Ten More Theses

On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther issued his protest against the church of his day in his famous Ninety-Five Theses. In this way he began the Reformation to which justification by faith was central. Regrettably, judged from a theological point of view, the theses and reformation theology in general did not go far enough. Even John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers, though an admirer of both Luther and Calvin believed that God had more light to break forth from his word. Much has happened since 1517 and this being so, it is vital for us in the 21st century to gain a broader perspective. I hereby append a mere ten more theses to serve as a catalyst for more extensive consideration.

  1. The worldview inherited from the sin-obsessed Augustine of Hippo which has dominated the church’s thinking for nearly 1700 years is false. In other words, the idea that God created a perfect world including a holy and righteous Adam and Eve is plainly contrary to biblical teaching. In fact, creation is ‘hand-made’, an Old Testament pejorative expression which indicates that all material things are subject to corruption (decay) by divine design irrespective of sin. The whole creation is naturally obsolescent and so is gradually getting older (Heb. 1:11). It will finally be destroyed like the human body of flesh and indeed all animals which are its product (Heb. 8:13).
  2. Prior to Augustine, Irenaeus of Lyons who is regarded as the father of theology taught a doctrine of recapitulation which teaches that the individual lives out the experience of the race in miniature, Jesus being the supreme example. He believed that Adam, the individual who epitomised the race, began at the beginning. Once created or brought into being, far from being perfect (complete, fully mature) he was like a foetus subject to development or evolution. Unfortunately, however, Irenaeus’ thinking was eclipsed by that of Augustine and others.
  3. Since Adam and Eve as created were like all animals completely ignorant of good and evil, they were far from being righteous (cf. Jesus who was born in a stable and note Isaiah 7:14-16; 8:4). This being the case they never experienced a catastrophic Fall which brought about a ‘cosmic’ curse. They simply lost their innocence as all children do and suffered the consequences of their new-found knowledge. Like Paul at a later date they were ‘born’ alive but broke the commandment which eventually dawned on their developing minds (Gen. 3:6f.; Rom. 7:9f.). Thus they left the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race, physically mature but mentally infantile.
  4. The notorious ecclesiastical dogma of original sin which posits the transfer of Adam’s sin to all his posterity either by carnal concupiscence or imputation is a malignant myth. Neither the Jews nor the Orthodox believe it. To impute sin to those who like babies have never personally sinned is regarded throughout the Bible as evil. The only exception is Jesus who though not a sinner himself received it by faith on behalf of his fellows. Everyone else sins, that is, breaks the law in some form for him or herself. Since, like Adam and Eve at the beginning, babies do not know the law, they cannot be born sinful (Rom. 4:15). The innocent offspring of the wicked Israelites who died in the wilderness safely reached the Promised Land (Dt. 1:39).
  5. The curse on creation referred to in the book of Genesis stemmed from the lack of human cultivation. After all, even today an untended garden soon becomes a desolate wilderness (Prov. 24:30-34). Work is indispensable to make the earth fit for human as opposed to animal habitation. Not for nothing did Paul say that those who won’t work shouldn’t eat (2 Thes. 3:10, cf. Gen. 3:17-19).
  6. It was inevitable that man who was in transition from his animal beginning should like a child be unable to cope on the one hand (Gen. 5:29) and to be dominated by his fleshly or animal nature on the other (e.g. Gen. 6:11).
  7. Nowadays, infants and even children have adult parents to nurture them and so do not experience the harsh realities of a naturally intractable and inhospitable creation, the so-called curse, which indispensably requires man’s dominion to make it habitable (Gen. 1:26-28).
  8. On the assumption of recapitulation, infant baptism reflects the early church Marcionite heresy which virtually dispensed with the Old Testament. It is not only unchristian, it is even anti-Christian since it ignores the evolutionary development of both the individual and the race. The truth is that genuine science is the corollary of biblical theology correctly understood and is intrinsic to the perfecting or maturation process fundamental to mankind. It is far from surprising that science has flourished primarily in a Protestant environment where the work ethic has figured so prominently. In Scripture babies, like Adam and Eve before them, are completely uncovenanted. Christian baptism, however, is an exclusively new covenant phenomenon. Furthermore, since babies are not born sinful, baptismal regeneration performed by a priest is both redundant and futile. Augustine’s claim that unbaptised babies go to hell is simply not true (cf. Eccl. 12:7).
  9. Regeneration (new birth) and bodily transformation are natural necessities since flesh and blood cannot by nature enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 15:50). Even the sinless Jesus as flesh was subject to both: he was baptised when he attained to righteousness under the law, the precondition of regeneration (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5), and was transformed at his ascension.
  10. The redemption of creation, still widely held today by those who believe in original sin, is a fallacy. There are in fact two ages, and cosmic dualism gives rise to anthropological dualism. Though man’s flesh as emanating from the physical creation is destroyed, his spirit is glorified in heaven (1 Cor. 15:35-55) where he gains an eternal ‘house’ (2 Cor. 5:1-5).

Though much more is involved, like Luther 500 years ago I must say:

Here I stand. I can do no other.

See further articles

The Household of God and the Plan of Salvation

THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD and the Plan of Salvation or Is God Male?

(Before reading what is written below the reader is urged to reflect first on my The Fatherhood of God, Adam’s Genealogy and Destiny, Eternal Son? and Christology.)

While the kingdom of God has been extensively treated by Christian writers, the household of God (Heb. 3:1-6) seems to have slipped largely under the radar. For some time now the subject has been troubling me. What does it involve? Along with it I have been meditating on the fact that according to Paul’s allegory the Jerusalem above is the mother of believers in Christ (Gal. 4:26) but in the book of Revelation the new Jerusalem is presented as the Bride (Rev. 21:2,9f.). Is there a contradiction at this point or are the two assertions related in some way? Perhaps we need to go back to the beginning for answers.

Judging by Genesis 1, creation came into being to be inhabited especially by man made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28, cf. Isa. 45:18). As Paul intimates, it was purposely planned in eternity (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2, cf. John 17 passim; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8). If this was so, then, given the nature of the plan of salvation, certain changes had to be made.

The God of the Jews and the Greeks

First, we need to understand that the immanent God of Scripture, the God of the Jews who were the chosen people to whom God uniquely revealed himself (Dt. 4:7,32-40; Ps. 147:19f., etc.), was intrinsically different from the one conceived of by the Greeks. The former, though admittedly high and lifted up, was frequently referred to as the living Creator God (e.g. Dt. 5:26) who accomplished things and made a name for himself by means of dynamic acts and the performance of wonders (see e.g. Ex. 15; Dt. 32); in contrast, the latter was utterly transcendent, immutable, static, passive, impassible or immune to suffering and devoid of direct dealings with man. Despite his undeniable impact on Christian thinking, he was clearly a false god!

Immanent and Economic Trinities

Judging by the OT and teaching like that of John 1 and Philippians 2 the immanent, ontological or essential Trinity constituted God (later the Creator), God the Word and God the Holy Spirit who existed in complete but self-sufficient, sexless or genderless isolation prior to creation (Gen. 1:1; John 17:24; James 1:4). However, this cannot be said of the economic Trinity, the saving God of mankind. Once they (note the ‘us’ in Gen. 1:26f.; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8) freely purposed in a pre-temporal plan motivated by love (1 John 4:8f.) to have children and to glorify themselves by manifesting their grace in the salvation of mankind (John 3:16), it was necessary, given the nature of their plan, for the persons of the intrinsically triune God to establish new relationships. After all, there is no reference to Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the OT. As I have pointed out in an essay querying the idea of the eternal Son, neither John nor Paul even vaguely suggests that the Word was a son in eternity. (1* See, for example, my Notes on the Eternal Son) Rather, since he, the Word, was God (John 1:1) and equal with God (Phil. 2:6), he was like Melchizedek without either father or mother! (2* This surely establishes the aseity of the inherently trinitarian immanent God.) However, since it was evidently planned in the counsel/covenant of redemption for the Word to become a son, he needed both parents, and the inference is that the Creator God adopted the role of Father and the Holy Spirit that of Mother. (3* Compare John 1:13 and 3:5f.,8.) Genesis 1:26 (ESV) reads “… let us make man (i.e. generic mankind) in our image, after our likeness”. So, given its biblical context, the implication is, first, that God is by nature trinitarian. Second, that since his image is man, woman (Gen. 1:26f.) and implicitly child (cf. Gen. 5:1f.), God is prototypically familial (cf. Eph. 3:15; Rom. 8:15f.). If this is so, extrapolating from image to reality (or from ectype to archetype or type to prototype) we unavoidably infer that the reality of the economic Trinity is Father, Son and Mother. (4* It may well be asked at this point why Scripture does not make this plain. The answer is surely that it ought to be blindingly obvious, and mothers and wives in most contexts hardly need to be spelt out! If you are a husband, you have a wife; if a father, a wife/mother; if a son or daughter a father and a mother. As elsewhere (see below), God himself establishes the pattern. It is therefore perhaps worthy of note also at this point that according to Wilcock, p.34, the order Father, Spirit, Son of the (economic) Trinity in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, is ‘unusual’, 1:4f. According to a review by John Dekker in Reformed Theological Review of REORDERING THE TRINITY by R.K.Durst, Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2015, apart from Matthew 28:19 there are five possible orderings: e.g. 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 9:14; Jude 20-21 and Eph. 4:4-6. The reviewer comments that this variation is highly significant since it shows the absolute equality of the Persons of the Godhead.)

Man and God

However, since it is impossible for man to become God, the creature the Creator, or for corruption (perishability) to become ‘incorruption’ (imperishability, 1 Cor. 15:50), in order to redeem mankind and achieve the heavenly assumption of man, the Word had, first, to undergo incarnation, that is, take on flesh and become a human being himself. In this way, having descended, he would be able to ascend (John 3:13; Eph. 4:9f.) with his people in tow (Heb. 2:10.). (5* See further my The Ascending Jesus.) So Mary, who as a child of fleshly Adam herself and a true daughter of Eve, became his human mother. Thus as man made in the image of God, the second Adam, he was capable of successfully recapitulating the experience of the first Adam whose mother was the earth (dust, cf. Gen. 2:7; 3:19f.; 1 Cor. 11). Expressed alternatively, the Word laid aside his divine glory and incommunicable attributes (pace Chalcedon) in an act of extreme self-impoverishment (2 Cor. 8:9), self-emptying and self-abasement (Phil. 2:6-8) in order to become man (flesh) and thus gain the perfection (completeness, maturity) that his human vocation (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5), which was beyond the capability of ordinary men, required (Mt. 5:48). So, in order to become incarnate, the Word divested himself of his incommunicable attributes if not his identity, ontology (being) and immutable character (cf. John 14:9; Heb. 13:8). Instead of retaining his divine nature (cf. John 17:5,24), that is, the glory of his invisible incommunicable attributes as tradition would have us believe, he took on the nature of fleshly man made in the image of God. In brief, as the son of Mary, he became the human Son of God in order, first, to recapitulate successfully the failed life of the first Adam and then to pioneer or blaze the trail of man into heaven (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5, cf. Mt. 19:17,21; Heb. 12:2).

The Creator’s Change in Relationship

On this assumption, however, God the Creator also changed his relationship to the Word and served as his Father. While it is true that God is presented metaphorically in the OT as the husband and the father of Israel collectively, the teaching that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is exclusively characteristic of the NT and appears to derive from the incarnate Son himself. (6* While it is true that as Creator, God is dimly seen as universal Father on the natural level, Acts 17:29, it is only as the Re-creator of the regenerate that he is properly acknowledged as Father and especially as that of Jesus, his (‘natural’) human Son.)

Unavoidable Incarnation

In clarification of all this, we must ask again why the incarnation was necessary. According to Jesus, in freely devising a plan of salvation the Creator God by the Spirit was seeking true worshippers to worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:23f., cf. Acts 17:27). But in so doing he nonetheless always intended that he himself should serve as his people’s Saviour (cf. Isa. 45:14-25). It was to manifest his love, grace and glory in redemption from sin on the one hand and to prevent boasting and promote gratitude and praise on the other. But what is truly amazing is his modus operandi or the way he put all this into effect. First, he created all mortal animals (2:7; 2:19; 3:19,22) out of the naturally corruptible earth (dust), but, second, he additionally made man in his image with the capacity to take on both his moral and generic likeness as his son (child).

Man Sinful

Next, he made the precondition of eternal life the perfect fulfilment of the law. Since this would prove impossible for the natural man and all under the law would be consigned to sin (Eccl. 7:20; John 7:19; Rom. 5:12; Gal. 3:22, etc.), he came in the person of his Son to achieve it. (7* Notably, in the flesh, Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14.) Thus, having pleased his Father by uniquely keeping the law, Jesus was regenerated at his baptism by the Spirit (Mt. 3:13-17) and qualified to redeem those who believed in him by giving his flesh like a spotless Lamb in death (1 Pet. 1:18f.) to bring about the forgiveness of their sins (Eph. 1:7-10). (8* If Jesus had remained under the law, he would have remained under permanent obligation himself. Only as born again of the Spirit could he give his flesh in sacrifice for sin and take it again, John 10:17f.; only as the regenerate Son was he in a position to offer himself freely, cf. Mt. 17:24-27; Eph. 2:10.) Once he had finished his work (John 19:30, cf. 17:4), had conquered death and had achieved final victory in ascension transformation (1 Cor. 15:53; 2 Tim. 1:10), he was qualified as man perfected in the image of God to sit at his Father’s right hand (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). There, he had to wait until his enemies had been made a stool for his feet and then to take his people into his Father’s house (John 14:2, cf. Mt. 22:1-10; 25:1-13; Eph. 2:19). (9* In the parable, the prodigal son surely symbolized the sinful sheep for whom Jesus died. Regrettably, the elder brother has been given a bad press by the commentators, but it should be noted in light of Luke 15:29,31 that he equally surely symbolized the sinless Jesus himself who never left his Father’s house as a sinner like the prodigal, John 8:34f. If the sinless son, alias the elder brother, cf. Heb. 2:10-13, had not joined the family party, cf. Heb. 12:22-24, there would in reality never have been one at all. For no one comes to the Father but by him, John 14:6. See further my Re-Instating the Elder Son.)

Another Helper

This, however, raises the question of what happened to the sheep for whom the Saviour died once he had left them to return to his Father. Though their sins were pardoned through faith in him, they still had to face all the challenges of this futile (Rom. 8:20), obsolescent (2 Cor. 4:16-18; Heb. 1:10-12) world of trial and tribulation (John 17:11; Acts 14:22; Gal. 1:4), not to mention the wrath and opposition of the devil himself who prowled about like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). However, Jesus had promised that he would not leave his disciples as orphans (children without parents, John 14:18), but would send them another Helper (Paraclete) who stemmed from his Father’s side (John 15:26) as Eve had stemmed from the side of Adam who was the image of God (Gen. 2:21-23). And just as Eve like Adam was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) but served as his helper, so the Holy Spirit who was also God took on the role of Helper of the Creator God himself. After all, she was active at creation (Gen. 1:2) and also at Jesus’ natural birth (Luke 1:35). But while Scripture teaches that Jesus like the rest of mankind was born of woman (10* Woman symbolized and recapitulated the role of mother earth and was dust, that is, flesh, Gen. 3:20, 1 Cor. 11:7.), it also teaches that as the true Adam or Son of God (Rom. 5:14), having kept the law which was the precondition of eternal life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5), he was born again of God (John 1:13, Father) and of the Spirit (John 3:3-7, Mother) at his baptism (Mt. 3:13-17, etc.). After all the Spirit is by definition the giver of life (John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).

The Dove

At this point it is important to note that the Spirit is represented as descending like a dove (Mt. 3:16), a gentle, innocent, presumably female creature (Mt. 10:16), noticeably active at creation (Gen. 1:2) and at renewal after the flood where it is referred to as ‘the dove’ (Gen. 8:8-12, LXX).

We are reminded at this point of Isaac Watts’ hymn:

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all Thy quickening powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.

Furthermore, the Spirit is active like a mother not only at both the birth (Luke 1:35) and rebirth (Luke 3:22) of Jesus but also at his offering of himself without blemish through the eternal Spirit to his Father God at the completion of his work on the cross (Heb. 9:14).

A Problem

If the Holy Spirit was the Helper (ESV) of our Holy Creator God recapitulated by Eve the wife of Adam, the image of God (1 Cor. 11:7), why is the Spirit referred to as ‘he’ in John 14-16? Here, we must remind ourselves of the difference between the immanent and the economic Trinities. The latter involved a freely adopted change in relationships to accomplish a purpose, that is, the salvation of man by means of the incarnation, atonement and marriage of the Son. Secondly, we must remember that when Jesus taught his early disciples about Another Helper (John 14:16), the Spirit had not yet been given (John 7:39) and his/her (pneuma is neuter in Greek) person and work not yet fully revealed and understood (cf. John 14:26; 16:12-14). But this is to understate the issue. What Jesus actually says is that his hearers cannot bear many of his teachings at this immature stage of their spiritual pilgrimage (John 16:12) but will be taught later by the coming Spirit of truth. (11* The importance of this becomes clearer when we consider that the Jews, like the Greeks, Romans and especially the Muslims at a later stage, were thoroughly patriarchal, even chauvinistic, in their attitude and did not rate women very highly. Sometimes they even regarded them as little better than uncircumcised slaves!) Here, commentators doubtless rightly stress the personhood rather than the gender of the helper who as such is ‘that one’ (Gk ekeinos, which is masculine, John 14:26, etc.) in the interim. (12* Gordon Fee helpfully stresses the personhood of the Spirit in chapter 3 of his book.) The suggestion is that the Person of the Spirit was a ‘mystery’ in earlier times (cf. Eph. 3:9: Col. 1:26) and only fully revealed after Jesus had accomplished his work (John 14:26; 15:26).

(There is perhaps another reason why the Spirit was something of a mystery in early times. After all, the Jews were committed monotheists (Dt. 6:4) and if the Trinity as such was a difficult pill to swallow, how much more the full doctrine of the Spirit.)


In Romans 8:26, however, Paul with a somewhat different, later and fuller perspective refers to the Spirit ‘itself’ (Gk auto) as interceding (like a mother groaning as she gives birth, Rom. 8:22; 2 Cor. 5:1-5, cf. Gal. 4:19; John 16:19-22), on the basis of her Son’s finished work. This inference is confirmed in Romans 8:12-17, especially when the apostle says that it is the leading and witness of the Spirit precisely which convinces us that we have the Spirit of sonship and are the children of God. Indeed, Romans 8:9 indicates that if we lack the Spirit we don’t belong at all (cf. John 3:3-7; Eph. 1:14). On the other hand, if we do, we are also heirs along with Christ whose nature we share as those who are born again of the Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4). We all together, brothers and sisters alike, have one origin (Heb. 2:11-13, cf. Mt. 12:50). Whereas Adam and Eve emanated from the earth and were in effect born of woman, Jesus and his bride emanated from heaven and were born of the Spirit. As Jesus plainly taught, what is born of the flesh (woman) is flesh, what is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).

Ephesians 5:22-32

Above all, it is vital to remember Ephesians 5:22-32 where Paul insists that marriage is a profound mystery (revealed or open secret). From this we are led to infer by the analogy of faith that just as (mother) Eve submitted (was subordinate) to (father) Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 11:7), and (mother) Sarah to (father) Abraham (1 Pet. 3:6), so the Helper Spirit was subordinate to God the Father who exercised headship, even as she interceded on our behalf (Rom. 8:26f.) at the behest of both Father and Son (John 15:26). But more to the point, Paul here implies that the archetypal marriage is that between Christ and the church, which consists of all those born of the Spirit, who together form one body. Human marriage is but a pale reflection of the real thing. It was Jesus, the Word, who established the pattern when he as Son left Father and Mother in heaven with the intention of holding fast to his wife, becoming one spirit with her (1 Cor. 6:17, cf. Eph. 4:4-6) and by so doing elevating her to glory (Heb. 2:10).

Sarah and Hagar

Mention of Sarah reminds us that in Paul’s allegory (Gal. 4:21-31) she was the spiritual free woman who is our mother as the heavenly Jerusalem in contrast with the fleshly slave woman, Hagar, who is cast out (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 4:30f.). By this we ourselves are prompted to assume that though naturally born of woman and hence mortal flesh, as born of the Spirit we are eternal spirit (cf. John 3:6; 1 Pet. 4:6). Thus in heaven we have glorious spiritual as opposed to fleshly bodies (1 Cor. 15:44-50) like that of Jesus (Phil. 3:21) and are hence fitted to become his heavenly bride and one body with him. It is in this way that the gap between man and God is bridged. Since Jesus is both God and man, he serves as our only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).

In clarification of this it is important to emphasize that all believers are ultimately born again of the Spirit and thereby together become God’s (spiritual) children (Heb. 2:13; 1 John 3:1-3). As such, they are also the children of Sarah who is the Jerusalem above. Yet according to the book of Revelation (21:2,9) the New Jerusalem is not a mother but a bride. How can she be both mother and bride? On earth she is certainly the mother of believers just as Abraham was their father (Gal. 3:7,9,14,29). But in heaven they are all her children and readily constitute a fitting bride for Jesus as the new Jerusalem. Jesus the Son did not marry flesh (cf. Isaac who was forbidden to marry a Canaanite woman, Gen. 24) but he did marry spirit, and thus groom (husband) and bride (wife) became one (1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 4:4). To clarify yet further, the triune God himself had established the pattern man was to follow (13* Compare the tabernacle, Ex. 25:40; Heb. 8:1-6.), for as Son, the Word had left Father (Creator) and Mother (Holy Spirit) to hold fast to his wife and become one spirit with her (Eph. 5:29-32). And so together they formed the household of God promised long before to David (2 Sam. 7; Ps. 89).


In my opinion the traditional view involving the idea of the Father being the fons divinitatis and the Son being eternally generated harbours some serious misconceptions and prompts equally serious questions. First, it lacks evident biblical support. Second, it appears to confuse the immanent and economic Trinities. In fact, it pushes the economic Trinity back into remote eternity and in effect erodes the distinction between old and new covenants. Next, it implies eternal subordinationism which derogates from the humiliation and hence the exaltation of the Son. It would also appear to jeopardise the doctrine of the Trinity as such, since the inherent equality of the persons of the immanent Trinity is brought into question. What is more, it is unduly and unacceptably patriarchal in that it lacks the necessary matriarchal element evident in Genesis 1:27 (cf. the fifth commandment and the role played by Mary). In 1 Corinthians 11:7 there is evidence of subordination, but just as it is usually contended that the subordination of Jesus in the NT is functional, so we must assume that the subordination of woman is likewise functional even if we accept male headship. Not without reason did Paul write Galatians 3:28 (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12f.; Eph. 2:18; 4:4; Col. 3:11; Mt. 12:46-50; Rev. 5:10; 7:9).

It is an obvious implication of Scripture that sons and children (boys and girls) in general have both male and female parents. On the natural level the parentage (God and Mary) of Jesus is clear. It ought to be so when we consider his change from Word to Son as such. In other words, he could not become a Son unless he had both Father and Mother.

The view canvassed above would seem to be more securely based on the teaching of the Bible than the traditional one. The notion that the immanent Trinity, the triune living God, freely purposed in their love to create men and women in their image, redeem them and make them their adopted children is powerfully impressive. It is even more so when we consider that it was at the cost of their own humiliation by changing their relationships to form the economic Trinity. It means that the Word who became the Son left his Father and Mother in search of a Bride. And that Bride is the people of God or the church bought at a stupendous price. In their marriage they are united forever in one Spirit (Eph. 4:4f.) and so become joint-heirs (Rom. 8:17) in God’s household and kingdom.

As born again we, the fleshly posterity of Adam and Eve, are baptised in the (one) name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). God is one but along with him are his spiritual children (Rom. 8:15-17; 1 John 3:1-3) who form the Bride of Christ (John 17:22f.). (Paul refers to one man, Eph. 2:15; 4:13. In mankind’s maturity in Christ women gain their rightful place as equals, Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 11:11; 12:13; Gal. 3:28.)

The means of salvation turns out to be marriage in the household of God (Heb. 2:10-13; Mt. 22:1-10; 25:1-13; Rev. 18:6-9; 21:9-22:5, cf. John 17:3). Through the enlightenment of the Spirit and union with Jesus, man becomes one with Father God (John 17 passim; Eph. 3:14f.). In the end God, the alpha and omega, is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).


  1. In actual fact, Sarah was not born again but she gave birth to Isaac the child of promise supernaturally by faith. As Hebrews 11 makes clear, however, all OT believers are eventually perfected (born again) (Heb. 11:39f.).
  2. As the image of God man and woman imitate or recapitulate the action of God (Isa. 45:10 and 1 Cor. 11:7). The real world and hence the real marriage is the heavenly one.
  3. In his essay A Puritan Perspective in GOD the Holy Trinity, ed. George, not without reason does J.I.Packer regard Reformed theology as Father-fixated and charismatic theology as Spirit-fixated (p.108). This would suggest that John Owen’s stress on the equality of the persons of the Trinity fell short of that presented in Scripture. But then, so long as there is failure to distinguish adequately between the immanent and the economic Trinities this is bound to happen. What is more, the idea that there was an eternal consensus between Father and Son whereby the Father appointed the Son to become incarnate (p.101) is only a half-truth. Surely the consensus was arrived at by means of a covenant of redemption in which all three persons of the immanent Trinity played their part and freely divided their labour as the economic Trinity. It is only as the latter that the Creator becomes the Father, the Word the Son and the Spirit, by implication, the Mother (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14).
  4. It is a matter of fact that the doctrine of the Spirit has been neglected in the course of church history and women unnecessarily subjugated until the rise of the modern charismatic movement. While allowing for functional subordination, it is perhaps time now for women the world over to be fully recognized as made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27; Gal. 3:28). They have surely proved that they are true helpers (cf. 1 Cor. 11:11f.) not least on the missionary field (Rom. 16, etc.). (14* It is an interesting fact that the contribution of helpers is recognized by David in 1 Samuel 30:24.)
  5. Gordon Fee powerfully underscores the full deity and Trinitarian membership of the Spirit. He points out, however, that while the Spirit is never prayed to he (?) is our divine pray-er, the one through whom we pray and not the one to whom we pray (p.151 n.7).
  6. It is ironic that the excessively patriarchal Roman Catholic Church has wrongly made mother Mary instead of Mother Spirit the primary intercessor (mediatrix) on behalf of its members. In Scripture, Christ with the help of the Spirit, who understands the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13), intercedes for the saints (John 14:16; Rom. 8:23,26f.; Eph. 2:18; 6:18). Mary as a creature is as much in need of a Helper as the rest of us.

