Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD



Enjoy!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jesus of Nazareth: Messiah and Son of God by Sidney A. Hatch

Jesus of Nazareth: Messiah and Son of God

by Sidney A. Hatch, Th.M.

Part One

When one abandons Trinitarianism, he is immediately confronted by the question, Who, then, is Jesus? My own experience has been a gradual shift from Trinitarianism to Arianism to Socinianism. (I use these terms loosely, only as they pertain to the person of Christ.) Having made the shift, I realize now it may be expressed in another way: from trinitarianism to binitarianism to biblical unitarianism. I hasten to add, however, that my conversion has not been made within the context of dogmatics or an exploration of theological systems. It has been made within the exegetical experiences of a pastor. And here I must mention several things, before explaining why I believe Jesus is Messiah and Son of God, not "God the Son."

As a pastor, most of my study time has been in the Scriptures, not in theological textbooks, although the latter were always at hand for reference. This is normal, I believe, to the pastoral life, and is the way it should be, if one is to obey Paul's injunction, "Preach the word." [1]

However, I believe that the pastor's lesson or message preparation must begin with an examination of a passage in its Hebrew or Greek text. [2] This is an imperative and, I feel, is mandatory, if a pastor or any student of the Scriptures is to ascertain for himself what Scripture really says. A door of discovery is opened, [3] and deliverance from "translation theology" is at hand.

As I look back over the years, I did not set out to study myself out of or into a position. I believed that the so-called orthodox theology received in seminary was true - even virtually infallible! And so my purpose, almost always, was simply to prepare a message or lesson for presentation. But that is where discovery entered in - from simple attempts to exegete a passage of Scripture, in order that I might expound it more accurately to a congregation or class.

For these reasons, I believe my theological transition has been providential. And for these reasons, I present here primarily the Scripture texts that have influenced me, not the polemics of theology. I believe, therefore, that Jesus of Nazareth is God's Son and the Messiah for the following reasons.

i. The Scriptures Present His Birth and Human Development.

Luke 1:35 is the angel Gabriel's explanation of the birth of a human being, not the incarnation of a deity. The creative power of God overshadowed Mary and provided that which a human father would necessarily provide. But since God was providing it - creating it - that which was being begotten in her would be called "Son of God," not "God the Son."

Alfred Plummer, in his commentary on Luke, points out the parallel between Luke 1:35 and Genesis 1:2. [4] As the Spirit of God moved upon the waters at creation, so the creative power of God moved upon Mary. Luke 1:35, then, describes the creation of the Messiah.

Here, then, is the explanation of John's phrase, "only begotten Son." [5] It must be understood in a biological sense (albeit miraculous), not a metaphysical one. Jesus was the result of a miraculous supernatural biological event upon Mary. He was the only begotten Son of God, not the only incarnated God. Created in the womb of Mary, he was born into the world. The first Adam, by way of contrast, was formed from the soil of the earth.

Subsequently, Luke 2:40 and 52 present a normal human development of Jesus, although by the word "normal" we do not rule out the grace or favor of God being upon him. There was a steady advance in wisdom, stature or bodily size, and favor before God and man. Thus "docetism" [6] is ruled out, and here also is the explanation of that marvelous episode which we commonly call "the boy in the Temple." [7] The latter is not an instance of deity shining through, but of that ideal increase in wisdom which God would like all men to have, and which He intended the first Adam in Eden to experience.

ii. The Scriptures Clearly Assert the Humanity of Christ to the Exclusion of Deity

Here I must begin with a negative note. Those impressive Greek words theanthropos and homoousios [8] are not found in the Greek New Testament. The adjective "theanthropic" is a part of the English language. But this does not make it a biblical word - or add it to the text of Scripture. So also homoousios has become a part of our language. But the Spirit of God has denied it access to Holy Writ. Edwin Hatch, in his book, The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity, explains that homoousios first occurs in the sphere of Gnosticism. [9]

I mention these matters because, unless we are able to free ourselves from the "pitiless iron vise" [10] of theological formulations, we are unable to receive the plain words of Scripture. It is with relief, then, that we consider a small portion of the biblical evidence in favor of the above proposition.

Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, describes "Jesus of Nazareth" as "a man approved of God." [11] The word which Luke puts in Peter's mouth is aner which simply means a man or human being, a male person of the human race. [12]

Peter goes on to say that God has raised this person from the dead, because it was not possible for him to be held by death. But this was not because he was deity - in that case he could not really have died. It was because his prophesied destiny was to be raised from the dead and sit at God's right hand. [13]

In 1 Timothy 2:5, the Apostle Paul asserts the unity of God. "There is one God" or, possibly, "God is one." (This passage must take its place along with 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Ephesians 4:6 as a New Testament text asserting a nontrinitarian God.)

But as there is one God, so also there is one mediator. The thought here, I believe, is "the mediator is one." [14] God is one in His essence or nature; so also the mediator is one in his nature. And that nature is anthropos or humanity! The stress here is on the humanity of Christ. [15]

We now turn to the simple and clear testimony of John in his first Epistle. There John definitely distinguishes between the Father and the Son, [16] and the Son he defines as "in flesh" or a human being. [17] The proper relationship between God and Christ Jesus is simply that of Father and Son, [18] not God the Father and God the Son.

First John 5:20 speaks of "him that is true" and "the true God." A careful exegesis of this verse indicates that "the true God" is the God of heaven. He is known through His Son Jesus Christ. It is an astonishing fact of Scripture that, in the writings of John, Christ is never called "the true God" or, in the Greek, ho alethinos theos. [19] This point is not refuted by such passages as John 1:1 or John 20:28. (See my discussion below.)

I close this second proposition with a brief reference to Revelation 22:16. There we learn that at God's right hand in heaven is one who is "the root and the offspring of David." This is a Messianic title and is telling us that it is the Messiah who is there in heaven, not the second person of a triune God.

The word "root" is used here in the Hebrew sense of a root or scion growing from the root. [20] To say that our Lord is "the root and the offspring of David" is an emphatic way of indicating his descent from David.

We are entitled here to some remarkable inferences. A glorified man and a glorified descendant of David, a Jew, is at God's right hand. And if he is a human being and a descendant of David, he could not have preexisted his birth in Bethlehem. Only by inventing a theanthropic being can theology get around the truth of Revelation 22:16.

At the risk of belaboring our point, I would point out that Revelation 22:16 also refutes transmutation theories. In this ascension to heaven there is no conversion of Jesus' humanity into deity. [21] "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" [22] must be taken, not in a metaphysical sense, but in a Jewish Messianic sense. The Man of Galilee was a human being, a descendant of David, when he walked this earth. He remains the same in his exaltation and glorification, and he will be that in his reign over the earth when every knee will bow to him. [23]

iii. The Mystery of Christ's Preexistence Resides in the Omniscience and Purpose of God

If Christ is a human being - an anthropos - who first came into existence in the womb of Mary, the question of his preexistence is settled. Scripture passages which seem to indicate an actual preexistence must be interpreted in the light of this fact; more specifically, in the light of the biology of Luke 1:35.

However, I am well aware that, to the traditional mind, the problem cannot be dismissed out of hand. We must consider several significant passages of Scripture, namely John 1:1-14, 1 Corinthians 15:45-47, Philippians 2:5-12, and perhaps one or two others. Furthermore, this is consistent with our approach in this article. I begin, therefore, with the opening verses of John's Gospel.

The key to the introduction of John's Gospel is the phrase ho logos. It must be understood in an etymological way, not in a Gnostic, Greek, or philosophical way.

In its simplest sense, logos means a spoken word, a saying, a declaration, speech, or discourse. Here in John 1:1 ho logos means "the spoken word" or "the declaration."

The subject of John 1:1-5 is the spoken word of God. It was "in [the] beginning" or "at first." All things began with it. It was with God, and it was theos. Here theos has the force of the Hebrew elohim which means the putter forth of power. [24] Certainly at creation the spoken word of God was a putter forth of power!

We read in John 1:3, then, that all things were made by the logos or spoken word, this theos or elohim, this putter forth of power. In English we would say, "All things were made by it," not "by him." This is confirmed by Psalm 33:6-9 which says, "By the word [Hebrew dabar] of the LORD were the heavens made. . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."

Finally, we read in John 1:14 that "the Word" - the spoken word - became flesh and dwelt among us. Hence we have here an incarnation of God's message, not an incarnation of a preexistent spirit being. This is in keeping with Hebrews 1:1, 2 which tells us that in many ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us in the person of a Son.

I turn now to 1 Corinthians 15:45-47. Here is another passage which is sometimes taken to indicate a deity and incarnation of Christ, but which really indicates his humanity.

In verse 45 we read: "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." The question is, Does the word "spirit" indicate that Christ preexisted as a spirit being? He is called here "a quickening" or "life-forming spirit." The Greek word is zoopoieo and speaks of resurrection from the dead. In his resurrection our Lord became a "life-forming spirit," a capacity or ability which will be exercised to the fullest at his parousia. [25] Hence the word "spirit" refers to Christ in resurrection, not in preexistence.

