Verse 51. "Verily, verily" - Amen, amen. The doubling of this word probably came from this circumstance: that it was written both in Hebrew ma and in Greek amhn, signifying, it is true.
"Heaven open" - This seems to be a figurative expression:
1. Christ may be understood by this saying to mean, that a clear and abundant revelation of God's will should be now made unto men; that heaven itself should be laid as it were open, and all the mysteries which had been shut up and hidden in it from eternity, relative to the salvation and glorification of man; should be now fully revealed. 2. That by the angels of God ascending and descending, is to be understood, that a perpetual intercourse should now be opened between heaven and earth, through the medium of Christ, who was God manifested in the flesh. Our blessed Lord is represented in his mediatorial capacity as the ambassador of God to men; and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man, is a metaphor taken from the custom of despatching couriers or messengers from the prince to his ambassador in a foreign court, and from the ambassador back to the prince.
This metaphor will receive considerable light when compared with 2 Cor. v. 19, 20: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself:-We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. The whole concerns of human salvation shall be carried on, from henceforth, through the Son of man; and an incessant intercourse be established between heaven and earth. Some have illustrated this passage by the account of Jacob's vision, Gen. xxviii. 12. But though that vision may intimate that God had established at that time a communication between heaven and earth, through the medium of angels, yet it does not appear that our Lord's saying here has any reference to it; but that it should be understood as stated above.
What a glorious view does this give us of the Gospel dispensation! It is heaven opened to earth; and heaven opened on earth. The Church militant and the Church triumphant become one, and the whole heavenly family, in both, see and adore their common Lord. Neither the world nor the Church is left to the caprices of time or chance. The Son of man governs as he upholds all. Wherever we are praying, studying, hearing, meditating, his gracious eye is upon us. He notes our wants, our weakness, and our petitions; and his eye affects his heart. Let us be without guile, deeply, habitually sincere, serious, and upright; and then we may rest assured, that not only the eye, but the hand, of our Lord shall be ever upon us for good.
Happy the man whose heart can rejoice in the reflection, Thou God seest me! 1. TESTIMONIES CONCERNING THE LOGOS, OR WORD OF GOD; From the Chaldee Targums.
The person here styled the Logos is called hwhy rbd debar yehovah, the Word of Jehovah, Gen. xv. 1, 4; 1 Sam. iii. 7, 21; xv. 10; 1 Kings xiii. 9, 17; xix. 9, 15; Psa. cvii. 20; and the Targums, or Chaldee paraphrases, frequently substitute yyd armym meymra d'yay, the word of the Lord, for hwhy Jehovah himself. Thus the Jerusalem Targum in Gen. iii. 22, and both that and the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, in Gen. xix. 24.
And Onkelos, on Gen. iii. 8, for the voice of the Lord God, has, the voice of the WORD of the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum on Gen. i. 27, for, And God created man, has, The WORD of Jehovah created, &c. Compare Targum Jonathan, on Isa. xlv. 12; xlviii. 13; Jer. xxvii. 5. And on Gen. xxii. 14, that of Jerusalem says, Abraham invoked, yyd armym ľb beshem meymra d'yay, in the name of the WORD of the Lord, and said, THOU art Jehovah. So Onkelos, Gen. xxviii. 20, 21, If the WORD of Jehovah will be my help-then the WORD of Jehovah shall be my God. See Parkhurst under the word logov.
After a serious reading of the Targums, it seems to me evident that the Chaldee term armym meymra, or WORD, is taken personally, in a multitude of places in them. When Jonathan ben Uzziel speaks of the Supreme Being as doing or saying any thing, he generally represents him as performing the whole by this Meymra, or WORD, which he considers, not as a speech or word spoken, but as a person distinct from the Most High, and to whom he attributes all the operations of the Deity. To attempt to give the word any other meaning than this, in various places throughout the Targums, would, in my opinion, be flat opposition to every rule of construction; though, like the Greek word logov, it has other acceptations in certain places. See Lightfoot.
2. Testimonies concerning the personality, attributes, and influence of the WORD of GOD, taken from the Zend Avesta, and other writings attributed to Zoroaster.
"Let thy terrible WORD which I pronounce, O Ormusd! elevate itself on high. May it be great before thee, and satisfy my desires!" ZEND AVESTA, vol. i. Vendidad Sade, p. 104.
Zoroaster consulted Ormusd, and spoke thus to him: "O Ormusd, absorbed in excellence, just Judge of the world, pure, who existest by thy own power, what is that great WORD given by God, that living and powerful WORD, O Ormusd, tell me plainly, which existed before the heavens, before the water, before the earth, before the flocks, before the fire, the CHILD of ORMUSD, before men, before the whole race of existing beings, before all the benefits, and before all the pure germs given by Ormusd?" Ormusd replied: "Pronounce that great WORD well, That WORD which existed before heaven was made, before the water, before the earth, before brute animals, before men, and before the holy angels (amschaspands.) I pronounced that word with majesty, and all the pure beings which are, and which have been, and which shall be, were formed. I continue to pronounce it in its utmost extent, and abundance is multiplied." Ibid. p. 138, 139.
"By his original WORD, Ormusd created the world and vanquished Ahriman, the genius of evil." Ibid. p. 140, not. 1.
"The saints in heaven and earth pronounce the sacred WORD:- under the character of Honover (i.e. pure desire) it is worshipped." Ibid. 141.
"Ormusd, together with the luminous and excellent WORD, is invoked, to defend the true worshipper from the oppression of evil spirits." Ibid. p. 174.
"Man is healed by the supreme word." Ibid. p. 324.
"By this WORD all defiled places are rendered pure: fire, water, earth, trees, flocks, men, women, stars, moon, sun, and the primeval light, with all the blessings given by Ormusd, are purified by it." Ibid. p. 368.
The word of Ormusd is termed, "Ezem bate, I AM;" and is represented as "putting every thing in a safe state-as the author of abundance; the source of all productions; the holy, pure, precious, and desirable word, which watches over all the creation." Ibid. Jescht Rashne Rast. vol. ii. p. 239.
It is called, "The excellent, elevated, and victorious word: the source of light; the principle of action, which smites and triumphs; which gives health; discomfits wicked men and spirits; which exists through all the world, destroying the evil, and fulfilling the desires of the good." Ibid.
Jescht of Ormusd, vol. ii. p. 145.
The Word is invoked as-"The pure word-the most pure word: the strong-the most strong: the extended and ancient-the most extended and the most ancient: the victorious-the most victorious: the salutary-the most salutary: which gives health-is the abundant source of health, and cures wounds and diseases of all kinds." Ibid. Jescht of Ardebehesht, vol. ii. p. 157.
It is termed, "The creator, or creating principle." Ibid. Jescht of Farvardin, vol. ii. p. 252.
"Prayer is made to the soul of the excellent WORD, the body of which is supremely luminous." Ibid. p. 262.
"Through the whole government of Ormusd, men are commanded to invoke that most pure and excellent WORD." Ibid. p. 264.
That the word, in the above places, does not mean the sacred books of the Parsees, it is expressly said, that-"The law of the Mazdejesnans (the disciples of Zoroaster) comes from this superexcellent Word." Ibid. Si-Rouze; Mansrespand, p. 323, 354.
"The law is the body under which the primitive WORD, which created the world, is manifested. The primitive WORD therefore is worshipped in reading and reverencing that law; and the effects produced in the soul by it are no less than a new creation, in some sort similar to that which this omnific Word formed in the beginning." Ibid. vol. ii. p. 595.
"The WORD proceeds from the first principle, time without bounds, i.e. eternity: it is before all created beings, and by it all the creation of God has been formed." Ibid. vol. ii. p. 592.
I find a word of the same import, used in exactly the same sense, in the Zend Avesta, attributed to the ancient Persian lawgiver, Zoroaster.
One might suppose that Mohammed had she first chapter of St. John's Gospel in his eye when he wrote ver. 33, of Surat xix., of his Koran: - Zalyka Isa. ibno Mareema Kawlolhokki, This is Jesus the Son of Mary, the WORD of TRUTH.-Some may understand the Arabic differently: This is a true word, that Jesus is the son of Mary.
3. TESTIMONIES CONCERNING THE LOGOS OR WORD OF GOD;
From Philo Judaeus.
After I had begun my collections from Philo Judaeus relative to the Logos, I casually met with a work of the late very learned Mr. Jacob Bryant, entitled, The sentiments of Philo Judaeus concerning the logov, or WORD of GOD. 8vo. Cambridge, 1797. From this valuable tract I shall make a few extracts, and beg leave to refer the reader to the pamphlet itself.
"Philo Judaeus speaks at large, in many places, of the word of God, the second person, which he mentions as (deuterov qeov) the second divinity, the great cause of all things, and styles him, as Plato, as well as the Jews had done before, the LOGOS. Of the Divine Logos, or Word, he speaks in many places, and maintains at large the divinity of the second person, and describes his attributes in a very precise and copious manner, styling him: (a) ton deuteron qeon ov estin ekeinou (qeou prwtou) logov, the second Deity, who is the Word of the Supreme God; (b) prwtogonon uion, his first begotten Son; (c) eikwn qeou, the Image of God; and (d) poimhn thv ierav agelhv, The shepherd of his holy flock.
