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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part I: Embodiment — and The Incarnation

Chapter 11

A House of Glory

The house that is to be builded for the Lord
must be exceeding magnifical
                         1 Chronicles 22:5

     Anselm of Canterbury in England (c. 1033—1109) wrote a very remarkable book which he titled (in Latin), Cur Deus Homo, i.e., "Why God Became Man."
    At one point in a simulated conversation with a friend he discusses the various ways in which the Saviour might have become man. Here is what he said.

     In four ways God can create a man; namely, either of a man and a woman in the common way; or neither of a man or of a woman, as He created Adam; or of a man but not of a woman, as He created Eve; or of a woman without a man, which thus far He had never done.
    Wherefore, in order to show that this last mode is also within his power, and was reserved for this very purpose, what more fitting than that He should take that man whose origin we are seeking [i.e., the God-man Redeemer] from a woman without a man.

     This seems to me a wonderful exercise in logical construction and effective use of the English language. Yet I am not sure that he really understood why the virgin birth was so important. But such understanding is only easier 

96. Anselm of Canaterbury: Cur Deus Homo, translated by S. N. Deane, LaSalle (Illinois), Open Court Publishing, 1954, p.248. 

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for us today because we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.
     In a volume already referred to (The Seed of the Woman) I have set forth at some length the relevance of some of these things we have learned since Anselm regarding how birth comes about, and in particular the bearing of these things on the birth of a male child without the intervention of a man. Theoretically, for genetic reasons, this is quite impossible. Yet this is how the Saviour came among us, exactly as foretold in Isaiah 7:14. "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a SON." It was a miracle indeed.
I have discussed in this light how and why it was both necessary and possible for the seed of the woman to be preserved against the mortalizing effects of the forbidden fruit. *
     As it was in the case of Adam, so it was in the case of Eve, that the bodies of both of them were now destined to experience death. But whereas Adam's seed had also been mortalized, this was not so in the case of Eve's seed.
     Because of the special design of her body, her seed was protected against mortalization, even though it was housed in a mortalized body. Furthermore, such was her constitution that she was nevertheless able, in the normal course of events, to pass on this sole fragment of her original immortality to all her female descendants. And each of them in a like manner passes on this immortal stream in every succeeding generation so long as the race continues to multiply.
     It is becoming increasingly apparent now that the woman's seed, prior to its fertilization by the male seed, is the only truly immortal part of the human body left undamaged by the Fall. All other cells in the human body, male
and female alike, have suffered a fatal damage but this one priceless human heritage, the woman's seed, remains intact.

* The documentation for the mechanisms involved runs to some 60 pages of fine print. This is far from being merely speculative: It is experimental fact.

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     Thus any child born of a virgin will escape the physical effects of the Fall, since the damage is passed on via the male seed. If this should ever occur naturally, such a child would presumably always have two characteristics. It would have the potential for unending physical life as possessed originally by Adam and Eve. But at the same time the child would of necessity be a female and not a male.
     It is this fact which makes Isaiah 7:14 such a remarkable prophetic utterance, since clearly Isaiah could not possibly have known (except by revelation) that the birth of a male child from a virgin could only be by a miracle.
     As to the reference to a virgin (and not just to a young woman, as many would like to argue), there is no doubt that virgin is the correct translation in English since Matthew 1:22 and 23 in quoting Isaiah confirms the fact by using a word in Greek which, for the Jews, unequivocally had this meaning. When we once recognize that the Author of both statements (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22,23) is the same — namely, the Holy Spirit — then we know what that Author's intention is in the first instance in Isaiah by what the same Author has made quite clear in the second by employing the Greek word parthenos * in Matthew.

     Now the Old Testament is very clear that from the time of its conception a child is corrupted in body. The most obvious passage is Psalm 51:5, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me."
     But Job, who almost certainly wrote long before David had penned this Psalm, is even more specific and in some ways more perceptive. He asks, "Who can bring a clean

* The Jewish commentators so understood Isaiah 7:14 since they employed the same Greek word for virgin in the Septuagint Greek version which was produced in the second century BC for Gentile readers. For the Jews, this word signified sexual purity. It was used to describe the only kind of woman acceptable as a wife for a priest (Ezekiel 44:22). The idea of virginity is implicit in this word as it is found in the Septuagint (for example, Deuteronomy 22:28; Judges 19:24; 21:12; 2 Samuel 13:18; etc.).

