Hi, Mark. I'm really enjoying this discussion, by the way. I'm not sure where it will go or how much we actually have left to share at this point (on this topic), but I sure do love the grace and patience I see you display toward others in your posts.I'm not disagreeing that Jesus is talking about himself in terms of being Yahweh. I disagree that Jesus is talking about himself in terms of being the man Jesus, the Son of God, who did not pre-exist his birth. Luke 1 makes it very clear that the title of 'the Son of God' explicitly refers to the birth of the man Jesus. Again, I'm not saying Jesus did not pre-exist at all (or even that God did not create 'through' him, which you have provided a valid reason for understanding that Greek word), but that his pre-existence is not the typical perspective of 'second person of multi-person Yahweh' or 'eternal Son' or whatever.
I agree that the man, Jesus, the Son of God, did not pre-exist his birth. What I’m contemplating is the idea that Jesus did pre-exist his birth in the sense of the divine form spoken of by Paul in Philippians 2. Paul tells us that Christ “when he existed in the form of God did not consider equality with God something to grasp onto, but emptied himself by taking the form of a slave, coming in the likeness of humans…”. Christ relinquished the divine form in order to take upon himself the slave form. My interpretation of what Paul describes in Philippians 2 is influenced by my perspective that an infinite God is incomprehensible to finite creatures. Thus, I imagine that God had to define Himself, to place Himself within some sort of parameters, so that we could relate to Him.
According to my teacher, the rabbis also wrestle with this issue. He shared, “When God decided to create something which is not Himself, where does He put it? What space is there (thinking more conceptually than physically) outside of God where God can put His creation? Is God inside of something bigger than Himself? In order to have a place to put His creation, the rabbis say, God contracted Himself so as to first vacate a space in which His creation might exist. (This contraction is called tsimtsum.) It is within that space that God creates beings which are not Himself. The rabbis also speak of a primordial figure called Adam Qadmon, 'primeval human', through whom God created all things, a sort of middle reality between the infinite, formless, undefinable God (called Ain Sof, or 'undifferentiated') and the finite, formed, physical creation." This “middle reality” between the infinite and finite would be the divine form of which Paul speaks, the divine form of which Christ emptied himself.
So, how did Christ come to be preeminent in all things pertaining to the new creation (Col. 1:18)? The same way he came to be preeminent in all things pertaining to the original creation (Col. 1:15). Just as he was “firstborn of the new creation” by being firstborn from the dead (literally 1st in order of the new creation), he was “firstborn of the original creation” by being the firstborn or the beginning of his very own creation. The Word creates and takes upon itself a creation, so as the Occupant of the divine form, Christ Himself is a part – the first part – of the created order. Thus, Scripture affirms both that Christ is the uncreated Creator of all things and at the same time teaches that Christ is the beginning of his own creation.
I believe I understand and agree with you.His pre-existence consisted of the 'word of God', which was not a distinct 'person' from (or within) Yahweh, it was Yahweh ('and the word was God') and his self-revelation ('and the word was with God'). My whole point is that Yahweh was never and is not two, but that he is one.
My thoughts, while trying to be faithful to Scripture, are that Yahweh, as One being, existed as both Father and divine form simultaneously. The Christ emptied himself of the divine form and took on the human form. Yahweh, as One being, existed as both Father and human form simultaneously.
Is there any place where “creation” is used to refer to the new creation without specifying it’s the “new” creation?As to the passage from Revelation, my understanding of that is that the 'beginning of the creation of God' is specifically referring to the new creation. I should say that this is not an understanding I pulled out of thin air, but rather is based on my exegesis of the whole of Revelation 1-3, especially as held in parallel to chapters 21-22.