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Christology Questions IX:

Christ and His Church

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Question #1: 

Hello Professor,

I apologise for the delay in response. As for the study, as I'm now progressing with the response on the cult of Mary, I have revisited some of the references on the deity of Christ. I wanted to ask you about Titus 2:13, because there seems to be a general consensus among the commentators that it is not one person of our Lord who is in view at the end of the verse, even despite there being only one article in the text. What is your take on the issue? Could you briefly comment on the points made by Meyer:

The following points may be urged in favour of distinguishing two subjects:—(1) In no single, passage is Θεός connected directly with ησο ς Χριστός as an attribute (see my commentary on 2 Peter 1:1); i.e. there never occurs in the N. T. the simple construction ὁ Θεὸς ἡμ ν ησ. Χρ., or ὁ Θεὸς ησο ς Χρ., or ησ. Χρ. ὁ Θεὸς ἡμ ν, whereas κύριος and σωτήρ are often enough construed in this way. (2) The collocation of God (Θεός) and Christus as two subjects is quite current, not only in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:21; 1 Timothy 6:13; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 1:4), but also in all the epistles of the N. T., Pauline or not, so much so, that when in some few passages the turn of the expression is such as to make Θεός refer grammatically to Christ also, these passages have to be explained in accordance with the almost invariable meaning of the expression. (3) The addition of the adjective μεγάλου indicates that Θεο is to be taken as an independent subject, especially when it is observed how Paul in the First Epistle to Timothy uses similar epithets to exalt God’s glory; comp. 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 6:15-16, especially Titus 1:11 : ἡ δόξα το μακαρίου Θεο . It is true the expression ὁ μέγας Θεός is not found in the N. T., except in the Rec. of Revelation 19:17, but it occurs frequently in the O. T.: Deuteronomy 6:21; Deuteronomy 10:17; Nehemiah 9:32; Daniel 2:45; Daniel 9:4.[8] For the unity of the subject only one reason can be urged with any show of force, viz. that elsewhere the word ΠΙΦΆΝΕΙΑ is only used in reference to Christ; but Erasmus long ago pointed out that it does not stand here ΠΙΦ. ΤΟ ΘΕΟ , but Τ ς ΔΌΞΗς ΤΟ ΘΕΟ .

There seems to be more difference of opinion with 2 Peter 1:1. Meyer again proposes that two persons are referred to:

το Θεο ἡμ. καὶ σωτ ρος . Χρ.] Many interpreters (Beza, Hemming, Gerhard, and more recently Schott and Hofmann) take το Θεο ἡμ. and σωτ ρος as a double attribute of ησο Χρ. Others (Wiesinger, Brückner, Fronmüller, Steinfass) separate the two expressions, and understand το Θεο ἡμ ν of God the Father; and rightly so, although in the similar combination, 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 3:18, there be but one subject. For Θεός differs from κύριος in this, that it is never conjoined with Χριστός as a direct attribute, whilst κύριος is very often thus employed, as in the very next verse; see my commentary to Titus 2:13. There need be no hesitation in taking the article which stands before Θεο with σωτ ρος also, as a second subject,—a statement which Schott and Hofmann have wrongly called in question; cf. (Winer, p. 118 [E. T. 162]) Buttmann, p. 84 ff.

But Pulpit, for example, interprets otherwise, even through it is acknowledged that "the absence of a second article does not make it absolutely certain that the two words "God" and "Saviour" must be taken as united under the one common article":

According to the strict grammatical construction of the passage, "God" and "Saviour" are both predicates of "Jesus Christ," as in Titus 2:13. The First and Second Persons of the blessed Trinity are distinguished in the following verse, and this has led several commentators to think that the same distinction should be made here. It is true that the absence of a second article does not make it absolutely certain that the two words "God" and "Saviour" must be taken as united under the one common article, and so regarded as two predicates of "Jesus Christ;" but it furnishes at least a very strong presumption in favour of this view, especially as there is not here, as there is in Titus 2:13, any word like ἡμ ν to give definiteness to σωτ ρος (see Bishop Ellicott's note on Titus 2:13, and, on the other side, Alford's notes on both passages). The Lord Jesus is called "our Saviour" five times in this Epistle. The word does not occur in the First Epistle; but in St. Peter's speech (Acts 5:31) the apostle declared to the Sanhedrin that God had exalted Jesus "to be a Prince and a Saviour."

With regard to 1 John 5:20, some commentators admit that it's impossible to decide whether Christ or God the Father are referred to at the end of the verse - "This is the true God, and eternal life". Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges lists the arguments for both sides:

This is the true God] It is impossible to determine with certainty whether ‘This’ refers to the Father, the principal substantive of the previous sentence, or to Jesus Christ, the nearest substantive. That S. John teaches the Divinity of Jesus Christ both in Epistle and Gospel is so manifest, that a text more or less in favour of the doctrine need not be the subject of heated controversy. The following considerations are in favour of referring ‘This’ to Christ. 1. Jesus Christ is the subject last mentioned. 2. The Father having been twice called ‘the true One’ in the previous verse, to proceed to say of Him ‘This is the true God’ is somewhat tautological. 3. It is Christ who both in this Epistle (1 John 1:2, 1 John 5:12) and also in the Gospel (John 11:25, John 14:6) is called the Life. 4. S. Athanasius three times in his Orations against the Arians interprets the passage in this way, as if there was no doubt about it (III. xxiv. 4, xxv. 16; IV. ix. 1). The following are in favour of referring ‘This’ to the Father. 1. The Father is the leading subject of all that follows ‘understanding.’ 2. To repeat what has been already stated and add to it is exactly S. John’s style. He has spoken of ‘Him that is true’: and he now goes on ‘This (true One) is the true God and eternal life.’ 3. It is the Father who is the source of that life which the Son has and is (John 5:26). 4. John 7:3 supports this view. 5. The Divinity of Christ has less special point in reference to the warning against idols: the truth that God is the true God is the basis of the warning against false gods: comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:9. But see the conclusion of the note on ‘from idols’ in the next verse: see also note k in Lect. v. of Liddon’s Bampton Lectures.

Meyer, however, argues for this clause referring to God the Father:

