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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendixes


     

Part III: When the Word Became Flesh

Chapter 21

A Body Hast Thou Prepared For Me

When He cometh into the world He said,
. . . a body hast Thou prepared Me.
Then said I,
Lo, I come
. . . to do Thy will, O God.

(Hebrews 10:5,7)

 

      The Word of God is truly a wonderful book to study. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury from 10931109, wrote what has become a classic study of the Atonement. This work, brief as it is, is full of profound insights. It is best known by its Latin title, Cur Deus Homo, "Why God Man?"
     In dealing with the provision of the Lord's body, he said this in the form of a conversation: *

Anselm: Let us now examine the question, whether the human nature taken by God must be produced from a father and mother, as other men are, or from man alone, or from woman alone. For in whichever of these three modes it be, it will be produced from Adam and Eve; for from these two is every person of either sex descended. And of these three modes, no one mode is easier for God than another, that it should be selected on this account.
His friend: So far, it is well.

* Cur Deus Homo, LaSalle, Illinois, Open Court Publishing Co., 1954, p.248, 249.

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Anselm: It is no great toil to show that that man will be brought into existence in a nobler and purer manner if produced either from man alone, or woman alone, than if springing from the union of both, as do all other men.

His friend: I agree with you.

Anselm: Therefore must he be taken either from man alone, or woman alone.

His friend: There is no other source.

Anselm: In four ways can God create man, viz., either of man and woman, in the common way; or neither of man nor of woman, as he created Adam; or of man without woman, as he created Eve; or of woman without man, which thus far he has never done. Wherefore, in order to show that this last mode is also under 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? Now whether it be more worthy that he be born of a virgin or one not a virgin, we need not discuss, but must affirm beyond all doubt, that the God-man should be born of a virgin.

His friend: Your words gratify my heart.

     Perhaps in the end Anselm came to recognize another reason why the Lord had to be born of a virgin, though we do not have any record of it. For it will be realized that, had Mary given birth to other children before the Lord was born, these children could have contested the Lord's right to the throne of David and therefore his claim to be the Messiah. Mary certainly bore other children later, but when she conceived by the Holy Spirit and bore Jesus, she had known no man previously (Luke 1:34; and cf. Matt. 1:18, "before they came together").
     So we have four alternatives for the provision of the body by which the Lord was to become Man and dwell among us: (1) by creation ex nihilo, (2) by normal procreation, (3) by man without woman, and (4) by woman without man. The final alternative was the one chosen, and in fact was the only possible choice for the Saviour.
    He must have a real body. It was not enough for Him to come as He had often come to men in the Old Testament in the form of a theophany with a mere appearance of humanness but not the reality. The emphasis which the Epistles were to place upon the importance of the Lord's body in reference to his sacrifice on Calvary needs to be noted carefully. The following passages reflect this emphasis.

John 1:14
"The Word became flesh . . .

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Romans 7:4
". . . dead to the law, by the body of Christ. . ."

1 Corinthians 11:24
"This is my body which is broken for you. . ."

Colossians l:21, 22
"You . . . hath He reconciled in the body of his flesh through death . . ."

1 Timothy 3:16
"Great was the mystery . . . God was manifest in the flesh"

Hebrews 2:9, 16
"We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death . . . that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. . . .  For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham."

Hebrews 10:5
"A body hast Thou prepared for Me. . ."

Hebrews 10:10
"By whose will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Hebrews 10:20
"A new and living way . . . through his flesh". . .

1 Peter 2:24
". . . who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree."

     It is important to underscore once again the fact that this sacrifice was not merely a spiritual one. As man dies two kinds of death (a spiritual and a physical one), so man stands in need of two kinds of redemption. But we have reached a point in modern preaching where the emphasis has been almost entirely concentrated upon the spirit of man to the virtual ignoring of his body, as if the spirit were the man. This easily tempts us to see the Cross as a spiritual sacrifice, the physical aspects of it contributing only as an exhibition of the love of God (which indeed it is: 1 John 4:10,19), an exhibition which is then presented as an appeal to the individual to respond in like spirit. All other aspects of the crucifixion are played down and the "moral influence" is emphasized instead. The Lord's physical suffering has been the subject of eloquent appeal to the artist, but the significance of his physical death, the death of his body, has been largely overlooked. And, not surprisingly, few preachers speak much about the fact of his bodily resurrection either or ours, for that matter. The whole drama is cast in a spiritual light to the exclusion of what happened to his body a body so essential to his assumption of a truly human nature.

The creation of the body of Adam was nothing less than the first

     pg 3 of 22      

step in the "preparation" of a body for the Lord Jesus. (222) Such a body had to be immortal, since the eternal Lord could not appropriately adopt as a vehicle for the expression of his Person a house that had time limits placed upon it, and which would be progressively wearing out while He dwelt in it. Our bodies, as we have seen, are dying slowly from the day of our birth. Each day brings us nearer to the inevitable total breakdown. We dwell in a doomed house, a house in a state of decay. The body that was to house the spirit of the Lord Jehovah had to be entirely free of such effects of sin. It could only be like our fallen bodies, not identical with them (Romans 8.3). (223) It must be identical with Adam's body in its unfallen state. In us, mortality is a consequence of sin (Romans 5:12) and sin is an inherent defect, and such an inherently defective house is unthinkable for the Son of God to occupy as Man.
    This body, being prepared in Mary's womb, had to be both truly of Adamic origin and adequate to allow the Lord (who through all eternity had only a divine nature) now to express Himself also in truly human nature. While it therefore contributed nothing to the reality of his existence as a person, it temporarily placed certain new conditions and limitations upon Him. It caused Him to experience physical fatigue to the point of falling asleep in a boat on a storm-tossed sea, to be physically weary enough to rest at a well in the heat of the day, to suffer the physical agony of thirst on the cross, and in a hundred other ways to experience those "vulnerabilities" such as are common to man (like weeping at the grave of a friend) and, in the end, tasting death itself. This vulnerability made his crucifixion possible (2 Corinthians 13:4).

     Now each man's spirit is a unique creation. (224) The created spirit can be thought of as being given a form or a structure unique to itself. The body which it is to indwell and through which it will find its fulfillment must presumably also be providentially constituted to allow the spirit to express itself in keeping with its specific nature. * The Lord of Glory was not a created spirit. But even as all other created human spirits perform the function of animating every newborn child, so He created for Himself a human spirit (so Augustine, Letter #164) to complete his human nature. And this extraordinary fact required that the vessel which was thus prepared for Him should have an appropriate form in order that He might be free to express both his

222. See Notes at the end of this chapter (page 18).
223. See Notes at the end of this chapter (page 18).
224. See Notes at the end of this chapter (page 20).
* Abraham Kuyper, using the word soul for spirit, reflects this view by saying, "The soul is indeed directly and instantly created by God, but this does not happen arbitrarily, but rather so that the soul is created in this man, at this time, in this country, in this family, with the characteristics which are suitable" [quoted by G. C. Berkouwer, Man: the Image of God, Grand Rapids, Eerdman's, 1975, p. 290].

 

     pg.4 of 22     

divine and his human natures without the contamination of original sin. For this reason I believe we must assume that a perfect human body was the only kind of body which could possibly fulfill such a tremendous role. * Adam's body, as first formed, was structured by the creative providence of God as a first step towards the provision of this body.
     Had it been God's intention, even Eve's firstborn could have been a perfectly appropriate body for the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ to enter as its animating principle. The Word might indeed have been made flesh and dwelt among men at the very beginning. Had Adam not fallen, no virgin conception would have been necessary. Then the purpose of the Incarnation would not have been to redeem man, but to reveal God. In any case, a truly Adamic body would have been a fit abode for the Son of God at any time in history, provided it was supernaturally conceived.

     Now the title of this chapter is a quotation from Hebrews 10:5 which reads:

"Wherefore when He [the Lord Jesus] came into the world, He said, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me. . .  Then, said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God."

     The wording of this passage is somewhat cryptic but there is little doubt that it refers to the moment of the Lord's incarnation. The words "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not" refer of course to the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices and offerings, a

* The contamination of the soul by the natural born body was recognized by the Jews: "Only in the last centuries (B.C.) did the soul-body dualism and the concept that the soul was an independent substance joined to the body gain general credence; the soul originates in heaven and descends to earth joining a material body at the moment of conception or birth and losing its original perfection." [Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by Cecil Roth, New York, Doubleday, 1962, under Soul, p.1743]. Hence the need of virgin birth. This view was generally adopted by the Church and was widely held by theologians (Augustine, Hugo St. Victor, AnseIm of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, Anselm of Laon, Ulrich Zwingli, Peter Martyr, Martin Chemnitz, Zacharius Ursinus, Andreae Hyperius, Benedictus Aretius, Bartholomew Kerkerman, Francois Turretin, Amandus Polandus, Johannes Wollebius, J. H. Hottinger, Samuel Endeman). It is still widely accepted that the spirit is corrupted by the body.
The seed of unfallen Adam, united with the seed of the woman, would have naturally produced a body as perfect as Adam's body when first created. That body would have served as perfectly for the incarnation of the Lord as the body which was prepared in Mary's womb by supernatural conception. The necessity of supernatural conception was occasioned by the fact that fallen Adam's seed would have communicated to it the defect of his own body. It was not that a human body per se would have been an unsuitable habitation for the Person of Jesus Christ, but only that a defective human body would have been unsuitable.

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system which had been only a temporary measure and was not intended to be the actual mode of man's redemption. These sacrifices were like a "stay of execution." It was now, at this moment in history, that the Lord in heaven announced his readiness to become Saviour and Redeemer, by incarnation as Man. The circumstance that made his announcement proper at that moment was the fact that a body was ready to receive Him. The time had finally come, in short, for the manifestation of God in human form.
     The word prepared in the original Greek (katartidzo: ) has a special significance in this instance since it is a word which means something more than routine preparation. It means to "prepare perfectly."
     In view of our present knowledge of how the seed of the woman may be preserved untouched by accidents that happen to the body (even the ingestion of the forbidden fruit), and in view of the fact that the original seed of the woman was derived from Adam when Eve was first formed out of him in his unfallen state, and in view of the fact that in Adam this same originating germ plasm was exactly as created by God in the first place, we are in a position to see that in Mary was a seed which, energized by the Holy Spirit, would grow into an immortal body such as Adam had as he came from the hand of God. Thus was a body prepared for the Lord Jesus in which there was none of the inherited corruption that renders us mortal creatures and in its subsequent outworking turns us all into sinners. Consequently his body was a body without spot or blemish which, even while it lay in the grave, did not see corruption.
     Thus Hebrews 10:5 was not merely an announcement that Mary's 'full-time' had come (Galatians 4:4). It was an announcement that Adam's created body had been recovered as a house for the Lord's immediate possession, thus providing a new and second mode of expression of his

* It is a verb used in a number of contexts, all of which denote a special kind of making ready. It can mean to reconstitute or to restore something as it should be. It is found in Matthew 4:21, for example, applied to the mending of broken nets. Barclay M. Newman gives such meanings as to set right, to make perfect [Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, London, United Bible Societies, 1971]. J. H. Moulton and C. Milligan, on the basis of its use in Greek Papyri of New Testament times, give the meaning as to prepare to perfection [Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids, Eerdman's, 1972 reprint]. H. G. Liddell and R. Scott in their Greek Lexicon (of Classical and New Testament Greek) give the meaning as to put in order again. to restore, to furnish completely. C. Abbott-Smith gives the meaning to render fit or complete, to mend, to repair, to perfect [A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, Aberdeen, Clark, 1964, p.238]. In the King James Version this Greek verb katartidzo is rendered "to make perfect" (Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 5:10), "to perfect" (Matthew 21:16; Luke 6:40; 1 Thessalonians 3:10), "to be perfectly joined together" (1 Corinthians 1:10), "to restore" (Galatians 6:l) and "to frame" (Hebrews 11:3 a passage of special significance for the biblical cosmologist in the light of this particular verb).

     pg.6 of 22     

Person. God the Son was about to become true Man without jeopardizing his deity. And thereby, because He was now able to experience death, being embodied in a house that was capable of dying, He could become our Redeemer, in his own body bearing our sins on the cross, reconciling us to God in the body of his flesh through death; that we might be sanctified through the offering of his body once for all. It was (and still is) a great mystery God manifested in the flesh: it provided a new and living way for us to recover our sonship with the Father and our place in glory with exceeding joy. And all this, because his Person was perfectly housed in a perfect body uniquely prepared. Supernaturally conceived, that little body developed in the womb without any violation of the laws of nature that God had originally designed and built into his created order for this very purpose.
     The Formula of Concord clearly acknowledges this truth when quoting Luther who, as we have already noted, had said that the Saviour in order to suffer death must become man: "For God, by his very nature, cannot die. However, after God and man were united in one person, it is truly proper to say, 'God has died'."*
     Only by becoming man could God become subject to death, and this is precisely what we are told He did He was made in the likeness of man . . . and He became obedient unto death (Philippians 2:7,8). It is in this sense that T. R. Birks nearly one hundred years ago in his Difficulties of Belief, observed that man, unlike angels, may have been provided with a material body in order "to enable Christ to unite Himself to the race in order to save it."  In 1 Peter 3:18 we are told that "Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being delivered up to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit." He thus died as to his humanity, but three days later was quickened again as a Man by the divine nature and energy that resided in his Person. In other words, there was no way in which He might bring us (as composites of body and spirit) back to God except through spiritual and physical death. And there was no way He could experience physical death except by embodiment, by incarnation, or as the Greek of Romans 1:3 has it, "being made according to

* Formula of Concord, Art. VIII, Section 44, And see further, reference #225 in Notes at the end of this chapter (page 22). 
Birks, T. R., quoted by A. H, Strong, Systematic Theology, Philadelphia, Judson Press, 1974, p. 488.
The Greek here, (thanatotheis men sarki), often has the meaning of "condemning to death," or "delivering up to death." A good example is in Romans 8:36, and even more explicitly in Mark 14:55, in view of the fact that the Jews did not have this authority. "Delivering him up" was all they could legally do (Acts 3:13). He, as God, did not have his life destroyed by others, for He alone had the power to lay it down (John 10:18).  

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the flesh" (kata sarka: ).

     Hitherto we have placed considerable emphasis upon the scientific account of the way in which preparation was made for the first coming of the Lord. We now turn, with some relief, to Scripture itself. What we have been dealing with is the scientific account extracted from the data of nature by human ingenuity, as God clearly foresaw it would be. And because He foresaw it would be, it was not necessary that such details should be revealed. But henceforth in this study we must depend more and more upon Revelation for the completion of those details which are inaccessible to us by any other means. And I must confess that it is with a sense of exhilaration because, in spite of all that we can attain for ourselves in the way of understanding by scientific means, we still only see through a glass darkly and need constant correction. The knowledge we gain by Revelation is so much more enduring.
     One might ask, Do these scientific details really matter at all? * They were hidden from our brethren in Christ who have gone before us, and clearly therefore they were not necessary to them. Why should they be necessary for us? Have they been omitted from Scripture for this very reason, simply because they are not important?

     Not every one will want to know about such things, and certainly no one actually needs to be concerned with them. Those who have a simple faith usually find their faith serving them adequately and well, although analysis often shows that simple faith is, in reality, quite complex, the complexity being concealed by intuitive understanding, and therefore often unrecognized. But there are those who by circumstance and disposition are driven, or drive themselves, to inquire into the how of our redemption in greater depth. Such people have a thirst to know more, and find the quest an exciting one which sometimes amounts almost to an act of worship.
     I think Benjamin Warfield has well stated the difference between the desire to know and the need to know. One is as real and undeniable as the other. But it is by no means essential for any man to know how he is saved in order to be saved, nor to know the intricacies of the circumstances by which God made this provision in order to have assurance of salvation. But if he does have the desire to explore the ways of God with man, then the means to do so are becoming increasingly accessible year by year.

* It is most important to keep constantly in mind that humanly discovered knowledge is always to minister to, not be master of, our understanding in the things of God. The role of reason and scientific knowledge must always be ministerium, not magisterium.

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     Throughout the centuries, many of the great theologians of the past struggled with the problem of the provision of a perfect body out of the sinful flesh that was Mary's (for she too needed a Saviour: Luke 1:47). Roman Catholic theology evolved the dogma of Immaculate Conception. But I believe such a dogma is not necessary and that many who sought to solve the problem by such means would have revelled in the kind of understanding which is now open to us and would have made the greatest possible use of it. Such knowledge has been acquired almost entirely by those who are not at all concerned with the doctrines of the Christian faith. Yet whether they know it or not, they are God's servants, even as Cyrus was a servant of God but knew it not (Isaiah 45:1,5). And I am convinced we should respect this service by making use of it, not merely to improve our lot in life but also to increase our understanding of the things we most surely believe. We should not depend upon the findings of science to confirm our Faith, though this may well happen; but it is certainly proper to use these findings to explore that Faith.
     In his essay, "The Supernatural Birth of Jesus," Warfield points out that there are really two supernatural events involved in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. First, there is supernatural conception: and secondly, there is supernatural provision of the spirit to animate that little body. These were the truly supernatural aspects of the Incarnation: the actual birth itself was almost certainly quite natural. * But while the creation of a human spirit to complete its humanness was indeed a supernatural event, do we need to suppose it was different in any way from the mode of provision of our spirits by which we achieve personhood? In fact, only one miracle was really involved that was exceptional in nature, namely, the supernatural fertilization of the woman's seed.

     The importance of the Virgin Conception in relation to the Christian doctrine of Redemption was abundantly clear to Warfield. He wrote:

     It is only in its relation to the New Testament doctrine of redemption that the necessity of the virgin birth of Jesus comes to its complete manifestation. For in this [Christian faith of ours] the redemption that is provided is distinctly redemption from sin; and that he might redeem men from sin it certainly was imperative that the Redeemer himself should not be involved in sin. . . .

* This is implied by Galatians 4:4, "made of a woman, made under the law" not merely birth but even prenatal development was normal according to natural law.
Warfield, Benjamin B., Biblical and Theological Studies, Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., edited by Samuel G. Craig, 1968, p.165.

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     The sinlessness of Jesus, in the sense of freedom from subjective corruption as well as from overt acts of sin, seems to be involved in the incarnation itself, purely and simply; and in point of fact, those who imagine it was in principle sinful flesh which was assumed by the Son of God are prone to represent his flesh as actually being cleansed of its sinfulness, either by the act of incarnation itself or by the almighty operation of the Spirit of God as a condition precedent to incarnation. *

 

     In other words, the body which the Redeemer was to assume had to be provided in some very special way if He was to fulfil the conditions of his office. He must be born humanly, and yet He could not be born as we are born because He must then be as we are defiled with the entail of sin. But we know that He was not defiled as we are. We know from Scripture that the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted as we are (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:28), but He was always tempted apart from sin (Hebrews 4:15). For in Him was no inherited defect such as we are born with (contrast Psalm 51:5 and Romans 7:8 with l John 3:5). When we are tempted, we are tempted from within, (James 1:13-16), but when Satan came to tempt Jesus Christ he had to work entirely from outside, for he found nothing in the Lord that could possibly serve as a point of leverage (John 14:30). The phrase "apart from sin" has in most translations, early and late, been rendered "without sin" or "without committing sin." This is undoubtedly a truth, but I believe that the original supports an even more profound truth. It is the root of sin, the inherited defect that gives Satan a head start with us. Jesus was born without this defect in his body, and therefore although tempted with the kind of temptations that may come to us, it was always from without, never from within. The basic inward root of sin was not there. When we are told (in Hebrews 4:15) that He was tempted in all points like as we are, the Greek is careful to use the word which (as we have already noted, reference #223) means only in a similar way, not in the identical way that we are tempted. His temptations were real enough but not stemming from the same root cause as lies within us.
     Now in Hebrews 4:15 the Greek word for "without" is (choris); and its basic meaning, according to Thayer, is "apart from." This passage therefore tells us that

* Perhaps he had in mind the Roman Catholic doctrine of the immaculate conception. On this issue, see further reference #228 (in notes at the end of chapter 22).  Many other theologians of the past have shared the view that Christ's body had to be supernaturally protected somehow during gestation besides being virginly conceived.
223. Referred to on page 4 (but see Notes at the end of this chapter (page 18).
The Definition of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) clearly recognized this meaning. "Of one substance with the Father as regards his godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin."

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when Jesus was tempted, his temptation was not associated with inborn or original sin but apart from it, i.e., independently of it. It was, to use one of Thayer's alternative meanings, temptation "unconnected with" any internal defect in the one tempted. Unfortunately, Thayer then proceeds to suggest, with reference to Hebrews 4:15, that this means He was tempted "without yielding to sin." But surely the meaning is not this? The meaning is that his temptations arose entirely from a source external to Himself.
     It is a pleasure to find that Rotherham in his Emphasized Bible and Robert Young in his Literal Translation have both adopted the rendering "apart from sin": not merely indicating it in the margin as a possible alternative (as some other modern Bibles have done) but incorporating it into their text.
     Had the intent of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews been merely to express the idea of never actually committing sin (i.e., of being sinless in act), he would surely have not used the Greek preposition , but the normal word for this kind of sinlessness which is . This word is found in John 8:7, "Jesus said, He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her." The meaning here is quite clear; "he that has committed no sin." Thus Jesus was not tempted as we are tempted due to the entail of inward defect we acquire by natural generation. He escaped this entail by the very fact of virgin conception, a divine solution the purpose of which was not altogether clear to those who have struggled with this problem in the past. *

     Thus Job foresaw the difficulty of redeeming man. He knew that a man must be redeemed by a man, and that animal sacrifices were only symbolic. But how is one to find a man, born of a woman, who is not under the same death penalty by the very fact of his human birth? Any man born of a woman will be brought into judgment on his own account: for, as Job put it, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one" (Job 14:4). Later on, Bildad faced the same

* For example, Calvin did not see that the virgin conception made possible the provision of a perfect body. He therefore proposed that the perfect body that the Lord must have was not made perfect merely by being "born of the seed of a woman unconnected with any man but because He was sanctified by the Spirit so that his generation was pure and holy, such as it would have been before the fall of Adam" [Institutes, II. xiii. 41]. Calvin is really reiterating the argument put forward by Athanasius in his De Incarnatione Verbi Dei, § 20. The child conceived in Mary's womb would still have been mortal like us, had it not been rendered immortal by the presence of the Logos within, a circumstance which "placed it beyond corruption."
In the Hebrew original, "not one" is literally "not a man" (lo adam). This is a far more significant statement in the light of the virgin conception which is God's answer to Job's question.

