International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
PERSON OF CHRIST
Method of the Article
I. THE TEACHING OF PAUL 1. Philippians 2:5-9
(1) General Drift of Passage
(2) our Lord's Intrinsic Deity
(3) No Examination
(4) our Lord's Humanity
2. Other Pauline Passages
II. THE TEACHING OF THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS
(1) Background of Express Deity
(2) Completeness of Humanity
(3) Continued Possession of Deity
III. THE TEACHING OF OTHER EPISTLES
IV. THE TEACHING OF JOHN
1. The Epistles
2. Prologue to the Gospel
(1) The Being Who Was Incarnated
(2) The Incarnation
(3) The Incarnated Person
3. The Gospel
V. THE TEACHING OF THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS
VI. THE TEACHING OF JESUS
1. The Johannine Jesus
(1) His Higher Nature
(2) His Humiliation
2. The Synoptic Jesus
(1) His Deity
(a) Mark 13:32
(b) Other Passages: Son of Man and Son of God
(c) Matthew 11:27; 28:19
(2) His Humanity
(3) Unity of the Person
VII. THE TWO NATURES EVERYWHERE PRESUPPOSED
VIII. FORMULATION OF THE DOCTRINE
Method of the Article:
It is the purpose of this article to make as clear as possible the conception of the Person of Christ, in the technical sense of that term, which lies on-or, if we prefer to say so, beneath-the pages of the New Testament. Were it its purpose to trace out the process by which this great mystery has been revealed to men, a beginning would need to be taken from the intimations as to the nature of the person of the Messiah in Old Testament prophecy, and an attempt would require to be made to discriminate the exact contribution of each organ of revelation to our knowledge. And were there added to this a desire to ascertain the progress of the apprehension of this mystery by men, there would be demanded a further inquiry into the exact degree of understanding which was brought to the truth revealed at each stage of its revelation. The magnitudes with which such investigations deal, however, are very minute; and the profit to be derived from them is not, in a case like the present, very great. It is, of course, of importance to know how the person of the Messiah was represented in the predictions of the Old Testament; and it is a matter at least of interest to note, for example, the difficulty experienced by our Lord's immediate disciples in comprehending all that was involved in His manifestation. But, after all, the constitution of our Lord's person is a matter of revelation, not of human thought; and it is preeminently a revelation of the New Testament, not of the Old Testament. And the New Testament is all the product of a single movement, at a single stage of its development, and therefore presents in its fundamental teaching a common character. The whole of the New Testament was written within the limits of about half a century; or, if we except the writings of John, within the narrow bounds of a couple of decades; and the entire body of writings which enter into it are so much of a piece that it may be plausibly represented that they all bear the stamp of a single mind. In its fundamental teaching, the New Testament lends itself, therefore, more readily to what is called dogmatic than to what is called genetic treatment; and we shall penetrate most surely into its essential meaning if we take our start from its clearest and fullest statements, and permit their light to be thrown upon its more incidental allusions. This is peculiarly the case with such a matter as the person of Christ, which is dealt with chiefly incidentally, as a thing already understood by all, and needing only to be alluded to rather than formally expounded. That we may interpret these allusions aright, it is requisite that we should recover from the first the common conception which underlies them all.
I. Teaching of Paul.
1. Philippians 2:5-9:
(1) General Drift of the Passage.
We begin, then, with the most didactic of the New Testament writers, the apostle Paul, and with one of the passages in which he most fully intimates his conception of the person of his Lord, Philippians 2:5-9. Even here, however, Paul is not formally expounding the doctrine of the Person of Christ; he is only alluding to certain facts concerning His person and action perfectly well known to his readers, in order that he may give point to an adduction of Christ's example. He is exhorting his readers to unselfishness, such unselfishness as esteems others better than ourselves, and looks not only on our own things but also on those of others. Precisely this unselfishness, he declares, was exemplified by our Lord. He did not look upon His own things but the things of others; that is to say, He did not stand upon His rights, but was willing to forego all that He might justly have claimed for Himself for the good of others. For, says Paul, though, as we all know, in His intrinsic nature He was nothing other than God, yet He did not, as we all know right well, look greedily on His condition of equality with God, but made no account of Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and, being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, becoming obedient up to death itself, and that, the death of the cross. The statement is thrown into historical form; it tells the story of Christ's life on earth. But it presents His life on earth as a life in all its elements alien to His intrinsic nature, and assumed only in the performance of an unselfish purpose. On earth He lived as a man, and subjected Himself to the common lot of men. But He was not by nature a man, nor was He in His own nature subject to the fortunes of human life. By nature He was God; and He would have naturally lived as became God-`on an equality with God.' He became man by a voluntary act, `taking no account of Himself,' and, having become man, He voluntarily lived out His human life under the conditions which the fulfillment of His unselfish purpose imposed on Him.
