The Book of Enoch and the “Prototype” or “Chosen One” of God

                        In ancient Jewish literature before the time of Christ, there is                                                                                                                  evidence of the belief in a “Lesser Yahweh” – a Great Being                                                                                                                  who was “Second in Command” in the Universe.  The New                                                                                                                  Testament reveals this to have been the Christ.  The mystery                                                                                                                        of this super powerful Being is revealed in the book of Enoch,                                                                                                                   quoted by the apostle Jude.  Notice what Enoch wrote about                                                                                                                        this ancient Being!

William F. Dankenbring

            Fascinating insight into the existence of a super-powerful Being, who was also called the “Son of man,” long before there was a human being created, is found in the mysterious book of Enoch, the ancient man of God who “walked with God” (Gen.5:24), before the time of Noah and the Flood.

            In the scholarly volume entitled The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth, there are three books translated from ancient Middle Eastern languages, including the Ethiopian, which bear the name of Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam.  The Ethiopic book of Enoch is also known as I Enoch, and is the oldest of the three.  The ancient tradition of Enoch’s having walked with God, and then vanishing, because God “took Him,” gave rise in ancient times of many haggadic stories among the Jewish people. 

            The book of Enoch, or I Enoch, tells of God taking Enoch to heaven, either literally or more likely in a vision, where he was given insight into the secrets of the mysteries of the Universe, as well as a glimpse into the future of mankind, and the ultimate divine judgment.

            The original language of the book of Enoch is believed by some scholars to have been Hebrew; others think it was Aramaic, a language closely related to Hebrew, and still others partly Hebrew and partly Aramaic.  Parts of the book date to pre-Maccabean times, or before 160 B.C.  The book itself remains a great mystery to scholars as to its true origin and dating. 

            It is very interesting to note, however, that the book was well known to many Jewish people, particularly the Essenes and early Christians.  Jude, the brother of Christ, quotes from it in his epistle, demonstrating his acceptance of its authority and reliability.  He quotes from it as factual and authoritative:  “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him’” (Jude 14-15). 

The Ethiopic Enoch says, “Behold he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all of flesh for every thing 3which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.”

This quotation, by the brother of Christ Himself, illustrates the high respect the early apostles had for this book.  It was also quoted or used by the authors of the book of Jubilees, the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra. 

            The book of I Enoch was important in the early church, being used also by the author of the epistle of Barnabas, and by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen and Clement.  Tertullian had an exceptionally high regard for it.  “But beginning in the fourth century, the book came to be regarded with disfavor and received negative reviews from Augustine, Hilary and Jerome” (p.8) – the very time the Roman Catholic Church began to become dominant and formally accepted the Trinity doctrine, which is contrary to the teachings of the book of Enoch.  Writes E. Isaac, “The relegation of I Enoch to virtual oblilvion by medieval minds should not diminish its significance for Christian origins; few other apocryphal books so indelibly marked the religious history and thought of the time of Jesus” (ibid.).

            Enoch reveals God as righteous and just, the Creator of the world, the holy lawgiver, the dispenser of history and ultimate judge of all. 

            I Enoch discusses the concept of the heavenly Messiah (chapters 45-57).  “The Messiah in I Enoch, called the Righteous One, and the Son of Man, is depicted as a PRE-EXISTENT HEAVENLY BEING who is resplendent and majestic, possesses all dominion, and sits on his throne of glory passing judgment upon all mortal and spiritual beings” (page 9). 

            The First Book of Enoch revolves around the theme of the last judgment, the coming destruction of the wicked, and the triumph of the righteous.  It speaks of the coming resurrection of the righteous dead, the coming of the Messiah to judge the world, and the fate of sinners, including the fallen angels, and apostate Jews.  A central emphasis in the book is that sinners are economic exploiters, political oppressors, and socially unjust people of the world.  

            For several centuries, in fact, the book of Enoch was accepted as scripture, or inspired prophetic literature, by the apostles and early Christians.  Charles F. Potter wrote in 1935, of its importance and discovery.  He declared, “In the mountain fastness of Ethiopia there was preserved for thirteen centuries a precious manuscript which not only throws much light on the Bible but which also was itself in the Bible for five centuries” (The Book of Enoch, page 3).  He points out that in the fourth century, when debate arose regarding the New Testament canon, the book of Enoch, was included in the debate, “which had long been accepted as Scripture by Jesus and Paul, and the whole Christian Church, for several centuries.”  Deemed uncanonical by the Catholic theologians of the fourth century, it “gradually dropped out of use, and finally disappeared.” 

