Dr. Boyd throws out a challenge to Oneness believers concerning the question of the Pre-existence of the Son of God. He cites a number of texts from John's Gospel, Paul's writings, and the epistle to the Hebrews, which seems to teach a Pre-existence of Christ as Son. Dr. Boyd then asks,
To the question whether the Son of God pre-existed, the Bible answer is yes. He did Pre-exist. But how? In Two ways. We shall first look at his Pre-existence in the Foreknowledge of God.
God is not bound by the limits of time as we are. We think and operate in terms of past, present and future. God is an eternal Present. He calls "those things which be not, as though they were" (Rom 4:17). Thus in God's mind or plan, the Son of God "existed" countless ages before He was ever born of Mary. He had "existence" in God's foreknowledge. In fact, the crucifixion is spoken of as having occurred before the "foundation of the world." (Rev 13:8). How could "the lamb" be "slain from the foundation of the world?" In God's mind and foreknowledge! Even the Church is said to have existed in God's mind "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4-5). We Christians are said to have been given grace "before the world began" (1 Tim. 1:9). This occurred in God's mind. In actuality we were not given grace until we responded to the Gospel call. So also it is with the Son. He existed in God's mind, long before His birth took place. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:18-20). The Son of God was foreordained in the mind of God, but did not take actual existence, or become manifest, until these last times. The Son's idealistic existence was in God's mind from all eternity. His actual existence in time however is pin pointed for us in scripture.
The idea of the Son existing "ideally" in the mind of God does explain a number of texts, especially those I have cited. However there are also a number of scriptures that speak of Christ in the Old Testament that cannot be explained on this basis. We read of God "who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9); and God who "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son... by whom also he made the worlds " (Heb. 1:2); and Christ Himself speaks of the glory He had with the Father "before the world was" (John 17:5). The answer to these texts lie in the scripturally revealed fact that the Son of God did Pre-exist, but not as the Son of God, for that would be the same as having a Pre-existed male human being. No, the Son Pre-existed as "the Word of God" ("the Logos" in Greek). He who was the Word of God in the Old Testament, became the Son of God in the New Testament. The Son of God, the male person born of Mary, did not pre-exist as a Son, per se. That would mean a pre-existent human being. But that does not negate the fact the He who was the Son of God in His earthly sojourn, had existed before in a different form!
John speaks of the Word (Logos in Greek) who was "in the beginning with God" and yet "was God." What was the Logos, or the Word of God?
As we have seen, the Son of God was God's visible body, form, or Temple in the New Testament times. God dwelt in Christ His Son and used Him as His own body. Whoever saw Christ, saw the Father, for God was in Christ. The Bible also teaches that God had a visible body or form in Old Testament times as well. It was not a human body of flesh, but it was a glorified body. And just as God dwelt in the human body of the Son of God after Bethlehem, so also did he dwell in the celestial body of the Word of God before Bethlehem. Whether in the Old Testament as the Word of God or in the New Testament as the Son of God, Christ has always been the visible Temple of the invisible Spirit. A Oneness "God in Christ" exists in both Testaments.
The glorious "Word" was the body God used when he "walked" with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. Naturally He would have to use some form or body to fellowship with them. They couldn't "walk" with an omnipresent Spirit!
In the time of Moses, the Elders of Israel were given a view of the Logos.
The Word of God was God's visible image in the Old Testament times. He was the "brightness of his glory and the express image of his person" (Heb. 1:3). He was the "image of the invisible God and the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). When men saw Him they saw God:
God had a visible form in the Old Testament times. Jesus spoke of God's "shape" as well as His "voice" (John 5:37). Paul mentions the "form of God" in Philip. 2:6. A pagan king once saw the "form" that was "like" the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). This "form" was the "Word of God." This "form of God" was later changed into the "form of Man" at the Incarnation for the purpose of redemption (Phil. 2:2-8).
Now we understand the meaning of John's prologue. The Word, or God's visible form, was "with God," just as our "bodies" are "with us" wherever we are. And yet the Word "was God." Because God dwelt in that "form," used it as His visible Temple, it can be said that the Word "was God." Wherever this Form appeared, It was God Himself appearing. The same situation obtains in the New Testament dispensation. Christ, the Son of God is also God's body or form. The Father is said to be "with" Christ (John 8:29), and also to be "in" Him (John 10:38), and Christ is thereby said to be God (John 20:28). Whoever saw Christ, saw God (John 14:8-10). God in Christ makes Christ God. God in the Word, made the Word God.