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issue and stated the problem even more effectively in the form of a two-sided question: "How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4). To be a substitute, the Redeemer must be born of a woman, but somehow He must escape our inherited corruption and be "clean."
     The idea of a virgin conception was not revealed till much later in history. We meet it first in Isaiah 7:14, where it is important to note that Isaiah is speaking of a virgin conception (Hebrew: harah) and not merely of a virgin birth (Hebrew: yaladh). I am well aware that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 can signify either a virgin or merely an unmarried woman of marriageable age. The Septuagint took the word to mean simply a virgin and so translated it, using the Greek word parthenos. For myself, the New Testament use of the same word (parthenos) when quoting Isaiah in Matthew 1:23, establishes what was the intent of the Holy Spirit since the same Spirit inspired both Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23.
     Bildad's insight is perceptive. To have asked exactly the right question in precisely the right form is a clear indication of his understanding of the problem. Today we can see how Mary might conceive (by some freak accident) and bear a female child. But how she could bear a male child * still remains a total mystery which only Revelation can illuminate for us. It is significant, too, in the light of Job's question (in 14:4) as to how a "clean thing" could be born of a woman, that the angel said to Mary (Luke 1:35) "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." This statement is so explicit that it cannot but be in answer to both Job's and Bildad's question.

     Only by revelation do we know that the Holy Spirit supplied that which a human father could not be allowed to supply in this single instance.

    It may seem that we're making too much of too little. We are complicating the Gospel unjustifiably and destroying in the process the simplicity of it which makes it so communicable to "all sorts and conditions of men." Are we not then doing the truth a disservice? In answer to this, I think an observation made by Warfield will be more effective than anything I might say. Warfield wrote: "We are discussing not the terms of salvation, but the essential content of the Christian system; not what we must do to be saved, but what it behooved Jesus

* Only via the male seed can a male child be conceived under normal conditions, for only the male seed carries the Y chromosome required to bring this about. All virgin births (except among birds) result in female offspring. See further on this, reference #198, final paragraph in chapter 16.

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Christ to be and to do that He might save us." [emphasis mine]. * That is to say, we are not talking about what a man must believe but what had to be done to make his salvation possible. On the other hand, Warfield rightly emphasizes that it is no virtue to be deliberately ignorant of these things if one has the opportunity of knowing them, on the ground that such knowledge is not essential to salvation. Thus he went on to say:

The act of faith by which (Jesus Christ) is savingly apprehended involves these presuppositions, were its implicates to be soundly developed. But our logical capacity can scarcely be made the condition of our salvation. It will hardly do to represent ignorance or error as advantageous to salvation. It certainly is worthwhile to put our trust in Jesus as intelligently as it may be given us to do.

     To which I can only add a fervent Amen! I am always amazed at the insights into truth of which the human mind is capable when relying upon the Word of God and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. In the Prayer Book of Edward VI, issued in 1548, there was read during the evening service a doctrinal statement of which I have extracted the following words, retaining their old spelling for interest's sake: *

     Perfecte God, and perfecte man: of a resonable [i.e., rational] soule, and
humayne fleshe subsisting.
     Equall to the father as touchyng his Godhead: and inferior to the father
as touchyng his manhoode.
     Who although he be God and man: yet he is not two, but one Christe.
     One, not by conuersion of the Godhead into fleshe: but by takyng of the
manhoode unto God.
     One altogether, not by confusion of substaunce, but by unitie of person.

     Let me give one further example of the elegant working of man's mind when called upon to grapple with the kind of unfathomable mystery here involved in the manifestation of God in human flesh, in what has aptly been called the "objectification of God." This is to be found in the Tome of Leo. Leo was Bishop of Rome from 440461 A.D. and in his 28th epistle to Flavian, dated June 13, 449, he wrote: *

* Warfield, Benjamin B., Biblical and Theological Studies, edited by Samuel Craig, Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1968, p 167, 168.
The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, Everyman's Library, London, Dent, 1957, p.31.
Bettenson, Henry, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press 1950, p.72.

     pg.13 of 22     


     The Son of God therefore came down from his throne in heaven without withdrawing from his Father's glory, and entered this lower world, born after a new order, by a new mode of birth. After a new order, in as much as he is invisible in his own nature and he became visible in ours; he is incomprehensible and he willed to be comprehended; continuing to be before time he began to exist in time. By a new mode of birth, in as much as virginity inviolate which knew not the desire of the flesh supplied the material of the flesh. From his mother the Lord took nature, not sin. Jesus Christ was born from a virgin's womb by a miraculous birth. And yet his nature is not on that account unlike ours, for he that is true God is also true man.

     It seems presumption to seek to amend a statement which has so many wonderful turns of thought in it, but I think it is true to say that we need not to speak of the birth itself as a miracle, only the conception. To this extent, our understanding has perhaps been enlarged a little since Leo's time. We now know more about the Creator's reasons for designing the mode of human reproduction in its initial stages in order to make his own incarnation possible.
     It is clear that the Lord Jesus Christ could not become Man without embodiment. And because He was God, He could not be embodied appropriately except in a housing that was altogether without corruption or defect. Such a body, to be human, must be woman-born, but to be without corruption cannot be man-begotten. All these conditions were perfectly fulfilled at the time of his incarnation, and yet the order of nature was not violated only drafted to serve an even higher purpose than before. Such is the wisdom of God, and such was his forethought in creating Adam and forming Eve as He did.

     On the following pages we have summarized in word and diagram the substance of what has preceded in terms of the unfolding of the plan for the redemption of man by the Incarnation of the Son of God, though it seems almost presumption to attempt representation of any kind of such a profound mystery. Nevertheless the following may help to show the continuity of events from the First to the Last Adam.
     Turning, then, to Figure 17 , we start at the top, level (1), with the creation of Adam represented as containing within himself both seeds, male and female, symbolized by open circles marked M and F.
     We move down to level (2) and observe that Adam has now been separated into two halves of himself, each of which contains one seed.
     We drop down from these two representative figures to the next stage (3) which signifies their fallen state. Both figures are therefore shaded. But they are shaded differently and the difference is important. In Adam's case the shading includes the circle which is the seed of the man. In the woman's case the circle is not shaded,

     pg.14 of 22   



     pg.15 of 22     

signifying that it was still untouched by the poison and has therefore all the potential of the female seed in Adam as first created.
     At level (4) sons and daughters are born from the union of Adam and Eve. It will be noticed that they are all shaded but that the shading in the male seed is total, whereas the female seed is still not shaded. For the seed of the woman is preserved untouched.
     From level (5) we have simply marked successive generations in the female line in which the seed of the woman continues untouched by the stream of the poison which nevertheless destroys the woman's body. Throughout this line of successive generations the germ plasm retains the perfection that marked the female seed in Adam. The continuity of the germ plasm is indicated.
     At level (6) we arrive at Mary's generation. The time has come for the appearing of the Lord: and from heaven the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary, perhaps to provide the male component for her seed, a component therefore untouched by the poisoned stream that has been contributed in each generation by the male seed. And out of this fusion, a body of a second Adam is in due time brought to birth. This is represented at level (7).
     It is at this time that a human spirit is added to the body to complete it, while at the same moment the Logos declared, "Lo, I come," and took up residence in it, in order to assume a perfect human nature. Thus He became what He was not before; while never ceasing to be what He had always been. God had now become objectified in the only kind of body that was fitting, a body with the same potential of physical immortality originally enjoyed by the First Adam. Accordingly He is called a Last Adam. At levels (7) and (8) the figure is thus no longer shaded.
     Several significant passages of Scripture can be set forth sequentially in a way that may be helpful to show the parallelisms and yet the differences between our birth as mortal men and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect man with the potential of endless life (Hebrews 7:l6).

In natural generation:
           1. The father begets (Isaiah 45:10; Jeremiah 16:3).
           2. The woman brings forth (Isaiah 45:10).
           3. God gives the spirit (Ecclesastes 12:7).
           4. And so emerges the person or soul (Genesis 2:7).

In the generation of the Lord Jesus Christ:
           1. The Father, through the Holy Spirit, begets (Luke 1:30-35; John 3:16).
           2. A virgin conceives (Isaiah 7:14) and a child is born (Isaiah 9:6).
           3. The Logos creates a human spirit to complete a man-child nature; and then, sent by the Father (John 17:18;                Romans 8:3) the Son is given (Isaiah 9:6) to assume that nature and to become the seat of its                self-consciousness.
          4.  And so the Word became flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16), one Person in two natures, human and divine.

     pg.16 of 22     

.     The seed of the woman has fulfilled its highest appointed role. It is in this sense that the embodiment of Adam in the first place was nothing less than a first step in "the preparation" of a body for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Lord.

     We turn now to a question that must often have been asked in private but never seems to have been discussed in public except by Roman Catholic theologians but from a perspective unacceptable to evangelicals as a whole. The question in its simplest form is, Why did God specifically choose Mary to be the woman whose seed should become a foundation of the Lord's humanity? 

     pg.17 of 22     


NOTES

222. (See page 4)  This is a fact of profound theological and biological importance. I say biological because there is a strong movement, even among evangelicals, to abandon the doctrine of the creation of Adam's body. The theory is that so long as he had a specially created spirit (or soul), he had all he needed to qualify as a human being. His body could have been evolved and it would make no difference. This volume demonstrates that to surrender to the demands of evolutionary philosophy would be fatal to evangelical theology.
     Many Christians have unthinkingly accepted this "out" including the Roman Catholic Church which now officially condones it so long as Adam's soul is still held to have been a direct creation. The departure began among evangelicals a long time ago and is to be observed in embryo form in the works of A. A. Hodge [Evangelical Theology, 1890, Banner of Truth reprint, 1976, p.148, 154, 155], A. H. Strong [Systematic Theology, 1906, Philadelphia, Judson Press, reprint 1974, p.76], and B. B. Warfield [Biblical and Theological Studies, 1911, Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1968, p.238ff.]. Warfield effectively destroys the chronological framework of Scripture in order to accommodate, surreptitiously, an evolutionary interpretation of the origin of man's body. He thus leaves us with a shadowy figure in some exceedingly remote period of time whom we are called upon to visualize nevertheless (in his unfallen state at least) as the prototype of the Second Adam. The foundations of biblical history are almost hopelessly confused and the rationale of the plan of redemption is accordingly undermined.
     The Papal encyclical (Sui Generis), already referred to (chapter 9, p.2, fn.), supplies all the latitude the orthodox Roman Catholic scholar could ask for in the face of the implacable offensive of evolutionary philosophy. The encyclical does emphasize that evolution is still only a theory but most readers will not recognize the significance of this cautionary addendum.

