Ellett Joseph Waggoner E. J. Waggoner (1855 – 1916)


In arguing the perfect equality of the Father and the Son, and the fact that Christ is in very nature God, we do not design to be understood as teaching that the Father was not before the Son. It should not be necessary to guard this point, lest some should think that the Son existed as soon as the Father; yet some go to that extreme, which adds nothing to the dignity of Christ, but rather detracts from the honor due him, since many throw the whole thing away rather than accept a theory so obviously out of harmony with the language of Scripture, that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since this is so “it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Col. 1:19 … While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, while Christ’s personality had a beginning “ (E. J. Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889)

Note: At the 1888 General Conference Session, A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner presented a series of presentations on Christ and His righteousness. Ellen White wrote, “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.” (Ellen White, 1888 Materials, p. 1336)

Shortly after 1888 E. J. Waggoner took the notes from his presentations, and printed them as a book, entitled, Christ and His Righteousness. Of these presentations, Ellen White wrote, “That which has been presented harmonizes perfectly with the light which God has been pleased to give me during all the years of my experience.” (Ellen White, 1888 Materials, p. 164) Many of the following quotations are taken from this book.

“The Word was “in the beginning.” The mind of man cannot grasp the ages that are spanned in this phrase. It is not given to men to know when or how the Son was begotten; but we know that he was the Divine Word, not simply before He came to this earth to die, but even before the world was created. Just before His crucifixion He prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” John 17:5. And more than seven hundred years before His first advent, His coming was thus foretold by the word of inspiration: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. We know that Christ “proceeded forth and came from God” (John 8:42), but it was so far back in the ages of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man.” (E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 9)

“This name was not given to Christ in consequence of some great achievement, but it is His by right of inheritance. Speaking of the power and greatness of Christ, the writer to the Hebrews says that He is made so much better than the angels, because “He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Heb. 1:4. A son always rightfully takes the name of the father; and Christ, as “the only begotten Son of God,” has rightfully the same name. A son, also, is, to a greater or less degree, a reproduction of the father; he has to some extent the features and personal characteristics of his father; not perfectly, because there is no perfect reproduction among mankind. But there is no imperfection in God, or in any of His works, and so Christ is the “express image” of the Father’s person. Heb. 1:3. As the Son of the self-existent God, He has by nature all the attributes of Deity.

“It is true that there are many sons of God, but Christ is the “only begotten Son of God,” and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was or ever can be. The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7; Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14, 15), but Christ is the Son of God by birth. The writer to the Hebrews further shows that the position of the Son of God is not one to which Christ has been elevated but that it is one which He has by right. He says that Moses was faithful in all the house of God, as a servant, “but Christ as a Son over His own house.” Heb. 3:6. And he also states that Christ is the Builder of the house. Verse 3. It is He that builds the temple of the Lord and bears the glory. Zech. 6:12, 13. “ (E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 11-13)

“And declared to be the Son of God, …by the resurrection from the dead.” THIS MUST NOT BE UNDERSTOOD as meaning that Jesus was not the Son of God before His resurrection, nor that He was not declared to be the Son of God before that time. We well know that He was the Son of God before the world was, and He was then glorified with the glory of the Father. It was as the dearly-beloved, only-begotten Son of God that Christ came to this earth. — E. J. Waggoner, “The Power of Christ,” The Present Truth – July 16, 1891

Christ as a Creator

“A word of caution may be necessary here. Let no one imagine that we would exalt Christ at the expense of the Father or would ignore the Father. That cannot be, for their interests are one. We honor the Father in honoring the Son. We are mindful of Paul’s words, that “to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Cor. 8:6); just as we have already quoted, that it was by Him that God made the worlds. All things proceed ultimately from God, the Father; even Christ Himself proceeded and came forth from the Father, but it has pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell, and that He should be the direct, immediate Agent in every act of creation. Our object in this investigation is to set forth Christ’s rightful position of equality with the Father, in order that His power to redeem may be the better appreciated.” ((E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 19.1)

Is Christ a Created Being?

