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sábado, 5 de septiembre de 2009

LA MAYORÍA DE CRISTIANOS SON TRINITARIOS, PERO…



Una encuesta Gallup realizada hace algunos años atrás encontró que el 87% de los americanos creía en Dios. De ese número, el 78% creía que Dios es una Trinidad.
Sin embargo, la Trinidad es una doctrina que no es entendida claramente por el clero, y menos aún, por la mayoría de los laicos cristianos. De hecho, la mayoría no tienen ni el deseo ni el incentivo para entender lo que su iglesia enseña. Pocos laicos son conscientes de los problemas con la doctrina de la Trinidad. Ellos simplemente la dan por sentado, dejando los aspectos doctrinales misteriosos a los teólogos. Y si un laico optara por investigar más a fondo la doctrina, deberá hacer frente a similares desalentadoras declaraciones como la siguiente: “La mente del hombre no puede comprender plenamente el misterio de la Trinidad. El que quiera tratar de comprender plenamente el misterio perderá el juicio. Pero aquel que niegue la Trinidad perderá su alma” (Harold Lindsey y Charles J. Woodbridge, Un Manual de la verdad cristiana, pp. 51-52).
Esta declaración significa que el concepto de la Trinidad debe ser aceptado a rajatabla. Sin embargo, aceptar meramente como doctrina sin probarlo sería totalmente contrario a la Escritura. Dios inspiró a Pablo a escribir:
“Examinadlo todo, retened lo bueno” (1 Tesalonicenses 5:21).
Y Pedro amonesta a los cristianos:
“… Estad siempre preparados para dar una respuesta a cada uno que os demande razón de la esperanza que hay en vosotros…” (1 Pedro 3:15).
Por lo tanto, el cristiano tiene el deber de probar si es o no de Dios la doctrina de la Trinidad.
Recuerde, si los adultos laicos no pueden entender la Trinidad, ¿cómo podríamos esperar que la entiendan los niños, a quienes el Señor reveló sus verdades y las ocultó de los sabios? ¡Seguramente Jesús nunca hubiera revelado semejante doctrina compleja e intrincada a niños sencillos y sin mucha ciencia!
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EL EFECTO “APOSTASÍA” DENTRO DE LA WATCHTOWER



Pinochotower y sus mentiras


Esto dice La Atalaya (revista oficial de los Testigos de Jehová) del 15 ENERO 2008:
“Puesto que somos imperfectos, no es nada fácil cultivar el fruto del espíritu, evitar las obras de la carne y resistir la presión del mundo de Satanás. Aun así, no nos damos por vencidos; no vamos a permitir que ni nuestras debilidades y tropiezos ni las limitaciones físicas nos desanimen tanto que nuestra fe se debilite y nuestro amor por Jehová se enfríe. Estamos seguros de que Jehová va a proteger a la gran muchedumbre cuando sobrevenga la gran tribulación.

De todas maneras, nos mantenemos en guardia, pues sabemos que el verdadero enemigo es el Diablo y que él no se rinde con facilidad. Por ejemplo, se ha valido de apóstatas y de otros medios para tratar de hacernos creer que las enseñanzas del esclavo son falsas. Pero ese método no le ha dado muchos resultados. También ha recurrido a la persecución, y, aunque en ocasiones sí ha logrado poner trabas a la obra, lo que generalmente sucede es que la persecución termina fortaleciendo la fe de los hermanos”. w08 15/1 5:10, 11


Según este número de La Atalaya, revista oficial de los Testigos de Jehová, el diablo se ha valido de los “apóstatas” y de otros medios para tratar de hacer creer que las enseñanzas del esclavo son falsas, pero que este método no les ha dado muchos resultados. ¿Pero puede alguno creer sinceramente que las críticas justificadas y comprobadas de los llamados “apéstatas” no están socavando las mismas bases de la Sociedad Watchtower de manera dramática? No amigos, no se dejen engañar, los líderes de la WT están perdiendo miembros por todos lados gracias a la difusión comprobada de sus falsedades a través de la internet, un medio estupendo que los líderes no pueden evitar que sus miembros accedan privadamente.
Debo comentarles que yo mismo, a través de mis blogs, recibo innumerables comentarios de Testigos de Jehová activos que me confiesan que ya no quieren seguir siendo Testigos de Jehová porque se han dado cuenta de las falsedades de la organización. Y si esto me ocurre a mí, ¿qué no les estará sucediendo a todos aquellos ex testigos que también tienen sus sitios o blogs donde exponen las mismas falsedades que yo presento en mis blogs? Créanme, los líderes de la Watchtower deben estar con las barbas en remojo ante la amenaza que les representa ahora aquellos que ellos llaman injustamente “apéstatas” y que escriben contra la secta en sus blogs “matatestigos”. Ahora ellos están pagando por lo que hicieron contra sus hermanos “apéstatas”, al expulsarlos por cargos injustos que los marginaron de sus amigos y familiares dentro de la organización. Estos seudo “líderes cristianos” jamás se imaginaron que estos “apéstatas” a quienes ellos trataron tan duramente, serían finalmente sus propios verdugos, y se estarán lamentando por no haber sabido tratarlos con más amor y consideración, al expulsarlos como se los expulsó, sin piedad y sin misericordia alguna.

Por otro lado, resulta que ahora esos “apéstatas” tenían razón en sus críticas (en especial con relación a sus cálculos fraudulentos para las fechas del fin del sistema de cosas), y nada ha hecho la Sociedad Watchtower por restaurarlos o para disculparse con ellos.

En los años venideros veremos una mengua importante de miembros dentro de la WT que los líderes Testigos no querrán reconocer abiertamente, y que forzará que la organización realice algunos “ajustes” para presentarse como más tolerante y prudente con sus miembros. Si no lo hace así, seguirá perdiendo más miembros que se convertirán en sus nuevos detractores en el ciberespacio.

MENSAJE DE APOLOGISTA PARA ESTE MES DE SETIEMBRE DEL 2009



Estimados correligionarios y detractores por igual:

Desde que se inició este blog hace dos años, nuestra intención ha sido predicar el mensaje o buenas nuevas del reino de Dios, así como el monoteísmo simple que presenta las Escrituras.

Durante todo este tiempo, hemos demostrado, creemos, que la trinidad tiene muchos puntos débiles, y que los más de los textos que esgrimen sus partidarios, realmente no prueban la veracidad de dicha doctrina. Estamos convencidos de que muchos de nuestros detractores ya no nos citarán un buen número de textos trinitarios clásicos, al haber ellos comprobado que tales pasajes no prueban nada en absoluto la existencia de un Dios Trino. Sinceramente creo que a los Trinitarios sólo les queda un puñado de pasajes que podríamos llamar “problemáticos” o “difíciles” para explicar, pero nada más. También es cierto que nosotros, los unitarios, presentamos algunos pasajes importantes que a los Trinitercos se les hace muy complicado explicar, como es el caso de Juan 14:28, Juan 17:3, y 1 Corintios 8:4-6, y muchos otros más que son muy importantes y definitivamente contundentes.

Algunos me dicen: “¡Oye, apologista, la mayoría de gente es Trinitaria… y los unitarios son poquísimos!... Yo estoy de acuerdo plenamente, ¿pero qué prueba eso? ¿Acaso que estamos en el error? Bueno, también la mayoría de los cristianos cree en que Cristo nació el 25 de diciembre y celebran la Navidad en esa fecha. Significa eso que Cristo nació el 25 de diciembre? No. Y una mayoría de cristianos cree que cuando mueran, sus almas se irán al cielo o al infierno. ¿Prueba esto que esa creencia es correcta? No. Lo cierto es que Jesús no dijo que su doctrina sería creída por todos, y Pablo advirtió que después de su partida entraría la herejía. ¿Cuál herejía? ¿El Trinitarismo?, ¿el Unitarismo?, ¿el modalismo?, ¿el gnosticismo…cuál? Lo que sí es inobjetable es que la formulación de la Trinidad fue progresiva hasta “dilucidarse” (si es que se puede así) en el siglo IV. No podría ser entonces la Trinidad una de esas doctrinas heréticas o de demonios?

En fin, creemos que la gran aceptación que viene teniendo mi blog a pesar de ser Unitario Sociniano demuestra sencillamente que no sólo hay curiosos en la red, sino también muchas personas deseosas de saber más sobre la doctrina de Dios y no dejarse engañar como incautos con enseñanzas intrincadas o enrevesadas. Y aunque muchos ahora ya no creen en la Trinidad y no lo manifiestan abiertamente, ellos ya son parte de aquella “manada pequeña” que ha retomado la enseñanza original, prístina, y simple del Señor Jesús, “La Shema” de Israel.

Finalmente, no es nuestra intención socavar la fe de nadie, pues denegar la Trinidad no es rechazar a nuestro Dios y Padre que nos creó, ni a Su amado Hijo, el Señor Jesucristo. Aquí no se está buscando convencer a nadie de que Dios no existe; al contrario, buscamos que la gente conozca al único Dios verdadero y a su Hijo Jesucristo para que ganen la vida eterna (Juan 17:3). Queremos hacer posible que tanto Cristianos, Judíos y islámicos se unan en esta verdad básica que es el monoteísmo, y mientras esto no se logré, unos mil millones de musulmanes seguirán teniendo un serio obstáculo para abrazar el cristianismo que presenta a un Dios tricéfalo
.

jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2009

¿SALVA EL BAUTISMO?–¡LA SIMPLE VERDAD QUE USTED DEBE SABER!


Por Ingº Mario A Olcese (Apologista)

En primer lugar, la fe sin obras es fe muerta, así que, si uno acepta a Cristo por fe, es necesario decir, como el eunuco etíope a Felipe: “¿Qué impide que yo sea bautizado?” (Hechos 8:36)…y el eunuco fue bautizado inmediatamente y no esperó para hacerlo cuando fuera más viejito. Igual sucedió con el carcelero de Filipos. Esto dijo el carcelero: “Señores, ¿qué debo hacer para ser salvo? Ellos dijeron: Cree en el Señor Jesucristo, y serás salvo, tú y tu casa. Y le hablaron la palabra del Señor a él y a todos los que estaban en su casa. Y él, tomándolos en aquella misma hora de la noche, les lavó las heridas; y en seguida se bautizó él con todos los suyos”. El creyó en la predicación de Pablo y fue bautizado con su familia esa misma noche. ¿Por qué tanta urgencia? (Hechos 16:33). He aquí el porqué!

Es importante analizar lo siguiente: El Señor Jesucristo salva a su cuerpo que es su iglesia. Dice Pablo en Efesios 5:23, así: “Porque el marido es cabeza de la mujer, así como Cristo es cabeza de la iglesia, la cual es su cuerpo, y él es su Salvador”. Ahora observemos cómo nos convertimos en miembros de su iglesia o cuerpo para salvarnos. Recuerde que Cristo salvó a su cuerpo. Dice Hechos 2:41 “Así que, los que recibieron su palabra fueron bautizados; y se añadieron aquel día como tres mil personas” (¿se añadieron a dónde?) En el verso 47 tenemos la clara respuesta: “Alabando a Dios, y teniendo favor con todo el pueblo. Y el Señor añadía cada día a la iglesia los que habían de ser salvos”.

Entonces está claro que para ser salvos hay que estar dentro de la iglesia o cuerpo de Cristo, y la única manera de ingresar al cuerpo de Cristo es creyendo en el Señor y ser bautizados en agua para perdón de pecados. El bautismo, definitivamente, nos hace miembros del cuerpo, y en ese sentido podemos decir que el bautismo cumple un rol salvador en el plan de Dios. No se puede uno salvar prescindiendo del bautismo, pues sin él no podemos ser parte del cuerpo redimido de Cristo.

¿Y qué pasa con aquellos como el ladrón de la cruz que no se bautizaron a pesar de su conversión? Bueno, en ese caso el Señor es el Juez. La Biblia dice que si confesamos con nuestros labios que Cristo es el Señor, seremos salvos (Rom. 10:9). ¿Pero qué sucede con los que nacieron mudos? ¿Acaso se quedarán fuera del reino eterno? Pues, no! Dios es justo y él sabe lo que hay en nuestros corazones y sabe de nuestras limitaciones. Lo importante es que si podemos proceder al bautismo, y no lo hacemos, quedaremos excluidos del cuerpo, y eso significa simplemente la condenación.

lunes, 31 de agosto de 2009

JAIMITO NERD REFUTA OTRO ARGUMENTO TRINITARIO DE SU PAPÁ Y ÉSTE TERMINA BOQUIABIERTO



Jaimito, Jaimito, ven acá un minuto que quiero decirte algo importantísimo…¿sí, papi, de qué se trata?…bueno, hijito querido, aquí te presento otro pasaje que te convencerá de que Jesús es Dios…ajá, ¿y cuál es ese pasaje, papi?…es el de Marcos 2:5-11, que dice: “Cuando Jesús vio la fe, dijo al paralítico: Hijo, tus pecados te son perdonados. Ahora, algunos maestros de la ley que estaban allí sentadas, pensando para sí mismos, “¿Por qué habla este tipo así? Está blasfemando! ¿Quién puede perdonar pecados sino sólo Dios?…¿Te das cuenta, Jaimito, que Jesús es Dios porque perdonaba los pecados de los hombres, cosa que sólo Dios tiene potestad para hacer?…Pero papito, Jesús dijo en Mateo 28:18 que toda potestad le había sido conferida por Su Padre a él, incluso para perdonar pecados. Esto por sí sólo, demuestra que Jesús no es Dios, pues un Dios verdadero no necesita recibir potestad de Dios para perdonar pecados…bueno, es verdad lo que dices, Jaimito…además, toma nota papi lo que dice Mateo (9:8) sobre este mismo suceso del perdón de pecados de Jesús: “Cuando la multitud vio esto, se llenaron de temor y alababan a Dios, que había dado tal autoridad a los hombres”. Así que, contrario a lo que piensan muchos trinitarios, los que vieron a Jesús perdonar pecados no creyeron que lo hacía por ser el mismísimo Dios Todopoderoso, sino que alababan a Dios de que Él hubiese dado esta autoridad a los hombres (refiriéndose a Jesús). Y en Lucas 9:1 Jesús llamó a sus doce discípulos, y les dio poder y autoridad sobre todos los demonios, y para curar enfermedades. Después de su resurrección, Él incluso les da la autoridad para perdonar los pecados. Juan 20:21-23: 21…¿verdad, no?… ¡Tienes razón, Jaimito, no me había percatado lo que registró Mateo sobre este mismo suceso!…Ahora te pregunto, papi, ¿si los cristianos estamos llamados a perdonar pecados, significa esto que también somos Dioses?…¡Pues obviamente no, Jaimito!…Okey, papi, te dejo porque tengo que consultar algunas cosas con el Chapulín Apologista…Está bien, hijito, yo iré a buscar a Don Pablo Santomauro a ver si me da una cita para consultarle sobre este asunto, pues hace tiempo que se ha hecho humo y no logro encontrarlo…¡Listo, viejo, nos vemos!
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domingo, 30 de agosto de 2009

IS GOD A TRINITY?


IS GOD A TRINITY?

Is God a Trinity? Is the one God of Christianity a tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit? Is this concept of God upheld by the Scriptures? There are some Christian groups who do not believe the Trinitarian definition of God is scriptural. Historically, it wasn’t until the fourth and fifth centuries after the Christ event that the doctrine of the Trinity became dogma within the Christian community. Because the Trinitarian doctrine is a foundational doctrine of mainstream Christianity and yet has its detractors, it is important that we carefully examine this issue and allow the evidence to determine whether God is a Trinity or whether we should understand God in some other way.
The nature of God is believed by a majority of Christians to be a Trinity. The word Trinity is not found in the Biblical scriptures but is a word derived from the Latin word trinitus which means “three in one” or “threefold.” This word is used to describe what many feel is a Biblical identification of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. More specifically, the word Trinity is used to define God as a single Being who exists eternally as consubstantial (being of the same substance), coequal and coeternal persons of Father, Son and Spirit. God is defined as being of one substance made up of three persons. All three persons are seen as a single Being of single substance but able to be separately distinguished, while never losing the one single substance and identity called God. The three persons, while being of the same substance, are not viewed as separate entities of identical substance but as one single entity having one single substance yet distinguishable as three persons. This is the orthodox concept of
God.
Any definition of God that runs contrary to this Trinitarian approach is held to be unorthodox and is considered heretical by most orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christians subscribe to the fourth and fifth century Christian Creeds which proclaim God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Creeds were established as markers of the Christian faith in an attempt to facilitate unity within the Christian community.
While the Creeds establish a standard and accepted (orthodox) way of looking at scripture and therefore have value in maintaining unity of doctrine, it must be remembered that orthodoxy comes about as a result of certain individuals making decisions on doctrine based on how they view scripture. Sometimes those decisions are based on very clear, concise and undeniable revelation of scripture and sometimes they are not. The relationship between Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father has been controversial since inauguration of the Christian Church in the first century. As will be seen in this series of essays, the scriptures dealing with this issue are understood in a variety of ways.
While I respect the effort and toil that has gone into the creation of the Christian Creeds, I strongly feel we should not take what they teach for granted but should prove all things. Our doctrinal conclusions should not be based on whether something is orthodox, unorthodox, creedal or non-creedal. Such conclusions must be based on an objective examination of the evidence and a willingness to follow the evidence wherever it may take us. In this series of essays, we will bring no assumptions to our examination of the Trinity. Creedal proclamations regarding the nature of God will be examined objectively along with all other teachings associated with this issue.
I will make every effort to critically examine the claims of both Trinitarians and Non- Trinitarians and see which position provides a preponderance of evidence. Whatever conclusions we reach will be based on determining what is believable beyond reasonable doubt. I will present and discuss a variety of viewpoints on this issue and the information presented will be a crystallization of a great deal of material studied by this writer. Where deemed appropriate, I will provide personal comments on the perspectives advanced by the various sides of this issue. Upon completion of this examination, I will draw conclusions based on where the preponderance of evidence lies. Unless otherwise indicated, scriptural quotes will be from the New International Version (NIV).
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW:
Historically, there have been a variety of positions held as to the nature of God and the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second century theologians such as Irenaeus and Justin appear to have believed in the Deity and eternal existence of the Father and the Son and therefore believed them to be worthy of worship. However, they also apparently believed the Father and Son were not equal in authority as the Son is viewed as being subordinate to the Father. There is some indication that Justin may not have believed in the eternal existence of the Son, as will be seen in a quote later in this series.
In the early second century a teaching appeared called Docetism taken from the Greek word dokeo, which means to “to seem" or “to appear.” This view maintained that Jesus was only Divine and was not at all human but only appeared to be human. A leading proponent of this view was the philosopher/theologian Marcion. Marcion taught there were two Gods, the legalistic God of the Israelites and the forgiving God of Jesus.
In the late second and early third century a view of God developed called Monarchianism. One form of Monarchianism called Dynamic or Adoptionist Monarchianism taught God was a one of a kind Deity and Jesus was not deity but a created human person filled with the Holy Spirit and thus able to fulfill God’s (His Father's) will. Some early Adoptionists even believed Jesus was born not of a virgin but from a normal sexual union of Joseph and Mary and later was “adopted” by His Father God at His baptism or at His resurrection at which time He became the Son of God. This view was held by a Jewish Christian group called Ebionites.
Early in the third century a Bishop from Rome named Callistus proposed the idea that the Father actually became Jesus the Son. This belief was called Patripassian as it postulated the Father participated in humanity as the man Jesus. This was an attempt to preserve the monotheism of the scriptures while accounting for the Deity of the Son. This view has present day proponents in what is called Oneness Theology.
A form of Monarchianism called Modalism was taught in the third century by a theologian named Sabellius. Sabellius taught God is only one person who acts as Father in creating the universe, as Son in redeeming sinners and as Holy Spirit in sanctifying believers. While this position may appear Trinitarian on the surface, it is not Trinitarian as it does not view the one God as made up of the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It sees no relationship in God. It views the one God playing three different roles at different times in history while retaining single personhood. This view was actually quite popular in the early church as it preserved the oneness of God while allowing for the Deity of Jesus. Also in the third century, the respected scholar and theologian Origen maintained the subordination of the Word (Greek logos) to God the Father. Origen believed the logos of John chapter one is Jesus Christ. Origen emphasized the independence of the logos as well as its distinction from the Being and substance of the Father. Origen apparently believed the logos was not of the same substance as the Father but merely an image of the Father. Origen believed there could be degrees or grades of divinity, with the Son being slightly less divine than the Father. Origen recognized in John 1:1, John’s use of the definite article in referring to the one and only true God and a second reference to God without the article as indicative of a lesser god. John chapter one will be discussed in detail later in this series.
Origen pictured God within a framework of the Father being the Supreme Deity over all things while the Son was over creation in a lesser way with the Spirit acting only within the context of the church. The Spirit was seen as leading back to the Son and the Son back to the Father. It appears Origen considered the Father and the Son to be Deity and of eternal existence but not consubstantial and coequal as in later Trinitarian thought.
In the early fourth century a church leader named Marcellus proposed that the Word of God existed eternally as the intrinsic reasoning faculty of God. When God decided to make the heavens and the earth, the Word became the power and energy through which God created all things. The Word later became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. In this manner Marcellus strove to maintain the oneness of God.
Also in the early fourth century, an Alexandrian presbyter by the name of Arius advanced the idea that the Father alone is God with the Son having been created by the one Father God at some point before the universe was created. Arius believed it was through the Son that God created the universe and it was the Son who became Jesus by emptying Himself of the glory He had with the Father. After completing his mission on earth, Jesus returned to the Father where He was restored to his former glory. Arius felt this view maintained monotheism as opposed to the polytheism he saw in seeing Jesus as equal Deity with the Father. This view was embraced by a number of Christians but hotly contested by Church leaders who believed the Son to be Deity on par with the Father. Much controversy ensued over this issue with Arius being excommunicated by the Bishop of Alexandria
The dispute over this matter came to a head at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. At this council a majority of church leaders sided with the Bishop of Alexandria and a young presbyter named Athanasius who firmly advocated that Jesus is God as much as the Father is God. Church leaders representing the Athanasius position went head to head with defenders of the Arian position led by Eusebius, the bishop of Nicomedia. After all was said and done, the Athanasius position prevailed and the belief that the Son is consubstantial with the father (“God of very God”) became the accepted position among many of the church hierarchy. The Holy Spirit was recognized by this council but not defined as consubstantial with the Father and Son and nothing was said about the Holy Spirit being a person or being worshiped. The tenets of the Nicene Creed pertaining to our discussion read as follows:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;.. And in the Holy Ghost.
Controversy over the relationship between the Father and the Son raged on for another fifty years with both the Arian and the Athanasian views supported by various Church leaders and Roman government officials. Emperor Constantine of Rome apparently died as an Arian. During this period Arius was reinstated just before his death while Athanasius, who had become Bishop of Alexandria, was alternately condemned by various Church councils and reinstated by others. At times the Arian view prevailed in the Church and at other times the Athanasian view prevailed.
It wasn’t until the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. that the Trinitarian concept of God won the day and was further affirmed. The Nicene Creed was updated at this council to include the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and worthy of worship as is the Father and the Son. Thus was established a Trinitarian concept of God. This became the orthodox view of God in the Roman Empire Many outside the Empire, however, continued to follow the Arian position for hundreds of years. The tenets of the Constantinople Creed pertaining to our discussion are as follows:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (aeons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.
Both the Nicene and Constantinople Creed stress that the Son was not made but was begotten by the Father and is of one substance with the Father. The Nicene Creed appears to define begotten as being of the same substance as the Father and thus distinguishes begotten from being made. The Constantinople Creed speaks of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father but it also identifies the Holy Spirit as a “who,” thus implying a personhood within the “Godhead.”
Another controversy that arose relative to the relationship of Jesus to God was regarding the nature of the Son as Jesus the Christ. In the early fifth century, Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople, reasoned that Jesus had two separate natures and wills, one Divine and one human, making Him two persons in one body. This position was condemned by a church council convened at Ephesus in 431 A.D. Around 440 A.D., a Byzantine monk named Eutyches taught that Jesus had only Divine nature and not human nature. This position was condemned at a church synod in 448 A.D. only to be declared orthodox at a church-wide counsel held at Ephesus in 449 A.D. This issue was again taken up at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. and it was ruled that the Son as Jesus the Christ had two natures, one fully Divine and one fully human. The Chalcedon Creed reads as follows:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.
One additional creed of interest is referred to as the Athanasian Creed but it is believed by most scholars that this Creed was not written by Athanasius. The oldest surviving manuscript of this Creed dates from the eighth century. This Creed was originally written in Latin which was not the native language of Athanasius and this Creed addresses theological issues that arose after his death. Athanasius does not mention this Creed in any of his writings. Most historians agree that this Creed originated in Gaul around 500 A.D. Its theology is closely akin to that found in the writing of Western theologians, especially Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo and Vincent of Lerins.
This Creed is significant in so much as it reinforces the previous creedal stance on the nature of God and goes so far as to condemn all those that fail to believe the Trinitarian doctrine. Here are some excerpts from this Creed.
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.d from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalcedonian_Creed"
Much more could be written about the “soap opera” that is the Arian/Athanasian controversy. During the height of this controversy positions often changed, politics influenced decisions and resolutions and Creeds continued to be challenged. Much disagreement was generated by the introduction of diverse ideas as to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Church leaders were routinely condemned and reinstated. Church councils were being called on a regular basis to deal with the controversies. For those interested in reading further about this time period, I recommend, Truly Divine, Truly Human by Stephen W. Need (2008) and Nicaea and its Legacy by Lewis Ayres (2004).
Some view the Constantinople Creed as the final chapter in this long controversy. It is quite apparent, however, that this controversy continues to this very day as a number of Non-Trinitarian groups are extant within the Christianity community and more and more books are being published challenging the orthodox position.
In this series of essays I had hoped to rise above the fray of this controversy and simply examine the scriptures pertinent to this issue. While attempting to do this I realized the only way I could properly address this issue is to first elucidate both the Trinitarian and Non-Trinitarian positions, then add personal observations and comments reflecting my reaction to the two positions elucidated, and simply see where the evidence takes me. So let’s begin!
NON-TRINITARIANS:
There are four basic Non-Trinitarian positions currently extant in opposition to the orthodox position. Some Non-Trinitarians believe the Son began His existence when begotten in the womb of Mary. Because of what Jesus accomplished as Messiah, He was elevated to His Father's right hand and a position of great authority, power and glory. Under this perspective, only the Father is considered God. Jesus the Son was begotten (generated) by the Father as a totally human agent of the Father. He was imbibed with a full measure of the Holy Spirit of God (the Spirit is not considered a person) and was crowned with everlasting life and glory upon completion of His mission here on earth. We will call this the Non-Trinitarian A position. This position is not to be confused with early Adoptionist theology as position A Non-Trinitarians believe in the virgin birth through the Holy Spirit.
A second category of Non-Trinitarian belief is that the Son began His existence when created (begotten/generated) by the Father before the creation of the universe and was granted great power and glory at that time as the chief agent of the one and only true God the Father. It was through this agent God created all things and through whom the Messianic promises where filled. The Son is seen as emptying Himself of His glory to become a fully human agent in the service of His Father and being returned to His former glory after His earthly mission was accomplished. This position is much like that taken by Arius in the fourth century. We will call this the Non-Trinitarian B position.
Both of these positions see the Son, not as consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father, but as a separate created Being to whom the Father has given great power, glory and authority. Therefore, the Son is not seen as being the one true God or some Divine manifestation of the one God but as the highest ranking agent of the one God. When appearing as Jesus, the Son was not God incarnate but God’s agent who took on humanity to fulfill God’s will. A third Non-Trinitarian position is called “Oneness Theology.” This position sees God as a single Being who is manifested in Jesus Christ. Jesus is seen as having both human and Divine nature. He is seen as totally God because the one God is believed to have become the Son. Jesus is also considered totally human because of His human birth. Jesus is seen as God incarnate. God (YHWH) is virtually seen as becoming the Son as to the Son’s Divine nature. Therefore, Jesus is seen as YHWH. Jesus is not seen as having preexistence as the Son of God but preexistence as the one God who became the Son. Therefore, the one God YHWH and Jesus, as to His Divine nature, are seen as being one and the same. As to His Divine nature, Jesus is the Father since the Father is God. As to His Divine nature, Jesus is seen as being God as God is God. This is in harmony with the Nicene Creed which postulates that Jesus is “Very God of very God.” Jesus having a dual nature is in line with the Chalcedon Creed which postulates the dual nature of Jesus. Oneness theology differs with the Creeds in that only one person is viewed as God as opposed to the Trinitarian three person Godhead. It also differs in so much as it sees God becoming the Son at the birth of Jesus rather than the Son having preexistence. God stands as Father of the Son only as to the human nature of Jesus. God as Father
is manifested in the Divine nature of Jesus. Jesus, as the Son of God is seen as beginning His existence at His human birth. The Holy Spirit is seen not as a person but as the manifestation or emanation of the one God.
A fourth type of Non-Trinitarian theology sees God as a family of Father and Son into which humans can be born through resurrection from the dead. Those taking this position believe God and the Son have eternally existed but are separate, individual God Beings existing in a family relationship with the Holy Spirit being a shared mind and power. The Son is believed to be the YHWH God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ when He temporally set aside His prerogatives as a God Being to become a human. The various dynamics of this concept will be dealt with as we proceed in this series.
As we move through this material, I will primarily discuss the Trinitarian issue within the context of the orthodox Trinitarian position as it contrasts with the A & B Non-Trinitarian positions. The dynamics of the third and fourth Non-Trinitarian positions will be addressed within our over all discussion of the A & B Positions.
TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY:
Under Trinitarian theology, God is one Being of single substance but distinguished as Father, Son and Spirit. God manifested as Father is seen primarily through the person of Jesus in the New Testament scriptures but God as Father is found in the Hebrew Scriptures as well. As Son, God is seen as manifested in the human person Jesus Christ (the incarnation). As Spirit, God is seen as manifested in various ways throughout history and specifically manifested as the comforter and Spirit of truth in the Greek Scriptures. Since all three manifestations are of the one substance called God, the word Trinity is simply being used as a term to identify and define the Father, Son and Spirit as one God. Trinitarians hold to the doctrine of there being one God but see the one God as composed of three persons, manifestations or distinctions.
In physical terms the relationship within the Trinity has at times been analogized to that of the fire, light and heat of the sun. The sun is defined as being a single substance of fire, light and heat since all three operate simultaneously all of the time. Fire, light and heat are associated, inseparable dynamics of the sun. Though inseparable, fire, light and heat are distinct in so much that each can manifest itself in specific ways. God is analogized with the sun in so much as the Father is compared to the fire, the Son is compared to the light and the Holy Spirit is compared to the heat. Though inseparable, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct and can manifest themselves in specific ways. The theologian and early Church father Tertullian (late second and early third century) advanced an argument similar to this in regard to the Father and the Son.
A similar argument is taken from the scriptures in attempting to offer evidence for the validity of the Trinitarian definition of God. This argument is taken from Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being.” The argument is that just as light is the radiance of the sun’s glory in the sun analogy, so the Son is the radiance of God’s glory thus making the Son, as God's radiance, consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with God and therefore God. It is argued that one cannot have radiance without the source of radiance, or a source of radiance without the radiance itself. Yet we can distinguish between the source of that radiance (God's glory) and the radiance of that glory (the Son). They are distinct, without being separate.
Another analogy that is sometimes put forth to demonstrate the manner in which God can be one and yet three is the example of water which can be liquid, ice or steam. It is argued that since the liquid, the ice and the steam are all made up of water all the time, these three are of one substance but distinct from each other and therefore analogous to the one God who is of one substance but differentiated as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One other analogy which is sometimes used is that of a human male being a father, a grandfather and a husband all at the same time all the time.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
While these analogies as explanations of how God is a Trinity appear valid at first glance, they are actually quite problematical. The light and heat are not consubstantial or coequal with the sun which is fire. While they are dependent on the fire and cannot exist apart from the fire, they are not the fire. The fire is made from the combustion of combustible materials that produce the light and the heat. Light and heat are products of the fire and do not exist as co-equal substance with the fire. While it can be argued that the fire cannot exist without the light and the heat, the fire is not dependent on the light and the heat for its existence whereas the light and heat are dependent on the fire. Therefore to define the sun as fire, light and heat is inaccurate. The sun is fire only. It is from this fire that light and heat are produced. Trinitarian theology defines God existing as coequal and consubstantial Father, Son and Spirit with the existence of the Father not dependent on the Son or Spirit and the existence of the Son and Spirit not dependent on the Father. God is seen as one unit made up of three distinctions which can all manifest themselves in specific ways. Therefore the sun analogy does not fit. The sun analogy is actually better suited to a Non-Trinitarian position that sees Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit not as coequal and consubstantial but as derived from and dependent for their existence upon the one God who is the Father.
This same conclusion applies to the Trinitarian interpretation of Hebrews 1:3, which in reality is the same argument as the sun analogy. The argument is that since the radiance of God’s glory is derived from God it must be coequal and consubstantial with God and therefore God. Since the Son is seen as the radiance of God, the Son must be God. You can just as easily argue, however, that the glory of God produces the radiance and therefore the Son, as the radiance of God, is not coequal with God but is produced by God who is separate and distinct from the Son just as light and light are not coequal with fire but produced by fire. Therefore the Son can be viewed as being derived from the Father and dependent for existence on the Father but not coequal with the Father.
The Trinitarian may say the Father cannot exist without generating the Son and Spirit just as the sun cannot exist without generating light and heat. This assumes, however, the Son has always existed, a concept I will show to be problematical as we proceed in this series.
The water analogy is problematical because a given amount of water cannot be liquid, ice and steam all at the same time. In Trinitarian theology, the one substance called God is seen as Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the same time all the time. For the water analogy to work there would need to be a given amount of water that is liquid, ice and steam all at the same time and all the time. Even if you were to consider water in general for this analogy, which can exist as liquid, ice and steam at the same time in separate locations, the liquid, ice and steam would be separate from one another. There is no separation seen in the Triune God. As with the sun analogy, the water analogy is better suited to a non-Trinitarian position as the water is a liquid essence from which ice and steam are produced. While ice and steam are of the same substance (H2O) as liquid water and cannot exist separately from H2O, they do appear in a different form of the H2O. Water still stands alone as the single substance from which ice and steam are formed. In Trinitarian theology, the Father is not considered separate from or the source of the Son or Holy Spirit but the Son and Holy Spirit are considered coequal and coeternal substance with the Father.
The human father analogy is problematical because the human male is one person with several different titles identifying different roles performed by the one person. This is no different than the one God having a number of titles which identify Him as judge, warrior, healer and so forth. The human father analogy is basically the same as the Modalist argument of the third century. It is also sometimes argued that just as a human father’s son is fully human, so God’s Son must be fully God. While it is true that the son of a human father is fully human, such son is also separate and in many ways different from his father. Trinitarianism, on the other hand, sees God as one substance consisting of three un-separated coequal and coeternal persons.
TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY CONTINUED:
The second part of the above quote from Hebrews 1:3 identifies Jesus as “the exact representation (image in some translations) of his being (person in some translations).” The one Being or person refers to the one God. The word being or person is translated from the Greek word hypostasis. The Arndt, Gingrich and Bauer Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, defines hypostasis as substantial nature, essence, actual being or reality of something, often as a contrast of what merely seems to be. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, defines hypostasis as a setting or placing under as that which has foundation. Hypostasis is also defined as confidence, conviction, assurance and steadfastness.
Hypostasis was used by Aristotle and Neo Platonists (third century A.D. followers of the teachings of Plato) to speak of the objective reality of a thing as opposed to its outer form or illusion. Hypostasis was used by early Church writers such as Origen and Tatian to denote being or substantive reality and this Greek word was not always distinguished in meaning from the Greek word ousia which means individual substance or essence. In the formulation of the Trinitarian definition of God by church leaders in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., ousia came to designate God as a single substance made up of the three hypostasis of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Within Christianity, hypostasis became associated with the Greek prosopon, which is translated into Latin as “persona.” The Latin "persona," literally means “mask” or a character played by an actor. Since an actor can play several roles by simply changing masks this is felt to analogize to one God in three persons or hypostasis.’
Hypostasis appears five times in the NT and in most English translations; four out of those five times the word is translated to reflect the second definition of hypostasis which is confidence or assurance. This rendering best fits the context in these cases. Only in Hebrews 1:3 is hypostasis translated in such a way as to reflect the first definition as here the context appears to call for the first definition. The Greek word for “representation” is karizomai and appears just this once in the NT and in Greek means a mark or stamp, such as in engraving, imprinting or etching.
Trinitarian theology teaches that because the writer to the Hebrews is saying the Son is the stamp, engraving or imprinting of the single substance that is God, the Son must be sharing in this one substantial nature and therefore must be a hypostasis or manifestation of the one God and therefore is God.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
The question that must be asked and answered is whether being the engraving or imprinting of something makes one that something? For example, scripture tells us we humans are made in the image of God. Yet we obviously are all separate individuals and are not one with God in the Trinitarian sense of being of un-separated substance and coequal. When coins are engraved, the coins don’t become equal with the engraving device.
As to an actor being able to play several roles by simply changing masks, an actor can only play one role at any given moment. Therefore, this analogy fails to support Trinitarian theology which teaches God is three persona (Greek hypostasis) all of the time at the same time. The idea of the actor changing masks to play different roles is much like the Modalistic model of God extant in earlier centuries.
The analogies we have discussed do little to support the Trinitarian concept of God. While there may be other analogies extant that do a better job of this, it must be pointed out that analogies are just that. They are analogies. While analogies can be helpful in clarifying a concept, they do not prove the validity of a concept. The validity of a concept must be established through evidence. Analogies are helpful only if they help clarify what the evidence has already established. Our objective in this series is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish the Trinitarian concept of God.
PART TWO
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART TWO
ONE GOD:
The Biblical scriptures teach there is a single God who is responsible for the existence and sustenance of all things. This monotheistic approach is the cornerstone of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism and Islam believe this God to be of a single undifferentiated substance and therefore an undifferentiated single entity. Trinitarianism theology teaches God to be of single substance with that substance differentiated into Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
To ancient Israel, God was identified as being one. Deuteronomy 6:4-5: Hear, O Israel: The LORD (YHWH) our God (Elohim), the LORD (YHWH) is one (echad). Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This proclamation does not identify the nature of the oneness of the God of Israel. It is simply a statement of monotheism, a statement saying there is one true God as opposed to polytheism which is a belief in the existence and efficacy of many gods. In Judaism, this statement is called the Shema which is the Hebrew word “to hear.” Jesus Christ affirmed monotheism in the first century. He was asked what the most important commandment was and He gave this answer:
Mark 12:29-30: "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord (kurios) our God (Theos), the Lord (kurios) is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
Mark 12:32: "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.
Mark 12:34: When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God.
Apostle Paul also affirms there is only one true God. I Corinthians 8:4: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. Here we see Paul contrasting the one true God with idols and showing that idols are not gods for there is only one God. Here again there is nothing explicit or implicit as to the composition of this one God.
A review of scripture reveals numerous statements in both Old and New Testaments that testify to a monotheistic view of God. Here are just a few such statements.
Deuteronomy 4:35: ... the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
Deuteronomy 4:39: Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
Deuteronomy 32:39: "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me.
Isaiah 45:5: I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
Isaiah 44:24: This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord (kurios), Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
The monotheistic view of God is sometimes referred to as a Unitarian (not to be confused with the Unitarian Church) view of God in which the nature of God is viewed as being undifferentiated and un-separated single substance and therefore a single person or entity. Unitarianians cite scriptures such as John 17:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6 and 1 Timothy 2:5 as proof of the separation and differentiation existing between God and Jesus Christ.
Unitarianism is thus contrasted with Trinitarianism which defines God as one substance but differentiated or distinguished into three coequal and coeternal persons. Unitarians sometimes accuse Trinitarians of being polytheistic by believing in a pluralistic God. Trinitarians respond that they believe in one God but that this one God is composed of three coequal and coeternal persons. There are some Christians called Binitarians who believe God’s oneness is composed of the two persons of Father and Son but the Holy Spirit is a common power to the both of them and is not a person of the oneness that is God.
As briefly discussed earlier in this series, some sects of Christianity see the one God as a God Family currently consisting of two Divine God Beings, Father and the Son. It is believed humans can be born into this family through resurrection. Some go so far as to say we will become God as God is God. Those taking this position get around accusations of polytheism by defining the one God as a God Family. Under this concept, the Father and the Son are seen as two separate individuals with the Holy Spirit being mind and power common to the both of them. The family of God concept does not view God as being one entity having plural composition as seen in Trinitarianism. Father and Son are viewed as two separate entities, coeternal but not coequal as the Father is seen as greater than the son. While the Father and Son are seen as being of the same substance, they exist as separate Beings.
Polytheism by definition is the belief in two or more separate gods looked upon as having Divine attributes with no particular god seen as a one and only true supreme God. Monotheism by definition is the belief in God being one single entity of single substance and being Supreme above all else that might be called god. Viewing God as a family of two or more Divine individuals with potential for additional members appears on the surface to be polytheism. On the other hand, if the Father is considered the one and only Supreme God within a Family of Divine Beings where the Son is lower in status than the Father and where others of lower status are able to become part of this God family, this concept would not come under a strict polytheistic definition.
As can be seen, most Christians view God in a monotheistic manner and therefore feel they are in harmony with what the Biblical scriptures teach as to God being one or there being only one God. The problem is that there are two different definitions of monotheism. Unitarians view statements about God being one as statements of God's undifferentiated singleness of composition. Trinitarians and Binitarians see statements about the oneness of God as a differentiated plurality of composition. Therefore, the question before us is not the oneness of God per se but how that oneness is to be defined.
THE COMPOSITION OF GOD:
Trinitarianism is all about the composition of God. Trinitarianism teaches the one true God is composed of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. It is firmly maintained that this composition is the one substance called God. God is not three Gods but one God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This one God is of single substance but manifested as three distinctions of the single substance.
Some believe the Trinitarian composition of God has its roots in the Old Testament (OT) including the Shema. The word translated "one" found in the Shema is from the Hebrew echad. Because of the manner in which this word is used in various OT scriptures, it is felt oneness can be seen as being composed of more than a single entity. This word is felt to express “compound unity.” It is argued that echad, when modifying a collective noun such as “cluster,” implies a plurality in echad. An example that is used is Numbers 13:23: “they cut off a branch bearing a single (echad) cluster of grapes.” Since the word “cluster” is a collective noun in so much as it implies more than one entity making up the cluster, it is felt echad, in modifying the noun, implies more than one entity. Some other scriptures used to suggest echad implies a “compound unity” are as follows:
Genesis 2:24: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one (echad) flesh. Here we see two individuals being defined as one.
Genesis 34:16: Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We'll settle among you and become one (echad) people with you. Here we find “one” including several cultures of people.
Ezra 42:64: The whole (echad) company numbered 42,360. Here “one” is translated whole and includes thousands of people.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
To argue that echad can signify more than a single entity making up oneness is problematical. The Hebrew echad is associated with the numerical one and appears hundreds of times in the OT as designating the absolute singleness of something where there is no hint of differentiation of the one. In the example of the man and woman becoming one flesh, however, there is a differentiation as we see two separate fleshes making up the one flesh. We know that a man and women do not literally become one flesh but remain two separate fleshes. Therefore we know this is a figurative statement where their oneness does not mean they literally become one single flesh.
In the example of two peoples becoming one people, the two peoples still remain autonomous. They become one only in the sense of becoming one cultural group through intermarriage. Their oneness as a people does not involve them becoming a single substance. Trinitarian theology demands that God is of a single substance but the substance is composed of three persons. These persons are seen not as autonomous but as of single substance and nature. The one cultural group in our example above does not become of single substance and nature which is what echad, by itself as a numeral one, implies. When dealing with a collective noun such as “people” the sense of plurality is in the collective noun and not in the modifier. Therefore the use of echad as a supposed “compound unity” to define the tri-unity of God is an unnecessary and forced methodology in support of Trinitarianism.
Some will argue that because the Hebrew elohim, translated God in the OT, is a plural (collective) noun, it shows plurality within God. Therefore when echad is used in association with elohim the sense is that there is one God in which there resides plurality. We will address the elohim issue in depth below.
It is also argued that if the writer of the Shema had wanted to express an absolute oneness of God he would have used yachid in the Shema rather than echad. The Hebrew word yachid is felt to express the idea of absolute oneness in the OT. For example in Genesis 22:2, God says to Abraham: "Take your son, your only (yachid) son, Isaac.” Yachid appears eleven times in the OT scripture and is never used in association with God. This argument has no real credibility.
In summery, when echad is found with a noun suggesting plurality, such as in Numbers 13:23, it indicates a single unit of that plurality. When the Shema identifies the noun God as “one,” it is identifying God as a single unit. The Shema does not, however, define the composition of that single unit. Unitarians define this single unit as undifferentiated. Trinitarians define the single unit of God as differentiated and therefore a plurality. Trinitarians argue the oneness of God is defined as the plurality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Shema simply states there is one single God as opposed to many gods but it does not define the composition of this one God. As indicated above, the real question before us is what does the oneness of God mean. Is there evidence for there being plurality of Being in the one God? The remainder of this multipart series will deal with identifying whether the one true God is a plurality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit or identified in some other way. In so doing, we will also consider the nature of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
GOD AS ELOHIM IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Hebrew word for God in this passage is elohim. This word appears over 2,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and is used most of the time to identify the one true God. Elohim appears in a plural form and because elohim appears in a plural form, some have concluded this word has an implicit connotation of there being plurality of Being in the one God. Proponents of the “Family of God” concept place great weight on this connotation as establishing God as two separate God Beings of Father and Son.
The Hebrew Soncino Commentary shows elohim to be a plural word in the Hebrew language and “is often used in Hebrew to denote plenitude of might.” The Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament defines elohim as “plural of majesty.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states the plural elohim is “usually described as a plural of majesty and not intended as a true plural when used of God as this noun is consistently used with singular verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular.” Examples of this are found in association with the creation account in Genesis chapter one.
Genesis 1:27-31: So God (elohim throughout) created man in his (singular pronoun) own image, in the image of God he (singular pronoun) created him; male and female he (singular pronoun) created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I (singular) give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I (singular) give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he (singular) had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.
Further evidence that elohim does not imply plurality of Being in and of itself is found in how this word is used in other scriptural passages. For example, in Exodus 7:1 we read, “Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God (elohim) to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” Moses is one single person and obviously not made up of several persons as is believed by Trinitarians to be the case with God. Another example is found in 1 Samuel 5:7 where the Philistines had captured the ark of the God of Israel and set it next to their god Dagon in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod. Israel’s God began to bring judgement upon the people of Ashdod which led to the following conclusion:
1 Samuel 5:7: When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of the god (elohim) of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god (elohim)."
Here we find elohim freely used to describe both the God of Israel and Dagon the god of the Philistines. There is no reason to believe Dagon was of plural composition. The god of the Amorites, called Chemosh, is called elohim in Judges 11:24. It is obvious when looking at the manner elohim is used throughout the OT scriptures it simply means plenitude of might or plural of majesty as the Hebrew Lexicons clearly show. Therefore, this word is used to define not only the one true God but also pagan gods, and human beings who are granted or perceived of having great authority and might. This word is also seen as pertaining to angels. In some cases it is found by context to identify a group of “gods,” either supernatural in nature or referencing man.
In view of elohim being used to define not only the one true God but also pagan gods, other supernatural beings and even man, it should be clear that elohim does not intrinsically mean Deity. Other information must be known to establish Deity allowing for elohim to describe the one true God.
In Psalm 8:4-5: we read, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings (elohim)” (NIV). The Septuagint (The Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made around 250 B.C.) translates elohim in this passage as angelos which is the Greek word for angel or messenger. The King James and New King James translations apparently follow the Greek and translate elohim as angels. The American Standard, New American Standard and Revised Standard translations of the Bible translate elohim as god in this passage which indicates these translators are translating directly from the Hebrew text. By translating elohim as “heavenly beings” it appears the NIV translators are taking a somewhat neutral approach. It is the Septuagint that the writer of Hebrews apparently used when he quotes from this psalm and goes on to describe Jesus being made in the same fashion as man.
Hebrews 2: 6-9: But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
The writer of this document is quoting Psalm 8:4-5 and using the Greek translation of elohim as angels. What is interesting is that elohim is recognized as having plural meaning in this Psalm as it is translated as the Greek plural angelos. In English it is then translated into the English plural of angels or messengers as some translations have it. What is of greater interest is that the writer to the Hebrews teaches that man and Jesus were made a little lower than elohim. If the Psalmist is using elohim to refer to the one true God, this has implications as to our understanding of the origin and the nature of Jesus. Was Jesus a coequal member of a Triune God who through incarnation became man and thus with man became lower than elohim or was Jesus lower than elohim from the beginning which would suggest He was created that way or eternally existed that way. If elohim is referring to angels in this passage, there is the question as to when Jesus became lower than the angels. We will be studying the relationship of Jesus to elohim in depth as we move along in this series.
It is sometimes argued that Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..,” shows a plurality in God because of the use of plural pronouns “us” and “our.” In verse 27, however, there is an immediate return to the use of singular pronouns to modify the word for God (Elohim). “So God created man in his (singular) own image, in the image of God he (singular) created him; male and female he (singular) created them.” The singular pronouns show God as a single entity. Yet the language of Genesis 1:26 indicates this single entity called God is communicating with others having the same image and likeness as that with which God intends to create man.
Trinitarian theology teaches that God is a single entity (one substance) made up of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To a Trinitarian, therefore, the singular pronoun identification of God in the above passages is not a problem because God is believed to be of a single substance made of plural composition. Trinitarians believe in the singularity of God but define that singularity as composed of plurality no different than many believe man is a singularity composed of the plurality of body, soul and spirit. Genesis 1:27 is therefore seen as God literally talking to Himself as part of the plurality that is the one God. This is seen as analogous to a man talking to his singular self made up of the plurality of body, soul and spirit. Humans talk to themselves all the time where it is believed the human spirit (mind) interacts with the soul (life) and material body of the man.
So while it is evident that elohim, as it relates to the one God, does not imply plurality of Being in and of itself as seen in its association with singular modifiers, Trinitarians see plurality in elohim because of what is stated in Genesis 1:26 and a variety of other scriptural passages which we will examine as we continue in this series. Since Unitarians do not define God as a plurality, they do not see God talking to Himself in Genesis 1:26. Unitarians see God talking to an attendant council of angels and possibly other supernatural beings who themselves may have been created in the image and likeness of the one God. Job 38:1-7 is cited where God is speaking to Job about His creation of the earth and refers to it being a time when, “all the angels shouted for joy.” Trinitarians see Elohim as possibly talking to a pre-existent Jesus, the Son, and the person of the Holy Spirit who are part of a Triune Godhead. On the other hand, we could be simply looking at a figure of speech as it is very common to use collective words such as we, our and us in conversation while all the time meaning one. I just did so when I wrote, “we could be simply…”
GOD AS “YHWH” IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
While elohim does not have intrinsic meaning of Deity, the word YHWH does. This word appears 6,828 times in the OT and is understood to be the actual name of the Creator God. YHWH is invariably accompanied by singular personal pronouns and verbs in the singular. YHWH is often referred to as the Tetragrammaton, which is a Greek word meaning “word of four letters.” The Hebrew language does not have vowels but only consonants and semi-consonants. YHWH is composed of four semi-consonants. Vowels must be supplied in the speaking and writing of this language. Between the seventh and tenth centuries A.D. a group of Jewish scribes and scholars called Masoretes began to insert “vowel points” in the Hebrew text for better clarity of meaning but left YHWH as is. Consequently we can’t be sure how to pronounce or write this name to this very day.
YHWH is an English transliteration of this Hebrew name for God. A transliteration is the taking of letters in one alphabet and matching them to corresponding letters in another alphabet. Since the vowels are missing in YHWH, all spellings of YHWH are interpretations of what the transliteration YHWH may sound like. For example, the American Standard Bible spells YHWH as Jehovah and the New Jerusalem Bible spells YHWH as Yahweh. Other spellings that are used include Yahveh, Yehweh,Yahvah. I describe these renditions as spellings because they are neither transliterations nor translations. As already mentioned, transliteration is a letter for letter rendition of a word. Since vowels are not present in YHWH, an attempt to spell it with words having vowels is not transliteration but interpretation. Translation is identifying the meaning of words in one language and then finding words in another language that best represent that meaning. Those spelling YHWH in different ways are not establishing meaning for YHWH but simply interpreting the sound of this word.
Most English versions of the OT scriptures translate YHWH as LORD. The Septuagint (Greek translation) and Vulgate (Latin translation) of the Hebrew Scriptures use their equivalent of the word "Lord" as well. The word is spelled in all caps to signify its divine application. It is interesting to note that the spelling Jehovah appears in some English versions of the Bible when a need is felt to use an application other than LORD in reference to YHWH. For example the KJV spells YHWH as Jehovah in the following scripture:
Exodus 3:6: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. This spelling occurs seven times in the KJV. Since Jehovah is but one of many ways to try and spell YHWH, this spelling is no more accurate than any other. Of the various spellings considered over the centuries, according to some scholars, Yahweh appears to be the most likely way to render YHWH.
The precise meaning of YHWH is much debated. It appears to be taken from the Hebrew root word hayah which has the meaning of “be” or “become.” YHWH came to signify self existent one or eternal one. In Exodus 3:13-14, God identifies Himself to Moses as ehyeh asher ehyeh which is often translated into English as "I am that I am." We will discuss ehyeh asher ehyeh in greater depth when we address the “I Am” statements of the NT later in this series. We will see that ehyeh asher ehyeh is not the name of God but is a declaration of God’s intention to fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We will see that God’s name is YHWH which is made plain in Exodus 3:15 and Isaiah 42:8.
Exodus 3:13-14: Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'"
Exodus 3:15: God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, `The LORD, (YHWH) the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Isaiah 42:8: I am the LORD; (YHWH) that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.
As already mentioned, when the Masoretes began to add vowel points to the Hebrew text they left YHWH as YHWH. However, in 134 passages where YHWH appears in the text they substituted the Hebrew word Adonai (sometimes spelled Adonay) translated as Lord with a capitol L to designate the one true God. This was done because it was believed the name YHWH was to sacred to pronounce, a belief long time extant in Israel. Since our English translations of the Hebrew Scriptures are often taken from Masoretic Hebrew texts, we find this combination of LORD for YHWH and Lord for Adonai in our English Bibles. Adonai is also found in pre-Masoretic Hebrew manuscripts being used as a replacement for YHWH in the text and translated as Lord in the English
GOD AS LORD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
The Hebrew word adon is used multiple hundreds of times in the OT in association with Elohim, YHWH, and man. Adon is translated as Lord or lord depending on the suffix attached to this word. Its basic meaning is lord or master. It is used to describe the owner of someone or something. When found as descriptive of YHWH or Elohim this word appears in the Hebrew with the suffix “ai” as Adonai. When adon appears with the suffix “i” it becomes adoni and in this form is never used to describe Deity but is applied to man. Adoni is often translated into the English word master. For example, the servants of Abraham consistently refer to him as adoni which is translated master. The Pharaoh of Egypt is called adoni. So are Joseph and the kings of Israel.
Adonai is mostly seen as a reference to Deity and is often found in a plural form but modified by a singular pronoun. In such cases it takes on the same meaning as the plural elohim and signifies plural of majesty. Since the root word adon can reference both God and man, the word does not have intrinsic meaning of Deity as does YHWH. In its form as adonai, as is true of elohim, it is sometimes applied to an angel or a human who has attained a high status. However, adonai is used the majority of the time in association with YHWH. Adonai is found 449 times in the OT in association with YHWH or Elohim in reference to the one true God.
YHWH is translated as LORD in most English translations and adonai is also translated as Lord but with a capital L followed by lower case letters instead of all caps. Adoni is translated as lord with all lower case letters except in Psalm 110:1, where in many translations adoni is found to be translated Lord with a capitol L. This has led many commentaries to assume the Hebrew in this passage is adonai rather than adoni. This assumption has led to Psalm 110:1 being used as major scriptural support for the Trinitarian concept of God as it is believed David references the Father and Son as both being God in this passage.
Psalm 110:1: The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
The word translated LORD in Psalm 110:1 is YHWH and therefore the one true God is identified by His name. The second word Lord in this passage is adoni. This form of the Hebrew word adon is not used in the Hebrew Scriptures to identify Deity but always references man in some position of authority and power and a few times references angels. Here are several examples where adoni is used to refer to man in contrast to references to God as YHWH and Elohim.
1 Kings 1:36-37: Benewah son of Jehoiada answered the king, "Amen! May the LORD (YHWH), the God (Elohim) of my lord (adoni) the king, so declare it. As the LORD (YHWH) was with my lord (adoni) the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord (adoni) King David!"
1 Samuel 24:6: He said to his men, "The LORD (YHWH) forbid that I should do such a thing to my master (adoni), the LORD's (YHWH) anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD. (YHWH)”
Numbers 36:2: And they said, The LORD (YHWH) commanded my lord (adoni) to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord (adoni) was commanded by the LORD (YHWH) to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters.
Adoni is used in reference to man and a few times to angels in every one of the 198 passages in which it occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Septuagint (Greek rendering of the Hebrew Scriptures) translation of Psalm 110:1, adoni is translated as “ho kurios mou” which in English means “my lord.”
Only in Psalm 110, is adoni translated with a capitol L in many English translations. In every other passage where adoni and YHWH appear in the same sentence, adoni is found with a lower case L and to reference a human in contrast to YHWH God. It is interesting to note that some English versions of the scriptures, such as the Revised and New Revised Standard Version, the New American Bible and the Moffatt translation, do not use the capitol L for “lord” in Psalm 110:1, but use the lower case L because the translators realized the Hebrew word adoni does not mean Deity and therefore should not be made to look as though it does. In view of all this, it is interesting to look at what Apostle Peter wrote.
Acts 2:34-36: For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "`The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." ' "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Apostle Peter shows the prophetic nature of David’s statement and records that the Lord, who David referred to, is none other than Jesus Christ, to whom has been given authority and power as the promised Messiah. Note that Peter says God has made Jesus Lord and Christ (Greek Christos which means anointed one). When Peter says God has made Jesus Lord, it must be understood that to be consistent, Peter is using Lord in the same sense as David did and David used the word adoni which is not used of Deity but of man throughout the OT. Peter is saying that God has elevated Jesus to a position of lordship (having power and authority) as the promised Christ (the anointed one). Notice also that in the quote from the Psalm, “YHWH says to adoni “sit at my right hand” which implies a separation of Beings as opposed to the non-separation that Trinitarianism demands.
It is believed by Non-Trinitarians that Psalm 110:1 provides absolute proof that Jesus is not God as God is God but is instead God's agent in facilitating His will. Jesus is seen as the lord Messiah who now operates at the right hand of the LORD (YHWH), the one and only Supreme God. Position A Non Trinitarians see Psalm 110:1 as evidence that Jesus was lord in the same way as others were lord in the OT with the exception that Jesus was directly begotten by the Father, was given fullness of the Holy Spirit, lived a sinless life and through crucifixion and resurrection was elevated to the highest position of power and authority possible in the universe while remaining under the Father's authority and therefore not coequal with the Father.
PART THREE
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART THREE
GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
The Greek word translated “God” in the NT is theos. It occurs in the NT 1,343 times. The Greek theos is used to define beings having power, authority and majesty. It is equivalent to elohim in the OT as we find elohim in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) translated as theos. Therefore, as is true of elohim in the OT, theos can apply to the one true God, pagan gods, and even to humans who have been granted power and authority. Theos is used to apply to Greek gods in Greek literature. Therefore, theos does not have intrinsic meaning of absolute Deity but can be used to apply to one considered Deity or having the powers of Deity. In the NT we see theos applied to the one true God in hundreds of passages including passages referring to God as Father and God as the Father of Jesus. We also see theos referencing Jesus Christ in several NT passages. We will be examining these passages in depth to determine if these references to Jesus as Theos establish that Jesus is God as part of a Trinitarian unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit or is Jesus god, a personage of granted power and authority but not a hypostasis of the one God.
GOD AS LORD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:
The Greek word translated “Lord” in the NT is kurios. This word appears 749 times in the NT. Its basic meaning is to have power and authority and characterizes a person to whom another person or thing belongs. The word implies someone having power over others. It also denotes a respect and reverence with which servants greet their master. This word does not have intrinsic meaning of Deity and therefore its application to someone does not establish their being Deity. Other information must be factored in to establish Deity. In NT scripture, kurios is applied to God the Father and to Jesus Christ and occasionally to others. The great majority of the time it is applied to Christ thereby identifying Christ as having power and authority and worthy of reverence. Since kurios is used to identify God the Father as lord, Jesus as lord and some others as lord, it is necessary to determine when lord should be viewed as reflecting the meaning of Hebrew names for God such as YHWH, Elohim and Adonai or reflecting the meaning of adoni which applies to a non-deity.
IS THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, GOD?
I phrased this question in this manner because the Trinitarian definition of God is not that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are God, but rather Father, Son and Holy Spirit is God. This is what God is. There is no separation in God, only distinctions. To say God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are God is to imply three Gods. Trinitarians don’t believe in three Gods. They see God as one, just as Non-Trinitarians do. But they see this one God as a composite of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Is this the way God is defined in the scriptures? Again, I need to stress that our focus in this series of essays is to carefully and objectively examine the scriptures to see if they provide the evidence necessary to establish a Trinitarian view of God or some other view of God.
Although Trinitarians define God as Father, Son and Spirit, this definition of God is not explicit in the scriptures. Nowhere do the scriptures say God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This definition of God is arrived at by first identifying the Father as God, the Son Jesus as God and the Holy Spirit as God and then concluding that since the scriptures teach there is one God, these three entities identified as God must be of a single, un-separated substance while maintaining distinctions as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In order to validate this conclusion, we must take this same approach in first identifying Father as God, Jesus as God and the Holy Spirit as God and then, if this identification can be accomplished, see if these three entities are found to be of single un-separated substance while maintaining separate distinctions.
GOD THE FATHER IN THE OT:
The scriptures show that one title of the one God is Father. Trinitarian doctrine teaches one person or hypostasis of the Trinity to be God the Father. God as Father is seen in a variety of OT writings.
Deuteronomy 32:6: Is this the way you repay the LORD, (YHWH) O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
Isaiah 63:16: You, O LORD, (YHWH) are our Father; our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Isaiah 64:8: Yet, O LORD, (YHWH) you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Psalm 89:26: He will call out to me, You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior (The He, refers to David calling out to God).
Malachi 2: 10: Have we not all one Father? Did not one God (Elohim) create us?
Here we see YHWH, who is identified as the one true God throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, seen as Creator and possessing the title Father. God is seen as Father some fifteen times in OT scripture. Note that the Father is also named Redeemer and the Rock my Savior.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
In the OT passages cited above, YHWH is called Father. Because YHWH is called Redeemer and the Rock my Savior, some believe Jesus is the YHWH of the OT and therefore YHWH is the Son. Reference is made to the relationship between Paul’s statements that the rock that accompanied Israel was Christ and statements in the OT relating YHWH to a rock.
1 Corinthians 10:4: and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Deuteronomy 32: 3-4: I will proclaim the name of the LORD (YHWH). Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.
1 Samuel 2:2: There is no one holy like the LORD (YHWH); there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
2 Samuel 22:32: For who is God besides the LORD (YHWH)? And who is the Rock except our God?
Psalm 18:2: The LORD (YHWH) is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Isaiah 44:8: Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
In Isaiah 9: 6-7, appears a prophecy of the coming of Jesus. In this prophecy the child to be born is described as Mighty God and Everlasting Father. Since YHWH is identified as Father and Mighty God in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is believed this passage about the coming of the Son identifies the Son as YHWH.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty (gibbor) God (el), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD (YHWH) Almighty (gibbor) will accomplish this.
The Hebrew for mighty is gibbor and means to be powerful, strong and impetuous. In the Hebrew Scripture this word is used around 150 times and refers to men about 95% of the time with only a few references to God. The Hebrew word for God in this passage is el. This word means strong, mighty and mighty hero. This word appears around 200 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and is largely used in reference to the one true God but is also used of men and angels.
Exodus 3:15 identifies YHWH as the name of the one true God. YHWH is also identified in the Hebrew Scriptures as the Father. In Trinitarian theology there is distinction between the Father and the Son as there is throughout the scriptures. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. If YHWH is the Father, YHWH is not the Son. Therefore, if YHWH is the one and only Supreme God the Father and the Son is not YHWH, then the Son cannot be a distinction within the one God who is exclusively YHWH and Father. Furthermore, if the phrase “The zeal of the LORD (YHWH) Almighty (gibbor) will accomplish this” is referring to the one true God as the facilitator of the events just described, there is an obvious separation of Being between YHWH and the one to be born.
Trinitarians may argue that YHWH means the one God in which reside Father, Son and Spirit. Nowhere, however, do the Hebrew Scriptures suggest this. Nowhere is it said that the Father and the Son, let alone the Spirit, are YHWH. Instead, in an OT passage dealing with the promised Messiah, the promised Messiah speaks or acts in the strength of YHWH and calls YHWH his God. If YHWH is his God, then how can He be YHWH?
Micah 5:4: He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD (YHWH), in the majesty of the name of the LORD (YHWH) his God (Elohim). And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
In another prophecy uttered many years after the reign and death of King David, Ezekiel writes that YHWH will establish David as a Prince over Israel. We know that scripture shows the Messiah to be a descendant of David and in scripture is identified with David in Messianic prophecies.
Ezekiel 34:23-24: I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD (YHWH) will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD (YHWH) have spoken.
This passage of scripture shows YHWH as the God of Israel in contrast to a servant of YHWH spoken of as the Prince David who will be their shepherd. If the Prince is a reference to Christ, which it would appear to be, then Christ, as the Son of God, is shown to be a servant to YHWH. This would preclude Christ being YHWH.
It would appear that in Jesus being called “Mighty God” and Everlasting Father, these are titles of honor given to Jesus Christ as God’s agent in facilitating the Father's will in becoming the promised Messiah. These titles do not mean the Messiah is God as God is God as it is plain from the passage in Micah that the Messiah relates to YHWH as His God. If the Messiah is God (YHWH Elohim) as God is God, this passage makes no sense. It is interesting to note the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) translates “Everlasting Father” as “Father of the age to come” and the Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, translates “Mighty God” as “divine hero.”
In regard to the use of “rock” to describe YHWH, there are dozens of such references to YHWH in the OT narrative. In the NT there are four references to Christ as being a rock with only the passage in 1 Corinthians 10:4 associating Christ, as the rock who accompanied Israel. Do such references to Christ as a rock (Greek petra) correspond to Christ being YHWH since YHWH is referenced as a rock (Hebrew tsur which is equivalent to the Greek word petra)?
I have already shown the difficulty with concluding the Son is YHWH seeing that the scriptures show the Son, as the promised Messiah, relating to YHWH as His YHWH and God (Elohim) and being a servant of YHWH. Furthermore, the Hebrew Scriptures identify YHWH as Father and nowhere identify YHWH as Father and Son. As will be seen in the scriptures under the next heading, God as Father is continually identified in the NT in contrast to the Son with no hint of them being of one substance in a Triune relationship with the Spirit. It would appear that references to YHWH and Jesus as being a rock are simply symbolic representations of their power and authority. In the case of YHWH, supreme power and authority. In the case of Jesus, ascribed power and authority.
If the Son is not the rock of the OT, why does Paul identify Jesus as the rock that accompanied Israel? One possibility is that YHWH used the Son as His agent to work with Israel. We find YHWH associated with Israel throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Since the scriptures show the Son as the agent though whom YHWH created all things, it could very well be the Son was the active agent representing YHWH in relations with Israel. This would not require the Son to be YHWH or to be God as God is God but simply God’s agent carrying out God’s will. This issue needs further exploration.
GOD THE FATHER IN THE NT:
In the New Testament (NT), God is identified as Father many times and Father is the most repeated manner in which God is portrayed. Jesus Christ repeatedly speaks of God as the Father and specifically speaks of God as His Father. The NT clearly identifies God as Father and specifically as the Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is identified multiple times as the Son of God the Father and thus it is clearly shown God is His Father. Here is a sampling of God being identified as Father in the NT.
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God (theos), the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord (kurios), Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord (kurios), one faith, one baptism; one God (Theos) and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Galatians 1:3-4: Grace and peace to you from God (Theos) our Father and the Lord (kurios) Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God (Theos) and Father,
1 Thessalonians 3:11: Now may our God (Theos) and Father himself and our Lord (kurios) Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.
Romans 15:5-6: May the God (Theos) who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God (Theos) and Father of our Lord (kurios) Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3: Praise be to the God (Theos) and Father of our Lord (kurios) Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God (Theos) of all comfort.
Revelation 1:4-6: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God (Theos) and Father.
These NT scriptures clearly show the Father is God. It must be pointed out, however, that in the six NT scriptures quoted above and in other similar NT passages; there is a straightforward dichotomy between the Father and Jesus Christ. In I Corinthians 8:6 God is identified as the one God the Father in contrast to the one Lord, Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 4:4-6, a distinction is made between the one Lord, referring to Jesus Christ, and the one God and Father of all. In Galatians 1:3-4 and 1 Thessalonians 3:11, a definite distinction is made between God the Father and Jesus Christ. In Romans 15:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 1:3, God is referred to as the God and Father of Jesus and in the passage from the Revelation we see God the Father being served as the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
Non-Trinitarians believe these scriptures clearly identify God the Father and Jesus Christ to be separate individuals with God the Father being the one God over all creation including His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus accomplished as the human Messiah, He is seen as having been given or returned to supreme authority, power and majesty but still remains separate from and subject to the one God who is the Father. Non-Trinitarians cannot see how Jesus can be constantly distinguished from God the Father and be considered as consubstantial and coequal with the Father.
Trinitarians see the above quoted scriptures as simply identifying two of the three distinctions of a Triune God. It is believed that the distinction called the Son became the human Jesus to facilitate reconciliation with the Father. In doing so the Son never became disassociated from the Trinity but simply became an embodied manifestation of the distinction in the Trinity that is known as the Son. The Son is seen as having added humanity to Him while not in any way losing Deity. The separateness seen while the Son existed as the human Jesus is seen as one of functionality and not one of substance or ontological nature. Jesus is seen as a human manifestation of the Son distinction in God. As the human Jesus, He is seen as functionally subservient to the Father but remains coequal ontologically with the Father in His pre-existent eternal state.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
In order to use the six scriptures quoted above in support of the Trinitarian concept of God you virtually must assume Trinitarianism to begin with. You must assume Jesus and the Father are coequal, coeternal and of one substance. You don’t get this perspective from these scriptures. These scriptures give the obvious and straightforward perspective that there is one God called Father who as creator is above all including Jesus. To avoid this obvious conclusion, the Trinitarian must assume these scriptures are dealing strictly with an earthly existence of God's manifestation of Himself as Son and that when Father and Son are dichotomized in these scriptures it pertains only to the physical Jesus relating in a physical way to the distinction called Father in the plurality believed to be Father, Son and Spirit.
A problem for the Trinitarian position in regard to the NT scriptures cited above is that all these dichotomist statements regarding the Father and Jesus were made after Jesus had ascended to be with the Father. Apostle Paul’s writings consistently show the Father and Jesus as separate individuals after the ascension of Jesus with no hint of their being in a coequal Triune relationship. If Jesus is part of a Triune God, Paul is apparently unaware of it and writes about the Father and Jesus after His ascension as though they are the same two separate individuals they were when the Son was on earth as the physical man Jesus. The angel seen as giving the Revelation to John is seen as receiving it directly from Jesus who received it from God. Yet in this message Jesus speaks of Christians serving His God and Father. If Jesus, in His glorified state, is a coequal with the Father, why the reference to “His God and Father?” God is shown as being separate from Jesus. If God is separate from Jesus then Jesus can’t be God in the Trinitarian sense. The implication is that the one and only Supreme God is the Father and since Jesus is not the Father, Jesus is not God. The Father is the God of Jesus and not coequal with Jesus. God is greater than Jesus, not only when Jesus was a human, but even now in Jesus’ glorified state. Therefore, the Son is not coequal with the Father. There is absolutely no hint in these passages of God being a Trinitarian union of Father, Son and Spirit. Just the opposite is suggested.
If one never heard of the Trinity and read the scriptural passages cited above, one would not conclude that God the Father and Jesus Christ are in a coequal, coeternal, single substance and single entity relationship. One would conclude that God the Father is one entity and Jesus Christ is another and different entity. Therefore, it must be from other scriptural passages that the Trinitarian concept of God is established. Our focus will be on examining such scriptural passages to see if they do establish the Trinitarian view and if so, how can they be harmonized with scriptures already cited that at face value present a different view.
We must also consider the Hebrew Shema. In Deuteronomy 6:4 YHWH is identified as the one God. In Deuteronomy 32:6, and various other OT passages, YHWH is identified as Father. Jesus affirms the Shema in Mark 12:29. If YHWH, as the one God is the Father, then the one God is the Father. Since the Son is not the Father, Jesus can’t be the one God. This harmonizes well with NT scriptures which identify the one God as the Father.
PART FOUR
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART FOUR
IS JESUS GOD?
John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Verse 14: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (KJV).
These statements at the beginning of John’s Gospel are seen by Trinitarians as strong evidence that Jesus is God. John identifies the Word as being made flesh and being begotten of the Father. John also says the Word was God. The passage says the Word was with God and at the same time was God. Trinitarians ask how this could be unless Jesus the Son and God the Father are in some kind of one substance relationship that makes being with God the same as being God. Trinitarians see the Trinity as the obvious answer to this dilemma.
Position A Non-Trinitarians point out that translations of the NT beginning with the KJV have, by and large, capitalized “Word” because of assuming it is referencing Jesus Christ. Word is translated from the Greek logos which appears 330 times in the NT and is translated primarily as “word” or “saying” with its basic meaning being “to speak.” It contains nothing in it definition to suggest “spokesman” or Deity. Some translations prior to the 1611 KJV did not capitalize “Word” since it is not capitalized in the Greek texts used in translation. It is pointed out that the Greek texts of the NT capitalize the Greek words for God and Jesus in John chapter one but not the word logos. It is believed John didn’t view logos as referring to Christ but to the thought, will and purpose of the Father. For example, the Tyndale translation of the NT printed in 1526 in the English of that day reads as follows:
John 1: 1-3: In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God. The same was in the beginnynge with God. All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made.
In this translation “word” is not capitalized and because “it” is used instead of “Him” to refer to “word,” it is seen as not referencing a person at all but as referencing the thought of the one God. It is pointed out that in all eight English versions before the KJV translation, the word “it” is used instead of “Him” to express what the word does. Therefore, it is believed the word represents the expressed thought of God in His creation of all things, including the direct begettal of Jesus Christ through God's Spirit in the womb of His human mother Mary.
The phrase “and the word was with God” is not seen as a person being with God but as purpose, knowledge and wisdom being with God. Job 12:13 is referenced where Job speaks of God by saying, “With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.” In Proverbs 8:22-31, wisdom (Hebrew qanah) is very similar in meaning to logos and shows the role of God’s thought in the creation process. Other scriptures show God through knowledge wisdom, and purpose of thought created the world by speaking it into existence. The phrase, “and the word was God” is seen as God’s knowledge, wisdom and purpose personified in God. Personification of knowledge and wisdom is common in the wisdom literature of the OT. The language of John 1:1 is felt to show that knowledge; wisdom and purpose (the word or speech of God) have been with the one God from the beginning and are personified in God. The phrase in John 1:2, “the same was in the beginning with God” is seen as a recapitulation of the word (thought wisdom and purpose) being with God.
It is from this understanding of John 1:1-2, that verse 14 is understood to refer to the word of God as God’s knowledge, wisdom and eternal purpose being expressed in the creation of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah who upon completing his Father’s will on earth is elevated to the right hand of his Father God and given great power and authority. Therefore, Jesus is not seen as being part of a pre-existing or presently existing Trinity or as an incarnation of the one God. Jesus is not seen as being God at all. Jesus is seen as the completely human Son of the one God who called God His Father because of the Father’s direct role in his conception and because God is pictured as Father in OT scripture. Jesus is seen as God’s anointed envoy to facilitate God’s purpose to have man become adoptive sons of God in an eternal relationship with Himself and with Jesus. Jesus is seen as fulfilling all of God’s will and subsequently elevated to the highest position in the universe next to God Himself.
Those taking this position as to the nature of Jesus point to the message delivered to Mary by the angel Gabriel as recorded in Luke and believe this message clearly defines God as Father of Jesus and source of the Holy Spirit which is seen as being God’s power. The Holy Spirit is not seen as a person, and it is noted that Holy Spirit is not capitalized in the Greek texts.
Luke 1:31-35: You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born (Greek gennao) will be called the Son of God.
It is argued that the one eternal creator God, here pictured as “the Most High,” would by His power (Holy Spirit) beget Jesus who through the Virgin Mary is a human descendant of David. This totally human descendant of David would be given David’s throne and because of being conceived by the power of God and later resurrected by God’s power to eternal life, Jesus would be called the Son of God. Several additional scriptures are quoted to support this position.
Romans 1:3-4: regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 13:32-35: "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: "`You are my Son; today I have become (Greek gennao: In KJV, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.) your Father.' The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: "`I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.'
These passages are seen to teach that the Father/Son relationship was consummated at the resurrection when Jesus was granted eternal life. This relationship is not seen as Jesus having been God or becoming God. Jesus is seen as being exulted to the right hand of God through resurrection from the dead. Jesus is not seen as “eternally begotten” as described in the Creeds, but as a human born through Divine conception in Mary’s womb and through resurrection becoming the Son of God, not God the Son.
Some believe Jesus became the Son of the Father when He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. This belief is based on some early Greek manuscripts showing Luke’s account of Christ’s baptism to read “This day have I begotten thee” (Luke 3:22).
To summarize the position A view, the Son became the Son, Jesus the Christ, at His human conception. Therefore, the Son was the literal personification of the thought and will of the Father God which was to send a Savior into the world as promised from the beginning. The word of God, as it relates to Christ, is seen as God's thought, will and purpose in providing a redeemer to mankind. Jesus became the physical product of what was in the mind of God from the beginning. This would be similar to a human planning to do something in his mind and then physically producing it. All references to Jesus apparent existence prior to His physical existence (such as God creating all things through Christ) are seen as references to Christ as the thought, will and purpose of God (God's logos) in creating the universe with the intent of Christ being generated at a particular point in history to facilitate reconciliation and eternal relationship with humanity. Jesus, after His resurrection, is seen as being elevated to the right hand of His Father and being given glory and authority above all other Beings in the universe other than the Father Himself. Paul’s statement to the Corinthians is seen as verification of Jesus being right under the Father as His chief agent but not being God as God is God.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28: For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
This statement by Paul is seen to clearly show that Christ is subject to the Father God and is separate from the Father and not consubstantial and coequal with the Father.
Position B Non-Trinitarians take the traditional view that the logos represents a pre-existent Being who became Jesus but don’t view this Being as one and the same with the one God. It is pointed out that the first mention of God in John 1:1 is the Greek “ho Theos” with “ho” being the grammatically definite article and thus identifying God as “the God.” This part of the passage literally translated can read “was with the God.” The second mention of God is without the definite article and can be translated “was a god.” or “the word a god was.” This acknowledgement of the Greek construction in John 1:1 is supported by a number of Greek scholars. Non-Trinitarians emphasize that being “a god” does not equate with being “the God.” Since those to whom the one God gives power and authority are often called gods (elohim) in scripture, it is believed the logos was “a god” from the time He was created and it was this god, the Son of the one and only Father God, that became Jesus.
It is further pointed out that John writes that the Word was with God and was God. If God is defined as the tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit, John is virtually saying the Word (the Son) was with Himself and was Himself which makes no sense. Trinitarians argue that the first mention of God in this passage refers to the Father as the first person of the Trinity and that the Word (Son), the second person of the Trinity, was with the Father in this sense. This, however, is an arbitrary distinction since the Greek here is Theos in both occurrences and nothing in Theos implies Father in and of itself. Secondly, how can you speak of a first, second and third person of the Trinity if the Trinity represents a single entity? What makes a person or distinction within the Trinity first, second or third if all three are consubstantial and coequal? Furthermore, if you’re going to say the first occurrence of Theos means Father what does the second occurrence of Theos mean? It can’t mean Father because then the Word (the Son) would be the Father which no Trinitarian would accept. If the second occurrence of Theos means the Trinity, then the Word (Son) is the Trinity which is also problematical for Trinitarian doctrine because the Word is considered a person of the Trinity, not the Trinity itself which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The difficulty of defining God as a Trinity is seen in quoting John 1:1 in the following manner: In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with the Trinity (God) and the word was the Trinity (God).
Non-Trinitarian Oneness theology sees John 1:1 as confirming that the Son (the Word) and God are one and the same single person. When John says the Word became flesh (verse 14) John is actually saying the one God became flesh. It is pointed out that since God is also the Father, when John says the Word was God it is the same as saying the Word is the Father. Therefore, the Word is seen as the manifestation of the one God who is the Father. This one God, the Father, became incarnate in the Son as to the Son’s Divinity and became Father to the Son as to his humanity. Oneness theologians read John 1:1 as, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God the Father and the word (Jesus) was God the Father.
Position B Non-Trinitarians point to the impossibility of the Son being in a Trinitarian relationship with the Father or the Son being the Father because the Father and Son are shown throughout the NT to be separate entities. Position B Non-Trinitarians believe the following passages resolve the entire issue of who God is and who the Son is.
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Hebrews 1:5-9: For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servant’s flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
Paul clearly identifies the one God as the Father and Jesus Christ as the one Lord through whom the one God called Father does His work. There is absolutely nothing in Paul’s statement to indicate the Father and Jesus are in a consubstantial, coequal relationship or that the Son is actually the Father as Oneness theology teaches. It is felt Paul makes a creedal statement that totally overturns the proclamations of the fourth and fifth century creeds.
The passage in Hebrews implies that this one God became the Father of the Son and brought the Son into the world. Therefore, the Son must have at some given time in history been generated by the Father God and therefore has not eternally existed and is not coeternal and coequal with the one and only true God. Secondly, God shows how the Son is superior to angels. Angels are created beings. If the Son is God as God is God, there would be no reason to cite His superiority over angels as that would be a given. Saying that, “Your throne, O God, will last forever...” is seen as Jesus being identified as the one to whom the Father has given great power and authority and the promised Kingdom. Therefore, it is believed “O God” should read as “O god.” The Greek Theos does not inherently mean the one true God. Like the Hebrew elohim, it can apply to humans who are in positions of honor, authority and power. When the writer says, “God, your God has set you above your companions” it is seen as a clear statement of God the Father being the God of Jesus and therefore superior to and greater than the Son which negates any hint of they being coequal. It is pointed out that Jesus made it clear that the Father was a distinct and separate person of greater status than He was.
John 8:17-18: In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me."
1 John 4:14: And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
1 John 5:20: We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him (God) who is true. And we are in him (God) who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He (God the Father) is the true God and eternal life.
John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
John 14:28: "You heard me say, `I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
John 13:16: I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (Jesus shows the inequality between a master and servant)
John 5:26: For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
John 5:43-44: I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (In the Greek it is “The one and only God” and is so translated in other versions such as the New American Standard
It is pointed out that the Father and Son are repeatedly shown to be separate Beings in scripture with the Father always shown as superior to the Son. Trinitarians argue that such references pertain to the Son in His relationship to the Father as the human Jesus, and that in His pre-existent eternal state He is one with the Father and Spirit in a consubstantial Triune relationship. Non-Trinitarians argue that there would be no reason for Jesus to say His Father is greater than He as pertaining only to His humanity as it would be a given that Jesus or any human would be a lesser Being than God. It is believed Jesus is simply stating that His Father is greater than He, period. Jesus made it clear that it is the Father who has granted life to the Son. This precludes the Son having existed eternally and being self existent as the Father. Non-Trinitarians argue that the Trinity is a human construct of God and runs contrary to what the scriptures clearly teach about the nature of the Father and the Son. It is pointed out that when Jesus says He is going to the Father who is greater than He, He is not saying He is going to His Father with whom He is coequal. When the scriptures speak of the Father sending the Son it clearly shows the Father having a higher status than the Son. When Jesus says to the Father in John 17:3 that the Father is the only true God, he is not including Himself in that recognition as He relates to Himself as separate from the only true God. When Jesus speaks of being granted life by the Father it doesn’t mean He is self existent as the Father. It is believed that to say the Father and Son are coequal is to do violence to the scriptures.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS:
We need to further explore the distinction made between “the God” and “a god” in John 1:1. As seen above, this passage is used by all sides of this issue to advance their position. The word logos is derived from the verb legein which means to “say or speak.” It can also mean “reason or mind.” The first mention of God in this passage is ho Theos where Theos is of an articular construction meaning that Theos is preceded by the definite article “the” and literally means “the God.” The phrase “ho Theos” is called a predicate noun. The second mention of God is theos without the definite article and so it is called an anarthrous noun. Anarthrous simply means non-articulated or without the article. Without the article, theos is a singular predicate noun and occurs before the verb logos in the sentence and is literally translated “god was the word.” In Greek an articular noun points to an identity whereas a singular predicate noun points to a quality.
In the early 1930’s a Greek scholar named E.C. Colwell, after having looked at various texts in the NT, proposed a rule of Greek grammar which states that “a predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or a 'qualitative' noun solely because of the absence of the article; if the context suggests that the predicate is definite, it should be translated as a definite noun in spite of the absence of the article.” What Colwell is saying in reference to John 1:1 is that since the first mention of God in this passage has the definite article, thus pointing to an identity, the second occurrence of God, even though it lacks the definite article (the) should be defined in the same manner as the first mention of the word God in this passage where God is preceded by the definite article. Trinitarians see this as confirmation of their position that both occurrences of God in this passage refer to the one God and the Word is, therefore, God.
While Colwell’s rule appears to be generally applicable, it doesn’t always apply as numerous exceptions to this rule have been found in the NT scriptures. It has been pointed out that Colwell’s rule applies well when the anarthrous theos is in the genitive and dative case but is not generally true when in the nominative case which is the form used in John 1:1.
More importantly, this “rule” does not require a predicate nominative which precedes the verb to be definite when a predicate in the same passage is definite. Nothing in this rule says anything about what must be definite. All the rule is saying is that if the context indicates it, a predicate nominative should be defined as definite (as though it had the definite article). Some research has shown that anarthrous predicate nominatives preceding the verb are qualitative around 94% of the time. Some feel this could indicate a high probability of the anarthrous being qualitative in John 1:1 rather than pointing to identity. By being qualitative, it could define Word (word) as divine in the sense of having qualities of a god but not necessarily being the one true God. Trinitarians will argue that even looking at it this way shows the Word as being God because of sharing God like qualities. Non-Trinitarians respond that someone having God like qualities doesn’t make that person the one God. Positions A Non-Trinitarians believe it is the quality of mind and thought that is represented when the passage says “the word was God.”
Most Trinitarians believe “Colwell’s rule” applies in this passage and since the first mention of God is one of identity, the second mention of God is also one of identity. Non-Trinitarians argue this is pure speculation as Colwell’s rule doesn’t demand such a conclusion and this rule is not in any way absolute in NT grammar. Therefore, this passage could be read in several ways. In the beginning, was the Word (or word) and the Word (or word) was with God (the God) and the Word (or word) was God (or god) or (god was the word). Both Trinitarian and Non-Trinitarian positions can be supported by this passage depending on how the Greek is interpreted. This passage is not, therefore, a definitive passage for the establishment of any one of the positions articulated thus far in this series.
Furthermore, one has to question the significance of the present or absence of the definite article in establishing how theos is being used. If theos is used as the equivalent of elohim, it can be applied to the Supreme God or it can be applied to a lesser being than the Supreme God as is seen in the application of elohim in the OT. The presence or absence of the definite article does not appear to be the determining factor. For example, it can be seen by context in John one verses 6, 12, 13 and 18 that theos is a reference to the Supreme God. Yet these occurrences are not preceded or followed by the definite article.
The fact that John uses the definite article in the first use of theos and doesn’t used the article in the second use of theos in John 1:1 doesn’t, of itself, tell us what John meant by such usage. John tells us the Word (word) was God or god and that this Word (word) became flesh which is identified as Jesus. If John’s second use of God in verse one was in John’s mind equivalent to his first use of God, then Trinitarians have a possible case for identifying Jesus as in some manner equal with the one Supreme God provided the “Word” is referring to Jesus and not the thought of the father. If, on the other hand, John was consciously making a distinction between the Supreme God and a lesser god by not using the article with the second usage of theos, the position B Non-Trinitarians have a good case for Jesus being a god in the sense of having been granted power and authority by the Supreme God but not in any sense being equal with the one Supreme God. As already indicated, because of several possible ways John 1:1 can be interpreted, this passage does not establish either the Trinitarian or the Non-Trinitarian position.
This being said, there is an interesting observation that has been made relative to John 1:1. Though the NT was originally written in Greek, it quickly came to be translated into other languages of the first and second centuries of the Church including Syriac, Latin and Coptic, which is Egyptian. Coptic was spoken and written by early Egyptian Christians in what is called the Sahidic dialect. In the early twentieth century a copy of a Sahidic version of the Gospel of John was discovered and translated in 1911 into English. This Gospel followed the Alexandrian Greek text in its translation into the Coptic language. The Sahidic Coptic shows John 1:1 translated in such a way as to clearly say the word was with the God and the word was a god. While the Greek does not have the indefinite article with the second occurrence of theos, the Sahidic Coptic has the indefinite article in its construction of this passage and therefore it was apparently understood by the translators of Greek to Coptic that the Greek text was saying “the word was a god” which is the way it is translated. This Coptic version is believed to date from somewhere in the second century. The implication is that the early Egyptian Christians understood that the word was not the same as ‘the God” and translated the Greek to reflect that.
In addition to the problematic translations of John 1:1, there is another difficulty in this passage relative to Trinitarian doctrine. If both references to God in John 1:1 refer to the same identity, namely the one God, how can the Word, if referring to the Son, be with the one God and be the one God at the same time. The Word is seen as being with “the God.” Trinitarians try to get around this problem by saying the first mention of God refers to the Father as God and the second mention of God refers to God as God essence but not the Father. In other words, the Word is of God essence. This conclusion makes the Father “the God” which coincides well with Paul’s statement that the Father is God (1 Corinthians 8:6). In Trinitarian theology, however, God is not only Father but Father, Son and Spirit. There appears to be cognitive dissonance here. To say the first mention of God in John 1:1 means Father and the second mention of God means God essence is not based on any evidence that this is in fact the case. Rather, these conclusions appear to be an attempt to make this passage support an assumed Trinitarian position.
Trinitarians will sometimes point to the fact that logos is a masculine noun in the Greek and therefore should be proceeded by the masculine pronoun “he” which identifies logos as a person. The masculine Greek gender, however, has nothing to do with such identification. Masculine and feminine genders are seen to randomly apply to persons, places and things and are not at all gender specific in their application. Though logos is masculine and according to Greek rules of grammar requires a masculine pronoun such as “he” or “him,” this has nothing to do with the noun signifying a person as such as masculine nouns often relate to places and things in the Greek language. Therefore, masculine nouns can be legitimately translated into another language with a pronoun such as “it.” This matter of gender in the Greek language will be addressed in greater detail in our discussion of the Holy Spirit later in this series.
It should also be noted that John 1:1 is also used by those who promote the family of God concept discussed earlier in this series. With proponents of this position, this passage is seen to teach that there are two distinct Beings called God. The Word is seen as God the Son and the one who became Jesus. The God that the Word was with is seen as the Father and a separate and superior Being to the Son.
The Son is believed to be the YHWH of the Old Testament and therefore YHWH and the Father are two separate God Beings. These conclusions are based on the assumption that John’s use of logos relates to a pre-existent Being called the Son. As we have seen, this is a problematical assumption. Furthermore, it is rather clear that YHWH and the Father are the same in Old Testament Scripture.
The relationship between the Father and the Son cannot be firmly established on the basis of John 1:1. Other scriptures must be considered. Trinitarians cite many scriptures they feel demonstrate the validity of their position. Non-Trinitarians look at these same scriptures and come away with a different perspective. We will look at these scriptures one by one, examine the arguments presented by both sides, and determine which argument is best supported by the scriptures.
PART FIVE
