Friday, February 20, 2009

Firstborn… (Hebrews 1:5-14) 200209

The author of Hebrews strings seven Old Testament (OT) passages to corroborate his argument that the Son of God is superior to the angels (F. F. Bruce). The use of OT passages is obviously to present a stronger argument to persuade the audience who are mainly Jews who are familiar with these scriptures.

As I read, I am drawn to the term “firstborn” who refers to Jesus. Leon Morris suggests that ‘this verse is the only place in the NT where "firstborn" (prototokos) is used absolutely of Christ. Elsewhere it is used with reference to Jesus' birth (Luke 2:7) and it is linked with many brothers (Rom 8:29), all creation (Col 1:15), or the church (Col 1:18; Rev 1:5). It represents Christ in his relationship to others and gives the word a social significance. Here, however, it signifies that he has the status with God that a firstborn son on earth has with his father (cf. reference to "heir" in v. 2).

I am not too sure if you ever ask question like this when you come across this term “firstborn”: Does it means that there are ‘secondborn’ or ‘thirdborn’ of God? In other words, Jesus is not the only Son of God, He actually has other brothers of His Father God. Even John 3:16 the phrase “only begotten Son” is debatable as the Greek literal translation have the meaning: an unique Son, which implies there might be other not so unique Sons. That is where many cult leaders claimed to be the heavenly brother of Jesus. My research on Tai Ping Revolution in China is a classic example of that idea.

Now, you might doubt my theological soundness. Don’t worry, I still believe and hold on to Jesus as the only Son of God. Jesus being the firstborn does not necessary mean ‘firstborn’, but rather ‘born before’. Even the idea ‘before’ may invoke the idea that Jesus is time bound, rather than co-exist with God. But I would argue and understand that Jesus is ‘before’ and beyond our time concept and co-exist with God ‘before’ our understanding of time.

I know all these arguments are difficult to grapple, but it is necessary. I am challenged by my own understanding of Jesus, and it helps me to be even more firm with Christ.

For today’s devotion, I consult three commentaries and even bounce ideas with a colleague. We have no conclusion. But for me, I get rooted deeper in my faith and understanding of Jesus as the ONLY SON of God. There is no other Sons of God.

I think I need more time to digest my readings and sort out my thoughts. I may not even revisit this idea in the near future, but at least I have given this a thought.

There are many things about God, we simply cannot comprehend. Do we just leave it alone? I don’t think we should just do that, but we should think about it more, seek the truth. Though we may not have the answer, but I am sure each time we grapple with tough issue like this, we grew deeper in God and with God.

Are you puzzled with what God is doing in your life? Are you confused or angry with what God has allowed to happen in your life? Do not give up grappling with God. Think about it, pray about it and even talk about it. There may be no answer after all, but there will be growth in the process.



No comments: