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ideas of the Messiah ? The explanation may be
sought in two directions.

(3) The historic Jesus. The attitude is due,
firstly, to the impression made on the disciples by
the historic Jesus. He had never attempted to
demonstrate the claim which He made. But they
had tacitly admitted its validity. He had claimed
to stand in a universal and at the same time unique
relation to men ; He had postulated that their atti-
tude to Himself was the determining factor in
life both present and future. He had demanded
for Himself and for His cause an allegiance which
outweighed the claims of any other relationship.
And He made known to them in Himself such a
character, such a .personality, that these claims,
stupendous as they were, seemed reasonable, and
were, indeed, admitted and acted upon ' Lord, we
have left all and followed thee.' And the very
failure on the part of these same men to grasp the
inmost significance of His message and His life
enhances their witness to the moral pressure they
experienced, leading them to submit even where
they imperfectly understood. When St. Peter
made what is called the great confession, 'Thou
art the Christ,' he was doubtless seeking to crys-



tallize the total impression into a categorical form.
But the form itself was not adequate. To acknow-
ledge Jesus as the Messiah was to assign to Him
the highest rank and dignity within the intellect-
ual range of the apostles. But the motives which
led to the confession, the attitude and personal
relation which lay behind it, found only incomplete
expression in the recognition of Him as the Messiah.
Jesus had done what no one had ever conceived
of the Messiah doing. He had touched the inner
springs of their life. He had deepened indefinitely
their apprehension of essential things, the joy of
life as lived by those who have a Father in God,
the sorrow that springs from the fact of human
alienation from that Father. According to the
measure of their capacity He revealed to them the
Father, and it was oy leading them to know Him-
self. And so, for those who attached themselves
to Him, Jesus became Messiah and more. And as
the conviction that He was Messiah was revived by
the Resurrection from the death-blow which it re-
ceived through the Crucifixion, so the experience
of ' the more ' was also latent in the consciousness
of the disciples, waiting to be quickened by a
corresponding event, and developed by a future
experience.

(4) Pentecost. That event which corresponded
to the Resurrection, and displays itself as the
second moving cause of the attitude to Christ
which we find taken up by the infant Church, was
the experience of Pentecost, described as the out-
pouring of the Holy Spirit. Fundamental as the
Resurrection was, it did not stand alone as a basal
fact on which the faith and life of the young Church
were built ; nor is it possible to explain Avhat fol-
lowed in the development of life or thought from
the Resurrection by itself. That was succeeded
after a short interval by Pentecost and the indue-
ment with spiritual power of those who believed in
Jesus as the glorified Messiah. To the fact of the
Resurrection was added the experience of a Spirit-
filled life ; and quite apart from any questions as
to the form in which this experience manifested
itself, it is to this highly intensified and concen-
trated perception of God's activity in the lives and
wills of those who submit themselves to Him in
Jesus Christ, working on the complex of facts il-
luminated by the Resurrection, that the unfolding
of systematic Christian thinking is due. As to the
narrative of Pentecost itself, it was only natural,
in view of the character of the phenomena, that
tradition should seize on the externally marvellous
and enhance it, to the obscuring of the really sig-
nificant. And in particular the tradition as it
reached St. Luke was so shaped either before him
or by him that the central feature in the account
(2 6 " 11 ), the declaration by men of many different
nationalities, 'we do hear them speaking in our
tongues the mighty works of God,' differs from
every other item of evidence as to the meaning of
the glossolalia or ' speaking with tongues.' That
this phenomenon, the speaking with ' new ' or
strange tongues, was a familiar one in the first gen-
eration of Christians, we know from St. Paul's
Epistles ; that the first manifestation of it is what
St. Luke is describing we may be sure ; but inas-
much as a marked characteristic of glossolalia in
all other contexts is incomprehensibility and the
necessity for interpretation, we may take it that
on the first occasion also the phenomenon was that
of ecstatic speech, not comprehended by the hearers
except in the sense that, being infected by the like
enthusiasm, they felt themselves in mental com-
munication with the speakers, though they did not
understand their words. The essential thing is that
something occurred of a public and striking descrip-
tion which not only called for explanation, but
justified St. Peter in seeing in the experience



184 CHEIST, CHEISTOLOGY



CHRIST, CHKISTOLOGY



shared by him and so many others the fulfilment
of Christ's words about ' the promise of the Father'
(I 4 ; cf. Lk 24 4fl , Gal 3 14 ).

