You are hereThe Nature of the Christ: The Dilemma of Chronology

The Nature of the Christ: The Dilemma of Chronology

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By TheIdealNate - Posted on 15 December 2006

by Nathan Dubois
We are creatures of time and space. The hardest part of trying to understand an infinite God, is breaking away from the realm of what we know. The reason the letter was death and the temple system a milestone, is because it trapped human beings into a system of the flesh. This system of the flesh was there for God's purposes, but the people who were in it, and in charge of it, got caught up in it's physical nature. We are creatures of time and space. The hardest part of trying to understand an infinite God, is breaking away from the realm of what we know. The reason the letter was death and the temple system a milestone, is because it trapped human beings into a system of the flesh. This system of the flesh was there for God's purposes, but the people who were in it, and in charge of it, got caught up in it's physical nature. The temple was the temple, so how could Christ declare that He was the temple? Clearly a dilemma that the Jews did not understand. Do we? And in declaring He was the temple, was He the temple before or after He tore it down and resurrected it in 3 days?

The law was the law, so how could Christ declare that by following the letter of the law, they were imprisoning men and keeping mankind away from the kingdom? What right did Christ have for adding to the law? "But I tell you..." Can we say He was really adding to God's law?

In looking at things through physical occurrences and time lines, we tend to stress the importance of those time lines in place of the truth that was being revealed in them. Christ was the temple of Revelation 21. Was He the temple of Revelation 21 before or after His death, resurrection, and coming in glory? Depending on the stress and importance put on the time lines of the events we will see different answers.

The reason I think this discussion is important is because it goes to the heart of Christ's true nature vs. our nature. His image vs. our image. Did He become a man in the image and likeness of sinful flesh, or did He BECOME sinful flesh. The answer to this question is critical. If He became sinful flesh, then was He ever qualified to bring life to ours? How can a spotted lamb suffice as the sacrifice? Secondly, did He BECOME the light of the world because of His accomplishments, or did He reveal His light to mankind THROUGH His accomplishments?

These are important questions and go back to my "Chicken or the Egg" discussion.

John stresses the importance of understanding that Christ was from the beginning. He was the Word from before the foundation, He WAS the foundation!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (Christ); and the Word(Christ) was with God, and the Word (Christ) was God. 2 He (Christ) was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him (Christ), and apart from Him (Christ) not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In Him (Christ) was life, and that life was the light of men.

Here we see that Christ was the light of men. John appears to show that He was such from the beginning, however a chronological view will only attribute that truth to after the AD 70 revealing. Some even might do it at the cross, but either way, neither time line is "the beginning."

Revelation 21:22 I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God's glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

The only chronological aspect to this truth is the idea that all the nations will bring their glory into it. Christ did not become the light because He accomplished His work. By His nature and through His will He always WAS the light, but now that light is being revealed to men. John the baptist seems to preach this way also.

John 1:5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man named John who was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, "This was the One of whom I said, 'The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.' ") 16 For we have all received grace after grace from His fullness. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son-- the One who is at the Father's side-- He has revealed Him.

John the Baptist understood that he was the messenger of the One who always existed. John the Baptist was there to point to the One, and reveal to His contemporaries that the One had come.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: 'After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.' 31 I didn't know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel."

Again, John declares that Christ was before Him, eternal. That his purpose for baptizing the Messiah was for revelation. We can see Christ put it His own way.

Matthew 3:14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?" 15 Jesus answered him, "Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him to be baptized.

Someone looking at chronology only would understand that Christ was baptized, because if He had not done so, then He would not have met the letter of righteousness. This is a passage they might get that from. But if that is the case, then Christ is also saying that water baptism is the way to fulfill all righteousness...which is NOT what He is saying. Christ was not "fulfilling something, He was following those traditions because He was to be revealed as the foulness of those traditions. He did not BECOME the fullness because He did them, that is backwards!! Because it was to reveal Him who is from the beginning, that those traditions existed in the first place!! Are we really putting the "Type" as being the purpose and fulfillment over the "anti-type" to which they pointed?

Which is first, the will or the work? Which is the point, the work completed or that will that brought that work into existence in the first place?

Let me give one example from Paul. When discussing the righteousness of Abraham, he draws the line between the work (performing righteousness) vs. the will (being made righteous by the declaration of God) .

Romans 3:10 How then was it credited--while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. 12 And he became the father of the circumcised, not only to those who are circumcised, but also to those who follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

And likewise, Christ did not BECOME righteousness because He DID the things of the law, but rather He did the things of the law to show that only IN CHRIST does righteousness dwell. All that He did was only to reveal the truth of Himself. He was from the beginning. He was Messiah from the foundation, He did not become the Messiah only after He did the work. He did the work to reveal Himself.

This is the same rule that applies to AD 70. Christ was not the light of the world BECAUSE He returned and revealed Himself in glory, He revealed Himself in glory because He was the light of the world.

I understand the difficulty in breaking the paradigm of thought we have carried in our systems. This may rub some theologians the wrong way, and to you I apologize. But I can no longer say those things like "thank God for the cross, because if it wasn't for the cross, I would not have salvation." Rather, thank God for His mercies. Because He willed Himself to be merciful to me, I was saved. I was declared saved the moment that book was written. It was written before the world was made. Praise God for His eternal goodness. He did not have to prove Himself in History, he chose to do what He did ONLY for the purpose of revelation to me! He chose to require blood for redemption, NOT BECAUSE HE DID NOT HAVE THE POWER TO REDEEM ME OTHERWISE, but to show me the depth of transgression that I had committed.

What a humbling way to view it. Yes, He did die for me, not because He had to, but because he wanted to reveal Himself to me, Nathan, a pitiful little finite nobody.

