January 26, 2008

Into the Father's Chest

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. John 1:18, NIV

This magnificent verse speaks of the intimacy between the Father and the Son, and the kindness of the Triune God in making himself known to us in human form. I have often marveled and awed at the beauty that this verse communicates. I have read it many times. Lately, though, I read it again for the first time. I was recently reading the first chapter of John's Gospel in my Greek New Testament. When I came to this verse I was halted in awe and mystery. Roughly and intermediately translated, the Greek of John 1:18 says, "No has ever seen God. God the only born, the one being into the chest of the Father, this one has revealed him." Never before have I conceived of such intimacy. The word that I've translated as 'chest' (kolpos) is generally rendered as 'bosom,' 'heart,' or 'side.' Each of these translations are good and attempt to illustrate the intimacy between the Father and his Son. However, sometimes a fresh translation helps to avoid the problem of the text going in one ear and out the other because we've read it a thousand times, and we think we know what it means. Sometimes a fresh translation helps our imagination to go places its never been before in order to comprehend God's self-revelation more comprehensively. According to a standard Greek lexicon this word suggests the hollow or the curvature of the chest (BDAG). This is a brilliant image of deep intimacy. No one knows you better than those who have access to the hollow of your chest. The image suggests intimacy known only in marriage; or, perhaps, the intimacy between a mother and her newly born child. When Jesus of Nazareth was born God was made known in a way unique up to that point and which could never be duplicated. He is the only born of God. He is the one who is close to the Father's heart and into the Father's chest. He is the one who has made him known. Let us marvel in the kindness and grace of God that he would make himself known to us in such an intimate way.

Grace and peace,

Matt

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