(2) Our Lord's Intrinsic Deity.
The terms in which these great affirmations are made deserve the most careful attention. The language in which our Lord's intrinsic Deity is expressed, for example, is probably as strong as any that could be devised. Paul does not say simply, "He was God." He says, "He was in the form of God," employing a turn of speech which throws emphasis upon our Lord's possession of the specific quality of God. "Form" is a term which expresses the sum of those characterizing qualities which make a thing the precise thing that it is. Thus, the "form" of a sword (in this case mostly matters of external configuration) is all that makes a given piece of metal specifically a sword, rather than, say, a spade. And "the form of God" is the sum of the characteristics which make the being we call "God," specifically God, rather than some other being-an angel, say, or a man. When our Lord is said to be in "the form of God," therefore, He is declared, in the most express manner possible, to be all that God is, to possess the whole fullness of attributes which make God God. Paul chooses this manner of expressing himself here instinctively, because, in adducing our Lord as our example of self-abnegation; his mind is naturally resting, not on the bare fact that He is God, but on the richness and fullness of His being as God. He was all this, yet He did not look on His own things but on those of others.
It should be carefully observed also that in making this great affirmation concerning our Lord, Paul does not throw it distinctively into the past, as if he were describing a mode of being formerly our Lord's, indeed, but no longer His because of the action by which He became our example of unselfishness. our Lord, he says, "being," "existing," "subsisting" "in the form of God"-as it is variously rendered. The rendering proposed by the Revised Version margin, "being originally," while right in substance, is somewhat misleading. The verb employed means "strictly `to be beforehand,' `to be already' so and so" (Blass, Grammar of New Testament Greek, English translation, 244), "to be there and ready," and intimates the existing circumstances, disposition of mind, or, as here, mode of subsistence in which the action to be described takes place. It contains no intimation, however, of the cessation of these circumstances or disposition, or mode of subsistence; and that, the less in a case like the present, where it is cast in a tense (the imperfect) which in no way suggests that the mode of subsistence intimated came to an end in the action described by the succeeding verb (compare the parallels: Luke 16:14, 23; Luke 23:50 Acts 2:30; Acts 3:2 2 Corinthians 8:17; 2 Corinthians 12:16; Galatians 1:14). Paul is not telling us here, then, what our Lord was once, but rather what He already was, or, better, what in His intrinsic nature He is; he is not describing a past mode of existence of our Lord, before the action he is adducing as an example took place-although the mode of existence he describes was our Lord's mode of existence before this action-so much as painting in the background upon which the action adduced may be thrown up into prominence. He is telling us who and what He is who did these things for us, that we may appreciate how great the things He did for us are.
(3) No Examination.
And here it is important to observe that the whole of the action adduced is thrown up thus against this background-not only its negative description to the effect that our Lord (although all that God is) did not look greedily on His (consequent) being on an equality with God; but its positive description as well, introduced by the "but...." and that in both of its elements, not merely that to the effect (Philippians 2:7) that `he took no account of himself' (rendered not badly by the King James Version, He "made himself of no reputation"; but quite misleading by the Revised Version (British and American), He "emptied himself"), but equally that to the effect (Philippians 2:8) that "he humbled himself." It is the whole of what our Lord is described as doing in Philippians 2:6-8, that He is described as doing despite His "subsistence in the form of God." So far is Paul from intimating, therefore, that our Lord laid aside His Deity in entering upon His life on earth, that he rather asserts that He retained His Deity throughout His life on earth, and in the whole course of His humiliation, up to death itself, was consciously ever exercising self-abnegation, living a life which did not by nature belong to Him, which stood in fact in direct contradiction to the life which was naturally His. It is this underlying implication which determines the whole choice of the language in which our Lord's earthly life is described. It is because it is kept in mind that He still was "in the form of God," that is, that He still had in possession all that body of characterizing qualities by which God is made God, for example, that He is said to have been made, not man, but "in the likeness of man," to have been found, not man, but "in fashion as a man"; and that the wonder of His servanthood and obedience, the mark of servanthood, is thought of as so great. Though He was truly man, He was much more than man; and Paul would not have his readers imagine that He had become merely man. In other words, Paul does not teach that our Lord was once God but had become instead man; he teaches that though He was God, He had become also man.
An impression that Paul means to imply, that in entering upon His earthly life our Lord had laid aside His Deity, may be created by a very prevalent misinterpretation of the central clause of his statement-a misinterpretation unfortunately given currency by the rendering of English Revised Version: "counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied himself," varied without improvement in the American Standard Revised Version to: "counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself." The former (negative) member of this clause means just: He did not look greedily upon His being on an equality with God; did not "set supreme store" by it (see Lightfoot on the clause). The latter (positive) member of it, however, cannot mean in tithesis to this, that He therefore "emptied himself," divested Himself of this, His being on an equality with God, much less that He "emptied himself," divested Himself of His Deity ("form of God") itself, of which His being on an equality with God is the manifested consequence. The verb here rendered "emptied" is in constant use in a metaphorical sense (so only in the New Testament: Romans 4:14 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3) and cannot here be taken literally. This is already apparent from the definition of the manner in which the "emptying" is said to have been accomplished, supplied by the modal clause which is at once attached: by "taking the form of servant." You cannot "empty" by "taking"-adding. It is equally apparent, however, from the strength of the emphasis which, by its position, is thrown upon the "himself." We may speak of our Lord as "emptying Himself" of something else, but scarcely, with this strength of emphasis, of His "emptying Himself" of something else. This emphatic "Himself," interposed between the preceding clause and the verb rendered "emptied," builds a barrier over which we cannot climb backward in search of that of which our Lord emptied Himself. The whole thought is necessarily contained in the two words, "emptied himself," in which the word "emptied" must therefore be taken in a sense analogous to that which it bears in the other passages in the New Testament where it occurs. Paul, in a word, says here nothing more than that our Lord, who did not look with greedy eyes upon His estate of equality with God, emptied Himself, if the language may be pardoned, of Himself; that is to say, in precise accordance with the exhortation for the enhancement of which His example is adduced, that He did not look on His own things. `He made no account of Himself,' we may fairly paraphrase the clause; and thus all question of what He emptied Himself of falls away. What our Lord actually did, according to Paul, is expressed in the following clauses; those now before us express more the moral character of His act. He took "the form of a servant," and so was "made in the likeness of men." But His doing this showed that He did not set overweening store by His state of equality with God, and did not account Himself the sufficient object of all the efforts. He was not self-regarding: He had regard for others. Thus, He becomes our supreme example of self-abnegating conduct.
See also KENOSIS.
(4) Our Lord's Humanity.
