Question #1: I was disappointed when I found on your site that you believe in the trinity, that Jesus is God, when in fact nowhere in the bible it even states that. I hope that you will look further into this very important matter, seeing that you may be leading many astray with the untrue doctrine.
I believe on his site as well as his yahoo group he goes into great detail on the subject and backs it up with scripture. There is no mystery. It really is plain and simple.
Response #1: Of course Jesus is God as well as man.
How else do explain this verse?
For a child is born to us, and a Son is given to us. Dominion
shall rest on his shoulder, and His name will be called "He
whose counsel is wondrous", "Mighty God", "the Father of
Eternity", "the Prince of Prosperity".
Put your faith in Jesus – He is the only way to be saved.
Thank you for your work. Can you explain the Trinity?
You are very welcome. In answer to your question, this is a subject upon which I have written very extensively, and it is also one which is to important to entrust to a short e-mail response (except to say, yes indeed the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God, part of the Godhead, enjoy the same exact divine essence even though they are three separate and distinct Persons: that is the orthodox position on this subject: "God is one in essence, three in person"). Here are the links to my main writings on this topic:
The Persons of God: The Trinity (in BB 1)
The Essence of God (in BB 1)
Jesus is God
Jesus is God and Man
The Divinity of the Spirit
Questioning the Trinity
I do hope you find these helpful. Please feel free to write back about any of this.
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
Is there a scripture that infers that sin can not be in God's presence?
Always good to hear from you. There is definitely scriptural evidence which points in that direction:
1) Psalm 5:4-5 states the matter directly:
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. NIV
2) Isaiah 6:1ff provides a powerful illustration of the argument that God is perfectly holy and perfect holiness cannot have contact with sinfulness. Consider Isaiah's reaction in verse 5: "Woe is me ... for I am a man of unclean lips . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty". Only cleansing (represented by the coal of fiery judgment to be provided by the work of Christ) allows Isaiah to remain in God's presence and continue his conversation with the Lord (also see the link in BB #1 "The Holiness of God").
3) The fact that the wicked will for all eternity be separated from the presence of God (2Thes.1:9; cf. Ps.97:5-6; Heb.12:26-29)
4) The fact that before the Father returns to the earth, the old heavens and earth will be destroyed along with all the pollution from sin therein (Rev.21:1-3; cf. 2Pet.3:10-12); contrast to the new heavens and earth "wherein righteousness dwells" (2Pet.3:13).
5) The fact that the righteous before the cross were in Hades, not allowed into the presence of the Father in the third heaven until sin had actually been atoned for at the cross (see the link: "Abraham's bosom"; cf. Rom.3:25-26).
6) The fact that now we believers do have access through Jesus' sacrifice into the presence of the Father (Rom.5:2; Eph.2:18; 3:12; Heb.13:10; 1Pet.2:5; 2:9; 3:18; Rev.1:6; 5:10; 20:6; and see the link: "The Illustration of the Tabernacle").
Praise the Lord that our sin has been covered and that we shall spend eternity in His presence!
In the One who died to cleanse us from all our sin, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As always, I am blessed with your scripture references. What a great Hope! Hope the Easter celebration with company was good. I know you are quick to respond, and lifted you in prayer just in case ( I know you needed it anyway).
God bless, and thanks,
Thanks! I am always very appreciative of prayer support! By the way, the Lord's words to Moses following the death of Nadab and Abihu whom the Lord put to death for offering "strange fire" before the Lord come to mind on this score as well:
Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke of when he said
'Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.' "
Leviticus 10:3 NIV
Will believers literally be able to "see" God the Father one day?
Revelation 22:3,4 - And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads....
Thanks in advance!
Indeed we shall be able to do so "on that Day". And not only that, there is plenty of indication from scripture that all believers currently in heaven look upon the Father, being no longer under the curse of sin, being no longer in a temporary, sin-infested body, but being in a perfect albeit interim state (Rev.6:9-11; 7:9-17). In the meantime, although we have not seen Jesus, "yet we love Him" (1Pet.1:8); and although we have not seen the Father, yet we have seen the glory of our risen Lord in the words of Him who is the Word of God – and anyone who has seen the Son has seen the Father (Jn.14:7-9). So with the Spirit in us, and with the Father and the Son making their habitation in us (Jn.14:23), we already see them with the eyes of faith through believing the truth, something that at this point is even better than any anticipatory literal glimpse of the wonders to come. See also the following link:
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I have a follow-up on this one. It says at Revelation 22:3:
".....but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it...."
I noticed that there is one throne, not two. Given that only one throne is mentioned, I believe that there will be only ONE BEING occupying that throne. The Lamb is, of course Christ. Christ is God. So this verse tells us that Christ in His will sit on THE throne. If both the Father and the Son occupy the throne, then why is it that it is the Fathers face we will see? I believe that it is God's face in the Person of the glorified Jesus Christ that will be seen. His face will be seen as He sits on His throne as the Lamb of God.
