- That the
Hebrew Scriptures simply do not allow the possibility for another
deity, whether co-equal or subordinate.
GOD knew of no other deity neither was He going to form one.
The Jews knew of and honored solely one GOD, one deity, who was the Creator of all things, namely, YAHWEH.
- That John's
prologue was written with a style and idiom which was in line with earlier
Jewish writings of that era.
That is, GOD's actions, GOD's wisdom, GOD's word; were personified, depicted as male & female figures, to describe the ONE GOD's actions in His creation. These personifications were never meant to be taken literally; neither did the readers of that time take them literally. Both 1st-century Jews & Christians understood John's prologue as describing GOD's word - that through GOD's active word all things were created; GOD's word was sent into the creation.
The new thing which was totally unknown in earlier writings which John was declaring, is that GOD's word literally became a person - the personification became a person resulting in the conception of Jesus of Nazareth, the logos of GOD made flesh! Jesus is what the logos became ... a man, a human being!
It depicts solely one deity, one GOD who has made
one human being, His Son, Lord and Messiah.
So you have ONE GOD who has ONE right hand man!
[Psa 80.17, 110.1]
And this man operates in the power of his GOD.
There is no room for 2 or 3 Gods - no room for another deity.
Besides, all Scripture-believing Jews recognized from the Scriptures that the Messiah was meant to be a man of the lineage of David. They never ever for one moment believed that the Messiah would be (an incarnation of) their GOD or a deity of some sort; No! They knew from the Scriptures that the Messiah would be a human being. Although, a human being greatly endowed by the power of GOD [e.g. Isa 11.2, etc], however nonetheless a human being.
[cp. Mt 16.21-22, Mark 8.31-32, 9.31-32, Luke 18.31-34]
That was their main hurdle ... how could their long-awaited Lord Messiah be that man from Nazareth who was crucified like a common criminal, who did not usher in GOD's Kingdom!!
the ONE GOD and His right hand man!
May He Bless your every endeavor.
applicable quotes related to the subject at hand:
- As a leading
scholar at Cambridge recently wrote, "John is as undeviating a
witness as any in the New Testament to the fundamental tenet of Judaism, of
(cp. Rom. 3:30; James 2:19).
There is one true and only God (John 5:44; 17:3). Everything else is idols (1 John 5:20) ...
Jesus refuses the claim to be God (John 10:33).
(J.A.T. Robinson, 12 More NT Studies, p. 175).
- At Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls), Jews wrote, "By
God's knowledge everything has been brought into being. And
everything that is God established by His purpose, and
apart from Him nothing is done" (1 QS XI.11).
"In the beginning was the purpose, the purpose in the mind of God, the purpose which was God's own being … this purpose took human form in Jesus of Nazareth"
(G.B. Caird, New Testament Theology, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995, p. 332).
- As a leading scholar at Cambridge recently wrote, "John is as undeviating a witness as any in the New Testament to the fundamental tenet of Judaism, of unitary monotheism"
- For more info, on the expression, the word was with
GOD, read II. THE WORD IN JOHN 1:1 in this article:
What's in a Word? Recovering the Vocabulary of the New Testament
- For more info on
the opening verses of John 1:1, I recommend John 1:1 Caveat Lector (Reader Beware)
- Here are some
other examples of John 1:3-4 being translated using
Tomson, Lawrence. The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Translated out of Greeke by Theod. Beza.
London: Robert Barker, 1607.
In the beginning was that Word, and that Word was with God, and that Word was God. This same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and that life was the light of men. And that light shineth in the darknes, and the darknesse comprehended it not.
Mr. Divers Parts of the Holy Scriptures Done
London: T. Piety, 1761.
The word was in the beginning; and the word was with God, and the word was God; [the word] was with God in the beginning]. Through the same all things were made, and without the same was not made even one thing that was made. In the same was life, and that life was the light of human beings; and the light shineth on the darkness, yet the darkness apprehended it not.
- Wakefield, Gilbert. A Translation of the New
London: Philanthropic Press, 1791.
In the beginning was Wisdom, and Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it was nothing made. What was made, had life in it, and this life was the light of men; and this light shineth in darkness, and the darkness hindered it not.
- Campbell, Alexander. The Sacred Writings of the
Apostles and Evangelists of Jesus Christ, Commonly
Styled the New Testament, Translated from the
Buffaloe, Brooke County, VA: Alexander Campbell, 1826.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it not a single creature was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in darkness; but the darkness admitted it not.
- Dickinson, Rodolphus. A New and Corrected Version of the
New Testament; or, a Minute Revision, and
Professed Translation of the Original Histories, Memoirs, Letters, Prophecies, and Other Productions of
the Evangelists and Apostles.
Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman and Holden, 1833.
In the beginning existed the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the commencement with God. All things were formed by it, and without it not even one thing was made, which has existed. In it was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in darkness, and the darkness did not overpower it.
- Barnard, David. The
Holy Bible; Being the English Version of the Old
and New Testaments, Made by Order of King James I, Carefully Revised and Amended, by Several Biblical Scholars.
Mannsville, NY: D. S. Dean and Rhodes Barker, 1847.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it; and without it nothing was made that was made. In it was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in the darkness; and the darkness did not admit it.
- Folsom, Nathaniel S. The
Four Gospels: Translated from the Greek Text of
Boston: A. Williams, 1869.
In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. This was in [the] beginning with God. All things through it arose into being, and without it arose not even one thing which has arisen. In it is Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on, in the Darkness; and the Darkness did not apprehend it.
(John 1:15) John bare
witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh
after me is preferred before me: for
he was before [Gk. protos ] me.
Before [protos] is being used in the sense of pre-eminence & priority, not time! John was indeed older than Jesus, however Jesus being the Lord Messiah, the Son of GOD, was John's superior.
Once again it is an issue of translation. The Greek may equally read "because he is first [Greek protos] in regard to me," (as stated in the margin of the 1885 English Revised Version of the Bible), meaning,
"he is better than me," my superior, my chief.
Compare John 1.15 in the following versions:
- The Geneva Bible. (1560)
Iohn bare witnesse of him, and cryed, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that commeth after me, was before me: for he was better then I.
- 1864 Emphatic
He who comes after me is in advance of me; for he is my superior
- 1902 Joseph Bryant Rotherham's
Joh 1:15 (John beareth witness concerning him, and hath cried aloud, saying––the same, was he that said––He who, after me, was coming, before me, hath advanced; because, my Chief, was he.)
- The Geneva Bible. (1560)
- It appears that
the 19th-century English translations were more accurate in bringing
out the intent of John the Baptist's statement. John was saying that the
one who was to follow him, is first in rank to him
hence before him, because he is John's superior.
So, while it is true that the Greek word “before” (protos) can mean “before in time,” it can just as easily be “first,” “chief,” “leader,” etc. For example, the “first” and great commandment was not the first given in time, but the first in rank. Other examples where protos (Grk for 'first') is used to mean "first in rank" are ...
Matt 20:27 (chief), Mark 6:21 (chief), Mark 10:44 (chiefest), Luke 15:22 (best), etc.
- Jesus in comparison to John
was NOT "first in time," "before," BUT
"first in importance," which will give such a meaning as "he was my Chief."
[Cf. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, p108-9]
- Jesus in comparison to John was NOT "first in time," "before," BUT
Concerning Hebrews Chapter 1In this chapter, when isolated from its context, individual phrases seem to justify Trinitarian (or even Arian i.e. pre-existent) interpretation. These phrases are: "through whom also He made the world" (v. 2); "And let all the angels of God worship him" (v. 6); "But of the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever' "(v. 8); "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain...You are the same, and your years will not come to an end" (v. 10, 12).
Read in isolation — out of context — these verses may appear to say that Jesus is GOD or deity. However, we should never read back into the text what later traditions have taught us.
The book of Hebrews was first written to encourage believers who were facing persecution to remain loyal to Christ. These believers were Jewish converts to Christ and they must be encouraged to see the superiority of Christ over the old Jewish system of things. Christ is superior to the angels (who had mediated the old covenant); he is superior to Abraham, Moses and Joshua. Christ is superior to the Levitical priesthood and Temple rituals and sacrifices. This superiority rests in the fact that Jesus is the resurrected Son of GOD, not that he is Almighty GOD or a (pre-existent) deity. Think about it!
If Jesus is GOD in human form, then the author could have saved himself a lot of ink and time. All he needed to do was write that Jesus is superior to all because "He is GOD". End of argument.
But the opening verses of Hebrews allow no such interpretation. They run like this: "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world" (v. 1-3).
Under the old covenant GOD spoke in various portions and in various ways to the fathers in the prophets. In contrast, He now speaks through a Son in these last days. One of the ways GOD spoke in OT times was also through the mediation of angels (see Heb. 2:2). This means, amongst other things, that GOD's message to Israel was not through a pre-existent Son who was an angel, as Jehovah's Witnesses believe, nor can it mean — as many Trinitarians think — that Jesus was the "angel of the LORD"; nor can it mean that GOD spoke to the fathers in OT days through a pre-existent Son. For the opening verses of Hebrews testify that before the birth of Jesus there was no Son of GOD as GOD's messenger to men. In the OT, GOD did not speak through the Son. For the obvious reason that the Son wasn't even conceived yet!
Bluntly then: "What emerges from the first two verses of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus was not God's agent to Israel in Old Testament times,"
(Buzzard and Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity (1998), p. 75).
The Son — through whom GOD has in these end-times spoken — has been "appointed heir of all things" (v. 2). Then comes the statement that through this appointed heir of all things GOD "made the world" (v. 2). The old KJV translation has "through whom He made the worlds." Seeing this, we tend to immediately think of the Genesis creation at the beginning of the universe. But the word used for "worlds" here is the word for "ages" (aion) from which we get our English word eon(s). The writer is not speaking of the Genesis creation of the heavens and the earth. He is speaking about time periods, epochs. In Jewish thinking there were classically two great ages. The first is the present and evil age. [Gal 1.4] The next will be the Messianic age to come. And Hebrews 1:2 is speaking of the world — or more precisely — the Messianic age to come. He goes on to tell us that through Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross a new way has been opened up for us to enter the new earth and the new heavens of the future Messianic Kingdom when it dawns.
This "appointed heir of all things" is the agent, the mediator through (Grk. dia) whom GOD has — in prospect — brought about the new Messianic age. True, this Son now "upholds all things by the word of his power" (v. 3b). But it is the new creation — the Messianic age — that is held together by his (authorized and delegated) power. In the Messianic Kingdom everything will be based on Christ's word and teaching. Without Christ and his word of the Kingdom there is no Messianic Age to uphold.
And in that new age even the angels will worship the Son, for he has "become as much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they" (v. 4). This is what the Father had decreed through the prophets long ago (v. 5). If there is any doubt that Christ the Son will be worshipped in that glorious new age the author dispels such a question by promising that "when He [GOD] again brings the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of GOD worship him' " (v. 6). At the Second Coming the Father's decree will become history. Every knee, whether in heaven or on earth, will pay homage to the Son (see Ps. 2:12). This worship of Jesus the Son does not make him Almighty GOD.
Just as in the OT, the Kings of Israel and dignitaries were worshipped.
There is a worship applicable to Almighty GOD alone; and there is a worship applicable to kings and dignitaries. In fact, the Hebrew word for worship, shachah in the OT, is used in reference to men more often than it is for Almighty GOD; compare also (1 Chr 29:20) And David said to all the congregation, Now bless YAHWEH your God. And all the congregation blessed YAHWEH God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads,
and worshipped (shachah) YAHWEH, and the king.
David received worship alongside GOD Almighty!! That is, David received civil/regal worship just as Christ did in the NT!
This act of (relative) worship of Jesus by the angels will honor the Father, for it is His will they do this (Phil. 2:9-11).
I have already commented on Psalms 45 in my first email; However, I will again quote Kuschel conc. Hebrews:
The phrases 'reflection of his glory' and 'stamp of his nature (1.3) represent a christological acceptance of the authority of wisdom as the bearer of divine revelation (Wisdom 7.25f.). The eschatological context and the present participles used in these statements (literally: he, being reflection and stamp) make it clear that ... something is being said about the present being and action of the exalted Christ: 'The hymn is not concerned to make either a statement about pre-existence or a statement about the earthly life of the Son, but a statement about the significance of the Son for the community in the present.'
The words from Ps. 2.7 and II Sam. 7.14 about the divine Sonship of Christ which are quoted in Heb. 1.5 (evidently against a speculative 'angel christology') point in the same direction. We already saw in the analysis of the sayings source that the phrase in the psalm 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you' does not indicate an eternal begetting in God before time, any more than does the saying from II Samuel, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son'. As is well known, Psalm 2 is a royal psalm, and Ps. 2.7 does not refer to a pre-existence of the king but to his appointment as son of God on his accession. And II Sam. 7.14 refers to the confirmation of the Davidic monarchy by Yahweh himself. So here 'begetting' is a synonym for exaltation.
- The divine predicate given to Christ in the
quotation from Ps. 45 (1.8, 'Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever') is
not speculation about divine nature from pre-existence christology, but
an interpretation of the statements which relate to the exalted Christ
('reflection' and 'stamp'). 'Both terms attest that in Jesus Christ
God's nature and his glory can be seen.
(Kuschel, Born Before All Time?, p. 356.)
- So, the Christology of Hebrews is not a
pre-existence Christology but primarily a Christology of exaltation. The
author is not concerned with primal time, but with the status of
Christ as regent in the present which ensures our salvation. The
foundations of the new Messianic age - the new heavens and the new earth -
will be firmly laid on Messiah's throne (v. 10-12). The original intention
of the writer of Psalms 102, is to speak about the coming Messianic age of the
Kingdom which is to be centered in Jerusalem. This is a prophecy that "will be
written for the generation to come; that a people yet to be created
may praise YAHWEH" (Ps. 102.18). The Psalmist anticipates the day when
Jerusalem will be restored under Messiah. This Messianic agent through
which GOD will speak will be the one
"to establish [literally, 'plant'] the heavens; to found the earth, and to say to Zion, You are my people' " (Is. 51.16).
The Word Bible Commentary says of these verses:
- This makes no sense if it refers to the
original (Genesis) creation ... In other
instances God acts alone using no agent (Isa. 44.24). Here the one
he had hidden in his hand is his agent. Heavens and land refers
metaphorically to the totality of the order in Palestine. Heaven
means the broader overarching structure of the empire, while "land" is the
political order in Palestine itself.
- This makes no sense if it refers to the original (Genesis) creation ... In other instances God acts alone using no agent (Isa. 44.24). Here the one he had hidden in his hand is his agent. Heavens and land refers metaphorically to the totality of the order in Palestine. Heaven means the broader overarching structure of the empire, while "land" is the political order in Palestine itself.
Thus, the series of truths being mentioned in these verses in Hebrews 1 refer to the time when GOD re-introduces His now glorified Son, His "first-born into the world" (Heb. 1.6). If there is still any doubt that this is the correct interpretation the writer states in Heb. 2.5:
"For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking".
All the prophetic announcements of Hebrews 1 relate to the Messianic age to come! His concern is not with the old Genesis creation but with the new world in mind. Hebrews 1 speaks about the Son being the king of Israel, and mentions a throne, a scepter and a Kingdom with no end.
In that Messianic age when the Son sits on the throne, he stills has One above him whom he calls his "GOD": "Therefore God, your GOD, has anointed you with the old of gladness above your companions" (Heb 1.9). One should now realize that Hebrews 1.8-10 is not saying that Jesus is Almighty GOD or any other deity. The reason is that it specifically states that the Son has a GOD who anointed him. If Jesus is Almighty GOD and has a GOD above him, then there are two Gods/deities. This is an utter impossibility to the writers of the Scriptures.
Dear Readers, my above comments on Hebrews 1 are mostly based upon a book titled
"They never told me this in church!", by Greg S. Deuble (p. 232-238) -
available from http://www.abc-coggc.org/coggc/books.htm
I thoroughly recommend this book!
Concerning Hebrews 2:13-18
Firstly, the word "nature" is not even in 2:16 ... in fact the phrase "him the nature of" & the 2nd him are not present in the verse, hence, that is why they are in italics; because these words were added by the translators, they are not based on the Greek text. The word nature is not present in the Greek text of this verse! Hence, 2:16, no doubt was translated in such a way to bring about a trinitarian, pre-existing bias as you have picked up! ... seeing that the translators were reading a "God the Son" theology into the text. Heb 2:16 could equally be translated ...
- NKJV Hebrews 2:16
For indeed He does not give aid to
but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.
- New American
Standard Bible Hebrews 2:16
For assuredly He does not give help to angels,
but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.
- RSV Hebrews 2:16
For surely it is not with angels
that he is concerned
but with the descendants of Abraham.
- New RSV Hebrews
2:16 For it is clear that he did not
come to help angels,
but the descendants of Abraham.
- American Standard
Version Hebrews 2:16 For verily not
to angels doth he give help,
but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham.
- New American
Bible Hebrews 2:16 Surely he did not
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
- English Standard
Version Heb 2:16 For surely it is
not angels that he helps,
but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
- NKJV Hebrews 2:16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels,
- Hopefully, you get
the gist of what this verse is saying ...
It has absolutely nothing to with "nature", whether divine or otherwise!
Verse 16 simply appears to be saying that it was 'the children of Abraham' that Christ came to help.
Dunn concerning the writer of Hebrews states:
- It would certainly go beyond our evidence to conclude that the
author has attained to the understanding of God's Son as having had
a real pre-existence. In short, a concept of
pre-existent sonship, yes; but the pre-existence perhaps more of an idea and purpose
in the mind of God than a personal divine being.
- It would certainly go beyond our evidence to conclude that the author has attained to the understanding of God's Son as having had a real pre-existence. In short, a concept of pre-existent sonship, yes; but the pre-existence perhaps more of an idea and purpose in the mind of God than a personal divine being.
- The word
'also' in v. 14 is simply to strengthen the special point of the writer's
emphasis of the humanity of Jesus.
The earliest followers of Jesus indeed emphasized the humanity of Jesus.
Concerning my thoughts on 2:13-18, I believe George Wesley Buchanan makes an excellent exegesis.
He points out that the expression in the Greek text of v. 14 is actually "blood and flesh":
The expression "flesh and blood" is a customary Jewish and Christian idiom meaning human nature, especially as distinct from divine nature (Matt 16:17; I Cor 15:50; Gal 1:16; Eph 6:12; Nazir 9:5; Sotah 8:1). ... The idiom used by the author of Hebrews, however, was "blood and flesh." This was the blood and flesh which Jesus shared equally with the children, and may not have referred specifically to human nature at all. The expression may have taken human nature for granted, but meant to specify that among the human beings that existed on earth, Jesus was of the same "blood and flesh" as other children of Abraham; they were all fellow Israelites and belonged to the same family tree (see Deut 17:15).
- 2:16: For he
certainly does not prefer [take] angels but he prefers [takes] the seed of
The word translated "prefer" (epilambanetai) means to seize, lay hold of, attack, come up to, reach, or obtain. It is a slight variant from anti-lambanetai, with the same meanings essentially, in the following LXX quotation
- 8 "But
you, Israel, my son Jacob, whom I chose (exelexamen—Hebrew
behartika). [the] seed of Abraham, whom I loved
9 whom I took (antelabomen — Hebrew hehezaqtika, "laid hold of")
from the boundaries of the earth . . ." (Isa 41:8-9).
- 8 "But you, Israel, my son Jacob, whom I chose (exelexamen—Hebrew behartika). [the] seed of Abraham, whom I loved
- The author must
have had a LXX text which had some variants. He shows no sign of wanting to
vary the meaning from its Old Testament context. As he used the compound
word "take," he meant, as did the LXX translator by his form of the
compound, to "take" by choosing, to take one thing in preference to
another. The angels have not been mentioned since [Heb. 2] vs. 9,
but they continue to be involved in the comparison with the Son. Here,
however, the claim is made that Jesus was not only greater than the angels,
but that the Israelites were also given preference over
angels. Paul was also of the same opinion. He claimed that the
saints were destined to judge angels (I Cor 6:3). In the
Isaiah passage, the subject was God who did the choosing, loving, and
taking. As before, the author changed the subject to Jesus who chose (took)
the seed of Abraham rather than angels, but the object remains the
same. It is Israel, Jacob, or the children of Abraham who were the chosen,
the brothers, and the sons of whom the Son was not ashamed. ... The
author of Hebrews held that Jesus and the sons of Abraham were "all
from one" (2:11) father, namely Abraham. He shared equally with the
children of Israel in blood and flesh; he belonged to the
same basic ancestry. This strongly suggests that the author of Hebrews and
the community for whom he prepared this document were all members of some
TO THE HEBREWS, G.W. Buchanan, (1985), p. 34, 35-36
- So, in conclusion
then, the writers of John's Gospel and the book of Hebrews, do not contradict
the Gospels of Matthew & Luke, who clearly have no knowledge of a
pre-existent Jesus, of a Messiah who personally pre-existed his own
conception. More and more Biblical scholars are coming to the
realization of this fact.
They see no personal pre-existence in the Gospel of John nor in the book of Hebrews.
- Professor C.B. Caird of
Oxford University wrote, "The Jews had believed only in the preexistence of
a personification. Wisdom was a personification, either of a divine
attribute, or of a divine purpose, but never a
person. Neither the fourth Gospel nor Hebrews speaks of the
eternal Word or Wisdom of God in terms which compel us to regard it as a
(The Development of the Doctrine of Christ in the New Testament, p. 79)
- Professor C.B. Caird of Oxford University wrote, "The Jews had believed only in the preexistence of a personification. Wisdom was a personification, either of a divine attribute, or of a divine purpose, but never a person. Neither the fourth Gospel nor Hebrews speaks of the eternal Word or Wisdom of God in terms which compel us to regard it as a person."
- Matthew speaks of the genesis
[beginning] of Jesus Christ [Matt. 1.18]. Jesus began just
like every human being (except of course Adam & Eve) in the womb of their
mother. Granted, Jesus' genesis/beginning was like no other, nevertheless,
he began in the womb
of his mother.
John, like the writer of Hebrews, views a pre-existence of the plan of GOD concerning His Son.
Jesus' pre-existence is a notional pre-existence. He pre-existed as an idea in the plan of GOD. GOD foreordained him. And in the fulness of time, that plan was executed, that idea was made flesh resulting in the conception of Jesus the Messiah.
Almighty GOD had him in mind when He created all things, when He created the ages; especially the age to come, the new heavens & the new earth; in which Jesus will rule as Lord of all, to the glory of GOD the Father.
May GOD continue to bless you in the knowledge of God,
and of Jesus our Lord,