It was the "voice" of God, speaking out of his "shape" or visible image (John 5:37) that said: "Let there be light, and there was light." This is how the worlds were created by the Word of God (Heb. 11:3).
John Paterson was one of the most insightful writers on Oneness topics. His early work, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," was used as a Godhead textbook in the infancy of the Oneness Movement. He summarized the doctrine of the Logos in very clear and logical terminology. he writes:
"Now what is a 'word'? Is it not the expression of an inward abstract thought in a substantial concrete form. It means this in English, but as a matter of fact, the Greek word Logos means not only the expression of the thought, but also the inward thought itself. So we conclude that the Word was the visible expression of the invisible God; in other words, the invisible God embodied in visible form; and not only this, but the word was, essentially nothing less than the Eternal God Himself, as it is written 'The Word was God' " (John 1:1). (John Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, p. 9-10).
The Pre-Incarnate Christ also appeared frequently in the Old Testament times as the Jehovah Angel, or Angel of the Lord in the KJV. The Angel of the Lord was none other than the Word of God. He was the Form or Image of the Invisible God which we have already discussed. The "body of heaven" which Moses and the elders of Israel saw, the Logos or Word of God, was none other than the glorious Angel of Jehovah. In the Old Testament dispensation the invisible God was embodied in the visible form of Christ as the Angel of God. In New Testament times the same God is embodied in the physical form of Christ as the Son of God. Christ has always been God's Temple or body, whether as the Angel of God, or as Son of God. The same Oneness truth prevails throughout recorded (and unrecorded) history, namely that the one divine invisible Spirit has always had his physical Person in whom He dwelt and manifested Himself. This Christ, whether as Angel of God or Son of God has always been the Mediator between the invisible God and his visible creation. An examination of some of the frequent appearances of the Angel of Jehovah will prove very enlightening on this theme. It must always be borne in mind that we are not talking about "two distinct persons in the Godhead." For God the Father is not a Person; he is a divine Omnipresent Spirit (John 4:24). Christ, whether as Angel of God or Son of God, has always been God's Only Person, God's visible Image. God the invisible Spirit has always embodied his essential deity and nature in the visible body of His "Person," the Christ.
In Gen. 28:13 Jacob had a vision of God at Bethel. God declared to him at this time that He was "The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac." Twenty-One years later the Angel of God appeared to Jacob and told him that He was the God that appeared to Him at Bethel (Gen. 31:11-13). Thus the Angel of God is the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac!
Shortly after this a "man" wrestled with Jacob (Gen. 32:24). This mysterious "man" is called the "face of God." What Jacob saw was the Logos, the "image of the invisible God." This was the pre-incarnate Christ, then known as the Angel of the Lord.
The Prophet Hosea speaking about Jacob's unusual "wrestling match" said, "Yea, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel... even Jehovah God of hosts: Jehovah is his memorial" (Hosea 12:4-5 margin). Here we see that the mysterious "man" who wrestled with Jacob, as a man, is none other than the Angel of the Lord, and in His divine nature, Jehovah God Himself! Jacob wrestled with God in Christ! And this is the same One who is described as the "Word" who was in the Beginning, and was God! There can be no other conclusion. Jacob's mysterious "man" is identified by Hosea as the Angel of God. And this Angel of God is defined by the same prophet as Jehovah God.
The Angel of the Lord figures prominently in the life of Moses and in the Wilderness History of Israel. In Exodus 3:2 the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. When Moses drew nigh the bush the Angel said, "I am the God of thy Father, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). It is clear that the Angel was Christ, the visible image of the invisible God, because the same verse says: "And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God."
God promised to lead the children of Israel by means of His Angel manifestation. "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared." Christ as the Angel of God led the earthly Israel to an earthly Promised Land. But in this dispensation, Christ as the Son of God, leads the "spiritual Israel," His church, to their heavenly home:
Christ has always been the divine name bearer. This is because wherever the fullness of the divine nature is embodied, there God's throne is also. Christ, the human Son of God, was the Temple of the embodied Father, hence he had the Father's name, and announced the fact in John 5:43:
When Christ was here on earth as the Son of God he shocked the Pharisees by forgiving sin. In Luke 5:20 he said to the palsied man:
The Angel of God in the Old Testament also "had power upon the earth" to forgive sins:
The Angel of God is to be obeyed as God Himself:
The most positive identification of the Son of God with the pre-incarnate Angel of the Lord is found in Malachi's prophecy. In the first verse of the third chapter we read:
"This is the Covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb. 10:16-17). In the Old Testament as the Angel of God, the Christ delivered the Old Covenant to the Old Israel. Now in the New testament, as the Son of God, He delivers the New Covenant to the New Israel.
