Monday, March 12, 2018

See the conquering hero comes!

1. The NT contains two kinds of passages about Jesus: egalitarian passages and subordinationist passages. Egalitarian passages represent the Father and the Son as coequal. The Son is fully divine. Yahweh Incarnate. Recipient of divine honors. The Son exercises uniquely divine prerogatives. Conversely, subordinationist passages represent the Son is in some way inferior to the Father. Theologians struggle about how to harmonize these.

i) Liberal scholars think the canon reflects conflicting theological viewpoints. A collection of documents that are sometimes at loggerheads. They think Mark has a low Christology while John has a high Christology. Acts as a low Christology while passages in Hebrews, Paul, and the "Deutero-Paulines" reflect a high Christology. 

ii) Unitarians resolve the tension by laboring to neutralize all the egalitarian passages.  

iii) In Nicene theology, the Son is subordinate because he derives his existence from the Father. 

2. Actually, I think it's easy to see how the Son can be essentially on a par with the Father, yet subordinate in some respect.  The Bible was revealed in a world of monarchies, dynasties, and warrior cultures. It plays on these social metaphors. There are three intertwined motifs and/or metaphors that coalesce into a messianic paradigm:

i) Father/son

In human affairs, fathers and sons are essentially equals. Fathers may be initially superior because they are farther along in the lifecycle. They have lead time to get established in the social hierarchy. But with the passage of time, a son catches up with his father and eventually overtakes him, as his father declines. In that respect, sons are temporarily subordinate to their fathers. 

ii) King/prince

This is a special case of (i). Typically, a royal son is the designated heir. So long as the king is the reigning monarch and the firstborn son is the crown prince, his son occupies a subordinate role. But eventually he succeeds his father. The prince is the future king. 

iii) Warrior king

This is a special case of (ii). Although the firstborn son is the heir apparent, that's not an unconditional birthright. Sometimes the firstborn may be passed over if he disgraces himself, dishonors his father, is disloyal or inept. Likewise, a wise monarch won't knowingly entrust his kingdom to a son if his kingdom will fall apart or be overrun due to his son's incompetence. 

So the heir apparent may have to prove himself on the field of battle. Prove himself to be, not merely the rightful heir, but a worthy heir. Someone able to defend the kingdom. Able to preserve the royal patrimony. 

In some cases the reigning monarch appoints his son to be coregent. That's a temporary arrangement until the old monarch abdicates or dies in office. 

If you read various messianic prophecies and NT passages, you can see how Scripture exploits these three nested motifs as a messianic paradigm. For instance, in Dan 7, the divine monarch (Ancient of Days) has white hair. He's depicted as an aged king whom the youthful prince (Son of Man) will succeed. 

Indeed, the whole raison d'être for royal dynasties, royal inheritance, royal succession or coregencies is the mortality of the reigning monarch. Soon or later, someone must take his place. Will the transfer of power be peaceful or bloody? 

Of course, theological metaphors are somewhat anthropomorphic. So we need to make allowance for disanalogies as well as analogies in application to the Deity. 

However, it has a literal element. The Son qua Incarnate undergoes physical and psychological development. After the Resurrection and Ascension he rules from heaven, directing the course of history to subjugate enemies of God's kingdom. And upon his return, he will defeat them once and for all time. Let's quote some representative passages:

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
    and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
(Gen 49:10-11)

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Ps 2:1-12)

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
    render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations serve him!
(Ps 72:8-11)

27 And I will make him the firstborn,
    the highest of the kings of the earth.
(Ps 89:27)

The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The Lord sends forth from Zion
    your mighty scepter.
    Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
    in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
    the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
    over the wide earth.
(Ps 110:1-6)

2 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
(Isa 9:2-7).

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
(Isa 11:1-5)

5 For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom,
    upon the people I have devoted to destruction.
6 The Lord has a sword; it is sated with blood;
    it is gorged with fat,
    with the blood of lambs and goats,
    with the fat of the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
    a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
7 Wild oxen shall fall with them,
    and young steers with the mighty bulls.
Their land shall drink its fill of blood,
    and their soil shall be gorged with fat.
8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
    a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
(Isa 34:5-8)

16 He saw that there was no man,
    and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
    and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
    and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
    and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,
    wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
    to the coastlands he will render repayment.
(Isa 59:16-18)

Who is this who comes from Edom,
    in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
    marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
    mighty to save.”
2 Why is your apparel red,
    and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
    and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
    and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood[a] spattered on my garments,
    and stained all my apparel.
(Isa 63:1-3)

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
(Jer 23:5-6)

9 “As I looked,

thrones were placed,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
    its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
    and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.
(Dan 7:9-10,13-14)

2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.
(Micah 5:2-5)

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.
13 For I have bent Judah as my bow;
    I have made Ephraim its arrow.
I will stir up your sons, O Zion,
    against your sons, O Greece,
    and wield you like a warrior's sword.
(Zech 9:9-13)

There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 
(Mt 21:33-37)

4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
(Jn 17:4-5)

 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.
(Eph 1:20-22)

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be taken advantage of 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Phil 2:6-11)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Col 1:15-17)

 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”?
Or again,

“I will be to him a father,
    and he shall be to me a son”?
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God's angels worship him.”
7 Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,
    and his ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
10 And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
(Heb 1:1-14)

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
(Rev 19:11-21)

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
(Rev 22:3)

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