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probability? We think, towards the same reference, to which, as we have already seen, the words direct us. The antecedent presumption from the surrounding verses is against a doxology to God in this place. Some have held that this presumption amounts to certainty. The introduction of such a doxology here, they assert, would be so unsuitable as to render it quite impossible to suppose that the Apostle could have thought of it for a moment. To us, however, this view appears to be quite without foundation. Indeed, we cannot regard an ascription of praise to God as especially out of place at this point. St. Paul had been enumerating the peculiar blessings and honors of his own people, which had given them, as he rejoiced to feel, an exalted position in the world. He was declaring his affection for them, and the absence of all enmity even when compelled to say what might seem harsh and offensive. He was testifying to his sorrow for evil which befell them, and his joy and pride in all their history as evidencing God's favor. These are the thoughts of the first five verses of this chapter. Why could he not, and why should he not, at the close of these verses, and after the enumeration of these blessings, break forth into the exclamation, “ May he who is over all, God, be blessed for
, ever!" But, while we admit this, we must observe that the progress of the author's thought is towards the sixth verse and what follows it, and that the balance of probability cannot be determined without considering the five verses in connection with the sixth and the rest of the chapter. As we look at the matter from this point of view, we find that the thought moves on in an easy and natural way, if we make the reference of these words, which are under discussion, to be to Christ. As I come now, (the Apostle says in substance), after my preceding argument and discourse to speak of the lapse of the Jews, I assure them that I do it with sorrow, not with willingness; for how could I do it willingly, since they are my own countrymen, and are the people who have been honored by the possession of the law, etc., and by the fact that the Divine Christ entered into our world as one of their race;-and I assure them also (vs. 6), that, in saying what I am compelled to say, I do not mean that the covenant of God, which has given them all these blessings, has failed or will fail. I only say, that it has been misapprehended in its true meaning and application by my country
Understood in this way, everything becomes clear; the emphasis throughout is just what we should anticipate; the relation of the introductory verses to the main portion of the chapter is most appropriate and most simple. If, on the other hand, we have a doxology at the end of the fifth verse, there is a certain arresting of the thought and drawing aside of the mind, which, in a measure, breaks the closeness of the connection. Now, as the chapter is not written for the sake of the introduction, but the introduction for the sake of the chapter, it would seem that we ought to explain these verses, in every part of them, in the way which will place them most in harmony with what follows.
VI. If the considerations thus far presented are of weight, and the argument is, in some degree, cumulative as it proceeds, we may properly notice the fact before closing, that the writers of the Primitive Church, so far as they refer to this passage, seem almost uniformly to give the interpretation which applies the words to Christ. The value of patristic interpretation may be questioned, indeed, and in the case of some of the fathers it is possible that reasons may be suggested which influenced their minds, apart from the mere language which is used by the Apostle. But, whatever may be said in this way, and however we may estimate these writers, their substantial or complete unanimity is a circumstance which should not be disregarded. We do not insist on this point with urgency, because we cannot look upon it as having so much importance as it has appeared to many to have. As connected with and following upon what has been previously presented, however, we give the fact a place in the argument which we think it deserves.
We thus bring our presentation of the subject, so far as this side of the argument is concerned, to a close. There are considerations upon the other side, which demand notice, if our discussion is to be complete, or if it is to be carried forward with impartiality. To these we now turn our attention.
I. Looking simply at the matter of language—and apart from all doctrinal controversy—we see, it is said, that St. Paul does not use the word (zós, in any single instance unless it be here, with reference to Christ. This word is found in the Pauline Epistles about five hundred and fifty times. If among all these cases no one is discovered in which Christ is called 0£65, outside of the verse before us, what is the inference as to this verse? Is it not, manifestly, that he is not so called here? The advocates of the interpretation which makes the clause a doxology to God press this question with much emphasis and confidence. They claim that the presumption in favor of their view, and against the application of the words to Christ, becomes at this point overwhelming; that it overbalances, indeed, everything which has been or can be urged upon the other side.
Estimate this presumption, however, as fairly as we may, it must be admitted, we think, as has been already said with respect to some of those mentioned upon the other side, that it does not amount to certainty. Certainty, in this connection, could come only from a positive statement on the part of the Apostle, or, at least, or some writer in the New Testament, that Christ is not 0:05. But no such statement exists. It must also be admitted, we think, that, in and of itself, it does not reach the highest limits of probability, for if in our study of his writings we find, perchance, indications that divine attributes are ascribed by St. Paul to Christ, this fact may open the way for our believing that he somewhere calls him God. Or if the sentence before us, on investigation, proves to present some difficulties in the meaning of words or in construction, which are equally great with any involved in supposing that the Apostle here deviales from his uniform custom elsewhere, we must weigh these difficulties in the balance with this presumption, in order to our reaching our final result.
So much may be said, even if there are no instances of this use of 0:us to be discovered. But in case our examination leads to the finding of a few such instances, the argument now before us will, evidently, lose much, if not all, of its force. The presumption will sink into a far lower region of probability. This will be so, because the present sentence if interpreted of Christ will, under these circumstances, be no longer distinguished from every other Pauline sentence. It will be so, also, because, as it is antecedently to be expected that the word 6só- will generally be applied to God the Father, even a small number of examples of reference to Christ may justify us in assuming such a reference, wherever the indications of the sentence itself point in that direction. We are brought, therefore, to the inquiry whether any such cases, which are in point, actually exist, or whether any considerations may properly be offered which tend to weaken or set aside the argument now before us.
The full and satisfactory examination in regard to the use of the word 0is would involve a discussion of all the verses, in which it has been maintained that St. Paul applies it to Christ. Such a discussion, however, would reach far beyond the limits of this paper. We can only indicate, as briefly as possible, a few points which may have a bearing upon the true view of the subject, and may help towards showing precisely what the strength or weaknesss of the presumption asserted to exist here is. These points are the following:
. (2.) In Acts xx. 28, the textual evidence is so strong in favor of 0:07 that it is accepted as the true reading by prominent scholars, and
among them by Westcott and Hort, in their recently published edition of the Greek Testament. The English Revisers have retained the word God in their text. It must be admitted by all, that this may have been the original word, and that the other reading, xuplou, cannot be considered as certainly to be substituted. The question, to say the most we can for that other reading, is nearly evenly balanced. Here, then, is one instance where we find a not improbable justification for explaining our present passage as having reference to Christ.
(6.) In Titus ii. 13, the arguments which are connected with the natural construction of the verse, favor the reference of Osoð to Christ. The ordinary grammatical rule, according to which two appellative words connected by zal under a common article belong to the same substantive, points to this application of the word. That this rule is universal, is denied. That it holds with regard to the verse in question, is not admitted by Winer and some others. The suggestions of Winer, however, in support of his view do not seem to be conclusive, when they are examined, and we are persuaded that the grounds for applying the rule in this verse have not been duly considered by most of those who have written upon the subject. The English Revisers, here also, have given in their text the rendering which assigns the name God to Christ.
(c.) The other verses from the Pauline Epistles which have been cited for the purpose of showing that this name is thus given, such as Col. ii. 2, Eph. v. 5, 2 Thess. i. 12, Tit. i. 3, we regard as having, according to the probabilities of the case, another interpretation. We, therefore, mention them only that it may not be supposed they have been overlooked, but do not rest the argument, in any measure, upon them. The first two of them, not to say all, may possibly be instances in point, but the possibility does not seem to reach the limits of probability. I Tim. iii. 16, can hardly be cited at all, since the true text is ős, not Osós, as the best critics now generally admit.
(d.) Whatever may be the final decision with regard to any or all of these passages, St. Paul unquestionably uses very strong expressions respecting Christ, which bear Him to an exaltation closely approaching to that which would be indicated by giving Him the name 0£65, if, indeed, they do not fully reach it;—especially in Phil. ii. 6-8 and
He who "counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God," and in whom “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” would seem to be worthy of the loftiest title. He has θεότης abiding in him; may he not somewhere be called θεός ?
(e.) The Apostle John uses the word oeós of Christ in his Gospel, i. 1, xx. 28. If this be admitted, we must allow that the thought of
Col. ii. 9.
Christ as God was not foreign to the apostolic mind, and therefore, that it may not have been strange to Paul. We may notice, also, that St. John, though using this word about one hundred and fifty times, applies it to Christ only twice, or, if xx. 28, is excluded, only
We find, thus, a fact in connection with his writings, which corresponds, in its measure, with what we see in St. Paul's Epistles, if Rom. ix. 5 is the only instance of his employing Osós in this way.
(f.) This brings us to what we regard as an important suggestion, as relating to the matter now before us. If St. Paul and the other Apostles believed that the word osóş was properly applicable to Christ, it is, nevertheless, not strange that they should have spoken of him scores or hundreds of times as man, or as Messiah, while referring to him only in occasional instances as God. It was to be expected, on the other hand, that this would be their course. Their work, to which they devoted their energy and life, was, as we must remember, to persuade their fellow men to accept as a Savior the man who had taught them, whose disciples they had been during His earthly ministry, and whom they had seen after His resurrection and as he ascended towards heaven. The question whether he was God or not, however important in itself, was, in this view, a secondary and subordinate one. Those writers who have asserted that, if the New Testament authors had accepted the doctrine of Christ's Divinity, they would have declared it on every page, misapprehend, as it appears to us, the position of these authors and the first and main object which they had in view. As they besought those to whom they preached the Gospel to be reconciled to God, they set before them the Mediator through whom the reconciliation was made possible. They naturally described him in this official and intermediate relation, as he appeared on earth. They wrote about him as they preached, mainly in his distinction from God and in his human manifestation, and only in a far less degree did they feel impelled to discourse of his union in being with God, or to give him the name of God. Jesus, whom they preached. If men would come in faith to Jesus, they believed that they would gradually, if not at once, reach the apprehension that he was Divine. They called him, therefore, Jesus, Christ, Saviour, Mediator, Man, often and always. They called him God only here and there, -only, it may be, at very rare intervals.
The argument now under consideration is, in our judgment, the strongest one which can be brought forward against the reference of the clause before us to Christ. To those who present it, it appears conclusive. But, even if we admit that none of the passages cited from the Pauline writings prove that 0:65 is used of him, the points