Son of God in the Old Testament
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- This topic has 5 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Timothy.
February 20, 2022 at 3:43 pm #2350Brian PParticipant
“Yet, this role of the Father being a mentor to His Son at the very beginning of time did not end with their fashioning the creation as in above two quotes. The Son was also God’s Agent in personally interacting within His potential inheritance according to His Father’s will. God’s purpose in using His Son as His personal Agent was not exclusively for God’s own benefit, but was especially for the benefit of His only-begotten Son, to ultimately mature and learn by experience in guiding mankind, as the Father coached Him. Thus as God’s Agent, He has also been God’s Apprentice and will continue to be until the time He has graduated to the point where God turns over the Kingdom entirely to His Son to be “God” to all nations.
Consequently, we see the “The Messenger [Angel] of the LORD” acting as both Agent and Apprentice, learning by His own experiences as He led Israel out of Egypt, harshly dealing with their disobedience, but also learning to be longsuffering and merciful. That the Son was not all-knowing as was the Father, but was in the process of learning by experience, is clearly seen in many places, including the story of Abraham’s offering up Isaac. The Messenger of the LORD called to Abraham just as he was about to plunge the knife into his own son, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Thus it was the Messenger of the LORD who tested Abraham’s faith, not God Himself. He tested Abraham because this is what the Father told Him to do as part of his own training.”
Could you further elaborate on why you believe the preincarnate Son (of the same substance of the Father) needed to “learn by experience”? I’m not understanding why he wasn’t all knowing once he was “begotten”.
February 21, 2022 at 9:55 am #2351
The Scripture reveals the relationship between God and His Son using human procreative and familial terminology. Terms such as “father” and “son” and “begotten” and “only begotten Son” and “only begotten of the Father” and “according to kind” are all terms that only have meaning because of our human experience. Yet God chose to use these very terms concerning His relationship to His Son because of the parallels that He wished to convey for our understanding. That is how He wants us to think about Him and His Son. No doubt, such procreative and familial terms are finite and inadequate for conveying the full complexities of God, His Son, and the origin of the Son. But they are sufficient for conveying what God wants us to know and understand at this time.
One of the dangers of “philosophy” (what Paul called “pseudo-knowledge”) is that it is not satisfied with fully understanding what God has revealed. Pseudo-knowledge seeks to speculate beyond what God has revealed, and then claim that speculation as fact. We should be satisfied with understanding fully what God has revealed, rather than attempting to speculate in areas that God has not revealed.
Scripture is clear that God’s Agent in the OT, who is called the Messenger of the LORD, and often goes by God’s own name YHVH, was indeed learning by experience. He even changed His mind when He was about to destroy Israel, yet Moses interceded and reasoned with Him. It is clear from His encounter with Abraham in Gen. 22 that having tested Abraham’s faith, He learned something about Abraham that He did not know for certain previously. “For now I know that you fear God, because you did not withhold your only son from Me.”
Since God is unbegotten, but the Son was “begotten” at a point in time (“Today I have begotten You”), the Son has only existed in time not in eternity. While the term “begotten” indicates an origin at a specific point in time, something that does not apply to the Father, this does not mean that they are ontologically different. Adam and Seth had very different origins. Adam was created from dust as an adult, and Eve was created from Adam’s rib as an adult. Together they procreated Seth. Adam and Eve were created, having the ability to speak and understand language, and the ability to tend the Garden of Eden without having to go through the process of acquiring the skills. Seth had none of those things. He had to learn to crawl, walk, speak, and be taught skills. Was Seth ontologically the same as Adam, of the same “kind?” Of course. But they had completely different origins. Consequently, it is a mistake to claim that sameness of KIND requires sameness of knowledge. As far as we know, knowledge comes from experience and learning. Why would this not apply to the Son who was “begotten” like Seth was begotten?
If we take all that Scripture reveals about God and His Son, and if we interpret the terminology that God chose to use (the normal meanings of the terms) in order to reveal all that He wants us to know at this time, then the conclusions that I stated in what you quoted are the logical implications. IMO, we must take the familial – procreative language at face value, and not go beyond Scripture by speculating in things that God has not yet revealed. He will reveal more to us in the Kingdom. One day, if we remain faithful, we will “see God.”
March 10, 2022 at 10:23 am #2357Brian PParticipant
Thanks for your response, Tim.
(Sorry, a wordpress glitch was not allowing me to respond to you on the thread I started)
Moderator: Now fixed.
“Scripture is clear that God’s Agent in the OT, who is called the Messenger of the LORD, and often goes by God’s own name YHVH, was indeed learning by experience. He even changed His mind when He was about to destroy Israel, yet Moses interceded and reasoned with Him. It is clear from His encounter with Abraham in Gen. 22 that having tested Abraham’s faith, He learned something about Abraham that He did not know for certain previously. “For now I know that you fear God, because you did not withhold your only son from Me.”
This is an interesting theory, though I’m not sure it aligns perfectly with the biblical data. I’m curious how you might distinguish between the words of the Father & the Son in the OT. Is the Father ever the one to speak/interact with mankind? Could it also be the case that in those instances when it appears that God lacked specific knowledge, that its anthropomorphic language?
“Since God is unbegotten, but the Son was “begotten” at a point in time (“Today I have begotten You”), the Son has only existed in time not in eternity. While the term “begotten” indicates an origin at a specific point in time, something that does not apply to the Father..”
There is also strong evidence that God is temporal (that time itself is an attribute of God), and that divine timelessness is a product of faulty Greek philosophical presuppositions. I’m not suggesting you’re stating otherwise. I think you’re saying that the Father is eternal but the Son as a distinct person is not (though his substance is?). Yet, for the Father to “beget” wouldn’t that suggest that He’s “in time” when He “begets”? I just uploaded this clip to my YouTube channel on the discussion of God and Time (more to come on this topic as it touches on many areas within theology): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGXDlSut8E8&t=72s
In short, if God is temporal and if time is an attribute of God, both the Father and Son would share this quality, though the person of the Son would not be eternal, as he owes his identity as a person to the initiative of the Father to “beget.”
“Consequently, it is a mistake to claim that sameness of KIND requires sameness of knowledge. As far as we know, knowledge comes from experience and learning. Why would this not apply to the Son who was “begotten” like Seth was begotten?”
Again, interesting, but did not God promise Abraham innumerable descendants and foresee that Isaac would carry his seed (which Abraham fully believed)? Was the Son of God not privy to the Father’s plan of what would happen in the future? As we’re dealing with divinity, it may be a mistake to impose the human mind (with all its limitations and inability to know all things present and in the future) upon a mind that is either divine origin, or the product of a divine being.
March 10, 2022 at 6:12 pm #2454
Exegesis of Scripture is my field of study. Philosophy is not my area of expertise. I try to avoid theoretical speculation about God that is not based on statements of Scripture. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us using human language and terminology of procreation, familial relationships, things we are familiar with by experience, and the progress of time. He also sometimes uses allegories and metaphors in order to convey certain concepts by means of comparison. Beyond those things, and our observation of His creation, He has not revealed Himself to us. Scripture only indicates a “beginning” which was “Day one” of creation week and places the begetting of the Son as being “the beginning” and “the beginning of the creation of God.” Time, as we understand it from experience and as revealed in Scripture begins with an act of begetting. Everything else that has occurred, is occurring, or will occur, that is all events and processes, whether creation or the continued movement of the heavenly bodies, every process and event, is measured by time (which also requires sequence). Beyond those basic observations, I am not willing to speculate. I am content to confine my understanding of God and the message of the Bible to things that I can point to in the Scriptures. I then attempt to explain things in Scripture based on what Scripture reveals alone.
I do not know what saying that “time” is an aspect of God actually means and all that implies. It sounds like philosophical mumbo-jumbo to me, the kind of things that Paul warned Timothy to avoid (1 Tim. 6:20-21). I know of Scripture that says things like “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (obviously metaphor) but I do not know of any Scripture that says “God is time” or implies such a thing.
As far as how to determine a distinction between the words of the Father or the Son, it seems to me that Jesus answered that question in person. Did He not say that the words He spoke were those that the Father told Him to say? (John 14:24). So the Father is the source of all messages delivered from the Son, whether in OT times or in NT times. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This is not one person, but united in purpose to the extend that there is no division of will. The Son was the Agent of the Father to mankind both before His human birth and afterward. But God also now speaks Himself via the “Spirit/Breath.” Yet Scripture also blurs the distinction between the Spirit/Breath of God and the Spirit/Breath of Christ. Rom. 8:9-11 is a perfect example of this.
It is clear from 1 Cor. 1-2 that the Son was intentionally concealed in mystery in the OT Scriptures for a reason. This “mystery” was only known by new revelation to the Apostles. That means a clear distinction in the OT was something that may not be discernable merely by applying grammatical rules or exegetical principles. It is clear that the manner in which this mystery was concealed involved departing from the norms of grammar. Peter himself actually acknowledged this in explanation of Psalm 16 in his sermon in Acts 2. That prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection was written in the past tense. So also was prophecy of Jesus crucifixion in Psalm 22 & Isa. 53. So, were the words of David or Isaiah wrong by placing these things in the past tense? Or, as Peter declared in 1 Pet. 1:11, was “the Spirit/Breath of Christ” speaking in those passages so that they are the words of the Son and not David or Isaiah?
If you are looking for a hard and fast “rule” in order to distinguish the words of the Father from the words of the Son you won’t find any such rule simply because that very thing was being concealed in order to hide the “mystery of God” from Israel.
As far as how much of the mind and plan of God the Son was privy to at any point, I think it is best to understand the Father – Son relationship in the same way we understand a human father – son relationship. That is one of instruction, training, allowing the son to learn things by interaction with humanity, and revealing more advanced things progressively.
I see Wisdom’s role in creation (Prov. 8) as being God’s apprentice. I see this apprenticeship as continuing in all of the missions He was sent on as the Messenger of the LORD, enacting the covenants, dealing with rebellious Israel in the wilderness, etc. The Son was aware of God’s promise to Him of the inheritance of the whole earth and all nations on the very first day, when He was “begotten.” So as He worked beside His Father for those six days, He knew He was fashioning His own inheritance. Exactly HOW everything would play out, He learned progressively IMO as He matured. Of course, since He was the one who affirmed the covenants, He knew and understood them at the time He delivered them.
I see all of history as summed up in the parable in Matt. 22:2-14. From the very beginning, all of history has been about the King of the Universe orchestrating and preparing both a wedding and inheritance for His Son. This can be found all throughout the prophets, as the Son was betrothed to a people via the Mosaic Covenant, but ended up divorcing her because of her unfaithfulness. After punishing her severely, He is now betrothed to her again, and the wedding will be consummated in the resurrection.
Bottom line is this: IMO, the Son was God’s apprentice in creating His own inheritance. He was, is, and will be God’s apprentice in working out the entire plan of God for this creation and all mankind. And we ought to think of the Son as always God’s apprentice, and learning by instruction and doing, just like all sons do who have a good father who is training them to be a mature man. In the case of God’s Son, He has been in training for His final great work, reigning as “God” in the Kingdom for a millennium (Psalm 45). At the end of that period, the Son will complete His mission of reconciling everything back to God (Eph. 1:9-12; Col. 1:20).
November 11, 2022 at 10:23 pm #3767RomanParticipant
Do you think we can infer that God’s apparently ‘changing His mind’, or ‘repenting’ in passages such as Exodus 32:14
“So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people”
are examples of the preincarnate Son “learning” or changing during this process akin to a son’s apprenticeship? (Otherwise, we have to invoke anthropopathism or other literary device to explain what seems illogical: I.e. that God is somehow surprised by an eventuality, causing Him to change tack.)
November 17, 2022 at 10:13 pm #3872
I do not think God is ever surprised by any event, nor does He change His mind. Since it was always the Son who interacted with mankind as God’s agent, and not the Father Himself, I take all of these kinds of statements as referring to the Son. Since the Son had an origin, His experience was limited to time since creation. So He was learning by experience, IMO.
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