Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Trinity: Echad: Oneness in unity

Deuteronomy 6:4 says, "Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [echad]!"

The Hebrew word "echad" is used most often as a unified one, and sometimes as numeric oneness. For example, when God said in Genesis 2:24 "the two shall become one [echad] flesh," it is the same word for "one" that was used in Deut. 6:4.

A different word, "yachid," the main Hebrew word for solitary oneness, indisputably means an absolute numeric one. Anti-Trinitarians would naturally expect such a word to be commonly used of God, but it is never used to describe God.

Add to this plural pronouns like: "let US make man in OUR image" and Trinitarians have irrefutable evidence of the Trinity in the Old Testament.

We find exactly the same in the New Testament as we do in the Old, namely, a combination of words meaning unified versus numeric oneness being employed to describe God's oneness. While yachid is never used of God’s oneness in the Old Testament, the corresponding Greek word "mono" is used of God’s oneness in the New Testament. But this is exactly what Trinitarians would expect to be the case because there are three persons in the one God.

Perhaps one of the strongest arguments the Trinitarian can use in the discussion of the words "echad" and "yachid" is the fact that Jews, shortly after the rise of Christianity, removed "echad" from Deut. 6:4 and added in its place the word "yachid". If the use of "echad" instead of "yachid" in Deut. 6:4 gave no help to the early Christians in proving to the Jews that Yahweh of the Old Testament was a multi-personal God, then Jews would not have felt compelled to change the word. If it is really that insignificant, then they would have told us the argument Christians were using to prove the Trinity is invalid to native Hebrews who know and speak the language. But instead, the Jews responded by changing the word in Deut. 6:4 from the unified oneness (echad) to the numeric oneness (yachid).

Jesus quoted Deut 6:4 in Mk 12:29 and chose the "unified oneness" word "hen" which is the same word used by Jesus in Mt 19:5, "the two shall become one (hen) flesh. It is significant that Jesus did not use "mono" in Mk 12:29. The word "hen" directly corresponds to "echad" which was used in Deut 6:4. Both texts used "unified oneness" words rather than absolute numeric oneness to the exclusion of all others.

Five different words for "one" in the Bible:

Echad (OT) - (Unified one: Gen. 2:24; Deut. 6:4) (Absolute numeric one: Ezekiel 33:24) - Used of God’s oneness

Yachid (OT) - (Always absolute numeric one: Judges 11:34) - Never used of God’s oneness

Bad (OT) - (Absolute numeric one: Isaiah 37:20) - Used of God’s oneness

Hen (NT) - (Unified one: John 10:30; Matthew 19:5; Mk 12:29) (Absolute numeric one: Galatians 3:20) - Used of God’s oneness

Monos (NT) - (Absolute numeric one: Matthew 24:36; 1 Timothy 1:17) - Used of God’s oneness


Following are a number of Old Testament passages that are either directly quoted in the New Testament, or contain parallel thoughts:

Two shall become one flesh (Echad, Old Testament: Gen. 2:24) (Matt. 19:5)

God is one (Echad, Old Testament: Deut. 6:4) (Hen, New Testament: Mark 12:29,32; John 10:30; 1 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:6)

One people (Echad, Old Testament: Gen. 11:6; Gen. 34:16; Gen. 22) (Hen, New Testament: John 11:52; Gal. 3:28)

One heart (Echad, Old Testament: 2 Chron. 30:12; Jer. 32:39) (Hen, New Testament: Acts 4:32; Phil. 1:27; Phil. 2:2)

Two objects becoming one (Echad, Old Testament: sticks: Ezek. 37:17) (Hen, New Testament: flocks: John 10:16)

Assembly as one (Echad, Old Testament: Ezra 2:64) (Hen, New Testament: Romans 12:5, 15:6; 1 Cor. 12:5,12)

(the above information is from: Bible.ca)

652 comments:

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nick said...

Hello Jeff,

Appreciate the comments above but they are not entirely accurate.

I believe nothing absolutely nothing that implies, hints or demands any kind of three in one God by the word “echad. Search as you may but there is nothing of more than one is derived from the adjective word for “one.” Plurality is implied in the collective NOUN. The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures only emphatically affirms God’s “oneness.”

I have heard some argue that Moses would have to have used “yachid” (one in the singular form) in order to disprove the Trinity. However, it is highly unlikely Moses was concerned about trying to disprove the Trinity since he had no concept of a Trinity.

In fact, this argument of silence is hardly able to hold any credible position. Perhaps we can offer a better explanation on why Moses used the word “echad” when he said “God is one (echad).”
According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Moses wrote the word "one" 21 times in the book of Deuteronomy. Of those 21 times he wrote "one," 20 times he used the word echad. (Note: Deuteronomy 1:23; 4:42; 6:4 12:14; 15:7; 17:6; 19:5; 19:11; 19:15; 21:15; 23:16; 24:5; 25:5; 25:11 (2x); 28:7; 28:25; 28:64; 32:30.)

Some in these verses who are said to be "one" (echad) are various humans, a city, and a gate. Does Moses' use of echad suggest he was trying to convey those he said were echad were multiple persons in unity? The above verse shows this is obviously not what Moses had in mind.

The argument that Moses used echad for the special reason of supporting the Trinity is pointless. Of course Moses used the word echad when he said God was one. He used echad nearly every other time he wanted to say the word "one"!

In fact, 95 percent of the time Moses said "one" he used echad. The statistical data drawn from the book of Deuteronomy does not support the theory Moses' using echad in regard to God had any special significance. Since echad is about the only word for "one" Moses used in his writings, it would have been far more significant if Moses had not used echad in regard to God.

And whatever some Jews did to change the text after the inspired expression was made was unacceptable and not what the inspired writer intended.

Respectfully,

Nick Batchelor
nickhawaii@gmail.com

Jeff said...

Hi Nick.

Probably the most familiar Scripture quotation to Jews is "Shma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad," which is, "Hear O Israel the LORD our God is one LORD," Deuteronomy 6:4. This is the SHEMA, or "Hear..." with which the Jewish synagogue starts the daily liturgy morning and evening, and which every Jew is suppose to repeat at least once daily. It comes second in the 'Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith' as drawn up by Maimonides in the twelfth century. Jesus set His seal that this is the foundation pronouncement and the "first commandment" of the Mosaic law (Mark 12:29,30). Now, "Yachid" means "only", "solitary", "unique", and "singular". Would you not expect God to reveal Himself in His word, then, as "yachid"? Would He not identify Himself as the single, solitary, unique, and only God of Israel and the world? Yet He DOES NOT reveal Himself to us and the world as such. He says,"Shma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai ECHAD." Echad speaks of being "one", but not in the sense of being solitary. It is "one" in the sense of a "unit".

"Hear, O Israel: Jehovah [singular] our Gods [plural] is Jehovah ECHAD [echad--a unity].

The Hebrew plural for "our Gods" is ELOHENU, from ELOHIM which is the plural of ELOAH. Just as IM is the Hebrew plural in words like seraphin, and cherubim, so is ENU the plural possessive pronoun-suffix denoting things which belong to us; for instance, ABBOTHENU (our fathers) in Numbers 20:15, and PESHA'ENU (our transgressions) and AVONOTHENU (our iniquites) in Isaiah 53:5. So Deuteronomy 6:4 does indeed say, "Jehovah our Gods."

Now look at that Hebrew word, ECHAD: "Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah ECHAD." Admittedly, it is right to translate it as "Jehovah our Gods is ONE Jehovah," so long as we understand that ECHAD means "one" collectively or unitedly, not one as an absolute digit. That adjective, ECHAD, derives from ACHAD, which means to unify or to collect together. In the Old Testament, it occurs well over SIX HUNDRED TIMES, so we easily can ascertain its common use and meaning. The Hebrew language has an alternative word for "one," i.e., YACHID (feminine, YACHIDA) which does not often occur in the Old Testament, but is the word used whenever 'only one' is meant, or a single unit, as when Isaac is called Abraham's "only son," and Jephthah's daughter his "only daughter." Even that word can and sometimes does mean a kind of 'group one,' though more loosely than ECHAD. Its main emphasis is that of a single entity; and presumably that is the word that would have been used in Deuteronomy 6:4 if a mathematical oneness of God had been meant.

It is certainly true that, when a compound "one" is meant to be emphasied, ECHAD is the word used. It is used to express the oneness of evening and morning in one day, as in Genesis 1:5, "There was evening and there was morning, ONE day"; ALSO THE DUAL ONENESS OF WEDLOCK, AS IN GENESIS 2:24, "THEY TWO SHALL BE -ONE- FLESH." It denotes a multi-unit in Genesis 11:6, "Behold, they are ONE people," as it does also several times in Exodus 26, "And thou shalt make fifty clasps of brass and put the clasps into the loops and couple the tent together that it may be ONE." It is the word used in such phrases as "ONE cluster of grapes" (Numbers 13:23), "ONE company" (1 Samuel 13:17), "ONE troop" (2 Samuel 2:25), "ONE tribe" (1 Kings 11:13), "ONE nation" (1 Chronicles 17:21).

That is how it must be taken in Deuteronomy 6:4, after the plural ELOHENU ("our Gods"). What that great Shema says is "HEAR, O ISRAEL, JEHOVAH OUR GODS IS JEHOVAH A UNITY."

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

We need to take careful note of ECHAD and the plural ELOHENU (our Gods) in Deuteronomy 6:4. In the THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH FAITH, which is meant to be the standard guide for all Jews, why have the Jewish scholars who framed it changed that ECHAD in Deuteronomy 6 to that other word, YACHID? They were Hebrew specialists. They well knew the difference between ECHAD (a plural unity) and the other word, which denotes a single unity. As already mentioned, ECHAD is from the root ACHAD which means to collect together; and to this day ACHAD retains that meaning; for a Hebrew dictionary published (1949) in the new State of Israel gives the English equivalent of MU'ACHAD as "collective." Why then was ECHAD changed to YACHID in the THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF JEWISH FAITH? Undoubtedly that switch has much influenced general Jewish thinking as to the being of Jehovah.

In the "Authorized Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire," sanctioned by the late Chief Rabbi, Dr. N.M. Adler, YACHID is used of the eternal one, whereas Tenach (the Old Testament) never uses that word of Jehovah/Yahweh. Strikingly enough, though, there is one instance in which it is used of the Messiah, and where it remarkably confirms what we are saying here. The passage is Zechariah 12:10-14:

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives."

The "pierced" one in verse 12 is Jesus Christ. "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they mourn for Him as one mourneth for His ONLY Son, and shall be in bitterness for His firstborn." And on the heels of that, see chapter 14:9, where twice in one verse the collective unit, ECHAD, is used of Jehovah as being a compound or collective "one." "And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth. In that day there shall be ONE Jehovah, and His Name ONE." In view of such ample evidence, let it be grasped once for all that what Deuteronomy 6:4 really says is, "HEAR, O ISRAEL, JEHOVAH OUR GODS IS JEHOVAH A UNITY." Through defective transmission of its meaning, Jewish thought about God has been diverted from trinitarian monotheism to unitarian monotheism.

In the wording of the great "Shema" (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) that solemn word of God through Moses was DIRECTED NOT ONLY AGAINST POLYTHEISM BUT AGAINST MONOTHEISTIC UNITARIANISM, i.e., the worship of God as numerically one instead of complexly one.

(Please note that the bolded words are not meant to be yelling, but are merely an alternative, in this case, to bolding or italicizing the words, since I just don't feel like putting in all that HTML coding at the moment.)

Jeff said...

Every time we read, "And God said," "God saw," "God made," "God created," it is the plural, 'ELOHIM,' with a singular verb. What is even more arresting is that each time we have the compound name, JEHOVAH ELOHIM, Jehovah is singular, yet is linked with the plural, ELOHIM, suggesting a divine unity. And, perhaps most strikingly of all, that uni-plurality is again expressed in connection with man's expulsion from Eden. In 3:22-24: "And Jehovah [singular] Gods [plural]...so He [God: singular pronoun] drove out the man, and He [God: singular] placed...cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life."

Jeff said...

The word one Echad means, one made of parts. Like one building made with many bricks. Like a marriage where two become as one (Echad) flesh. King David understood the idea that God was expressed as one made of parts, or present in more than one place at one time. After his sin of adultery and murder over Bathsheba, he called out to God, who was in heaven above and asked Him not to take the Holy Spirit away from him. David understood that there was a part of God Himself living inside of Him. He speaks to God in heaven , while God the Spirit dwells in him: "Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me." (Psalm 51:11)

This was part of the anointing from God. It was only given to the prophets and Kings in that day, but in the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31, it is shown that this is to be given to all who are part of the covenant, the believers in Yeshua. This is the outpouring of the Spirit that was spoken of by Joel and witnessed by the people of Jerusalem on Pentecost.

JOEL 2:28 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."

JOEL 2:29 "Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."

There are many examples that show the Spirit as being separate from God the father. Here is one from Isaiah:

ISA 63:11 "Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people-- where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them..."

Jeff said...

Genesis 2:24 says, "the two shall become one [echad] flesh." This is a plural unity, where two or more things are combined into one.

Genesis 11:6 says, "The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." Again, a plural unity. In Genesis 11:6, "echad" is used to speak of numerous people, the same word used for ONE Lord in the Hebrew Shema. TENACH (Old Testament) (Old Testament) reads,"And the LORD said, Behold the people (is) one-echad..." And in Genesis 11:7: "Go to, let US go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So God is a UNITY.

In Genesis, Pharoah speaks to Joseph of two individual dreams, and asks Joseph to interpret them. It states,"And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh [is] ECHAD, is one...." (Genesis 41:25). "Yachid" is not used, even though the dream was "one", because the one dream was composed of two parts. Still the two dreams were "echad" - one.

Look at Genesis 1:1. There it reads, "Brayshit bara ELOHIM et hashamayim veh et haaretz." Notice the word of God, 'Elohim.' It, in itself, is not a singular noun, but a plural noun. In Hebrew, a person can speak in the singular, dual, and plural. "El" is the word for a singular god. "Eloha" is the word for dual or two gods. "Elohim" is the word for the plural or three or more gods. God reveals to us in His word, TENACH (Old Testament), that He is "One", a "unity", and at the same time "plural", consisting of at least three personalities, because He uses the plural word "Elohim", and not "El" or "Eloha" to define Himself.

In Genesis 1:1, we are told about God Himself. In Genesis 1:2, we see the second Person of the unified Godhead. "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." So there are two of the personalities - God Himself, and God the Holy Spirit.

Look at Genesis 1:26. "And Elohim [Gods] said, Let Us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness...". Notice the use of the plural personal pronouns.

Look at Isaiah 48:16. "Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this, I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there [am] I; and now the Lord GOD and His Spirit, hath sent Me." This verse shows the two personalities of the Godhead, and also reveals the third. The third is recognized to be of the Godhead also because the verse speaks of his being from "the beginning". In other words, He has always been. But who is the third member of the unified (echad) Godhead? Is he revealed in TENACH (Old Testament)? Yes! The book of Solomon's wisdom, Proverbs, states Who He is at Proverbs 30:4. "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name?". And that Name would have to be the LORD GOD. Notice the ending of the verse- "....and what (is) His SON'S Name, if thou canst tell?" His SON'S Name - God's Son. Then God has a Son! He is the third and last revealed person of the unified Godhead, a Godhead that does all things with a common purpose and goal.

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

What is the Son's purpose? The Son came to earth to redeem fallen man, and each of us needs to be redeemed from our sins. "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy; [there is] none that doeth good, no not one." Psalm 14:2,3. "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things] and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9. "Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, [and] all the nations that forget God." Psalm 9:17. How did He go about to redeem sinful man? "Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered." Psalm 32:1. He covered the sins of those who called upon His Name. What did He cover them with? "For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11. His own blood covered the sins. How did He give His blood? "He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him? He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:3-6. "For dogs have compassed Me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet." Psalm 22:16. He poured out his blood in torment as He was slain upon the tree on Golgotha, as our substitute. Who is God's Son; what is His Name? "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. God's Son is the Man Who was also "God with us" in flesh, for so is the interpretation of Immanuel. He was the one who died on the tree on Golgotha and was buried, but rose again on the third day. "For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." Psalm 16:9. His Name is known from history, but it is also used in TENACH (Old Testament) in may forms. His Name is given in Psalm 62 as "My Salvation", "Yeshuati", in Psalm 69:29 as "Thy Salvation", "Yeshuatkha", and in Psalm 149:4 as "with Salvation", "Beshua". His Name in Hebrew is Yeshua. He is Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. In English, He is Jesus The Messiah. If you will, do as Elohim asks. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD..." Isaiah 1:18; come to Him and reason with Him about your sins. Acknowledge them; repent of them; and call on Yeshua Ha-Mashiach's Name, asking Him to blot out your sins with His blood. "And it shall come to pass [that] whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be delivered (saved)." Joel 2:32. In doing so you will know the One, True God. You will truly understand the meaning of Shma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for sharing me your thoughts.

Can you simply explain this for me?

Why is Abraham referred to as ONE (ECHAD) at Isaiah 51:2.

Check out Ezekiel 33:24, "Abraham was only one (ECHAD) man, yet he possessed the land." (NIV)

Is Abraham not a singular entity?

The use of “ECHAD” in this passage shows that it can most certainly be used of a single subject, without implying any kind of "compound oneness" right?

Appreciate you explaining this for me.

Respectfully,

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

The use of “ECHAD” in this passage shows that it can most certainly be used of a single subject, without implying any kind of "compound oneness" right?

I have already given the answer to that in the article.

As I have already stated in the article, “The Hebrew word "echad" is used most often as a unified one, and sometimes as numeric oneness.” The issue, however, is that the word “yachid,” the main Hebrew word for solitary oneness, is never used in reference to God.

Something else to consider is Pardes, which are types of approaches to biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism, or interpretation of the text in Torah study. PaRDeS is actually an acronym formed from the capitalized initials which represent four approaches:
-Peshat, which means “plain” or “simple.” This stands for the direct meaning.
-Remez, which means “hints” or the deep, allegorical, hidden, or symbolic meaning beyond just the literal sense.
-Derash (Hebrew, darash), means to “inquire” or ‘seek,” and is the comparitive (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
-Sod (pronounced like “sode”), which means “secret” or “mystery,” or the mystical meaning as given through inspiration or revelation.

Why are there these different approaches? Because many times in Scripture, there are things that have a deeper meaning. An example might be Ecclesiastes 12:1, where the Hebrew actually reads, ‘remember your CREATORS,’ but in English it simply reads ‘Creator.’

One thing I want to point out is that it is not a tri-theism (3 gods), but a tri-unity, or trinity.

Once again, if ‘echad’ meant only a singular, numerical one when it was being used to describe God, then there would have been no reason for those Jewish scholars, who well knew the meaning of echad, to change the word in Deuteronomy 6 and in the Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith. If ‘echad’ only meant a singular unit, it would be pointless to change the word.

God exists as one Being composed of three distinct, yet co-equal Persons. An egg is one egg, but it has 3 parts: (1) the shell, (2) the white (albumen), and (3) the yolk (yellow). Or you might think of an atom. It has 3 basic parts: (1) proton, (2) neutron, and (3) electron. Yet it is 1 atom. Of course, these are very imperfect ways to describe the Trinity. Helpful comparisons have been made to things like an egg, the sun, water, etc., in order to try to explain the Trinity, but all of these comparisons fall short, since God exists in a unique manner from His creation. No created being is omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent, for example, yet God is all of these things.

Fish have gills. People do not have gills. Birds have feathers. People do not have feathers. Worms do not walk on two feet like people do. So why should we expect God to be exactly like us? With people, 1 being = 1 person. But with God, 1 Being = 3 Persons. So, all of this has to do with a plural unity, which echad is meant as, every time it describes God.

St. Patrick (A.D. 432) is believed to have used the shamrock (a 3-leafed clover) as a way of illustrating the Trinity. He asked, “Is this one leaf or three? If one leaf, why are there three lobes of equal size? If three leaves, why is there just one stem? If you cannot explain so simple a mystery as the shamrock, how can you hope to understand one so profound as the Holy Trinity?” Even though this is an overly simple way to explain the Trinity, some teachers find it helpful.

nick said...

-continuing

Here are 2 other examples, how should these be understood?

2 Samuel 1:15 (English Standard Version)

15Then David called one (ECHAD) of the young men and said, "Go, execute him." And he struck him down so that he died.

1 Kings 4:19 (English Standard Version)

19Geber the son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and of Og king of Bashan. And there was one (ECHAD) governor who was over the land.

Even respected Trinitarian apologist Rob Bowman when asked if the “Echad” argument is absolute proof of a “Compound-unity,” he wrote: I disagree with that argument as well. The Hebrew word ECHAD does not mean a plurality in unity (as Trinitarians sometimes claim); nor does it mean a unity with no plurality (as anti-Trinitarians sometimes claim). It just means a unity; it is the common Hebrew word for "one." Whether a plurality is involved within that unity must be determined from other considerations."

In other words, no one can point to the word “echad,” as decisive proof of a “multi-person God.”

Other considerations that are more explicit must be examined since the word in itself is not verifiable.

Lastly, the word “hen” either does not mean one in being but simply could denote unity in view of the context.

At 1 Corinthians 3:6, 8, Paul talks about he that plants and he that waters are “one” (hen). Did Paul mean that he they would become “one being” or that they were simply united in purpose?
The Greek word that Paul used here for "one" (hen) is neuter, literally "one (thing)," indicating oneness in cooperation. It is the same word that Jesus used at John 10:30 to describe his relationship with his Father.

It is also the same word that Jesus used at John 17:21, 22. So when he used the word "one" (hen) in these cases, he was talking about unity of thought and purpose. Jesus prayed to God that his disciples may all be one (hen), JUST AS you, Father, are one (hen) with me.”

His followers would not literally become a “compound unity,” in being with him and His Father would they?

Regarding John 10:30, John Calvin (who was a Trinitarian) said in the book Commentary on the Gospel According to John: "The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is …of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father."

It is interesting what third century Novatian had to say: "Since He said 'one' thing, let the heretics understand that He did not say 'one' person. For one placed in the neuter, intimates the social concord, not the personal unity. . . . Moreover, that He says one, has reference to the agreement, and to the identity of judgment, and to the loving association itself, as reasonably the Father and Son are one in agreement, in love, and in affection." (Treatise Concerning the Trinity, chapter 27.)

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

"ECHAD" simply means "one." It is no different in meaning than the English word/number "one." Your argument is like saying that since I can make reference to "one" loaf of bread (which has many slices), this means that the word "one" carries the idea of "plurality in unity"--an utterly bizarre and non-sensical argument.

The "evidence" for a compound-unity in the adjective "one" is not as convincing as portrayed. I recently spoke with a friend of mine who teaches Biblical Hebrew. He once wrote me this below:

"If I asked an Israeli kid age 6 to count to 5, he was say "echad, snahyim, schloshah, arbahah, hhamisha etc." "Echad" is simply the word for "one."
Like English it can be used to describe one orange or one dozen of oranges. Note some uses of echad in the Bible:

Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one (echad) language and a common speech.

Genesis 22:3 ........as a burnt offering on one (echad) of the mountains...

Exodus 11:1 .........I will bring one (echad) more plague on Pharoah...

Leviticus 23:24 ....... on the first (echad) day of the seventh month you are to...

What more do you need? (unquote)

Look up Genesis 42:13 (English Standard Version)

13And they said, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one (ECHAD) man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one (ECHAD) is no more."

Ask yourself this question: “Can anyone have more than one biological father? The answer is obvious, no!

How many brothers are indicated by the use of ECHAD also at Genesis 42:13 in the phrase “one is no more” in reference to one whom they thought was dead? It was only one person, Joseph, who is the subject of the reference and Joseph was only a single person, their half-brother.

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

As far as “echad,” you are not really saying anything new. All you are doing is focusing on an alternative meaning of “echad” which is never used to describe God. If God were not a Trinity, then “yachid” would most certainly be used to describe God, but that is not the case. And to compare “echad” to the word “one” is not a problem, because God is most certainly one God, even in English. “Echad,” “hen” and “one” can all be used when talking about a plural unity or a unified one. When you said, Did Paul mean that he they would become “one being” or that they were simply united in purpose? you are creating a straw man argument. In my example, “"the two shall become one (hen) flesh,” it is obvious that a married couple is not one being. As I continue to state, because God is unique, there is no perfect earthly comparison to the Trinity.

Your quote said that “Whether a plurality is involved within that unity must be determined from other considerations." This is nothing new. Scripture must always be compared with Scripture, and Scripture verses must always be taken in their context.

You yourself admitted that Like English it can be used to describe one orange or one dozen of oranges. I have already pointed out to you that ONE egg has different parts, ONE couple is composed of two members, and ONE atom has different parts. A group is ONE compound unit. A network is ONE compound unit. ONE musical band is composed of different members. There are countless examples.

You said:
Regarding John 10:30, John Calvin (who was a Trinitarian) said in the book Commentary on the Gospel According to John: "The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is …of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father."

When Calvin said, "The ancients made a wrong use of this passage", he was referring to the era of 325 AD when the Nicene Creed was written. Jesus was not trying to teach that he was "mechanically" or ontologically made of the same stuff as the Father (even though that may in fact be true). Jesus was teaching that He was as divine as the Father. Christ does not, in this passage, explain fully and distinctly what he is, as he would have done among his disciples; he rather dwells on refuting the slander of his enemies. Also, Calvin even mentions the Arians, who first conceived their false non-Trinitarian doctrine in 300 AD.

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

You also quoted Novatian. Novatian is not considered completely orthodox. In fact, he began a sect (Novatianist schism) which spread with some success to Spain and to Syria. In the latter place it lasted for several centuries. The sect was schismatic not so much for doctrinal differences but for its insistence on rigorist practices (Jurgens, volume 1, p. 246). He didn't deny the Trinity explicitly -- he was more in Origen's camp. There is NO Church Father that explicitly says -- "I deny the Trinity... I deny God is three persons.....I deny the Son is God....." etc. Yes, there was a certain development of doctrine, but no one really explicitly denied the Trinity of God in three persons.

In fact, here are two quotes from Novatian's De Trinitate ("The Trinity"):

"We do not treat of the substance of [Christ's] body in such a way as to say that He was only and solely a man; rather, we hold that by the association of the DIVINITY of the Word in that very corporality, HE WAS, in accord with the Scriptures, ALSO GOD [John 1:1; Col 2:9].”

"It is [the HOLY SPIRIT] that effects with water a second birth. HE [personal pronoun] IS a kind of seed of divine generation and the consecrator of heavenly birth, the pledge of a promised inheritance [Eph 1:14], and, as it were, a kind of surety bond of eternal salvation. It is HE [personal pronoun] that can make of us a temple of God [1 Cor 3:17], and can complete us as HIS house; HE [personal pronoun] that can accost the divine ears for us with unutterable groaning [Rom 8:26], fulfilling the duties of advocate and performing the functions of defense; HE [personal pronoun] that is an inhabitant given to our bodies, and a worker of holiness.”

Nick, at first I was wondering if you might be a Jewish Anti-Missionary, but now I’m guessing that you are a Jehovah’s Witness. Am I correct?

Jeff said...

There is substantial evidence supporting the concept of the Trinity in the Old Testament. Apart from the individual references to each of the three “parts” of the Trinity, we also find other indications that God is made up of multiple “natures,” or better, “persons.” For example, the very first reference to God in the Bible implies the Trinity. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word used here for God is Elohiym. This is very significant because the word Elohiym is plural (the “iym” at the end is like adding an “s” in English). In face, elohiym is frequently used in reference to multiple gods. However, the grammatical context in Genesis 1:1 and elsewhere clearly indicates a supreme single God.

Notice further that, when God is referred to at the creation of mankind (Genesis 1:26), the words are, “Let us make man in our image.” Again, this refers to the plural nature of a single God, which is made clear by the grammar.

The first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2,3) gives us a clear picture, again, of the importance of the singular God in three persons context. It states, “I [singular] am the LORD your God [Elohiym, plural], who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods [same word, elohiym, plural] before Me [singular].” Here again, God reveals Himself in language as a single God in essence, with multiple “persons” that comprise Him—this, not three different gods, but one.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Again, thanks for your kind reply.
Appreciate your comments on the "church Fathers." They certainly were not in agreement with themselves quite often. Although I do not believe that many of them understood the Trinity as modern Trinitarians do today.

Yes, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I grew up with a diversified religious family. My father was a Pentecostal and my mother one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I came to realize that the JW's had the most consistent Scriptural support for their belief. Another discussion.

It would be difficult to improve upon, or communicate in a clearer way, Anthony Buzzard’s observations with respect to this common though erroneous argument that "echad" is means a compound unity.

Please carefully read this below:
He wrote: It is untrue to say that the Hebrew word echad (one) in Deuteronomy 6:4 points to ‘compound unity.’ A recent defense on the Trinity (Robert Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues (World Publishing, 1996) argues that when ‘one’ modifies a collective noun like ‘bunch’ or ‘herd,’ a plurality is implied in echad. The argument is fallacious. The sense of plurality is derived from the collective noun (herd, etc.), not from the word ‘one.’ Echad in Hebrew is the numeral ‘one.’ ‘Abraham was one (echad)’ (Ezek. 33:24; ‘only one man,’ NIV). Isaiah 5:12 also describes Abraham as ‘one’ (echad; ‘alone,’ KJV; ‘the only one,’ NJB), where there is no possible misunderstanding about the meaning of this simple word. Echad appears in translation as the numeral ‘one,’ ‘only,’ ‘alone,’ ‘entire, undivided,’ ‘one single.’ (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 1:194.

continuing...

nick said...

-concluding

Hence, some Trinitarians have argued, the Old Testament has a view of a united Godhead. It is, of course, true that the meaning of the word may in some contexts denote a unified plurality (e.g. Gen. 2:24, ‘they shall become one flesh’). But this really proves nothing. An examination of the Old Testament usage reveals that the word echad is as capable of various meanings as is our English word one. The context must determine whether a numerical or unified singularity is intended.’ (Gregory Boyd, Oneness Pentecostals and the Trinity (Baker Book House, 1995), 47, 48…It has sometimes been argued that God would have been described as yachid, i.e. ‘solitary, isolated, the only one,’ if there were only one person in the Godhead. The use of echad (‘one single’), however, is quite sufficient to indicate that the One Person comprises the Deity. Yachid is rare in biblical Hebrew. It carries in the Bible the meaning ‘beloved,’ ‘only-begotten’ or ‘lonely’ and would be inappropriate as a description for the Deity. (Yachid is in fact found as a description of the One God in the Pseudepigrapha.) There is another Hebrew word bad, ‘alone, by oneself, isolated,’ which does in fact describe the One God. Deuteronomy 4:35 states that ‘there is no one else besides Him.’ The absolute singularity of the One God is similarly emphasized when He is addressed: ‘You are Jehovah alone’ (Neh. 9:6), ‘You are God alone, the God of all the Kingdoms of the earth’ (2 Kings 19:15), ‘You alone are God’ (Ps. 86:10). The One God of Israel is a single person, unrivaled and in a class of His own. He is One, with all the mathematical simplicity implied by that word.


Buzzard & Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity, pp. 25-29. “Morey includes a footnote to p. 25 of the standard Lexicon of Biblical Hebrew for support. But the page he appeals to contains not a word of support for his theory that ‘one’ really means ‘compound unity.’ The lexicons rightly define ‘one’ as the cardinal number ‘one.’ Echad is the word for ‘one’ in counting. Imagine the chaos of communication if ‘one’ really means more than one. Ecclesiastes 4:9 speaks of two being better than one (echad). The use of ‘one’ in the sentence ‘The two shall become one flesh’ does not mean that ‘one’ is really plural. It means that two human beings in marriage become one (not two) things. The idea of plurality is not found in the word ‘one’ at all. It is found in the context: male and female human persons.” ¾Buzzard, Does Everyone Believe In The Trinity?

nick said...

-continuing

The claim that ‘one’ really means ‘compound oneness’ is an example of argument by assertion without logical proof. Robert Morey holds that echad does not mean an absolute one but a compound one. The argument involves an easily detectable linguistic fallacy. Echad appears some 960 times in the Hebrew Bible and in no case does the word itself carry a hint of plurality. It strictly means ‘one and not two or more.’ Echad is a numerical adjective and naturally enough is sometimes found modifying a collective noun—one family, one herd, one bunch. But we should observe carefully that the sense of plurality resides in the compound noun and not in the word echad (one). Early in Genesis we learn that ‘the two will become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24). The word ‘one’ here means precisely one and no more (one flesh and not two ‘fleshes’!). One bunch of grapes is just that—one and not two bunches. Thus when God is said to be ‘one Lord’ (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29, NASV) He is a single Lord and no more…Our point can be confirmed in any lexicon of biblical Hebrew. The lexicon by Koehler and Baumgartner gives as the fundamental meaning of echad, ‘one single.’ (Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1967) When the spies returned with evidence of the fruitfulness of the Promised Land they carried ‘a single (echad) cluster of grapes’ (Num. 13:23, NRSV). Echad is often rendered ‘a single,’ or ‘only one.’ (See RSV, Exod. 10:19, ‘a single locust’; Exod. 33:5, ‘a single moment’; Deut. 19:15, ‘a single witness,’ etc.) Thus when it comes to the matter of Israel’s creed, the text informs us (as do the multiple singular pronouns for God) that Israel’s supreme Lord is ‘one single Lord,’ ‘one Lord alone.’ It has been necessary to belabor our point because the recent defense of the Trinity makes the astonishing assertion that echad always implies a ‘compound unity.’ The author then builds his case for a multi-personal God on what he thinks is a firm foundation in the Hebrew Bible. The linguistic fact is that echad never means ‘compound one,’ but strictly a ‘single one.’ The fact that ‘many waters were gathered to one (echad) place’ (Gen. 1:9) provides no data at all for a compound sense for one, much less for a plurality in the Godhead. (In Genesis 1, 2 alone, we have examples of ‘one day,’ ‘one place,’ ‘one of his ribs,’ ‘one of us.’ …Since the strange argument about a so-called ‘plurality’ in the word one is so widespread and has apparently been accepted uncritically, we add here the comments of a Trinitarian professor of theology who concedes that the popular argument from the word echad (one) is as frail as the argument from the word elohim. ‘No case for a multi-personal God can be based on the fact that ‘one’ in Hebrew and English may sometimes modify a collective term: Even weaker [than the argument from Elohim] is the argument that the Hebrew word for ‘one’ (echad) used in the Shema (‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord’) refers to a unified one, not an absolute one.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Regarding the title, “elohim,” even Trinitarian apologist Robert Bowman, speaking in reference to one of our booklets that he disagreed with about the Trinity, Rob admitted: “I would agree with the booklet’s argument that the plural form elohim for God in the Old Testament cannot be evidence of the Trinity…”

The famous trinitarian scholar, Robert Young, (Young's Analytical Concordance and Young's Literal Translation of the Bible) wrote in his Young's Concise Critical Commentary, p. 1,

"Heb. elohim, a plural noun ... it seems to point out a superabundance of qualities in the Divine Being rather than a plurality of persons .... It is found almost invariably accompanied by a verb in the singular number."

Both Exodus 4:16 and 7:1 show God calling Moses "a god" (elohim). This alone shows the error of some that the plural elohim must mean a "plural oneness" unless we want to believe Moses was a multiple-person Moses!

And The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan Publishing, 1986, tells us:

"Elohim, though plural in form, is seldom used in the OT as such (i.e. `gods'). Even a single heathen god can be designated with the plural elohim (e.g. Jdg. 11:24; 1 Ki. 11:5; 2 Ki. 1:2). In Israel the plural is understood as the plural of fullness; God is the God who really, and in the fullest sense of the word, is God." - p. 67, Vol. 2.

The NIV Study Bible says about elohim in its footnote for Gen. 1:1:

"This use of the plural expresses intensification rather than number and has been called the plural of majesty, or of potentiality." – p. 6, Zondervan Publ., 1985.

And the New American Bible (St. Joseph ed.) tells us in its "Bible Dictionary" in the appendix:

"ELOHIM. Ordinary Hebrew word for God. It is the plural of majesty." – Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1970.

A Dictionary of the Bible by William Smith (Smith's Bible Dictionary, p. 220, Hendrickson Publ.) declares:
"The fanciful idea that [elohim] referred to the trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God."

And the prestigious work edited by Hastings says about this:

"It is exegesis of a mischievous if pious sort that would find the doctrine of the Trinity in the plural form elohim [God]" ("God," Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics).

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

Anthony Buzzard is a Unitarian. Unitarians do not believe in the pre-existence of Jesus; they believe the Holy Spirit is merely another name for God, rather than the Third Person of the Trinity; and they don’t believe the devil is a personal entity, but rather merely a personification of evil. All of these are false, unbiblical doctrines. So Anthony Buzzard begins with a false, unbiblical foundation and bases what he says about the Trinity on that fallacious, erroneous foundation.

The fact is that “one” can mean “composite unity”, whether in Hebrew or English. If I say, “they are one,” the “one” represents the unity of “they.” Therefore, in the case of “they are one,” “one” represents a composite of distinct parts or units. If I say, “the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one Being,” the “one” represents a composite Being composed of three Persons. So, if I say, “YHWH is one,” “one” can most certainly be a composite unity, composed of distinct parts.

From “Siyyag LeChokhmah,” an anthology on silence as a religious practice published by Mesilos HaTorah, Jerusalem (2000), p. 127, “Conscious of his surroundings again, the Rebbe replied, “If one knows the meaning of echad (Oneness), it is impossible not to be immersed in thought.” So, according to this source, ‘echad’ is ‘oneness,’ which corresponds with two or more things being united as one…a unified whole.

God is not 1+1+1; neither is God 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3. Though God cannot be limited to mathematical or biological rules or limitations, we can describe the Trinity, albeit in a very limited fashion, more correctly as 1 X 1 X 1.

We are really running back and forth over the same ground here. But I will say it once again:

The Hebrew word for one is echad. By comparing the usage of echad elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is clear that this word refers to a compound one, not an absolute one. For example, Genesis 1:5 states: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. The combination of evening and morning comprised the unity of echad, or one day. Another key passage is Genesis 2:24: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. A man and a woman who come together in marriage are said to become one [echad] flesh. There are two personalities, a man and a woman, coming together in marriage, and the two become one. Obviously, they do not become an absolute one, for they retain their separate personalities; however, there is definitely a unity there. Another example is Ezra 3:1, where the whole assembly of Israel was as one [echad]. Although it was comprised of numerous individuals, they were all looked upon as one; obviously a united one. Another example is Ezekiel 37:17, where Ezekiel is told to put two sticks together, and they are combined to become one [echad] stick. These examples of the usage of the word echad in the Hebrew text, which is the very same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4, show that it speaks of a compound unity, not an absolute unity.

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

Yachid, on the other hand, is used in Genesis 22:2, where it emphasizes Isaac as Abraham's only, unique son. So, if Moses had wanted to emphasize absolute oneness of God, he would have used the term yachid. But he did not use that term for the oneness of God. Deuteronomy 6:4 is, therefore, an argument in favor of the plurality of the Godhead and, at the same time, it teaches the unity of this plurality of the one God.

Baal means master. Baalim means masters. Seraph means an angel. Seraphim means many angels.
Therefore, if Baal-im and Seraph-im mean more than one, would not Eloh-im also mean more than one?

In Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me,” ‘gods’ is elohim, which is plural.
In Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” ‘Elohim’ is also used for ‘God.’
If the word is plural and means ‘gods’ in one instance, then it must be plural in the other instance, for it is spelled exactly the same way.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, which I mentioned earlier, the word Elohenu is used.
Abhothenu means “Our fathers.”
Eholayenu means “our sicknesses.”
Pesha’enu means “our transgressions.”
Avonothenu means “our sins.”
“If all these words ending in enu means ‘fathers’, ‘sicknesses’, ‘transgressions’, and ‘sins’, then surely Eloh-enu means ‘Gods’~~plural.”

In Genesis, we are told that a man was to leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two were to become one flesh. When the two are married, they become one. That is Echad. God speaks similarly about Himself. The Shema really says, “THE LORD OUR GODS IS ONE LORD”—Echad--a unity.” The Scriptures teach that there is a Godhead of more than one, and that the second Person of the Godhead came to earth to dwell among us and gave His life for us all.

“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness....” (Genesis 1:26)

“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil....” (Genesis 3:22)

“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17)

nick said...

-continuing

The King James Version even translates this OT Hebrew word (basar) as "KIN" at Lev. 18:6 and 25:49. The New English Bible translates it "blood-relation."

With this common understanding for "flesh" it is clear that the expression "one flesh" at Gen. 2:24 can simply mean that the two married people are now to be considered as closely related as "blood-relatives."

In other words, their closest "flesh" (relatives) used to be their parents. Now they are to consider their new relationship to one another as being even stronger than that with their parents:

"therefore shall a man leave his mother and father" - Genesis 2:24.

If someone argues that a man and woman somehow, in some mysterious supernatural way, literally become one flesh, is simply not what was intended in the original language.

It is no more mysterious than my saying that my wife DeAnna and I (and our family) have become a single (or "one") family ("relationship," "kin"). I certainly don't mean to imply some "mysterious" plurality by the word "single" even though there happen to be two (or more) members in that one family (relationship, "flesh").

Or, a person could have dozens of members in his one, single family ("flesh"). Or, a person might be the sole surviving member ("absolute mathematical oneness") of his one family - it's still only one family and the singularity or plurality of its composition has nothing whatsoever to do with its being one single family!

It's no different from talking about two families, three families, etc. We are talking about a definite mathematical number of families, not the numerical composition within those families. The "one flesh" example works exactly that same way.

You also surprised me with this incredible statement: “So Deuteronomy 6:4 does indeed say, "Jehovah our Gods." Can you state one Trinitarian Bible translation that has ever remotely translated this text in such a way that it appears the way you say it should? Can you name one? Even from a Trinitarian interpretive Bible, a loose translation, a para-phrase, anywhere??? Could you do this for me? I would be very interested to see. Also, is this how an Israelite living in Moses time truly would have understood this text? Seriously.

Something else I would like to clarify. Yes, I did admit that in (echad) could be used to describe one orange or one dozen of oranges. Then I could use the number two to describe two oranges or two dozen oranges. Three oranges and three dozen oranges, etc… There is no difference.

The plurality is not in the number one (echad) itself but in what it happens to be describing, “a dozen,” “a cluster,” “a herd.” Two dozen, two clusters, two herds…

Thanks for your valuable time and please enjoy the day,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Hope all is well wherever you are.
You are right that Anthony Buzzard has many erroneous ideas that are not Scriptural. I interacted with him intensely for 2 years examining many topics.

We both would agree with one another that the Son DEFINITELY had a pre-human existence. He was alongside or with the Father. (John 17:5) It is obvious that someone was with God when he said, "Let us make man in our image." (Genesis 1:26) I don't believe he was talking to himself or a part of himself but to a completely separate entity or individual, His Son who he "made all things through." (Hebrews 1:2)

However, Mr. Buzzard is correct in his evaluation of “Echad” and "Elohim," and a growing number of well-respected Trinitarians would have to agree. This cannot be denied.

There are so many things you brought up that need addressing and further examination but I will just go over one main point at this time.

The examples given by some trinitarians to show a "plural oneness" meaning for echad don't seem to stand up under closer scrutiny. The Genesis 2:24 example of a man and wife becoming "one (echad) flesh" certainly does not mean one literal body of flesh is composed of two people.

A man and wife becoming "one flesh" also doesn't mean that two different persons suddenly become equal or identical. They are still two distinct individuals (one is lord and head over the other according to the Bible) and do not share nervous, circulatory, skeletal, etc. systems. They both did not have to (and, in fact, did not) come into existence at the same time, nor do they both have the same minds, personalities, nor even equal authority!

So, then, how did the Bible writers understand that the two became "one"? It should be enough to show that being "one" with someone else merely shows how two (or more) people are "united in purpose" as though they were one person in that respect only (purpose).

Another way a man and wife can be considered "one flesh" has to do with what the word "flesh" (basar) meant in ancient Biblical Hebrew. Any good concordance will show you that "flesh" (basar) in Bible usage often means a close relative. Genesis 37:27 is an example of this: "for he is our brother and our flesh."
And the equivalent NT Greek word for "flesh" (sarx) could be used in the same manner. At Ro 11:14, "my flesh (sarx)" - KJV is also rendered: "my fellow Jews" - RSV; "my own race" - MLB, TEV, GNB, NEB; "my own people" - NIV; "my fellow countrymen" - NASB.

-continuing

Jeff said...

Regarding the title, “elohim,” even Trinitarian apologist Robert Bowman, speaking in reference to one of our booklets that he disagreed with about the Trinity, Rob admitted: “I would agree with the booklet’s argument that the plural form elohim for God in the Old Testament cannot be evidence of the Trinity…”

The reason he is saying that the plural elohim in reference to Yahweh can’t be used as support for the Trinity doctrine is that Elohim literally means “gods,” not a plurality of Persons within God. Trinitarian theology does not teach that the Trinity constitutes more than one God. This would be polytheism or tri-theism. Rather, it teaches a plurality of Persons partaking of the one God’s “essence.” As I stated before, there is no perfect comparison on earth to God, since God is unique. Therefore, only imperfect comparisons, such as figures of speech, can be made. Hence, even though “God” is not multiple gods, “Elohim” is used.

Gen. 1:26: "Then God said, 'Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.'" Who is “Us?” God did not speak to the angels here, since Scripture never says the angels are creators, or even assistant creators. This, in fact, speaks of the Trinity.

Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Again, “us” denotes the Trinity.

Genesis 11:7: “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." Once again, “us” denotes the Trinity.

Genesis 3:22: “And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." And again, “us” denotes the Trinity.

"Let US make man in OUR image" (Gen 1:26) cannot be "Plural of Majesty" because this poetic device did not even exist in scripture until after the Old Testament was completed. The apostolic fathers had never heard of "plural of majesty", much less believe it. They unanimously interpreted Gen 1:26 as the Father speaking to the Son.

Jeff said...

There are no examples in the either the Old or New Testament of Plural of Majesty. The earliest we find this poetic device being used in about the 4th century during the Byzantine era. Other cultures that lived during the time of Moses never used the plural "Elohim", the way the Bible does, but instead used the simple singular "el". This nicely silences two different sets of heretics: First, it silences the Bible-trashing liberals, who falsely claim the plural "elohim" is a carry-over from a previous polytheistic origin of Judaism. Second, it silences the anti-Trinitarians, who falsely claim "plural of majesty" was widespread in all cultures in history.

"Every one who is acquainted with the rudiments of the Hebrew and Chaldee languages, must know that God, in the holy Writings, very often spoke of Himself in the plural. The passages are numerous, in which, instead of a grammatical agreement between the subject and predicate, we meet with a construction, which some modern grammarians, who possess more of the so-called philosophical than of the real knowledge of the Oriental languages, call a pluralis excellentiae. This helps them out of every apparent difficulty. Such a pluralis excellentiae was, however, a thing unknown to Moses and the prophets. Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, David, and all the other kings, throughout TeNaKh (the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa) speak in the singular, and not as modern kings in the plural. They do not say we, but I, command; as in Gen. xli. 41; Dan. iii. 29; Ezra i. 2, etc." (Rabbi Tzvi Nassi, Oxford University professor, The Great Mystery, 1970, p6)

"This first person plural can hardly be a mere editorial or royal plural that refers to the speaker alone, for no such usage is demonstrable anywhere else in biblical Hebrew. Therefore, we must face the question of who are included in this "us" and "our." It could hardly include the angels in consultation with God, for nowhere is it ever stated that man was created in the image of angels, only of God. Verse 27 then affirms: "and God [Elohim] created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them" (NASB). God--the same God who spoke of Himself in the plural--now states that He created man in His image. In other words, the plural equals the singular. This can only be understood in terms of the Trinitarian nature of God. The one true God subsists in three Persons, Persons who are able to confer with one another and carry their plans into action together--without ceasing to be one God." (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason Archer, p.359, commenting on whether Gen 1:26 is a "plural of majesty")

"The best answer that they [Old Hebrew lexicographers and grammarians] could give was that the plural form used for the name (or title) of God was the ‘pluralis majestatis,’ that is the plural of majesty…to say nothing of the fact that it is not at all certain that the ‘pluralis majestatis’ is ever found in the Old Testament, there is an explanation much nearer at hand and much simpler, and that is, that a plural name was used for the one God, in spite of the intense monotheism of the Jews, because there is a plurality of person in the one Godhead." (The God of the Bible, R. A.Torrey, 1923, p 64)

"Another very popular view in modem times is that God uses the plural, just as kings do, as a mark of dignity (the so-called "plural of majesty"), but it is only late in Jewish history that such a form of speech occurs, and then it is used by Persian and Greek rulers (Esdr. iv. 18; 1 Mace. x. 19). Nor can the plural be regarded as merely indicating the way in which God summons Himself to energy, for the use of the language is against this (Gen. ii. 18; Is. xxxiii. 10)." (Trinity, A Catholic Dictionary, William E. Addis & Thomas Arnold, 1960, p 822-830)

Jeff said...

180 AD, Irenaeus: "It was not angels, therefore, who made us, nor who formed us, neither had angels power to make an image of God, nor any one else, except the Word of the Lord, nor any Power remotely distant from the Father of all things. For God did not stand in need of these [beings], in order to the accomplishing of what He had Himself determined with Himself beforehand should be done, as if He did not possess His own hands. For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness; " [Gen. 1:26]" (Against Heresies, 4:20:1).

Plural references to God:

Two plural nouns are applied to God: God and Lord, are almost always plural when applied to God. These two plural nouns (God - elohim, Lord - adonai) are the two most frequently used nouns of God in the Old Testament.

Three plural pronouns, (We, Us, Our) used 6 different times in four different passages: Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8.

Five plural verbs are applied to God: creates, makes, wanders, reveals, judges. In English, these plural verse do not indicate a plural persons, "God creates". But the plurality of Hebrew verbs follow the noun. This is not the case in English. This plurality of verbs associated with God, is most striking and unusual to those who read Hebrew.

Plural adjectives that describe God: "holy". Again, this is a function of Hebrew grammar that does not exist in English. The plurality of adjectives is tagged to the associated noun, which in this case is God. It is most unusual to have a plural adjective describing God.

Also regarding Scriptural references to God, there are single verses that contain both singular and plural references to the same person.

God’s oneness is conveyed by personal pronouns like He, Him, His, I, Myself, Me. The trinity is witnessed in the Old Testament by personal pronouns like We, Us, Ours.

Jeff said...

The universe is composed of three elements: space, matter and time.
Of these three, only matter is visible. Space and matter require length, height and width in order to exist. Each dimension is separate and distinct in itself,
yet it takes all three to constitute space or form the matter. If you remove height, then you don’t have space or matter anymore.

Time is a unity of past, present, and future. Two are invisible [past and future], and one visible [present]. Each is separate and distinct, as well as essential in order for time to exist.

Man is also a unity, having physical, mental, and spiritual components. Again, two are invisible [mental and spiritual] and one visible [physical].

In each of these examples, the removal of any one component results in the demise of the whole.
In like manner, the Godhead is manifest in three personalities: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Each is God [Ephesians 4:6, Titus 2:13, Acts 5:3,4], yet there is one God.

Even the gospel story illustrates the interdependency of threes.
The sanctuary had three places: the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place.

There are three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
The angels around God’s throne cry “HOLY” three times (Isaiah 6:3).

Jeff said...

Nick,

The examples given by some trinitarians to show a "plural oneness" meaning for echad don't seem to stand up under closer scrutiny. The Genesis 2:24 example of a man and wife becoming "one (echad) flesh" certainly does not mean one literal body of flesh is composed of two people.

A man and wife becoming "one flesh" also doesn't mean that two different persons suddenly become equal or identical. They are still two distinct individuals (one is lord and head over the other according to the Bible) and do not share nervous, circulatory, skeletal, etc. systems. They both did not have to (and, in fact, did not) come into existence at the same time, nor do they both have the same minds, personalities, nor even equal authority!


You are confusing what is basically a figure of speech with taking it literally.

You also surprised me with this incredible statement: “So Deuteronomy 6:4 does indeed say, "Jehovah our Gods." Can you state one Trinitarian Bible translation that has ever remotely translated this text in such a way that it appears the way you say it should? Can you name one? Even from a Trinitarian interpretive Bible, a loose translation, a para-phrase, anywhere???

This is related to what I said about a figure of speech. It is not translated as “Gods” in English, because it is not to be taken literally as multiple Gods, which would completely conflict with what Trinitarians believe. I keep trying to tell you that there is no exact equivalent to the way that God exists, so we have to use what we know in order to come as close as we can. Therefore, we use things like the sun, which gives light, heat and energy; a man, who can be a father, a son and a husband all at the same time; an egg, which has the white, the yolk and the shell. All of these fall short of describing the Trinity, because all of these descriptions have their faults, yet they have all been used in an attempt to describe the Trinity. Similarly, God is described both in the singular and the plural in the Bible. If describing anything else, it would not make sense. Only in describing the Trinity does it make sense. You are struggling with limiting God to a particular word or something on this earth, when anything used to describe God, whether it be a Hebrew word, an English word, or a human relationship, can only partially describe God’s nature, because, as I continue to tell you, God is unique.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

I have an appointment to make but I will respond shortly. In the meantime note it was not "anti-Trinitarians" that said "Elohim" means "pearl of majesty" referring to God's qualities.

Do you believe there are three Gods in one person or three persons in one God? You are going to have to make up your mind. You are trying to have it both ways.

One thing, God can talk to his Son in all the examples you gave me without implying that they make up the SAME God. It is not that hard to accept unless we have been pre-conditioned to think otherwise.

Will catch up with you later,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Back again. Still unclear how the Greek “hen” should be understood of Jesus words to his followers in John 17:22? What could this simply mean?

Can you explain how the individual pagan gods such as Dagon, (1 Samuel 5:7), and Marduk, (Daniel 1:2) were ECHAD? Were they Trinities as well?

Despite what you have been trying to convince me of, the word for “one” (echad) at Deuteronomy 6:4 does not indicate that God is a combination of more than one person.

Certainly the Israelites did not have that understanding. To argue that this must mean three persons in one God is lacking solid foundation since “one” in the Scriptures frequently means “one exclusive of others.” That seems to be the point and purpose of Deuteronomy 6:4.

Nowhere in Old or New Testament is God said to be more than one person. No one would have possibly understood Deuteronomy 6:4 as meaning "Jehovah is a 'many persons united in one purpose' God" at that time or for thousands of years thereafter (certainly not until hundreds of years after Jesus' death.

We cannot believe that Deuteronomy 6:4 is saying that all those who are "united in purpose" with Jehovah are Jehovah! But that is the only figurative use we could possibly have for echad at Deut. 6:4. Otherwise we are left with the literal meaning (mathematical oneness, a single individual) of echad (which is obviously intended in the vast majority of uses of echad and which is obviously intended at Deuteronomy 6:4, 13-15 and further explained at Mark 12:29, 32.)

Just as no Bible translation (including all the many trinitarian translations I have examined) renders Deuteronomy 6:4 with any kind of suggestion that "Jehovah is a multiple unity," no translation suggests it should be rendered with the understanding that "Jehovah is united in purpose."

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing

Thanks for sharing the many analogies used for the purpose of helping me comprehend the Trinity. Almost anything we can name is composed of different elements or parts.

If I should say, "Bob was the first (another way echad may be rendered into English) runner to cross the finish line," I am not referring to the fact that he has two legs (or flesh, blood, and bones) which together help compose the whole of that one (or "first") individual.

I am saying (as everyone well knows) that, at the time he crossed the finish line, Bob was the only one who had done so (whether he had one or two legs, etc.). In the same sense of absolute mathematical order I would say that the very next runner (whether it should happen to be a woman, horse, octopus, snail, etc.) is the second individual runner to cross the finish line regardless of how many legs, arms, etc. that racer has.

So, Dave, the second runner to cross the finish line is no more a "plural twoness" than Bob, the first one, is a "plural oneness"!

When we read, "the evening and the morning were the first (echad) day 'one day' - RSV" - Genesis 1:5, KJV – it means exactly what it says, just as "the evening and the morning were the second (sheni) day" - Genesis 1:8 - means exactly what it says and so on through six days!

"The first echad day" does not in any sense refer to the individual parts which compose that day (or a "plural oneness") any more than "the sixth day" refers to a "plural sixness" making up that single day! They are absolute mathematical numbers and do not refer to internal composition but, instead, to single, individual things.

And so it is with the example of "one (echad)cluster of grapes" at Numbers 13:23. Here again "one" (echad) obviously means only one (singleness, absolute mathematical oneness) for whatever word it is applied to.

It is the word "cluster" in this scripture which means "one thing composed of many individual items," but there is only one single (absolute mathematical oneness) "cluster"!

continuing...

nick said...

-continuing

This is no different from one (echad) single tribe (whether composed of one single, last person or millions of persons) at Judges 21:3, 6 and two tribes (whether each is composed of one person or millions) at Joshua 21:16. (Echad) literally means "single," "only" as can plainly be seen at Exodus 12:46, "one house;" Ex. 33:5, "one moment;" Numbers 7:21, "one bullock, one ram,” and so on.

As I read your analogies I found them very creative but to be frank, ridiculous. I have heard others more silly like, “The Trinity is like three in one shampoo.” The old egg analogy is tritheism. While the egg is one, each of the substances that makes up the parts (shell, white stuff, and yoke), are most definitely distinct. The yoke is completely separate in nature from the shell.

Many of your other illustrations do not convey Trinitarianism but Modalism. Because I can simultaneously be a father, son and husband does not illustrate the Trinity but it only serves to present a modalistic understanding of God that is false. Father, son, and husband only describe various functions of one person. Each function cannot exist in a simultaneous relationship with each other, can’t talk to each other, and cannot exist in an eternal relationship with each other.

Analogies like this are outside the realm of sober thought and only weaken your case. Not sure either how this formula below you sent me helps you in anyway. You said:

“God is not 1+1+1; neither is God 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3. Though God cannot be limited to mathematical or biological rules or limitations, we can describe the Trinity, albeit in a very limited fashion, more correctly as 1 X 1 X 1.”

Let’s think this through. If “the Father, the first person of the Trinity”=1; and “the Son, the second person of the Trinity”=2; and “the holy spirit, the third person of the holy Trinity”= 3. What would we come up with. If (1)equals Father you would have (1) Father x (1) Father x (1) Father. What would that equal??? Sabellanism!

To use any of these analogies as convincing PROOF of a Trinity in anyway is sheer philosophy because it is utterly foreign to God’s Word.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

As proof of a Trinity you also shared this with me:

“The angels around God’s throne cry “HOLY” three times. Isaiah 6:3.”

I guess the reasoning is each “holy” is for one part of God.

I believe there is too much reading into the text here as well. The Bible often mentions things three times for emphasis. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Trinitarian Dr. Young tells us: “The repetition of a word denotes the superlative degree, e.g. ... Isa 6:3.” (Young's Analytical Concordance)

How would your “proof method” work in Jeremiah 22:29 and Ezekiel 21:27?

Jeremiah 22:29: “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah.” (American Standard Version)

Ezekiel 21:27: “A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it…” (English Standard Version)

Any further thoughts?

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

As proof of a Trinity you also shared this with me:

“The angels around God’s throne cry “HOLY” three times. Isaiah 6:3.”

I guess the reasoning is each “holy” is for one part of God.

I believe there is too much reading into the text here as well. The Bible often mentions things three times for emphasis. (Numbers 6:24-26)


And you are reading too much into what I said. You are assuming that every little thing I say is an attempt to prove the Trinity. But notice that just above that I said, "Even the gospel story illustrates the interdependency of threes. The sanctuary had three places: the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. There are three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification." I most certainly was not meaning that those were proof of the Trinity. Notice that I said, "the interdependency of threes." Although the three "holys" could be interpreted as meaning God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all holy, and this would not strictly be wrong, but more than likely, as your quote implies, the repetition underscores God's infinite holiness.

Do you believe there are three Gods in one person or three persons in one God? You are going to have to make up your mind. You are trying to have it both ways.

You are creating a straw man argument, Nick. I have always believed that God is, as you said, "three Persons in one God." I have never believed otherwise. There is nothing that I have to make up my mind about, and I am not trying to have it both ways.

As far as "echad," we both have agreed that it can mean a composite or a single unit. All you are doing is continuing to argue over and over that it must mean a single unit when applied to God. When you say things like, "Can you explain how the individual pagan gods such as Dagon, (1 Samuel 5:7), and Marduk, (Daniel 1:2) were ECHAD? Were they Trinities as well?" you have obviously either not read the article, or you have forgotten what it says (or else you are just ignoring it). And your saying, "So, Dave, the second runner to cross the finish line is no more a "plural twoness" than Bob, the first one, is a "plural oneness"!" does nothing but agree that "echad" has more than one meaning, which I also have pointed out in the original article. So again, you are going over and over stuff that is nothing more than what I originally pointed out.

As I read your analogies I found them very creative but to be frank, ridiculous. I have heard others more silly like, “The Trinity is like three in one shampoo.” The old egg analogy is tritheism. While the egg is one, each of the substances that makes up the parts (shell, white stuff, and yoke), are most definitely distinct. The yoke is completely separate in nature from the shell.

Many of your other illustrations do not convey Trinitarianism but Modalism. Because I can simultaneously be a father, son and husband does not illustrate the Trinity but it only serves to present a modalistic understanding of God that is false. Father, son, and husband only describe various functions of one person. Each function cannot exist in a simultaneous relationship with each other, can’t talk to each other, and cannot exist in an eternal relationship with each other.


I have said, and have more than once clearly pointed out, that there is no perfect analogy. At best, all you are doing is making up straw man arguments...again.

Jeff said...

Let’s think this through. If “the Father, the first person of the Trinity”=1; and “the Son, the second person of the Trinity”=2; and “the holy spirit, the third person of the holy Trinity”= 3. What would we come up with. If (1)equals Father you would have (1) Father x (1) Father x (1) Father. What would that equal??? Sabellanism!

And you accused ME of being ridiculous??? I have also pointed out that God cannot be confined to strict mathematical formulas, and yet that is exactly what you are trying to do---and even to the extreme! You are straining really hard to try to disprove the Trinity.

One thing, God can talk to his Son in all the examples you gave me without implying that they make up the SAME God. It is not that hard to accept unless we have been pre-conditioned to think otherwise.

OK, let me ask you something, Nick. It is my understanding that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is, or was, Michael the Archangel. Yet, I have also heard that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is a lesser God than Jehovah (YHWH/Yahweh). So:

-How can an angel also be a god, or become a god?

and:

-Do you admit that Jehovah's Witnesses are polytheists, since JW's believe in more than one god?

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

I am grateful for your rebuttal. Could you still touch on how “Hen” (the Greek word for one) is used in John 17: 22, 23?

I hear Trinitarians all the time quoting me John 10:30 but don’t seem to want to deal with “how they are one,” as we discover in John 17:22, 23.

We are one, JUST AS, or in the same way as they are “hen.” One in purpose and united agreement is the most natural way to understand this. We do not have to think one in actual being which makes no scriptural sense. Can you at least give me this?

I will try to wrap up a few things you shared that I haven’t touched on yet. But first, to answer your questions: Let me tell you at this time that my faith doesn’t hinge on the fact if Michael is another name for the heavenly Christ or not.

Many TRINITARIANS believe that Christ was Michael. I do think there are many similarities that seem to point that Christ is the chief of all the angels and he does things we would expect of Christ.

Do I think he is a “mere angel” as one of our outspoken critics tries to promote? In no way is this true as we clearly see in Hebrews 1.

Do I think that Jesus was one of the spirit sons of God with his heavenly partners but a unique spirit son of God? Yes.

Do I believe he was exalted over them? Yes. But do I believe he was “the beginning of the creation of God?” Yes.

I know Trinitarians do not like that scriptural truth but that is precisely what Jesus was. I definitely believe Jesus was “a messenger” or spokesman of God, which is actually what “angel” means. Many have negative connotations from the term “angel” or “messenger” but not me.

You went on to ask, “How can an angel also be a god, or become a god?” They are obviously not God, “the God” in the ultimate sense. You know that I believe that YHWH or Jehovah is God.

On another occasion I can demonstrate that other spirit sons of God or angels can be called “a god,” because “god” means simply “mighty one or strong one.” It was definitely used toward Jesus Christ and other men with authority such as Judges as we can see in the sacred inspired documents.

This does not mean we are polytheists as you are thinking our position would suggest.

Like Jesus, we understand that his Father and God is “the only true God,” (John 17:3) in the fullest, superlative degree. But we recognize there are other divine, god-like ones that Jehovah has placed in high position that can be considered “gods” or “powerful ones” in a much lower sense without compromising our monotheistic view.

We can go over this together more closely if you like.

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing

Back to your comments…I am not trying to come down hard on you for sharing those analogies with me. I know you did not think them up and I know where you got them. I have read them word for word before on the internet. Not only were they “imperfect” but they were entirely inappropriate and did not even describe the Trinity doctrine accurately. So why use them?

The Bible says a lot of things in “threes” but it also says a lot of things in “sevens” in “twos” in “tens” in “forties”… It all is special pleading.

Just about anything we can conjure up has parts in them or can be shown to be united. Take my toaster, for example. It too has many parts yet is one??? What does that prove?

We could use the body illustration to show unity as Jesus did within the true Christian congregation. All are separate members making up one body. But this illustration is appropriate because it just shows Christian unity and oneness of faith. Not that a person in the Church is ever at any time YOU or that YOU are somehow THEM!

A part of your body does not have a separate identity or does not have its own functioning personality by any means does it? When one really sits down and ponders the rationale used to advocate such an extra-biblical doctrine no wonder many must resort to describing this teaching as a baffling mystery! The only thing I find mysterious is this way of reasoning.

"The doctrine of God as existing in three persons and one substance is not demonstrable by logic or by scriptural proofs." (Hastings Dictionary of The Bible -Revised edition by F.C. Grant & H.H. Rowley)

Alright, let me get to something I wanted to look at with you. I am not trying to sound repetitive or redundant by going back to “echad” but there are there were a couple of things that were not fully covered or resolved.

You stated: “In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, which I mentioned earlier, the word Elohenu is used. Abhothenu means “Our fathers.”Eholayenu means “our sicknesses.”Pesha’enu means “our transgressions.”Avonothenu means “our sins.”“If all these words ending in enu means ‘fathers’, ‘sicknesses’, ‘transgressions’, and ‘sins’, then surely Eloh-enu means ‘Gods’~~plural.”

I once read how one Trinitarian made some Jewish man just about cry when he used this reasoning on him. Please. Although this might appear to be your strongest argument yet on the surface all we need to simply acknowledge is that the other words are indeed plural.

But while the Hebrews used the plural form of the word "god" to refer to the Almighty, they never used plural verbs or adjectives to modify that word when speaking about Him, but they would use plural verbs or adjectives to modify those other plural words.

That means the plural form "elohim" is an intensive form for this Hebrew word that implies superior majesty and glory when referring to the true God. Hebrew scholars agree. This is what you did not bring out perhaps because you were not aware of this.

The fact is that the Jews treated "elohim" differently from those other Hebrew words when "elohim" referred to the true God. The fact that they used singular modifiers with elohim when referring to the true God, instead of regular plural modifiers (as with those other words), shows grammatically that they conceived of God as only One Being, without any divisions or additions of other "persons."

The Hebrews did not always use the "plural" form elohim; when referring to God; sometimes they used the normal Hebrew singular form "el" or "eloah." If they thought God was plural, they would never have also used the grammatically singular forms "el" and "eloah" when speaking about Him.

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing


Here is how it was presented by one trinitarian:

"The word for 'one' in this great declaration [Deuteronomy 6:4] is not Yachid which is an absolute oneness but rather echad which means 'united one.' Had the Holy Spirit desired to state absolute mathematical oneness in this all-important declaration, He could have easily used the word yachid, couldn't He?"

Sound familiar? We have already seen the absolute falsity of the "echad-means-'plural-oneness'" idea. But what about yachid?

Did the Bible writers really use it whenever they meant "absolute mathematical oneness"? We have already seen that they really used echad for "absolute mathematical oneness," and a good concordance will show they did this consistently many HUNDREDS of times!

Yachid, on the other hand, is only used about 12 times in the entire Bible and then only in a narrow, specific sense.

The Old Testament language authority, Gesenius on page 345, tells us that “yachid is used in three very specialized ways: (1) "only" but primarily in the sense of "only begotten"! - Genesis 22:2, 12, 16; Jeremiah 6:26; and Zechariaj 12:10. (2) "solitary" but with the connotation of "forsaken" or "wretched" ! - Psalms 25:16; 68:6. (3) As yachidah (feminine form) meaning "only one" as something most dear and used "poetically for 'life' - Psalms 22:20; 35:17

We find yachid is never used to describe God anywhere in the entire Bible! But it is used to describe Isaac in his prefigured representation of the Messiah: Genesis 22:2, 12, 16.

It is also used at Judges 11:34 for an only-begotten child. The ancient Greek Septuagint translates yachid at Judges 11:34 as monogenes ("only-begotten"): the same NT Greek word repeatedly used to describe Christ , even in his pre-human heavenly existence. (1 John 4:9). Monogenes, however, like the Hebrew yachid, is never used to describe the only true God, Jehovah (who is the Father alone).

So, if Jehovah were to describe himself as "forsaken" or "wretched," or were speaking poetically about his "dear life," or were describing himself as the "only-begotten son" (which he never does anywhere in the Bible!), then he might have used yachid.

But since he was describing his "mathematical oneness," at Deuteronomy. 6:4, Moses properly used echad (one) to describe Jehovah as the Solitary God. This is simply what he meant and how it would have been understood to the Israelites.

Please know I do very carefully read and examine what you say. I just believe that there are many glaring inconsistencies and inaccuracies which may need honest reevaluation.

Nothing I present to you may change your mind but perhaps it gave you more food for thought. Most Trinitarians I have had conversations with on this topic in the past do not change their mind, they just change the subject.
I write to generate light not heat.

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

-continuing

A good friend of mine who used to live in Israel and knows Hebrew once shared with me this often overlooked point.

He said, “In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, which I mentioned earlier, the word Elohenu is used. Abhothenu means “Our fathers.” (abhot is already plural - meaning fathers, with an "s". So the translation is Our (plural) Fathers (Plural) "Our Fathers" or "the fathers of ours" BOTH words are already plural, so this one doesn't hold water. The same is true with each of the other words used. And THAT is exactly the key. In Hebrew (as anyone who actually speaks Hebrew knows - and this person evidently does NOT..... When Elohim is used in scripture it denotes Majesty and not plurality and one of the many clues to this is that, unlike the words your correspondent uses below, the verbs with Elohim are consistently SINGULAR... for example, "Ha-Elohim omer" the (true) God says, and not "Ha-Elohim omrim". When we find people playing with words like this to try to support their on ideas it becomes apparent soon they really know what he or she is saying.”

If there is still any question or dispute on how “echad” should be understood in Deuteronomy 6:4 perhaps we should let Jesus Christ himself settle it. What he thought and SAID should be the clincher.

Let it be noticed that Jesus Christ did not interpret Moses’ words and quote Moses as saying, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Gods (Theoi) is three.’ He did not say that there were three Jehovahs and that he himself was one of such three Jehovahs. Jesus simply said: “Jehovah our God (Theos) is one Jehovah.” Jehovah is the whole (Theos), the whole (Elohim), the whole God. Please note there is a difference in Greek in “Theoi” (which does denotes more than one God) and (Theos) God only (not many GODS in one).

I realize you do not believe that Dagon for instance was “a compound unity,” because he is also referred to as “elohim.” This can be seen in Judges 16:23, 24 where “elohim,” is followed by a singular verb, showing only one god is meant. I won’t belabor this point but if we consider Micah 4:5 in the American Standard it says, “All the peoples walk every one in the name of his god,” the Hebrew word translated “god” is this “elohim” in the plural of excellence or majesty. It does not have to mean a more than one person inside one god.

With that said, A few trinitarians insist that not only does echad mean "plural oneness," but that, if singleness were intended by the Bible writer, the Hebrew word yachid would have been used at Deuteronomy 6:4.

-continuing

Jeff said...

Nick,

I am reading your replies a little at a time, and trying to address points one at a time as I have time. So far, I am just reading your first comment, and replying to things as I come across them. I may not have time to touch on every single point, but I will try to reply to as much as I have time for (I have other things that I need to get done as well, so I can't spend too much time here).

I am grateful for your rebuttal. Could you still touch on how “Hen” (the Greek word for one) is used in John 17: 22, 23?

Obviously, when it says, "that they may be one as we are one," this does not mean we are to become part of the Trinity, or that human beings are to be formed into a Being like God is. The Lord emphasized the importance of unity among his followers, and again the standard is the unity of the Father and the Son. But that does not mean that unity among believers is exactly and precisely the same specific unity that exists between Jesus and the Father. However, the sense is actually closer than you might think, because when it says, “I in them and you in me,” you have to realize that there are two indwellings: that of God in believers, and that of the Father in the Son. It is because the latter is a reality that the former can take place. When it says, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me,” the emphasis on unity has an evangelistic aim. This time it is connected not only with the mission of Jesus, but also with God’s love for people and for Christ.

We are one, JUST AS, or in the same way as they are “hen.” One in purpose and united agreement is the most natural way to understand this. We do not have to think one in actual being which makes no scriptural sense. Can you at least give me this?

Though I tried to explain it to you above, let me also add that God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, indwells all who have trusted in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, all true followers of Christ (i.e., all true, born again Christians), because they have had all of their sins---past, present and future---washed away and pardoned, they are now clean, holy vessels, and are living temples that the Holy Spirit can now indwell. The righteousness of Christ Jesus has been imputed to them, and they (all who have been regenerated in Christ) are now holy saints of God and ambassadors for Christ. So, in this sense, there is a ‘mystical,’ you might say, unity between believers and God, and also, because all believers are now children of God, and have now been adopted into His kingdom, there is a spiritual union between all believers, because all true believers are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jeff said...

I do think there are many similarities that seem to point that Christ is the chief of all the angels and he does things we would expect of Christ.

Do I think he is a “mere angel” as one of our outspoken critics tries to promote? In no way is this true as we clearly see in Hebrews 1.

Do I think that Jesus was one of the spirit sons of God with his heavenly partners but a unique spirit son of God? Yes.

Do I believe he was exalted over them? Yes. But do I believe he was “the beginning of the creation of God?” Yes.


OK, so if Jesus is the first and greatest creation of God, and assuming he was Michael the Archangel before he became a man, then why does Daniel 10:13 refer to Michael as “ONE of the foremost princes” (as stated in the New World Translation)?

Also, though you did not seem totally insistent on the idea that Jesus was Michael the Archangel, I would still like to ask this, since I understand that it is, nevertheless, a standard belief among Jehovah’s Witnesses: If Christ was Michael the Archangel before the Incarnation, then became Jesus, then changed back into Michael the Archangel after his death (which, if I understand correctly, is a teaching among Jehovah’s Witnesses), then why does Hebrews 13:8 say “that Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and today, and forever”? How could Christ be the same if he changed from being Michael, into being Jesus, then back into being Michael again?

Jeff said...

But we recognize there are other divine, god-like ones that Jehovah has placed in high position that can be considered “gods” or “powerful ones” in a much lower sense without compromising our monotheistic view.

And yet, Isaiah 43:10 says:
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”

And Isaiah 44:6 says:
“This is what the LORD says— Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

Isaiah 44:8 says:
“Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Back to your comments…I am not trying to come down hard on you for sharing those analogies with me. I know you did not think them up and I know where you got them. I have read them word for word before on the internet. Not only were they “imperfect” but they were entirely inappropriate and did not even describe the Trinity doctrine accurately. So why use them?

If you are referring to the Trinity analogies, the analogy with the sun, I heard from a friend a few years ago. The one about a man being a father, son and brother (or uncle, etc.), I have heard from people for years. The one about the egg, I have heard from several sources. I did not get any of those off the Internet, though I know that they are popular, and therefore are on the Internet, probably in many places. A former Pastor did strongly disagree with me using a couple of them because, as you pointed out, if taken literally, they would teach modalism. But the way I see it, as I said, there is no perfect analogy for the Trinity, so I figure, if one of the analogies can help someone, even if it is an imperfect analogy, then I will use it, although sparingly and carefully (remember that I already pointed out that none of them are perfect). If I find a perfect analogy, then I will use it instead, but since I don’t believe one exists, I am stuck with using imperfect ones.

Jeff said...

Just about anything we can conjure up has parts in them or can be shown to be united. Take my toaster, for example. It too has many parts yet is one??? What does that prove?

It demonstrates a plural unity, as I have tried to show again and again. It is one toaster, composed of many parts. And, once again, it is not the exact, precise same as the Trinity, but is merely a helpful tool to hopefully help us to understand a little better. Can that toaster be everywhere at once? No. Can that toaster transcend time and space? No. Is that toaster made of spirit instead of matter? No. Can one part of that toaster physically die, without it causing the entire thing not to work? No. So, obviously, that analogy, as well as any analogy, has its shortcomings, as I have pointed out again and again. Like I said, it is not an exact comparison, but merely a helpful tool.

We could use the body illustration to show unity as Jesus did within the true Christian congregation. All are separate members making up one body. But this illustration is appropriate because it just shows Christian unity and oneness of faith. Not that a person in the Church is ever at any time YOU or that YOU are somehow THEM!

This does not exactly correspond to the Trinity, because the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not merely one in purpose or one in faith. The comparison between a person’s mind, body and spirit would be a closer analogy.

A part of your body does not have a separate identity or does not have its own functioning personality by any means does it?

Now, there’s an interesting thought. The parts of the body might be thought of, in a very loose way, to try to describe the Trinity. However, it would obviously fall short as well.

With the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal, while being distinct Persons. However, my understanding is that they have different roles. Biblically, a husband and wife are co-equal, but ideally (and this contrasts with what modern society teaches), they have different roles. And, according to what I and others believe the Bible teaches, the husband is, ideally, supposed to be the spiritual head of the household, and the wife is voluntarily submissive to the husband. The husband is to love the wife, and the wife is to respect the husband. As far as having different roles and being voluntarily submissive, this can be compared to the Trinity, in that the Holy Spirit is voluntarily submissive to the Son (Jesus), and Jesus is voluntarily submissive to the Father, while all three are still co-equal (i.e., none is greater than the other).

Jeff said...

When one really sits down and ponders the rationale used to advocate such an extra-biblical doctrine no wonder many must resort to describing this teaching as a baffling mystery!

No, it’s a mystery because God is unique, and God’s nature is above what human understanding can fully comprehend.

"The doctrine of God as existing in three persons and one substance is not demonstrable by logic or by scriptural proofs." (Hastings Dictionary of The Bible -Revised edition by F.C. Grant & H.H. Rowley)

I would agree with that in as far as what I just said. We cannot fully comprehend God, because God is above human understanding and human experience. We can use logic and scriptural proofs to describe God as much as has been revealed to us through Scripture, but we still cannot fully demonstrate the exact nature of God. As I keep saying again and again, all analogies fall short, and can only imperfectly, and only in part, attempt to describe the Trinity.

But while the Hebrews used the plural form of the word "god" to refer to the Almighty, they never used plural verbs or adjectives to modify that word when speaking about Him, but they would use plural verbs or adjectives to modify those other plural words.

I addressed this before. God is not three Gods. Using plural verbs or adjectives to modify the plural form of the word used for “God” would suggest, I think, polytheism. Instead, a combination of singular and plural words and forms are used. Why? Because, as I keep saying, God is one, single God, composed of three distinct Persons. You keep arguing grammar and mathematics, but none of those is going to line up perfectly with the nature of God, because there is nothing in all of creation that perfectly duplicates the nature of God. I have pointed this out again and again, yet you continue to point out examples of things that do not perfectly duplicate one God being three Persons. And I keep telling you that there is no example of anything that perfectly parallels the Trinity. You keep focusing on earthly examples, but there are no earthly examples that are a perfect, exact parallel. You continue to get stuck on this. This is part of the reason why I am asking you somewhat different questions, though still related to the Trinity---because you have hit a brick wall regarding "echad," and you just can't seem to get past that. However, I do acknowledge that you seem more knowledgeable than the Jehovah's Witnesses that have come to my door in the past, but maybe that's because the Internet provides a way to share a lot more information than talking face-to-face does...I don't know.

deanna said...

Hello Jeff,

Wow! You touched on many things. Great. Will try to manage to get back to you tomorrow. Just got in and past midnight here in Italy. It does not bother me where you get your research just as long as you are not interested in only one-sided research.

I study and use many tools and use other Bible translations but will defend the New World Translation when needed. You will probably notice from my discussions with you that I will often quote Trinitarian sources. I'm not much different from any other Jehovah's Witness. We love Bible study and try to "Make sure of all things and hold fast to what is fine." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Before I go you did mention, "I did not get any of those off the Internet, though I know that they are popular, and therefore are on the Internet, probably in many places."

Fair enough but what you wrote was remarkably the same as what I found at:

http://home.bluemarble.net/~heartcom/shemaoisrael.html

That is why I said what I did. Did not mean it as a slam.

Take care,

Nick

Jeff said...

Let it be noticed that Jesus Christ did not interpret Moses’ words and quote Moses as saying, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our Gods (Theoi) is three.’ He did not say that there were three Jehovahs and that he himself was one of such three Jehovahs. Jesus simply said: “Jehovah our God (Theos) is one Jehovah.”

Yes, and I agree. There are not three Jehovahs (or, more correctly, Yahwehs). That would denote polytheism, as I have already pointed out. You continue to get stuck on this point. I am not advocating that there are three Gods or three Jehovahs. I am saying there is one God, one Jehovah, and His nature is such that He is three distinct Persons. You look at people, and you see that with people, each person is a different being, and you say that it doesn’t make any logical sense for God to be three Persons, and that it must be absurd and impossible. But, just as God is the only Being Who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, so God is also the only Being who consists of three, distinct Persons. Not three different Gods. Not three different Jehovahs. One God. Yet three Persons, nevertheless. You get stuck on the grammar, because in the rules of grammar, we are either talking about a singular thing, or a plural of things. There is no singular that is also a plural, other than things like groups or systems, which, as we have already discussed, fall short of exactly and precisely mirroring what the Trinity is.

Can you fully comprehend eternity? Can you fully comprehend what it means to exist outside of space and time? Can you fully comprehend what it means to be omnipresent? No. So, then, why should you expect to fully comprehend the nature of God?

I realize you do not believe that Dagon for instance was “a compound unity,” because he is also referred to as “elohim.” This can be seen in Judges 16:23, 24 where “elohim,” is followed by a singular verb, showing only one god is meant. I won’t belabor this point but if we consider Micah 4:5 in the American Standard it says, “All the peoples walk every one in the name of his god,” the Hebrew word translated “god” is this “elohim” in the plural of excellence or majesty. It does not have to mean a more than one person inside one god.

With that said, A few trinitarians insist that not only does echad mean "plural oneness," but that, if singleness were intended by the Bible writer, the Hebrew word yachid would have been used at Deuteronomy 6:4.


In the article it was already pointed out that “echad” can mean a unified one or an absolute numeric one, and that it is used of God’s oneness. And that “yachid” is always an absolute numeric one, and is never used of God’s oneness. Also that “bad” is an absolute numeric one, and is never used of God’s oneness. And that “hen” can be a unified one or an absolute numeric one, and is used of God’s oneness.

And, in an earlier comment, I already pointed out that “Every time we read, "And God said," "God saw," "God made," "God created," it is the plural, 'elohim,' with a singular verb.” So, when describing God, a combination of plural and singular words is often used.

Jeff said...

Though I do not consider Wikipedia an authoritative source (because basically anyone can write entries), it can be helpful and interesting. According to Wikipedia:

The form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, is plural and masculine, but the construction is usually singular, i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective when referring to the Hebrew god, but reverts to its normal plural when used of heathen divinities (Psalms 96:5; 97:7). Some exceptions include Gen. 20:13, 35:7, 2 Sam. 7:23 and Ps. 58:11. Even in these cases, the Septuagint translation has the singular θες, and modern translations follow suit in giving "God" in the singular.
There are many theories as to why the word is plural:

· In one view, predominant among monotheists, the word is plural in order to augment its meaning and form an abstraction meaning "Divine majesty"

· Among orthodox Trinitarian Christian writers it is sometimes used as evidence for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

· The word's plurality may reflect early Semitic polytheism, originally meaning "the gods", or the "sons of El," the supreme being. The word may have been singularized by later monotheist priests who sought to replace worship of the many gods of the Canaanite or Semitic pantheon with the Hebrew singular patron god YHWH alone.

· Michael Heiser has suggested that verses such as Ps. 82:6 (El in within of Elohim) refer to a "Divine Council" of elohim serving the Creator. See the "Divine Council"


On another website it claims this:

“Elohim (אֱלוֹהִים , אלהים ) is a Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity. It is apparently related to the Hebrew word ēl, though morphologically it consists of the Hebrew word Eloah (אלוה) with a plural suffix. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible. Its exact significance is often disputed. In some cases (e.g. Exodus 3:4, "... Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush ..."), it acts as a singular noun in Hebrew grammar, and is then generally understood to denote the single God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah (אלוה), and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."). This may reflect the use of the word "Elohim" found in the late Bronze Age texts of Canaanite Ugarit, where Elohim ('lhm) was found to be a word denoting the entire Canaanite pantheon (the family of El אל, the patriarchal creator god).”

So, apparently, according to these sources and others I have read, “Elohim” can have more than one meaning, and, as the source above says, its exact significance is often disputed. And, since you and I cannot agree on its exact meaning, we may just have to settle for saying that it is debatable.

Jeff said...

Let me ask you another question, Nick. Amos 4:11 says, "I caused an overthrow among you people, like God's overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. And you came to be like a log snatched out of [the] burning; but you did not come back to me,'is the utterance of Jehovah."

If the Trinity does not exist, then how can Jehovah, speaking in this verse, refer to another person as God (re: "...like God's overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah")?

Jeff said...

I write to generate light not heat.

Although I know for a fact that what you are generating is not the true Light (although I am sure that you think it is, but you will one day realize that you are deceived), because I have already met He Who is the True Light, and I already have eternal life, and I know for sure that, even if I died right this very second, I will spend eternity in Heaven; nevertheless, I appreciate your attitude and your desire to avoid contention or strife.

I know that I am sounding very dogmatic, but I make no apology for knowing that Jesus Christ is God Almighty. When I was 19 years old, I repented of my sins and surrendered my life to Christ, asking Him to forgive me and to save me from Hell. At that moment, all of my sins were washed white as snow, and removed as far as the East is from the West. I know that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and, even though I fully deserve to spend all of eternity in Hell because of my sins, I have been pardoned by Christ, made possible by His ultimate and final sacrifice on the cross (I realize that JWs believe it was a stake and not a cross, but this is really nothing more than a distracting side issue, so let's not get into a debate over that, because that is not a foundational issue).

Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I was into martial arts. But I was constantly thinking, "What if someone pulled a gun on me?" I often worried about that, and I was basically afraid of dying. But now, after being regenerated in Christ, I am no longer afraid of or worried about dying, because I know that I have eternal life with Christ, and I have no more fear of Hell. In other words, I have assurance of my salvation. No amount of 'good works' I do can add to that, and nothing can take away that salvation. I have God the Holy Spirit living within me, and He is my 'engagement ring,' so-to-speak, that guarantees that I will live with Him forever.

Jeff said...

Before I go you did mention, "I did not get any of those off the Internet, though I know that they are popular, and therefore are on the Internet, probably in many places."

Fair enough but what you wrote was remarkably the same as what I found at:

http://home.bluemarble.net/~heartcom/shemaoisrael.html


OK, you are right. I did get those off the Internet. I thought you were talking about the analogies of an egg, the sun, etc.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

It seems that our discussion has entered into many other topics and that is fine. There were many other passages that I would like to go over with you like Genesis 42:30 that show Joseph being spoken of as “lord” (adhoneh, the plural of excellence) of Egypt. Should we imply Joseph is multiple persons? Or does the “plurality” highlight his honored position?

Before we move away from this topic I did want to bring up one intriguing fact. In the New World Translation footnotes to Genesis 1:1 and 1 Samuel 2:2, it shows that the Greek and Latin translations of “elohim” read: "Theos" and "Deus" respectively, both meaning "God".

The translators into those languages knew of "the plural of majesty" and "the plural of excellence" in the Hebrew so, they rendered these plural words of Hebrew into singular forms in Greek and Latin. That was because, Greek and Latin do not have the Hebrew features of a "plural of majesty" nor a "plural of excellence" they understood that if they had rendered the Hebrew plural as a numerical plural, that would have indicated more than one God. They knew better than that.

There is no need to “theorize” why they did this. It is obvious and any baptized schoolboy can see this. But okay. If I accomplished anything I hope you can at least see why I would have reservations in viewing “echad,” or Elohim,” as positive proof in favor of a Trinity God. Such an idea is not demanded by no means. That is why more and more Trinitarians are no longer trying to validate their doctrine by such arguments.

There are more and more questions you are raising and I will systematically get to each and everyone of them. Appreciate you giving me the opportunity to explain. Before I get started there is something I would like to clarify and that is I am not imputing that I know God in an infinite way. His knowledge and power is incomparable and beyond our human understanding for sure. However, we are not talking about this at all, rather we are talking about his very knowable "identity." There are things that I am learning about my biological father all the time. Just because I don’t know everything about him it doesn’t mean I would not understand WHO he is or confuse him with someone else?

Don't you think that God uses terms from the standpoint of humans to help us determine the nature of God? He uses terms such as Father and Son to help us understand the relationship he has with Jesus. Jehovah kindly helps us to "understand" him in terms we can relate to.

At times, he employs metaphors and similes, likening himself to things that are known to us. And God has given us the Bible to help us “set things straight.” (1 Timothy 3:16 & 17) He is "not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 15:33) His inspired Word helps to clear up mysteries and reveal who he is. (Matthew 11:25) That is why God's people can confidently say, "We worship what we know.." (John 4:22) We don’t worship what we do not know.

With that out of the way I will begin with your initial comments on the usage of the Greek word for one, “Hen.” Is this a “mystical” oneness?

To set the record straight, all servants of God should say, “I and the Father are one!” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8; John 14:20) John 17:20-23 does not mean Jesus is God anymore than it means Christians are God.

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing

John 11:52 says Jesus was to die to make all God’s children “one.” “One,” further expresses singleness of purpose” (New Bible Dictionary, pg 844(2nd ed.), 1982, Tyndale House Publishing.)

We are reading the same thing in John 17:22 but understanding it perhaps differently.

John 17:22. “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them; that they may be one, JUST AS we are one.” (NASB)
It would be good at this time to compare John 17:11.

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11; NIV)

A footnote for John 17:11 in the very trinitarian The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1985 says: “the unity is to be like that between the Father and the Son.”

Not only is it obvious that these Christians are not equally Christ with Jesus, nor equally God with the Father, nor are they all one person, but that they are all figuratively united in “will” and “purpose” with God. That is, they agree with and carry out the Father's will.

Notice that Jesus clearly defines his being “one” with his Father as being in the very same sense that he wants certain Christians to be “one”: “just as we are one” (NASB). There can be no doubt, then, that John 10:30 does not mean Jesus and the Father are equally God, but that, just as certain Christians were “one” in will and purpose so “the Father and I are one(in will and purpose).”


Bible Greek expert Joseph H. Thayer tells us “one” can mean “to be united most closely (in will, spirit), Jn x.30 [John 10:30]; xvii.11, 21-23 [John 17:11, 21-23]” - p. 186, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, tenth printing, August, 1984.

Commenting on John 10:30, J. H. Bernard, D.D. says in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John:

“A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel..., and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate identity of ousia [Greek for ‘substance,’ ‘essence’], is to introduce thoughts that were not present to the theologians of the first century."

Even the very trinitarian New Testament Greek scholar W. E. Vine when discussing the Greek word for “one” says: “(b) metaphorically [figuratively], union and concord, e.g., John 10:30; 11:52; 17:11, 21, 22....” –(An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 809.)

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing

Trinitarian scholar Robert Young commented on this knowledge of the word “one” at John 10:30 in his Young’s Concise Critical Bible Commentary:

“The particle en [hen] being of the neuter gender, can hardly signify ‘one being, i.e. one God,’ but rather ‘one in will, purpose, counsel...” (pg. 62, Baker Book House, 1977.)

The very trinitarian Bible study reference book, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, agrees with trinitarian Young (above) in its discussion of John 10:30.

Truly, then, there is absolutely no evidence for a “trinitarian” interpretation at John 10:30. In fact, the real meaning shows Jesus is not God!

Your next question will be answered in an upcoming response shortly. I’ll do my best to take one each day.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

You said:

"Let me ask you another question, Nick. Amos 4:11 says, "I caused an overthrow among you people, like God's overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. And you came to be like a log snatched out of [the] burning; but you did not come back to me,'is the utterance of Jehovah."If the Trinity does not exist, then how can Jehovah, speaking in this verse, refer to another person as God (re: "...like God's overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah")?"

Such are the uninformed arguments of those who do not understand the Hebrew language of the Bible. Such forms of address are idiomatic, common, and natural in Hebrew (and other Semitic languages as well).

Be careful Jeff. Frank examination shows that Amos 4:11 no more teaches the Trinity than does the Bible as a whole. Is Jehovah speaking to another “person” as God? Nowhere in Amos 4:11 does it say anything about a Trinity; nothing at all about God being three Gods or three Persons in one God. In fact, it says nothing about God's Person or Being at all. This almost seems to silly to bother with, but you seem to be serious about it. What can help clear this up? How about Genesis 19:24?

I have a Hebrew Interlinear in front of me right now. How should it REALLY be translated? Here it is: “And Jehovah rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from Jehovah out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24; The Interlinear Bible, A Literal Translation of the Bible, James P. Green, Sr.)

The Hebrew text shows that BOTH references are to “Jehovah,” who was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and who was different from Jesus. (Exodus 6:2, 3; Acts 3:13)

24 hours ago you admitted to me that you understand there is not more than “one Jehovah,” there are not “Jehovahs.” Correct! And Genesis 19:24 does not mean there were “two Jehovahs.” This text as well as Amos 4:11 are nothing out of the ordinary as we discover in the Hebrew Scriptures.

It is consistent with Hebrew idiom to speak of a person’s doing something in reference to himself. We read: “Solomon proceeded to congregate the older men . . . to King Solomon.” “To Moses (Jehovah) said: ‘Go up to Jehovah...’” “Jehovah went on to say:...I will save them by Jehovah.’” (1 Kings 8:1; Exodus 24:1; Hosea 1:6, 7; Zechariah 10:12)

In this same way Genesis 19:24 tells us that Jehovah brought the unprecedented sulfur and fire from himself, “from Jehovah, from the heavens.”

The explanatory note by Trinitarian Dr. Young in Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, for this verse states: "JEHOVAH...JEHOVAH, i.e. from Himself."

So rather than being a strained prop for the unscriptural Trinity doctrine, this verse underscores the point made at Psalm 83:18: “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” (King James Version)

Hope this somehow helped clear up any confusion on these seldom used texts to support a Trinity God.

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

There were many other passages that I would like to go over with you like Genesis 42:30 that show Joseph being spoken of as “lord” (adhoneh, the plural of excellence) of Egypt. Should we imply Joseph is multiple persons? Or does the “plurality” highlight his honored position?

According to Strong's Concordance for the word "lord":

It is a masculine noun. The root word that it comes from means to rule.

The outline of its biblical usage is as follows:

1) firm, strong, lord, master

a) lord, master

1) reference to men

a) superintendent of household,of affairs

b) master

c) king

2) reference to God

a) the Lord God

b) Lord of the whole earth

b) lords, kings

1) reference to men

a) proprietor of hill of Samaria

b) master

c) husband

d) prophet

e) governor

f) prince

g) king

2) reference to God

a) Lord of lords (probably = "thy husband, Yahweh")

c) my lord, my master

1) reference to men

a) master

b) husband

c) prophet

d) prince

e) king

f) father

g) Moses

h) priest

i) theophanic angel

j) captain

k) general recognition of superiority

2) reference to God

a) my Lord,my Lord and my God

b) Adonai (parallel with Yahweh)

Jeff said...

The Hebrew word Adon means Lord, Master, Sovereign, or Ruler.

Adonim means Masters, and so is plural.

According to Strong’s Lexicon, adown is the transliteration, and ä·dōn' is the pronunciation.
It’s a masculine noun, and the root word means to rule.

The outline of biblical usage is:
1) firm, strong, lord, master
a) lord, master
1) reference to men
a) superintendent of household,of affairs
b) master
c) king
2) reference to God
a) the Lord God
b) Lord of the whole earth
b) lords, kings
1) reference to men
a) proprietor of hill of Samaria
b) master
c) husband
d) prophet
e) governor
f) prince
g) king
2) reference to God
a) Lord of lords (probably = "thy husband, Yahweh")
c) my lord, my master
1) reference to men
a) master
b) husband
c) prophet
d) prince
e) king
f) father
g) Moses
h) priest
i) theophanic angel
j) captain
k) general recognition of superiority
2) reference to God
a) my Lord,my Lord and my God
b) Adonai (parallel with Yahweh)

The KJV translation count is:
lord 197, master(s) 105, Lord 31, owner 1, sir 1

Ad-nai or Adonai is translated as My Lord, My Master or My Sovereign. It is used in Judaism in lieu of the Tetragrammaton.

Adonainu is translated as Teacher, and Our.

Jeff said...

According to the site, 'Ancient Hebrew Research Center,' on the online Hebrew/English Dictionary, Elohim (e-lo-heem) means ‘powers’ and is therefore plural, and Eloah (e-lo-ah) means ‘power,’ and is therefore singular.

Jeff said...

The word 'lord' in Genesis 42:30 is adown, pronounced ä·dōn'--- so, see my above comment for that.

Jeff said...

As I believe I mentioned before, I have read that "Plural of Majesty" did not even exist in scripture until after the Old Testament was completed, and that there are no examples in the either the Old or New Testament of "Plural of Majesty." The earliest we find this poetic device being used in about the 4th century during the Byzantine era. I think I am repeating myself, but I'll mention again that other cultures that lived during the time of Moses never used the plural "Elohim", the way the Bible does, but instead used the simple singular "el".

Jeff said...

Before we move away from this topic I did want to bring up one intriguing fact. In the New World Translation footnotes to Genesis 1:1 and 1 Samuel 2:2, it shows that the Greek and Latin translations of “elohim” read: "Theos" and "Deus" respectively, both meaning "God".

According to Strong's Lexicon, the word used in Genesis 1:1 is elohiym, pronounced el·ō·hēm', which agrees with what you said.

It is a masculine noun, and is the plural of elowahh (pronounced el·ō'·ah), which can mean either:
1) God
2) false god

But back to elohiym. Its outline of biblical usage is:
1) (plural)
a) rulers, judges
b) divine ones
c) angels
d) gods

2) (plural intensive - singular meaning)
a) god, goddess
b) godlike one
c) works or special possessions of God
d) the (true) God
e) God

The KJV translation count for this word is:
God 2346, god 244, judge 5, GOD 1, goddess 2, great 2, mighty 2, angels 1, exceeding 1, God-ward + 04136 1, godly 1

Jeff said...

Don't you think that God uses terms from the standpoint of humans to help us determine the nature of God? He uses terms such as Father and Son to help us understand the relationship he has with Jesus. Jehovah kindly helps us to "understand" him in terms we can relate to.

Yes, I would agree with that. For example, Muslims say that God cannot have a Son because God has no wife. They see this as blasphemy. They see "Son" in a literal, biological/sexual way, which is a complete misunderstanding of the Trinity. No Christian believes that Jesus is God's biological Son.

At times, he employs metaphors and similes, likening himself to things that are known to us. And God has given us the Bible to help us “set things straight.” (1 Timothy 3:16 & 17) He is "not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 15:33) His inspired Word helps to clear up mysteries and reveal who he is. (Matthew 11:25) That is why God's people can confidently say, "We worship what we know.." (John 4:22) We don’t worship what we do not know.

I agree with this as well.

With that out of the way I will begin with your initial comments on the usage of the Greek word for one, “Hen.” Is this a “mystical” oneness?

According to the Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, Hen (pronounced 'hane') means they, these, the same, or who.
The KJV word usage is:
therein 4, withal 3, which 2, they 2, for 1, like 1, them 1, thereby 1, wherein 1

Jeff said...

John 10:30 says, "I and my Father are one."

"Are" is "esmen," a verb that means "we are" (first person plural of 'to be').

"One" is "heis" (hā's), which is the numeral one.

So, even though I said that God is not limited to mathematical equations, this is saying, simply, that Jesus + the Father = 1.

Jeff said...

Not only is it obvious that these Christians are not equally Christ with Jesus, nor equally God with the Father, nor are they all one person, but that they are all figuratively united in “will” and “purpose” with God. That is, they agree with and carry out the Father's will.

I agree that Christians are not Christ or God or the same person as Christ or God. And, obviously, all Christians are not one person. And I agree that (at least ideally), they are united in will and purpose with God. However, it is more than that. Christians have been adopted into God's family. Christians have God the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. Because of this, Christians are holy, living temples of God. Christians are united with Christ. Christ is compared to a groom and Christians are compared to the bride, in the Bible.

Jeff said...

24 hours ago you admitted to me that you understand there is not more than “one Jehovah,” there are not “Jehovahs.”

OK, in one sense, what I meant by "Jehovah" was "Father," since that is, I assume how you understand "Jehovah." So, I was saying that from your point of view, or how I imagine your perspective might be. I do believe that Jesus is YHWH and that the Holy Spirit is YHWH, but that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons of the Holy Trinity.

However, at the same time, I was also saying this: to state it another way (and I'm sure this is going to sound contradictory to you, or confuse you), I do not believe there are "Yahwehs." There is only one YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah. So, in this sense, I meant exactly what I said. I believe there is only one YHWH, Who exists as three distinct Persons.

Jeff said...

Is Jehovah speaking to another “person” as God?

Yes! Most definitely! As I said, the Father is one Person. The Son is one Person. The Holy Spirit is one Person.

Jeff said...

Nick, Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah: "Therefore the Lord [Jehovah] himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (literally, God or Jehovah with us, since Jehovah is the only God.) This speaks of Jesus being God.

Micah 5:2 is another prophecy of Jesus the Messiah, and says that he has been "from everlasting." So, Jesus is eternal. He was not created.

Jehovah Himself planned to appear in human form:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah (YHWH).

nick said...

Hello Jeff,

Man, your all over the place! :) Give me some time and I will try to catch up. Good stuff on you sent on them any ways "Lord/lord" can be used. Would the other "lords" be false lords? Remember this in an upcoming discussion in how the Bible uses the term "God/god," very similarly.

I will eventually get to all your "proof texts" before I answer another couple of questions you had for me I would like to say nowhere in the Bible it define God the way you are trying to describe it to me. Nowhere. A three in one God is totally absent in Scripture, perhaps in post-biblical man-made creeds, but not found in God's inspired Word. Nor is belief in the concept of a Trinity necessary for salvation.

Looking over some other comments you asked me this:

"OK, so if Jesus is the first and greatest creation of God, and assuming he was Michael the Archangel before he became a man, then why does Daniel 10:13 refer to Michael as “ONE of the foremost princes” (as stated in the New World Translation)?"

Over the years I have heard many argue against there only being one “archangel” because Michael is said to be “one of the foremost princes,” which may imply there might be others equivalent to Michael. (Daniel 10:13)

However, Michael can still be in a class of “foremost princes,” and still be higher than the others. The Scriptures do describe different ranks of angels. In fact, most recognize that Jehovah himself is described as “one of the foremost princes,” so referring to Michael as “one of the foremost princes,” and not the foremost prince is entirely appropriate. (Daniel 8:25)

The conclusion we come to is that Michael is the only archangel and he is shown to be the chief of all other angels. Since Michael is the chief-angel, we would expect he would have authority over the other angels (spirit sons of God) and this is indeed the case.

We note there is also one other person, outside of Almighty God, who is also said to have authority over the angels, and that is none other than Jesus Christ. (Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and Revelation 12:7)

As I told you previously, many Trinitarians-Catholics and Protestants alike, feel there is Bible evidence that Michael is another name for Jesus in heaven. Many believe that the Son was “the angel of the Lord,” or “the angel of Yahweh/Jehovah.” An exhaustive list of Trinitarian scholarly quotations and references could be forwarded to you if you like.

Even the footnote of the Trinitarian NIV Study Bible at Genesis 16:7 alerts the reader:

“Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this “angel” was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s Messenger-servant.”

-continuing

nick said...

-continuing

Then you went on to make this expression:

“If Christ was Michael the Archangel before the Incarnation, then became Jesus, then changed back into Michael the Archangel after his death (which, if I understand correctly, is a teaching among Jehovah’s Witnesses), then why does Hebrews 13:8 say “that Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and today, and forever”? How could Christ be the same if he changed from being Michael, into being Jesus, then back into being Michael again??

The Son of God, Archangel or not, could remain the same person or identity whether in heaven or earth. The Bible tells us that he was alongside his Father before coming to earth in the spirit realm, he was a spirit. John 1:14 tells us that he became something very different, “he became flesh,” as do many Scriptures that combine to tell us this.

Another discussion is whether or not he remains to this day as flesh or was “made alive in the spirit,” and “is a life-giving spirit.”(1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:45) I think it is safe to say that most will agree that he was at one time in spirit form like his Father (John 4:24) but then came “a change.”

Another change not to be minimized is that the Son while on earth actually “became lower than the angels.” (Hebrews 1:9) That is not the case anymore because for a certainty he has “inherited a name” better than theirs. (Hebrews 1:4)

Think too that Jesus grew in his knowledge, wisdom and understanding as a human and he continues to learn knew things His Father lovingly and generously shows him. (John 5:20; Revelation 1:1)

So there can be “a change” in power, position, in form (spirit/flesh) as well as knowledge; yet one can retain their identity. I’ve went over this with men like Anthony Buzzard many of times.

When the Bible says that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Paul is, in part, referring to Jesus never breaking his word or going against God’s original purpose. That is, Jesus, nor God for that matter, does not change his mind or decide he needs to do something else from what he originally purposed.

God’s purpose for mankind was laid out and it will not change because God and Jesus will not renege on their promises. Jehovah God is a consistent God, and so is His designated Messianic King Christ Jesus who we should deeply love, honor and praise.

I will be than happy to can go into a full-blown "Michael" discussion after we wrap up our dialogue on whether or not God is one or three in one.

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

Aloha Jeff,

I'm from Hawaii but now in Italy.
After making this comment:

“But we recognize there are other divine, god-like ones that Jehovah has placed in high position that can be considered “gods” or “powerful ones” in a much lower sense without compromising our monotheistic view.”

You shared with me these three texts to somehow refute what I just said:

"And yet, Isaiah 43:10 says:
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”

And Isaiah 44:6 says:
“This is what the LORD says— Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

Isaiah 44:8 says:
“Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

No attempt was made to explain the content and context of these words from Yahweh/Jehovah to Israel. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses I would gladly accept this since we always believe what Jehovah says. We would prefer to see Jehovah in the place of “LORD,” but again an entirely different subject.

In Isaiah we see that Jehovah is talking about how there were no man-made gods that could rival Him or equal His power. The Israelites often looked to other gods for help and Jehovah was letting them know there were not other gods that could help them.

They were figments of their imagination, manifested in man-made idols. Go back and read the entire two chapters and you will get the sense of what Jehovah was telling his fickle people.

Something also noteworthy is Jehovah also told them, “besides me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11) Did Jehovah raise up “other saviors” in the Bible?

Besides, Jesus Christ who is obviously God’s means of salvation in saving mankind . Yes, he has! If you read the book of Judges, Othniel, Ehud and others were “saviors” or”deliverers” because they represented Jehovah and did so in a temporary sense. This would not make them false “saviors” would it?

The Scriptures make clear that God is the Savior in the highest and most vital sense. He is the ultimate source of salvation. But there are still others who God himself describes as saviors, those whom God is pleased to use as the agents of is salvation.

In the same way that Jehovah is our only “Savior,” yet others are still called, “saviors,” Jehovah is still, at the same time, the only “God,” yet others are nevertheless appropriately called “gods” based, most significantly, on Jehovah’s own decision to call them such.

I would have to agree with one of the most accomplished Trinitarians, Evangelical Murray J. Harris who also believes that in the Bible the term “god(s)” many in fact apply to angels or persons on earth who represent divine power and majesty. There are absolutely different kinds of applications and varying degrees of usage for the term “G/god” in Scripture.

To support my scriptural position I will send you a partial list of some quotations from TRINITARIAN sources that back what I am saying that prove when “G/god” is used in Scripture it can simply signify a lesser or representative sense.

But this does not, in any way, take away from the fact that there is only one true and Almighty God, according to Scripture. It would be helpful to remember that the term has a broad application in the original languages and within the ancient cultural context in which the Scriptures were written.

To understand it this way is not a violation or compromise to Biblical monotheism. It definitely does not make one a polytheist. I hope you are feeling better than my fingers.

Take a look below.

Nick

-continued

nick said...

-continuing


The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, 1979, Hendrickson, p. 43:

Elohim: “a. rulers, judges, either as divine representatives at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power.... b. divine ones, superhuman beings including God and angels.... c. angels Ps. 97 7 ...”

Angels are clearly called gods (elohim) at Ps. 8:5, 6. We know this because this passage is quoted at Heb. 2:6, 7, and there the word “angels” is used (in place of elohim in the OT) in NT Greek. The trinitarian New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., 1970, says in a footnote for Ps. 8:6 -

“The angels: in Hebrew, elohim, which is the ordinary word for ‘God’ or ‘the gods’; hence the ancient versions generally understood the term as referring to heavenly spirits [angels].”

Some of these trinitarian sources which admit that the Bible actually describes men who represent God (judges, Israelite kings, etc.) and God’s angels as gods include:

1. Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, “Hints and Helps...,” Eerdmans, 1978 reprint;

2. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #430, Hebrew & Chaldee Dict., Abingdon, 1974;

3. New Bible Dictionary, p. 1133, Tyndale House Publ., 1984;

4. Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, p. 208, Bethany House Publ., 1982;

5. Hastings’ A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 217, Vol. 2;

6. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 43, Hendrickson publ.,1979;

7. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, #2316 (4.), Thayer, Baker Book House, 1984 printing;

8. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, p. 132, Vol. 1; & p. 1265, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1984;

9. The NIV Study Bible, footnotes for Ps. 45:6; Ps. 82:1, 6; & Jn 10:34; Zondervan, 1985;

10. New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., footnote for Ps. 45:7, 1970 ed.;

11. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, Vol. 5, pp. 188-189;

12. William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 317, 324, Nelson Publ., 1980 printing;

13. Murray J. Harris, Jesus As God, p. 202, Baker Book House, 1992;

14. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, V. 2, Daily Study Bible Series, pp. 77, 78, Westminster Press, 1975;

15. The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible (John 10:34 & Ps. 82:6);

16. The Fourfold Gospel (Note for John 10:35);

17. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
(John 10:34-36);

18. Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:6-8 and John 10:35);

19. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible (Ps. 82:1).

20. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament ('Little Kittel'), - p. 328, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985.

21. The Expositor’s Greek Testament, pp. 794-795, Vol. 1, Eerdmans Publishing Co.

22. The Amplified Bible, Ps. 82:1, 6 and John 10:34, 35, Zondervan Publ., 1965.

23. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, John 10:34, 35.

24. B. W. Johnson's People's New Testament, John 10:34-36.

nick said...

Here are some Trinitarian statements for your review:

"Human rulers or judges, regarded as divine representatives or as bearers of divine authority and majesty (Exodus 21:6; 22:8 {cf. 1 Samuel 2:25}; Judges 5:8, Psalm 82:1,6) b. Spiritual or heavenly beings, including God (Genesis 1:27) and angels (Psalm 8:6, Engl.V.5) c. Angels (Psalms 97:7; 138: 1) d. Heathen gods and their images (Exodus, 20:23; Jeremiah 16:20)...both el, {meaning 'god'} and elohim {meaning 'gods'), have extended or 'irregular' applications to angels or to persons who represent on earth divine power, judgment, or majesty." (Jesus as God, the New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, pp.24, 26; Murray J. Harris)

The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1985 clearly recognizes the truth about the lesser meaning of theos and elohim ('a god'):

"In the language of the OT ... rulers and judges, as deputies of the heavenly King, could be given the honorific title ‘god’ ... or be called ‘son of God’.” - footnote for Ps. 82:1.

And, in the footnote for Ps. 45:6, this trinitarian study Bible tells us: “In this psalm, which praises the [Israelite] king ..., it is not unthinkable that he was called ‘god’ as a title of honor (cf. Isa. 9:6).”

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1986, tells us:

“The reason why judges are called ‘gods’ in Ps. 82 is that they have the office of administering God’s judgment as ‘sons of the Most High’. In context of the Ps. the men in question have failed to do this.... On the other hand, Jesus fulfilled the role of a true judge as a ‘god’ and ‘son of the Most High’.” - Vol. 3, p. 187.

The highly respected (and highly trinitarian) W. E. Vine tells us:

“The word [theos, ‘god’ or ‘God’] is used of Divinely appointed judges in Israel, as representing God in His authority, John 10:34” - p. 491, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

B. W. Johnson's People's New Testament says for John 10:34-36:

"Is it not written in your law. In Psa. 82. I said, Ye are gods? It was there addressed to judges. Christ's argument is: If your law calls judges gods, why should I be held guilty of blasphemy for saying that I am the Son of God? Sanctified. Set apart."

And Barnes’ Notes tells us in commenting on John 10:34, 35:

The scripture cannot be broken. See Matthew 5:19. The authority of the Scripture is final; it cannot be set aside. The meaning is,

'If, therefore, the Scripture uses the word "god" as applied to magistrates, it settles the question that it is right to apply the term to those in office and authority. If applied to them, it may be to others in similar offices. It can not, therefore, be blasphemy to use this word as applicable to a personage so much more exalted than mere magistrates as the Messiah.' -Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Eerdmans, 1978 Reprint, “Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation”:

“65. GOD - is used of any one (professedly) MIGHTY, whether truly so or not, and is applied not only to the true God, but to false gods, magistrates, judges, angels, prophets, etc., e.g. - Exod. 7:1; 15:11; 21:6; 22:8, 9;...Ps. 8:5; 45:6; 82:1, 6; 97:7, 9...John 1:1; 10:33, 34, 35; 20:28....”

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon, 1974 printing,

“430. [elohim]. el-o-heem’; plural of 433; gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: - angels, ... x (very) great, judges, x mighty.” - p. 12, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary.”

-continuing

Jeff said...

Man, your all over the place! :) Give me some time and I will try to catch up.

OK, Nick, I'll try to slow down and give you more time to answer everything you want to answer.

Jeff said...

Nick,

Maybe what I'll try to do is, instead of commenting on every single point you make or everything you say, and then you commenting on every point I make, which will probably only make every response by each of us consist of 5 or more long, wordy comments...instead of that, I think I'll try more to just ask you a question or two, and then just read your response to those questions, and, at least for the most part, try to let it go at that. Maybe that way, there will be less work and hassle for each of us. Therefore, I will try not to debate every point you make, but instead, just read what you wrote, and then ask one or two questions. Does that sound agreeable to you? Like I said, these replies to each other are sometimes getting long, so it might be easier on both of us to do it that way.

Jeff said...

And please note that I said I will try to do that. Don't hold me to that literally. I will very likely stray from that idea sometimes. Nevertheless, I will try to make that my goal, or at least a general plan to attempt to follow as much as I can. Basically, I will attempt to make my comments more limited (which won't be easy for me, because I have been told more than once that I tend to be verbose in my writing).

Jeff said...

I'm from Hawaii but now in Italy.

Very interesting. Are you from Hawaiian descent?

Jeff said...

We would prefer to see Jehovah in the place of “LORD,” but again an entirely different subject.

I would prefer to see "YHWH" (the tetragrammaton, which is, of course, not God's full name) instead of the capitalized "LORD," and in a few Bibles, I believe that is indeed the case. In some other Bibles, it does denote in the footnotes that when "LORD" is in all caps, it should read as YHWH. So, in a limited sense, at least, we agree on this.

I am already starting to exceed what I said I would attempt to do, but even so, I am attempting to make more casual comments, instead of rebuttals to things you have said.

I don't think it would really be worth it to get into a debate over the pronunciation or spelling of a word (We have already spent a lot of time debating the definition of a few words, and I am already seeing that it is probably pointless to debate the intended meaning of a word that possesses more than one meaning). Nevertheless, I just now found this on Wikipedia, and, just for the sake of interest, I wanted to include it. Please don't feel that a response is necessary, however:

"Many scholars hold the view that "Yehowah" (or in Latin transcription "Jehovah") is a pseudo-Hebrew form which was mistakenly created when Medieval and/or Renaissance Christian scholars misunderstood the common Qere perpetuum of the partial vowel points of Adonai written together with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton YHWH (in order to indicate that written YHWH should be pronounced aloud as "Adonai", as was the usual Jewish practice at the time of the Masoretes). This would be a mistake of exactly the same type as reading hiw for the Qere perpetuum of the third-person singular feminine pronoun."

Jeff said...

I hope you are feeling better than my fingers.

LOL

nick said...

Hey there Jeff,

You're a good guy. I respect what you have to say and do not seek to challenge everything we disagree on. I sincerely think that you love God and Christ and are a truth seeker but feel that you really haven't heard the full scriptural evidence on certain texts. I promise from these discussions you may not budge on anything but you will have a more well-rounded understanding than ever before.

I have poured hundreds of hours looking at these texts from both perspectives. I love textual criticism and is something I really enjoy. I want to know the full truth and don't appreciate being lied to. Worshiping God with "spirit and truth," is my aim.
If someone can show me something better or replace what I have I am all ears. To this date, no one has.

I am originally from Southern California but my home s in Honolulu for 15 years. I married a beautiful "wahine." We moved to Italy to work with the English-speaking community in our Bible education activity. In Italy we have now over 3,200 congregations and growing. 800 plus are now foreign-language groups and congregations.

Please don't take it wrong when I told you to allow me to catch up. You can ask me anything and I won't be offended one bit. Fire away! Just give me time and I will address it. If you share with me something I do read and prayerfully consider it. I never ignore it. I will make a brief comment on it if I think it is seems necessary.

We can agree that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, should be kept where it belongs. Many critics harp on the name "Jehovah" as not being a correct pronunciation. I am sorry but they don't know what they are talking about and have a double-standard. Don't wish to go over this with you now but you can check out this recent blog of a correspondent of mine in Hawaii who tried to put God's Name, Jehovah, in a negative light.

Check it out and the current 8 comments to his blog article when you get a chance. I hope you can see what I had to say is fair and reasonable.

http://eutychusnerd.blogspot.com/

By the way, where are you from Jeff?

Nick

nick said...

-continuing

Consider too the name “Jehu” means “Jehovah is He” but that does make “Jehu” the same being as Jehovah does it? “Eli’atha” means “God Has Come.” Is he God as well? What about the other many Bible names given to others similar to these?

It was a common practice among Jews to embody the word "God," even "Jehovah," in Hebrew names. Even today “Immanuel” is the proper name of many men, none of whom are incarnations of God. One of my best friends has that name.

In announcing Jesus' coming birth, did Jehovah's angel say that the child would be God himself? No, the announcement was: "He will be great, and will be called the SON of the Most High." (Luke 1:32, 35)

He was Jehovah's Representative, Jehovah's Anointed One, the Christ or Messiah. In sending the Messiah to the Jews God showed that he was with them, not against them. He continued with the faithful Jewish remnant that accepted Jesus the Messiah, and he is with those who accept Christ the enthroned King at this time.

It would be good to study carefully Isaiah 7 and 8 and try to understand who "Immanuel" was in Isaiah's day. How would he serve as a sign? Was he also a God-man? Because one of Isaiah’s sons was called “Immanuel,” did this mean he was God himself? In what way was God at that time “with his people?”

The widely acclaimed Trinitarian Bible dictionary, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Vol. 2, pp. 86, 87, states:

“The name Emmanuel [or Immanuel] which occurs in Isa. 7:14 and 8:8 means lit. ‘God [is] with us’ .... In the context of the times of Isaiah and King Ahaz the name is given to a child as yet not conceived with the promise that the danger now threatening Israel from Syria and Samaria will pass ‘before the child knows how to refuse evil and choose the good.’ Thus, the child and its name is a sign of God’s gracious saving presence among his people .... [The name Emmanuel] could be a general statement that the birth and naming of the special child will indicate that the good hand of God is upon us.” - p. 86. And, “The point of the present passage [Matt. 1:23] is to see in the birth of Jesus a saving act of God, comparable with the birth of the first Emmanuel. Both births signify God’s presence with his people through a child.” (pg. 87)

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

Ciao Jeff,

You shared with me this:

“Nick, Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah: "Therefore the Lord [Jehovah] himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (literally, God or Jehovah with us, since Jehovah is the only God.) This speaks of Jesus being God.”

True, “Jesus is called “Immanuel,” (Matthew 1:23); which means “God or Jehovah is with us.” But does this prove that this means Jesus must be God? Not at all.

We both know that personal names were extremely important to God and to his people as recorded in the Bible. The meanings of their names were often carefully selected by their parents and were sometimes changed during their lifetimes because of changing circumstances.

Many trinitarians in past discussions have tried to tell me that, since the name “Jesus” (probably “Yehoshua” in Hebrew) means “Jehovah is Salvation” (or “Jehovah Saves”), then Jesus is Jehovah.

If that were true, then all the other people in the Bible whose names had that same meaning (which includes all those named “Jesus,” “Joshua,” “Jeshuah,” and “Isaiah”) are also Jehovah!

It is very interesting that Joshua was originally named ‘Hoshea’ (“Salvation” - p. 303, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publ.), but Moses began to call him ‘Joshua’ (Yehoshua: ‘Jehovah is Salvation’ or ‘Jehovah the Savior’ - p. 358; “[Jehovah] Saves” - Young’s Concordance; “Jehovah Saved” - Strong’s Concordance) at a certain point. - Numbers 13:8, 16.

Obviously Moses meant in no way to imply that Hoshea had become Jehovah! The addition of “Jehovah” to Hoshea’s name merely indicated Moses’ understanding of Hoshea’s loyalty to Jehovah and that any salvation that might occur through the man Joshua most certainly came originally from Jehovah.

Notice that the actual name for “Joshua” in the original language of the NT is identical to the name for “Jesus.” See Hebrews 4:8 and compare Hebrews 6:20 in the NT Greek portion of a New Testament Greek-English interlinear Bible. Also see Acts 7:45 and compare Acts 16:7 and Matt. 26:51.

-continuing

nick said...

-continued

It is true that many Bible translations published by Trinitarians do not convey this passage in this way like the NASB,(New American Standard Bible; which renders this text: “His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

It should be commended for showing an alternative rendering in the margin which says: “His appearances are from long ago, from days of old.”

Well how do we know for a certainty which translations agree with the context? The ones that imply Jesus has always existed or the ones that simply say he existed for a long time? Here’s one way how.

Since all translations admit Jesus had an ORIGIN or a going forth, we recognize it could not mean eternity. (Origin: “a coming into existence” - Webster's New World Dictionary, 1973.)

The NIV Study Bible, in a footnote for Micah 5:2 explains: “origins...from of old. His “beginnings” were much earlier than his human birth.”

In actuality, this verse supports the fact that Jesus had an ORIGIN, which is something NEVER said of God. The Son, had “his beginnings,” when he was brought into existence by God. He truly is, “the beginning of the creation of God.” (Revelation 3:14) He is not the "beginner" or "originator" of creation as some Bible translators try to have it. The Son had a beginning, he has origin.

We also notice what is said of the Messiah, a couple of verse later in Micah 5:4, “And he hath stood and delighted in the strength of Jehovah, In the excellency of the name of Jehovah his God, And they have remained, For now he is great unto the ends of earth.” (Young’s Literal Translation)

We are still talking about the same person we were in verse 2 and we notice the Messiah’s God is Jehovah! Obviously he cannot be Jehovah if Jehovah is his God.

More on this later,

Nick

nick said...

Hello there Jeff,

Next up, You shared:

”Micah 5:2 is another prophecy of Jesus the Messiah, and says that he has been "from everlasting." So, Jesus is eternal. He was not created.”

Not so fast. It isn’t that slam dunk. I wonder if you realize that the Hebrew word you are seeing as “from everlasting,” which is “oh-lahm,” can mean either “forever,” “of old,” “a long time ago,” as well as “to time indefinite.”

It is of interest to note how Lexicographer Gesenius defines it as meaning “hidden time, i.e. obscure and long, of which the beginning or end is uncertain or indefinite.” (A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, translated by E. Robinson, 1836, p. 746)

The word translated “eternity,” as translated in the Bible translation or version you sent me, does NOT have to imply a time span of eternity as if Jesus ALWAYS existed.

Let’s do a translation Review:

“…origin is from olden times, from most ancient days.” Leeser.

“…origin is of old, of long descent.” Moffatt.

“…origin is of old from ancient times.” NAB.

“…origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.” Jerusalem Bible.

“…origin is from ancient age, from the days of old.” Noyes.

“…origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Revised Standard Version.

“…origin is from of old, from ancient days.” NRSV.

“…origins are from of old, From ancient days.” Goodspeed.

“…origins being from of old, from ancient days.” Byington.

“…origins are from of old, from ancient times.” NIV.

-continued

nick said...

Hello Jeff,

One final thing. Something else you told me was this:

"Jehovah Himself planned to appear in human form:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah (YHWH),"

Before I discuss this more with you in depth, can you do me a big favor?

Do you believe Jesus was "the Father?" (John 6:46) A simple yes or no would do.

That's all for now.

Nick

Jeff said...

You can ask me anything and I won't be offended one bit. Fire away! Just give me time and I will address it. If you share with me something I do read and prayerfully consider it. I never ignore it. I will make a brief comment on it if I think it is seems necessary.

I appreciate your attitude, Nick.

By the way, where are you from Jeff?

I was born and raised in Miami, FL, and lived there most of my life.

Jeff said...

Nick,

It would be good to study carefully Isaiah 7 and 8 and try to understand who "Immanuel" was in Isaiah's day. How would he serve as a sign? Was he also a God-man? Because one of Isaiah’s sons was called “Immanuel,” did this mean he was God himself? In what way was God at that time “with his people?”

Just as a note regarding this, in Isaiah 8:8, where it says, "thy land, O Immanuel," Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says:

"Though temporarily applied to Isaiah's son, in the full sense this is applicable only to Messiah, that Judea is His, was, and still is, a pledge that, however sorely overwhelmed, it shall be saved at last; the "head" is safe even now, waiting for the times of restoration (Ac 1:6); at the same time these words imply that, notwithstanding the temporary deliverance from Syria and Israel, implied in "Immanuel," the greatest calamities are to follow to Judah."

Jeff said...

Nick,

It is true that many Bible translations published by Trinitarians do not convey this passage in this way like the NASB,(New American Standard Bible; which renders this text: “His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

A friend of mine, who is a few months away from getting his PhD in Theology, told me a while back that the NASB, in his opinion, is the best Bible to use for Bible study, and is the most accurate.

Do you believe Jesus was "the Father?" (John 6:46) A simple yes or no would do.

No.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

A big game is about to start but would like to make a comment on something you related to me before I move on to the next question you had for me. You shared:

"A friend of mine, who is a few months away from getting his PhD in Theology, told me a while back that the NASB, in his opinion, is the best Bible to use for Bible study, and is the most accurate."

I also believe the NASB is a good formal equivalence translation and it attempts to reveal as much of the original form as possible. It also is smooth-flowing which I personally enjoy.

As I mentioned earlier, I really appreciate that it often offers viable, alternative renderings. I prefer it over many “loose translations” that often get carried away and start taking liberties they ought not.

Every translation has its’ faults and weaknesses. Yes, even the respected NASB. Sometimes it seems to be in the shadow of the King James Version. If the NASB was truly the “most accurate,” Bible translation available I do believe it should have adhered to the standards of accurate translation by not substituting “Lord” for Jehovah or “Yahweh/Yehowah.”

Popular opinion is not a valid regulator of biblical accuracy. For this reason I favor the “New American Bible,” over the “New American Standard Bible,” (NASB).

Think we will both agree with what Biblical Koine Greek Professor Jason BeDuhn said in his Bible Translation evaluation book, “Truth in Translation-Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament,” when he wrote:

“It is true that translation always involves a degree of interpretation, even in deciding lexical meaning of a word to choose among the many possibilities. But there is a basic difference between linguistic and contextual interpretation that reveals the meaning of Greek, and theological interpretation that constructs systems of belief from those sentences. It is my contention that such theological interpretation can only be valid if it is based upon a carefully considered and sound translation of the Biblical text, and that translation must precede interpretation in that sense. But it is a hard distinction to maintain when many Bible translators have felt free to add interpretation to translation in their work.” (unquote)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Where do we come in? Our commitment and obligation as lovers and students of the Bible is to make sure the English Bible translations we possess have faithfully rendered the original text. By and large they do. But when important doctrinal questions arise, I feel, and I am sure you feel the same, they are often colored by theological preference, and this is rarely brought to the attention to the readers. I believe, though, we now have the tools to identify when this is done.

I think a good Bible translation study edition is also a good tool for Bible study, because it helps the readers to make informed choices. Our job as Bible students is to make sure that theology plays a legitimate role in the Bible translations we decide to use.

It is difficult to find an independent source that can often give a neutral and unbiased evaluation of the accuracy of a Bible translation, but I feel that Professor Jason Beduhn has given one of the most fair and balanced Biblical text appraisals of many major Bible translations to date. It is one of the reasons I consult his findings often.

Differences are bound to arise in our understand of a text or passage but it is good to keep in mind what Jason BeDuhn stated as we go about our assessment of what is truly “the most accurate” translation of Scripture.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hello there Jeff,

I always wanted to go to Miami. We had a great time in Florida years ago but mostly stayed in Orlando.

Thanks for supplying the quote from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary regarding "Immanuel" was applied.

It goes without saying that the prophecy in Isaiah regarding “Immanuel,” was fulfilled by Christ Jesus, outside of Isaiah’s son, which is made clear in Matthew's Gospel. This doesn’t mean that Jehovah did not show he was with his people in Isaiah’s day. He truly did and calling that one “Immanuel,” was very fitting and reassuring to them. It did not make that son of Isaiah God himself.

Should Jesus really be considered to be God because he was symbolically “named” Immanuel which does mean“God is with us”?

No more so than Gabriel was calling himself God when he visited Mary and declared: “The Lord is with thee.” (Luke 1:28). Nor did Zacharias mean that John the Baptizer (his new son) was actually God when he was asked, “I wonder what this child (John) will turn out to be?”, and he answered, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them.” (Luke 1:66-68; Living Bible)

Gabriel and Zacharias (Zechariah) meant exactly what Israelites have meant throughout thousands of years when saying “God is with us” and similar statements. They meant “God has favored us” or “God is helping us”! (Joshua 1:17; 1 Samuel 10:7; 2 Chronicles 15:2-4, 9)

But if we insist on Trinitarian-type “proof,” then Gabriel must have meant that he (Gabriel) is God! And Zacharias (whose own name means ‘Jehovah is renowned’ must have meant that John the Baptizer is God!

Not long ago a Trinitarian tried to use Jeremiah 23:6 where it refers to the Messiah, "This is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness," as undeniable proof that Jesus is God.

Unfortunately for "Jesus is Jehovah" advocates, the very same name given to the Messiah at Jeremiah 23:6 is identically given to the city of Jerusalem at Jeremiah 33:16.

I'm catching up. Will go over Isaiah 9:6 with you sometime tomorrow after I spend some time witnessing and with the congregation.

Sincerely,

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

No more so than Gabriel was calling himself God when he visited Mary and declared: “The Lord is with thee.” (Luke 1:28).

Gabriel was not calling himself God. You could say that he was representing God, like an ambassador, since he is one of God's angels, but he would never call himself God. That would be a sin.

Jeff said...

Hey Nick,

Nor did Zacharias mean that John the Baptizer (his new son) was actually God when he was asked, “I wonder what this child (John) will turn out to be?”, and he answered, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them.” (Luke 1:66-68; Living Bible)

He was saying that God was sending John and would work through John and redeem his people through John. He was in no way calling John 'God.'

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

But if we insist on Trinitarian-type “proof,” then Gabriel must have meant that he (Gabriel) is God! And Zacharias (whose own name means ‘Jehovah is renowned’ must have meant that John the Baptizer is God!

I looked up 'Zachariah,' which is similar, and it said it means "Jehovah has remembered." But in any case, neither meaning is the same as "Jehovah with us." A name that gives honor to Jehovah is not the same as a name that means Jehovah with us.

Jeff said...

Unfortunately for "Jesus is Jehovah" advocates, the very same name given to the Messiah at Jeremiah 23:6 is identically given to the city of Jerusalem at Jeremiah 33:16.

"In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'"
(Jeremiah 33:16)

The NIV footnote says, "Because of Jerusalem's intimate relationship to the Messiah, it is given the same name by which he is called in 23:6."

"In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:6)

NIV footnote:
Although Zedekiah did not live up to the meaning of his name, "The LORD is my righteousness," Jesus the Messiah would bestow on his people the abundant blessings that come from the hands of a King who does "what is just and right" (v. 5).

Jesus was the ultimate priest, prophet and King, and He fulfilled all three roles perfectly.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

EXACTLY! It does not make John or Zechariah “God” and it does not demand that Jesus would be God physically with us because “Immanuel” means, “God is with us.” In the same. The name “Ithiel,” means “God is with me” but it is safe to say that his parents did not believe their son was God. (Proverbs 30:1)

The name Immanuel given to Jesus or anyone else, would not cause the Jews to think God was with them physically but to serve as a sign that God was with them in support, backing them.

The respected Trinitarian Harris, author of “Jesus As God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, got it right when examining in detail Matthew 1:23. He drew this conclusion:

“There are therefore strong reasons for believing that…in Jesus God is present to bring salvation to his people rather than Jesus, as {ho theos}, is personally present with his people. Matthew is not say, “Someone who is ‘God’ is now physically with us,” but “God” is acting on our behalf in the person of Jesus.” (pg. 258)

I have a friend of mine who has something else interesting to say that I will share later. I found it illuminating.Will get to the next text hopefully before the day is over.

Take care,

Nick

p.s "Did you look up Zechariah or Zedekiah?"

Jeff said...

p.s "Did you look up Zechariah or Zedekiah?"

I looked up Zechariah, not Zedekiah.

I have read that there are places in the New Testament where the word "ho" is followed by the word "theos," and they are not being used as a title. The context of where the words appear determines if it is meant to be a title or not.

For example, in 2 Co 4:4, "...in whom the (ho) god (theos) of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (who is the image of God) should not dawn on them. " It is undeniably clear, from the grammatical and sentence structure, that it is not being used as a title here. The subject in this case is 'god of this world,' not "The God."

How did Thomas and Peter find out who Jesus is? Through a book, dictionary or lexicon? No. Through revelation from God the Father.

Jesus said to Peter that 'no man has told you that I am the Christ but the Father in heaven.'

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matt. 16:13-17)

When Thomas cried out to Jesus "ho theos," that was revelation as well. Jesus did not rebuke him for calling him "The God."

"And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God [ho theos]! " (John 20:28)

Clearly, "ho theos" is being used as a title here.

Here are a few more of the many verses which show "ho theos" used as the title for Almighty God:

"You shall worship the Lord your God (ho theos), and Him only you shall serve." (Matt. 4:10)

"Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God (ho theos) with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Mat 22:37)

"...and you shall love the Lord your God (ho theos) with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30)

"But my God (ho theos) shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)

I read that the word "the" followed immediately by the word "God/god" appears only 40 times in literal translations of the New Testament, 39 of which refer to the one true God. The only exception is 2 Cor. 4:4. The Greek word "ho," followed immediately by the word "theos," appears upwards of 950 times in the original manuscripts and, with the exception of 2 Cor. 4:4, they are used to indicate Jehovah God.

nick said...

-continuing

The footnote for Isaiah 9:6 in the New American Bible states, “…this passage is used to refer to Christ. Upon his shoulder dominion rests: authority. Wonderful Counselor: remarkable for his wisdom and prudence. God-Hero: a warrior and a defender for his people, like God himself. Father-forever: ever devoted to his people. Prince of Peace: his reign will be characterized by peace.”

The NIV Study Bible under “Mighty God,” states: “His divine power as a warrior is stressed.” Of “Everlasting Father,” it says: “He will be an enduring, compassionate provider and protector.” According to another source: “The word designated for the expected Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 is el gibbor (from the root word, geber). It is usually translated ‘Mighty God,’ but more exactly is ‘Powerful Champion’ or ‘Godly Hero.’”

These observations were made likely because The Oxford Hebrew Lexicon defines “mighty god” as a “mighty hero or divine hero, as reflecting the divine majesty.”

The NIV Study Bible also says in the footnote for Psalms 45:6: "it is not unthinkable that [the king] was called 'god' as a title of honor (cf. Isa 9:6)."

Although “Mighty God or “Powerful Divine One” is correct English translation, some translators have attempted to communicate the force of the Hebrew expression into English in the following ways:

"In Battle Godlike" (New English Bible)

"Mighty Hero" (Revised English Bible)

"God-Hero" (New American Bible)
"a divine hero"(Moffatt)

"Divine Champion" (Byington)

Even that most-respected of Biblical Hebrew language experts, Gesenius, translated it "mighty hero." (p. 45, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon)

In addition to the distinct possibility of the use of the secondary subordinate meanings of the titles such as "God/god" as previously explained by Bible language scholars, we can see by the actual renderings of some Trinitarian Bible translators at Isaiah 9:6 that they believe such subordinate meanings were intended by the inspired Bible writer.

If others can be called gods by Jehovah, can Jesus be called a mighty God or Divine One? Since Jesus exercises great authority on behalf of his Father Jehovah acknowledging Jesus as a “divine mighty one” does not compromise our belief in monotheism which Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly hold to.

Have a good night.

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Actually we are both correct on the meaning of Zechariah. For example, in Easton's Bible Dictionary, Zechariah means Jehovah is renowned or remembered.

I read your comments about "ho theos," which I will go over with you after I go over a couple more things.

First, something else you told me:

“Jehovah Himself planned to appear in human form:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah (YHWH).”

I then asked:

“Do you believe Jesus was "the Father?" (John 6:46) A simple yes or no would do.”

You told me, “No.”

That is right! Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Trinitarians can agree that Jesus and the Father are different persons. That is why I asked you this to clarify that Trinitarians do not believe that Jesus is the Father of the Trinity.

Therefore, since we obviously cannot take “Everlasting Father,” in the literal sense to mean that Jesus is THE Father, we cannot take the rest of that same name (Mighty God) in its literal highest sense and say that Jesus is “Mighty God,” or assume this means he is the “ALMIGHTY One.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not deny that the Son can be referred to as, “Mighty God,” but at the same time, we recognize that he is not the “Most High and Living God, the Supreme One.

Since we positively know that the Son is not the Father from our study of the Bible, how are we to understand how Jesus does become an “Everlasting father”?

The Bible tells us that we are dying because of Adam but we are made alive through Christ. The first Adam is the father of us all. The Messiah would become the “second or last,” Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45) Really, Jesus was everything that Adam was supposed to be. Adam has given us all life, but it is a temporary sinful life.

On the other hand, by his sacrifice, Jesus has given us life as well. This life is an eternal life, and so he would appropriately be identified and become our “everlasting Father.” Not that he somehow also becomes “THE FATHER,” himself (John 6:46). Jesus himself acknowledges this.

The fact that this Son’s name will be called, “Mighty God” does not demand that he is the Almighty, for the same reason that being described with such an exalted description as “everlasting father” does not demand the meaning that the Messianic Son is “God the Father.”

If one were to insist that the Messiah must be the Almighty God because he is described as “Mighty God” in Isaiah’s writings, then, by the same logic, and with equal force, one could insist that he must be “God the Father” based on being described as “everlasting father.”

Such descriptions can be viewed as honorific, Messianic titles that would be given to God’s Son at some point in the future.

-continued

Jeff said...

Thanks, Nick.

Jehovah is also called the mighty God in Jeremiah 32:18, and the same Hebrew word for "mighty" (gibbor) is used.

Jeff said...

Nick,

OK, I know that the Bible says there are false gods. So, then, if Jesus is called a 'mighty God,' is he a legitimate TRUE mighty god, or a false god?

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

The problem with your reasoning is that the Bible only calls the Father Jehovah “Almighty,” it does not call “the Son,” Almighty. Not once. The word “Almighty” is translated from the Hebrew word “Shaddai” and the Greek word “Pantokrator.” The word basically means, “All Powerful.”

Jesus is powerful but not all powerful. The power he has is greater than all, with the exception of Jehovah his Father. All the power he has was received is by his Father. This is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe: Is Jesus “high” in position? Yes. Is Jehovah “high” in position? Yes. Is Jesus “Most High?” No. Is Jehovah “Most High?” Yes.

Of course, “Almightiness” entails “mightiness” this is a given. But does “mightiness ALWAYS entail Almightiness”? Not necessarily.
Jehovah can very well be described as a great or “mighty God,” and he has, as correctly pointed out. But only the Father is described as “Almighty,” and YES, there is a difference. Even more and more Trinitarians are now conceding that there is some kind of “rank” within the Trinity right?

These are the facts. The title, "ALMIGHTY" is ONLY reserved for the Father, Jehovah. Exodus 6:3 clearly tells us this: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.” (King James Version).

The Almighty Jehovah is the Father of glory, "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:17)
Jesus is NOT the Father. Yet, Trinitarians insist that Jesus is Jehovah. However, Jehovah (YHWH) is the Father.

The Bible unites to tell us this:

(Deuteronomy 32:6) "Is it to Jehovah (YHWH) that YOU keep doing this way, O people stupid and not wise? Is he not your Father who has produced you, He who made you and proceeded to give you stability?"

(Isaiah 64:8) "And now, O Jehovah (YHWH), you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our Potter; and all of us are the work of your hand."

(Isaiah 63:16) "For you are our Father; although Abraham himself may not have known us and Israel himself may not recognize us, you, O Jehovah (YHWH), are our Father."

(Jeremiah 3:19) "And I myself have said, 'O how I proceeded to place you among the sons and to give you the desirable land, the hereditary possession of the ornament of the armies of the nations!' And I further said, '"My Father!" YOU people will call out to me, and from following me YOU people will not turn back.'

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

So if Jesus is Jehovah but he is not the Father but Jehovah is the Father, well, it becomes clear to any thinking person that this is circular reasoning.

What does the Bible really teach? Jesus is the "Son of the Most High." (Luke 1:30-32). He is great and he is mighty true! But we must not forget that Psalms 83:18 tells us in the KJV that "the Most High" is JEHOVAH. This is the Almighty God that "made him both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36)

Jesus was given a name that is superior over all, but there is an exception, his Father who gave him all things to begin with. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

Jehovah, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is alone SUPREME. That’s the difference. He is “the Majesty of the heavens,” to whom Jesus, the high priest, sits at the right hand of. Jesus is obviously distinguished from this Majestic One in Hebrews 8:1.

Two interesting side thoughts, the first one is the word "mighty" as found at Isaiah 9:6 (Gibbor in the original Hebrew) is also applied to the angels at Psalms 103:20 (see a modern concordance such as the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). Of course, they are not as “mighty,” as Jesus and Jehovah even though they are called, “gods” in a lower sense.

It is also of interest that the ancient translation of the Old Testament that Jesus frequently quoted, the Septuagint Version, renders Isaiah 9:6: "and his (the Messiah’s) name is called the Angel (messenger) of Great Counsel."

Gotta grab some lunch. Will pick up later on the second part of your question.

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Getting back to you on this question:

“OK, I know that the Bible says there are false gods. So, then, if Jesus is called a 'mighty God,' is he a legitimate TRUE mighty god, or a false god?”

You and I agree there are ‘false gods,” but then you ask me if Jesus is a legitimate “TRUE mighty god, or a false god? Looks like a loaded question but let's see if we can manage to find a satisfying, reasonable answer.

I know sometimes we see things as either A or B but let's not rule out C.

Can I ask you if you think Jesus is a “TRUE light”? John 1:9 describes him as the "true light." (John 1:9) So if Jesus is the "true light" does this mean that God is then not the true light?

The Bible tells us that God is the source of light. (Isaiah 45:7) Does this mean God is a false light? In no way. Jesus obviously reflected that light like no other. After all, “He (Christ) is the reflection of his (God’s) glory..” (Hebrews 1:3)

We can believe that God is a true light too. The conclusion we are to then draw is if the Son can be called the true light and yet this does not exclude the Father from being true light, then Jesus can call his Father the true God without eliminating himself from being true God too.

To the person who is only giving a passing thought to this subject, such reasoning may seem valid. But let's look at this a little further.

Jesus Christ said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world...” (ESV)
However, his disciples could be called the same. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world…”(ESV)

No reasonable person would argue that Christ disciples would think of themselves as the same individual of Jesus would they because they also were “the light of the world”?

Just because someone is called "true" does not mean he is the ONLY true one. Granted, this does not put them in the same category as Jesus, but it does not mean that they are false lights either.

We also note we can call Gabriel a "true angel" without implying no one else is an angel. We can call a person in a large corporation the "true VP" while acknowledging 10 other people in the same company can also be true VPs too.

Leah may be called Jacob's true wife without implying Rachel was not his true wife.

These examples may at first seem to support the Trinitarian argument that Jesus can be then be true God while referring to his Father as true God. Such is not the case because the examples are not the same. Though Trinitarians would like us to think they are the same. What some have done with their argument is try to cause us to forget Jesus used another word to describe God that sets him apart by using the word "ONLY" in John 17:3. “the only true God.”

What if Jesus had only said this, "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the true God."

If Jesus had said these words, it may be argued this would not contradict the idea Jesus is God too. It could be argued the Father is a true God and the Son is a true God as well.

Of course, this does not sit well with either Trinitarians or Jehovah's Witnesses because it implies two true Gods and there are other Scriptures that would conflict with that thought as well.

In order to combat this logic, Trinitarians say that there is ONE God, and they are correct, and that both the Son and the Father are both that One God.

If we stop right here and leave Jesus' words as they are stated above, we might be able to stretch that doctrine out of this verse, if we ignore many other Scriptures. However, Jesus did not stop here. Let's go a little further and assume Jesus said the following:

"This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God."

-continued

nick said...

-continuing


Now we add another element into the equation in that Jesus said his Father was the "ONLY" true God. This now complicates the Trinitarian explanation even more. Remember, to simply refer to Jesus' Father as "true God" may allow for Jesus being "true God" too. But in what way is the Father the "ONLY" true God?

Does this mean the Father is the Trinity? Does it mean he is the ONLY "God the Father, the first person of the Trinity" as if it was argued there were others? If the Father is the "ONLY" then what is the Son and the Holy Spirit?

The argument Trinitarians used above, about the Son and the Father both being true light, does not work now because the term "only" does not appear in their argument. If we now call the man in the corporation the "only true VP," we immediately eliminate any other person from being a true VP in that company. If we say there are other true VPs in the company, we cannot say the first man is the ONLY true VP.

So what about the "Father" (note Father, not God or Trinity) does the term "ONLY" apply too? The term "ONLY" is damaging to the deceptive reasoning of Trinitarians. The "Father" (the first person of the Trinity?) is the "ONLY" true God.

But let's not stop here because Jesus said even more:

"This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ."

Now we have an even further separation in the verse! Not only did Jesus say his Father was the "ONLY" true God, but he went so far as to unequivocally separate himself from "the only true God" (not just the "Father") by stating "and of the one whom you (the only true God) sent forth, Jesus Christ."

In what way is Jesus separate from the "only true God" so we have to take in knowledge of "the only true God" and Jesus Christ? Is not Jesus Christ and the "only true God" the same? The answer is obvious.

We can see the argument used by some in an effort to dismiss the obviousness of this verse, fails. They make no mention of the term "ONLY" nor the fact that Jesus then separated himself from the "only True God."

Sincerely,

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi, Nick,

Jesus is powerful but not all powerful. The power he has is greater than all, with the exception of Jehovah his Father. All the power he has was received is by his Father.

Yet, Matthew 28:18 says, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."

He said all authority, not just some of the authority.

And the King James Version, American King James Version, Douay-Rheims Bible, Darby Bible Translation, Webster's Bible Translation, and Weymouth New Testament render it, "...all power." For example, the Weymouth New Testament says, "Jesus however came near and said to them, "All power in Heaven and over the earth has been given to me." The KJV says, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

All power in heaven, and on the earth. Not limited power, but all power.

Even more and more Trinitarians are now conceding that there is some kind of “rank” within the Trinity right?

Not a ranking in power or in equality or in importance, but rather a voluntary submission. The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father.

Jesus is NOT the Father.

Yes, this we both agree on.

Yet, Trinitarians insist that Jesus is Jehovah.

Yes, Jesus, on several occasions, referred to Himself as the Name that God revealed Himself to Moses as: "I Am." The same name that YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah revealed Himself as.

Jeff said...

So if Jesus is Jehovah but he is not the Father but Jehovah is the Father, well, it becomes clear to any thinking person that this is circular reasoning.

Not if Jehovah (YHWH/Yahweh) is a Triune Being consisting of three distinct but co-equal Persons.

Jeff said...

After all, “He (Christ) is the reflection of his (God’s) glory..” (Hebrews 1:3)

The NIV footnote for Hebrews 1:2-3 is interesting here.

“The superiority of the Son’s revelation is demonstrated by seven great descriptive statements about him:
1. appointed heir of all things. The incarnate Son, having performed the work of redemption, was gloriously exalted to the position of the firstborn heir of God, i.e., he received the inheritance of God’s estate (“all things”). See Ro 8:17.
2. through whom he made the universe. See Jn 1:3; Col 1:16.
3. radiance of God’s glory.> As the brilliance of the sun is inseparable from the sun itself, so the Son’s radiance is inseparable from deity, for he himself is God, the second person of the Trinity (Jn 1:14,18).
4. exact representation of his being. Jesus is not merely an image or reflection of God. Because the Son himself is God, he is the absolutely authentic representation of God’s being (cf. Jn 14:9; Col 1:15).
5. sustaining all things. Christ is not like Atlas, the mythical Greek god who held the world on his shoulders. The Son dynamically holds together all that has been created through him (Col 1:17).
6. provided purification for sins. Through his redeeming death on the cross.
7. sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Being seated at God’s right hand indicates that the work of redemption is complete and that Christ is actively ruling with God as Lord over all (see v. 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1;1 Pe 3:22; see also note on Mk 16:19).”

Jeff said...

The "Father" (the first person of the Trinity?) is the "ONLY" true God.

I agree. The Father is the only true God. But the Son is also the only true God. And the Holy Spirit is also the only true God. There is only one true God. But He is a Being whose composition is made up of three Persons.

If God is truly God, and if He is the infinite (unlimited) God and we are his finite (limited) creation, then wouldn't it only make sense that He would be far beyond our ability to define Him, such that we will never be able to fully comprehend Him? After all, if we could fully comprehend Him, then it would make sense that He would hardly be worthy of our worship. Yes, He does reveal Himself in the Bible, so there are certain aspects about His nature that we can know and understand at a limited level. But if we can't even fully comprehend omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, or the ability to dwell outside time or space, then how can we fully comprehend a Being Who exists as three distinct, yet co-equal Persons, who all have different roles, yet are all one Being?

If all people somehow were able to merge into one human being, then we would have one human being who was composed of many distinct persons. Of course, this is impossible, because with people, one person = one being. And one person, being made of matter, takes up a specific amount of space, and can only be in one place at a time, and can only inhabit the present time. But with God, this is not the case. God is unique.

Jeff said...

My previous comment said:

"So if Jesus is Jehovah but he is not the Father but Jehovah is the Father, well, it becomes clear to any thinking person that this is circular reasoning.

Not if Jehovah (YHWH/Yahweh) is a Triune Being consisting of three distinct but co-equal Persons."

After re-reading what you wrote, and considering more carefully your words, "but Jehovah is the Father...", I think I need to add to my reply that the Father is indeed Jehovah, but Jehovah is not only the Father. So, taking that into account, and assuming that you mean that Jehovah is only composed of the Father, then your conclusion---saying that it is circular reasoning---is based on a false premise.

nick said...

Hello Jeff,

As always, thanks for your time and comments. I am not ignoring your most recent remarks but trying to answer your other ones a little at a time.

I have probably spent more time examining John 20:28 than any other so called, “Trinitarian proof text,” with possibly the exception of John 1:1.

Like any language, as you would know, Greek has idioms and other special grammatical units that have to be understood also.

It does no good to speak about the Greek definite article (ho) as signifying a "title" if it is part of a genitive construction such as "my god," "your god," etc, which requires use of the article anyway: "the god of me" or "the god of you" is how the Greeks literally say "my god" or "your god." Whether it means "my God" or "your God" depends, not on the use of the definite article in this construction, but on the context.

The Greek definite article may also do more than signify a title. It can be anaphoric (referring to someone previously mentioned without repeating the name or title), or it can simply definitize, as it does at 2 Corinthians 4:4, "the god of this world," as you seem to understand.

John 20:28 has been specifically commented upon concerning this use of the definite article by C. F. D. Moule, Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He states:

“In John 20:28 ... it is to be noted that a substantive [such as ‘Lord’ or ‘God’ in this verse] in the nominative case in a vocative sense [in apparent address to someone] and followed by a possessive [‘of me’] could not be anarthrous [i.e., without the definite article] ...; the article before theos may, therefore, not be significant” (An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, p. 116)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Recently I finished reading a book called “The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation,” by Professor Rolf Furuli who knows Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek. He had something of interest to say regarding this passage of John 20:28.

He wrote, “In this passage it is not possible to claim that the article has semantic importance, and that Jesus is therefore identical with ho theos in John 1:1, because the article is grammatically required. There is of course a possibility that it has semantic importance, but there is no way to know for sure. Because the phrase has a possessive pronoun (“my”), the word theos must be definite, and in Greek it cannot stand without the article. We may illustrate this with the English possessive pronoun. If I say “my book” the reference is definite. If I am referring to this particular book and I phrase my words differently, I could say, “this book of mine” or “the book of mine,” however, I cannot say “book of mine,” and if I say “a book of mine” the reference is indefinite. Thus, a definite reference in English containing the possessive pronoun also requires the definite article or a demonstrative pronoun. In Greek all kinds of references including a possessive pronoun require the article. We cannot know exactly what Thomas meant with his exclamation. Those believing in the trinity can hardly argue that Thomas meant that Jesus was the same as ho theos, with whom the Word is said to be (with) in John 1:1, because this would be tantamount to Sabellianism. Thus, Thomas’ words do not add anything to our understanding of the word theos when used of Jesus in John 1:1c, 18.”

You went on to bring out that both Peter and Thomas recognized who Jesus was by a revelation. Then you correctly quoted the example of Peter, who confesses Jesus, not as God, but as God's Son. Then you incorrectly compare that with what happened with Thomas. In the case of Thomas, Jesus gave not explicit commendation at all. If anything, he mildly rebuked Thomas for not believing without seeing first. Jesus commended those who believe in him without seeing.

The Thomas statement, whatever it means, is the statement of one man out of hundreds in the Bible, and therefore, cannot be interpreted in a way that overturns everything else that the Bible says. I will next go over with you the many ways one could understand this account that took place behind closed doors.

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

I have a quiet hour to look over with you something Thomas exclaimed when addressing the resurrected Jesus. He said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Since Jesus never referred to himself as “God” in the absolute sense, what precedent then did Thomas have for calling Jesus “my God”?

I want to let you to know how I approach this text and how I can come to the same conclusion that Jesus by the astonished apostle was being called, “theos, G-god.” What I do, though, is accept the term “theos,” as it is used in Scripture, and I recognize the biblical teaching that Jesus is a different “theos,” than the Father, and that the angels are also "gods," (Psalms 8:5), so were powerful men, (Psalms 82:1, 6) as well as the fact that the Father is the "one God," "the only true God," (John 17:3; Ephesians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 8:6) and “the God” of the Son, (1 Peter 1:3) and from these and other clear scriptural teachings, I gather the sense of terms when used of certain individuals.

Then, when I confront a text that admits of more than one rendering, I consider the possible referents based on context, the author's habitual use of language, and the grammar, and on this basis I offer what I believe is the best scriptural understanding and translation.

But when it comes to gathering the sense of terms like "God," and whether or not it can be used in harmony with the doctrine of the Trinity, Scripture affirms that it cannot be so used, and so I simply consider the different uses of the term in Scripture. The angels are gods but are said to have a God. (Psalms 136:2) Jesus is a god, but is also said to have a God. (John 1:1; Revelation 3:12)

Jesus is said to be a certain kind of “theos,” an only-begotton god. (John 1:18) and is distinguished from his God in terms of “theos,” (John 1:1) These and MANY other scriptural truths are what I use to determine the sense of terms like “theos,” when applied to angels, Jesus, or anybody else. I’m convinced Trinitarians simply bring post-biblical assumptions to the text and interpret various passages in light of those assumed truths.

One thing I do know is that Thomas was not contradicting Jesus, who had sent His disciples the message: “I am ascending to… my God and your God.” (John 20:17) Thomas DID NOT think that Jesus was Almighty God. Thomas may have addressed Jesus as “my God” in the sense of Christ’s being “a god,” though not “the only true God.”
Some scholars suggest that Thomas may simply have made an emotional exclamation of astonishment and amazement, a even a doxology.

Their consensus remains that if the New Testament intended that the words at John 20:28 be directed and aimed at Jesus, the vocative form would have been used, instead of the nominative. (I have a list of Scriptures they produce as evidence if you want to see it let me know.)

They point to a reading similar to that at 1 Samuel 20:12, when translated literally: "And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel..." KJV, Douay or "And Jonathan saith unto David, Jehovah God of Israel..." Young's, Darby.

And they quote Augustine to support their view:
"'Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.' He saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched; but by the means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other." Augustine in "Tractate CXXI"

While some Bible students perceive that the first address, “My Lord,” was spoken and applied to Jesus but “My God,” was directed to the Father in heaven. This also is an unproven assumption! It cannot be entirely ruled out but one can not be so sure.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Some astute ones believe that by saying “my God,” Thomas may have been acknowledging Jesus as God’s Spokesman and Representative, even as others addressed an angelic messenger as though he were Jehovah.

In other words, Thomas could have been using the word “God” like Manoah of old. (Judges 13:20-22) You can also compare Genesis 18:1-5, 22-33; 31:11-13; 32:24-30; Judges 2:1-5; 6:11-15. I think this is in the realm of possibility since many Jewish servants of God have done this in the past.

One should not make it seem this understanding is somehow unwarranted, when in fact it is could be quite appropriate.
Given the language of the time, and given that Jesus did represent the Father and have divine authority, the expression used by Thomas is certainly understandable.

On the other hand, to make Thomas say that Jesus was “God,” and thus 1/3 of a triune God, seems incredible.

In “Concessions of Trinitarians,” Michaelis, a Trinitarian, writes:

“I do not affirm that Thomas passed all at once from the extreme of doubt to the highest degree of faith, and acknowledged Christ to be the true God. This appears to me too much for the then existing knowledge of the disciples; and we have no intimation that they recognized the divine nature of Christ before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I am therefore inclined to understand this expression, which broke out in the height of his astonishment, in a figurative sense, denoting only “whom I shall ever reverence in the highest degree”…Or a person raised from the dead might be regarded as a divinity; for the word God is not always used in the strict doctrinal sense.”

This is of utmost importance to grasp this: When Trinitarians say, “Jesus is God," they don't really mean it, instead they are forced to qualify it. What they mean is that Jesus is one of three persons in a consubstantial divine triad.

But the Bible never defines or uses the term "God" with such a meaning. (It never differentiates “a person,” from an individual or being.) Therefore, even if one of these verses did call Jesus "God," it wouldn't support the Trinitarian interpretation.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not deny Jesus’ godship, or divinity. There is NOTHING at all offensive about calling Jesus “theos.” It IS offending when someone imports an anti-biblical view of God into the text. That is what the Trinity is, and those who advocate it are forced to redefine terms to fit with their post-biblical theology and create distinctions that do not exist in Scripture, in order to make others think that they have somehow established a view of God that is consistent with the Bible. Well, if we are allowed to do that then the Bible can be made to teach just about anything.

To wrap things up, I think it is good to read carefully just three verses after Thomas' exclamation, at John 20:31, how this Gospel write John further clarifies the matter by stating: "These have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God," not that he was Almighty God. And it meant "Son" in a literal way, as with a natural father and son, not as some mysterious part of a Trinity.

What it all really comes down to is this: You and I must acknowledge that there is one who is God to Jesus Christ. This, of course, goes right back to the whole issue of Jesus being "a god" who is clearly distinguished from God Almighty (NOT THE FATHER, BUT GOD) in John 1:1. Remember, you can't be the same God you are with or be the same God you worship.

Jesus told Satan that he worshipped Jehovah. The passage you shared with me in Matthew 4:10 points to Deuteronomy 5:9 which is speaking of Jehovah (YHWH) not Jesus. In fact all 3 passages Jesus purposely uses Scripture with the Divine Name. Jesus was telling Satan that everyone needs to worship God, His Father, in the ultimate and highest degree.

He also told Mary that he worshipped Jehovah, and he told the anointed Christian congregation after his glorification and return to heaven that he worshipped Jehovah. (Revelation 3:12) Perhaps he meant what he said several times in Revelation, "Let him that has an ear, hear what the spirit (which inspired the entire Bible record) says to the congregation."

Is anybody listening, or are they all too busy listening to themselves rather than to what the spirit says? I think that's a fair question.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Last thing tonight I wish to address was something else you shared:

“Yet, Matthew 28:18 says, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."

He said all authority, not just some of the authority.

And the King James Version, American King James Version, Douay-Rheims Bible, Darby Bible Translation, Webster's Bible Translation, and Weymouth New Testament render it, "...all power." For example, the Weymouth New Testament says, "Jesus however came near and said to them, "All power in Heaven and over the earth has been given to me." The KJV says, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

All power in heaven, and on the earth. Not limited power, but all power.” (unquote)

Yes, I whole-heartedly agree that all authority or power was given to Christ. But you should have also capitalized GIVEN. Jesus tells his disciples all authority had been GIVEN him. Did they now think he WAS God or that God gave him his authority?

There is no real justification for confusing the issue of how someone can have great authority and power and receive honor from everyone while still not being the supreme authority.

Consider the example of Joseph and the great authority entrusted to him in Genesis 41:39-42, 44, 55:

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘You will personally be over ALL my house and ALL my people will obey you implicitly. Only as to the throne I be greater than you…See, I do place you over ALL the land of Egypt.’ With that Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his own hand and put it upon Joseph’s hand. And Pharaoh further said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh but without your authorization no man may lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’…Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph. Whatever he says to you, you are to do.”

It is obvious from this account that all in Egypt would submit themselves to Joseph, recognizing his authority and power, even humbling bowing to him as servants. In fact, not doing so would actually be dishonoring Pharaoh! At the same time though, it can confidently be said that no one thought Joseph was equal to Pharaoh in the truest sense.

Was everything in Egypt in subjection to Joseph? Undeniably yes but there was an obvious exception to this rule, that being the Pharaoh. If we took a Trinitarian stance on this account we may well conclude that Joseph was equal to Pharaoh and that he was, by default, the Pharaoh of Egypt.

-continued

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Last thing tonight I wish to address was something else you shared:

“Yet, Matthew 28:18 says, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."

He said all authority, not just some of the authority.

And the King James Version, American King James Version, Douay-Rheims Bible, Darby Bible Translation, Webster's Bible Translation, and Weymouth New Testament render it, "...all power." For example, the Weymouth New Testament says, "Jesus however came near and said to them, "All power in Heaven and over the earth has been given to me." The KJV says, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

All power in heaven, and on the earth. Not limited power, but all power.” (unquote)

Yes, I whole-heartedly agree that all authority or power was given to Christ. But you should have also capitalized GIVEN. Jesus tells his disciples all authority had been GIVEN him. Did they now think he WAS God or that God gave him his authority?

There is no real justification for confusing the issue of how someone can have great authority and power and receive honor from everyone while still not being the supreme authority.

Consider the example of Joseph and the great authority entrusted to him in Genesis 41:39-42, 44, 55:

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘You will personally be over ALL my house and ALL my people will obey you implicitly. Only as to the throne I be greater than you…See, I do place you over ALL the land of Egypt.’ With that Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his own hand and put it upon Joseph’s hand. And Pharaoh further said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh but without your authorization no man may lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’…Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph. Whatever he says to you, you are to do.”

It is obvious from this account that all in Egypt would submit themselves to Joseph, recognizing his authority and power, even humbling bowing to him as servants. In fact, not doing so would actually be dishonoring Pharaoh! At the same time though, it can confidently be said that no one thought Joseph was equal to Pharaoh in the truest sense.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Was everything in Egypt in subjection to Joseph? Undeniably yes but there was an obvious exception to this rule, that being the Pharaoh. If we took a Trinitarian stance on this account we may well conclude that Joseph was equal to Pharaoh and that he was, by default, the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Whoever would state such a viewpoint is ridiculous and narrow-minded? Is it not obvious to all that Pharaoh has authority because he is the Pharaoh but Joseph has authority only because the Pharaoh decided to give it to him? Since this is the case, why would we so quickly gloss over the fact Jesus was GIVEN his authority by God, and instead, insist his authority is proof that he is God?

Joseph had phenomenal power in Egypt, over ALL the land and over ALL the people, BUT he was not the highest power as he too had to subject himself to the one who gave him his power. It is no different with Jesus and the great authority that was given him. (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28)

In fact, God has “left nothing that is not subject to him (Jesus),” that is, with the EXCEPTION of His Father, Jehovah Himself. (Hebrews 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:27) Jesus certainly does not have authority OVER his Father.

Jesus made this clear when the mother of two disciples asked that her sons sit one at the right and one at the left of Jesus when he came into his Kingdom. You know how Jesus answered: “As for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Had Jesus been Almighty God, those positions would have been his to give. But Jesus could not give them, for they were His God and Fathers’ to give, and Jesus was not Him. Yes, Jesus was been given all authority and power by permission of His Father and he certainly does not have authority or power over Him but everything else because he was placed in this high ruling position as His designated King, our Messianic ruler.

With deep respect,

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

Recently I finished reading a book called “The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation,” by Professor Rolf Furuli who knows Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek. He had something of interest to say regarding this passage of John 20:28.
...
There is of course a possibility that it has semantic importance, but there is no way to know for sure.
...
We cannot know exactly what Thomas meant with his exclamation.
...
Thus, Thomas’ words do not add anything to our understanding of the word theos when used of Jesus in John 1:1c, 18.”


He is (presumably) fluent in Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek, and yet, he says of this major statement in the Bible---a collection/library of 66 books which has been read, critiqued, analyzed, studied, criticized, commented upon, etc., more than any other book in history---that we cannot know what it means??? Does that make sense to you?

Those believing in the trinity can hardly argue that Thomas meant that Jesus was the same as ho theos, with whom the Word is said to be (with) in John 1:1, because this would be tantamount to Sabellianism.

It sounds to me like Professor Furuli does not really understand the Trinity.

James Stewart wrote a review of this book, which originally appeared on Amazon.com on July 9, 1999. In his review, he stated, in part, "If you are looking for a book on The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation, (in my opinion) you won't find it here." "Mr. Furuli does state in note 8 on page xvii, "Any work will, to a certain extent, be colored by the author's theology, this is of course also the case with this book." This is too weak of an admission. What you find is a book that should have been entitled 'New World Translation Defended.' This book is just a Jehovah's Witness apologetic." "Considering the author's claims of providing an objective analysis, it is surprising that he attempts to refute books that are critical of the New World Translation." "The largest problem with all of this is that he is contradicting his organization! In The Watchtower, 7/1/73, page 402, it stated, "Only this organization functions for Jehovah's purpose and to his praise. To it alone God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book." And, in The Watchtower, 10/1/67, page 587, it stated, "Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason, the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah's visible organization in mind." "One glaring deficiency in this book is no discussion of the concepts of 'marked' and 'unmarked' meanings of words. This is fundamental to any book on translation. If you want to read a real book on Bible translation, Mr. Furuli references two books I would highly recommend. They are The Theory and Practice of Translation by E.A. Nida & C.R. Taber published by Leiden: Brill, 1974 and From One Language to Another by J. de Waard & E.A. Nida published by Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986."

Jeff said...

Nick,

What I do, though, is accept the term “theos,” as it is used in Scripture, and I recognize the biblical teaching that Jesus is a different “theos,” than the Father, and that the angels are also "gods," (Psalms 8:5), so were powerful men, (Psalms 82:1, 6) as well as the fact that the Father is the "one God," "the only true God," (John 17:3; Ephesians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 8:6) and “the God” of the Son, (1 Peter 1:3) and from these and other clear scriptural teachings, I gather the sense of terms when used of certain individuals.

I still don't understand how you can call angels and others "gods," when the only "gods" I see in the Bible (besides the one true God, YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah), are false gods.

Would you agree that, by the term "false gods," is meant gods that don't exist? And would you agree that such "gods" are demonic deceptions and have come about as ideas in the minds of men through demonic influence? The only God or gods I have ever heard of, whether Greek gods, Roman gods, Egyptian gods, etc., are those who are meant to be worshiped.

Then, when I confront a text that admits of more than one rendering, I consider the possible referents based on context, the author's habitual use of language, and the grammar, and on this basis I offer what I believe is the best scriptural understanding and translation.

And yet, are you yourself not also bound by the authority of the Watchtower, regarding Bible interpretation? I'm referring to the Watchtower quote in my previous comment: "Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason, the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah's visible organization in mind."

Jeff said...

To wrap things up, I think it is good to read carefully just three verses after Thomas' exclamation, at John 20:31, how this Gospel write John further clarifies the matter by stating: "These have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God," not that he was Almighty God. And it meant "Son" in a literal way, as with a natural father and son, not as some mysterious part of a Trinity.

OK, now you have me confused. I have learned that Muslims misunderstand what Christians mean by God being a "Trinity," because Muslims take "Son" literally, and they say that God does not have a wife. They assume that "Son" means biological son, conceived by sexual means. My understanding is that they think that Christians believe that God had sex with Mary. This is a blatant misunderstanding of what Christians mean by Jesus being the "Son" of God. By "Son of God," Christians mean in a spiritual sense, not a physical sense. So, could you please further explain what you mean by, "in a literal way, as with a natural father and son"? In other words, how could Jesus be the natural son of God?

Jeff said...

Jesus told Satan that he worshipped Jehovah.

This is completely incorrect. Jesus never told Satan that He Himself worshiped Jehovah.

Jeff said...

He also told Mary that he worshipped Jehovah, and he told the anointed Christian congregation after his glorification and return to heaven that he worshipped Jehovah. (Revelation 3:12)

Again, this is totally false. Jesus never told Mary or anyone else that He Himself worshiped Jehovah.

Jeff said...

At the same time though, it can confidently be said that no one thought Joseph was equal to Pharaoh in the truest sense.

Was everything in Egypt in subjection to Joseph? Undeniably yes but there was an obvious exception to this rule, that being the Pharaoh. If we took a Trinitarian stance on this account we may well conclude that Joseph was equal to Pharaoh and that he was, by default, the Pharaoh of Egypt.


In fact, Joseph was equal to Pharaoh: "Then Judah went up to him and said: "Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself." (Genesis 44:18)

As far as Joseph also being Pharaoh, as I stated previously, with humans, two or three persons cannot be the same being. However, with God, it is different: He alone exists as three Persons, yet one Being.

Jeff said...

Since this is the case, why would we so quickly gloss over the fact Jesus was GIVEN his authority by God, and instead, insist his authority is proof that he is God?

As I said previously, although each Person of the Trinity is co-equal, there is, within the relationship, a voluntary submission within the Trinity.

Although it may not seem like it, I am attempting to make as few comments as possible, and I am also attempting to make my comments as brief as I can. Where you address the same point more than once in consecutive comments, I am trying to address the point only once. And I am trying to comment only on those points which seem the most outstanding to me. In fact, I have another question I want to ask you, but I am postponing it for the moment, since we each are still making multiple comments.

nick said...

Hello Jeff,

Off to a good start today I hope. Please know that I am not just relying on what Rolf Furli says but despite what you may think or have been told to believe he is very objective and fair in his book. You haven’t read it so you are speaking without knowledge.

When you ask “all-knowing google" you can get critical, bad reviews on any book. It means little to me. And trust me, I am not blindly following the teachings of WT or JW theology as you are saying. As I told you before I have weighed both sides and heard out both camps very carefully and have come to a well-researched conclusion. If you can prove to me you are right I will happily be sitting next to you at church on Sunday. At least in the spirit. :)

Yesterday, I presented quotes from Furli and Moule, but many others understood the grammatical construction of John 20:28 does not necessarily prove anything.

“The article in Jn 20:28 is explained by the mou (mou, moo, “of me”) which normally requires the article before it; by its use with the vocative [case]...and by its presence in the established formula ‘the lord and the god’...It should be further noted that ‘the god of me’, whether it is taken as vocative [direct address] or nominative, [identification] is predicative in sense and so cannot be used as evidence either way to show whether the god in New Testament usage ever appears as subject of a statement referring to Christ.” (Karl Rahner, S.J., Theological Investigations, Vol. i, p. 136.)

“The adoring exclamation of St. Thomas “my Lord and my God”: (John xx.28) is still not quite the same as an address to Christ as being without qualification God.” (John Martin Creed, The Divinity of Jesus Christ, p. 123.)

I think you get the point. But this does not matter to you does it?

You said:
“In fact, Joseph was equal to Pharaoh: "Then Judah went up to him and said: "Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself." (Genesis 44:18)"

Judah realized that Joseph “was like Pharoah” or “it was in the same way” with Pharaoh that he is also powerful and has authority. Nothing is said that they have the same identical authority???

The word “equal” is not in the HEBREW. You are grasping at straws. Back peddle to Genesis 41:44. What did Pharaoh himself say? “I am Pharaoh, but without your authorization no man may lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph had this authorization, yes. But he was GIVEN this power. He did not have EQUAL power because Pharaoh ultimately has last say because he was on the throne as Chief ruler and could say he was “greater than you.” (Genesis 41:40)

-continued

nick said...

-continued

You said: “Not a ranking in power or in equality or in importance, but rather a voluntary submission. The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father.”

We just saw that the Son was given power from his Father, this suggests that at one time he did not have it. Nothing is said in Scripture that the Son has equal power or authority to the Father. God’s holy spirit is inevitably going to enter into this discussion, in the mean time can you tell me who glorifies or worships the holy spirit, “the third person of the Trinity?”

You went on to say: “Yes, Jesus, on several occasions, referred to Himself as the Name that God revealed Himself to Moses as: "I Am." The same name that YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah revealed Himself as.”

Can you verify something for me? Is “I Am,” a title for Jesus or a name? I know you've been telling me that Jesus is the same individual as the God of Israel? How is this true in view of Acts 3:12,13? You have to work hard to qualify who is who? It is simply, naturally, and plainly explained if I do.

In Hebrews 3:1-6, Who is "the One" whose house both Mose and Jesus served as attendant in? If you were to read this text before anyone telling you how you are suppose to understand this, what would you have come up with?

I wrote:
“So if Jesus is Jehovah but he is not the Father but Jehovah is the Father, well, it becomes clear to any thinking person that this is circular reasoning.”

Then you said: “Not if Jehovah (YHWH/Yahweh) is a Triune Being consisting of three distinct but co-equal Persons.”

Where are you getting this definition of God? Is the word “three” ever used to describe God? Are you sure you are not borrowing this idea from post-biblical creeds formulated after the Bible canon was closed?

You are 100% correct when you told me, “I agree. The Father is the only true God.”

Then you depart from the truth when you say, “BUT.” “but the Son is also the only true God. And the Holy Spirit is also the only true God. There is only one true God. But He is a Being whose composition is made up of three Persons.”

ONLY the Father is ever described as the ONLY true God. Not the holy spirit, not the Son, not the Trinity, ONLY the Father is the ONLY true God. (John 17:3) If I am wrong just show me where it does here:____________________________.

You can think something, you can even wish it, but the Bible never states what you are telling me it does.

Something else you made known to me: “He would be far beyond our ability to define Him, such that we will never be able to fully comprehend Him?”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Again, I am not trying to comprehend the indescribable, incomprehensible ways of God that are beyond the grasp of human understanding. This is not what we are discussing. I am trying to help you recognize that we do not have to speculate or bring in philosophy when it comes to WHO God is, his straight-forward identity. This is all we need to accept.

There is no need to super-impose non-biblical concepts and hold them in front of Scripture to try to explain the very explainable clear description of who God is and his relationship with His Son and what God’s holy spirit accomplishes.

When one honestly examines the doctrine of the Trinity it emerges to be a teaching of inference, a theological formulation based on a certain interpretation of Scripture and the result of a certain attempt to synthesize Scriptural information perceived in a certain way. By no means is it a direct Scriptural teaching or explanation.

It is a humanly contrived teaching that is not expressly set forth in Scripture rather than a divine one. It is not as “biblical” as you think. “The Church,” may say one thing but the Bible never speaks of three subjects as ultimately and collectively constituting the one God of Christianity.

Sounding confused, you said:
“I still don't understand how you can call angels and others "gods," when the only "gods" I see in the Bible (besides the one true God, YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah), are false gods.”

I’m not calling angels “gods” in a lower sense, the Scriptures do. Please don’t act like I am saying something as though it originates with me. What does Psalms 8:5 tell us angels can be called? Didn’t Jesus himself refer to men as powerful ones because they were placed in that position by Jehovah? They could be called, “gods,” in a lower yet legitimate sense as Jesus recognized and pointed to. (Psalms 82:1, 6; John 10:34) Many Trinitarians as I demonstrated earlier understand this to be the case.

And yes, there are false gods, but others can be called, “gods” which means “strong ones or powerful ones,” in a proper sense. What it comes down to I think you have a very western way of understanding how the term “god” is used and that is what causes you to reject what the biblical language explicitly says.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

I said this: “Jesus told Satan that he worshipped Jehovah.”

Then you said: “This is completely incorrect. Jesus never told Satan that He Himself worshiped Jehovah.”

This is just desperate Jeff. Jesus would never tell us to do something he wouldn’t and doesn’t do. As Christians we walk in his footsteps. Why was he in the wilderness in the first place? He was fervently praying to His God and Father. Prayer is a part of our worship. Jesus worshipped His God and Father and taught us to do the same.

You need to come to grips with this, that there was Someone who was God to Him at all stages of his life, on earth and in heaven and he did worship this One like we should, "with praise and song," like everyone else. (Hebrews 2:12)
You can look the other way but it is a Scriptural fact.

You re-quoted me but misunderstood me: "And it meant "Son" in a literal way, as with a natural father and son, not as some mysterious part of a Trinity."

Jehovah’s Witness do not believe as the Muslim misconception that by calling Jesus the Son of God that this would imply that God had to have sexual relations with someone the same way humans do.

Latter-day saints, or Mormons, believe Jesus was not begotten by holy spirit. He was begotten in the flesh by Adam’s having intercourse with Mary.(Journal of Discourses, Volume I, pages 50-1)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

That is just crazy talk. However, Jesus was literally brought into existence, he is literally the only-begotton Son of Jehovah and was literally his firstborn Son and was literally brought into a relationship with the Father because it please Him.

I used the expression, “as with,” to show just as no one would ever confuse “a natural father and son,” relationship as being undefinable or mysterious or even one being, we could also understand in human terms the SPIRITUAL relationship that exists between “THE Father and Son,” purposeful, scriptural terms that are used so that we naturally understand it.

Jesus and Jehovah did not call themselves brothers or cousins as though they were on equal par as you are trying to convince me.
One came before the other, just as or “as with” a Father who precedes his Son.

I realize you think things are different within the Trinity God but I think the Bible evidence outstanding tells us there is a difference in person and being. Trinitarians cleverly have it set up that no matter what Jesus said, it doesn’t matter, he didn’t really mean it, that was a part of him that was human saying it not his God nature.

You insinuate I am being duped but let’s continue our on-going investigation and see. Before we get on other topics you bring up, let’s finish up this discussion first. We will get there.

Respectfully,

Nick

"...have faith in God. Have faith also in me." (John 14;1)

nick said...

-continuing

That is just crazy talk. However, was literally brought into existence, he is literally the only-begotton Son of Jehovah and was literally his firstborn Son. I used the expression, “as with,” to show just as no one would confuse “a natural father and son,” as being one mysterious being, to understand in human terms the SPIRITUAL relationship that exists between “THE Father and Son,” terms are used so that we naturally understand it.

They did not call themselves brothers or cousins as though they were on equal par as you are trying to convince me. One came before the other, just as or “as with” does a Father who precedes his Son. I realize you think things are different within the Trinity God but I think the Bible evidence outstanding tells us there is a difference in person and being.

Trinitarians cleverly have it set up that no matter what Jesus said, it doesn’t matter, he didn’t really mean it, that was a part of him that was human saying it not his God nature. You insinuate I am being duped but let’s continue our on-going investigation and see. Before we get on other topics you bring up, let’s finish up this discussion first. We will get there.

Respectfully,

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

You haven’t read it so you are speaking without knowledge.

I was not speaking without knowledge, as you falsely claim. I questioned his saying that we cannot know what the verse means, and then I asked you if that made sense. I was not giving my opinion on something I have not read. I was questioning a conclusion concerning something I have read many times (the Scripture verse). Regarding the rest of it, I was presenting a review of someone who has read the book.

And trust me, I am not blindly following the teachings of WT or JW theology as you are saying.

I never said you were blindly following them. I asked you whether you were not also bound by the authority of the Watchtower, regarding Bible interpretation, because they said that only they can interpret the Bible. But maybe you are actually answering my question? Are you saying that your answer is 'no,' that you are not bound by their authority on Scripture? I'm just trying to get clarification here.

As I told you before I have weighed both sides and heard out both camps very carefully and have come to a well-researched conclusion.

Again, can you please clarify this for me? To reiterate my question I asked before, are you saying that you disagree with the Watchtower, as far as them being the only ones who can properly and correctly interpret the Bible? Are you saying that they are not the only authority on Bible interpretation?

Jeff said...

Can you verify something for me? Is “I Am,” a title for Jesus or a name?

The Jews, who were there at the time with Jesus, and were extremely familiar with the Old Testament, knew exactly what Jesus meant. So I'll let them answer for me. They understood exactly what Jesus was saying, and they tried to kill Him for it, because they knew that He was saying that He was Jehovah God.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple." (John 8:56-59)

Jeff said...

Nothing is said in Scripture that the Son has equal power or authority to the Father.

The Jews knew that only Jehovah God has the power and authority to forgive sins. The angels do not have this power or authority. No one except Jehovah has this power and authority. Yet Jesus said that He has that power and authority.

Example:

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." (Matthew 9:1-8)

Jeff said...

If you were to read this text before anyone telling you how you are suppose to understand this, what would you have come up with?

I started reading the KJV Bible when I was in Elementary school, on my own, at home. Not because anyone told me to, but just because I wanted to. By the time I graduated from High School, I had read the entire Bible, from cover to cover, several times (maybe 5 or 6 times), in several different versions/translations. Although my family (except my dad) did go to church, I did not become a born-again Christian until I was 19 years old. Therefore, I very likely did read Hebrews 3:1-6 before anyone explained it to me. As far as I can remember, when I first read that verse, I believed that Jesus was and is God Almighty.

As Moses led his people out of slavery, so Jesus led all nations (limited to the Elect, or those who have or will follow Him) out of the slavery and bondage of sin.

Moses was a part of the body of believers, the house of God. But Jesus is the builder of that house. Jesus is the cornerstone and the head of the body of Christ, which is the house of God, made of living temples (believers). Note that I'm speaking in analogies here.

In verse 4, it says that God is the builder of everything. Jesus is here equated with Jehovah God, making it beyond question that Jesus is greater than Moses.

Moses was a servant, whereas Jesus is a son; Moses was in God's house and a part of it, but Jesus is over God's house, which is made up of God's people, or God's children.

Jeff said...

Is the word “three” ever used to describe God?

Is the word "omniscient" ever used to describe God, in the Bible? Are the words "omnipresent" or "omnipotent" ever used to describe God in the Bible? No. Nevertheless, He is all of these.

Are you sure you are not borrowing this idea from post-biblical creeds formulated after the Bible canon was closed?

Yes. I do not base my faith on creeds.

Jeff said...

In the Great Commission, Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19)

Notice in this verse that "name" is singular, even though it refers to three distinct Persons.

Jeff said...

Jesus would never tell us to do something he wouldn’t and doesn’t do.

Would Jehovah tell us to do something He doesn't do? Yes. He tells us to worship Him. But He doesn't worship Himself.

He was fervently praying to His God and Father.

Yes. While Jesus was on this earth, He came mainly to die for our sins, but also to be an example to us. For the first time in history, people were seeing God in the flesh, and Jesus was the perfect example to follow. In addition, He perfectly fulfilled the roles of prophet, priest and king. He was and is our High Priest. He was the final, perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin (sacrificial Lamb). He fulfilled the prophecies concerning the suffering Messiah (though He has not yet fulfilled the prophecies of the conquering and ruling Messiah). He showed us how we should live. So, not only did Jehovah perform the greatest act of love in history, by dying for His creation in order to save them (a remnant), but He also cleared up many misunderstandings about what it meant to obey the Ten Commandments, and He also showed us an example of how to pray, and He also showed us, by example, what it meant to be obedient to Him.

Let's say a person commits a terrible crime, and the Judge establishes a fine of several thousands of dollars, and the person has no money. Therefore, by law, the Judge would throw that person into prison. But let's say that this same Judge takes such compassion on the criminal, that he says that he himself, the Judge, will pay the fine so that the criminal can go free. This is what God Almighty did for us. He stepped down from His throne and came down to earth as a man, humbling Himself and being born as a human, yet still retaining His divinity, and suffering and dying on the cross for us, so that we could escape eternal damnation in Hell. God knew that we could never attain Heaven by our own works, because even our best 'good works' are tainted, and all of us have sinned. God punishes all sin, and He will not allow sin into Heaven. So, to get into Heaven, we must be as perfect and holy as God is, and we cannot do that on our own.

Jeff said...

Here's another analogy which I heard years ago:

There was a man who lived in a house, and it was starting to snow really hard outside, and was getting really cold. He saw a mother duck in his yard, with her baby chicks. He knew that they would not survive the snowstorm that he heard was coming, so he went out and opened the barn door, hoping that they would go into the warm barn. They did not go. So he went and tried to shoo them into the barn. Instead of going into the barn, they scattered everywhere. No matter what he did, he could not get them to go into that warm barn where they would be safe. If they stayed out in the snow, he knew that they would die. He thought to himself, "If only I could become a duck. Then I could explain it to them, and get them to go into the barn, and escape certain death." This is what God Almighty has done for us. He came down as a human being for our sake, to suffer and die in our place, so that we could live with Him forever.

Jeff said...

You still have not given me any examples of where Jesus worshiped God.

Jeff said...

Nick,

Why did God tell the angels to worship Jesus? Aren't the angels only supposed to worship Jehovah?

Example:

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." (Hebrews 1:1-6)

Jeff said...

Nick,

Why did Jesus' disciples worship Him, and why did He accept their worship? Aren't we only supposed to worship Jehovah?

Example:

"Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:33)

Jeff said...

Nick,

Again, why did God tell the angels to worship Jesus, and why did Jesus' own disciples worship Him, and why did He accept their worship, when God explicitly said not to worship any other gods?

Example:

"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)

Jeff said...

Nick,

What does the following verse mean? Who is "the Deity"? And what does "all the fullness" mean?

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." (Colossians 2:9)

nick said...

Hi there Jeff,

Man, when it rains it pours. Thanks for expressing your comments. Referring to Rolf Furli’s book on Bible translation you said, “Regarding the rest of it, I was presenting a review of someone who has read the book.”

I wonder why you are not critical of all the other Trinitarian writers I have submitted.
If you find an article on them please share it with me.

To let you know I am not bound by anything that is not backed up by God’s Word. If the Watchtower said one thing and the Bible said another I would always go with the Bible. If you ask a Mormon if the Bible said one thing and the President of the Mormon faith said another they would go with what the President says. I know because I have asked them on several occasions.

I am not dedicated to a cause, a work or an organization but like Christ am dedicated to my heavenly Father Jehovah. But of course I believe the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses resemble the first-century Christians more closely than any other nominal Christians out there. We can test this out at some point in the future just be patient.

And no, I do not think Jehovah’s Witness teachings are infallible. God’s Word does not change but our understanding of it can. It goes without saying that I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses really do worship God with “spirit and truth,” and these are the ones God is looking for. And I do believe the head of the congregation, Christ, has definitely appointed or assigned ALL his belongings to "a faithful and discreet slave" who would be spiritually feeding his sheep and keeping them spiritually alert in these last days. (Matthew 25:45-47)

Looking at this statement that you made: “The Jews, who were there at the time with Jesus, and were extremely familiar with the Old Testament, knew exactly what Jesus meant. So I'll let them answer for me. They understood exactly what Jesus was saying, and they tried to kill Him for it, because they knew that He was saying that He was Jehovah God.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple." (John 8:56-59)”

What really did Jesus mean? First of all, I can’t believe you didn’t capitalize “I AM.”
Let’s see how what Jesus said would make any sense if we substituted the name Jehovah God where “I am,” appears. Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, Jehovah God.” What on earth would that mean? Could they be another way of looking at what Jesus said.

How was the same exact word “ego eimi,” to be understood when a cured blind said them just a few verses later in John 9:9? Let’s start there. And how can John 8:58 legitimately be understood and translated? You might want to check out the NASB (1971 edition) footnote.

Your commentary on Hebrews 3:1-5 was very interesting indeed. Hebrews 3:4 simply tells us that God is the creator and constructed every house. Jesus Christ is the attendant of that house. Comparing Moses to Jesus did not make me think either of them were God. You are reading between the Scriptures.

Then you leave something out by saying, “Moses was a servant, whereas Jesus is a son; Moses was in God's house and a part of it, but Jesus is over God's house, which is made up of God's people, or God's children.”

The Son is also God’s servant. (Acts 3:13) God serves no one.

When I asked you this, “Is the word “three” ever used to describe God?”

You told me, “Is the word "omniscient" ever used to describe God, in the Bible? Are the words "omnipresent" or "omnipotent" ever used to describe God in the Bible? No. Nevertheless, He is all of these.”

-continued

nick said...

-continued

I don’t need to use those words to accurately understand that God knows everything or that he all powerful. I can simply use the language of the Bible and readily understand what God found fit to express. Trinitarians MUST use words like “God the Son,” “essence,” “con-substantial” “second person of the Trinity” “three in one,” to describe something never articulated in the Bible.

After I said, “Jesus would never tell us to do something he wouldn’t and doesn’t do,”

You asked, “Would Jehovah tell us to do something He doesn't do? Yes. He tells us to worship Him. But He doesn't worship Himself.”

You completely dodge the point. Jesus does worship his God and Father Jehovah. At some point you are going to have to come to terms with this. We can be Christ-like, not Jehovah-like. We can have the mind of Christ but not the mind of Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

They you say something that is a half-truth, “For the first time in history, people were seeing God in the flesh, and Jesus was the perfect example to follow.”

Absolutely Jesus set the perfect example for us BUT he was not God in the flesh. The Bible does not tell us that God came in the flesh. God sent, not himself, but His Son. (John 3:16) At 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 we learn from the Greek that Jesus was not just a "ransom" (lutron) but a "corresponding ransom" (antilutron) therefore a perfect man like Adam. Had Jesus been a God-man; he would not have corresponded to Adam.

I am kind of surprised you ask me this question, “Why did God tell the angels to worship Jesus? Aren't the angels only supposed to worship Jehovah?”

Have you not studied the Bible long enough to realize how the Greek word “proskuneo,” is used throughout Scripture? Jesus can rightfully received “proskuneo,” because he should be honored and given reverence and to which every knee should respectfully bend. If we were living in the time of king David or Solomon would we do the same to them? We could because they are God’s designated King and represent God. If you haven’t yet, I believe a deeper study of “proskuneo” might be helpful. Maybe a couple of these lexicons will get you thinking.

Trinitarian W. E. Vine writes in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 1247:

"PROSKUNEO ... to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards, and kuneo, to kiss), is the most frequent word rendered 'to worship'. It is used for an act of homage or reverence (a) to God ...; (b) to Christ ...; (c) to a man, Matt. 18:26." "Obeisance," of course, shows "respect, submission, or reverence" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1961.)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Noted Bible scholar J. H. Thayer defines proskuneo:

"prop. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence ... hence in the N. T. by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication. It is used a. of homage shown to men of superior rank [position] ... Rev. 3:9 .... b. of homage rendered to God and the ascended Christ, to heavenly beings [angels]" (p. 548, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House Publisher., 1977)

Concluding you asked me, “What does "all the fullness" mean?"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." (Colossians 2:9)”

Here is Colossians 2:9 in the New American Standard Bible:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”

Since "all the fullness of God," dwells in Christ many Bible students, like yourself, have come to the conclusion that this must only mean that Christ is God. This still perplexes me because technically Christ Jesus is not God, but "the second person of the Triune God." There is another way to understand this passage by looking at one quite similar.

Notice Ephesians 3:19 in the King James Version:
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

We can plainly see that Christ as well as Christians can be filled with the fullness of God. This would not make Christians themselves God since they experience such fullness. Will come back and talk about what "being filled with the fullness of God," must mean.

There is one fact, though, that should not escape our notice. A passage just a few verses before Colossians 2:9.

It is found in Colossians 1:19 in the New International Version:
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,”

What does it mean by saying, "For God was pleased," or as another translation puts it, "the Father's good pleasure for" this to take place?

Thayer expounds on this, with the following:
"as in secular authors, followed by an infinitive, it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure; to think it good, choose, determine, decide: Luke 12:32; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 1:15; once followed by the accusative with an infinitive, Col. 1:19 (cf. Lightfoot; Winer's Grammar, sec. 64, 3 b.; Buttmann, sec. 129, 16); with the included idea of kindness accompanying the decision"

It was the Father, the God of Jesus, who chose for the fullness to dwell in him, but further with the idea of kindness accompanying his choice to do this. What this means is that Christ's indwelling of these divine attributes and qualities was not due to Christ having an eternal nature of such, but it was something that the Father chose to have dwell in him.

Does this then mean that Christ had two natures? No, but that God placed within his being these divine attributes, giving him power and authority, among other things (Matthew 28:18; John 3:35). These qualities dwell within him bodily, both in the body he had prior to his death and after his resurrection.

Colossians 2:9 does make me think that Jesus Christ was himself God Almighty or part of a Trinity.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Tomorrow I will address your question regarding how can Jesus forgive if he is not God. But first, none of what was stated by the NIV footnote for Hebrews 1:2-3 proves that Jesus is God or that he is part of a Tri-plex God.

The book of Hebrews begins by focusing attention on Christ’s superior position. He is now a glorified spirit, “the exact representation of His (God’s) very being.” This does not imply that the Father and the Son are one person or one god, for Hebrews 1:3 adds something not always fully brought out.

The (b) part, the rest of that verse states that Jesus has “sat down on the right hand of the “Majesty of God in lofty places.” (Today’s English Version) Hebrews 8:1 definitely differentiates “the Majesty of the heavens,” from Jesus Christ.

Anyway, right now let’s take a look at the text supplied in full context. In the opening verse the author announces that “God” has spoken in various ways in the past through “the prophets,” but, at the end of these days, has spoken to us through “a Son.”

That is, the introductory verse itself, which sets the tone for everything that follows, plainly presents “God” and the “Son” as two distinct figures, just as “God” is a distinct figure from “the prophets” through whom He spoke in the past.

Since “the prophets” were not “God” but the ones “through” (literally ‘in’) whom “God” once spoke, there is no reason at all to think that the “Son” is “God” but that he is, as the text states, the one “through/in” whom “God” has spoken in these last days.

There is, in fact, no logical reason why the notion that Jesus is “God” would even come up into the consciousness of any reader at this point, especially those in the first century who had no knowledge of Trinitarian doctrine.

Let’s move on to verse two. Here the “Son” is not identified as the “God” who spoke long ago but as the one whom this “God” has “appointed heir of all things,” in harmony with an ideal “Father-Son” relationship.

Likewise, the “Son” is not presented as the “eternal” possessor of “all things” as “the eternal, second person of the Trinity,” but as God’s “Son” who has been “appointed” by God to be “heir of all things.” In other words, the Son has what he has in this text (‘all things’), not by “nature” or “ontological right,” as some Trinitarians insist, but by “inheritance” as the beloved Son of his Father.

The Son’s role with respect to creation in Hebrews 1:2 is, clearly, an intermediary one. That is, the Son is not depicted as the maker of the “world” but the one ‘through/in’ whom “God” has made all things. In this verse, the “Son” is not “God” himself, since “God” is the one who made the world and the entire system of things “through” him, a very basic, non-controversial point.

Here, in full harmony with the above observations, the Son is described as the “radiance” or “reflection” of another’s glory, namely, that of the “God” of the Hebrew forefathers. Indeed, the “Son” is the “exact representation (GK: charakter)” of this God’s “very being (GK: hupostaseos).”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Three points need to be kept in mind. First, the text does not identify the Son as “God” but presents him as distinct from “God” as God’s perfect representative, the “exact representation of (God’s) very being.”

Secondly, it should really go without saying that, if someone is “the exact representation” “reproduction” of God’s “being,” then that someone is not “God” but “the exact representation or reproduction of God’s being.”

Thirdly, the text says nothing about the Son’s “coequality with God the Father,” nothing about his “essential deity,” and nothing about him as being of the same substance or being as God himself.

Considering what was actually written in Hebrews, it is difficult to understand why the notion that the Son is “God,” or that he is “of the same substance/being” as the Father, even comes up, since Hebrews 1:3 explicitly tells us that the Son is the “exact representation” of “God’s being,” not that he is (or that he is of) the same ‘being’ as Him.

The “consubstantial/of the same being” concept can only enter the picture, of course, when one imports it from a source outside the text itself, particularly the doctrinal formula of Nicea (325CE).

To put it another way, according to the clear language of the text, the Son is an exact “representation” or “reproduction” of someone else’s being, namely, God’s being; yet, in Trinitarianism, God’s ‘being’ and the Son’s “being” are the same “being” (one “being” shared by multiple “persons”).

But the first-century text itself completely rules out the need to even bring up a fourth-century concept like “of the same being,” since it already tells us that the Son is a “copy” or “representation” of God’s being, not an “eternal partaker” in it (in line with Trinitarian thought).

If the reference to the “all things” the Son sustains by his “powerful word” is to be understood as “the universe” (ESV) or “all created things,” the Son clearly sustains these by his powerful word, not as “God” (Hebrews 1:1), but as God’s “Son” who has inherited “all things” by God’s appointment (Hebrews 1:3).

So we must acknowledge that the Son is not identified as the “Majesty in heaven” himself, namely, as “God” (Hebrews 1:1), but as one who has “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven,” an honor that has been conferred upon the Son by God, according to the Scriptures. That is to say, the Son enjoys the position he has at the “right hand of the majesty on high” (“the right hand of God,” Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34) because God has “highly exalted him,” due to his obedient life and sacrificial death (Philippians 2:5-11).

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Hebrews 1:3 does not identify the Son as Jehovah (‘the God’ of the ‘fathers’), nor does it say or somehow imply that the Son is an “eternal” member of a 3-plex God.

The text does clearly indicate that the Son “radiates” or “reflects” the glory of Jehovah (the “God” who “spoke through the prophets,” including the prophet Isaiah), something that is completely appropriate for God’s Son to do as “the exact representation of (God’s) very being.” By speaking for God and by performing God’s will perfectly (“obedience” to God “to the point of death” Philippians 2:8), the Son not only perfectly “represents” God but “radiates” and “reflects” the glory of God like no other.

Yet it should be carefully noted that Jehovah God, the Most High and Majesty of the heavens, is not in any way a “copy” or “representation” of anyone else’s being, nor could he be properly describes as such. There is, however, one who is fittingly described as a copy of his being, His unique and dearly beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews believed that the Son is a “copy” of God’s being. He does not say that God’s being and Christ’s being were the “same being.”

The concept advanced by Hebrews 1:3 is not a reflection of the traditional Trinitarian concept simply because “exact representation/perfect copy of God’s being,” (what the Bible says) is not the same as “the same being,” or “sharing the same being,” (the classical Trinitarian formula).

The fact is that orthodox Protestant and Catholic theology does not teach that Jesus Christ is “the exact reproduction,” of God’s being; but rather that Jesus Christ is one “person,” out of three who shares in the one being that is God in the ultimate sense.


-continued

nick said...

-continuing

I believe the Trinitarian understanding of this passage is yet another humanly devised theological production, standing out in verifiable contrast to the Divinely-inspired testimony of the sacred Scriptures.

So to wrap it up, we can see that this text and preceding verses, Jesus is not identified as “God,” but he is said to be the one “through” whom “God” has spoken and the one “through” whom he made all things, including this world.

I am amazed that advocates of the Trinitarian dogma, particularly those who profess to adhere to the Bible alone, maintain that Jesus is the same being as God the Father when Hebrews 1:3 communicates something different. And when there is no example in the Bible that says Jesus is the same being as his Father.

Why would the theological notion, as well as language necessary to the formulation, that the Son mysteriously “shares the being” of God the Father take precedence over the directly articulated scriptural teaching and very specific language that the Son is the “exact representation of God’s being?”

The Son is not the “original One,” His God and Father Jehovah is. Jesus is like his Father in everyway, especially after receiving a superior, glorious exalted position in heaven next to His Father above all the angels.

As the moon reflects the glory of the sun, so the Son reflects and radiates the glory of His God and Father. Christ certainly is a “spitting-image” of His Father, but in no way is “the same individual.”

With deep respect always,

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

Absolutely Jesus set the perfect example for us BUT he was not God in the flesh.

Let's look at a few verses here, and consider some of the things they say about Jesus.

1 John 1:1-2 says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us."

God the Son, Jesus Christ, has always existed ("was from the beginning"). 1 John 2:13a says, "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning." The apostle John testifies that the One who has existed from eternity "became flesh." John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." Jesus was true God and true man. Christ Jesus is called "the life" because He is the living One Who has life in Himself. John 11:25 says, "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." And John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is also the source of life and sovereign over life. 1 John 5:11 says, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."

Jesus is the true God. The end of 1 John 5:20 says, "He is the true God and eternal life."

Jeff said...

Have you not studied the Bible long enough to realize how the Greek word “proskuneo,” is used throughout Scripture?

In the KJV, English words for worship are used 76 times in the New Testament. The Greek word "proskuneo" is used all but 16 times.

The four heavenly creatures "proskuneo" God in Revelation 19:4.

Satan asked Jesus to "proskuneo" him in Matthew 4:9. Jesus answered to "proskuneo" only God in Matthew 4:10.

The angel in Revelation 19:10 said to worship only God.

All people who "proskuneo" the beast in Revelation 14:9 will suffer for that.

When Jesus quoted the old Testament in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, He used the word "proskuneo".

The angels "proskuneo" Jesus in Hebrews 1:6.

Many people "proskuneo" Jesus, including the disciples before Christ's resurrection (Matthew 14:33), the wise men (Matthew 2:2), a leper (Matthew 8:2), a ruler (Matthew 9:18), the disciples after Christ's resurrection (Matthew 28:9,17; Luke 24:52) the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), and the Roman soldiers in mockery (Mark 15:19).

However, the word "proskuneo" is also used for those of the synagogue of Satan falling at the feet of people of the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:9. It can be argued that "proskuneo" might mean simply falling on their knees before someone in Matthew 15:25; 18:26; and 20:20.

Though "proskuneo" can sometimes just mean kneeling, it is the dominant word for worship. Even in the New World Translation, "proskuneo" in Hebrews 1:6 is translated as worship. This was true in the 1953, 1960, 1961, and 1970 versions of the New World Translation. The Watchtower changed this to "do obesiance," starting with the 1971 revision.

If you think the way Christians "proskuneo" Jesus is improper, how do *you* "proskuneo" Jesus?

The followers of Jesus honor him in the following ways:
-By worshiping Jesus, as angels do in Revelation and Hebrews 1:6.
-By praying to Jesus, as Stephen did in Acts 7:59.
-By calling Jesus 'God' as it says in Hebrews 1:8,9.
-By calling Jesus "my God" as Thomas did in John 20:28.
-By believing and obeying what He taught, as well as what His apostles taught about God and about Him.

In Rev 5:8-13:
-They fell down before the Lamb. (5:8)
-They were doing this act with the prayers of the saints. (5:8)
-They praised the Lamb as worthy. (5:9)
-Then the angels praised the Lamb as worthy. (5:12)
-The angels sang that the Lamb was worthy to receive many things, including honor and glory and praise. (5:12)
-Then every living creature said to both the Father and the Lamb "be praise and honor and glory and power." (5:13 NIV).
-The four living creatures said "Amen" to all that.
-When the elders fell down and worshiped in 5:14, they were apparently worshiping the ones they were praising in 5:8-12).

In John 20:28, notice that the verse is not "Thomas said, My Lord and my God!", but "Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God!" Notice that the verse does not say "Oh Lord", like Thomas was looking up to Heaven and saying this. Rather, Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God!" Furthermore, Jesus neither rebuked nor corrected Thomas for saying this.

Jeff said...

Hey Nick,

So do you believe it is right and good to not only honor Jesus, but to worship Him?

You said that Jesus said that we should worship Jehovah. And indeed, in Luke 4:8, it says, "Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"

So therefore, if Jesus was not including Himself as the one and only Almighty God in that statement, but rather was saying, 'Don't worship me; worship only Jehovah,' then why did Jesus receive worship? For example:

"Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him." (Matthew 28:9)

"so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." (John 5:23)

"And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM." (Hebrews 1:6)

"When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen " And the elders fell down and worshiped." (Revelation 5:8-14)

Jeff said...

Hi again Nick,

Before I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and my Savior, asking Him to wash away all my sins and make them white as snow, and thereby receiving eternal life, I used to take Judo. In that class, we would not only bow to each other and the Sensei, but we would also kowtow to a framed picture of the founder (Jigoro Kano) on the wall. Way back then, getting on my knees and touching my forehead to the ground to honor the founder did not bother me. I knew that this was an Eastern tradition.

However, after I got saved/born again/regenerated/redeemed, I went to an Aikido class. In that class, we had to do the same thing, which was get on our knees and touch our forehead to the floor, to a picture of the founder. And I think (if I remember correctly) we even had to do that to the instructor. Now, I understood that bowing from the waist in the East is similar to shaking hands, and that kowtowing is showing deep respect and reverence, to someone who is higher in rank than you, or to someone who is a ruler over you, etc. Still, the Holy Spirit convicted me, as I thought of Daniel 3, where Daniel's three friends refused to bow down to the image of gold made by King Nebuchadnezzar. (The second part of verse 18 says, "...we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.") Because of this, even though I really loved the Aikido class (it was possibly the most fun martial arts class I have ever taken), I quit the class, for the specific reason that I refused to kowtow to a human being or to a picture of a deceased human being. Now, the point of me telling you this is not to argue whether or not kowtowing is worshiping or not, because that was merely a personal conviction---something that bothered my own conscience, and the Bible says that if something bothers your conscience, then for you it is sin (i.e., when Paul talked about eating meat offered to idols). My point is that I see a big difference between merely showing respect to someone, and worshiping them. If I was in Japan, for example, I would not see a problem with bowing to someone by bending at the waist. However, I personally feel that it would be completely wrong for me to stand in front of you and then kneel down, touching my forehead to the ground, and say that I worship you. Showing respect to others is to be commended. But worshiping another human is wrong. Worshiping an idol is sin. Even the angels refused worship, in the Bible. So, if we are not to worship false idols or false gods, and if we are not to worship other humans, and if we are not to worship even angels, and if Jehovah says to worship only Him, then how is it that we are to worship Jesus?

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

You told me that, "No one except Jehovah has this power and authority. Yet Jesus said that He has that power and authority."

Do you not believe God has the power to delegate?

Let’s confirm that with scriptures:
Matthew 11:27- All things are delivered unto me of my Father…

Luke 10:22- All things are delivered to me of my Father…

John 3:35- The Father loveth the son, and hath GIVEN all things into his hand.

John 13:3- Jesus knowing that the Father had GIVEN all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;...

John 17:7- Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me ARE OF THEE.

Matthew 28:18- ALL POWER IS GIVEN unto me in heaven and in earth.

John 17:1-2- These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy son also may glorify thee: as thou hast GIVEN HIM POWER over all flesh,...

Matt 9:8- But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God (the Father), which had GIVEN SUCH POWER unto men (Jesus).

Note: The Supreme God Jehovah does not need to be given anything.
Jehovah God has also given Jesus another serious responsibility.

“For the Father has affection for the Son and . . . he has committed all the judging to the Son.” (John 5:20, 22)

It appears Christ has also delegated special powers to his Apostles.

Jesus said this is indeed the case as recorded at John 20:23. It is not in conflict with the rest of the Scriptures, but it indicates that the apostles had a special authorization regarding forgiveness, in line with their special role in the infancy of the Christian congregation.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

The NIV says at John 20:22, 23 says “..Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean they were God, or they themselves were forgiving them on their own merit.

But by acting in accord with the principles in God’s Word they could conclude that certain sins were forgiven by God in heaven.

Especially was this needed since they could not make a person clean or heal them of a sickness unless they were forgiven.

While Jesus was on earth, by healing a paralytic, demonstrated that he had authority to forgive sins.

But remember he said that "In order for you to know that the Son of man has authority…"

He did not say "in order for you to know that I am God."

The Pharisees accused him of blasphemy. Actually, this was the only way they could legally have him killed. They were looking for something to pin him on.

Remember though, since Jesus was GIVEN the right to judge, which would include the power to forgive, this indicates a transfer of power which the Son did not previously have. Others will Judge with him, the holy ones.

Remember too the Pharisees would still not believe or accept that for sure. When Jesus forgave a man of his sins, honest-hearted people understood that this was a transfer of power.

"When the people saw it, they were afraid, and praised God for giving such authority to people." Matt 9:8 TEV

The fact is, the Pharisees were not always accurate in their portrayal of him, as it shows in Matthew 12:24, John 7:20; 8:48; 10:20.

So to sum it up, anytime there was a curing or a healing, some sort of forgiveness takes place.
Many are under the assumption that God does not or either cannot delegate authority. It appears that the Apostles were passed on this authority to pronounce forgive of sins had taken place. Especially in working in harmony with God’s holy spirit when performing healing. (John 20:22, 23). It certainly did not make them God in anyway.

Respectfully,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

You shared this with me, “In the Great Commission, Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19)”

Then you pointed this out:

”Notice in this verse that "name" is singular, even though it refers to three distinct Persons.”

Grammatically, the term “name” can be applied to each person so as to read “in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the holy spirit.”

The fact that the word “name” is singular is really irrelevant. This can be seen by citing examples like Genesis 48:16 which reads, “in the NAME of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.” (King James Version)

I have recently discussed this with a Catholic apologist and all the Catholic Bible translations we have been using in our dialogue says “names” but “name” is the true translation.

When I asked one of my Christian brothers who used to be Trinitarian and has taught Hebrew on a college level about this passage he wrote me:

"Yes, the word for "Name" is singular in the Hebrew text at Gen 48:16, that is, it is "shem" (pronounced like "shame" which rhymes with "name") not "names" as is found at Ex 1:1 (She-MOTH'/ plural) Gen 48:16 uses "name" in the distributive sense, meaning NAME of Abraham, NAME of Isaac and NAME of Jacob. You have the same phenomenon at Matt 28:19 with the singular Greek word O-no-mah. It must be distributive there like it is at Gen 48:16 since we are given 3 distinct names to those men and we are given distinct names for the Father and the Son. --Rev 14:1 and Prov 30::4. Anyone ignoring this is ignoring the very Word of God.” (unquote)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Incidentally, “In the name of” can mean “in recognition of,” “in the authority of.” In recognition of the Father, in recognition of the Son and in recognition of the holy spirit.

Perhaps these 2 references will help:

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament says: “The use of name (onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.” So baptism ‘in the name of the holy spirit’ recognizes the authority of the spirit, that it is from God and functions by divine will.”

“[Matt. 28:19] proves only that there are the three subjects named,…but it does not prove, by itself, that all the three belong necessarily to the divine nature, and possess equal divine honor…This text, taken by itself, would not prove decisively either the personality of the three subjects mentioned, or their equality or divinity” (McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, 1987, Vol. X, p. 552).

The expression “in the name of” really means “by the authority of” or “recognizing the position of.”

Being baptized “in the name of the Father,” means accepting without question the sovereignty of God in our lives.

Baptism “in the name of the Son,” means accepting Jesus as Redeemer, Exemplar, and King. And baptism “in the name of the holy spirit,” involves relying on the spirit and submitting to its power.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Could you do me a favor? Could we concentrate on “proskuneo” before tackling a barrage of other texts that need our attention?

You nicely outlined your arguments and I really want to see if we can actually accomplish something instead of playubg “Gotcha!” or “What about this! What about that!”

You correctly stated:

“However, the word "proskuneo" is also used for those of the synagogue of Satan falling at the feet of people of the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:9. It can be argued that "proskuneo" might mean simply falling on their knees before someone in Matthew 15:25; 18:26; and 20:20.”

Since the same exact word “proskuneo” is given Christ in Hebrews 1:6 and other passages, how should “proskuneo” given faithful anointed followers of Christ in the congregation of Philadelphia be understood?

Thanks for this,

Nick

Jeff said...

Since the same exact word “proskuneo” is given Christ in Hebrews 1:6 and other passages, how should “proskuneo” given faithful anointed followers of Christ in the congregation of Philadelphia be understood?

Just in case this is not simply a rhetorical question that you will answer in your next comment, I have already stated that "It can be argued that "proskuneo" might mean simply falling on their knees before someone..." In addition, I talked about kowtowing. It seems that you are asking me to reiterate what I have already said. But maybe by postponing answering my four questions, and instead asking me a new question, you are stalling so that you can have more time to answer my questions?

In fact, the four still-unanswered questions I previously asked you regarding worshiping Jesus, including the question about "proskuneo," all address this same subject of worship, so they are all very appropriate to this conversation, and I hope you will attempt to answer them.

Jeff said...

Nick,

With most of these various words that we have been talking about, regarding their definitions and how they are to be understood in the various Scripture passages, you have generally brought up possible alternate renderings for what they might mean. But are you willing to base your entire hope on a possibility, on what is an alternate rendering?

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

There is no need to impute that I am stalling to give you a response. I have done my research years ago and have heard all of your arguments before believe me.

I will cover every point you want me to in time. I still have several other things I remember I have not YET addresses but I think I have been doing my fair share of answering questions and having purposely avoided anything. If I miss something or am not clear just bring it up, deal?

Since you again acknowledge, the term “proskuneo,” doesn’t have to carry the sense of “absolute religious worship to the supreme God” but “prostrating/bowing in submission and respect” which can appropriately be done toward a king or one with authority without resulting in some kind of idolatrous act against God in the OT or NT.

So when we come across passages like Revelation 3:9 when Jesus says in the NKJV, “ Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you,” we can agree in what sense they receive “worship” or “proskuneo.”

Earlier this year while reading a book from Josh McDowell I came across on page 144 of his book, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” this statement: 2C “Jesus received worship as God and accept it.” 3 Scriptures were cited, Matthew 8:2; John 9:35-39 and Matthew 14:33.

Is this statement and are these scriptures irrefutable proof that Jesus is God since he can rightly received “proskuneo”? What just saw that others can receive it properly and acceptably besides Christ and are not God himself.
I used to correspond with Josh McDowell but told me he was too busy to continue.

His representatives conceded that “proskuneo,” can be received by others with authority but based on their theology believe that the worship Jesus is given is different. So they admit there are different degrees of “proskuneo.”
They would no longer answer my letters so we no longer write. A pastor from Calvary Chapel did not think that “proskuneo,” was not given that often in the NT to others, besides Christ. He did not seem to realize that receiving “proskuneo,” was prevalent in Biblical times.

To say, there are “a few (examples of proskuneo) that he can count on one hand,” of actual documented cases is to play down the significance that humans definitely did receive “proskuneo,” and that it was a very common way of showing respect and homage to someone worthy of it.

In the Hebrew Scriptures of “Old Testament,” the most common word for worship is the Hebrew word “Shahhah” or some related form of that word. Its basic meaning is “bow down,” with the sense of reverence and respect and honor. It occurs 171 times in the Greek Old Testament, (in use in Jesus day) 164 of those instances of this Hebrew word are translated by the LXX (Greek Septuagint) as “Proskuneo.”

It is applied acceptably not only to God, but also to angels and men. “Proskuneo,” in dozens of occurrences were not used exclusively for God but was an ancient custom of reverence to a superior.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

In the Greek Septuagint (LXX) that uses “proskuneo” frequently towards. To mention only a few:

Genesis 33:3: Jacob bowed to his brother Esau

Exodus 18:7: Moses bowed to his father-in-law

Ruth 2:10: Ruth bowed to Boaz

1 Samuel 20:41: David bowed to Jonathan

1 Samuel 24:8: David bowed to King Saul

1 Samuel 25:3: Abigail bowed to David

Daniel 2:46: Nebuchadnezzar bowed to Daniel

You pointedly ask me, “So do you believe it is right and good to not only honor Jesus, but to worship Him”?

Again, I am not arguing that Jesus doesn’t deserve “proskuneo.” He definitely does. And is properly given him because of his authority and being God’s designated King. Whenever “proskuneo” is given this would obviously mean a form of honor and reverence. It does not DEMAND it mean the same type of “proskuneo” that we would give God which we would give in the ultimate, highest sense or degree.

What about the English word “worship,” itself? The word “worship” comes from the Old English “weorthscipe,” which means “worthiness.” We “worship” someone because they are “worthy” of the respect they receive. Jesus is certainly worthy of our honor and reverence.

You repeat something many Jehovah’s Witness critics do that, “The Watchtower changed this to "do obesiance," starting with the 1971 revision.” The Pastor I spoke with shared this with me from a “How to trip a Jehovah’s Witness website,” he shared: “Some further thought. Remember that in 1961 edition of the NWT they had “worship” in Heb 1:6 in reference to Christ. In 1971 edition they changed to “obescience.” This speaks against their organization being a prophet of God.”

Does this somehow cast a bad light on the NWT Bible? The translators decided to use a word that better described to the reader the meaning of the Greek word “proskuneo,” since many have a very “western,” view or understanding of “worship.”

Nothing misleading or underhanded was done. In fact, it was not brought out at all that in the New World Translation reference Bible in the footnote clearly informs the reader, “or let worship.”
The Pastor has to concede that Bible translators make “revisions” all the time. Why? Because of our growing understanding of Biblical languages, lexical knowledge as well as textual criticism.

Bible translators will occasionally make adjustments in descriptions of words to better assist the public to get the sense of a Scriptural text. A friend of mine loves his “New Living Translation,” but it is a revision of “The Living Bible.” The New Living Translation updated and substituted many “words” and “expressions,” because their translators felt was more accurate and acceptable. No one I can see is coming down hard on them.

If a translator decides to use worship, homage, obeisance or something similar to describe what is being given to someone they should not be severely criticized. What we should be careful about is that we do not read too much into translations that choose to translate “Proskuneo,” as "worship" in reference to Jesus as if that then shows that Jesus, the Son, must be God.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

You quoted in big caps this text that triggered this discussion, “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM." (Hebrews 1:6)”

Incidentally, there are many Bible translators, many of which are Trinitarians, that do not translate Hebrews 1:6 as “worship.” The same Greek word used in the Septuagint (LXX) “Proskuneo,” is used in Hebrews 1:6. Perhaps this is one reason many Bibles have it this way:

"Let all the angels of God pay him homage." New Jerusalem Bible

"And may all the angels of God pay homage to him." God's New Covenant”

"Let all God's angels pay him homage." Revised English Bible

"And let them bow before him.”Young's Literal Translation

"And let all the angels of God adore him." Douay

"And let all the angels of Elohim do homage to him." Urim-Thummim Version

"And all the angels of God must now kneel before Him." Power New Testament

"Let all God's angels pay him homage." Schonfield's The Original New Testament

"And let all God's angels bow before him." Goodspeed's An American Translation

"Now let all the messengers of God honour him." The Complete Bible, Ferrar Fenton

"Let all God's angels pay him homage." New English Bible

"And let all the angels of God adore him." Confraternity Version

"Prostrate yourself before him, all you angels." 21st Century New Testament

"Before him shall bow all messengers of God." Unvarnished New Testament

"Let all the angels of God bow down before him." 20th Century New Testament

"And let all God's angels adore him." Kleist & Lilly New Testament

"And let all the messengers of God pay homage to him." Newcome's Corrected Version

We are here just looking at Hebrews 1:6. Howver, EVERY scripture with “proskuneo” in the NT referring to Jesus has been understood to mean something similar, even by Trinitarian Bible translations.

For instance, when some Bible translations make it appear that Jesus was being worshipped on the boat as God, others simply understand this to mean “they threw themselves on the faces before him.” (Matthew 14:33 Twentieth Century New Testament)

Something similar can be seen in comparing Matthew 18:26 in the King James Version which says, “ The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, (proskuneo) saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”

The English Standard Version translators understood it handled it this way: “So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”

In Mark 15:19 the Soldiers who were mocking Jesus at his execution didn’t think he was God but that Jesus was “the King of the Jews.” They gave Christ “proskuneo” as if he was supposedly royalty, “a King,” not “the Supreme One.”

That is why even though the King James Version says, “…and bowing their knees worshipped him,” Other Trinitarian translations render “proskuneo,” in this text, “..and then knelt and paid mock homage to him.” (The New English Bible NT) “…and on bending knees they kept doing Him homage.” (The New Testment: A Translation in the Language of the People/Charles B. Williams)

Of course, they would soon come to acknowledge that "Certainly this was God's Son." (Verse 39)
Yes, there are critics out there who will try to point to Jehovah’s Witnesses as being the ones who are “inconsistent,” or “unscholarly” of how they translated “Proskuneo.”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

But I think Koine Greek Professor Jason Beduhn, who is a neutral, independent source, has something interesting to say that is worthy of our consideration.

He wrote:

"In our exploration of this issue, we can see how theological bias has been the determining context for the choices made by all of the translations except the NAB and NW. There are passages where many translators has interpreted the gesture referred to by the Greek term proskuneo as implying 'worship'. They have then substituted that interpretation in place of translation. ... The translators seem to feel the need to add to the New Testament support for the idea that Jesus was recognized to be God. But the presence of such an idea cannot be supported by selectively translating a word one way when it refers to Jesus and another way when it refers to someone else. ... When we observe how these same translators choose 'worship' when the gesture is made to Jesus by certain persons, and choose other English words to translate the very same Greek term when the gesture is directed to someone other than Jesus ... their inconsistency reveals their bias. (Truth in Translation - Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, page 47)

To what degree you give Jesus “proskuneo,” well, I will leave that up to you. At Revelation 19:10 and Revelation 22:9 the angel whom the glorified Jesus sent to the apostle John said to John: "Worship God," meaning Jehovah God. Jesus' angel (Revelation 1:1, 2; 22:16) told John, a man on earth, to worship, not Jesus, but God, Jehovah God the Father of Jesus. That is the One whom Jehovah's witnesses worship.

But we remember that such worship has to be rendered to Jehovah God through his High Priest Jesus Christ. For this reason it is that Jehovah's Witnesses follow the instruction of Philippians 2:10, 11: "So that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER." (not the Trinity)

Jehovah's witnesses "honor the Son just as they honor the Father," for, "he that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." (John 5:23) We give to Jesus all the honor, respect, consideration, obedience, imitation, love and loyalty that Jehovah God calls upon them to render to his Son Jesus Christ.

In Jesus' name we render our prayers and worship to Jehovah God. And the angels of heaven obey the command of God and "worship" his Son only as their worship of the Son is related to the worship of his Father Jehovah God. But, keeping things in their relative positions, angels and Jehovah's Witnesses worship Jehovah God as the one Almighty God, the MOST HIGH. (Psalms 83:18) This is the one who is God to Jesus and is worthy of the highest “proskuneo.”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Lastly, you stated, “When Jesus quoted the old Testament in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8, He used the word "proskuneo".”

This is true! In the NASB, we find: “Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’ ”

What is to be given “the Lord your God? ? Two things are to be given Him; (1) “worship” (proskuneo) and (2) “sacred service,” (Greek, latreuo). What is to be given Jehovah only, is” latreuo,” not just “proskuneo.” The angels are instructed to accord Jesus “proskuneo” at Hebrews 1:6; not “latreuo.” John Nelson Darby in a footnote in his translation on Matthew 4:10, informs us: “Proskuneo: an act of personal reverence and homage. What in modern language is called ‘worship’ is Latreuo, as ‘serve’ ver 10.”

Nowhere in Scripture, is anyone put under obligation to give “latreuo” to Christ or to the holy spirit. “Latreuo” is to be offered to Jehovah only. This puts the Father, Jehovah, in a special and unique class as to what must be given Him and to no one else; not to the Son, nor to the holy spirit.

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

What is to be given “the Lord your God? ? Two things are to be given Him; (1) “worship” (proskuneo) and (2) “sacred service,” (Greek, latreuo). What is to be given Jehovah only, is” latreuo,” not just “proskuneo.” The angels are instructed to accord Jesus “proskuneo” at Hebrews 1:6; not “latreuo.”

Actually, Jesus is given "latreuo":

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve (latreusousin) him. They will see his face (to prosopon autou), and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5)

Jeff said...

Word definitions are determined by the usage of words in a range of contexts. Thus, the dictionary will have multiple definitions of a single word. But, a word properly understood in context has only one meaning. It is a mistake to apply a chosen, dictionary definition to a word with no consideration of the context in which the word is used. Dictionary definitions do not always, in and of themselves, convey the intent of the author’s original meaning. So, you can choose a single meaning of a word, and you can thereby misunderstand completely the author’s intent. Are you sure that you are not doing this, Nick?

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

I am not building a belief upon a favorite rendering of a word be it, “echad, hen, G/god, L/lord, proskuneo,” but examining what even Trinitarians acknowledge and understand to be a very legitimate way of interpreting it and thus we cannot be faulted.

Of course, we must always look into the context. Example, “How God was a “savior” to Israel alone does not rule out there being other “saviors” he will use for his purpose. They are not “false saviors” but the context must be taken into consideration.

An “alternate rendering,” when it comes to a Scripture text depends on who you are asking. You recently brought up, “I AM,’ in John 8:58.

I recently shared with you “an alternate rendering,” of John 8:58 in the past by the NASB since you seem to have high regard for it. "I am," or "ego eimi," in the Greek, has been understood “legitimately” to mean, "I am he," or "I have been."

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the context shows that Jesus was talking about his age in time in relation to Abraham’s existence, not his identity. He was simply stating he had seniority over Abraham not telling these men he was the same being as Jehovah. Jehovah’s Witnesses readily accept the fact that the Son was alongside or beside his Father eons before Abraham was, or existed. (John 17:5)

That is why I also ask you to substitute “I AM” for “Jehovah” or “Lord,” if you felt it was a title or name because it would make any sense.

There are many TRINITARIAN Bible translators that do not think the way Jehovah’s Witnesses understand it is “an alternative rendering,” but how it correctly should be understood because they even have it in the MAIN TEXT. For instance:

The Living New Testament: "The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."

The 20th Century New Testament: "before Abraham existed I was." Noyes, G.R. N.T. (1878)

Jesus said to them, truly, truly do I say to you, from before Abraham was, I have been. Hanson, J.W. New Covenant (1884)

Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, I am before Abraham was born. Kraeling, E.G. Four Gospels (1962)

With another amen-saying, Jesus declares to them that before
Abraham was, He (Jesus) is (hint of His preexistence) . Parker, P.G. Clarified N.T.

Jesus answered, before Abraham existed, I existed.Cotton Patch Version (1970)

To this Jesus replied, I existed before Abraham was born.
Ledyard, G.H. New Life Testament (1969)

Jesus said to them, for sure I tell you, before Abraham was born, I was and sum and always will be. Dr. E.C. Dymond N.T. (1972)

Jesus answer, I tell you the truth. I already was before Abraham was born. The New Testament, An American Translation Goodspeed

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

New Believers Bible, New Living Translation: "I existed before Abraham was even born."

The New Testament, C. B. Williams: "I solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born."

The Book, New Testament: The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."

The Living Bible: "I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."

Lattimore: "Truly, truly I tell you, I am from before Abraham was born."

The New Testament, From the Peshitta Text,Lamsa: "Before Abraham was born, I was."

An American Translation, In The Language of Today, Beck: "I was before Abraham."

New Testament Contemporary English Version: "I tell you.that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am."

The Unvarnished New Testament: "Before Abraham was born, I have already been."

The New Testament, Kleist & Lilly: "I am here-and I was before Abraham."

The New Testament in the Language of the People, Williams: "I existed before Abraham was born."

The New Testament, Noyes: "From before Abraham was, I have been."

A Translation of the Four Gospels, Lewis: "Before Abraham was, I have been."

Wakefield, G. N.T. (1795) Jesus said unto them: Verily verily I say unto you, before Abraham was born, I am He.

The Syriac New Testament, Murdock: "Before Abraham existed I was."

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels, Burkitt& The Old Georgian Version of the Gospel of John, Blake & Briere "Before Abraham came to be, I was."


The New Testament Or Rather the New Covenant, Sharpe: "I was before Abraham was born."

The 20th Century New Testament 1904: "Before Abraham existed I was already what I am."

The New Testament, Stage: "Before Abraham came to be, I was."
International Bible Translators 1981

Jesus said to them, I am telling the truth: I was alive before Abraham was born! The Coptic Version the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Horner: "Before Abraham became, I, I am being."

The Documents of the New Testament, Wade: "Before Abraham came into being, I have existed." Noli, M.F.S. N.T. (1961)

Jesus answered them: Well, well, I tell you, I existed before Abraham was born. The Concise Gospel and The acts, Christianson: "I existed even before Abraham was born."

A Translators Handbook to the Gospel of John, Nida: "Before Abraham existed, I existed, or I have existed."

The Simple English Bible: "I was alive before Abraham was born."

The Original New Testament, Schonfield: "I tell you for a positive fact, I existed before Abraham was born."

The Complete Gospels Annotated Scholars Version, Miller: "I existed before there was an Abraham." Swann, G. N.T. (1947)

Jesus said to them, verily, verily I say unto you, I existed before Abraham was born. International English Version (2001)

This is among many other scriptures that we still need to peer into further together. I am getting back to you on your points tonight or tomorrow. Also, more on "Lautreuo" to come.

Respectfully,

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

So who do you say/believe that Jesus is?

nick said...

Hey Jeff,

Good weekend to you. To answer your question: “So who do you say/believe that Jesus is?” I believe that Jesus is just as his Father said, “This is my Son, the beloved…” (Matthew 3:17)

And Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Peter got it right when asked the same question you just asked me. Peter said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Did Jesus say, “Not quite, I am also God the Son.” No he didn't. Jesus simply said: “Happy you are, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in the heavens did.” (Matthew 16:15-17).

What we say and believe is what Jesus himself always and only did claim, that he was the 'Son of the Living God,' the Son of the Most high God, his God Jehovah. And despite what others think and tell you, we have faith in BOTH of them. (John 14:1) We just differ in that we don't believe they are the same BEING.

Confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is what IS required for everlasting life. (1 John 4:15) If I was required to believe he was “the second person or member of a Trinity,” and the Bible told me this, I would happily do so. Thus far, no one has been able to plainly and adequately present me evidence that I MUST believe this or I MUST do so for salvation. Maybe that is taught in some other book but not the Bible.

Interestingly when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus told her, "ego eimi," to establish he was the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ. (John 4:25, 26) He was simply answering her question by stating, “ego eimi,” yes “I am he.”

You recently cited Revelation 22:1-5:

Actually, Jesus is given "latreuo":

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river
stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its
fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of
the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and
of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve
(latreusousin) him. They will see his face (to prosopon autou), and
his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."
(Revelation 22:1-5)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Actually, not really. From the words "his (God's) servants will serve him" on, the term “latreusousin” refers to "the Lord God", not to the Lamb.

A careful reading of the verse reveals that only the throne belongs to both "God and...the Lamb." Not the “sacred service/latreusousin.” Just as kings David and Solomon were said to sit upon Jehovah's throne, meaning that they ruled by Jehovah's appointment and authority, so the Lamb, being the appointed King of God's Kingdom, sits upon God's throne, which then becomes his throne as well. But the worship belongs to only one, the same One who has the servants, the "Lord God," verse 5.

Note that the verse does not say "their" servants will serve or worship "them." The worship is not given to God and the Lamb. The worship is given to "him," singular, ("his servants will serve him"), the One whose "face" they see, identified at the end of the verse as "the Lord God."

Even a Trinitarian Greek dictionary acknowledges this is something reserved for the Father:

"New Testament Usage: Except for several instances in which the issue is serving foreign gods (Acts 7:42; Romans 1:25), the verb [latreuo] is employed exclusively for serving the only God -- the Father of Jesus Christ." -- The Complete Biblical Library: Greek-English Dictionary, Lambda-Omicron (Springfield, Missouri, USA, 1990), page 37.

In the book of Revelation the Lamb, Christ Jesus is clearly distinguished from, the God and Father of Jesus Christ Jehovah. Because of Jesus integrity and sacrifice he alone was worthy to take the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne, God. (Revelation 5:1, 7) If you are the same being this makes zero sense. Anyway, the Lamb is deserving of whole-souled honor, glory, and praise as the Son of the living God and Messiah, not as “God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. But only the God of him as he brought out in Matthew 4;10/Luke 4:8 is worthy of “proskuneo,” in the highest sense and only the Father alone should properly be give “latreuo” sacred service. No wonder why Jesus said that the TRUE WORSHIPPERS will worship, not the Trinity, but THE FATHER with spirit and truth. (John 4:21, 23) This is the truth. God is looking for such-like ones? This is my belief and the way God finds me.

-continued

A concluding thought. Often I find people being discussions like this with a pre-conceived idea that Jesus is God and then look for support from the Bible to prove their view. What if we start with the idea Jesus is not God and then find things that absolutely have to convince us he is God? This too is coming into the subject with a preconceived idea, but it is the same preconceived idea Jesus’ apostles had.

The certainly did not think Jesus was God when they first met him. So it is best to assume Jesus is not God and determine what makes us think he is. My approach is, “Do the Scriptures that supposedly proved to Jesus’ disciples that he was God prove the same to me? And then I compare the rest of the other Scriptures to see if this makes me think he is or is not God?

If a passage presents many grammatical difficulties, or stands by itself to make a point and can be looked at in many different ways or possibilities, I am cautious.

I agree with what Christopher B. Kaiser said in his book, “The Doctrine of God, A Historical Survey, pg. 29, “Belief in the deity of Christ has traditionally been the keystone of the doctrine of the Trinity, yet explicit references to Jesus as ‘God’ (theos) in the New Testament are very few, and even those few are generally plagues with uncertainties of either text or interpretation.”

My aim is to demonstrate to you that this is absolutely the case when reviewing many “proof texts” that supposedly favor of a Trinity God. Let’s test them openly and fairly with full force but with calmness and mutual respect.

Sincerely,

Nick

nick said...

-continuing

A concluding thought. Often I find people being discussions like this with a pre-conceived idea that Jesus is God and then look for support from the Bible to prove their view. What if we start with the idea Jesus is not God and then find things that absolutely have to convince us he is God? This too is coming into the subject with a preconceived idea, but it is the same preconceived idea Jesus’ apostles had.

The certainly did not think Jesus was God when they first met him. So it is best to assume Jesus is not God and determine what makes us think he is. My approach is, “Do the Scriptures that supposedly proved to Jesus’ disciples that he was God prove the same to me? And then I compare the rest of the other Scriptures to see if this makes me think he is or is not God?

If a passage presents many grammatical difficulties, or stands by itself to make a point and can be looked at in many different ways or possibilities, I am cautious.

I agree with what Christopher B. Kaiser said in his book, “The Doctrine of God, A Historical Survey, pg. 29, “Belief in the deity of Christ has traditionally been the keystone of the doctrine of the Trinity, yet explicit references to Jesus as ‘God’ (theos) in the New Testament are very few, and even those few are generally plagues with uncertainties of either text or interpretation.”

My aim is to demonstrate to you that this is absolutely the case when reviewing many “proof texts” that supposedly favor of a Trinity God. Let’s test them openly and fairly with full force but with calmness and mutual respect.

I know I am lagging behind a bit. There are several passages in your "proskuneo" argument I have not yet addressed. I'll make time tomorrow so thanks for your patience.

Sincerely,

Nick

Jeff said...

Hi Nick,

I believe that Jesus is just as his Father said, “This is my Son, the beloved…” (Matthew 3:17)

OK, but what does that mean? Why is Jesus called God’s Son? Since you said it is obviously not by any sexual means, then why is Jesus especially called God’s Son, as opposed to, say, Christians being called children of God, or the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-8 (which some say refers to the fallen angels)? In other words, what sets Jesus apart as being the Son of God?

Jeff said...

I know I am lagging behind a bit. There are several passages in your "proskuneo" argument I have not yet addressed. I'll make time tomorrow so thanks for your patience.

OK, it's hard for me to be silent, and not address the things you have said, because I have a lot of things I could say and ask, but I will try to wait and hold back.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Please know that you can express yourself freely, afterall, this is your blog. I don't mind you sharing or asking anything at anytime but I'm not able to get to every point at once. Remember playing "catch" as a kid? You could huck a bunch of balls at me at once or we can toss one ball at a time. I prefer going back and forth on one topic and then move on to the next. But that is just me.

I will extensively go over with you "Why is Jesus called God's Son" shortly but will first respond to your comments and scriptures you sent earlier. It could also be asked, "Why the 'the Father' is the Father?" Maybe you can give this some thought and let me know what you think when you can.

Wanted to get back to you on whether or not it is proper for Christians to pray to Jesus. Just as a path leads to a goal, so Jesus is the “way” that leads to God the Almighty. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus taught the apostles. (John 14:6) It is easy to see by Jesus’ own expression that we should present our prayers to God THROUGH Jesus and not directly to Jesus himself.

But some, like you, have cited the example in Acts 7:56, 59 and ask, “Does the Bible not report that both the disciple Stephen and the apostle John spoke to Jesus in heaven?”

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Others I have talked to in the past have also directed me to examples of Revelation where they claim Jesus is receiving prayer like his Father. These events, however, did not involve prayers, as Stephen and John each saw Jesus in vision and spoke to him directly. (Acts 7:56, 59; Revelation 1:17-19; 22:20)

For instance, we know Stephen had a vision of “the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:56) Fully aware that Jesus had been given the power to resurrect the dead, Stephen spoke, but did not pray, directly to Jesus, asking Him to safeguard his spirit. (John 5:27-29)

Keep in mind that simply speaking even to God or Christ does not in itself constitute a prayer. Adam and Eve spoke to God, offering excuses for their great sin, when He judged them following their sin in Eden. Their talking to him in that way was not a prayer. (Genesis 3:8-19) It would be incorrect to cite Stephen’s or John’s talking to Jesus as evidence that we actually should pray to him.

There is nothing to indicate that Christian disciples so expressed themselves under other circumstances to Jesus after his ascension to heaven. So the apostle Paul writes: “In everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6) And Jesus himself, of course, taught his disciples to pray to “the Father.” (Matthew 6:9, 10)

His God and Father now requires that we recognize the position of Christ Jesus as the one THROUGH whom prayer is directed. Through Jesus’ blood, offered to God in sacrifice, “we have boldness for the way of entry into the holy place,” that is, boldness to approach God’s presence in prayer, approaching “with true hearts in the full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

There is no way around it, Jesus Christ is the one and only “way” of reconciliation with God and approach to God in prayer and should offer all our prayers “in Jesus name.” That is why it would also be improper to pray to Mary, or to particular “saints,” asking them to intercede with God in our behalf.

Hope this helped.

Respectfully,

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

Please know that you can express yourself freely, afterall, this is your blog. I don't mind you sharing or asking anything at anytime but I'm not able to get to every point at once. Remember playing "catch" as a kid? You could huck a bunch of balls at me at once or we can toss one ball at a time. I prefer going back and forth on one topic and then move on to the next. But that is just me.

I appreciate your attitude, Nick.

Understand that I have never afforded anyone else, out of all the people who have ever commented on my site in the few years I have had this blog, what I am trying to afford/give you (as far as my trying to be patient and holding back), given the fact that we are in such drastic disagreement, and that this conversation has been going on for so long. Nevertheless, since I understand there is a lot you want to say, I am trying hard to say as little as possible, because I'm trying to let you say everything you want to say, first. This is not my normal practice, but I am trying to be patient. In addition, I am not looking for debates and arguments, because over the years, I have found that debates usually don't really solve anything, and also that debates can turn into endless and meaningless circular repetitions. I believe in the old saying, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." And I also believe that God does not primarily change a person via the intellect, but via the heart (though the intellect can certainly play a part).

I'll be honest with you, Nick: I know for a fact that I am going to spend eternity in Heaven. I know that I will not go to Hell. Therefore, I am not worried about dying, because I know I will have a happy ending, since I have eternal life. I also know for sure that anyone who does not know and accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who has not been regenerated, redeemed, justified and washed clean of all their sin, will spend all of eternity in Hell. It will be eternal, since a sinner can never fully and completely pay for sin, any more than a penniless man can pay his fine out of jail or prison. Only someone who is sinless can pay for sin, and Jesus Christ is the only one on this earth who has ever been sinless. The good news is that it is a free gift, available by faith, because any 'good works' we do are tainted by selfishness and a sinful nature. The Bible says that even the best 'good works' we can do are nothing more than bloody, dirty rags to God (the original says a woman's menstruating rags). However, when a person surrenders their life to Jesus Christ and accepts Him as their personal Lord and Savior, accepting the fact that He died on the cross for their sins, and when they repent of their sins and give their life to Jesus, then God washes their past, present and future sins clean. God gives them a new nature and makes them a brand new person inside, with new desires. And, since they then become a holy, clean vessel, and a living temple, God the Holy Spirit then dwells inside them, and acts as the Comforter and also gives them wisdom. At that point, they have eternal life, and the Holy Spirit is their 'engagement ring,' or their promise that they have Heaven to look forward to.

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

I'm saying all this, not just because I've heard it or read it somewhere, and not just as an intellectual belief, but as something that I have experienced.

My hope is that you will come to know this truth as well, Nick. I am not better than you. I do not know that I am any smarter than you. I do not know that I am morally any better than you. I am merely a human being that is a sinner who fully deserves to spend eternity in a fiery Hell, and it would certainly be just for God to do that. But thanks be to God that He came down as a man to die in our place, because He knew that we could never be perfect or holy, and therefore could never be good enough on our own to get to Heaven. I will eternally be in His debt, and His love is something that I cannot fully fathom, that He would die for a created creature like me---I who am a corrupted and rebellious sinner. Praise God for His mercy, His grace, and His unfathomable love. Jesus is my Savior, my Redeemer, and the Lord of my life. My desire is to be more like Him, and only the Holy Spirit can sanctify me to be more and more Christlike. Hell is a place I would not want my worst enemy to go to. I love Jesus, and I want to be used by Him for His glory. I want to tell people about Him, so that they will escape everlasting damnation in Hell, and so that they will have everlasting life in Heaven, just as I will. Jesus' voluntary, sacrificial death on the cross was the greatest act of love there has ever been in all of history, and it was an act where God saved a remnant of His human creation by coming down to earth Himself and dying for the very creatures He created. This is mind-blowing, and it shows a level of love that only the God Who is Love can demonstrate.

nick said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your heartfelt expressions. Sharing them with me means alot. I am sure you love God and Christ and respect and love God's Word just as much as me. Please understand I am not calling that into question whatsoever. God also does not "desire any to be destroyed" (John 3:16)but to have sincere and repent and become followers of His Son. I would love to talk to you about your perspective of "hell," in the future. It also is "a hot topic." :)

In the meantime THANK YOU for wanting to hear futher where Jehovah's Witnesses are coming from. It is my goal to clear away any misconceptions you may have and help you better understand our Scriptural understanding. I also am not interested in an "intellectual exercise," of any kind. What I am interested in is to really know God and Christ and the truth found only in God's Word.

Please know that I also am not claiming to be "answer man," like some have labeled themselves. I'm not. But I do believe I have many things of interest to share and I would like to bring it to the table for your review.

I'm looking at something else you shared with me, and that is another reason you felt the followers of Christ honor Jesus is “by calling Jesus 'God' as it says in Hebrews 1:8, 9.”

My father once tried to use this passage to somehow prove that the Father himself was calling Jesus God in an attempt to make it look as if the Father also has a God. We looked at this text very closely. He was not fully aware of the grammatical issues from this text? How can this text “legitimately” be translated? And which translation would harmonize with the rest of the entire Scriptures? A

As you know, I could share with you much research from what Jehovah’s Witnesses have to say on this text which might interest you but instead check out the findings of independent Biblical Koine Greek Professor Jason BeDuhn. In his book, "Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament.”

-continued

nick said...

-continued

Chapter 9: An Uncertain Throne. This chapter demonstrates the uncertainty of translating a Greek sentence which does not require a verb into an English sentence which requires the verb. In the case of Hebrews 1:8, the translator's placement of the verb "is" will change the meaning of the sentence. BeDuhn says:

“In Greek, the verb "is" often is omitted as unnecessary. There are other elements in a Greek sentence, such as noun cases, that usually allow the sentence to be understood even without a simple verb like "is." Since it is implied, it does not need to be said explicitly. When we translate from Greek into English, however, we supply the implied verb. . . . The problem in Hebrew 1:8 is that we are not sure where the verb "is" belongs in the sentence, and where it belongs makes a big difference in the meaning of the verse. . . . In Hebrews 1:8, we have two nouns in the nominative form: "throne" and "God." The verb "is" might go between the two nouns, as it does in dozens of cases of saying "x is y" in the New Testament. If that is so, then the sentence reads: "Your throne is God, forever and ever." This is the way the sentence is read by the translators of the NWT. . . .
But there is another possible way to translate Hebrews 1:8. The phrase ho theos is sometimes used to say "O God" in Greek. . . . In [Hebrews 10:7], "O God" [was translated from] ho theos. So it is obvious that the author of [Hebrews] can use ho theos to mean "O God." At the same time, the same author uses ho theos dozens of time to mean "God," the usual meaning of the phrase. These facts make it very hard for us to know which way to translate this phrase in Hebrews 1:8. . . . But the translators of most of the versions we are comparing have chosen the rarer, less probable way to translate ho theos. By taking it to mean "O God," and by putting "is" after the two nouns ("throne" and "God") and before the prepositional phrase "forever and ever," they read the verse as, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." . . . In my opinion, the NRSV, TEV, and NWT have done the right thing by informing their readers that there are two ways the verse can and has been translated. (p. 97-99)” (unquote)

There is no doubt about it, in this passage the theology of the translator is the decisive factor in translating. Since in Hebrews 1:8 there are no verbs in this sentence so it is not certain where "is," (the verb in this case), belongs in the sentence.
In Professor Jason BeDuhn's book, "Truth in Translation," he explains how most Bible translations are made for people who already believe Jesus is God so that the less probable way of translating this verse has been preferred.

Why does he say, "less probable?" He didn't say "not possible," but less likely. He demonstrates that many Bible translators of most of the versions he compares have chosen the rarer, less probable way to translate, "ho theos."
He points out that "ho theos," is sometimes used to say "O God," in Greek. However he proves that "ho theos," usually means "God," and there are hundreds of examples of this. It is more probable that in Hebrews 1:8, "ho theos," means "God." "Ho theos," can and has been translated hundreds of times throughout the NT. Only 3 other times "O God," makes its way in the translation. In Hebrews the expression, "O God," never is used elsewhere."

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

After Professor Beduhn made his thorough and fair evaluation he then concludes, "In my opinion, the NRSV, TEV, and NWT have done the right thing by informing their readers that there are two ways the verse can and has been translated." He goes on to state, "Three giants of modern NT scholarship, Westcott, Moffatt, and Goodspeed, came to the same conclusion independently.”

The only reason I share this with you at this time is after a summation of the facts I do believe that Hebrews 1:8 can NOT be used as an absolute "proof text," that God is calling his Son, "God," or that this proves a Triune God in anyway.

I believe the most likely intention for the rendering of Hebrews 1:8 is as Oxford professor and famous Trinitarian Bible translator, Dr. James Moffatt understood it, ““God is thy throne for ever and ever.” And he has been described as “probably the greatest biblical scholar of our day.”

Many Trinitarians acknowledge this to be true and not all Trinitarian translators have opted (with complete certainty) for a reading that applies the title “God” to Christ at Hebrews 1:8. For example, the NRSV, although translating the verse as “your throne O God” in the main text, so that Christ is called “God,” the marginal footnote alerts readers to the fact that the verse may be translated, with reference to Christ, “God is your throne…”

Trinitarian Robert Bowman, although disagreeing with the translation given in the RSV margin, noted that on “merely grammatical considerations, the translation (‘God is your throne’ or ‘your throne is God’) is possible, and some biblical scholars have favored this rendering. According to such a reading, the point of the statement is that God is the source of Jesus’ authority.” (Robert Bowman, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, p. 107)

Well-known New Testament scholar, A.T. Robertson, commenting on whether “theos” in Hebrews 1:8 be viewed as being in the nominative or vocative case, stated:

“O God (ho theos). This quotation (the fifth) is from Psa.45:7f. A Hebrew nuptial ode (epithalamium) for a king treated here as Messianic. It is not certain whether ho theos is here the vocative (address with the nominative form as in John 20:28 with the Messiah termed theos as is possible, John 1:18) or ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with estin (is) understood: ‘God is they throne’ or ‘Thy throne is God.’ Either makes good sense.” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume V. p. 339)

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

University of Cambridge professor and noted New Testament language scholar, Dr. C. F. D. Moule writes that Hebrews. 1:8 may be “construed so as to mean Thy throne is God” (p. 32, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Cambridge University Press, 1990 printing)

An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed), renders it: “God is your throne....” And The Bible in Living English (Byington) reads: “God is your throne....”

Another world-acclaimed scholar of Trinitarian Christendom has translated this verse similarly, Trinitarian Dr. William Barclay in his translation of the New Testament, has also rendered Hebrews 1:8 as : “God is your throne for ever and ever.”

Even “Young’s Concise Bible Commentary” (written by the famous Trinitarian author of Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible) admits: “[Heb. 1:8] may be justly rendered ‘God is thy throne ...’ in either case it is applicable to the mediatorial throne only.”

Check out the footnote of the ASV, American Standard Version as well as The New English Bible or NEB. They have showed a very "legitimate" rendering from the traditional translation of the KJV.

A close study of Psalms 45:6, 7; (which obviously is a quotation of Hebrews 1:8, 9) also shows this is not what God had in mind as his king back then sat on God's throne. In this passage the inspired writer speaks as addressing the King.

-continued

nick said...

-continuing

Jason Beduhn agrees as he said regarding Psalms 45:6, 7: "God is addressed nowhere in this Psalm, and that, "The Psalm is about what God has done to the person spoken to." He even went on to say, "Within the Jewish tradition, Psalm 45 has never been taken to call the king, "God."

Solomon, who was possibly the king originally addressed in Psalm 45, was said to sit "upon Jehovah's throne." (1 Chronicles 29:23/NAB) In harmony with the fact that God is the "throne," or Source and Upholder of Christ's kingship, Daniel 7:13, 14 and Luke 1:32 show that God confers such authority on him." (see also 1 Chronicles 28:5)

Jehovah was the Source and Foundation of the king's power and authority as ruler. In fact, the Trinitarian NASB Reference Edition, explains in a footnote for Psalms 45:1, “Probably refers to Solomon as a type of Christ.”

So we see the context and, later of course, the throne would be the same for Jesus and applied to him. It is Jehovah who is the Originator and Giver of his throne.

Again, I do believe that the one occupying Jehovah's throne is God's representative, but in Psalm 45:6, 7 it does not directly call the king "elohim/ god." Although, even if it did it would not make him, "The God." Psalms 45:6 is plainly referring to the God of the king. This is the God that supports the king and gives him power and authority. The same God that does so for Jesus, the Messianic King, but it goes without saying in a much fuller sense.

I'm getting there. Next response on some comments you made in John and 1 John.

Sincerely,

Nick

Jeff said...

Nick,

If that is so, then the sentence reads: "Your throne is God, forever and ever." This is the way the sentence is read by the translators of the NWT.

Yes, I have heard that before, and that makes no sense whatsoever, because that would mean that Jesus is sitting on the Father, which is ridiculous.

Jeff said...

First, Heb. 1:8 is a quote from Psalm 45:6, which says,

"Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy Kingdom" (NASB).

In fact, the ASV, KJV, NIV, and NKJV all translated it as "Your throne, O God..." The RSV translates it as "Your divine throne endures for ever and ever," "but this is a highly unlikely translation because it requires understanding the Hebrew noun for "throne" in construct state, something extremely unusual when a noun has a pronomial suffix, as this one does...The KJV, NIV, and NASB all take the verse in its plain, straightforward sense, as do the ancient translations..."

(Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, p. 227.)

Jeff said...

Is God a chair?

To say "God is your throne" doesn't make sense. What does it mean to say, "But to which of the angels did he say, God is your throne." What would that mean? Is God, Jesus' throne? God alone is on His throne and He isn't a throne for anyone else.

So again, to translate it as "Your throne is God" it totally absurd.

Jeff said...

In verse 10: "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands..." This is a quote from Psalm 102:24-25 which says, "I say, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands.'" Clearly, God is the one being addressed in Psalm 102. It is God who laid the foundations of the earth. Yet, in Heb. 1:10, Jesus is called 'Lord' and is said to be the one who laid the foundation of the earth. This becomes even more interesting when we note that in Isaiah 44:24 it says, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone." If God was laying the foundations of the earth alone, that would mean that either Jesus has to be God, the second person of the Trinity, who laid the foundation the same as YHWH did, or we have a contradiction in the Bible. Clearly this section of Hebrews is proclaiming that Jesus is God. Therefore, contextually, it is best to translate Heb. 1:8 as, "Thy Throne, O God. . ." This is the only rendering that makes any sense.

Jeff said...

From a Bible Researcher website:

"But Moffatt's version was controversial in several respects. His preface put forth skeptical views concerning the truthfulness of the Bible. In the Old Testament he indicated by the use of different type fonts the hypothetical source documents of the Pentateuch (J, E, P, D), and frequently rearranged passages according to his idea of how they might have originally stood. For the New Testament he used the Greek text of Hermann von Soden, which was generally regarded as an eccentric text, and he often substituted conjectural emendations for the text of both Testaments. In the New Testament alone he adopts some thirty conjectures which have no support at all in the manuscripts. The translation throughout was highly readable, but often embodied interpretations that were objectionable to some."

Jeff said...

Hebrews 1:8

"But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom." (NIV)

"But of the Son He says, "YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM." (NASB)

"But as to the Son, He says to Him, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever (to the ages of the ages), and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of absolute righteousness (of justice and straightforwardness)." (Amplified Bible)

"But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice." (New Living Translation)

"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (KJV)

"But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom." (ESV)

"But God says about his Son, "You are God, and you will rule as King forever! Your royal power brings about justice." (Contemporary English Version)

"But to the Son He says: “ Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (NKJV)

"But God said this about his Son: "God, your throne will last forever and ever. You will rule your kingdom with fairness." (New Century Version)

"But unto the Son He saith, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy Kingdom." (21st Century King James Version)

"but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (ASV)

"and unto the Son: `Thy throne, O God, [is] to the age of the age; a scepter of righteousness [is] the scepter of thy reign;" (Young's Literal Translation)

"but as to the Son, Thy throne, O God, [is] to the age of the age, and a sceptre of uprightness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom." (Darby Translation)

"but about the Son: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice." (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

"But here is what he says about the Son. "You are God. Your throne will last for ever and ever. Your kingdom will be ruled by what is right." (New International Reader's Version)

"But to the Son he saith, God, thy throne is into the world of world [into the world of worlds]; a rod of equity is the rod of thy realm;" (Wycliffe New Testament)

"But here is what God says about his Son: `O God, you will sit and rule for ever. You will rule in the right way." (Worldwide English (New Testament))

"But about the Son he says, Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom." (New International Version - UK)

"But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." (Today's New International Version)

Jeff said...

Nick, you said:

What I am interested in is to really know God and Christ and the truth found only in God's Word.

I hope you are sincere about that, and I hope that you really do come to meet and know God personally as I do. He is my Lord, and I will live with Him forever, and my prayer is that you will, too. I pray that you will come to know the Truth, which is only found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He said there is no other way to the Father, except through Him. Only through Jesus will you ever be free of all the legalistic works that you are currently bound to, which works will never save you or get you to Heaven.

Jeff said...

Solomon, who was possibly the king originally addressed in Psalm 45, was said to sit "upon Jehovah's throne." (1 Chronicles 29:23/NAB)

Nick, you should realize that it was not uncommon for New Testament writers to take a passage from the Old Testament and apply it to something else. In addition, there are prophecies in the Old Testament that have more than one fulfillment.

I know I said I was going to try to hold back as much as possible, but the New World Translation rendering of Hebrews 1:8 is just so absurd and ridiculous that I have to say something about it.

David Reed, an ex-Witness, says in his book, "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," that basically the New World Translation came into being for the sole purpose of supporting Watchtower doctrines showing their own bias (pp.17-18). Reed says, "So, during the 1950's, Watchtower leaders went beyond interpretation by producing their own version of the Bible, with hundreds of verses changed to fit Watchtower doctrine. And, their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures continues to be rewritten every few years, with additional changes made to bring God's Word into closer agreement with what the organization teaches."

The most widespread change in the Watchtower Bible is the insertion of the name 'JEHOVAH,' 237 times in the New Testament. Of course, it is appropriate for a translator to choose to use the divine name JEHOVAH or YAHWEH in the Old Testament (though, in my studies, 'Yahweh' is the correct pronunciation) where the Tetragrammaton 'YHWH' actually appears in the Hebrew text. However, the Watchtower has gone beyond this by inserting the name JEHOVAH in the New Testament, where it does not appear in Greek manuscripts. One need only look at the word-by-word English that appears under the Greek text in the Society's own Kingdom Interlinear Translation to see that the name JEHOVAH is not there in the Greek.

The Watchtower Society presents the New World Translation as the anonymous work of the New World Bible Translation Committee and resists all efforts to identify the members of the committee. They claim this is in order that all credit for the work will go to God. Reed points out, "an unbiased observer will quickly note that such anonymity also shields the translators from any blame for errors or distortions in their renderings. And it prevents scholars from checking their credentials."

"In fact, defectors who have quit Watchtower headquarters in recent years have identified the alleged members of the committee, revealing that none of them was expert in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic - the original languages from which the Bible was translated."

Jeff said...

Oh, and I almost forgot:

Psalm 45:6

"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." (NIV)

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (NASB)

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (Amplified Bible)

"Your throne, O God,endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice." (New Living Translation)

"Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre." (King James Version)

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;" (English Standard Version)

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." (New King James Version)

etc.

Jeff said...

In fact, the Trinitarian NASB Reference Edition, explains in a footnote for Psalms 45:1, “Probably refers to Solomon as a type of Christ.”

Now you have opened up a whole new can of worms. 'Types of Christ' is just too interesting a topic not to say anything.

This is from a website called Truth For Today:

The following are true types of Christ and His work:

(a) Jacob's Ladder.

"And he said to him, Verily verily I say unto you, Hereafter thou shalt see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (John 1:51).

This statement of Jesus' alludes to Jacob's vision of a ladder or stairway stretching from earth to heaven (Genesis 28:12).

Jesus presents himself as the reality to which the stairway pointed. The patriarch saw in a dream the reunion of heaven and earth through the One Mediator, Jesus Christ, which is now brought to reality both for Jacob and for all believers.

(b) Moses.

"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house" (Hebrews 3:1-3).

With reference to Numbers 12:7, Moses and Christ are compared as to faithfulness and contrasted as to honour. Though privileged to speak to God face to face and to see His form (Numbers 12:8), Moses was still only "a servant" in the house of God.

Moses enjoyed a special dignity in his service to God; he is the unique minister of the law. And yet Jesus' ministry is higher still, for Moses himself pointed out that a greater Prophet will arise and the people were responsible to listen to Him. Again, as Moses was the deliverer from Egypt, Christ is now the greater Deliverer from this present evil world (Galatians 1:5), from the devil and from our sin.

(c) The Temple.

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said" (John 2:19-22).

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ the material temple became obsolete in God's economy (as Christ here prophesied) for He himself and his church (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:22) became the antitypical fulfilment (Hebrews 9:11-14) of all that which it foreshadowed and symbolically presented. It was necessary to attend to the temple to worship God properly and acceptably; in the New Testament the true worshippers do not worship locally but spiritually (John 4).

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

(d) Boaz.

Boaz was a wealthy Bethlehemite of the tribe of Judah, who married Ruth (the Gentile bride). As the Goel (the Kinsman-Redeemer) I have no doubt that Boaz is a type of Christ, who became incarnate, springing from Judah too, in order to acquire for himself a bride from the Gentile nations.

He was willing to do so (as Boaz was willing to redeem and marry Ruth), he has to power to do so, and he is our kinsman, with the right to do so.

(No direct reference to Boaz as a type of Christ is found in the New Testament).

(e) The Cleansing with Hyssop.

"For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, and water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you" (Hebrews 9:19,20).

Hyssop was used for the cleansing of lepers (Leviticus 14:4,6,51,52; Numbers 19:6,18), a reference to our cleaning from sin by Christ. This reference, though, has its immediate allusion to Exodus 24:4-8. In this ceremony (in which hyssop was used) God, the author of the scroll, and the people of the congregation were sworn to the covenant with its penalties.

The covenant was ratified by the blood of sprinkling, applied by dipping the hyssop into it. This sprinkling of the blood finds its antitype in Jesus Christ and his shed blood on Calvary (see 1 Peter 1:2). Sprinkling of blood was part of the Old Testament ritual service. In general, the appearance of blood advertises the death of a victim. Christ's shed blood cries for forgiveness (Luke 23:34; Hebrews 12:24).

(f) The Two Turtledoves or Young Pigeons.

"And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24).

The need for Mary's purification arose from her being ceremonially unclean for seven days after the birth of a son. For another thirty-three days she was to keep away from holy things. The mother was then to offer a lamb plus a dove or pigeon. If she was poor her offering was two doves or two young pigeons (Leviticus 12:6-8). Mary gave the offering of the poor. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

At the same time the first male child of every mother was presented to the Lord (Exodus 13:2). As he was "redeemed" by the sacrifice of two turtledoves, He was to be the true Redeemer of God's children who were scattered abroad. He was "sanctified" that He might sanctify others.

(g) The Manna in the Wilderness.

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" (John 6:32).

The adjective "true" has a special meaning. Jesus refers to what is everlasting, as opposed to something merely representative and pointing onwards to him (the Manna). The bread provided through Moses (Exodus 16; Numbers 11), as much as it proved God's care and provision, was only material and temporary; Christ and his sacrifice satisfies the soul eternally. Just as manna came down from heaven, even so the Son came down from heaven (John 6:33). His incarnation is spoken of as "coming down" (in abasement and humiliation) that though his death we might, even during the wilderness of our temporal existence, find life and continual sustenance.

(cont.)

Jeff said...

(cont.)

(h) Jonah as a type of Christ.

A type is an impression made by a person, an object or an event in the Old Testament that foreshadows the coming of the Messiah, in His person and/or His work. In this sense virtually all Bible students recognise certain eventualities in the life of Jonah as predictive of the last and greatest of all prophets, the Lord from heaven.

The theme of God's mercy on the nations, so prominent in the book of Jonah, is used by Jesus as a rebuke to unrepentant Israel (Matthew 12:38-41; Luke 11:29-32). If the Ninevites repented at the preaching of the prophet Jonah, who was rescued from confinement in the huge fish, how much more should Israel repent at the preaching of Jesus, the Son of man, who was resurrected from the tomb.

Specifically Jesus mentions Jonah's three-day experience in the belly of the fish as indicative of what would happen to Him: his death and resurrection the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). In this sense, Jesus' resurrection is "according to the Scriptures."

But in other ways, Jesus and Jonah are far different from each other: Jesus was willing to preach, whereas Jonah wasn't. Jesus rejoiced at the conversion of anyone; Jonah was gloomy when the city repented.

Melchizedek as a type of Christ

Though mentioned just a few times in the Old Testament, Melchizedek is a significant type of Jesus Christ. His history and the facts about him all point to Jesus as our King and Priest.

1. Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the most high God. He came forth to meet Abraham after he had rescued Lot and those taken with him.

Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine, and blessed Abraham, and Abraham recognised the superiority of Melchizedek by giving him tithes of all.

2. Melchizedek is a type of Christ as a royal-priest: King of Salem (righteousness) and king of peace. His priesthood is eternal, and it is non-transferable. Being perpetual, his priesthood is sufficient for us; we do not depend on human priests. Human priesthood is weak and ineffectual: Aaron and his sons, though constituted priests by God himself, pointed out the inherent weakness in themselves because they died. But Melchizedek is a priest of an entirely different order from that of Aaron, which passed from father to son.

Very significantly, there is no mention of his progenitors, nor of any descendant: "Without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor end of life." Thus Melchizedek is a beautiful type of the Son of God, who has been called by God to be "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

3. Nothing is said of any sacrifice being offered by Melchizedek to God; he rather brought forth from God that which symbolises life and joy (cf. John 6:51; 2:1-10), and blessed him who had the promises. Blessing characterises the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ (Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:1-21).

Christ's priesthood is no afterthought with God; he was predestined as the blameless Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. To impress his firm intent into our hearts, God gave us (before the Son's coming) various "proofs" of his determinate counsel concerning his Son and his royal, unique priesthood.

Jeff said...

Nick,

Well, I see that I am commenting a lot more than I had planned to. But still, at least I'm still not commenting on every single quote or point you have listed. Nevertheless, I will go ahead and address a few of them:

Regarding Hebrews 1:8:
(from the Department of Christian Defense)

New World Translation:
"But with reference to the son: “God is your throne forever and ever. . . .”

Literal rendering from the Greek:
"but with regard to the son . . . The throne of thee the God [is] unto the age of the age. . ."
Literally: “The throne of thee the God” (ho thronos sou ho theos). Notice that Jesus is called “the God,” “God” with the definite article, “the.” The NWT rendering of the verse follows the Arian and Unitarian renderings. However, both the Septuagint and the Hebrew (from Ps. 45:6) are in direct address: “Your throne” and not the NWT’s “God is your throne.” The groups that deny the deity of Christ ignore the direct address; the Father addressing the Son as ho theos, that is, “THE GOD.”

King James Version:
"but to the son he says . . . “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. . . .”


Again, I do believe that the one occupying Jehovah's throne is God's representative, but in Psalm 45:6, 7 it does not directly call the king "elohim/ god."

Back to that word again. I just want to mention this quote:

"The word Elohim is a masculine plural noun, which usually takes a singlular verb. We see this notion of plurality in Genesis 1:26a, where "God {Elohim} said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness."

The word Elohim in addition to being a masculine plural noun is also a collective proper noun similar to many English words such as: school, congregation, flock, herd, and crowd. It is derived from a Hebrew root which means strong, powerful, mighty, or Almighty. In the Old Testament, it is used in reference to humans, judges, angels, false gods, or the One True God. When it is used in reference to humans, judges, angels and false gods, its plural form is easily understandable, but that is not the case when it is applied to God, seemingly in the singluar.

I believe the primary use of the plural word Elohim for divinity in Holy Writ is accounted for by the Biblical doctrine of Trinity-in-Oneness and Oneness-in-Trinity. I readily admit along with Ken Hemphill that, "the plural use of Elohim does not in and of itself confirm the existence of the Trinity. We can assert however, that the plural Elohim allows for subsequent Trinitarin revelation... Our God, the God of creation, is the one true God who contains within Himself all of divininty."
(p. 15, "Recovering and Hallowing God's Name," by Rev. Michael E. Hampton, ThD) At the time of the writing, Michael was an adjunct professor of theology at the Baptist Seminary of Jakarta, Indonesia. BTW, in the book, he goes on to say that "Elohim" is not a proper name (for God), just like "El" and "Elohe" are not proper names. He believes that "YHWH" is God's Name.

Jeff said...

Trinitarian Robert Bowman, although disagreeing with the translation given in the RSV margin, noted that on “merely grammatical considerations, the translation (‘God is your throne’ or ‘your throne is God’) is possible, and some biblical scholars have favored this rendering. According to such a reading, the point of the statement is that God is the source of Jesus’ authority.” (Robert Bowman, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, p. 107)

Hmmm...I did some research and found this:

"Heb. 1:8. The rendering, "God is your throne," is nonsense - God is not a throne, He is the one who sits on the throne! Also, "God is your throne," if taken to mean God is the source of one's rule, could be said about any angelic ruler - but Hebrews 1 is arguing that Jesus is superior to the angels."
(Bowman, Robert. "The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity." The Center for Biblical Apologetics. Blue Letter Bible. 12 Dec 2004. 2010. 23 Mar 2010.)


In Professor Jason BeDuhn's book, "Truth in Translation," he explains how most Bible translations are made for people who already believe Jesus is God so that the less probable way of translating this verse has been preferred.

In my research, I found that Jehovah's Witnesses really like that book.

Thomas A. Howe, PhD, Professor of Biblical Languages and Director of the Apologetics Program for Southern Evangelical Seminary, gives a critique of that book HERE. And Alpha & Omega Ministries has written several articles critiquing the book. They point out many problems with the book. Here are just a couple comments from one of their articles:

"His doctoral degree is in Comparative Religion. His doctoral dissertation was on Manicheaism. Indeed, that is where his specialty lies. It is important to point this out because Dr. BeDuhn denigrates the qualifications of many Old and New Testament scholars of various translations by stating that they were theologically trained and possess some adequate training in the biblical languages. When one considers the considerable weight of scholarship that was on the original translation committee of the NASB, for example, one must acknowledge that there is a significant imbalance to the words Dr. BeDuhn gave in regards to the scholarship of such projects. Dr. Moises Silva, for example, is a well-known scholar with many significant works relating to biblical linguistics and translation, hermeneutics and exegesis (some which have been standard textbooks for colleges and seminaries such as Biblical Words and their Meanings: And Introduction to Lexical Semantics)."

"Such dismissals did not serve Dr. BeDuhn well since it positioned him to a higher level of scholarship than men such as these who have written significantly on and contributed greatly to the biblical scholarship Dr. BeDuhn claims to uphold. As I have mentioned earlier, I am willing to assign Dr. BeDuhn the status of scholar, but there is nothing in his writings that have persuaded me that he is a biblical scholar, and that distinction is significant to this conversation."

"Dr. BeDuhn mis-cited or mischaracterized a secondary source, Dr. Daniel Wallace, on Sharp's rule. Dr. BeDuhn misrepresented or misunderstood (or misstated) the rule against which he was arguing. And, Dr. BeDuhn ignored parallel texts to 2 Peter 1:1 with a much closer construction and an obvious reference to a single individual (2 Pet 1:11, 2:20, 3:18), thus revealing lack of familiarity with the primary source materials."

Jeff said...

Nick,

In one of your early comments you stated:

Appreciate your comments on the "church Fathers." They certainly were not in agreement with themselves quite often. Although I do not believe that many of them understood the Trinity as modern Trinitarians do today.

It is false to imply or declare that the early Church Fathers did not believe in the concept of the Trinity. Tertullian, for example, was the one to establish a clear definition of it and even used the Latin term trinitas to define it! Further, the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. established a working definition as well, in order to provide a standard of measurement against the rivaling heresy of that time. The Athanasian Creed, written by early Church Fathers, identified Jesus as "very God of very God" and used Hebrews 1:3 to prove that Jesus was of the same "substance" (Greek: upostasews) as the Father! This is a far cry from the early Church Fathers denying such a doctrine. Lastly, why then was there a need for the Watchtower Society to detach itself from orthodox Christianity if it has rejected the doctrine of the Trinity all along?

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