John M. Bland
A. The Roman Catholic Influence
B. The Translation Problem
Historical background of the "Holy Trinity"
||A. Pre-existence -- Not a Jewish Concept
||B. Pre-existence -- Not a New Testament Concept
||C. The Trinity and Greek Philosophy
||A. The Difficulty of the Subject
||B. The Meaning of "Anointed" (Christ)
||C. The Theology of John One
||E. Pre-existence Of The Anointed Not Required
||F. the "Necessary" resurrection Of Jesus
||G. Obvious Difficulties Examined
||H. Errors Inspired By The Trinitarian Theology
||The "Holy Spirit"
||A. The multifaceted "spirit"
||B. God's spirit: the medium of god's influence
It must be noted as we begin that the view of the "Holy Trinity" is not a concept that is definitively taught in the Biblical scriptures. It was not until Gentiles entered the ranks of believers that the theology was seriously considered. In fact, "church" leaders and authorities were still arguing its merits before and after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD where it was "officially" adopted by the majority. Until then, and to some extent even after then, it was a matter of legitimate debate. From this council originated what eventually became the Nicene Creed. After continuing controversy, it was later refined in the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. In that form it was adopted as "gospel" by the Roman Catholic Church. The essence of this Creed is recited at most "high" masses by the officiating priest and repeated by the laity. For purposes of our discussion I will quote it here.
|The Roman Catholic Influence
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: And was made man. He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven. He sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life: Who spake by the Prophets. And in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come. Amen.
The above Nicene Creed was essentially fashioned from the creed of Caesarea, and was put forth mainly by Eusebius. It reads thus:
We believe in one God, the Father All-sovereign, the maker of things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, Son only-begotten, Firstborn of all creation, begotten of the Father before all the ages, through whom also all things were made; who was made flesh for our salvation and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the Father, and shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; we believe also in on Holy Spirit.1
Eusebius' creed was modified at the council, since it did not directly address the anti-Trinitiarian view of Arius. Phrases such as "true God of true God" and "for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man" were used to modify the creed of Caesarea. In addition, a concluding portion was added which specifically attacked Arius' beliefs. As Beecher said, a creed was made to keep out minority opinions.
There has been considerable Catholic literature concerning the essences of this Creed and the theology of the "Holy Trinity" contained therein. It also must be noted here, however, that by the time this Creed was written many fundamental precepts of scripture had already been abrogated by unprincipled men in their quest for power. In fact, many scriptural truths were disregarded to accommodate "traditions" by the time of the Nicene Council. The Catholic Church's attitude toward scripture vs. tradition is described succinctly by the Catholic Brantl.
Catholic theologians maintain that as a source of truth, tradition is superior to Scripture. Scripture is, after all, incomplete; it not only requires interpretation, but it required tradition in order that it might be recognized and established. Further, Scripture is not a textbook; in a sense, it is a dead word which must be brought to life in the living voice of tradition (emphasis mine).3
It is easy to conclude from the above quote that the roman Catholic Church does not place their top priority on the scriptures when it comes to faith and practice. Regardless of their public posturing on the efficacy of Bible study in recent years, they believe that the scriptures are inferior (since tradition is superior), incomplete (since tradition is used at all), and dead (Brantl's term, not mine). Actually, Rome was forced into the above explanation as an answer to Luther's challenge that the Roman Church's theology contradicted a multitude of scriptures.
We can see, therefore, that challenges to Catholic orthodoxy are answered with the "infallibility of the Church" paradigm. In this regard, John Henry Cardinal Newman declares that these "truths" must be accepted by all Catholics whether understood from the scripture or not. Commenting on FAITH AND THEOLOGY he pontificates thus:
... why has not the Catholic Church limited her credenda to propositions such as those in her Creed, concrete and practical, easy of apprehension, and of a character to win assent? such as "Christ is God"; ... and the like, as they are found in her catechisms. On the contrary, she makes it imperative on everyone, priest and layman, to profess as revealed truth all canons of the Councils, and innumerable decisions of Popes, propositions so various, so notional (subjective), that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them (emphasis mine).4
As the reader can detect from the opinions of the Cardinal, if you want to be a part of the Catholic system you must "buy" the authority of the "powers that be" to decide what is truth and what is not. It is not the scripture that decides but the "canons of the Councils and innumerable decisions of Popes" even though these decisions and traditions came about as "propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them." The reader can deduce that the affirmations of the "Church" are indeed the claims of all encompassing authority.
The good Cardinal even proceeds to "ridicule" the confusing language of the Nicene Creed as something that does not have to be understood -- just believed and accepted!
What sense, for instance, can a child or a peasant, nay, or any ordinary Catholic, put upon the Trindentine Canons, even in translation?... Or again, consider the very anathematism annexed by the Nicene Council to its Creed, the language of which is so obscure, that even theologians differ about its meaning. It runs as follows: -- ' Those who say that once the Son was not, and before He was begotten He was not, and that He was made out of that which was not...' These doctrinal enunciations are de fide (lit. "of faith" -- not subject to debate); peasants are bound to believe them as well as controversialists, and to believe them as truly as they believe that our Lord is God (emphasis mine).5
There you have it! From this theology composed (by their own definition) from an "obscure ... propositions so various, so notional" Creed emerged the now entrenched doctrine of the "Holy Trinity" -- a theology that has endured the great Protestant Reformation of Europe and the restoration movements of Europe and America.
The reason that I have spent so much time here is because the roots of this theology need to be examined regardless of the conclusions that might be drawn. If a person denies the declaration of the Roman Catholic Church -- that truth rest solely with them and that tradition is superior to the scriptures -- he must press on without trepidation even though questioning the Trinitarian view places one among the heretics. Robert Whitelaw states it well.
There are some today taught to view with alarm any study, no matter how Biblical, that calls into question cherished religious traditions or creeds of any kind, and particularly those that touch on 'established' doctrines of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity.6
Whitelaw also writes his amazement that modern evangelical preachers and Bible students -- those who do not believe the scriptures inferior, incomplete, and dead -- have so readily accepted the edicts of papal councils. He writes:
What is even more amazing is the veneration that leading evangelicals today continue to attach to the edicts of these 'famous Councils' (e.g.. Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon) made up for the most part of proud and worldly ecclesiastics far removed from the age of the apostles, infatuated with Greek wisdom and Papal authority.7
The challenge to the reader is to lay aside as best he can his paradigm and pre-conceived ideas and examine the scriptures for himself.
Before proceeding to the meat of the subject, I think it imperative to examine briefly the subject of our English translations. It is mandatory for all serious Bible students to recognize that our English Bibles are indeed only translations. All translations contain translator bias or paradigm. I want to stress the word "all". It is impossible to translate the entire Greek or Hebrew text without bias. The reason is simple. Some words will have a certain meaning depending only on the context. This forces the translator to interpret the context before translating the word.
Another reason bias cannot be eliminated stems from the innate difficulty of translation itself. Languages cannot always be understood on a "word for word" basis. In addition, the translator is often called upon to supply words to clarify the text. In the King James Version, these supplied words are sometimes italicized to show that they do not appear in the original.
The original Greek New Testament is certainly a good example of the difficulty facing the would be translator. It was penned in "uncials" (all capital letters) and possessed virtually no punctuation and no spaces between words, sentences and chapters. Therefore, even the chapter breaks, paragraphs, verse breakdown and numberings depend -- to various degrees -- upon the interpretation of the translator. In fact, these "helps" were not added to the text until much later.
A pertinent example would be in the rendering of the Greek word pneuma (Greek pneuma, i.e., spirit, breath, wind). When you see pneuma capitalized "Spirit" (or Ghost) by the KJV, NIV, NASB, or any other translation, you can be sure that you are observing the translator's Trinitarian theology rather than mere translation.
If the translator did not hold to the view of "Holy Trinity", he probably would have translated pneuma "breath" and would certainly leave it uncapitalized. In this example, the correctness of the translator's theology would determine the correctness of the translation. Are you getting my drift? The translation that I will use for the New Testament text, generally renders pneuma "spirit" when revelation is believed to be meant; and "breath" when miraculous power is considered the meaning. However, this is also interpretation rather than inspiration, as with all other translations.
Also, some words must be supplied with the pronoun "he" or "it". The translation problem occurs because "he" or "it" is sometimes only determinable by the theology of the translator and not the text itself.. Many times the definite article "the" is supplied when it is uncalled for, especially when translating pneuma. Robert Whitelaw comments correctly on this matter as follows:
Another misleading translation in the English Bible (KJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, etc.) is found in the phrase "the Holy Spirit" in the four Gospels... In most cases there is no definite article in the Greek, so it should be read as "Holy Breath" ... Yet all English versions print it as "the Holy Spirit" or "the Holy Ghost" without any warning to the reader that the translator is adding a nonexistent "the"; i.e. practicing eisegesis unawares!8
The crux of the matter is that a translation will reflect the paradigm of its translators. Almost without exception, our English translations were completed by men who accepted the view of the "Holy Trinity" as part of their paradigm and the KJV, for instance, contains many other easily discerned biases of the Church of England men that did the translating. Therefore, to erect a theology around a particular translation is folly at best.
I have even heard people say that God wanted the English speaking nations to have the KJV. This argument is spurious and begs the question. The Bible of choice among Puritans that colonized the Americas was the Geneva Bible. Why didn't God want them to have that translation? How about the German translation of Luther? Did God want the German speakers to have Luther's even though differences in translation occur? To the one who says, "Are you saying we must all learn Greek," I can reply, "Are you saying we must all learn English?"
The most that can be said is that God desired that we have the New Testament penned in Greek uncials. This knowledge forces the student to look behind the paradigm of the translator to see for himself whether their views can be defended. There is an old saying that is worthy of injection here. It goes something like this:
Truth has nothing to fear from the evidence.9
The scholar David Lipscomb and namesake of David Lipscomb College echoed the above sentiments.
To suppress discussion is to deprive truth of all its vantage ground.10
Frank Daniels, whose Non-ecclesiastical New Testament I will be quoting from unless otherwise noted, had this to say about the result of suppressing discussion:
In reality, most people have no view at all. What they say is nothing more than a repetition of the precepts of their chosen group or the group's leader. They would have no opinion at all if it wasn't supplied to them by the clergy.
This is not a cynical statement, but rather a reflection on the reality that most people mistake opinion for fact, especially when it is spoken by a professional or "man of the cloth".
The subject of God's nature and the meaning of the phrase "One God" is certainly effected by the English translation. The nature of this subject will demand from the reader that he be a serious Bible student and form his own theology. It will also require that he search the scriptures without the "blinders" of his paradigm. It is the desire of the author that the reader be open minded and willing to search the scriptures. He is not desirous, however, that anyone be so open minded that his brains fall out.
| HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE "HOLY TRINITY"
|The Holy Trinity -- Not A Jewish Doctrine
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one!" (Deut. 6:4)
The above verse is certainly germane to the subject under discussion in this thesis. Before the advent of Christianity and before the theology of "Creedal Trinitarianism" took root, there was no question within the Hebrew culture, Torah, Talmud or Jewish community that Jehovah was more or less than monos (one) theos (Divinity) -- one God in every sense of the word. Monotheism means "the worship of one god."
The Jews did not perceive the "Holy Spirit" of the Old Testament as a separate personality or entity but just another way to describe the power, presence and influence of the one God. For example, when king David said in 2 Samuel 23:2,
The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was in my tongue,
he meant -- according to Jewish thought -- that God (the "his" of the verse) spoke through him. He was not alluding to another being but to the influence of One God and himself as a prophet. Of course, modern orthodox Jews still see it no differently and the introductory verse, "Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one!" is often quoted in their synagogues and on religious feasts and holidays as a kind of creedal chant of tribute to their monotheism.
In Judaism, there was never any concept whatsoever that the promised Messiah was a person of God even though some profound attributes were prophesied concerning his person. They understood the Messiah would be Israel's deliverer and his mission would be sanctioned by the power of God Almighty but never considered him to be God Himself. This is important in light of the fact that the Jews believed everything that God accomplished "pre-existed". Anthony Buzzard explains how they considered their God as the one that "... calls the things that are not as though they are" (Rom. 4:17).
To claim 'before Abraham was, I am' (John 8:58) is to echo the statements of the Rabbis that 'Messiah existed "before tohu,'" that is, before the chaos of Genesis 1:2. In Jewish thinking anything or anyone of supreme significance in the divine plan 'existed' 'before the foundation of the world.' Thus Moses, the law, the throne of God, and the Messiah were all said to have 'existed' before creation.11
However, their living Messiah (as opposed to the conceptual one) was to be born among Israelites and be likened to Moses. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses tells Israel,
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear (NKJV, emphasis mine).
The next verse actually emphasizes the difference between this prophet "like Moses" and the God who had spoken to them at Sinai.
According to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die' (NKJV, verse 16, emphasis mine).
The coming "prophet" would be one of their own and not a spirit being of any kind such as the one that spoke to them at Sinai. This prophet would carry unprecedented status and authority, however. He was going to be the only way to the Father, i.e., "... no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). Isn't this what Deuteronomy 18:18-19 teaches from the negative standpoint?
I will raise up for them a prophet... and will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him, and it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which he speaks in My name, I will require it of him (NKJV, emphasis mine).
The above also demonstrates that the Messiah was not going to be speaking on his own initiative but would receive words and be commanded. Jesus echoes this fact repeatedly in his personal teachings. This aspect of the Messiah's ministry seems to offer one of the biggest obstacles to Trinitarian theology as it seems to prove just the opposite. Everyone, on both sides of the question, have trouble with the idea of God commanding God.
The remarkable authority granted the Messiah in the scheme of things -- though a prophet from among his brethren -- can easily be explained by his relationship with God and the "anointing" that rested upon him. He could bear Divine titles and obeisance because he was the "only begotten son of God" and these "amenities" were granted to this Anointed One. However, Old Testament allusions to the Messiah's power and authority will be seen to have taken place at his resurrection. I will speak more to this point and to the significance of the term "anointed" later. The heart of what has been said so far is summed up best by Anthony Buzzard.
A Messiah who has himself existed as "God" from eternity does not share the characteristics of the one destined to be the Savior of Israel and the world.12
The reader can thus be assured that the prevailing theology of the "Holy Trinity" was not a product of Jewish culture or an understanding of Old Testament doctrine. In fact, the Jews had no trouble with the various appellations of God. They saw no need to separate divine Wisdom, Yahweh, and Elohim into a Trinity. As we have seen, they did not regard the coming Anointed One to be a "personality" of God; they rightly saw him as a human being. Finally, they did not distinguish the "Holy Spirit" as a personality of God. The Spirit of God or Holy Spirit was used in an entirely different sense, a sense that will be explored in a later chapter of this paper.
If the view of the "trinity" of God did not issue from Judaism, then where is its fountain? I can say this without fear of the facts. The Bible says nothing "specific" about a "Holy Trinity". Robert L. Whitelaw asks this pertinent question about the etymology of these words and phrases:
|The Holy Trinity -- Not A New Testament Doctrine
Why is it that nowhere in Scripture can one find any such words or phrases as trinity, Trinitarian, triune God, holy trinity, God in Three Persons, or the like in English or in the original Greek and Hebrew?13
Whitelaw answers his own question by correctly observing that even certain words were inserted by the translators to accommodate the Trinitarian view.
Even the English word 'Godhead' was coined to insinuate the idea of the trinity rather than use the plain meaning divinity for the Greek theotes (Col. 2:9), theiotes (Rom. 1:20), and theios (Acts 17:29). There is evidence, in fact, that the KJV translators invented the word 'Godhead' to appease Catholic King James, since he had 'authorized' the version on the condition that the English words chosen must not disturb those tenets of Romanism hitherto derived from, or permitted by the Latin Vulgate.14
Although there is no evidence that King James was ever a Catholic convert, rumors did persist throughout his reign that James was "pro" Catholic. He was actually raised a Presbyterian but as monarch showed no sympathy for Puritan Protestants.15 Regardless, there is little argument between historians that the Church of England and Roman Catholicism were almost identical in theology (except for the authority of the Pope) and both solidly Trinitarian. In addition, the English word Godhead (according to Webster) predated the KJV and was taken from a middle English word that meant literally "Godhood" viz, God's nature. However, it can be surmised that by the time of the KJV it was only understood in a Trinitarian sense. Instead of rendering the Greek qeoV and its derivatives "Divinity" or "Deity" -- which is word for word and would have served well in this instance -- they translated qeothV "Godhead," a word whose original meaning had been obscured by Trinitarian usage. Such is the nature of translator bias.
I mentioned that translation was a difficult process in the best of situations. However, when men are unduly influenced -- either by outside pressure to conform or by the prejudices of their own theology -- translation is naturally slanted to accommodate one's views. The above example of forcing an English word to fit their theology from the Greek qeoV (theos) is a prime example. QeoV simply means a god or deity. We also have qeioV (divine), qeothV (God's nature), and qeiothV (a divine nature). When translated such, the words offer no hint of plurality and force us to look to history for the advent and source of the Trinity.
The New Testament never records Jesus alluding to a personal pre-existence as God: the co-creator and co-eternal One. Atlanta Bible College professor Anthony Buzzard argues:
Contrary to what post-biblical tradition asserted of Jesus, he himself makes no claim whatever, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, to have been present at or to have assisted in the creation of the world.16
Except for several references to certain "pre-existence concepts" almost entirely isolated in John -- which will be discussed in detail later in this work -- the gospel historians had every opportunity to develop the Trinitarian theology but failed to do so. This is the reason the subject was central to most heated debates for centuries before being adopted in creed form by the Roman Catholic Church already referenced. It should be specifically noted that the controversy arose among Gentile believers and was perpetuated by them. No such controversy or debate transpired within the ranks of Jewish Christians or between Jewish believers and Jewish unbelievers for that matter.
If there is a "credal statement" found anywhere in the New Testament that explains the essential difference between Father God and Jesus it is found in John 17:3.
Now this is the eternal life: that they may know you -- the only true god -- and Anointed Jesus , whom you have sent (emphasis mine).
If this verse was accepted and believed by students just as it reads, no one would be arguing that Jesus was God or that God was more than one. Jesus (though not discussing Christology) points out that he and his Father are distinct, separate entities -- making no claims whatsoever of equality. He describes himself as the "Anointed Jesus" and the one that had been sent by the "only true God." Now we all know what "only" means.
Paul re-enforces this clear distinction between the God he revealed to his audience as creator and the "man" whom God "appointed" to judge the worlds thus:
The God who made the universe and everything in it -- the one who is Lord of Heaven and Earth -- does not dwell in handmade temples... Therefore indeed, overlooking the time of ignorance, God now announces to all people in all places to change their minds. Because he has established a day in which he is about to judge the Empire regarding what is right, by a man whom He selected -- having provided proof to all people by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:24,30-31, emphasis mine).
So we can see -- in the words of both Jesus and Paul -- that it was the "... Only True God" who "anointed" and "selected" the separate and distinct "man" who was to judge creation. In the Trinitarian approach, you are forced to admit that indeed God "anointed" and "selected" Himself! Andrews Norton (1786-1853), in a detailed critique of the Trinitarian proposition had this to say:
But further; it (Trinitarianism) contradicts the express and reiterated declarations of our Savior. According to the doctrine in question, it was The Son, or the second person in the Trinity, who was united to the human nature of Christ. It was His words, therefore, that Christ, as a divine teacher, spoke; and it was through His power that he performed his wonderful works. But this is in direct contradiction to the declarations of Christ. He always refers to the divine powers which he exercises, and the divine knowledge which he discovered, to the Father, and never to any other person, or to the Deity considered under any other relation or distinction, of himself, As the Son, he always speaks as of a being entirely dependent upon the Father (emphasis mine).17
A few examples of Jesus' allusions to his dependency on God are in order. The following verses are taken from John which, remarkably enough, is the gospel that is most used in proving the Trinitarian theology. They are listed in the order in which the occur -- the emphasis is mine.
(John 5:19) Indeed I assure you: the son can't do anything of himself, except what he may see the Father doing. For whatever he may do, in the same way the son does these things as well.
(John 5:26-27) For as the Father has life in himself, similarly he gave the son life to have in himself. Also he gave him authority, even to execute judgment, because he is a mortal.
(John 5:36) But I have greater testimony than that of John, for the deeds which the Father gave me to finish, these deeds that I do testify about me: they testify that the Father has sent me.
(John 6:57) As the living Father sent me, and as I live through the Father , also the one who eats me, he will also live through me.
(John 8:28:29) When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he. And from myself, I am doing nothing, but as my Father taught me, I am saying these things. And the one who sent me is with me. He hasn't left me alone, because I always do the things that are pleasing to him.
(John 8:54) If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. The one who is glorifying me is my Father, of whom you say that he is your god.
(John 10:37) If I am not doing the deeds of my Father, don't trust me.
(John 12:49-50) Because I didn't speak from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a precept: what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his precept is eternal life. Therefore the things I say, I am speaking as the Father has spoken to me.
(John 14:24) The one who does not love me does not keep my sayings -- and the message that you are hearing is not mine, but the Father's who sent me .
This is a constant theme with Jesus and many other verses could be added to the list. It is unnecessary to multiply them at this time. They are listed in this section only to show that nowhere in the New Testament is the Trinitarian view actually taught. Andrews Norton suggests plainly that if the "Holy Trinity" theology had even been suggested by the New Testament historians it would have been a main subject of debate within the ranks of the first century community. After all, these new Christians were dealing with monotheistic Jews. He addresses the lack of New Testament teaching like this.
The doctrine, then, is never defended in the New Testament, though unquestionably it would have been the main object of attack and the main difficulty in the Christian system. It is never explained, though no doctrine could have been so much in need of explanation. On the contrary, upon the supposition of its truth the apostles express themselves in such a manner that, if it had been their purpose to darken and perplex the subject, they could not have done it more effectually. And still more, this doctrine is never insisted upon as a necessary article of faith; though it is now represented by its defenders as lying at the foundation of Christianity (emphasis mine).18
Charles Hunting, in collaboration with Anthony Buzzard, argued similarly in their short work on the same subject, quoting prominent clergymen from Harvard and Cambridge.
Important voices, ancient and modern, have warned us that all is not well with the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, that mysterious teaching that the true God is three-in-one. 'Few doctrines have produced so much unmixed evil,' said an eminent Harvard divine. From a Cambridge professor of divinity comes the admission that the Church has 'not usually (whatever it may have claimed to be doing in theory) based its view of Christ exclusively on the witness of the New Testament.'19
When examining the above two quotes, one needs to remember that the Roman Catholic Cardinal Henry Newman admitted that "Creedal Trinitarianism" arose from:
... propositions so various, so notional (subjective), that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them (emphasis mine).
In concluding this section, I want to draw attention to another opinion set forth by Andrews Norton more than 200 years ago. Those that persist on accepting the "Holy Trinity" creed without self study and examination need to answer this imperative.
If it were a doctrine of Christianity, the evidence for it would burst from every part of the New Testament in a blaze of light.20
Again, instead of Norton's "New Testament in a blaze of light", we have Cardinal Henry Newman's,
... propositions so various, so notional (subjective), that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them (emphasis mine). 21
As the heading suggests, the theology of the Holy Trinity has its roots in Greek philosophy and not in the Biblical writings. Remarkable as it may seem, there was no substantive question about the Messiah's pre-existence in the minds of either believing or unbelieving Jews. It was only after Gentile converts entered the ranks of believers was this question fulminated.
|The Trinity and Greek Philosophy
It was generally the Greek "apostolic fathers" (those that sat at the feet of the apostles and those one generation removed from them) that initiated the debates concerning the nature of God. It was their interpretations of the New Testament writings -- influenced by the teachings of the Athenian sage Plato concerning the nature of man -- that formed the seed of this controversy. Even though attributing to Plato the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is spurious, it cannot be denied that the majority of Greeks in that period were greatly influenced by his philosophy and by the polytheists around them.
The "apostolic fathers" were not prophets themselves and were not putting forth a new revelation. They were trying, however, to reconcile their Greek cultural views and paradigm with some of the difficult concepts of the Anointed recorded in scripture. The Christian Jew Mosheim comments on this theme:
It is an old complaint of learned men, that the (Greek) Fathers, or teachers of the ancient church, were too much inclined to the philosophy of Plato, and rashly confounded what was taught by that philosopher with the doctrines of Christ, our Saviour; in consequence of which, the religion of Heaven was greatly corrupted, and the truth much obscured.22
It cannot be denied that difficult scriptures do exist and to the point that Peter felt obligated to mention them. After placing his imprimatur on Paul's message, for example, Peter then refers to the difficulty in understanding it as well as the tendency of many to pervert Paul's teaching as well as the "other writings."
Regard the long-suffering of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paulus also wrote to you according to the wisdom that was given to him (just as he speaks in all of his letters about these things). They consist of some things that are difficult to understand and the unlearned and unstable people distort them to their own destruction as they do the other writings (2 Pet. 3:15-16, emphasis mine).
It should surprise no one, then, that controversies of theology intensified after the apostolic dispensation. Though the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations claim the continuing guiding and "teaching function" of the "Holy Spirit", there is nothing practical that can be demonstrated by these "Church" leaders that would attest to their claims. This is a valid criticism since confirmation of God's power resident in the teacher or prophet demands signs. This is evident by the challenge posed by Paul to those of his day that claimed apostolic authority. Notice his dare to them and his comment on his own evidentiary teaching. In I Corinthians 4:19-20, Paul, speaking of his coming visit to Corinth, addressed the claims of men who would teach contrary doctrine thus:
However, if it is the Lord's will I will be there in a hurry. I will then know the power of those that are puffed up and not merely their message. For God's kingdom exists not by a message only but also in power (emphasis mine).
As you can see from the above scriptures, God's message is confirmed with power and Paul felt compelled to point out that fact to the Corinthian believers. On the other hand, Paul claimed that his message was attested to by God as witnessed by accompanying miracles and signs of the true envoy.
Indeed, the signs of an envoy were worked out among you with all endurance: signs and wonders and powers (2 Cor. 12:12).
We can understand by the above, that those who claim the teaching and guiding capacity of the "Holy Spirit" dwelling with them -- then and now -- could be expected to perform signs that would lend credence to their claims. However, this was not demonstrated, then or now, although every "orthodox" and "heretical" group claimed to possess the spiritual gifts.
This being the case, their opinions on difficult scriptures or Bible interpretation in general, carries no more weight that any other student. On the contrary, the schisms of theology found in Catholicism itself and the multiplication of denominationalism outside Romanism, prove that it is not the "spirit of God" that is responsible for such doctrinal controversies but rather the "spirit of men" claiming a teaching authority contrary to scripture.23
The doctrine of the "Holy Trinity" is actually an attempt to synchronize some aspects of Platonic thought with the notions of a literal pre-existence of the Anointed. Plato opined that man possessed an immortal soul and a person's true essence was spiritual rather than material. Though the majority of Christians believe that this theology is Biblical, it actually originates with Greek and not with Biblical thought.24 We can see in Plato's character Crito, that he believed in a spiritual "essence" that would survive the grave.
In Plato's Phaedo, Crito is supplied with the "immortality of the soul" theology when he supposedly asks Socrates where he wishes to be buried,
"But how shall we bury you? 'However you please,' Socrates replied, 'if you can catch me and I do not get away from you.' ... ' I cannot persuade Crito... that the Socrates who is now conversing and arranging the details of his argument is really I. He thinks I am the one whom he will presently see as a corpse, and he asks how to bury me. And though I have been saying at great length that after I drink the poison I shall so longer be with you, but shall go away to the joys of the blessed, he seems to think that it was idle talk uttered to encourage you and myself' (emphasis mine)."25
It was this philosophy of Plato -- that man was a composite being -- that later gave rise to his three main attempts to present man as immortal. These consisted of the Immortal-Soul Doctrine, Reconstitution doctrine and the Shadow-man doctrine.26
It was from Plato's belief that man's "inner self" was often in conflict with the material things of life (the world) that led to Dualism, which purported that "the material world is either unreal or positively evil."27 Since the New Testament teaches about the conflict between "flesh" and "spirit," it was easy for Gentile Christians to accept Dualism along with the Biblical teachings. Subsequently, it was the acceptance of dualism that eventually led to Docetism which is a foundational basis of Gnosticism. The encyclopedia defines "Docetism" as:
"The heresy (that) arose in a Hellenistic milieu and was based on a DUALISM which held that the material world is either unreal or positively evil. Tendencies to spiritualize Christ by denying his real humanity were already present in New Testament times (emphasis mine)28"
A statement defining Docetism says simply,
If he suffered, he was not God; if he was God, he did not suffer.29
Stumbling over the Jewish writings, docetic Christians concluded that somehow Jesus' body was a ghostly one, a phantasm.
Monarchians attempted to deal with the unity of God in at least two ways. Tertullian wrote that Praxeus claimed:
... that the Father himself descended into the virgin, was himself born of her, himself suffered; in fact that he himself was Jesus Christ.30
This doctrine allowed monotheism but created other theological problems. Sabellius tried to resolve it this way:
...that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and the same being, in the sense that three names are attached to one substance. A close analogy may be found in the body, soul, and spirit of a man.31
This view today is called Oneness or Modalistic Monarchianism.
Arius' resolution to "the person of Jesus" was different, since he did not view Jesus as God at all. Arius held the Son of God to be a created being, subordinate to God and created before the beginning of time. As he said, "There was when the son was not." This view takes the "pre-existence passages" literally but allows Jesus to be something other than God Almighty. A similar view is held today by Jehovah's Witnesses. The spread of Arianism was a threat to Trinitarian beliefs, since Arianism was popular. It was for the purpose of condemning Arius that Council Nicaea was called (by the infidel Constantine by the way).
It is not my purpose in this thesis to explore these philosophies in detail. It is enough to show their source and their similarities. As you can see with a little cogitation, that it is only a short leap from the principle of "immortality of the soul" to the literal, material (but spiritual) pre-existence of Jesus.
In other words, if we can accept the proposition that man possesses a thinking, spiritual, "essence" that -- according to Plato -- is the real person dwelling in some mysterious way independently and apart from the body, it only follows that God (being spirit) could also literally indwell a human body. Once you have the "Christ" as pre-existent God but a separate entity -- you have arrived at the "duality" of God theology. Now, include the Holy Spirit (which will be dealt with in some detail later) with the other two and you have the "Holy Trinity."
It is true that the theology of Trinity did not happen overnight or as simplistic as has been presented. But the progression mentioned here, however crude, is essentially accurate. Nevertheless, it took several hundred years, countless debates, and the "official" man- inspired councils of Nicaea and Constantinople to come to us in the "authoritative" creedal form seen today.
The Trinitarian and 17th Century master of Cambridge College, Ralph Cudworth (1617 - 1688) admits the influence of Plato in the theology of "Holy Trinity". He writes,
"As the Platonic Pagans after Christianity did approve of the Christian doctrine concerning the Logos, as that which was exactly agreeable with their own; so did the generality of the Christian Fathers before and after the Nicene council, represent the genuine Platonic Trinity as really the same thing with the Christian, or as approaching so near to it, that they differed chiefly in circumstances, or the manner of expression (emphasis mine)."32
It is important to note that Cudworth admits that the Trinitarian view had its roots in Hellenistic philosophy. For modern Bible students it is difficult to separate theory from fact.
Between the seed ("immortality of the soul") and the plant ("Holy Trinity") you had countless brawls, debates and discussions. Over the years noted men such as IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH, IRENAEUS, THEODORE of MOPSUESTIA and his pupil Nestorius, EUTYCHES, Arias, Apollinarius, Eusebius, and ATHANASIUs -- discussed, debated, defined and presented their different theories as divine truth to the Christian "laity." All of the above (and countless unnamed) were men of influence in the Christian community and were leaders of certain sectarian philosophies. The central point of debate between them was what God's relationship to Jesus and the Holy Spirit was.
Reader, does this sound like a subject that was plainly taught in the Bible by Jesus and the New Testament apostles and prophets; carrying such importance that it had to be accepted for one's ultimate salvation? Does it seem that these men were prophets to you? If so, where was the power of confirmation and why did these "prophets" disagree?
Just the fact that these numerous disagreements took place between them proves that these men were not gifted with prophetic abilities! If this is not true then God Himself is divided against Himself and "that old dog won't hunt!" Reader, if you want your mind expanded -- search out for yourself the roots and history of this controversy. Don't take my word for it.
Don't you think, then, that a doctrine that flows from a crucible of such heated controversy at least deserves close scrutiny? A doctrine of such overwhelming importance that belief in it -- claim proponents -- is required for salvation! Doesn't such a theory deserve nothing less than our undivided attention? And yet it has been accepted by the majority (myself included until recently) without question for centuries!!
Below is a letter sent from Council Nicaea to the church at Alexandria explaining reasons for summoning the council. It condemns Arius even though his actual "sin" was suggesting a view other than the "Holy Trinity" which was actually a minority view at the time.
To the church of the Alexandrians, holy, by the grace of God, and great, and to the beloved brothers throughout Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis. The bishops assembled at Nicaea, who constitute the great and holy Synod, send greeting in the Lord. Since by the grace of God, and at the summons of our most God-beloved sovereign Constantine, a great and holy synod has been constituted at Nicaea out of various cities and provinces, it appeared to us necessary, on all considerations, to send a letter to you from the sacred Synod, in order that you may be able to know what was discussed and examined, and what was decided and decreed. In the first place, examination was made into the impiety and lawlessness of Arius and his followers, in the presence of our most God-beloved sovereign Constantine; and it was unanimously decided that his impious opinion should be anathematized, together with all the blasphemous sayings and expressions which he uttered in his blasphemies, affirming that 'the Son of God is from what is not' and 'there was when he was not'; saying also that the Son of God, in virtue of his free will, is capable of evil and good, and calling him a 'creature' and a 'work.' All these utterances the holy Synod anathematized, not enduring the hearing of so impious, or rather so demented, an opinion, and such blasphemous things...."33
For God is one and there is one mediator between God and human beings: the human, Anointed Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5, emphasis mine).
I want to say immediately, that regardless of your view on this subject, certain difficult scriptures must be considered. Jehovah's Witnesses deal with the "pre-existence" of Jesus (while maintaining the view of "One God") by teaching that the "Holy Spirit" is simply the influence of God, while Jesus was created first and then he created all other things. Jesus, then, as a created being is a "lesser god".
|The Difficulty of the Subject
Some others, such as the Seventh Day Adventists and World Wide Church of God, claim a duality of Deity viz, God the Father and God the Son are deity but deny deity to the "Holy Spirit". The "Jesus Only" model suggests that Jesus was in fact all "three" manifestations (majesties) of God and thus endow the attributes of "Trinity" to Jesus while maintaining the "oneness" principle. As you can see, everyone has trouble dealing with this Biblical theme.
In light of this fact, don't you think it is unkind -- to say the least -- to castigate those that would question the view of "Holy Trinity"? Remember, those who perpetuated the doctrine of "Holy Trinity" contained in the Nicene Creed described it themselves as arising from "propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them!" Are serious Bible students supposed to hang their brains on the wall because the men who championed this theology in the first place falsely claimed apostolic authority?
There can be no disagreement that synoptic gospel historians (Matthew and Luke) record the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem of Judea circa 5 BC. Mark and John both begin their accounts at the advent of John the Baptist's ministry as forerunner to the Messiah. Even those who deny the historical reliability of the scriptures agree that Jesus existed. It is easy to conclude from their testimony that the "man" Jesus was born and did not pre-exist.
However, even disallowing claims of Trinitarians that God was "incarnate" in this man, there can be no doubt that Jesus was unique among all human predecessors. He had no earthy sire. He was the "only begotten son of God".
Only one other man shared a comparable uniqueness and that was Adam. Adam possessed no earthy parents but was created from the earth. Paul refers to this connection by calling Jesus the "last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). However, proving that Jesus was unique among humanity does not prove that he was actually "God in the flesh" or that he pre-existed in some way any more than the uniqueness of Adam proved his literal pre-existence.
In fact, it was the raw material of their being that actually pre-existed both Adam and Jesus. In Adam's case, it was the dust from which he was created. In the case of Jesus, it was the virgin human woman that God impregnated through his spirit. In both examples viz, a lifeless body and a virgin womb, the spirit of God "breathed". On the one hand, God "breathed" into Adam's nostrils "the breath of life". One the other hand, God breathed into the virgin womb "the life giving spirit." Adam, then, was the only created son of God, whereas as Jesus was the only "Begotten" son of God. In both cases, they were fathered by God and became living beings independent of man's procreation.
That Jesus was 100% man cannot be doubted from scripture either. The Hebrew writer describes his humanity like this.
Therefore, since the children shared blood and flesh, he likewise partook of those things, so that through death he might deprive of his energy the one who has the strength of death -- that is, the Accuser... For surely he does not take hold of messengers, but he takes hold of Abraham's seed. Consequently, he was bound to be made in all ways like his brothers, so that he would become a merciful and trustworthy high priest regarding the things that lead toward God -- to the point of making atonement for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:14, 16-17, emphasis mine).
These verses do not say that Jesus was formed in some ways like his brothers but in "all ways." This knowledge, then, fashions the dilemma of this discussion. Since no other humans have been described as "God incarnate" (the Bible describes no person in such terms) or have claimed to be such in the holy writ, it makes it hard to reconcile a theology that claims that Jesus was just that -- literally "God in the flesh."
It is common to hear some say that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. This was what the framers of the Nicene Creed were attempting to say by their "obscure" language:
... the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: And was made man.
The obvious question to such a theme -- in the light of what the Hebrew writer so confidently affirms -- is how could this be true and Jesus still be described as 100% human? Jesus, himself, said that "God is spirit" (John 4:24). God attests that man is dust! "For dust you are and dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19). Wouldn't this make Jesus a schizophrenic in the truest sense of the word?
Biblical scholar and author John Knox states this enigma quite well.
You can have a human Jesus without pre-existence or a non-human Jesus with pre-existence. There is absolutely no way of having both.34
Some Trinitarians argue from the Hebrews text that since Jesus was said to have shared in "blood and flesh" it implies pre-existence. This argument will not "wash", however. The same sharing is also applied to the "children," and no one argues that they pre-existed in order to partake of "blood and flesh"!
I suppose that we could argue, as do Mormons, that there are multitudes of "spirit babies" extant just waiting for a human infant to inhabit, but we cannot so argue from scripture.35 And the Trinitarian view claims this is true as far as Jesus was concerned, except in this case the "Second" person of God was that "spirit baby".
There are many verses in the Bible, however, that seem to imply a "pre-existent quality" to Jesus and we will examine most of them. The method whereby people reconcile these verses with the above Hebrews declaration of Jesus' 100% humanity is what determines their theology. As previously mentioned, a person will not arrive at a comfortable position about this question without serious study and thought. Milton C. Burtt, in his marvelous little pamphlet on this subject, described what it takes to deal with the difficult passages pertaining to this very subject.
... a very difficult passage for either side of the question. superficial thinking will only skim the surface. We must cogitate. Observe these facts and reason therefrom.36
It is necessary to consider the Biblical definition of "Anointed" if we are going to be able to understand its concept in the theologies under discussion. In my opinion, there are few errors that have been more confusing than translating the Greek word cristoV (christos) and its derivative, "Christ." In reality, the English word "Christ" is not a translation at all but an Anglicizing of the Greek word cristoV. In rendering cristoV "Christ", the KJV translators were following the theology already well entrenched in Romanism and the Church of England. Because of its universal use, it has been virtually understood by many to be Jesus' last name. Had the translators even added a "the" in front of "Christ" it would have helped greatly, such as "Jesus, the Christ." This would have at least informed the student that "Christ" was not actually a title or last name. Alas, what could have been. The author has even retorted to those that have used the oath, "Jesus Christ!" by saying, "That's right, he is" to the consternation and puzzlement of the swearers.
|The Real Meaning of "Anointed" (Christ)
Consider this: In the New testament, cristoV (and its derivatives) is used 572 times (obviously a bunch) and is actually translated but 6 times by the KJV translators and most other versions. You may wonder why they bothered with these 6 but their reasoning is traceable. Lets look at these six verses one at a time and in chronological order.
The first time is found in Luke 4:18 -19 and says this:
The Lord's spirit is upon me. On account of this, he has anointed (ecrise) me to announce a good message to the poor; he has sent me forth to herald a release to the captives and a restoration of sight to the blind; to send forth in freedom those who had been crushed; to herald the Lord's acceptable year.
This scripture is significant because it is a quote from the Old Testament and also defines what the function of this particular "anointed" is regarding Israel. We will examine it in some detail later but let's proceed with the others.
The next in order is found in Acts 4:27-8: Peter is laying the burden upon the Jewish leaders by accusing them of participating in Jesus' death. He says,
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus whom thou hast anointed (ecrisaV), both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (KJV)
You might wonder why the KJV renders ecrisaV "Anointed" in this verse (27) rather than "Christ", especially in light of the proceeding verse (26) where cristou is transliterated "Christ" even though Peter was quoting Psalm 2:2 and which the KJV itself renders "Anointed" in the Old Testament Psalm.
But instead of going with "Anointed" in Acts 4:26, they give it as "Christ" and then translate ecrisaV "Anointed" in Acts 4:27. The reason is evident upon closer scrutiny. It would be cumbersome to render ecrisaV "Christ" in the past tense. You would come up with "Christed", and that would never do. This explains their reasoning in the Luke 4:18 verse also.
The next use of "Anointed" rather than "Christ" can also be explained in light of Trinitarian theology and the difficulty they had with the past tense. It is found in Acts 10:38. Peter explains to the household of Cornelius about salvation thus:
How God anointed (ecrisen) Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.
In this spot, you can see the same dilemma. You cannot very well translate ecrisen "Christed" here either, now can you? It doesn't sound right to the ear and would mess everything up. However, if they had wanted to be consistent in the rendering of cristoV they would have done it anyway.
The next example is found in Hebrews 1:9, and is also a quote from Psalm 45:7. It reads thus:
Thou has loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed (ecrise) thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
In this instance, the KJV renders the verb "anointed" in both Old and New Testaments. Did they develop an real aversion to "Christed"? Wonders never cease, do they?
Finally, they translate crisma "anointing" twice in 1 John 2:27. In this case crisma is applied to the believers being addressed by John rather than Jesus. John writes:
But the anointing (crisma) which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing (crisma) teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
There are probably two reasons our friendly translators got it right in this verse. First, "Christing" sounds a little funny (almost as bad as "Christed") and second, the allusion to "anointing" is to someone other than Jesus. What is interesting in this text, however, is that it expands on the definition of "anoint" which we will scrutinize as we proceed.
You can see that the KJV translators were actually "consistent". Yet their consistency was that they translated everything BUT the noun form anoint. It would have been too repugnant to the human ear to say "Christed" or "Christing" so they reverted to the translation process rather than continue to Anglicize. None of the problems of consistency occur if you just translate the word in the first place. "Anoint", "Anointed", "Anointing", "Anointed's" and "Anointeds" (in lieu of "Christians") are not only correct but also work nicely and give the intended meaning rather than obscure the text as does the anglicized "Christ". Let me illustrate the game they played with the definition and use of this word with one more verse. In John 1:41, the KJV reads like this:
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias (Messian), which is, being interpreted, the Christ (cristoV).
Cogitate upon this verse for just a minute. Here you have Andrew telling his brother Simon that they have found the Jewish Messiah and that Messiah means cristoV in Greek, a language which they all spoke. But the KJV does not translate cristoV and yet claims to do just that in the text, i.e., "being interpreted, the (they even added the definite article "the") Christ".
Basically, what they said was, "being interpreted, the cristoV". How does that help you and I if we are not conversant with Greek? It is just another example of them laboring under the Trinitarian bias and the injunction of King James to keep the nomenclature of the Church of England! They would have done us all much more good if they had simply left the Greek word cristoV and its derivatives untranslated altogether.
Notice, they had no problem with interpreting the next verse:
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou are Simon, the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas (khjaV), which is by interpretation, a stone (petroV).
Had the KJV done the same as the proceeding verse they would have said, "which is by interpretation, Petros."
The result of their unwillingness to translate cristoV in the New Testament has clouded the definition of "anoint" and -- as has been previously mentioned -- caused "Christ" to become Jesus' last name rather than a description of his choosing and function.
The literal definition of both the Greek and the Hebrew "anoint" is offered by Vine and agrees with all others:
chrisma ... (crisma) signifies an unguent, or an anointing. It was prepared from oil and aromatic herbs...37
Like "anoint", he defines "anointed" i.e., KJV "Christ" thus:
christos... (cristoV), anointed, translates, in the Sept., the word Messiah, a term applied to the priests who were anointed with the holy oil, particularly the High Priest, e.g., Lev. 4:3, 5, 16. The prophets are called hoi christoi Theou, "the anointed of God," Psa. 105:15. A king of Israel was described upon occasion as christos tou Kuriou, "the anointed of the Lord," 1 Sam. 1:14; Ps. 2:2; 18:50; Hab. 3:13; the term is used even of Cyrus, Is. 45:1.38
As you can note, Vine gives us the definition as well as a good sampling of the uses of "anoint" and "anointed." Even though Vine is a Trinitarian in theology, he acknowledges in his definition that the term "anointed" refers to several others besides Jesus.
Though "anointed" literally means one who has had anointing oil poured upon him, it carries greater significance. The one "anointed" in the Bible was always chosen either directly or indirectly by God. Even kings of other nations are sometimes "anointed" through God's prophets. In this manner, the term carries the idea of not only a specific choosing by the Almighty but also a particular function and purpose. Thus, in the Old Testament, you see priests, prophets, kings, holy utensils, etceteras described as "anointed." In one instance, the whole nation of Israel is called God's anointed (1 Chron. 16:22).
This is very important as we examine the term as it is applied to Jesus and occasionally to his envoys (2 Cor. 1:21) and first century believers (1 John 2:27). There can be no doubt that Jesus was a special "anointed". He was the "only begotten of the Father" and his "anointing" included miraculous power unlike John the Baptist's "anointing". Jesus was not only an "anointed" prophet but also an "anointed" priest and later king.
As God's "anointed" then, he was chosen by God and given a specific function and purpose within the confines of his "anointing." In addition, he was equipped with everything he needed to accomplish his task by the Father. Fortunately for US, his "anointing" included suffering and ultimately the death of atonement as well as his subsequent resurrection and coronation, etc. All of these attributes: his foreordination; his prophetic office; his priesthood; his atonement; and his reign are easily covered within the definition of "anointed". And none of these things require a literal pre-existence.
Personally, I believe the best place to start as we examine the theology of pre-existence is with the gospel according to John. No other historian of Jesus alludes to the theme of "pre-existence" nearly to the extent that John does. Consequently, much of the theology existing today has been inspired by John's gospel. Not only is the interpretation of John primarily responsible for the view that Jesus was "God incarnate" but it is also the main contributor to the doctrine that also includes the "Holy Spirit" among the "Godhead" -- thus the "Holy Trinity."
As mentioned in the introduction, a person's theology will color his translation of the Greek. Such is the case with the gospel of John. Undoubtedly, the theme of John is set forth in chapter one and is developed from there. As a matter of fact, the Roman Catholic commentary on the "Holy Trinity" was developed by alluding first to their translation of John 1:1-14. For this reason it behooves us to look at some of these verses first.
The KJV and most that have followed have rendered John 1:1 thus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Greek word translated "Word" is logoV (logos). Most scholars would agree that "word" is inadequate as a definition of logoV. Vine defines it thus:
"a. Denotes the expression of thought -- not the mere name of an object as embodying a conception or idea... b. A saying or statement..."39
Doctor Adam Clark defines it in this fashion.
"It signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or the faculty of reasoning."40
As previously mentioned, the entire original manuscript of John was penned in Greek capital letters. Given this fact, to capitalize this word in the English is to interpret its meaning and this is what the majority of versions do. Just the fact that they capitalize it in this verse proves their Trinitarian bias and paradigm. It does not mean that they are wrong in their theology; it only identifies what their theology was as they entered their labors. If you change the translation of logoV to a lower case "message" it carries a greater meaning than the English "Word" and changes completely the theology contained therein.
In addition to capitalizing and translating logoV "Word", they also translated the Greek word proV (pros) "with" -- which is not its general use in the accusative case. ProV, as with most prepositions, has a very strong directional sense. Chase and Phillips define its use in the accusative as:
To, towards, with reference to, according to.41
ProV (Pros) is not the word in the Greek that would have been used if John wanted us to understand the "Word" was "with" God in the English sense. "Meta" (meta) would have been used to convey that sense. In John 1:1, I agree with those that render it as "directed toward".
Another thing that happens with this verse in most English translations is the repositioning of the phrase "and 'God' was the logoV," which is the order it appears in the Greek text. Sometimes switching the sequence of a sentence does not influence the meaning but in this case an entire theology can be bolstered as a result. Therefore, you see it translated "and the Word was God" in most English translations instead of "and 'God' the message was".
Another important point that needs to be discussed here is that -- in the opinion of most Greek scholars -- at least the first portion of the John text is in poetic form. The poetic form that occurs is that the first word or principle meaning of the next sentence is the last word or principle meaning of the proceeding sentence. In view of this, let me quote what is in my opinion a superior translation of the passage:
In the beginning was the message,
And the message was directed toward God,
And "God" the message was.
As you can see illustrated by the above rendering, "message" is the last word of the first line and becomes the first primary word of the second line. "God" -- which is the last word of the second line is the first primary word of the next line. This poetic structure appears in other portions of the "prolog" to John, such as:
What has been done in it was life,
And the life was the light of humanity.
And the light shone in the darkness,
But the darkness did not understand it. (vv. 4-5)
As you can also intuit, a tremendous change in theology can be derived by the above translation. Let me emphasize that the above IS a valid rendering and that it is not a perversion designed to undermine the Trinitarian view. The translator, Frank Daniels, did NOT hold the view contained in this thesis when he translated John.
Translating the first verse with the lower case "message" rather than the upper case "Word" also causes the pronoun autoV (autos) -- translated "he" by the "authorized" versions -- to be translated "it", "this" or "the same" because it refers to a neuter "message" rather than a person "Word". Instead of the normal rendering of verse 2 which is,
He (autoV) was in the beginning with (proV) God.
it is translated
The same (autoV) was directed toward (proV) God in the beginning.
The pronoun autoV will be masculine or neuter depending upon the gender of the word to which it refers. Of course, we all know that "word" is neuter anyway. However, the KJV assumed that logoV -- in this case -- was a male person, i.e., "Jesus Christ," so they rendered autoV "he." Do you see what I mean by translator bias? You don't need to be a Greek scholar to notice this bias if it is pointed out to you.
Even the "authorized" versions do not uniformly translate autoV "him" in verses 2 through 4. In verse 2 cited above, they render autoV "He". In verse 3, they give autoV as "him". However, in verse 4, they switch to "it". They are not being disingenuous here, only interpreting according to their paradigm. Instead of the KJV rendering,
All things were made by him (autoV); and without him (autoV) was not any thing made that was made. In him (autoV) was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in darkness and the darkness comprehended it (autoV) not (emphasis and Greek mine).
the alternative would continue the poetic structure with a different and consistent translation of the pronoun autoV as follows:
Through it (autoV), all things were done.
And without it (autoV) nothing was done.
What has been done in it (autoV) was life.
And the life was the light of humanity.
And the light shone in the darkness.
But the darkness did not understand it (autoV).
Do you see the seeds of a "new" theology emerging? The "authorized" rendering of verses 3-5, certainly demonstrates the personification of the Greek logoV (translated and capitalized "Word") by the additional rendition of autoV as "he" and "him". On the other hand, by translating logoV "message" and (autoV) "it" you project an entirely different connotation to verse 14 -- which I believe states concisely the theme of the gospel of John.
Whereas the "authorized" version gives it as:
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
the alternative would read,
And the message was embodied (made flesh) and lived among us, and we observed its glory: glory like from a father's only son, full of favor and truth.
The "authorized" rendering of John 1:3-5 also strongly implies that the personified "Word" was the creator by translating the Greek word dia "by " instead of "through." Almost all later versions, including the RSV, NASV, ASV and NIV, correct this bias of the KJV and give it as "through." However, most follow the error that is compounded by translating egeneto (egeneto) -- a form of the word ginomai (ginomai) -- "made", strongly implying in this context create when the basic meaning is "happen"! Wilson aptly comments on its use here as follows:
"Ginomai occurs upwards of seven hundred times in the New Testament, but never in the sense of create, yet in most versions it is translated as though the word was ktizw (ktizo). 'The word appears fifty three times in John, and signifies to be, to come, to become, to come to pass; also, to be done or transacted."42
Reader, egeneto NEVER carries a "creation" meaning and is never translated such outside the four times rendered such in the first chapter of John (John 1:3,4, & 10) and in these cases the translators strongly suggest create by translating egeneto "made."
Are you beginning to understand the powerful influence of paradigm in the translation process? These men were brilliant scholars and certainly understood the English language and the nuances of word usage. It is easy to identify their bias in this example. I reiterate that it does not necessarily mean that their interpretation and theology was incorrect. It most assuredly shows, however, that their Trinitarian bias (coupled with their fear of King James whose many titles included "Defender of the Faith) "colored" their translation.
If we agree that the proper translation of egeneto is "were done" -- which fits this context -- you have the makings of a whole new interpretation. Instead of the logoV "message" being the creator itself, it becomes the reason that the "all things" under discussion in this text were "done." Therefore, the rendering
Through it, all things were done.
And without it nothing was done.
could be interpreted as saying that God brought "all things" into focus historically through and on account of the pre-existent "message," and his whole plan was conceived and purposed toward this end. The next verse identifies the goal of this "message" as "life."
What has been done in it was life. And the life was the light of humanity.
This also explains verse one's description, "And 'God' the message was." God was the source, inspiration, and accomplisher of this plan and the pre-existent and forthcoming "message" would direct mankind toward this truth. God was the content of the message. The great Revelator, omnipotent and omniscient One described by Paul as one who "... calls things that are not as though they are" (Rom. 4:17), would be declared and glorified by a uniquely prepared individual -- the Anointed Jesus. In other words, instead of having the person of the "Anointed" pre-existing as God, you have the "message" of the "Anointed" pre-existing and "directed toward God." This message is the same message spoken to Abraham and Moses.
A good example of this distinction can be seen in Ephesians 1:4. Paul writes that Christians were "chosen in him (the Anointed Jesus) before the foundation of the world." No one argues from this verse that Christians literally pre-existed but that the plan and purpose of God for their redemption pre-existed. If this is true concerning the believer (the goal of the message), couldn't it also be true regarding the "Anointed" (messenger) himself? If not, why not? Simply put, God had the believer in MIND before he existed so why could not the "Anointed" have existed only in God's MIND before it became flesh?
In the author's opinion, this view makes much more sense than trying to explain Jesus as being both 100% God and 100% man at the same time. In addition, this principle can be enjoined in all references to the pre-existence of the "Anointed" in the New Testament. Even the difficulty of making the switch from the neuter pronoun to the masculine in the first chapter of John is removed when you understand that Jesus of Nazareth was the "message" of God personified rather than "God personified". So the it "message" was embodied in the "flesh" in verse 14. We didn't observe the message itself, but the GLORY of the message, viz the embodiment of the message: Jesus -- a he.
And the message was embodied and lived among us, and we observed its glory: glory like from a father's only son, full of favor and truth.
This view also agrees with John's use of the neuter in introducing the subject of 1 John. Here, John also introduces Jesus from the standpoint of a neuter "message" rather than a person "he" Compare with me John 1:1-4 and 1 John 1:1-2. John 1:1-4 has:
1 In the beginning was the message,
||And the message was directed towards God,
2 The same one was directed towards God in the beginning.
||And "God" the message was.
3 Through it, all things were done.
||And without it nothing was done.
||4 What has been done in it was life.
In 1 John 1:1-2 he writes:
||And the life was the Light of humanity.
1 What was from the beginning,
||What we heard, What we saw with our eyes,
||What we observed and our hands felt
2 And the life appeared,
||Concerning the message of life.
||And we saw and are testifying and are declaring to you
||the life, the eternal life,
||which was directed toward the Father
In 1 John 1:1-2, all scholars render the subject as neuter. Some translate it "that" instead of "what" but there is no difference in the meaning. John emphasizes that "what" they had seen and heard -- their "hands felt". When you think on it, a "what" would require substance of some sort in order to be heard, understood and felt, wouldn't it? And this is just what John is alluding to. Jesus, as the Anointed, was the embodiment of the "message" of "life" -- the "message" that directed people towards the giver of life -- the "Father". This also agrees with the concept raised by Jesus in John 14:19. There Jesus taught Philip, "The one who has seen me has seen the Father." Was he saying they had literally seen God? No one claims this is the case! If he did not intend it literally then how did he mean it? They had beheld the "message" of God personified in him -- not God Himself! Isn't this what John was teaching in John 1:18?
||and which appeared to us.
No one has ever seen God. The unique son, the one who is at the bosom of the Father, that one has related him.
In the above verse, the word translated "related" is exhghsato (exegesato) and is translated "declare" by the KJV. It is the word we derive our English word exegesis. Vine defines it as:
EXEGEOMAI (exhgeomai), lit., to lead out, signifies to make known, rehearse, declare... In John 1:18, in the sentence 'He hath declared Him,' the other meaning of the verb is in view, to unfold in teaching, to declare by making known. See Tell.43
Jesus, as the Anointed One, related to them everything that the "message" residing in him intended. Thus, through his life and teaching they had seen God -- His character, His love, His desire for their deliverance and abundant life, etceteras. As they examined Jesus, they beheld the "life" of John 1:4. As they lived with him, listened to him and touched him, they "heard... saw ... felt ... the message of life."
Not only is this view more sensible and consistent, but it also makes the unique man Jesus even MORE compelling -- if that is possible. This will be developed in detail before the end of this work.
The author realizes that questioning the pre-existence of the "person" Jesus places him considerably outside the mainstream. However, as previously mentioned, when we are dealing with a God that has the ability to "... call things that are not as though they are" -- we must be careful not to project literal meaning to things that He intended as figurative. That the perpetrators of the Trinitarian view are inconsistent when they apply pre-existence only to the Anointed Jesus is easily proven.
There are several people in the Bible that were described as pre-existing. King David was one of those. The Psalmist describes his pre-existence in Psalm 139:14-16. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (emphasis mine).
This Psalm is a remarkable description of the great God of which we have to do. However, no theologian tries to literalize David's pre-existence from this text. How did David pre-exist? That's right, in the Mind and foreknowledge of God.
Jeremiah is also similarly alluded to.
Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations (Jer. 1: 4-5, emphasis mine).
Reader, could not the above scriptures be construed to mean that Jeremiah pre-existed in some "spiritual" form before he came to inhabit his earthly body? After all, God "knew" him before his birth and also "sanctified" him before the womb, right? Or does it make more sense that God was saying that he was calling "things that are not as though they are"?
The omnipotent and omniscient God also speaks of Cyrus, king of the Medo-Persian Empire, more than 150 years before the events described occurred. He is even referred to as God's anointed in the work that he was to accomplish on behalf of the captive Jews.
Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, you shall be built, and to the temple, your foundation shall be laid. Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held -- to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings. To open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut (Is. 44:28- 45:1, NKJV emphasis mine).
As you can see for yourself, in this example Cyrus had God's anointing to perform good things for the Jews that were in Babylonian captivity. He was the one that authorized their return to Palestine to rebuild the walls and temple of Jerusalem that had been razed by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, first king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire circa 586 BC. As remarkable in scope as is the prophesy of Isaiah that recorded these events almost two centuries before they occurred, no theologian tries to make the pre-existence of Cyrus literal. Are you getting the point?
Even Paul alludes to a similar pre-existence as Jeremiah's in Galatians 1:15-16 by saying,
But when it was well-pleasing to the one who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me (on account of his generosity) to reveal his son to me, so that I might announce him to the gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood.
So what can we say to all of this? Simply this. The scriptures that are used to prove that Jesus of Nazareth pre-existed also fall into the same category. It should also be stressed that the literal pre-existence of the Anointed is in no way necessary to our salvation! It is only relevant to the view of the "Holy Trinity". This view creates the difficulty of explaining how that God is one and yet three. Do you remember discussing this question in its various forms and solutions? Obsession with a particular theory will cause one to interpret every scripture possible within the context of that theory. Such has been the effect of the "Holy Trinity" view on scholars for generations.
Lets prove together that the literal pre-existence of Jesus is not required to accomplish the purposes for which he was anointed. In the same way that Cyrus' pre-existence was not a requirement to carry out the pre-existing purposes of God, the same can be said concerning Jesus, the Anointed. Let's also number then so we can keep track.44
|Pre-Existence Of The Anointed Not Required
1. His pre-existence was not required for his person and/or personality as the Anointed. He was certainly "material" before his death and even emphasized his continued "materiality" after his resurrection. Luke 24:39 records it thus:
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
Milton Burtt makes a very appropriate observation concerning this subject:
To theorize at this point and try to imagine an immaterial pre-existent personality distinct from the body is nothing short of subtle spiritualism.45
2. The pre-existence of Jesus was also NOT required for him to be the "only begotten son" of God. The scriptures record that he was born of a virgin woman as the spirit (or breath) of God overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). Those that have trouble believing the virgin birth would have just as much trouble believing that God created man in the first place. For the same reason that Adam's pre-existence was not required to be directly created by God, neither did Jesus (the "last Adam") need to pre-exist to be born without a human father. I doubt whether any would argue that Adam did not pre-exist in the Mind of God before his "advent," however. As you can see, his uniqueness need have nothing whatsoever to do with his personal pre-existence but rather with the existence of an omniscient Almighty God.
3. Pre-existence was not essential for the power resident in the Anointed Jesus. It was by the power of God's spirit (or breath) that Jesus performed signs. Jesus said,
But if I am casting out spirit beings by the spirit of God, God's kingdom has appeared to you (Matt. 12:28, emphasis mine).
This truth is echoed and placed in the context of "anointing" power by Peter in Acts 10:38.
[You know] how God anointed that Jesus from Nazareth with holy breath and power, who went about doing good deeds and healing all those who were oppressed by the Accuser, because God was with him (emphasis mine).
As we can see, without the "anointing" of God and the fact that "God was with him" he would have been powerless. This engenders the question of how the omnipotent God became powerless in the first place. We might as well turn to the old enigma that asks, "Could God create a rock that He was unable to lift?"
4. Pre-existence was also not involved in the atonement of the Anointed nor was it at all necessary. On the contrary, human existence was what was called for. Peter taught plainly that Christians were redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
On the contrary, you were delivered with the valuable, spotless and unblemished blood of a 'lamb' -- that is, the Anointed One's blood (1 Pet. 1:19).
In this, Peter was echoing the pattern of atonement laid down in the Old Testament system as a shadow and type of what was to come. "It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). In fact, the Anointed's humanity is what is being stressed in his subsequent sacrifice as the fulfillment of the old by the Hebrew writer. After making it clear that the blood of bulls and goats would not suffice for atonement, the writer posits that human flesh and blood was required.
Therefore, brothers, since we have freedom of speech by the blood of Jesus, to the point of entering the holy places (By his blood he made new for us a new and living way through the veil, which is, his flesh), and since we have a great priest over God's house, we should come near.... (Heb. 10:19-21, emphasis mine).
As everyone knows, blood and flesh are characteristics of human and earthly organisms and certainly require no pre-existence.
5. Pre-existence was not an essential requisite for the knowledge (revelation) that Jesus received. It should be noted that Jesus is referred to by Moses as a prophet like himself (Deut. 18:15). As Moses received his power and knowledge through God, the same was true of the Anointed Jesus. Luke explains his human mental capacity as he grows in wisdom, knowledge and favor in Luke 2:52. There is no record of Jesus performing any miracles or speaking prophetically before his baptism by John when the spirit of God descended upon him. It was immediately thereafter that Luke connects the power of God with Jesus. After his baptism and testing by the Adversary, Luke notes that Jesus,
... returned in the power of the spirit to Galilee, and a report of him went out through all the surrounding region (Luke 4:14, emphasis mine).
It was from this very context that Luke records the remarkable confrontation between Jesus and the townspeople of his youth. Luke says,
So he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And according to the custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read.... he found the place where it was written: 'The Lord's breath is upon me. On account of this, he has anointed me to announce a good message to the poor; he has sent me forth to herald a release to the captives and a restoration of sight to the blind; to send forth in freedom those who had been crushed; to herald the Lord's acceptable year (Luke 4:16-19).
The next verse records the rapt attention paid to him by those listening. Why, all of a sudden, did they give him such scrutiny? Because of his newly required reputation! News of him had preceded his return to Nazareth (Luke 4:14). It was after Jesus' "anointing" that he was able to receive their undivided attention and it was only then that he said,
Today this writing is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21, emphasis mine).
His neighbors were flabbergasted by what had transpired. The people that had known him and his family demonstrate undeniably that Jesus had never previously exercised prophetic or miraculous abilities. "Today", says Jesus, this writing is fulfilled. Wow! I wish I had been there, how about you?
