“He Made Himself of No Reputation”

By Eusebio Tanicala

Our matter oriented mind,  our vocabulary may talk about the fusion and complete congruence of three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in One God is an idea that is very difficult to comprehend. It is a mystery which should be received by faith. We shall fully understand this mystery when we all get to heaven. Please read 1Tim 3:16; 1 Cor. 13:11-12.

The fusion and congruence of the Second Person of the Godhead with the virgin-born humanity of Jesus in one persona is likewise a mystery which is difficult to grasp with the matter oriented human mind. We shall comprehend this by and by when we all get to heaven.

Let’s not demand that all religious doctrines be reduced to mathematical demonstration. Many philosophical theories are not subject to mathematical demonstration but these could be used to start explaining our respective world views.

There is a group of our brethren in the Metro Manila area that takes the position that our Lord Jesus Christ was 100% human during his incarnate 33 years on earth, no more and no less. The idea of two natures (human & divine) in one persona is to them grossly repugnant. But they believe what Christ has said that it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  Further, they believe that nothing is impossible with God. They say that it is impossible for human nature and divine nature to dwell in the one person of Christ from date of birth (1 AD) to the date of death (33 AD). But they believe that the two natures, the resurrected human nature and the divine nature, now dwell in the one persona of Christ after the resurrection. These several ideas need deeper reflective moments.

In this article we propose to prove that there was divine nature in the person of Jesus Christ while he physically lived on earth.

From the Gospel of John we shall notice the exercise and description of divine nature present in the person of Christ while sojourning on earth from 1 AD to 33 AD. From the verses submitted please pay close attention to the divine attributes or descriptions as quoted from the NKJV:

John 1:14 – “glory” was beheld by the apostles. The ordinary and humiliated human nature of Jesus had no glory. That glory which sometimes did come out like in the transfiguration in Matt 17:1-5; Mk  9:2-8 must have emanated from the divine nature residing in the persona of Christ. That glory which flared up for a given moment could have not emanated from the humanity of Christ. It is only logical that such a glory momentarily from Christ’s persona because there was a divine nature in the persona of Christ while on the mount.

John 1:15 & 30 – “He was before me” says John the Baptist, pointing at the time of speaking, to the persona of Christ on earth. This has reference to time frame. The humanity of Jesus was born about 6 months after John the Baptist was born. The aspect of Jesus pointed to that was present in the person of Jesus when John the Baptist made the declaration must have referred to the divine nature of Christ at the moment of declaration. If not, then this verse would be wrong.

John 1:23 – The term LORD is read Yahweh which is the true God of the Hebrews in Isaiah 40:3. When this prophecy was fulfilled it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus. So there was Yahweh in the person of Jesus while sojourning on earth. If there was no Yahweh or divine nature in the persona of Jesus then this verse was not fulfilled. But Christ said at the cross, “It is finished” in John 19:30. Please read also Luke 24:44 and Matthew 5:17. The LORD that was prophesied coming and prepared for by  John the Baptist was fulfilled.

John 1:49 (see related verses like Psalm 2:7; Matt 14:33; Luke 1:35) – The appellation “Son of God” applied to the person being addressed at that time refers to the divine aspect of Christ and not to his human nature.

John 2:16 – Christ tells of destroying the “temple” which refers to his human body. But there is the “I” speaking that will rebuild/resurrect that temple/body. That “I” speaking is the divine nature in the persona of Christ. In a related passage in John 10:17-18, Christ claims that the power to raise himself from death is from Himself. This aspect of Christ that had the power to raise the body/temple is the divine nature which means that there resided in the physical persona of Christ a divine nature. Sometimes we read that God raised Christ from the dead. This is true because Christ didn’t act alone and that by mentioning God often He teaches us to rely always on God.

John 2:24-25 – “He knew of men, He knew what was in men.” This is omniscience which God alone can possess. The persona of Christ while on earth was referred to in this passage which means that there was an omniscient divine nature residing in Jesus at that time referred to in our verse.

John 3:13 – Christ was the one talking while alive on earth and the verb “has ascended” happened before the act of coming down from heaven. There was an aspect of the talking Christ that has ascended to heaven before there was a descending and that aspect is a divine nature because there was no human nature in Christ before he descended to become flesh. This means that there was a divine nature talking in the persona of Christ when he made this declaration.

