From Paul to Nicea

I’ve just finished reading Christopher Bryan’s The Resurrection of the Messiah (Oxford: OUP, 2011) and I rather liked this quote in his conclusion:

Paul, the earliest of our witnesses is, as we have seen, particularly clear. We have noted how, in I Corinthians 15:27-28 he spells out, in his own way, precisely the point that Nicea would  eventually make by means of the homoousion – that the subjection of all things to the Son involves not two rival divine principles but the sovereignty of the one God who is truly glorified in the Son. We noted that even these remarks must also be understood in the light of Paul’s repeated and (apparently) utterly characteristic assertion that “the Lord Jesus Christ” together  with “God the Father” is the source of “grace and peace” – an extraordinary assertion for a Pharisaic Jew. Even more strikingly, Paul’s assertion in I Corinthians stands alongside passages such as that in Philippians 2:9 where Paul (in the view of most commentators, quoting from an older source) reminds his hearers that God has given to Christ Jesus “the Name that is above every name.” As we have also noted, for a Pharisaic Jew there was only one name that could possibly be described in that way, and it was the name of God … Catholic Christianity has claimed that by the homoousion of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan formularies it elucidated what the New Testament already implied. The claim is well-based (pp. 177-78).

  • Patrick

    “The Name that is above every name”. Yahweh/I AM.

    It’s stuff like this that becomes clearer when we actually take the entire narrative as 1 unified text in it’s cultural context. Of course any Jew reading this in 66 AD would have no question about what “The Name” was.

    That Philippians passage was a typical way an ANE Jew would say, “Jesus is Yahweh”. They just didn’t talk like we do.

  • Ronald Day

    The unipersonal “God” of Philippians 2:9 did not give to God the name of God to be above every name that God has given, for such which would mean that God would have exalted God from being a little lower than the angels to being a higher than the angels. (Hebrews 1:4; 2:9; 1 Peter 3:22) It would further mean that God did not have this name until God exalted God.

    Nor did Yahweh give to Yahweh the name of Yahweh to be above every name that Yahweh has given; such an idea would mean that Yahweh exalted Yahweh from being lower than the angels to a position greater than the angels, and that Yahweh did not have the name Yahweh until Yahweh exalted Yahweh. – Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 1:4; 2:9; 1 Peter 3:22.

    Nor did Jesus receive either the appellation “Jesus” or “Yahweh” at the time when the unipersonal “God” exalted Jesus. The Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32,35) already had the appellation “Jesus” before he was exalted. – Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31.

    It should be apparent that when the Most High — the unipersonal “God” — exalted His Son (Luke 1:32,35; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:3,17-23), that the unipersonal “God” gave to Jesus the name (office) that is above every name, with the evident exception of that of Yahweh, the only the Most High. — 1 Corinthians 15:27.


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