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The Lord Is A Man
The Lord is a Man of war; The Lord is His name.
יְהוָה אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה יְהוָה שְׁמוֹ
Contrary to popular opinion within the false Christian world (2 Timothy 3:1-5 & 4:3), God is a Man, as Exodus 15:3 plainly declares. Not corruptible (Romans 1:23; 1 Corinthians 15:50), not created (Psalm 90:2), not a man who progressed and "achieved his exalted rank" as Mormons teach (see our report on Mormonism). But nonetheless, the Lord is a Man. He is a Man of war.
I. God Appears As A Man
False christians often describe it as "anthropomorphism" (attribution of human qualities to nonhumans). Nevertheless, despite their unbelief, several times over God appears in literal human form, as Himself, a Man, in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 3:8; 18:1-19:1; 32:22-30/Hosea 12:3-5; Judges 13:2-23). He explicitly calls Himself a Man (אִישׁ ['iysh], e.g. Genesis 32:24; Joshua 5:13; Zechariah 6:12/Jeremiah 23:5-6), is called by others a Man (e.g. Judges 13:6, 8, 10-11), and in Judges 13:11 the Lord specifically confirms He is the Man (הָאִיש).
So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, "Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?" And He said, "I am." (see also Judges 13:22-23)
In Joshua 5:13-15 the Lord appears to Joshua exactly as Exodus 15:3 says, as a literal Man of war.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" Then the Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
In this passage, Joshua is found worshiping a Man (Joshua 5:14). As the Scripture says, "a Man stood opposite him . . . And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped." Matthew 4:10 says, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." Joshua in no way breached this command, because the Man he worshiped was the Lord God. This is clear by what is said in verse 15; "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy" (compare verse 15 with Exodus 3:5). Also, the verses following are the words of the Lord, Yehvah (יְהוָה), speaking to Joshua (Joshua 6:2).
II. Two Men?
Scripture teaches that the Son of God is a Man, both before the incarnation (Zechariah 6:12; 13:7; John 6:62; 1 Corinthians 15:47; Hebrews 13:8), and after (Acts 7:56; 13:38; Romans 5:15; Hebrews 2:17; 10:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). He is also God (Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 8:58; 1 John 5:20). So, in Jesus Christ we see the truth of Exodus 15:3. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is a Man of war (Revelation 19:11-21).
What about the Father? Is He a Man? Is He a Man of war? Yes indeed (Exodus 15:3). Jesus said, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30; 14:7-11).
The Hebrew word for "Lord" in Exodus 15:3 is יְהוָה (Yehvâh, according to modern Hebrew pronunciation), often referred to as "Yahweh" according to what is thought to be ancient Hebrew pronunciation. The KJV transliterates יְהוָה (Yehvâh) in a few texts as "Jehovah" (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4). It is usually translated, "the LORD" (e.g. KJV, NKJV, NAS, NIV).
יְהוָה (Yehvâh) is God's name. Exodus 15:3 plainly declares this: "The Lord [יְהוָה] is His name" (see also Isaiah 42:8). God's name, יְהוָה (Yehvâh), is used of God the Father. This is manifested in Psalm 2:7.
I will declare the decree: The Lord [יְהוָה] has said to Me, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." (see also Psalm 110:1, 4; Hebrews 1:1-2,13; 5:5-6)
When Exodus 15:3 says, "The Lord [יְהוָה] is a Man of war" this refers to the Father being a Man, a Man of war. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, the Lord God is called "the Lord of hosts" (e.g. Isaiah 47:4; 48:2; 51:15; 54:5; Jeremiah 10:16; 31:35; 32:18; 33:2; 46:18; 48:15; 50:34; 51:19, 57; Hosea 12:5; Amos 4:13; 5:8,27; 9:6). The term here "hosts" is the Hebrew word צְבָאוֹת (tsevâ'ot) for "armies" (e.g. 1 Kings 2:5; Psalm 68:12). Therefore, the Lord is the Lord of armies. Thus, the Father, who is God (Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2), who is "the Lord [יְהוָה] of hosts," is a Man, a Man of war!
