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stance and nature. I think, however, the former interpretation is not only possible, but the natural
The neuter èv (one), is used in the Greek. “The phrase to be one in the New Testament,” says Schleusner, “signifies to be closely joined to some one, chiefly in counsel, mind, or power; to agree in opinion, to be of the same mind.” In the context from verse 26, our Lord says his sheep hear his voice, and he knows them, and no one shall pluck them out of his hand. Then he goes on to state the reasons: "My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” To say that no one shall pluck them out of my hand is the same as to say no one shall pluck them out of my Father's hand, for He will uphold me and mine; thus, “I and my Father are one” is equivalent to saying, the Father will fulfil this promise of mine, just as if. He had made it directly from Himself. Immediately after this the Jews brought forward the accusation which gave rise to the remarkable words, “If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God ?” John x. 35, 36. To denote harmony of purpose and action, the expression to be one is used in reference to Paul and Apollos, “He that planteth and he that watereth are one," 1 Cor. iii. 8. But surely in the same gospel our Lord explains himself. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you,” John xiv. 20.
“ And now I am no
more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. ... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art 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; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved me," xvii. 11, 20, 21, 22, 23.
To Mr. Bickersteth it seems a degradation to Christ to apply the term oneness, with at all the same kind of meaning in the two instances; but we have Christ's very words, “one, even
as we are one." These words we must accept, and moreover, whatever interpretation we may adopt of the union between God and Christ, it must not contradict the simple declarations, “My Father is greater than I," “My Father is greater than all.”
“Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” Phil. ii. 6. original word translated form means,” says Olshausen, “the external appearance and representation, consequently just the very opposite of ovoia (entity, essence, nature), in so far as this denotes what lies beneath the form, and comes to be represented in it.” A large number of the ablest critics, Trinitarian as well as Unitarian, think the phrase translated
“thought it not robbery,” would be better rendered by "did not eagerly covet," or "did not regard it as a thing to be seized.” The reader will see the importance of this alteration if he bear in mind that St. Paul is urging humility after the example of Christ.* The passage, therefore, may be paraphrased thus : “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, who, though he was as God, being God's divinely anointed Son, yet did not lay claim to divine honors, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and becoming like men, etc.” This interpretation seems the only consistent one when we read what follows: “Wherefore” (that is, on account of Christ's humility) “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in Heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Col. ii. 9. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” The Christians of Colosse are told to beware lest any man spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily, and in him ye have your fulness, for he is the head of all the principalities and powers. Is not this in substance what is taught repeatedly in the New Testament, that we have in Christ a full
* If stress be laid on the word 'nápxwv, I refer the reader to Luke xxiii. 50; Acts vii. 55; xvi. 20.
and complete manifestation of God, a knowledge of Him and means of access to Him, by the side of which all mere human attempts to know or approach Him are poor and vain ; in short we have God in Christ. If the apostle meant to teach that Christ was the supreme God, may we not suppose St. Paul would have said, “He is God himself?” The fulness dwells in him, but is of another, for “ it pleased (the Father)* that in him should all fulness dwell.” Here, as in so many instances, while some able Trinitarian commentators and controversialists maintain that this passage is a proof of Christ's Deity, there are others who uphold the view which I have stated. For example, Professor Stuart says, “In Eph. iii. 19 the apostle exhibits his fervent wishes that the Christians of Ephesus might be filled with all the fulness of God! By comparing this expression as applied to Christ in Col. i. 19, ii. 9, with John i. 14, 16, and Eph. i. 23, it appears evident that by the fulness of God is meant the abundant gifts and graces which were bestowed on Christ, and through him upon his disciples.” Alford directs attention to Deótns, the abstract of Θεός, as not to be confounded with θειότης, the abstract of Ocios, divine; and urges that the anpapa should be interpreted metaphysically. But when God's relation to His people through His prophets, and through the Son is spoken of, it is said, not divineness shall dwell in them, but God dwelleth in them, God hath visited them. Christ was not
* The words, “ The Father," are not in the original, but they are very properly supplied by our translators.—Dr. Macknight.
a mere manifestation of divineness as a quality, but of God as our living Father.
Such is the direct evidence in favor of the Deity of Christ, and such are the reasons which have led some Christians to feel that the
adduced are susceptible of a simple and natural interpretation, not inconsistent with the plain and repeated declaration of Holy Scripture that the Father is the only true God.
Before concluding this chapter I wish to make a few observations on expressions by Mr. Bickersteth, which, through a fear of derogating from Christ's honor, might deter some persons from receiving the interpretations I have suggested. In connection with the words, “ I and my Father are one," “ Even as we are one :” “ The Word was God,” “ He calleth them gods to whom the word of God came," we find such expressions as the following, “O base unbelief, O hateful suspicion ;” “I blush for myself and for human nature to confess that these (combinations of texts) once troubled my peace, and are, I know, at the present moment darkening the faith of many;" “Every generous feeling within you brands it as the basest ingratitude to allege these proofs of his humanity in disproof of his Deity, to trample on his lowliness that you may pluck the diadem from his brow;" “ Can we forgive ourselves if we deliberately select the instances of our Lord's lowest humiliation, and cast them in his teeth ?" I do not quote these things to complain of them, for I believe they proceed, first, from fervent love of Christ, and secondly,