The eternal Son

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” John 17:24

Here is contained another suit put up by the Great High Priest of our Confession on our behalf. He prays for our union with him in heaven at last, and describes the blessed state of the elect in glory. This issues:

1. from their company, that they shall be with him where he is. cf. "and thus we shall ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4).

2. from beholding that glory given unto him, that same glory which till now we know only by faith. For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face.

3. The blessed state of believers is all the more secure and perennial because Christ is the Beloved of the Father from before the foundation of the world, that is, before the beginning of time. The Father loves the Son eternally, and in the Son he loves his adopted children.

Ephesians 1:4

"He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." Election has its Author, God the Father; this is said without affecting the extra-trinitarian relationships ascribed to the Blessed Three. Nevertheless, it is the Father who takes the lead in the divine work of election. Election is to pick or choose out of (for oneself).

This God did in eternity past, before anything existed. Its object is to make the chosen ones holy and blameless. Its foundation, from start to finish, is Christ. "Chosen in Him." He chose not because of any thing that was to be accomplished in us in time/space; he chose us rather to become saints.

The time of election: it is said to have occurred "before the foundation of the world," that is, "From eternity." The fixity of the eternal plan is taught us by Jesus Christ himself (John 6:39; 17:2,9,11,24; cf.6:44). The fact that from all eternity he had promised to make atonement for them may well have been an element that entered into the Father's love for him.

Strictly speaking, Trinitarian dealings concerning the salvation, calling and gathering of the Church, did not "happen." They were in the bosom of God from eternity. His decrees had no beginning, just as He had no beginning.

Succession is involved only in the implementation and execution of the same decree.

The deeper implication

If election took place in eternity past, as Ephesians 1 makes clear, and if we are chosen in him (Christ), then Christ must be eternal. Only God is eternal. Therefore Christ must be God. And he is, for the Bible calls him "the Father of eternity" (Isaiah 9).

The Only-begotten Son of the Father

In what sense is Christ the "only-begotten Son of the Father"?

Whereas both angels and certain men are designated sons of God, yet Christ's title as the Son of God is special and unique in its significance. He alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; believers are children of God by adoption, through grace, for Christ's sake. When the Bible speaks of Christ as God's only begotten Son, we are not to think about his conception or birth as a human being. He is thus called because he is the exact representation of the Father, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Hebrews 1:3); he is called the Son of God because he is divine: that is why Caiphas rent his clothes and cried out, "Blasphemy," to Christ's good confession, "I am," when he was asked whether he was the Son of the Blessed. We have to appreciate and understand this term the way the Jews understood it: Son = having the nature of. Cf. "Sons of disobedience," "Son of consolation," etc. Christ is therefore the Son of God before the incarnation, from eternity (cf. Psalm 2, etc.). The term Son expresses his ineffable relationship with the Father, that had no beginning (John 1:1).

Jesus calling men by Paul Mizzi

When the Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, called men from all classes and backgrounds, whether to salvation or apostleship, His call demonstrated divine authority and power.

1. In calling Zacchaeus, we have a fine specimen of divine exousia. Jesus could simply have walked on and left the tax-collector hidden among the branches. But no. "Make haste, and come down, for today I must stay at your house." I must: dei, signifying a deep sense of need, not a need on Jesus' part, but a need according to God's elective plan. Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was a child of believing Abraham, so he stopped and spoke to the man. He did not offer him, he did not propose to come to his house; rather, "I must..." And accordingly Zacchaeus acts.

2. Out of all the group of infirm people gathered at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus selects just one man for healing. He approaches him and instils hope within his breast by a simple question: "Do you want to be made well?" (John 5:6).

And even when the man expressed nothing but hope in human resources, Jesus still healed him by a word of command, when the man was still prostrate on his pallet: "Rise, take up your bed and walk." Once more, it is intimated that Jesus not only healed him physically but more than that gave him eternal life as he has authority to do (John 17:2).

3. Luke 5:1-11 is a case of apostolic commissioning, and yet not without a revelation of his true nature and character. For against all evidence Peter obeys the command to cast the nets into the deep for a catch. He did so at the Master's word, not on account of his fisherman's expertise.

And as he was astonished at the results, the Lord yet further shows his command over nature and men by further informing him that he will be catching men. He simply told his what he future career will be, not whether he would like to be an apostle. And Christ's authority is once more brought to like by the simple comment that they forsook all and did follow him.

4. A more straightforward account is given in the case of Matthew, and for its stark simplicity it hits home all the more. On seeing him at the tax office, Jesus immediately issues the command, "Follow me," with no strings attached.

And the moral force and authority is assumed; it is not directly mentioned; only it is said that Matthew, without protestation, without excuses, rose and begin following him.

5. In his wisdom, Christ exercises his authority to man's condemnation or to his justification. He is a stumblingblock to some; a rock of refuge to others. In the case of the adulteress caught in the very act (John 8:1-12), Jesus proved to be her refuge. He could justly and rightly condemn her for she flagrantly broke the Law; but instead his authority over her had a different end: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

In every case, Christ does not exercise his authority arbitrarily, as some might suppose, but according to the command he received from the Father (John 12:49,50).