Furthermore, the Son is also referred to as יְהוָה (Yehvâh). See Isaiah 66:15-16; John 5:22; Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:17-18. Exodus 15:3, speaking of God, speaks of the very nature of both the Father and the Son (Colossians 2:2).
Therefore, if Christ is a Man (1 Timothy 2:5; Exodus 15:3), and the Father is a Man (Exodus 15:3), are there two Men in the Godhead? Yes, note Jesus' statement in John 8:17-18.
It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.
Jesus gives the Jews the testimony of "two men" (δυο ανθρωπων). Who are these two men? They are the Son and His Father.
Are these "two men" in the Godhead seen elsewhere in Scripture? Yes they are.
I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; (Daniel 7:9)
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14; For a similar scene, see also Revelation 4 & 5; and Matthew 22:44; Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55-56; and Hebrews 1:13 for Christ sitting, or standing, at the "right hand" of God.)
Daniel 7:7-14 describes God the Father as the "Ancient of Days," seated on a throne. Here the Father gives the Son of Man (Christ) dominion and glory and a kingdom, as John the Baptist said the Father had done.
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. (John 3:35)
Here in Daniel 7, the Father and the Son are seen as two immortal Men. They are not created men (Psalm 90:2; John 1:3). They are, and have always been (Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), unlike our corruptible flesh, infinitely exalted immortal Men; and They are God, as Abraham said,
when God caused [הִתְעוּ (hit`u), literally, "they caused"] me to wander (Genesis 20:13).
In Genesis 1:26-27 we read:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
From these words it is manifest that there are more than one in the Godhead ("Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"). What "image" and "likeness" was created? The image and likeness of a Man, that is, the "image" and "likeness" of two Men ("Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"). Note also the context in which Genesis 1:26-27 is written. It is very physical.
Some may readily accept that the Son of God is a Man (1 Timothy 2:5), but when it comes to the Father being a Man, people may not be so willing to believe this. But, when one accepts the manhood of Christ, one is Biblically forced to accept the manhood of the Father; because Christ is the "express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9; see also John 12:45). When people looked at Christ, what did they see? They saw a man. God the Father, a man (Exodus 15:3), begot God the Son (John 1:18; 3:16), a man (1 Timothy 2:5).
In addition, the Son of God is "the Son of Man." Every time this term, "the Son of Man," is used in Scripture in reference to Christ it is literally "the Son of the Man" (e.g. Matthew 8:20, ο υιος του ανθρωπου [ho huios tou anthrôpou]). The only exception to this is found in John 5:27 in which there are no definite articles. It simply reads, υιος ανθρωπου (huios anthrôpou), "son of man." It makes sense Christ does not use the definite articles in John 5:27, because His point is that he is a son of man. In other words, He is human, a son of mankind. This is why the Father "has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is son of man" (John 5:27, my translation).
Therefore, this term, "the Son of the Man," is quite significant. "The Man" clearly refers to the Father, the Man who begot the Son (Psalm 2:7), and thus unmistakenly refers to the Father as a Man, the Man. This Greek construction of "the Son of the Man" parallels the Greek construction found in 2 John 3 where it refers to Christ as "the Son of the Father," του υιου του πατρος (tou huiou tou patros). The gospels call Him, "the Son of the Man." 2 John 3 calls Him, "the Son of the Father." They all speak of the same Man, the Father.
Furthermore, Christ is also the Son of a created man, David (Matthew 1:1, υιου δαβιδ), but the Greek construction in the New Testament is not the same as it is for "the Son of the Man" when referring to Christ being David's Son. It is always "Son of David" or "the Son of David" without the second article before David. For example, Matthew 9:27 has υιος δαβιδ (huios dabid) "Son of David," and Matthew 12:23 has ο υιος δαβιδ (ho huios dabid) "the Son of David." See also Matthew 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; Mark 10:47-48; 12:35; Luke 18:38-39; 20:41.
The only exceptions to this are found in Matthew 22:42 and Revelation 22:16. In Matthew 22:42 the article is before "David," but it is only the article and David, του δαβιδ (tou dabid) "the David." The term "Son" is not there in the Greek (see likewise Luke 3:23-38). In Revelation 22:16 the Received Text has the article before David in the term, "the Offspring of the David" (το γενος του δαβιδ [to genos tou dabid]). The Critical Text and Majority Text read, το γενος δαβιδ (to genos dabid) "the Offspring of David."
