Friday, May 11, 2007

An argument for effectual atonement?

Here is a recent essay on the ways in which that punishment Christ bore on the cross was the same as that deserved by sinners, and the ways in which it differed.

In what ways was the punishment borne by Christ on the cross identical with the punishment deserved by sinners? In what ways did it differ?


John Owen’s The Death of Death makes a comprehensive argument for effectual atonement.[1] There have been attempts since its publication to refute “Owen’s proof that [effectual atonement] is part of the uniform biblical presentation of redemption, clearly taught in plain text after plain text. [But] nobody has done that yet.”[2] One such attempt[3] was made by Richard Baxter but in such a way as one might not immediately expect. Baxter critiqued Owen’s work in an appendix of his Aphorisms of Justification by tackling a seemingly less central claim in The Death of Death that “the payment made by Christ for us (by the payment of the debt of sin understand, by analogy, the undergoing of the punishment due unto it) was solutio ejusdem, or of the same thing directly which was in the obligation.”[4] As we proceed we will discuss the contours of this debate, considering the relevant biblical material, the systematic arguments made by both parties, and the exact positions of both Baxter, Grotius and Owen regarding this issue.[5] This discussion will lead us to discover the ways (if any) in which the punishment borne by Christ on the cross was identical with the punishment deserved by sinners and the ways (if any) in which it differed.


What we need to remember here is that Owen’s chief argument in The Death of Death is for effectual atonement, while Baxter’s Amyraldianism means he holds to a universal view of the atonement. At its deepest level then Baxter is trying to refute Owen’s doctrine of effectual atonement. [6]

If Owen can maintain that Christ suffered “the same thing directly which was in the obligation”[7] made to sinners then a key argument for effectual atonement would be upheld. For if Christ has paid everything in the obligation then not one ounce of God’s wrath remains on sinful humans, and of course if Christ made this atonement for all it follows that not one ounce of God’s wrath remains on any sinful humans, which the bible plainly denies.[8] But if Christ has died only for the elect, then not one ounce of God’s wrath remains on them only, and there is still every need for the Biblical picture of hell for those who don’t believe.

Whereas, if Baxter can dismantle Owen’s position and can prove that Christ paid: “not the very same that is in the obligation.”[9] Then he can also maintain a position of universal redemption, for God’s wrath has not been fully exhausted and there is still room for hell.

We turn now to Baxter’s and Grotius’[10] use of scripture to defend the argument that Christ paid “not the very same that is in the obligation,”[11] when he was on the cross. We begin in Genesis 2:17.[12] The argument runs that in the obligation here we read “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”[13] In other words not only is the punishment here death but a death which falls on the one who sins.[14] So when Owen says that according to its nature Christ paid an identical obligation with the one deserved by sinners, he is wrong because: “if the same in the obligation be paid [which Owen maintains] … then every sinner must die himself; for that is. … the very thing threatened … the law threatened not Christ but us.”[15]

In The Death of Christ[16] Owen works through the Biblical material which he claims support his position. Firstly, Owen cites Romans 8:32a declaring that it expressly reveals “the translation of punishment in respect of the subjects suffering it … [but does not speak] one word of the change of the kind of punishment.”[17] One leading evangelical scholar points out Romans 8:32a: “is picked up from the LXX Isa. 53, where it is used three times to describe the ‘handing over’ of the suffering servant.”[18] This suffering servant would be handed over exactly in our place, or “pierced for our transgressions”[19] as Isaiah 53 maintains, and not pierced for anything less.

Secondly Owen cites Galatians 3:13, noting that we all were under the curse of the law but that it was this very curse which “was undergone by the Lord Christ,”[20] and again not anything less or different. It may be argued in response that this is not true for all humanity but only for those “who rely on works of the law” as only they “are under a curse.”[21] However, Galatians 3:10 also affirms that everyone is cursed who “does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them,” a symptom which is universal.[22] So all are under a curse, and that very curse is what Christ has borne. This means that one writer can faithfully translate Galatians 3:13 as “God made Christ a cursed one for our sake,”[23] exactly what we were.[24]

Thirdly, Owen points out that in Romans 8:3 we see “where God condemneth sin, there he condemns it in that very punishment which is due unto it in the sinner.”[25] This is strongly supported by the context,[26] the removal of condemnation from the sinner being because that condemnation was exacted in Jesus’ flesh.[27] This is further supported in that it was the sin of the believer which was condemned in Jesus’ flesh so must have been the same condemnation, it would be unjust for God to punish the same sin in a different way.[28]

Fourthly Owen argues that because Christ died[29] he bore the same punishment deserved by sinners, for “the whole penalty for sin is death, Gen. ii. 17.”[30]

Fifthly, Owen proposes that when our sins were laid on Jesus[31] and when he was made sin for us,[32] in that act “lay the very punishment of our sin.”[33] Such an argument from these verses alone seems hard to come by, but the context of Isaiah 53 links, like Owen does, the imputation of our sin onto Christ, Christ suffering the punishment due to that sin.[34] Owen’s arguments are convincing.

Finally Owen refers us to the copious references in the New Testament which express Christ’s agonies in his passion, and Owen asks us to “see if they do not plainly hold out the utmost that ever was threatened to sin.”[35] Here Baxter would have no problems in responding, of course Christ’s death had to be as horrific a torture as the Bible describes, for Christ was establishing the new covenant and Baxter had learnt that “a testament [covenant] is established by blood.”[36]


Like any good work from the Puritans this debate was highly systematic and both sides repeatedly drew from “simple truths of logic.”[37] We will firstly critique the arguments from Baxter and Grotius which are claimed to be formulated by reading “simple truths of logic”[38] from clear scriptural propositions, [39] by considering Owen’s responses.

1. We have seen how Baxter and Grotius maintain their position from Genesis 2:17, they do so to the extent that Baxter “maintain[s solutio ejusdem] to be the offender’s own undergoing the penalty of the law.”[40] Such a position Owen tackles by making a distinction between “the constitution of the penalty itself to be undergone,”[41] and the “terminating of this penalty upon the person offending.”[42] On the latter of these Owen had already written two years previously that “God is … the only Lawgiver, who alone had power so far to relax his own law as to have the name of a surety put into the obligation.”[43] Because it is God’s “own law” he “had power so far to relax” it. And such a relaxation of the law in the area of the one suffering still ensures “the penalty itself in reference to its constitution [is] established.”[44]

2. The next argument which Baxter cites from Grotius to support his position is concerning the grace of God. We know from the Scriptures that God is gracious,[45] and Grotius believes that if this God has demanded an identical punishment be borne by Christ which is deserved by sinners we “leaveth no room for pardon.”[46] On this logic Baxter often talks about the cross as needing “God’s gracious acceptance”[47] a grace we see as he “accept[s] a refusable payment.”[48]

Owen has two points to make here; firstly he argues that his position does not nullify the grace of God because it was gracious of God to send his only Son for us in the first place. God translated: “the punishment from the principle debtor to the surety, which of his own free grace he himself had given and bestowed on the debtor.”[49] The second point Owen wants to make here is that God putting forward any payment in the sinners stead is gracious:

“Neither idem [an identical payment] nor tantundem [a different payment] is here satisfactory, but by virtue of divine constitution … this gracious acceptance is not an accepting of that which is less in value than what is in the obligation, but a free constitution appointing another thing to the end, which before was not appointed.”[50]

So even for God to accept Christ bearing an identical punishment as that deserved by sinners would be a “gracious acceptance … [and] a free constitution”[51]

3. The next argument from Baxter is that the punishment borne by Christ on the cross was not identical with that deserved by sinners because: “Christ suffered not the loss of God’s love, nor his image and graces, nor eternity of torment.”[52] Unfortunately for us Owen immediately replies by pointing out that: “Christ’s suffering not the loss of God’s love, etc. … have been answered near a thousand times already … so I shall not farther trouble any therewith.”[53] However at other points in The Death of Christ[54] Owen does take up one of the charges made by Baxter, namely that Christ did not suffer the “eternity of torment”[55] (which the Bible teaches is deserved by sinners[56]), so did not suffer an identical punishment as the one deserved by sinners.

Firstly, Owen agrees that Christ did not suffer punishment forever, because eternal death’s “attendancies, as duration and the like … [Christ] could not undergo.”[57] But Owen maintains that this does not jeopardise his position that “the payment made by Christ for us … [was] the same thing directly which was in the obligation,”[58] as he argues that “eternal death may be considered two ways, either as such in potentia, and in its own nature, or as actually, so our Saviour underwent it … in the first sense.”[59] Holding this distinction, Owen can claim that Jesus Christ really did suffer “the pains of hell,”[60] even though he did not “actually” suffer eternal death which is deserved by sinners. And if one is still thinking that there is a huge gulf between Christ’s six hours on the cross and the sinner’s suffering forever in hell, Owen also points out that although Christ only suffers eternal death in potentia, according to its nature, his “dignity of person … [makes it] equipotent to the”[61] “actual” eternal death.

Owen’s systematic argument, which we will critique with Baxter’s response, is that Christ’s death truly and fully delivered the elect from the curse, and so on the cross Christ must have suffered an identical punishment with that deserved by sinners: “by death [Christ] did deliver us from death, and that actually … He did actually, or ipso facto, deliver us from the curse, by being made a curse for us … even the whole obligation, was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross.”[62] Owen later adds that if Christ did not deliver us by his death absolutely “we shall have no benefit by his death but upon the performance of a condition, which himself by that death of his did not absolutely procure.”[63] A position Owen asserts is not biblical for “faith, which is this condition, is itself procured by the death of Christ for them for whom he died.”[64]

Baxter later replies that Owen is here falling into the Hyper-Calvinist error which claims pre-faith justification for the elect. But Owen has already noted that “all for whom [Christ died] … have all the fruits of his death in actual right, though not in actual possession.”[65] And anyone who would claim that the believer does not have the fruits of Christ’s death in actual right before they believe, has to maintain “a mystery of Vorstian theology; God changing his eternal purposes! … [Such] a mutable god is of the dunghill.”[66] Owen’s refutations of Baxter, and his own argument’s, are conclusive.


I have mentioned that Baxter and Grotius do not think Jesus bore the same punishment as that which was deserved by sinners but bore one which was graciously accepted by God the creditor. However, Baxter is at pains to show in Aphorisms of Justification that this in no way means he thinks Christ paid any less than what was owed by sinners: “[God’s gracious acceptance] is … his accepting a refusable payment, which though equal in value yet he may choose to accept according to the tenor of the obligation.”[68] The main sense in which Baxter does not think the payment is the same is found in that it does not procure “its end ipso facto, delivering the debtor without the intervention of a new concession or contract of the creditor.”[69] It seems that by “new concession or contract of the creditor” Baxter is referring to God graciously “accepting a refusable payment.”[70] However this view of the cross not delivering the debtor ipso facto, as we have seen, stands against Scripture.[71]

Baxter then moves on to propose that Owen does not in fact think Christ paid exactly what was in the obligation of the law! He thinks Owen does not believe what he defends so vigorously, namely that God required “the debt at [Christ’s] hand to the utmost farthing.”[72] Baxter expresses this when he states the following correct proposition: “[Owen] confesses that the sureties name was not in the obligation; and that God relaxed the law to put it in,”[73] and then makes this inference from it: “Now the main business that Grotius … drives at, is but to prove this relaxation of the Law, and the non-execution of it on the offenders threatened,”[74] so Baxter claims Owen is actually arguing the same point he and Grotius are arguing, he says Owen “giveth up the cause at last, and saith as Grotius.”[75]

Owen replies by taking Baxter’s key phrase here, on which this particular argument rests, and stating: “This paralogism, ‘If the law be executed, then not relaxed,’ … ariseth merely from a non-consideration of the nature of contradictories.”[76] In other words this argument of illogical reasoning arises from Baxter’s non-realisation that a law can be fully executed even when it is relaxed in one sense. This Owen has maintained throughout by stating the law was only relaxed in terms of “the terminating of [the] penalty upon the person offending.”[77] Hence it follows that Owen does not end by agreeing with Baxter and his picture of Grotius, who claim Christ paid “not the very same that is in the obligation”[78] because the obligation in the law was not relaxed in terms of “the penalty itself to be undergone.”[79]

A final nail in the coffin against Baxter’s arguments comes when we turn to consider the real boundaries of Grotius’ position. Grotius apparently holds that Christ’s payment made to God on the cross was not the same payment as that owed by sinners, but was graciously accepted by God the creditor. However, this is a misreading of Grotius who when he does deny:

“that the performance by Jesus was the same as the punishment deserved by sinners … he explains the difference purely in terms of the fact that Jesus was not the one intended for punishment but was the one who endured it. In other words, he defines the difference solely by reference to the person punished, not to the measure of punishment itself.”[80]

This puts Grotius squarely on the side with Owen who, as we saw in the very last point, made this exact distinction.

