13. The Divine Exegesis

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 18 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture is from John chapter one, verses twelve through fourteen, and verse eighteen, and our subject is ‘the divine exegesis.’ The word ‘exegesis’ of course means ‘to bring out’ to interpret faithfully the meaning of Scripture.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” 1

Heresies concerning the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ have abounded through the centuries. One of the most common and more deadly is subordinationism, which appears in a variety of forms. Subordinationism places God the Son below God the Father. As a result, it violates the very plain meaning of Scripture. [The Council of] Chalcedon summed it up when it spoke of Jesus Christ as very God of very God, and also very man of very man. He is fully God and fully man, the two natures in perfect union without confusion. And yet, although no one has formalized it in theology, in popular fashion, all too many people think of Jesus Christ as half God and half man, which is in effect to say that He is neither God nor man; but He is fully God, totally, and fully and totally man.

In John 1:18 we are told:

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

The word ‘declared’ in the Greek is related to our word ‘exegesis,’ the root of the word is ‘to lead out’ it means ‘to make known,’ ‘to declare by setting forth openly,’ ‘to bring out’ or ‘to bring forth.’ Jesus Christ, John says, is the exegesis of God. He declares, He reveals, He sets forth the meaning of the Covenant God in the fullness of His meaning.

Now, it is important to remember that point. He declares, He exegetes, He sets forth the meaning of the covenant God - not the God of the philosophers. This is not a philosophical exegesis that we see in Jesus Christ, it is not an abstraction, it is the revelation of the Covenant God. John was a Jew, he was an eyewitness to the life of Christ, he was indeed a relative, apparently. God to him was the covenant God, the salvation which that covenant God offers is to all the world, as the Old Testament declared it, for example in Psalm 87, and as our Lord declares in the Great Commission:

“Go ye into all the world, and make disciples of all nations.”

The only God that existed for John was the Covenant God, the God of the Old Testament, the living God. This God is the God of Adam, of Noah, of Shem, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and of David. Our Lord Himself says in John 4:22:

“[S]alvation is of the Jews.”

That is, it comes through the covenant made with Israel. The exegesis of this God is set forth in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the exegesis, the declaration of the faithfulness of that covenant God to His covenant, and to the people of His covenant. Because in a covenant, the two parties come together to make a treaty in terms of a law, each ready to abide by that law and to give his life for the other. Ours is a covenant of grace, because God is so great that for Him to enter into covenant with man is an act of grace, but every covenant is also a covenant of law, so that God giving His law to us is an act of grace, and yet the covenant is also law. They are one and the same thing.

That covenant God and His faithfulness are revealed to us in Jesus Christ; He is the exegesis of God. Thus it is a revelation not of the God of the Greek philosophers, but of the living God of Scripture. “No man hath ever seen God at any time…” or as a number of scholars have pointed out, Westcott for example in the last century:

“No man hath ever yet seen God.” 2

Or as J.B. Philips renders it: “It is true that no one has ever seen God at any time. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known.” 3 Thus when John says: “No man has ever yet seen God” 4 he says: “now God is here, and everyone can see Him.” Our Lord Himself makes that point to Philip when he asks: “Show us the Father.” And He says: “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” 5

Westcott commented on this particular verse, verse eighteen:

“No man bath seen God at any time (ever yet seen)] Comp, i John iv. 12. In both places the original of 'God' is without the article (θεὸν not τὸν θεὸν). By this manner of expression thought is turned to the divine Nature rather than to the divine Person: 'God as God; (comp. i. 1, n.). The Theophanies under the Old Dispensation did not fall under this category.” 6

So what we have now is a revelation of the very nature of God in all its fullness in Jesus Christ. We know the grace, the love, the mercy, as well as the law and judgment of God in Jesus Christ, His life, His death and resurrection. We have a now and once-and-forever revelation. This revelation is not a step backward, nor a step forward, it is not more material nor more spiritual, rather, it is the open revelation of that which was there from the beginning, now set forth more clearly. And we, as we grow in grace, as we grow in sanctification, see God in Christ more fully, more clearly. He is there in all His fullness, set forth in His Word and in His incarnation. The unbelieving, because of sin, cannot see the fullness of the clarity of that revelation, and we, because we are not yet fully and perfectly sanctified do not apprehend all the fullness thereof, but it is there. It is the covenant God who reveals Himself in His covenant faithfulness, His covenant grace, law, love, and salvation. And John's gospel goes on in terms of the fact that he is the exegesis of God, to give us selected episodes in the life of our Lord as signs and wonders, as revelations of the nature of God and His workings.

We are to see from these things that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and that all that was there in the covenant with the Fathers is there in the renewed covenant with Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 28 is still true, it is the same God in every age, but now fully revealed. We receive the fullness of His covenant mercy, grace, and truth; and of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Thus, we have a call to live in terms of that fullness, as more than conquerors. The unbelieving live in a world of chance, how can they have hope? The world for them is nothing but an empty concourse of atoms; no purpose, no rhyme nor reason to anything. But ours is the covenant-God who made all things by His sovereign word, and has declared the beginning and the end; and so we have a hope that maketh not ashamed.7 Moreover, we are told that the exegesis is made to men who are, by grace, received into the covenant, they are heirs, or as Paul declares in Romans 8:17, “joint heirs with Christ.”

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” 8

We are told by John that, like Jesus Christ, covenant man has a supernatural birth; we are born in a rebirth that is comparable to the virgin birth, it is not of blood nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, it is entirely of God. And we are given, John says: “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God.” Power. The word power 9 here in the Greek means not only ‘power’ in our sense, but ‘power with rightful authority.’ The world is full of men with power, but not many with rightful, with godly authority, with legitimate authority. But we have been given power, and with that power rightful authority; and it is for those that believe on His name, exclusively to them. The incarnation is thus the exegesis of God, the covenant revelation. It brings regeneration, it brings heirship, it brings victory. It culminates in the crowning of our Lord Jesus Christ as king of creation. So that we read at the very beginning of Hebrews 1:1-3

“GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” 10

We are told that Christ is appointed heir of all things, at His first coming. And that He is the one who upholds all things by the word of His power, that all of creation is sustained because Christ sustains it by the word of His power, when He breathes the word, Heaven and earth shall pass away. Therefore we are told He upholds, or as Philipp’s renders it: “He is the upholding principle” 11 of all that is. This was true in His incarnation, and before His incarnation, and now and forever more.

We are told moreover by 2 Peter 1:4 that in Him we are made partakers of the divine victory, of all the glory and the power and the dominion that belongs to Him. The Old Testament saints long before this was made known, as they faced a world, a sea of troubles, still could say:

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. 12


The LORD of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. 13

We, to whom the divine exegesis has been fully set forth in Jesus Christ dare say no less.

Let us pray.

* * *

Almighty God our heavenly Father, we thank thee that in Jesus Christ we have seen the Father, we have seen thee. Give us grace our Father in the knowledge of Him who was our Lord to be more than conquerors, to go forth and to bring all things including Congress and the IRS into captivity to Jesus Christ, and to declare the crown rights of our Lord Jesus Christ over all things. Bless us to this purpose. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now? Yes?

[Audience Member] Is it still required, when you take the oath of office, that you swear on the Bible?

[Rushdoony] The Constitution requires everyone to swear on the Bible, but it is very often a closed, at least once that I have seen it, it was a closed book, and I think they just flicked it open without any thought. It should be open to Deuteronomy 28, that is the meaning of the oath. It is to the covenant God in terms of the covenant blessings or curses.


[Audience Member] Is the requirement for an oath of the Bible found in the Bible?

[Rushdoony] It says there shall be an oath of office. Now, the word ‘oath’ is meaningless apart from Scripture, and the word ‘oath’ to people at that time only meant an oath on the covenant book. So it never occurred to them that it could have another meaning, that is why they didn’t bother to say: ‘an oath on the Bible’ that would have been redundant. It is like us saying something is ‘more better’ you see, that is redundant. [If he swears falsely] he brings judgment upon himself by a false oath, and we are under judgment at this time.

I would like to, since we are on that subject, instead of waiting till later, share something with you. The Washington Monthly is a magazine published in Washington D.C., it is by Liberals predominantly, but Liberals who have become very disillusioned and cynical. The current issue, June 1980 is very important. I spoke some time ago, you remember, about the increasing belief that a man had a right to his job, and they point out that we are developing a legal situation where we may see before too long something like, well, the article in particular singles out Zbigniew Brzezinski as someone who could very well sue for lifetime possession of his job. Legally we are developing that position, but more important is the article which the cover is devoted to: Moscow’s real secret weapon. This article is a study in depth of the subject, which is as timely as the Bible which is the most timely book of all. After all, the Bible warns us against debt, and what the article says and I will just read a few passages. “Moscow now has a weapon that can destroy us, it could devastate the West without a shot being fired.”

“Incredibly, it is a weapon we are not only constructing for the Russians, but paying for as well. The weapon? Debt. Quietly, assiduously, Western banks since the mid 1970’s have allowed the Soviet Bloc to pile up $60 Billion to $80 Billion in outstanding debt, according to the Washington Monthly sources.”