Also found in the Received Text regarding Christ and David is Revelation 3:7 in which Christ says that He has "the key of the David," την κλειδα του δαβιδ (tên kleida tou dabid). Majority Text reads, την κλειν του δαβιδ (tên klein tou dabid) "the key of the David." Critical Text reads, την κλειν δαβιδ (tên klein dabid) "the key of David."1
Now, even though Christ is indeed of David's seed (Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8, σπερματος δαβιδ), being David's offspring, Christ is also David's Root (Revelation 5:5 η ριζα δαβιδ [hê hriza dabid]; 22:16) and Lord (Matthew 22:42-45).
III. Distinctions Between The Father and The Son
Some may argue against the above by seeing little to no distinction between the Father and the Son. Although Scripture teaches that they are one (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30; 17:11, 22), and there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 18, 22; 46:9), Scripture also teaches that there are differences between the Father and the Son. For example, in John 14:28 Jesus said, "My Father is greater than I." This greatness is a character of the Father, in comparison to the Son. It has never changed and never will change (Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). In John 10:29 Jesus said His Father "is greater than all" and in Ephesians 4:6 it says of the Father that He is "above all." This "all" includes Christ. Long after Christ ascended to heaven, Paul wrote, "the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). This submission of Christ to the Father, and God being the head of Christ, is for all eternity.
For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:27-28)
Furthermore, in John 6:57 Christ said, "I live because of the Father". In John 5:26 Christ said the Father "has granted the Son to have life in Himself." In John 5:19 Jesus said, "the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do" (see also John 5:30). In John 7:16 Jesus said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me." It is evident that the Father is greater than the Son, just as Christ said.
Another distinction between the Father and the Son can be found in Jesus' statement, "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son," (John 5:22). Also, note Mark 13:32. Jesus did not know the day or hour when He would return, but the Father did; and it is the Father who sets the times and seasons "in His own authority" (Acts 1:7).
IV. But, "God Is Not A Man"!
What about the verses that say, "God is not a man" (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Job 9:32; Hosea 11:9)? In every single case, Scripture is speaking of corruptible man. God is not a mortal man.
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent. (1 Samuel 15:29)
Mortal men both lie and repent (Psalm 116:11; Job 42:6). They say things and do not hold to their word. Note the wording here, "God is not a man that He should lie." (Numbers 23:19), and "For He is not a man, that He should relent." (1 Samuel 15:29). God is being compared to mortal sinful men who act in ways that He does not.
Similarly, Hosea 11:9 declares,
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.
Here, again, the Lord is comparing himself to mortal men. He is God, and not man. In fact, note the verse just prior to verse 9.
How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. (Hosea 11:8)
God promised long ago to bless the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3), and He will not turn back, as man might (Isaiah 49:15-16; Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Likewise, Job 9:32 says,
For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together.
Job says, "He is not a man, as I am . . . ." This is what is being said. God is not a man, like mortal men. "For God is greater than man." (Job 33:12)
V. Does God Have A Body?
If God didn't have a body, how would wine cheer Him (Judges 9:13)? Or, how would He "drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25)?
Because John 4:24 says, "God is Spirit," some think (see below) this must mean God does not also have a body. The problem with this is, John 4:24 does not say God does not have a body. Moreover, the fact that "God is Spirit" does not dictate, as some may assume (Proverbs 3:5-6; 30:5-6), that God may not also have a body. Jesus is God (Titus 2:13), and He has a body.
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. (Luke 24:39)
Here is Christ after His resurrection and He has flesh and bones, hands and feet. Yet, He is still God. As God, He is still also Spirit (John 14:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11), and is not in any way limited or confined because He also has a physical body (Psalm 139:7-16; John 1:3). His statement about "a spirit does not have flesh and bones" simply reveals what is true about any spirit, including the human spirit that does not have flesh and bones. His point was that they were not seeing with their eyes a spirit, but rather the very flesh (physical body) of Himself.
Some may argue that Luke 24:39 was before He ascended to heaven, but now Christ is no longer in a physical body. Scripture speaks against this.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (Colossians 2:9)
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." (Revelation 1:12-18)
For many deceivers came into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7, my translation; see also 1 John 4:2-3)
The above verses reveal that, not only did Christ come in the flesh, but He is in the flesh now (e.g. Luke 24:39; Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:5). Confessing "Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" (2 John 7 NKJV) depicts His continued, present tense, existence in the flesh. Deceivers and antichrists deny this. As an example of an early deceiver, one from the third century, note the words of Origen (an early "church father").
To see, then, and to be seen, is a property of bodies, which certainly will not be appropriately applied either to the Father, or to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit, in their mutual relations with one another. (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 277, "Origen De Principiis")
Origen here denies Colossians 2:9.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
He also denies the truth of Luke 3:22, which manifests "mutual relations" with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is found to have "descended in bodily form."
And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22)
In this same context, Origen makes God invisible to Himself, and denies the words of Christ (John 6:46).
But they will say, God is invisible. And what will you do? If you say that He is invisible by nature, then neither ought He to be visible to the Savior. Whereas, on the contrary, God, the Father of Christ, is said to be seen, because "he who sees the Son," he says, "sees also the Father." [John 14:9 footnoted] This certainly would press us very hard, were the expression not understood by us more correctly of understanding, and not of seeing. (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 277)
A little later,
Let no one indeed suppose that we have indulged any feeling of impiety in saying that even to the Savior the Father is not visible. (ibid.)
And a little later,
It is clear, then, that He has not said, "No one has seen the Father, save the Son;" but, "No one knoweth the Father, save the Son." (ibid.)
Contrary to Origen's folly, Christ said,
Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. (John 6:46)
Obviously, despite the deceit of Origen, it is evident from the teaching of Christ (John 6:46) that the Father can be seen, at least by the Son. When Colossians 1:15 speaks of "the image of the invisible God," the wording itself reveals that the invisible God has yet an image. Christ is that image (Colossians 1:15). Therefore, when you see Christ, you see, in a sense, the invisible God, that is, the image of the invisible God (John 12:44; 14:9). By the way, "image" has to do with both appearance and behavior (e.g. Genesis 5:1-3; Colossians 3:10).
So, if the invisible God has an image, what is that image? It is the same image and likeness found in Adam in Genesis 1:26-27. It is the same image found in the man, Jesus Christ, who is "the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3). It is the same image found in Daniel 7:9. It is the same image mentioned in John 8:17-18 (i.e. that of a man). It is the image and likeness of a man, like Ezekiel beheld.
And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. (Ezekiel 1:26-28a, see also 1:28b-2:4. This is God!)
This image of the invisible God is seen to be in human form ("the appearance of a man", Ezekiel 1:26). This is a concept John Calvin explicitly rejected. In his commentary on Acts 20:28 Calvin wrote,
But because the speech which Paul useth seemeth to be somewhat hard, we must see in what sense he saith that God purchased the Church with his blood. For nothing is more absurd than to feign or imagine God to be mortal or to have a body. (www.ccel.org/print/calvin/calcom37/viii.v)
Calvin attributes the doctrine of Christ "absurd." For Jesus spoke of the "form" of the Father in John 5:37.
And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. (John 5:37)
What "form" is this that they had not seen? It is the "form" of a man (Exodus 15:3; John 8:17-18; Genesis 1:26-27; Daniel 7:9; Hebrews 1:3). Does this indicate that the Father also has a body? Yes it does. In fact, we see in Daniel 7:9 that He has a garment, hair, a head, and is seated on a throne. Likewise, in Revelation 5:1 and 5:7 God is seated on a throne, and He has a scroll in his right hand.
In Numbers 12:8 it is said that Moses spoke with the Lord, Yahweh, "face to face" and that "he sees the form of the Lord" (Yahweh). Yahweh is the Father or the Son or both (Hebrews 1:3; John 12:45; 14:9). God's face is also mentioned in Exodus 33:11, 20-23; Leviticus 17:10; 20:3-6; 26:17; Numbers 6:25; Psalm 34:16; 89:14; Jeremiah 21:10; 1 Peter 3:12; Revelation 22:4, and in Matthew 18:10 Christ says there are angels who "always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."
In Genesis 6:6; 8:21; 1 Samuel 2:35; 13:14; Jeremiah 8:18-19 and Hosea 11:8 the Lord speaks of His heart. He also speaks of His heart in Isaiah 16:10-11; 63:15; and Jeremiah 31:20, but in these passages "heart" (NKJV) comes from the plural form of the Hebrew word, mê`eh. They could be more literally rendered "inward parts," "internal organs," or "bowels" (e.g. see the KJV for these verses, and also note Jeremiah 4:19). In Jeremiah 9:1 He speaks of His head and eyes.
Oh that My head were waters, and My eyes a fountain of tears. (see verse 3 that it is the Lord who is speaking).
In Jeremiah 23:9 He speaks of His heart and bones (see verses 7 & 11 that it is God speaking, "says the Lord"). In Exodus 24:10; 2 Samuel 22:10 and Nahum 1:3 His feet are mentioned. 2 Kings 19:28; Psalm 18:6; 34:15; 130:2; Isaiah 37:29; Ezekiel 8:18; and 1 Peter 3:12 mention His ears. His nostrils are mentioned in Exodus 15:8; Psalm 18:8, 15; and Isaiah 65:5. Ezekiel 1:27 and 8:2 speak of His waist. His mouth is mentioned in Psalm 18:8; 33:6; 119:13, 72, 88; 138:4; Proverbs 2:6; Isaiah 1:20; 45:23; 48:3; 55:11; 58:14; 62:2; Jeremiah 9:20; 23:16; and Micah 4:4. His arm and voice are mentioned in Job 40:9. 1 Samuel 2:35 and Jeremiah 15:1 speaks of the mind of the Lord. His fingers are mentioned in Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10; and Psalm 8:3. His hands are mentioned in Job 34:19; Psalm 95:5; 102:25; 111:7; 119:73; 138:8; Isaiah 45:11-12; 49:16; 65:2, and in Jeremiah 1:9 the Lord touches Jeremiah's mouth with His hand. In Amos 7:7,
the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.
Obviously, there are many references to the body parts of God, and each one of these references may refer to the Father or the Son, or both (Colossians 2:2 KJV or NKJV).
In consideration of God having a body, Micah 1:8 is quite shocking.
Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a mourning like the ostriches, for her wounds are incurable. For it has come to Judah; it has come to the gate of My people - to Jerusalem. (Micah 1:8-9)
In mourning for His people the Lord says that he "will go stripped and naked." If He didn't have a body, He couldn't do such a thing.
Stephen Charnock, a puritan of old, argues against God having a body.
Question. It may be said, If God be a Spirit, and it is impossible he can be otherwise than a Spirit, how comes (sic) God so often to have such members as we have in our bodies ascribed to him, not only a soul, but particular bodily parts, as heart, arms, hands, eyes, ears, face, and back parts?
Answer. It is true, many parts of the body, and natural affections of the human nature, are reported of God in Scripture. Head, eyes, and eye-lids, apple of the eye, mouth, &c.; our affections also, grief, joy, anger, &c. But it is to be considered,
1. That this is in condescension to our weakness. (The Existence & Attributes of God, Vol. 1, p. 188, Baker Book House Co., seventh printing, February, 1987)
Scripture never teaches this ("That this is in condescension to our weakness."). On the contrary, Isaiah 45:9 says,
Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, "What are you making?" Or shall your handiwork say, "He has no hands"?
This is what Stephen Charnock says, that He has no hands.
In continuation of a lengthy answer to his question above, Charnock writes,
5. Therefore, we must not conceive of the visible Deity according to the letter of such expressions [i.e. don't take it for what it says], but the true intent of them [i.e. what he deceives you into thinking is the true intent]. Though the Scripture speaks of his eyes and arm, yet it denies them to be "arms of flesh." (The Existence & Attributes of God, Vol. 1, p. 190)
Charnock footnotes this statement with Job 10:4 and 2 Chronicles 32:8.
Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees? (Job 10:4)
"With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles." And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:8)
Here again, in both of these verses, God is being compared to corruptible mortal flesh (This is also the case for Isaiah 31:3). The Almighty is not corruptible, even in the flesh of Christ (e.g. 1 Peter 1:18-19).
We must not conceive of God according to the letter, but the design of the metaphor. When we hear things described by metaphorical expressions, for the clearing them up to our fancy, we conceive not of them under that garb, but remove the veil by an act of our reason [Herein spells deceit, Proverbs 3:5-6; 30:5-6.]. When Christ is called a sun, a vine, bread, is any so stupid as to conceive him to be a vine with material branches, and clusters, or be of the same nature with a loaf? (The Existence & Attributes of God, Vol. 1, p. 190)
Indeed, Jesus used parabolic language (John 15:1-6), but the text is what should dictate this understanding. "Our reason" can lead us to trouble (Proverbs 3:5-6; 30:5-6).
In John 15:6 Jesus said, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch." In other words, "like a branch," not a literal branch. It should be obvious Christ is using a simile, since He is speaking to humans, not literal branches; and the text dictates this (John 14:23). In regards to the bread, Jesus Himself said,
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
In regards to Christ being "a sun" (Malachi 4:2; Psalm 84:11), He is the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2; Psalm 84:11), who is both a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29, see below) and radiates like the Sun (Isaiah 60:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 1:16; 21:23; 22:5).
Charnock's deceit continues with,
If we would conceive God to have a body like a man, because he describes himself so [If He describes Himself so, then He is!], we may conceit him to be like a bird, because he is mentioned with wings; or like a lion, or like a leopard, because he likens himself to them in the acts of his strength and fury. He is called a rock, a horn, fire, to note his strength and wrath; if any be so stupid as to think God be really such, they would make him not only a man but worse than a monster. (The Existence & Attributes of God, Vol. 1, p. 190)
Charnock declares folly upon those who would believe the Word of God (2 Peter 2:2).
In regards to Scriptures depicting God with feathers or wings (Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:4), the Word itself shows that this indeed can be a figure of speech. See Ruth 3:9 where the same kind of language is used of Boaz, who is a man, as it is of God in Ruth 2:12. Moreover, Proverbs 23:5 states that riches have wings and fly away. This may literally be true of paper money in the wind, yet Proverbs obviously speaks figuratively of how riches do not last.
Therefore, figurative language is indeed found in Scripture. But, if we were to follow Charnock's deceit, we would reject, as He did, the true God. Because, God has indeed appeared as a literal rock (1 Corinthians 10:4), and He is truly a literal fire.
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29; see also Genesis 19:24; Exodus 3:2; 19:18; 24:17; Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 9:15-16; 11:1-3; 16:35; Deuteronomy 4:11-15, 24, 33-36; 5:4-5, 22-29; 9:3; Psalm 18:8, 12-13; 50:3; 68:1-2; 83:13-18; 97:3; Isaiah 30:27-33; 31:9; 33:14-16; Ezekiel 1:27-28; 8:1-3; Daniel 7:9-10; Micah 1:3-4)
After a look at the above verses, it should be blazingly obvious that "our God is a consuming fire!"
VI. Modern Theology
A modern example of a rejection of God being a man (Exodus 15:3) can be found in Robert Morey's book, The Trinity, Evidence & Issues (copyright 1996). On page 265 Morey writes,
To say that the Father is a Person as opposed to being an impersonal force or object does not mean that He is a human person, i.e. a man. Just as the angels are persons, but not men, the Father is a Person and not a man. Just as angels are spiritual in nature and do not have a physical body (Heb. 1:14; Lk. 24:39), the Father is spiritual in nature and does not have a physical body.
That this is true is seen from two arguments. First, the Bible explicitly denies that the Father is a man. And, second, the Bible explicitly teaches that the Father is spirit in nature.
Morey further argues, speaking of the Father, that,
. . . He cannot be a mortal man. Since the Father cannot be "flesh and blood" according to Matthew 16:17, then He cannot be a mortal man.
To support his statements, besides giving Matthew 16:17, Morey gives Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Job 9:32 Hosea 11:9 and Isaiah 31:3. All of these verses have been dealt with above. Indeed, the Father is not a mortal man, but he is nonetheless a man (Exodus 15:3). Morey fails to recognize this. He also fails to acknowledge that, contrary to what he says ("angels . . . are not men"), Gabriel, who is an angel, is identified as a man (Daniel 8:15-16; 9:20-21; Luke 1:19, 26). Moreover, Morey fails to recognize that physical bodies can be of a spiritual nature (1 Corinthians 15:39-53; Luke 24:39; Genesis 6:1-4; Jude 6-7; Genesis 18:1, 4-5, 8; 19:1).
Another example of modern theology that is against what we have seen thus far can be found in the New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition (Editors, J. D. Douglas, N. Hillyer, F. F. Bruce, D. Guthrie, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wisemen, copyright 1982, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois). On page 427 they write,
When we say that God is pure spirit, it is to emphasize that he is not part spirit and part body as man is. He is simple spirit without form or parts, and for that reason he has no physical presence. When the Bible speaks of God as having eyes, ears, hands and feet, it is an attempt to convey to us the senses that these physical parts convey, for if we do not speak of God in physical terms we could not speak of him at all.
By stating that He is without form, they write against John 5:37. By saying that he has no physical presence, they write against the times in which God is manifest in a physical presence as a man (Genesis 3:8; 18 & 19; 32:22-30/Hosea 12:3-5; Numbers 22:22-35; Judges 13:2-23). By discarding the "parts" of God mentioned in Scripture, they encourage distrust in the Words of God, and they, and all who follow in their ways, strive with their Maker bringing upon themselves the woe of Isaiah 45:9.
VII. God's Soul, God's Blood
In addition, God is not only a man (Exodus 15:3), but He is a man with a soul, in the Hebrew, נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh).
The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul[נַפְשׁוֹ] hates. (Psalm 11:5)
But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul[נַפְשׁוֹ] desires, that He does. (Job 23:13)
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul[נַפְשִׁי] delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1; see also Jeremiah 4:19-22; 6:8; 12:7; 14:19; 32:41)
What's the significance, at least in part, of God having a soul, a "nephesh" (נֶפֶשׁ) in the Hebrew? This means His body has blood in it, as it is written,
Only be strong [חֲזַק (chazaq)] to not eat the blood, for the blood is the soul [הַנָּפֶשׁ (hanâphesh)], and you shall not eat the soul [הַנֶּפֶשׁ (hanephesh)] with the flesh. (Deuteronomy 12:23, my translation)
For the soul [נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh)] of all flesh is its blood. It is in its soul [בְנַפְשׁוֹ (venaphsho)]. So I said to the sons of Israel, "Blood of all flesh you shall not eat, for the soul [נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh)] of all flesh is its blood." (Leviticus 17:14, my translation)
In these verses the Hebrew word for soul, נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh) is typically translated "life" (e.g. KJV, NKJV, NAS), but it is actually the Hebrew word for soul, נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh). Therefore, these verses let us know that "the blood is the soul" (Deuteronomy 12:23). Thus, we know if God has a soul, נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), He has blood.
Some may argue against this via Matthew 16:17:
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Here, God the Father, is put in contrast to "flesh and blood." But, it should be evident Jesus is talking about mortal flesh and blood, just as Paul is talking about mortal flesh and blood in 1 Corinthians 15:50 which says,
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
When Paul says, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" he is not excluding Christ out of the kingdom. For Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8), is explicitly stated as having flesh (Luke 24:39) and incorruptible blood (1 Peter 1:18-19) and noted as being a Man (1 Timothy 2:5), all after the resurrection. No, neither Matthew 16:17 nor 1 Corinthians 15:50 exclude either Christ or His Father from having incorruptible blood. In fact, Acts 20:28 uses terminology that lets us know further that God indeed has blood.
. . . the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)
This verse undeniably declares that God has blood, and if God has it, it is eternal, incorruptible (1 Peter 1:18-19). Also, with the term God, this includes God the Father as well (John 14:7-9).
Finally, the very first mention of the soul being the blood is in Genesis 9:4.
Yet, you shall not eat flesh in its soul [בְּנַפְשׁוֹ (benaphsho)], its blood. (Genesis 9:4, my translation)
Two verses later God reveals the blood, the soul, is very much a part of man being made in the image of God.
Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. (Genesis 9:6)
With the focus being on the blood, it is quite significant, in that context, that God says man was made in His image, His "likeness" (Genesis 1:26). God, who is a Man with incorruptible flesh and blood, created a man who was like Him.
