Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2 Corinthians 5:19 - God in Christ

"But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through [Greek, dia, Strong's #1223] Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in [Greek, en, Strong's #1722] Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation." -- 2 Corinthians 5:19, World English Bible translation
The thought many would like for us to see in this verse is that God was in Christ, and being in Christ this makes Christ God Almighty. This, of course, is not what the verse is saying. The Greek word *en* -- translated "in" -- has many variations of meaning, and by context we understand that this is saying that God by means of Christ was reconciling the world to himself.
Yes, God was in Christ, by means of Christ, reconciling the world to himself. That is all that is says. The idea that this is saying that Jesus was God Almighty in a human form is a thought that has to be read into what Paul was saying.
The Greek word *en* -- translated "in" -- has many variations of meaning, including "through", "by" [often with the meaning as "by means of", "in" [still often with the meaning as an instrument being used], and it is by context we understand what this word is saying. God by means of Christ was reconciling the world to himself.
Some translations make this plainer to see:
That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. -- 2 Corinthians 5:19, New Revised Standard Version
That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. -- Holman Christian Standard Bible translation
That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation --Revised Standard Version
Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. -- The Good News Bible in Today's English Version
hws hoti theos een en christw kosmon katallasswn
5613_5 3754 2316 1511_3 1722 5547 2889 2644
heautw mee logizomenos autois ta paraptwmata
1438 3361 3049 0846_93 3588 3900
autwn kai themenos en heemin ton logon tees
0846_92 2532 5087 1722 1473_9 3588 3056 3588
Westcott & Hort Interlinear, as obtained from the Bible Students Library DVD
In other words, God was using Christ as the instrument to restore his relationship with humanity. This agrees with the similar expressions in Romans 3:24: "being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in [by means of] Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11: Thus also consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in [by means of] Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:11: "Thus also consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in [by means of] Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in [by means of] Christ Jesus our Lord."
Nevertheless, the idea that God is in Christ is also expressed elsewhere in the scriptures. Jesus says: "But if I do them, though you don't believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." (John 10:38) And again he says: "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me." (John 14:10,11) Does this mean that Jesus is God Almighty? Hardly. Even our trinitarian neighbor would shrug at the implication that this means that Jesus is the Father and that the Father is Jesus. Yet if the expression as it is used in 2 Corinthians 5:19 means that Jesus is God because, as it reads in some translations, Paul states: "God in Christ", then we would reason from these scriptures that Jesus is the Father, since the Father is in him, and he is in the Father. This, of course, is not what Jesus is saying. Nevertheless, it would take some imagination to read into this that Jesus is God Almighty. But what does it mean?
Jesus himself gives us a hint as to its meaning, when he tells his disciples: "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (John 14:20) Here Jesus likens his relationship to his Father to his relationship to his disciples. Now if his being in his father means that he is God, then his being in his disciples and his disciples' being in him, would make the disciples God Almighty also, since, according to trinitarian philosophy, Jesus is God Almighty. Of course, none of these scriptures mean that Jesus is God Almighty, but it does show a closeness, a harmony between God and Jesus, and between Jesus and his disciples.
But, someone says, Jesus doesn't say that he is in his disciples and that his disciples are him in the same manner that he is in Father and that the Father is in him. Let us read further. In John 17:21, we read of Jesus praying to his God (John 17:1,3), that his disciples "may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us." Here it is plainly stated that the two unions are the same kind of union.
It is to the disciples as individuals that Jesus said: "Remain in me and I in you. As the branch can't bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me." (John 15:4) And also he says: "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done to you." (John 15:7) These words are not speaking of Christ as being in his disciples collectively, but as individuals. There is something that we can learn from this: that we need to "remain" in Christ, and there is the possibility that the one who is in Christ may not "remain" therein.
We read in Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Does the believer's being "in Christ Jesus" mean that the believer is Christ Jesus? If Jesus is God because God is in Jesus, then this would make Jesus God, thus to be in Christ Jesus, would mean being in God, and thus the believer would be God. Most, we believe, would recognize this kind of reasoning as nonsense.
Another relevant scripture is Romans 8:9: "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn't have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his." Here we see that it is necessary for the spirit of God to dwell, live, in the believer if he is walk by the spirit. Some see into this verse trinity because it speaks of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. Of course, God gave his spirit to Jesus without measure, and then he sent his spirit through Jesus to the church. (John 14:26; 15:26; Acts 2:33) Thus, since Jesus is given charge of the holy spirit, it is God's spirit, but it is also the spirit of Christ. This can be likened to fact that Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh (1 Chronicles 29:23) and yet Solomon sat on the throne of David. (1 Kings 2:12,24) And yet it is also Solomon's throne. (1 Kings 1:37,47) All three statements are true relatively. Likewise, the spirit of God, being given to Jesus, can also be referred to as the spirit of Christ.
Nevertheless, one's having the spirit of Christ could also mean having the same disposition as Christ. See our discussion on Romans 8:9.
Romans 8:11 reads: "If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness." Again, reference is made of Christ being in the believer, the same reasoning applies as given for Romans 8:1.
While we do not believe that 2 Corinthians 5:19 is speaking of the same thing as these other verses we have just examined, even if it should be assuemd to be that it is, these other verses show that it would not mean that Jesus is his God anymore than when the scriptures say that the believers are "in Christ" means that Jesus himself *is* every member of the church, or the scriptures that refer to believers as being "in God" would make believers God Almighty. -- Romans 8:1; 16:3,7,10; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 2:4; 5:17; 12:2; Galatians 1:22; 3:28; Ephesians 2:10.
God resides in, dwells in Jesus and his church, by means of his holy spirit. -- John 10:38; 14:10,20; 17:11,21; Romans 8:9,10,11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 11:10; 13:5; Ephesians 3:17; 4:6,15; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 John 3:24; 4:12,13; 2 John 1:9; 4:6.
None of this means that Jesus is Yahweh, or that the church is Yahweh, or that the church is Jesus, etc. Thus there is nothing in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that would lead us to believe that Jesus is Yahweh, or that Jesus was God Almighty in human form.
Some quotes from various authors (we do not necessarily agree with all conclusions given by the authors):

Paul attributes his changed perspective to God, who did too things for him. First, he reconciled Paul to himself through Christ, and second, he gave him the ministry of reconciliation (v. 18).... The syntax is ambiguous. The text can read, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself" or "God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ." The emphasis in the former is on the incarnation ("God in Christ"), with Christ as the locus of divine revelation (M. J. Harris 1978b:1193). But this moves us away from the soteriological focus of these verses. The stress in the latter is on redemption. God used Christ's death on the cross (God was reconciling [periphrasis]) to bring about reconciliation (instrumental en).
The above is from: IVP New Testament Commentaries, Copyright 1995-2002, Gospel Communications International.
If h]n…katalla&sswn is not periphrastic then h]n is the principal verb in the sentence. Paul would in that case be saying that “God existed in Christ.” Is such a statement sufficiently motivated in this context? It is true that Paul in Colossians 2:9 says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. But there he uses a present tense and the thought expressed fits into the context very well. But why would Paul in this place say that “God existed in Christ?” And why would he use an imperfect tense? Would that tense imply that God no longer exists in Christ? Is there any other passage in Paul’s writings that uses that kind of language? In and through Christ God has done much for us. Is it not much more in keeping with what Paul says elsewhere and also with what he says in verse 18 to understand e0n Xristw|~ as an adverbial phrase modifying katalla&sswn than as the equivalent of a predicate adjective? Those questions might also help to convince us that h]n…katala&sswn must be periphrastic.
The above is from: A Note on Qe/menov in 2 Corinthians 5:19, by Dr. Siegbert W. Becker
ww.wlsessays.net/files/BeckerThemenos.rtf - Download RTF File.

Lord of Heaven
We have been asked the question: "What of the scripture that states that the second Adam (being Jesus Christ) was the Lord of Heaven?"
1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:46 However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.
1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven.
The above scriptures are pertaining the bodies assigned by God and the resurrection on the “last day”. Jesus, now possessing a spiritual body is the Lord from heaven, and has the power and authority as the life-giving spirit to bring the dead to life in the last day. We are not sure why the question is asked, but we have discussed these scriptures in the study “The Manner of the Resurrection”; see also: "Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being".
We have been asked: "Why does Hebrews state: 'But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee.’ ?"
We have discussed this at:

Why is Jesus Called “ELOHIM” and “THEOS”?
What Does Hebrews 1 Say About “God”?
We have been asked: "Jesus is not his own Father, God is but Jesus is certainly divine; there are many scriptures that point to that. Jesus states that where two or three are gathered he will be among them, how can a mere man be omnipresent?"
We respond:
Jesus certainly could be considered to be divine, even as the angels could be considered to be divine.
See the category on Jesus’ Deity
Jesus is no longer in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7) — he is no longer a human being at all; he has now been exalted (Ephesians 2:9) with all power (deity, mightinesss) bodily (Colossians 2:9,10) that is needed for him to exercise all power and authority (excluding that glory that only belongs to the Most High) that has been given to him by the only Most High Yahweh. — Ephesians 1:3,17-23; 1 Corinthians 15:27.
See the studies:
Matthew 18:20; 28:20 – Jesus Presence With Us
The Fullness of Deity
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
Hebrews 2:9 – Is Jesus Still a Little Lower than the Angels?
The claim has been made:  "Jesus Christ is the word of God and as John says it the word was God, why because God is in his word, therefore God being in Christ makes Christ God to man. Jesus was a dual person both God and man."
Regarding the Word being God, see:

John 1:1 and Trinitarian Assumptions

The Logos of God

The Logos was Theos

The Logos Made Flesh

Regarding the idea that God's being in Christ means that Jesus is God:
John 17:21
That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me.
Ephesians 4:6
One God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.
1 John 3:24
He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.
1 John 4:12
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.
To be consistent, then one should also believe that all of the followers of Jesus, who have God “in” them, makes all the followers of Jesus God and that God is thousands of persons. In reality, the fact the unipersonal God and Father of Jesus is in Jesus, and in his followers, does not at all make either Jesus or the followers of Jesus to be the Most High Yahweh.
However, the power and authority given to Jesus does indeed make Jesus “god” – mighty – to man, but this usage of the word “god” does not mean that the Most High has made Jesus into the Most High. Additionally, Jesus represents to mankind the righteous qualities of the Most High; this does not mean that Jesus was made into the Most High to do so.
Jesus is Not Yahweh (Jehovah)
Regarding the idea that Jesus is a dual person, both God and man:
No where where in the Bible do we find any thought that Jesus, while in the days of his flesh, was also the Most High God. Such has to imagined, assumed, added to, and read into any scripture that is presented to allegedly support what is being imagined and assumed.
See the category on “dual natures”.

Related Links
The following are links to material written by Christians associated with the Bible Students movement. Each author is responsible for his own statements, and we do not necessarily agree with every statement made.
In, By, and Through Christ -- ZWT, R0826

Savior of the World -- ZWT, R5596

What is Guaranteed by the Ransom? -- ZWT, R2855

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