John 3:17 plus other verses on “sending of the Son” – The act of sending by the Father in this verse happened before Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary; that One sent was existing as a persona when the act of sending was done. Also notice the prepositional phrase “into the world” which pictures someone from outside entering into this world. This someone entering into this world could not be the humanity of Jesus because his humanity originated from the Virgin Mary who was in this world. That someone who entered into this world fused with the humanity conceived by Virgin Mary is the divine nature. If there was no divine nature that entered, there was no one sent and no one entered into the world during Christ life time.

John 3:19 – “The light has come into the world.” Again this prepositional phrase “come into the world” presupposes existence prior to entering the world. That which came and entered into the world is the non-human nature aspect of Christ. If this divine nature didn’t  fuse with the human nature, then the light did not come into this world.

John 3:31 – “He who comes from above is above all” refers to Christ’s divine nature. His humanity did not come from above, not from heaven. This divine nature became part of the persona of Christ. If that divine nature didn’t become part of Christ’s persona on earth, then this verse would be false. The divine nature of Christ could not be separated from His divinity or Godhood.

John 5:19 – “What He sees the Father doing” Christ says that the Son also does.  It would be unthinkable to claim that the human Christ has seen the Father in heaven. It is more logical to assign this to the divine aspect of Christ.

John 5:21 – “The Father shows all things He does to the Son”  can only be assigned to the divine nature of Christ who is co-existent with the Father. It is too limited a view to assign this “seeing” within the period from 1 AD to 33 AD because God has been doing many things thousands of years before 1 A.D.   Which means that Christ as a spirit persona has seen the Father doing things before 1 A.D.

John 5:23 – The Son being honored as the Father must refer to the divine aspect of Christ. During the earthly sojourn of Jesus he was worshipped by those who recognized his divinity. Heb1:6 says, “But when He again brings the Firstborn into the world, He says, ’Let all the angels of God worship Him.’” If Christ was 100% human only and no divine nature resided in his person from 1 AD to 33 AD, then these two verses are false. Only divinity should be worshipped.

John 5:24-30 – The Christ who spoke in these verses was the Christ from heaven who was sent down. This should refer to Christ’s divine nature and not to his human nature. Also unoriginated life is of the Father and is the same in the Son (v.26). Possession of this unoriginated life could not refer to Christ’s humanity because his human nature started upon conception in the Virgin Mary’s womb.

John 5:37; 6:46 & John 1:18 – When properly stringed together these verses should refer to the divine nature of Christ. If the speaker in this verses refers to the human Christ who has lived from 1 AD to 33 AD then personally seeing and personally hearing God the Father is not possible. Especially when we  consider John 5:37 which says that no man, no human has ever seen God at anytime. But our passage says that Christ has seen the Father.

John 6:32-35, 38, 41, 42, 50-51 – “The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” And the speaker says, “I.” The one that came down from heaven was the divine nature of Christ. Then there is the “flesh and blood” which suggest the humanity of Christ. We find therefore two natures resident in Christ while he was alive in the flesh.

John 6:46 & John 1:18 – Only the Son has really seen the Father. This must refer to the divine nature of Christ and not to his humanity. So there was a divine nature resident in the speaking Christ in these passages.

John 6:62 – “What then if you should see the Son ascend where He was before.” Christ was speaking in this passage while he was alive in the flesh. This unmistakably refers to his divine nature. The human nature of Christ could not be said to ascend to heaven where he was before.

John 7:28-29 – “But I know Him and I am from Him and He sent me.” This knowing and proceeding from the Father and being sent by the Father can only be assigned to the divine nature of Christ. Which means that at the time Jesus was speaking, there was a divine nature in His persona?

John 7:33; John 8:14-16; John 8:19-29 – The aspect of Christ speaking in this passage was Christ’s divine nature because of the phrases “going to Him who sent,” and that “He is from above”

John 8:40-42; John 16:27 – “I proceeded forth and came from God” and “I came forth from God” are expressions which support the eternal procession of the Son from the Father. Clearly these two verses point to the divine nature of Christ and not the human nature of Jesus. Christ’s human nature originated from the Virgin Mary. These verses teach us that when Christ was speaking, he referred to his divine nature as present in the speaking persona.

John 8:48-59 – Christ the speaker claims knowing the Father, the speaker claims that before Abraham was born, He existed. Both these claims can only be said of the divine nature of Christ which was resident in the speaker.

