First, it's been awhile since I've blogged about the Epistle to Diognetus. For newer ricoblog readers (and there are a few of you), in the past I used the Epistle to Diognetus as "blog fodder". Since it's been so long, here's a recap of the previous major posts:
So now I'm on EpDiog 8. The author is continuing in his argument disputing the pagan conception of God. God is not equivalent with some element (fire, water, or some other element, cf EpDiog 8.2). These things should not make up our conception of God. Instead, claims the author, God reveals Himself to us. This is noted in EpDiog 8.5-6:
For no one either saw him or made him known, but he revealed himself. And he revealed himself through faith, through which alone is one permitted to see God. (EpDiog 8.5-6, Ehrman's version)
The author is emphatic on this point. Check out the beginning of v. 5 in the Greek:
ἀνθρώπων δὲ οὐδεὶς οὔτε εἶδεν οὔτε ἐγνώρισεν
Next the author explains the process of the revelation of God's plan of salvation. He sees the plan of salvation as known from before time and shared only within the Godhead. We get this in EpDiog 8.9-10:
And when he [God] had a great and inexpressible thought, he communicated it to his child alone. And so, as long as he enshrouded it in a mystery and kept his wise plan to himself, he seemed not to care for us or give us any heed. (EpDiog 8.9-10, Ehrman's version)
In the above, "his child" is Jesus Christ. This is speaking of communication between the Father and Son. The author's point here is that just because nobody knew exactly how God's plan would work prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ His Son, that doesn't mean that the plan hadn't been made ages beforehand. It doesn't mean that God disregarded man until Jesus Christ came. Instead, says the author, God (who, recall, transcends time) established the plan and "communicated" it to His Son. When the part of the plan that involved the arrival of Jesus Christ on earth was put into action is when the exact details were made known to us:
But when he [God] revealed it through his beloved child and showed the things prepared from the beginning, he shared all things with us at once, that we might participate in and see and understand his kindly acts. Who among us would have ever expected these things? (EpDiog 8.11, Ehrman's version).
The last sentence hits me. "Who among us would have ever expected these things?" Yes, how true. I'm getting off track now, but I'm going to run with it. The Jews during the time of Jesus' sojourn on earth had their own conception of a Messiah, and Jesus didn't necessarily match those expectations. A national king, arriving in power and conquering? Nope. A mighty prophet with miraculous signs and wonders who would do incredible things? Well, yes, but He was more than a prophet. He was prophet, priest and king (read Hebrews) perfect in every way and the very Son of God. Fully God and fully man. And instead of restoring a national people to primacy in a particular geo-political region, He conquered sin and death so that those who believe in Him -- Jew or Gentile -- can have fellowship with God. Now that's restoration. Praise God!
And now I'm way off track, but that's OK. I wonder, how many of us have firm and perhaps inviolate expectations of what the return of Christ will be like? When he arrived as a baby, born in Bethlehem, he didn't really match the expectations of the arrival of the Messiah from the common Jewish perspective. But he was (and is), nonetheless. I wonder how different our expectations of the second coming of Christ are from how it will actually happen?
So, to get back on track, "Who among us would have ever expected these things?" Not too many of us. Mary & Joseph had a little warning. John the Baptist too, I suppose. But could they have understood the events that were to happen 30 years or so after Jesus was born? Did they expect to see what actually occurred? Even the apostles were surprised by the event of Jesus' crucifixion, amazed at his resurrection, and blown aback by the arrival of the Holy Spirit.
God, in His wisdom, provided a solution for sin that appeased his justice and wrath (or better, 'propitiated' his wrath). It was the most costly solution and the most effective. And when He put it into motion He revealed Himself to us. And it still blows my mind, 2000 years later.
Next up: EpDiog 9. I don't know when that'll be, though.