Christ at the Center (Pt.3a)

Series so far: Christ at the Center: The Fulcrum of Biblical Covenantalism –

Introduction: Parts 1a, 1b, 1c, Jesus and the New Covenant: Part 2a, 2b, 2c

The Covenant God Incarnate

We have seen that Jesus Christ is both the Instrument of Divine Creation (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16a), the Owner (Jn. 1:10; Col. 1:16b), Upholder (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3),  and Savior (Jn. 1:29; Matt. 19:28a) of that Creation.  We shall also see that Christ will rule over that which is His (e.g. Zech. 14:9; Matt. 19:28b; Rev. 19:11f.), before Himself presenting it back to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24).

Our main thesis is that Christ will perform all this restorative and promissory work by the New Covenant, which in Him (Isa. 49:8) provides the requisite cleansing unto righteousness that obligates God to fulfill His covenants.  This Christ-centered approach is what I call “Biblical Covenantalism.”

But before we go further we must stop to consider the marvel of the Incarnation of the Son of God.  This is because His mediatorship is tied unavoidably to His becoming flesh (cf. Jn. 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16 MT).

Not too many people are familiar with Anselm’s work Cur Deus Homo?  In that book the great theologian asked about the meaning of Christ’s incarnation.  In II.6 of that work he writes about the necessity of the incarnation to bring about a true atonement (although he was the author of the Commercial Theory, which I do not subscribe to):

while no one save God can make it and no one save man ought to make it, it is necessary for a God-Man to make it.

What Anselm gives is the basic reason why Jesus had to be born and die: why He had to become physical.  True enough, this basic reason for the incarnation is a crucial aspect of the Gospel.  That understood, there are still some rudimentary truths about this doctrine which can be easily passed over.  God became physical in the special sense that Christ, the second Person, assumed a body – “a body you have prepared for me” (Heb. 10:5).

God became a man.  He became the second Adam.

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.  (1 Cor. 15:21-22)

He is related to the physical realm, then, by virtue of His relationship to our first parent.  Adam was given dominion over everything God created on this earth.  He was to subordinate it to His loving care in concert with the appreciative gaze of God.  The earth was to be the focal point of praise to the Creator, and man “in Adam” was to be the Voice of earthly worship.  But Adam fell and death ensued for all those “in Adam.”

This catastrophic fall of the first man, and the resultant curse upon the physical earth, did not catch God out.  Jesus is “the Lamb slain since before the foundation of the earth” (Rev. 13:8).  His “Book of Life” was written before the creative work began.  Thus, the Second Person knew He would become the “Second Man” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47) before Time began.

The Second Man as “Archetype” of the First Man: A  Fascinating Speculation

(Because this does contain speculative theology some readers may choose not to read on). 😉

However, Meredith Kline teaches the fascinating idea that the Spirit that hovered or brooded over the pre-creation was the enthroned Son, who just as he proceeded from the Spirit in his Incarnation, in a sense proceeded from the Spirit in creation, and that is why he is present as the Word in John 1:1-3.  I do not agree with Kline on a lot of things, but I think he may be on to something here.

Kline sees a correspondence between the Angel of God’s presence and the Holy Spirit during the wilderness journeys of Israel (cf. Isa. 63:9-11) and this has to do with the glory cloud, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that was present with Israel in the wilderness. This glory cloud is what Moses entered into in the book of Exodus and that’s why his face shone.  He spoke to God face to face, there was a face there to talk to, a theophanic face, a theophany, an appearance of God as a man.

Kline writes:

When the inner-reality veiled within the theophanic cloud is revealed we behold God in his heaven. The world of the glory theophany is a dimensional realm normally invisible to man where God reveals his presence as the King of Glory enthroned in the midst of myriads of heavenly beings. It is the realm into which the glorified Christ disappearing from human view entered to assume his place on the throne of God. It is the invisible or third heaven brought into the cloud-veiled visibility, thus the Spirit glory of Genesis 1:2 answers to the invisible heavens of Genesis 1:1 and represents a coming forth of the Lord of glory out of invisibility into a special earth-oriented and adapted manifestation to create and consummate, to reveal himself in earth history as Alpha and Omega. – Meredith Kline, Images of the Spirit, 17

Basically what Kline is saying here is that God has dwelt in this “glory-cloud” and on this throne before the creation and this “cloud” is seen first hovering over the preparatory creation of Genesis 1:2 to form it.  Then it is seen in the visions of the prophets as it was also seen guiding the children of Israel in visible form as a cloud.  It is the invisible becoming visible for the sake of man in earth history in certain times in history.

Therefore when God says,” Let us make man in our image”, what is happening is that man is some kind of representation of the One who was enthroned within this glory cloud – even his physical form.

Kline again (I feel I must apologize for the obtuse language):

Once we have recognized the Spirit of the creation narrative as the glory presence, we realize that it is not the case after all that the image of God idea appears in Genesis out of the blue, an unexplained riddle inviting nebulously abstract solutions. The statement in Genesis 1:27 that God created man in his own image instead finds a concretely specific, and in fact a visible point of reference, in the glory-spirit theophany of Genesis 1:2. This conclusion is enforced by the data in Genesis 1:26 and 2:7 which bring the Spirit of Genesis 1:2 into connection with the act of man’s creation. – Images of the Spirit, 21

Now this image that is within the glory cloud is the Son of God!

The eternal firstborn Son furnished a pattern for man as a royal glory image of the Father.” – Images, 24

In his application of this to his description of man as made in the image of God, Kline says that the bodily representation in the form of the theophany, though it is incorporeal, is also part of the image.

Under the concept of man as the glory image of God, the Bible includes functional or official, formal or physical, and ethical components corresponding to the composition of the archetypal glory.

  • Functional glory likeness is man’s likeness to God in the possession of official authority and in the exercise of dominion.
  • Ethical glory is reflection of the holiness, righteousness, and truth of the divine Judge, not just the presence of the moral faculty of any religious orientation whatsoever.
  • Formal physical glory likeness is man’s bodily reflection of the theophanic and incarnate glory.  – Images, 31

Unpacking what he is not saying…earlier Kline has made it clear that he believes in the view of the image not as representative like most Old Testament scholars, but as resemblance; that is, the substantive view of the image (with which I would agree).  However, within that substantive or structural view of the image, he sees the reflection of the theophanic glory of the Son of God in the glory-cloud from the original creation.

Therefore putting together Genesis 1:2:

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

with John 1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

and Hebrews 1:2-3:

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint [GK. charackter] of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

We come away with the impressive idea that the Son, being the charackter, the distinct impress of God’s nature, is the one who formed the worlds.  Now because of that Kline sees in Genesis 1:2 the theophanic glory of Christ in the Spirit that was hovering over the inchoate earth ready to fashion it.  And because of that he says that the image in Genesis 1:26-27 is the image of the glory of God in Genesis 1:2 as the pre-incarnate Logos (Jn. 1:1-3).

This glory is brought into view in the pillar of cloud in the wilderness in the book of Exodus and in the books of Ezekiel and Daniel in the prophets; this being so, the image of God also includes, or better, depends upon, the bodily pre-incarnate Christ appearing as a man.

Kline is on to something when he talks about the image of God being made after something that is there: viz, the image of God is not necessarily a body.  The image is more non-material, the body is given as a physical expression of the image.

Now it is so closely connected to the image that is in the soul, that body and soul are what form a human being. A human being is not a complete human being if he is a soul who is disembodied.  He must have a body, which is why the incarnation; to say nothing of the resurrection, is of such importance.

The body expresses the soul, and therefore can be called a “companion” to the image, or a necessary vehicle of the imago Dei.  Therefore the image of God is substantive; man resembles God.  This means that in the creation of man in the image of God, man has something important to do that expresses that image, and he needs a body to do it.  In the expression of the image through the body man has dominion, and man has proper relationship both with God and with his fellow physical creatures (e.g. family, then society, then the natural world), and this is a picture of the peace and the dominion that man will have when the physically resurrected Christ, who is the Last Adam, returns to earth.

End of speculation.  We pick things up next time…

11 thoughts on “Christ at the Center (Pt.3a)”

  1. Hi Paul,

    it is interesting to note Gen.5.3 that Adam’s offspring are in Adam’s image and likeness. what ramifications this presents i am not sure of beyond the guilt, sin of being fallen beings. could it be said a sinful drift has occurred in us to God’s original image? i haven’t read any studies which has taken this “Adam image” into account when discussing God’s image in man. thankfully in Christ we have the promise of bearing “the image of the man from heaven.”

    nothing in what Kline has said can be faulted in my mind since the persons of the Godhead indwell each other being clear at least implicitly in other sections of the Bible.

    how are you using the word speculation? i don’t see much that couldn’t be taught in a tentative way. we all surely have heard sermons and teachings further afield than these ideas without feeling the need to chastise the speaker. I Cor.13.9 states “we know in part and prophesy in part”, if i understand the verse correctly, it allows building cautious frameworks from Scripture for understanding. this is different to what I Tim.1.4 and elsewhere warns against “speculations” that are in concept, from my limited knowledge, dissimilar.

    as an aside, in Gen.1.2 do you see a spiritual component in the “darkness” (cf. John 1.5 where the light displaces the darkness). so the Spirit of God hovering over the darkness in a judicial sense possibly indicating the fall of Satan prior to the temptation of man?

  2. Hi and thanks for the questions.

    By “speculation” I had in mind, not off-the-wall explanations, but something which belongs to more speculative theology. On the subject of Kline’s view, he suggests a position which is textually and theologically plausible and intriguing. I like some speculative stuff (one of my favorite theologians is W.G.T. Shedd), as long as it can be clearly followed to texts in context. Hence, speculation and tentative teaching go together.

    On Adam’s image, I have come across the view that we are in his likeness rather than God’s. But Gen.9:5 shows that that is not tenable. Further, the “image and likeness” language in Gen. 5 mirrors the same in Gen. 1:26-27. All that is being said in Gen. 5:3 is that his son bore the image which Adam himself bore. We know, of course, that Adam’s fall distorted the image, and that distortion is transmitted to his posterity, but the image is still God’s. Kline’s thesis only reinforces this idea.

    As for the “darkness” in Genesis 1:2, I do not at all see any element of evil or its judgmental fallout. The text just does not support that idea, and the wider context (“it was good”) supports it. This view comes from the old “Gap Theory” promoted by Scofield and Fruchtenbaum and others. It does not come from grammatical-historical hermeneutics, but from wanting to appease the demands of the geological column. That is “speculation” but is pretty wildly awry from the texts being used (e.g. uncreation narratives in the Prophets).

    I hope that helps.

    God bless,


    1. thanks Paul for answering my questions and your interaction.

      after some thought, i would probably not preach tentative ideas on lesser theological concepts (i do not formally preach or teach at the moment).

      i graduated from Bible college and have an M.Div. too which is not really a theological degree (i did sit under McCune who i hold to be a stickler theologically). after schooling my calling was to a layperson reaching out to others in a secular work space. now quasi-retired i desire to catch up on much Christian literature and thought which i am behind on for these last 30 years. since i am not immersed in a theological curriculum my various reasoning tools are not sharpened as i would like them to be. selectively buying books, reading your blog and others is starting to better equip me to serve Christ i feel (which should be my only goal, besides loving Him obviously).

      so much for where i am “coming from.”

      yes, i agree with Gen. 9.6 that we have a distorted image of God as you put it. thanks for pointing this verse out to me.

      the Gen. 1 portion you failed to convince me conclusively (i was going to reply in your Byl post but will respond here briefly).

      firstly, a Grammatical-Historical approach will not help the interpreter. no history exists here. this is a unique section written by God. Moses never claimed to have authored the account but Moses did authenticate it which is the important fact. grammatically, no precedent has been set for us to know definitively how this section is to be understood compared to other authors and settings where words and structure is easier to understand and a word usage is established.

      this part of the Bible suffers, i believe, from an “over packaging” from two opposing positions. the unbelievers want to point to what has been historically held to undermine the faith. many believers want to have an easy formula so they can (i think) be authoritative. i feel Christians are painting themselves in a corner sort of when they dogmatically insist on things where it is not certain what they affirm from the Bible.

      i fail to see the connection how darkness in 1.2 would be covered by “it was very good” referring to the subsequent creation. this is much further afield in my view. and yes, i lean to old earth and think several gaps are possible for this section. for instance: God is apart from His creation, so when He created in 1.1 and then “entered” the creation in 1.2 there exists, in my mind at least, a possible gap.

      “all truth is God’s truth” and i believe in attempting to reconcile natural and special revelation without dogmatically insisting, by using subsequent Scripture, to artificially and prematurely formulate a position for Gen.1.

      1. ““all truth is God’s truth” and i believe in attempting to reconcile natural and special revelation without dogmatically insisting, by using subsequent Scripture, to artificially and prematurely formulate a position for Gen.1”

        This may sound like reasonable logic on first acquaintance, but more often than not it means torturing the text of Genesis to align with a speculative interpretation of natural revelation. Hence, it winds up giving priority to natural revelation over special revelation in that it finds things in Genesis which most would admit are not found except in retrospect from a viewpoint which has swallowed a long-age interpretation of natural evidences–a secular reinterpretation of creation where the Bible plays second fiddle in the dance.

        The other issue is what gets put into the sought-for “gap”? Again, more often than not, things are put therein which are clearly at odds with the Genesis account (death, fossils, creation of the sun and moon, sin).

      2. Hi “squeaky2” – without meaning any disrespect I want to reprint something I wrote to a person who objected on similar grounds to you in regard to grammatical-historical hermeneutics. I think much applies to what you stated above:

        What meaning then does “historical” grammatical approach to Scripture have?

        Well, I think you badly mistake the meaning of “historical” in grammatical-historical (G-H). It does not refer to scanning ANE documents and archaeological discoveries to use to interpret the Bible. And for a very good reason. They are partial, debatable, and non-inspired. “Historical” explanation, in the sense of G-H hermeneutics, cannot be done via the vagaries of historical research, but via the biblical context.

        Note well:

        “Certainly,the more an interpretation depends on inferences (as opposed to explicit statements in the text), the less persuasive it is. If a historical reconstruction disturbs (rather than reinforces) the apparent meaning of a passage, we should be skeptical of it…A good criterion for assessing the validity as well as the value that a theory [i.e. a historical reconstruction ] may have for exegesis is to ask this question: Could the interpretation of a particular passage be supported even if we did not have the theory? A good interpretation should not depend so heavily on inferences that it cannot stand on its own without the help of a theoretical construct. A theory about the historical situation may help us to become sensitive to certain features of the text that we might otherwise ignore, but it is the text that must be ultimately determinative.”

        – Moises Silva in Walter Kaiser & Moises Silva, Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (2nd edition), 179. Emphasis in original.

        External historical-cultural data can help illuminate the background of biblical texts, but they must never be allowed to have any control over the interpretation of the text itself. Once this is permitted we end up with the work of Peter Enns on the ancient biblical worldview and J. D. G. Dunn’s “New Perspective on Paul.” The Bible alone must determine its meaning. To hand interpretative control over to Bible backgrounds is to hand the authority of the text over too.

        The “historical”in G-H plays a definite second fiddle to the “grammatical.” This is seen in many manuals, but some good examples are Roy Zuck’s Basic Bible Interpretation, and John Sailhamer’s essay ]”Johann August Ernesti: The Role of History in Biblical Interpretation.'”

        Me again. With due respect, I think brother that you have fallen into the same misconception as the person I originally wrote this to. The text of Genesis 1 IS the context for anything said in Gen. 1:2 and there is no hint of “darkness” being anything other than lack of light. The Divine pronouncements “and it was good” must be taken into account in the exegesis.

        God bless,


      3. Hi Tony,

        Nice to hear from you! Your points are solid and well made. As far as I know, the only two things that can fill the “gap” are the Geological Ages (Scofield), or the supposed pre-creation career of Satan (Pember, Fruchtenbaum). I think neither are safe options.

        Hope the commentary is coming along well.

        Your brother,


      4. “This may sound like reasonable logic on first acquaintance, but more often than not it means torturing the text of Genesis to align with a speculative interpretation of natural revelation. Hence, it winds up giving priority to natural revelation over special revelation in that it finds things in Genesis which most would admit are not found except in retrospect from a viewpoint which has swallowed a long-age interpretation of natural evidences–a secular reinterpretation of creation where the Bible plays second fiddle in the dance.”

        Gleason Archer has affirmed that the evidence of an old universe is irrefutable. Dr. Garland, have you interacted with the data or debated any scientists on the origins issue?

        Just recently I sat next to a computer scientist/engineer who was returning from an international conference (he may have not been very prominent since he was in coach class with me). I challenged him as to the Bible’s accuracy and gave him my argument that God is apart from His creation and in 1.2 He enters it which signifies a gap. This caused the scientist to ponder it as he couldn’t refute it. Yes, he was a thorough going atheist but I may have planted a seed of doubt to his confidence. I have other accounts also where I have defended Biblical revelation successfully and honorably, at least in my opinion. I actively seek interaction whenever the “door opens.”

        Cloistered Christianity doesn’t do a whole lot for me. Rather, the likes of Christians as Abraham Kuyper who stated: “Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”

        Also, the historical interpretation is just as speculative as the reinterpretation in my mind. The historical interpretation has not been authenticated by an apostle or the Lord Jesus. Christ spoke only on the historical Adam which I absolutely and unequivocally affirm (I do not hold to genetic or Macroevolution).

        You may have the last word if you like.


      5. “With due respect, I think brother that you have fallen into the same misconception as the person I originally wrote this to. The text of Genesis 1 IS the context for anything said in Gen. 1:2 and there is no hint of “darkness” being anything other than lack of light. The Divine pronouncements “and it was good” must be taken into account in the exegesis.”

        Hi Dr. Henebury,

        You know better than I how New Testament revelation has exposed gaps in several texts (Is.61, Ze.9) as to the Biblical fulfillment. One realized prophecy for one period of history while the text next to it awaits fulfillment. This is in reference to the Spirit hovering in 1.2 apart from creation in 1.1.

        The “it was good” argument is the same I received over 30 years ago and obviously seems the only one contra the “darkness” referring to a possibly sinister aspect. With due respect, I am not convinced to any conclusive degree.

        I’ll give you the last word if you want it.

        Christ’s blessings,


      6. Hi Alex,

        I’m not interested in having the last word (as you put it), but do want to respond to your question and some of your comments.

        “Have you interacted with the data or debated any scientists on the origins issue?” Yes, I have interacted with the data — every thinking Christian who embraces a young earth interpretation of Genesis (the plain interpretation I might add) must do so. Same goes for numerous Christian ministries which hold a young-earth view. As to debating any scientists, well that depends on how one defines a scientist and what constitutes a debate. I have not formally debated anyone on any issue, much less someone who would call themselves officially a scientist. I have, however, had protracted exchanges, both in person and in written form, with individuals who have reasonable training in the sciences — undergraduate degrees in the sciences and graduate degrees in fields of engineering. They certainly consider themselves “scientific” although they would not call themselves “scientists.”

        I myself am trained in the science related fields–electrical engineering and computer science. By virtue of being raised in secular schools, I once was an ardent evolutionist which of course included a belief in the secular theories concerning the age of the universe and earth. If I still held such views, I’d probably not be a Christian because I think it quite plain that a straight-forward reading of Genesis and an old-earth (especially as the secular story goes) are incompatible. The same interpretive framework which leads most secular scientists to assume an old-earth earth also places the earliest human about 200,000 years ago. Thus, the popular old-earth package confidently asserts human death at a time which is completely incompatible with Genesis 1–prior to the creation of Adam on day 6. I don’t see how positing a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 addresses this popular “fact”?

        As for interacting with the data: the data itself is not the issue–the interpretation of the data is where the issues arise. You, and numerous others, choose to align your beliefs with an interpretation of data which favors an old age. I, and others–probably a minority, favor the authority of Scripture in a straight-forward reading over commonly assumed interpretations of the same data. In other words, I believe Scripture trumps interpretation of natural revelation and includes material which science has no possibility of arriving at (e.g., Isaiah 53 — and prophecy in general). Are there aspects of the data which are difficult to interpret in relation to a young earth? Yes. But I’m convinced from the primacy of Scripture and the author’s intended meaning that a young earth is what Genesis sets forth. That means I’m willing to question interpretations of natural revelation which assume otherwise.

        All truth is God’s truth, but man’s interpretation of natural revelation is frequently untrue. In places where God’s revealed Word clearly opposes a particular interpretation of natural revelation–however popular it may be–I choose to stand on Scripture and await vindication that the popular interpretation of the data is in error.

        As for what Gleason Archer affirms, I think his views on origins are highly suspect and not derived from Scripture. He embraces ideas which are quite obviously at odds with the Genesis record:

        “To revert to the problem of the Pithecanthropus, the Swanscombe man, the Neandertal and all the rest (possibly even the Cro-magnon man, who is apparently to be classed as Homo sapiens, but whose remains seem to date back at least to 20,000 B.C.) it seems best to regard these races as all prior to Adam’s time, and not involved in the Adamic covenant. We must leave the question open, in view of the cultural remains, whether these pre-Adamic creatures had souls (or, to use the trichotomic terminology, spirits).” — Archer, G. Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised edition, Moody Press, Chicago, pp. 204-205, 1985.

        Scripture knows nothing of pre-Adamic men without souls (nor does it know of an Adamic covenant for that matter). It is safe to say that no Biblical interpreter in the history of Christianity would have found pre-Adamic men in Genesis if it weren’t for trying to force-fit Genesis into errant secular interpretation of historical data. If Archer is so unreliable in an understanding of the creation of man, why should I trust him when he concludes that evidence for an old earth is irrefutable? After all, Archer is not a scientist and we have numerous true scientists of the Christian variety who disagree. Not only is Archer “unqualified” in the sciences, but he isn’t even doing an admirable job of that which he is qualified: exegesis and theology.

        Well, perhaps I sound somewhat strident. Perhaps after years as an evolutionist and skeptic and only coming to faith in my 30’s after having become aware of the many problems with the secular tale of origins I have less patience for Christians who are bent on interpreting Genesis in ways which are not found in the text itself–motivated by a secular framework of history which denies almost everything upon which Christianity stands.

    2. Paul said: “Hope the commentary is coming along well.”

      Dare we hope? Could this be the commentary on Daniel? 🙂

      1. Hi Alf,

        Yes, after a good start 4 years ago and then languishing since then, I have taken up the gauntlet on moving forward on the Daniel commentary. I would appreciate any prayers for efficient progress as I’ve been plagued by distractions ever since refocusing on the project.

        Thanks for your continued interest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s