Culminating Point

If the argument above holds, there is final point to make. I remarked at the beginning of this article that the immanent Trinity of God, the Word and the Spirit was sexless or genderless. Jesus points out that though the sons of this age marry and (daughters) are given in marriage, those who are considered worthy to attain to the age to come neither marry nor are given in marriage (Luke 20:34). In other words, in heaven there is no sex or gender (cf. Gal. 3:28). Since salvation has been achieved, the tally completed (Heb. 11:39f.; Rev. 6:11) and there is no death (Luke 20:36; Heb. 7:23), procreation, and hence sex, is wholly unnecessary. Once transformation has been achieved and the marriage feast celebrated, God’s household like his kingdom is complete, perfect, unified and has its full complement of children (alias the church or bride). Then, once the Son as son has himself been subjected, God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28, cf. 3:23; 11:3; Heb. 12:27).


R.K.Durst, REORDERING THE TRINITY, Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2015.

Gordon D. Fee, Paul, the Spirit and the People of God, Peabody, 1996.

T. George, ed., GOD the Holy Trinity, Grand Rapids, 2006.

Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, Leicester/Downers Grove, 1975.

A Human Illustration

To provide a human illustration, the immanent Triune God acted like a human young man and woman who in their mutual love freely decide to marry and change their relationship by becoming husband and wife. As the epitome or essence of love (cf. 1 John 4:8; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 13:11), they then decide to share their love and glory with children. But to accomplish this they must change their relationships again and become father and mother. Boy and girl must leave father and mother and become husband and wife. When their marriage is consummated by fleshy union, they produce children. In this way, they form their household.

The Theological Picture

Theologically speaking, when the immanent Trinity decided to share their love and create children in their own image out of the earth, God became Creator, the Spirit became Mother and the Word became Son (cf. Isaiah 45:9f.; 1 Cor. 11). In other words, they as the economic Trinity divided their labour. In order to identify with man, the Word had to become a man. He then had to take the place of first Adamic man, who as the type in the purpose of God failed, and become the successful second or real Adam who kept the law (cf. John 8:34f.; Rom. 5:14), the precondition of eternal spiritual life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5). Thus, as 1 Corinthians 15:42-50 indicate, the first Adam or man of dust had to be demolished in order to establish by transformation (1 Cor. 15:50-53) the second (Heb. 10:9). However, mere identification by incarnation with man was insufficient. Atonement for sin was the unavoidable next step. Then once purification was accomplished and transformation and heavenly session achieved (Heb. 1:3), union in marriage was indispensable (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 14:4). In this way, they sit together on the throne of the Father (Rev. 3:21).

The assumption of man into heaven necessitated nothing less than this (1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 4:30).


In the OT just as Joseph in whom was the Spirit of God (Gen. 41:38) became lord of all Egypt, had access to Pharaoh (cf. Eph. 2:18) and rescued his people, so Esther as God’s chosen Queen (cf. 4:14b) could approach the unapproachable King Ahasuerus (Esth. 4:11, cf. 1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 12:29) and plead (intercede) successfully on behalf of her people (4:9, cf. Rom. 8:26). Esther was of course urged on by Mordecai (cf. Rom. 15:26) who became great (Esth. 10:3) like Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 41:40) and Jesus himself (1 Cor. 15:27f.).


In eternity we have God the immanent or essential Trinity.

In time we have the economic Trinity in whose image mankind, that is, man and woman, is made.

With a view to the salvation of man who is both flesh (corruptible nature) and sinful (character), the Word divests himself of his incommunicable invisible attributes (Rom. 1:20) and becomes incarnate. By so doing as Son he leaves his Father and Mother in heaven and identifies himself with those he intends to save. Thus, having descended and achieved eternal life by uniquely keeping the law, he is able to ascend with his purified bride in train (John 3:13; Eph. 4:9f.). Having become one in spirit, they remain indissolubly united forever (1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 4:4). In this way God’s eternal love is permanently expressed (1 Cor. 13:8; 1 John 3:1f.).

The heavenly household or family consists of Father, Mother, Son and daughter-in-law including children (Heb. 2:13; Rev. 7:9-12). In this we rejoice (1 John 3:1-3).

Note on circumcision

Except in the case of Abraham and proselytes circumcision signifies law (John 7:22f.; Gal. 5:3). However, though it was applied to all Jewish boys on the eighth day (Lev. 12:3), it did not come into effect till a boy’s bar mitzvah at age thirteen when he ceased to be tied to his mother’s apron strings and took on personal responsibility. Girls of course were not circumcised at all and so, like Gentiles, were not strictly speaking under the law. This is important as Paul indicates in Romans 2:25-27. In verse 26 he asserts that if those who are uncircumcised keep the law, their uncircumcision is reckoned as circumcision. If this is the case, it follows that uncircumcised girls who obey the principles of the law will be justified. In other words, their obedience will stem from faith and they will be true daughters of Abraham (cf. Luke 13:16) who had faith inspired by the Spirit apart from circumcision (Rom. 2:28f.; Gal. 3:14,28f.). As the apostle makes plain in Galatians 5:6, since the circumcised could not keep the law, all circumcised (men) and uncircumcised (Gentile men and all women) were justified by faith, baptised and born of the Spirit. Expressed otherwise, a woman like a Gentile believer could be a true Jew apart from physical circumcision and so become part of the true Israel (Gal. 6:13-16; Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11-15). No wonder the council of Jerusalem rejected the circumcision of Gentiles (Acts 15, cf. Gal. 2). Of course, as the apostle points out in Romans 3:31, those who exercise faith uphold the law.


Why the Coronavirus?

We have heard on various occasions that the virus instigating a worldwide plague was let loose whether deliberately or accidentally in Wuhan in China. While it is useful, even intriguing if question-begging, to know this, as an explanation it hardly satisfies the Christian mind. For those whose faith is theistic, scientific or medical descriptions of natural data tend to sell us short. They tell us how certain things occur, but they do not tell us why. But if it is true that God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11) and that all things work together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28), it is difficult to deny that the ultimate cause of the virus is God himself who according to Paul deliberately subjected creation to futility (Rom. 8:20). (1* On this see my article Summary of the Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25.)

A well-known illustration of the point I am making occurs in 1 Samuel 17 which tells us the story of David and Goliath, the Philistine giant. The superficial ‘scientific’ explanation of David’s triumph is that he was skilled at using a sling and pebbles, but even before he put his weapons to use David asserted that the living God of Israel does not save with earthly weapons such as swords and spears but by his own power (1 Sam. 17:37,47). (2* Compare Paul who reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are not flesh but divine power, 2 Cor. 10:4.) How different is the attitude of David from that of Muhammad Ali who after slaying ‘giants’ in the boxing arena regularly boasted that he was the greatest. All glory to him!

Modern atheistic scientists often adopt much the same stance. Solutions to our present ‘natural’ problems are assumed to rest solely with us, that is, with mankind. Thus the frantic search to find a vaccine and get back to normal godless living occupies their mental horizon. People in general do not appear to be asking why we have to endure the coronavirus but what we can do to get to the other side of it as quickly as possible. But this attitude may well rest on superficial analysis of the situation and be a recipe for ultimate disaster. In a world that we believe was created by, belongs to and is ruled by God (Ex. 19:4f.), we must ask why the present coronavirus has arisen to plague us at this point in time in 2020.

Of course, this is not the first time that the world has been assailed by plagues: think of the Black Death and the Spanish Flu to mention but two. It is therefore instructive to glean lessons initially from perhaps the most famous set of plagues described in Scripture, the ten that affected Pharaoh’s Egypt towards the end of the Israelites’ period of slavery. According to Scripture, God’s chosen people were being persecuted and ill-treated, and God heard their cries for help (Ex. 2:23-25). As a consequence he sent Moses and empowered him to rescue his people. While the plagues were intended to bring Pharaoh to repentance, they were also a manifestation of divine grace. They were in fact a means of revelation. After all, since the Egyptians had their own gods, it was vital that they learned of the one true God who created and ruled the world. Thus we read time and again that Pharaoh is told that God’s intention is to make it plain that there is no one like the LORD (Ex. 7:17; 8:10,22) and that it is he who is obviously at work (8:19; 9:14-16,29) in the world. Indeed, God’s harsh treatment of the Egyptians is meant to be a revelation also to the Israelites themselves (Ex. 10:2, cf. 16:6,12). In order to press home his point, God makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the children of Israel (Ex. 8:23; 9:4; 11:7). Furthermore, once Pharaoh shows signs of repentance Moses even intercedes on Pharaoh’s behalf (Ex. 8:28f., etc.). In the end, as Paul reminds us in Romans 9:17, an unrepentant Pharaoh serves God’s purpose of proclaiming his power in all the earth. Egypt is ruined (Ex. 10:7), its gods judged (Ex. 12:12) and the slaves are freed. Eventually, despite fear or recognition of God by some Egyptians (Ex. 9:20), the wall of separation which is set up (Ex. 8:23; 11:7, cf. Lev. 20:24,26) serves its purpose at the time but has to be overcome at a later date (Eph. 2).

So, then, proper analysis of the Egyptian plagues teaches us that our creator God is a God of grace and compassion. Though his ultimate intention is to reveal himself by rescuing his people (Ex. 7:5), his initial purpose is not to punish and destroy Pharaoh (and modern Pharaohs like him) but to reveal himself to him, to give him an opportunity to repent. In doing this he shows much patience (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9) and sends nine warning plagues (in contrast with the mere six described as trumpets in Revelation 8-11) that do not produce what Scripture calls a ‘full end’ (e.g. Jer. 4:27). These provide Pharaoh with a way of escape which he fails to take.

By contrast with the Egyptian plagues, the one recorded in 1 Samuel 5 and 6, which describes how God’s severe hand against false religion and Philistine idolatry brought death and tumours (5:7,11f., cf. Ex. 9:8-12), led to repentance of a sort. The Philistines were perhaps realising that cursing Abraham inevitably brought a divine reaction (Gen. 12:3) as it did eventually in Hitler’s case many years later. This perhaps points the way in 2020. If, as suggested above, the present coronavirus is a warning to a godless, even idolatrous world, then repentance is what is called for in addition to the medical measures we see so earnestly and rightly being undertaken now.

First, it should be noted, as is regularly pointed out in Christian literature, that persecution of Christians in the twentieth century has exceeded that of all previous centuries and, while God is showing his displeasure, in his concern and compassion for the worldly wayward he is also sounding an alarm.

Next, even in my own lifetime in the West, there has been a notable diminution of commitment to faith on the one hand and a deliberate pursuit of the pleasures of the flesh on the other. But all the latter can produce is a harvest of corruption (Gal. 6:8). In fact, man is appearing more and more like a sophisticated animal doomed to certain death rather than one created in the image of God on the way to eternal life in the heavenly city. While philosophical or theoretical atheism may not be all that widespread, practical atheism like that referred to in Psalms 10:4 and 14:1 (cf. Rom. 1:18) most certainly is. God has been eclipsed, virtually banished from his own creation, and is hardly regarded as a serious consideration even when death is imminent.

But apart from God’s grace and patience towards Pharaoh, the Egyptians should have learnt, as we in our time ought to learn, that their contemporary “scientific” experts, though making a significant impression (Ex. 7:11,22; 8:7), were at the end of the day incapable of dealing definitively with the crisis. By the time the third plague had made its point, they had to admit that God himself was at work (Ex. 8:19). Despite this, Pharaoh was unmoved: he simply refused to repent. (3* Though God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart, 9:12, etc., we do well to note that Pharaoh stubbornly hardened his own heart, Ex. 7:13f.,22; 8:15, etc. Thus he reaped what he sowed, Gal. 6:7, like the Jews themselves at a later date, Isa. 65:6f.; Mt. 23:31-36, etc.)

And so the pattern of deliberate resistance to the purpose of God to redeem his creatures continued in Pharaoh’s time till it brought about the virtual ruination of Egypt (Ex. 10:7) and culminated in the death of the firstborn which was followed inevitably by the release of the chosen people and the destruction of the Egyptian army. All this reminds us, first, of the climax to the trumpet warnings in the book of Revelation which was the inexorable coming of the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15-18). And, secondly, of the ultimate warning given in Hebrews 9:27. Death is an undeniable and universal certainty in a world divinely doomed to decay, but after it, there is the awesome prospect of final judgement which will seal our fate forever. Not without reason did Peter warn his readers faced with the prospect of terminal dissolution in a concluding conflagration and a fiery holocaust to treat the one life we are given with due seriousness (2 Pet. 3:11).

The Modern Churches

This brings us, however, to something else easily missed in the Exodus account, that is, that the plagues are not merely a revelation to the Egyptians of the ultimate accountability to the God of all the earth but also to the Israelites themselves. They too, as the spiritual children they were, needed to be taught about their own ill-understood God. Although he had already revealed his name to them (Ex. 3:13-22), God also intended that they should know that he was the Lord their God (Ex. 6:7; 7:17; 10:2, cf. 16:6-12). While the Israelites, like the Egyptians, suffered to some extent from the ignorance characteristic of immaturity, the same can hardly be said regarding us in our day. We claim that we can see (cf. John 9:41), but the modern Churches have made two catastrophic mistakes: they have largely rejected the word of God, the Bible, as the source of revelation and its manifestation of divine grace on the one hand (liberalism), and they have refused to repent of the traditional or superstitious atavism (ancient orthodoxy) which nullifies the word of God on the other. In other words, they have gone backwards rather than forwards (Jer. 7:24). The inevitable result is often miasmic stagnation at best and reversion, irrelevance and heresy at worst. Even 500 years after the half-Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Catholic bloc has still not accepted it and stubbornly persists in perpetuating its semper eadem (always the same) stance to the detriment of a dynamic faith in the living God. The rest, despite their semper reformanda (always reforming) slogan, steadfastly refuse to repent, move forward and complete the implication of the original half-Reformation of which they claim to be the heirs. At this very moment the people who are called by God’s name apparently do not realize that fire, flood, drought, storm, pestilence and the like abound and that they are called to humble themselves, pray, seek the face of God and turn from their wicked ways as they ask for forgiveness for their sin and the healing of the land (2 Chron. 7:13f.). Even in 2020 the Protestant Churches are blinkered by a false worldview and immersed in a sin-soaked theology inherited from Augustine of Hippo who died in 430 AD. Just how modern leaders with an open Bible in front of them can continue to tolerate and even promote their plainly unbiblical stance dominated by the heretical dogma of original sin is almost beyond rational understanding. If the false gods of the Egyptians were judged, it follows that ours will be too (Ex. 12:12). Little wonder that we still await the conversion of the Jews and even the Muslims, for the Churches which persecuted them in the past remain an impediment and major stumbling-block to them even today.

In the event, we are even now assailed not merely by natural futility (Rom. 8:20) but by environmental convulsions and meteorological disturbances in the hands of an angry God (Mt. 24:3-14), rumours of wars, false religions and philosophies and political persecution. We ignore these warnings at our peril, for they augur worse to come if we continue to fail to acknowledge our redeeming creator God.


So, having been warned, we need to recognize that in contrast with the rest of the animal creation, God has made us in his image and has destined us for eternity, sinners though we are. He will achieve his aim come what may (Rom. 8:31-39), for Jesus did not die in vain (1 John 5:5). We reject his offer on pain of death.

In the end it is difficult to deny that the present worldwide plague is, as the Egyptian magicians eventually realised, the finger of God (Ex. 8:19).

Additional Note

The Churches should note that according to Scripture: (1) judgement begins at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17), and (2) teachers will be judged more strictly than others (Jas. 3:1).

See also my

Augustine: Asset or Liability?

Covenant Theology in Brief

The Redundancy Of Original Sin

Romans 8:18-25 In Brief

The Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25

Summary of the Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25


More Thoughts on Adam

The word ‘Adam’ means both mankind the race (generic name) and an individual man (proper name). At the very beginning of the Bible mankind the race is in view (e.g. Gen. 1:26-28). A little later Adam the individual epitomizes the race in general. (1* This presumably explains the great age of the antediluvians including Adam himself who is said to have died at 930 years old, Gen. 5:5. The truth is that the individual and the race or tribe largely correspond. In other words, the Bible teaches that ontogeny, the individual, recapitulates phylogeny, the tribe. Thus individuals like Adam and Noah are prominent members, if not the eponymous heroes, of their tribe.)

Man is not created perfect, that is, complete or fully mature as our Augustinian tradition usually implies. Rather he begins as seed (cf. sperm, Jer. 2:21; Heb. 7:10; John 1:13) in the ground (Gen. 2:7; 3:19,23; Ps. 139:15) which God the Creator ‘marries’ (cf. Isa. 62:4). Though man is regarded as dust (cf. Ps. 78:39; 103:14; Isa. 31:3, etc.), he is actually dualistic since he is also made in the image of God (I Cor. 15:47-49). But it is as seed that Adam was transferred to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8,15), the womb of the race, to gestate (cf. Ps. 139:13) to physical maturity like an animal. As Paul says much later, the flesh (dust) precedes the spirit (1 Cor. 15:46), for the pattern was established at the beginning. In light of this, the conclusion we are compelled to draw is that Adam (mankind) lived in ignorance like an animal for an unknown length of time after his creation. It was only at the end of his gestation (evolution) in the Garden that he acquired knowledge and intelligent self-consciousness and was able to receive the commandment. The inference we should surely draw from this is not so much that his sin prompted his ‘birth’, that is, his expulsion from the Garden womb, but his acquisition of God-like knowledge (Gen. 3:22). As we are all well aware, this is what happens at our own birth. Or does it? Not quite. We must enter a caveat at this point and allow for certain differences or a mutatis mutandis.

It is of vital importance for us to recognize that Adam (the individual) did not exactly recapitulate the experience of Adam (mankind/the race) as belief that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny might lead us believe. (2* It is interesting that Paul presents Jesus, despite the stress on his being born of woman (Virgin Birth) elsewhere, Gal. 4:4, as descending into the lower parts of the earth like Adam in Ephesians 4:9.) For Adam (mankind/the race) is depicted in Genesis 3 as physically mature but spiritually infantile while we his descendants begin our course as infantile both physically and spiritually. In other words, Adam (the race) was initially an animal among animals (cf. Gen. 2:19; 3:19,23). And just as animals in general differ (cf. Gen. 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:39), so Adam as made in the image of God differed from the rest. Thus what happened at creation differed somewhat from what occurred at procreation. Whereas at creation God was universal Father (Acts 17:28) and the earth universal mother, at procreation, man as the primary image of God was father and woman, his glory, mother (Gen. 3:20; 1 Cor. 11:7-12, cf. Isa. 45:9f.). (3* To guard against false inferences the reader is warned to appreciate the fact that God is a Father in two senses: first, he is our physical Creator and, second, he is our spiritual Re-creator. At the beginning he provides for our physical birth, only later does he bring about our second or spiritual birth, John 1:12f.)

At the beginning then Adam as both race and individual was like a baby. He knew nothing and so was morally innocent. While the church has always recognized that man was not created sinful, it has nonetheless taught that he was originally righteous. But according to Paul without (the) law (commandment) he could be neither sinful nor righteous (Rom. 6:16, cf. 2 Pet. 2:19f.). Tragically the church has failed to appreciate that this is also true of babies today. Their ignorance guarantees their moral innocence and they are not the unwitting victims of original sin. As Paul, for example, asserts unequivocally, where there is no law (or understanding) there is neither sin nor righteousness (Rom. 4:15, cf. 6:16). And the apostle clearly implies that he himself followed the pattern established by Adam, for like Adam before him he was ‘alive’ until he received the commandment and then broke it (Rom. 7:9f.). (4* See my Law and Sin; No Law No Sin.)

Again, like an animal or an innocent baby that is blissfully ignorant, Adam in paradise fed on fruit (Gen. 2:16, cf. 3:6). He did not even know he was naked, but once he realised that he was, he and Eve sought to cover themselves with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). Clearly Adam and Eve, like the babies they were on the spiritual if not the physical level, were in the process of developing increasing intelligence or self-consciousness. This fact becomes even plainer as the story progresses. Adam’s sin proved that he now had knowledge, for as Paul says where there is no law (i.e. knowledge and understanding) there is no sin (Rom. 4:15; 7:7f.). However, since sin attracts punishment, our first parents were expelled from the idyllic Garden and introduced to the naturally harsh, inhospitable world outside which is unaffected by sin.

Tradition, however, has misconceived the nature of the situation by assuming that an originally perfect world underwent a dramatic constitutional change as a consequence of Adam’s transgression. Even today in the 21st century creeds and confessions teach that our first parents lost their original righteousness, ‘fell’ from their initial perfection and, since they were the designated lords of creation, instigated a ‘fallen’ creation. The truth is, of course, that the world that confronted Adam and Eve was the same as the one created by God at the beginning: it was according to Paul subjected to futility by divine design (Rom. 8:20) irrespective of sin. As Genesis 1:28 indicates, the plan was that it should be subdued by man made in the image of God. Thus Adam’s task was to till the ground out of which he came (Gen. 2:15, etc.), to eat its fruit in general (Gen. 1:29) while avoiding things that were prohibited (cf. Gen. 2:9,16f.). In exercising his dominion he had to master the sin that crouched at his door (Gen. 4:7). In other words as later teaching makes plain, he had to tame or subdue his environment on the one hand (cf. James 3:7-12) and to be obedient by keeping the commandment on the other (cf. Rom. 2:6-10). In light of this it is by no means surprising that at a much later date Paul has to deal with both affliction stemming from nature and persecution arising from opposition to his faith in Christ (see e.g. Acts 27; 2 Cor. 4:8f.; 6:4-10; 11:21-28; 12:7-10, compare Mt. 13:21).

Genesis 3:15-19

With regard to Adam and Eve, however, Genesis 3:15-19 indicates, first, that rational man is engaged willy-nilly in a battle between good and evil but that despite the reality of the struggle ultimate victory lies with good. (5* In Christian terms, this means that despite being seriously wounded, Christ will ultimately defeat the devil.)

Genesis 3:16 is important because it teaches first that like Adam who as noted above epitomized mankind, Eve also is a corporate figure encapsulating women in general. We know this because her pain in childbirth is said to increase. Regarded as an individual there is no indication that she has ever given birth and so has never known the pain involved. So if her pain increased, she must have gained some element or premonition of it in her earlier animal existence during which she knew neither good nor evil. But the point is that her increase in pain was not the result of sin but of the knowledge that inevitably accompanies sin. (6* As babies, even though we feel pain and cry as a consequence, we do not know it. Consciousness of it increases as we gain knowledge.)

So far as Adam himself is concerned, Genesis 3:17 indicates that his ability to sin has brought him knowledge also, and, instead of enjoying the blissful ignorance of life in paradise, he now has to grapple in full consciousness with a futile creation. The world he has now consciously entered, is intractable and difficult to cultivate. It has to be worked or tilled as it has even today. Today, however, after years of labour-intensive living by our more immediate ancestors, we have tractors and the like to ease the burden and lighten the toil. For the third world, as we call it, life is still largely slave- or at best serf-like (cf. Gal. 4:1f.).

Far from implying that Adam’s sin caused the growth of thorns and thistles as part of the curse, Genesis 3:18 simply tells us that as a natural part of our futile environment, they had to be dealt with like all weeds. (7* Cf. 2 Samuel 23:6f., the degenerate Canaanites who had to be uprooted from the Promised Land and the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13.) During Adam’s early life in the Garden, weeds were doubtless thriving in the uninhabited, untilled world but he like animals and babies even today was ignorant of them. Once he had gained rational self-consciousness, however, they became a problem which had to be overcome and that with difficulty (cf. Gen. 1:28). Unless he tilled the ground, it proved weed-ridden and barren like the field of the sluggard (Prov. 24:30-34, cf. Luke 13:6-9). (8* Alternatively expressed, it became a desolation. This word is familiar especially in the OT and is used not only of uninhabited hence unproductive land but of women who fail for one reason or another to bear children, e.g. Tamar, 2 Sam. 13:20, cf. Jephthah’s daughter who bewailed her virginity, Jud. 11:37-40.) Life for early man, even most modern men prior to the industrial revolution was labour intensive and constituted a challenge of no small proportion. Only aristocrats who kept slaves were to some extent shielded from the toil and trouble, trial and tribulation experienced by the majority (cf. Job 5:6f.; 7:1; 14:1; Acts 14:22).

Finally, Genesis 3:19 is a warning even to us in the 21st century that after a life of labour enforced by our need of food (cf. Prov. 16:26; Eccl. 6:7; 2 Thes. 3:10), we all have an appointment with death (cf. Job 14:1f.; Heb. 9:27). Thus though there was death in paradise, Adam and Eve as ignorant animals (cf. babies) knew nothing of it. After all, as Paul says, it had no sting (1 Cor. 15:56); it was entirely natural as with all the beasts and plants of the earth (cf. Num. 16:29; Ps. 49:12,20; Eccl. 3:18-21).

The Curse

At this point questions regarding the curse are prompted. If creation’s futility is natural, where does the curse, which is undeniably taught in Genesis (e.g. 3:17), fit in? First, we must understand it was not ‘cosmic’ as tradition teaches. While it is true that so far as man himself is concerned all sin results in a curse (cf. Gal. 3:10-13; Heb. 2:2), if we accept the futility and corruptibility of the earth as being natural (see e.g. Ps. 102:25f.), it becomes easier to recognize the fact that the curse on the ground rose from man’s failure to exercise his dominion. Adam was required from the start to till the ground he inhabited but like the sluggard in Proverbs 24:30-34 he failed. The result was a virtual return to chaos (cf. Isa. 24:4-6; Jer. 4:22-27). The picture remains the same to this day. (9* I have nowhere seen the situation better described than by John Stott who wrote: “‘Nature’ is what God gives us, ‘culture’ (or cultivation) is what we do with it. Without a human cultivator, every garden or field quickly degenerates into a wilderness”, p.193. Since his outlook was strongly Augustinian, Stott failed to apply his obviously true statement to Genesis 3. Believing that Adam’s sin against the commandment/law brought about a permanent cosmic curse and a ‘fallen’ creation, he assumed its eventual redemption. But if the human body of flesh reflects creation in miniature and is destroyed, 1 Cor. 15:50, so is the ground from which it stems. See further my John Stott on the Putative Resurrection Transformation of Jesus.)

But if the earth is permanently cursed, why didn’t we experience it early in our own lives? The answer may be that in our infancy we were ignorant of it as well as of everything else. In our conscious childhood, however, we may opine that we had hard-working parents to exercise dominion for us. The truth is, of course, that there was never any cosmic curse resulting from Adam’s sin against the commandment. As we have seen, creation was made corruptible and futile from the beginning. Nonetheless, what is undeniable is that we are blessed or cursed by the legacy left to us by our parents as Exodus 20:5f., and 34:6f., for example, tell us. But this falls well short of the transmission or imputation to us of Adam’s sin and curse as even Romans 5:12-21 properly interpreted indicates (cf. Jer. 31:29f.; Ezek. 18:2f.).