The fulfilment of this promise became the second
moment in the development of a deeper and richer
Christology. On the one hand, it involved, and so
revealed, a relation between God and ' His Christ '
of a different quality from what had hitherto been
recognized. That relation had been conceived as
something due to positive choice, as external,
official ; and the Spirit was bestowed on Jesus as
part of His Messianic equipment. The Christian
experience of Christ sets up a process at the end of
which we find St. Paul boldly identifying Christ
and the Spirit, and the writer of the Fourth Gospel
interpreting the parting words of Jesus in terms of
that identification. And the effect of this identi-
fication on the Christology is to provide an explana-
tion of the attitude of believers to the Risen Lord
in their recognizing Him as united to God in a re-
lation which was not official but inherent, not
mediated in time but eternal and unchangeable.
And once more the stage in this process which we
find reflected in the Acts is the intermediate one.
The glorified Messiah is no longer the subject of
the Spirit's influence (as in the Synoptic Gospels),
nor is He as yet identified with it ; but he is the
instrument and channel of the Spirit's bestowal.
That bestowal is conditioned by faith in Him (2 s8 ),
by obedience to Him (5 32 ). On the other hand, the
bestowal of the Spirit, which was afterwards recog-
nized and described as 'the Spirit of unity and
brotherly love,' involved and revealed a new re-
lationship between all those who received the gift
from Christ. That is the real meaning of Pentecost
so far as it has been identified with the birth of the
Church. We are told of the 3000 souls that were
added to the infant community that they were
steadfastly adhering to the teaching of the apostles,
and to the fellowship (icoivuvia), the breaking of
bread, and the prayer (2 42 ). We have here a new
word for a new thing, the new consciousness of
sacred union connecting the believers, knitting
them together in what St. Paul afterwards called
the Body of Christ. Hort ( Christian Ecclesia, 1897,
p. 44) understands by Koivwia here 'conduct ex-
pressive of and resulting from the strong sense of
fellowship with the other members of the brother-
hood.' Pentecost ha4 for its most striking result
the creation of the sense of brotherhood within a
body of men and women \vhose common bond was
not only a common allegiance to Christ, but com-
mon participation in His Spirit. No doubt the
extreme form which the principle at first assumed
community of goods proved unworkable, and
was of temporary duration ; but underlying it we
see a whole series of new ethical ideals in opera-
tion mutual service, mutual self-sacrifice, the
merging of the individual in the corporate whole,
' love of the brethren' as a governing motive of the
new life.

And with the consciousness of a new binding
fellowship created by Christ, there came a new
conscience. The new relations involved new re-
sponsibilities, the possibility of new offences, new
sins. The earliest case of sin which is recorded
within the new community was in fact sin against
the community itself and the principle of brother-
hood ; and it was recognized and dealt with as sin
against the Holy Ghost.

These ethical consequences of the bestowal of
the Spirit which was traced to the action of the
Risen Christ had far-reaching results not only in
the life but in the thought of the Church. Par-
ticipation in the Spirit was the privilege, as it
was the mark, of every true Christian. The act
of believing on Jesus, the surrender to Him which
found symbolic expression in baptism, was followed



by a great religious experience, the effect of which
was manifold. Incorporated in a community which
had died to earthly ambition, whether personal or
national, and which was permeated with a holy
enthusiasm towards Him who was felt to be the
source of its life, and with genuine love to ' all the
brethren,' the individual became conscious of a new
'life,' ethical and religious; and he saw in Jesus
the Christ, the Founder and Pioneer of that life.
Conscious that it was as moved by the proclama-
tion of that Messiah crucified but risen that he,
repenting and turning to God, had found peace of
conscience, deliverance from fear of the wrath, he
hailed in Christ a (rwrijp, and connected Him with
the great experience of d0e<ris rdv dfj-apnlav. The
connexions and implications of these experiences
and convictions were still undeveloped. But the
motive power and the material for the development
were there. The influence of the Spirit realized
from day to day alike in the individual and in the
corporate life, and in the inter-action of the two,
meant that not only were the disciples secure of
salvation in the future ; they had it now. The
Kingdom was theirs in both senses. It belonged
to them as an inheritance ; it was already in their
possession. They were on the way to St. Paul's
great discovery, ' The kingdom of heaven consists
in ... righteousness, and peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost' (Ro 14 17 ). And to Him, to whom
they traced the bestowal of the best they had ever
been led to hope for from God, and also the revela-
tion and bestowal of gifts such as ' had not entered
into the heart of man to conceive,' they lifted their
hearts as hitherto they had done only to God
Himself.

