Our modern world is decidedly confused. On the
one hand, the rationalistic, humanistic viewpoint dominates
within our public education system. We are now taught to question
the validity of anything that can be called
"supernatural." The very idea that someone might
believe in miracles, revelation, etc., is opened up to direct
ridicule. At the same time, in a direct reaction against this
kind of dry humanism, many people are fleeing for refuge into
every kind of spiritistic group imaginable.
"Channeling" (a fancy way of saying a spirit medium) is
very popular, and the Eastern ideas of reincarnation and
mysticism are drawing converts from every walk of life.
In the midst of all of this confusion we find
the Bible, continuing to proclaim the timeless message of Jesus
Christ. Yet even the Lord Jesus has come in for modern
"updating" in many men's writings. After a century of
"searching for the historical Jesus" men (hopefully)
have discovered that outside of the inspired writings of the
apostles in the New Testament, we will not find much information
on who Jesus was. Indeed, unless we see that it is illogical and
irrational to reject the Scriptures for what they claim to be(1)
we will never have much to say to our world.
Today it is normal for "Christian"
theologians to de-emphasize the doctrinal aspects of the Person
of Jesus Christ. Since rationalism and naturalism are the modes
of the day, it is unpopular to deal with the clear Biblical
teaching of the deity of the Lord Jesus and his pre-existence.
The person who looks to the Bible, however, has little choice in
the matter - the doctrine is clearly stated both in the Gospels
as well as the epistles, and indeed it is implicit in most of the
One cannot easily disassociate the doctrine of
the pre-existence of Christ from that of his deity, as they are
part and parcel of the same teaching. An in-depth discussion of
the deity of Christ is outside of the realm of this paper, and it
will be assumed that an understanding of the main elements of
this doctrine are shared with the reader.(2)
This discussion will be limited to the focal
passages found in the New Testament that deal with the
pre-existence of the Lord Jesus. For our purposes these are as
follows: John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17, and Philippians 2:5-7.
Each of these passages have much in common, as we shall see in
our examination of them, both in an exegetical understanding, as
well as in patristic interpretation.
It will be relevant to a discussion of the
early Church's views to discuss the order of writing of the books
which contain our primary data on the pre-existence of Christ.
Generally, the Pauline epistles are dated anywhere from the late
40's to the late 60's of the first century. The majority of
scholarship sees Paul's writings preceding John's by quite some
time, and there is general agreement concerning the order
of Paul's letters and their place in history.(3) The question of
the exact date of John's gospel, however, is not so easily
resolved. Merril C. Tenney(4) notes that modern estimates range
from 45 to beyond 100 A.D. Part of the problem can be found in
the fact that during what might be called the
"hypercritical" period of the last century, it became
quite popular to deny the Johanine authorship of the Gospel of
John, and, due to its high Christology (which the rationalists
assumed had to be a mythological invention of the early Church)
place it at least into the second century. Modern textual finds
(such as the famous P75) have demolished any ideas of a
second-century date for John, and today the dates normally fall
between A.D. 85 and 95.(5) What is very important to notice about
the fact of the early (i.e., non-second century dating) is that
the Christology of John is, therefore, no different than that of
the early Church as the book was written during the same time
period! Indeed, there is no way for there to have been sufficient
time for such "myths" to have evolved, and, it
is not logical to think that John would have written about
certain events that could be proven false by living witnesses!
With these facts in mind, we can move on to the actual exegesis
of these passages.
Exegesis of Principal Passages
The Prologue of John (1:1-18) is unique in
Biblical literature. It is clear that the main point of John is
not the person of God. His emphasis is the identity of the Word. The
Logos is the central figure of the work, and the teaching of
the passage is that the Logos is intricately involved with
the creation of the universe. The pre-existence of the Logos is
clearly stated and assumed throughout the prologue.
Much has been said concerning the origin of the
term logos. Philo(6) used the term, yet the logos of
Philo is simply an impersonal manifestation of the Wisdom of God.