So it is necessary to conclude on the basis of biblical, historical and experiential evidence that while animals can cope with and be satisfied with a futile creation which is their natural habitat, rational man cannot except as he exercises his dominion over it and seeks heavenly glory (Ps. 8; Heb. 2:8f.; Rom. 2:7-10). Man made in the image of God has eternity put into his mind (Eccl. 3:11) and he cannot be fulfilled without it. That is his goal and raison d’etre. For him eternal life is his Creator’s promise (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5; 1 John 2:25).

We have already noted that Adam and Eve used fig leaves when they realized that they were naked. When God ousted them from the Garden womb, however, he himself like the good parent he was provided them with clothing of skins with the obvious intention of protecting them against the rigours of the world outside. This of course is paralleled by the second Adam’s being wrapped in swaddling clothes and our own clothing when we were babies.

Covenant Theology

Perhaps the next thing to note is that even when he had gained intelligence of sorts, no covenant was made with Adam in contrast with Noah at a later date. We may well ask why. The answer would appear to be that he was mentally too immature. After all, a divine covenant, though established unilaterally nonetheless operates bilaterally, even if minimally as in Noah’s case. Mutuality is involved and Adam as just ejected from the Garden womb was incapable of playing a significant role. He responded only to commands somewhat like a dog and that in the event negatively. He may have been physically adult but as we have seen he was not so spiritually. Even doting mothers do not make covenants with or reason with their infants! They simply impose their will on them. (10* See further my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?).

The lack of a covenant surely scuttles the traditional idea that Adam was our covenant representative. Otherwise expressed, the Protestant notion of Adam’s imputed sin is theologically untenable. Adam was representative or archetypal man according to the flesh, as Paul was so well aware (1 Cor. 15:47-49), but never our covenant head. And the idea that the inanimate and inarticulate creation itself was originally covenanted, cursed and headed for redemption is the unfortunate product of erroneous traditional thinking. As Genesis 1:1 indicates, creation had a beginning and so was innately temporal like the flesh its product. It was divinely doomed to futility, corruption and eventual destruction from the start.

This brings us to the covenant with Noah which certainly did involve creation. If it had not, then our salvation, not to mention our history and life experience, would have been forfeit. This is made clear at a later date when creation is preserved and prolonged to accommodate and guarantee the fulfilment of the promises made to David (see Jer. 31:35-37 and 33:19-26). According to the Bible, creation exists not for its own sake but to complete the divine plan of salvation for man. Once that purpose has been achieved and harvest reaped, it will be destroyed (Mt. 3:8-10; 13:30; Heb. 12:27; 2 Pet. 3, etc.). The curse of the flood was not a full end (cf. Jer. 4:23-28) because in his grace God made a covenant with Noah which is still in operation (e.g. Acts 14:17; 17:25). By contrast, that of fire at the end of the age will be final (Zeph. 1:18; Luke 17:26-37, cf. Heb. 6:7f.).

The Gospel

Though Genesis 3:15 is often debated, it seems right to regard it as the protevangelium, the first presentation of the gospel which points to the final outcome, to the triumph of the second or spiritual Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-57). This is true too of Romans 5:12-21. Though the first Adam’s impact on his posterity proved negative, even destructive, it did not involve either the imputation or the transmission of his sin. As Moses taught, we all die for our own sin (Ex. 32:33, cf. Ezek. 18:2f.; Jer. 31:29f.; Rom. 6:23). If this is not the case, even Jesus as a son of Adam (Luke 3:38) would have been guilty. In fact, he remained innocent, kept the law (John 8:46; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22), obtained righteousness and hence new life. This qualified and fitted him to give his flesh (i.e. his first Adamic life) like a spotless lamb in atonement for the sins of those who put their trust in him (1 Pet. 1:18f., cf. Col. 1:22). The tree of man will be saved; only fruitless branches will be lopped off (John 15:6, cf. Mt. 13:40-42).

On the curse, see my articles:

Cosmic Curse?

Supplement to ‘Cosmic Curse?’

Understanding the Curse

Observations on The Curse

Covenant Theology in Brief

Romans 8:18-25 In Brief



J.R.W.Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today, London, 1999.

Summary of the Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25


According to Paul, God himself of set purpose subjected the material creation to futility. In Galatians 1:4 the apostle says that this age is by nature an ‘evil’ age of trial and tribulation (cf. Mark 13:19; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 8:35; 12:12; 1 Pet. 1:6f.; Rev. 7:14). (1* Compare the testing and trouble of righteous Job, 7:17f.; 23:10; 5:6f.; 7:1; 14:1, Psalm 66:10-12 and Ecclesiastes 1:13; 2:18-23; 3:18.) Romans 8:18 bears obvious comparison with 2 Corinthians 4:17.

In Romans 8:18-25 Paul makes no mention of sin which, so far as creation is concerned, is never more than an exacerbating factor. (On the curse, see below.) In any case, the Bible makes it clear that since creation had a beginning, it is by nature temporary and corruptible, that is, subject to age (Heb. 1:10-12) and wear (Col. 2:22). It will eventually come to an end irrespective of sin as Hebrews 12:27 and 2 Peter 3:5-13, for example, plainly confirm. What is naturally perishable cannot inherit the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:50), and since all physically visible things are perishable (2 Cor. 4:18), our hope is an invisible one (Rom. 8:24f.).


Regarding man, first, Adam was formed physically in the ground like the animals (Gen. 2:7,19; 3:19, 23) not knowing good and evil (Gen. 2:16f.; 3:5,22). But, second, he was also created in the image of God (cf. 1 Cor. 15:46). This meant that in contrast with the animals he was eventually able like a baby to acquire knowledge. Proof of this is to be found in his sin, for where there is no law (or knowledge), there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15; 7:8, etc.). To clarify, his sin proved he had gained a degree of understanding and self-awareness, and so his eyes were opened to his immediate surroundings (Gen. 3:7). At this point he and Eve became aware of their nakedness which prompted them to use fig leaves to make loincloths for cover.


Following this, like the infant he was on the mental level, Adam, the individual who epitomised Adam the race, gradually became acquainted with his more general physical environment. In contrast with the idyllic Garden of Eden, the womb of the race where all his needs were met, the world outside the Garden of Eden was to prove harsh, hostile and difficult to deal with (cf. Gen. 1:28). Faced with this prospect, Adam and Eve were given garments of skins to clothe them (Gen. 3:21). Clearly, having become like God (Gen. 3:22, i.e. armed with knowledge), their purely animal (fleshly) existence was coming to an end (cf. Ps. 49:20). They were therefore permanently expelled from the Garden-womb (cf. John 3:4) to till the ground from which they had originally been taken. After all, this was the vocation of man from the beginning (Gen. 1:26,28), regardless of sin.


The idea that the ‘good’ creation was originally perfect and was spoilt by sin is not taught in the Bible but has been inherited along with other ‘lies’ (cf. Jer. 16:19; 1 Pet. 1:18) from the early church and left uncorrected. The physical creation, like the law (Rom. 7:12), may have been ‘good’ or serviceable (Gen. 1:31), as according to the apostle it still is (1 Cor. 10:26,30f.; 1 Tim. 4:3f.) and according to Jesus will be to the end (Luke 17:27f.), but it was never perfect (Ps. 102:25f.; Heb. 7:18f.; 8:7) as Augustine taught. Only God is perfect, and we who are made in his image (capacity) are called to be perfected or to become mature (complete) in that image (Mt. 5:48; Heb. 6:1, etc.). Our calling (Heb. 3:1) and hope are heavenly (Col. 1:5), our prize upward (Phil. 3:14), and our inheritance eternal (Heb. 9:15), imperishable, undefiled and unfading (1 Pet. 1:4).


What about the curse? it may be asked. The curse arose for two reasons: first, man failed to exercise his dominion in part because he was immature and, in any case, he lacked the working parents that we his posterity have; second, because he was a sinner and rebelled against his vocation which was to work (e.g. Gen. 5:29; 4:12; Prov. 24:30-34; Eccl. 2:18-23; 2 Thes. 3:6-12). Uninhabited and/or neglected places were desolate places which remained untilled. They were at best fit for animals (cf. Isa. 7:21-23; 13:20f.; 34:13-17, etc.) but not for man who was in the process of transition from his earthly body of death (Rom. 7:24) to redemption from bondage (Rom. 8:21) as adopted sons (Rom. 8:23). (In 1 Corinthians 15:44 Paul distinguishes between a natural (physical) and a spiritual body. There are thus two bodies which correspond with the two ages he highlights in Ephesians 1:21, cf. Jesus in Luke 20:34-38.) In other words, man as the image of God had an invisible hope which was clearly heavenly (e.g. Heb. 11:8-16), but it had to be striven for by keeping the law (Lev. 18:5; Prov. 19:16) and seeking glory and honour by well doing (Rom. 2:7,10). Failure to work in the short term meant inevitable physical hunger (Gen. 3:17-19; Prov. 6:11; 13:4; 19:15; 20:4; 24:30-34; 2 Thes. 3:10 contrast Prov. 12:11; 20:13; 28:19; Isa. 1:19), in the long term loss of life (Dt. 4:25f.; 30:15-20; Mt. 25:26-30).


If what is written above is true, the traditional sin-saturated worldview palmed off on us by Augustine of Hippo is false. The material world (dust) was never, first, perfect, then fallen and cursed on account of Adam’s sin – a ludicrous idea at best. Rather, as Paul says, it was futile and ephemeral from the beginning, intended like the law (e.g. Dt. 8:2,16) to test and to serve as a stepping stone on the way to glory (cf. Luke 8:15; Rom. 2:7,10). In other words, the world described in Genesis 3:15-19 was not the result of sin but the OCCASION of sin. For sin implies knowledge as Paul in particular is at pains to teach in Romans 4:15 when he says that where there is no law, there is no transgression (cf. Rom. 7:8). Just as life in the womb (and for us even in infancy) is hidden by our lack of understanding (the knowledge of good and evil), so it was in our first parents’ case in the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race (recapitulation). It is only when understanding dawns and our eyes are opened that we become aware, as Genesis 1:28 implied, that this world/age is difficult to navigate. Only Jesus conquered it (John 16:33, cf. 1 John 2:15-17) and that in the flesh (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.).

Bluntly, as Paul so clearly saw, Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25 refer to the same unchanged world which by divine design is both futile and ephemeral. Once it has served its purpose, it is doomed, like mortal flesh (2 Cor. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:50) which epitomises it, to destruction (2 Pet. 3:5-13). Originally, creation was described as ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31), because it served a temporary purpose before being finally removed (Heb. 12:27-29). Like the earthly Promised Land (Num. 14:7), which was also temporary (Heb. 11:8-16), it was, as God intended, incapable of providing permanent rest (Heb. 3,4). He had something better in mind as Hebrews 12:22-24 and Revelation 21-22, for example, inform us.

See further my

The Correspondence Between Romans 8:12-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10

The Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25

Romans 8:18-25 In Brief


The Two Ages


Biblical Dualism

Concerning Futility

Creation Corruptible By Nature

Cosmic Curse?

The Transience of Creation

The Destruction of the Material Creation



The natures of Christ: Chalcedon and dyophysitism or two-nature theory.

The Chalcedonian Creed maintains that when the Word of God became man, he did not divest himself of his divine nature but retained it so that he was fully divine and human at one and the same time. Though many writers have not been happy with the notion of hypostatic union or of two natures united “unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably” in one person, they nonetheless accept it because they cannot think of anything better. However, on the face of it, to suggest that Jesus had two natures simultaneously rather than successively implies that his incarnation was incomplete and that he never truly became man. Expressed alternatively, Jesus was Docetic and not really our kinsman redeemer (Heb. 2:9,14,17) but a kind of hybrid or third entity. In consequence, this raises questions regarding the veracity of our redemption which required the atoning death of a fully representative man on behalf of his people.

Historically, it has been maintained that if the Word divested himself of his divine nature at his incarnation, he ceased to be God. This would appear to be the prime argument against kenoticism or the self-emptying of the Word (Phil. 2:7). (1* See, for example, the comments of Griffith Thomas, pp.44f. who claims that “The theory seems to demand the unthinkable metamorphosis of God into man.” Cf. Baillie, p.96.) But the mere fact that the Word confessedly divested himself of his divine glory (John 17:5,24) would surely call this into question. The inference would appear to be that the theologians of the past have held to a static, impassible, immutably transcendent Greek rather than to a dynamic Hebrew conception of God. Since God is a Trinity and nothing is impossible with him (e.g. Luke 1:37), there seems to be no intrinsic reason why the Word, without losing his personal identity and ontology, should not become man made in the divine image like all other human beings (Gen. 1:27) with the express intention of being perfected in that image in order to achieve their salvation. So the question is: does Scripture allow this?

(1) John 1:14 (cf. 20:28; 1 John 1:1-4) tells us bluntly that the Word became flesh, specifically man. The apostle also tells us, “we have seen his glory” (cf. 1 John 1:1) suggesting at first sight that he did not set aside his glory as implied above. In reply it must be stated that glory is used in two senses: (1) majesty, splendour, (2) praise-worthiness. Clearly the Word did not display his splendour while he was on earth where for a little while he was naturally flesh (Heb. 2:7,9), weak (2 Cor. 13:4), mortal, perishable (1 Cor. 15:42-44) and wholly dependent on his Father (Heb. 5:7). (2* His transfiguration, 2 Pet. 1:16-18, like that of Moses, Ex. 34:29-35; 2 Cor. 3:7, was surely his Father’s testimony to and acknowledgement of him.)

(2) In Philippians 2, Paul states explicitly that Jesus did not retain his equality in/by nature (or natural equality) with God but emptied himself (that is, replaced his divine nature) by assuming the nature, that is, the flesh, blood and other attributes of man. In this way he humbled himself so as to be in a position to be obedient even to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). In other words, as the author of Hebrews makes clear (see espec. Heb. 2:9,14,17), he did this in order to die in atonement for human sins as God made man. Almost needless to say, Paul adds that all this results in the exaltation (cf. Mt. 23:12; Luke 14:11; James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6) of Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God (Phil. 2:9-11, cf. 1 Pet. 1:21).

If this is a reasonable interpretation, Paul would appear to be saying in somewhat different terminology exactly what John is saying, that is, that the Word of God abased himself (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9) to become fully human in order to redeem his people. It is only when we argue that he of necessity retained his divine nature that we run into difficulty, and it is a matter of history that this has proved a major stumbling-block. However, the Bible nowhere teaches what Chalcedon seems to teach, that is, that he had the natures of both God and man at one and the same time. Not only is this an unconvincing inference lacking adequate supporting evidence but it seems to make redundant Jesus the man’s objective of attaining the complete image and likeness of God which is the most basic human vocation (Gen. 1:26, cf. Mt. 5:48; 19:21). If he already had it before he began his attempt, there was no point in pursuing it. Yet both Paul (Rom. 8:3) and the author of Hebrews (Heb. 2:14f.) stress that this is precisely what he did by, first, keeping the law in the flesh and, second, by fulfilling all righteousness (Mt. 3:15) and being crowned with glory and honour (Heb. 2:9) as one who had met not only the condition of eternal life (Lev. 18:5) but also of being perfected in the likeness of God. In line with this, as we shall see below, there is a good deal of evidence supporting the view that the incarnation was genuine and that the Word in love and humility really did become a man of flesh and blood in order to achieve for man what all other men on account of sin had failed to achieve. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how he humbled himself if he retained his divine nature as opposed to his identity as the Word who had become the Son of God through Mary. (3* According to Morris, p.114 n.121, Augustine claimed that “Man was added to Him, God was not lost to Him”. Depending on our interpretation, this can be accepted. When, however, he further says, “He emptied Himself not by losing what He was, but by taking to Him what He was not” (Homilies on the Gospel of John, V111.3; XV11.16), Augustine is virtually denying Paul’s assertion that Jesus abased himself. See further below. Carson, p.135, helpfully notes the parallels between John 1:1 and 1:18.)

With John 1 and Philippians 2 in mind, it should be noted that there is no other evidence in the NT that Jesus retained his divine nature (NIV) or form (ESV) as opposed to his sinless and holy character. Two examples of this immediately spring to mind: John 14:9 and 20:28. It is surely unreasonable to argue that Doubting Thomas meticulously examined Christ’s divine as opposed to his human nature of flesh and blood to conclude that Jesus was God. He arrived at his conclusion on the basis of the physical evidence of the resurrection at his disposal without any reference to his putative divine nature.

(4* We encounter a problem at this point. Historically, many have argued that Jesus was glorified at his resurrection, even that he was “glorified flesh”. This, I contend, is a contradiction in terms, since there is no such thing, 1 Corinthians 15:50-53. See further, for example, my John Stott on the Putative Resurrection Transformation of Jesus.)

If we assume that the Word really did become man, evidence like the following surely supports this:

(1) Jesus, the Son of God was, like all men born of woman (Gal. 4:4, etc.), made in the image of God and a true son of Adam (cf. Gen. 5:1-3; Luke 3:38).

(2) Jesus was flesh only for a little while during which time he was like all other men lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7,9). In the Garden of Gethsemane he was strengthened by an angel (Luke 22:43), a rather odd situation if he retained his divine nature. Later, after his exaltation, the latter were subjected to him (Heb. 1:4-7; 1 Pet. 3:22) as they doubtless had been before his incarnation.

(3) Jesus’ miracles indicated that God was at work in him (Luke 8:39; 9:43; 17:15-18; 18:43; 19:37; John 5:19,30; 6:38; 8:28; 10:37f., etc.). As truly human Jesus relied totally on his Father (Heb. 5:7). (5* See my Did Jesus Perform Miracles?) He did not use his own putative divine power (cf. Jud. 6:31; Luke 8:39; 18:43; John 3:2, etc.). (6* As writers like A.J.Thompson in his The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus, have pointed out, it is as the ascended and empowered Lord, cf. Rom. 1:4, that Jesus performed miracles. On earth his miracles were testament to the activity of his Father, cf. John 3:2; 5:36; 6:29; etc., to whom he constantly prayed and expected a positive answer, 11:41f., cf. 11:22.)

(4) Jesus’ preferred designation was ‘the Son of Man’. Of course, this did not nullify his ‘natural’ divinity as the Word of God who had changed his nature to become the Son of God.

(5) As has already been asserted, it was as man that he sought to achieve the complete image and likeness of God (Heb. 1:3).

(6) After he had successfully completed his work (John 17:4; 19:30) and was seated at his Father’s right hand, he remained the perfect image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15) and as his human Son had his (i.e. God’s) generic nature (Heb. 1:3).

Donald Baillie in his God Was In Christ rightly rejected the idea that Jesus was originally God then became man only to become God again (pp.96f.). However, he (Baillie) sadly failed to see that after his kenosis or self-emptying he remained human, perfected and transformed in accordance with man’s basic calling. Surely what Scripture teaches is that the Word at his incarnation humbly divested himself of his divine nature along with its attributes of omnipotence and the like, but obviously not his identity. He became man as the Son of God born of woman in order to eventually gain the fullness of the generic nature of God in whose image as man he was made. Thus it is as man perfected in the image and likeness of God that he became Lord, Acts 2:36, and as such exercised the delegated power of God (Mt. 11:27; 28:18, etc.). Surely it was not until then, that is, after his ascension transformation, that all the fullness of God indwelt him (Col. 1:19; 2:9).

In contrast with Philippians 2:6f. (cf. John 1:1) where he says that Jesus was equal with God, Paul goes so far as to say in 1 Corinthians 15:28 that the Son himself (though Lord) is subjected to God. Unless this means that it is as man that Jesus is subjected, it is unintelligible. In other words, Jesus’ humanity was always subordinate to his divinity. (7* Of course, on the assumption that he was the eternal Son of God, the Word was inherently subordinate. This view I reject not least since it derogates from the love of God and the humiliation of the Son. See further my Eternal Son?; Notes on the Eternal Son.)

The nearest comparison I can think of is that of Joseph who is said to have become the lord of all Egypt but remained nonetheless subordinate to Pharaoh himself (Gen. 41:40) who was a god. So just as Joseph as an ordinary or natural man could not take the place of a god, so Jesus as a man could not take the place of God. But there is a difference. Jesus as the eternal Word was God and so retained his identity. What he had changed was his nature, that is, his attributes, and it is as the Lamb (who was also Lord) that he sits on the throne of God sharing the glory of God (Rev. 5:11-14). Otherwise expressed, while God in love could freely humble himself and become man, man cannot exalt himself and become God, only his image (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15), at best his exact or complete image (Heb. 1:3). As Isaiah informs us, God will not share his glory with another (Isa. 42:8; 48:11.), and, as Paul well recognises, the humiliation and consequent exaltation of Jesus are for the glory of God (Phil. 2:9-11).

(7) If the temple could not contain the nature of God (1 K. 8:27; Acts 7:49; 17:24), neither could Jesus’ fleshly body in contrast with his spiritual or transformed body of glory (Phil. 3:21), as has already been noted. Needless to say, I reject the theotokos. Mary gave birth to the earthly Jesus (Gen. 3:20; Luke 2:7; 1 Cor. 11:12) who was fathered (procreated) by God himself just as Adam was created by him (Luke 3:38). The eternal Word had indestructible life (Heb. 7:16) and like Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10) had neither father nor mother (Heb. 7:3). (8* The Word is referred to as the Son of God at this point, but the author’s language is surely projectionist and used for identification purposes. If not, it is a contradiction in terms, since sons by definition have parents. See further my The Fatherhood of God). In Hebrews 7:28 the Son must be man by nature since he has achieved perfection.

On further reflection I have arguably misunderstood the author of Hebrews’ point here. In contrast with the Levitical priests who depended on physical descent as required by the law (and so had a physical genealogy), Jesus was appointed on the basis of an indestructible life (7:16, cf. verse 24) and an oath (7:20-22). Assuming the truth of this, my point regarding the Son still holds: a son must have parents and in eternity the Word who was God had none, neither father nor mother.)

(8) It should be noted that God was regarded as Creator at the beginning (Gen. 1) and later Father of Israel considered collectively (Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1). He only became Father in the NT sense when the Word underwent incarnation and was born of Mary. Thus God himself changed his relationship and became a father, ultimately the Father of all his children not just Jesus (John 1:13; Heb. 2:10-13; 1 John 3:1-3). (9* See further my article Understanding God . I am fully aware that God is regarded in the Bible as the Father of all human beings including Adam, Luke 3:38; Acts 17:28, cf. Gen. 6:2., but the sense here is that of Creator not of re-Creator.)

(9) The immanent or essential Trinity comprising the Creator God, Word and Spirit is somewhat recondite in the OT. In the NT the economic Trinity is clearly revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (e.g. Mt. 28:19). Again, a change in relationship, though impossible for a remote, utterly transcendent and static Greek or Islamic God, is fundamental to the dynamic Hebrew God who does as he pleases (Dan. 4:34f.; Eph. 1:11) in accordance with his purposes. (10* Michael Green, pp.113f. like Brian Hebblethwaite, pp.104f., deny that it is possible to place restrictions on what God can or cannot do.) Not without reason is he characterised as love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16). Love without relationships is impossible even in eternity, hence God is unsurprisingly a Trinity. Even in human relationships lovers can be satisfied with each other, but usually, like God himself, they freely choose to share their love with children. And we Christian believers are the children of God (Rom. 8:16f.; 1 John 3:1-3) and the new Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26, cf. Rev. 21:2).

(10) The mainspring of the gospel is to be found in the love and humility of God (John 3:16). Both are demonstrated in the Word’s change of nature (he was born of woman) and relationship (he became the Son of God who became his Father (1 John 4:14f.). As such they together became our Saviour in the power of the Spirit (John 1:12f.; 14-16, etc.) thereby accomplishing a truly Trinitarian salvation (Mt. 28:19, cf. John 17:3).

  1. How could Jesus possibly uphold the universe while he was gestating in his mother’s womb and being upheld himself by his heavenly Father? (11* Cf. Baillie, p.96.) The situation was different once he had ascended, been transformed, been seated at his Father’s side and had received delegated power (Col. 1:17; Mt. 28:18, cf. Col. 1:19; 2:9; Heb. 1:3). One suspects that an inadequate view of both the Trinity and of biblical anthropology requires the retention of Jesus’ divine nature by Chalcedon (cf. Baillie, p.96).
  2. Why did he have to be rescued from Herod by his stepfather Joseph and go to Egypt if he still retained his divine nature?
  3. The death of Jesus is more than a little difficult to understand if he retained his divine nature on the cross. Was he schizophrenic?
  4. Scripture teaches that man is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, etc.). Yet in the NT the apostle tells us that we should be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). This makes sense when we realise that the Son is still the Word by identity but who has freely changed his nature and achieved his full potential, or perfection, as man (Heb. 1:3).
  5. To argue that Jesus impoverished himself (2 Cor. 8:9) yet retained his (rich) divine nature is plainly contradictory. It is like arguing that you are poverty-stricken when you have a million dollars in your pocket.
  6. If we as ordinary humans are granted promises through which we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3f.), how much more Jesus our pioneer. (We may have the generic nature of God but neither we nor Jesus as human become God, only his children, Rom. 8:17; 1 John 3:1-3!)
  7. Devoid of his divine nature Jesus could not have saved himself even if he had wanted to (Luke 23:35,39). He depended on his heavenly Father even in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:53, cf. Luke 22:43).
  8. Since according to Scripture there is yawning gap between the Creator and the creature, it would seem impossible for the incarnate Jesus to have the natures of both God and man at the same time. Chalcedon’s two-nature theory fails to bridge the gap between the two. (Ottley, p.611, writing 100 years ago admitted frankly that there is a real difficulty in forming a conception of a single personality occupying a double sphere of consciousness, at once divine and human, omniscient and nescient.)


(a) In order to become man at his incarnation, Jesus necessarily divested himself of his divine nature and was made in the image of God (capacity) with a view to perfecting it (Gen. 1:26f.; 5:1-3). To do so he placed himself wholly in the hands of his heavenly Father (cf. Heb. 5:7). (11* It is at this point that the opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa or the mutual inclusiveness of the persons of the immanent Trinity is important. While noted and accepted as a sound principle by Baillie, p.96, it is not exploited as it should be doubtless because of his false presuppositions.)

(b) Like all other human beings who were the offspring of Adam, he was born of woman who typified the (mother) earth (Gen. 3:20).

(c) He was made in the image of God (capacity) with a view to gaining his complete likeness (cf. Gen. 3:5,22; 5:1,3).

(d) He alone of all men avoided sin (John 8:46, etc.), overcame the world (John 16:33) achieved the complete image and likeness of God (Heb. 1:3) in holiness and righteousness to become Lord.

(e) Though perfected, transformed and glorified (cf. Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 15:50-56), he retained the image of God permanently (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3, cf. 1 Cor. 15:28). He did not regain his divine nature as Baillie wrongly surmised.

(f) All believers in Christ are their kinsman redeemer’s brothers and sisters (Heb. 2:10-13) and constitute the transformed children of God (1 John 3:1-4) who are conformed to his image (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18).

(g) At his Father’s right hand, Jesus as the eternal Word of God recovers his former divine glory (John 17:5,24; 1 Pet. 1:21, cf. Mt. 24:30; Luke 9:26), and exercises his power as man who has been perfected and granted the generic nature (i.e. the complete image and likeness) of God (Mt. 11:27; 28:18).

(h) In light of this, he did not become God in nature again. In his love and compassion he freely and permanently humbled himself (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 5:13; 21:22; 22:1). Such was the price of human salvation.

In brief, God the Word saved his people by becoming one of us. He was the second Adam who embraced all believers (Heb. 11; 1 John 2:2; Rev. 7:9). Just as all natural men and women are made in the image of the first Adam (Gen. 5:1-3), so all believers are ultimately conformed to the image of the second Adam (Rom. 8:29, cf. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:42-57).
What love! What humility! What a Saviour!

What Jesus, the man, is granted or given is testament to his change of nature. After all, he cannot be given what he already has as the Word:

(1) He is given life (John 5:26, cf. 1:4).

(2) Authority and power. As the Son of Man he has the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). He has the God-given authority to freely lay down his life and take it up again (John 10:17f.).

(3) Exaltation, the name and worship (Phil. 2:9-11, cf. Isa. 45:23).

(4) Judgement (John 9:39; Rom. 14:11f.; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10, cf. Isa. 45:23).

(5) Resurrection and a seat at God’s right hand (Eph. 1:20).

(6) The name (Eph. 1:21).

(7) Headship (Eph. 1:22) and a kingdom (Luke 22:29).

(8) Works (10:37f.; 15:24).

(9) Words (John 7:16; 8:28, etc.).

(10) Glory (John 17:5; 1 Pet. 1:21). Etc.

Three Prime Indicators

  1. Jesus as man was made in the image of God and according to clear NT teaching remains in that image forever: 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3, cf. Rom. 8:29.
  2. Once incarnated as man and the Son of God, he remains Son forever both of God and man. (Note the collocation in Luke 22:69f. Though it is open to more than one interpretation, the Jews thought that in calling God his Father, he was claiming equality with God, John 5:18.)
  3. John the Baptist refers to Jesus as a man who is the Lamb of God (John 1:29f.), and it as the Lamb, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (man) and the Root of David (that is, God, David’s Lord, cf. Mark 12:37) that he appears in heaven and sits forever on the throne of God (Rev. 5:6,8,12,13; 7:9f.,14; 12:11 15:3; 17:14; 19:7,9; 21:9,14,22f.,27; 22:1,3, cf. 1 Pet. 1:19-21). Nevertheless, he is, in the words of Carson (p.135), “differentiable from God”. (12* See also the hymn “Thou art the everlasting Word” by Josiah Condor (1789-1855) quoted by Carson, p.136.)

Final Comment

The one (obviously a man) sitting on the white horse wearing a robe dipped in blood is called the Word of God (Rev. 19:13). (13* At this point Wilcock, p.182, says that his divinity is ‘placarded’ before our eyes. Earlier, p.70, however, Wilcock himself referred to a crowned conqueror, that is, Jesus Christ. Later, pp.183,185, Wilcock again rightly stresses that it is Christ who is involved as Captain of the armies of heaven. In light of my own reasoning then I would argue that the Evangelist is placarding not so much divinity as the perfected human Jesus who has gained the perfected likeness of God in all his goodness in salvation and severity in judgement.) This is proof positive that he who was God and had the nature of God (John 1, Phil. 2) has retained his divine identity or personhood, if not his nature (attributes), as man (cf. John 1:18). It is he who is now as the Righteous One (Acts 3:14, etc.) crowned King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev.19:16) in his perfected humanity. As Paul affirms, Jesus (the man) is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3).

Bluntly expressed, in John 1:1 the Word is God; in Revelation 19:13 the Word is a man perfected in the image and likeness of God.

(Note that in John 1:18, Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 Jesus is still God in identity or person, if not in nature.)

The Glorified Jesus

Scripture teaches emphatically that in addition to his sovereignty, omniscience and so forth God is a consuming fire (e.g. Dt. 4:24; 9:3; Heb. 12:29). Apart from noting that Jesus is not so while he is on earth, he is so after his transformation, as Paul was well aware (2 Thes. 1:8; 2:8). In any case, flesh is combustible (James 5:3, cf. Dt. 5:24-26) and Jesus as flesh would have been just as vulnerable as anyone else (cf. 1 Cor. 3:15b). Even for him, sinless though he was, dwelling with everlasting flames (Isa. 33:14) would have been impossible. Flesh and blood like all created things, as Romans 1:20 and Hebrews 12:27 indicate, are by nature excluded from the spiritual kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). Even Jesus had of necessity to be born again and transformed as the Greek ‘dei’ in both John 3:7 and 1 Corinthians 15:53 makes plain.

There is another point. If as Anglicans teach Jesus was glorified at his resurrection, how come that he was mistaken for the gardener (John 20:15)? Or again why did Jesus pray that his disciples should see his glory in heaven (John 17:5,24)? If they had already seen him as glorified on earth, there was no point. It would have truly been an anti-climax!

The perfected Jesus (Mt. 5:48; 19:21; Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28) has the generic nature (i.e. the image and likeness) of God and exercises by delegation the powers of God (Mt. 11:27; 28:18). Thus Thompson is right to suggest that the acts of the apostles are really the acts of the ascended Jesus.


See further my:

Concerning Identity and Nature

Baillie and Packer on Kenosis


Understanding God

On Seeing, Hearing And Touching.


D.M.Baillie, God Was In Christ, repr. London, 1963 and 1968.

D.Carson, The Gospel According to John, Leicester/Michigan, 1991.

Michael Green, ed., The Truth of God Incarnate, London, 1977.

L.L.Morris, The Gospel According to John, Michigan, 1977.

R.L.Ottley, The Doctrine of the Incarnation, 4th ed. rev., 1908.

W.H.Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology, London/New York, 1930.

A.J.Thompson, The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus, Nottingham/Downers Grove, 2011.

Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, Leicester, 1975.

Additional Note on Baillie

Baillie’s section on kenosis is unsatisfactory and disappointing. It reflects his uncritical commitment to tradition and failure to understand the plan of salvation, biblical anthropology and the basic theological prerequisite for a real man to meet salvation’s precondition which was sinlessness (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5). His quotation from The Shorter Catechism (Ans. to Qu. 21) betrays prior allegiance and misunderstanding. If in his pre-existence Jesus was God and equal with God, he simply could not have been the eternal Son. Baillie’s thinking, or lack of it, is governed by his preconceptions. He fails to appreciate the difficulties inherent in Chalcedon. Just how the Word could be God and man in two distinct natures (cf. Nestorius) and one person is beyond rational comprehension, as Ottley for one realised. Chalcedon itself and not kenosis is the real reductio ad absurdum. It is safer to stick to what Scripture actually says, that is, that Christ Jesus (i.e. the Word) emptied himself and became a man (Phil. 2:7; 2 Cor. 8:9; Mt. 20:28), and that forever.

Baillie’s stance reflects category confusion. The Word is a divine person who has the attributes of deity. The incarnation was not as Baillie implies an act of self-obliteration but of self-impoverishment (2 Cor. 8:9), self-emptying (kenosis, Phil. 2:7) and self-denial (Mark 8:34). Furthermore, the Word’s self-humiliation paved the way for his exaltation as man (Mt. 23:12; Mark 9:35; Luke 14:11; Acts 2:36; Eph. 1:20-23; James 4:10). It bears repeating that to be deprived of his divine nature (attributes of omniscience, etc.) does not mean that Jesus has ceased to be God the Word in person, as Baillie and others suggest. After all, man is still man even after he has been transformed and has shed his human nature as flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:50). According to Jesus, God is the God of the living, even of Abraham long since physically dead and decayed (Luke 22:29ff.) like David (Acts 2:29).

Traditional thinking harbours a ‘flat earth’, uniform or static conception of both God and man. Man is in fact inherently, that is, by divine design, subject to change. He begins at the beginning and finishes at the end. He moves from immaturity (infant imperfection) to maturity (adult perfection) both as an individual and as a race (Eph. 4:11-16, etc.). He has a fourfold nature as (animal) flesh, slave, servant and son (cf. my Man’s Fourfold State). In contrast with the animals, he is subject to regeneration and transformation and so has potentiality. (14* See my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities). Even regenerate man both as individual and race is expected to grow and be perfected (Eph. 4:11-16; Phil. 3:12-14). As for the Creator God himself who has changed his relationship and become a father (Heb. 1:5), he is, as Jesus says, still working (John 5:17), if not creating (Gen. 2:3). He does not merely exist, he is dynamically active, both proactive and pre-emptive accomplishing his chosen purposes for his glory and for his children’s eternal benefit and blessing. Again, it is worth stressing that the plan of salvation was for the glory of God (Phil. 3:21; Rev. 4:11; 5:13).

The Word remains God in person but has freely adopted human attributes (nature) which themselves are subject to transformation (1 Cor. 15:50-57) and enhancement (Rev. 19:11-16). Even while Jesus is in the flesh, he is recognizable as God (John 14:9; 20:28) and ever remains so in character (Heb. 13:8). He began as the holy one (Luke 1:35) and finished as the Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14, etc.). Thus God and man become one (John 17:11-25, espec. vv. 11,21f.,25). Just as man and woman become one flesh in marriage on earth, so Christ and his bride, the church, become spiritually and corporeally one in heaven (1 Cor. 6:17). Together they occupy the heavenly throne (Rev. 3:21) and form part of the household of God (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). Together in paradise they eat of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7), and God who lives for ever and ever (Rev. 4:9-11) becomes all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). (If we believe that paradise was lost and regained, we need to recognize that the first paradise, the womb of the race, was earthly; the second one is heavenly, the bosom of the Father.)

Gloria Soli Deo!

On Baillie see also my Baillie and Packer on Kenosis.


There is little doubt in my view that the basic reason why fundamental mistakes were made in Christological debates in the early church was that many theologians were Greek and held a Greek conception of God. The Greeks regarded this world, the phenomenal world, as bad because it was subject to change and corruption. By contrast the noumenal world was considered superior because it was fixed, static and ruled by an unchangeable (immutable) God. So if the Word was God, he was bound by his immutable nature. Thus at his incarnation he of necessity had to retain his divine nature or cease to be God. On the other hand, because he was immutably transcendent, the Greeks held that God could have no direct contact with this world of change and corruption which was evil. He, God, therefore needed a mediator who was his inferior, that is, his Son who was not divine. This of course was unacceptable to Christians. The early church’s solution to the problem was ultimately Chalcedon (451 A.D.) and the dual nature of Jesus. This I maintain was and is absurd. In effect it is a denial of the incarnation. My view is that Jesus at his incarnation retained his identity as the Word of God but fulfilled his, that is, man’s full potential as the image and likeness of God (Heb. 1:3). Thus it is to his image that we, his disciples, must conform (Rom. 8:29, cf. Rom. 12:2). This, I hold, is much more realistic and in accord with what the Bible teaches.

As we saw earlier, it is still widely held that once Jesus is divested of his divine attributes, he ceases to be God. This argument is not upheld by Scripture where as we have already noted man does not cease to be man once he is divested of his flesh and blood (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-53). The Word in his essence or essential character can never be anything other than what he was. He cannot deny himself. His incarnation was intrinsic to the plan of salvation freely devised before the foundation of the earth. And, though motivated by love (John 3:16, etc.), it was with a view to the ultimate glory of God.

Finally, if Jesus retained his divine nature as opposed to his identity as the Son of God, it is impossible to see how he bridged the gap between the Creator God and the creature man. If however, he remained God in person (i.e. the Word), but took on man’s inherently perfectible nature, once he achieved perfection (Heb. 1:3), he (the man) became the ideal mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). And it perhaps needs to be added that he would never have achieved perfection if his relationship with his heavenly Father had not remained constant (Heb. 5:7, cf. John 17:11,22).

Additional Notes

Briefly the dualistic Greek worldview was conditioned by the belief in the noumenal and the phenomenal. While the former was fixed, immutable and static, the real world, the latter, the phenomenal which included the body of flesh, was changeable and corruptible and therefore evil. Of course, this clashed with the Jewish outlook which embraced the idea of a dynamic, living God who was the Creator of the ‘good’ world and to which he came himself in the person of his Son. And he like the Jews believed in two ages (Luke 20:34-38; Eph. 1:21), and so, needless to say, he aspired to the resurrection and the life (John 11:24-26).

Jesus’ nature as man was flesh, blood and the usual human attributes. As such, in order to enter the kingdom of God he had first to be spiritually born again (John 3:7) and, second, to be bodily transformed (1 Cor. 15:53). The Greek word ‘dei’ is used in both cases indicating that the necessity is ‘natural’ and does not relate to sin. (See again my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities.)

Man loses his flesh and blood at death but remains human in heaven. In other words, I expect to remain me for eternity not in the flesh (1 Cor. 15:50) which sees corruption but in a glorified or spiritual body. This is the clear teaching of Scripture (1 Cor. 15:42-57; Heb. 10:9b, cf. 8:13).

  • A useful book touching on Greek thinking and kenosis is Tony Lane, The Lion Concise Book of Christian Thought, 2nd ed., Tring, 1986.
    I have omitted to mention above verses like Romans 9:5 which seem to speak of Christ as God.
    Jesus was a son in three senses: (1) he was the ‘natural’ or procreated Son of God who became his Father at his incarnation; (2) he was also the Son of Man (Adam) through Mary his mother (Luke 3:38); (3) he was the Son of God by re-creation at his baptism (John 3:7).

The Ascending Jesus

Text: “No one has ascended into heaven except him who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

(In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things) (Eph. 4:9-10).

Jesus procreated as his Father’s seed (cf. Heb. 7:10). Just as the first Adam, who was fashioned in the earth (Gen. 2:7; 3:19,23), was sown in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8,15), the womb of the race, to gestate (cf. Ps. 139:13-16, Eph. 4:9), so Jesus, the second Adam, who stemmed from heaven, was sown in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:35) to gestate in his turn. (In procreation, while Adam as the image of God typified God as father, 1 Cor. 11:7, Eve (woman) who stemmed from Adam, Gen. 2:21-23, cf. 1 Cor. 11:12, typified the earth as mother, Gen. 3:20.)

Born a baby knowing nothing (Isa. 7:14f.; Dt. 1:39) in an animal stable (Luke 2:7,12,16, cf. Adam who was created along with the animals in Genesis 2).

Circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21).

Kept the commandment at the end of his infancy and/or the beginning of his childhood (cf. Prov. 1:8; 4:1-6; 6:20).

A slave (Gal. 4:1f.) in Egypt (Mt. 2:13-15) under the covenant with Noah who was the first child of the race. As the first consistent worker (Gen. 5:29) Noah had brought to an end (Gen. 8:21f.; Isa. 54:9f.) the curse on the desolate, that is, largely uninhabited and untilled, ground (Gen. 3:17-19). In contrast with Adam, he was conspicuously obedient (Gen. 6:22; 7:1,5,9,16). (*1. On the curse on the ground, see my Cosmic Curse?; Supplement to ‘Cosmic Curse?’; Observations on The Curse; Understanding the Curse; The Relationship between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25)

On his return, as an adolescent Jesus became a son of the commandment (bar mitzvah) under Moses (cf. Luke 2:40-52).

Kept the law to his Father’s satisfaction and so was baptised (Mt. 3:13-17) by the Spirit (Lev. 18:5, cf. Mt. 19:17-21). In this way his spiritual adolescence was brought to an end.

Regeneration to prepare for the kingdom of God (John 3:5f.)

Regenerate life empowered by the Spirit (John 1:32; 3:34; 6:27; Acts 4:27; 10:38) to fulfil all righteousness (Mt. 3:15, cf. 19:21) which was impossible under the law (Heb. 7:11,18f.; 8:7).

Death to atone for his people’s sins. By spilling his blood he established the Christian covenant (Luke 22:20, cf. Heb. 9:22) thereby enabling the regeneration of sinful believers.

Resurrection. Death defeated (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor.15:55).

Manifested as victor to his disciples (Luke 24:39; John 20:26-29; Acts 1:22, cf. 13:31).

Final teaching (Luke 24:44-49, cf. Rev. 1:1f. which is an apocalyptic repetition of earlier teaching).

Ascension transformation a natural necessity (Luke 24:51, cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-53). Corruption overcome (Acts 13:34-37). (See my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities.)

Seated at his Father’s right hand and crowned as the Righteous One (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 1 John 2:1) in the Kingdom of God/Heaven where righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:13).

Since it was Jesus, the Son of Man, who ascended into heaven (John 3:13a; 6:62), it was he, the man, who became the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).


“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16).


So Jesus uniquely fulfilled the purpose of God by ascending from ground to glory (Eph. 4:9f.) as man’s pioneer (Heb. 2:9; 6:20; 12:1f.). Believers follow in his steps to be with him forever (John 12:26; 14:3,19; 17:24; Rev. 3:21). It helps to clarify the picture if we note that while the Jewish high priest could enter the earthly Holy of Holies only once a year and re-emerge to repeat his performance the next year (Heb. 9:7-10), Jesus the Christian high priest after the order of Melchizedek broke through the curtain of his flesh (Heb. 6:19f.; 10:19f.) once for all (Heb. 7:26-28) thereby gaining entrance into the presence of God forever (Heb. 9:11f.; 10:12f.).


See also my

Covenant Theology in Brief

Jesus The Perfected Man – The Epitome of Creation and Evolution

Jesus the Epitome of Evolution (Perfection)


The Ascent of Man

The Ascending Adam



See further The Human Development of Jesus by B.B.Warfield in Shorter Writings Vol. 1, Nutley, 1970.

The Ascending Adam

(In 1956 at about the time of the Suez crisis I heard three public lectures on the early chapters of Genesis by Professor Alan Richardson of Nottingham University. He stressed the fact that the word ‘Adam’ meant both mankind the race and man the individual. Despite certain differences there is clearly a correspondence between the two (cf. Isa. 45:9f.), especially since the individual epitomises the race, in fact, (mutatis mutandis) largely recapitulates it. Here, I take this for granted.)

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion … over all the earth … be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:26-28).

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor …” (Ps. 8:5).

“ … Jesus, crowned … because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9). ESV

Adam (mankind) created by God in the earth (Gen. 1:24; 2:7; 3:19,23; Ps. 139:15f.) as seed (cf. Heb. 7:10) like the rest of the animals (Gen. 2:19).

Made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26) and hence a son of God (Luke 3:38; Acts 17:28f., cf. Gen. 6:2).

Transferred to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8,15, cf. Ps. 139:13f.), the archetypal womb, to gestate to physical maturity before gaining infantile perception and rational self-consciousness.

Eve created out of Adam (Gen. 2:21f., cf. Heb. 7:10) in the same image (Gen. 1:27).

While Adam as the image of God typified God (1 Cor. 11:7), Eve, the glory of man, typified the earth and became the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20, cf. Ps. 139:13f.).

Since where there is no law, there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15), it was not until he acquired knowledge in his physical maturity that Adam was tested (cf. Ex. 15:25; Dt. 8:2,16, etc.) by the commandment (Gen. 2:16f.), found wanting (Gen. 3:6) and along with Eve was constituted a sinner (cf. John 8:34; James 2:10).

Adam was cast out of the idyllic Garden/womb and separated from the tree of life (cf. Gen. 2:9; 3:22; Rev. 22:14) with no way of returning (Gen. 3:24, cf. John 3:4). (1* See my No Going Back )

Outside of the Garden/womb, life in a world purposely subjected by God to futility (Rom. 8:20) was full of hardship (Gen. 3:19). Whereas in the Garden/womb Adam was amply, freely and almost effortlessly supplied with the necessities of life like the animals (cf. Gen. 2:16), outside he had to fend for himself and consciously work for a living. Now that he was armed with knowledge, he became aware of creation’s natural intractability and harsh inhospitality. In other words, with their eyes opened (Gen. 3:7) both Adam and Eve like children became increasingly conscious of both good and evil on both the natural and moral levels (Gen. 3:22).

As the image of his Creator Adam became a procreator (Isa. 45:9f.) and fathered, first, Cain and Abel, then later Seth in his own image (Gen. 5:3) and the likeness of God (cf. Gen. 5:1). And so the race proliferated (Gen. 5). Just as Adam was created knowing neither good nor evil, so were all his procreated offspring (Dt. 1:39). Alternatively expressed, children begin at the beginning like their parents in innocence and recapitulate their experience. So, while necessarily inheriting their parents’ physical nature as flesh, they do not inherit their moral nature, though they are usually powerfully influenced by it (cf. Rom. 5:12-21). (2* Apart from the many other considerations, the historical attempt to derive the imputation of Adam’s sin from Genesis 5:1-3 and Romans 5:12-21 founders on the glaring fact that Jesus, though born of a sinful woman like all children, was not a sinner himself. He did not break the commandment/law, 1 Pet. 2:22. See further my various pieces on original sin.)

Sin became rampant in early man (Gen. 6) who was deceived and led astray like Eve by the desires of the flesh (Gen. 3:6, cf. Heb. 3:13). Apart from Jesus, all men and women alike fail the test when flesh collides with commandment/law (Num. 15:39, cf. Rom. 7:14; Eph. 4:17-19; James 1:12-15). As a consequence, all fail to avoid the death which is the wages of sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). (Though man like all flesh is mortal by nature, Num. 16:29; Rom. 6:12, the law promised life if it was kept, cf. Lev. 18:5; Rom. 7:10.)
Despite the sin and the death of all including Adam and his tribe (Gen. 5:5), God manifested his grace to Noah who found favour with him (Gen. 6:8). As righteous by faith (Gen. 6:9) and hence obedient, Noah and his family survived the flood.

The Covenant with Noah (Dispensational)

By this stage in the evolutionary ascent of the race, Noah had gained sufficient understanding to embrace the covenant which was reminiscent of God’s non-covenantal dealings with Adam (Gen. 9:1-17). From Noah’s three sons sprang the people who were to spread throughout the whole earth (Gen. 9:18f.; 10:32) gradually increasing their dominion. As even righteous Job discovered, however, life in a creation subject to death and decay, trial and tribulation was arduous (Job 7:1f.; 14:1f., cf. 5:6f.).

The Abrahamic Covenant (Promissory)

Just as Adam had sought to forge his own independent career in defiance of his Creator at the beginning of the human odyssey, so did his posterity at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). It was a case of like father, like son (cf. 2 K. 17:41b; Acts 7:51) and mother like daughter (cf. Ezek. 16:44). So, after foiling mankind’s aspirations to personal autonomy, God’s first step was to display his grace by calling Abraham, sinner and heathen though he was, to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3). So though the covenant with Noah remained permanently in operation, far-reaching promises now became a feature of man’s future despite continuing sin.

The Mosaic Covenant (Dispensational)

Sin was in fact a major problem and it was highlighted, after a period of childhood slavery (cf. Gal. 4:1f.) in Egypt (Hos. 11:1, cf. Mt. 2:15), when Moses promulgated a covenant of law which all the people freely accepted (Ex. 19:8; 24:3,7). But though the law was intended to serve as a guardian against sin (Gal. 3:23f.), it proved impossible for the fleshly offspring of dusty Adam (Gen. 2:7; 3:19; 1 Cor. 15:47a), who became sons of the commandment when they reached adolescence, to keep (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 5:12-14). Yet despite widespread transgression, faith remained in evidence (cf. Heb. 11).

The Davidic Covenant (Promissory)

Though sin abounded, the grace of God continued to manifest itself through faith in the promises made to Abraham (2 K. 13:23). Indeed, this grace was enhanced by the covenant with David (2 Chr. 21:7) which promised a future Messiah who would establish an eternal kingdom and reign forever (2 Sam. 7; Ps. 89).

On account of sin, however, another prophet like Moses (Dt. 18:18) and a new covenant capable of dealing with sin were promised (Jer. 31:31-34). In the event, they were long delayed, and difficult times ensued not least the exile and the Babylonian captivity. But after various vicissitudes, John the Baptist eventually heralded the Messiah.

The Christian Covenant (Dispensational)

Following numerous years of tumultuous living for both the race and the individual, Jesus, born of woman, appeared as the (natural) Son of God, though he was not recognised as such (John 1:10f.). He uniquely proved capable of keeping the law (Lev. 18:5; John 8:46, etc.), thereby meeting the precondition of salvation. He was thus baptised by the Holy Spirit whom he received as a permanent possession (John 1:32; 3:34; 6:27). In this way he transcended the law, and, as born again, was now qualified to sacrifice his fleshly life to redeem his fellows (Col. 1:22) and to take it again (John 10:17f.) in accordance with his Father’s will. The covenant he established by shedding his blood (Luke 22:20) underwrote the salvation and eternal life of all who accepted him as their representative and substitute. Bought at a price (1 Pet. 1:18f.), they are assured that they will be forever where he is (John 14:3,19; 12:26; 17:24).

Though still a sinner (1 John 1:8) and still doomed to physical death on account of sin (Rom. 8:10), the faithful Christian can live a largely victorious life led by the Spirit while still in the flesh (cf. Eph. 2:10). Though aware of judgement to come, he/she knows that he will not be condemned (Rom. 8:1). Since he is righteous by faith and sanctified by the blood of Jesus, man, despite sin (1 John 1:8-10), ascends to heaven in the footsteps of his sinless Saviour (John 17:24). In him he is perfected forever (cf. Mt. 19:21).


So the seed that is sown at the beginning matures in the course of history to perfection and once ripe produces its intended harvest (Mt. 13:36-43; Rev. 14:14-20). This is alternatively the complete vine (John 15:5f.), all Israel or the tree of man (Rom. 11:26, cf. Gal. 6:16), the full-grown man (Eph. 2:15; 4:13) or the Bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9-11, cf. Mt. 22:1-14; Heb. 11).


On the assumption that the above outline is essentially correct, the traditional Augustinian ideas of the original perfection, holiness and righteousness of Adam followed (inexplicably) by his sin and Fall are clearly false. And when this so-called catastrophe is presumed to have led to a cosmic curse necessitating the final redemption of the physical creation, we are obviously in the realm of fantasy (contrast Heb. 12:27; 2 Pet. 3:5-13; Luke 17:22-37). The plain fact is that the Augustinian worldview that still dominates the church in the 21st century is massively mistaken and unsurprisingly the butt of ridicule by many, especially modern scientists.

The truth is that man’s original call in a world purposely subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20; 2 Cor. 4:16-5:5; Gal. 1:4) was to gain the complete image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26) and so to inherit the kingdom of God/heaven. ‘In Adam’ (1 Cor. 15:22a), that is, in the flesh, he failed; ‘in Christ’ (1 Cor. 15: 22b-23), he gloriously succeeded (1 Cor. 15:51-53,57). In fact, the best Adam (mankind) can do is to enter the earthly holy of holies in the representative figure of the OT high priest one day a year. He cannot get any further. In fact, he must re-emerge to repeat his performance the next year when again he will fall short. How different from the all-conquering Christian high priest who enters once for all into heaven itself (Heb. 9:11,12,24) where he is permanently positioned to intercede for his people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) and bring them to glory (John 17:22; Heb. 2:10; 5:9; Rom. 8:30).


