the reader in such terms and phrases as God, Jesus Christ, "He who is, and who was, and who is coming," "the Seven Spirits which is before his throne," "the Father of Jesus Christ," "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending, the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty," "I am the First and the last, and the living one, and was dead, and behold I am living for the Aions of the Aions." These are very remarkable, and, apart from revelation, very mysterious and impenetrable sayings. There is One who speaks of himself in them as "I;" and he saith of this "I" that he was "the First," "the Alpha," "the Beginning," "the Lord the Almighty." This is intelligible enough, and we readily comprehend that the Deity, the self-existing, and first cause of all things, is meant. We also recognize in the terms the epithets bestowed by the Deity upon himself in the prophets, and with a claim to them as his exclusively. But when we come to read the Apocalypse, we find the same terms applied to one who saith, "I am the First who was dead." This would very naturally suggest the inquiries, "Did the Deity, who is the creator and upholder of the universe, ever die? And while he was dead, how was that universe sustained? And, seeing that death is an utter destitution of all power, how was life restored to the dead creator of all things? These are questions which obtrude themselves upon the thoughtful in view of these apocalyptic sayings. Apart from revelation they are unanswerable, for "the world by wisdom knows not the Deity;" and none by searching can find him out. Philosophy, then, cannot help us; for philosophy is the system of speculation elaborated by the thinking of the flesh, independently of revelation. A brain destitute of God's thoughts is unenlightened, and, of necessity, incapable of thinking, speaking, and writing correctly concerning Deity, either in relation to his essence, mode of existence, system of manifestation, purposes, or requirements. We are compelled, therefore, from very helplessness, to accept God's own account of these things, which is revelation, or to remain in hopeless ignorance of the truth.
There is then a mystery in the premises, which, as the apostle saith; "without controversy is great." By "mystery" is meant a secret-a secret which the Deity only could reveal. He has made it known, yet the revealed secret continues to be styled a mystery, in reference to what it was originally. Paul terms it "the Mystery of Godliness." In particularizing it, he shows that by "godliness" he means, a visible manifestation of Deity, testified and believed by men. In specifying it, he saith of the mystery, that it consisted, when revealed, of "Deity manifested in flesh, perfected in spirit, seen of messengers, preached unto the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory."-1 Tim. 3:16. Here is Deity set forth by implication in two states-Deity before manifestation, and Deity in manifestation. Does the fact of manifestation transform Deity into that which is not Deity? Certainly not. Or, is not Deity in manifestation as much Deity as before he made himself visible? Certainly he is. The nature of the medium through which the manifestation is made does not change the nature of that which is manifested. Deity is Deity though he manifest his wisdom and power through mortal flesh. The mortality of the flesh does not necessitate nor imply the mortality of the Deity; nevertheless, Deity becoming flesh, and constituting a manifested individual, if that individual die, and be raised again to life, and Deity again enter into combination with the resurrected body, so as to transform it into substance like the divine essence; in other words, to make that spirit which was before flesh, and so exalt it to the Father, Deity may say, with the strictest propriety, "I am the First who was dead;" and yet, abstractly from the medium of manifestation, did never die.
The mystery of godliness is practically exhibited in the incarnation of the Word in the conception and anointing of Jesus; in the perfecting of his body at its resurrection, when Deity in Spirit was as visible to the apostles as Deity in Flesh had been to them before the crucifixion. They preached Deity in Spirit seen of men as a testimony to be believed: it was believed, and that extensively, producing, through the teaching predicated upon it, the most remarkable moral effects "Believed on in the world," saith Paul, "received up in glory." Deity in Spirit having sojourned on earth with the sons of men for forty days, "received up in glory," where he has been, for the past eighteen hundred years, awaiting the appointed time to reappear in the world, not as Deity in Spirit manifested in one man only, but in "a multitude which no man can number"-a multitude, whose symbol is exhibited in the Son of man in the midst of the Seven Lightstands, the Head of whom is Jesus.-Apoc. 1:11-18.
The Apocalypse, like the prophecy of Ezekiel contains mareoth Elohim, "visions of Elohim:" that is, of Deity in Spirit multitudinously manifested. Ezekiel saw this in symbol, but did not understand the mystery of their development from the sons of Adam; for the great exemplar, Jesus, had not then solved the problem in his own person. The revelation of the mystery through him and the apostles has explained the principles, and shown how flesh may become spirit, or how a dark-minded pagan may be transformed into a manifestation of Deity in spirit. These principles in manifestation are individualized; and being so exhibited, they are symbolized, or indicated by signs, and graphically described in the imagery and writing of the Apocalypse. Hence, the mystery of godliness being so intimately blended with the visions of John, its signs and descriptions can not be intelligibly expounded apart from, or independently of, the scripture teaching concerning Deity. I shall therefore devote this section of my exposition to such an explanation as will, I think, enable the reader to comprehend the remarkable terms and phrases of the Apocalypse chosen by the Spirit for the communication of his ideas upon this deeply interesting and highly important subject. First, then, I propose to consider it under the aspect of
- Deity before manifestation in Flesh;
- Deity manifested in Flesh; and,
- Deity manifested in Spirit.
1. Of Deity before Manifestation in Flesh.
The apostle who had the honor of receiving the Apocalypse for transmission to the servants of the Deity, has called our attention to the consideration of the fountain and origin of life and power in what is commonly called the gospel according to John. He there points us to a certain commencement, and saith, "In the beginning was ho logos, and the Logos was with the Theos, and Theos was the Logos." In the Common Version this reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We may see from this the propriety of God styling himself "the First," "the Beginning," and "he who is and who was." He was from the beginning, whether that beginning be referred to the creation narrated by Moses, or a remoter beginning before ever the earth was; and none but a fool, the Spirit saith, would affirm that God is not.
Though John introduces two words into the text, he is careful to inform us that they are not representative of two Gods contemporary with the beginning, but of one only; for he expressly says that "Theos was the Logos."
In this text, then, there is One Deity, and he is styled the Logos. This word signifies, "the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known; also, the inward thought or reason itself. So that the word comprehends both the ideas of reason and speech." Hence, by John styling Him the Logos, it was equivalent to affirming that he was a reasoner and a revelator: or, as Daniel declared to Nebuchadnezzar, that "the Elahh, in the heavens revealed secrets," even "the deep and secret things."
But was the Deity reason and speech only? In other words, an abstraction independent of substance; or, as some affirm, "without body or parts?" To preserve us from such a supposition, John informs us that "the Logos was with the Theos." Here was companionship and identity-"the Logos was with the Theos, and Theos was the Logos." Never was there a conceivable point of time, or eternity, when the one existed without the other. "Jehovah possessed me," saith the Logos, "in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from olahm (the hidden period) from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the open places, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the deep; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him as one brought up with him (the Logos was with the Theos): and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights with the sons of men."-Prov. 8:22.
No Logos, then there would be no Theos; and without Theos, the Logos could have no existence. This may be illustrated by the relation of reason, or intelligence and speech, to brain, as affirmed in the proposition, No brain,-no thought, reason, nor intelligence. Call the brain Theos; and thought, reason, and understanding intelligently expressed, Logos; and the relation and dependence of Theos and Logos, in John's use of the terms, may readily be conceived. Brain-flesh is substance, or the hypostasis, that underlies thought; so Theos is substance which constitutes the substratum of Logos. Theos is the substance called Spirit; as it is written, " Theos is Spirit;" and he who uttered these words is declared to be himself both substance and spirit.
But why is the Divine Substance called Theos? It is a name reclaimed by the Septuagint translators from the heathen; and from them appropriated by the apostles, who wrote in Greek. The derivations proposed of the word are various. The most probable seems to be that which deduces it from the verb, theo, to place, appoint, constitute, ordain. Phurnutus the Stoic, who wrote in the reign of Nero, says, "It is probable that theoi (the gods) were so called from thesis, position or placing; for the ancients took those for gods or theoi whom they found to move in a certain regular and constant manner, thinking them the causes of the changes in the air, and of the conservation of the universe; these then are theoi or gods, which are the disposers (theteres) and formers of all things." And long before Phurnutus, Herodotus had written that the Pelasgi, the ancient inhabitants of Greece, "called them theoi, because the gods had disposed or placed in order all things and all countries."
Theos, then, in the singular, may reasonably be supposed to have been adopted by the sacred writers of the New Testament, as an appropriate designation for the Divine Substance, as the disposer and "former of all things;" especially as he claims to be so in Jer. 10:16. With a softer pronunciation, that is, by changing th into d, and o into u, the Romans borrowed this word from the Greeks, and called it Deus, from which we derive our word Deity. In my translation I have used this word wherever Theos occurs in the original, except in two places in which the word "God" will be found for the sake of the metre-ch. 4:9, 10. Deity, then, declares the Divine Substance to be the Disposer and Former of all things; a truth which the Spirit in the scriptures is careful to place prominently before the minds of men. A few instances will show this. "This people (Israel) I formed for myself. I am Yahweh that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I, Yahweh, do all these things. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. Thus saith Yahweh, He the Elohim that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I, Yahweh; and none else"-Isaiah 43:21; 45:7, 12, 18. He is truly "the Former of all things," alone and by himself; hence his title of The Deity, which suggests this great truth to all who are acquainted with him.
As to the Anglo-Saxon word "God," it is a term that may be applied to any one of goodness and authority without profanity. God is a contraction of the word Good. Hence, God signifies the Good One; and was perhaps suggested to our ancestors by the saying of Jesus, that "there is none good but the Theos," or Deity. But the Deity has not chosen to designate himself by this term. The idea of goodness is not contained in the word Theos; and therefore I do not use it as its representative.
And here it may be remarked that the seventy Israelites who translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek for the king of Egypt, used the word Theos as equivalent for Ail, and Elohim; the first a noun singular; and the last, plural. By so doing, the true import of a multitude of passages was obscured. This defect of the Septuagint has been transferred to the English Version by rendering them indiscriminately God, which does not at all express the signification of the Hebrew terms. Theos comes nearer to these than God; for a being might be Good, but far from mighty for the formation of all things; but he could not be theos, the Disposer and Former of all things, without being Ail in the almightiest sense of the word. The Seventy, however, erred in not respecting the Hebrew distinction of singular and plural. In adopting Theos for Ail, they ought to have written theoi for Elohim in the plural. But they did this evil that good might come; at least, so it is said. "The Seventy," says Parkhurst, "have constantly (very few passages excepted) translated the plural name elohim, when used for the true God, by the singular Theos, never by the plural, theoi. In so doing one may at first sight think them blamable. But let it be considered that, at the time the Septuagint translation was made, the Greek idolatry was the fashionable superstition, especially in Egypt under the Ptolemys, and that according to this, their gods were regarded as Demons, that is, intelligent beings totally separate and distinct from each other; and that consequently, had the Greek translators rendered the name Elohim by the plural Theoi, they would thereby have given the grecizing heathen an idea of the true God, inconsistent with the Unity of the Divine Essence, and conformable to their own polytheistic notions; whereas, by translating it Theos in the singular, they inculcated the grand point (with the heathen, I mean) of God's unity, and at the same time did not deny a plurality of agents or persons in the Divine Nature; since the Greeks called the whole substance of their God the Heavens, Theos in the singular, as well as theoi in the plural."
As we have said, the Hebrew representative of Theos is Ail. This is a primitive word, which to the mind of the Hebrew always presented the idea of strength and power. It is applied in the prophets to the Former of all things when contemplating him in his almightiness. The meaning of the word is strength, might, power, and when used of a person, signifies a mighty one, a powerful one, a strong one, a hero. The first place in which it occurs is in Gen. 14:18, where Melchizedec is styled "the priest of the most high Ail." This teaches, by implication, that there are other ailim, but that He whose priest Melchizedec was, was the highest of them all.
The term is used in a multitude of places in the Old Testament, in the greater number of which it is rendered "God." This, however, does not at all express its meaning, for goodness is no element of the word. The Deity informs us through Moses that it is a part of the name he chose for himself in his communications with Abraham. "I appeared," said he, "to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name Ail-Shaddai; but by my name Yahweh (commonly, but erroneously, pronounced Jehovah) was I not known unto them."-Exod. 6:3. In the English Version, Ail-Shaddai is rendered "God Almighty;" but this does not express the original. Shaddai is indeed rendered almighty, omnipotent, by lexicographers; but their reason for so doing is theological, not etymological. They have invented what they call a pluralis excellentioe, by which a plural noun is applied to a person or thing in the singular, to express its excellency. Hence, to show how excellent the Deity is in power and majesty, they suppose the scriptures speak of him as many powers or many gods, as is implied by Elohim, Shaddai, and so forth. But this is a weak invention, which only reveals the ignorance of the learned respecting the Name of the Deity exhibited in "the Mystery of Godliness." Their pluralis excellentioe is a mere fiction. It admits plurality in regard to Deity, but has entirely failed in giving a rational and scriptural exposition.