In 1 Corinthians 15:47 we read: "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven." These, of course, are the familiar words of the King James Version. In agreement with the textual evidence, and most modern translations, we must leave out the phrase, "the Lord." Hence we have: "the second man [is] from heaven."

The first part of verse 47 obviously refers to the creation of Adam as recorded in Genesis 2:7. The second part refers to Christ, but in what way? The idea of preexistence is eliminated by the removal of the phrase, "the Lord." The International Critical Commentary says "from heaven" (ex ouranou) refers to the Second Advent. [26] H.A.W. Meyer says the phrase ex ouranou is used of "heavenly derivation" and applies to the glorification of the body of Christ. This glorification originated from heaven or, in other words, it was a work wrought by God. [27]

We begin, therefore, to understand the significance of the phrase "from heaven" or "out of heaven" (ex ouranou). It refers to a work wrought or created by God. Jesus, therefore, is "from heaven" or "out of heaven" in the sense that he is a work wrought by God. He is the only-begotten Son, created in the womb of Mary.

(Compare also the reference in 2 Corinthians 5:2 to our resurrection body. [28] It is "from heaven" or, in Greek, ex ouranou. This does not mean that our resurrection body preexists in heaven, but simply that it too will be a work wrought by God.)

Now we must consider that crux of interpretation, Philippians 2:5-7. The King James Version expresses quite succinctly the orthodox view: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery 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."

From the preceding words, we gain the following impressions: (1) Christ preexisted in heaven in the form of God; that is to say, he was deity. (2) However, he considered not his equality with God as something to be grasped or held on to. (3) Consequently, he made himself of no reputation or emptied himself of his divine prerogatives, and (4) took upon himself the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. God the Son left heaven above and became incarnate.

We are all familiar with the chorus of the old hymn, "Ivory Palaces," which expresses the foregoing impressions in music and song. But, despite its beauty, is that what Philippians 2:5-7 really says? I do not think so, and make the following suggestions.

(1) The context of Philippians 2 is about humility, and the passage presents the humility of Christ in contrast with Adam's disobedience or lack of humility. [29]

(2) As the first Adam was in the form of God, so also the second Adam was in the form of God. The word "form" must be interpreted in its simple sense, not a philosophical sense. [30]

(3) Christ Jesus considered not an act of robbery so as to be equal with God. He resisted the blandishments of the devil. By way of contrast, Adam and Eve succumbed to the Satanic lie, "Ye shall be as gods [God]," [31] and took of the forbidden tree.

(4) Whereas Adam would have exalted himself, Christ "made himself of no reputation." Here the paraphrase of the King James Version is excellent. The Greek kenoo means to empty, but it does not mean that he emptied himself of the glory of deity and heaven. Rather, Jesus the Messiah emptied himself of all self-will and self-exaltation, and carried out his Father's will.

(5) In his life he assumed the role of a servant - the Servant of Jehovah - being made in the likeness of men. And, as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Consequently, God has highly exalted him, and to him every knee shall bow. [32]

Philippians 2:5-7 does not tell of a preexistent God who assumed human form. It tells, rather, of the humility, obedience, death, and exaltation of the Messiah. Jesus Christ lived to the fullest his own exhortation: "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [33] He demonstrated that humility is the passport to promotion in the Kingdom of God. [34]

Before bringing the discussion of our third proposition to a close, brief reference must be made to one more subject, the fact that Christ is called "the beginning" and "the beginning of the creation of God." [35]

The Greek word involved in these phrases is arche which means beginning, origin, first cause, ruler, etc. [36]
In Colossians 1:18 we read of Christ as "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." The meaning here should be obvious: as the firstborn from the dead, he is the beginning of God's congregation and new order of things for the Kingdom of God. As such, he has the preeminence.

But in Revelation 3:14 we read: He is "the beginning of the creation of God." It is here that a philosophical definition of arche may enter in and Christ is seen as "the first cause," as indicated by the lexicon of Arndt and Gingrich. But Arndt and Gingrich's lexicon goes on to say that the meaning "beginning" in the sense of first created is linguistically possible. [37] This need not mean "first created" in an Arian sense, but, in the light of the overall testimony of Scripture, may mean "beginning" of God's new order by virtue of his resurrection and glorification. [38]

Adolf Harnack, in his History of Dogma, explains how the Greeks combined Peter's words, "foreordained before the foundation of the world," [39] with the philosophical idea of Christ as the arche or "first cause" of creation. They then equated him with the Logos of the Greeks. "Cultured men," Harnack says, regarded the Logos as the beginning and principle of the creation! [40] But this is to read philosophical ideas into the Scripture-ideas which never entered the mind of Peter! Moreover, foreordination is something quite different from actual preexistence. I close this discussion of our third proposition by saying that foreordination - to be foreknown and in the purpose of God - is the only Scriptural preexistence of our Lord.


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Footnotes:

1 2 Timothy 4:2.

2 Cp. Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, trans. by G. T. Thomson, New York: Philosophical Library, n.d., 11, 12.

3 Psalm 119:18, 99, 162.

4 Rev. Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Luke (The International Critical Commentary), Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1922, 24.

5 John 3:16.

6 From the Greek word dokeo meaning to seem or have the appearance of something. To the Docetae of the second and third centuries, Christ only seemed to have a human body. His human body was phantasmal. Cp. Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, three vols. in one, Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1907, 670.

7 Luke 2:46-50.

8 "God-man" and "of the same substance" with God.

9 Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity, Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1970, 274. Gnosticism was a religious and philosophical movement in pre-Christian times and later. Here one must consult the Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.

10 An expression used by George H. Williams in The Radical Reformation, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962, 619. This is in his discussion of "The Relationship of Anabaptism and Anti-Trinitarianism," 617-21.

11 Acts 2:22.

12 Jesus, then, was not androgynous, as I once heard suggested. This idea, I submit, is offensive.

13 Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:24-36.

14 Cp. the translation of J. N. Darby, one whose "fundamentalist" credentials would be impeccable. The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages, London: Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 1940, p. 290 of the New Testament.

15 J. E. Huther, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Epistles of Timothy and Titus (The Meyer Commentary), New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1885, 97-98.

16 Ibid., 623.

17 1 John 4:8; cp. 2 John 7.

18 1 John 2:22-24.

19 Huther, 623.

20 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th revised and augmented ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952, 743.

21 George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus the Christ, (etc.), Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1952, III, 538-39.

22 Hebrews 13:8.

23 Philippians 2:10.

24 Rev. Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948, 26.
Cp. A. B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1907, 41. Cp. also the use of elohim in John 1:1 in Franz Delitzsch's Hebrew New Testament.

25 H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Epistles to the Corinthians, trans. from the 5th edition of the German by D. Douglas Bannerman, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884, 379-81.

26 Right Rev. Archibald Robertson and Rev. Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians, 2nd ed., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1914, 374.

27 Meyer, 382.

28 Meyer, ibid., calls attention to the occurrence of ex ouranou also in 2 Corinthians 5:2. The inference therefrom that Christ did not actually preexist is my own. But I believe my inference is justified and correct.

29 Darby, footnote "v" on Philippians 2:6, p. 275 of the New Testament. Here Darby says that this passage presents what is in contrast with the first Adam!

30 Cp. the discussion of the Greek morphe in H. A. A. Kennedy, The Epistle to the Philippians (The Expositor's Greek New Testament), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d., 435-36.

31 Genesis 3:5.

32 Philippians 2:8-10.

33 Luke 14:11.

34 Plummer, 358. Comment on Luke 14:11.

35 Colossians 1:18; Revelation 3:14.

36 Arndt and Gingrich, 111-12.

37 Ibid.

38 Here the interlinear translation of Alfred Marshall renders the passage, "the chief of the creation of God." The Reverend Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, London: Samuel Bagster and Sons Limited, 1958, 966.

39 1 Peter 1:20.

40 Adolf Harnack, History of Dogma, trans. from the 3rd German ed. by Neil Buchanan, Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1976, 328.

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Part Two


In Part One I explained that my transition from Trinitarianism to biblical unitarianism was within the context of my pastoral ministry, not theological polemics. It was my hope always to exegete a passage before teaching it, the result in my own life being the unitarian view. In that article I set forth three propositions: (I) The Scriptures Present Christ's Birth and Human Development, (II) The Scriptures Clearly Assert the Humanity of Christ to the Exclusion of Deity, and (III) The Mystery of Christ's Preexistence Resides in the Omniscience and Purpose of God.

iv. Certain Claims of Christ Indicate Humanity, Not Deity

There is a need to reexamine our Lord's claims and/or titles from a non-Trinitarian standpoint. They do not indicate membership in a Trinity at all. The unitarian aspect of Jesus' claims and titles needs to be brought out. I shall touch on several of them.

When Jesus asked the disciples, "Whom say ye that I am?" [1] Peter replied very simply, "Thou art the Christ" or "Messiah." Luke's account is a delightful variation but equally simple: "The Christ of God." [2] The Greek text has the definite article before "God" (theou). If we wish to be baldly literal, we could translate the sentence, "The Messiah of the [true] God." [3] Matthew's account adds "the Son of the living God" to Peter's testimony. [4] But this does not alter the simplicity of the Petrine testimony. As indicated earlier in this article (Proposition I), "Son of God" needs to be understood in a biological, albeit miraculous, sense.

I fear that in today's evangelical environment, a simple assertion of faith in Jesus' Messiahship would be deemed inadequate. But for Peter it earned the commendation of the Savior, and for John it was considered sufficient for salvation. [5]

In this connection, let us consider the theology of Thomas as indicated in his wonderful confession, "My Lord and my God." [6] First of all, any consideration of Thomas' theology must take into account his identity and background.

He was one of the twelve apostles, before and after Jesus' death and resurrection. [7] He was an Israelite, sent by the Lord Jesus to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [8] In today's parlance, he would simply be called a Jew.

Logically, then, Thomas' theology and faith would be that of the Hebrew Scriptures. This would include the pristine doctrine of the Old Testament, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord ." [9] Also, Thomas' knowledge of the Scriptures would certainly include something else: those who represent God are sometimes called "God" or "god." This would include Moses, [10] the judges of Israel, [11] the angels, [12] and more especially the Messiah. [13]

It is common knowledge that 'elohim is used in the Old Testament of those who represent God. On the other hand, the singular form 'eloah is used especially of the God of heaven. However, it is interesting that on a special occasion it is used of the Messiah. In Habakkuk 3:3 we read, "God ['eloah] came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise."

Habakkuk 3 is, I believe, a wonderful picture of the return of Christ in glory. It is the march to Zion. The Messiah is portrayed as advancing in triumph from Teman or "the south." His glory covers the heavens. He is "the Holy One," Jehovah's representative, and as such he is called "God" or 'eloah.

What then is Thomas saying when he exclaims, "My Lord and my God?"

"You are the Messiah," Thomas says in effect. "You are the One whom the prophets said would come. As such, you are 'my Lord.' As the One whom Jehovah has appointed to rule in the kingdom, you are 'my God.' "

Thomas is not saying, "You are the God of heaven" or "You are the equal of God." He does not see in the resurrected Jesus one who was a member of a pluralistic Godhead. Such thoughts would have been incomprehensible, even blasphemous, to Thomas. His faith existed in a different world.

There is a brief epilogue to the confession of Thomas. That he saw in Jesus the Messiah of Israel, the promised One of Scripture, is confirmed by John's words which follow in verse 31: "But these [signs] are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." I look upon John's words as being explanatory matter to Thomas' words.

The subject of Christ's claims or titles must include the phrase "I am" which occurs frequently in the Gospels. It invites exhaustive treatment and my examination here may therefore be cursory. I trust, however, that it will be sufficient to make my position clear. I observed as a pastor that the phrase "I am" is to many Christians irrefutable evidence that Jesus is claiming to be God. But is this what he is saying?

In the Olivet discourse, in Mark 13:6, Jesus says, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." The original Greek expression is ego eimi, "I am," and in translating it, the translators (KJV) have rightly supplied the word "Christ." Other translations have "I am he," but the point is the same.

Jesus is saying in effect that in later times many will come claiming his title and office. In doing so, they will say, "I am Christ" or "I am the Messiah." Recognition of this sense of "I am" in Mark 13:6 indicates that it means,
"I am the Messiah," not "I am God."

Further evidence as to the meaning of "I am" is in the parallel passage in Matthew 24:5. The Greek text of Matthew has the full expression, ego eimi ho christos, "I am the Christ." Perhaps Matthew was familiar with Mark's Gospel. It would indicate then how he interpreted Mark's words. He took them to mean "I am the Christ," not "I am God."

In Mark 14:61, 62 the high priest asked Jesus, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus replied simply, "I am" (ego eimi). The context requires that we interpret his words as meaning,
"I am, indeed, the Christ, the Son of the Blessed."

"I am" occurs frequently in the Gospel of John. There too it would mean, "I am the Messiah." This is proven by the familiar John 20:31 where the beloved disciple plainly says, "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God."

This would be true of John 18:5, 6 where Jesus said, "I am," and those who came to arrest him went backward and fell to the ground. For a moment, the Messianic power manifested itself.

This would be true also of John 8:58 where Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am" or, as various translations have it, "Before Abraham was born, I am."

It is argued that Jesus is saying here that he existed before Abraham. And, if he existed before Abraham, he must be God. Therefore we must understand John 8:58 to mean, "I am God."

But when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am," he simply meant that, even then, he was in the plan and purpose of God. This kind of "preexistence," being in the plan of God, prevails throughout the Gospel of John. Abraham had seen the glory of the Messiah and his day in prophetic vision. [14]

The "I am" of the New Testament is often identified with the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14 (KJV) where God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. However, to do that, I fear, is superficial "translation theology" based merely on an English translation, and not on the original text.

The two expressions are not identical and differ in several respects. The "I AM" of Exodus 3:14 is a translation of the Hebrew verb hayah which means "become, come to pass, occur, happen, appear," etc. It is the Hebrew "imperfect" or future tense and literally means, "I will become." In effect, God is saying to Moses, "I will appear on your behalf." [15]

The Hebrew hayah is a stronger verb than the Greek eimi of the New Testament. Hayah's Greek equivalent would be ginomai, not eimi. This is proven by the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, where the Hebrew hayah is most often translated by ginomai which means "become, come into being, be born, etc." [16]

It is not proper therefore to identify the "I am" of the Gospels with the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14. If the two expressions were identical, the Greek New Testament would probably have used the verb ginomai, not eimi.

In the "I am" of the New Testament, the emphasis is on the word "I," not "am." The "am" is simply the copula. Thus Jesus is saying, "I am the Messiah, not someone else." But in the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14, the emphasis is on the verb. No personal pronoun is present in the Hebrew text; it is simply a part of the verb form. Thus God is saying, "I will become" or "I will appear."

Mention must be made of such full expressions as "I am the bread of life," "I am the light of the world," "I am the good shepherd," "I am the first and the last," [17] etc. These are glorious aspects of our Lord's being the Messiah.

In the Old Testament, Jehovah is called the "Shepherd" and the "Light." [18] So as God's Messiah on earth, these titles and prerogatives are granted to the Lord Jesus.

In the light of the foregoing evidence, it is only fair to conclude that the phrase, "I am," when found on the lips of the Savior, means "I am the Messiah," not "I am God." The Scriptural evidence is against the latter interpretation. It may stem from a desire to exalt our Lord, but it must be recognized for what it is: reading trinitarian theology into Scripture.

Finally, in the category of claims and titles, we have in Jesus' own words a warning against a fulsome Christology a Christology which attributes to Jesus more than he claimed for himself.

That one whom we call "the rich young ruler" came to Jesus one day and asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is God." [19]

Our Lord's reply is, admittedly, difficult. His apparent rejection of any claims to a goodness of his own raises a host of questions too numerous to mention here. I share, though, several thoughts which have been helpful to me.

The word for "good" is agathos. It occurs not only here, but also in Matthew's and Mark's accounts of the rich young ruler. [20]

Agathos is both an adjective and a noun, and its usage is broad in the New Testament. According to Abbott-Smith's lexicon, it properly refers to "inner excellence." [21] When used of God, Thayer says, it refers to the fact that He is completely, perfectly, and essentially good. [22]

Jesus says that only God possesses this agathos or goodness. We may identify it with His principal attribute of holiness.

On the practical level, it means that God cannot sin. He could not sin, nor could he even be tempted to sin. [23] This is confirmed by 1 Timothy 1:17 which says that God is "immortal" or "incorruptible." The Greek word is aphthartos which means not liable to corruption. [24]

Here, then, is an astonishing thing. By saying what he does to the rich young ruler, Jesus rejects for himself agathos, that inner harmonious perfection which belongs only to God. In essence, he rejects this divine attribute of holiness and, on the negative side, he rejects incorruptibility.

This means, then, that our Lord's trials were real. We think of the temptation in the wilderness, and the agony in Gethsemane. There was on those occasions the possibility of failure to do God's will, of falling, of sinning. He was, indeed, liable to corruption.

I must agree with William Barclay who, in discussing Gethsemane, describes it an "agony" for our Lord, his "supreme struggle" in submitting his will to God's will. It was no play-acting, Barclay writes. The world's salvation hung in the balance and at that moment Jesus might have turned back. [25]

The very thought makes us shudder, but it is unavoidable and inescapable.

Before we turn away from such a thought, let us consider the other side of the matter: not only were our Lord's trials real, but his victories were also real. He was truly "a lamb without blemish and without spot." [26] He was qualified to become "the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." [27] Consequently, as Paul told the elders at Ephesus, "he hath purchased [us] with his own blood." [28]

Our Lord did have a certain goodness, a goodness unique in human history. It was the goodness which he acquired as he "increased (advanced) in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." [29] This was a goodness in growth - the possible goodness which Adam forfeited.

As the Captain of our salvation, he was made perfect through sufferings. [30] As our High Priest, he can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, for he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [31] As God's Son, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. [32]

This is the goodness which qualified him to be "the good shepherd" who gave his life for the sheep. [33] The word for "good" here in John 10:11 is not agathos, but kalos meaning morally excellent, noble, and worthy of recognition. [34] Certainly this describes the Lord Jesus!

"Orthodox" theology tells us it was not possible for Jesus to sin. [35] But Scripture presents to us something far more wonderful and dramatic: a victory over sin.

Alfred Plummer, in his comments on the rich young ruler, says that the title, "Good Master," was unknown among the Jews. It was, therefore, an extraordinary address, perhaps even a "fulsome compliment." [36] The words of the young man may have been not only excessive to our Lord, but also offensive. His response certainly indicates that.

In the light of our Lord's words to the young man, we must be careful that our conception of Jesus is not fulsome! We are not honoring or exalting him when we attribute to him what he himself rejected, and what belongs only to his heavenly Father.

v. The Ministry of Christ Indicates Messiahship, not Deity

In this division of my article I have in mind the miracles of Christ, his authority to forgive sins, his mission to "declare" (KJV) God, and his "equality" to God.

The Scriptures indicate that Jesus healed all who came to him. I think it is safe to say that there were no exceptions and no disappointments. What is the secret of this amazing success? Was it intrinsic deity or was it something else?

Luke tells us, "The whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all." [37]

The Greek word for "virtue" is dunamis. In this context it means "power" or "energy." A special power, a dynamic force, emanated from Jesus' person. He did not need to say anything. His presence alone was sufficient to heal. [38]

In the epoch of the Book of Acts, Peter and Paul had this same power. [39] As Peter walked by, people were healed. The power of the apostles was in keeping with the promises of Mark 16:17, 18 and Acts 1:8.

It is a rather common assumption that Jesus' power to heal came from an attribute of deity. He limited himself, but when the occasion required, he called on those divine powers. Even The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, in its article "Miracle," says that the miracles of Christ are "eloquent evidence" that he possessed powers which belonged to God Himself. [40]

If by this statement the writer meant that Jesus was God, I must point out that Luke 6:19 gives a different reason for his healing power. Jesus healed because his Father gave him a dunamis or healing dynamic.

Our Lord's response to the imprisoned John the Baptist tells us that he considered his miracles to be evidence that he was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, the One who, if accepted, could usher in the Messianic Era. [41] Also, we must not overlook his reliance on prayer before working a miracle. [42]

What about Jesus' authority to forgive sins? Does that prove him to be God? In seeking an answer to this question, we can do no better than consider the wonderful story of the paralytic let down through the roof. [43] In that story, Jesus forgave the man's sins. Then, to the astonishment of the crowd, he healed him.

In Mark 2:10, 11 Jesus explains why he healed the paralytic: "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins . . . I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."

"Power" in this passage means "authority." And "Son of man" is equivalent to "a human being."

Here, then, is the reason our Lord healed the paralytic: to demonstrate that a human being on earth could have authority to forgive sins. That human being, of course, was our Lord. He was the Messiah, the one provided by God through the virgin birth.

The scribes misunderstood our Lord's motives in forgiving the paralytic's sins. "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" [44] Like a later form of "orthodoxy," they read into this miracle a claim to deity. But if we read the passage carefully, we see that our Lord is not claiming deity, he is claiming "authority."

The healing of the paralytic demonstrates a great truth: to a "human being," the "Son of man," God gave authority to forgive sins. [45]

I come now to the ministry of Jesus as the one who "declared" God. In this aspect of his ministry we find an answer to the question, How is Jesus the Word of God?

The Apostle John has written: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." [46]

I have considered already, under Proposition I, Jesus being the only begotten Son. The statement that he is "in the bosom of the Father" indicates, I believe, a favored relationship with his Father. [47] However, the final part of the verse tells us that Jesus is the Word of God because he "hath declared" God.

"Declared" is the translation of the verb exegeomai which means "to tell, explain," or unfold in teaching. [48] This is its usage in Scripture. From exegeomai come our words "exegete" and "exegesis."

Our Lord is the Word of God because he is the exegete of God. He has explained God. He had a "commandment" or commission from God as to what he should say. [49] Finally, in his "unfolding" of God, we must include his miracles or "signs," and his life, death, and resurrection.

Our Lord is not the Word of God because he was at creation. On that occasion God spoke directly, not "in a Son." (To speak "in a Son" comes much later.) Finally, John 1:14 tells us that "the Word [not God] was made flesh."

How is Jesus the Word of God? As the only begotten Son, he has explained God. He has unfolded him in his life and work, and in his redemption at Calvary. [50]

What now about the assertion, sometimes encountered, that Jesus was "equal" to God? A passage sometimes cited to "prove" this contention is John 5:18: "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."

"Equal" is our English translation of the little Greek word isos which means "equal, like, the same," or "in agreement." Instances of this last meaning of the word are found in Mark 14:56 and 59 where the testimonies of those who witnessed against Jesus "agreed not together."

Thus we have several possible senses to John 5:18. By saying God was his Father, Jesus made himself equal with God, like God, the same as God, or in agreement with God!

In John 5:18 Jesus aspires to be like God in the latter's will and work. As God's Son, his will must agree with or be identical to his Father's will.

That likeness to or equality with God's will and work is the meaning of John 5:18 is indicated by the context of verses 17-31. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." This involves complete submission and identification with the Father's will (verse 19). It will even involve "greater works": quickening the dead, judgment, etc. But in no sense will it include essential deity. Rather, it will always involve doing "the will of the Father which hath sent me" (verse 30).

Before forming our conclusion, however, one other passage must be considered. In John 10:30 Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." Again the thought is "one" in purpose, will, and work, not one in essence.

The Greek word here for "one" is hen. It is a neuter form and so A.T. Robertson sees in it an indication of oneness in essence. [51] However, Marcus Dods, writing in The Expositor's Greek Testament, says that Christ speaks here as an ambassador might speak. The ambassador is doing the sovereign's will. He does not claim royal dignity, but asserting that what he does, the sovereign does. [52]

H.A.W. Meyer claims that oneness of essence must be "presupposed" in the fellowship indicated by the words of John 10:30. But he also writes that the orthodox interpretation, which makes this verse refer to unity of essence, goes beyond the discussion in the passage. Meyer writes here of "dynamic fellowship" or "unity of action." Even Calvin, he says, rejected the idea of unity of essence in John 10:30. [53]

Unity of purpose and action is, indeed, the thought in our Lord's claim, "I and my Father are one." There is no need to read unity of essence into his words.

vi. Conclusion: The Practical Value of a Biblical Unitarian View of Christ.

"Of what value is this view to me?" To the man or woman in the church pew on Sunday morning, this is the "bottom line" of any doctrine. Unless some intrinsic value can be demonstrated, it remains, to all practical purposes, grist from the mills of theologians.

To the biblical unitarian there is a glorified man, not a glorified god, at the right hand of the Father in heaven. A victorious anthropos is our Mediator [54] and our Advocate (parakletos). [55]

Where, I would ask, is the victory in the essentially Gnostic idea that a heavenly spirit assumed a human body? [56] The humanity of Christ is the common bond with our Savior. This, I believe, is theology's "original intent."

In the great story of the book of Job, Elihu comes to speak for God. He is the mediator. [57] In the midst of his suffering, Job has cried out, "[God] is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment." [58] But when Elihu appears on the scene, he says, "Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. . . . Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay." [59] That is to say, "Hear my words, Job; I also am a human being!"


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Footnotes:

1 Mark 8:29 (KJV). Scripture quotations throughout the article are from the Authorized or King James Version.

2 Luke 9:20.

3 The Greek phrase is ton christon tou theou. Do the articles have demonstrative force here? Perhaps the significance is: "the Messiah of the one true God." On the occasional significance of the definite article in the Hebrew phrase ha elohim, see Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, as ed. and enlarged by the late E. Kautzsch, 2nd English ed., rev. in accordance with the 28th German ed. (1909) by A.E. Cowley, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1910, section 126(d), 405.

4 Matthew 16:16.

5 Matthew 16:17; 1 John 5:1.

6 John 20:28.

7 Mark 3:18; Acts 1:13.

8 Matthew 10:6.

9 Deuteronomy 6:4.

10 Exodus 4:16; 7:1.

11 Exodus 21:6; 22:8. Hebrew elohim.

12 Psalm 8:5; possibly Psalm 82:1, 6. Hebrew elohim.

13 Psalm 45:6; Isaiah 9:6.

14 In John 8:12 Jesus has said, "I am the light of the world." In John 9 he proves this claim by opening the eyes of the man born blind. Hence the sense of John 8:58 may be, "I am the Messiah, the Light of the World." The marginal readings of verse 58 (RSV, NEB), and the Greek text of the phrase, "Before Abraham was," may indicate that the passage looks to the future rather than the past. But this is another question and does not alter the simple Messianic sense of "I am" in verse 58.

15 Cf. the article on the verb hayah in the various Hebrew lexicons, e.g. Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, etc., 1st ed., 1907, reprinted with corrections, 1955, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 224-28.

16 Cf. G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 3rd ed., Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1937, 92.

17 Revelation 1:17.

18 Psalm 23:1; 27:1.

19 Luke 18:18, 19.

20 Matthew 19:16, 17; Mark 10:17, 18.

21 G. Abbott-Smith, op. cit., 2.

22 Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, etc., corrected ed., New York: American Book Company, 1889, 2.

23 Isaiah 6:3; Matthew 5:48.

24 Thayer, op. cit., 88.

25 William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, etc., 2nd ed., Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1958, II, 385.

26 1 Peter 1:19.

27 John 1:29.

28 Acts 20:28.

29 Luke 2:52.

30 Hebrews 2:10.

31 Hebrews 4:15.

32 Hebrews 5:8.

33 John 10:11.

34 Ethelbert W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, etc., London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1886, 336. W. J. Hickie, Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, etc., New York: The MacMillan Co., 1945, 95.

35 This is the so-called doctrine of impeccability. Cf. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948, V, 50-51, 77-78.

36 Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke, 5th ed., The International Critical Commentary, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1922, 422.

37 Luke 6:19.

38 Luke 8:46.

39 Acts 5:15, 16; 19:12.

40 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1939 ed., s.v. "Miracle," Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1946, III, 2064.

41 Matthew 11:2-6; cf. Isaiah 35:5, 6.

42 John 11:41.

43 Mark 2:1-12.

44 Mark 2:7.

45 Compare also that authority to forgive or judge sins given to men in John 20:22, 23 and Acts 5:1-11.

46 John 1:18.

47 Cf. John 5:20; 13:23; cf. also Luke 16:22.

48 Cf. Thayer, op. cit., 223, and the lexicons.

49 John 12:49, 50.

50 1 John 4:10.

51 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1932, V, 186.

52 Marcus Dods, The Gospel of St. John, The Expositor's Greek Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, n.d., I, 794.

53 H.A.W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of John, trans. from the 5th ed. of the German by Rev. William Urwick, rev. and ed. by Frederick Crombie, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884, 330.

54 1 Timothy 2:5.

55 1 John 2:1.

56 Cf. Adolph Harnack, History of Dogma, trans. from the 3rd German ed. by Neil Buchanan, Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1976, I, 239. I would call the reader's attention to the evidence presented by Harnack in Volume I, Chapter IV, "The Attempts of the Gnostics to Create an Apostolic Dogmatic, and a Christian Theology; or, The Acute Secularising of Christianity," 223-66.

57 Cf. The Companion Bible, etc., London: The Lamp Press Ltd., n.d., 705, marginal comment.

58 Job 9:32.

59 Job 33:1, 6.

______________________________________


The above article is taken from: 

http://thefaithofjesus.blogspot.com/2007/08/jesus-of-nazareth-messiah-and-son-of.html

http://www.abc-coggc.org/jrad/volume1/issue3/jrad_v01.3_art2.htm

http://www.abc-coggc.org/jrad/volume2/issue1/jrad_v02.1_art4.htm

The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ - A Personal Testimony by Sidney A. Hatch

The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
A Personal Testimony by Sidney A. Hatch *


My transition from Trinitarianism to unitarianism has been a gradual one. Over thirty years ago, I observed in Scripture that the Holy Spirit was the power of God, not a "third person." Here I can only mention several salient features of this experience, features which may be familiar to many of my readers. I noticed the interchange of terminology which Luke uses regarding the Holy Spirit. In Luke 24:49, he calls the Holy Spirit "power from on high." In Acts 1:5, he refers to the Holy Spirit as "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit" (there is no article in the Greek text). Hence the Holy Spirit is, indeed, simply God’s power from on high.

The terminology in the Greek text for Holy Spirit caused a significant shift in my thinking. The word for "spirit" (pneuma) is neuter in gender. Translators, if they would, could easily use the pronoun "it," rather than "he," in reference to the Holy Spirit. Also to be taken into consideration was the phraseology for "Holy Spirit." Sometimes it is simply "Holy Spirit," sometimes
"the Holy Spirit." But the occurrence of the definite article does not indicate that the Holy Spirit is a person.

The Lord Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "the Comforter." But this is simply a matter of personification, a common literary device in Scripture. Paul personifies "charity" or "love" in 1 Corinthians 13. The writer of Proverbs personifies "wisdom" in chapter 8.

Finally, regarding the Holy Spirit, we must resort to simple logic. Mary, the mother of our Lord, was with child by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18-20). Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is a person, it follows then that the Holy Spirit is the Father of our Lord, an evidently impossible conclusion.

The simplest solution to this problem is to recognize that the Holy Spirit is the power of God, not a person. It is the power by which God operates throughout the universe, and by which Mary conceived a child.

I have several reasons for my conviction that the one God of Scripture is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Scriptural Reasons

1. Deuteronomy 6:4. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD." This is the famous "Shema" of Israel. It informs us that Jehovah is "one." The Hebrew term for "one" is echad meaning "one" in the sense of "alone, a single one." It is Jehovah alone who is God. The Hebrew word yachad means "one" in the sense of "union." But yachad is not the word in Deuteronomy 6:4.

2. Mark 12:29. Here Jesus reiterates the Shema to a scribe who had asked Him, "Which is the first [Le., most important] commandment of all?" (Mark 12:28). "First of all the commandments," our Lord says, "is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." From this answer, we may infer that the unity of God’s being is preeminent in the New Testament.
Obviously, the Lord Jesus was not a Trinitarian.

3. John 17:3. Here Jesus addresses His Father as "the only true God." He describes Himself as the one "whom thou hast sent." The word for "true" is alethinos, meaning "true" in the sense of real or genuine. Jesus does not claim deity here. He recognizes His Father as the only One who is truly God. For Himself, He claims to be the messenger of God, the Apostle of God.

4. John 14:28. Here are the familiar words of Jesus, "My Father is greater than I." It is a simple, unequivocal statement, meant to give assurance to the disciples on the eve of His departure.

Most of the writers whom I consulted here explain this passage as referring to His office or rank in the trinity (the subordination of the Son). Most interesting, however, was the explanation of H.A.W. Meyer. Meyer defends the Trinitarian position. But, at the same time, he sees here a reference to "the absolute monotheism of Jesus (xvii. 3) and of the whole N.T." [1] (The emphasis is Meyer’s.)

If we settle for the plain sense of Jesus’ words, our Lord was not a Trinitarian - nor did he claim to be God or Deity. His Father was "greater" because, in Jesus’ words, He was the only true God (John 17:3). But He, Jesus, was a human being, the Messiah, and God’s Son. But being God’s Son did not make Him a second God or the second person in a trinity; rather, it made Him the second or last Adam, and God’s ideal representative.

5. Ephesians 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." From this beautiful statement we learn two plain truths. The God of heaven was also the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, hence Jesus Himself was not God, but God’s Son who also worshiped the God of heaven.

6. Ephesians 4:4-6. Here are the seven unities of the Spirit. Jesus is identified as the "one Lord," that is, the Messiah. The God of heaven is the "ONE God and Father of all." There is no Trinitarianism in this passage.

7. 1 Corinthians 8:6, "But to us there is but one God, the Father. . . and one Lord Jesus Christ." Again the Father in heaven is the one God. Jesus is the "one Lord." Paul rules out the possibility of there being any other God. Jesus is God’s Messiah for the earth, the "one Lord."

8. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. The Son will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. The Son will also be subject to God, "that God may be all in alt." If the Son is to be subject to God, and God is to be "all in all," there is no room for another who may be called "God the Son."

9. 1 Timothy 2:5. This verse, especially in its Greek text, is an epitome of Biblical theology. "For one is God." Not three are God! And one is Mediator of God and men. But this second one is an anthropos, a human being.

10. Acts 7:56. Here is Stephen’s dying testimony. He saw the heavens opened, and a human being ("the son of man") on the right hand of God. Certainly he did not see a trinity of Gods.

11. Revelation 4:2. John sees one, not three, seated on the throne of heaven.

12. Revelation 7:10. God is seen seated on the throne of heaven. The other one in that great scene is identified as "the Lamb," not as the second person of a trinity.

II. Linguistic Reasons

1. In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let us make man." The plural "us" is sometimes taken as an intimation of the trinity. However, God is here speaking to His heavenly council, the "sons of Elohim" who surround Him and minister to Him. [2]

2. The Hebrew word elohim, "God," is actually masculine plural in form, as indicated by the ending "-im." Therefore some might infer that the one God is three persons.

But this plural form is a common feature of the Hebrew language and is called by various names, plural of excellence, plural of majesty, or plural of eminence. It is discussed at length in the Hebrew grammars. Compare Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, edited by Kautzsch, section 124, or A.B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax, p. 18. The latter says it expresses an intensification of the idea of the singular (p. 16). This is just the opposite of what Trinitarians would infer.

3. In Deuteronomy 6:4, we are told that "The LORD our God is one LORD." As indicated above, the Hebrew word for "one" is echad which means "one" in the sense of single one. The lexicon of Ludwig Koehler says that the sense of Deuteronomy 6:4 is that God is the only Jehovah: "der eine J., the only Y" (p. 27).

III. Practical Reasons

1. In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus reasserts the truth of Deuteronomy 6:4, that the Lord our God is one Lord. Three things are linked together in this passage: God is one; we are to love Him with all our heart, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Here, then, is the secret of loving God and loving man. When we recognize that God is one, He becomes a person whom we can love. And when we truly love God, we are granted the spiritual resources to love our fellow man.

2. In 1 John 5:1, we read that whosoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been begotten of God. This contradicts the Trinitarian insistence that unless one believes in the trinity, he cannot be saved.

3. The doctrine of the trinity is a philosophical abstraction, its origins being found in ancient Gnosticism. Who can comprehend a philosophical abstraction?

4. The Trinitarian, A.H. Strong, explains that the omniscience of God does not embrace matters which are self-contradictory and impossible. For example, God does not know what the result would be if two and two made five, nor does He knows of round squares, etc. These are not objects of knowledge. God, Strong says, cannot know self-contradiction and nonsense. [3]

I reply, then, that not even God could understand the doctrine of the trinity. The idea that one plus one plus one makes one is not an object of knowledge.

5. Trinitarianism breeds fear, in contrast to the Scriptural principle that "perfect love casteth out fear" (1 John 4:18). Many ordinary Christians find it incomprehensible, and absent from Scripture. But centuries of tradition and indoctrination have instilled in churchgoers a fear of abandoning it. The theologian who teaches it is alarmed at any opposition to it. The pastor or theologian who wishes to "rethink" the doctrine may find himself under peer pressure not to do so.

IV. Historical Reasons

1. In the history of Christendom, the doctrine of the trinity has not produced the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23). Rather, it has led to persecution and death. The Code of Justinian imposed the death penalty on those who denied the trinity, and the ugly record of the Inquisition is notorious. Only God in heaven knows how many earnest Christians have been put to death because they were loyal to the Scriptures rather than the trinity.

Thus the doctrine of the trinity has, throughout the centuries, maintained itself by force. This is in contrast to the Biblical principle that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (2 Cor. 10:4).

As we look back over the history of Christendom, we cannot help but ask ourselves if the existence of the United States, with its principle of religious liberty, is at least partly due to a desire to escape traditional European Trinitarianism. There appears to be a philosophical or idealistic connection between the Socinians of the sixteenth century, John Locke in the seventeenth century, Thomas Jefferson in the eighteenth century, and then the American "Bill of Rights," produced toward the end of the eighteenth century. One influenced the other.

2. Paul tells us that it is given to us in behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but to suffer for Him (Phil. 1:29). In the relationship between Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians, it is always the non-Trinitarian who suffers.

V. Prophetic Reason

Finally we consider the matter of Bible prophecy to be a powerful indicator that God is one, not three-in-one.

Many wonderful things will take place on the earth when Jesus returns. One of them is a universal recognition that God is one. The Trinitarian concept will be swept off the surface of the earth.

Zechariah 14:9 tells us that the unity or oneness of God will be the fundamental doctrine of the age to come. The passage, as it reads in the King James Version, says, "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one."

The translation of Isaac Leeser supplies the word "acknowledged," which better conveys the intent of the passage: "And the LORD will be king over all the earth: on that day shall the LORD be (acknowledged) one, and his name be one."

The Hebrew verb which Leeser has translated "be (acknowledged)" is hayah in its future or "imperfect" tense. This verb is much stronger than our English verb "to be," and has the sense of "become, occur, happen, appear," or "come about." However we take it, the thought is that it will become obvious to all the world that Jehovah is one.

Of added interest is the fact that the Hebrew word for "one" in Zechariah 14:9 is echad, "a single one." It occurs twice in this prophecy, and is the same word which occurs in the celebrated "Shema" of Deuteronomy 6:4, "The LORD our God is one LORD."

The Interpreter’s Bible provides an excellent comment here. The Kingdom of God, it says, will be established over all the earth, and the Jewish confession of faith, the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, will become the universal creed (VI, 1112).

________________________________


* From March 21-24, 1991, a conference of Biblical unitarians was held at Oregon, Illinois. The conference was sponsored by the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and Oregon Bible College, its educational institution. On March 22, Pastor Hatch spoke on the theme, "Why I Believe God Is One (not Three-in-One)," and on March 23 on the theme, "Why I Believe Jesus Is the Son of God (not God-the-Son)." The following [i.e. the above] article is a synopsis of remarks delivered on the first of these occasions.

Footnotes:

1 H.A.W. Meyer, Commentary on John, Funk and Wagnalls, 1884, 423.

2 Cf. A.B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament, T & T Clark, 1904, 129, 295.

3 See the discussion in Systematic Theology, Judson Press, 1907, 286.

 

 

________________________________

The above article is taken from: 

http://thefaithofjesus.blogspot.com/2007/09/god-and-father-of-our-lord-jesus-christ.html

http://www.abc-coggc.org/jrad/volume1/issue1/jrad_v01.1_art3.htm

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

THE BLASPHEMY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

THE BLASPHEMY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

…According to the Sanhedrin

By Juan Baixeras

The purpose of this paper is to examine the charges that were brought against Jesus that led him to be crucified. Were the charges that were brought against him that he was claiming to be God, or that he was claiming to be God’s anointed king of Israel? At the same time we will be examining in great detail whom the people thought that Jesus was, and more importantly who did Jesus think he was. In other words, did the people during Jesus’ ministry think that Jesus was claiming to be Almighty God in the flesh as Trinitarian theology claims, or was the conflict in accepting him as the promised Messiah, a man anointed by the Spirit of God from the line of David who would restore Israel to it’s former glory?

The New Testament’s most important function is to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah who will rule in God’s kingdom, and through whom we have forgiveness of sins. In no part of the New Testament does it try to claim or convince us that Jesus of Nazareth is really Almighty God. People throughout history have tried to use John’s gospel in order to try and prove this thought, but the verses that they have used in support of this idea have been taken completely out of context or just irresponsibly misinterpreted. John himself gives us the reason why he wrote his gospel in John 20:31:

"But these things have been written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God."

By using John’s gospel incorrectly to try and prove that Jesus is Almighty God in the flesh, people are actually saying that John doesn’t really know the truth about Jesus. These people are in effect claiming that they know more about John’s gospel than did John. I cannot think of a simpler or more clear way to say why John wrote his gospel than the way he said it in John 20:31. If the writers of the New Testament believed Jesus to be Almighty God it would have been so simple to just write one verse of explanation on this matter. Why didn’t they? They wrote on everything else. Just one verse saying something like, "Jesus who is Almighty God, the second person of the trinity, who came in the flesh," would not only have avoided almost 1800 years of conflict, but it would have been an actual necessity for the early church. When the Second Covenant inaugurated by Jesus made the Mosaic Law of the letter obsolete, that is, when the law of love fulfilled the Mosaic Law, there was great conflict among the early Christians. Paul wrote volumes in almost every letter of his explaining why the Old Covenant was no longer binding because of Christ. If it had been revealed in the New Testament that God was no longer one, as the Jews have always thought of God, but that now God was composed of three separate persons, this would to say the least, have created a major controversy among the early Christians. It would have required volumes of explanations in order to convince the Jews that it was truly so. Yet, there is not one sentence of explanation, nor one writer trying to convince anybody that God is now composed of three persons and not just one as the Jews have always thought of Him. This lack of conflict in the New Testament should be a big RED FLAG to anyone who thinks that the Doctrine of the Trinity is in the New Testament. The lack of conflict is alarming! This paper will not deal in explaining all those verses which some people claim support the Trinity, there are several papers listed at the end of this study which will do just that.

Before we proceed, there are a few titles and one Jewish custom that we must be familiar with in order to correctly understand the Bible. Jesus has several titles which are used for him which all mean the same thing. They are simply different ways of saying the same thing. I will not cover all these titles because most of them are self explanatory, but I will list an explanation of the meaning of "The Son of God" because this title has somehow by some groups been twisted to mean "God the Son," a title that appears nowhere in the Bible.

Messiah = Son of God = King of Israel = Son of Man = Christ = Son of David

All these titles mean the same thing. We will consult some sources and compare their conclusions to many verses in the Bible which use these titles together.

Son of God

- This title for Jesus has been given meanings and attributes that were never intended. People have erroneously used the human father-son relationship to describe this title of Jesus’. They have thought that since a human son has the actual essence (made of the same matter) of his father, that therefore, this title implies that Jesus being the Son of God is of the same essence of God. This conclusion will lead you right into the Doctrine of the Trinity. This is the formula they adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD when they said:

"The Son is of the same substance as the Father."

It was at this council that Jesus was first made God. The Holy Spirit interestingly enough was not included in the formula. It was included fifty-six years later at another council. Let’s see what this title really means:

Son of God - In the Old Testament Israel is described as God’s first-born (Exodus 4:22) and is called His son. There is therefore precedence for calling the Messiah "Son of God" for he is Israel’s representative par excellence (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 4 pg. 203-204).

"Son of God"

denotes an intimate relationship with the Father. It is obvious that sonship must not be understood in a crude pagan way. This bears out Dalman’s contention that the Hebrew concept of "son" does not denote an extensive circle of relationships" (Ibid, pg. 205). Adam was called the "son of God" (Luke 3:38), God calls King Solomon His "son" in

1 Chronicles 28:6.

For Paul, "Son of God" is essentially a Christological description expressing "the Son’s solidarity with God." Closeness to the Father is the basic meaning of "Son of God" (Ibid, pg 204). This closeness was a relationship that was shared by God’s anointed kings of Israel. Since Jesus is the ideal king of Israel, he is naturally the ideal Son of God. This is how the term came to be synonymous with Messiah and king of Israel. They are all different ways of saying the same thing.

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible

vol. 4 pg. 204 states:

"The last chapter of the first epistle of John makes every possible emphasis upon the principle that Sonship is the mark of Messiahship. The same is the case with the fourth gospel where the Son of God is synonymous with Messiah and occurs more frequently than any other title. Haenchen maintains that the same equation:

Messiah = Son of God = Son of Man

applies to Mark’s gospel. The same can be said of the rest of the New Testament."

Aspects of Monotheism

pg.90 states:

"The notion that the Davidic king was the son of God is well established in the Hebrew Bible in 2 Samuel 7:14 and in Psalm 2:7. It was only natural then that the coming messianic king should also be regarded as the Son of God. To say that the king was the son of God, however, does not necessarily imply divinization."

This is the meaning of the title "Son of God." Messiah = Son of God = king of Israel = Son of Man. The Messiah does have the closest and most intimate relationship with the Father. Now let’s see if the Bible agrees with the sources mentioned.

John 1:41&49:

"We have found the Messiah…Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel. "

John 11:27:

"I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God."

Matthew 26:63-64: "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus said to him in reply, ‘You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power."

Matthew 16:16: "You are the Messiah, the Son of God."

Mark 14:61: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? Then Jesus answered, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power."

Mark 15:32: "Let the Messiah, the king of Israel, come down from the cross that we may see and believe."

Luke 22:67-70: "If you are the Messiah tell us…Are you then the Son of God?"

John 19:3&7: "Hail king of the Jews, and they struck him repeatedly…according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."

Luke 23:35-37: "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God…If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

Luke 23:2: "He opposes taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king."

John 19: 19-21: "Pilate had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews’…So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews."

Mark 10:47: "He began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David."

There are many more verses, but I think these will suffice in order to keep this paper as short as possible. As you can see the title "Son of God" is used interchangeably or in conjunction with Messiah, King of Israel, Son of Man and Son of David. This is also verified in the Old Testament in Psalm 2:2-7 which uses "My son," "My king," and "Messiah" for the promised savior which is to come. Let’s review the Psalm:

"And princes plot against the LORD and His

Messiah…I myself have installed my king on Zion…You are my son, today I am your father."

The writers of the New Testament did not come up with new titles for the Messiah, they used titles that already existed in the Old Testament. Any other definition for Son of God will take away from the true meaning of the title into something that was never intended by its Jewish author.

Now let us look at the reason why Jesus was put to death. The reason the Bible gives us is that Jesus was put to death for blasphemy. Blasphemy for what? Was it for claiming to be God, or was it for claiming to be the Messiah, the king of Israel? Many groups who believe in the Trinity will use John 10:33 in order to claim that Jesus was indeed claiming to be God. This will contradict the reason John gives us of why he wrote his gospel, and it is also a gross misinterpretation of scripture. This verse will be explained later on in this paper.

Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and ultimately sentenced to death by them for the charge of blasphemy. In Jesus’ case the blasphemy was for claiming to be the Messiah. Nowhere in the New Testament do they ever say that the blasphemy was because he was claiming to be God. Let’s take a look at some very specific accounts of his trial.

Mark 14:60-64:

"The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, ‘Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?' But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Then Jesus answered, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ At this the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? They all condemned him as deserving to die."

Matthew 26:63-66:

"Then the high priest said to him, ‘I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God,' Jesus said to him in reply, ‘You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘He has blasphemed!’ What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy, what is your opinion? They said in reply, ‘He deserves to die!"

As you can clearly see, the question that the high priest put to Jesus was whether he was the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus answered, "I am," and that they will see him seated at the right hand of the Power (God), which is a reference to Psalm 110:1 which speaks of the Messiah seated at the right hand of God. When the high priest hears this he says, "He has blasphemed!" What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy," And they condemn him to die.

Nowhere is the charge that Jesus was claiming to be Almighty God. The charge is that he was claiming to be God’s anointed, the Messiah. Although the Old Testament does not give us this as a crime punishable by death, the New Testament does tell us that according to the Sanhedrin it was punishable by death. This is possible due to the fact that the Sanhedrin had expanded the laws of God in a way that was never intended by God. An example of this would be in their misinterpretation of keeping the Sabbath. Jesus had several confrontations with them because of their failure to understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. The Sanhedrin had extended the Law of the Sabbath to include such things as forbidding someone to tie a knot on the Sabbath because it was considered work, or throwing out dishwater on the Sabbath because that too was considered work. This was obviously not the intent of keeping the Sabbath. It is very possible that they had extended the law of blasphemy to include a vast array of things in order to suit their purposes.

Because of their own traditions, the Sanhedrin considered Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah as blasphemy and punishable by death. John 19:7 states:

"We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."

When Jesus is brought before Pilate the charge is the same, except that the only title that Pilate uses is "King of the Jews." I am sure the Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Pilate and used only this title of Jesus’ on purpose in order for it to have a political connotation so that Pilate would more easily sentence him to die. The Romans cared nothing of the Jew’s religion, but they did care about insurrection, and anyone claiming to be a king other than Caesar was considered to be a threat to the empire and would be severely dealt with. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ trial before Pilate.

Luke 23:14: "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt."

John 19:33,37&39: "So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this on your own behalf or have others told you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew am I?’…So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’…Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"

Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. In all the accounts of Jesus before Pilate, Pilate never asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, the anointed one, or any other title for Messiah. He is only concerned with the title "King of the Jews" because of its association with revolt. When Jesus asks him if he came up with this idea all by himself, Pilate answers him, "I am not a Jew, am I? Of course Pilate did not come up with this idea all by himself, he was not a Jew and would have had no understanding of Jewish beliefs. The Sanhedrin told him about Jesus claiming to be "The King of the Jews." John 19:12&15 continues this thought and has the Jews saying the following in order to have Jesus executed for rebellion:

"Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."

And,

"Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar."

Luke 23:2: "He opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king."

Although Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of the charges brought against him, he succumbed to the their demands in order to satisfy the crowd and avoid a riot (Matthew 27:24 & Mark 15:14).

Nobody at any of the trials of Jesus thought that Jesus was claiming to be Almighty God. Jesus never thought of himself as God, he always claimed to be the Messiah, God’s anointed.

Let’s see who Jesus claims to be from his own lips.

Mark 14:61: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? Then Jesus answered, ‘ I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power."

In speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus states in John 4:25:

"The woman said, ‘I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed, when he comes, he will tell us everything. Jesus said to her, ‘ I am he,’ the one who is speaking with you."

In Matthew 16:15-16 when Jesus asks Peter "Who do you say I am?" Peter says to Jesus:

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

Jesus then replies:

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

Jesus congratulates Peter for his belief, and credits Peter’s revelation as from God.

Jesus never thought of himself as Almighty God as the creeds of the 4th, and 5th centuries claim he is. He thought of himself as the Messiah, the Son of God.

There is a Jewish custom referred to as "Agency" which one must understand in order to better understand Jesus and his role as Messiah. Once you understand this concept, who Jesus is and his role in God’s plan for the salvation of man will really start to fall in place.

Agency -

The concept of agency will sound strange to us mostly because we are not familiar with the idea. To a Jew it was nothing uncommon. Many of our customs in the U.S., such as referring to something good as "bad" would completely confuse a scholar of the future who is trying to understand our culture unless he was aware of this custom.

Agency is best understood when we think of a type of ambassador. God has never been seen. His word (will) has come to many people, but he has never appeared personally. To many of us the verses of Abraham speaking with God who had appeared as a man will come to mind, but once you understand this concept you will see that it was not God, but his representative. Angels often fill this role, specifically the Angel of the LORD (YHWH). The Jews believed that it was normal to address the person who is sent on behalf of someone else as that person himself. This is why sometimes the angel of the LORD is seen as a completely separate being from God as in Zechariah 1:2 where the angel of the LORD is having an actual conversation with God, and at other times it seems as if they are the same being. You will always notice that these verses start with "the angel of the LORD," this is who is talking, the angel of the LORD, not God himself. The angel is speaking for God, and in that sense it is God speaking. The representative speaks many times in the first person, and it is common to address the representative as the person who sent him. An excellent example is in Esdras 5:43-56 (Apocrypha) where Ezra questions God’s spokesman, the angel Uriel, as though he were both creator and judge. Ezra uses the same style of address to Uriel ("my lord, my master) as he uses in direct petition to God. An easy way to see that the angel of the LORD is not God himself or Jesus is that he appears in the New Testament such as in Luke 2:9-13 to tell the shepherds that a savior has been born in the city of David. The angel of the LORD and Jesus are in the same place at the same time. People that claim that the angel of the LORD is God or Jesus in the Old Testament will have to explain how God is now really four in one, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and angel of the LORD, a quadrinity.

A.R. Johnson in a monograph entitled The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God, states the following regarding this form of speech:

"In Hebrew thought a patriarch’s personality extended through his entire household to his wives, his sons and their wives, his daughters, servants in his household and even in some sense his property. The "one" personality was present in the "many" who were with him. In a specialized sense when the patriarch’s as lord of his household deputized his trusted servant as his malak (i.e. his messenger or angel) the man was endowed with the authority and resources of his lord to represent him fully and transact business in his name. In Semitic thought this messenger-representative was conceived of as being personally-and in his very words-the presence of the sender."

Aspects of Monotheism

pg.94 states:

"According to the "Son of God Text" from Qumran, when war ceases on earth, all cities will pay homage either to the "Son of God" or to the "people of God." Although homage in this passage involves political submission, worship in the ancient world was often considered analogous to submission to a great king. Each of these figures, to be sure, can be understood as God’s agent or representative, so that homage to given to them is ultimately given to God."

Let’s take a look at some examples of this form of speech:

"There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush…When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush…But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…"

(Exodus 3:2-4& 11).

The angel of the LORD appeared in the flaming bush and then proceeds to speak for God. Moses then answers the angel as if he were speaking to God. Notice that it says the angel of the LORD, it is an angel that is speaking for God. This can be confirmed by Stephen in Acts 7:30. He states the following in reference to this event:

"Forty years later, an angel appeared to him in the desert near Mount Sinai in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight."

The angel spoke out of the bush. It was God speaking through the angel. In this same event, God gave Moses the law and specifically the Ten Commandments. It says in Exodus 20:1-17:

"Then God delivered all these commandments: I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me." Etc

.

But it is still God speaking through the angel. Stephen again verifies this in Acts 7:35 & Acts 7:53:

"This Moses, whom they had rejected with the words, Who appointed you ruler and judge? God sent as both ruler and deliverer, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush."

"You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it."

The law was given to Moses through the angels. As a matter of fact, the whole episode on Mount Sinai was God speaking through an angel. Act 7:38 states:

"It was he who, in the assembly in the desert, was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our ancestors, and he received living utterances to hand on to us."

I have saved one of the clearest examples for last. It is Deuteronomy 29:1-6. In this example Moses is speaking to Israel. Then all of a sudden he is speaking in the first person as God. We all know that Moses is not God, it is God speaking through Moses to Israel.

"Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt before your very eyes to Pharaoh and all his servants and to all his land; the great testings your own eyes have seen, and those great signs and wonders. But not even at the present day has the LORD yet given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. I led you for forty years in the desert. Your clothes did not fall from you in tatters nor your sandals from your feet; bread was not your food, nor wine or beer your drink. Thus you should know that I, the LORD, am your God."

To someone who is not familiar with this literary device, it would seem that Moses is God. The quote starts off with Moses speaking as himself and ends with Moses speaking as God in the first person. But it is God speaking through Moses to Israel. There are many examples in the Bible of this custom of speech.

The idea is that God gives His authority to His representatives. This idea is pivotal in the understanding of Jesus because Jesus will be God’s representative par excellence, and Jesus will speak on behalf of God. Here are a few verses to illustrate the point of God giving His authority to His representatives:

"See I am sending you an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies" (Exodus 23:20-22).

God sends the Israelites an angel to lead them on their way. God’s authority resides in this angel. Notice that if you heed the angel’s voice you will be carrying out all that God tells you because the angel speaks for God. The angel is God’s representative and thus has the authority of God, but the angel is not God. If we can understand this concept it will make our understanding of Jesus much easier. Jesus will represent God on earth and will thus speak for God and have His authority to forgive sins and to judge.

"For I do not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it" (John 12:49).

"And He has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man" (John 5:27).

"Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Anointed" (Revelation 12:10).

"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings"(Matthew 9:6-7).

As you can see, Jesus is representing God to the people. He is speaking on behalf of God. Also notice that he has been given the authority, he did not posses it. This is not a new concept, Moses said exactly this about the future Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:18:

"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words in his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it."

Let me now read you what The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says in vol. 1 pg.171 about the metaphorical meaning of being anointed. Remember, Jesus Christ means Jesus the Messiah, which means Jesus the Anointed.

"Since persons ritually anointed were believed to have received the holiness and virtue of the deity in whose name they were anointed, it was also believed that they received a special endowment of the Spirit of Yahweh (1 Samuel 10:10; 16:13). There was a transfer of divine powers and authority. By extension "to anoint" became a metaphor for the bestowal of God’s favor (Ps 23:5; 92:10-as parallelism shows), for the designation of someone to a particular place or office in God’s plan (Ps 105:15; Isa 45:1). Anointing indicated preparation for service and the gift of God’s Spirit. In reference to kings, the king became the vassal of Yahweh. Anointing conveyed divine authority."

Carefully notice that whomever God anoints (i.e. Jesus) receives an endowment of His Spirit, and because of that endowment he receives divine powers and God’s authority. Let’s review Acts 10:38 once again:

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

Jesus’ place or office in God’s plan is as our Messiah. As we have shown earlier, God has given Jesus His authority on earth to do anything that He would do. This is why Jesus can forgive sins. In reality it is God forgiving sins through Jesus. Jesus is God’s representative par excellence. When you examine the Scriptures thoroughly you will notice that everything comes to us through Christ, such as grace, forgiveness of sins, etc. This is why Jesus is also called our mediator. With an understanding of this concept, one can finally start to understand who Jesus really is. Also many passages of the Bible will come to life with a whole new meaning, a meaning that does not contradict other Scriptures. The Jewish meaning that was intended.

Now we have the background to approach John 10:33. It states:

"We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man are making yourself God."

The argument is that Jesus did claim to be God during his ministry. People will just pick this verse out of the entire dialogue and ignore the rest of the chapter which explains what is truly meant. You must at least read from verse 24 to 36 in order to understand this verse. The subject is still Jesus’ Messiahship. Is he the Messiah or not? John 10:24-25 gives us the subject:

"How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah tell us plainly. Jesus answered them,’ I told you and you do not believe."

What is the blasphemy that these Jews are willing to stone Jesus for? The same blasphemy that the Sanhedrin will later accuse Jesus of, of claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus clears up what the blasphemy is in John 10:36. It states:

"Can you say that that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemies because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?"

What is the blasphemy? That Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God. It is still the same subject as in verse 24-25.

So what did the Jews mean when they said that Jesus was making himself God? What they are saying is that Jesus is making himself in function God, not that he is actually God. In simpler terms, they accuse him of putting himself in place of God because Jesus is claiming to do things that only God is supposed to be able to do. In this chapter it is because Jesus tells these Jews in verse 28 that he will give his sheep eternal life.

"I give them eternal life and they will never perish."

The reason that Jesus can give them eternal life is the same reason that Jesus can forgive sins, and the same reason why Jesus will judge the world, because God has anointed Jesus with His Spirit and thus has given Jesus the authority to act on his behalf. In reality, it is God doing these things through His Anointed, Jesus of Nazareth.

John 17:2: "Just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him."

Mark 2:10: "But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...He said to the paralytic."

Acts 17:31:

"Because He has established a day on which He will judge the world with justice through a man He has appointed, and He has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead."

John 5:27: "And He has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."

Revelation 12:10: "Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Anointed"

John 3:34: "For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God."

Finally, look at the answer that Jesus gives the Jews after their statement of Jesus making himself God. Jesus says to them in verse 35-36:

"Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, "you are gods?" If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemies because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?"

This verse can be safely paraphrased as the following:

"If it was okay to call people to whom the word of God came to as "gods," then why is it blasphemy for me whom God has consecrated and sent into the world to say that I am the Son of God?"

Jesus goes to great lengths to clear up the point that he is not God but that he is the Son of God, even though it is not wrong to refer to people to whom the word of God has come to as "gods."

The Doctrine of the Trinity is the product of Greek philosophy upon the early church of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries. It came out of Alexandria mostly through the pens of men such as Origen and Tertullian who were Gnostic and Stoic philosophers as well as Christian. These two beliefs are not compatible and will only lead an individual to false conclusions when they attempt to combine the two, which is exactly what happened.

So how come most people are not aware of all this information and continue to blindly follow the Doctrine of the Trinity? The reason is that most people do not take the time to really read the Bible. Everyone has his or her reasons why. Some that do read it do not want to face the truth because it would mean accepting the fact that they have been wrong for many years. This is very hard on the human ego. Others simply do not want to exert the effort to relearn the Bible. Just remember, as long as you work in the vineyard you will receive your pay, it doesn’t matter at what time you start work. It is never too late.

The above article is taken from
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5257/Theblas.htm