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thing out of an unclean?" And he replies to his own question. "Not one" (Job 14:4). And later in the conversation with his friends, Bildad is recorded as putting the problem that this creates even more astutely when he asks: "How, then, can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4). Much later in time, Isaiah would state the simple fact that "we are all an unclean thing" (Isaiah 64:6).
     So there is the problem. How is man to be redeemed, if he must find a man to redeem him, in view of the fact that it is impossible to find a man born of a woman who is not just as unclean as the rest of men, and therefore equally in need of redemption himself? Did Isaiah really understand the significance of his own words in chapter 7 verse 14? Did he understand why the Redeemer must be born of a virgin? Perhaps he was one of those whom Peter mentions (1 Peter 1:10—12) who pondered deeply the things they had been inspired to write yet did not fully comprehend what they had written.

     What is addressed in this chapter is in essence the key to what is said in this volume. Since we were determined to keep the chapters short, it is very necessary to make sure that the point at issue in each chapter is clearly stated. In this chapter one of the best ways to accomplish this seemed to be to tabulate the structure of the argument — though this introduces a certain lack of smoothness in reading.
     We are here concerned with the unique nature of the Lord's body. My plan is to demonstrate four basic points.

     1. That the natural order was designed from the very beginning to accommodate the Incarnation. Part of this grand design included the mechanism of procreation by the fusion of two seeds, housed originally in a single body which was then divided into a male and a female body.
     2. That the entail of Adam's disobedience was, by virgin birth through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, thus

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avoided in this one instance.
     3. That this led to the recovery of a truly Adamic body, i.e., an unfallen body constituted exactly as Adam's had been at his creation.
     4. That the New Testament has illuminated this birth in some very striking ways and, in addition, has employed two only slightly but very significantly different words in order to make clear the distinction between that virgin-born body and the bodies of all other men.

1. The mechanism of conception prepares the way.

     Many years ago Charles Augustus Briggs made the following observation: "The virgin conception of Jesus is not to be interpreted as if it were a miracle in violation of the laws of nature. . . . The conception of Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary differs from all other conception of children by their mothers in that there was no human father. The place of the human father is taken by God Himself . . . in an extraordinary way unrevealed to us and without violation of the laws of maternity, impregnating the virgin Mary with holy seed." (97)
     To put the matter slightly differently, God did not contravene the design of the natural order when bringing the Redeemer into the world. But He put that natural order to a higher service, a service for which it was intended in the first place. He had so designed the processes of conception and birth that He could use them without doing any violence to his own creation.
     He did not need to set aside nature, since there was nothing in the constitution of the human body, except in so far as it has been defiled by sin, that God is ashamed to take unto Himself and employ as a dwelling place under all the circumstances and challenges of daily life from conception to death. Undefiled by sin and indwelt by the Lord Himself, a superb human body appeared on the stage of human history, and men worshipped without shame or

97. Briags, Charles Augustus: James Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, Grand Rapids, Baker reprint (originally1908), p.809.

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hesitation, and sometimes almost involuntarily, the One whose house it was. While He who possessed it, accepted the worship of men which is reserved only for what is divine, without hesitation whenever He knew it was entirely proper, and rebuked it when He knew it was not (Luke 4:41). The house that was built for the Lord was indeed "magnifical." Human embodiment in no way demeaned divinity.

2. The avoidance of the entail of Adam's disobedience.

      By virgin birth was found the solution to the Old Testament questions. We can see now in the light of modern knowledge how the seed of the woman could escape the poisoned stream that passes via the male seed from generation to generation in all who are natural-born. In a way, we owe this discovery to the brilliant insights of August Weismann a century ago, whose failing vision forced him to forsake the microscope and the laboratory, and spend his working hours reflecting upon what he had already observed while his vision had been adequate.
     The work of his successors has remarkably confirmed his initial hypothesis that in each generation it is the female seed that first reproduces itself and then forms the body which is to house it. The order here is crucial to a proper understanding. The succession of bodies are temporary vehicles which death lays aside — but not until the seed in the next generation has had time first of all to reproduce itself, and then to repeat the rest of the cycle. The body is the ovum's way of perpetuating itself.
     Tracing this process backwards to Eve, we are forced to go one step further and say that Eve received her seed from Adam. There is thus a continuity of the seed originally in Adam, from one generation to the next, which still remains intact after all these thousands of years, "a bundle of immortality" which was once in Adam's loins. In each generation it is the now mortalized male seed that introduces mortality to the immortal seed of the woman — as

