Gnostic Doctrine

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

God is a Corporeal Being James 3:9

God has a physical body
God is Corporeal 
James 3:9

First what does Corporeal mean?

The definition of corporeal is something related to your body or something physical or tangible

Most Christians today may not know that the ancient Israelites, the 
early proto-orthodox church and the Christian Gnostic churches had a belief in a Corporeal God that is in a Deity who has a physical form

The Greek word for corporeal is used twice in the Bible 1 Timothy 4:8 and Luke 3:22

◄ 4984. sómatikos ►

Strong's Concordance
sómatikos: of the bodyOriginal Word: σωματικός, ή, όν
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: sómatikos
Phonetic Spelling: (so-mat-ee-kos')
Definition: of the body
Usage: bodily, corporeal.

Thayer's Greek LexiconSTRONGS NT 4984: σωματικός

σωματικός, σωματική, σωματικον (σῶμα), from Aristotle down, "corporeal (Vulg.corporalis), bodily;

a. having a bodily form or nature": σωματικῷ εἴδει, Luke 3:22 (opposed to ἀσώματος, Philo de opif. mund. § 4).

b. pertaining to the body: ἡ γυμνασία, 1 Timothy 4:8 (ἕξις, Josephus, b. j. 6, 1, 6: ἐπιθυμίαι σωματικαί, 4 Macc. 1:32; (ἐπιθυμίαι καί ἡδοναι, Aristotle, eth. Nic. 7, 7, p. 1149b, 26; others; ἀπέχου τῶν σαρκικῶν καί σωματικῶν σπιθυμιων, 'Teaching' etc. 1, 4 [ET])).

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

The Holy Spirit is described as coming down in bodily shape. This was a real visible appearance, and was doubtless seen by the people.

Whilst man was made in the image of God it might be interesting to consider just how like God Man really is from reviewing relevant scriptures on this theme. so now we will look at the physical aspect.

English Standard Version
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:9

man is made in the physical similitude of the father

God is revealed as a real, tangible person, with a bodily existence. It is also a fundamental teaching of Christianity that Jesus is the Son of God. If God is not a corporeal (bodily) being, then it is impossible for Him to have a son who was the "image of His person" (Heb.1:3). Further, it becomes difficult to develop a personal, living relationship with 'God', if 'God' is just a concept in our mind, a formless, shapeless thing, floating out in space like a cloud of mist, only with a mind and will.

It is tragic that the majority of religions have this unreal, intangible conception of God.

God being so infinitely greater than us, it is understandable that many people's faith has unwilling to accept the clear promises that ultimately we will see God. Israel lacked the faith to see God's "shape" (Jn. 5:37), clearly showing that He does have a real form. Such faith comes from knowing God and believing His word:

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt.5:8).
God has a soul

The word soul in the Bible always refers to bodily life living or dead 

Leviticus 26:11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

So God has a soul and therefore a body.  A soul would indicate that this comprises of both spirit and body. 1Sa 2:35; Ps 11:5; 24:4; Pr 6:16; Isa 1:14; 42:1; Jer 5:9; 6:8; 12:7; 14:19; 15:1; 32:41; 51:14; La 3:20; Eze 23:18; Am 6:8; Mt 12:18; Heb 10:38.

God speaks of “my soul” (Le 26:11, 30; Ps 24:4; Isa 42:1) . By speaking of ‘my ne´phesh,’ The Deity clearly means “myself” or “my person. The Old Testament consistently talks of God as a person; God is spoken of as having eyes, hands, and so forth.

The word soul is used for the physical body:

1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. 45 It is even so written: “The first man Adam became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:44  It is sown a body of the soul, it is raised a body of the spirit; if there is a body of the soul, there is also of the spirit:--
45  Thus, also, it is written--The first man, Adam, became, a living soul, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
46  Howbeit, not first, is the [body] of the spirit, but that, of the soul,--afterwards, that of the spirit.

God is not just spirit but also has his spirit contained within some almighty corporeal entity, i.e. a divine body. 

A divine/spiritual body implies a substance (Hypostasis Hebrews 1:3) of divine nature (2Peter 1:4) 

Hebrews 1:3 He is the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places.

The Son is the character or exact representation, and the Father is the hypostasis.

Strong's #5287: hupostasis (pronounced hoop-os'-tas-is)

Hypostasis, the original cognate of substantia


hypostasis = hypó ("under") + stásis ("a standing" = (hístēmi ("to stand") + -sis, verbal noun suffix)) = "that which stands under"

substantia = sub ("under") + stans ("standing", present active participle of stō ("stand")) = "that which stands under".

From this we can conclude that Hypostasis refers to the nature/essence or "substance" of the Father, the Father-Spirit is substantial.

However, in later centuries hypostasis began referring to the "person", not the "nature" or "being" of God. 

"an accurate representation in the manner of an 'impress' or 'stamp', as of a coin to a die" (NIBC); "the mark [which] is the exact impression of the seal" (Barclay). Christ is "the image of God" (2Co 4:4) and "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15); although in these two instances, the Gr word "eikon" is different from that used here. John expressed the same idea in the words "anyone who has seen me [Jesus] has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

the Son is the Character of his Hypostasis rendered, in the common version, "express image of his person." The Son is the character or exact representation, and the Father is the hypostasis. In reference to the former, the Father says, in Zech. iii. 9, "Upon One Stone there shall be Seven Eyes ; behold, I will engrave the graving thereof (that is, of the stone), saith He who shall be hosts." The graving engraved on the stone is termed, in Greek, character, an impress wrought into a substance after some archetype or pattern. This archetype is the hypostasis, so that hypostasis is the basis or foundation of character; wherefore the same apostle in Col. i. 15, styles the character engraved the IMAGE of Theos the Invisible. Seth was the image of Adam, and Adam, the image of Elohim (cf. Gen. i. 26 ; v. 3.). Like Seth, Jesus was an image of Adam, but only in relation to flesh. Adam the First was image of Elohim, and this was in relation to bodily form. Body and form were the hypostasis of Adam and Seth; that is, they were the basis or foundation of the images so named. Where body and form do not exist, there can be no image; therefore, where image is predicated of hypostasis, that hypostasis must have both body and form. The Father-Spirit, unveiled, is, then, a bodily form; and as all things are "out of Him," He is the focal centre of the universe, from which irradiates whatever exists. (Eureka by Dr. Thomas)

God’s holy SPIRIT emanates from His substance (Hypostasis) his body or divine nature. This helps us to understand the statement in The Apocryphon of John which says the Monad is both corporeal and none incorporeal at the same time: 

"The One is not corporeal and is not incorporeal." (The Apocryphon of John)

Tertullian notes that "This for certain is He who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, In what form of God? Of course he means in some form, not none. For who will deny that God is a body although God is a spirit? (John 4:24). For spirit has a bodily substance of its own kind, in its own form. Whatever therefore, was the substance of the Word that I designate a person, I claim for it the name of Son; while I recognize the Son, I assert the distinction as second to the Father." Now interestingly, in the footnote, the editors themselves note "This doctrine of the soul's corporeality in a certain sense is treated by Tertullian in his "De Ressur. Carn" xvii and "De Anima" v. By Tertullian, spirit and soul were considered identical." (ANF, Vol. 3, p. 467).

God is spirit but this is not a disembodied spirit it is in fact spirit embodied

Clement talked about angels, archangels and , First-Created (Exc.10:1,5) in the following Extracts from the Works of Theodotus: 10, 11, 12 and 14. Exc. 10

Extracts from the Works of Theodotus

10 But not even the world of spirit and of intellect, nor the archangels and the First-Created, no, nor even he himself is shapeless and formless and without figure, and incorporeal; but he also has his own shape and body corresponding to his preeminence over all spiritual beings, as also those who were first created have bodies corresponding to their preeminence over the beings subordinate to them. For, in general, that which has come into being is not unsubstantial, but they have form and body, though unlike the bodies in this world......– but they “always behold the face of the Father” and the face of the Father is the Son, through whom the Father is known. Yet that which sees and is seen cannot be formless or incorporeal. But they see not with an eye of sense, but with the eye of mind, such as the Father provided. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotus)

14 The demons are said to be incorporeal, not because they have no bodies (for they have even shape and are, therefore, capable of feeling punishment), but they are said to be incorporeal because, in comparison with the spiritual bodies which are saved, they are a shade. And the angels are bodies; at any rate they are seen. Why even the soul is a body, for the Apostle says, “It is sown a body of soul, it is raised a body of spirit.” And how can the souls which are being punished be sensible of it, if they are not bodies? Certainly he says, “Fear him who, after death, is able to cast soul and body into hell.” Now that which is visible is not purged by fire, but is dissolved into dust. But, from the story of Lazarus and Dives, the soul is directly shown by its possession of bodily limbs to be a body. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotus)

These two quotations from the Works of Theodotus shows that Valentinians understood the soul to be the natural body and that spiritual beings are Corporeal

If God is not a real, personal being, then the concept of spirituality is hard to wrestle with. If God is totally righteous but is not a material being, then we cannot really conceive of His righteousness manifested in human beings. However, once we appreciate that there is a personal being called God, then we can work on our characters, with His help and the influence of His word, to reflect the characteristics of God in our beings.

God's purpose is to reveal Himself in a multitude of glorified beings. His memorial name, Jehovah Elohim, indicates this ('He who shall be mighty ones', is an approximate translation). If God is not a corporeal being, then the reward of the faithful is to have a non-physical existence like God. But the descriptions of the reward of the faithful in God's coming Kingdom on earth show that they will have a tangible, bodily existence, although no longer subject to the weaknesses of human nature.

The faithful are promised that they will inherit God's nature (2 Peter 1:4). If God is not a person then this means we will live eternally as immaterial spirits. But this is not Bible teaching. We will be given a body like that of Jesus (Phil. 3:21), and we know that he will have a literal body in the Kingdom which will have hands, eyes and ears (Zech. 13:6; Isa. 11:3). The doctrine of the person of God is therefore related to the Gospel of the Kingdom.

It should be evident that there can be no sensible concept of worship, or personal relationship with God until it is appreciated that God is a person, that we are in His image physically, although a very imperfect image, and need to develop His mental image so that we may take on the fulnlless of His physical image in the Kingdom of God.

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