How do we make sense of verses that seem to suggest the “Son” was present at salvation, if we Oneness people say He could not be until the incarnation?
Gal. 4:4 is clear. The way the Son was sent was when He was born in Bethlehem. There are other verses that show the Son “in view” at creation, but this in no way shows a literal Son in the beginning. Some verses that need clarity in this regard are Heb. 1:2, Col. 1:13-17, and Eph. 3:9.
When the above passages say God made the world “by the Son,” it simply means with the Son in view. The Greek preposition dia in the genitive case clearly means “by means of.” So, “by” or “through” the Son means God as Creator created everything by anticipating the incarnation. But there’s a further step of clarity in these passages. When Hebrews says He made the “world,” it’s not the cosmos (created world). The Greek word translated “world” is aeons, which means periods of time or ages. So the text means God laid out the ages by seeing the man Jesus in the unfolding plan! John picks this same thought in Rev. 13:8 in his phrase, “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
The allusion is to the foreordained work of the Father in Christ (Eph. 4:6) which made it possible for us to join Christ positionally in covenant (Eph. 2:4-6). So, from the foundation of the world, God planned that the man Jesus would fulfill His mediative role, and in so doing would be exalted higher than any man before (Phil. 2:9-11). When both the work and identity of the man Jesus is understood, He can be worshiped as the Father incarnate, who from eternity past spoke this redemptive plan into existence. Heb.1:8 is prophetic (referring to the ushering in of eternity) taking a psalm about God and applying it to Jesus: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
The use of “thy” in the KJV is a beautiful reflection of the Scripture’s affirmation of Oneness! It’s not simply “you,” which can be plural or singular in English, but emphatically One. The KJV translators went back about a hundred years earlier in English to pick up this old language usage (Thee, Thy versus Ye, Your) to convey the accuracy of both the Greek and Hebrew singular and plural. There’s only one God (Eph. 4:6) and He came as the Son. In 2 Cor. 5:19, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself…,” notice that it was not “themselves.”
When one sees the incarnation correctly, the perfect man the Father became (Eph. 4:6), one can rightly say “Jesus.” This is the meaning of Heb. 1:4, “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Literally, Jesus means “God has become my salvation” and in His work as man, sacrifice and mediator, He accomplished the task of offering reconciliation! But this was accomplished as humanity, not deity. What a God who planned out the ages and then stepped into our world uniquely at Bethlehem to become the Savior!