Centuries passed, and not until a Scotsman, James Bruce, came along, who cherished the idea that the book of Enoch still existed somewhere, in an Ethiopic version, was it rediscovered in 1768 by Bruce in a remote region of Ethiopia.  No copy of the original language book is known to be in existence, but the Ethiopic version has been preserved in twenty-nine manuscripts.

            What does I Enoch tell us about the existence of the Messiah, and His origin?

I Enoch

In this apocalyptic book, dating centuries before the time of Christ, we find very interesting statements regarding a Being of great authority who was the first creation of God.  He was also foretold to become the Messiah.  Notice!  Enoch declares:

“At that place, I saw the One to whom belongs the time before time. And his              head was white like wool, and there was with him another individual, whose          face was like that of a human being. His countenance was full of grace like that             of one among the holy angels. And I asked the one -- from among the angels –      who was going with me, and who had revealed to me all the secrets regarding                  the One who was born of human beings, ‘Who is this, and from whence is he       who is going as the PROTOTYPE OF THE BEFORE-TIME?’ And he answered       me and said to me, ‘This is the Son of Man, to whom belongs righteousness, and        with whom righteousness dwells. And he will open all the hidden storerooms; for  the Lord of the Spirits has chosen him, and he is destined to be victorious before  the Lord of the Spirits in eternal uprightness. This Son of Man whom you have           seen is the One who would remove the kings and the mighty ones from their comfortable seats and the strong ones from their thrones. He shall loosen the         reins of the strong and crush the teeth of the sinners. He shall depose the kings    from their thrones and kingdoms” (I Enoch 46:1-5, as translated by E. Isaac, from the volume, The Old Testament Pseudopigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesorth).

            In the translation of Richard Laurence, Arshbishop of Cashel, professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford, 1821, we read this passage as follows:

                        “There I beheld the Ancient of days, whose head was like white wool, and with                            him another, whose countenance resembled that of a man.  His countenance                               was full of grace, like that of one of the holy angels.  Then I enquired of one                                 of the angels who went with me, and who shewed me every secret thing,                                             concerning this Son of man; who He was; whence He was; and why He                                                accompanied the Ancient of days.

                        “He answered and said to me:  This is the Son of man, to whom righteous-                                 ness belongs; with whom righteousness has dwelt; and who will reveal                                     all the treasures of that which is concealed; for the Lord of spirits has                                        CHOSEN him; and his portion has surpassed all before the Lord of                                           spirits in everlasting uprightness” (Enoch 46:1). 

            The passage goes on to show that this “Son of man” – who sits with the Ancient of days and accompanied Him – will execute judgment, hurling kings from their thrones, and punishing all who lift up their hands against the Most High. 

Notice how clearly this parallels the New Testament description of Jesus Christ, who is identified as the “Logos” or “Word” of God who was with God “in the beginning” (John 1:1-4). Enoch calls this Person the “Prototype of the Before-Time.”  Paul says Christ was the “firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15). Christ Himself was referred to often as the “Son of Man,” just as Enoch foretold.  He also says He was “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev.3:14).

The fact that Enoch, in his book, speaks of this primordial Being as “the Prototype of the Before-Time,” indicates that He was the first One made in the very image and likeness of God, and this also indicates that there will be more like Him in the future.

Enoch goes on describing this Person, in the translation by E. Isaac, as follows:

“At that place, I saw the One to whom belongs the time before time.  And                       his head was white like wool, and there was WITH HIM another individual,          whose face was like that of a human being.  His countenance was full of grace          like that            of one among the holy angels.  And I asked the one – from among           the angels -- who was going with me, and who had revealed to me all the                secrets of the One who was born of human beings, ‘Who is this, and from            whence is he who is going as the PROTOTYPE of the Before-Time?’  And                   he answered me and said to me, ‘This is the Son of Man, to whom belongs          righteousness, and with whom righteousness dwells.  And he will open all                    the hidden storerooms; for the Lord of the Spirits has chosen him, and he                   is destined to be victorious before the Lord of the Spirits in eternal upright-       ness’” (I Enoch 46:4).

Enoch clearly referred to an Individual chosen by God – the “Before-Time” – who was a “Prototype” of Himself and who was also called “The Son of Man,” because He would later be transformed into a human being, and who would be victorious over all enemies.  What clearer picture could we have of the Pre-Existent Messiah? 

Enoch continues:

“At that hour, that Son of Man was given a name, in the presence of the Lord                   of the Spirits, the Before-Time; even before the creation of the sun and the moon,          before the creation of the stars, he was given a name in the presence of the Lord                         of the Spirits. He will become a staff for the righteous ones in order that they                               may lean on him and not fall. He is the light of the Gentiles and he will become    the hope of those who are sick in their hearts. All who dwell upon the earth shall                          fall and worship before him; they shall glorify, bless, and sing the name of the                            Lord of the Spirits. For this purpose he became the CHOSEN ONE; he was                      concealed in the presence of the Lord of the Spirits prior to the creation of the                           world, and for eternity. And he has revealed the wisdom of the Lord of the           Spirits to the righteous and the holy ones, for he has preserved the portion               of the righteous because they hated and despised this world of oppress-             sion (together with) all its ways of life and its habits in the name of the                Lord of the Spirits; and because they will be SAVED IN HIS NAME and                  it is his good pleasure that they have life” (I Enoch 48:2-7).

Notice that this Person was given a name even before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars – the physical Universe.  He was to be a “light to the Gentiles.”  He was the “Chosen One,” who was concealed by God prior to the creation of the world.  He was to be the “Saviour,” and all those who would be saved would obtain salvation “in His name.”  Who was this Being?  Peter declared of Christ, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:120.  It was the Logos, or Word of God – Jesus Christ! 

Matthew said of Jesus Christ, that He dwelt in Capernaum, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, who wrote, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:  The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned” (Matt.4:13-16).

In the Laurence translation, we read this passage:

            “In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his                                 name in the presence of the Ancient of days.  Before the sun and the signs                            were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked                               in the presence of the Lord of spirits.  A support shall He be for the righteous                                   and the holy to lean upon, without falling; and He shall be the light of nations.

            “He shall be the hope of those whose hearts are troubled.  All, who dwell on                                earth, shall fall down and worship before him; shall bless and glorify Him,                              and sing praises to the name of the Lord of spirits.

            Therefore the ELECT and the CONCEALED ONE EXISTED in His presence,                                   BEFORE THE WORLD WAS CREATED, AND FOR EVER” (48:2-5).

These words clearly show the belief and teaching among the Jewish people, even in a book regarded as authoritative by the apostle Jude, of the existence of a great “Son of man” – the “Elect” – the “Concealed one” who existed before the heavens and the earth were formed – One who dwelt in the “presence” of the “Ancient of days”!

In chapter 49, we read the following:

The Elect One stands before the Lord of the Spirits; his glory is forever                and ever and his power is unto all generations. In him dwells the spirit of                                  wisdom, the spirit which gives thoughtfulness, the spirit of knowledge                  and strength, and the spirit of those who have fallen asleep in righteous-             ness. He shall judge the secret things” (I Enoch 49:2-4).

Now notice this in the Laurence translation:

            “But iniquity passes away like a shadow, and possesses not a fixed station;                       for the Elect one stands before the Lord of spirits; and his glory is for ever                  and ever; and His power from generation to generation.  With Him dwells                        the spirit of intellectual wisdom, the spirit of instruction and of power, and                   the spirit of those who sleep in righteousness; He shall judge secret things.                        Nor shall any be able to utter a single word before Him; for the Elect one              IS IN THE PRESENCE of the Lord of spirits, according to his own pleasure”                       (Part II, 2-4).

Similarly, the New Testament says that Christ, in His pre-incarnate form, was appointed by God the Father as “heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds: who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholdeth all things by the word of his power” (Heb.1:1-3). Christ was “the image [i.e., “prototype”] of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” or “all creation” (Col.1:15-16). He is the “Elect One,” and the “Chosen One,” of God.   He is the One prophesied by Isaiah, when he wrote of the coming Messiah,

            “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall                                                grow out of his roots [this implies that Jesse would both be his ancestor,                                       as well as his descendent, since this “Branch” was to grow out of his own                                            roots, as well as come forth as a branch from his stem!].  The Spirit of the                                    LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the                                              Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the                                      LORD” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Thus Jesus Christ, like no other human being, fulfills these ancient prophecies!  And plainly, according to the words of Enoch, Christ is described as having existed ages before His human birth and conception!  He is described as being present AT CREATION!

            How plain!  How clear!  How obvious!  Jesus Christ most certainly did pre-exist His human birth!