II. THE CHRISTOLOGY OF THE SUB-PRIMITIVE
COMMUNITY. The records, scanty though they
are, thus provide sufficient evidence to show that
most, if not all, of the chief elements in later
Christology were already present, at least in germ,
within the consciousness of the primitive com-
munity. From the year A.D. 50 or thereabouts
we are able to trace the development of these
elements in Epistles from various hands. But the
lines of development are not continuous. Although
there are doubtless lines of cross-connexion, e.g.
between St. Paul and St. Peter, between St. Paul
and the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is more in ac-
cordance with the historical situation to regard
them as radiating from the common centre of
primitive thought. Arranging these lines in the
order of James, the Apocalypse, Peter, Paul,
Hebrews, John, we find an increasing ni asure,
not of divergence from the primitive type, but of
originality and penetration in the analysis of the
convictions which were common to them all. Some
at least of these lines appear to be focused again
in the Fourth Gospel, along with some which turn
back independently to the original base.

A broad comparison between these various types
of Christian thought which may be described as
sub-primitive shows that the characteristic which
distinguishes the Pauline from all the other types
is not primarily a distinction in respect of doctrine
in general or of Christology in particular. It is a
distinction in the aspects of religious experience
which are respectively emphasized. In neither
case is the emphasis an exclusive one ; that is to
say, it must not be taken as excluding the aspect
which is not emphasized. But, while for St.
Paul the dominating interest in Christological
reflexion lies in the explanation of, and preparation
for, the ethical union between believers and their
Lord, for St. Peter and the others Christological
reflexion runs on more concrete lines, developing
the thought of Christ as external to men, as
Preacher of Righteousness, as Example, as Priest,
as Authority. Ultimately the distinction depends



CHRIST, CHEISTOLOGY



CHEIST, CHRISTOLOGY 185



upon the place assigned by St. Paul to the irvev/j,a
and to the category of irvev/u-aTiKos. This subtle
but indubitable difference of atmosphere has to be
steadily borne in mind. To it may be due not a
few apparent divergences of expression, while on
the other hand apparent correspondences of lan-
guage may represent real distinction of thought.

1. The Epistle of James. It is hardly possible
to speak of the Christology of an Epistle in which
the word Xpioro's occurs only twice (I 1 2 1 ). But it
is to be noted that in both places the writer gives
the full title TOV Kuptou THAW 'lyeou X/XCTTOI;, that in
I 1 he presents himself as in the same sense SoOXos
of God and of Christ, and that in 2 1 he adds to the
title the striking appellation rrjs do^-rjs (so Mayor,
adloc., following Bengel). To this there may be
a parallel in 2 P I 17 (cf. also Col I 27 , Ro 9 4 , Jn I 14 ) ;
and in view of the prevailingly Judaic tone of the
Epistle there may be an allusion to Christ as the
Shekinah (cf. 1 S 4 22 , Ps 78 61 ). In 2 7 (p\a<T<t>r,(j.ovffiv
rb Ka\6v 6vo/j.a rb iriK\t)Qv <fi VJMS) there is probably
a reference to the name of Christ as used in bap-
tism (cf. Ac 2 s8 ), and in 5 14 , whether TOV xvpiov
should stand in the text or not, a reference to the
same name as the secret of prevailing prayer. If
we add 5 8 , ' The Parousia of the Lord is at hand,'
and couple with it the phrase in the following
verse, ' Behold, the Judge is at the door,' we have
probably exhausted the references to Christ. But
the fact that the writer in the same context and
frequently elsewhere puts Kvpios = Qe6$ must be
allowed due weight, and similarly it is to be noted
how in 5 8 the ' Second Coming ' is equated with
the old object of expectation, the Kingdom of
God.

The Christology which is suggested rather than
defined in the Epistle is lacking in several of the
details which appear even in that of the primitive
community, most notably perhaps in all reference
to the Holy Spirit; but it is wholly consistent
with it, and the inadequacy of its expression is
probably due rather to the character of the docu-
ment than to any defect in the writer's views as
compared with those, e.g., of St. Peter.

