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