SOUL is not a suitable expression by which
to describe Him Who emptied Himself from the form of God. It is
true that He took the form of a slave, yet neither that form,
nor yet its associations, are the measure by which to view Him
in His tabernacling amongst Israel (John. 1:14). Another
expression must be used to indicate that this One, though coming
to be in the likeness of humanity, was still the Word of God, in
Whom was life (John. 1:4 , 1 John. 1:1-2).
Subsequently, the truth
concerning our Saviour comes to be that the entire complement of
the Deity is dwelling bodily in Him. And its delight is to dwell
in Him. His obedience has added lustre to that which hitherto
was glorious. Philosophy would despoil us. It cannot despoil
Him. Our completeness is in Him. The glory which was His, even
in His humiliation, should ever be contained in our faith and in
our comprehension. In His humiliation, He had His own capacity
whereby to glorify His God and Father. This needs to be, so that
He may faithfully and effectively use the further powers which
His Father placed in His hands for His ministry to Israel. We
perceive the glory of His own spirit from the constant repeating
of the word "straightway" to describe the character and the
quality of His service as the Ideal Servant of God. This we have
in Mark's account, where we are without genealogy or expression
as to this One Who is serving.
When the term "man" is used of
Him Who was born of Mary, it has not the mere features of
ordinary usage. It was due to His birth that He came to be in
the position when the term could be adapted and augmented for us
in reference to Him. As a Man, He was a vivifying spirit rather
than a living soul. This makes Him the spiritual Man, able to
glorify His Father by fullest obedience.
Into this One, born of Mary,
there is focussed His past fame and glory, yet emptied of the
form of God. Because He vacated the form of God, He was not
manifested to Israel as the Image of God, yet He was the only-
begotten God, unfolding His Father (John. 1:18). By His
humiliation He was to acquire glory, but the character of this
further glory was not an increase in Himself of intrinsic glory.
Rather did the acquired glory enable His prior glory to function
with new virtue, whereby He reconciles all to His Father. This
is a resultant glory: it removes from humanity's position before
God the unapproachability to Him, due to the entry of sin.
Because of this acquired glory, He becomes the First out of the
Christ's flesh was human, but
His spirit was divine, being a spirit of holiness. This is His
constitution in the days of His flesh. He spoke also of His soul
(notably in John. 10:15,17), yet, in His case, both flesh and
soul were subordinate to His spirit. This is the basis upon
which He is termed "a vivifying spirit." All these details
should ever be remembered of Him, whether we think of Him
walking in Israel, or when in the tomb awaiting the rousing and
vivifying by His Father, or even afterwards when He presents
Himself alive to the apostles whom He had previously chosen,
through Holy Spirit. Moreover, to these we need to add that,
prior to all such details, He existed in the form of God. His
vacating of the form of God did not sever Him from His Own self,
and His personality, when in the flesh, retained its celestial
During the period of the
adapting, we must realise that all was in the hands of His
Father. Then He was becoming a vivifying spirit. Yet, prior to
His becoming flesh, He was God's Son. This fact is retained in
the adapting of a body to Him by His Father. This is signified
by the word "spirit" in the expression "vivifying Spirit." In
this way He came to be full of grace and truth, as an
only-begotten from the Father, Whose glory the believer in
Israel gazed at (John. 1:14). In this way He became some bit
inferior to messengers. But the possibility around this "some
bit inferior" really gave added glory, via the suffering of
death which became possible for Him.
