The Dynamic Personality of the Bible’s Author
“For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.”—1 Cor. 2:16.
1. Why is a study of the Creator’s personality of the greatest benefit?
WHEN we speak of the personality of an individual, we have in mind the various qualities and characteristics that make him a separate individual, for no two people are alike. The study of personalities of the human family is always interesting, though not always helpful, depending on the motive; but the study of the Creator’s wondrous personality is of the greatest interest and help. It brings the greatest rewards. It helps us to understand his way of doing things and to appreciate his way of expressing himself in his Word, the Bible. In turn, as we more fully comprehend and admire that fine Personality, through the study of his works and his Word, it makes us want to be like him, in his image, as far as lies within us. This is an excellent thing, for as we seek to conform our own personality to be in close harmony with his, it ensures for us his favor and blessing, and that means for us life in perfect happiness.
2. In what respects was man made in God’s image, and how does this throw light on the personality of man?
2 This line of reasoning has Scriptural support. Did not the Creator, Jehovah God, say: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness”? Did he not then say to man: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection” all the lower creation? For the human family to increase and live together as a great society, and at the same time exercise and maintain this dominion, would certainly require a measure of the qualities and characteristics seen in Jehovah himself. Personality is made up of our reasoning powers, and how we use and develop them, along with our heartfelt feelings and longings and resolves. It is a cause for endless wonder that Jehovah has so made man that, though such a tiny speck on a tiny planet, he is, nevertheless, a marvelous replica, on a minute scale, of the great Creator who exercises universal dominion.—Gen. 1:26-28.
3. (a) How is it possible for us to make a study of the Creator? (b) What help does John’s Gospel give regarding this?
3 It would be presumption for frail, imperfect humans to speak of studying the personality of the One who is the “King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,” and who has “established his throne in the very heavens,” were it not that Jehovah, in more than one way, has made it possible. The most wonderful way in which he has done this has been in the sending of his Son to earth, to live among us for a while as a man. John makes this clear in his Gospel. He tells us about Jesus in his prehuman existence, then known as “the Word,” and rightly called “a god,” a mighty one, for “all things came into existence through him.” Then, after telling how “the Word became flesh,” he says: “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him.” We could not wish for a finer help in our study than this introduction to the one who enjoyed such a close relationship with his Father, and who came to earth so that he could explain him to us.—1 Tim. 1:17; Ps. 103:19; John 1:1, 3, 14, 18.
4. What enlightenment on this is given at Proverbs 8:22-31?
4 This happy relationship is also beautifully described at Proverbs 8:22-31. After describing the initial preparations for earth’s creation, God’s Son, the Word, says: “Then I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day, . . . and the things I was fond of were with the sons of men.” What an appealing picture of family life, with a Father specially fond of his Son, and the Son, in turn, very fond of that which we know is now given into his care by his Father, those things bound up with the human family. To be assured of this one’s friendly interest on our behalf is a real encouragement, and we look forward to becoming more fully acquainted with him.
5. (a) How can Jesus’ personality be summarized, and why must we be careful in defining the terms “dynamic” and “mild”? (b) What fine contrast is seen in Jesus, and how is it demonstrated?
5 As we read about Jesus in the Scriptures, what are our impressions? He was dynamic, yet mild. By general standards this seems impossible. We usually think of a dynamic person as being forceful, ambitious, overriding and impatient of anyone getting in his way, whereas we think of a mild person as being placid, not holding very strong opinions, and ready to give way for the sake of peace, rather than stand up for what is right. Due to imperfection, our various characteristics are not properly balanced and tend to go to extremes, but this is not so with one who is perfect, as was Jesus. That which perhaps gives us the best key to his personality is the word spoken prophetically of him by David, and quoted by Paul at Hebrews 1:9, where we read: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.” (See Psalm 45:7.) Jesus was and is a great lover of righteousness, including a deep and tender love for those who, though imperfect, sincerely strive after righteousness. To such he is mild, peaceable, friendly and very patient. At the same time he has a strong hatred for all that is lawless, including those who prove they are willfully committed to their evil ways. As he expressed scathing denunciation for the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, who relentlessly showed murderous hostility toward “that holy and righteous one,” so he likewise expresses himself to that same class today, saying: “Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Acts 3:14; Matt. 7:23; 23:13-39) Jesus’ personality does not change. He is the “same yesterday and today, and forever.” Thus there is exemplified in Jesus the same balanced contrast as seen in Jehovah, and also as demonstrated by Jehovah’s people today, the fierceness of a lion, coupled with the mildness of refreshing dew.—Heb. 13:8; Mic. 5:7, 8.