2. The Apocalypse of John. It is best to con-
sider the Apocalypse of John at this point, be-
cause its Christology also represents the Chris-
tology of the primitive community, not developed
by intellectual analysis, or even through the
interpretation of Christian experience, but ex-
panded through the emotional magnification of the
heavenly Christ. In no book in the NT do devo-
tion to, and adoration of, Christ, and recognition
of His participation in the glory and authority of
the Father, find such copious, such exalted, ex-
pression. Yet the forms in which this expression
is cast are for the most part not original. On a
much larger scale than by the primitive community,
so far as our records show, the OT has been laid
under contribution ; so also has the literature of
the Interval. Attributes and functions, descrip-
tions and imagery which had played their part in
setting forth the majesty and the Almighty power
of God, are gathered from all available sources and
attached to the Person of the heavenly Christ.

Characteristic of the whole book is the repre-
sentation of Christ in the opening vision (I 1 **-),
where He appears as the ' one like unto a son of
man ' of the Danielic vision, but the details of His
appearance are some of those which in that earlier
scene are attributed to the 'Ancient of Days.'
Divine titles are ascribed to Him, as ' Lord of
lords, and King of kings' (17 14 19 16 ), and Divine
functions, in the searching of heart and reins (2 ;
cf. Ps 7 9 ), and a share both in the throne of God
(22 l 'the throne of God and of the Lamb') and in
the worship paid to God, even the worship paid by
angels (5 11 ). He holds the keys of Hades and of



death (I 18 ), which according to Jewish tradition
was one of the prerogatives of the Almighty. It
is before His wrath that men are to tremble in the
Day of Judgment (6 16 - I7 ), and He is to come again
in power and glory to judge the world and to save
His people (I 7 14*** 22 20 ). The throne on which
He has taken His place is His Father's throne (3 21 ),
and to Him He stands in a relation of unique son-
ship (I 6 ), while at the same time it is from His
Father that He receives His power (2 s7 ), and He
is made to speak of Him as ' my God ' (3- 12 ).

This antithetical emphasis upon the Divine honour
and dignity assigned to Christ and the ideas of
humility, submission, and suffering which are also
connected with Him are vividly brought out by
the fact that it is under the title of ' the Lamb '
that many of the highest prerogatives are assigned
to Him. This is indeed the most characteristic
appellation in the book, and occurs some 28 times.
He is ' the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
world' (13 s ), and even now appears as one 'that
has been slain ' (5 6 - 12 ) ; but it is also as Lamb that
He receives the worship of Heaven (5 11 - 14 ), that He
takes His place by the side of God, and opens the
seals of the Book of Destiny. It is ' in the blood
of the Lamb ' that the saints have ' washed their
robes and made them clean' (7 14 22 14 ), or, by
another figure, it is with His blood that He has
purchased unto God (ayopafeiv ; cf. Gal 3 13 ) ' men of
every tribe ' and nation (5 9 ; cf. 14 s - 4 ). On the
other hand, the name ' which no one knoweth but
he himself,' 'Word of God' (6 \6yos TOV 6eov, 19 12 ),
is not further applied or expanded, and, though it
may mark a line of connexion between the Apoca-
lypse and the Fourth Gospel, it cannot be said to
throw any clear light on the Christology of this
book.

There is a class of passages which appears to
claim for Christ a life co-eternal with that of God.
' I am the first and the last and the living One ' 6
fujj (1". is). i am the Alpha and Omega, the first
and the last, the beginning and the end ' (22 13 ; cf.
21 6 ) ; with which must be compared Is 44 6 , where
Jahweh says, 'I am the first and the last, and
beside me there is no God,' and Rev I 8 , where
the same majestic self -description is ascribed to the
Almighty. Such language may well seem to imply
the pre-existence of Christ ; yet the predicate in
that form is probably to be regarded rather as a
necessary inference from the language of the
writer, who carries the equating of Christ with
God to the furthest point short of making Them
eternally equal. Christ is still ' the beginning of
the creation of God ' (ij apxy TTJS KTlveus TOV 6eov, 3 14 ),
by which is probably to be understood (cf. Col ] 18
dpXJl, irpwroTOKOs TWV veitpwv ; also Col I 13 ) that He
Himself was part of the Krlais.