VIII. The Word became flesh (John 1:14)?
Does John 1:14 imply that Christ (the Word, John 1:1) was not in flesh until the incarnation when He became flesh?
John 1:14 means exactly what it says. He did indeed become flesh. He partook of the same flesh and blood as man (Hebrews 2:14, 17). In time and space He was conceived in a womb (Luke 1:31). This was the first event in becoming flesh. He was subsequently developed in the womb, born, grew, learned (Hebrews 5:8), and was even tempted (Hebrews 4:15). These are all indicative of being in the flesh.
Nonetheless, none of this means He wasn't in the flesh prior to this. Scripture simply does not teach that. Likewise, none of this means he was not in the flesh in heaven at the same time He was on earth, as it is written,
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. (John 3:13, so with The Majority and Received Texts; "who is in heaven" is not in the Critical Text)
Moreover, Scripture teaches He was slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He would have had to be in the flesh from the foundation of the world in order to be slain. Finally, since Hebrews 13:8 is true, and His flesh is very much a part of who He is, being in the flesh is not new to the nature of Christ. Nevertheless, this is nonetheless a great mystery.
Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh . . . (1 Timothy 3:16).
One important factor to note in the Word becoming flesh is this: Sinful man's flesh is corruptible and mortal (1 Corinthians 15:53) because of sin. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Jesus had no such sin factor in Him (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, His flesh was the same (Hebrews 2:14) minus the sin factor that we all inherit through Adam (Romans 5:19), which means His flesh was neither corruptible or mortal (i.e. subject to death, in itself, as ours is because of sin).
Jesus was virgin born (Luke 1:35), the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Although He is indeed the son of David (Matthew 1:1), of the seed of David (Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8), this seed came via the woman Mary. Thus, He had no fallen father. You can see through this that the sin factor was carried through the man, and not through the woman.
Therefore, when Christ became flesh (John 1:14), He partook of the same kind of flesh man has (Hebrews 2:14), but it was without the fallen nature inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12-19). Thus, Jesus' flesh and blood was not corrupted (i.e. was incorruptible), being virgin born. Thus we have, "And the Word became flesh" (John 1:14).
Usually, when we think of "flesh," we equate it with mortality, since in our flesh that is all we know. But, this mortality factor is a mystery. Since Christ had no sin in His flesh (like we do), He did not have a body of death (mortality) as we do (Romans 7:24). He had a body of life (John 14:6). He was not mortal, in this sense. The wages of sin, death, had no bearing on His life, on His flesh, as Jesus notes in John 10:17-18:
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life [literally, My soul, ψυχην (psuchên)] that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.
Jesus had the power to decide to die ("lay it down") and/or live ("to take it"). Being mortal, we don't have that power. In fact, this well defines mortality, subject to death beyond our control.
Jesus' mortality only came because of His obedience to His Father (Matthew 26:37-44). He chose to become mortal, to die. He was not mortal, like we are mortal, subject to death beyond our control. Romans 8:3 says He came "in the likeness of sinful flesh." He did not come in sinful flesh.
Thus, the cross is a great mystery. Not only did Life (John 14:6) die, but Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6) became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Truly, His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33)!
For more on God, see He Is Holy Gods, Jerusalem is God, God Is Love, The Lord Kills, The Seven Spirits of God Are God, The Horses of Zechariah 1 Are God, The Throne, Heaven, and the Kingdom Are God, and The True Fear of God, points X & XI.
1. In case someone might wonder, it is not improper to place the definite article in front of a proper noun in the Greek New Testament. This is seen quite a bit throughout the NT. For example, in Matthew chapter one the names in the genealogy of Christ have the definite article before them. It more literally reads,
Abraham begot the Isaac, and Isaac begot the Jacob, and Jacob begot the Judah . . . etc. (Matthew 1:2)
In Matthew 1:18 it more literally reads,
Now the birth of the Jesus Christ was as follows: After his mother Mary was engaged to the Joseph, . . . .
Verse twenty four reads more literally,
So the Joseph was aroused from sleep . . . .
Chapter 2:5 more literally reads,
So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of the Judea."
It is actually quite common to have a definite article before a proper name in the NT.
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