6. How did Jesus express himself to his friends, and on what basis?
6 But how does all this help in gaining a better understanding of God’s written Word? Well, the Bible was written for the benefit of God’s friends, not his enemies. It is worth noting how Jesus spoke to his friends when on earth. What was their impression of him? It is very evident that, though acknowledged as their “Teacher” and “Lord,” he did not hold himself aloof, or overawe them, intimidating them. (John 13:13) Instead, he brought them into close union with himself and made them feel at home in his presence. His manner and way of speaking contributed to that end. They found his presence refreshing, and Jesus himself gave the reason for this, saying: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you . . . for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart.”—Matt. 11:28, 29.
7. How does this help in gaining a better appreciation of God’s Word?
7 As Jesus spoke to his friends, so Jehovah speaks to his friends through his Word. His Word is charged with his intense and strong personality, yet mild-tempered; hence its style. Though fully accurate, scientifically and otherwise, it is not written in precise, technical terms, so that not even a critic could find any cause for complaint or stumbling. On the contrary, it is full of human imagery and illustrations, things that stir the imagination and appeal to the heart.
8. What Scriptural instances can be cited of personality being imputed, and with what benefit?
8 One interesting proof of this in the Bible is seen in the way in which personality is imputed to things that, in themselves, are not persons. This is often done in human speech, imparting a liveliness and dynamic force. For instance, we often talk about a particular plant liking a certain kind of soil, as if a plant has personality with its likes and dislikes. Jesus spoke in the same way. In a forceful, illustrative way, he said: “I am the door of the sheep.” Still more forcefully, looking at the cup of wine in his hand, he said: “This means [is] my ‘blood.’” And, in the way of imputing personality, he said respecting the holy spirit: “That one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” The apostle Paul did the same with regard to God’s Word itself, speaking as if it were dynamically alive, saying: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” How forceful and how salutary!—John 10:7; Matt. 26:28; John 14:26; Heb. 4:12.
9. (a) What benefits are gained from the way in which the Bible has been written? (b) Why are the critics unjustified and proved wrong in their attitude? (c) What is the right attitude, and what are the results it brings to us?
9 No, the holy spirit and God’s Word are not persons in themselves, but, so to speak, they are both charged with his personality. That is why Paul could say: “Do not be grieving God’s holy spirit.” We can also grieve God’s Word if we go contrary to it, and can endanger ourselves and others if we mishandle that sharp, living sword. This is where we realize the benefit of the Bible in being written in the way decided on by its Author. It reflects his personality and brings him nearer to us, and enables us to get a better appreciation of him. We would not want it otherwise. Why should Jehovah accommodate his style of expressing himself to suit the critics? Even we, ordinary men and women, in many cases brought up in the doctrines of Christendom, got our eyes opened to the truth when it was explained to us from the Scriptures. The critics could also get their eyes opened if they were not so wise in their own wisdom. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their own cunning.’” We must keep truly humble and teachable, ‘conscious of our spiritual need.’ (Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 3:19; Matt. 5:3; John 17:17) Then we will be willing to be taught, “not with words taught by human wisdom,” but by the One appointed by God, the living Word, Jesus Christ, who always taught according to the written Word, the Bible. Thus, with the aid of God’s spirit, we shall come to “have the mind of Christ” and shall come to “know the things that have been kindly given us by God.”—Rev. 19:13; 1 Cor. 2:12, 16.
TWO REASONS FOR A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE
10. (a) How can true religion be defined, but how has Christendom proved false in this? (b) How is the true religion expressed today?
