The Pre-Incarnate Son

Throughout the Old Testament, we encounter a mysterious figure referred to as “the angel of the LORD” (Genesis 16:7), “the word of the LORD” (15:1 NASB; Jeremiah 1:4 NASB), or even the “presence” of the LORD (Exodus 33:14). This figure sometimes takes human form (Genesis 16:7), comes as a voice from heaven (22:11), or appears as a flame of fire (Exodus 3:2). In these cases, this “angel of the LORD” is the visible and/or audible representative of God, the “spokesperson” of the Trinity. We know from later revelation in Scripture that this person of the Godhead is God the Son.

Though some have identified “the angel of the LORD” as a mere created, angelic being sent by God as an emissary or a stand-in, Scripture identifies this figure with the divine name Yahweh (LORD) or God (Exodus 3:2–6; Judges 6:14). We shouldn’t let the English translation of “angel” confuse us. The Hebrew word used here, malach, simply means “messenger,” so “messenger of Yahweh” in this sense means the member of the Godhead whose role is to reveal God’s messages to people.

In the New Testament, when John described Jesus as “the Word” of God, who is distinct from God the Father but also fully God (John 1:1–3), the apostle was likely drawing on the Old Testament figure of “the angel of the LORD” and “word of the LORD.” The conclusion, therefore, is that this mysterious figure of the Old Testament is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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Michael J. Svigel received his master of theology in New Testament and doctor of philosophy in Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). He currently serves as associate professor of Theological Studies at DTS, teaching Theology and Church History. Prior to accepting his position at the seminary in 2007, he worked as a writer in the Creative Ministries Department at Insight for Living Ministries. Mike and his wife, Stephanie, are parents of three children.