What occurred required NO pre-existence of any kind any more than did the calling of Moses, Amos, or any other prophet singled out by God to receive power and / or revelation. And as previously mentioned, Jesus often described his teaching as not his own but his Father's. There could be much more said about the character of Anointed Jesus and the honor, power, and glory that he received from his Father, but none of these require pre-existence. On the contrary, they argue against pre-existence. If Jesus was God, he would not have needed to be given anything at all. Some have argued that all the things received by him were already his by right. If that was the case and they were already his -- then how did he receive them?
This question falls into the same category as the question that has bothered generations of Christians, viz how can God be one and also three? As before mentioned, scriptures are often interpreted in accordance with a persons pre-conceived notions -- his paradigm. Burtt put it like this: We become so obsessed with a certain theory that we read it into every passage in the Bible.46
It is an interesting fact of revelation that it took the direct intervention of God and the resurrection of Jesus to prevent the Anointed One from undergoing decay like all the rest of humanity. This had been prophesied by the Psalmist and applied by Peter to Jesus as follows:
|The "Necessary" Resurrection of Jesus
In light of this, my heart delighted and my tongue rejoiced. Furthermore, my flesh will relax in hope. You will not abandon my soul to Hades nor will you allow your godly one to decay (Acts 2:26-27).
Paul, in the "resurrection chapter" of I Corinthians 15, further explains the significance of the resurrection of the Anointed One. He points out that it was after the resurrection of Jesus that a definitive difference between the first Adam and the "last Adam" transpired.
The first person Adam, was made into a living being. The last Adam was made into a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45, emphasis mine).
It was the "last Adam" that was made a "life-giving spirit" and not the first Adam. The first Adam is still in the grave. If you will read carefully the full import of Paul's discussion concerning the resurrection of Jesus, you will be able to note that it was only at his resurrection that Jesus was "made into a life-giving spirit".
Of course, we are all agreed that in his earthly ministry, Jesus had granted life, forgiven sins and performed signs by the power and anointing of God and he tells us plainly that this ability had been given to him by his Father. However, it was later that Jesus attained the permanent attributes of a "life-giving spirit" in lieu of and by means of his resurrection.. Paul emphasized this truth by saying that if Jesus had not resurrected, then any hope of resurrection for himself and the Corinthian believers was vain! Listen to his direct comment on the subject:
Now if the Anointed One has not been raised, then our heralding is meaningless, and your trust is meaningless... if the Anointed One was not raised, your trust is deceptive: you are still in your sins. Then also those who have gone to sleep in the Anointed One have been destroyed. If only in this life we have hope in the Anointed One, then we are the most pitiful of all people (1 Cor. 15:14-19, emphasis mine).
It is my certain contention that if Jesus was indeed "God incarnate" his resurrection would not have been essential for our salvation and redemption. However, Paul says just that in the above text. If the Anointed did not raise, says he, "you are still in your sins." Furthermore, those that "have gone to sleep" have "been destroyed." Review for yourselves the entire context of 1 Corinthians 15 and see for yourself whether this is not correct.
The majority of Jews believed in a resurrection of the body long before the advent of the Messiah. They were not counting upon the good graces of the future Anointed One, however, but were simply dependent upon the power of God. However, God Himself, gave judgment into the hands of the Anointed (John 5:22-27) and "made him into a life-giving spirit" at his "begottening." Notice from the following verse how the resurrection is connected with "begottening."
And we are announcing a good message to you, that promise that was made to our ancestors, which God has fulfilled for our children, by raising up this Jesus, as it is also written in the psalms, ' You are my son. Today I have begotten you.' Now because he raised him from among the dead to never return to decay, he said this: 'I will give you the godly and trustworthy things of David.' Therefore, he also said in another place, 'You will not allow your godly one to decay.' For indeed, David fell asleep, after serving his own generation as God planned it, and he was laid with his ancestors and saw decay. But the one that God DID raise up did not see decay! (Acts 13:32-37, emphasis mine).
The above teaches that the resurrection was also the "today" of begottening. It also points out that if God had not raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus never would have received "the godly and trustworthy things of David". Again I ask why, if Jesus was actually "God incarnate", was his personal resurrection necessary for us to obtain the promises? Could not he -- as a member of the "godhead" -- have resurrected us regardless? If not, why not? And yet our resurrection was contingent upon Jesus' atonement and subsequent resurrection as "a life-giving spirit."
Just as Adam existed as the only created son of God, so Jesus -- before his resurrection -- existed as the "only begotten son" of God. In this sense, however, uniqueness is being emphasized more than honor and glory. However, when Jesus resurrected from the dead -- a real, definitive difference between he and Adam occurred. A "begottening of glorification" and coronation happened.
As the prayer of Jesus proves, the glorification of the Anointed did not take place before his death and resurrection but after. Thus just before his death Jesus prayed,
And now, glorify me, O Father, alongside you -- with the glory that I had alongside you before creation existed (John 17:5).47
Jesus' glorification -- as his prayer indicates -- was going to be accomplished after his resurrection. This was the order in which it occurred. Jesus was foreknown. Jesus was predestined as the Anointed One. Jesus was born of woman. Jesus was called. Jesus was righteous therefore he needed no justification. Jesus died and was buried. Jesus was resurrected and then glorified. As believers, the order of our glorification takes much the same path. Assuming that believers are also born of women, compare what is said in Romans 8 and see if this is not the case.
Now we know that God is working everything together for good: for those who love God; for those who by design are called ones. Because those whom he knew previously, he also marked out previously to be in conformity with his son's image, so he would be firstborn among many brothers. Now those whom he marked out previously, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified. Now those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:28-30, emphasis mine).
It is interesting to note that the above verses speak to a "pre-existence" of all those in the Anointed Jesus but none tries to use this text to prove our literal pre-existence. As far as Jesus is concerned, the only real difference is that he is the paragon of the above description of believers, i.e., our being foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Jesus, however, had no need for intercession since he was sinless and therefore assumed the position as mediator.
As you probably noted, what is lacking in the parallel above is the resurrection of the believer. In the same way that the glory of God rested upon Jesus before his resurrection through his anointing, first century believers had limited glory presently through their faith in him and an anointing. However, just as Jesus received a permanent "resurrection begottening" and much greater glory, believers will receive a "resurrection begottening" and greater and permanent glory at the resurrection described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:43-44. Notice Paul's explanation.
It is also the same way with the resurrection of the dead. It (the body) is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruptibility. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised up in power. It is sown as a physical body; it is raised up as a spiritual body.
From the above text, one can surmise that the believer's future resurrection described would accomplish for them what the resurrection of Jesus accomplished for him -- only the degree of exaltation is different. The glory received by the resurrected believer will be obtained through what Jesus accomplished and will be shared by them with Jesus. This sharing is described in ways such as "... heirs of God and co-heirs with the Anointed" (Rom. 8:17), "... seated with him in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:6), etceteras.
What did this glorification of Jesus consist? At least the following:
||He was highly exalted (Phil. 2:9);
||He was given a name above every name (Phil. 2:9);
||He was to be confessed, worshipped as Lord by everyone (Phil. 2:10);
||He was seated at God's right hand (Heb. 1:3);
||He became the believer's intercessor (Rom. 8:34);
||He became the believer's forerunner and "anchor of life" (Heb. 6:19);
We could go on but this should suffice. What needs to be stressed is that these attributes were acquired after his resurrection. Whatever tribute he received before his death and resurrection was limited and due to the anointing power that rested upon him. However, after his resurrection, Jesus went to the Father and received the rewards of his "begottening" according to Psalm 2:7-9.
||He was proved to be the "son of God with power" (Rom. 1:4).
I will declare the decree; The Lord has said to me. You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the end of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Could not this also be the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6? Listen to the similarities:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
As has previously proven, the above Psalm was fulfilled at the resurrection of Jesus. The reader can see the similarities in the two scriptures. When was Jesus enthroned upon the throne of David? Peter says this happened at the resurrection (Acts 2:29-33). When was Jesus highly exalted and given a name above every name? After his death and resurrection says Paul (Phil. 2:5ff). And yet, if Jesus had actually been God incarnate, none of the things mentioned that he received would have been dependent upon any resurrection whatsoever.
Paul also gives the order that these things will occur and also says that after all is accomplished according to this plan and purpose, Jesus will remain subject unto God, the Father.
For just as in Adam all people die, in the same way also all people will be made alive in the Anointed One. But each one will do so by his own arrangement. The Anointed One was a first fruit. After that, those who were the Anointed One's in his presence. Then the end will come, when he will have delivered up the kingdom to Father God, when he will have neutralized all rule and all authority and power. For it is necessary for him to be king until indeed he has placed all of his enemies under his feet. Death, the last enemy has been stripped of power for he has arranged all things under his feet. But when it is said all things are arranged under him, it is a given that the one who arranged all things under him is excepted. But when he has arranged all things under him, then also the son himself will arrange himself under the one who arranged everything under him, so that God may be everything in everything (1 Cor. 15:22-28, emphasis mine).
These versus say volumes about the subject under discussion. In the first place, Jesus -- being of "Adam" in that he was 100% human -- died but was resurrected as a "firstfruit". God performs this subjection or "arrangement" as part of a preset plan.
Even though some insist on his incarnate Deity because of the supreme dominion that was ascribed to him, the above verses would seem to teach nothing of the kind while alluding to his rule. It says that Jesus will rule UNTIL all enemies are under him and then he will assume a subordinate position in relationship to the Father. This points out again the distinction between the son of man and Father God. This would also again confirm that the prayer of Jesus already quoted, i.e.,
... glorify me, O Father, alongside you -- with the glory that I had alongside you before creation existed
certainly did not refer to his returning to the rank of God as is taught. Rather, the Corinthian testimony speaks to the receiving of rank and privilege as the resurrected, begottened and exalted "son" of Psalm 2 and Isaiah 9:6, then becoming subordinate after God's purpose was accomplished. It was the purpose and plan of the Omnipotent God for his future "Anointed" that had been "alongside" the Father "before creation existed." Remember, it was after his resurrection that Jesus said,
All authority, in heaven and on earth, has been given to me (Mt 28:18, emphasis mine).
When you couple this fact with the direct declaration by Paul that,
... if the Anointed One has not been raised, then our heralding is meaningless, and your trust is meaningless... if the Anointed One was not raised, your trust is deceptive: you are still in your sins.
We are reminded that Jesus could not have been "God incarnate" or our resurrection and atonement would not have been conditioned upon his resurrection. If Jesus was indeed "God incarnate" according to the Trinitarian view, then Paul's rhetorical question to Agrippa could certainly have been asked of Jesus with or without his resurrection:
What!? Do you judge it incredible that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8).
|Obvious Difficulties Examined
Regardless of the view of God you maintain, whether it be the Trinitarian view, the duality view (God is God and Jesus is God), the "Jesus Only" view, or the "God only" view posited in this thesis, you must deal with difficult scriptures. In other words, certain verses must be reconciled to your basic premise and paradigm.
The controversial exhortation by Paul in Philippians 2:1-11 is a good place to start. After encouraging the believers at Philippi to regard others with more esteem than they would give themselves (verses 1-4), he rightly uses Jesus as the paragon of these virtues.
For you should have this attitude in you that was also in Anointed Jesus: who existed in God's form, but did not consider plundering to be like God. On the contrary, he emptied himself, taking a slave's form, having become in human likeness and being found in a human scheme. He humbled himself, becoming in subjection until death, even the death of the cross. So, God also lifted him up and freely gave him the name that is above every name, so that in Jesus' name every knee would bow (in heaven, on earth, and underground) and every tongue would acknowledge that the Lord is Anointed Jesus, to Father God's glory (verses 5-11).
The problem of interpretation begins with verse 6 i.e., "who existed in God's form..." It has been argued by those that believe that Jesus was "God Incarnate", that this phrase is saying just that -- that Jesus pre-existed as God and then became flesh -- inhabiting a human body.
Although this view is widely accepted, it poses all the problems that have already been proffered and then some. If Jesus was indeed God -- as the above argument states -- then he certainly was not made in "all ways" (Heb. 2:17) like me, because I certainly didn't exist as God before I was born, how about you?
The Greek word translated "form" is morfh (morphe) and is only applied to Jesus in this way. It is agreed that its use is antithetical to "... taking a slave's form (morfh)" since the same word is used and is the thrust of the teaching. However, what lies between "who existed in God's form" and "... taking a slave's form" rings the death knell of this view. It says Jesus
... did not consider plundering to be like God. On the contrary, he emptied himself.
Reader, when has God ever been forced to contemplate a moral decision? Does not the source of morality flow directly from God and is therefore defined by Him? The scripture teaches things like "... it is impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 618) and "God cannot be tempted by evil" (James 1:13) etceteras. If God is the source and definer of morality then certainly any decision or action taken by Him would be right -- by definition. It was man that was given the choice to follow God's instruction or reject it. This idea will be developed but keep this in mind.
Yet we have (according to Trinitarians) Jesus -- in the pre-existent state as God -- contemplating a moral decision, viz "Now lets see, shall I remain God or shall I empty myself and become a human?" Puh-lease! I will admit that this verse is difficult but does it drive us to the "God Incarnate" position?
Consider this for a moment. Whether Jesus pre-existed or not, the contemplation and decision whether or not to be like God would have had to occur while he was human. Yes it would! This is true because -- as has been proven and acknowledged universally by all believers -- God's essence and nature excludes Him from contemplating or doing wrong. Think about it. Besides, it was the "Anointed" Jesus (the "son of man") that was "contemplating" -- not God. And Jesus was "anointed" after his baptism (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus was certainly born according to the dating of the historians in approximately 5 BC and became the "Anointed Jesus" approximately 30 years later.
By way of repetition, it certainly cannot be argued from the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that Jesus was anything but "born of woman" as the Hebrew Messiah. He is described as the "son of David", etc. The truth of this is echoed by Robert L. Whitelaw. He states succinctly that:
Nothing in John's gospel alters the Mt and Lk records, or requires that the words beginning, birth, son; mother, beget, conceive, born, etc., must be given a figurative or esoteric meaning contrary to their plain meaning in everyday speech then and now.48
The phrase translated "did not consider plundering to be like God" (Phil. 2:6) is certainly difficult by anyone's standards. The KJV renders it,
... thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
The NIV and NASV concur as,
... did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped.
As you can well imagine, the independent scholars also disagree. Wilson renders it,
... did not meditate a usurpation to be like God.
Clarke has it,
... who did not think being like God a matter to be earnestly desired.
Sharp translated it,
... thought not being like God a thing to be seized.
Since the experts agree that this is indeed a difficult scripture, it would also fall into the category that Peter was alluding to when he remarked that some things that Paul wrote were hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). Since this is the case, we should all be careful not to construct extensive theology around this text.
Unless you are forced to make this word (rendered variously "robbery", "plundered", "seized", "grasped", etceteras) to fit the idea that Jesus was contemplating whether or not to remain God by a Trinitarian paradigm and bias, the word carries the idea of "usurpation" i.e.,
n. 1. The act of usurping, esp. the illegal seizure of royal sovereignty. 2. LAW The illegal encroachment upon or exercise of authority or privilege belonging to another:49
The verb form occurs several times in the NT, and is usually translated "snatch" or "grab." In Hebrews 10:34, the Jewish Christians had been subjected to, among other things, "the plunder of your goods." Taking by force or taking abruptly is always in view in the use of this word group.
As heretical as it may seem, all scholars do agree that the word can mean usurp but in the Trinitarian view (surprise, surprise), the "usurping" has a positive thrust. They say that Jesus would NOT be usurping to be considered God. In fact, they not only have trouble with "plunder," but they also don't like "to be." The Trinitarian Gifford states their position well:
The form 'to be' is ambiguous and easily lends itself to the erroneous notion that to be on equality with God was something to be acquired in the future. Assuming, as we now may, that the equality was something which Christ possessed prior to His Incarnation, and then for a time resigned, we have ... to choose between two meanings of the word harpagmos: (1) with the active sense 'robbery' or 'usurpation' we get the following meaning: 'Who because He was subsisting in the essential form of God, did not regard it as any usurpation that He was on an equality of glory and majesty with God, but yet emptied Himself of that co-equal glory... (emphasis mine)50
Now a regular student of the Bible would probably ask why "to be" in this case is ambiguous. Is the Greek weird in this text? The answer is absolutely not! The text contains the normal form of "to be." The fact of the matter is that the general use of "to be" does not fit the Trinity view and is therefore called "ambiguous" and said to cause an "erroneous notion" to the unpracticed eye (those that are having trouble with Trinitarianism).
Gifford -- like so many are wont to do -- starts with the Trinitarian paradigm before he enters the task of translating and is therefore forced to interpret the text differently than the Greek syntax demands and does so by his own admission. "To be" means "to be." Jesus did not consider plundering, robbery, usurpation, "to be" like God. He did the opposite; he emptied himself.
And reader, don't you think it would be a considerable understatement to describe Gifford's assumptions as quite "weighty" within the framework of his own Trinity paradigm? Interpreting it normally would give (in his own words) an "erroneous notion"! Now I ask you: who says it is "ambiguous" and "erroneous"? Trinitarians do! Well then, we simply must take their word for it, right?
As you can easily ascertain, an entire and binding theology is buttressed by the Trinitarian assumption. Almost universally, you are considered the rankest of heretics if you do not accept the Trinitarian view . This is true even though the view of "Holy Trinity" is derived from a creed -- according to the words of Cardinal Newman previously alluded to -- constructed of "propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them!"
If the Philippian text is not teaching that Jesus pre-existed as God before he was born and had to consider whether to remain so, then what is it teaching? Good question so lets look at the context in detail.
The context is defined and enjoined upon the Philippian listener in the first 4 verses. Paul uses the rhetorical "if" as he encourages them to love one another.
Therefore, if there is some comfort in the Anointed One, if there is any soothing love, if there is any sharing of the breath -- If anything I say has deep feelings and compassions, then make my joy complete, so that you would have the same attitude, having the same love, having united lives, having this one thing in mind: to do nothing out of bigotry or worthless conceit. On the contrary, with a humble attitude regard one another as being superior to yourselves. Each person should not look after his own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil. 2:1-4, emphasis mine).
These verses say many things but the thrust is for the Philippians addressed to consider others and their interests superior to their own. Paul has told them that they were all sharing in the "divine nature" that Peter had alluded to in 2 Peter 1:4. They were all sharing in the "Anointed's" love and breath (spirit). These were attributes of God and not human. They were the result of the new birth and not the human nature. Few would disagree that it is not man's nature to put someone else's interests above one's own.
Were the Philippians to possess the attributes described above "by nature" or "by attitude"? The attitude is what is in view. It was from this foundation that Paul says that their "attitude" needed to be the same as Anointed Jesus' (verse 5).
For you should have this ATTITUDE in you that was also in Anointed Jesus:
This is the crux of the matter. When did Jesus possess this attitude? The Trinitarian view has this attitude residing in Jesus while he pre-existed in heaven as God. Really!! Couldn't we all expect God to have the right attitude? But expecting a one hundred percent man, even Jesus, to possess the attitude of the Divine God, is another matter entirely.
God chose an heir that: was made in all ways like his human brothers (Heb. 2:17); underwent similar struggles and persecutions as the Hebrew Christians (Heb. 4:15); yet remained sinless and without need of atonement. This was his "ON EARTH" state of affairs when he committed himself to take the "form of a slave" and die for mankind.
He had earned his inheritance through sinless living. It was because of this that he said that he had the right to live or die as he willed (John 10:18). This was the background from which he told Pilate that he could summon more than twelve legions of angels to deliver him at his request if he so desired (Mat. 26:53).
In addition, it was the MAN Jesus that made the profound statement to others, "Be complete as your heavenly Father is complete" (Mat.5:48). It was the man Jesus who told Philip, "... the one who has seen me has seen the Father," (John 14:19). No human being before Jesus or after could have spoken those words with a straight face because all were and are sinners. Even before John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Messiah he recognized in Jesus a man more righteous than himself (Compare John 1:32-34 and Mat. 3:13-14). It was in light of Jesus' humanity and yet sinlessness that the Philippians are admonished to treat one another humbly as equals.
Paul is plainly comparing the attitude of the Philippian believers to Jesus' attitude as the "Anointed." He certainly wasn't alluding to an attitude possessed by the Philippians in some pre-existent state, was he? Then why place Jesus in a pre-existent form? Only by looking at verse 6 entirely out of context do you have problems with the phrase "... who existed in God's form ..." This phrase could allude to several things that are unrelated to pre-existence. The simplest explanation has already been alluded to, i.e., Paul was defining the attitude demonstrated by Jesus, thus describing it as "God's form". This makes good sense in lieu of the of the proceeding verse when the Philippians are encouraged to have the same "attitude", right? Are we forced into thinking that Paul is speaking of God's literal state?
Let me refer you back to John 14:9. When Jesus told Philip "the one who has seen me has seen the Father," was he not referring to himself as existing in a "form of God"? If not, why not? He certainly wasn't telling Philip that to look at Jesus was to see God's actual spiritual essence. No, in reality he was simply teaching that his behavior and doctrine were a reflection of God's and not his own. When they saw his life, love, dedication and heard his sermons they were seeing and hearing the character and words of God embodied in this man -- the "message made flesh."
So it is in Philippians! In the sense of the attitude of humility and sacrifice, Jesus existed in the "form of God" -- demonstrating by his actions God's character. It was in character for this "form of God" to assume the "form of a slave" for the purposes of mankind's redemption rather than claiming his rightful place as heir without us. After all, he was God's "only begotten son" and was also sinless. He had no personal need for atonement and salvation. And yet, because he possessed the "form of God" viz, His Character, he took the "form of a slave" -- putting the rest of mankind before himself.
It is this fact that explains the rest of the verse. Paul says,
... having become in human likeness and being found in a human scheme.
It was his willingness to assume the "form of a slave" that enabled him to bear the rest of man's likeness -- sin. It took an active choice of humility on his part because he was personally without sin. But for us to live, he had to bear our guilt, and from this perspective, become our "slave". This is stated several times in scripture and they all sound similar to the following:
God made the one who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in him we might become God's ethics (2 Cor. 5:21).
Yes, taking upon himself the human scheme required a death of atonement -- as Paul describes it -- "even the death of the cross."
So you see, Paul was not speaking of Jesus becoming a human when he says "slave" but a "slave" to mankind and the redemptive process! He had been encouraging the Philippians to do just that for one another -- become a "slave" to each other. It works, doesn't it? Can you see it? And from this standpoint, it was not enough just to die. It was necessary that Jesus die the death of "atonement" according to prophesy and become a "curse". As Paul had taught in Galatians 3:10, Jesus had become that "curse" for US.
The Anointed One purchased us from the Torah's curse, becoming a curse on our behalf -- because it was written, 'Each one who hangs on a tree is cursed' (emphasis mine).
It was only after all this that God exalted him and gave him the name that was above every name.
Another view I find interesting is found in a short article entitled On Having the mind of Jesus Christ or the mind of Adam written by Robert L. Whitelaw. He opines that Paul is comparing Jesus' reaction to life choices to that of Adam's reaction. Whereas Adam was also described to be created in God's image and likeness, he chose to usurp God by partaking of fruit forbidden to him. This fruit was purported to be able to make him "like God." Listen to the serpent's description:
For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil (Gen. 3:5, NKJV, emphasis mine).
Whitelaw paraphrases thus:
"Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though possessing the form (or likeness) of God (cp. Gen. 1:25), did not look upon equality with God as a thing to be grasped at;
i.e. do not let this mind be in you which was in Adam, our first father, who because being made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26) soon grasped at equality with God.
But (imitate Christ who) emptied himself, taking the form of a slave in being made in the likeness of men;
i.e. unlike our first father Adam who, being given dominion over God's creation, filled himself with pride and took the form of a lord not subject to God's command;
And being found in fashion as a man (Jesus) humbled himself (even more) by becoming obedient to (i.e. accepting) death, even the death of a cross;
i.e. unlike Adam who, though threatened by God with death for disobedience, willfully disobeyed and refused to accept the consequences (by hiding from God) until expelled from the Garden.
And for this reason (i.e. acceptance of both submission and death) God highly exalted him (Jesus) and gave him a name above every name;
i.e. unlike the first Adam, whose name, because of pride and disobedience, forever signifies the source, the sorrow, grief, and death inherited by all his descendants."51
I think you get the gist of the parallel. Jesus also existed in the "form of God" in that he was "the only begotten son of God." When faced with the knowledge (through revelation) that he was God's heir and Anointed -- and as Anointed it was God's purpose that he die for humanity -- he chose to do the Father's bidding. Instead of seizing his inheritance without us, he took the form of God's slave, humbling himself and dying for OUR benefit.
Jesus was God's heir regardless of his death and the subsequent human atonement that went with it. As previously mentioned, Jesus said himself that he had the right to die or not to die and that he could have requested angels to rescue him had he so desired. However, had he made that choice, our atonement would never have been consummated. He chose rather to be the instrument of God's forgiveness and to share his inheritance with us. Jesus, then, decided against seizing his inheritance without fulfilling the pre-planned purpose of God. In doing the Father's will towards us, life was granted to mankind. It was this background of sharing in the blessings that Anointed Jesus had procured for us by his attitude of humility that the Philippian believers are to keep in mind as they deal with one another.
Adam, on the other hand, seized the opportunity to be like God by exercising his power of choice to defy God and to "be like God" -- to know good from evil. In doing this, he brought death upon mankind. In Jesus' case, God resurrected him without his undergoing decay and highly exalted him, giving him a name that was above all names. Conversely, Adam's remaining life was cursed and in the end he decayed and may be lost eternally.
I lean towards the former view because of its simplicity and the fact that Adam was not mentioned. However, Paul had compared Adam to Jesus in several epistles so it would not be far fetched to say that he was merely building upon a former reference.
[He] is an image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, because in him all things were created -- in the skies and on the land -- the visible things and the invisible things -- whether thrones or lordships or governments or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him. And he is ahead of all things, and all things have been made to stand together in him, and he is the head of the body (the assembly): he is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, so that he might become prominent in all things. Because it was thought to be a good thing for all the fullness to dwell in him and through him to reconcile all things to him after making peace through the blood of his cross. They are reconciled through him whether the things on land or the things in the heavens (Col 1:15-20).
The theology that "form of God" is referring to Jesus' pre-existent state is coupled with several other passages that seem to teach the same thing. The scripture noted above is a prime example.
Trinitarians argue from the above verses that: 1) Jesus is called the "image of God" which really means God and 2) that Jesus is called the Creator. I obviously disagree on both points.
First, let me address the "image of God" equals God himself theory. Don't you think it might be going too far to equate "image of God" with God, himself? In other words, if "image of God" means God Himself -- then what does "God" mean? If "God" can be described as "image of God" then what does "image of God" describe? Reader, I'm not trying to be difficult. But if you define "image of God" as "God" then you have real problems with defining "God", isn't that true? And don't we see in Genesis 1 that man was created in the image of God?
In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).
How do the Greek scholars define "image"? The Trinitarian Vine defines it thus:
1. EIKON (eikon) denotes an image: the word involves the two ideas of representation and manifestation. (d) of Christ in relation to God, 2 Cor. 4:4, "the image of God," i.e., essentially and absolutely the perfect expression and representation of the Archetype, God the Father; in Col. 1:15, "the image of the invisible God" gives the additional thought suggested by the word "invisible," that Christ is the visible representation and manifestation of God to created beings.52
Lightfoot follows suit in context:
... he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," (John 14:19). The epithet 'invisible' ... must not be confined to the apprehension of the bodily senses, but will include the cognizance of the inward eye also.53
As you can discern in every day life, something can be a perfect representation of an object or person without being the object or person itself. We often say about photographs, "It looks just like him, doesn't it?"
Even though both Vine and Lightfoot hold to the Trinitarian theology, neither equates "image of God" with "God" Himself in their definition. Although it is hard for me to discern the exact meaning of Lightfoot's commentary, he does refer the reader to the statement by Jesus found in John 14:19, i.e., "if you have seen me you have seen the Father" that I have mentioned several times already.
I agree with him completely that this scripture explains quite well what Paul was alluding to by the phrase "image of the invisible God". He was not teaching the pre-existence of Jesus in some pre-incarnate state any more than Jesus was telling Philip that he had literally seen God when he beheld Jesus. Jesus bore an "image", a "form", a "likeness" to the invisible God in his Character, teachings and behavior -- exhibited in the same way that believers are encouraged to be "Christlike" in their manner of life. Wouldn't it be accurate to refer to an individual that taught and acted like Jesus as the "image of the invisible Jesus"? If not, why not?
The supposed reference to Jesus as Creator is seemingly more difficult but can be reasonably explained within the concept of the "Anointed". But first we must deal with some more translator bias. Again, the KJV translators and many that have followed suit, assume that Jesus pre-existed as God before they began their work. Because of this, they incorrectly render the phrase "because in him all things were created" -- translating it as "by him all things were created" (Col. 1:16, emphasis mine).
As you can well see, the difference between "in" and "by" is very significant in English, especially in this context. Whereas "in" might possibly convey the idea that Jesus was indeed the Creator, "by" definitely gives that idea.
First of all, the Greek word en (en) is rarely translated "by" and never carries the meaning given here by the KJV. For example, in Matthew 4:4, en is translated twice "by" in the phrase:
... man does not live by (en) bread alone but by (en) every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
It wouldn't have made sense in English to translate en "at", "in", "as", or one of its many other usage's in this instance, except maybe "on". However, another Greek word upo (hupo) is normally translated "by" when used to denote the accomplishment of some one or some thing upon a subject. An example of this would by found in Matthew 3:3,
For this is the word spoken by (upo) Isaiah the prophet.
But en is used rather than upo in Col. 1:16 within the phrase, "All things were created in (en) him" and yet the KJV translators render it "by", giving the idea that Jesus was the active agent of creation in a similar sense that Isaiah was the active agent by which the prophesy came in the verse "For this is the word spoken by (upo) Isaiah the prophet." The KJV translators and some others that have followed their lead are simply incorrect and again demonstrate their Trinitarian bias in their rendering.
It is certainly a fact that making Jesus the creator in these verses causes several problems in interpreting the context. First of all, you have the "image of God" rather than God Himself creating all things. Also, you have Jesus creating "thrones, lordships, governments and authorities" before he was even around. We certainly know that there was no throne, lordship, government, or authority created in the creation week of Genesis 1. Milton C. Burtt puts it quite well:
"Now there was not one throne of earth created in creation week. The throne of David was created three thousand years after creation week and the great empires of Gentile times depicted in Dan. 2, began thirty-five hundred years after the beginning of human history. But all were and have been created to play a part in the great plan of redemption of which Christ is the center. Had it not been for redemption in Christ, those thrones would not have existed."54
Whether or not thrones would have existed as Burtt opines is really not german to this discussion. However, Burtt's opinion concerning the phrase "All things were created in (en) him" is. He posits that the Anointed Jesus was the reason and the purpose that God created the worlds and everything in it in the first place.
I not only think this is the correct application of this verse and similar ones but that it carries more profundity than the view that holds Jesus pre-existing as creator. Instead of Jesus in a pre-existent state as God creating all things for himself, you have the Anointed man as the total focus, plan and purpose pre-existing in the mind of an omniscient, omnipotent and loving God. This God, then, carried out his plan by creating all things with redemption in view.
This is the reason that Jesus is described as "the lamb that was slaughtered before the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8) This is the reason that Christians are described as chosen "in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). It is from this very concept that "predestination" (literally, to set the boundaries before hand) springs. This view speaks to the purpose of God for our redemption through the Anointed Jesus rather than Jesus' purpose for himself. This is the reason that Jesus is described here as the "firstborn of all creation"!
"Firstborn" carries the idea of preference and not -- as some try to make it -- first in time or place. Paul is just saying that Jesus was preeminent in God's eyes. For example, Israel is called God's "firstborn" in Exodus 4:22, not because they were first in time, place, or power but that they were preferred (for redemptive purposes) in the heart of God. Jesus was most important to God because he was the center of God's plan to redeem mankind. It is consistently taught throughout the scriptures as we shall see. Doesn't the remainder of our text echo this thought. Listen:
... all things were created through him and for him. And he is ahead of all things, and all the things have been made to stand together in him, and he is the head of the body (the assembly): he is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, so that he might become prominent in all things.
Of course, the Trinitarians maintain their consistency in the above verse by rendering the pronoun dia (dia) "by" i.e., "... all things were created by him and for him" instead of "through" which is correct. If Paul had meant "by" in the sense of accomplishment, he would have used the pronoun upo which has already been argued.
As the above verse declares, the total creation was accomplished with a view toward Anointed Jesus. As such, Jesus was the prominent one in the plan of God and therefore "ahead of all things" and the one from which all things "stand together" (or consist).
A good example of the distinction made between the Creator God and the "Anointed Jesus" and the variously applied pronouns found in the same verse is 1 Corinthians 8:6. Notice the two different pronouns applied to God as Creator and the Anointed Jesus -- the reason for the creation:
But to us there is one God, the Father, from (ek) whom all things derive. We live for him and for Lord Anointed Jesus, through (dia) whom all things came and through him we exist.
Now reader, we don't have both "from" (ek) and "through" (dia) referring to the same act of creation. Paul uses the Greek pronoun ek (ek) -- which literally means "out of" -- to call attention to God as creator and then applies the pronoun dia (dia) to Jesus to illustrate that it is "through" viz, by reason of the Anointed that "all things came" and which our relationship with God is begun and maintained. This verse also makes a clear distinction between the "one God" and his "Anointed Jesus" as does John 17:3 which we have already studied.
Now back to our text. The phrase "firstborn of the dead" refers to Jesus as being the preeminent one of those resurrected (there had been resurrections before and would be resurrections in the future) in that he became a "life giving spirit". It was in this context that he was coronated, exalted and glorified at his resurrection. The last phrase proves the validity of this view by saying,
... so that he might become prominent in all things.
As you can again note, Jesus did not attain prominence until he had been resurrected and coronated. It was given to him by the creator which again belies the idea that he possessed it previously in a pre-existent state. As previously mentioned, this is the reason for Jesus' prayer, "Father glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world was" (John 17:5). Jesus was not referring to a literal pre-existent state but rather the glory envisioned for the Anointed as redeemer, king and priest by the only God: the One who "calls things that are not as though they are" (Rom. 4:17).
The introductory text to the first chapter of Hebrews is similar in many respects to that of the Colossians' verses just examined. Notice the similarities.
In ancient times, in many parts and in many ways, God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets. At the end of these days, he has spoken to us by a son, whom he placed as heir of all things and on account of whom he made the ages. he was the shining brightness of GOD'S glory and the sculpture of his basic self and carries all things by the declaration of power. After cleansing sins by means of himself, he sat down at the right side of the majesty in high places, having become as much greater than messengers as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.
As the reader might anticipate, a great deal of confusion is caused by translation bias in this case also. I know that you must be tired of hearing it, but it is true nonetheless. The Trinitarian prejudiced translators were consistent in portraying Jesus as creator at every opportunity -- the above text being no exception.
Trouble begins -- as you have probably already imagined -- with the translated phrase,
... on account of whom he made the ages...
The KJV renders it,
... by whom also he made the worlds...
The NKJV, and NASV have it as,
... through whom he made the worlds...
The NIV says it a little differently but interestingly,
... through whom he made the universe...
The two words rendered differently in this phrase are the pronoun dia (dia) and the noun aiwnaV (aionas). Lets look at dia first.
Most scholars agree and later translations such as those listed above concur, that dia is not correctly translated "by" in the above context. as you can see, the NIV, NKJV and NASB render it "through". As before noted, there is a vast difference in connotation between "by" and "through". It is also translated "on account of" by some as noted in the introductory quotation. Whitelaw cites Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich's definition as follows:
The preposition dia followed by the genitive case certainly means through, or by means of; but it can have no less than 10 different senses: e.g. as to place, time, means or instrument, manner, circumstance, efficient cause, occasion, agency or originator, motivating cause or long-term view or purpose (emphasis mine).55
In this context, designating Jesus the purpose of creation makes perfect sense. For example, he is spoken of as being made "heir" of all things. It is ludicrous to assume that God would be his own heir, wouldn't you agree? It is another case of attempting to bestow that which is already owned to the same person who already owns it. On the other hand, in the normal course of life, fathers not only create and prepare things for their future heirs, they also bequeath those things prepared and created to those heirs.
The context demands the same here. Jesus was the reason for the "all things created" and thus was Made heir of the "all things created". There is really no difference between this text and the Colossians text before perused.
Another important thing can be garnered from the first chapter of Hebrews. If Jesus was indeed God, then why did God have to command the angels to worship him (1:6)? Don't you think the angels would have known about this pre-existent person of the Trinity? If so, they would have needed no encouragement to worship him. Reader, these "little" anomalies to the Trinitarian bias must be answered.
More confusion is caused by rendering the Greek word aiwnaV (aionas) "worlds" i.e, "created the worlds (aiwnaV)" rather than "ages" which is correct. Vine defines is thus:
AION (aiwn), an age, a period of time, marked in the N.T. usage by spiritual or moral characteristics, is sometimes translated "world;" the R.V. marg. always has "age"56
"AGE, aioon, an indefinite period of time, past, present, or future. This is the proper translation of aioon, which in the common version is often improperly rendered world, always, and forever. The word occurs about 100 times, in its singular and plural forms."57
There is another word entirely in the Greek for world -- kosmoV (kosmos). This is the word that is properly rendered world or universe. You can gather from Vine's definition, then, that when the NIV translates aiwnaV "universe," they are really perverting the sense in order to teach their Trinitarian bias.
However, when you understand that the "ages" were created by God for His heir then things begin to make sense. In the Biblical text, both Old and New Testaments "ages" declare the Messiah as the central focus. Of course, what the O.T. prophesied, the N.T. proclaimed as fulfilled. Thus you have this fact expressed in the Hebrew text in the first few verses. God had spoken before through the prophets in various ways but in this "age" he spoke by His son -- the heir and focal point of the "all things" under discussion in the text. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
Just as Paul described Jesus as the "image of the invisible God", the Hebrew writer alludes to Jesus as the "shining brightness of his glory and the sculpture of his basic self". The meaning is the same.
Paul also said of Jesus, "all the things have been made to stand together in him", whereas the Hebrew writer pens, "who carries all things by the declaration of power."
I have already discussed at length the concept of the "image of the invisible God" so it needs no reiteration here. However, what are the authors referring to by saying the all things "stand together" in Jesus or that the he "carries all things by the declaration of power"?
Lets look at the different texts and see if we can decide. In Colossians 1:16, the things that "stand together" (consist) in Jesus would be those things that were said to have been created "in" (en) him which were the "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers" before alluded to as well as the assembly of saints. It is teaching that Jesus was appointed sovereign over all these things. In Ephesians 1:19-23, Paul represents the concept thus:
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he worked in the anointed one by raising him from among the dead and seating him at his right side in the heavenly places, over and above every ruler, authority, power, lordship and every name that is named, not only in this age but in the future one. And 'God subjected all things under his feet' and beyond all these things has given him as a head for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of the one who is filling all things with all things (emphasis mine).
This same theme was echoed in 1 Corinthians 15:24-25 , alluded to earlier in this thesis. It says:
Then the end will come, when he will have delivered up the kingdom to Father God, when he will have brought to nothing all rule, all authority and power. For it is necessary for him to be king until indeed he has placed all of his enemies under his feet (emphasis mine).
Thus, pronouncing him sovereign over "all things" is the same thing as saying all things "stand together", "consist" in him or as the Hebrew writer proclaims, "who carries all things by the declaration of power." However, as Paul states in the Ephesian text and which has been previously proven, this came about as a result of his resurrection and not before in some pre-existent state. I think another look at Psalm 2:7-8 is warranted here. Notice God's promise concerning his Anointed.
I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to me, You are my son, Today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession (NKJV).
In the Hebrew text under discussion, the "declaration of power" could refer to God's declaration regarding the son as is suggested by the Psalm. Either way, the standing together or consisting refers to those things purposed by God for His Anointed.
I've spent a great deal of time on Philippians, Colossians and Hebrews for two reasons. First, they are commonly used to prove the pre-existing "Deity" of Jesus and second, they are representative of other scriptures that will be alluded to in this section. In other words, all other supposed references to the pre-existent Jesus as "God incarnate" can be explained in the same terms. They all fit.
"Pre-existence" Phrases in the Gospel of John
Although the Trinitarian theology is based primarily on verses found in John's gospel, I have saved these for last. I will briefly address only a few of them because all of them can be interpreted from the same perspective -- that is, that allusions to pre-existence are referring to the "message" of John 1:1-14 embodied in Jesus rather than his person. In other words, the concept of the Anointed -- his nature, teaching, function, etc. -- was that which pre-existed in the Mind of God rather than the person of Jesus as a co-equal and co-eternal person of the "Godhead".
It was the "message" personified in Jesus that was going to be alluded to repeatedly. Most of the time Jesus emphasizes that it is his teaching that is from God but sometimes he uses a metonymy and substitutes himself for his words. Let me define metonymy and them we can look at some examples of its use in the scripture. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it like this: A figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something.
At the last supper, Jesus uses this familiar metonymy:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:20).
In this instance, it is easy to determine that Jesus is referring to the fruit of the grape contained in the cup rather than the cup itself. And we all know that cups cannot be poured. In this metonymy, the cup represents the contents.
Coming closer to home, Luke uses the metonymy when speaking of the scriptures written by Isaiah the prophet in Acts 8:28. Philip, instructed by the spirit of God to approach the eunuch from Ethiopia, notices him reading from the Old Testament. The text says,
He was returning to Ethiopia and was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his chariot (emphasis mine).
How does one literally read a prophet? We know that he was not reading the prophet but rather what the prophet wrote. In this metonymy, Isaiah is substituted for the scripture that he penned. You get the point. The use of metonymies are multiplied in scripture and are often used by us as we speak and write as well.
This is the case with allusions to pre-existence of the Anointed. Jesus often substitutes his person for his teaching and visa versa. Let me give you one example before we proceed.
Figures of speech are common in John's gospel and no chapter contains more of them that John 6. After Jesus fed the multitudes he was pressed upon by them to be an earthly king. Knowing their hearts, Jesus engages them in a very Jewish conversation where he claims to be the "true" bread of life. Lets look at a few excerpts and notice how Jesus uses his person as representative of the "message". Jesus begins the exchange in John 6:32-33, 34 .
Indeed I assure you: Moses didn't give you the bread from heaven. On the contrary, my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. For God's bread is the one that descends from heaven and gives life to the creation... I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will by no means hunger, and the one who trusts in me will by no means ever thirst.
Now this salvo by Jesus begins a long and intense discussion about the nature of the Messiah. Jesus goes so far as to tell them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to participate in the salvation that came through him.
Indeed I assure you: unless you should eat the Son of Man's flesh, and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day (verses 53-54).
Now the Trinitarians among us argue that Jesus was being literal in allusions of himself coming down from heaven but was speaking figuratively when it came to eating his flesh. Even they agree that following Jesus' teaching is the equivalent to devouring his person. In fact, Jesus says just that in several places. He sums up the discussion and the proceeding references to his person as metonymies in verse 63 thus:
The spirit is what makes alive; the flesh profits nothing. The declarations that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (emphasis mine).
It is simple to gather from this, that to consume Jesus' flesh and blood is to follow his teaching. Isn't this what he specifically said later in John 8:31-32?