“Before passing to some of the practical lessons that are to be learned from these truths, we must dwell for a few moments upon an opinion that is honestly held by many who would not for any consideration willingly dishonor Christ, but who, through that opinion, do actually deny His Divinity. It is the idea that Christ is a created being, who, through the good pleasure of God, was elevated to His present lofty position. No one who holds this view can possibly have any just conception of the exalted position which Christ really occupies.

“The view in question is built upon a misconception of a single text, Rev. 3:14: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things
saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.” This is wrongly interpreted to mean that Christ is the first being that God created—that God’s work of creation began with Him. But this view antagonizes the scripture which declares that Christ Himself created all things. To say that God began His work of creation by creating Christ is to leave Christ entirely out of the work of creation.

“The word rendered “beginning” is arche, meaning, as well, “head” or “chief.” It occurs in the name of the Greek ruler, Archon, in archbishop and the word archangel. Take this last word. Christ is the archangel. See Jude 9; 1 Thess. 4:16; John 5:28, 29; Dan. 10:21. This does not mean that He is the first of the angels, for He is not an angel but is above them. Heb. 1:4. It means that He is the chief or prince of the angels, just as an archbishop is the head of the bishops. Christ is the commander of the angels. See Rev. 19:14-19. He created the angels. Col. 1:16. And so the statement that He is the beginning or head of the creation of God means that in Him creation had its beginning; that, as He Himself says, He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Rev. 21:6; 22:13. He is the source whence all things have their origin.

“Neither should we imagine that Christ is a creature, because Paul calls Him (Col. 1:15) “The First-born of every creature” for the very next verses show Him to be Creator and not a creature. “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Now if He created everything that was ever created and existed before all created things, it is evident that He Himself is not among created things. He is above all creation and not a part of it.

“The Scriptures declare that Christ is “the only begotten son of God.” He is begotten, not created. As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. The prophet Micah tells us all that we can know about it in these words, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.

“But the point is that Christ is a begotten Son and not a created subject. He has by inheritance a more excellent name than the angels; He is “a Son over His own house.” Heb. 1:4; 3:6. And since He is the only-begotten son of God, He is of the very substance and nature of God and possesses by birth all the attributes of God, for the Father was pleased that His Son should be the express image of His Person, the brightness of His glory, and filled with all the fullness of the Godhead. So He has “life in Himself.” He possesses immortality in His own right and can confer immortality upon others. Life inheres in Him, so that it cannot be taken from Him, but having voluntarily laid it down, He can take it again. His words are these: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” John 10:17, 18. (E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 19-22)

“Finally, we know the Divine unity of the Father and the Son from the fact that both have the same Spirit. Paul, after saying that they that are in the flesh cannot please God, continues: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Rom. 8:9. Here we find that the Holy Spirit is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.…” (E. J. Waggoner, 1890, Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 23, 24)

“He is better than the angels, because HE IS UNCREATED, BEGOTTEN SON, THE CREATOR. To Him, and not to the angels, has it been said, “Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies – Thy footstool.” Nevertheless the angels are not insignificant beings, since they have the speed and strength of the winds, and the brightness and swiftness of the lightning. These glorious beings are content to be servants to mortals who are heirs of salvation, since it is the will of the Master.” {PTUK August 26, 1897, p. 531.1} E. J. Waggoner

“Jesus is the Comforter. “If any man sin, we have a Comforter with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1 r.v., margin.) (E.J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant, p. 302)

“In the Beginning.”-The Word, the only begotten Son of God, was “in the beginning.” When was that?-It cannot be located. Let the mind run back to “the beginning” when God created the heavens and earth, and there we see Him. Just before His crucifixion Jesus prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” John 17:5. If we could find the beginning of all created things, “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers,” we should still see that “He is before all things.” Colossians 1:16, 17. Yes, He Himself is “the beginning of the creation of God.” Revelation 3:14. Finite minds can never span the space between “the beginning” when the Word was with God, and the present time; His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” even “from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, and margin. He is “from everlasting to everlasting.” {PTUK October 24, 1895, p. 673.3}