"... and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads"
Sorry if I'm wrong...I am always open to correction.
The text of Revelation 22:1 and 22:3 clearly states that throne belongs to God [the Father] and the Lamb; earlier we read that the light of eternity proceeds from the Father and the Son's glory (Rev.21:23), and it is the Father who will illuminate us in 22:5. The single throne is the same throne seen earlier in Revelation occupied by both the Father and the Son (Rev.4:2-10; 5:1-13; 6:16; 7:9-17; etc.). There is no reason to suppose that this double occupancy will come to end once New Jerusalem and the heavenly temple come down to earth. So while it is certainly true that there is much that we do not know about eternity which we should like to know, nevertheless I think that the fact that Revelation 22:4 specifies that we shall see our Lord Jesus' face should not be taken to mean that we will not see the Father's face. After all, in John's vision of the heavenly temple the Father is plainly visible and described in some detail (Rev.4:3), and the angels worship Him (suggesting they can see Him). If that is the case now for believers in temporary, interim bodies (Rev.6:10-11; 7:15-17), how much more is it not likely to be the case that we shall have personal fellowship with Him in our eternal, resurrection bodies? Rebellion and sin erected a barrier of separation between God and His creatures, but the barrier has been removed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Once all sin and rebellion have been removed from the new heavens and earth forevermore, there is no longer any reason, any rationale for us being separated any longer from the One who loves us so, enough to send His one and only Son to die in our place.
Please also see the link: in CT 2B, "The Throne"
In our dear Lord Jesus whose face we shall see forevermore.
Dear Dr Luginbill
One other question about the Spirit of God (busy with the Study of God - Theology Part 1). Rom 8:9 - Talks about the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christ – is it the Holy Spirit or does it mean he temper, or being of Christ? If we read in Gen 1:2 - ...spirit was hovering over the waters. And John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word.... is this Jesus Christ in Gen 1 hovering over the face of the earth or the Holy Spirit. In the Word it often speaks of the spirit of something, is there a way to distinguish between the Holy Spirit or just someone has a generous spirit. Spirit of God as Holy spirit or just Gods nature or essence.
Best regards and thank you for you time
I would say you are absolutely correct that the "Spirit of Christ" is the Holy Spirit. Most of these cases have to be interpreted individually but my general "rules of thumb" for you would be 1) scripture is much less inclined than contemporary secular language to use "spirit" in a metaphorical way (e.g., your example "generous spirit") without any true spiritual application whatsoever, so that, generally speaking, "spirit" usually means the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, or an important spiritual principle where the power behind the principle is the Spirit (as in "the spirit of prophecy" in Rev.19:10); 2) Christ and the Father are not generally described as "spirit" (except in principle: e.g., Jn.4:24), so that when the scriptures attribute some action to "the Spirit", the Holy Spirit is usually meant. As I say, in each case, the "proof is in the pudding" of the specific verse in question, but these are good standards to apply in most situations. A good example from the Old Testament is Isaiah 63:10-15, where in the phrase "His Spirit", "He" is the Father, and the "Spirit" is the Holy Spirit; later in the context we also see "the Arm of the Lord", a reference to Jesus Christ, the One who is always the Agent of the plan of God (please see the link: The Trinity in Isaiah 63:10-15.).
Hope this helps!
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,
Hi Dr. Luginbill:
I was troubled by a statement you made in a previous Q&A posting. You say that Jesus' prayer that His Father forgive those who were crucifying Him because they didn't know what they were doing is not genuine scripture. I had never read that before!
Do any other statements of Jesus come to mind (perhaps more commonly quoted words) that also are not genuine scripture?
Things like this always freak me out a bit because I begin to wonder how much of the Bible may be untrustworthy, though you tell your readers not to be too concerned about such "impurities" in your "Read Your Bible" essay.
Couldn't Jesus have been praying for those who would later be convicted at Pentecost?
Thank you in advance for your response.
I think your own Christian walk and spiritual growth is testimony to the fact that this particular intrusion into the Bible has not hurt your spirituality. On the one hand, the Spirit only uses the genuine truth in a person's heart in His engendering of spiritual growth, so that as long as a person is embracing all the truth they hear, a few canards which contradict it will not be able to do much damage. On the other hand, precisely because a Bible-believing person such as yourself is eagerly seeking out the truth of scripture and amassing it in the heart day by day, the weight and the weightiness of such truth provide both a barrier and a buffer to the assaults of all that is not true, no matter how subtle.