If you remain in my message, you are truly my students, and you will know the truth, and the truth will free you (emphasis mine).
Therefore, what really descended from heaven? Was it a pre-existent person of the "Godhead" descending to inhabit the flesh and blood of Jesus or was it the "message" resident in him? Jesus said it was his word, his "message" that was spirit and life.
In fact, resisting the teaching of the Anointed Jesus identified the unbelieving Jews as those who had "come" from the Accuser.
If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out from God and am now here. For neither did I come of my own will, but he sent me. You do not know my speech for this reason: because you cannot hear my message. You are from your father the Accuser, and you want to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he hasn't stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When someone tells a lie, he speaks like his own family does, because his father is also a liar. But because I am telling the truth, you don't trust me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you trust me? The one who is from God hears God's declarations. For this reason you don't hear: because you are not from God (John 8:42-47, emphasis mine).
Notice the description of those that are resisting the message of Jesus. He paints them as those who are From their father, the Accuser. Was this literal or was he speaking about what they were saying and doing in contrast to what he was saying and doing? To ask the question is to answer it. The unbelieving Jews had "come out" from their father in the same way that Jesus had "come out" from his Father.
Now I ask you again to consider this in light of what John had been teaching from the beginning of his gospel -- that it was the "message of life" that had begun with God, was directed towards God, and had "come out" from God that was made flesh and not God Himself as the Trinitarians would suggest. Notice John 1:1-4, 14 again:
||In the beginning was the message,
||And the message was directed toward God,
The same was directed toward God in the beginning.
||And "God" the message was.
||Through it, all things were done.
||And without it nothing was done.
||What has been done in it was life.
And the message was embodied (made flesh) and lived among us, and we observed its glory: glory like from a father's only son, full of favor and truth (Emphasis mine).
||And the life was the Light of humanity."
Again, Jesus was that "message" personified! So it is only natural for him to use himself and his teaching interchangeably. This he does and he constantly stresses that his "message" did not originate with him personally but with the Father. How could this be if he was co-eternal, co-equal, and co-God? The declarations would indeed have originated with him and yet he denies it.
In John 7:16-19, Jesus not only compares his teaching to that of Moses, he makes it clear that it is his teaching that is from God.
My teaching is not mine, but comes from the one who sent me. If anyone wishes to do His will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God or if I am speaking from myself. The one who speaks from himself seeks his own glory. But the one who seeks the glory of the one who sent him, this one is true, and there is no wrong in him. Hasn't Moses given you the Torah? And none of you is following the Torah. Why are you seeking to kill me? (emphasis mine).
Couldn't it have also been said about Moses that he came from heaven in the same sense that Jesus came from heaven? In reality it could have been said about any prophet that came from God. But in truth, isn't it always the message and not the man that is most important. Paul uses the figure of the apostles as those that are "standing in His presence" when referring to the apostolic message in 2 Cor. 2:17.
In Jesus' case, though, he was a unique prophet in that he was God's only begotten son and was required to do more than speak if atonement was going to be consummated on our behalf. He had to give his flesh and blood in the process and yet this also was part of the overall "message" and purpose of God's Anointed in this instance.
So when Jesus said that he "came down from heaven" as the bread, water, resurrection and life, etc., the text makes no more demands on us to literalize than any other metonymy . There is no more necessity placed upon us to read pre-existence into these passages than the verse in James which reads,
Don't be led astray my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every complete gift is from above -- descending from the Father of Lights. With Him there is not one change or shadow of turning (James 1:16-17).
Though every "good gift and every complete gift" could be said to pre-exist in God's mind, everyone knows that they do not "materialize" until God sees fit to bestow them. In the same way, the Anointed pre-existed in God's mind and then materialized in Jesus of Nazareth when the "fullness of time came" (Gal. 4:4). So the gift of Anointed Jesus originated with "the Father of Lights," like any other "good gift"!
This can be said about all the other allusions to pre-existence as well. When Jesus said, "before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58), he was following the same perspective. The "message" that was "life" through the Anointed preceded Abraham because it had been in the mind of God before Abraham was born. The reference to "I am" was an integral part of that message as the introduction of John states, "And 'God' the message was."
Most would even agree that the Messianic promises preceded Abraham in scripture also, i.e., Genesis 3:15. This makes perfect sense when you consider that Jesus said that Abraham had desired to see the Anointed and had seen him. How could this be? Was he speaking that Abraham was looking down at Jesus from heaven? Don't you think it makes more sense to say that Abraham had been informed through revelation that the Anointed would come through his offspring and that Jesus was referring to this? To argue as some, that the reaction of the Jews proved that Jesus was claiming to be God is unconvincing. They were prone to misunderstand him as they proved continuously.
Reader, the "message" of the Anointed has always equaled redemption and salvation. Paul makes this application when he quoted Deuteronomy 30:12 and applied it to the gospel in Romans 10:6.6-8.
But of the justification that is from trust, it says this, 'Do not say in your heart, 'who will rise up into the sky' (that is, to bring down the Anointed One)? Or, 'who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring the Anointed from among the dead)? On the contrary, what does it say? 'The declaration is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the declaration of trust which we are heralding):
This application by Paul is very significant because the Israelites were told the same thing without any direct reference to "Anointed". Yet Paul includes parenthesis in the Roman teaching because he was equating salvation with the content of what God declared to him, i.e., "the declaration of trust." In this example, Paul is making the "Anointed" equal to the message of salvation and so he doesn't include Jesus with "Anointed."
The reason -- as has been already iterated -- is that "Anointed" carries with it the "message" of salvation with or without residence in a person. Paul says just that by quoting from the Deuteronomy text. At just the right time, however, God took the pre-existent message of the Anointed and embodied it in Jesus of Nazareth.
In the Old Testament reference it was hinted at through the law, sacrificial system, and prophets. This was the shadow system of Hebrews 10:1. This is the reason that Jesus continued to refer to himself as the "true", i.e., the "true bread", "true vine", et cetera in contrast to the "shadow" bread, vine, etc. In the case of the New Testament "Anointed," it required a body because atonement and fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system was wont to be made. As I mentioned, we could examine each Johanine verse that speaks of Jesus' pre-existence and draw the same conclusions because they all refer to the same thing. It should be noted, however, that the "message" of John 1 was "made flesh" at Jesus' anointing and NOT at his birth of the virgin.
Jesus was a prepared vessel and this vessel remained unprepared until maturity. Jesus was around thirty years of age when his anointing occurred (Luke 3:23). The reason for this was most likely to fulfill the typology of the Levitical shadow system since Aaronic priests did not begin to minister at the altar until that same age. So we also see Jesus, "born of woman, born under the Torah" (Gal. 4:4), being prepared by God through the natural aging and legal process to receive the "message".
This is where Mark and John begin their account as before mentioned. Both Jesus and John the Baptist are in their thirties Therefore, it is the "message" represented in the person of Jesus that is constantly in view as John unfolds his gospel. This fact needs to be remembered as we look at Jesus' teaching.
The truth that Jesus was not the Messiah (Anointed) until his "anointing" only makes sense when you are not forced into making the "message" or "word" God himself as the Trinitarians are prone to do. You can see by this that even though the "anointed" was existent with God in concept, it did not materialize until Jesus began his ministry at age 30. Can you see the importance of this? If Jesus was 30 before he was "anointed," then he certainly could not have been the "anointed" (except in the mind of God) before then and yet it was the "anointed" that was the "lamb that was slaughtered before the foundation of the world."
The same could have been said about Jeremiah and others. In Jeremiah's case, God told him that he was chosen to be a prophet while still in the womb. However, Jeremiah was no even aware of this until he was a young man and God -- you could even say anointed -- made him a prophet.
In the instance of Jesus, this can be proven by his very words and the reaction of his fellow citizens of Nazareth to his "anointing" as earlier alluded to. Jesus was not recognized as the Messiah -- even by his cousin John (John's ministry beginning approximately 6 months in advance of this occasion), until his baptism. It was this occasion that John observed the spirit descending upon him as a dove and it was this "special effect" that was to be the identifying sign of the Messiah. It was only then than Jesus proclaimed his anointing fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19, 21. It bears repeating here.
The Lord's spirit is upon me. On account of this, he has anointed me to announce a good message to the poor; he has sent me forth to herald a release to the captives and a restoration of sight to the blind; to send forth in freedom those who had been crushed; to herald the Lord's acceptable year (Is. 61:1, emphasis mine).
When was the above Isaiah scripture fulfilled? When did the anointing occur? Jesus tells us so that we don't have to speculate.
Today this writing is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:21, emphasis mine)
It is no wonder that this statement by Jesus had a profound effect upon his Nazareth neighbors. "Isn't this the carpenter?", they asked. "We all know his brothers and sisters, right?" Their amazement demonstrates plainly that it was the concept viz, the "message" and subsequent power of the "Anointed" and not the person of the "anointed" that pre-existed with God.
The Royal "We"
One argument often mentioned by those that hold the Trinity view is the Bible's use of the plural for God. For example, the Hebrew word translated God is "Elohim" which is the plural form of the word "El" or "Eloah". It is interesting to note, however, that the translators do not translate "Elohim" "gods" because of their basic monotheistic views. Of course, this is the paradox that has been under discussion in this thesis, viz, how God can be one and also three.
In reality, if you dealt very specifically with the plural "elohim", you would need to translate Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, gods created the heavens and the earth." Of course, this would never do since there are many statements in the Bible that proclaim that God is indeed only one. Another argument posed by Trinitarians is that God was speaking to the other two persons of the Godhead when he said, "Let us make humanity in our own image." Who is the "us" in that verse, ask they? Of course, these arguments certainly warrant explanation according to one's views.
As previously mentioned, the Jews (who were the keepers of the Old Testament) never considered the plural use of "Elohim" to mean what the Trinitarians posit. They have always maintained a strict monotheistic view of Deity.
The plural use of "authority" words is easily explained by the concept and former use of the "Royal We." It was common for monarchs of antiquity (the practice is still in use occasionally) to "pluralize" their edicts by saying, "We have decided" rather than "I have decided" which was most probably the truth. This practice should not catch the reader off guard, however. You see, in order for someone to be a king it is necessary that they have a kingdom and subjects to reign over. Without a realm and subjects to exercise authority over, a person would really not be a king. Therefore, as the representative of their most sovereign state, their edicts -- even though unilaterally decided -- were often prefaced with the plural "we." For example, the king might say, "We have decided to raise taxes" when, in fact, it was his decision alone.
The practice of pluralizing words of authority was also common in the ancient Hebrew. Although the practice was disappearing at the time the Bible was comprised, there remain several examples of its usage. The words for lord, master and God might appear in the plural to denote a singular being if the being held authority. If the context expressed control and / or authority, the verb might be pluralized also. In Hebrew usage, "God" (elohim) always appears in the plural for obvious reasons. According to the principle of authority and control, God is the ultimate sovereign: the one who sets up kings and removes them (Dan. 4:17ff).
In Genesis 39:2, the Bible says that Joseph was in the house of his "master" the Egyptian. The translators render "master" correctly as singular in this instance even though the word is plural in the Hebrew text. A similar pluralization takes place in Exodus 21:9, speaking about the "owner" of an ox with the tendency to gore. The word is translated in the singular even though it also occurs in the plural. Again, the substantive reason pluralizing the above two examples is that both "master" and "owner" denote authority and control, thus qualifying under the principle of the "Royal We".
Another great example and one that demonstrates contextual the use of the "Royal We" is found in Isaiah 6:8. After describing God ("elohim") on the throne (an obvious allusion to the monotheistic God), Isaiah records His challenge as He inquires concerning who should be sent to a corrupt Israel.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
In this verse, we have both the singular "I" and the plural "us" in the same manner of usage as in Genesis 2:17, "Let us make humanity in our image", giving a perfect example of the use of pluralization when conveying particular authority. Something similar occurs when God confuses the languages in Gen. 11.
Other examples could be cited but this should suffice. Trinitarian arguments derived from the pluralization of authority titles collapse under close scrutiny. It is just another example of their theology turning out to be a "tempest in a teapot" when examined in context.
|Errors Inspired By The Trinitarian Theology
The idea that Jesus was God led to the theology of Mariology, i.e., that Mary was the mother of God. The syllogism goes like this:
||Jesus was God before his birth.
||Jesus was born of Mary.
||Therefore, Mary was the mother of God.
This I confidently affirm. If the above major and minor premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. This is the predicament of those who have denied the conclusion of the above syllogism and yet hold to the Trinitarian view. All logicians will confirm that if the major and minor premises of a syllogism are true, then the conclusion must be true.
This I will also state. If the conclusion is false then the major premise must be false. Reader, you cannot have it both ways. It is the Roman Catholic church that is consistent in their belief in this instance.
The Schizophrenic Jesus
There is no way around the conclusion that the pre-existence of Jesus makes him a split personality. Burtt puts it in these words:
The doctrine of pre-existence makes Jesus two personalities. First, a pre-existent immaterial personality prior to his birth of the virgin; second, a post-existent material personality in human form. Therefore, only the post-existent personality died.58
Not only are we faced with the dilemma already referred to, i.e., how can Jesus be 100 % God and 100% man?; but you must answer the question, who died at Calvary?
An eternal God cannot die or he would not be eternal and yet there are those that maintain that this is exactly what occurred. You have those that say that the "full nature of Jesus" (100% God and 100% man) suffering death and therefore have immortality subject to death. This is a plain contradiction and impossible to reconcile logically.
It was just such inconsistency that led to the proposition made popular by Calvin that only the human part of Jesus died on the cross. If the Trinitarian view is correct, it is Calvin and his disciples that are right. This is accomplished with the same type syllogism demonstrated by the Mariolgy argument noted above.
The syllogism would look something like this:
||Jesus was in fact both 100% God and 100% human.
||But God, being eternal, cannot die.
||Therefore, only the human part of Jesus died at Golgotha.
As before noted, it is a proven fact in logic, that if the major and minor premises are true then the conclusion must be true. Therefore, if Jesus was in fact "God Incarnate". To reject Calvin's argument is to argue that he was not such. You simply cannot have it both ways.
God Incarnate Nullifies Faith
Another error caused by the theology of Jesus being "God incarnate" is captured with the question, was Jesus a man of faith? If Jesus pre-existed before his birth as a member of the Godhead, then he was simply implementing his own scheme while on earth. If this is the case, he certainly could not be what he often challenged his followers to be -- a person of faith. "Oh you of little faith" was uttered several times to those he taught.
Jesus' words and actions, however, were a constant tribute to his personal faith. As has been before proven, Jesus (after his anointing) practiced miraculous signs by the power of God's holy breath. He also continually alluded to what he taught as words that came from the Father and not from himself. In this, he affirmed that he was acting according to the same faith that other prophets of God had acted upon. It was necessary that he follow the message received by him through "inspiration" and do accordingly.
After his anointing, he was led into the wilderness by the spirit to undergo special temptation. Jesus answered the Adversary by faith, i.e., he quoted scripture. In this way, Jesus demonstrated the same method of resistance that all believers are called upon to use (see Ephesians 6:10ff). How did Jesus know that there were 12 legions of angels at his disposal? If Jesus did not act by faith, why the intense anguish and tears in the garden?
The fact that Jesus was 100% man makes his life and ministry even more compelling. He had to accept "by faith" that he had no earthly father. He had to accept "by faith" that he was the Messiah. He had to accept "by faith" the redemption plan and the necessity of dying the death of the cursed on a cross. When you couple his actions of "faith" with the tremendous love of humanity resident in him you can understand why the apostle Paul had trouble comprehending the "love of the Anointed which surpasses knowledge".
Reader, try contemplating Jesus from the view that he was not God incarnate for just a moment as you meditate on the following scriptures.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, so that he would give to you, according to the wealth of his glory, to be strengthened with strength through his breath in the inner man, that the Anointed One may dwell in your hearts through trust; so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19, emphasis mine).
Yes indeed, reader, it is one thing to be God incarnate -- knowing all things and acting according to what you had previously planned and decided -- occupying a human body; spending a few years on earth and removing your true essence from the physical body at death. Doing all this while knowing full well -- by sight and not by faith -- that death was not really the end.
In is another thing entirely to live a sinless life under law: accept the Messianic mission of life and cruel death "by faith" when death was not required of oneself; press on and die the death of redemption and humility; and to accept "by faith" that death was not really the end while trusting in the promises of an unseen God to resurrect you.
You see, reader, Jesus faced death like every God-trusting mortal and on the same terms with those of us that embrace his promise of resurrection and immortality. We believe it because we read of it in the scriptures. We trust in it because of the historical testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead. Jesus believed it because he trusted the Old Testament scripture concerning the Messiah that said,
You will not abandon my soul to Hades nor will you allow your godly one to see decay.
Yes, God loved humanity to the point that he was willing to give us his only begotten son; the only one in the history of the world that was flawless in his life and obedience. If we, as sinners, are precious to our creator just think of how dear Jesus must have been to the Father.
Now, try to grasp the love of this man Jesus who accepted his lot in life and faced the cruel, redemptive death of the cross that all believers might share in his inheritance. Yes, indeed, this is the love that surpasses knowledge. This is the view of the unique man Jesus and not God incarnate.
As you are most assuredly aware, the Trinitarian view also posits that the "Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost" is the third person of the one "Godhead." In light of this hypothesis, it becomes necessary to examine the words translated "spirit" in the Bible.
|The Multifaceted "spirit"
The Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma (pneuma) are the root words translated variously, "spirit", "breath", "wind", and even occasionally "ghost" in the New Testament. This word is sometimes preceded by "holy" and is coupled with other words such as "bondage" and "adoption" (Rom. 8:15) which can make its contextual meaning difficult.
As moderns, we can relate to this difficulty of meaning since English contains a great variety of meanings for "spirit". The American Heritage Dictionary's definition will illustrate this point.
"(sp¡r ¡t) n. 1. The vital principle or animating force traditionally believed to be within living beings. 2. The soul, considered as departing from the body of a person at death. 3. Spirit. The Holy Ghost. 4. Spirit. CHRISTIAN SCIENCE God. 5. A supernatural being, such as a ghost. 6. a. The part of a human being associated with the mind and feelings as distinguished from the physical body: still with us in spirit. b. The essential nature of a person. 7. A person as characterized by a stated quality: He is a proud spirit. 8. An inclination or tendency of a specified kind. 9. spirits. A mood or emotional state. 10. A particular mood or emotional state characterized by vigor and animation. 11. Strong loyalty or dedication. 12. The predominant mood of an occasion or period: "The spirit of 1776 is not dead " (Thomas Jefferson). 13. The real sense or significance of something: the spirit of the law. 14. Often spirits. An alcohol solution of an essential or volatile substance. 15. spirits. An alcoholic beverage."
You are witness to definitions that range from an "animating force" to that which alters this force, i.e., "alcoholic beverage." In between these are ghosts and goblins as well as human essences and personality traits. The multi-media dictionary lists 199 related words and terms to that of the English word "spirit."
I point this out to show the difficulty of translating and interpreting pneuma in the New Testament. Even Trinitarian translators disagree when to capitalize pneuma "Spirit" or when to leave it in the lower case. As you can well imagine, the translation of this word will be greatly effected by translator bias and theology.
Whitelaw comments briefly on the etymology of this word as follows:
"Every mention of God's spirit (some 400 times) in our English Bible is translated in the OT from the feminine Hebrew word 'ruach' and in the NT from the neuter Greek word 'pneuma', these being the only two words God inspired the writers of Scripture to us. Both words were part of everyday Hebrew or Greek speech, having the literal meaning, breath or wind. By the figure of speech called metonymy, ruach and pneuma came into use to signify breath of life, power, mood, temper, personality and the like, and so it is used in the text of Scripture as well as in the English word 'spirit' today."59
I think it would be good here to say something about the use of "the" in the Greek. The Greek language is different from English in that the definite article "the" can be supplied even though it doesn't appear in the text. In other words, the definite article is implied rather than specific. In fact, the definite article is sometimes added for emphasis. There is also debate among scholars of the relative importance of the definite article, i.e, its absence or appearance.
However, when dealing with the Greek pneuma, you can very well see that to add the definite article "the" promotes the Trinitarian theology and can sometimes obscure the text. Suffice it to say that Trinitarian translators commonly prefaced "holy spirit" with the definite article when none was in the text. In their view it was always implied. For your personal study I have listed several instances that the NKJV and most other translations have added the definite article where none appeared in the text along with the alternative rendering so that you can see the great significance of translation bias.
||"(Mary) was found with child of the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "(Mary) was found to be with child by holy breath."
||"... that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "... that which is conceived in her is by holy breath."
||"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Alt. "He will baptize you with holy breath and fire."
||"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit"
Alt. "He will baptize you with holy breath."
||"(John the Baptist) will be filled with the Holy Spirit..."
Alt. "(John the Baptist) will be filled with holy breath..."
||"The Holy Spirit will come upon you (Mary)."
Alt. "... holy breath will come upon you."
||"and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "and Elizabeth was filled with holy breath."
||"Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "Now his father Zachariah was filled with holy breath."
||"... and the Holy Spirit was upon him (Simeon).
Alt. "... and holy breath was upon him."
||"Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan."
Alt. "Jesus, being full of holy breath, returned from Jordan."
||"... this is he who baptized in the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "... This is he who baptized in holy breath."
||"Receive you the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "Receive holy breath."
||"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "And they were all filled with holy breath."
These are just a few of the examples found in the New Testament where the translators added the definite article to pneuma and capitalize Spirit. It would be worthwhile for the reader to examine for himself an interlinear text of the Greek New Testament and look at all the times the translators supply the definite article to pneuma. At times it becomes very significant in interpreting the context.
A couple of the above verses are worth examining briefly as we proceed. In Luke 1:35, you will notice that "holy breath" is equated with the "power" of God in the same place. The entire verse reads like this:
And the angel answered and said to her (Mary), holy breath will come upon you, and the power of the Highest One will overshadow you; therefore, also, that holy one who is to be born will be called the son of God (emphasis mine).
The influence of God or "holy breath" in this instance denotes God's power to impregnate Mary independent of man. However, in Luke 1:15, "holy breath" denotes prophetic gifts without miracles in the case of John the Baptist. Luke says that John was to be "filled with holy breath even from his mother's womb" and yet we read in John 10:41 that "John indeed performed no signs." The same could be said concerning Elizabeth, Zacharias, and Simeon. All were described as full of "holy breath" but only from the standpoint of prophetic utterances. So, reader, you can see that by the addition of the definite article, translating pneuma "Spirit" or "Ghost" and capitalizing the same along with "holy" the Trinitarian view is fostered. On the other hand, by dropping the definite article, translating pneuma "breath" and leaving them all in lower case letters, pneuma can be seen as the Medium of the various influences of God rather than a person.
Even with the definite article appearing before "spirit", it can be ambiguous in the Greek as well as the English and is therefore extremely susceptible to translator bias. Consider the following example:
||"... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Alt. "... and you will receive the gift of the holy breath."
A careful student must ask himself whether the usage here refers to a being or to a phenomenon? Another interesting fact should be mentioned here. Even though the definite article is used many times to preface "Holy Spirit" by the translators where it does not actually appear in the text -- the definite article does indeed preface "God" in the Bible more than 95% of the time -- most of the time for the purpose of emphasis.
From a certain perspective, enthroning the "Holy Spirit" as the third person of Deity is even more perverse than the view that Jesus pre-existed as God before his advent. This criticism flows from the fact that God's "spirit" is an obvious anthropopathism.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines anthropopathism as:
"The attribution of human characteristics and feelings to nonhuman beings, inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena."
anthropopathism (closely related to anthropomorphism) is a long word and hard to say but it is commonly used in the scriptures. Bible students are aware that the God -- who Jesus defined as "Spirit" (John 4:24) -- was constantly endowed with human characteristics. God is spoken of as having "arms", "hands", "eyes" and "ears", etc. and yet no theologian attempts to make these anthropopathisms persons of the "Godhead"! Yet Bible students will note that God's "spirit" or "breath" is continually endowed with personality and deified.
Below is a list of anthropopathisms in the Bible.60
|Having Human Senses and Body Parts:
||(Heb. peh; Gk. stwma, n..)
||(Heb. ayin; Gk. ophthalmos, m)
||(Heb. ozen; Gk. ous, n)
||(Heb. ruach; Gk, pneuma, n.)
||(Heb. aph, ruach; Gk. euwdia, f.)
||(Heb. gol; Gk. phwne, f.)
||(Heb. yad; Gk. cheir, f.)
||(Heb. panim; Gk. proswpon, n.)
||(Heb. shekem; Gk. wmos, m.)
||(Heb. Zeroa; Gk. brachion, n.)
||(Heb. etsba; Gk. daktulos, m.)
||(Heb. regel; Gk. pous, m.)
||(Heb. cheq; Gk. kopos, m.)
By careful examination and deduction, it would be possible to include any one of the above anthropopathisms in the "Godhead" on the same terms as "spirit." Yet all of the above refer to some particular influence or attribute of God described in a human characteristic.
Let me reiterate. One could just as correctly endow the "finger" of God with personality as the "spirit" of God. As a matter of fact "finger" and "spirit" are used interchangeably in the New Testament. In Matthew 12:28, Jesus says this:
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit (pneuma) of God, then the kingdom of God is come upon you (KJV).
However, in the parallel verse in Luke 11:20, it is recorded like this:
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you (KJV, emphasis mine).
Now I ask you, which is it? Did Jesus cast out devils by the "Spirit of God" or the "finger of God"? Are you beginning to understand the nuances of this example? The translators could just as easily have capitalized "finger" as they capitalized "Spirit". The context was the same. The setting was the same. And the meaning was the same. It was by the dynamics of God Almighty that Jesus cast out these spiritual beings and both "finger" and "Spirit" are representative here of God's influence and power! In this case -- in addition to the anthropopathism -- we have another metonymy where "finger" and "spirit" stand for the power of God.
Concisely, then, the Hebrew and Greek uses of spirit of God, God's spirit or God's holy spirit are simply referring to the influence of God in some capacity as are all the other anthropopathisms already mentioned and listed. Also, the English word "breath" could correctly be substituted for "spirit" in these cases.
I need to add this here. Translating pneuma "Ghost" was acceptable in the seventeenth century, but "ghost" has a different meaning today. There is another Greek word for ghost or apparition which is fantasma (phantasma). It is found in Matthew 14:26. When Jesus' disciples saw him walking on the water they exclaimed, "... It is a ghost (fantasma)" (ASV). The phrase "Holy Ghost" has endured until this day in many fundamental churches.
Whether translated "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit", the result has been confusion and misapplication. There doesn't seem to be any subject so controversial in modern times as the influence of the "Holy Spirit". From the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant "layman", the "Holy spirit" or "Ghost" has been invoked to justify contradictory theologies, doctrines, prophesies, words, thoughts, feelings as well as all types of weird behavior. Yet the Biblical text justifies none of these things. The late scholar Foy E. Wallace says it well:
The one who claims personal experience as an evidence of the indwelling Spirit abandons the Bible -- he cannot prove it by the Bible, so he proves in by himself. But that is the personal proof that a Holiness preacher offers, and the same facility that establishes one will establish the similar claims of all the cults.61
The unwarranted capitalization of the same words helped perpetuate the erroneous theology that this influence of God translated "holy spirit" or "Holy Ghost" is actually the third person of Deity. However, with just surface examination, we can see that this is not the case.
The Trinitarian Foy E. Wallace, quoted above, wrote a marvelous little book called The Mission And Medium Of The Holy Spirit. In this book Wallace argues that the "Holy Spirit" was the person of the "Godhead" that inspired the apostles and prophets to scribe the medium of revelation, i.e., "The Word of God". While agreeing with much of Wallace's idea, I differ with him in this. It is my opinion that the influences of God -- variously alluded to as the "holy spirit", "holy breath" or "spirit of truth" -- are the direct MEDIUM, whereas, God's message (written as our Bible) is simply one of the offshoots of the Medium itself. The scriptures, therefore, became the record of God's actions upon the hearts and lives of the prophets and His people. From this perspective, the "holy spirit" was the Medium of God's influence, whether revelation or the manifestation of His presence through signs and wonders. The Bible is the record of God's influence and actions of the past and is true to the extent that it represents an accurate representation.
|God's Spirit: the Medium of God's Influence
As previously mentioned, God's "spirit" denotes the influence of God in some capacity. It can refer to God's omni-presence as in Psalm 139. David asks simply,
Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (NKJV)
This verse is worth noting for two reasons. First, as the reader can see, "Spirit" and "presence" are used interchangeably and yet "Spirit" is capitalized according to Trinitarian bias even though unwarranted.
Second, this is a good example of Hebrew parallelism in Psalmic poetry, viz the first and the second lines say the same thing in different ways. This is very common in the Psalms. Therefore, "Or where can I flee from Your presence?" is the same as saying, "Where can I go from your Spirit?" As mentioned above, in this instance, "Spirit" is referring to God being ever present even though unseen.
Many times alluding to God's ruach or pneuma is a reference to the omnipotence of God -- His power. There is a multitude of examples, but one verse already mentioned is worth repeating. The power of God is what Jesus claimed to have at his personal disposal. As mentioned in Matthew 12:28 Jesus said,
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit (pneuma) of God, then the kingdom of God is come upon you (KJV).
We know that "Spirit of God" here refers to the power of God because Luke substitutes "finger" for "Spirit" as previously mentioned.
The Holy Pneuma -- The Medium Of Confirmation
Jesus used miracles to bolster his claims as the Messiah and redeemer of Israel. John says that the "signs" that Jesus did were recorded so that the reader...
... might believe that Jesus is the Anointed One -- God's son -- and so that, trusting, you might have life in his name (John 20:31, emphasis mine).
The power of God displayed through God's holy pneuma in both old and new Testaments is always demonstrative of God's presence. Combined with the presence of God's prophet, miraculous signs testify to the words of the prophet or to the fact the prophet is from God. Jesus claimed the power that accompanied his teaching proved "the kingdom of God has come upon you" in the above verse.
It was also the witness of God's holy pneuma that agreed with the testimony of Jesus' envoys as they proclaimed the message of the Anointed as demonstrated in Acts 5:32.
And we are witnesses to these declarations as is the holy breath (pneuma) which God gave to those who obey him.
This was the common theme for the display of God's power through His pneuma variously translated "Spirit", "spirit" and "breath" in the text. It was for confirmation purposes. Two more examples will be noted here.
After Jesus arose from the dead, he commissioned his envoys to go and proclaim the message of salvation with these words and promises.
Go into all the world and herald... And these signs will follow those who trust: in my name they will cast out spirit beings; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover... And they went out and heralded everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the message through the accompanying signs (Mark 16:15a, 17-18, 20, emphasis mine).
That these "signs" were to be accomplished by God's pneuma is evidenced by the allusion to the same confirming power that accompanied the envoy's message in Hebrews 2:3-4 as follows:
... how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This was first received through the Lord to be spoken by those who heard him. It was confirmed for us with the co-testifying of God -- both by signs and wonders and by various powers and by distributions of the holy breath (pneuma) -- according to what he wanted (emphasis mine).
The use of the holy pneuma for confirmation purposes is also called "sealing." The seal in ancient times as well as today is used to bestow official sanction. It is from this official "seal" that the English phrase "the stamp of approval" derives its meaning. In Matthew 27:66, Jesus' tomb was made secure by placing a large stone in front of the door, placing a large Roman guard on station as sentinels, and by "sealing" it in the name of Rome. The seal demonstrated to all concerned that the authority and power of the Roman Republic stood behind the securing of this sepulcher.
Paul uses "seal" when referring to God's imprimatur in recognizing the ekklesia of Anointed Jesus in Ephesians 1:13-14:
In him you also trusted, after you heard the message of truth, the good message of your salvation; in whom also, having trusted, you were sealed with the holy breath of promise, which is an assurance of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of his glory (emphasis mine).
The KJV renders "assurance" "earnest" and many commentators try to make this word mean down payment. This is clearly incorrect. Wallace's comments on this point are worthy of repetition.
But the word earnest in the old text is all right -- it means assurance; and the assurance to the Gentiles of the same heritage of salvation with the Jews was the guarantee that had been stamped on the Word of Truth through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In this new covenant the Jews and the Gentiles together had the earnest of the Spirit -- the assurance, pledge and guarantee of their salvation. This seal and earnest of the Spirit is called that Holy Spirit of promise; and simply reverts to Pentecost.62
As Wallace mentions above, the Ephesian text agrees with Peter's statements on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:38 as well as Acts 5:12 already stated:
Change your minds and be baptized in the name of Anointed Jesus into forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the holy breath (pneuma).
And we are witnesses to these declarations -- as is the holy breath (pneuma) -- which God gave to those who obey him.
In many instances, the ambassador carried the seal of the state that was representative of his authority as he acted within his official capacity. It is in this sense that Paul alludes to the authority of the envoys of Jesus as a "seal". Paul refers to the holy pneuma that accompanied the apostolic ministry as a means of proving their words were from God -- their "stamp of approval". In 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul refers to the apostolic "sealing" thus:
Now the one who is establishing us together with you into the Anointed One and the one who anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave the assurance of the breath (pneuma) in our hearts (emphasis mine).
It should be noted that in this instance the apostle is referring to himself and those that shared the apostolic ministry as those that were "sealed" and not all believers. If you will examine the above verse, you will easily note that Paul distinguishes between "you" (the Corinthians addressed) and the "us" (himself and the other envoys). Later in this epistle, he refers to himself and those sharing in the apostolic ministry as ambassadors.
The holy Pneuma -- The Medium Of Revelation
The other main use for "spirit of God" or "holy breath" as God's Medium of influence is referring to revelation, i.e., God influencing the thinking and words of the prophets. Wallace reminds his readers of the necessity of a medium in revelation thus:
"In the nature of things it is impossible for spirit to contact spirit without medium, except through miraculous process, as upon the prophets of God and the apostles of Christ... The influence of the Holy spirit is either by direct entrance into the heart or it is mediated by the truth -- there is no third method thinkable or possible -- nor can it be both. The appeal must be made to the Word of God itself, as the source of revealed truth, on this and all other questions."63
Many times revelation was coupled with signs as already noted but not always. From this aspect we read of David saying,
The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
And his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me (2 Sam. 23:2-3).
I left these verses in their poetic form to point out again the use of Hebrew parallelism already referenced. Notice the progression. Here, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me" means the same as "His word was on my tongue." "His word" and "Spirit of the Lord" are used interchangeably. It is easy to note the Trinitarian bias as "spirit" is capitalized but not "word".
In the next verse, "God" and "Rock" are used interchangeably and both are capitalized. Why, then, are not both "Spirit" and "word" capitalized? You can grasp this without difficulty. As you can plainly see, in this case "Spirit of the Lord" refers to revelation and the prophetic gift. Peter explains the use of God's holy pneuma in the revelation process in 2 Peter 1:20-21.
Know this first: no written prophecy becomes its own interpretation. For at no time was prophecy brought by human wishes but people from God spoke as they were carried by holy spirit (pneuma).
Paul expands upon this arrangement in Ephesians 3:3-5.
How that by revelation he made known to me the secret (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge of the secret of the Anointed One), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the spirit (pneuma) to his holy envoys and prophets (emphasis mine).
This is a good text to exegete from the aspect of pneuma being used for revelation. It was the "He" of the first verse that revealed to Paul things before kept secret. How did the "He" make it known? That's right "by the Spirit (pneuma)" (NKJV).
We usually read "by the Spirit," which is literally the Greek en pneuma (en pneuma) and could correctly be rendered "in spirit" or "spiritually" (as opposed to physically). There is also no definite article "the" in the Greek. It was supplied by the translator according to their Trinitarian bias. Here, the medium God used to reveal secrets was called "spirit" (pneuma). It is another use of metonymy that was defined and discussed previously. This is obviously the same "spirit (pneuma) of truth" promised by Jesus to his chosen envoys.
The holy pneuma: The Medium of God's "Comfort"
There were three main arguments posited by the creed makers that attended the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD that personalized God's holy pneuma. The allusions by Jesus to the sending by him of the "Advisor" in John 14-16, the "baptismal family" of Matthew 28:18, and the "Spirit" verses found in Romans 8:26-27. We will look at all of them in detail but by far the most important to them are the "Advisor" verses of John.
Most remain unaware that in the New Testament times, God's holy pneuma and Jesus are sometimes used interchangeably. A good example is found by comparing Mark 13:11 with Luke 21:15. Mark records it thus:
But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand what you shall speak, but whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you that speak but the Holy Spirit (pneuma) (NKJV).
Now notice Luke's parallel found in Luke 21:15:
Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist (NKJV, emphasis mine).
The nuances of the above parallel are worth developing. How was it that Jesus became the "holy spirit (pneuma)" or the "spirit (pneuma) of truth"? You will notice that the above stated parallel equates Jesus as the "Holy Spirit" during the time of his envoy's persecution. This occurred after the establishment and the progression of the ekklesia, i.e., after Pentecost (Acts 2:1) and after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The promise, however, was made by Jesus to them before his death as referenced above.
Jesus made the statement to his disciples just before his death that he would not leave them orphans but would send them "another" (Greek, allon (allon) i.e., another of the same kind) "advisor" (also rendered "Comforter," "Helper," "Counselor," depending on the translation), i.e., the "spirit (pneuma) of truth." As previously mentioned, these references to the "advisor" are used by Trinitarians to prove that the "Holy Spirit" is another person of deity. They do this by their commentaries, of course, and by capitalizing both "spirit" and "truth" as well as "comforter." However, Jesus is referring to himself and the message that he carried that would return to them in the form of an "advisor" viz, the "spirit of truth"!
A definition of "advisor" or "comforter" is in order. It comes from the Greek word paraklhtoV (parakletos). Vine defines it as follows.
"parakletos... lit., called to one's side, i.e., to one's aid, is primarily a verbal adjective, and suggests the capability or adaptability for giving aid. It was used in a court of justice to denote one who pleads another's cause, an intercessor, advocate, as in 1 John 2:1, of the Lord Jesus."64
Actually, many scholars believe that Vine misstates the "court" application. The function of the advisor in Roman Palestine was to advise a plaintiff or defendant in how to plead his or her case. The advisor did not plead the case or personally intercede, but rather gave legal advice.
This word can be proven to apply specifically to Jesus at least five times. The KJV translates it "Comforter" all four times in John (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). It then renders paraklhtoV "advocate" (which is closer to the true definition) in 1 John 2:1 and then identifies the "advocate" as the "Lord Jesus." That the "advisor" is Jesus in the form of the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" is easily demonstrated as Jesus teaches his envoys what would transpire after his death.
In John 14:9, Jesus tells them that if they have seen him they have seen the Father. In verse 11, he explains that he is in the Father and the Father is in him. This one verse explains how Jesus can also be referred to as the holy pneuma. The message of God that resided in him as the holy pneuma would soon be transferred to his envoys as "advisor" i.e., the "spirit (pneuma) of the truth."
In verse 12, he says that the proof of the Father being in him was the miracles that he had performed and if they trusted they would do even greater signs. In verse 16, he explains this coming power by promising them "another advisor" that would come and live with them continually. In verse 17, he identifies this "advisor" as the "spirit (pneuma) of truth." Read this verse in full.
... the spirit (pneuma) of truth -- which the creation cannot receive because it neither beholds it nor knows it. You know it because it is dwelling with you and will be in you (emphasis mine).
It is very important that you understand the full import of what Jesus is saying in this verse. First, he says that this "spirit (pneuma) of the truth" is already known to them. It was at the present time dwelling with them. It would be in them in the future. Let me reiterate. Jesus said they knew it already. It was dwelling with them and in the future would be in them.
In what way was the so-called third person of the "Godhead" known to them? The Jews, as already proven, knew nothing of a third person of God.
In what way was the so-called third person of the "Godhead" dwelling with them? The same objections apply and must be answered. And why was it necessary that Jesus go away for the so-called third person of the "Godhead" to come? If the "spirit of truth" is God, how can God be sent? God can neither be sent nor come since he is already omnipresent! And yet Jesus said exactly that as he continued to explain the nature of the "spirit (pneuma) of truth." in John 16:7.
But I am telling you the truth, it makes sense for you that I should go away. For if I don't go away, the advisor will not come to you, [but if I go, I will send it to you.]
These anomalies cannot be explained legitimately within the framework of Trinitarian theology. However, the view of one God and the "Anointed" Jesus as the "message made flesh" explains things well. As a matter of fact, we don't need to speculate that the "spirit of truth" is Jesus because he identifies himself as such in John 14:18. Immediately after saying that the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" was known by them, was with them, and would be in them, he tells them how by saying,
I won't leave you orphans: I am coming to you.
Who was coming to them? That's right! Jesus, the "I" of the above verse. How was he coming to them? That's right, as the "spirit (pneuma) of truth". It also explains why Jesus used the Greek word allon (literally another of the same kind) for "another" rather than the Greek word eteroV (heteros) which means another of a different kind, i.e., "another advisor."
And as you can also conclude, it makes no sense at all in light of Jesus being the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" that he was referring to a third person of Deity that was certainly unknown to the Jews to whom he was speaking!
On the contrary, this is how a "he" becomes an "it". This is how God lived in the son -- as the "message." The "spirit (pneuma) of truth" was known to them because Jesus was known to them! The "spirit (pneuma) of truth" was with them because Jesus was with them! And it was necessary for Jesus to go away in order for the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" to be in them because at the time Jesus was speaking the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" was in him!. You see, reader, the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" could not be in them while it was IN Jesus and with them in the person of Jesus! It only makes sense, doesn't it?
It was God's "message" personified in Jesus that would be carried on in his envoys. It was the revelation of the good news of salvation. It was the "mystery" revealed that was spoken of by Paul. It was the medium of god's influence in the name of the "Anointed Jesus" that would be resident in them. And as you can see below, both the Father and Jesus were represented in the "spirit (pneuma) of truth" that would return to live in them (John 14:23).
Jesus answered, saying to him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my message, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and will make a dwelling with him (emphasis mine).
The "spirit (pneuma) of truth" is seen by the above reference to include both the "Anointed Jesus" and the Father since what Jesus taught was that which he received from the Father. It was in this respect that Jesus became the holy pneuma.
This is also the probable reason that the phrase "spirit of truth" was coined at the time rather than simply using "holy spirit" which had been commonly used until then. In the future, the resident "holy spirit" would include not only the will of the Father but also the anointed, resurrected, glorified, and coronated Jesus. Thus, the coming "spirit of truth" included the united will of Father God and His accomplice and accomplisher Anointed Jesus. Therefore we see this demonstrated in the words of the Hebrews writer:
Continue to look intently at Jesus, the originator and completer of our trust. Who, in return for the joy that was placed before him endured a cross, taking no account of the shame. As a result, he has sat down at the right side of God's throne (Hebrews 12:2).
In this sense, therefore, it was the "completer of our trust" that was enthroned on God's right side that sent the "spirit of truth" to his envoys.
All allusions to the holy pneuma and the influence it had on the envoys and the New Testament ekklesia was foretold by Jesus. It would act as "advisor" to the envoys (John 14:18). It would "guide them into all truth" (John 16:13). It would convict the world of sin, righteousness and coming judgment (John 16:7). It would take from Jesus and reveal it to them (John 16:13). And it would "testify" of the "Anointed Jesus" (John 15:26). In all this, it is ultimately the power and influence of God through His "Anointed" that was alluded to. Paul drives this point home in 2 Cor. 3:17.