Shaddai is a plural masculine, and derived from the root shahdad, "to be strong, powerful." Shaddai is the plural of shad, "mighty, powerful," and therefore signifies the mighty or powerful ones. Three of them appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. Moses informs us that "Yahweh appeared to him there;" and that when he lifted up his eyes to see Yahweh apparent, "he saw three men standing by him." Hence Yahweh, or Jehovah, was apparent in these three men. Here was One-Three, or Three-One. Ail was the One, Shaddai the Three. These "three men" were mighty, powerful, strong, and therefore they were styled Shaddai. They were harmless, patient, and sociable with Abraham and Lot, but terrible in power to Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain. But was their power absolute and independent, or was it derived? Could they say, "Before us there was nothing formed of Ail?" Could they say, "We three are the Divine Nature in Trinity, original, uncreated, underived?" The name by which they were known to Abraham answers these questions in the negative. Their power was not absolute and underived. It was derived from the Divine Substance John terms Theos, and which Paul says, "only hath deathlessness (aqanasia), dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see." But Abraham saw the three men, or Jehovah apparent, therefore they were not the Eternal First Cause, but a Spirit-Manifestation of Him, whose name was known to Abraham as Ail-Shaddai, the Strength of the Mighty Ones.
Now the Deity was also known to Jacob by the same name, and appeared to him in like manifestation as to Abraham. Jacob saw a host of Shaddai, styled by Moses malachai elohim, "Messengers of Elohim"-Elohim sent of Ail. He wrestled with one of them, and prevailed, and in consequence received the honorable title Isra-ail, "because as a prince hast thou power with Elohim." "And Jacob called the name of the place (where he wrestled) Pen-ail," "Faces of Power;" "for," said he, "I have seen Elohim faces to faces, and my life is preserved."-Gen. 32:2, 28, 30.
Here was the most high Ail in multitudinous manifestation. Jacob never saw his person, for no man has ever seen that; but he saw persons like him in form and substance; as much so as sons are like their father in these particulars. He saw as much of the Father Ail as men see of an invisible father in his children. They study the father in these in the absence of other data. Their father is in them as a Flesh-Manifestation of their parental original.
The Shaddai are styled Elohim, as expressive of the parental relation subsisting between them and Ail in nature and power. As the Highest and Most Powerful One in the universe, He styles himself the Ail-Elohim-the Power of powers: a truth memorialized by Jacob in the Altar he named Ail-Elohai-Yisra-ail-the Strength of the Powers of Israel.
Elohim is a plural noun, which in the singular is written Eloah. The use of this in Hab. 1:11 shows that the idea of strength or power is the radical meaning of the word, as to this one, his strength is his Eloah, or the one in whom he trusts. Three men who appeared to Abraham were each of them an Eloah, but not each of them Elohim: the three together were Elohim. Eloah occurs fifty-six times in the scriptures, and four of these times only in the Psalms; but in Job forty-one times. The use of Ail and Eloah by Job would indicate that one and the same being is meant. Every member of the heavenly host is an Eloah, but of all the Elohim one only is the original and self-existent Ail-the absolute, omnipotent, and independent power of the universe.
Speaking of Himself in his address to the ends of the earth, he says, "Look unto me, for I am Ail, and none else"-Isaiah 45:22; and to Israel he saith, "Ye are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I, Yahweh, am He; before me Ail or Power, has not been formed, nor after me shall be"-Isaiah 43:10: a testimony that identifies Ail with the Logos and Theos of John, which as One Power, he saith, "made all things; and without him was not any thing made that was made." From him came the Apocalypse; as it is written, "a revelation which the Theos committed to Jesus Christ."
Having thus shown the meaning of these several terms applied in the scriptures to Deity, I proceed to offer a few ideas upon the Divine Nature as suggested in the revelation of the mystery.
We learn from the Bible that the Deity it reveals has both body and parts. Paul teaches us this in declaring that the resurrected and anointed Jesus is "the apaugasma, or reflexion of the glory, and charakter or peculiar nature of the hypostasis or substance of the Theos-Heb. 1:3. In other words, he partakes of the Divine Nature; so that what he now is, is what the Deity hath always been. The substance of the Theos is essentially living substance. It could not exist and yet be dead substance, for "the Father hath life in himself," and that life is his inherent peculiarity. It is underived from any antecedent existence; nor can it forsake the Divine Substance, for in that event the Deity would be mortal. But Paul styles him "the Incorruptible Theos," and says that "He is the only one having athanasia or deathlessness." Hence, the essential qualities of the substance, which underlies all that is predicable of him, are incorruptibility and life.
Incorruptible and living substance, then, is the Body of the Deity; and, as the glorified Jesus is "the Image of the Invisible Theos," he must have "parts." It is not, therefore, a mere figure of speech to speak, as the scriptures do, of the hand, ear, eye, and so forth, of the Invisible Eternal Power. He has form and parts, as well as body, and is the Great Archetype, or divine original, after which all the Elohim, or immortal intelligences, of his universe are modelled and made. He dwells in unapproachable light, and is "a consuming fire." Light and heat, then, in their essentiality, with incorruptibility and life, are concentred in his substance; for He is the great focal centre of these in all the universe of power. If I might venture a conjecture upon so profound a subject, I would suggest, that the Divine Nature is that wonderful and extraordinary essence observed in that terrible and destructive agent the scriptures term "spirit," and philosophy, electricity, consolidated and corporealized from the necessity of the thing. This glowing substance is too intensely bright for human vision, therefore Paul not only says, "whom no man hath seen," but adds, "nor can see."
Now these suggestions are sustained by "the likeness of the glory of Jehovah" which appeared to Ezekiel. "Above the firmament," says this prophet, "that was over the heads of the four living ones, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a Man above upon it. And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about; as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh"-ch. 1:26. This was the Deity in symbol, which is brought out again in ch. 8:2, 3. In this place Ezekiel adds, that He whom the likeness represented "put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my head." Being thus secured, he says, "the Spirit lifted me up." This was equivalent to saying, that the likeness represented the Spirit, which Jesus says is Theos of Ail.