One final way in which Baxter tries to blur the boundaries between his position and Owen’s comes in response to Owen’s description of the cross as a: “compensation.”[81] Baxter comments “[Owen] saith, it was a full valuable compensation, (therefore not the same.)”[82] As Baxter starts playing with Owen’s words like this we begin to understand why Owen would go on to make comments in his reply like: much of Baxter’s arguments “do lie rather against words than things, expressions than opinions, ways of delivering things than doctrines themselves.”[83]


So Owen successfully maintains that the punishment borne by Christ on the cross was identical with the punishment deserved by sinners, in what he calls “weight and pressure”[84] although not “in all accidents of duration and the like.”[85] From this position Owen can describe the cross as Christ “undergoing that same punishment which, by reason of the obligation that was upon [sinners], they themselves were bound to undergo.”[86] Whereas Baxter unsuccessfully maintains Christ bore a different punishment on the cross with that deserved by sinners in that it did not procure its end “ipso facto, delivering the debtor.”[87] Baxter cites Grotius in support of him but we have seen how this is not acceptable, Grotius “merely … emphasize[s] the Pauline theme of public demonstration ... [and does not] replace a retributive account of punishment.”[88] Such a retributive account of punishment which Owen and Grotius held has been seen to be biblical and thus stands as a valid argument in support of effectual atonement: “If the full debt of all be paid to the utmost extent of the obligation, how comes it to pass that so many are shut up in prison to eternity, never freed from their debts?”[89] Well Christ must only have made satisfaction for those who are not shut up in prison to eternity, the elect.