John's usage of the term may indeed borrow from Philo (especially
if John wrote the Gospel while in Ephesus, as the Greeks would be
able to understand the term), but he goes far beyond anything
Philo dreamed of. Rather than a pantheistic, impersonal divine
emanation, the Logos of John is a personal, eternal being who is
not simply a part of creation, but is rather the Creator
The first verse itself must be examined to be
understood. Transliterated into Greek the verse reads: En
arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en
ho logos. The verse breaks down into three clauses, each
being vital to the whole. The first thing to notice is the fact
that the imperfect form of eimi is used throughout the
prologue in reference to the Logos. This tense, attached
to the phrase "en arche" is
timeless - i.e., as far back as one wishes to push the
"beginning" the Word is already in existence. This is
seen, for example, in the translation of the New English Bible
which renders it, "When all things began, the Word
already was." Today's English Version puts it,
"Before the world was created, the Word already
existed...." Hence, the first phrase clearly presents the eternality
of the Word and hence his pre-existence.
The second phrase presents the inter-personal
relationship of the Logos and God. The Greek phrase pros,
translated "with," refers to the existence of
communication and fellowship between the Logos and theos.(7)
The word was used to describe being "face to face" with
another. Now, unless John had added the final phrase ("and
the Word was God") there would have been a problem here, as
the first phrase clearly presents the Logos as eternal,
while the second demonstrates his distinct personality. This
would create polytheism without the final phrase's emendation. At
the same time, this second clause ends any chance of
The final phrase, kai theos en ho logos, presents
a syntactical arrangement in which the term theos is
emphasized. At the same time, the sentence is copulative, and the
presence of the article with logos simply sets it out as
the subject of the sentence. Much has been said concerning the
lack of the article with theos(8) but -that
discussion is beyond the scope of this paper. Basically, the
construction 1) avoids modalism (i.e., the Word is not said to be
completely co-extensive with theos) and 2) teaches that
the Word has the same nature as God (a point that Paul
will reiterate in Philippians).
Verse 3 links the eternality of the Word with
creatorship. "Through him all things were made; without him
nothing was made that has been made." John here is intent on
separating the Logos from the realm of the created - he
started in the very first phrase by asserting his timeless
existence and continues here by attributing to the Logos all
of creation, an item that will reappear in Colossians. The only
possible way to interpret these verses is to see the Logos as
an eternal being who created all things.
The prologue continues by identifying the Logos
with the person of Jesus Christ in 1:14. It is interesting to
note that John very carefully differentiates between the Word in
his absolute nature and all other things. When the eternal Word
is in view, John uses en. When created things are being
discussed (such as John in 1:6), the aorist egeneto is
found. However, when we come to the time event of 1:14 (i.e., the
incarnation), John switches from the timeless en to the
aorist egeneto - the Word became flesh at a point in time
Finally, in 1:18(9), John seals the case by
calling Jesus the "only-begotten God," or, more
accurately, the "unique God"(10) who reveals the
Father, who "exegetes"(11) God to man.
These verses with which John begins his gospel
are meant, in my opinion, to form an "interpretive
window" through which the reader is meant to look at the
words that follow. One must constantly keep the Logos in
the back of the mind when interpreting the words and actions of Jesus.(12) Much of what Christ says must be understood in this
light to even make much sense! His unique relationship
with the Father is intelligible only in the light of his eternal
preexistence with him.
Equally significant are Jesus' own "I
am" sayings found in John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19 and 18:5-6.
Though there is some discussion concerning the use of the phrase ego
eimi in this absolute sense(13), these passages
clearly show an intentional aspect to Christ's words relevant to
his identity. In both 8:58 and 18:5-6, John takes pains to make
sure the reader understands the impact of Christ's words on his
hearers. In 13:19 we find an extremely close parallel to the LXX
rendering of Isaiah 43:10, here applied to Christ by himself. One
can hardly escape the significance of the Hebrew term ani hu
as used by Isaiah, and its Greek translation as ego eimi. Since
Christ purposefully utilized these phrases of himself, it is safe
to say that he was claiming for himself the title of the "I
Am" - the eternal one, YHWH.