All the similitudes in the prophets representative of the Deity are of this bright and burning character. In Daniel he is exhibited as the Ancient of Days sitting upon a throne like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire, with a fiery stream issuing forth from before him-ch. 7:9. And so in the Apocalypse; "out of the throne" He sits upon, "proceed lightnings, and thunderings, and voices; and before the throne seven lamps of fire burning, which are representative of "the Seven Spirits of the Deity"-ch. 4:5.
Light, heat, incorruptibility, and life, concentrated in one Eternal Substance, is the great self-existing and central power of the universe. This substance is Spirit, for "the Deity is Spirit." All power, life, and light concentre in him, so that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his perception thereof. "He upholdeth all things," and "in him we live, and move, and do exist." This is by "the Seven Spirits which is before his throne"-Apoc. 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6. Though symbolically "seven," they are complete in one, for saith Paul, "there is One Spirit"-Eph. 4:4. Seven is the symbol of unity and perfection. Hence, being representative of the one spirit, the substantive verb is expressed in the third person singular, and not in the plural, as the grammar of the sentence requires. "The Seven Spirits which is," not "which are before the throne." There is but one spirit there, and this one is the nominative to the verb "is."
The Father of the spirit is the Divine Substance, for it proceedeth forth from thence; and because it issues thence, He is styled "the Father of glory." Spirit irradiates the boundless universe from the throne of light, and pervades it in all its space. Thus the spirit is consubstantial with the divine nature, or "free," radiating from unapproachable light, everywhere, and illimitably, so that wherever spirit is, there is the Deity present; and consequently, as Paul said to the Athenians, "not far from every one of us." This universality of the divine presence by His "free spirit," is beautifully and forcibly expressed in Ps. 139:7-12, as, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend into the heavens, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."
"There is one Deity, the Father, out of whom are all things"-1 Cor. 8:6. The divinity of the schools gives us an idea contrary to this. By the schoolmen we are told that God created all things out of nothing! Where they got this notion from we know not, save from their own imaginations. The proverb says, "take nothing from nothing and nothing comes;" but they have reversed all this, and taught the world that out of nothing something doth come, and that something the universe of God! But away with this foolishness. Out of Deity all things have proceeded. His free, radiant spirit is the substratum of every existing thing, from the star of the first magnitude to the minutest insect of the air. The all-pervading electricity is the simple undecomposable radiation "out of" the Divine Substance, which, under the fiat of His will, constitutes the atomic nucleus of all bodies, solid, fluid, or aeriform. Thus, "by His spirit he garnished the heavens," illuminating boundless immensity with orbs of light, teeming with life, and all the wonders of his wisdom and power.
Such, then, was Deity before the appearance of Jesus-Spirit, substantial and radiant: substantial in his own person; radiant thence into all the Elohim of his universe, in whom the radiant matter, by the fiat of the Divine Will, became fixed, organic, corporeal, and consubstantial with the Deity himself. Thus, He is Eloah in chief; and "without me," he saith, "of Elohim there is none else," and "without me there are no Elohim," and therefore it is we find the phrase in Isaiah 45:18, hu-hahelohim, "He the Elohim"-He, the only Deity, by his Spirit, a multitude of mighty ones.
Having considered the Deity under the apocalyptic aspect of "Him who was," of the "Alpha," of "the First," and of "the Beginning," I shall proceed to treat, in the next place, of the same Deity "who is," in the development of the great mystery.
2. Deity Manifested in Flesh
Until nearly 430 years after the typical confirmation of the covenant made with Abraham, (Gen. 15.,) the Deity was known to his servants only by the name of Ail-Shaddai, the Strength of the Mighty Ones. But when the time had come to bring Israel out of Egypt, the Elohim of the Deity were sent to Moses to inform him, among other things, of a new name by which he was pleased to be known to his people. In answer, then, to the question, What is this name? The Deity said to Moses by his Elohim, ehyeh asher ehyeh, I will be who I will be; and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Ehyeh hath sent me unto you. The Elohim said moreover to Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, Yahweh, Elohim of your fathers, Elohim of Abraham, Elohim of Isaac, and Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you. This is my name, leolahm for the hidden time, and this is my memorial; ledor dor for a generation of the race."
In the name and memorial thus revealed at the bush, the Deity declared that he would be a person, or persons, not then manifested. He announced to Moses, that he was the Mighty Ones who had appeared as "three men" to Abraham, and as "a host" to Jacob: but that at a future period He would manifest himself in others, even in persons of the Adamic race. Hence, in view of this new manifestation, and to keep it constantly in remembrance, he imposed upon himself the name of Ehyeh, "I will be." And this name of the Deity was to retain its import in a certain time hidden in the future. The time when it shall no longer be memorial is not yet arrived. It is to continue for the Olahm-for that epoch when "he who is, and who was, and who is coming," "shall come with the clouds, and every eye shall see him; and all the tribes of the earth shall wail before him"-Apoc. 1:7. When this terrible crisis is passed, the ascription of chap. 16:5, "Thou art righteous, O Lord, who art, and wast and shalt be," will be anachronous, for it will be no longer "shall be" on earth, seeing that he will then be here, and "reigning on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously"-Isai. 24:23.
The word asher in the memorial is the relative pronoun who; and is both singular and plural, masculine and feminine. It stands, therefore, for a multitude as much as for one person. Yea, it is clear that a multitude was intended, by reference to the parallel text in Exod. 6:7, where the Deity commanded Moses to say to Israel, "I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you for Elohim; and ye shall know that I am Yahweh your Elohim." The Elohim here indicated in the aggregate are "the generation of the race," in which the Deity will manifest himself by "the Seven Spirits before the throne."
In regard to this term Ehyeh, etymologically and orthoepally, I may remark here, that it is the first person singular of the future tense of the verb hahyah, "to be, or become." It does not mean, and never did, what it is made to signify in the English Version, i.e., "I am." The Deity did not give himself this name; but, on the contrary, said, "My name is I will be; and by this name I was not known to Abraham;" not to any one else till he revealed it at the bush. Yet, it appears in the second chapter of Genesis, and in the history of Abraham; but this happens because of the compiler of those accounts-that is, Moses-being acquainted with this new name, and introducing it wherever it was appropriate.
The English versionists have suppressed the name of the Deity wherever in their opinion it was not specially emphatic, and have substituted for it Lord, which does not at all express the sense of the original. Where they have thought the name emphatic they have represented Ehyeh, in its subsequent form, by "Jehovah," which they have only introduced nine times; though the word YHWH occurs so often, that the citation of the texts occupies seven royal octavo columns of nonpareil.
The form of the name which subsequently prevailed over Ehyeh, is YHWH pronounced Jehovah, according to the Masoretic pointing invented five hundred years after the time of Jesus. But all philologists and theologians are now agreed, that Jehovah is a spurious pronunciation. It was devised by Jewish superstition, which did not permit an Israelite to pronounce this sacred name correctly. They have another word Adonai, "lord, ruler, sovereign." From this they took the signs or points, and attached them to YHWH, thereby giving to it the incorrect orthography, "Jehovah." All critics, however, are now agreed that the true pronunciation of the word is Yahweh, which they predicate on the fact of the word used in Exod. 6:2, 3, being the old form of the third person, future tense. Yah is the same in a contracted form; and is used of the Deity upwards of fifty times; one of which exhorts us to "extol him by his name Yah."
Yahweh or Yah, as a noun, and signifying "He who will be," is then the memorial name the Deity chooses to be known by among his people. It reminds them that He will be manifested in a multitude; and that, in that great multitude which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, which shall stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands (Apoc. 7:9)-in each and every one of them, "He will be the all things in all"-1 Cor. 15:28; or, as it is expressed in Eph. 4:6, "there is one Deity and Father of all, who is upon all, and through all, and in you all."
The Deity, then, in a multitude, is a conspicuous element of apostolic, as well as of Old Testament teaching. It is not "One God in three Gods," and "Three Gods in One;" but one Deity in a countless multitude revealed in the memorial name, and expounded in the mystery of godliness. The knowledge of this mystery was lost sight of by the Babel-builders of the third and fourth centuries; who, as a substitute, invented the Athanasian conceit of three persons in the Divine Essence, coeternal and coequal. They bound up the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, into one person, or body; and called the fiction "the Triune God." They did not perceive that the Deity was but one person, and one substance, peculiar to himself. One Deity and not three; that Holy Spirit is an emanation from his substance, intensely radiant and all pervading; and that, when focalized under the fiat of his will, things and persons without limit, as to number or nature, are produced.
This multitudinous manifestation of the one Deity-one in many, and many in one, by his spirit-was proclaimed to the Hebrew nation in the formula of Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our Elohim is the one Yahweh;" that is, "He who shall be our Mighty Ones is the One who shall be." Certain Mighty Ones are promised to Israel-"pastors according to Yahweh's heart, who shall feed them with knowledge and understanding"-they will be spirit, because "that which is born of the spirit is spirit." He, the Spirit, the Ail, or Power of the universe, self-styled Yahweh, is their Divine Father. His nature will be theirs; so that they will be consubstantial with Him, as all children are consubstantial with their parents. The Deity will then be manifested in the Sons of Deity; he in them, and they in him, by the one spirit. And this company of sons, led to glory by the captain of their salvation, is "the One who shall be," or "the One Yahweh."
Of these sons, or Elohim, One is "the Firstborn"-"the child born, and the son given"-Isai. 9:6. He is Eloah in chief, "the Head of the Body;" in whom it pleased the Father that all the fulness should dwell," that among all he might have the preeminence.
This Eloah is the great theme of prophecy. His manifestation was predicted in the promise of the Woman's Seed (Gen. 3:15); in Isaac (ch. 21:12); of the royal Shiloh from Judah (ch. 49:10); of the sceptred Star out of Jacob (Numb. 24:17); of the Divine Son assured to David (2 Sam. 7:14, ) born of a virgin (Isai. 7:14) and to rule upon his throne (Isai. 9:6, 7.) In these testimonies it was revealed, that he should be both Son of man and Son of Deity. How this could be otherwise than is related in the New Testament would be impossible to devise. "Is there an Eloah without me?" saith the Spirit: "Yea, there is no Rock; I know none"-Isai. 44:8. The manifestation therefore, must be by the spirit of the Deity, or not at all. The time of manifestation was appointed and placed on record in Dan. 9:25; and "when the fulness of the time was come, the Deity sent forth his son, made of a woman;" begotten, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the Deity; by holy spirit coming upon her, and power of the Highest enveloping her; therefore also the holy thing she bore was called a Son of Deity, and named Jesus-Luke 1:31, 35.
Thus, "the Logos became flesh, and dwelt among us," says John, "and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth;" for "the law was given through Moses; the grace and the truth came through Jesus Anointed"-Jno. 1:14, 17. Now, "Theos was the Logos," says John; that is, Deity was the Word; and this Word became flesh in the manner testified. Was the product, therefore, not Deity? Did the union of spirit with flesh annihilate that spirit, and leave only flesh? Was the holy thing born a mere son of Adam? or "the fellow" and "equal" of the Deity?-Zech. 13:7; Jno. 5:18; Phil. 2:2. The latter unquestionably.
After this manner, then, the Eternal Power, or Yahweh, became flesh; and commenced the initiation of his promise, that He would be to Israel for Elohim. The chief Eloah was now born; and, as the Star of Jacob cradled in a manger, received the homage of the wise, and the acclamation of the heavenly host. This babe was the "body made in secret" through which "the Eternal Spirit," when it should attain to "the fulness of the times," designed to manifest himself. That time had arrived when "Jesus began to be about thirty years of age." He was now to be "sent forth;" "being made under the law, that them under law he might purchase from it, that we might obtain the Sonship"-Gal. 4:5. His sending forth was subsequently to his immersion, and preceded by his anointing with holy spirit. Though born of "Yahweh's Handmaid" six months after John the Immerser, John said of him, "after me cometh a man who hath been preferred to me; for he was before me." Isaiah styles him Yahweh and Elohim, in his prophecy concerning John as "The Voice" that was to herald his manifestation; saying, "Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim"-ch. 40:3. The Father was one Eloah, and Jesus was another; so that in this unity were developed two, who, in the Hebrew plural, are termed Elohim. Here, then, was a practical illustration of the phrase, so often occurring in the scriptures of the prophets, "Yahweh Elohim," most incorrectly rendered in the English Version, "Lord God." Based upon this combination of holy spirit and flesh, Jesus said to Nicodemus, "I say unto thee, We speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. Here was plural manifestation in unity. This is abundantly evinced in all the New Testament. Hence, on another occasion, Jesus said to the Jews, "I and the Father are one"-one what? We are, in the words of Moses, "One Yahweh." The Jews, who "judged after the flesh," were indignant at this, and attempted to stone him for blasphemy; saying that, "because being a man, he made himself Deity." But Jesus rebuked the charge of blasphemy with an argumentum ad homines which was unanswerable. "Is it not written in your law, I said ye are Elohim, and Sons of the Highest, all of you?" Ps. 82:6. If He (the Deity) called them Elohim to whom the word of the Deity came, (that is, to their fathers,) and the scriptures cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, 'Thou blasphemest' because I said, I am Son of the Deity? "Know that the Father is in me, and I in him:"-and that "he who hath seen me hath seen the Father"-John 10:30; 14:9.
