From the Doctrine of the Trinity – Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound
Some Trinitarians offer Romans 9:5 as conclusive proof that Jesus is “God over all” and therefore part of the Godhead. It depends which translation one reads, because there are some seven different ways of punctuating the verse in which either Christ or the Father is called “God blessed forever.” The issue is: Should we read “of whom, according to the flesh, is Christ, who is over all. God be blessed forever,” or “of whom, according to the flesh is Christ, who being God over all, is blessed forever”? Among older commentators Erasmus, though a Trinitarian, was cautious about using this verse as a proof text:
Those who contend that in this text Christ is clearly termed God, either place little confidence in other passages of Scripture, deny all understanding to the Arians, or pay scarcely any attention to the style of the Apostle. A similar passage occurs in Second Corinthians 11:31: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever”; the latter clause being undeniably restricted to the Father.
Using the principle of comparison of text with text, it is most likely that Paul describes the Father as “God over all.” Paul uniformly makes a distinction between God and the Lord Jesus. In the same book Paul blesses the Creator and there is no reason to doubt that the Father is meant (Rom. 1:25). In another passage he speaks of “God our Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen” (Gal. 1:4, 5). Romans 9:5 is an obvious parallel. It should not be forgotten that the word theos, God, occurs more than 500 times in Paul’s letters and there is not a single unambiguous instance in which it applies to Christ. A number of well-known textual critics (Lachmann, Tischendorf) place a period after the word “flesh,” allowing the rest of the sentence to be a doxology of the Father.
Ancient Greek manuscripts do not generally contain punctuation, but the Codex Ephraemi of the fifth century has a period after “flesh.” More remarkable is the fact that during the whole Arian controversy, this verse was not used by Trinitarians against the unitarians. It clearly did not attest to Jesus as the second member of the Godhead.
When the detail of grammatical nuance has been fully explored, balances of probability will be weighed in different ways. It is incredible to imagine that the Christian creed should depend on fine points of language about which many could not reasonably be asked to make a judgment and experts disagree. The plain language of Paul’s and Jesus’ creed is open to every student of the Bible:
“There is no God except one…There is for us [Christians] one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:4, 6).
That “one God” is as distinguished in Paul’s mind from the “one Lord Jesus Messiah” as He is from the many gods of paganism. The category of “one God” belongs exclusively to the Father, that of “Lord Messiah” exclusively to Jesus. Jesus himself had provided the basis of Paul’s simple understanding of the phrase “one God.” Both master and disciple shared the creed of Israel who believed in God as one, unique person.
 For a full examination of the various possibilities,
see the essays in the Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 1883.
 Works, ed. Jean Leclerc, 10 vols. (Leiden, 1703-1706), 6:610, 611.
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