See further my

The Ascent of Man


Topsy-turvy Theology

Augustine: Asset or Liability

The Ascending Jesus

The Perfection of Paul the Apostle

The Human Condition

The Human Pilgrimage from Ground to Glory, etc.

The Sins of the Churches

In August 2015 I watched (among others) three programs on Australian TV which as a Christian I found deeply disturbing. The programs in question dealt with the Crusades, Sex and the West, and the Inquisition. They were all implicitly shocking indictments of the church and all prompted serious questions.

First, in the 21st century even the Roman Church has apparently acknowledged that the Crusades were a massive mistake and in principle thoroughly unchristian. The very concept of Christendom waging holy war on Islam – an approach rejected by Jesus as John 6:15 and 18:36 indicate – stemmed from the Old Testament and inevitably involved the pursuit of an earthly as opposed to a heavenly kingdom. Medieval Catholicism clearly failed to appreciate the celestial nature of Christian citizenship (Phil. 3:20). While Dr Asbridge of London University recognizes that the Crusades were more complicated than is generally appreciated, he pulls no punches in describing the streets of Jerusalem bathed in blood by so-called ‘Christian’ soldiers. Yet it is they precisely who indulged in indiscriminate slaughter in their attempt to gain an illegitimate earthly prize.

Second, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch of Oxford University takes an intriguing look at the so-called Christian attitude towards sex and rightly draws attention to the powerful but baneful impact of the views of the sin-obsessed Augustine of Hippo (d.430 AD). It is to the latter that we doubtless owe the malevolent notion of ‘carnal concupiscence’ which still haunts Catholicism in particular today and undergirds priestly celibacy. Noting how little Jesus said about sex, MacCulloch contrasts the historical church’s hostile and hypocritical interference in the sex lives of ordinary people with the love and compassion manifested by Jesus himself.

Third, Richard Felix and Andrew Gough examine the Inquisition and the persecution of putative heretics, including witches even in Protestant countries, which, they claim, continues even today in various forms. Though they do not trace the latter to Augustine, others do. For instance, D.L.Bock (Luke 9:51-24:53, Grand Rapids, 1996) commenting on Luke 14:23 where the word ‘compel’ is used, charges Augustine with misreading the imagery of this verse. He also alludes to J.A.Fitzmeyer’s (Luke, New York, 1985) claim that Augustine’s misinterpretation of this verse made him the spiritual father of the Inquisition. As a long-time critic of Augustine who crystallized the early church’s thinking on original sin, which properly understood is clearly contrary to biblical teaching, I myself readily attribute much of the error of the contemporary churches to an uncritical acceptance of his fallacious reasoning and his manifest misunderstanding of the Bible especially of Genesis 1-3 and the letter to the Romans.

The Present Day

This brings me to the chaotic situation facing us at the moment in September 2015. Why are the churches tarnished by such a gory and gruesome past? Why do they still support dogmas that have brought so much grief and trouble to ordinary people in the course of history? Why is it that the Roman Catholic Church has even today failed to accept the Reformation of almost 500 years ago, even though it was at best only a half-reformation in any case? The answer is of course its theology or its understanding of the Bible which is reputed to be the word of God and therefore our ultimate authority. I would argue that the so-called war between Christianity and modern science is largely the fruit of the Augustinian worldview. Fundamentalists and various other groups who charge modern science with falsity and seek to blame it for the church’s woes would do well to put their own house in order, for many of them accept without demur erroneous concepts palmed off on the churches by Augustine.

The Augustinian Worldview

It is worth asking at this point what this worldview involves and why it is so objectionable. Quite contrary to biblical teaching, many of the creeds and confessions of the mainline churches teach the original creation of a perfect physical world, a holy and righteous Adam and Eve our first parents, their sin and fall resulting in a cosmic curse under which we still labour as those who are even born sinful despite total animal-like ignorance, the need for the redemption of creation and its cleansing from sin, and so on. Clearly, so long as we believe this unbiblical nonsense we shall be forever at odds with the genuine findings of modern science. Not only are some of these ecclesiastical dogmas wrong when judged rationally and from a biblical point of view, they are also plainly ludicrous. What the churches have failed to realize is that the present earth as ‘hand-made’ (cheiropoietos) is defective by nature (Rom. 8:18-25; Heb. 1:10-12). From the start, as Genesis 1:1 to go no further implies, it was subjected to futility by God himself and intended to be subdued or mastered by man as he sought to achieve heavenly perfection by his obedience (Gen. 1:26-28).

Challenging the Church

More than forty years ago before leaving England I wrote a lengthy book challenging the church and subjecting some of its cherished dogmas to radical criticism. Though I was fortunate enough to find the principal of a British theological college as my first reader and, in the event, supporter of my thesis, I was warned of difficulties finding a publisher. This timely warning has proved all too valid, and the chaos I myself warned of has finally come to fruition in the turbulent days we are presently experiencing especially in the religious realm. The errant churches including many of the publishers who batten on their errors have resisted any semblance of reformation. But while they dither, our world is falling apart. We move from one crisis to another without any sign of light at the end of the tunnel. Yet as Christians we are supposed to promote Jesus as the light of the world!

Over the years I have not merely indulged in gratuitous negative criticism of the church but have suggested positive alternatives to the erroneous dogmas that deform its image. This being so, it is high time that the churches were called to account and that room was made for genuinely Christian truth to be proclaimed. In pursuit of this objective I urge readers to peruse in particular my Challenging The Church and Augustine: Asset or Liability?, wrestle with some of the issues I deal with and call the churches’ bluff. The Bible may well be a best seller, but it is more than questionable whether it is the best read and best understood of books.

PS On finishing the above I have watched part of Bettany Hughes’ castigation of Augustine on her TV program Divine Women.

Sin and the Distortion of Scripture

Even when I was a child I thought in terms of going to heaven when I died. I always thought of heaven as being better than earth. After all it was the place where Jesus lived and he loved children like me.In my maturity, however, I find myself being told that I am in error. No less a scholar than N.T.Wright would have me believe that I am not going to heaven at all but that I am going to inherit a new heaven and earth even though these are described as the abode of righteousness, that is, heaven (cf. 2 Pet. 3:13)!

No Heaven

Nowadays (that is, in the second decade of the 21st century) various writers are telling us that the notion of going to a spiritual heaven to dwell with the God who is spirit is an erroneous Gnostic idea. True Christianity, we are told, does not regard the body as evil as some of the Gnostics did but is held to be of prime importance. So along with the idea that Jesus was transformed and given a body of glory at his resurrection from the grave (sic), I shall as a believer be as he is and where he is (John 17:24). What will happen is this: The present material world though subject to burning and purification will be renewed and I, as a believer, shall be among its inhabitants. Somehow or other this does not ring true. So it is worth enquiring what apart from Gnosticism lies behind what for many is a new teaching.

The Curse

Historically, this world has been seen as the victim of the curse imposed on the whole creation (not simply this world but the entire universe) as a result of Adam’s sin. It has been argued that the reason why this age proves so difficult to deal with, not to mention to exercise dominion over, is that along with us ourselves it is cursed and stands in need of redemption. This scenario is problematic on a number of counts.


First, creation, unlike its Creator, has a beginning and therefore an end (Gen. 1:1; 8:22; Mt. 24:35). To go no further this suggests that it was never perfect, and therefore complete and independent in itself, as tradition would have us believe. Again, Scripture clearly indicates that what is ‘made by hand’ (cheiropoietos), that is, created, is pejorative and stands in strong contrast with what is ‘not made by hand’ (acheiropoietos, Heb. 9:11,24, etc.). Third, Genesis 6-9 appears to teach that the so-called cosmic curse terminates when the covenant with Noah is established (cf. Isa. 54:9f.). Then even the Lord Jesus himself teaches that there are two ages, the present one and that which is to come (Luke 20:34-36, cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:22, etc.). These are apparently different by nature and so divinely intended. While sin in the event is certainly a factor in making the present age more difficult than it would otherwise be, the difference or contrast is not primarily on account of sin. Sin only makes a bad situation worse (cf. Gal. 1:4).

Biblical Teleology

While there is a great deal more evidence at our disposal, enough has been said to support my thesis which on the assumption of its truth renders the almost exclusive (Augustinian) stress on sin dubious in the extreme. For if creation was originally perfect and only spoilt by sin (1* The idea that an originally perfect Adam could sin and ruin a perfect creation is a profound, indeed an inexplicable mystery in itself.), first, the biblical distinction between earth and heaven is virtually eroded and rendered meaningless, and, second, the same could presumably happen with regard to a perfect heaven. The mere thought is blasphemous. The truth is that man who was created dust but in the image of God was intended from the start to aspire to heaven, as Genesis 2:16f. surely implies. The reason why he failed in his bid was that he sinned (broke the commandment) and came short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). In other words, he failed to meet the precondition of eternal life, or new birth, which is righteousness (cf. Lev. 18:5). If he had been created righteous, he would have arrived before he set off on what Scripture presents as his pilgrimage or evolution from conception to coronation, from babyhood to adulthood, from immaturity to maturity, from a body of dust to a spiritual body, from Eden to eternity, from earth to heaven. Eternal life would have been effortlessly guaranteed. (2* On this subject see my The Order of Salvation) As it happens biblical teleology involves man’s perfection (his being made perfect) or glorification which is achieved by God himself in Christ.


Sin is certainly a massive problem in Scripture but it is overcome by Christ’s atonement. The main problem, however, is creation itself as was implied above. In the nature of the case we cannot attain to glory in the flesh on what is an intrinsically ephemeral earth whose main characteristic is death. Somehow or other we have to arrive at our intended destination even if like Jesus we do not sin. Paul makes it all plain in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. Whether we die or not makes no difference. To escape an inherently corruptible creation we all of necessity have to be changed. The tragedy is that the churches under the spell of Augustine of Hippo have all miserably misunderstood the biblical message. This message is that not only are we sinners but also that we are flesh living on a perishable earth. (3* See further my Not Only But Also) Since this is so, God in his love for the world (people) sent his Son Jesus into the world (earth) to bring to light both immortality and incorruption (Gk. 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:53).


This glorious message of grace has been largely hidden from us by concentration on sin. Over the centuries theologians blinded by the distorting effects of sin have failed to realize that all created things which manifest the glory of God (Rom. 1:20) are destined for destruction (Heb. 12:27) irrespective of sin. For God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:26-29).


See further my:

Our Heavenly Call;

Man’s Fourfold State;

From Here to Eternity;

The Ascent of Man;



Re Resurrection Transformation

Though it has a long history, the belief that Jesus was transformed at his resurrection is clearly false. Why?

  1. Transformation is bluntly a denial of physical corporeal resurrection. Only those who like David undergo corruption are changed at their resurrection.
  2. After his resurrection Jesus says specifically that he is still flesh (Luke 24:39, cf. John 20:26-29).
  3. Jesus denied that he was a ghost when he walked on the sea (Mt. 14:26) and he does the same after his resurrection.
  4. If Jesus had been transformed, he would have been invisible (2 Cor. 4:18). Doubting Thomas’ physical examination of him would have been impossible.
  5. The difference between the Jesus that Peter et al. saw and the glorified Jesus that Paul ‘saw’ ought to be plain to all (cf. Rev. 1,2,19, etc.).
  6. Jesus had prayed that his people might see his glory (John 17:24). It was certainly not evident in the man mistaken for the gardener (John 20:15).
  7. If Jesus already enjoyed new life, why did he eat with his disciples? If we take John 6 seriously, we are forced to infer that he was still flesh.
  8. If it is claimed that he was trying to convince his disciples that he was still alive in this way (cf. Luke 8:55), it might also be concluded that he was trying to deceive them!
  9. According to John 20:17 Jesus had not yet ascended. If ascension and transformation are correlative, clearly transformation had not yet occurred. The idea that ascension is mere drama designed to indicate that Jesus’ resurrection appearances were about to terminate, we deny the import of the dei (Gk) of 1 Corinthians 15:53. By so doing we also bring into question the necessity of the new birth (cf. John 3:7).
  10. If Jesus was no longer flesh (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50), why all the stress on his non-corruption in Acts 2 and 13? If he had already been changed, then corruption was no longer an issue. Clearly like all human beings he had to be changed at his ascension precisely because he had been physically raised and was still corruptible flesh (1 Cor. 15:50-53).
  11. Jesus as man had gained eternal life for himself by keeping the law (Lev. 18:5, cf. Gen. 2:17) at his baptism (e.g. Mt. 3:13-17). He had no need to die but he did so for us (cf. John 10:17f.). If this is so, when he rose again from the dead it was as if he had never died. In other words, he had retaken the life he had freely laid down as he promised (John 2:19; 10:17f.).
  12. Again, if his Father had denied the need for his death when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:39,42), Jesus like a sinless Adam would not have died and undergone resurrection. However, he would nonetheless have had to be changed at his ascension. A resurrection in contrast with an ascension transformation is not intrinsic to human life. For Paul ascension transformation (1 Cor. 15:51-53) is as naturally necessary as new birth is for Jesus (John 3:1-8). See further my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities)

Too many exegetes confuse Jesus’ resurrection with that of David who died for his own sins and so experienced inevitable corruption (decay) (Acts 2,13). Their problem would seem to be that they fail to recognise that they are falling prey to Docetism. According to Hebrews 2:17 the only difference between Jesus and the rest of us is that Jesus did not sin (John 8:46; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). He lived the perfect(ed) human life (Heb. 7:28). If he had been changed at his resurrection he would not have done so. A normal (sinless) human life in the flesh terminates with ascension transformation, not resurrection.

See further my Did Jesus Rise Physically From The Grave?.

Human Personhood

Over the years there has been much contention among Christians and others about when a human embryo becomes a person. While it is obvious, one would think, that life starts at conception, is what is conceived in a woman’s womb rightly regarded as a human person? Anti-abortionists usually maintain that it is and that abortion is tantamount to murder. Part of the problem is the definition of a person but most assume that it is an individual possessing conscious intelligence. We say that mankind is made in the image of God but there is debate about definition even here. What is it that differentiates a man or woman who is flesh as deriving from the earth (Gen. 2:7; 3:19) from animals in general which are also earth-derived flesh (Gen. 1:24; 2:19)? So what does the Bible teach us either explicitly or implicitly. If we have no specific text to refer to, what legitimate inferences can we draw from the biblical or theological data?


According to Hebrews 11:6 we cannot please God without faith. This implies, first, that animals that do not have faith cannot be saved, and, secondly, that human babies, though made in the image of God at least in principle, cannot either. This is the consistent message of Scripture and it appears to be the implication of Hebrews 11. Paul tell us plainly that flesh and blood being naturally perishable cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50), and Jesus asserts that what is born of flesh is flesh. Even the spirit as created (cf. e.g. Num. 16:22; Zech. 12:1) must necessarily be born again to enter the kingdom (John 3:6). Clearly at the start animals and babies, apart from the image of God, are in the same category. This is illustrated most obviously by Jesus who at his incarnation was born in an animal stable. Little wonder that he later taught that the flesh in contrast with the spirit is profitless (John 6:63, cf. Rom. 7:18).


But faith is based on knowledge (Rom. 10:17). Here again both animals and babies (Dt. 1:39, etc.) are affected by the same deficiency. Without knowledge of the law which promises life (Gen. 2:16f.; Rom. 7:10) there can be no faith. But by the same token there can be no sin, for without knowledge of the law, sin lies dead (Rom. 7:8, cf. 4:15; Gen. 2:16f., pace those who believe in original sin). The truth is then that (knowledge of) the law provides the basis for both faith and sin, and where it is absent (cf. John 9:41; 15:22,24), there is no room for either justification or condemnation, salvation or damnation for either animals or babies. So Augustine’s grotesque idea that all unbaptized babies who do not even know how to call for their parents (Isa. 7:14-16; 8:4) are damned is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. The plain truth is that knowledge is intrinsic to human personality.


Fundamental to our nature as persons is the ability to be either obedient or disobedient. Without the commandment Adam was innocent (Gen.2:16f.; 3:5,22). Once he learned the commandment, however, he epitomized disobedience (Gen. 2:17; 3:17; Rom. 5:12). Jesus on the other hand, the second Adam, epitomized obedience. As Paul says in Romans 6:16, we all establish our moral characters as persons not by being born either good or evil, righteous or sinful, but by the way we react to (the) law when we come to understand it (cf. e.g. Ex. 15:25f.; Dt. 8:2,16). Both Adam and Eve broke the commandment when they came to know it and became transgressors; by contrast Jesus uniquely kept the law throughout his earthly life and was eventually described as the Righteous One (Acts 7:52; 22:14; 1 John 2:1, etc.). He was thus able to offer himself precisely as the righteous one for us the unrighteous sons and daughters of Adam and Eve who all follow their pattern of behaviour (Rom. 5:12; 1 Pet. 3:18).

Righteousness and Holiness

At birth Jesus was clearly neither righteous nor holy but like all human persons had to attain to his status by his reaction to the law. (1* There is a sense in which Jesus as the Son of God was holy, that is, separate by birth. For all that, he still had to maintain his separateness in the course of his earthly life lived in total obedience to his Father, cf. Mt. 5:48; 19:21. He thereby proved his pedigree.) The OT laid far more stress on the righteousness and holiness of God than it did on his love and grace even if these were not absent. It is therefore not surprising that the need for the chosen people to be righteous (Dt. 6:25; 10:12f.) and holy (Lev. 11:44f.; 19:2) like their Creator is strongly emphasised. Just as righteousness and holiness are characteristics of the living God, so are they of his people who are intended to become his sons and daughters. Without them no one, least of all unknowing animals including babies, will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

Flesh and Covenant

According to Paul we are, first, flesh, the offspring of Adam who stemmed from the earth, and, second, spirit (1 Cor. 15:46). As modern procreated babies we are flesh as born of woman who typified the earth as stemming from Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 11) and are like animals that know nothing (cf. Gen. 2:16f.; 3:5,22; Dt. 1:39; 1 K. 3:7,9; Heb.5:12-14). Even Jesus as a genuine human being was born in an animal stable. When we consider that we are all born naked (Job 1:21), ignorant (Dt. 1:39), uncircumcised (Gen. 17:12,14), morally innocent, untested, live on a limited diet (note Gen. 2:16 and compare Gen. 9:3; Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 2:2) and require time to be weaned, it is little wonder that God did not make a covenant, no matter how minimally mutual, with Adam but simply commanded him. (2* For more detail see my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?) In fact the first divine covenant was made with Noah who by comparison with Adam had obviously undergone some development or evolution. Furthermore, in contrast with the majority of the churches even in the 21st century God did not baptise babies in the Christian sense but used the flood to cleanse Noah of his infantile filth (1 Pet. 3:21, cf. Ezek. 16:9) as he later used the crossing of the Red Sea to ‘baptise’ the people Moses led out of bondage to heathen Egypt (1 Cor. 10:1-5).


John 3:1-8 makes it clear beyond reasonable dispute that flesh, which is naturally corruptible (subject to decay, Rom. 8:20f.) and wear (Col. 2:22) like the earth (dust) from which it is taken, cannot be regenerated, but the spirit can and must (John 3:7). Only Jesus who kept the law, the precondition of salvation (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5) avoided death on his own account (Acts 2:23f.) and, at his ascension transformation, achieved the perfection of God, his Father. If this is true, once more we are forced to recognize that regeneration is confined to human beings endowed with conscious intelligence and moral capacity. Admittedly, because we all sin (Rom. 3:23; 5:12) and fail to meet the condition, we all apart from Jesus have to rely on him as our covenant representative to save us, but this in itself proves yet again that only persons are capable of doing this. Animals and babies do not qualify for the simple reason that they are not capable of faith by which we attain to the righteousness or justification which precedes regeneration (Lev. 18:5, etc.). (3* Traditionally, almost all the churches have followed Augustine who taught original sin. This has forced them to posit regeneration (and hence infant baptism) as coming first in the order of salvation (ordo salutis). This is clearly a serious error. See, e.g., my Redemption Applied (Order of Salvation) ; Cart-Before-The-Horse Theology)


Since knowledge is of the essence of the image of God and is the prime point of difference between humans and animals, I conclude that babies who know nothing are only potential persons just as the children Jesus blessed were potential members of the kingdom (Mark 10:14-16). (In blessing them Jesus was imitating God at the beginning, Gen. 1:28; 9:1). This is further suggested by the difference made between a mother and her fetus in Exodus 21:22. Whereas the murder of an adult warranted the death penalty (Gen. 9:6, etc.), the destruction of the unborn fetus merely required a fine (cf. Dt. 22:6). Even the reference in 2 Kings 15:16 suggests that it is the injury done to the women that primarily involved reprobation. So the fact that mankind is not covenanted until Noah who on the assumption of recapitulation surely represents the childhood of the race leads us to believe that knowledge is essential to personhood. (4* The fact that certain antediluvians were capable of both sin and justification prior to the covenant with Noah is no argument against this contention. After all, though they were ‘infants’ from a racial point of view, they were nonetheless grown-up as individuals. See e.g. my Adam’s Genealogy and Destiny; Man’s Fourfold State; Christianity Simply and Briefly Explained) If this is in fact the case, anti-abortionists who insist that the fetus is a person are guilty of using a bad argument to support what is basically a good cause. Abortion on demand is surely contrary to the will of God. On the other hand, I see no biblical reason why in certain cases like rape abortion should not be permissible. God has taken the trouble to make us persons in his image and as persons we must be expected to act responsibly according to the abilities he has given us. This is surely the implication of Galatians 4:1-7. Paul, like the author of Hebrews 11, fails to include unself-conscious babies among the heirs of salvation. He begins with children as slaves, adolescent Jews as servants and believers as (adopted) sons. Only such were ever subject to testing which is the lot of us all here on earth. By this we shall be found either worthy or unworthy of eternal life (cf. Dt. 8:2; Acts 13:46-48; 2 Thes. 1:5, etc.). Babies like animals are out of the question since they cannot be either justified by faith or judged by works.

Final Comment

I deny the assertion of some that a decision on the time of qualification for personhood is completely arbitrary and subjective. If we give the biblical evidence its full weight, we qualify as persons at the onset of childhood, that is, when we begin to acquire knowledge and become capable of naming animals, recognising rainbows, sinning and exercising faith (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 22:21; 32:30; Heb. 11). By a strange coincidence this is precisely what happened to me!

Points to Ponder

If babies are saved or if unbaptised they go to hell as Augustine taught, then both heaven and hell must be full of babies – an impossible and absurd scenario!

The Bible clearly indicates that we are first (pro)created, that is, brought into being, then, secondly, subjected to evolutionary development. (5* I prefer to express myself this way. The notion of ‘evolutionary creationism’ (see e.g. Alexander, ch.8) seems to me to blur the biblical distinction between the creation of the race and its subsequent development.) An undeveloped or unevolved baby is effectively stillborn, a non-person (cf. Num. 12:12; Job 3:16; Eccl. 6:3). (My wife who is now nearly 86 had a twin sister who died when she was ten days old. The difference between the two is enormous. Both were (pro)created together, but only my wife under the providence of God evolved into the mature Christian and admirable person she now is. While the latter has been tested and tried as a true believer, the spirit of the other has returned to its Maker and her fleshly body consigned to the earth from which it came in the first place, Eccl. 12:7.)


In brief I conclude that flesh (dust) (cf. 1 Cor. 15:46-48) devoid of knowledge which is untested, without faith, covenant status and hope of regeneration is not a person as biblically understood. Between a fleshly infant born in a stable and a mature or perfected adult (Heb. 5:7-10) who was crowned with glory (Heb. 2:9) and took his seat at his Father’s side (Heb. 1:3) there is a yawning gap. It could only be bridged by the Son of God himself. Initially, he was made lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7,9) but, finally, he was worshipped by them (Heb.1:4,6; 1 Pet. 3:22). He alone was a fully perfected person (Heb. 7:28) who, having begun in the ground, ascended into heaven (Eph. 4:9-10, cf. John 3:13; 8:14;13:3; 16:28). He was the vine while those who abided in him were fruitful branches. The rest were consigned to burning like the earth from which they stemmed (Mt. 13:40-42; John 15:6, cf. Ezek. 15:1-8; Heb. 6:7f.; 12:27-29; 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12).

See further my:

Are Babies Saved?;

Concerning Infant Salvation;

Topsy-Turvy Theology;

Jesus The Perfected Man – The Epitome of Creation and Evolution;

Creation and / or Evolution;

Why Infant Baptism is Unchristian.



D.Alexander, CREATION OR EVOLUTION, Oxford, 2008.


Note: On personhood see, for e.g., R.T.France in The Living God, London/Illinois, 1970, pp.19f., 37.

Nature and Original Sin

Though I have written much over the years on original sin, I have omitted to deal adequately with the idea that since Adam’s so-called Fall from original righteousness, human nature as such is sinful. (1* See, however, my articles More Meditation On Original Sin; Human Nature)

First, it is important to be aware of what the traditional dogma of original sin actually teaches and the definition of the Belgic Confession (Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin) is helpful at this point:

By the disobedience of Adam and Eve, original sin has been spread through the whole human race. It is a corruption of all human nature – an inherited human depravity ….

(Article 9 of the CE refers to original righteousness, the corruption of the Nature of every man, the remaining infection of nature or lust of the flesh and the concupiscence which has of itself the nature of sin. See also the Westminster Confession of Faith 6.)

For me living in the 21st century there are basic difficulties with this. While there is no denying that human sin abounds, I am nonetheless immediately prompted to ask how man’s birth nature could change if we are all the offspring of Adam (Gen. 5:1-3) who was ‘born’ innocent (knowing neither good nor evil, Gen. 2:17, 3:5, 22, cf. Dt. 1:39; Rom. 9:11)? After all, Jesus himself taught that flesh gives birth to flesh (and not to sin) just as Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6), and he nowhere suggests that sin is inherited. Indeed, he clearly implies, like Paul in Romans 7:9f., that for sin to occur the law (or commandment) has to be broken and so asserts that the slaves of sin are those who commit sin (John 8:34). He confirms his point by teaching that where there is no knowledge, there is no guilt (John, 15:22,24, cf. 9:41). And Paul teaches plainly in Romans 4:15, 5:13 and 7:8 that where there is no law (or understanding, Rom. 7:1,7) there is no sin.

Native Innocence

The truth is that an inherited sinful nature is an ecclesiastical myth or invention which is ultimately blasphemous. While it is undeniably true that we are born into an already sinful world (2* This is surely the meaning of Psalm 51:5. The LXX refers to ‘sins’ and ‘iniquities’ (plur.) as does 51:9.), so was Jesus whose own mother needed salvation (Luke 1:47) not to mention his forebears in general (Mt. 1:1-16). Indeed, the very reason why he came into the world was to overcome it (John 16:33, cf. Gen. 1:26-28), destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and to save his people from their personally committed sins (Mt. 1:21). In other words, all the offspring of Adam (cf. Gen. 5:1-3), who was created not knowing good and evil, including Jesus himself (Isa. 7:14-16), began life innocent (Dt. 1:39, etc.). This inference is proved conclusively by Paul who tells us that apart from the law sin lies dead (Rom. 7:8) and that where there is no law as in the case of animals and babies (cf. Rom. 9:11), there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15, etc.).

Repeated Sin

If this is so, and the notion that the universal commission of sin depends on original sin as traditionally understood is denied, how do we all become sinners? The plain answer is that like Adam we all break the commandment in our turn (3* Pace Art. 9 of the CE). It is not a question of imitation (which Augustine of Hippo in his controversy with Pelagius rightly repudiated) but of repetition. For if Adam and Eve committed sins without a parental legacy, it is little wonder that the rest of us who have theirs (and those of their posterity to boot) also blot our copybooks. But even so, why do we all in our turn repeat Eve’s first sin? The answer is for the same reason as she sinned in the first place: she could not control her fleshly desires and the wiles of the devil as Genesis 3:1-6 plainly teaches. While Adam participated with Eve (Gen. 3:7), he was regarded as more guilty than she was because he had received the commandment directly from God. And if Eve became the ‘mother’ of the heathen who were deceived apart from the law (cf. Rom. 1:18-32; 2:12-16; Eph. 4:17-19, cf. Heb. 3:13), Adam became the ‘father’ of the Jews who had the written law. Thus the Jews were regarded as more blameworthy than the heathen they despised (Amos 3:2; Rom. 2:24-27). But that sin is not inherited is made plain not merely by Ezekiel 18, for example, but by Paul who tells us that our problem is that we are flesh (Rom. 7:14). Thus we are informed, on the one hand, that no flesh will boast before God (1 Cor. 1:29, etc.) for all are sinners because they break the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16) and, on the other, that only Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, overcame in the flesh (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.). Furthermore, it is vital to note that children cannot be accounted guilty and punished for their parents’ sins (Dt. 24:16). Though they may suffer the consequences of the latter, they are not liable because of them. Exodus 20:5f.; 34:6f. and Numbers 14:18 imply that along with the ill-effects of their sins, we also benefit from the good they do us (cf. Luke 11:13).

Solidarity and Separation

As in so many things children repeat the pattern of behaviour provided by their forebears of whom the first were Adam and Eve. Physically we inherit many of their characteristics by necessity. Colour is but one illustration of this. As we have already noted, Jesus tells us that flesh gives birth to flesh just as seed-bearing plants yield plants according to kind (Gen. 1:11). Consequently both boys and girls follow the same pattern of physical development as their parents. Here recapitulation is undeniable. However, the same cannot be said of the moral sphere where fundamental difference is often plainly evident. In his work on Chronicles (p.207) Michael Wilcock quotes Thomas Fuller commenting on the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 as follows:

“Lord, I find the genealogy of my Saviour strangely chequered with four remarkable changes in four generations. Rehoboam begat Abia: a bad father begat a bad son. Abia begat Asa: a bad father and a good son. Asa begat Jehoshaphat: a good father and a good son. Jehoshaphat begat Joram: a good father and a bad son. I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed: that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not inherited: that is good news for my son.”

On the face of it, judging by his last comment Fuller appears by implication at least to be denying original sin. Be that as it may, at this point the reader may maintain that undeniable differences in general character do not totally cancel out sin and that original sin is a necessary postulate. However, there is one outstanding case in Scripture which proves conclusively that original sin and universal (moral) corruption are false and that sin cannot be inherited. That case is Jesus who, instead of breaking the commandment as Adam and all the rest of his posterity did, conspicuously kept it and thereby became the second or last Adam. (4* On this see further my The Redundancy Of Original Sin) So, though we are all born of woman and necessarily experience solidarity in the flesh, we can nonetheless theoretically enjoy separation in sin even if this was in fact achieved by Jesus alone as God clearly intended. (5* The notion that Jesus was sinless because he was born of a virgin apart from fleshly concupiscence is absurd. There is no law in the Bible against heterosexual desire and its consummation in the sex act, cf. John 1:13. Indeed, according to Genesis 19:31 it is a universal (animal) experience. It was designed by God himself to produce the fruit of the womb, Dt. 7:13, etc., and thereby to populate the earth, Gen. 1:28; 9:1,7. It was also endorsed by Jesus himself, Mt. 19:12, who clearly linked his own unusual birth with his incarnation. But he was doubtless aware that even the first Adam was a created son of God ‘born’ of (mother) earth, Luke 3:38; Acts 17:28. See further my The Fatherhood of God)

Native Moral Corruption

But if following Adam’s putative Fall human nature itself is morally corrupt, even Jesus could not escape, unless, of course, he was not truly man, that is, incarnate. On the assumption that he was a real man, however, we could argue that with Jesus God started again. But if we do this, we are faced with the problem Moses faced in Exodus 32 and Deuteronomy 9: Jesus loses his relationship with and is permanently separated from his forebears. If this is so, we are compelled to ask what happened to the plan of salvation originally propounded to Abraham. God’s own honour is at stake. Enough said! The obvious solution is to jettison original sin which is certainly not taught in the Bible. As Numbers 14 in particular shows, little ones in contrast with their sinful parents are innocent and free to enter the Promise Land (Num. 14:31).


Clearly for the atonement and hence salvation to be universally effective (Heb. 9:15; 11:39f.; 1 John 2:2), the only way for Jesus to go back to the beginning to include all his believing predecessors was by recapitulation (cf. Heb. 11). Only in this way could he be made like his brothers in every respect (Heb. 2:17). In other words, as Irenaeus and his contemporaries saw, he personally had to begin at the beginning and experience what is the universal human experience, that is, birth of woman who in procreation typifies the earth. Thus in light of Genesis 3:20 this means that we all including Jesus (Eph. 4:9) stem from (mother) earth as Adam did and like him we are dust (1 Cor. 15:47a). If we then ask for more detailed explanation, we reply that at procreation while men as the image of God play the role of God (1 Cor. 11:7), women as we have just seen play the role of the earth which physically is the mother of us all. Furthermore, this shows how the virgin-born Jesus as born of woman was dust every bit as much as Adam was. In fact, had he not been, he could never have become the second Adam. He would not have been a man at all.

Fallen Flesh

Some theologians like Karl Barth, C.K.Barrett and others have taught that Jesus took on fallen human flesh! Apart from noticing that there is no such animal (!) and that flesh as deriving from a corruptible creation is naturally subject to corruption (decay), this idea is intolerable. It contains two obvious fallacies: first, it assumes wrongly that original sin is true, and, second, that Jesus was tainted by sin which Scripture denies (except of course as in 2 Cor. 5:21). What certainly is true is that Jesus as a genuine human being was both mortal (he died) and corruptible (he visibly aged) like the earth from which he emanated through his mother. But he was flesh only for a little while (Heb. 2:7,9; 1 Cor. 15:50, cf. Ps. 103:14-19).

Covenant with Adam

If human nature as such following the so-called fall of Adam is questionably regarded as corrupt, the reason for this must be that Adam was the covenant head and representative of all his posterity. Though historically this view has been strongly advocated, for all that it must be rigorously rejected both for lack of evidence and on theological grounds. Nowhere in Scripture is there any indication that God made a covenant with Adam. Indeed, given more space I would argue at length that such an idea is impossible. Apart from anything else it would ruin the plan of salvation, for Jesus would inevitably have been caught in its net. (6* See further my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?; Thoughts On ‘Adam, The Fall And Original Sin’) If he was, obviously the rest of us would be. Since it is universally acknowledged that he was not, we are bound to deny that we are either. But this has not been the view held by the churches whether Catholic or Protestant. So on the assumption that the Bible is our authority, we must quarrel with the churches and reject the idea that there is some sort of hiatus between Jesus and all other human beings apart from his failure to commit sin (Heb. 2:17; 4:15).

Augustine’s Methodology or Modus Operandi

Though Augustine of Hippo did not invent the theory of original sin that is associated with his name, once he had accepted it, he was thoroughly committed to it and virtually cemented it into our tradition. In light of this it may well be asked why. Apart from misunderstanding Genesis 1 and Romans 5:12, for example, the answer is that instead of arguing from Scripture, he based his views on the church practice current in is day. What do I mean? It has long been recognized that the dogma of original sin has been the main support of infant baptism. But so far as Augustine himself was concerned, according to Peter Sanlon in Adam The Fall and Original Sin (p.94) (on which see my article), infant baptism came first. He reasoned that if infants were baptized, as by his time they widely were, and baptism signified salvation from sin, then babies must be sinful even though they were incapable of actually sinning. In this situation the notion of original sin conveniently explained the necessity or raison d’etre of infant baptism. What in effect Augustine was doing was denying the sufficiency of Scripture and basing the pernicious and blasphemous doctrine of original sin on erroneous church practice. (7* Regrettably John Stott does the same thing when he argues on the basis of the ecclesiastical view that Jesus was physically transformed at his resurrection. From this false premise he maintains that the physical creation will be redeemed. See The Contemporary Christian, ch. 4, on which see my John Stott on the Putative Resurrection Transformation of Jesus) Alternatively expressed, he was prompting the church to overrule Scripture, and this the Roman Church, which has slavishly followed him (Augustine), has done throughout its subsequent history. Thus when church practice requires justification and the Bible fails to provide it, support is found either in tradition or ecclesiastical fiat at which point development of doctrine enters the fray. (8* Compare Cardinal Newman in Victorian times.) In this regard, we have only to think of the celibacy of the clergy, Mariolatry, the Immaculate Conception and the Heavenly Assumption of Mary who is even considered as co-Redemptrix. Not without reason does Roman Catholicism repudiate the sufficiency of Scripture and reject to this day the Reformation so whole-heartedly cherished by committed Protestants. What is more, in this way it adds insult to injury by effectively barring the way to a new reformation so urgently needed in the 21st century.



P.Sanlon in ADAM, THE FALL and ORIGINAL SIN, eds. Madueme and Reeves, Michigan, 2014.

J.R.W.Stott, The Contemporary Christian, Leicester, 1992.

M.Wilcock, The Message of Chronicles, Leicester, 1987.


Additional Note

It is well known that Augustine’s early education involved Neo-Platonism and Manicheism. Perhaps Greek influence on his teaching was greater than is generally realized. In his Jesus Master and Lord (pp.160f.) H.E.W. Turner briefly highlights the difference between the (dynamic) Hebrew and the (static) Greek conception of God. When we consider that for the Hebrews God, though transcendent, was nonetheless immanently dynamic within the historical process, and that for the Greeks the Godhead was static and remote, above and beyond that process, it is difficult not to conclude that Augustine was often governed more by Greek than by biblical thinking. Reminding ourselves that he viewed sex as sinful (like the flesh itself), it is reasonable to infer that he never truly outgrew the Manicheism he embraced before becoming ostensibly Christian. Of course, we can correctly contend that Augustine believed in the authority of Scripture. But this does not mean that he was always consistent or that he always interpreted it properly. After all, Jesus deftly demonstrated the abject failure of the Bible-believing Pharisees at this point (John 5:39).

See further my:

Augustine: Asset or Liability?;

Thoughts On ‘Adam, The Fall And Original Sin’;

The Redundancy Of Original Sin;

J.I.Packer on Original Sin.

Evangelical Fallacies

Evangelicals claim to believe the evangel or good news and base their theology on Scripture regarded as the word of God.

Professor Howard Marshall, who was apparently a month older than me and died recently (2017?), once said that the first theological work he read was In Understanding Be Men by T.C.Hammond. Not surprisingly the same is true in my case and consequently I have tried hard to become mature in my understanding. However, nearly sixty years later it has become painfully obvious that many evangelicals have failed to gain the maturity urged by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:20. Bound by tradition they continue to believe things that are plainly contrary to Scripture. This being the case, I outline some of them as follows:

1. Most if not all evangelicals believe in what is known as original sin which was cemented into church tradition by Augustine of Hippo. It teaches that we all sinned ‘in Adam’ and so we are born sinners. The problem is that Romans 5:12 on which Augustine relied fails to teach this. Augustine, whose knowledge of Greek was apparently minimal, depended on a false Latin translation of this verse to arrive at his conclusion.

As a rule Psalm 51:5 is also held to support the dogma, but the Jews and the Orthodox rightly reject the idea. Regrettably, both its translation and its interpretation are often suspect.

See further my The Redundancy Of Original Sin; Are We Sinners by Birth?; Does Romans Teach Original Sin?; J.I.Packer on Original Sin, etc.

2. John 3 is perhaps the best known chapter in the Bible but it is certainly among the worst understood. It teaches that we must (John 3:7) be born again because we are born of the flesh (cf. John 1:13; 3:6). Augustine taught that rebirth or birth from above was necessary on account of original sin. By contrast, Jesus maintained that we cannot even see, let alone enter, the (spiritual) kingdom of God because we are flesh. In other words, according to this passage our nature, not our sin, is the prime problem that must be overcome.

See further my The Doctrine of Regeneration; Why and How We Must Be Born Again

3. The point at issue becomes plainer when we consider 1 Corinthians 15:35-56 where Paul tells us that we must be changed. Whereas Jesus drew attention to our natural spirit, the apostle focuses on our fleshly body. Like Jesus he tells us that we cannot inherit the kingdom of God on account of our nature (1 Cor. 15:50), which is perishable flesh and blood, and the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable (spirit). So we must (15:53) be changed. What Augustine considered to be a moral imperative in John 3 is in fact a natural necessity irrespective of sin in both John 3 and 1 Corinthians 15.

See further my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities

4. Many evangelicals hold that 1 Corinthians 15:36-44 involves a change like the one we see after we have sown our gardens: the ugly, unimpressive-looking seed we sowed becomes a wonderful plant (cf. Mark 4:26-29) – an excellent illustration of change. But Paul’s point is that the transformed natural and perishable body (of flesh) must be changed into an imperishable spiritual one, that is, changed in kind not degree, like the temple (John 2:19-21). The apostle doubtless considered that his readers would realise that a perishable seed could only produce a perishable plant (cf. John 3:6; 1 Cor. 15:48; 1 Pet. 1:23). What was needed therefore was an imperishable seed to produce an imperishable plant or glorified body. That is why the new birth was necessary: it occurred before the transformation of the body (cf. 1 John 3:9).

See further my Are Believers Butterflies?

He goes on then to point out that Jesus’ body is a heavenly or glorified one (cf. Phil. 3:21; Rev. 21:22, etc.). But if this is so, Jesus, as incarnate, that is, a man of flesh, must have been born again. Of course, this has been almost universally and strenuously denied on the (Augustinian) assumption that new birth was necessary only for sinners, and Jesus was not a sinner. But if this is so, his transformation, glorification and heavenly session proves beyond question that he was born again. Indeed, according to Paul he was the first to be so (2 Tim. 1:10, cf. 1 Cor. 15:53). All his antecedents (cf. Mt. 1:1-16), as a knowledge of the background of Hebrews 11 proves, were sinners and failed one and all to keep the law and gain the righteousness that was the precondition of eternal life or salvation (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.). Jesus was their pioneer (Heb. 6:20; 12:2).

Was Jesus Born Again?

5. All this leads on to another fallacy entertained by many evangelicals, especially Anglicans, the idea that Jesus was transformed at his resurrection. Though it has a long history in the church, it is based on very dubious evidence, evidence that founders when its implications are recognised. On its supposition, it is argued by many leading writers that since Jesus’ body of flesh was glorified when he rose from the grave, it pointed to the redemption of what was considered by many misled by Augustine to be a fallen creation. The argument may be ingenious but it is also fallacious. First, there is no evidence for it in the Bible where to my knowledge the resurrection of Jesus is nowhere linked with creation. Second, Jesus’ resurrection was not intrinsic to his personal life. After all, if he had not freely given his flesh for his sheep as one who had not earned the wages of sin, he would not have died at all. But if he hadn’t died, he would not, or rather, could not have been raised. In other words, he would have been like a sinless Adam who as implied above would necessarily have had to undergo a change of nature, that is, be transformed, in order to go back to heaven (John 3:13).

At the end the day, this fallacy implies that Jesus was neither physically raised at his resurrection nor bodily transformed at his ascension. After all, his putative resurrection transformation logically dispensed with his physical resurrection and his failure to be physically resurrected made his ascension transformation unnecessary, though Paul says perishable flesh must be changed by divine design. Bluntly, Jesus’ resurrection transformation nullifies his ascension transformation which is reduced to the termination of his spiritual appearances and so to mere drama. But if Jesus never rose physically from the dead but instead was transformed, he never overcame death and we are still in our sins. Again, if he was not transformed at his ascension, he never overcame his natural corruption or decay. The confusion at this point is massive. Clearly what happened was that Jesus, first, rose physically from the dead and so conquered death, and, second, he was transformed at his ascension and so overcame decay.

Again it must be stressed that if Jesus, like a sinless Adam, had never died, he would still have had to be changed since naturally perishable flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50, cf. 2 Cor. 5:1). In any case, he was transformed at his incarnation with a view to regaining his former glory as man (John 3:13; 6:38f.,62; 13:3; Eph. 4:9f., etc.). He was flesh only for a little while (Heb. 2:9, cf. 1:4; 1 Pet. 3:22).

When Was Jesus Transformed?

The tragedy is that the inference drawn from this fallacy is precisely the redemption of creation which is contrary to clear scriptural teaching like Hebrews 12:25-29 and 2 Peter 3. In fact, it is evident from as early as Genesis 1:1 that creation, being temporary, provisional and visible by nature (2 Cor. 4:18), was naturally impermanent and so never intended for redemption. If it had a beginning, it had to have an end (Gen. 8:22; Mt. 24:35). It was and is intrinsically obsolescent, perishable and hence futile by divine design (Heb. 1:10-12; 8:13; Rom. 8:20). While created things may demonstrate the power of God (Rom. 1:20), they are nonetheless slated for ultimate destruction (Heb. 12:27). The new earth and heavens alluded to by Peter (2:3:13) and John (Rev. 21:1) where righteousness dwells is just another way of describing heaven (cf. Mt. 6:33).

See further my Creation Corruptible By Nature; The Corruptibility Of Creation; The Transience of Creation, The Destruction of the Material Creation, Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?, etc.

6. This leads to the recognition that the idea of a fallen creation is typically Augustinian. Romans 8:18-25 is NOT an echo of Genesis 3:17-19 regarded as the result of sin. The latter relates to the effects of Adam’s sin on mankind as such (cf. Rom. 5:12-21); the former deals with God’s purposive action in creation and points to its end both as termination and goal. Verse 21 clearly refers to the creature man, not to the whole creation which is distinguished in verse 22. Translators misled by false interpretation have got it wrong.

See further my Romans 8:18-25 In Brief; The Flesh

7. These fallacies inevitably affect the theology of many evangelicals in other ways. Contrary to much modern teaching our goal in life is to go to heaven or the presence of God (Phil. 3:14; 1 Thes. 2:12; Heb. 3:1; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:11), not to live on a newly re-created earth which in the nature of the case would not be eternal. If this is so, then it is vital for us who are created imperfect, that is, immature, to attain to perfection. Because we cannot keep the law ourselves and gain the righteousness which is the precondition of salvation (perfection), we have no option but to accept Christ as Saviour (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). We do this by faith. Fortunately, evangelicals are noted for their acceptance of justification by faith. Regrettably, however, many belie this by their errant practice in other ways. For example, they adopt infant baptism which by its very nature eliminates faith. Little wonder that many who are ‘baptized’ show no evidence of the conversion (repentance and faith) and regeneration that baptism in the NT signifies. The stark truth is that we are no more born Christian than Adam was but have to become Christian by faith and regeneration. Even Jesus was not baptized until he had kept the law (the precondition of regeneration) and won his Father’s approbation (Mt. 3:17, and note Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5; Mt. 19:17, etc.).

See further my Why Infant Baptism is Unchristian, The Theology Behind Baptism, etc.

8. This brings us to the Christian worldview. Augustine’s teaching has led evangelicalism into Marcionism. (Marcion was an early church heretic who virtually dispensed with the OT.) In fact, far from being born Christian we all as the offspring of Adam (Gen. 5:1-3) begin at the beginning like Adam himself as flesh which derives from the ground (dust, cf. 1 Cor. 15:47-49). In other words, we all recapitulate the lives of our forebears as Irenaeus and others taught in the early church. Thus we begin as seed and gestate in the womb till we are born of woman who typifies the earth in procreation (cf. Gen. 3:20). We then progressively become infants, children, adolescents and finally adults (cf. 1 Cor. 13:10-12). Briefly, after (pro)creation, provided we mature as we should, we all evolve from flesh to spirit till we achieve the generic nature of God in whose image we are in principle created. The prime example is Jesus himself who as we have already seen was our pioneer or trailblazer. He evolved from ground to glory or from dust to destiny till he regained his place as man (Eph. 4:9f.; John 3:13; 17:5, etc.) at his Father’s side (Heb. 1:3).

It is important to note that man as both individual (Mt. 5:48; Heb. 6:1) and race (Eph. 2:13-22; 4:9-16) evolves to perfection as the body of Christ (cf. John 15:1).

See further my Worldview; Creation and / or Evolution; Perfection; Epitome – Jesus The Epitome Of Recapitulation; Jesus the Epitome of Evolution (Perfection); If the Individual Recapitulates in Miniature the History of the Race …

9. Almost all evangelicals accept the Chalcedonian Creed which maintains that Jesus had two natures at one and the same time (dyophysitism). This means, first, that he retained his divine nature throughout his earthly life, and, second, that he never really became man. This is a denial of the incarnation (John 1:1-18; Phil. 2:1-11) and this the Bible labels as serious heresy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). It is little wonder therefore that in debate with liberals and others evangelicals usually stress the deity rather than the humanity of Jesus. The problem with this is that, contrary to Hebrews 2:14,17 (cf. 1:3b), it jeopardizes the atonement and hence our salvation. It implies that man as such never met the divine requirement of law-keeping apart from which there is no eternal life. Furthermore, if Jesus as man did not gain eternal life at his baptism, he was in no way qualified to give his flesh to atone for our sins.

But Chalcedon harbours another major problem for it denies change. As conservatives, like so many others in the realm of religion, evangelicals fear change. The assumption is that if the Word did not retain his divine nature at his incarnation, he ceased to be God. Of course, this is not the teaching of Scripture but of the ecclesiastics. Yet Jesus is said explicitly by Paul to have ‘emptied himself’ (Phil. 2:7, cf. 2 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 2:9) which can only reasonably mean that he set aside his divine nature just as he set aside his divine glory (cf. John 17:5,24). I conclude therefore that as a man who was perfected in the image of God he gained the generic nature of God (Heb. 1:3) and so became Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). So it is to his image that we who accept him as Lord are conformed (Rom. 8:29; Heb. 2:10-13).

But there is another problem or contradiction involved in the Chalcedonian claim. It implies that man himself cannot change his nature, that is, his flesh and blood, without ceasing to be man. And this some apparently believe. But the apostle explicitly denies this maintaining that unless he changes man cannot go to heaven, as we saw above. So if man can retain his humanity despite changing his nature, so Jesus could retain his divinity despite changing his. Indeed, Jesus was transformed at his incarnation and again at his ascension (cf. John 3:13; 6:62f.; 13:3; 20:17, etc.), and there is never any real doubt that he retained his identity and remained the divine person he always was. (Regarding his change from flesh, see Hebrews 2:7,9 and 5:7. John Stott’s claim in comment on 1 John 4:2 that the flesh assumed by the Son of God in the incarnation has become his permanent possession and has never been set aside is a shocking mistake. Surely what is true is that he retained his humanity, not his flesh! (See The Epistles of John, London, 1964, p.154 and his The Contemporary Christian, ch.4, Leicester, 1992.) Such thinking is the fruit of, first, his Augustinian worldview and, second, his assumption that Jesus was transformed at his resurrection instead of at his ascension. This, of course, leads in turn to the radically erroneous notion that the present creation, considered as ‘fallen’, can be redeemed. (See Rowley as quoted in my The Goodness of Creation) The Bible teaches something different, that is, that the hand-made creation, which has both a beginning and an end, is naturally corruptible, that is, subject to decay (Isa. 34:4; 51:6,8), obsolescence (Luke 12:33) and futility (Rom. 8:20) by divine design irrespective of sin (cf. 2 Cor. 4:18; Col. 2:22; Heb. 1:10-12, etc.). That is the way God made it as Genesis 1:1, to go no further, implies.). Indeed, this implication is confirmed by the fact that our salvation was not only gained by man but also by God (cf. Isa. 45:22, etc.). In light of this, I conclude that Jesus was both God and man and ever remains so. (Note that Isaiah maintains that God refuses to give his glory to another, Isa. 42:8; 48:11, and that before him no flesh will boast, 1 Cor. 1:29.)

See further my More on Docetism; Re Resurrection Transformation

10. Finally, it may be asked why evangelicals nurture these fallacies even in the 21st century. The prime problem it would seem is that traditionally both man and the Bible have been seen as flat uniformities. The truth is, however, that man is not static but dynamic. Otherwise expressed, he is not merely created but is also subject to development or evolution both as an individual and a race. He changes with the passage of time. He advances from immaturity to maturity (perfection) and Jesus is our prime example (Heb. 1:3). (1* Note, first, Jer. 2:21 (seed); second, Ps. 80:8 (plant); third, Isa. 5:1-7 (natural vine); John 15:1 (true vine). See also Mark 4:26-29.) The same can be said with regard to revelation. It was only during the nineteenth century that it was widely seen to be progressive. Thirdly, biblical covenant theology is progressive by nature. Thus we are first baptised into Noah (1 Pet. 3:21, nature), then (if we are Jews) into Moses (1 Cor. 10:2, law), then finally into Christ (Rom. 6:3, etc., spirit). Fourth, we listen far too uncritically to the views of well-known commentators, writers and preachers who have gained a high reputation defending either traditional orthodoxy or new-fangled teaching but whose understanding of Scripture is questionable. Thus I argue that the churches’ blind acceptance of the worldview of Augustine of Hippo has been disastrous. To refer merely to one of his blunders, infant baptism, especially infant baptismal regeneration, is not only contrary to Scripture, it is absurd and should have been abandoned years ago. Refusal to accept reformation is, however, an unfortunate characteristic of religions in general. All too often they end up proving false after inhibiting the growth and development of their devotees on the one hand and persecuting critics on the other.

So far as the church is concerned, instead of loving the world as God does (John 3:16), by following Augustine it has virtually damned it, heathen and Jew alike, hence historical persecution. Remember the Inquisition ….

