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3. JESUS AS LOGOS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT EPISTLES.

The idea has played a further part in the history of religion in the New Testament itself. The Fourth Evangelist, that is to say, is by no means the first New Testament writer to represent Jesus as the Logos; others did the same before him. Even Paul presupposes that, before 145Jesus appeared on earth, he lived a life with God in heaven (Gal iv. 4; Rom. x. 6). In doing so, he thinks of him, in spite of all his heavenly perfection, as a man in whose image earthly beings, especially men, were first created (1 Cor. xv. 45-49; xi. 8). In fact, according to one passage (1 Cor. viii. 6), he himself helped to carry out the creation of the world. In any case, he arose in quite a different way from human beings, and for this reason he is called God’s own son (Rom. viii. 32). We can see how much there is here in agreement with Philo, whose writings or ideas Paul may have known very well. However, it is noteworthy that Paul was not so much concerned, as Philo was, to explain the origin of the whole world; had he been, he would have described Jesus as the prototype of the whole world and not merely of human beings.

The Epistle to the Hebrews, whose author unquestionably knew Philo’s writings, takes us a step further. To him Christ, before he descended upon earth, is no longer a man in heaven, but is a reflexion of the majesty and imprint of the nature of God, just as in a seal the imprint entirely resembles the stamp; he has not only created the world, but he also continually sustains it; that is to say, keeps it in existence (i. 2 f. 10). The manner in which he proceeded from God is expressly described as a “being begotten” (i. 5), and he is accordingly called simply “Son of God,” without further addition, and so with the implication that there is only one such (i. 1 f. 5; not so, however, in i. 6 “the first-born”). It is all the more note worthy that Jesus “in the days of his flesh offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and . . . though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (v. 7 f.), and that he “in all points like as we,” 146men, “was tempted, yet without sin” (iv. 15), This true recollection of real events in the life of Jesus can only be reconciled with the description of his God-like elevation before his earthly existence by supposing, as Paul does in 2 Cor. viii. 9 and Phil. ii. 6 f., that when he descended upon earth he emptied himself of his heavenly powers, and assumed the form of a man, even of a servant.

The Epistle to the Colossians (the most important sections of which cannot have been written by Paul himself) adds to the two statements, that through Christ the world was made and is maintained in existence, a third to the effect that it was created for him, so that he is thus its goal (i. 15-17). Moreover, it calls him the image of the invisible God, and in doing so, explains even more clearly than the Epistle to the Hebrews why God needed such an image. But, above all, in the Epistle to the Colossians we find the idea of the humiliation of Jesus on earth inter changed with its opposite. It is said in ii. 9, “in him dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily”; and this is true, not merely from the time of Jesus resurrection, but even during his heavenly life before his earthly existence, and then even during his earthly life itself. We read for instance in i. 19 f., God “was pleased that in him should all the fulness dwell, and wished” (afterwards) “through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross, &c.” If the author had thought as Paul did, he would not, directly before the mention of Jesus’ sacrificial death, have emphasised the fact that God endowed Jesus with all the fulness of the God head. The whole of the Gospel of Jn. is an amplification of this briefly suggested thought, that in Jesus all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt on earth, as in heaven.

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