| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 39 - Page 116 of 234 Index | Zoom | |
who is variously named The Image of God, the Firstborn Son, His Shadow. He says in
one place that the Logos is designated "the impressed seal of God". We found that the
"brightness of His glory" looked back to the Tabernacle and its Shekinah, and we shall
therefore not be surprised to find that the figure of something engraven takes us back also
to Old Testament imagery. The apostle refers to the tables of the law as being "written
and engraven in stones", while Exod. 28: 11 and 36 speaks of the engraving of the
stones of the High Priest's ephod, and of his mitre, engraved with the words "Holiness to
In Heb. 1: 3 Christ is set forth as "The character of His Person". The introduction of
the word "Person" here is somewhat of an anachronism, the theological term "person"
was not in use until after the first four centuries of the Christian era, after the Arian
controversy. The Greek word thus translated is hupostasis, and in none of its occurrences
elsewhere can the translation "person" be tolerated. Could we possibly say "Now faith is
the person of things hoped for"? (Heb. 11: 1). Could we imagine the apostle saying "If
we hold the beginning of our person steadfast unto the end" (Heb. 3: 14)? Yet the same
Greek word is so translated.
The English word "substance" is an exact equivalent of the Greek, but is derived from
the Latin. Both hupo and sub mean under; histanai and the Latin stare have similar
meanings, both being capable of the meaning "to stand". The first meaning of the
English word "substance" is not something physically solid as, for example, a brick, and
the statement that faith is anything but a "substance" is only true if this lower meaning of
the word is intended.
A dictionary gives the undermentioned meanings to the word substance in the
"Being; something that exists, something real, not imaginary; something solid, not
empty; that which underlies all outward manifestation; substratum; that which
constitutes anything what it is: nature, real or existing essence; the most important
element in any existence; the characteristics of anything; anything that has a material
form: body, matter, estate, property. We call a noun a substantive because it designates
something that exists, or some object of thought, either material or immaterial."
We have gone to this length of definition because if we merely say that hupostasis
means substance, we use a word of varied meanings. What we mean by substance here is
"that which underlies all outward manifestations". The hidden unknown characteristics
of God are the hupostasis (substance) of which the Son, God manifest in the flesh, is the
Express Image. It is well to remember that the Greek of the New Testament is a language
used by men who thought in Hebrew, or at least had been trained in the Jewish school.
The LXX therefore becomes of great service to us, showing us the Hebrew equivalents
for these Greek words. In Psa. 139: 15 (A.V. numbering) we read:
"My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously
wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."