Boettner The Person of Christ

The Person of Christ is Boettner (Presbyterian) work of 23 chapters on the Person of Christ or Christology, dealing with his deity, his different offices, his humiliation, etc

The Person of Christ is Boettner (Presbyterian) work of 23 chapters on the Person of Christ or Christology, dealing with his deity, his different offices, his humiliation, etc

The Person of Christ

by Loraine Boettner

Table of Contents of The Person of Christ

1. Introduction
2. Christ’s Own Testimony Concerning His Deity
3. Testimony of the Apostles
4. Titles Ascribed to Jesus Christ
5. The Son of God
6. The Son of Man
7. The Pre-existence of Christ
8. The Attributes of Deity Are Ascribed to Christ
9. Jesus’ Life the Fulfillment of a Divine Plan
10. The Miracles of Jesus
11. Importance of Belief in the Deity of Christ
12. The Humanity of Christ
13. The Humiliation of Christ
14. The Exaltation of Christ
15. The Relation of the Two Natures in Christ
16. The Incarnation
17. The Sinlessness of Jesus
18. The Virgin Birth
19. Christ the Messiah of Old Testament Prophecy
20. The Personal Appearance of Jesus
21. The Offices of Christ
22. Erroneous Views Concerning the Person of Christ
23. Conclusion


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7. The Pre-Existence of Christ

In a rather remarkable series of statements Jesus conveys to our minds the idea that His existence did not merely begin when He was born in Bethlehem, but that He “came” or “descended” from heaven to earth, or that He was “sent” by the Father. Very evidently if He came or descended or was sent He must have existed before He came or descended or was sent. These verses afford not only a unique testimony to His divine mission, but also to His heavenly origin, and set Him forth not only as the greatest of the sons of men but as a pre-existent Person,—in some instances as an eternal Being. Unquestionably these sayings are spoken out of a consciousness of pre-existence, and cannot be fully satisfied by any other supplement than “from heaven,” or “from the Father.” And particularly is this true when the title, “Son of Man” (which, as we have just seen in the preceding section, itself implies pre-existence), is used in these verses. He thus sets Himself forth as of higher than human or earthly origin, and therefore as One uniquely qualified to speak to men concerning spiritual things.

Typical verses of this kind are as follows: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45. “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil,” Matt. 5:17. “Let us go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth,” Mark 1:38. “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Matt. 15:24. “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners,” Mark 2:17. “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household,” Matt. 10:34–36 (meaning, of course, not that the ultimate and final purpose of His coming is to stir up strife, but that when the Gospel is preached in a sinful world the first reaction is one of strife with the opposing sinful environment, and that this opposition often disrupts even the most intimate family ties). “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the father,” John 16:28. “I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye know not whence I came, or whither I go.… I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me,” John 8:14, 16. “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world,” John 8:23. “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is of the earth, and of the earth he speaketh: He that cometh from heaven is above all. What He hath seen and heard, of that He beareth witness.… He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God,” John 3:31–34. “No one hath ascended into heaven, but He that descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man, who is in heaven,” John 3:13. “What then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where He was before?” John 6:62.

Furthermore, Jesus teaches not only that He existed before coming into the world, but that He has existed from eternity. “And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John 17:5. “For thou (Father) lovedst me before the foundation of the world,” John 17:24. “Before Abraham was born, I am,” John 8:58,—a statement which infers that the ground of His existence is within Himself, and which also is reminiscent of the “I Am That I am,” the name by which Jehovah announced Himself to Moses in the wilderness as the self-existent, eternal God. In fact, Jesus here applies to Himself the name which since the time of Moses had been known as the name of the eternal God. And in the book of Revelation the risen and glorified Christ says of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” 22:13.

Thus in explicit terms Jesus teaches not only His pre-existence but His eternal pre-existence. And with this agree the other witnesses who speak in the New Testament. “After me cometh a man who is become before me: for He was before me,” said His forerunner, John the Baptist, John 1:30,—not that Jesus was born earlier than John the Baptist, but that He existed earlier, and therefore stands before him in rank. We have already had occasion to refer to the Prologue of John’s Gospel, where concerning the pre-incarnate Word he declares that He possessed not only pre-existence but co-eternity and co-creatorship with the Father, that in time this Word “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Setting it forth as one of the maxims of fundamental religious truth, Paul says, “Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” 1 Tim. 1:15. Writing to the Colossians he says, “In Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist,” 1:16, 17. In 1 Tim. 3:16 pre-existence is assumed when he refers to Christ as “He who was manifested in the flesh.”

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and for ever,” 13:2,—the same through every change and chance of life, the same to this generation that He has been to any past generation. And because He is thus unalterably constant, He is set forth as the Christian’s support and stay, the eternal refuge of His people.

Moreover, even the Old Testament predictions in regard to the Messiah who was to come set Him forth not merely as one who would be “born” like other men, but as One who existed before He came to earth, in fact, as One whose existence extends back into eternity. The prophet Micah wrote, “But thou, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting,” 5:2. And Isaiah described the promised Messiah not only as the “Wonderful Counsellor” and “Prince of Peace,” but as the “Mighty God” and as the “Everlasting Father,” 9:6.

In all the history of the world Jesus emerges as the only “expected” person. No one was looking for such a person as Julius Caesar, or Napoleon, or Washington, or Lincoln to appear at the time and place that they did appear. No other person has had his course foretold or his work laid out for him centuries before he was born. But the coming of the Messiah had been predicted for centuries. In fact, the first promise of His coming was given to Adam and Eve soon after their fall into sin. As time went on various details concerning His Person and work were revealed through the prophets; and at the time Jesus was born there was a general expectation through the Jewish world that the Messiah was soon to appear, even the manner of His birth and the town in which it would occur having been clearly indicated.
Thus Jesus is consistently presented as one who existed before He came to earth. He is presented as One who “descended” from heaven to earth, as One who from all eternity has shared the Father’s glory,—in fact, as One who “came out from the Father” (John 16:28) and who was in the most intimate way identified with God. His own words make it clear that He presented Himself as a visitant from a higher sphere, and that He thought of His work on earth as a mission on behalf of men,—in brief, that He came with the explicit purpose of saving the “lost.”

It is quite evident that the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ is a vital factor in any proper understanding of His Person. As Dr. Samuel G. Craig has pointed out, “In our study of Jesus Christ it is of the utmost importance that we interpret His life in the light of His pre-existence. It is important, in the first place, in order that we may keep constantly before us the fact that the Incarnation was not simply the birth of a great man but rather the entering into human conditions of the only-begotten Son of God, and hence that we may ever realize that in Jesus Christ we are face to face with the God-man. It is important, in the second place, in order that we may adequately appreciate the service He has rendered for us. It is simply impossible adequately to appreciate what Jesus has done for us unless we remember that the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and give His life a ransom for many.” (Jesus As He Was and Is, p. 58).

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