[1] Effectual atonement is the ‘L’ in Calvinism’s TULIP, and is the belief that “Christ died with the intention of procuring salvation only for the elect: those whom God had determined from eternity past to save.” Steve Jeffrey, et. al. Pierced for our Transgressions (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007), 269.
[2] J.I. Packer, A Quest For Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1990), 136.
[3] Which, to be fair to Baxter, must have been assumed by him to refute Owen’s work else Baxter would not have maintained his Amyraldian position throughout his life.
[4] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (vol. 10 of The Works of John Owen; ed. William H. Goold; 1850-53; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 268.
[5] The reason we approach the material in this order will become obvious when we get to the section titled “Defining the Boundaries” on page 8 as there is an unexpected twist in one of the fore-mentioned theologians positions.
[6] I claim this is the reason for Baxter tackling this aspect of Owens The Death of Death for this aspect is exactly what Owen uses to challenge the Amyraldian position in his treatise: “First, If the full debt of all be paid to the utmost extent of the obligation, how comes it to pass that so many are shut up in prison to eternity, never freed from their debts? Secondly, If the Lord, as a just creditor, ought to cancel all obligations and surcease all law suits against such as have all their debts paid, whence is it that his wrath smokes against some to all eternity? Let none tell me it is because they walk not worthy of the benefit bestowed; for that not walking worthy is part of the debt which is fully paid, for … the debt so paid is all our sins. Thirdly, Is it probable that God calls any to a second payment, and requires satisfaction of them for whom, by his own acknowledgment, Christ hath made that which is full and sufficient? Hath he an after-reckoning that he thought not of? For, what was before him he spared him not … Fourthly, How comes it that God never gives a discharge to innumerable souls, thought their debts be paid? Fifthly, Whence is it that any one soul lives and dies under the condemning power of the law, never released, if that be fully satisfied on his behalf, so as it had been all one as if he had done whatsoever it could require? Let them that can reconcile these things.” Owen, Death of Death, 273.
[7] Owen, Death of Death, 268, my italics.
[8] Matt. 7:13; Mark 9:47-48; 2 Thess. 1:7b-9; Rev. 14:11; 19:3; 21:8 etc.
[9] Richard Baxter, Aphorisms of Justification: With Their Explication (Printed by Abraham Brown; 1655; repr., PuRe, 2006), 301, my italics.
[10] Baxter continually cites Grotius to support his own position that Christ did not pay the say in the obligation as that which was deserved by sinners and that is why I join them together here.
[11] Richard Baxter, Aphorisms, 301, my italics.
[12] This is actually an argument made by Grotius which Baxter says Owen “overlooked.” John Owen, The Death of Christ (vol. 10 of The Works of John Owen; ed. William H. Goold; 1850-53; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 443.
[13] Genesis 2:17, my italics.
[14] The same argument is made from Deuteronomy 27:26a “Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.” Here it is not only the curse threatened but also the coming of the curse on the one “who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.”
[15] Baxter is here paraphrasing Grotius in Aphorisms, 303, my italics.
[16] Owen, Death of Christ, 448-449.
[17] Owen, Death of Christ, 448.
[18] Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmanns, 1996), 540 n.19. It must be noted though that Moo does not hold an effectual atonement reading of Romans 8:32: “note…that the text does not say ‘only for all you believers.’” Nevertheless his reading does support Owen’s in that Moo would agree that it expressly reveals “the translation of punishment in respect of the subjects suffering it.”
[19] Isaiah 53:5.
[20] Owen, Death of Christ, 448.
[21] Galatians 3:10.
[22] Romans 3:20.
[23] Joachim Jeremias in John Stott, The Cross of Christ, (Leicester: IVP, 1986 repr.,2003), 345.
[24] Galatians 3:10.
[25] Owen, Death of Christ, 448, italics mine.
[26] “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1, my italics.
[27] Romans 8:3.
[28] Luke 12:47-48a tells us that God is just so he punishes different sins in different ways, if this is so it surely follows that in his justice he punishes the same sins in the same ways.
[29] Hebrews 2:9.
[30] Owen, Death of Christ, 448. We will discuss later the arguments he uses here for a difference in the suffering, but this difference does not in any way effect the nature of the eternal death which “our Saviour underwent.”
[31] Isaiah 53:6.
[32] 2 Corinthians 5:21.
[33] Owen, Death of Christ, 448.
[34] “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities … the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all … he shall bear their iniquities … he bore the sin of many.” Isaiah 53:5, 6, 11, 12, my italics.
[35] Owen, Death of Christ, 448. He goes on to say here that: “[Christ’s] cries out of the deep … do all make out that the bitterness of the death due to sin was fully upon his soul”
[36] Richard Sibbes in J.I.Packer, The Redemption and Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter (Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 185. In support of this we of course turn to Luke 22:20.
[37] Garry J. Williams, From Salvation History to Systematic Soteriology: A Lecture (Given at Oak Hill College, 2007 as part of CD4/5.3 Doctrine of Salvation), 11.
[38] Williams, Salvation History, 11.
[39] There are three arguments.
[40] Owen, Death of Christ, 440. Solutio ejusdem we saw was Owen’s term to explain his position that Christ suffered the same penalty in our place. See “Introduction” on page 1.
[41] Owen, Death of Christ, 443.
[42] Owen, Death of Christ, 443.
[43] Owen, Death of Death, 270.
[44] Owen, Death of Christ, 443.
[45] 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 1:3; 1 Peter 5:10.
[46] Baxter, Aphorisms, 303.
[47] Baxter cited in Owen, Death of Christ, 437, 441 etc.
[48] Baxter, Aphorisms, 302.
[49] Owen, Death of Death, 270, my italics. On this point Owen also states: “the satisfaction of Christ, by the payment of the same thing that was required in the obligation, is no way prejudicial to that free, gracious condonation of sin so often mentioned. God’s gracious pardoning of sin compriseth the whole dispensation of grace towards us in Christ.” Owen, Death of Death, 268.
[50] Owen, Death of Christ, 441, author’s italics.
[51] Owen, Death of Christ, 441.
[52] Baxter, Aphorisms, 303.
[53] Owen, Death of Christ, 443. And they have been answered “near a thousand times already … by ‘no ordinary divines’ neither.”
[54] And in his work of two years previously Death of Death.
[55] Baxter, Aphorisms, 303, my italics.
[56] “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” Mark 9:48, italics added. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction” 2 Thessalonians 2:9, italics added. “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” Revelation 14:11, italics added.
[57] Owen, Death of Christ, 448. Referencing Psalm 16:8-11 and Acts 2:24-28 and elsewhere explicitly stating: “it was impossible that he should be detained by death.” Owen, The Death of Death, 270.
[58] John Owen, Death of Death, 268.
[59] Owen, The Death of Christ, 448, author’s italics. Owen here refers the reader to Psalm 22:1; 116:3; Luke 22:44. This last reference concerning Christ sweating being especially potent as sweat was a mark of the curse which God placed in man at the fall (Genesis 3:19) and which Owen has already argued Christ suffered the full force of from Galatians 3:13.
[60] Owen, Death of Christ, 448.
[61] Owen, Death of Christ, 448, my italics.
[62] Owen, Death of Death, 268, author’s italics.
[63] Owen, Death of Christ, 450.
[64] Owen, Death of Christ, 450, my italics. Biblically we would want to assert that Baxter is right: Romans 5:9-10; 8:3; Galatians 1:4; 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 2:13-14; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 2:14-15; 9:26; 1 Peter 3:18. This list is taken from Garry J. Williams, Effectual Atonement: A Lecture (Given at Oak Hill College, 2007 as part of CD4/5.3 Doctrine of Salvation), 63.
[65] Owen, Death of Death, 268, italics mine.
[66] Owen, Death of Christ, 452.
[67] I have included this section later rather than earlier because we can only realise the importance of the following issues once we have consider the biblical and systematic arguments from both sides.
[68] Baxter, Aphorisms, 302, my italics.
[69] Baxter, Aphorisms, 302, author’s italics.
[70] Baxter, Aphorisms, 302.
[71] Romans 5:9-10; 8:3; Galatians 1:4; 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 2:13-14; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 2:14-15; 9:26; 1 Peter 3:18. Williams, Effectual Atonement, 63.
[72] Owen, The Death of Death, 270, my italics.
[73] Baxter, Aphorisms, 306. But Baxter errs when he infers from this that the obligation in the law must not then have been fully executed, Baxter believes “’if the law be executed, then not relaxed,’ and on the contrary.” i.e. if the law be relaxed then not executed. Owen, The Death of Christ, 447.
[74] Baxter, Aphorisms, 306, author’s italics.
[75] Baxter, Aphorisms, 305.
[76] Owen, Death of Christ, 447.
[77] Owen, Death of Christ, 443.
[78] Baxter, Aphorisms, 301, my italics.
[79] Owen, Death of Christ, 443.
[80] Garry J. Williams, “Grotius, Hugo (1583-1645),” in The Dictionary of Historical Theology ed. T.A. Hart; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Paternoster Press, 2000), 236. It seems that Owen himself has a similar point to make as Williams here when he writes: “a supposal that I should oppose Grotius in his main intendment … was not once in my thoughts.” Owen, Death of Christ, 448.
[81] Owen, Death of Death, 270.
[82] Baxter, Aphorisms, 305.
[83] Owen, Death of Christ, 435. Owen also writes Baxter has: “cast some part of the doctrine of the satisfaction and redemption of Christ, as by me [Owen] delivered, into a crooked frame.” (436), also he has taken the controversy between Grotius and Owen and “so changed [it] by a new dress that I [Owen] might justly refuse to take any acquaintance with it.” (442) Moreover in one of Baxter’s expressions of an Owen argument: “the very strength of it as laid down is omitted.” (444) And Baxter’s criticism of Owen’s “lack” of answering Grotius is seen by Owen as: “A most unhappy issue as can possibly be imagined, made up of deceit, weakness, and self-contradiction!” (443)
[84] Owen, Death of Death, 269.
[85] Owen, Death of Death, 269.
[86] Owen, Death of Death, 269.
[87] Baxter, Aphorisms, 302.
[88] Williams, “Grotius,” 236.
[89] Owen, Death of Death, 273, my italics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here is that Owen essay we've all been waiting for...

Review Essay on John Owen’s Christologia: The Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ in Works I


John Owen’s Christologia was published in 1679 and stemmed from his perception that England was descending into Arianism, “events ensued which justified these apprehensions of Owen.”[1] Arianism was a heresy from the early Church, but in Owen’s day these heresies were: “lifting up themselves again, though under new vizards and pretences.”[2] Owen wanted to tackle these heresies by enthroning “Christ anew on the hearts and consciences of men.”[3] To my mind this is what he has done in Christologia and I will begin by summarising the book and explaining how his structure meets this aim of enthroning Christ.[4] We will go on to discuss the theological and pastoral issues associated with the main point in the book which will take up the majority of this work.