223. (See page 4)  In some circles there is considerable debate as to whether the Lord's body was identical with ours or only similar. It is argued that if his body was only similar, then He was not a true representative of man. Against this argument it may be said by contrast that we ourselves in our present fallen state are not truly man, and that true Man is to be found only in Adam before he fell. Since the Fall did irreparable and fatal damage to his body, a damage shared by all his natural born descendants, then any human being appearing with such a body as we now have is not a true representative of manhood as originally constituted by God.
  Thus it is appropriate that Romans 8:3 should state very specifically that God sent his Son only "in the likeness of sinful flesh" but not actually in the flesh of sin which is ours since the Fall. The Greek is unequivocal. It reads: en homoiomati sarkos hamartias (). The crucial word here is homoiomati () which means very precisely "similar to" but not "identical with." The first part of this word is homoi- () which is to be most carefully distinguished from homo- (). The difference lies only in the single letter i (iota in Greek) which though seemingly slight makes all the difference in the world. A Greek scholar will not need elaboration of this, but for the reader not acquainted with Greek, here are a number of examples of this prefixed syllable in its two forms and the difference it makes to the words to which they are prefixed.

     pg.18 of 22     


homoieides         means         "of like kind"
homoeides          means         "of the same kind"

homoios             means         "resembling," "like" (so rendered 47 times in the King James Version)
homos                means         "one and the same"

homonoeo          means         "of one mind"
homometrios      means         "of the same mother" (i.e., true siblings).

     The verb homoioo is regularly used to introduce parables: for example, "the Kingdom of heaven is like unto. . . " [see Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol.5, p.189].
     In the article in Kittel on the word homoioma by Johannes Schneider, emphasis is placed upon the above distinctions, and Romans 8:3 is particularly referred to. As Schneider says: "Paul is emphasizing that Christ was really man. He bore a physical body, fashioned according to the human body which is infected with sin. In outward form He was in no way different from other men. But Paul does not say that He came en sarki hamartias [i.e., He did not come in sinful flesh, but only in the likeness of sinful flesh, ACC]. With his words en homoiomati Paul is showing that for all the similarity between Christ's physical body and that of [other] men, there is an essential difference between Christ and men . . .  He became man without entering the nexus [the actual stream, ACC] of human sin" [p.195].
     The distinction between the two groups of words prefixed by homo- and homoi- is universally recognized by scholars, and by taking careful note of these distinctive usages in the New Testament many wonderful truths become apparent. For example, that the Lord was tempted in all points like we are, means (according to the Greek) "in a similar manner" but not "in an identical manner" (Hebrews 4:15). The Lord "was made in the likeness of men," but not identical with us as fallen creatures (Philippians 2:7). We have been "planted together in the likeness of his death" but obviously not in precisely the same way (Romans 6:5). Schneider quotes H. Schlier on this verse as saying "the image (or likeness) of his death is like its object but not equivalent" [p.192]. And he quotes S. Stricker as saying, "It is something similar in another form." Again, "It behooved Him to be made like unto his brethren in all things that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest" (Hebrews 2:17) but manifestly not to be made exactly as his brethren are, for then He could never have become our High Priest in the very presence of God.
     Students of Church History will recognize the importance of the distinction between the words homo-ousias (of the same substance) and homoi-ousias (of like substance) in the formulation of the Nicene Creed (325374). The Eastern Church favoured the view that the Lord Jesus was only of like substance with the Father, whereas the Western Church held the view that He was of the same substance ("of one substance") with the Father. The result was a final rupture between the Eastern and Western branches of the Church which remains officially to this day. This fundamental division was over an iota, the difference between homo- and homoi-. Yet this iota was crucial to the preservation of the Christian faith! It is interesting that the Lord should have said "not one jot (the Greek iota) . . . shall pass away from the law till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18).

     pg.19 of 22     


     Athanasius himself (c. 296373), who became a great defender of the homo-ousias principle, tells us that in the matter of proving the faith of Christian leaders "homo-ousias became the crucial test of orthodoxy" [The New Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1969, vol.1, p.345]. And Augustus Neander, in his nine volume General History of the Christian Religion and Church, tells us that it was made the "watch-word" as a bulwark in the Nicene Creed against the Arianism favoured by the Eastern Church at that time [Edinburgh, Clark, 1885, vol.4, especially p.38ff.].

224. (See page 4) Augustine listed four alternative views regarding the origin of the soul. These four still remain valid today, except that the strict materialist would add that "soul" is a property of matter and appears, not as an addendum but as matter reaches a certain level of organization. These four alternatives are:

(1) All souls are derived (Latin traducere, hence the word traducianism) from the one given to the first man.

(2) Each individual soul is a direct creation (hence the term creationism).

(3) Souls already in existence are sent by divine act into bodies, a form of divinely ordered distribution                (pre-existence).

(4) Souls of the departed are reincarnated at their own instigation, or by invitation of the living, or by some ritual                manipulation, other than by divine decree (re-incarnation).

     The two that have been debated most earnestly by the Church are Traducianism and Creationism. Some form of pre-existence and/or reincarnation has at times been seriously defended. The Jewish rabbis tended towards reincarnation, and this is reflected perhaps in their supposition that Elijah had re-appeared in John the Baptist (Matthew 16:14; cf. also Matthew 14:2, and also cf. Nicodemus' words in John 3:4). The Alexandrian School under the influence of Origen (185254 A.D.) was the most forthright defender of pre-existence, but Origen's views were officially condemned by the Catholic Church in 543, by the Canons Against Origen [See G. C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1975, p.284, fn.8].
     In due time the Roman Catholic theologians settled for Creationism, and it is possible that this fact drove Luther to favour Traducianism, although in his later years he seems less certain in this respect. Lutheranism, however, has not deviated from this traducianist position. Luther was greatly influenced in his thinking by Augustine. And in this matter Augustine never seems to have quite made up his mind. This is reflected in his correspondence with Jerome. In his letter [No. CLXVI written in 415 A.D. and titled "On the Origin of the Human Soul" chapter IV, § 8] he wrote: "To avoid unnecessary words, let me refer to the opinion which you, I believe, entertain, viz., that God even now makes each soul for each individual at the time of birth." And then in § 10 he confesses his problem with the opposite view, Traducianism, saying that it seems to him strange and unfair that an innocent babe should inherit a soul already guilty along with a body already defective and be condemned, unless baptized, on that account.

     pg.20 of 22     


     So he comments, "I am willing that the opinion which you hold should be mine also; but I assure you that as yet I have not embraced it." And it is not clear from his other voluminous works whether he ever did take a firm stand for Creationism.
     Traducianism is a very ancient view. From a book now apparently lost, which bore the title The Two Tables of the Covenant (author unknown?), we find the following statement quoted as from page 8, column 2: "The soul of Adam is the root of all souls, and from him all souls were spread out. for all were by his strength" [See F. R. Tennant, The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin, New York ,Schocken Books, 1968, p.167].
     Traducianism has always seemed the simplest way to explain the universality of man's fallen nature and the explanation for his inheritance of original sin. The concept of Adam as a Federal Head of the race in whom the whole race sinned has appealed to many as the best explanation of Romans 5:18 and 19. Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology, though holding firmly to the Creationist position, nevertheless frankly admits that this argument for Traducianism is a powerful one [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1973 reprint, vol.II, chap.3, §2, p.69].
     Franz Delitzsch leans strongly towards traducianism [System of Biblical Psychology, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1966 reprint, p.137]. He makes much of the argument that we have a clear precedent in Scripture in Hebrews 7:9, 10 where we are told that Levi paid
tithes in Abraham.
     Others argue that God is not actively "creating" today: that He ceased his creative activity in Genesis 2:2. That Jesus in John 5:17 assures us that his Father is still actively at work is not taken to be any contradiction since the reference is assumed to be to his active providence, not creativity. Nevertheless, in the matter of the soul or spirit, we cannot overlook the implication of 2 Corinthians 5:17 where creation of a new spirit is clearly indicated implying that the old spirit was also created.
     W. G. T. Shedd held absolutely to a traducianist position. He wrote: "The creation of the soul subsequently to the conception of the body, and its infusion into it, is contrary to all the analogies of nature" [Dogmatic Theology, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1969 reprint, vol.II, p.76]. By contrast, Calvin was an equally forthright creationist. A footnote in the McNeill edition of his Institutes sums up his position by saying, "Calvin completely rejects the [traducianist] teaching" [Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1975, Book I, i. 7 fn. 20]. Beza and Turrettin both followed Calvin. In his Institutio [IX. xii. 6], Turrettin wrote: "Some are of the opinion that the difficulties pertaining to the propagation of original sin are best resolved by the doctrine of the propagation of the soul (animae traducem); a view held by not a few of the Fathers and towards which Augustine seems frequently to incline. And there is no doubt that by this theory all the difficulties seem to be removed; but since it does not accord with Scripture nor with sound reason, and is exposed to great difficulties, we do not think that recourse should be had to it."
     Augustine could not see how a newly created and perfect spirit could be infused into a corrupted body by which it was itself to be corrupted. And yet he could at the same time give examples of a similar nature, where good seed is sown in bad ground. And he often returned to the question of the justice of condemning innocent children, who had not had the "benefit" of Christian baptism, for a guilt in which they had really never taken any active part personally.

     pg.21 of 22     


     Louis Berkhof asks the pertinent question as to why, if souls are derived immediately from Adam and not immediately by creation, are they held responsible only for Adam's sin in the Garden and not for all the other and later sins of his life? [Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1969, p.198]. And, one may ask further, why are we not each of us responsible for all the sins of Adam's descendants in the direct line of our own descent? This would have the curious consequence of making each individual soul cumulatively more sinful than all its predecessors as it added its own guilt to theirs!
     It is also to be noted that when Eve was brought to Adam he did not exclaim, "This is now flesh of my flesh and spirit of my spirit" but "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Genesis 2:23) as though to emphasize that her body was indeed derived from his but not the spiritual component of her being. Perhaps one of the commonest arguments against traducianism is the Lord's statement to Nicodemus in John 3:6, a statement which seems almost to refer back to Genesis 2:23, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."
     It is sometimes difficult to know what the Reformed position actually is. Certainly Abraham Kuyper is not a traducianist; yet he held that each man receives his human nature "not directly from God but from God through Adam." Exactly how this is to be understood is not clear, for he statedly chose creationism nevertheless. He held that God creates the soul, in the embryo the embryo having a predisposition towards a soul predestined for it. The soul is wholly distinct, and human personality originates in the unity of the body and the soul [See on this, C. C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1975, p.289]. Berkouwer states Kuyper's position as being that God "directly and instantly creates" the soul but not in an arbitrary form but specifically for the body it is to dwell.
     The issue is clearly one that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Admittedly both sides can produce "proof texts." For myself, it seems that the weight of the evidence is strongly in favour of creationism particularly Genesis 2:23 by implication and in the light of John 3:6; and such passages as Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7. Genesis 2:2 is counterbalanced by John 5:17 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. The Fall intervened. The only difficult passage, to my mind, is Romans 5:18 and 19. Yet logically, speaking as one with scientific training in a laboratory, I do not think a sound biblical psychology can be built on a traducianist basis, though I acknowledge the work of Franz Delitzsch as a magnificent effort.

225. (See page 7) There is a possibility, though I think it somewhat remote, that the words in Hebrews 2:9, "by the grace of God" may be a transcription error for an original which would then read "apart from God." There are a number of New Testament manuscripts and ancient authorities for this alternative. The meaning would then perhaps be that "He, the Lord Jesus Christ, tasted death but not as God." This is contrary to Scripture (as the following passages show by implication: Acts 20:28; l John 3:16; 1 Timothy 3:16; Luke 17:15, 16; Revelation 1:6, "unto God, and his Father").
     The problem is to know how to reconcile the idea that God could not die while yet keeping in view the fact that only One who was God could make an atonement sufficient for the sins of the whole world, as l John 2:2 seems to require. 

     pg.22 of 22     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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