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Christ in OT





The Angel of the LORD part 1

The Angel of the LORD part 2

The Angel of the LORD part 3

Trinitarian passages in the OT

Some multi-Personal passages in more depth - Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah

Christ in the Psalms

Eleven reasons this stuff matters

Quotes from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus

Quotes from Martin Luther and John Calvin

Quotes from John Owen and Jonathan Edwards

NT's handling of OT part 1

NT's handling of OT part 2



Who is in the burning bush? John Calvin, John Owen and Jonathan Edwards answer...

In response to certain interactions with these posts I then wrote these ten propositions on Trinity, revelation and the Old Testament:


1.  Revelation in Christ is revelation in the distinct Person of the Divine Mediator


2. Our doctrine of God goes awry if we begin without a conscious acknowledgement of the triune interplay.  God’s attributes are a spin-off of the triune life, not the identical CV of each Person. 


3. There is no such thing as pre-supposition-less exegesis. 


4. The trinity is not a proposition to be revealed about the living God.  Trinity is not one more truth among other divine truths.  Trinity is who He is and the dynamic by which all revelation occurs.


5. In its own context and on its own terms the OT must be understood as a dynamic multi-Personal revelation.  OT saints who failed to see this did not ‘partially understand’ the revelation - they misunderstood it.


6. The Angel of the LORD is the pre-incarnate Christ.  His identity as God from God is as clear in the OT as His incarnate identity is in the New.


7.  Psalm 45 is a good example of a Scripture that assumes a multi-Personal doctrine of God even in its own context.


8. The administration of Gentile inclusion is not a ‘model’ of progressive revelation.  The administration of Gentile inclusion is the new thing.


9.  Calvin and Owen believed in divine simplicity.  (I have serious reservations about the doctrine - see here But they managed to avoid the more dangerous aspects of it because they insisted upon Christ-mediated revelation. 


10. The One is not more ultimate than the Three.  Neither is the immanent something different to what we see in the economic. 


38 thoughts on “Christ in OT

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  3. Pitchford

    Hey, I just came across this series. Excellent. I've been arguing for a more Christ-centered reading of the OT for some time now. It seems as if few people really practice such a hermeneutic these days. Lately, I've been doing a series that goes through the OT with the purpose of discovering Christ:

    Feel free to check it out, if you're interested. There are also quite a few other articles on the same theme.


  4. Pitchford

    Hi Glen,

    Someone commented on one of my latest blog posts, and left a link to your series on Christ in the OT. So I followed it, and was very pleased to come across a likeminded Christ-follower. Keep pursuing!

  5. Jacky

    Hey Glen,

    I came across this fella called Andrew Malone when he argued against Blackham's usage of Owen with Christophanies, and he also published an article on Christophanies at

    I sampled some of his own problems with widespread usage of Christophanies:

    "A fifth shortcoming with the first, christophanist solution is that it raises a number of other questions about the nature of God. If the essence of God is invisible, what makes the Son visible? Claiming that his human nature offers visibility to the invisible both flirts with heresy and fails to explain the pre-incarnate appearances with which we are concerned. We might also note that the Spirit can be physically manifest, as at Jesus’ baptism and at Pentecost. Why is the Father alone constrained to remain unseen? And why is it that the Father can interact with creation in an audible manner (at Jesus’ baptism, at the transfiguration, and in John 12:28) but not in a visible one? Moreover, if we promote invisibility to be an essential attribute of deity, what heresies do we induce if we allow the Son (or Spirit) to divest himself of it?

    [These questions are not new. Many of them are raised, along with some of the following solutions, by Augustine in Book 2 of De Trinitate.]"

    Care to respond? He plays with the verse on God being unseen, and says that it doesn't necessarily have to do with visibility... but perhaps more fitting to refer to the verse as that of 'accessibility'.

  6. Pete Myers

    Hi Glen,

    I've just started blogging on this issue too. I'm afraid to say that I think we're coming from different angles!

    I agree with Jacky, that, this certainly isn't a new issue. Unfortunately I feel that lots of the arguments that are floating around about this don't seem to really address what classical Reformed theology is actually saying about both the Doctrine of God, and Biblical Theology. I also feel that's because lots of this stuff has been popularised through preaching, but there's precious little in print, or academic papers - so it isn't the right sort of channels for peer review.

    I've just spent the day listening Mike Reeves on some of this stuff - it's slightly bizarre that listening to a set of mp3's is the only way to really engage properly with what people are saying, rather than reading a book!

    Can I recommend having a look at parts 1-2 of the second Volume of Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics?

    And, if you're interested, I have one post so far on this - on the use of Elohim and Yahweh in the contemporary debate:

    Yours in Christ

  7. glenscriv

    Hi Pete,
    Glad we've crossed paths. (How did that happen btw?)

    I've left a response at your blog.

    If you want good reformed stuff in print - what about Jonathan Edwards' History of Redemption? If you want something up to date, Steve Levy has written this with Paul Blackham:

    It's out in November.

    You're right to link doctrine of God issues with biblical theology. It's precisely because God *is* the Father revealed in the Son and by the Spirit and no other that I hold the views I do.