The other two texts fall outside of the realm
of the Gospels, though they must reflect very early teaching of
the Church, and therefore are just as important as the Johanine
passages in determining the Scriptural basis of the doctrine of
the pre-existence of Christ. Both Pauline passages are vital, and
both come from very different contexts. The first to be examined
(Colossians 1:15-17) comes from a book that seems to contain
within it a polemic against gnosticism (or, possibly,
"proto-gnosticism"), while the second (Philippians
2:5-7) comes from a book that is conspicuous for its lack of
Colossians 1:15-17 is considered by some to be
an early Christian hymn.(14) Its structure most definitely
resembles the poetic style of a song, and one can find it easy to
see how Paul would utilize song to teach doctrine in the
churches. The principal verses relevant to our discussion of
pre-existence form the first half of this passage - the second
discusses the pre-eminence of Christ in redemption and in the
In vs. 15 the pre-existent Christ is styled the
"eikon tou theou tou aoratou" - the
express image of the invisible God. One can easily see the
parallel between this and John's description of Christ as the
unique God who "exegetes" the Father (1:18). In Christ
the invisible God became visible to man. Attendant to this, Paul
describes Christ as the prototokos - the firstborn.(15)
The main meaning of "firstborn" is the one who has
pre-eminence, and indeed, the Hebrew term which prototokos translates
in the LXX (bekhor) is not connected with either the ideas
of protos or tokos.(16) Hence, the pre-eminence of
Christ is the point of prototokos, and, as the following
verses will make very clear, there is no temporal idea of
generation or creation found in this passage relevant to Christ.
Verses 16 and 17 exhaust the Greek mind in
their rush to include all of creation in the realm of the
power of Christ. Nothing is left out by Paul at this point. His
use of the phrase ta panta is absolute, and to make sure
that everyone realizes this, he lists the elements that make up
the panta. J. B. Lightfoot(17) well comments:
All the laws and purposes which guide the
creation and government of the Universe reside in Him, the
Eternal Word, as their meeting-point. The Apostolic doctrine
of the Logos teaches us to regard the Eternal Word as holding
the same relation to the Universe which the Incarnate Christ
holds to the Church. He is the source of its life, the centre
of all its developments, the mainspring of all its
motions.... The Judeo-Alexandrian teachers represented the
Logos, which in their view was nothing more than the Divine
mind energizing, as the topos where the eternal ideas...have
their abode.... The Apostolic teaching is an enlargement of
this conception, inasmuch as the Logos is no longer a
philosophical abstraction but a Divine Person....
In this divine person all things "hold
together"or consist. This divine person is said to be
"before ta panta - all things." There is no
clearer passage in the Bible concerning the fact that Jesus
Christ, the eternal Word, created all things. There is no room
here for the gnostic pleroma in which Christ is but a part - no,
here Christ is seen as the Creator Himself who holds the universe
together by his own power. The pre-existent Christ shines
brightly in Paul's mind, and forms the basis for his teaching of
the relationship between Christ and the Church. Note also the
harmony between Paul and John on this point.(18)
The third passage to be examined comes from
Paul's letter to the church at Philippi. It, too, is hymnic in
structure, and is set off as such by the New International
Version. The major section comprises what is actually a sermon
illustration of Paul's in reference to his admonition to the
Philippians to act in humility of mind toward one another. To
support this point, Paul points to the person of Jesus Christ as
the ultimate example of this attitude. Indeed, it is vital to
understand the immediately preceding context when some phrases
within the passage are encountered, as we shall see.
The first phrase of verse 6 sets the tone for
the theological discussion to follow. Paul says that Christ was
"existing" (huparchon) in the "form of
God" (morphe tou theou). What does this mean? The
participle huparchon is again "timeless" in that
it does not point to any moment when Jesus "started" to
exist in the form of God - Christ has always been in the form of
God. And what is the morphe? It is that quality or
characteristic which makes something what it is rather than what
it is not. God is known by his morphe, and no other being
has his form. The NIV picks this up by translating the phrase,
"who being in very nature God...."
Paul is here looking back before the
incarnation to the pre-existent state of the Lord, and says that
in that state the Lord Jesus shared with the Father the form of
God. Not only this, but he goes on to say that the Lord had
"equality with God" and yet did not regard that
equality something to be "grasped." Much has been
written on just how to take the term harpagmon.(19) After
plowing through a large portion of the material representing
various views, the interpretation given by Chrysostom(20) and
followed by Lightfoot(21) seems to be the only logical outcome
and is the one that best fits the context of the passage.
Basically, this view sees the word harpagmon referring to
the fact that Christ, though already equal with the Father, did
not regard that equality something to be held on to at all cost,
but, as the ultimate example of humility, laid his privileges
aside for our sakes and "made himself nothing." This
fits the context of the passage, that of walking in
"humility of mind" for how can it be an example of
humility for Christ to not desire equality with God if he did not
already have it? Not trying to become equal with God is not
humility - it is simply not committing blasphemy.(22)
We have now seen three passages that clearly
present the Lord Jesus as having had a personal, distinct
existence beforehis incarnation and earthly life. This
existence is seen to be personal, and to be connected with
distinctive acts such as creation and intimate fellowship with
the Father. His pre-incarnation life is also seen to have been
eternal, and not temporal as that of a creation. Given this fact,
how did the early Christian Fathers view this doctrine? To this
we now turn.
As we have seen, the doctrine of the
pre-existence of Christ is explicitly stated in the New Testament
documents, and is implicit in much of the story of Jesus as well
as the teaching of the Church about his person. J.N.D. Kelly(23)
notes this, and given all of this data, it seems incredible that
anyone today could still maintain that the doctrine is based on
the reflection of the Church. Such "mythologizing"
takes more time than the documents now allow.
The Apostolic Fathers do not give us a great
deal of information on Christology proper. Hence, the information
to be found on this particular aspect of the doctrine of Christ
will also be scant. There are still, however, some interesting
Ignatius gives us one of the most eloquent
statements concerning the early Church's view of Christ in his
letter to the Ephesians, 7:2:
There is one only physician, of flesh and
of spirit, generate and ingenerate (gennetos kai agennetos)
God in man (en anthropo theos), true Life in death, Son of
Mary and Son of God, first passible and then impassible,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
The duality of the Lord's nature (God/man) is
clearly seen in Ignatius, and is repeated in his letter to Polycarp, 3:2:
Await Him that is above every season, the
Eternal, the Invisible, who became visible for our
sake, the Impalpable, the Impassible, who suffered for our
sake, who endured in all ways for our sake.
Pre-existence is not just implied but clearly
stated in this passage, attributing to Christ eternality, and
seeing the incarnation as the point in time at which God broke
into human history for the sake of man. It is significant that
Ignatius calls Jesus Christ "God" 14 times in his
Discussion of John 1, Colossians 1 and
Philippians 2 was fairly limited in the early Fathers' writings,
most probably due to the fact that the Arian controversy was
still future, and the church's main enemy at that time was
gnosticism and docetism, neither of which would require a strong
statement of the pre-existence of Christ, at least by itself.
Paul is attacking gnostic ideas in Colossians, but even the
gnostics believed in some kind of preexistence for Christ.
Irenaeus exegeted John 1:1 against the gnostics in Book V of Against
Heresies, chapter 18(24), and did as Paul did and pointed out
that Jesus is the Creator not a part of the creation.
The introduction of Arianism drew the attention
of the Church back to the Person of Christ and his relationship
with the Father. Origen's synthesis of Greek philosophy and its
idea of the Divine Wisdom with Christian doctrine had laid the
groundwork for Arius' denial of the absolute deity of Christ and,
thereby, the denial of the eternal pre-existence of the Lord
Jesus. John's filling of the eternal Logos with
personality was reversed somewhat, and the timeless en of
John 1:1 seemingly was lost in the shuffle.
It is no surprise, then, that the Church
Fathers after Nicea spend much more time on John 1:1,
Colossians 1:15-17, and Philippians 2:5-7. The Nicene Creed had
clearly stated the Deity of Christ as well as his pre-existence.(25) The six decades that followed saw a resurgence
of Arianism and, after great struggle, the victory of the Nicene
faith. During that time the great Athanasius wrote volumes in
defense of the deity of the Son. Chalcedon reaffirmed Nicea and
went farther in attempting to answer the questions concerning the
relationship of the divine and the human in Christ.(26)
The body of writing of the Nicene and
Post-Nicene Fathers is large indeed. The series edited by Schaff
takes up 28 large volumes alone. Hence, to overview all of this
literature would be far beyond the scope of this paper.
