Many cannot understand how the Spirit of Christ can be the Archangel and the man Christ Jesus. This is because they do not understand the meaning of “manifest in the flesh” that Paul explained in 1 Timothy 3:16, and Philippians 2:8.
First, we need to understand that a spirit can be in more than one place at a time. In 1 Kings, Micaiah related a vision of a spirit who agreed to be a lying spirit in the mouth all Ahab’s prophets (1 Kings 22:22). Peter said the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of Israel (1 Peter 1:10-11); and Paul called Christ “the spiritual drink,” that the Israelites drank (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus Himself said, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
A spirit can also appear in different imagery. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of Christ appeared as an Angel, and in the form of God.
Found in Appearance as a Man
In Philippians 2:8, the Apostle Paul explained that the Spirit of Christ was “found in appearance as a man.” In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul said Christ was “manifest in the flesh.” The word “manifest” simply means “revealed” in the flesh.
The Spirit of Christ continued to exist elsewhere, while revealed as the Son of man. The same Holy Spirit was in John the Baptist, and appeared to Joseph as the Angel of the Lord, while Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus.
Greek grammar requires the translation of Matthew 1:20, Acts 5:19, 8:26, and 12:7 as “the Angel of the Lord,” with the same meaning that it had in the Old Testament. The Angel of the Lord in Acts 8:26 was called “the Spirit” in Acts 8:29, and “the Spirit of the Lord” in Acts 8:39.
The Different Manifestations of the Spirit
In the first Chapter of Revelation, the Spirit of Christ appeared as the Angel of God, the Son of Man, the image of the invisible God, and the body of Christ.
But, perhaps the most revealing passages are those where Christ and God appear together.
Daniel recorded a vision of the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13). We think these are two different persons. But in the first Chapter of Revelation the Spirit of Christ appeared as both the Ancient of Days, and the Son of man, proving that the Spirit of Christ appeared as both the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days in Daniel’s vision.
In Revelation Chapters four and five, John saw a vision of God with the rainbow over His head, and the Lamb of God took the scroll from His right hand. But in Revelation 10, the Spirit of Christ, as the Angel of God, appeared with the Rainbow over His head, to prove again that He appeared as both the image of the invisible God and the Son of Man, in Revelation Chapter 4.
All of this was understood by the early Church.
The Understanding of the Early Church
The Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas were two Books written in about 100, and included in our oldest complete copy of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus.
The Epistle of Barnabas used the expression “manifest in the flesh” seven times; and writes, “those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw…for He was about to be manifest in the flesh” (Barnabas 6:14).
The Shepherd of Hermas described the Spirit who spoke in the form of a Church, saying, “the Holy Spirit that spoke to you in the form of a Church…that Spirit is the Son of God”(Parable 9:1).
The Loss of the Truth
After the establishment of the Trinity doctrine, the text of 1 Timothy 3:16 was changed to read “God was manifest in the flesh,” and the true understanding of the Spirit of Christ was lost.
Experts agree that the Fifth Century Codex Alexandrinus was altered by someone, who saw an ink bleed in the “Omicron,” and drew a line on top of the Omicron and Sigma, changing WHO into “God.”
Today, we have 13 manuscripts and translations of 1 Timothy 3:16, that are all written before the 7th Century, and all read “WHO, or WHICH was manifest in the flesh.”