God Bless

Sam's picture

It is very, very good to see John Hedges here, as well as M. Bennett. Even though John is a heretic.

The article is good in that it points to a need for theology. The issue of "justification by faith" needs to be tackled as well, especially in light of the current theological controversy between New Perspectivists and the classic, Reformed position crystalized by Martin Luther.


Virgil's picture

Sam, that debate is much older than Luther; I can think at least of Origen and a few others covering those things. Here we are thousands of years later and we are still talking about it; when will we learn? :)

Sam's picture


Okay, let's not bring up justification by faith. forget it. Virgil, you are right. End of story, folks, Virgil has issued the last statement on it. All theology was solved by the time of Origen.


Virgil's picture

Hehe...come on man; you know that's not what I meant. My point is that we won't solve this issue. If they've been talking about it for so long, my point is that we should be a lot more gracious with each other about disagreements. 2,000 years later we are still talking about the same stuff :)

Sam's picture


They have been talking about everythnig for the past two thousand years, man. Therefore, since all things are debatable, we should not debate or try to find a solution, but simply live with all arguments, tolerate all arguments and live and let live? Is that your solution? Secondly, this solution itself has been debated, and so your suggestion is just merely another suggestion among many - maybe we should just all suspend judgment on everything. Maybe you can be "gracious" to all of this, but I find it quite impossible. Why should I accept your solution?

It's amazing to me that you support that empiricism can yield "absolute truth" (a quote from you), but the Bible can yield no such thing since all these things are up for grabs...we should just let the laboratory dictate what is, and what is not truth, stop debating theology all together and tolerate one another...but, as even the atheist Sam Harris acknowledges, "toleration" allows for more extreme groups to "fester" - and before you know it, they are crashing into your buildings. Virgil, where's your backbone, man?


Kyle Peterson's picture

It's amazing to me that you support that empiricism can yield "absolute truth" (a quote from you), but the Bible can yield no such thing

A patently false claim. Who said the Bible doesn't contain absolute truth? Of course it does. What comes into question is:

a) does the Bible contain truth about everything in the known universe.

b) exactly who understands the truths in the Bible to the full extent of their intention/meaning. We all have different opinions on a myriad of biblical truths. Who's correct?

You seem to be missing Virgil's (& the Postmodernist's) point about the need for us to be understanding and gracious on other's interpretations and opinions.

Virgil's picture

Well it's either toleration or burning at the stake. I mean debates must end somehow...and when they do end, there is a "winner" one way or another. What happens to the loser? :)

You know very well this has nothing to do with "backbone" Sam - I could say the same about you: "Where is your backbone Sam? Bringing up issues that have been settled thousands of years ago?"

You do realize that what you are proposing is quite "emergent" in fact right? I can talk about justification by faith all day with you..that's not the point.

MichaelB's picture

Nate - I don't understand how you see this as a new Pret-Idealist view.

In other words. No one I know ever thought that this stuff had not been declared from the foundation of the world (this is a very calvinistic understanding obviously). Nevertheless they still had to occur in time.

Jesus was the scapegoat. That imagery whould be translated onto Jesus and what he did so I think we agree on that.

Also, if the revealing occurred. Which we agree that it did. But wasn't his wrath also revealed.

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

In other words Christ reveals judgment too, to those not "in him". So to try to hold that people oustide of Christ still in the Mosaic age in some respect would be to deny that "revealing" to them as well.

Which is why I still hold that there can be unbelievers in the "age to come" etc.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Still working on some of this and not shooting down everything you say. But I think it is a stretch to have the Mosaic Covenant still in existence in any way, on men.

Good thoughts Nate. Lot's to think about. But not that new, more like good reminders.

Thanks Sam, good to be here =)

MiddleKnowledge's picture


It's all in how you begin:

"We are creatures of time and space. The hardest part of trying to understand an infinite God, is breaking away from the realm of what we know."

First of all, God entered into our time and space, so it's not an issue of us going "out" but God coming "in."

Second of all, God speaks to us as we are -- creatures of time and space. The fact there are time statements in Scripture at all proves they mean something. We have to deal honestly with that.

I'm listening to the discussion of "pret-idealism" for the time being, but not if this means abandoning any historical dimension to our salvation. This precise point makes Christianity unique among all religions - for good reason. At this time I do not consider it to be true that if we hold to a historical salvation then we cannot see the eternal dimension.

This seems to be a plain case of "both/and" to me. I agree that many preterists essentially reduce it to mere history. I am as opposed to that as you are. But I'm not sure the answer is to go to the opposite extreme as it appears to me in this article.

I will continue to examine various forms of preterist-idealism with an open mind.


Tim Martin

PreteristAD70's picture


You mention that you are listening to the "pret-idealism" discussion, but I fail to find mention of pret-idealism in the article or see anything in the article that is unique to pret-idealism.

Am I to assume that those particular comments are not a specific response to the article, but rather serve as an "aside" to Nate?



MiddleKnowledge's picture

The comments were remarks related to the opening paragraph. I have more, but that was enough for now.


Tim Martin

Jhedges's picture


I am not speaking on Tim's behalf, but I would guess that the reason Tim refered to "pret idealism" is simply, this same article is posted on preterist archive under category...pret idealism :)


PreteristAD70's picture

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ... "I see," said the blind carpenter as he picked up his hammer and saw. ;-)

Jhedges's picture

" I see said the blind man to his "deaf child"!!"

John : )

MiddleKnowledge's picture

I have to say to you two funny guys that it is really nice to see you back here. Thanks for engaging the discussion wherever it takes place.


Tim Martin

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