The dispute cannot be settled on grammatical lines, for ο τος can be referred both to τὸν ἀληθινόν[334] and also to τ υἱ ; the addition: καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος, seems to support the latter reference, for Christ, in the Gospel of John, calls Himself precisely ἡ ζωή, and also in the beginning of this Epistle it is the Son of God that is to be understood by ἡ ζωή and ἡ ζωὴ ἡ αἰώνιος. The former reference, on the other hand, is supported by the expression: ὁ ἀληθινὸς Θεός; for, in the first place, it is more natural to understand here the same subject as is previously designated by ὁ ἀληθινὸς, than any other; and, in the second place, the Father and the Son, God and Jesus Christ, are always so definitely distinguished throughout the whole Epistle that it would be strange if, at the close of it, and, moreover, just after both subjects have been similarly distinguished immediately before, Christ—without further explanation, too—should be described as ὁ ἀληθινὸς Θεός, especially as this designation is never ascribed to the Son in the writings of John, definitely though the divinity of the Son is taught in them.[335] To this it may be added that, after John has brought out as the peculiar characteristic of the Christian’s life, of which he partakes in the Son of God, the Ε ΝΑΙ Ν Τ ΛΗΘΙΝ , the clause in question has its right meaning only if it states who that ΛΗΘΙΝΌς is, namely that he is the ΛΗΘΙΝ ς ΘΕ ς ΚΑ ΖΩ Α ΏΝΙΟς. Now, though elsewhere it is only Christ that is called exactly ΖΩΉ, yet He has the ΖΩΉ—according to His own words, John 5:26—only from the Father, who originally has the life in Himself ( ΠΑΤ Ρ ΧΕΙ ΖΩ Ν Ν ΑΥΤ ), and may therefore be called ΖΩ Α ΏΝΙΟς no less than the Son. Besides, it is to be observed that ΖΩ Α ΏΝ. is here used without the article, so that the expression comes under the same category as the expressions: ΘΕΌς ΣΤΙ Φ ς (1 John 1:5), ΓΆΠΗ (1 John 4:16), ΠΝΕ ΜΑ (Gospel of John 4:24). The objection that “it would be a feeble repetition, after the Father had twice been calledΛΗΘΙΝΌς, again to say: this is the ΛΗΘΙΝ ς ΘΕΌς” (Ebrard, similarly Weiss; also Schulze, Menschensohn, etc. p. 263[336]), is the less valid, as the apostle has already in view the warning of 1 John 5:21, and by Ν Τ Υ ΑὐΤΟ . ΧΡ. it is indicated that He alone is the true God, with whom we are in fellowship in Christ: it is only the Father of Jesus Christ that is the true God. The connection of the words: ΚΑ ΖΩ Α ΏΝΙΟς, as a second predicate, with Ο ΤΟς, has appeared a difficulty to many commentators. Socinus wanted to take Ο ΤΟς = ΤΟ ΤΟ, with reference to the whole preceding thought, and then he paraphrases ΤΟ ΤΟ by Ν ΤΟΎΤ and interprets: in eo, quod diximus, est ille verus Deus et vita aeterna; nam quatenus quis habet et cognoscit Christi Patrem et ipsum Christum, habet et illum verum Deum et aeternam vitam; similarly Ewald, when he paraphrases: “this, both these things together, that we know and that we are all this, this is the true God and eternal life.” The arbitrariness of this explanation is self-evident. Others, as Clarke, Benson, Lücke (in his 1st ed.), supply before ΖΩ Α ΏΝ. an Α ΤΗ ΣΤΊΝ out of Ο ΤΌς ΣΤΙΝ, referring Α ΤΗ either to Υ Ός or to the idea Ε ΝΑΙ Ν Τ ΛΗΘ. Lücke has rightly withdrawn this explanation in his 2d edition as unwarrantable, and correctly says: “ΚΑ ΖΩ Α ΏΝ. can certainly not be grammatically connected directly with Ο ΤΟς;” Lücke, however, thinks that there is an ellipsis in the expression, and that it is to be interpreted: “this … the true God is eternal life, which can either be understood of the fact that God is the cause and source of eternal life, or thus: His fellowship is eternal life.”

But why could not John have described by ζωὴ αἰών the substantial character of the divine nature? If God has ΖΩΉ in Himself (John 5:26), namely the ΖΩΉ which He has given to the Son, and which believers possess through the Son (John 5:24), then God in His very nature is ζωή, and ΖΩΉ Α ΏΝΙΟς too. As John mentions this as the characteristic of God’s nature, there certainly lies in this the indication that God is the source of life for us.

Response #1: 

I'm happy to hear of your progress in these matters, my friend. I have had a busy time of it the past few weeks also, and I know very well that this happens to others too who have "real jobs" in this world. It's always good to hear from you.

As to the passages, in terms of Titus 2:13, the passage clearly says "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". Is the phraseology somewhat different than what is found elsewhere? Perhaps. But the passage says what it says. And there may be other reasons why the phraseology is not typical other than assuming it doesn't actually mean what it says. My translation:

[W]e who are awaiting the blessed hope, namely the epiphany of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (i.e., when we too will be resurrected in glory when He appears).
Titus 2:13

Taken in context, I would suggest that one reason why Paul phrases things as he does here is because he is specifically relating this title to our Lord as He will appear at the second advent, rather than recalling His first advent or speaking of Him at the Father's right hand where He currently resides. When Jesus returns in glory, He will appear to the world obviously as God as well as a man, so the title is appropriate, and Paul may have wanted to (and to me it seems obvious that he did wish to) stress that point which otherwise might not be seen since these are words (albeit inspired ones) and not the actual manifestation of the glory of God which is undeniable. And here is a further point. While Meyer was confused about eschatology, we know very well that at the second advent the Father will not return – that will only happen at the end of the Millennium after the creation of the new heavens and the new earth and the descent of New Jerusalem. So this "epiphany", our "blessed hope" when we are resurrected at our Savior's return, can only be that of our Lord Jesus and cannot refer also to the Father for that reason alone.

As to 2nd Peter 1:1, we have a reason, I suppose, why Meyer want's to negate the truth of the passage in Titus – because otherwise his interpretation of this other passage is in jeopardy. So the phraseology of the first passage is not as odd as first he tried to make it seem – and it is of great significance that these are two different writers (Paul and Peter) whose styles are significantly different. Granted that the phrasing is different in that the "our" occurs with God in Peter and with Christ in Paul (who also uses "great"). What both passages have in common is that there is only one definite article for the compound phrase. It is true that two attributes which are nouns are sometimes linked together in the NT without a second article when they refer to one person/thing, but not if two separate persons are in view.

As to 1st John 5:20, this is the clearest case of all. The passage can only be made to reference the Father instead of the Son through the application of illegitimate grammatical gymnastics which have decided the conclusion before the analysis is performed. Houtos ("this") occurs directly after "Jesus Christ". The near demonstrative generally refers to what has immediately preceded and/or was last mentioned, and/or to the thing/person which is primarily in view in the writer's/speaker's discourse – and this passage is about Jesus Christ. None of the counter-arguments (especially Meyer's) carry any weight because 1) regardless of what it might have said and might theoretically mean, this is what the passage actually says (i.e., "even in His Son Jesus Christ – this One is the true God and eternal life"); 2) it is not a case (as it was with eschatology of Tit.2:13) where this statement is impossible and a different solution from the clear meaning must thus be sought; 3) we know that the Father and the Son are One – that Jesus is divine as well as human - so that there is no problem here at all for we who believe; however, behind all of the objections to this prima facie obvious translation lies a deep skepticism about the Trinity and about the deity of Christ, and an ingrained scholastic proclivity to think that "all that" is a later development but that the writers of the New Testament saw Jesus as a man and not God – which folly is directly contradicted by this (and by these and many other passages), rightly translated.

Of course, none of the above means that skeptics won't continue to be skeptical and that those who are looking for a way not to believe won't find it. This life is all about choice. Not only could the Lord have brought it about that the Bible might not be open to interpretation in any way but He could also appear personally to all unbelievers individually in glory easily enough – but that would compromise their true choice and defeat the entire purpose of life here on earth after its re-creation. The Bible is written the way it is written to give those who are interested in being saved more than enough obvious truth to be so – and those who are not more than enough "wiggle room" to ignore what they don't want to hear. It is also written the way it is written in no small part to make the issues of humility and authority clear – since none of us can get to spiritual maturity without a good Bible teacher (even those who in the end becoming good Bible teacher's themselves as you are in the process of doing), and not even good Bible teachers can continue to make progress without the Spirit and a good deal of consistent effort.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your reply. I have added some further comments below.

I know I have been in your prayers and I am grateful about it from the bottom of my heart.

As for Titus 2:13, there is one argument which many scholars put forward in support of there being two subjects - namely that it is God's (the Father's) glory (rather than God the Father Himself) that appears and this is something that our Lord spoke of in His first advent:

For the unity of the subject only one reason can be urged with any show of force, viz. that elsewhere the word ΠΙΦΆΝΕΙΑ is only used in reference to Christ; but Erasmus long ago pointed out that it does not stand here ΠΙΦ. ΤΟ ΘΕΟ , but Τ ς ΔΌΞΗς ΤΟ ΘΕΟ . Wiesinger, too, has to admit “that, according to passages like Matthew 16:27, Mark 8:38, Christ appears in the glory of the Father and at the same time in His own glory (Matthew 25:31), and His appearance may therefore be called the appearance both of God’s glory and of His own.”

So the meaning according to such an interpretation would be that at the second advent the Father's glory and our Saviour will appear: looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

What do you think of this argument? It does seem to have some weight, but I would like to know your view on this issue. On the other hand, an argument for there being only one person in view in Titus 2:13 is the following verse:

14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

This also may not be a conclusive argument and this verse could refer to the second of the two persons from the previous verse, but it does seem to add weight to the one person interpretation.

With regard to 2 Peter 1:1, it seems a clearer case to me (with my limited knowledge) than Titus 2:13. And exactly the same grammatical construction is also used in 2 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:20 and 2 Peter 3:18 with κυριου instead of θεου.

On 1 John 5:20, could you clarify your second point:

2) it is not a case (as it was with eschatology of Tit.2:13) where this statement is impossible and a different solution from the clear meaning must thus be sought;

Also, some argue that the near demonstrative can refer to the nearest substantive (Jesus Christ in this verse) as well as the principal substantive (God the Father in this verse). Would you agree with that?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #2: 

I will most certainly be keeping you in prayer.

On the convoluted argument on Titus 2:13, cf.:

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
John 17:5 NIV

Based on this quote it seems clear enough to me that Christ when glorified has His own glory restored; and that the veiling of His glory was something that only obtained during the first advent. Again, only someone who wants to see Christ's glory as derivative (because they see His deity as derivative) can overlook the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the passage above (but such persons are, curiously, often dismissive of John's gospel). And finally, yes, viewing matters simply from a natural reading of Titus 2:13 itself and from the context leads to the same (correct) conclusion.
On 1st John 5:20, what I mean is that there is no justification for trying to find some convoluted "solution" to a passage where there is no evident "problem", one unwarranted "confusion" caused by a lack of understanding of the theology or skepticism toward the truth or whatever. Therefore the only reason to look for a solution is if the "problem" is the deity of Christ which one is seeking to refute. But these individuals are masquerading as believers, so that this point is germane: if they really were believers, why would they think, prima facie, that this passage needed to be cleverly "explained"?

Finally, in this verse, Christ is both the "nearest" and also the "principle" substantive; the fact that there is no obvious linguistic reason not to take the two words which are directly sequential and without even a connective as not to be construed together is more than a little proof of the rightness of the interpretation:

. . . in His Son Jesus Christ. This One (i.e., Jesus Christ) is the true God and eternal life.
1st John 5:20

As John says earlier in the chapter:

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1st John 5:11 NIV

Nay-sayers on the obvious meaning of 1st John 5:20 will have to show how someone reading this in Greek could naturally be expected NOT to make the connection that Jesus Christ is "true God" and "life eternal" (especially in light of 1Jn.5:11). I would say that the only way NOT to connect the two is if one had a very strong prior believe that Christ was not God – and even so, this passage should make that person think twice (but apparently not in the case of these august "theologians").

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you for this response and for your prayer.

On Titus 2:13, commentators are using verses such as Matthew 16:27 and Mark 8:38 to support their view. From what I understand here our Lord will have both His own glory and the glory of the Father when He returns and it's the Father's glory which is what the commentators lean on a lot. My faculty in Greek is not sufficient to make strong judgments here, although when one reads this verse without a preconception, it does seem much more natural to take it as referring to just one person than two.

One more question on John 5:20, who do the words "and we are in Him who is true" (underlined) refer to - the Father or the Son? I think this is what some of the commentators may mean as the principal subject.

Professor - thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #3: 

In both Matthew 16:27 and Mark 8:38, our Lord speaks about "the Son of Man". That is, in both places He is speaking from the standpoint of His humanity ("the Son of MAN"), and (at that point) from His unglorified humanity at that (Jn.7:39). There is one glory of God. Jesus in these passages is presenting Himself as the Son of Man, the archetypical human being, the Seed of the woman, the Last Adam, the One who restores human rulership over the earth through the plan of the Father – and so it is in deference to the Father and His glory that our Lord speaks during His firs advent on the occasion recorded by the two evangelists. John, however, in 1st John, is speaking well after the cross, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Christ.

On 1st John 5:20, I take "the true One" to be Christ. Here is how I translate the entire verse:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us a mind-set for coming to know the truth. And we are in [the One who is] the Truth, even in [God's] Son Jesus Christ. This One (i.e., Jesus Christ) is the true God and eternal life.
1st John 5:20

Key to this translation is the fact that "the truth" in the first part of the verse represents the correct text which is neuter as preserved in Sinaiticus (i.e., to alethinon, not ton alethinon as in the text your commentators are using: wrong text = wrong interpretation).

Either way one reads this verse, there will be some pronouns which seem to "stick out", but in the above rendering, only the autou ("of Him" / "His") next to "Son" is potentially problematic (and only if misunderstood); rightly understood it goes back to "God (the Father)" who figures prominently in the discussion about our being children of God in verses 18-19, and not to toi alethinoi several words before. This is less a problem for a Greek reader familiar with John who has paid attention to the context – because of already realizing that Jesus is toi alethenoi "the One who is the Truth" and "in whom" we are (cf. "Union with Christ" at the link). On the other hand, I'm not recalling that we are ever said to be "in the Father" apart from the Son (as in Jn.17:21). All this makes the association of autou ("of Him" / "His") with this nearer nominal the problematic connection in fact.

Here is part of what I have written about this passage at the link, "Is Jesus the True God in 1st John 5:20?" (see link for the whole article):

2) literary: The verse cited by the groups you mention, John 17:3, does identify the Father as "the one true God", and the words are indeed identical to what we find in the first half of the attribution in 1st John 5:20. But it is the second half to which someone who had carefully read the gospel of John (as well as the beginning of this epistle) would be drawn in this regard: "and life eternal". Going back to Jesus' prayer in John 17, we find the same phrase, "life eternal", used twice in verses two and three. Jesus states in verse two that the Father has given the Son power to give "life eternal" to those given to Him. And in verse three, Jesus states that "eternal life" is to know "you, the One true God and Him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ". Thus "eternal life" (a key phrase/concept for John) is clearly linked to the Messiah in that passage. And that is, of course, something we find throughout John and the rest of scripture (Jn.14:6 et passim). Therefore the close association in 1st John 5:20 of "eternal life" with the Messiah to my mind actually proves the opposite point: while John 17:3 does not disprove that Jesus is "true God" (just because the Father is also described as the "One true God" - Jesus and the Father are "One", after all; cf. Jn.1:1-2 where "God" is used in close conjunction for both Father and Son), it does maintain the pattern of associating "eternal life" primarily with the Messiah, for there is no other way to the Father and life eternal (Jn.14:6). As you suggest, it is not that the later is unparalleled or impossible (the Trinity, after all are "one" in essence and so also in purpose; cf. Jn.5:24), but only that, from a purely literary analysis, the phrase "eternal life" used as a title would more naturally be associated with the Messiah, the One through whom eternal life is gained. Therefore a person would have to conclude that the attribution of the last sentence of 1st John 5:20 “eternal life” is to Jesus rather than to the Father, and if that is so, obviously, then the phrase you ask about, “the One true God”, would also have to refer to Christ here.

Feel free to write back about any of this, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hello Professor,

Thank you again for responding so quickly. Your answers did shed new light on both issues.

On Titus, I didn't consider the point of our Lord speaking from the standpoint of His humanity, but it is a valid observation. Things did change after the cross, resurrection, ascension and glorification.

And on 1 John 5:20, I wasn't aware of the textual issue. It is true, the autou may seem to "stick out" slightly and it needs to be linked to the previous two verses, but I found your explanation of the issue of being in Christ and Him being predominantly associated with life in John's writings very helpful and convincing.

I have read through everything a few times and will continue to pray that I can really absorb and own the truth of both verses. But as always, Professor, I really appreciate your help and time. After your explanations taking our Lord as being referred to in both Titus 2:13 and 1 John 5:20 has become a much better scripturally grounded position. After the research I've done in commentaries I wasn't sure which interpretation is more likely to be correct, and commentators, in general, show an inclination not to admit that Jesus is called God.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #4: 

You're always more than welcome, my friend. And here's another not-the-usual verse to consider: Hebrews 3:4. The argument only even makes sense at all if we understand Jesus being described as God.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello Professor,

I'm finishing the section on our Lord being the firstborn son of Mary and I refer there to all instances where the Greek has prototokos / πρωτοτοκος been used. This is to highlight that it is the literal meaning of this word which Luke obviously has in view in Luke 2:7 and to deprive desperate Catholic apologists from any ammunition (Professor - I really need to finish this text now, it has been too long). Overall, the usage of πρωτοτοκος with reference to our Lord can be summarised in the following way (please correct as appropriate):

a) in relation to other children of Mary - Luke 2:7;

b) in relation to other men - Romans 8:29 and, linked to this, in relation to those resurrected - Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5.

c) in relation to the whole creation - Colossians 1:15.

So in 4 out of these 5 instances πρωτοτοκος is used as the first out of many and Colossians 1:15 is the one verse where the metaphorical meaning of the verse referring to the privileges and position of the firstborn comes to the fore (this meaning is present also in other verses apart from Luke 2:7, but Christ as firstborn is described there as firstborn among others - who are not so).

The one instance I would like to as you about is Hebrews 1:6. Meyer understands πρωτοτοκος as used in relation to other Christians, who are also sons of God and brethren (Hebrews 2:10ff). I'm not sure what you think of that. The point does make sense, but referring it to verses as distant as Hebrews 2:10 makes this interpretation somewhat difficult. Some (Expositor) call the usage of πρωτοτοκος here as "absolute". The view presented by Pulpit seems quite reasonable:

But for the immediate purpose of his argument he may be supposed to refer only to this designation as applied in the Old Testament to the SON already spoken cf. Thus the meaning may be, "But, again, with reference to the time when he shall introduce this SON, the Firstborn, into our inhabited world, he speaks thus of the angels.

Christ is described as God's Son in Hebrews 1:5 and since our Lord is the Son of the Father who is the Firstborn as the preeminent one (Hebrews 1:2-3), it seems to fit the context well to interpret "firstborn" as referring to the position of Christ rather than Him being the first among other believers, as Meyer proposes. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Overall, my point in this argument is that even if "firstborn" is used metaphorically with reference to the privileges of our Lord, the context makes it clear, as in Colossians 1:15 and, potentially, Hebrews 1:6. This meaning of "firstborn" is however precluded by the context of Luke 2:7.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #5: 

As to your question, As to your question, Meyer is dead wrong (not for the first time). Paul's argument in the first chapter of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ to all angelic kind. Apparently, fascination with angels (through the Gnostics and other Jewish influence) was a particular attack on the deity of Christ that the Jerusalem congregation was having trouble rejecting – so much so that Paul leads off with this subject in that lengthy epistle. It is in that context that he says in verse six:

But when He brings back the Firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him! (Ps.97:7b)”.
Hebrews 1:6

So the angels, even the holy angels, are to worship the Messiah at the second advent – which shows that the Messiah is superior to all angelic kind and also that He is God worthy of worship. Paul uses "firstborn" here to begin this argument to show Christ's privilege as "first" in all things as being the Father's "Firstborn" (in terms of rank). Here, Christ is the "Firstborn", not Mary's firstborn (which in His humanity He also was). Creation is uniquely Christ's, because "all things were created through Him and for Him" (Col.1:16), so the description "the Firstborn" indicates His preeminence within the creation in every way, a creation that came from His hand in accordance with the Father's plan and which, once it is cleansed and renewed, will be His unique possession forever – of which we, the Church, are the preeminent part.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Can you please explain why God would have to restore His glory to Jesus in the following passage: quoted in your study.

“And now glorify Me, Father, with your own glory, [that glory] which I had in your presence before the world existed.”
John 17:5

I don't understand this passage. Also, who was Paul addressing in the Book of Romans, Chapter seven to be specific: Believer's, in-believers, or both. Is he speaking in Romans 7 of the person he was before conversion or after conversion.

Thanks so much for you help,

To Him be Glory, Honor and praise forever and forever.

Response #6: 

Always a pleasure to hear from you, my friend!

As to "glory", as I say at the link (in BB 4A: "The glorification of Christ"), this passage you ask about, John 17:5, reflects our Lord's situation in His as yet unglorified humanity, where "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Is.53:2b NIV) – so that our choice of Him would reflect our true inner heart (rather than responding to His divine glory which can not be denied). And just as "the Spirit was not yet given, because Christ had not yet been glorified" (Jn.7:39), even so, many other things had to await the actual victory on the cross and the following resurrection, ascension, session and glorification which demonstrates its efficaciousness (e.g., the sins of the world before the cross were forgiven "on credit" of this future blessed event: Rom.3:25). During the first advent, our Lord was not visible in God's glory – even though He was God then as He is now. This all has to do with the principle of kenosis (see the link), the functional restriction of His humanity in terms of His deity where help from the latter to the former which would have made our Lord's experience as a human being in this world totally different from ours to an disqualifying degree – and even so it was so different in so many ways, but on account of the additional suffering, opposition and necessity of running a perfect race – and then facing the gauntlet of the cross and spiritual death in darkness for the sins of the world.

As to Paul in Romans chapter seven, here is what I have written elsewhere (link included):

Romans 7 has always been a hotly debated chapter in terms of this question. My own view is that it is "autobiographical" of Paul's experience before he was saved (see the link: "Is Romans 7:14 autobiographical?"), but that, as is often the case, the truths this chapter contains are applicable to believers and unbelievers alike, depending on to whom we apply them and how. For example, in the oft-quoted verse "the wages of sin is death", that is true for unbelievers: refusing to repent and turn to God through the gospel results in condemnation; but it may also be true of believers: giving oneself over to a life of sin damages and, in extreme cases, can destroy faith resulting in apostasy or, just prior to that horror, the "sin unto death" (please see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

After reviewing your response on the "glory" question, I realized that I did not have on my thinking cap, so to speak. It suddenly dawned on me that I knew already what you responded with, but I just did not think about it. I have studied your dissertation on "Christology" on the principle of Kenosis but my memory needed to be jogged by your response.

I do appreciate your time and all your responses to my trivial questions which I should have already know but forgot. I won't forget anymore.

I also appreciate your response on Romans 7, as that has puzzled me for some time.

I have learned much from your teachings and now see for myself how much heresy there is in the church visible.

Blessings always to you my friend,

Your friend,

Response #7: 

I sure wish I could pledge to "not forget anymore"! But like the fellow I saw during a presentation of his book when asked questions about bibliography who said "the part of my brain that remembers names has died", I often feel the same.