See further my Augustine: Asset or Liability?; Thoughts on the Redemption of Creation; Worldview; The Biblical Worldview, etc.

Concerning Identity and Nature

Perhaps the most pervasive of all heresies affecting the Christology of the church is Docetism, the idea that Jesus was not truly man but only appeared to be. (1* On this see my Still Docetic) The problem is frequently referred to but almost never properly addressed. Even Evangelicalism tends in the direction of Apollinarianism which taught that the eternal Word replaced the rational soul in Jesus. I would argue that one of the reasons for this is that central to received theology is the almost universal belief enshrined in the Chalcedonian Creed that in becoming man Jesus retained his divine nature in what is known as hypostatic union. In other words, despite denial and the claim that the two natures were united ‘unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably’, in true Nestorian style Jesus had at one and the same time two separate natures, one fully divine and one fully human, hence Chalcedonian Dyophysitism. Though this hypostatic union seems to fly in the face of John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 1 and 2 to go no further, all of which seem to underline the fundamental truth of the incarnation, that is, that the Word did in fact become a genuine man, denial leaves us with a Jesus who was different from all other human beings that ever lived. And if this is true, we are forced to recognise that the second Adam was not really man and that since atonement was made by one who was not like us in every respect (Heb. 2:17), it was therefore ineffective. Assuming that this inference is correct, we are forced to ask why the church has historically made such a basic mistake. I would argue that the problem stems primarily from failure to distinguish between identity and nature. In becoming man the Word did not cease to be who he was for he clearly he retained his identity. But he manifestly changed his nature (Heb. 2:14, cf. Rom. 8:3). If he did not, he never really became man. And this according to John constitutes horrendous heresy (1 John 4:2f.; 2 John 7).

The basic reason why Chalcedon taught the hypostatic union or two natures in one person was that it was deemed impossible for the Word to be fully divine if when he took on flesh he dispensed with his divine nature (cf. kenoticism). However, if this is regarded as a truism of universal application, it leaves us with big problems in other areas for we ourselves as human beings necessarily, that is, by divine decree, change our natures. Both Jesus himself and Paul insist on this. While Jesus teaches that we must be spiritually born again (John 3:7) to enter heaven, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that since flesh and blood cannot by nature inherit the kingdom of God, we must all be corporeally transformed (1 Cor. 15:50,53). It must be noted at this point that sin does not figure in either scenario. Both regeneration and transformation are natural necessities inherent in the plan and purpose of God. So if man can change his nature in order to be perfected in the image of God, so could the Word himself in becoming man. Furthermore, having become man with the express intention of attaining to the glory intended for man but prevented by sin, he had to change his nature again and become the complete image of God (John 3:13; Eph. 4:9f. and note John 20:17.) (2* See further my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities)

The underlying problem here would seem to be that traditional theology has held that man as created was fully formed devoid of development (though noticeably involving the change from dust to flesh) and thus implying that apart from sin he was immutable, fixed and static. Augustine of Hippo whose views have done so much to fashion the thinking of the churches especially in the West held that Adam was created perfect, immortal, holy and righteous but ‘fell’. Creation also was regarded not simply as ‘good’ and serving a temporal purpose but initially perfect despite Genesis 1:2. It was then radically affected by the Fall and its consequent curse. The result of this was that creation is now regarded as ‘fallen’ rather than simply futile by nature, that is, by divine decree (Rom. 8:18-25). (3* Regrettably Romans 8:18-25 has been radically misunderstood. It surely corresponds with passages like Hebrews 1:10-12, and 8:21 clearly refers to the creature who is differentiated from creation though derived from it. See further my Romans 8:18-25, Romans 8:18-25 In Brief; The Relationship Between Genesis 3:15-19 and Romans 8:18-25. The traditional view reflects Augustinian theology on the one hand and exegetical ineptitude on the other.) In other words, tradition has it that man’s nature has changed for the worse by sin. What the Bible really teaches, however, is that man was created imperfect or immature with a view to attaining to the maturity or the perfection of God himself (Lev. 11:44f.; 19:2; Mt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16, etc.). In view of our present subject it is useful to add here that as ‘made by hand’ (usually cheiropoietos in Greek), man, like the physical creation in general (Isa. 45:11f.), was even created ‘defective’ (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16-18, etc.) and therefore needed to be changed on that account alone. Ideas of restoration, however, belong to the temporary old economy and covenant and are contrary to the new covenant which is concerned with replacement (4* Cf. Heb. 10:9b, etc. See further my Manufactured Or Not So) Otherwise expressed, man as the image of God was potentially like him but was prevented from becoming so by the devil.

The truth is that God began at the beginning and made man imperfect or immature and not merely capable of growth, development or evolution but inherently perfectible, that is, designed to attain to the completeness or perfection of God himself (Mt. 5:48, cf. James 1:4). As made in the divine image man was expected or rather required to become his perfect likeness. (5* See my Perfection) In the event, since God always planned to be the Saviour of man (Ps.130:9; Isa. 45:22-25; Rom. 11:32; 1 Cor. 1:29, etc.) whom he intentionally consigned to sin so that he could exercise his mercy (Rom. 11:32; Gal. 3:22) and display the glory of his grace (Eph. 1:6,12,14), he sent his Son Jesus who uniquely met the precondition of salvation by keeping the law as man (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.). And so it was as man that he eventually became the exact image (complete likeness) of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). Bluntly, as created, man was not statically perfect, as Augustine taught, but naturally immature and hence subject to dynamic development and providential change. While as flesh like the earth from which he derived he was capable of attaining to physical perfection or maturity only to lapse into final dissolution like the rest of the animal creation (cf. Heb. 12:27; 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12), as spirit he could be born from above (John 3:3,7, cf. 1:12f.) and achieve perfection in the presence of God (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; 3:12). This was the course pioneered by Jesus (Luke 13:32; Heb. 12:2) who was not so much the perfect man as the progressively perfected man as Hebrews in particular makes clear (Heb. 2:10; 4:14; 5:9; 7:28). As man, he not only acquired the complete image of his Father himself (Heb. 1:3, etc.) but ensured that his sheep did so too by dying to cover their sins (Heb. 2:10-13, etc.), provide them with (an alien) righteousness (Rom. 9:30; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9) and thereby open up for them the door of heaven and the presence of God (John 14:1-3, cf. Eph. 2:17f.).

It is vital to point out again that the Word not only changed his nature when he became man but as man’s trail blazer into heaven also changed it as man. At his incarnation, though the ‘natural’ Son of God, he began his earthly career as a son of Adam (Luke 3:38) born of woman, that is, as dust from the earth (Gen. 3:20; Gal. 4:4, cf. Eph. 4:9f.). He thereby recapitulated the career of the first Adam, his original human progenitor (cf. 1 Cor. 15:47-49) whose son he was through his mother (Luke 3:38). As such he passed through the entire gamut of human development first in the womb (cf. Eden, the womb of the race), then from animal flesh in the stable at Bethlehem, through heathenism as a child in Egypt and adolescent servanthood under the law (Lev. 25:42,55) till, having kept it flawlessly in accordance with Leviticus 18:5 (cf. Gen. 2:17), he gained eternal life at his naturally necessary baptismal regeneration. Had he not done so, he would have been in no position to give his flesh in death for his people. For it is only as a spiritually regenerate son that he could freely offer his fleshly life (cf. Mt. 17:25-27) and take it again (John 10:17f.). So long as he remained under the law (Gal. 4:4) he remained under obligation himself, and his death under it would have been permanent and irretrievable since it would have implied debt and sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). In the event, however, as one who had personally kept the law and was sinless (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22) but had died on behalf of his people, he was necessarily raised from the dead (Acts 2:24, cf. 1 Pet. 3:18).

Jesus the Son of God and the Son of Man

In further clarification of this it needs to be appreciated that Jesus’ ‘natural’ sonship of God which involved his incarnation and birth of Mary should not be confused with his development as a genuine man. As he himself so plainly taught, all, including himself even though he was the ‘natural’ son of God, who were born of the flesh, that is, as sons of Adam, had of necessity to be born again (John 3:3,7). So far as the latter is concerned, as man he had to attain to sonship by his obedience, for this was the human precondition of life (Lev. 18:5, etc.). Then, having laid down his life in atonement for the sins of his people and been physically raised from the dead, Jesus did not undergo corruption. This being so he remained flesh but as such, as Paul indicates, he could not enter the kingdom of heaven for flesh and blood are excluded by nature (1 Cor. 15:50). So in order to regain his former glory divested at his incarnation, he had to be changed (John 17:5,24). However, as the author of Hebrews makes plain, he remained flesh only for a little while (Heb. 2:7,9). To be glorified he needed a body of glory to match his regenerated spirit and this he gained at his ascension transformation which served as the paradigm of those who at the end of the world neither die nor undergo resurrection as he did (1 Cor. 15:50-53).

But the all-important point is that he was glorified as man. Though clearly retaining his identity throughout his earthly pilgrimage, far from regaining his divine nature again, as man he gained God’s generic nature (Mt. 28:18; Rom. 1:4, etc.). He was not merely designated Lord to the glory of God (Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11) but was recognised as the exact image of God (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3). It was as such that having had all things subjected to him, he himself was finally subjected so that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). In other words, his own manhood is and remains in subjection to his deity, for though man cannot become God, he can share his generic nature as his son (2 Pet. 1:4, cf. Mt. 28:18).

Of course, it may be objected at this point that Jesus remains ever the same and that his traditional immutability must not be questioned. But the assertion that he remains the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8) refers to his identity and character not to his nature. If his nature never changed, if God never became man, we would still be in our sins. Atonement had to be made by man (Heb. 2) and Jesus the man was not only our mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) but the propitiation of our sins (Rom. 3:25, ESV; Heb. 2:9,17). As Paul says, he was made sin even though he knew no sin so that in him we believers might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21, cf. 1 Pet. 3:18). And it is as such that we are his children (1 John 3:2f.) and hence his heirs (Rom. 8:17).

Now if change is fundamental to man, not to mention creation, and inherent in the plan of salvation, then it must be true of Jesus or he was never truly man. In fact, in order to be our pioneer and trail blazer his manhood was indispensably necessary for God’s original promise of eternal life (salvation) was made to man (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5, etc.) and therefore had to be fulfilled by man. Of course, it can be claimed that God as our omnipotent Creator and Ruler can have mercy on whomever he pleases (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:15f.), but this ignores his character as a holy and righteous God. The truth is that he saves in accordance with both his promise and character and to the praise of his glory. The wonder of the gospel is that our triune God so loved the world that he sent his Son to be our Saviour. This can only mean that the Word was willing to humble himself (Phil. 2:7), change his nature and become man, that is, one of us (Heb. 2:10-13) in order to save us. And it is as glorified man that he is forever King of kings and Lord of lords to the glory of God (Phil. 2:11) through whom we inherit all things (Rom. 8:17,32). (6* See my The Ecclesiastical Christ, The Exaltation Of Jesus)



On the identity of Jesus with God see Chris Wright The Mission of God, pp. 106-123, Nottingham, 2006.

Concerning Creation


I once heard Stephen Hawking, the famous British scientist, suggest on TV that the greatest question facing man was: ‘Why is there anything at all?’ As I remember, he admitted that as a scientist he had no answer, and as far as I know, despite Richard Dawkins’ contentious claim that naturalistic evolution solves all our problems, to my knowledge in 2019 science has still not found an answer to Hawking’s basic question.

The Fact

However, mankind is faced with the fact of creation including his own (procreation). In other words, there is something that requires an explanation, and it would seem obvious that ex nihilo nihil fit, that is, that out of nothing comes nothing. So what is the something that produces the stubborn fact of creation? Though in the past it has been held that creation is eternal (1* Even that still requires an explanation to satisfy the enquiring human mind!), it is denied by modern science which readily acknowledges a beginning and postulates the big bang.

The Bible

By contrast, the Bible which has long influenced thinkers especially in the West (despite its origin in the (middle) East) proposes an answer with its famous assertion “In the beginning God ….” So the invisible but living God becomes our great unproved presupposition. (2* Compare J. Dunn, pp. 28ff.) Though unproved scientifically, even the Bible itself acknowledges that it is only by faith that we accept it (Heb. 11:3, cf. Rom. 4:17). Yet it becomes the foundation of all biblical teaching that follows. Indeed, it is arguable that its truth is ‘proved’ by the latter as the existence of the invisible wind is proved by its sound, etc. (John 3:8).


According to the Bible, the God who created the world, the visible material universe in fact (Heb. 11:3), is a self-existing invisible spirit who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent apart from whom nothing else exists (Gen. 1-2:3). He alone is complete and self-sufficient (Acts 17:25, cf. Ex. 19:5; Ps. 50:10f.). As Job in the oldest book in the Bible tells us, in his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind (12:10; John 1:4) and if he withdraws his Spirit, all dies (Job 34:14f.). Even creation itself is not self-sustaining but is upheld by the Word of God (cf. Col. 1:17; John 1:1; Heb. 11:3). Clearly he who brought it into being can destroy it when like a tool or a servant it has served his purpose (Ps. 119:91; 2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Pet. 3:5-13). Since the visible derives from the invisible it is by nature impermanent and not to be compared with the glory still to be revealed (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Otherwise expressed, the creator is greater than his creation (cf. Heb. 3:3).

It is important to realize that God is not depicted as a lonely, isolated figure in need of a companion. The persons of the immanent Trinity somewhat covertly revealed to us as Creator, Word and Spirit even in the OT (cf. John 1:1) are, as Jesus intimates, united in eternal love (cf. John 17:20-23). Precisely because he is a Trinity God can even be defined as love (1 John 4:8, cf. 2 Cor. 13:11), and this implies that but for his Trinitarian nature the plan of salvation would never have been devised, and put into action let alone realized. (3* If this is so, the Islamic conception of God as monadic, monolithic or statically transcendent like the Greek must be regarded as deficient. It implies salvation by power or ‘by hand’ rather than by love and grace. In the OT ‘by hand’, Gk cheiropoietos, is the usual OT word which is always depreciatory.)

Scripture leads us to believe that our Creator God, according to his good pleasure (Is. 14:27; Dan. 4:35), has chosen to share his love and to demonstrate it by creating creatures in his image with the ultimate intention of making them his own children (John 1:12f.; 1 John 3:1-3). However, to do this he devised a wonderful plan of salvation intended to display his love, grace and glory but implemented at tremendous personal cost. For God to become a Father in addition to acting as Creator (Acts 17:28) he had to redeem his sinful children by spilling the blood of his Son born of woman (Gal. 4:4), for under the law without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22). Here it is important to understand the difference between the immanent and the economic Trinity. The latter clearly involved change. The Word who was God (John 1:1) had to abase himself by becoming man (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6f.). This inevitably meant that in is love he freely changed his nature if not his identity and ontology. He divested himself of his glory or divine nature and took on flesh. Thus, made in the image of God he had to recover his glory and the generic nature of God as man (John 17:5,24). So now, though still God, he has assumed the nature of man and remains forever the image of God, Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3, and as such forever subordinate to his Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28). All this to the glory of God and the eternal welfare of believing man (Phil. 2:9-11. We can only stand back overcome with amazement and praise (Rev. 7:9)!

The New Creation

So God is not glorified by creation alone (Ps. 19; 104; Rom. 1:20, etc.) but supremely by the redemption of his people from it (Rev. 14:3). Does this mean, however, that the significance of the material creation as such is nullified by its eventual destruction (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12) like the flesh (1 Cor. 15:50)? Not at all, for the original creation prepares the way for the new creation (2 Pet. 3:13) or regeneration (Mt. 19:28) just as the physical body of man which is creation in miniature prepares the way for the spiritual or heavenly body (1 Cor. 15:44-49).

Seed leads to harvest. Spes messis in semine or the hope of harvest lies in the seed. Though Jesus was physically a dry tree (Isa. 56: 3, though note Mt. 19:5,12), spiritually he was a prolific sower (Mt. 13:37).

The grand objective of the gospel is marriage and the household of God.

Creation and Man New Creation
1 Earth Heaven
2 Earth God’s footstool Heaven God’s throne
3 Present creation New world
4 Present age
and temporary)
Age to come
and eternal)
5 Man of dust or clay
(1 Cor. 15:47a)
Man of heaven
(1 Cor. 15:47b)
6 Old body of flesh New body of spirit
7 Two men
Two ages
and to come)
8 Anthropological
9 Man of dust and
present world
prelude to
Man of spirit
and heaven
10 Ground Glory



J.D.G.Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, London/NewYork, 1998.

(Note: Father God/mother earth: Pater familias, Eph. 3:14f. Son/virgin bride (church) (2 Cor. 11:2)

Children (1 John 3:1-3, cf. living creatures, Rev. 4:6, etc.). Note Heb. 11; Rev. 7:9.)

Birth Sin

Moses tells us in Ex. 32:33 that the Lord says whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.

According to Deut. 1:39 little ones have no knowledge of good and evil and in contrast with their sinful parents do not become a prey and are free to enter the Promised Land. Eventually they arrive safely. If they hadn’t, the plan of salvation would have been stillborn. Note especially Numbers 14.

Sin is defined as transgression of the law (1 Sam. 15:24; 2 Sam. 12:13; Dan. 9:5; James 2:9; 1 John 3:4; 5:17). Paul tells us three times in Romans that where there is no law there is no transgression. Babies do not know the law and must therefore be born innocent like Jesus (Isa. 7:15f., cf. 8:4).

Paul also says that he himself was born ‘alive’ and did not sin until like Adam he received the commandment (Rom. 7:9f.).

Jesus implies the same when he says in John 8:34 that everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:26f. we must follow our birth nature. If we are born sinful, then we must sin on pain of death. Thus God becomes the author of evil!

Throughout the Bible it is wrong to impute sin to those who have not sinned (Ex. 23:7; 1 Sam 22:15; 1 K. 21; Prov. 17:15, etc.).

Sin is not transmitted by birth (Ezek. 18, etc.). We all sin on our own account (cf. Ex. 32:33). Note e.g. Ps. 106:6, etc.

The Jews and the Orthodox to this day deny the so-called “Christian” doctrine of original sin.

Psalm 51:5 (cf. Rom. 9:11) is not only frequently misinterpreted, it is tendentiously and unpardonably mistranslated. See the different versions. Cf. e.g ESV and NIV. It should read: “I was brought forth in iniquities (plur.) and in sins (plur.) did my mother conceive me.” Jesus himself was born into a wicked (sinful) world. That is why he came!

Augustine of Hippo by whom the churches continue to this day to be governed knew little Greek and mistranslated the ‘eph’ho’ in Romans 5:12 by the Latin ‘in quo’ meaning ‘in whom’. If this was true, Jesus would have been born a sinner. The idea that he avoided the entail of original sin by the virgin birth is plainly contrary to the Bible. The VB relates to the incarnation, not to sin. Like all babies, Jesus was born innocent (Dt. 1:39, etc.). In contrast with Adam, however, he kept the commandment (cf. Rom. 6:16), the entire law of Moses in fact, and uniquely attained to legal righteousness which is the precondition of regeneration (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5).


The traditional dogma of original sin is blasphemous.

Are We Born Innocent?

I have already written an article about birth sin. (1* See Are We Sinners by Birth?). Here I ask virtually the same question from a different perspective: Are we born innocent?

Adam and Eve

It is universally agreed that Adam and Eve, our first parents who as individuals epitomised mankind, were created innocent, knowing neither good nor evil. (2* According to the Bible, if you know nothing, you are innocent. See e.g. 2 Sam. 15:11b; Rom. 4:15.) This is made apparent by such references as Genesis 2:17, 3:5 and 3:22. It was not until they gained understanding and learned the commandment that they broke it and thereby established their moral nature. First Eve sinned when, deceived by the devil, she gave way to her (illegal) fleshy lusts (Gen. 3:1-6). Next, somewhat in contrast Adam, who connived at and participated in Eve’s sin (Gen. 3:7), deliberately broke the commandment he had received directly from God. Thus they both in their different ways became transgressors (cf. 1 Tim. 2:14) and set a pattern which their posterity proceeded to follow. While the heathen Gentiles who did not have the law were deceived like Eve (Rom. 1:24-32; Eph. 4:17-19), the Jews, after enduring heathen bondage in Egypt where they worshipped false gods (Ezek. 20:7, cf. Jos. 24:2,14), like Adam received the law (Dt. 4:8; 33:4; Ps. 147:19f.) only almost immediately to break it and worship a golden calf (Ex. 32).

So, procreated in the image of Adam and Eve (Gen. 5:1-3, cf. 1:27), we all begin at the beginning but do not share their moral nature until we transgress the commandment like them (pace Art.9 of the C of E.).

The Heathen Gentiles and Sin

Nothing in Scripture could hardly be made plainer than the sinful nature of man in his minority. Even those relatively ignorant of biblical teaching in general are aware of Paul’s depiction of the Gentiles in Romans 1. But the portrayal of man in his infancy in Genesis 4-6 is every bit as graphic. So the question must inevitably be asked: Were early humans born innocent? The answer is affirmative or positive for at least two basic reasons: first, if they were not, then God himself would be guilty of creating them morally either good or evil which is denied (cf. Gen. 3:5,22), and, second, they are said to be procreated in the same image as Adam (Gen. 5:1-3) who as we have already seen was created innocent. How then do we explain their later sinfulness? The answer must be that children who are frail flesh born of woman when tested by the commandment (Ex. 20:20; Dt. 13:3) are prone to repeat the sin(s) of their parents, all the more so under their influence. So, just as Eve then Adam sinned when they learned the commandment in their different ways, so did their immediate posterity. In this way the pattern of sin that affected all children transgenerationally was established, for all in due course become law-breakers (cf. Rom. 3:19f.). Thus they all became personally liable and, with the exception of Noah and his family to whom grace is shown, were condemned to extinction in the flood.

The Jews and Sin

The Jews who were the children of Abraham began life as heathen in Egypt and as a race, having worshipped idols (Ezek. 20:7), they were born sinful (Isa. 48:8). But does this fact require us to believe that they were born sinful individually? Not at all, for what applied to the heathen in general applied to them. Though they were the chosen race or elect people who had the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2), they were always aware that they became personally sinful when they all broke the law. The fact is that though they were affected and influenced by others especially their parents (Ex. 20:5f.; 34:6f.; Num. 14:18), their sins were their own and were condemned as such (cf. Ex. 32:33). This is constantly made plain in various ways.

First, explicit statements are made: 1 Kings 8:46, Psalm 130:3, 143:2, Ezra 9:7, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Daniel 9:5,15, Malachi 3:2, etc.

Second, the sins of parents and children are plainly and frequently distinguished (e.g. Ps. 106:6; Isa. 65:7; Ezek. 18; 20:18; Dan. 9:8; Acts 7:51-53.).

Third, it is also explicitly stated that, like Adam and Eve at creation, little children have no knowledge of good or evil (Dt. 1:39, cf. Num. 14:29-31; 1 K. 3:7,9; Isa. 7:14f. 8:4; Heb. 5:13).

Fourth, ignorance is highly relevant since where there is no law (or knowledge) there is neither sin nor guilt (Rom. 4:15, etc.). This is made apparent both throughout life and throughout the Bible as the ignorance proving the innocence of the following makes apparent: Pharaoh (Gen. 12:17-20), Abimelech (Gen. 20), Jonathan (1 Sam. 14:27), Ahimelech (1 Sam. 22:15), Abigail (1 Sam. 25:25), David (2 Sam. 3:26-39).

Fifth, it is explicitly asserted that the child cannot be punished for the sins of the father (Dt. 24:16). (3* He/she can and does often suffer because of them, Ex. 20:5. It should be remembered, however, that he can profit from imitating their good behaviour, Ex. 20:6; Luke 11:13; John 8:39.) The implication of this is clearly that we all sin and/or believe on our own account and are responsible for it.

Sixth, Numbers 16:22 (cf. 2 Sam. 24:17) poses the question: If one man sins, will God be angry with the whole congregation? The answer is a definite negative provided the rest of the congregation dissociates itself from the perpetrators (cf. Num. 16:21,45,48-50). It is here that the distinction between solidarity and separation is made. The Bible makes it apparent that we inherit our fleshly constitution from Adam by necessity and divine design (Gen. 5:1-3). Solidarity at this point is unavoidable. To be human at all, that is, born of woman, we must be flesh as Jesus was. But having said this we must be aware that we can be separate morally, and it is imperative that we are (2 Cor. 6:17). Fortunately for us, Jesus was (Heb. 2:14-17; 4:15).

Seventh, the OT distinguishes between unintentional and deliberate sin just as it differentiates between the sins of Eve and Adam and the heathen and the Jew. The prophet Amos pinpoints the difference in 3:2 where he apportions greater blame to the Jew who had the written law and the heathen who did not (cf. Rom. 2). Though the expression ‘diminished responsibility’ as such does not appear, its essence certainly does. What is more, the same point is made in the NT by Jesus himself (Luke 12:47f.). Needless to say, while babies who know nothing are considered innocent (Dt. 1:39) and children who know little are mildly responsible (1 K. 3:7,9, cf. Heb. 5:13), the mature who know much are most accountable (Heb. 5:14, cf. 6:4-6; 10:28-31).


In the NT Jesus makes his own stance very clear. He blesses little children (Mark 10:16) in their implied innocence as his Father God had done at creation (Gen. 1:28; 9:1). Then he clearly appreciates the play of older children even if this does not point to complete innocence despite some interpretations of Matthew 18:1-6. On the other hand so far as adults are concerned, to them he attributes initial innocence like that of our first parents by pointing out that we all become sinners, that is, gain a sinful nature by sinning just as they did (John 8:34). In light of this we can be sure that he does not regard babies as born sinners (cf. Gen. 8:21). In John 8 Jesus distinguishes between two types of children of Abraham and blames those who persecute him as being like their true or moral father, the devil. In John 9:41 he tells the Jews that if they were blind, they would not be guilty but since they claim to be able to see (or know), they are so. Again, in 15:22 he indicates that since he had provided them with knowledge, they were no longer innocent (cf. 2 Sam. 15:11) and there was now no excuse for their sin (cf. Rom. 1:20,32-2:1). Then in John 15:24f., in view of the unique works he performed in their midst, their reaction of hate for both him and his Father without a cause clearly rendered them guilty.

The Apostles

Paul in particular makes his position clear and roundly declares three times in Romans alone that where there is no law, there is no sin or transgression (Rom. 4:15; 5:13; 7:8). For all that, Paul has frequently in church history been regarded as providing the main support for the dogma of original sin. In fact, however, it has long been recognized that Augustine’s understanding of Romans 5:12, which he maintained taught that we all sinned ‘in Adam’ (cf. Vulgate’s Latin ‘in quo’), actually teaches personal sin (cf. Rom. 3:23). This of course is Paul’s clear implication in Romans 3:19f., which sums up all he has maintained from 1:18, not to mention 6:21, 7:5 and Galatians 2:16, 3:10, for example. The force of this cannot be evaded by maintaining that all humans born after the giving of the commandment were liable, for he carefully confines his comments to those who are knowingly under the law (Rom. 3:19; 7:1,7).

Even in 3:20 as in 1:20,32 and 2:1 he links law with knowledge and, this being so, babies and animals are excluded. Thus when he avers in 7:9f. that he himself was once alive apart from the law, the inference we are forced to draw is that this was when he was an innocent baby before he had come to knowledge and been made aware of the commandment (cf. Ps. 78:5-8). But once it came, as it does to all human beings who achieve rationality, he broke it, and like Adam and Eve before him (note the deception of verse 11), he became a sinner by nature. (4* Note the ‘we all’ in Ephesians 2:3, cf. Tit. 3:3.)

I conclude then that Paul, far from believing in either original righteousness or original sin, believed in infant innocence. In fact, he virtually tells us so (Rom. 6:16, cf. 4:15; Prov. 10:16; 11:19).

Other Apostles

1 Peter 2:22 indicates that Peter firmly believed that Jesus neither broke the law like Adam nor yielded to deceit like Eve (though cf. John 1:47). In light of this we are compelled to conclude that he accepted that the Saviour was innocent from birth like all who are born of woman (Dt. 1:39, cf. Rom. 9:11). This being so, he had no reason whatsoever to resort to the Virgin Birth to decontaminate Jesus and separate him from all others who were supposedly born guilty ‘in Adam’. (5* See further my The Redundancy Of Original Sin) In fact, Jesus was born of the perishable seed of his mother (cf. Gen. 3:15) and through her of Adam (cf. Luke 3:38; 1 Pet. 1:23-25) and had to be born again like the rest of us (John 1:13; 3:1-8) not on account of sin but on account of his fleshly nature, which even in his case could not enter heaven (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50). (6* Neither as flesh nor as (natural) spirit can the natural man enter heaven and the presence of God who is a consuming fire. He needs to be both born again spiritually and transformed corporeally. Only in this way can he be glorified. Note the Greek dei in John 3:7 and 1 Cor. 15:53 which refers to a necessity not an imperative.)

2 Peter 2:19 interestingly endorses Paul’s conclusion in Romans 6:16. Freedom is the result of obedience to law not slavery to sinful corruption. The point is that both states are acquired not stamped on us fatalistically at birth. And though we all in our fleshly weakness sin, because of the grace of God in Christ the way is always open for us to repent and to separate ourselves from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers (1 Pet. 1:18f., cf. 1:14; 4:2). Peter in no way suggests that our own sins are anything but responsible acts against the law (e.g. Acts 2:38).

James 1:14f. also provides further support for infant innocence. Testing and/or temptation in this world are inevitable since they are the will of God. Though God himself does not tempt us, he certainly tests us by the law (Ex. 15:25; 20:20; Dt. 8:2,16, etc.) which babies do not have. His interest is our perfection or maturation (cf. James 1:4), specifically our sonship and the achievement of the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) who by fulfilling the law in the flesh (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14) became the exact or complete image of God (Heb. 1:3). When our own test is complete, we receive the crown of life (James 1:12, cf. Job 23:10). In the next chapter James implies that we begin our pilgrimage innocent but become sinful by sinning. At this point he endorses Jesus’ comment in John 8:34 indicating that only one transgression establishes our condition as sinful (James 2:10) as it did in Adam’s case. (7* It is worth noting that Jesus successfully challenged the Jews with regard to his own case, John 8:46. From this, we unavoidably infer that he maintained his innocence from birth by keeping the commandment/law. This being so, his Virgin Birth was irrelevant to his sinless innocence. It related exclusively to his incarnation.)

The Rest of Scripture

Hebrews teaches us about diminished responsibility which again suggests infant innocence. In 3:13 the author refers to deceitfulness of sin recalling the experience of Eve during the infancy of the race (cf. 5:13). Chapter 6 highlights the work of the Holy Spirit, and this reminds us that the sin against the Spirit is more blameworthy than sin against Christ himself (Mt. 12:31f.). Hebrews 10:28 also distinguishes between sin against the law and sin against the Spirit and warns of its more terrifying consequences. Clearly under the influence of the Spirit humans are at their most accountable since it is the Spirit who gives them light (cf. Job 32:8; 38:36, James 1:5, etc.). At this point ignorance, which as we saw above is usually a mitigating factor in Scripture, is out of the reckoning. By contrast, infants who like animals have neither light nor law, are not responsible and so remain innocent. If they die, it is not because they sin but because they fall prey to the naturally corruptible creation from which they have derived. (8* See further my The Corruptibility Of Creation; Creation Corruptible By Nature)

In 1 John 3:4 sin is defined as lawlessness which suggests not ignorance as in babies but deliberate disregard of the law and by implication a denial of one’s status as a human being made in the image of God. In 5:17 all wrongdoing is recognized as sin committed by those who have knowledge.

Since they are completely lacking in knowledge, babies, like animals, can neither be tempted nor exercise faith. In the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race, knowledge was only acquired at the end. Thus when the commandment came and our first parents broke it, they lost their innocence. But with the acquisition of knowledge faith became possible as the promise of Genesis 3:15 indicates. While there is no evidence that either Adam or Eve in their extreme immaturity exercised it, their early adult posterity like Abel and Enoch, in contrast with Cain and Lamech, did (cf. Heb. 11:4f.). The implication is that man in his infancy is in general almost entirely dominated by his flesh (Gen. 6:5-13), and it cannot be less than significant that in his day (generation) Noah, who separated himself, does not intercede for his contemporaries. On the other hand, that there is good and evil in all societies is assumed by Abraham who interceded even for Sodom (Gen. 18). (9* See further my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?)

Sin in Jude and the book of Revelation

Just as the author of Hebrews was deeply concerned to persuade his readers not to go backwards by returning to Judaism and the law, so Jude’s object like that of 2 Peter is to deter rational humans from going back to their fleshly and animal origins. In other words, the implication is that babyhood must be outgrown and transcended. To use Paul’s term we must become men (mature) in our understanding (1 Cor. 14:20, cf. Heb. 6:1, etc.). Just as Jesus developed or evolved from human babyhood to attain the exact or complete image of God (Heb. 1:3, i.e. total maturity), so must we aim at attaining his image and likeness (Rom. 8:29). In its various ways (I assume its recapitulatory interpretation) the book of Revelation portrays the journey of mankind from its origins in the earthly Garden of Eden to the heavenly one (Rev. 22). The story is not simply one of our pilgrimage from ground to glory but of innocence to maturity, of basic imperfection to total perfection (cf. 1 Cor. 13:10-13).


All the evidence mustered here renders birth sin impossible. (10* Only the Pharisees seem to entertain the idea which Jesus promptly rejects, John 9:2f., but even they in 9:34 appear to think more in terms of an illegitimate birth.) If it were true, it would scuttle the plan of salvation. Otherwise expressed, original sin is alien to the Bible both logically and in fact. No wonder the Jews along with the Orthodox have always rejected it.

So, do we inherit sin? No matter whether we consider transmission (Catholics) or imputation (Protestants), the answer must be a firm negative. But, as Psalm 51:5 implies, we inherit sinful forebears just as Jesus did (Mt. 1:1-16)! Despite his sinful ancestry, as a baby he was personally innocent and consequently, on the assumption that he was genuinely human, all others must be so too. If not, he is divided from the rest of humanity (cf. Ex. 32; Dt. 9); he is different in kind and not fully human. This is catastrophic for theology and the Christian faith in general. The truth is that he differed from us in only one respect: though tempted (Heb. 4:15), he kept the law and did not sin (1 Pet. 2:22). He thus met the precondition of life (Lev. 18:5) and, by dying on our behalf (cf. Heb. 2:17), he opened the door of heaven for the rest of us who believe in him.

Food for thought:

There are references to baby Christians in Scripture (1 Cor. 3:1f.; 1 Pet. 2:2, cf. Heb. 6:1) but none to Christian babies and hence to original sin and infant baptism!

Understanding God

At the beginning of 2018 I wrote an essay on the Fatherhood of God in which I tended to equate God as Creator with God as Father, but on reflection I consider this somewhat misleading. More recently I was reading Russell Aldwinckle’s work on Christology entitled More Than Man where the author refers to the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father (p.167) and, perhaps needless to say, I have my doubts about the appropriateness and intelligibility of this. I therefore deem it necessary to clarify my own thinking and perhaps that of others at the same time.

God as Father in the OT

First, it is obvious to all readers that the Bible begins with reference to the eternal God as Creator of the visible physical creation, and one could be forgiven for thinking that only later does he become Father. Indeed, it is regularly pointed out that despite Acts 17:28, for example, where the Creator God is seen as the Father of all men on the natural level that he is normally regarded as the Father of Israel, his chosen nation, only collectively as is suggested by Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1. (1* On the fatherhood of God in the Old Testament, see e.g. Chris Wright.) It might also be pointed out that it was Jesus himself, the natural Son of God born of woman (Gal. 4:4), who taught his disciples to call God Father as in the Lord’s Prayer.

Eternal Son

It is widely held in the churches that Jesus was the Eternal Son even in his pre-existence. For instance, the Nicene Creed refers to the Son as eternally begotten of the Father. But is this legitimate? After all, even Kevin Giles, who has written a full-length book, contending in the vein of Athanasius for the eternal generation of the Son, admits that in relevant passages like John 1 and Philippians 2 Jesus is not referred to as the Son. Rather in the former passage he is termed the Word of God and in the latter as being equal with God. In view of the fact that ‘Son’ implies subordination this is perhaps not surprising. And it would seem that to refer to the Word as the Son would surely send the wrong message. To say this, however, raises questions.


So far as we normal created human beings are concerned, reference to God as Father and to Jesus as eternal Son should immediately prompt us to ask who the wife of God is. To cite but one example, Aldwinckle (p.165) suggests that the parent-child relationship as applied to God includes the fullness of parental experience at its highest on the side of both father and mother and asserts that God transcends the sexual differentiation completely. He adds that God is neither father nor mother but (somewhat oddly) the perfect parent. This may be an interesting speculation, but is it intelligible? Without supporting evidence it is, in my view, totally unconvincing for reasons I will now explore.

First, the exclusively masculine thinking which characterises traditional Christian thought arguably requires a corrective, as Aldwinckle referring to Carl Jung concedes. After all, practically all Christians confess the role of the Virgin Mary in the birth of Jesus. But when considering God himself Aldwinckle and others like him ignore the basic significance of human relationships which are established by him as Creator. After all, he is not simply an anthropomorphic reflection of man (as I maintain in my essay on the Fatherhood of God). By definition, a father presupposes a mother, a husband a wife and a son a mother and a father (cf. Heb. 7:3). Does our God whom we describe as Creator fit the bill? As already implied above, not at the beginning, for a creator is not necessarily a father. Later, however, the picture changes. For our God not only created the earth but with the intention of ensuring that it was inhabited (Gen. 1; Isa. 45:18). Now one of these inhabitants was man (Adam) made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28) and, according to Luke 3:38, God was his father. (2* Cf. the sons of God in Gen. 6:4 on which see my Who Are The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4?.) This, however, disposes us to ask who Adam’s mother was, especially in view of the fact that the second Adam had one!

Since man as flesh is regarded throughout Scripture as dust, clay, earthy (see e.g. 1 Cor. 15:47) and since, like all the animals, he derives from the earth (Gen. 1:24; 2:7,19, etc.), we are forced to the conclusion that the earth itself was Adam’s mother which, in the words of Isaiah, God himself ‘married’ (Isa. 62:4f.), hence man’s dual nature as body and soul, flesh and spirit. If it is then complained that this makes Adam different from the second Adam, that is hardly true. Apart from the fact that Paul sees Jesus as deriving from the earth in Ephesians 4:9 (cf. Ps. 139:15) we must remember that after God had finished creation (Gen. 2:1-3), procreation, which recapitulated creation (cf. Isa. 45:9f.), took over. How do we know this? The answer lies in the fact that woman (Eve) becomes the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). This is clearly how Paul saw matters for, while presumably acknowledging the truth of Genesis 1:27, he nonetheless differentiates between the two sexes in 1 Corinthians 11. There he depicts man as the image of God and woman as the glory of man. In other words, just as God ‘married’ (mother) earth, which was his glory (cf. Dt.11:11f.; 8:7-10) or delight (Isa. 62:4) like Ezekiel’s wife (24:16,25), to produce inhabitants, so man marries woman who is his glory to produce children who are termed the fruit of the womb (Dt. 7:13; 28:4,11; 30:9). And in case we have any doubts about Jesus’ earthly origin at his incarnation, apart from Ephesians 4:9, he is referred to as the fruit of the womb in Luke 1:42. To be born of woman, of course, means, as David realized long before, that we are the offspring of Adam (cf. Gen. 5:1-3) from whom Eve stemmed (Gen. 2:21-23) (3* Adam’s rib is surely a metaphor, even a euphemism, cf. Prov. 23:22; Heb. 7:10.) and were therefore originally fashioned as seed in the earth (Ps. 139:15). It was as such that we are sown in our mother’s womb which symbolizes the Garden of Eden (Ps. 139:13, cf. Job 3; Jer. 20:18).


In light of the evidence, then, we are led to the view that in eternity the Creator God was not a father but chose to become one when he fertilized or sowed the earth (mother) to produce man (Adam), his son (Luke 3:38). Thus, once created, man the seed-bearer and image of God (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1-3; 1 Cor. 11:7) procreated his own progeny by fertilizing woman who typified the earth. In this way, Jesus himself became flesh for he was born of woman (Gal. 4:4), though his Father was God himself. As the Son of God he was clearly God in person and identity and like Adam he was made in the image of God so that he could aspire to gain the generic image of God as man, which was the divine intention from the start (Gen. 1:26; 5:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

Of course, this brings to the fore associated doctrines. First, the Creator God, though immutable in character is not statically paralysed in essence (nature) and activity, but, like a young man who can rejoice over his bride (Isa. 62:5), he has the choice and capacity to become the Father which he was not before. Second, Jesus, who was God the Word in eternity, was able, willing and free to become the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary (Gal. 4:4; Heb. 10:5) and therefore a true human being. (4* By expressing myself this way I deny eternal subordinationism.) If this is so, the idea that he could have at one and the same time two natures a la Chalcedon is ruled out of court. It is clearly denied in the NT which states explicitly that the Word became flesh. In other words, the Word changed his nature without ceasing to be who he was in identity and person, that is, God the Word. (5* In view of the traditional claim that at his incarnation the Word could not divest himself of his divine nature without ceasing to be God, it perhaps needs to be explained here that if man, God’s creature, can change his nature without ceasing to be human as at his transformation, cf. 1 Cor. 15:48-53, so can the Creator change his nature without ceasing to be divine.) Expressed alternatively, like his Father the Son was immutably static or stable in character (Heb. 13:8) but dynamically active in purpose. Scripture makes it quite apparent that nothing is impossible with God and that he can do as he pleases (Mt. 19:26; Luke 1:37, cf. Dan. 4:35).

God’s Pleasure

So what did he please to do? Scripture tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8,19), and love has its own reasons for spreading that love abroad as Israel had been informed at a comparatively early stage in salvation history (Dt. 7:7f.; Jer. 31:3). Thus it is that in the NT that love is demonstrated supremely in John 3:16 where we are told that God so loved the world that he gave us his Son to redeem us as foreshadowed in the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Just as it is true that an ordinary married couple in normal life usually share their love with their children who are an expression of their love, so it is with God. But at this point we do well to remember that God is the initiator, the originator, the model, the pattern, the paradigm of love that we his creatures follow or imitate (cf. John 15:16). Little wonder that the marriage feast of the Lamb, which includes us his Bride, is the goal of creation (Rev. 19:7-9).


It is a sad fact that the church has often held defective views on sexual love despite the Song of Solomon and Paul’s comments in 1 Timothy 4:3f. (cf. Heb. 13:4). According to Scripture it is said to be the creation, even the reflection, of God himself (Gen. 1:28; 2:24; Isa. 62:4f.) and the way of all the earth (Gen. 19:31, cf. Ezek. 16:8). It also receives the endorsement of Jesus himself, the ultimate bridegroom (e.g. Mt. 9:15; 25:1-13), even though he himself did not marry while he was in the flesh (Mt. 19:5). Yet we do well to bear in mind that Paul suggests in Ephesians 5 that the union between God and man is a profound mystery with the implication that it will only be properly appreciated when it is finally consummated in heaven (cf. Isa. 62:5).



Kevin Giles, The Eternal Generation of the Son, Downers Grove, 2012.

Christopher J.H.Wright, Knowing God the Father through the Old Testament, Oxford, 2007.



Just as creatorship should not be confused with fatherhood, so creation should not be confused with birth though the two seem to overlap in Genesis 2:7 and Jeremiah 1:5, for example. Between creation and birth (gestation) there is a great deal of evolution both in the Garden of Eden and in a woman’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16; Eccl. 11:5f.; Mark 4:26-28).

Jesus The Perfected Man – The Epitome of Creation and Evolution


Everyone who reads the Bible is aware that God the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Expressed alternatively, Jesus, the man, pre-existed as God in the form of God (Phil. 2:5-11). If we ask why he changed his nature and became man made in the image of God, the answer is simply to save sinners, as his name implies (Mt. 1:21). More fully expressed, he came to save mankind from the world, the flesh and the devil (1 John 2:14-17). History had proved that no one had been capable of gaining the glory of God (cf. Rom. 2:7,10) by keeping the law which was the precondition of salvation (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.). All to the very last man and woman had come short (Rom. 3:23, cf. 5:12; 6:23). So, in order to gain the righteousness that the salvation or regeneration of man required, God in Christ came to achieve it on man’s behalf. In other words, as a true man himself he had to serve as man’s representative and achieve the perfection of God in the flesh (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14f.).

Historically speaking, the church has misconceived what the incarnation involved. It has tended to believe a la Augustine that originally God created a perfect world which was marred by man’s sin and also that man himself was initially perfect but “fell” bringing about a cosmic curse from which redemption is required. The truth is, however, that the visible creation, which had a beginning (Gen. 1:1), was naturally perishable (corruptible, subject to decay) and temporary (Rom. 8:20; 2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 1:11) from the start as was (the) flesh that derives from it (Gen. 1:24; 2:7,19). So in order to serve as the second Adam Jesus began (cf. Isa. 7:15f.) where Adam began (Gen. 2:17; 3:5,22) in complete innocence (cf. Dt. 1:39) with the intention of achieving the perfection (Mt. 5:48) or glory of God from scratch. Though created like all human beings in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, basic capacity), he had to gain his complete likeness through testing in the course of his development and maturation (Gen. 17:1; Ex. 15:25; Dt. 8:2,16; 30:15-20, etc.).

If this is in fact the case, we can expect to see the human career of Jesus delineated in Scripture in more detail. It should be obvious to all that he did not begin perfect (complete, mature) either morally or physically. In fact he was necessarily like his first human forebear, Adam, who (as has already been implied) has absurdly been regarded as initially perfect instead of morally innocent as one who did not know good and evil (Gen. 3:22, cf. Isa. 7:15f.) and physically undeveloped. Perfection (completeness or maturity) had to be acquired as he evolved with the passage of time and sought the glory and honour required by his Father (Rom. 2:7,10; Heb. 2:9). While it may be true that Jesus is presented to us correctly in Scripture as the perfect image of God (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, etc.), it is more accurate and intelligible to say that he was perfectED as such (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28, cf. Gal. 3:3; Phil. 3:12-14, etc.). Clearly a process was involved.

The Creation of Jesus

A process, development or evolution, however, needs a beginning, and while the eternal Word was not created Arian-wise, his incarnation as man involved his being given a created body of flesh fashioned from his heavenly Father’s seed in his earthly mother’s womb (Heb. 10:5, cf. Ps. 139:13; John 1:14).

Jesus’ Human Development

So, at his incarnation in the image of both God and man (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1-3), Jesus as the seed of his Father (1 John 5:18b) was conceived in a woman’s womb which recapitulated the Garden of Eden where the first Adam had originally been placed. In other words, he did not begin as seed created literally in the ground as Adam had been (Gen. 2:7, cf. Ps. 139:15f.), but in order to retain his link with mankind in general (cf. Mt. 1:1-11; Luke 3:23-38) as the seed of his Father he necessarily gestated in the womb of the Virgin Mary (cf. Jer. 1:5) who herself derived ultimately from Adam (Gen. 2:21-23). He was thus born of woman who as flesh and the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20) re-enacted the role of mother earth in procreation. In this way, he recapitulated the experience of Adam as second and replacement Adam (cf. Ps. 139:15f.; Eph. 4:9f.; Heb. 10:9b).

(Note: It perhaps needs explaining at this point that Adam was manufactured (made by hand) as seed in the ground, cf. Ps. 139:15; Gen. 2:7, and was therefore perishable seed, cf. 1 Pet. 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:47a. By contrast, Jesus as the Son of God stemmed from imperishable seed from heaven, 1 Cor. 15:47b, and so had indestructible life, Heb. 7:16, even before as flesh he was born again, John 3:7. However, he gained his perishable humanity from his mother, Gen. 3:15, and though permanently alive in the spirit, he died in the flesh, 1 Pet. 3:18, or ‘in Adam’, 1 Cor. 15:21f. It was as perishable flesh that he was first resurrected, then transformed at his ascension so as to become a life-giving spirit, 1 Cor. 15:45.)

Gestation and Birth

As the seed of his Father, Jesus gestated in the Virgin’s womb for the standard nine months (cf. Luke 1:36) before finally being ‘born of woman’ (Gal. 4:4). Of course, at this stage there was no outward sign of his being different from any other baby, though his identity was in some sense revealed to representative people like neighbouring shepherds and visiting wise men (foreign astrologers). Needless to add, he underwent Jewish rites like circumcision and presentation in the temple that were common to male children of the chosen race. As usual, his infancy and weaning were otherwise uneventful and relatively inconspicuous.

Under the Covenant with Noah

It is important to note, however, that this meant that his early life was uncovenanted like that of his forebears in general. On the racial level, what eventually became the covenant with Noah had not been established at the beginning doubtless because the condition of the immediate descendants of Adam, the antediluvians, was infantile despite their physical maturity. For a covenant, pact or agreement to operate, an element of development (perfection) was intrinsically necessary. Without this, mutuality, agreement or reciprocation no matter how minimal was impossible, for babies lacking conscious intelligence resemble undiscerning irrational animals. So, since the Israelites as a race had, as ‘children’, been enslaved in Egypt, Jesus relived or recapitulated their experience in his own childhood (Mt. 2:15, cf. Gal. 4:1f.). In light of this, we may assume that rather like Moses before him Jesus grew and increased in wisdom during his period of childlike bondage (Acts 7:22, cf. Luke 2:40).

Under the Covenant with Moses

On his return to his own country, Jesus doubtless having been apprised of the covenant promises made to his forefather Abraham continued his progress towards perfection under the law of Moses (cf. Gal. 3:23-25; 4:2), as Luke indicates (Luke 2:41-52). It was at this time that his circumcision which was a national marker took effect and as a teen-ager he became a son of the commandment. He now had to take personal responsibility for keeping the law which was the precondition of life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5; Mt. 19:17,21, etc.). It was also during his stint under the law that he would have appreciated the significance of his relationship with David (cf. Mt. 1:1). For he was not simply going to be representative of his people as the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) but also as their promised Davidic King (cf. 2 Sam. 7; Ps. 89; Jer. 23:5; Mark 15:18; John 19:19).

Under the New Covenant

Life under the law was intended only as a stepping stone. By its very nature as instruction it was temporary and provisional (2 Cor. 3; Heb. 8). However, no one in the history of Israel had ever transcended it for the simple reason that no one had ever succeeded in keeping it (1 K. 8:46; Eccl. 7:20, etc.). The Jews as sinners all (1 Kings 8:46, etc.) were thus prisoners of hope (Zech. 9:12), and Jesus as the first and only one to keep the law was uniquely to embody that hope (Col. 1:27). Having pleased his Father, he was baptized by (with) the Spirit and fitted to fulfil all righteousness as God’s regenerate Son (Mt. 3:13-17). Filled with the Spirit (John 1:32; 3:34; 6:27) he was now able to pioneer the regenerate life (that is, live a heavenly life here on earth doing his Father’s will, cf. Mt. 6:10,33), but to do this effectively he had to empower those who believed in him to do the same. He achieved this, first, by laying down his fleshly life to cover their sins and thereby to inaugurate the new covenant, and, secondly, by sending the Spirit to sanctify them (Eph. 1:13f., cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; John 17:17).

Resurrection and Transformation

Jesus’ death for his people’s sins necessarily required his resurrection and as a consequence God raised him up demonstrating acceptance of his sacrifice (Acts 2:23f.). But since flesh and blood cannot by nature inherit the kingdom of God, his physical resurrection required in turn a bodily transformation (1 Cor. 15:50). And it was only after his ascension transformation and session at the right hand of God that Jesus was able to send his Spirit to complete his work on earth (John 14:15-31; Acts 2). However, he was now the perfected man, the complete image of God and seated as such at God’s right hand (Heb. 1:3). He had not only regained his pre-incarnation glory (John 17:5) but he was also empowered as man who had received the generic nature of God to exercise universal rule (Mt. 11:27; 28:18; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22, cf. Rom. 1:4).

Jesus Man Perfected

In sum, Jesus, the Word made flesh, had evolved from ground to glory (Eph. 4:9f., cf. John 3:13; 13:3, etc.), and seated at God’s right hand he had been made perfect (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28, etc.) like his heavenly Father (cf. Mt. 5:48; 19:21). Alternatively expressed, as man he had achieved the perfection of the glory he enjoyed before the foundation of the world (John 17:5; Rev. 22:4) and was now in a position to ensure that his disciples would see that glory (John 17:24). Little wonder that we are called to be conformed to his image and to be glorified in our turn (Rom. 8:29f.; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21). As our human representative and Saviour he had blazed a trail for us into heaven and the very presence of God (Heb. 2:5-18; 9:11,24; 12:2).


The final truth is, then, that Jesus, having achieved perfection in the image of God as man, epitomizes the creation and evolution (perfection) of mankind as both individual and race. (1* If he is the vine, we are the branches, John 15:5. If he is the Son, we also are sons, fellow heirs, Rom. 8:14-17, and brothers to boot, Heb. 2:10-18.) Most significantly, Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3, cf. Phil. 2:9-11) and to him we all owe allegiance (Rom. 10:9) just as we do to God the Father (cf. 1 John 2:23; 5:1).


See further my


The Human Path to Perfection

The Journey of Jesus

The Exaltation Of Jesus

The Ascent of Man

Jesus the Epitome of Evolution (Perfection)

Manufactured Or Not So

Christianity Simply and Briefly Explained

If the Individual Recapitulates in Miniature the History of the Race …

Two ‘Natural’ Necessities