Paul Dean Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
- 2005 Jun 15
"A publisher is touting a new edition of the Gospels that identifies Christ as a woman named Judith Christ of Nazareth. LBI Institute says its version Judith Christ of Nazareth, The Gospels of the Bible, Corrected to Reflect that Christ Was a Woman, Extracted from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, takes Thomas Jefferson's edited Gospel one step further by "correcting" the gender of Christ and God...'This long-awaited revised text of the Gospels makes the moral message of Christ more accessible to many, and more illuminating to all,' says Billie Shakespeare, vice president for the publisher, in a statement. 'It is empowering. We published this new Bible to acknowledge the rise of women in society.'"
Much could be said in response to this false version of Scripture with reference to the fact that God has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ. Much could be said regarding the fact that Christ is in fact the God-man and not the God-woman. Not only is this version false, but it is an insult to women everywhere as it turns the true and living God who loves unconditionally and who saves mercifully into a no-god who exudes prejudice and hatred and has no power to save anyone.
At the same time, and far worse, is the rebellion displayed in this attempt to accommodate radical feminists. An anti-God culture will stop at nothing to proclaim its own autonomy and push its self-centered agenda. The publishers are bold in saying that they "published this new Bible to acknowledge the rise of women in society." They did not publish this work for the sake of truth or accuracy, but for the sake of women. In that regard, among others, they disavow the true and living God.
In actuality, what is at stake here is the supremacy of Christ in terms of revelation and rule. In Col. 1:15, Paul begins to expand upon who Christ is and moves to highlight His supremacy and preeminence over all things. He begins by saying that Christ is the One "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." At least three points should be made here.
First, Christ "is the image of the invisible God." The word translated "image" is the word we transliterate "icon." It refers to the fact that Christ is the exact representation of God in terms of who He is, that is, in the very essence of His being. He is the "stamp" of God." He is God made visible. The second person of the Godhead and the first person of the Godhead are of the same being and substance. Paul uses the same word when referring to Christ in 2 Cor. 4:4. The writer to the Hebrews makes the same point in a different way referring to Christ as ". . . the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power. . . (Heb. 1:3)." Paul himself conveys the same sentiment to the Philippians when he says that Christ, "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Ph. 2:6)."
Second, Christ is the image of "the invisible God." The Lord Jesus Himself said that "God is Spirit. . . (Jn. 4:24)." Jesus affirmed that no one had seen the Father except Himself, because He was "of the Father (Jn. 6:46)." Moreover, in Jn. 10:30, Jesus said, "I and the Father are One." Later He said ". . . if you've seen me, you've seen the Father (Jn. 14:9)." The point is that Christ is the One who has made the invisible God visible. He is God in the flesh. He is the God-man. As a side issue, the historical fact of Jesus of Nazareth being a male is not in dispute by anyone.
Third, Christ is referred to as the "firstborn of every creature." The word "firstborn" does not refer to birth order. Rather, the word refers to that which is supreme or preeminent. Christ has the preeminence over all creatures and indeed creation itself. He is in the first position in terms of glory and honor. All things exist for Christ, by Christ, and to Christ. Paul here refutes Gnostic philosophy (even though full-blown Gnosticism had not yet been developed) which held that Christ was before all creation, but indeed part of creation. Paul says that Christ is the Creator (v. 16) and as such has supremacy over creation. In Rom. 11:36, Paul says, "for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever." To refer to Jesus Christ as Judith is to detract from and indeed destroy His glory.
The new version of the gospels strays far from glorifying the supreme Christ. "The new version, according to the publisher, revises familiar stories, transforming the 'Prodigal Son' into the 'Prodigal Daughter' and the 'Lord's Prayer' into the 'Lady's Prayer.'" This revision is nothing more than the creature seeking to usurp authority over the Creator. In Co. 1:16, Paul expands upon the concept of Christ's supremacy over creation. He affirms, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." He states explicitly that all things were created by Christ. As noted, Paul affirmed the same truth in Rom. 11:36. The same truth is affirmed by John. With reference to Christ he says, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (Jn. 1:3)." Christ is referred to as the Creator of all things in Eph. 3:9, 1 Cor. 8:6, and Heb. 1:2.
The LBI Institute's translation is nothing more than that dynamic against which the Scriptures warn. False teachers creep into the church on many fronts. The church must not waver but stand upon the faith once for all delivered to the saints. With regard to false teachers, their teaching may be different in different contexts, but the principles of biblical truth and response remain the same.