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Luther and Calvin both perceived. But this fatal poisoning evidently does not take place until the woman's seed has multiplied itself and made adequate provision for the next generation by constructing also a body to house it. This process is shown above.
     Thus while Eve became the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), Adam had become the father of all dying (Romans 5:12). This is precisely stated in verse 12 where we are told simply, "by one man . . . death passed upon all men." And then one day, by divine intervention, the Holy Spirit introduced into the woman's seed in the virgin Mary that which initiated its development into a man-child, and by so doing, for the first time in history a woman was found to be carrying in her womb a "clean thing."
     Luke 1:35 tells us that the angel said to Mary: "That holy thing that shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God." The rendering "holy thing" is perfectly justified by the original Greek and is by implication reaffirmed in Matthew 1:20 which, rendered literally would read, "for that which (neuter) is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Once again the emphasized words are faithful to the original Greek.
     When Mary's time was fulfilled, she brought forth a son, and the angels announced to the shepherds in the field, "Unto you this day in the city of David is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11).
That day the Lord of glory, the Son of God, became flesh and began to dwell among us as the Son of Man. And the Father in heaven confirmed the event, saying, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Hebrews 1:5) — or as the New International Version has rendered it, "You are my Son, today have I become your Father." See likewise in the wording of Hebrews 5:5.

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3. The recovery of a truly Adamic body.

     "Wherefore when He comes into the world, He says . . . 'A body have You prepared for Me'." (Hebrews 10:5)
     In the Greek of Hebrews 10:5, the word which is rendered "prepared" is a particularly significant one in the present context. Basically it means to reconstitute, to restore, even to repair rather than simply prepare. It is found in Matthew 4:21 in connection with the mending of nets. Moreover, the Greek Papyri show that it was currently used to mean to prepare to perfection. In Classical Greek it means to furnish completely. In the King James Version it has the meaning of to perfect — as in Matthew 2l:16; Luke 6:40; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; and elsewhere.
     The idea in Hebrews 10:5 seems to be to underscore the fact that in some way this was a body that restored perfection in the Adamic line, contrasting his own body and its cleanness with the uncleanness of the bodies of all others hitherto born in this line. His body was flawless, and holy even in its fetal development and thus resolved the problem raised in Psalm 51:5 and Job 14:4.
     Thus we may conclude without hesitation that the virgin birth did indeed produce a unique human body, truly Adamic in origin since the woman's seed was once Adam's seed, but free of all that fallen Adam has entailed to the rest of his descendants without exception. Here, then, was a perfect human body brought forth with the same potential for immortality that had characterized Adam's body as created.
     The body of the Lord Jesus Christ was not therefore brought into being under the condition of our fallen bodies which come forth under sentence of death, but "after the potential for unending life" (Hebrews 7:16). Here was a Second Man, biologically fulfilling precisely the conditions which had characterized the body of the first man, which Augustine spoke of so perceptively as being non imposse mori, sed posse non mori: i.e., not unable to die (because He was

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vulnerable to the assaults of both the physical world and of men): but able not to die (because no mortogenic factor had ever been introduced into his body).
     For Him there was no necessity of death. Unlike ourselves, therefore, his body was raised uncorrupted, still identifiably as his and needing no change in it save only that which transformed it to a new working principle to fit it for its heavenly role. Whereas for us there must always be a change through death — save only in the case of those who remain alive at the Lord's second coming again, who will somehow have a like change to fit their bodies for heaven (1 Corinthians 15:51).

