Ep49-The Relation of the Father & the Son in the New Testament - Of God and Gods Ch 4

Topics Discussed:
• Acts 2:30–36: Christ as Lord at God’s Right Hand
• Acts 7:51–60: Christ as Lord and Son of Man
• Philippians 2:1–15: Christ Exalted as Lord by God
• 1 Corinthians 15:24–28: Christ as God’s Vizier and General
• 1 Corinthians 8:4–6: One God and One Lord
• Christ as God’s Agent in Creation

Show Notes:


“Perhaps the most prominent feature of Christian scriptural interpretation of the relation of the Father to the Son is the practice of identifying Old Testament scriptures that refer to two divine beings—and even two distinct heavenly figures who are both referred to as “God” in Hebrews and the Gospel of John. It is a practice that is present throughout the New Testament and became prominent even in later Christian scriptural arguments as demonstrated by Justin Martyr.”

Acts 2:30–36: Christ as Lord at God’s Right Hand

“In this remarkable passage, we have an echo of the belief of the earliest Christians, stated and summarized publicly for the first time after the resurrection. Jesus is the Messiah as the descendant of David. God the Father has vindicated Jesus’s claim to be king through the resurrection which culminated in the Father’s exalting him and placing him on a throne at his own right hand.”

“The Father is not abdicating the throne of heaven to his son as a successor heir; rather, he is sharing the co-rule of heavens and earth with Jesus Christ.”

“This allusion to Psalm 110 is all the more remarkable because its use appears to be utterly unique in the literature of Second Temple Judaism. Psalm 110 is the Old Testament text most often cited throughout the New Testament.”

“The notion suggested by Richard Bauckham that allusions to Psalm 110 envision Christ on the very throne of God misrepresents Christ’s status. Christ is not seated on the throne of God; rather, Christ is the divine vizier, exalted by God to sit at his right hand.5 Bauckham misses the fact that Psalm 110 was used by Christians precisely because Yahweh, “the Lord,” exalts another as “my Lord.” It is the very fact that this passage refers to two distinct figures that made it amenable to Christian exegesis. Christ is the Davidic king, and the Davidic king is the Son of God who has been deified as a God to be God’s vizier and ruler on earth.”

“However, if there are two Lords, two “Adonais,” then how is monotheism or commitment to the one God maintained? Kingship monotheism is maintained because Christ’s status as the Lord is given to him by the one God. The position as God’s heir and royal vizier derives from the benefaction and honor of the one God. Christ’s place is at the right hand of God, not in the place of the one God.”

When did he become Lord?  Mark says at baptism, Paul says at ressurection

Acts 7:51–60: Christ as Lord and Son of Man

“...they cried that he had committed blasphemy warranting stoning. The Jews were “merely” angered at Stephen’s claim that they had murdered Jesus; but his claim to see Jesus standing as the Son of Man at the right hand of God outraged them so that they “covered their ears” and picked up stones to kill him on the spot. They clearly regarded Stephen’s claim as blasphemy. However, Jesus does not sit on a throne but “stands” at the right of God, thus indicating that he is both distinct from and subordinate to God. He is God’s royal vizier. ”

“ The attractiveness of the vision of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 for the earliest Christians is threefold. Jesus of Nazareth probably referred to himself as the Son of Man prior to his death. Thus, the image of the Son of Man provided a connection between the message of the mortal Jesus and the resurrected Christ. Second, the Gospels echo Daniel 7 in describing Christ as the Son of Man “coming in a cloud with power and glory” to judge the entire earth (Matt. 24:29–31, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27): “But in those days after tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the ‘Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send his angels and gather [his] elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (Mark 13:24–26).”

“The text in Daniel describes a second power in heaven—a second level of authority under the Most High God who gives authority to the Son of Man to rule in his place. As we saw in Chapter 3, a vizier or second power in heaven was common in Jewish literature, whether that vizier was Michael, Enoch, Melchizedek, Moses, Abraham, or another of the gods.”

“Stephen was claiming that Jesus is the second deity of Daniel 7 given power over the nations by the Most High God. In fact, the same authority to rule over the nations of the earth that was stripped from the gods in the council of El Elyon in Psalm 82 is returned to Jesus.”

Philippians 2:1–15: Christ Exalted as Lord by God

“The imagery of God giving his name to another and exalting Christ to the status of Lord is also reflected in Philippians 2. This passage is one of the most debated in Christian scripture and the number of scholarly studies attempting to interpret it is truly staggering.”

“ it is important to note that Philippians presents a three-stage progression of Christ in relation to the Father which culminates in his exaltation by the Father.15 In the first stage, the Son is equal to God in glory and even in his likeness or form. In the second stage, Christ empties himself of this equality to become a servant of God in the likeness of a mortal. He becomes obedient to God by suffering death. Because of his obedience by suffering death on a cross, in the third stage God exalts him to the highest status possible by giving him the divine name.”

“We thus see a pattern emerging in early Christian exegesis. Texts which refer to the Lord and permit a reading that distinguishes the Lord from God are adopted to explain the relationship between the one God, the Father, and the Lord, the Son.”

“It is significant that, while Paul substitutes “Jesus” for “Lord” in his genuine letters more than fifty times, he never replaces “Jesus Christ” or “Lord” where “God” (Elohim, El, or ho theos) appears in the underlying Hebrew or Septuagint texts.”

“While the Father and the Son share the same name, glory, exaltation, and honor, Christ is not seen as identical with the one God, the Father. The identities of giver and receiver are clearly differentiated.”

1 Corinthians 15:24–28: Christ as God’s Vizier and General

“This passage is the clearest indication in Paul’s letters that he views Christ as God’s chief agent and vice-regent second only to God the Father.”

“The comparison with Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls, who plays the same role as the general who leads the heavenly assembly of gods against the enemies of God (the minions of Beliel who are the fallen angels referred to in Psalm 82), is fairly transparent. I am not claiming that 1 Corinthians 15 is dependent on the Melchizedek text; rather, there was a common tradition that God’s vice regent would defeat the enemies of God and deliver the undisputed rule of the kingdom to God.”

1 Corinthians 8:4–6: One God and One Lord

“The text of 1 Corinthians 8:5 is one of the most important glosses on an Old Testament text in Paul’s letters. It expresses his commitment to one God while also exalting Christ to the status of Lord within the context of a statement that probably echoed the Shema to those who read it from a Jewish background.”

“That Paul does not intend to simply equate the Father and the Son with the “one God” is made clear by the fact that they are joined by <Greek script> (kai, “and”), meaning essentially “in addition to.” Further, it is clear that the word <Greek script> (theos) or “God” refers to the Father and not to Jesus Christ. Yet if that is so, then how can Paul avoid the implication that the Shema actually refers to two divine beings rather than the one? It is fairly evident that, because Paul identifies the one God as the Father alone, the “Lord Jesus Christ” is not identified as the one God. Thus, there is only one God.”

Discuss Bauckham’s interpretation of this passage...

Christ as God’s Agent in Creation

“The view that Christ was the agent of creation acting as the Father’s exact image emerged within the first generation of Christian writers. In the Pauline epistle to the Colossians, we find another hymn that reflects a belief that Christ is the preexistent creator of all things and the redeemer of all humankind”

“Ephesians also recognizes again the formula of one Lord and one God—but this time in the context of being the model of the saints’ unity through their baptism in Christ: “live worthy of the call you have received . . . striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in all” (Eph. 4:1–5; emphasis mine). Such views are significant because the relation of the Father to the Son is seen as the same relation that prevails between God and believers.”

“The same image of Christ as God’s agent in creation is found in Hebrews, probably written shortly before 70 a.d. Once again, Christ is recognized as the image of the Father—the very copy of his being. ”

“Thus, kingship monotheism is maintained because, although Christ is recognized as divine in the sense that he undertakes the divine prerogative of creation and is made higher than all the other heavenly beings, he is still subordinate to the Father who grants his honor to him as heir. He acts because the Father authorized him. The name that Christ inherits, “Lord,” is derived as a result of his relationship to the Father. Christ is honored as God’s adopted son. None of the angels have been given such an honor.”

Talk about Hebrews use of God as title and ...“the notion that “his mighty word” sustains all things may well reflect the beginning of the view of God’s Word found in the prologue to the Gospel of John where the Word is both God and also next to God.”

Terrence Callan concludes that there were two uses of the title “God,” one that was used more loosely as a common noun or title and permitted the view that there were other divine agents alongside the one God and a stricter use of “God” as a proper noun that named the one God. He believes that the title or common noun use of the word “god” was more at home in the world of Hellenistic polytheism where humans were often seen as divine figures when they were called a “son of God.” However, he believes that the proper noun use of the word “god” endured alongside the view that there were beings properly called gods in Judaism until Judaism rejected the Christian view as a theology of a second god: “When Jews and Christians used ‘god’ in [the sense of a common noun or title] they were not identifying this ‘god’ with the God who is revealed in the Bible, nor were they seriously affirming the existence of more than one god. Rather they were locating ‘god’ in the category of the divine.”


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