The Angel of the Lord is also designated as the "Angel of His Presence":
What does it mean when the Jehovah-Angel is called the Angel of God's Presence? It means exactly what it implies. God's very presence, his essence or nature, is embodied in this Angel. The Angel is God manifested in a visible Form. We cannot strictly call it an "incarnation" for that refers only to human bodies. But, as John Paterson put it:
The same passage in Isaiah indicates that the Angel of God is the Saviour (Isa. 63:8,9). There can be only One Saviour, and that is Jehovah. Isaiah himself told us that:
Some may wonder if it is correct to refer to the Angel of the Lord as "Christ". They have assumed this is a New Testament designation only. Christ is Greek for the "Anointed One." The Hebrew form is "Messiah", and as such was certainly used in the Old Testament, used by the Jews of Christ's day, contained the Word Christ (Christos-Greek). The Angel of God, being the embodiment of both God's nature and name, was certainly the "Anointed One" or "Christ" in Old Testament times.
In fact, the Bible specifically refers to the Angel of the Lord as Christ, and in more than one reference.
In 1 Cor. 10:4, Paul designates the Angel of the Lord that was with Israel in the wilderness, guiding and protecting them, as "Christ."
Peter refers to the Holy Spirit which operated in the Old Testament Prophets as the "Spirit of Christ" (1 Peter 1:11). How could there be a "Spirit of Christ" back then, if there was no Christ Himself! Remember, Isaiah talks about the Angel of His Presence, and how Israel vexed "his holy Spirit" (Isa. 63:9-10). Apparently the Angel administered the divine Spirit to Israel, for it was "His" Holy Spirit, and thus, Peter calls "the Spirit of Christ." Hence the Angel was Christ.
Isaiah saw the Angel of the Lord seated on the throne in heaven as the embodiment of God (Isaiah 6:1). Yet John says that Isaiah saw Christ's glory and wrote of it (John 12:41).
The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon (Judges 6:12). The words the Angel spoke are identified as Jehovah speaking directly to Gideon:
In Judges 13 the Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah's wife and assures her that she will conceive. The woman describes her visitor to her as husband as "a man of God" with the "countenance of an Angel of God." Manoah prayed that the Heavenly visitor return to give them more instructions (v.8). The Angel of God did return and gave them more information about their forthcoming son, Sampson. As the Angel was about to leave, Manoah asked what the Angel's name was (v. 18). The Angel said his Name was "Wonderful" (v. 18 margin). This clearly identifies the Angel as Christ, the image of the invisible God, for he is called "Wonderful" in Isa. 9:6. Are there two "Wonderfuls?" Not likely. When the Angel of the Lord left, it finally "dawned on" Manoah they had actually been communing with God in His Angelic Form as the Word, and Manoah exclaimed:
We already reviewed the incident when Jacob wrestled with the Angel of God (Gen. 32:24-30). He, too, asked the Angel for His name. His request was denied. The Angel said His Name was "Wonderful," meaning "secret". It would not be revealed until Christ was born at Bethlehem, when we hear:
The same "Word" (Logos) appeared as the Angel of the Lord to Joshua and identified Himself as the "Captain of the Lord's Host" (Joshua 5:14). He then commanded Joshua to worship Him, which he did! (Joshua 5:15). There can only be One "Captain" and his name is identified in Hebrews 2:10 as Christ! As the Angel of God, Christ was Israel's Captain for earthly warfare. But now as Son of God, Christ is the Captain of our salvation in spiritual warfare! In both dispensations it was necessary for the "captain" to come to earth and "appear" before his "troops," and lead them in battle!