As in many of the New Testament churches, the Colossian church had been infiltrated with false teachers. Differing teachers focused on different things. Some of those were focused on angels and/or demons and their power. Some looked to angels for some type of spiritual good and some looked to demons with great fear. Perhaps even some gave some kind of worship to each. Paul's point with this high Christology, that is, his exaltation of Christ over all things, is to say that nothing is greater than Christ. Nothing has more power than Him. He is the Creator. Angels and demons are mere creatures. They may have some sort of power and authority. Angels are ministering spirits, yet, they minister at the behest of Christ. Demons have power and authority of some kind, yet it is a derived power and authority. They can do nothing apart from Christ. Paul is saying that it is a waste of time to focus on these things. Our focus must be on Christ. He alone is supreme. It doesn't matter if something is in heaven or on the earth. It doesn't matter if something is visible, that is physical, or invisible, that is spiritual. It doesn't matter what we are talking about, Christ alone is supreme. All things were created by Him and for Him.
Some have speculated Paul's mentioning of "thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers," refers to some sort of hierarchical structure within the angelic or demonic world. We have no right to read into the text things that are not there. To come up with a detailed ranking system goes beyond that which has been revealed. At most, we might be able to say that "thrones and dominions" refers to spirits that dwell close to God's throne, and "principalities or powers" refers to those spirits that dwell elsewhere. It is also perfectly appropriate to see earthly thrones and/or governments in view. Whatever authority we see, whether it be angelic, demonic, or Caesar, Christ is supreme and worship and devotion belong to Him alone.
In v. 17, Paul adds, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." The phrase "He is before all things" refers to His prior existence. He is God and has always been. He has always existed. There has never been a time in which the Son of God did not exist. He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He is God supreme. At the same time, in keeping with the immediate context, the phrase refers to Christ's supremacy over all things. In 2:10, Christ is referred to as the Head of all principality and power. To the Ephesians Paul wrote in regard to Christ that He is, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:21)." Peter declared that Christ ". . . is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him (1 Pet. 3:22)."
Paul also says that by Christ, "all things consist." Paul refers to the fact that all things are held together by Christ. In Heb. 1:3, Christ "upholds all things by the word of His power." If Christ were to remove His sustaining power from the created realm, everything would literally fly apart. Scientists can't explain what holds all things together. Based upon known natural law, things should even now fly apart. Things are held together by what they call strong nuclear force, even though they don't know what that is or how it works. The Scriptures affirm that it is Christ. He is the sustainer of all things.
All things continue and cohere in Him. "There is, accordingly, unity and purpose in all of nature and history. The world is not a chaos but a cosmos. It is an orderly universe, a system (Hendrickson)." In nature, there is unity, order, adaptation, and suitability. God has made each creature fit for his particular environment. Indeed the heavens declare the glory of God. In history, though from one perspective it may seem chaotic, yet, in it all is the guiding hand of God's providence. History is steadily moving toward God's predetermined goal in perfect beat. When we look at the Oriental rug from the bottom, the threads go in every direction and form no aesthetically pleasing picture. Yet, the master weaver has formed that beautiful picture on the other side. We may not always see the beauty in God's creation or providence, yet Christ, the Master Weaver does all things perfectly. In Him all things consist.
It's a sad day when publishers twist the Scriptures at the expense of souls for their own purposes. In the LBI translation, "A resurrection passage from Matthew 28 states: 1 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 5 But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Judith who was crucified.’ 6 ‘She is not here; for She is risen.' The book's foreword says, 'The Jefferson Bible is faithfully followed by the present book, with the corrections in the name and gender of Christ, the gender of God, and some of the parables.'"
What should the church do? She should simply remember that Christ is supreme. In v. 18, Paul moves to make specific application to the church in terms of Christ's relationship to her. He affirms, "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." Not only is Christ supreme in and over creation, He is supreme in and over the church. The church is likened to a body of which Christ is the Head. He is the leader, the center, the guide, the power, etc. He is Lord over the church. He is in authority. The church is the body and does what the Head tells it to do. The church follows Christ.
Christ is the beginning, or firstborn from the dead. Christ is the beginning of all things. He is the originator of all things and He is in the position of supremacy regarding all things. He is the originator of and in first position over the church.
Christ is the firstborn from the dead. To say the He is the firstborn from the dead does not mean that He was the first born in the sense that He was created. Nor does Paul mean that Christ was the first to be raised from the dead. He does mean three things however. First, Christ is the position of supremacy or preeminence as we have already said. The term firstborn has reference to birthright or preeminence. Second, Christ is the first to rise from the dead and never die again. He holds the power of life and death. Third, He is the originator of life. Again, note that Paul says Christ is such that He may have the preeminence. He alone deserves glory, honor, power, majesty, adoration, and worship. Let us not worship women, or men, for that matter. Let us not worship a political agenda. Rather, let us worship the Supreme Christ.