But the Lord is the spirit. Now where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Continuing this theme, "spirit (pneuma) of God" and "spirit (pneuma) of the Anointed" are also used interchangeably in Romans 8:9 as follows:
You are not fleshly but spiritual because the spirit (pneuma) of God dwells in you. If any one does not possess the spirit (pneuma) of the Anointed One, he is not of him.
In summing up this portion, the Medium of God's influence -- called variously "spirit of God", "holy breath", "holy spirit" and after the anointing of Jesus "advisor" and "spirit of truth" as well -- was resident in Jesus after his Anointing. After his death, Jesus sent it to reside in his envoys. The will of the Father is contained therein since the "message" was His from the beginning anyway. The Hebrew writer summed up the progression of this arrangement in Hebrews 1:1-2, previously alluded to:
In ancient times, in many parts and in many ways, God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets [through the ruach of God]. At the end of these days, he has spoken to us by a son [through the pneuma of truth], whom he placed as heir of all things and on account of he made the ages (emphasis and brackets mine).
It was this message residing in and spoken by the son through the holy pneuma that was later resident in the envoys and attested to by the power of holy pnuema that the Hebrew writer urges them not to drift away from:
For this reason, it is necessary to pay attention to the things which we heard lest we should drift away... This was first received through the Lord [through the pneuma of God] to be spoken by those who heard him [through the pneuma of truth]. It was confirmed for us with the co-testifying of God -- both by signs and wonders and by various powers and by distributions of holy breath (pneuma) -- according to what he wanted (Hebrews 2:1, 3-4, emphasis and brackets mine).
The above two scriptures cover the entire spectrum of God's MEDIUM in both the Old and New Testaments in prophesy and confirmation. In the subject under discussion, we see that God co-testified to the message of the Anointed through the use of His Medium, the holy pneuma.
The holy pneuma and the "Baptismal Family"
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make students of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all of the precepts I gave you; and look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:18-20).
As previously mentioned, the three main sections of scripture used by the Trinitarians to prove their contention that God is one and yet three persons are the "Advisor" scriptures of John 14-16, references to the "Spirit" in Romans 8:26-27, and the above quote of Matthew's "baptismal family."
The "great commission" is found in all three synoptic gospels and allusions are made to it in John as well. However, the sending forth of the envoys by Jesus recorded in Mark and Luke make no allusion to the "Godhead" family. Luke records Jesus' injunction to his envoys to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. The ending of Mark says,
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (NKJV, 16:15-16).
It is remarkable -- if Matthew and Mark are indeed parallels -- that the "baptismal family" was excluded by Mark. We do know that the "baptismal family" is also excluded in the first and all subsequent recorded baptisms. In Acts 2:38, Peter fulfilling the command of Jesus to baptize says this:
... Change your minds and be baptized in the name of Anointed Jesus into forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the holy breath (pneuma) (emphasis mine).
For some reason, Peter speaking through the holy pneuma, forgot to include the "Father" and the "Holy Spirit"! Now I realize that Peter's omission does not necessarily negate Matthew's "family" but it does raise interesting questions. Many textual Biblical scholars believe that Matthew's account is spurious viz, that it was added by a later Trinitarian. Before you discount that possibility, you need to be aware that there is ample proof that such things had happened before.
Trinitarians who still use the King James Version will often cite 1 John 5:7 in support of the Trinity doctrine. It reads as follows:
For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father; the Word; and the Holy Ghost. These three are one.
Supporters of the "Oneness" theology use it to support their beliefs, too. However, this verse is not found in ANY of the modern translations, and for good reason.
First, verse 7 is only found in a few late Greek minuscules, none of them earlier than the tenth century and most of them from the twelfth century or later. It does not appear in any early Greek manuscripts of 1st John. The passage occasionally appears in Old Latin manuscripts and even then is usually marked by an asterisk to indicate that it was added to the text. The Old Latin manuscript l includes verse 7 as a COMMENT, concluding, "These three are one in Christ." Manuscript l also has "son" (filius) instead of "word". In fact, it appears that manuscript I is the oldest extant manuscript containing verse 7; it dates from the seventh century. It is quoted by a couple of Latin church fathers before then as a COMMENT but none of them before the latter part of the fourth century. From its origins as a comment on the text, the verse was inserted later into Latin copies with the notation that it was an addition. Still later, it found its way into a few late Greek manuscripts and even in some of these, it is marked as a variant reading.
Secondly, although Clement and Origen quote from 1st John, they cite the passage without verse 7. No early church father quotes 1 John 5:7 as part of the text. In fact, during the great debates about the relationship of Jesus to God, neither 1 John 5:7 nor Matthew 28:19 is ever cited as support for the Trinity -- a sure indication that those passages were not part of the New Testament before the late fourth century. It is ludicrous to believe that Trinitarians would have failed to quote Matthew's "baptismal family" to bolster their view as they are prone to do today. Their failure to do so hints that they never had it at their disposal.
Our oldest extant manuscript of Matthew dates to the fourth century. However, the apostolic father and historian Eusebius quoted Mat. 28:18-20 several times in his letters which predate our oldest Matthew manuscript. In every instance Eusebius renders the text "baptize into my name" rather than "baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." What makes this argument even more palatable is the fact that Eusebius was a chief promoter of the "Holy Trinity" himself. His theology is the foundation on which the Nicene creed was built.
It is also interesting to note that the Shem-Tob Hebrew tradition of Matthew reads simply, "Go," for verse 19, i.e., "Go teach whatever precepts I gave you."
However, even if we exclude the above arguments for including the "baptismal family" in Matthew, the text in the "authorized version" does not prove Trinitarianism. No it doesn't! It would certainly not be fantastic to couple the Father and son "Anointed Jesus" together as a basis for baptism since salvation came through Jesus as the sacrifice of atonement -- the whole scheme having been inspired and brought to pass by one God and Father of all. It could not even be successfully argued that the holy pneuma couldn't be included within the basis for baptism since it was the MEDIUM by which the message came after Jesus returned to the Father.
In other words, all references in the "family" can be explained by the arguments already proffered in this thesis. With or without the Matthew text, the multitude of difficulties already attributed to the Trinitarian view still exist and yet are easily explainable within the framework of the "One God" theology stated heretofore.
The holy pneuma and "Spirit" of Romans Chapter 8
Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning that cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27, NKJV).
As previously mentioned, the above scripture forms the third main argument in the Trinitarian theology. We have, according to them, the third person of the "Godhead" interceding for the saints as they pray "with groanings that cannot be uttered."
Now I am willing to admit the difficulty of interpretation of these two verses as well as several other "Spirit" verses in this chapter. However, to teach that the "Holy Spirit" of God groans strikes me as ludicrous, especially if a person of the "Godhead." Is "God" actually groaning along with the "creation" of verse 22 and the "we" that possessed the firstfruits of the "Spirit" of verse 23? Or does it make more sense to opine that the one "groaning" in verse 26 is the same "we" that is groaning in verse 23? This would be a possible interpretation if you translated "Spirit Himself" as "spirit itself" or the "same spirit" which is also a valid rendering. In this case, the pneuma would refer to the human "spirit" that was "groaning." Daniels translates it like this:
Now in the same way also the spirit assists us with our weakness. For we don't know what to pray for (as it is necessary), but the same spirit appeals with unspoken groans. But the one who searches the hearts knows what is the attitude of the spirit, because it appeals according to God on behalf of holy people.
Also, Jesus is said to be the one interceding on behalf of the saints in verse 34. If the "Holy Spirit" is also interceding, then you have two intercessors rather than the one spoken of in 1 Timothy 2:5. If you can argue for two -- why not three, four, etceteras. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church argues just that. They say Mary is a Mediatrix and their liturgy includes a large number of prayers to departed saints. Careful examination of the text may help clear up these difficulties.
The Greek word pneuma appears at least 21 times in Romans 8, and the New King James Version capitalizes it 19 times. Do you get the idea that the translators were Trinitarians? In no other chapter does it appear so often and nowhere else is its use so diversified. I have listed the verses below from the NKJV and substituted the Greek to make it easier to examine:
||"For the law of the pneuma of life in Anointed Jesus.."
||"... do not walk according to the flesh but according to the pneuma."
||"For the mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the pneuma is life and peace."
||"For you are not in the flesh but in the pneuma."
||"... if indeed the pneuma of God lives in you."
||"Now if anyone does not have the pneuma of the Anointed."
||"... but the pneuma is life because of righteousness."
||"But if the pneuma of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you."
||"... but if by the pneuma you put to death the deed of the body."
||"For as many who are lead by the pneuma of God..."
||"For you did not receive the pneuma of bondage again to fear."
||"... but you have received the pneuma of adoption..."
||"The pneuma itself bears witness with our pneuma that we are children..."
||"Likewise the pneuma helps our weaknesses."
||"... but the pneuma itself makes intercession for us..."
||"Now he who searches the hearts know the mind of the pneuma..."
Whew! That's a lot of pneuma, don't you agree? It is also very confusing by my way of thinking, how about you? This is definitely a section of scripture that Peter was complaining of when he said that Paul's writings were sometimes difficult to understand. I think you will agree, also, that by capitalizing pneuma so often, the translators may have indeed helped to obscure Paul's meaning even more. This is true even if Trinitarianism is correct. Let's see if we can wade through this brain-twister together.
First of all, it is imperative to understand the context from which this chapter springs. The entire book of Romans is a discourse on the theme of "justification by faith." The justification process is in opposition to works, to law or law keeping since such a system requires flawless obedience. In Chapter 7, Paul relates to the reader that the law is dominant until a person is dead by using the metaphor of the married woman. He then suggests that the listener consider himself "dead to the law" through the body or flesh of the Anointed Jesus. He then parallels his own life while he lived under law.
In this instance, we have a God-fearing, righteous Jew struggling for righteousness but reaping the wages of sin which is death. At the end of this chapter he exclaims,
... who will rescue me from this body of death?
He then answers his own question,
Thanks to God through Anointed Jesus our Lord.
It is from this very thankfulness that the eighth chapter of Romans is the offspring. Paul launches in by contrasting the "law of sin and death" with the "law of the pneuma of life in Anointed Jesus." It is the latter that delivers the believer from "sin and death." It is this "law" that comes through the "Anointed Jesus" that appeals to the "spirit" of humanity -- especially the "spirit" of those similar individuals that strive for righteousness but always have the knowledge that their human efforts are not enough. This was Paul's problem in chapter 7 briefly mentioned. Instead of interpreting a capitalized "Spirit" to mean the third person of God, why not consider that pneuma here as the same "spirit of truth" and its continued influence that Jesus promised the envoys?
God said that He would put His laws in believers' minds and write them on their hearts in the New Covenant. He then promised that He would be a God to them and remember their sins no more (Hebrews 8:8ff). It was the presence of the "spirit of God" and the "spirit of Anointed Jesus" (rom 8:9) living in the human heart that liberty from sin existed. This is the message of Romans and the 8th chapter in particular. Without exegeting the whole chapter, suffice it to say that this is the background of verses 26-27.
A problem arises here though. It seems to me that the subject has been switched from the "spirit of truth" to the human spirit. The reason is simple. As previously mentioned, if you make pneuma equivalent to God, you make God a groaner. I can't see it. Also, you have God groaning things that he is unable to utter. This makes it worse.
On the other hand, if you make pneuma in this place the human "spirit", you make a difficult verse easier and maybe get it right as well. The pneuma in this place then would parallel the definition of "spirit" given by the American Heritage dictionary as follows:
"The part of a human being associated with the mind and feelings as distinguished from the physical body (7a)."
With the above definition in mind, lets see how it works in paraphrase.
And in like manner the human spirit also assists our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought; but our human spirit itself intercedes with unspoken groans. Now he (the Anointed Jesus or God) who is able to search the heart knows what the attitude of our human spirit is -- understanding the intent of our groaning -- as it intercedes on behalf of his holy ones according to the will of God.
Understand, reader, it is not just any human spirit that is groaning with unspoken words but the human spirit that is under the influence of the "sprit of the Anointed." The spirit who has embraced the good news of salvation by faith.
It is nice that even a few Trinitarian scholars agree with me. Wallace writes this:
"The context of the two verses indicate clearly that the groaning is done by the spirit of the one who is praying. The word groan is indicative of pain, either physical or mental, and there is no conceivable reason for the Holy Spirit to groan. Our own spirit groans with yearning which we cannot utter, cannot vocalize or put in words, when we pray: 'For we know not how to pray as we ought.'"65
The restorer Alexander Campbell, one of the finest Greek scholars on the American scene in the early 1800s remarked likewise:
"I say, then, the (human) spirit itself speaks for us to God; it intercedes for our deliverance by groans which cannot be expressed in words. for although our spirit groans under these bodily afflictions and infirmities, and cannot give utterance to its own desires; yet when patiently bearing these trials, its groans have a meaning which is understood. Yes, he who searches the heart knows what these groans mean."66
Wallace sums up the confusion of those that would capitalize pneuma in these verses quite succinctly.
"He who searches the heart and knows the mind of the Spirit is Christ, our intercessor -- he knows the mind of the spirit of the one who is praying... There is but one divine Intercessor -- Jesus Christ, not the Holy Spirit -- and the "exegesis" of this verse, which has the personal Holy Spirit operating within us, has God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit mixed up and confused with the human spirit."67
A proper understanding of verses 26 and 27, also lends richness to the next verse as Paul declares:
Now we know that God is working everything together for good: for those who love God; and for those who by design are called ones.
Now we can understand that the "everything" includes at least two intercessors. One is God's chosen intercessor, the Anointed Jesus and the other is the human spirit controlled by the influence of the "spirit of truth." Nothing but good could come from such a God ordained arrangement.
In summing up, I would again remind the reader that the various texts under discussion in this work must be interpreted in light of a person's basic premise or paradigm. Our prejudices not only effect our interpretation of the English translations but will be reflected in the translation, itself.
I realize that it is to revelation alone that we must turn to discover the nature and character of God. The intricacies of creation attest to God's power but tell us nothing of his love. Creation speaks nothing to the number of Gods extant. The Greeks worshipped many but Paul -- speaking by the "spirit of truth" -- told them there was only one (in Acts 17).
It is the scriptures that speak to us about monotheism. These same writings tell us repeatedly that there is only ONE God. Only through the theological attempts of men trying to explain figures of speech does one approach the concept of Trinity.
As Gentile Christians struggled to understand the writings about God made by Jews, they imposed their own Greco-Roman paradigms on what they were reading. Passages that were clear to Jewish readers became enigmas to the now-Gentile-dominated Christian community. The relationship of Jesus to God began to be viewed in light of various Greek philosophies, not the least of which was the philosophy of Plato. By the fourth century, a sizable number of viewpoints had developed, all of them clouded by Greek thought. A minority view, called the Trinity, gained the approval of Emperor Constantine and eventually became the only view sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The Trinitarian view claims that God exists in three persons while at the same time being one substance.
Here's where the problem lies. How does one explain that God is three in one? It is from this creed described by the Trinitarian catholic Cardinal Newman as "propositions so various, so notional, that but few can know them, and fewer can understand them" that the view has become entrenched.
Trinitarian theologians have done their job well as "Christianity" literally reverberates with the Trinity theme. It cannot be denied that the majority of us have been brainwashed from birth to accept the Trinitarian view of God. Whitelaw describes this fact well:
From childhood to grave, God's saints today are taught by pulpit, creed, and hymnbook the doctrine that the God of the Bible is a "Trinity" of infinite, co-eternal, co-equal Divine "Persons", yet at the same time One God... reinforced with such phrases as "God in Three Persons", "Triune God", "Blessed Trinity", along with hymns where all three are mentioned the idea is soon deeply rooted... "Where does the Bible explicitly teach it?" is rarely asked... 68
My five year old granddaughter, a kindergarten student at a Christian school for less than two months at this writing, has already explained the doctrine of "Holy Trinity" to me. She knows that it is true because her teacher told her so.
The reader can gather from this short work that our paradigms mean everything as they influence life's enigmas. The subject of the "Holy Trinity" is particularly conspicuous because it violates our common sense, thus creating legitimate questions regarding our credibility. The dilemma of true Christian witness is captured by the statement of Burtt as we conclude.
It is little use to preach against Modernism while we persist in preaching the very doctrine that drives men into Modernism. The Doctrine of Trinitarianism violates our common sense just as surely as does the doctrine of endless torture. And honest men not seeing a better way have gone away over to the rankest form of Unitarianism. 'But wisdom shows a better path -- with here and there a traveler.'69
Reader, your comments and criticisms are welcomed. I can be reached at: 5118 NW 24th Place
Gainesville, FL 32606
e-mail address: TheOxKing@aol.com
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, THE CHRISTIAN CALL, AND CARNAL WARFARE
|Other theses will be supplied on demand:
LAW, GRACE, AND THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
MEN WHO WOULD BE "KINGS"
MUZZLE THAT OX!!
1 Brantl, George, editor, Catholicism, George Braziller Publishing, 1962, page 164.
2 For a detailed look at this subject I refer the reader to my book entitled "Men Who Would Be 'Kings'".
3Op cit. Brantl, p. 162.
4Ibid, p. 167.
5Ibid, p. 167.
6Whitelaw, Robert L., Biblical Facts about the holy spirit and the true holy trinity, Grace Abounding Ministries, Inc., 1991, Introduction.
7Ibid, page 7.
8Ibid, page 4.
10David Lipscomb, 1930.
11Buzzard, Anthony, "Can Anyone Fit The Trinity Into John 17:3?", Part 2, Printed by the Restoration Fellowship, Box 100, Oregon, IL 61061, page 2.
12Ibid, page 1.
13Whitelaw, Robert L., A Trilogy on Trinitarianism, 1991, page 2.
14Ibid, page 3.
Whitelaw is incorrect in one respect. The KJV translators merely perpetuated the word godhead (used for "Trinity"); they did not invent it. The word existed in Middle English as least as far back as c. 1200 AD (The Owl and the Nightingale) and appears in translations prior to the KJV. By 1611, however, the word was being understood as "God in three persons," the trinitarian concept.
15Multimedia Encyclopedia, Version 1.5.
16Op. Cit., Buzzard, page not specified.
17"The Proposition , That Christ Is God, Proved To Be False," The Radical Reformation, Winter 1993, Article by Norton, Andrews, page 6.
18Ibid, page 13.
19Hunting, Charles and Buzzard, Anthony, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-inflicted Wound, available from Atlanta Bible College, Box 100,000, Morrow, GA 30260.
20Op. Cit., Norton, page 12.
21See footnote #4.
22Mosheim, De turbata per recentiores Platonicos Ecclesia Commentatio, section vi.
23I again refer the reader to my book entitled "Men Who Would Be Kings".
24Refer to my thesis entitled "Hell? No!" for a detailed study of this subject.
25The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volumes 3 & 4, Macmillan Publishing Company, NY, 1967, page 139.
26Ibid, pages 139-40. 27Docetism, Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1992.
29Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd Ed., Oxford University Press, 1972, p.35.
30Against Praxeus, I.
31Epiphanius, Against heresies, lxii. I.
32Basnage, Histoire des Juifs. Liv. IV. ch. iv, section 20, page 621.
33Documents of the Christian Church, p. 40.
34Knox, John, The Humanity and Divinity of Christ, p. 106.
35I refer the student to my thesis entitled Hell? No! for an in depth discussion on whether humans possess by nature immortality.
36Burtt, Milton C., Biblical Christology, Personally published by M. C. Burtt, Upper Keswick, N. B. Canada, p. 17.
37Vine, W.E., Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, vol. i, 1966, p. 58.
38Ibid., p 191.
39Ibid., vol. iv. set-z, p. 229.
40Op. Cit., Burtt, p. 10.
41Chase & Phillips, A New Introduction to Greek, Harvard University Press, 1961 Third Edition, p. 119.
42Wilson, Benjamin, The Emphatic Diaglott, reprinted by International Bible Students Association; Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn N.Y., 1942, p. 312.
43Op. Cit., Vine, p. 265.
44This general outline is taken from Milton Burtt's wonderful pamphlet on the subject under discussion and is highly recommended reading by this author.
45Op. Cit., Burtt, p. 7.
46Ibid., p. 14.
47Just a note here directed towards those who use the above verse to prove the pre-existence and "God incarnate" theology. If this prayer of Jesus refers to his pre-existence as God, then his prayer was never answered. The reader will remember that Jesus resurrected as a material being of "flesh and bones" and later at the "end" would become subject to the Father (1 Cor. 15:28).
48Whitelaw, Robert L., Can Creedal Trinitarianism Survive Matthew Chapter One?, p. 2.
49The American Heritage Dictionary, 1993.
50Gifford, The Incarnation, pp. 28, 36.
51Whitelaw, Robert L., August 1, 1993.
52Op. Cit., Vine, pp. 246-247.
53Ibid., Quote by Lightfoot.
54Op. Cit., Burtt, p. 23.
55Whitelaw, Robert L., "Part IV: About Twisting Scriptures", Resurrection, May-Oct., 1994, p. 5.
56Op. Cit., Vine, Vol. IV. Set - Z, p. 233.
57Op. Cit., Wilson, p. 871.
58Op. Cit., Burtt, pp. 28-29.
59Op. Cit., Whitelaw, Biblical Facts..., p. 1.
60Ibid., p. 21.
61Wallace, Foy E., The Mission And Medium Of The Holy Spirit, Richard Black Publisher, 1967, p. 5.
62Ibid, p. 68.
63Ibid, pp. 5-6.
64Op. Cit., Vine, vol. i, p. 207.
65Op. Cit., Wallace, p. 61.
66Ibid, p. 62.
67Ibid, pp. 61-2.
68Op. Cit, Whitelaw, Can Creedal..., page not referenced.
69Op. Cit., Burtt, p. 9.
This book © 1995; by John M. Bland. All rights reserved.
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