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!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our “Lord” is not our “God”

Here is another article (slightly edited) by Mark, the author of the previous post (please see: Did our “God” Die on the Cross?)
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Our “Lord” is not our “God”
There are quite a few theories that try to reconcile why Jesus is not specifically called “God” in Scripture with the possible exceptions of the few contested verses we have discussed elsewhere, even though it is argued that He equally deserves this title in spite of this fact. One argument is that the authors of Scripture were simply ignorant of this truth:
“If His followers lagged in recognizing His deity, this was not because He was not God or did not sufficiently manifest His deity. It was because they were foolish and slow of heart to believe what lay patently before their eyes.” -Warfield, B.B., Princeton Theological Seminary;”The Deity of Christ.”
So these Spirit-lead authors drafting Scripture oftentimes years after their earthly experience with Jesus and the apostles who directly learned from Jesus were just “foolish?” ... This is a difficult argument for me to wrap my mind around given that we are entrusting these “foolish followers” with essentially channeling God’s Spirit to convey all of God’s truths to us. So this justification doesn’t make much sense to me. Another popular argument is that they intentionally avoided this title for Jesus. This theory usually mirrors that of the following Trinitarian authors:
“Critics of the doctrine of the deity of Jesus often ask why, if Jesus is God, the New Testament does not refer to him more often as God. The answer is twofold. First, the New Testament writers were generally very careful to avoid making statements that would have implied that Jesus was the Father. While affirming Jesus’ divine status in many ways, they maintained a clear distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son. Since they commonly applied the name ‘God’ to the Father, they tended not to use that name for Jesus except in ways that did not confuse the two persons. The second reason is that the theological and religious roots of the New Testament were deeply monotheistic, and its authors sought to affirm Jesus’ deity in ways that people would not perceive as undermining their Jewish monotheistic heritage.”-Bowman & Komoszewski; “Putting Jesus in His Place,” p 144
So let’s consider what these authors are proposing. They are claiming that the New Testament writers were actually strategically avoiding this title for Jesus although they believed using it for Him was essential for our faith!? These authors believe again that in their Spirit-lead wisdom, the followers of Jesus couldn’t conceive of a way to clarify to those seeking answers one of the “basic truths” of Christianity, and so they chose to avoid it? They couldn’t say, “Yes, the Father is God, but Jesus is fully God too, they are actually both the one true God.” The early Christian creeds and Church fathers seemed to articulate this theory easily enough once it was agreed upon. And what about quotes like “I and the Father are one” and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father?” If they were so afraid to call Jesus “God” because of the possible implication that they were saying He was the Father, how did quotes of Jesus like these creep into Scripture? These quotes seem to look without the context of the rest of Scripture as if Jesus was actually making this exact claim that it is argued that they were trying so diligently to avoid, that He “was” the Father as Modalists assert? And were the authors of Scripture so afraid of identifying Jesus as the Father that they completely avoided conveying this “truth” of a complicated multiple-party God to us in all of Scripture? Explaining this awkward theory of a collective “God-unit” was never even attempted!? Are we really ready to argue that although the authors of Scripture believed this concept was the central tenet of our faith, they chose rather to avoid the topic altogether?
But then in the chapter following the one quoted above by Bowman and Komoszewski, these authors propose the rationalization that it is appropriate to define Jesus as “God” in spite of the fact that those that wrote the New Testament avoided the THEOS title for Him because they instead chose to refer to Him as “Lord.” And these authors then argue that this title was understood by the Jewish culture to be referring explicitly to their God, YAHWEH:
“the apostles and their associates immediately began speaking of Jesus as ‘Lord’ in a way that strongly indicated that he was God himself. The crucial religious context of this divine sense for Lord was the Jewish practice of using the term in place of the Old Testament name Yahweh, or Jehovah, (YHWH).…The basic confession of early Christianity that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom. 10:9, 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11) turns out to entail the most astonishing and radical claim that any first-century Jew might have made: that the crucified man, Jesus of Nazareth, was Jehovah.”-Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place;” p 157, 170
So now these same authors claim that by saying “Jesus is Lord,” the authors of Scripture were trying to convey that they believed “Jesus is YAHWEH?” But I thought the authors of Scripture “sought to affirm Jesus’ deity in ways that people would not perceive as undermining their Jewish monotheistic heritage?” Which one was it? Were the authors of Scripture explicitly calling Jesus “Lord,” or KURIOS, purposefully to identify Him as YAHWEH to the Jewish people who had a “Jewish practice of using the term in place of the Old Testament name Yahweh” as these authors allege, or were they intentionally avoiding calling Jesus “God,” or THEOS, because they did not want to “undermine their Jewish monotheistic heritage?” Wouldn’t calling Him a synonym for YAHWEH, in fact the exact Greek term KURIOS used throughout the Septuagint to replace the Hebrew name YAHWEH, have been more inflammatory than just calling Him THEOS? Why were they so intentional in calling Jesus “Lord” throughout Scripture but yet refused to call him “God” if in fact the two terms are interchangeable for each other as is asserted by these authors? Does it seem logical that they meticulously refused to call Jesus “God” because of the possible confusion with the “God” of the Jewish people, but then in turn intentionally called Him “Lord” hundreds of times to allegedly convey that He was in fact their God, YAHWEH, to those same Jewish people? Those that manufacture this argument that the Greek term KURIOS was applied to Jesus to identify Him as YAHWEH are doing so because they are personally at a loss for why Jesus is not called “God” in Scripture and, therefore, are reaching out to this term “Lord” that they fully realize wasn’t exclusively used for YAHWEH.
Yes, KURIOS was used throughout the Septuagint to translate the name YAHWEH, but these authors and others like them seem to be intentionally avoiding the large variety of contextual uses for this term in Greek culture. The term “God” is a class designating the nature and substance of a being. And because in Judeo-Christian history, there is only one being in this class, it is commonly used as the proper name of this being. The term “Lord” however is a designation of power and authority. Literally a title bestowed on another because of this position of authority given to him. ...
And as we will see shortly, in Greek culture this title of “Lord” was assigned to various different levels of authority, from an individual with higher socioeconomic standing than you, to political leaders, to Christ and then also to the Lord God. A good verse to show the way multiple Hebrew terms were translated as KURIOS or “Lord” is the following Messianic prophecy from the Hebrew text:
43He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’ {KURIOS}? For he says, 44’The Lord
{KURIOS} said to my Lord {KURIOS}: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet. “’-Matthew 22:43-44
So did Matthew mean “YAHWEH said to my YAHWEH” as is alleged? No, he didn’t. Matthew most likely understood the various cultural applications of this term because this quote from the Old Testament actually is translated from two different Hebrew terms, YAHWEH and ADON [actually in Psalm 110.1 the Hebrew word used is: adoni.] And both of these terms are almost exclusively translated into Greek as KURIOS and then into English as “Lord:”
The LORD {YAHWEH} says to my Lord {ADON[I]}: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”-Psalm 110:1
The Hebrew term ADON[I], which is one of the terms translated into Greek as KURIOS and quoted to reference the Messiah above, primarily refers to someone of an authoritative position, a master, a king or oftentimes the Messiah as shown in the Psalm above or the various other Hebrew verses below:
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord {ADON} you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD {YAHWEH} Almighty.-Malachi 3:1
Then he prayed, “O LORD {YAHWEH} , God of my master {ADON[I]} Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master {ADON[I]} Abraham.”-Genesis 24:12
The LORD {YAHWEH} was with Joseph
and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master {ADON}.-Genesis 39:2
So the first point of significance is that the Greek term KURIOS is used as a replacement for a number of Hebrew terms and doesn’t seem to be solely a replacement for the one God they know as YAHWEH. But if these authors are correct and it is true that the apostles or Jewish culture in general at the time chose to use the term KURIOS as a means to convey that they were actually speaking of or to YAHWEH, then we have bigger issues to discuss. Even though none of the following uses of this Greek term are translated into English as “Lord,” they each use the same term as a form of respect for a person of authority. These authors claim that there was a “Jewish practice of using the term in place of the Old Testament name YAHWEH.
This is true, but it is not the entire picture. There was also a Jewish practice of using this term for a position of authority as both Abraham and the Egyptian referred to as ADON above were both translated into Greek in the LXX as KURIOS. So when the master of the house, in addition to Philip, the “gardener” at the tomb, Paul and Silas, and most significantly, Pilate were referred to with this title, did they believe these men were equal to YAHWEH as well?
I would argue that they did not. And the interesting thing about this first verse below is that it is actually the Jewish Pharisees, who presumably knew exactly what “Jewish practices” were, that referred to Pilate with this same title which is alleged to be used by them “in place of the Old Testament name YAHWEH:”
62The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63“Sir
{KURIOS},” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’”-Matthew 27:62-63
Would these Jewish men dare use the title of KURIOS for Pilate if in any way they thought it should be exclusively reserved for YAHWEH? And because they must have been speaking Greek with Pilate, this is most likely the exact word they used dictated by Matthew. Obviously this is not an entirely true statement that they used this term as a replacement for their God, evidenced also by the following uses:
It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master
{KURIOS}.-Matthew 10:25
They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir
{KURIOS},” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”-John 12:21
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir
{KURIOS}, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”-John 20:15
29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs
{KURIOS}, what must I do to be saved?”-Acts 16:29-30
This term has unfortunately been translated into English in different ways as shown above, mirroring the multiple words it was translated from in Hebrew, so most do not recognize its multiple uses. There are three major Hebrew words translated as KURIOS in Greek and then as “Lord,” “Sir,” or “Master” in English. The first is YAHWEH, often translated in all caps as “LORD,” which exclusively refers to the one true God of the Jewish people. The second is ADON[I] which is addressed above. The vast majority of the time this term is a generic title used as a reference to a person given a position of authority, a “master.” And the third is the emphatic form of ADON, ADONAI, which is translated “Lord,” and ... exclusively again refers to the one true God, YAHWEH, as in the following verse:
I said to the LORD {YAHWEH}, “You are my Lord {ADONAI}; apart from you I have no good thing.”-Psalm 16:2
There are also various verses where authors of Scripture seem to distinguish between the terms THEOS and KURIOS. So if they believed them to be interchangeable terms, why the use of them to distinguish between two separate beings?
By his power God {THEOS} raised the Lord {KURIOS from the dead, and he will raise us also.-1 Corinthians 6:14
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God {THEOS} has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord {KURIOS} and Christ.”-Acts 2:36
And in this last verse, “God” made Jesus “Lord?” How do you make someone a God? And at what point in time was He made YAHWEH if the two terms are interchangeable? Peter is obviously using the term [“Lord”] as a position of authority, not as a synonym for YAHWEH.
So it is important to distinguish between the use of the Hebrew terms YAHWEH, ADON[I] and ADONAI because they had very different cultural meanings to the Jewish people and the authors of the New Testament, even though in Greek, they are each translated with the same term KURIOS. These separate meanings for this term had to have been clearly understood by those who knew Greek because the term was used interchangeably for many different individuals who were obviously of different authoritative positions.

Did our “God” Die on the Cross?

Whilst surfing the Net some time ago, I came across this article by a gentleman by the name of Mark. Going over his writings, I would say I agree with about 90% of his Christological views. Mark describes himself as:
"Grew up Southern Baptist. Typical Orthodox belief system until I began truly diving into the Word of God myself to verify some of my beliefs I had been taught my entire life. I believe that we must define Jesus as "Lord" to call ourselves Christians. But because the authors of Scripture refrain from calling Him "God," I do not believe we should veer from their theology and insist on this title for Him."
What follows now is an article by Mark giving a good overview of his "Biblical Unitarian" view; however some editing/abridgement has been done:
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Did our “God” Die on the Cross?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TELL US ABOUT JESUS?

When inquiring of elders and scholars about the Orthodox doctrine of the trinity, the oddly confident response I typically hear is “I don’t understand it, I just have faith!” Although I agree that our faith is integral to our Christian walk, my usual response is “but what or who should I have faith in?” Some choose to base their faith on the tradition of their Church. Some on the opinion of their pastor or favorite theologian. And some solely on their opinions and experiences in life. Although I would argue that the opinions of these men are extremely valuable, ultimately our faith must be based on something more consistent. I choose the words of the authors of Scripture and their corresponding witness to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:17) as my source of faith. I believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17) and is our primary source for ultimate truth (Jn 17:17, Col 1:5, 1 Tim 2:4).

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:16), the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29, Rev 7:10), our Lord (Ac 2:36), our Savior (Eph 5:23), our mediator between God and us (1 Tim 2:5), our eternal High Priest (Heb 2:17), the Son of the Most High God (Lk 1:35) and lastly but importantly, a servant of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ac 3:13). Even the demons knew Him to be the Holy One of God (Lk 4:34) and the Son of God (Mk 3:11). And Scripture is consistent in conveying to us that there is only one true God (Dt 6:4, 4:35, 32:39, 1 Kgs 8:60, 1 Chr 17:20, Is 45:5, 2 Sam 7:22, Mk 12:29, Eph 4:4-6, 1 Tim 2:5, 1 Cor 8:6).

The term ‘theos’ is used by the authors of the New Testament over 1300 times, and about 99% of the time to refer uniquely to “The Father,” the “God of the Jews.” And I don’t believe that this unique title was ever appropriately used for Jesus as I will discuss below. But I do feel like the authors of Scripture exhaustively describe Jesus as the Son…of “God.” And I believe that it’s dangerous to claim that Jesus is a “god” simply because His Father is ... The “God.” This designates two gods, not a collective-person singular “God” as the trinity alleges. ... I believe that no one can truly confess that Jesus is Lord except through the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:3). And I confess with every ounce of my being that Jesus Christ is both my personal Lord and Savior and the only Lord of lords and I believe in my heart that the one true God raised my Lord Jesus from the dead (Ro 10:9).

DID THE AUTHORS OF SCRIPTURE BELIEVE THAT JESUS SHOULD BE IDENTIFIED WITH THIS SACRED TITLE OF ‘GOD’?

Because the title of “God” or ‘theos’ is used almost exclusively for the entity we know as “The Father” in the Bible, the 9 out of over 1300 times where this title is allegedly used for Jesus in the New Testament really become the bedrock of Orthodoxy’s trinity reasoning and, therefore, end up shouldering an enormous responsibility. Without these rare and oftentimes isolated and contextually obscure verses, we are forced to claim that we are able to define Jesus as “God” in spite of the fact that the authors of Scripture refrained from using this title for Him. That to me was unbelievably presumptuous. So we first and foremost have to verify that Jesus was actually given the title of “God” either by Himself or by those appointed with carrying His message to the world. And I would argue that if the authors of Scripture didn’t describe Jesus as God, but instead consistently and exhaustively described the Father as “God,” then we cannot assign this title to Him solely because those church Fathers that followed the apostles felt it was appropriate. And because these 9 contested verses are so highly questioned even within Orthodoxy itself, I wasn’t able to find the confidence necessary to defend the doctrine of the trinity I had been taught my entire life (1 Pe 3:15).

There are a few verses found in the KJV other than these 9 that have influenced some over the past 500 years, but most Orthodox scholars today concede that these verses are corruptions found in later manuscripts and so they haven’t been included in the 9 ... For instance, a few verses like 1 Jn 5:7 (orig), which was used by some like the Westminster Confession of 1646 as the primary proof text for the trinity, and 1 Tim 3:16 (orig), were both successfully rebutted by men like Isaac Newton1 in the 18th Century and many others over the past few centuries as manipulated texts. ...
In the first 5 of the only 9 probable original verses which are debated currently by scholars to be using the ‘theos’ title for Jesus, the texts used by the KJV agree with the earliest manuscripts that have been discovered and so we don’t have to navigate through manuscript discrepancies with these verses. But contrary to the interpretation of most of our modern translations, the 47 Greek translators of the KJV in addition to various modern Orthodox experts2 believe that Jesus is not referred to as “God” in (1)Romans 9:5, (2)Titus 2:13, (3)2 Peter 1:1, (4)Philippians 2:6 or (5)1 John 5:20. And I agree with the interpretation of the KJV and these other leading scholars regarding these vague verses that are at best, inconclusive. And so this leaves 3 places consisting of 4 verses in all of Scripture that it is alleged that only John and the author of Hebrews use this title for Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter, James and Jude never once use the ‘theos’ title for Jesus if the KJV’s interpretation of the above 5 verses is correct. I believe that in the first of these 3 places, (6)Hebrews 1:8-9, the author initially quotes a doxology to the Father before the Messiah is addressed in verse 9, and that Jesus is not called “God” here either. The primary reason I believe that Jesus was not being referred to as ‘theos’ here by the author of Hebrews is that not only do we have to reconcile how “God” can have a “God” while trying to avoid polytheism in the following verse (Heb 1:9), but this quote was originally made by a psalmist, not the Father as our English translations allege, to a king (Ps 45:1,6-7) that was blessed by “God” only four verses earlier (Ps 45:2), so we also have to explain why this king is not also the one true “God” in the same way that the term is alleged to be applied to Jesus. If it was used to refer to this king rather than a doxology to the Father, it must have been another definition or use of this term in the Psalm or we would now have 3 separate “persons” referred to as the one true “God” in Scripture. ...

The prologue of John contains one verse which explicitly claims this title for Jesus and another that is argued to imply it, largely because of the first verse. However, I again agree with the KJV, the Latin Vulgate (which was the only sanctioned Bible used for over a millennium prior to the Reformation), the majority of the Greek manuscripts that are available to us3, Tertullian4, Alexander of Alexandria5 and Augustin6 that Jesus is not called “God” in this first explicit verse, (7)John 1:18, and believe this corruption of replacing “Son” with “God” was propagated through the early writings of either Irenaeus7, Clement of Alexandria8, or Origen9 who all three misquoted this verse early on in either the late 2nd Century prior to our earliest manuscripts or shortly after in the early 3rd Century, and potentially did so for theological reasons as they each have both conflicting versions explicitly “quoted” in their early writings. ... The earliest manuscripts11 we have were transcribed after the quotes of a few of the church fathers above that quoted the alternate version, so why do modern scholars almost exclusively choose the “God” manuscripts over the “Son” versions that obviously existed? One reason is that this version apparently can now somehow be massaged to support the Trinitarian paradigm rather than oppose it as it did during the Arian controversy, and so it’s useful to Orthodoxy. But the primary reason this verse is so valuable to Orthodoxy is because the “Son” version seems to contradict the popular interpretation of the entire prologue. ...
((8)Jn 1:1-14). I agree with the translations of William Tyndale’s New Testament and John Calvin’s Bible translated by his brother-in-law in their original versions of these verses found in the Tyndale Bible and the Geneva Bible, which were the primary English Bibles used during the Reformation period prior to the translation deviations that came after them, as these translators defined this preexistent ‘logos’ as
an “it,” not a “him.”

Although within their writings outside of the translation of their Bibles, it seems obvious that these Reformers agreed with the tradition of Orthodoxy that this “it” was in fact identical to Jesus as most modern scholars believe despite their translation of the prologue. But their recognition of the Greek generic pronoun ‘autos’ used by John is evident in their early unbiased translations. These original translations show us that most modern translations describing the ‘logos’ as a “him” weren’t necessarily John’s original intent, and rather seem to be a biased interpretation by those trying to inject Jesus into the prologue in spite of their predecessors. These same scholars would consider it ludicrous to propose the translation of the term ‘logos’ to the English name “Jesus” because they would consider this a drastic and unacceptable departure from the original words of John. But this is exactly what is inferred with the current speculative translation of the generic pronoun ‘autos’ that is referring to the personified, but still inanimate ‘logos.’

And finally, the statement made by “Doubting Thomas” is now the only uncontested verse remaining in the New Testament alleging that Jesus should be assigned this Greek title of ‘theos,’ and I don’t believe it is strong enough evidence to topple every author of Scripture that refuses to make the same proclamation. ... (9)John 20:28. ... Eight days earlier, Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was actually raised from the dead as He consistently claimed He would be (Mt 17:9, Lk 9:22) until he “put his finger into the place of the nails, and put his hand into His side, he will not believe” (Jn 20:25). I choose not to make this same statement today of what I need to see and touch to believe in a risen Christ. But does this mean I disagree with Scripture simply because I don’t choose to emulate Thomas’ proclamation of what he requires to believe in a risen Christ? ... But should we then define his second statement as the cornerstone of our faith, especially when we don’t even know how he was using this term? Based on Jesus’ reprimand of both he and Philip earlier (Jn 14:9), did he misunderstand and believe that Jesus was the Father as Modalists claim? Or maybe he believed that Jesus was a separate “God” as Arius claimed? Is Thomas really trying to define a “Holy Trinity” for us here or are we reading our “Trinity” into Thomas’ words? Even if we do jump to the conclusion that Thomas was very sparingly definining his doctrinal understanding of the three separate persons of the one God here, is this unvoiced interpretation of his strong enough to anchor the rest of Scripture as the “central truth” of our religion and an isolated comment that dismantles the plethora of verses where Scriptural authors or Jesus Himself are proclaiming truths that seem to contradict Thomas’ statement (1 Co 8:6, 1 Ti 2:5, Jn 17:3, Jn 5:44, Lk 1:32, Jn 14:28, Jn 8:54, Ac 3:13, Ac 7:55, Ac 10:38, 1 Jn 4:15, 2 Co 5:19, 1 Co 11:3, 2 Co 11:31, Eph 1:17, Col 1:3, 1 Ti 1:17,Rev 7:10, etc.)? Even Jesus seems to think Thomas’ lack of faith in the first statement is more important to address than his affirmation of belief in a risen Christ where deity is alleged in his second (Jn 20:29). But why does Jesus not address this comment of Thomas’ rather than his lack of faith? I don’t know. ... Maybe he knew that Thomas was seeing the one that sent Him and so he was ok with God being seen through Him (Jn 12:45). And maybe he understood that this term could be used for others as it was used for Moses (Ex 7:1) and the judges (Ps 82:6) in the Septuagint’s translation of the Old Testament. But again, this title of “God” is otherwise reserved by the authors of Scripture exclusively for the Father (and [also used to refer to] other “false” gods). ...

THE SEPTUAGINT AND OTHER HEBREW/GREEK TRANSLATIONS

I learned that the Septuagint was the “Bible” quoted most often by Jesus and His apostles. And because it is an early Greek translation of the Hebrew text translated hundreds of years before Christ, it is an extremely valuable apologetic resource as it confirms what at least the 70 or so Jewish translators’ Greek interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures was prior to any Christian influence. For example, because he agrees with the Septuagint, I believe that Matthew’s interpretation in Matthew 1:23 of Isaiah’s dual-prophesy of Isaiah 7:14 was correct that this child will be born of a “virgin,” or the Greek term ‘parthenos,’ rather than simply a “young woman” as the Hebrew term ‘almah’ is argued by Jewish scholars to mean. But because the prophesy was also intended for a child in Isaiah’s time as confirmed by the context of the prophesy, Isaiah 7:16-17, 8:8, I do not believe that by using this “name” of ‘Immanuel,’ Isaiah was trying to designate that this boy will literally be “God” and also “with us,” but rather a representation of the fact that God is with His people. However, using the Septuagint as an unbiased source for the Hebrew text also cuts both ways. By saying the words “I am,” (Jn 8:58) I do not believe that Jesus was claiming to be “God” any more than the healed blind man was making the same claim a few verses later by using the same Greek phrase (Jn 9:9). ... As we see from the Septuagint’s account of Exodus 3:14, God does not call Himself the “I am,” He calls Himself “The Being,” these are different Greek phrases.
The Septuagint neither defines Jesus as “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6, it defines Him as the “Messenger of great counsel.” Also, the Greek term ‘kurios,’ or “Lord” used throughout the Septuagint was not used exclusively as a term for the ‘Yahweh’ of the Old Testament (Ps 110:1; [109:1LXX]). It was also used to replace the Hebrew term ‘adon’ used for the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures quoted by Matthew here (Mt 22:43-44) which means “master or lord” (Gen 18:12, 24:36, 32:18), and this shouldn’t be confused with this term’s emphatic form, ‘adonai’ (Gen 15:2, Ps 16:2) which was primary used for God. The term ‘kurios’ was used to replace both of these Hebrew terms consistently throughout the New Testament in addition to a replacement for ‘Yahweh’ (Mt 27:63, Jn 12:21, Ac 16:30,1 Cor 6:14, Rom 14:4), so context had to designate its use. I believe that God commanded His angels to worship His Son ... (Heb 1:6), which is again a quote from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Masoretic Text (Deut 32:43), ... I found that this Greek term ‘proskuneo,’ meaning “worship” or “bowing down to pay homage to,” is used throughout the Septuagint as a term of reverence to kings and other men (1 Sam 24:8, 2 Sam 9:6, 1 Ki 1:16, 1 Chr 21:21; Gen 37:7-10, Gen 42:6) and we are also told that the Church of Philadelphia will also be “worshipped” ... (Rev 3:9). Therefore, I believe that [the wise men] “worshipped” Jesus at His birth because He was the anticipated “king of the Jews,” not because they thought He was God (Mt 2:1-2). I still believe that we should only worship ‘Yahwehas our God (Mt 4:10, Ex 34:14); however, I now understand that this Greek term in Jewish culture obviously had multiple meanings and applications.

THE CREATION

The one God, the Father, who was the sole Creator (Mal 2:10, Is 44:24), also somehow created these things “through,” or ‘dia,’ our one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Co 8:6). Contrary to the interpretation of a few modern scholars on this verse who believe Paul is describing the “one God” as a new collective entity containing both the previous “one God” and the new “one Lord,” it’s evident by our English translations that Paul is very intentional in splitting the roles of the “one God, the Father” and the “one Lord, Jesus Christ.” In addition to being created “through” Christ, as Paul’s originally chosen Greek term shows us, we are also created as God’s workmanship “in,” or ‘en,’ Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10, Col 1:16). Each time that the Bible speaks about Jesus’ role in Creation, it uses one of these two Greek terms (Jn 1:10, Heb 1:1-2, Heb 2:9-10) rather than how God is described as the exclusive “Creator” (Ro 1:25,Eph 3:9, 1 Tim 4:3). Jesus was also chosen by God before the Creation of the world (1 Pe 1:19-20) as the “firstborn” over all creation. Although if solely because David is also called the Hebrew equivalent of “firstborn” (Ps 89:20, 27), this doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus was the first created being.

JESUS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS FATHER AND HIS FATHER’S SPIRIT

I believe that Jesus is one with His Father (Jn 10:30), in the same way that we are to be one with each other (Jn 17:22, 1 Co 12:13, Php 2:2), one with Christ (Heb 2:11), and in fact one with Them (Jn 17:21), through God’s Spirit (1 Cor 6:17, 1 Jn 3:24), in the same way I believe that we can be “in” them as they are “in” each other (Jn 17:21-23, 1 Jn 4:15). I believe that Jesus possesses all of the fullness of God (Col 1:19, 2:9), through God’s Spirit (Lk 4:1, Ac 2:33, 10:38, Is 42:1). And I believe that we also can be filled with the fullness of God (Eph 3:19), through God’s Spirit that is in us (Eph 3:16, Ro 8:11), by the means of Christ (Tit 3:5-6, Jn 14:17). I believe this is how we are to participate in the divine nature (2 Pt 1:4), through God’s Spirit within us that teaches us all things and reminds us of these promises (Jn 14:26). And so I agree with the original idea12 that the Spirit of God proceeded exclusively from the Father (Ac 2:33, 10:38), but resided within Jesus (Lk 4:1) after His baptism (Mt 3:16, Mk 1:10, Lk 3:22). I believe that Jesus is the express image of the ‘hypostasis’ of God, His Father (Heb 1:3). ...

‘GOD-LIKE’ QUALITIES OF JESUS

Because Jesus says He could do nothing by Himself (Jn 5:19, 30), I believe that God performed miracles through Him (Ac 2:22, Jn 14:10), through the Father’s Spirit that He gave Him (Ac 2:33, 10:38, Lk 4:1). I don’t believe that performing miracles through the Spirit defines you as “God” any more than it would define Peter as God because his shadow was healing people (Ac 5:14-16) or any of the apostles because they had the power to drive out demons or cure diseases (Lk 9:1), or raise the dead (Ac 9:40, Acts 20:9-10), or even forgive sins (Jn 20:23). Jesus is a perfect example for me (Heb 4:15, Heb 5:8-9) because I am also given that same Spirit (Ro 8:11, Eph 2:18, Eph 3:16, Joel 2:28). So we are now the new temple of the Almighty God (1 Cor 3:16), because God lives in us (1 Jn 4:12-13). Through God’s Spirit, which alone knows the thoughts of God (1 Co 2:11), He has written His law on our hearts (Jer 31:33). Jesus is described as the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) as we are (1 Co 11:7). This invisible God that Paul describes, our only God (1 Tim 1:17), then sent His only-begotten Son to die as the eternal sacrifice for our sins (Jn 3:16; Heb 5:9-10). The Father, Jesus’ God (Jn 20:17, Eph 1:17), the God of our Fathers (Ac 3:13; Jn 8:54) who is greater than Him (Jn 14:28), knows things that He did not know (Mk 13:32), has power that Jesus doesn’t have (Mt 20:23), and is described by Jesus as the only one who is “good” (Mk 10:18), gave His Son authority on earth to forgive sins (Mk 2:10), authority to give eternal life (Jn 17:2), and the authority to execute judgment (Jn 5:27). After the resurrection, Jesus was then given all authority in heaven and on Earth (Mt 28:18). So I do not believe that Jesus was equal to His Father that gave Him the authority that He displayed while on Earth. Surely one who is given authority is not equivalent to Him who had the right to give this authority to begin with?

ACCUSATIONS BY THOSE THAT OPPOSED HIM

I don’t believe that the accusations of the Jewish leaders is an appropriate litmus test for who Jesus claimed to be, especially given His responses to these accusations which are often curiously missing from arguments for His deity (Jn 10:33-36, Mk 2:7-11, Jn 5:18-19). And as discussed above with the Septuagint, neither do I believe that the Jewish leaders were attempting to stone Jesus because they understood the phrase “I am” the same way we have come to understand it today (Jn 8:56-59), especially given the fact that two verses earlier, He describes their “God” as explicitly His Father (Jn 8:54). ... But regardless of what the Jewish leaders believed, surely the accusations of those trying to discredit you are not the best evidence to who you truly claim to be. Those that solicit the support of the Jewish leaders to help prove the deity of our Lord build a strange alliance with those that don’t even recognize Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. And besides, these same men also accused Jesus of being possessed by Satan as well (Mk 3:22-23), and obviously here, we accuse them of being blind fools. Peter rather knew exactly who Jesus was, He is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:15-17).

JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for our sins (Ro 5:8, 1 Cor 15:3). But I don’t believe that this means we have to subject ourselves to the belief that our one true God actually “died” for any amount of time on the cross (1 Ti 1:17, Ps 90:2, Nu 23:19). Nor do I believe as some do13, that our one true God somehow divided Himself at the cross so that only a portion [of] our one God could die for our sins. I believe that the person/nature/substance that died was the person/nature/substance that reconciled us to God. We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Ro 5:10). And we can’t find salvation in anyone else (Ac 4:12, Jn 14:6). And I don’t find anywhere in Scripture that only a portion of Jesus died on the cross, so the argument that only His so-called “man-nature” died while his “divine-nature” just “tasted” death without actually dying is without Scriptural support14. I believe that Jesus’ God, who is also our God (Jn 20:17), needed to abandon His Son to bear the burden of our sin alone for a reason (Mt 27:46). So if “God” could participate in death without actually dying, why did Jesus’ God need to abandon Him? Scripture tells us that Jesus provided His own blood, within His human body, for the redemption of our sins (Rev 1:5, 1:17-18, 1 Pt 2:24, 4:1, Col 1:22, 1 Jn 1:7). Paul tells us that God was literally in Christ while He was on Earth, reconciling the world to Himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:18-19). However, even though Jesus thought that His Father would not leave Him when the apostles deserted Him (Jn 16:32), His God was ultimately forced to abandon Him, to bear the burden of our sin alone (1 Co 15:3, Gal 1:3-4), and Jesus doesn’t seem to expect this because He asks His God why He has done so (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). And so God did not die on the cross, our Lord Jesus Christ did (Ac 2:36), separated from His God (Mt 27:46). But then Scripture tells us that the only true God (Jn 17:3) raised Jesus from the dead (Ro 10:9)! And in spite of Jesus’ analogy of the temple (Jn 2:19) where it appears that He is anticipating raising Himself, the rest of Scripture, including John’s view 3 verses later (Jn 2:22), confirms that Jesus did not raise Himself (Mt 17:9, Mk 14:28, Lk 9:22, Jn 21:14, Ac 5:30, Ro 6:4, 1 Cor 15:17, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:20, Col 2:12,Heb 5:7, 1 Pt 1:21, etc). Scripture teaches us that God, Jesus’ Father raised Him15. And so our one God saved us by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us through our Savior Jesus Christ (Tit 3:4-6). And so they are both our Saviors, God as the provider and initiator of salvation and Jesus as the means or vessel of our salvation (Rev 7:10). Because through God’s eternal Spirit, Jesus was able to live a blameless and sinless life (Heb 9:14), He is a worthy and complete sacrifice for our sin (Heb 7:24-27). And so Jesus doesn’t have to be “God” to have been the sacrifice that His Father required for our reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19, Heb 9:13-14). After this sacrifice, God then gave Jesus the name that is above every name, the name everyone will eventually bow to, so that His Father will be glorified (Phil 2:10-11). So Jesus is now our ... mediator between us and God (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 7:25) as He sits at the right hand of the Mighty God (Lk 22:69, Ac 7:55).

THE GOSPEL

I agree with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Mt 16:16). Eternal life is defined by Jesus as knowing both the only true God and Himself, Jesus Christ (Jn 17:3). And even after the resurrection, Jesus’ Father is still His God (Jn 20:17). Our salvation is based on confessing that Jesus is “Lord” and believing that our God raised Him from the dead (Ro 10:9). But Jesus also tells us that even though some call Him “Lord,” He will eventually tell them to depart because He never “knew” them (Mt 7:22-23), so I desire to obtain “eternal life” by “knowing” both my Lord and my God as Jesus conveys to us through His prayer to His Father in John 17:3. Paul tells Timothy that God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the “truth,” and then he defines this “truth” by saying that there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ (1 Ti 2:3-5). He then warns him in his second letter that men will abandon sound doctrine and conceive of myths to tickle their ears (2 Ti 4:3-4), he also says that “many” will corrupt the word of God (2 Co 2:17) and says anyone that preaches a different gospel than the one he preached should be accursed (Gal 1:8). He also warns us about being taken captive by the traditions of men (Col 2:8). And if the original KJV is correct in its interpretation of Paul’s 3 contested texts above, Paul nowhere in his letters calls Jesus “God,” but he rather uses the phrase “one God” exclusively for the Father (1 Cor 8:6, Eph 4:6, 1 Tim 2:5, Rom 3:22,30). And so because I must obey God rather than men or the tradition of my church (Ac 5:29), I am not ashamed (Lk 9:26) to proclaim that Jesus Christ is no longer the one I choose to call my “God,” I reserve that title for the Father as the authors of Scripture do, but Jesus is and always will be my Lord and Savior (Ro 10:9)!


FOOTNOTES

1Newton, Isaac. An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture, p.5-11. “In all the vehement universal and lasting controversy about the Trinity in Jerome’s time and both before and long enough after it, this text of the ‘three in heaven’ was never thought of. It is now in everybody’s mouth and accounted the main text for the business and would have been so then, had it been in their books”

2Among many Trinitarian scholars, Gordon Fee in Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. (2007) p. 273-275, 443, agrees that Paul is not referring to Jesus as ‘God’ in either Romans 9:5 or Titus 2:13, and thus opens the door for an alternative translation of 2 Peter 1:1 which is awkwardly followed by another reference to a ‘God’ who is this time separated from Jesus in 2 Peter 1:2. Murray Harris in Jesus As God: The New Testament use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. (1992) pg 253, disagrees that John is referring to Jesus as ‘God’ in 1 John 5:20. And Augustin, among others, recognized that it was the Father who was identified as ‘God’ in Philippians 2:6 in his On the Trinity, Book 1, Chpt 6, as he says Paul was “using here the name of God specially of the Father; as elsewhere, ‘But the head of Christ is God.’

3The ‘Son’ version is found in the following manuscripts: A, C3, Wsupp, D, Q, Y, 0141, f1, f13, 28, 157, 180, 205, 565, 579, 597, 700, 892, 1006, 1010, 1071, 1241, 1243, 1292, 1342, 1424 and 1505; the ‘God’ version is found in P66, P75, À*, À2, B, C* and L. UBS 4th

4Tertullian [a.d. 145–220], Against Praxeas, Chapter XV; “the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and has Himself declared him

5Alexander, bishop of Alexandria [ad 321] Epistles on the Arian Heresy, Chpt I, Section 4; “the evangelist John sufficiently shows, when he thus writes concerning Him: ‘The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.’”

6Augustin [ad 417] Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tractate XLVII, Section 3. “For He Himself hath said: ‘No one hath seen God at any time; but the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.‘”

7Irenaeus [a.d. 120–202], Against Heresies, Book IV, Chpt XX, 6-”as is written in the Gospel: ‘No man hath seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; He has declared [Him.]’“; Book IV, Chpt XX, 11-”also the Lord said: ‘The only-begotten God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him]’

8Clement of Alexandria [a.d. 153–193–217], The instructor. [Paedagogus], Book 1, Chpt III-”the only-begotten Son is sent from the Father’s bosom“; The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book V, XII-”The only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him;

9Origen [a.d. 185–230–254], Against Celsus, Book II, LXXI-”No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.“; Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II, XXIX-”No one hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.

...

11The earliest manuscripts we have of John are found in the Bodmer Papyri, P66 and P75. These manuscripts are dated to the early 3rd Century.

12The “Filioque” clause, Latin for “and from the Son,” was appended to the end of Nicene Creed which previously ended “the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father” to try to substantiate the Western belief that the Spirit proceeded from the Son as well.

13In John MacArthur’s opinion, it seems to be imperative that “God” actually died on the cross, because if He didn’t, then “all you’ve got is a human sacrifice.” And this is integral to the Trinitarian belief system because the reasonably-sounding belief that “only God could bear the weight of our sins” is a foundation of the Church. But we often fail to follow this belief to its fruition. If only God could bear the weight of our sins, then obviously as MacArthur confirms, “God” must have been the one that died. And after he defines “death” as separation from “God,” he confirms that this separation happened to Jesus, but it happened to Him as “God?” So in his belief, God was separated from God as God died!? He goes on to concede that he doesn’t understand how this is possible, but he “doesn’t really worry about it.” For me, I had difficulties not being able to reconcile the most important event of our faith with a theory that is allegedly the central doctrine of our faith. But at least MacArthur is intellectually honest in acknowledging the only “logically acceptible” belief of Trinitarianism, that God somehow must have died on the Cross.

14Wayne Grudem argues on page 560 of his Systematic Theology that “we can understand that in his human nature, Jesus died (Luke 23:46, 1 Cor. 15:3). But with respect to his divine nature, he did not die, but was able to raise himself from the dead (John 2:19, 10:17-18, Heb. 7:16)…Nevertheless, by virtue of union with Jesus’ human nature, his divine nature somehow tasted something of what it was like to go through death.”

15Although some of the following are translated irregularly based on their grammatical tense, the remaining verses in Scripture that speak of Jesus as being “raised” confirm a total of 45 times that God was the one who raised Jesus from the dead. In the passive tense, Jesus “was raised” by God 21 times – Mt 16:21, 17:9, 17:23, 27:64, Lk 9:22, Jn 2:22, 21:14, Rom 4:25, 6:4, 6:9, 7:4, 8:34, 1 Cor 15:4, 15:12, 15:13, 15:14, 15:16, 15:17, 15:20, 2 Cor 5:15, 2 Tim 2:8; in the active tense, God “raised” Jesus 16 times – Lk 1:69, Ac 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, Rom 4:24, 8:11, 10:9, 1 Cor 6:14, 15:15, 2 Cor 4:14, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:20, Col 2:12, 1 Thess 1:10, Heb 11:19, 1 Pt 1:21; and in the divine passive, Jesus was raised 8 times – Mt 26:32, 27:63, 28:6, Mk 14:28, 16:6, 16:14, Lk 24:6, 24:34