To require evidence, plain and
positive, that our Lord was a vivifying Spirit, when living and
walking in Israel, needs much discriminating care, for to what
feature shall we look in the records for that period for such a
subjective matter? We must not seek the proof in His rousing of
the dead during His ministry. What He was, in Himself, is more
prominently in point in His living before Israel as the obedient
Son of God, testifying concerning His Father. He speaks those
words which His Father gives Him to speak. Yet there were works
which He sees His Father doing, these He does in the power of
Holy Spirit, for they testify to His commissioning by His
Father. In His ministry He was also perfecting the works of His
Father (John. 4:34 - 5:36). It was at the finishing of the
works, given to Him by His Father (John. 17:4), that the virtue
of the glory resident in the Lord Jesus Himself comes into
fullest prominence. This finishing rested upon His personal
glory. It was accomplished (John. 19:30) when He gave up His
soul, committing His Spirit to His Father. And He did this
after His God had
His Own personal glory, that
is, what He was as God's Son, though complementing the works and
the words of His ministry, actually contributed the virtue to
His death. His obedience went right up to the point immediate to
His death, when He lets out His spirit, committing it to His
Father. That obedience not only faced the manner of death, but
it was engaged in whilst He was possessed of spirit which
constituted Him a vivifying Spirit. Moreover, as a vivifying
Spirit, He had the flawless quality which qualified Him to be
made the sin offering (2 Cor. 5:21).
God gave not the spirit by
measure to Him (John. 3:34), yet this plenitude of spirit speaks
of His commissioning by God. It is distinct from His personal
glory, and does not describe directly the worthiness of what our
Lord truly became in the adapting of a body to Him. His
obedience to death takes its true measure of glory when we see
Him as having life in Himself. Life in Himself, even as the
Father, is the expression which affords the virtue behind His
death. In giving up His soul, and letting out His spirit, He
gave Himself for us.
vivify needs close
attention in regard to its several usages. We must discover that
core of meaning which lies within the word, and is required by
every occurrence. This we shall find in the literal of the Greek
word (zoopoieo), that is, make live. The word is only a special
term in regard to a particular topic, and that is only as to
some instances. Even so, the implications of this usage call for
wisdom. For example, in a chapter discussing resurrection, there
are several instances when only the literal significance is the
point, for the context of such cases is the individual sentence.
In general, each context in
which the term occurs tends to shade the central meaning to suit
its own requirements. One instance may call for "make alive."
Thus, if the subject of the vivifying be actually dead, then
death is to be abolished, and the life bestowed is such that
there is no dying. If life is to be given to one already living,
then the dying process is changed into a process of living. The
word may even be used, not only of the spiritual life which
comes to the one believing the evangel, but in reference to the
present mortal body of the saint.
In the expression "vivifying
Spirit," we should not miss the point that this is a combination
of two words: hence it needs intent attention. Unless we
perceive the figure, we may get off on quite a wrong track. The
easier way is first to consider an expression which is familiar
to us. One such is "living soul." We are aware that the word
"soul" of this expression is a figure: the part is put for the
whole person. This is done in order to make prominent that the
sentient is a major matter in the living. In the second
expression, "vivifying spirit," we have the same figure in
regard to the word "spirit." This second word is again put for
the whole person. This stresses the spirit, and, related to the
word "vivifying," we learn the special value and character of
spirit in this instance. Considering thus, we perceive that each
expression, "living soul" and "vivifying spirit," refers to a
matter subjective to the one of whom it is written. Neither
expression, in its usage, states a value immediate to others.
Each expression is confined to the functioning of the
constitution of that particular person.
Though the fifteenth chapter
of first Corinthians is, in the main, considering the subject of
resurrection, and in particular, the rousing and vivifying of
our Lord, yet we should not be thinking that any term therein
loses its general value. In verse 45 we draw upon terms which
are facts outside any question of resurrection. "Living soul"
and "vivifying spirit" are used as evidence that there is a
soulish body and a spiritual body also. The first man, with the
soulish body, was out of the earth, soilish. Yet the second Man
is the Lord out of heaven. To say that He was Lord out of heaven
is not a mere ornate expression. It informs us that He was
celestial as to origin and character, and our valuing of Him
must accept this. Though few recognised Him as such, yet that
does not preclude Him from the evidence that there is a greater
glory than that of a living soul. The Lord had this greater
glory in His life, prior to His death.
That He was vivified out of
death cannot surely come into this quest for evidence. It is
excluded from such consideration, for we cannot infer that
because He was then vivified He was not, as to Himself in His
prior life, a vivifying Spirit. He was then vivified, not merely
that He should return of life, but as proof that His blood was
efficacious to justify. The fact that He was, in His life, a
vivifying Spirit does not have objective value to others until
after His own death: then similar life is available, first to
believers and ultimately to all.