The language in which the act by which our Lord showed that He was self-abnegating is described, requires to be taken in its complete meaning. He took "the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men," says Paul. The term "form" here, of course, bears the same full meaning as in the preceding instance of its occurrence in the phrase "the form of God." It imparts the specific quality, the whole body of characteristics, by which a servant is made what we know as a servant, our Lord assumed, then, according to Paul, not the mere state or condition or outward appearance of a servant, but the reality; He became an actual "servant" in the world. The act by which He did this is described as a "taking," or, as it has become customary from this description of it to phrase it, as an "assumption." What is meant is that our Lord took up into His personality a human nature; and therefore it is immediately explained that He took the form of a servant by "being made in the likeness of men." That the apostle does not say, shortly, that He assumed a human nature, is due to the engagement of his mind with the contrast which he wishes to bring out forcibly for the enhancement of his appeal to our Lord's example, between what our Lord is by nature and what He was willing to become, not looking on His own things but also on the things of others. This contrast is, no doubt, embodied in the simple opposition of God and man; it is much more pungently expressed in the qualificative terms, "form of God" and "form of a servant." The Lord of the world became a servant in the world; He whose right it was to rule took obedience as His life-characteristic. Naturally therefore Paul employs here a word of quality rather than a word of mere nature; and then defines his meaning in this word of quality by a further epexegetical clause. This further clause-"being made in the likeness of men"-does not throw doubt on the reality of the human nature that was assumed, in contradiction to the emphasis on its reality in the phrase "the form of a servant." It, along with the succeeding clause-"and being found in fashion as a man"-owes its peculiar form, as has already been pointed out, to the vividness of the apostle's consciousness, that he is speaking of one who, though really man, possessing all that makes a man a man, is yet, at the same time, infinitely more than a man, no less than God Himself, in possession of all that makes God God. Christ Jesus is in his view, therefore (as in the view of his readers, for he is not instructing his readers here as to the nature of Christ's person, but reminding them of certain elements in it for the purposes of his exhortation), both God and man, God who has assumed man into personal union with Himself, and has in this His assumed manhood lived out a human life on earth.
2. Other Pauline Passages:
The elements of Paul's conception of the person of Christ are brought before us in this suggestive passage with unwonted fullness. But they all receive endless illustration from his occasional allusions to them, one or another, throughout his Epistles. The leading motive of this passage, for example, reappears quite perfectly in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where we are exhorted to imitate the graciousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who became for our sakes (emphatic) poor-He who was (again an imperfect participle, and therefore without suggestion of the cessation of the condition described) rich-that we might by His (very emphatic) poverty be made rich. Here the change in our Lord's condition at a point of time perfectly understood between the writer and his readers is adverted to and assigned to its motive, but no further definition is given of the nature of either condition referred to. We are brought closer to the precise nature of the act by which the change was wrought by such a passage as Galatians 4:4. We read that "When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law." The whole transaction is referred to the Father in fulfillment of His eternal plan of redemption, and it is described specifically as an incarnation: the Son of God is born of a woman-He who is in His own nature the Son of God, abiding with God, is sent forth from God in such a manner as to be born a human being, subject to law. The primary implications are that this was not the beginning of His being; but that before this He was neither a man nor subject to law. But there is no suggestion that on becoming man and subject to law, He ceased to be the Son of God or lost anything intimated by that high designation. The uniqueness of His relation to God as His Son is emphasized in a kindred passage (Romans 8:3) by the heightening of the designation to that of God's "own Son," and His distinction from other men is intimated in the same passage by the declaration that God sent Him, not in sinful flesh, but only the likeness of sinful flesh." The reality of our Lord's flesh is not thrown into doubt by this turn of speech, but His freedom from the sin which is associated with flesh as it exists in lost humanity is asserted (compare 2 Corinthians 5:21). Though true man, therefore (1 Corinthians 15:21 Romans 5:21 Acts 17:31), He is not without differences from other men; and these differences do not concern merely the condition (as sinful) in which men presently find themselves; but also their very origin: they are from below, He from above-`the first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven' (1 Corinthians 15:47). This is His peculiarity: He was born of a woman like other men; yet He descended from heaven (compare Ephesians 4:9 John 3:13). It is not meant, of course, that already in heaven He was a man; what is meant is that even though man He derives His origin in an exceptional sense from heaven. Paul describes what He was in heaven (but not alone in heaven)-that is to say before He was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh (though not alone before this)-in the great terms of "God's Son," "God's own Son," "the form of God," or yet again in words whose import cannot be mistaken, `God over all' (Romans 9:5). In the last cited passage, together with its parallel earlier in the same epistle (Romans 1:3), the two sides or elements of our Lord's person are brought into collocation after a fashion that can leave no doubt of Paul's conception of His twofold nature. In the earlier of these passages he tells us that Jesus Christ was born, indeed, of the seed of David according to the flesh, that is, so far as the human side of His being is concerned, but was powerfully marked out as the Son of God according to the Spirit of Holiness, that is, with respect to His higher nature, by the resurrection of the dead, which in a true sense began in His own rising from the dead. In the later of them, he tells us that Christ sprang indeed, as concerns the flesh, that is on the human side of His being, from Israel, but that, despite this earthly origin of His human nature, He yet is and abides (present participle) nothing less than the Supreme God, "God over all (emphatic), blessed forever." Thus Paul teaches us that by His coming forth from God to be born of woman, our Lord, assuming a human nature to Himself, has, while remaining the Supreme God, become also true and perfect man. Accordingly, in a context in which the resources of language are strained to the utmost to make the exaltation of our Lord's being clear-in which He is described as the image of the invisible God, whose being antedates all that is created, whom, through whom and to whom all things have been created, and in whom they all subsist-we are told not only that (naturally) in Him all the fulhess dwells (Colossians 1:19), but, with complete explication, that `all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily' (Colossians 2:9); that is to say, the very Deity of God, that which makes God God, in all its completeness, has its permanent home in our Lord, and that in a "bodily fashion," that is, it is in Him clothed with a body. He who looks upon Jesus Christ sees, no doubt, a body and a man; but as he sees the man clothed with the body, so he sees God Himself, in all the fullness of His Deity clothed with the humanity. Jesus Christ is therefore God "manifested in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16), and His appearance on earth is an "epiphany" (2 Timothy 1:10), which is the technical term for manifestations on earth of a God. Though truly man, He is nevertheless also our "great God" (Titus 2:13).
II. Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The conception of the person of Christ which underlies and finds expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews is indistinguishable from that which governs all the allusions to our Lord in the Epistles of Paul. To the author of this epistle our Lord is above all else the Son of God in the most eminent sense of that word; and it is the divine dignity and majesty belonging to Him from His very nature which forms the fundamental feature of the image of Christ which stands before his mind. And yet it is this author who, perhaps above all others of the New Testament writers, emphasizes the truth of the humanity of Christ, and dwells with most particularity upon the elements of His human nature and experience.
(1) Background of Express Deity.
The great Christological passage which fills Hebrews 2 of the Epistle to the Hebrews rivals in its richness and fullness of detail, and its breadth of implication, that of Philippians 2. It is thrown up against the background of the remarkable exposition of the divine dignity of the Son which occupies Hebrews 1 (notice the "therefore" of 2:1). There the Son had been declared to be "the effulgence of his (God's) glory, and the very image of his substance," through whom the universe has been created and by the word of whose power all things are held in being; and His exaltation above the angels, by means of whom the Old Covenant had been inaugurated, is measured by the difference between the designations "ministering spirits" proper to the one, and the Son of God, nay, God itself (1:8, 9), proper to the other. The purpose of the succeeding statement is to enhance in the thought of the Jewish readers of the epistle the value of the salvation wrought by this divine Saviour, by removing from their minds the offense they were in danger of taking at His lowly life and shameful death on earth. This earthly humiliation finds its abundant justification, we are told, in the greatness of the end which it sought and attained. By it our Lord has, with His strong feet, broken out a pathway along which, in Him, sinful man may at length climb up to the high destiny which was promised him when it was declared he should have dominion over all creation. Jesus Christ stooped only to conquer, and He stooped to conquer not for Himself (for He was in His own person no less than God), but for us.
(2) Completeness of Humanity.
The language in which the humiliation of the Son of God is in the first instance described is derived from the context. The establishment of His divine majesty in chapter 1 had taken the form of an exposition of His infinite exaltation above the angels, the highest of all creatures. His humiliation is described here therefore as being "made a little lower than the angels" (Hebrews 2:9). What is meant is simply that He became man; the phraseology is derived from Psalm 8 the King James Version, from which had just been cited the declaration that God had made man (despite his insignificance) "but a little lower than the angels," thus crowning him with glory and honor. The adoption of the language of the psalm to describe our Lord's humiliation has the secondary effect, accordingly, of greatly enlarging the reader's sense of the immensity of the humiliation of the Son of God in becoming man: He descended an infinite distance to reach man's highest conceivable exaltation. As, however, the primary purpose of the adoption of the language is merely to declare that the Son of God became man, so it is shortly afterward explained (Hebrews 2:14) as an entering into participation in the blood and flesh which are common to men: "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same." The voluntariness, the reality the completeness of the assumption of humanity by the Son of God, are all here emphasized.
The proximate end of our Lord's assumption of humanity is declared to be that He might die; He was "made a little lower than the angels.... because of the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9); He took part in blood and flesh in order that through death...." (Hebrews 2:14). The Son of God as such could not die; to Him belongs by nature an "indissoluble life" (Hebrews 7:16 margin). If He was to die, therefore, He must take to Himself another nature to which the experience of death were not impossible (Hebrews 2:17). Of course it is not meant that death was desired by Him for its own sake. The purpose of our passage is to save its Jewish readers from the offense of the death of Christ. What they are bidden to observe is, therefore, Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels because of the suffering of death, `crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God the bitterness of death which he tasted might redound to the benefit of every man' (Hebrews 2:9), and the argument is immediately pressed home that it was eminently suitable for God Almighty, in bringing many sons into glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect (as a Saviour) by means of suffering. The meaning is that it was only through suffering that these men, being sinners could be brought into glory. And therefore in the plainer statement of Hebrews 2:14 we read that our Lord took part in flesh and blood in order "that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage"; and in the still plainer statement of 2:17 that the ultimate object of His assimilation to men was that He might "make propitiation for the sins of the people." It is for the salvation of sinners that our Lord has come into the world; but, as that salvation can be wrought only by suffering and death, the proximate end of His assumption of humanity remains that He might die; whatever is more than this gathers around this.
The completeness of our Lord's assumption of humanity and of His identification of Himself with it receives strong emphasis in this passage. He took part in the flesh and blood which is the common heritage of men, after the same fashion that other men participate in it (Hebrews 2:14); and, having thus become a man among men, He shared with other men the ordinary circumstances and fortunes of life, "in all things" (Hebrews 2:17). The stress is laid on trials, sufferings, death; but this is due to the actual course in which His life ran-and that it might run in which He became man-and is not exclusive of other human experiences. What is intended is that He became truly a man, and lived a truly human life, subject to all the experiences natural to a man in the particular circumstances in which He lived.
(3) Continued Possession of Deity.
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pur'-sun, pur'-s'n, pur-un-al'-ti (nephesh, 'ish, 'adham, panim, prosopon, hupostasis): The most frequent word for "person" in the Old Testament is nephesh, "soul" (Genesis 14:21, "Give me the persons, and take the goods"; Genesis 36:6, the King James Version "all the persons" Numbers 5:6 the King James Version "that person," etc.) 'ish "a man," "an individual," Is also used (Judges 9:2, "threescore and ten persons"; 1 Samuel 16:18, "a comely person," etc.); 'adham, "a man," "a human being" (Numbers 31:28, "of the persons, and of the oxen"; Proverbs 6:12, "a worthless person," etc.); 'enosh, "a man," "a weak, mortal man," occurs twice (Judges 9:4, the King James Version "vain and light persons"; Zephaniah 3:4); ba`al, "owner," "lord," is once translated "person" (Proverbs 24:8, the King James Version "a mischievous person"), and methim, "men," once (Psalm 26:4, the King James Version "vain persons"); panim "face," is frequently translated "person" when the reference is to the external appearance, as of persons in high places, rich persons who could favor or bribe, etc., chiefly in the phrases "regarding the person," "accepting the person" (Deuteronomy 10:17 Malachi 1:8).
In the New Testament prosopon, "face," "countenance," stands in the same connection (Matthew 22:16,"Thou regardest not the person of men"; Galatians 2:6, "God accepteth not man's person"; Acts 10:34, "God is no respecter of persons"; Romans 2:11, "there is no respect of persons with God"; Ephesians 6:9 Colossians 3:25 James 2:1, 9); in 2 Corinthians 1:11 we have "persons" (prosopon), absolute as in the later Greek, "the gift bestowed.... by many persons," the only occurrence in the New Testament; in 2 Corinthians 2:10 prosopon may stand for "presence," as the Revised Version (British and American) "in the presence of Christ," but it might mean "as representing Christ"; in Hebrews 1:3, the King James Version hupostasis, "that which lies under," substratum, is rendered "person," "the express image of his person," i.e. of God, which the Revised Version (British and American) renders "the very image of his substance," margin "the impress of his substance," i.e. the manifestation or expression of the invisible God and Father. "Person" is also frequently supplied as the substantive implied in various adjectives, etc., e.g. profane, perjured, vile.
In the Apocrypha we have prosopon translated "person" (Judith 7:15, the Revised Version (British and American) "face"; Ecclesiasticus 10:5, etc.); the "accepting of persons" is condemned (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:7; Ecclesiasticus 4:22, 27; 7:06; 20:22, the Revised Version (British and American) "by a foolish countenance"; 35:13:00; 42:01:00; "With him (God) is no respect of persons, Ecclesiasticus 35:12).
The Revised Version (British and American) has "soul" for "person" (Numbers 5:6), "face" (Jeremiah 52:25), "man" (Matthew 27:24); "reprobate" for "vile person" (Psalm 15:4), the American Standard Revised Version, the English Revised Version margin "fool" (Isaiah 32:5, 6); the American Standard Revised Version "men of falsehood" for "vain persons" (Psalm 26:4); for "a wicked person," the Revised Version (British and American) has "an evil thing" (Psalm 101:4); "back to thee in his own person" (auton, different text) for "again thou therefore receive him" (Philemon 1:12); "take away life" for "respect any person" (2 Samuel 14:14); "with seven others" for "the eighth person" (2 Peter 2:5); "false swearers" for "perjured persons" (1 Timothy 1:10); "seven thousand persons" for "of men seven thousand" (Revelation 11:13).
Personality is that which constitutes and characterizes a person. The word "person" (Latin, persona) is derived from the mask through which an actor spoke his part (persona). "From being applied to the mask, it came next to be applied to the actor, then to the character acted, then to any assumed character, then to anyone having any character or station"; lastly, it came to mean an individual, a feeling, thinking and acting being. For full personality there must be self-consciousness, with the capability of free thought and action-self-determination-hence, we speak of personal character, personal action, etc. A person is thus a responsible being, while an animal is not. Personality is distinctive of man. The personality is the unit of the entire rational being, perhaps most clearly represented by "the will"; it is that which is deepest in man, belonging, of course, not to the realm of space or the region of the visible, but existing as a spiritual reality in time, with a destiny beyond it. It is the substance (hupostasis) of the being, that which underlies all its manifestations; hence, the rendering "the express image of his person" in Hebrews 1:3 the King James Version. Hupostasis was employed by the early Greek Fathers to express what the Latins intended by persona; afterward prosopon was introduced.
Recent psychology has brought into prominence elements in the subconscious realm, the relation of which to the personality is obscure. There seems to be more in each individual than is normally expressed in the personal consciousness and action. The real, responsible personality, however, is something which is always being formed. The phenomenon of double personality is pathological, as truly the result of brain disease as is insanity.
In the Bible man is throughout regarded as personal, although it was only gradually that the full importance of the individual as distinct from the nation was realized. The use of prosopon for "person" indicates also a more external conception of personality than the modern. With the Hebrews the nephesh was the seat of personality, e.g. "Thou wilt not leave my soul (nephesh) to Sheol" (Psalm 16:10); "Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol" (Psalm 30:3). God is also always regarded as personal (who has created man in His own image), and although the representations seem often anthropomorphic they are not really such. The divine personality could only be conceived after the analogy of the human, as far as it could be definitely conceived at all; but God was regarded as transcending, not only the whole of Nature, but all that, is human, e.g. "God is not a man, that he should lie" (Numbers 23:19 1 Samuel 15:29); "Canst thou by searching find out God?" (Job 11:7 Isaiah 40:28; compare Ecclesiastes 3:11; Ecclesiastes 8:17, etc.). In the New Testament the personality of God is, on the warrant of Jesus Himself, conceived after the analogy of human fatherhood, yet as transcending all our human conceptions: "How much more?" (Matthew 7:11); "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34). Man is body, soul and spirit, but God in Himself is Spirit, infinite, perfect, ethical Spirit (Matthew 5:48 John 4:24). He is forever more than all that is created, "For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things" (Romans 11:36). The human personality, being spiritual, survives bodily dissolution and in Christ becomes clothed again with a spiritual body (Philippians 3:21 1 Corinthians 15:44).
W. L. Walker
CHRIST, PERSON OF
See PERSON OF CHRIST.