“O father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory i had with you before the world was,” john 17.5.
before the world was. what was before the world was? no one can really tell. none except him who was or who already existed then.
we cannot describe it as “a time” because time never existed then; as time began when the world began.
we can only describe it as existence, being, and life in the most absolute sense of the word; because it is thence that all other existence, being, and life derive.
sometimes i wonder — it amazes me — how a human being with an average mass of less than a hundred kilograms, and a brain with an average mass of a lot less — one kilogram — would attempt to fathom the indescribable abyss into that existence and being that was before the world was: eternity.
but God stoops down to accommodate his unfathomable existence and being to our frail and puny human minds by saying in one place through one of his prophets, “he inhabits eternity;” as if eternity were a distinct place of abode from his being and essence who inhabits it, “the high and lofty one, whose name is holy.”
that which was before the world was is made known to us as “the word,” john 1.1. it is by no means the nature or essence of his existence and being, but how our minds are to accommodate the unfathomable truth. as the word reveals and communicates, so it is through him (made known as a distinct person) that true and reliable knowledge of what is beyond the world before the world was is transmitted.
glory. “the glory i had with you before the world was.”
the sun is the most glorious being the naked human eye can experience. but light, and effulgence of light is what only makes the sun glorious. apart from light and the effulgence of light the sun emits, it loses all glory.
“the bright blessed day” is illumined by the light of the glorious sun; “the dark sacred night,” by the sun’s moonlight reflection and the twinkling of innumerable distant suns.
light is glory. glory is light. God dwells in “unapproachable light.”
light reveals. light dispels darkness. light communicates heat. light sustains life. God’s knowledge is glorious. God’s holiness is glorious. God’s righteousness is glorious. God’s grace is glorious.
i had with you. “the glory i had with you before the world was.”
it is virtually impossible to conceive of a relationship without imagining two distinct persons involved. it is excruciatingly difficult enough for the human mind to conceive of what was before the world was — eternity; it becomes exponentially so to conceive of a relationship involving two distinct persons in that unfathomable existence and being before the world was.
but what we need to know (saving knowledge;) the truth which has been accommodated to our infantile minds, is that, the relationship intimated is both an equality in essence and being, and a subordination in function and office.
“father-son” is a word-pair that intimates both ideas, viz, equality in essence and being (same glorious nature,) and subordination in function and office (different gracious operations.) once again, the relationship depicted or illustrated does not describe the nature and essence of his existence and being; but what we need to know, ie, true and reliable revelation about what was before the world was.
the father-son relationship began when cain and abel were born to adam. the analogy is an accommodation for our finite, infantile minds to understand what God had predetermined before the world was; when it all unfolded. there was no father-son relationship before the world was, ie, in essence, nature, existence, and being — there was only one God in three distinct persons, full of glory, full of life, full of light, and full of mystery.