My understanding of this particular passage is based first and foremost on the textual evidence. Not only does the contemporaneous corrector of Sinaiticus, the best of the ancient manuscripts, correct the faulty inclusion in that ms., but it doesn't occur at all in some of the other major and most important witnesses (e.g., Vaticanus, D, W, Theta, and finally the Bodmer papyrus, a witness that pre-dates almost all other witnesses being generally assigned to circa 250-290 A.D.). As a result, the better editions of the NT in Greek mark the passage as spurious. According to the canons of textual criticism, one of the main issues one should consider in cases of this sort is how likely inclusion or exclusion would be if the passage were original or not. Given how famous this passage is, how pithy, and how eminently quotable (it is perhaps the most quoted verse in the NT), I cannot think of any good reason why a copyist would ever leave it out, either why he should want to (as I mentioned in the previous e-mail, the tendency would be to want to make Jesus' last words look at least "as good" as Stephen's), or how in the world he would accidentally overlook such a famous passage. Thus, the absence of the passage in some of the best and earliest witnesses is overwhelming in my view. On the other hand, the reasons why one would want to put such a passage in or defend it later once it had been put in are equally obvious: "Jesus should not look less forgiving than Stephen, and if it isn't recorded in the Bible that He said something like this, well, He probably did so why not put the sentiment in here?" I believe that the fact that all of the major modern English versions print this passage even though their policy in other places is to print what is clearly the original Greek text proves my point: these versions and their sponsors are worried about a reaction from their readers since "everybody knows that Jesus said this". The very emotional attachment to this verse means that it is equally difficult to speak against its validity. But my policy is to go with the truth no matter what the consequences. The verse isn't biblical, and we have to start with that. But once we do put scripture first, we find, I believe, that our faith is strengthened and our understanding of the truth deepened. The problem with having our Lord make this pronouncement He did not make is addressed in the posting:
But what the inventor of this false verse failed to grasp was the fact that, indeed, while Jesus could die for the sins of the world, the one thing He couldn't do was to die for the unbelief of the world. Unbelief is the "unpardonable sin" (see the links: "The Unpardonable Sin" and "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death"), and for Christ to have exonerated unbelief in any part would have had repercussions throughout the entire plan of God which are unfathomable (and impossible because, ultimately, such blanket forgiveness would in effect compromise the righteousness of God, something that can never be).
No follower of Jesus can fail to understand and appreciate His boundless mercy and the fact that the forgiveness of our sins is based entirely upon His work on the cross in dying for them. Jesus could and did forgive sins – "the Son of man has the authority on earth to forgive sins" (Lk.5:24). But He did not forgive everyone's sins, only the sins of those who turned to Him in faith. That is the point. For Jesus to have granted blanket forgiveness, even to those who firmly rejected Him and always would, would have been to eliminate the need for faith in salvation, to compromise the righteousness of God which demands satisfaction for sin through appropriating the work of Christ through faith, and essentially to render the cross pointless – if a person could be forgiven without accepting what Jesus did for us on it. This passage eliminates the issue of free will in time and the whole rationale for the creation of the human race in the first place.
As to the other part of your question, the other most famous case of this sort of false but very popular inclusion of non-biblical material into the New Testament is the pericope in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery (the evidence is overwhelming that the entire passage was added very late in the middle ages and yet it is printed as text in most Bibles). I find it extremely interesting and of no small moment that both of these passages have to do with what the Bible actually teaches about sin and our need for a Savior. In the Luke 23 passage, the moral is that no matter what you do or say think or feel about Jesus and the cross, it's OK because Jesus forgives you anyway even if you reject Him, even if you crucify Him (giving false hope to those who refuse to believe). In the John 8 passage, the moral is that, since everyone is a sinner, no one should ever be considered guilty by any of us since Jesus forgives us all equally without question before the fact of any process of judgment. In reality, or course, our Lord forgave those who looked for forgiveness and were thus willing to put their faith in Him for salvation. Notice that this essential distinction is not made in "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". So in both cases we have elements of truth attractively packaged (Jesus forgiving us in Luke 24; Jesus reminding us that we are all sinners in John 8), but in each case we then have a follow-on distortion of the underlying main issues of truth upon which the entire gospel depends: ignorance will not be an excuse for rejecting Jesus Christ, and universal sinfulness will not be an excuse for failing to accept Jesus' work and stand on it in the judgment instead of our own. Both passages confuse the issue of free will. We are sinners. We need forgiveness. But these facts do not excuse us from facing the main issue of life: will we accept the solution God at the greatest cost to Himself and His Son offers us . . . or not? These spurious inclusions suggest that it doesn't matter when in fact nothing matters more. Rather than weakening my own faith in the inerrancy of scripture in its original text, and of its truth, properly understood, weeding out such assaults on the Bible by the evil one has actually significantly strengthened that faith.
Finally, I would say to you that there is as I have said before no reason to fear that this sort of thing runs amok in English versions of the Bible because it does not. Generally speaking, the underlying meaning of most texts and their validity as being a genuine part of the Bible can be ascertained with any standard English version (above 95% and more if one is in the habit of using multiple versions and reading the notes most study Bibles give). In those very few places where there are problems and the problems are significant, one has a right to expect that the pastor/teacher who is exegeting these matters will make such things clear to all who are genuinely interested in knowing the whole truth and nothing but the truth – even if some times it can be a bit uncomfortable.
Thank you for this question. As always, I commend your dedication to the Word of God and the service of Jesus Christ.
In the One who did indeed die that all may be forgiven "if only they might grope for Him and find Him – for He is not far from any one of us" (Acts 17:27).
In an email question that you answered on your website about "salvation on the battlefield", you mentioned that the phrase in Luke, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do", was not actually in the earliest manuscripts. I've also heard this, but instances like these have always bothered me, I suppose because I grew up hearing that every single word in the Bible was inspired by God and that everything is unquestionably true. So it has always been a disturbance to me when I am reminded that the Bible is not pure in the sense that human error and corruption hasn't changed it from its original state. Does this bother you? How have you come to terms with it?
My girlfriend, who isn't as experienced with the Bible as I am, and I have been reading a one-year Bible together, and I'm concerned about when she has questions about the integrity of the texts. How am I to explain the discrepancies like that one above, and how am I to explain that even though instances like that occur, the Bible is, as I truly believe, still completely reliable? And being an anthropology minor with emphasis in archaeology, I also have questions about the archaeological record and how it relates to the creation story. Do you know much about this? I just want to briefly know your thoughts.
I'm always glad to hear from you. To take the first part of your question first, far from detracting from my appreciation of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, the incredible degree of accuracy possible to achieve in respect to establishing the original text actually fills me with the greatest confidence: the Lord has made it eminently possible for anyone who is truly interested in doing so to find out precisely what He has placed in His Word for us – and precisely what it means. Not that this means it is a simple task or one which does not consume a substantial amount of time – but even here there is a clear purpose. If everything were too easy, how would the wheat be winnowed from the chaff? Just as after salvation the road to Zion is not wide and level but constrained and steep with many tests of faith along the way precisely in order to test and to build that faith, to demonstrate its true quality, and to bring glory to God (cf. 1Pet.1:3-9), so it is in terms of the text of scripture, the meaning of scripture, and the complexities of truth, of doctrine, which scripture contains. The fact that everything is not immediately and patently obvious strikes me as being entirely what anyone who has lived a Christian life should expect. In this world of sin and corruption, we have to earn a living by the sweat of our brow; we should certainly not expect the Word to yield up its wonderfully nutritious and delicious fruit without some serious efforts on our part (cf. "Let those elders who lead well be held worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and in teaching." 1Tim.5:17). And just as in agriculture or any other human pursuit the greater and the better the effort, generally speaking the greater and the better the result, so we should expect that in biblical exegesis and the search for truth through the scriptures the principle of "for them that honour me I will honour," will obtain (1Sam.2:30). It is the quality of our work that will be tested on that day of days (1Cor.3:5-15). The fact that this passage you mention and a few of its ilk are so easily ferreted out as being illegitimate only confirms for me that if a person is only willing to do a mildly conscientious job of work, all the wonders of the Word are close at hand. The harvest is not hard to obtain, but planting and watering and cultivating do have to come first.
As a Classicist, I deal with ancient texts all the time, and I can tell you from personal experience that the New Testament is absolutely the best preserved ancient text and, in my view of it, the one of which we are the most sure of being able to establish the original manuscript. It's purer than Ivory soap, and the places where there are any serious questions that makes any significant doctrinal differences are very few and far between. Given what I know about God's love for us and about His ability to do absolute anything, I would say that even in those very few cases where there is any question, if a person really has a heart for God and pursues the truth of those few points faithfully, even those small areas will yield up their fruit to the persistent cultivator.
Not to put too fine a point on it but I would say that to the extent that there is a problem in present day church visible it is not that there is any lack of certainty about what the Bible reads in its original languages; rather, the real problem is twofold: 1) a lack of desire on the part of most Christians to know in any detail what God says in His Word, and 2) a failure on the part of most who purport to "teach" the Bible to do so with any depth. C.I. Scofield, a man of no particular specialized biblical training and working strictly from the English of the KJV, came up with a wealth of good doctrinal information that many people still find incredibly valuable. One of the great ironies of the state of things at the start of the 21st century is that we have more information more readily available about the original text of scripture, the original language of scripture, and more availability of tools of every sort to interpret scripture than ever before in human history, and yet the preparation, diligence, and faithfulness with which so-called teachers of the Bible are approaching scripture is not only far inferior to past generations but appears to me to be degenerating by the day. So from my point of view, the presence of textual notes in study Bibles that invite alternative translations and goad readers to want to know more about "what the Bible is really saying here" are very good things precisely because they ought to lead those with genuine interest in all the Word has to say to find a good and true source of Bible teaching, or, in the case of men so gifted, to commit to doing the hard work of acquiring the tools and skills to find out for themselves. There is no infallible pope who might give us "the answers" and liberate us from the necessity of asking hard questions, doing hard work, and finding out the real answers which even when "hard" themselves are glorious. The truth is a citadel which must be stormed, and in this respect is identical to any other noble pursuit in the Christian life, for all worthwhile ministries involve sharing the sufferings of Christ and facing the opposition of the evil one.
For more on the purity of the scripture from a popular apologetic point of view, you might try my fellow Talbot grad Josh McDowell's books: Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. For a more scholarly but also more secular approach, Bruce Metzger's The Text of the New Testament is also very useful.
On archeology and creation, I would be happy to discuss any of that with you. Most of the so-called "problems" are explainable by correctly interpreting what Genesis has to say in regard to the "Genesis gap". Here is what I have written on the subject:
"The Problem of Science and the Bible" (in SR #5)
The Genesis Gap (part 2 of SR)
Science and the Bible
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you for being so generous with your time. I truly appreciate the insight you've given me. If you don't mind, I was hoping you might be able to answer some questions I have or point me to a good resource:
1) In John 20:28, Thomas' confession (in my opinion) would have been considered worthy of a rebuke by Jesus had he not been addressing him. Is there any historical evidence that you know of supporting that it was OK for a Jew to go around addressing others as God/god or to make exclamations like we do today (OH MY GOD!)? Since God is not the name of our God, would it have been considered blasphemous?
2) If John 1:1 had contained the definite article, what would the result have been? Why is it translated in the particular way that it is if we are not to understand that the Word is being identified as God, but with God?
3) In Colossians 2:9 The fulness of God - that word theotes says it means the 'state of being god' - if we then are made full in Christ, can it be said that we have the fulness of theotes as well?
4) John 17 where Jesus prays that we will be one as he is one with the Father. What is the significance, if any, of the use of the word 'one'. I know that the word 'one' in Hebrew that is used with God implies compound unity. Is there anything I should know about how Jesus shows himself to be one with the Father that distinguishes the way in which we are one with God?
Thank you so much and may the Lord of heaven and earth bless you richly.
It's always a pleasure. On your questions . . .
1) Once Thomas saw Jesus in the resurrected flesh, he came to fully understand that Jesus was indeed not merely a man (and He is a genuine human being), but also truly God, so his response was appropriate, even laudatory, not the basis for any censure (compare similar correct recognition of Jesus' divinity by Nathaniel: Jn.1:49; and Peter: Matt.16:16). If you are asking specifically about the word "God", that is of course an English word, used here in context to translate the Greek word for God, theos. Except for a few phrases (like Emmanuel), the Hebrew word for God ('elohiym) is almost always translated in the Greek New Testament by the Greek word theos (while "Lord" [the tetragrammaton] is kyrios). It is possible that this conversation actually took place in Hebrew or in Aramaic – or even in Greek (since these men spoke all three languages and used them all very frequently). But whatever the language in which these words were originally spoken, because the inspired text of the Bible was written in Greek, this would have been the way Thomas' words were reported in any case. So this is an entirely normal and regular usage of the language, and does definitely show not only that Jesus is God, but that Thomas is recognizing Him as such here.
2) The Word, Jesus Christ, is God; and so He has also always been "with God . . . [the Father]". God is three in Person, one in essence (that's the shortest way to describe the Trinity). I have written about these topics quite a bit. Please see the following links (and do let me know if they don't answer your questions about this important verse):
What does "the Word was with God" mean in John 1:1-2?
Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?
The Trinity (in BB #1)
3) All of the fullness of Divinity or "divine essence" (theotes) dwells in Jesus "bodily" because He, uniquely in the universe, is both God and man. We believers do partake of the divine nature (2Pet.1:4) in the sense that we are now one body with the divine Christ forever. Colossians 2:9 expresses Christ's divinity. The next verse does not say that we have divine fullness but that we are "fulfilled" in Jesus (which is quite a bit different). Paul is using this set of words here, pleroma and pleroo, precisely because they were "buzz" words used by the Gnostics, a group of pseudo-Christians who were attempting to subvert the faith of the believers in Asia Minor to whom Paul is writing. For these Gnostics, the pleroma was the "Universe" or "god" or something of the sort depending upon which of the many evolutions of this heresy is meant. Paul is essentially saying here that the "Fullness" is not a god, but that the "fullness of what is really God" belongs to Christ in full measure even as He has become a man as well as God; and further that we can only find our true full-fillment in this life in Christ. This is a direct shot across the bow at those in Colossae who were attempting to suggest that there was some common ground between the aforementioned heresy and the truth of the Bible.
4) The Trinity are "one" in essence, but three in Person. They are "one" in essence in a way that we find it hard to imagine. For example, all human beings have the same essential essence (body and spirit), but in no way can be said to be "one" as a result (for our "persons" are not anywhere near unified, especially when compared to the perfect unity of the Trinity). In 1st Corinthians 3:8 Paul says that the person who waters and the person who plants "are one"; what he means in that verse is not that evangelists and pastors cease to have their own personalities, but that they are both without (or hopefully without) any deviation of intention as they are both giving their all to in trying to further God's plan. They are "one" in purpose. The Trinity have never and could never have a disagreement, so that this helps us understand in some small way their "oneness". Jesus in His prayer for us wants us to have this same perfect unity of faith (and that unity of faith is a very common theme in the NT: e.g., Eph.4:3; 4:13; cf. 1Jn.1:3). If we truly love Him, we should all want exactly the same thing, that is, the first best will of God for all, or, as I often put it, belief in Jesus, spiritual growth, and spiritual production, with each and everyone of us striving for the truth in a cooperative manner and helping others to do likewise. Just because reality falls far short of the mark, does not diminish either the genuineness of our Lord's prayer or the importance of us all doing our utmost to bring it to pass. We can't be divine and "one" with the "unique" God on a level of equality, but as we share in Jesus we also share in all that He is, including this mandate of unified purpose for every Christian life. For we are indeed uniquely His, and as His Bride we are thus "one" with Him. And as Jesus' "oneness" with God in His humanity essentially reflects His complete acceptance and perfect execution of God's plan for His life on earth, that too is something we can emulate, if not perfectly duplicate.
Please feel free to write me back about any of these points.
In our one unique Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thank you for your insight. I will look at those links as soon as I can. But if you will oblige me, I realized after reading what I'd written that I could have been more clear.
1) My conversation with this JW has been also discussing Thomas' confession. He is trying to argue that it was quite common in those days for others to be called god. Of course, I know this is not true, most especially for a Jew like Thomas, and also because Thomas called him MY God. I have said it is wrong to think that Thomas would say that to Christ without a rebuke if it weren't true. Plus, I've pointed out that in this book of John, either John or Jesus clarifies things that are misunderstood. So that if Thomas had been addressing the Father also, it would have been made clear. I've asked him for proof that it was common for devout Jews to go around calling men God, let alone MY God and in turn, he has asked me to prove that they didn't. I offer as proof that there is nothing in the Bible, short of Psalm 45:6 that shows a man addressing another as God. I told him the Psalms were not generally taken to be part of their law and that a song is hardly an example of it being commonplace (especially since he couldn't find anything in the NT for support). Oh, and he is using 1 Sam 20:12 to say it is identical to John 20:28.
My dilemma here is that I really don't know where I'd begin to find out this information, what resources I could turn to that would tell me what practices were common in Jesus' day.
2) He is also stating that the because John 1:1 lacks the definite article in v1c it means that it is only identifying the nature of the Word, which to him means merely that he was a spirit creature (they cite the scripture that says "God is spirit" for their reasoning). What I'm really wanting to know is, if v1c had been written ho theos, how would that have changed the meaning of the passage?
3) He is stating that theotes only means that Christ WAS GIVEN the qualities of God, and that it is a -THS noun that is abstract and only points to qualities. He then says we have been given the same fullness in v10. Of course this is tragically flawed, but since I know nothing of the Greek, I don't know how to respond to this. I believe he used theois and theoites (sp.?) as examples.
4) When Jesus speaks of being "one" with the Father, does it represent a compound unity? hen and heis I think are the words, but I haven't studies their usage in the NT to see if this is compound as the Hebrew 'echad' is in the OT.
Thanks so much. I can't tell you what a blessing it is to correspond with you. I've only been a Christian for a short while and I am struggling in knowing how to research the things I want to know. Because I was raised JW, I hate to just take anyone's word for anything - I need to read it and understand it for myself, thus most of my time is spend in scripture and prayer. Commentaries frighten me, but I've found them to give some good insight - it is alarming in how many disagree though. I used every translation of the Bible I can find and I use my Bible dictionary and Vincent's word studies in the NT. Other than these things, I'm not sure what else I should be using. Any feedback on the things I've said here is appreciated my friend.
Have a good day in the Lord.
Hello again. I'm happy to reply.
1) No reasonable reader of the Bible could honestly believe that "Lord and God" could be generally applied to anyone. These two words are the Greek equivalent of the two holiest Hebrew names for God, "Lord" in particular being a reference to the tetragrammaton "YHVH". If the writer of this gospel didn't want us to think that Thomas was calling Jesus divine, he would never have used these words. On the other hand, if Thomas did recognize that Jesus was divine, there was no stronger way to express it. These are the words he would have to use (there are no stronger ones) and these are the words he did use. Your analysis is correct.
2) Here is something I have written on this before which I hope will address the issue for you:
In verse one of John 1:1-2, the clause "the Word was God" cannot legitimately be translated "the Word was a God". First, earlier in the verse, the apostle John had used the definite article with the Greek word theos (θεός) to refer to the Father according to customary usage ("the [sc. Father] God"), and so to use the identical combination again to refer to the Word would be potentially confusing, making it seem as if "the Word" was really identical to "the [sc. Father] God", one of the very points that John is disproving here. Secondly, Greek does not possess an indefinite article ("a/an"), but it does have an indefinite pronoun, tis (τις), meaning "a certain one" – the very word that a Greek reader would expect here if the point was that Christ was somehow a god, but not really "God". So John only had three ways to write this: 1) the Word was "the God" (but this would mean that there was no real distinction between the Father and Christ); 2) the Word was "a certain god" (but this would mean that Christ was a lesser sort of divinity, not God on the level of the Father); or 3) the Word was "God" – what John actually did write, thus fully and unambiguously attributing deity to the Word as distinct from the Father.
You might also want to look at the following links:
Jesus is God
What does "the Word was with God" mean in John 1:1-2?
3) Your analysis is correct. This person is just using a minuscule knowledge of Greek to give a false impression of authority. Notice that there is no notion of Christ being "given" in this verse. This verse says He "possesses" theotes = divinity. And it is pretty clear if we say someone possesses the "fullness of divinity" that we are not only saying they are divine but actually emphatically stating that this is so. That is what the Greek says here.
4) The "oneness" is the same "oneness" we see in 1st Corinthians 3:8 where Paul says that the person who waters and the person who plants "are one". Paul is not saying that he and Apollos are really one and the same person but that they have one and the same purpose. The Trinity is "one" in essence. But they are "three" in Person. This is how they are described throughout the Bible.
Please see the links:
Jesus in the Old Testament
The Trinity in Isaiah
The One true God and Trinity in the OT
The Hebrew word for 'one' (`echadh) and the uniqueness of God.
Nor is there any mysterious secret hiding in the word "heis/hen", which is simply the Greek numeral "one". The main difference between Greek and English usage is that the Greek word declines (i.e., we can differentiate genders). Without question, the unity of action/purpose/will on the part of the Trinity is more united than in our present state we can properly appreciate, but that does not in any way take away from the fact that scripture consistently presents God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit (again, the main link for this is "The Trinity").
Given my own past experience with this group, I am very skeptical of the chances for success in changing anyone's mind, but nothing is impossible with God and your own personal experience certainly is proof of that. I admire your determination and I wish you success.
Please feel free to write me back about any of this.
To the glory of the person/name of the Father, and the person/name of the Son, and the person/name of the Holy Spirit,
I've attached a link to the response my JW friend gave and I was hoping you might want to take a look. He is responding to your posts in the link you provided above, "Jesus is God".
Exodus 7:1 shows that the term 'ELOHIM' is applied to Moses without him being equated to God. As regards to whom is being addressed as ELOHIM/QEOS in Psalms 45 (LXX), it is Jewish tradition that this verse is written concerning a human king (probably King Solomon). My point, therefore, was that if one interprets the Greek of Hebrews 1:8 as a vocative, one can equally do so concerning the LXX's rendering of Psalm 45:6 (since most translations render this verse as a vocative). These examples are not grammatically parallel to that of Psalm 45:6 (LXX) and so are not valid. This is a bad assumption, since I have not addressed the Hebrew text. Luginbill seems to have overlooked the fact Paul quotes the LXX (and not the Hebrew text, and alters only the last portion of the Greek text--'forever and ever'), which is significant, since the definite article is in the Greek text of Psalm 45 in the LXX (while it is lacking in the Hebrew text). It must also be mentioned that the only way that Paul (or, I should say, the translators of the LXX) could've used QEOS here as a vocative without the article is if the noun QEOS was not in the nominative case. (The conclusion from this verse that Jesus was God incarnate is, therefore, a false one.) I have no problem discussing anything within its context. As far as Hebrews is concerned, the fact that God addresses Jesus as QEOS at Hebrews 1:8 (as regards his divine nature) and then states that this QEOS has a QEOS who appointed him as such (because of his human nature) makes no sense because the point of Hebrews 1 is to show Jesus' superiority over the angels. If Jesus were hO QEOS (God, and God in the flesh), he would've already been superior to the angels (no matter what). More than that, the division of Christ's natures is not found in this passage or any other passage in the Bible. To divide Christ by 'natures' is to divide Christ (into more than one person). The Bible never speaks of Jesus living (or dying) as regards either his divine or his human nature only--but as a person/being.
I had a look. I don't what much more I can say since this discussion is in danger of passing the point of having any basis in honest discourse, but I will have a go.
1) "not grammatical": The examples in the link are from the Bible. All real language has "grammar"; grammar is a system of describing language. Therefore all language is "grammatical". These parallels are exact examples of what the person claimed did not exist. Sounds to me like the person was surprised that there are examples which contradict his/her position and just doesn't want to respond. This is a "non-response response" on his/her part, so my point stands.
2) Exodus 7:1 says Moses will be like God, not that he is God. There is a big difference between saying "it's hot as Hades" and "it is Hades". My point stands that people are never described as 'elohiym or yhvh. As to the "Jewish tradition", well of course other groups who don't accept the Trinity or the divinity of Jesus will have similarly unorthodox takes on this passage. But the writer of Hebrews, a believer writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, certainly thinks this verse applies to the Messiah as being God. Of course this is a vocative, but it is a vocative with the definite article. But even if the article were missing (which it is not), Jesus would still be addressed here as God, since this would be a direct translation of the Hebrew 'elohiym from Psalm 45:6. Q.E.D.
3) This is not an assumption. This is a principle of Hebrew grammar. I am sure it would be convenient for the person's false argument to ignore the Hebrew text but since it is relevant to the Greek text which translates it, it is certainly legitimate to bring up.
4) First of all, since this person has not interviewed Paul, it is not really possible to know whether Paul is quoting the LXX or translating from the Hebrew text on his own probably from memory as an ex-Rabbi (especially since as the quotation is not precise). But it doesn't matter. Since Paul often translates the Hebrew anew, he certainly did not feel any compunction about changing that text to something that better reflected the Hebrew when and if he saw fit. Thus the inclusion of the article is significant. This quote in Hebrews 1:8 addresses the Messiah as Ho Theos, God, and there is no way around that. There was no way in Greek for Paul to make it more definite (i.e., you can't put two definite articles in a row in Greek any more than you can in English), but there certainly was a way for him to make it less definite had he wanted to. If Paul had been trying to make the point that this person thinks he was making, why didn't Paul leave out the definite article? Nothing constrained him to include it. Indeed he adds a word (kai) which is not in the LXX. But as I say, even if this person re-wrote the text to exclude the article, we would still have the Messiah being addressed as 'elohiym, something scripture never does in regard to mere human beings on an individual basis.
5) Here the person introduces a new (and disjointed) argument. As mentioned before, it is very typical of individuals whose only aim is to win an argument and not really to have an open discussion to "shift" the ground of the argument when things start to go against them. It is a very common debate technique.
As to the argument itself, to distill it, it says in essence, "because it makes no sense in terms of my theology that Jesus could be God and at the same time have God appoint him as Messiah, therefore he cannot be God". But of course this situation presents no problem for those who accept the truth of the Trinity and the unique nature of the Messiah who is both eternally divine and truly human since the incarnation. This is the great wonder of the ages. For without God becoming man in the Person of Jesus Christ, there was no way for sin to be atoned for, and we would all be headed to the lake of fire forever. That God should suffer for us is amazing – and was only possible if He took on true humanity. That is key and an important theme throughout the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb.2:18; 5:8; 9:26; 13:12), and it is His humanity which is the object of His appointment as Messiah, not His divinity.
Hebrews addresses a variety of heresies in a Jewish context, and the point of this early part of the discussion in Hebrews is to refute any notion that Jesus, who is clearly more than a mere man, is not equal to God but really only on a par with the angels (who are temporarily superior to men). So the argument really cuts the other way. By demonstrating that Jesus is superior to angels, the only higher step is God. Thus we would expect to find in chapter one some clear statement of divinity, which we do in Heb.1:8, and some prior statement of divinity and we do in v.3 where we find that God [the Father] created the universe ("ages" = time and space) through Jesus. Since someone would have to be existing before time and space to create time and space, Jesus clearly is portrayed in Heb.1:3 as divine. The discussion about His superiority to angels then proceeds from that pre-established position (notice that the discussion begins in the very next verse, v.4). Having established that Jesus is divine, it is easy to knock down the false doctrine circulating in Jewish-Christians circles at that time which claimed that Jesus was somehow less than the Father, maybe only like an angel. Paul says here in effect, "no, He's divine and therefore superior to angels, and on top of that everything else scripture says about Him prophetically demonstrates both that divinity and that superiority to angels".
Hope this is of some help.
In our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is God blessed forever.