Because of what He was in
life, He can also be termed the Inaugurator of life. All the
contrasts in First Corinthians fifteen, between Adam and Christ,
require that life be truly resident in the Lord Jesus prior to
His crucifixion. His rousing and vivifying does not add
intrinsic glory to Him, rather do they give Him back what He
possessed in life, and so enable us to speak of the glorious
blessings flowing to humanity. Thus the following verses are
very notable in the foregoing chapter:
||Resurrection comes to
humanity through a Man.
||This makes judging a
||In Christ all shall be
||This complements the
reconciliation of all.
||The last Adam became a
||This contrasts with the
first Adam, a living soul.
||The second Man is the
Lord out of heaven.
||The contrast is with the
first man out of the soil.
The first man transmits dying
to humanity, but the second Man transmits living to humanity in
due course. To do this, He must also bring righteousness.
The Lord Jesus parallels the
fact that the Father has life in Himself, by the fact that His
Father gives Him to be having life in Himself. It was in process
from His birth. It did not await His rousing and vivifying. Our
Lord voluntarily entered death, for He had that quality of
spirit and measure of life which was always vivifying in regard
to Himself. There was no process of dying to be dispelled in
Him. Born into humanity, He was to impart life to it, through
His death, and so change humans from sinners.
We create problems for
ourselves when we deplete the glory resident in Him, in His
living, in order to accommodate the descent of Holy Spirit upon
Him on the occasion of His baptism. This descent of Holy Spirit
must not in any way be confused with His being a vivifying
spirit, for that expression describes Him as to His Own self,
due to His possession of a spirit of holiness. That spirit was
completely His, as God's Son, and was under the control of His
Own will. That spirit He committed to His Father at the point of
One reason for the descent of
Holy Spirit upon Him at His baptism in water was to allow John
to perceive Who would be baptising in Holy Spirit (John. 1:33).
At this time He was also furnished for His ministry to Israel
(Luke. 4:18). A major aspect around the signs and miracles is
that they were done in Holy Spirit which descended on Him. They
were to show that His Father commissioned Him. The works He did
were given to Him of His Father (John. 5:20-23). The Son can be
doing nothing of Himself, if it is not what He should be
observing the Father doing.
There seems to be an
extraordinary intimacy and awareness in His spirit in relation
to the Holy Spirit, for, even when jostled by the crowd, He
straightway recognised and knew that power was come out of Him
(Mark. 5:30 - Luke. 8:46). It would appear to be that the works
He did rested upon His being equipped for His ministry by Holy
Spirit rather than on what He was in Himself (Matthew. 12:28).
Nevertheless, from this we must not draw any negative aspect
concerning His Own spirit, for, as we view matters closely, we
learn that both Father and Son were glorified in His works and
words. This is the detail where there is much stumbling. The
Lord unfolded the glory of His Father, yet also in Himself was
His own glory, silent and unobstrusive to a large degree.
To His disciples, speaking
concerning Lazarus, the Lord said: this infirmity is not to
death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God should be
glorified through it. Yet to Martha He said: you should be
seeing the glory of God. Is it not evident that we are viewing
the glory of both Father and Son in these matters? Notably, the
rousing of Lazarus became a crucial matter toward urging the
Chief Priest and Pharisees to encompass His death.
Earlier in His ministry the
daughter of Jairus and the widow's son had been roused. These
happenings agree with the Lord's message replying to John's
querying from prison: Art Thou the coming One? To this it was
said: The blind are receiving sight, and the lame are walking,
lepers are being cleansed, and deaf-mutes are hearing, and the
dead are being roused. All these details are affirming that He
is Messiah. They are signs of the impending eon. These rousings
of the dead do not come within the compass of the topic
discussed in First Corinthians fifteen.
But the Lord Jesus did speak
more pertinently to Martha concerning Himself. His utterances to
her are testimony as to His personal glory. In saying to Martha:
I am the Resurrection and the Life (John. 11:25), He made
reference to the glory innate to Himself. It differed from the
position related to His ministry, when He read from the
Scriptures: The spirit of the Lord is upon Me, on account of
which He anoints Me to bring the evangel to the poor (Luke.
4:18). However, we ought not to base our estimate of His
ministry wholly on one Scripture, even if it gives a major
aspect. Besides the reference to the spirit of God being upon
Him, we also have the position when He places an emphatic "I"
alongside what was said to the ancients.
Again, He is the only One to
use "Amen" to introduce His statements. Such features are
indicative as to what He was, beyond the mere external. Perhaps
to Martha, the Lord spoke privately. And yet it was hardly an
isolated case, for, to His disciples, He had said that His
Father gives Him to be having life in Himself. This, as also the
words to Martha, moves close to the statements concerning Him in
First Corinthians fifteen.
When He was in the form of
God, that form was not an outward indication of what He Himself
was. So is it of Him when in the flesh with the form of a slave,
the extrinsic veiled the intrinsic, and rarely was the latter
the subject of direct statement. But what is intimated ought to
leave us in no doubt that the glory of the Last Adam was far
above that of the first, for His glory became out of heaven.
In the closing hours before
His death, there came the point when He was alone, forsaken by
His Father. This truly was the averted face, and it had concrete
expression. Evidently the spirit of God was no longer with Him.
Then He is going forward in the virtue of His own spirit.
This is a most delicate
matter, and one's spiritual mind counsels the utmost caution in
deciding the point at which the forsaking by His God began to
ensue. Yet the forsaking did have definite reality. If we follow
Him to Gethsemane, perhaps we discern its beginning at His
praying: Father, if it is Thy intention, carry aside this cup
from Me. In the strength of His own spirit, He prefaced this by
the words, Abba, Father. And the conclusion issues to: Not My
will but Thine be done! And a messenger from heaven was seen by
Him strengthening Him. Does this messenger come because the
spirit of God is not now with Him, and His Father does not act
directly? It is the Son's Own spirit which is triumphant in
these closing and final hours. Then to the utmost degree does He
glorify His Father, right up to the point when, in a loud voice,
He said: Father, into Thy hands am I committing My spirit.
The question of immortality,
as spoken of in 1 Timothy 6:16, remains to be considered. Does
the statement that God alone has immortality preclude that the
Lord Jesus was, in His life before men, a vivifying Spirit? Such
a question may not be exactly pertinent in this form.
Nevertheless, we accept it because it has difficulty if pressed
as intimating the absolute exclusion from immortality of anyone
else at that time, that is, even in a dependent sense.
First, we note that the
statement occurs in a passage charging Timothy to keep a precept
unspotted and irreprehensible unto the Advent of our Lord,
Christ Jesus. To emphasise the character of the attention which
is to be given to the keeping of the charge, the passage
develops, as its basis, the fullest and most absolute aspect of
God's authority and glory. Then is appended the word, Amen!
Passages or statements ended by this word have, indeed, moved to
heights beyond human investigation, and, when closing the
resultant ascription with this word, Amen, inspiration affirms
and assents to what is said concerning God. In such cases
inspiration does not wait for the assent of our faith, but
intimates what we ought to do, that is, utter our approval.
Elsewhere we have learned that
humanity will yet put on incorruption and immortality. Such
information tells us that immortality can be possessed in a
dependent sense, because there is the One Who alone can bestow
it. To aid our enquiry, we ask: what difference is there between
immortality, possessed alone by God (1 Timothy. 6:16), and the
Father having life in Himself (John. 5:26)? Is not the
difference merely that one verse speaks of the full, exclusive
and underived glory of God, that glory which separates and
distinguishes every creature or servant into its own category
and status, whereas the other verse indicates the Father sharing
His dignity and glory with His Son?
If this be so, then we can
readily value the "thus also" of John. 5:26, and, along with it,
value the Son as the Father (John. 5:23), both in respect of
life and of immortality. Here again is an important detail which
we do well to put into effect, for it is the glory of the Father
and His Son. Let us avoid that emphasis, as well as that
analysis, which prevents an understanding either of Father or of
Son. The Son unfolds and reveals His Father's dignity and glory,
and, in doing so, He affirms the absoluteness of His Father, for
the Father is so absolute that He requires His Son to reveal
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