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART FIVE
We will now begin to examine specific scriptures that relate to the issue of the Trinity.
SCRIPTURE #1
Matthew 1:23: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Taken from Isaiah 7:14)
Trinitarians view the statement about Mary’s son being looked upon as “God with us” as straightforward proof that Jesus is God. If His name is “God (Greek theos) with us” He must be God. Non-Trinitarians respond by discussing the original context from which Matthew’s statement is taken and draw an entirely different conclusion.
Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah chapter seven shows Ahaz was king of Judah. King Rezin of Aram and Pekah, king of Israel, were in alliance and came up to fight against Ahaz and Judah. The Lord, through Isaiah, told Ahaz that this alliance would not succeed against Ahaz and Judah. It’s recorded that the Lord then gave a sign to Ahaz to show him that the alliance would not succeed. The sign is that a virgin shall conceive, bear a son and call his name Immanuel which means in the Hebrew “God is with us” or “God with us.” In referring to this son who would be called Immanuel, Isaiah went on to say the following:
Isaiah 7: 15-16: He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
Isaiah 8:3-8: Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, "Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Before the boy knows how to say `My father' or `My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria." The LORD spoke to me again: "Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the River -- the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel!”
The sign given to Ahaz was directed to Ahaz and the house of David (Judah). The naming of the child Immanuel relates to the events at hand in Isaiah’s time. The context of Isaiah 7 and 8 clearly shows the son spoken of is a boy living at that time and behaving in a certain way relative to the two kings being laid waste. The son being named Immanuel (God with us) doesn’t mean this boy was God. Ahaz was given a sign from God that God would intervene on his behalf to defeat the alliance. The sign was the boy named Immanuel. God was telling Ahaz He would be with him and his people.
Non-Trinitarians see Matthew as using this OT event to show that through Jesus, God would be with His people Israel. Just as the son born to the prophetess and called “God with us” was not actual God, neither was the son born to Mary actual God but represented God in being with His people. Israel never viewed the promised Messiah as an incarnation of the one God. There was no thought in Israel’s theology that Messiah would be actual God. Such a conclusion would run contrary to everything Israel understood about God and Messiah. Matthew is not seen as introducing a new concept of God by saying the one God of Israel is being incarnated through the son born to Mary. While the religious leaders of the first century rejected Jesus as Messiah, many of the people saw Jesus as a great prophet through whom God had come to help His people and in this respect God was with them.
Luke 7:16: They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: By placing Matthew’s quote into its original context, it does allow for understanding Matthew’s quote as applying to Jesus as God’s representative and not God Himself.
SCRIPTURE #2
Matthew 3:3: This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"
This quote by Matthew is taken from Isaiah 40:3 where the word Lord is translated from the Hebrew YHWH which, as covered earlier in this series, is the personal name for God.
Isaiah 40:3: A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD ; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Trinitarians see this quote by Matthew as prophetic of John the Baptist preaching in the desert a message of preparation for the coming of YHWH and since it is Christ who came, it is believed Christ is YHWH and God.
Non-Trinitarians provide a scriptural answer to this assertion by pointing out how Jesus referred to John the Baptist and Himself in the passage from Isaiah.
Matthew 11:10: This is the one about whom it is written: "`I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'
Jesus is quoting Isaiah as though YHWH is talking to Jesus and saying I, YHWH, will send John as a messenger ahead of you (Jesus) to prepare the way before you.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: This prophecy has to do with John preparing the way for the coming of the anointed of YHWH and not a coming of YHWH Himself. John was calling people to repentance. Preparing the way for the Lord and establishing a highway for God has to do with fulfilling the conditions YHWH wanted to be extant for the arrival of His anointed.
The focus here is not on the person who was coming but on preparing the way for the person who was coming by turning people back to YHWH. Jesus is the recipient of this preparation. It allows Jesus to begin His ministry among people who have begun to turn to God. In essence, YHWH is preparing the way for His anointed through the efforts of John. This is what Jesus is saying in the Matthew 11:10 quote.
SCRIPTURE #3
John 10:30-36: I and the Father are one." Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, `I have said you are gods’? If he called them `gods,' to whom the word of God came--and the Scripture cannot be broken-- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God's Son'?
Trinitarians see a double proof in this passage that Jesus is God. First Jesus says “I and the Father are one.” Then the religious leaders claim Jesus is blaspheming because He claims to be God. It is assumed that for Jesus and the Father to be one it must mean Jesus is in a Trinitarian relationship with God and therefore is God. It is also assumed that because the religious leaders said Jesus claimed to be God He must be God.
Non-Trinitarians point out that when Jesus says “I and the Father are one” He is not talking about being God. In Christ’s prayer to the Father shortly before His crucifixion, in reference to the apostles, He said this: John 17:22: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” The apostles becoming one with each other would not make them one Being. If Christ meant for them to become one with the Father as He was, it certainly didn’t mean they became God. Non-Trinitarians believe this statement by Christ has nothing to do with identifying Him as God but simply shows how He was in total harmony with the Father in all things. In referring to the Holy Spirit that He would send after His ascension, Christ said: John 14:20: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” This is a statement of relationship which has nothing to do with identification of Being. Obviously Christ didn’t mean that the apostles would become God by them being in Him and He in them as He is in the Father. Christ was showing that through the Holy Spirit they could be one in purpose just as He and the Father are.
John 14:9-11: Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father….Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.
Jesus is not saying that if you see Him you see the Father in the sense that Jesus and the Father are of identical substance of Being. Jesus is not talking about substance of Being but of being in spiritual unity with the Father. The Father lives in Christ through His Spirit and that same Spirit that lives in Christ can live in us as the scriptures clearly show.
As to Jesus claiming to be God, Non-Trinitarians point out that nowhere in scripture does Jesus ever claim to be the one Supreme God. He only claims to be the Son of God. It is seen as evident from how Jesus responded to this accusation of claiming to be God that He wasn’t claiming to be the one Supreme God but that He was god in the same sense as men of authority and power spoken of in the OT. Jesus appears to refer to a statement found in Psalm 82.
Psalm 82:1-8: God (Elohim) presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the "gods": (elohim) "How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. "They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. "I said, `You are "gods"; (elohim) you are all sons of the Most High.' But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler." Rise up, O God; judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
Here God (Elohim) is speaking to an assembly of gods (elohim) who are seen as appointed by Him to administer justice but have failed to do so. The second occurrence of elohim is followed by a plural predicate “you” thus signifying a plurality of Beings called “gods” who are being addressed. Jesus, in John 10, identifies these “gods” as those to whom the word (logos) of God came. The word or speech of God is seen as given to these Beings called “gods”. The context of Psalm 82 shows these “gods” are of the human realm as human conditions such as weakness, being fatherless and needy and needing deliverance from the wicked is what God is discussing with these “gods.” This passage is referring to human leaders, in positions of rulership, power and authority, failing to properly fulfill their responsibilities. God tells them that, even though they have been granted powers of rulership, they will die like every other ruler, which shows their humanity. Jesus is virtually comparing Himself to this type of god. He is saying that He too has been granted power and authority and has been sent by God. Thus, Jesus distinguishes Himself as a Son of the Most High God, just as these human leaders whom God was addressing as “gods” were seen as sons of the Most High God.
While it is true that Jesus was a unique Son of the Most High God because of His direct begettal by the Spirit of God, nowhere do the scriptures show this unique status to mean Jesus is God the Son. The phrase God the Son is not found in scripture. It is always the Son of God.
As explained earlier in this series, elohim is used throughout the OT in reference to the creator God as well as to designate human rulers and other appointees of the creator God. By answering His accusers as He did, he is virtually saying He is a god in the same sense as the “gods” referred to in the OT who are also called sons of the Most High. Jesus is saying that just as God sent rulers to represent His interests in OT times, God has now sent Him, the promised Messiah as His only begotten or unique, one of a kind (Greek monogenes) Son. We will discuss monogenes later in this series. Jesus is not saying He is God as the Most High God is God but He is a Son of the Most High God which makes Him an agent of the Most High just as seen with the gods mentioned in Psalm 82.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The Non-Trinitarian response pretty much speaks for itself. The very sayings of Christ that Trinitarians believe support their position actually better support the Non-Trinitarian position that Jesus is not part of a Triune God but is the human Messiah who was given the Holy Spirit (not a person but the power and mind of God the Father) without measure enabling Him to be in total harmony with the Father and therefore able to do the works He did. Jesus’ use of Psalm 82 in His defense speaks volumes as to who He believed He was in relationship to the one true God.
Some commentators believe the elohim referred to in Psalm 82 are supernatural beings. Yet the context would appear to dispel that notion as it is human conditions such as being poor, oppressed, etc. that are under consideration. Plus, supernatural beings would not be seen as dying like men. It is much more likely that human rulers are being addressed, either rulers over Israel or rulers in general as the scriptures show that it is God who sets up and puts down the rulers of the earth. While there does appear, by context, to be references in the OT to supernatural Beings called elohim, because the context of Psalm 82 is dealing with human relational dynamics, the reference to “gods” in this passage does not appear to be speaking of such supernatural beings. Even if Psalm 82 was referencing supernatural beings, these beings would be lesser gods than the Most High God and since Christ is apparently using this passage to define Himself in response to the Jews accusation of He making Himself God, this would show Him as being a lesser god than the Most High God and thus negate the accusations of the Jews.
As to the various statements of the oneness of Christ with God, it should be clear they have nothing to do with oneness of substance or essence. They have nothing to do with being consubstantial and coequal in Being with the Father. By context it should be evident that the oneness statements found in the scriptures pertain to oneness of spirit which involves oneness of thought, attitude, character, will, purpose, etc. The fact that we can be one with Jesus as Jesus is one with the Father should make it quite evident that these are relational statements and have nothing to do with composition of Being. Here we can plainly see that many separate individuals can be in spiritual relationship with each other and with Christ and through Christ with the Father and maintain their individual separateness as to Being. Why then should it be so difficult to see God and the Son as separate Beings but one in Spirit? The difficulty arises from the supposition that the Son is God as God is God and since there can’t be two Supreme Gods, the Father and Son must be the same Being while somehow remaining distinct from each other.
If, however, the Son is not God as God is God but is a god (small g), either eternally existing as a god or having been created/begotten as a god, then we have no need for the mystical construct of the Trinity to understand the relationship between the Father and the Son. I will say at this point in our discussion that if it can be demonstrated from the scriptures that the Trinitarian concept of God is correct, even though it is mystical and can’t be humanly understood, I will have no problem accepting it as truth. If, on the other hand, the Trinitarian concept cannot be shown to be true beyond reasonable doubt, I will have no choice but to give serious consideration to a Non-Trinitarian concept of the Father, Son and Spirit provided such Non-Trinitarian concept can be shown to be valid beyond reasonable doubt.
SCRIPTURE #4
Mark 2:5-11: When Jesus saw their faith; he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
Trinitarians see the statement by the teachers of the law that only God can forgive sin and the fact that Jesus tells the paralytic his sins are forgiven as proof Jesus is God. In this, Trinitarians agree with the teachers of the law that only God can forgive sin.
Non-Trinitarians point out that Jesus, by healing the paralytic is demonstrating the authority that has been given to Him on earth which includes authority to forgive sin. Matthew's account of this event is seen to support this conclusion as it speaks of authority being given to men. Matthew 9:8: When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. As the representative and agent of the Father, Jesus is seen as having been given great authority by God to heal, raise the dead and forgive sin. This authority included giving the same authority to His disciples. The scriptures show Jesus giving authority to His disciples to heal the sick. Luke 9:1: Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. After His resurrection He even gives them authority to forgive sin. John 20:21-23: 21. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." The ability to forgive sin or do anything else Jesus gave his disciples authority to do did not make those disciples God or equal with God. Non-Trinitarians ask why it is assumed that because Jesus did everything His Father empowered Him to do that this makes Him equal with the Father. When a human father gives his son authority to do something it certainly doesn’t make the son equal with his father.
Athanasius, in his treatise entitled, “The Incarnation of the Word of God” written in the early fourth century, argued that Jesus must be God because only God could make the blind see, cast out demons, turn water into wine, walk on water and raise the dead. What Athanasius failed to mention was that Peter, James, John and Paul also performed great supernatural acts. This didn’t make these men God. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. The power of Apostle Peter was so pronounced that in Acts 5:15, it is implied that even the shadow of Peter passing over someone was enough to facilitate healing. These men were imbued with power and authority because God gave it to them. This did not make them equal with God. Why should it be assumed Jesus was equal with God because he performed miracles? In Acts 19:11-12 we read, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Did this make Paul God?
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: The Non-Trinitarian argument appears reasonable. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was given great power and authority. It does not logically follow from this that Jesus was of the same substance of the one granting Him such authority and power. The Apostles were also given great power and authority from God and this obviously didn’t make them God. It is apparent that God gave authority to Christ to forgive sin and that authority was even passed on to His disciples in some sense. It could be that Jesus was telling His disciples that their forgiveness or non-forgiveness of someone’s sin would determine whether they are forgiven by God. We can’t be sure of what Christ meant here. As to Athanasius, who is considered the “father” of Trinitarian doctrine, a reading of his treatise, “The Incarnation of the Son of God,” provides little scriptural evidence for the Trinity. Instead he assumes the validity of the Trinity from the start and then proceeds to defend his belief that Jesus is God with the kind of conclusions shown in the above paragraph. If the “evidence” for the Deity of Jesus put forth by Athanasius is the kind of “evidence” that led to establishment of the Trinitarian doctrine, I would have to say this doctrine stands on very shaky ground.
SCRIPTURE #5
John 5:16-18: So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
In this passage the Jews are seen as accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and also making Himself equal with God by referring to the fact that He is working just as His Father is working. Trinitarians would agree here with the Jews that this makes Jesus equal with God and extrapolate from this that Jesus is God.
Non-Trinitarians point out that if you’re going to agree with the Jews that Jesus was making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father you are also agreeing that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath. It is the Jews who are making these twin accusations. We know Jesus didn’t break the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12: "Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath"). Why, it is asked, is it assumed He was making Himself equal with God by referring to God as His Father? Furthermore, Jesus answers their remarks with the following:
John 5:19: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Jesus plainly says He can do nothing by Himself. If Jesus is coequal with the Father, why is he dependant on the Father for everything He does? Trinitarians will argue that this dependence on the Father is only a dependence necessitated by His humanity. Even though Jesus took on humanity it is believed by Trinitarians that He continued to also be coequal with the Father in the tri-unity that is the one God. As Jesus, the Son of God is believed to have had the dual nature of being completely God and completely man. This concept of Jesus as having dual natures will be discussed later in this series. Trinitarians will also look at John 5:19 and conclude that because Jesus said he can only do what He sees His Father do He must be God because He cannot act contrary to His Father’s will. This would mean Jesus did not have His own will but as God in the flesh was of identical will with the Father. Yet the following scripture would negate such a notion.
Matthew 26:39: Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
It is pointed out that the implication here is that it was not the will of Jesus to go through the suffering He was facing. But He was so totally submissive to the will of His Father that He would submit to death on a cross in order to please and fulfill His Father’s will. He was totally in harmony with the goal and purpose of the Father to facilitate reconciliation between man and God. Because of going through with this he was exulted to the highest level of power and authority in the universe next to God Himself as other scriptures show. This does not make Jesus God or equal with God but certainly makes Him worthy of great reverence and worship as facilitator of God’s salvation.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The passages reviewed above do not establish Jesus as a coequal, coeternal participant in a triune God. They do establish that the man Jesus was in total harmony and submission to the will and purpose of the God that sent Him into the world. This frankly makes the sacrifice of Christ that much more extraordinary when you realize, before His arrest, he wrestled with His own will in prayer with His Father and after all was said and done and no alternative plan became apparent, He completely submitted to His fathers will knowing full well what lay before Him.
SCRIPTURE #6
Philippians 2:5-8: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature (Greek morphe) God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (Greek heauton ekenosen) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (NIV).
Trinitarians see Paul’s statement that Jesus was in the very form of God as being God and therefore see this passage of scripture as straightforward evidence that Jesus is God. Some see in this passage the Son empting Himself of being God in becoming Jesus and returning to being God at the time of His ascension. Several versions translate the Greek heauton ekenosen as “emptied Himself.” For example, the Revised Standard Version translates it this way:
“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, (Greek: heauton ekenosen ) taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon shows heauton ekenosen to mean “to empty or make empty.” The Arndt, Gingrich Bauer Greek lexicon agrees with this definition. Most Trinitarians, however, don’t see the Son empting Himself of being God as the Son is considered eternally God and therefore could not empty Himself of being eternal. It is believed He emptied Himself of the glory He had with the Father but not His Divinity. Therefore, the Son is believed to have been fully God and fully human as Jesus the Christ and possessed both Divine and human nature. When Jesus died it is believed his humanity died but His Deity did not die as it wasn’t possible for God to die. When Jesus was resurrected He was resurrected as the fully human and fully God Being He was before the crucifixion. Some believe Jesus still exists as this combination of Deity and humanity in His role as mediator between the Father and humans.
The Greek word morphe translated “form” appears only here in Philippians 2:5-8 and in Matthew 16:12 where it is recorded Jesus appeared in a different form to two of His disciples after the resurrection. Trinitarian discussion of this passage often defines morphe as describing the very essence or nature of Jesus and therefore concludes that for Jesus to be in the morphe of God is to be of the same essence/nature as God. Greek lexicons, however, show morphe to define outward appearance. It is used in the Greek literature of the first century to express outward appearance. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) morphe is used to show outward appearance. It occurs seven times in the Septuagint and in every case can be seen to mean outward appearance. A recent Greek to English translation of the Septuagint and New Testament Scriptures called the Apostolic Bible Polyglot consistently translates morphe as “appearance” including Philippians 2. For example, in Daniel 5:6 where King Belshazzar sees the hand writing on the wall, it is recorded that his appearance (morphe) changed. Obviously his essence or nature did not change.
Morphe does not speak to the essence or nature of a person as Trinitarians teach. Translations such as the NIV that translate morphe as “nature” do so, not because the Greek implies this meaning, but because of a predisposition toward Trinitarianism. This word is translated as “form” in most translations and as appearance in some. The KJV translates it this way:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (Greek harpagee) to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Some interpret the phrase “being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation” as meaning Jesus had equality with God which He thought it not robbery to have. He was willing to give it all up to become a human sacrifice for sin. Greek lexicons show harpagee literally means to rob or steal and take by force. The KJV translates it as “robbery” but most translations use the word “grasp.” Jesus is seen as not grasping or wanting to take by force equality with God despite being in the form of God which Trinitarians interpret as being the same as being God.
However, if Jesus being said to be in the form of God, is considered as having equality with God (of the very essence of God), why would Paul speak in terms of Jesus not wanting to rob (to steal or take by force) or grasp to have such equality? If Jesus is God, He would have equality with God and wanting or not wanting to have it would be irrelevant. You don’t grasp for something you already have.
Trinitarians respond that Paul is speaking in terms of Jesus not seeking to retain His equality with the Triune relationship that is God but was willing to give it up to become the human Jesus. This passage, however, does not speak in terms of not retaining equality with God but only in terms of not grasping for such equality. Secondly, to say Jesus was willing to give up His equality as God takes us back to the problem of an eternal Being giving up His eternity which is an impossibility as even Trinitarians admit. Trinitarians have thus invented the “duel nature” concept of God which states that Jesus did not give up His Divine nature but added human nature to His Divine nature and was therefore totally Divine and totally human, the “God/man.”
If this is the case, what did the Son of God give up in becoming the human Jesus? What did He empty Himself of? If Christ was fully God while being fully human, He didn’t really give up anything. He would have known all along that He was God and could not lose His Godship. Furthermore, how could Paul instruct the Philippian Christians that their attitude should be like Christ’s who became a humble servant in the likeness of man if all the while He remained eternal, having great power and glory and in no way at risk to lose anything? How can it be said that the Son of God humbled Himself to the point of the cross if the Son, being eternal, could not die?
Some believe the Son, as the human Jesus, was able to temporarily set aside his Divinity and exercise only His humanity while still retaining His Divinity. If this is the case, only the human Jesus died as the Divine Son could not die by virtue of being eternal. Therefore, the Son, as a distinction of the Triune God, did not die but only a human form of the Son died. Some have suggested that because Paul says Jesus was in the form (outward appearance) of God but took the form (outward appearance) of man, it was the outward appearance of God that the Son gave up to take on the outward appearance of the human Jesus. Therefore, Jesus was a human only in outward appearance while His essence was Divine. This was the position of the second century theologian/philosopher Marcion, a position called Docetism. This position is problematical because the scriptures show the Son of God died, not just a human outward appearance of the Son.
The real question is what does Paul mean when He writes of Jesus being in the form or appearance of God but taking on the form or appearance of a servant? As already discussed, the Greek morphe relates to outward appearance. English words such as endomorphic (a stocky person), ectomorphic (a slim person) and mesomorphic (a big boned, muscular person) are derived from this Greek word. These are all words that describe outward appearance.
The Non-Trinitarian A position sees Paul’s statement about Jesus being in the form or appearance of God as reflecting the super-human authority and power the Father gave Him as His humanly begotten Son. Even though Jesus had this power and authority as God’s human representative, He didn’t misuse it by seeking to become God. He didn’t use it to become the immediate King of Israel even through He knew that was the purpose for which He was born (Luke 1:32-33). He didn’t use it to deliver Himself from the ordeal of the crucifixion. Instead, He laid it all aside and took the form of a normal human Being and became a servant to mankind in dying on the cross.
It is believed Paul has in mind the comparison between the two Adam’s. The first Adam, made in the image of God and having a level of granted power and authority over creation, sought to become like God by eating the forbidden fruit. Jesus, on the other hand, who Paul refers to as the second Adam, although being granted power and authority, did not seek to become like God but totally submitted to His Father God even to death on the cross. It was the power and authority God gave Jesus as the human Messiah that Jesus emptied Himself of in going to the cross to become the sacrifice for sin.
Position A Non-Trinitarians believe what Jesus emptied Himself of was His prerogatives as the promised King over Israel and not a pre-existent Divinity. Jesus willingly gave up the use of the power and authority the Father had granted to him and in humility took the form of a servant to Israel and the world in facilitating salvation by going to the cross. When Apostle Paul speaks of Christ being rich and yet becoming poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), it is believed the riches He gave up was the power and authority granted Him as the only begotten human Son of God. Upon His successful completion of His earthly mission, Jesus was granted the prerogatives of Kingship, power, authority and glory as seen in His elevation to the right hand of His Father, the one and only Supreme God. Paul’s use of morphe distinguishes between Christ’s appearance as the Son of God exhibiting power and authority during His ministry and then setting it all aside to appear as a powerless human in the face of His accusers. As explained at the beginning of this series, the position A Non-Trinitarians believe the Son did not have pre-existence but began life as the Son born to Mary through conception by the Holy Spirit.
The Non-Trinitarian B position is similar to the Non-Trinitarian A position with the major exception that it is believed what Jesus gave up and emptied Himself of was glory and power He had as the pre-existent Son of God. As covered earlier in this series, the Non-Trinitarian B position is that the Son was created at some time in eternity past and voluntarily gave up His position of power and glory to become the human Jesus.
Since Jesus is said to have been in the form of God and then took on the form of a servant, B’s believe a definite change in form took place and not just a relinquishing of granted power and authority. As God the Father’s agent, Jesus was in the outward appearance of His Father from the time He was created. When the Father sent Him to earth He took on the form of a servant by emptying Himself of the God form. The fact that He could empty himself of His former form shows He could not have been God in substance but only in form (outward appearance). If being in God’s form means Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father and therefore consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father as Trinitarians teach, emptying Himself would be impossible.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The Trinitarian position is problematic because it sees Paul saying that Jesus was equal with God when he is really saying just the opposite. Paul is saying Jesus was not trying to grasp equality with God. You don’t grasp after something you already have. If Jesus was God in the flesh He would have been already equal with God according to the Trinitarian concept of God. Trinitarians suggest Jesus was not grasping at what He already had but was not grasping at the continuation of His equality with God, being willing to give it all up to become a human sacrifice. This meaning, however, is not implied in the Greek words involved here.
Since Paul uses this passage to instruct how our attitude should mimic that of Christ’s, the more natural meaning of this passage would be that Jesus had the appearance of being God because of the power and authority God granted to Him but did not seek to be equal with God (actually be God) but was willing to give up His granted power and authority and become powerless in becoming a human sacrifice for sin. This makes the sacrifice of Christ all that much more extraordinary.
The Scriptures show Jesus as being totally dependent on His Father to empower Him to complete His earthly mission without sinning. Jesus was in complete submission to His Father’s will even to the point of suffering the death on the cross. The scriptures show Jesus crying out to His Father for strength during His earthly ministry. This strongly indicates His total humanity while in the flesh.
Hebrews 5:7-8: Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.
This all gives strong indication that the Son of God as the human Jesus was not God in the flesh but was totally human and had to totally depend on God for His success in becoming the Savior of the world.
PART SIX
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART SIX
In this installment we will continue to examine specific scriptures that relate to the issue of the Trinity.
SCRIPTURE #7
Colossians 1:15-19: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Trinitarians believe this passage speaks for itself in demonstrating that Jesus is God. Paul says Jesus is the image of God and by him all things were created, and He is before all things and all things are held together by Him. The phrase, “firstborn over all (“of” in most translations) creation” is seen not as Jesus being a firstborn creation of God but as a eternally generated sovereign over creation. Colossians 1: 15-19 is considered irrefutable proof of Jesus being God.
Non-Trinitarians point out that Paul begins his letter to the Colossian Christians by identifying God as the Father of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:3) thus making a distinction between God and Christ. This same distinction is again made in verse 13. As is seen throughout Paul’s writings, he makes a distinction between God the Father and the man Jesus. Paul’s allusion to Jesus being in the image of God does not necessarily equate with being God as shown in our earlier discussion of Hebrews 1:3. The Greek word translated image in this passage means image, likeness and representation. In all three gospels is the account of Christ asking whose image (same Greek word) is on the coin that was handed to Him. It was the image of Emperor Caesar. The coin represented Caesar as the imperial ruler of Rome. The coin wasn’t Caesar but represented Caesar. It is argued that being in the image of God doesn’t mean Jesus was God but that He was a representation of who God is which is in line with scriptures that say Jesus came to reveal the Father.
Paul goes on to say Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. The Greek translated “firstborn” is prototokos and means to be firstborn. This word appears nine times in the NT and always relates to being first born. The NIV and NKJV translate “firstborn of all creation” as first born over all creation.” Most other translations use “of” and not “over.” The Greek language does not have a preposition “of.” The phrase “of all creation” is in a genitive form where the word “of” is implied. Greek scholar Jason Beduhn flatly states that “over” in no way can be derived from the Greek in this phrase and that the NIV translators make their translation on the basis of doctrine rather than language (Beduhn, Truth In Translation, page 81). Therefore, Colossians 1:15 should read, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” This is the reading found in most translations.
Position B Non-Trinitarians argue that to be firstborn of all creation is to have at some point in history been the first one created of all that was created. The Septuagint rendering of Genesis 4:4 is considered revealing as to the way “first born of all creation” should be understood. It reads, “And Abel also brought of the firstborn of his sheep.” Found here is the same grammatical construction found in Colossians 1:15. It is clear that the firstborn sheep was of the group of all other sheep Able had. The phrase “firstborn” in scripture is always associated with the group to which “firstborn” applies. In Colossians 1:18, Paul writes that Christ is the beginning, the first born from the dead. In Romans 8:29, Paul writes of Christ being the first born among many brothers. All these statements involving being “firstborn” show Christ as participating in the group of which He is firstborn. This is believed to show that Jesus is firstborn within the context of creation and is therefore created and not self existent. Just as Jesus is the firstborn from the dead (first to rise to eternal life), He also is the first born of Creation (first to be created by God). Paul doesn’t mean two different things by “firstborn” in the same sentence.
Non-Trinitarians point out that the logical and textually correct way to understand “firstborn” is to understand it in its normal meaning of a parent generating a new life for the first time. In the case of Jesus, the scriptures repeatedly show God to be His father. There is no logical or scriptural reason to disregard the normal understanding of Jesus being generated by the Father through a “birthing” process. Whether this process took place as the first creative act of God or, as some believe, took place with the supernatural conception in Mary, the fact remains that sonship implies a beginning and not an eternal, without beginning relationship.
Justin Martyr (100-150 A.D.), in a dialogue with a man named Trypho, said of the Son: “He was begotten of the Father before all things created; and that that which is begotten is numerically distinct from that which begets, anyone will admit” (Anti-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1). Tertullian (190-220 A.D.) wrote: “He has not always been the Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him or the Son” (Anti- Nicene Fathers, Volume 3).
In Revelation Jesus speaks of Himself as being the beginning of the creation of God.
Revelation 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; (KJV and most other translations).
The Greek for beginning is arkee and this word appears 58 times in the NT narrative. It is used in relationship to Christ only in Revelation 3:14 and in Colossians 1:18. Greek lexicons show this word means beginning and can also mean origin and in some cases ruler. Research has shown that in all cases where this word appears in the NT in conjunction with a genitive expression, which is the way it appears in this passage in Revelation, arkee always denotes a beginning or first part of something. “Beginning of creation is a genitive expression of possession in Revelation three. It is therefore believed that when Paul speaks of Jesus being the first born of all creation he is saying Jesus is the first created of the creation of God and that John, in the Revelation, shows Jesus to confirm this.
Trinitarians argue that arkee can mean origin and that Jesus is the origin of God’s creation seeing God created all things through Jesus. However, arkee is not used anywhere else in this fashion in the NT narrative. The NIV translated this passage as “the ruler of God's creation”. This is felt, however to be deliberate accommodation to Trinitarianism as “beginning” is the natural expression in view of the Greek genitive grammatical construction found in this passage. The KJV, NKJV, RSV, NAS and most other translations have “the beginning of the creation of God.”
Another passage that pertains to our discussion of Colossians chapter one is found in the first letter of Apostle John.
I John 5:18: We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him (NIV).
In a footnote to this passage the NIV has: “the one who was born of God. Jesus, the Son of God.” They are saying it is Jesus who is the one born of God that keeps those born of God safe. The RSV makes it clear by capitalizing He, referring to Jesus. We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
This passage is dealing with spiritual rebirth of the Christian. Some believe Christ experienced spiritual rebirth when He became sin for us on the Cross and died and through resurrection was spiritually reborn. Therefore, as being born again Himself, He is able to keep those being born again through spiritual rebirth from the evil one. Most, however, see the reference to Jesus being born as pertaining to His birth through the Father either before the creation of the universe or at the time of His conception in Mary. Non-Trinitarians see this as another confirmation of Jesus having a beginning as being born certainly implies as much. It is pointed out that it is Jesus and the Father who are able to protect the Christian from the evil one as Jesus Himself spoke in John 17:12-15.
Non-Trinitarians point out that scripture repeatedly shows that Jesus, as the Son of God, is not eternal as God is but dependent on God for His existence. Apostle John writes “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Here we see life for the Son generated by the Father. “For I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me” (John 8:42). Here we see subordination of the Son to the Father. 1 Corinthians 15: 27-28: For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." It is felt that the consistent identification of God as the Father of the Son shows a distinct subordinate relationship of Son to Father showing they are not coequal. The passage in 1 Corinthians clearly shows the Son being made subject to God. Being subject does not mean being equal. The Son is seen as being made subject, not just to the Father but to God. This shows Christ to be of lesser status than the Supreme God.
Some position A Non-Trinitarians see the expression “firstborn “ as not relating to the manner in which Jesus came to be but as a title of Kingship. In Psalm 89:27 God is seen as appointing David as His firstborn in being the most exulted King. This is seen as prophetic of Jesus. God calls Israel His firstborn in Exodus 4:22 and Ephraim His firstborn in Jeremiah 31:9.
Position A Non-Trinitarians view Colossians 1 as dealing with creation taking place in Christ and the Christ event as the focal point and express reason for the creation having taken place It is pointed out that the phrase, “For by him all things were created” as found in the NIV and KJV should read “For in him all things were created” as this is what the Greek reads and is so translated in the Revised Standard Version, American Standard Version, the New Jerusalem Bible and other translations. It is felt Paul is writing that the creation was made with Christ in mind and it is through the Christ event the new creation is taking place beginning with Christ being the firstborn of this new creation.
It is pointed out that God, in speaking to Israel, said, This is what the LORD (YHWH) says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD (YHWH), who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself (Isaiah 44:24). It’s believed scripture reveals that YHWH alone is the creator. Since YHWH is identified in scripture as the Father, it is the Father alone who is the creator.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: In reference to 1 John 5:18, it should be noted that the Codex Sinaiticus and many other Greek manuscripts read “he that is begotten of God keeps himself” thus implying that the Christian keeps himself and not that Jesus keeps him. It is the Alexandrian and Vatican Codices that bring out the meaning of Jesus as the one that keeps the Christian from the evil one. Both the Alexandrian and Vatican Codices predate Sinaiticus. Since there are variant readings in the ancient manuscripts regarding this passage and also questions as to what exactly Apostle John was implying, I would not want to use this passage in any definitive manner relative to the relationship of Jesus to the Father.
In reference to the word “firstborn,” if one is to use “firstborn” in its normal sense, which is the way it is often used in scripture, one would have to conclude that Jesus has not existed eternally but had a definite beginning in time. Trinitarians see these “firstborn” passages as indicative of the Son being eternally generated by God and therefore not having beginning or end. The concept of eternal generation, however, contradicts the inherent meaning of firstborn, born and begotten as all these terms imply a beginning. Therefore, there simply is no scriptural support for the concept of eternal generation applying to the terms firstborn, born or begotten. Even if “first born” is to be understood as a title, as suggested by the position A Non-Trinitarians, the term still implies a beginning as David, Israel and Ephraim all had a beginning.
The quotes from Justin Martyr and Tertullian are instructive. It is apparent neither one viewed the Son as eternally existing. Even though Tertullian is said to have been the first to use Trinity as a description of God, his application of that word to the nature of God may have been different than current orthodox teaching on this issue or what is found in the Creeds. Both Justin Martyr and Tertullian, however, do damage to the position A Non-Trinitarian position. Both these men see the Son as existing before creation and not first coming into being at His human birth as Jesus. Justin Martyr sees the Son begotten by the Father before creation and Tertullian speaks of God becoming the Father when the Son appeared. We see God identified as Father in the OT which is well before the conception in Mary. On the other hand, these statements by these early Church Fathers lend solid support to the Non-Trinitarian B position.
SCRIPTURE #8
1 John 5:20: We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He (“This” in most translations) is the true God and eternal life.
Many Trinitarians see this passage as showing Jesus is the true God. This is believed to be the case because in the previous phrase, “his Son Jesus Christ” is found the nearest antecedent noun (Christ) and therefore it is believed the “He” or “This” in the next phrase refers to Jesus. One Bible version (a paraphrase) renders this passage as:
And we know that Christ, God's Son, has come to help us understand and find the true God. And now we are in God because we are in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the only true God; and he is eternal Life (Living Bible).
This passage in First John is felt to be strong evidence for Jesus being God. This passage was used in arguments against Arius in the Nicene debate and both Luther and Calvin adopted the view that in 1 John 5:20, Christ is being referred to as the true God and eternal life.
Non-Trinitarians note that the Living Bible is a paraphrased version and therefore is not a translation as such but one author's view as to the meaning of the scriptures, a view that in this paraphrase reflects a belief in the Trinity. Secondly, it is pointed out that the nearest noun in the Greek language does not always point to the referent in a following sentence. A good example is found in the following:
1 John 2:22: Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son (KJV).
It is obvious that “He” does not refer back to the closest noun which is Christ but to the one who is a liar and denies Christ. Non-Trinitarians believe that in this same way, the word ‘He” or “This” as in “He is the true God and eternal life” does not refer to the antecedent “Christ” but to “him who is true” which by context is shown to refer to God the Father of Jesus. Some translations capitalize him, his and he in this passage to show connection between the various phrases containing these pronouns and the mention of God in the first sentence (See RSV and NAS). It is pointed out that John clearly references God twice in this passage as being true. It therefore follows that John would be referring to God the Father as “the true God and eternal life” in the last phrase of this passage. This also would be in keeping with Jesus' statement in John 17:3 where Jesus connects eternal life with knowing the “only true God” which by context shows a definite referent to the Father. John also writes in John 5:26 that the Father has life in Himself and grants life to the Son. This statement is believed to clearly show God the Father is the source of all life and all life, including that of the Son’s, is derived from the Father.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: A review of the various theologians and Greek scholars who comment on this passage show general agreement that the last phrase of this passage is referring to God the Father and not to Jesus Christ. Therefore, this passage does not appear to be evidence for Jesus being God but instead once again shows separation between God the Father and the Son and that Jesus came to reveal the Father as the one and only true God. There is nothing in this passage to suggest that Jesus is also God.
The indication that this passage was used in arguments that led to establishment of the Trinitarian doctrine as expressed in the Nicene Creed should be of concern. If the Trinitarian doctrine was based on these kinds of interpretations of the scriptures, it would appear that this doctrine was established on shaky ground.
SCRIPTURE #9
Romans 9:5: Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen (NIV).
Trinitarians often point to this passage as proof that Jesus is God. A number of other translations, such as the King James, New King James, American Standard and New American Standard translate this passage in a way to indicate Christ is God. Non- Trinitarians point out that many translations indicate that it is not Christ who Paul says is over all but God the Father who is over all. For example the Revised Standard Version has it this way:
“to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.”
In this translation as in another dozen or so that could be named, there is a period placed after the word Christ and the next sentence stands alone. It’s to be noted that the Greek manuscripts from which translations have been made do not contain punctuation. Punctuation was added by the translators based on their understanding of the context in which a word or passage is found. Interpretation, as well as doctrinal predisposition, has always played a role in determining how translators end up transferring meaning from one language into another. This is especially true of ambiguous passages. Romans 9:5 can be punctuated either with a period or a comma after the word Christ depending on what the translator feels the writer is saying.
How then do we know what is the correct way to view this passage. A review of the commentaries dealing with this passage show that throughout this letter to the Romans, Paul always distinguishes between Jesus Christ and God. The word God (Greek Theos) appears 153 times in Romans in addition to its appearance in 9:5. In all these 153 occurrences, it is clearly seen to refer to the Father. This pattern is seen overwhelmingly in all of Paul’s letters. On this basis along it is extremely difficult to conclude that Paul changes his way of thinking and writing by suddenly calling Jesus God when in every other instance he associates God with the Father.
A number of commentators have focused attention on what appears to be a doxology at the end of 9:5. Doxologies are closing statements, hymns or prayers directed to the praise of God. Paul’s statement in 9:5, “God who is over all be blessed (ulogeetos) for ever. Amen” (RSV) is seen as a clear doxology in the same vain as others found in the writings of Paul. Paul’s use of the Greek word translated blessed or praise (ulogeetos) is also instructive as it is the same word he consistently uses in praise to God the Father but never in reference to Jesus. If Paul is using this word in reference to Christ in 9:5, it would be a noted departure from the manner in which he uses this word in the rest of his writings. Here are some examples of doxologies and Paul’s use of ulogeetos.
Galatians 1:3-5: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Romans 1:25: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised (ulogeetos). Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:3: Praise (ulogeetos) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
2 Corinthians 11:31: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised (ulogeetos) forever, knows that I am not lying.
Ephesians 1:3: Praise (ulogeetos) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Non-Trinitarians point out that Paul continually speaks of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul is seen as saying God is the God of Jesus Christ as well as His Father. The question is asked: How can God be the God of Jesus if Jesus is the God? Since Trinitarianism teaches that God is a single entity and is in no way separated, how, it is asked, can God be the God of God? Trinitarians respond that Paul is thinking within the context of Jesus as a human relating to God His Father. Non-Trinitarians see this as a Trinitarian presupposition as they see no reason for Paul to be referring to Jesus in this manner after Jesus has been resurrected and ascended to the Father if indeed Jesus is coequal, coeternal and consubstantial with the Father and is therefore God as God is God.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: This analysis of Romans 9:5 reveals the necessity of carefully examining the methodology of a writer in order to determine his train of thought. Paul’s consistent distinction between God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son should be instructive as to how he viewed the Father compared to the Son. Because Paul consistently distinguishes God the Father from the Son and never uses the phrase God the Son, it is critical that where a passage is translated in such way as to indicate the Son is also God, such passage must be very carefully examined to determine if the writer is really saying Jesus is God. As can be seen in the examination of Romans 9:5, when the overall context of Paul’s writings are taken into consideration, the evidence weighs against Paul saying Jesus is God in this passage. Instead, the weight of evidence favors Paul writing that God the Father is over all and blessed for ever as a doxology of praise to the Father for what He has done through Jesus.
It should be noted, however, that even if one were to conclude that Paul is calling Jesus God, this would not necessarily mean Christ has the same qualities as God the Father and is self existent as God the Father. It is a common tendency on the part of Trinitarians to take apparent references to Jesus being God as proof that Jesus is self existent, coeternal, coequal and consubstantial with the Father and therefore is God in every sense as the Father is God. As already discussed in this series, there is nothing inherent in the Hebrew elohim or the Greek theos that demands these words imply self or eternal existence. These words are used to define angles, prophets, judges, Kings of Israel and even Satan. These words are used to define individuals having, or having been granted, power, authority and leadership. Determination as to whether Jesus is God as the Father is God cannot be made strictly by referring to scriptural passages where Jesus appears to be called God. We must look at the whole of scripture to make such determination. We will discuss this matter in much greater detail as we move alone in this series.
SCRIPTURE #10
Titus 2:11-13: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (NIV).
The NIV translates this passage in such manner as to show one subject (God) and that subject to be Jesus Christ, the great God and Savior who’s appearing is anticipated. Other translations show two subjects and therefore could be read with God being one referent and Jesus being another.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (KJV).
Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (ASV).
Scholars are divided as to how best to render this passage. Some see it referring only to Christ and some see it referring separately to God the Father and to Jesus Christ. The presence of the Greek kai (and) between the first noun (God) which is proceeded by the definite article tou (the) and the second noun (Jesus) preceded by no article has led some to conclude that God and Jesus are being identified as the same person in this passage. It is believed that if Jesus is to be identified as separate from God a definite article would precede His name. Others cite scriptural passages with similar Greek grammar construction where a definite article precedes the first noun but not the second noun and where context clearly shows two different individuals being referenced.
Some Trinitarians believe the context of this passage calls for Jesus being identified not only as Savior but also the great God. Verse 14 speaks of how Christ gave Himself to redeem us and purify a people for His very own. Since the OT speaks of God (YHWH) as Savior and redeemed people are spoken of as being God’s possession, it is felt that similar language in the NT testifies of Jesus being God as God is God. It is believed that Jesus is literally identified as the “YHWH” of the OT in being called the great God and Savior in this passage.
Non-Trinitarians respond that Jesus plainly says that those given to Him were given to Him by God His Father which shows subordination of the Son to the Father rather than the Son being equal with the Father. In praying to the Father Jesus said:
John 17:6-7: I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.
It is pointed out by Non-Trinitarians that Jesus said when He comes He would appear in his Father's glory (Matthew 16:27). It is felt Paul is reflecting on this pronouncement by Christ in His letter to Titus. Therefore, it is God the Father (the great God and Savior) and Jesus, the bringer of salvation that is being referenced. In Verse 10 of this passage Paul speaks of “God our Savior.” In verse 11 Paul writes of the “grace of God that brings salvation. In verse 13 God is spoken of as “the great God and Savior.” It is believed that when Paul addresses God as Savior, he is referring to God the Father as distinguished from Jesus who is seen as Gods agent for bringing salvation.
1 Timothy 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
1 Timothy 2:1-5: I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Jude 1:25: to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
God as Savior is always distinguished from Christ Jesus. Therefore, it is believed the God referenced in Titus chapter 2 is referring to the one and only God who is the Father and Jesus is referenced as the anticipated “blessed hope” through whom salvation is granted.
Some Trinitarians feel Paul is identifying Jesus as God in 1 Timothy 1:17 because God is called King. Paul, however, identifies the King as immortal and invisible. In Colossians 1:15, Paul says Jesus is the image of the invisible God showing it is God that is invisible. Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians that the only God is the Father (I Corinthians 8:6). Jesus speaks of the Father as the only true God (John 17:3).
Non-Trinitarians argue that Paul can’t speak of the only God being the Father to the Corinthians and speak of Jesus being the only God to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Paul speaks of God as King of kings and Lord of lords who alone is immortal whom no one has seen or can see. In this passage God is spoken of in contrast to Jesus as it is obvious Jesus was seen and can be seen. It is the Father here who is identified as the Supreme Lord over Jesus who is a lesser lord by comparison. This harmonizes well with Psalm 110 which shows Jesus as a lesser lord than YHWH. God is said to be the giver of life and alone has intrinsic immortality and therefore able to give life to others.
1 Timothy 6:13-16: In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The comments in regard to Paul always distinguishing God as Savior in contrast to Jesus is instructive. So is Paul’s charge to Timothy which shows the contrast between Jesus and God even through Paul is writing years after Jesus ascended to the Father. The implication is that only God the Father has true immortality (having neither beginning or end) and all other immortality is granted by the Father including that given to Jesus.
It should be noted that although Paul refers to God as Savior he also referenced Jesus as Savior in his letter to Titus.
Titus 3:3-6: At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
By context we can see in this passage the reference to “God our Savior” is a reference to God the Father and therefore is in keeping with Paul’s regular mode of expression in his letters. Jesus Christ is not referenced as God but is referenced as “our Savior.” This being the case, along with the many other references to Christ as Savior in the NT, it is certainly possible that Paul referenced Jesus as Savior in Titus 2:13. The phrase “great God” as a referent to Christ is grammatically possible but problematical. The expression “great God” is found only this once in the NT narrative. This phrase appears five times in the OT and by context can be seen to always refer to the one and only true God. For a Trinitarian, this is not a problem as the one God of the scriptures is seen as Father, Son and Spirit and so all six scriptural references to the “great God” are seen as referring to the Trinity.
The problem is that Paul uses the word God (Greek Theos) over 500 times in the NT documents and by context is seen to over and over again show a separation of Being between God the Father and Jesus His Son as opposed to a singleness of Being with the Father and Spirit. While Trinitarians view this within the context of the Fathers relation to Jesus as a human, Paul nevertheless continues this view knowing full well that Jesus has ascended to the Father. If Paul understood Jesus to share in the nature of a Triune God, he certainly never hints of such an understanding.
As previously stated, nowhere in scripture is Jesus called God the Son. He is always referred to as the Son of God. As previously discussed in this series, it does not necessarily follow that being the Son of God means being God as God is God. Scripture refers to other humans as sons of God and no one would conclude that they are God as God is God. Passages where Greek grammar allows theos to be applied to Jesus can only establish Jesus as consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Spirit if it can be demonstrated that God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit to begin with. If this cannot be demonstrated, to postulate that Jesus is God as God is God when the word God is applied to Jesus is to argue in a circle.
In my research thus far articulated in this series, there has not been one passage of scripture that establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus is God as God is God. There has not been one explicit or even certifiable implicit teaching in the scriptures so far discussed that identifies Jesus as a consubstantial, coequal and coeternal person with the Father and Spirit who shares and participates in a single plurality of being that is the one God. I have yet to see this concept articulated in scripture. We have a long ways to go, however, and it remains to be seen if the Trinitarian concept of God is supportable.
PART-SEVEN
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART SEVEN
In this installment we will continue to examine specific scriptures that relate to the issue of the Trinity.
SCRIPTURE #11
2 Peter 1:1-2: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Trinitarians point out that the Greek grammatical construction of “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” is the same as in Titus 2:13 except here the writer does not refer to God as the “great God.” Therefore, the problems discussed relative to the use of “great God” in reference to Jesus in Titus 2:13 is removed. Furthermore, the same grammatical construction is repeated in verse 11 where Peter writes, “and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here one person is clearly in view, namely Jesus Christ. Therefore, grammatically, verse one can speak of Jesus as God.
Non-Trinitarians point out that it is also grammatically correct to view God and Jesus as separate entities in this passage as is the case with Titus 2:13. They cite a number of translations that can be read this way of which the following are examples:
“to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (KJV).
“to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ:” (American Standard Version).
“to those who are chancing upon an equally precious faith with us, in righteousness of our God, and the Savior, Jesus Christ” (Concordant Literal New Testament).
It is also pointed out that in verse 2 is found the exact same grammatical construction where Peter says, “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Here there is a definite distinction between God and Jesus thus showing that the grammatical construction involving definite articles and their absence does not necessarily dictate that only one person can be referenced. It is also noted that Peter clearly distinguishes between Jesus and God the Father in all his other writing. He refers to Jesus twelve times as Lord and forty-five times to God as Father. There is no other possible reference to Jesus as God found in Peter's writings other than the possible reference in 1 Peter chapter one. It is therefore felt that the weight of references to God as Father and the one single possible reference to Jesus as God makes it problematical that the one reference is actually calling Jesus God.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: This last statement can also be applied to Romans 9:5 and Titus 2:13. Apostle Paul, like Peter, refers to God as Father 99% of the time and only on a few occasions is there a possible reference to Jesus as God. Such tremendous disparity in the way the word God is used by these Apostles is instructive to say the least and creates suspicion as to whether the word God, as in the Eternal Supreme God, can be validly applied to Jesus on those few occasions where the Greek grammar allows it.
SCRIPTURE #12
Hebrews 1:8-9: But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
Trinitarians see this as a straightforward undeniable reference to Jesus the Son being identified as God. Nearly all English translations take the phrase “Your throne, O God” as a vocative clause in the Greek which means that grammatically it indicates that something or someone is being directly addressed. There are some Greek scholars that see this phrase as a nominative clause and translate it as “God is your throne” implying that God the Father is the source of Jesus’ authority. While this is a grammatically acceptable rendering of this phrase, the majority of commentators on this passage see this as a vocative clause and therefore referring to Jesus as God.
Non-Trinitarians recognize that the nominative way of translating this passage is grammatically legitimate but have no problem seeing this passage as it is commonly translated. It is pointed out that the writer of this passage is quoting from a psalm written as a wedding song for a Davidic King, most likely Solomon.
Psalm 45:6-7: Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
This psalm is directed to a human king who is called god (elohim). Calling human rulers god (elohim) is common in OT literature. It is a title applied to one having great power and authority. Kings have great power and authority. Judges are called gods (elohim) in Psalm 82. The application of Psalm 45 to Christ is very appropriate as He has been granted great power and authority over angels and all other created beings. This does not mean Christ is God as God is God any more than a King in Israel was God as God is God even though Kings were given the title god. The evidence that Christ is not God as God is God is found in Hebrews 1:9. “Therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." Here we see the one God addressing Christ as being Christ’s God. If Christ is also the one God, we then have the one God addressing the one God which makes no sense at all. It must be pointed out that this is a picture of Christ in His glorified state where He is seen as being above his companions (possibly other supernatural Beings, angels, etc.). Yet God is seen as being His God. This clearly shows God to be above Christ as the one Supreme God.
Non-Trinitarians emphatically point out that even though Christ is spoken of as god, there is a Supreme God to whom He is answerable and from whom He receives his power, authority and Kingship. Verse 9 is a clear statement of the subordination of Jesus to the one true God and should by itself dismiss all notions of Jesus being a consubstantial, coequal, coeternal hypostasis of the one true Supreme God.
SCRIPTURE #13
Hebrews 1:10-12: He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."
Trinitarians see this passage as confirming that Jesus, as Lord, was there at the beginning and was the creator of the heavens and earth which will come to an end but Jesus has no end. This passage is a quote from Psalm 102:25-27:
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
In this Psalm the writer addresses the Lord (YHWH) throughout except right before the above passage where in verse 23 the writer says, “Do not take me away, O my God, (el) in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations.” The Hebrew for God is el which means a mighty one.
Trinitarians see this passage as showing YHWH as creating heaven and earth. Since YHWH is viewed as the creator in this passage and the writer to the Hebrews applies this passage to Christ, it is believed Christ must be equal with YHWH. The phrase “But you remain the same, and your years will never end," is seen as confirmation that Christ has no ending and by implication has no beginning and is therefore eternal. This passage is seen as proof that Jesus is the virtual incarnation of YHWH.
Non-Trinitarians point out that in Hebrew 1:1-2, the writer clearly says that God created the universe through the Son.
Hebrews 1:1-2: In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
Position B Non-Trinitarians believe this passage shows the Supreme God is superior to the Son as the ultimate power behind creation and that He gave power and ability to the Son to facilitate the creation. Therefore, Psalm 102:25-27 is perfectly applicable to Christ. The Psalm shows YHWH as creator which He is. The writer to the Hebrews shows how YHWH did the creating. He did it through His Son to whom the one Supreme God granted great power and ability to act as His creative agent. Rather than the writer to the Hebrews showing equality between YHWH and the Son, he shows subordination of the Son to YHWH. In scripture, you always see the Father directing the activity of the Son. You never see the Son directing the activity of the Father. There is no coequality here.
Another perspective on this passage in Hebrews involves the Greek construction of verse ten where in Greek this verse begins with the word “and.” Some theologians believe this makes the reference to “Lord” at the beginning of verse ten to refer back to God (the Father) last mentioned in verse nine where verse nine records “therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." It is believed the author of Hebrews is referencing Psalm 102:25-27 in celebration and reflection upon the creative power and enduring nature of YHWH who has now given great power and authority and an everlasting kingdom to His Christ (Jesus, the anointed of YHWH).
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: There is another perspective extant relative to Hebrews chapter one. It is noted that in verse two, where the writer says that through the Son God made the universe (world in most translations), the Greek word translated universe or world is aion. This Greek word appears 165 times in the New Testament and is variously translated as “world,” “age” and “ever.” Its meaning, however, has nothing to do with the physical world as it basically means a segment of time. It can relate to a long period of time and even time without end (forever) or a short period of time. Context determines it usage. The Greek kosmos relates to the world as created and the Greek oikoumene as the world inhabited.
The writer to the Hebrews clearly shows that it is the world (oikoumene) to come that he is writing about and it is that world that is the focus of this narrative.
Hebrews 2:5: It is not to angels that he has subjected the world (oikoumene) to come, about which we are speaking.
Since the focus of the letter to the Hebrews is to show the superiority of Christ over angles, and the Aaronic Priesthood and the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant, some interpreters believe the physical creation is not being addressed here at all but what is being addressed is the new spiritual creation that the Father was facilitating through Christ. From this perspective the heavens and the earth are seen as representative of the Old Covenant which was now being replaced by the New Covenant (new heavens and earth) through the Christ event. The phrase "to come" in Hebrews 2:5 is translated from the Greek word mello which means "about to come." It is believed by some theologians that the New Covenant age was about to be established and actually was established with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 when the means to facilitate the Old Covenant system was eliminated. There are many scriptures that could be cited to support this perspective but a complete discussion of this approach is well beyond the focus of our present investigation.
Non-Trinitarian A’s see God as creating all things with the Christ event in mind and therefore would see creation of the ages (Hebrews 1:2) as done within the context of Gods intention to bring about the New Covenant through the Christ event. The Trinitarian position is not established in these passages at all as it is clear the Son is seen as subordinate to the Father and therefore cannot be coequal with the Father. While a pre-existence for the Son can be theorized from these passages in Hebrews, other passages in this same letter point to Jesus having his beginning when Mary became impregnated by the Spirit of God. These passages will be considered in the summery section of this investigation.
SCRIPTURE #14
John 20:28: Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Many Trinitarian apologists consider Thomas statement to be the most profound utterance found in scripture as to Jesus being God. One commentator calls it the “supreme Christological pronouncement of the fourth gospel.” Some Trinitarians believe that the Greek Kurios, translated Lord is equivalent to YHWH in the OT as the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) uses Kurios to translate YHWH. It is also believed the Greek Theos is equivalent to Elohim as this Greek word is used in the Septuagint to translate Elohim. Therefore it is believed Thomas is addressing Jesus as YHWH my Elohim (God). It is further pointed out that the word God is preceded by the definite article “the” in the Greek and is therefore referring to the one God.
In response to such assertions by Trinitarians, Non-Trinitarians point out that if you are going to conclude that the statement by Thomas is teaching that Jesus is Kurios as an equivalent to YHWH and Jesus is Theos as an equivalent to Elohim as used in reference to YHWH in the OT, you are in direct opposition to Apostle Paul’s creedal statement to the Corinthians when he said:
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Paul clearly states there is one God (Theos) the Father and one Lord (Kurios) Jesus Christ. Paul makes a clear distinction between the one God (Theos) and the one Lord (Kurios). Paul is saying there is one Theos and that Theos is the Father from whom all things come and there is one Kurios who is Jesus Christ through whom all things come. There is absolutely no hint here of the Father and Jesus being involved in a Trinitarian relationship that is the one God. The one God is defined as the Father and the one Lord is defined as Christ. If the one God is the Father then Thomas calling Jesus God is calling Jesus the Father which Trinitarians would not accept.
As covered earlier in this series, in the OT we find two Hebrew words translated into the English lord. Adonai is translated as Lord with a capital L followed by lower case letters. Adoni is translated as lord with all lower case letters. Adonai is associated with YHWH, virtually means YHWH and is therefore capitalized to show its reference to the one God named YHWH. Adoni is translated with a small L because it never refers to the one true God but to men and on several occasions to angels. It is a title representing granted power and authority. With this in mind let’s again review what Peter said in the Book of Acts:
Acts 2:34-36: "`The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." ' "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
The first part of this passage is a direct quote from Psalm 110:1. In that Psalm, as discussed in detail earlier in this series, the first mention of Lord is YHWH and is translated into English as LORD to signify YHWH. The second mention of lord is adoni and is a reference to Christ. The Septuagint translates YHWH as Kurios, signifying a reference to YHWH. The second lord is Kurios mou which signifies “my lord,” a reference to Christ. In the Septuagint and in the Greek NT scriptures the writers use kurios (lord) to translate both Adonai and adoni. Therefore, it is important to distinguish how kurios is being used in a particular passage and who it is being referenced by this word. Since it is adoni that references Christ in Psalm 110:1, and adoni does not refer to a Deity but to men or angels having been granted power and authority, it is in this manner that the word lord applies to Christ. This is in perfect harmony with what Peter says about God making Jesus lord and Christ, and with what Paul says about there being one God called the Father and one lord, Jesus Christ.
The capitalization of the L in lord in the NT when lord references Jesus can be misleading as it may suggest an association with Adonai who is YHWH when in actuality it reflects the Hebrew adoni which reflects Jesus being a servant of YHWH. In the Hebrew Scriptures YHWH is shown to be the Father. If YHWH is the Father than Jesus isn’t YHWH as Jesus is considered distinct from the Father even in Trinitarian theology. Oneness theology sees the Son as YHWH as it is believed YHWH God became the Son as to the Son’s Divine nature. Therefore, Jesus is not considered distinct from the Father but actually is the Father as to His Divine nature. The Scriptures, however, nowhere explicitly teach that Jesus had a dual nature. This concept is extrapolated from scriptures that are believed to show Jesus had a duel nature and it is the examination of such scriptures that is our focus as these same scriptures are used to support Trinitarianism. Position A & B Non-Trinitarians both see the one God, whose name is YHWH, as the Father and the Supreme Lord (Adonai) of scripture and the Son as the appointed and anointed lord (Adoni) Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 63:16: You, O LORD, (YHWH) are our Father; our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Isaiah 64:8: Yet, O LORD, (YHWH) you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Therefore, when Thomas addresses Jesus as Lord and God, it is believed he is not addressing Jesus as Deity but as the resurrected Lord and Christ who has been elevated to the right hand of the one and only true Deity, God the Father who has granted great power, authority and glory to Jesus because of what He accomplished as Messiah. Thomas reference to Christ as God is a response to his realization that Christ is truly the Son of God. The word God is being used by Thomas not as a title of Deity but as a title of great esteem and honor just as the title elohim was often used in the OT. As covered earlier in this series, neither elohim nor theos inherently mean Deity. Over all context of a passage and over all context of the entire scriptural record must determine how a particular occurrence of elohim or its equivalent theos is to be understood.
Finally, it is pointed out that after His resurrection, Jesus made a virtual creedal statement as to the relationship between God and Himself and everyone else.
John 20:17: Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am returning (ascending in most translations) to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Jesus clearly reveals the Father as His God. There is no hint of Jesus being consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with His God. God is defined as Father and is shown to be God and Father over everything including Jesus. This is the teaching delineated throughout scripture.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: This Non-Trinitarian response appears decisive against Trinitarian claims for the statement of Thomas. The fact remains, however, that Thomas does call Jesus “the God” as is seen in the Greek construction (God with the definite article). Some feel any reference to “the God” is a reference to the one God. We see, however, that the one God is sometimes referred to without the definite article. In John 20:17, quoted above, there is no article before theos in this passage and yet by context it is obvious Jesus references His Father God. The same is true of Paul’s statement about one God in 1 Corinthians 8:6. There is no definite article before theos. The definite article only appears before the Greek word for Father. It is apparent, therefore, that the presence or absence of the definite article “the” with theos is not what determines whether the one supreme God is being referenced or whether the word god (small g) is being used to designate someone else. Immediate context and overall scriptural teaching must be considered in determining how theos is being used (See also: “Authors Comments” in the earlier discussion of John 1:1).
It should also be noted that in two verses after the quote of Thomas saying “My Lord and My God” John refers to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. John states that what he has written is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Nothing is said or implied that Jesus is actual God.
John 20:31. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
SCRIPTURE #15
John 1:18: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known (NIV).
The NIV translation of this passage implies that Jesus is God and is the One who has made known the Father. This rendering is used by Trinitarians to show oneness between the Father and the Son and therefore their unity as the one God. The NIV translation is derived from a reading of Alexandrian Greek texts that predate the texts most commonly used when translating this passage. These Alexandrian texts have monogenes theos where the word mono means only and genes means to be born or begotten or, as more recent scholarship has identified, genes means kind, type or unique and theos means god. Most Bible versions use later Greek texts that read monogenes huios where huios is the Greek word for son. Typical of such translations is the KJV:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, (monogenes huios) which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Bosom is from the Greek kolpos which literally means “the front part of the body between the arms.” In Greek literature it is used both literally and figuratively.
There has been much discussion in scholarly circles as to which Greek manuscripts reflect what John intended. Some argue that since the Alexandrian manuscripts are older, they better reflect what John said as they are closer to the time he wrote his Gospel. Other scholars, such as Bart Ehrman in “The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture,” argue that the Alexandrian rendering was a reaction to Adoptionist theology of the first century that taught Jesus was only a man born in the normal way and declared to be the Son of God sometime after His birth. Ehrman believes scribes altered the text to read “theos” in order to promote the belief that Jesus was God in opposition to Adoptionist teaching. Ehrman sees the Alexandrian renderings as problematical however because they suggest that the One and Only God resides in the One and Only God. Ehrman questions that if the Son is the One and Only unique God then what does that make the Father? Ehrman shows that the Alexandrian text passages of John 3:16, 18 and 1 John 4:9, which are all passages that speak of the only begotten Son, read monogenes huios which coordinates with the reading of later Greek texts. Ehrman opts for the later readings of John 1:18 being correct and the Alexandrian readings of this passage being a corruption facilitated by scribes who where trying to protect the concept of Jesus being God.
Non-Trinitarians point out that if the Alexandrian text is the correct rendering of what John was saying, it simply means Jesus is a one of a kind unique god (small g) and He is such because he is the only god (small g) who lives in such close proximity and relationship to the Father as to be described as being in the bosom of the Father. It’s argued (as is true of Ehrman) that Jesus cannot be the One and Only unique God and at the same time be in the bosom of the One and Only God. Non-Trinitarians see the Alexandrian readings as acceptable as long as theos in this rendering is seen as a small g designating a separate and lesser being than the Supreme God. The same would apply to monogenes huios which is sometimes translated as unique or one of a kind Son.
Non-Trinitarians see using the reading monogenes huios to say “Only begotten Son” as acceptable provided that begotten is understood in its normal sense to show a definite beginning in time and not “eternal generation,” a Trinitarian concept it is felt is scripturally untenable.
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: This discussion of John 1:18, underscores how problematical it is to use ambiguous passages of scripture in support of a doctrinal position. Here we have different readings of this passage in ancient Greek manuscripts and different understandings as to the meaning of certain Greek words contained in this passage. Even if the Alexandrian manuscripts are correct and Ehrman is wrong as to how he thinks the rendering in these manuscripts came about, this passage translated as we see in the NIV does not prove Jesus is the one true God as God is God. It only speaks of a one and only unique God or god who is at the Father's side making the Father known. The very fact it speaks of the one God/god being at the Father's side shows separation. Trinitarian theology teaches there is no separation, only distinctions in God. Scripture throughout the NT shows separation between the Father and the Son.
The bottom line is that to use this passage in support of the doctrine of the Trinity is risky because we just can’t be certain what John actually said or intended by what he said. We have a similar problem with the next passage.
SCRIPTURE #16
Acts 20:28: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (NIV and similar in KJV).
Some Trinitarians believe this passage supports the belief that Jesus is God because it is Jesus who shed His blood and this passage says God bought the church with his blood. This passage, however, is ambiguous because English translations differ depending upon what Greek manuscripts were used as the source for translation. Some translators used manuscripts that have the Greek kurios rather than theos and thus translate the passage as “church of the Lord.” Reference to “the Lord” is seen as a reference to Christ and therefore this passage in these translations have no bearing on the matter of Jesus being or not being God as the entire focus is on Jesus.
Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood (American Standard Version).
Some commentators have pointed out that the literal translation of the Greek at the end of this passage is “with the blood of his own.” The phrase “his own” is felt to be a reference to the Son and therefore the passage is sometimes translated as “with the blood of His own Son.”
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son (RSV).
AUTHOR’S COMMENTS: Here we see several different ways of translating this passage depending on the Greek manuscript used and the manner in which the Greek construction is understood. As with John 1:18, there is no justification for using this passage as a proof text for the Trinity. It is interesting to note that “church of God” appears to be the correct rendering as this phrase occurs eleven times in the Greek texts whereas “church of the Lord” appears only in some variant textual renderings of Acts 20:28. The “church of God” rendering is found in the older Alexandrian texts. Bart Ehrman believes the variant readings found in Greek texts are a reflection of the continuing battle in the early centuries of the Church over how to understand the relationship between the Father and the Son. There were the Adoptionists who believed Jesus was not Deity and became the Son of God during His earthly ministry. On the opposite end were the Patripassianists (Type of Modalism) who believed God was the Father only but took on humanity and appeared as Jesus Christ to shed His blood for the sins of mankind.
Ehrman believes the textual variant of “church of the Lord” was an attempt to moderate the Patripassianist view that God the Father became Jesus and shed his blood. Later Greek manuscripts are seen to further adjust the passage to read “the church of the Lord and God.” What is also interesting is that in the oldest Greek manuscripts the end of this passage is rendered “the blood of his own” while in later texts, including most modern Greek texts, the rendering is “his own blood” thus making “his own” refer back to God. What we are seeing is that over the centuries, copiers (scribes) of the Greek text made adjustments of the Greek text to reflect what those in positions of Church leadership promoted as orthodox. What appears to be the case, as Ehrman points out, is that at times adjustments were made one way and at other times adjustments were made the other way in order to counter what were considered unorthodox teachings.
In the case of Acts 20:28, it appears that “church of God” and “the blood of his own” is the correct rendition as this is the rendering found in many of the oldest manuscripts and is also in harmony with other scriptures. This would permit the passage to say that God purchased the church through the shedding of the blood of His own Son. This would harmonize well with I John 1:7 where God's Son Jesus is seen as shedding His blood for sin. Yet in most of the more recent Greek texts, we see the rending “his own blood” to support the idea that the reference to God in this passage is a reference to Jesus and therefore tacitly provides support for the Trinity.
All this raises the obvious question as to how much has orthodoxy influenced the transmission of scripture versus scripture being allowed to influence and determine orthodoxy? This is a very delicate dynamic and it should instruct us to be very careful in how scripture is used to establish doctrine, especially a doctrine as foundational as the nature of the Father and the Son. It is very apparent that Greek texts differ in their rendering of certain passages and English and other language translations from such Greek texts will reflect such differences. Historically, translators have had to make choices as to what texts to use. It is evident from the variance seen in renderings; choices are often made on the basis of what is orthodox theology at the time. This, however, does not ensure that the rendering chosen is that which best reflects the thinking of the original author. The following is another example of this sort of thing.
PART EIGHT
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART EIGHT
In this installment we will continue to examine specific scriptures that relate to the issue of the Trinity including the "I Am" statements Trinitarians often cite as evidence Jesus is YHWH and therefore God.
SCRIPTURE #17
1 Timothy 3:16: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (KJV).
The KJV translation of this passage suggests Jesus is God as it speaks of God being manifest in the flesh, referring to Jesus. This rendering is sometimes used by Trinitarians as a proof text to show Jesus is God. Yet the oldest Greek Manuscripts do not show Theos but a different Greek construction that doesn’t say God was manifest in the flesh but that “He,” which is believed to refer to the Son, was manifest in the flesh. The reference to God in verse 15 is believed to be a reference to the Father and since it was not the Father who became flesh but the Son; it is the Son being referenced in verse 16. Most modern translations render this passage using the word “He” as referring to Christ.
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is very deep indeed: He was made visible in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory (New Jerusalem Bible).
Even though this translation was made by Catholic scholars who are Trinitarians, they chose to use Greek texts that they felt were closer to the original even if it didn’t necessarily support Trinitarian doctrine as do the texts used by the KJV translators. The Simple English translation says it this way:
We must agree that the secret of our faith is great: Christ appeared in a human body. He was shown to be right by the Spirit. He was seen by angels. He was preached among the nations. He was believed in the world. He was taken up to heaven.
SCRIPTURE #18
Colossians 2:9: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity (Greek theotees: = State of being God) lives in bodily form,
Some Trinitarians see this passage as proof that Jesus is God as it is argued that the fullness of Deity can’t live in someone and that someone not be Deity. Oneness theologians draw the same conclusion. Most Non-Trinitarians see the very next verse along with Ephesians 3:19 dispelling that notion.
Verse 10: and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Ephesians 3:19: that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
If all the fullness of Deity dwelling in Jesus makes Jesus God then it should follow that the fullness of Jesus as God and certainly the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19) in us should make us God. Furthermore, if all the fullness of God dwells in Christ as to make Christ God, does that mean Father and Spirit reside in Christ? While Oneness theologians believe this to be the case, such a conclusion is in contradiction to the many passages that show clear separation between the Father as the one and only true God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3). There are serious problems encountered when trying to make Colossians 2:9 say Jesus is God, let alone a Trinitarian God.
SCRIPTURE #19
Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
2 Corinthians 13:14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Trinitarians see both these passages as supporting Trinitarian doctrine as to the nature of God. It is believed these statements show an internal relationship between Father, Son and Spirit as the one God. In the Matthew passage, Jesus is seen not as speaking of individual names of the Father, Son and Spirit but is believed to be actually saying “in the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Non Trinitarians point out that this Trinitarian conclusion as to what Jesus was saying is purely speculative and runs contrary to Christ’s statement in John 17:3 where He identifies the Father as the only true God. For those who may conclude that the three persons of the Trinity are here being named it is pointed out that while the Father has the name YHWH and the Son is named Jesus, there is no name for the Holy Spirit found in scripture. In the Greek manuscripts, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not capitalized in the Matthew passage and Holy Spirit is not capitalized in the Corinthian passage in the Greek manuscripts as is the case throughout the Greek NT. In 1 Timothy 5:21, Paul says, “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels….” No one would conclude from this that God, Jesus Christ and angels are in some kind of Trinitarian relationship. In the Corinthian passage, Paul distinguishes between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God as God is God, why the distinction?
We will deal more extensively with Matthew 28:19 at the end of our discussion of the Holy Spirit.
SCRIPTURE #20
Isaiah 40:1-3: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God (Elohim). Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's (YHWH) hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD (YHWH); make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God (Elohim).
Matthew 3:1-3: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"
Trinitarians and “Oneness” theologians believe the “Lord” referred to in Matthew 3:1-3, is Jesus. Since this Lord is spoken of as the LORD (YHWH) in Isaiah, it is believed that Jesus must be YHWH and therefore must be God.
Non-Trinitarians respond by showing that Jesus puts a different spin on this prophecy of Isaiah and shows that it is YHWH talking to Him (Jesus) about making the path straight for His appearing. In speaking about John the Baptist, Jesus said this:
Matthew 11:10: This is the one about whom it is written: "`I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'
The “I” is referring to YHWH and the “you” is referring to Christ. Therefore, Jesus sees Isaiah as saying it is YHWH saying to Christ that John the Baptist will prepare the way for Christ’s appearing. The New Jerusalem Bible translation makes it very plain:
Matthew 11:10: He (John) is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.
THE “I AM” STATEMENTS:
Trinitarians often point to the “I am” statements of Jesus as evidence for Jesus being God. For example in John 8:24 Jesus says: "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins"(NIV).
The statement “I am” is believed to be associated with Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 43:12.
Exodus 3:14: God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'"
Isaiah 43:10: “You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Other NT scriptures having “I am” statements that are used to support the concept that Jesus is God are the following: These are all taken from the NIV.
John 8:28: So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
John 13:19: "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.
John 18:4-8: Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?" Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."
The Greek for “I am” in these passages is ego eimi and means “I am.” It is a common Greek clause that is often found with a predicate that defines what “I am” refers to or if a predicate is not present the context will provide the definition of what “I am” is referring to. For example we see Christ making statements such as “I am the bread of life, “I am the good Shepherd,” “I am the light of the world,” etcetera. In passages where there is no identifying predicate, the context of the passage identifies and defines the meaning of “I am.”
Trinitarians make the claim that where there is no identifying predicate and the phrase “I am” in the Greek stands alone, Jesus is identifying Himself with the Elohim of Exodus 3:14 and the YHWH of Isaiah 43:10? Some even go so far as to say when there is an identifying predicate such as in “I am the good Shepherd,” that by using the phrase “I am” Jesus is identifying with YHWH. It is pointed out that the “he” as in “I am he” is added by the translators and is not in the Greek. Do we see in the Greek ego eimi Jesus identifying Himself with YHWH?
When Jesus walked on the water toward the boat the disciples were in and they expressed great fear at what they were seeing, Jesus said, "It is I; (ego eimi) don't be afraid" John 6:20. When Jesus healed the blind man and people questioned the man who was blind whether he was the one who had been blind he said “I am.” (ego eimi) John 9:9. When Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan women and she spoke of the coming Messiah, it’s recorded that Jesus said "I who speak to you am he." (ego eimi) John 4:26. Ego eimi is found dozens of times in the NT scriptures and by it predicates and by context can be clearly seen to act as a verbal connection identifying the person associated with this clause. There is no grammatical or linguistic reason to associate this common Greek clause with YHWH or Elohim.
Translators commonly add “he” to clarify the Greek which they understand is using ego eimi as a connecting clause associated with the person in the passage. Some translators, such as in the NIV, actually add inserts such as “the one I claim to be” to further clarify what Jesus is saying. Context of the passage or the entire Gospel will tell you who Jesus claimed to be. If you read through John, as well as the other Gospels, it is clear that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Nowhere does Jesus claim to be YHWH or Elohim. As already covered in this series, being the Son of God does not necessarily equate with being God.
Some claim that Jesus saying “I am” in John 18:5-8 clearly shows that Jesus was identifying Himself as God because those who came to arrest Him fell backwards to the ground when He identified Himself by saying “I am.” Jesus said “I am” in response to His inquiry as to who they were looking for. Some believe they fell to the ground because they felt Jesus was blaspheming by calling Himself God. Others believe those arresting Jesus were stunned by the power of His proclamation of being God. It must be kept in mind, however, that the soldiers said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus told them He was the one they were looking for. They could have fallen backwards simple in response to Jesus offering Himself to them without resistance, something they probably weren’t use to.
Non Trinitarians point out that if Jesus was using the “I am” statements to identify Himself as God, then why didn’t such statements have a similar effect on others who heard them during the course of His ministry. Furthermore, in Mark 13:6 Jesus is recorded as having said, “Many will come in my name, claiming, `I am he,' (ego eimi) and will deceive many.” It is obvious, however, that Jesus was not claiming that others would come and claim to be God but would claim to be Christ. Matthews’s record of this statement clarifies what Jesus meant by saying “I am.” “For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:5). By comparing these two accounts it becomes clear that when Jesus in some contexts used the expression “I am” He is referring to Himself as the Christ, the promised anointed one (Messiah) of Israel. Jesus being the Messiah doesn’t equate with Him being YHWH.
Jesus statement in John 8:58 is believed by Trinitarians to identify Jesus as God. In fact this is one of the most frequently used scriptures by Trinitarians to support their contention that Jesus is the YHWH of the OT that spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
John 8:58: I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (ego eimi).
Trinitarians believe Jesus identifies Himself with the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14 and by context shows He existed as the “I AM” before Abraham existed. Therefore Jesus identifies Himself as the eternal God. It is pointed out by Trinitarians that the Septuagint translation of the OT uses ego eimi to translate the Hebrew ehyeh asher ehyeh for “I AM who I AM” and this further gives evidence to Jesus being the same “I AM” that is spoken of in Exodus 3:14.
Non-Trinitarians point to the extensive work done by Greek and Hebrew scholars, grammarians and translators on these passages and show that the commonly used English versions do not reflect the true meaning of these passages which consequently has led to false conclusions as to these passages supporting the concept that Jesus is God.
A number of Biblical scholars have shown the Hebrew in Exodus 3:14, ehyeh asher ehyeh is better translated “I will be what (or who as asher can mean either who or what) I will be." Ehyeh is translated as “I will be” in other OT scriptures. For example in Exodus 3:12, the same Hebrew word ehyeh is translated, “And God said, I will be with you.” It is pointed out that God, in telling Moses that He is ehyeh asher ehyeh, is not revealing His name. His name is YHWH which is made plain in verse 15.
Exodus 3:15: God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, `The LORD, (YHWH) the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
It is the name YHWH that God wants Israel to remember Him by and not ehyeh asher ehyeh. YHWH is used nearly 7000 times in the OT to reference God. YHWH is the name that identifies God and not ehyeh asher ehyeh. Since ehyeh asher ehyeh is in the future tense in the Hebrew, Hebrew scholars have pointed out that this phrase was not intended as a name for God but as a declaration of God's intention to fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A number of English translations of Exodus 3:14 render ehyeh asher ehyeh as “I will be what I will be” and some versions that have the traditional “I AM that I AM” translation, foot note this phrase with “I will be what I will be.” For example Bullinger’s Companion Bible, which uses the KJV for its text, footnotes this phrase in this manner.
It must also be noted that the Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew in Exodus 3:14 is ego eimi ho on which in English means “I am the being” or “I am the one being.” The third mention of “I AM” at the end of this verse in the Septuagint is not ego eimi but “ho on” which means in English “the being,” or “the one being.” It is apparent the translators of the Hebrew into the Greek saw this passage as God telling Moses to tell the Israelites that He as “the being” is sending Moses to them. Therefore it is not "I AM” who is sending Moses but “the being.” In none of the “I am” statements associated with Jesus, including John 8:58, does Jesus use this expression of “the being” as found in the Septuagint rendering of Exodus 3:14. This being the case, Non-Trinitarians believe it is absolutely false to claim that Jesus is identifying Himself with the God that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush in John 8:58 or any other “I am” passage. It is believed the phrase “I am,” as use in the Greek, is not a title for God at all but simply an expression of the verb “to be” such as in the phrase “I am the good Shepherd.” Non-Trinitarians accuse Trinitarians of trying to make this verb into a proper name.
So what does Jesus mean by saying “before Abraham was I am?” Grammarians who have studied this passage find that in the Greek construction of this verse the phrase ego eimi, being in the perfect indicative tense, expresses a past action that is still going on and therefore the actual meaning of this passage is that “before Abraham came to be I have been.” In terms of the grammatical construction of this passage, ego eimi covers the entire period from some time before Abraham to the time Jesus was speaking to Jews standing before Him. Various translations render this passage with this understanding of the Greek grammar. For example, one Greek scholar, K. L. McKay in his A New Syntax of the Verb in the New Testament Greek renders this passage as “I have been in existence since before Abraham was born.” This rendering portrays the sense of continuing existence from before Abraham up to and including the present. Some translations, such as the 1971 edition of the New American Standard Bible, footnote “I AM” with (or, “I have been.”)
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: It is quite apparent that upon close examination of the “I AM” statements of Jesus that these statements do not associate Him with YHWH at all or provide evidence Jesus is God or that He has eternally existed. All that ego eimi appears to do is act as a connecting verbal clause that links Jesus to a descriptive noun or identity such as in “I am the good shepherd.” Most translations add the word “He” where a definite predicate is lacking to show a relationship to a previous statement of identity. Since it is apparent that “I AM” is not a title for God, to claim the “I AM” statements of Jesus proves He is God is bogus. I have personally looked at Greek renderings of John 8:58 and the construction discussed above is applicable.
It appears on the surface that Christ’s statement that He existed before Abraham is damaging to the position A Trinitarians who do not believe in the preexistence of the Son of God. On the other hand, position A folks look at John 8:58 and see it as Jesus saying that Abraham foresaw the day of Christ as it is believed verse 56 indicates this when Christ said: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” It is believed that Christ was in the plans of YHWH before the creation of the world and foreseen by some of the patriarchs. It is pointed out that the scriptures tell of Christ being crucified before the foundation of the world. He wasn’t actually crucified until the end of His ministry on earth. In the mind of God, however, Christ was as good as crucified from the time God determined to create a Son who would become the Savior of the world. In the same manner it is believed Christ was before Abraham in the mind of God and Abraham was made privy to God's plan and able to see the day of Christ in advance and rejoice over it. While this position appears tenable, there are a variety of other passages that appear to clearly teach preexistence for the one who became Jesus.
REVELATION:
The book of Revelation has a number of passages that are used by Trinitarians and Non-Trinitarians to support their respective positions. Non Trinitarians point to the Revelation as solid evidence that Jesus is a separate Being from God.
Revelation 1:1-2: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word (logos) of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Non-Trinitarians point out that John does not say “which the Father gave him” but says “which God gave him.” God is seen as a separate Being from Jesus. There is not a distinction made here between the Father as God and Jesus as God but the distinction is between God and Jesus. There is no reason to believe Jesus is one in Being with the one giving Him the Revelation. There is also distinction between the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, in Revelation 3:12, Jesus is quoted four times as referring to God as His God. If, in His glorified state, Jesus still relates to God as His God, How can Jesus be one in Being with this God and be considered to be this same God?
Trinitarians will argue that when John writes that it is God who gave Jesus the Revelation, it is God as Father giving the Revelation since God is distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit. Trinitarians claim that the scriptural writers use the terms God and Father interchangeably. Non-Trinitarians respond that the following passage dispels such a notion.
Revelation 1:4-6: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
In this passage John gives greetings from “him who is, and who was, and who is to come” and from the seven spirits before his throne and from Jesus Christ who is identified as the first born from the dead who has made us a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father. Here we see distinction not only between the Father and Jesus but between God and Jesus. If distinction was only being made between the Father and Jesus, it could possibly allow for some kind of one Being relationship as found in Trinitarian and Oneness theology. Distinction, however, is being made between God and Jesus. John is clearly saying that the Being who is to be praised is both God and Father of Jesus, not just the Father of Jesus. If God is seen as the God of Jesus, how can Jesus be that same God? Remember, we are seeing Jesus after His ascension. Jesus still relates to God as His God after he has ascended to God. Therefore to postulate that God and Jesus are of single Being and equally God is a virtual oxymoron.
Distinction is made between the one associated with the throne before which are seven spirits and the person Jesus. Who is associated with the throne? In chapter four is a description of the throne on which sits the Lord God Almighty who is characterized as “who was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 4:2: before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Verse 8: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
In chapter five, the one that sits on the throne is seen as handing the scroll to Jesus Christ who is represented by a lamb. In chapter 11:17 the Lord God Almighty is identified as “the one who is and who was”
Revelation 5:6-7: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne; ---- He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
Revelation 11:16-17: And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
It is apparent that the one who sits on the throne is the Lord God Almighty. The one sitting on the throne is seen as interacting with the lamb (Jesus) in various ways throughout the Revelation.
Revelation 7:10: And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
Revelation 12:10: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
Revelation 20:6: but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
The lamb (Jesus) is seen as separate from the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne and therefore Jesus is not the Lord God Almighty. Since the Lord God Almighty is seen as “him who is, and who was, and who is to come,” this title is not referencing Jesus. Since Jesus relates to God as His God and Father in 1:5, it is apparent from the overall context of Revelation that the Lord God Almighty is the God and Father of Jesus to whom Jesus is shown to be subservient and therefore not coequal with.
Some Trinitarians believe Revelation 1:8 refers to Jesus and therefore Jesus is “him who is, and who was, and who is to come,” and Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega and the Lord God Almighty. Therefore, Jesus is God as God is God.
Revelation 1:8: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
Here again reference is made to "who is, and who was, and who is to come” and, as we have seen, this title is associated with the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne. Since the title "who is, and who was, and who is to come” references the one associated with the throne in Revelation 4:2 and now in 1:8 this title is seen as associated with the Lord God, Almighty, it should be apparent that the one who sits on the throne is the Lord God, the Almighty. Since Jesus speaks in terms of serving His God and Father within the context of references to he who sits on the throne, it appears that he who sits on the throne is God the Father who also is the Alpha and the Omega of verse eight. Therefore, Jesus is not the Alpha and Omega in this verse. In Revelation 21:5-7 the one who sits on the throne is specifically identified as the Alpha and the Omega.
Revelation 21:5-7: He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
It is pointed out that in this passage it is the one seated on the throne who will be the God of those who overcome and they will be his sons. Since the scriptures speak often of we becoming sons of God and since becoming a son implies a Father/son relationship, it is believed that we become sons of God the Father which further verifies that the one seated on the throne is God the Father who is the Lord God Almighty and the God and Father of Jesus in Revelation 1:4-6. If the one who sits on the throne is the God and Father of Jesus it shows separation and difference in status between God and Jesus.
Trinitarians will point to Revelation 22:12-13 as referring to Jesus as the one coming soon and therefore being the Alpha and Omega of scripture.
Revelation 22:12-13: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
What must be determined in chapter 22 is who is speaking and when. In verses one through six it appears the angel is speaking. In verse seven Jesus may be speaking or the angel may be speaking on His behalf. In verse eight, John is speaking. In verses nine through eleven the angel is speaking. Who is speaking in verse twelve and thirteen? The speaker says he is coming soon and his reward is with him. In Revelation 11:16-18 the Lord God Almighty is seen as being worshipped on his throne and is identified as the “one who is and who was.” He is also seen as bringing reward to his servants. In Matthew 6:1-4, reward is seen as derived from the Father. Since the one sitting on the throne is previously identified as the Alpha and the Omega in the Revelation, this title appears to exclusively apply to the Lord God Almighty. Since the Lord God Almighty is the one sitting on the throne and is seen as separate from the lamb (Jesus) throughout the Revelation, it is the Lord God Almighty who is speaking here and not Jesus. While it is true that Jesus is also seen as the one coming in the Revelation, His coming is as the agent of His Father, the Lord God Almighty. It is the Father who facilitates reward and judgement through the Son. The Son is seen as coming in the presence of God the Father. God the Father is seen as the one coming through His agent Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 3:13: May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Trinitarians will point to Jesus saying He is the first and the last in Revelation 1:17 and 2:8 as proof He is the Alpha and Omega. Non-Trinitarians respond by pointing out that in both these passages Jesus associates being the first and the last with His death and resurrection. Therefore, Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world and not as the Almighty God who sits on the throne as the Alpha and Omega. In Revelation 1:19 Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” In Revelation 2:8, John speaks of Christ who died and came to life again. God can’t die. Since God can’t die He certainly didn’t come back to life. Jesus died and came back to life. There is no hint here of Jesus being God and somehow only the human side of Him died.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The strongest argument Non- Trinitarians have against the Trinity in the Book of Revelation is Jesus referring to God not just as His Father but as His God and Father. Secondly, we see God referring to Jesus as His Christ, His anointed one. This clearly shows a lesser status of the Son as compared to the Father and therefore places in serious question the idea that the Father and the Son are coequal. Furthermore, it is an unproven Trinitarian assumption that when the scriptures speak of God in relationship to Christ the Father is meant. As already covered, dozens of scriptures speak of God not only being the Father of Jesus but being the God of Jesus as well. Scripture repeatedly shows God to be the God, as well as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things came and through whom we live.
2 Corinthians 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
In these passages we see the one God identified as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. While the scriptures also identify God the Father as Lord many times, it is as the One and Only Supreme Lord God Almighty whose Name is YHWH and Adonai (Lord). Jesus is not this Lord. Jesus is not the Lord who is the One and only Supreme Lord God Almighty who is the Father. Jesus is the one lord as the One and Only begotten Son of the Father through whom the Father does His work and accomplishes His purpose. As discussed earlier in our exegesis of Psalm 110, Jesus is the lord adoni and not the Lord Adonai which only refers to YHWH Elohim. The one who is the Alpha and Omega and sits on the throne is YHWH. The fact that the Alpha and the Omega is the one who sits on the throne and is seen as handing the scroll to the Lamb should make it clear that the one sitting on the throne is superior to the Lamb.
It is clear the Lamb (Jesus) has been granted great glory, power and authority and is worthy of great worship as the chief agent of the Lord God Almighty. It is also clear that the Lamb is subservient to the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne and is the God and Father of the Lamb. There is no equality of Being here as Trinitarians claim. Jesus Christ cannot be God as God is God when He clearly speaks of God being His God and Father.
In Daniel's vision of the coming of Christ we see Jesus appearing before the “Ancient of Days” and being given authority and power by the “Ancient of Days” If Jesus is coeternal, coequal and consubstantial with the Father, He would have the same power and authority as the Father and would not have to be given such power and authority. The very language of this passage shows the superiority of the Father to the Son.
Daniel 7:13-14: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
If the Ancient of Days is God and Jesus is God, how do you approach someone you already are? How are you led into the presence of someone you already are? Why do you need to be given authority, glory and power if you already have it as a coequal with the one giving these things? Even if the Ancient of Days is looked upon as the Father of a Trinitarian unity of Father, Son and Spirit, the language of the passage demonstrates not just a distinction in a consubstantial, coequal and coeternal relationship but a separation of Beings and status.
PART NINE
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART NINE
IS THE HOLY SPIRIT GOD?
As discussed at the beginning of this series, inclusion of the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarian concept of God did not materialize until the Council of Constantinople where the Holy Spirit is described as the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. Thus we see the Holy Spirit viewed in a relationship with the Father and the Son and to be worshiped and glorified as is the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit is seen as proceeding from the Father and is characterized as the Lord and Giver of Life. Therefore the Holy Spirit is considered consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son and is God as Father and Son is God.
The idea that the Spirit is a person of a Triune God is not explicitly found in scripture. As is true of the belief that the Son is a person of a Triune God, belief that the Spirit is a person of a triune God is based on conclusions drawn from what it is believed the scriptures teach on this issue. The primary argument offered by Trinitarians for the Holy Spirit being God is the Spirit's close association with God and Christ as seen throughout the scriptures. The Spirit is seen as exerting influence in a great number of ways and always doing so in association with the Father and/or the Son The Spirit is seen as active in creation, in the affairs of Israel, in the Prophets and, of course, in Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the New Testament Church. The Holy Spirit is seen in association with the manifestation of power, wisdom, understanding, judgement, love and truth.
The words Spirit and Holy Spirit appear hundreds of times in the scriptures. In Hebrew the word for Spirit is ruah and in Greek the word for Spirit is pneuma. These words have the same basic meaning. They mean air. More specifically these words denote the movement of air as in breath or wind. Scripture speaks of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of life, the spirit in man and of the Spirit in a variety of others ways. The scriptures often show the Spirit as speaking, teaching, helping, interceding, guiding and doing many other such things. Therefore, Trinitarians view the Spirit as a person and believe only a person could be said to do what the Spirit is said to do. For example the Spirit teaches, convicts, is truth, guides, speaks, hears, restrains, sanctifies and even appears to think.
John 14:26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:8: When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Acts: 16:6: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
1 Peter 1:2: Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 2:10: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
This has led many Trinitarian theologians to conclude the Spirit has personality and must be a distinct person like the Father and the Son. Non-Trinitarians respond that such references represent the mind and power of God and are personifications of God's Spirit. Personification is where abstract attributes such as wisdom and understanding are represented as having a life of their own or where a person is seen as representing such attributes by being viewed as the attribute itself. Personification is found throughout the scriptures. For example, in the Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman and is said to speak, cry out, raise her voice, reprove, laugh and so forth. Wisdom is seen as being loved, having a mouth, having a house and offering bread and wine (See Proverbs chapters one, four, eight and nine). Yet we all know that wisdom is not a person but an attribute of mind.
It is therefore argued that the Spirit of God is not a person and does not exist in distinction from God. The Spirit of God is seen as the mind and power of God expressing all that God is. It is His knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is his power and authority. It is His love, mercy, righteousness and justice. It is the outward manifestation of all that God is. The scriptures actually identify God as Spirit.
John 4:24: God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
Non-Trinitarians point out that the human spirit represents and is the manifestation of all that humans are. The body without the spirit has no viable expression of thought or will. Spirit is the cognition function of the physical body. In Genesis 2:7 it is recorded God breathed (Hebrew ruah) into man and man became a living soul. The spirit of a human is the human in action. The Spirit of God is God in action. God is identified in scripture as the Father. The Spirit of the Father is no more separate or distinct from the Father than the human spirit is separate or distinct from the human while the human is alive. Since God is eternal and is self existent, God cannot die and so His Spirit is eternally active. God is eternal Spirit. When scripture speaks of God being Spirit it is not speaking of Spirit as a distinction within a Trinitarian unity of three persons that is God but of will, power and thought that make the one God a cognitive living Being.
Human life comes from God Spirit but it is temporary life. Upon conversion we become reborn by the Spirit of God and this rebirth imparts eternal life to us. When Jesus said that God is spirit and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth, Jesus is saying we are to worship Him with the very life He has given us through Spiritual rebirth. Spiritual rebirth is what Jesus discussed with Nicodemus in John, chapter three. This is how relationship with God is facilitated.
Non-Trinitarians see the Spirit of God intimately associated with what God is. Therefore sinning against the Spirit is the same as sinning against God. For example, in the account of Ananias and his wife lying about the money, they are seen as lying to the Holy Spirit and to God. Trinitarians see this passage as proof the Holy Spirit and God are separate identities. Non-Trinitarians see this as Ananias and his wife sinning against the one God who is working in Peter by His Spirit and so when these two individuals lied to Peter it was the same as lying to God.
Acts 5:3-4: Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
Apostle Paul shows that rejection of instruction coming from the Apostles was the same as rejecting the instruction of God, instruction that is seen as coming through and being understood as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:8: Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
God is seen as giving His Holy Spirit. It is noted that in scripture you often see that action directed toward or coming from God or the Holy Spirit means the same thing.
Non-Trinitarians refer to Paul’s comments about the spirit of man being compared to the Spirit of God. It’s pointed out that just as the thoughts of man's spirit are not separated or distinct from man, neither are the thoughts of God’s Spirit separate or distinct from God. Just as the spirit of man is the very manifestation of man's thoughts and actions, so the Spirit of God is the very manifestation of what God thinks, does and virtually is. Just as man has spirit which is not a separate or distinct person from himself, so God has Spirit which is not a separate or distinct person from God.
1 Corinthians 2:11: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
The scriptures show that God is able to distribute His Spirit throughout the universe. It is by His Spirit the universe is sustained. Here the analogy of the sun distributing its light and heat through millions of miles applies. The light and heat are not the sun but are a manifestation of the sun's make up. God’s Spirit is seen as a manifestation of God essence which is distributed throughout the universe and is expressed in thousands of ways including the various personifications found in scripture. It is through His Spirit that Mary became impregnated with Jesus. Non-Trinitarians point to the association between Spirit and power of God in the account of the birth of Jesus.
Luke 1:35: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Some Non-Trinitarians like to say that if the Holy Spirit is a person then the Holy Spirit was Father of Jesus and not God the Father. Trinitarians respond that the Father used the Spirit to incarnate Jesus. Non-Trinitarians wholehearted agree, but believe this proves Spirit (The word “The” before Spirit is not in the Greek of Luke 1:35) emanates from the Father as mind and power and not as a person distinct from the Father. Therefore, God the Father is the Father of Jesus, not through the action of a person called the Holy Spirit, but through the action of His innate mind and power that is called Holy Spirit. This Spirit is called Holy because it emanates from Him who is completely holy.
It is pointed out that Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on High. Here again the Spirit is seen to be associated with the power of God and not some third person of a Triune God.
Luke 24:49: I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Non-Trinitarians see the Spirit of God equated with the presence of God which is seen to be everywhere. David equates God’s Spirit and presence with God Himself and not some person that proceeds from God.
Psalm 139:7: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,
Spirit is regularly seen in scripture to signify power, mind and presence. In Luke 1:17, John the Baptist is seen as coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. No one would conclude the spirit of Elijah was a person. Paul wrote to Timothy that God has given us a spirit of power, love and sound mindedness (1st Timothy 1:7). These are all attributes of God’s Spirit with no hint of them coming from and through a third person of a Trinity. Paul said this to the Romans:
Romans 8:9: You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Here it is indicated that the Spirit of God is an attitude and power of mind that overrides the power of the sinful nature and it is therefore a spirit of righteousness. It is equated with having the Spirit of Christ. We know the Spirit of Christ was a Spirit of righteousness. In another place in Paul’s writings he speaks of having the mind of Christ. Having the mind of Christ would be no different than having the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Christ is shown as equal to having the Spirit of God. Over and over again we see attributes of mind such as thought and attitude associated with spirit. Non-Trinitarians see no reason to associate spirit with a third person of a Triune God when spirit is constantly seen in scripture as the action of mind and power which ultimately derives from the one God who is identified over and over again in scripture as the Father.
Non-Trinitarians point out that when the Apostles write to the Churches, greetings are always sent from two persons, the Father and the Son. Never is the Holy Spirit included in such greetings. It is asked if God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, why is the Spirit never included in these greetings? Worship is seen as directed to both the Father and the Son but never to the Spirit. Trinitarians retort that scripture does direct worship to the Spirit as the scriptures direct worship to God and God is Father, Son and Spirit. This, of course, assumes the Trinity to be valid and is therefore a case of assuming the thing to be proved, which is a dangerous way to argue anything.
Even in the one scripture where Jesus Christ, God and Spirit are simultaneously mentioned, not as a greeting but as a benediction, it is to be noted that the wording is such as to distinguish between Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God.
2 Corinthians 13:14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
If indeed Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are God as God is God, it is rather strange that this greeting makes these distinctions. Trinitarians will argue that the one God is being identified in His three distinctions. Paul, however, does not distinguish the Father from Jesus and the Spirit but he distinguishes God from Jesus and the Spirit. It would appear Paul is seeing God as God, Jesus as His Son and the Spirit as the mind and power of God which God shares with us which Paul sees as the fellowship of the Spirit.
The scriptures often speak of the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Christ. It is asked if the Spirit is a distinction in the Godhead how can it be of God and of Christ. If the Spirit is consubstantial, coequal and coeternal and yet a distinction in the Godhead how can it be described as of God or of Christ. If when described as of God is meant of God the Father it would imply subordination to the Father. When described as of Christ it would imply subordination to Christ. Some Trinitarians will argue that all three persons of the Godhead are subordinate to each other and of equal will. Non-Trinitarian respond that scripture shows subordination of the Son to the Father but the Spirit as something shared between Father and Son and also shared with man.
It is believed the scriptures clearly show the Spirit is of the Father and is virtually personified in Christ because of Christ being in perfect unity with the Father. It is this unity of Spirit that Christ wants us to have with Him and through Him with the Father. Scripture records that when the disciples would have to appear before government officials, they would be given the words to say. Mark records it as, “Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Matthew records it as, “For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20). Matthew identifies that it is the Spirit of the Father. Luke writes, “For I (Christ) will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Luke records Christ as saying it is He that will give them the words to say thus implying the Spirit is personified in Christ. In referring to Christ, Paul said, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
In Trinitarian theology, Christ is not the Spirit but is seen as distinct from the Spirit. The three “persons” of the Godhead are not seen as being each other but are seen as distinct from each other while maintaining oneness of Being. So even though they are considered consubstantial, coequal and coeternal, they are not each other. Yet Paul defines Christ as the Spirit. Jesus said God is Spirit. Non-Trinitarians see this as Paul showing the total harmony of relationship between the Father and His Son and therefore the Son is a total representation of the Spirit of the Father. Therefore, the Spirit is seen, not as a person of a Trinitarian union between Father, Son and Spirit, but as the mind and power of the one God, the Father, flowing through Christ and from Christ into and through man. Christ is not seen as a person of the one Supreme God but as God's glorified agent who is in complete subornation to, and in a totally harmonious spiritual relationship with the Father, the one Supreme God. Through Christ, humans are seen as having opportunity to share in that same relationship.
In Trinitarian theology the Spirit is seen as distinct from the Father and the Son as part of a Triune relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. Non-Trinitarians see God as the Father only and note that the Spirit of God (the Father) is spoken of in ways that clearly show it to be an attribute of the Father and therefore does not exist as an identity or distinction from the Father. Scripture shows the Spirit can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19), fanned into flame (2 Timothy 1:6-7) and given out in portions or in full amounts (1 John 4:13 &. John 3:34). This is not language conducive to defining the Spirit as a person or identity distinct from the Father or the Son. This is seen as language that depicts the Spirit as God’s influence upon our lives and yet an influence that can be mitigated by our human ability to exercise free choice.
Trinitarians retort that these are figurative representations of the Spirit and therefore they can be applied to the Spirit as a distinction within the Trinity. It is noted that scriptures say the Spirit can be poured out (Acts 10:45), but the scriptures also speak of Paul being poured out (2 Timothy 4:6). If Paul can be poured out then so can the person of the Spirit within the Trinity be poured out. Non-Trinitarians respond that scripture explicitly shows Paul to be a living person, distinct and separate from other persons. So when Paul says he is being poured out, while he is speaking figuratively of himself, he is identified as a distinct person having definite structure. The Holy Spirit has no such identification but is said to be a person only on the basis of manifesting person like qualities. Non Trinitarians see such manifestations as personifications of the mind and power of God in action and not the action of a distinct person of a Triune God. In Isaiah 40:13 the prophet says, “Who hath directed the spirit (Hebrew: ruah: Masoretic Hebrew text) of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him?" (KJV). Apostle Paul quotes this passage when he says, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34). Paul uses the Greek word nous (Septuagint rendering of Isaiah 40:13) which means the faculty of intellect, perceiving, understanding, feeling, judging and determining, etcetera. Here Paul is seen as equating the Spirit of God with the mind of God. It is also apparent that the Septuagint translators (Hebrew to Greek) understood the Spirit to be the mind of God and rendered ruah as mind. This is felt to clearly show the Spirit of God is the mind of God and not a person within a Trinitarian Godhead.
GREEK NOUNS AND PRONOUNS:
Another area of contention between Trinitarians and Non-Trinitarians relates to the manner in which the Spirit is identified grammatically in the scriptures. Trinitarians see the pronouns “he” and “his” used in association with references to the Spirit and conclude this proves the Spirit has personality and should be identified as a person.
In the Greek language, nouns have what is called gender where some nouns are considered masculine, some feminine and some neuter. These designations do not necessarily identify the noun as being male, female or neuter as these gender designations are often applied to words that have nothing to do with actual gender (male or female). For example, the word "sword” in Greek is in the feminine gender and yet a sword is not a female. The Greek for wall is masculine, for door feminine, and for floor neuter. In Greek, gender designations of male and female are applied to persons, places and things. Neuter nouns are applied only to impersonal things such as objects, forces, abstractions and so forth, but such nouns can be given personification.
The Greek language also has three kinds of pronouns associated with these genders. When a pronoun appears with a noun having a masculine, feminine or neuter gender, the pronoun must match the gender designation of the noun. For example, a masculine noun takes a masculine pronoun such as “he,” “who,” “whom,” or “his.” A neuter noun takes a neuter pronoun such as “it,” “itself,” or “which.” The word “Spirit” (Greek pneuma), in Greek, is neuter and takes the pronoun “it” or “which.” Many English translations place a masculine pronoun in association with Spirit and Holy Spirit. Thus, the translators have abandoned the grammatical requirements of the Greek language in favor of supporting their predisposition toward believing the Holy Spirit to be a person. This method of rendering neuter pronouns as masculine pronouns is common throughout English translations in reference to the Holy Spirit. A good example of this type of translation/interpretation is Acts 5:32.
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom (Greek “o”) God has given to those who obey him" (NIV and most English translations).
Here the phrase “Holy Spirit” is neuter with the Greek pronoun “o” which, to be consistent with Greek grammar, should be translated “which” and not “whom.” If you look at Acts 5.32, in a Greek interlinear translation where Greek words are translated into their equivalent English words you will find “o” translated as “which.” In interlinear translations the translator must adhere to the grammar requirements of the language being translated and therefore personal basis is largely eliminated.
In view of the foregoing, it is misleading to use masculine pronouns in association with the grammatically neuter “Spirit” as it gives the false impression that the Greek language is showing the Spirit to be a person which the language is not doing. The application of gender in the Greek language does not directly define whether something is person, place or thing. Such definition must be established with other knowledge of how a particular word is to be understood. It should be pointed out, however, that the neuter designation in Greek appears to only apply to impersonal things. While this is not definitive as to the Spirit not being a person it points to the difficulty associated with such a designation.
Trinitarians often point to passages in John 14 and 15 as proof that the Holy Spirit is a person and not just the manifestation of the mind and power of God. In these passages Jesus tells the disciples that He would send them another Counselor (Greek parakletos) who is identified as the Holy Spirit. Since the Counselor, as the Holy Spirit, is referred to as he, him and whom, it is believed the Holy Spirit is a person.
John 14: 16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor (Comforter in KJV, Helper in NKJV) to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (NIV).
John 14:26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 15:26: "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
John 16:7-8: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.
John 16:13-15: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
Non Trinitarians point out that the Greek parakletos is of masculine gender and, therefore, requires a masculine pronoun. It is, therefore, grammatically necessary to use the pronouns him, he, his and whom in these passages. However, just as the neuter gender Greek pneuma does not establish the personhood or non-personhood of Spirit, neither does the masculine gender parakletos establish the person or non-personhood of Counselor. As stated above, the Greek masculine gender is associated with persons, places and things. When this gender is associated with a noun, it doesn’t by itself tell you what the noun means. That must be determined by other information.
In the passages cited above, the Counselor is identified as the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth. But, it is the masculine gender parakletos that is being discussed and so using the personal pronouns of he, him and whom is perfectly legitimate. Even in John 16: 13-15, were Jesus speaks of the Spirit of truth, He is still talking about the parakletos and therefore the use of the Greek pronoun ekeinos, he and his, is appropriate. Some Trinitarians insist that the word Spirit is being modified by the pronoun ekeinos. This is simply not the case as this is a masculine pronoun and would not be applied to a neuter noun.
In view of the dynamics associated with gender in the Greek language and the fact that gender, in and of itself, does not establish the meaning of a noun, a personhood for the Holy Spirit cannot be established on the basis of grammar, a fact acknowledged by various Greek scholars. It is further pointed out that in John 15:26, the Counselor is seen as going out from the Father (proceeding from the Father in the KJV). According to Trinitarian theology, the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father in the Trinitarian Godhead. If this is the case, why is it seen as proceeding from the Father? To the Non-Trinitarian the answer is that the Father is the one and only Supreme God who has Holy Spirit of intellect and power and this Spirit flows to wherever the Father wills that it flow.
Non-Trinitarians point out that throughout the scriptures the Son is spoken of as of God, the Spirit is spoken of as of God but nowhere is the Father spoken of as of God. It is believed the Father is never spoken of as of God because the Father is God and the Son and Spirit are of the Father. The Son is seen as of the Father in being directly begotten by the Father and the Spirit is seen as of the Father as the Father's power, thought, emotion, creativity and all other personal attributes manifested by the Spirit. The Spirit of God is seen as the personality of God as defined by all the characteristics attributed to the Spirit in the scriptures. The Spirit of God is virtually what God is just as the spirit in man is virtually what man is. In neither case does the Spirit/spirit exist as its own person in distinction from the person wherein it resides.
Trinitarians often point to Matthew 28:19 as proof of the Trinitarian nature of God. It is believed that since the Father is identified in scripture as a person and the Son is identified in scripture as a person, so must the Holy Spirit be a person as all three are mentioned as needing to be named in this baptismal protocol.
Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Non-Trinitarians readily admit to the Father and Son being identified in scripture as persons but do not see the Spirit so identified and so do not conclude that just because the Spirit is mentioned in this baptismal protocol that the Spirit is a person or that because three entities are mentioned this proves God is a Trinity of consubstantial, coequal and coeternal persons. In 1 Timothy 5:21 Paul says to Timothy, “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” Here we have elect angels mentioned in relation to Jesus and God. No Trinitarian would conclude that these angels are in a Trinitarian relationship with God and Jesus. What is also interesting is that Paul distinguishes between God and Jesus Christ. Paul doesn’t distinguish between the Father and Jesus but between God and Jesus. If Jesus is God in a consubstantial, coequal and coeternal Trinitarian relationship why does Paul distinguish between God and Jesus?
There is an additional problem as to the use of the baptismal protocol found in Matthew 28:19 to support Trinitarianism. This supposed instruction of Jesus is nowhere found in scripture to have been followed by the early church. All references to baptism show baptism being done only in the name of Jesus. Here are a few examples:
Acts 2:38: Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:48: So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 19:5: On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
The reasons we see the early church not following the baptismal protocol found in Matthew 28:19 is that this formula may never have been uttered by Jesus Christ. Eusebius (260 to 340 AD), Bishop of Caesarea, was a prolific writer of church history up to his time and often quoted scripture in his writings including Matthew 28:19. Eusebius never quotes Matthew 28:19 as it appears in modern translations but always finishes this verse with “in my name.” He shows Jesus saying that baptism was to be done in His name. Eusebius was quoting from manuscripts no longer extant as our modern translations are taken from later Greek manuscripts. In view of this fact and the scriptures repeatedly showing baptism being only done in the name of Jesus, it would appear that the baptismal protocol found in modern translations of Matthew 28:19 is suspect and should not be used as a definite protocol for baptism and certainly not as a proof text for the Trinity.
PART TEN
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART TEN
CONCLUSIONS:
I entitled this series of essays, Is God a Trinity? My purpose was to determine whether the Trinitarian concept of God is supported by the scriptures. I began this inquiry by establishing that we would look at both the Trinitarian and Non-Trinitarian view and allow the evidence to bring us to a conclusion that would be beyond reasonable doubt. After reviewing the evidence, as delineated in this series of essays, I must conclude that the Trinitarian view is not validated by the scriptures beyond reasonable doubt. In fact the evidence appears to weigh in stronger for a Non-Trinitarian perspective as to the nature of God.
While I began this study as a tacit Trinitarisn, I became increasingly surprised at the absence of evidence for the Trinitarian position and likewise surprised at the weight of evidence for a Non-Trinitarian perspective.
Trinitarianism postulates God is Father, Son and Spirit. There is no question the scriptures show God as Father. God as Father is shown consistently in scripture and the Father is seen as being eternal, having neither beginning nor end. The Son is shown as begotten by the Father. Being begotten is commonly understood to mean being procreated and therefore implies a beginning. Trinitarians bypass this meaning by postulating the concept of eternal begettal or eternal generation of the Son. This concept places a different spin on begotten that is not found in scripture. In reality, such a concept appears to be an oxymoron as the common way of understanding begettal involves a starting point and therefore by definition is not an eternal event.
As recited at the start of our investigation, the Nicene Creed states belief in one God the Father Almighty and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is begotten of the Father. This Creed appears to define begotten as being of the same essence and substance as the Father and therefore makes a distinction between being begotten and being made. Somehow it is concluded that to be of the same substance as the Father is to be as the Father in everyway without actually being the Father. What exactly it means to be of the same essence or substance is not defined in the Creeds. The Nicene and Constantinople Creeds use the Greek word homoousios to say “of one substance.” This phrase, however, is not found in the scriptures to define the relationship between the Son and the Father. Furthermore, it may be inappropriate to refer to God as substance which is a word associated with the material world. Scripture says God is Spirit. Can we really associate a word like substance with Spirit?
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father; by whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man.(Nicene Creed)
Because this Creed defines begotten as being of one essence or substance with the Father it is said that Jesus is God as the Father is God, God of God, Light of Light, and very God of very God. As discussed earlier in this series, the English “begotten” is translated from the Greek monogenes where the word mono means only and genes means to be born or begotten or, as more recent scholarship has identified, genes can mean kind, type or unique. If monogenes is understood in this manner, it may mean the Son is a one of a kind, unique Son of God that has either existed eternally or was begotten which would imply a beginning. It tells us nothing as to the substance of the Son or how the Son relates to the Father beyond being His Son. Monogenes is applied to Jesus five times in the NT.
John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:18: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
1 John 4:9: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
These passages are taken from the NIV and, as can be seen, the translators of the NIV are translating monogenes as “One and Only” and not as begotten as is common in most other English translations. We discussed the problems with John 1:18 showing Jesus as God earlier in this series. Translating monogenes in the manner seen in the NIV reduces the problem of contending with the natural and normal meaning of begotten which suggests the Son has a beginning. But it doesn’t make the problem go away as monogenes may mean begotten in the usual sense which places the eternal existence of the Son in question. We must therefore go to other passages that pertain to the history of the Son for clarification.
The Greek word gennao is also applied to Jesus in the scriptures. This word means to become the Father of and is associated with conception and being born. Unlike monogenes, which can be looked at as open ended, gennao implies a definite beginning. It is used literally and figuratively in scripture. In Matthew 1:20, the angel tells Joseph that what is conceived (gennao) in Mary is of the Holy Spirit. The writer to the Hebrews uses gennao to say the following about Christ:
Hebrews 1:5: For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? (Greek gennao: Translated begotten in most translations) Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? NIV (This is a quote from Psalm 2:7).
Hebrews 5:5: So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become (Greek gennao: translated begotten in most translations) your Father” (NIV).
What are we to make of these statements? Gennao implies a beginning. The writer speaks of a day of beginning. Is the writer speaking of the beginning of the human existence of the Son or is he referring to a beginning in the distant past. In John 3:16 and 1 John 4:9 quoted above, John says that God gave and sent His Son. John 1:14 suggests the same. Contrary to the position of the A Non-Trinitarians discussed in this series, a number of scriptures we have previously examined certainly appear to on the surface show the pre-human existence of the Son (Colossians 1:15-19). Do the scriptures uphold such pre-existence to be without beginning (eternal) or as having a beginning? Do the scriptures ultimately show a lack of pre-existence altogether?
The scriptures often refer to God being eternal. For Trinitarians this means Father, Son and Spirit. But is the Son, God of very God as the Creeds proclaim? If the Son is God, is He consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Spirit? Jesus said His Father is greater than He. Trinitarians see this statement as Jesus comparing his human self with the Father. But such a comparison would be superfluous as it is obvious the Father is greater than humans. It is more reasonable to conclude Jesus is saying the Father is greater than He and always has been. The scriptures consistently show subordination of the Son to the Father. The scriptures consistently speak of God as the Father of Jesus Christ. The scriptures show Jesus calling God His God. All this suggests the Son exists in a subordinate relationship to the Father and is not equal with the Father in the sense of being God as God is God. Then there is the matter of who died?
If Jesus is God and remained God while in the flesh, who died? God is eternal and immortal so God can’t die. If God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, then the Son as a distinction in this Trinitarian relationship could not have died. If Jesus as the human Christ was fully God and fully human, did only the human part of Him die? If only the human Jesus died, then God didn’t die. Is it necessary that God die in order for the penalty for sin to be paid? Nowhere do the scriptures say God had to die in order for redemption to take place. The scriptures simple reveal that God would send a redeemer (the promised Messiah) and this redeemer/savior would be born of a virgin through Divine conception (begettal) and therefore be called the Son of God and this Savior would die for the sins of the world.
As we have seen in the foregoing review of dozens of scriptures, nowhere is there explicit teaching or conclusive implicit teaching that Jesus is God as God is God or that Jesus had to be God in order to take away the sins of the world. Every scriptural passage used by Trinitarians as evidence for establishing Jesus as consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father can be understood in a way that does not establish Jesus as being God as God is God and in many cases provides stronger evidence for Jesus being less that the Supreme God of the universe. When this is coupled with the multiple dozens of scriptural statements where God is described as the God and Father of Jesus, where Jesus describes God the Father as the only true God, where Jesus calls God His Father and His God and where Jesus is seen in subordination to the Father before, during and after His earthly ministry, it becomes exceedingly difficult to believe Jesus is a consubstantial, coequal and coeternal hypostasis of the one Being who is God.
It appears more scriptural to believe the Son was created by God at some point in history, and exists as the chief, but subordinate agent of the one and only Supreme, Most High God. It is through this subordinate agent that the one God facilitated the redemption of mankind. Because of what this agent accomplished as the Christ, He has been elevated to the right hand of God and has been given great power and glory as virtual Deity and is therefore to be worshiped along with His Father who remains the one and only Supreme God. This view of Christ correlates well with the scriptures we have examined in this series and maintains the absolute monotheism of scripture which speaks of there being only one true, All Mighty, Most High, Supreme Unitarian God.
I fully understand this perspective in part reflects the Arian view of the fourth century which lost out to the Athanasian view which became the orthodox view. I urge the reader, however, not to draw conclusions as to the nature of the Father, Son and Spirit on the basis of Arius, Athanasius, the Creeds or what is orthodox. Our doctrine of God must be based on what is revealed in the scriptures. In this series of essays, I have examined the major scriptures that pertain to the Trinitarian concept of God and based on the results elucidated, I can only conclude at this point that there is an absence of clear evidence for the Trinitarian position.
When I read the fourth century Creeds that postulated a Trinitarian definition of Father, Son and Spirit, I am forced to compare these Creeds with the Creedal statements found in scripture which emphatically teach that there is only one Almighty Supreme God above all other gods and that God is the Father.
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord (kurios), one faith, one baptism; one God (Theos) and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 1:9. “Therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
John 5:44: How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (In the Greek it is “The one and only God” and is so translated in other versions such as the New American Standard Version. The context of chapter five shows Jesus is speaking of the Father).
John 20:17: Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
The greatest NT creedal statement of all is found in Jesus’ affirmation of the OT creedal statement that God is one. Jesus not only affirmed what Moses said in Deuteronomy 6:4 but spoke in terms of agreement with this creed as associated with being in the Kingdom.
Mark 12:29-30: "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord (kurios) our God (Theos), the Lord (kurios) is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Mark 12:32: "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.
Mark 12:34: When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
The Creed of Deuteronomy clearly identifies YHWH as the one God. As discussed earlier in this series, YHWH is identified as Father in the OT on fifteen separate occasions. If YHWH is the one true God and YHWH is the Father, then the Father is the one true God. Since Jesus is not the Father, Jesus cannot be the one true God.
Some look at Paul’s statement to the Corinthians that “there is but one God, the Father,” and “there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ,” as Paul saying there is one God (no comma) the Father and one Lord (no comma) Jesus Christ and equate “God” with “Lord” and conclude Paul is saying there is one Father and one Lord, both of whom are the one God. This conclusion, however, assumes God and Lord mean the same thing in this passage for which there is no evidence. Paul expressively calls God the Father and Jesus the Lord thus showing two different designations. Paul makes it very clear as to the distinction between God and the Son in his many statements where he speaks of the God and Father of Jesus. These Pauline statements consistently refer to God as the God and Father of Jesus and not just the Father.
If the Father only was being referred to, one could conceivably manufacture a position saying the Father and the Son exist in some kind of one substance relationship as the one God. But this is not what we find Paul saying. Over and over again he speaks not of God the Father of Jesus but the God and Father of Jesus. In so doing, Paul is saying God is the God of Jesus, as well as being the Father of Jesus. If God is the God of Jesus, then how can Jesus be that God? As already pointed out, Jesus refers to God as His God several times in the scriptures and others see God as the God of Jesus (See Hebrews 1:9 above).
Apostle James makes the same distinction between God and Jesus. James 1:1: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. There's no hint here of Jesus being the God James is referring to.
In his statement to the Corinthians and Ephesians, Paul contrasts the one Lord with the one God and Father who is over all things. To Timothy, Paul says there is one God and Jesus is the mediator between men and this one God. Paul doesn’t say between the Father and man which could possibly allow for a single substance relationship between the Father and the Son, he says between God and man thus distinguishing, not between the Son and the Father but between the Son and God. This is said in full knowledge of Jesus being at the right hand of God, which in itself shows separation between God and Jesus. In John 17, Jesus contrasts the “only true God” with himself showing separation of status. In John 20, Jesus again speaks of the Father as His God. All you have to do is substitute the word Trinity, or Father, Son and Spirit, in place of God in the above passages and you will quickly see the absurdity of seeing God as a Tri-unity of Father, Son and Spirit.
In the Greek Scriptures, the single word lord (Greek Kurios) is used in reference to both God the Father and Jesus. In the Hebrew Scriptures the words Adonai and adoni are used for Lord/lord where Adonai is used in association with the Supreme God and adoni is used in association with non-deities. As discussed earlier in this series, in a clear reference to Jesus in Psalm 110:1, it is the Hebrew adoni that is used in association with Christ and not Adonai. It is therefore apparent that when God is called Lord in the NT it is a designation of Deity whereas when Jesus is called Lord it is a designation commensurate with the meaning of adoni. Jesus is the Lord Christ, the anointed of YHWH Elohim. In Luke 2:26, Jesus is referred to as the Lord’s Christ showing He is the anointed of the Lord God the Father. Nowhere in the NT is Jesus referred to as the Lord God.
I see the foregoing scriptures as strong creedal statements showing a distinction between the Father and the Son where they are not in a consubstantial and coequal relationship, but in a relationship where the Son is subordinate and of a lesser status than the Father. This is the normal and natural way of understanding a Father and Son relationship and is the kind of relationship seen throughout the scriptures regarding the Father and the Son.
Some Trinitarians, seeing the scriptural support for this conclusion, suggest that the Son has voluntarily given up His equal status with the Father and assumed a subordinate role in the Godhead. While this may be a valiant attempt to uphold the consubstantial, coequal paradigm for the Father and Son, I find nothing in scripture to support such an idea.
Some Trinitarians recognize the force of the Hebrew Shema and its affirmation by Jesus in Mark 12 but believe our understanding of the nature of God is progressive and while the Trinitarian construct may not be explicit in scripture, it can be extrapolated from what are believed to be many implicit references to God being a Trinity. This approach, however, is essentially saying that Jesus and the writers of the NT scriptures understood God one way only to have that way gradually supplanted by the reasoning of theologians in the second, third and forth centuries. We are in essence being asked to accept the perspective of theologians years removed from the writing of the canonical scriptures and the expressed belief of the scriptural writers that the one true and Supreme God is the Father and none else.
While Trinitarianism purports to maintain the monotheism of the scriptures, it does so by introducing a construct that is not explicitly revealed in the scriptures. While there are scriptures which on the surface appear to support Trinitarianism or at least a concept of Jesus being God, when such scriptures are critically examined, they fail to establish beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus is God as God is God or that Jesus had a dual nature of Divinity and humanity.
On the other hand, scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 1:9, John 5:44, 17:3 and 20:17, all provide straightforward statements of distinction between the one God and Jesus who is seen as separate and subordinate to the one and only true God who is the Father. Unlike the scriptures put forth by Trinitarians to support their position, the scriptures cited above are clear, straightforward statements which upon critical examination maintain their clear and straightforward meaning. You cannot make these scriptures support Trinitarianism without distorting their obvious meaning. These scriptures cannot be understood in other ways as is true of the various scriptures we examined that on the surface support Trinitarianism.
The strongest scripture in support of the concept that Jesus is God, is found in John chapter one, verse one. If this passage is understood in the traditional manner as identifying the Word as Jesus and the Word not only being with God but being God, it certainly appears to show that Jesus is God in some sense. But, even with such understanding of this passage, there is no evidence in this passage to conclude God exists in a Trinitarian relationship involving one substance of three distinctions. Such a conclusion must be derived from consideration of many other passages that relate to the nature of the Father, Son and Spirit. As already stated, I have presented the major scriptural passages used to support the doctrine of the Trinity and upon examination have found them to be inconclusive as to supporting the Trinity and in some cases have found these scriptures to better support a Non-Trinitarian concept of God.
Some Trinitarian theologians argue that because the scriptures show absolute harmony of purpose and will between the Father and the Son they must be in a consubstantial, coeternal and coequal relationship in order for such extreme unity to exist. It can just as easily be argued, however, that the Father and Son can be of such extreme unity because the Son had the fullness of the Father’s Spirit from the beginning whenever that beginning was. This doesn’t necessitate the Son having to be consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father in order for this to be the case. The Son does not have to be God to be in a harmonious relationship with God. The scriptures reveal that God gave Jesus of His Spirit without measure. Therefore, the Father and Son have a totally harmonious relationship.
It appears that God’s purpose for humanity is that we also attain to that same level of harmonious relationship with the Father. This doesn’t mean we become one in substance with the Father or that we will ever be at the same level as the Son. We have relationship with the Father through the Christ event. Christ made reconciliation with the Father possible and allows for the Father to give us of His Spirit which brings us into adoption as his sons. This does not make us God as God is God and there is every reason to believe from our investigation in these essays that Jesus is not God as God is God either.
Some who teach what is called “Trinitarian Theology,” see all humanity centered in the Trinity. The Greek word perichoresis is used to describe a mutual indwelling of the three persons of the “Godhead” and it is in this mutual indwelling relationship that humanity participates. The scriptures, however, show the Christ event has made relationship with the Father the focus, not a three person Godhead. Through death and resurrection, Jesus has facilitated our human adoption as the very sons of God the Father, not as sons of a Trinitarian “Godhead” of Father Son and Spirit. It is the Father as the one and only true God that is the focus of the scriptures from Genesis to the Revelation. Scripture shows Jesus came to reveal the Father. Jesus reveals the Father as Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25). Jesus constantly directs attention to the Father in His teachings. Jesus taught that by honoring Him we honor the Father. While the scriptures show Jesus as being worshiped and at times prayed to, we find Jesus directing worship and prayer toward the Father (Matthew 6:6, John 4:23, Hebrews 7:25). While we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, we still pray to the Father. That should say a lot about who the one and only God is and where our relational focus should be.
It is often felt that because Jesus is seen as being worshiped in the NT scriptures, Jesus must be God because only God can be worshiped. We find, however, that worship can be directed toward non-deities as well. Worship is an act of respect and reverence toward one having authority, power, and a certain status. In the Hebrew Scriptures we find worship being directed not only to God but to men of position and power. The Hebrew word commonly used in the OT for worship is hithpael which means to prostrate one self. It was a way of doing homage to a superior. While this word is primarily seen in association with the worship of God in the OT, it is also seen in association with the worship of Kings and others. We see David prostrating himself before King Saul and the Israelites doing hithpael to both God and King David.
1 Samuel 24:8: Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated (hithpael) himself with his face to the ground.
1 Chronicles 29:20: Then David said to the whole assembly, "Praise the LORD your God." So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.
We find Bathsheba doing hithpael to David. Ruth did hithpael to Boaz. The Shunammite women, whose son the prophet Elisha raised from the dead, did hithpael to Elisha. We find dozens of such occurrences in OT Scripture. Worship in scripture is not something limited to Deity. Worship can be directed to non-deity commensurate with their level of qualification for such worship. It is when non-deity claims to be Deity or is looked upon as Deity where worship is prohibited. Worship of false gods is what is condemned throughout scripture.
In the Greek Scriptures is the word proskuneo which is the equivalent of the Hebrew hithpael in meaning and is used almost exclusively in association with the worship of God and Jesus but is also seen in Revelation 3:9 as applied to members of the church at Philadelphia.
Revelation 3:9: Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship (proskuneo) before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee (KJV).
The Father is the only one worthy of being worshiped as God because the scriptures show Him to be the one and only Supreme God. Jesus is worthy of worship because of His status as the only begotten Son of the one and only Supreme God. Our worship of the Father and Jesus is a response to who they are. Our worship of them is commensurate with who they are. We worship the Father as the one God. We worship the Son as the anointed of the one God. Because we worship Jesus doesn’t make Jesus God. Jesus was worshiped by the Magi that came to Bethlehem not because they thought He was God but because they knew He was the prophesied King of Israel. Therefore, they paid Him the appropriate homage. God the Father and Jesus, God's Son, are worthy of worship commensurate with who they are. Paul makes plain who they are.
I Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
The Father is the one God and Jesus is the anointed Lord of the one God through whom we can have contact with the one God who is the Father.
HOLY SPIRIT:
Our discussion of the Spirit should speak for itself. To postulate that the Spirit is a person of a Triune God is problematical as the many actions attributed to the Spirit are easily attributable to the expression and manifestation of Divine thought and power just as the many actions performed at the human level are attributable to human thought and power which is the expression of human spirit. No one would conclude that human spirit is a person. It should be evident that the Spirit of God is the cognitive function and power of God. Since all expression of what God is, is expression of His power and cognitive function, God is actually seen in scripture as Spirit. Jesus said God is Spirit and we must worship Him in spirit and truth. It is through God's Spirit that all things exist and continue to exist. God’s Spirit is a Spirit of life, wisdom, understanding, love, power and all attributes of righteous character. God has given of His Spirit to His Son commensurate with the position of authority that has been granted to Christ by the Father. God gives of His Spirit to humans at a level commensurate with our humanity.
It is by and through spirit that we have relationship with the Son and the Father and they have relationship with us. It is through spirit that relationship takes place. Humans have relationship with each other through expression of spirit as well. When we think and communicate thought to others we are expressing human spirit. All human behavior is an expression and manifestation of the spirit within man. All behavior of the Father and the Son, angels and all other supernatural beings are expressions and manifestations of their spirit. All Spirit ultimately proceeds from the Father. Spirit is what defines living things. Even animals have spirit, in so much that they have life and experience emotions and in some rudimentary ways even think.
Some believe looking at the Spirit of God in this manner makes the Spirit impersonal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Spirit is the very expression and manifestation of the personality of the Father and the Son. It is through their Spirit interacting with our human spirit that relationship with the Father and the Son is facilitated and maintained. The Spirit of the Father and the Son is very personal. Being personal, however, doesn’t make it one of three distinctions in a Trinitarian Godhead. The Spirit of God doesn’t have personality, it is personality. It is the very personality of God the Father. It emanates from the Father and fills the universe.
The Holy Spirit does not appear to be a person any more than the human spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and God graciously gives us of His Spirit thus facilitating righteous behavior as God's Spirit is totally righteous and that is why it is called holy. Because God’s Spirit is a Spirit of life it also imparts life including eternal life through Jesus. Nowhere, however, do we see in scripture any suggestion that the Holy Spirit is to be worshiped as God. This idea comes from postulating that the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity and therefore God. In one respect we do worship the Holy Spirit, when we worship the Father and the Son who have Holy Spirit. This, however, does not mean we are worshiping a person known as the Holy Spirit. We also can have Holy Spirit when God gives of His Spirit to us. Nowhere is there instruction in scripture to actually pray to the Holy Spirit as God. Just the reverse is true. The scriptures teach the Holy Spirit helps us in our communication with God. It really appears quite improbable that the Holy Spirit is a “person” in a Godhead distinct from other persons in such a Godhead.
I began this inquiry by looking for evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the Trinitarian concept of God is supported by the scriptures. As I wrote earlier in this series, if it can be demonstrated from the scriptures that the Trinitarian concept of God is correct, even though it is mystical and can’t be humanly understood, I will have no problem accepting it as truth. If, on the other hand, the Trinitarian concept cannot be shown to be true beyond reasonable doubt, I will have to consider a Non-Trinitarian concept of the Father, Son and Spirit provided it can be demonstrated to be valid beyond reasonable doubt. In my research to date I must conclude that the Trinitarian concept is not only not proven beyond reasonable doubt, it is very suspect in its formulation.
What I find particularly troubling in reading material published by Trinitarians is that in most cases they assume the Trinitarian position to be correct and then go on to pontificate on various theological perspectives based on such assumption. There is very little examination of the scriptures that pertain to this issue. Trinitarians write from the perspective that the Trinity is a done deal and seldom appear to question this position. Even in reading Trinitarian apologetics, I find the defense of Trinitarianism often superficial at best with little in-depth evaluation of the issued involved. Even erudite Trinitarian scholars such as Karl Barth and TF Torrance simply assume the validity of the Trinity and proceed to build complex theologies on what is believed to be an absolutely proven Trinitarian foundation
Having completed these essays to this point, I must say I have found greater evidence against the Trinitarian concept of God than evidence for it. There is no explicit teaching in scripture that God is a Trinity. Every implicit scriptural passage used to promote the Trinitarian construct can be explained in a non-Trinitarian manner. Most damaging to the Trinitarian construct are the dozens of scriptural passages that explicitly teach the Father is the one and only true God. How can the Trinitarian construct stand up to 1 Corinthians 8:6, 15:27-28, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Timothy 2:5, John 17:3 and John 20:17. All these passages, as well as many others, show the Father as the one and only true God and show the Son as a separate Being from the Father. These scriptural passages constitute virtual creedal statements as to who God is versus the Son. When you factor in how the Spirit can be easily seen as the mind and power of the Father by which the Father administers all things, it becomes very difficult to see any validity in the Trinitarian construct.
As stated above, I have examined the major scriptures that pertain to this issue. There are dozens of additional scriptures that bear on this subject and I will examine them as well and add to this series as time allows. In terms of my studies so far, it would appear that the one Supreme, Almighty God is the Father. The Spirit is His power and cognitive function. The Son is his chief agent through whom He does much of what He does. If this perspective of the Father, Son and Spirit is correct, what needs to be determined is whether the Son has existed eternally, was created in the distant past or was in the purpose of God from the beginning but first came into existence as the promised Messiah through His birth in the first century A. D. I will deal with these issues in the final installments in this series.
PART ELEVEN
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART ELEVEN
THE NATURE OF JESUS THE CHRIST:
As I have researched the various positions elucidated in this series, I began by trying to be equally objective toward all positions discussed. As my studies continued it became more and more apparent to me that the Trinitarian position failed to be scripturally supportable. My research, as reported in the first ten installments of this series, has demonstrated to my satisfaction that the Trinitarian concept of God is not validated by the Biblical Scriptures. Instead of God being a Trinity, I believe the scriptures clearly show the one and only God to be a single Being who is identified as the Father. I believe the scriptures clearly show the Holy Spirit to be the power and cognitive function of the one God. How do the scriptures define Jesus Christ? How are we to understand the nature of Jesus the Christ who is identified as the Son of the one God who is the Father?
In OT scripture, the one Supreme God is identified as Father within the context of being creator, redeemer, Savior and a Father to Israel. In the NT, God as Father is seen as the Father of a human Son named Jesus. The scriptures teach the Son is begotten by the Father. Being begotten implies a beginning. When did God become the Father of the Son named Jesus? Was it at some point in eternity past before the universe was created or was it 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Let’s begin by seeing how Jesus is definitively identified in scripture.
Matthew 16:13-17: 13. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Here Jesus is definitively identified as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Christ means anointed one. Jesus is identified as the anointed of God. Jesus affirms that what Peter said is the truth. Jesus knew who He was. He knew He had been born of a human mother and was therefore a son of man, a term used to identify Jesus many times in scripture. He also knew how His birth came about. He knew He was conceived (begotten) in His mother’s womb by the power of God. He knew He was born in Bethlehem and He knew His birth had brought to fulfillment a number of OT prophesies that promised a descendant of David would come to Israel to establish an everlasting Kingdom. He also knew from OT prophesies that He would have to die in order to become a Savior to Israel and ultimately to all of mankind.
It is evident from the way the disciples answered Jesus’ question that people had a variety of ideas as to who He was. The people recognized Jesus was a special person because of the miracles He performed and the authority with which He taught. By the answers the people gave, it is apparent they did not recognize Him as the fulfillment of the OT Messianic prophecies. Peter did understand who Jesus was. Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ (anointed one), the Son of the Living God. Jesus tells Peter it was His Father in heaven that revealed this to him.
Thus we see Jesus identified as the Christ, the Son of the living God. There is nothing explicit or implicit in Peter’s statement as to Jesus being God. Peter does not identify Jesus as God. He identifies Him as the Son of God and we see Jesus validates Peter’s statement. Jesus shows the God He is the Son of is His Father who at that very moment was residing in heaven while He, as the Son of the Father in heaven, was residing on earth. Peter’s statement corresponds well with what the angel tells Mary regarding the birth of Jesus and what the angel tells Joseph regarding Mary’s pregnancy.
Luke 1:35: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Matthew 1:20-21: An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
The angel tells Mary Holy Spirit (“the” is not in the Greek) will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. It is apparent Holy Spirit and power is one and the same thing. The “Most High” must be God the Father. So we see the power of the Most High God begetting the human Jesus in Mary’s womb. The one to be born is called “the holy one.” If you consult Hebrew and Greek lexicons and English dictionaries as to what holy means, the general concept that comes across is that to be holy is to be separate. When you see how the word holy appears in context in the numerous scriptures where it is found, it often gives the strong impression of something or someone that is separate from the ordinary or something dedicated to such separation.
Jesus was certainly separate from the ordinary. The Most High God was His Father. No other human had ever been directly conceived (begotten) in the womb of a human mother by the power of God. In scripture, angels and humans are referred to as sons of God. Jesus was a unique Son of God by virtue of the manner in which He came to be. There is no record of angels or other humans coming into existence in the manner Jesus did. As discussed earlier in this series, the English “begotten” is translated from the Greek monogenes were the word mono means only and genes means to be born or begotten or, as more recent scholarship has identified, genes can mean kind, type or unique. If monogenes is understood in this manner, Jesus is a one of a kind, unique Son of God.
Mary is told to name the Son born to her Jesus because He will save His people from their sins. Jesus is the English translation of the Greek Iesous which is the transliteration of the Hebrew Yashua. Yashua means "YHWH is salvation. Yashua in English is translated as Joshua. Because Jesus means “YHWH is salvation” some have concluded Jesus is YHWH. Yashua, however, is a common Hebrew name found twenty-nine times in the OT as the name of various individuals including Joshua who led Israel into the Promised Land. The scriptures show that salvation comes from YHWH and is facilitated by the Son. When Simeon held the child Jesus in his arms he said:
Luke 2:28-32: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
Simeon addresses the Sovereign Lord (YHWH) and acknowledges that in Jesus is represented the Salvation of the Sovereign Lord. This does not make Yashua (Jesus) YHWH any more than the name Yashua when applied to dozens of others in scripture makes them YHWH.
There is nothing in any of the passages cited above that tells us Jesus is God. Jesus is seen to be the Son of God. Was Jesus someone else before becoming Jesus? Did the Son of God exist before becoming Jesus? Was the baby born to Mary a pre-existing distinction of a Triune God who became incarnated in the human Jesus and therefore was God in the flesh having two natures? My conclusions as to the Trinity have already been delineated.
Oneness theologians believe the one Unitarian God became the Son and therefore became God in the flesh with two natures? Position B Non-Trinitarians believe the Son to be the anciently created chief agent of a Unitarian God called YHWH and this Son gave up His exalted position to become a completely human agent of His Father YHWH. Some believe it was the archangel Michael who left his position of power to become Jesus. Those who advocate the “Family of God” concept believe the Son eternally existed with the Father as a separate but lesser God Being in a Binitarian relationship but willingly gave up His position to become the human Jesus. Position A Non-Trinitarians believe Jesus became the Son of God at His human birth having had no pre-existence other than in the purpose of the one Unitarian God.
As stated above, I believe the scriptures firmly establish there is one God who is the Father. Jesus affirmed the monotheism of Israel in Mark 12:29-34 by giving affirmation to the Shema which speaks of there being only one God. He affirmed this one God is the Father in John 5:44 and 17:3. In John 20:17, Jesus affirms that this God is His God and Father. These are all straightforward statements by Jesus identifying God as being above all else including Himself. Jesus gives no hint in these statements that He too is God. Jesus plainly says in John 17:3 the Father is the only true God.
Paul makes similar affirmations. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul declares there is but one God who is the Father and he distinguishes between this one God and Jesus. He does the same in Ephesians 4:4-6. In 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul makes this distinction even more emphatic when he says there is one God and one mediator between God and men and that mediator is the man Christ Jesus. Paul repeatedly in his writings speaks of God as the God and Father of Jesus. Paul shows Jesus to be subservient to the one God in I Corinthians 15:27-28 where it is clearly shown that Christ in His glorified state is subordinate to God.
All of the above are virtual creedal statements as to who God is versus who Jesus Christ is. There is no hint in these statements of Jesus being equal with God as the forth and fifth century Creeds proclaim. Luke and Matthew show the conception of Jesus resulting from the power of God and because of this Divine conception, Luke says the holy one that will be born will be called the Son of God. Jesus is to be called the Son of God because He is conceived by God and therefore God becomes His Father. There is nothing here to suggest the Son already existed as God and was somehow incarnated into the human Jesus. If the Son already existed and was God as God is God as the Creeds proclaim, then Jesus was God as God is God and His statements that the Father is the only true God are false and Paul’s statements about there being only one God who is the Father are also false.
If the Son is saying the Father is the only true God and refers to this God as His God and says this God is greater than He is and shows throughout His ministry He is subservient to this God and shows this subservient status to continue after His ascension, I will have to believe He is not this same God. To conclude the Son is in a in a single substance, one Being, equal relationship with the Father and the Spirit, is simply not what the scriptures show to be the case.
As discussed earlier in this series, the Greek word gennao is used to identify how Jesus is to be generated. This word means to become the Father of and is associated with being begotten and implies a definite beginning. In Matthew 1:20, the angel tells Joseph that what is begotten (gennao) in Mary is of the Holy Spirit. Luke shows what is begotten will be called the Son of God. Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 uses gennao to say the Son was begotten by the Father. All these scriptures indicate a beginning for the Son and that beginning is related to the conception of the Son, in the womb of Mary 2000 years ago.
Nowhere do the scriptures definitively teach that the birth of Jesus came about as a result of incarnation where a pre-existing distinction of a Triune God or a Divinity of any kind became incorporated into human flesh resulting in the creation of a “God-man.” In view of the overall evidence examined in this series, it appears much more reasonable to conclude that the Word in John chapter one is the cognitive purpose of God the Father personified in the birth of the man Jesus in Bethlehem. The birth narrative in Mathew 1:18 shows the impregnation of Mary as the beginning of Jesus’ existence.
Matthew 1:18: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting that the Greek word translated into the English word birth in modern translations is found in the oldest Greek Manuscripts to be the Greek word genesis which can mean birth but can also mean creation, beginning and origination. In later manuscripts, the Greek word gennesis was substituted by copyists. Gennesis is only associated with being begotten or born. Some scholars believe that copyists substituted gennesis for genesis to hide the idea that the origination of Jesus was at the time of His human birth which would mean He did not pre-exist. It is interesting that Matthew uses genesis at the start of his Gospel when he writes, “The book of the generation (Greek genesis) of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (KJV). See Bart Ehrman's, The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture for an in-depth discussion of this issue.
If the Son had His beginning in the womb of Mary, He did not pre-exist as the Son. If He did not pre-exist as the Son, did He preexist as some other Being and it is this Being that became the Son as a result of the Father facilitating begettal of the Son in the womb of Mary? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the archangel Michael became Jesus. They conclude this based on associations between Jesus and Michael found in scripture. Let’s look at these associations presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
1 Thessalonians 4:16: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Michael is not mentioned in this passage. Paul doesn’t identify any particular archangel. Paul speaks of the voice of the archangel. No definition is provided as to what that means.
Daniel 12:1: At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered.
This is the main scripture used to promote Michael as Christ. This passage is seen to parallel statements made in the Olivet Discourse as to conditions extant at the return of Christ. Therefore Michael and Christ are seen to be one and the same. The problem with this perspective is that there is no direct reference to Michael being Christ in all of scripture. While inference that Michael and Christ are one and the same can be made based on the association between Daniel’s statement and statements in the Olivet Discourse, such inference falls short of establishing Michael as Christ. Michael may be involved in the events described in Daniel as a totally separate participant from Christ. Daniel may be using Michael to represent Christ. There just isn’t enough information here to establish Michael as Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to several scriptures in the Revelation as supportive of their position but these scriptures are even more inconclusive and I will not spend time discussing them.
Oneness theologians believe the Father became the Son which would mean the Father added human nature to His Divine nature. Therefore the Son, while not pre-existing as a Son distinct from the Father in past eternity, nevertheless was/is Divine because of the Father's nature being incorporated into the Son and therefore the Son is seen as God and man.
Oneness theologians use many of the same scriptures Trinitarians use to show Jesus is God. We have examined most of these scriptures in this series and found them to be inconclusive as to proving Jesus is God as God is God. Oneness theologians see Jesus as God and yet are rightly convinced that God is one single Being and not a Trinity or Binitarian God. This has led them to conclude the one God became the Son. This perspective, however, is based on the conclusion that the Son is shown to be God as God is God, a perspective that has been shown to be problematical throughout this series. Furthermore, the idea that the Father became the Son is almost as mysterious as the Trinitarian doctrine of the Father and the Son being one along with the Spirit. This position necessitates God dying. God can't die. God is eternal and immortal by nature.
Position B Non Trinitarians see the Son as being created before the universe was created and therefore God became the Father of the Son at some point in eternity past. The problem with this position is that the scriptures indicate God became the Father of Jesus at the time of His human begettal in the womb of Mary as discussed above. If this is indeed the case, the Son did not become begotten in eternity past but around 2000 years ago.
Position A Non Trinitarians believe Jesus existed in the purpose of the Father and that purpose became personified in the physical birth of the human Jesus. When John speaks of the word becoming flesh, it is believed it is the expressed purpose of the One God becoming manifested in the flesh as the man Jesus. This is seen as fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies that speak of a coming deliverer who would be a descendant of David and in whom the Kingdom would be established forever. Scripture shows this purpose to have been with God from the beginning. This perspective sees the Son of God as being completely human and not in anyway Divine. Upon completion of His earthly mission, however, Jesus is seen as becoming virtually Divine as the chief agent of God the Father.
There are a number of scriptures which strongly point to Jesus, as the Son of God, being only human and therefore totally dependent on God the Father for His ability to fulfill His Fathers will as the anointed one to bring salvation to mankind.
Hebrews 5:7-8: Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.
When the author of Hebrews wrote this, it was some years after Jesus had left the flesh and ascended to be with the Father. Yet while Jesus was in the flesh, He is seen as having to work hard at maintaining the necessary ability to remain sinless and to actually learn obedience. This is not a picture of an inherently Divine Being. The scriptures consistently show Jesus to have been dependent on His Father for all He did. Some will argue that the fleshly part of the Son was dependent on the Godly part of the Son that was incarnate in the dueled natured Jesus. Jesus, however, is consistently shown as praying to His Father in heaven and addressing God as His Father in heaven, not some alter ego of his own self.
As already pointed out, If Jesus is God as God is God; it makes no sense for Him to be addressing God as His God. He not only does this during His fleshly existence but also after leaving His fleshly existence to be with the Father. We see Jesus after His resurrection and later in His Revelation to John still referring to God as His God and Father no different than He did when He walked the earth before His crucifixion and resurrection.
John 20:17: Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, `I am returning (Ascending in most translations) to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Revelation 1:4-6: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God (Theos) and Father.
If the Son first became the Son at the time of the birth of Jesus, what about scriptures that appear to plainly say Jesus had a pre-existence with the Father? In this series of essays, we have addressed dozens of scriptural passages that on the surface indicate pre-existence of the Son. Upon close examination, however, we found these passage to be inconclusive in establishing pre-existence of the Son as these passage can be understood in other ways. Consequently, there is not a preponderance of evidence to establish the Son existed prior to His human birth. Is their a preponderance of evidence to establish that the Son first became the Son at the birth of Jesus? What about scriptures that appear to provide a straightforward indication that Jesus existed prior to His human birth?
John 17:4-5: I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world (Greek kosmos) began.
John 17:24: Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
These statements by Jesus appear to clearly indicate He had glory with the Father and was loved by the Father before the world began. While these statements don’t say anything about Jesus being God, they appear to indicate He pre-existed.
Some theologians, in writing on John 17, believe Jesus is speaking of things that were in the purpose of the Father from the beginning and seen as accomplished from the beginning even though such things had not yet been accomplished in actual fact. It is pointed out that the scriptural writers often speak proleptically. Proleptic language speaks of things as already existing though they have not yet come to actually exist. Paul said to the Roman Christians that God “calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).
The scriptures speak of Jesus being crucified from the foundation of the world even though He wasn’t actually crucified until the first century A.D. (Revelation 13:8) Paul speaks of the grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2 Timothy 1:9). This grace was not made effective, however, until the Christ event actually occurred. Jesus speaks of the Kingdom having been prepared for us since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34). The Kingdom wasn’t actually available to enter into until the Christ event. Paul told the Ephesian Christians that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4). This didn’t come to fruition until the first century.
A review of the NT scriptures shows the sacrifice of Christ, salvation, establishment of the Kingdom and other events were in the purpose of God from early on but first became manifest in the first century in and through Christ who, Himself, was in the purpose of God and became manifest in the first century as the begotten Son of God. Paul, in addressing Christians of His day, says in Ephesians 2:6, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Christians were proleptically seated in heavenly places. This is anticipatory language which is found throughout scripture. Some feel Christ uses this kind of rhetorical mechanism when He says things that appear to show a pre-existence but in actuality is showing what was in the purpose of God from the beginning which included the existence of the Son and the glory which would be afforded to the Son.
Anglican Bishop Samuel Parker (1640-1687) wrote in 1667, “It was a proverbial form of speech among the Jews to express matters of great moment, resolved upon only in the divine decree, as they were really existing. Thus they say that the Messiah is more ancient than the sun and the Mosaic order older than the world, not as if they understood them really as such, but only to express their absolute usefulness and necessity…The glory which Jesus prayed for in John 17:5…was that honor with which God had from eternity designed to dignify the Messiah.”
Proleptic language appears to have been common among the Jews and it is believed proleptic language was also used by Jesus, including His various statements about coming down from heaven and going to heaven.
John 3:13: No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.
John 6:62: What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
In both these scriptures Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man, the same designation He uses consistently in speaking of His impending crucifixion as seen in Mark 8:31, 9:12 & 13, 14:21 and Matthew 26:24. Since “Son of Man” refers to Jesus’ humanity, in what respect is the human Jesus to be seen ascending and descending heaven? Here again, it is felt Jesus is using proleptic language. In Daniel’s vision, Daniel sees someone like a son of man come before the Father to receive a Kingdom.
Daniel 7:13-14: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
This is a vision of the human Jesus ascending to the Father to receive authority, glory, sovereign power, everlasting dominion and a Kingdom that will not be destroyed. Here is the climax to the Christ event. Jesus was born a human son of man through Mary that resulted from Divine begettal making Him also a directly conceived Son of God. He grew in wisdom and knowledge (Luke 2:52), came to realize He was a unique Son of God fulfilling the Messiah promises, demonstrated His Messiahship through signs and wonders, was crucified and resurrected to fulfill God’s purpose and then ascended to the Father to receive what Daniel sees in vision.
Jesus came from heaven as a directly begotten of God human. He ascended to the Father after completing His earthly mission and received what Daniel saw in vision. This was all in the purpose and plan of God from the beginning and seen to be already accomplished even though it didn’t become accomplished until the actual birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Some theologians believe Christ is thinking and speaking in accomplishment terminology common to the Jews of His day when He speaks of being in heaven and going to heaven.
It is interesting that the scriptures don’t speak of Jesus returning to the Father but of ascending to the Father. The NIV translation incorrectly uses the English “return” in place of “ascend” in their rendition of John 20:17 where Jesus asked not to be touched because He has not yet ascended to the Father. Most translations use the English “ascend” which is the correct translation of the Greek anaaino which means to go upward. There is nothing in the meaning of this Greek word that suggests returning to where you were before. The word simply means to go up and is used in this manner some eighty-one times in the NT narrative.
The NIV translation tends to give the impression that Jesus was returning to the Father in their rendition of John 13:3 where they wrongly translate the Greek hupago as “returning.”
John 13:3: Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come (Greek: exerkomai, which means to come forth or proceed) from God and was returning (Greek hupago) to God.
The Greek hupago does not mean to return to somewhere you were before but means to withdraw oneself, depart or simply to go somewhere. The KJV translates it as “went.” The NKJV and RSV translate it as “going." Jesus had proceeded from the Father in so much that God directly facilitated His human birth. Now Jesus was about to depart from the world and go to be with His God and Father.
When I began this series, my expressed goal was to go where the evidence takes me as to the nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. My goal was to establish evidence beyond reasonable doubt as to how we are to understand the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As already discussed in this series, the evidence leads me to the conclusion that there is but One Eternally Existing Supreme God called the Father. The evidence shows the Son is not God as God is God but was directly begotten by this One God as the human man Jesus who is God’s Christ (the anointed one), the promised Messiah to Israel. The Holy Spirit is the cognitive function and power of the One God through which everything is sustained.
At first look, there appears to be scriptural evidence that the Son had a pre-existence. Upon careful examination of the scriptures that suggest this, not one of them provides conclusive evidence the Son pre-existed. All these scriptures can be understood in other ways. These scriptures do not provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the Son existed prior to His appearance as the man Jesus. What does appear to be conclusive and evidential beyond reasonable doubt is that Jesus was begotten in the womb of Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit of God and thus God became the Father of Jesus. Luke plainly says that because of this Divine begettal, Jesus is to be called the Son of God.
As we have seen throughout this series, being called the Son of God doesn’t make one God as God is God. Neither does it require Jesus to have existed as the Son or anyone else prior to His conception in the womb of Mary. Jesus saw Himself as a Son of God in the same sense as human sons of God in OT times who had been granted power and authority and had been sent by God to administer just government. Thus, Jesus distinguishes Himself as a Son of the Most High God, just as these human leaders whom God was addressing as “gods” were seen as sons of the Most High God. As discussed in installment five of this series, in Psalm 82, God (Elohim) is speaking to an assembly of gods (elohim) who are seen as appointed by Him to administer justice but have failed to do so. The second occurrence of elohim is followed by a plural predicate “you” thus signifying a plurality of Beings called “gods” who are being addressed.
Jesus, in John 10, identifies these “gods” as those to whom the word (logos) of God came. The word or speech of God is seen as given to these Beings called “gods”. The context of Psalm 82 shows these “gods” are of the human realm as human conditions such as weakness, being fatherless and needy and needing deliverance from the wicked is what God is discussing with these “gods.” This passage is referring to human leaders, in positions of rulership, power and authority, failing to properly fulfill their responsibilities. God tells them that, even though they have been granted powers of rulership, they will die like every other ruler, which shows their humanity. Jesus, in answering the accusations leveled against Him in John 10, is virtually comparing Himself to this type of god. He is saying that He too has been granted power and authority and has been sent by God. Thus, Jesus distinguishes Himself as a Son of the Most High God, just as these human leaders whom God was addressing as “gods” were seen as sons of the Most High God.
While it is true that Jesus was a unique Son of God because of His direct begettal by the Spirit of God, nowhere do the scriptures show this unique status to mean Jesus is God the Son. The phrase God the Son is not found in scripture. It is always the Son of God.
In installment two of this series we discussed Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:34-36 where Jesus is seen as lord (adoni) as opposed to Lord (Adonai). Adonai is equivalent to YHWH in meaning and is always found to designate the Most High God whose name is YHWH. Adoni is always associated with a non-deity in OT scripture. Peter, in Acts 2:34-36, confirms that Psalm 110:1 is speaking of Christ. Since Christ is designated as adoni in Psalm 110:1 and adoni does not refer to Deity, we have clear revelation that Christ is not God as God is God but is an agent of the Most High God just as those described in Psalm 82.
It is apparent when reading through the scriptures, Jesus was a human like any one of us with the major exception that He was directly begotten by God as opposed to being begotten in the normal way. The scriptures clearly show Jesus was begotten by God. The Greek word gennao is associated with the birth of Jesus in the scriptures. This word means to become the Father of and is associated with conception and being born. Gennao implies a definite beginning and that beginning is seen to be the conception that began in the womb of Mary. The writer to the Hebrews uses gennao to say God became the Father of Jesus as a result of Jesus' human begettal. All this strongly indicates the begettal of Jesus, and therefore His beginning, took place at the time God generated a pregnancy in Mary some 2000 years ago.
As discussed above, Jesus is seen in the NT narrative as completely dependent on the Father for having the spiritual wherewithal to fulfill his mission. We get the sense that Jesus prayed to His Father often for the strength to succeed as we saw in Hebrews 5:7-8. Jesus prayed all night before He chose His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12). He arose early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35). He prayed for hours before His crucifixion. He explored with God the possibility of having His pending ordeal mitigated. All this indicates that Jesus was not God in the flesh but a totally human man, experiencing purely human emotions and feelings and totally dependent on His heavenly Father. The recorded behavior of Jesus clearly suggests He was totally human having one nature.
If Jesus was God in the flesh, where is the evidence that He was? We see Jesus in total reliance on God the Father for all He did, including the miracles He performed. If Jesus is to be looked upon as having Divine nature at all, it would have to be in the same sense that we can experience the Divine nature through the presence of God’s Spirit within us as discussed in 1 Peter, chapter one. Having the Divine nature doesn’t mean we are God as God is God but that we are in a close relationship with God and express His character.
Jesus was given a full measure of the Holy Spirit of His Father God. He maintained constant contact with His Father through prayer. Therefore, He had a relationship with God that no other man has ever had. He could rightfully say He and the Father were one. Jesus totally expressed the character of God the Father. He was an exact image of what the Father is like. They were one in purpose and after Jesus accomplished God’s purpose here on earth, He was elevated to the right hand of power and authority next to God Himself as clearly seen in Daniel’s vision. God rewarded Jesus with the glory that had been ordained for Him from the beginning. If Jesus was already God, having all the prerogatives of God, His receiving the glory seen by Daniel would be superfluous.
Some see, in Daniel's vision, Jesus being given back the glory He previously had with the Father. The problem with this perspective is that what Jesus is shown to be given is glory, power and authority as administrator of the Kingdom. Scripture shows the Kingdom to be established in conjunction with what Jesus accomplished as the promised Messiah to Israel. Scripture does not show a preexisting Son having a Kingdom in past eternity that He gave up to become the human Jesus. Jesus is seen as being exalted as a result of what He accomplished as the promised Messiah and not as having returned to a previously held position of power and glory.

PART TWELVE
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART TWELVE
THE TWO ADAMS:
The scriptures compare Jesus with the first Adam. The first Adam was directly created by God, placed in the Garden of Eden and given authority over the physical creation. This first Adam was created with human nature which became a sinful nature due to Adam’s failure to resist temptation. All humans have followed in the footsteps of the first Adam except one. As the second Adam, Jesus did not cave in to temptation but lived a sinless life and was thus able to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin that began with the first Adam. The scriptures clearly show that as sin came about as a result of the actions of the man Adam, salvation from the consequences of sin came about as the result of the actions of the man Jesus. The scriptures also clearly show that Jesus, as the second Adam, had the same human nature as the first Adam as He had to constantly strive to resist temptation.
Hebrews 2:17-18: For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
HHhhhhHHebrews 4:15: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
This passage of scripture plainly tells us that Jesus was made like other humans in every way and because of this He was able to be tempted like other humans. The Greek word translated “tempted” is pirazo and means to be tried, tested, proved or tempted. It is the same word used in the account of Satan tempting Jesus during His forty day fast after His baptism.
Apostle James writes that God cannot be tempted. Here the Greek word is apirastos. It appears in the passive tense which translates as "God cannot be tempted." Yet we see Jesus was tempted just like we are. We are tempted by evil. Jesus was tempted by evil. Satan, the personification of evil, tempted Jesus. Though Jesus was able to resist all temptation, it doesn't take away the fact that He was tempted.
James 1:13: When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted (apirastos) by evil, nor does he tempt (pirazo) anyone.
If Jesus is God, He could not be tempted. Yet Jesus was tempted. Trinitarians may argue that only the human side of Jesus was tempted. If Jesus was fully God while being fully human, was only His “human side” capable of yielding to temptation while His “God side” was not? Somehow this makes no sense at all and nowhere do we find such a teaching in scripture. If Jesus was fully God and fully human, then He wasn’t “made like His brothers in every way” as we humans are certainly not God and we are very capable of yielding to temptation resulting in sin. If Jesus was God in the flesh He would be incapable of committing sin. If Jesus wasn’t capable of sinning He wasn’t made like His brothers in every way. If Jesus was incapable of sin, then He didn’t truly share in our humanity as scripture indicates.
Paul speaks of the first Adam being a pattern of the one that was to come (Romans 5:14). The first Adam was born without sin and given opportunity to reign over creation. The first Adam had the ability to sin. This Adam yielded to temptation and consequently was banished from the garden and assigned to death. Like the first Adam, Jesus, the second Adam, was born without sin, but unlike the first Adam was able to resist temptation and not sin and was assigned to life and became the vehicle through whom death is replaced with life for all of mankind. Because of sin, the first Adam was limited to being a living human Being subject to eternal death. The last Adam, by not sinning, could not be held by death and was resurrected to life and became a life giving Spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:45: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
Romans 5:15-19: For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
It was through the disobedience of the man Adam that sin and death came about. It was through the obedience of the man Jesus (the second or last Adam) that sin and death is eliminated. Since God cannot be tempted or die, it should be plain that Jesus is not God. Jesus was tempted. Jesus died. Jesus was made to be like all other humans. There is not a hint in any of this that while Jesus was experiencing all this humanity He was also God incarnate. The first Adam was directly created by God. Jesus, as the second Adam, was directly created by God in the womb of Mary. In order for Jesus to be like Adam He had to be totally human. He had to be able to sin like Adam did and die like Adam died. Adam was not both human and Divine. Adam was totally human and so was Jesus.
It has been said that you can’t really know how someone else feels until you walk in their shoes. Jesus walked in our shoes. The shoes we walk in are 100% human shoes. For Jesus to truly experience humanity He needed to be totally human, not totally human and totally Divine. To postulate that Jesus had a dual nature of humanity and Divinity is to virtually devalue what Jesus accomplished.
God chose to facilitate the birth of Jesus to fulfill the Messianic promises. This is why God had Him named Jesus which means “YHWH saves” and why He was called the Christ which means anointed one. Jesus was the anointed human agent of God to carry out God’s purpose on planet earth. It is the Father from whom salvation comes. The Father has facilitated His salvation through Jesus. Apostle Peter’s quote of what Moses said, as recorded in Deuteronomy 18, is instructive as to who Jesus was.
Acts 3:22: For Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.”
In this same chapter of Acts, Peter identifies Jesus as God’s servant (verse 13 & 26), as God’s Christ (verse 18) and as the offspring of Abraham (verse 25). A careful reading of the scriptures will show they do not teach the Messiah was to be God in the flesh. The OT indicates the promised Messiah would be a ruler in the mold of Moses and David. This is what the Jews have always believed and believe unto this day.
Moses and David did not exist prior to their human birth. The Jews have never concluded from the Old Testament Scriptures that the Messiah would be a pre-existent Being. There great failure was that they did not recognize fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in the first century and most Jews fail to recognize such fulfillment to this very day.
Because of what Jesus accomplished as the human Son of God and because of His elevation to being the most powerful Being in the universe next to God, Jesus is worthy of the highest level of reverence next to God Himself. While Jesus is not in anyway co-equal, co-eternal or consubstantial with the One and Only Most High God, He is above all powers extant under the One and Only Most High God and is to be worshiped accordingly. Can Jesus be prayed too? Yes He can. Prayer is petitioning higher authority. Next to God, Jesus is the highest authority there is. Paul identifies Jesus as the mediator between God and man. Yes, Jesus can be prayed to along with the Father. The scriptural focus, however, is to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.
IS JESUS DIVINE?
Is Jesus Divine? The Greek word for divine is thios and is used three times in the NT. Peter uses this word twice in relation to the power and nature of God in 2 Peter 1:3-4. We know it is God the Father who is referenced by Peter because he speaks of Divinity in association with Him who has called us and we know from other scriptures that it is the Father who calls us. Paul uses thios in Acts 17:29 to show a Divine Being is not made of earthly materials. The context (verse 24-29) shows it is the Creator God who is designated as a Divine Being (NIV) and who is contrasted with the man made gods of the Greeks. The Creator God (Divine Being) is also contrasted with Jesus as we see in verse 31 Paul speaks of God, the Divine Being just alluded to, as judging the world through Jesus whom He has raised from the dead.
In scripture, Divinity is applied to the Father and Creator God in contrast to all other gods and even to Jesus. The scriptures do not identify Jesus with the Greek thios. Peter and Paul use thios to identify God the Father and God the Creator. The Greek thios implies a supernatural, someone who exceeds the bounds of being human. While Jesus did exceed the bounds of normal humanity as the Christ and in His glorified state is certainly supernatural, Jesus is not Divine as God the Father is Divine. This is the same as saying Jesus is not God as God is God, a conclusion already established in these essays. In Greek literature, thios is also use to define those in close association to the Divine (see Arndt, Gingrich and Bauer Greek Lexicon). In this respect Jesus can be looked upon as divine (small d) just as He can be looked upon as a god (small g). Words such as elohim, theos, kurios and thios do not intrinsically mean the One and Only true God as these words are applied to Beings of lesser status to whom power and authority have been granted. Therefore, I personally do not hesitate to relate to Jesus as divine and as a god as long as I maintain the understanding that He is not the One and Only Supreme Divinity, the Most High Creator God who is the God and Father of Jesus.
There is only one Supreme, Most High God who is a self-existent Being and is identified in scripture as Father and YHWH Elohim. All life comes from this self-existent Being including the life of Jesus. Jesus plainly said, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). The context in which this passage is found is dealing with eternal life. Apostle Paul writes to Timothy that only God has immortality. The context of Paul’s letter shows Paul is distinguishing between Christ and God and showing that only God has innate immortality. All other immortality is granted immortality and comes from the One and Only God (1 Timothy 6:12-15).
Apostle Paul also makes it very clear that God, the Father, is the God of Jesus, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Ephesians 1:17). I again ask how the Father can be the God of Jesus and Jesus be that God.
Trinitarians insist the word of God is God the Son and it is the Son as the word of God who is the person of the Godhead that created all things. The scriptures, however, show the word of God (YHWH) equates with His breath, thus showing it was by what came out of His month that creation took place. Trinitarians respond by claiming YHWH is the Son and it is by His breath creation took place. We have shown in this series that YHWH is not the Son but is the Father and it is through the breath of the Father that creation occurred.
Psalm 33:6: By the word of the LORD (YHWH) were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
Paul shows it is the one and only eternal and wise God who establishes us through the gospel of Christ so that He, the eternal and wise God, can be glorified through Christ. Paul directs focus on God who is to be glorified through the Son. Paul contrasts the only wise God with Jesus Christ. This fits well with the words of Jesus who said He had come to reveal the Father. Throughout the scriptures,Jesus is seem as constantly directing attention to the Father whom He plainly said was greater than He.
In Romans 16:25-27: Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him-- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Some may argue that God is the God of Jesus in the person of the Father who is God as the Son and Spirit is God. All three persons of the “Godhead” are seen as relating to each other as God. Therefore, it is believed Jesus refers to God as His God within the relational oneness that is God. This argument, however, assumes God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit. The scriptures nowhere speak of God the Son or God the Spirit. They only speak of God the Father. The few scriptures where the Greek Theos is associated with Jesus, the context suggests nothing about Jesus being part of a Triune God. These scriptures can easily be seen to identify Jesus as a god (small g) in the sense of having been given great power and authority by the one and only Divine God of the universe.
Trinitarians and some Non-Trinitarians believe a pre-existing Son of God, having innate eternal life, is the one who became the man Jesus. Actually it’s the other way around. The man Jesus, through begettal in the womb of Mary by the Spirit of the One and Only life giving Eternal God, became the Son. This Son was given life by His Father. If Jesus was God as God is God, He would already have eternal life and would not need to have it granted by the Father.
Some Trinitarians, who recognize the contradiction inherent in the concept of eternal begettal, believe begettal, as used in reference to Christ, has nothing to do with His eternal existence as the Son but pertains only to His human conception as the man Jesus. Therefore, all references to God are to be seen through the eyes of the human Jesus and not through His Divine eyes. When Jesus speaks of the Father as the only true God, He is doing so from His human perspective. David’s reference to Jesus as adoni, signifying a non-deity, is seen as a reference to Jesus’ humanity. Jesus identifying Himself with the human elohim of Psalm 82 is Jesus referring to his humanity. It is believed that all the scriptures showing Jesus to be subservient to the Father are to be viewed in terms of His human relationship with God. These are all statements describing how Jesus relates to God as a human. Even after His resurrection and ascension, it is believed that Jesus maintains his dual nature of Divinity and humanity and is therefore able to act as a mediator between God and man. The Son’s Divinity and incarnation is believed to be identified in the “pre-existence” statements found in the Gospel of John and in some of Paul’s letters and therefore Jesus is seen as both Human and Divine.
This approach is highly problematical. For Jesus to have taught the Father is the only true God (John 17:3 & 5:44) while knowing He too is the true God is an obvious oxymoron. Paul clearly shows Christ to be subservient to God in His glorified state as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:27-28. In scriptural passages where Christ is seen in a glorified state, He continues to relate to God as His God (Revelation1:7). In Revelation, chapter one, Jesus is seen as having been dead but is now alive. Jesus plainly says, I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! (Revelation 1:18). In order to die, Jesus had to be mortal. Incarnational theology teaches Jesus was fully man and fully God which is to teach Jesus was fully mortal and fully immortal. This is an absolute contradiction.
The Son of God died. God resurrected His Son to eternal life. Jesus was the first born from the dead (Revelation 1:5). All other resurrections (Lazarus for example) were resurrections to mortal life. The resurrection of Jesus was to immortal life. Jesus moved from being mortal to being immortal. We see Jesus relating to God exactly the same way as a glorified immortal as He did as a human mortal. There is no justification in concluding the scriptures show the mortal Jesus viewed God through human eyes while all the time being the immortal God.
If Jesus was God in the flesh, there is no scriptural reason to believe His humanity overrode His Divinity and all his thinking was humanly driven and therefore His comments about the Father being the only true God and being greater than He are all comments that must be seen in His existence as a human and not His existence as God. As already stated in these essays, for Jesus to say His Father is greater than He from only a human perspective is superfluous as all humans would be naturally less great than God. Jesus was saying that even though He was the Son of His Father God, His Father God was superior to him. In the same manner, when Jesus said His Father was the one and only true God, He made a definitive statement as to who God is and not just a statement as to who God is from a human perspective.
PART THIRTEEN
IS GOD A TRINITY? PART THIRTEEN
DID JESUS PRE-EXIST AS A NON-DIVINE SON OF GOD?
I believe the material presented in this series provides evidence beyond reasonable doubt that God is not a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit and that Jesus did not pre-exist as the eternal Son of God. Some, who have come to this same conclusion, believe God created the Son and then proceeded to create the universe through this Son. Is there evidence that Jesus pre-existed as a created, non-Divine and non-eternal Son of God? We have looked at passages of scripture that can be interpreted in a way to suggest the Son of God existed before becoming Jesus. Those who hold to the position that Jesus pre-existed as a non Divine and non-eternal Being, generally conclude this Being divested Himself of the glory, power and authority with which He was created and was born as a totally mortal human person having only the limited power and authority the Father granted to Him as a human Son. Since, as a created Being, He was not eternal and did not possess inherent immortality, this is felt to remove the Trinitarian problem of an immortal Being divesting himself of immortality.
It is believed that in divesting Himself of His former glory, He placed Himself at risk of forever losing this former glory should He not be successful in His mission to become the sinless Savior of mankind. Since He was successful in completing His earthly mission, Jesus is seen as having restored to Him the glory He had before becoming a human.
This position is very problematical. Those who purpose that God created a pre-existent non-Divine Being called the Son who became the humanJesus, believe this pre-existent Being is the one through whom God created all things. We are being asked to believe God created a non Divine and, therefore, non- eternal Being through whom He facilitated creation. Yet in scripture we see it is through God’s word (logos) that the creation is facilitated. We have shown in this series that the scriptures identify the logos of God as His wisdom, knowledge and understanding, His very breath, His very speech. We have shown that the word of God is not an eternal Being called the Son or any other Being. The word of God is Gods cognitive function as expressed by and through the power of His Spirit. Therefore, the word of God is eternal as God is eternal. Obviously, God’s word has always been with Him as a dynamic of who He is.
This being the case, there is no reason to believe God created a non eternal Being through whom He created all things. God created all things through the power of His word which is eternal with God. To conclude God created all things through a created non-Divine and non-eternal Being is to conclude this Being is His word which is to return to the Trinitarian position that the word of God is the Son and is eternal. If this Being is eternal, He could not divest Himself of his eternity to become the mortal man Jesus who was able to die. Therefore, this position is an oxymoron.
THE NATURE OF THE WORD OF GOD:
What is the nature of the word (logos) of God? This is the critical question of this entire discussion. If the word of God is the Son of God, then obviously the Son has existed eternally with the Father as the Father could not exist without His word. If the word of God is not the Son, to postulate the Son was created at some point in eternity past and was the agent through whom God created all things is invalid as the scriptures plainly show God created all things by His word which by necessity is eternal with God. If the word of God is not the Son, the Son is not the agent whereby God created all things. If the word of God is not the Son, both the Athanasian and Arian positions are invalid. The only other position available is that the Son began His existence as the Christ, the anointed of God, nearly 2000 years ago in a small town called Bethlehem.
The phrase “word of God” (logos of God) occurs dozens of times in the NT narrative. By context this phrase is seen to express the words (speech) of God and does not in any way convey the idea the word of God is a person called the Son. In John 17:17, Jesus said His Father’s word (logos) is truth. In Luke 4:4, Jesus said, man should live by every word (logos) of God. There is nothing here to indicate Jesus was referring to Himself as the literal word of God in these passages. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul likens the word (logos) of God to being the sword of the Spirit. The writer to the Hebrews says something similar.
Ephesians 6:17: Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (logos) of God.
Hebrews 4:12: For the word (logos) of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Is the writer talking about the person of the Son of God when discussing the word of God? Is it the Son of God who is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword? Some believe that because John, in the Revelation, writes that the name of Christ is the Word of God, Jesus is the actual literal word of God. Is this the case?
Revelation 1:16: In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Revelation 19:13-15: He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word (logos) of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.
Paul, the writer to the Hebrews and John are using symbolic language to describe the word of God. This word is seen as coming out of the month of Christ. If Christ is this word, then how can it be seen as coming out of His month? In Revelation 1:2 John writes of testifying to the “word (logos) of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Here we see Jesus as distinct from the logos of God.
Revelation 1:1-2: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word (logos) of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Logos is consistently seen as the expression of the thought, will and purpose of God. Christ can certainly be looked upon as the word of God personified, as Jesus clearly represented the logos of God, His Father. This doesn’t mean the Son of God is the literal and actual spoken word of the Father. In the OT the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek logos appears hundreds of times in association with God and by context is seen to express the thought and will of God.
There simply is no scriptural reason to conclude the word of God is an eternally existing person called the Son or a created person called the Son. The word of God is the spoken expression of the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, purpose and overall will of God. Jesus Christ, as the humanly begotten Son of the One God, was the human agent through whom the Father’s word was perfectly expressed. This doesn’t make Jesus that word but the vehicle through whom such word is expressed. Jesus is the personification of the Father's word. One dictionary definition of personify is to be “the perfect example of something.” Another definition is “to perfectly represent something.” Jesus perfectly represented the word of his Father God. The scriptures symbolically picture the word of God as a sword. The scriptures picture the word of God as a sword coming out of the month of Jesus because Jesus represents the logos of God. Representing something, however, does not make you that something.
When the American Secretary of State travels abroad, she represents the President of the United States. She expresses his will in her dealings with other heads of state. She becomes the virtual mouth piece of the President. No one would conclude from this that she is the American President or that because she speaks for Him she is somhow an intrinsic part of him, that she is literally his speech.
It is through and by the word of God that all things were created, including the Son. Because of the Son's direct begettal by the Father, the Son became the human personification of His Father's word. The Father's word is not a literal person called the Son. The word of the Father is the expression of His attributes of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, will, purpose, light, truth, love and life. Jesus personifies these attributes. Jesus is not intrinsically these attributes. Only the one God, the Father, is intrinsically these attributes. These attributes define the very nature of the Father. Christ was a reflection of these attributes. Jesus mirrored these attributes of His Father. Jesus was the image of these attributes as scripture teaches. This is why Jesus could say, "If your have seen me you have seen the Father."
Being the image of the Father, however, does not equate with being the Father as Oneness Theologians teach. It doesn't mean Jesus was co-equal with God as Trinitarians teach. Jesus said His Father was greater than He. Jesus also made a very telltale statement which is recorded in three of the Gospels. I will quote it from Luke:
Luke 18: 18-10: A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
Jesus did not consider Himself good in the sense and to the extent that God is good. Jesus plainly said God alone is good. If Jesus was God in the flesh and knew He was God in the flesh, He could not have made such a statement. Even though Jesus never sinned, He did not consider Himself good compared to God. This statement clearly shows Jesus did not consider Himself God.
Scripture reveals God wants us to reflect His attributes. He has made His Spirit available to us to provide the necessary help to accomplish this. As we grow in grace and knowledge we become more and more a reflection of the nature of God as expressed by His word. This doesn't make us God. Luke writes that Jesus "continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40: NAS). If Jesus was the actual word of God in human form, why do we see Him growing in wisdom? He would already have complete wisdom as God. It should be obvious Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge like we all do with the major exception that He was given a full measure of God's Spirit from birth to facilitate such growth. Growing in wisdom didn't make Jesus God but resulted in Him representing the nature of God as expressed by God's wisdom, knowledge and understanding which are all intrinsically part of His word.
Jesus said He was the light of the world. Was He this light because He is God or because God was in Him and He therefore personified the light that is His Father God. In 1st John chapter one, John writes that God is light. He goes on to distinguish between the God who is light and His Son whom He sent.
1 John 1:5-7: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him (God) yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
John is saying that God is light and he distinguishes between God who is light and His Son Jesus. This same John, in the Gospel of John chapter one, writes of the true light coming into the world. He associates this light with Christ. He is not saying Christ is intrinsically this light and therefore God. He shows in his epistle that God is light in distinction from the Son He sent. John is seeing Christ as the personification of the light that is God. When Jesus said He was the truth and the life, He was expressing the truth and life that is from the Father. Jesus did not have intrinsic life. Jesus plainly said His life was given to Him by the Father.
John 5:26: For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
Jesus makes it plain that it is the Father who has intrinsic life. Other scriptures, as covered in this series, show that God alone has innate immortality. All life, both temporal and eternal, comes from the one God. This includes the temporal and eternal life granted to the Son of God who was the Christ, the prophesied anointed of God. Jesus said He came to reveal the life which is intrinsic to the Father and that is exactly what He did.
As to the matter of Christ's glory, the scriptures do not show Jesus being restored to glory but being exalted to glory as a result of successfully completing His earthly mission. The scriptures show Jesus being exalted to the right hand of God as a virtual reward for what He accomplished as Messiah. Jesus is described in scripture as a prophet like Moses and a descendant of David who was obedient to the will of God. While the scriptures show His birth was supernaturally facilitated, the scriptures also show He became the Son through this birth and not that He already was the Son. Luke and Matthew show the conception of Jesus resulting from the power of God and because of this Divine conception, Luke says the “holy one that will be born will be called the Son of God.” Jesus is to be called the Son of God because He is conceived by God and therefore God becomes His Father. This gives strong indication that Jesus became the Son at His human birth and did not pre-exist as the Son or any other Being.
We must be careful not to jump to the conclusion that when scripture speaks of God sending His Son into the world that this indicates a pre-existence for the Son. In John 1:6 it is recorded “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.” This doesn’t mean John pre-existed because God sent him. It was a common Hebrew and Aramaic idiom to say that something came down from God when God was the cause. Something or someone coming down from heaven is a common expression in scripture. This doesn’t mean a literal coming down but an identification of the cause or source of the thing coming down. Even though the NT was written in Greek, the thoughts and idioms are often Hebrew or Aramaic as this was the language spoken by the people.
The primary scriptures used to support a non-Divine pre-existence are Paul’s comments in his letter to the Philippians and several statements by Christ alluding to a former glory to which He was about to return to. We have examined these passages and found they can be interpreted in a way other than to suggest a pre-existence for Jesus. I believe a non-pre-existence interpretation is justified for these passages as I believe the overall scriptural evidence is much weightier in support of a non-pre-existence for the Son except for pre-existing in the purpose and plan of God.
Our discussion throughout this series has brought me to believe the evidence points to the conclusions delineated in these final installments in this series. As I wrote at the beginning of this series and reaffirmed throughout this series, I was going to go where the evidence led me. I believe the evidence leads to the conclusions expressed in these final installments.
I know the Trinitarian concept of God is entrenched in the Christian consciousness. I know my conclusions will appear radical to many. I know there are other Non-Trinitarian concepts as to the origin and nature of Jesus. I only ask that readers carefully study the material presented in this series before reacting to the conclusions I have drawn. If someone can effectively show the Trinitarian concept to be correct despite the many challenges to its validity, or can effectively show a different Non-Trinitarian view to have greater evidence than the one I am proposing, I will be more than happy to consider the evidence. I only ask that responses to what I have covered be constructive and evidence based and not just emotional reactions to what I have written.
This concludes this series of essays examining the issue of the Trinity and the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What follows are several addendum's that examine some of the teachings of Athanasius who is considered by some "the father" of Trinitarianism.
ADDENDUM #1
IS GOD A TRINITY?
ADDENDUM #1
The preceding twelve part series entitled, Is God a Trinity?, provided an overview of the dynamics associated with this issue and brought forth conclusions based on where the evidence appears to lead. In this and the following addendum's to this series, I will examine the writings of probably the most influential person associated with establishing and defending the Trinitarian doctrine. Athanasius, who became Bishop of Alexandria in A.D. 328, was a participant in the Council of Nicaea and is often held to be the “father” of Trinitarianism. He is best known for his defense of Trinitarianism against the teaching of Arius; a fourth century theologian who taught the Son of God was created by the Father and was not eternal as the Father is.

In this first addendum, we will begin to examine Athanasius’ Four Discourses Against The Arians which he wrote between 356 and 360. These Discourses are taken from Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 4. Each Discourse is divided into chapters and chapters are divided into numbered sections.

My purpose in this addendum will be to carefully examine the writings of Athanasius and determine the validity of his statements and conclusions with particular attention given to how he uses scripture to support his position. I will limit my examination of Athanasius’ material to issues I have already dealt with in the foregoing twelve part series and to such other material of his that I feel provides meaningful challenge to a non-Trinitarian perspective.

As was true in the twelve part series on the Trinity, I will present material from the resource material I am using in a matter of fact manner and than offer my own comments as necessary. Scriptural quotations used in my presentation of Athanasius’ writings will be as found in his writing, including his use of capitol letters at times. When quoting Athanasius directly, I will always use quotation marks and italicize such quotes to show they are the words of Athanasius. Scriptural references used in my personal comments on Athanasius’ writings will be taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.
DISCOURSE 1:
CHAPTERS ONE THROUGH FOUR:
Athanasius spends the first three chapters of this Discourse outlining his perspective of the Arian position and ridiculing those who take this position. He speaks of Arians as being non- Christian and irreligious. He writes of the “Arian madness” and calls Christians who follow the teachings of Arius “Ario-maniacs” and refers to Arian theology as “vomit.” In chapter four he refers to the Arians as “the enemies of God.” Athanasius associates the Arian teaching with the works of Satan and vehemently condemns Arianism as the rankest of heresies.
In chapter four, Athanasius continues his tirade against Arianism but begins to use scripture in support of his Trinitarian position. In section 11 he writes that “no scripture teaches that the Son was not eternal but always teaches that the Son is eternal and co-existent with the Father.” He quotes John 1:1 without elaboration and then recites a passage from Revelation, “Who is and who was and who is to come.” He then asks, “Now who can rob ‘who is and who was’ of eternity.” He is therefore associating the passage he quotes from the Revelation with the Son and believes it to show the Son is eternal.
He continues by referring to what Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:5. “Of whom as concerning the flesh is Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever.” The implication by Athanasius is that Paul is calling Christ God in this passage and therefore Christ is God as God is God. He goes on to quote Romans 1:20, “The visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead.” He then writes, “and what the Power of God is, he (Paul) teaches us elsewhere himself.” The “elsewhere” is then shown to be a reference to 1 Corinthians 1:24 where he quotes Paul as saying “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Athanasius then accuses the Arians of concluding that Paul, in Romans 1:20, is saying it is the Father whose power is being spoken of. Athanasius concludes Paul is writing that Christ is the eternal power of God that Paul speaks of in Romans 1:20. Athanasius believes that when Paul speaks of “His” eternal power, the “His” refers to God’s eternal power who is Christ. Athanasius believes 1 Corinthians 1:24 verifies this when Paul speaks of Christ being the power of God as well as the wisdom of God. Therefore Christ must be God as God is God since Christ is the very power and wisdom of God.
In section twelve of chapter four, Athanasius refers to the passage in Hebrews 1:3 about Jesus being the radiance of the Father’s glory and thus infers because He is the radiance of the Father He must be God as the Father is God. He goes on to use Psalm 144 as evidence the kingdom is a kingdom of all ages and infers this shows the Son to be eternal. He then speaks of the various statements of Jesus where he says, I am truth, I am light, I am the good shepherd, etc. Athanasius points out that Jesus does not say He became these things but that He is these things. He then concludes that “in the phrase ‘I, am,’ is signified that the Son is eternal and without beginning.”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: It is disturbing how much invective Athanasius directs toward the Arians. To disagree is one thing, but to berate those you disagree with to the extent Athanasius does with the kind of language he uses is not exactly a reflection of Christian ethics. He does this not only in the Discourses under consideration but throughout his writings. While it is true that Christ berated the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy, it must be remembered these religious leaders were out to kill Christ and were continually in His face about just about everything He did. The circumstances don’t appear to be quite as dire between Athanasius and the Arians and yet Athanasius attacks them relentlessly with vicious rhetoric.
Since Athanasius does not elaborate on his quote of John 1:1, neither will I at this point. I refer the reader to my discussion of this passage in Part 4 of this series. The passage He recites from the Revelation is taken from Revelation 1:4. A careful examination of this passage will show that it is the Father who is being referred to as “Who is and who was and who is to come.” This phrase is not referring to the Son. See my discussion of this passage in Part 8 of this series. Athanasius did not do his homework on this passage.
Athanasius implies that Paul is referring to Christ as being God in Roman 9:5. The evidence is much stronger for seeing this passage as referring to the Father as the “God blessed forever.” See my in-depth discussion of this passage in Part 6 of this series.
Athanasius’ conclusion that Paul is speaking of Christ being the power of God and that this proves Christ is God is very problematical. An examination of the entire first chapter of Romans reveals Paul is primarily speaking of the Father and in fact draws distinction between God the Father and Jesus the Son when he says in verse seven, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice Paul does not say from God our Father and our God Jesus Christ. Throughout Paul’s writings, when speaking of both Jesus and the Father in the same context, Paul always speaks of the Father as God and Jesus as Lord. While some may equate God and Lord as being the same, many scriptures show this not to be the case. Here is one that is rather explicit:
1 Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Paul shows that Jesus, “through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead” Romans 1:4. Some Non-Trinitarians see this passage as showing Jesus becoming the Son of God through the resurrection as opposed to pre-existing as the Son.
I am puzzled by the quote of Romans 1:20 that Athanasius uses. I don’t know what text he was using but his quote does not match any English or Greek text I have reviewed. He quotes the text as “The visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen.” All texts I reviewed say “invisible things.” Invisible makes a lot more sense as Paul is showing how we can understand the invisible power and nature of God through the visible things He has made. Paul appears to be speaking of the qualities of God being seen in the things that God has made. The NIV brings this out as do many other translations.
Romans 1:20: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
There is no reason to conclude, as Athanasius does, that Paul is referring to Jesus Christ in speaking of the eternal power of God. At the very beginning of this chapter Paul speaks of the gospel of God as the gospel He (God the Father) promised regarding His Son.
Romans 1:1-3: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David.
It is the Father who has provided the gospel (good news) of the Son. As you read through Romans chapter one you find Paul often refers to God. When Paul’s references to God are seen in the overall context of this chapter, it becomes obvious that it is God the Father who is being referred to. It is the Father’s eternal power that verse twenty speaks of. This verse does not say “Christ, the eternal power of God.” Athanasius is making an unwarranted assumption that the power of God is Christ and therefore Christ is God. He then tries to back it up with the passage from 1 Corinthians where he concludes Paul is saying Christ is the actual power and wisdom of God and therefore is God as God is God.
1 Corinthians 1:23-24: But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
To conclude that Paul’s statement to the Corinthians about Christ being the power and wisdom of God shows that Christ is God is without merit. The context of 1 Corinthians chapter one is the message of the cross, seen as foolishness to some but in reality is power and wisdom to those who are called. Paul is not talking here about the nature of God’s power and wisdom being Christ but of how what Christ accomplished will benefit those who respond to the message. Paul is contrasting human wisdom with the wisdom that comes through knowing Jesus Christ. The knowledge of Christ becomes the power of salvation. This passage has nothing to do with identifying the actual innate power and wisdom of God as being Christ.
As elucidated earlier in this series, I believe the preponderance of scriptural evidence points to Jesus being the manifestation of the Father’s power and wisdom but not the source of that power and wisdom. The word (wisdom) of God became manifested in Jesus as Apostle John indicates in John 1:14. Upon completing his earthly mission He became the glorified Son of God the Father through His resurrection from the dead as Paul states in Romans 1:4. As the glorified Son of the Father He has been granted tremendous power and authority and He is therefore worthy of great worship. This does not, however, make Him co-eternal, co-equal and con-substantial with the Father as Athanasius and the creeds teach.
As to Athanasius’ reference to Hebrews 1:3, I refer the reader to my discussion of that passage in Part 1 of this series. His use of Psalm 144 has no bearing on the nature of God and Christ as it is a Psalm of David about God helping him defeat his enemies. There is nothing in this Psalm about the kingdom being of all ages. I don’t know what Athanasius was thinking here. As to his claim that the “I am” statements of Jesus signifies that He is eternal and without beginning, I refer the reader to my discussion of this issue in Part 8 of this series.
In reading through Athanasius’ Discourse material, I find it to be somewhat disjointed as he tends to move from one thought to another without there being any obvious relationship between the two thoughts. For example, in chapter four, section 13, he quotes John 14:28 as follows: "If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it come to pass, you may believe.” He then moves right into quoting Proverbs 8:23 which has to do with wisdom being brought forth before the earth was. There is no obvious connection between John 14:28 and Proverbs 8:23. Furthermore, he says nothing about his quote of Christ’s statement that “My Father is greater than I,” a statement that appears to negate the idea that the Father and Son are co-equal.
In this same section Athanasius quotes John 8:58, "Before Abraham was, I am," without elaboration. I must assume he is citing this passage to show Jesus is the "I am" of the OT and therefore is God. I again refer the reader to my discussion of the "I am" statements in part 8 of this series.
CHAPTER FIVE:
In chapter five section 14, Athanasius says, “the Father is the Origin of the Son and begat Him”. He goes on to imply that since the essence of the Father has always been, and the Son is generated from the essence of the Father, the Son must have always been. He thus supports the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. He goes on to say, “But if He is the Son, as the Father says, and the scriptures proclaim, and the Son is nothing else than what is generated from the Father; and what is generated from the Father is His Word, Wisdom and Radiance; what is to be said, but in maintaining ‘Once the Son was not,’ they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom and that the Light was once without radiance, and the fountain was once barren and dry.”
Athanasius is saying the Arians are virtually robbing God of His Word, Wisdom and Radiance by saying there was a time when the son did not exist. Since Athanasius believes the Word, Wisdom and Radiance of God is the Son, the Son had to always exist as a dynamic of what God is. Here Athanasius is assuming the thing to be proved. In section 15, Athanasius writes, “when the Father says, ‘This is My Beloved Son,’ and the Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not external, but from the essence of the Father.” Athanasius is saying that Jesus is participating in the essence of the Father and therefore must be God as the Father is God because of this participation and shared essence.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: It appears Athanasius believes since the Son is begotten of the Father, the Son must share the Father’s essence and by sharing the Father’s essence the Son must be as the Father is God in all things short of being the Father. The idea that the Son must be of the Father’s essence is largely based on the proposition that the Word of God the Father (His thought, wisdom etc.) is the Son. The Word is believed to have existed eternally as the Son and therefore is of the very essence of the Father. It is believed this Word/Wisdom (essence of the Father) took on humanity as the man Jesus, who because of His human birth, took on human essence while at the same time retaining his God essence,
As discussed earlier in this series, the Son is believed to be a hypostasis of the single essence or substance that is the one God. Hypostasis is defined several different ways in the Greek. In one way, a person is seen as having attributes such as size, color, weight, wisdom, knowledge etc. These attributes are said to not exist independently from the person but are in the person in so much that they give definition to the person. The person itself, however, does not exist in something else but exists by itself. Therefore the person is seen as separate from their attributes. It is this separate self that would be the Greek hypostasis. Hypo means under and stasis means that which is permanent. Hypostasis is sometimes defined as “ground of being.” Seen in this manner, hypostasis is identical with the idea of essence or substance and God would be seen as a single substance, ground of being or hypostasis with His attributes a manifestation of His ground of being.
Under this usage of hypostasis, to say the Son is a hypostasis of the one God is problematical as you are virtually saying the Son is a hypostasis of the hypostasis. To say the Son is the Word (Wisdom) of God is to give an attribute of God the status of hypostasis or its own ground of being. Two grounds of being would be two separate entities which would negate the concept of a single essence called God. This approach virtually results in there being two Gods and a third God if you are going to say the Spirit is a hypostasis of the one God as well.
The Greeks also used hypostasis to define a single person (Greek prosopon) having various attributes by which that person was manifested. In this usage, hypostasis included a persons attributes as his substance or ground of being. In such usage, attributes such as wisdom, knowledge, understanding, all attributes expressed by word or speech, are all included in the one hypostasis or ground of being. Under this usage, the logos of God is an attribute that makes up God's hypostasis and could not be a separate hypostasis of the one God.
As already discussed in Part 4 of this series, the basic meaning of logos means “to speak.” This Greek word pertains to the thought, will and purpose of someone. It can also mean wisdom, reason and mind. The logos of God the Father has always existed as the cognitive function of God the Father. Therefore, the logos of God is eternal because God the Father is eternal. When Apostle John writes of the logos being made flesh, we shouldn't assume this word/speech has eternally existed as a person named the Son who has now taken on humanity. Our discussion of hypostasis reveals that the logos of God could very well be an attribute of His hypostasis, not a separate person called the Son.
A much more natural approach is to conclude the Son was generated as a result of the Father exercising His logos (thought, wisdom, purpose etc.) in order to fulfill His promise to send a Savior (Romans 1:1-3). At the human level we exercise logos all the time in creating physical things. Why should we insist that God could not have exercised logos to generate the human Son Jesus? Why should we insist the logos of God pre-existed as the Son and it was this pre-existent Son who became Jesus?
As already covered extensively in this series, scriptural phraseology points to the Son being in the purpose of the Father from the beginning and when the time was right this purpose was facilitated in the human birth of this Son who was named Jesus and was the prophesied anointed one. If we are to understand the essence of the Father being his substance, there is nothing in scripture that says Jesus was or had to be of that same substance. In reality, Jesus the Son was of human substance. He was born a human, lived as a human and died as a human. Because Mary was supernaturally impregnated doesn’t necessarily mean the Father’s substance was transferred to Jesus and that He was born a God man.
Some may argue that because the Father facilitated the impregnation of Mary, He passed His Divine substance to Jesus and therefore Jesus was of Divine substance in addition to the human substance obtained from Mary. The scriptures, however, do not show that because Mary was impregnated by the power of God, this impregnation passed on "Divine Genes" to Jesus and He became a hybrid. The scriptures show Jesus being born a human like any other human and exhibiting human behavior like any other human. The writer to the Hebrews points out Jesus was tempted and tried in every way as we all are tempted and tried.
There is only one area where Jesus was not your ordinary human. Jesus was endowed with a much higher level of Divine power from God than is true of any other human who has ever lived. This enabled Him to live a sinless life and do many great works. It was God's will that Jesus succeed in God's mission for Him and He was granted the tools to do just that.
Being endowed with Divine power does not equate with being Divine. The Apostles were endowed with Divine power as can be seen in the miracles they performed, including raising the dead. This did not make them God. Moses was endowed with Divine power when he brought the plagues upon Egypt, divided the Red Sea, and got water to gush out of a rock. Elijah was endowed with Divine power when he caused it not to rain and then caused it to rain again. This display of power did not make these men God. It was God's power working through them that enabled them to do what they did. They became agents of God's purpose. There is every scriptural reason to believe the same was true of Jesus.
God the Father directly begat Jesus and because of this direct begettal Jesus became His one and only directly begotten human Son. God empowered this one and only directly begotten human son to fulfill His will as the promised Messiah to Israel. Because of what this Son accomplished, we too can be spiritually begotten as sons of the Father.
I have quoted and discussed dozens of scriptures and scriptural passages in this series that virtually demand the conclusion that Jesus the Son is not co-equal with the Father as Trinitarianism teaches. No scripture teaches the Son is con-substantial with the Father. As discussed earlier in this series, the begettal language found in the NT signifies a beginning point for the existence of the Son and therefore negates the co-eternal conclusions of Trinitarianism. The scriptures nowhere teach the eternal begettal or generation of the Son as Trinitarianism teaches.
The primary issue we are dealing with in this entire examination of the nature of God is the question of how are we to understand the logos of God. If the logos of God can be shown to be the eternally existing Son, then Trinitarianism may have a case. If this cannot be shown, and we instead see the logos of God as His wisdom, understanding and general cognitive function manifested in and through what He does, then Trinitarianism becomes a mute point.
As discussed earlier in this series, the Greek word logos appears 330 times in the NT narrative. By context, it can be seen over and over again to refer to the expression of thought and speech. Only in John 1:1 and 1:14 is there any hint of logos pre-existing as its own hypostasis. We have previously discussed the different ways these two passages have been interpreted. If we are to conclude that logos in these two passages is the eternally existing Son, then we have to conclude that logos is being used here by John in a totally different manner than what is found throughout the NT narrative, including the rest of John’s writings. What justification is there for this complete departure from the way logos is used in the rest of the NT?
We briefly discussed earlier in this series how the phrase “and the word was with God” can be seen as God’s purpose, knowledge and wisdom being with God. Job 12:13 was referenced where Job speaks of God by saying, “With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.” We see wisdom and understanding personified in the OT. Personification is not attributing actual personhood to something. It is simply giving something personality in a figurative sense.
Proverbs 8:1: Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
Proverbs 8:27-31: I (wisdom) was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I (wisdom) was the craftsman at his side. I (wisdom) was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