Summary of Christologia

The book’s twenty chapters divide into seven main sections: 1. Jesus is divine: the truth on which the church stands and against which hell rages (chapters 1 and 2). 2. Jesus is divine: in him we behold all that God has decreed, is, and requires of us (chapters 3 to 6). 3. Jesus is divine: as divine prophet, king and priest he can be the saviour of the Church (chapters 7 and 8). 4. Jesus is divine: the respect we have to him is the respect we have to God - namely to honour, obey, and conform to him, and to receive from him all gospel privileges (chapters 9 to 15). 5. Jesus is divine: the wisdom of God is manifested in the divine Jesus’ redemption of the world (chapters 16 to 17). 6. Jesus is divine: the union of his divine and human natures (chapter 18). 7. Jesus is divine: he is worshipped as God in heaven, and lives there for our salvation (chapters 19 and 20). This is the structure we will use to grasp a summary of the book.

Firstly then[5] Owen teaches us that Peter’s confession of the Christ in Matthew 16:16 “compriseth eminently the whole truth concerning the person and office of Christ.”[6] This confession is that Jesus “was the Son of Man…yet he was not only so, but [also] the eternal Son of the living God.”[7] Owen is quick to point out, as Christ does in Matthew 16:18b, that the “power and policy of hell will be always engaged in opposition unto the relation of the church unto this foundation [viz. Peter’s confession].”[8]

Owen proceeds in the second chapter to outline the ways in which the Devil attacks the church built on Peter’s confession. The Devil does so by two agents: 1. “The unbelieving world”[9]; 2. “heretics.”[10] Under heresies of the Christian faith Owen lists Gnosticism, Socinianism, Nestorianism, and Mohammedianism (Islam). All of which, either implicitly or explicitly, deny the deity of Jesus Christ the man.

But such heresies as those in the Devil’s second agent, which deny the divine and human natures of Christ, can come in many more subtle forms such as an individual growing “weary of any concernment [in Christ’s divine person, and holding to] a natural religion, or non at all.”[11] Or can come as one professes Christ outwardly who yet neglects gospel duties, Owen wishes: “that such persons would publicly renounce the profession of [Jesus’] name, rather than practically manifest their inward disregard of him.”[12] All this means that the truths which Owen expounds in Christologia are not only to be grasped and defended by theologians but also private believers who were not “unable from this duty or exempt from it.”[13]

In the second section[14] Owen explains that Christ is to be the centre of our worship as, “of all the effects of the divine excellencies, the constitution of the person of Christ...was the most ineffable and glorious.”[15] One of the reasons for this is because everything which God was going to do “concerning his own eternal glory, in the sanctification and salvation of the church here below [was] all to be effected in Christ.”[16] This does not mean Jesus was the cause of God’s eternal decrees but was “the only foundation of the execution of all the counsels of God concerning our sanctification and salvation.”[17] However Jesus was not only God’s instrument for our salvation but for our creation also: “God the Father did nothing in the first creation but by him.”[18] This means Jesus is both creator and redeemer, it would be denying our maker to not defend Christ’s divinity.

Owen’s second argument in this section for Christ’s divinity stems from the proposition that our end in religion is to know God, this of course: “is done perfectly only in the person of Christ, all other means of it being subordinate thereunto.”[19] One example Owen uses to support this claim is that the Pharisees did not know God,[20] but the disciples did, because the disciples knew Christ.[21] Owen concludes three things are necessary for this assertion: Firstly, the Father and the Son must have the same nature. Secondly, the Father and the Son must be distinct. Thirdly, the Son needs to be incarnate. Just as in his Oxford days, people have rejected these truths in various forms throughout history, making idols to represent who they thought God was. This happened with the Pharisees, and with the first humans: “by common consent they framed representations of God unto themselves.”[22] Owen’s argument for Jesus’ divinity has always met with hostility.

Owen concludes this section in chapter 6 by claiming that divine truth is either found in God himself, or the counsel of his will, and that the only way to grasp either of these is to look to Christ who is “the essential image of the Father … [and] the sacred repository and treasury [of God’s counsels] … hence it is, that those who reject the divine person of Christ … do constantly reject or corrupt all other spiritual truths of divine revelation.”[23] Not only is Owen defending Christ’s divinity he is also making the case that we lose all other truth if we lose this one.

In the third section[24] of Christologia the argument for Christ’s divine nature rests on his saving of the church as her prophet, priest and king. Owen masterfully argues that a prophet, priest or king in the Old Testament, even Moses, could not be the saviour of the church because this role did not rest on whether one has these titles or not but: “on the person of him who was given unto us.”[25] Christ must be divine in his role as prophet as he is a prophet to every nation through every age, not just the nation of Israel in 30 A.D. And he must be able comprehend the mind of God fully that he might declare God’s will to us fully. Furthermore, he must have the fullness of God by the Spirit dwelling in him so that he could enlighten our eyes. Christ also must be divine for his role as king as Jesus is king “in heaven and on earth.”[26] But Jesus is also king over each believer internally such that he has to know them on the inside, and must be able to direct their hearts. Christ’s divinity is also vital in his priestly office, in that it was “God [who] was to purchase his church ‘with his own blood,’ Acts 20:28.”[27] In chapter 8 Owen points out (to show that things were going the same way in his day) that although Israel had expected Christ to come, “this faith, which wrought effectually in the Church of Israel, degenerated into a lifeless opinion, that proved the ruin of it.”[28]

Section four[29] is the biggest section of Christologia[30] and concerns the respect each believer has towards Christ, Owen is constantly at pains to show us it is the same respect we have towards God. The first respect we have towards Christ is to honour him. This honour is not diminished at Jesus’ incarnation and is the same as that ascribed to the Father: “to honour the Son as we ought to honour the Father, is that which makes us Christians, and which nothing else will so do.”[31] The beginning of all this honour is faith in Jesus, which is faith in his person as he shares the divine nature of the Trinity. The second respect we have towards Christ is obedience of which love is: “the especial principle.”[32] We are called to love Christ as the Bible presents him to us, and as we love Christ we will find the image of God form in our lives because: “the Father loves, and cannot but love, his own nature and essential image in [Jesus]”[33] – as we love Jesus we will be doing what God does, loving God.

The third respect we have to Christ is our conformity unto him “which is required of us.”[34] This is achieved as we behold his glory and are made like him, we do this by modeling his internal holiness which he has by nature, and by modeling his acquired holiness which he has by obedience to his Father (manifested in his love for us and readiness for the cross). Being like Christ is what was required of Israel in respect to God.[35] The forth and final respect we have to Christ is to receive the gospel benefits he has achieved for us, and which we work for in this life by faith and obedience – this may not sound like an argument for Christ’s divinity but Owen next moves on to show how all Christ has achieved for us is only possible because he shares in the divine nature.