The Word of Wisdom.-Jesus Christ is the One “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2, 3. He is “the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Verse 22. The Hebrew word here rendered “possess,” is the same as that rendered “gotten” in Genesis 4:1, where we read that Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Christ is the only begotten Son of God. In Proverbs 8:22 there is no preposition in the original, so that a more proper rendering of the verse would be, “The Lord possessed Me, the beginning of His way, before His works of old.” This is indicated in the margin of the Revised Version. Christ was not only in the beginning, but He “is the beginning,” (Colossians 1:18) even the beginning of the way of the Father. Without Him there was nothing. {PTUK October 24, 1895, p. 673.4}

“The Word Was God.”-“Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:4.The Son must inherit the name and titles and estate of the Father. Whatever titles belong to God the Father belong equally to Christ. They are His by right. By birth He is “heir of all things.” The Apostle Paul writes of the glorious appearing “of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13. The Father Himself addresses the Son as God, saying to Him, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Hebrews 1:8.
{PTUK October 24, 1895, p. 673.5}

Source: http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/PT/PT18951024-V11-43.pdf

Fourth Commandment

Is it a Sin? E. J. Waggoner Bible Echo and Signs of the Times – February 1, 1890 The fourth commandment is the one chosen to make known to men who the maker of the law is. It is true that three other commandments contain the word “God,” but they do not designate who is referred to. “There be gods many and lords many; but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” 1 Cor. 8:5, 6. The fourth commandment expressly declares that this only true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is its author.Front Page Editorial

God the Almighty One

E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth – Sept. 10, 1896 / Signs of the Times July 8, 1897

“God the Almighty One. — That is to say, he has all might. Therefore no other being possesses any might in himself. Because God possesses all the power in the universe, Christ, the only-begotten Son, could say, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”


“In these texts we have the truth set forth that Jesus “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14), and that it is by a practical belief in HIS ETERNAL NATURE that we are saved from dying in our sins. The power by which we are saved, is the power of a SELF-EXISTENT LIFE. Christ is the One who was-His goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity. Micah 5:2, margin. He is the One who is-“He ever liveth.” And He is the One who is to come-“Behold, I come quickly. {E.J. Waggoner, PTUK December 17, 1896, p. 807.10}

“I AM—.” Fill out the blank with any good thing you please, and that is Christ, but yet only in part, for no one but Himself can fill it out. That blank indicates infinity and eternity. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I am the root of the offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Door,” “I am the resurrection and the life.” Yea, all we need, and more than we can ask or think, we find in Him; and it is His cross, His being lifted up from the earth, that makes us know these things. Therefore, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” {E.J. Waggoner, PTUK December 17, 1896, p. 807.11}

Note: Notice the language used here, Christ has an eternal nature and self-existent life. He then links these things with Christ being the I AM. What’s significant here is that Waggoner was a non-trinitarian and believed in pre-incarnate Christ being “begotten” in eternity past and yet he had no problem espousing the eternality of the Son.

Signs of the Times, ‘The Divinity of Christ’ — E. J. Waggoner, March 25th 1889, April 1st & 8th 1889.

These articles were written in response to the Methodist, and below are some quotes from the pieces.

“But when the doctor [Briggs] states that Seventh-day Adventists deny the divinity of Christ, we know that he writes recklessly.”

“We are fully persuaded in our own mind that he [Briggs] knows better; but be that as it may, the statement has been made so often by men who professed to know whereof they were speaking, that many have come to believe it; and for their sakes, as well as for the benefit of those who may not have given the subject any thought, we purpose to set forth the truth.”

“We have no theory to bolster up, and so, instead of stating prepositions, we shall simply quote the word of God, and accept what it says.”

“We believe in the divinity of Christ, because the Bible says that Christ is God”

“The fact that Jesus is spoken of as the only begotten Son of God should be sufficient to establish a belief in his divinity. As the Son of God, he must partake of the nature of God.”

“Life and immortality are imparted to the faithful followers of God, but Christ alone shares with the Father the power to impart life. He has “life in himself ,” that is, he is able to perpetuate his own existence.”

“YOU ASK WHAT WE TEACH ABOUT THE TRINITY. INASMUCH AS WE FIND NO SUCH EXPRESSION IN THE SCRIPTURE, WE DO NOT TEACH ANYTHING ABOUT IT. BUT as to the Being of God,-the Godhead,-Divinity as revealed in the Father, the Word (the Son), and the Holy Spirit, we believe and teach just what the Bible says, and nothing else. No man can by searching find out God. No creature can understand the Almighty to perfection. The finite mind cannot comprehend infinity. THEREFORE, IN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE TRINITY, ABOUT THE NATURE OF GOD, CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ARE MANIFESTATIONS OF GROSS PRESUMPTION. (E.J. Waggoner “”The Editor’s Private Corner. The Spirit that Witnesses” The Present Truth 18, 6. 1902)

“Studies in the Gospel of John. Christ the Beginning” 

Excerpt from The Present Truth Vol. 14, 51.

E. J. Waggoner

Jesus Christ Himself is the Beginning. Col. i. 18. He is “the beginning of the creation of God.” Rev. iii. 14. He is the power of God, and “the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. i. 24. Therefore it is He who speaks in the eighth chapter of proverbs, saying, “I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love Me to inherit substance, and that I may fill their treasuries. The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Prov. viii. 20-23. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.4

On this last text it may be remarked that the words “set up” are from one Hebrew word meaning anointed, so that the meaning is the same as in the second psalm, “Yet have I set My name upon My holy hill of Zion.” The word is the same in the Hebrew, and it will be noticed in the margin we have “anointed” as the rendering of the Hebrew. Thus we learn that Christ was the anointed king before the earth existed. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.5

Moreover, the word “in” has really no place in the twentieth verse of Proverbs viii., as there is nothing in the Hebrew to indicate it. So we read, “The Lord possessed Me, the Beginning of His way, before His works of old.” Still further, it should be stated that the word “possessed” is the very same that occurs in Gen. iv. 1, where we read that on the birth of Cain, Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Therefore putting all these things together, we learn that Jesus was brought forth “from the days of eternity” Micah v. 2, margin), before anything was created, and that He Himself is the beginning of all the ways of God. He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Col. i. 15. He is the Beginning of everything. PTUK December 22, 1898, p. 803.6

E. J. Waggoner said to readers of Present Truth who asked if SDA’s believed the trinity doctrine (Waggoner was then its editor). Take note also that this was years after the Desire of Ages was published, also while Ellen White was alive (Waggoner was made the South England Conference President in 1902).

“You ask what we teach about the Trinity. Inasmuch as we find no such expression in the Scriptures, we do not teach anything
about it.
But as to the Being of God, – the Godhead, – Divinity as revealed in the Father, the Word (the Son), and the Holy Spirit, we believe and teach just what the Bible says, and nothing else. No man can by searching find out God. No creature can understand the Almighty to perfection. The finite mind cannot comprehend infinity. Therefore, in discussions about the Trinity, about the nature of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are manifestations of gross presumption.” (E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth February 6th 1902, ‘The Editor’s Private corner, ‘The Spirit that Witnesses’)

“If I knew what you meant by the term [trinity], I might tell you; but from the days of Athanasius until now all discussion about the Trinity has been an attempt to define the indefinable and the incomprehensible. Thousands have been put to death for not professing belief in a formula which even its professors could not comprehend, nor state in terms that anybody else could comprehend.” (E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth – British edition, 30th July 1903, ‘The editor’s private corner’)

Another reader who asked if SDA’s were trinitarian received this reply. This was in 1904

“While the Bible speaks clearly of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and tells us all we need to know, or can understand of their relation to one another, it does not define any of them within exact limits, as men have tried to do… God does not wish us to spend time in guessing at His Divine and Infinite Being.” (Present Truth, Questions and Bible Answers, March 10th 1904, page 149, ‘The Trinity’)

Almost two years later (in 1906), this answer was given to another question concerning the trinity:

“With regard to your further question concerning the Trinity, we shall better understand the Bible the more closely we hold to its teaching. The ideas of the Trinity which are found in the Creeds are human attempts to define an incomprehensible mystery, and bewilder rather than assist the mind… The truth concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is altogether too large to be bound about by any definitions that created minds can frame.” (Present Truth, January 11th 1906, ‘Questions and Bible Answers, ‘The Unpardonable Sin)

“Studies in the Gospel of John. Christ the Beginning”
E. J. Waggoner, Excerpt from The Present Truth December 22, 1898, Vol. 14, 51.