4. How the New Testament has used a group of words to make clear the uniqueness of his body.

     Let me illustrate what seems to me one very important way in which the New Testament has recognized a vital distinction between his body and ours, his temptations and ours, his death and ours, and so on. These distinctions have been blurred in most English translations. In the original Greek they are marked carefully by the use of two different classes of words, some of which are spelled with a prefix ending with an i (called an iota in Greek) and the others without the i. The first group of words is prefixed by homoi- and the second by homo-. Words prefixed by homoi- signify "likeness' with the sense of similarity, but the words prefixed by homo- signify "identity" or "exact sameness.
     If I wanted to say "Margarine can look like butter" in Greek, I would have to use a word prefixed by homoi- for the English word "like," because margarine only looks like butter. It isn't actually butter at all.
     In English we use words which have the prefix homo-, such as homology, homogeneous, homosexual, homonym, homozygote, etc., to mean identical structure, identical quality or consistency, identical sex, identical name, identical genes, and so on. Homo- conveys the idea, therefore,

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of precise identity, not merely likeness in appearance.
     On the other hand, we do not use many words in English with the prefix homoi-. It is hard to say why this is, and it contrasts strongly with Greek usage both in the New Testament and in Classical literature. In Greek, words beginning with the prefix homoi- always signify mere similarity rather than precise identity.
Wherever words prefixed with either homo- or homoi- are used in the New Testament it is incumbent upon the translator to indicate to the reader whether the meaning is absolute identity or mere similarity, since great care is taken in Scripture in the distinctive use of these words. And this ought to be reflected in any translation. The distinction is always of quite crucial importance, but unfortunately many of even the best translations have failed in this respect because they have used the word "like" and "likeness" imprecisely. They have ignored the care taken by the divine Author of Scripture to mark a fundamental distinction.
     Let me give a few specific illustrations from familiar passages in the New Testament where the difference is often masked in the translation but is in fact of great importance.
     In Romans 8:3 we have the words, "God sending his son in the likeness of sinful flesh." In the original Greek the word rendered "likeness" is homoi-omati, and for this the word "likeness" is a correct translation. It will be noted that the prefix is homoi-, the i being part of the prefix. All such words signify likeness only and not identity. Thus the Lord's flesh was similar to ours but not identical. It was identical only with the flesh of unfallen Adam but by no means identical with the despoiled flesh of ourselves who are Adam's fallen descendants. Our bodies are corrupted (1 Corinthians 15:53); his body was not (1 Peter 1:18,19).
     In Hebrews 2:17 we have the words, "in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto his brethren." Had He been identical with his brethren, his body would have been mortal like ours, and He would have been under sentence of death as we are. The sacrifice of a body that is already

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under sentence of death can only be premature and never truly vicarious.
     In Hebrews 4:15, "[He] was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." The fact is that when Satan comes to tempt us, he comes to a citadel that has already surrendered. The root of sin is there to begin with, and Satan has only to appeal to it to find a ready accessory. When Satan came to tempt Jesus, he found nothing in Him to seize hold of, by which to work from within (John 14:30).
     The Lord was always tempted from without: we are tempted from within. Indeed, we do not need Satan to tempt us, our own fallen nature being usually sufficient unto itself. The Lord was only tempted when Satan came to tempt Him: never otherwise. His temptations were every bit as real as ours but never arose from internal promptings.
      In Romans 6:5, "We have been planted together in the likeness of his death." His death, and our deaths as individuals, are entirely different in that He died for many men's sins but without obligation for any of his own. When we are counted to have died in Him, we died in Him for our own sins. The element of vicariousness in our death is entirely absent.
      And in Philippians 2:7 we read, "And was made in the likeness of men." The point in each of these important passages must by now be clear. Had He been made as we are made, conceived and born in sin, the consequences for mankind and indeed for the Universe would have been disastrous. For the human experiment could only have proved pointless without a Saviour — and conceived and born as we are, He could never have been a Saviour.

     The second group of words has the prefix homo-, without the terminal i. There are some 46 instances of the use of such words, and always without exception the meaning is "identical with": not merely similar to, but precisely the same.
     In Classical Greek literature the distinction between the

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prefix homo- and homoi- is faithfully preserved in many verbs and nouns which, however, do not appear in the New Testament.
     One of the historically most critical cases involving a compound word which can be prefixed by either homo or homoi- appears in the formulation of the Nicene Creed (325 AD) in which the Lord Jesus was held by one party to be "of one [i.e., identical] substance with the Father" (homo-ousios), and by another party to be only "of like substance with the Father" (homoi-ousios). Some said that He was actually one with the Father: others said that He was merely like the Father. The Eastern and Western branches of the Church split over the difference between the prefix homo- and homoi-, or more precisely over the absence or presence of the i. It seems a foolish thing that Christendom should break in two at a critical point in its early development over the presence or absence of a single letter. But of course it was really over two entirely different concepts, mere similarity, or absolute equality. *

This i is called in Greek an iota, and in Hebrew is termed a jot, the two words being cognate. It is significant, therefore, that the Lord should have said that no part of his Word should fail, not even a jot (Matthew 5:18) until all had been fulfilled.