Section five[36] of Christologia deals with the manifestation of God’s wisdom in sending the divine Christ to save us. In order that we might truly grasp this wisdom Owen believes we must understand the sin which God has saved us from. Owen also explains here that it is conducive to God’s nature to save a people out of the fallen race because of his “love, grace and mercy.”[37] In our rescue there were three things required; firstly, there needed to be obedience offered to God which brought him more honour than the dishonor which the fall brought him, secondly, there needed to be the infliction of punishment, and thirdly a rescuing of people from under Satan’s rule. All three of these are fulfilled by Christ’s divinity who, according to that nature, was obedient and could pay for the sins of many as he did not need to pay for his own, whose blood was infinitely valuable, and who (being divine) has brought us back under God’s rule by bringing us under his own.[38]

Owen ends this section in chapter 17 by explaining how God’s wisdom is manifested in each step of the work of redemption through Christ. Contemplation on these things will leave Christians with a stronger faith, with a soul made like Christ’s as we behold him in this work, with our minds taken off of earthly things, and will prepare us for glory - which is in itself the contemplation of the wisdom of God in the salvation of the church.[39]

The penultimate section[40] of the book is a chapter of which Owen “only mentioned, because they are commonly handled by others in their didactical and polemical discourses concerning the person of Christ.”[41] These discourses are concerning the hypostatic union in the person Jesus Christ, and this chapter presents an argument for Christ having both a human and divine nature, yet existing as one person.

Owen’s final section[42] begins by a consideration of the glory of Christ as distinct from that of glorified saints. Owen is not here arguing for Christ’s glory as his deity, rather he reads Christ’s “glory” in John 17:24 as “not the essential glory of his divine person…which is absolutely the same with that of the Father; but…a glory that is peculiarly his own.”[43] Owen secondly explains how Christ’s ascension to heaven was his enthronement as king and ascension to the temple as high priest – both roles he enacts now in heaven.

After Owen has established Jesus as high priest, he next endeavors to explain how this affects the church militant. It does so by enabling us to join the praise of heaven, shielding us from God’s wrath, defending us from Satan’s accusations, attaining all the covenant blessings.[44] Furthermore, Jesus as high priest makes our worship of God perfect despite our indwelling sin, and weakness and unworthiness.[45] And all that Christ is doing for the church on earth, he is doing with a “sovereign authority and almighty power in himself to execute and accomplish.”[46] When this work for the church is accomplished Christ will deliver “the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and authority and power.”[47] But Owen is adamant, even when this happens in heaven, one thing will stay the same: “The person of Christ, and therein his human nature, shall be the eternal object of divine glory, praise, and worship.”[48]

The Main Point

The main point of this work has been evident throughout our summary, and is clear in the full title of Owen’s book: “The Person of Christ – God and Man.”[49] This work was published just four years before Owen’s death and it has been said that “Owen’s mind during the last few years of life were [sic.] much taken up with meditation upon the Person of Christ, and of heaven.”[50] That is precisely what we find in Christologia and will form the kernel of this essay as we discuss theological and pastoral issues associated with this theme.

Theological and Pastoral Issues

We will explore the theological and pastoral issues in Christologia by taking each section at a time. As we look at the seven sections we will discuss how the theology Owen raises in that section is dependant upon the main point of the book, and discuss the pastoral issues which they promote in turn.

In section one Owen has to prove that when Jesus says: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”[51] he means by “this rock” the faith of Peter and the confession he makes in verse 16 about Jesus’ divine and human natures.[52] Establishing this would mean “it is…the person of Christ whom Peter confessed, that is the rock on which the church is built.”[53] If Owen fails to show this is true Christologia could not exist in the form it does, because the person of Christ (God and man) would not be integral to the existence of the Church.

However, Owen proves it is true by four arguments. Firstly, he argues that if Christ had intended the person of Peter to be the one on whom the church was built he could have said it far simpler using these words: “Thou art a rock, and on thee will I build.”[54] Secondly, if Peter was the foundation, when he died the church would collapse for: “no building can possibly abide when its foundation is removed and taken away.”[55] With this he argues against the Catholic doctrine of the apostolic succession pointing out that “the church cannot be consummated or perfected, unless it rest in and on him who lives forever,”[56] whereas the Catholics are seeking to rest the church on mortal men. Thirdly, the Scriptures are universally clear that the Church has only one rock, that of Jesus Christ.[57] And finally Owen shows that the context in Matthew 16 argues that Jesus will suffer and die to be the foundation of the Church,[58] a claim which intriguingly Peter refutes.[59]

The pastoral implications of Owen showing that the human and divine Christ is the foundation of the existence of the Church enable the Church to survive the ensuing persecution towards this truth. The gates of hell will use any means they can to attack this foundation from other religions right the way down to the wayward thoughts of the professing member of the church congregation. Hence this truth about the person of Christ[60] must be proclaimed and defended in our evangelism, from the pulpit, and in our pastoral conversations. The assurance is of course that “the gates of hell shall not prevail.”[61]

In section two Owen has to prove that Jesus existing as both God and man “is that singular expression of divine wisdom, goodness, and power, wherein God will be admired unto all eternity.”[62] A truth which although “the Scripture doth sometimes draw a veil over,”[63] yet is there in it a cause to marvel at God: “That the mighty God should be a child born, and the everlasting Father a Son given unto us, may well entitle him unto the name of Wonderful.”[64] I do not want to deny Owen’s theology here at all, he is right to say this truth “is the glory of the Christian religion.”[65] But I do reject his reading of Isaiah 6, it is overly analogical. Owen writes that in the vision of God’s throne in Isaiah 6 we see: “The Son of God…who was so represented, and that as he was to fill the temple of his human nature with divine glory…And herein the seraphim…not being able to behold or look into the glorious mystery of his incarnation.”[66]

Despite this overly analogical reading, the truth remains that Christ’s divinity is “the glory of the Christian religion,”[67] which means Owen can claim any other divine truth rests on this key truth. We saw in section one that this truth must have pride of place in our pastoral ministry, but it must not only be taught separately to the cross, the creation, the Church and so on but must permeate all of our teaching and thinking on divine truths. Owen will go on in Christologia to show the dependence of other doctrines on the truth that Jesus Christ is both God and man.