I'm always happy to hear from you, my friend. Do feel free to write any time.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I often hear people say 'Word of God", the "Word of the Lord", "Word of the Lord God". What are the differences between when "the Word of the Lord" comes to a person as opposed to lets say...an angel, the Spirit of God, or Christ coming to speak? and is there a difference between "the Word of the Lord" and the "Son of man". And why did Ezekiel have the same title as Christ, that is, the "son of man"?

God Bless,

Response #8: 

When it comes to what "people say", you'd have to ask them what they mean. As far as these terms in scripture are concerned, they are clearly similar, but it would depend on a specific context.

As to Ezekiel, he is called "son of man", whereas Christ is THE "Son of Man" – meaning that our Lord is not only a human being (i.e., A "son of man"), but He is THE one and only Son of God who is also a "son of man" – because He had to become human as well as God in order to bear our sins and save us from damnation. Christ is thus unique in the human race and paralleled only by Adam – and only in respect to Adam being unique in being first and the only other man who was without sin . . . temporarily; therefore standing for us in contrast THE perfect Son of Man who is also THE Son of God (cf. Rom.5:14-19).

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1st Corinthians 15:21-22 NKJV

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1st Corinthians 15:45-49 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

I know that you don't really believe that God talks to people today except through the Word of God...something I hope to discuss further with you at a later point but something was revealed to me just recently and I DON'T KNOW WHO TO TELL! The truth revealed was something my head knew since the day I got saved many years ago but just this last couple months finally understood it. And finally understanding it came out of nowhere, very suddenly and with a (I can only explain as a quickening where my spirit was moved and all of a sudden I "understood" but don't know how that knowledge came or even why.) Many many years ago when I was reading the bible about the crucifixion and pondering a very descriptive teaching about it I cried and screamed out loud, "God, how could you send someone else to do your dirty work?" Being upset that Jesus had to go through that suffering...not saying that accusing God of that was anyway right...or politically correct. I then heard a soft but very definite voice in my head answer saying, "Oh Mary Ann, I didn't send someone else to the cross...I CAME DOWN IN HUMAN FORM AND TOOK YOUR PUNISHMENT FOR YOU." It was the first bit of understanding I had that though Christ was separate, he was also God.

Well I don't know why this "understanding" happened now or what it means but after praying and reading and meditating on what I was reading...which was not about this subject at all, this goose bumpy feeling radiated from my heart out to my body and I clearly understood that when the disciples were looking at and talking to Jesus they were looking at and talking to God. I know that seems like a very simple truth but when it hit me at my age it was like I finally and fully understood something that I had never really known. I don't know how to explain it. I don't know what my question is here...maybe I needed someone to tell who wouldn't respond "duh", or maybe someone to confirm it...I don't know. Any thoughts would be welcome.

Response #9: 

Good to make your acquaintance. When it comes to dreams, I never try to tell others how to interpret their Christian experiences – God gives us all many confirmations of the truth. The point I always try to make is that if what we, e.g., dream, is true, then it's all to the good. But we believe the truth based on the Bible and its teaching, not because of the dream – and if the dream, e.g., contradicts the truth, well, then there is a problem with the dream, not the Bible. In this case, Jesus is most certainly God as well as a true human being. That is indeed a critical teaching about which, sadly, many are foggy. But it is part of the true gospel. Here are a couple of links to where this is discussed:

Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God

Jesus Christ is truly divine

And on His spiritual death in "taking the punishment for us", please see the link.

Do feel free to write back.

In Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God" (Jn.20:28),

Bob Luginbill

Question #10: 

Hello Professor,

I have included Colossians 1:27 as one of the references to Christ being in us:

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27 NASB

But I know that many commentators take this phrase here as referring to Christ being among the Gentiles now, rather than meaning that Christ is in them.

What is the meaning here? If it's not the clearest reference to Christ dwelling in us, I may remove it, there are many others in the text.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #10: 

Even in the NASB rendering (and the way I translate the verse), it seems pretty clear to me even without considering the Greek text that the whole point of the verse is that Christ "is in you". The issue you raise, one to be frank that had never occurred to me before, is that the NASB rendering (and my own and others) may give some people the impression that "Christ in you" refers to the gentiles only but not the Jews (that is clearly wrong), or, based on "commentators", that "in you" means not "in you" but "among you" in the sense of being evangelized or not being part of the community of faith (or some such thing – I'm extrapolating from your comment).

The problems with that incorrect view are three-fold: 1) "Christ in you" ought to mean the same thing here as it does everywhere else (cf. Jn.17:23) and not something it doesn't mean anywhere else; 2) if the phrase could somehow be twisted to mean "Christ is being preached among the gentiles", it is difficult to see how that is a mystery which is also "your expectation of glory" because a) they are saved and that is the expectation of glory for them, not the fact that the gospel is being given to other gentiles, whereas most of the gentiles receiving this gospel are not in fact responding to it so that is no hope of glory however considered; and 3) it's simply not possible from the Greek.

Here are three versions which provide a translation that avoids the confusion you mention (though I suspect it's only commentators who are confused):

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27 NIV

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27 ESV

God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27 HCSB

Hope you're feeling better, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I was reading what a Pastor said regarding the church being Universal and he said:

"With that said, Jesus said, "Upon this Rock, I will build my church". The word Church is singular, yet Peter went on to plant more than one church. So here is my position:

1. God works through the local church during the New Testament time. The authority of the local church is clearly seen in scripture.

2. All Christians belong to the "Church", which will be raptured out at some point in the future. (Rev 4:1)

I reject the "Universal Church" idea that there is one church in the World as that goes contrary to the Local Church, however, if you only hold to a local church, then you risk getting pulled into the Baptist Bride group. If you get saved, but never join a "Local Church", then you would not be raptured as you are not part of the "Church".

Is this biblical?

Also, in the other email about cults that refer to themselves as part of the church or the bride of Christ, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Charismatics, The RCC, LDS, and other sects, it bothers me when they refer to themselves as Christians, and if they were Christians then they would be part of the church. I wanted to know what would qualify as someone who is part of the church, such as beliefs, and other matters?

God Bless you and your ministry

Response #11: 

"The Church" is the Body of Christ, and it consists of all believers from Adam and Eve until the last person saved before Christ's return . . . all BELIEVERS (most of those in the groups you mentioned have not been born again).

"A" church is a local assembly of Christians, and is a temporary, flexible small organization of some individuals within THE Church who, largely for geographical reasons, meet together for mutual encouragement and growth through the ministry of the Word of God – at least that is the Bible's position:

(14) I am writing these things to you, expecting to come to you very shortly. (15) But [I am giving you these instructions] so that in case I am delayed you may know how a person must comport himself in A "house of God" – which is AN assembly of the living God, A pillar and A support of THE truth.
1st Timothy 3:14-15

The absence of definite articles here (for "house", "assembly", "pillar" and "support" – all of which refer to the local church) is of critical importance and has been missed by every major translation. But notice that "THE truth", the purpose behind having a local assembly in the first place, is indeed "definite". What this means is that local assemblies are only as valuable as their dedication to carrying out their God-given purpose; it also means that there is no justification for enshrining them with special names, special buildings, special esoteric theologies – all of which things contribute to a studied disinterest in the truth which is a hallmark of all denominations.

So the pastor you listened to is correct in principle (except that there is no pre-Trib rapture!), but his application is upside down in my view. We believers are all "the Church" and important to Christ; local assemblies are only even "good" when they are teaching the Word and encouraging one another in it – not when they do all of the other nonsense they insist on doing while only giving lip-service to the truth.

As to unbelievers in the groups you list, it matters little whether they call themselves "Christian" or their places of "worship" are called "churches". They do not belong to Christ or to His Church.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas in our dear Lord and Savior, and a blessed 2018!

In Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I had a bible study and a man said that he would be interested if someone could quote a verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church".

For it to be legitimate, the verse MUST NOT MAKE SENSE in the local setting. He then said the reason he said this, is that if a verse can be understood to be teaching local understanding of church, then it is not NECESSARY for it to be understood in a universal sense. He also said, that he has not found a single verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word "Church".

As a result, he sees no biblical justification for accepting any sort of universal understanding of the word "church. I explained what you wrote in our previous email and he said that there is NO scriptural support and that it was merely an opinion.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #12: 

To be honest, I'm not sure what the problem is or what the objection is.

The word "church" in the Bible is the Greek word ekklesia (cf. "ecclesiastical") and it means "assembly"; it's the same word used for the assembly of the citizens in ancient Athens and the assembly of the people in the wilderness under Moses' leadership (Hebrew: qahal often translated as ekklesia in the LXX; compare Acts 7:38 KJV).

Beyond all argument, there is a universal Church, the Body of Christ, which is composed of all believers:

And I tell you that you are Peter [the little rock] (petr-os), and upon this [mighty] Rock (petr-a, i.e., upon Christ Himself; cf. 1Cor.3:11) I shall build My Church (cf. Dan.2:44-45), and the gates (i.e., the fortified defenses) of Hades (i.e., the devil's kingdom) will not [be able to] resist it.
Matthew 16:18

Beyond all argument, there are also smaller local assemblies that comprise only part of THE Church:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:
2nd Corinthians 1:1 NIV

Not even an unbeliever who finds the Bible pointless could read these verses and disagree with these two points. So I'm not sure I understand this person's problem or putative point – or motive in trying to make it.

For more on this please see the link: "The Church" (in SR 5)

Wishing you a very merry Christmas in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hi Robert,

In Joshua 5:15 God says He comes as Captain of The Lord, I thought the captain was Michael the Archangel.

Maybe this is why they think Jesus is Michael, what say you?


Response #13: 

Michael is also called a sar, "prince" or "chief" in Daniel 12:1, but never "sar of the host of the Lord" as we find at Joshua 5:15. Michael is an archangel, a high commander of angels along with the other six archangels, but the Lord is THE Commander of the entire host, us believing human beings included at the battle of Armageddon (for more on Michael, see link: "Angelic Issues V" and "Archangels").

As to "why they think Jesus is Michael", well, there's no accounting for the twisted thought-processes of unbelievers, especially when they feel the need to distort the scriptures.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hello--Quick question for you. A Roman Catholic on CARM is debating us about whom the Church is build upon. Of course Catholics think it is Peter. They claim he is the "rock" upon which Jesus would build His church. I explained the difference in Greek between petros and petra, and also quoted Paul where He said that "and they all drank from the same spiritual Rock, and that Rock was Christ" where he also uses "petra" here, if I am not mistaken. Anyway, this RC guy wrote this:

"Petra and Petros are synonyms in Koine Greek, which is what the New Testament was written in. Only in Attic Greek was there a distinction in some poetry between Petra and Petros, but that was long before Jesus' time."

Somehow, I doubt what he wrote is true. Besides, IF there was a distinction between the two in Attic Greek,, BEFORE Jesus' time--then why could that distinction not be in Koine Greek, come down from Attic Greek? And doesn't Koine Greek derive from Attic Greek?

Thanks and God bless you for your help.

Response #14: 

Greek is Greek. The idea that there are "major differences" between the Greek that precedes the NT and the Greek that follows the NT and the Greek contemporaneous to the NT is a canard and a dodge used by those who want to appear learned and also want to have a free pass to misinterpret scripture whenever they please. There are small differences in language from place to place and time to time. But ancient Greek is the same language throughout despite small differences even more so than in the case of English which, for reasons of not being root-based like Greek is and having been subjected to much more technological upheaval has changed more in 500 years than Greek did between the Classical apex and the time of the writing of the New Testament. But take English as an example anyway. Even in English "rock" meant "rock" in the time of King James just as it does today; and "stone" meant "stone" then and now – and there was a difference and there still is a difference between a "rock" and a "stone", the former being capable of being interpreted as larger than the latter (i.e., a large rock could be as big as a house; a large stone could not be bigger than a golf ball).

Analogously in Greek, there is a difference between a petros and a petra, and the difference is even more dramatic than between stone and rock in English – and in Greek the two are NOT synonyms which ever overlap as rock and stone might. And there is absolutely no change in the meaning of petra vs. petros before, during or after the time of the NT – not in any Greek which survives and plenty of Greek survives.

The way this sort of analysis works (properly conducted) is that if a person has a parallel passage which shows a difference in the use of the vocabulary, then the passage or reference should be given/cited so the rest of us can check to see if that is in fact that case (considering the time it was written, the usage of the author, the text and the context, etc.). Absent a vocabulary parallel, we are being asked to rely on the authority of the person making the claim. Now I deal with Classicists all the time, men and women who have devoted their lives to the finer points of the Greek and Latin languages, and I can't imagine any of them making such a claim (in an article or a talk) without giving a parallel – because the parallel is the (putative) proof. If renowned doctors of letters feel obliged to give proof of such things and would never think of advancing such a claim merely on their own authority, why would I give a nobody the time of day when making such an outrageous claim without a sliver of evidence?

Finally, it's also worth noting that our Lord uses BOTH words in the context. If they mean the same exact thing, why didn't He just use the same word twice and avoid giving Protestants ammunition to question Peter's pope-hood?

Sorry for being so adamant, but this one really "gets my goat". It's very difficult to prove a negative like this one – that would require hours and hours of research, entirely pointless when the positive evidence all points in one direction, from the context and even from the Greek of the New Testament elsewhere:

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks (petra pl.) rent;
Matthew 27:51 NKJV

And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock (petra): and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Matthew 27:60 NKJV

It's very clear from both passages that a petra is a ROCK: one big enough in the first instance for its splitting to be significant enough to be seen and merit mention – a boulder at least and not a stone/rock/pebble one can hold in one's hand (the latter is a petros from which "Peter"); in the second instance one big enough to tunnel into for a tomb – a rocky crag or hillside rather than a a stone/rock/pebble. Q.E.D.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hello--I was wondering if you could answer a question for me: a Oneness Pentecostal on CARM where I hang out wrote this, about Jesus' baptism:

"I say that this whole event disproves the doctrine of the "Trinity" and also opens a big can of worms, that of Jesus becoming the Son of God only at His baptism as per a more ancient manuscript that reads "... this day have I begotten thee", instead of the later version that changes it to "... in whom I am well pleased".

I think this incident rather affirms the Triune Godhead, but that isn't my question here. MY question is about what he wrote about a "more ancient manuscript" that reads "this day have I begotten Thee" quoting the Psalmist. I checked a bunch of English translations of these verses and none of them has the "begotten" in it. I checked my NASB which always puts manuscript variations in footnotes at the bottom of the page and there are none that say some or one ancient copy says "this day have I begotten thee."

I told this guy that Jesus was always the Son of God, and He knew it, as recorded when He was in temple when He was twelve and said He had to be in "my Father's house." And that was long before John baptized Him.

Anyway, he never said which "ancient manuscript" but I thought I would ask you first, before asking him.

Thanks and God bless.

Response #15: 

This pronouncement of the Father is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels, and the text of each is essentially identical. The only indication of an alternative reading is in the gospel of Luke 3:22 where even so there is an overwhelming agreement on the standard text (e.g., by witnesses p4, B, A, Sinaiticus, etc.) with only one major ms. (and some later witnesses such as the Italian versions) having the rest of the quote from Psalm 2:7, the somewhat quirky and somewhat later ms. (6th cent.) so-called "Cambridge Beza" (D). It's not really within the realm of possibility that the other two synoptics got it wrong (without evidence of the alternative reading), but very likely that the scribe of D went from memory at this point rather than from the text (a very common transcription error even today). According to Metzger's textual commentary (1st ed.), this mistake at Luke 3:22 "appears to be secondary"; I heartily concur. Even if it were correct, it wouldn't have any bearing upon what Matthew and Mark wrote.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Thanks. Seems to me, if the vast majority of the ancient Greek manuscripts of the NT have the usual rendering, and only one or two have the "today I have begotten thee" it seems to me that the latter should be judged according to the former. And considered spurious, and not the other way around.

At any rate, I told this guy that the early church had no political or centralized power and certainly not the power to hunt down every single NT manuscript copy and make sure it got changed to the "begotten" verse. But I should think the change made in the copy would be noticeable, would it not?

And does the Sinaiticus copy predate the other copies on these verses?

Response #16: 


As to copies, these were made in widely different areas over a thousand year period so there is no rhyme or reason to that. Trying to develop stemmata for the NT is a notoriously imprecise business because of the number of mss. and different provenances.

Good job on the history lesson. It's amazing the false assumptions people make about these important matters.

Sinaticus predates most everything else with the exception of some papryi. The papyrus P4 (cited in my email) was written at roughly the same time. The ms. which has the mistake, D, is two to three hundred years later.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hello, I hope you are doing well.

I’m enjoying reading your Luke questions today, and one caused me to reflect on a question I have pondered but never figured out.

I was reading here:

Q: Why does the note say "may also have been of the house of David", as if it wasn't certain?

A: The scholastic disease: skepticism. It's unwarranted here, clearly, and a dangerous thing to say. Since our Lord in terms of His physical body was of Mary's human line alone, the necessity that she be of the line of David (as the genealogy of Mary's family line in Luke chapter three affirms she is) is absolute. That was the prophecy as everyone knew then and knows now (e.g., 2Sam.7:5-16). See the link: "Genealogy of Christ".
Is it necessary for Jesus to have a human lineage to have particular relation to the line of David?

Could he be of that line of David, as one who was grafted into it by his birth to Mary and Joseph?

The reason I ask is: We always read and hear that we are born sinners because of our physical relation to Adam (Westminster Confession VI:III—III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed;[6] and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.[7])

If Jesus had an actual physical link to Adam, then he was born with a corrupted nature—I guess. But if he was placed as an embryo within Mary’s womb, as a new creation, as Adam was a new creation, then he would have the option as Adam did to sin or not to sin. We know he was without sin, so where Adam failed, Christ succeeded.

How is this to be resolved?

Response #17: 

Good to hear from you. Hope your new year is off to a good start.

As to your question, yes, it is a very important issue. For one thing, this is a good example of how and why confessions and doctrinal statements are often a bad idea. Putting them together for whatever reason will always result in some things being treated more cursorily than is prudent. And what happens when mistakes (like this one) are made? They bind all future generations to the mistake – all, that is, who make the mistake of putting any credence in such documents and giving their spiritual allegiance to a denomination instead of to the Lord and His Word of truth.

The sin nature is transmitted through the male, not the female, with the apparent rationale that Adam's sin was committed in cognizance, not ignorance as in Eve's case (1Tim.2:14). So Christ was destined to be "the woman's seed" (Gen.3:15) from the very beginning, and scripture most definitely does make Him Mary's biological Son (Matt.1:16). And, by the way, if it were not important for there to be a biological connection, the Father could have formed a body for Christ from the dust just as was the case for Adam – Jesus is, after all, "the last Adam" (1Cor.15:45). So we have a virgin birth – or more properly a virgin conception wherein there is no human male seed, Christ's body being miraculously engendered in an ovum in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit. Please see the links:

DNA and the virgin birth

Mary's conception

The Incarnation and Virgin Birth

The result of what God did in this regard was that Christ was born a true human being in every respect, born, just as we are, only without sin. His conception was unique being absent male seed, and this is what avoided the reception of a sin nature, since that is passed down through the male side.

Part of the confessional problem is the misguided notion of "imputation". This is a false doctrine based upon a misunderstanding of single verse in Romans, the culprit being Augustine. There may be some doctrine that Augustine got right, but as far as I can see his contribution to the history of theology was to take correct if basic understandings of many doctrinal issues and transform them into incorrect "theological" positions. This is good example of that. Please see the links:

"Imputation in Romans"

The so-called "imputation of Adam's sin

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:  

Hello--I hope you don't mind answering a question of mine. I have a good friend online who is a good Christian and orthodox, except he has this idea that Jesus has always been human as well as God, even prior to His Incarnation. He bases this upon what Jesus told the Pharisees, when He said "Abraham rejoiced to see My day; he saw it and was glad." I think that is what Jesus said. I just told my friend that Jesus means that Abraham saw Jesus' day by faith, since God had promised him that all nations of the world would be blessed through him. And I told him to reread Hebrews 11:13-16. So, because of this and the Theophanies in the OT, he thinks that Jesus has always been 100% God and 100% man. If the Theophanies in the OT were actually Jesus, then it still doesn't mean that Jesus necessarily had human nature then but just took on the appearance of man, as angels did, when appearing to human beings.

I disagreed with my friend, and quoted John 1:14 and told him that if someone "becomes" something, that means he was NOT that "something" UNTIL AFTER he had become it. Like, I didn't become a grandmother until my daughter had babies. Before then, I was not a grandmother. And also based upon 1 John 4, where John wrote that every spirit that proclaims that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God. Seems to me, "comes in the flesh" meant He was not in the flesh prior to His coming to earth.

Anyway, I don't know what your views are on this subject, but is there anything in the grammar of John 8:56-58 that means that Abe actually HAD seen Jesus in the flesh when Abe was alive? What?

Thanks for helping. This gentleman is a good friend, and I know believing Jesus was always human, even before His incarnation won't hurt his salvation. But it sure surprised me as he is the first Christian I have ever run across who thinks that. I have always believed that Jesus ONLY took on human nature at His Incarnation.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Response #18: 

You are absolutely correct, of course.

In Luke 20:37-38 our Lord proves the fact of the resurrection to the Sadducees by showing that our God is a "God of the living". This only works if we understand that the patriarchs are "alive" right now – not in the sense of inhabiting physical bodies (they are in an interim state; link), but certainly conscious and, as John 8:56-58 makes clear, viewing events on earth (cf. Rev.6:10 which presupposes the same thing). So Abraham "saw Christ's day" quite literally, not in eternity past and not because He saw Christophanies (which precede the incarnation).

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Thank you. I have one more question: do you agree with me about the meaning of "become" in Greek used in John 8:58? I think you told me once that when Jesus said "Before Abraham was..." it was actually "came to be" or "became" or something similar....and the use of "the Word became flesh in John 1:14? I just want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row.

Oh, there is a CARM poster who calls himself "Himantolophous" I think it is--not the same guy who thinks Jesus was always man as well as God. I think that is how he spells the name. It sounds Greek to me. Just wondering if it means anything.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. And thanks again!

Response #19: 

You're welcome, of course. In reverse order, in Greek, a himas is a leather thong (stem himant-), and a lophos is usually a helmet crest (it can also mean a hill or the nape of the neck) – not sure what a lophoUs is, however.