Such discourse as this was an impenetrable enigma to the Jews. They did not recognise that "the words they heard were spirit"-John 6:63. They judged after the flesh (ch. 8:15), and therefore imagined that his words were flesh; that is, the mere utterances of the thinking of the flesh. But he told them that this was not so; for he said, "My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me;" and John also testified that "he whom the Deity had sent, spake the words of the Deity," as Moses had predicted in Deut. 18:18, concerning the Christ, saying, "I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall be, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." And so when the Word became flesh, the Word-Flesh recalled attention to what Moses had written and said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words * * * the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak"-John 12:47-"the words of eternal life."
The words, then, that came out of the mouth of Jesus, are to be received as the direct teaching of the Eternal Spirit, and to be interpreted of him. When, therefore, the utterance saluted the ears of the disciples, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," the Eternal Spirit was communing with them from upon the Mercy-Seat, from between two of the Cherubim upon the Ark of the Testimony-Exod. 25:22. He was speaking of himself, and not of the flesh which he had anointed. That flesh was the caphporeth, coverlid, or propitiatory, to be sprinkled with blood, as the result of the condemnation of sin unto death in the flesh-Rom. 8:3. It was the Veil, which, in regard to the Elohim, Jesus and his Brethren, divides their present and future states. It was the veil rent in twain by the stroke of death, in which the Eternal Eloah "forsook" the Eloah Jesus; and they continued "twain" until his postresurrectional ascent to the Father-John 20:17.
Such was "the Faithful Witness," as he was before he was "perfected" on the third day-Luke 13:32. He came into the world to bear witness to the truth that he is King of Israel; to this he was faithful unto death by crucifixion; in which he bare in his own body the sins of all who through him become the Elohim of Israel, whether by nature Jews or Gentiles-1 Pet. 2:24. When these come to know the Deity, and to believe his promises with honest and goodheartedness, as initiated in Jesus, and to do his commandments, they obtain participation in "the Sonship," and become, even in this present state, Elohim, or sons of the Deity. In view of this moral manifestation of Deity in flesh, termed by Peter the Divine Nature, one of these Elohim, in writing to others of them, says, "Behold what great love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of Deity. Because the world knew him not, therefore it doth not know us. Beloved, we are now children of Deity; but it hath not yet appeared what we shall be: nevertheless, we know that when he may appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every one having this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure."-1 John 3:1-3. "We are now children of Deity." He is manifested in them through the truth affectionately and righteously believed. If "the truth as it is in Jesus" be in men thus, Christ, who is the truth, is in them; the spirit of Christ is in them; for "the spirit is the truth"-1 John 5:6: which comprehends the exceeding great and precious promises given to us, that by these heartily believed, they may be partakers of the Divine Nature.-2 Pet. 1:2-4.
From the premises before us, I presume that the reader will have perceived the development of "a Name"-a name of Deity. The name is a divine manifestation. The Eternal Increate manifested in Jesus by holy spirit. This manifestation is expressed in the formula of "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"-Matt. 28:19. This is the name which is above every name; and embraces everything attributable to the Father and the Son. To become an Eloah, a believer of the right stamp must be immersed into this name. He will then be "in the name;" and, consequently, "in Deity the Father and the Lord Jesus Anointed." A multitude may be in this name contemporaneously. They in Deity, and Deity in them, by faith and obedience. Thus, the name which comprehended only two in the beginning, becomes "a great multitude which no man can number." And in reference to these, Jesus, in the days of his flesh, said to his Father, "I have manifested thy Name unto the men (the apostles) which thou gavest me out of the world: thine thy were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. I have given unto them the words that thou gavest me, and they have received them. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we. Sanctify them in thy truth; thy word is truth. I pray for them also who shall believe through their word into me; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one"-John 17:6, 23.
In conclusion, then, under this caption the following recapitulation of the points developed in the testimony in regard to this great mystery of godliness, which is the basis of the Apocalypse, may be useful as a remembrancer:
- There is one Eternal Uncreated Substance, which is essentially power, incorruptibility, and life, dwelling invisibly in unapproachable light; and known before the days of Moses by the name of Ail-Shaddai, "the Strength of the Mighty Ones;" and from his interview with the Angel at the Bush, by that of Yawheh, or Yah, "He who will be."
- This Eternal power is the Logos, or Word, which is identical with Theos, or Deity, glowing in light. Spirit substantial and corporeal.
- From Deity, as the centre of the universe, is intensely radiated spirit or power; which is all-pervading, and fills immensity, and styled "Free Spirit"-the ocean of life, "in which we live, and move, and have being." So that Deity is not far from every one of his creatures.
- All things are "out of Deity." Spirit, by the fiat of His will, becomes substance, both organic and inorganic; and the former, instinctive, or divinely intelligent.
- The Deity is Wisdom as well as Power. Hence the Divine Nature is a moral nature as well as substantial; so that His moral attributes are constituents of his glory, equally with those of his substance, in its essentiality and power.
- Jesus of Nazareth, in the days of his flesh, was the reflection of the Moral Attributes of the Deity; as likewise are all his brethren who walk in his steps.
- Since his ascension, he is consubstantial with Deity; i.e., the peculiar nature he now has is identical with the original substance of the Eternal Power, between which and his own this sole difference obtains; namely, that the substance of Jesus as it is, was created by the Deity out of His own free spirit-ek tou pneumatos;-whereas His own substance was derived from no antecedent power or creator.
- Jesus is the Chief-Begotten Eloah of Ail; and, when sealed with holy spirit at his immersion in Jordan, the Deity manifested himself in him by the truth he spoke and the wonders he performed.
- In this manifestation the development of the Memorial Name was initiated. The One had become Two; and Yahweh Elohim, in relation to the human race, had become a fact. But,
- The manifestation of the Name is only initiated, not completed, in the person of Jesus Christ. The manifestation of Deity in flesh, by holy spirit or truth, is amplified in the characters of the true believers among men, who are "partakers of the Divine Nature" in its moral constitution, as the earnest of their future participation in the Divine Substance, when they shall be as Jesus is now.
- All the true believers who have been immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit-not three names, but the One Name of the Divine Manifestation-are a manifold unit-One in many, and many in one. They are "the one who shall be"-the Yahweh echad, the One Jehovah, not yet perfected and glorified; but when so, to be "King over all the earth"-Zech. 14:9; Apoc. 5:10.
But, in order to reach these things fully, as they are "indicated by sign" in the Apocalypse, I must request the reader's particular attention to the third division of this great mystery of godliness, or Deity manifested in spirit.
3. Deity Manifested in Spirit.
However perfect and complete the moral manifestation of the Deity was in Jesus of Nazareth, the divine manifestation was nevertheless imperfect as concerning the substance, or body, of Jesus. This was what we are familiar with as the flesh. It was not angel-flesh, or nature; but that common to the seed of Abraham, styled by Paul sarx hamartias, flesh of sin; "in which," he says, "dwells no good thing"-Rom. 7:18; 8:3. The anointing spirit-dove, which, as the Divine Form, descended from heaven upon Jesus at his sealing, was holy and complete in all things; the character of Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, without spot, or blemish, or any such thing; but his flesh was like our flesh, in all its points,-weak, emotional, and unclean. Had his flesh been like that of Angel-Elohim, which is consubstantial with the Eternal Spirit, it would have been unfit for the purpose of the Deity in his manifestation. Sin, whose wages is death, had to be condemned in the nature that had transgressed; a necessity that could only be accomplished by the Word becoming Adamic-Flesh, and not Elohistic. For this cause, "Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death; * * * that he, by the grace of the Deity, might taste death for every man." For this cause, and forasmuch also "as the children (of the Deity) are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy that having the power of death, that is, the diabolos," or elements of corruption in our nature, inciting it to transgression, and therefore called "Sin working death in us"-Rom. 7:13; Heb. 2:9, 14.
Another reason why the Word assumed a lower nature than the Elohistic was, that a basis of future perfection might be laid in obedience under trial. Jesus has been appointed Captain of Salvation in the bringing of many sons to glory. Now these sons in the accident of birth are all "subject to vanity," with inveterate propensities and relative enticements, inciting and tempting them to sin. A captain, therefore, whose nature was primarily consubstantial with the Deity, could not be touched with the feeling of their infirmities. He would be essentially holy and impeccable, and of necessity good. But a necessitated holiness and perfection are not the basis of exaltation to the glories of the Apocalypse. These are to be attained only by conquest of self under trial from without, by which "they come out of great tribulation"-Apoc. 7:14. Its promises are to those who overcome, as their captain has overcome, when it can be said his victory is apocalyptically complete"-Apoc. 3:21; 11:15. Hence, then, "it became the Deity to make the captain of the salvation of His many sons perfect through sufferings; and to effect this, he must be of their primary nature, that when the Great Captain and his associates shall rejoice together in the consubstantiality of the Deity, they may all have attained to it upon the principle of voluntary obedience, motivated by faith, and maintained in opposition to incitements within, and enticements and pressure from without. The flesh is, therefore, a necessary basis for this; and making it possible for him to be tempted in all points according to the flesh-likeness, without sin. Hence, though the son of the Deity, and Heir of all things, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and being Made Perfect He became the author of aion-salvation unto all them that obey him"-Heb. 4:15; 5:8.
Perfection of character and substance, then, is the consummation predetermined by the Deity in his manifestation by spirit in Jesus and his brethren. In his wisdom, which is "first pure," he requires perfection of character first; and as a recompense for this, he confers perfection of substance, or consubstantiality with himself. This was the order of the Divine Manifestation in the son of David's daughter; who is the great model after which the One Yahweh-Elohistic development is to be apocalypsed. Perfection of character was first manifested in Jesus, who was faultless before the Deity. The character of Jesus was the character of the Deity-a mirror in which was reflected the moral attributes peculiar to him, the Word, before manifestation in flesh. Nevertheless, though Jesus could truly say, "I always do those things which please the Father;" yet he said, "there is none good but the Deity,' nor am I yet perfect. He testified his own imperfection in declaring that he could of his own self do nothing; that he must die; and that he would be perfected in the third day of his mission. "Behold," said he, "I cast out demons, and I do cures to-day, and to-morrow, and the third I shall be perfected"-Luke 13:32. In this third, "he was made perfect" ex anastaseos, from, or out of resurrection, when he "ascended to the Father;" and being thus exalted to consubstantiality with him, Paul speaks of him as, "Having been perfected for the Aion"-eis ton aiona teteleiomenon; or apocalyptically, "I was dead, and behold I am living for the Aions of the Aions"-ch. 1:18.
Jesus, then, like all his brethren, is to be considered in two states, each state having a nature peculiar to it. In the former state, "he was crucified through weakness;" but in the after state wherein he now is, "he liveth by the power of the Deity-2 Cor. 13:4. In the former state, the flesh was "the filthy garments" with which the Spirit-Word was clothed (Zech. 3:3) ; "the iniquity of us all" that was laid upon him; the soul made an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:6, 10) ; but, as He now is, the filthy garments have been taken away; "his iniquity has passed from him," and he is clothed with "change of raiment." His flesh thus designated has been subjected to the transforming energy of the radiant power of the Eternal Spirit. By this energy his flesh has been transformed into spirit, styled by Paul, pneuma hagiosunes, spirit of holiness. That is, a nature in which there is no filthiness of flesh or spirit. It is therefore Holy Spirit Nature; a nature, generated out of the free spirit radiant from the Eternal Substance. It is therefore like that substance, and hence consubstantial with it. Begotten of spirit it is spirit; as that which is begotten of flesh is flesh-Jno. 3:6. Therefore, Paul speaks of the exalted Jesus, saying, "he was made into a life imparting spirit;" and elsewhere he styles him "the Lord the Spirit"-Kurios pneuma.
Now Jesus as the Lord the Spirit, is the manifestation represented in the Apocalypse by the title of "the Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come; and the Seven Spirits which is before the throne"-ch. 1:4. In relation to Jesus Anointed as he is now, these Seven Spirits are his Seven Eyes. This appears from ch. 5:6, where John says, "I beheld a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven Horns and Seven Eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of the Deity sent forth into all the earth." Seven is the number of perfection and completeness. The seven spirits are symbolical of the "One Spirit" in perfect manifestation; the seven eyes, of omniscience and perfection of vision; and the seven horns, of omnipotence and perfection of power. Hence, he who was slain is now a perfect manifestation of Deity, omniscient, all-seeing, and all-powerful-"Jesus Anointed, the faithful witness, the Chief Born from among dead ones, and the Prince of the kings of the earth;" from among those dead, who are to awake from their sleep in the dust of the earth; and Prince in their midst, when they shall reign with him for a thousand years-ch. 20:6.
Jesus, in view of his exaltation to this glory, said to his contemporaries, "Verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself" (or apart from the "Seven Spirits") but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who hath sent him. The "greater works" than those wrought by Jesus in the days of his flesh, which he said the Father would show him, are the works exhibited in the Apocalypse, which are to be executed at his second appearing. They are the works of the judgment hour, which are to bring all nations into obedience to his rule-Apoc. 15:4: for "all authority to execute judgment is given to him, because He is Son of man."
But the manifestation of Deity in spirit does not terminate in the perfecting of Jesus on the third day. He was the free-will offering of the Eternal Spirit made perfect for acceptance (Lev. 22:21: Heb. 9:14); but he was only one of "the flock of the Deity which he had purchased with his own blood." There were other sheep-sheep of the fold of Israel, and others not of that fold; all of perfect character, to be "made perfect in one:" that there might be one fold and one shepherd.
All who have heard "the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity and the name of Jesus Anointed," have believed them with true affection, and have been immersed, are addressed in the apostolic epistles as "the perfect." "We speak wisdom," says Paul, "among the perfect;" and again, "Let us, as many as be perfect, be thus minded." But, as in the case of Jesus, this perfection was concomitant with imperfection. It was perfection of spirit, or conscience, resulting from faith and obedience. Paul says, that the law of Moses could not make the worshippers perfect, so that they should have no more conscience of sins. Hence, a person whose sins are covered over, or pardoned, is perfect. His conscience is the spirit of a just man who has been made perfect. Jesus tasted death for him, in which death he becomes interested by believing into him. Thus, "by his one offering the Eternal Spirit hath perfected for a continuance them that are sanctified," or purged in conscience from dead works, to serve the living Deity. Being in Christ, they are invested, or covered over, with him; and, if the truth have had its due effect, they are cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; and can truly respond to the apocalyptic ascription to him as their Prince, and say, "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood, and made us kings and priests for the Deity even our Father: to him be the glory and the supremacy during the Aions of the Aions. Amen"-Apoc. 1:5.
But, notwithstanding the saints are a community of "spirits of just ones made perfect;" they have while in the flesh, continual experience of imperfection. The experience of Paul is theirs, who says, "Not as though I were already perfect." He was perfect in conscience, but very imperfect in nature; as was also that great cloud of witnesses, of whom the world was not worthy, who all died in faith, not having received the promises; the Deity having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect-Heb. 11:13, 40.
That which is perfect, however, is not yet come; but we wait for it. Perfect in conscience and character, we wait in full assurance of hope, the transformation of our bodies at the Apocalypse of Jesus Anointed; "for in heavens our commonwealth subsists; out of which also we await the deliverer, the Lord Jesus Anointed: who shall transform the body of our humiliation that it may become conformable to the body of his glory, according to the energy of his ability even to subdue all things to himself"-Phil. 3:20, 21. When this transformation shall have been effected, the prayer of Jesus will have been answered; and his brethren will have been "made perfect in one," as the Father is in Him, and He in the Father, and they one in them both. Such a perfection as this is consubstantiality with the Deity; who, by his spirit is manifested in them all, as the Elohim of Israel, and the Sons of the Highest-the "Who" he said he would be, when he communed with Moses at the Bush.
The transformation of body is posterior to resurrection, as in the case of Jesus. The dead saints are first to be "raised," and afterwards "quickened." "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." The Son will quicken those only of the raised up whose walk in the present state he approves. Many are "raised up" who are not "quickened." It is only those of the "raised up" who are pleasing to the Son that he quickens. Some of the "raised up" are awaked from the dust, as Daniel tells us, "to the reproaches and contempt of the Olahm"-ch. 12:2; or, in the words of Jesus, "they come forth for a resurrection of judgment"-John 5:29. The Son wills not to quicken them, but to drive them from his presence with eternal reprobation.
The word quicken in the original is zoopoieo, and signifies to make alive. From the fact that all the raised are not "quickened," and yet are living in postresurrectional contempt, it follows that the quickening is an operation superadded to the formation of living bodies from the dust of the ground. It is the making alive of living saints with life eternal. Hence, there is a certain predetermined order of development in the multitudinous Apocalypse of the Sons of the Deity (Rom. 8:19), as there was in the manifestation of Deity in spirit in the case of Jesus. And this order, as deduced from the premises before us, is apparently as follows:
- Formation of body from the ashes of the dead;
- Impartation of life, making it a Body of Life;
- Appearance at the Tribunal of Christ-2 Cor. 5:10;
- Quickeningconsequent upon approval; in other words, "ascending to the Father," so as to be consubstantial with him.-John 20:17.
Taken as a whole, these four elements constitute the anastasis Zoes, or Resurrection of Life, in which the body is "raised in incorruption, in glory, in power, and spiritual," all of which is consequent upon the fourth element, or "the Son quickeneth whom he will." They are made perfect in one by "the spirit which quickeneth;" and when this Apocalypse is perfected, "the world will know that the Father did send Jesus, and hath loved them, as He had loved him," which is manifested in their being "like him, and seeing him as he is."
Here, then, is a multitude consubstantial with the Father-the Elohim of Israel, and all of them the Sons of Deity, "kings and priests to Him;" "the kings of the earth," whose Imperial Prince is the Chief-Begotten; "kings from a Sun's risings;" the first fruits to the Deity and the Lamb, redeemed from the earth.-Apoc. 1:5, 6; 16:12; 14:3, 4.
-- Dr. John Thomas, Eureka vol. 1, p. 87