Therefore, the three main exegetes of the century after Nicea -
Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Augustine - will be examined,
briefly, to determine how they understood the focal passages
Of the three Fathers I have chosen to look at,
Chrysostom (345-407) expressed the clearest if not the most
in-depth understanding of the doctrine of the pre-existence of
Christ. Chrysostom was called the "golden-mouthed," and
this passage(27) on John 1:1 should explain why:
For the intellect, having ascended to 'the
beginning,' enquires what 'beginning': and then finding the
'was' always outstripping its imagination, has no point at
which to stay its thought; but looking intently onwards, and
being unable to cease at any point, it becomes wearied out,
and turns back to things below. For this, 'was in the
beginning,' is nothing else than expressive of ever being and
Chrysostom's point is the same as made
previously on the basis of the imperfect en in 1:1 - it is
timeless. A little later he adds, "...(the) first 'was,'
applied to 'the Word,' is only indicative of His eternal
Being...." In the same manner, he keys on the term pros
as well, saying "For he does not say, was 'in God,' but was
'with God': declaring to us His eternity as to person. Then, as
he advances, he has more clearly revealed it, by adding, that
this 'Word' also 'was God'".(28) The eternality of the Word
was one of Chrysostom's main ideas in his exegesis of John 1, and
he repeatedly stressed the concept.(29)
Nor did Colossians 1:15-17 escape Chrysostom's
notice. Keying on verses 16-17, he attacked the gnostic
concept of the creation and its duality by pressing the list of
things created by Christ, claiming that obviously Paul was
including all of creation under the Son's reign.
...the subsistence of all things depends on
Him. Not only did He Himself bring them out of nothing into
being, but Himself sustains them now, so that were they
dissevered from His Providence, they were at once undone and
Most importantly, Chrysostom contributed
greatly to the understanding of Philippians 2:5-11. He wrote:
What does Paul wish to establish by this
example? Surely, to lead the Philippians to humility. To what
purpose then did he bring forward this example? For no one
who would exhort to humility speaks thus; 'Be thou humble,
and think less of thyself than of thine equals in honor, for
such an one who is a slave has not risen against his master;
do thou imitate him.' This, any one would say, is not
humility, but arrogance! ... If he were exhorting servants to
obey the free, to what purpose could he bring forward the
subjection of a servant to a master? of a lesser to a greater?(31)
The point has already been made (in the
exegesis section) that the understanding of Paul's exhortation to
humility is, in this writer's opinion, the key to understanding
the passage, and here Chrysostom makes this point quite well.
Rightly called the great defender of the Nicene
faith, Athanasius possessed a keen insight into the central
doctrines of Christianity. Like Augustine after him, Athanasius
saw Philippians 2:5-7 in close connection with John 1:1.
In his "Four Discourses Against the Arians",
Discourse II(32), he ties John 1:1, 14 together with Philippians
2:6 as his main Scriptural support of the deity of Christ. To
Athanasius, John's eternal Word existing 'with' God and being God
is the same as Paul's pre-existent Christ eternally existing in
God's form and being equal with him.
Similarly, Athanasius quotes all of the Carmen
Christi and then says, "Can anything be plainer than this?
He was not from a lower state promoted; but rather, existing as
God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not
promoted but humbled Himself."(33) This view of the
eternally existing Christ is found also in his "Statement of
Faith"(34) in which he says,
All things to wit were made through the
Son; but He Himself is not a creature, as Paul says of
the Lord: 'In Him were all things created, and He is before
All' (Col. 1:16). Now He says not, 'was created'
before all things, but 'is' before all things. To be created,
namely, is applicable to all things, but 'is before all'
applies to the Son only.
One final quote from Athanasius should be
sufficient to represent his interpretation of this doctrine:
Therefore if the Word be creature, He would
not be first or beginning of the rest; yet if He be before
all, as indeed He is, and is Himself alone First and Son, it
does not follow that He is beginning of all things as to His
Essence, for what is the beginning of all is in the number of
all. And if He is not such a beginning, then neither
is He a creature, but it is very plain that He differs in
essence and nature from the creatures, and is other than
they, and is Likeness and Image of the sole and true God,
being Himself sole also. Hence He is not classed with
creatures in Scripture....(35)
Augustine wrote a great deal on John 1:1 and
Philippians 2:5-7, but very little on Colossians 1:15-17. Quite
frequently the two passages are quoted together. Augustine's
"Homilies on the Gospel of John" provides plenty of
information on his views of the pre-existence of Christ as
revealed in John 1.(36) However, we will look more at the
doctrinal sections of Augustine's writings. In his
"Enchiridion" he wrote(37):
Wherefore Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is
both God and man; God before all worlds; man in our world:
God, because the Word of God (for 'the Word was God'); and
man, because in His one person the Word was joined with a
body and a rational soul. Wherefore, so far as He is God, He
and the Father are one; so far as He is man, the Father is
greater than He. For when He was the only Son of God, not by
grace, but by nature, that He might be full of grace, He
became the Son of man; and He Himself unites both natures in
His own identity, and both natures constitute on Christ;
because, 'being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery
to be,' what He was by nature, 'equal with God.' But He made
Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a
servant, not losing or lessening the form of God. And,
accordingly, He was both made less and remained equal, being
both in one, as has been said: but He was one of these as
Word, and the other as man. As Word, He is equal with the
Father; as man, less than the Father. One Son of God, and at
the same time Son of man; one Son of man, and at the same
time Son of God; not two Sons of God, God and man, but one
Son of God; God without beginning; man with a beginning, our
Lord Jesus Christ.
This passage is one of
many(38) that could be
cited, but it admirably sums up Augustine's viewpoint for our
A Modern Viewpoint: The Westminster
The Westminster Confession is hailed by many as
the greatest theological creed since the Reformation era, and so
it is. A lengthy discussion need not be put forth to demonstrate
the harmony between Westminster and the Scriptures, creeds, and
Fathers already cited. The Confession itself, Chapter VIII
"Of Christ the Mediator," sections I-III should be
sufficient to demonstrate the acceptance of the doctrine:
I. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose,
to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only-begotten Son,
to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest,
and King; the Head and Saviour of his Church, the Heir of all
things, and Judge of the world; unto whom he did, from all
eternity give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in
time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.
II. The Son of God, the second person in
the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance,
and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was
come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential
properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin:
being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of
the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole,
perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood,
were inseparably joined together in one person, without
conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very
God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between
God and man.
III. The Lord Jesus, in his human nature
thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with
the Holy Spirit above measure; having in him all the treasure
of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that
all fullness should dwell;...(39)
The greatest of the Protestant creeds clearly
bases its high view of the Lord Jesus Christ on the fact of the
Scriptural revelation of his eternal pre-existence with the
Father, in the very form of God. This writer sees any movement
away from the clear stance of Westminster (reflecting Biblical
teaching) as a move away from truth.
We have seen above that the New Testament
writers John and Paul both clearly presented the fact of the
pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did Christ exist
before his birth in Bethlehem, but he existed eternally pros
ton theon (with God) and in the very nature of God (morphe
tou theou). These are high words and concepts, to be sure;
but no less true. We have seen that the early church fathers
understood this concept (Ignatius) and made it a part of their
teaching. The council of Nicea reaffirmed the faith of the
Apostles, and the great Church fathers Chrysostom, Athanasius and
Augustine were in harmony with those who came before. Finally, we
saw that the great creed of the Protestant faith, Westminster,
continues the millenia-old understanding of Christians everywhere
that the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, has eternally been God.
1) 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21.
2) This writer sees the following passages as
directly ascribing to Jesus Christ the term God: Isaiah 9:6
(Hebrew: Elohim), John 1:1 (Greek: theos),
1:18, 20:28, Acts 20:28 (depending on text), Romans 9:5,
Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1 and (possibly) I John
5:20. Interestingly, in reference to Titus 2:13 (and 2 Peter 1:1
- both similar syntactical constructions) Chrysostom
("Homily lV on Philippians in The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers volume 13) pg.207 clearly understood the
implications of the syntax of Titus 2:13, and bases part
of his polemic against the Arians on the application of theos
to Christ. See also A. T. Robertson, The Minister and
His Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1977), pgs. 61-68.
3) F. F. Bruce Paul Apostle of the
Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1977) p. 475 places the epistles of Paul in
the following order: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 &
2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, Colossians,
Ephesians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus
with Galatians at 48 A.D., Colossians and Philippians in 60-62
A.D., and Paul's death in approximately 65 A.D. This is almost
identical to A. T. Robertson's (" Paul the Apostle" in The
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Wm.
B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1956) vol. 3:2265 - 2266) order
of writing, with the exception of Galatians, which
Robertson places just before Romans. See also Ralph Martin,
"Colossians and Philemon" in The New Century Bible
Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing
Company, 1983) pg. 30 on the dating of Colossians.
4) Merril C. Tenney, "John" in
The Expositor's Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1981) vol. 9, pp.9-10.