On John 8:58, yes indeed the verb used for Abraham is gignomai and that means "was born" in this context, while our Lord replies that "before Abraham was born / came to be, "I AM" – which is the YHVH formula (the verb to be 1/s in Greek with the pronoun ego).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I was watching a youtube video about this guy named Sam Gipp. He was saying that when Jesus reigns in Jerusalem, people will not say, "Let's go up to see Jesus", rather, they will say, "Let's go up and see "God with us", because of He is literally God with us. I've never heard of this before. Will His name always be Jesus, even in eternity? Because I know the bible says in Revelation that Jesus will have a name that no one knows but He Himself.

God Bless,

Response #20: 

The verse to which you are referring is mistranslated in most versions by reason of misunderstanding the text. Here is what I have written about this:

(12) And His eyes were a flame of fire, and on His head were many [kingly] crowns, with names written [on them] which no one knows except He Himself.
Revelation 19:12

The fiery eyes, a unique characteristic of our now gloried Lord, one we have encountered before (Rev.1:14; 2:18), bespeak His deity even in His humanity, and call attention to our Lord's complete and perfect knowledge of all things, including, as in this case, of all transgression in need of fiery divine correction (2Chron.16:9; Zech.3:9 with 4:10; Rev.5:6). The reference to these piercing, fiery eyes here makes clear that our Lord is about to wreak a terrible vengeance upon the offending armies encircling Jerusalem (e.g., Is.34:8; 35:4). The names mentioned above (note the plural, pace most versions which incorrectly have the singular), are written one to a crown, and demonstrate that Jesus is the King of every kingdom and the Lord of every people that has ever existed, having won that rulership through His victory at the cross (Ps.110:1; cf. Heb.1:3). These titles are known only to Him, for only God understands the true essence of every nation and people, having created them and assigned them their unique times and habitations (Acts 17:26; cf. Gen.11:6; Deut.32:8; Job 12:23; Ps.74:17; Jer.18:7-10), and only Jesus Christ shall rule over them in what remains of time, judging them all when the seven millennial days of human history finally come to an end, both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). To this we may compare the “new name” that every believer will have (written on the white stone we receive as our token of our membership in the eternal edifice of the Church of Jesus Christ: 1Pet.2:4-8; cf. 1Cor.3:9-15; Eph.2:20-22) which is also known only to the believer in question and to the Lord (Rev.2:17; cf. Is.56:5; 65:15; though we shall all bear the Lord's Name on our persons: Rev.3:12; 22:4). For as is the case collectively with the nations, so also it is true with individual believers that only He really “knows us” well enough to assign us the unique “name” that captures the essence of all we are and all we chose to do (and that essential designation is a memorial confidence between Jesus and each believer). Moreover, it is Jesus Christ alone who will evaluate the lives of each of us after that great day of His return (Rom.14:10-12; 2Cor.5:10).

As to "what Name" our Lord will use or be called by in the Millennium, I don't know of anything in scripture to indicate that any one of the many names by which we know Him – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords – will be discontinued in the Millennium, nor do I know of any reason why any should be. This is internet speculation. I always warn readers off of spending any serious time or effort on or giving any serious attention to nonsense on the internet: garbage in results in garbage out, after all, so only spiritual damage is likely to ensue. Yes, Ichthys is on the internet – but it is a tested and trusted source (at least I certainly hope so!).

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior whose Name is the Word of God (Rev.19:13).

Bob L.

Question #21: 

Dear Robert,

The Bride of the Lamb and the body of Christ represents two different entities, in my understanding and reading of Scripture. Paul's references to the body of Christ is clear and John exhibits the 'Bride' in his writings. Revelations 21-22 in context is Jewish. The gates and foundations are Jewish (Rev.21:12 & 14) as are the Gospels and part of Acts Jewish. 1 Corinthians 2:9 emphasizes the not knowing our future abode and /or state? Paul then pens down our eternal state as heavenly (2Cor.5:1 c) and our citizenship as in heaven (Phil.3:20). He continues to inform us of our '...sit together in heavenly places...' with Ephesians 2:6 as reference. I have believed that the faith community is the Bride, but it seems as if the Body is a unique part of Christ with a different not known heavenly destination and the uniqueness of our glorified state. The New Jerusalem will suffice, if it truly represents our eternal future. But, I will not say no to a heavenly citizenship.

My question is this; should we not see the body of Christ separate from the Bride of Christ?

For obedience to the faith to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever!

Response #21: 

Good to hear from you again, my friend. I hope you are doing well.

As to your question, the Bride and the Body are synonyms for the same thing, the community of believers, the Church of Jesus Christ. In terms of these two names about which you ask, there is actually a direct connection between the two. In the marriage analogy, the husband and wife, his bride, become "one flesh", "one body", and thus it is of Christ and the Church which is both His Body and His Bride:

(22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:22-32 KJV

Despite the expectations of readers of this passage (the potential confusion being anticipated by Paul in the final verse above), the mystery described here is that human marriage represents Christ and the Church becoming one body – not the other way around – so that just as the parent-child relationship was created by the Father in great part to teach us about our proper relationship to Him, so the marriage relationship teaches us a great deal about Christ and His Bride, His Church.

There is a dangerous assumption abroad among many groups that there is a great difference between Israel and the Church. There is a difference, but it is not the one many assume. We are all part of the same "olive tree" (Rom.11:1ff.). Jews are naturally by birth a part of the special people of God – but they still have to believe to be saved. Gentiles when saved are grafted into the root-stock of Israel – but are saved and thus part of Christ nonetheless. Together, Jewish and gentile believers in Christ, we all constitute His Church, His Bride – and we will all be resurrected together at the same time, the second advent (see the link: "Israel, the ultimate organization of the Church"). That is the reason why Revelation concentrates on the "Bride" aspect of things, because of the focus on the returning Messiah who is reclaiming His Kingdom and claiming His Bride (cf. Ps.45:1ff.).

Please do feel free to write back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Dear Robert,

Your insightful response is appreciated. More than just the normal line of communication is valued, even thought my understanding (interpretation) may be different than the traditional 'churchological' stance. But, it is not an obstacle to our discussion.

My framework of thinking has must to do with the following: Firstly, that the faith community includes all who by faith accepts the Messiah as Redeemer, being it pre-Cross dating back to Adam and post-Cross dating up to the second coming of Christ, with the qualification a faith-based not seeing scenario. This faith community includes Jews and Gentiles alike, therefore called the body of Christ equal to His glorified state. The body of Christ to be where Christ is for eternity; be it the New Jerusalem and / or heaven. Secondly, (and this is perhaps where clarity is needed) that the Jew and the Gentile that believes because of seeing (after the second coming of Christ) remains in a flesh state as we have it today. This will occur during the established kingdom of God on earth for the thousand year reign of Christ, with the propensity to sin. But, with the New Earth this group will live sinless in the Adamic state as before the fall forever, earthly bound?

In remains equivalently certain that any philosophical dogma is dangerous.

I trust that this will suffice in its information to make sense.

May He become more and we less,

Response #22: 

Your summary is correct.

What about these millennial believers, Jews who repent at the second advent as well as all who are saved during the Millennium? These are the ones whom I (and others) term "the friends of the Bride" (see the link and cf. Ps.45:14: the "virgin companions" of the Bride; Rev.19:9: the "blessed" who are called to the wedding supper). They are the "sheep" in the sheep and goats judgment of Matthew chapter twenty-five (after all, there are three phases to the resurrection of the living, not just two: 1Cor.15:23-24). They will be the ones coming in and out of the gates of New Jerusalem to worship and fellowship (Rev.21:24), but their inheritance will fall outside the gates of the city (for a palliative against the misinterpretation of seeing these as lost see the link: "Outside").

I hope this helps.

Do feel free to write me back.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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