God: One In Authority? Or A Word Meaning Divine Essence?
I believe in the pre-existence of the Word who became flesh, though I confess I do not fully understand his nature before the incarnation. At the incarnation the Word became a man. I know some argue he emptied himself of his divine abilities, or his glory, but again, I confess I know too little of his nature before the incarnation to say what changed at the incarnation (other than the fact he entered our humanity). I think it is possible that prior to his incarnation he was in Spirit form, but this is an assumption. The scriptures simply do not tell us about his nature before the incarnation, though we have verses in the Bible that reveal he was with the Father (John 1:1-3; John 17:5; John 3:13; John 6:33; John 6:62; John 16:28; John 8:58; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2).
The divine Word (who was God), became the man, the Lord Jesus Christ (who remained God), who became a Spiritual Man (who will never cease to be God). If my understanding is correct, as I explain it below, it does away with the theological construct of Christ having two natures, a problematic doctrine to say the least. It demonstrates his Godhood in a biblically consistent manner.
Christ is called God (theos) in the New Testament (John 1:1), but the same Greek word (theos) is used of Satan in 2 Corinthians 4:4. This seems to reveal to us that the term "God" does not tell us much - in and of itself - about the subject to which it refers. We must know something else about the individual who is called “God” to qualify the subject’s Godhood. The Father, Yahweh, is God above all, including Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). The Lord Jesus is God over everyone and everything except Yahweh (Philippians 2:9-11). Satan is god of this world; he currently rules over the world system in which we live. (I left the English spelling as “god”, with a lower case ‘g”, but this is actually irrelevant as the Greek did not originally distinguish between capital and lower-case letters. There actually is no warrant to make the “g” a lower case when referencing Satan in this context, but I left it as such due to its familiarity.) Furthermore, men are called “gods” in the scriptures (John 10:34-35). It seems, then, that the term God (theos, or its equivalent) is a generic term for a ruler of some kind, it is not a description of one’s “essence” or “nature.”
I believe the one who was the Word was God (Creator, the one in authority under the headship of Yahweh) and that he became man (the man in authority, though he did not use his authority for his own advantage – Philippians 2:6...it appears the centuries long battle over this verse can be explained better if we consider that the equality being referenced is one of authority, since Christ was given all authority by the Father, equal authority, and not that he was an equal "being"), the man that the Father made both Lord and Christ, and he was raised as a man and quickening Spirit that will rule over all.
To put it another way, He was God before the incarnation - though in a different form; he was God during the incarnation (as the Son of God he ranked above all except for the Father - though he did not assume his rulership at that point in time); and he died and rose again that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living (Romans 14:9).
We may use uninspired language at times in our attempt to explain God’s Word, and that is understandable. A problem occurs when men try to force others to accept their theological formulations – words that are not explicitly given to us in the scriptures. I know many have tried to “connect the dots” on various matters in an attempt to understand the scriptures, but “connecting the dots” has led many to go beyond what scripture requires of us. This is unfortunate. It has led to much division among professing Christians over the centuries. As one man said, the test of orthodoxy (of being in the faith), should be whether someone is practicing the “faith which worketh by love”, not if they adhere to the claims and terminology of historic church councils. I believe he is right.
Our understanding of the term “God” must fit all of its uses – a title for Yahweh, the Son, Satan, and men. The Father is sovereign over all. The Lord Jesus currently rules all who submit to him (and the universe), and he will rule the entire earth when he returns. Evil spirits have dominion over the kingdoms of this world. There are kings, presidents, and governors that rule human kingdoms. For consistency, it appears that the term "God" signifies sovereignty, or authority, and does not refer to a so called “divine essence.” Of course, the difference between the others and the Father and the Son, is the Father and Son are, and always have been, divine. Being called God does not qualify one's nature, but the divinity of the Father and the Son qualifies their Godhood, revealing to us the ultimacy of the Father, and the eternal Lordship of the Son.