Zechariah relates a mystifying incident involving Joshua the High Priest (not the same Joshua who succeeded Moses). He saw Joshua the High Priest standing before the "Angel of the Lord" and Satan standing on the right hand, resisting him (Zech. 3:1). The Angel, speaking as a "man" would, rebukes Satan saying:
In the first chapter of Zechariah we encounter the same phenomenon. The Angel, speaking as a "man" would, asked God; "O Lord of Hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem" (Zech 1:12). Yet in the second chapter the same Angel replied in the First Person, as Jehovah God Himself, saying: "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about" (Zech. 2:5). This we see that God's Word in the Old Testament on occasions can speak from his nature or perspective as the Angel of God, the Messenger, or He may speak out of the divine nature resident in Him as Father. The same pattern we notice in the New testament concerning our Lord, who sometimes spoke as a man, as when he inquired about Lazarus' burial site: "Where have they laid him," and sometimes spoke as God, as when he commanded Lazarus to rise: "Lazarus, come forth!"
The same "dual speech" from the one Person is glimpsed in the incident of Abraham offering up Isaac. When Abraham had demonstrated his faith, the Angel of God addressed him thusly: "I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me" (Gen. 22:12). First he speaks of God as apparently distinct -- "I know thou fearest God." And then the same Angel speaks directly as God Himself: "Thou hast not withheld thy son...from me.!
The same "key" of the "Dual natures of Christ," which explains such speech in the New Testament, can also be used to "unlock" the mystery of such speech in the Old Testament. For in both cases we are dealing with the same God in the same Christ.
In the history of redemption the time came when he who had been God's "Heavenly body", known as the Word or Angel of God, would become the human Son of God. the Lord, "Whom ye seek," would suddenly come to his human "temple" (Mal. 3:1; John 2:19). God's glorious Personal Form, His Old Testament Image, had to be "laid aside." The price of redemption required the shedding of blood. The Angel of Jehovah, the Word, was a celestial body. (Ex. 24:10). It was not composed of "flesh and blood". It was visible and tangible, but lacked the key elements for salvation, namely blood that could be shed, and flesh that could be pierced (Heb. 9:22). It had served its purpose. So the Scriptures tell us that the "Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). This mystery occurred through the process of the Virgin Birth. The glorious body of the Old Testament Word was transformed into a flesh body known as the Son of God. There was no Son of God until the flesh body emerged from the womb of the Virgin Mary:
"God sent forth His Son made of a woman" (Gal. 4:4).
Paul talks of this "transformation of bodies" in Philippians the second chapter. He speaks of Christ who had been in the "form of God" and was the visible equivalent of the invisible God in earlier times (Philip. 2:6). This "form" was the Angel of God, and the "Body of Heaven." However Paul tells us that this "body" or "form" was exchanged for the "form of a servant" and the "likeness of a man" (v. 7). This is when the "Word was made flesh" and the whole idea of Christ laying aside the glorious "form of God" and taking upon himself the "fashion of a man" was for the purpose of dying on the cross for our sins (v.8).
It should be mentioned at this point, that much "misinformation" is being circulated by trinitarians concerning the interpretation of the word "form". The Greek word for "form" in this text is "morphe". While this word may embrace more than just the outward or visible form, its primary meaning is related to visible physical appearance, or outward form. In fact, in the writings of the earliest Latin fathers and in the Latin Vulgate, the word is translated by a Latin phrase that is strictly understood in a physical outward sense. The only other place that "morphe" is used in the Bible is Mark 16:12, and there it clearly refers to Christ's physical visible body. To try and translate "form" as something other than "that which strikes the eye" or "physical body" or "appearance," is simply to mistranslate it. So the "form of God" was a visible tangible body which could be seen. Christ called it God's "shape" (John 5:37), and said it could be "seen." He ought to know!
God inhabiting the body of the Angelic-Word could never have offered that up on the cross for redemption. So God, through the Incarnation and Virgin Birth, transformed his immortal celestial body into a mortal human body. The "form of God" became the "form of man." And as God has been "incarnate" in the Pre-Bethlehem Angel-Image, so was he also incarnate in his post-Bethlehem human image. God took this body to the cross (Heb. 9:14), offered it for salvation, withdrew from it so it could die (Mark 15:34), and after three days re-entered and resurrected it (John 2:19-20). Now that body, having been resurrected and glorified, is similar to what the One God had in the Old Testament.
Christ Himself made reference to his previous glorious "form" which he possessed in ancient times when he spoke of "the glory" which He had with the Father "before the world was." This was His glory as the Word of God, the "Body of Heaven" which was mediator to all God's universe. His form as Angel of God was "glorious", especially in comparison to the human form in which he now existed, and by which "he humbled Himself, being obedient unto death" (Philip. 2:8). Nevertheless, in his resurrection and glorification Christ regains that glory which he had.
There are some passages, very few, that refer to the Old Testament Word of God as "Son." One such example is in Hebrews 1:2, which talks of the worlds being created "by the Son." How can this be, if the Son did not exist until the "Word was made flesh" at Bethlehem? The answer is very simple. In these instances the Bible writers are simply talking about the one who would later (at Bethlehem) be known as Son. They do not mean he was Son at that time. They are projecting His birth-acquired title back through time. This is a common practice, even in today's speech. I once saw a film where the narrator said: "This is the cabin where President Lincoln was born." Was he "President" at the time of his birth in that humble cabin? Of course not. But he who would become President, had been born there. In the same way we hear of the High School that President Nixon attended and the football field President Reagan played on. Were they President at the time? Certainly not. They did not become President till long after their High School and football days. The speaker is merely using a title they acquired later in life to more fully describe them. He is projecting a title back in time. So when we hear of the world being created "by the Son" we understand it is the Word that is being referred to and not a pre-existent human being. In other words, he that would later be known as the Son, created the worlds. But he did not do it as "Son". He was the Word at that time. His Sonship acquired title (Son) is being projected back.
Even Trinitarians admit this is so:
Some may be wondering if this concept of "God in Christ" in both Testaments is in conformity with Biblical Oneness. Nothing could be more Oneness, and as I will shortly prove, this message was an original and authentic part of early Oneness Exegesis. If God the Father, as a divine Spirit, can be manifested in the body of Christ in the New Testament, and it be Oneness, then why can't the same God be similarly manifested in the body of Christ in the Old Testament? If God in Christ is Oneness in the New Testament, why is it not in the Old Testament? The only difference involves the bodies in which he dwelt. In the Old Testament it was a celestial body, known as the Word of God. In the New Testament it is a human body, known as the Son of God. It is the same God, the same Christ, and the same indwelling. Only the form of Christ's body has changed, from the "form of God" to the "form of man."
God in Christ in the Old Testament is shown to be Redeemer, Saviour, Captain, and Provider. The Angel of God embodies God's Presence or divine nature, and bears God's name, and administers God's Spirit. He who sees the Angel of God sees God.
God in Christ in the New Testament is also revealed as Redeemer, Saviour, Captain and Provider. The Son of God likewise embodies God's presence or divine nature, and He too bears the Father's name and administers God's Spirit. He who sees the Son of God, sees God also.
Neither in the Old or New Testament are we speaking of "two distinct
persons." The only Person is Christ, God's Image. He has always been the
Person of God. God Himself is not a Person, divine or otherwise. He is
never called a "person" in Scripture. God is a Spirit (John 4:24). So what
we have is one invisible Spirit dwelling and manifesting Himself in One
visible Image, known as the Angel of God in one dispensation and the Son
of God in another. Pray tell, where are there two persons anywhere?
Many of the early pioneers of Oneness truth recognized and taught the concept of God in Christ in the Old Testament. It was part and parcel of the message. It did not receive as much attention as the New Testament "God in Christ" truth due to the fact that the battle lines with Trinitarians were primarily drawn on New Testament territory. Nevertheless they recognized the important truths concerning the Jehovah Angel as the Word of God. The neglect of this aspect of Oneness has resulted in much needless controversy with Trinitarians, where time might have been more profitably spent. Oneness exponents of today need to realize, as their forebearers did, that the "idealistic Son doctrine" will never adequately answer all the texts presented to us on the pre-existent Christ by our opponents. The entire oneness message will never come into complete harmony without this segment of the Truth being fully integrated into our theology. Let us now examine the record of our early writers.
Bishop Haywood, first Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, was a theologian, journalist, composer and artist. A genius by the definition of the term. His theological works on Oneness were among the first to appear. Concerning the Angel of Jehovah as the Word, he wrote:
"When Jacob wrestled with the Angel he sought to obtain the secret name, but was prohibited... The children of Israel were led by the Angel of the Lord and Jehovah said, 'Beware of him...for my name is in him' (Ex. 23:21). To Manoah, the Jehovah Angel replied, 'Why asketh thou after my name, seeing it is secret (margin, Wonderful)?' (Judges 13:18). The Prophet Isaiah declared that his name shall be called 'Wonderful' (Isa. 9:6). From these scriptures it can be clearly seen the Jehovah had a name to be revealed which was above all his names! There is not a shadow of a doubt but that the angel that appeared to the Virgin of Nazareth was the Jehovah Angel of old who bore that "Wonderful' name. It was there that he had finished his journey over the hills of time and deposited that secret name in the bosom of her who was 'highly favoured of God.' ..The Word was God from the beginning (John 1:1-4) and when the Word became flesh, it was given a name that 'is above every name,' for he there and then 'magnified his Word' above all His name. His name shall be called Jesus!" (Haywood, p. 13-14).
In 1920 John Paterson wrote his classic Oneness Treatise entitled "Revelation of Jesus Christ." This was used as a textbook in early Oneness circles and was printed by both G.T. Haywood and A.D. Urshan. It has been reprinted by Word Aflame Press under the Title "God in Christ Jesus. Bro. Paterson, whom I knew, presented me with a personally autographed copy of his book when he first reprinted it. I quote now from this Oneness pioneer's masterful work which contains over 800 scripture references:
Bro. Ewart was the first to see the light on Water Baptism in Jesus' Name as the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19. Back in 1913 he began baptizing in Jesus' name those first Oneness believers. He was also an articulate author. Concerning the Pre-existent Christ, he writes:
C.H. Yadon, a well revered Oneness Pioneer, had reprinted a remarkable book entitled "Jehovah-Jesus." This book was originally written by one R.D. Weeks. For years this book was the principal Godhead work circulated by the United Pentecostal Church. Often quoted out of context, and distorted grossly by enemies of Oneness, the book fell into disfavour, and has not been reprinted in years. However it contained a very thorough exposition of the Angel of Jehovah as the Pre-Existent Christ and the embodiment of the Father. He wrote:
In the early 1930's the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Theodore Fitch, who was a Trinitarian, and revealed the Oneness of the Godhead to him. Rev. Fitch immediately set about writing his book "The Deity of Jesus." It is still the most comprehensive work ever published on the Oneness. Fitch wrote many other books on the Oneness which enjoyed wide circulation among believers. I quote from "The Deity of Jesus" page 4:
"Before the incarnation, the fullness of God dwell in a Spirit body which was in the form of a man. This beautiful angel body was made flesh by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This made the God-Angel a God-man... If the Word or 'Person' of God was made flesh, then the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father.. The Word that was God, was 'made over' into a flesh man (John 1:14). When God the Word was made flesh, he became a Son, but still remained God, he still remained the same Person... The angel Person of the Lord from Heaven is now called the Son of God" (Fitch, p. 22,23).
Bro. Vouga's popular little book "Our Gospel Message" has this to say concerning the Son of God and his Pre-existence as the Word of God on p. 28:
"'But made himself of no reputation (Nay, he stripped Himself of glory - Weymouth), and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,' Phil. 2:7. He left the glory of the Father, that is stripped Himself of divine glory, but not of deity, and was made flesh... He is now glorified with the Father with the glory He had before the world was (John 17:5). (Oscar Vouga, Our Gospel Message, p. 28).
"Is Jesus in the Godhead or is the Godhead in Jesus" is the famous little book by the well known Apostle to Ireland, Gordon Magee. On page 7 of the original edition published by the author (It has been changed in the revised edition published by Word Aflame Press), we read,
We have seen that the Son of God, the man Christ Jesus, pre-existed as the Word (Logos) or Angel of the Lord. We have also seen that this Word or Angel was God's visible Image and Mediator in the Old Testament. He was God's personal Form. The invisible divine Spirit was "incarnate" in this Angel of God, just as he would later be in the Son of God. This explains how the Word was "with God" and yet "was God" and how God created all things "by Christ Jesus." The question now before us concerns the origin of this Word or Angel. Was he "created" or "eternal" or "begotten?"
The origin of the Logos is shrouded in mystery. We know the Word was "in the beginning" (John 1:1) and existed before "the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). This much we know. Trinitarians feel the Logos was "eternal." They base their reasoning on such texts as Micah 5:2 which speaks of his "goings forth" which "have been of eternity." Also Proverbs 8:23 "I was set up from everlasting."
Others, including Oneness theologians, feel the Logos had a definite origin. They point to Christ's statement in Rev. 3:14, where he referred to Himself as "The Beginning of the Creation of God." They view this as a reference to his Pre-existence as the Logos. The passage in Colossians 1:15-19 is also used to prove the argument. Christ is called the "image of the invisible God" in verse 15. This, as we have seen, is the Word or Angel of the Lord. The same verse also calls Him "the Firstborn of every creature." This, like the title in Rev. 3:14, is the instrument of creation "for by him were all things created" (v. 16). And this was possible only because the Father was dwelling in Him as His divine nature: "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." (v. 19). This "fullness" is the Godhead, "for in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). Heb 1:6 is also taken as a reference to his primeval origin. This "first begotten" however receives worship, "let all the Angels of God worship him." Thus, the divine nature of God is resident or incarnate in the First Begotten, making him also God and worthy of worship.
Christ as the Word or Jehovah Angel is said to be the "first born" and "first begotten." Based on what we know these expressions could never be taken literally, for that would require a "divine mother" pre-existing in heaven; "begotten" and "born" are earthly terms, defined by human reproduction. Christ's birth at Bethlehem was a literal begetting because he had a "real" mother and was actually "born." God was the real Father of that child, howbeit through a miraculous birth. So Col. 1:15 and Heb. 1:6 must be taken as highly figurative language which refers to a process about which we have no real understanding or capacity to understand.
It is apparent from reading the creeds and the writings of the early church Fathers that they believed in the origin of the Logos in Pre-Creation times. The idea of an "eternal generation" always going on, and a "birth always taking place" but never culminating were later "twists" woven around the original and unambiguous statements. We shall examine some.
Considered the oldest, though not written by the Apostles. It contains no reference to the Pre-existent Logos, or His being "begotten." It also makes no reference to the deity of Christ. Aryans, Trinitarians, and Sabellianists, could all easily subscribe to this creed. It is "controversy free." No wonder its popularity has endured!
This creed refers to the Son's pre-existence and origin as Logos in these words:
This, the lengthiest of all creeds, speaks of Christ as "begotten before the worlds," but "of the substance of the Father." He is still "begotten before all worlds," but the idea is that he was generated from the Father's "substance."
A very interesting discussion concerning the Word appears in Dr. E.W. Bullinger's previously cited "Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek Testament." The doctrine Dr. Bullinger brings forth, although he is an ardent Trinitarian, is almost word-for-word the Oneness position on Christ as the Word, or Angel of God. Here is what he says:
"Elohim, therefore, is the Logos or Word, who took creaturehood, to create, (as afterwards took humanity, to redeem). As such He is the Father's 'Servant,' 'Angel,' or 'Messenger.' (Elohim denotes His being set apart to the office with an oath; Messiah or Christ, His anointing to the work of redemption; Angel or Messenger, referring to his actual dispatch; Servant, with reference to the service actually to be done). He appeared to Adam and the Patriarchs, (Gen. 17, 17, 18, 21, 22, 32; Ex. 3, 6; Joshua 5:13-15 with Ex. 23:23; Judges 13, etc., etc.) This view only makes permanent that which most commentators assume as being only temporary.
"His mission in connection with creation was to manifest Deity to His creatures, (Prov. 8:22-31). His work was begun with Adam (made in His likeness and image), but the Fall interrupted the mission, and it was necessarily suspended. Then 'the Word was made flesh' (John 1:14) in order that He might redeem creation from the curse. Made flesh in order that He might suffer and die (See Heb. 10:5, Ps 40:6; Isa. 42:40, Philip. 2:7)." (Bullinger, p. 896-897).
Christ Himself may have been speaking of his beginning as Word of Jehovah Angel in a number of statements He made. These statements have a cryptic and mystifying ring to them and may be capable of deeper interpretation than what we have accorded them.
In his final prayer Christ says:
The Word of God, as God's creature form (Bullinger, p. 896) came forth from the omnipotent Spirit in the dateless past before the :"Foundation of the world." The emergence of the Angel of Jehovah as God's "celestial body" and "mediator" at this remote time is scripturally assured for us (Micah 5:2, Prov. 8:23; John 17:24). But is there any sense in which it could be said that the Word was eternal?
Yes, in the sense of having existed in God's mind or foreknowledge as an unexpressed thought, destined to take substantial form in time. The Word did not exist eternally as a "distinct" divine Second Person in the Godhead. There was no "persons" at all, just Spirit, until the Jehovah Angel was brought forth as God's Person. And it was in this one and only Person of the Word that God took up residence and deposited his divine nature.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, of all books, has this to say on the subject: