Tuesday, February 2, 2010

radiance of God's glory

...And He is the radiance of God's glory...(Hebrews 1:3)

After declaring that Jesus is He "whom [God] appointed all things, through whom [God] also made the world," the author of Hebrews conjoins yet another attribute of Christ in the proposition that "[Jesus] is the radiance of [God's] glory" (Hebrews 1:3). We do well to ask, "What does this statement claim about the nature of God?" And, "What does this statement claim about the nature of Christ?" Importantly, how can this be said of Jesus, who walked the earth in human flesh, when God alone is uniquely glorious (that is, unique in the glory that He possesses and that radiates from Him)? Not surprisingly, we find yet another attribute that deifies Christ, posing a superficial dilemma to Christian monotheism and its Jewish foundation. Again, we conclude that this is non-contradictory when we consider the New Testament teaching that Jesus, who is a distinct Person from the Father, is as the Nicene Creed affirms "one in being with the Father," and both are God.
Bearing in mind the deity of Christ is fundamental to understanding the attribute that Jesus is the radiance of God's glory. For, in this manner we can truly see the nature of God perfectly manifested in the Person of Christ. Moreover, to this end, an encounter with Christ is the equivalent to encountering the Father. As Jesus said to Philip the apostle, "He who has seen the Me has seen the Father" and also "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:9, 11). Philip's initial desire that Jesus "show [them] the Father," evidencing his confusion, should not surprise us, for as John writes, "No one has seen God at any time" (John 1:18a). Yet, Jesus maintains that if we see Him we see the Father, for, being in truth "the only begotten God," Jesus has declared the Father and has made Him known (John 14:9; 1:18b). Similarly, Paul writes of Jesus that "He is the image of the invisible God," and that "in the face of Christ" we see God's glory (Colossians 1:15a; 2 Corinthians 4:6; see also 2 Corinthians 4:4).
In the epistle to the Hebrews, the writer constantly brings to our attention the divine and exalted nature of Christ so that we can be assured of Christ's supremacy, as it is ontologically grounded (that is, it derives from His being). This, in turn, gives substance to our hope in Christ as the one in whom we can trust as the author and perfecter of our faith, and the guarantor of our salvation.

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