Are we to believe that the wisdom and understanding spoken of here is actually a person called the Son who is part of a Trinitarian Godhead? When scripture tells us it is by wisdom, understanding and knowledge God creates, is there reason to believe this wisdom, understanding and knowledge expressed by God is actually a person called the Son who is a dynamic of a Triune God?

Proverbs 3:19-20: By wisdom the LORD (YHWH) laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
In the Apocrypha book of Wisdom is found a prayer of Solomon that speaks of God creating through His word.
Wisdom 9:1-4: God of my fathers, LORD (YHWH) of mercy. you who have made all things by your word And in your wisdom have established man to rule the creatures produced by you, To govern the world in holiness and justice, and to render judgment in integrity of heart: Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne.
Here the author reflects on God in His wisdom doing certain things and that wisdom is attendant at the very throne of God. Does this mean that wisdom is a person of a Godhead made up of Father, Son and Spirit? Are wisdom, understanding and knowledge attributes of God resident in a dynamic of a Triune God called the Son through whom God then facilitates all creation? Or are these attributes dynamics of the cognitive makeup of God just as they are attributes of the cognitive makeup of man only with God at an extremely higher level?
Job 12:13: To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
Psalm 104:24: How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Proverbs 2:6: For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Jeremiah 10:12: But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
In looking at these scriptures and others like them, we see nothing to suggest that God’s word, wisdom, understanding and knowledge are facilitated through a pre-existent dynamic of God called the Son. All these attributes appear as the direct expression of the cognitive function of God. It is by and through this expression that all creation has occurred including the creation of a Son in the womb of Mary who fulfilled God’s purpose to provide a Savior for mankind.
There is no doubt this Son was a unique and special person to whom God gave great power and authority. There is no doubt that upon completion of His earthly ministry; this Son was elevated to the highest level of glory, power and authority in the universe next to the God Himself. There is no doubt this Son is worthy of great worship. None of this, however, necessitates this Son having preexisted as the word/wisdom of God. The word of God became flesh in the same manner as the word of God becomes all else. The one God brings things into existence through His logos and his power. All things have been made by the logos of God as Apostle John writes. This includes the one who became flesh and dwelled among us.
ADDENDUM #2
IS GOD A TRINITY? ADDENDUM #2
DISCOURSE 1:
CHAPTER SIX: SECTION NINETEEN
In this addendum we will continue to examine Athanasius' first Discourse against Arianism.
In chapter six, section nineteen, Athanasius refers to Jeremiah 2:13 were God is quoted as saying, “they have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters.” He also quotes from the Apocrypha book of Baruch where God is quoted as saying, “Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom.” He goes on to say, “this implies that the life and wisdom are not foreign to the Essence of the Fountain, but are proper to it, nor were at any time without existence, but always were” (Use of capital letters is Athanasius’ as is the case in all quotes of his writing)
Athanasius goes on to say, “Now the Son is all this, who says, ‘I am the Life,’ and, “I Wisdom dwell with prudence.” His first statement is an apparent reference to John 14:6 where Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life.” His second statement appears to be a reference to Proverbs 8:12, "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion.”
Athanasius then goes on to question how the Arians can say there was a time when the Son did not exist, which he sees as being the same as saying there was a time when the “Fountain was dry, destitute of Life and Wisdom.” Athanasius is saying that not to conclude the Son is eternal with the Father is to conclude there was a time when the Father (the Fountain) was without Life and Wisdom which would be impossible.

Athanasius continues by saying, “God is the eternal Fountain of His proper Wisdom; and, if the Fountain be eternal, the wisdom must also needs be eternal.” He goes on to refer to several scriptures that show it is through wisdom God has made all things. He then associates this wisdom behind the making of all things with the Word of John 1:2 and concludes this Word is Christ. He then quotes 1 Corinthians 8:6: “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.” He than writes that, “if all things are through Him, He Himself is not to be reckoned with that ‘all.’ ” Athanasius concludes that Jesus must have existed before all things in order for all things to be through Him and He therefore must be the Word of the Father through whom the Father created.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius continues to assume the thing to be proved. He assumes the word, as the wisdom of the Father, is a person of a Triune Godhead called the Son. Therefore to say the Son has not eternally existed is, to Athanasius, the same as saying the wisdom of the Father has not eternally existed which is to virtually deprive God of His wisdom.
I certainly agree that the wisdom of God has always been with God. That goes without saying. God certainly can’t exist without His wisdom and be God. The scriptures clearly show God created through His wisdom, as well as his understanding and knowledge. Athanasius sees statements showing Christ to be the wisdom, truth, power and life of the Father as evidence that these attributes are co-eternal with the Father in the person of Jesus the Son. I agree these attributes are co-eternal with the Father but do not see where Athanasius proves these attributes are expressed as a person of a Triune God called the Son.
Jesus is truth, life, the way, power, wisdom, the good Shepherd and a number of other designations as the agent of the Father in facilitating reconciliation with the Father through His death and resurrection. In his role as Savior, Jesus personified attributes of the Father. Attributes of the Father were manifested in and through Jesus. This doesn’t make Jesus God as the Father is God. It doesn’t make Jesus co-equal, co-eternal and Con-substantial with the Father.
As already discussed in this series, the Father is seen as granting life to the Son. A co-eternal Son would not need life granted to Him. He would have it. Trinitarians argue that life is granted to the Son in the sense of the Son being eternally generated by the Father. The concept of eternal generation is not a scriptural concept. Even if the scriptures did teach this, it would still make the Son dependent on the Father for his existence which would negate the ideas that the Son is co-equal with the Father.
As already discussed in depth in this series, it is more scriptural to conclude the word of God is the wisdom, understanding and knowledge of God by which he creates. It is the expression of His thought and power that is seen throughout the universe. This thought and power has existed eternally. It has been with God eternally and in a very real sense is God as Apostle John writes. God is His word and power. God’s word and power are expressed in the generation of all that is. Jesus is also an expression of this thought and power. This doesn’t mean this thought and power existed eternally as a distinguishable person called the Son in a Triune Godhead.
Athanasius quotes 1 Corinthians 8:6 and concludes because Paul says all things are through Christ that Christ must have preceded all things and therefore must be eternal as the Father is eternal. Yet Paul plainly distinguishes between the one God who is the Father and the one Lord who is Jesus in this passage.
1 Corinthians 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Athanasius assumes, as do other interpreters, that the “all things” referred to in this passage have to do with all things in the creation. Is this the case? Jesus as Lord is identified and revealed in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as the One through Whom salvation is facilitated. In Paul’s opening remarks in this letter he begins by saying, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:3). Paul plainly distinguishes between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In the next verse Paul says, “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” Here we see Paul speaking of the grace of God that is given through Christ.
If you carefully read through this letter to the Corinthians, you will find the context is Jesus Christ in His role as the One through whom the grace of God comes. Paul goes on to deal with a number of problems and concerns in the Corinthian congregation but it is all set in the context of what God has done for them through Christ. Paul says in verse 30 of chapter one, “It is because of him (God the Father) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Paul is referring to spiritual dynamics in this passage and they are seen as coming from God the Father, through Jesus. Paul clearly identifies God as the Father at the start of his letter in contrast to Jesus who is identified as Lord.
The context of Paul’s letter would appear to limit “all things” to those things pertaining to the salvation God has granted through Christ. We must be careful with broad statements such as “all things.” It is imperative we place such statements in their context in order to understand what is meant. Nowhere in this letter does Paul allude to the creation. The context is what God has done through Christ and we should understand “all things” within that context. The phrase “all things” is used a number of times in NT scripture and by context can be seen to apply to a limited and defined number of things. For example in Philippians 3:6, Paul says he has lost all things for the sake of Christ. Obviously Paul did not lose all things in some kind of universal sense. The context is all about Paul losing his former status as a religious leader among the Jews.
The immediate context of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is Paul teaching that eating meat sacrificed to idols is not the same as worshiping these idols which Paul associates with false gods. Paul then says there are many gods and lords, but for the Christian there is but one God and one Lord. Paul identifies that one God as the Father and that one Lord as Jesus. There is nothing in Paul’s statement to suggest that the one Lord is also the one God.
Jesus is the one Lord through Whom we have access to the one God. Paul makes this very clear in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
CHAPTER SIX: SECTION TWENTY-ONE
In this section, Athanasius makes a big issue of Jesus having to be God because scriptures say Jesus is the image of God. He says that since “the Father is eternal, immortal, powerful, light, King, Sovereign, God, Lord, Creator and Maker, these attributes must be in the Image to make it true that he ‘that hath seen’ the Son ‘hath seen the Father.’ ”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: This is a Non Sequitur argument. A Non Sequitur is where the conclusion does not follow from the premise. It is in Hebrews 1:3 where Christ is said to be the image of the Father. The Greek word for “image” is karizomai and appears just this once in the NT and in Greek means a mark or stamp, such as in engraving, imprinting or etching. As discussed in part one of this series, that which is engraved, imprinted or etched is not one with the engraving, imprinting or etching device.An engraving device produces a likeness of something. The likeness isn’t the same as the device that produced it.
Images are similes. They represent something or someone. They do not become that something or someone. A simile is symbolic of something else but is not the substance of that something else. My image in a mirror is certainly not me. It doesn’t have my attributes. It is a representation of my attributes. As pointed out earlier in this series, all three gospels record the account of Christ asking whose image is on the coin that was handed to Him. It was the image of Emperor Caesar. The coin represented Caesar as the imperial ruler of Rome. The coin wasn’t Caesar but represented Caesar. Being in the image of God doesn’t mean Jesus is God. It means He expresses and represents who God is, which is in line with scriptures that say Jesus came to reveal the Father. The Father is the one and only true God as Jesus plainly said in John 17:3
Jesus came to reveal the purpose and will of the Father. In seeing Jesus, one was seeing the mind of God being expressed. This is no different than my son reflecting my will in what he does. When people see my son they see me through the behavior of my son. It therefore can be said that those who see my son see me. This doesn’t make my son me. In the same manner, those seeing Jesus were not seeing God but seeing attributes of God represented in the behavior of the Son.
CHAPTER SEVEN: SECTION TWENTY-FIVE
In this section, Athanasius continues to teach that since the Father is eternal, His “Radiance ever is, which is His Word.” He writes, “God who is, hath from Himself His Word who also is; and neither hath the Word been added, whereas He was not before, nor was the Father once without Reason.”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius speaks of the radiance of God being His word. Nowhere do the scriptures teach the radiance of the Father is His word. The word radiance is used only once in all of scripture in association with God and the Son.
Hebrews 1:3: The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
The Greek word translated radiance (NIV) in this passage appears only this once in the NT. Its basic meaning is “reflected brightness.” Some translations, such as the KJV, translate it as brightness. Jesus was a reflection of God, His Father. Being a reflection does not mean Jesus is God as His Father is God any more that my son reflecting me means my son is me as I am me. Athanasius takes this Greek word to mean effulgence. Jesus is God’s effulgence. Effulgence pertains to innate brilliance. Since God has always existed, His effulgence would have had to always been and therefore Jesus must have always existed because God, who is eternal, would always have effulgence.
Effulgence, however, is not what this word means. While Jesus did see Himself as coming from the Father, Jesus did not see himself as the effulgence of His Father but as a reflection of His Father. Jesus told his followers that by seeing and believing in Him one sees the Father. People were not literally seeing the Father, but they were seeing the character, will and very mind of the Father represented (reflected) in Christ.
John 12:44-46: When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
The writer to the Hebrews points out that Jesus is the representation of God’s Being. This does not mean He is the Being God. Much of the focus of the letter to the Hebrews is to show the superiority of Christ over angles, and the Aaronic Priesthood. The writer speaks of Christ becoming superior to the angels (Hebrews 4:1). Wouldn’t the Son already be and always have been superior to the angels if He is God? The writer says that because Christ has loved righteousness and hated wickedness, His God will set Him above his companions (Hebrews 1:9). If Jesus is God as God is God, He would already be and always would have been above His companions. This verse shows the Son to have a God which makes no sense at all if the Son is God as God is God.
For discussion of passages in Hebrews chapter one that appear to show a pre-existence for the Son, I refer the reader to part seven of this series.
CHAPTER EIGHT: SECTION TWENTY-SIX & SEVEN
Athanasius writes that Arians had raised the question, “Had you a son before you begot him?” Arians were apparently comparing the generation of a human son to the generation of the Son of God and saying that a human son does not pre-exist before being generated as a son. Why then should we conclude the Son of God pre-existed before being generated as a Son by the Father.
Athanasius answers by saying that humans have their offspring residing within them from the time they are alive. He writes, “When then man comes to that age at which nature supplies the power, immediately, with nature unrestrained, he becomes father of the son from himself.” He refers to Hebrews 7:5, which speaks of the sons of Levi being in the loins of their great grandfather Abraham. He goes on to say that since God the Father is eternal, the Son has always been with the Father. There isn’t a place in time when the Son is generated as is true with temporal humans and therefore the Son is eternally generated.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: The argument that the Son of God has always been with God being parallel to humans always residing in their ancestors better lends itself to seeing the Son as always existing in the will and purpose of God and God generating the Son as the Christ at the appropriate time in the plan of God. While the genetic potential is always there for human conception, it is still only potential and doesn’t become realized until certain things happen. Athanasius is saying that because God the Father is eternal, the Son is eternally realized. This conclusion doesn’t parallel the human example Athanasius provides. With humans a son is an unrealized potential until the starting point of conception (begettal) takes place. By Trinitarians insisting the Son has eternally existed, there is no begettal. Begettal implies a beginning. Postulating begettal for an eternally existing Being is an oxymoron.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: SECTION FORTY-FOUR
In chapters nine and ten, Athanasius deals with various scriptures that on the surface appear to teach Jesus is a pre-existent Being. I have discussed all these passages earlier in this series and found nothing in Athanasius’ treatment of them to warrant further discussion. In chapter eleven, Athanasius discusses Paul’s statement to the Philippians about God exalting Christ subsequent to His death.
Philippians 2:8-11: And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Arians teach that since Christ was exalted by God, He must at one time not been exalted and therefore has not existed eternally as God. Athanasius takes the Arians to task for this but does not offer a viable explanation as to what Paul was saying.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Paul speaks of God exalting Jesus and that such exaltation should lead to every one confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord which is all to be done to the glory of God. It is again to be noted that Paul thinks and writes in terms of God on the one hand and Jesus Christ as Lord on the other hand. Paul does this throughout his writings. As has been shown in this series, when Paul dichotomizes between God and Jesus, it is God the Father Who Paul is referring too. This agrees well with what we see in Psalm 110:1 where the word translated LORD is YHWH and pertains to the Father and the second word Lord in this passage is adoni which pertains to the Son. Adoni is not used in the Hebrew Scriptures to identify Deity but always references man in some position of granted authority and power. See a detailed discussion of Psalm 110:1 in part two of this series.
Athanasius writes that a possible explanation of Paul’s statement about Christ being exalted is that Paul may be speaking of God’s resurrection of Jesus from the dead, seeing that his statement about being exalted follows on the heels of a reference to the death of Jesus. The wording of Paul’s statement, however, appears much more wide-ranging in that he speaks of God exalting Jesus to the highest place and elevating His name to be above all names.
CHAPTER TWELVE: SECTION FORTY-SIX
In this section, Athanasius quotes Psalm 45:6-7: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, has anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” The writer to the Hebrews quotes this Psalm in reference to Christ (Hebrews 1:8-9). Athanasius sees the expression “thy fellows” as relating to that which has been created and writes that the Psalmist speaks of Christ as “the eternal God, saying, ‘thy throne O God, is forever and ever…” Christ could not have been part of the created order and therefore must be “distinct from originated things (created things) and He only the Father’s veritable Word, Radiance, and Wisdom, which all things originate partake.”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius has not done his homework on this passage. First of all, this passage does not speak of Christ as “the Eternal God” as Athanasius writes. Second of all, this Psalm is a song in praise of a human king on his wedding night. By reading the introduction to this Psalm and the entire Psalm, it can be seen as obviously referring to a human king. As discussed earlier in this series, it was not uncommon for human rulers to be referred to as god (elohim). The phrase “forever and ever” was a common expression in respect to kings in the OT. The fact that the writer to the Hebrews uses this Psalm to refer to Christ is instructive. Since the first use of elohim in Psalm 45 6-7 is referring to a human king and not to the eternal God, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the writer to the Hebrews, in using this Psalm in reference to Christ, is using the word god in the same manner as it was used in the Psalm.
The kings of Israel were considered anointed by the Eternal God. Therefore, the quote, “God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (NIV), is in line with what we see in the OT relative to the Eternal God YHWH anointing a King of Israel. Jesus was the promised descendant of David who was to rule as King over Israel. The writer to the Hebrews uses this quote to show Christ having been anointed by God, His God.
Since “companions” appears to be referring to angels in this passage, and since the angels are created Beings, Athanasius extrapolates from this that the writer is saying Jesus is of a different substance than the created and therefore is uncreated. This passage has nothing to do with showing Christ to be uncreated (unoriginated) as opposed to created (originated). This Psalm, as quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9, shows the Eternal God, the God of Jesus, anointing him and therefore setting Him above His companions. He is set above His companions because of the anointing given to Him and not because He is of a different substance than His companions as Athanasius implies. This passage has nothing to do with substance. This passage is speaking of granted power and authority over and above His companions no different than a king of Israel had power and authority over his companions. To be above His companions because of the anointing given Him does not in any way speak to His origin or the origin of His companions.
Since God is referred to as the God of Jesus, Jesus can’t be that God. Jesus is a god in the sense that He has been anointed by His Father, (YHWH Elohim), to have great power and authority. This does not make Jesus YHWH Elohim. This does not make Jesus God as God is God. It makes Jesus the Christ, the anointed one of the one and only true Creator God. Jesus plainly said His Father was the only true God (John 17:3). I again refer the reader to part seven of this series for an in-depth discussion of Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: SECTIONS FIFTY-THREE TO SIXTY-TWO
In this final chapter of Discourse #1 Against The Arians, Athanasius cites a number of scriptural passages put forth by the Arians in defense of their position that the Son is a created Being. He proceeds, however, not to discuss any one of them except the passage in Hebrews 1:4 where the writer records, “So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (NIV). The Arians teach that because the writer says Jesus became superior to the angels it shows there was a time when this was not the case and therefore Jesus was at some point created. Athanasius takes great issue with this conclusion and spends the rest of Discourse #1 arguing against it.
Athanasius begins by quoting Hebrews 1:4 as “having become so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” He then discusses the word “better” and concludes the writer is saying Jesus is better as to the ministry that He brought as compared with the ministry of the prophets before Him and the ministry of angels through whom the law was given. He concludes that Jesus, as the human messenger from God, became better than the angels as to ministry. He concludes the writer’s use of “better” is to contrast the ministry of angels with the ministry of Christ and not compare Jesus to the angels as to substance. Since the writer is seen as not comparing Jesus to angels as to substance, Athanasius sees nothing in this passage to suggest Jesus is or was at any time less than the angels in substance and therefore continues to maintain Jesus is and always has been God and therefore superior to all other Beings.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: I agree with Athanasius that there is no reason to believe that the nature (substance) of Jesus or the angels is being addressed in this passage. The Arian suggestion that the Son at some point in history was equal to or less than the angels as to substance is not what is being discussed in this passage. The writer could very well have been saying that because of what Jesus accomplished as the anointed of God the Father, He is now seen as being superior to the angels. This being said, however, we must consider what the writer to the Hebrews wrote in chapter two:
Hebrews 2:9-10: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Here the writer speaks of Jesus being made a little lower than angels. In what way was Jesus made a little lower than the angels? Was being made a little lower than angels being made to have a temporary period of less power and authority than angels? Is the writer saying Jesus was created to be a little lower than angels as to substance? If as to substance, was it only pertaining to human substance while Jesus, as "God incarnate," became flesh? Or was it pertaining to a strictly physical Son of God who through resurrection from the dead became superior to angels by being given a spiritual body and power, glory and authority far above angels and all other created Beings? I believe the evidence, as discussed throughout this series, demonstrates the latter.
The writer says Jesus suffered death. If the Son is God as God is God, He could not die. An eternal God cannot die. That’s an oxymoron. Jesus died. Because He died, and was resurrected, He has been crowned with glory and honor. Jesus, the Son of the Eternal God was dead. There is no scriptural reason to believe that only the physical Jesus died while His God self did not and there certainly is no scriptural reason to believe the one and only Eternal God died. The scriptures teach that the physical man Jesus died and was brought back to life and was elevated to great glory and power at the right hand of God the Father.
As previously discussed in this series, the scriptures teach that Jesus, in order to be our Savior, had to be like us humans in every way. The writer to the Hebrews plainly said, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
To be made like us in every way is to preclude Jesus being God in the flesh. Humans are completely physical. Jesus was completely physical. Jesus was the unique Son of God, empowered to accomplish His Father’s will and once completed was elevated to a status far above all other Beings. This is why we worship Jesus as god. Jesus is not God as God the Father is God for whom and through whom everything exists as expressed in Hebrews 2:10. Jesus is the Son of the one and only Supreme God who was dead but is alive and the one and only mediator between us and God.
1st Timothy 2:5-6: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men
In a 2007 book entitled, “The Shack,” the author presents God as a Trinity. As if quoting God, the author writes, “When we three spoke ourselves into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also choose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood.” The author then compares this phenomenon to a bird whose nature is to fly but who can limit itself to walking when it chooses while all the while maintaining the ability to fly. Therefore, the author concludes God is always God but can at the same time be human by limiting Himself to human dynamics.
The author of “The Shack” does not see the contradiction his analogy presents. A bird has both the ability to fly and walk as complementary dynamics of its nature. It can either fly or walk anytime it wants. It is not a self imposed limitation for the bird to walk rather than fly. A flying bird by nature can fly or walk. God, on the other hand, is by nature eternal. He has neither beginning nor end. God has innate immortality. God has no mortality. Humans are by nature temporal, having innate mortality. God cannot be eternal and temporal at the same time. He cannot impose a limitation of mortality upon Himself and remain at the same time fully immortal. These cannot be complementary dynamics of God’s nature. These are contradictory dynamics. It’s like asking God to create a rock so heavy that He cannot move it and then concluding that because God can’t move the rock He is not all powerful and if He can’t create a rock He can’t move He likewise can’t be all powerful (This is a standard atheist argument against the existence of God) .
God does not exist in contradictions. In order for God to become fully human, He would have to give up being fully God. Being fully God involves being fully eternal while being fully human involves being fully temporal. God can’t be both at the same time. Being fully human excludes being fully God. The Son of God was able to be fully human because He wasn’t fully God. This is the only way Jesus can be seen as being just like us without there being a contradiction. Because Jesus was fully human He is able to identify with our humanity and be the mediator spoken of in 1st Timothy 2:5-6.
This concludes a review of Discourse #1 in Athanasius’ defense of his position against Arianism. A review of Discourse #2 begins with Addendum #3
ADDENDUM #3
IS GOD A TRINITY? ADDENDUM #3
DISCOURSE 2: CHAPTER FOURTEEN: SECTIONS ONE THROUGH ELEVEN
In this second discourse against Arius, Athanasius takes the Arians to task for what he perceives as their misuse of certain scriptures in support of their contention that the Son has not existed eternally but was created at some point by God. As in addendum's one and two, I will italicize and place quotation marks around all quotes of Athanasius including his scriptural quotes.
Athanasius cites the Arian use of Proverbs 8:22 where the writer says, “The LORD had created me a beginning of His ways for His works.” Athanasius says the Arians use this passage to say wisdom was created and since wisdom is believed to be the Son, the Son was created. Athanasius also cites Hebrews 3:2, “Who was faithful to Him that made Him.” as being used by the Arians to defend their position that the Son was made and therefore not without beginning. Athanasius writes that on the basis of these scriptures, the Arians argue that “the Son of God is a work and a creature.” He goes on to write “the Son is not from nothing nor in the number of things originate at all, the Truth witnessing it (for being God, He cannot be a work and it is impious to call Him a creature…”). Athanasius is saying that since the Son is God He could not have been made or created.
He goes on to allude to John 1:1 and associates the “word” with the wisdom of God. Since he believes the “word” of John 1:1 is the Son, he concludes the wisdom of God is the Son. Therefore, when Proverbs 8 speaks of the wisdom of God it is speaking of the Son. He writes, “But if it be He who is the Word and the Wisdom, by which all things come to be, it follows that he is not in the number of works, nor in short of things originate, but the Offspring of the Father.” Athanasius is saying the Son is the uncreated word and wisdom of God the Father.
In section 6 of chapter 14, Athanasius says, “For consider how grave an error it is, to call God’s Word a work. Solomon says in one place in Ecclesiastes, that ‘God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil’ If then the Word be a work, do you mean that He as well as others will be brought into judgement?” In this statement, Athanasius is asking if the Son be of the created order, will He be brought into judgement like everyone else. He speaks of judgement as going on trial in a judicial sense where punishment is doled out. He says the Son could never be brought to trial. Since every work of God will be judged (brought to trial), Christ could not be a work of God. He goes on to say that the Son, who scripture shows will be the judge of humanity, could not Himself be judged and therefore cannot be among the created things of God.
In section seven, Athanasius refers to passages in the second chapter of Hebrews where the writer speaks of Christ being made lower than the angels, and being made like His human brothers in every way. He says these statements refer to his humanity and not His Divine essence. Athanasius continues to maintain Jesus is consubstantial with the Father. He explains these statements in Hebrews by comparing what the Son did with what Aaron did in putting on his priestly garments and thus being made High Priest. He points out that Aaron was not born High Priest but was made such when putting on the priestly robes while maintaining his fleshly essence. In like manner, Athanasius sees Christ, not having been created flesh, but having put on flesh while remaining consubstantial with the Father as to essence.
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius suggests that Arians use Proverbs 8:22 to prove that wisdom was created by God and since the wisdom of God is believed to be the Son, the Son was created. An examination of the entirety of Proverbs 8 reveals that wisdom is being personified and spoken of in figurative terminology throughout this chapter. Wisdom is seen as having been with God from the beginning and existing eternally. Proverbs 8 shows God as the creator of all things and wisdom being an ever present dynamic in the process of creation. There is nothing in this passage to indicate wisdom is a “person” within a Triune Godhead. Wisdom is seen as an attribute of God. It is something He possesses and is instrumental in all He does. Several other translations of Proverbs 8:22 support this view.

The Lord (YHWH) possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old (KJV).
Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old (ASV).
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. Verse 23: From everlasting I was established (NAS)
The Hebrew word translated “possessed” in the above translations and “created” in some translations is qunah which means to erect, to own and to possess. In view of the overall context of Proverbs 8 showing wisdom to be an attribute of God expressed in the creative process, it would appear that wisdom is what God possesses and “possessed” is the more accurate rendering of qunah in this passage. Therefore, it is false for the Arians to use Proverbs 8:22 to support the position that the Son, as the wisdom of God, is created and equally false for Athanasius to use Proverbs 8 to show the wisdom of God is the uncreated eternal Son. Proverbs 8 is not dealing with the identification of the Son. Proverbs 8 is telling us wisdom is the attribute of God’s nature by which He creates. It is part of His cognitive function whereby He does what He does. Wisdom is what God possesses and has always possessed. There is nothing in Proverbs 8 that suggests the wisdom of God is the Son of God.
Athanasius’ quote of Hebrews 3:2 is problematical. “Who was faithful to Him that made Him.” Every English translation I have reviewed speaks of Christ being faithful to Him who “appointed” Him, not “made” him. The context of Hebrews 3 certainly indicates that “appointed” is the correct translation as it speaks of those things which Christ was purposed to do in fulfilling His Father’s will. This verse is not addressing how Christ came to be but what He was appointed to do. If the Arians were indeed using the translation cited by Athanasius to support their position as to how the Son came to be, it is an inappropriate use of this verse.
Athanasius’ quote from Ecclesiastes is also problematical. This passage is talking about judging deeds and is so rendered in most modern translations. To judge the deeds of someone is to make a determination about their behavior. Even with Christ, a determination was made by the Father as to Christ’s deeds. The scriptures show Jesus was tested in every way as all other humans and found to be without sin and He was made perfect by the things He suffered. In other words, Jesus was judged to be perfectly righteous and therefore be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Ecclesiastes 12:14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (NIV, RSV and other renderings).
There is nothing in this scripture that prevents Jesus from having been generated at some moment in time as the Son of God. The passage in Ecclesiastes is not speaking of judgement in the sense of going to trial as Athanasius implies but is simply a statement of determining good deeds from bad deeds as the context of chapter 12 shows. Athanasius writes that the Son could not be judged and also be the judge of the world as scriptures proclaim. This, however, is not the case. The scriptures show that God will judge the world through Christ. God the Father is the ultimate judge of all things. It is not incongruous for someone to be judged and also be a judge. Only the Supreme Creator Father God cannot be judged as it is He who establishes the standards for judgement including the facilitation of judgement through Christ.
Athanasius’ comparing Christ’s fleshly existence to Aaron putting on priestly robes is very problematical. Aaron was of human essence and was given the role of High Priest. This did not add to his human essence. It was simply a role he fulfilled as a human. With Christ, we are being asked to believe a Being of eternal essence took on temporal essence while maintaining eternal essence. This being the case, we are asked to believe that when Jesus died, only His temporal essence died as it would be impossible for His eternal essence to die. If this is the case, the eternal Son of God did not die. His essence, being eternal, could not die. So who died? The scriptures clearly show the Son of God died. Are there two Sons’ of God, one eternal and one temporal, and only the temporal one died?
In the early second century, a branch of Christianity called Gnosticism developed which held to the belief that Jesus was wholly human but an eternal “Divine Spark” came into Jesus at His baptism and it was this “Divine Spark” that survived the death of the human Jesus. In the fourth century, a theologian named Nestorius proposed that Jesus was actually two persons, one temporal and the other eternal and it was the temporal Son who died. This teaching gained a respectable following resulting in a number of Nestorian churches being formed. Nestorius was condemned as a heretic at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. but his teachings survive to this very day as Nestorian churches still exist in the orient.
The scriptures clearly show the Father has directly begotten just one Son and it is that one and only begotten Son who died, was resurrected and ascended to the Father. In order for this Son to die, He had to be mortal. He could not have been immortal in any respect and die. That is an oxymoron. We mortals can become begotten immortal sons of God through the immortality granted to Christ. Jesus is the first to be granted immortality. He is the first fruits of those who have died as the scriptures clearly teach.
God, by nature, is seen as innately immortal, omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere present). If Jesus is God as God is God, Jesus is innately immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Yet Jesus plainly showed His mortality by dying. When asked when the events described in the Olivet Discourse would occur He indicated He didn’t know but only the Father knew. Clearly, Jesus did not display the properties of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Deity while walking the streets of Judea. The signs and wonders He performed He attributed to the Father. When someone addressed Him as good, He said only God is good. How then could Jesus have been God? Some theologians, who recognize this dilemma, ascribe to a theology called Kenotic Christology which teaches that Christ laid down or limited His exercise of Divine properties during His earthly mission, only to take them up again after his resurrection. This approach is based on a particular way of interpreting what Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:4. This passage is discussed in detail in Part 5 of this series.
An eternal Being, however, cannot lay aside His eternal existence and eternal properties and begin to exist as a temporal Being. This is a logical impossibility and absolute contradiction. Many theologians, including Athanasius, recognize this Christological dilemma and therefore believe Christ did not give up any properties of Deity but added human properties to His Deity and it is the exercise of these human properties that we see as the Christ event of the scriptures. Jesus’ ability to be tested, suffer and ultimately die is all seen as connected to the human nature that was added to His Divine nature. Thus we have the two nature doctrine of Jesus.
The separateness seen while the Son existed as the human Jesus is seen as one of functionality and not one of substance or ontological (Being) nature. Jesus is seen as a human manifestation of the Son distinction in God. As the human Jesus, He is seen as functionally subservient to the Father but remains coequal ontologically with the Father in His pre-existent eternal state.
The problem with this view is that it fails to resolve the issue of who died. If the Son of God remained fully God while adding humanity, it must be concluded it was this added humanity that died since the Divine essence of Jesus could not die. If this is the case, can we legitimately say the Son of God died if only His added humanity died? The scriptures clearly show it was the Son of God who died and not just some human manifestation of the Son that died. Apostle Paul clearly said it was the Son of God who gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Jesus, after His ascension to the Father, is still pictured in scripture as subservient to the Father. The Father continues to be described as the one and only God with Christ being seen as the agent of the Father through whom mankind is redeemed.
If the Son of God is God as God is God, He could not have died as this would be behavior contrary to what it means to be God. If only the humanity added to Jesus’ Deity died, who or what was resurrected? The actual Son of God could not have been resurrected if the actual Son of God did not die. If only the added human essence called Jesus the Christ died and was resurrected, can we say the Son of God died and was resurrected? Are we not proposing, as the Nestorians, that there exist two Sons of God, one mortal and the other immortal? Hopefully you can see the enormous incongruities of the incarnation doctrine.
THE MELCHIZEDEK ISSUE:
There is a side issue that needs to be addressed at this point in our discussion. Because of the manner in which Melchizedek is portrayed in scripture, some believe Melchizedek is one and the same with a pre-incarnate Christ. Therefore, it is believed it was Jesus Christ who appeared to Abraham as the priest Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:18-20: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Melchizedek is seen as bringing bread and wine. Bread and wine were used by Christ to represent his body and blood at the Passover before the crucifixion. Melchizedek is seen blessing Abraham as priest of the Most High God. Abraham is seen as giving a tenth of everything to Melchizedek. In Psalm 110:4, the LORD (YHWH) is seen as declaring to the lord (adoni), “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." As discussed earlier in this series, adoni pertains to Christ and YHWH is God the Father.
The writer to the Hebrews discusses the issue of Christ becoming a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:5-6: So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Verse 9-10: Once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:20: He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:1-4: This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Verse 8: In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.
The writer explains the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Some believe “king of righteousness” and “king of peace” are designations applied to Christ in scripture. These designations, however, only appear in scripture in association with Melchizedek. The passages, "Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” and “by him who is declared to be living” are seen by some as referring to Christ since Christ is believed to reflect the properties here associated with Melchizedek. the Greek for "remains" and the Greek for "is living" are both in the present tense and therefore signify an ongoing existence for Melchizedek.
In view of all this, Melchizedek is believed to have existed eternally and since the Son of God is believed to have existed eternally (without beginning of days or end of life) and the writer says, “like the Son of God remains a priest forever,” it is believed Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same.
On the other hand, the expression “being without father or mother” was a common way of saying that there was no recorded genealogy for a person. This expression was commonly used in the secular literature of the first century. The Greek word for genealogy is a word that does not mean having no ancestry but means having no recorded ancestry. Nothing recorded on an official document. Since Jesus has a recorded genealogy and has a mother of record and God proclaiming to be His Father, it becomes problematical that Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same. The scripture says he was like the Son of God in relation to being a priest forever and not that he was the Son of God. This was written after the Son of God was resurrected and ascended to the Father, having been granted eternal life by the Father. The relationship between Melchizedek and Christ is further defined in Hebrews 7:14-17.
Hebrews 7:14-17: For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like (after the similitude) Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The Greek word translated "like" (“similitude” in the KJV and “likeness” in many other versions) is homoioteta which indicates being similar or like something but not being identical with that something. Melchizedek represented an eternal priesthood that can never die out. The writer compares this to the temporal priesthood under Moses that had to be continually replenished as priests died. The writer did not say Jesus is Melchizedek but that Jesus’ priesthood is similar to Melchizedek's. The writer speaks of another priest like Melchizedek appearing, one who becomes a priest, not on the basis of ancestry but on the basis of living forever. Christ is seen as becoming this priest. Becoming a priest presupposes not having been a priest at some time in the past.
Melchizedek is a priest. If Jesus was Melchizedek, He would already be the priest Melchizedek. He would not have to become the priest Melchizedek or a priest like Melchizedek. The writer clearly shows that Jesus became a priest like Melchizedek. It is contradictory to conclude Jesus became who He already is. Some will argue that the Son set aside being Melchizedek when He became the human Jesus. As already discussed in this addendum, the idea that the Son was able to divest Himself of eternal properties or add temporal properties to eternal properties to become the human Jesus and still die as the one and only Son of God is very problematical.
It is much more scriptural to conclude that Jesus, as the humanly begotten Son of God the Father, became a priest in the order of Melchizedek upon completing His earthly mission. This happened in association with His receiving authority, power and glory and an everlasting Kingdom as pictured in Daniel. Admittedly, this doesn’t define or identify Melchizedek other than what we see in Genesis and Hebrews. To conclude, however, that Melchizedek is the Son of God runs contrary to what we see the writer to the Hebrews recording and therefore becomes nothing more than speculations based on assuming the thing to be proved.
It is interesting to note that those who hold to the position that Christ is Melchizedek often hold, as well, to the position that Christ is the God (YHWH) of the Old Testament. Apparently they fail to carefully read Psalm 110:1-4 where YHWH is seen as addressing Christ (adoni) and declaring adoni to be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. If YHWH is declaring Christ to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek, how can Christ be YHWH? The contradiction should be obvious.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: SECTION ELEVEN THROUGH THIRTEEN:
In chapter 15, Athanasius continues to deal with passages of scripture he claims the Arians use to say the Son was made by God and therefore is not God as God is God. He references Acts 2:36 where Peter says, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” as a passage the Arians use to teach God made the Son and therefore the Son is not eternal as is the Father. Athanasius insists Peter is not referring to God making Jesus as to His essence in this passage. To do so would be the same as saying God made His Word which can’t be because the Word, as the Son, has existed eternally and is consubstantial with the Father. Athanasius writes that Peter is referring to Christ being made Lord and Christ as to His relationship to us. Jesus is seen as being made Lord and Christ as to the temporal world of man. Athanasius goes on to say Christ has always been Lord by nature but Peter is speaking in terms of Christ being recognized as Lord. To leave no doubt in the readers mind as to his belief as to the nature of Christ, Athanasius writes, “by the signs and wonders which the Lord did, He was manifested to be not merely a man, but God in a body and Lord also, the Christ.”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: I agree with Athanasius that Peter is not talking about the essence of Jesus. He is not talking about how Jesus came to be. But neither is Peter seeing Jesus as “God in a body” as Athanasius believes. Peter is talking about the status of Jesus subsequent to His resurrection from the dead. Peter is seeing a resurrected Christ, a Christ who was dead, but is now alive. Peter is talking about a Christ to whom immortality has been granted. The scriptures speak of Christ being the first born from the dead, not the first born from the living. In scripture, being born from the dead is synonymous with being granted immortality. Peter is showing God made Jesus Lord and Christ by being born from the dead which is to move from being mortal to being immortal.
Throughout his writings, Athanasius writes from the conviction that the word of God is the eternal and therefore immortal Son of God. Therefore, any suggestion the Son was made or was at some point mortal is immediately dismissed as impossible since the word of God must be eternal as God is eternal. I agree that the word of God is eternal. To conclude, however, that the word (logos) of God is a person called the Son is not demonstrated in the scriptures as I have discussed in some detail throughout this series. The evidence shows the Son to have been born as a mortal person, fully able to die but by the power of God was resurrected to eternal life and is now immortal.
Athanasius’ statement about Jesus having to be God because of the miracles He performed is a false conclusion. As discussed earlier in this series, the signs and wonders Jesus did were not the result of Him being God as God is God. Jesus did what He did because his Father God empowered Him to do so as He clearly indicated during His ministry. The Apostles did signs and wonders also. They healed the sick, cast our evil spirits and even raised the dead. Where they God? No they were not. They did what they did because God empowered them through the resurrected Jesus who was now seated at the right hand of God, having been given great glory, power, and authority.
SECTION FOURTEEN:
In section fourteen of chapter fifteen, Athanasius continues to address the issue of Christ being made Lord and King. He writes, “So Christ also being by nature Lord and King everlasting, does not become Lord more than He was at the time He is sent forth, nor then begins to be Lord and King, but what He is ever, that He then is made according to the flesh; and having redeemed all, He became thereby again Lord of quick and dead. For Him henceforth do all things serve, and this is David’s meaning in the Psalm, ‘the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’ ”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius is saying that Christ is Lord and King in his eternal state and simply continues as such in His fleshly state and through His death and resurrection He reaffirms His status as Lord of both the living and the dead and that all things serve Him. He then informs that this is David’s meaning in Psalm 110:1 which He quotes.
If Athanasius would have done his homework on Psalm 110:1 he may have had an entirely different perspective as to who Christ is as opposed to who God is. As covered in detail earlier in this series, the first “Lord” of this verse is YHWH, the name for God throughout the Old Testament and usually translated as LORD (All caps). The second word for Lord in this passage is adoni, a word that is used throughout the Old Testament to signify a human master having authority over others and is usually translated lord (all small letters). This word is never use of God. Adoni in this verse is understood to be referring to the Son of God as seen in Acts 2:34-36. Therefore, the Son of God stands identified as the one who became the immortal agent of God the Father, who stands at His right hand. Psalm 110:1 shows a clear distinction between God (YHWH) and the one who would become the promised anointed one through whom the Father would bring salvation.
SECTION FIFTEEN:
In this section, Athanasius writes that Christ taught the Jews that God was come among them when He said, “If He called them Gods to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?” He goes on to write that Peter, having learned this from Christ, uses this to announce to the Jews that Christ is “Lord and God, and dispenser of life.”
AUTHOR’S COMMENT: Athanasius' quote is from John 10:36. As discussed in depth beginning on page 46 of this series, Jesus is quoting from Psalm 82 where human rulers are being addressed as gods and Jesus is virtually identifying Himself with these human rulers in His capacity as the Son of God. Jesus’ quote of this passage from Psalm 82 does not establish Him as the one and only Supreme, Creator God but as an appointed agent of the Supreme, Creator God just as those humans being addressed in Psalm 82. This statement of Christ’s does not say Jesus is God as Athanasius claims. Jesus does not say He is God in this passage. He says He is the Son of God. Jesus is seen as the Son of God throughout the New Testament. Never does Jesus, or anyone else, say He is God the Son. Jesus is a god in the same sense as those addressed in Psalm 82. Please read my discussion of this issue in Part 5 of this series.
Some argue that because Mary was impregnated by the power of God, the Divine essence of God was passed on to Jesus much like human essence is passed on to a baby through impregnation of male sperm into a female egg. The scriptures, however, do not speak of Mary being impregnated by God. They speak of Mary becoming pregnant through the power of God. There is a difference. I can personally impregnate my wife through normal sexual activity. Or I can bring about a pregnancy for her through artificial insemination (use of donated sperm) or the implantation of an already fertilized egg (surrogacy). If I choose either one of these methods, my personal genetic profile is not passed on to the baby. I have simply facilitated my wife’s pregnancy through a different mechanism. While this is not a perfect analogy, as impregnation still takes place and human essence is still passed on, it nevertheless demonstrates the difference between a direct impregnation and causing a pregnancy by other means.
Mary may have been a totally surrogate mother (called gestational surrogacy) who carried an embryo that had been directly created by God. If this was the case, the baby she gave birth to had no humanly derived genes whatsoever. We shouldn’t conclude from this, however, that this baby had “Divine genes” and was therefore God. God directly created Adam. This didn’t make Adam God.
Matthew 1:18: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:31-35: You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
The power of God facilitated the pregnancy of Mary. There is nothing in these passages suggesting Divine essence was transferred to the womb of Mary and therefore Jesus was a hybrid of human and Divine essence. We can’t assume the supernatural facilitation of Mary’s pregnancy resulted in a Being having Divine and human essence. Jesus was born a human having human characteristics. There was nothing in His appearance to suggest inherited Divine essence. All indications are Jesus was totally human with a lineage going back to the human David whose throne is given to Him by the Lord God. He will be called the Son of the Most High. This clearly shows He is not the most High as there can only be one Most High which throughout scripture is shown to be the Father of Jesus.
Having reviewed two of Athanasius’ discourses against the Arians and finding nothing to significantly challenge the conclusions reached in this series of essays as to the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I will conclude this investigation at this point. I remain open to critical comment on what I have written provided such comment is based on evidence and not just emotional reaction to what I have written.

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