5) Philip Schaff, History of the Christian
Church, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company,
1985) vol.1:721-724 gives a good argument for Johanine
authorship, and dates it before 100 A.D. A.T.Robertson, Word
Pictures in the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House, 1932) vol.5:1 dates John at A.D. 90. James lverach,
"John the Apostle" in The lnternational Standard
Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1956) vol. 3:1721-1722 also dates John at the
end of the first century.
6) G.L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought,
(London: SPCK, 1952), pp. 124,141. Ralph Martin, "Colossians
and Philemon" in The New Century Bible Commentary
(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1973) pg. 58.
7) A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek
New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1934) pp. 625f. See discussion in A. T.
Robertson, The Divinity of Christ in the Gospel of John
(Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976) pp. 34-46.
8) See F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John
(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1983) p. 31,
or Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, (Grand
Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1971) pg. 77 for a
discussion of some of the issues involved in the translation of
this phrase. Most noteably, the New World Translation of the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society mistranslates the phrase as
"the Word was a god."
9) On the text of 3 John 1:18 and the
superiority of the reading theos over huios, see
Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the New Testament
(New York: United Bible Societies, 1975) p.198, A. T. Robertson, Word
Pictures in the New Testament, 5:17. For citation of
manuscripts, see the UBS text, 3rd ed. corrected, p. 322.
10) For the true meaning of monogenes
see J. H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the
Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1935) pp. 416-417.
11) Greek: exegesato, to lead out, bring
forth, make known, explain.
12) For an interesting discussion of the
relationship of the Prologue to the rest of John, see John A. T.
Robinson, Twelve More New Testament Studies (London: SCM
Press, 1984) pp. 65-76.
13) Philip B. Harner, The I Am Sayings of
Jesus in the Gospel of John, (Fortress Press, 1970).
14) Ralph Martin, "Colossians and
Philemon" pp. 55 -57; F. F. Bruce, Paul Apostle of the
Heart Set Free pp.418ff. For further information on the
passage as well as exegesis, see John Calvin, Calvin's
Commentaries vol. 21:151-152.
15) See Wilhelm Michaelis,
"Prototokos" in Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company,
1982) vol. 6:872ff.
16) See M. Tsevat, "Bekhor" in Theological
Dictionary of the old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1975) vol.2:121ff. On prototokos
see entry in Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature edited by
Gingrich and Danker, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1979) p. 726.
17) J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistles to
the Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1959) pp. 150-151. See also pp. 151-153 on the
extent of ta panta.
18) For other views and discussion on
Colossians 1:15-17 in a theological setting, see Donald Guthrie, New
Testament Theology (Inter-Varsity Press: USA, 1981)
pp.344-352; George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament
(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1974) pp.
19) Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology
pp. 342- 352; George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New
Testament pp. 419-421; Henry Alford, New Testament for
English Readers (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983) pp.
1262-1264; Kenneth Wuest, "Philippians" in Word
Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1981) pp. 62-65;J. B. Lightfoot, St.
Paul's Epistles to the Philipians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1953) p. 137.
20) See discussion under patristic
22) Both the Authorized Version and the New
International Version see that the term kenosis is always
used metaphorically by Paul hence, the translation "to make
of no repute" or to "make himself nothing." It is
never used by Paul of a literal "emptying."
23) J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines
(New York: Longman Inc., 1981) pp. 87, 91..cw 9.
24) Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, ed.,
The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1981) vol. 1:546.
25) For the text of the Nicene Creed, see J. N.
D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (New York: Longman Inc.,
1981), pp.215-216 and Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985) vol. 1:27-28.
Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom,
27) John Chrysostom, "Homilies on St.
John" in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Philip
Schaff, ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company,
1980) vol. 14:8.
Chrysostom, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Chrysostom, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, 14:18. His entire exegesis found in pages 10-19 is
Chrysostom, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Chrysostom, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Athanasius, "Four Discourses Against
the Arians" in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
(series II) ed. by Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's
Publishing Company, 1980) vol. 5:409.
Athanasius, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, vol. 4:329.
Athanasius, "Statement of Faith"
in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5:85.
Athanasius, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, vol. 5:375. See also 5:382.
36) Augustine, "Homilies on the Gospel of
John" in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series I,
edited by Philip Schaff, vol. 7:7-13. Augustine also connected
the idea of pre-existence with the absolute usage of ego eimi
at John 8:21-25 in vol. 7:218-219.
37) Augustine, "Enchiridion," in The
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3:249.
38) See also Augustine, "On Faith and
Creed" in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol.
39) Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom,