There are times in the scriptures where the writers speaks about a particular “something” or “idea” about a person, where they use the neuter gender word “that”. This word “that“, doesn’t speak directly about the person, but something directly associated to the person.
For example in Luke 1:35:
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)”
It’s clear that the angel is referring to the baby Jesus in Mary’s womb; if so, then why say “that…thing“? Because this baby is not a normal baby, it is the Incarnation; the Word manifested in the flesh. This child is the manifestation of the “Kingdom of God” entering this temporal world.
Therefore, “that thing” is more than just a holy work of God; it’s the incarnation, God manifested in the flesh and that will be called “the son of God”.
Another example is 1 John 1:1:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (1 John 1:1)
Again it’s clear that John is speaking about Jesus, but he uses the term “that”; which means he referring to something else, not the person directly, but something about him or what he represents.
Jesus is the Word made flesh; he is the Life of God; he is the expressed image of the Father in the earth. “That” is the something that has been manifested in a way that the disciples senses could experience the non-experiencable; Jesus wasn’t a vision or an imaginary thought, he was a real person that could be seen, heard and touched by their hands and he was the embodiment of who the Father is.
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: (Hebrews 1:3)”
The express image of his person; as we know God is Love, therefore Jesus was the express image of God’s Love. He showed it by his whole life, his sacrifice and through his healing the people, (and or the deliverance from demonic forces.) He presented a reality, not just the fact that God existed, but that God was active in his creation and he loved people.
Which brings me to my third example:
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:10)”
This is probably the most famous and the most misunderstood “that” in all of scripture. Some believe this that represents the canon of scripture, some believe it’s the coming Kingdom of God or Jesus himself.
Paul is addressing a Church that has forgotten that they are ambassadors for Christ and they have lost their focus in their part as the body of Christ and their misuse of the gifts of the Spirit; Where instead of using them to point to Jesus, they used them to point to themselves.
Chapter 13 is called the Love Chapter; it’s purpose is to remind the people who the gifts were designed to operate in love and without love the gifts miss their true purpose. The gifts were designed to bring a reality of God and a reality of his love towards people.
Paul declares the character of love and he says love never fails; he is pointing to a love that is actually beyond these people capabilities and more like that of Jesus who is the expressed image of God.
Jesus was given the full measure of the Spirit, but we believers are only given the earnest of the Spirit; even on our best day we often fall short of demonstrating God’s love to fulfill Paul’s declaration that love never fails.
Even through the gifts of the Spirit, we only bring about a shadowy image, but Paul says, “When that which is prefect comes”,….”we shall see face to face.” And then Paul said he will know as he is known!
Whatever “that” is, it has a face. This is where you have to remember, “that” is a neuter gender term; therefore it can’t be a person. But, it can be something associated with a person. It’s my belief “that” is the face of Love, because the main body of this chapter is about love.
Once you get a revelation of “that”, then you must also know, there is only one person who is the express image of Love and there will be a day when we all will see that face; and there will no longer be a need for something to bring a reality of the love of God, not when you have the real thing right before you, face to face! And you will truly know love as love knows you.