The Apocalypse of John as a whole leaves the
impression of a conception of Christ so exalted, so
majestical in the history of mankind, that it could
not be carried further without either impinging
on the writer's monotheism or demanding the em-
ployment of metaphysical categories which were
beyond his range of thought. It has been main-
tained by some (e.g. Bousset) that in the descrip-
tion of Christ as Alpha and Omega the writer
goes beyond St. Paul, and actually represents the
furthest point in the development of Christology
within the NT. B. Weiss says that ' the fact that
the Messiah is an originally divine Being (gottliches
Weseri) is taken for gran ted' (Bib. Theol. of NT, Eng.
tr., 1882-83, vol. ii. p. 172). But it may be doubted
whether this outgoing of St. Paul by the Apocalypse
is not more apparent than real. The impression is
due partly to the continuous occupation of the
author's mind with the same theme. Christ is the
Hero of every scene in the drama of the end. There
is none of that wide sweep of interest in things



186 CHEIST, CHRISTOLOGY



CHEIST, CHRISTOLOGY



both human and Divine which marks the letters of
St. Paul. It is due also in part to the natural ten-
dency of the modern reader to accept as evidence
of a theory or conception of Christ's Person what
for the author was only concrete imagery gathered
from many sources to set forth and enhance the
glory of his Lord. It may indeed be doubted whether
he held any proposition regarding Christ which was
not included in the convictions of the primitive
community. All that he has to say was involved
in the tacit assertion that Christ is an object of
worship and a hearer of prayer. And with all the
Divine honours and attributes which he lavishes on
the Glorified Messiah he never loses sight of His
identity with the man Jesiis. After the title ' the
Lamb ' he uses with most frequency the simple
name ' Jesus ' (nine times). The phenomenon was
so noticeable that in several passages inferior MSS
have inserted the word ' Christ,' which copyists
felt to be missing. It was ' for the testimony of
Jesus ' that John was in Patmos (I 9 ; cf. 12 17 19 10 ) ;
it was with the blood of ' the martyrs (or witnesses)
of Jesus ' that Rome was intoxicated ; and in 22 16
the heavenly Christ speaks of Himself by this
human name ' I Jesus have sent my messenger,'
while the response to the message with which the
book closes addresses the Risen Christ in the same
form, reminiscent of ' the days of his flesh ' ' Even
so, come, Lord Jesus.' The Apocalypse, therefore,
is no exception to the rule that, so far from being
accompanied by a loosening of the tie between
Christ and the historical Jesus, the increasing em-
phasis on His Divine significance for the world goes
along with the same or even clearer assertion of
the oneness of Jesus and the Christ. The Christ
they worshipped was the Jesus whom they had
known.

3. The Christology of St. Paul. The material for
Christology which was already present in the con-
sciousness of the primitive community, or within
its grasp, received its fullest and richest develop-
ment at the hands of St. Paul. The task of the
student is to do equal justice to what he received
from, and shared with, those who were before him
in Christ, and to those elements which were original
with him. This will supply the right answer to a
question which has become a living issue for modern
Christology Is the Pauline Christology a legiti-
mate and necessary development of the relevant
material provided by the contents of the Gospels
and the experience of the Church, or does it repre-
sent a new departure, a conception of Christ so
distinct from, and disparate to, what had gone be-
fore, that it must be held to rest not on the revela-
tion of Jesus, but on the speculation of the Apostle ?
There has been for some time a tendency in one
school of NT criticism to exaggerate beyond all
reason the distinction between Christianity accord-
ing to the Gospels and Christianity according to
St. Paul, and to do so by minimizing or eliminat-
ing what is ' Pauline ' in the Gospels and by over-
emphasizing the ' Pauline ' elements in St. Paul.
Whatever is distinctive in St. Paul his 'calvin-
ism,' his ' sacramentarianism,' his ' mysticism,' his
' eschatology ' isaptto beisolated and exaggerated,
with the result, if not the intention, of differentiat-
ing him more emphatically from his Master. It
needs to be borne in mind that we are working
here in a highly charged electric field, where men
of all schools of thought are in danger of being
swayed even unconsciously by a general prceiudi-
cium.

In examining the evidence as to St. Paul's con-
ception of Christ, certain general considerations
have to be kept in view. It is now commonly
agreed that it is a mistake to regard St. Paul as
one who was constructing or had constructed a
system of dogmatic theology. We are probably



nearer the truth if we think of him as a man
supremely interested in the practical conduct of
life, whose mind was speculative in the sense that



Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 60 of 234)