    Look forward to further interactions if you like.
    (btw I couldn't figure out how to sign up to the comments thread on your blog-post so if I don't respond to you for a while it's cos I haven't been notified. Give me an e-nudge or something).

    grace and peace,


  8. glenscriv

    Hi Jacky,

    Yes I have come across Andrew Malone before. His stuff on Owen seemed to fall into this trap. His arguments tended to run like this:

    * Owen believed in progression of clarity in revelation
    * Therefore he didn't think OT saints had to clearly believe in the distinct Person of the Son.

    The first statement is undoubtedly true. But the question is - Did Owen believe in a progression *to* Christ or a progression *from* Christ. Everything Owen writes in Christologia on the subject of the OT and everything he writes in 'Appearances of the Son of God under the OT' says that they trusted in the distinct Person of the Son - and without this they would be entirely lost.

    So I find Malone completely unconvincing on Owen.

    As to whether John 1:18 means physical sight or not...

    Well yes it probably does! (cf Ex 33-34)

    And even if it didn't - the point is still that all access to the Father HAS TO BE MEDIATED BY THE SON. Malone has not got himself off the hook by wondering whether it's an accessibility rather than visibility issue. The point remains - all access to the Father in all ages must be through the Son.

    I'm sure he's a good guy and I'm sure we could do mission together, but what I've read of Malone has frustrated me quite a bit.

  9. Pete Myers


    "The first statement is undoubtedly true. But the question is - Did Owen believe in a progression *to* Christ or a progression *from* Christ. Everything Owen writes in Christologia on the subject of the OT and everything he writes in ‘Appearances of the Son of God under the OT’ says that they trusted in the distinct Person of the Son - and without this they would be entirely lost."

    This progression *to* Christ or *from* Christ stuff really is category confusion I think.

    Your reading of Owen is, I feel, lob-sided. Owen often makes statements that seem to say more than he means, and on any subject the full scope of his reasoning must be taken into consideration, or we will misinterpret him as being pretty inconsistent.

    Matthew McMahon demonstrates how that can be the case with Owen on the issue of Covenant Theology here:

    Your comment that Owen in one place "says that [the OT saints] trusted in the distinct Person of the Son - and without this they would be entirely lost." Does not *have* to be understood from that work, and we're pushed away from understanding him in that way in the way that Malone suggests.

    Even just placing Owen in his context tempers this slightly... if Owen really had the radical understanding of Christ in the Old Testament that you do, then why didn't Owen "correct" the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith... he was a generation after the Westminster Divines, and knew lots of them.

    In fact, if Owen was so close to you theologically, then why did he allow the Savoy Declaration (which he had a big hand in), to end up saying lots about the divine nature before it even got to God as Trinity ( - just like Augustine, the WCF, Bavinck (and me).

    If Owen had your view of the Trinity, then why didn't he start with the Three, and then reason/argue from them to the divine nature in totality? Would you even agree with chapter 2 of the Savoy Declaration?

    Or to push this even further Glen... if Calvin, Owen, and the Reformed Confessions (to which Owen, most certainly, subscribed) expound your position - then how do you explain why so many have moved away from Owen on this - and all largely in the same direction - to mean that we now need correcting?

  10. glenscriv

    Hi Pete,

    Very sorry - you're last comment has been in spam for the last week or so. Only just found it.

    Just to say - I don't think 'progression to' rather than 'progression from' is a category confusion on my part. Precisely the opposite. My point is that those two things *are* separate categories and are being confused by Malone.

    Nowhere that I've read does Malone actually deal with the blatant statements of Owen on conscious faith in the distinct Person of the Son. Instead he retreats to other passages about progression. This is the confusion. Progression does not equal ignorance of the Son.

    As for Owen and his theological method as regards trinity:

    a) I think that's slightly different - I only brought Owen into discussion regarding conscious faith in the Son. I know those two things are related but it's just worth flagging up that I'm not trying to get Owen to do *all* my dirty work.

    b) I just don't know enough. I've read Christologia, Meditations on the Glory of Christ and Communion with God. And I certainly found the latter to have a refreshing focus on enjoying the distinct Persons in their distinct operations. I remember John Piper commenting on this book and using it as a prime example of why we should read dead theologians since, as Piper said referring to the enjoyment of the distinct Persons, 'No-one speaks like that anymore.'

    I think there has been a move away from this particular aspect of trinitarian theology - a proper appreciation of Threeness. I know that when others from my puritans class at college read Communion with God they were taken aback (but greatly encouraged) by this focus on particularity that they simply hadn't encountered anywhere else.

    Having said that, I also know that much of the simplicity teaching of the puritans (including Owen) would (and probably did) send the tradition in a slightly different direction. But it seems to me that both sides of this particular discussion are assuming an inconsistent Owen (case in point - Malone's handling of the faith in the Son passages!)

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  22. Ephrem Hagos

    Except for a difference in scope, "a flame coming from the middle of a bush on fire but not burning up" for one man (Moses) and "Christ's death on the cross" for the whole world are two identical portrayals of the living God.

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