In his treatise upon Creation, he speaks of the WORD, as (e) the Divine operator, by whom all things were disposed; and mentions him as (f) superior to the angels and all created beings, and the image and likeness of God, and says that this image of the true God was esteemed the same as God-(g) wv auton (qeon) katanoousi. (h) This LOGOS, the WORD of GOD, says he, is superior to all the world, and more ancient; being the producter of all that was produced. (i) The eternal Word of the everlasting God is the sure and fixed foundation, upon which all things depend. He mentions man as in need of redemption, and says, What intelligent person, who views mankind engaged in unworthy and wicked pursuits, but (k) must be grieved to the heart, and call upon that only saviour God, that these crimes may be extenuated, and that, by a ransom and price of redemption being given for his soul, it may again obtain its freedom! It pleased God therefore to appoint his LOGOS to be a mediator. (l) To his WORD the chief and most ancient of all in heaven, the great Author of the world gave this especial gift, that he should stand as a medium (or intercessor) between the Creator and the created; and he is accordingly the advocate for all mortals.
The same (m) WORD is the intercessor for man, who is always tending to (n) corruption: and he is the appointed messenger of God, the governor of all things, to man in subjection to him. (o) He, therefore, exhorts every person, who is able, to exert himself in the race which he is to run, to bend his course without (p) remission to the Divine WORD above, who is the fountain of all wisdom; that, by drinking at this sacred spring, he, instead of death, may obtain the reward of everlasting life. He repeats, continually, that the LOGOS is the express image of God.
(q) The WORD, by which the world was made, is the image of the supreme Deity. (r) As we perceive the sun's light, though the sun itself is not seen; and behold the brightness of the moon, though its orb may not appear to the eye; so men look up to, and acknowledge, the likeness of God, in his minister the LOGOS, whom they esteem as God. He attempts to describe his nature by representing him as, (s) not uncreated, like God; nor yet created, as man; but of a Divine substance. (t) For the WORD of God, which is above all the host of heaven, cannot be comprehended by human wisdom, having nothing in his nature that is perceptible to mortal sense.
For, being the image of God, and the eldest of all intelligent beings, he is seated immediately next to the one God, without any interval of separation. This, in the language of Scripture, is sitting on the right hand of God. He adds, (u) For not being liable to any voluntary or involuntary change, or falling off, he has God for his lot and portion, and his residence is in God. The like is mentioned in another place, where he is represented again as sinless, and as the great High Priest of the world. (v) We maintain, that by the (true) High Priest is not meant a man, but the Divine WORD, who is free from all voluntary and involuntary transgressions; being of heavenly parentage, born of God, and of that Divine Wisdom by which all things were produced. He speaks to the same purpose in another place, there he makes mention of the WORD. (w) en w kai arciereuv, o prwtogonov autou (qeou) qeiov logov, In which presides that High Priest, the holy WORD, the first-born of God; at other times styled, presbutatov uiov qeou, the Son of God, antecedent to all creation. (x) touton men gar presbutaton uion o twn ontwn aneteile pathr, on eterwqi prwtogonon wnomase. It is manifest that every attribute which the sacred writers have given to Christ, in his mediatorial capacity, Philo has attributed to him in his Divine character, antecedent to creation, page 15-22.
Mr. Bryant thinks that Philo derived all this knowledge, concerning the Logos, from the apostles, and the works and conversation of Christian writers; for it is very probable that Philo was contemporary with our Lord himself. Mr. B. is so well satisfied that Philo derived all this knowledge from these sources that he goes on to ask: - "Whence else could he have obtained so many terms which bear such an analogy with the expressions and doctrines in the apostolical writings? Such are uiov qeou, logov prwtogonov, presbutatov, aidiov, logov arciereuv, mesov, meqoriov, ikethv tou qnhtou, dhmiourgov, poimhn thv lerav agelhv, Ćuparcov qeou, sfragiv, eikwn teou, fwv, pneuma qeou, pneuma pansofon. We read farther concerning redemption, and-lutra kai swstra, the price and ransom for the soul, anti qanatou zwhn aidion, and nouv anqrwpou naov qeou. To these other instances might be added equally significant; few of which are to be found in the Greek version, or in any Jewish doctrines, at least in the acceptation given. They were obtained either from the conversation, or from the writings, of the first Christians; or rather from both." Page 202.
At p. 105, Mr. B. gives "A recapitulation of the characters and attributes of the Logos, with the collateral evidence from Scripture." This, with some other matters of a collateral import, he argues in 52 particulars, from which I have extracted the following, as being most closely allied to the subject, inserting the original words along with the translation. The references, in all cases, are to Dr. Mangey's edition of Philo, 2 vols. fol. Lond. 1742.
4. A LIST OF SOME OF THE PARTICULAR TERMS AND DOCTRINES FOUND IN PHILO, WITH PARALLEL PASSAGES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT.
1. The Logos is the Son of God-uiov qeou. Deuteronomy Agric. vol. i. p. 308; Deuteronomy Profug. ib. p. 5l12: compare Mark i. 1; Luke iv. 41; ver. 34; Acts viii. 37.
2. The second divinity-deuterov qeov logov. Fragm. vol. ii. p. 625: comp. ver. 1: 1 Cor. i. 24.
3. The first-begotten of God-logov protogonov. Deuteronomy Somniis, vol. i. p. 6l3: comp. Heb. i. 6; Colossiansi. 15.
4. The image of God-eikwn tou qeou. Deuteronomy Mundi Opific. vol. i. p. 6, 414, 419, 656. comp. Colossiansi. 15; Heb. i. 3; 2 Cor. iv. 4.
5. Superior to angels-uperanw pantwn (aggelwn) logov qeiov. Deuteronomy Profugis, vol. i. p. 5l11: comp. Heb. i. 4, 6.
6. Superior to all the world-Ćo logov-uperanw pantov esti. Deuteronomy Leg. Allegor. vol. i. p. c21: comp. Heb. ii. 8.
7. By whom the world was created-ton qeion logon ton tauta diakosmhsanta. Deuteronomy Mund. Opif. vol. i. p. i5: comp. chap. i. 3; 1 Cor. viii. 6; Heb. i. 2, 10.
8. The great substitute of God-uparcov tou qeou. Deuteronomy Agricult. vol. i. p. 308: comp. ver. 3; xvii. 4; Eph. iii. 9; Phil. ii. 7.
9. The light of the world-fwv kosmou: and intellectual sun- hliov nohtov. Deuteronomy Somniis, vol. i. p. 6, 414, 632, 6x23: comp. ver. 4, 9; viii. 12; 1Pet ii. 9.
10. Who only can see God-w monw ton qeon exesti kaqoran. Deuteronomy Confus. Linguar. vol. i. p. 418: comp. ver. 18; vi. 46.
11. Who resides in God-en autw monw katoikhsei. Deuteronomy Profug. vol. i. p. 5l11: comp. ver. 1, 18; xiv. 11.
12. The most ancient of God's works, and before all things- presbutatov twn osa gegone. Deuteronomy Confus. Ling. vol. i. p. 427; Deuteronomy Leg. Allegor. ib. p. c21: comp. ver. 2; xvii. 5, 24; 2 Tim. i. 9; Heb. i. 2.
13. Esteemed the same as God-logon wv auton (qeon) katanoousi. Deuteronomy Somniis, vol. i. p. 6l6: comp. Mark ii. 7; Romans ix. 5; Phil. ii. 6.
14. The Logos is eternal-o aidiov logov. Deuteronomy Plant. Noae, vol. i. p. 332, and vol. ii. p. 60i5: comp. chap. xii. 34; 2 Tim. i. 9; iv. 18; Heb. i. 8; Rev. x. 6.
15. Beholds all things-oxuderkestatov, wv panta eforan einai ikanov. Deuteronomy Leg. Allegor. vol. i. p. c21: comp. Hebrews iv. 12, 13; Rev. ii. 23.
16. He unites, supports, preserves, and perfects the world-o te gar tou ontov logov, desmov wn twn apantwn-sunecei ta merh panta, kai sfiggei-periecei ta ola, kai peplhrwken. Deuteronomy Prof. vol. i. p. 562; Fragm. vol. ii. p. 6l5: comp. chap. iii. 35; Colossiansi. 17; Heb. i. 3.
17. Nearest to God without any separation-o eggutatw mhdenov ontov meqoriou diasthmatov. Deuteronomy Profug. vol. i. p. 5l11: comp. ver. 18; x. 30; xiv. 11; xvii. 11.
18. Free from all taint of sin, voluntary or involuntary-aneu trophv ekousiou-kai thv akousiou. Deuteronomy Profug. vol. i. p. 5l11: comp. chap. viii. 46; Heb. vii. 26; ix. 14; 1 Pet. ii. 22.
19. Who presides over the imperfect and weak-outov gar hmwn twn atelwn an eih qeov. Deuteronomy Leg. Allegor. vol. i. p. cx18: comp. Matt. xi. 5; Luke v. 32; 1 Tim. i. 15.
20. The Logos, the fountain of wisdom-logon qeion, ov sofiav esti phgh. Deuteronomy Profug. vol. i. p. 560, 5l16: comp. chap. iv. 14; chap. vii. 38; 1 Cor. i. 24; Colossiansii. 3.
21. A messenger sent from God-presbeuthv tou hgemonov prov to uphkoon. Quis Rer. Div. Haeres. vol. i. p. 501: comp. chap. v. 36; viii. 29, 42; 1 John iv. 9