10 There are two reasons why it is good to have a right understanding and appreciation of both the Bible and its Author. First, it gives us a correct picture of the true religion. The true religion is a religion of action. It is not passive, which is the impression given by Christendom in the routine way in which the Bible is generally read in the churches, clothed in black and keeping to archaic English. As a result, those who attend church get the idea that the hallmark of a Christian is respectability. Of course a Christian should be exemplary in all his conduct and ministry, but when that new movement started, with Jesus as its leader, it did not win popularity, either in his day or after Pentecost, because of the good behavior and restraint of its members. They were commissioned and empowered to be busy with a forceful message and witness, commencing in Jerusalem and spreading to “the most distant part of the earth.” Even more so today, the message of the established kingdom must be “preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” before the end of this system of things. Those who have a hearing ear do not hear just a pleading appeal, as expressed in the Authorized Version: “Come out of her [Babylon], my people.” Instead, they get the impact of the urgent, imperative command, as accurately expressed in our New World Translation: “Get out of her, my people”! Those who have a hearing ear take action by forsaking Christendom and fleeing to Zion, God’s organization. Those of that organization, the faithful remnant of the true church with the heavenly hope, are blessed, as was Jesus, with the “oil of exultation,” Jehovah’s spirit. You will find their fellowship a great help and stimulus in ‘putting on the new personality’ and enjoying an active share in the true religion.—Acts 1:8; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 18:4; Isa. 61:3; Eph. 4:24.
11. How does Revelation, chapters 1-3, provide special help for us today?
11 In the opening chapters of Revelation we find the second reason for seeking a true evaluation of Jehovah and his Word. We find there detailed information that sets the pattern in helping us to conform our personalities in harmony with the Word and its Author, giving us a clearer insight and keener incentive to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. Jesus foresaw the conditions in the world at this time of the end and the consequent trials and tests that would come upon his followers. He therefore gave John a message for each of seven congregations. These messages, while appropriate locally in John’s day, have their real meaning and force for all the congregations of true Christians in this, the “Lord’s day.” (Rev. 1:10) While given primarily to those with the heavenly hope (for all the promises therein are heavenly), the various conditions described, coupled with the warnings and counsel given by Jesus, apply equally to those dedicated servants of God who have an earthly hope in God’s kingdom.
12. (a) What special needs are emphasized in the messages to the seven churches? (b) What comprises the new personality?
12 While the promises vary, note the same appeal in each message: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says.” Note also the condition that must be met, not collectively, but individually, when it says at the end of each message: “To him that conquers . . .” This is coupled with the word “endurance,” occurring several times in these messages, together with such expressions as: “Prove yourself faithful even to death,” and “keep on holding fast.” To hold fast and endure and conquer decidedly calls for a strong personality. This is not a matter of outward show, but there must be a fixed determination, arising out of a deep appreciation and love for Jehovah, a wholehearted resolve to live for him and do his will. Christ Jesus, who always delighted to do his Father’s will, set the perfect pattern, and it is God’s will that we should be “patterned after the image of his Son.” This also means in God’s image, as again Paul said: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.” What does this mean in detail? Listen! “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. . . . But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” Strong-minded, yes, but there is no room here for being domineering. It is a question of having the right motive.—Rev. 2:7, 10, 13, 19; 3:11; Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10-14.
13. (a) How can we acquire a godly personality? (b) In this respect, how is Paul a good example?
13 It is only through an accurate knowledge of the Scriptures that we can appreciate and acquire the proper balance and fine contrast of the various qualities and characteristics that make up a godly personality. The apostle Paul himself serves as a good illustration. Before he became a Christian he was certainly dynamic, but, being blind to the truth, he was off balance and, as he himself says, he was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” After getting his eyes opened, and for the rest of his life, he was still dynamic, but with a different motive, and now beautifully balanced, as shown by what he writes to the Thessalonians: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” Ah! yes, there is the difference. He was now motivated by the spirit of unselfish and loving devotion.—1 Tim. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:7, 8.
14. How can our personality be remade in God’s image?
14 Whatever your former disposition, you need not be discouraged. The fatherly Creator who said to his Son: “Let us make man in our image,” can create in you a “new personality” in their image. How? By the transforming influence of God’s spirit, the “force actuating your mind,” and through the influence of the written Word. The more you realize and are convinced that the entire Bible is of single, divine Authorship, the more you will appreciate the grand personality of its Author, Jehovah. In turn, that will help you to “put on the new personality . . . created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Gen. 1:26; Eph. 4:23, 24.