Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

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steve
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Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

Post by steve » Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:32 am

I received and responded to the following email today. I thought I would share it with you:
Hi Steve,

I was just enjoying your topical lecture on the Trinity. If I heard you right, you were saying you've never found a reference to Jesus being called the Son of God in the OT. Someone recently brought up Proverbs 30:4
Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son's name?
Surely you know!

Don’t know if that qualifies or not.

Brian

Hi Brian,

Proverbs 30:4 has often been seen by Christians as a reference to Christ, but the author is actually asking a series of rhetorical questions illustrating the limits of human competence (the repeated capitalization of "His" reflects the translator's bias). He asks the following questions about mankind:

—Who [i.e., among men] has ascended into heaven and descended?

—Who has gathered the wind in His fists?

—Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?

—Who has established all the ends of the earth?

The implied answer to each of these rhetorical questions is "nobody" (that is, no human being has done such great things).

The statement, "What is His name or His son's name? Surely you know!" means (with a touch of sarcasm), "If you know someone like this, I would love to be introduced to him! Heck, I'd be satisfied even just to meet his son!"

We know that God "has gathered the wind in His fists" and "has wrapped the waters in His garment" and "has established all the ends of the earth," but that is not what Agur is saying. The fact that he is not talking about God is seen in his reference to one "ascending into heaven" and "descending." We can look backward at Christ's descent and ascension (though in the wrong order vis-a-vis this statement) and think of this referring to Him. But that is not, in my opinion, what is being discussed in this passage.

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Homer
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Re: Is Jesus called God's "Son" prior to the incarnation?

Post by Homer » Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:15 am

Hi Steve,

Good job! Very interesting answer.

Homer

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Re: Is Jesus called God's "Son" prior to the incarnation?

Post by anochria » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:53 pm

Perhaps I'm not completely understanding the question- what would be proved or disproved by answering this? What's the significance of the question, in other words.

For instance, do hints and passages that could be seen as inferring or prefiguring the sonship of the Messiah count?

For instance, I see the repetetive phrase, "your son, your only son" in the account of Abraham offering up Isaac as a not-so-subtle hint of the Sonship of Christ.

Also, what about Psalm 2's "You are my Son, today I have become your Father" and "Kiss the Son"? I mean, sure the initial context is David, but the overlap between David and the Messiah is thick from the Old Testament on through the New, and Psalm 2 has messianic overtones. Hebrews 5:5 makes this clear enough:

5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father."
Pastor Josh Coles, Aletheia Christian Fellowship
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steve
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Re: Is Jesus called God's "Son" prior to the incarnation?

Post by steve » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:00 am

Hi Josh,

I don't know if anything important is at stake. It is just a matter of wanting to speak as accurately as the available information may permit me to. I first became curious about this question in debating a Jehovah's Witness in my home, over thirty years ago. He and I were both assuming the traditional understanding that Jesus, before His incarnation, was "begotten" of the Father, and was the preincarnate Son.

The Jehovah's Witness was arguing that, in order to hold that Jesus was "begotten," we must acknowledge that He had a beginning and was therefore not co-eternal with the Father. My position (parroting what I had always been taught) was that Jesus was "God the Son" prior to His incarnation, and that He was "begotten, not made" in eternity past—having no beginning and being co-eternal with the Father.

The JW challenged the logic of my assumptions, arguing (reasonably, as it seemed) that "begetting" requires a "beginning." Thus, to him, one could not acknowledge that Jesus was God's "Son" without postulating a time of His having been generated from a pre-existing Father—thus making Him less eternal than was the Father. I could not deny the man's logic, but I rejected his conclusions on the sheer assumption that the Bible insisted upon my position—logical or not.

After the conversation, I began to wonder whether I was actually defending a biblical point or merely a traditional one, and set out to find the affirmations in scripture that Jesus, prior to His birth in Bethlehem, was referred to as God's Son.

I knew immediately, of course, about Psalm 2:7, but it was evident that Paul, in Acts 13:33, said that this verse refers to the resurrection of Christ, not His pre-incarnate state. I knew about Isaiah 9:6 as well, but "a Son is given" follows the announcement that "a Child is born." It seemed at least possible that "a Child is born" speaks of the incarnation, and that "a Son is given" speaks of the crucifixion, which would again mean that it is not affirming a pre-incarnate sonship.

I knew that one of the clearest declarations of the deity of Christ in the New Testament, in speaking of His pre-incarnate status, did not call Him the "Son of God" but, rather, the "Word." I began to consider the possibility that Jesus, before His birth, was "the Word" who was also God, but that the title "Son of God" did not apply to Him until He was born of God through the womb of Mary. This postulate received initial confirmation from the announcement of the angel to Mary that her conception would be of God, not of man, and that "therefore, that Holy One who is to be born...shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The grammar seems to state that the reason Jesus bears this label is not because of His prior status in heaven, but because of the divine intervention in His conception. If I were to affirm this to be the case, I would be classed with one of the ancient "heretical" sects (I think it is the one called Sabellianism), so I leave the matter an open question.

I also believe as you do that the story of Abraham offering Isaac prefigures the offering of Christ, God's only Son. However, we know that this offering at Calvary took place after the incarnation. As the offering that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice was his only son, so also the offering which God offered was that of His only Son. The question that remains unanswered is whether or not that Son that God offered had also born the title and status of "Son" prior to His coming to earth, or whether it would be more accurate to speak of Him, at that time, as the "Word of God."

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Re: Is Jesus called God's "Son" prior to the incarnation?

Post by Paidion » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:39 pm

Concerning the passage in Proverbs 30, Agar said:
Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!
So Agar affirms that he is stupid, without understanding, and has not learned wisdom nor does he have knowledge of the Holy One. As I see it, the questions that follow are examples of things that the Holy One does, though Agar doesn't even know His name nor the name of His Son. So he is asking the person(s) whom he is addressing for His name, and for His son's name. For he says, "Surely you know!" --- Surely you who are much brighter and wiser than I, know!

Is Agar asking his questions seriously? Or is he being sarcastic?
Paidion

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steve
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Re: Is Jesus called God's "Son" prior to the incarnation?

Post by steve » Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:22 pm

Hi Paidion,

As I mentioned in my first post, I don't think these are questions about God. I think, perhaps, that Agur is addressing those who think they know something about God, which he (perhaps claiming to be more humble, or less pretentious, than they) admits that he does not know.

The basic idea, if I am correct, would be: "Neither you nor I really know that much about God, but I am at least humble enough not to pretend to know what others pretend to know."

The means by which he makes this point would be, first, by his open admission of his own incompetence to speak about the things of God; and second, by his series of rhetorical questions (and his sarcastic, "Surely YOU know!"), by which he points out that others, who do not admit their ignorance as freely as does he, really ought to do so, and should not think their theories about such things to be any better than his.

If this is his point, it would lead naturally to his next thought:

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
(vv.5-6)

The idea here would be: "Neither you nor I know enough about the things of God to speak with any real authority. However, whatever God has spoken about such things can certainly be trusted. Anything we might add to that is likely to be wrong, and to be the occasion of our own embarrassment when the truth is eventually known."

From that point, he mostly talks about his own modesty—e.g., his desire for a simple standard of living, admitting his own proneness to sin if tested with either unusual wealth or poverty (vv.7-9); his observation of how unjustifiably arrogant some people are (vv.12-13); and his enumeration of things that are "too wonderful" for him and that he does not understand (vv.18ff). Finally, he advises those who have foolishly exalted themselves to cover their mouths in shame (v.32).

It is this favorable contrasting of his own spiritual humility with the arrogant self-assurance of others that seems to dominate the chapter. It reminds me of a conversation I overheard between two Christian Bible students at our school, wherein one exclaimed, "I'm WAY more humble than YOU!" (I think he was deliberately being funny).

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Re: Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

Post by Paidion » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:17 pm

Greetings Steve,

I can see that yours is a possible interpretation.

As for the Logos of God being called "the Son of God" prior to His incarnation, do you have any comments on the verse to which Anochria alluded?
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. Psalms 2:12 NKJV
The second century Christian writers took it as a reference to the Son of God.
Paidion

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Re: Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

Post by Singalphile » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:56 pm

steve wrote:I began to consider the possibility that Jesus, before His birth, was "the Word" who was also God, but that the title "Son of God" did not apply to Him until He was born of God through the womb of Mary."
If that is the case, would it follow that the title of "the Father" didn't apply to the Father until "the Son" was born through the womb of Mary?
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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Re: Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

Post by Homer » Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:31 pm

Singalphile,

You wrote:
If that is the case, would it follow that the title of "the Father" didn't apply to the Father until "the Son" was born through the womb of Mary?
But that would depend on what is meant by "father". When we hear George Washington is "the father" of our country we recognize the word is used in other than a literal sense.

Likewise God has since creation been a Father. And consider this sense:

Isaiah 63:16 (NASB)

For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us
And Israel does not recognize us.
You, O Lord, are our Father,
Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.


And I just noticed something. The Father is our redeemer and so is the Son. Do we have two redeemers or one?

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Re: Proverbs 30, and Jesus' pre-incarnate "sonship"

Post by 3Resurrections » Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:38 am

Referring to Anochria's and Paidion's older comments above concerning Psalms 2:12, "Kiss the Son…" was a directive given to the "kings" in Ps. 2:10. "Be wise, now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed ye judges of the earth". These "kings" and "judges of the earth" are the same "kings of the earth" mentioned just before in Ps. 2:2, who were prophesied to rise up against Christ at His trial and crucifixion. In other words, Ps. 2:10's "kings" are the high priest rulers of the land of Israel, who were being prophetically warned to give a kiss of homage and submission to the Son of God after His resurrection, or they were destined to perish.

One example of this peculiar phrase of a kiss being equal to an expression of obedient submission is found in the Hebrew for Genesis 41:40. The Pulpit Commentary gives Pharaoh's promise to Joseph, "...According to thy word shall all my people be ruled..." as reading in the Hebrew, "Thy mouth shall all my people kiss." This was just another way of saying that, to save the Egyptians from the 7-year famine, the entire nation was going to be willingly submissive to Joseph's delegated authority.

Another example of this type of language is found in Proverbs 24:23-26. A "kiss" of homage was to be given to a judge who passed down just and equitable decisions. "These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer."

Jesus had a reputation for being no respecter of persons, even by His enemies' estimation (Luke 20:21). He always "judged righteous judgment", and not by appearances. The rulers, or high priest "kings of the earth" who either knowingly or ignorantly put Jesus to death (Acts 3:17) were prophetically being warned in Psalms 2:10-12 to "kiss the Son", acknowledging the ultimate high priesthood of Jesus who had all judgment committed unto Him by the Father, because He was the Son of Man (John 5:22-27). If they refused to bend in submission to Jesus' superior high priesthood and "kiss the Son" who had been resurrected and had ascended, these high priests would end up perishing by the end of that generation in the "days of vengeance" that were the AD 70 era's tribulation period.

Many priests DID heed this warning in Psalms 2:10-12, as we are told in Acts 6:7. "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." For those priests of the first-century generation who did obey the directive to "kiss the Son", Psalms 2:12 foretold a blessing: "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." For those first-century "kings of the earth" (the high priests) that did NOT heed this warning, their fate of perishing was equally certain.

Anochria's point was correct, that Hebrews 5:5 was clear enough when it interprets the messianic overtones of Psalms 2. God Himself gave to Christ the glory of a deathless high priesthood that day of His resurrection and ascension. That very day was the day Christ was "begotten" by His Father. Something was "birthed" on that day that had never existed before from eternity past until then: the bodily-resurrected Son of Man with that glorified human form was brought near before the Ancient of Days in heaven, and received a crown of the high priesthood of God's kingdom, based on the deathless order of Melchizedek. No other individual ever has or ever will be able to share that title of "The First-begotten", which was given exclusively to Christ on the day He was resurrected and ascended to heaven for the first time - the first of many brethren. This "begotten" status described an event that was totally separate from The Word becoming flesh incarnate.

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