John 10:15 – “As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father.” If one recognizes only the human nature of Christ in the speaker, this passage would be very presumptuous. The omniscient knowledge of the Father about the Son is the same omniscient knowledge of the Son about the Father. This claim is only possible with the divine nature of Christ which was resident in the speaker who was talking with the Jews. The Jews recognized his manhood only (v.33) so those who take the same position today as the Jews were yesterday are in a similar jeopardy.

John 12:41 – This verse is very revealing to the observant. Prophet Isaiah saw Christ in his vision which is recorded in Isaiah 6. The “Lord” in Isaiah 6:1 and John 12:38 is Christ in His pre-incarnate era. The glory which Isaiah saw was the glory of Christ sitting on a throne. This is the glory that Christ refers to in John 17:5. Additionally observe the pronouns “His” and “Him” in v. 41 which both refer to Christ. This Christ that Isaiah saw in his vision 800 years before Christ was born in the flesh is the speaking Christ that is referred to in John 12:27-41.

John 13:3 – The Jesus who had come from God (read also John 8:42 & 16:28) and who was going to God was the divine nature of Jesus. A mere human Christ could not rightly say he “had come from God.”

John 14:10-11 – “The Father dwells in me,” says Christ. This agrees with Col. 1:19 and Col. 2:9. The “me” in v. 10 should be the human Jesus but at the same time there’s divine nature in his person.

John 16:5, 10, 17, 32 – Christ the speaker says he goes back to the Father who sent Him, but all the while that Jesus was on earth in the flesh, he says that the Father was with Him and in Him. There is both humanity and divinity in the speaker.

John 17:5 – Christ speaks here while alive in his human body. He refers to his existence before Genesis 1:1. Christ refers to Himself as the Lord seen with glory in Isaiah 61:41. Ang Cristong nagsasalita dito ay hindi taong Cristo. Ang Cristong nagsasalita dito ay yaong nanggaling sa trono at siya ay may kaluwalhatian na bago pa malalang ang mundo. This speaker is the divine nature of Christ not the human nature because there was no human Christ with glorious existence before the creation in Genesis 1:1.

CONCLUSION

The above analysis of a few passages in John reveals that the Christ within the period covered from 1 AD to 33 AD had divine nature. But the display of divine nature’s glory, authority, power, majesty was suppressed because of the supreme mission to love, to be kindhearted, to forgive 7 x 70, to be long suffering towards mankind.  God had to show how God condescended and how a lowly human could love, obey and fear God. He could have called ten thousand angels to vanquish the motley of arresting temple guards and that Roman contingent but He held back the exercise of divine power.  By comparison when the city of Jerusalem was threatened with destruction in 680 B.C. by Sennacherib’s  great army, God’s power was invoked, (Read the drama in 2 Kings 18 & 19) and at the silence of night 185,000 soldiers lay dead through the power of the Angel of the Lord. Read 2 Kings 19:35-37. Christ says that he could easily call for more than 12 legions of angels (a legion is about 6,000 soldiers, Matt 26:53) when he was arrested at Gethsemane but he deferred that and accepted the humiliation. Christ’s divine power could have pulverized the Roman garrison in Jerusalem and put to flight all the High Priest’s guards but that would have not accomplished the salvation of mankind. Christ was aware that  the role of “he made Himself of no reputation-” had to be played in this great drama of salvation. What was needed to satisfy divine justice, to redeem mankind was the blood and the life of a Second Adam to propitiate all the sins of Adam and his billions of children. Not the glory, not the authority and not the majesty of a King could satisfy divine justice.

The King James Version and the New King James Version render the Greek phrase eauton ekenosen  as “made himself of no reputation.”  This translation easily makes us believe that it was reputation, dignity, power, authority that were temporarily not exercised. Reputation, not the essence of divinity was laid aside. It would be enlightening to know if the members of the American Revision Team that put out the 1901 American Standard Version and rendered eauton ekenosen as “emptied himself” believe that Christ laid aside his diety and was not divine from 1 AD birth in Bethlehem to his 33 AD death at Jerusalem. If there’s no research to show that any member of that team American team believed in the non-divine persona of Christ during that interregnum, then “emptied”  should not mean  laying aside deity.

I have a strong feeling that the Angel of the Lord who silently annihilated 185,000 of Sennacherib’s army at dead of night was the pre-incarnate Christ. I will come out with an article supporting this belief.

Observations and comments are welcomed. #

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