Sixth Period, Second Half



§ 91. The Incarnation.

THE " fulness of times " (TrXrjpwfia r&v icaipwv) has now come. As the world of the creation, so the world of the completion stands in God's eternal consciousness as a finished whole. But as the world of the creation, so also the world of the completion could not otherwise be actualized than by a gradual succession of periods. These times (icaipoi), whose extent, sequence, and contents omniscience determines, with an educational purpose, have now become full. The history of fulfilment itself draws from the given premisses the conclusion, through which all riddles in the formation of the Old Testament history are solved, and both of the convergent lines of the Old Testament proclamation of redemption are brought together. In Jesus the Christ, Jehovah and the Son of David become one. Heaven and earth interpenetrate, that they may unite in Him and be united by Him. For He is, as Isa. iv. prophesies, not only the "Sprout (npx) of THE INCARNATION. 181

Jehovah," who, like a noble twig from heaven, is planted in the earth, but also the "fruit (^B) of the ground," in whom all the growth and bloom of earthly history attains its divinely intended and predicted maturity.

Eemark 1. — It is especially Matthew's Gospel which aims to show that Jesus, who appeared in the fulness of times, is the fuliiller of law and prophecy. The genealogy, Matt. i., divides the prehistory of Jesus Christ into forty-two generations, which form three groups. The first group begins with Abraham, for his election is the beginning of the people of promise, from whom Jesus was to be born. The second group begins with David, for David's elevation as king is the beginning of the kingdom of promise, which in Christ is to become an eternal kingdom of boundless extent. The third group begins with the age after the carrying away into captivity, for with this event the sorrowful time begins in which the kingdom of the promise, blooming again in Zerubbabel, withers, in order that in the fulness of times the ripe fruit may appear instead of the flower of preparation and promise. In reply to the question why Matthew reckons forty-two generations,—that is, three times fourteen,—perhaps Surenhusius (d. 1720) has given the right answer. The name David (~m) amounts, according to the value of its letters, to fourteen. The evangelist, therefore, appears in a secret way to have stamped the name David upon the prehistory in all its three groups.

Eemark 2.—Matthew begins, like another Tora, with the words, " The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." The wonderful name Christ is first added to the proper name Jesus after He had shown Himself to be the divinely consecrated king whom the Old Testament predicted (Acts ii. 26). But the evangelists write the double name Jesus Christ above the portals of their Gospels (Mark i. 1; John i. 17) as an anagram or emblem of the entire following history, similarly as the Tora stamps the name Jehovah Elohim as such an anagram upon the entrance of the sacred history. The name Jesus was in the post-exilic time a common Jewish name: J^ is equivalent to yEnrv, for which reason the Septuagint transcribes the name of Joshua as 'Iyo-ovs. It is characteristic—

(1) That the Lord did not have an exceptional name, for He was a man, and as such a member of a people, a child of an age and of a country.

(2) That this name, however, is the most fitting that He could have had. It signifies Jehovah is salvation, and as the name of the Lord: the bearer and the mediator of salvation. The designation is prepared by such passages as Gen. xlix. 18, Isa. xlix. 6, lii. 10, especially in the Book of Isaiah; even the name of this prophet signifies the salvation of Jehovah, or Jehovah saves. The name Christ united with Jesus, i3 made a proper name by the omission of the article, as Elohim in the designation Jehovah Elohim becomes a proper name in the same way.

Eemark 3.—The incarnation is a mystery, whose


essence we can better determine negatively than positively. With the person of Christ, as the prophets already predicted, God is united in a unique way. It is not only a mystical union (unio mystica), like His union with the prophets and other men of God; not a sacramental union (unio sacramentalis), as His presence was connected with the ark of the covenant; but a personal union (unio personalis), since the mediating Logos, who mirrors the being of God, made a human consciousness in Christ the form of His own.

Eemark 4.—The miracle of the beginning of the life of Jesus, His birth through the Holy Ghost, and the close of His life, His resurrection, stand in a polar reciprocity; and these two miracles, even aside from their historical attestation, are postulates of faith. For if Jesus is the ideal man who is to redeem mankind, who have fallen from their ideal, and is to attain for them the power of a completion corresponding to this ideal, He could neither be born as flesh from flesh, nor dying see corruption.

§ 92. The Herald and his Ordination.

The spirit of prophecy departed from Israel after Malachi. It was in vain in the Maccabean struggles that the people looked anxiously for a faithful prophet whom God should raise up (1 Mace. xiv. 41). Now, however, on the boundary of the old and new covenant, after prophecy had been silent four hundred years, Israel again received in John the Baptist a prophet who was counted worthy of the greatest honour since Samuel, and who was the voice in the wilderness which had been predicted in Isa. xl. 3, a second Elijah, according to the prophecy of Malachi . The baptism of John ensured the expectation of the entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Even Jesus submitted to it. It was His anointing (Acts x. 38) for His calling through the Holy Spirit without measure (Col. i. 19, compare John iii. 34); and as the designated king of the heavenly kingdom received this baptism, it took on the form of an event which far transcended its usual character. The Spirit, which hovered over the waters of the tohu (Gen. i. 2), flew down upon the moistened head of the Son of man, who was to become the mediator of a new creation, and God recognised Him as His beloved Son.

Eemark 1.—While the testimony of Josephus concerning Jesus the Christ1 can only have been written by a Christian, the genuineness of his testimony concerning John the Baptist2 is undoubted. He speaks of John the Baptist with great respect He calls him a good man, who exhorted the Jews to virtue and piety, and made previous purification of the soul through righteousness a condition of his baptism. The people gathered about him, and had great satisfaction in listening to his words. They honoured him so much, that they regarded the victory of Aretas

1 Antiquitates, xviii. 3, 3, compare xx. 9, 1. Eusebius, Historic* ecclesiastica, i. 11.

2 Antiquitates, xviii. 5, 2.


over Herod the tetrarch as the punishment which came upon him on account of his execution of the Baptist.

Eemark 2.—The preaching of the Baptist, which was continued by Jesus, had as its theme, "Eepent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The designation "kingdom of heaven," which corresponds to the old synagogal DW nopo, is exclusively peculiar to the first Gospel. The other Gospels use the expression "kingdom of God" for it, according to which kingdom of heaven is equivalent to a kingdom which has its origin in heaven, and is of a heavenly character. In the Old Testament, the theocratic relation of God to Israel was a type and primary step to this kingdom, which the prophets beheld before partly as a kingdom of the immediate dominion of Jehovah, partly as a kingdom of the dominion of His Anointed. The announcement that the kingdom from above is near aroused the expectation that the victorious, beneficent, glorious dominion of God and His Christ would soon begin. Even John the Baptist himself thought so, for he was as a prophet subject to the law of perspective, and he saw the kingdom which he proclaimed at the summit of its completion, without knowing the intermediate stations and the deep way through the valley to the goal. It is not strange that he refused to baptize Jesus, for it was a riddle to him how the Anointed of the kingdom of heaven could accept this consecration from one who awaited that kingdom.

§ 9 7. The Destruction of the Old Covenant.

According to the Gospel of John (xix. 14), it was the day of preparation for the passover (nt?a riy), upon which Jesus was delivered to the death of a traitor and of a slave on the cross. If, according to the fourth Gospel, the eve of the passover was at the same time the eve of the Sabbath in the passion week, then, according to the Mishna,1 the slaughtering of the evening lamb of the continual burnt-offering (tamid) had already begun at half-past six o'clock, or, as we reckon, at half-past twelve in the afternoon. The evening lamb was then offered at half-past seven (1.30 P.m.), and immediately afterward followed the slaughtering of the passover lambs. Hence at the time when in the temple the blood of the evening lamb and of the passover lambs was flowing, there bled upon the cross the true Tamid, that is, the offering which has everlasting efficacy (Heb. x. 14), and the true Passover, or the sacrifice which makes us inaccessible to the destroyer, and causes us to be spared. In the temple the service of the shadow was still in vogue, but outside, where, in spite of the time of the full moon, the heavens were darkened at midday, the blood, which covered the pure body of the Holy One of God, announced, like the roseate hues of the morning, a new day. This depth of His suffering is the turning-point of both Testaments. The old covenant first dies to 1 Peaachim, sec. v. 1,


rise again as the new, when Jesus dies through the law to the law in order to rise again to an unbounded life.

Eemark.—The beginning and end of the Sabbath and of the feast days were determined by the astronomical time of day; besides, night and day were each reckoned at twelve hours. The nocturnal half of the day of twenty-four hours began in the evening at six o'clock, and the daily half at six in the morning, so that the hour from twelve to one corresponds to our morning hour from six to seven, and the hour from six to seven to our hour from twelve to one in the afternoon; hence seven and a half o'clock, according to the Palestinian reckoning, is equivalent to half-past one o'clock according to our reckoning.