Section three in Christologia shows Christ’s divinity working out in his roles as prophet, king and priest. There may not be numerous explicit references uniting Christ’s divinity and his prophetic, kingly, and priestly roles in the Bible, but here are some crucial biblical truths which Christians could not hold to if Christ the prophet, king and priest were not divine. Firstly, if Jesus the prophet were not God he would not know the mind of God[68] and could not fully declare to us God’s will for our lives. Secondly, if Jesus the king were not God he could not direct our lives[69] and we could not say the Lord is our shepherd.[70] And thirdly, if Jesus the high priest were not God his blood would not be valuable to atone for all the sin of all the elect, and in fact he could not atone for any of them because he would have to atone for himself as only God is good.[71]

These things being denied (because Jesus has both human and divine natures) the Christian is filled with assurance as he looks to Christ and finds what God requires of him (prophetic); finds Jesus can control his life (kingly); and finds the cross is sufficient for his salvation (priestly). This last point is even more vital to Owen now than when he wrote his 1647 work The Death if Death, because when Christologia was published he no longer believed: “God may, by virtue of his supreme dominion, omit punishment without any wrong or prejudice to his justice.”[72] God was gracious to Owen in enabling him to change his view on God’s justice, but as chapter 8 of Christologia proves people are sometimes hardened regarding divine truths (as was the case with much of Israel’s faith). To enable a Christian’s assurance with regard to Jesus’ prophetic, kingly, and priestly roles this work of proclaiming Christ’s divinity never ends.

In the fourth section of Owen’s work we discover that any claim such as “the person of Christ is of no use at all … [is] a vain imagination.”[73] And Owen works through the four respects we do have to Christ.

Firstly, honour, which is due to the Son as it is to the Father. This honour is to be given in two forms both which support the main point of Owen’s work. Firstly adoration of Jesus, which is: “humbly to bow our souls unto God.”[74] And secondly, invocation of Jesus which comes in two forms: to ascribe to Jesus all the divine properties which belong to God. And to represent our will to Jesus as we call on him “with an expectation of being heard…by virtue of his infinitely divine excellencies.”[75] Pastorally Owen writes that to ascribe all the divine properties to Jesus Christ is “essential unto prayer, which without it is but vain babbling.”[76] True prayer to the divine Jesus is vital and needed writes Owen, in times of spiritual trouble, discovery of something excellent about Christ, persecution, a need of the increase of grace, death.

The second respect we have to Christ is obedience “both internal and external.”[77] The cause of our obedience to Christ is because he himself is God, and his Father has given all power to him that he might command obedience: “The name of God the Father is so in him-that is, he is so partaker of the same nature with him-that his voice is the voice of the Father.”[78] The “especial principle”[79] of this internal and external obedience is love, such that “the placing of our love on anything before God, or above him, is a formal expression of our apostasy from him.”[80] The reason we are able to love Jesus is because in him rest all the divine excellencies, if they did not we could not love him absolutely. Owen is clear that obedient love for Jesus is what sets someone apart as a Christian: “Let men pretend what they will, there needs no greater, no other evidence, to prove that any one doth not really believe the things that are reported in the Gospel ... that his heart is not engaged by them unto the most ardent love towards [Jesus'] person.” So the fundamental way we are to challenge our congregation is enquiring into their love for Jesus.

The third respect we have to Christ in religion is conformity to him. In one of his most pastorally sensitive points Owen writes that:

“No soul can have a design of conformity unto Christ but his who so likes and loves the graces that were in him, as to esteem a participation of them in their power to be the greatest advantage, to be the most invaluable privilege, that can in this world be attained.”[81]

In other words, when we see qualities in Christ we are to esteem them as excellent else we will not desire to conform to his person.

The fourth respect we have to Christ is to receive the gospel benefits from him. These Owen lists here but has not room to include “an entire discourse concerning the life of faith.”[82]

In the fifth section of Christologia Owen applies his argument for Christ’s divinity to our redemption from sin and the Devil. This is another place where Owen shows us that if we lose Christ’s divinity in our theology then orthodox doctrines of salvation also cannot be maintained. Owen’s work on the fallen state of humanity is precise and alerts us to the need for a perfect plan of redemption. Owen shows us such a plan God has put in place however, alongside explaining such a plan, Owen outlines the way by which man may plan to save himself. One plan might be an attempt at obedience towards God after the disobedience in Eden, the other might be to offer a sacrifice of some sort to appease God. But Owen concludes that neither of these are sufficient because the problem of sin (from which men are trying to save themselves) is more pervasive than those engaged in these attempts would admit, so our salvation must come by Jesus the God man.

This of course starts to beg the question, if Christ was fully man[83] how could he perform the required obedience or provide a sin offering, for a man is a sinful man. What Owen argues is that Christ did take our nature “yet so as not in the least to participate of the guilt of the first sin, nor the defilement of our nature thereby.”[84] This was possible because Jesus’ “human nature was never in Adam as his representative.”[85] How it happened Owen does not enquire further than the Bible allows, he alludes to Luke 1:35 and quotes Romans 11:33.[86]

The pastoral implications of Owen’s exposition here will lead Christians to turn away from any work righteousness and will cause them to trust in Christ’s work in their place. In this small section Owen has demonstrated how Christ as fully man can offer obedience and sacrifice in the place of sinful men.

In the sixth section of Christologia Owen has to demonstrate how he can reconcile Christ’s fully divine nature with this fully human nature. He does so by presenting Nicaean orthodoxy in opposition to Nestorian heresy. Nestorius’ five allowances of union between the divine and human natures in Christ which Owen records do not demonstrate “the true union of the person of Christ.”[87] The Son of God did not cease to be divine neither did he merely dwell in Christ’s body “as a man dwells in a house.”[88] Rather, the Son of God: “continuing to be what it was, it was made to be also what it was not before.”[89]

We conclude as Owen does with the final section of Christologia. Here we find discussions of Christ in heaven. Christ ascended to heaven in two senses: “(1.) … as he was a King; (2.) … as he was a Priest.”[90] We have considered how each of these can only be effectively exercised by a divine King and Priest, with these two linked together here we see not only that Jesus is the one who deserves praise (for he is King) but he is also the one who makes that praise acceptable as he sanctifies it (for he is Priest). The pastoral implications of this concern our longing to be with our King Jesus in heaven. The way we find out what our desires are of the true heaven is by considering how much we long for the divine Jesus who has been presented to us in Christologia:

“Take an instance in one of the things before laid down. The glory of heaven consists in the full manifestation of divine wisdom, goodness, grace, holiness,-of all the properties of the nature of God in Christ … what then are our present thoughts of these things? What joy, what satisfaction have we in the sight of them, which we have by faith through divine revelation? What is our desire to come unto the perfect comprehension of them? How do we like this heaven? ... According as our desires are after them, such and no other are our desires of the true heaven.”[91]


Owen, John. Christologia: The Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ. Vol. 1 of The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold. 1850-53. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965

Owen John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Vol. 10 of The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold. 1850-53. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965

Rehnman, Sebastian. Divine Discourse: The Theological Methodology of John Owen. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2002

Toon, Peter. God’s Statesman: The Life and Work of John Owen. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973

All Bible references taken from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version. HarperCollins Publishers, 2001

[1] William H. Goold, “Prefatory Note,” in Christologia: or, a Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ-God and Man (vol. 1 of The Works of John Owen; ed. William H. Goold; 1850-53; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 2.
[2] Owen, Christologia, 38.
[3] Goold, “Prefatory Note,” 2.
[4] To enthrone Christ is to know him as fully God and fully man, we will investigate the ways in which Owen enthrones him.
[5] 1. Jesus is divine: the truth on which the church stands and against which hell rages (chapters 1 and 2).
[6] Owen, Christologia, 30.
[7] Owen, Christologia, 30. My Italics.
[8] Owen, Christologia, 34.
[9] Owen, Christologia, 36.
[10] Owen, Christologia, 36.
[11] Owen, Christologia, 41.
[12] Owen, Christologia, 43.
[13] Owen, Christologia, 9.
[14] 2. Jesus is divine: in him we behold all that God has decreed, is, and requires of us (chapters 3 to 6).
[15] Owen, Christologia, 45. By “constitution” here Owen is referring to Christ’s incarnation.
[16] Owen, Christologia, 54.
[17] Owen, Christologia, 63, my italics.
[18] Owen, Christologia, 64.
[19] Owen, Christologia, 65. Rehnman writes: “Christ is exceedingly important for Owen’s view of revelation.” Sebastian Rehnman, Divine Discourse: The Theological Methodology of John Owen (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2002) 64.
[20] John 8:47.
[21] John 14:7-9.
[22] Owen, Christologia, 68. Owen argues this from Romans 1.
[23] Owen, Christologia, 79-83, author’s italics.
[24] 3. Jesus is divine: as divine prophet, king and priest he can be the saviour of the Church (chapters 7 and 8).
[25] Owen, Christologia, 86.
[26] Matthew 28:18.
[27] Owen, Christologia, 99.
[28] Owen, Christologia, 103.
[29] 4. Jesus is divine: the respect we have to him is the respect we have to God - namely to honour, obey, and conform to him, and to receive from him all gospel privileges (chapters 9 to 15).
[30] We will deal with the section most extensively in the second part of this essay.
[31] Owen, Christologia, 107.
[32] Owen, Christologia, 139.
[33] Owen, Christologia, 144. My Italics.
[34] Owen, Christologia, 169.
[35] Owen cites Leviticus 11:44; 19:2, and 20:26. Owen, Christologia, 172.
[36] 5. Jesus is divine: the wisdom of God is manifested in the divine Jesus’ redemption of the world (chapters 16 to 17).
[37] Owen, Christologia, 191.
[38] Owen adds here the idea that the saviour of the church also had to fulfil the office which God assigned to him and that no mere human could fulfil such a task. Owen, Christologia, 203.
[39] Owen, Christologia, 221-223.
[40] 6. Jesus is divine: the union of his divine and human natures (chapter 18).
[41] Owen, Christologia, 235.
[42] 7. Jesus is divine: he is worshipped as God in heaven, and lives there for our salvation (chapters 19 and 20).
[43] Owen, Christologia, 237.
[44] Owen, Christologia, 254.
[45] Owen, Christologia, 257-259.
[46] Owen, Christologia, 260. Author’s italics.
[47] 1 Corinthians 15:25.
[48] Owen, Christologia, 272. My Italics.
[49] Owen, Christologia, 1. My Italics.
[50] Peter Toon, God’s Statesman: The Life and Work of John Owen (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973) 168.
[51] Matthew 16:18a.
[52] “[Jesus] speaks unto…the faith of Peter, who made this confession. Without this no outward confession is of any use or advantage... [and] he speaks unto the confession itself.” Owen, Christologia, 31.
[53] Owen, Christologia, 32.
[54] Owen, Christologia, 32.
[55] Owen, Christologia, 32.
[56] Owen, Christologia, 33.
[57] Interestingly it is Peter himself who proclaims Jesus Christ to be the rock of the Church: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-6.
[58] Matthew 16:21.
[59] Matthew 16:22.
[60] Being both Gold and man.
[61] Matthew 16:18b.
[62] Owen, Christologia, 46.
[63] Owen, Christologia, 46. Owen also says here: “A mystery it is, and that those dimensions as no creature can comprehend.”
[64] Owen, Christologia, 47. Owen is quoting from Isaiah 9:6.
[65] Owen, Christologia, 48.
[66] Owen, Christologia, 48.
[67] Owen, Christologia, 48.
[68] 1 Corinthians 2:11.
[69] Proverbs 16:1, 9.
[70] Psalm 23:1; Exekiel 34:10c-24; John 10:11-15.
[71] Mark 10:18.
[72] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (vol. 1 of The Works of John Owen; ed. William H. Goold; 1850-53; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 271, my italics.
[73] Owen, Christologia, 104.
[74] Owen, Christologia, 107.
[75] Owen, Christologia, 110 my italics.
[76] Owen, Christologia, 110.
[77] Owen, Christologia, 134.
[78] Owen, Christologia, 138.
[79] Owen, Christologia, 139.
[80] Owen, Christologia, 151, my italics.
[81] Owen, Christologia, 174, my italics.
[82] Owen, Christologia, 178.
[83] Owen argues Christ must be fully man as well as fully God else he could not die for us, God’s law required a human body to endure his wrath – in support of which Owen cites Hebrews 2:14-16.
[84] Owen, Christologia, 199.
[85] Owen, Christologia, 200.
[86] Owen, Christologia, 200.
[87] Owen, Christologia, 230.
[88] Owen, Christologia, 231.
[89] Owen, Christologia, 232. And Owen cites John 1:14 to support his claim.
[90] Owen, Christologia, 247, author’s italics.
[91] Owen, Christologia, 245, my italics.