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Revelation
 12:7-12
 
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (ESV)
Trinitarian Relations
St. Michael and All Angels
29 September 2015
Why does God become man in Christ? Simple; He does it for us. However, when we delve into the inter-Trinitarian relations, things are not so simple. How can Christ be begotten from eternity? Begotten is merely an archaic term meaning "born." We continue to use the term begotten in theology for the relation of the Son to the Father, to distinguish it from human birth. Human birth, of course, implies a beginning in time. We all have a birthday, and a conception day. And even though God knows us from eternity, we would still say that we had a beginning and that there was a time when we were not. None of these things could be attributed to God's Son. It is obvious that there is a Begetter and a Begotten, because there is a Father and Son. But the Son is eternal and changeless. This shoots the idea of a birth that is in time and a beginning. So what kind of birth could this be, if it neither implies a beginning for the Son nor a change in the Son? It is an eternal begetting. You can see why the church has retained the archaic term, "begotten" to refer to the relation of the Father and the Son.
 
We struggle to get our heads around how a birth could be eternal and not also imply any change in the Begetter or the Begotten. We must remember that the words which we use to speak of these relations are borrowed from God's own way of doing things. In other words, when we speak of human child being born in time, we are borrowing language that originates in the Trinitarian relations; so eternal begotten-ness is the norm, not the exception. God is not like us. We are like Him. The priority is with God and the relations that these terms describe. We are just images of that relation within our human sphere. If, then, we read back into the divine relations from our own human relations, then we will easily diminish the divine nature by comparing it to human nature with its limitations.
 
The Son comes from the Father and originates in Him. The Father is unoriginated. In other words, He does not come from anything else. The Son comes from the Father through being begotten of Him and the Spirit proceeds from them both (Jn 15:26) (the filioque is a subject for another day). How can the Son be both originated and eternal? His origin is the Father, but it is not a beginning in time. He is begotten of the Father, but there never was a time when He was not. The Son is equal to the Father. The Son has His origin from the Father, but is equal with the Father and is therefore coeternal with Him. The unoriginate is eternal, but that which is eternal is not necessarily unoriginate, so long as the Father is the source of the One who is originated. Gregory Nazianzus helps us with this when he points out that cause and effect may occur at the same time. He uses the example of light and its source, the sun, that exist at the same time. The sun does not come before the light. The light does not come before the sun, yet the sun is the cause of the light. The Father originates the Son, but both are eternal; one does not come before the other.
 
When we ask "What's the point of knowing these things?" there are at least a couple of answers. One is, because this is how the Bible portrays these things. The second is, because it is for us. The whole divine order of internal relations among the persons of the Trinity, is ordered precisely to affect our salvation. God's relations are that He might relate to us as our eternal, unchanging Savior.

 

Gregory of Nazianzus

"Let us confine ourselves within our limits, and speak of the Unbegotten and the Begotten and that which proceeds from the Father, as somewhere God the Word Himself said (Jn 15:26).
 
"When did these come into being? They are above all "when." But, if I could speak with greater boldness, they came into being when the Father did. And when did the Father come into being? There never was a time when He was not. And the same thing is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Ask me again, and again I will answer you, When was the Son begotten? When the Father was not begotten. And when did the Holy Spirit proceed? When the Son was, not proceeding but, begotten; He was beyond the sphere of time, and above the grasp of reason. Although we cannot set forth that which is above time, if we avoid, as we desire, any expression which conveys the idea of time. For such expressions as "when," "before," "after," and "from the beginning" are not timeless, however much we may force them....
 
"If the three persons of the Trinity are coeternal, how then are they not alike unoriginate? Because they are from the Father, though not after Him (in time). For that which is unoriginate is eternal, but that which is eternal is not necessarily unoriginate, so long as it may be referred to the Father as the origin. Therefore in regard to cause, the Son and the Spirit are not unoriginate. However, it is evident that the cause is not necessarily prior to its effects; for example, the sun is not prior to its light. And yet they are in some sense unoriginate, in respect to time, even though you would disturb simple minds with your quibbles, for God who is the source of time is not subject to time." 

Gregory Nazianzus, Third Theological Oration, 3
 
Collect for St. Michael and All Angels
Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and humans. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord Jesus would grant strength and healing
 
For all missionaries, that they would be kept safe as they confess Christ and that the devil would not succeed in silencing them
 
For President Lawrence Rast and the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that the Lord Jesus would reveal Himself to God's people through their labors
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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