     We conclude that when we are told the Lord Jesus Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, or was made in the likeness of men, or was made like unto his brethren, we are to understand that what we have in this likeness is

* The following references are to words or phrases incorporating the prefix HOMO- . To promise faithfully: Matthew 14:7. To confess plainly: Matthew 10:32 (2x); Luke 12:8 (2x); John 1:20; 9:22; 12:42; Acts 23:8; 24:14; Romans l0:9, 10; Hebrews 11:13; 1 John 1:9; 4:2, 3:15; 2 John 7. To profess forthrightly: Matthew 7:23. To be truly thankful: Hebrews 13:15. To be of the same craft, not merely a related one: Acts 18:3. Without doubt: 1 Timothy 3:16. Together as one: John 4:36; 20:4; 21:20. Sincere profession: 1 Timothy 6:12, 13; Titus 1:16; Hebrews. 3:1; 4:14; 10:23. Manifestly declared: 2 Corinthians 9:13. In full agreement: Acts 1:14; 2:1,46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12; 19:29; Romans 15:6; and 1 Peter 3:8.

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only similarity, not absolute identity. To have been identical with us would have placed Him under the same sentence of death that we are under.
     In one important respect the Lord's body was identical with ours, simply because his was a physical body and therefore vulnerable. His body was just as subject to injury as ours. Like us He suffered fatigue, hunger, thirst, pain, and wounds — all such things as result naturally from the demands of any physical body, whether human or animal. These all come under the first part of Augustine's aphorism: He could experience death. In this sense, He was exactly as we are. We are told in 2 Corinthians 13:4 that He was crucified through weakness. This was not the weakness of sin but the vulnerability of a real body, as it was of unfallen Adam's body. It was no sign of sinfulness that He could be wounded for our transgressions. Ambrose (c.339—397 AD) who had such a powerful influence on Augustine, wrote:

     Thus it is written, "God made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). It was not the Godhead but the flesh that was crucified. This indeed was possible because the flesh allowed of being crucified." [emphasis mine]

     This "infirmity of his flesh" * was not an infirmity due to the effects of sinful flesh, but the vulnerability of all things set within the framework of the physical world.
     Scripture has provided us with enough information as to how this uniqueness of his body came about. From the very beginning, nature was designed to make all this possible without violation of its own order; to perpetuate unfallen Adam's constitution and avoid the entailed damage from the Fall; to produce as an end result a unique embryo which unlike all other human embryos was "clean"; and

98. Ambrose: On the Christian Faith, ch.XV, Principle Works of Ambrose, translated by H. De Romestin, in  Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, New York, Christian Literature Co., Second Series, 1896, vol. X, p 217.  
* Cf. Belgic Confession, Article xix: "very man that He might die for us according to the infirmity of the flesh."

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thus to re-introduce into the world a Second Adam whose body was not subject to death and yet could experience it: none of these achievements violated nature as God designed and created it. Into this body, perfectly prepared for Him, the Son of God came to be our Saviour as the Son of Man, becoming what He had not been hitherto yet without ceasing to be what He was before. Only thus could the Plan of Salvation by substitutionary sacrifice be made effective.

     In short, the divine nature was in no wise demeaned by the assumption of a perfect human body. Such, then, was the form and dignity and capacity of the body with which Adam was created. In the Lord Jesus Christ true manhood, body and spirit, was once again displayed in all its immortal glory before a fallen world.
The divine Logos who was with the Father throughout all eternity and through whom the Universe was created and by whom it is kept as a Cosmos rather than a Chaos, became Man and dwelt as a Man among men, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
     Everything hinges upon the perfection of that body; everything hinges upon its being truly human; everything hinges upon its being vulnerable; and every thing hinges upon its being contingently immortal.
     Such a glorious house was his!

     It is conceivable that as it now is, man's body might be accounted for by evolution.
But in accounting for the body of Adam as witnessed in the body of Jesus Christ, fulfilling these four prerequisite conditions, evolution utterly fails to help us at all.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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