The magnitude of this debt is such that a Soviet default might spark a financial panic capable of collapsing the capitalistic banking system. It goes on to say that in order to get the orders we have been ready to extend them credit, and our banks loan them money which is paid to Americans who sell grain or machinery or what not; that this debt is enough to wipe us out now as a nation, as well as all the European countries, they are all in this together. The article goes on to say that the old proverb is true; make a small loan and you have a debtor, make a large loan and you have a partner. When you loan too much to somebody if something happens to him it can wipe you out, so what do you do? You do everything to prop him up.

So even while the Soviet Union is building up its weapons and threatening to destroy us, and talking about doing so in the near future, we are lending them more and more in order to keep ourselves from falling apart financially, in the hopes that maybe we will somehow by being extra nice to them with detente and SALT II 14 and whatever, persuade them to repay something. The banks which are giving the largest loans are involved in other aspects of the international credit market, they are Citicorp according to this article, as the largest lender, followed in rough order by Morgan, Guarantee Trust, Chase Manhattan, and Hanover Trust. Moreover, the situation is such that we have come very close a couple of time lately, to disaster; although the article feels it would have been better had we gone through that disaster now rather than later.

Poland defaulted totally. This would have been enough to wipe out the Western banks. The Soviet Union, however, stepped in and paid for Poland’s amounts that were due, interest, with gold; because they wanted to keep the situation going, they need grain and they need trucks for Afghanistan. The collapse of the Shah’s regime was enough to have wiped us out also, the thing that saved us in that case was that the new government had foolishly left enough assets in

Western banks to cover what was owed to us, and that was seized so that disaster was averted by that.

The article says that:

“...the Soviets are beginning to master the classic nuances of manipulating banks; they are learning to finesse and demure, allowing the bureaucratic momentum of good money after bad to work its magic unassisted. The West shows little inclination to call in Soviet Bloc paper now, thus forcing the inevitable default. There would be a tremendous disruption of banks and businesses, but at least the losses would be cut and finished with.

Most of the experts interviewed for this article believe that the Soviets would resort to default blackmail only after a radical deterioration of the political atmosphere.”

In other words, they will work it as long as they can, and then if we threaten to get unfriendly or to effect a real boycott of them or reprisals against them, then they will threaten to wipe us out with defalcation.15 Are there any other questions?

You see, we have sinned as a nation with regard to debt, and as individuals also. We have treated what Scripture has to say callously.


[Audience Member] Could you comment about the gold reverse clause?

[Rushdoony] Well, I believe the gold reserve clause passed Congress not too long ago under the impetus given by Congressman Philip Crane, so that now contracts can be written in gold, which is a wise thing, to demand payment when you sell something in gold. Yes?

[Audience Member] How does this fit into the deflationists argument?

[Rushdoony] Well, naturally, if they defaulted it would create a tremendous catastrophe which would be deflationary, however given the present nature of things in Washington, they would respond to that by massive inflation. So, the decision as to what to do when there is such a default will create either runaway inflation or a massive deflation, and I would say that is totally political. Yes?

[Audience Member] So, it seems they have a monetary first-strike capability, then?

[Rushdoony] Yes, well put; they do have a monetary first-strike capability, as well as a military one. Yes?

[Audience Member] This is all done, surely, with our acquiescence?

[Rushdoony] Yes. The capability is with our acquiescence. The ironic thing is that we have learned nothing by all of this because we have just gotten through working out a like deal with Red China, which enormously aggravates the situation.

The thing that to me is very, very interesting in this situation, lately, in the past two weeks I have talked to any number of people, and what they tell me is that people whether they are Christians or totally non-Christian are responding to the fact of these earthquakes and the volcanos eruption by saying: “Well, we are in for judgment, we have been asking for it.” Now you would expect Christians to make some comment like that perhaps, but people who are totally non-Christian are making comments like that I am told, which means that people are aware that we have strayed.

Well, let us bow our heads now for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 Jn 1:12-14, 18.

2 Schaff, P., & Schaff, D.S. (1910). History of the Christian Church (Vol. 1, p. 552). Charles Scribner’s Sons.

3 J.B. Phillips. The New Testament in Modern English. 1972 Revised Edition. London: Harper Collins, 2000, 141.

4 John 1:18.

5 John 14:9.

6 B.F. Westcott. The Gospel According to St. John. London: John Murray, 1908, 15.

7 See Romans 5:5.

8 Jn 1:12–14.

9 “ἐξουσίαf, ας f: the power to do something, with or without an added implication of authority—‘power.’”

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E.A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 680). United Bible Societies.

10 Heb 1:1–3.

11 “He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.” Colossians 1:15; J.B. Phillips. The New Testament in Modern English. 1972 Revised Edition. London: Harper Collins, 2000, 343.

12 Ps 46:2–3.

13 Ps 46:11.

14 This refers to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the second round.

15 Defalcation is misappropriation of funds by a person trusted with their charge.

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