Bart Ehrman on Luke 3:22 and Anti-Adoptionism

In this post, I will talk about Bart Ehrman’s discussion of Luke 3:22 in his book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament.

The context of Luke 3:22 is Jesus’ baptism by John.  The King James Version for that verse reads: “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”  Ehrman’s argument is that “in you I am well pleased” is actually an attempt to theologically correct an earlier reading: “today I have begotten you.”  Why was this attempt made, according to Ehrman?  Essentially, there were adoptionists who believed that Jesus became the Son of God and Christ at his baptism, when God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.  But there were Christians who disagreed with the adoptionists, believing instead that Jesus was God’s son before his baptism.  The Christian scribes who believed that Jesus was God’s son prior to his baptism changed the text to read “in you I am well pleased” instead of “today I have begotten you,” since the latter reading implied that Jesus became God’s son when he was baptized.  The change made Luke 3:22 say that God was acknowledging Jesus as his son, not making Jesus into his son at that time.

Ehrman offers text-critical grounds for his view that “today I have begotten you” was an earlier reading than “in you I am well pleased.”  In the second-third centuries C.E., Ehrman argues, “today I have begotten you” was the predominant (maybe even the only) reading.  Ehrman mentions such names as Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others, but I’ll quote Justin Martyr.  Justin says the following in Dialogue with Trypho 88, when discussing Jesus’ baptism:

“but then the Holy Ghost, and for man’s sake, as I formerly stated, lighted on Him in the form of a dove, and there came at the same instant from the heavens a voice, which was uttered also by David when he spoke, personating Christ, what the Father would say to Him: ‘You are My Son: this day have I begotten You;’ [the Father] saying that His generation would take place for men, at the time when they would become acquainted with Him: ‘You are My Son; this day have I begotten you.'”  See here.

Notice that Justin not only presents God saying “this day have I begotten you” at Jesus’ baptism, but Justin also tries to interpret that in a non-adoptionistic fashion, applying it to the regeneration of Christians rather than to God begetting Jesus as God’s son when Jesus was baptized.  There is good reason to believe that “today I have begotten you” was the predominant reading of Luke 3:22 in Justin’s time, and that it was later changed to “in you I am well pleased.”

There are other arguments that Ehrman makes for “today I have begotten you” in Luke 3:22 being the earlier reading.  First, up to the sixth century, this particular reading is broadly attested, occurring in “witnesses as far-flung as Asia Minor, Palestine, Alexandria, North Africa, Rome, Gaul, and Spain” (page 63).  You may recall that the book, Reinventing Jesus, which criticizes Ehrman, says that broad attestation is a strong ground for authenticity when it comes to text critcism.  Second, changing “today I have begotten you” to “in you I am well pleased” may have been (at least in part) an attempt to harmonize Luke 3:22 with Mark 1:11, where we have “in whom I am well pleased.  There were Christian scribes who tried to harmonize the Gospels, as Reinventing Jesus acknowledges.  Third, within Luke-Acts, there seems to be a salient notion that something significant happened to Jesus at his baptism—-that God anointed Jesus and endowed him with power (cp, Luke 3:22 with 4:1, 14; Acts 10:37-38).  According to Ehrman, what happened in Luke 3:22 was “an election formula, in which a king is actually chosen by God upon his anointing” (page 67).  Ehrman offers other arguments for the priority of “today I have begotten you” in Luke 3:22, as well.

One might ask if “today I have begotten you” in Luke 3:22 contradicts Luke’s virgin birth story, in which Jesus is born as the Christ (Luke 2:11).  If that is the case, wouldn’t “in you I am well pleased” be the reading that makes more sense within Luke’s Gospel?  Ehrman’s response to that appears to be that Luke contradicts himself, or at least appears to do so.  On page 65, Ehrman states:

“According to Luke’s infancy narrative, Jesus was born the Christ (2:11).  But in at least one of the speeches of Acts he is understood to have become the Christ at his baptism (10:37-38; possibly 4:27); whereas in another Luke explicitly states that he became Christ at his resurrection (2:36).  It may be that in yet another speech (3:20) Jesus is thought to be the Christ only in his parousia.  Similarly ‘inconsistent’ are Luke’s predications of the titles Lord and Savior to Jesus.  Thus, Jesus is born the Lord in Luke 2:11, and in Luke 10:1 he is designated Lord while living; but in Acts 2:36 he is said to have been become Lord at his resurrection.  So too, in Luke 2:11 he is born Savior, and in Acts 13:23-24 he is designated Savior while living; but according to Acts 5:31 he is said to have been made Savior at the resurrection.  Nor does the title Son of God…escape this seemingly erratic kind of treatment: Jesus is born the Son of God in Luke 1:32-35, descended Son of God according to the genealogy of 3:23-28, and declared to be Son of God while living (e.g., Luke 8:28; 9:35); but Acts 13:33 states that he became the Son of God at his resurrection.”

What Ehrman says reminds me of John Meier’s claim that we see a grab-bag sort of Christology in the Gospels: that there were different ideas about who Jesus was, and the Gospel writers grabbed from these diverse ideas in their own depictions of Jesus (see here), incorporating low and high Christologies.  Perhaps one could also do source criticism with Luke-Acts to explain its diversity: some have posited that Jesus’ birth story in the Gospel of Luke was pre-Lukan (see here), and that the speeches within Acts are earlier than Luke’s Gospel.

It’s interesting to me how Paul himself appears to have diverse Christologies in his writings: Paul may arguably be saying in Romans 1:4 that Jesus was appointed to be the Son of God at his resurrection, yet Paul says in Romans 8:3 that God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh, which seems to imply that Jesus was God’s Son long before God raised Jesus from the dead.  Ehrman, like many scholars, holds that Paul in Romans 1:4 is drawing from an earlier source, while adding a little of his own two-cents.  For some reason, Paul has no problem including an allusion that appears to contradict what he says elsewhere.  Perhaps Paul had his own way of explaining away Romans 1:4 to himself so that it would cohere with his stance, and thus (like many Christian fundamentalists) he did not acknowledge a contradiction.  But, according to Ehrman, there were later scribes who would have issues with how Romans 1:4 was phrased!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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47 Responses to Bart Ehrman on Luke 3:22 and Anti-Adoptionism

  1. Kevin says:

    I doubt there is any chance I’ll get a response on this, but I really would like the input of someone who understands these things better. I think there is a lot about Ehrman’s reading that is tenuous, but one fault seems so glaring to me that I think I must just be misunderstanding something. That is, Ehrman seems to say at one point that we shouldn’t assume that Luke’s Chrisology is consistent. But then, his entire argument about “Today I have begotten you” turns on the premise that it more aligns with Luke’s use of the word “elect” or variations thereof in various places as indicating an Adoptionist Christology. Isn’t that a contradiction?


  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Hi Kevin! It could be, or maybe there is some way to get around that. Perhaps one would have to do work on what is from Luke, and what is from Luke’s sources.


  3. Kevin says:

    I’m not sure, though, that it really matters to Ehrman’s claim. First, the says there is a Luke shows a distinct lack of consistency, “in his use of christological titles and conceptions”. He then goes on to say:

    An obvious example comes in Luke’s depiction of Jesus as the Messiah. According to Luke’s infancy narrative, Jesus was born to Christ (2:11). But in at least one of the speeches of Acts he is understood to have become the Christ at his baptism (10:37-38; possibly 4:27); whereas in another Luke explicitly states that he became the Christ at his resurrection (2:38). It may be that in yet another speech (3:20) Jesus is thought to be the Christ only in his parousia. Similarly “inconsistent” are Luke’s predications of the titles Lord and Savior to Jesus. Thus, Jesus is born the Lord in Luke 2:11, and in Luke 10:1 he is designated Lord while living; but in Acts 2:38 he is said to have been become Lord at his resurrection. So too, and Luke 2:11 he is born Savior, and in Acts 13:23-24 he is designated Savior while living; but according to Acts 5:31 he is said to have been made Savior at the resurrection. Nor does the title Son of God, the title that is directly germane to our present deliberation, escape this seemingly erratic kind of treatment: Jesus is born the son of God in Luke 1:32-35, descended son of God according to the genealogy of 3: 23-38, and declared to be son of God while living (e.g., Luke 8:28; 9:35); but Acts 13:33 states that he became the son of God and his resurrection. This kind of titular ambiguity does not inspire confidence in claims that certain readings cannot be Lukan because they stand in tension with Luke’s use of christological titles elsewhere.

    So far, I see what he’s saying. But then he says:

    This is not mean that the broad scope of Luke’s narrative is irrelevant to the textual problem of 3:22. It is relevant, but not through an appeal to a consistent used of christological notions. More fruitful is an assessment of the other references to Jesus’ baptism throughout Luke’s work, “backward glances,” as it were, that provide clues concerning what happened at that point of the narrative.

    After which he proceeds to discuss various Lukan passages using the concept of “election”. I don’t have the scholarly aptitude to know whether he what he is saying about the use of “election” (like Christ being the said to be God’s “chosen one” which to Ehrman implies an Adoptionist reading) is right or not, but it seems like, in the first passage he is affirming the claim “Luke was not particularly consistent in his use of Christological terminology or concepts” in order to dispel the notion that scholars can’t come to a conclusion about whether or not Luke 3:22 was altered to harmonize with with Mark’s account of the baptism. But then he goes on to say that “Certain backward glances toward the Baptism scene in Luke make it more likely that the Bezae reading should be preferred on intrinsic grounds”. But those “backward glances” – the stuff about election – should all rightly be called “Christological terminology and concepts” (which Ehrman believes are Adoptionist), which he has just previously claimed and indeed shown were inconsistent throughout Luke. How can he both say “Luke inconsistently applies Christological concepts” and “We should prefer the Bezae reading because it is more consistent with Luke’s Christological concepts.” Again, I know next to nothing about textual criticism save what I gleaned as a Latin minor undergraduate, but I do teach Freshman Composition and it seems like there is a glaring contradiction. But since this was published in such an influential book that received almost universally positive reviews, I can’t help but think there’s just something I’m missing because I don’t understand the field well enough or maybe I’m just not smart enough all together.

    Thank you for so much for responding to a comment on such an old post. I feel like all I have been able to get from investigating Ehrman so far is uncritical praise on the one hand or vitriol on the other. I just want to understand the way things really are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jarek S. says:

    When you put Acts 2:38 it should be Acts 2:36


  5. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I changed it. I noticed that was in a quote of Ehrman, so I do not know if the mistake was mine in quoting Ehrman, or Ehrman’s in citing the wrong text. Since he meant Acts 2:36, I changed it.


  6. Cesar Urias says:

    Hello Kevin, In JN 3:5 thru 8, Jesus is very specific on the 2 births a man can have.

    JN3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    The first birth of man is being born in the flesh. The second is being born of the Spirit. Jesus Christ was born again in the Spirit when he was baptized in the river Jordan. He received the promise of the Father that day. (Titus 1:2; EZ 11:19; JR 31:33; EZ 36:26). In Hebrews it details Christ being begotten from a woman. In Luke 3:21 Jesus is baptized in the Spirit. In Luke 3:22, when God said “Today I have begotten thee” God is refering to the 2nd birth. JN 4:24 “For they that worship him, must worship him in spirit.” JN 3:5 …Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ was a man. That is written everywhere in the bible. He was begotten not made. Adam was made, not begotten. Act 7:37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. Moses was a man

    In JN 2:19 Jesus refers to his body as a “temple”. No one else in the entire bible refers to his body as a temple. Not one. Jesus was the first one to ever say that.
    JN:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
    20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

    What dwells in a temple? A God.
    John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
    ACTS 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
    2CR 5:15 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

    The manifestation of the promise from God had been fulfilled and a new covenant had come to fruition. The Spirit upon (Old Covenant) in the old testament no longer meant the same Spirit upon (New Covenant) in the new testament.

    Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Renewing of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit, Pneuma Hagion)

    PS: 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
    LK 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; (in thee I am well pleased) Today I have begotten thee.
    HB 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
    HB 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

    Man’s doctrine will always contradict God’s doctrine.


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  8. Greg Logan says:

    James – Thanks for posting. This is a FASCINATING issue related to textual criticism and the virgin birth (as well obviously for the traditional Christology – hence, theology).


    What did these guys think about Jesus being “the son of God” – and what did that really mean?

    What I am fascinated by is that besides Mt, Lk there was NOT mention of the virgin birth ANYWHERE in the NT…. In conjunction the Hebrew Gospel of Mt omits that section… And this…. ETC.

    I have begun doubting the virgin birth now for some time based on the literary and textual evidence. Likewise the traditional Christology – seeing that sonship has nothing to do with some sort of eternal being.


  9. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thanks for your comment, Greg. I’ve not done a thorough study of “Son of God,” but I can share with you my guesses. I think that Paul and John conceive Jesus’ Sonhood more as Jesus being a divine being. John thinks that was eternal; Paul also does, but he includes sources that seem to say that Jesus became Son at the resurrection. In the synoptics, Son of God may mean Messiah, since the Davidic king was a Son of God. When Peter said Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God, he meant Jesus was the Messiah, not a divine being. A question would then be how the high priests could consider Jesus a blasphemer when he said that he was a Son of God, for how is claiming to be the Messiah blasphemous? What they may have considered blasphemous was, not Jesus’ claim to be Messiah, but his statement that he will come on the right hand of power.


  10. Fred Sadler says:

    My take is that “this day I have begotten Thee” is referring to His being begotten before His physical incarnation.


  11. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thanks for your comment, Fred. In some places in Scripture, your interpretation might work. In Hebrews, for instance, Jesus was pre-existent and appears to have been God’s Son even at creation, so when the author of Hebrews has “this day I have begotten Thee,” it may refer to what you say. The question would be what that phrase meant when Jesus was baptized in Luke: why did God in Luke’s story say that? God was saying that he was begetting Jesus that day, presumably the day of Jesus’ baptism. Could God have been attesting at Jesus’ baptism that Jesus was eternally begotten as the Son of God—-as in eternally generated, on that day and throughout eternity? I cannot disprove that, but (as far as I know) it is not exactly a theme in Luke-Acts (though Simon Gathercole might argue differently, since he believes the synoptics teach Jesus’ pre-existence).


  12. Greg Logan says:


    I do not see any eternal Son in either Paul or John. In fact Son seems more assumed than defined in this sense – though Paul does seem to see the the sonship initiated or at least confirmed at the resurrection.

    Luke on the other hand is VERY clear that Jesus is the Son of God because the Spirit of God overshadowed Mary and therefore he SHALL (FUTURE TENSE!!) be called the Son of God. So now we know what the author of Luke thinks….

    The whole high priest thing… well… I don’t think they really cared why – they were just ticked at him – and blasphemy was the charge that resulted in death.


  13. Greg Logan says:

    Fred – There is NOTHING to indicate “begetting” relates to an event preceding a “physical incarnation”.


  14. Greg Logan says:


    re Hebrews
    I don’t see anything re a personal pre-existent Son – rather the opposite – but one who in ALL points was like His brethren…. Unless you happen to be personally pre-existent (I know I wasnt’) …:-)

    re Simon Gathercole
    A lively imagination that man has indeed!!! Usually we find that under the “Fantasy” section of Film art….


  15. jamesbradfordpate says:

    But Hebrews 1:2 says that the worlds were made by the Son.


  16. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I don’t know. I don’t think pre-existence in John can be dismissed. There’s John 1. I suppose one could argue that the Word technically was not a Son at the time.

    What I am hearing from you, though, is that you doubt Jesus in the New Testament writings pre-existed. There are some who believe that way. James Dunn somewhat waffled on the question of whether Jesus pre-existed in John and Hebrews. I know there are people who argue that Jesus did not pre-exist—-that the Logos in John 1 was the order of the universe, not a personal being, and God fashioned that into a human being, Jesus Christ. It seems to me that John 1, Philippians 2, etc. present pre-existence.

    I may be slow in publishing and getting back to comments. I will publish them, though.


  17. Greg Logan says:

    James – Do you read Greek?


  18. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I may have overspoken in saying the Son was eternal in Paul and John. I cannot think of anywhere that this is explicitly stated—-unless one wants to say that there are New Testament writings that depict Jesus as God, and eternity is part of being God, but people have critiqued that position. I guess what I was getting at is that, in Paul and John, Jesus is presented as pre-existent and maybe as a divine being. I would say the same about Hebrews.

    One thing to remember: my comments here will rarely, if ever, be perfect. That’s one reason I don’t get into debates. I don’t always think of everything when I comment; and yet, there are usually a bunch of options swimming around in my mind, and it is not always easy for me to sort them out in writing a cohesive comment.


  19. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I have taken a lot of it in school. I am not fluent, but I have Bibleworks. Do you read “worlds” as “ages”? He made the ages?


  20. Greg Logan says:

    James – Take your time – no pressure – frankly, I probably should not even be doing this – I am sort of addicted to Biblical exegesis – to a fault.

    The Logos isn’t a person – please simply read Ps33:6 and 2Pet3:5 (Heb11:2) – oh, and Gen1…:-). The Logos is not the “order of the universe” either – it is exactly what it is said to be “the WORD of God”.

    Jesus is NOT the Logos – Jesus IS the Logos made flesh – huge difference.

    Phil 2 – there is no pre-existence in Phil2 – not sure why that would be remotely considered.


  21. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I’m a little surprised by that last statement—-and not because of your position. If I’m not mistaken, Raymond Brown didn’t believe in pre-existence in Philippians 2, either. I’m surprised that you don’t understand why at least someone would arrive at the conclusion that Philippians 2 teaches pre-existence. It’s not far-fetched. v 7 says he was made in the likeness of men. One could conclude that his act of humbling himself included him becoming a man; and would he not have to pre-exist to become a man? One perhaps can argue that it should be interpreted another way, but, seriously, saying Philippians 2 teaches Jesus’ pre-existence is not in the same category as saying the moon is made out of cheese.


  22. Greg Logan says:

    Check the preposition in Heb – and note who is the subject….


  23. Greg Logan says:

    or – perhaps i should say “what” what is the subject.


  24. Greg Logan says:

    James – Fair enuf – not on the same level as moon is made out of green cheese.

    The same author repeatedly describes Jesus as a man. I don’t see him departing from that here. A preexistence divine being of any sort taking on whatever elements of humanity is simply not a man (unless you are someone other than who I expect you are…:-) ).

    May I humbly suggest you are reading anachronistically into Paul’s language??


  25. Greg Logan says:

    James – Totally good at “imperfect” comments – that is why God made the “grace” and “edit buttons…:-). I need plenty of both!


  26. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Well, I do try not to read anachronistically. I may have slipped when I said Paul and John regarded Jesus as the eternal Son.

    Your argument about Jesus as a man is obviously important to you, since you used a similar argument about Hebrews. The argument doesn’t entirely sit right with me. Some of your arguments sit better with me, since they make me look back at biblical passages and ask if they really say what I thought they said, at least explicitly. On the man argument, maybe Paul did consider a pre-existent divine being taking on human flesh to be a man, at least after he took on human flesh. I think Philippians 2 says that, when it presents Jesus becoming flesh as an act of humility.


  27. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Well, the subject of the whole sentence is God. I’m reading it in Greek and nothing stands out to me as unusual. What do you see?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Greg Logan says:

    James – More tomorrow – but YES – that was my point the SUBJECT is God as creator – NOT the son.


  29. Greg Logan says:

    BTW – I appreciate your humility, gentleness and open mindedness! You set a great example – one that I sometimes lose sight of in the thick of things.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. jamesbradfordpate says:

    It’s kind of an academic interest, in that I’m interested in what you believe and how you interpret texts.


  31. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Right, but it says he made the worlds through the Son.

    I’ll eventually come back on here tomorrow. I’m on Pacific time.

    I’m interested in how you interpret this text:

    For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2Co 8:9 KJV)

    Does that imply pre-existence?

    Another question I have: Why do Paul and Hebrews emphasize that Jesus was man or was flesh? If they believed as you do, wouldn’t they take that for granted, without having to emphasize it? I hope my question makes sense.


  32. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Just to clarify my last comment. I’m interested in what you have to say, but not really in converting to anything. Also, while I may look for any articles you recommend, it will probably take a LONG, LONG time for me to get to them, as I am swamped with reading material, in addition to my dissertation.


  33. Greg Logan says:

    Well your academic demeanor serves you well. There are many whose ego is so tied to their tradition/exegesis – that they react pretty strongly

    The only thing that bothers me is if someone simply plays games with the text – straying from its very clear meaning (on the occasional instances when that occurs…:-). That seems a sort of integrity/heart issue – which is the really core part of our walk with God.


  34. Greg Logan says:

    For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2Co 8:9 KJV)

    I have not idea why people would remotely see incarnation/pre-existence UNLESS they had a 4th C tradition to do it therewith – which is obviously problematic.

    No – the text never states what is meant by “though he was rich” – though I suspect he is back into morphe tou theou.


  35. Greg Logan says:


    Here was your original comment re Heb1:2

    “But Hebrews 1:2 says that the worlds were made by the Son”

    I am curious – do you see how by directly interacting with the text – nothing more or less – we have already moved away from the sort of “absolute” sense conveyed into your statement above to a more ambiguous sense?


  36. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I don’t see the ambiguity yet, because the text says that God made the worlds through the Son. I’m curious as to what you do with that.

    But, yes, I originally said the worlds were made by the Son, as if the Son did it, whereas the text itself says that God made the worlds through the Son.


  37. jamesbradfordpate says:

    So, in your view, he was rich in the sense of being in the image of God?


  38. Greg Logan says:


    Originally you used the preposition “BY” – with the sort of sense that the Son was the subject of the creating.

    In fact, the Son is NOT the subject of the creating – as you noted – GOD is the Creator.

    And God did not create “BY” the Son – God created “THROUGH” the Son.

    AND – God did NOT create the WORLD – God created the AGES….. (whatever the author meant is in itself ambiguous unless we have fully exegeted that word).

    Do you see how significantly you have shifted in meaning just in the above? That is VERY significant from the absolute subject sense that was conveyed in your original statement – and in the concept that you generally work with.

    What then does GOD Himself creating (exactly as we have seen from Gen 1 – and always all by Himself – as even the culture from whence all this came declares to this day) THROUGH the Son actually mean???

    So we now have to wonder what this creating “THROUGH” the Son actually means…. How does the author of Hebrews define that??

    Likewise – what are those “ages”?

    Lots of ambiguity when you actually get all muddy in the text…:-)


  39. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Yeah, I admitted I went from “by” to “through.” But then you would need to explain what you think that means, and people would then decide for themselves if what you say makes sense or is a stretch.


  40. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I think one question to ask is if there is a concept in antiquity of God creating the “ages.” There is plenty about God creating the cosmos. And, while I do try to let each NT writing speak for itself rather than interpreting one book in light of another, it is significant that there are other passages that speak of God creating things through, well, Jesus, or whoever or whatever became Jesus. I think of John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16.

    Perhaps what you would then say—-and I am not trying to put words into your mouth, but just guessing—-that God created through his speech, and he made that speech into Jesus Christ. I’m not entirely sure what that would look like.


  41. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Anyway, I have to discipline myself to work on my dissertation right now (fun, fun). I’ll be getting to your comments spottily, Greg, but I’ll get to them.

    I noticed you comment on Dustin Martyr’s blog. I follow him, but I don’t think he’s written in a while. I had forgotten that he argues that Jesus’ pre-existence was in God’s mind and not a personal pre-existence. I remember now that James McGrath shared one of his posts. One of Dustin Martyr’s posts on John and Enoch helped me make sense of John 3:13.


  42. Greg Logan says:

    James – You did – you were quite honest as the text was considered – I certainly appreciate that. My point was – we went from your initial essentially absolute statement to a much more ambiguous unclear denotation….


  43. Greg Logan says:

    James – Just to cover the “creation” concept. You will never see “ek” used for Jesus – as you do with God.

    You will only see “dia”. So, the issue is – what does it mean to “create THROUGH”? How do we know? What is the basis? Investing a 4th C doctrinal notions into a 1st C text is, at best, silly.

    Likewise, you will never see Jesus as the subject. In contrast, when God is spoken of regarding creation, “ek” is often used AND God is often the subject if not always.

    ALSO – the issue of WHAT is being created. Please read and re-read Col1:16 – and ask yourself – WHAT is really being created here….


  44. Greg Logan says:


    OK – enough beating around the bush – here is the real issue – it is Christological – the anhypostasis of the human nature of Christ – which is the bedrock of the hypostatic union – the bedrock of trin theology.

    Trins have replaced the man Christ Jesus – our only mediator, our only Lord and Master – with a mere impersonal human nature actuated by some kind of divine being. That is not a man as both you and I know.

    In contrast, scripture specifically identifies Jesus as a man.

    I expect you already know the 10 – 12 texts so I will not provide except upon request.


  45. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I edited this comment so I sound less strident: It may be helpful if you said what you think these verses mean. Playing Socrates usually doesn’t work on me. I often don’t give people the answers they’re looking for, and I’m slow to figure out where exactly they’re going.


  46. Greg Logan says:

    James – Great question! Well – first of all – the next never states what sense of this phrase is. So we are sort of left to our own devices.

    I could ask you for your approach in these situations – or simply offer what I have come to at this point – which I think is your request.

    My best assumption – based on standard hermeneutics – and doing no violence to the whole counsel of God – is that Jesus is the primary focus/center/key/consideration of all of God’s plan, of all of God’s creation, of all of reality – AS OPPOSED TO – all the other authorities, e.g. Lords, Caesar, Kings, etc. Jesus is the priority. Period. Really the one and only. Nothing of this universe is relevant without Jesus of Nazareth, the MAN attested by GOD – whom GOD made LORD and Christ.


  47. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I do agree that these are key points in Colossians.

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