The Person of Christ - 03 - Pre-existance in Hebrews

 

Chapter 3 - The Pre-existence of Christ

In The Hebrew Epistle

John Stubbs

 

In carefully reading through this wonderful epistle, the believer will rejoice to find statements concerning Christ which clearly imply His pre-incarnate relationship with the Father, a relationship which existed before time began and from all eternity. We shall select a few references which set forth Christ in the glory of His eternal Person.

 

THE REVEALER OF GOD (1:3)

 

This Scripture would greatly increase our understanding of Christ?s glorious Person by giving to Him in His preexistent state the name of the ?effulgence of His glory? (R.V.). This word effulgence is found only here. It is a timeless term and contains in it an allusion to the sun and its radiance. How beautiful! We may note that the radiance of the sun is as old as the sun itself, and without it the sun would not be the sun. So Christ is co-eternal with the Father. In the writer?s praise of the Son he is still moving in the high sphere of the Son?s eternal relations. He has not yet touched the earth. We do not believe that the terms ?effulgence of His glory? and the ?express image of His substance? refer only to what Christ was as incarnate. We can dismiss this view with confidence, for the participle clause. ?Who being,? points to what the Lord Jesus is in His essential nature, regardless of time. Do not let us lose sight of the reason why Christ is thus presented. He is so fitted to be the true Interpreter of God, because He is eternally related to Him.

 

The brightness of Thy glory

And Thine express image too,

Was He who brought Thy powerful hand

And loving heart to view.

 

 

THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD (1:10-12)

 

The writer in this passage from verses 4 to 14, is angels spirits.? Therefore they are marked as creatures. The contrasting Christ and the angels. Angels are not eternal, but are created beings. Thus verse 7 says, ?Who maketh His Lord Jesus however, is the Creator. He not only existed before creation, but before angels. The reason for creation being brought in here, is to bring out the contrast between Christ, the Creator, and the angels, the creatures. Thus we read a wonderful statement from Psalm 102, ?Thou, Lord. in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thine hands.? Thus all creation is ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ, in a way which proves He existed apart from and before creation. Those who teach the blasphemous doctrine that Christ was the first to be created, usually cite such passages as ?the beginning of the creation of God? (Rev. 3:14), but the word beginning in that context simply means origin or source, and certainly not first to be created. In connection with Hebrews chapter 1, a Creature who is also a Creator would be a very strange combination of ideas. What is said of Christ as Creator in verses 10-12 clearly implies the pre-existence of Christ.

 

THE CO-ETERNAL SON (5:8)

 

?Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.? Here again we have an implication of the pre-existence of Christ. In His experience of what obedience was in the path of His humiliation, the connection with His Sonship breaks down if the Lord Jesus does not share eternal relationship with the Father. ?Though He were a Son.? means though He existed in this unique and eternal relationship, yet in great contrast He knew the path of subjection on earth. Had our Lord?s history commenced at birth, then this verse would have no meaning and we would rob it of its real beauty.

 

It is important to see that the pre-existence of Christ means not merely that He existed prior to His coming into manhood, nor indeed as false teachers have asserted that He existed in the mind of God before He came, (for this would be true of every human being), but His is an absolute, eternal, and personal pre-existence. Pre-existence in itself does not necessarily imply eternity and deity, but taken in connection with these references in Hebrews, it can mean nothing else.

 

THE ACCOMPLISHER OF THE DIVINE WILL (10:7-9)

 

In these words of the Messiah taken from Psalm 40, ?Lo. I come.., to do Thy will, O God, ?we see supported the fact of Christ?s pre-existence. This, as it were, is the lovely language of the pre-incarnate Lord before stepping into conditions of time. Moveover the Lord says in verse 5, ?a body hast Thou prepared Me.? Here is a wonderful truth that brings out the distinction between Christ and Adam, the first man. Adam?s body as we learn from Genesis 2:7. existed before he did: God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The personality of Adam commenced at that moment. He had no previous existence. But how precious to see from Hebrews 10 that Christ in His preincarnate state existed before the body. Therefore we can say, the body existed before Adam, but Christ existed before the body. This great contrast proves the personal preexistence of Christ, and with adoration and praise, we bow our hearts before such a One.

 

THE SYMPATHIZER WITH THE PEOPLE (11:26)

 

Here it is said that Moses esteemed ?the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt,? even though Christ in flesh had yet to come. In fact, it would not be until some 1500 years later that Christ would come. How then could Moses esteem the reproach of Christ, and what does the reproach of Christ mean? All Israel?s reproach was Christ?s. Christ was with Israel in that past day, and all that they suffered, He suffered too; similarly as Paul in II Cor. 1:5 speaks of the sufferings of believers as the sufferings of Christ. This must be interpreted in the light of Isaiah 63:9.

 

?In all their afflictions He was afflicted.? Perhaps the Angel of His presence mentioned in this reference is Christ Himself. A parallel to Hebrews 11:26 would be I Corinthians 10:4 ?and that Rock was Christ.? Vine says, ?The description of the Rock as spiritual and as following them is a distinct testimony to the pre-existence of Christ.? The phrase ?the reproach of Christ? proves the Lord?s personal pre-existence.

 

We have confined our consideration of the fundamental subject of Christ?s eternal pre-existence. to Hebrews. We have to mention that these allusions to this precious theme do not really require interpretation but simple recognition. The believer?s heart will respond to the testimony of Scripture.