God the Son became manifest in the flesh at the incarnation, but is
it therefore proper to say the Son is a 'manifestation'?
God the Son is He who was manifest, not the resultant 'manifestation.'
Just prior to the incarnation, when He said, "Lo, I come," was He
then a 'manifestation,' or only when He put on flesh? The word
'manifest' means to be made perceptible to the senses, oddly enough
in the etymology of the English word the sense affected
is primarily touch: "L. manifestus, lit., struck by the hand. . .manus
hand + fendere. . .to strike." (Webster's). The several Greek words
clustered around φανεροω likewise mean to appear, to become
visible, evident, or unmistakable.
In the Potter's House statement of faith, the sting is taken out
of the word 'manifestation' by making the three manifestations
eternal, thus defeating the reader's expectation that a
'manifestation' is temporary or time-limited. However, in Bishop
Jakes' proof-text for the term 'manifestation,' the manifestation in
question is not eternal. God has not from eternity past been robed
in flesh, rather, this happened in the fulness of time, in the days
of King Herod: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent
forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them
that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of
sons." (Galatians 4:4-5). In 1 Timothy 3:16 the
incarnation is the manifestation, this is how He became palpable to
touch and visible to the eyes. Yet He who was made flesh existed
before the incarnation, so He cannot simply be the 'manifestation'
in the flesh.
God in His own nature is not properly visible nor corporeal, in
taking on flesh He took on also these characteristics, so that John
can say they "handled" the Word of life:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our
hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was
manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you
that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested
unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto
you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our
fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1
In several other verses also the Son is said to be 'manifested,'
i.e. revealed or made evident: "Who verily
was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was
manifest in these last times for you. . ." (1 Peter 1:20), and,
"And ye know that he was manifested to take away our
sins; and in him is no sin. . . For this
purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the
works of the devil." (1 John 3:5-8).
"Beloved, now are we
the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we
shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear [φανερωθη], we
shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2).
Notice that if we take 'the Son' to be, not He who is manifest
but the 'manifestation' set forth in 1 Timothy 3:16, we might well conclude that 'the Son' is
'the flesh' of the incarnation. What a strange concept. . .though sadly
not an unfamiliar one in 'Oneness'-land. The humanity
is what is visible and palpable, at least in this present order of things.
Is this what Bishop Jakes means?
A similar word is used of the Holy Spirit in "But the manifestation of the Spirit
is given to every man to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7). But
here again, what is said is not 'The Holy Spirit is a
manifestation,' but the Holy Spirit is made manifest in the various gifts
imparted to believers. The gifts are the manifestation, not the Holy
It is not evident where in the Bible the Father might be called a 'manifestation,' a desideratum for a word to replace
'persons.' Most of the Old Testament theophanies are
appearances of the Son, as we know because Jesus said, "Not that any
man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the
Father." (John 6:46). So, for example, when the Bible says,
"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of
Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a
sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness."
. . .it is a fairly safe bet that it was the Son of God, the Logos, whom they saw.
So far we have two 'manifestations'. . .or to speak more precisely,
we have two 'manifestors,' if there is such a word, not
'manifestations;' we require a third. If we are to count "three" manifestations, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it
is desirable to see the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit each
somewhere described as 'manifest.' If Bishop Jakes responds that it
was God the Father who was manifest in the flesh: the Spirit manifest in
the flesh, and moreover that the Son was the flesh in which He was
manifest, i.e., Jesus' human nature. . .then we are right back to Square One. That is
how 'Oneness' folk interpret 1 Timothy 3:16, "God
was manifest in the flesh:" 'The Father (who alone is God in
'Oneness') was manifest in the Son (the flesh).' This indeed comes
out with the Son a 'manifestation,' but it is garbled; God the Son,
the Logos, was made flesh, not the Father.
They will protest, but the
Son does manifest the Father, i.e., display Him, make Him known: "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so
long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that
hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us
the Father?" (John 14:9). There is a sense in which the Son might
indeed be said to be a 'manifestation' of the Father, not only in
consequence of the incarnation, because He is the "express image" of
the Father (Hebrews 1:3) and "the image of the invisible God"
(Colossians 1:15). But in no way is the Father thus manifested Himself a
'manifestation.' This word, proposed as a substitute for 'person,'
suffers from the disability that, strictly speaking, none of the persons of the trinity
is said to be a 'manifestation,' though two are said to have been
T. D. Jakes says in the Elephant Room, "Let me just make one little
comment: One of the things that you said at the end, even as we
talked about it before, and I've heard Jack Graham say this, too,
that there is going to be one throne and there's going to be one God
we can see." Uh-oh, that sounds like 'There's one throne in
heaven and Jesus is sitting on it!' The one God we can see will be seen as Father, Son and
Holy Ghost, because we shall see Him as He is. In this life much is hid
from sight, earthly sight might well be more accurately renamed 'blindness,' but there will then be nothing that cannot be seen: